Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Chickens Are Here!

The chickens are here! And what a relief! They were supposed to be here yesterday. I called McMurray's Hatchery. The chickens left on Saturday. I called the Brewton post office. They told me the chickens would be dead on arrival because it was too hot to ship chickens and they had been in transit too long. I had a rough day worrying about those chickens yesterday.

My brother Larry suggested the chicks didn't make it to us yesterday because last night was chicken wing night at the post office. I am glad he was wrong, lol.

We set up a swimming pool for the chickens in the dining room. Right now the pool is a brooder. If the heat wave continues, we may have to turn it into a pond.

They appear to like chillin' out in the swimming pool.

Only one chicken died in transit. One other looked pretty weak when we opened the box. Now they all look pretty good.

We all have enjoyed just watching the chicks. And watching. And watching. It is getting ridiculous, but they are just so cute. Around here, we are big Stargate SG1 fans. In one episode the team travels to a planet with a fancy light feature. Everyone stands around and stares at it for hours. That is kind of how it is around here today. When Kurt finally tore himself away to go to work, I warned him he might find all of us still in the watching position and still in our pajamas when he came home.

We ordered 50 straight run Barred Plymouth Rocks, 10 Araucana hens and received one mystery rare breed chicken. We lost one of the Araucana hens in transit. I can't figure out which 9 chickens are the Araucanas. I can only locate 7 likely suspects.

The children have been dying to hold and pet the chicks.

Since we have mostly barred rocks, I let the children hold one of them each. Gregory seemed a bit nervous at first and his little guy got away. I managed to chase him down and get him back to Gregory though.

We all spotted the rare breed mystery chicken right away by his straight stance and golden feathers.

I think I figured out the identity of our little rare breed chicken. I think he/she is a Buff Laced Polish crested chicken. Gabrielle asked that we not eat the rare breed chicken even if he is a rooster. I'm not sure what we are going to do with him when he is all grown up.

Both children wanted to hold the rare breed little guy.

We had managed to catch him early on for Gabrielle to hold, but when it came time for Gregory to hold him, he escaped all of our efforts. I didn't want to stress him out too much so we gave up easily.

Gregory decided he would like to hold one of the Araucanas. He did and it immediately pooped/peed on him. LOL, we are on the fast track to farmer-hood.

Even Michael enjoyed the chickens once he got a nap.

Earlier, he seemed almost jealous of the chickens. I guess he thought we were paying too much attention to our new arrivals and not enough to him.

I worry Michael is going to grab one of them and squeeze it. Hopefully, he can't reach that far.

Michael looks pretty cute watching the chickens.

After a tough journey through the mail and a food and water feast, some of the chicks were ready for a good nap.

They are so cute splayed out asleep. They are so funny when they just drop where ever they are.

They fall asleep in the middle of the crowd without a thought. One even fell asleep with his head in the feeder. All in all they are very cute. We have to continually remind ourselves at least some of these guys are destined for the dinner table.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer Time in June

June delights us each year with festivals and family fun. Once again on the first Saturday of June, we traveled to Pensacola's historic village for the museum open house.

The children love the hands on activities and I love that they can explore their inner drummer without having to allow that kind of noise in the house.

This year, Kurt worked and didn't join us. We missed him, but at least I was able to spend more time talking to the tatting lady. I found out she gives tatting lessons and so that is now on my "to-do" list.

We love the indoor exhibits because there is air conditioning, an important consideration in the summer. (This year the weather was unusually beautiful fortunately.)

Gabrielle got to practice her Irish dancing.

Last summer both children took Irish dance classes from the teacher in charge of this exhibit. The Irish dancing is a long standing favorite of ours.

For whatever reason, Gabrielle always finds the chair caning lady.

I think it is because she starts looking for a place to sit early on.

This year, Gregory discovered a new favorite exhibition: Weapons. Rather than playing on the trolley as in years past, Gregory spent his time learning about historical weapons, especially guns.

The Wentworth museum hosts the kids' favorite exhibit however.

Here they get to dress up in period costumes and play.

Gabrielle spends most of her time with the food and in kitchens.

For a child who fails to cooperate at every meal, she sure loves playing with food.

Of course Gregory is a soldier at heart.

He loves shooting and forts and ships and more shooting.

I'm more and more fascinated with basket weaving. Perhaps it is because I love baskets. Basket weaving may have to go on my "to-learn" list one of these days.

Wood turning is another of our favorites. I suppose part of it centers around the fact so much of spinning involves turned wood tools.

Gregory couldn't wait to show me his new discovery.

He thought it was a tractor tank. He is totally into all things soldier.

He even got Gabrielle in on the saluting thing.

After the open house, we had our traditional picnic lunch.

This year we went to the little bay front park at the foot of the bridge to Gulf Breeze.

Even with all of the beauty, Gabrielle likes "car picnicking."

Of course Michael had his little picnic meal too.

Although I didn't get a picture, since I was too busy trying to point them out to both of the children, we saw a couple of dolphin playing in the water.

It was great to be close to the water again. Naturally when I say "by the water" I mean by the sea.

A great blue heron watched us eat while it worked at catching its own lunch.

Back on the homefront, we continue to work towards chicken husbandry. Gabrielle and I explored the "junk" corner of our property looking for things we could use in chicken coop construction. We found some metal roof panels!

When Gabrielle and I took Kurt for a look, Michael had to come along. He loves riding along in his little pouch.

We were very blessed to have some friends of ours agree to spend Father's Day at our place building the chicken coop. They arrived at 6:30 a.m. and we all planned to have the coop built before noon when we would have a barbecue and some swimming.

When the chicken coop construction looked like this after a few hours, I knew we were in trouble.

After 8 hours of work, the guys quit.

This is what the chicken coop looks like today. The chickens will be here in less than a week. It turns out the bad drought we are having is doing more than killing our grass. It is also baking our ground into bricks. The men simply couldn't dig holes for poles.

I'm concerned about the hard ground since I've ordered 7 fruit trees which are supposed to be here tomorrow. I don't know how I am going to plant them.

I'm trying to soften the ground with some water. I pray this will do the trick.

The garden continues to grow despite an ever increasing list of challenges.

Gregory's corn is growing. However, the corn in the back is nowhere near as healthy as the corn in the front. I suspect Kurt spread the compost in an uneven pattern. I'm going to try to add compost to the back of the garden to see if it helps.

I discovered a new problem this morning when I went out to take pictures of the corn.

This guy apparently fails to understand the fence is supposed to keep him out. I caught him munching and squishing my plants happily without regard to our fencing efforts. It looks like he killed my cantaloupe. How disappointing. The cantaloupe were the next healthiest looking plants after Gregory's corn.

Saturday brought the Brewton Blueberry Festival to the downtown area. Despite the heat, we had a great time. I picked up 24 pints of blueberries, which are now blueberry jam and 2 blueberry bushes.

This bush looks great, but I don't think my other one is going to make it. I'll have to call the nursery and see if they guarantee their plants.

We loved the "Redneck Hammocks."

Michael got to cruise the festival in comfort.

Quite a number of people thought he was cute.

Even though it was not an official part of the festival, Gregory loved the camouflage golf cart.

Of course, this goes with his love affair with all things military.

Gregory even found a military booth.

He bought a yo yo to commemerate the experience.

Michael has learned to make our lives more difficult.

Not only has he learned to crawl, but he is climbing up on everything now too.

This allows him access to a whole new world of off-limits stuff.

It also makes it harder for me to be on the computer since he spots me from his crib in an instant. He looks like Kilroy of the "Kilroy was Here" fame.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I've been working on my prayer projects whenever I can squeeze in a little bit of time, which has not been often lately. I did finish spinning 3 bobbins of GCNI fiber for the Hurricane Sock Yarn I am making for Dale.

Now I just have to ply them. This will be my first three-ply yarn ever. I understand three-ply is better for socks. I can't wait to see how it looks. I would have plied it up right away, however, Bill Wyatt, of Wyatt Wheels recently developed a high speed bobbin and whorl for the Pegasus and I am testing one out for him. So, I thought I would move onto my Moderator Yarn before plying the other.

I grabbed two ounces of Funny River Ranch alpaca, three ounces of Serenity Farms Corriedale wool and some angelina fiber for my blend.

It carded up into some beautiful batts.

The yarn is a bit challenging to spin because the fiber is a bunch of different lengths, but I sure do appreciate Mr. Wyatt's fast bobbin!!!

In addition to spinning and praying for Dale as she prepares for her bone marrow transplant, The Christian Artisans are knitting the Elegantly Simple Shawl while praying for Dale too. Due to everything else I am trying to do right now, I've barely done anything on my shawl. However, it is much prettier than I expected thanks to some very beautiful Heritage Yarns tencel yarn. It is hard to see the pretty purples and the teal in my picture unfortunately.

I think everyone is farther along than I am. Oh well. I do need to refocus a bit on it after I have completed my spinning for Dale because one of the ladies from Christian Artisans, Theresa and I are going to knit along with the Peacock shawl later this summer.

We've been doing a bit of gardening around here as well.

This is our family's first attempt at a vegetable garden. We are pretty good at growing weeds. Other than that, only Gregory's corn looks really good. The other plants are hard to locate among the weeds. We have tried to pull out the weeds, but I am worried about pulling out the vegetables at the same time. At least we can tell which plants are corn.

In our ever increasing quest to raise some of our own food, we are still pursuing the chicken thing. We visited Barbara's house last weekend to take a look at her chicken coop.

She has a couple of Dominique chickens. I understand she just bought another 69 chickens Tuesday. I'd love to have seen them.

Barbara and Jerry are still modifying their chicken coop. What they have finished is really nice. They promised to help us with ours. And. . .

We need to get our chicken preparations going because yesterday I ordered 50 Plymouth Rock and 10 Araucana chickens! They will be here by the end of the month. I figured we needed a deadline or we would never get it together.

Here is our chicken coop today.

Okay, I will admit it takes quite a bit of imagination to see it.

Alright, this is where we plan to build our chicken coop. I can't wait to get it started. It will be great to get the chickens into it - especially since they will have to spend the first few weeks in our house. (We don't have a garage.)

And while I am using my imagination, I would love to clear some of the woods behind our house and build a barn.

Can't you just see a barn back there? And maybe some sheep and a couple of goats? I wonder how far I could get my husband to go with this farming stuff?

I have all sorts of ideas for our property if we stay here long enough. Behind the first set of trees on the east side of our house is the creek that separates our property from the next property. I thought we should explore this creek and find out what feeds it. Perhaps we could build a pond off the creek.

At a minimum it would be nice to clear a little path to the creek and perhaps set a bench there to create a quiet little retreat.

Here is the dirt road leading to our property. I just love how old fashioned it looks. It reminds me of something out of the Waltons or something.

The 7 acres behind the line of trees coming down to the road used to be a part of our property before the prior owner subdivided it. I think it would have been great had the whole 12 acres been a part of our purchase too. Oh well.

In addition to eggs from our chickens, we hope to get meat. I will need to learn how to butcher the chickens. (YIKES!) The prior owner of our property was apparently a big deer hunter. On the back of the property behind the workshop is a little hunting shed of sorts.

From inside you can see it was once something else, I don't know what. Now it stores a bunch of junk. However, there are lots of big sinks and counters. With substantial cleaning we may be able to turn it into a place to butcher the chickens. I am going to have to convince my husband to start mowing in this area or it will be lost to the woods though.

What I really need are more hours in the day. If I could just get up earlier, I could get more done, but with allergies, it is hard to do.

Like his mother, Michael is not much of a morning person either. He often wakes up grumpy.

However, there is nothing like exploring to cheer him up.

Even though he can't crawl or walk, he can sure figure out how to get into stuff.

He manages to "scooch" around on his stomach and face often getting up on all fours like he is going to crawl, rocking forward and back a few times, then leaping forward onto his stomach. It is quite funny and naturally defies my efforts to catch it with the camera.

Michael really likes stuff. At the foot of his crib we keep a few toys. Like a dragon, Michael likes to sleep on his toys.

I sure hope this isn't a sign of a bent towards materialism!