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)


Barry brought the trailer up to Saskatoon for my parents 60th anniversary, so we stayed out at my sister's acreage near Martensville.  We parked it behind the house out by the shop.

Every time we stepped out of the trailer, the killdeer went crazy.  

They must have had a nest or two close by because there was always a bird or two pretending to be injured.

They would come right up to us and flop around dragging their wing hoping we'd follow them away from the nest.

They must have thought that they were always successful because they led us in the direction of the house (where we were headed anyway).

I heard on the radio while in Saskatoon that a number of killdeer and plover nests near Lake Diefenbaker had to be moved because of the heavy rains and flooding.  These birds at my sister's place were in no danger.

The killdeer have a high-pitched shrill call (I wouldn't really call it a song).  It was interesting to watch them perform.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lulu in Airdrie

We stopped in Airdrie, AB at an RV dealership to get some parts for the trailer plus have another photo shoot with Lulu and friends.

They had a giant rooster and a giant cowboy that I couldn't resist.

"Hey, mom!" called Lulu.  "Come look at the feet on this guy!"

"I can stand under here for shade or protection from the rain."  chuckled Lulu.

"How come a guy this big doesn't have any food lying around?"  asked Lulu.  "I guess that's why he's so big!" she mused.

"Hey!" exclaimed Lulu.  "I can see a long way from up here!"

"Hey, mom!"  cried Lulu.  "Look!  Our feathers match!  Maybe we're related!"

"This is quite comfy."  said Lulu.  "I could sit here all day and look around."

"Now I had better go check out that big guy over there."

"Boy, he sure needs to polish his boots."  said Lulu.

"Well, goodbye cousin.  It was nice meeting you."  said Lulu just before she climbed in the van to continue her adventures.  ;)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sourdough Sharing - Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Buns and More

This month's sourdough sharing is cinnamon buns or other variations.  I decided to try some pumpkin pie cinnamon rolls.  I got the original idea from here.  I got the dough recipe from Sourdough Cookery by Rita Davenport.  

1 1/2 c sourdough
3/4 c milk (I used 1 c pumpkin puree instead)
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp melted butter or marg
1 tsp salt
2 - 2 1/2 c flour (I needed about 4 c flour)

1 c pumpkin puree
1/4 c butter
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla

My sourdough was very bubbly but not as thick as usual.  So that plus using pumpkin instead of milk may have accounted for the need for that much extra flour.

To make the dough
To sourdough add and mix in all ingredients except flour.  Add enough flour to make a stiff dough.  Knead until smooth, adding more flour if needed.

Place in a greased bowl and let rise until double.  The original recipe said 2 hours but mine took all day.

Roll dough into a rectangle.

To make filling
Combine pumpkin (I used homemade puree) with other ingredients and stir well.  I did not add the butter at this stage but you may if you wish.

I spread the butter evenly on the dough like you do for regular cinnamon buns.

Spread the pumpkin filling evenly, leaving a bit of dough at the edges uncovered.

Roll up dough sealing the edges.

Cut and place in greased pans.

Cover and let rise until double.

Bake at 400°F for 25 - 30 minutes.

Rita Davenport suggests drizzling on a mixture of icing sugar, milk and vanilla (no amounts given).
Mama Taney suggests pumpkin cream cheese icing.
I did neither and we ate them as is.  Usually I find icing on cinnamon buns too much sweetness but these would have been nice with the cream cheese icing as they are not too sweet.  They were tasty and the spiced pumpkin had a nice flavour.
I wouldn't bother adding the pumpkin to the dough next time because all it did was turn the dough a nice golden colour.  Pumpkin doesn't have much taste by itself so I don't think it added to the taste.
Enjoy these or some of the other recipes below.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lulu and Her Fans in Cochrane

We had some business in Calgary, AB and made a detour to Cochrane, AB so we could visit this statue by Don and Shirley Begg.  It had just finished raining before we arrived so the ground was damp.

The artists made three statues in the same series - one in Calgary, one in Cochrane and another in Saskatoon.

I love how Lulu looked with the bronze chickens.

She was very curious and looked around at everything.

While we were there, three families with numerous kids came along and wanted their pictures taken with Lulu.

While I was taking pics, they were all talking and asking me questions about Lulu.

Lulu behaved very well with all the chattering, talking and laughing.

She is not a big people person and usually prefers peace and quiet.

Some of the kids wanted to pet Lulu and I helped them with that while their parents snapped pics.  Several of the parents wanted their picture taken with me so somewhere there are pics of me smiling with a friendly strangers arm around my shoulders. 

They were a lively, friendly bunch but Lulu finally had enough and it was time to leave.  So off we went and continued our trip back up to Bonnyville with another photo-op coming up at Airdrie.  Til next time.  ;)

Monday, July 15, 2013

New Plants in the Garden

Several of the blueberries we planted last year are bearing fruit and some of the berries are ready to eat.  Last year we planted 8 blueberries and 4 of them have fruit this year.

We have 3 Saskatoon bushes that produced while we were gone so we missed out on those berries.  :(   I tried to give Lulu the dried berries to eat but she turned her beak up at them - she wanted fresh blueberries instead.  Fussy girl!

While we were away I purchased 2 more Saskatoon bushes  - a Thiessen and a Smokey.

I also bought 2 haskaps - a Tundra and a Polar Jewel.  Haskaps are also known as Honeyberries.  They are edible blue honeysuckles that are very cold hardy.  They are supposed to taste blueberry-ish with undertones of currents or raspberries.  I can't wait.

I also bought a Bailey Cranberry bush.  I already had a lingonberry was started from a shoot brought to Canada from Norway by Barry's grandmother in the late 1940's.  I plan on using these 2 bushes to make jelly to use with roast turkey, whenever I get enough berries.  The lingonberry had some berries last year but I transplanted it this year to its final resting place and it did not produce any this year.

Last year I also got some perennials from a friend cleaning out her perennial bed.  These hydrangeas bloomed last year but not as prolific as this year.

Not as large as this year either.  Look at the size of these blooms compared to my hand!  ;)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lulu and the Giant Mushrooms

Lulu and I are finally home from our three weeks away.  I will be posting pics taken throughout our travels.

The first leg of our trip took us to Bonnyville, AB. to visit Barry.  On the way, Lulu and I stopped at Vilna, AB to see the World's Largest Mushrooms.

We had tried to visit them earlier this year but the street was flooded and muddy and we couldn't get near them.

This time we made it and Lulu enjoyed picking at the grass that grew between the paving stones.

It was a very small park and the grass was covered with dandelions, which do not interest Lulu in the slightest.

The mushrooms were not a big thrill for Lulu, but she doesn't eat them in real life either so naturally she ignored these.

Lulu was more interested in checking out the lawn and looking for bugs. 

I thought the mushrooms looked kind of neat for a photo-op but Lulu was done and wanted to be on her way.

The mushrooms represent the tricholoma uspale mushroom that grows wild in the area and is either dried or cooked by local mushroom hunters.