Sunday, December 28, 2008

Resolutions, Goals and Life Lists

     I'm not very good at keeping resolutions but ever the optimist I thought I'd try to put some things together as goals for the coming year and beyond. Our December book club read was "The Next Thing on My List" and was a fiction story about a woman who decided to finish the bucket list of a practical stranger who was killed in an auto accident while the main character was driving her home one day from a Weight Watchers meeting as a courtesy. There were about 14 things on the list from big to small and it took her a year to complete them all.
     My friend Leslie gave me a great compliment that she admired that I often accomplished the things I said I wanted to do. Oh if she only knew how long those lists were and how much more there is to do! I can't ever die because I have too many plans!
     Some of the items on this list are things I'd like to do this year and other are things for the near future but I thought it couldn't hurt to organize them and get things started. Besides...you know how I love a list!

1. Watch less television (really hard for me because I'm a total addict, there should be a 12 step program or a patch).
2. Read 52 books in a year (which would be a lot easier if I watched less television).
3. Eat no fast food for a year (I'm not sure that's even possible).
4. Plan our family meals a week/month at a time and shop for them accordingly.
5. Lose 20 pounds...again.
6. Cut my hair (childhood hair trauma has kept my hair long for the past 25 years, again, I probably need a patch or 12 step program for this one too).
7. Learn some Italian.
8. Go to Italy (obviously learning some Italian would help this cause and Dawn and I are going to try to save enough money to go together the summer of 2010)
9. Learn to play my really spectacular Taylor Big Baby guitar (or at least a few recognizable campfire worthy songs).
10. Raise all of our own meat on the farm.
11. Learn to make cheese and bread.
12. Finish the last 12 mile section of the Ozarks Highland Trail in Arkansas (I have already hiked 153 miles of it).
13. Print last year's photos so I can scrapbook them.
14. Scrapbook them.

Wow, that was just a coincidence that it ended up being 14 things. I'm going to keep adding to it and list it on the sidebar so I can work on it this year.

Happy New Year!

Life and Death on the Farm

The day after Christmas Grace wanted to bring the bunnies in to play with. We hadn't had them in the house in months so Bryon caught them and put them into the cat carrier to bring inside. They hopped around and explored a little bit and she played with them until she got scratched with one of their sharp little toes and she was tired of them. She just wants to hold them all the time and you can imagine how much they wanted to be held.
Finally Bryon scooped them up and took them back out to the hutch. I thought I'd get out there and clean it while it was empty but didn't have time to. Then yesterday morning I went out to feed and water them and saw a little blood on the bedding. I figured one of them must have gotten a little cut or something and looked over into the box and here is what I saw...
I couldn't believe it. I had no idea one of them was even pregnant. There were four little bald baby bunnies. I sort of freaked out trying to figure out what to do with them. Yesterday was the warmest day of the year, so I don't know if that's what triggered her to choose the night before to have them or if bringing her inside triggered it or if it was just time and all a coincidence but there they were. I didn't say anything to Grace about them.

We had figured the bunnies were the same sex because we got them the last weekend of July and they were a couple of months old at that time and nothing had happened yet but as I was searching the internet to see what to do with the babies, I found out that they can start breeding between 5-6 months, which would be NOW. I probably should have read that sooner.

Bryon wasn't too excited about the whole thing. I was trying to figure out how to or if I should bring them into the house and decided against it. I thought about it all day and decided that if she could take care of them out there and keep them alive then we'd figure out how to give them away when the time came but if they didn't make it then so be it. I was grumpy all day worrying about them. I knew they probably wouldn't make it through the cold night and sure enough this morning there were four little dead bunny babies out there. I scooped them up and made Bryon bury them back behind the barn. He wanted to feed them to the pigs. Men.

I also learned in my bunny research (which I obviously should have done sooner) that she could get pregnant again immediately and have another litter in 31 days. True to form, Flip was trying to mount her all day. Men.

I called and got an appointment and Flop will get neutered on Jan. 5. Bryon asked how much it was going to cost and I told him he didn't want to know. Men.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008


We had a great Christmas this year. We ended up spending about $250 total and it was all on Grace. Still sort of crazy but it was MUCH reduced from last year believe it or not. Her big item was "real microphone like Hannah Montana with sparkles". That was all she had actually asked for from Santa. I found a little Memorex karaoke machine at Target for $25 and brought it home. I had found a Cinderella dress the day after Halloween for dress up and bought several books the past few months from Scholastic at school. Bryon bought home a book about a princess which he had personalized and had her name and details about her, her friends and family too. So really that was probably enough but...

then, we went shopping.

Grace spent last weekend with Nana so Bryon and I could go shopping for some last minute things for her and stocking stuffers. Bryon and I didn't even do stockings this year either. I had a $25 gift card to ToysRUs so we went there first and that's when he saw it. A Hannah Montana microphone WITH sparkles. It was $99.95. I called Target while we were there because I had seen one there too but decided it was too expensive. Target was all out. Theirs was $10 cheaper of course. We left with the Hannah Montana one.


We found a couple of outfits for her at Target, lots of stocking stuffers. I also found her a Daddy doll to play with her Barbies. I don't know what's happened to all the Ken dolls of the world but there wasn't a Ken to be found at any store we visited. The only boys were HS Musical boys. Bryon decided it was a sexist conspiracy to do away with Daddy's. I'm not sure about that, but it was greatly lopsided and we know from years past that even GI Joes are few and far between. Seems like a conspiracy to me too really.

Mom, Dad, Susan and Mike came up Christmas Eve and Bryon made spaghetti carbonara, I made Armenian bread and we had salad. Mom brought my favorite, chocolate sheet cake and we just ate ourselves to oblivion. Grace was the only one who had presents to open so she tore into them. She knew what it was all about this year. She got so much stuff but it was still better than last year. We didn't make it to church service but stayed up and watched Mama Mia together which was pretty fun.

Grace finally went to bed with Nana and Santa got up in the middle of the night and put a smudge of soot on Grace's little cheek to show that he had given her a kiss before he left. Bryon had told her he might and sure enough...Mom thought she had a bruise on her cheek when she got up but Grace quickly told her what it was...a Santa kiss.

Mike and Nana spent the night and Christmas day we watched Elf, Ice Age and The Christmas Story all day.

I think the whole no give exchange thing went really well over all and everyone felt relieved to not be stressed buying gifts or spending the money. Our bank account looks a lot better for it too.

Only 363 days until Christmas 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Heirloom Seeds



Oh I can hardly wait to get my new Baker Seed catalog. Baker Seed is in Mansfield, MO which is of course just a hop, skip and a jump from here. Last year Bryon and I went up there for the first time and bought several seeds to try. Baker sells only heirloom and rare seeds. No hybrids or GMO seeds. We tried some lemon cucumbers (not too good actually), some okra, beets, radishes and I can't remember what all else. This year I want to buy all our seed from them. I'd really like a little greenhouse which we may be able to swing with our new raised garden setups. I haven't been too good in the past at raising much from seed except for squash which have pretty sturdy little stalks from the beginning really. Maybe THIS will be my year!


I had severe seed catalog envy when I saw my friend Leslie already had her Baker catalog! I kept waiting for it to come in the mail but it hasn't so I just ordered one again. I'm really not too patient. Shock huh.


Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head I have chicken cage plans and seeds dancing in mine.


Order yours here http://rareseeds.com/

Counting your eggs before they hatch.


November 2008 041
Originally uploaded by trlrover
I just FINALLY started getting some pale green eggs last week and have 4 in the fridge right now. The Araucana (not the crooked beaked one of course) finally started laying. I've been leaving a 100 watt light on for the chickens the past several nights because it's so dang cold in there and because of the increased light they have all been laying more.

They have all been cooped up for the past four or five days for their own protection because I knew I wouldn't be home in time to close their coop door and keep them safe and sound. Yesterday I let them out and they went nuts. They were so happy! Unfortunately last night when they went to roost I only counted seven. Sure enough the Araucana (NOT the crooked beaked one which survives against all odds) was missing. I checked the garage shelves where she sometimes tries to roost but nothing.

I figured she'd freeze to death during the night because it was one of the coldest nights of the year. This morning, nothing, no sign of her then just a bit ago I went out to refill the thistle seed for the finches and saw a bunch of her feathers strewn about. Looks like she's fallen prey to whatever is eating the fowl on our farm.

The duck is gone too now. We noticed him missing a couple of days ago and hoped he'd show up but no dice.

And then there were seven.

Angel Baby

Just in case anyone ever doubted my angelic qualities, here is some photographic proof!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Program 2008

Grace sang her heart out last week at her school Christmas Program. She was definately the loudest one. I'd reminded her not to hike her dress up right before she went up on stage because she kept trying to pull her tights up. (Girls you know how that goes, the crotch is ALWAYS at the knees by the time you walk very far). She did pretty good but still managed to ball her dress up into a knot before it was over. Her teacher must have motioned to her or she remembered not to about halfway through.

On the way to the car I was telling her how good she had done and she said, "Mama I didn't even hike up my dress!"

That's my girl.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Man and His Ass

Bryon volunteered to walk the donkey behind the church float for the Marshfield Christmas Parade last Saturday. One of the church member's daughters (Katie) who is 14 was dressed up as Mary and was riding along. Darrell (the donkey's owner) said if Alvie (the donkey) made it through the entire parade it would be the longest hike he'd ever been on (he's 12). Skeptical but game, Bryon loaded up on range cubes (donkey snacks) and they headed out. Grace rode on the float which consisted of a rocking chair with one of the church mom's in it reading the Christmas story to some kids by the fireplace and the most pathetic Charlie Brown Christmas tree you've ever seen. For some reason we had three wisemen walking alongside too handing out flyers for the Live Nativity our church is doing over the next three nights for promotion. It was quite the spectacle. Grace rode on the float, wrapped up, cold and somber the whole time. I rode in the cab of the truck.
I kept hoping for my $10,000 video opportunity but missed it because right as we rounded the square in front of the parade judges, a bunch of motorcycle riders revved up their bikes and that was all she wrote for Alvie. Alvie bucked, kicked Katie off over the top of his head and generally seized up. Bryon had two range cubes left and tried to help Katie up and Alvie off the street but Alvie wasn't having anymore to do with the parade. Finally Bryon told Katie to grab some peppermint sticks that were littering the street and enticed Alvie to the courthouse lawn until Darrell could arrive and retrieve his errant donkey.
All's well that ends well. I'm just glad I wasn't Mary.
Tomorrow night Grace and I will be Angels in the Live Nativity.
I don't know why we sign up for this stuff.

Bell Ringers


Bryon and Grace rang the Salvation Army bell at Walmart last Saturday while I shopped for groceries. Bryon insisted they needed Santa hats. He chose this joker model and Grace didn't want to wear one until she saw the Angel hat. They made a pretty good haul for the charity and we all went to Sonic for drinks afterwards.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thirty Four Books

I've been keeping track of all the books I've been reading on a site called Shelfari.com and the best I can track I've read 34 books this year! I still have two more I hope to finish by the end of the year. I think that's probably the most I've ever read in a year. I didn't even count all the books I've read to Grace. Bryon's read several to her as well.

I've been taking Grace to the library every week for a new batch of reading materials. She just randomly grabs things from the shelves which drives me CRAZY! Mostly she just wants to play the computer games they have setup on one computer for the under 6 set. She's actually learning how to do a couple of the games. That leaves me free to choose books for her, more carefully, more conscientiously. She still randomly plops a few on top of the stack at the last minute just so she can have the last word, literally.

She's definately her mother's daughter.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Girl


I almost didn't even send out Christmas cards this year but last night finally got most of them addressed, labeled and sent out today. We had a Christmas party last night so Grace was all dressed up and we went upstairs and snapped a picture of her under the tree. She's a cutie :) and getting more grown up each day.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Where's Waldo?


Well it's not exactly Waldo but it is Chickeno. One night last week I put the remaining eight chickens up for the night and came inside to fix dinner. When Bryon came home he stuck his head in the door and yelled for me to come to the garage. Well I didn't know what the heck he was hollering about and stomped out to the garage with stuff cooking on the stove. He pointed to the rack of shelves in the garage and I looked and didn't see anything until I finally registered that one of the Araucana's was roosted on the shelf.

Now every night I count them to make sure all eight are in the coop and when one is missing I know where to look. She's took to roosting on the top shelf which I can't reach so when Bryon gets home he has to collect her and carry her back out to the coop.


Crazy chickens.

A Date With Destiny

January 8 is the butcher date for the pigs. Our neighbor and Hannah's local Curt stopped by and took a look at them to see what he thougth they weighed and he guessed them at about 250 lbs. It's hard to see it but he should know because he helped butcher four hogs a couple of weekends ago. Ours are going to the locker plant. I don't think we're ready for hog butchering on the farm yet. I would like to go over there next time they do it and learn how but I know how big a job working up a deer is and the thought of doing THAT in January is not very appealing. Cheaper but not appealing right now. If we had just bought those little guys a couple of months earlier we'd already be eating sausage now and not having to feed and water them in the cold and dark. A good farming lesson learned.
Bryon is lobbying for a mercury light on the back side of the cabin or on the electric pole for the cabin but I'm holding out. That's one of the things I love about it out her is that it is pitch dark at night. Now, do I go out every night and enjoy the stars? No, but I could if I wanted to. I try to feed them if I get home before him and it's still light outside. They are big but they aren't mean. I don't like going into the pen because they try to root the bucket out of your hands and stick their entire heads into the bucket and they are STRONG.
It's hard to believe now that they started out like this in July
I don't know how much meat we'll get out of them but I'm looking forward to some sausage grave soon!

Simple Christmas and Media Addiction

Everyone has  been excited about the simplified Christmas this year and the no gift exchanging plan. The one family gathering where I thought I would have to buy a gift for it now turns out that I won't have to. No one wanted to trade names for the kids so my Grandma is buying one gift for each child  to open under the tree at our family gathering. I don't think the kids will even know or remember the difference. We'll see.

People have been sending me links to check out from websites that help promote this idea. This one was a good one I just checked out http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pdf/CommercialFreeHolidayGuide.pdf 

One of their ideas was a television free time. That's a hard one for me. I WANT to turn the thing off but I can't stand the silence. I know I could listen to music but it's such a hard habit to break and I REALLY enjoy the down time sitting on the couch catching up on my DVR'd shows. Maybe we could try it for one day a week or something and work up. Or only watch our DVR'd shows for a week. Part of my problems is my slight news addiction. The election really fed that monster for me. I don't know why I feel like I have to hear it all four times: on the morning radio news, at noon on the radio, on the ride home on the radio and then on television. The other part of the equation is the background noise. I just have to have something going on all the time. I don't know why. Maybe I'd adjust to life without it, but like chocolate I'm pretty sure I don't REALLY want to. I like the idea of it mostly and admire others who CAN do it.

Hmmmm, it's almost time for New Years resolutions again. Maybe it's something to consider.

I think everyone is following the no gift plan. Of course we are buying some things for Grace, but all she has asked for is a REAL microphone. Santa will bring her that along with some more gumballs for her gumball machine she got on her birthday and a few other little items. Grace is going to go stay with Nana the weekend before Christmas so we can go to town for a few hours before another Christmas party to shop for her. Hopefully we can keep things under control and not just go nuts overbuying . That is the plan anyway.

It's going to be hard for Bryon though because he loves to give and always comes up with good and thoughful gifts. He brought home a sack Monday night from work where they were having a craft show and presented me with a VERY cool patriotic purse. It remained unsaid but I'm assuming it was my non-Christmas gift which he figured didn't count since it's not ACTUALLY Christmas yet. Hypocrite that I am, I loved it. It's hard to say no to a gift  but at least we've greatly reduced the process and the carnage.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out but right now it's a HUGE relief.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Santa Photo


Saturday after the dust settled I was ready to get out of the house so we took Grace to Bass Pro to see Santa. We got there at 5:30 and got a pass to see Santa at 7:30. We went and ate dinner then came back and waited in line...forever. Finally she shyly went up and sat on his lap and we got this free picture. I'm glad it was free because it was terrible and blurry but at least she got a chance to tell him she wanted a "real" microphone for Christmas.

I'm pretty sure she'll get one :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Family Reunion


We had a great week of Thanksgiving with Bryon's family coming together for the first time ever for some of the cousins and at least 4 years for his mother and grandmother to be together. There were 19 people staying with us from Tuesday night until noon today. Everyone had a great time and being together was a real blessing. Bryon was sweating it, fearing it might not happen but half of his family came from Nebraska and the other half from Tennessee and we were all truly grateful for the opportunity to be together.

Everyone played games, jumped on the trampoline, rode the four wheeler, played paintball , searched for Big Foot in the woods and some of them ventured into town on Black Friday to do a little combat shopping.

It was a great weekend and everyone is already almost home now since they left at 3 am this morning except for his niece and her family. It may be a long time before we can all be together again, but it sure was nice while it lasted.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Anything for a puppy.


Grace really wants a dog. What kid doesn't. I admit I miss having a dog quite a bit but the thought of keeping one more thing alive right now is tiresome. Between the chickens, pigs, bunnies, duck, cat, Grace and the husband...I think I'm pretty lucky nothing has gone toes up yet. (Okay so three chickens and a duck died but certainly not due to my neglect, bobcats and chicken hawks are beyond my control really).

This is the longest I've ever gone without a dog (20 months). Here's what I don't miss: all my stuff getting chewed up, dog hair, dog poop, holes in the yard, buying giant bags of dog food twice a month, slimy dog chew toys, worrying about them, fleas, flea medicine, $300 vet bills when they get tick fever, spending enough time with them so they don't need dog therapy later, whining, barking, barking, barking.

Here's what I do miss: puppy kisses, puppy breath, wiggle butts, soft little ears, fetch.

Every so often Grace will sigh longingly as we drive by our empty dog kennel and say "Poor puppies. My puppies died." (two were 12 years old and she never knew one of them, the other one we gave away because she was chasing Bryon's deer off). "When can I have another puppy?"

We have explained to her that dogs and chickens generally don't get along so well. The dogs would likely eat the chickens since they are free range all day. We'd have to put one of them up and let the others out. It would be a big pain.

The other night she and I were sitting on the couch watching tv while Daddy Google Earthed his hunting spots and a commercial came on with some cute little puppies. Grace says, "Why are puppies so cute. I wish I could have a puppy."

I said, "I know Grace someday you'll have a puppy."

Grace said,"Hey, wait a minute, I have a good idea. How about if we eat the chickens and then we can have a puppy. That's a good idea."

"Well, that is an idea," I said. "Go tell Daddy your idea."

She did. We still have chickens and we still do NOT have a puppy.

The girl is thinkin' though.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Grace, You Can't Pray to Santa Claus


Last night was my night to put Grace to bed, Bryon and I take turns. We had gotten some our Christmas decorations out (yes I know it's way too early but we are having a party Saturday night and Bryon's family is coming for Thanksgiving so there you go). Grace was excited to put her little tree in her room and redecorate it. I had left all the decorations on it from last year so she asked for help taking them off so she could put them all back on again.

Christmas was heavy on her mind and after we finished reading her books and were rocking for a few minutes she said she wanted to pray.

I said, "Okay, say your prayers."
Grace said, "No you."
I said, "Okay, now I lay me..."
"No, to Santa Claus" she said.
"What?"
"I want to pray to Santa Claus" she said.
"No Grace, you can't pray to Santa Claus."
"Why not?" she asked?
"Because Jesus gets very angry if we pray to Santa Claus. We can pray about Santa Claus or for Santa Claus, that he stays healthy and happy and safe. But we can not pray to Santa Claus"
"Okay, okay." she said.

I put her into bed and tucked her in and as I was leaving the room she said,
"I'm just going to think about Santa Claus, Mama."
"That would be swell Grace. Goodnight".
"Goodnight," she said "don't let the bed bugs bite."

Amen sister.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Quiche!

I had been wanting to try making a quiche ever since the chickens started laying eggs but for some reason hadn't gotten around to it. I thought it was going to be hard I guess. I got home a little early tonight and Bryon was at a work party so tonight was the night. It's too hard to make on weeknights because it takes an hour to bake but Grace helped and we made it tonight. I cut the mushrooms up into tiny, tiny pieces so she wouldn't really recognize them and she ate it up! We both did. It was delicious. I opened up a can of organic tomato soup and added a little of the 1/2 and 1/2 to it and some croutons on top for each of us and we had a nice little gourmet feast tonight! I think it's going to have to become a regular meal :)
Here it is if you want to try it. I found the recipe on Allrecipes.com and substituted sausage for bacon and added mushrooms. I just used one of the finely shredded mixed cheddar cheese bags.
YUUUUMMMMMYYYYYY! It will probably be breakfast in the morning too!
YUMMY QUICHE
INGREDIENTS (Nutrition)


8 ounces bacon ( I used about 3/4 pound of sausage instead)
1 (4 oz) can mushrooms, finely diced and drained
2 (9 inch) unbaked 9 inch pie crust
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup diced onion (I didn't use the onions)
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers, drained


DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place bacon and or sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

Place crust in a 9 inch glass pie plate (I used the kind with an aluminum pan). Sprinkle bacon/sausage inside of crust. In a small bowl, combine Cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, mushrooms and flour. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, cream, onion and green chiles. Add cheese mixture; stir well. Pour mixture into pie crusts evenly.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes (I covered it with foil the last 10 minutes so the crust wouldn't burn), until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

This was supposed to make one quiche but I used more than 8 oz of sausage so it made two perfectly yummy ones!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now What? A Brave New World?



Well my guy and girl didn't win last night. I wasn't really surprised but I was dissappointed.  Somehow, someway I really didn't think the country would vote Obama into power. They did. My friends did, some of my family did and many, many others did.

I was more interested and aware of this campaign and the potential consequences than any other past election. I don't know if that is because I'm older now and have a family or if I was just caught up in all the hullabaloo but I felt compelled and patriotic leading up to this election.

I am proud that the country has hopefully finally put to rest any future racial discrimination with this choice. I just don't know that Obama the man himself was the best man to do it. Time will tell.

I hope to maintain my enthusiasm for this country and to find a way to stay involved, informed and active in the months and years to come and further crystalize my opinions, values and beliefs so in four years I'll be ready to fight the good fight again, whichever side best supports our family and country.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fall Girl

Last week Grace had a throw down fit because I wouldn't go outside and rack the twelve leaves that had fallen so she could jump into them. Tonight we got home early enough that I let her go outside to play for a while. There were A LOT more leaves so I told her she could go get the little rake we use in in the chicken house and rake some leaves up to jump in while I worked inside.
She worked hard raking little leaf piles up and had a great time jumping and rolling in them.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A No Gift Christmas? Well, Almost...

Christmas 2007


This year our family is going to implement a "no gift giving Christmas". We are not giving gifts to our friends. We are not giving gifts to our friend's kids. We are not giving gifts to our parents, spouses, co-workers or mailmen. The only one getting gifts this year in our family is Grace. Okay and probably one cousin, we just can't get EVERYONE on board.



Of course this is a crazy experiment and one that Mom (I know you are reading this) wasn't the most excited about but seriously, we are 40 years old now, we buy what we want and need already and it's time to stop trading money :) Every year it gets harder and harder because we all have more and more. Sure occasionally one of us will come up with a perfectly clever and personal gift but really we just need to spend more time together. Sooooo....this is the year to do it.



It won't be as easy as it sounds because I've already thought of some things I could MAKE for a few people from materials I already have, but that would defeat the purpose really because then they would feel the need to reciprocate and it would just never, ever end.



I Googled "no gift giving Christmas" and found one link on the history of the tradition of gift giving that was sort of interesting http://www.essortment.com/all/christmaschrist_rijq.htm



We are not exactly planning to skip Christmas, just the crazy and expensive shopping trips for various novelty gewgaws no one really wants or needs.



We spent almost $2,000 on Christmas last year for family and friends. We just have to stop the madness! Sorry, Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy, you'll just have to struggle along without us this year.



Last year, by Christmas morning we had to beg Grace to open the rest of her presents. She didn't want to do it anymore. It was nuts.



So PAAAAALLLLLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSEEEE don't get me a gift, because then I'll have to go into my whole tirade (see above) about why we are not giving gifts this year.



This year we'll be eating, going to church, playing games and watching movies for Christmas with my family.



Ho, ho, ho.

She's poison Garrett!



We had a great birthday party for Grace on Saturday. She had six friends from her preschool and four other kid friends plus family. She was so excited to have her friends at her house. They played outside on the swingset, jumped on the trampoline, admired the pigs and chased chickens. It was a good day.


Grace got some cute clothes, several Barbies and lots of other funs stuff. She's really been enjoying her toys.


I didn't get to see it but Gary, Richard and Bryon got to see a glimpse of things to come. Garrett drug the bean bag out of the playroom and into to the game area upstairs to watch air hockey and was all sprawled out on it when Grace decided to jump on him. Garrett put his arm around Grace and cuddled up while little brother Boone was bouncing Tigger style over the two of them. Garrett was holding Grace's face really close to his with both of his hands and Cale hollers out,


"Don't do it Garrett, she's poison!"


I think Bryon, Richard and Gary about died laughing.


We are in so much trouble...

Sarah Palin Rally



As I was leaving the parking lot last Thursday morning after dropping off Grace at daycare and heading to Lawrence County for the day, I heard on the radio that there was going to be a rally for Sarah Palin on Friday. I've never really been all that interested in politics until this year and I decided to cruise by the Republican Headquarters in Springfield to see what it was all about. There was a line of about 300 people already but it wasn't really too daunting so I joined the fray. It was cold. I didn't have a coat. I'm not even a really a Republican. What was I doing there?

As I was looking around I saw my Uncle, five or six folks from the front of the line. He'd been there since 4:15 am. I arrived at 8:20 am for the tickets that were to be given away at 9. They were only giving away a limited number of tickets and I had no idea how many but there I stood on a cold October morning waiting for mine.

I've voted Democrat every election since I turned 18 until the last election when I voted for Bush Jr. because I felt like he needed to finish the war in Iraq and not change horses midstream. I was the lone Democrat at many Thanksgiving dinners with my family. They tolerated me. I was young. I used to feel like the Democrats were for the little guy (i.e. me) but these days I don't think that is necessarily the case anymore.

This year I'll be voting for McCain and Palin. I think he has a crummy view on immigration but otherwise seems the most in line with the way our family rolls at this point in our lives. It should be an interesting next four years.

I finally got my 4 tickets, called my friend Dawn to go with me and gave the other two to my boss because Bryon didn't want to take off work to go. I already had the day off to prepare for Grace's birthday party.

After changing the time AND location, the rally was finally held at Bass Pro Shops parking lot on a cold, cold, cloudy Friday. I stood in that parking lot for 4 hours in the cold wondering the entire time why the heck I was there. Dawn skipped out after about an hour and a half but I was determined to see it through. I might never get another chance to see a Vice President in person again. THEY say there were somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people there. I have no idea. I just know it was crazy crowded but everyone dispersed quickly when it was over.

She looked great, was just a regular girl and was inspiring really. I was feeling supremely patriotic on the drive home as my fingers and toes finally unthawed.

If nothing else now I can say I've been there and done that...I just didn't buy the t-shirt.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Big 4!



Today is Grace's 4th Birthday! She has been VERY excited to be 4. Her two best girlfriends at school turned four earlier this month and now she is 4 too! Last night we made Pinkalicious cupcakes for her to take to school to share today. Pinkalicious is one of her favorite books and she has it memorized. She's taken it to school once to read to her class herself and today she took it again WITH pink cupcakes. She helped ice them last night and about every 10 seconds I had to remind her NOT to lick the icing knife. It was a struggle but we we made it through with no Grace slobber on the cupcakes (at least I'm pretty sure there wasn't).  I let her lick both knives when we were done.

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off to make her Cow Cake and clean the house before the big party on Saturday afternoon. There is a lot to do but I think this will be her best birthday ever because she REALLY knows what it's all about now! All her school and friend friends are coming and the family and we are ALL excited.

Bryon and I went in this morning with a candle lit cupcake and her gifts to wake her up. We got her a REAL pink guitar and a Barbie at her request. She like them both. She got to eat a pink cupcake for breakfast and for the first morning ever couldn't wait for me to get ready to take her to school so she could tell her friends and teachers she is 4!

It's good to be a kid...especially on your birthday.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One Busy Weekend and It's Not Over Yet

We have had one REALLY busy weekend. Bryon left at noon on Friday to go to the Eleven Point river for a guys fishing weekend. I wanted to take the day off to make up for working all day last Saturday but Grace had her St. Jude's Trike-A-Thon at school and was excited to participate again this year. The past 2 years she rode her Dora battery powered four wheeler but this year got to take her real bike (still with training wheels of course). She rode 37 laps around the parking lot and got her Trike License along with 6 stickers on her shirt. She was pretty proud and I was pretty impressed. I'm not sure I could have ridden that many laps at this point.

I went ahead into work for the ridiculously long Friday morning production meeting and then back to Marshfield to pick her up early from school. She has been asking to visit our workplaces so I figured this would be a good opportunity and the girl needed some clothes in a bad, starting to look homeless sort of way. We went to Bryon's work first and she performed her cheers on request for EVERYONE. She was really hamming it up! Everyone asked about her blonde hair and where it came from and we had to remind them Bryon did indeed have hair at one time and yes it was blonde :)

At my work she got rewarded for her performances with candy which was pretty much the start to a long weekend of junkfood and eating out. We ate lunch at McDonalds and I let her play in the indoor play place for a few minutes. Next it was off shopping for shirts, shoes and socks. All her little shirts are riding up her belly so I was on a mission. We went to Kohls, Gordmans, ToysRUs, Shoe Carnival, Pennys, Sears, Children's Place, Striderite and Steve & Barry's before there was just no more talking her into trying ANYTHING on!

The icing on the Grace Cake for the day was the grand finale...her friend Mattie's 4th birthday party at Chuck E Cheeses. Somehow we had successfully avoided Chuck E's for FOUR years but the streak was broken last night. She loved it. They ALL loved it. I, not so much but I took one for the team and she left with the everlasting memory of playing with her two best girlfriends at Chuck E Cheese's.

This morning we went to Freda's for breakfast because TODAY she had her last game of flag foot ball to cheer for the Cowboys in Marshfield. They got to play and cheer at the big high school stadium complete with halftime show and help from the Marshfield High Cheer Squad. She was pretty hot stuff. We got there two hours early because of miscommunication so we stopped to rent some movies and killed some time and of course money at Wal-Mart. This was the first time I let her pick out her own movies to rent at Movie Gallery and instead of picking some sweet little Strawberry Shortcake flick she picks out Batman vs. Dracula, the Justice League and Leroy and Stitch (yes I know it's Lilo, but I swear it said Leroy). I picked out Mr. Magorium's Wonder Imporium for her too. Her little friend Andrew at school is all about the Superhero's and she knows the main ones so I figured it was his influence that lead to the pics. Well let me tell you Batman vs. Dracula was horrible! I was folding clothes in the bedroom while she was watching it in there with me and I let her watch about 5 minutes of it before I was so horrified I popped it out. I kept asking her if she thought it was scary and she kept saying no, but it was AWFUL. It was bloody and creepy and I'm pretty sure I WILL have nightmares from it. Hopefully she's tougher than I am. After I popped it out she admitted it was pretty scary. We tried the Justice League next and it wasn't as bad but I'm just pretty sure those movies aren't intended for 4 year old girls. It lasted about 3 minutes and she asked to pop it out too. No problem.Those two are going back tomorrow. That Batman movie does NOT need to be in the kids section. We did end on a good note with Mr. Magorium. It was great. We watched the whole thing together. She was pretty happy girl sitting on the couch cuddled up watching a Saturday night movie together.

Tomorrow...oops it's already tomorrow, we are going to church, lunch and then back to church for the "Fall Party" which is church speak for the Halloween Party. She'll wear her chicken costume and kickoff the return of candy season.

Life has got to be pretty good for a four year old.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Smorgasbord

And then there were nine. TWO chickens got abducted and eaten last week. Of course both of them were active layers and not the two gimpy chickens that don't lay yet I continue to feed. I'm so disgusted. We got home after gymnastics last Tuesday night and I went down to feed the duck. I say DUCK as in singular because one of them vanished a few weeks ago so we only have one now. As I was walking to the pond I stomped across a pile of black and white feathers and then followed a trail of stragglers to the edge of the woods. Definately the Wyandotte.

I had decided to keep them cooped up the next day to discourage a binge but Bryon talked me out of it and I left them out again. Wednesday there was ANOTHER pile of feathers right outside the coop. Apparently the culprit had a taste for Wyandotte because the other one had vanished into a pile of black and white feathers as well.

My friends, it's dangerous in the country.

So NOW, I have 4 or 5 eggs a day which don't add up nearly as quickly as 8 or 9 a day. I'm pretty sure the two gimpy birds will never lay. I have started mixing up the cracked meal like corn we feed the pigs with water for the crossed beaked chicken. I think she can get more into her beak that way. She ate for 20 minutes this weekend one night while I shooed the other hens away from her. She finally walked away (and probably took a nap!) with what I can only assume was a full belly or gullet or whatever chickens have.

Grace hasn't been too concerned about the diminishing flock.

One of the Buff Orpingtons has gotten all broody and tries to hatch the eggs every day. She sits in there constantly on the eggs and gets all upset when I scoop then out from under her. I'm thinking maybe I should just get a rooster and let them hatch out to replenish the flock and maybe the rooster would be able to protect them a little more too during the day. Of course winter is probably not the best time to hatch that plan (pun intended). Maybe I'll just make it through to spring and THEN get a rooster. I really wanted to wait until I could have a pure flock since I have 5 different breeds of birds now instead of six, at this rate that won't be long anyway.

Oh the perils of farm life...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grace and Olivia


Cheerleading

Grace has been going to a mini cheerleading class at gymnastics on Friday nights and it culminated today in getting to cheer at the MFL (Marshfield Football League's) flag football game today. Getting 4-7 year olds to cheer in any sort of coordinated fashion is like herding cats. I would have lasted about 45 seconds if I was in charge. Mercifully I wasn't. The girls had fun. I'm not even sure if our team (the Cowboys) won or not, but it wasn't from lack of enthusiastic cheerleaders rooting them on!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Farm Update

This has been a busy month with Bryon's Dad here visiting. We've enjoyed spending time with him and Grace has enjoyed getting to know her Grandpa Medley better. I think she's probably worn him out. Gary has taken over most of the farm chores while he's been here and starting tomorrow it's back to regular business around here.

He's given a lot of special attention to the crooked beaked Aracauana and she has followed him around the farm like a puppy. She's going to be lonely when he's gone. We lost a duck last week. We don't know what happened to it but the other duck quacks around looking for it. It's pretty sad. The chickens go down and visit it from time to time but I think it needs a friend. We missed the small animal swap meet this month and the last one is Oct. 25, the day of Grace's 4th birthday party so I'm not too hopeful about making it over there to get another duck.

The pigs are getting big and aggressive. They push and shove on Bryon and Gary when they go out to feed them. I've only fed them once by myself. They are getting kind of scary. I thought I was going to have to feed them this weekend while Bryon takes Gary home, but it looks like the Huggler Men are going to take care of them for me. I'm glad because I had decided I was just going to get a bucket to stand on and throw their food over the top of the kennel instead of going into it. Bryon says they rush him now for the food as soon as he gets to the door.

We haven't had any more 17 egg days. I'm pretty sure we must have just missed them, even though I just don't remember missing a day. Being out of my routine these past few weeks though I suppose I must have. We are regularly getting 7-9 eggs a day. We're eating some, giving some away and selling some from time to time. I feel sort of bad selling them to my friends. I hate asking them to pay for them, but when I do sell them it just helps pay for their feed and upkeep.

I finally caved in and let Bryon spray for ants last weekend. We had been overtaken in the house with ants in my kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. I tried to fight them off but I was NOT winning the battle. Not a very green choice, but I was sick of the fight.

This weekend is going to be busy since I decided not to go to Nebraska with the boys. Grace and I have a lot to do. I'm taking Friday off and taking Grace to school then she has cheerleading practice Friday night. They are going to get to cheer at the K-2nd Flag Football Games at the Jr. High. They'll only have three games to go to and Grace will only be able to make it to 2 of them, but it should be entertaining. Don't worry, I plan to take pictures and some video if I can.

Sunday afternoon she has a birthday party to go to at McDonalds. I've started planning her Cow Party and trying to get the invitations made out. I didn't make them this year. I just gave up and found a farm theme and bought them. I did find her a cow mylar balloon and plan to make a cow cake. I asked her tonight on the way home what she wanted for presents for her birthday and she said a Barbie and a pink guitar. Seems reasonable enough. I'm going to try to find her guitar. I've had mine out while Gary was here and I think that's why she wants one. I can't play it but I'm hoping she and I can take lessons someday. With any luck she'll have some of Gary's musical ability because she's SOL with me and Bryon :)

Do You Like My Pretty Hair?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

11 Chickens = 17 Eggs ??? Hmmmm...

Yesterday was insane and I had to work really late. I got home about 8:45 pm and Bryon had just shut the chicken's up in their coop and was heading into the house. Grace and I usually collect the eggs as soon as we get home (about 5 pm) but last night they waited because they wanted me to collect them. They finally gave up and Bryon took them in the house. They waited so long because YESTERDAY there were 17 eggs!

Now we only have 11 chickens and I hadn't missed any from the day before so HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? Holy cow that was a lot of eggs! I thought they could only lay one egg a day so now I'm baffled. The only thing I can think is that some of them layed after I picked them up the day before and ALL the rest layed the next day again. I guess I'm going to have to look at night after they go to roost too now.

Those are some happy chickens.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hey Fans, Get Up!


I took Grace to her first cheerleading class last Friday night. Her gymnastics school is offering a mini cheerleading class for ages 4-7 years old and Grace is forever going around making up little cheers so I knew she'd like it. I'm not sure where she's come up with that particular obsession other than the fact that Bryon was pumping her little fist and yelling "Go Big Red" from the moment she emerged from the womb.

I, obviously, was NOT a cheerleader. I did have a brief moment of peer pressure weakness in my quest for popularity in the 8th grade when Susan Mumford and I tried out for the Junior High Cheerleading Squad. Neither of us really had much hope. I, at least, was horrible and awkwardly uncoordinated and certainly NOT cheerleader cute. We didn't' make it. It was not the life crushing blow you would think though, in fact, it was sort of a relief. I don't think I could have maintained the required level of peppiness.

Grace watches a lot of Max and Ruby and I did see one episode where they were Bunny Cheerleaders. Grace gets her red and white Huskers pom poms and goes around the house shaking them low and then high saying "Gooooooo team!"

Of course she has also mentioned several times she wants to be a football player.

I'm hoping the cheerleading sticks. I'd rather defend her choice to be a cheerleader as opposed to a female on the football team. Of course she's her own little person already so we'll see what develops.

The class was crazy. There were about 6 little girls and it was like herding cats. They each have the attention span of gnats and it's in the GYMNASTICS gym full of trampolines and fun stuff so of course they wanted to do EVERYTHING. It stayed out there to watch and listen (I usually go upstairs and watch through the windows because Grace comes out to kiss me, get a drink, greet me eight thousand times if I stay within site). This time though I wanted to see if it was going to be a worthwhile class. Rachel (the adult teacher) had three junior high cheerleaders helping her so there was almost one teacher per child but it was still pretty funny. Grace has my skills at group activities so far (ie four steps behind the aerobics instructor and the rest of the class) but she was doing pretty well considering all the distractions.

Their cheer was "Hey Fans, Get up, Get up! Hey Fans, Get Up!" She won't let me help her because I "don't do it right".

Alas, I'm still not a cheerleader. Oh well, guess I can be the Mom of a cheerleader now :)

I Almost 16

Yesterday morning as I was driving Grace to school she said,

"Mama someday when I'm big I'm going to sit there, (points to my driver's seat) and you can sit there (points to the passenger seat)"
"Yes, someday when you get big you can drive," I said "But you have to be 16 years old first and grow big and tall so you can reach the pedals and see out the windows"
"So I can watch the road." she said.
"That's right" I said.
"I almost 16" she said.
"You are almost 4" I said.
"Yes, but I getting closer" she said.
"Yes you are" I said.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Oh Honey!

I robbed the bees Saturday afternoon. I really didn't expect much. I had checked on them in the spring and there didn't seem to be all that many bees. I had worried that the queen was probably dead and even made a call to see if I could get one shipped asap. They wouldn't ship one until May 5. By that time, the bees would either be going strong or dead so I decided to just wait it out. I checked on them in June and expected they would be out of room if they were still alive. I had driven by them several times in the field and saw bees flying around but it's impossible to know what's going on INSIDE there without looking. The more I look, the worse they do so I just moved along and let them be.
In June, I did go out to put another super on just in case they needed it. They didn't. They hadn't even drawn out the comb on the first super I had put on in the spring. What the heck were they doing all day? I figured they were probably done for but Saturday when I finally went out to make another check they had one whole super full of honey for me and another super with a few frames filled up and there were A LOT of BEES! Oh my gosh were there a lot of bees. I get pretty anxious when there are THAT MANY BEES flying around me and angry. I was very, very thankful for my suit and my smoker. I set the super full of honey aside and took frame after frame out brushing off the bees with my bee brush. I finally got most of them off and there were probably a thousand bees flying around and they were NOT happy. I can't believe I didn't get stung. I thought once I might have gotten stung in the back but it was just a brief pinch so maybe it was a glancing blow but nothing lasting.
I plopped the heavy super on the tailgate and drove back to the house. A few lingering bees crawled up out of the frames and I took it into the house dripping all the way. Pooh could have easily found his way to my kitchen Saturday.
I dug out my home made extractor that I found the plans for on the internet years ago and cleaned it up in preparation for the job ahead.
It took a while to cut out all the frames and stuff them into the top bucket. I usually use a paint strainer bag and had to make a trip into town to Wal-Mart for one. Of course they didn't have one so I figured I could make due with cheese cloth. The cheese cloth was not a very good substitute. I had to strain it twice to get it really clear. I let it set until today and I spent about three hours straining it and bottling it up. I got just over 2 gallons of honey off that one super. I took the rest of the comb and put it all back together with MORE cheesecloth layers this time so I think I'll get a few more jars if I let it sit and drain a few more days. Hopefully I won't have to strain it twice this time. This method tears up my comb but since I only want one bee hive I figure it's okay.
The bees still have two more supers of honey to get through the winter so we'll see what next year brings.
Sweet success!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Consumed





I have been completely consumed with the Twilight Series of books. My friend Dawn and her Mom and daughter all read it and passed it along to me last week. I read the first one Twilight in about 13 hours, 9 hours were solid reading. It was addictive. I'm glad I found it now and not when the first book came out. I hate waiting on authors to publish books! It's a vampire/werewolf series, a genre I haven't read in a long time. It was easy to fall back into love with the topic. I can barely wait for lunch or bedtime so I can read more! I'm a serial reader so I love a good series, that way it's almost like the book never ends.

I've discovered that renting television series' by the season is equally as satisfying. No commercials, instant gratification. It's all good baby. Lost was the BEST that way. I've been renting Saving Grace too and it's a great series as well. A little dark, but lots of possibilities for redemption.

Awww mindless entertainment. You gotta love that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eggsplosion!

Just as I was plotting to prevent my chickens from laying eggs in the woods, four more chickens started laying eggs this weekend. We got 9 eggs over the weekend. Five one day and four more the next. Of course, all that excitement wasn't without tragedy, one of the Rhode Island Reds has vanished. It happened either Thursday or Friday. Bryon noticed it looked like there were only eleven (they are hard to count!) and then we finally confirmed it when they roosted. Definately eleven now. I was out of town all weekend with my friend Dawn when he called to tell me he thought the skinny Aracauna had laid a light pink egg and to tell me at least one and maybe two chickens were missing. Thankfully it was only one.

I had decided I was going to keep them cooped up a few days this week before I left to try to find out if more of them were infact laying eggs around the woods somewhere. Turns out they may have been because our friend Aaron stepped on an egg out by the camper. They did decide the hen house was a better place though because that was the only one we have found outside so far. Today, I kept them cooped up until I got home at 5 pm. They were NOT happy about that and were complaining loudly this morning. They sure were happy to get out and chase those grasshoppers tonight and when I looked in the hen house I had FIVE more eggs.

We had so many eggs I took out the little basket to carry them in. Yes, I had all my eggs in one basket. I see that folly in that now, but it does make them easier to carry.

It boggles me WHY they won't lay in the nesting boxes. I even had fake eggs in there already so they'd get the hint. I took them out finally last night trying some reverse chicken psychology. It didn't work. Now all five of them are laying on the hen house floor UNDER the boxes. I can't figure them out.

We mowed tonight (things were getting pretty whooly out here) and Bryon killed a copperhead going into the barn right where Grace had just been playing with her sidewalk chalk while we mowed. Yuck. Bryon showed her the snake so she would know what to avoid. I hope it works. We've only killed about one a year out here which is pretty amazing really I suppose. I just don't like them at all.

While I was mowing I came across what was left of my vanished chicken. A couple of piles of feathers right out in the open in the back yard. Now I don't know what got her. We have seen a bobcat out there once, sneaking out of the edge of the woods AND we've seen a big hawk swoop down and eat a bird from our feeder so there are several possibilities. A dog could have gotten her too. It makes me hesitant to let them out while I'm gone. Once they are out there's no herding them back into the coop until they roost at night.

I don't know what do do about them. I suppose I'll just keep letting them out and if another one gets picked off that will make it easier to justify leaving them cooped up until I get home at night. I have to say with just one less chicken in the hen house, they DO have more room to roost. Maybe it was meant to be.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where does time go?

I'm not sure what the heck we did this past week but it sure went by fast. So much for my idea that I might have two chickens laying. I took the waterer out of the chicken house and set it outside in the chicken yard because the chickens seem to prefer to drink outside every chance they get. I thought maybe that would help keep their waterer cleaner too. My layer boycotted and didn't lay an egg  for two days. She had been nesting behind the waterer. Here I thought I was being all thoughful and obviously she didn't appreciate it. I put the waterer back in the appointed spot. Saturday morning I went out and she was sitting on the nest working up an egg so I left her alone to tend to the rabbits. Next thing I know she's strutting around the chicken house cackling up a storm and announcing her egg. Yep, a nice brown one. She's layed every day since I moved the waterer back into the house. Go figure.

I still don't know what's up with the other chickens. I hope they aren't just laying eggs all around the farm somewhere. That's going to make me REALLY mad! I guess the only way to know would be to coop them up for a few days, but I hate to do that. I guess I'll give them another week or so then the detective work is going to have to get more serious. I want those eggs!

Saturday afternoon we tried to go out and work on the goat fence but it was hot and we were all cranky (okay, mostly I was cranky) so we gave up pretty quickly. Basically all I was doing anyway was trying to avoid poison ivy (hence the need for goats) and keep Grace from touching anything green. I don't know if she's going to be as prone to breaking out from poison ivy as I am. Bryon really doesn't have any sensitivity to it at all, but I don't want to find out the hard way.

You can imagine how easy it was to keep her from touching anything green.

Sunday we slept in (bad Christians) and went to town for a birthday party for our friend Savannah. She turned 9 and I had to rush into Target for Hannah Montana paraphenellia for her gift. Grace doesn't even know who Hannah Montana is except for the now TWO HM birthday parties she's been to this month. Grace tells me she wants a COW birthday party. I'm not sure what that is going to be. I kept thinking she'd change her mind but so far she's pretty fixated on the whole COW theme. I don't think Wilton makes a cake pan for that. Someone suggested we could do chocolate milk. Good idea. Of course ice cream is a given. I was thinking I could get out REALLY easy and just buy a whole bunch of those Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches and stick candles in them. After last year's school bus cake, I'm thinking that would be a breeze.

We had to make a real hit and run for the birthday party because we had tickets to the Springfield Cardinals Baseball game. Grace was really excited to go. Of course she had no idea what it was going to be but she was excited all the same. It was our CBCO sponsored event for the year. The Hugglers went with us. That stadium was really awesome. I have no idea what happened during the game because Grace was bouncing around like pinball screaming...LOOOOuuuiiiieeee....Feeetttcchhhh. Louie and Fetch were the two team mascots and Grace was intent on giving them both high fives. She did thanks to a helpful Daddy schleping her around the stadium hot on their heels.
We finally left during the eighth inning because her little dirty black toes HAD to have a bath before bed. The flip flops didn't stay on very much all night. We did all wear our red to support the home team.I t was a fun night. When we left they were way behind but apparently the next inning they got five runs! Holy cow, they were probably better off without us. They ended up winning in the 10th inning while we were all already home and tucked into bed. Some fans we are.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Baker's Dozen

I finally accumulated my first dozen eggs today...plus one. I don't know if I missed one yesterday (didn't see it) or if I got two today and another girl has started laying. The second egg was sort of hidden between the studs of the house, so I could have just missed it yesterday, but I'm hopeful it was new today because it was really speckled like the first egg I got. Why they won't use those nesting boxes is beyond me, but at least they are in the house.

Those chickens have really gotten bolder. They have pretty much covered every inch of the yard now and have started to venture up on our back deck. I can barely keep them out of the garage now either. All the world's a playground for them. And a toliet. Chickens poop a lot. This one was on our back deck yesterday nosing around. I'm pretty sure this is the Sexlink that's been laying.
I guess I'll probably know in the next day or so if another one has started to lay. The eggs will be piling up when they all kick in. Bring 'em on!

The humming birds are really wearing me slick now. They are eating a lot! I'm on my third 10 lb bag of sugar this summer. Of course, I did use some of it for canning, but most of it has gone to the birds. I noticed on my conservation calendar that they start migrating this time of the year and that feeder activity may pick up. Well they must have the same calendar, because there have been significantly more out there this week.

Bryon is out today clearing a path through our paintball woods with the brush hog for the electric fence to go up. Goats are next on the list! If we get the fence in we could get a couple of goats at the small animal swap meet this month. I don't know if we'll make it or not, but the swap meet goes through October so surely by then. Of course then it's winter, and that means a goat shelter too. Hmmm, animals sure are needy.

I still want to get a portable chicken pen built so I can raise some broilers. So many plans, so little daylight.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bounty!

We have finally lost the fight with the squash bugs. We fought valiantly. We dutifully sought out eggs hidden on every squash leaf and squished them. Well, most of them, then we manically smashed, squashed (no pun intended) and obilterated them in various stages of growth. We probably killed a thousand squash bugs this summer. Bryon went out tonight and picked what was vegetables were left on the vines and then pulled them up. There were so many squash bugs we don't even want to compost the vines. He took them up into the field to the dozer pile. Hopefully this winter sometime they will get burned up!
I hate those squash bugs.

I've frozen 6 bags of yellow squash, 3 bags of shredded zucchini and we'll start eating the spaghetti squash soon. They are really yummy sliced in half, baked and then eaten (the forked out flesh mixed with parmesan cheese and bacon bits). Mmmmmm. We'll be having that some this week probably. Our tomatoes are doing well, we have lots, but they just aren't turning red fast enough to can. They are coming in dribs and drabs.
I did make some zucchini relish this weekend.  We love it on brats and burgers and we were all out.

I didn't get my green bean seeds this past weekend because it was just too dang hot to go out to Bakers. It's not fit for man or beast out there right now. Each day I think, Man this is the hottest day ever, then it just gets hotter. I checked online and the shipping is only $3.00. It would cost more than that in gas to drive over there anyway...tomorrow I'm going to order them online and just wait for USPS to deliver them to my mailbox.

Life is good in the country.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Green Beans



I hate green vegetables. Yes, I see the irony in wanting to raise a garden without any green vegetables. Bryon likes green veggies and Grace will eat anything but a green bean. For two weeks in a row we bought green beans for Bryon at the farmers market in Marshfield and I cooked them up for him along with some of our new potatoes from the garden (after Mom showed me how). I guess I should have paid more attention all those years Mom was cooking, canning and gardening as I was growing up because now I just keep learning the hard way. Of course, that is, I've realized after 40 years, my nature. Somewhere along the line, I've developed an independence that some might misconstrue as stubbornness. Either way the results are the same. Some one tells me something or shows me and I do it my own way until it's obvious that isn't working and then consult other "authorities" books, co-workers, strangers, basically anyone but my spouse or family.

Riding my wave of my carrot canning success, I decided I'd try to can some green beans for Bryon. I bought $12 of green beans at the farmers market the day I killed the chickens and took them home. That was about four Wal-Mart sacks of green beans by the way. Of course I was sick that night so the beans stayed in the crisper until the next day. I finally started getting all my stuff together on Saturday to get down to the business of canning them and Bryon started to snap them when he goes, "Hmmm". "What hmmm?" I asked. "Well these aren't the right kind of green bean" he said. "Excuse me? What do you mean they aren't the right kind of green bean? They are green and a bean, what's wrong with them?" I asked starting to get a little testy.

"Well my Mom always called these shell beans, see this string? They shouldn't have that and see these big beans inside, well those aren't going to be any good to can. They just aren't the right kind" he said.

Cricket chirping silence here.

"Fine" I said, "I'll call Mom." I called. They weren't the right kind. How the crap was I, a non-green bean eater, supposed to know there are different kinds. I told him to feed them to the pigs. He did. The pigs wouldn't eat them either. They are now slowly composting in a big pile. Maybe the chickens will eat them.

I feel like I was tricked by the nice farmer's market lady. She probably saw an easy target and an opportunity to foist off her lame old green beans on me. I had even told her I was going to can them. Fool me once...

Tomorrow I'm going to go to Bakers Seed in Mansfield and get my own seed and grow my own dang green beans. Ha!

Take that farmer market green bean lady.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Garden Bunnies


Bryon found these sweet little bunnies in our raised beds. They had to have been born there, because they could never have jumped into those two foot high beds by themselves yet. The garden isn't any worse for them but they did get relocated to lower ground. We had six rabbits in our front lawn the other morning when I left for work. God only knows what was going on in the back yard (or at night for that matter). I think there must be a bunnie love in going on.

Brownies


I made homemade brownies today from my Mom's Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook (1961). I haven't made homemade brownies since I left home. I've always just bought the mixes and added the eggs and oil. Well, truely, it's no big deal but I had forgotten how easy it was. I'm not buying another mix! Granted, those mixes are cheap, but I like making them and they tasted great. I'm taking them to the last night of bible school tonight and the All Church Picnic. That is if there are any left :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eggs!!


I'm so excited! I just went out to change the chicken's water in the coop and just as I lifted out the waterer I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. EGGS!!!! Two beautiful little brown eggs. The first ones. I don't know which girls were the layers, but I enthusiastically thanked them all. Very, very cool. They are 17 weeks today. The books say they'll lay between 18 and 20 weeks. Obviously mine are highly advanced :)

I hope this is the beginning of many, many eggs. Of course, the did NOT use the nesting box, just on the floor of the coop despite my decoy eggs I've had in the boxes for months. I cleaned out all three nesting boxes and put in fresh bedding and strategically placed the eggs dead center and in eye shot so they'd get the hint. We'll see if the do. At least I know where to look tomorrow!

Farm out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Castrated

Well after seeking the advice of two farmers, the internet and two books, Bryon castrated our pigs yesterday afternoon. I knew it was probably more than the three of us could manage alone. Those little pigs are fast and STRONG. I didn't think I could hold them down successfully alone, so he called Chris and the boys over to help. Things went pretty well and he got them both successfully castrated.

Bryon had helped our friend Buddy castrate some calves years ago, but he was the holder/helper then. This was his first time as the doer of the deed. He did great. I supervised and video taped it. Grace got a little worried about all the squealing so Tammy took her up to visit the rabbits. Tammy said she asked about 25 questions between the pig pen and the rabbit hutch. She's good now.

Pigs seem to be doing well so far. We bought some Wonder Blue stuff to spray on the wounds to help them heal and keep the flies off them.

It was a big weekend.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Old MacDonald Had A Farm


Pigs, pigs, glorious pigs! We got up at 5:30 am this morning to head to the Small Animal Swap Meet in Fordland. Folks get out there before the crack of dawn wearing headlamps to set up for the sale. This was my third time out there. It's the last Sat. of every month, April through October. Bryon had gone out with me once before but this is the first time I got to bring anything home! It was exciting!

We were primarily scoping out pigs, but also bunnies for Grace. Well there were world a plenty of bunnies of all kinds, sizes and shapes but only a few pigs. We got there about 7 am and the first pigs we saw were $25 each. Lynsey had only paid $12 each for hers so we decided to wait and see what else there was. The next truck had pigs for $50 each. Bryon thought they meant for the whole lot (about 6) but no it was $50 each. Those folks were proud of their pigs! Next an Amish guy came with a whole trailer full of pigs and I followed him to his parking spot and he wanted $30 each for his small ones. I tried to bargin with him but he stuck to the $30 each so I walked away and we kept searching. Then another Amish guy had two little pigs for $15 each but one had a rupture and the other was pretty poor looking. They were really dirty (I know, pigs are dirty) but they just didn't look very healthy and they had sores on their ears from being chewed on. Finally we went back to the first truck and they only had two left. He sold them to us for $20 each. They were a little bigger so we figured they had at least a bag of feed each in them already ($12 each for a 50 lb bag of feed). We took them and loaded them up in the dog crate in the back of the truck.

Grace had spotted the bunnies she wanted so we got them and loaded them into the cat carrier. Bryon had his heart set on a couple of mallard ducks for the pond so he bought a little carrier ($15) and two $2 mallards. He thinks he got a boy and a girl duck. We'll see if they even make it through the night. We have a lot of owls, coyotes and raccoons. I don't even know where they are right now.

We don't know if the bunnies are boys or girls. We may be back at the swap meet in a few weeks selling bunnies ourselves!

One of the pigs almost got away as Bryon was trying to get them from the crate into the pen. Then the pigs immediately found the weakest point of our ramshackle pig pen and almost escaped again! So far they've been in there about 3 hours. Hopefully it will hold them or we might be hunting wild pig this fall. Now we know how that happens!

Grace is dying to play with the bunnies but I told her they need to rest and get used to their new home then we could play with them a little tonight after it cools down. It's been sooooo hot! Heat index of 100. It's not fit outside for man nor beast. I don't know how I managed not to get sick again, but so far so good.

It sure feels like a farm today :)

Butchering Chickens

Yesterday I took a vacation day to help Lynsey butcher her chickens for the farmer's market. She had 45 chickens. The most she's butchered by herself is about 20. She showed me how to do the first one and then I killed the next 35 by myself. I caught about half of them, stuffed them down into the killing cone bags, tied their feet with black electrical tape, hung them over a trash can, cut their throats so they could bleed out, hosed them off, dunked them into the scald pot and then dropped them into Lynsey's homemade whizbang plucker. That think is the bomb! It plucked them clean in about 20 seconds. I hardly had to pull of any of the feathers. Lynsey eviscerated them, cleaned them up and tossed them in the cooler. She had all 45 spoken for at the market but we only got 36 killed. We started at 7 am and had to take about a 40 minute break to pickup her son at daycare. We finished bagging them and icing them in the cooler at 3:15. The farmer's market started at 3:30. It was a fast and furious day.

I was surprised that I really wasn't bothered by the whole thing at all. I actually enjoyed it. For one thing, they weren't my chickens so that helped I think and we did it all outside so it really wasn't smelly. It was, however, really, really hot. I went to the farmers market afterwards and helped her for a few minutes because she was just swarmed with buyers and lookey lews. I picked up Grace and by the time I got home I was sick from the heat. I went to bed at 5 pm and didn't get up again until 5 am this morning. It was a big but satisfying day. Now I'm going to make a pen and try to get about 25 cornish cross chicks to raise. You only need to raise them about 7 or 8 weeks until they are butcher size and we can butcher them and put them in the freezer for ourselves and our family. Then in the spring I might do it again. It's going to be a pain with out the plucker but we'll get it done. Her chickens taste so good! We are both feeding our chickens unmedicated feed and trying to keep them as organic as possible. None of mine have had any medications or anything yet so that's pretty satisfying.

My layers are finishing their last bag of starter/grower feed and will be beginning their layer rations probably in a couple of weeks. I hope in another month or so they'll start laying. I can't wait!