Friday, March 29, 2013

Springtime Fragments

Today seems like a good day for a Friday Fragments post, especially since that's how my schedule has been lately-- fragmented.
However, it's spring! And the weather in these parts has been cooperating nicely. Still no flower sightings, but we are having sunshine regularly. That's always a good thing!
Sunday afternoon drives are one of our favorite ways to relax on the Day of Rest. Lately we've been watching for signs of spring. There is still snow on the mountains and the trees are still bare... but it's shirt-sleeve weather when the sun is out!
 The chickies are happy and thriving in their little brooder box in the garage, but they are growing fast. It will soon be time to move them into their coop in the backyard.
Becky and her daddy got it all set up for them, and she takes them out daily for a play time to get used to their new home. Lots of "chicken spectating" going on in our backyard these days!
Lyle's been working long hours again. The print shop recently got some new equipment that requires construction of a "clean room"-- whatever that is. The equipment came with 3 computers. I was amused at his makeshift "computer lab" as he got the computers up and running, ready to put into place when the room is completed. He said each one had a different version of Windows on it.
In other news, the neighbors are building a new garage, to replace the one that burned down a few weeks ago. We've been watching the progress with interest. (Laura calls me a "stalker" for taking pictures!)

I've also been:

  • working
  • homeschooling
  • preparing for my upcoming homeschool conventions
  • studying for the class I'll be teaching for the spring trimester at co-op
  • helping out at the print shop when there's something I can do
  • thinking about writing (but not getting much done)
  • poking around in my genealogy and family history at odd moments
  • crocheting and reading in my spare time, as always
And that pretty much wraps it up for this week's Friday Fragments post.

Have a Blessed Easter!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chicken Update #3

 This weekly livestock report is brought to you by Becky who has been asking me for the past 2 or 3 days, "Mom, when are you going to blog about the chickens again?"

Each day the chickens require training, don't you know? Because, these aren't just laying-hens-in-waiting. Oh, no. And heaven forbid you even think of the possibility of them being meat birds. {shudder} "The Girls" are meant to be pets, if not members of the family. Their egg-laying potential is just a bonus.

Two or three times a day Becky goes out into the garage and carefully gathers her four Girls out of their brooder into a box to bring them into the house for their regular training session and photo shoot. It's too cold for them to be outside much yet. So she spreads an old towel on the floor and watches them carefully to make sure they stay on it during their training.

So far Becky has taught the Girls to roost and to fly. When they get a little older, I'm sure she'll teach them to lay eggs.

I don't think they're quite ready yet. After all, they are only 2 weeks old.

It has been fascinating to see how much they change every day. They aren't as cute and fuzzy as they were at first, but the feathers that are growing in and developing are beautiful. I'm glad we got four different breeds so we could notice the variety between each kind




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

St. Patrick's Tea

A few weeks ago my daughter decided she wanted to host a spring tea... just for fun! She has a special gift for hospitality and loves planning social events. After much thought and discussion, she decided on a St. Patrick's Day theme. The tea was yesterday.

Laura asked each of her guests to bring a treat to share that was either green or rainbow colored. We had a delectable selection to choose from... and most of it was naturally green, not food coloring. We enjoyed asparagus and swiss tarts, spinach roll-ups, green peppers, Waldorf salad, pistachio bread, pesto salad, kiwi, bananas dipped in (green) coconut, M&M cookies, and coconut M&Ms. Everything was delicious!

She also asked her guests to wear green... and a couple of them took it one step further and wore hats! She planned a couple of fun parlor games and made this adorable "Leprechaun pants" bag of "gold" as a prize.

After the scheduled festivities, we enjoyed visiting for the rest of the afternoon... and managed to finish off the coconut M&Ms.

It was a fun day with sweet friends!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hanging out in Loveland...

...at the Spring Home Education Fair!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just another shade of greige...

Ask me to describe a vehicle and I'm likely to say something like "the blue car" or "the red pickup." Lyle, on the other hand, can identify at a glance the make and model of practically anything on the road, and often the year. Our girls are pretty good at it, too, having picked it up from their dad. I just don't pay that much attention. And with all the neutral shades-- grays and beiges-- so popular right now, "the greige rig" works for me! ("Rig" is the generic term in our part of the country for any vehicle.)

You need that background for the story I'm about to tell.

I had reserved a mini-van for my convention this weekend, as I needed a way to transport my display materials from my hotel where they were shipped, to the convention venue. I took the shuttle from the airport to the car rental place. I got all the paperwork taken car of and the girl behind the counter handed me the keys. "It's the gold Dodge Caravan out the door to my left," she said.

So I went out the door to her left, expecting to find a gold mini-van waiting for me. Um. No. Apparently, they don't pull your car up to the door for you at this rental place. There was a whole parking lot full of vehicles. What does a Dodge Caravan look like? I wondered. It's a mini-van, anyway. I know that much. The problem is, some mini-vans look like small SUVs. Well, it's gold. I can surely find a gold mini-van. I knew the vehicle with the Toyota logo wouldn't be it. (Having owned Toyotas for years, I do recognize their logo.) So I casually strolled along the rows of cars trying to identify one that could be a Dodge in some shade of gold.

A-ha! There was one labeled "Dodge Caravan" right across the back. And yeah, I suppose that could be called gold. So I walked up to it and clicked my key to unlock the door. Nothin'. Hmmm. I compared the number on my paperwork to the number on the windshield. Nope. Not it after all.

Where could it be?

By this time, I'm afraid my "casual stroll" had evolved more of a "lost wanderer" effect. About then, a guy who worked at the rental place came along. "Are you having trouble?" he asked.

I had to admit it. "Um. Yeah. I don't know makes and models very well, and I can't find the car I've rented."

He looked at my paperwork, and then asked for the key. He clicked the panic button and immediately another "gold" Dodge Caravan (that I had already walked right past) started honking.

I was chagrined. "I don't know why I didn't think of that," I said as I thanked him.

But I ask you. Would you call the car pictured above "gold"?

To me, it's just another shade of greige.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Signs of Spring

It's that time of year when Winter has pretty much long since worn out her welcome. Eagerly we begin to watch for the very earliest signs of Spring. According to the calendar Spring should be making her arrival next week. Usually, Spring comes late to north Idaho. Happily for us, she seems to be arriving just a little earlier than normal this year. 

Rachel has been watching for Spring's arrival in central Indiana, too. She has already spotted some bright little crocus faces in her neighborhood. No blossom sightings around here yet. 
 However, I was glad to notice that my mums are coming back for Year 4. There was some discussion here on Ramblin' Roads last fall on how to get mums to come back year after year. Mine are planted in a flower bed close to the house. Once they've finished blooming in the fall I just leave the "dead" plant there all winter. It does not look lovely, but then, neither do the bare lilac bushes in the same flower bed. When the lilacs start leafing out in a few weeks, I will cut down last year's mum stalks to allow this year's new growth to flourish. And then, hopefully enjoy blooming mums again in the fall. I don't know if that's the "secret" or not. That's just how I do it.
This is what our weather looks like most days this time of year. Snow on the mountains in the distance but not in our yard. Cloudy skies with periods of fog. And occasionally, lovely sunny days! Looking forward to more of those, for sure!

Another sign of spring is that my homeschool convention season kicks off this weekend. Tomorrow morning I'm heading to Loveland, Colorado for the Home Instruction Ministries Spring Curriculum Fair where I'll be hosting the Sonlight booth. I'm flying this year, rather than driving, so I'll be responsible for all the packing, loading, and unloading that Lyle usually takes care of for me. That's making me a little nervous, but I'm sure it will be fine. This is the first of six conventions I'll be attending this Spring, so I'll keep you posted on my travels.

What signs of spring are you seeing in your neighborhood?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tail Feathers

The chickies are growing and changing so fast, it's almost necessary to take pictures of them every day! Good thing we don't have to pay for film developing, huh?
Becky noticed that the Girls' combs are beginning to develop on their faces...
...their wing feathers are coming in...
...and they are beginning to get tail feathers as well!
We think Violet (the black one) might be a day or two younger than the others because her feather development is not as advanced.

They seem to be happy and healthy. It's fun to see them gather around the front of the brooder when they see us coming into the garage. They are curious little biddies!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flower Arranging

Saturday morning Laura and I attended the monthly ladies meeting at church. Laura wasn't too sure she wanted to go, but when she found out that a friend of ours was going to be demonstrating flower arranging, she decided that sounded like fun. We were each supposed to bring a bud vase and a pair of scissors.

First, our friend (a former florist) showed how to arrange a dozen roses. I picked up several tips from her. She told us that roses need a fresh cut every time they are out of water because the stems "seals" back up within 10 seconds. So it's important to cut the stem right before you put them back in water. I had known you were supposed to cut them again, but I hadn't known about the "10 second rule" or understood why. She also showed us how to weave leaves of fern together to make a nice base for the arrangement. And then how to arrange 6 roses around the bottom of the arrangement, then 5 in the middle, and then one at the top with greenery as she went along, and  adding filler last.

After the demonstration we were all invited to make our own arrangement using one rose and whatever greenery and filler we wanted. It was interesting to me to see how different everyone's arrangements looked with just one rose. And it was fun to get to take our arrangements home with us.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Little Peeps

For at least a year, Becky has been lobbying for chickens. Even though we live in town, she was convinced that a small backyard flock of laying hens would be the very thing. Over many months she has carefully done her research and never once gave up on the idea. I've always enjoyed watching chickens and I'm definitely in favor of fresh eggs, so eventually I jumped on the bandwagon with her. Finally, last night we decided the time had come.

Off to the farm store we went. While Lyle folded down the seats in the car to make room for the chicken coop kit, I went on in the store to see what breeds of baby chicks they had in stock. Sadness! All they had were turkey chicks... (or wait, what do you call baby turkeys? Had to stop and google it... apparently they are technically calls poults!) They were very cute, but I sure didn't want to end up with turkeys gobbling in my backyard. Then we discovered that the box the chicken coop came in wouldn't fit in the car.

Time for Plan B? What was Plan B anyway?

We decided that Lyle could come back another day to get the coop. It will be on sale until the 17th. We called the farm store in Spokane to see if they had actual chicken chicks in stock. They did. So we took off over there. Becky had given me a list of breeds she thought would be the best. We decided that four would be a good number. Our city allows up to 10 hens in a backyard (no roosters!), but I knew we didn't want that many. The coop we are looking at is roomy enough for up to four, so four it is.

And here they are...

The yellow chicken in back is a White Leghorn. Her name is Daisy. I'm taking it on faith that she will be white as an adult. In the middle is the sweet little Rhode Island Red. We've named her Marigold. The gray-and-black striped one is a Silver-Laced Wyandotte. Her name is Peony. And the black one... Wait! Where's the black one?
Oh, yes... here she is. She's a Black Sex Link named Violet.
So far we have found them to be endlessly fascinating to watch. For example, their feeder has 8 holes. Plenty of room for four little chicken heads to go foraging. But no, they think they all need to be in the same hole.
Now, then. That's better. That's the idea.
But then, Peony decides it would be a good idea to climb on top of the feeder.
(That's probably how that splat of chickie droppings ended up there! They do poop all over everything. Still, I've heard it's great garden fertilizer. So it's all good.)

It's also funny to watch them fall asleep. They doze off before they lie down. First their eyes close and then their head starts bobbing.
And pretty soon they are plopped down snoozing away. Daisy was tucked back in that corner for the longest time last night. It didn't seem like a natural position for a chicken, so I was a little concerned that she might be sick, though she seemed to be breathing normally.
But this morning she's alert and cheeping around with the other girls, so I guess that's just how the chickies sleep. Eventually I guess they'll learn to roost.
Cookie is enchanted and would dearly love a chance to mother them... but in fear that she might inadvertently love them too much, we have been very careful to keep them out of her reach.

And so the adventure begins. Have no doubt that I'll keep you posted.

What fun!