Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Ladies: 6 Months Later

This is just a little recap of our first six months with Chickens.  It's not meant to serve as a how-to, and I am certainly not trying to pass myself off as a chicken expert! We get asked all the time "so, how do you like having chickens?" So I thought I would answer!

Back in February Matt and I loaded the boys into the car and took a long winding drive through Amish country to pick up four teeny tiny peeping balls of fluff.  I've wanted to have a few chickens for a loooong time, but up until now, we didn't live in a place that we could have them.  BUT NOW.  Now I'm trying to talk Matt into raising ducklings as well :) (Kidding.  Mostly.)
 But anyway, back to the ladies.  We have four hens, all Australorps. (See that brownish blob behind the chick?  That's Jacobear.  He loves the chickens too, and is never agressive towards them)
For the first six weeks or so of their lives, they lived in our dining room, in a little brooder that we set up for them, using these directions (more or less - we made it work for our space).  I have heard a lot of people say that they would not keep the chickens in their living space, which I understand, but we didn't have anywhere else that was safe for them, plus I think it helped them get used to the boys. Also - I really loved hearing their little peeps.

**Chicken Fun Fact: Newly hatched chicks sleep like they are dead.  I don't mean they are sound sleepers, I mean they flop over, legs all willy nilly, and fall asleep anywhere.  I hadn't read that before and I was convinced our chicks were sick, but no! Just sleeping!**

They slowly feathered out over the next weeks, and around 5 weeks old or so, we started taking them outside to their run on balmy spring days. At first this was almost pitiful, as they just kind of huddled together in the corner, but they warmed up to being outside pretty quickly.

At somewhere between 6 and 7 weeks, we moved them our into their coop permanently.  We do let them out to free-range pretty regularly, but only when one or both of the adults are outside.  They never seem to wander far - but we live next to a farm and their vegetable garden is pretty close.  I would hate for my chickens to wreak havoc among the neighbors tomatoes, ya know?
 As I said before, they are extremely friendly. We were very intentional about teaching the boys that animals get scared, so they shouldn't chase the chickens (even though their 'run' is kind of hilarious).  They do have names, courtesy of Jack, but let's be honest - we can't really tell them apart!  Regardless, their names are Rosie, Smartie, Flower, and Wall.  Oddly enough, Wall is the only one we can tell apart - she is a little bit of a wanderer. I didn't really expect the chickens to have personalities, but they do! They are really fun to watch!
Oh...eggs! They started laying eggs in mid-July, when they were somewhere around 17-18 weeks old.  They are all good layers now, and we average three or four eggs a day - which has been really awesome.  The boys LOVE to check for eggs - they ask to check several times a day, and oh! The excitement when they find one! It's like Christmas.
So how do we like having chickens?  We LOVE having chickens.  Someday we want to have more. And ducks.  And turkeys.  Because now I'm hooked on this whole raising poultry thing.

Linking up at the Homeacre Hop

Monday, August 18, 2014

Get Into the Woods

Matt and I had a text exchange on Thursday that looked a little something like this:

Me: Oh my gosh, you start teaching Monday, don't you?  We never took the boys camping this summer!

Matt: Oh shoot.  Saturday?

So, yes.  Planning is not really our strong suit, but we are great at flying by the seat of our pants!  We had a jam-packed day on Saturday, as we had already planned to go to a local wildlife park with Matt's parents, but we rallied.  We quickly packed our camping gear into the car, grabbed some grilling food and s'more ingredients, and off we went.
 There is just something relaxing about getting everything set-up and smelling the wood-smoke from the fire.  It was like I could feel the stress melting away.  And speaking of melting - oh, did the boys ever LOVE the s'mores.
It's funny, the first time we took the boys camping they were much younger, and it was fun - but hard.  I felt like I was constantly chasing someone, telling them to back away from the fire, etc.  This time though - it was just FUN.  They are growing and maturing and while there is a big part of me that wants them to stay little, I really love seeing them change and adapt.
This was the first year they were allowed to 'help' with the fire.  I'll be the first to say that Matt is much better at letting them take risks and learn things like this than I am, and in no time at all he had them scurrying around the campsite gathering kindling and blowing on the flames.  
All in all - a fabulous impromptu camping trip! I'm so grateful to live in this place, with these people.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

See them Sleep

If you follow me on instagram (hello_rebekah) you will know that I have an everlasting love of watching (and photographing) my boys as they nap.  Ever since Luke was about one and half years old, the boys have napped together, in my bed.  Yes, I know this is against the 'rules.  No, I do not care.

So annnnyway.  Pictures.  Boys.  Sleeping.  These are actually taken over the course of about two months, not all at once, and I love the variation in their poses.  Sometimes they hold hands, sometimes they flop on opposite ends of the bed.



 



It just never gets old to me.  I know these days of sweet quiet naptimes are soon coming to an end.  Jack is going on five now, and will be starting afternoon school next month.  So I will cherish every second of hearing the sweet rise and fall of their breath as they rest their growing bodies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dirty Hands, Happy Hearts

A good long while ago, I shared this picture with you...
And now?  Well....
I never knew how much I would love growing a small portion of our food.  I never knew how much my boys would LOVE checking their garden.  They would check the tomatoes every few hours if I let them.  I never knew how well they would eat their vegetables if they grew them themselves.  Seriously.  You want your kid to eat zucchini?  Let him plant, tend, and pick it - then watch him clear his plate.

And how about these little ladies?
WELL.  Let me tell you, I fully underestimated how much we would ALL love these girls.
They are actually really fun pets, not to mention the HUGE benefit that is the fresh eggs.   We have four hens, and we get anywhere from 2 to 4 eggs each day.  They are sweet and gentle, and they let Jack pet them anytime he would like.
For the record - those 'carrots' are just the thinned ones, NOT the actual 'crop'

We have put a lot of hours and love into our little garden, but man the payoff is HUGE.  Not in terms of money, but in experience.  In sharing.  I've never known a gardener who isn't happy to send you off with a few extra zucchini or tomatoes.  It's a community I didn't know I was lacking, but I am so happy to have found it.  

Linking up : Homestead Barn Hop

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Snippets

Weeeellll hello there! I don't even know what happened, I blinked and now it's August.  We have been having SO much fun this summer, I have barely had time to crack my lap-top, much less write anything.  The boys are really growing, and this has been the summer of adventure for them.  A little more independence has gone a long way in teaching them about their abilities and giving them some extra confidence.

So let's see, shall we?

June:  We rang in the month with our first trip out for ice cream.
 We picked strawberries, and then made an insane amount of strawberry jam.
 We discovered the joy of playing in the hose.
 We went on VACATION.  It was incredible.  
July:
I don't have a picture, but the Mister and I celebrated our sixth anniversary with a fun night away.  It was fun to spend time with just Matt again.

We went blueberrypicking...
 ...with COUSINS!
 We discovered a deep love of going to the lake near our house.
 We learned that, yes, the boys ARE old enough to go hiking! This has opened up a world of fun for us on our long summer days!
 We have PLAYED!

August:

Bring it! We are ready!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Oh Hello

Well hello there! How are you little blog?  I didn't forget about you, life has just been...well, really fun actually.  We have had a busy month, and I honestly just forgot to open up my laptop for a while.

------BUT ANYWAY------

The biggest news around here happened the day before Easter.  My little brother has this wonderful girl in his life, and he asked me to snap a few pictures of them.  
 Much to Mery's surprise, Everett had a little something else up his sleeve.  Actually it was in his pocket...
She said 'yes'! 
I could gush on for a while here about how much I love my brother, and how much I love Mery, and how I excited I am for them (SUPER EXCITED), but I think they already know.  
What an honor it was for me to be there to witness this day in their lives, I can't wait to see what life has in store for them! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring is in the Air...

...and boy-oh-boy are we ever ready for it.  This winter was long, but honestly I enjoyed it more than most of the winters in recent memory.  Having active little boys who LOVE the snow can really change your perspective.  But anyway, it's April now, and while we could very well end up with a few more cold days, we are loving all of the signs of spring that are popping up all around us! Including the daffodils that are smack dab in the middle of the yard.
We have high hopes for our garden this year, and our seedlings are looking quite lovely.  We did leave them in the playroom overnight on one cold night (dangit!) and ended up losing almost all of our cabbage seedlings.  Lesson learned.
We are planning on building a few larger raised beds, along with a specific planter for potatoes, so the two tiny raised beds that we had built last year will no longer be so cramped.
Planting some onion sets
I've found that I still don't really like to grow decorative plants very much, so our landscaping is still mostly thistles and weeds, but I LOVE growing vegetables.  I love seeing my boys happily chomp into a tomato that they picked out of their own backyard, and I love seeing them play 'farmer' with their little shovels and rakes.
It has been such a HUGE treat to get outside and just really breathe, you know?  We also managed to take our first little fishing trip of the year.   We aren't serious fisher-people, so the state park right up the street is pretty much perfect for meeting our fishing needs!
Luke got his first first big boy fishing pole as a gift from Grandma and Grandpa this year, and it is so fun to watch his little fingers reel in his line.
Jack has been practicing his casting with Matt, and it is so cute to see his little face when his line plops into the water.

Oh yes, we are happy that spring is here at last! Has spring sprung where you are living?

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Bathroom...Befores

Today marks one year living in our little place, and I still love it just as much! Maybe more now actually.

About three weeks ago we started our real bathroom renovation.  I say 'real' because we had previously done some work in here just to make it into something we could live with until we could really DO the room. This is involved ripping out the old carpet (yep. carpet), tearing down a very moldy wall that previously housed a stackable washer and dryer unit, taking down as much paneling as possible, painting the vanity top with the leftover paint from the kitchen, and putting down a temporary floor in the form of the cheapest sticky tiles we could find.  The end result?  Well...she still wasn't pretty folks.  You know how on some of those home reno shows they will show a snobby couple walking into a perfectly fine, if dull, bathroom and they turn up their noses and say something along the lines of "this is a total gut job!".

I want to smack those people.  Now this?  This is a gut job, mmmmkay?  Remember, this is AFTER we had taken out some of the scarier components...
 Ahem.  Yeaaaaaah.  To be fair...the gunk on the wall was a result of me slowly chipping off some old tiles, so it didn't look like that the WHOLE time.  But look, the room has a window, which is nice! We've never had a bathroom with a window before...
And hey...that old vanity DID have a lot of storage going for it...and (being 100% serious here) that mirror was actually really cool. Oh the red lamp...the overhead light worked when/if it wanted to, so it was there as backup.  I don't miss the red lamp.  At all.
There were these weird holes in the wall...we never really figured out why they were there.   It uh....well...it wasn't my favorite room in the house.  

But you have to start somewhere right? 

RIGHT?

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Nuggets

We have been growing our household in a new way these days...
Peep peep!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Have a Seat

Do you remember our little sofa?  The tiny little guy that we had at our first apartment?  
Well.  Six years, two kids, and one dog later, that little guy wasn't looking so hot. The dog had chewed the arm of the sofa back when we was a puppy, and the kids had spilled more things than I care to count on the poor thing.  Not to mention it was so cushion-less that our rear-ends would fall asleep if we actually tried to SIT there.  
Here it is in our current home, and yeah...it really doesn't look as bad as it was. At one point Luke crawled out from underneath it with a three inch bolt that he had taken out.  We never did find where that actually went now that I think about it....

Well anyway...long story short, we finally decided enough was enough and bought new furniture.  
It took us both a few days to get used to seeing normal sized furniture in here, but the bosses?  
Well...they approve.   And judging by the amount of naps Matt managed to squeeze in on the new sofa this weekend - I'd say he approves as well! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Special Delivery

I've been thinking a lot lately about the split seconds that occur in our lives when we can impact others.  When we are their 'one chance' at something.  Maybe it's just a smile at the grocery store or kindness to a neighbor, but if you have one tiny moment to impact another person's day, are you taking it?

I think I fail at this more often than not, but today?  Today we seized our moments and battled the elements to deliver some Valentine's goodies.  Because of the crazy amount of snow we got yesterday we didn't make it to as many people as we would have liked, so some belated gifts will be heading out later this week, but still! We tried!
Yesterday during the snow storm we hunkered down inside and make our little gifts, which are just simple heart bird-feeders.
They are simple as can be, just plain gelatin, hot water, and birdseed.
But the smiles on faces when these two showed up with flowers and a gift?  They were priceless.   I hope the boys always remember how much they can brighten someone's day by just investing a little bit of time and effort in them.

Happy Valentine's Day dear readers! Take advantage of all of the chances you have to be someone's 'happy' today!

PS: Family members - if we didn't get to you today, pretend to be surprised if you are suddenly given a crumbly heart shaped bird feeder!

PPS: 2 packets plain gelatin, 1/2c hot water til dissolved, 1.5c birdseed pressed into molds.

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