Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas is Upon Us

I haven't been blogging much lately.   I was away again to Alberta to pick up my car.  We had to dig the car out of a huge snowbank and knock off the ice before I could even open the doors. I stayed and visited relatives when Barry went back to work up near Fort Mac.  I also did some shopping as well before heading home.

I got home and finished my fall cleaning and got my Christmas cards and letters all sent out.  I also had fun mailing parcels and shopping for the new grandkiddies.  There are such sweet clothes and crafty toys out there.  Shopping for kids is so much fun!

Barry got home about a week ago and we had +15°C when he got here.  The snow was all gone until Friday when we has about 6" and have been shovelling a fair bit since then.

I am planning on taking a break from blogging for awhile as I don't have much to share.  I do have some pictures of Lulu left that I plan to share sometime.  Since it is winter, there is no gardening to share.  And since Barry is away so much, I don't do much baking or trying out new recipes.

In the new year, I will be painting the ceiling in the kitchen so will not spend much time cooking anything too special with that mess in there.

I am still having a hard time missing Lulu.  I finally put away her kennel and stuff from her corner of the kitchen.  I just couldn't bring myself to put it away until now.  I would have never thought I would miss her so much for so long but I still have a hollow place in my chest when I think about her.

I found this poem that I would like to share with you.  One member of a Facebook group called The Chickenistas, that I belong to, posted it.  It is called The Night Before Christmas at Rainbow Bridge by Cindy Morgan.  I hope you take a few minutes to read it, especially if you have had pets that you have loved and lost.

I wish all my friends and readers a Merry Christmas and Happy and fulfilling New year.  Take care of yourselves.  Joan

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Killed A Pillow

It has been a very long week since we got home from Alberta.  There were many loads of laundry to do as I was gone almost a month plus we brought all the bedding, etc. from the trailer. 

I usually do fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning so had that on my mind as well.  We also bought several light fixtures, so Barry had those to put up too.

I revived my sourdough from sitting dormant in the fridge for a month and baked a double batch of bread.

There were carrots to dig and leaves to rake.  The herb garden and ground covers needed to be put to bed as well.  Lots of odd jobs inside and out.

Anyway, back to the pillow.  A feather pillow came back from the trailer stained, as I think it was the one my son used when he had a slight nose bleed.  Now this was not the first time I washed a pillow.  But unfortunately it was the first (and last) time I washed a feather pillow in the same load as a set of fleece sheets.  My mind was elsewhere when I was loading the washer much to my later dismay.

Now Barry loved these sheets and they kept him warm in the trailer on cool nights.  Ever since we got them, he has commented again and again how much he likes them.

Anyway, when I opened the washer after the load was done I found it full of feathers.  The pillow had exploded.  Now I'm sure I don't know how all those feathers fit in one solitary pillow (a fairly skinny one at that).  The machine was full of wet feathers and there was water in the bottom when we lifted out the sheets.  (I think the feathers had plugged the drain.)

The sheets were heavy with water and full of feathers, and I do mean FULL OF FEATHERS.  We took them out to try to shake the feathers off and to wring them out with not much success.  All that happened it we got feathers stuck to our pants and cold, wet hands.  So we left them sitting outside while we tackled the washer.  It took a long day to get enough feathers out so it started working again.  But for many washes after, it still spits our feathers onto the clothes - all clothes - knit sweaters, fleece pants, socks, you name it all come out a bit feathered.

We tried to rewash the sheets to get out the feathers but the sheets still looked bad and now we had to clean the machine again.  The dryer took many feathers out of the sheets but you can only run them through so many times on fluff.

The only way they will be usable will be if I sit and pluck each and every feather out by hand.  (Barry tried a lint brush and the vacuum with little to no success.)  That may be my winter movie watching project but we'll have to see.  I hate to toss them out as they are very new but really don't want to spend hours plucking the sheets either.

Oh well, some lessons are learned the hard way.  Hope you week was better than mine.  ;)

Monday, November 4, 2013

On the Road Again

Well I'm finally on my way home after almost a month away.  I started out by visiting Barry near Sundre, AB and cooking half a turkey (that's all that fit in the trailer oven!) for Thanksgiving.  He had days off so we just vegged out - eating, snoozing, reading, etc.  It was a nice restful break.

Then we took a trip to Battleford, Sask. for a funeral before I headed to Saskatoon to visit friends and relatives.  I had lots of time to visit mom and dad during the week I was there.  I went over to Michael's several times to visit the new grandkiddies.  Josie, Mikhyan and I decorated the windows for Halloween with skeletons, pumpkins and more.  We then made cheese biscuits cut in Halloween shapes to go with Becky's chili.  What sweet kiddies!  I had so much fun! 

I also had time to visit a number of friends, catching up on each others lives since we last got together.  I had some teary moments talking about Lulu.  I can usually talk about her but still get teary-eyed on occasion.  I ordered photos and made the photographer sad when he learned about Lulu.  He wrote some thoughtful words on their Facebook page under Lulu's photo (originally dated June 21). 

I took a day trip to Shellbrook, Sask to visit Kim and Marj (she wrote the poem about Lulu).  We had Marj's homemade soup and Kim's homemade bread for lunch.  Yum!

I went back to Saskatoon for a few more days to fix a few problems. I had just replaced my windshield before I left and got a big stone chip right in my line of vision the first few days of the trip.  I got it fixed in plus got my car stereo replaced as the cd player quit working and radio reception in the mountains is sparse. 

When I left for Sundre again, I met wet snow and slushy roads starting near Hanna, AB so the trip wasn't much fun.  I needed to wash the car when I got to Sundre because of an unexpected 4 mile detour on soupy gravel roads.  The car was covered with brown ice and mud.  What a mess!

I stayed in Sundre and packed up the trailer as Barry will be coming home for awhile and everything freezable needs to be removed.  We then took a day to visit Barry's brother in Lacombe, AB who had just got out of the hospital a few days ago.

When we woke up Sunday to start home, we found over a foot of snow had dumped overnight.  We decided to stay one more day so the roads would get cleaned before we head out.  So bright and early Monday we are on our way home.  I hope we don't have snow at home because I left carrots in the ground, not expecting to be gone so long.

Anyway, winter arrived on the prairies and I am heading home.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lulu's Photo Shoot

For my mom and dad's 60th anniversary, my sisters and I decided it was time to get family portraits done as it had been quite a few years since we have had them done.

We went to Picture Perfect Portraits in Saskatoon and they said we could choose about six to eight groupings.  When we were deciding what groupings to do, I asked Joyce to let the photographer know that I was bringing Lulu and would like some pictures done of her.  I had been thinking about getting her photo done by a professional  for quite awhile but hadn't ever gotten around to it.

The photographer, Adam was excited to have Lulu as a subject.  His mom had chickens as a child that followed her to school.  Adam couldn't wait to tell his mom about Lulu.

The following are some of the proofs that included (or showcased) Lulu.  We had other photos done while she waited patiently in her crate.

Adam started first with me having my arm around Lulu so she would feel comfortable before I left her on her own.

Then he started snapping photos of Lulu alone and I think they turned out marvelous.

Lulu was very busy looking around at everything.
I stood near Adam and called Lulu but there was so much to look at she ignored me.

It is going to be hard to choose which photos to enlarge as I love them all.
I was so proud of her because she sat so nice on the pillar and didn't make a fuss.

I am so glad that we had these photos done and that Adam was such a good sport.

I now will have some lovely photos of my sweetie to hang on the wall in her corner of the kitchen.

We had the group pictures done last and when we were almost finished, Adam said to go and get Lulu so she was in some of the group shots as well.  She is hard to see in the proofs because of the watermarks.

At the end of the session, Adam asked another photographer to snap his photo with Lulu so he could send it to his mom.  They then posted it on their Facebook page.
All in all, it was an exciting day.  The photo session went great plus then at supper, Michael, my youngest son told us he asked Becky, his girlfriend to marry him the evening before.  Michael has always been fairly mum about his girlfriends and we didn't meet Becky until that night at supper!
After spending time with her on that anniversary weekend, I couldn't be happier.  She is a lovely girl plus as a bonus, she has two young children so I am instant grandma!  Woohoo!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sourdough Sharing - Muffins

October is the time of year I finish putting the yard and garden to bed and to finish making juice, jam and other preserves.  I then travel to Alberta and Saskatchewan for several weeks visiting relatives and friends before winter hits with a vengeance.  So this month, I am linking to a previously blogged recipe.

This month's sourdough challenge is muffins and quick breads.  I have a preference for muffins as you can freeze a batch and then just take out one or two as needed.

I have tried several muffin recipes but always come back to this Bran Muffin recipe.  It is moist and tasty - I always loved bran muffins with molasses as an ingredient and this is my all time favorite recipe.

The recipe calls for raisins and nuts but I sometimes add chopped dates instead of the raisins and nuts.  I have also used dried cranberries or dehydrated cherries instead of the raisins and I have substituted sunflower seeds instead of nuts.
I hope everyone enjoys this month's offering of muffins and quick bread in the links below. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Canadian Geese

** photos taken in June 2013

Lulu and I spent the week after my parents' 60th anniversary visiting in Saskatchewan.  The following weekend, Lulu and I travelled to Regina with my parents to a reunion on my maternal grandmother's side and to meet relatives visiting from England.

While we were there, we visited the Legislative grounds and saw the Canadian Geese.

There are geese that stay in Regina all year long and no longer migrate.  There is a warm inlet on Wascana Lake that doesn't freeze all winter.

Lulu had to stay in the car while I was taking photos of the geese because there were a number of very large dogs around and I didn't want to take any chances.

The geese seemed to have set up babysitters (gosling-sitters?) because most of the adults were on the lake-side on the road and the young ones were on the tree-side of the road.

Oops!  These guys stopped traffic while they crossed to be with the others.

The goslings were all the same size except for one.  Can you see him in the crowd?

There he is bringing up the rear.

Here are a couple adults near the lake.

For some reason, none of them were in the water.  Everyone was on dry land.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I have tomatoes coming out the ying-yang.  Even though I only planted 6 plants (4 regular and 2 cherry type) I have boxes of green tomatoes in the garage.  I picked and pulled out my tomatoes yesterday because they have been threatening frost for the last few days.  It went down to +3°C last night but since I am going visiting over the next few weeks, I decided it is time to put my yard and garden to bed.

So back to the tomatoes.  I have made spaghetti sauce and canned a number of red tomatoes but wanted to get rid of some of the green ones.

My sister-in-law, Barb sent me her recipe for mincemeat since I have an abundance of green tomatoes and apples.  I decided to give it a whirl since I love her mincemeat.  (I was lucky enough to have received a few jars from her last year.)


6 c chopped green tomatoes
6 c chopped apples (cored and peeled)
3 c raisins
1 c suet or butter
3/4 c vinegar
1 c mixed peel
4 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp salt

Core and chop tomatoes.  I used my food processor on pulse.

Place tomatoes in a large pot and cover with hot water.  Bring to a boil and the drain thoroughly.

Do that 3 times.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix well and cook for an hour.

Fill sealers and process in hot water bath for  25 minutes.

I got 5 quarts of mincemeat.  Barb's was slightly browner in colour but I added a bit more tomatoes and apples since I had lots. 
Store until needed for pie, tarts or squares.  Last year I made some squares similar to matrimonial cake but used mincemeat instead of the date mixture.  They were very yummy.  ;)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lulu and the Buffalo

*** photos taken June 2013

Lulu and I stopped at the Western Development Museum in North Battleford.  It was time for a bathroom break for me and a grass break for Lulu.

At the edge of the parking lot, there was a statue of a buffalo so we decided it was a good photo-op.  As we neared the statue I saw this sign on the rock.  I thought it was referring to how buffalo ran wild and free many years ago on the prairies.

Lulu looked at the buffalo and said, "What a big animal he is!"

"But he isn't as big as some of the things we've seen, is he?"  queried Lulu.

"No" I said, "he is more life-sized instead of world's largest."

"Oh" said Lulu, "but I still wouldn't want to get him mad, his horns look sharp!"

"His fur looks funny!" said Lulu.

And sure enough, when I got closer I realized what the sign was all about.  The buffalo was made from barbed wire.  How neat is that!

So after Lulu walked around eating grass and looking for bugs, we continued on our journey.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lulu in Cutknife

*Note - photos were snapped and post was written in June 2013.

On our way to Saskatoon from Bonnyville, Lulu and I took the scenic route and stopped at Cutknife, Sask. to see the World's Largest Tomahawk.

It had just finished raining so it was nice to get out and stretch.  Lulu stretched her neck and looked around at the sights.

"What happened to that building?"  Lulu asked.  "What's that thing sticking in the roof?"

"And look at those feathers!"  exclaimed Lulu.  "What kind of bird are those from?"

"I wouldn't want to meet that bird!"  said Lulu looking around.  "Mom!  You are too far away!  I need protection!"

"I think we looked around enough," said Lulu.  Let's get back in the car before that big bird comes around."

And so we continued on our way.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sourdough Sharing - Sourdough Gingerbread Waffles

This month's sourdough challenge was pancakes and waffles.  I had recently been given an almost new waffle iron from my sister who didn't want it and decided to try this recipe for Gingerbread Waffles from my Sourdough Cookery Cookbook by Rita Davenport.

1/2 c molasses
6 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 c sourdough
1 c milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp sugar

Mix molasses, oil, sourdough, milk and eggs.  Combine dry ingredients and mix into the first mixture.

Heat waffle iron.

Pour amount batter onto waffle iron suggested by manufacturer (different amounts for different sizes irons).

Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until done.

Remove to rack.  Cut if necessary.

Top with butter and serve.

The recipe suggests eating them with applesauce and bacon or whipped cream and bananas.  I served them with mulled applesauce.  Very yummy!

The recipe said it makes 6 small waffles so I doubled it.  I will definitely make these again.  Enjoy!
Check out other pancake and waffle recipes shared below.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm Back

This has been a very tough summer.  Losing Lulu took a lot out of me.  I have been very lonely and down in the dumps and often cried at the drop of a hat.  I was lucky that Barry was home several times throughout the summer and I went to see him when I needed to get away.

I had trouble weeding this summer because every time I went outside, I expected to see Lulu.  It was hard to dig weeds and see the beetles and worms that she would have loved to eat.  It seems like a chore now that she isn't there to egg me on. 

The wasps have been especially ferocious this year.  I have never been stung before but both Barry and I have been stung three times each. They are everywhere!  I got stung digging garlic and also while picking a plum.  Many outdoor chores are best done early in the morning before the sun rises over the mountain or in the evening when they seem to have settled for the night.

As a result of both missing Lulu and fighting off the wasps, my garden did not do too well.  By the time Barry was here to help out, the weeds had more or less taken over.  We did have some successes - cukes, cabbage and tomatoes did well.  In fact, the cukes went crazy after a very slow start.  I have been giving away at least two grocery bags of them a week!  We have eaten tons ourselves (I love Greek Salad!) and made some relish, etc.

I was disappointed with the corn this year.  I didn't plant my regular variety and found this year's corn too starchy.  Plus I had trouble enjoying corn on the cob this year because Lulu was always there to share it in the past.  It just seemed to stick in my throat. 

I have been making jam and juice as well as freezing fruit for later use but haven't taken any pictures so those recipes will not make it to my blog.  I have had trouble staying focused on blogging.

I am doing somewhat better now but still find I get teary-eyed now and then.  Last week at the grocery store, I had trouble when one of the clerks asked me about Lulu.  I hadn't seen her since Lulu died so she was unaware.  She would always ask me, "How's your baby?" and tell me that she told her kids and other relatives about Lulu.  It was hard to tell her about Lulu without breaking down in the checkout line.

I have quite a few photos of stops with Lulu on the trip in June for my parents' 60th anniversary.  I will be posting them since so many of your seemed to enjoy Lulu's adventures. 

I will be slowing down my blogging as I don't have much gardening happening and I haven't recorded very many recipes.  I don't plan to stop but may not be as regular as I have been.

I thank all of you who sent kind words or called to offer your sympathy.  My sweet little chicken is firmly entrenched in my heart.  I miss her so.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sourdough Crackers - Sharing Recipes

This month's sourdough sharing is crackers.  Now I've always wanted to make homemade crackers and this seemed like a good chance to try my hand at it.  And using sourdough was a neat bonus.  There are so many ways to make a recipe your own - herbs, cheese, seeds and more.

Unfortunately, I've had a tough month with my dear, sweet house chicken, Lulu getting sick and me having to put her to sleep.  She was very special to me and I miss her so much.

I did want to link to all the recipes showcased this month so I have a starting point when I get around to making my own crackers.

Enjoy the following links and recipes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

In Memory of Lulu

I have received many heartfelt words and remembrances of Lulu from friends and relatives after I wrote of her passing.  I thank you all for your kindness.

Today I am passing on one such message I recently received.  I received this letter and poems from my friend of many years, Marjorie Bradley from Shellbrook, Saskatchewan.  Lulu and I visited Marj several years ago.  It was a nice fall day so we were able to sit and visit outside and Lulu scratched and fertilized some of the flower beds and plantings in the front yard while we enjoyed the sunny warmth of the day and our friendship.

Marj's letter touched on so many Lulu memories that made me smile.  I am linking the references in the letter to past posts so you can remember with us.  Marj also concluded her letter with an original poem that I'm sure you will agree captures Lulu perfectly. 

Thanks Marj for your permission to share these wonderful thoughts and memories.

Dear Joan,


Missed opportunities.  When you wrote of Lulu's death, I went to my files where I vaguely recalled having started a poem - or Dr. Seuss style story about Lulu.  I see now and remember that it started with your blog about Lulu's tail feathers as well as the flock's moulting.  I never sat down with the discipline to be quiet until the muse came. 

This afternoon, I've been going through my favorite Lulu posts - her affair with the corn flakes guy - her dust bath at your parents' home - her game of hide-and-seek amongst the garlic, the cedar and the rhubarb - her egg laying ritual - her beer breaks with Joan and Barry - her travels to all those larger-than-life roadside monuments.

I thank you for sharing Lulu with the world - and feel privileged that she came to visit in Oct. 2011!  I've told all my best friends about Lulu's antics - yesterday it was my ladies book club at the care home.  They were all intrigued.

I was delighted that you caught the photo at Cochrane with the Beggs' "Legacy" sculpture.  I really think that they would enjoy receiving a photo of Lulu joining their bronze flock!  What a legacy that chicky left in her wake!

Despite the fact that I grew up on a farm with an everchanging flock of chickens, I've learned more about the creatures because of you and Lulu - the changes in the comb, the whole egg laying - or not egg laying drama - and I daresay that you learned not just factual stuff because of Lulu - but of course, all the companionship and affection and challenge of the heart - that you're missing so - right now.

On vacation, before I heard of Lulu's end of life, I'd purchased a book at a museum titled "I am Full Moon", it's a memoir by Lily Hoy Price, who grew up in Quesnel.  I marked the passage from her story Chickens to share with you - and at the time, Lulu - it underlines what you both know. . .

"From a nearby shed, I scooped a tin of wheat kernels from a gunny sack.  The wheat felt cool and slippery under my fingers. 'Come little chickens, come, cluck, cluck, cluck,' I beckoned.  I threw a wide arc of kernels in the air and laughed to see them chickens dance towards the feed.  They pecked at the granules, rummages for insects, cocked their red-comb heads and fluffed iridescent feathers.  I noticed their different personality traits.  Some followed, others led.  Some stood alone.  Others socialized.  Some sought shade from the sun, others burrowed in the ground to keep cool.

"As I played with my feathered friends I was oblivious to the heat.  I completely forgot about the muggy stench of the chicken house.  Rose came running down the path from the store towards the house.  'Hey, don't forget to gather the eggs!' "

Peck!  Peck!  Cr-a-a-a-ck!

She hatched right out of her egg one day
With a spirit that shouted, "Hip, hip, hooray!"
Her feathers fluffed and she learned to peck,
At weeds, at seeds, at an insect speck.
Her peers looked down their beaks at her;
Stat!  Joan planned a Lulu transfer.
Lulu went out in the yard to hide,
She left her nesting box stowed inside.
Then, "An egg is coming!" she sang out loud,
"I'll lay it there, away from the crowd."
Lulu hopped up steps on her gimpy leg,
Turned around, settled in, and laid her egg.
Once more, Lu-hen cackled, loud and true,
"I've laid an egg, that's just what I do!"
Worms and beetles she'd seek in the garden,
Right beside Joan; begging her pardon.
When afternoon yard work stopped, Lulu kept track,
'Cause Lulu knew "Beer?" meant "It's time for a snack!"
Chez pantry, magnificent M'sieu de Corn Flake:
She was his Duck, he was her Drake.
Lu' once claimed the end table, wanting -a snack?
Was put down, but Lulu just hopped right back.
When Barry got vexed, Lu's beak was put out;
She took to her roost for a long, drawn-out pout.
And then, a road trip - off to see Barry,
Remember the dog that was way way too scary?!
They stopped at each town to see all the big things,
But the best was at Cochrane: bronze chickens with wings!

Lulu, dear Lulu!  Your antics we'll miss,
Thanks dearest Chickie, your life spelled out bliss!

Honouring her life with laughter and stories,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lend Me A Bird

I found this somewhere on the internet a number of years ago.  I can't remember the source but it may have been Backyard Chickens. 

It touched me then and it touches me deeper now.  My dear sweet, Lulu, you had so many lessons for us to learn.  You were a wonderful teacher.  God Bless You

Lend Me A Bird

"I will lend to you for a while a bird" God said, for you
  to love her while she lives and mourn for her when she's dead.
  Maybe for twelve or fourteen years or maybe two or three,
  but will you til I call her back, take care of her for me?
  She'll bring her charms to gladden you and should her stay be brief,
  you'll always have her memories as solace for your grief.
  I cannot promise that she'll stay since all from earth return,
  but there are lessons taught below, I want this bird to learn.
  I've looked the whole world over in search of teachers true,
  and from the folds that crowd life's land I have chosen you.
  Now will you give her all your love; not think the labor vain;
  nor hate me when I come to take my lovely bird again?
  I fancied that I heard them say, "Dear Lord, thy will be done,
  for all the joys this bird will bring, the risk of grief we'll run."
  Will you shelter her with tenderness? Will you love her while you may?
  And for the happiness you will know, forever grateful stay?
  But should I call her back much sooner than you've planned;
  please brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.
  If by your love you've managed my wishes to achieve,
  in memory of her you've loved; be thankful; do not grieve
  Cherish every moment of your feathered charge. She filled your home with song of joy
  for time she was alive. Let not her passing take from you those memories to enjoy
  "I will lend to you a Bird" God said and teach you all you have to do
  And when I call her back to heaven, you will know she loved you too
  -Author Unknown-

adapted from Edgar Albert Guest's  
A Child of Mine

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rainbow Bridge

Lulu is waiting here for meHave fun my precious sweetie!  We'll be together again someday.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I am writing this with a heavy heart. Yesterday, we had to put our dear, sweet Lulu to sleep. I seem to have cried out all my tears last night (although I know there will be more to come) and now just have a heavy, empty feeling in my chest. I may ramble and go on to excess but just wanted to put down in words what happened.

A week ago Lulu started having vision problems. She couldn't eat because she was trying to peck 2 – 3 inches above her food dish. Lulu could only eat or drink if I held the food dish up high enough to touch it on her neck so she knew where it was. I had thought she was having eye trouble because she had been eating a bunch of ant larvae and winged ants the night before. I thought she may have gotten stung or something by some of the ants. (Lulu doesn't usually eat ants.) Her eyes weren't swollen or discoloured so I decided to just keep an eye on her and help her to eat.

Lulu started panting a lot which on hindsight, she has been doing a lot this month but I put it off to the hot weather we've been having. She would pant less if she laid in the corner of the couch with her head up. She was also sleeping a lot more than usual.

Lulu ate and drank less and less and her breathing didn't improve so I started trying to find her a vet. It is hard to find a vet that treats birds. When I had tried to find a vet previously, vets in Kamloops gave me the runaround because none of them treated birds and especially chickens. Someone gave me a number to phone for the farm animal vet. That vet only dealt with large animals not chickens. Finally someone gave me a number to try at the coast. I tried that vet again on this occasion but couldn't get an appointment nor to talk to her because she was too busy. I got back on the internet and found a vet in Abbottsford that looks after birds and got an appointment with her for Monday this week.

On Sunday, Barry found out at noon that they were scheduled to 4 days off starting Monday. After working for 12 hours on Sunday, he drove for 10 hours so he could be home to be with Lulu and me. He slept for 4 hours and we were soon on the road to the vet Monday morning.

The vet was very gentle and tender with Lulu. She could hear respiratory problems. Dr. Borgmann said we could do bloodwork and diagnostics to try to find the source of Lulu's problems or we could start her on antibiotics right away to see if they cleared up. We decided to try antibiotics and I was shown how to use a feeding tube to get some nourishment into Lulu.

We took Lulu home and gave her 2 different antibiotics and tube-fed her. We arranged the bedding on an armchair so Lulu could sleep propped in the corner and she seemed to be very comfortable and slept well without panting.

Tuesday arrived and we all had a lazy day. Barry was exhausted from all his driving, and I was tired from not sleeping well at nights (partly from the heat and partly from worry for Lulu and getting up several times to check on her.) Lulu was more alert and talkative than she had been in days. She looked around as seemed aware of her surroundings. Lulu even started eating and drinking on her own. She loved the new high-protein mash we got from the vet so I fed her as much as she wanted. Lulu also ate corn and drank water and soy milk. Lulu wasn't panting but she wasn't able to stand up. I was hopeful that it was only because she was in a weakened state. That evening, we went outside when it was cooler and Lulu laid on the lawn. We picked some ripe blueberries and Barry gave her a whole handful. She gobbled them down with relish. Even though she had eaten a fair bit all day, Lulu still could not stand or use her legs. When she would poop, Lulu would get frustrated and flap trying to move away from the poop with no success.

That evening her breathing worsened again and Lulu would almost seem to have panic attacks. She would flap and struggle until we would hold her to calm her down. I spent much of the night laying on the couch with Lulu snuggled on my chest. I talked to Lulu a lot through the night telling her how much I loved her and would miss her but was releasing her if she felt she needed to leave. I told Lulu she would always be a part of me and I knew we would see each other again. Lulu would look at me while I talked and seemed to understand. Lulu always loved to snuggle and to be close to me.

When Barry got up at 6:00, he found us laying on the couch. He sat with Lulu while I had a couple hours sleep. He said she was fairly calm and he was able to give her some relief in her breathing by propping his hand under her chest. Barry said he talked to her and told her goodbye.

I called the vet when I got up and we made another appointment to take Lulu in that afternoon. Barry drove the 3+ hours while Lulu sat on my lap. For most part, Lulu was comfortable with no more breathing panic attacks. Lulu loved car rides and being close to mom.

Dr. Borgmann checked Lulu over and noticed Lulu also had trouble holding up her head or if she did, she held her neck at an unusual angle. She said that the antibiotics should have made more difference to her breathing if they were working. Dr. Borgmann said these new symptoms suggested possible neurological damage. When we told her we had decided to put Lulu to sleep, she said that she would have made the same decision if Lulu was hers.

Dr. Borgmann gave Lulu the shot and left us to say our good-byes. Lulu was comfortable in my arms and quietly fell asleep. Both Barry and I petted her and told her we loved her and would miss her with our tears flowing freely. She was one special little sweetie and will be missed immensely.

We wrapped Lulu in a towel and in her favourite fluffy throw rug and took her home to bury her. Barry and I talked about her and remembered so many cute and funny incidents that happened in Lulu's and our lives. Lulu made us laugh many, many times and surprised us with her intelligence on numerous occasions.

When the sun went behind the mountain, Barry dug a hole in the flower bed. Lulu had many favourite spots in the yard and this was one. Lulu would lay there in the sun sometimes or lay in the shade of the flowers when she was too hot. She would hunt for bugs there and eat low-hanging grapes right off the vine when they were in season.

Before we laid Lulu in her final resting place, I unwrapped her so we could once more pet her and say good-bye. She looked peaceful and we knew we made the right decision no matter how hard it was for us – we didn't want her to suffer anymore.

We rewrapped Lulu and laid her in the grave. I had collected some of her favourite foods to send her on her way. Lulu loved sunflower seeds, corn, blueberries, cashews, and of course, peanuts. Barry and I each said our heartfelt words as we stood there with tears rolling down our faces. We loved our feathery sweetheart, Lulu. We filled her grave and covered it will a variety of flowers from the yard.

Lulu had a very full life for a lame little chicken. She touched the hearts of many people and made them laugh as she did it. Lulu helped people realize that chickens and other creatures are often more intelligent than people give them credit for.

Lulu travelled to three provinces and met people from all over the world. She was funny and spunky and learned to live her her lameness. Lulu not only had the run of the house and the yard, she had the run of our hearts. Never a day went by with Lulu when she didn't make you feel the happiness and love she brought to our lives.

Lulu loved to talk to me and made so many sounds I'd never heard a chicken make. I wish I had been able to tape her talking so I could hear her once more. Barry often said that it seemed like we were having real conversations. Sometimes it did really seem like we were. I would talk to Lulu while she would look at me without interrupting and when I was finished speaking she would say something. We could go back and forth like that for a long while.

Yesterday Lulu was 4 years and 1 month old. That seems a very short time but it is hard to remember life without Lulu. I love her and will miss her something awful. She has left a big, big hole in my life. But I have to believe that somewhere, Lulu is in the sunshine, chasing grasshoppers on two good legs, happy, healthy and full of life and love. Goodbye my feathered angel goodbye.

NOTE:  I will not be publishing my blog for awhile until I feel less sad.  I have more photos of Lulu that I took on our travels and will publish them later.  Some I had already written the captions but can't do them right now.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.      Joan (Lulu's mom)