Thursday, May 30, 2013

Testing testing

The blog doesn't seem to like the new camera video's. I've tried uploading them every which way but nothing seems to work. So I'm back to YouTube. Which is fine, it's better quality than bloggers video option. So I took a test video today while outside playing with the kids. I think it works?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

Lots of progress around here! The deck project is moving. Hubby has been out there all weekend digging holes for the footings. These aren't just little holes either. Currently he's on hole 13 out of 18. The plan is to rent a cart of premade cement and fill the holes, in the next few weekends. I know Sean is looking forward to finishing the digging part of it.

I've been out at the garden hauling mulch back and forth, trying to cover the rows before the weeds overtake everything. So far I think I'm ahead of the weeds. The plants are growing wonderfully.....well except the cabbage. I planted the cabbage seeds and every day I inspect the plot looking for something, anything, that resembles cabbage seedlings. I even Googled cabbage seedlings to know what to look for. Still nothing. I don't have the patience needed to keep looking so I'm tilling up the plot and planting the Spaghetti Squash I somehow forgot to plant. We don't eat cabbage anyways, I planted it for the chickens.

Some of the new plants I'm trying this year are looking promising. The swiss chard are robust little plants which I'm looking forward to eating. Same with the kale. I had to go pick up a new GFCI outlet for the koi pond this weekend and just happened to stroll down the plant isle at Lowes. They have these giant racks in the back full of clearance plants and they all just call to me "Save me!". So I took pity on three, rather healthy blackberry bushes. I've been wanting to add blackberry bushes and I couldn't resist the low $5 price tag. I told Sean every year I want to add 3 more bushes until we have a whole row along the back of the property. Same with the fruit trees. Maybe add two trees each year. Did I mention that my baby cherry trees have cherries on them this year?! How exciting. I'm all for letting the land provide food for me and my family. I've just decided I can't bite off too much or I get overwhelmed, so adding more each year is the way to go for me. The plan is to expand the garden by 5-10 feet each year too.

Sean got the new GFCI outlet installed by the koi pond (we have to put a new one in nearly every year for some reason). So now the waterfall is going again. Greta and I bought three large gold fish for the pond last week. They promptly disapeared and we assumed the Minions ate them. Have I mentioned those cats eat everything? Well when we were getting the pump going I saw a flash of orange so I think they might still be alive. I predict baby goldfish in about 4 weeks.

The kids have been having fun now that school is out. I try to keep them outside but after about half an hour they are whining to go back inside. I keep telling them it's going to be a long summer if they are crying to go inside when it's a lovely 80 degrees outside. While in town I picked up six bags of play sand and filled up their sandbox which seemed to work at keeping them entertained outside yesterday.

I hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What's Happening

I can't even believe that my kindergartener has three more days left of school. Three! Then I will have him and his sister home together all summer. I'm actually looking forward to it. Now, ask me this the beginning of August and I'm sure I'll be counting down the days until school starts up again....but for now I'm pumped. I'm so looking forward to sleeping in. As it is I get up at 6:30 and run around getting kids fed and clothed and out the door, so sleeping in is going to be heavenly. Greta also does better with her brother around to play with. Those two are really good together. I'm lucky.

After last weeks visit to the eye doctor I've had the awesome responsibility of getting eye drops into a three year old. Not just one or two drops but five drops. Five drops spread out throughout the day. It's been hell. About every two hours I have to all but sit on her to get these blasted drops in her eye. One of the drops is a steroid drop and the other four are anti-inflammatory drops.  We get to go back to the doc next Monday to make sure the mass in her eye is gone and at this rate it's not going to be. It's a mess.

The kids got to experience their first real tornado scare yesterday. They were not impressed. Actually they were downright terrified. We had to retire to the basement and dig out the battery powered weather radio. Electricity was blinking one and off and then settled on half power....if that makes sense. The lights were all dimmed, ceiling fans all going half speed. It was odd to say the least. Luckily no storm damage. We all cuddled up on one of the couches in the basement and played games on the tablet by the light of the lantern. I'm sure the kids will be talking about that experience for some time.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Great Grub Massacre of 2013.....or not

Every year in Spring and Fall I venture into the horse/goat house to clean it. I figured today was the day. It's quite the chore with all the old hay, pine shavings and manure layered up for six months. I got to use my new dump cart which made it all suck a little less. 

After the seventh and final load of nastiness I finally hit the bottom layer. Under that bottom layer I found a surprise. Not a "Oh wow, how neat" surprise. But rather a "Oh, that is disgusting" surprise. I turned over the last layer of old hay to find roughly 30 grubs digging their way through the dirt. It was the perfect habitat for grubs, nice and cool with fine loose dirt. So I did what any human being would do. I ran out of the horse shed and grabbed a bowl. Then I collected all 30 some grubs into the bowl. These were the biggest juiciest grubs I've ever seen before, some of the larger ones being the diameter of my thumb. Yuck!

I'm sure at this point you are saying to yourself "Why would anyone in their right mind collect 30+ grubs into a bowl?" Well if you are asking yourself this then you are definitely not a chicken owner. You see I've been collecting grubs from my daily trek out to the garden. Whenever I plant something I am usually finding at least one or two to feed to the baby chickens. They are slowing coming around to idea of eating bugs. Apparently it's a learned behavior, something they usually are taught by their mother. Me, being mother hen, has been trying to teach them the wonders of bug eating.....but alas I don't eat bugs so it's slow going.

So off I go with my big ol' bowl of grubs. They see me coming and stretch their little necks through the fence (they are still living in the dog kennel during the day, not old enough to integrate into the flock).

I'd like to say it would always be referred to as "The Great Grub Massacre of 2013" but the poor uneducated pullets didn't know what to think of the giant squirming grubs. I'd almost venture to say they were scared of them. It was a disappointment for me. I, being the chicken mom, wanted them to devour the disgusting mass of food I'd presented them. Oh well. I collected my grubs and tossed them in the hen house where they lasted exactly 2.8 seconds.

I tried.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day weekend. We, as usual, got quite a bit done. My parents took Wesley and myself out to a lovely Mother's Day brunch. It was nice spending the morning with my Mom and celebrating her being a super awesome Mom.

 The deck has officially been started. Yeah!  Sean got out there with posts and string and strung out the deck and then marked all the future footing spots. Then with the gas auger he dug 20 holes. I took the truck to Lowes and bought 20 cardboard tubes to insert in said holes and then fill with concrete for the footings for the deck. I can't express how excited I am to have a deck.

Since I was out in the truck I also stopped and picked up some straw bales for the garden. This year I'm trying out a different mulching method. First layer will be straw, then manure and hay. I'm hopeful the hay seeds won't sprout a crop of weeds this year if they can't reach the dirt. We'll see. I spent several hours planting the many many tomato, pepper and basil seedlings. I've gotten 20 tomato's planted and am tempted to call it a day. There are probably another 10-15 but I'm afraid I'm running out of garden room. Next year I'll have to be more selective and keep only the strong seedlings. Needless to say I should be rolling in tomato's this year (knock on wood).

Greta had a bit of a scare last week. She's had a spot on her eye for a few months, it's on her left eye and on the white part right next to her pupil. It kind of looks like a collection of blood vessels. I've kept an eye on it and thought if there was ever any change I'd take her in to the doctor otherwise I'd just wait until her yearly visit. Well she started saying that eye hurt the weekend before last so I set up an appointment with the pediatrician. He took a long look at it with a scope and said he'd feel better if we went to a pediatric ophthalmologist. He said it could be nothing but it could be uveitis or a form of arthritis. Let's just say I was a bit worried all last week.

So yesterday we went on a long drive to go see the specialist. They were running behind so we got to wait in the waiting room for 45 minutes. Greta asked me every 38 seconds if it was time for us to leave. Once we got in the room they preformed several normal eye tests to ensure she could see properly. Then they dilated her eyes. Before we even left that morning I sat her down and told her that if she was a good girl and did everything they asked then I would take her to Target on the way home and she could get a toy. So when that nurse started coming at her with eye spray to dilate her eyes, I quickly reminded her about our agreement and she calmed right down and let the nurse spray her eyes. She did so good and I'm proud of her. They looked in her eyes and felt around and turns out it's nothing to be worried about. The doctor said it's a benign mass probably due to allergies or trauma. She on some anti-inflammatory and steroid eye drops and we get to go back to the doc in two weeks. I'm just so happy it's nothing. Greta's happy she got a Barbie.

That's about all that's happening around here. Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Wednesday Write-Up

-They say gardening burns 272 calories an hour. I'd have to say it feels like a lot more. Over the past four days I've spent about nine hours out there digging, raking and planting the hundreds of seeds I bought back in February. I forgot how much work that was! After laying out the garden with an online garden design tool, I then had to find a way to keep that design in the actual garden. I thought about string or flags but ultimately settled on baling twine. You know, the string that keeps hay bales together with? Well I have about 4 million miles of it and finally I have a good use for it. I flagged out the corners of each bed and strung the twine in between. I figure I'll remove the twine once the plants start growing and I can tell where each bed is by the plant growing in it. At this moment I've got 3/4 of it planted, with the last quarter mostly being tomatoes. I'm enjoying the walkway through the middle of the garden, it's sure nice having somewhere to walk that I know won't squash anything.

-The tomatoes, basil and peppers are being hardened off this week. It's not a good idea to just take your seedlings and plant them directly into the garden without a "hardening off period". It's a time when the little plants can get accustomed to outdoor wind in our case. So all this week they are spending most of the day outside and then brought in at night. I've started in the shade and will eventually be in a sheltered sunny spot. I hope to have them out in the garden next week sometime.

-Another thing that is leaving my house besides the seedlings? The chickens! They are officially in the hen house now. They haven't been integrated yet since they can't eat the laying hen food until they are 16 weeks old (too much calcium too young can cause unexplained deaths when they are older). So for now they are in a small dog kennel in the hen house at night and transported to the big outdoor dog kennel during sunny days. With all this daily handling they are becoming quite the tame chickens.

-Last but not least I shall leave you with a picture I snapped yesterday. I was talking to my mom on the phone and looked outside to check on the kids who were playing in the back yard. I found them both with their pants down attempting the pee on a tree. Actually it looked like Wesley was trying to teach Greta how to pee on a tree. Let's just say it was not successful. She did manage to fill her shoes though. *smile* Child rearing is always a treat.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Cake Day

I turned 34 years old last week. As it turns out it was one of the more memorable birthdays for me. This year I told Sean I wanted to go do something, just him and I, to celebrate my cake day. I wanted to get away without the kids and I didn't want to spend much time driving to get there. Then, low and behold, I saw a commercial for a casino not 20 minutes away that was just recently finished. Bingo! I called and made a reservation at the attached hotel and off we went yesterday for a fun filled outing. The kids were excited because Rich was watching them (who will endlessly play board games with them) and they got to have donuts for breakfast. Even Greta, who normally makes quite the fuss when I leave, gave me a hug and a "see ya later Mom".

We checked into the hotel and took off to find something to eat at one of the restaurants in the casino. After eyeing the buffet and the line of people with trays (no thanks) we decided to try to get into the really nice restaurant. I thought they required reservations but turns out they weren't too busy and we got in after a short wait. We don't often get to eat in this caliber of a place and it was quite the treat. One of the coolest things I saw there was a wine bar (I think that's what it was anyways), it was a row of wine bottles in a refrigerated display with a little spout at the top. A small digital display was above each bottle indicating how much each glass costs. You inserted your credit card or casino card and it pumped your glass full of wine. I must be completely sheltered because I found it utterly fascinating.

We gorged ourselves on a 5 course meal including bacon wrapped shirmp, lobster bisque, cedar grilled salmon with asparagus and some amazing molted lava cake. We even got to enjoy a mariachi band that sang a few songs in honor of Cinco de Mayo. It was a memorable meal.

The casino was an experience all in itself. I have never been gambling so this was a first for me. I have to say the people watching experience was far more enjoyable than the gambling. I'm a tight wad so to slowly give all your money to a machine wasn't my idea of a great time. If there is an art to working the slots I certainly don't have it. Sean on the other hand was pretty good. He turned $5 into $20 in no time. He lost it in the end but it took awhile to burn through what little money we brought for gambling. I have to admit the smoking got to me after awhile, but gambling was a fun while the money lasted.  I hope we can make it a tradition every year to hit the casino and have a fun night with my husband.

I don't know if I mention it enough, but my father-in-law is awesome (and not just because he watched my two rug rats). Rich was out today welding up another hay rack feeder for me. He made me two of them for my birthday. I mentioned how I wish I had some way to feed the horses and goats their hay without it being on the floor (which is a great way for the animals to get more intestinal worms). He surprised me by making me one that hooks on the fence. They work great and the animals have been using them without any hesitation. I'm hoping it reduces the mess too. Thanks so much Rich, you are one talented man.

Thanks so much to everyone that made this a great birthday. Especially my parents who brought over pizza and a yummy lemon cake (you did a fabulous frosting job Dad). Thanks again guys!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The grass eaters

One of the many projects slated for this year is fencing in the walnut grove so the goats can graze and thus, hopefully, reduce our mowing time. It's going to be a big project and I can honestly say nobody is excited about doing it. For one, it's about 2.5-3 acres and, two, it has to be goat proof. That means you just can't string a single line of electric wire and call it a day. It's lots of t-posts and wood posts, field wire, clearing overgrown trees and a lot of labor. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the projects I want to get done but then I remember the old saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." So after the deck is done I'm going to go buy t-posts and slowly get all of those in the ground. One step at a time.

I know the goats can hardly wait. So for now I occasionally let them out in the back yard to go eat yummy weeds. This is doable now but as soon as I get the garden seeded, the flower pots planted, trellis with pole beans going and fruit trees leafed out it will be the end of the goats in the back yard. Have you ever witnessed a goat beeline for a fruit tree? I try to head them away but once they see them it's like a kid in a candy store. They don't just tenderly eat the leaves off of the baby trees, they eat the whole branch....until it's just a stick coming out the ground.  So I've made the decision to transplant the baby fruit trees into the front yard away from the marauding goats. That's on the agenda for this weekend (along with seeding the garden).

Very difficult to photograph friendly goats, one is always in your face.

After the frustrations of dragging three full grown nubians away from my fragile baby cherry trees I decided grazing time was over and tried in vain the get them back into the corral with the miniature horses. I had to enlist Sean's help and a small tub of feed. In the commotion Rocky, aka Satan the miniature horse from hell, decided to bite me on my hand. In the past when he's bit me I've been wearing heavy coveralls and the bites were on my thighs or upper arms and resulted in a purple mark on the skin. He's never broke the skin until now. The little punk got me really good this time, I could see him laughing as he pranced off. He hasn't been laughing this week though. He's been learning some respect from the whip whenever he gets too near me. I'm almost thinking it's time to enlist some professional help. I have no idea how to cure a horse from biting. I certainly can't have the kids playing around him. And no, I'm not Craigslisting him either. I'm not dumping my problems on someone else.

Since it was such a nice day I got the tortoises out in their enclosure. Cecil, the leopard tort, has gotten so big I can no longer pick him up with one hand. He got to ride outside on my hip. I figure it's only a matter of a year or two before Billy Bob is bigger than Cecil. BB is grown a lot over the winter. They did a great job off eating everything that has grown in their enclosure. My mother-in-law brought up some cactus pads for me to plant in their pen and only one made it through the winter successfully. I was so happy it lived and was thriving. Apparently the tortoises thought the same thing. Ugh.

Billy Bob getting big!

Cecil, the hip rider (don't mind my nasty painting clothes, we painted the south side of the house).

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Wesley Week

Oh what a week! As the school year winds down the kindergarten activities sky rocket. My parents joined us Monday night for Wesley's program. He was sure pumped to show us all the songs they've been working on. I can hardly believe the school year is coming to a close. My little guy has learned so much this year. He's making great strides in reading and seems to really enjoy math (things I certainly don't remember learning in kindergarten!). I'm excited to keep working with him this summer on reading and sharpen those skills for this fall and first grade.

The kindergarten class had a field trip to the zoo planned but the weather has been so unpredictable this spring (hello, it's sleeting and 37 degrees right now) that it's been rescheduled twice. They finally decided on short notice to go Tuesday since it was the only beautiful day on forecast this week. It was a beautiful day, 80+ degrees and sunny. The kids had a wonderful time. Each of the three classes tie dyed shirts in different colors so they would be easier to keep together. Ha! Have you ever tried to keep tabs on 16 five and six year olds? It was a bit crazy and at the end of the day I don't think I've ever been that exhausted. I can see why there is only one school field trip a year.