Sunday, January 31, 2016

Late winter...

As a rule, I don't really mind winter. However, in late January and February, I do long for some hint of spring. I try to remember to plant paper white narcissus.  Seeing them sprout, then watching them bloom, and smelling their sweet fragrance, is uplifting.

I've been enjoying them tremendously.  And then... my customer/friend brought me these beauties.

Fabulous orchids from her collection. She is downsizing and thought these would enjoy the light and humidity in my studio.  I think they are enchanting!

This guy came right up to the window and peered in. I think he enjoyed seeing the flowers blooming, too.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Oh those Silkies..!

People think chickens are dumb.  Having had chickens for 8 years, I have come to appreciate that they are much smarter than folks give them credit for.  At least, my layer breeds are.  These Silkies?  I am often astonished at just how dim they really are.

Yesterday was unseasonably warm, so I let them out of the coop.  During the cold and wet days we have been having, I have kept them locked up, because as I explained in an earlier post, they really are too stupid to come in out of the rain.

They flooded out of the coop like a herd of excited powder puffs.  Then, to my surprise they scooted through the fence and went out into the big pasture.  They climbed up the manure pile and scratched around, looking most gleeful.  All day they stayed out there, going much farther afield than they normally do.

As the sun moved lower in the sky I was very surprised to see that they were still out there.  I would have expected them to be headed back towards the coop. Chickens are quite insistent about sleeping on their own roost!

 I started my chores, locking up the ducks and the laying hens, all of which had tucked themselves into their respective homes.  I fed the rabbit and filled the goat and horse hay racks.  The little fluffy white birds were still pottering about.

It was then that it dawned on me.  Though only about 30 feet from their comfortable home, the Silkies were lost. In their excitement to be free they had wandered into unfamiliar territory and had no idea how to get home.  They seemed relieved when I scooped them up and carried them to the coop.  Long on cute, short of brains. It's ok, though, they earn their keep just by making me laugh. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Everyday miracles...

Leonie Dawson is an artist and motivator whose work inspires me.  This label on my antique Mason jar is her work. It says, "A jar for collecting everyday miracles."  The idea is to jot down terrific things that happen and stow them in a jar.  Then, at the end of the year, take time to look back at all the sweet, kind, happy moments that filled the past 365 days.

Today something jar-worthy happened, but I was sort of forbidden to write about it, lest I embarrass the person from whose largess I have benefited.  So let me just say this... my life is populated by kind, thoughtful, creative, GENEROUS people, and I expect I am going to need a bigger jar before the year is done.  In fact, I may need a wonderful, magical, big wheeled CART to haul all my everyday miracles about in.  And I'm not saying any more, lest I get in trouble. 

Except... THANK YOU! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Several years ago, when I bought our first goat, she came with a 3 day old buckling, (boy baby goat.) My husband named him Taco, a wry nod to the fact that he was probably going to be eaten.  It is hard to born male on a farm.  Male goats, in particular, are not wanted. Goat milk, goat cheese, goat soap, these things are all very popular right now. Goats must be bred to give birth and produce the milk that we use to make all that chevre and soap. Female baby goats go on to produce more milk, but the males?  They serve little purpose. That is, little purpose in the United States.

But world wide, goat meat is widely consumed.  In fact, outside of the U.S., it is one of the most commonly eaten red meats. So when we brought Luna, my new dairy goat, and Taco, her kid to the farm, I thought we should try some goat meat to see what we thought. At the local farmers market I bought some very small, very expensive goat chops. I brought them  home and carefully cooked them.

In all the years I have been married to my husband, I have cooked many tasty meals, and a few horrible ones. The goat chops?  They were the worst.  Chris, who ate even the bad meals I've cooked with grace and gratitude, couldn't stomach those chops.  We decided we didn't like goat meat, and found a wonderful pet home for little Taco.  I was just as glad. He was adorable.

Last spring Luna birthed twins, a boy and a girl, on April Fools Day. The female went to live on a friends farm, the little male stayed here a while, then went to another friends farm for the summer to keep her ram sheep company and eat brush. Then he came here for a bit. He was very cute and we liked him a lot, but he had horns, and keeping a horned goat with non-horned goats is not a good idea. Goats will butt heads, and a horned goat can seriously injure those that do not have horns.   I tried to sell him, with no luck.  My daughter took matters into her own hands, and took him to be turned into goat meat. I wanted nothing to do with it, I thought he was adorable. 

There has been a box of goat meat in the freezer for a few months now.  Chops, leg roasts, ribs.  We passed them by, reaching for ham steaks and beef roasts and fine roasting chickens.  Until tonight.  Rachel offered to cook supper and thawed some goat shanks.  I helped her find a recipe, and together we braised the shanks in the old, well loved pot given to us by my aunt Barbara for a wedding gift.

We added onions, garlic, wine and other things...

And let everything simmer for an hour or so.  It smelled delicious.

to our surprise and delight, it tasted wonderful, too.
The meat was tender and flavorful.  It is hard to describe, but it is a bit like beef, and a bit like lamb.  Not gamey.  We all liked it very much, and now we are looking forward to leg of goat, goat curry and more.

It may be co-incidence, but Rachel also picked up the goats head she had taken to the taxidermist today.  I wouldn't have done it, probably, but she was determined not to waste any of the animal who lost his life to nourish us.

 Dinner tonight was a bit of an adventure.  Who knows what adventure will come next?

Old stuff...

If you've read this blog a while you have probably noticed that I like old things. I particularly like old kitchen things.  They attract me in a variety of ways.  First off, I like the fact that these items have stood the test of time.

That oil lamp? It belonged to my lovely mother in law, Vernice Parker Conner.  I have a handful of things that belonged to her, this is among my favorites. Another is a recipe written in her pretty penmanship for "Million Dollar Pancakes."  And the kitchen tools I reach for most often are corralled in an ironstone pitcher. I love the shape of it, and the lustrous finish.

This butter dish?  I bought it as a wedding gift for my niece Emily and her husband, Jeff.  I loved it, the shape, the size, all of it. And since I loved it, my niece surely would, too!  Then I went to their home in Santa Fe and realized that it was far, FAR from her taste.  So I gave them some cash and kept the dish for myself.  The fabulous butter knife was a junk store or yard sale find.  Something else I treasure.

I bought this little juicer at a local favorite antique store. I've had others over the years; used them and enjoyed them, and eventually broken them.  I picked this one up, cheap, and didn't realize until I used it that it was special! It has a little rim at the base of the cone where the fruit is juiced.  That little rim catches almost all the seeds, so the juice can be poured, seed free.  I've never seen another like it, but if I do, I'll snatch it up!

This treasure?  An old sifter that I bought at a street fair in Memphis, Tennessee.  I can't even tell you how many times I've used it, and it never fails to make me smile.  Those perky apples, that little red handle?  It was designed with some love.

This biscuit cutter?  I have no idea how old it is. Or how many biscuits it has cut. Hundreds by my hands alone.

This little gem was purchased to add to the ambiance at niece Aimee and her husband Tim's wedding.  They had a wonderful antique truck with a washtub full of ice and beer, and needed old time bottle openers to go with the theme.  Husband Chris and I scoured antique stores all one summer and scored several likely candidates.  This one hails from the 1930's.  It still does it's job, with flair.
Looking through my kitchen drawers showed me an antique gadget to steep loose tea, some elderly serving pieces, and a marvelous hand mixer. We lost power for several days one time, and I wanted to make a dessert with whipped cream.  How I wished I had a hand mixer like the one we had when I was a kid.  (Ours had a pink handle!)  The next time I saw one in an antique store, I grabbed it. Actually, I got two, one for my daughter, who, thankfully, shares my delight in old kitchen tools.

When I cook using these items I like to think about all the women (and maybe men!) who have used these tools before me.  I think about the meals they prepared, the families they fed.  I wonder what their lives where like.  Did they love time spent in  their kitchens?  Did they enjoy the work it took to feed their loved ones, or was it all a chore?   Were the tools they used new to them, or handed down? These are questions I will never know the answers to, but I know that when I use my biscuit cutter or my butter knife, they please me. The shapes, the patina, the history.  Old things make me happy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Game playing...

My daughter and her boyfriend were here tonight while I was cooking supper.  They sat at the dining room table and played a game of cards. 

It had been a busy week, and I was cooking a simple supper to fill our bellies and warm us on a cold winter night.  A Mexican food inspired casserole, cheesy, spicy and delicious.  While I cooked I kept peeking in at the two playing cards. 

The best part was listening to them chat and laugh. And laugh some more. There were chuckles and giggles, too.  It made my heart happy to hear those sounds as I cooked.

Happy hearts and harmony.  That is what I like to be surrounded with, especially at suppertime.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Friend time...

Among the many blessings in my life is that I have some very nice friends.  One of the things I hope to do more of this year is carving time in my life to spend more time with them.  One of my friends called me recently and asked if we could meet for breakfast or lunch some time.  I had a little vacant space in my schedule today and my friend agreed to come here for a visit.

I groomed one dog first, then popped into the kitchen and put a batch of biscuits in the oven.  While they were baking I put some ice water and plates on the table.  I added the pretty new butter dish sweet sister Donna gave me, and a bowl of clementines.  Then I put the pretty napkins my daughter gave me for Christmas by the plates.  I was walking through the room and noticed the sun streaming in, and how nice my little table looked. So I took a picture.  (And yes, that is a bicycle outside in the snow.)

A few months ago, another friend, Joy, gifted me with some wonders from her farm... they were tucked away in the cabinet awaiting a special occasion.

Dandelion blossom syrup and rose infused honey.  Droozled over our hot biscuits... they were quite a taste sensation.

We had a nice visit, and then I got back to work.

This guy and a few more filled the remainder of my day.  But the highlight, by far, was chatting with my friend at my sunny table.  Friend time is good. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Day off...

This morning, clad in my super soft fuzzy new polar bear pajamas that sister Deb gave me, and a good down jacket, I went out to feed and water the animals. I didn't intend to be outside very long. Now, normally I do a "big clean" on the horse and pony rooms on Sunday, but I was out of town playing with family yesterday.  So, as a thin, cold sun was rising behind snow-laden clouds, I decided to get to work before the snow began to fall, and removed all the bedding from both areas.  Trundling the wheelbarrow over the snow and ice was sporty, but I got the job done.  The soiled bedding was all on the compost heap, and the floors swept. Next I schlepped two big bags of shavings out to the shed. I love dumping the fresh shavings into the rooms, and imagining my sweet animals lounging on the clean, nice smelling cushion I have provided them. After all of this, I was sad to note that  my new PJ's were now not looking or smelling so new.

I decided, while I was already involved in "mucking out," to strip the chicken coops, too.  They were beginning to smell a bit like chickens, and we can't have that, can we?  The little Silkie coop is easy enough to clean, because it is so small.  Chanel shadowed me and daintily nibbled every blade of hay that was mixed in with the soiled shavings. Because, I guess, hay strands that have been tossed about by chickens tastes SO much better than the sweet, fresh hay I had just put out for her.  (I put a little hay in the coops for the chickens to dig around in during the winter, just to keep them occupied and happy.)

The big coop is more of a project.  Normally I shovel out 3 full wheelbarrow loads of shavings and haul them off.  Today I just tossed the shavings out the door and onto the snow, so the birds would have a place to walk around that wasn't cold and white. The big rooster was so upset by my scooping and flinging that he hurled himself out the door, more airborne than a bird of his size should be, and clung pathetically to the wire fence. He didn't want to hop down into the snow, so hung there a long time until I nudged him off.  The rest of the flock seemed to appreciate my efforts, and spent much of the day scratching around in the fresh air, instead of being coop-bound.  I scrubbed their water bowl and refilled it, and topped off their food container, too.  The ducks also got fresh bedding laid in.  By the time I was done with all of this I felt terribly hungry, and I figured it must be late morning.  Imagine my surprise when I glanced at the clock after peeling off my snow covered boots and saw that it was not quite 9:00 AM!

I took a shower, started a load of laundry, and then looked at my clothing options for the day.  I didn't have any customers scheduled, and I had no where to go. On a whim I put clean PJ's on and decided that would be my uniform du jour.  Since it is cold, I added fuzzy hot pink socks to complete the ensemble, and decided I was going to be a slug with the remaining portion of my day.  I prayed no one would drop by and see me in this get up. ( But of course, two neighbors did.  >sigh< )

Much of my day was spent snuggled up on the sofa, watching the snow fly. I did take a little walk about with my camera just before dusk. Snow had been falling steadily all day, and the wind was starting to pick up.

We all stretched our legs. Then I went right back to the sofa, without cleaning anything or cooking anything or DOING anything. The little voices in my head were quite stern with me, telling me to get going and be productive. I told them to shut up. I took a day off, and I enjoyed it.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


During morning chore time a "wintry mix" was falling from the sky. This is what the weather people call it when a mix of rain, snow, sleet come down. It made a pattering sound as it bounced off my warm coat, and melted coldly on my hair, running down my neck in chilly rivulets.  Shortly after I finished taking care of the animals, the mix changed to snow.

I had a full day of grooming planned, but several people had already called to arrange to come another day.  My first two customers, however, are intrepid Mainers, and both showed up promptly, dogs in tow.  The snow came down thick and heavy.  My entire grooming studio is fronted in glass, and I felt like I was working in a snow globe.

The phone rang a few times, and one by one, the rest of my customers called to rearrange their visit.  By 11 it was plain to see that the rest of the day was to be my own.

I made sure all the animals had plenty of food and water, then changed into my coziest clothes and made a cup of steaming hot mocha. And now I am ensconced on the sofa, cuddled up with dogs and a blanket and a new magazine to read.  We are all here together, with a cozy fire dancing in the wood stove. 

I do love a good storm. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Enter chaos...

Today started out normally enough.  It was a chilly 5 degrees outside when I went to tend to the animals, but all was well.

 My first customer was due at 9:00. At 8:30 I was upstairs getting dressed and beating my hair into submission when I heard a very forceful banging on my door. I hustled down the steps and let my customer in, my hair asunder.  But then I got an early start on his dog, which was a good thing because at 9:00 a customer arrived who was not on my schedule.  He was happy to sit and have a cup of coffee and a brownie while I finished up dog #1, and I was only about 10 minutes behind, so all was well.  Got his dog done and my next dog arrived.  He is one that takes me two or more hours to do, so his owner dropped him off and I got him all handsome right on time.

My next customer of the day was a friend who used to work in a grooming shop, with two little dogs that belong to a relative.  I was looking forward to a pleasant visit with her, and I had a 15 minute  break before she came so I walked my dogs outside, took some hay to the hoof stock, checked on the rabbit, chickens and ducks, and even grabbed a snack for myself.  My friend arrived and we began chatting happily while I washed her first dog.  Then I noticed an unexpected car in the driveway and realized it was another customer that I did not have on my calendar. To make matters worse, they have two dogs.  My friend saw the look of horror on my face, and I explained that somehow I must have missed a page when I moving dates from my '15 calendar to the new one for this year.  She said, "We can do this. I'll help."  She strapped a bathing apron over her pretty outfit and in no time was drying her own dog while I washed the new-comers.  Just then, another car pulled in.  I was tempted to put a gun to my head.  I peered, in dry mouthed horror, to see who emerged.  To my great delight, it was my wonderful friend who was very, VERY kindly bringing my goat Ella home.

 Ella had spent a few delightful weeks at her farm.  We were hoping she would be bred by my friends buck, but alas, this didn't happen.  It is very cold, and I was worried about bringing Ella home in the back of my truck, so my kind friend tucked her into her warm station wagon and drove the long ride her to return her.  What a PAL! I was really happy to see my friend, but it still meant I had to pull my boots on, run outside and kiss my goat, then get her settled back into the pasture.   I noticed my friend had her little dog with her.  Desperate to repay her kindness, I offered to give it a bath while she ran some errands.  She agreed.  Add one more dog to the nuttiness.

 No sooner had I gotten back inside and working on a dog when my farriers truck swung up to the end of the driveway. For non-horse readers, the farrier is the wonderful, talented person who trims horses hooves and puts shoes on them (where applicable.)  I knew my farrier was coming sometime in the afternoon, and here, at the height of mayhem, while I was grooming as fast as I could and trying to keep everything together, he was.

Again, boots on, out to the pasture.  "Chanel!" I called.

Such a good pony, her head flew up and she trotted to the gate.  Thankfully she is an angel for the farrier, so I handed him his money and a brownie for a snack, and left him to his own devices.  I was able to finish grooming the four dogs, and visit with my friend a little more.  Since she had been so kind to help me with my scheduling error, I refused to let her pay for the haircuts on her pets.  I heaved a sigh of relief, a hectic spell had been managed, nicely, with her help.

I had a 10 minute break after she left. I tucked the poultry into their coops for the night, threw out a little more hay, and fed the dogs.  When my next two dogs arrived I was sad to see that they were both in hard shape.  They had been down south playing at a beach for the past few weeks, and their hair was very tangled.  What would normally take me 2 hours took almost 4... of challenging work.

But I managed it, tucked a roast in the oven, cleaned the studio, filled the hay racks for the night and came inside to do dog laundry and get into my fuzzy jammies.  It was a hectic day.  The muscles in my shoulders are hard as rocks. But the jobs were done and done well.  Hopefully the wench that messed up my schedule (me!) will not create such havoc in the future. At least, not in the near future.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Duck follies and other icy bird tales...

It snowed last night.  The ground is covered with about 2 inches of heavy, wet, white.  The chickens and ducks had enjoyed the past few days, because a heavy rain had washed all the old snow away and they were able to walk on bare ground. Walk they did, from dawn till dusk, all over the pasture.  But with the new snow, I knew they would stay close to their coops.

When I went out this morning I carried a snow shovel out to the duck area. I carefully scraped a space in front of their house to bare ground, then sprinkled a layer of hay around.  I filled their pan with warm water and set it near the hay, so they would have insulation for their feet from the cold ground while they enjoyed drinking and playing in their water. I topped off their food bowl, too.  Normally when there is snow they spend all their time in their hutch or just outside the door, where the food and water pans are.  I was pleased with how I had set everything up for their comfort. I applauded myself for being an excellent duck mom.

However, they were having none of it. They blasted past the area I had prepared, and quacking in loud protest they waddled out into the pasture. Their squatty bodies plowed through the unblemished snow.  They went to the area by the goat and pony shed, where they love to be when the ground is open.  However, once they got there they looked quite dismayed.  There was no pan of duck water, and no food to find on the snowy ground.

Since they spend the first part of most mornings eating and drinking their fill, I knew they must be hungry and thirsty.  There they stayed, however, looking forlorn.  One foot tucked up against their breast feathers to warm it, one in the snow, then switching to the other foot; it was a sad looking avian snow dance.  I kept checking on them, thinking they would wander back to their hutch where breakfast awaited, but they did not.  The flock of four was the very picture of desolation.

So, I geared up and went back out.  Luckily ducks are pretty easy to herd. I got them headed in the right direction and they made the long waddle back to their house, where they could eat and drink, and get out of the snow.  I think they were a little relieved once they got the idea.  They stayed put the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, outside my window, I saw this Mourning Dove, with a hefty chunk of ice dangling from her pretty tail.

I wonder where she slept, that water dripped on her and froze?  She didn't seem to notice the encumbrance.

I had to fill the wild bird feeder twice today; the air was full of the sound of wings as they zoomed in, ate, and zipped away again.  I am glad that some birds have the sense to stay where food is served during the cold and snowy winter days.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Adventures in Cooking..."

One thing I hope to do this year is try new recipes. I am prone to getting into a bit of a rut when cooking.  In early December a sweet customer was here and ate a sugar cookie I had baked. We got on the topic of such treats and  she mentioned that she had an excellent recipe for short bread. I asked if she would share it, and sure enough, I found a sweet card in my mailbox a few days ago with a copy of the page from her cookbook. 

I thought I'd try a batch tonight. I keep a covered dish with baked treats out for my grooming customers to enjoy with a hot beverage.  One great thing about short bread is that it keeps well, so a batch would last me all week (if I could prevent myself from sampling the goodies too hard!)

The cookbook is actually titled, Adventures in Cooking,  For home and Country. It was published in 1958 by the British Columbia Woman's Institutes.  There are penciled annotations next to the recipe in question.  Some I can make out, some I cannot. But here is what it says, (readable pencil notes in parenthesis.)

1 large cup brown sugar (not combined)
3/4 lb. butter (1 lb.)
3 small cups flour (2008 try the original recipe 2 1/2 cups)

Beat butter until soft and fluffy, add sugar, beat again, work in flour by degrees.  Work well with hands, then knead on a floured board.  Shape into loaf, cut 1/4" thick, bake a few miniutes in a good oven. (350- 20 min.)

I scratched my head a bit over the "large cup" and "small cup" directions.  And I was happy to have the time and temperature noted as I hadn't a clue what  a "good oven," meant.  The penciled notes, changing the amount of flour and butter had me curious, too. I stuck with the recipe as it was printed by the Woman's Institutes. 

The dough was smooth and pleasant to work with. 

Creating 1/4 inch slices was a bit more difficult.

The end result?  Delicious.  Buttery, crisp and rich, with a flavor that suggests one should have just one more.  Or maybe two. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Like a cork in a bottle...

I don't have a photograph to illustrate this story because time was of the essence, but I will try to draw a word picture for you. With help from real pictures.

A few days ago I shared a photo of one of my large Light Brahma hens in the tiny little coop that the wee Silky chicks live in.  She had gone in there to lay an egg, because apparently the nest boxes in her coop were inadequate.  So she had braved the ice and snow, hopped a 4 foot fence, and somehow managed to squeeze her large frame through the small door of the Silky palace.

This morning I saw her attempting to get into the Silky palace again.  She was not having much luck, and it was really rather comical to watch. I would have stayed to see how she managed to get in that small door, but it was something like 12 degrees out and I was beginning to lose sensation in my extremities so I went in the house instead.

This is a picture taken a few months ago. It shows the little door the hen was trying to access. Not only is it small, but it is sort of hour glass shaped. Even the diminutive Silky rooster has trouble getting in, and he is probably 2  pounds of bird covered in easily compressed fluff.

This picture is of one of the Light Brahma hens.  They are large chickens.  So large that the last time my horse veterinarian was here she said, "Holy Sh*t!  Those are some HUGE freaking chickens!"  I'd say they are 8 pounds or better.

It was around 7 AM when I saw "big bird" trying to get into the little coop.  A few minutes before 9 AM, and expecting my first customer at any moment, I happened to glance out the window.  Now, remember, it was quite cold outside.  I noticed that all the little Silky chickens were outside, and they were all looking rather longingly at the door to their coop.  It appeared that they wished they were inside, where there were dry shavings instead of snow and ice, protection from the wind, and an ample supply of food and water.  But the doorway was blocked.  By the head and chest of a Light Brahma hen.  I wondered, idly, if she were stuck. And it occurred to me that perhaps I should check.

So, I pulled on my tall boots, and shrugged into my cozy down coat, and out I went.  I'm not sure if I was imagining it, but the Silkies looked chilly.  And the Brahma?  She had one wing partially out the door, and one wing in.  She had a look on her face that was decidedly unhappy.  I watched a moment, and she struggled to move out of the little door, but could not.  She was wedged in tight. I pondered my options, trying not to laugh at her plight.  I failed.  I smiled, then I chuckled, then I think I even guffawed a bit.  The hen cast a cold dark eye upon me, and I did what I must.

I opened the hatch where one collects eggs, and sure enough, a still-warm brown egg was nestled neatly in the clean hay of the next box. I popped it in my pocket. Then I reached in and gently felt around the bird jammed in the door.  Yup, stuck.  Tightly.  Her legs were braced against the floor, pushing, pushing, trying to propel her out and into the yard.  But her heavy body was held firmly by the unyielding wood.  She protested mightily when she felt my hand exploring her nether-regions, and struggled intently. The one wing that was partially out slipped all the way to freedom, and she flapped it vigorously.  She began to squawk, too. Loudly. I pushed a bit, but she remained firmly ensconced. Bemused, I pushed a little harder, and she did, too, and then, with a rush of feathers, her bulk popped out the frame and she was free!  She ran across the snow, yelling her head off, back to her flock.

The Silkies filed, one by one, up the ramp and into the shelter of their snug home.  I shook my head, cupped the warm egg in my hand, and went in to work smiling. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

The case of the missing egg...

It is mid-day and very cold; 19 degrees with a biting wind. This means that though I filled all the water bowls this morning at dawn, by now the animals which do not have heated water bowls would have frozen water. It is important that they have access to water that is actually wet throughout the day.  So, I filled a 5 gallon jug up with warm water and trundled outside.  The duck water bowl had 1/4 inch of ice on it, so I dumped it out, and refilled it to the brim.  The ducks understand the routine, and cheered me on from a safe distance, then rushed to drink and splash the moment I stepped away.

The big chicken coop has an electrically heated bowl, but the scamps often unplug it, so I topped it off and checked the plug while I was out.  The little coop, for the Silky chickens, does not have electricity, so I popped the ice out of their bowl and refilled it for them.  I noticed they had eaten an awful lot of food this morning, and then saw this...

One of the large Light Brahma hens had ventured from the big coop, across the snow, and somehow wedged its very large body into the very small opening and was hanging out with the little chickens. And eating. A lot.

Mostly the chickens stay in their coop when there is snow on the ground, especially when it is very cold.  But one other hen had flown the coop, and was exploring the pasture looking for snacks.  She had also laid an egg in the goat room.

 I carried the egg to the deck and left it there, next to the water jug, while I tossed some hay out to the horse and goats.  I have learned it is best not to keep eggs in my pocket, as I often end up with a dreaded "pocket omelet." Ick.

The goats and horse were glad to see me, and the hay. Mostly the hay.  Goats and horses depend on the energy they produce when they digest their food to help them stay warm in cold weather, so they need to eat frequently.  Luna smiled when she saw I had brought the good stuff... second cut hay, sweet and leafy.  Much better than some of the stemmy stuff we have stashed.

When I came back, there was no sign of the egg.  The deck is not exactly level, so I checked to see if it had rolled off.  No egg.  I double checked my pockets. No egg, no omelet.  I puzzled a bit, then decided I was too cold to care and proceeded towards the house.

Next to the door I found this.

And guess who had egg on his face?