Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Cleaning

     The organizing bug has hit me hard this summer.  It started with a homeschool moms meeting.  The lady's house that we met at was spotless; not just clean, but perfectly put together and coordinated. You couldn't even tell she homeschooled, or had kids for that matter! So I come home to my crowded little house, where no one would ever assume I wasn't a homeschooling mom, because all of our books and etc. is right there in the open as soon as you walk in the door.  Then there's all the other stuff here there and everywhere, because really and truly I am running out of space. So I started feeling a little discontented with my house.
     The second thing that happened was we got someone to come and look at our broken heat pump.  It turns out that a very expensive part is broken. We had the money to get it fixed, but unfortunately it's money that had been earmarked to pay for a new bathroom floor, since the current one is rotting away. I went from being discontented to very frustrated. It felt like everything in the house was getting worse and worse, and there wasn't anything I could do about it.
     That's when I had to stop and take a look at myself, and say, "What are you doing? Stop comparing and focusing on what you don't have, and think about what you do have, and what you can do."  First of all, I am way too eclectic to ever be perfectly coordinated, and I really don't want a bigger house. The size of our house is fine, it's just the amount of stuff filling it up that has gotten out of hand. I would like to have the bathroom floor fixed, but I can't do anything about that right now. What I can do right now is get rid of the extra stuff that is cluttering up the house, and making it seem crowded, and organize the stuff that I want to keep.
     I started with my bed room since it is hands down, the worst room in the house.  After buying shelves to store my fabric and other sewing paraphernalia, I managed to fill up five garbage bags of trash, as well as a huge box of stuff to donate to Good Will, from my bedroom alone!  I really am not a hoarder, and I do regularly go through my stuff, but this time I went though everything, including my file cabinet which had not been sorted through in years. It was bad.  I now feel sooo much less anxiety when I'm in my room.  Just getting everything clean and ordered has been huge, but now I want to get every thing looking pretty. But before I can do that, I need to tackle Anna's room.  Since I moved the twins out, her room has turned into a pack-rat's paradise.

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.