Saturday, July 08, 2006

Busy July Days

My little girl turned 7 on the first of July. I can't believe how fast the children are growing up.

She still didn't get all of the candles out this year. Maybe next year.

Just for fun, I snuck into Gabrielle's bedroom and decorated it for her birthday before she woke up.

She misses the time and attention she received from us before Michael was born and before the hurricane distracted us. I wanted to make this birthday a memorable one for her.

We like the Life of Faith dolls.

For her birthday, Gabrielle received the Violet Travilla doll, which is Elsie Dinsmore's daughter. Gabrielle received Elsie for Christmas.

We've been reading the Elsie Dinsmore books for awhile now. We're still trying to get the second set of 4 books. Our order got very mixed up and so we are still waiting. Once we receive the books and finish them, we will be able to start on the Violet Travilla books!

Gabrielle told Gregory she wanted a doctor set for her birthday.

Gregory obliged.

Of course a check from Grandma and Grandpa is always worth a smile. They also sent a nice Christian kid's music CD.

In the meantime, our chicks are growing fast. Here they are at about a week old.

They are starting to really chow down on the feed. I need to quickly secure a source for non-medicated starter that doesn't cost a fortune.

As the pool gets more crowded, I've been increasing the level of woodchips to increase the space a bit.

The chickens appreciate the opportunity to climb around. It helps them from getting too bored.

The pool steps and slide give the chickens a bit of extra space. And we need it because coop building has been taking much longer than we hoped.

Despite several full days of work into the project, there is still lots of building to go.

It will be a great coop once it is finally finished.

I haven't mentioned the barn I want yet. I think I'd better keep that one to myself for awhile.

At two weeks of age, when the chickens aren't eating, they are sleeping.

They grow so fast too.

We are already seeing pecking order establishing behavior. The ones that are obviously roosters fly into each other, chest to chest. They also take turns establishing their reign as king of the waterer, until knocked off by the competition.

Many of them are growing wing and tail feathers.

Our little Polish crested chicken has the start of some head crest feathers.

The Aracauna/Americauna chickens are growing fastest and feathering out first.

Gabrielle and I think this little Americauna is the prettiest chicken we have. She has really pretty coloring and a nice shape to her face. There is kind of a cross on her head.

The chickens are able to jump and fly up to the top of the slide now. It is pretty funny when one accidentally slides down.

In addition to raising chickens, we've also been planting. I picked up two blueberry bushes at the blueberry festival a few weeks ago.

I am hoping these will grow huge and produce lots of blueberries for us in the coming years.

I also ordered 7 fruit trees which came bare root.

The apple trees are really leafing out well. The plum, cherry and one of the peach are doing well too. One peach may have to be replaced. I will probably have to wait until next Spring at this point.

Gregory's corn is actually producing, despite the weed overgrowth.

I actually spotted some tufts of corn silk.

The purple coloring is interesting. I've never actually seen corn growing before. When the grainy looking shoots sprung from the top, I thought perhaps that turned into corn. I never suspected it would grow among the leaves.

The hot peppers are doing well too. I actually wanted to make home grown salsa, but the tomatoes don't look like they will oblige us this year.

On a whim, I picked up an eggplant plant while at the Farmer's Exchange about a month ago.

Now there is a big purple flower on it.

The cantaloupes have been blooming forever, but we haven't seen a single cantaloupe form.

You'd think with so many plants and flower, we'd get one or two cantaloupes.

I've been cleaning out the swimming pool chicken brooder every day so there would be no smell and so the chickens would be healthy without medication in food, water or shots.

Since the litter is barely used, I've been dumping it in the garden as mulch. Hopefully that will help with the excessive weed growth.

While weeding, I discovered an interesting plant. I didn't pull it because the leaves looked like Swiss cheese. I figured if the bugs were getting it, it must be something I planted. I was wrong.

Now it is growing something on it. I have no idea what it is.

Any guesses?

A couple of days ago I was thinking about dairy goats and goat housing. We have a branch clippers and I wondered if I could clear out some of the woods with them. I've always used this tool for practically everything anyway.

I actually cleared about 10 square feet with them. We haven't had much rain for months so I thought this was a good time to clear out some of the underbrush. It is a fire hazard anyway.

This is what the woods looks like right now. I started thinking this area was probably logged at one time and is in the process of regrowing. There aren't really any large trees. That makes me feel better about clearing it.

How have the kids been contributing to our farming efforts? While, most of the time, their efforts look something like this:

They're stirring up the pool water so the pump works better.

I've been knitting here and there, mostly while I wait for the kids during karate.

My shawl is barely progressing and I've started a new pair of socks. I still remember to pray for Dale throughout the day. I hate to think about all she is going through right now. Please pray for her too. And if you feel led, there are a couple of ways to contribute to her unmet expenses.

I plied up and washed a couple of skeins of Gulf Coast Native Improved fiber for sock yarn for Dale.

I sure hope she enjoys knitting with it one of these days.

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