Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Family Camp '17

Something my children and I have looked forward to all year was our next family camp in TN. We planned it LAST year for this year, that's how much fun we had and were eager to do it again! I remember when we would camp with our cousins when I was a kid and it is very fond memories for me, so it makes me happy that my kids are enjoying that same thing. They love waking up with their cousins and planning out adventures for the day. All. Day. Long!
This year was no different. It was definitely an adventure, and even through what we might could consider problems or challenges, I told myself and the kids that we would look back on this time and say... "Remember that time when we went camping and this happened???" It will make things more memorable. 
During the trip up to Kingston, we were delayed a good bit because of wrecks. Come to find out the wreck was a motorcycle that was in line right before me at the gas station just a half hour before. It was startling to see... I pray that the driver is ok. 

Then as we eased up a bit further, my sister and her family had a flat on their trailer and no spare. We finally made it up to them after waiting so long in traffic and were able to pick them up and get off the road to a weigh station that was out of service. We were able to wait there while the men went to get a new tire and get it on. 

So many ways we could have looked at this as big problems, but as I think about it and I said it that day... If we had been traveling at a normal 70 mph... if that tire blew, it could very likely have been a different story. Thankfully we were all just moving along slowly. 

And when the men went to get the tire repaired, they pulled into a tire store and there was a guy we went to church with! The Lord was gracious to us for sure. Darryl helped them fix the tire and get everything up and going again to get back on the road. 
We got to camp and set everything up and had a nice evening. 

The next morning we had a big breakfast planned of breakfast burritos! 
Some cooked, some tended fire, some watched the littles as they played, some made coffee, some washed dishes... everyone had a hand in making it such a great time.












Then that night as the evening progressed, we had a few warnings about some bad weather coming in. There had been a chance all day, but nothing ever came about, so we were hoping that the weather would not be a big deal for the evening... but that wasn't the case. 

As we sat around talking and drinking coffee, we started getting a bit more serious warnings about the weather... not just rain, but storms... heavy storms. 
As the storms grew closer, we realized that we were directly in the path. 
Then a confirmed tornado only 20 min away. 
We knew we had to do something. 
Thankfully Paige grew up in Kingston and had plenty of connections. She found us an empty house that was in her family and we were able to go and take shelter in its basement for the evening. As we were driving over the storm started coming through. It was a very scary experience. The wind and rain wasn't coming down but coming in from the side! Debris, rain, wind, fog... it was frightening to drive through. 
Praise the Lord, we all made it ok and were able to take refuge in the basement of her Aunt's old house. 
Some of us slept very well. ;) Lil cutie!
The next morning was spent packing up all our soaked camping gear and heading back home because the next day was supposed to be more of the same... our trip was cut two days short, but we enjoyed what time we were able to have. And it doesn't deter me in the least to want to go again. That's just part of it. You deal with it and move on. 

So family camp this year was a little different... but it was still great and we will have fun memories to think back on. 
"Hey... remember that time we went camping and the tornado was coming through and we slept all night in an empty houses basement???" 
Good times.



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What??

Yesterday we had a fun day planned with some of our most favorite friends coming over for a going-away party, play-day. We had a lot to do to get ready and got started very early yesterday morning, but woke up to quite a bit of rain that we thought was supposed to end through the night. 
When Eli went out to check on the animals, he came in to report that one little chick had died. I was very sad because all of them seemed to have been doing so well. I assumed it had just gotten wet and cold. After he told me about the chick, he came back to me a minute or so later and said, "Mom... it's not all the way dead yet." It reminded me of that scene on "The Princess Bride" where Miracle Max tells them that Westley is only MOSTLY dead, but not all the way dead. So I donned my best Miracle Max attitude and started to work. 

I told Eli to bring me the chick and a towel into my bathroom. I really felt like Max because when I saw this little gal, I was thinking that it would definitely take a miracle for this one to live. I started rubbing the chick with a towel and warming it with the hairdryer. Then we got a small syringe and fed it water in little drops. After about 20 minutes of warming and feeding water, we had a bit of movement. I told the kids, if it would just open it's eyes, I would begin to feel better. Not too long after, eyes would pop open for a brief second or two. I felt hopeful.


After I got that amount of hope, I had Eli go and grab a box with some shavings from the garage. Not two minutes after he walked outside... I heard "MOM!!!!" 
Oh boy... what now?
"Mom, there is a opossum in the shavings!"

When I heard that I just had to shake my head... What a day and it was only about 8 in the morning!!!! I said, "well, we are going to have to get rid of it, it will kill the chickens!" So out the boys went again, and not a few minutes later I find this in my house! 


I will admit to you, that it was cute. Surprisingly cute. 

A friend took it home with them, but what a funny morning it all turned out to be... We had a grand day with our friends and are so very thankful for their presence in our lives.
And I'm happy to report that little chick is alive and well this morning! 

Have a lovely day, friends!!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekend happenings

Over the weekend we worked on the chicken yard some more. Preparing for Eli's new hens to be on the pasture. We secured fencing, made sure there were no obvious holes in the hen house and got things ready for the big move. We put babies in the portable pen for keeps and put the older ladies on pasture. Being that they were out there now, we wanted to get a rooster to help protect them, and we would love to hopefully hatch off our own chicks one day. So, welcome Big Red #2. 

He's a Copper Maran rooster, and boy is he pretty. His coloring is incredible. Too many colors to even name. The colors of his tail feathers are so unusual... after all the reds and greens on his chest, his tail feathers are black and white. We were immediately taken with his beauty. Plus, he's good with the hens, so we were happy to take him home. 
Fresh eggs again! What a blessing!


Friday, April 28, 2017

Strawberry Days are here again

Each year a little group of ladies that I am friends with gets together and buys a BUNCH of strawberries from a local farmer. Last year one of my friends told me of a trick to making the task of slicing all the berries easy peasy! It's so great in fact that I feel a bit like a dunce in that I never thought of it!
This ancient food processor of mine has a slicing attachment. I just cut off the green tops and drop the berry down the shoot and slice, slice, slice. Perfectly thin, sliced strawberries. In no time flat!
Last night we prepped all the berries that we will be using for jam today, plus we sliced up some for a delicious strawberry cobbler. 

Strawberry cobbler is so easy and so good. 
I use my basic cobbler recipe of 
Melt 1 stick butter in 9x13 casserole dish
Mix together:
 2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups milk

1 quart of sliced berries (sweetened or not, your preference) 

Pour crust mix over melted butter in pan, then pour strawberries (or whatever berry, fruit you like) over crust mixture. The crust will rise up above fruit and juice.
Bake at 350* for about 40-50 minutes, til golden brown and bubbly.

After everything was done, I had my piece of cobbler on the back deck as the sun went down. It was a sweet ending to a really great day! 



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting our ducks... and chickens in a row

Yesterday the weather around here was GORGEOUS! I got outside almost as soon as the sun was up. We had some chores that needed tending and ideas we wanted to accomplish. Only bummer was the ground was STILL too wet to plant. Sigh. Soon it will be dry enough, we hope. But not too dry. ;)

So this was the plan. We got this portable chicken coop from some of the family that wasn't using it anymore. It's in pretty dire need of some repairs, but for what we had planned, it would work well. 
We hooked it to the lawn mower and pulled it into the place that we wanted it. 

You see our chicks and ducks are getting big and eager for more space. So we thought that on this pretty day, it would be nice for them to be outside. 
We put them in the coop on fresh grass and they started doing what chickens do immediately! Scratching, pecking, and peeping... they don't cluck just yet. 
We gave the ducks a quick bath in a wash tub just to let them be ducks for a while. They LOVE being in the water! 

Eli repaired a few of the loose spots on the coop.
These guys got to spend ALL day outside! 

By the evening we saw that we had a good chance of rain in the forecast and with these being still quite small we knew we couldn't keep them outside. So they came back inside. When Shannon got home, he helped Eli attach some plastic on the top of the opening of the coop... because yesterday afternoon Eli brought home a few new additions.

5 Silver Laced Wyandottes. And because we don't have the big chicken pasture ready and because we saw a massive coyote in the back yesterday, we decided to keep the new ladies in the portable coop. 

Elijah is pursuing a side job in farming. He is hoping to sell his eggs and tomatoes and some other vegetables and fruit this summer. (All his idea and I am tickled pink). 

He said to me, "Mom... we might be getting our "Heritage Acres Homestead" back after all." 
Aww, melt my heart. 
Have a great day, friends! 



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Life these days

I found this Luna Moth late last week. It's wing was damaged and it looked to be dying. I brought it home to show the kids and to add to our nature collection once it was dead. I sat it on our shelf and it remained there for hours and hours. 
Then, through the night we heard a flapping noise. I am guessing it was somewhat still alive enough to flop around, and so it's been flopped for a while now. I knew that moths were more active at night, but I was really surprised with this one because I thought it was almost dead, for sure. 

The other morning, Carlie Jean set an alarm for early because she wanted to get up and make some homemade cinnamon rolls for the family for breakfast. She has said many times before that she thinks one of the greatest things is kneading bread dough.... I quite agree. It is very enjoyable. Anyhow, I told her that if she wanted to be a baker, that she would have to get up early enough because breads have to have a rising time. So, she set her alarm and had her recipe and got to work early and made a wonderful batch of cinnamon rolls for the family. I worked along behind her, helping her tidy as she worked, because that's one area that I tell the kids we all need to work on. Clean as you go and there will be MUCH less of a mess at the end. ;) 

As you can see in the photo above, the chicks and ducks are definitely growing! We have this one who keeps testing the limits. We call the chick "Deacon" because it hops up on top of their little 'house'. My nephew Deacon is always climbing up on top of everything right now, so this is why we call this chicken "The Deacon chick". Because the chick wants to test his boundaries also. ;) 

The weekend was a slurry of moments of sun, but a LOT of rain. Buckets even. We were able to work outside a good deal on Friday, but Saturday was rain on and off and then the evening was a downpour. It hindered my gardening plans, but I did get to work in the flower beds and get them mulched and cleaned up. I was thankful for that. Now if we will get some decent days of sun, the garden plot can dry out and we can get some plants in the ground. I'm an eager beaver... for sure!

Have a great day friends!