Friday, July 31, 2009

We are awsome!

Imagine our surprise when we were checking other blogs and happened over to Home Spun Juggling, found this blog award and it had our blog listed on the bottom. Sounds like fun so we are making the post and adding seven people we think have awe-summm blogs.

The rules:

1. List seven things that make you Awe-summm.
2. Pass this on to seven bloggers you read religiously.
3. Tag those seven bloggers.

Since this a family blog I asked the kids what they thought made our family awe-summ and this was their answers.

1. We get to stay up late and sleep in. Actually, our kids go to bed earlier than they ever had in their life. Their bed time is 10:00 and we try to have them settled by 11 - 11:30. We are night owls and I was never one to conform to society rules when they don't make any difference in our lives. I was that lady shopping at Target at 10:30 at night with her kids in tow checking out the toys that everyone was pointing at. People use to actually scold me for letting the kids stay up so late. I would just smile and nod so they could feel like they were giving me good parenting advice. My little gift to the grandmas of the word.

2. We have animals especially the rabbits said Spark. I have drawn the line though at a gerbil. They just seems like too much work to me.

3. We cook good meals and Spark appreciates that we eat (for the most part) organic. Fish sticks make me queasy and I despise microwaved food. This comes from my childhood. If it came in a box and my mother could microwave it, we ate it. The microwave came on the market when I was in Jr. High and we were one of the first families I knew who had one, other kids were spared a couple of years before that device made it into their kitchens. My mom fell head over heels in love with the thing. I always said that if she could get the Thanksgiving turkey in the microwave she would have cooked it in there.

4. We do a lot of fun stuff. When you can have a good time doing chores who needs Disney World.

5. We read a lot of books. Makes me smile that they mentioned this one.

6. We have a huge yard to play in.

7. We are homeschooled and have a lot of freedom over what we get to do. My kids don't really get the concept of peer pressure and tend to be free spirits. I wonder how many notes I would have gotten home from school by now?

And Spark thinks our family would be much more awe-summ if we had some flying, burping monkeys.

Here are the seven blogs we are passing this on to. Don't know if they all read us or not but we read them. Leave us a message if you do.

1. Countryside Life

2. Two Kid Schoolhouse

3. The Tie That Binds Us

4. The Author's Desk

5. Life Gets Messy

6. Crazy Aunt Pearl

7. Four Squares and norman makes five

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The results are in

Dancer received five premium ribbons. A champion ribbon on the scrapbook which we forgot to take a picture of. Dog Education she got a reserve champion and a state fair trip.

Forest Resources for Sap to Syrup she got a champion and a state fair trip.

Exploring Animals for The Low Down on Duck Down she got a reserve champion and a state fair trip.

Consumer Education for Homemade VS Store Bought she got a reserve champion and state fair trip.

All her other projects she got blue 1st place ribbons and three red 2nd place ribbons. I told her getting a few red ribbons keep her humble.

In our state each person can only take one project to the state fair. Dancer had such a hard time deciding which project to take. She finally settled on the Dog Education poster of Don't Feed The Dog. She is just beside herself with excitement about winning a trip. You are not able to take a project to the state fair until after completing sixth grade. The last two years she has won state fair trips and couldn't go because of her age. This year she was worried that she would be old enough but not win a trip.

After all this state fair excitement we stopped at the dairy building to have a malt. Yum, one of my favorite parts of the day!

Kris Kringle Ice Box cookies

Dad mixed these up last night and got up early this morning to bake them to put in the open class in the fair. This recipe was favorite of his grandma's and it is no wonder as they are so light, crispy and flaky. It is hard to not just eat them one right after the other until the plate is empty. We actually had to hide them from the kids this afternoon.

Kris Kringle Ice Box Cookies

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix per usual. Shape into a rectangle and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate until firm. Unwrap and slice thin. Bake 35o until light brown.

4-H entry day at the fair

A long day the fair for us on Wednesday. We got there early to drop of our items for the club booth and then waited for the 4-H judging to start. Dancer had 20 projects, the banner and the scrapbook to interview for. She started at 2:00 p.m. and got done around 6:30 p.m. Spark had five cloverbud projects. The cloverbuds interview with the same person so it goes much faster. It was day of a lot of waiting. The good thing is that we have been in 4-H for a few years and know a lot of people so the time went by fast chatting and catching up with people we don't see very often. A couple we only see the week of the fair.
Dancer waiting, waiting, waiting in yet another line.
. When the line is long a stool project is a blessing as you can rest your weary feet.
Spark talking to the judge about his stool.
.Dancer telling the judge about her consumer education project. She compared the price of homemade garlic crisps to store bought.
After the judging we waited because our club was slated to sweep the 4-H building after closing at 9:30. To pass the time, and because we were starving by this time, we hiked over to Pizza Hut for dinner. This is was treat for us because, although we love Pizza Hut, we had not eaten at one since Spark's 5th birthday. Our reason for not going back was that he drank two large pops rather quickly and gave them back all over the table. That's the nicest way I can think to say that! It has taken him this long, 3 1/2 years, to get over the incident and want to go to a Pizza Hut again. He was very careful about how much pop he drank this time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The best Pizzelles ever - Italy

Pizzelles are Italian cookies and they are so addicting. It would take some serious will power to eat only one Pizzelle. They are a cookie that is made in a special Pizzelle maker that look like a cute, little, thin, crispy waffle with a beautiful design on each side. I made these to put in the fair this week for open class foreign baking. The entry is only for three cookies so we took a big stack to Grandma Pat tonight to keep us from eating the whole batch tonight. They are excellent plain right off the cooling rack, spread with a thin layer of cream cheese or in a bowl of ice cream. The recipe is really simple, it is the making them that takes all the time.
Here is the recipe we use:
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter melted
1 tsp vanilla - or other flavoring, I am partial to raspberry
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Beat eggs and sugar until thick. Stir in melted butter. Blend in rest of ingredients. Using Pizzelle maker drop by spoonful on the baker and check after 35 seconds for doneness. They are done when they are light brown.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Banana cake or bread

I have sold a ton of this recipe at the farmers' market and people come back for it week after week. It is bread in a bread pan or cake in a 8X8 pan.

Banana cake or bread

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (3 to 4)

1/3 cup water

1 2/3 cups flour - I use whole wheat

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts - I think pecans are best in this recipe

a handful of chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom of pan. Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and mix. Add and mix in water, and bananas. Stir in rest of ingredients. Bake until wooden pick comes out clean. About 55 minutes for a bread and 35 for a cake.

Norah's Menus and Recipes

A blog I follow is Norah's Menus and Recipes. I have made quite a few of her reicpes and they have all turned out very, very tasty. She is having a contents over at her blog so click over and check it out. Hurry it ends at 10 p.m.!

Newest residents on the farm

Carmel and her new little brood. She is the only chicken that has sat on eggs long enough to hatch any chicks out this year. She sat on 10 and 7 hatched, good job Carmel! This is the second time she has become a mom. She did a wonderful job two years ago with the one chick she managed to hatch and we hope that she will again.
Carmel was born here a cross between an Buff Orpington and Rhode Island Red. The father to all of these are the late Grandpa Jerry, also born here, who was a mixed of two birds. So now her little ones are all different colors. They are all her's and his because they were the only two that were in that coop since Grandpa Jerry had his trouble with the ducks and Carmel was the bottom of the pecking order in the coop with all the other birds. She had to be taken out or they would have pecked her to death.

It's tastier on the other side of the fence.

Last night we went out to do chores and Spark got out the door first. He starts yelling to hurry the goats are in the garden. There is a gate from the corral to the garden that is on hinges that will come off by lifting up on the gate. The goats have learned that if they stick their head in the spaces in the gate that they can lift the door off the hinges. I say goats here because we didn't see exactly who did it, and I don't want to point any fingers. but Millie was the scoundrel the last time this happened. Last night though, even the little Desdemona was trying her head at getting it off when we were trying to get it back on. We had a heck of a time getting them out of the garden and then when we were trying to tie the door down they were biting at our fingers, clothes and the bailing twine we were using to foil their efforts. This morning when Dad got home from work he put this big wood piece on the gate before they got to go back out there. Today they are spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get this gate off and get back to dinning on our beans. Maggie, who must be more of a foreman, has spent a better part of the day standing on a mound dreamily gazing at the tasty greens on the other side of the fence. I had to take all these pictures from quite a ways away or they come running over to the side to see what snack they are going to get. Like this.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cloud poems

By Spark

Clouds are islands in the sky
In the dark night they disappear

When people cry
their eyes are rain clouds

We were coming home from town the other day and Spark thought of first poem. Usually he is playing his Nintendo DS because the only time he can play it is in the car or when waiting for Dancer at dance class. I surprised me that he was back there in his seat writing poems!

Today he wrote the poem down so we don't forget it and when he handed it to me the second poem was on the paper. Again, I was pleasantly surprised that he was writing poems in the summer when he doesn't even have too. My boy who doesn't like to write! Can you tell I am smiling at this development?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What to do with rosemary

We went to the farmers' market today and brought tons of rosemary. The problem was no one seemed to know what to do with it. Those who did snapped it up because we had big bunches for a $1.00, about a quarter of what it costs in the store and this was just picked yesterday so very fresh.

Here is what we suggest for uses:

  • roast with veggies, especially potatoes
  • put with meat, chicken and fish
  • add in cheese
  • dry it and put it in homemade bread
  • puree it with olive oil for a pesto
  • pick the leaves off and use the stem for a kabob skewer
  • throw a bunch on the grill to flavor the smoke
  • throw a couple of sprigs in when you have a fire for a wonderful aroma
  • make sachets for your drawers
  • make it into wreaths
  • tie it in bundles with a pretty ribbon
  • put it in potpourri
  • put it in a bag, throw it in the freezer and save it for later use
  • dry it and use in the winter to remember summer
  • I have even heard of a recipe for rosemary ice cream!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pavlov's Cats

Every morning and evening after we milk the goats, we pour two quarts of the milk into jars for ourselves. The milk that is left over we pour into a dish on the deck for the cats. When the cats see us coming from the barn with the milker they make a mad dash for the deck and wait for their bowl to be filled. So a cat really can be trained when it involves their stomachs!

p.s. don't tell them that I said they could be trained

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Island of the Blue Dolphin Book Club

Dancer and I belong to a mother/daughter homeschool book club. The members take turns hosting the club each month. This was our month to host. The host family gets to choose the book and Dancer choose Island of the Blue Dolphin as we both really enjoy the story.
We made a dolphin cake for snack. The instructions are here. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be. The dolphin part of the cake got a bit more done that expected so it was dry which makes it harder to work with making shapes compared to a moist cake. Someone stopped by to buy some rabbits and we were out in the barn when I realized 'we have a cake in the oven'. It didn't burn but it was in a few minutes too long. The base of the cake was chocolate and the dolphins were yellow cake. Almost the whole thing was gone by the time people left and one person took the rest home for their boys that didn't come so it must have tasted okay. The little dolphins around the sides were gummy dolphins, well they were called sharks but they served the place of dolphins. Those were all gone right away too.
The girls each made a shell bracelet. They really got into this activity, a couple girls went back to make more after the book discussion and even took shells home to make more when time ran out to make them here.
Dancer painted this box blue to be the ocean and put in a little sea otter with a shell on his tummy. This was really cute. She also put some big shells all about the living room and hung up some cotton fishing nets on the lamps and chairs.
She worked hard on these fish and colored them with chalks to resemble a beautiful catch of fish

and then hung them up across the living room to look like they were drying for winter in Karana's house. The t.v. really makes it look authentic doesn't it.

This is just quickly cut out of paper and taped to the wall. The size is about 3 feet by 3 feet. It is the Aleut ship with red sails coming into Coral Cove.

We also played the sound machine's track of birds calling and the ocean waves rolling in. To simulate ocean breezes we ran a fan. It was cold today, a high of 62 degrees, so we turned it off to keep from freezing. I suppose we could have pretended it was winter on the island but some of the kids had goosebumps.

I was unable to find discussion questions for older kids so just made up my own. It took about an hour to discuss them all. The ice breaker question, since not all the girls know each other well, was: If your name had to be kept a secret what would you tell people your name was?

The rest were:

  • How would you describe Karana as a person? In the beginning of the book? The end?

  • What do you think she thought when she broke the rule that women can't make weapons or they would break when they used them but when she used them nothing happened?

  • What do you think happened in her trip out to sea that made her happier with the island than before?

  • What do you think made Karana not kill Rontu?

  • She wanted to kill Rontu because he killed her brother and then didn't. Then she hated the Aleut girl because the Aleuts killed her father and many others. She had a change of heart about both of them. Both of these former enemies made her solitary life more bearable. Do you think that is why she changed her mind about them? Or was she merciful and forgiving? Was that part of her people's culture?

  • Ramo is attacked and killed by the wild dogs with Rontu as the leader and then later Rontu is attacked by the dogs. Was the author able to make you feel the same emotions in both scenes? If the dogs had killed Rontu do you think Karana feelings would have been the same as for her brother's death?

  • Why do you think the Aleut girl did not ask Karana to come with her? Do you think the girl told the Aleut men about Karana? Why?

  • When the men came to rescue her she didn't run down to the cove but waited for them to come to her. Why did she do that?

  • Karana tells us a few times that her sister was more vain than she was. She seemed proud that she wasn't that way. How is her pride a form of vanity? In secret she wore her cape, skirt, jewelry and then at the end of the book she put on airs for the men rescuing her. How vain do you really think she was? Was there a difference between her and her sister? Or was there a cultural reason she may have dressed for the men who rescued her?

  • Life on the island was alone was difficult and dangerous. What do you think kept her from giving up?

  • The dolphins are mentioned in the story twice, once going back to the island and then when she leaves. What did they symbolize for her?

  • Would you have stayed or left the island? Why?

It was a lot of fun going through these questions and the girls, and moms, had really great in depth answers. Dancer was still talking about the questions and how people answered them way into the evening.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Grandpa Jerry got his comeuppance

Grandpa Jerry is a rooster. He is named Grandpa Jerry because a couple of years ago he was fighting another rooster, hurt his leg and limped for several months. Around the time this happened the real Grandpa Jerry, the Dad's dad, was having his hip replaced. So when this rooster started to limp Dad started calling him Grandpa Jerry after his dad. It stuck and so even after the rooster stopped limping we still referred to him by Grandpa Jerry.

Since Grandpa Jerry got his name for limping by being in a fight you can imagine what kind of bird he is, a mean one. He has taken an eye out of another rooster and any time he fights with another rooster there is lots of blood. He is mean to the ducks and won't let them eat their food, pecks them and chases them around the yard. He thinks all the hens are for his X-rated urges. They are scared to even get down off perches to eat because he attacks them. The only reason we have kept him around is because he doesn't attack us.

Yesterday, though, was the end of the line for him. He is just too awful to the other birds. Tonight he was Grandpa Jerry noodle soup. And being the mean old cuss that he was, it took 5 hours of simmering in the pot before he was tender.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The determined cactus

For Christmas last year Spark got a little kit to grow cactus. Being the farmer that he is, he whipped open the package, actually read the directions, prepared the soil and lovingly placed the tiny seeds in the dirt. He check for growth every day for the first few weeks. Nothing. Then he checked once in a while the next few weeks. Nothing. They are probably duds he decided. The little seeds in their growing dome were forgotten on the window sill. One day on a whim he looked at them again and there were four little green specks. You had to squint to see them but they were there none the less. At that time he gave them their every few months watering. A couple months later they were visible without squinting. Today he took them down to give them their triannual watering and they had little prickles on them! With the prickles, which accounts for about half their size, they are now maybe a quarter of an inch tall. Seven months and a quarter of an inch. Good grief, growing cactus is for the patient people in the world. My mom has a cactus that is over 80 years old, it was her mother's, and it is about 18 inches high. It has never changed in all the years I can remember but maybe since they grow so slow it has been pushing onward and upward all these years and no one has noticed. I guess that shows that with steady growth, no matter how slow, we can all reach our full potential and perhaps it is just designed to take a little longer for some of us.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A little game we like to call Calculation War

Spark loves to play the card game war. The game works like this. Divide a deck of cards in two, a pile for each player, each player flips over their top card and who ever has the high card wins both cards. Both players flip the matching cards and both lay three cards face down in a row and one card up. High card then takes all the cards. The game keeps going until one player is out of cards. Easy enough, the problem is the game can go on forever.

To speed the game up we added a math aspect to it. When the two cards are flipped over the first person to yell out the answer of what the two cards added together equals gets the cards. For Spark I count to three out loud, because it makes him more tense and excited than if I counted to myself, before I yell out my answer. If I played with Dancer she wouldn't get the extra three seconds we would just go head to head. For subtraction the smaller number is taken from the larger number. Multiplication is just the two number multiplied. Division is the smaller number into the larger one. If there is a remainder that needs to be said too, for example, 10 divided by 3 we would say 3 remainder 1.

The game has provided a fun way to keep up on math facts this summer. Also, by looking at the cards that I have left in my hand I can see the areas that Spark needs to work on. For example, this afternoon I had all the nines in my hands so I know that he needs more work with the nine addition facts. He is so fun to watch play, when he gets the answer he snaps his fingers, has a huge smile on his face and grabs the cards up so fast. The other benefit to me counting before giving the answer is I can control the speed of the game depending on how fast or slow I count so that a game can be played in five minutes or less. That is my little secret though!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Everybody can relax now

We live totally by our date book. We don't make a move without first consulting the pink book as it is called this year. Other years it has been the blue book, the stripy book, the red book and I can't remember all the colors we have had. It is a student planner so it goes from the last week of July one year to the first few days of August the next. I was beginning to panic because we are starting to schedule things for August and I had no where to write them down. The last few weeks I have been going to Target to see if the school supplies were out yet and with every trip I have been walking away disappointed as there was lawn furniture where the school supplies should have been. Finally, on my last trip the hoses had been moved to the clearance section and the school supplies were in their rightful place. The kids and I quickly located out the date books. My eyes darted over the shelves of planners to find the one I love and have used for years, I open it up and someone had the bright idea to change it. There were times printed on each of the days, I am assuming for the class periods, I hope it wasn't just to irritate me. Well, this just won't do and my smile turned up side down. The kids, sensing something is amiss, tell me everything is going to be okay and start showing me the fine features of other planners. One has a place where a picture can be slipped into the front cover, one is fabric, one is a pretty color, one has a pen holder, etc. After much deliberation I did pick out a new one. It's not the same. I transferred all the info into the new one. I don't like it. I may get use to it. I am sure I won't love it like the old one. I hate change.

Here is what we keep track of in the planner.

  • Web site passwords
  • confirmation numbers
  • customer numbers
  • Dad's work schedule - it is different every week
  • who he switched shifts with if there were any changes
  • all the places the kids need to be - dance, 4-H activities etc.
  • things coming up we may want to do to
  • appointments
  • if we are having company - don't want them knocking and we forgot they were coming!
  • anything we have sold, eggs, farmers' markets, rabbits
  • things that are due, fees, forms
  • minutes from meetings, brochures, business cards, cards we exchange with each other, memos and anything I will need to find at a later date quickly
  • when we put animals together for mating and when they may be due
  • the days animals are born
  • addresses and phone numbers
  • books I want to check out or look for at the library
  • things we are going to be studying in the future so I can look for materials when we are shopping
  • almost every day I write down what we did, anything fun that happened, something funny the kids said, house/car repairs, the weather and other things of note.
  • birthdays and anniversaries
  • how far I walk every day and how long it took me
  • what we gave the kids for birthday and Christmas presents

I keep all the books from years past and enjoying looking through them once in a while. They are really more like diaries or a journal by the end of the year. It surprises me when I look back at ones that are from when Dancer was a baby and something in there will allow me to remember the actual day. Without our date books all those memories and little details would be lost.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Perfect Day

We had the most perfect summer day today. We did a bit of gardening early this afternoon and temps were cool, it was cloudy and there were no bugs. When we got done we decided to go to the beach. We called up some friends, who have kids the same age as ours, and they were free for the afternoon to join us. The sun came out as we were getting ready to go. At the beach the temps were perfect, there was no wind and there were so few people there it was almost like our own private beach. The kids played and we visited for three hours. We came home and made what Spark called a quality dinner. We had steaks on the grill that we had the good luck of finding in the clearance section of the meat department marked way down or we wouldn't have been having steak. We also had corn on the cob and creamed cucumbers. After dinner we went outside to do a bit of lawn mowing and other chores just as the sun went behind a cloud and made it perfect to do some work. I could get use to days like this real fast.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Caught the cheese

Summer is a great time as all the towns around here have a festival of some sort or another which always includes a parade. We went to one of these parades this afternoon in a near by town. I always enjoy the parades because in most of them that are near us we know a lot of the people who are in them and it is a time to yell hello and give a wave. As a spectator, part of the standard uniform for parade attendance is a shopping bag to collect all the candy that is thrown out from the floats. Today, however, we got a lot more than just your standard parade candy. Since we live in farm country the Dairy Princess is a big deal. When the Dairy Princess float went by, lo and behold, the Dairy Princess was a homeschooled girl that Dancer knows from 4-H camp and other 4-H activities. The princess sees Dancer, yells her name and hurls a huge handful of string cheese sticks at us. I have never gotten cheese at a parade before! Then the boy scouts come by and we know some of those kids and the scout leader. The leader runs up and gives us a handful of Bliss and Dove chocolates and says "this is the good candy for the moms and dads". Score again! Other floats threw out can coolers, hats, tattoos, bottles of water, freezies and the standard Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers and bulk candy. The kids came home with a shopping bag so full it looked like they had been trick or treating!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Snickerdoodle Chex Mix

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit today and brought us this recipe. It looked so good we made it right after they left. We had brats on the grill and a nice lunch with them. Don't want anyone to think we waited to have a snack until they were gone!

Snickerdoodle Chex Mix

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups any kind of Chex cereal
4 cups popped popcorn
1/4 cup butter
a handful of choc. or butterscotch chips

Mix cereal and popcorn in bowl. Mix sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Melt butter and pour over cereal mixture tossing until evenly coated. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture, microwave for one minute. Toss in a handful of choc. or butterscotch chips. We used a few of both. Spread on wax paper to cool. If there is any left store it in an airtight container.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


We heard on the news tonight that the word localvore was added to the Websters dictionary. It means someone who eats locally grown food. So got us to thinking, does that make us yardavores or if we eat something out of the garden are we a gardenavore? We eat chicken eggs from the the coop is that a coopavore or would it fall under the yardavore? If our dinner was raised in the barn are we barnavores? This is all so confusing!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Captive audience

When Dancer was 10 months old she started talking so we just assumed that Spark would talk early as well. He barely said a word, or made a sound, until he was over two years old no matter how hard we tried to get him to talk. We knew he understood everything we were saying so we didn't worry. I was never one to put much stock in those development charts they used at the doctor's office and I stayed clear of parenting magazines. When Spark did start talking it was none of this one word stuff, one day he just started talking in full blown, complete sentences. Now he hasn't stopped. I don't think a thought goes through his head that doesn't come out his mouth. I tell him sometimes that my ears are tired and they need a little rest because I get brain overload with him.

I was out in the garden for about an hour and half weeding, watering and putting in a few plants that still needed to get in the ground when Spark saw his opportunity for a chance to spin a good long yarn. My kids keep really close tabs on me all the time. I am never out of their sight more than a few minutes when I hear them start yelling ''MOM". As an aside, the other week I was out behind the barn and didn't answer because Dad was in the house with them and I thought he could take care of whatever they needed. Spark got all excited that I had been stolen and was ready to call 911 to report a missing persons report. Anyway, Spark comes out and follows me around talking and talking and talking. He has this story he is making up and he spent almost the whole time telling it to me. All I have to do is throw out a hmmm, cool, very creative, and good thinking once in a while and he just keeps going. He never really does much helping during these times, just talking to his captive audience.

I am trying to enjoy his talking. People say when kids get older they clam up and don't say a word. Neither of my kids are at that point yet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free is a good price

We drove by a greenhouse that was advertising 70% off all remaining plants. Since we didn't get any flowers for the pots in the front of the house we stopped to take a look at what they had left. We bought a flat of geraniums for $12.00 that are in very good shape and full of buds that will be enough for not only the pots but also a couple of hanging baskets. Down one whole side of the greenhouse they had vegetable plants and they were all free. They must have thought it would be more cost effective to give them away instead of filling a dumpster, that was how many they had there, and paying to have it dumped. We picked up a Roma and a cherry tomato plant, some collard greens and summer crooked necked squash. They look a bit scrawny from still being in pots but with a little TLC they should be caught up in a week or two. I was pretty excited, I usually hear about things like this but never run across them myself!

Monday, July 6, 2009

You're not welcome here

When we had hay delivered a few weeks back, a couple of the ducks were still sitting on nests in the few bales that were left from last years hay. We wanted to move all the bales so we could use them first and make a clean space for the new hay. Dad took a pitch fork and scooped up a nest, with mad duck moms attacking him, and put the nest under the pine trees so they could finish sitting on them in a covered spot in the yard. After depositing the first nest he went for the second, was just getting to the tree line with it and in the first nest is a skunk absconding with an egg. The skunk saw him, turned to spray, Dad dropped the nest and ran like the smart man that he is.
To take care of our little skunk problem the live trap was brought out and set for a swift capture. The first night we had success! However, as Dad got closer to the trap it started to meow. We had caught Vidalia who was not amused with the dirty trick of a treat being in a trap.
The days and weeks have been going by with no skunk. All the eggs, from the now abandoned duck nests, were slowly leaving the area and once in a while we could smell he was near.
Last week after cleaning Dancer's two big bass, Dad put the fish guts out in the trap. Well, yesterday afternoon Mr. Skunk could take it no longer, he went in to have a little fish feast. When we saw him in there we had the dilemma of what to do with a skunk in a trap. It's not like you can go up to it and take it out. We did walk about 15 feet from him and he didn't seemed phased at all which made us think that he has been near for a long time and was use to us. This morning Dad shot him and we are going to wait a while to take him out in case he isn't dead. Skunks are great carriers of rabies in our area and we are so relieved to have him gone.
As we thought back to this spring, we remembered that once in a while there would be the deep, rich smell of skunk in the yard. Ducks would be sitting on eggs one day and the next they would be all gone which we thought was odd, what were the ducks doing to their eggs especially after sitting on them for a couple of weeks. Many of our new ducklings that hatched went up missing with no sign of them, now we think he must have been grabbing a few at the duck buffet every night.
So Mr. Skunk, you are not welcome here. We hope he was not married with children. He was living in an old wood pile behind the trees but it is not like we will being going back there a knocking. We'll just keep our eyes out for any relatives he may have had.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Feed us! Feed us!

When the ducks are hungry, which seems like most of the time, they will come charging after us quack, quack, quacking. If we are in the barn they will even come to door and yell in to get their food out. Here Dancer is pouring out feed for them. We always feed them in the same spot so all the grass has long worn off.
We may not be able to talk to the animals but they sure can tell us what they want.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Relaxing celebration

Our day was pretty laid back. We spent the afternoon under the trees in the back yard sprawled out in lawn chairs reading. The neighbors who live a ways down the road lit off quite a few large fireworks as it was getting dusky. The fireworks are like the kind they shoot off in professional displays so not sure where they get them but do enjoy being able to see them from our yard. In between fireworks, we watched the lighting bugs do a show of their own in the ditches and field across the road. I always find those bugs so magical no matter how many times I see them blinking in the dark. When Dancer was little we would pretend they were fairies dancing. We weren't out there too long before the mosquitos started feasting on us and drove us back in the house early. There is popping going off all around us, the sound is really carrying tonight, so it still seems festive.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Don't feed the dog

Dancer's latest 4-H project is in an area she has never entered a project in before, dog education. She chose to highlight eight foods that shouldn't be fed to dogs. There is a ton of information out there on this subject and she narrowed it down to eight common foods. The foods she choose were onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes, macadamia nuts, alcohol, coffee, and yeast. Some of the foods we had on hand and some we needed to take a trip to the grocery store to purchase. Then she meticulously staged them all and took pictures of each item. She took a picture of Nikki eating a snack so that she could be a part of the project too. All the pictures are mounted on blue paper and under each is why the food is bad for dogs. The letters are cut out of the same blue that is under the pictures.

A couple of these foods we have given our dogs and not had any problems so we don't know if it depends on the actual dog or what. Nikki has had grapes in the past and loves them.
We have a funny story about chocolate and dogs. Our dog before Nikki, Irene Beans, loved snacks and would also help herself if no one was handing them out. It was Easter and the kids found their candy in the morning and put in their baskets for later. We left for church and in our haste we must have forgotten to put her in the kennel. While we were gone she got into those baskets, ate all the candy (which was quite a bit and she was an only an 11 lb. dog) and a lot of the wrappers. We walk in the house and she is just smiling up at us like thanks for leaving me out and candy unattended. Even with all the wrappers she digested she never got sick. Actually, we were more worried she would have bowel blockage from a wrapper than sick from the chocolate. The Dad had just heard a story from one of his co-workers who's dog had eaten a ball of aluminum foil, got a blockage and she spent thousands on vet bills to save the dog.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A day of business

We awoke this morning with someone driving around our house. A first I thought it was a loud truck going by slowly on the road but I quickly came to and realized that it was truck in our yard. The man who delivered the hay a couple of weeks ago finally came back to get his hay wagon.

Then we were up and going to go into town to sort the roots and fruits order. Every three weeks we order veggies, fruits and other misc. items with a bunch of other people and Dancer and I always go in to help sort the order. Everyone is suppose to take turns sorting the order but Dancer likes doing it so much that we are permanent volunteers. All the food is organic and by ordering in a large group the prices are usually cheaper than regular veggies and fruit at the store, sometimes items will be half the price.

We hurried home to have lunch because a friend who we hadn't seen for many years was coming this afternoon to visit. It was so nice to visit with her and catch up. She works just a few miles from our house and yet we don't get together, usually our only contact is Christmas cards. Why do we let ourselves get so busy that we don't make time for friends? I need to make more of an effort in that area of our lives.

After she left a man came to give us an estimate on putting new windows in our house. Our house is old and the windows make it very drafty and not energy efficient. We will probably need to put in just a few at a time so we needed to have the estimate broken down further so see what we can afford. For sure we need a new sliding door. The one we have was so leaky that the curtains would blow on a windy day. A couple of years ago we caulked it shut but it still lets a lot of heat out in the winter and air conditioned air in the summer. The bathroom window also needs to be one of the first to be replaced because you can be sitting on the toilet and feel a little breeze. He did tell us that if we put in windows with special glass that perhaps we can get some kind of a rebate. We have to call our tax preparer to see what he has to say and hope it is good news, like half the price of the windows.

It was quite warm here today but not as hot as it has been lately. None the less, Dad went out to the barn and found Dancer's goat, Eeyore, laying unresponsive in the barn. Dancer had brought him out apple peels after lunch and he was fine so he couldn't have been like that too long. Dad ran out of the barn with him and into the shade. The cooler air brought him around a bit and with help he was able to stand. He was foaming at the mouth and panting through his nose. We misted him with the hose as we were afraid that if we blasted him with cold water he would go into shock. Within a few minutes he stopped panting and was standing on his own. We kept misting him and he started walking around in circles, didn't respond to his name and didn't seem like he could see. We got the mineral block and picked some of the mineral off and put it in his mouth. A few more minutes, some more misting and he really started coming around. We brought out one of his other goat friends, all the others were perfectly fine, and put the two of them in the chicken house we put baby chicks in. Pretty soon he was back to normal. I was so glad, Dancer is so attached to him and if anything would have happened my heart would have just broke for her. I am sure the tears would have flowed for days. She really loves that little guy and kept kissing his head to make him feel better. A couple of weeks ago, when it was really hot out, Dancer had him out laying in the sun with her and he was drooling and really hot. That time we hosed him down and he was fine in less than a minute although we caught him as soon as he looked too hot. Now we will have to keep a very close eye on him since it is obvious he is sensitive to the heat.

We cleaned nine rabbits tonight. Spark still had his bunnies for sale sign out and was hoping to sell them but he hasn't sold any for a few weeks. One rabbit has some little ones that can leave their mother so he will keep the sign out and he has another rabbit with nine babies that would be ready to sell in about two weeks.

We got in the house at 7:00 and still needed to think of and make a dinner. Dancer checked the messages on the phone. I had a message that a meeting at church was cancelled tonight. Thankfully it was because I had forgotten all about it after the excitement of Eeyore needing our immediate attention. The chairperson had the same kind of day we did and so she cancelled as there wasn't much on the agenda and the other member couldn't make the meeting. Seems God worked our schedules out for us to be harried on the same day.

Finally, dinner is cleaned up, chores are done, we relaxed with the kids a few minutes, Spark and I got further into the book we are reading and the kids are tucked into bed. Whew! Every day this week has been like this. Tomorrow, however, a much quieter day is planned.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Moon walk

Today, as every day since Friday, we have been bombarded with Michael Jackson news. While flipping through the channels there was a news tidbit about him creating the moon walk. Spark shows us his butt, he has no modesty yet, walks across the room and says "look at my moon walk". I tell ya, it's things like that that make a mother proud, not.

She pulled in another one!

Dancer caught another bass tonight. It was 13 1/4 inches long, just like the one she caught Sunday night. She said now her goal is catch one bigger than 13 1/4 inches.
Look at that row of sharp teeth.

The Dad had a turtle that was hot after his line. He tried to cast where it wasn't but it would just follow his line around the fishing area. He caught it once and let it go. Then he caught it again and the hook was way down in it's throat. Using a pliers type thing he got the hook out. The turtle looked at him, turned around and calmly walked back into the lake. We saw him poke his head up one more time and then he must have learned his lesson because he left Dad's line alone for the rest of the night.