Meet the Broodies

First, here are the babies....they are about 3.5-4 weeks old now. They were straight run at the co-op and I am fairly certain we picked 2 roosters. I looked online when we got home and read the male cuckoo marans are usually more silver and hens are more black. Oh well.....I guess Monique and Minerva Louise will be needing new names....
He looks rather roostery already

Last night, Paul and I finally finished our broody suite. The 2 mamas have been broody for about a week and one has been on 4 eggs since Monday. But since chickens are funny creatures that always want what the other has all the other birds kept sitting on top of them no matter how much they pecked and screamed. Not to mention they were adding eggs we didn't want added to the nests...

So we made the broody suite. Cheaply made out of 2, $5 boards from Home Depot and plastic. Their little run is reused from when our chicks were babies. We wrapped it well, so hopefully they stay dry if it ever decides to rain.Here they are in their new quarters....

Doesn't she look happy? (okay no...but they are fairly grumpy when you bother's funny to watch them puff up into a ball and scream at you...)
But they are comfy and left alone now. And the chicks- if we are successful will be safe from big hens and a mean rooster. One is on day 5....the other I just gave 6 eggs today.....21 days to go.



Inspired by Sarah's latest trips to the strawberry patches, we decided to head out this morning to pick a few. Our berries here at home are still very green, and we live across the street from a large u-pick strawberry patch...although today we went just a little further to the one closer to town....
Here's Lakin....he was SO excited. He wandered around 'helping' Paul put the berries in the basket...or throwing/dropping them in the basket. Making comments like "big strawberry" and "little strawberry" in his choppy 2 yr old sentence structure.
Cohen stayed with me most of the time, he's still worn out and has a low grade fever, but when I even mentioned that we stay home and wait until he is all better he got upset....he wanted to go pick...NOWRylan and Cale ran off to the ends of the rows trying to find funny shaped berries and the biggest ones they could find. Rylan did find mud and got his feet stuck. Really, Really stuck. Paul had to pull him out, hard.We ended up picking 18lbs! In about 30 minutes! We actually went over our budget....luckily they are a really nice, family operated business and offered to let us pay the excess next time we came instead of Paul running up to the ATM. I guess with 5 baksets it's easy to get more than expected. So we have some for eating, some for freezing and some for jam.


Happy Birthday, Lakin

2 years ago today

It all goes so fast....from the day we brought him home from the hospital

To his first birthday

To today.

Happy Birthday, Lakin!


Fresh Air

We spent an absolutely beautiful day outside today. We've been cooped up for a few days since Rylan and Cale have been fighting some type of virus since last Saturday...fever, cough, nausea, and oh my are they irritable and grumpy! I forced them off the couches and out of each other's faces all afternoon. Our play area in the back yard gets a good deal of shade in the afternoon...and with the breeze it was cooler out there than in the house.... we brought out books, games, a blanket...Rylan laid on the swing most of the time and Cale on a lawn chair....getting up every now and then to smash what we call bag worms....(I actually looked them up since Rylan wanted to know if they turned into something....and they are Eastern Tent Caterpillars)

I planted more tomatoes....I think I have about 25 total plants... and planted out the first of the cucumbers, melons and zucchini and other squash. The picture below if of our compost nectarine had blooms for the first time this year and now a few of these little fruits.....we are watching it to see if it will continue to grow in to a true (good) fruit.

Lakin and Cohen stayed in the shade, the sand or on the blanket reading with me...and collecting the caterpillars that seem to be raining down on us. Giving them to the chickens- who by the way don't eat Eastern tent caterpillars ....

And I got to catch up on my current book....


We have 25 days left of the 180 required for this school year. Since I don't follow a whole lot of packaged curriculum I never really have the feeling of 'we have to finish ___ before the end of the year'. We just sort of stop doing any planned school and start up a month later with a new grade level attached to my planner. So now I have 25 days left....and in MBTP we are supposed to be studying plants as the final section of the communities unit. But I am not into it. I have never been one for much book botany. I mean seriously....tomorrow we are supposed to be studying life cycles. Which would you prefer: a page in a book with some external activities or this:
We are supposed to learn about the parts of a plant and the needs of a plant. While there are some fun activities....I would prefer learning about the needs of a plant by transplanting 80 raspberry plants, taking care to give them enough roots to survive and watering them daily until they recover from the shock.

Or learn about how the seeds come from the flower on a flowering plant by watching them grow...

Or simply planting a seed and watching it grow (and then eating it- which makes it even better!)

My problem is that logically I know this is all educational. I know they are learning. I know they are not just gaining knowledge but learning a skill for life. I know they are learning other things as they go about their day. But somewhere inside me finds it extremely hard to check that day off on the ridiculous attendance sheet unless we do more....even if it is just math or them reading aloud. I think I am in need of the de-schooling process I read about all the time....


New Additions

We have been attempting to get one of our chickens to go broody so we could hatch out some eggs....but we got impatient. We went down to the co-op this morning to get chicken food and bedding, and they had a few week-old straight-run Cuckoo Maran chicks left from last week's shipment.

We *think* we picked girls. At a week old you could tell some had thicker legs and longer tail feathers....we didn't pick those.

Each boy picked one chick...

They were pretty wild at the store, but seem to be calming down, and I am sure the boys will have them hand tamed in no time....

If we ever get one of our hens to go broody, we will still hatch some though....but in the meantime....


Easter Treats

This year was a low-budget Easter. In general we have been trying to get the kids in a less materialistic mind-set, but they are kids and they have memories of past toy filled holidays....
This year I bought a packet of seeds for each of them and organic chocolate chips. Everything else I made with what we had around the house:

1. Egg shaped chalk made from plaster of paris, molded in plastic eggs.

2. Egg shaped crayons made from melted down crayons and molded in blown out egg shells. (inspired by Val and her beeswax candles)

3. A paper pinwheel on the back of a pencil

4. A paper crane

5. I made 2 batches of playdough, green and yellow, to fill their eggs.
6. And I made chocolate covered peanut butter eggs. I tried using the plastic eggs for molds but it didn't work...they wouldn't come neatly out of the molds. So I took them all apart and remelted the chocolate and made them using a deviled egg holder instead. That worked much better. They loved them, and ate them for breakfast....

See the chocolate laced smile?

It was a beautiful day. They spent an hour with playdough this morning, lots of spinning with the pinwheels to make them go faster, a good deal of time was spent on a game that involved the paper cranes transforming into jets and back to cranes, and my driveway is covered in huge multicolored chalk drawings of people. And I feel better knowing that they don't need the toys and tons of candy. And they are happy.


After a Frost

The first radishes pulled from the garden:
The strawberry blossoms that survived:

The raspberries...still green....all 85 of them...

A little chicken love....

Chicken Thoughts

What happens when you stand with a camera in front of a chicken?

She'll stare for awhile...

And possibly peck the camera, your fingers or your rings...

Then call a few friends to check it out too...


Food For Thought

I am too tired to write anything original on this, but here are a few links, and a few out-takes...I haven't had a chance to read through thoroughly, but I'll go back and take a closer look...

"The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 is purposely vague, leaving it opened to interpretation by the Government’s newest agency-The Food Safety Administration. The new agency has broad powers, powers that would allow them to order raids like the one on the Stowers against all small-scale family farmers and rural communities. Stalin would be impressed." (quoted here) Discussing this bill: HR 875

"...By Monsanto entering into the body of organic farming like a disease and morphing organic farms into industrial facilities, the farmer being forced to "treat" the land with chemicals and the animals with drugs, trapped into paying for what is unwanted, unsafe, unneeded, unconstitutional." (quoted here) Discussing this bill: S. 425 (and the above HR 875 )

Check out the question and answer pages on those last 2 links....they were informative...

NAIS will force owners of farm animals, even non-farmers who keep them as pets, to obtain a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) number for each animal they own. Every time an animal moves beyond the premises it is normally kept, its owner will have to file a report. If a pet goat crosses the street, a report would have to be filed." (quoted here) Discussing the NAIS (National Animal Identification System, which is a large part of the Smart Grid, which is included in the stimulus package

And finally the company- whose name is plastered all over just about all of the editorial pages...more info can be found here