What to do?

For a few weeks we had forgotten to close our garden shed completely. Then a week or so ago, Paul closed and latched it. On Sunday he went out to get a bucket to clean out the fish tank and found this, Guilt trip number 1:There were 6 eggs. Probably abandoned by the mom who couldn't get back in to them when we closed the shed. Since we have a new found talent for candling eggs we tried it. Two were clear. Two were full, but dented. Paul was sure they were dead though (we weren't sure about the incubation of wild bird eggs), but we cracked a dented one open. Guilt trip number 2: it was alive. We put the 2 eggs in the nest in the bucket back in the shed.

So today we were out working in the garden. We checked. 2 chicks. Squirming and wiggling all over. We felt sad, still fairly sure the mom is gone, but put the bucket back.

Cale wanted to check on them this evening. Guilt trip number 3: Both were head up, mouths open wide. Quietly cheeping.

I don't think there is anything we can do. I doubt the nature center takes newly hatched chicks. Maybe injured birds, but not these. I am still hoping maybe the mom is around. Looking at the eggs I think they are either Chickadee, Titmouse or Nuthatch. Leaning toward Titmouse since we have a lot in our yard. They are small, maybe she could have fit in the crack at the top of the door when it is latched? Maybe she is out searching for food? The door is opened now. Maybe she'll come back.


Nightly Rituals

Every night after dinner we take our basket and head outside. We pick strawberries. Then peas. And last night we pulled the first carrots- only 4 that were too close to others....but carrots are always exciting, especially for kids. This year the carrots are extra exciting because we didn't just plant orange ones, we planted rainbow ones too. So you never know which color you are going to pull up.

Tonight's were purple, yellow and white

Once the picking, and playing, is done we head inside to our trusty, but probably not all that accurate scale...One day I'll get a real kitchen scale, but for now we use the boys' scale from our science shelf.

Tonight's harvest: 1.5 lbs of peas, 1.5 lbs of strawberries, and 4 carrots- which was about an ounce.

We have small zucchinis, cucumbers and tomatoes growing, but it will be a few more weeks before we get to bring any inside. I have a few different reasons for weighing- It helps teach the boys measurement of weight, we all can see how much our work in the garden pays off, and I am just plain curious as to how much food we grow. We are also taking part in the Freedom Harvest Challenge. Their goal is to raise 1 million pounds of food in a year.


The Wait is Over!

I've posted a couple of times about our broody birds....well one was due on Saturday, which came and went with no peeps. Sunday we checked the eggs....2 were rotten and 2 looked like something might have tried to develop but didn't (these eggs had 2 eggs squashed on top of them, fell out of the nest 2 times and the nest flooded once....) So we split the remaining 8 eggs between the 2 hens and waited some more. Yesterday morning before we headed up to Gatlinburg to visit the grandparents...we saw 2 pips (small crack in the eggs), one under each. Good thing we were gone all day because they still weren't out when we got home that evening. But by 7:30....we found this little guy:

Isn't (s)he cute!! This picture was take today, once it was dry, rested and starting to get curious. By 8 we had another, a little black one. And one more egg pipped. Sadly, we found that 3rd chick in the nest this morning....pecked by the mom. I was hoping it was an accident, that it had died getting out of the shell....the 4th chick was on it's way. I watched all morning and before lunch I checked at it was out, alive- but bloodied. So I took it and gave it to the other mom, and after much debate and looking over the little black chick I noticed a pecked spot on it's head too. So I took him from his mom and gave him to the other as well. Here (s)he is under his new mom. She accepted them both into the nest.
There are 2 eggs left that so far are doing nothing. I moved the bad momma back into the hen house and she is a bit stressed...pacing up and down the fence clucking....but I think it is for the best...and I just hope the new little one survives it's traumatic entrance into the world!


Mother's Day, a few days late

Paul worked on Mother's Day, it ended up being not that great of a day for me for various reasons. Whenever Paul mentioned getting me something in honor of Mother's Day I always told him I wanted our remaining garden beds tilled and filled with the remaining compost- that could be his gift. Today was a wonderful day, he worked hard, the boys worked and played hard. The sun shined all day.... I planted my 52 sweet potato plants, the 100 ft corn, bean, squash and peanut bed is tilled and ready to be planted tomorrow. The boys and I planted zillions of marigold, zinnia, cosmos, and morning glory seeds. We planted sunflowers in another attempt at a sunflower house. We picked a half a pound of peas for lunch and 1.5 lbs of strawberries for tomorrow.

The boys found the first patch of blooming honeysuckle...
This was Lakin's first taste....
And he walked around saying "Mmm, yummybuckle" as Rylan and Cale helped him to open and 'drink' from them...

The big boys learned to till....

Little boys too....

It was a nice day.


The Good With the Bad

It's been raining for I don't know how many days. There is only so much rain I can take before I start to go a little crazy.

The bad:

1. MUD. Pure and simple. We have 4 boys and 3 dogs. I think my kitchen floor will be stay brown for a long while.

2. The 2 broody chickens who's nests did NOT withstand the high wind, thunder, flooding storm we had this morning. As soon as it cleared I checked on them....the nest, and eggs, were soaked. I dried them and got them new hopefully they will still be good...the first one is due to hatch around next Friday.3. Boredom. 4 boys cooped up in the house is enough to make you crazy too. We got Lakin a truck load of sand for his birthday last ended up raining when we went to get it, and we had to unload it in the rain to save the trucks suspension....they want to play in it. Everytime it stops raining they run out....
But there is the good that comes from all this rain.... and the small bits of sun in between...

1. Berries....ours are starting to come in. We get 3-4 everyday- which never make it past the backyard...

2. Radishes. I pulled over half a pound (after cutting the stems off) tonight. I don't really care for them, but they are so pretty when they've been washed. Cohen and Lakin pop them like candy.

3. Growth. The tomatoes have taken off....starting to flower....and I need to get more stakes for the remaining plants....

4. Peas. Tonight we rummaged through the tangles of vines and found 3 ready to eat pods....which didn't make it past the backyard either.

5. Playtime. Today's storms didn't last much past lunchtime so all afternoon and evening was spent outside with the bikes, garden, sand and bugs....



For my baby....

for his 2nd birthday...

The Kitchen is Not my Friend

I am trying to make Lakin's birthday cake....

1. I've learned that I cannot substitute melted butter in every recipe, including my favorite chocolate cake recipe, and get good results....the center of both cakes (loaf pans) fell.

2. Butter and flour don't work as well as non-stick spray.

3. I am regretting at the moment that we have taken vegetable oils out of our diet....then I wouldn't have a cake with a hole in the center and no bottom.

4. I would hate to run to Walmart for non-stick spray...but I can't. I have no vehicle. Paul left his truck here full of sand box sand and took mine and the carseats to work.

5. I found a new cake recipe that uses butter and no oil, so I am waiting for the butter to soften. I am already anticipating that the new cake will come out of the pan with no bottom on it either.

6. It's 4 o'clock. I haven't thought about dinner, the new cake needs to be made and cooled, I need to make icing and carve a bus shape out of the new cake. Then cover the whole thing in yellow icing.

7. I am wishing a pizza place delivered to our house....but no we live too far out in the country....

8. My usually helpful-before-a holiday/party boys are not being helpful today. Screaming at each other and not cleaning up their stuff. I feel guilty for lecturing them about selfishness and the fact that just because they don't have anything to lose/gain (presents, candy, Easter baskets, etc) doesn't mean that Lakin's day isn't as important.

Back to the kitchen....