Chicken Blog by Natalie

Traveling Companions :: Two Hundred Ninety Six - Sat, 10/22/2016 - 05:00
Fort McClary, Kittery Point, Maine. 
Our last stop in Maine, before discovering we love Portsmouth, New Hampshire, too! One of the greatest pleasures of my life has been traveling with my children, and it's something I've been enjoying for more than twenty-five years, now. Whether with the four of them, or only one or two, I love their curiosity, their resilience and cooperativeness. I love sharing discoveries, getting excited about sights, learning, laughing. I love the engaged conversations, singing in the car, even the way we manage the bumps in the road along the way feels constructive, an opportunity for growth. While traveling, family dynamics, attitudes, and customs can become kind of distilled, everything close-up, apparent, and concentrated... the good, the messy, the challenging. And so, it's my happy observation that these traveling companions, and their brothers, Max and Alex, too, make me delighted to recall all of our adventures and eager to plan more trips to take together. {Geoff, you're in my thoughts and gratitude, too, of course. Every picture, every utterance... It's all for stories I look forward to sharing with you. Where next, Love?}
Picture a Day, with Infinity More Monkeys~

Pilgrimage to Bath :: Two Hundred Ninety Five - Fri, 10/21/2016 - 05:14
Bath, Maine. Our pilgrimage was a success. From the banks of the Kennebec River, passed the shipyards, and up and down Front Street, we were well pleased to be in Bath, Maine. We browsed in shops... The Mustard Seed Book Shop, Now You're Cooking, the Library Bookstore. We sent snapshots to Anna Banana... Make plans, Anne. Bath is beautiful. So are Wiscasset, Rockland, Camden. We love the driving, the coves, the little things we cannot find at home. 

On the drive home, through some rain, along dark and winding roads, Maria occupied herself going through the pictures on the phone, and chose these to share. Now, we are in Portland, again. Tucked into our nest. William is reading aloud, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. We heated cider with a dash of cinnamon. Happy, long and full day, with more good reflections to savor and muse over. 
A Picture a Day, with Infinity More Monkeys~

No Wrong Turns :: Two Hundred Ninety Four - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 18:06
When we found ourselves at the other end of a road that wasn't where we'd thought to go... We saw this pretty scene, among many others. Not lost. No. Just making unexpected discoveries, and good ones, too. Barter's Island Road.  

And all day long we went this way and that. And we were happily surprised all along the way. Falmouth. Freeport. Boothbay. Wiscasset. Edgecomb. Brunswick. Yarmouth. Foreside Road. Cumberland. Bath. Woolwich. Pretty names, pretty places. 

Even Further Abroad :: Two Hundred Ninety Three - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 18:11
Now Salem, New Hampshire, Maine! My impressions, pleasures and pictures, too, are far, far beyond my ability to express, to share, blogging from a phone. We are supremely happy, enjoying long stretches of beauty, and inspiration. Every moment worthwhile. A few more glimpses, before I nod off... 

Cozy Maine... We wish Geoff, Alex, Max, Chango, Foo, and Cairo were here. The goats and chickens can stay home... There's only one room!
A Picture a Day, with Infinity More Monkeys~ 

Darling Louisa :: Two Hundred Ninety Two - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 19:24
Louisa the Sicilian Buttercup is just about my most favoritest chicken in all of New England. She is not merely a friendly girl, she is delightfully social, charmingly engaging, and amusingly chatty. Her clucks are lilting, as soft as contented purring, and she ends her sentences in a tone that subtly suggests inquiry. She'd like to know... What are you doing "bup-bup-bup?" Did you find a tasty treat "bup-bup-bup?" Her dearest trait? Hairdressing! She's practically famous for landing on heads and shoulders to fix people's hair. And believe me, it's a kind of thrill to meet her wide-eyed gaze when she lands and begins to preen your head! I felt nothing but honored to enjoy her visit on my shoulders. 

We lost track of time, Lauren and I, kindred chicken sisters, walking, exploring, crafting and chatting, and being in a state of bliss over pets, children, lichens and moss, glue and string, laughter, dreams, and life.  Another blessedly beautiful day in New England. 
A Picture a Day, with Infinity More Monkeys~

Today, Plimouth :: Two Hundred Ninety One - Sun, 10/16/2016 - 19:06

The Mayflower II, Plimouth Plantation, and The Grist Mill, then the Miles Standish Burial Ground, to pay our respects to the children's great x ten grandparents, Priscilla Mullins Alden and John Alden.  A full day of history, reenactments, crafts and trades, and reverent appreciation of courage, cultures, human ingenuity, and natural beauty. We had both Jennifer and Ken with us, so our fun was increased greatly. Also, I ate a genuine Thanksgiving Dinner Sandwich at Plimouth Plantation. It was brilliant. 

Thanksgiving. Plimouth Plantation. Taúbotneanawáyean~  
A Picture a Day, with Infinity More Monkeys... The blog, and traveling companions. 


Make Way For Ducklings :: Two Hundred Ninety - Sat, 10/15/2016 - 18:46
In the Public Garden, where Robert McCloskey's darling book, Make Way For Ducklings, is honored. After reading this book to our four children, over twenty-five years... I felt like I was walking into the story. Only the swan boats were missing... Stowed away before wintry weather arrives, otherwise, these are just a few moments in a truly wonderful day. 

Picture a Day, with Infinity More Monkeys~ 

Hello, Boston :: Two Hundred Eighty Nine - Fri, 10/14/2016 - 19:05
It looks old and busy and charming. We saw the Charles River and little islands. We rode under the harbor. Worcester is Woost-a. The moon rose between tall buildings, and almost full, it's shining overhead. We can see our breath in the night air, fallen leaves are everywhere. From the plane the world looked splashed in swaths and laced trails of brilliant orange. And I can only begin to describe the warmth and grace of our hosts, their home, the way it feels to be here... Magical and comfortable, familiar and good. Can you tell I'm breathless with... with, what's the word? I feel excited and eager and relieved and very much like a lucky winner. A lucky, lucky winner. 

Black and White and Pink :: Two Hundred Eighty Eight - Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:25
We agree, Cairo is black, and white, and pink. But what color are his eyes? Geoff decided that the Boop's eyes are amber. I've been saying kitty has eyes the color of honey mustard. Ah!, but in these pictures I detect a hint of pale, luminous green around his pupils.

{A comma following an exclamation mark? I know. It's not proper, but I can't remove it. I rather fancy the tone it imbues and I feel grammatically wanton.}

Do you know who else is shameless and disreputable? This furry fellow with amber-honeyed green eyes! He absconds with my yarn, and builds elaborate webs across our entry. Someday, he'll catch something in his haphazard net, but for now, he's only catching recriminations.

He has no idea he is a wanton and willful beast. He is only his own self, a Boop. He carries plush mousy toys in his mouth, follows birds from the screened porch, kneads and nuzzles necks, greets guests with sleepy eyes and a meow that sounds like a pip or a chirp. He tumbles over Chango, and crashes into Foo. He tries to fit into squeezy spaces, and misses his landing, but he looks awfully adorable making the attempt. He sleeps on his back, which is the most adorable of all things, because it shows there is still trust, faith, and confidence in the world. No cynicism or jaded impressions have taken root in his heart. So, languid and secure, he stretches out, the softest bits exposed and at ease. He purrs, his breath rises and falls, hypnotically. He is black, and white, and pink, and every shade of beloved.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Little Farm & Musings :: Two Hundred Eighty Seven - Wed, 10/12/2016 - 12:23
All is well on the little farm. Some of the hens have begun a molt. The ground is a bed of leaves, pine needles and feathers. It looks like an artists' canvas, a romantic fabric print. Fiona has been requesting quiet time, away from the flock. I think she's been feeling under the weather, and it makes me anxious when a hen is unwell, but sometimes the very best thing that can be done for them is to give them what they seek... space, time, some extra attentive care. I've been letting her enjoy private dust baths, longer visits beneath the bamboo, and thankfully she is looking brighter, pluckier.

The goats won't molt, but I will start watching them for signs of a cold winter. Tasha's beard may grow longer! Ada grows an extra coat of wooly fluff beneath her corse hair. Maria once brushed out enough wool to collect, and then she combed it to separate the roving wool from the straight hairs. With the long hairs she made a paint brush, and the she felted the wool! It was a funny brush, and a very small piece of felt, but a fine experiment for a young girl on a little farm.

Since joining Instagram, I've found where many of the bloggers I used to follow disappeared to, and discovered that keeping chickens, and goats is practically synonymous with the app. In spite of my years at this pastime, with my infatuation, upon browsing the hundreds and hundreds of postings, I feel like an utter chicken novice, again. And too, I cannot deny, I feel a bit long in the tooth, redundant. My goodness there are a lot of gifted, talented, hard-working, prolific people sharing their dishes, their art, their musings, their stitches and yarns, fallen leaves, and chickens! I never fancied myself a 'standout,' but it does feel rather silly to go prattling on, when it's all so eloquently, vividly covered, already.

Three-hundred and sixty-five minus two-hundred and eighty-seven equals seventy-eight. A Picture a Day has been a happy project, and I don't mind seeing it through to the end. After that... we'll see. Maybe the new year will be for 'A Picture a Week.' Maybe I will pursue something all together new.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

In the Hall, On the Wall :: Two Hundred Eighty Six - Tue, 10/11/2016 - 10:07
Looking at the things I pass everyday, many times a day. Just one spot of our funny, dear, busy, comfortable, sheltering, creative, generous home.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Green Beans :: Two Hundred Eighty Five - Mon, 10/10/2016 - 10:03
The light is fading, as we would expect in Autumn, but there is still enough heat for the green beans, the eggplant, too. Not a lot to harvest, but I think we can make up a good dinner, and that will be nice.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Haunting :: Two Hundred Eighty Four - Sun, 10/09/2016 - 10:18
The tree in Bambi's yard has been haunted. Sculpted beings, wrapped, illuminated, are inverted and suspended. Alex can make striking figures with a spool of wire.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Mini Making :: Two Hundred Eighty Three - Sat, 10/08/2016 - 15:51
Sometimes we make great towering things, like a Laputa robot, or a pneumatic tentacle robot. Sometimes we make mini-mini things, like apothecary jars... Love Potion #7, Snow Dragon Scales, Mummy Dust. Today Maria was in a miniature land, making little bottles of this and that, and binding a teeny spell book, too.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Friday Favorite :: Two Hundred Eighty Two - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 12:34
We have a routine, and it makes Friday a favorite day of the week. Max and I meet for breakfast, in the commons. His last class of the day ends early enough for me to get to campus after Maria is dropped off. Then he shares Calculus and physics with me, all the way home. Max is a remarkable teacher, and I love our ride together. Centripetal acceleration, Newton's laws, defining vector lines and a point in a three dimensional world, even physics puns.

And congee, which for me is like arroz con pollo, especially with the cilantro sprinkled on top. Congee, and Calculus, physics, and Max... my new favorite way to start the weekend.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Oh Woe, Dryer Blues :: Two Hundred Eighty One - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 08:18
It's official... not only will our dryer not ignite and heat, but it has at least four other fatal flaws threatening its very existence.

Dear, old dryer of unknown origin, we salute you. Thank you for drying wet clothes, for making a horrid, but instructive buzzing sound. We forgive your haunting rattle, a symptom of your condition, as was the high pitched whistle. Sorry, we didn't notice your loose hinge... I thought you just preferred having your door shut with extra emphasis and effort. Your broken lint filter was never a barrier to my appreciation of your gifts to us. Today, you move to the carport, so our neighbors can pay their last respects, for an indeterminate time. You may become a robot, or an art piece, or a combination counter space and cat shelter, but only incidentally, because we don't have a truck to haul you away. Rust in peace.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Portland to Portland - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 11:04
It seems like only last week we were in Portland. Portland, Oregon. Maria and I filled up a whole week with really wonderful Northwest adventures, family time, and city trekking. And like I say, it feels like all of this was just last week, and next week... next week we will be in Portland, again! Portland, Maine! And Boston. And Concord. And Salem, and points between!

This is a dream coming true, years in the making, with an added, generous boost from Ruth. And when William heard my plans, he sighed so wistfully, I had to see if we could add a ticket. Don't you love it when, otherwise complicated, plans work out smoothly? That's how this trip has been coming together... smoothly, and full of promise for some truly exceptional experiences and opportunities. We've had terrific luck with timing, reservations, with the warmth and kindness of friends... Jennifer, Lauren! It seems the path is wide open for a wonderful adventure.

Normally, I don't like to advertise our plans, but the Northeast is all new territory for us, and I keep thinking how insightful and helpful my friends are, how many good tips we might miss if we don't say something now. We will see Concord, and the Granary Burying Grounds, and we've read about the Peabody Museum. We hope to see Plymouth, the Miles Standish Cemetery. We would be remiss if we didn't catch some historic sites of the American Revolution, I know. Am I missing something in New Hampshire? We drive through when we go to Portland. Are there Maine stops it would be a tragedy to skip? I'm thinking of stopping at Fort William's Park, Maine, and finding a farm where we can eat local noms!

Portland, Oregon gave us such a promising glimpse of Autumn colors, and now I am pinching myself, thinking this is only a dream... we are actually going to see New England in the fall! For a month I've had Boston and Portland added to my weather app, and I check it twice a day. The closer we get to our departure day, the more gleeful I feel. The temperatures are dropping! We are going to freeze, but happily! I have no sense proportion... I feel seriously compelled to write notes to myself: Do not pack flip flops (standard daily wear, year-round). Do bring a real coat (So Cal hoodie is not a coat.) What about gloves? Long underwear? I cannot say that I've stopped wishing for snow, even though snow would be crazy on a lot of different levels. I cannot say that I haven't stopped imagining that we get snowed-in, no flights going west, but miraculously, Geoff, Alex, Max, and Bambi can come to us, so we have a white Christmas together, and snowshoe through the woods. It's true, I can make fabulous trips, in my mind.

As for reality, we have plane tickets, and places to stay. We have reservations for a visit to Orchard House. Maria is reading Little Women, and just finished Once Upon a Flock, a gem of a book, with New England color, and plucky hens! Remind me to find our copy of Make Way For Ducklings. It's the one book about Boston that I feel most familiar with, and I keep meaning to brush-up. Should we get on a ferry from Portland, visit an island? Is it true that apple cider donuts are very yummy? How could they not be? I can't wait to compare all that I have imagined with all that we see and do.

Here's a personal bit... ever since I was about ten years old I had strong notions, and yearnings to visit three places: Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Maine. Wisconsin and Hawaii became significant and dear destinations for me, with strong ties and meaningful connections. I've known, for nearly forty years, that someday I would love to, have to, visit Maine, New England, the Northeast, and I feel lucky and stirred to be about to fulfill this dream. Maria, William, and I are counting the days, and full of wonder.

Today Feels Like Fall :: Two Hundred Eighty - Wed, 10/05/2016 - 05:30
Our Mediterranean climate is mild, lovely for year-round gardening, and even winter beach days, but when it comes to finding changes of season... well, we have to look more closely, appreciate the subtlety, and savor the moments, which may be quite fleeting. Today feels like fall. The market had this display, and the air was cool enough, breezy, too, so that I sighed nostalgically at the sight, recalling my childhood and the sheer thrill of seeing pumpkins, gourds, pretty corn, and funny squashes. It recalls caramel apples, and apple cider, the imminent arrival of adored holidays, treats, celebrations, and comforting home traditions. Here come jack-o-lanterns, roasted pumpkin seeds, candle light, moonlight, long nights, shadows, the call of owls, an extra layer of something soft on the bed, socks on morning floors, hoping for rain, looking for colors in the trees. Tomorrow it may heat up, again, we may feel a wistful longing to go out in search of a maple forest... but today, we can feel fall, close to home.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

And close to home, we brought fall into the chicken run. Leaves and pine needles, all swept up and tossed in a heap for the goats to chomp and the chickens to rummage through. Our direct mulch-compost system has been a brilliant success. The farm yard gets a no-cost ground cover and nesting material, and eventually, the garden will be supplemented with a lovely amendment.

Ta-da! I am so tickled about this layout app I added to my phone, and this, plus our new Instagram account, has me fairly giddy with delight! I am slow to the party, I realize, but I am enjoying the fun.

Cosmos in the Garden :: Two Hundred Seventy Nine - Tue, 10/04/2016 - 08:53
the universe seen as a well-ordered whole.

an ornamental plant of the daisy family with single dahlialike flowers. Native to tropical America, it is widely grown as an ornamental

I love how simple a definition can make something seem, and how vastly complex the reality can be.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Benevolent Order of Makers :: Two Hundred Seventy Eight - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 06:12
Back Row: William, Amira, Geoff, Alex, Maria~
Front Row: Grant, Paul, Janece, Natalie

That's a wrap! We asked our friend, Mike, to take a picture, before we loaded robots, and gear. Maker Faire San Diego, two days of sharing some of what we do, is over. Max was a big help, too, on Saturday. The days are long, busy, full, exhilarating, engaging, and we always leave with new ideas, new plans, new friends, and excited for next time.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.