Monday, January 27, 2014

A Brief Reprieve

Yesterday was a beautiful, 60 degree day. No wind, all sun. Just splendid. The kids and I were outside soaking it up since today has been so very very cold. We all agree as long as the weather keeps fluctuating from warm to cold (and not just staying this horrid bitter cold) we'll be able to manage. I do believe we are all counting down the days until Spring.

And until then we will escape, when we can, to the great outdoors and watch the kids ride their scooters up and down the driveway. Thanks Aunt Jessica for the scooters, they are a hit!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Wednesday Write-Up

-I have pink eye. Again. That is all I'm going to say about that. *sob*

-I've been disappointing my pedometer lately with the sad little number of steps I'm getting in a day. It must be known how hard it can be to attain those 10,000 daily steps in winter. Some days it feels nearly impossible. But I've made it a priority again this month and I've been making great strides in my activity levels. At first I made a daily date with the dreadmill.....I mean treadmill. As long as I had a new magazine or game on the tablet I was good to go. I'd get on it for 30-45 minutes at the highest incline. That would ensure I'd get all my steps. Then even that became a complete bore. So my new goal is to just get moving more throughout the day. I turn on a little Luke Bryan on iTunes and Greta and I dance. Or while I make dinner I jog in place. Sometimes I race Wesley to the South fence and back (the kid beats me more often than not). Occasionally during the day I'll start jumping as high as I can fifty times. The kids think I've officially gone off the deep end I'm sure. Although now they've stopped asking what I'm doing and ask if I've gotten my steps for the day. All these crazy things I do in a day add up and at the end of the day I get my 10,000 steps (which is five miles by the way). It feels good and it's so much more fun than the treadmill.

-Wesley is doing great in school, I'm really proud of his progress this year. He's becoming a reading pro. We are reading a book a day in an effort to increase his confidence in reading. Keep it up dude!

-Greta's newest hobby is going outside and collecting odd shaped branches and twigs and transforming them into her "stick men". She glues googly eyes on them and "paints" them with glitter glue to make clothing. One even dons a hair bow. Naturally she prefers to play with them rather than the oodles of store bought dolls and toys. She's pretty creative for being four years old I think.

-Lately I've been getting a case of the munchies in the evening around 8 pm. I got in the habit of getting a big  snack nearly every night and I knew I needed to quit it. So I decided to start having a nightly cup of decaf coffee. The warmth filled up my stomach and stopped the cravings. It worked like a charm. Then I was reading online different ways to flavor your coffee without all that store bought artificial stuff. There are a lot of interesting ideas out there, for instance adding a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the coffee grounds. That one is delicious. The key is to not add too much which makes it overpowering. But my favorite idea, which is a very simple idea, is to add cocoa powder to your mug then pour the hot coffee over it. I tried adding cocoa to the coffee grounds and it plugged up the filter making it very slow to drain through. But cocoa in the mug makes this lovely hot chocolate decaf coffee which is delish in the evening as sort of a guilt free dessert. I was just using plain old baking cocoa up until this morning when my shipment from Amazon arrived. I decided to order some organic cacao powder. Not familiar with cocao? It's got a great flavor and now I'm getting all sorts of health benefits from it as well. 

*Cacao contains more antioxidant flavonoids than red wine, green tea and blueberries *Instantly transforms smoothies, desserts, pies, and other recipes into the healthiest chocolate *Great source of magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, copper and potassium

Here is the stuff I got on Amazon. All around good stuff to add to your diet. It's got a decent amount of protein per serving as well ( 6 grams). Anyways, thought I'd share.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

WiiU Fit Time

I've got to admit that we've been thoroughly enjoying the new WiiU game console. It's winter outside so I don't feel too bad about sitting around playing games with the kids. But perhaps I've been sitting around too much this winter because I've gained a few pounds (six to be exact) and it's time to up my activity level and shed the winter weight. This is pretty typical for me, I gain a few pounds in the winter and lose them in the spring when I'm outside working my hiney off. But it's time to get exercising more. I've been bored with my workouts on the treadmill and Bowflex and need something new to get me moving. So, I saw that the WiiU has a Fit game that comes with a balance board and pedometer. It was just released on the 10th so last week I started shopping around so I could preorder it. I went to my "go to" store, Amazon and it was $89 with Prime 2 day shipping. I read the reviews and one of the them said don't preorder it here, it's $65 if you preorder it from Best Buy. Now, I can't stand Best Buy. I tend to avoid that store like the plague but to save $25 bucks I suppose I could give em my money. It's not like I had to actually drive to the store, it was delivered free.

So on Wednesday I received my WiiU Fit box. My parents have the balance board so I'm familiar with it and know how much fun it is.

The Fit Meter (a pedometer) comes with it and syncs with the console. You can choose a walking course and it uses the steps you acquired throughout the day to finish the course. They also have an altitude option where it measures how many steps up stairs and hills you go. It's pretty cool. I know of one gal who wears a pedometer as well as her husband and they compete to see who can finish the walking course first from the steps they acquire through the day. That would be fun.

My parents came over last night for dinner and we decided to do some quality family Wii time while they were here. My kids love the Wii and Greta, in particular, is fearless when it comes to trying new balance games on there. One balance game is the flying chicken  where you use the balance board and flap your arms to fly from one platform to another. Needless to say it's pretty entertaining to watch. Here is my digital  father the chicken.

And here is my real father the chicken. I took video but I'm sure he'd appreciate me not sharing it.

We rounded out the evening with dancing (in which my father kicked my hiney, I'm no dancer) and a few rounds of bowling in which Wesley stole the show. We'll have to take the kid bowling for real, he's a natural.
So, the WiiU Fit game is a hit in our house and the kids want to play it all the time. I figure since it's getting them moving it can't be all that bad.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Moulting and Feather Picking

I question keeping chickens some days. Most of those days fall in the winter. Don't get me wrong, I like chickens. I like watching their crazy antics and I most definitely enjoy their tasty eggs. But this winter I am having some issues you could say. This winter my hens decided to start moulting. Winter is not usually the time of year that you encounter half feathered hens running around. But a few of mine have their internal clocks all screwed up and somehow they decided the best time of the year to loose their feathers would be when the temperatures are near 0 degrees. It's been frustrating to say the least.

You might remember I added five new pullets last Spring to replace the hens I've lost over the past few years bringing my little flock back up to eight hens. Two of the new ones and one of the senior hens have several bare spots on their backs and rear ends. Those three all somewhat resemble this.

Part of it is moulting and the other part is that when the new growth comes in it is quickly picked off by the other hens. Feather picking has always been an issue in my coop. They don't ever pick each other to death but once a hen is bare it's very difficult for her to regrow her feathers. My laydies are cooped up, not allowed to free range (due to far too many predators) so I believe they get a little bored. I doubt lack of protein is a factor, as it sometimes can be in feather picking. They get an 18% protein feed along with black oil sunflower seeds. But something has to be done to get feathers back on these poor hens since it is, after all, the middle of a very cold winter.

So I went to the local farm and ranch store to look for a solution. The gal there directed me to this stuff:

It's called Pick-No-More Cover-Up Lotion. It was around $7 and it smelled like tea tree oil (which I love) and was the consistency of chocolate pudding.  The hens didn't mind me smearing this all over their rear ends.

I went inside and came out later to discover they had eaten it off of their backs. All three were as bare butted as before. They looked at me like "come on lady give us more of that tasty pudding!" Dang chickens. So I did a little research online this time before returning to the store. Google informed me that I should try either pine tar or Blue Kote to prevent feather picking. So this time I picked up the store's version of Blue Kote.

My theory was this product would stain their white skin dark so that it wasn't like a big white bulls-eye for the other chickens to pick at. Perhaps if their backs were a consistent dark color it would be like camouflage. Couldn't hurt right? So each hen was picked up and sprayed about every three days. Here is a before and after on my young Sex Link pullet.

It did help it not be so noticeable of a bare spot. It think anyways. This has been an ongoing project since around the middle of December (so nearly a month now). The results are in! The Blue Kote is working although slowly and only on one hen. The senior Silver Laced Wyandotte hen who has had a big bare spot from feather picking (and being low gal on the totem pole her whole life) is growing new pin feathers. I was delighted to see this. She has, literally, been barebacked for two years. Here is her before and after.

So for now, the project is still on going. I have faith that the two young hens will eventually grow their feathers back. Probably around the time that Spring hits and the weather warms up. For now those two get put in a dog kennel and stay in the warmish side of the shop (Hubby's side) on those bitterly cold nights. These animals will always be a learning experience for me. As soon as I feel like I have it figured out a new challenge arises. But I suppose that's the fun in it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

It's Alive!

When we were all home over the Christmas break Sean was able to do some serious work on the Range Rover in the shop. It was a work in progress in which we weren't willing to invest a lot of money into until we knew there was nothing terminally wrong with the car. For instance, it needed a new battery and new tires among many other things but if the transmission was bad we didn't want to invest the money in it. So Sean has been tinkering around on it working on various systems to ensure that it was "healthy" enough for further investment.

The brakes were questionable. They had been sitting for at least six years and needed some help. I think I sat in that car for a total of 4 hours doing Sudoku puzzles while pushing on that brake pedal while Sean bled them. That car has a rather intricate braking system and all that bleeding never produced any results. I could push that pedal all the way to the ground with no resistance. So Sean diagnosed it and he ordered a new hydraulic brake unit and whoa-la it now has brakes! That opened the flood gates, it was time to get that car road worthy. I bought a battery on Saturday and tires were ordered this morning. We took it out for it's maiden voyage up and down the driveway yesterday several times (the tires were cracked and not in road worthy condition or we would have gone further). The kids piled in the back and had fun.

My mom kidded around that now that the Rover is up and running we'll not have another snowy/icy day this winter to try it out on. She's probably right! It's going to be a beautiful week of weather in the 50's.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cabin fever

The cabin fever is starting to set in. I'm getting that twitch from having nothing to do. Well, nothing fun to do. I always have things to do. Chores and what not. With kids and dogs there is always something to clean or put away. Yesterday I woke up and decided it was a day to get out of the house. Greta is always on board when I want to go out. She's my little mini me in most respects. She loves to go out to eat and loves to go shopping. Nearby there aren't many good options for going out to eat but there is always Panera. We love Panera. She gets her buttered noodles and a cookie (hello carb fest!) and I can get my Mediterranean Veggie sandwich and vegatable soup (you'd think I was a vegetarian). Mmmm I wish I could have it again for lunch today.

We bummed around the library for an hour collecting new books, movies and WiiU games. Every week I get 20 new children's books that we read before bedtime. I've been doing this for years now and nearly every week I come home with a book or two that I've gotten before. They get a kick out of good ol' forgetful mom. How am I supposed to keep track of the hundreds if not thousands of books we've checked out. I assume we'll get to the point where we've read them all.

Then, of course, we stopped by the thrift store to see if there were any fun treasures to bring home. We found a brand new unique Disney puzzle that kept the kids entertained for over an hour last night.  We've never attempted a round puzzle before. They did great, only needing a little help. It was a nice way to squash the winter cabin fever.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I'm happy to report that Dym, the goat, started eating again over the night and woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. I'm starting to wonder if she's smarter than I think she is. Perhaps when the weather takes a turn for the worse she knows she can get a one way ticket to the heated garage if she just stops eating and shivers a little. It worked for her but now she's back in her pen all snuggled up with her big beefy offspring. She'll be plenty warm tonight.

Mucking out the garage from their 24 hour stay was not much fun. How three creatures can create that much nastiness is beyond me. I appreciate that I have a very understanding husband that pulled his "precious" out of the garage and into the cold so that my old goat wouldn't die. The funny part of this is now, that the garage is goat free and cleaned out, we can't even get his corvette back into the garage because it got stuck in the snow just pulling it out. It is so not a winter vehicle.

School starts back up again today and I'm secretly happy about it. It was nice having everyone home for over two weeks but it's time to get back to reality. Little minds need to get back to socializing and learning. Mom needs her kid free break again too. I'm getting the urge to do a little spring cleaning (a tad bit early but when you get the urge you go with it). I need to clean out my closets and donate or sell the stuff I haven't worn in a season. Perhaps I can earn a little money for my trampoline fund.  I've been saving gift cards and spare money in a envelope for a new trampoline in the spring. I don't know if the kids or I am more excited about a trampoline (probably me). We nearly have enough!

That's about all that's happening around here.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baby, it's cold outside

This summer I had read how The Farmer's Almanac was predicting this winter to be one of the worst winters in 50 years. Then I ran across another article about how the conditions were perfect for an absolutely pitiful winter. I'm starting to think they were correct. What a nasty winter so far. The only silver lining I can find is that these bitter low temperatures are going to kill off all of those grasshopper eggs and I might have a decent garden this summer. Mild winters suck when it comes to pests. So I'm clinging on to that hope as I dress up in 12 layers and trudge out to feed the animals twice a day.

The weather dude is predicting tonight's low to be -2 degrees with wind chills into the -30's. Yikes. I've done a few preparations to ensure all the outside animals survive. First thing I've done is carry each yowling cat inside and up to Wesley's bathroom. So now we have three rather loud cats (who are clearly not appreciative of my efforts to keep them warm) crammed into his little bathroom.

The horses do great in this weather. Give em extra prairie hay and they are good to go. Naturally Dym, the nubian goat, decided to stop eating this morning. Ruminates do great in the cold. The way they digest their food works as a furnace like no other animal. But this all comes crashing down when they stop feeding the furnace. I put her coat on her, wormed her (which I did late November too so it might not be worm related) and gave her some molasses. She ate the molasses and picked at some alfalfa pellets but wouldn't eat hay or a flake of alfalfa (which is very unlike her). I had a talk with her and told her she'd better start eating or she'd probably die tonight. Oh how I wish I had a heated barn for nights like tonight. But I suppose I'd take a heated garage instead. So after watching her shiver for a few hours I moved the cars outside and moved her and her grown kids into the garage off the house. Right now two space heaters are going and they are slowly warming her up. It's up to a toasty 36 degrees in there now. Here's hoping she starts eating again.

So at this current moment we have all three dogs in the laundry room, barn cats in the bathroom, goats in the garage and two chickens in the insulated side of the shop (shhh... hubby doesn't know about this one). The chickens decided January was a perfect time to go through a hard molt. Two of the eight have lost most of their feathers. Stupid chickens. That's a whole nother post.

As for us we are all hunkered down inside today and tomorrow. Hubby has to go back to work tomorrow after two weeks off. We'll miss him. It's been an incredibly relaxing and enjoyable break. Santa got us a WiiU this year (thanks Santa you're the best ;-) and we've been having fun with it. I found an after Christmas deal on a fleece pajama set and I've literally been living in them for the past week. So warm and comfy. Stay warm everyone.