Monday, August 31, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
When I first started researching the idea of keeping chickens as pets, everything I gathered indicated that chickens will eat just about anything, the exception being raw potatoes. I assumed that the chickens and the dog would be able to share in leftovers and the chickens would benefit from the items that normally are dumped in the compost pile (affectionately referred to as "the landfill"). Chardonnay the dog continues to eat most everything in front of her, but the chickens are actually picky.
I chopped up some overly-ripe strawberries the other day to serve our little pullets and cockerel. They came to me expectedly, looking for the handout my presence is associated with. I tossed the berries on the grass and got "the look". Since birds' eyes are on either side of their heads, they have to turn their head to look directly at something. In this case, one eye on the strawberry and the other on me. It was clearly a "What the Cluck?" expression as in "you expect me to eat that?" My chickens don't like strawberries or tomatoes or several other things you'd think they would like. Their favorite menu items are pasta and eggs. The eggs can be boiled, fried, scrambled, whatever. My birds are into recycling apparently. They do love seafood. I'm sure they would eat chicken too, but we're not even going to try it….it just seems wrong.
I haven't eaten red meat or pork since 1984. Blame the research I did for an argumentative speech at Ithaca College on laboratory animals. When you discover the truth behind scientific research practices on lab animals, you also learn about factory farming. I swore off all meat except for seafood. I ate turkey only on Thanksgiving and Christmas day for several years as my one cheat. I finally added poultry back into my diet when my first child started eating table food, mainly to make it easier to feed him. Now that I have chickens, I still eat poultry, but with more misgivings. Soon after we moved the chicks outside into their coop, Jay and I were out there watching them. He asked that loaded question, "What's for dinner?" This was one of the few times I'd actually given some thought to dinner preparation, but I felt self-conscience about saying it out loud, in front of my new pets. So I spelled it, "C-H-I-C-K-E-N".
Friday, August 14, 2009
What does this mean, you ask? This means that out of the top 20 scoring unaltered adult cats (called the Champion class), Mickey was in 11th place of all the cat breeds in the Northeast Region. The Allbreed classification is further divided into longhaired and shorthaired breeds. Of the longhaired breeds, Mickey was 4th Best in our region. Either way, he earned the right to have the initials RW (Regional Winner) in front of his name to go along with the SGC for Supreme Grand Champion. There’s a lot more I could explain on cat shows, titles, etc., but I sense the eyeballs are already rolling with TMI (that’s Too Much Information).
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The middle generation:
The tradition is and has been for us to get together at Thanksgiving at somebody's house, eat a lot, see a movie and sing Christmas carols until we drop (or we convince Paul to stop). However, it's not always been possible for everyone to travel at that time. Having grown up as a child from a "broken home", I didn't fully appreciate the lengths my parents went to in order to have our family get-togethers until I was older. If my dad and step-mom, June, were hosting a holiday gathering with us children, my mother and step-father, John, were always invited and vice versa. So although my parents, Joel and Ruth, haven't been married to each other since I was nine-years-old, they are truly friends and accepting of the other's spouses. I'm sure this has caused angst between them at various times, but they have somehow worked it out internally for the benefit of everyone.
John, Mom, Weston, Tyler, Paris, Kelsey, Dad and June with a rainbow backdrop
Four years ago, my dad proposed the idea of renting a house at the beach for a week in the summer where we'd all gather without the pressure of holiday travel and getting back to work/school after just 2-3 days together. Thus, Camp Stegall was born. He found a house with its own swimming pool, a block from the beach in Garden City, South Carolina (about 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach). It is fully furnished, very upscale, with 6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms and 2 kitchens. Each bedroom has a full bathroom. Mom and John stay at a hotel or camp nearby, spending the day and dinners with the kids and grandkids. Dad and June foot most of the rental bill and bring most of the staples - food, soap, linens, etc. So although we have to cook for ourselves (each family has its designated night to prepare dinner for everyone), and may become tired of each other after awhile, it's our vacation. Hey, anytime I don't have to deal with pet hair, feed or clean up after cats is a vacation for me.
Dad and his famous nose immortalized on a travel mug for Camp Stegall III in 2008
This year, most of us visited Brook Green Gardens together, a beautiful area filled with statues and flowers. Definitely a nice place to visit, but the 90-plus temperatures and high humidity were draining. Go in the spring if you get the chance to visit.
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC