Life, Love, and Life-Changing with Lessons


Spoiled brat.

Glory Bee, waiting to be milked. I tried to tell her the time changed and I’m really not late if it was yesterday. Right?

Several people have asked about Rodney. I don’t like to go into a ton of detail for the sake of his privacy, but I can give you an update, and thank you for asking! Some of you may remember that in June of last year he had a very bad vehicle accident while driving a work truck. He was in ICU for a week, and in total, was in the hospital for over a month. That incident, and subsequent recovery, explains a lot of my absence here. I was at the hospital every single day, and since he got out of the hospital, there have been a lot of doctor visits and therapy appointments, and so on. Needless to say, this was the most important thing in my life. Taking care of him, and helping him to recover. Almost nine months later, while his life will never be exactly the same as before the accident, he is certainly doing better. He’s walking, getting around, etc. He hasn’t been able to go back to work, but fortunately has been well taken care of by workers comp.

It was definitely a life-changing accident in a lot of ways, for both of us. It was hard for me to find time to squeeze in work, for a long time, much less anything else. Then just as things began settling down, the holidays and mass orders hit. I was working ’round the clock. As this early spring comes on, things are finally settling down all around. Etsy does keep busy all the time (thank goodness! visit my shop!), and I’ve been milking Glory Bee these days and starting to enjoy actual free time. I hadn’t had any free time in so long, I didn’t know what to do with it, but it seemed like a good time to rest. I decided to learn how to sit down and do nothing, at least on the weekends when I’m not baking and shipping.

I figured out how to use Netflix (I know, I’m so behind the times because I’ve hardly ever had time to watch TV for years) and forced myself to start binge watching just to keep my feet off the floor. I watched all the Grace & Frankie seasons then Rodney and I discovered Longmire and watched every season of that. I told Morgan I’d watched an entire series in three weeks and she said, “Three weeks to finish a series is weak sauce, mom. You gotta finish it in under week if you want to keep up with the millenials.” She was not impressed! That was a lot of TV for me, though. Then we watched all of Hell on Wheels in two weeks. Though I think I still can’t keep up with millennial-style binge watching, I’m doing better at doing nothing. By the way, I highly recommend all three of those shows–very binge-worthy–and if you have any to recommend, let me know!

Eventually, though, I decided it was time to get off the couch. And back to the computer. Find out if I still knew how to write. A few other quick updates—Morgan will graduate this spring with degrees in English and History, and has been accepted into the direct-admit PhD program (in History) at WVU. (She is such a smartypants!) Ross is still going to WVU, too, and Weston gets out of the Army in two months, yay!!! I’m not sure where he’s going, but he will also be going back to college. Thank you for asking about them, also!

There are other changes I’ll be writing about soon. Another reason for my increasing absence here has been my Too Many Jobs problem. Several years ago I added workshops in addition to writing. Then I added my Etsy shop job. How many jobs can one person do (and do well)? Not three, I’m pretty sure. Last summer and fall, in particular, it became very difficult to keep up. Something had to go. With orders pouring in, workshops already scheduled, and a crucial need for my time and attention at home with Rodney, writing was what had to go. While things have settled down in that situation as his recovery has gone on, we made a number of decisions about our life together and our future. A life-altering event tends to help you re-evaluate everything, you know? While I may offer workshops again, either private workshops or regular scheduled ones, for now, I’ve decided to set workshops aside to focus on my Etsy shop and get back to writing. I need to cut down the number of jobs I’m trying to work in order to give my best to the jobs I choose to continue. Through all this, and nearly losing someone I love, I also was reminded that it’s important to leave yourself some time in your life to just enjoy it. Life can change in an instant. Take time to binge watch with the one you love.

Meanwhile, I’d really like to be a writer again!

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Of Chickens and Ducks and Eggs


Whenever I order chicks from the hatchery, they send a free “exotic” chick. You can say no to the free chick, which I try to tell myself I should do but I never listen to me because who can turn down a free chick? Yet I know the chick is always going to be a rooster, because you know those are the ones where they end up with extras and they’re just using the free chick gimmick as handy baby roo dumping. I ordered a batch of chicks (and ducklings) last October and this is one free roo dump I’m really enjoying.

Took me a while to figure this bad boy out, but he’s a Salmon Faverolle rooster.

What a gorgeous rooster! I love him. I love him so much I’m going to get some Salmon Faverolle girls to go with him. Not that there aren’t plenty of other girls to go around.

One of my favorite new-to-me breeds is Speckled Sussex. This is such a pretty hen.

She lives up to her speckled name.

Another beauty is this Silver Spangled Hamburg.

These are on the small size, but they’re not bantams. They’re just a standard size lightweight breed.

Here she is behind one of my Golden Laced Wyandottes.

The only rooster I have right now (besides the young Salmon Faverolle) is my Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster.

He’s a pretty boy. I’m thinking about grabbing him and a couple of the Golden Laced Wyandotte girls and shutting them up in a barn stall to lay some babies for me.

First I have to accomplish catching them…. Meanwhile, here are some of the new ducks I got last fall, all grown up.

I had some Pekins, Khaki Campbells, and Blue Swedish already.

I wanted more Blue Swedish, but I also wanted some Black Swedish (they’re the ones with the white fronts, just like the Blue Swedish only black) and Cayugas (all black).

I think I have enough ducks. I better stop.

The ducks went layin’-crazy in February when it was oddly warm. Ducks lay quite a bit first thing in the spring, then they lay off (literally) after that until fall when they go through another brief laying spurt, so they’re not quite as dependable for eggs as chickens, who will lay virtually year-round except for molting and winter–though if you have enough chickens, some of them are always laying at some point even when the others quit. They take turns better than ducks. The ducks are all at it, then they all quit.

I’ve found people can have some really strong opinions about duck eggs. They either love ’em or they hate ’em. (Not Pepper–she loves them all.) Duck eggs are huge. I use special jumbo cartons.

Chicken eggs are in the cute little vintage-style carton, duck eggs in the jumbo.

Duck eggs:

Chicken eggs:

Duck egg vs chicken egg:

They look different inside, too. Cracked open–chicken egg on the left, duck egg on the right:

Notice that the duck egg white is, well, whiter.

Duck eggs are richer and sturdier than chicken eggs, and a brighter, deeper orange in the yolk. Store eggs, for example, are more of a yellowy color in the yolk. They’re old eggs, plus it’s how the chickens are fed in confinement. Fresh chicken eggs have a brighter yellow-orange yolk. But duck egg yolks are a really bright, deep orange, even more so than fresh chicken eggs. The yolks are sturdier meaning if you want to break up the yolk, it’s not like you need a steak knife, but there’s a different feeling to it, they just resist breaking more than a chicken egg does. And they’re very rich, so they’re great for baking. I also just like to eat them, fried in a pan. And they’re bigger, of course. But, you use them just like chicken eggs, so not like a huge difference, these are just small but noticeable differences between them and a chicken egg. There’s not a huge difference in taste (to me!), but there’s a small difference, from the richness. I love duck eggs.

Many people do notice a difference in taste to them, though, and some people find duck eggs offensive. Maybe they have a slightly stronger taste. Maybe I’m just used to them and don’t notice. Duck eggs do have more fat, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids than chicken eggs, and sometime people who are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs. And sometimes it’s the other way around, too!

And then there are people who are just grossed out by the idea of eating a duck egg because it sounds kind of foreign and weird, like you suggested they try some fried bat.

Me, I’m always sad when “duck egg season” is over in the spring. When it turned cold again in March, the ducks cut back on the laying, but I’m hoping they’ll have another burst before they’re done for the spring.

More of the young hens: Single Comb Brown Leghorn on the left, Buff Orpington on the right.

Then it’s back to the chickens for year-round duty.

They’re such good workers!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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