Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Camping and Biking

    You know how you don't appreciate the things that are right in front of you?  I grew up just a few miles from the Virginia Creeper Trail, and never biked it.  I go back to visit several times a year, and never have thought to plan a biking trip, and probably never would have, if a friend of mine hadn't said, "We need to to bike the Creeper! Lets do it this spring."  Well, spring turned into summer, but last weekend we finally did bike the Creeper!  We had a blast, and I cannot believe it has taken me so long to do it.

     We camped out at my parents, up in what we call the "Hollow". My parents, not being natives to the area, refused to call it a "hollar" like everyone does.  We brought our "new to us" pop up camper, which I love more and more every time we camp.  Being able to sleep while camping is wonderful!
     My brother, David, was working on the house that he's building while we were up there.  He had a back hoe out, excavating what will be his cellar.  After we got back from camping, Samuel, lured by the sound of heavy equipment, went to go watch David work.  A couple of hours later, he comes back into camp and says, "Guess what, Mommy? Uncle David let me operate the back hoe." What!?  That turns out to have been his favorite part of the whole trip.  Even more fun than the front loader rides all the kids got.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day

     Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day and Midsummer's Night Eve with supper and marshmallows around the bonfire, and then a sun cake.  We also said goodbye to our chick, as a friend came and got them.  All in all, a pretty good day, and a good beginning for summer.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Canning Gift Labels

     With canning season nearly upon us, I made some gift labels to fit on top of jar lids. I love giving (and receiving!) home canned goodies, and I needed some cute labels to make them extra special.  I didn't make them season specific, because you never know when you'll need to have a quick gift to give. They are available free, for anyone to use. You can download a printable PDF here. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mama Hen

     Our AC has not been working, and it has been so hot here the past few days!  Every thing seems to be shriveling in the heat, us included.  This evening, as I was sitting outside enjoying the relative cool, Anna came running up and said,"Mama, the chicks are out!" They have always had the ability to get out, but as of then, the mama hen had not seen fit to take them out.  Today was so hot though, that I think she had just had enough of being cooped up, and decided to take her babies on their first outing. She had them in the long grass behind the coop, and they followed along, never straying too far from her protection.
     She was always on the lookout for potential predators, and kept a continual dialogue between herself and her chicks, so that they would always hear where she was.

      She showed them where to find food by pecking at the ground and making a particular sound. When she felt that they had enough outside time she led them back into the coop. One little chick wasn't following close enough, and didn't see how they went in.  It wanted to go through the wire to get to it's mama, and started panicking when it realized it couldn't get in that way. Anna caught it, and set it at the doorway, where it immediately ran to it's mama. You could almost see its relief.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

We Have Chicks!

    A couple of months ago, one of our hens went broody.  We tried to discourage her by removing the eggs and forcing her to leave the nest box, but she was not having it.  So I relented, and got some eggs from a friend who has a rooster.  (Nothing was going to be hatching out of our eggs, no matter how long she sat.)  Twenty days later, we had our first chick. A little brown, chipmunk striped, ball of fluff.
    Day 21, the little yellow one hatched, then on day 22, we had another stripy one.  Early Monday morning, on day 23, I went out to check on the chicks, and saw a dead little chick outside of the nest box. It's shell was next to it, and it had evidently fallen out of the nest box while hatching, and died from exposure.  But then, as I bent down for a closer look, I saw a little breath; a few seconds later, another one.  I quickly got Anna, (she is much better at dealing with crazy broody chickens than I am) and she put it under the mama's wing.  She was sure it was dead, but I knew I saw it breathe, and sure enough, several hours later we saw it stick it's little head out from underneath it's mama, alive and well!

   It has adorable little spots on it, as if its specially marked. We did have one other chick hatch on Monday, but it was not formed right, and didn't make it.  Which made me doubly glad that this little chick survived.
     The mama hen has been an excellent mother.  She wouldn't leave her eggs for anything, and now she protects and cares for her little chicks with extreme devotion.  We do not need four more chicks, though, and so we will be giving these away soon.  I would let them stay longer, if we had a better set-up, but what we have now is very temporary, and wont work for much longer.
     The low gate discourages the other hens from getting in their space, but there really isn't enough space.  I am glad to have had this experience, and will definitely let a mama hen do all the work in raising chicks, next time I need to expand our flock.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


     We finally have snow!  After an unusually mild winter, it has turned cold and snowy.  The kids are ecstatic, and I have to admit that I am happy about it too.  The endless rain and mud was getting me a little down.
     Yesterday, we had what the kids call "snowman snow"; wet and sticky. They built a snowman, went sledding, and had snowball fights, until Samuel started dropping giant snowballs off the deck onto Abriel and Anna. They came in soaked and crying, and had to have a warm bath. 

     Today, after the snow we received last night, everything was powdery, cold, and crunchy.   The snowman's face had been obliterated.  Samuel and Abriel tried to spruce it up, but found that even the hat was frozen to it.

      They decided that today was a good snow ice-cream day, so Anna made a big batch after she had tended to the chickens.

    I am trying to ignore the fact that snow ice-cream is just dirty ice crystals.  I just hope she was really careful about where she got the snow. There's a lot of chicken poo around, hidden by the snow.  Hazards of free-range chickens.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Little Moomins

      I've been doing a little post Christmas crafting, now that I no longer have project deadlines looming over me.  I decided to make something that I've been wanting to for awhile; something just for fun.
     I loved the Moomintroll books as a teen, and still love reading them occasionally. I've always wanting to make little dolls of the characters.  There is something so endearing about them. I never could figure out how to make them, until I discovered needle felting,but it's only been recently that I felt my skill level was up to doing anything more than birds and mushrooms.
     So, here are my three favorite moomins, Moomintroll, Snufkin, and Little My.  Little My has always been my favorite, despite her naughtiness.
      Moomintroll is the only one who is completely needle felted. For the other two, I used a combination of techniques.  Other than the felted heads, they are made very similar to Sally Mavor's wee folk.
      Snufkins hands were particularly challenging.  I would have liked to have made Little My's the same, but it wouldn't have worked out, with her being so small. 
      It was a fun little project, but I'm not sure what I'll use them for. Maybe I'll attach strings to their heads, and use them as ornaments.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Anna at her concert

     Anna had her Christmas band concert last night.  She's been playing for about a year and a half, and she is doing so well.  Here is a picture showing her intense concentration.  
     I'm not sure who the girl in braids is, but Samuel informed me that he intends to marry her one day.  Of course, he says that about a lot of girls.

Summer in Winter

     It has been so unseasonably warm lately.  It's been in the sixties all week, and today it got up to seventy.  I mowed the yard in a tank top... in December!  It doesn't really feel like Christmas, but hey, I'm not complaining.  I hate the cold.  In fact, it felt so nice today, that I decided to have a little bonfire. 
     We roasted sausages and watched the flames as it got dark.  Listening to the sounds of the chickens bedding down for the night, and noting the absence of night noises, as it is after all, December, and all the insects know that. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree

     We got our Christmas tree this Saturday.  We always get it the first Saturday in December, although we usually end up decorating it a few days later.  This year we had to get a new stand, after not being able to find the stand that both Dave and I swore we bought last year.  Apparently we are both losing our minds, because there was no stand to be found anywhere. 
     After we finally got the tree put up, I realized we were down to only one strand of lights, so I had to get some of those before we could finally decorate.  I told the kids to do it a little differently this year.  We only put on the ornaments we really like, and the ornaments that no one was really crazy about, we would donate. 
     We all really enjoyed doing it this way.  After it was decorated it looked so pretty that the kids all begged to be allowed to sleep under it.  I usually let them do this at least once a year.  The patterns the lights make in the dark room are so magical, and the smell of the fir tree makes you feel all homey and safe. 

     After they finally fell asleep, I snuck in and took a couple of pictures.  Luckily the flash didn't wake them up.  Anna didn't want to sleep on the floor this year, because it's too hard.  I guess she's getting older.  It looks like Ginger Cat felt the same way.