Thursday, June 21, 2018

::fishing, dead van, work salads, mama duck, face time, sushi date::

Auntie Rachel knows how to party.  We have a tradition of going fishing at their new house every Sunday night.  This is how she shows up to great us - beers and bug spray.  

We even had our matching fishing hats on.  

Poor Lisa bit the dust.  220K miles was a good long life.  She was a good old van and we had some good times together.  She decided to die why driving home from fishing on a quiet country road.  She was trucking along and her wheels locked up and that was it.  You can see how far she slid.  I swear I drive like an old woman, but it kinda looks like I Dukes of Hazard jumped something.  I am very thankful that we were alone and not on the highway.  The whole thing could have ended badly.    

Josh and I carpooled to work together for two days and it was actually kinda wonderful.  I hope we keep it up because it's like a date.  We looked at 15 different vans but found a perfect gently used one near us.  When I pulled in the dealership to see it, they had it set up like this.  They even stayed after closing to show it to us.  I loved the dealership we used and that is something I have never said about a dealership before.  The new van is named Merryweather and she is cute as can be.  

I've been on a weight loss journey.  I haven'e talked about it much on the blog because it felt really personal.  It is medically managed weight loss run by a Bariatric Center near me.  There is doctors appointments every two weeks, with group therapy, and meetings with dietary.  It's been lots of work and involved about four weeks of an almost only liquid diet.  It's really working.  I've lot 30 pounds.  I feel amazing.  And I'm proud that all the work is paying off.  I'm about to be the skinniest I have been in my adult life and I can't wait to celebrate, but not with a cake.  This picture is a cobb salad that I'be been making myself at work, beats the hell out of my old chips and chicken fingers.  I've learned so much about my food addiction and how I used it to calm and soothe myself.  I've learned that I can be hungry and not die.  It's been great growth and Josh has been so supportive.  

My female duck finally found a spot that she has set her nest and is sitting on her eggs.  She kept setting nest and abandoning them.  I have 6 of her abandoned eggs in my incubator right now.  Due to hatch next week if all goes well.  She decided to find a well protected spot at the end of our neighbors barn and set up shop.  Luckily he is a good sport and farms 1000+ acres and only has the barn next to us, he doesn't even live there.  I called him to secure squatting rights for her and he agreed.  She should have about two weeks or so till they hatch.  I have forbidden the kids to bother her.  I bugged her just enough to get a video of her protection hisses.    

You can't even see her if you stand back.  

Here I am face timing with the boys because they were fighting and I had to make them touch noses to declare their love for each other.  Summer is going so well.  Lily watches them for a few hours till the sitter shows up to take them swimming and exhaust them.  Yes, they are sitting on my island.  You just have to pick your battles when your boys are feral.  

Lily and I managed to sneak out together and spend some time alone.  I took her to my favorite sushi place.  She loves sushi, but gets to go so rarely.  I first fed her sushi at 14 months and she loved it from day one.  I loved getting to have some time just to two of us.  She's such an amazing kid.    

I was so in love with the clean simple newness of the house that I really held off on decorating.  I was broke after the renovation and out of ideas.  I just wanted to settle in and let it come to me.  I'm starting to feel the urge to add things again and bought this shelf for the kitchen today.  I used some of my favorite gifts to decorate it.  I have so much fun with this little cottage.  

One of the things that HAS to be fixed is this damn couch of mine.  It needs to go in the burn pile.  Till then these two buddies are watching the cubs games together.  

Sunday, June 17, 2018

::dirt pudding, fathers day, duck nest::

I love summer, but it's stupid hot here this last 48 hours.  I want to always live here in central Indiana.  Four true seasons every year makes me happy and feels right to me.  But the pits of hell days of summer are rough for my spirit.  I need sunlight and dirt under my nails to keep my mental equilibrium.  I know I should just wake up early and garden in the coolness of early morning, but sleep is the coolest.   

I made the terrible mistake of actually looking under my couch.  Bad move on that for sure.  At least I know where all the socks have gone. 

I did manage to talk Josh into going on a duck finding expedition.  Our female duck has been hardly seen for the last 7+ days and I had a feeling she had found a perfect nest somewhere.  Unfortunately she decided to make it happen in the tall grass by my farmer neighbors barn.  He doesn't live there, it's just a big barn for farm equipment.  I text him right away and let him know she was there and that I would move her if he wanted me to, but I was hoping she could just hatch out her next there.  He didn't respond so I will take that as a thumbs up.  

She was up for water one evening and I got a quick picture of her nest.  She has NINE eggs that I could see!!!  I also have 7 eggs in my incubator that are due to hatch at the end of the month!  I know I shouldn't count my eggs before they hatch, but seriously... Even if half hatch that is WAY too many ducks.  I might be giving some away.  

We had a little celebration and I decided to make my very first dirt pudding.  It couldn't be any easier and it was a super fun thing to take to a pitch in.  It was a swimming party and my kids swam for about 7 hours with almost no breaks.  They are the biggest water babies in the world.  

Today is Fathers Day and we drove to Josh's work with all the kids to take him to lunch.  We went to Mexican and Quinn ate enough chips and dip for six people.  It was wonderful to have some time with our Emma who was home from an intership.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

::small chicken tractor::

2018 chicks 

I've had chickens off and on since 2010.  Here is my very first post about our very first babies.  I can't believe it has been 8 years since I got my first chickens.  I've learned so much since them.  In all fairness I still have no idea what I'm doing.  I've read a lot and I investigate information I find, but still I wonder if I'm doing anything right.   

Here are a few things I have learned.  Bad layers and good layers eat the same amount of food and take the same amount of time.  So why not just keep the good layers?  Keeping something over the winter when you know it isn't laying anymore does not make it start laying in the spring.  With that said - sometimes you just fall in love with a hen that has a great personality and you don't have to justify why she gets to live out her life with you when others do not.  

One of the big things I have learned is that chickens are happier when they get plenty of fresh grass and sunshine.  They don't like being indoors only.  They want to live in a fairly natural way.  Bugs, grass, sun, rain, fresh water.  They need a place to perch and a place to lay.  Every bit of wildlife in the world wants to eat them.  We've lost ducks and chickens to dogs, foxes, hawks, raccoons, even my wonderful Great Pyrenees killed a few when he was a puppy by running up to them and smacking them with his paw trying to get them to play with him.  

Taking all I have learned in to account, I know that the concept of a chicken tractor is the best way to house chickens for 9 months of the year.  We live in gardening zone 5.  We have hot summers and very cold winters.  Central Indiana has lots of different kinds of weather.  From late November to early March I feel like most livestock needs to come into some kind of barn structure when they want to.  We need heated water buckets and having lights helps for the ease of the care givers.  Most animals, like my Babydoll Southdown Sheep, can take the cold just fine.  But as the person that had to water in the dead of winter, I need some kind of structure to help me be able to help them.   

Last year while we were in a state of moving and renovating our cottage, I was having a homestead withdrawal problem.  It was so sad and disconnecting for me to have no farm animals with me.  Josh gave in and let me buy some new poultry and hatch some ducks.  He quickly and cheaply took supplies from around our new farm and built me a chicken tractor that I have made a video about below.  Of all the different ways we have kept chickens over the years I have grown to love this chicken tractor the best.  It's light and I can move it myself.  It has kept the girls safe from overly loving dogs (Gus was so sorry!) and predators.  The eggs are easy to find and utilize.  The girls have plenty of shade from heat and good cover from rain.  My layers  are the happiest my girls have ever been and still been safe.

Disclaimer - I have two adult ducks right now.  A lovely breeding pair.  I do let them free range.  They seem hardy enough to escape from wildlife.  We don't have much wildlife pressure now days, but that can change.  I am working on ideas on how to keep the ducks safer.   


Sunday, June 10, 2018

::spring outdoor: plantings, decks, and fun::

I'm not getting my big garden this year.  Too many other projects.  DEEP SIGH...  Major sad face.  But, I am squeezing in plants everywhere I can think of.  This also gives me time to keep planning and dreaming exactly what I want.  What are these big projects, and smaller projects, killing my garden?

A HUGE deck.   That is going to be amazing.  Hot tub area with cover, dinning table with chairs, area for a grill, firepit relaxing area.  It's going to be a centerpiece of the place.  

A great hose storage area on the side of the house.  With custom hose hook made by Josh.  We added a storage basket for tools and equipment.

A bird house that my father made with a license plate from my parents minivan in the 80's that says "Eye Van".

Against my greenhouse I have an area that is going to be a cold frame someday, but this year it is a tomato bed.  I was just about in tears thinking about not growing tomatoes again this year (last year was all renovations and no garden).  I just can't live with out a tomato fresh off the vine and still warm from the sun.  So seven little babies are out there growing up strong. 

We bought a bunch of saplings from Arbor Day Society and the kids and I planted them all.  I love how much open sun we have on this farm, but we need to bring more trees into this world.  I'm so glad to have added these trees.  Especially the six peach trees.  I can't wait to see these babies grow.


Right now I have two little side beds that are growing zinnia's (one of my favorites) and wildflowers to encourage butterflies and hummingbirds.  Both of which I have not seen once since we moved here.  This place was so stripped down and unloved with plants and flowers.  Wildlife had no reason to be here, but I'm going to give them a reason.

We planted pasture grass on our back few acres.  It look HUGE but most of this in the farmers field.  Our total property in 5 acres.  See the little hill with a white target on it?  Josh used the tractor to make a shooting backstop.

While I was planted the pastures I wanted the kids to get out and get some activity.  I offered them 25 cents per rock that was bigger than a baseball.  They got excited and ended up bringing me over 250!!!!  It was amazing and so cute to see them use teamwork to gather all those rocks, but I about had to sell a kidney to pay them.  

I have BIG plans for the front landscaping of our little cottage.  Budget is always a limiting factor.  For right now I used field rocks to make a little bed, added some compost and acidic fertilizer, and planted two stunning blue hydrangeas.  They are coming in lovely and someday they will be a real show stopper.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

::life in the summer::

The kids have a very few hours a week that they are home alone.  Quinn likes to spend his time Face-Timing me on my way to work and showing me his awesome new tank top.  Or he watching fishing shows.  It's seriously just a short amount of time but the entire thing cracks me up.  

We got to go on a grownups only day with Josh's brother Jake and his wife Rachel.  Man, do I love those two people.  

Since they are joining us in country life they needed help picking out a tractor, chainsaw, and trimmer.  We ate lunch at the legendary Lemon Drop.  It is the classic dinner in Anderson that was totally packed and could not be any cuter than it is.  

We had fun playing with our two baby ducklings.  They are just adorable and Quinn could not stop hugging them.  Yes, I let him wade in the duck water.  I'd like to see anyone be able to stop him.  He is serious about water.  

Lily and Max were gone most of this week visiting my sister.  It made my heartache.  I couldn't breath with out them.  When they came home I was going to video them coming home but I couldn't stop crying and had to go hug them.  Look at their adorable little faces.  

Target shooting at duck, no chickens where harmed.  Angle makes them look close but they were not.  

I'm so in love with this summer.  I've given up social media for the summer.  I miss seeing updated on my friends and family, but I'm glad for the break.  I'm not making many new ear designs for my shop right now, I'm having too much fun outside.   I'll come back to ears again once the weather sucks, but how can I sew when the soil needs me to dig in it.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

::spring outdoor: dry creek::

With our first real spring in our new farm we are learning all its little quirks.  We moved in here in August and just loving this getting to know you year.  One ting we learned when the spring rains started is that the downspout on the side of our house drained a huge amount of water and that the lay of the yard made it all pool right around the house.  We decided to make a dry creek bed to drain the water away from the house.  Our fields and neighboring fields are filled with wonderful rocks and boulders that we got permission from the surrounding farmer to use.  He was actually thrilled that I was going to get them out of his field.  

Project started on a warmish March day.  Which in Indiana means, not snowing.  

We used the tractor and lots of shovel work to dig out a trench that would allow the water to drain away from the house and go down our driveway.  

Then we lined it with pond liner.

Big boulders went in first and then filled between them with medium rock.  

After that the rest of the pond liner was covered with a layer of small river rocks.  I did have to buy 5 bags of these since rocks this small are not naturally available.  

A few weeks latter I bought some sweet little inexpensive annual flowers to help add some color to my world. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

::Lily sings in a talent show::

This adorable kid entered into her first real talent show recently.  

I have got to get her a case for her ukulele because her modification on the guitars case is making her dad and uncles laugh.   

 Watching the show and tuning the ukulele.  

Quinn and my nephew Caleb made sure that all the bouncy houses got plenty of use.  

She ended up third in her age group.  Of course, she should have won, but I might just be a little biased.  


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