Thursday, February 18, 2016

when to call a hobby quits

Back in the fall, I asked my bird-friend to come over and tell me if my coop was ready for the winter. I wanted to make sure that my prized birds would be safe, warm, and hopefully ready to breed in the early spring. After experiencing bad bird-luck during the summer, I felt that I had finally crossed the hurdle and looked forward to gazing on a beautiful show in my coop during the next summer.
My bird-friend came on by and took one look at my male red-golden pheasant and nodded with approval. (This was my second pheasant after the first one flew right over my head and out of the coop) After the bird-friend gave a low whistle, I knew I had scored. He told me he had never before seen such a nice looking bird. Instantly my heart swelled up with pride and I determined that no matter how much money it cost, when this bird died, I would have it stuffed.  
The new pheasant I bought was truly spectacular to look at. He had a dark, rich colours. His comb was large, giving him a real unique look.
I was able to keep my breeding pair of pheasants, silkies, partridges, and one silly looking cross breed bird all in the same cage. This made caring for the birds through out the winter easier.
 During the first part of winter, it was simple taking the water out to the cage once a day and checking up on the birds but my heart sank when one day I discovered my partridge dead on the coop floor. It bothered me but there was comfort that I could buy a new one in the spring from my bird-guy who has a wonderful supply of birds for a decent price.

Then tragedy occurred a few weeks later. I checked in on the birds one late afternoon and was shocked to see all three of my silkies laying on the ground...dead. Their silky feathers were scattered all around. I quickly scanned the coop for my pheasant - it was no where to be seen. I turned on the light and checked the nesting boxes desperately hoping it was tucked safe inside but my beautiful red golden had totally disappeared. There wasn't a feather or any clue left behind. I checked the snow for foot prints because this bird would be worthy of theft. As I scoured the coop, desperately hoping that the red golden would make a sudden appearance, its female partner perched high on her roost, safe and sound. After our investigation, we did discover a tiny hole where a rodent must of crept up through to kill the silkies, but the hole was so small there would be no way a large pheasant could fit through it. 
This whole thing remains a mystery. An unsettling mystery.
But here is an important question: when is it time to call a hobby quits? When is enough, enough?
The cost, the hassle, the extra work...these issues all play into the decision.
 Right now I am thinking its time to say good-bye to the specialty birds and just stick with the practical, egg-laying hens. 
BUT when spring could be a different story...

red -golden male pheasant #1

The three docile, comical silkies - gone.

Monday, February 1, 2016

the 4 boy cousins

During our Christmas family get-together, story telling is strongly encouraged. Sometimes, "the well may run dry (Renee!)" but other times, the stories bring up a beautiful nostalgic feeling.
You can read about our tradition here.
Here is my Christmas story from December:

Family Story – Christmas 2015
It was a warm fall morning in 2009. I was feeding our three young sons their breakfast when Renee’s car sped into our driveway. She lept out of her car and ran to the back steps. The back door swung open and she ran; straight for the bathroom. She gave the door a slam and that’s when I heard her…throwing up. “Umm. Humm,” I thought. “This girl is pregnant.” Renee came out of the bathroom and sat down by the kitchen island with a sigh. After I asked her some probing questions, I confirmed my diagnosis. We figured out her due date and I wished her strength because there would probably be more weeks of this morning upheaval. After Renee left, I smiled to myself. I was almost 100% certain I was pregnant too. Rachel was pregnant and she and Erik were looking forward to a spring baby. However, the warm, fuzzy feelings of us sisters being pregnant together didn’t last because I began to worry about Heather. She was married for as long as Renee and not being able to share in this wonderful excitement of the family growing could be very hard for her. I thought of how we would handle all of this and the sensitivity we would need to show. The next afternoon, Heather stopped by after her work. She sat by the kitchen island and before I could start a conversation she told me she was pregnant. I whooped for joy. All four of us sisters pregnant at the same time! I asked her about her due date and smiled deep inside. I figured out she was due a day after me and Renee was due two weeks ahead of us. My excitement could not contain itself. I knew about everyone’s secret and they only knew about themselves and Rachel.
I convinced Heather and Renee to share their news at mom and dad’s when we would all be there for supper. I imagined the happy chaos when they found out about all of the pregnancies.  It would be a joke on them and these were peculiar circumstances would never be forgotten.
The special supper evening arrived. Renee had told Heather the night before so they had figured out their special news on their own. Renee had also told mom and dad.

During supper Heather and Renee had created their own cute ways to share their exciting news. First we all cheered with Renee and Dave’s news. Not long after their announcement Heather and Mark shared their exciting news. Supper time was filled with jovial joking and laughing. Dad and mom could not believe it- three of their daughters were pregnant. Adam and I just smiled and let everyone tease us that now it would be our turn.
Later that evening it was time to leave. Adam and I loaded our three boys in the van and as we sat down to go home we both had the same thought - we had to go back in the house and tell everyone about our own special news.
We ran back into the house and I shouted, “I’m pregnant too!”
Mom literally felt for a chair and sat down. The house erupted in cheers. What news to celebrate and share! That weekend my parents found out three of their daughters were pregnant and they already had a daughter who was pregnant.
There is something so special about being pregnant with sisters. There is a familial wholeness and the beautiful wonder of God’s timing.

After the nausea and fatigue subsided we had fun talking about our growing babies. We speculated what it would be like when the babies arrived. There were baby showers for Heather and Renee. We guessed what we would be having. I was totally convinced I would be having another boy and I really hoped that at least one of them would have a boy too for two reasons. First, so that our little boy would have someone to play with and secondly, so my sisters would understand the way I parent. Coming from a houseful of sisters to having one or more sons is a real learning curb.

Finally a few months later, my mom and I were at a wedding shower when the phone rang. Rachel and Erik had a baby boy. I remember sinking down into the couch with the most relieved feeling. A boy. Phew. A boy cousin! Immediately mom and I left the shower, picked up dad and headed to the hospital. There we met the most wide-eyed newborn we had ever seen. Kentin looked like he was going to start up a conversation with us.
Seven weeks later it was my turn to be induced. We were thrilled to meet our new son, Tyler. He was such a small little baby, but had lungs that could fire away.
A week later Dave called me early one morning -they had a boy! A boy – I couldn’t believe it. Three boys! Sweet Josh slept and slept during his first few months.  His content disposition made parenting look easy.
And then two weeks later, on a warm summer afternoon, Heather made the phone call. She too, had a boy.  I couldn’t get over it. Four boy cousins! Unfortunately for Mark and Heather, James was colicky and fussy. James and Tyler made a good pair with all of their crying.

Going to dad and mom’s that summer of 2010 was like walking into Babyland. Littered across the living room were diapers, nursing pads, nursing blankets, creams and lotions, baby wipes, car seats, and tired looking moms- probably a bit on the hormonal side.
Our cousin Jeanette, also had a boy a few months after us. Kyle is just like one of these little boy cousins, interested in how things work, trucks, tractors, and loves things that go fast. Now those little babies are 5.5 years old. All of these boys have a zest for life and each have their own unique character.
It will be interesting to see these boys grow up. We think there will be a lot of fun and pranks. There might be some trouble – I picture cars racing down our road. We do pray though, that they will be true, caring friends; spurring one another to live their lives in a way that glorifies and honours God.

Three of us were at the comfortable stage of our pregnancies. Thankfully Rachel only had 2 weeks to go!

This was our first time altogether after the boys were born.

                                          At the cottage over the years...
1 YEARS OLD: The first summer up north. Strollers, diapers, smiles, crying, crawling...lots of memories.


At THREE years old, some of them showed their fearlessness and others
showed their caution. Okay, only one showed their fearlessness.
He's the crazy guy doing cartwheels out of the wagon.

At age FOUR, these guys are great buds, enjoying their time more
at their cousins' homes than their own home.

Now at FIVE years old, these boys were able to organize their own
boy-fun while up north. Their imaginations took them on great journeys, they shared their exaggerated fishing stories, and searched for the best treasures.