Why every mama needs a Joan

As the day pressed on and the blistering, unexpected spring heat smothered, I began to wonder if perhaps we were, in our novice status as bonafide dairy goat farmers, making a bit more work for ourselves than was needed.  We were having a good time after all.  The babies had stayed in the living room about three times longer than we planned because we had such ridiculous fun having them there.  Waking up and coming down the stairs to sweetest little faces and cries for snuggles and milk?  Yes.  It was as lovely as it sounds but yes, it was also a tremendous lot of work!  The days were a bit of blur and truly much bliss as we have allowed all the rest of life to be on hold and treasured these fleeting newly born days.

In my wondering, I queried in my head “what would Joan do?”.  So I wrote her mid afternoon yesterday.  Joan the kind-hearted, older mama whom we had first met in the goat barn at fair a few years back.  Joan, whose (now grown) children left such an impression on me when I met them the first time in their manners and kindness and gentle confidence.  I described to her what we were doing with our new goats and how we were learning and getting on. This is the schedule I sent:

6 AM milk 4 goats (3 Nigerians and Genie) – clean the vacuum milker
6:30 AM feed 10 bottles divided among babies
10 AM feed newer batch of 6 babies their bottles (but only carefully rationed measured out, they would take more if they could)
12:30 feed older 4 their bottles
1:00 PM milk 4 goats again – clean milker
2:00 PM feed newer 6 babies again (again, carefully rationed, divided out bottles)
5:00 PM feed older 4 babies
6:00 PM feed younger 6 bottles
8:30 PM  milk 4 goats (and clean the milker…again!)
9:-9:30 PM feed all 10 babies bottles

As I typed and asked her timidly  “am I missing anything here?”, the corners of my mouth curled up and I smirked to myself how crazy it looked on the screen.  Because for all that I typed there was of course the un-typed rest of life.  Three meals daily for six human kids.  The 2-3 loads of daily laundry. The hand washed dishes (did I mention the dishwasher broke January 3?).  All the “normal” life work.  A calendar of May splayed open on the counter with an array of showers, parties, end-of-year events, birthdays, dinners, outings, anniversary.
I took a deep breath and clicked “send”.  Without a trace of fear or worry.  Because there are some people who you know, that you know won’t judge, won’t over complicate or make your cheeks burn in embarrassment . They’ll just offer what they know, offer it in love and tell you it’s going to be okay.
After a brief and much needed date night, I got in the car to head home and read her reply.  I smiled.  I laughed, genuine belly-laughed out loud.  Until there were tears streaming down my face as I sat alone in my car in a parking lot.  “You are one overworked mama!” was how it began.  Oh, so it was a little crazy?  Yes.  Possibly.  The glory of being validated right where you are, such a powerful gift.
Then came her suggestions.  Which is what led to the laughter.  She told me she suggested “more sleep” at 6 AM.  The very idea!  In all its wisdom and simplicity!  Sleep.  The ever-elusive companion over these past 13 years of raising children.  This was, possibly, the first time someone had literally told me I perhaps should sleep more.
It got better.  From 10 am-1 pm on her proposed schedule, after kids had helped with milking (which of course they already do – but it was good to have affirmed that indeed, this ought to be a family affair) it said “be with your kids.  go shopping.  do your housework.  eat lunch.”  More smiles.  Someone I respect just told me to simply “be with” my kids.  Deep breath.
And better still, after getting milk to goats after lunch (and cutting out the terribly over-the-top midday milking) she proposed:
enjoy your kids, drink lemonade in the garden, watch your kids play with the baby goats
Wait?  Did someone just tell me to enjoy my kids?  To drink lemonade in the garden?  To watch my kids play?  This was too much!  The wave of relief and sweetness that washed over me prompted hot tears and a most silly grin.
Permission to simplify.  Permission to sleep.  Permission to enjoy the blessings set before me.  Permission to delight in our work together but not create an unnecessary load.
We all need a Joan.  And not just for help with goats.  But for so much more.  We need to raise our heads up, raise our hands and ask brave, vulnerable questions of the older, wiser women in our midst.  Especially in the raising of children, which is largely done outside of a tight-knit, real-life community except for a lucky few, we need the gift of their looking back, their ability to see clearly what really mattered.  Things like enjoying our kids and lemonade in the garden.  At times, we need to admit defeat and call in the troops of the ones who have already been there.  We need fresh eyes.
Maybe our schedule or workload feels suffocating but we don’t know how to fix it.  Maybe one child struggles big and loud and we have tried everything but can’t help them.  Maybe we have fought against family baggage and generations of bad patterns in relationships but we want more than bondage, we ache for freedom.  Whatever the unspoken fight or darkness, sometimes we need another set of hands on deck, a new and fresh perspective in order to find our way, “to proceed to the next step” as I inquired to Joan in my letter.
If we open up our eyes and heart to the people around us in one circle or another, chances are there is a Joan or a Suzanne or an Amy or someone precious who is just waiting to see a raised hand, a white flag, a “help wanted” banner held up over the life of a younger one trying to find her way.

Hope Rises

It was just about the time the rooster crows.  My alarm beckoned me out of warm flannel sheets and I headed straight for a quick shower.  I’d come home at dusk from sitting at the hospital with my grandpa.  My body and heart were still tired.  But duty called.  Rylee woke herself at the same time but headed straight out to check on the latest goat mama due.  Just as I was pumping shampoo she burst into the bathroom.  “Babies born in the night, mama, hurry….this one, it’s not doing good.”  I grabbed a towel and shot out of the shower to find her holding a terribly limp and freezing cold tiny baby goat.  It was hardly breathing.  Tiny nostrils flared ever so slightly.  It did not move.  I wrapped it in my bath towel and ran for clothing and the heater.  We rubbed its little fuzzy body and held her close.

We woke two more (human) kids and took turns rubbing and warming and hoping.  Too cold to even shiver, she just laid there at our mercy.  She’d been born fourth.  Mama had obviously attended well to the first three babies and they were licked clean and placed proper under the heat lamp that was there for an impromptu night birth just like this one.  But one hadn’t made it there.  Had been left for dead by the door to the pen on the cold ground.

The morning chores were quickly stacking up, goats to milk, bottles to feed to the older babies, three more babies to check on outside, kids hungry for breakfast, coffee to be had.  I’m fairly sure I offered everyone tortillas for breakfast and a kind husband made me coffee.  Rylee whispered, “can we call her Hope?”.  I smiled my yes and knew that even if she wouldn’t make it, she still ought to be named.  We brought her downstairs and held her close and dropped milk into her weak mouth and hoped she would be strong enough to swallow.

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Everyone sort of held their breath.  Slowly her eyes opened.  Nearly every pair of hands loved on her, quietly willing her to live.  Cautious optimism brimmed.  All eyes on Hope.

Hope is the stalwart strength that draws us up to face another day.  Hope is believing that your invisible sacrifice of love is being poured out into something worthwhile regardless of the payoff or lack-thereof.  Hope is trying again when you want to give up.  Hope is living out your promises and defying all odds in the process.  Hope is believing greater things than we can imagine are in progress, seen and unseen.

Hope is acknowledging what might yet be.

Her official registered farm name will be “Little Foot MM Hope Rises”.  Long name for such a little thing.  It’s true.  But it couldn’t be more fitting.

Kidding season begins…

We’ve had two out of six goats deliver so far.  This year we are hand raising our babies on bottles.  Certainly more work.  Also exponentially more fun. The goat kids live in the house for a few days while they get settled and we feed them their mama’s milk in a bottle.  There isn’t anything quite like coming downstairs in the morning to a pen of these little cuties waiting for you in the living room.  They are quickly imprinted on humans.  They adore our children and climb all over them at every opportunity.

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Anticipating spring

We’ve been breathing deep here.  Eating the last of July’s blueberries from the freezer.  Winter hogs were slaughtered this morning.  Tree forts are in the works.  Anticipating warmer months to come.  Skipping screen-time for sun-time.  Making the most of every day together.  Learning hour by hour how to love well and speak life.  Showing up and abiding next to one another.  Messing up and asking forgiveness and trying again.  Every.  Single.  Day.

I didn’t realize after handing over the garden to the kids last year, they would assume ownership again.  But I’ve found them outside many an afternoon, hands covered in soil,mapping out their plans for their raised beds.  I am happy to defer to them on the matter of growing things.  They blew me away last year with their initiative and effort.  No good reason not to let them go at it again.   I overheard sibling talk like this the day the seeds came “Now remember Audrey, when we transplanted the cucumbers, they all DIED.  In ONE night.  SO, I think you should start them outside later on or grow them in peat pots so you don’t have to replant them.”   And of course talk like this too “You can’t plant your pumpkin THERE.  It will RUIN my garden because it’s so huge.  Go ask mom for another garden bed but you are not planting pumpkins next to my peas.”  Or this, all spoken in one long breath from the four year old, “Mom, you have to choose one, if you could be ONLY one person, who would you be?  Henry the Navigator or Ramses the Great?  YOUHAVETOPICKONE!”.  Oh the sponge-like nature of the younger, not-really-yet-homeschooling-but-absorbing-tons-every-day life of the Finn.

this scene is the hallmark of good times had in my book...
this scene is the hallmark of good times had – in my book…nevermind that the dishwasher has been broken for 6 weeks!

 

I gave them a budget and a seed catalog and they checked the mail every day for a week anticipating "seed day"!
I gave them a budget and a seed catalog and they checked the mail every day for a week anticipating “seed day”!

 

Because he could not wait one single day for popsicle sticks, he had to start with paper slips labeling his starts…

 

What's this you ask? Why goat ultrasound of course! Who knew!? All six does are confirmed bred. This means we have abundant work to do prepping kidding pens ASAP.
What’s this you ask? Why goat ultrasound of course! Who knew!? All six does are confirmed bred. This means we have abundant work to do prepping kidding pens ASAP.

 

A quick pre-church snapshot on Sunday - my heart about bursts looking at this photo. What gifts we've been given!
A quick pre-church snapshot on Sunday – my heart about bursts looking at this photo. What gifts we’ve been given!

 

 

40 new layer chicks are residing in the garage brooders at the moment - hoping to increase our egg-selling capacity this year!
40 new layer chicks are residing in the garage brooders at the moment – hoping to increase our egg-selling capacity this year!

 

First cart ride of the new year - spring is definitely on the way...
First cart ride of the new year – spring is definitely on the way…

 

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Audrey and her banty rooster named Roger - many a day at least one of us can be heard saying "Oh Roger..." as he crows relentlessly just outside the house
Audrey and her banty rooster named Roger – many a day at least one of us can be heard saying “Oh Roger…” as he crows relentlessly just outside the house

I need to check on the chickens…last I heard was a hearty “Ay friends, we’re going to catch us some flappers for dinner!”  Apparently a thriving game of pirate mixed with frontier life is taking place in the back yard at present.  “What are flappers Kyler?”  “Chickens of course mom, don’t you speak pirate-ese?”.

A normal day… (updated)

The announcement goes something like this: “Finn is covered. Head to toe covered. He is completely naked and covered with tiny shards of styrofoam. It’s everywhere. All over the bathroom walls, the counter, the floor. And Finn.”

I take a deep breath. I’m sitting on the couch trying to drink coffee, recovering from a full weekend and our very long Monday. There is some magical thing about a mama who sits down. She can be hustling around fixing breakfast, filling the crockpot with dinner, doing dishes leftover from last night, switching laundry loads, wiping up unidentifiable smashed food and she is near invisible in her work. But sit that mama down and no one misses it. My backside hasn’t been on the couch ten seconds before one, two, then three sweet things are fighting for my lap. Good thing it’s a soft and plentiful lap. Everyone snugs in and about then is when oldest boy comes in with the news about Finn.

And these are the things our everydays are made of. Kids practicing self defense moves on the barn roof. Digging for bones in the forest and coming back with near intact skeletons. Hard working almost teenage Rylee traipsing out to the barn in her pajamas every single morning with a big milk bucket and bed head. Someone forgot to let the turkey out and she’s talking loud from her pen reminding us to set her free for the day. The pigs are done with breakfast but they are ready for second breakfast if anyone cares to oblige. Coyotes are closing in every morning and the three big dogs are on constant watch, sure to bark away any rustle from the forest.  A dog shows up locked in the pantry after someone shut him inside to “clean up” an entire box of spilled granola.

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A two year old whose sparkling blue eyes are sure to dazzle is happy to climb trees or climb onto counters using drawer knobs as a ladder.  She is just as pleased to act as “baby” and get to “nap” in a suitcase.  Only the pretend nap turned real and she lays there in the middle of the noisy kitchen for an hour snoozing.  She has a penchant for “beddies” (berries) and the berry crisp someone accidentally left here last night ended up being her bedtime snack since she found it (and a spoon) before anyone else did.  She loves to snuggle cousins and creatures of every sort.

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Blisters on my hands now just healed from an evening of food prep and endless slicing and dicing. The sacrifice of a weeknight evening for the sake of precious friends seemed painfully small but the only thing I could do to communicate love. Their loss of new life at 11 weeks pregnant was all too familiar to us and besides praying our hearts out, food seems the only other way to extend compassion.

There are stacks of great books to be read, one 7 year old sits reading to me this very minute. The library hold shelf bears our name and inquiring ones want to know when we can go pick up the waiting books. Older ones have been enlisted by youngers to place holds so even the littles have books waiting for them today.

As for me, only styrofoam awaits me at the moment I’m afraid.  Lots and lots of styrofoam…

***Updated 9:56 AM***  While I scoped out the styrofoam mess I came downstairs to the sound of Dad’s drill on the front porch.  This is what I found: 

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When I inquired about what was taking place, Finn was quick to explain “I caught a moth, I put it in a ziploc and Audrey helped me poke holes so it could breath.  I’m going to drill it into the front door to make sure dad can see it when he gets home.”  To which I took another deep breath and commended him for his use of eye protection then I explained that while that was very sweet, it would permanently ruin the door.  We searched for a big piece of wood and screwed the ziploc into it instead.  It is propped up by Dad’s parking spot waiting for his return.  The front door is scratched but not badly so.

While it might be very entertaining for me to write these posts every day (as this is very normal) – it would surely overwhelm.  But for posterity’s sake I’d sure like to try every now and then!

The great chicken harvest of 2014

It was a bold endeavour, purchasing 54 day old tiny chicks and expecting them to grow to eating size in twelve weeks.  It felt bold or at the very least presumptious to expect them to turn into food in such a short time.  I had intended for Caleb to help me with the meat bird chores but honestly, I sort of enjoyed the routine of my solitary morning ritual of heading out to the far end of our property with a big bucket of feed and five gallon water buckets to replenish their supply.  Though heavy, the chicken tractors were just light enough for me to move by myself.  The heaving of them across a new patch of grass every morning was good hard work for this mama.  After giving them a new location each morning, I fed them and watered them.  Each tractor held 25 birds and in the last four weeks, they sometimes went through five gallons of water in one day. The rate of consumtion for food and water rather blew me away.  It was so far above and beyond our upcoming flock of layers.  And with the consumption came incredible excrement.  They poop more than you can imagine because they are growing so much.

Here are a few lessions learned now that harvest day has come and gone, in case its helpful for anyone…or simply intriguing for those who think this whole thing seems crazy:

  1. In order to save hatchery shipping costs, we went in with two other families.  We ordered 165 chicks together.  We estimated the feed we would need and also bought that together and had it delivered by the pallet to our home.  Doing these two things together saved at least $200 dollars between our three families.
  2. The other two families (who had done meat birds before) rationed out their food properly and did not run out of food like I did (read my other post, from before butchering day, here).  I on the other hand, was naively amazed how “hungry” they were and just kept feeding them.  This meant buying about 800 lbs more feed part way through raising them.  Which seemed a big bummer and would really increase my cost per pound of raising them.  However, in this particular instance, my ignorance paid tremendous dividends.  When our friends drove up with their birds on harvest day, they were totally shocked at the size of our birds.  They were literally twice the size.
  3. A stainless steel table to do all the evisceration on is invaluable.  I’d planned on using our plastic folding tables from Costco and then just bleaching them well.  But our friend Mike brough a chest high stainless table, probably intended for dressing deer or other game.  Because of its height, we didn’t have to bend over for hours.  AND it was very easy to sanitze/clean.  Which proved excellent.
  4. Using the rented equipment from our county, which included a stand with stainless kill cones, a blood collecting basin, a dunking rack and scalding tank and a defeathering tub, made a potentionally dismal task into sometime inherently doable.  Even for a novice mama with six kids!  Once everyone sort of “fell in” to a task, things moved very quickly.  We processed the first 50 chickens in about two hours and then took lunch.  The second 50 took less than two hours.
  5. Kids can do more than you think.  This is perhaps what most blew me away for the day.  Very early on, several children had proved themselves indispensable.  Caleb and TJ and two adults caught the chickens and put them upside down into the kill cones.
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    The most humane way to harvest a chicken is to place it upside down where it quickly gets a head rush and is fairly still.  Then with a sharp knife, slitting the neck so the blood can drain out swiftly and fully.  Caleb did almost all of that job and he did it very well.  He is ten years old.  I was surprised and very impressed.  Rylee and her friend Elianna rocked the scalding tank and defeatherer.  They would take the chickens from the boys and hook them by feet up to the rack and then dunk them until their feathers were loose enough to go into the defeathering tub.

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  6. Evisceration is more of a grown up job.  If you botch it, you puncture the bowels and then have a poopy mess inside your chicken.  Which is not ideal.  Having a tall table to do this work was extrememly valuable.  And having many hands on the task was also awesome.  It made the work fly by.
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  7. Having a hearty lunch ready and waiting is imperative.  We ate big bowls of chili from the crockpot (thanks Nana!) and went right back to work.
  8. You need more ice than you think!  It was a sunny warm day.  We used all ten bags of ice we got.  Keeping the chickens cold after defeathering before evisceration is important as is keep them cold after they are all done.  We soaked them in a salt, ice water brine all day before packaging them for the freezer.  We don’t have big coolers but used clean, garbage bag lined stainless metal 32 gallon trash cans.  They worked beautifully, just required lots of ice.
  9. Shade would be helpful.  We would have been better off with a white tent over the table where we did the finishing work.  It got warm quickly and though the hose water was cold, it still would be better with shade.  Next year for sure we’ll have a tent over that table.
  10. A vacuum sealer, though the bags are spendy, is super nice for storing the birds.  A two gallon freezer ziploc would work, we used some.  But the vacuum sealed ones, I’m sure, will keep better in the freezer.

All said, it was an amazing day.  We worked super hard and with a great crew of people, it really went very fast.  It was truly easier than we expected.  I was super proud of our kids, they were something else.  At the end of the day we netted 250 lbs of chicken in the freezer.  We traded a few for work.  And cooked a couple right away.  But most of them are in the freezer! After all was said and done, we all agreed we’d definitely like to do it again.  It was very worth the work.  Besides the bit of time feeding them each morning, really it only entailed one long day of work.  Which was quite manageable.

Andrea Laurita Photography

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When people come to our home, one of the first things they comment on is a set of four square canvas prints on our living room wall.  They almost always ask for the story behind them, which I never get tired of sharing.  Our friend Andrea of Andrea Laurita Photography is a talented photo journalist.  She has woven her gifts with the lens into a variety of jobs over the past decade or so, allowing God to use her in all sorts of places and ways.  The four prints we have are of beautiful children in Sierra Leonne, Thailand and Afghanistan.  They are a constant reminder of the world around us, far beyond what we see every day on the farm.  They help me remember.  And if the photos weren’t enough, Andrea used the proceeds from them to help fund a college education from a girl she met in Liberia.

Currently, this darling young friend of ours lives in Portland.  She is spunky and gracious and flexible.  Exactly what I think makes her a fantastic professional photographer.  All the photos you see on our blog, header and side bar, are accredited to her.  And can I just say anyone crazy enough to take on a photo session of a family with six kids is downright brave!  We’ve never been disappointed in her work.  She has wonderfully captured our family several times now.  If you live within a couple hours of Portland and are even considering doing family photos or are getting married or have a new baby, check this girl out!  She is willing to drive to the Seattle area, especially if a few people want to book a session the same week or weekend.

Here are a few favorites from this last session she did for us, which we decided to do at home this time instead of traveling somewhere “photogenic”:

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The view from here

The sky is overcast and gray but all the sounds around me are a dead giveaway.  It is spring.  There are birds singing in every direction.  The rooster crows every five minutes and his teenage counterpart tries to follow along but can’t get the job done just yet.   There is a girl with an electric shaver trimming her goat to perfection for the dairy goat show in two weeks.  There are 5 week old goat kids frolicking with two human kids at their heels.  There is the constant clucking of the proud laying hens and the frantic hustling of the two dozen pullets who can’t yet lay and get a pecking every day to remind them they haven’t yet arrived to a productive adulthood.  Our ten year old son is inside at the stove, he just popped over to me in my chair in the grass to ask “Can I make you an egg?  Please!?”.  How could I say I’d already had toast and wasn’t hungry?  He is mastering the art of frying eggs.  He is proud of the fact he now makes them even better than his mama does (could have something to do with the focus he brings and the constant multi-tasking of this mama!).

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Our epic water emergency of last week seems, for just a moment, a distant memory and life is calm and peaceful and instead of make another list for something, I sit and watch.  There are way too many weeds in the driveway.  I ought to pull grass from the base of the fledgling raspberries so they can grow.  The seed potatoes are still sitting in the garage.  Pretty sure they aren’t going to grow me new potatoes in there.    But there are peonies to watch.  The splendor of those blooms of theirs is unparalleled.  They have to be one of most glorious flowers in the Pacific Northwest.  Staring at the peonies wins over the other tasks that practically call my name as I sit in the grass.

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I should be calling the flooring people for the repairs that will need to be made inside where the water flowed down the hallway.  But all I can think about is the irony of the fact that though we were without water for a spell (which felt no small thing whilst 6 kids were throwing up), we had the luxury of a friend with a truck and a big heart, who toted 5 gallon buckets of crystal clear spring water from the artisan well that flows 24/7 down the hill from us.  I have no idea how it works or who put the spout there.  But the water is amazing and free for the taking.  In spring time it sometimes pours out over the road, it is such a plentiful source of abundance.  The reality that the bulk of the world has no access to water like that and drinks daily from filthy rivers or mud-puddles seems so gravely wrong to me.  I told Audrey last week, the most common cause for death for children five and under around the world stems from drinking dirty water.  She said, “Wow, I’m glad I just turned six!”.  But it is a painful reality.  One that I can’t ever get far from my mind, especially when I drive past that water.

What are we supposed to do, us born into a life that compared to most of the world, is chock full of abundance?  Take constant inventory I guess, and find ways to give more, love more, bless more.  Hold loosely to things, not in a disrespectful way but it a way that reflects the truth that says people matter more than the stuff.  While its tempting to bemoan the mess that waits inside for me, I’d do best to count myself incredibly blessed to have books that line shelves and boxes full of hand-me-down shoes for my kids and coats in every size (despite the fact that said items are piled in disarray at the moment).  Clothing and a safe home and water and food enough to share, the things that I easily forget to be thankful for.  But take one away for a day or two and I’m quickly reminded how the basics are really all we need. The continual tension is good I suppose, it is right and when it leaves, that’s when I should worry.

For now, I’ll just soak in a few more minutes of enjoying my view from the grass.

 

Spring snapshots

Busy days here…keeping up with school work and farm work is filling the days right up.  Here are some glimpses into what we’re up to:

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The boys and daddy headed to the local Mountain Man show – by next year I vow to have a proper outfit for the hubby to wear, if he dares!

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It was sunny one day, so they donned swimsuits and went down the creek…turns out it wasn’t warm enough for a swim…but it was fun.

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worlds’ cutest little garden helper

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“the kind of thing brothers like to do”

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our friend Tom doing a (fantastic) barn add-on so we’ve got room for babies due end of April

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this farm girl has been working overtime helping with animals and work these days – her goat Blanchette is due May 1 with her first set of kids – we can feel them moving inside her belly every day

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the 54 meat chicks have graduated outdoors to their chicken tractor – thank goodness, smelly little buggers overstayed their welcome in the garage

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how this chicken could NOT make you laugh out loud, I don’t know, her name is Benny and she was the “free bonus chick” with our hatchery order – she or he is a riot – she resides in a pen with 25 brown Rhode Island Red pullets (below)

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remember those strawberries I wrote about?  here they are, putting down roots and setting new leaves!

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bare root raspberries, just getting their first leaves, seems weird to plant a stick looking thing in the ground and expect it to do something, but it is!

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trying out a bite of dandelion next to the cucumber bed

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daddy’s super cool mason bee home that we put three tubes of dormant mason bees into with hopes they will come out soon and pollinate all over our yard!

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Audrey taking Nana for an ATV ride!

 

Adding to our flock

We’ve spent the better part of these past two years figuring out how to care for and utilize the space we have.  We didn’t plant a garden the first year but waited instead to see where the summer sun would be hottest.  Then last year we had a baby due right at the peak of harvest season so we (wisely!) decided to forgo the garden and joined a CSA for produce instead.  Our hens are getting older and aren’t laying as predictably as before.  That, coupled with the fact our kids would like to sell eggs (and already have customers waiting!), meant adding to our laying flock.  Which meant chicks.  Which meant having a brooder space for them to be safely out of Finn’s reach, the cat’s claws and warm enough despite getting them very early in the season.

I didn’t want to add work to my already very hard working husband’s plate.  So the kids and I set out to build a large box-type home for the chicks.  I learned many things about power tools in the process, like using big screws in the impact driver on really dry, cheap wood means splitting the wood at least 50% of the time.  I got splinters.  The box isn’t beautiful.  But it serves its purpose and for that I am proud.  The best part is, we got to work on it as a team, which is always fun…

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these loud “chicks” were waiting inside the completed brooder to greet daddy when he came home

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nothing quite so fun as going to the post office first thing in the morning to pick up a very loud peeping box of cuteness!

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