Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Right Stuff

Before we launch into pictures, I have a little story to tell.  One lovely summer morning, I let the dogs into the back yard, where they immediately started barking.  Looking outside, we see a big, fat rattler right next to the trampoline, coiled and hissing as the dogs danced and barked around it.  I ran outside, screaming to be heard over the barking, dragging the dogs back inside to safety.  I shouted at the girls to keep an eye on the snake.  I don't take any joy in killing snakes, but when they are so close to the house, they really have to be dealt with.
Did I mention Mark was already at work?
So...I have the girls call Mark for guidance, while I go hunt down the .22 (in a secret spot), and the ammo (in a different secret spot).  I had shot the rifle before, so in theory I was prepared.  However, that was several months prior.  At a paper circle 50 yards away.  When I wasn't all amped up on adrenaline.
The rifle looks basically like this:
If you know anything about guns, you may already see what's coming.
That scope thing on top?  NOT meant for shooting things 15 feet away.  So I couldn't see through it to sight on the snake.  Also, all I had were regular bullets, vs shot.  Apparently, you have to be a pretty good shot to hit a snake with a bullet.  Which would imply that you could see the snake in the first place!
SO...this was a big fat snake with a looonnnnggg rattle.  Which I will interpret as a sign of being old and wise.  The crafty beast went and hid in a spot where it was very difficult for me to shoot him.  He hid under our travel trailer.  So now I'm down on the ground, trying to poke/throw him away from the trailer with a long stick.  And I'm sweating and grunting and cussing, and occasionally getting a shot in before he sneaks back under the trailer.
Finally, he went down a hole.  And I was surprised to find a trail of blood behind him.  So hopefully he won't come back.
So now I can tell the rest of the story.  As you might guess, I was not happy with our snake-defense capabilities.  So we came upon plan B, snake shot in a hand gun.  And by golly, we were going to practice in a more realistic way! 
The girls drew some targets for us.
Hopefully Mae's giant viper (on the right) will stay only in my nightmares!  But I can still aim for the head.
We laid them out on the ground, just like where we would find a REAL SNAKE.
And we loaded the shot.  We all took turns.
Mae looking tough.

Abigail shows her handiwork.    
We got to see how the shot would hit a snake. Next time, now that we have THE RIGHT STUFF, hopefully I'll be a little more prepared!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Strolls

Spring is in full swing here in Tollhouse!  Abundant sunshine, wildflowers, and tall grass, along with a delicious green smell in the air.  Here are "the ladies" out for a stroll when they spy something.  Something...unusual.
 Something is MOVING IN THAT BOX!
 Relax, Ladies.  It's just the guinea pig.  She likes fresh air and green grass too! 
Every Friday, the dogs and I go for a long walk around the back forty.  There's our house in the distance.  The dogs enjoy sniffing and greeting neighboring horses, goats, llamas and dogs.  Can you blame them?

Here is a very interesting new fence ornament greeting me.  I'm guessing Scotty just recently watched the Karate Kid!
And last, but certainly not least, I got to stroll over to the awards ceremony at Foothill Elementary, where Abigail and Mae were recognized on the honor roll!
Is it any wonder that I LOVE SPRING?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Out and About

Last weekend, Mark and I had one-on-one dates with the girls.  Abigail and I spent the day together, and Mark and Mae spent the day together.  More one-on-one time is one of our goals for this year.  We all had a blast!
Abigail and I went bike riding.  Of course, this entailed going to the store and buying two bikes!  This has been a secret plan of mine for quite a gear up our family for bike riding.  The kids had tiny bikes from several years ago, but they've probably grown a foot since then.  I had an old mountain bike that needed some TLC and new tires, but Mark had nothing, so we needed a big bike too.  SO, off to K-Mart we went.
After we geared up, we went for a cruise on the Old Town Clovis bike trail.  Abigail was particularly impressed with the tunnels.
This rock marks the bottom of the logging flume that ran through Tollhouse in the 1800s!
 Abigail.  And another tunnel.
For a very, very, special treat on our very special day, we stopped at Subway.  Here is a selfie of that event.  Obviously, we need to work on the mechanics of selfies, so I don't have five chins, and Abigail knows where to look.  No wonder people practice!
For their special day, Mae and Mark took the dogs to the Kings River, about an hour away from our house.  I want our New Hampshire family to see that we do have rivers here!  And they are beautiful!  We need to come here more often, especially when it's warmer.
Mae with her boys.  I just love this picture!
 So what did we do THIS weekend?  We did those same things with the whole family!  We went for a family bike ride on the Clovis trail on Friday, and went back to the Kings River on Saturday!  Here is Mark, trying to coax the dogs into the water.  They were having NONE of it!
 Jax is mostly lab...he should love the water, right?  But he sat there and cried, and would not budge.
 This area of the river is called Kirsch Flats.  Our black & white dog is named Kirsch.  Coincidence?  Nope.  Two years ago, Mark, Scott, and the kids found Kirsch as a tiny puppy in these very bushes.  Here is Scotty, looking for the exact bush.
The dogs did get a little bolder in this shallow water.
And I think they got worried about Scotty out there on the rocks.  Come back to shore, Scotty!
So, looks like our one-on-one time was a double-good investment!  Great success :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chickens and...Donkeys?

In light of the fact that we just may get a few more chickens, we decided to repurpose an old cat house (yes...a cat house).  Fortunately it did not have cat pee issues, so that made the transition do-able.  We joined it to the run with a little door on the bottom, and the girls cleaned it out and put new bedding in it. 
 Doesn't it look comfy?
Also, I promised a picture of our second set of odd-looking, timid chickens.  Any guesses as to what type of chickens these are?  They look like some kind of chicken/hawk cross to me.  They do have greenish-grey legs, so I'm hoping their eggs are green, like an Araucana chicken.  But wait, here's the big news...
 Our first egg!
And on the same day, we found a second egg!  They were lovely, light brown, and medium sized.  And they were tasty ;-)
In other news, just to convince everyone (myself included) that I have a life outside of chickens, here is a picture of a big night out last week:  Donkey Basketball 
 Boys vs. Girls.  It is always a tough game.
Girls won this year...kind of.  Either way, it was a really good game!
Apparently all these people agree.  Packed house in Tollhouse!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Bird Lady

Well, it finally happened.  We got chickens.  And I am in chicken love.
 In fact, I think our whole family is in chicken love!
Meet Violet, Miss Honey, and Amber (L-R)  We got these three young chickens from a friend.  They are not old enough to lay, but it should happen any day now!
 They came with a little coop, and Mark built an outdoor run. 
 They don't really like to be held, but sometimes we insist on it!
We then got another two young chickens from another friend.  They were getting picked on in their own flock.  I'll have to include pictures of them later.
Okay, so here is my friend Jen, who really IS already a crazy bird lady (she has chickens AND ducks.  And a parrot).  Jen brought a little science experiment from her flock.  She had a brooding hen who was sitting on a bunch of eggs, and after several weeks, she abandoned the nest.  So Jen wanted to investigate.  She candled them (i.e. shined a bright light through them) first, and we could see that there was something inside.  So naturally, we broke them open.
 I won't show you real close-up pictures.  It was not for the faint of heart, and Andrews face demonstrates!
 But it WAS really interesting. Good science lesson, right in our front yard! 
And it motivated us to talk about getting an incubator.  Let the chicken sit on some golf balls! 
Yep, I'm well on my way to becoming a crazy bird lady too!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Great Start!

Here we are, the Schlaefer family unit, off on a Schlaefer family adventure.  We are about to climb on Tollhouse Rock.
It's been a while since ANY of us climbed.  Just over a year for Mark.  About a year and a half for the girls (unless you count the climbing tower at the Fresno Fair!).  And for least 12 years if not more.
 But one of our goals for 2015 is to get out and climb.
 Well, really it started out as getting Mark out to climb, but he does need some company!
 So we got the girls out on the rock, and they completely scampered up the wall. 
 Here's Abigail.
 Success (total time...literally maybe 2 minutes)
 And here is Mae.
 Another success!  They made it look SO EASY!  So easy that maybe even...
 Hey...I MADE IT (in a significantly longer time than 2 minutes, but I was still happy)
 Here's Mark rappelling down the second climb after setting it up.
 Setting Abigail up for the second climb.  A 5.7 face which she again scampered up.
 Mae and Scotty did some exploring.  Of COURSE they cleared this cave of snakes before they crawled in.  Right?  Of course they did.  With the flashlight on my cell phone.
 Here's that second climb.  Not much to grab onto! 
 But we all got up.  Abigail even climbed it a second time to "clean" the gear off...a first for her!
 Poor Scotty.  He came along, but his feet have grown so much since last time, he couldn't fit into any of our shoes! 
I think he still had fun, though.
 The view was so beautiful, with the fog blanketing the Valley.  Poor Fresno.
 We stopped at Tollhouse Grill for breakfast on the way up, and milkshakes on the way down.
Taking a moment to review the massive shell collection (no, not sea shells).  Apparently the top of Tollhouse Rock is also a favorite place to shoot many different firearms.  In fact, there were lots of shots fired WHILE WE WERE THERE.  Yikes.  That was a little nerve-wracking.
So instead of a milkshake, I had a Corona.  The End.