Sunday, December 30, 2012

And So This is Christmas, And What Have You Done?... 2!

Another year over, a new one just begun.

Or so it is about to.

I really enjoyed looking back earlier this year at what I had done last year, so I thought I would do it again.  I haven't seen too many people's posts about looking back, but I think it's important to do it, to get a feel for what was accomplished, so we can keep moving forward.  So, let's jump into our time machine and take a trip to the way back!


After yet another dog attack, I bought a gun.  A pellet gun.  Yeah, I know, doesn't count really.  But I now have a way to defend the defenseless.  I probably should practice more, though.

I got worms.  You know, the red wiggly kind.  Composters.  They didn't last, though.  The inside thing did not work for them and they pretty much died off.  I put the remaining few outside in the rabbit poo pile.  I know those guys were happier, so that's the key.  I am rethinking how to do the whole worm thing, but I think it's going to wait until the greenhouse is built.

I made the first batch of soap.  And I love it. 

The chicken girls all got saddled up.  They looked so glamorous!!!


Tree tapping began!  I really enjoyed this, with the exception of how much fuel it cost to make the syrup, and the failure of the fire method.  That was disappointing.  I really like the harvest and the process, though, and the result was wonderful.  We didn't make nearly enough last year, so this year I bought more spiles (from EBay--awesome), and we've been saving empty milk gallons like mad for months.  We have another way to boil the sap down, so that may help a bit.  Stay tuned for this, as it's a project that will be expanded this year. 

I refined my seed system, and yes, it worked.  I'll be using it again this year.

I built a chicken shaped mailbox, which the garbagemen hit last week.  Stupid garbagemen.  She's to be repaired when the weather warms up.  She's still awesome, though.

Ferdi went to his new home and peace has reigned in the gaggle since then.


I went and met my goatie-girls for the first time, and fell head over heels in love.  They were not to come home until April, but that was it for me.  Love at first sight.

We hatched a "trial chick" in the kitchen, in preparation for the classroom chicks experiment to follow.

Our very first batch of meatbirds arrived.

The chick hatching project for the kids in my daughter's 4th grade class started.  It went very well, and I think I inspired a whole bunch of kids to own chickens.  (Sorry moms and dads.)  The chicks hatched later in the month.  Yes, they still live here.  The kids always ask, and yes, the chickens are all fine and live here quite happily.

Ginger sat on some eggs.  Again.


I did my favorite thing, and built something.  A box.  On stilts.  For meatbirds.  Which is blue.  I LOVE building.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Ellie finally gave birth!  And on the same day, the goat girls came home!  And Ginger's babies hatched!  And there were ducks!  Oh, we were hopping, alright.  I love spring.

Dulcinea came home and joined Lilly and Minerva.  She's my sweet little potato-pie.  She's so little in these pictures, I had forgotten how small she was!  She had such a rough transition to living here, but she's doing well now, obviously.  They are resilient, those goaty-girls.

Maybelle turned out to be a terrible mama, unlike Ginger, who is a fantastic one. 


We said goodbye to the meatbirds, and hello to dinners instead. 

We said goodbye to Peter, who was just too mean to stay here.  It was still hard to do, even though it needed to be done.  Unfortunately, he had to go, as he kept attacking everyone. 

We built a goat house, which is a beautiful building. 

Dulcinea got extremely sick and had to go to the vet and get fluids and other horrible things done to her.  She cost us a bundle, but I know she's my girl (well, one of) and I love her too much to let her suffer.  Dang goats.

The kittehs got very big and stripey. 

The garden, which is extremely important even though I never mention it, got planted.  I then cheered it on so it would grow.


Thor learned to use the computer, and became an indoor cat instead of the outdoor cat he was supposed to be. No one is upset about this, least of all, Thor.  He's a mushy potatoman.  We LOVE him. 

The turkeys were here, and they were funny.  At that time.  They got less funny as they got older.

I got a good hang of the whole soap making thing.  Yes, I do like to do it. 

The duck house was replaced, as the old one was completely falling down.  I do love to build.  :P

The garden was exploding!


The goat house got some paint and snazziness.  It's bee-yootiful!

I took a look back at what we've done in the two years since we got here, as it was our two-year anniversary.

The second batch of meatbirds was getting ready to be "harvested".  I know, it's a terrible way to say it, but truth is truth.  I was much happier with this batch, as they were far more active than the last.  I know where to get my meatbirds from now on.

The food in the garden started to be harvested.  That was exciting!

Too many dang ducks!!


More soap.  Lots of soap.  And plenty of canning to boot.

Ducks in diapers in the house.  Thor was not a happy camper.

Tomatoes everywhere, and I discovered the magic number of plants for tomato happiness.  And the potatoes were harvested, and it was pretty good--much better than last year's for DARN sure.

Bunnies arrived.  The really wooly kind.  It began with Ygraine and PJB--Phillip Johnny Bob (and I got a kick out of that picture of him on that post, let me tell you.  Is there anyone sexier than that bunny?  I think not).  And of course, Bella, who is now my friend after much hard work.  I wasn't really ready for fiber animals, but was it a good decision to bring them on?  Yes, it really was.  They are wonderful and I just love them (and their wool). 


Garden.  Kaboom!!!  Oh, it felt good.  Very, very good.

We did the Harvest Festival in town.


I gotted a boo-boo

We finished up the third and final batch of meat birds for the year.  We've gotten much faster, which is good, but I did feel very bad about this batch.  I did actually really like them.  They were a fat and spirited bunch. 

I did not feel as bad about having the turkeys dispatched, as they were really annoying.  The part I felt bad about?  Not being able to process them myself.  It felt like such a cop out, having someone else do it, even though I wasn't equipped for it at all.  Isn't that odd?  I have to say though, I felt like I owed it to them.  I raised them, I should have been the one there at the end.  It's funny how perspectives change so much.

I lost my Ygraine and cried and cried.  Harder than I would have thought.  But I did go to the Fiber Festival and bring home Daphne, Buckley, and Camille.  And I love them dearly as well.  The circle of life is hard.

The goatie girls were CAE tested and the results came back bad.  Resulting in a new plan being made.  I will share it, I promise.  No matter what, though, they are my girls.  I love them so!

We had a hurricane-like thing come through.  Very messy.


Lots of much needed crafting and soaping.  Unfortunately the craft fair it was all for did not go well.  But the work was therapeutic.  If you are wondering what happened to all the leftover stuff, the soaps have mostly sold, and the ornaments were donated to the school to be sold to the staff so the money could be used to buy presents for children in need.  I honestly didn't see the need to keep them, and felt that they would be better given so that they could help someone else.

I had a birthday, my daughter had a birthday, and Bella did an amazing thing.  Possibly the most amazing thing of all about it?  She seemed to trust me enough to touch her babies.  And she still does.  Not bad for a bunny rescued from the trash.

Mini spring in November.  Freaking ducks.  We are beseiged.


I painted the kitchen.  I still love it.  I can't wait until part 2. 

Dulci went to meet Zeus.  She was bred, hopefully successfully.  I will know this week, I believe.  Cross your fingers that she doesn't go back into heat.  I don't think my back can take it!

We had a lovely Christmas, Daphne continues to work on her nest for whatever reason, and now we have Sara.  I still owe you that story, so the short of it is, I went to Agway to buy a cage for Bella's little buns, as they are big and driving her crazy.  They now spend the day in their own cage, and the night in hers, and she is much happier because of it.  Saw Sara (she wasn't named Sara then), who I tried to ignore.  Sara wouldn't let me ignore her.  Sara is pretty, and was sweet, and our little Milo was MIA for a week and a half, leaving Ellie outside to catch mice by herself.  I'm not a fan of lonely animals, as I believe everyone needs a companion.  I thought Milo wouldn't come back after all that time, so Sara came home to be a new mouser.  After she got here, and I had time to look her over better, I noticed her belly bulge.  Which seems to have lumpies in it.  Since Sara was given up by her former owners to Agway, I am assuming now that it was because she's preggers.  More mouse catchers for us. 

Sara is in so we can keep an eye on her and teach her to use the cat door, she drives Thor CRAZY, and in the midst of it all, Milo came back.  Yeay!  Good deal all around.  It certainly is abundant here.

Things Not Written

I canned a lot and put a lot of food by.

I sewed a little.

I did not play the fiddle at all.  That's a shame, and I'm sorry for it.  But it never happened.

I worked like crazy this year.  Hours and hours of hard work.  And I loved all of it.

I enjoyed the hell out of the beautiful weather this year, though not so much the heat in the hottest part of summer. 

Dave has been missing for months, and though we've never found him (so to speak), I believe he's gone to some big animal or other.  We miss him.  When Milo went off, we thought it would be the same thing.  We were very relieved when Milo turned up again at our door! 

Copernicus was attacked by something horrible and lost an eye.  He's no longer head roo here at Chicken Scratch, which is unfortunate, because he's an awesome boy.   I have also recently lost 3 other chickens to the cold.  It's been a tough winter, and it's only just started.  The remaining chickens still are not laying eggs, and it's just depressing.

Most Importantly...

I lived, I loved and I laughed.

I cried, I cursed and I learned.

I figured out that there's no one "right" way to live a life, and that the way I'm living mine is just fine.  In fact, I'm thankful for it, and that I wake each day with purpose and now that I've seen this list, I feel awesome about all that I've accomplished and I am so excited to do more.  I am looking forward to this next year to see what it will bring. 

Isn't that really what this ride is all about anyway?  Here's hoping you all enjoy your lives as much.  The ride is all that matters.  You only go around once.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Playing Catch Up

Hello, my friends, hello!

Long time, no talk.  I certainly hope you had lovely holidays and are enjoying whatever winter weather you may be getting.  Today, we are getting snow, snow, snow.  It's quite lovely and fluffy.  This snow is going on top of the last snow, which was heavy and wet.  Of course that makes for some interesting walking and driving issues, but it sure is pretty.

We have had such a busy week, I'd love to catch you all up.  I hope you don't mind.

  • I will say, without a doubt, that the time before Christmas is my favorite.  It's better than Christmas.  I love the anticipation and the excitement my kids feel.  Christmas Eve is the best. In my family, we have a big meal over at our house, and we sit and talk and laugh a lot. 
This year, my dad brought his banjo mandolin (hee hee, pop), and played for us.
I videoed it, but in the interest of family peace, I will not show it.  Instead I will hold it as blackmail.  Leverage is always good.

The concert was very nice, and the tree looked very pretty.
We also had a cannoli contest, which I could not enter as my cannoli cream was like soup.  Good soup, but soup nonetheless.  My brother won and made a speech that was full of humility and modesty.
Or not. 
 He got to take home a trophy with a "chef" that looked like Tutankhamen.  Lucky, lucky boy.  As for me, I don't ever want to see another cannoli again.
Luckily, dinner was much better than my cannolis.
  • Christmas Day started at 4 in the morning, with my daughter bouncing up and down on the bed asking if we could open presents in an hour.  The answer was no. 
When we finally did open presents, after the animals were all squared away and so on, they had a great time. 
Christmas at our house is small.  We don't buy a lot of toys for the kids, but instead buy them books and things like that.  It's all in my sad efforts to "round out" my kids and broaden them.  And yes, I know that all they really want is Legos.  I still try.
All bets are off when we go to "Mema and Papa's" house (my parents).  There the "Wall O' Presents" awaits.
Yep, the kids nearly explode.  But they have to wait until we've all eaten brunch and then the opening begins.  This year, Santa brought everyone a present--headlamps.
They are completely awesome.  Santa rocks.
After gift giving, we basically sit around and eat all day, and the kids play with their toys.  It's a good day.  A very good day.
  • I'd love to follow that up with something great, but after that, it's kind of a letdown.  The following day I was sick and slept the entire day away on the couch in an awkward position, which threw my back out again, and I'm currently trying to get it to heal because well, I need my back.  Go figure. 
I made this scarf for my mother for Christmas.  It's my favorite out of the three I made her.
I seem to get sick every year, right on the day after Christmas.  It's probably because of all the prep and running around and stuff.  Hopefully, now that I've gotten my yearly Christmas cold out of the way, I can move on. 
  • My kids have been watching Despicable Me pretty much every day this vacation.  I'm not sure why they decided to watch it, but now they can't seem to stop.  I will admit, the movie starts slow, but it gets pretty funny.  I have sat down a time or two with them to watch bits and pieces.  Funny, funny.
Me and my hubby.
  • When I was sick, and when my back was really out, my husband and kids took care of the animals for me.  What a nice break, though I could live without the sick/pain thing, I truly could. 
  • This is Percy, who really fits into this box, don't you know?  It may look too small, but it's really not.
  • Today I went down to a friend's farm to meet our soon-to-be new goat, Winter.  Winter is a year old Boer goat, and is a beauty.  She's not showable because her ears folded wrong when she was cooking in her mama, but she's not for showing here, so it doesn't matter. 
Thor is depressed.
She comes from a 4 quart a day milker line, and since we have an issue with two of our girls and CAE, she'll be needed to pick up the slack.  Yep, I have a whole plan, but I won't bore you with the details right now.  Let's just say that the short of it is that I need to refocus on productivity, since feed has become so costly.  That means another girl bred (which Winter will be) and ready to be milked come Spring.  They need to earn their keep more than just being my goaty girls (though that does give them a pass forever and ever).

This is why Thor is depressed.  Her name is Sara, and she's new.  She's also (we believe) pregnant.  Long story, but needless to say, she's not interested in Thor.  And he really, really thinks she should be.  I would tell you that story, but I think Thor will say it better.  I'll ask him to sit down one day and write it.

I had a great time today with my friend.  It's nice to be able to talk "shop" with someone who knows all about it.  I spent WAY too much time in her goat pen, just surrounded by the goats.  Heaven, I tell you.  Yes, I really am a goat person.
  • The little bunny-lings have reached 6 weeks and have been sexed three times now.   I feel by this point, they've developed enough that I can be sure, and I pronounce them girl, boy, boy.
Can you find three bunnies in this picture??

The girl, who's name is Violet, is slated to go live with my brother and his girlfriend in Albany.  The two boys, Timothy and Alexander, will remain here.  They are getting beautiful dark grey wool.  I'm very excited and I'm hoping it won't lighten too much, but that will depend on whether or not they take after mommy or daddy.  And they are friendly as all get-out.  I guess all that hard, horrible work socializing them is paying off.  I'm glad it was worth the sacrifice :).

Speaking of their daddy, Philip Johnny Bob is desperately in love with Daphne, and it's time they were acquainted.  Unfortunately, Daphne's built a nest and seems to think she's pregnant.  As it's been three weeks since it was built (and haired and all), I doubt it, but she doesn't really want PJB too close.  I think she's got her signals crossed.  The next clear day I have, I'm going to get those two a love connection and see what shakes out.

We are very, very mean to cats here.  None of us likes them at all.  Not. At. All.
  • And finally, I've been spending a bit of time in my sewing room/office.  Not only thinking and planning for next year (lots of that), but also, shockingly, sewing.  It's been nice, since I have nothing else I can do with the cold and snow and all.  It has been a very long time since I've sewn anything that wasn't needing to be fixed or for something utilitarian.  Hopefully, I will have some pics to show when the dust settles.

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays.  I can't wait to catch up with all of you, too!

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Merry, Happy Happy

I wish you all the merriest of Christmases!

Enjoy the time with your families.  Enjoy the beautiful day and the wonderful nights.

See you on the flip side!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Never Leave Kids with the Pastry Bag

So it goes like this.

I bake the gingerbread cookies, and then it's time to ice them.  So I enlist the helpers, who are more than thrilled to decorate them for me.  So I whip up the royal icing, fill two pastry bags, one for each kid, and go outside to put the animals in. When I come back, I get to see what they've made.

My instructions were "Do something simple, and don't go too crazy".  Then I did two example ones.

But then I left, see.  So they did their own thing.

When I came back, I was told my way was "boring", so they made:

A Santa

Then they gave one a shirt. 
Then they decided to give another one overalls (but they look like leiderhosen to me)
They tried pants
Then there was the inevitable unfortunate who broke three limbs. 
Then that got boring, so they made a robot 
And a cyclops.  Actually, there are quite a few of these, and I am told that my husband (the biggest child) egged them on to do it. 
I have no doubt. 
And, of course, don't forget, "Underwear Guy". 
There was one also called "Buttcheek Guy", where my daughter flipped over the cookie and drew two circles on the back for his butt.  However, I threatened to give that one to her teacher, so she ate him.
....I probably shouldn't have told you that.
So we have a band of merry misfits for cookies this year, which is completely fabulous.  Can't beat kids with imagination.  Even if it is posterior-related.  And what is this time of year but for the children?  So mission accomplished and cookies decorated.  I know I will enjoy each and every one. 
Even if I can't give any to their teachers.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From the Goat Girls

The Goat Girls say...

"Merry Christmas!"

"Lilly!  Get outta my ear!  I wanna say it!"

"Merry Christmas!"

"Did you peoples hear me??"

"How about me?  Did you hear me??" you want to say anything?
"Bah!  Humbug!"

"See me again?  Merry Christmas, Peoples!"

"And peace on Earth, goaty treats to all."

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekend Update


My heart broke.  The world's gone mad, and children are being murdered.  Not for the first time.

Deep, deep sadness and shock and fear.  I have school aged children, too.

My heart goes out to all those families.  There are no words.


Dulci had a date with "destiny".  She went into full-blown heat, and no matter how I feel on the inside, the world keeps turning and we have to keep on going and assuming there's still a tomorrow.  Therefore, out she went to my friend's farm to meet her lover, Zeus.  She is tiny, he is huge.  She decided when we got there that she would really rather be with Bill, who is a wethered Saanan buck, and she flirted and peed for him and the whole nine.  However, as he couldn't oblige, she went to Zeus.

She liked the sniffing and licking and blubbering and sneezing bit (very sexy), but she did NOT like when he climbed on up.  In fact, she went right down.  After two attempts and one VERY frustrated Zeus, we got her over a hay bail, and into a nice position, and it seemed like he did what he needed to do.  She is small, though, so it wasn't easy.  And she ran around a lot.  Needless to say, I got hurt and threw out my back, and I never realized that mating would be so participatory on my end.  I was right in the middle of the action, so to speak. 

It's one for the books.  Now I will watch and see if we accomplished anything.  If she goes back into heat, then I know we'll have to try again.  And I'll wear a back brace.  Live and learn.


Dulci, who came back smelling like rutting buck on Saturday, threw Minerva into raging heat, and Minerva is in a bad mood.  Can't blame her, poor girl.  I wish there was something I could do for her, but it's not to be right now. 

Daphne has built a nest to end all nests, torn out miles of hair, and made a general disaster in her cage, but still no babies.  She's at 35 days today, and I'm thinking she got her signals crossed somewhere.

Decided to create a little, just to give me something else to think about.  I made placecard holders for Christmas Eve dinner, which I haven't gotten a good pic of yet.  I started the Christmas cookie-a-thon, and I did a little chalkboard art.

This, my friends, is a pain in the ass to do.

It came out cute, though, so I'm happy.  Free crafts are nice when they work out.

Today I will sub in my children's school, after taking many, many pills to sort out my back.  And I'll be grateful when I bring them back home.

Have a great day.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dirty Jobs

Bunny Socializing

Hardest.  Job.  EVER.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh, Bad Laydee!

Deer Bad Laydee,

'Smee, Tor.

I am VEREE not happee wif yoo.  Wut is going on heer?  Wy, o wy do yoo brings thees thingses intoo my howse?

Yoo noe wut I'm talking about.  Theses:

Wut the heck, bad laydee??

Wut is those?

I fink it's an aleeun.  'S hed is rullee big.

'Snot a mowse.  'Snot a burd.  I don liek it.  It mooves funnee.  Wy is dey on the tabul?  I's not eeven allowwed on the tabul.

Dere's liek a gajilleeon of dem.  Dey's evureewhere.  So much, dat I's not feel saef.

See mee? I's hidin. Dem's scayree.

Jus when I think I can commes owt, BAM!  Dey striyk!

Heer I is, comming owt.  Feelin saef.  Not a caer in de wurld.  La la la.

Den HULLO!!!  Bad ting rite dere!!!  I has to hyde agin!!


So, maek dem go, o. k.?  No moor of de bad things in the howse. 

An definitelee NOT on de tabul.  O. K.?

Scayred, scayred Tor

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