Saturday, July 30, 2011

Some Historical Sewing

We only sew on a deadline it seems, despite intentions that this time we’ll start earlier. Araminta grew out of her 1855 dress from last year. We were able to save her underpinnings by moving out buttons, and Lucinda will need the same done soon. Poor Gareth didn’t even get to attend this one, since when we put him in his clothes he’d had such a growth spurt his shirt looked ridiculous.

The girls, Araminta in her new pink dress and Lucinda in Araminta’s hand-me-down:



Although this looks like aimless milling about, this is a dance being taught to the event visitors! The weather was beautiful.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Someone Turned Five


He’s insisting on growing his hair out! He remembers when he had long hair, the feel of it on his cheek when he lies down, and doesn’t want it cut. He had a fun birthday morning, and we had planned to trial his second food (organic turkey patty), but all of a sudden around noon he got sick. No fever, just throwing up and lying there all lethargic. He’s starting to come around today, sipping some and keeping it down. But doesn’t that just stink to be sick on your birthday?


At least he got to open presents first. He had Lucinda blow out his candle because he was too sick by then:


Happy fifth year sweet little guy!

Party Girls – Who Knew?

I’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the floor in our living room while our new animals are babies and transitioning, just not wanting them to get in trouble while we’re all in our bedrooms and not hearing.

If you didn’t know this, because I sure didn’t, little ducklings are party girls! I kept jumping up all night to see who had their head wedged or some other emergency, only to find a duck party in progress. All the raucous noise was just them running around having fun. Sheesh.

They’re funny, though. When I bring out the camera, they think it’s some exotic predator and freeze. Pretty convenient!


And on the screen porch, chewing cud on a toddler chair:


Guess what we finally have in the garden? Why no, you don’t need to adjust the color on your monitor, that tomato IS actually red. At least it squeaked in before August – two years ago we ate our first red one on July 4th.


Yep, that’s today’s ongoing life in a smelly house :-).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our new favorite hangout

Other having a sort of barnyard smell that is right off the dining room, I think we’re going to be bereft when Selkie and Sarabi head out to the barnlet! The screen porch is the center of fun and relaxation around here right now:






Chores are trickier, though – changing to fresh straw:

108 I think she’s supervising. She was just standing there, too! This is right before Sarabi joined in with a rowdy game of “Queen of the Mountain” in which I was the mountain.


The barnlet is coming much closer to completion after the guys worked for two and a half days this week on it. They were putting up the roof deck today:

102 Gareth and our friend up on the roof – blurry photo through glass and screen



Earlier this week when the siding was just leaning up against the structure – most of it is nailed on now.


We got a super blessing today. The Patriarch and his friend were picking up some missing something at Home Depot this morning on the way here, and our friend wandered over to the paint department to see if there were any good deals on paint for the barn. There was a return there: a five gallon bucket of Behr premium satin exterior in a mid-deep charcoal gray for $15! We’d been debating between charcoal and a deepish mud brown, since our goal here is for this structure to disappear as much as possible. Guess that made that decision!

Another Birthday Present

We were awaiting another of my birthday presents, due to arrive today – I got the call from the post office that I had a peeping package, and ran over to pick up these sweeties:


They are a birthday present from a very special aunt. They’re Welsh Harlequin ducks, and we’re raising them for a number of reasons instead of the chickens I’d wanted for over a decade now. This may not work out long term – we’ll see if I end up with chickens after all – but we’re giving the Welsh Harlequins a go. This breed does lay about the same amount of eggs that a chicken does, and we have a wonderful young lady at our church that raises Welsh Harlequins among other breeds and has sold us some duck eggs in the past. We couldn’t tell a flavor difference here (speaking of a difference between fresh free range chicken eggs; store bought eggs aren’t a fair comparison) and the duck eggs are slightly larger. The only slightly ominous input has been how many people say, “They’re so messy, we switched to chickens”. As I say, we’ll see.

New baby anythings are so cute!



We have a stock tank here that was bought as a birth tub. Perfect brooder!



We took an old roaster and put some hardware cloth over it, and coming off it to make a ramp (taping the edges for safety), and put the waterer on top of that so that there’s not a huge mess where their water is.


They’re all female, naturally, and we’ve chosen four names but we’re holding off assigning the names to the individuals until we learn the personalities involved. The girls mutually came up with the first three, and the little girls chose the fourth: “Jemima Dorothy”, “Lucy” & “Ethel”, and “Nancy Drew”. We’re hoping to find a smart maternal one, two that stick together and hopefully are somewhat silly, and an inquisitive one. Think that’ll work?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Dream Gift Has Landed

Thursday we picked them up – my big birthday gift that I’d wanted so long:
Meet our two wee Nigerian Dwarf doelings! On the left is Camanna COC Sarabi Saffron and to the right is Camanna AYW Selkie Santolina. They are both less than a month old and are bottle babies. Our barnlet isn’t quite finished yet, although getting close, so we created a temporary space for them on our screen porch.
015 Laid plastic sheeting, anchored with buckets

016 Rigid plastic cup protects an electric outlet

018 A couple of blankets from Goodwill, since the plastic was far too slick for hooves. Used the big staple gun to anchor them safely down.

023 Straw on top nice and deep

006 The little girls decorated a couple of boxes that we made into a cozy bed.


We hadn’t told Tarquin at all, not wanting to hear incessant “is it time yet” sort of questioning. A year ago we visited a goat farm for an entire day with Tarquin, Lucinda, and Araminta to make sure they were safe for goats and straw and hay, and they did great, but ever since then Tarquin has been longing to return. A kind goat owner who was transporting other goats brought them up our way and I took Clara to help with the pick-up off I-5, then we brought the does home. Sophia had the rest of them in a circle waiting:

They’ve been doing very well in their temporary housing, and it’s actually pretty convenient right off the kitchen to warm bottles. I also want to be close during the night at first to make sure they weren’t yelling loudly! They do stay up quite late, wanting company right around midnight for some reason, but in the morning they stay curled up in their box until someone comes out to feed them. Hoping they get over the former, as midnight hangouts in the barn might get a little old!
We’ve been so enjoying them in their babyhood, but their purpose is to be backyard dairy goats. Nigerians are tiny, does being no more than 21 inches tall at adult size, and produce lovely milk high in butterfat. We’ll only ever keep two, and since they can breed more year-round than other breeds, we’ll stagger their births eventually. We’re hoping to be in milk in time to use some for next Thanksgiving’s dinner.
I’ve been asked about their names – they have herb names that go with their colors. “Sarabi” is the mama in the Disney “Lion King” since her coloring struck us as so leonine. Selkie also got her name from her coloring. Her color is called “blue roan”. There is an older movie all of us love called “Roan Inish”, so we played around with variations on that title for awhile, but nothing was sticking until we thought of using the name of the mythological character featured in the film – the Selkie. Selkies are found in Irish, Scottish, and other folklores and are seals which can shed their skin to become humans, or back again the other way. This does give us a whole lot of the letter “S” in our barn!
I’ll post pictures of the barnlet soon, as the Patriarch and his friend are planning a work day Monday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Big News in Food Today!

Clara got her braces off and after this celebratory GF red velvet cake, she plans to have a whole apple:



But wait: there’s even bigger food-related news. When we first realized Tarquin had hyper IgE like his sisters (at age four months), the plan was always that he would have nothing but elemental (prescription) formula until he turned five. This happens in a couple of weeks, and we had a planning meeting with their immunologist today. She green lighted trials on the first five foods the girls were able to eat after their two years off food: rice, organic turkey without additives, broccoli, pear juice, and olive oil for cooking the turkey when in patty form.

We’d been worried that he might not do well with the taboo of eating. And he was quite worried about his first grain of rice – we had to talk him into this:

002 Doesn’t he look terrified?


But he’s done really well this evening. We go up incrementally; one grain, wait 15 minutes, two grains, wait 10 minutes, four grains, wait 10 minutes . . . you get the idea. He has had no reaction at all, and is up to a bowl of rice successfully. We will wait three days on just rice and elemental formula, then trial turkey. After we get these first five foods we’ll wait a few weeks before trialing anything else.

018 Mmmmmm!


It was funny, I had to teach him how to chew and swallow when he got up to a mouthful. He really loves the sweet flavor of white rice and this is a pretty big moment in his history!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Garden Tour Beginning of July

Well sigh. Another June that was cool, gray, wet, and had very cold nights. Broccoli was so weird this year, since a bunch of it bolted before having ever given us broccoli! A neighbor across the street had the same thing happen in her garden. We did harvest some, and there are some harvestable side shoots out there:



Herbs are just outrageously beautiful, and walking past that bed smells heavenly! Look at the sage, with parsley to the front (bottom center of the photo):



Tomatoes? Sad, very sad. I have a few green ones, but they’re still small:



Zucchini has made it all the way up to tiny:


With equally tiny bean guys:



Now here’s an epic fail – yes folks, this is chard:



Fabulous year for strawberries, though. Sorry for the blurry photo! We keep eating bowls and bowls of them (we don’t grow enough here to do jam or freezing – they all get eaten fresh):



I’m letting my kale go to seed. It’s been such a wonderful plant and to save seeds you’re supposed to let the seed pods dry out on the vine. Isn’t it wild?



Leeks growing along nicely:



Snow peas doing well – they never make it in to the kitchen, as the little girls are both safe for snow peas and they eat them all standing right next to the garden bed:



One lettuce bed doing nicely:


And so is the other:


Some things just aren’t coming up at all: Spinach, beets, onions, squash. Just don’t know what happened.

And that is the state of the garden, July 6th, Year 3 (I’m giving our vegetable garden it’s own calendar system ;-) and we’re in our third year).

A Bitty Project

We haven’t done any work on our ongoing remodel for awhile! Which is annoying, as when we last left this story we had moved everything out of the master bedroom in preparation for painting it. Meaning that for quite some time now (months, actually) we’ve had bedroom stuff in the living room and one of the bedrooms, and the Patriarch and I have been camping out on an old double mattress/boxsprings which was cheap when we bought it seventeen years ago and is pretty bad. We can hardly wait to move back in! But other projects, like the beds and the mystery-birthday-related project, have come first.

The last two weeks I’ve gotten a little chip done on it. Moved everything out of the big closet (and into the living room – yikes) and painted it. It was really awful. Because I’m not much of a photographer the hideousness won’t show, but the color was that old hospital green – almost pistachio but not as cute. But only parts of it had been painted, so there were strips of raw wallboard, penciled notes about where the shelves should be installed, and just scrapes and spills. I mixed some bright blue into a bowl of the gray we’re intending to use on the walls in the master.

Before shot:




Now we can put our clothes away, which is a good opportunity for decluttering! I’ve recently thinned my clothes, but this closet holds the Patriarch’s hung clothes, and the hanging clothes of all four girls as well.

In other remodel project news, Nigel has been taking down our old gazebo. Kind of sad in a way, because from a distance it is attractive. It was well-placed and added a nice vertical note to the yard. But it was already rotting when we moved in 14 years ago. We had it repainted a few years back, but there was no saving it at that point, really. Now it’s just a safety hazard. The roof pieces fall off at random moments, and the floor is rotted in far too many spots.

009 It does look nice from a distance (ignore weeds, OK?)


005 Trying to find a safe patch for the ladder


002Looks different back there now!

The Patriarch has some drywall patching to do before we can paint the master bedroom. Having poured some of the wall paint into a bowl, I’m a little worried that it won’t read the light silvery gray we were aiming for, but rather just read white, so I’ll paint a big swatch while I wait for his part to be done.

That’s the little bit o’ remodel from Shady Fifth for this week.