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Joyeux Fêtes

Happy Holidays, everyone.  I guess I'm posting too late to legitmately wish you all a Merry Christmas, so general holiday greetings it is.

In this season, I gifted myself with grace.

Instead of making sure that supper was ready exactly on time, I took a moment to admire this chaffinch  bullfinch (thanks nipernaadiagain) at sunset:


and walk to the top of the pasture to photograph this cloud that was doing its best to make a local volcano look like the scientists are wrong in saying it is extinct:



Instead of worrying about mess, I let the kids do their own thing and prepare Sprout's created recipe for "rollashines."*


Instead of baking another batch of cookies, I took a walk with the family in the Christmas Eve fog:





I hope you are all being gracious and kind to yourselves this holiday season.  See you next year, if not sooner.

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* Sprout invented rollashines (kind of a stovetop cookies with wildly variable ingredients and amounts, or shall we say "highly personalizable) when she was two or three. I still have the paper where she drew the many shapes a rollashine can be take, even what she calls "Chinese rollashines" for some reason. :P Junebug, now to be known as Farmer Boy, at his request, loves making them, too.

Bye Bye, Birdies

Wednesday morning, we braved the snow and piercing wind to buy some ducks at a local bi-monthly farmer's market.  We got four Muscovies: one drake and three hens. We put them in the stable with the chickens, having sectioned off a secure place for them that would still give our chickens access to both their coop and the outdoors.

Well, the ducks were stronger than we accounted for, and they were able to push through the barrage we had made.  I went to close up the hens a little before sundown and found that the ducks had literally flown the coop.*  I spent almost 2 hours looking for them in the rain and dark, to no avail. I went out yesterday, checking all the nearby ponds, again with no luck. I think they are well and truly gone.  I'm so bummed, and it isn't just for the financial loss. We have so many foxes around here; I don't know if the ducks can make it out there on their own.

It is a long shot, but if the farmer we bought them from is at the next market, I'll ask him if they flew home. I don't know where he lives, but I understood from what he said that his farm is minimum 40km from here.

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* It didn't even cross my mind to ask the farmer if he had clipped their wings, and while I don't know for sure if they flew, I could find no trace of them around the house.

Not a Crazy Chicken Lady

...but I could easily become one.

I really love taking care of our chickens. I took this photo the other day to show queenoftheskies the variety of eggshell colors our hens lay:

IMG_6446.jpg

The difference is very faint in this photo, but it looks like the two light colored eggs are from different hens. Perhaps not because I don't know who the other layer could be, because...

...before I got around to posting the previous photo, Storm finally came into lay,. Her eggs are dark brown, leaning towards pinky-purple. So here is another photo on white paper to show the creaminess of Lightning's egg (far right) with the breed noted:
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See the size of Storm's egg (far left) compared to the other hens who have been in lay longer? This is only her second egg, and it is already quite big. Even though she is not my favorite hen personality-wise (more skittish than standoffish), I might be interested in getting more of her breed because they grow big and fast without intensive feeding. Perfect for a family of four meat-eaters (Sprout only eats bacon and crispy chicken skin) because Junebug looooooves chicken.  But maybe he loves sausage even more. Yes, we will be getting our own pigs. Soon I hope.

Meet the flock

This is a post I first made on DW*, but I added a bit more info along with the pics.

Let’s start this catching up with baby steps. Seems easy to talk about our chickens, so I’ll begin there. Back in this post I mentioned the flock, but things have changed since then.
The day J went back to Cairo, he first made an early morning dash to a nearby farm to get two ready-to-lay hens for us. Because, you know, I was trying to get settled into a new house with three kids in another country and had just fallen down some stairs and seriously wrecked my arm. Of course I needed more things to take care of.  Remember this point of needing more to do; it comes up often. :P In all seriousness, though, we were all ready to start eating some farm-fresh eggs, fresh from our farm, that is.
Wazel Peck and Pêche are both good layers, but Pêche is certainly the star. Poor Wazel got a bad case of worms in August and is now undergoing a major moult, so her laying has been seriously sidelined. They are both typical hybrid hens, what people around here simply call « Les poules rousses. »

Pêche:
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The hen on the left is Wazel Peck, when she was feeling well, next to Lila, the little Buff Orpington that I mentioned being sick:
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And here are Wazel Peck and Lila again, now that Wazel is moulting and Lila is back on her feet.  Yep, against the odds that everyone around here said Lila wouldn’t—couldn’t—beat, she is mended and doing great. She convalesced in the house for over a month, and I doctored her with elderberries, self-heal, comfrey, nettles,** propolis, and thyme and clove essential oils. When she got a sinus infection, I gave her injections of Tylon, or however it is spelled.
IMG_1378.jpg

Lila, looking spry and doing ever-so-much better. Love her character; she is curious, friendly, brave, and independent:

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This is « my » hen, Winona, a Wyandotte, who is still with us even after being attacked by something, possibly a hawk. Not only do I think Wyandottes are beautiful, the race has a lot of characteristics that made me choose her, like being known for being good mothers. We hope to hatch our own chicks come spring to supplement some day-olds that we'll buy for meat birds:
IMG_9894.jpg
Sprout’s other hen, Lightning, a Gournay, who is now helping Pêche keep us in eggs. Some people believe that the Gournay line has roots in chickens brought to France by the Vikings:
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Cot-Cot, Ti’Loup’s Bourbonnaise. This is an old photo; her crest is quite big now and I think she’ll be the next one to come into lay. She is also a hen that I really like. Similar to Lila, she is very energetic and a real go-getter. Not skittish, very curious, and a fantastic forager:
IMG_9652.jpg
And an earlier photo alongside a current one of our Noire de Berry rooster, Rico. I wish I had a picture of him before he got attacked by our neighbor’s dog the other day. His tail was quite magnificent. We’re just happy he is still with us and that I went outside in time when I  heard all the ruckus.
IMG_9917.jpg IMG_1369.jpg
After Wazel has her first spell of not laying and Lila being at death’s door, I asked the breeder from whom we bought the majority of our flock if she had any hens that were ready to lay because one egg a day was not cutting it. She sold us Storm, a Coucou Malines Tête de Dindon (turkey head). That was over two months ago, and we are still waiting on an egg from her. :-/ When, after a month of waiting, we half-jokingly asked the breeder if she mistakenly sold us a rooster, she said, « She has to lay one of these days." Color me irritated.
IMG_0402.jpg
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* I'm fed up with DW and will be posting on LJ again.

** On a couple of blogs and forums, I’ve read people in the States saying that elderberry and nettles are poisonous for chickens. Why is that? Chickens in France are regularly fed nettles, which are excellent on the nutrition front, a real superfood. Our chickens wouldn’t touch unripe elderberries, but once the berries were ripe, the chickens loved them, and I firmly believe they played an integral part in Lila’s healing.

Lemming

Despite that I have a permanent account here on LJ, I'm going to be active on DW now because most of my flist has already migrated that way. If you want to keep in touch over there, I'm wayfaringwordhack.

I may or may not post more over there than over here. Life is still in a very busy season for me, even more so since our departure date from Egypt has been moved up by three weeks. Still, I'm going to try...

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I have no subject line

So, things:

Got my laptop back from the shop.  It works. Not perfectly, but certainly functional and probably for many years. No thanks to Apple.

I have some crud that really resembles strep throat.* I am self-medicating with homemade remedies and feeling better. J seems to have something similar (he has congestion; I had none. My fever lasted 2 days; his is going on four...), but the doc said J probably has something viral. A pediatrician came to the house today and said the three kids have strep. Didn't do a swab test or send anything to the lab, though.

I am not going to miss Egypt, but here are a few things that I will be sad to have no more of:

- Access to Egypt's mad love affair with all things DELIVERY! Seriously awesome when you are sick and can't muster the energy to cook for the sick family.

- Awesomely exotic blooming trees. (Note to self: take some pics when you feel better)

- The smell of citrus trees in bloom. Heady.

- The network of lovely people we've met here


And now time for bed.  Oh, I'm going to miss that, too. Our mattress here is terrific. Not so the one waiting on us back in France. :P

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* I spent almost all day yesterday lying in bed, watching this guy paint with his baby in his arms:

So relaxing. :D

Settling in

After a blessedly uneventful trip, we are back in Egypt for the final stretch.  It is a weird feeling this time, knowing we are set to experience so many "lasts." Last time to do this, that, and the other here in Egypt. I've been doing that, more or less, since end of July, but this time it has kicked up a notch.

I've started mentally sorting our possessions, deciding what will go back with us and what won't. I'm so eager for things to move that I want to start giving away those won't things right now. It is too soon, though, and that would be just silly.  Still the ansty-ness is distracting as I'm trying to settle back in.

There are so many things to get done:

- Get N'Djema vaccinated, etc. in prep for our trip
- Get Junebug and Ti'Loup their American nationality (yes, I am lousy about taking care of admin stuff)
- Decide whether or not I want to do pottery and/or jewelry-making workshops before we leave here, and if so, Get on with it!
and lots of other things that my tired mind can't think of right now... Things which aren't the usual, "make progress on my art/books/etc."

Also, despite many attempts on J's part, we're still no closer to knowing what is going on with our car. Today he contacted someone who may be able to help. Fingers crossed. Because if it can run, or isn't in too bad of shape, we have to decide if we want to take it back to France and look into the cost and procedure of that.

Sneak Peek

Last night, we signed the papers blocking in the sale for the house.

I will spend many hours fetching books from this little library and reading on that sofa in front of the fire. :D



I spent many an hour going through our boxes (many, many, many book boxes) in order to get ready for the move.*  Today I have to pack our suitcases. Back to Egypt tomorrow.

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* When we sold our house in 2006 and moved to Mayotte, we put our belongings into storage at my MIL's place. We've continued to add to that stock over the last 10 years. She has had enough, to say the least. We'll soon be out of you hair, MIL; soon! :D

The Goat Rides Again

Or does she?

Goat is the name we gave our car that was stolen a year and a half ago. A few days before we left for our holiday, J was getting ready to throw away the key. "Wait," I said. "You never know."

J got a call today saying the police found Goat in Suez.

We don't know what condition the car is in, but it still has its diplomatic plates and these are what we need to hand over to customs when we leave the country in order to avoid heavy penalties.

Praise the Lord, whether she rides or not.

If she does, she just might come back to France with us, carrying all our boxes.

What's gone and what's to come

Hello and Happy New Year.

2016 was a busy year, full of good and bad. Too much to sum up, even. A few things in no particular order because how can one classify things like this:

We gave birth to Ti'Loup, who is now 7.5 months old.
My mother was diagnosed with esphogal cancer.
My grandmother died.
I wrote a Middle Grade fantasy novel.
We found a house to buy in France (our offer was accepted on New Year's Eve; we have yet to sign the papers).

2017 is the year we leave Egypt and come home, the year we have to declare that we are unschooling Sprout, the year I need to get my picture book finished...

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We're in France now, and everyone is sick, so I don't have much energy. I looked back through LJ, but I don't have the energy to comment on everything. Sending good vibes and get well wishes to those of you who need them.

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