Friday, February 28, 2020

Suprise chick

Well, this took an unexpected turn. Remember the clutch of eggs found in the shed? 

The eggs are in the basement and have been puttering along at well under my normal incubation temperatures. They were candled a couple of days ago and none looked even remotely close to hatching. I went down tonight after dinner to start laundry, take the egg turner out and lay the eggs on their sides... figuring they'd hatch Sunday or Monday.  And found this little cutie pie. All fluffy and peeping.

Not gonna lie.. I yelped. Very loudly. Might have been a shriek. We are scheduled to be out of town for the weekend so immediately called up my dad asking for a *big* favor. Could he set up his brooder? Like, tonight? Ah, fate. Well, any chicks hatched by tomorrow a.m.*  will be driven across town for a little vacation and the rest will be fine until we get back.  Life works this way sometimes I suppose.

* Edit to add that I just candled the eggs and there are 4 or 5 more that have pipped internally; I can see little beaks. The lone fluffy chick is peeping constantly which triggers the other eggs to hatch. We'll see what the morning brings us...

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Boiling the sap

After a wonderful,  much appreciated, brunch with friends we came home and fired up the sap. There were about 35+ gallons sitting outside so it was time. It's going well. I made the fire lower to the ground this year. It's a smaller, hotter fire and uses up all the brush that's fallen over the winter. Plus I'm not hearing the air, just the canners. So far I've spilled 4 gallons and set fire to the yard while wearing a Smokey Bear shirt. If that's the worst that happens we are calling it a win.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Geese laying, incubation, sap and a book

The geese started laying this week. This is the third year in a row they've started laying the week after Valentine's Day. Apparently love is in the air.  They've made a nest inside the chicken coop again, which is never going to work out so I'll try to convince them to set up shop elsewhere. 

After I found the nest of eggs in the shed I decided to plug in the incubator downstairs in the basement instead of in the kitchen like usual because now that we have a microwave there is no room. Could not get it up to temperature. From what I could tell the problem could be a couple of things and to try to fix it would not have been cheap to figure it out.  So the husband kindly suggested we order a new one.

I can't get this one above 100 either which leaves me to think... that the problem is simply the cold basement  *slaps hand against forehead * But 100 degrees is better than nothing and 9 eggs look nicely developed. We don't need any more chickens. If they hatch I'll probably just find someone to give them to. Incubating is fun.

We have close to 40 gallons of sap sitting in tubs outside, with a couple of nice warm days ahead of us promising more. Using the big rubbermaid tubs is so much nicer than scrambling for containers every day.

This is what the porch looked like last year.

Our book club met on Monday. It was the first time I've been in months and had a great time. However Sunday night was fun as I figured out that I was reading the wrong book. Haha, oops. I was reading The Yellow House a story of a woman growing up in Ireland circa 1910. Everyone else was reading The Yellow House a new bestselling memoir of a woman living in New Orleans.  We all had a good laugh about it. Especially because I'm really enjoying "the wrong book" and none of them like the "right one".

I got a cheap copy off of ebay to finish so this one can get back to the library. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


I joined Postcrossing last week because I love sending things to people through the mail and also it would be nice to recieve something in our mailbox besides junk mail and bills.  Postcrossing is a postcard exchange program for people all over the world and works like so:

Not like this as my sister suggested:

You get to make a profile of things about yourself and what kind of cards you'd like to recieve. Most people are interested in seeing and hearing about what life is like in another part of the world. So far I've mailed 6 postcards out. One of the ones that went to Germany has been logged into the Postcrossing system so now I'll be in line to get a card from someone. It's proving to be a very cheap fun thing to do. The hardest part was finding a store that still sold local postcards. The News Depot had a tiny rack of cards, 5 for $1, none of Greenville but of places close enough. Here are the cards sent:

The covered bridge went to Russia and the spillway card to Texas.

The vintage kittens to Finland, another covered bridge card off to the Netherlands and an art card to Germany.

 Today I made and  sent this one to a woman in Germany who likes handmade cards and is a stamp collector.

It's fun to read the other person's profile, pick out a card and then use the tiny space available to talk about your life and shared interests.

The only person who ever has access to your address is the one who randomly got your name emailed to them by the Postcrossing system.  Considering no one has any privacy left in this day and age Postcrossing seems much less invasive than Google driving around photographing everyone's homes. Or the fact that you can know anything about anyone now with no effort. That being said if you don't hear from me I've probably run off with a rich Nigerian prince.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Late Valentine's dinner

Purchased this afternoon and dispached before cooking. We went shopping to several stores as a family. The inlaws now have the kiddos for a couple of hours.

Two lobsters and sides. Less than $40 total. Took about 20 minutes to cook. I was equally excited about the lobster and the Kraft mac n cheese. Husband had a more refined, adult, baked potato for a side.


This has been our go-to special dinner for years now. I'm grateful for my husband and our life together.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Decorated porch, thrift store find, hidden nest & a freeze

It was embarrassing the other day when my friend dropped off the egg basket and wooden chicken. Our front porch still had a bunch of dead Christmas greenery laying all over.  I mean, he's a guy and probably didn't even notice but it looked awful. So yesterday I got out a garbage bag, cleaned it up and decorated the porch.  The wreath was made from an old dictionary and a cardboard pizza box.  Which is probably why it doesn't look anywhere as nice as the Pinterest photo.

I was going for "country fun"  but it turned out looking more "Amish yard sale"

I love this old egg box.

Yesterday we spent some time playing outside; just long enough for the oldest to fall out of a tree.  Actually, he more slid down the trunk on his face.  He bit his lip, scuffed his chin and there was blood everywhere.  It was awful.  Bee spent the evening watching over him.

I found this signed and numbered print at the thrift store for $5.  It's titled "Beasts of the Holy Land".  Taking the backing off the frame revealed a business card stating it was made by a company in N.Y. that boasts "Renaissance forgeries printed by hand".  I LOVE it.  We'll re-frame it 

The little white and black speckled Easter Egger hen bursts out of the coop every morning and takes off towards the shed.  Today I followed her and found this pile of eggs behind some old lumber.  She isn't sitting on them, just laying them there so I took them up and have plugged in the incubator.  She's really beautiful and the eggs should be fertile so we'll see in a week or so if any will develop of if they've been out in the cold too long.  None appear to have frozen and cracked, so here's hoping for luck.

We had freezing rain last night.  

I thought this branch was really pretty.

More pines.

Everything looks amazing but limbs are falling everywhere.  Scraping off the car this morning I heard a crack like thunder and looked up to see part of a tree come down in the neighbor's woods.  Leaving the driveway we heard another big boom and found two massive limbs had fallen off of one of our huge pines.  We also lost part of the lilac tree and can hear branches falling out back. 

So we're staying inside to avoid being killed by falling limbs.  May go to the library after dinner, we'll see.  Hopefully not fall asleep at 8:00 watching Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood like I did last night.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Big rural update: Trees tapped, groundhog cookies, seeds, citrus and so on

It's been a full week.  I've been wanting to post many times but every night am either just exhausted or end up falling asleep with the littlest one at 9:30.  We've been busy and also had some family news that is worrying but not something I really want to look straight on just yet.  So, here is what's been going on this week.

The oldest and I tapped 3 trees for sap.  I drilled the holes at preschooler level and he hammered the spiles in.  He did hit himself in the head with the mallet the first time but it went smoothly after that. 

Cleaning out the drilled holes with a twig.

And drawing pictures on the jugs for good luck.  We've pulled about 10 gallons of sap so far from 6 taps..  I gave up scrambling for containers for it all and just washed out a huge Rubbermaid tote.  It's in the coldest spot in the yard; on the bare ground and up against the north side of the garage.  We will probably build a fire and try to condense some of the sap this weekend.  We won't finish it into syrup but it will make space for another week of sap to be collected. 

What a crappy picture.  The kids and I made gingersnaps to celebrate Groundhog's Day.  We actually went to Punxsutawney one year long ago to join in the festivities; my husband, my sister, her husband and some friends.  It was a blast.  When we went the whole finale happened when the groundhog, who had arrived at Gobbler's Knob in a Cadillac with an entourage of suited handlers, popped out of a stump at daybreak to announce "Sorry, more winter!"  Then we all went to drink a special edition Groundhog Brew beer at 9 am and eat pancakes at the firehouse.  This year he announced an early Spring.  Which isn't shocking as we have not had any real winter here this year.  But it was really fun to go and I'd like to go again.  For anyone who is interested; Punxsutawney Phil is not a single groundhog.  The role is played by a whole family of groundhogs who live in a wonderful enclosure at the little town library.  

My in-laws have spent the last month visiting friends and family in the South and like any good Northerners they brought lots of citrus fruit back with them.  We were given about 10 lbs.  There is almost a gallon of orange and grapefruit juice in the freezer, plus fresh eating.  When I was little we used to go see my great-grandmother in Alabama each winter and would bring back things to share too; boiled peanuts and pomegranates.

The oldest has been into origami and making paper airplanes, none of which we are allowed to throw out (while he's awake anyway).  We've used about a forest of paper in the last week.

This weekend my sister brought her kids for a visit and we took them all to a Fun Center nearby.  The kids loved it.  

I finally went nuclear on the rats out in the poultry yard.  It stinks to go that way but we really had no choice.  I've shoveled all of the runs flat and hope that there won't be any new holes tomorrow morning.  It's mud season here.  The yard is green and the chickens and geese get to free range around the property during the day.  This is just the area directly around the coop but it's gross.

I made myself a bracelet this week which I've been wearing as a mediation aid at night and when I wake up in the middle of the night.  I either count my blessings with each bead or use it verbalize goals of patience and kindness.  Some women in my book club are talking about going on a retreat to a convent this summer and I am going to lobby hard to join them. Two days of silence, meditation, yoga and inward focus would do me good.  

A friend who I haven't seen in a few years saw this at an auction and thought of me.  I was so pleased to get this gift.  He and I used to go to auctions a bunch when we worked together and we still meet once a year to catch up at the big local Amish benefit.  We used to work together at a long term nursing facility and in spite of the age difference bonded over the stress of the job and a mutual interest in backyard  farming.

The kids and I moved the rhubarb plants and the seed order came today.  It's small but will round out what what we already have.  We loved alpine strawberries when we had them and are looking forward to trying them again.  I need to figure out how to get excited about the poultry and garden again.  Last year was a real shit show what with the deer mowing everything flat three times in a row and a coyote and fox killing over 30 birds.  We still need to order turkeys and quail eggs for hatching.

Well, that's it.  Sorry for the crappy photos and poor spelling.  It's bedtime soon for everyone.  Maybe this week I'll finally take the Christmas decorations off the front porch.  Maybe not.