Monday, October 29, 2012

Fort Knox vs. Hurricane Sandy?

(...and the outcome? We'll find out.)

"Fort Knox" is our affectionate term for the chicken coop/dog kennel combo that we set-up in August to keep our little darlings safe. We have two Brahmas and two Orpingtons ---the sweetest girls on the planet. Both breeds that are known for their temperament, cold-hardiness, ability to handle confinement like little troopers. Naturally, like most pet owners, we've developed a substantial attachment to our fluffy "babies". (You know you're a crazy pet owner when you start calling them your baby... ;-)

We received a very generous wedding present in the form of a hand-made Pennsylvania Dutch coop. The Dog Kennel requires a little explanation. After talking with a shop-keeper in town and discovering we have two litters of raccoons living in the pond marsh, we had to take some drastic measures before moving the chicks outside. Free range was not only not in the best interests of our neighbours (or the traffic which piles up occasionally near Pond House when the waterfowl try to cross the road) but it would compromise the chicks' safety. After researching online, we stumbled upon a 6'x10'10 kennel--- offering about 25 sq ft. of space per bird. The obliging hole where the grody old swimming pool sat seemed like a perfect place to set up chicken camp. The kennel was buried 6" into the ground, along with sheets of poultry wire and the pre-existing pool embankment. The exposed panels were covered in 36" of poutry wire from the ground up, and the top is composed of poultry wire. This little set-up is quite secure for the girls. At night, we take the food in, utilize solar lights and a patio light, and put on a shower radio--- all measures to discourage raccoons.  Garbage is no longer kept outside our garage, but only inside the garage or at the base of the driveway. All these little changes added up. Knock on wood, we've been issue-free from the second night until now and haven't seen any raccoons in the yard since. (Before chickens, they loved to terrorize our garbage.)

But now, we have a hurricane about to bear down on us. That makes matters complicated for everyone in the metro area, and we're unsure of how Fort Knox (or the 380-lb chicken coop) would handle this. They're heavy, they're critter-proof, but they're not permanent structures.

And so... we've moved the chickens inside the unfinished second bedroom, where they started their lives as little, peeping fuzzballs. I purchased heavy-duty sheeting at Costello's, and we found a portable dog playpen at the Lake Grove Petco and a sturdy, untippable double-dish dog bowl at the Nesconset Petsmart. Jay Cardinal created a roof out of deer netting and lined the floor with hay.

Getting them back inside the house was interesting. Since they've always been handled, they didn't put up much of a fight, but the experience (like most involving chicken-keeping) was extremely comedic. I'd pick them up and place them in a sterlite bin, one-at-a-time, and DH with clean shoes would shuttle them into the house and the temporary coop. There was no shortage of bawking during the process.

Unfortuntaely, they're much stinkier now than when they lived here before, even with the door shut. As the chicks have sensitive lungs, aromatic measures like candles are not an option. FORTUNATELY, there are a lot of great, natural ways to get rid of unpleasant odors that require no electricity. White bread soaked in apple cider vinegar is possibly my favourite.

Hopefully in another day or two, we'll be able to bring them back out. Now that they've calmed down, they seem to be taking to their new home better. We'll get you back out soon, girls!

I'm cute and little and I don't smell toooo bad yet...

Everyone can fit on Daddy's knee!

In our temporary home!

I. is checking out the water; you can see a little
Orpington tushie in the background.

Our two stress eaters, M. and I.
Please be safe, L.I.! No heroics! Take any mandatory evacuation orders seriously, and if you haven't done so already, please check your yard carefully for objects that could become flying projectiles as the winds worsen. We'll look forward to knowing everyone is safe and sound at the other end of this crazy storm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

recollection of ronkonkoma.

I will be eternally grateful to my parents' love of the outdoors for instilling in me an appreciation of nature. Camping; fishing; hiking. (Growing up in a borderline rural NYC suburb helped, too.) And what's all the more beautiful is, Jay Cardinal gets it. He and I never get sick of finding parks and reserves and natural beauty throughout this funny little island.

We knew a little bit of nature would do us the world o' good this past Sunday. Our travels allowed for a quick stop at Ronkonkoma Beach, a Town of Islip park. Now that the season's through, it's easy to access the other towns' beaches and parks.

No alligators in here, we hope.

Lake Ronkonkoma amazes me. It's not that large, but the shallows and the depths of the lake are pretty remarkable--- it can be eight feet deep one moment, and eighty feet deep the next. There are a lot of urban legends surrounding the lake, but the only Curse(s) of Lake Ronkonkoma that DH and I could find were the Canada Goose "presents" and pizza box garbage. Just as much a zoning curiosity as anywhere else on L.I., the lake is bordered on several villages as well as three of the large towns. Some parts of the waterfront are very nice, while others appear blighted. (From what I understand, flooding may be part of the issue.) Have no clue what it's like in the summer--- would definitely appreciate some historical anecdotes from native Long Islanders who grew up and/or recreated here. The Lake is beautiful and has great potential--- it would be wonderful to see continued renewal...

Looking north, towards Nesconset. (Don't think you can see
the Bavarian Inn in this one...)

Curious sand bars in the middle of the lake, with a
congregation of Canada Geese enjoying themselves.

What are your recollections of the Lake?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

wertheim national wildlife refuge

Last Sunday, Jay Cardinal and I took a very random drive along the South Shore. I've been having South Shore (both Suffolk and Nassau) withdrawal for sometime, but was envisioning a Sayville coffee-shop jaunt or something. Date-on-the-cheap for two crazy young 'uns fixing up their dream house.

Something much better happened... after driving through Sayville, Blue Point, etc., we decided we should just keep driving. Our efforts took us to Shirley's Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, a beautiful marshland located on the Carmans River. There were no shortage of passerines (especially warblers) but they were far too fast to capture on my old school camera phone.

There is this neat deck/dock that makes you feel like you're floating over the river.

The way the trees grew over into the river made no sense! It was pretty cool.

The berry bushes also grew over the river like a canopy.

My husband, being artsy :-)

 Those taking the train must have a lovely trip home...
We're definitely going to take the train out east eventually. You can appreciate
this beautiful lanscape from a different vantage point.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

two long overdue reviews...

I can't count on both hands the number of times I'd driven past the little place on Lake Avenue with charming boxed Coleus lining the exterior and enclosing the sidewalk seating area, and wondered "What is this place all about?" Finally, in the late Spring Jay Cardinal at I had a chance to go.

As it turns out, Zar Cafe, located in St. James, has an equally charming interior, reminscent of one of those intimate, smaller restaurants you might find in the City or Hoboken. They specialize in Mediterrean cuisine, including Greek and Persian food. The Butternut Squash Soup was really excellent--- substantial, but not fatty, and possessing a unique flavor. Ordinarily, I avoid sake-based cocktails (since half of the time they're the token exoticism in your drink, frequently misunderstood in the hands of less-experienced mixologists). Yet for some reason, something compelled me to try the Autumn Wind. As it turns out, it didn't disappoint--- it was a really balanced, clean and tasty drink. Our seasonal entrees were both excellent.

The staff were extremely gracious, and the juxtaposition of the snug, Mediterrean-influenced interior and the sillouettes of the boxed Coleus outside made for a calming visual with our early evening dinner. Zar is definitely a repeat visit!

ZAR Cafe on Urbanspoon

Living in the peace and quiet of Pond House, it's easy to forget we're just a few minutes from a major shopping mall. Newlywed austerity measures aside, Bobby's Burger Palace, (located at the Smith Haven Mall) is an extremely affordable and delightful eat. The pop-ish interior is cheerful, and the service is remarkably fast. (DISCLAIMER: DH & I do not go there at peak times, when I've heard it can be mobbed.) The sweet potato fries (and their coordinating sauce) are amazing, and my favorite burder is the Bobby Blue Burger. The beers (which are also fiscally friendly) are well-suited to the burgers.

You can even place an order in advance for pick-up and expedite the line process. (Just remember---BBP is quick to prepare your meals, so you can't do the leisurely-pizza-parlour-pick-up-stroll... they'll be cold by the time you get 'em home!)

Bobby's Burger Palace on Urbanspoon