Sunday, June 25, 2017

Farm Fresh: Wild Things

 We have a beautiful family of Eastern Blue Birds nesting in our bird houses. On Saturday I saw what looked at first like a toad hopping in the grass -- it was a little fledgling. I had my garden gloves on so I picked it up to look at it.  It was uninjured, but I was not sure where his nest was.  The mama and dad started swooping at me. They obviously were watching him.  Then I found another fledgling, this one with a compound leg fracture of some kind, badly twisted and bloody.
  We googled it and learned that the parents would continue to care for them, even though they were on the ground.  We put them by their tree. But then hubby saw one in the mouth of our cat and we decided not to leave things entirely to Mother Nature.
  We brought the healthy fledgling (rescued from the cat) inside.  He is in the brooder box. Big sister A is carefully hand feeding him chicken food.  We need to figure out which bird house contains his home. We did not see the injured one... maybe he was already eaten?
 In other news, a large and skin crawlingly scary black widow was spotted on our exterior window sill just outside the back door.  She was loading her egg sac with babies.  Soooo scary! But I was glad that we saw it and could get rid of it quickly.We watched her sticking her butt in the sac over and over from inside the house.  Then when daddy came home from work he used the spray to kill her and the babies. Uncle P happened to be there and lent a hand based on his experience with them.

Last but not least, I thank my 5 rodent wranglers for being such good hunters. This is the biggest kill I have seen them have...  A young wild rabbit.  I would be horrified if they bothered my farm rabbits. But these wild ones will eat my garden and I have to say that it is for the best. I see them killing at least 2-3 rodents a week. I believe they kill a lot more than those I see. This gal in particular, Sapphire, is the most feral and seems to be a skilled hunter.  Luckily I have an excellent zoom on my camera or I would not have been able to take any of these photos.

Family Fun: Father's Day and Art Projects

Breakfast in bed (crepes and peaches) for daddy on Father's Day. The kids and I made cards and had some "useful" presents for him.
Daddy has been working in the yard, "clearing the Amazon" we call it, getting the huge pile of logs and brush chipped or chopped. So he needed a bigger water bottle and some popsicles to keep him cool.

Big sister A made this apron as her sewing club project for June. She and little sis were just about to start making some whole wheat pumpkin cookies.
I have  been updating a patio set that some friends gave us when they moved away.  I was not sure what to do with the glass top table. I don't like it much and would like to have hubby make a nice wood top for it at some point. A brilliant friend suggested that I have the kiddos paint the underside and then spray paint it the same color as I am doing the chairs.

 That way their designs come through the top.
Some of big sister A's summer artwork:

My Dash: Missionaries over for dinner

We recently had the missionaries over for dinner. They taught a great lesson about the 5 parts of a testimony. I try to have them over about once a month. I know that they always bring a good spirit into our home and especially are excellent examples for my kiddos. I am glad that my parents have always been very enthusiastic about missionary work and invited the missionaries to our home regularly. I remember having the missionaries over when I was a little girl too. They shared the plan of salvation lesson with us and some church videos. That is also how I remember hearing my parents' conversion story for the first time, over dinner with the missionaries. I think that it helped build my testimony and encouraged me to want to be a missionary when I grew-up. We had one missionary from France and I was so interested to hear what things were like there and to learn more French words. (I started studying French in fourth grade because dad said that he would take me there when I learned to speak it fluently).  I remember sitting around that huge heavy dining room table that belonged to my ancestors and telling people about the button in the side that was used to call the servants.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Family Fun: Cousins sleepover and canoeing at the Nature Center

The Activity Day girls and Cub Scouts had a joint activity on the Lake this weekend.  They invited the whole family to join in the boating fun. 


 We also celebrated the last day of school by inviting the cousins over for a sleepover.
 They were pretending the water turned them into zombies. Little sister L was running for her life.

Farm Fresh:Garden updates are long overdue

The kids often find me in the garden when they wake-up. Here is everyone in the jammies picking peas.
 Corn is doing well now that we are having more sunshine and less rain.  I just planted the cucumbers in there with it.
 The cabbages and cauliflower grew pretty well.  I harvested some nice little heads 2 weeks ago.
 Then with the warmth and sunshine the bugs surged out to start attacking them.  I harvested the last of it and put the plants in the compost bin.
 The strawberries peaked several weeks ago now, around the middle to end of May the kids were bringing bowls of them in every day.

 We also discovered a fully grown (a little too tall) sweet cherry tree in the woods.  I am going to see if hubby can use his chainsaw skills to open a space around it so it can stay healthy.  It is amazing how much it produced even in competition with thorny brush and an enormous old oak tree.  We harvested about a quart off the lowest branches (those we could reach and pull down while standing on a stool).

My Dash: Healthy Living

Thinking of my dad for Father's Day... I was thinking today of how when we were barely waist high to him my brother P and I would chase him around the kitchen saying "cheap cheap" and opening our mouths like birds. He would be taking a few spoonfuls of frozen yogurt directly from the carton as a treat and dole some out to us. It was always frozen yogurt. My dad has eaten healthy food as long as I can remember. The definition of "health foods" has changed some over the years, but whatever it is he tries to incorporate it: quinoa, brown rice, lots of veggies, whole grain bread and snacks.  We often had homemade bread and always whole wheat. We never had chips or soda. No fried foods and very few junk foods. He would always treat himself to one cookie when mom made the homemade toll house recipe. I remember that we kids made fun of him for being soooo healthy until in fourth grade I read an article in my "Weekly Reader" about the dangers of cholesterol. I came home that day and announced that I was going to eat like dad. No more cookies or treats at church activities, no more little bag of potato chips at school.  I kept on that regimen until I went to France my junior year of high school.  Then I learned about good fats and another kind of moderation in eating.

My dad also has always had a weight room in the basement of our/his house. I remember waking up on Saturday morning to go down and watch cartoons.  He would be there lifting weights or riding his exercise bike. He showed us how to lift weights too and encouraged us to exercise. He challenged me to do 10 pull-ups and see how many sit-ups I could do. I remember us racing laps around the outside of the house. My brother P did Little League and while we were playing outside one evening dad accidentally hit the ball right into my cheek. When I started swimming on the team in middle school and high school he came to many of my meets to cheer for me. I felt like he was proud of me for my efforts, but no pressure or stress like some other kids had from their parents.  I realize now how lucky we are to have always had such a health conscious example all our lives.  I think we (siblings/kids) still all work-out regularly and like to exercise. We also generally try to eat as healthy as we can given varying life circumstances (like our spouses' preferences :). Thanks Dad!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Farm Fresh: Mama Hens

This week we had a small farm miracle. Our hen hatched her own chicks! Big sister A came racing in the house one morning, "Moooooom!!! There is a CHICK in the hen house! A chick!" Of course we have had lots of chicks, more than a hundred, arrive in the mail, but this one oh my! This is our very special first homegrown chick. Huey (mama hen) managed to stay on the eggs for another two days until the second chick hatched, but then abandoned the egg sitting in favor of chick rearing. She is showing them how to scratch and drink from the waterer, making lots of cute little noises that I have not heard my hens make before.  I tried to help the chicks back into the house last night and she furiously pecked my boot ( I was using it to fend off her attack).  In the end we just let her keep them wherever she wants to keep them. As we have with this whole process, we are trusting the mama hen's instincts to do what is best for her chicks.
 Meanwhile, poor Hero (black and white hen) has been sitting faithfully for more than 3 weeks, longer than the other mama hen.  Still no babies for her. I hope she can hatch some of her own. Aflac in the back there, is the most conscientious setter of the 3. I am quite sure that she will also hatch several chicks or ducks, she has both under her, in about 10 days.

 I decided that the Guinea Fowl are big enough to live outside and so they moved in with the turkeys this morning. They are huddled in the corner - very nervous. I am okay with that.  Guineas are supposed to be bullies among poultry so I am glad that they are not picking on the turkey poults. I am still inclined to say turkeys are my favorite poultry.  They are so friendly - climbed up to perch on me while I was watching the guineas settle in. If only they were prolific egg layers, then they would be perfect.
The guineas are the opposite of turkeys. We have tried to hold them and tame them, but they are flighty and wild.
 I am also trying to tame the geese. They are much less wild than the ducks and let me pet them while they are drinking or eating. I wish I had time to train them to come sit on my lap. We are waiting to see how they pair up before we sell or butcher any of them.  I was starting to let them free range in the yard last week, but a hawk killed one on Thursday evening. We are keeping them in for 5 days to make sure that the hawks return to other hunting ground. Soon they will be big enough to defend themselves, I hope.