Monday, August 22, 2011

The Incredible, Edible, Incredibly Tiny Egg

Batch #2 of chicks, now feathered. Cochins, Buff Orpingtons,
Silver Laced Wyandottes, Blue Andulusian and 1
transplanted Jersey Giant Roo.
 Bought the adorable, fuzzy chicks… attached to the lil boogers….which led to buying MORE fuzzy, adorable little chicks…

Bags & bags of expensive feed, constant worry over keeping the fuzzy wuzzys warm……cleaning pens, washing poopy water dishes multiple times a day and hoping like crazy that most would survive and reach maturity….

Did I mention those bags & bags of expensive feed???

All of this has lead up to this….Our very first home raised egg:

Taa Da!!!!

Yes, it’s tiny…. Yes I realize it may take about 7 of these boogers to make 1 decent omelet, but size isn’t important here.

What’s important is my birds survived to laying age!!!! The shell is a pretty pinkish tan with light speckles (which don’t show up in the picture) and it’s a nice, hard shell.

Woo Hoo!

Since finding that lil speck of an egg, I’ve found 5 egg every other day and gradually getting bigger. Shape & size vary but at least they are eggs…. Not sure who is responsible, but it’s one of the birds from the 1st batch of chickens…… I’m thinking either the Welsummer (who was supposed to be a Maran), one of the high production reds, or one of those speckled brown hens (also supposed to be Marans…not really sure what they are).

Some of our girls &"Jackson" playing in the mud

Handful O' lil Eggs

Mix of chickens & our Jersey Giant who was visited by the
SEX CHANGE FAIRY & is now a rooster!

I’m hoping the other gals catch this egg laying bug soon…

Yea, sure……playing the “Find the itty bitty egg” game every other day is fun, but I’m betting it will be even more fun to gather a few normal sized eggs every day.

Oh & in case your wondering…yes, my eggs are tiny and scarce, but finding them makes all of the above well worth it…even those darn pricey bags of feed.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Hay Fairy & Vanishing Youth

Oh yes…there is such a thing as a “Hay Fairy”. In this case, the one I’m referring to as the "Hay Fairy" is my father in law…..though truth be told I’m not sure if he’d happily adopt that title.

We've also had to deal with the "Sex Change Fairy"... THAT lil' fairy is insanely annoying....changing my doe rabbits into bucks, and more recently, my pullets that I paid a pretty penny for, have magically been transformed into roosters (4 girls so far have converted and are now happy, annoying roosters) by that blasted Sex Change Fairy!

ANYWHO....back to the "Hay Fairy"..

On our recent trip to east Texas, my father in law graciously sent home 3 round bales of hay from one of his fields. Honestly not sure what plants are included in these bales as it has some weeds in it, but this hay is pure perfection for goats! This drought has been a horrible thing, hay has been fed year around due to the lack of rain & vegetation and hay prices have sky rocketed. Poor quality coastal square bales (in the 50lb range) are selling for $11.50 a bale, and truth be told I was in a slight panic over how I was going to provide quality forage for my goats and not completely break the bank…So this gift was perfectly timed and I couldn’t be more thankful….Hence the gracious awarding of the title “Hay Fairy”.

Being freshly baled, it smells GREAT and once we rolled the bales into the pens my goats were in hog heaven! I so wish I had my camera handy…Bleuberry stood on her hind legs, leaned into the bale and proceeded to rub all over it and appeared to give it a By their reaction you’d think they had never even seen hay before. All the goats took turns rubbing on the bale, burying their faces in it and circling round & round as if to find the most divine place to chow down.

Bleuberry looking for the best bits

Tootsie, Bleuberry & 'Brina in the background


Ella- "Queen of the Bale" Lilly munching, Tootsie in background
Sabrina chowing dow

The girls made short work of theirs and there is barely a moment I don’t see at least one of them eating on it. It’s not unusual to find Lilly or Ella laying on top of the bale while eating..

The boys however have been a bit kinder to their bale if you can believe that! They did the same silly antics as the girls when it first arrived, but the fascination didn’t last long and gave way to the demands and stresses of hormones.

Here’s where that whole “Vanishings Youth” bit comes in on the title…My sweet baby boys, who I’ve spoiled, loved and bottle raised are growing up. It seems just yesterday lil Sambo was in the house watching TV with me…. LOL

Yes, I know that sounds strange, but when we brought him home last minute, his pen was not ready and he lacked a companion, so he lived in the house, diapered and slept in a dog kennel by my bed.

Now that sweet, fuzz ball of an Alpine buck is a “Man Goat” as my daughter so wisely puts it. Beards have grown in, the art of aiming streams of urine is perfecting & necks have doubled in size (see the boys sporting their new "man" collars?)

Houston, my mom’s miniature buck has been in full "pee on the face, stinking to high heaven" rut for quite a while. He was so bad in fact that I had to move the adult chickens from the pen…

Why you ask?

Well Houston’s inappropriate affections earned him the title “The Chicken Rapist” and my poor girls weren’t faring well at all….. Now they have the younger group of chickens who have finally feathered out as their pen mates and thankfully Houston seems to only like mature poultry companions.

Boys enjoying their present from the Hay Fairy
Anywho.. On August 1st, Tootsie, my miniature Alpine doe came into season and so I took dear Houston for a visit. Much to my delight he prefers goats to chickens so I think the future of my birds is looking better.

This was an awkward, but educational experience for the kiddos….. Got to have that dreaded, detailed “Birds & The Bees” talk that I’ve been in quite a panic over for a while now….

They’ve witnessed birth, knew it took a male & female to create babies but this was the first time we’ve ventured into the mechanics of the whole process…..I was blunt, to the point, using all correct terms and sparing no details on questions that made me inwardly squirm.

I really wanted to use the typical cop out stories of storks delivering babies, but dishonesty & foolish stories would not have benefited my kids, so I went with straight faced honesty.

I think I did quite well hiding my embarrassment and though loads of adult content details in regards to human reproduction wasn’t shared (other than “No, grown ups don’t do it like that & men do not pee on their faces to make women like them”) I did get them to understand how male & females create new life..

Or as Shayla happily proclaims “Oh!! Now I know how that baby gets in the tummy!”……

Jerimiah, the coward, simply stated he was happy to miss the whole fiasco.

Back to the boys though…. Houston, after having a raging good time in the morning, and one more visit in the evening was feeling very manly and returned to the buck pen strutting and smelling of GIRLS….. Since that day it’s been nothing but turmoil.

This hit to the hormones has now spread to Tonka & Sam….fights are the norm, though thankfully nothing too serious. Food is being left, ignored and forgotten the feeder and the pitiful calls & cries from the boys are nerve racking.

Did I mention the smell by chance?? Good grief it’s pungent!!! I must watch myself when I enter the pen as that seems to be the signal for the boys to perfume themselves and the streams of urine are horribly accurate….

Being sprayed with goat pee happens more times than I care to admit. I've tried a few different tactics to avoid walking out of their pen carrying the pungent scent of bucks, but so far I haven't had much luck.

Once I gathered multiple tree branches, tossed them over the fence on the opposite side of the pen as the feeder...made a mad dash for the feeder, filled it and ran back out...the only contact I had was to put my hand on Tonka's head to keep him from rubbing on me.. I promptly went inside, washed my hands, and arms for good measure, and yet somehow, despite all of that, my clothes, and even my hair had that "Man Goat" smell.... Ugh...

Sam is highly possessive of me. Thankfully he’s a very gentle buck and very easy to handle, but he worships the ground I walk on…..he must touch me, lick me and never be away from me if I’m in the pen….and heaven help Houston if he tries to get in on the attention.

Tonka, though going through the motions of being a “Man Goat” isn’t as bad as the other two (yet..)…He rarely engages in the quarrels and if they start getting very rough, Tonka calmly gets up and walks in between the battling Sam & Houston to break things up.

Tonka is allowed to get scratches from me and makes room for Sam to have his attention…but both rally together to keep Houston at bay…

I swear I honestly think they are holding a grudge against him since he got to go visit the girls and they didn’t.. lol I think both Tonka & Sam find their virginal states to be humiliating…. Most especially when a little miniature buck, half their size, no longer carries the sad virgin title..

I’m thinking of breeding Blueberry & Sabrina late September or early October and Lilly in November or December. Since Lilly is a mutt herself, I’m thinking of letting Tonka have her for freezer camp kids just so he isn’t left out of all the good parts of being in rut…….After all, the poor guy already gets ragged on for being the lone earless wonder.. I certainly can’t have the other boys taunting him for being an earless virgin for an entire season until I bring home some Lamancha does…

Oh..and this is just for added giggles... One day I heard this blood chilling goaty scream... I dash out of the house as fast as possible thinking the worst.. Perhaps the neighbor's dog got out & has my goats.....A million horrible senerios are coursing through my brain...When I arrive at the pen however I find Tonka like this...Goober broke the potter, and wedged his lil' pea brained head inside of the hole he made...

Don't just stand there snapping pictures...HELP ME!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vacation at Papa & Momma Jan's..

This may be unbelievable….but I left my home…for DAYS! A rare occurrence to say the least, but understandable when I have critters to tend to, two does in milk who need to be milked twice a day and I live way out in Noodle.

The first outing to visit Papa & Momma Jan’s (hubby’s dad & step mom who live about 4 hours from here) was during the 4th of July weekend and I had no critter sitter. I can’t say the weekend was a total bust though… I did get to watch my neighbors engage in a few alcohol induced stunts that made me certain nature was attempting to clean up the human gene pool by allowing the less intelligent of our species to dispatch themselves in unique & horrifying ways, but alas, they all survived.

The second outing however I got to go and we left the weekend before hubby’s birthday.

I would have been content just to visit and stay close to the house, but the inlaws treated us to a busy day out.

First on the agenda was the Museum of Nature & Science.

We started out watching Sea Rex in the IMAX theater….. Shayla was shocked at the beginning and wanted to know why she was spinning….Clayton was mesmerized, eyes glued to the screen……While Papa & Jerimiah slept!

Then we headed to the Chinasaurs exhibit. My kiddos are fans of Jurassic Park (yea- They root for the so they loved this. There were several skeletons and a few robotic dinosaurs…

A fossilized dinosaur nest & cast.

Here's the children's fossil dig…..huge sandbox loaded with fossil digging equipment and hidden dinosaur bones in need of excavating. I think the kids could have spent hours in there if we let them.


We made our rounds through the endless Children's museum.... tell the truth I missed a bunch of pictures in various exhibts, but here's a few I did manage to take without someone stepping in front of the camera..

Not a clue what these tables were called but they had air flowing out of a vent to make the small plasic balls float….Munchkins were pretending to be magicians in control of magical floating balls…

This is one of my favorites! I so wish the picture was better…They had a farm exhibit in the children’s museum and this cow was set up for kids to milk (milked water). Shayla patiently waited her turn…watching a group of children struggle to “milk” the cow with minimal success. Shayla dove in the second there was space, grabbed two teats and went straight to work, displaying perfect milking technique and getting perfect, even streams where the other kiddos only managed the barest drops… She was quite proud of herself to say the least and I didn’t damper her triumph by pointing out that she has real life experience milking..

We made it to the museum around noon…left around 5 and I must say, even though the kids would have happily made more rounds, I was tired!

Then we headed to dinner….a belated birthday dinner for me & a slightly early birthday dinner for Jerimiah. I typically am happy to eat where ever anyone else wants to…typically when we dine out it’s Mexican food or someplace with chicken fried steak. I’m pretty diverse in my food preferences, where as Jerimiah isn’t, so it’s much easier for me to eat what is preferred by the majority….Not really knowing the choices, nor wanting to choose a place others in the group might not like, I said “Anywhere that serves some sort of grilled meat on the menu is fine by me… I just really don’t want anything deep fried or Mexican” This statement I thought, would lead to something like Applebee’s, Texas Roadhouse or perhaps a cafĂ© or some sort.. Oh no! Where do we end up??

Texas De' Brazil…. An upscale Brazilian Steak House which proved to be a bit overwhelming for the kiddos! Felt slighting out of place in a formal dining setting wearing the demin shorts and sweat that I wore to the museum but other than that I thought it was fabulous!!!!

The salad bar was best of all. Fresh goat cheese, Manchego, quinoa with cranberries, marinated onions, portabello mushrooms, variety of olives, lobster bisque, salami, steamed asparagus with strawberry sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella, shrimp salad, Brazilian palm of hearts, artisan breads, prosciutto, and of course a selection of typical salad items are just a FEW of the items on the salad bar…. Did I happen to mention that I loved the salad bar??

This sounds amazing I know, but next up is the meat selection. On the table is placed garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried bananas & Brazilian cheese bread which are meant to “cleanse the palate in between meat selections” as our lovely Brazilian server informed us.

Each person is given a round card. One side is red, the other green. Once you flip you card to green the staff file out with large skewers of grilled meats fresh off the fire and your allowed to choose as much as you’d like. Choices included parmesan pork chops, bacon wrapped grilled chicken, pork ribs, flank steak, leg of lamb, lamb chops, pork loin, Brazilian sausage, pichana, filet mignon, bacon wrapped filet mignon, beef ribs and I think 2 or 3 other selections of which I can’t remember. The lamb chops with mint jelly were AMAZING. Once you’ve had your fill, you flip your card to red to signal the meats to stop and if you survive the first round, flip your card to green, your plates are cleared away and it starts all over again. I don’t think I’ve been that painfully full in my life but I had a great time. Shayla, I discovered has an expensive pallet and enjoyed the exotic selections on the salad bar immensely. Clayton on the other hand was over whelmed, not pleased with the “creepy, strange food” and seemed a bit disgruntled until the meat choices arrived and then he was quite pleased.

I was sorely tempted to take a few pics of the restaurant & the salad bar for my blog….but good manners overruled the urge…..Though I would have loved to take a few pictures (the atmosphere was quite nice) it would have been extremely tacky…

All in all it was a great, relaxing escape…especially for me since I don’t get out much these days & I’m happy mom critter sat for me so I could go.

I know I’ve bombarded y’all with a slew of pictures so far, but I have just a few more of the kiddos that were taken on the 4th of July visit. They went to an alligator farm, which housed a variety of critters and to an aquarium.

Munchkis & Momma Jan feed the sting rays

Oh a lil snippet… I know I’m horribly late posting this but Jeremiah & I celebrated our Anniversary on August 2nd. We started dating August 2001, married a year later and I’m happy we’ve made it this far.. Our first date was an all night fishing trip on the river…The night he proposed to me we were caught up in a tornado & had to hide out in a gas station…..two kids, multiple moves, months apart due to work, a house fire, and multiple health scares later were still here and going strong. He’s the one person who can always make me laugh, always stands by my side no matter the situation and has this uncanny ability to drive me utterly insane at times…But, as mentioned in previous post, he tolerates my insanities as well as I tolerate his..He’s my best friend and I feel quite blessed that I’m able to share my life with him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Horrors of "Back to School"

Never a more fitting title.

I hate shopping…. Despise it actually. School supply shopping is the worst of the worst in the shopping category. Sadly, a necessary evil, so I suck it up & get it done……True to my tendency to procrastinate, I wait just a mere weeks before school starts to tackle this task.

I swear every year the cost of this horrid trip escalates. This weekend I had plans to get it all done in one fell swoop, but after gathering the supply list, it seems I have to split this endeavor into two trips. So, this weekend we bought supplies and backpacks. The supply list was long….included things like 2 reams of copy paper per child, new headphones, ziplock bags, paper plates, 6 boxes of crayons per child & chlorox wipes to name a few.

This next weekend after we receive another paycheck, I will be tackling clothes shopping. This is by far the priciest bit of back to school shopping, but this is also the one time a year the kids are restocked in new clothes & shoes. Given both children’s growth spurts, new clothes & shoes are a necessity….I so wish they didn’t grow up so fast….

I’ve already purchased their new boots, so now it’s on to clothing & a new pair of tennis shoes each. In order to buy decent items that will hold up to my kid’s rough and tumble nature, I think were going to buy the first weeks worth of clothing this coming weekend to at least see them through the 1st week of school and then the weekend after the 1st week of school, I’ll shop again, and little by little with each paycheck stock their wardrobes up again. Last year I did it all in one big spree, this year, things are tighter so I’ll be forced to battle shopping crowds a bit more often than I’d prefer… So if you call and I happen to be cranky, do try to understand.

Did I mention I HATE shopping??

In other news, Shayla is excited to see her friends again. Clayton, true to his nature is grumbling about going back to school….he does this every year, and every year runs to tell me how great his first day back was, so I don’t worry too much. He tends to have a doomsdays outlook on everything… EVERYTHING will awful & dramatic… Where as Shayla is a bit more sunny in her disposition and looks forward to just about everything. At least in Clayton’s case he’s almost always wrong…things are never as bad as he thinks they’ll be, so his life is often full of pleasant surprises, lol.

Shayla is going into the 1st grade, Clayton into the 2nd . The 1st grade teacher from last year is not there this year, so I won’t know what to expect for Shayla’s class…. I know Clayton’s 2nd grade teacher and like her quite a bit so I hope it will be a great year.

Clayton, Shayla & one of Shayla's classmates at Shayla's 6th birthday party.

Last year, Clayton’s 1st grade teacher was a bit too heavy on the homework for my taste. We arrive home from school at 4:00pm, have a snack and then Clayton had to start on homework. EVERY DAY he had to write 12 spelling words 3x’s each, do one worksheet (typically math or science), read 15-20 pages in one book and 3 short stories (about 7 pages per story) in another book. This was EVERY DAY with the exception of Fridays….for a 1st grader!!! It got to be so bad that I would have him do the written work, and we would choose one story per night to read together before bed…otherwise every bit of his free time after being in school all day was devoted strictly to homework. So, as mean as it sounds, I’m happy Shayla has a different teacher than he did and hopefully this year will be an improvement upon last year.

Though I am very proud of the work my children did last year in school…both were honor roll students, and neither of them got into the slightest bit of trouble all year long.

What can I say? My kids are just awesome!