Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Hubby Is Home

31 Aug 2011: Dylan (age 14) gets pointers from Ed on operating a tractor.

Ed and his mom got back in town around 1:00 this morning.  They were both very happy to be back home and sleeping in their own beds again.  Unfortunately, both of them were also extremely achy and tired all day today after the 15-hour drive home.  They were hauling such a heavy load that it took 3 hours longer to get home than usual.

31 Aug 2011: Ed and Dylan check out the tractor still loaded on the trailer.

As for me, I'm very happy to have my husband back again.  Hearing his voice on the phone several times a day is not quite as nice as being able to touch and hold and kiss each other.  I'm also glad to turn the chickens and the garden back over to his quite capable hands!

It's nice to be a family again. With Jacob away serving as an LDS missionary in northern California and Sarah newly married and living with her husband Chris, it felt a little strange to have just Dylan and me in the house.

31 Aug 2011: Dylan (second from right) and other Boy Scouts receive awards.

Ed's return was perfect timing.  Tonight we were all able to attend Dylan's Boy Scout Court of Honor.  Even Sarah came to join us and see Dylan get his awards and his rank advancement to Star Scout.  All he has left is Life Scout and then Eagle Scout, probably in the next year.

31 Aug 2011: Dylan (age 14) prepares to pin his Star emblem on his mom's sleeve.

31 Aug 2011: Dylan and his mom Mary.
(He's gotten so tall, 5'11" and he just turned 14 two months ago!)

Aren't families great?  Being a wife and a mom is just plain awesome!

Monday, August 29, 2011

And then There's the Garden

22 Aug 2011: Our tomato plants

This year's garden has been a mixture of success and, well, not exactly failure, but less than successful success.  Many of our seeds never sprouted.  Some of our plants, like all our strawberries, inexplicably died.  Some, like the lettuce pictured above with the tomatoes, produced only a limited number of plants.  Others, like our peas, started strong but failed to thrive (although we sure enjoyed those sweet peas while they lasted!).  At times it seemed we were growing more weeds and rocks than vegetables!

Ed is already envisioning the changes and improvements he will make to our garden plot next year to ensure greater success! 

22 Aug 2011: Ripening tomatoes.

Probably our greatest success is our tomato plants.  For a while there we didn't think they would make it at all, with 2 weeks of strong, nonstop winds that kept blowing them over and crushing them.  Yet when the rainy monsoon season began at the end of June, they began growing like crazy, overrunning their wire cages and putting out hundreds of green tomatoes, which are now beginning to ripen.  We've already enjoyed 10 delicious tomatoes, making our gardening neighbors envious.

22 Aug 2011: Cucumber plants

Ed started the cucumbers indoors from tiny seeds.  They looked very pathetic for a very long time, and Ed wasn't sure it would be worth transplanting them to the garden.  Thank goodness he did!  They took off as soon as they hit the dirt, and are now putting out many little cucumbers.

27 Aug 2011: A baby cucumber, about the size of a large pickle so far.

27 Aug 2011: Two cabbage plants beginning to curl.

Out of a whole row of cabbage seeds, we only got 4 cabbages, but they are huge.  They are finally starting to curl their leaves around budding heads of cabbages.

22 Aug 2011: Six bean plants on a teepee-shaped wooden frame

Now I understand why the storyteller chose a beanstalk for the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.  I've never seen a seedling grow so fast or so tall.  I'm not kidding when I say you can almost see them moving as they break through the earth and stretch upward, putting out delicate tendrils seeking for something to grab on to.  If you stand still long enough, it will grab you and hold on! 

20 Aug 2011: Newly washed beans from our garden.

In the 10 days since Ed has been in Colorado, I've picked a plate full of beans every single day.  I have two quarts of beans bagged and frozen in the freezer already.  They'll be perfect for green bean casserole come Thanksgiving!

Tending the chickens and the garden is always a great adventure, but I'm ready for my sweetheart to come home and take over their care again.  I miss you, my prince.  I can't wait to hold you in my arms tomorrow night!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Little Hen Who Crowed

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Prudence?  No, make that Percival!

Three months ago we purchased a dozen of the cutest little 3-day-old chicks.  We chose our brood from among those that were guaranteed to be females only, because Ed knew he didn't want a rooster.  We were only interested in eventually eating the chickens' eggs, not producing more hordes of little chicks.

Somewhere along the way, though, Ed noticed that Prudence's little budding comb was rather larger than her sister Priscilla's.  He suspected Prudence might actually be a Percy, so we watched and waited.  Nine days ago Ed and his mother left for Colorado.  The very next morning, Dylan and I heard several very loud and determined "Cockadoodle-doos" from the backyard!

Exit Prudence.  Enter Percy.  You can see for yourself the difference between Percy (above) and his sister Priscilla in the photo below:

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Barred Plymouth Rock, Priscilla

No big red comb and wattles, and no crowing from Miss Prissy!  At first, Ed planned for Percy to end up in the crock pot after he returns from this trip.  However, I did some Internet research and Ed talked to his friend Jerry in Oregon (who has experience raising chickens), and we both learned that fertilized eggs are no different than unfertilized as long as they are collected daily and immediately refrigerated.  We also discovered that hens who have a rooster tend to be happier, calmer, and better layers than those who don't.  It looks like Percy got a reprieve! 

27 Aug 2011: Miss Prissy still likes to jump up on my lap!

Until Ed left on this trip, I hadn't spent much time with the chickens lately.  Going back to school soaked up most of my free time.  For the last nine days, though, the chickens and I have been spending a lot of time together as Dylan and I have taken over their care.  I've found that Miss Priss is still the dominant personality among the hens, and still the most tame, but she's an awful lot heavier on my lap than she used to be!

27 Aug 2011: All 12 of our 3-month-old chickens out in their yard.

A few weeks ago, Ed completed the chicken yard he added on to the hen house, and the chickens love getting to go outside everyday.  It's fun to watch their different personalities as they vie for food, search for bugs, and establish their pecking order.  Yep, there really is such a thing! 

Percy, of course, is at the top of the pecking order list.  He's very new at this, yet he seems to know instinctively how to manage his flock.  Any lady who gets out of line gets a reminder peck on the head.  If she tries to ignore him, he grabs the front of her face in his beak and holds on for a few seconds while she flaps and squawks as if she's being beaten.  You better believe she follows directions after he lets go!  He is very protective and ushers his ladies right into the chicken house at nightfall, as well as any time he feels danger is nearby.  Dylan has had his feet attacked by an agitated rooster a few times when he entered the hen house after dark! 

27 Aug 2011: Five escapees

Yesterday, when I went out to the hen house to take these pictures, I had an unexpected adventure.  I had left the door to the hen house open wide so I'd have some sunlight for my camera, when one of the hens slipped past me.  As I turned to coax her back in, another got out.  While I tried to herd them back toward the door, two more escaped.  Before I knew it, I was chasing down five escapees!

It was tricky because I was alone.  Not only was Ed gone, but Dylan was away at an overnight campout with the Scouts.  Luckily, the hens don't go too far and they tend to stay in a group unless you spook them.  They just wanted to explore the new grounds, looking for more goodies on the ground to gobble up.  Eventually I rounded them up and got them safely back in their enclosure.  Meanwhile, Percy had been pacing back and force inside the pen, eyeing his escaped ladies anxiously and muttering loudly.

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Easter Egger, Buffy

Thanks to the birds' escapism, I wasn't able to get individual shots of all the birds, but here are a few that I got before I gave up.  Percy and Prissy are both Barred Plymouth Rocks.  Buffy, in the above picture, is one of our six Easter Eggers.  She would be the Number Two hen in dominance, just behind Prissy in the pecking order.

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Easter Egger, Maybelline

It's funny that the chicks I had the hardest time telling apart were the Easter Eggers, because now that they are young adults they are the easiest to tell apart.  I had read that, due to their breed being unregulated, they vary wildly in colors and features, which turns out to be totally true.  Maybelline (above) has earned the nickname "Baldy" from Dylan because...

Maybelline likes to imitate a bald eagle! 

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Easter Egger, Nadia

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Easter Egger, Cocoa

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Black Australorp, Crysta or Sally

Of all twelve chickens, in fact, there are only two I cannot tell apart at this time.  We used to be able to tell our Black Australorps, Crysta and Sally, apart by the markings on their faces.  However, as they've matured, the black spots on their faces have blended into identically smooth, black cheeks and I haven't been able to figure out which is which for several weeks.

27 Aug 2011: On the left is an Easter Egger, Kate,
and on the right is a Silver Laced Wyandotte, Gonzo. 

Our most unusual-looking chicken would be Gonzo, one of our two Silver Laced Wyandottes.  Her sister, Lacey, is beautiful with a sweet, petite face.  Gonzo, you may recall, was given her name by my daughter Sarah, who was intrigued by Gonzo's funny little twisted face.  The name Gonzo came from an odd little Muppet character who had a long, twisted beak, and it seemed to fit our odd little chick.

As Gonzo has grown, her deformity has increased.  Her little comb has contorted to one side, one eye is lower than the other, and her upper beak has twisted so far to her right that it doesn't even close on the lower beak (which seems to be fairly normal and straight), meaning she cannot ever close her mouth.  If you click on the picture above, you can see her sad little face pretty clearly.

Ed tells me that normally a disfigured chicken like Gonzo would be seen as a threat to the flock and would be pecked to death by the others.  Somehow, though, Gonzo has managed to hold her own with her peers and is accepted by them.  I think it's a miracle that she has even survived.  With two halves of a beak that do not meet along the edges at all, I marvel that she can pick up the tiny bits of feed crumbles and scratch feed that make up most of the birds' diet.  Yet Gonzo manages to grow at the same rate as the other chickens and is by no means the smallest bird in our hen house.

27 Aug 2011: 3-month-old Silver Laced Wyandotte, Gonzo

As odd as her distorted little face is to behold, there is also something very beautiful about Gonzo.  I guess you could call it "True Grit," that determination and grace under pressure, her refusal to quit.  And, as you can see in her pictures, Gonzo has the most lovely green sheen to her black tail feathers, a trait that even her pretty sister Lacey does not possess!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Slides: A Family Grows

Autumn 1957:  Caryl Reynolds (age 22) in her first home as a newlywed.

Ed's parents, Eddie Sr. and Caryl, began their life together living in a camper trailer. It was only for a few months, and then they moved into the smaller, older home down the road on the Reynolds Family Farm.

Spring 1958: Caryl (age 22) appears to be expecting a bundle of joy!

It didn't take them long to begin building a family.  Just 11 months after their wedding, they welcomed their first child, a daughter.

1958: Caryl (age 23) and her baby girl, Margaret.

Eddie and Caryl's firstborn, Ed's older sister, was born in July 1958.  She was named Margaret after her maternal grandmother, Caryl's mother.

1960: 2-year-old Margaret and her mother, Caryl (age 25),
who is expecting her second baby, my husband Ed.

Margaret enjoyed the status of "only child" for about two years and two months before she was joined by the first of four younger siblings.

September 1960: Edward Jr. joins the world.

My husband Ed, named Edward Jr. after his father, was born in September 1960 on his dad's 24th birthday.  As I may have mentioned a time or two, we share the same birthday, September first!  Wasn't he a beautiful baby?  His eyes were already a definite shade of brown, even as a newborn.

Autumn 1960- A family of four: Mom Caryl (age 25),
baby Ed Jr., Dad Ed Sr. (age 24), and Margaret (age 2).

Autumn 1960: Mother and son, Caryl and Ed Jr.

1 Sept 1961: Ed Jr. celebrates his first birthday.
3-year-old Margaret really seems to be eying that birthday cake!

1 Sept 1961: Ed Jr. celebrates his first birthday.  What a cutie!

Autumn 1961: Dad Ed Sr. (age 25), baby Lisa, Margaret (age 3),
Ed Jr. (maybe 14-15 months old), and Mom Caryl (age 26).

About a week after Ed Jr. celebrated his first birthday, his parents gave him a big surprise: a new baby sister.  Their third child, Ed's younger sister Lisa, was born in September 1961.

Spring 1962: Ed Jr., Lisa, and Margaret.

1962: Caryl Reynolds (age 26 or 27) still looks great after 3 children!

Down the road, there were still two more children to join the family and more adventures to be had, but I'm going to take a break from the Reynolds family slides and share some current family events for awhile.  I hope you've enjoyed getting to know my new family-by-marriage.  I promise to return one day with more growing-up pictures of my husband and his siblings!

Bonus Picture: Caryl's parents, Harold (age 44) and Margaret Busby,
celebrate their 25th anniversary sometime between July and October 1958.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Slides: Adirondack Honeymoon

August 1957:  Edward Reynolds, Sr., almost 21 years old.

Soon after they were married, Eddie Sr. and "Kay" went on their honeymoon in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York.  They camped, hiked, canoed, and saw the sights.  Eddie Sr. took along his camera, of course, and he shot three rolls of film.  Lots of gorgeous scenery.

August 1957: Edward Reynolds, Sr., almost 21 years old.

August 1957:  Caryl Busby Reynolds, age 22.

August 1957:  Caryl (age 22) prepares a meal.  Notice the sunburnt legs!

While canoing in her short shorts, Caryl badly burned her thighs.  To this day, she remembers the pain of that sunburn!

August 1957: Beautiful scenery in Adirondack State Park.

I put these pictures on a DVD so I could show them to Caryl and see if she could remember the places they went, but most of them brought only vague memories.  I've gone online to search for other peoples' pictures of these places, trying to match them up and come up with a location, but I've had only limited success so far. 

August 1957

Caryl thought this might be Bridal Falls near Allegany State Park, but so far I've been unable to confirm that.

August 1957

August 1957

I was able to find lots of information on "Enchanted Forest of the Adirondacks" in Old Forge, New York, which opened in 1956.  At that time it was mostly made up of a series of houses featuring themes from nursery rhymes and fairy tales, like the one below from Little Red Riding Hood.  (Those types of things used to fascinate me when I was young.  I think I recall something similar at Roeding Park in Fresno, CA, where I grew up.)

August 1957: The Big Bad Wolf at the Enchanted Forest.

The theme park expanded over the years, almost doubling in size and adding thrill rides.  Today it is called Enchanted Forest Water Safari, with many, many water rides.

August 1957: Caryl and Eddie Sr. are locked up, but not sure where!

I don't know whether the old western town in these pictures was also a part of the Enchanted Forest.  Ed thinks it might have been.  I couldn't find references to any western theme parks in Adirondack State Park. 

August 1957: Caryl at the western town.

August 1957: Eddie Sr. indulges his passion for trains somewhere along the way.

August 1957: Caryl Reynolds, age 22.

Caryl thought she remembered these dinosaurs, but they didn't turn out to be where she thought they were.  You'd think the location of dinosaurs would be easy to pinpoint, but I can't find a mention of them anywhere!

August 1957: Eddie Reynolds Sr, age almost 21.