Tuesday, October 17, 2017

9




Happiest of birthdays to our nine-year-old gal, who woke up in a good mood for the first time evah (she's not much of a morning person), let me fix her hair half-up, half-down, and voluntarily shared some of her goodies with her Bubba, straight out of her Birthday Bag.

That's a pretty good start to the last single-digit year, if I may say so myself.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Penny's Eggs



After Penny stubbornly proved herself a very dedicated and wishful mama hen this past weekend, the kids and I decided she had earned a real chance at hatching some eggs (which she does not have without intervention due to the lack of a rooster over here), and we set about hatching a plan (ha ha, see what I did there?).

I wasn't interested in attempting to order fertilized eggs from a hatchery, juggling the logistics, and going through all that stress this close to winter. However I also wanted to do more than just allow her to sit in an empty box... my solution was to text a neighbor around the corner with a flock of chickens (including several roosters) and barter a few home-canned goods for a few of his flock's fertilized eggs. Luckily, he was very enthusiastic about our plan.

After school we popped over and made the trade, and before dinner Penny was proudly sitting on her very own clutch. Audrey, ever the thoughtful Chicken Friend, drew a big chalk 'X' on the outside of the nesting box Penny has claimed, with a warning to not collect any eggs from that box. She also made a reminder that one can't help but see every time you walk out the door...


'Do not disturb the nesting box with the X! PS Penny is sitting on eggs! -AW'

I have no idea how long Penny will sit on these eggs before they could possibly hatch, as they were taken from another broody hen and lord knows how long she's been sitting on them... but if all goes well, we'll have a chance to see Penny fulfill the desire of her little mama heart soon... as long as the weather cooperates!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Broody Penny





We have a very broody hen on our hands. She thinks she should be sitting on eggs right now and is absolutely steadfast. We are unable to convince her that, in fact, the eggs she is sitting on are not fertile (when she is sitting on any eggs at all) and her time in that nesting box is completely wasted. She protests very, very loudly when she is evicted from said nesting box, and will rush back up to it as soon as she can.

Today we decided to remove broody Henny Penny from the chicken coop completely and let her spend the day in the garden. She was very well supervised and tended to, with fresh water in every bucket and container the kids could find, and with tender greens and captured bugs offered to her at every turn.

She was not happy. She was not deterred.

She spent about 20 minutes in the garden, then decided she'd better be gettin' back to her nest and she flew right over the fence.


She then found her way straight back to the chicken coop and spent the rest of the afternoon foraging on the outside of the chicken run (much to her sisters' chagrin) and trying to figure a way back in.

And that is where we left her, hoping the fresh air and physical barrier would break her of her drive to sit, sit, sit.

Nope.

After dark I went out with my flashlight to find her and put her on a roosting bar... and I couldn't. I searched under all the trees and in all the brambles and up on the compost walls and in between all the pallets leaning on the back side of the garden shed... and no Penny hen. I did, however, startle a big opossum, and I began to think I sentenced Penny to her doom leaving her out of her coop for so long. Quite frankly I felt like chicken poop.

Then I flashed my light into the coop, and poking her head out of her favorite nesting box was Penny, nestled and victorious and somehow right back in her spot.

I shook my head, I turned off my light, and I left her there.

She may be wasting her time, and her efforts to hatch her sister's infertile eggs may be futile, but dammit, she has earned her right to try.

I can't believe she found a way back despite it all.

Nice job, Penny. For what it's worth, you'd make a great mama...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Trying Something New



We were informed this weekend that it was time... time to be free of the (ironically off-balancing) training wheels. We didn't get around to it before the end of the day on Sunday, but it was definitely not forgotten, and it was the first thing I was reminded of as soon as the kiddos were back from school today.

SO..... a pair of pliers and five minutes of effort and that was all it took... I didn't even get one of those prime time commercial-worthy moments where I ran behind them to keep them steady... they were just off...









...and they're still at it. No fear, no help, big smiles, and not even a scraped knee... so far, anyway.

Time flies, man. Time flies.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

So Long, September...




"We know that in September,
We will wander through the warm winds of Summer's wreckage. 
We will welcome Summer's ghost."
~Henry Rollins

It doesn't seem possible, but not only is this year's only summer over, September has joined it. Our September this year seemed to be less of a destination and more of a middle ground. We transitioned- or so it seemed- this whole month. But maybe now that that's over, we'll awaken in October... fully aware and present... transformed from our gnarly, sunburned, heat-stressed selves into the golden grateful creatures October brings out in us all. 

Sometimes the bridge is taken for granted, just something to land your feet upon as you step from one side to another... and so September has been: the bridge between Summer and Real Fall. Thank you for getting us here, September... thank you.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Doin' Fall Stuff






I know, I know, I know we don't have fall-like weather yet... I know that it's still in the 90's and most of the leaves falling from the trees right now are falling because they're dehydrated... I've noticed that the birds are still panting, that the air conditioners are still cycling, and that no one wants to stop wearing shorts yet... but darnit, we're doin' fall stuff anyway.

I mean, once the sun goes down, it's not that hot out there... 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Another Outdoor Before + Phase One


I have been taking a design-your-yard-type course from the Denton Master Gardener's Association, and right now I'm halfway through the classes. That means I'm far enough along and know just enough that I can't sit still and keep "working" on my developing design any longer... this weekend I decided it's high time for me to get out there and start doing something!

This weekend we started Phase One of my front yard redesign: remove all the oversized, overgrown holly bushes (all six of them).




We wrapped a heavy-duty chain around the base of each one and pulled them up by the roots with the bucket of the tractor. There was much scratched skin and ant bites during the process, but it was all totally worth it. We had them all out and hauled down to our next future bonfire site before lunch.

I even got around to the beginnings of reshaping and terracing the beds to the left of the front door, but that'll have to be a different post. Today we're just celebrating the destruction of those sharp, invasive, scratchy, way-too-big-for-the-space holly bushes, and if I may say so myself, it looks better out there already!

Next up, Phase Two: pull up all the rusting, bent and broken edging, reshape the beds, and redefine the borders with our own native stone!

I love hardscaping... and think I've already gotten my second wind... let's get back out there!

Fall!



Happy first day of fall (a day later)! Our wreath is on the front door, our pumpkins are on display, and we've cracked out the sage and cranberries to help begin our celebration of the harvest season. I even saw that a "cold" front is on the way... fall is finally here! 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Garden 'After'

This past weekend I finally got the majority of my fall garden under "control." High fives were shared all around (and later, a cold beer or two).



I finished cleaning up most of what is finished for the season, storing what had gone to seed when I was able and composting the rest. Then I got my cabbage, collards, beets, carrots, radishes, and onions in the ground. I also scattered more zinnia seed with hopes that there would be enough time for a new generation before it freezes.

(See the 'before' here)







During the cleanup I found more giant zucchini and another (surprise) watermelon. My giant tomato jungle is peppered with new green tomatoes of all different sizes... dare I hope that there will be another round? In the very least there will be green tomato chutney and fried green tomatoes in our future!



Another survivor of the summer heat and bugs that has surprised us all is Henry's lima bean (which he started in a science class at school in April). It has seemed sickly and feeble until just these least few weeks... wow has it taken off now! It's loaded with little lima bean pods (which Hen has discovered are not good to eat right off the vine like his beloved green beans). He is so excited about them, and checks on their progress almost every day. My kiddos have never been big fans of lima beans... maybe this will make them turn a corner!


We're also eyeing our pepper plants, who have all held on through the summer alongside the tomatoes and the lima bean. We've still got jalapeƱos, banana peppers, sweet Carmens, and tiny fiery-hot red ones going strong!

It's hard not to hover over the newly planted beds, watching for those first green sprouts of cabbage or carrots... but there is still the concern over the soil trouble hanging over our garden space, and each visit out there is mixed with hope and apprehension. I'm hoping I did enough to amend what went wrong this spring, and I'm worried that I just wasted all that fall seed.

Only time will tell... either way, I'll let y'all know!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekending





























 May your weekend be pulled-in-a-wagon-wherever-you-want-to-go good (three cheers for sweet, doting little brothers!).

Happy weekending!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Audrey's Procedure

Our girl Audrey is known for her creativity, intelligence, love of books, and toothy grin... and unfortunately as of late, she's also become known for her trouble hearing.

For over three years now we have struggled with her hearing- mainly that she goes through long stretches where she can't.

We've seen doctors. We've seen ENTs and specialists. We've had x-rays, blood work, allergy tests and panels. We've had every kind of hearing test done multiple times. We've completed round after round of every allergy medication and antibiotic. She's been through three ruptured eardrums, one of which was so severe it landed her in the ER.

Enough was enough. Seriously.

So yesterday, after even more testing, screenings, and antibiotics, Audrey had her adenoids taken out and tubes put in her ears.




It was a quick procedure (once we were checked in and she was properly medicated), and afterwards the surgeon told me when they went in for her adenoids they found them to be twice as big as her tonsils (they're supposed to be half as big as her tonsils at this age, apparently). She also told me they drained lots and lots of fluid from both ears before putting in the tubes.


Audrey told me (once she had her wits about her) that everything sounded so much louder and clearer, and her only complaint was her sore throat (five popsicles later and she was feeling fiiiiine).

24 hours later, Audrey is almost feeling back to normal, and we are all noticing the improvement in her hearing. She's been living in such a muffled world for so long; I can only imagine how refreshing it must feel to hear whispers again, or to not have to ask 'What?' when almost anything is said to you, or to be able to respond to the call to dinner not because you notice everyone else is running downstairs, but because you actually heard Mama say, "Come eat!"

Our big girl braved her first surgical procedure like a champ and is now even better than 'back to normal,' and we are so glad!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Garden 'Before'



I have been dying to get out into my garden and clean it up so I can plant my fall-time stuff... but life is soooo getting in the way right now! I started on Monday and worked until it was almost too late to get cleaned up to go pick the kids up from school, and even after working right down to the wire I still just plain didn't get enough done. I haven't been able to get back out there since, and it's driving me nuts!

I did plant two heads of elephant garlic, though, so assuming my soil troubles aren't as bad as they were this spring, at least there's that.

I had no idea so many weeds had taken advantage of my August neglect! And oh, how my zinnias were overgrown! But I did manage to harvest several gigantic zucchini, a handful of green beans, and a watermelon while I was at it... and seven tomato hornworms... and lots of grasshoppers...


I still have a huge laundry list of outstanding garden chores (including pulling down all the dead cucumber vines, planting some more flowers for a fall bloom, pruning my reviving tomato plants, staking my monster eggplants, and getting all my fall seeds into the ground, among other things), and when I'm standing at the gate to the garden letting All That Is Undone sink in, man is it easy to feel overwhelmed by it all! But then a giant swallowtail or a real monarch flutters by, I spot a couple fist-sized beets I had no idea made it through the summer, and I realize I have a new round of baby tomatoes on my scraggly over-summered vines, and I take heart- this space is worth working for! I'll get back every bit of my labor and then some in a harvest I sometimes feel undeserving of, and I'll always be mindful and thankful for it.

Gratitude is quite a motivator, y'all... and so as I remember all that this space has given me so far, I'll recharge, pause in this space to share a few pictures of my garden's wild and overgrown splendor, rearrange my day tomorrow to open up a few hours, and get back on out there!

Garden 'after' pics to share, coming soon!