Monday, November 25, 2013

Yummm - Warm Water!

Thanksgiving week is upon us! 

Yesterday I went out to feed the birds their grains/feed.  The guineas are starving now, I have to feed them since there's no bugs around for them to find on their own.  As soon as I walk outside they come running to me.  I give them chicken food, plus they love scratch grain.  Their special treat is bread.  They love them some bread.  We buy cheap white bread for their bread treat.

As I was filling the chicken feeders I realized all the chicken waterers were frozen.  It was about 11 degrees F out yesterday with the wind chill.  It was bitter cold.  Odd - because last Friday it was 64 degrees F.  This weather...  Anyway, it was about 8am, the chickens had not been without water for long.  But they all told me they were going to DIE of thirst.  When I looked at the waterer and kicked it (lightly!) with my boot to attempt to determine how deep the ice was, the chickens all attempted to peck it, too.  They were telling me they might die of thirst since their waterer appeared to be not providing water when they demanded.  Chickens can be very demanding.  You don't know these things unless you have chickens.

I made sure the heat lamps were running inside the coops and lugged the 2 waterers inside the 2 coops and put them under the lamps.  I can't open the waterers, Randy really closes them tight.  If I could open them I would have lugged boiling water out in buckets and dumped it on top of the frozen water.  Because I was paying attention to the waterers, the chickens were, too.  They watch everything I do and have to be involved. Too involved.  They always are under my feat, reaching into my pockets to see what I have in there, wanting to be sitting on my lap if I'm squatting down.

Muffin remembered his fight with me from Saturday - he's a smart bird.  He immediately stood up to me and fluffed his neck. 
"Are you ready for this?" he asked. 
I ignored him, I was busy moving the frozen waterer.
"I'm gonna kick your @#!" Muffin hollered at me. 
He attacked my calf with his spurs when my back was turned.  Damn bird.  I ignored him, luckily I had rubber boots on that went up to the knees.  I swung the waterer around so it was between he and I.  He realized I wasn't in the mood to fight and stopped with his fight. Hmmm, if I show no fear, but ignore him, he stops before he gets too worked up.  I'll have to remember that.

Once I got the waterers inside the coop the chickens continually attempted to drink the frozen water.  So I had to setup 2 additional waterers for them, inside the coop under the heat lamps.  I lugged warm water out to the coop in buckets and dumped it into the new waterers in front of the chickens.  Luckily we have extra waterers.  You'd think the chickens had not had a drink in days - everyone gathered around the water gulping and holding their beaks in the air to swallow.  Over and over they gulped.  Muffin came and clucked his call for food to ensure all the hens knew to come and partake.  Ahhh, warm water for the chickens.  Steam was coming off the water since it was so cold out, although the water wasn't that hot.  I should have put some tea in their water and we all could have had a tea break.  I went inside and had some hot tea myself.

It's the simple things that we give thanks for here at Razzberry Corner. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fox Attack

Last night there was yet another fox attack on the guineas.  Normally it's a red fox which attacks the birds, but this time it was a grey fox.

The below pictures are of a grey fox and a red fox.  They are not the same animals that attacked our guineas.  Grey fox are larger than red fox - we were surprised to see one.  We have so very many red fox - our guinea flock rarely survives a year with the red fox and hawks around here.

Just so you know, the fox in those photos look so much prettier than the fox around our house.  Most of our fox appear to be sickly and have mange and look terrible.  These photos actually make fox look cute.

Last night a sickly-looking, stinky grey fox came right up on our back porch, right where I sit on my chair out there.  He nosed around, then went around the front of the house and started hunting the guineas which were in the front yard.  We saw the fox on the back porch and watched as the fox picked out an unsuspecting guinea for his dinner.  The guineas never even saw the fox - such stupid birds.

The fox didn't survive the hunt.  We are allowed to kill a fox that is killing our livestock.  All guineas lived to see another day.   

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chicken Update

Yikes  - time flies!  I have been busy with work, travel, family, etc.  I come back here to the blog and realize it's been over a month since my last post!  I'm sorry!

Things are crazy as usual here on the farm...

Randy loves chicks and chickens decided to hatch some eggs - yet again!  Yes, it's Nov.  I didn't want to have baies, but he really wanted to.  And so, the chicks are due in Dec.  We have the always-broody Charlotte sitting on the eggs.  He wanted to hatch some full-blooded Americauna chicks.  Muffin, the rooster, is Americauna.  After the autumn molt one of the hens, Virginia, who's also Americauna, started laying again.  It's been a while since she laid.  Or so Randy believes it's Virginia who's laying. I get confused now-a-days, unless I actually watch the hen lay.  All the new pullets which were hatched this year are now laying - we average a dozen eggs or more a day now!

Lucy was ill for a few weeks.  She's my favorite little bantam hen.  She's 4 years old now.  Most of the bantams from her clutch have all passed away - those little hens just don't live very long.  Lucy was getting a few drops of antibiotic water every day and was hand fed to ensure she ate every day for about a week.  Now she's doing great.  I'm happy she made a recovery - I wasn't ready for her to pass away.  She hasn't laid in over a year.  Only one of the hens from her clutch is still laying, Chloe.  Chloe lays every day.  It's just a tiny egg.  Chloe is a sweetie.

I just gave the chickens some spaghetti mixed with frozen peas.  I cook the spaghetti and throw in peas a min before I drain it.  I try to give the birds treats when I can.  I'm not home a lot - they haven't had a treat other than their regular chicken food since last weekend.  The birds all got so excited while I was feeding them - almost too excited...

While I was giving the birds the treats I took Charlotte off her nest/eggs to force her to move about for a minute.  She ran around screaming and flapping in the pen.  She immediately got in a fight with her sister, Cheryl.  Charlotte always loses the fights with Cheryl, who is very mean to Charlotte.  Charlotte ended up with a torn and bleeding wattle.  Poor girl.  She's back on the nest again.  I'll have to check on her to make sure the bleeding has stopped.  I'll put sugar on it if it hasn't stopped.

Then Muffin got in a fight with one of the other young roosters.  Muff wouldn't let the other roosters eat.  I was a fool and got between the fighting roosters.  The young cockerel ran away and took the opportunity to eat spaghetti.  Muffin raised all his neck feathers at me.  Stupidly, I raised my boot at him - which means I wanted to fight him.  The thing about Muff is that he will not stop fighting until the other bird/person loses the fight and runs away.  Then he crows announcing he's the winner.  Showing Muffin the bottom of my boot is a fighting gesture to him, I have no idea why.  To him I'm fluffing my neck feathers and standing up to fight.  He attached my boot many many times with his spurs.  He's strong and almost knocked me down, since I had to keep 1 foot up to fend him off me.  I grabbed onto a support post in the middle of the chicken pen.  I hopped on one foot, bumping into hens as they ran around eating, trying to shoo them out of my way so I could hop to the gate, all the while Muffin was attacking my raised foot.  Finally a few hens got in between Muff and I and I took the opportunity to run for the gate.  I heard him crowing as I got to the gate.  Yes, I ran, you won, Muffin.  Next time I will not get in the middle of a rooster fight.  Or I will carry my broom.

Here's a pic of Muffin raising his neck feathers - it was taken back in early Oct.  He's the black bird right in the center - it's not a clear photo.

As I mentioned, the pullets and cockerels that hatched this year are so big now.  Pickles is a rooster, sadly.  He's GORGEOUS and we're considering keeping him as the second rooster, with Muff being the first rooster.  We'll see with Pickles, he has to show us he's smart.  Big Bird is also a rooster, and is extremely smart.  But he's too BIG.  Having him as a rooster would be dangerous for the hens (during mating).  The 2 black cuckoo maran/Americauna mixed pullets are still totally black with no comb.  They are beautiful.  I've never seen a jet black chicken with no comb before I saw them.

Little Red is a Rhode Island Red pullet - I love her to death.  She's a talker and never stops chattering.  I especially love her because she was a reject chick.  Pickles was a reject chick, too.  The 3rd bird from the reject chick group hasn't been named yet - she's a beautiful brown and red Americauna pullet who's VERY shy.  I have to name her real soon.

Have a great weekend and a HAAPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


It has been a rainy week here at Razzberry Corner!

Finally today it stopped raining, but everything is all muddy.

Benjamin and Brindle, the outside cats (they used to be called stray cats, now they are just "outside cats"), are in the process of putting on their winter coats.

The chicken pens are all muddy.  Poor birds.  I cleaned their coops so they have a clean dry place to go.

The guineas aren't too happy about all the rain, either.

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chicken Update - chicks, pullets, cockerels, and orbs!

Here are some of the chickens.  This is another "meet the chickens" post.

Our flock has grown by leaps and bounds this year.  Its a lively place out there in the chicken pen.  We actually have 2 pens now; the chickens can go thru the second coop to access the second pen.  Yes, there's 2 coops available for everyone, too.  The second coop and pen normally are used as an infirmary area or chick area, but right now there's no one sick and no babies that need to be separate.

In the below pic are:  Front - gold laced wyandotte pullet named Ruffles, behind her is Doritos, a Red Sex Link pullet.  To the left and behind is Little Red, a Rhode Island Red pullet (the Reject chick).  Standing in the crowd with tall necks are 2 brothers - cockerels, sons of Muffin the rooster.  The yellow boy is the son of Pennie, the shelter hen (or the house hen, as she prefers to be known), and the boy on the right is Big Bird, son of Big Bonnie the shelter hen.

Here's Big Bird below watching my camera.  To his left is another one of the chicks - he's one of the ones I got from the farmer's market.  I think it's a boy so I'm not going to name him.  Sorry, buddy.  Directly in the background is the rooster, Muffin, the baby daddy to 4 of the chicks (Big Bird, the 2 all-black girls, and the yellow son of Pennie).

Here's Doritos below.   I'll let you in on a secret.  I have 3 pullets named Doritos, 4 named Pringles, and 2 named Ruffles.  I can't tell the birds apart so they were named based on their breed.

This photo below just shows how big Big Bird is compared to Little Red.   They were walking side by side.  Little Red was a reject as a chick but she fits in very well with the chicks now.

Look below at all the Pringle's tails in the air!  The 3 white leghorns on the right are Pringles.  They are some egg-laying machines.  They are so hyper and scared.  They are our least-friendly birds, always dashing here and there.  But they lay large white eggs every day.  We like them because of their eggs. 

To their left are Dottie (left most white hen) and Zoner (another white hen).  Zoner's pretty old, and is still as stupid as they come - she's one of our original chicks.  Dottie is small and a tough little bird.  Dottie is the daughter of Muffin the Americauna and a white leghorn hen.  Muffin is there in the photo, too.  You can't miss his big black and green tail.

Here's an upclose shot of the 2 Ruffles and a Pringles.  Pringles is having a conversation with the Ruffles.  The Ruffles are our prettiest birds, but they aren't our favs.  They lay medium to small light brown eggs, and they don't lay every day like the Pringles and the Doritos.  They are not friendly at all, and hate to be held. 

Here's a Pringles cruising around with her white tail held high.  The brown and grey pullet to her right is named Pickles, to honor my friend Genny's bird named Pickle.  My Pickles is a beautiful pullet - I'll have to get better shots of her in the future.  The picture below doesn't do her justice.  She came from the farmer's market as a day old chick, and she sadly ended up being one of the Reject Chicks, which makes her one of my favorites.  She is red and grey and is most likely an Americauna mix.

 This blog post is ending on an eerie note.  I was taking the below shot of Big Bonnie (and she looks terrible - she's molting!) - but notice all the circles in the photo.  They are what people refer to as orbs.  I often get orbs in my photos and have to work at cutting them out or not using the photos with orbs on the blog because they are distracting.  Are orbs ghosts or just dust?  I get orbs when I photograph outside or inside, in any weather.  It's funny how many orbs are in the shot below.  I must have a lot of ghosts or dust around here.  It is a historic old farmhouse, I wouldn't be surprised if there's ghosts and I know there's dust.  I just thought I'd throw in this photo to show you what I deal with when I'm setting up blog photos.  I'm curious on your thoughts about the orbs, too!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chicken update - Big Bird and Unnamed Black and Blue Chick

I know it's been quite a while since I've posted about my wonderful chickens.  They are doing fine and the chicks have grown up.  I'd like to introduce you to some of them in a few chicken posts.

Right in the center of this photo is Big Bonnie, one of the shelter hens.  She's molting and looks rough.  She's still huge.  She's one fat hen.  She's not the most athletic bird, but she walks around fine now.  She lays a huge egg every day.  If you've seen my blog you know Bonnie and her sad story and how she ended up in an animal shelter before we rescued her.

Well, here's her biological son, Big Bird.

Big Bird is the son of Big Bonnie and Muffin, the only adult rooster we have now.  Muffin is an Ameracauna rooster.  Big Bird is very friendly and loves to "talk" and chatter.

He is going to be a large rooster.  He seems to be very smart and attentive, like his father, but he gets beat up by all the chickens who are older than him.  He's still a baby and prefers to hang out with the other babies from his clutch.

In the below photo is Candie, a Cuckoo Maran hen.  She's the black spotted hen who's molting and looks terrible.  To the right of her is a pure black pullet who is Candie's biological daughter.  Candie's the mom, Muffin is dad.  This pullet has a sister who is also from Candie and Muffin who looks similar but not exactly like her.  This black pullet is beautiful because she has a blue sheen to her feathers, she has no "muff" (feathers around her face like Americauna's have), and she has no comb!!!

Note:  also in the below photo is a white leghorn pullet named Pringles (on the left) and Little Red, the Rhode Island Red pullet who was part of the Reject Chick group.  Remember the Reject chicks?  What a mess that ordeal was!

The below photo has a red sex link pullet (named Doritos), Pringles the white leghorn, Candie with her naked molting look, and the blue/black daughter pullet on the right who I need to name still.

Isn't the blue black pullet beautiful?  It's hard to believe she's half Cuckoo Maran and half Americauna. 

I have a secret to tell about her, too.  When she was a chick inside the egg, she couldn't hatch.  She tried and tried to peck out, she cracked the shell, but after a couple days she was too tired and gave up.  In the beginning she was peeping, but after a few days she gave up and was quiet.  I read everything online that said to let her be, let her die, she wasn't meant to survive, she was too weak to live, etc etc.  However, I couldn't let a living creature just die, so I helped her out of her shell.  I cracked little pieces off around where she started to crack it.  She moved a little in the beginning, but after a few hours she stopped moving again.  By the end of that day she appeared to be dead.  So I opened up the remainder of the shell and let her loose.  She just laid there like a dead baby for a few hours, but she was still alive.  I put her under the mama hen's wings with the other chicks and checked on her often, and after a while she came around and started moving.  She was weaker than the others for her first few days, but then she became healthy and active and was fine.  She seems perfect now, you'd never know she had a rough start to life. 

Her sister is pure black but with a bronze glow to the feathers, and the sister has a muff.  The sister also has no comb!

I welcome recommendations for names!

Ok, that's it for today's post.  I'll introduce more of the chicks and pullets in future posts.  Everyone seems to have a story and I'll tell you about them all!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Losing it with Lose It!

I've always struggled with 10 or 20 pounds.  I'm not hugely overweight, but not where I want to be, either.  Most of the time I don't think about my weight, until I don't fit into my clothes.  I gain 10 pounds in a month or two without realizing it.  Before I know it I'm not fitting into my pants anymore.  I always notice the pants first.  If I look at my shirts, I realized they don't fit as well as they used to, either.  Then I work very hard and lose a few pounds.  It's always been a constant roller coaster just for 10 or 20 pounds.  But suddenly as I'm getting older it seems it's harder to lose the weight.  I used to just simply change my eating habits and the weight would disappear.  Now, not so much.

I recently gained another 10 pounds on top of the 10 extra that I was already carrying.  Hmmm.  I changed my eating habits, thinking it would drop off, instead I continued to gain a pound or three, four, maybe lose a pound, then gain it right back.  I worked really hard, pulling out all my secrets, like quitting diet soda, bread, drinking water when I'm hungry, eating grapefruits.  But I couldn't lose weight.  What's up????

A 20-something coworker told me she lost 10 pounds in a month by changing her diet.  I remembered back when I was 20-something and could easily shed pounds in the blink of an eye like that.  Now it seemed something was wrong with me, I was stuck being heavier on the outside than I was in my mind.  

I honestly think my metabolism changed.  It slowed wayyyyyyyy down.  I started working out more, but that had no effect on my weight.  I believe my weight has a lot to do with my eating habits.  I workout and reward myself with some chips and salsa, thinking I deserve it.  So I started a food journal and I carried it around for months on end.  But I needed guidance, instruction, and encouragement.  Finally I went online and found a site called Lose It!  I love it!

I put a Lose It! app on my tablet, but mostly I use it on the computer, since I have access to computers at work and home.  When I created a login it asked for my age, sex, weight and goal.  I said I wanted to lose 20 pounds at a rate of 1.5 pounds/week.  I thought that was doable.  It provided me with a daily calorie intake goal.  If I stick to the goal I can lose the 20 pounds by Thanksgiving!  Yes!  I log what I eat and my exercise.  The exercise subtracts from the daily calories allowed, allowing me more food.  I can eat whatever I want, as long as my daily calories are below my goal. I've quickly learned what types of foods are high in calories.  Plus, all types of exercise counts, such as "household walking".  And you can create exercises and foods, of course, based on what you actually do.

It's an awesome app.  Since I've started it on Sep 2, 2013, I've lost 7 pounds.  It really just helps me to watch what I eat, exercise more, and provides me with encouragement from hundreds, thousands, of others already using the app.  I joined Lose It! challenges to eat more veggies and burn so many calories from exercise and compete with the others online.  I am tied in first place in a push up challenge where we are supposed to do some type of push up every day, as many as each person can do.  Simple stuff!  If I really get carried away I can do weekly reports showing how much I lost a week, comparing it to the amount of calories I ate and my exercise for that week.  Lose It! allows members to become friends with other members to encourage each other.  I encouraged my husband to join, so now I have a friend on Lose It!.

I'm just happy I'm finally losing weight.  I want to lose 1 more pound by the end of this week so I will have lost a total of 8 pounds in Sep.  Piece of cake!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My LASIK Experience - 2 weeks post surgery

This post is a continuation of the posts about my LASIK eye surgery experience.  I believe in sharing information to help others if they plan on doing LASIK.

It's been 2 weeks since my surgery.  The doc tells me my eyes are very dry.  I didn't know what dry eyes felt like before this, I never had dry eyes before.  Since surgery my eyes feel like they have sand in them.  They're scratchy.  I guess that means they're dry.  I put drops in all the time, about every 30 min to every hour.  The doc told me to use Refresh Plus or Refresh Optive and Refresh Celluvisc drops.  They're all over the counter, no prescriptions needed.  I finished the steroid drops and the antibiotic drops already.  My eyes actually itch sometimes, they feel so gritty.  I just want to scratch them with my fingernails, but of course I restrain.

I went to my 1 week after LASIK appointment.  The doc said my eyes were very dry and I needed Restasis drops twice a day.  Restasis helps your eyes to start lubricating themselves.  It takes about 3 weeks to start working, according to my doc.  He gave me a sample and a prescription.  I started using the sample.  Immediately I noticed a constant twitching in my left eye.  My eyes continued to itch and the scratchiness increased.  The night I started Restasis I woke up 4 times to put eye drops in my eyes.  For the next few days I continued to wake up on average of 4 times/night with severe eye scratchiness and pain.  I was putting Refresh Celluvisc in at nighttime, per doc's instructions.  Refresh Celluvisc has fibers that seal my eyelid closed and make my eyes feel like there are sticks sealed inside the eye.  It was very uncomfortable and finally I stopped using Refresh Celluvisc.  I continued the Restasis for almost a week.  The insomnia was terrible, I started taking sleeping pills so I would sleep through the night and not continually wake to put eye drops in my eyes all night.  The constant twitching in my left eye continued the entire time I used Restasis.

I realized that Restasis is very expensive when I attempted to fill the prescription.  I didn't fill it.  Instead I stopped using Restasis.  The first day Restasis-free, the twitching stopped in my left eye and never returned.  I've been sleeping fine ever since I stopped Restasis.  I'm not going to use it again.  I'm going to manage without it.

My eyes are still dry, but I think they are slowly getting better.  They still itch most of the time.  I still use Refresh Plus or Refresh Optive drops about every 30 minutes to hour.

My distance vision is awesome.  It's everything I was hoping for.  I can see 20/20 for distances and I love it!

However, I'm struggling with reading now!  I used to be able to read without reading glasses.  Now it's hard to read.  It's blurry!  I had no idea I'd lose the ability to see up close immediately after LASIK.

Honestly, I think I need to retrain my eyes to focus up close.  I try not to use reading glasses, I try to force my eyes to focus on up close reading.  It strains the eyes, but eventually I can make the up close letters clear.  The first day I didn't use reading glasses at all my eyes were exhausted by the end of the day.  Most of my day is spent reading - computers, reports, etc.  That evening as I drove home I could feel my eye muscles struggling to hold my eyes straight.  It was scary, I felt like I was having a strabismus problem again.  I decided to take it easy and use reading glasses for maybe 50% of the day and let my eyes learn to refocus on up close work the other 50% of the day. 

This whole LASIK process has been an experience for me.  Honestly, I don't know if I'd do it over again, if given the opportunity.  Maybe.  I think the scratchiness will eventually go away.  I do think I'll be stuck with reading glasses forever.  I didn't mind using reading glasses before when my eyes were tired, but I didn't know I'd LOSE my up close vision on the day of LASIK surgery.  It's hard to handle losing the ability to see up close so quickly.  I used to be able to see so well up close, I miss it.  It's a tradeoff.

On a good note, reading glasses are a whole lot cheaper than distance glasses and contact lenses.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My LASIK Experience - Surgery Day Part II

This post is continued from the last post - it reviews my LASIK eye surgery that I had this week.

The last post was getting very long, so I decided to break it up into 2 parts.  Sorry for the delay!

So, I was led into the LASIK surgery room.  The room was bright.  I was led to a bed with a bunch of equipment at the head of the bed.  I was told to lie down with my head near the equipment.  I knew that equipment consisted of a laser and I was scared.  The doc was assisted by another man who's name I immediately forgot.

As I settled into the bed the assistant handed me a teddy bear and told me to hug the bear when I needed.  I loved that ugly worn little bear that moment, he was my only friend, facing the laser right along with me!

My right eye was done first.  The doc put a lot of tissues or something in front of my ears and said they were so eye drops didn't run into my ears.  The bed had something that lightly held my head in place.  Eye drops a plenty were put into my eyes, I was told they were numbing drops.  I told the doc to apply liberally.  He said if I felt any pain at all I should say something.  Suddenly he put a tissue or something soft over my left eye and taped it in place, making it impossible to open that eye. 

Doctor Solomon put something which I later learned was called a "lid speculum" over my right eye to hold it open.  It felt metallic and in my mind it looked like an egg separator - you know, that kitchen gadget that removes the egg yolk from the white.  It was very uncomfortable but not painful.  He was touching my eyeball a lot, checking it, but I didn't mind.  I focused on not moving the eyeball to the left or right, staring straight ahead.

My bed slid to the left and the equipment was positioned above my right eye. I squeezed the life out of the teddy bear.  The equipment lowered itself onto my eye.  The doc was explaining everything, talking to me.  Some kind of suction cup came down and stuck to my eyeball and felt like it was lifting my eyeball a little.  Again, uncomfortable but not painful.  The was the most uncomfortable part of the procedure.  Bright blue lights were then on my right eye.  I was told to stare into the lights, don't move the eye.  I don't think it could move with that suction cup stuck to it.  The blue lights were so very bright, light, almost white blue in color.  Lost in the blue I saw white dots going around in a circular shape.  This was when the flap was getting cut in my cornea.  It didn't hurt at all.  It took maybe 5 or 10 seconds of white dots then that eye was done.  The blue lights faded, but I was still seeing blue in my head, it was so very bright.  The suction cup released my right eye.  Ahhh, that felt so good, I hated that suction cup!  The squeezing let up on teddy.

In no time at all the bed was slid sideways, a cover was taped on the right eye preventing me from opening it, and the same procedure was done to the left eye.  The suction seemed a whole let less on this eye and this part was done in no time.  I felt like a pro, just look at the blue light, no problem!

Tons of drops were put in both eyes and the doc was touching them both with what felt like tweezers.  He was explaining how he had to open the flaps.  I asked questions as he worked and he commented on my curiosity; I told him I liked to understand what was going on.  The cornea flaps were opened on both my eyes, I think.  Then the doc took off across the room and told me to come along with him.  In my drug-induced state it seemed he moved quickly, but in reality my body was moving slowly.  I had no idea where he went and so I just sat up and looked abound blindly.  The assistant helped me to my feet.  I couldn't see anything, everything was a white haze, extremely blurry.  Basically I was blind.  The assistant walked me to another bed on the other side of the room and told me to lay down.  They acted as if I should be able to see the bed, I explained I was blind and didn't want to trip over anything.  I looked down and saw I was gripping teddy close to my chest still.

The assistant got me to lay down, my head felt like it was held in place again, although I really wasn't sure.  The left eye was suddenly covered.  The bed rolled under the equipment that was sitting beside it.  I knew this was the laser that would reshape my eye.  The doc was doing something with the equipment as he talked to me.  We talked about a lot of things, about his job, about the types of surgeries he does, it seemed we chatted for a while as this process occurred.  He was working the whole time and explained everything before it happened to my eyes.

I was told to look into the light again.  The machine came down onto my right eye. This time it was a bright red light - very red.   It had many dots of red - it wasn't solid, but a million dots that created the red color.  The red filled my eye with color.  Somewhere in the depths of red a green blinking dot appeared.  The green dot got larger and larger.  It's blinking became a steady pulsing.  I could smell the awful smell of what I thought was my eye being cut, but what the doc assured me was the smell of gases emitted by the laser machine.  I stared straight into the green pulse, afraid that my eye would move somehow and mess up the surgery.  The teddy was enduring a serious hugging again.  Eventually the green pulsing became a small green dot and faded.  Very quickly the machine and the red dots were pulled away.  The procedure was repeated on the left eye.  I felt like this whole process had already taken longer than what I read about and I was ready to have it over.

Finally the left eye was done and both eyes were opened.  Tons of liquid was doused into both eyes.  Everything was blurry.  Teddy was whisked from my hands.  Goodbye, my friend!

The doc then worked on the eyes with the tweezer thingy again to close the flaps.  He explained the flaps hook into the cornea to hold them into place.  He struggled getting the left eye flap closed, he said it was because my eye was shaped odd from the strabismus surgeries.  When he got it closed he watched me blink a few times.  He wasn't happy with the way my eyelid ran across the flap when I blinked, he was concerned the flap would open.  So he put a clear contact lens on the left eye to hold it closed.  There was no problem getting the right eye flap to close.  My vision wasn't perfect but I could see pretty darn well.  I wasn't tested right away, but was walked out and sent on my way.   All in all, the procedure took about 45 minutes.  Everyone said it would take 10 minutes or less!  I liked the way the doc took his time with me, I didn't feel rushed at all.  I thought  Dr. Jonathan D. Solomon
was an excellent eye doctor; I agree that he's one of the best in the country and I'm happy that I chose him!

While I was having the surgery Randy made an appointment for me to be seen the next day for a post surgery follow-up.  On the way home we had to stop at a pharmacy to get more prescription eye drops.  It took about an hour and a half to get home.  In that time my right eye started hurting very badly.  The eyeball itself hurt.  I put a jacket over my face to keep out the light.  It hurt so bad I was crying.  As soon as I got home I put in the proper drops, took 800MG ibuprofen, and and went straight to bed.  I awoke 3 hours later with no pain at all.  And I could see perfectly!

The following day I drove myself to my follow-up appointment.  I had no pain in the eyes.  The clear contact lens was removed.  My eyes were tested - I have 20/15 in the right eye and 20/20 in the left eye!  This is awesome!  I'm putting drops in my eyes about every 30 minutes now, I have 4 different types of drops.  It been 4 days since my LASIK surgery and I'm loving it.  The first day my eyes felt weird, tired maybe?  But now they feel better.  I haven't applied any eye makeup since surgery, I'm afraid it will hurt them.  Plus in order to remove eye makeup I rub the eyes.  Maybe a week after surgery after my one week followup appointment I'll start wearing makeup again, who knows.  People at work tell me I took younger without eye makeup, one person even asked if I had a "mini-lift" on my face! 

If you're considering LASIK surgery, I say GO FOR IT!  It's expensive, but worth it!  And the procedure isn't that bad.  I hope this blog post helps people to understand what to expect if they decide to get LASIK.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

My LASIK Experience - Surgery Day - Part I

This blog post is continued from my last post at  It tells about my LASIK surgery experience.


Before I get to the surgery, let me tell you about my doctor.  I saw Jonathan D. Solomon, M.D., from Solomon Eye Associates Physicians and Surgeons in Maryland.   

From their webpage:

Dr. Jonathan D. Solomon has been named one of the Top Doctors in America. ‘Peer-nominated and selected by the nation’s leading providers of information on top doctors’, Dr. Solomon has been featured in the April edition as a top doctor for the Washington, DC area for Vision Correction Surgery.   

I saw a magazine article listing Dr Solomon as one of the top doctors in the US and I was sold.  I wanted a good doctor to do my LASIK because maybe he'd understand my past strabismus problems.

My surgery was scheduled for Sep 12, 2013, which is today.  I had started on the OTC eye drops and ointment, but as of Mon Sep 9. 2013 the doctor's office had not successfully called in the prescription for the Zymaxid  and Bromday.  I had called the doctor's office multiple times and was frustrated.  I also had to pay for the surgery still, so I called on Sep 9th, Monday, to make sure the person who received payment would be available that afternoon so I could stop by.

To my surprise the doctor's office told me I was rescheduled for surgery on Sep 10 2013, Tues, as the doctor had an emergency and wouldn't be available on Thur.  So it was Tues or reschedule for a month down the line.  I quickly shuffled around all my work responsibilities so I could take Tues and Wed off vice Thur and Fri, the doctor's office finally called in the Zymaxid  and Bromday prescriptions to my pharmacy, and I was ready for surgery.  However, the change in dates really stressed me out.

The afternoon before surgery Randy went to three different pharmacies to find one that carried the Zymaxid  and Bromday when I was finishing up last minute things at work.  I couldn't have managed without Randy.  Who knew that pharmacies don't carry these meds?  I recommend getting them early to avoid this last minute dash if you are planning LASIK.  I started on the Zymaxid  and Bromday drops the night before surgery.

The day of surgery I was told to arrive at 3pm at the TLC Laser Eye Surgery Center where Dr Solomon was working.  I guess the doctor rents TLC equipment.  I was retested at 3pm and had all these pretty pictures of my eyes printed, the eye tests took about 10 minutes and I was sent back to the waiting room to wait till 4pm.  I was called at about 3:30 for surgery.  I asked the woman if I was the last patient of the day and she said yes.  I was told to put on a cap and booties.  Randy was allowed to join me in the room.  The assistant asked me if I wanted something to calm my nerves prior to surgery and I said yes, remembering a friend of mine said her doctor gave her a Valium before surgery and it helped to calm her.  The woman brought 2 Aleve and a Xanax .5 mg.  I have never had Xanax and it kinda concerned me.  I'm not into drugs, and heard that Xanax is strong and addictive.  Just the idea of taking a Xanax freaked me out even more.  Now I was scared of surgery and concerned about taking Xanax.

I closed my eyes and took the Xanax and Aleve.  The Xanax didn't start affecting me right away, it took about 30 minutes or so.  It was weird, eventually it made my body slow, but my mind was still normal, I was thinking just as fast as before.  But my speech became slow and my physical movements became slow, as if I was drunk.  But inside my brain was still normal!  This wasn't a fun drug!  I'm sure everyone is different, but I wont be taking Xanax again!

Dr Solomon tested my eyes yet again right before surgery.  He explained monovision to me, which I did NOT want.  Monovision is when one eye is used for distances and one for close up sight, it makes it so the patient doesn't need reading glasses.  Previously my optometrist had me try monovision using contacts and I hated it!  It made me dizzy and gave me headaches.  I wore monovision contacts for a week and it was just plain miserable, my brain couldn't handle it.  I don't mind reading glasses, although right now I don't really need reading glasses unless my eyes are tired.  I was told by the surgeon who did my strabismus surgeries, Dr. Birdsong, that reading glasses help to relieve stress on the eyes and I should use them if my eyes are tired.

I told Dr Solomon No to monovision.  He explained he was going to make my right eye dominant because strabismus patients need one eye to be dominant or the eyes fight each other and strabismus can occur again.  I was concerned about losing the ability to read immediately after LASIK and he explained that LASIK wouldn't affect my reading vision.  He went over the details of the surgery, and then I was walked into the surgery room.  I was terrified!  Here we go!

Randy was allowed to watch my surgery through a window into the surgery room and up close over a TV screen displayed through that window. 

Stay tuned for the surgery itself in my next post.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My LASIK Experience - Pre-Surgery

I had LASIK eye surgery yesterday!  I was nearsighted and I hated glasses, so I mainly wore contacts. My contacts had a prescription of -3.75 in the right eye and -4.00 in the left eye.  Yes, that's pretty strong!  I had always wanted LASIK surgery, but waited for my budget to allow it.

Then in my 30's suddenly I started seeing double.  Not all the time, just when my eyes were stressed.  I look at computer screens most of the day for my day job, when I'm not here on the farm doing farm duty.  My opthamologist said I had a strabismus problem, which involves the eye muscles.  Both eyes were fighting with each other, causing double vision and causing my eyes to turn.  He said my eye muscles were very tight, which caused this issue.  I think the eyes visibly turned outward, but I don't know, I never looked in the mirror when it happened.  I just knew it was terrible and scared me to see double.  It also affected my depth perception.  When your vision starts messing up, that's serious business!

Anyway, I ended up having 2 strabismus surgeries in one and a half years.  After the first surgery I was so happy, but a few months later the double vision returned, eventually making me have another surgery.  Strabismus surgery is serious stuff.  First of all, I was the only adult in the eye hospital on both occasions; most strabismus patients are children.  I figured if the kids could go through it, so could I!  The patient is knocked out, the eye muscles, which are located behind the white of the eye, are cut and tightened, and the patient is left with stitches in the whites of their eyes.  After surgery the eyes feel like a piece of hard plastic is left behind, because it is (the stitches), and it hurts very much to move the eyes.  Recovery takes up to a week.  I had to go back and have the stitches cut out each time after surgery.  It wasn't that bad because I was so happy to be able to see straight after the surgeries, and I forgot about the pain, as is normal.  I still needed glasses, but I didn't see double and the depth perception was perfect again.

If I can go through that TWICE I can do a simple LASIK procedure. I waited about 5 years after my last strabismus to make sure I had no more muscle issues and then signed up for LASIK.  Finally, no more contacts!  Finally I will be able to wake up and see.  Finally I can swim and shower without worrying.  I wont have to spend time every morning and evening messing with contacts.  Ahhh, eye freedom.

I was very nervous the day before surgery.  I Googled LASIK eye surgery and attempted to watch a video on YouTube of an actual surgery.  If you haven't had the surgery and plan on it, don't watch the YouTube LASIK videos, it's too gory.  When they started pressing down on the eyeball and it left indentations in the eyeball I had to stop it.  Ugh, that would be my eye soon enough.  I didn't ever finish watching it.

I stopped wearing contacts 2 weeks prior to surgery, as the eye doc requested.  My miserable glasses were dusted off.  The week before surgery I started on an eye drop regime.  Refresh Plus was put in my eyes 4 times a day and Muro 5% ointment was put in the eyes at bedtime.  The Refresh Plus felt refreshing, it's just an over the counter eye drop.  The Muro 5%, also OTC, was a heavy ointment which was squeezed into the lower lids at bedtime and was like putting Vaseline into the eyes.  It was kinda nasty, but really lubricated the eyes.  In the mornings my eyes were all greasy.

One day prior to surgery I added Zymaxid, an antibiotic drop, and Bromday, an anti-inflammatory.  Zymaxid was four times a day and Bromday twice a day.  Both were prescription drops.  I made up a spreadsheet to organize my eye drop regime.  And after surgery there were more drops!

My next post will go over the surgery so those of you considering it will know what's going to happen.  I think it helps to read about LASIK surgery prior to having it to understand what to expect.  I know I read some other people's accounts and it helped me to be less nervous.  My biggest fear was being awake through the procedure, plus I was afraid my eyes were going to have a strabismus issue during the surgery and suddenly turn one way or the other when the laser was on them.  I didn't have strabismus issues anymore, but the concern was in my mind since I had that problem before.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jerry's back!

For a while this summer Jerry the stray cat stopped coming to eat at our house.  We wondered if he was still alive.  But now he's back about three times a week for breakfast!  Possibly someone else was feeding him and now they stopped, who knows.  He hangs out in the housing community about a mile away from us.  We see him walking down our dirt drive to the houses, so we figured he secretly had another home that also gave him handouts.  Otherwise he would be here more often.  The other outside cats live here, outside our house.

While I was feeding the outside cats this morning, the guineas attempted to steal the cats' food.  They always steal the catfood unless I sit out on the porch guarding the bowls.  Here Casper, the while male guinea, is leading a sneak attack around the pillar.  Casper has 2 wives who he was trying to impress, plus the rest of the flock was tagging along.

I had to chase the guineas away so the cats could eat in peace.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chicken update

Our chicks have grown up so big.  No photos for this post, but I promise I'll get some soon.  We are trying to figure out who's a cockerel and who's a pullet.  Mama hen still hates the 3 reject chicks.  If she is free in the pen with them she will hunt them down and try to kill them!  I don't know what her problem is!  So she is always locked in a cage in the pen.  The chicks are free in the pen running around her.  The chicks accept each other just fine.  At night time Mama hen is allowed to sleep with her elite chicks and the 3 rejects sleep by themselves.  They have gotten used to being separate at nighttime.

Mama has started her chicks roosting up high off the floor at nighttime.  Just yesterday the 3 rejects starting roosting up high off the floor, too.  I guess this is just a natural thing, for them to not want to sleep on the floor.  Right now everyone is sleeping on top of nest boxes.  I attempted to put the 3 rejects on a regular roost last night, but they would have nothing to do with it.  They wanted to sleep on the nest box.

The adult chickens are doing well.  We recently trimmed some of the chickens toenails.  A few of them get really long toenails, especially Freckles and Luna, and it makes it hard for them to walk.  We checked everyone's toes one night and trimmed Luna and Freckles.  However, Luna's toes bled really bad.  We barely cut them.  Freckles didn't bleed at all, and she was cut down much more than Luna.  Guess every bird is different.  We put sugar on Luna's bleeding toenails, which stopped the bleeding, and put her back to bed.  In the morning I checked on her, she was fine.  She and Freckles are able to walk better now.

The red sex link, gold laced wyandotte and white leghorn pullets have just started to lay.  Their eggs are small, but they lay regularly.  The leghorns are such hyper birds - they are constantly running around the pen like crazy.  If someone looks at them funny they take off running.  All these new pullets are at the bottom of the pecking order.  It's funny to see little tiny Jade or Dottie, who are very small bantam birds, send a tall thin leghorn who's twice their size running away in fear. I need to come up with names for all the new pullets and the silver wyandotte cockerel.  I never named them!  I don't know why...  Any recommendations?

I will post chick photos for the next post!

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chick & chicken update

Happy Saturday!

Life goes on here at Razzberry Corner.  Mama hen Charlotte still doesn't accept the 3 reject chicks.  I put all 10 chicks together every day & separate the mama from them, but allow her to see them all.  Sometimes they're in the coop (if it's raining outside) or sometimes they're outside.   The 3 rejects needed interaction with the other chicks.  Since I've started this, the 3 are now developing normally and are acting so very much better.  I think Little Red (a Rhode Island Red) chick is going to survive! 

Little Red and the other 2 reject chicks
Little Red on her side of the fence, a couple red sex-link pullets in the adult chicken pen
Little Red's one of my favorites, of course, because I love an underdog. She's doing so well, I'm so happy for her now.  I really wasn't sure she was going to live back when she stopped eating.  She took the rejection from the mother hen very hard.  I put a little stuffed moose in her pen and forced her to sleep underneath the floppy antlers.  In the beginning she could hardly stand and would just lay under the antler.  The 2 other chicks followed her lead and snuggled under the moose antler's too, not realizing she was just weak/exhausted and wasn't starting a trend of where to sleep.  Eventually Little Red got strong enough to stand up and liked to stand on the back of the moose and the other 2 followed along.  Now, after a long day of playing in the pen, Little Red runs to the moose and tucks herself up under the floppy antlers happily.  It's very cute.  That's her mama moose.

Little Red

 My other favorite chick has been named Big Bird, and is from an egg of Big Bonnie, the shelter hen. 

Big Bonnie, molting

 Big Bird is huge, compared to the other chicks.  

Big Bird

But his mother is huge, too.  And he's growing a comb.  

Big Bird and his big comb

Possible rooster alert!  Big Bird is one of the elite 7 chicks who mama loves.  But Big Bird looks similar to one of the 3 rejects and sometimes, if mama's in a very bad mood, she attacks Big Bird.  Big Bird is very independent and likes to be alone.  He's also very observant, noticing everything.  The other chicks don't pay attention to things like Big Bird does.  Funny how chicks have personalities.

Mama Charlotte in a cage in the chick pen, separating her from the chicks so she wont hurt the 3 rejects
Big Bird, on the right, is intently watching Brindle cat who's up on the chicken coop roof.  None of the other chicks even noticed the cat up there.

Last night mama Charlotte got confused at bed time and started attacking Big Bird by mistake, mistaking it for one of the 3 rejects.  I was putting the chicks to bed in the coop and heard her screaming inside, I didn't expect her to attack Big Bird, he's an elite chick, so I had BB in with her to sleep under her wings for the night.  Anyway, BB took a beating from mama hen.  I ran in & grabbed her & BB.  BB was standing with it's face hidden in a corner and mama hen attacking him from behind.  I didn't see any open wounds on BB, but he was screaming bloody murder.  I put BB with the 3 rejects & the moose until it got pitch black and everyone was sleeping except for BB, who was then screaming for his mama, he still loved her and wanted to sleep with her.  So I went back out & snuck BB under mama hen's wing and she accepted him again.  Mama Charlotte is having a tough time these days being a mother. 

We now have 2 roosters, after the loss of Leggy.  They are Muffin, an Americauna, and an unnamed silver laced wyandotte cockerel. 

Muffin the rooster

silver laced wyandotte cockerel

The silver laced wyandotte is such a sissy.  If anyone looks at him funny he pops up in the air and runs away.  He's been practicing his crow - he has a very deep voice.  He's a large bird with long legs - very tall.  I wonder if he'll turn into a good rooster.  Muffin will always be lead rooster as long as he's able.  But he's 3.5 years old now, a new young strong rooster may try to take over Muffin's turf.  We'll see.

Muffin in foreground, un-named rooster in background, white leghorn pullet on right

 And now Big Bird is a possible budding roosterette.  It'll be a long time before he grows up to an adult rooster, but maybe he'll be a keeper.  Although, thinking about it, I don't really want a huge & heavy rooster, a big rooster could hurt the smaller hens when mating...

The chickens have started explosion molting, including Mama Charlotte.  Maybe that's adding to Mama Charlotte's bad mood these days.  Feathers are everywhere in the chicken pen - it looks like a bunch of feather pillows were emptied out there!  I'll have to start raking them up.  I like the chickens molting early like this, as it's still hot out.  This way they'll have their new coats grown in in time for winter.

Gold-laced wyandotte pullet
Brindle cat walked all over the roof of the chicken pen and the chicken coop this morning.  Only Muffin and Big Bird were upset about this occurrence.   I tell you, Big Bird is a budding cockerel!


Watching the chicks from above

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rest In Peace, Leggy

May you rest in peace always.
You were and always will be my favorite chicken of all times.

I love you, Leggy.

Oct 15, 2009 - July 24, 2013