Monthly Archives: November 2014

And then there was Iceland…

There are lots of places I’d love to travel to.  It’s easier to list the countries that don’t interest me.  But every now and then, I come across a place that just hits me in the heart and soul.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I’ve been planning a trip to England and Egypt.  I also wanted to spend at least a weekend (maybe a long weekend) in another country as well.  I was pretty much set on Venice, because flights from London are super cheap.  But then, everything changed.

I started looking at cheap transatlantic flights, and Icelandic Air was always on top.  The only problem was, they always seemed to give you a long layover in Iceland…and why would I want to go there?  I hate winter.  I hate cold.  I hate snow.  I kinda hated Iceland, just for having “ice” in their name!  I certainly didn’t want to go there.  Wasn’t there a flight that would give me a layover someplace I actually wanted to be?

But just in case, I started looking at Iceland.  Surely, there would be something there I would be interested in, if I had to spend a layover there….

Turns out there is.  The whole, entire country.

As soon as I started investigating, I was instantly, completely captivated.  And not in the ‘oh I’d like to go there sometime’ sort of way, like I feel about India or Italy.  No…this went even beyond love-at-first-sight, and into what I call soul recognition.  Iceland is a land I recognize.  It feels like home, like part of my soul has always lived there.

And I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time.  Why Iceland?  Sure, it’s spectacular, but so are lots of places.  It’s not the culture, because I’ve never been particularly drawn to Norse or Scandanavian history or myths.  It was something primal about the land, itself.

And then I realized why.  The Lord of the Rings films might be filmed in New Zealand, but Tolkien was inspired by Iceland.  Iceland is Middle Earth.  Once I saw that, it was so obvious why I was drawn there, to that land.  In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.  Middle Earth has always been one of my places; no wonder I recognized it so viserally the instant I saw it in the real world.

So, needless to say, I am taking Icelandair up on their (completely brilliant) free Stayover  program.  Are you kidding me?  Of course, I’m going to Middle Earth!  So the new, and probably the final plan, is Iceland, then England, then Egypt.  I’m ready to start buying tickets, as soon as the company I’m using for Egypt lists tour dates for Sept 2015.  Everything else has to be planned around that.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out where exactly I want to go in Iceland.  I know I’ll be riding an Icelandic horse.


I also want to go down inside a volcano.  Yes, Iceland is the only place on Earth where you can go inside a volcano!

I can’t wait.

Winterizing the Quail

Quail, like chickens, are extremely hardy and don’t need heat lamps during the winter.  Last year, our temps got down as low as 12 degrees, and I wrote a whole blog post on keeping chickens happy and healthy through the winter, including links to people keeping them in far colder climes than mine.  Please, people, I know you love your chooks, but don’t heat your coops!  You’re harming them, not benefiting them.  Proper ventilation is what chickens need, to keep them comfortable and frostbite free.

Anyway, this post is about the quail.  They didn’t mind the cold at all last winter, but this year, I decided to try something new.

I filled their coops with straw.  A thick, deep layer of straw.

I know they like to burrow under things, so I figured they would love this.  They did.  They started making little tunnels and holes immediately.

It made me think of hobbit holes, so I added even more straw…on top of their little houses.  From the front of the coop, you can’t see the houses at all.

But when you walk around the coop and look in the back…

….yup, there it is.  Do you see little Nefertari in there?  They are happy quail.

The only one who was a little concerned by this was the male.  Cinna lost all this girls, and couldn’t see them anywhere!  He started panicking and doing the alarm call, the girls answered from under the straw, and he finally located them and all  was content again.

This is a test.  I don’t know if it will work out once the weather turns wet and nasty again.  The straw may get icky, and I’ll have to scoop it out – leaving just what’s inside the shelter of the houses, like I normally do.  We’ll see.

Have YOU hugged your chicken today?

The garden is pretty much over for the year, although I still have a fall crop of snap peas and bush beans coming on.  I didn’t do much else for fall planting, although I did get garlic in, and left quite a few beets, chard, and collards that I hope will overwinter.  They often do, in my area.

I’m hoping we’re going to have a mild winter this year.  So far, it looks like it.  Fall has been extraordinarily warm – we haven’t even been tempted to heat the house yet.  Some days, it’s been positively balmy outside.  It would be a godsend for my building projects, except for the fact that it’s also been high winds almost every day and lots of rain.  Oh, well…the building projects might have to be put off until early Spring this year.  Just as long as I can get the new housing up before the ducklings and meat chicks arrive!

We bought 18 pounds of chicken necks and backs, and made several pots of broth for canning.  It is so lovely to have homemade broth ready to go…especially if one of us gets sick.  It’s not a myth that chicken broth has healing qualities – but not the icky stuff you can buy in cans at the grocery store.  That stuff tastes like crap, and pretty much is, as far as nutrients go.  I’m experimenting with beef bone broth next.

Most of my free time has either been spent working on this three-book time travel series I’m publishing in (hopefully) January, and keeping constant eyes on Dexter the new Corgi puppy.  He hasn’t got the hang of housetraining yet, and likes to test his sharp little baby teeth on everything – especially shoes, socks, and anything made of paper.

Also, Happy Hug A Chicken Day!  Yes, this is a thing.  Yes, I did hug mine.


Dexter wanted to hug them too, but the chickens weren’t amiable to that idea…