Monday, September 23, 2013

Wasps Are Not the Same As Bees

We had a fun weekend. While the kids were outside playing Bella got stung on the tip of her nose by a wasp. When she came inside she was screaming so loudly I thought she had broken her leg! Apparently someone passing by the house thought something more sinister was going on and called the police! They were very polite and asked to see and talk to her. She showed them her nose but wouldn't tell them what happened. She kept pointing to me and asking me to tell them.
Lily was beside herself the entire time. She thought Bella was in trouble and wouldn't stop crying. She kept telling me she should have gotten stung because she led Bella over to where the wasps were. She had no idea they were there, it wasn't anyone's fault. But she insisted she should have gotten stung.
It made for an interesting Saturday! Bella's eye is swollen but her pediatrician said that's normal.
Jon claims she has middle child syndrome. Both of the middle children in he and I's family have weird things happen to them. Bella has already begun accruing her list of weird maladies. Oh well. They make for great stories!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Not Sure How to Do This Whole "Blogging" Thing

So I got burnt out on blogging when I first started doing it. I thought all my posts had to be deep and meaningful. They needed to make people think. It's hard to have deep thoughts when you have two kids running around. Now I have four of them so there is no way I'm going to have deep thoughts to share. With that in mind, here's a funny tidbit from Lily.

Lily: I want to be a Walking Dead zombie for Halloween. I want a wound on my leg where I was bitten by the living dead!
Me: We can do that. But we don't want you to be too realistic, you'll scare the little kids.
Lily: I want to scare little kids!!

My daughter, the zombie.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Janus Would Have Felt at Home in August Part I

It's funny that January is named for the Greek god of transitions. I've never felt that it really transitioned into anything but the new year. It's still cold (or lukewarm as the case may be), you're still in school and it's not like you're actually going to stick to any resolutions you made. No, if anything I think Janus should become the god of August. August seems an unlikely candidate, but within it's hot steamy depths lies more change than at the bottom of a dilapidated wishing well (oh yes, I just used a cliché). Rather than fill an entire book with one entry I'm going to try and cut everything up and actually blog! Isn't that the point of having this thing?

August sees a change in our relationship with our animals. This is the month we're finally going to process our chickens. We had planned on doing it in June but what with them going to VA we've had to put it on hold. The sweet chicks I left up there have since become monstrous full grown birds and their final fates have been postponed long enough. Out of 75 birds we took to VA, I'm going to be bringing 17 home. Most of those have found permanent new homes in VA but some of them will have found homes in the chest cooler we're bringing with us. This is a huge step for us. This is the first time we're (or actually Jon) going to butcher an animal. Jon had to put a rooster done that had gotten attacked by a raccoon but this isn't the same. We're going to line the roos up and butcher them. My whole life animals have been pets. They were kept for pleasure and served a minimal purpose. The cats helped keep the rodent population down but besides that they were simply there. We're moving from our animals being pets and ornaments to having a purpose. This is a profound thing for me. My entire philosophy on animals has been shifting over the past few years and this is really going to solidify it. The girls desperately want a puppy but I can't decide whether getting one would be a good idea or not. Not because "I have so much other stuff to worry about" or"I don't have a big enough house or yard" but because I don't feel like it would be worth it. What is the purpose of the dog? I feel like if the dog doesn't have a purpose it isn't worth getting. Love and companionship don't cut it for me. I have Jon, I have children. I don't need something else that requires time, energy and emotional involvement that doesn't contribute anything except "unconditional love". But, I also don't feel like we have the area to let the dog have a purpose. What is it going to do, sit outside and watch the chickens to make sure they don't get eaten by hawks? Is it going to herd the bunnies? We don't have acres of field for it to run in and we don't have herds of animals for it to protect. I don't have miles of fence line that need to be maintained and hours of work to do where a silent companion would be appreciated. I have a quarter acre and a house.
Our chickens serve a purpose. They lay eggs and go broody to raise chicks. The extra roos become food for us and protect the flock. When the hens stop laying they too will become food. If they didn't lay or didn't brood there would be no reason to have them. As much fun as they are to watch they're pointless unless they fulfill their God designed role. Our rabbits serve a purpose. They provide copious amounts of fertilizer for us to use in our garden and one day they may provide us with more. The cats... ok well the cats are still kinda pointless. But as is pretty obvious, my thinking has turned a corner. I'm not sure where the change happened. Where I went from wanting every kind of animal imaginable just for the pleasure of having them to wanting an animal only if it worked, but it happened. And I'm not sure if I want to change it back.
It's only five days in and already the month of change has me in it's grips.

Only by the Lord's mercy and grace,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Semi-Libertarian Code Enforcers

I went today to speak with the code enforcement officer about our contraband chickens. As I expected he said someone reported the neighborhood for various violations (most likely the school board) and he had to come through and harass everyone. "You are not the major concern in that neighborhood" is what he said. When he came to our house and found the weeds a little untrimmed and a few piles of lumber that are considered nuisances he wrote us up for them. Had we kept the birds in the back yard he would not have gigged us for them. But because they were up front where there's "no reasonable expectation of privacy" he had to do something.

"I have better things to do than get warrants to search your backyard for chickens. I am not going to bother you about what you are doing in the privacy of your backyard. So ::lowering his voice:: if you want to get a few hens and keep them in the backyard I'm not going to bother you, just don't get any noisy roosters. This conversation never happened."

We will keep one rooster, and some hens. In the backyard of course... :>)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Too long since an update!

It's been a long time since an update. Things have been busy of course. We expanded out the garden in the back and created one in the front. We started to permiscape the front as well. The less grass I have to mow, the better! I'll post more on the garden later. Not much later I promise.

On the chicken front, we purchased several breeds of meat and dual purpose birds in February. The intent was to breed the biggest ones into a strain of birds suitable for eating and making eggs, you know, what chickens were meant for. Every week we've weighed them, sold some, purchased more, and looked forward to the goal of processing at the end of this month.

Well, the town animal control officer/code enforcement officer/sewer assessment officer (I suppose three titles makes him think he's three times important) decided to crack down on our neighborhood. It seems there's an ordinance tucked away in the county by-laws that limits the number of animals outside your house to four. And no livestock.... apparently it matters not if there is a complaint by neighbors, or if your animals are even publicly visible, you have contraband if you have chickens. He also cracked down on un-manicured lawns in the neighborhood, overabundances of lawn furniture (no, you can't have people hanging out at your house!), and other such pesky things.

Now, the nasty certified letter might not have been so bad, but it came on a day I left to fight fires in the Okefenokee Swamp. I don't have time to worry about some Poindexter's crackdown on our neighborhood. So Nicole handled getting all the birds out while she herself prepared for a trip north for two weeks. Once we both return from our adventures away from home I plan to go down the town hall with a letter from my neighbors stating they don't mind the "livestock" and see what kind of deal I can work out with the town spoilsport.

It's a setback, but it may be a push in a good direction. We'll be looking at land elsewhere because of this. Hopefully the housing market won't be too much of a bust on our ability to move.

Forgive the sloppy writing. We've been on nightshifts on this fire. Last night was a 5 PM to 6 AM shift... I'm feeling a little sleepy :>P

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Drowning in Blessings

Christmas has come and gone again and I'm left wondering if perhaps the Puritans were right in avoiding the celebration.

In those days it was the pagan subtext which troubled their consciences. In these days it's a new paganism, a consumerist paganism. With each Christmas comes the earlier and earlier shopping season, the rush to buy the latest new gadget or trinket, and the desire to outdo all others with our gift-giving prowess. Christmas comes and we rip into our toys, oftentimes we are disappointed, or overwhelmed, or perhaps underwhelmed at our loot. We silently feel gipped when someone we spent so much on gives us something worthless. We (perhaps only outwardly) withhold our anger when the recipient of our well-thought-out gift doesn't stand up with great joy and pronounce us the greatest gift-giver ever.

Our pride expects more gifts and more praise than we deserve. It further drives us to cling to the ever-present thought that the more we get the more we are loved, and the more we give to others the more they will love us.

Once again our children are buried in well-intentioned gifts and the house becomes a volcano of toys and clothing erupting uncontrollably until at least June, when their weary parents are finally able to dig their way to a closet and force everything into it.

Maybe it's my pragmatism, maybe it's my growing disdain for our wasteful materialistic culture, but I'm leaning more and more towards that Puritan way of thinking. I have been seeking to eliminate the useless in my life, to rid myself of sentimental attachments to things. Our home (and my parents' storage room) is cluttered enough with the remains of my pack-rat childhood to accept any more non-essentials. While I am no less thankful for the gifts I received, my mind is troubled with the question of what to do with the less practical ones.

Please, dear family and friends, if you love them and value my sanity, next year, buy my children something useful, invest in their education, or invest in their spiritual growth. If you must get them toys practice good economics and buy fewer. Scarcity gives objects value, even children understand this. They will cherish what they receive more if they are not dividing their attention over a million trinkets. They will be far less careless in their treatment of their gifts, your wallet will remain intact, and my house will not be buried in three feet of Chinese plastics. I believe everyone wins. :>D

But Christmas is a time with family, and a time to recognize the gift of Christ, both good things that I would like my children to be involved in. So it will remain a celebrated holiday in my house. I am thankful to be drowning in blessings (even the impractical ones), and I pray that I am able to sort them out before the next Christmas blizzard comes.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meet The Chooks

From top to bottom, left to right:

Martha- Silver-laced Wyandotte, so named because “Gwen” did not fit her New England snobbishness.

Sadie- Australorp, our best layer outside of the reds, but not much personality.

Anon Red- RIR

Jack- Barred Rock mutt, the friendly if not-too-smart roo that has become the Alpha male to most of the hens

Rufio- Polish/Australorp mutt, also called “Dragon” by the girls, the bottom roo, has a few of the ladies, spends most of his time running from Jack

Princess- Barred Rock, sweet natured and pretty

Paresseaux- Black Copper Marans, her name means “lazy” which she was as a chick. She’s always checking to see if you have food and will try to eat anything shiny. She has the most distinct voice of all the birds, which she pretty much only uses to curse you when you pick her up.

Dagny- Buff Orpington, perhaps the most curious bird next to One Eye, has to be in the way during all outside projects.

One Eye- RIR, so called because of her lazy lid. She was purchased with the other reds as an older group. We will never know what brave or stupid act led to her droopy eyelid. One of the friendliest of the flock, she’s also very possessive of her eggs.

Moxy- Easter-egger, lays green eggs, probably the most tame and sweetest natured of the birds, despite her angry eagle face. Every evil villain should have a bird like Moxy; forget cats!

Sofie- Mutt, yeah, she’s there

Jill- Mutt with Barred Rock, I haven’t quite figured her out yet, but we had to clip her wings because she kept finding her way into the front yard. She would sit on the front porch and scream at us.

Big Red- RIR, she, along with Anon 1 and Anon 2, is pretty much indistinct, but they lay pretty eggs!

Anon Red 2- RIR

The Ugly One- RIR? So called because she is the ugliest bird we’ve seen… ever

Ginger- RIR mutt, named after the Chicken Run chicken because she attempted multiple times to escape her first week with us. She is one of my (Nicole) favorites. She was debeaked as a baby but is super sweet and very curious.

Next we'll show how we built the coop, and introduce the new birds :>)