Thursday, April 30, 2009

It would have been a shame to waste a perfectly good windy day

It was so windy that some of the first clothes I hung up were almost dry by the time I got the last of the clothes hung up. Remember the old time rule when hanging up your clothes: put your unmentionable in the middle of the clothes line so the neighbors don't see them!

Sooo big

The little chicks are roosting on the edge of their brooder box. Time to get them a deeper one. It is amazing how fast they grow, every day they have more and more adult feathers. I talked to a very interesting man the other day that raised Gold'n Plump chickens for 45 years. He said their broilers are ready to be processed at six weeks, five days. It must seem like they grow like a wild fire. Our chicks are a laying breed so it will take them muchlonger. It takes five months until a hen starts laying eggs. If they are roosters (we don't know yet what sex they are), about three to four months until they ready to be processed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A simple joy in life

It is hard to be in bad mood when eating popcorn. I don't think I have ever been mad while eating popcorn. Eating it alone just doesn't seem right. Perhaps because it is kind of a party food, usually made for a movie or when we are going to play a game. Nikki, our dog, really gets into it too. She sits on full alert when we are eating hoping we will fumble a piece. We love popcorn, but we don't eat it as much as we use to because Dancer wears braces. Popcorn is a no-no with braces. Before she got braces on, they gave us a list of food not to eat while wearing them. When we spied popcorn on that list we went crazy eating enough popcorn to get us through the next couple of years. Sometimes, though, you just need a bowl of butter covered, fluffy, white, oh so good and crunchy, little poofs of corn. Dancer still has a few kernels, but doesn't have as much as she use to, which takes a lot of the fun out of eating for the rest of us. We tried that Puffcorn stuff after she got her braces on, but it wasn't the same.

Tonight we enjoyed a couple of bowls. It rained all day and was gloomy so a little pick-me-up was in order. Being true homeschoolers, we couldn't just pop the corn without a lesson in there somewhere to justify making it. One bowl was made with melted shortening and one with coconut oil. Then we taste tested them to decide which was the best tasting. The coconut oil won hands down. Of course, for scientific sake, Dancer had to have some.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Moved to the summer house

Half the year the chickens live in the barn and the other half they live in the outside coop or the summer house. Last fall we moved them all into the barn. You can see that adventure here: They can't spend the winter outside or they would all freeze to death. But now the temps are warmer and there is enough day light for them to continue laying. There needs to be 14 hours of day light for a chicken to lay an egg or something inside of them tells them to shut down production. In the winter we leave a light on so they continue to lay year around. They don't lay as many with the light as they do in the height of the summer, but we do get a fair amount.

The move went much smoother than we were expecting. They were out of food so were hungry. A little handful of corn and oats brought them over and we were able to just bend down and scoop them up. That tactic worked well for about the first ten of them. The chickens are use to us being in the coop for egg collection and watering and feeding chores. Many of them also seem to enjoy a little pet now and again. Picking them up though is another matter, they tend to squawk which makes the others take notice that something is up. After we had caught a few more, the rooster started to realize that his hen count was quickly diminishing and he became agitated and whipped the hens up. He was the next to move out to the summer house and with him out of the barn coop the remaining hens didn't put up such a big fuss. As soon as they got out in the new house they started on their suntans. They were laying in the sunny spot of the dirt and rolling around for a dust bath. It seemed like they remembered when they lived out there last year.

We left three broody hens behind in the barn in hopes that they will hatch the eggs they have been sitting on. They have four nests going and don't always sit on the same one every day so we will see if they are successful in their hatching efforts or not. If not, then they will go outside in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Shrek's bathtub

When Spark was just a little guy he loved the movie Shrek. You hate it compared to how much he loved it (we love that line even though it is the wrong movie). He probably watched it at least 75 - 100 times as it was almost the only movie he watched as a toddler. One of his first words was Shrek and then he just kept repeating it until we thought it may be the only word he was going to say.
By our house there is this pool of water that runs off a field with a drainage pipe. To us, squint at it if you have to, it looks like Shrek's bathtub. It always has icky, dirty water with a layer of scum on the top. In the summer when it is warmer there is a thick, slimy, foamy looking scum on the top so it is easy to imagine Shrek sitting in there and brushing his teeth. So the other day we are talking to the neighbors about something that was down by Shrek's bathtub. They looked at us like, "what, are you daft" and asked where this bathtub is. And we couldn't believe that they don't call it Shrek's bathtub. Some people just have no imagination.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh

Gloomy sky and cold rain is the theme of the day. It is so cold that when we came out of church this morning Spark broke out in song - Jingle Bells. A dear lady in the parking lot said "I think you have the wrong season!" I don't know, it could snow.

We really do need the rain. We are in a burning ban where starting a fire, even a recreational one, is a $1,000 fine. What we don't need is cold rain and 40 degree temps. The potatoes and peas that we have in will rot in the ground instead of sprouting. The ducks have been out in the garden digging up the potatoes and rummaging in the dirt where the peas are planted so they need all help they can get to make it into plants. Hurry summer!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Everyday "the boys" (our baby goats) come outside to get some exercise and wear off some energy so they can be nicer to each other. A lot like kids need to do when they get squirrelly. The boys are over by the corral and Dancer yells "The boys are eating the hostages!" "What" queries The Dad. "The hostages, the boys are eating them" she yells again starting to run across the yard at the goats. "Do you mean the hostas?" "Yeah, whatever they are called" she shouts over her shoulder as drags the boys away and saves the hostages hostas. Of course, they ran right back so we took the opportunity to snap a picture since there wasn't much greenery left by this time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Birthday

We traveled to Grandma's house today to celebrate her 80th birthday. On Monday is Grandpa's 83rd birthday. This is the mom's parents. We brought cake, they had a French silk pie and we gave Grandma a box of candy so there was plenty of sugar to go around.

This is their dog Missy. We took a picture of her because she is super cute but she has to be tied when we visit. She weights well over 100 pounds and gets so excited when she see kids that she jumps. She is no match for either of the kids.

On the lake were hundreds of pelicans. Grandpa said that most days there are even more. It was really a sight to see, but in the all picture they only turned out as dots on the water. This is a picture Dancer took of one that was just taking off making it easier to see. In the back ground is the Girl Scout camp that the mom was a life guard at during the summers. Grandma and Grandpa use to joke that she was probably one of the few kids who could go to camp all summer and still see her house.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Left behind

We met up with some friends at a park this afternoon so the kids could play. They had a wonderful time on the play set, playing with the little ones (Dancer loves playing with babies and a couple of her friends have little sisters), digging in huge pond of mud, wading and looking for frog eggs in a little creek, scootering around the walking path, and just chatting with each other. It is also nice to get a chance to chat with other adults who have been friends for years. A bit before we were ready to go Spark goes to the car and brings out Jeffery.

Here is Jeffery. He goes every where with us and is usually right by Sparks side. He loves him so much he even has a his own blog to tell about his adventures. You can find it here

Spark brings him over and I said give me Jeffery so you don't loose him because I knew what a dilemma it would be if he was lost. I sat him on the bench next to me while talking to a mom and when it was time to go just got up and finished talking on the way to the car. You just know where this is going don't you?

We get home, make dinner so it is ready for Dad to get up and eat and get out the door for work. We had barely finished dinner, I was making Dad a lunch, and Spark announces that he doesn't know where Jeffery is. I know where he is, hopefully I know, he's on the park bench.

I grab the car keys and we zoom out the door without even saying good bye to Dad. We drive to the park which is a long ten miles away. All the way I am praying over and over, please let him be there, please let him be there, please let him be there, please don't disappoint Spark for my mistake. I am also preparing Spark for what I hope the out come will not be. If someone took him home he will have a new adventure and I am sure he will be loved and taken very good care of. You still have his web page, Jeffery is a Webkinz, so you can still play with him. We can try to find a new Jeffery on Ebay. Mixing in a bit of, this is why I tell you to leave him in the car, this is why when we find something I tell you to just leave it because someone will probably be back for it and I am so sorry I forgot him. I forgive you already Spark tells me through his tears. Well, he may have forgiven me but I will beat myself up for weeks over this one.

Two and half hours after we last left we pull up to the very, very busy park. I look over to where I was sitting and I see a little ear flapping on the bench. Spark was out of the car and up to the bench and back in the car tightly clutching Jeffery so fast I don't even know if his feet touched the ground. Thank you, thank you, thank you God I send up. He gets in the car and although his face is still full of tears and his eyes are bright red, he has a big smile. I tell him he should give a pray of thanksgiving. Right away he say "Deo Gratias." Even in all the turmoil he remembers his Latin lessons. That is my little scholar!

From now on Jeffery is going to stay much closer to home and not come out of the car if he does go with. If some one had told me before I was a mom that I would be so concerned about a stuffed animal I would have thought they were nuts. Oh how parenthood changes us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Homeschool baseball

We are very blessed that in the area we live there are a lot of homeschoolers. In the group we belong to there are over 200 families. This many people make it very easy to offer sports. A family will plan the time and place, send out an email and people show up. The parents chip in with coaching, they are usually different parents every week because of schedules, bring equipment and it works out very well. Tonight there must have been about 70 homeschool kids that came. Next week 70 kids could come and half of them could be different kids. The kids love it because there is a good chance that at least a few of their friends will come and if they don't they just make some new ones. Spark has made a new friend this year, a girl that looks to be about his age, 2nd grade. They were deep in conversation last week and when I asked what they were talking about he said, "gardening and soup." Now do you suppose that is what 2nd graders talk about in public school?

We have this sport setting on our camera to take action pictures. I am trying really hard to master using this setting and so tonight at baseball was a perfect opportunity. I took 114 photos, it takes three a second, and got a few good ones. As you can see from some of these that I still have some learning to do as they are not as in focus as I would like.

Dancer up to bat. I was excited with this one as the camera caught the ball just as it was about to connect with the bat.

Leaving home to start around the bases.

Spark was on the other team and as she went around he jumped in her way. Aren't little brothers great?

Coming into home to score a point. They don't really keep score, they line up and when everyone has had a turn to bat then they switch sides. Tonight they had a chance to each be up at bat three times.

Spark just starting his swing.

Spark really getting into it. Got a picture of the ball as it was coming off the bat.

High tailing it to first base.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A little bit of fame

Dancer got her picture in a national dance magazine! It was so exciting today when the magazine came and she found her picture. We knew it was going to be in the magazine we just didn't know what month it would be.

This is her second time in a national magazine. The first time was when she was a baby in Taste of Home. The Dad's mother was one of the people they highlighted one month and we were in the picture with her.

It's not like the cover of Vogue, but hey, we are excited.

Monday, April 20, 2009

We had a first today

We actually saw a rabbit, Runtidunt, give birth. There have been many, many litters of kits born here and we have never had the privilege of witnessing a birth. Most often they have them sometime between when we close up the barn for the night and when we go out again in the morning. A few times we have been in the barn, gone off to do something else and when we return there will have been a birth. Sometimes we aren't even aware that they have had babies as we try to resist the urge to reach in and feel around in the nests for fear they will reject the babes if we do. We just assume that the big puff of fur they pull out for the babies to keep warm in actually has some babes in it. But this time we were there! The birth wasn't too terribly exciting, but the fact that we saw it was.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planting potatoes

We just couldn't take it anymore and had to plant something, anything, in the garden. Potatoes are a pretty safe bet this time of year in our growing zone so we put in a couple of rows. We have, however, had them freeze as late as Memorial Day. If they have a good start though they come right back and catch up to where they would have been if they hadn't froze in a few weeks.

We bought seed potatoes a few weeks back and were all ready to get started. Dancer cut them up leaving a couple of eyes on each piece. After cutting potatoes it is said to be best to let them sit for a few days to callus over, this helps to ward off mold and diseases. Impatience was the name of game for us today and we put some of them in the ground freshly cut. The rest we will let callus. We have had success with both way of planting.

After Christmas if I have any potatoes that get too soft to use, they go in the cool part of the basement to grow eyes and await planting. This potato really went to town and has already grown a few little tubers. This is the first time we have ever had this happen and thought it was pretty neat.

By the time the kids and I got out to the garden The Dad had already tilled two rows, dug holes and planted most of the potatoes.
Spark put in a few, eye side up. It is rabbit poo in the hole to give them a good start. Fresh rabbit poo won't burn plants so it can be used right from under the cages and doesn't have to compost. If you garden and don't have rabbits, try to find someone who does. We have people calling to see if we have any extra they can get.
Like father, like son. They are covering the potatoes about three and half to four inches deep.
The hardest part is waiting for them to grow!

We could have been at a castle

Gargoyles perched on the look out guarding the buildings
Grand rock entrance ways
Granite steps with massive solid wood doors

Shoot your arrows at the enemy from here and be protected from incoming fire
Stone engravings tucked away around door corners
This wasn't a castle. It is actually a university campus where Dancer had a dance competition. It doesn't seem that buildings are built with such grandeur and detail anymore.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From dull to dazzling

Dancer took a plain pot and embellished it with paint, glass stones and buttons.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


A couple of chicks have made a successful voyage out of their eggs. We will leave the incubator going a few more days with the hopes that a few more will emerge.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maple syrup - Part 2

After hours of cooking down all the maple sap we ended up with one and half beautiful jars of golden maple syrup. We had some for lunch on pancakes and tonight on ice cream. Today we only got about a gallon of sap, compared to five yesterday, so we think the trees are going to be done. The season for making syrup is when it is below freezing at night and then warm during the days like in late February or March. Yesterday must have just been an odd temp combination that it was dripping off the trees.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Surprise maple syruping

This morning when we went out to throw the Kong Wubba for the dog to exercise there was something plopping on our heads. We look around and here the maple trees are just dripping with sap. A few of the trees had so much that almost the entire trunk was wet with sap. We had never tapped any of our trees before but have seen it done. A local monastery has a huge, hands on, maple syrup festival were they make hundreds of gallons every spring and we have attended the event several times so knew how to do it. Spark is drilling a hole in the tree. There was so much sap that as soon as a hole, about an inch deep, was drilled the sap just came pouring out of it. We don't have any equipment for sap collection so we took the insides out of pens and used the tube part. Dancer is hammering, lightly, the pen into the tree. We tipped them down a little bit to make the sap run faster. There was a lot of finger licking going on. Spark said the trees were like candy trees because in a couple spots the sap had gotten so thick from drying on the tree that it was like soft maple candy hanging on the bark. Our consensus was that the trees are clean so we tried some. It was very, very tasty.
We did have one metal tube, from I don't know what so very unscientific, and that one ran the sap the best. From all corners of the yard came the sound thwamp, thwamp, thwamp when the bowls were empty. It was tree music!

To collect the sap we placed bowls straight under the taps and they have been catching almost all of it. When we collect it from the bowls we are straining it through a milk filter because the bugs are also loving the sweet liquid. So far we have gathered about five gallons. We have cooked down two gallons and got around a cup of syrup. It is exciting that we can make something so good from a resource right in our back yard.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Benches and bags

The kids 4 H group had their meeting today and part of it was project day. Each member made a bench and a bag. It was very well organized and each person had both projects done in an hour and a half.
Dancer working on her bench
Dancer pinning the casing on her bag
The kids sitting on their benches with their bags. I guess you can't see the benches but since no one fell to the floor the construction of them must have been pretty sound!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Garden daydreams

Grandma and Grandpa came to go out to Easter dinner with us and they brought this fabulous book from my childhood.

It is Gardens Through the Ages by Marcelle Verite published in 1963. I remember sitting and looking over it's pictures time and again. I was a child when black and white t.v. with one channel was the norm and the word Nintendo had never been spoken from any ones lips, so sitting and perusing a coffee table book did not seem an odd activity. This afternoon I had the chance to open the pages after probably 30 years since the last time I had closed them. Most of the words and all of the pictures were all familiar to me, I could feel myself sitting in the rocking chair at my parents house studying the pictures. The story starts in the garden of Eden and follows gardens and gardeners up through house plants and back yard gardens. Now that I have a more in depth view of history, thanks to our homeschooling, the book is more entertaining than when I was a child. While looking at it I wondered if my love of digging in the dirt started with this book. As I look through it I dream of our garden being planted in a seventeenth century maze pattern.

Of course, there would be no weeds, tulips and lilies would line the boarders, and the inside would be full of perfectly ripe tomatoes, peppers, and all the other goodies we plant. To make the garden even more romantic, it would have benches to lounge on with peacocks roaming up and down the rows and around the beautiful water fountain in the middle. We would have a garden that Claude Monet would want to paint and would give King Nebuchadnezzar a run for his gardening money.

I am going to leave the book laying around our living room and hopefully my children will open the pages and start their own garden dreams.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

All the girls want to look pretty for Easter

even Nikki. She sits daintily to get a dark purple polish applied to her nails. She really is a good sport about all the fussing the kids do over her.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Floating ping pong ball

This is a really cool trick I saw on t.v. this morning on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Take a hair dryer and a ping pong ball and you put the ping pong ball in the air right in front of the hair dryer when it is on. It will float in midair. It does this because the pressure from the hair dryer blowing pushes it up in the air and then it goes over the ball to keep it from flying up in the air. My sister and I we able to get two of them floating at once and they knocked into each other and clicked. A hint: if you hold the hair dryer straight it will keep the ball up there. This was so fun, we tried it many times today.

In this picture it looks like the ball is my nose!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We are ready for next year

Dancer finished her math book in March so I ordered her a new one. She is not able to take five months off from math or we would be reviewing big time in the fall. Since I need to order one book I decided I might as well take advantage of this years prices (I am assuming everything will go up in price) and order books for next year. The box came today and the kids dug into it like it was Christmas. I will have to hold them back so we can finish up this years work. I think I will pack them back up and open them again in the fall to see if we can recreate that excitement!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Party

We were invited to friends house to have a little Easter party. We always have such a nice time with this family.

Dancer and her friend made a bunny house.

Eggs were painted.

They made these cute nests for snack. The nest part is chow mein noddles, made with marshmallows like rice krispy bars, pressed into a muffin cup.
When the nest are firm they are dipped in almond bark and then green colored coconut. Lastly, jelly beans are placed in nests for the eggs.
Everyone enjoying their yummy nests.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Faith the size of a mustard seed can make a dog stop barking

Little dogs are notorious for their barking and our little dog is no exception. At night she goes in her kennel because of her less than perfect bathroom habits when she thinks no one is looking. Last night I put her in there and she starts her barkfest, which some times can go on for hours, and her digging, she is never going to get through the floor of that kennel but I give her credit for her unrelentless trying. As I am doing my nightly prayers I pray to God 'please make that dog stop barking'. No sooner had I offered up the words and the barking ceased! In fact, it was so sudden I thought perhaps she may have dropped over dead from a heat attack or something but decided instead of going to check that I would just deal with it in the morning if that were the case. Thanks be to God for a quiet nights sleep!

Time to do the milkin

Say the title like you are the Swedish chef on the Muppets, that makes it seem a little more exciting. Now having goats is fun, but it is a lot work and some days I just need a little boost to get out there and milk the goats when I would rather sit in the house with my butt planted in a chair. On those days I say to Spark "time to do the milkin" and he replies, "yah, time to do the milkin" and we go out with a new attitude. Dancer, for some reason, always likes to go out in the barn. She is a country girl through and through. Here Dancer and the Dad are bring in one of the goats to milk. They all know their names very well. We yell out the name of the goat that is up next for milking and they make their way to the front of the gate, we open it and they walk in for their turn. Of course, being goats they don't always do what they suppose to do but for the most part it is quite orderly.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where's the mother?

This nest of 18 eggs is tucked in the hay under the tarp. The only problem is that no one wants to be the duck that sits on them. Maybe when the weather gets warmer one of the ducks will get broody.
Now this little guy knows exactly where his mother is! Sometimes when we walk in the barn she will have a whole row of babies on her back. When we walk over they all jump down and come to the door. We would like to think it is because they are excited to see us but it is probably because they know a handful of rabbit pellets will be coming their way.