Friday, April 30, 2010

surprises

Okay so yesterday was a day about surprises. The weather was the start of it all. Woke to a chilly but beautiful, windy, sunny day - no surprises there, pretty much what weather.com forecast. Cloud cover quickly rushed in around 1 pm or so and the next thing I know, IT'S SNOWING! Wind is picking up - we hurriedly get the cheecks back inside (first intro to the great outdoors for our new laying hens) and hunker down. Snow mixes with rain and the sun comes out - not particularly surprising, I've seen the sun shine while it's raining many times before. Temp is quite low. The snow and rain stop - very short lived little squall - and the wind continues. Now wind is not surprising on our property, we live at the base of a "mountain" so we see lots of wind here. What was surprising is the huge CRACK that made the kids and I jump out of our seats. I went into my bedroom and looked out the window to find a dead tree had fallen on the power lines going into the house - SURPRISE! What is even more surprising is that the power did not go out and the lines did not disconnect from the house or the telephone pole. Thank goodness we had put the cheeckens in. Power company came and removed the tree at midnight - all is right with the world and we never even lost power!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day today by letting Father Sun dry my laundry as he warms Mother Earth. That and some knitting ;}

The kids are celebrating by riding their bikes for the first time this spring.

Love the earth, love the spring, loving life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

spring moves on


Well, it's been interesting here at the hopeful, humble homestead. We just had snow a couple of days ago - quite a bit, an inch or so. I can tell you driving home in the snow squalls at 2am was not fun (oh the challenges of third shift life ;)


The biggest news is that the nuggets are out of the house!!! YAY!! WOO HOO!! The smell in my living room is already so much better. The best part was how the family pulled together and worked to get the coop addition built, so we could get them out of the house. It was a wonderful afternoon of family cooperation and then the pleasure of moving the "franken cheeckies" outside to their new digs.... What a relief. I love crossing goals off the list. That was a big one for the spring.





The peas are coming up and looking great. My chard is very small, but still growing as is the lettuce. There are a couple of spinach plants peeking out of their bed, but no sign of beet greens yet. I love having the hoop tunnel in place, so if the temps are going down significantly we can cover them up. The temps this spring have really confused my garden. Heck - they've confused me. We haven't removed the straw mulch we wintered the herb bed with yet and the chives have already grown up through. It's neat to see the green peeking up through the straw - makes me smile and reminds me that nature wins - always nature prevails.

However, the tomato seedlings are not happy - they were growing happily for a while and now the leaves are curling and blotchy - thinking maybe over watering? Not sure - still trying to remind myself they are just seeds and we can always buy seedlings from the garden center to plant if we need to. Meanwhile, the other seedlings seem to be doing well.

I've also made a new commitment to hanging laundry out on the line when ever I can - I'm hoping I won't be using the dryer at all by winter. Beloved put up a second line for me because I realized the reason I didn't use the line last year is because it just wasn't big enough for an entire washing machine load - now I have enough for a load and a half or so - 2 loads if they are small. I've only used my dryer once in the last 3 weeks! Exciting! Laundry on the line makes me happy ;}


Thursday, April 8, 2010

loving overcast days

I have to admit it - as much as I love the longer days and the warm sunshine, I'm not a sun worshipper in the sense that I sit out in it. Those of you who have met me in person know that I'm, how shall I put it... a red headed ghost; the sun's rays are not necessarily my friend. I've had sun poisoning and it is not fun. Anyway, all this means is that I love the sun, but have to be very careful when enjoying His light. Yesterday was a hot sunny day and I enjoyed it, from inside. Today however is overcast and a bit cool, a perfect day to be outside in my book, so I did some gardening.

I'm still new to this whole gardening thing and with my hands still a bit in recovery mode, I have to leave some things up to Beloved. He does the clearing and digging and moving, I point, explain and do the planting. It's a good system, but it means I need to be patient if I want to start a new bed. Today, as much as I see the need to get the new beds prepped, I know I'll wait til Beloved is available to help. The Girl and I can certainly plant in beds that are ready though and that's what we did. We had already started our raised bed and our peas, but I left room in the raised bed for succession plantings, so today we did another row of lettuce, beet greens, spinach and swiss chard. I thought that I had jumped the gun and was going to have to replant some items, the peas, spinach and beet greens because everytime I've checked there has been nothing, but low and behold today SPROUTS OF EVERYTHING! YEAH! I'm very excited.

Our seedlings are doing well in the bathroom, I think the rosemary may even be considering sprouting. Rosemary, from what I've read is difficult to get to sprout - I was beginning to give up, but a few little bits of green are starting to show. Unfortunately, the broccoli was squashed by a cat trapped in the bathroom (Beloved accidently locked him in there - only broccoli was lost) so we do need to start over with those.

The cheeckies continue to grow, the nuggets have already by passed tender and moved on to small game hen ;}. I can't wait to get them out of the house! Beloved has begun the coop addition, hopefully the "franken cheeckies" will be out soon.

Ralph has really done a lot of damage to the girls this winter and spring - he is not gentle in "having his way" with them. The RIR hens are completely bald on their backs, both Barred Rock hens are bald on their heads and one is beginning to get a bit bald on the back. He's also begun to chase the Girl. What's difficult for me, is that as much as I don't want him intimidating the Girl, he is exhibiting the exact behavior I want of a rooster - he's protecting his girls - I have no doubt he would take on a rouge dog, skunk, raccoon, hawk, raven or any other predator that goes after his girls. If he were a dog, I'd do some training or rehome the dog to a more appropriate environment for his temperament. A rooster is really not very trainable - they are to an extent, but instinct is the driving force for a rooster and dominating other roosters and protecting his flock is what a rooster does. I think he sees the Girl as more of a threat as a competing rooster than as any real threat to the flock. Anyway, it's quite a dilemma. Maybe an Australorp rooster may be in our future. In the meantime, we have to figure a way to separate Ralph from the hens or make saddles for the girls. The Girl and he have made peace for the time being, she just avoids him. She has informed me that she can run faster than he can, so she's fine for now.

I'm loving that my kids have so completely changed their attitude about food. Today for lunch we had brown rice and sauted vegis in local raw organic butter - yummm. Just a year ago they'd have asked for chicken fingers and french fries or mac and cheese, and complained when I said no eat this - of course then they'd ask "where's the meat? Can't we at least have some hamburger with it?" Now all I hear is "Mommie this is delicious!" and "Mommie this is AMAAZING!" These changes we are making are beginning to be embraced by the kids. Last year I had to struggle to get the family to eat any vegis other than corn, green beans, raw carrot sticks (only baby ones and only raw), celery, peppers (preferably red) and tomatoes (as long as they were in spaghetti sauce). I was really happy with that - Beloved wouldn't eat all of these, but the kids would. I just saw so many kids not eating any vegis, that I was glad mine ate these. Now after we began trying to transition to mostly local (at least during the summer ;) the kids and even Beloved with eat a couple of different squashes (spaghetti is the fav), peas (that was a battle, but now after eating fresh local they love 'em), beet greens, chard, spinach, I could go on. It's really exciting to see my kids and my hubby getting excited about healthy food and to be interested in where our food comes from.

I have to admit, I love my life - I love the changes we have made and that we are together and supporting each other with this little "homestead". I love my cheeckens and that I've found the courage to change my life. I love that I get to spend so much time with my kids (even when I'm exhausted from working) and I get to celebrate the milestones of learning in the moment. I love my friends and family and their ability to support me even when they don't understand. I'm just in love with life. :}

Now I have to go feed the cheeckies - they're out of food AGAIN!

Friday, April 2, 2010

the fragility of life


Well, we're down to 9 nuggets. One got very lethargic, had some runny white coming out of the vent, went into spasms and just died. All happened in less than a hour. The poor little guy was a bit lethargic this morning, but got up wandered around and had some food, so I thought he'd be just fine until about a hour ago. The Girl is the most matter of fact about it- she feels bad, but she really seems okay with it - she was patting him before we put him away for burial later today when Beloved gets home. The Boy barely noticed; he borrowed a Nintendo DS game from a friend and that's all he has any interest in right now.

Now we'll empty out the brooder box, scrub it all down with hot water and apple cider vinegar, add new shavings, and clean food and water dishes with hot water and apple cider vinegar.

Having grown up on a hobby farm and next to a working farm, I know that a chick dying is just part of the experience - there was probably nothing I could have done differently and the chick was probably just not very strong - chicks die, but now I worry that I did something wrong and I'm afraid we may lose more. big sigh.... Besides, as the Girl says, "Now we can't eat him."

All this talk of my brooder box reminds me that I don't thing I've ever shared pictures, so here you go if you're interested:




...and I built it myself last year when the first batch of chicks outgrew there previous "home" and the coop wasn't finished. I think it came out well.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Shine, shine, shine, let it shine!"

YES! THE SUN HAS FINALLY RETURNED TO POLAND, ME. Oh happy day.

Checked on my plantings under the hoop tunnel - quite warm and dry in there, so we (the Girl and I) gave them a good long drink and pulled back the plastic until we have another cold snap.

Plans for outdoor housing for the Nuggets are underway - hopefully construction will begin this weekend. Our "weekend" is Sunday and Monday, not Saturday and Sunday, so hopefully I'll get some pictures up for the Nugget addition by Monday evening.

I don't have a lot to say - I'm going to go out and enjoy the sun - I suggest those of you who can take advantage do so as well ;}

Blessings from a sunny day in Maine.