Monday, April 29, 2013

a knitted pony

I think I may have stumbled on the perfect knitted toy for little girls. I made a pony from this pattern for my niece's sixth birthday, and she loves it!  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

springtime knitting

I think knitting is my nesting. And, well, nesting is my nesting. And perhaps knitting is my break from all that exhaustive cleaning and tidying and rearranging. For, you see, my second labor is looking likely to be much like my first (read: complicated), and I have this urge to put everything right and lovely just in case I, well...die. Oh, that sounds so terrible and even worse when written down, but it's a major motivational force; something akin to having on clean underwear (which I assure you I most certainly do. My hair and shoes will likely be dirty, buy my undies - and now my house - clean!) As the little girl around here says: clean. nice. dry. It is also said little girl who has a drawer full of sweet old springtime dresses picked up by her thrifty mama, but who instead wants only to wear her rather garish Christmas footed pajamas all day, every day. Never mind that within 5 minutes of playing, they are covered in dog hair, certainly offending my nesting sensibilities. 

I may have no control over wardrobe choices, but at least I can manage to contain some of the animal messes. The fowl have all been banished to the garage (don't worry, they still get loads of visits and attention each day), and are growing so quickly that they should be out to pasture soon!

Onto the knitting: I finished a hat for baby-boy-to-be, much like this one, using all the bits of leftover yarn from the longies I knit awhile back. I might not be able to resist making a bear hat like this one as well. I'm working on a blanket now, also from the Vintage Knits for Modern Babies book, although it only gets attention late at night or when the weather doesn't permit us to be outdoors working on the garden. Today is shaping up to be beautiful out - a bit sunny and a tad warmer - much unlike yesterday, which was very cold with a foot of snow and still falling. It will mostly be melted today, though, if you can imagine that - it's what we call Springtime in the Rockies!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

...and this little chickie has leg problems

Here is a harsh reality about bringing so many animals into your life - statistics alone dictate that some are going to have problems. No venture is ever perfect, and while much is in your power to control (or at least try to control), some things simply are not. And some decisions are the hardest to make in the worst possible way, where you nearly will that the choice be made for you. Because making a difficult choice tends to lead to existential crises, particularly when death is involved. Is this animal suffering? I'm not a chicken, so how can I presume what suffering is for them? Am I culling out of convenience because spending so much of my time and energy each day on rehabilitation that I'm skeptical will work is draining my own reserves? Is it that I can't stand to watch perceived suffering, and it is actually my own emotional pain that I'm seeking to alleviate? These are my unanswered questions.

I'm quite indecisive by nature, but I have to say that farming has made me more confident in my decisions. Oftentimes, issues need to be dealt with right now, leaving little room for much except action based on instinct or common sense. But this isn't one of those moments either, so while I try various things, practice watchful waiting and observation, and ponder exactly what to do with this chickie, here are some resources I've found helpful of late:

-Splinting to correct spraddle leg and curly toe

-Curly toe and riboflavin deficiency (although I've read elsewhere that the problem may be a genetic inability to bind, and therefore absorb, riboflavin - in which case no amount of therapy is going to work).

Fingers and chickie toes crossed for a happy outcome. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh, the mess.

I spent all morning yesterday doing some good clean up work in our mudroom - shuffling brooders, filling bucket after bucket of spent bedding, and caring for all our new feathered babies. We lost one little meat bird chick this morning, who I had tried to nurse back to health, but who I knew was likely going to pass on. The rest are vigorous, and all received a fresh bed of pine shavings, a splash of apple cider vinegar in their water, and a little sprinkling of diatomaceous earth in their topped off food. I also refilled the glass jar of cotton balls I keep by the sink in there, which has become my pasty-butt cleaning station.

After this current cold snap subsides, the pullets' (the ones who started this whole mess!) brooder will be moved to the garage, as we wean them from the heat lamp in preparation for moving them to the barn to join the other laying hens. The ducklings were staying with the meat chicks, but now have their own little box due to the huge wet mess they make (an adorable wet mess, mind you), eliciting plenty of "ay yi yi's" from my little girl whenever we went to check on them. She goes in there to visit often, coming back to report that everyone's "alright."

Monday, April 8, 2013

turkeys need love

So, what have I learned in these first few days of raising our very first turkey poults?

1. They are not scary. They are, in fact, highly lovable.

2. Turkey mamas are incredibly attentive, and turkey poults incredibly needy.

3. Since these poults' mama was an incubator, they have imprinted me as their mother turkey, especially one little guy who for the first night in the brooder cheeped loudly and constantly in the wee hours of the morning looking for his mama. Now I hold him and pet him and give him lots of attention before bedtime. He falls asleep in my hands before I put him down, and then seems a lot calmer most of the night.

4. Occasionally, one will somehow end up on his back, unable to get up without a little nudge.

5. It's helpful to keep reminding them where their food and water is, to make sure they're getting enough. (And they love a bit of mashed up boiled egg as a treat for a little extra protein, as well as going outside to forage).

6. If you want some training as to what it's like to parent a newborn baby of the human variety, you should get some turkey poults. All of the above seems to apply to both species.

Friday, April 5, 2013

around the farm

It's going to be a good year for the basics - garlic is up and looking great (surviving many an accidental toddler trampling), and a big bed of onion seeds just went in. I'm hoping to get the rest of the 20 pounds of potatoes in the ground over the weekend, too.

Do you see that little foot to the left? Hmrn.

Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are sprouting in all the south facing windows. Last week I seeded a row of greens (cold-hearty lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, and bok choy) but nothing's emerged yet. 

A lot more feathered friends have just been added to our brood! A big batch of Freedom Ranger meat birds, a few bronze breasted turkeys (which kind of scare me already - not exactly sure why), and the sweetest, most fun-loving, happy-go-lucky mixed batch of ducklings, whom I am totally smitten with. They even come when you call them. Profoundly adorable. We now have no less than 52 fowl in our midst, which I find quite funny since I've never been much of a "bird person." I suppose I am now though!

We're spending as much time as possible with our hands in the soil, finding worms, and splashing in puddles.

These days are so full of good things. Everywhere I look I see new life beginning; Animals growing and grazing, and something new being planted every day. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for all this beauty around me. 

I know this seven-months-pregnant mama is going to have a hard time keeping up with the animals and especially the garden this year, but that's okay. Spring is the time for dreaming big.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

in my kitchen {new things using up old stores}

Homemade sweetened condensed milk from fresh milk. Used in making Vietnamese yogurt and literally devoured.

Homemade sweet chili sauce. Why, oh why, did I used to buy this stuff when it is so easy and delicious to make? I used 2 red jalapenos that I froze from last years' garden, along with our homegrown garlic. 

Vietnamese "shaking beef," Bo luc lac, using much of my alarmingly dwindling garlic supply. Only half a dozen heads left. We're not going to make it until the next harvest in July, but thankfully I planted at least three times more than last year!

The last pumpkin, used to make delicious muffins and spice brownies.  

Time for some new crops to start growing already!

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