Sunday, December 19, 2010

What a nice surprise!

Jim's flock of chickens has provided a lot of entertainment and a lot of eggs throughout the time we've had them, but this morning, Jim found out that they managed to provide something else as well:

We have Wyandott and Aricauna hens for their eggs, but we have the Silkie chickens for their ability to hatch eggs. Most commercial laying hens have had the brooding instinct bred out of them, but not Silkies. They'll hatch not only their own eggs, but other hens' eggs, too. 

Although we didn't plan to have Silkie roosters, when we bought them, we didn't have a choice about their sex, and turns out we have two Silkie roosters. Jim tried to give them away, but there were no takers, so they got busy doing what roosters in a henhouse do. It wasn't long before a hen was sitting on a clutch of eggs and refusing to let Jim have them.

Over time, she lost control of the eggs somehow... either kicking them out of her nest accidentally or perhaps one of the other Silkies kicked them out when she got up to eat. Those were always sad finds for Jim.

But yesterday, Jim heard tiny peeping and today he found the source. He brought the little fuzzybutt into the house to show me and to take a quick photo. We wondered whether or not to keep him inside to make sure he gets enough water during the cold weather, but have decided to leave him with his mother for now and monitor him closely. Our temperatures have been well below zero lately, but the coop generally stays about 20 degrees warmer inside. If he needs to come inside, we're prepared, but we hope he can stay with his family.

Merry Cheepy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

James' Thanksgiving Visit

By the time Thanksgiving break rolled around, we were SO ready to have James back home. Jim, Moya and I headed to Anchorage on Saturday to do a little shopping before picking James up from the airport. The frosty, snowy trees glittering in the sun along the Sterling Highway that day perked our moods even further than they already were. Just outside of Anchorage, we saw our first dall sheep. I know they're fairly common but we'd never seen any live ones before, so that added to the fun.

On Sunday, with above-freezing temperatures in the forecast, we decided we'd better get the sleds out if we wanted to use them while the snow was still thick enough for good running. Jim and I have matching Mountainboy Sledworks Silverton kicksleds, and man, are they fun! But first, James had a hearty breakfast of a double-yolk fried egg sandwich. James was already back at school when Jim's hens started laying their eggs, so this was his first meal from our own coop. Now that we had him fed, it was time to play!

James is wearing his new Christmas coat and the shearling hat I made for him this past summer.

We like to take the sleds to the next street over and ride them down the hill. Our neighbor's dog, Rosie, followed us and wouldn't go home, so we played with her or around her, whichever applied at the moment.

James is (so far) the only one of us who's decided to see what happens when you run into the snow berm.

Most of the week was pretty laid back. We had a lovely dinner on Thanksgiving with turkey as a side dish and a standing rib roast as the main course. The next two days were the Peninsula Art Guild's holiday craft show. I'd signed up for a booth before I got the contract making slippers for the store in Anchorage, so I didn't have enough stock to fill the whole booth by myself, so my friends Patty and Helen shared the space with me. We did well, and have reserved the same space for next year. See my new banner? James made it for me!

Santa made an appearance at the craft show before heading to the Kenai Visitor's Center for his main event. As soon as I could show Helen how to use my camera, I chased him down the aisle and had my picture taken with him.

After the craft fair closed on Saturday evening, the three of us went to St. Elias Brewing Company for pizzas before James had to go back to school. This week went by much too fast!

One more photo with all the dogs before heading to the airport:

Three more weeks of school before James is home again for Christmas. We can't wait to have him back again for a longer visit!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Summer's final post

Soon I'll catch you up on the start of winter here, but I have a few pictures left over from summer to show you first.

Someone on the lake has a new sailboat. Preeetty.

We had some troublesome trees in our back yard - two cottonwood trees that were constant sources of messy yardwork, and a birch that was dead inside. The cottonwoods were to the left of the house when looking out the back windows (they're those two, close together, in the middle of this photo):

And the birch was almost straight out from the right corner of the back of the house.

Our firewood guy, Matt, came out and quickly dispatched the first of the two trees.

By the time he was ready to start on the second tree, the process had attracted some friendly neighborhood attention, with offers from neighbor Brad and his brother Gary to help tether the second tree to keep it from going down the slope with the first tree. Left to right, that's Brad, Matt, Jim and Gary.

Once the trees were down, Matt cut them into rounds and Jim hauled them away. Matt also cut down some tall stumps that were left behind by the previous owners. Then Jim tethered the birch and cut it down with Brad's help. With all the wood cleared away, the view out the back has opened up so nicely. I thought the yard would look so bare without those trees, but instead, it looks so much better. And Brad's already made me a new turned wood bowl out of the birch tree!

Here's the "after" pic showing where the cottonwoods used to be:

And an "after" pic of where the birch used to be.

That's it for today. Soon I hope to have more pics to show you of our first snowfall, new kicksleds, Jim's chickens, the dogs, and everyday life around our house.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Termination Dust Day!

I know what you're thinking - "termination dust" sounds like something that gives you a horrible disease, but it's not. Termination dust is the first light dusting of snow that tells us summer is really, truly over. Personally, I thought summer was over several weeks ago, but as of today, it's official.

The snow has already begun to melt, but here's what's left, as seen from the upstairs bathroom window:

This snow will be gone by the end of the day, but now we can expect more snow to come soon and actually stick round next time. I sure hope Santa brings me a kicksled for Christmas...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dan and Jonathan visit

Back in August (yes, I know, I'm very, very behind on my blog posts!), a friend of ours from back in our college days came to visit. Dan was teaching at BJU during the time Jim was a student there, and Jim worked for Dan for a while. About the time we moved out of the Greenville area, Dan's second child Jonathan was born. We saw him only once, I believe, until now. Dan brought Jonathan to Alaska on a father/son trip before Jonathan gets married this December.

I've never seen two people blitz the tourist attractions as devotedly and fervently as those two! Dan's quest for as much halibut as he could eat led them to some fine (and some, uh, local) dining establishments. They booked a halibut charter out of Homer and went salmon fishing on the Kenai River, both trips resulting in a nice big box of fish to take home with them. Hm, let me see if I can remember everything they did during the week they were here... They spent much of a day in Girdwood, seeing the resort and the skyway tram and the wildlife rehab center there; visited the chainsaw carver outside of Sterling; drove to Seward, hiked to the glacier, and went to the Sea Life Center; met up with friends-of-friends in Soldotna a couple of times; and took a flightseeing trip out of Anchorage.

I asked Dan for some photos he thought were memorable ones from his trip here, and these are the ones he chose.  This brown bear is at the wildlife rehab park. The animal Dan and Jonathan talked about most, though, was the porcupine. Or rather, the porcupine's stinky smell!

I'm surprised Jonathan was so easily distracted... He's engaged to a lovely girl, but one pretty face at the chainsaw carver's park could sway him so!  (click to enlarge)

Bears on the shore during their salmon fishing trip (enlarge this one, too):

 And of course, some crazy local people they encountered somewhere:

It sure was nice to see them again. We hope they come back soon, maybe this time for the Fur Rendezvous!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The end of summer was busy!

Hello there! Did you think I forgot about you? Um, well, I sort of did. But it's just because it's been so busy around here for the past couple months. Here, let me catch you up:

After Big Jim's visit, a college friend of ours came to visit with his son Jonathan (more on that in another post). They were here for a little more than a week, and it was so nice to see them again. 

We went to the gold panning club's claim on Crystal Creek to get some buckets of silt and dirt to sluice and pan at home. It was so lovely and lush out there, but far too mosquito-y for us to want to stay longer than we had to. Here, Jim shovels the dirt from the bank while James screens it:

James is panning:

And I'm just sitting on a fallen log hoping the bugs don't eat me entirely.

Might as well take James' picture, too.  teehee

We made a trip to Homer once the summer's unusually rainy weather cleared up enough on one of James' days off so that we could actually SEE Kachemak Bay rather than just see the rain clouds. We took Moya with us.

Moya's first time on the Homer Spit was basically just us trying to keep control of her while she pulled us all over. Moya loves the beach and going for walks and it's not easy steering a dog as strong as she is! We lost her dog tags somewhere on this beach.

Jim and James have a little Captain in them, haha, in front of the famous Salty Dawg Saloon on Homer Spit.

Just gorgeous. Just simply gorgeous.

My big summer project was helping James work on his Dagorhir costume for his college role play group. I think we did pretty well, considering that neither of us knew what we were doing but did it anyway. He's got several mix-and-match costume pieces now and he can dress according to his mood and the event he's attending. I love this picture:

The vest and boots were made with elk that was a gift from my brother. There's plenty of elk left for me to (if I have time) make myself an outfit to wear while manning my craft fair booth this fall.

A more Barbarian feel to this outfit... ghillies, and a belt made from a wolf leg and paw.

A close-up of the Awesome Boots of Awesomeness:

A close-up of the ghillies:

And, through the miracle of time travel, I can show you how James will look at his first Dagorhir event. He's the one in the brown tunic and elk boots, with his back to us.

We've been eating a lot of quail eggs this summer, too.

Before we knew it, our summer was over. James had to go on back to college, where he will expand his horizons and have a grand ol' time. Here we are at City Diner in Anchorage, having dinner before seeing him off to the airport:

Have a great semester, James. We'll see you at Thanksgiving! We love you!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Big Jim's Visit, Part 6: Finishing Up

The last few days of Big Jim's visit were pretty laid back, really... Sunday, he and Jim did some more fishing on the Kenai River, and Monday he helped us do some jobs around the house. We ate quail egg sandwiches and pancakes for breakfast, and salmon and steamed crab legs for dinner, and on Tuesday there was Kodiak scallops for lunch!

But also on Tuesday was Big Jim's flight back to Dallas. James had to say goodbye to his Gramps early in the morning before he left for work, but Jim and I got to be with him until the afternoon when he caught his flight out of the Kenai Municipal Airport (pictured below) to connect with his red-eye flight back home.

Thanks for coming to visit!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Jim's Visit, Part 5: Panning for gold

Saturday morning, as you know, was full of parade-y goodness. After the parade, I took Big Jim to see Northland Furs and meet Leon, then to do his souvenir shopping and get a burger, halibut and breaded mushrooms at the Burger Bus. James got off work and met us at Town of Living Trees to learn to sluice and pan for gold. Dirt from Crystal Creek is available, for a fee, to look through for gold. We thought it would be a good idea to have someone show us how it's properly done before we ever head out to the river to try it on our own. Here we are, operating the sluices:

Big Jim points out a fleck of gold caught in the ridges of the sluice box:

Jim feeds some silt and rocks through the sluice:

James sifts through his sluice. He was also lucky enough to find several nice quartz crystals in his bucket of dirt.

I finished sluicing my dirt first, and the instructor showed me how to pan the silt that was caught in the sluice filters. There wasn't any extra gold in my silt.

James didn't find any extra in his silt, either.

However, when Big Jim panned his silt...

... he found some more!

As did Jim:

Here's the findings. Okay, so you can't see what's in the vials, but there is gold in there. This is just a bad picture. There are 11 pieces of gold in my vial but they're all small and they settled to the bottom. We're not about to sell our finds and retire on the profits, but it was still entertaining. Thanks, Jim, for the fun new experience!

Of course while we were at the chainsaw carver's, I had to have a look around at the new carvings. There was a chainsaw carving competition here the previous week, and this is the winner:

Another entry was "Poodle Panic." The poodle's owner is using a flyswatter to defend it against the giant mosquito. 

SO CUTE. A saddled sea horse in progress.

I have a new friend. I think he likes me.  :^)

James seems to be having different luck with his new, uh, friend.

Once we got James out of the jail, we headed home for a supper of steamed crab legs followed by ice cream, and I have introduced Big Jim to the joys of Nutella straight out of the jar. Life is so good!