While We’re Waiting

While we’re waiting for Ed to figure out that washtub bass, I thought I would fill you in on our last year, and share some plans for upcoming posts.

Last August, we took our first ever family vacation. We went to Georgia to visit my dad, then to Charleston SC so Chicken Girl could see the ocean. From there we went to Greenville SC to visit Ed’s daughter, and on to North Carolina to visit Cherokee and see where Ed’s grandparents lived when he was a boy.  We put 2600 miles on my car and made some great memories. There will be more about that in later posts.

While we were gone, James was supposed to stay here and take care of the critters.  Well, that didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped.  To make a long, sad, story short, James was not able to fight his Meth addiction and surrendered his probation. The judge gave him nine years.  The blessing in that is that he is clean and sober.  We pray that this time he gets the tools (and the desire) he needs to stay that way.

In the meanwhile, Bam Bam’s life kind of fell apart too, and he is staying with us again, along with his two small dogs, Rex and Gracie. They have been with us since December. It’s been nice to have him home again, and he is a big help. The little dogs provide a lot of “entertainment” although the cats are less than impressed.

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Bam Bam with Rex (black) and Gracie (white)

The big dogs are doing ok. Some days, Libby really shows her age, but I think we’ve stopped her digging out. Meeko still climbs out, on occasion, comes to the back door and barks! I think he wants to play with the little dogs, who aren’t terribly sure that’s a good idea.

On a positive note, we have finished homeschooling and Chicken Girl graduated on June 3rd. She is now taking an online Voice Over class, since she wants to be a voice over artist.

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Chicken Girl at her graduation party

As for the chickens, with the exception of one hen we lost to illness (we’re not sure what), they are all doing fine. We get between one and two dozen eggs a week, which is more than enough for us.  We are working on rebuilding the coop (again), as well as some new chicken tractors.

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Sunny about ready to fly the coop!

This spring has been an exciting time with the bees. Currently we have four hives. One we bought as a nuc, two from a hive we split, and one we took from an old house. I know that Ed will want to tell you all about that, but I will say I have finally put on the bee suit and started helping him. Capturing that wild hive was amazing!

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The wild hive was behind this wall!

Weather wise, things have just been strange.  With the exception of about a week of frigid sub zero temperatures, last winter was mild and dry. We didn’t get much spring. It just went from cold to hot, and still very dry.  We finally got some rain yesterday, but we need more.  The grass is dry and crunchy, but the plantain is doing beautifully!

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All the green is plantain. The brown is grass

We bought some fruit trees as well as some elderberry bushes planning to create fruit tree guilds. Well, we didn’t get as far into that as we would have liked, but we did get all the trees in the ground and they are hanging on.

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An apricot tree with mulch inside the drip line. We plan to plant understory plants here later.

Ed and Bam Bam built me a basement greenhouse, so I was able to get some seeds started. The only problem was that when they were ready to go outside, the weather was still too cool, and then the tiller broke down and Ed wasn’t able to get everything tilled.   We improvised and got everything I started planted. Some things didn’t make it, but most are, like the trees, hanging on.

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The greenhouse

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Tomato plants in the garden

After three years,  the blackberries are producing! Then a few days ago, I discovered wild raspberries growing behind the barn. This must just be a good year for berries. The mulberry trees in the fence rows are full of fruit in varying degrees of ripeness. The wild grapes have taken off too.

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Blackberries!

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Wild raspberries behind the barn

Well, I think that is pretty much everything. Hopefully, Ed will have that bass built next week, and he’ll post about that and all the other ways you can make your own musical instruments.

Connie

 

 

 

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Homestead Update

Since Ed updated you on the bees I thought I would  update you on the rest of the homestead.

A couple months ago, I found out I had an umbilical hernia. While we waited for the insurance company to decide if I could have surgery, and then get said surgery scheduled, my doctor gave me one order: No lifting and no straining. Great.

I had visions of spending another summer completely out of commission. I am now happy to report that I had the surgery, it was a success, and I have just been given the go ahead to gradually increase the work I am able to do. Yes, I am obeying the “gradually” rule because I really want to get better.

Since I didn’t know for sure if I would be able work outside this summer, I decided to not have a garden. For the first time in years, I did not buy any seeds or plants. I keep feeling like I’m forgetting something. I am going to use this summer to plan next year’s garden, and work on getting the ground ready.

My camera got knocked off the table with the lens open, and suffered some damage. Sometimes, it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Chicken Girl took these pictures, and had trouble getting consistent focus.

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Thyme growing inside the tire. If you look closely at the right side of  the picture, you might be able to make out the blue flowers on the Borage plant.

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Love in a Mist

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Wild grapes

The thyme survived the winter, and there are some volunteer sunflowers.  Last summer, I planted some Borage and Love in a Mist, but they just decided to come up now. Gotta love those unexpected blessings. I’ve found wild grapes growing in one of the fence rows, and some of the mulberry trees are producing like crazy. The blackberries we planted last year survived for the most part, and a few plants even have some green fruit.

The lawn and weeds have taken off too. Unfortunately, one of our weed eaters, and both lawn mowers are out of commission. Ed will probably want to tell you about that. I did pull a few weeds yesterday, but I got tired quickly, and decided I probably shouldn’t over do it.

The dogs have finally decided to stay put. Ed is two thirds finished with a new dog house, and they have already moved in. Libby is still digging like crazy, but she has found other places beside the fence. We just have to watch for the sink holes!

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Meeko and Chicken Girl “helping” Ed build the new dog house.

My mom’s best friend decided that Chicken Girl needed a better chicken coop, so she bought one and had it shipped to us. Moony and his girls are living there, and Sunny and company were finally moved from the oldest coop to the new one that we built. Everyone seems happy for now, and the eggs are coming steadily again.

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Moony and the girls in the new coop

Chicken Girl and I finished the school year, and we were both ready. Several months ago, I told you we were getting ready to start dissection in Biology. She did one crayfish, and begged me not to make her do any more. I didn’t, but I adjusted her grade accordingly. Oh, she just had a birthday. She’s seventeen. Time sure flies.

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Chicken Girl and the unfortunate crayfish.

Last week, we had three days in the 90’s and three nights of some intense thunderstorms. We didn’t have any serious damage; just a few limbs down off the big elm tree near the garage. One of those mornings, I stepped out on front porch just to take a quick look around. The weeds all survived. So did this guy.

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Frog just off the front porch.

This morning about 5:00, Ed and I heard a dog barking in our front yard. It wasn’t one of ours. We got up, looked, didn’t see anything, and went back to bed. When we got back up later, I realized two of the cats were outside. Captain came in, but Adora didn’t. We found her this afternoon. She was alive, and she didn’t have any marks we could find, but she was obviously not good. The vet couldn’t find any marks either at first. She has super thick fur. When he finally did find them, there were three or four bite marks and they were on her back end. So, he gave her fluids, antibiotics, steroids, and liquid nutrition. He said to bring her home, keep her warm (her temperature was below normal), and call him in the morning to let him know how she’s doing.  Now she’s covered up in a box in Chicken Girl’s room.

This is a picture I took of her a few days ago: A living bookend. I thought the glowing eyes were funny. IMG_2114

Well, that’s all the news for now.

Connie

 

 

 

New Hens and Other Updates

Ed is feeling better and working to rebuild the dog pen. He hoped to finish today, but the weather has not cooperated. Cold and wet is not a good environment for someone barely over an upper respiratory infection, so he spent yesterday working inside. He worked some this morning, but then went to bed, because he has to work tonight. When we finish new pen, we’ll show you what we did.

Last week, I had the opportunity to purchase six grown Rhode Island Red hens from an acquaintance who had more than she needed. When the hens were delivered last weekend, we learned they hadn’t been handled much. Chicken Girl was going to have her job cut out for her.

When we first got them, we dumped them in the chicken tractor…literally. They came in a dog crate and the old owners upended the crate under the tractor, while we blocked the sides to prevent escapes. The funniest thing was that within five minutes of getting them in the tractor, Moony Rooster escaped his pen and came running to investigate the new girls.

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Moony Rooster

That evening, we decided we needed to put them in the big coop with the other chickens, because the tractor doesn’t have much in the way of shelter. That was an experience for Katherine. First, raising the tractor enough to grab a chicken that didn’t want to be grabbed. Then trying to hang onto it long enough to get it into the pen. Once she got them all in the pen, then she had to get them into the coop. Still, once she gets hold of them, they calm down quickly. She only got scratched once, and she considered that a win. Every day, it seems that they are easier for her to handle.

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Sunny Rooster and three of the new hens

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Katherine says this is Voca Hen. I’ll have to take her word for it.

The six new girls and the two old ones are having to work out their differences of course, but that was expected. Like she always has, Tundra Hen escapes several times a day. Then Moony Rooster follows her. Day before yesterday, during one of the many daily escapes, Katherine had a moment of panic when she realized Tundra was inside the dog pen. Then she remembered the dogs weren’t there. Later however, when when Ed was moving the dog house, an egg rolled out. Then I noticed the second egg inside the house. I guess Tundra was feeling a little crowded with her new coop mates. Coop improvements will be coming soon.

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See the egg?

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Close up

 

Have a great weekend,

Connie

One of Those Weeks

Well, maybe, one of those months.

Since Ed and I both write posts for this blog, we trade off weekly posting; last week my post, this week his. The idea is that we both then have two weeks to work on writing a post worth reading…Yes, I know, we don’t always get there.

This is technically Ed’s week. However, Ed has been sick for the last two weeks. What started out as a sinus and ear infection has moved to his chest. He went to the doctor for the second time yesterday, and she started him on a new round of antibiotics and a prescription cough medicine. He really hasn’t felt well, and to be honest, I don’t know if he realizes it’s his “turn”. I’m not going to put any more pressure on him than he has already put on himself. He missed two days work that first week. He made one day up, and has been working ever since, except for his normal days off.

Several weeks ago, he wrote about our constant battle to keep our dogs contained. Pallets around the fence perimeter seemed to be the solution…when we could get pallets. Unfortunately, the supply dried up, and we were back to using whatever we could find. At least twice a day, one of us would walk the fence, looking for evidence of new digging. Once or twice, we found some and were able to block the hole. I would love to go buy everything we need, and just fix the stupid fence, but we don’t have that kind of money, so we do damage control. At least Meeko quit climbing right?

Wrong!

A few days after Ed went back to work, the dogs got out, and I couldn’t find the hole. Using flashlights, Katherine and I walked the whole fence, and could not find where they escaped. I was doing some things in the house that made bringing them in for the night extremely inconvenient. In frustration, I decided to shut them in one of the rooms in the barn that had a cement floor and locking door. Katherine and I carried blankets, food and water out to the barn, and locked them in for the night.

The next day, Ed and I both looked for the escape route, but couldn’t find it. I still can’t believe that Libby climbed the fence, but I don’t have any other explanation for her escape. To see if we could catch them, Ed put out the game camera for a few days. The only thing we saw was chickens, three of our chickens have found out how to get out their pen, and have decided to free range themselves. The interesting thing was that the dogs really didn’t seem interested. Four days later, we found out how wrong we were.

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 From the game camera: chickens outside the dog pen. If Libby sees them, she’s not interested. 

Last Friday, we finally got good, gully washing, basement flooding, rain. We needed it. It’s been a dry winter. That day, our three free range wanna be’s flew out of their pen. I saw them and told Katherine. She can round them up faster than I can, so she went out to get them. A few seconds after she went out the door, I heard a noise that I cannot describe. I went to investigate, and met Katherine and Meeko at the back door.

“Put him in the house! He got Hoppy! Hoppy ran off!” Katherine was already running off to find the rooster when I grabbed Meeko, pulled him inside, went outside myself and shut the door behind me. (Ed was sleeping). My first thought was of Libby, but she was still in the pen.

Katherine and I found Hoppy hiding in the weeds. At first glance, he looked like he had been plucked. All the feathers were gone from between his shoulder blades and from his back, near his tail feathers. Later I would change the impression from “plucked” to “skinned”.

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Hoppy’s back near his tail feathers.

I rounded up the other chickens, and then went to get Meeko put back in the pen. Ed was awake and I quickly explained what happened. Once Meeko was out of the house, Kat brought Hoppy in and we cleaned and treated his wounds. Then we put him in a crate in Katherine’s room.

Did I mention, it was pouring? Yeah, we were all soaked.

Ed and I restarted the discussion we’ve had too many times: How do we keep the dogs in? Ed went to the barn and came back with two cables with hooks on them. His thought was that we’re going to have to tie them up, we just weren’t sure how to do it.

A little while later, one of us, I don’t remember which, saw Libby outside the fence. I went out first while Ed went to get his shoes. By the time I got outside, Libby had bolted. I saw both dogs on the far side of my neighbor’s house, and called to them. Then I saw the other dog. Meeko ran toward it, and then both dogs ran back toward me, with the new dog coming quickly behind. I got Meeko, and gave him to Katherine. I turned to see Libby head back toward the other dog. In the meanwhile, our neighbor’s son came calling the other dog. I called Libby again, and for the first time in her life, she came to me, and I was able to get hold of her.

The man was apologizing for his dog, and I was apologizing for ours, and somehow, Katherine lost her grip on Meeko. Fortunately, Ed was out by then and was able to get him before our neighbor’s son was in the middle of a dog fight. Fuming, Ed headed toward the barn with Meeko. I sent Katherine to the house for a leash, and when she brought it, I used it to take Libby to the barn as well.

Ed had to go to work, so Katherine and I would have to deal with letting the dogs out to do their business. That would be ok for the night, but what about tomorrow? Then I remembered the cables. I attached them to a stall door, and then was able to use them to let the dogs out.

Hoppy died the next day. We were even more determined. We know that we need to do something about the chickens too, but we feel that the dogs are the bigger issue. Even if we could protect our chickens, some of our neighbors have chickens too.

The original plan was to keep the dogs tethered out for a few days  while Ed and I did some serious refurbishing of the pen. We decided we would start over. We would clear the fence rows, and combine everything that we have to dig and climb-proof the pen. We would even get out the electric fence box and see if we could figure out why it won’t work. We would start on Ed’s next day off. The dogs would only have to spend a few nights in the barn, and a few days tethered.

The Ed got sicker. His chest is so congested that he gets winded easily and has been sleeping a lot. I can’t help but feel that if I had been a little more on the ball with learning about natural remedies, he might have been able to head some of this off. I’m not real crazy about his having to take a second round of antibiotics, and neither is he, but that is where we are.  I’ve been dealing with some health issues myself, and that doesn’t help either.

Ed says he is feeling a little better today, but he has to work tonight, so we’ll see how he is in the morning. Prayers are always appreciated.

As for the dogs, they are just going to have to deal with being tied out for a little while longer.

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Unhappy Dogs

Connie

 

A Cranberry Merchant

Reading over Ed’s post from last week, I decided I wanted to add my own two cents to what he said, as well as catching you up for this week.

Yes, we have been crazy busy. When he started saying all the things we were busier than, I could just hear grandma say, “Busier than a cranberry merchant”.  After Ed’s post last week, I decided to try and find the source of that saying.  Google gave me the answer in the first result. Subsequent results said the same thing. When you add the words “in November”, the phrase makes perfect sense. November is the time of Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is the time for cranberry sauce. As a matter of fact, you might be hard pressed to find cranberries at other times of the year. So, yes, a cranberry merchant might be very busy in November.

Ed truly loves the bees. It’s fun for me to watch him watching them. I am, however, looking forward to getting my own bee suit, so I can get a good look myself. As it is now, I can get about ten to fifteen feet away, and watch, without drawing the attention of the irritated bees.

I don’t think Ed mentioned it, but Kat has named the hives Sparta and Athens. Sparta was named first, when I pointed out to her that the bees would cast out those members who weren’t able to pull their own weight…kind of like the ancient Spartans that we were covering in school. Of course, the other hive had to be Athens. Interestingly, the hives’ behavior seems to mirror their respective namesakes. Athens is definitely more laid back than Sparta.

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Athens on the left and Sparta on the right.

Jim’s death took us all by surprise. I couldn’t have been more proud of how Ed stepped up to help, not only for my children and I, but for Jim’s family as well. Jim’s brother went so far as to tell Ed that he is “family now”. Katherine was definitely daddy’s girl (the only girl in a total of six children, and the baby), and she had him wrapped around her little finger. She was actually concerned that she wasn’t crying like Bam Bam, and I reassured her that everyone grieves differently and it was ok. She’s brought him up a time or two since then, but that was it. I was kind of waiting for something to break, but wasn’t sure if it would.

Then the dogs killed those two chickens. She fell to the ground and just screamed. I told Jim’s sister later that I thought some of that might have been for her dad too. In any case, it was hard to watch. My heart just broke for her. Then a few days ago, Moony came up missing. After looking and calling for a couple hours without locating the runaway rooster, Katherine just sat and cried. She told me she was a terrible chicken keeper. I told her it was not her fault, and we just had to pray that he was alright. The next morning, Ed and I had both gone out to the coop at different times hoping he had come back, but he hadn’t. At least, not where we expected him.

Ed was out near the other pen, also known as Sunny’s bachelor pad, when he heard a rooster crow nearby. He was looking right at Sunny and it wasn’t him. He heard it again, and it was coming from inside the garage. He came to get me and we both went back to try and find the source. Ed was checking the rafters and I was checking the corners. There was Moony, sticking his head out of a bunch of boxes in the back corner! He may have been there the whole time.

That very day, Ed and Kat worked together to cover the top of the chicken pen, so no one can fly out again.
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Hanging out after the work was done.

The rain finally stopped, and the sun came out with a vengeance. For about two or three weeks, we had 90 and hundred degree days. That is not June weather for Missouri; July or August maybe, but not June. Now, the weather people are saying we need to be prepared for the possibility of 4-6 inches of rain this weekend. I guess we’ll see. We had a little shower this evening. The clouds looked ominous, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. It rained for about ten minutes and the sun came back out.

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Those clouds were rolling!

Like Ed said, we’ve both been dealing with health issues. That’s part of that whole “Old Folks” thing. I had an endoscopy yesterday. I do have some issues, but the doctor wasn’t overly concerned. I just need to watch what, how, and when I eat. He didn’t say so, but I know that losing some weight would solve a lot of the problem.

The foot surgery is another matter entirely. I have a bone spur, along with a “diseased” Achilles’ tendon. They are going saw off the bone spur and remove the diseased portion of the tendon. After the surgery, its “no weight bearing for three months”. The doctor told me it would be either a wheel chair or a knee scooter. I chose the knee scooter. I’ve been told twice now to get it early and practice. Yes, I have already apologized to Ed in advance, because I know it’s going to drive me crazy.

I started a bunch of tomato seeds back in April and just now got all of them in the ground. I think there are about 30 plants in all. I noticed blooms on a few plants today. I also planted sunflowers, okra, and a few other plants here and there. After I knew I was going to be out of commission for at least three months, I decided not to try and plant anything else this year.

We did get some nice lettuce in the cold frame, but the spinach never came up. The onions we planted last fall came up though, and we still have a couple in the ground.

In addition to the trees we planted in the back field, we also planted ten blackberry bushes. I think we have about eight left. A few of them are really coming along.

Ed went to his first regular shift at his new job tonight. He always did like working thirds. Kat is now calling him a bat, because he’s working nights.

Well that’s about it for now.

Connie

Spoiled Rotten Roosters

Yes, I know it’s been a long dry spell again. Sometimes, life just happens and there are only so many hours in the day. Most of my focus the last month or so has been on home school, and changing some things that just weren’t working. I think we’ve settled most of that and are getting back into a routine.

Additionally, a young friend of ours from church was diagnosed with stage four sarcoma, and we have spent a lot of time not only in prayer for him, but also in helping get the word out about a benefit to help defray some of the expenses involved in his treatment. The benefit is this weekend, and I am also happy to report that he is doing well after a third chemo treatment.

Then, James’ dog, Loki, aka “little psycho grand dog”, was killed by a neighbor’s dog. We all spent a few days between “mad” and “sad” and back to “mad” again. Loki is now buried in the pasture next to Marshmellow. It’s very quiet in the house.

As Ed told you, we bought bee hives and ordered bees last month. His work schedule has left him little time to work on much of anything on the homestead. Often, when he has day off, we spend it running errands that take both of us. So the hives are still sitting in the garage, disassembled. He did get the gate put up for the new chicken coop. I don’t think he really sees the humor in my calling it, “the gate to nowhere”.

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The Gate to Nowhere

We’re all just kind of worn out. Except the roosters. They are just fine! Usually, I don’t get to see Katherine interact with them, because I am in the house tending to other early morning chores when she goes out. Sometimes, I do though, and I even got some pictures and video. I have come to the conclusion that we have two absolutely spoiled rotten roosters! I can’t post the video here, so I will share it on our Facebook page this evening.

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Sunrise (Sunny)

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Moonrise (Moony)

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The Dastardly Duo

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Kat and Sunny

We ran an errand to Chillicothe yesterday and got back about dark, so Kat went to put the roosters up. They were already in the coop when she went out there, but came running out as soon as they saw her. She caught Moony, and was talking to him, when Sunny pecked her on the leg!

I think he was jealous!

Last week, I was watching them out the window, when I saw a squirrel come up to the far side of the fence. It scurried around to the gate, apparently with the idea it could squeeze through and get some of that corn. Suddenly there were two very interested roosters at the gate, and the squirrel changed his mind. It’s amazing how entertaining chickens can be.

We are definitely seeing an early spring here. The lilies are coming up.

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pushing up

I hope to get back to posting consistently, so, Lord willing, we’ll talk to you again next week.

Connie

Catching Up…Again

Where does the time  go?  I just keep losing track of it!

I know Ed was working on a post, but he got sidetracked too.

For both Ed and I, our focus lately has been on prayer for our friend and brother in the Lord, twenty-five year old Taylor Finley who started intensive chemotherapy this last week for stage four sarcoma. Our little town has come together in a big way to support him, but it is even more amazing what God has done through Taylor’s illness. If you follow us on Facebook, you can read all about him there.

As I told you last week, Kat and I started school again, so most of my day is tied up with that.  I love Charlotte Mason’s methods, but my visual-spatial daughter has some struggles with it, so we are needing to switch things up a bit.

The weather cannot decide what time of year it is.  Thursday, it was 55 degrees. James and I did some work on the cold frame…outside…without coats…in January.  Currently it is 25 degrees, and the low for tomorrow is supposed to be -3. There is a chance of snow and ice over the next few days too.  Kat and I brought some more wood in the house tonight just in case we need it. Pray for the best; prepare for the worst! That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe God will take care of us; it means that we understand that His idea of “best” isn’t always the same as ours!

The roosters finally came out of the coop, but I’m sure they’ll be “hibernating” again now.  Ed is working on plans to create a second coop so that we can keep both roosters. I’ll let him tell you about all that though. Maybe Monday.

Our last round of bad weather included more ice than snow and when the weather warmed, sheets of ice started slowly sliding off our roof. One day I was in the bedroom and I hard a loud rapping sound coming from outside. It kind of sounded like a woodpecker, and kind of not. I looked out the bedroom window, but didn’t see anything. I heard it again, so I went to look out the front door. That’s when I noticed the ice. The rapping was coming from directly over my head, so I went out onto the sidewalk to see the front of the house. From there, I  could tell the ice sheet had covered the gutter. The bird was trapped in the gutter. I went to get Ed. As he started to tell me that he didn’t know what we could do about it, the bird escaped from the end of the gutter.

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Looking straight up from the porch

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From the sidewalk

By the way, have you checked out the Back to Basics Living bundle yet? There really is a ton of great stuff in there. If you were to buy everything individually, you would have to pay over $500.00, but from the January 18-24 (next week), you can get it all for less than $50.00!

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I shared a little about the homeschooling part of the bundle last week, but that is the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to take me a while to get through everything, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. I’ve been looking over “Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen” by Stephanie Rose from Garden Therapy.  All kids of great ideas, and not just “gifts in a jar” either.
“Homesteading Without A Homestead” by Marie Beausoleil from Just Plain Marie, is full of great advice for starting where you are in the whole homesteading process.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Connie

 

Just Plain Chicken Sense

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I picked this up from Facebook. It might be a slight exaggeration but it has been kinda wet this year.

On this day last week, I was driving in fence post and wiring up a fence while wearing a tee shirt, blue jeans, boots and the ever present hat. Actually I was kind of warm. A week later, if I want to walk from the house to the garage I have to dress like Nanook of the North. Such is life in Missouri  Winter, having arrived a tad late, is perfectly willing to catch up.

Cold weather does not, however, relieve us of our responsibility to provide for and care for the animals. So it was Katherine to our bachelor chicken pad. (For those not up on the news we have two roosters and no hens; a situation I plan to rectify shortly) while her mother and I prepared to feed and water the dogs.

The cats, as always, set their own course. Captain decided to go out on one of her walkabouts, but she did not get past the door mat before she was back in. Book Worm got off Connie’s desk long enough to look out the window in awe and wonder. Bookie is at, or approaching, five years old. Every winter she sees snow and then looks at us as if to say, “See what you did?” Adora, AKA Arrhythmia, continued walking post up and down the basement steps and pleading in a loud voice to get in or out as the moment required.

 

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This is a picture of Book Worm taken before our messing up everything by making it snow again. She thought we had learned from last year.

The dogs, including the stumpy grand-dog, were absolutely delighted with the whole thing. Dogs are among the Good Lord’s most amusing and most easily amused creatures. They wake up in the morning, find freezing white stuff on the ground, and begin to run around frantically kicking up clouds of snow.

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This is Meeko and Libby. If you notice, Meeko is favoring that left leg, but he shows no pain when you manipulate it, so I think it is habit. They want us to come play in the snow. I want to go get a cup of coffee.

I am an Appalachian boy raised in a wood heated cabin with no running water and an outdoor toilet. Forgive me if I never quite got the romance of snow. You go walking in a Winter Wonderland. I will sit in my comfortable chair and read To Build a Fire by Jack London.

Our Chickens are Icelandic Chickens. They are supposed to be good layers; something I will not be able to prove until I get some girl chickens. However, I do believe that a chicken bred to survive in Iceland could survive Missouri with a little bit of help. Since there were only two of them, I built the initial coop very small, and wired a light in it to add heat. I was curious to see what survival instincts the chickens brought to the winter by themselves.

Katherine went out, spread cracked corn on the ground, opened the coop door and put the ramp in so that they could come out. No chickens. Oh they were in there, you could hear them clucking contentedly and crowing occasionally but they were NOT coming out. Our dogs and two neighbor dogs on walkabout were dancing in the snow, all about my feathered Icelandic stalwarts.

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This is all you get to see of Icelandic chickens during a snow storm. Note the small water dish at the bottom of the picture.

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If you look carefully you can see the silhouettes of warm cozy chickens and the heat light there to the left.

Birds were chirping and merrily eating the chicken feed in great numbers. Cats were observing from windows and considering trips outside themselves. Last but not least, idiot people were coming out to look and see if the chickens were going to grace us with a visit, but the two Icelandic roosters were snow no-shows thank you very much.

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Most times we look out and the chicken lot is full of birds because the big ole roosters are inside napping today. However Connie ran them off approaching to take pictures except this one young stalwart.

That was yesterday morning and today. Led by Moony, the youngest, they did venture out for a nice scratch snack. Then Moony flew out of the chicken lot just because he could. A little truth about Icelandic Chickens: besides being smart enough to stay in out of the cold, they can fly really well. At this writing however, they are back in there little coop huddled up to their warming light.

There is the answer to what special gift our Gracious Lord has given Icelandic Chickens to survive in harsh climates. He has given them enough sense to stay out of the cold. A blessing he has not bestowed on all humans, it appears.

In closing, an update on Meeko, our gimpy black Lab. The sling is off of him, and though he is still favoring that left leg, he is out with Libby and doing well. This is not the first dog I have ever seen who, after having a leg bandaged, limps more out of habit than anything else. He has started to put the foot down some. If he does not get it, soon I will wrap his other foot. That is a trick my Grandpa taught me while dealing with his hunting pack.

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and we wish you a Happy New Year.

Ed

Now We Know

It’s Missouri: if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. It will change.

Take today, for example. This morning when I got up, the temperature was in the upper 50’s and there was some evidence that it had rained during the night. By 11:00, it was in the 60’s. We were all outside in jeans and t shirts. Ed worked on the fence, and thinks he has it ready for Meeko’s return next week. It was a truly beautiful morning, and a rare treat for December.

By the time Ed and James left for work about 1:30, the wind had picked up and the temperature was starting to drop. By 5:00 it was 38 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of 28. The wind has died down somewhat now, so it doesn’t feel quite so cold, but 37 is still quite a shock after 60.

Meeko is definitely feeling better. He has a lot more energy than he did a week ago. You wouldn’t believe how quick he is on three legs. He and Loki are playing a little, but Meeko still loses patience with him.

Now for an update on the chicken front. Since we got our five baby chicks last summer, and three of them met an untimely demise, we have wondered whether the two remaining chicks were male or female. Of course, we were hoping for one of each.

Since he is older, Sunrise let us know quite a while ago that he is a rooster. If his magnificent comb wasn’t a dead give away, the crowing that started about a month ago clinched it. You know, roosters don’t start out with a full blown crow. It was pitiful really, but now he has found his voice even if he doesn’t have any sense of time. Who said that roosters only crow in the morning anyway?

So, we were hoping that Moonrise was a hen, but as she got older I began to have my doubts. We looked at pictures of Icelandic hens to compare them with Moonrise, and while the hens do have a top knot of sorts, I didn’t see any with what was beginning to look like a comb, even if it is a funky looking one.

In the meanwhile, Sunrise had begun to chase Moonrise around the pen. Ed thought he was feeling amorous, and Moonrise just wasn’t having any of it.

The other morning, Ed and I went out to get Libby. Ed went to the garage to get some dog food and had just stepped back into the doorway when we both heard it. Two crows! Our eyes met and we both said “They’re both roosters!”

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Moonrise the rooster

So, no, I don’t think Sunrise was feeling amorous at all; I think he was telling the younger rooster who’s boss. I don’t think Moonrise is having any of that either. Since we told Kat early on that these first chickens were hers, Ed told her that we could either trade one of them for some hens, or separate them and get hens for both of them. Of course, she chose the latter option. I don’t know how well that is going to work. It will however, mean more fence building for Ed.

Christmas really sneaked up on me this year, but it’s all good. We got the house decorated. I talked Ed into letting me get a fake tree. Since the dogs are in the house, the cats have been camping out in Kat’s room; so the tree has fared pretty well.

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Isn’t it pretty?

Bookworm has decided that she is Queen Cat of the Christmas village though.

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Queen Bookworm

Kat and I made candy and cookies and she and I went to Independence for a gathering of my great grandmother’s family Saturday night. On Sunday evening, we all attended the Christmas program at our church. I love watching the little kids. You never know what they are going to do! It was kind of nice to just be able to sit back and enjoy it.

Christmas Eve is always low key. Since Ed and James are both off, we will have family game night, and end the evening with the reading the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. It’s a tradition I started when my kids were small, because I wanted them to always remember what Christmas is really all about. It’s about Jesus.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2: 1-19

Ed and I want to wish every one of you a blessed Christmas.

Connie

Picture of the Week Thursday: A Chicken Update

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Kat and Moonrise

The last time we posted pictures of the chicks, they were tiny. This one was actually taken last week. This is Moonrise. As far as we can tell, she is a hen. We tried to get a shot of Sunrise too, but he wouldn’t keep still.

They both seem to be doing quite well. They have both escaped a time or two (I think they flew out), but they don’t go far. Still, I would rather they stayed in. We’ve had a couple stray dogs about, and Meeko still escapes as well, and I don’t want to risk them all being out at the same time.

We figured out this morning that Meeko not only gets out, but he can get back in too.  That’s another blog post: probably one Ed will write.

Connie