Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Scenes of Summer

 "School-Is-Out!"  Celebration with friends

Tyler had a little graduation from pre-school. His speech progressed well during his months in pre-school and he made many friends there. 

Tyler's class came over for a class trip to see the animals and play in the yard. Each pre-schooler had a parent or a grandparent accompany them allowing us to meet many new people. Despite the cool weather we had a great time. They spread out their picnic blankets and a few loose chickens joined them as they ate their lunch.

We also had a circus stop by:)

Andrew and Andrew
Every year, I make plans to invite the Jamaicans who work across the street from us over for supper but it remains that - just plans. They work here for 8 months of the year and you think you have lots of time to get together but before you know it they are heading back to their families.
This year I decided to be intentional about it and the five guys came over. We learned their names, about their families back home, what they like to eat and all about Jamaica. We told them we didn't need to talk about ourselves because they know everything about us. They can hear laughter, and fighting; cries of delight and hurt cries. They witness the wars of little boys wearing raccoon hats armed with sticks and charging. They also see the not so nice wars, of basketballs and bikes being rammed at one another. 
I had made plans to play a joke on the Jamaicans.
 Last year when these guys arrived, they gestured a round belly to me: as in why wasn't I pregnant. I guess all of the other years I was either pregnant or had a little baby.
This year I was going to find two baby dolls and pretend that I had twin babies while they were away. I planned to walk down the street with my twins and wave at them.
Unfortunately the Jamaicans saw me before I could play my joke on them so I told them about the joke. They laughed and laughed and they have a good hearty laugh.

The boys love the piles of mulch every year.
Jumping, riding, throwing.

This plant has graced our home for ten years. It started off as cutting from my aunt who got her cutting from my great-grandmother. Finally it bloomed! Four clusters of wondrous blooms.

*Word and Deed Bike-a-thon- update: Andrew, age 7, biked the whole 52km with energy to spare!
 $93,000 was raised that day for the AIDS clinic in South Africa.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

birds part#2

With the laying hens moved out into the field, I could now go on the hunt for some show birds to put in the green coop. I started an intense search for a male red golden pheasant. These beauties are hard to find. 

Our male red golden pheasant - photo credit: Andrew

We added silkies and two female red golden pheasants to the coop. The silkies make you smile with their puff of feathers on their head. They have a calm, quite character which helps balance the skittish pheasants.

This is a male partridge. He makes a cute chirping noise and he is enjoyable to watch with that feather sticking out of his head.

And now for a story.

After much time and effort I finally found a beautiful red golden male pheasant. I was thrilled when I brought him home and put him in the coop. I started searching for a female pheasant and finally found one for a breeding pair. Notice the word "finally." Around here, these pheasants are hard to find.
I was pretty pleased with my coop. I had a male and female pheasant and I managed to find this bird guy that had everything. I bought all sorts of birds. 

As we were carrying the birds into the coop, the male partridge burst out of the box and soared into the air. Now we were down to one female partridge bird. The next morning, two little birds were dead. It was sad, but I still had the male red golden, my prized bird.

Near the end of the school year, Tyler's preschool class came to our home for a field trip. There were 26 children and 24 adults that would be roaming around the property and having a picnic lunch in our backyard. I was excited to show them the animals and could hardly wait to hear their "ahhs" when they saw the red golden pheasant. 
Twelve minutes before they arrived, I had everything perfect and ready to go. There was one small problem-  a little sparrow was panicking in the coop and it was trying to find a way out. I opened up the coop door to let the sparrow out, and instead, my normally timid male golden, my prized bird, flew right over my head and out of the door. I screamed in horror. Adam acted fast and grabbed a net. He did a spectacular flying leap in the air and almost caught the bird. The bird, my beautiful prized bird who had spent its life in captivity instantly soared into the air and landed somewhere out in our field. Adam and I jumped over the fence, rolled up our pant legs in the tall, wet grass and started an intense search for this bird. I am embarrassed to write this, but I was moaning, groaning, and praying out loud all at the same time. It was pathetic. Adam and I ran around the field trying to find the bird, but only had a few minutes because all of the guests started to arrive. It was challenging to stop the thumping in my heart and change to a happy hostess when I really felt like crying. 

I wrote my sad story on kijiji in a wanted ad. I told the readers if they saw a beautiful red bird near our town: it was mine! Someone sympathetically responded and offered a delightful peacock instead.  Adam read the email with the peacock offer and told me that bird people were nuts -he had heard enough of my stories while picking up birds at different farms. After some thought, I decided to decline on the peacock since they are loud screechers only to find out it was a friend playing a joke on me. She got me good!

I immediately began my search for another red golden and finally found one. Hopefully we don't have anymore bird adventures!

And I know what some of you are thinking: if it isn't birds escaping, its little boys. Just so you know, our littlest boy likes it here at home...thankfully.

update: after some frantic running around this morning, we caught all of the birds that escaped except for a female pheasant. Thankfully we still have one more. If you happen to see a larger, dull, brown bird running around in town - that would be mine:)
We need more locks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Birds - part#1

Earlier this year while the snow was still falling during the cold winter months, we started making plans for this year's farm. (okay - the truth is I started making the plans).

I have always wanted to have show birds, but in order for that to happen, the laying hens needed to find a new home to make room for the show birds. 

Adam sketched up a new coop plan and built it in the shop with the help (?) of the boys.

Working in the shop.

After the coop was finished, the tractor came in handy moving it to the right spot.

The coop was placed on our side of the fence with an opening and ladder going into the fenced in field. Inside of the coop is a perch for the chickens to roost on at night and there are four nesting boxes. The nesting boxes are on our side of the fence so it is convenient to collect the eggs.

Below the coop Adam cut an opening through the fence for the chickens. This way, the chickens can find shelter and shade under the coop. Unfortunately the pigs are still small enough to fit through the opening and they try to hog the chicken scratch. 

There is a little opening on one side of the coop for the kids to look through and see what is going on inside.The cows get in on the action and peek into the coop too!

After the laying hens made their home in the new coop I thought the coop needed a finishing touch. Alisha came over and painted "EGGS" and that gave the coop exactly what it needed. I love it!

Even when the latch is closed, the chickens have found ways to escape into our yard. They will squeeze under the fence or fly onto the roof of the coop and then jump down onto the yard. At least two chickens are always running around on the patio and driveway. (We can't figure out if they are the same to chickens who escape each time). I guess it makes it feel like a real country farm. Some days, more chickens decide the grass is greener on this side of the fence and they all manage to escape and nibble on the grass and my veggies. That is when we have to go on a chicken hunt! 

For years we have had eggs from our laying hens and they tasted great, better then store bought eggs. But now these eggs are officially "free range." These eggs taste that much better. The yolk is a bright, fresh orange loaded full of nutrients. Scrumptious!