Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ASPARAGUS and Branding

I know I recently posted about asparagus, but it's THAT time of year. I just love that we've found several patches of wild asparagus on our place. It's so fun to go out and brave the ticks, porcupines, skunk and mud to bring in a bucket full of asparagus.

My middle daughter was in control of the camera this day. This picture is of me and my youngest as we hold hands after a short excursion looking for asparagus.


This is our haul from that pick. Hopefully we can get out again before too long because the spears get too tall.

Also, we were invited to join in on some branding. I've lived in this area my entire life and there are plenty of people who live their lives by raising livestock. Good old fashioned cowboys and cowgirls. I have always lived on the fringe between country girl and city girl. So, though I know what it means to raise livestock and live that kind of life, I've never been involved in much regarding large livestock like cows and horses. When I was presented with the opportunity to become part of the cowboy way, if for only a few hours, I jumped at the chance and was not disappointed.

Some of you will already know what it's like to deal with the large livestock, but the thing that struck me first was how loud those cows and calves are. Especially when you separate them. I know what it means to brand an animal - hot iron burns a brand into them. It seems cruel to some, but it's something that has been going on for ages and I do believe, after watching how these people treat their animals, it's done out of necessity. If there was another, better way, I'm sure it would be utilized.

My youngest, about a month ago, told me, "Mom, one of my life dreams is to ride a white horse." After all the work was done and we'd been fed - one of the best meals of my life, I might add - she got to ride a white horse. After her ride was over she was extremely excited and told me, "Mom! I fulfilled one of my life's dreams! I got to ride a white horse!" That just happens to be one of MY favorite moments of my life. It made me happy to hear her say that - probably even happier than she was. 


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Animals and Babies Growing Up

Those of you who follow me regularly should already know we keep chickens, ducks, and geese. We've also decided to keep rabbits. We've been talking about it for a couple of years, but just haven't had the money to get started. This year we were offered a female for free and took it as a sign. We went ahead with the rest of the plan.

Also, those of you who follow me regularly might know that we buy chickens every year for the purpose of filling our freezer and that is also the purpose of the rabbits. They are stinking adorable, soft, and sweet. Currently we only have two rabbits, a male and a female. We are also keeping them in the house until we can build an area into the chicken coop that will allow them some protection from the birds. I do not trust those birds. I'm afraid they will peck at the rabbits if they have easy access to them.

The white one is the little girl and the brown/gray one is the little boy. They both have figured out how to open their cages and every once in a while we look down to see a rabbit walking around in our living room.

Not only have we been busy with new rabbits, the kitten we found on our doorstep last August has had kittens of her own. Letting her have kittens was not our intention but she slipped under the radar and went "catting" around a couple months sooner than we'd expected her to. This is a picture of her, Minerva, and her kittens when they are only a few hours old. We ended up with two females and three males. We hope to find homes for the girls (already have two people in line) and may keep and fix the three males.

The baby geese I posted about a while back have grown, and grown, and grown. They are now almost as big as our adult Toulouse goose. You can see them in the first picture, behind the Toulouse, Matilda. Thankfully, they are still docile and don't mind us being around the rest of the flock. Matilda, on the other hand, is a sneaky girl who talks nice and then will reach around to nip at your fingers when you try to feed her grass.  The second picture is one of our new babies who will be kept for eggs. No freezer time for her in the near future. She's a Brahma. The last picture is a closeup of Matilda. Still not sure if she was looking to pose for the camera or looking for the best opportunity to nip at me. Every time I go out and try to make friends I imagine the next day's headlines: Local Resident Dies in Goose Attack.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Busy Times and Special Finds

We've had a busy couple of weeks. Between homeschooling and work and searching for hidden eggs I haven't found much time, actually - any time, to write. It's sad, but we've still been productive around the homestead.

My oldest attended her junior prom with her best friend and their dates. I don't normally post pictures of my kids online but I love this picture so much I couldn't resist. My daughter is in the black dress. They all had a great time.

 My two younger girls and I have been working hard on learning addition (for the seven-year-old), multiplication (for the nine-year-old), reading different stories and books, and all kinds of other fun things. But, since we can disrupt our schedule in the middle of the day we decided to hunt for the "hidden egg" a local radio station hid on Easter. They release a hint every day until the egg is found. The radio station's last clue was a dead giveaway for us and we drove directly to the hiding spot. As we drove into a parking lot my middle daughter said, "Mom, I bet it's in that bush right there." She was pointing to a little evergreen bush with a nice round hole near the bottom of it. As soon as we were parked my youngest was out of the vehicle and on her way to the bush. She stuck her head near the hole and then reached inside and pulled out a baggie with a yellow plastic Easter egg inside. She said, in a matter-of-fact tone, "Huh. Found it." We giggled all the way back to the vehicle and immediately called my brother. He'd been hunting for it, too.

The prize package was substantial. We won two golfing passes at a local golf course, a party for four at a local bowling alley, a nights stay in at a nice resort in the hills, a brand new iPad (Yay!), and a foosball table! Honestly, those prizes are all very wonderful, but the best part of the whole thing was the hunting. The next best part was the finding. The prizes are just an added bonus.

Those are only some of the things we've been up to lately. The wild asparagus is sprouting and growing tall enough to pick so we went on another hunt. Our haul wasn't worth as much as the Easter egg find, but it was just as rewarding. There's not much else that can compare to fresh, wild asparagus. The season has just begun so I'm sure we'll be getting more, but our first harvest was enough for a meal. The plants are well established so a lot of the spears are much larger than those you find in the grocery store. I thought that meant they'd be woody, but I've since found out that it's the height of the spear, not the diameter, that determines the texture. The diameter is just an indication of the plant's age.

We've also been doing a lot with our animals since it's spring. I'll be making a separate post about them for next week.  I'll have some pictures of the babies. Who doesn't love baby animal pictures? 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review by Alex Wise - Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi
Yann Martel

Book Review submitted by Alex Wise

Usually when I read books, I stick to two or three genres. These consist of fantasy, mystery, and sometimes science fiction. So as one can expect, when I picked up this novel, I expected to either stop a few pages in or read it over the course of a couple months and never think about it again. I never expected to read it within a day of picking it up. Nor did I expect to absolutely fall in love with the author's voice and the main character's whimsical view on life.

At the beginning of the book the author somehow managed to take Pi's childhood and, although it wasn't anything too special, make it funny and interesting. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the book was the explanation of Pi's name and how he got both his true name and his nickname. It was written in a way that made me pity Pi and laugh at the same time. I also loved all of the other characters. Pie's father with his businessman attitude that led him to think of a radical solution to the dangers of running a zoo with two young children, his mother's reluctant support of his religious views, and his brother's behavior towards him are some of the things that make the book relatable. Due to the fact that they weren't flat characters, when Pi lost his family I could sympathize with him much better than I would have been able to if the author had just revolved completely around Pi and left them undeveloped and undetailed.

When Pi was trapped in the lifeboat with a tiger, a hyena, a rat, and an orangutan I found myself clinging to every word and even when the book was dark and suspenseful, there was always a moment of humorous relief to make the suspense bearable. The book is like a batch of perfectly flavored salsa: Extremely intense with just enough salty-sweetness to give it a delightful tangy taste that tickles the back of your throat as it goes down.

All in all, I loved this book and I wouldn't be opposed to reading it again. I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who loves a humorous story with a plot that is nothing less than epic.

To follow any more reviews from this author please go to her blog: Just Geekin' Around

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spring 2017

Let me preface this post with the disclosure that I'm scheduling posts ahead of time to be sure I have something coming up for my blog. This is, as the title suggests, a celebration of nicer weather.

I was just outside checking on my plants and can happily report the asparagus is starting to peek through the ground as well as the rhubarb. The trees are starting to bud as well as the lilac bushes.  I only hope the weather doesn't get too nasty again.

We recently got a couple of baby geese, Embden, and were given two Plymouth Rock chicks.