Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Billy Bob is Growing Up!

He even has a goatee!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Girl Power?

The other day I was clicking through links and came upon a site for girls. The premise of this site was a good one, "Encouraging Successful Girls." I am all for encouraging my daughters to be successful, but what does that mean?

The site doesn't contain images, ideas, or role models that are all done up, that have a "spoil me I'm a princess" attitude, or that I found annoying in any other way. The role models presented there are four young girls who are very intelligent and dream big. Sounds like a great concept doesn't it?

Well what bothered me about this site wasn't specific to this site alone, but an attitude that I felt as a student myself, and that seems to be almost everywhere. What bothers me is what is missing here. The big dreams involve being a brain surgeon, a computer expert, the leader of the free world, or a rocket scientist. Can't a women reach her full potential by being a mom and a wife? Have I squandered my intelligence and potential because I am a stay at home mom?

The whole world tells our daughters that they must reach their full potential. That if they have any brains they should spend many years (and many dollars) in college, and develop an important career. There is nothing wrong with that path, but I know a lot of women who have taken that path, or at least started down it, and found themselves with a dilemma. When it is time to have children, they find it hard to balance the demands of the path they are on with the demands of being a parent. In the worst cases they find they find that first path really isn't that important them, but feel stuck on it due to financial pressures. It is a hard place to be.

I believe in girl power. I believe that my daughters can be whatever they want to be. I don't believe their success should be measured by the title by their name, or the size of their paycheck. I want them to know if they want to become a brain surgeon, I will support them all the way. If they want to be a wife and a mom, I want them to know that is a big dream, and an important one. I will encourage their success in any path they choose. That is girl power!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Persistence of Poultry

Our new hens are performing quite nicely. They go to roost where they should. They lay where they should. The other hens were following along quite nicely. Roosting where they should, and laying in the boxes, or so I thought.

Chatterbox hadn't been laying before we got the new hens, and I was convinced Henrietta was laying in the boxes with the other hens. Then she went missing for two days. I really thought she hadn't been eaten, and was concerned for the rest of the flock. Then we caught a glimpse of her at the water.

After some hunting around we found her nest; a rather large one. Wouldn't you know the darn thing was setting right where she was hatched! Like mother like daughter I guess. We're not sure if the eggs are any good. While she was building that nest we had some very cold weather and changed roosters. We've been reading up on candling the eggs, and will be doing that soon to check the eggs. I'll keep you updated.

As I mentioned Chatterbox hadn't been laying. It had been quite some time. A few days ago I was out in the goat shed, and what do I see, but two eggs. The nest was squeezed in between a gate and the wall. I knew they were Chatterbox's because of the size and color. I collected them.

Then the other day I walk out of the door, and see her in our storage area up on the top shelf where the rabbits' hay is. I could tell by her clucking that I had interrupted her. Lo and behold she had made another nest between the two bales. With one egg in it. Today she was in the same general area, and threw a fit every time I went outside. I have yet to find today's egg.

Anyone know anything about ducks? Our ducks were given to us, and I really should do a bit a research or some more careful observation. It seems they lay for about a month and then don't lay for about a month. They hadn't been laying, and then I found an egg about a week ago, and then no more. Odd...

Earlier this week I spied the drake and one hen off eating. The other hen was nowhere to be seen. Knowing this means that she is off laying somewhere I kept an eye and an ear out for her. Soon I heard her calling to the other two, and saw her coming out from the general direction of the goat shed.

A later inspection of said shed revealed that both ducks were making nests under the shed. They are making them in a place that I can see, but can not reach. I could see though that several eggs had frozen and cracked, and been pushed away. There were not many eggs in the nest. Should I break up the nests? Maybe I should just shove some straw under there for the nests?

Now I certainly appreciate the persistence of these hens, and their desire for off spring. I am all for a natural growth of poultry here, and there isn't anything much cuter than newly hatched foul, but these hens just aren't on my schedule! New peeps in February? It just doesn't sound like a great idea. My plan was to wait and let them sit in March or so. I suppose if they do hatch out any this winter I will need to bring the peeps in. Maybe that would be a good use for that garden tub we never use? That wasn't exactly my plan though.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Blessedly Normal Day

After seemingly countless busy days and a weekend filled with company, activity, and unexpected events, this morning's cancellation of activities due to icy roads was a welcome relief. Well, for me anyway. The kids were exactly thrilled, but they got over it.

The weekend began with a house full. My niece and nephew were here with their mom. Jake and his family were here too. It is always fun to have everyone together, but with nine kids around, it does get a little crazy. Saturday we decided to go to Hillbilly Hot Dogs, and to a movie. We left the 100 Acre Woods, 16 people in 3 vans, and headed to the restaurant.

This is a local establishment here that celebrates hillbillies and hot dogs. It is hard to explain unless you've been there, but it is an experience. The website does have quite a few pictures, and I think Delilah will probably post some too. The dining room is an old school bus. It is heated with a gas heater. I didn't think much about it. The kids were playing, and Vivian burnt both of her hands on the heater. She cried the whole meal. Tim talked to the owner, who felt really bad she had gotten burned. He said he was going to build something around the heater. I hope he does.

I didn't really realize how bad the burns were until the next day. Her one hand especially blistered up pretty badly. It is healing nicely, but still a bit sore.

We then all piled back into the vehicles. We had a bit of time to kill before the movie, so Mamaw and Papaw were going to give Amy a little tour of Huntington, and our van , and Jake's planned to walk around a shopping area near the theater. Mamaw and Papaw left a few minutes before we did. We drive maybe two miles down the road, and see Mamaw and Papaw's van off to the side, kind of attached to the front of a little pickup.

Quickly we pull over, as people are piling out of the vehicle. The horn of the truck is going off. Broken pieces of lights are everywhere, and fluids are running out of the vehicles. Tim calls 911, and soon there is a fire truck, squad, and sheriff on the scene. Everyone was okay, shaken, but okay. The man that gets out of the truck is old, very old, and frail.

He was turning left to go to the little store there, and turned right in front of my parents. Dad tried to stop, but there just was no time. The man is well known in the store. They have been asking the family for two years to not let him drive. He has had several strokes, one right in the store, a couple of heart attacks, and earlier in the week had pulled out in front of a semi. The accident was avoided only because there was no traffic coming in the other direction and the semi was able to get around the man.

After an accident, any normal family would probably head home. Our family is not normal. We all waited there for sheriff interviews, checks by EMTs, a tow truck to take my parents' vehicle, and for someone to bring back a different vehicle. Of course, by then we had missed our original movie time, so we picked up with the original plan, did a little shopping, and went to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. I know, we aren't quite right.

The rest of the weekend was busy, though thankfully, not quite so eventful. Everyone went home yesterday, and today we were supposed to have co-op, and roller skating. Thanks to the icy roads those events were canceled. The kids did school, and whined, and fought. I did laundry, cooked, cleaned, assisted with school, and broke up fights. Ah. . . a blessedly normal day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lydia's 6th Birthday

Yesterday was Lydia's birthday, and her first friend birthday. We had a great time, and even got to meet a blogging friend, Catherine, from Kentucky Hollers. Isn't there a term for that? (when you meet a blog friend in the real world?) I thought there was, but can't think of it! Anyhow here is the party, in pictures.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winter Rabbit Care

In our limited homesteading adventures, I'd have to say that I think the rabbits have been the most rewarding of the animals we have. They are fairly easy, and can produce a lot of meat in a hurry. They are great animals for urban or rural homesteaders. Like any animal, though, the require a bit of different care in the winter months.

Our rabbits are in wire hutches outside. They get a nice thick coat of fur in the winter, but we provide them a little extra shelter. Tim made them some small boxes from scrap wood we had. He also took old feed bags and stapled them to the frame of the hutches. This helps cut the wind. We decided to not put any on the front of the hutches, but that could be done also. We talked about stapling the bags at the top, and using Velcro or something that could be easily undone on the bottom to provide easy access for feeding.

Feed & Water
Feed requirements really don't change. We give them as much as they want to help keep a layer of fat for warmth. I have noticed though that they eat less if water is not plentiful. Water really is the issue in the winter. The nozzles on the water bottles freeze quickly, and it can be a challenge to keep an adequate water supply.

Our solution is to alternate water bottles with bowls. The bowls do not freeze as quickly, but they get dumped. Ideally, we would purchase heavy crock bowls, but right now we mostly use recycled food containers. In the morning we bring in the frozen water bottles to thaw, and put out the bowls. In the afternoon we switch them. You can purchase heated water bowls, but they are quite expensive. If we are really having trouble keeping the rabbits' water thawed, I will put a handful or two of snow in the hutch.

We have chosen not to breed during the winter months. Kits are born with no fur, and mother rabbits do not lay with their babies to keep them warm. Kits are susceptible to the cold for about the first ten days. After losing an entire litter in a late frost last spring, we are hesitant to try again in the cold. When we have a our new building I hope to set up a rabbit nursery of sorts in there with one pen for kindling and new litters. By using a heat lamp, we could probably raise litters all winter outside, but we have decided not to try this.

This has been our experience thus far with rabbits in the winter. Keep in mind we are in West Virginia. We do get cold and snow, but it usually doesn't last for long. For an example when I started this post the first week of January our highs were in the lower twenties with lows around zero. Then earlier this week temperatures were reaching 76! Today the low is near freezing and highs are in the 40's. It is crazy weather. If we lived some place where the temperatures remained below freezing, we would have to either have the rabbits in a building or purchase the heated water bowls.

We enjoy raising rabbits. They do require a little extra work when the weather is cold, but I think you find that with most animals.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I know, but it is driving me nuts!

Probably the biggest hurdle in parenting thus far has been potty training. What is it about potty training that just drives parents nuts. Perhaps it is the hassle of cleaning up messes that previously had been at least contained. Cleaning up a dirty diaper is a lot easier than cleaning the carpet. Other things take babies time to learn too like walking and talking, but the process is a whole lot cleaner than potty training.

Vivian will be two in March, and she is interested in the potty already. I am happy about that. She has yet to go on it, but she seems to know what it is for. She tells me when she has gone in her diaper, when she has a diaper on. She doesn't want to keep her diapers on. I must put her diaper back on twenty times a day. She takes it off, sits on the potty, does nothing, and then wants to run around the house bare bottomed. I've used the three days naked method before, and it does work, but I've always used it in the summer. Ya know, when it is warm outside, and any accidents can happen in the grass.

I know this running around with cute baby cheeks showing to the world is a step toward potty training, but I'll tell you it is driving me nuts!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

About Them Eggs

Happy New Year to all!

We had an enjoyable weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's over the weekend, but after a busy and loud weekend, we decided to spend a quiet night at home for New Year's. We played some of Kellen's new video games, ate some treats, watched a movie and the ball drop. We put Nolan and Vivian in bed well before midnight, but were letting Kellen and Lydia stay up. Lydia tried so hard, but about 11:45 could not take it anymore. She laid on the couch with a blanket and was instantly asleep. As Tim carried her to her room she says, "Daddy, I'm sorry I couldn't stay up. I'm just so tired and cold." Cute huh?

So the answer to Whose Eggs are Whose:

The store bought egg is the bright yellow yolk in the upper left of the picture.

The free range chicken egg is the bottom one that has the white pieces floating by the yolk.

The duck is the dark yellow yolk with the white that is clear in the upper right of the picture.

Good guessing all!