Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love me some baby chicks… do NOT love the mess.

Chicken drama. My house cannot escape it.

Over the first several weeks of baby chick season, I collected chicks here and there to increase my flock with the breeds I most wanted. I collected 21 various chicks.

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Since I collected them over time, they were different ages. When 13 of them were old enough to put out in the coop, I did just that – less mess on my porch. They were doing great. 3 Cochins, 3 Red Stars, 3 Americaunas, and 4 Wyandottes.

Until I was a good mama and gave them leftovers. And left Buddy outside to play. You see, Buddy loves stuffed animals. And he loves leftovers even more.

While I thought he was happily roaming the yard, he broke into my coop – this is Buddy, my sweet lab who pays no attention to chickens normally – ate the leftovers and squeezed 10 of the “stuffed animals” until their squeakers were broken. That’s what dogs do to stuffed animals, right?

When I went out the  next morning to check on the chickens, I saw them scattered all over the coop. It was a chicken massacre. And I totally kept it together until I talked to Brad. Then I completely lost it. I was sad about my chickens, but I was even sadder about the 8+ weeks I had spent tending to them in boxes and cleaning poop up off of my porch and the thought that I was going to have to start all over.

By the way, dried chicken poop is like concrete.

Another thing that upset me was that it was the end of chicken season. I was done buying birds; feed stores were done ordering them. I tried to order from the feed store, but I was going to have to order 25 of the only two breeds, neither of which I wanted, that they would be hatching in the next week. So sweet Brad, who is a self-proclaimed non-caregiver of chickens, encouraged me to order some from somewhere else.

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So I did. I ordered the minimum of all of the breeds I wanted. And a few weeks later I picked up 33 chicks from the post office. They were just what I wanted, but they brought my grand total of chickens up to 45! Forty-five!! I think they call this Chicken Math. I am hoping that I can manage to let some go live with a friend who also wants chickens. But the bus coop should handle whatever we end up with in the long run.

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And… once again, I have poopy baby chicks on my porch. I have them in a huge watermelon box, and they are right comfy.

021 (2)Brad says my rigging up skills (pvc zip tied to box, lamp clamped to a piece of non-skid rug mat and stabilized with a ruler) would probably qualify me to work on a farm. Oh wait. I think I already do that!

But to make it all a little more complicated, since it’s hot as blue blazes here in the daytime, it’s too hot for them out on the porch, and I have to bring them inside during part of the day. Ugh. The watermelon box doesn’t move too easily, so I have to change them to a smaller box to bring them in. Double ugh. I didn’t think this whole thing out too swell, did I?

But watching them makes it better. They are the cutest little things.

067Laid out. Not dead. I promise.

002 (6)Snuggles. A white cochin, speckled sussex, and black australorp.

I gave them some egg yolks the other night, and they were so funny. One would grab a big piece of yolk and run around in circles trying to keep it from the others. And I already have a buddy. She (I hope it’s a she; my cochins were straight run.) is the loner in the bunch and the one who most likes to be held. I think she’s a Blue Cochin.

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They are now two weeks old and getting big fast. I have 5 Americaunas, 6 Wyandottes, 5 Speckled Sussex, 11 Cochins, and 6 Black Australorps. Plus a few others I already had, Browning, and my rooster – who may be rooster stew if he doesn’t stop attacking me.

A Tortoise, Wild Blackberries, and a Cobbler Recipe

Brad wanted a blackberry cobbler. Easy enough. So Blair and I ran out to the pasture next to the barn to pick some blackberries.

Not so fast.

Brad killed the blackberry bushes. “I’m trying to make it look better around here.” That should have killed his chances of getting a cobbler, but being the sweet wife I am, we went in search of more blackberries.

We saw this big guy during our search for the maximum ripe berries in reach with minimum brush and snakes. He’s a gopher tortoise – Georgia’s state reptile. We get to see them every so often around here.

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007I love the shell on the back.

As you can see in his mouth, he was chomping on some greens. He’s the only photo evidence of our trip.

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We left Mr. Gopher to go about his business and headed to the berries.

Picking wild blackberries with a toddler and two huge dogs in 90+ degree heat between a highway and watermelon field (neither of which you want the dogs in) is probably not the best idea. (Hence the lack of pictures.) But we did it and had cobbler after our Memorial Day supper tonight.

I use the cuppa cuppa cobbler recipe.

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 stick butter

2 cups fresh fruit, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (add 1/2 – 3/4 cup water to drier fruits like blackberries)

Preheat oven to 350. In the oven as it preheats, melt butter in an 8x8 dish. Mix together flour and sugar. Add milk. Add sugar to fruit and stir. Add water to fruit if desired. Add less water for drier cobbler and more for juicier cobbler. Remove dish from the oven and pour dough mixture over butter. Pour fruit in last. Fruit might stay on top; do not stir. Return dish to oven and bake 45 minutes.

Double this recipe for a 9x13 dish.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blair’s New Do

Yesterday I took Blair for her first haircut. It was really a trim, actually. Blair was so excited. As soon as we drove up, she wanted to see Miss Missy and “go get my hair trimmed.”

I’m so proud of her; she did so well. I have found that if I explain things to Blair, she is very receptive. No complaints or crying except she wanted “that back off” –- the cape.

Some before pictures:

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She’s so proud to be a big girl!

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“It’s a gar-ret!” (barrette)

first haircut! 052811 (31)I wish she would let me put her hair up; she looks so cute!

first haircut! 052811 (30)cropfirst haircut! 052811 (35)cropShe’s such a girl.

first haircut! 052811 (37)first haircut! 052811 (41)I love this picture for some reason.

first haircut! 052811 (46)All done!

first haircut! 052811 (53)Checking it out.

first haircut! 052811 (48)first haircut! 052811 (59)She got a “Great Job!” certificate.

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first haircut! 052811 (67)Before and after – just a bit more even in back! So not too much of a “new do"!

And mommy got one for the book!

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Watermelon Elementary: It’s Time to Turn Back Vines

You’re welcome to break out into Cher’s “If I could turn back time.” I sang it the whole time I took these pictures… it’s time to turn back vines…, and now it’s back in my head.

When land is prepared and watermelons are planted, rows are left for the crews to drive on during harvest. We call these the harvest middles. Some people plant rye grass in the middles to break the wind. Wind can really blow some dirt around and sting those baby watermelons!

watermelons 11 (1)A harvest middle.

The problem is that watermelons don’t really know that they aren’t supposed to grow into the harvest middles. Their vines just travel as they please all over the place. Little creepers!

watermelons 11 (18)watermelons 11 (56)“Running”

watermelons 11 (2)Spreading out!

watermelons 11 (43)Creeping into the middles.

That’s when the crews have to step in and turn back vines.

watermelons 11 (3)Vines that were just turned back… see how they are looped up a bit?

watermelons 11 (9)These were also just turned back… see the baby watermelons?

Turning back vines is done periodically throughout the season. Vines are turned back in a field many times because watermelon plants are stubborn and keep growing into the middles!

The result is a beautiful field of green pillows edged by rows of earth. I think it makes a great picture!

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Check out the other Watermelon Elementary posts to learn more about how your watermelon grows!

Two and a Half

Blair is two and a half! Really older now, but I’ve been working on this post for a while! This will be long and boring for many of you. ;) We’ll be back to regular short posts shortly!

Dearest Blair,

We do not know a sweeter child. You do the sweetest things all the time and make us want to cry you’re so sweet. Just yesterday you wanted to make Daddy a card. Your idea. You say “God bless you!” to every sneeze – even Gus and Buddy’s. You love to give people “A biiiig hug.” You hold my face with your two little hands when you want to tell me something very important – like that you want a yogurt popsicle! You like to hold someone’s hand in the car – usually your daddy’s. Your moments of sweetness never end. They’re mixed in with some stubbornness every now and again, but they far outweigh the not so sweet moments. One day last week you woke up coughing. I went in your room to check on you, and you were holding your blanket under your chin in case you threw up. Seriously, what 2 year old does that?! Your daddy and I both just about teared up.

a kid and her pacis 051311 (6)Yes, pacis on the toes.

We have the best time with you. You still love your daddy’s games. Right now, your favorite is hiding under the bed pillows. We love the way your hold your mouth open when you’re excited or proud. If you have a gift for your daddy, you take it to him and pop that mouth open to show him how excited you are. And if you find something or accomplish something, the mouth pops open immediately! It’s like you have no words so your open mouth tells what you’re thinking!

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After two months of making play dough dog food every. single. day. (thanks to the inexpensive Play Doh dog Christmas present for the hours upon hours of entertainment!), we’ve moved on now to reading books and all things Old McDonald. And singing. You love singing. If I put KidSongs’ “Old McDonald had a Farm” (just the one song, not the whole disk) on repeat, you will actually sit still! You also love “I see the Moon,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” “Oh Christmas Tree,” and lately “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” You sang your whole repertoire for Andad yesterday with no request at all! You like the ABC’s too, but you haven’t quite gotten that one down yet. TUV don’t exist in your ABC’s right now, and you say ma ma ma ma ma ma for LMNOP. It’s so cute.

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You are very independent and say, “Blair do it” a lot! (You say Gair, you haven’t gotten B yet.) And if I offer help – "Let Mommy help you” – you come back with “Blair help you,” which is the same thing as “Blair do it!” You also want to “hold Blair hand” (hold your own) when going down the stairs. You don’t quite get that this doesn’t do you a bit of good.

Exibit A of independence: Holding her own head still while I brush her teeth.

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You are so polite. You say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” without fail – even to men! When you thank someone, you usually add “you we’come” as well. Or when you think I need something (like the oil when you want to make waffles or my shoes when you want to go outside), you give it to me, and say “you we’come, Mama.” So precious.

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You can jump!

Reading has become more interesting to you. You love Goodnight Moon, Brown Bear Brown Bear, The Big Red Barn, I Love You Through and Through. You “wanna book” in the car usually, and you “wanna read” when we’re in your room.

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You love to cook. You know all of the ingredients we need for waffles and what to measure them in. You’ll sit on the counter and help me with anything as long as it doesn’t take too long! Your daddy taught you to make a wish by throwing salt over your shoulder, so we do that a lot. And everybody in the vicinity has to “make a wi.”

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Other things you love:

  • “Go Grandmom/Gigi house”
  • Gus and Buddy
  • Watching the washing machine
  • Matching colors, usually with clothes – “It matches!”
  • Painting
  • Clothes
  • Your bathing suits
  • Outside
  • Swinging

mail! 051811 (2)Checking out a new dress.

And we love YOU! You are so special to us, and we are thankful for every day with you that God has given us. We look forward to your growing up in to a beautiful young lady, but don’t do that too fast!

Love, Mommy and Daddy

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Some little things about Miss Blair:

  • Wears 2T in most everything but shorts. Those are 12 months.
  • Wears size 5 – 6 shoe.
  • Still uses oxygen at night on occasion.
  • Weighs just over 23 pounds.
  • Naps 2 – 3 hours every day.
  • Goes to bed at 8:00 or a bit later if daddy’s working.
  • Wears a diaper at night but is completely potty trained in the daytime – and the diaper is dry about half the time.

Positive words go a long way with Blair. She was totally potty trained on praise alone. She still says “goooood joooob” after she potties. We have to remember that with discipline, because disappointment works with her as well. She ate her chocolate heart off of the counter while I was in the shower the other day. She used her stool from her room to get it. I came in there after my shower, and I told her that she wasn’t supposed to have chocolate before breakfast and that mommy had told her not to eat it. She got that huge frown on her face and burst into tears saying, “get that out!” – meaning the chocolate out of her mouth! Poor thing! I put her in time out because she disobeyed, but I hated to. She was already punishing herself by not wanting to eat her chocolate!

"outside 031811 (14)”Listening” to her own back.

The time out chair in the dining room works really well. She may sit there once or twice a week. She’s really a very well-behaved child. We do use other punishment for certain things, especially if she’s doing something dangerous, but that doesn’t happen very often either. She is really easy to talk to. A lot of times I can explain to her what is going on or why she shouldn’t do something, and she repeats what I say and goes about her business… usually repeating what I said over and over. She’s always saying, “That’s for mommies and daddies” when she sees a knife.

She is usually so easy, but here is an occasional dialogue:

Me: Blair, please take this to your room. (or any request she’s too busy for)

Blair: No ma’am.

Me: Don’t tell mommy “no.”

Blair: No MAY-yam. (She really sends that voice up high for the second one like, I SAID “ma’am.”)

If tape can’t fix it, Daddy can. “Gotta go get some tape and fix it!” We see tape in various places around the house.

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Here.

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Here.

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And here.

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She answers her own questions. “Wanna go get paper towels? Alright.”

She does little “chores” like put laundry in the hamper, help unload the dishwasher, and put a new trashbag in the trashcan. These are all things she wants to do! (Blair do it!)

She’s a hoarder.

blair's first fish and cooking 041511 (16)Everything we took to the pond fishing: 3 or 4 bathing suits, 4 pairs of shoes, 2 cups, purple socks, and a blanket.

She loves home. She’s not afraid to say “Go back Blair house” after a long day away from home or a weekend away.

Blair loves all things the moon. Last week when asked what we were going to do one afternoon, she answered: “Get that moon out.” She’ll break out into song if she sees the moon. Her version of “I See the Moon"… I see the moon; the moon sees me. The moon sees the one I love. God bless me; God bless the one I love. Pretty close!

Blair on the phone: Hewoooo? High you doin’? I’m fiiiiine. And then she walks around holding the phone with her shoulder mumbling.

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We were playing horsie the other day (She rides on my back either while I’m on my hands and knees or I sway while sitting.), and I asked Blair if I could right her horsie. I hugged her from the back and said “Go horsie!” Of course she couldn’t move. She said, “Mama need another mama.”

She’ll tell absolutely anything that she’ll be right back or excuse me. “I be right back ball thrower.” “I be right back dress.” “I be right back Mama. K?” “‘Cu me horsie.” “‘Cu me suitcase.”

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Some of the other things she says:

“Alrighty.” “Now then.” “That’s right.” “There we go.” “You got it.” All picked up from her caregivers ;).

“Sugar. I’s ‘weet.” (It’s sweet.)

“Wooon moe-wah. Jus’ one.” (One more. Just one. – with her finger held up to ask for more of anything – talking on the phone, playing something, food – well not so much with food except maybe something sweet ;) )

“Wanna take the dogs to go ‘wim.”

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When she’s hungry: “Blair’s gotta eat!”