Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our Summer Vacation - Day 1

We have been planning our first real family vacation with Justin for a while.  It was a bit up in the air, but we had a general idea of going off-roading and then down to Holiday World. The plan was finalized that we would go to the Badlands Offroad Park in Attica, Indiana on July 7th, then head down to Terre Haute for a night to visit with some friends.  Spend a little more time off-roading at Redbird SRA in Dugger, Indiana on July 8th and then head down to Lake Rudolf in Santa Claus, Indiana. We had rented a cabin for a couple nights and planned to spend a day at Holiday World.  That was the plan and as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men....can go oh so horribly wrong.

Saturday, July 7th started out ok.  We knew it was going to  be a hot one (forecast called for 104 degrees), but we had AC in the Bronco.  Keith had been working on the Bronco for 6-months to get it ready.  There had been many a long nights welding, cutting and other mayhem going on in the garage to prep this truck for the trip.  We met my brother (whose birthday was the same day), and jumped on the highway.  The trip is about 1.5 hours or so.  We got to the Badlands about 10am.  The day was already hot and getting hotter by the minute.  After paying, getting out flags and wristbands, we headed to the parking lot to offload, air down and get everyone ready for the adventure. 

We finally headed out around 10:30am with Keith in the lead.  Keith turned down one path and no more then 10  minutes into our ride, we got stuck.  Keith tried several maneuvers but we just seemed to keep sinking into sand.  We were on a slant that just kept getting more slanted.  Keith couldn't get out of the driver's side door and the passenger side (my side) was getting closer and closer to the dirt.  Justin was strapped into the backseat.

My brother worked his way to the front of the truck to try and get our winch running - but there seemed to be no power (later on I would remind Keith that I had asked him if he had tested the winch lately).  So Johnny got back into his Jeep to work his way to the front front and see if he could winch us out.  After several attempts, we heard a large SNAP.  Come to find out something had broke on Johnny's right front axle.  Things were going from bad to worse.  We just kept digging in deeper while the temperature continued to rise.  We had to resolve ourselves that we needed help.  The Bronco was buried down to the body.  So we called the Badlands office.  The challenge was trying to explain exactly where we were.  We weren't far - but didn't know our exact coordinates.  We thought we had it figured out - but when more time went by without seeing anyone - we had to call back in.  We did have a couple guys on ATVs stop to see if we needed help.  

We are about 45 minutes into this adventure by this point - sitting at a decent angle.  All the while our son was talking constantly in the backseat (he tends to get a tad chatty when nervous).  Finally, the dude from the Badlands showed up with his Jeep Cherokee and a winch (Yay!).  He of course wanted Keith's help, but we were still stuck with no way to open either door to the Bronco.  After several maneuvers, the Bronco was finally free. As we came up out of the hole, we heard another large bang immediately followed by the sound of air escaping and we realized that we blew the front passenger tire.  But that problem seemed minor in comparison. We thought we could pump the tire back up, but we soon realized that the tire was ripped in the back - there was no fixing.

We were able to get the Bronco out onto the road to get the tire changed.  The heat continued to rise by the minute. Keith was sweating and seemed very shaky.  He was drinking tons of water and Gatorade.  I looked at Keith and realized that he was going to pass out.  I called his name and grabbed his arm as he began to fall forward, helping him back down into a squat.  Keith is diabetic, so Karen and I thought that his blood sugar was low.  He was coherent enough to let us know that his glucose tube was in a pack - but not really sure which pack.  So as Johnny changed the tire, Karen and I dug through three different packs (note - Keith likes bags and packs the way most women like black shoes) to find the glucose tube. Keith downed the tube and after a little while, the tire was changed and we thought that Keith was back into a decent shape.  

We headed back to the parking lot to load Johnny's Jeep onto his trailer and decide on next steps.  Do we go back home and get another car? Johnny and Karen headed home and we decided to go to a restaurant to cool off and get some food (still thinking that Keith's problem was low blood sugar).  We sat down, ordered some drinks and our food. When it arrived Keith took one bite and realized that he was going to be sick. He ran to the bathroom but only made it as far as the bin of dirty dishes toward the front of the restaurant. Here we are in a tiny little restaurant in a tine little town with Keith getting really sick in the bathroom. I headed up front to see if he was ok and if he wanted me to call 911 - which he did.  Which also told me how sick he was. The restaurant workers got him some cool towels while I called 911. A policeman was first on the scene, quickly followed by the ambulance. By this time Keith had stopped sweating and was cold and clammy. The EMT workers took Keith while I paid the bill on the food we hadn't touched (for some reason they felt the need to pack it to go - even though I told them that really wasn't necessary). So I headed out to the Bronco with Justin and the leftovers to follow the ambulance to the hospital. By this time the temperature was well over 100 degrees and the AC had completely stopped working.

The hospital is actually in the next town of Williamsport, Indiana. A small 16-bed facility with an ER and a helipad in the parking lot. They were wonderful. Keith was in bad shape with full blown heat exhaustion. His blood pressure was low and he was dehydrated. He took 3 liters of fluids. We hung out there for about 3 hours to ensure that everything was back to normal.  When it was time to leave the hospital, we were once again torn as to what we should do. Keith was feeling much better, so we decided to go on to Terre Haute to meet our friends for dinner. We hadn't seem them in a very long time and Terre Haute was slightly closer than home, and we did have hotel reservations. So we threw out the lunch leftovers the restaurant had insisted I take (they had been sitting in the Bronco for 3+ hours by this time) and braved the heat for a couple hours more (remember the AC had stopped).

We pulled into the hotel at 5:30pm - just 1/2 hour to spare before we were supposed to meet Jerry and Stacie. We cooled off for a few and then got back into the Bronco to head to Wise Pies for some pizza. Just as we pulled into the parking lot across the street, BANG and that old familiar sound of air escaping.  We had just blown the SPARE tire. Unbelievable. Keith pulled on into a parking space - might as well eat while we wait for AAA. 

AAA showed up and he was the one that discovered it was a bolt on the axle that was too long and than in fact cut the tire as we turned and bounced in just the right way. So it was decided to load the Bronco onto the trailer and have it towed home. Figure we'll get a rental car for the rest of the trip. Keith wasn't planning on unloading the coolers and other stuff that was in the Bronco, until I reminded him that everything we needed for the rest of the vacation (cabin at Lake Rudolf, Holiday World) was in the Bronco. We said goodbye to our friends with promises not to wait 10+ years to see each other in person again. The AAA driver agreed to take us to the hotel and let us unload the truck (he even lowered it for us). He also reminded us that the Budget was the ONLY rental car place open on Sundays in Terre Haute, so we better get their early if we want a chance at getting a car.  

With a $20 tip in hand, AAA headed toward Greenfield with the Bronco.  We headed to an air conditioned hotel room figuring we'll worry about the rental car and the rest of the vacation tomorrow.

And that was just the first day of our family vacation.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

End of the Chicken Molt Revolt

Editor's Note - If you have ever seem the movie Platoon - read this with Charlie Sheen's voice in your head - has much more impact.

I think I can finally say that the Great Chicken Molt Revolt has ended.  Truly, these were dark times. 

The chickens were molting and all energy seemed to be spent on new feathers rather than new eggs. There were feathers everywhere. It looked like the girls had been fighting off coyotes with the amount of feathers found flying in and around the coop. 

Each evening, there would be the slow sad walk to the nest boxes to search for any signs of eggs. We might get one egg every other day - if we were lucky. Sometimes less. Some days all that was found were broken egg shells - sacrifices and carnage left behind in this great battle. As we approached Easter, I had to hoard whatever eggs we found, just to have enough to color. I would throw down the gauntlet everyday proclaiming "I better see more eggs or you might find yourself as soup!"  But they knew that my words were empty and that I could never follow-through on the threat.

Part of the problem is that all but one of the girls are all around the same age, so the molt seemed to hit all of them at the same time. If we were a bigger farm, we would stagger adding new hens to the flock to maximize egg production and to stagger situations like the one we have had for the past couple of months. Add to the mix a totally wacky end to winter/start to spring (cold, hot, cold, hot, rain, cold, hot, rain, etc.) and you have the perfect storm.

I would categorize this batter between the chickens and their need to molt and my need for eggs as a draw with both forces walking off the battle field (aka the Little Deuce Coop) just a little battered and bruised. Egg production seems to be back to a level closer to normal. The girls look better and we are getting 3-4 eggs per day.  What will we take back with us as we attempt to live a normal life of peace and harmony?  What indeed. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Zombie Cannibal Chickens

Ok.  Maybe not zombies. I may have zombies on the brain (pun definitely intended).  We've been watching AMC's "The Walking Dead". 

Egg production has been low. Beyond low. And it's got me flumoxed. Maybe one egg one day and then zero eggs the next.  We are not getting even one dozen eggs a week! And considering that at one time the girls were on a pretty regular schedule of 3-4 dozen per week, I'm a tad worried. 

There have been signs that the chickens are eating the eggs - yolk on the eggs left in the nest, broken shells, etc. I have always known that if an egg broke - the girls would go after it like flies on you-know-what. Now I am starting to think that they are purposely breaking the eggs.  I don't know if it's one chicken or all of them. The whole concept is gross. Yuck. 

I've done some research on the main reasons this phenomenon can happen in small backyard flocks, and I don't think that any of them truly pertain to my girls. With working full-time, it's just about impossible to gather eggs during the day.  Also, I don't honestly know which hens lay and which hens don't.  Guess we are going to have to install some sort of chicken web cam. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dead Shrew

Stop hanging around OUR coop!

Courtesy of the Girls: Grace, Doris, Ann, Nancy, Etta,
Aretha, Gladis, Big Brown Betty, Reba and Pat

New Year, New Starts, and New Family

The fall went by in a blur.  Egg production picked back up (and has since gone back down).  Halloween, birthdays and anniversaries came and went.  In fact, Keith and I celebrated 18 years of marriage.  Wow how time flies.

As to the comings and goings of Windy Acres - I tend to focus on the life of the four-legged and feathered critters and not so much on the two-legged ones.  So this one is about our family. 

Since the day we met, Keith and I had always said that we wanted to adopt kids someday - no matter if we had our own or not.  We also decided that if we were going to adopt, we wanted to adopt from within the state.  We didn't want to adopt a child from a foreign country - we wanted to open our home to a child here in Indiana that needed a home. So, in November of 2010, we decided to move forward and start the process for what is called SNAP - Special Needs Adoption Program.  For Indiana that basically means any child that is 2 years or older.  We attended the Foster/Adoption training classes offered by the Department of Child Services.  We had our home study completed in December 2010, and was formally approved as pre-adoptive parents by the SNAP council on February 28, 2011. 

During this past year, we had a couple of interviews.  Then at the end of October, we were picked to interview for Justin, a 6th grader down in Lawrenceburg, Indiana..  We were very excited and as always, tried not to get our hopes up.  In fact, as interviews go we thought this one had been our worst. Then on Tuesday, November 1st we got the call telling us that we had been picked as Justin's pre-adoptive parents!  November and December were a complete whirlwind - trying to somehow make it through the holidays and getting to know our soon-to-be son at the same time.  There were many trips back and forth to Lawrenceburg.  On Christmas Day 2011, Justin came to live with us permanently.

We feel so blessed and happy to have Justin in our lives.  Are there challenges? Of course, but the reward is so much bigger. We look forward to all that this adventure has to offer and look forward to the beginning of a new family with 3 two-legged critters at Windy Acres.