Baby!!

A new chicken hatched sometime last night.

Welcome to the farm, baby!!  I sure hope you’re a girl!!!!!

I love these things.  Who knew poultry could be so addictive???

The Buddy System

I had a lovely and touching post written out about the healing power of friendship  but it got blown up by my internet connection.

So instead I will say I had a lovely and much needed beach weekend with some of my best girlfriends and I feel refreshed and ready to take on the world!

The weather was beautiful, the water was beautiful and there were dolphins swimming close to shore.

The view from our rooms!!! Just feeling and smelling that ocean breeze is a healing tonic in itself.

Live music all weekend under the statue of Neptune didn’t hurt, either.

Yes, I brought my knitting to the beach.  I did work on it for awhile but couldn’t quite remember the pattern so I had to give up. Then my ipod died, but it was pretty old.  Now I am craving a iphone to replace it.   I also managed to get a wicked sunburn on my knees, of all places, despite scrupulous applications of sunscreen.

We had our normal book discussion (by the infinity pool!) and had some heavy moments but  also found time to laugh, like when we  spotted a man at the restaurant wearing a thick fur coat; he was telling everyone it was chinchilla.  It looked and felt more to me like he’d shaved some gross shaggy acrylic stuffed animals and sewed together a coat.  Are there shaggy chinchillas???

I don’t know what’s up with my strap.  It wouldn’t stay up.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the cocktails we had with dinner.

How lucky do I feel right now?  I have a great family, some wonderful adorable animals, and incredible friends, both in book club and out.

Add to that the fact that fall is just around the corner and my heart is brimming!

My Drug, and The Bad News

This is how I get through my days.  Iced coffee with whipped cream on top.  In a mason jar.  Because Mason jars make awesome juice glasses, that’s why.

I gave up drinking soda a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t easy, but it’s so unhealthy and I figured maybe it would help with the 15 lbs that won’t go away.  I also have been more mindful about what I am eating during the day, I’ve been drinking a lot more water, and Maddie and I have been running.  We’re doing the Couch 2 5K running program, hoping to get fit.  So far I’ve managed to gain 3 lbs.  *Sigh*.  Hopefully it’ll all work out in the end.  (Um, I would like to point out that the iced coffee pictured has HALF the calories of a can of soda, I only drink one of them a day, and it’s a whole serving of non fat milk.)

Besides the zero weight – loss progress, there is other bad news as well.

I know, I’ve been told no one wants to hear my bad news.  But, I feel like it would be a lie to make it look like everything’s all peachy and rosy here all the time.

Our house is worth way, way less than what we owe, thanks to the great economy and the several foreclosures and short sales in our area recently.  This means we are stuck where we are indefinitely.  We even considered renting the house out so we could still move, but our mortgage payment is apparently twice the going rate for rentals in this county so we’d be losing money.

I am not really sure how to proceed.  It’s been “gently” suggested to me that I give up on the idea of having animals.  That they’re too expensive and not a worthwhile endeavor and that I am being financially irresponsible.  I am sharing this because I think it’s not uncommon.  I think a lot of people don’t “get” why anyone would want to be a farmer / shepherd.  They don’t understand why anyone would want to work so hard for so “little” reward, and I know I am not the only one who has had to face these prejudices.

For now I am at a stand still , with a giant, gaping hole in my life that a lot people cannot comprehend.  I imagine the feeling is not unlike a balloon with all of the air having been let out.

Next week I get a small vacation and I’ll be working hard on sewing and knitting projects.  Until then, when I have progress and fun things to share, things may be kind of quiet here.

Right now? It’s time for more iced coffee.

The Farm Report

Such as it is!

In the spring I planted three gardens: the large back one, and two raised beds out front.  I’ve had varied success.  Out back I planted three kinds of potatoes, butternut squash, and corn.  I’ve never planted potatoes before, and in my inexperience I didn’t get as good a harvest as I could have.  I now know that when you start to see them poking out a bit from under the dirt you should put more dirt on top of them, unless you are ready to harvest them.  Instead I harvested them all.  Some were just fine – the red potatoes ended up mostly being the right size, but I also pulled out quite a lot of very small ones that could have given me higher yields had  I left well enough alone.   The fingerling and yukon potatoes?  Not so much.  I think I got maybe three usable yukons, and the fingerlings never produced.  I think it may have gotten way too hot way too early in the season for them.  Either way, next year I will know better.

The butternut squash was victimized by both the extreme heat (record breaking, in fact) and the fact that I had planted squash in that same location two years running, with the result that I ended up with hordes of squash beetles that wiped out my entire crop.  Next year the squash will have to go out front.

The corn did very well at first, with about 30 big green stalks looking rather majestic on the back 40, if I do say.  I got about 6 nice crispy ears off before the heat crispified them all to hell.  Even regular waterings were no match for weeks of brutal 100+ temps and full – on sun.

Out front my success was marginally better.  The arugula and black seed lettuce did spectacular.  It over – produced to the point that it went to seed, as I couldn’t keep up with it.  The snow peas flowered and then died.  In the herb garden the heat claimed my cilantro, but my tarragon, dill and rosemary look great, and the sage and thyme seem to be recovering.  I let my basil go to seed because I didn’t know any better, and trust me, I will never do that again.  I worship pesto far too much to be lacking one more summer in its goodness.

I’ve ripped out the weeded- over lettuce and arugula and have planted some late – harvest beets and acorn squash.  Hopefully they’ll work out.

The chickens continue to produce a nice cache of eggs daily, apart from Muriel who was been sitting on a lone blue egg for the past few weeks.  I allowed her to have that one, in hopes that it will hatch out as an Ameraucana hen.

Meanwhile our earlier hatchlings are frolicking the days away out in the front pen.  Or rather, around it, as they refuse to stay in.

Honestly I’d prefer to have all of my chickens free- ranging.  They don’t do as much damage, you don’t have to feed so much grain, and it’s fun watching them run around with the kids.  There’s always the danger of them running off, though, or getting eaten by a predator or roaming cat or dog.  I really need a fence.   I am impatient for a real farm where we have room for our chickens and goats and llama and sheep to roam and not be penned in.  They’re much happier and healthier that way.

Emily has named the three we think are females. They are Fran, Sylvia and CC.  The two boys will have to be given away.  We’d probably try and use them for meat, but Emily would never allow it.

The goats are doing well and today I’ll be giving everyone a dose of de-wormer.  Milkshakes and the boys get theirs orally, and it’s relatively easy.  Jerry gets his via needle.  Should be fun.  The boys continue to try and nurse from their mama, even though they are practically the same size as she is.  It’s made it tough to keep weight on her, but it’s kept them nice and fat.  Hopefully we can solve that soon and get some weight on her by fall so she can be bred again.  In the spring, bottle babies and chevre.  Hooray!!!!

Birthday Weekend

This weekend was bookended by two birthdays – Emily’s and my brother Caleb’s.

Emily turned 11 on Friday (and saying that just kills me) and spent the day swimming and enjoying a visit with her BFF Jasmine.  Those two were in kindergarten together and took an immediate liking to each other.  Jasmine even convinced her father and step mother to name her youngest sister Emily!

Emily & Jasmine at birthday number…..6?  7?  I can’t recall.

I am still working on Emily’s petticoat skirt – I don’t think there’s enough chiffon for it, even though I ordered the 8 yards called for in the pattern.  We’ll have to see how short I am and then I’ll be ordering more.

Emily’s always been my kindred spirit.  She’s artistic,sensitive, emotional, an animal lover, and a knitter.

Not that I haven’t had my trying times with her.  She was the only one of my children who decided that the solid matter in her diaper made a great paint for her crib and the walls.  She’s also the only one of my children to ever sleep in a crib.

Emily made us grateful for modern medicine in a way we never thought we would be.  When she was 5, she came down with a severe case of pneumonia / empyema that required a lengthy hospital stay and two surgeries.  She still bears the scars from the drainage tubes that were attached to her for almost a week.

Emily also taught us to be better listeners.  After a few weeks of telling us in a casual and funny  way that she had rocks in her ears (Hey!  I have rocks in my ears!!!)  she went to the doctor for a bout of fever / nausea where the doctor discovered that she did, in fact, have a small rock in one of her ears.

Emily is our chicken whisperer.  No one takes it harder than her when one of them is sick or injured, and no one is able to commune with them the way she can.  One of our hens used to ride on her shoulder!  Of course, all of the chicken wrangling and sensitivity have translated into a vow of vegetarianism.  She hasn’t eaten chicken in almost a year and gave up all other meats this spring.  While it’s not always easy to accommodate in this family of meat – eaters, she manages well and has our full support. Part of homeschooling her this year will involve teaching her how to prepare vegetarian meals that will fulfill her nutritional needs.

Then there is my brother, for whom I can somehow find no embarrassing childhood pictures at the moment.  He’s 7 years younger than me and our relationship has not always been easy.  We had some spectacular fights.  Picture an incredibly clever, quick witted 6 year old who knows all of your buttons (oh wait…..I have a couple of those now….).

He’s still incredibly clever and quick – witted.  He’s also one of the funniest people I know.  He sings like a rock star and has way more artistic talent than I could ever dream of.

Stories and jokes he tells me always make me laugh, even months later.  Sometimes no one else gets our humor, but that’s ok.  We’ve grown into siblings that get each other and that has made all the difference.  I love that whenever my kids do something weird, geeky or off – beat I can always say Your uncle KB would be so proud!!!

Happy birthday to two of my favoritest people.  I love you both.