Thursday, March 29, 2012

Original or Extra Crispy- Two Batches of Chicken

It seems that as soon as one family member recovers, we lose two more.  That has been the drill for the last 3-4 weeks in our house. The perpetual illness (and painfully slow Internet connection) prevents me from writing as often as I would like.  But so much has been happening, it would be criminal for me to not share it with the world at large.

I feel like everyone is growing up so fast. Annabelle is now able to sit in the stroller like a big girl without her carseat.  As a side note- as soon as Annabelle outgrows the carseat, I am going to hurl it off a cliff into a burning inferno of napalm...that is, of course, if my shoulder ever heals from carting it around for the last 6 months.  I was so excited to select a careseat that would allow Annabelle to use it until she reached 30 pounds.  No one bothered to tell me that I would not be able to carry her in it when she weighs 30 pounds.  Even at half that weight I am ready to hot glue some wheels onto it and carry it like luggage at the airport when I'm trying to catch my connecting flight. What was my point?

Growing up.  So Annabelle has become this little person who is thinking. I can just tell the wheels are always turning. She loves those dogs (the only reason they are still alive) and cannot take her eyes off of them. And just a couple of weeks ago, it was the dogs who elicited her first real giggle fit.

But she is not the only one who is growing up before my eyes, our 12 "practice" chicks have gotten so big as well.  They've gotten so big that last weekend we took them out of the brooder and turned them loose into their coop.  And much like Annabelle is acting like a little person, our chicks are acting like little chickens.

If anyone is curious what a dozen baby chicks sound like, I took the liberty of recording this little clip for you shortly after we turned them loose in the chicken coop (if you are unable to open it or play it I'm sorry).  And that's just 12 of them.  Imagine what they will all sound like.

We found ourselves in the quandry of having two batches of chickens on our hands.  So we had decided to release the first batch into the coop because we knew the babies were coming and I am so terrified of chicken cannibalism that I felt we had to separate them, and bryan agreed.  Despite what some people may say, I do want to help with the chickens whenever possible so while Annabelle was napping I went outside last Sunday to help Bryan get the coop ready, and get the brooder ready for the new baby chickens. 

check out that bedding!
As it turns out I am not very good at lifting heavy things, removing a door from it's hinges, constructing perches, carrying perches, etc.  So I volunteered to spread the bedding out on the floor of the coop. Bryan brought some straw home, so I opened the large garbage bag full of straw and began to dump it out on the coop floor.  And I as watched the large swirls of oat dust pool up around me in the enclosed space, it occurred to me that perhaps this was not the best job for a person with seasonal and environmental allergies.  Sneezing commenced almost immediately.  But I made the best chicken coop bedding mixture that I have ever seen. The chips and straw were evenly dispersed and those chickens LOVED it. I could tell.

Once we had turned the chicks loose in the coop I actually was slightly worried that it was too soon, that they weren't ready.  They didn't do much but huddle together. And as I stood in a chicken coop I realized that having baby chickens was not unlike worrying about Annabelle.  And then I worried that perhaps my life had taken a strange turn since I was standing in a chicken coop mentally adding bullet points to all the ways the baby chicks were like Annabelle.  I was at a work dinner last night and a friend commented on how long she had known me and never would have guessed my dinner conversation was going to be about chickens...that I owned.  How right she is. 

But last week I spoke to an old friend I hadn't spoken to in a few years and mentioned where I was at in my life, and what my goals were for me and for my family and he said "well that's what you always wanted."  And I started to think back to conversations I had in the past, and what my life was like before I moved to the city and I do think deep down, chickens and babies were in the plan somewhere.  Thankfully Bryan took a few hours off of working during his busy season a few years ago to track me down to get my plan moving. 

But once again, I digress.

So I was worried it was too soon to turn them loose but Bryan said it was fine.  We watched them huddle together, strategically placed their feed and water and then left the coop.  But Bryan is always thinking and once we were outside he pulled me around to the side of the coop where the window is and we peered inside to watch the chickens. And sure enough all of them were eating and drinking just fine.  Yet another moment where I stepped back and saw myself standing on railroad ties peeking into a chicken coop window...and being relieved 12 chickens were eating. Who am I?  Who did I become?

releasing the chickens into the coop
 I wish that I had pictures of how big the first batch 12 chickens are, but they grow so fast!  The picture of the chicks on the left was taken Sunday and I feel like they are much bigger than this now.   Which also means they are faster.  It was quite easy to coral one or two before when we had them out of the brooder, but now...well it's a little embarrassing.  You have to be quick. They are still too little to respond to any sort of "chick chick chick" call (though I am skeptical this will actually ever work) so basically to try and catch one of these chicks involves a lot of running in small circles and saying things like "Come on" or  "gotcha. dammit" or "little bastards." 

Although I suppose it's noteworthy to mention that there really isn't any real reason to catch and handle the chicks at this point, other than to pet them and squeeze them..and torment them. It is also a little fun to feed them the chicken crack out of your hand or place them on their perches etc.  But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Perhaps we should stop monkeying with the chickens. Another minor setback with our chicks having freedom is that it is harder to protect them from Milton

Milton whining outside the coop door listening to the chicks run wild
Unfortunately Milton still has little bit of growing up to do when it comes to the chicks.  When we held one out for Bernie to sniff, Bernie did try to eat it. But he opened his jaws slowly and gingerly, while keeping one eye on us as if to say "Am I allowed to eat this?"  The other night when we took one of the new babies and let Milton "sniff" it, his jaws rapidly snapped over the chick's head.  Luckily after some shouting he released the baby who still had his head and beak attached to his body. I asked Bryan if he thought the chick was ok and he said "sure, he's fine."  I thought to myself  Once your head has been in another animal's mouth, are you ever really ok?
We got the bigger chicks situated in their coop just in time because Wednesday Bryan got "the call"and all 27 of our babies were chirping away in a box at the post office. I know that I explained this process a few posts ago so we do not need to rehash it.  But in case there is any confusion, the evidence below will show that they do just mail you a shoebox full of live chicks. 
I was relieved when Bryan told me they were all very much alive.  Interestingly enough, they did not send us any extra "just in case" chickens as their website indicated they would.  So we now have a total of 39 chickens. All still very much alive.  So much for bryan's 30 percent mortality rate theory. We are going to have 39 chickens...which is TOO MANY chickens.

I sit here listening to the tractor outside and I think about how my evening routine has evolved over the last several months. I thought the biggest change was when I was pregnant and could no longer drink (or function like a normal human), but it seems now it's even more different.  Usually the wind down begins with Annabelle's bath which, lately, is like giving a badger a bath.  And then we sing my powerful and moving rendition of Guns N Roses "Sweet Child O'Mine" a few times to aide in further winding down, and then after bottle, story, and tucking her in (if Bryan isn't here)I wash the dishes (or lie motionless on the couch recovering) until Bryan gets home from work and he and I crack open a couple of beers after Annabelle has fallen asleep and go out and check on all our chickens (I enjoyed this ritual more when it was 65 degrees).  Our two batches are divided up into "the big boys" and "the babies." And yes, at night time check in we torment all of them. Tonight we tormented the babies by picking a few of them up (after I insisted one of them was dying).  The big boys were tormented by Milton, who cannot seem to control himself.  

So they are all here and alive. Both batches, all 39 chickens.  Now Bryan and I have the responsibility of keeping them all alive.  I'm sure my bed-spreading will play an integral part in that project. I cannot wait until they are grown and pecking at the bugs in the yard and giving us numerous, tasty eggs!  And pretty soon they will not only have to fear the wrath of Milton...but Annabelle as well. By fall I would imagine she will be just as frightening to them as Milton is.
the new babies

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just the FAQs ma'am, baby chicks have arrived....

Well the day we have been waiting for finally arrived. Actually it arrived a week ago but once again illness overtook our household making it impossible for me to get excited about anything...even the baby chickens. Annabelle was still recovering from her ear infections when I came down with a fever last Thursday that lasted for almost 5 days.  There's really nothing wittyI can say about fevers or fever-related illness.  It was very unpleasant and I'm glad I'm feeling better.

But on Day 2 of my fever Bryan came home with what looked 3 Happy Meal boxes.  Contained in each of those boxes were 4 baby chickens.  He brought them in the house to show me (because I was too weak to go outside and walk all the way to the chicken coop) and set the boxes on the counter. I was amazed at how loud those baby chickens were, and how unsettling the sound of them pecking the inside of the boxes was.  Bryan took one out to show me but at that point I didn't want to hold one because I was worried they would get too cold, and quite frankly...I was sick and it just seemed like a lot of effort.
Our Chicken coop
Luckily Bryan works well under pressure and while Annabelle and I went to visit Nana (remember? when we were trapped in snowstorm like they were in the book Alive) and poppy a couple weeks ago, Bryan got the coop almost entirely completed and our brooder finished and ready to go.  So our baby chicks had a safe and warm environment to go to since their Happy Meal boxes weren't suitable.

I would like to point out that these were not the baby chicks that we ordered from the hatchery.  These were supplemental chickens because Bryan got very excited and impatient and didn't want to wait for our 3/26 chick delivery.  So if anyone is keeping track, by the end of March we will have at least 37 chickens (remember? the hatchery sends extra chicks just in case a few die in transit, so more chicks are possible).  I think almost 40 chickens is a bit excessive.
Because we were buying off the rack, we did not get a
choice in chicken breed from the retailer. So we have a mix of boys and girls and we most likely have Rhode Island Reds, Red Sex Links (or New Hampshire Reds we are unsure of what we got), and Anconas. I was surprised that as babies, they all pretty much look the same.  About half are yellow and half are a light brown with some patterns are their wings.  Right now it is difficult to tell who the boys are and who the girls are....though it is possible to figure out who is who, I have requested we just wait until they are bigger and can tell with a visual check.

So far the baby chickens are doing very well.  It is more than  a week later and we still have all 12.  I think we have been lucky though because we are having frighteningly unseasonably warm weather in Wisconsin this week and next.  It has been in the high 70's all week. I think baby chickens prefer that to the normal March temperatures we have.  They are getting used to us, more so Bryan than me and are not quite as frightened when we enter the coop now.  I am sure everyone is wondering what my role is in caring for the baby chickens has been. I will answer that question.  It has been minimal.  HOWEVER I am not taking responsibility for my lack of involvement.  Bryan designed the brooder just like he hangs pictures and wall hangings...he did it for a tall person.  I cannot reach the bottom of the brooder, and therefore cannot reach the feeder, the waterer, or the chicks themselves.  We have discussed getting some sort of step stool for me, but we might as well just wait until they're bigger. 
Me, delerious with fever, crushing a baby
Chicken care has been relatively easy (for Bryan)  we check on them in the morning, after work, and before bed to make sure they are warm enough.  Incidentally, the heat lamp is red because it helps prevent cannibalization..something I didn't realize would be a concern.  It has led me to wonder if while they are pecking the bejesus out of one another if they are saying to their friends "Hey, tastes like chicken." 

They are getting big very quickly and are starting to fling all their bedding everywhere.  Thankfully they are in the coop and not in the house.  We feed them chicken starter and ground up oats and cornmeal, which they LOVE.  One of them was eating it out of my hand.  We're trying to get me more accustomed to the chickens, it seems I spook easy (I refer you to my post about the cow that charged Annabelle and I).  I can't help but fear they are going to [eck out my eyes. Truthfully I am also slightly afraid I am going to squish them while I am holding them.  So each day I try to hold them and get them more used to me...and me more used to them.

So now I'm going to take this opportunity to answer some of the chicken questions I have gotten.  Once again I need to provide the disclaimer that I am not attempting to be a chicken expert.  I am answering these chicken questions in the way that I understand them, and in case you haven't figured this out, I am not a scientist.

FAQs I get when I mention we are attempting to raise chickens:

1.  Will you get eggs if you only have girl chickens?
       a:  yes.  we do have boy chickens (aka roosters aka cockerels), but you don't need boys for eggs.
           hens will lay eggs whether there are boys are not.

2.  Will you get baby chickens if you have boys?
      a: WE will not.  The only way you will  get baby chickens is if you allow the hen to sit on the egg
          for 28 (I think) days.  If you collect the eggs every day it doesn't matter if it's fertilized or not. 
          Because we are potentially going to have 37 chickens, we are not interested in breeding any
          more just yet.

3.  What color eggs will you have?
      a: brown.  and that's because we selected breeds that lay brown eggs...except for maybe Anconas. I
          think those might be white. 

4.  Is there a difference between brown and white eggs?
     a:  no.  Fresh eggs have slightly more yellow and more dense yolk, and their flavor may be slightly
          different (in theory better than) than store bought/commercially farmed eggs because we won't 
          be using a hormones or chemicals and our eggs will essentially be organic.

5.  Will you eat the chickens?
     a:  Yes. some of them.  37 chickens make a lot of eggs.  And we will most likely end up with a few
           too many roosters.

6.  Will you (meaning me) help butcher the chickens you eat?
     a:  what do YOU think?  no. probably not.  I would like to be the type of farm wife who is able to
          pluck and slaughter a chicken, but realistically I don't think I have the stomach (or knife skills)
         to do it.  Although I am getting to be quite handy with the .45, and as you may or may not recall
        shooting a chicken with a handgun is an acceptable method of butcher.

7.  Where do they live, eat, sleep, etc?
     a:  right now the chickens are in a brooder that Bryan built. It has their heat source, water, food,
          room to scratch and Bryan also built a little jungle gym for them to roost on and we placed some
          large bricks for them to roost (and poop) on too. It has a lid with wire mesh to keep them
          inside when they get bigger, and there's a thermometer inside so we can monitor the temperature
Our brooder...with Annabelle inside testing it out. Because that's
what you do when you have a baby...put her in the brooder.
8.  When will you have eggs?
     a: Late July/Early August.  It depends on the breed but it should be in about 16 weeksish.

9.  Where do the chickens go after they outgrow the brooder?
     a:  the coop.  We had a freestanding building that Bryan turned into a coop.  The building itself
          was in okay condition, Bryan just put in windows (for ventilation and light), added an 
          inside wall to make it easier to keep warm, insulated it and then added some nest boxes and
          perches.  Our chickens will also be outdoors during the day.  Bryan still has to complete 
          their little doggy door, ramp, and fenced in area.  Chickens are creatures of habit and once
          they are used to their little fenced in area (and we are certain Milton will not eat them) 
          hopefully they can just roam free on our property.  They help keep the bug population 
Coop in early construction
Nest boxes and perches
 I believe this concludes the question and answer portion of our discussion today.  Feel free to leave comments if you have additional questions. I can try to answer them in my non-scientific, non-official capacity.

Delivery of our next batch of chicks is around March 26.  I'm terrified these 12 chicks are going to attack and terrorize our new baby chicks when they arrive.  Bryan is brainstorming a way to separate the chicks. Originally we didn't think it would be an issue but the chickens are now wild with their flinging and flapping...a bit too rowdy a crowd for new babies.  Speaking of which, it seems Annabelle is too rowdy for our baby chicks as well.  When we pick one up and hold it near her she gets very excited and turns into Baby Huey and tries to snap a wing or neck off.  Now that she has part of a tooth poking out we need to be cautious that she doesn't think it's a McNugget.  Surprisingly Bernie also thought the baby chicks were a midday snack.  Bryan held one out for Bernie to sniff and right away he opened his mouth and tried to eat it.  Perhaps we should stop pulling these chicks out and trying to "introduce" them to our dogs and baby. 

Thanks to Nana, Annabelle has a chicken she cannot murder

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Commutisms: Weekend Edition-Family Fails

A short-lived snowstorm that cut through portions of La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Lee counties on Friday afternoon caused multiple traffic accidents, including a major one on Interstate 39 near Compton.
“It was rain that turned to slush and then turned to ice,” said Dean Ege, Mendota’s assistant fire chief.
While Mendota and Troy Grove firefighters assisted with a two-vehicle accident south of the city on Route 251 with no serious injuries, towing businesses from Mendota and surrounding areas were kept busy at multiple-vehicle accidents that occurred around 3:30 p.m. to the north on I-39.
For roughly four hours, traffic was at a near standstill as emergency personnel and tow truck drivers attempted to clear more than one accident scene between mile markers 79 and 82.
Although police were too busy Friday night to issue reports, Carol Ramer of Ramer Automotive and Towing said the backup apparently began when a semi hit a car and jackknifed, which then led to further cars and trucks stopping to avoid the crash, sliding into roadside ditches or crashing into other vehicles.
“Nobody can go anywhere, emergency personnel can’t go anywhere because people are parked all over the place,” Carol Ramer said at about 5:30 p.m.
Since temperatures weren’t cold enough to freeze the ground, conditions in the median and ditches along the interstate were a “soggy mess,” she said.
Ramer said state police had even called her looking for four-wheel drive vehicles to use to access the scene. The driver of Ramer’s semi-wrecker had to carefully back onto I-39 from the ramp at U.S. 34 because the road was so blocked.
“It was a junkyard,” said Paul Ramer of Ramer Automotive and Towing.
  (Courtesy of The News Tribune-LaSalle/Peru, IL)

On Friday Annabelle and I happened to find ourselves at mile marker 81 just in time to sit on interstate 39 for at least 2 hours. This was fail number three of this week. This came after believing Annabelle had been teething all week, only to learn she in fact was not teething but had a double ear infection.  Let's call that fail number one.  So I mentioned to the pediatrician that we had a trip to Nana's house planned this weekend and asked if it was okay to take her.  The pediatrician said "absolutely" and said a long nap in the car would do her some good (though I don't think she meant a 6 hour nap which was how long the trip actually ended up taking).  Whew! We hate to cancel Nana trips.  Then suddenly it seemed we were under a winter storm advisory for Friday, the day I was going to travel. 

To travel or not travel? That was the big question.  Bryan ultiatenmly gets to be the one who decides if we travel or not.  I have never exhibited any sort good judgement or decision-making skills in ANY scenario so we let bryan make any major decisions in our house.  He determined it would be safe to travel because his scar did not itch.  Fail number two.  I altered his decision and took the afternoon off of work believing IF any weather did occur, I would certainly beat it to Illinois.

I was wrong.

I missed the bad weather in Wisconsin for the most part but hit some horrible situation in Illinois, approximately 40 miles north of my destination.  I ended up stuck on the interstate behind what turned out to be a few multiple vehicle accidents.  The crappy part about accidents on the interstate in the snow?  There is never just one.  Once I was sitting on the southbound side, stuck...I noticed that the traffic had stopped on the northbound side as well.   It seems the distraction of the accident on our side caused a few more semis to jackknife on the northbound side, shutting the northbound side as well.  And then when I looked in my rear view mirror to see how far traffic was backed up, I saw that just behind me there were at least two semis that had also lost control of their trailers and now I was sandwiched between 3 accidents completely blocking any chance of getting out of it. On top of it, it was still snowing heavily therefore covering the interstate with snow. And I had Annabelle in the back, sick.  Fail number...four? Or does that count as two?

I wasn't really panicking because in the car I had enough supplies to keep us alive for a few days.  Clothes, blankets, baby food, diapers, formula (and natures formula), water, toys, books, phone, phone charger, and a full tank of gas.  This really wasn't that big of deal.  But when you sit in a car on the interstate watching both the interstate and all the vehicles parked on it get covered with snow, it starts to feel like a big deal...who doesn't remember the Donner Party? Thankfully Annabelle doesn't have any teeth yet.  But being stuck in bad weather with a sick baby, it kind of  and it makes you start to feel like a shitty mom.

With Annabelle sound asleep, my guilt was temporarily eased.  But the other thing I did not consider was a bathroom. After being in the car for about 5 hours (so far one of which had been spent sitting in park on I-39, I wondered what to do in that situation. Do I go in the ditch?  Do I open both car doors and pee between them? I think people would have suspected something was up when they saw a pair of pants on the ground between two car doors, wouldn't they?  I decided the best thing to was ignore it and wait until it was an emergency. And if worse came to worse...I did have Annabelle's diapers.

I decided a good thing  to do in that situation is to get out and make friends with truck drivers. They seem to have their shit together. I spoke to the driver next to me and he was able to tell me what had happened, approximately how far we were from an exit, and what mile marker we were located at.  When I stopped a fireman on foot walking he told me we would be sitting there for at least two hours. I said "But i have a baby in the car." and he said "The best thing to do is watch your gas gauge. If you think you're running low, turn the car off."  Do firemen receive formal training? I think I could have figured that out on my own. I wanted to call after him "Do you want me to feed her gasoline?" but I didn't because the small part of my brain that uses logic reminded me that I had 3 days worth of supplies in the car.  But like I said, when all you can see is snow, and you can't start to go a little buggy. Even after an hour.

So my next conversation occurred with the driver of the truck behind me. He too thought we would be there a while. I also told him I had a baby in the car, as if one of these people would say "A baby? Well here, take this secret underground tunnel out of here."  This driver seemed to sense that I was starting to lose my grip and kindly offered me several Slim Jims.  He also said that plenty of milk in his truck for my baby (I didn't want to hurt his feelings and explain babies cannot have cows milk) which I thought was very nice. I felt I could identify and trust this man so I blurted out "I have to pee really bad."  and he said I could pee in front of his truck, between his truck and my car and no one would see, and then he handed me a wad of paper towels.  How kind!  As I reluctantly made my way to the front of his rig and contemplated peeing in the middle of the interstate amongst dozens of other vehicles I saw a fireman approaching vehicles and directing them to move.  I think that would have probably been near the top of embarrassing moments, peeing on an interstate in front of a semi having a  fireman approach me and tell me to move my vehicle.  Bullet-dodged.

I got back in my vehicle, moved per the fireman's instruction, only to sit and wait again.  When all was said and done I spent 2 hours sitting on the interstate wondering if I was going to have to eat a fellow traveler to survive.  When we were finally moving again I couldn't help but notice how many semis and vehicles were in the median just before and after this accident. It was as if no one was able to stop suddenly.  I have never seen anything like it. There were cars and trucks all over the place.

And while I got my vehicle back up to speed and reassured Annabelle she wasn't going to perish in the blizzard, I wondered what the acceptable amount of time to be stranded is before one can freely urinate on the interstate. I normally do not turn into Gloria Steinem, but I do think public urination is an area where men have it made. I think if a man would have peed along the interstate while we are all parked there, no one would have had an issue with it. But had I done it? Well, people would have been disgusted on thought I was a savage.  Oh well, I simply had to make it 40 more miles without peeing my pants and I would consider that a success.

I also pondered my mom fails of  this week.  100.3 fever and fussy? Must be teething.  Or perhaps a raging ear infection I ignored.  Storm advisory and potential blizzard? Perfect time to tkae a road trip! But after doing a little investigating I learned I wasn't the only one to make these types of bad mom decisions.

My mom told me that when she was four and a half she told her mom (my Grammie) that she had a tummy ache. Grammie told her that she probably had her underpants on backwards.  When it turned out my mom had her underpants on  correctly, Grammie insisted that she just didn't want to eat Chop Suey. That evening my mom's appendix ruptured.

My Grandma DeSalvo used to put my dad in the baby buggy on the porch in the winter and put some blankets over him so the snow wouldn't pile up on him.

And because I am equal opportunity whistle-blower,  I will also mention that Bryan's mom said that when Bryan's brother was five he kept complaining that his tooth hurt and she just assumed it was because he didn't want to go to preschool. Weeks later when he finally went to the dentist, he needed a root canal.

My mom told me about the time Uncle Wally (my great uncle) and her dad were attempting to shoot the air-rifle and didn't think it was working, So my Uncle Wally put his finger over the barrel of the gun, and as it turns out, it was in fact working. At the hospital the nurse asked Wally how old he was and he said "Old enough to know better."  As a result of that injury Uncle Wally's fingernail fell off which he put glitter on and made into a necklace and gave it to my mother for Christmas.

And when my sister was little they used to yell at her for sitting too close to the tv all the time. Turns our she was legally blind.

And when I was little I used to get in trouble for not listening.  Turns out after a hearing test, I really couldn't hear and needed tubes in my ears.

And of course when I was home one evening under my father's care I came up from my bedroom to complain that I was hot, so my dad cut the feet off of my footie pajamas (I'm told this type of garment alteration occurred in Bryan's house as well).

Bryan's dad told me a story that Matt and Bryan were outside and Bryan came in the house and got a knife. It turns out Matt was outside playing in the tree with a rope and ended up getting the rope caught around his leg and hanging upside down from the tree and Bryan had to cut him down.  Bryan corroborated the story but said that Matt had climbed the tree and tied the rope to himself as a safety precaution, and Bryan had come in to get the knife to cut him down.  So Bryan alleges this was not in fact a parental fail as Matt clearly had a safety plan in place. 

So I suppose I can rest well knowing that for Annabelle, being in a car for 6 hours wasn't much different than being asleep in her swing or laying on the blanket eating dog hair for the afternoon.  I suppose worse things will happen to Annabelle on my watch.

The good news is that Annabelle finally got to eat her Avocado. And I believe Nana has started her own Annabelle's Avocado plant as well.