Friday, February 28, 2014

Homestead Update

It's been a cold winter for our part of the world.  My Aunt laughs at me when I fuss about the cold and the "winter weather".  She lives in Northern Vermont. 

Mr. Marvelous has had two trips to Northern Wisconsin since the first of the year, each one lasting a week.  The trips somehow seem to have coincided with the worst of the weather here. 

I've been busy keeping the animals warm and keeping their waterers thawed.  Spring is coming, the worst is (hopefully) over, and the animals have survived.

Before the first trip to Wisconsin we harvested all our old Buff Orpingtons and consolidated all our pullets into the large pen.  We now have eight Buffs (seven from the incubator experiments this past year and one "Old Girl" whom I made the mistake of naming.  She gets a permanent reprieve), and eight White Leghorns.  We will eventually get a White Leghorn Rooster to go in with all of them (of course his name will be Foghorn, what else?!).  We probably won't hatch any more of the Buffs; they just don't lay quite as well as the Leghorns.  We do plan to hatch out one or two runs of Leghorns periodically.  These girls average one egg/day six days a week.  They are amazing.  And they know it!

It is easy to tell who lay which eggs.  The Buffs' eggs are always brown, and the Leghorns' eggs are always white.  So we will know which ones to put in the incubator when the time comes.

The little Buffs are so funny.  The two who are laying both learned to lay right there in the middle of the pen by the fence.  Personally, I think they were trying to show off for the Roos on the other side of the fence.  Little hussies!

The roos.  Ah, the roos.  We still have six Buff Orpingtons.  We would have already harvested them, but the last harvest was eight and that was as many as Mr. Marvelous could manage in one morning.  We will get to them soon.  I'm going to try plucking when we do.  If that goes well we will definitely make turkeys our experiment for 2014.

All six of them have found their voices at this point.  I think they think the American Idol Scouts are in the area.  They begin their serenade/competition promptly every morning at 0400 .  And they don't stop.  This business of a rooster crowing only once at sunrise is a bunch of hooey!  On the plus side, that makes the harvest a lot easier emotionally.

We still have bees, and they are enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine. 

The rabbits are multiplying like you-know-whats. 

More with pictures next time!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mama's Little Red(neck) Truck

I have wheels!

Now don't be jealous.  If you are prone to the sin of covetousness, you might want to skip this post.  I don't want to lead you astray.

For my birthday last year, Mr. Marvelous and I went truck shopping.  And we found this little beauty out toward Locust Grove.

It's a 1987 (the year we got married) Mazda B2000.

Don't you just love it?

It's such a southern kind of truck, isn't it?  Even down to the mud spatters (and how it got there is a story for another day, OK?)

At least 5 other people stopped by to drool over it and make an offer while we were talking to the man who was selling it.

But we got it!

Mr. Marvelous says that half the value of the truck was in the tires.

The seats were made in 1987.

That's OK, I have beach towels.

 I think they add a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you?

It needed a lot of work.  New head gasket, and other stuff I don't remember.  Because I'm not the mechanical one in the family; why should I be when Mr. Marvelous is so good at it?

It had to wait on those repairs for almost longer than I was patient.

Finally after Mr. Marvelous injured his back, we agreed that we would call the son of our good friends who was just getting a car-repair business started.

Mr. Marvelous had started the repair.  Gavin the Hero finished it up for me.

I need to make Gavin a cape, I think.  His kids would love it!

The first time I put it on the road it changed its mind; it didn't want to that day.  It over-heated because the radiator cap was not the exact right size (picky, picky!)

We replaced that and it has been doing just fine ever since.

We will need to replace the carburetor soon (that's a tricky word to spell, by the way).

Mr. Marvelous says that when we do it won't keep conking out and will get better gas mileage.  It might even quit the nasty habit of smoking for the first mile  couple of few miles.  It's that or try a Nicotine patch.  A new carburetor will probably be cheaper.

My favorite part of this is the quirky way in which I start the engine.

First you put the key in the ignition and turn it.  The only function this serves is to unlock the steering wheel.

Then you flip the toggle switch on the right up.

Then you push the button on the left in.

And away we go!

I took Mr. Marvelous Jr. for a ride the other day.  He's still shaking his head.  Bless his heart!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Walkabout Wednesday: Finally!

After that little conniption fit last week over taxes, I sat down and totalled up my mileage for January and 3 weeks of February.  I should probably wait to count February but I don't want to lose my momentum.

The counted miles for January totalled 58.47.  That's a pathetic number.  It's frustrating because I wore my pedometer every single day that month.  I just forgot to stop at the end of the day (or even week) and write those little numbers down. 

So far for February, my total is  76.36.  That brings my year total to 134.83 and my overall total to 2073.87.  That's right, over two thousand miles!! 

I have made it past the Grand Canyon and all the way along the Colorado River to Lake Mead.  I'm walking along the Arizona/Nevada state line.  If you look at the map, you will discover that the line is in the middle of the water at this point.  I figure with the Pacific Ocean coming up it is probably a good idea to practice walking on water and get used to it!

I hope to be to the Hoover Dam early in March and then it is on to the coast from there with a few stops along the way. 

Next week: Pictures!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Memories: Books for Jack

My friend Jack is having a hard time finding good books to suit him. 

I remember how difficult that was when Mr. Marvelous Jr. was at that age.  It seemed as if all the good books were girly books.  Junior was home schooling by that time, so I was responsible for literature.  It was quite a struggle finding things to suit him even though he is almost as much a book-worm as his mother (this is the kid who at the age of 11 read Ben Hur straight through in just under 24 hours). 

So here are a few authors and/or titles for my buddy Jack.

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

E. Nesbitt.  Anything she writes is terrific.  House of Arden and Harding's Luck are companion pieces.  They are more serious and deal with time-travel.  The Treasure Seekers, The Would-be-Goods and The New Treasure Seekers are just plain funny.  Most of her other books, except the Railway Children (which is emotionally a more difficult book), have a LOT of humor in them.  What would happen if magic really happened in this world?  Probably a lot of very silly things!

G. A. Henty  I didn't read that many of these, but Mr. Marvelous Jr. certainly enjoyed them

Jim Kjelgaard.  He wrote all the Big Red books.  Lots of fun

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.  Everyone has to read this at some point and dream about what it would be like.

The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, also by E. L. Konigsburg.  Jack has a big sister.

Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain.  Back when I started teaching my friend John Boyd gave up his lunch hour twice a week to come and read these books through to my students so that I could have a break/planning period.  My kids thought he was the greatest grown-up in the world.  I tended to agree with them.

Gary Paulsen's Hatchet is good but is not for everyone.

Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book and Just-So Stories.  Friends don't let friends grow up without reading these. 

Marguerite Henry's books.  Especially King of The Wind and Justin Morgan Had a Horse

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy

Richard and Florence Atwater's Mr. Popper's Penguins.  Please, please do not talk to me about the movie.  Thanks.

E. B. White  Stuart Little,  Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan

Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series.  IMPORTANT: these are written by an English author in the 1930's and 1940's.  A lot of modern children will not appreciate them.  They can be perceived as rather slow and, if you are not interested in sailing, boring.  But if you like British children's literature, and if you like sailing, you may enjoy them as much as my grown nephews do.

William Pene DuBois The Twenty-One Balloons

Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island.  This is much more a book to have someone read out loud to you than one to just pick up and read on your own.  Especially if that someone does the voices as well as my Mom did.  See the end comments.

L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz series (there are a lot more of them than you think)

The Homer Price books by Robert McCloskey  Especially if you like doughnuts!

The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill.  Hard to find but a fantastic book.

So there you go, Jack.  I hope you enjoy some of these!

Mr. Marvelous just told me that I left off Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.  Which also reminds me of Ben and Me, and Mr. Revere and I, both by Robert Lawson

Oh and Jack?  You really should dive into Narnia before too long.  At this point I would highly recommend Dawn Treader (avoid the movie; the book is terrific) and The Horse and His Boy. The Silver Chair is my least favorite of all of them.

End Comments:
For the Mothers of sons who happen to be reading this, one of the most wonderful things that you can do for your son (and all your family) is to have a daily story time.  Read out loud to the family.  Share the books that you love.  In our family we did not ever try and make it a time to practice reading out loud ~ we had other time for doing that.  Story time was Mom reading a story to Mr. Marvelous and Mr. Marvelous Jr.  The only rule was that they could not be reading something else while I was reading (cell phones and electronic games were not available back then.  If they had been, they would have been banned).  The men were not scolded for falling asleep, but they almost never did that.  They did not intensely enjoy every single book I picked, but they listened and their horizons were expanded.  It usually didn't last more than 30 minutes at the very most, and it was a very enjoyable way to end our day together. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Walkabout Wednesday

Well, sort of. 

Actually I spent the evening yesterday doing Federal and State Income Taxes. 


And meditating on government.  

File:Pieter BRUEGHEL Ii - The tax-collector's office - Google Art Project.jpg
The Tax Collector's Office by Pieter Brueghel c. 1615 Things haven't changed much since then, have they?!

So if you will excuse me, I'm going to spend the day walking it off.

I'll publish totals later

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The View From My Kitchen Window: Honey, We're surrounded!

February 9, 2014

Both my men were sick, so we stayed home that Sunday.  Late morning I was in the kitchen and glanced out the window.  

  I blinked and looked again.

Was that.....??

Oh yes, as a matter of fact it is; 

three wild turkeys!

I called the men to come and look

The final official count out the window was eight.  

We decided to see if we could sneak out onto the back porch for a better view.  We could and we were surprised; there were more on the back hill!  

I'm pretty sure there were at least sixteen total, although it gets a little tricky trying to count that many wild turkeys.

I have been wondering about whether or not to add a few turkeys this year for our 2014 homesteading experiment.  

I'm thinking I just might. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday: A Blanket!

You may remember that I wrote about our little Judah back in November.  Judah is the fifth child of my nephew and his wife.  He gave us quite the scare when he got here.  God worked some very large miracles and Young Master Judah was HOME for Thanksgiving.

Judah's baby blanket needed to be different from others I have made.  I decided that Judah needed a Blessing Blanket.  What, you might ask, is a Blessing Blanket?  It's a blanket with verses of blessing and promises for Judah from different friends and family who have been praying for him.

Judah's Nana and Grandaddy started helping me contact folks in the extended family and before too long I had 26 folks who had sent in a verse (or two) (or six) to be included.  We had even had verses from Africa and South America.  His great-grandmother included a verse that was the favorite of his great-grandfather who had died in May.  Yeah, I got teary every time I worked on that one! 

I started working on this the week after Thanksgiving.  I hoped to be done by the end of the year.  Last year.  Oh well.  I finished the cross stitch part early last week.  To be perfectly honest I could have continued with embellishments until he graduated from college, but at some point you have to just say, "I'm done".

To those of you who contributed a verse for this, thank you, thank you, thank you!  I can not tell you how much it means to me to have been able to include so many folks in this.  It is my prayer that every time Judah and his parents see and touch this blanket, they feel surrounded by God's mercy and love, and that they understand that this is just a small representation of all the folks who have prayed over him and them.

Now for those of you who have been waiting to see the final pictures:


The middle has his full name, date and place of birth, and a picture of a lion.  Because this blog is public, I am not including a close-up of that information.  If you would like to see it, please feel free to contact me.