Monday, May 28, 2012

A home for Cecil

Cecil is our leopard tortoise. We've had him for eight years now. When we got him he was just a wee hatchling and cute as can be. While he's inside he lives in a tortoise table which looks like an old fashioned wooden coffin on legs. During the summer he occasionally goes outside to soak up the sunshine and feast on weeds but he's never had an proper outdoor pen. Until today. I've wanted to build him one for a few years now and finally got to it this weekend. He's a desert tortoise so I wanted to make it as a arid as possible. Desert tortoises that are housed on grass and moist soil tend to develop fugus issues with their shells so we located the pen in an area of the yard where grass isn't growing too well and put down pea gravel over the dirt.

We made the pen 5 foot by 5 foot and constructed it out of old deck wood from the torn out pool (the wood is actually almost gone...finally). I thought it might be a good way to hide the old unsightly pine stump.

Next was the hinged top panels. This allows sun in but keeps predators and Minions out. I just used regular zinc coated wire mesh from the local farm store and pressure treated 2x4's (oh and an awesome Hubby to cut it all for me).

Nearly done! All screwed together with hinged top on.

I told the kids they'd better be good or they'll go in the box. Naturally they wanted in there anyways. Silly youngins.

Time to go get Cecil and introduce him to his new home for the summer.  He looks so small in there. He'll still come back inside at night for safety.

I told Hubby poor Cecil might be lonely in there all by himself. Might be time to get him a friend. Have I mentioned how much I've wanted a Sulcata (another African tortoise)?

Hubby said he's getting pretty good at building animal enclosures. He never knew he was going to work at a zoo when he grew up. I have an awesome husband.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

One foot in front of the other

I'm still running. Hard to believe the half marathon was four weeks ago. I've been keeping the weekly mileage pretty small ever since, between 4-6 miles. I'm just running on the weekends now and I've had to revamp that lately. Last weekend I went for a four mile run in town around 3ish in the afternoon and it was 83 degrees out. No biggie right? Wrong! It was hot and humid and downright miserable. I started getting goose bumps around mile three and decided I'm done with afternoon runs. So this morning I got out nice and early and ran a glorious six miles on the dirt roads. Felt great and thus I've found my new summer routine.

During the week I've been messing around with weights in a desperate attempt at creating a swimsuit ready body. The kids are having swimming lessons next month and I cringe at the thought of putting on a swimming suit. Jillian Michaels has been helping me too. I love her new DVD titled "Ripped in 30". It's much like the "30 Day Shred" but offers four different workouts instead of three and changes it up quite a bit (I was getting a bit bored with the 30 Day Shred). The only problem I'm finding these days? Now that both kids have officially given up nap time it makes it darn near impossible to get even a 25 minute workout in. They jump on me when I'm doing sit ups or take off with the weights. It's a bit frustrating. But oh well, they will both be in school soon enough and I'll have so much time to myself I won't know what to do (I just giggled like a school girl at the thought). Well, off to get some work done.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hay, Fencing and Welding

Whew, another busy weekend done. I always wonder if the average person works as hard on weekends as we do. We just fall into bed at the end of the day. Anyhow, it's the time of year when I run out of hay for the horses and goats and usually have to scrounge around begging some local farmer to sell me a round bale of last years cutting which is usually brown and gross. So you'll understand my delight when I find a local guy (7 miles away) selling round bales of this years hay. He literally cut it last weekend. It's beautiful green and smells lovely. I love the smell of hay, call me strange. The kicker here? It was even not all that badly priced. Coming off of a summer last year where round bales were selling for $90+ because of the drought, I think these $60 looked pretty good. I suppose it's still astronomical compared to just a couple years ago when they were $30. But I'll take what I can get. We don't have a trailer so my awesome Father-in-law offered to follow me in his truck so I didn't have to make two trips to pick up the hay.  They even unloaded them for me, how sweet.

On the subject of trucks, I got my truck out this past week and the kids and I gave it a much needed bath. It's stored in the shop and rarely gets much use these days but when we do need it, it's sure nice to have around. I don't think I could get rid of it really. I've had it nearly my whole adult life and I love my truck. I get this strange attachment to vehicles that I like. I bought it new when I was 18 years old and I just turned 33 this month, you do the math. Looking pretty good for an old truck.

On Saturday I batted my eye lashes and asked very sweetly if we could redo a section of the horse fencing in between the corral and the lagoon. The goats have done a number in that fencing (much like they do to all fencing) and it was, as I like to say, "a vet bill waiting to happen". The fence was fraying and loose wires were poking everywhere. The goats and horses like to rub on everything (myself included) and a fence is the perfect scratching post. It got so bad that the younger goats were squeezing under it and going back and forth between the corral and lagoon. So we took down the old fence, pulled the t-posts and pounded in new ones. This time we put them four feet apart instead of the usual 6-8 feet apart. Ha! Try and get under that fence you punks! Rich was visiting for the weekend and offered to help. Thanks Rich!

My tractor is coming along nicely. It needed some things welded so Hubby took advantage of his Dad being here and got everything welded. The mig welder that he brought back from the farm all those years ago finally got used today. The tractor is moving along bit by bit. Hope you all had a nice weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Wednesday Write-Up

-A big milestone in Greta's life happened over the weekend. She officially moved into a toddler bed (or toddly bed as she calls it). She likes to show anyone and everyone that comes to the house her new, awesome bed. She had been climbing out of her crib for some time now and we decided it was time to get rid of it. The crib has earned a new name over the years. I like to fondly refer to it as the "Woodchuck Crib". It literally looks like it housed a family of hungry woodchucks or beavers. My children have both sharpened their fangs on every available wooden surface in the once beautiful crib. We'll be lucky if we can give it away in the condition it's in.

-I haven't written much this year about the garden, but it's growing! I have to admit that my enthusiasm for it is pretty low this growing season, not real sure why. I can hardly keep up with the weeds even though I've been getting mulch down. I've mentioned in past gardening posts that I'm a mulcher, not a rototiller. I never rototill the garden, instead I just pack mulch on all winter and in the spring just uncover each row and plant.You know, the lazy method. The problem? This past winter I failed to mulch. So now my mulch is thin and weeds are making their way through. Plus some of the weeds look like the blasted crop itself. Like corn, I have this weed that looks just like the corn stalk and I sit there trying to decide which one to pull...and in the end just don't pull either and give up. But there is stuff growing back there. Lots of corn, bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, bush beans, sugar snap beans and cucumbers. Oh and lots of cilantro, cilantro goes on everything in my kitchen. I also went colorful this year and planted about every other row with flowers, zinnias mostly since I had such good luck with them last year. Can't forget sunflowers. Gotta have more mammoth sunflowers.

-Greta has been changing a whole lot over the past few months. The terrible two's is gaining a whole new meaning. She's growing into her own and she's not taking any guff from her older brother. He pushes her, she pushes him back harder. Wesley's been coming up to me crying more and more lately because little sis is beating him up. I can't help but smirk a little because he's finally getting some of his own medicine. In response to her new attitude he's started expressing himself through his artwork. *grin* He spends about half an hour drawing these big, brightly colored pictures and usually somewhere in the picture is a representation of Greta's head with a big "X" through it. It makes me laugh out loud each and every time.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Graduate

My little boy graduated from preschool tonight. *sob* Hard to believe we are already here! He had his program this evening where he and his fellow classmates sang songs and he got to walk across the stage and collect his "diploma". He's certainly growing up and I couldn't be more proud of my little dude. He's off to Kindergarten!

Opening graduation presents from the grandparents. Greta got a little outfit as a gift for the non-graduate. She preformed a split second outfit change in the parking lot, flinging her cute dress to the pavement in record time.

Wesley got an awesome Captain America shield that shoots stuff. He loves it so much I believe he's sleeping with it right now. Thanks Papa and Noni. Congratulations little Captain America.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Little horse aerobics

Part of the outside menagerie includes two miniature horses. Rocky and Desi are both gelded boys and they spend their days in a corral. I had purchased them initially with the intent of them being backyard grazers but then learned quickly that miniature horses can't handle too much grazing....or any in our instance. Desi came to us morbidly obese and had foundered in his last home. They didn't control what he ate and he literally ate himself sick on a giant round bale of brome. Rocky, whom I've had since he was six months old, used to be let out to munch on sweet grasses but would also get sick quickly. He had problems with colic in the first couple of years of life which our vet eventually narrowed down to food. Feed was switched and grazing was ceased and he's had no problems in years.

They are healthy little horses, but bored little horses. Luckily they have each other. Every evening they perform their little ritual of trying to murder each other. They've done this for years and I have watched it like a little TV show in the corral. I think they like to imagine they are tiny little dueling stallions. This goes on for about 20 minutes and then they are best friends again. Silly animals.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekend Progress

  We had another lovely weekend with Papa Rich visiting. He makes some fabulous waffles on Sunday's and I politely asked if he could make them while he was here. He agreed and so yesterday he was in the kitchen preparing his specialty. It was time he passed on his skills to another generation so Sean was stationed in the kitchen as well, taking notes and learning from the Master. I hope he took good notes because I'm expecting some homemade waffles and black berry sauce when Rich moves back to New Mexico.

My "honey-do list" has been having a lot crossed off lately. Sure feels good to accomplish stuff, stuff that has been on the list for years. The koi pond has an electrical outlet that runs the pump that runs the waterfall. The outlet hasn't been functioning for at least a year and a half, so Rich and Sean tackled that this weekend putting in a new outlet. I love having the waterfall back up and running, the sound of flowing water is relaxing. Might even have to go get some new goldfish this year. 

Getting the pump down in the pump box is always an adventure. You clean it out the best you can then you just stick your hands down in a deep box full of murky brown water. Luckily this year there were no snakes! Minion helped me out, jumping on every frog she could find. I also got to spend a couple of hours pulling reeds and roots that clog up the pond. It's looking better but still needs some TLC. Oh and NO the kids do not swim in the koi pond, they had their floaties on because they were out swimming in the kiddie pool....not the nasty snake infested koi pond. 

 And there's more! I've dreamed of having the well up and running for years now. Luckily we have rural water and aren't dependent on well water. But when it comes to watering a garden, filling a koi pond and keeping a stock tank full the well water will come in handy (as well as save us some money!). So Rich and Sean pulled the well pump, figured out it just needed a new fitting (the old one seemed to have just disintegrated). So after a trip to Lowes and a soldering job in the basement we now have a working well again! That is so exciting. Sean keeps talking about a sprinkler system for the yard and now it could actually be a possibility. Thank you boys for all of your hard work!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mommies Minions

The neighbor was given a cat who was pregnant. That cat had kittens, three to be exact, and then she disappeared. The neighbor didn't want kittens and tried giving them away but there were no takers so she kept them back in this old shed in the back of her property. That shed was a stones throw from our horse pen so every day I'd go out and feed the horses and then walk to the back of the pen and lure the kittens from their shed. They'd run over and let me pet them through the fence. They were wild kitties but slowly became tame (to me anyways). Over the weeks they became more adventurous and would get into the horse pen and sleep in the shed in the pile of uneaten hay. I'd find them all curled up with each other sleeping away the day.

Then I decided they would be mine. So I bought cat food. And lots of it. Every evening I would woo them up to the shop with the sound of a can of cat food opening. They'd come running, winding their way through my legs. I forgot how much I missed cats. I'd sit out there and these now tame kittens would climb in my lap and purr like they were in heaven. They became my minions. They have no names, just a collective name: "Mommies Minions". Welcome to the menagerie my little minions.

P.S. All three kitties have already been spayed and neutered thanks to my wonderful neighbor, glad she had that done before they adopted me. :)

 There are two solid black females and one black and white male.

 Brother Minion is super friendly and fearless, going after a large snake yesterday.

 Even Greta is in love with the Minions.

 Brother Minion is sweet but not the sharpest tool in the shed. Took this pic moments before he fell off the roof of the shop.

Sister Minion sleeps in the shop and catches her weight in mice. Gotta love barn cats!