Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What we've been up to (besides raising chicks)

(I've since thought better about this photo post and moved it to the private blog.)

I usually save photo posts for the boys' private blog, but I thought I'd share these here this time. I realized I didn't take many pics in January, probably because we spent a lot of time indoors playing Legos and watching movies. But February has been busier, so here's some imagery from the last few weeks...

(Photo removed) Making butter. (Shake, shake, shake!)

Some of the seeds we're planting in the vegetable patch.

Zurvika (an orginal Bionicle creation) by Puffer

(Photo removed) The boys have been using the Duplos again. Even Baby's building with Legos now!

(Photo removed) Juicing oranges from our organic co-op.

A huge rainbow filled the horizon on our way to Lancaster to visit friends and celebrate their birthdays last week.

(Photo removed) The boys helping their friend work on his new Lego project. We missed Kate's kids' birthday party the week before because I was sick.

(Photo removed) We spent Sunday afternoon working in the backyard, getting the veggie patch ready for the seedlings we started last week.

Grouper helped me move bricks for a path through the veggie patch.

Grouper took this shot of me cultivating.

The trampoline gets a lot of use -- it's definitely time to order a new one!

(Photo removed) The boys also picked five gallons of Meyer lemons off my parents' tree that afternoon.

(Photo removed) Juicing lemons this morning. The boys want to set up a lemonade stand on Friday. Hopefully it'll be warm enough to interest people in a drink!

(Photo removed) UberDad's building a platform bed for the new mattress we ordered. He's been sleeping on the couch for months because our old mattress is too soft and lumpy for his back.

It was a beautiful day for more gardening today, so I planted the hydrangea Scott gave me for Valentine's Day and another one my mom gave me, and put a new rosemary plant in the herb patch.

Tomorrow we run errands!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Baby chicks update!

We've had a full week, and I have plenty else to post about, but I thought I'd better give an update on the chicks first.

They are all doing wonderfully, growing every day and getting new wing feathers. They seem to like each other quite well. If we weren't planning to get a few more, I might decide to name them "Meg," "Jo, "Beth," and "Amy." But the boys are pretty set on Vampire for the littlest Black Aussie.

They are starting to recognize our voices, and came peeking out to greet us this morning. The little Australorps still run when I stick my hand in to pick them up, but the bigger Buff seems to know what's coming -- an adventure!

A top shot of the brooder, which we made out of a Rubbermaid storage bin, duct tape, and 1/4-inch wire mesh. They have plenty of room to run around and spread out when they feel like it, but they prefer to hang out together most of the time.

The daily routine is pretty simple. We go in to say "good morning" and change their paper. I'm using newspaper with a layer of paper towels on top, and I change the worst pieces twice a day. They poop a LOT!! (And I dump it all, paper included, in the compost bin!) I hate to use so many paper towels, but it's temporary. I'll pick up some wood shavings this week to give them more to play in, and the poop will fall underneath so they won't be sitting in it when they nap and I can change the newspaper less often. I have a spare Rubbermaid container next to the big one that I move the chicks to while I clean.

I have a one-gallon waterer, and so far I've just dumped out the brim once a day and let the waterer refill itself. I changed the water completely the fourth day just to keep it fresh. They don't drink much yet.

In the evening, we go in to say goodnight, and I put a flannel receiving blanket over the window in the top of the brooder to keep the warm air in. They're in a room that doesn't get heated, so it cools off a bit at night.

In a few weeks I'll start taking them outside on nice days so they get some fresh air. They still need the temperature to be around 85-90 degrees. UberDad should have the coop finished by Easter.

That's it for now!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We have baby chicks!!

We are now the proud adoptive family of four two-day-old chickens -- two Buff Orpingtons and two Black Australorps. Aren't they adorable?!

We are all totally in love. The boys and I picked them up this afternoon. We haven't decided on names yet. "Blackie," "Vampire," "Shadow," "Buffy, and "Goldie" are all possibilities the boys have come up with.

The feed store didn't get Wyandottes in this week, so we'll go pick out three more chicks next week. Probably two Silver-Laced Wyandottes and a New Hampshire Red. I planned for six, but there's a chance we'll end up with at least one male because sexing is only 90 percent accurate. So, I'm doubling up on the breeds I like best, and adding a seventh chick just in case we have to sell a noisy cockerel (young rooster) in a couple months.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A week's worth of life.

I have a headache, but I realized I haven't posted in a week and a half, so here's what we've been up to...

Baked 5 dozen cookies. Gave away 3 dozen to sick friends.

Made chicken stock from scratch. Made chicken noodle soup for sick friends.

Decluttered a corner of the enclosed porch (aka UberDad's room, aka the so-called third bedroom), so we'd have a place for the chick brooder, which we don't have set up yet. This involved pulling out bags of clothes, boxes of photographs and books, Christmas decorations, etc., and generally making a mess of my dining room. Then putting most of it back, but in neat plastic tubs instead of piled haphazardly.

Stayed home Monday, did almost nothing.

Spent most of Tuesday running errands.

Took the kids to the park on Wednesday.

Finally got out the bread machine our friends passed on to us a year ago. Made one lovely loaf of bread. Rejoiced at the potential for fresh, whole grain daily deliciousness! Bought 5 lbs of bread flour. Started another loaf. Killed the bread machine with overly-stiff dough. Wept bitterly. Sent UberDad to the store for bread.

Moved furniture around to make room to extend the dining room table for our Lenten Shabbat guests. Listened to Baby say, "Yuck!" all day as I swept up crumbs and dust bunnies that had been hiding under the sofas.

Made vegetable stock, vegan minestrone soup, and roasted squash and potato soup. Felt better about the store-bought bread.

Last night we had our first Family Shabbat supper of the Lenten season. On Friday nights during Lent, our small group traditionally gets together for soup, bread, wine, prayers and fellowship. The women begin the prayers while lighting candles. Then the men break bread and pour wine as they pray. Then we eat soup. And drink more wine.

We laughed a lot. We had somber moments. The children were outrageously noisy. It was better than Cats. I imagine. I've never seen it.

I'm sure I would have more meaningful or interesting things to say if my head wasn't still fuzzy from the two glasses of wine I drank.

Really, we are very blessed to have such close friends. To have been in the same small group for nine years. We haven't stayed at the same church that long. We're on our second parish. And now our second parish is on its second denomination. Go figure.

Life is complicated. But it's definitely better with homemade cookies, soup made from scratch, and friends to share them with. (Wine is good, too, in small doses.)
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