Saturday, June 30, 2007

Silly me!

I was not thinking, and posted LAST week's pictures of the chickens - they truly HAVE grown!

A fan to help keep them cool on hot, hot days



Norm and I are slowly making my "deck" a solid one. He's torn boards off another pallet and then cut them to fit the "slots" - I am hammering them down, one at a time, as my elbow allows. When it gets done, I might stain it to make it look more walnut or oak or something. Or might leave it to look barnwood-ie.

I took about 15 pictures of Scooter and Peanut playing. It's a hoot, the way Scooter waits for Peanut to come outside so she can attack her.

Lil is getting more used to her and even started to play a bit with Scooter this morning. Lucky is not hissing, at least, and is accepting her into the family.

I have NOT gotten a picture of Goldie and Scooter. Scooter will attack her tail, then lay down and sleep in the curl of Goldie's stomach. Each time that happens I am without the camera or they are on the porch step where I can't get outside to take the picture (we only have one doorway out).

It is a beautiful day today - you have a beautiful day.

What fun!

"Leaves of Grass" had this on her site, and I decided to try it, as well. Go here to try it yourself!


This is a shot I caught this morning of Scooter and Peanut - they truly love to kill each other, or at least attempt to!



Friday, June 29, 2007

Thank goodness it’s Friday!

That’s a comment that is spoken by millions all over the US today. However, not me! Being retired and having a husband that is semi-retired, Friday is not a spectacularly special day for me. It’s just another day! However, Saturday is a fun day for me as Norm does not go to work so we can “play” around the house a bit more and Prairie Home Companion is a wonderful excuse to put my feet up and cuddle with Peanut while I listen to Garrison Keillor and his wonderfully talented gang.

But this week has been rather stressful - but fun – and very busy. Friend Katie and I have a business called “Past Presentations.” We developed a “camp” called “Victoria’s Garden” for young ladies ages 9 to 13 where we teach them how young ladies lived and played in Victorian times. It was a 2 day camp with an overnight. We had a great time and I hope they did, too. We will have two more sessions this summer as well. Like I said, fun … but hard work, too. Both of us went home afterwards with hardly enough energy to unpack all of our things.


Micah

Katie and Micah in the kitchen

We had this camp at Shalom Hill Farm (where Norm works part-time). This is a church-retreat farm that offers retreats for groups, as well. There is a “Shed” that has bedrooms, gathering room with a fireplace and a full kitchen. We were all by ourselves for the entire two days, which was really nice. It was a small group – only two young ladies joined us for this first experience, but we have bookings for more the next times.

We had Katie’s daughter, Takara, and another young lady, Micah, join us – they were a great help for keeping the girls entertained and “on track” with the tasks we gave them. We discussed famous women, table manners, other manners; we exchanged calling cards, practiced calling on each other and the women in the main office; we talked about and gathered flowers and herbs. The young ladies alternated being cooks and guests at tea parties. They learned proper table settings, embroidery and how to walk (and, yes, even go to the bathroom) in long skirts with pantaloons and petticoats underneath.

Micah taught them some Irish dances

Embroidery became an obsession with this young lady

We started out with a tulip on a hankie

Every available corner and spot on the hankie and also on a tea towel was filled with her creative work

Welsh scones in the making

The table set for tea

All in all, a pretty good experience for us all.

On another note, the chickens are 5 weeks old now. I have made a “date” for their visit to the butcher on July 10th. Then clean the pen and order more chickens, hopefully, for our second batch. The Buff Orpingtons are really growing well. They will be put in with the big chickens, but in their own, secure cage until the big ones get use to them. At least, that is the plan. I may keep them in the baby chicken pen, a little separately, until the new batch is grown larger and then let them grow with the new ones.



I also have an incubator from a friend and am going to put in about 12 eggs, mostly Aracauna, to raise more green-egg laying hens. Hopefully the percentage of hens to roosters in this batch will be high. If not, the roosters will join the new batch of broilers on their “date” to the butcher this fall.

And, on another, more exciting note, my niece and her daughter are moving out to this area. They will be arriving tomorrow with friends who are helping move her furniture and things. I am the “motel” for the ones who won’t fit in Candy’s house. I have sleeping “quarters” for 7 bodies. Brook decided that she needed to be closer to “home.” A wise girl, an intelligent girl who knows that hearts need to be home, closer to mother! (Are you listening, Joy and Jill??????) Brook will be looking for a job and then for a home. We are positive that the job is out there, waiting for her, and also the right home. Until then, she and Erin will be living with Candy but visiting me, as well.

It is a beautiful day today – I must plant the oregano I got from Katie before it gets too hot! You have a beautiful day!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Flowers

Now, I don’t have as many flowers as my Iowa Gardening friend but I am working on it.

I will be the first to admit that I am NOT a gardener. If I had a gardener for my own personal use, I would have the world’s most BEAUTIFUL one. I know what I want; I just don’t have the physical ability or energy (or, to be honest, the desire to do the work) to get to a beautiful garden.

But I AM a great supervisor, so anyone who is willing to come build (and maintain) my garden is welcome to come! I have good beds and good food – I CAN cook! And all the good, fresh farm eggs your little heart would desire!

Norm does the vegetable garden and I go out and putter once in a while. One of the main reasons (besides flexibility and energy) to being out in the garden is the bees. I LOVE bees, but they love me and I do NOT want to end up in the emergency room again because of a bee!

So, next best thing to an herb garden of my heart and a flower garden of my heart is flower boxes! Norm cut out the wood and I built the boxes – well some of them – a few didn’t turn out like Norm thought they should, so he tore them apart and re-built them. Even rough-wood boxes have to be made “just so!”

I have flowers in some and herbs in some. Norm has agreed “in theory” as to taking the herbs down to the basement in the wintertime with a grow light to keep them growing. This way, perhaps, I can have things like lavender and sage survive more than one year!

Sage and Thyme

Pennyroyale and Parsley


Old fashioned flowers (and seeds)
The cage is to keep Scooter out

Now, I do have some flowers that are growing around the yard, which is a miracle, considering the strong winds we have that like to whip the flowers to death! But until I get a wind barrier of some kind put up, I doubt if I will plant any more around here. It hurts to see them so battered and torn!

Oriental Honeysuckle

Flax

Columbine

And Milkweed for the Caterpillars
Yesterday was mulberry day. We went over to Candy’s to “gather mulberries where ye may.” Our trees that we transplanted from her place last fall are growing but are not big enough for berries, yet. Norm loves mulberries; I do not. However, I froze some for him to eat, some to make jelly later on and left some for him eat with ice cream last night. We got four ice cream buckets nearly full of the purple, squishy fruit!


Tomorrow is the first day of a two-day camp for young ladies. Katie and I are having this camp (with a sleep-over) at Shalom Hill Farm, which is where Norm works. It is also a church retreat farm and has a lovely building that we will have all to our own for the two days. We will be teaching the girls how to walk and behave, how to embroider, how to write in a journal as well as other skills that nineteenth century young ladies would know.

I will take pictures and show everyone when I return on Wednesday.
It’s been hot these past few days, and will continue to be so. But it was still a beautiful day. You have a beautiful day!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Mid Solen

Or Midsommer. Or Mid Summer. Or Solstice. Or Litha. Or St. John’s Eve. One thing this it is NOT is the beginning of summer! Technically, summer starts around May 1st and ends about August 1st. This is MID-summer! The middle of the season.

Norm and I went to Mid Solen, the Sons of Norway summer picnic. It was potluck with pork loin being served as the meat. Then we had an accordion player play some OLD songs – even older than MY era, and THAT is OLD!

The chickens are 4 weeks old, now. They are actually large enough to be butchered as Cornish Game Hens, but we are going to let them grow larger to broiler / roaster size. Notice how bald they are! Their bodies grow so fast that the feathers can’t keep up with them. Soon they will be waddling to the feed trough rather than running, as their legs will start getting weaker compared to their bodies. I am taking away their feed at night, in the hopes that they will not out grow their hearts and start dying on me.



The Buff Orppingtons are now smaller than the Cornish but are growing very well for their breed.


It was still light at 9:45 tonight … it truly IS the longest day of the year! And soon we will actually start noticing that the days are growing shorter. How fast time flies! Norm and I had a small bonfire and drank a glass of wine to celebrate the day.



It was a hot, stormy, SUMMER day today but has cooled off a bit tonight. You have a beautiful day.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Teas and Ugly Feet

While I was on Fran’s blog a while ago, I followed her link to the Three Fat Chicks, who are all about dieting. While there, I followed another link to a Secret Chinese Weight Loss tea that Oprah drinks and swears by.

The price, however, for this “secret tea” is unreal! It is $49 for a month’s supply! Why is it that the cost of losing weight is so expensive? Of course one can just stop eating to excess and limit oneself to starvation until the weight is gone. Been there … done that! It don’t work, folks! At least for me; I need something to help me along the way, to gradually coax me into a better life style.

I wrote to my energetic, healthy, super-super-woman granddaughter, CarlaLynne, and she said that this tea is a Brand Name tea but there are generic teas for cheaper. I did research and found out that the "Secret Tea" is actually Wu Long tea that is sold all over the Internet for much cheaper than the “Secret” tea. More research found that (to quote one site) “Wu Long is Oolong, Oolong is Wu Long.” This means that if I can find Oolong tea somewhere, I can have the “Secret Tea” that promises I will lose up to 20 pounds in three weeks???

I called the Co-Op in town to see, and sure enough, they have this magic tea. I picked up 4 ounces this morning (at $13.99 a pound) and had my first cup at noon. It is the same tea that is served in Chinese restaurants (that I love)! I had a big cup before eating, with about ¼ teaspoon of honey (I love my teas sweetened). It was pleasant – not hard to drink – and I think I will be able to have the recommended 2 or 3 cups a day. Watch out, fat-me!! I’m going to change (well, here’s hoping!).

On another note, I am the first to admit that I do not have pretty feet. I will never be picked to advertise toe rings. In the summer it becomes worse. Bare feet are not conducive to soft, pretty feet. I wear a generic “Croc” shoe outside, as I have been told by many that bare feet in grass is asking for insect bites. These are the rubber / plastic sandals that everyone (at least in our area) is wearing. However these have holes in them, which makes for irritation on these already dry and cracking feet when I head to the barn. The straw and barn dust, dropped chicken feed and splashed water that end up in the shoes make things even worse. The other day I decided to solve at least one problem and got some closed-toe shoes for the barn and will leave the open toe ones for walking and such, as they have a back strap to help hold them on my feet.




That and nightly bathing in a dish tub that sits in the bathtub and lotion on before tucking into bed is already helping the irritation. Nothing will make my feet pretty, but at least they won’t look like trolls’ feet when I walk into a store in semi-dress sandals. I DID wash my feet before going to bed, before, but I just used a wash cloth and rinsed them well. This helps make them feel much better.

I am looking for some kind of organic, healthy foot bath combination to soak my feet in, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.


We are having pork quesadillas tonight; it was a beautiful day today – you have a beautiful day!!

Monday, June 18, 2007

A great weekend!

We made it to the Cities before dinner and surprised the girls; they knew Norm was coming but I had originally planned on going to South Dakota to be with my mother – she had been in the hospital for a blood clot, but it had been taken care of so I didn’t “need” to go out. And no offence, Mom, but I’d rather be with the girls than you (you can have your time next week!).

Cuddles and hugs and kisses are so wonderful from such sweet, innocent children. It is constantly amazing that they return the love that I have for them!

Saturday morning was a picnic brunch for Ken’s family; we were invited, so the girls helped me make a fruit salad on Friday night. Many hands make light work, especially when a lot of the fruit went into mouths instead of the bowl! I’m glad a brought extra – well, to be honest, I was pretty sure that would happen so PLANNED for extra!

It rained during the night, so we were worried about the picnic but Ken’s Dad, Bill, called to reserve a covered area in case it continued to rain. However, the rain left, the sun came out and it was one of those gorgeous summer days that we often dream about.

Near the picnic tables was a pretty large box turtle; as we went closer to look we realized that it was a “she” and she was laying eggs. We stepped back and Jessica appointed herself as guardian of the turtle, keeping everyone away. We never saw the eggs but she left a pretty snazzy looking nest!







The food, as always at a potluck, was great and the company was the same. I have known Ken’s sisters (three of them) since Ken and Joy got married twelve years ago and have visited with them often during family get-togethers, so it was not hard to pick up conversations that we had been on the last time we met.







One of Ken’s sisters has a small farm, like us. But unlike us, they have animals that they raise for sale and milk and eggs. We just have chickens and eggs. But I have raised most everything that is on their farm so she generally has questions for me about something or t’other.

After eating, the little ones started playing soccer and the big boys sat and talked business with the men … they are Men, too, you know! The soccer field was the volleyball court with shoes for goals.








Ashley likes to run around with the cousins that are her age … all boys; Jessica loves her cousin that is the same age – they even look alike, in some ways. They call each other their twin!



Some of the fathers decided that they needed to hit some golf balls so went that direction. The others decided that bicycle riding would be fun, on a bicycle built for two. Some also went on a canoe ride and some went on a paddle boat ride.























Joy's lilies



As for me, I was going to sit in the shade and embroider and take pictures. My plans changed when I was bit by two horseflies, one on each hand. I took a Claritin to help the swelling and sat watching symptoms and praying that the flies would not react like bees (although I have had some serious fly bites) so that I wouldn’t have to go to the emergency room. Fortunately, thank all the good gods, I just had an afternoon of uncomfortable-ness and taking it easy. Most of the water pictures were taken by Norm. Didn’t he do a great job?

Saturday night we had pizza by the bonfire; the daddies got to open Father’s Day presents and Ashley got our birthday presents, since we will not be there for her birthday. We got her “Bananagrams,” which is sort-of like scrabble. And a copy of Beethoven’s Fifth! Jessica, Ashley and I played the game and danced (well, THEY did) to the music. My bedtime story that night was to tell them how the Fifth was used (and why) during WWII by Freedom Fighters.

Sunday was farewell time – the kids headed back to Florida and we headed back to the farm. Norm had a full pickup load of wood that Ken gave him. There were some long pallets and the girls and I tried to convince Norm that it should be my temporary porch until he built a real one.

My new porch

It was a beautiful weekend. You have a beautiful day!