Monday, June 29, 2009

New Life

Last week we were out of town for our daughter's college orientation. Upon our return, we received guests from Tampa - a family with two small children. My hubby was showing the kids around the farm on Saturday and took them into the hen house to show them a couple of "sitting" hens - hens that are sitting on eggs, waiting for them to hatch. His intention was just to show them the hens and the eggs that were under them. To his surprise, he lifted one hen and out came the cutest little chick. When he looked under the second hen, her egg was hatching and the baby had it's leg out of the shell. How cool is that? These city kids got to see the chick as it pecked out of the shell. The really funny thing is when we got the mothers and babies out of the nesting boxes and situated them in boxes on the floor, one of the hens left - and didn't return to care for her baby! The baby was taken in by the other hen and they are now a happy family of three!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spay and Neuter Your Pets

This week I began my stint as a volunteer at our local Humane Society. Some people have told me they just could not do that as it's too depressing. I look at it another way: When I spend time with the animals, it makes their time on earth more pleasant; and by socializing them, it makes them more likely to be adopted. Unfortunately, there are too many pets and not enough pet owners. In fact in the few days between when I submitted my volunteer application and when I showed up for my orientation, the shelter director told me they had had to euthanize all the small animals. We have two pet supermarkets in the area so fewer people look to the shelter to supply their "pocket" pets. Shelter's have limited room and unlimited rescues. I've heard some people say they will only do business with a "no kill" shelter. The problem with that is the no kill shelter turns away animals; the "kill" shelters take in everyone and then have tough decisions to make when they run out of room. Either way, the animals suffer.

It grieves me when I talk to people and they give me all kinds of excuses as to why they don't spay or neuter their pets. If they could only realize there are far too many wonderful animals already out there who need homes. And rather than going to a breeder or a pet store, I wish more people would think about all the animals at the shelters. The adoption fees are minimal (and help keep the shelters going) and they offer affordable spay/neuter programs. In addition, if you're looking for a particular breed, don't assume that all dogs and cats at shelters are mutts. There are purebreds available, too. If the shelter doesn't have the breed you want, they can put you in touch with a rescue organization that specializes in a breed.

If you love animals, please spay and neuter. Then when you feel you have a space in your life for an animal, go to your local shelter to adopt.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Food, Inc. Trailer

In light of the latest food recall - Nestle's raw cookie dough - I thought I'd share this movie trailer. We don't need bigger government controlling bigger agribusiness. The last few years of food scares have shown us where that leads. We need more small, local farms so we know where our food comes from and what goes into it.

A Discovery

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some cleaning in our garage. As I approached the corner where we keep our broom and various tools, a startled chickadee flew out. At first I was confused as to why a bird would be hidden among our tools and then it dawned on me - she had a nest. Sure enough, when I moved aside the broom, there was a nest containing five tiny eggs. After that, I was like a moth to the flame; I couldn't resist checking on the status of the eggs. I tried not to get too close as the mother always flew away when I entered her personal space, but I kept checking to see if we had any new arrivals. Well, the eggs have hatched and we now have some baby chickadees living in our garage. I love this time of year.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today's Quote

To show great love for God and our neighbor, we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.

~Mother Teresa

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Healthy Animals

Last night, after spending time with some of our animals, I realized that several of them have experienced dramatic improvements in their health. My black lab Ginny has food allergies and I've worked with the vet and on my own trying to find a suitable dog food. I've tried all kinds in order narrow it down to what exactly she is allergic too. I've read labels, eliminated grain, eliminated various types of meat, even looked at the various additives, to no avail. I recently saw a new kind of food and I thought, what the heck. Ginny had been on it for a couple of months when I realized her symptoms were almost gone - yay!

We also have two goats that have struggled with health issues. They were extremely emaciated when hubby and daughter purchased them (LONG story) and had digestive issues. I wormed them several times and even had them on supplemental grain for a while. I'm happy to report that one of the goats is now the perfect weight and the other is almost there.

Two of our new baby goats were a bit sickly when they were born but with a little bit of tender loving care, plus some Pepto Bismal and Goat Drench, they're perfectly healthy.

In addition to the above animals, we have a crippled chicken called Honey who seemed to have a miserable life but I couldn't bring myself to have her put down. She was sleeping under the hen house - we weren't sure if it was just too much effort for her to get up in it or if the other chickens picked on her. She also had a lot of feathers missing which I attributed to the roosters making her a "favorite" since she couldn't run very fast. We took care of the rooster problem and her feathers are growing in nicely. I've never actually seen the other chickens pick on her and she now seems to be spending more time with them, wandering around the pastures and gardens, looking for seeds and bugs. The great news is that she's now sleeping with the other chickens.

Now I'm down to a sick house cat - food allergies too. I found that the brand that makes my dog food makes a similar food for cats. So, I'm going to give it a try and keep my fingers crossed. Nothing brings a smile to my face quicker than having a sick animal recover.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm a Wimp

I've been doing yoga regularly for two years now and I sometimes do pilates. While these seem to be great workouts, I realized I needed to add some cardio to the mix, especially since my gym membership expired. Since I'm not well coordinated - in fact I'm a klutz - most cardio DVDs involve a lot of fancy steps that are supposed to keep the exercizer interested but mainly leaves me confused. A salesman/personal trainer at our local chain sporting goods store recommended The Biggest Loser Cardio Max workout, so I decided to give it a try. Well, I did the first level, without weights, knowing that I would be pretty winded at the end of the session. Well, that turned out to be the case, but I also found that by the day, I couldn't WALK without something hurting! How is this possible? I do a variety of yoga workouts so that I don't always use the same muscles but I guess that isn't enough. I'm really impressed with the DVD - although I'm afraid of levels 2 and 3. Yesterday I did yoga instead but today I braved Cardio Max. I'm hoping the soreness is an indication of effectiveness; I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


That's the cry that goes up around our house when new goat babies appear. Over the last two days, we've been blessed with four babies - 3 boys and 1 girl. Our alpha female, Nellie, had her kids on Sunday afternoon. And, rather than having the babies in her nice clean stall, Nellie chose to give birth in the horse stall. Thus, the boys were named Stinky and Poopoo. Maggie, Nellie's sidekick, was a bit smarter and had her babies under some trees out in the pasture this morning - Stella and Jerry. Mothers and babies all seem to be doing fine.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Quote for Today

"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us....Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people....We are part of the earth and it is part of us."

Seattle, chief of the Suquamish

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dark Shadows

A blast from my past - I don't know what all the fuss is about with Twilight when my generation had this little gem. This was de riguer after school viewing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Moving On

Last weekend was the end of an *era* for me. It was the first time in almost 4 years that I didn't have a spot at our local farmer's market. For the last three summers, I've sold handcrafted items and farm products at a spot at the market. This year, after spending the first month at my booth, I decided enough was enough. Although I've met a lot of interesting people, I came to the conclusion that most of the people in this area didn't care if their produce was fresh and free of chemicals or if I carefully selected quality materials for the handmade items I sold. It all boiled down to, "I can get it cheaper at Wal-Mart." So, I've decided to let them have Wal-Mart (this is an area where it's almost heretical to say you don't shop at Wally world).

We still provide wholesome food to friends who request it and I still have some custom orders for aprons (my specialty) and tote bags, but I've thrown in the towel on the rest. I'm going to miss seeing my fellow vendors and regular customers whom I've gotten to know. However, the bonus is that I now can sleep in on Saturday mornings!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All in a Day

Now that summer is here, and our home school journey is complete, I'm trying to focus on other tasks. I spent part of yesterday getting our old farmhouse clean and ready for our weekend guests. When we bought the farm from family members a number of years ago, it was our intention to demolish the house as it was uninhabitable and (we thought) beyond repair. A variety of events caused my hubby and me to rethink this plan. Lo and behold, a number of years later and we are using it as a guest house! At one point, we thought about turning it into a green bed and breakfast but have decided against it for a variety of reasons. However, we do make it available to family and friends who want to get away from the demands of city life and just enjoy nature.

Another one of my summer projects is my continuing quest to overcome my struggle in learning French. I studied French in high school and could read and write it fairly well, but just couldn't get the hang of oral comprehension. This past winter I found a French tutor and have been working with her. However, I didn't feel that was enough so I enrolled in an online, 5 credit hour course. (Our local community college doesn't offer French.) Yesterday I had a telephone conference with the professor and she taught me something I had never been taught before: how to make the French "U" sound. I was skeptical about an online class, but since I have a background in French, I felt confident that I wouldn't be overwhelmed. Having spoken to the professor, I now feel excited about the possibility of actually improving on my French skills. The negative is that I can't skip my studies since I have written and oral tests to prepare for!