Sunday, May 29, 2011

A night like tonight

Its almost 11, I cant sleep. Hubby is long gone, sleeping contentedly in the bedroom. I envy him, his ability to fall asleep in 5 minutes flat. Its too hot tonight to sleep. We have the fan going in the bedroom but it just moves the air around. I got up to putter around and was immediately distracted by the free show going on in my backyard. Quietly I opened the screen door and stepped out into the night. From my back patio I can hear the chickens sighing in their sleep. The goats make a clunking sort of noise as they shift their weight around for a better position to sleep. The geese are the light sleepers, ready to sound the alarm should they be needed. But what draws me to tonights show, is not the usual farm night noises. No, tonight the fireflies are playing. Today was humid, with tomorrow promising to be worse. The only good thing about this weather guessed it...fireflies! Hundreds light up the backyard. For mere seconds at a time they flash before disappearing, and flashing in a new spot. The teenager fireflies, who havent figured out how to work their headlights, leave their blinkers on as they go flying through the night. They look like shooting stars. Others blink on and off faster than the grandparent fireflies. Unlike a plane or bird in the sky, you can not track fireflies as they fly. The blink on for just a second and then they are gone. It adds to their mystery. I remember last year, living on Fort Detrick and helping the neighborhood kids catch the fireflies at dusk. I will not be catching them this year. I prefer to marvel at their mystery as they light up my otherwise dark night. The show continues as I headed inside. I hope they will be playing in town tomorrow night. This is one show I can watch over and over!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Thrifty Makeover

I have been spending a lot of time in our office at the computer lately. Our internet is extremely slow, so while the webpages load I sit and wait. And look around the office... All of our furniture in the office is dark and dreary. The walls are a light tan, but the bookshelves, desk and turtle tank are all dark brown. I asked hubby if I could paint the furniture, and he said sure. He is always allowing me to rearrange things. We have plenty of left over paint from the house and I pried the lid off a can of white. I painted the shelves and frame of one bookcase. Since these are the cheapy furniture from target, the fake wood on the back of the shelves wouldnt hold paint. With hubby's help, I removed the backs, covered it in burlap and reassembled it. I love the outcome! What do you think? I took a picture of just the one painted to compare it to the other dark furniture. It is the perfect blend of light and airy, with a touch of manly-ness. Hubby is pleased too which is always good. This week I will do the other bookshelf, and then tackle the desk. Check out the before and after pictures.

On farming notes, Hubby built a "chicken shed" for the pullets. We fenced in a yard for them. This will work, until we can get a real coop built. Hubby did an awesome job on the construction. I think the chicks like it too! Note- these are the little chicks we got in the mail on Valentines day...not so little anymore!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bees, chipmonks and laundry

Friday I got an email saying the bees were ready for pick up this weekend. Today was our only free day, so this afternoon Hubby and I drove to pick them up. I had nightmares about driving home and somehow upsetting the box of bees and having a truckful of angry bees. Thankfully the ride home was uneventful. We did buckle in the box, just in case. Once home, we set the nuc (the starter box) on top of the hive (artistically painted by my little sister). Tomorrow, we will transfer the bees into their new house. We are super excited that they are finally here.

On another note, Buttons the cat met her first chipmonk today. She ate the tail and then decided to let it live. I think they are forming some bizarre sort of friendship. Maybe the little monk is thankful Buttons spared his life.

We finally got the laundry lines hung. When my family was here, we cemented the poles. Ever since then it has been raining. Laundry has been piling up inside. Today is the last day of forecasted sun before 9 straight days of thunderstorms. We got the lines up and the sheets hung to dry. Hopefully it wont rain until tomorrow and they will be clean and dry.

Hubby is napping as I am writing. This week has been exhausting for everyone. I am also painting a bookshelf. Check back in later for the pictures...

An Egg Progression

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Putting up Fences

Our chickens officially have a fenced in yard. This came as a result of them getting adventerous, crossing the street and checking out the neighbors yard. Our neighbors have been awesome (they even said they dont mind the roosters! thanks!) but if the chickens are going to visit them, they are also hanging out in the street. My fear is someone will come flying over the hill and not see the chickens in time. Also, being completely free range means they wander into the woods and we have lost 2 ladies so far. Until we can get an "real" fence up for them, they are confined in their smaller yard. We made the yard big enough that no one is crowded. Its annoying trying to get into the coop daily, but for now they are safe.

Today, the meat chicks graduated to outside housing. They are temporarily living in a chain link enclosure on the side of the barn. We will put up bird netting at the top to deter hawks. They have the dog's old house for shelter from the rain and sun. There is grass and dirt for them to peck around at, and in general way better living conditions. We are trying to figure out a more permanant housing situation for them, the pullets and the turkeys (all seperate of course). Like the chicken fence, this housing works for now....
The pictures are the veiw off the bedroom deck. Check out the amazing garden boxes my family built! Ignore the lawn tractor and tiller...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dinner...from scratch

ToToday was a stay at home day. I never left the house, and was able to make dinner from scratch. One of my goals is to make all our meals from scratch. Tonight I made potatoes, chicken drumsticks, salad, homemade dressing and cookies for dessert. The potatoes were chopped up, cooked with some garlic and rosemary. The drumsticks seasoned and cooked. The salad is all from our garden and the dressing uses milk from Kisses as well as other items in my fridge. The table is set, and now I await Hubby to get off work and home...

The hydrangeas are from our plants out front. True Love!

Mmmmm.... bittersweet chocolate chip cookies...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Big Apple

Hubby and I went to New York City for a vacation with my parents and sisters. Before heading to NYC, my family came and worked at the farm for a few days. I am so incredibly blessed to have the family I do. They all gave up their vacation days to get dirty here on the farm. We built 10 raised garden beds, hauled and shoveled numerous truck beds full of dirt, built a brick patio/retaining wall and got things generally cleaned up. I cant say thank you enough for all their hard work. We are super excited about the raised beds, and they are already nearly full. On Wed, we all took the train up to the City. We left the farm in the capable hands of my friend, N.
I am also amazed at how much we were able to do in our short visit to the city. We saw two broadway plays- Wicked and The Lion King. Our hotel room overlooked time square. We took a bus tour of the city (twice), visited Ground Zero, saw Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and walked around Central Park. All that, and we managed to go to the filming of The Today Show on my mom's birthday!
I could go on and on about what we did and saw during our four days in NYC. Hubby and I took a tour of the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island on our own. I remember as a child visiting Ellis Island and being awestruck. The feeling hasnt changed much now that I am an adult. I can not explain how it feels to stand in the same building that every immigrant came through so very very long ago. Looking at the pictures at Ellis Island of the masses of immigrants barely gives us a peek into how it really was. I can't imagine leaving my country, my home, my family, to travel across a huge ocean only to arrive in a place where they speak another language. To then be inspected by doctors and not know what they are looking for. I can't imagine having my whole family pass inspections, save for one person. What would it be like to have to send a relative back to my home country, never to see or hear from them again? And if we all passed through, what then? Where would we go? What would we do. What would I pack on such a voyage? Special china? doubtful. Heirloom quilts and linens? maybe. I can not imagine starting from scratch in a new world. At the same time I think it would be exciting. Not to know what lays ahead. America, land of the free. Where a person could do anything they wanted. Standing in the middle of the Registry Room on Ellis Island, you can still feel that hope today. Closing my eyes, I could hear the whispering, the clanking of luggage, the frantic cries of scared babies. I could feel the awe that immigrants felt when coming to the end of their trip. Greeted by the Statue of Liberty, calling out "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Can you feel it too?

The tour of Ellis Island ended at the gift shop (typical). We couldnt resist buying a cookbook and childs story book (I am a sucker with a capital "S" for childrens books with good illustrations). Back home in Maryland now, I am anxious to try some of the recipies from oh-so-long-ago. Perhaps it will help me feel connected, with each bite I hope to feel what they did. Hope, Relief, Awe. After all, this is America, and I am proud to call it my home.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A family Affair

My mom, dad, and two sisters are here to visit! They came in last night all the way from California. We are working here at the house (its the first time my dad and sisters have seen it) until tues. On wed, we are all going to NYC, hubby included! We spent today assembling raised garden beds. All the veggies we planted in the ground are not doing too great. Not that they are dying, they just aren't thriving. The whole family worked together to get the beds "made". My sister J, learned how to use the miter saw, and enjoyed cutting the boards down to size. My artist sister A, spent the afternoon painting scenes on our bee hives (that will have bees hopefully next week!). Dad and Tim assembled the beds, while mom and I pruned bushes, helped level and weed the beds, and removed all the veggies until we can replant them tomorrow. I am amazed at how much we were able to get done all in one day.
The family that works together, plays together. Or in our case, eats together. We ended our wonderful day with a dinner out at Bonefish. Considering how today is Mothers Day, we wanted to relax and celebrate our mom. We shared a many good laughs at the table, and filled our bellies full of good food. We are now fueled for another day of work tomorrow.
On Mothers Day, I am surrounded by my amazing family. Thank you mom, for being the perfect mom for me. And thank you for giving me such a wonderful family. I cherish my family and love spending time with them! I think everyone will sleep well tonight, and tonights rest is well earned. Sleep well family, sleep well!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Where Hugs Gets Disbudded and Chickens go to the Butcher

Sunday was an eventful day here at the farm. In the morning, we dropped off our first round of 6 meat chicks at the butchers. Compared to the other chicks their same age, we thought our birds were huge...until we saw the butchers chicks. Two weeks younger and at least double the weight of ours. Wow. We obviously did something wrong. Bert, the butcher, explained how his fattened up and we will try his suggestion for the 20 birds in the barn. We left after being told we could return to pick them up that same afternoon.

Later that morning we focused on the goats. Kisses, was originally a 4H project. She was then sold to the lady who sold her to us. When we bought her, we were given her registed papers. On the registration, was the name of the girl who raised Kisses. Turns out they live right down the street. I shot them off an email to say we now have Kisses should they ever want to come over. I also wanted to let them know that Kisses is a proud mama. They did indeed want to come, and not only did they visit, but they disbudded Hugs for us and saved us a vet visit. Disbudding is the act of burning the nubs where a goat's horns will grow. If burnt off when they are young, the horns wont grow. It sounds horrible, I know. I compare it to giving a baby a shot. The child will scream, the mother will turn away, but in the end it is better for that baby to have had the shot. Hugs screamed for a few seconds, but all was forgot when he was returned to the goat pen. If a goat is allowed to keep their horns, there is so much more potential for danger. Both to the goat and any people or animals near. Currently I have a huge bruise from where Jumpy hooked me on accident with her horn. Jackie is always getting her head and horns stuck in buckets. Since Hugs is a buck, there is ever so much more potential for danger. The does are much more docile, and a buck is super powerful. We returned him quickly to Kisses and he immediately started drinking. I like to think all is forgotten by now and he will be safer for it. Autumn (the original 4h raiser) and her mom Rebeccah brought a binder full of pictures of Kisses and Kisses's family. It was so neat to see what her twin and mom look like. Thank you Autumn and Rebeccah for sharing that bit of history with us.

We had several other visitors come by, and sold out of eggs all in a day. That afternoon, Hubby returned to the butcher to get the wrapped chickens. I think I squealed with delight. These are our first chickens raised on the farm. There is chicken in my fridge not from the grocery store. These chickens ate the bugs in my yard. I fed and watered them. Now they will feed me, and I couldnt be more excited! Hubby and I are having roast chicken tonight, should anyone want to join us...