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. 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

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 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 

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 :)