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The Train to Zagreb

Huge and modern Prague Train Station For the second time this trip, we caught a train. This time we headed for Zagreb in Croatia.  W...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Totally Unnecessary Egg Tally for March

I am so proud. Little brat Babette is now laying an egg nearly every time she very much feels like it.


Sweet bit of work these are, eh?

Here is the tally: For the Month of March - their egg laying careers began March 1 - they put out 62 eggs! They laid a bit more than 5 dozen eggs, averaging 13.5 eggs per week. Well I'm impressed. No wonder they kick up such a fuss when they lay an egg.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Visit to Meridian Ranch - Where Spots in Front of Your Eyes is a GOOD Thing

After a fairly inactive weekend - for me that is, as Barbara was worn to a frazzle from her classes - we paid a visit to Meridian Ranch. Barbara got a kick out of Robin's newly remodeled workshop/sales room and the new workshop entrance. We settled ourselves comfortably in Robin's workshop and watched while industrious Robin carded wool. I have always said, and believe me it is the truth, that Robin does more by 9 AM than the U.S. Army accomplishes in a given week. Bees could take a lesson in 'busy' from Robin.

While we chatted Robin carded wool

Spots and Dots Animated on the New Spring Lambs

After a long chat, we headed out to the pastures to visit this year's new crop of lambs. The birthing is mostly complete for the entire flock, so there were no lambs in stalls for snuggling, but we had fun watching the little critters, under the watchful eyes of their Mams.

Country Drive

Chez Claire entertained 2 weekends in a row. This week's special guest being Barbara. She drove up Friday night for weekend Biofeedback classes on Saturday and Sunday. Both mornings Barbara was up and out the door early so I mostly did my own thing. I hit my local Farmer's Market, which moved to a new location, farther from my house about a month ago.

I was totally bummed about the move at first, but the new market is much larger and hosts a greater variety of vendors. I wandered along the central walkway and my eyes bugged - drum roll please - there is a booth selling frozen, local, grass fed beef! They sell lots of different cuts, ground, filet mignon, flank and tri-tips and short ribs.

True, the fancy meat is slightly more expensive, but I eat less beef these days and when I do eat it, I appreciate knowing my meal had lazy days chewing the cud in a pretty pasture and was not traumatized on death-day. Shucks, that's all I ask for myself actually.

After the Farmer's Market I headed up Sunrise Road. As I drove along Meiss Road, I saw the earliest of Spring wildflowers and the birds that are just returned from their summer vacations. I found Tricolor Blackbirds and soaring Rough-legged Hawks - un-cooperative for photos. Happily, I found photogenic Cliff Swallows at a muddy ditch. The birds busily collected mouthfulls of mud for their clay nests.

Their muddy mouthfulls look ghastly, but they haven't
access to Home Depot for their homebuilding needs


That was a lovely short outing. Later that evening when Barbara came home we chatted over a fish & chips dinner at Tugboats. Life is Good.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What's Worth Getting Up for on a Sunday

Ah Sunday! My hens object to my sleeping in on weekends so I was up early which is a good thing. When Joann visits me we go to an early mass at St. Michaels Catholic Church. I'm a derelict, heathen Catholic, who never sees the inside of a church unless my buddy drags me there, escorts me there kicking & screaming. After church eschewing our tradtional visit to the Sunday buffet at Marie Callendars we went for a somewhat smaller breaking of our fast at Coco's for blueberry pancakes & coffee all around. Oh yum...

Worth Getting Up for on a Sunday

It being a Sunday and all, we went for a Sunday drive. It's amazingly only about an hour southeast of my house. So off we went, guided by GPSs ('cause I sure as hell didn't know the way) and along the way enjoyed the sights, weaving through the foothills on the country backroads.

Some country homes prefer stuff more exciting
than pink flamingos in their front yard

If I were that cougar I'd leave the big sucker alone


Took as hour to reach our goal, Indian Grinding Rock State Park. We started off in the the Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum, chatting with the ranger 'bout this n' that but then we were off for a walk. Why spend time indoors with so many nifty things to see on a sunny Spring day?

The Regional Museum

The Roundhouse is beautiful, and still functions as a meeting place for area Indians to have Big Time celebrations.

Behold - Joann and the Roundhouse

I've never been to see the dances at the Roundhouse but some day I hope to give it a visit and maybe even join in on a dance.

Inside the Roundhouse

Along the path through the park there is a Miwok Indian Village that is used for primitive camping by different groups. Wish the heck I had to opportunity to try camping in such an inspirational setting.

Fragrant Cedar Bark Houses

The meadow adjacent to the Miwok Houses was dotted with tiny blue and white flowers, Baby Blue Eyes.

Baby Blue Eyes dotted the meadow

Ah! What a beautiful day - had a scenic, flower strewn drive home, though every drive in the Gold Country foothills is a scenic drive.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chez Claire Entertains

This weekend my San Diego buddy Joann was up for a visit after baby sitting her 5 month old granddaughter Mckayla.

Early on we decided to make it a take-it-easy weekend - hey, it's what we do best, you know? Joann was kind enough to accompany me on some overdue errands, like picking up chicken chow. the way to the feed store - on the heel spur of the moment so to speak - we were sidetracked. Ended up at the local nail parlour; Joann's treat for both of us (do I know how to pick my friends or what?). We had a nice soak in the big foot toilets (I don't think that is what the spa specialists call the thingmabobs), followed up by scrubs, lotions, oil messages, green sea scrub, more massaging, hot wax, deep tissue massage, and nail painting (just for 'moi', i.e., 'Lady-in-Berkenstocks-alot').

Joann was a dignified lady during the treatments, which for her included a manicure, while, to my chagrin, I was jumpy as a drunken cricket. It's my ticklish toes you see. I might do better at pedicures if I were put under, 'cat-at-the-veterinarian style', but there you go.

Joann's extremities, north and south get the
deluxe spa treatment; no oils,waxes or mud spared

my humongous feet enjoy a hot parafin treatment

It's fun enjoying a girlie day with buddy, ahhhhh what a treat!

Speaking of treats, must mention, when Joann arrived yesterday, and obviously in her honor, the girls - all 3 - each laid an egg. How's that for a welcome and a fine how-do-you-do?

A Triple Header

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Colorful Day

Sometimes it's delightfully possible to mix business with pleasure. Due in Fresno for a business meeting, I decided I might as well stuff a little birding into the mix. So heading south on Highway 50, I stopped by Diablo Canyon Road - a deserted looking area in Stanislaus County. On an average day that winding valley road probably hosts often sees more of long-horn cattle than people.




First stop along the canyon was the Owl Condos where I found no nesting Great Horned Owls, but their neighbors, the Red-tailed Hawks were home.


Redtail Tending Her Nest


After paying my respects, by not staring to hard, I traipsed around the corner and found a lovely patches of Orange-red Indian Paintbrush.


Indian Paintbrush


While I fiddled over the flowers with my camera over the flowers, a male Costa's Hummingbird flew right up to me. He was facing into the sun, gleaming like an amethyst jewel! In a flash he was gone and I will always have him in my mind and I will also always mourn the perfect photo of that shining royal purple gorget that I didn't get a shot of. Another National Geographic Cover Photo lost!


Glittering Costa's Hummer Photo by Mark Chappell


I headed back down Highway 5 and soon enough I was driving along Little Panoche Road. The wildflowers were spectacular.


The width of the the valley was powdered with flowers


Seems to me, Mother Nature took Bird's Eye Gilia...



...and used them for the lavender in her palette




She obviously fancies pastels...


...with the occasional dash of hot colors like California Poppy for contrast

When I nearly had my fill of flowers, it was time to hit Mercy Hot Springs for my annual viewing of the Long-eared Owls. The owls are surprisingly tolerant of onlookers not to mention annoying photographers like me.


This Owl was so dinky & resembles a disgruntled sock puppet


Eventually it was time to head east for Fresno and a boring night at a hotel. But as I headed out of Mercy Hot Springs I thought, 'Come for the Owls, stay for the wildflowers'


I could stare at displays like this forever and a day


Blue Dicks Dancing in the Goldfield

Monday, March 15, 2010

Totally Unnecessary Egg Tally

From March 7 to 13th the girls laid one dozen pretty pink/beige eggs. Total since start of laying on March 1st, 21 eggs. Yesterday I gave a 1/2 dozen to a neighbor.

Whooo hooo!

Brat Babette is stooping for me, but as far as I can tell, still not laying. If there was a DNA test so I could tell whose eggs are whose, I swear I'd use it.
Yes, perhaps others are bored with these,
but I remain enthralled

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blow the Trumpet! Sound the Horns!

Tada! Today several of my co-workers and meself received gifts congratulating us for 25 years of service with the State of California, by which I mean, 25 years from each of us, not collectively, but you knew that didn't you?

We each opted to forgo our awards at a big awards celebration among our peers, settling instead for being receiving our awards while hidden away our cubicle/offices. The award consists of a nicely bound certificate of 25 years service - each of our awards were slightly overdue from 2 - 9 years depending on the individual, but who is counting, eh? In addition we got to pick a lovely prezzie of our own choice. One of my coworkers opted for a pair of uh... interesing bookends. Another got a pretty & dime-sized 14 carat gold charm of the Great California seal on a bracelet.

I opted for a pair of 7 X 35 Bushnell binoculars. I need a pair of binoculars like a need a hole in the head, but I'm donating them to the Neotropical Grasslands Conservancy. They work to keep South America full to the brink with rain forest, shade grown coffee and such, so my American birds can have someplace to overwinter. I ask you, what good is any pair of binoculars if there are no warblers stateside to stare at?

Friday, March 05, 2010

BWAAAAAAAAKKKK!

Early this morning I stood hungry and disgruntled at my stove, cooking breakfast. In the background I could hear the annoying din of a very loud TV commerical.

BWAAAAK! BWAK BWAK BWWWWAAAAAK!

I cracked a smile; it was a TV commercial featured chickens clucking at 20 decibles; some crass ad for a breakfast cereal, maybe a sleeping pill advertisment. It was only when the noise didn't cease inside of 2 minutes that it dawned on me, the racket was my own 3 chickens on the back porch having a rawkous cluck fest; a string of lound 'Buck, buck, buck, bucks' followed immediately 'B' KAWK!' , loud enough to pass as 47 chickens. Listen to them here.

Were those my little feathered angels making that racket? Had no clue they could make that much noise. Oh well. On Monday my five month old birds finally began to lay eggs so as far as I'm concerned, the little darlings can make all the racket they want.

Seven pinkish-beige eggs laid since Monday
- the pair on the right are from Barb's older hens.

I gave the girls the run of the back yard early in the day, then checked their nest box and found no eggs. I wondered therefore if they would return to the box to lay or find some kind of hiding place so I can have the joy of accidently breaking a sulferous rotten egg later in the year. But nope! Around 10 o'clock one of my hens went to their nest box. The noise in the box sounded like Spring cleaning - kicking, banging and smacking things around. Later I checked the box - ahh... a perfectly adorable little ecru egg hidden in the fragrant timothy hay. Chicken Mom - that would be me - is so very proud.

Seven perfect mini-eggs laid since Monday. Their eggs will get larger over the coming month as their chickeny innards get the hang of egg laying. Frankly the eggs are so beautiful I can't quite bring myself to eat one yet, but don't worry - I'll get there.

Little Babette at the back door is my
little slouch - she hasn't begun to lay yet

Monday, March 01, 2010

Great Eggspectations

video


Sounds like I just ran five miles, but I didn't - I was just too flippin' excited to breathe!