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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Aussie Valentine Record

February 17th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Aussie This Aussie That] It's been all about Scott's application for Tourism Queensland's "Island Caretaker" lately • [New Lay Record Set] The Hutton House hens laid seven eggs today, setting a new single-day lay record • [Valentine Amore] Scott made a small blunder in buying Rachel's Valentine card.

Aussie This Aussie That

Yellow Point, Australia - Sometime shortly after filming Scott's Aussie "Island Caretaker" video, it's been like a 24-hour cable channel around here - the "AAA Channel". (We're talking about the "All About Australia" Channel, not the "American Automobile Association" channel).

If you don't already know - and it's pretty hard not to, when Scott throws up a site-wide banner about the bloody thing - Scott's applied for the highly publicized Queensland Tourism position of "Island Caretaker".

We won't go into details, as not to bore everyone to death. Just letting folks know that most of the recent news has more to do with the land down under than the land outside the front door.

Enough. View the video and vote 5 stars! (View it again, if you've already viewed it and vote again, if you've voted already. Vote daily, hourly or minutely ... and we don't mean a small, we mean OFTEN!

We apologize if the Queensland Tourism website is slow. We didn't design the site or plan the server specifications. IF we had, you would be darned sure that the "visitor experience" would be better! ;) (Just pull up the video link and camp on it and do something else. If the video comes up, watch and vote ... if not, just hit refresh and give it another few minutes.) Aaargh - I know, but it's a reflection on THEM, not my video. Makes my "thank you for voting" mean something more, because we know what you're having to go through.

New Lay Record Set

Hutton House Hen House - A new single-day lay record was set by the Hutton House hens today. Seven eggs were laid and gathered this morning!

"It was bound to happen," reports Scott, "now that we have seven hens."

(The last record was six, set last year, by - then - four hens).

Valentine Amore

Hutton Dog House - Valentine's Day came and went, but for Scott, this Valentine's may live in infamy.

First, the legal disclaimer: The following story in no way reflects poorly on Scott's moral or romatic upstanding. Any resemblance to Valentine's Day past or present is purely coincidental and unintentioned. Let it be known that Scott, being of sound mind and body, did herefore make a - terribly funny though it may be - social blunder.

"It was an honest mistake," he said, laughing.

What happened? Scott bought the wrong Valentine's Day card. So eager was he to share his love and affection, that he grabbed a card that showed three "people" on the front. His idea was that they represented himself, Tuxedo (the cat) and Alex. (Mind you, only Tuxedo's likeness was represented by a cat. Alex was a dog (on the right) and Scott was a - well - whatever that's supposed to be. A dog with stiff ears?

The outside of the card said, "Happy Valentine's Day" and the inside, "We [heart] You!".

"Ah, that's nice," thought Scott, "I'll let Alex sign it, I'll draw a small paw-print for Tuxedo. It's the nicest card on the rack!"

What Scott failed to see? That under the "Happy Valentine's Day", was stitched the word, "Grandpa"!!

Scott may have missed it, but Rachel didn't. :(

Reporting live from the frigid Hutton House Dog House and bringing you "news that you can use" this is Dirk Smedley (of the famed, "Birk Does ..." XXX-rated movie series).

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Little Hens on the Move

January 25th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Little Hen's Big Day] Yesterday, the new hens (which we got in October) laid two eggs. Their first eggs! It was a big day for the little girls, as they moved in with their older "sisters"!

Little Hens, Big Day

Hutton House Chicken Run - Yesterday, Scott and Rachel's four new ISA-brown chicks became full-on hens!

"Well," said Scott, "Two of the four did anyway."

"The chicks laid their first egg!" exclaimed Alex, explaining things to Rachel, clutching a small egg in her hand, "Two eggs! One broke though."

The four chicks have been growing at a fairly good clip and are nearly too large for their small wire cage. Both the eggs were laid inside the cage and one had broken, presumably trampled. It was a double-yolker, but small.

The other egg had a small crack in it, but otherwise survived the close-quarters.

"I guess it's time for them to move in with the big girls," said Scott, as he removed the temporary wire fencing that divided the chicken run into two unequal areas.

For the first time, all seven chickens (3 from our first batch and the four new ones) spent the entire day together.

The older ones asserted their pecking rights and chased the young ones around the run, occasionally, but for the most part, the amalgamation went fairly well. No one was injured, though there was a fair bit of squawking going on, during the day.

Scott had to lower the other roosting bar, inside the chicken coop. This meant clearing the mesh floor of chicken poop, climbing inside and un-screwing the 2nd roosting bar and lowering it a foot or so. (One of the flaws in the original coop design, the roosting bars - two - were placed too high up and none of the chickens ever used it ... until Scott lowered it. Even then, he had to train the birds to "climb up" every night, by manually lifting them onto the wooden bar, for a few nights, before they got a clue that's what it was for.

When evening came, the three experienced girls put themselves to bed, on their normal roost, while the new hens were still clucking and scratching about, outside. Scott had to shoo them all into that coop and then later, had to climb inside and set them all onto the roosting bars. (The things he does for his "girls", eh?)

Once they settled down, Scott climbed out and washed his hands of the matter (literally).

"Hopefully, the new hens will into the groove and follow the pattern of the older, more experienced hens," said Scott, "They'll learn to put themselves to bed on the roosts and use the nesting boxes for eggs."

Scott and Rachel are hoping egg production will pick up as spring approaches. With seven laying hens, they're hoping for about six eggs per day (depending on how much of a slow-down there is with the older hens).

No matter the total, it's more than the Kimler clan can consume.

"We give eggs to our friends, fellow firemen, neighbors and house guests," said Rachel, "There's more than enough to go around!"

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Go Bandits

January 8th, 2009  · stk

NewsBrief: [Go Snow Go] After a record-setting month of snow, the white stuff is finally starting to melt. • [Masked Bandits] The Hutton House girls catch another two raccoons.

Go Snow Go

Hutton House - It's been nearly a month since snow first fell and it's only now, beginning to melt.

After record snow dumps in mid-December, temperatures remained below freezing or slightly above, until after the New Year. At one point, Scott was certain the weather feed - which reports from the nearby Nanaimo airport - was wrong, as it showed an unbelievable -18°C (-0.4°F)! That's very cold, considering we're less than a quarter mile from the ocean.

The snow was so light and fluffy that it was impossible to make a snowman, though Alex made up for it by sledding down the road and driveway.

Temperatures did - gradually - climb to just above freezing, but continued snow flurries kept accumulating the white stuff faster than it was melting.

While we were fortunate to have a "white Christmas", to be honest, we were so sick of *cough* used to the snow by then (shoveling, getting stuck, school cancellations, etc.) that it was no longer "special".

Yesterday, with temperatures climbing to 5°C (41°F), the snow began to melt with earnest.

"A couple more days of this," said Scott, "and we might have a snow-free driveway."

The December snow measured over a meter, which has happened only twice before during December, since 1947, when Environment Canada began keeping records.

"We had 116 centimeters of snow at the Nanaimo Airport," reported David Jones, a climatologist for Environment Canada. Agency records shows 111 cm. accumulated in 1964 and 107 cm. in 1968. Even in December 1996 - the most recent winter dump - snowfall reached only 95.2 centimeters.

"This has been the second-highest monthly total at the Nanaimo Airport," Jones went on to say. (The highest was February 1975, when 122 centimeters fell.)

Masked Bandits

Hutton House Hen House - The chickens are also glad that the snow is melting. It means they're gradually getting more of their run back, each day. (They're not keen on tramping in the snow and Scott kept a small area snow-free for them).

One benefit of the snow was seeing tracks of all the critters that had been about, during the night. For a while, it appeared the raccoons were hibernating, but just the other morning, Scott spotted raccoon footprints. Now that temperatures are rising, they're venturing out and eager to fill their hungry bellies.

Tracking the prints, Scott surmised that the raccoons walked around the perimeter of the chicken run, looking for a way in. They moved some stones away from the edge of the fence and paced back and forth.

The distressing part was that they were successful in breaching the fenced-in run. There were raccoon prints INSIDE the chicken run! How had they gotten in? No matter, really, as the result is the same.

Fortunately, the girls were all safely tucked in for bed, holed up in their coop. "Chicken" wasn't on the menu - at least - not that night.

Retribution came for the seven chickens just this morning, as they caught another two raccoons in their cleverly-devised trap! Sentencing was swift and merciful.

For those keeping score at home, the tally is now: Raccoons - 1 and Chickens - 6. (Note: The chickens caught a raccoon just before the snowfall, which the Randsco rag didn't report ... being Holiday season and all.)

"Brawk, brawk," said one chicken, when asked about the capture.

"Brawk Obama!" squawked another (apparently excited about the United States Presidential nominee).

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Oop Lights Utility Raccoon

December 2nd, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Utility Room Redo] Scott has been spotty on the Internet - here's why • [Chickens Three Raccoons One] Another two raccoons have been caught • [Oop Rabbit] An update on Alex's kindergarten year • [Festival of Lights] Kimlers head to Ladysmith for a Light-up Celebration

Utility Room Redo

Hutton House - After three days of debris, dust and upheaval, Rachel is already antsy for the project to be completed. Scott is thinking that he should have his head examined by a doctor of psychiatry, for beginning such a project, right before the holidays.

If you hear banging and notice plaster dust on your furnishings, it just might be from the newest Hutton House project - "The big utility room re-do".

"It's by far the biggest interior remodeling project we've done to-date," says Rachel, eager for her Christmas present, but unhappy to be living in turmoil till then (and secretly wondering if "her Christmas present" will be DONE by Christmas).

"We're just getting started," says Scott, covered in dust and up to his ears in plumbing, electrical, drywall and construction work.

The Hutton House utility room wasn't very ... well ... utilitarian ... for lack of a better word. The chimney and nearly triangular room makes the space awkward. Having a plumbing clean-out drain sticking up two inches out of the concrete floor, nearly two feet from the wall, doesn't help either. It meant the Kimler family washing machine sat nearly in the center of the room (since it can't be placed against the wall). There was little built in storage. Rachel bought and assembled a temporary shelving unit, which she put behind the washing machine - just to utilize the space. The electric dryer space is poorly utilized as well. It blocks access to the water heater, which is jammed into a triangular corner and was "hidden" with two large and ungainly doors. The only storage closet was - mostly - an laundry chute all the way from the 2nd floor bathroom.

"We thought the laundry chute was kinda cool," said Scott, "but we don't use it. So we're removing it and replacing it with a bonafide broom closet."

Other things that will change:

  • baseboard heater - removed
  • plumbing - moved interior to wall
  • washer - moved to dryer location
  • washer/dryer - stacked
  • washer area - add counter, cabinets & sink
  • add 220 Volt 20 AMP plug for garage
  • use dedicated 110 Volt 15 AMP circuit
  • more sockets + another overhead light
  • wash/dry area - add counter & storage
  • add lighted display cubby to stairwell
  • add coat hooks & shoe bench
  • new linoleum flooring
  • smooth textured ceiling & skylight box

"Of course," said Scott, "One thing leads to another and now we're looking at adding some kind of ducting system to move hot air from the living room - which has the wood stove - to the dining room and guest bedroom."

Rachel rolls here eyes, knowing that her life (and house) are going to be in varying states of demolition and construction for some time to come.

"Scott has a way of starting projects," she explains, "then putting them on hold whilst he works on something else."

"Hey," he retorts, "I finish stuff!"

"Yeah," says Rachel quickly, "but you do in years, what other people do in weeks."

"Hey, at least I finish them," Scott says, sheepishly.

We'll follow the progress of he utility room re-do, whether it's over the course of several weeks ... (or years - which is another matter entirely).

Chickens Three Raccoons One

Hutton House Hen House - The Hutton House hens caught another two raccoons in their trap. The raccoons were tried and convicted by a chicken court for their participation in the murder of a Hutton House chicken. Sentencing was carried out swiftly by the court bailiff, amid much clucking and brawking.

Oop Rabbits

Alex reports that she has been having loads of fun in kindergarten. In fact, between kindergarten, day-care, swimming lessons and Sparks (earliest Girl Guide group), she's got quite the social calendar.

Besides having her very own (first) birthday party this year, she's also on the social circuit for attending many parties of other kids ... AND ... she's even starting to have "play dates" with some of her school chums.

Eye vey, little Alex Kimler is growing up quickly!

It used to be that Alex spent a great deal of time at home, doing her own kind of "remodeling projects" (most of which involved loads of "demolition" and very little clean-up .... hmmmm .... kinda a lot like her Dad's projects!) Now, with school, her remodeling is pretty much limited to weekends.

This past Saturday (known to the Oop as "Cartoon Day") Alex decided she wanted to build a fort. So she took her "TV Blanket" (quilt made for her by her Gran) and the couch afghan (made by her other grandma), pillows, chair and foot-rest - placing them around the coffee table. Blammo ... instant fort!

Alex got her very first report card from school the other day. She "met expectations (advanced)" in all categories and "exceeded expectations" in her ability to "verbalize her thoughts and feelings". (When Scott and Rachel met with Alex's teacher, they learned that this was because Alex puts on such great "Show and Tells").

Alex has a show and tell opportunity each Wednesday. So far, she's shown and told about: Her summer trip to "Watch Lake (she brought Gran's photo scrap book to share); the different types of forest mushrooms (Dad and the Oop picked a variety of mushrooms from around the Hutton House); about her chickens (she brought a "rabbit" to show. For those that don't know, Scott draws a picture of a rabbit onto hard boiled eggs, to tell them apart from raw eggs.) and shared that her dad is in the fire hall (she's informed Dad that he'll have to come by the class and "talk" to the kids about the fire hall).

"Oh joy!" says Dad.

Festival of Lights

Ladysmith Festival of Lights

Ladysmith - Besides being the home town of Pamela Anderson, Ladysmith - a seaside town just south of Nanaimo - is also known for its Festival of Lights, a Christmas tradition.

The festival started in 1987, as a way to compliment the town's heritage and revitalization project. From the last Thursday in November, till the first Sunday in January, the town of Ladysmith is awash in shimmering Christmas lights. Over the years, the festival has grown, attracted corporate sponsors, more visitors and (of course) the light-up celebration (complete with a visit from Santa, a town parade and a fireworks display) is widely attended.

The first year the Kimlers moved to town, the light-up celebration was canceled, because of snow. They missed last year, but made up for their lapse by attending this year.

They joined the throng of people lining the main street. They watched, while Santa (perched on a roof) did the honors and lit up the town. Then it was time for the parade. All manner of emergency vehicle, truck and float - sporting a dazzling array of lights - made their way slowly down the street. Clowns, elves, Santas and other people walked along, handing out various trinkets, flyers, discounts and candy to kids small and large.

The Kimlers headed for home, after the parade, skipping the big fireworks display. (It was already past the Oop's bedtime - 8 PM).

"It's a great way to ring in the holidays," said Rachel, "and it's made even sweeter, because I took my final exam for my Labor & Delivery course, which means I'm done with school for this year! Yay!"

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Ginger Blue Raccoon

November 27th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Off with the Blue] Scott's no longer considered a "rookie" firefighter • [Raccoons One Chickens One] Hutton house chickens retaliate after losing one of their own to raccoons • [National 'Kick a Ginger' Day] A teen FaceBook group acts out on a satirical South Park cartoon episode, with socially concerning results

Off with the Blue

rookie blue tags firefighter tags

Hover over the image to watch the "rookie" blue stripes come off of Scott's helmet.

North Cedar Fire Hall - Amidst loud clapping and a mayoral handshake, Scott and two other volunteers at the North Cedar Fire Department, graduated from being rookie firefighters - to full-fledged members of the fire hall.

Since Scott joined a year ago last April, he's been wearing the reflective blue stripes that are the hallmark of junior members of the firefighting team. After much training, including first responder, CPR, live fire, air brakes, incident command, auto extrication, ladders, pumping, wild-land fires and hazardous materials ... as well as attending many calls ... he's now been moved into the regular ranks.

There was much back-slapping and quaffing of beer, by hall members, welcoming in Scott's graduating class. (Mind you, it doesn't take much cause for celebration at the hall. After fighting hot fires all day, most members have a nearly unquenchable thirst!)

(Hover over the helmet to see the "before" and "after" look).

From "Rookie" to "Pro". Way to go!

Raccoons One Chickens One

Hutton House Chicken Coop - After the loss of Chicken little, there was much clucking and brawking in the Hutton House Hen yard this past week, as they mourned the loss of one of their own.

In the wake of their grief, the girls put their heads together and came up with a daring plan to build - a raccoon trap! With Scott's help (and that of our neighbor, Charlie) they managed to fashion a galvanized metal trap.

The girls have been baiting and setting the trap each night, before they head into the coop. Using everything from meat to chicken feed - whatever they can get their little beaks on - they've been "trolling for 'coon", as they call it.

It took a while before they caught anything, as most of the time, birds would fly into the trap and peck at (eat) whatever bait was used.

Last week, however, the chickens were met with success, as they captured a live raccoon!

As you can imagine, there was much glee. They clucked and brawked ... then they scratched dirt at the trapped animal. They even tried to elicit information from their prisoner of war, but the raccoon refused to answer their questions.

We can't really say what became of their prisoner, as it's not appropriate to discuss such things in a family blog. Let's just say that the chickens got their revenge.

The girls are feeling better these days, though they still keep their raccoon trap baited and set.

 

Official "Kick a Ginger" Day

Canada - In a very bizarre and disturbing collision between technology and juvenile behavior, November 20th became promoted as Canada-wide "kick a ginger" day. (If you don't know - I didn't - a "ginger" is a deragatory name for someone having "light skin, freckles and red hair").

Canada national kick-a-ginger day was November 20, 2008, thanks to south park,  facebook and dumb kids

Fueled by a South Park cartoon episode (see video snippet on the left**), kids that are way too young to be viewing such satire, decided that they would use the Internet - by way of FaceBook - and create a "National Kick-a-Ginger Day" group.

The group attracted as many as 5,000 members, many of whom vowed to "kick a ginger" on the designated day - November 20, 2008.

Sadly, many people followed through with their promise and some did so in a non-joking manner. There were many instances of red-heads being kicked, some over 80 times and a few were left with physical evidence of their battery - bruising and such (and any associated emotional scars).

The story came across the Randsco editorial desk after one of Rachel's co-workers, Diane Mishkin - who has a 13-year-old red-headed son named Aaron Mishkin - was victimized at his school on "National Kick-a-Ginger Day". He figures he was kicked or hit about 80 times. He was traumatized by his treatment and elected not to go to school the following day. He was amazed at the behavior or his classmates who participated in the violent kicking and punching.

The FaceBook group has since been removed and the administrator of the group - a 14-year-old Courtenay kid - has been questioned by the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Some parents are so outraged, they are considering suing South Park. Other parents are angry that the schools weren't aware of the impending date and that they didn't take stronger actions.

Ironically, November 20th fell during the Canadian "Anti-Bullying" awareness week.

People are pointing fingers at South Park, teachers and administrators, but this author puts the blame squarely on parents. What the heck are they doing allowing juveniles to watch South Park? (With such episode titles as "You got F'd in the A", "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut", "Erection Day" and "Guitar Queer-o" ... this is obviously not material intended for undeveloped minds). Where is the dinner table discussions about bullying, tolerance and good sense?

That an early teen made a FaceBook group is not what's deplorable - don't blame the technology. What's deplorable is that kids actually acted-out on their cyber promises.

It's not a Village-idiot award here ... it's more like an entire village gets the award.

Smarten up folks.

** In the South Park show (not a show I've seen much of), the kid giving the speech during the episode above, wakes up one morning to discover he suddenly has red hair. By he end of the episode, he's advocating "red-power" and promoting tolerance. (i.e., despite the horrid language, the show does come back with a redeeming moral message).

More Info

  1. Vancouver Sun Nov-22 Article
  2. CTV.ca Nov-24 article and video interview
  3. Google search for "Kick a Ginger Day"

 

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