Friday, March 27, 2009

Twinkle, twinkle, little bug.

Wonder of wonders! The First Lightning Bug Night has arrived! Every year I am delightfully surprised when these little twinkling jewels of the night appear. I've made a note on my calendar each Spring to mark their arrival.

Lightning bugs and lightning bug larvae are extremely beneficial for the lawn and garden. They feed on other insect larvae, worms, snails and slugs. Most of all, they enchant us and make our summer nights magical and beautiful.

First Lightning Bug of the Year

Twinkle, twinkle, little bug.

I want to give you a great big hug.

But, you're too tiny, I suspect.

Twinkle, twinkle, small insect.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Have a Good Day, Now and Then

It looks like we are still talking about chickens.

As Aunt Pitty Pat would say, "Chickens on the internet! How did they ever get in?"

Plans are underway for the 5th annual Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival to be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 18-19, 2009, at the Lions Club Fairgrounds in Moulton, Alabama.
Of course, it would have to be in Moulton, where all the chickens are moltin’! Do you think that town was chosen just for the name?

According to the Alabama Department of Agriculture, agriculture is the number one industry in Alabama. It employs over 476,000 people, which is roughly 21% of the state’s work force. Furthermore, producing over 1 billion birds a year, Alabama is the #3 producer of chickens in the nation.The Lawrence County Arts Council, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Alabama Cooperative Extension Services, Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel have joined forces to promote the Chicken and Egg Festival, hoping to educate the public on the economic impact and health values of poultry and eggs.

Here’s the Chicken and Egg Festival website.

Among other fun and unique activities, there will be a chicken clucking contest, an egg toss, a chicken-wing eating contest, Bluegrass music, Southern folklife artists, and more than 100 live Exotic Bantam Chickens.


Headlining the 2009 Chicken Stage is the Paul Thorn Band. One of the most accomplished and enjoyable musicians ever, Paul does blues, country, gospel, rhythm and blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. His distinctive voice and poetic lyrics have carried him from Tupelo, Mississippi to stardom!

Here's Paul Thorn performing his song "I Have a Good Day Now and Then," which has been recorded by Paul McCartney. No joke.

You couldn't ask for much more than that.
Check out the festivities!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mother Nature's Balancing Act

While on the subject of eggs ... Today is the First Day of Spring! I hope everyone popped out of bed bright and early this morning and balanced an egg or two! Although I usually balance a whole bunch of eggs on the first day of Spring, this morning I had but one single egg in the fridge. So I placed it on the window sill over the kitchen sink, and there she sits, beautiful, proud and well-balanced.

It's my understanding that the tradition of balancing eggs on the morning of the Vernal Equinox began centuries ago. Farmers gathering eggs noticed on a particular day in Spring that the eggs in each hen's nest would be balanced on end. What joy! There are few things in life as joyful as a balanced egg! That's how, in days of old, the common folk knew that Spring had arrived.

This year, the Vernal Equinox occurred at 6:44 AM, and the closer to the exact time of the equinox, the easier it is to balance eggs. Later in the day, it becomes a much more tedious exercise, and if you have balanced eggs in place, they will eventually plop over onto their sides when the magic time has passed.

And ... yum, yum ... do scrambled, fried, or poached eggs taste better on the first day of Spring? My opinion is, yes they do! A perfectly astronomically balanced egg is bound to have an extraordinarily yummy taste. However, this is only a guess. I'm always too busy balancing eggs to cook any on the First Day of Spring.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Chicken After My Own Heart

On this beautiful St. Patrick's Day, the sun is shining and Spring is just around the corner, so it seems. I think about all the lovely sunny days ahead, and suddenly and without warning, I think about a chicken. That's right. Not just some random chicken, but a particular chicken with a singularly Irish personality; smart, handsome, and terribly testy.

My sister and I raised him from an orphaned egg.
The name we gave him was Chicken Little, and while he was yet very small, you couldn't have asked for a more agreeable little fellow. He was promptly baptised, showered with love, affection and attention, and treated like a member of the family. Chicken Little lived in a small cage on the living room coffee table, went with us on picnics, where he chased bugs and small snakes along the creekbank, and was just a marvelous companion. Even as an adolescent bird, he remained sweet and amenable to all playtime activities, like having doll clothes forced upon him and tiny bandanas tied around his pin-feathery head.

Chicken Little indeed! We should have named him George Meany. Upon reaching maturity, his personality took a foul turn! Man, that was one mean chicken! Of course, he had to be banned from the inside of our home, due to his lurking around corners and attacking like a chicken possessed. But putting him outside seemed to make matters worse. He hid just around the back of the house, and whenever one of us bare-legged humans ventured down the backporch steps, Chicken Little flew at us like a demon chicken, uttering the most terrifying pawks you can imagine, pecking and flogging without mercy.

Now, what would make a formerly benign chicken turn into a Jekyl & Hyde monster? Nobody knows.

So, my daddy traded him for two bunnies, a brown one and a gray one, dubbed Pierre and Twinkle Nose. They were promptly baptised, and NEVER attacked us.

I'll never forget Chicken Little. Both his personalities made lasting impressions, as did his "Top o' the mornin' to you!" greeting and his dagger-like beak.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Didn't It Snow, Children?

Quel surprise! On Sunday, March 1st, it actually did snow in Alabama. We all had a big time, and a few of us got to wondering about why snowflakes look the way they do.

Snowflake formation begins when water vapor condenses on microscopic dust grains. Each snowflake's unique structure is caused by chemical reactions and ever-changing temperatures.

Snow actually rises before it falls. As a droplet of water vapor rises higher, it freezes into a six-sided crystal. Because ice forms fastest around the edges, cavities form. Faster growth on corners causes branches to sprout, and cavities create interior lines. As the flake rises, temperatures get colder. At 10.4 degrees Farenheit, branches are wide. At 8.6 degrees, new growth is narrower. When the snowflake grows heavy enough to overcome the force of rising air, it falls. As the snowflake falls, warmer temperatures cause more side branches to sprout with longer and narrower tips. Hence, snow.

Some of us waited until many, many of the weighty formations plummeted to earth, then out we went for a rare frozen frolic.

At least one Mr. Possum found the lure of the soft white stuff irresistable, and trotted out for a brief stroll.

©Ramey Channell 2009

Possum In the Snow

Possum has a snowflake stuck to his nose.
His fur keeps him warm when the cold wind blows.
He's on his way home for tea and puddin'.
I asked him to come to my house, but he wouldn'.