Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Difference a Week Makes

Our chicks are doing so well. Today we gave the brooding pen a good cleaning and separated the Baird Rocks and Cornish X's. They are now a week old and it is amazing how much they have changed already. The pictures below are from the day we got them.

In a week's time, they have eaten about 50 lbs of food. They have most of their wing feathers, and are starting to get tail feathers. The biggest change however, is the size difference between the two breeds.

They were hatched on the same day, and essentially were the same size when they arrived. You can see from the above picture that is no longer the case. The Cornish X chicks are huge compared to the Bairds. I didn't weigh them, but I bet they are almost double the weight. Tales of their fast growth are not exaggerated. And it is no wonder, because all they seem to do is eat.

We pulled all the chicks out this morning while we were working on the pen. When we put the Bairds in they checked out their pen. A few of them went to the feed or water, but the vast majority pecked around the "new" place checking it out. When we put the Cornish Xs in it was completely opposite. Probably 90% of them went straight for the feed. They had been out of their pen (and away from feed) for less than an hour. By the way they attacked the feed you'd think they hadn't eaten all day. It was funny to watch.

Chicks change so fast. Right now they are still cute and fuzzy and lovable. That won't last long. Soon they will be looking like chickens, and I will be looking forward to put some of them in my freezer.

Friday, March 19, 2010

These are the Days I Love

Lately, it seems like our life is so hectic. That this simple living thing is far from simple. That something has to give, but I can't seem to figure out what. It has been exhausting. And then a day like today comes along and everything feels alright again.

Could I ask for a more perfect day? The weather is simply gorgeous. The sun is shining. The birds are signing, and things are turning green.

Tim stayed home this morning, and we worked together on the farm. I know it sounds a little strange, but those are some of my favorite times. So, often we are working apart, at our respective places of employment, and working apart on farm jobs while he and Papaw tend to the heavier jobs, and I tend to the garden, the kids, and the care of the smaller animals.

It wasn't a monumental task. We simply walked up to the barn to walk the ewes and lambs from the nursery pen back to the shed here. Something about being in the sunshine, working with the animals along side my man just feels right.

Then the kids disappeared; for hours. Kellen helped Papaw with fencing and hauling manure, and the other three packed a backpack for "adventures in the woods." You know what that means right? Alone time for mom. Hours of alone time.

Don't get me wrong. I love my kids. I love spending time with them, but alone time is an extremely rare and precious thing for this slightly introverted, full time homesteading/homeschooling, part time working mom. Being alone is thoroughly refreshing.

What did I do with all that glorious time alone? I worked in the garden a little. I baked a little. Cleaned a little. Basked in the sunshine while working on laundry a little. Dabbled on the computer a bit. Really does it matter?! I did it alone, and it was all wonderful!

And the icing on the cake? Tonight is the Faculty Lounge, a time for homeschooling moms to get together. A blissful day I tell you! 

These are the kind of days I love. These are the kind of days I need more of.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

150 Peepers

Today we got 150 newly hatched chicks in the mail. We ordered from Mt Healthy this year. And so far I am very pleased. The chicks were hatched today and we go the call from the post office this afternoon that the chicks had arrived. They all made the trip and look good.

100 of the chicks are Cornish X Crosses (the yellow ones.) We are co-oping with several other families to raise these birds for meat. We also ordered 50 chicks "hatchery choice." I was expecting a mix of birds in this
group, but it looks like we got a straight run of Barred Rocks. They are the black chicks. I was actually hoping for a mix of chickens just to try a few different breeds, but I am happy with the Barred Rocks, and for the price, I can't complain.

The chicks are of course adorable, but getting them all settled while four kids "helped" was a little chaotic. The goal was to get each chick a drink and then place it in warm pen. The chicks kept trying to escape, and 150 of those little peepers all together is very loud.

Tonight Tim and I went and checked them after we got the kids to bed. They were much more settled, not to mention quiet. Many of them were zonked out for naps. I think we just sat there and watched and played with them for about half and hour. They are just too cute, when they are quiet anyway!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Certain Je ne sais Quoi

The English language is full of oddities and exceptions to the rule. That I suppose is why it is said to be one of the more difficult languages for non native speakers to learn. It is why it presents many challenges to native speakers also.

The English language also includes many foreign phrases. Some retaining their original meaning and others having morphed into something completely different. Did you know that Paparazzi, the word now used to describe pesky celebrity photographers, mean mosquitoes in Italian? The current use of the word came about from its usage in a movie.

A la mode means fashionable in French. In the seventeenth century the English used this phrase to describe a light silk used to make scarves. Here it has come to mean with ice cream. Strange, the history of words.

Phrases such as the Spanish mi casa es su casa, my house is your house,  are used in their original meaning.  Derriere is French for bottom. Guru means teacher in Sanskrit. Verbatim means word for word in Latin.

No, I am not a master of words who knew all these bits of trivia off the top of my head, though I do find them rather interesting. I found these bits of word history in a book I was recently sent to review, A Cerntain "Je Ne Sais Quoi" - The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English. 

Foreign words and phrases that are used in English are arranged alphabetically in this book. Each word or phrase includes the language or origin, the original meaning, and a little history behind how the word and meaning have come to the English language.

I enjoyed browsing through this book. I learned a lot and was surprised at some of the history behind the words. I think anyone who enjoys words would enjoy this book.

Hasta la vista.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Farm News: The Good and the Bad

Raising animals gives the family a certain appreciation, not to mention education, about the cycle of life. Saturday another lamb was born, a little ram. That makes three for three. One more sheep to lamb this month and then there won't be anymore babies for awhile.

Today we put Daisy, the female donkey in with Luigi, the male donkey. Lydia asked, "Why do you want to move Daisy in with Luigi?" I looked at her and said, "Why do you think we would want to do that?" It was like a light bulb went on, and she said, "Oh you want them to breed." Yep. In about a year we should have a little donkey foal.

We are venturing into raising chickens, co-op style. We are planning to purchase 100 Cornish X chicks very soon. We have sold shares in these birds. I am really excited for this project. A little nervous too because we've never done anything quite like this, but I think it is going to be good! You can see the details on our Facebook page. Click on the discussion tab.

The bad news is that one of our doe goats died. She wasn't showing any of the usual signs of illness, but Sunday morning we found her dead. Her kids are three weeks old. They are eating some feed and hay, but really aren't ready for weaning yet. We hoped that one of the other nursing does in the barn would foster them, but the does want nothing to do with the kids that are not theirs. Luckily we were able to find another "momma" willing to foster them.

Lydia loves being a little momma to the animals that need a little extra TLC. Feeding these kids a couple of bottles a day will help them with the transition.

And that is news from the farm.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Class Clown

When I was teaching in the public schools, dealing with a class clown was to be expected. When I gave that up to teach at home, I never really expected to have that kind of challenge again, and for a long time I didn't. Then Nolan started school and the antics began.

Nolan is rather witty for a five year old. Daily he has something quirky, funny, or just plain ridiculous to say during school. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes annoying, but it is always distracting to the rest of us trying to get things done.

Today he had us rolling on the floor with a couple of his remarks. We were reading a Bible story and it mentioned the seasons. He looked a little confused. I asked him if he remembered what the seasons were. His response, "You mean gun season?"

The story continued and talked about the first man and woman created. He had a little trouble remembering their names. I reminded him that the man was Adam, and then asked if he remembered the name of the woman. "Madame," he said.

Yes, everyone was distracted from their school work when these comments were made. Yes, I was laughing too. How could I not? This is my Nolan. He is the class clown even if there are only three other kids in the class. At least, from a teacher's perspective, reeling in a class of four to get back on task is a lot easier than a class of twenty four.