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Chickens, Chicks, Eggs, and a Baby

Sometimes, in life, decisions come back to haunt you.  Such is the case in our home right now…every time I go to put Baby to sleep.  Bedtime, naptime…they both present challenges right now that no mother should ever have to face.  It’s all because of one decision made nearly 7 years ago…the decision to let my husband have his way. 

He wore me down, really.  I wrote a post about it, so, if you wish, you can go back and read all about it.  He wanted chickens.  If there was one thing in this world I didn’t want, it was chickens!  It was the one rule I had when we first moved out here.  No chickens.  How hard is that?  Honestly?  Well, apparently it was hard enough, because we did eventually wind up with chickens.  Lots of chickens.Chickens in the barnyard

Most of the time, the chickens and I keep the peace.  They stay out near their coops behind the barn.  I do my thing up at the house.  I happily eat their eggs and feed them to my kids all year.  But, once a year, in the fall, we hatch eggs*.  The lucky ones will grow to be replacements for our aging hens and roosters, but many will eventually grace our dining room table.  You may be wondering at this point what hatching chicken eggs has to do with my story, but don’t worry…I’ll get there.

The weather in Texas during the fall can be a little erratic.  One day, it’s 95 degrees.  When you walk outside the next morning, there’s been a cold front that has pushed through (often with plenty of wind damage in its wake), and it’s only 52.  Never to fear, it will be back up to 85 by lunch.  Chicken eggs require a relatively consistent 99.5 degrees during their 3 week incubation time.  With the fickle weather outdoors, that just isn’t possible this time of year…unless you have a hen with an inclination to stay with her eggs.  We have plenty of hens, but we have yet to produce a hen that is a good enough mother to stay with a nest of eggs longer than about 3 days.  We’re generally happy when they don’t break their eggs…asking one to sit on a nest may be a tall order!  So, up in the loft above our bedroom sit two egg incubators.

Hens hunting grasshoppersThey have been there, full of eggs for three weeks.

About a week ago, we began to strain our ears, listening for the first little cheeps and pecks coming from the loft.  Then, on Friday, it finally came…with a cheep cheep here, and a cheep cheep there…here a cheep, there a cheep, everywhere a cheep cheep.

Now, the eggs are hatching, bringing forth new life to feed us for another year.  The kids get so excited, and watch for their daddy to head up the stairs.  They know that when he comes down, he’ll be carrying all the fluffy little things that are ready to make the move from the incubator to the brooder in the garage.  It’s a wonderful, joyous occasion.

Wonderful and joyous…

…Until it’s time to put Baby down to sleep.

You see, chicks are really loud when they hatch.  Their doing it in my bedroom in the loft, remember?  Baby’s crib is in our room.  So, it’s me, my husband, Baby, and a bunch of hatching eggs.  We’re one big happy family!

Here I sit on my bed, nursing Baby (who isn’t really very good at  the whole sleeping thing to start with).  She drowsily starts to slip off to dream land.  I gently get up to lay her in her crib.  As soon as her little body touches the mattress, “CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”  It’s rather jarring, I must admit.  Baby is now wide awake, and is not pleased that her mother had the audacity to put her down just as the dreaded sleep monster was about to overtake her.  The chickens, sensing my ire, immediately desist.

“Dad-gum chickens!”  I mutter under my breath.  

I pick up my dear, sweet, non-sleeping child.  I comfort her, and she calms down.  She’s not hungry anymore, but maybe she’ll settle for a lullaby and some rocking.  So I sing a few verses of Jesus Loves Me and Baby is getting sleepy again.  It’s time for the dreaded transfer maneuver.  I gently lay her down, and she immediately rolls to her side…a sure sign that sleep is coming!

“CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”

I want to pull my hair out!  No mother should ever have to try to put a baby to bed with a loft full of chicks!  Why me?

I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I surrendered during the Battle of Chickens way back in 2010.  Now, despite the fact that “I wouldn’t have to do anything with the chickens,” I now have chickens in my bedroom…my bedroom!  My baby can’t sleep because of the chickens.  If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d have chicks in my bedroom, I’d have had you committed.

In a week, they’ll all be hatched, dried, and out in the brooder in the garage.  There will once again be peace between the chickens and I.  Only the white noise of air conditioner and noise machine will remain in my bedroom.  It will be back to just the three of us…me, my husband, and the baby.

Well, until the second batch starts to hatch in a few weeks anyway…


*We hatch eggs in the fall instead of the spring because our winters aren’t cold enough to freeze little chickens, but our summers are hot enough to cook them!


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Fall Homeschool Bucket List

It’s almost Fall here in Texas.  It’s that time of the year when we Texans start compulsively checking the 10 day weather forecast for that first 89 degree high along with a 50% chance of rain.  The autumnal equinox means little to us.  It’s all about that first real cold front.  While we impatiently await the return of fall, I’ve put together a little fall homeschool bucket list of sorts.

Since we homeschool our children, we really have a lot of freedom.  Some times during the year, the weather gets so nice that you just have to take advantage of that freedom…at least a little!  But, alas!  We have to make sure we get our work done, too!  We’ve been cooped up in the house quite a bit because of the dangerously hot conditions.  So, we are really anxious to get out and enjoy some nice fall weather!  Here’s my little fall homeschool bucket list of activities to celebrate the return of fall, but also get some learning done in the meantime.

So, what are some good ways to take advantage of the change of seasons in your homeschool?

A Fall Homeschool Bucket List

1. Plan a fall-themed unit study.

Make one yourself, or find one online.  A quick web search will pull up plenty of options.  Some are free, others will cost a few dollars, but it’s a great option if you just don’t have time to create something of your own.  

T is for turkey, P is for pumpkin…there are plenty of phonics games you can play.  Count leaves for some math time.  Head outside and do some plant identification for science.  The possibilities are endless!

2. Use fall-themed notebooking pages.

As luck would have it, I have some you can download for free.  Print them out, use them for your family.

Using themed pages really helps us get in the mood for fall, even if the weather hasn’t quite gotten there yet.  These pages would work wonderfully to learn about the history of Halloween and the first Thanksgiving as well!

Click here to download your free Fall-themed notebooking pages.

3. Take school outside for the day.

The sun is shining, there’s a soft, cool breeze blowing.  You know full well that no one is going to pay attention to their work while they look out the window, longing to be outside.  So, pack up your books, grab a blanket to sit on, and sprawl out on the lawn for lessons.  The fresh air works wonders for keeping the mind focused!

4. Take a nature walk.

What better way can you think of to celebrate the arrival of Fall than taking everyone on a nature walk?  Collect some leaves, watch some insects busily preparing for the coming of winter.  Enjoy the beautiful weather.  You don’t have to go far…your backyard is probably teeming with life you never take the time to notice!  Have everyone slow down, and take a look at the world around you.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

5. Learn a little plant biology.

Why do leaves change color in the fall?  Why do they lose them?  For that matter, why does that cedar tree get to keep its needles?  Do a little research project as a family and find out the answers to all those fall-related pressing questions.  This one is easy to adjust for different age levels, too.  Your preschoolers will enjoy making the collection (on your nature walk!), and you can turn it into a full-blown biology research project on photosynthesis for your middle or high schoolers.

6. Plant a fall garden.

Turnips, broccoli, carrots…lots of things grow wonderfully in the fall.  Make a little fall garden.  Learn all about root vegetables.  You can even make observations about growth.  Keep a lab notebook and take measurements.  When the project is done, you’ll have a nice little salad!

7. Make some leaf rubbings.

Ah, the classic fall art project!  It brings back memories of my own childhood!  This is the kind of project that even the smallest of your pupils can enjoy.  Plus, the mess is minimal…definitely my kind of art project!  Just gather several different kinds of leaves (on your nature walk, remember?), then put them under a sheet of paper on a hard, flat surface.  Turn a crayon on its side and rub back and forth.  The results really are quite nice.

8. Make a Thanksgiving tree.

You can approach this one several different ways.  You can use sticks that you may find out in your yard, or you can make a paper tree on your wall.  Then, use leaf shaped cutouts, to write (or draw a picture of) something that you are grateful for each morning.  You could even cut around your leaf rubbings and use them for the leaves on the tree.

9. Keep your eyes to the skies for birds that migrate.

This is the time of year you will start seeing all kinds of migratory animals moving around.  One afternoon, why not grab a blanket and find a nice spot on the grass to spread it out and watch for birds.  

While you’re waiting, make up stories about the cloud shapes moving by.

When you finally see a flock of birds moving by, notice the kinds of sounds they make, and the way they fly by.  Use your observations as a jumping off point for a research project if you like.

10. Start a nature journal.

A nature journal doesn’t have to be fancy.  We just use a $.25 spiral notebook (I stock up on these, though, when they’re on back-to-school specials for $.20 each…we use them for a LOT of things!).  It’s a blank canvas.  Bear likes to draw pictures of things she finds outside.  Once, she found a bunch of snails and had them make trails all over a piece of paper.  She glued the paper inside the spiral.  Then, she wrote all kinds of observations about them on the facing page.  She also writes nature-themed poetry.  It’s quite a collection!  

11. Start a weather journal.

This time of year is famous for its weather changes.  Keep a record of them this year.  It’s fun to look back the following year and watch the differences, too.  Chart the temperature (pick a specific time to record each day), write observations about storms or cold fronts, and note the wind.  Again, you don’t have to be fancy.  A simple spiral will do.  If you want something a little cuter, a web search will return plenty of options!

12. Take an outdoor field trip.

My kids love going to the zoo.  But during the summer, at 105 degrees in the shade, it just ain’t gonna happen!  After that first glorious cold front, however, it’s time to load up and go to all those outdoor spots.  

Don’t forget about historical sights, too.  Here where we live, we’re only about an hour from Washington-on-the-Brazos which is full of our rich Texan history!

I also have a couple spots to see dinosaur fossils, and a cave trip on the radar.  

Do a little digging to find some cool spots in your area.  Lots of places even offer homeschooler discounts, or special homeschool days.  Find out all you can!  It’ll be worth it!

13. Take a trip to see family.

We always take a trip to see my side of the family over the week of Thanksgiving.  It gets us out of the house a little.  It’s also a great time to take advantage of all those cool places the Dallas area (where my family lives) has to offer as well.  

Take advantage of your time with family, too.  Make sure your kids get to hear plenty of embarrassing stories about you as a youngster!  But, also make sure that they hear stories about life when your older family members were growing up too.  It helps bring history to life!  

  • My great-grandparents met during the 1918 Flu epidemic…my great-grandfather’s family was particularly hard-hit.
  • My grandfather hunted a crocodile while he was stationed in New Guinea during World War II.  He was later sent home after experiencing complications from yellow fever.
  • My great uncle trained pilots during World War II.
  • My grandfather’s family were sharecroppers.  His parents had 5 kids, just like we do.

These were real people…my people!  Your kids will never tire of hearing family stories.  Just make sure you’re paying attention, because they will want to hear them over and over!

14. Make a work day to rake up all the leaves in your yard.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from working those brain muscles to flex some skeletal muscle instead. Have a family work day to rake up all those leaves in yard. You’re giving your brains a break, enjoying the weather, and practicing some important life skills all at the same time. Just don’t forget to jump in the piles when you’re done!

15. Learn how to make a fall treat together.

Working in the kitchen with small children can try your patience.  But, it can also be a great bonding and teaching experience if you let it.  So roll up those sleeves and find a fall treat to cook all together!

So, what’s on your fall homeschool bucket list?

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My kids have toys.  Tons of toys.  Toys, toys everywhere.  They have so many toys, they don’t all fit in their rooms at the same time.  Plus, in case those aren’t enough, they get more toys every Christmas and every birthday.  That’s 10 new toys coming into the house every year…not even counting the grandparent contribution!  So, what do they do with all of those toys?

Well…sadly, not much.  Don’t get me wrong, they do enjoy the toys, and they play with them from time to time.  However, most of the time, I note them playing with all sorts of other things…not toys.  It does beg the question, “Why do we bother?”

Here’s my list of some of my kids’ favorite not toy toys.  See if you can relate:

1. Sticks

What is so cool about sticks?  I guess it’s because they can do anything you want them to!  The biggest ones are often made into clubhouse teepees.  I’ve also seen fishing poles, horses, guns…pretty much everything can be mimicked with a stick!  Plus, once you’re done with them, you can throw them in the pond and make the dog chase them…and who doesn’t like making the dog take a swim?

 

2. Rocks

We have a plethora of rocks around here.  Not only can the kids dig them up from the dirt, our driveway is also made from rocks.  If we go on a walk, our road is made of rock.  So, we have no shortage of rocks.  We go out walking empty-handed, and by the time we come home, I’m carrying a huge load of rocks in the stroller, my pockets, and even in my hands.  Wait, why am I carrying all the rocks???

Once back at the house, they are investigated thoroughly.  Then, the ones that contain the proper level of sparkliness will go on to become eggs in a pretend bird’s nest, or dinosaur nest, or turtle nest…you get the picture.  The ones that don’t make the cut either go back in the driveway (if they know Mommy or Daddy are watching) or they are flung into the pond one by one so that, you guessed it, the dog will chase them.

3. String

Oh, all the uses of string!  Tie some string to a stick, and now you have your very own fishing pole.  If you can find a piece that’s long enough, tie it together at the ends, and now you have a glamorous necklace to use for your next ball (it’s starting in 5 minutes in front of the refrigerator).  Bear once tied several knots on one end of a piece of string to make something that vaguely resembled a dragon.  Everyone else immediately had to have a dragon pet of their own.  We had string dragons floating around the house for days!

4. Cardboard box-small

Ah, the cardboard box…it’s infamous!  Any time we receive a package in the mail, the children immediately claim the box and the bubble wrap (see #6).  Why do children like a cardboard box so much?  We adults will never understand.  I guess all our make-believe magic grew up and moved away…or maybe got packed away in one of those boxes!  Cars, trucks, boats, aquariums…those little boxes can be magical! 

You never know what they’re going to put in the box, either.  Last night, I came out of my room, after having fed Baby.  When I emerged from my room, I was confronted with a highly suspicious sight.  Three out of four of my mobile children had found a box that my dad had sent something to us in.  They were standing around the box, and Bear was hurriedly closing the top of the box.  

“What do you have in that box?” I demanded in my most authoritative Mommy voice.

<Giggles>

Bear flashed me one of her patented sheepish grins and piped up, “Monkey!”

Maniacal laughter from inside the box ensued.  Then all the children started laughing.  Monkey popped out of the box.

Their dad and I started laughing too.  “Alright,” I admitted, “with you four around, perhaps I should have asked who!”

I have no idea what kind of game they were playing, but it sure was funny…especially after it aroused my suspicion!

5. Cardboard box-large

Need I say more?  What parent hasn’t bought their kids the best toy of the century only to have it thrown by the wayside in favor of a refrigerator box?  Shocking, but true.  Jails, castles, houses…the possibilities are endless!

6. Bubble Wrap

Lizard starts jumping up and down any time she sees the delivery truck bouncing up the driveway.  She’s already calling out, “I get the bubble wrap! I get the bubble wrap!” before I even get out the door to claim the package.  I have to meet our drivers at their trucks…they’re scared of Patch (as are all the meter readers, and the guy who works for the county grading the roads).  LIzard’s still bouncing when I come back in, and I can barely make it in the door, because they now all want a piece of bubble wrap.

Oh, the disappointment that ensues when a package comes with brown paper stuffing instead of bubble wrap!  There is wailing and gnashing of teeth!

I have to avoid the shipping materials aisle at WalMart just as meticulously as I do the toy aisle.  At least if I want to keep the “Momma, can I have?”s away.  You should have seen Lizard’s face the first time she noticed the shelf full of giant rolls of bubble wrap!  No birthday or Christmas morning has yet been able to compare to the joy and desire mirrored in those little eyes that day at WalMart!

7. Strangely melted metal

They call this little gem “Rudy”.  When they first found it in the yard, one of the children decided that it looked like the big, bad dinosaur creature from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs that Buck called Rudy.  I’m not actually sure what it really is, but we’re pretty sure it originated from the burn barrel.  Don’t worry…we checked it for sharp edges.

 

8. Shovels

Yes, my kids play with shovels. Not the toy shovels you find in the sandbox seasonal aisle or the role-play toy aisle, they ‘play’ with real, full-sized shovels.  Every once in a while, someone gets a hankerin’ to dig a hole.  It makes no sense to me, but, hey…they have a blast.  Their Daddy will give them shovels and real jobs that need to be done.  They get a shovel, Daddy gets a fence post hole, and, after they’re done Mommy gets a quiet afternoon nap time since they’ve exhausted themselves digging a hole!

9. Pile of bricks

A few years ago, while we were visiting my parents’ house up in the DFW area, we were over at my grandparents’ house, visiting with them one afternoon.  My granddad had a pile of bricks stacked up next to the shed behind their house.  It was a fairly decent-sized pile of bricks.  Bear found them while playing outside and immediately set to work building a pint-sized castle.  She asked to go back over to their house every afternoon.  My granddad was so amused with her building, that at Christmas (the same Christmas that the giant Lincoln logs appeared), he sent at least half of his pile of bricks down with my parents so that Bear could have bricks at her house too.  Since then, they’ve been castles, walls, chairs, stages, corrals for wild stick horses…you name it!

10. Old coffee cans

Oh, the fun you can have with an old discarded coffee can!  My husband buys his coffee from Sams, you know, the big, giant 2 pound canister.  When he’s used all the coffee inside, the cans (or rather, plastic canisters) meander out to the barn where they are then given a second life as a feed scoop, or egg transport device.  If, however, the children gain control of them first, however, many interesting things can happen to these unsuspecting containers.  They make fantastic sandbox toys or mud pie makers. 

They like to collect rainwater in these cans and turn them into “soup”…the main ingredients of which appears to be water, dirt, leaves, grass, and sticks (to give it just the right amount of texture).

Sometimes, though, their stick horses become stick cows, and the rainwater in the coffee cans is actually milk.  With the milk they collect, they can make cakes or ice cream…both of which look strikingly similar to aforementioned “soup”.  Woe to the onlooker who guesses incorrectly!

I could write an entire post about all the uses for old coffee cans…maybe I will!

 


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Our Favorite Outdoor Summer Activities

It’s summer here in central Texas…and it’s HOT!  But, with four mobile kids, being stuck inside all day, despite the heat, just isn’t an option.  So, today, I thought I’d write about some of my kids’ favorite outdoor summer activities.  Some are childhood classics, some are definitely ‘farm kid’ pastimes, and others will just downright make you cringe!  Keep reading, if you dare! 

1. Playing in the Pool

What kid can resist playing in the pool?  We make occasional trips to the “big pool”…you know, the kind where the water is higher than your ankles.  But here at home, we don’t have anything fancy like that.  We buy a wading pool at the beginning of each summer.  We still haven’t found a way to keep them usable from summer to summer, so we have to get a new one every year.

I spend many an afternoon watching the kids splashing around.  Their splashes keep me just cool enough to stand being outside!  They play all sorts of imaginary games.  Dolphins, whales, “fast fish” (whatever those are), crocodiles, sea turtles, and even the occasional mermaid…my front yard is full of aquatic wildlife when the pool is out.  My husband and I are constantly amazed by the amount of communication skills that go into a single game of make-believe!

Plus, we (and by we, I mean my husband) can give the garden a good watering when it’s time to empty the pool.  Nearly everything – even playtime – has to pull double duty around here!

2. Rope Swing

Sometimes, though, playtime is actually an object’s second duty.  Several months ago, my husband slaughtered a pair of hogs.  I know many who read this may find that horrifying, but that’s just how life out here works.  Meat doesn’t come from your grocer’s freezer…not originally, anyway.  But, I digress…

My husband put a rope up in one of the trees to aid in processing the hogs after they were slaughtered.  The next day, our kids came out and found the rope still hanging from the tree branch.  They didn’t see a hog rope, they saw a fun time!  My kids are weird, remember?  They stand on the side of my old truck, hold onto the rope and jump off, swinging across the yard.

Occasionally, only under proper supervision (they know they’re not allowed unless one of their parents is right next to them), they get to “foot swing”.  They put a foot into the loop in the rope and (usually) their Daddy swings them up, high and fast.  Their ol’ Momma has even tried it a time or two.  It feels like flying…at least until you can’t hold on any longer!

3. Giant Building Logs

The. Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever!

These logs were a collaboration between my dad and my husband.  My husband came up with the idea, and my dad brought them to life.  These are landscaping timbers cut into varying lengths.  Then, Dad drilled holes at even increments along the flat sides of the timbers.  Pipes can then be inserted by the builder through all the layers to make sturdy structures…much like Lincoln logs, but on a much bigger scale.

These logs have built castles, houses, boats, backyard fences, corrals…you name it!  If Bear is missing, you can almost bet that she’ll be outside building something.  The rest of the kids really get into it as well, giving her ideas of new structures to build.

4. Bubbles

What list of outdoor activities would be complete without bubbles?  I usually make our own bubbles at home with a little Dawn, water and sugar…otherwise, we’d go broke buying bubbles all the time!  The kids really enjoy blowing bubbles.  They especially like to chase each other’s bubbles across the yard in hopes of popping them before they fall in the grass or float over the pond.  Occasionally, a bubble will float past a dog who will try to catch it.  Sadly, the dogs never have anything to show in victory, other than a bad taste in their mouth!

5. Catch

I know what you’re thinking when you read that title.  But, you’re probably wrong.  Our Border Collie, Patch likes playing with the kids.  She also likes playing catch.  A lot.  She’s usually the dog that ends up catching bubbles.  But, Patch will try to catch pretty much anything thrown in the air…tennis balls, sticks, dirt, fertilizer (much to my husband’s consternation), and of course, balls of mud.

One of the kids’ favorite variations on this game is throwing small twigs or pebbles into the pond.  Patch will then take a flying leap into the water (what’s not funny about that?) to try to retrieve whatever was thrown in.  If was a stick, she’s usually successful.  However, if it was a pebble. she’ll swim around desperately trying to find it.  Of course, the children think this is quite hilarious.  I wind up with four sets of muddy feet and a dog covered in pond scum.  What joy is mine!

6. Pond Hunts

Our pond starts to dry up in the late spring.  If we’re lucky, we get enough rain during the early summer that our pond doesn’t completely dry out (our first year living here was 2011, and by the end of the summer the pond was bone dry, not even a muddy spot left!).  But, either way, it gets much smaller.  Our children often form a little roaming band and tramp around the pond bed finding interesting critters, or playing some imaginary game.  The game often degenerates into playing mud-ball catch with Patch.

Bear will often bring her nature journal and nature identification guide with her.  She takes great pleasure in finding, drawing, and identifying little creatures and plants that have made their home in the dried-up pond goo!  I’m glad they have fun, and I suppose it’s even a little educational.  But, again, it tends to end in mud-covered shoes, clothes, and dogs!

7. Mud Fight!

Ah, I’ve saved the best for last!  I know this one is likely to make many of you shudder.  But, this is, hands-down, my kids’ favorite game!  They run outside as soon as it stops raining (usually before if there’s no lightening) so they can get to the puddles before they dry up.  As you can tell from the pictures, they get gross!  But, it’s nothing a water hose can’t fix.  I suppose all that fun is ultimately worth the mess!  If you would like some tips on how to deal with kids and mud without losing your sanity, check out this post.

 

And, because you really can’t get a real feel for this last one from just a picture, here’s a little video clip:

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An Epic Battle

As we were sitting on the porch one evening recently, Lizard pointed out an epic battle happening right in front of us in the grass next to the pond.  A large garden spider and a red wasp were fighting to the death.  Lizard and I watched, glued to the action.  The spider was certainly bigger, but which way would the fight go?

Bear happened to walk by as Lizard and I were mesmerized by the action.

“What are you looking at?” she inquired.

I pointed to the wasp and spider, and Lizard piped in, “They’re fighting!”

“Woah, cool!”  Bear was sucked in.

“Quick!” I said to Bear, “Run in and get my camera.  It’s on the bookcase.”

A Victor Emerges

During the 6 seconds it took Bear to bring my camera outside, the battle was decided.  We watched the victor begin to drag the spoils of war off, presumably to consume in the near future.  

About that time, Andrew walked up to ask for some help.  He noticed that we were all focused on something in the grass.  Of course, he too wanted to know what we were doing.  We told him all about the battle that we had just witnessed.  We were still enthralled by the helpless victim being carried off the battlefield by his ruthless foe!  Watch what happens next:

A New Victor Emerges

Yes, that’s my husband’s big boot.  He was mad at the wasp for killing “his” spider.  “I like those spiders!  That wasp killed my spider!”

Now, if you know me very well, you also know that I have an irrational fear of wasps.  Those things are out to get me.  They leave everyone else alone, but they incessantly buzz toward my head…stingers at the ready!  So, I was rather amused to see the wasp meet his untimely demise…even if it did end our show a bit prematurely.  The kids were a little upset at first, but were quickly consoled by watching the video approximately 584 times in quick succession.  So, how could I possibly keep this little gem to ourselves?  Enjoy!


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How to treat insect stings fast!

This weekend, I was reminded of a fantastic little addition to our medicine cabinet when Bear accidentally encountered a couple yellow jackets while fishing with her Daddy. Insect stings hurt!  Especially yellow jackets…but it doesn’t matter what critter did the stinging, they just hurt.  There can sometimes be quite a bit of swelling after one of these encounters as well.  So, how do you take the sting out to make your little ones comfortable again?

I’ve heard several home remedies for insect stings in my life…most of them from my grandmother.  I’ve tried all of these at least once, and for the most part, she has a pretty good track record for knowing things that work…no matter how crazy they sound!  Now, my granddad, on the other hand, he wanted to put kerosene on everything…he even kept some in his medicine cabinet.  I wouldn’t suggest kerosene, but I do have a couple of my grandmother’s suggestions to pass along!

Maalox

Maalox was my grandmother’s go-to for insect stings…ant stings in particular.  I was terribly susceptible to ant stings when I was young.  If I got one on my toe, my foot would swell so badly that I couldn’t put shoes on within an hour.  I grew out of it for the most part, but they’re still a nuisance!  Grandmother would dab liquid Maalox onto my stings, and, while it didn’t help the excessive swelling too much, it really did help the pain.

Meat Tenderizer

A doctor at my university’s student health center actually suggested meat tenderizer when I was bit by a spider (not an insect, I know) in my dorm room.  I tried it…you actually make a paste to apply by adding water (some folks say to use vinegar instead, but I haven’t tried it that way).  It worked pretty well to take the pain out, but there was still a lot of swelling, and it still turned purple, prompting an after-hours visit to the ER.  Maybe I should have used it with vinegar!

Aspirin

I’ve heard this one from a lot of folks.  It makes sense, really.  It’s not as crazy as meat tenderizer!  Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory medication.  You can crush a tablet, and make it into a paste with a little water…then apply it to the insect sting.  This method works fairly well, but it takes a little while.  It’s definitely not as fast-acting as the next remedy.

Laundry Bluing

Laundry bluing?  What on earth is that???  Fear not, that was my first reaction when my grandmother first suggested it to me.

I took the kids up to visit my parents and grandparents one summer.  Apparently, at a stop along the way, we gained an additional passenger who remained unnoticed until a couple hours later.  Lizard was only about a year and a half old at the time.  She had fallen asleep, but just before we reached our destination, she woke up and started screaming.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on while driving into Dallas rush-hour traffic, so I pulled over, and managed to get her calmed down…though I still couldn’t find the cause.  Well, a couple hours later, at my grandmother’s house, I laid her down on the floor to change her diaper.  There was a huge welt on her leg.  She had been fussy ever since the incident in the car…and now I knew why.  Something had stung her on the leg.  It was big and red and angry!  I made a rather surprised exclamation about it, and my grandmother came to look.  She said, “That’s a bee sting.  I just bought some bluing.”

I looked at her like a cow looking at a new gate.  “Bluing?  Is that what you said?  What’s that?”

“It’s for laundry.”  She stated rather emphatically.

“Okay…”

My mom jumped in, “People used to use it a lot to make their whites brighter.”

“Okay…”  I was still waiting for someone to tell me why we were talking about brighter whites in every load instead of my daughter’s giant bee sting.

“Mother used to use it on us when we got stung, but I hadn’t thought about it in years.  It takes the sting out, and all the swelling will be gone by bedtime.  I just bought some last week I just happened to come across.  Let me see if I can find it.”  Grandmother took off for her back bedroom to look for it.

I looked at my mom and shrugged my shoulders, still a bit dubious.  But, I figured I might as well give it a try.

My grandmother returned after a few minutes with a little blue bottle labeled, “Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing” and a few cotton balls.  She said, “Put a little of the bluing on the cotton, then dab it on the sting.  Make sure you cover the whole thing.  Try to keep her still until it dries, because it will get all over everything and it will stain.”

So, I did as instructed.  I made a big blue painting with that stuff all over Lizard’s leg.  By the time we sat down for dinner, Lizard had stopped fussing.  By the time I changed her next diaper, the swelling was gone.  She still had a big blue splotch…but no swelling.  I used it again the next morning, just to be sure…but I had a hard time telling where the sting had even been.  I was sold.  Grandmother told me to keep the bottle, and I did!

I’ve used it several more times since then…every time someone gets an insect sting.  It has a great track record for bee stings, and for yellow jacket stings…including Bear’s little encounter over the weekend.  She was stung on the leg and on the nose.  At first, she didn’t want me to turn her nose blue, but within minutes of the time I put it on her leg, she said her leg didn’t hurt any more and wanted it on her nose too.  So, Bear had a blue nose Sunday afternoon…and I didn’t hear another complaint about her nose.  By Monday, her nose wasn’t blue anymore, but that yellow jacket sting was gone too.  A blue nose is a small price to pay!

So, next time you or one of your little ones gets an insect sting, give bluing a try.  You may be just as surprised as I was.

Incidentally, while bluing is great for insect stings, you can also grow a fantastic crystal garden with it, I’ve been told.  It’s on the list to try this week! 


How to treat insect stings fast!

 


  

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Today, I was feeling a little inspired by a real bully to write a little children’s story (rather poorly…come on, I only spent five minutes on it!) in the style of a classic:

So without any further ado, here it is, retold for farm children: Continue reading “The Pasture that Daddy Fenced: A retelling of a children’s classic”


It’s summer time in Texas.  It’s still early, and God hasn’t turned off the rain faucet or turned the oven to “broil” yet.  The neighborhood children are out of school.  It’s not so hot yet that they cannot play outside all day.  The grass is growing, the corn is tall.  The tomatoes are flowering, and there are little green tomatoes starting to ripen in the sun.  It’s the time of year when everything has sprung to life…

 

 

…and all that life has determined to kill something else.

 

 

Along with the grass come the grasshoppers, and if it’s green, you can bet they’ll be chomping holes in it.  They eat the silk off the ears of corn.  Weird caterpillars show up inside the ears of the sweet corn.  If we don’t harvest the corn soon, the whole crop will be gone.  There are strange looking bugs crawling all over the squash plants, eating holes in the leaves.  Stink bugs poke holes in everything.  They’ll leave bad spots in all those tomatoes that are still green on the vines.  The squirrel who lives in the tree next to the driveway will soon be up to his usual tricks.  He likes to come into the tomato patch and take one bite out of each tomato he finds.  He throws the rest on the ground to move on to the next.  The birds peck holes in the peaches.  Then there’s the chiggers…I’m pretty sure they’re trying to eat us.  They may actually succeed in eating a couple of the smaller children!  It’s summer, and it’s time for war.

If we move up the food chain a little, we’ll come to the lizards.  Fortunately, they crawl along the sides of the house every night, eating the moths that lay all those eggs that turn into the caterpillars that destroy all the plants all summer long.  Clearly, they ought to move from the house to the gardens.

Then come the snakes.  Oh, the snakes!  It rained last weekend, so they’re on the move.  It’s humid and warm…perfect snake weather.  The rat snakes are in the chicken coops, eating eggs instead of the rats that are eating the chickens’ food.  They’re long and look fairly intimidating.  These snakes are kind of cranky and do like to bite if their caught stealing eggs.  They’re not venomous…but the copperheads are.  Copperheads usually short and fat, but the ones we’ve run into this year they’ve been huge, and more the size of a really fat rat snake!  I’m convinced that there are snakes lurking in every patch of grass that’s any taller than the tops of my shoes.  There are water moccasins waiting to jump out should I decide to step off my front porch (some genius put a pond in the front yard!).  There’s a pit of vipers in that hole the dogs made under the porch…and please don’t trouble me with your version of reality that says, “If the dogs lay in that hole every day, there can’t be snakes in it.”

Sometimes, if you shoot a snake, babies will explode out of it.  Did you know that?  They don’t all lay eggs, some of them have live born babies.  If it meets my husband’s shotgun out by the barn in the dark, however, it’s all over for that snake…exploding babies and all!  That’s just how it goes during summertime warfare.

I sure wish we had a Rikki Tikki Tavi.  We do have 2 guineas.  Well, they’re not actually ours…they belong to our neighbors.  But they spend a lot of their time at our house!  Andrew keeps saying he’s going to try to talk our neighbors into getting some more guineas so they’ll eat more snakes, but I don’t think he’s done it yet.  I’ve been trying to talk Andrew into guineas for a couple of years now, but I suppose my arguments for guineas are just as effective as my arguments against chickens!  At least the neighbors got some that like to hang out here!  They just aren’t hungry enough, I guess.

That’s just how life is during the early summer here in Texas.  I never really thought about how strange this all would seem to someone who wasn’t “from around these parts”.  That's just how life is during the early summer here in Texas. A Guide to Surviving Texas… Click To Tweet

Several years ago, I worked with a girl who was a student from Germany.  One weekend, she had planned a trip with a friend to a rural property, where they would have a nice, relaxing weekend, and maybe float down the river a time or two.  The following Monday, back at work, I made the mistake of asking her how her weekend was, since I knew how much she’d been looking forward to it.  What followed was a rant of epic proportions!

“Texas is the craziest place I’ve ever seen!  All the wildlife here, if it’s not trying to kill you, it’s just trying to sting you and make your life horribly uncomfortable!”

She may or may not have used more colorful language than I just did.

“There’s snakes everywhere.  In the grass, in the water…everywhere!  There’s mosquitoes, and they’re not normal.  Some of them are like an inch long!  Don’t get me started on fire ants,” she was getting agitated now, and she pulled up the legs of her jeans to reveal hundreds of fire ant stings all over her legs.  “I found out about fire ants this weekend, I didn’t know about them before!  What horrible little creatures!  You have bees and wasps, too…”

“…and scorpions” I couldn’t help myself, I had to interrupt.  I was a little amused.  “We have scorpions too.  Always check your shoes before you put them on every morning.”  She looked at me like I’d grown a third head.

“See!  Everything here is trying to kill me.  And you’re all so proud of it!  Why do people live here?  It’s awful!  You have hurricanes and tornadoes…even the weather tries to kill you.”

“Well,” I was laughing now, “I’d never really thought about all that before, but you’re kinda right.  Texas is a pretty harsh place to live.  But, it is home.  I guess we are pretty proud of it, Texans are rather infamous for that.  It’s just home, and it’s just how home is.  I suppose if you make it through childhood here, you have something to be proud of!”


There’s lots of life out here right now, and the circle of life dictates that all of us have to eat.  So, if you come visit, catch a few grasshoppers, caterpillars, and weird bugs to help us save our plants.  Put them on the end of a fishing hook and catch us some dinner with them.

We’ll roast a few marshmallows over a fire in the front yard.  After all, the smoke helps to keep mosquitoes at bay.  Take a flashlight and a shovel if you go off by yourself (you can’t take the shotgun until you prove you know how to use it) so you won’t step on a snake in the dark.  Use the shovel to smash its head before it can bite you…or take more eggs from the chicken coop.

Be sure to keep your flashlight with you when you go to bed.  If you need to use the restroom during the night, you’ll need it to check for scorpions on your way…yes, even if you’re inside the house.  

It’s early summer in Texas, a time full of life in our home.  It’s a time of harvest…all the fresh produce we and the insects can eat.  In another month, the oven will be on, the rain gauge will be empty, and all that life will wither and blow away.  The dog days of summer will be oppressive.  So, we’ll say a little prayer of thanks for this time of the year.  Then, we’ll remind you to check your shoes before you put them on.  Scorpions.


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My kids are weird...and why I'm ok with it

My kids are weird.  

Whew!  I got that out of the way!  I love my kids.  They’re really, really good kids!  My kids just aren’t normal kids.  At least they aren’t normal based on today’s standards.  A hundred years ago I’m sure they would have been normal, run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter kids.  But not anymore.  My kids are weird.  But, I’m okay with that.  I might even encourage it.  They have seen more and understand more about real life in their few short years than many adults.

You see, my kids are country kids.

I grew up in town.  No…not in town, in the city.  I grew up in Dallas.  Well, in the rough, tough, suburbs of the northeastern corner of Dallas county, anyway (please take note of the sarcasm dripping off that statement!).  Dallas…it’s currently the ninth largest city in the United States, the fourth largest metro area in the United States.  That is, according to Wikipedia, anyway.  My grandfather’s (my mom’s dad) family were sharecroppers.  My grandmother (my dad’s mom) grew up on a farm.  I visited my great-grandparents’ farm a couple times per year until they died…I was in elementary school.  My uncle and his family lived in a rural area north of Dallas for a while.  I visited them every once in a while.  More importantly, I heard all his stories…about the chickens, and dogs, and coyotes.  I might have been a city girl, but I knew all about “country” stuff.  I was sure I had experience.

But I had no idea.

Did you know that meat doesn’t actually appear in the refrigerated section at the grocery store through some sort of magical process?  I didn’t.  Well, when I actually thought about it, I did.  But, like most people, I never had to think about it.

What about fruits and vegetables?  Most people grow beans for some sort of science project in elementary school, but that’s the end of food production…they rarely think of it again.  Many folks never think about the work that goes into producing enough for your family to eat for an entire year.  I know I didn’t…but my kids do. 

We moved out here, and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  I had no idea what I was getting our kids into.  I’m glad we did it.  Our kids are better off because of it.  But, our kids are most definitely weird.

Our kids eat their vegetables.

Gasp!  That one little fact probably makes them weird all on its own!  They don’t usually even complain about it…as long as no one did anything silly to the vegetables, you know, like cooking them.  They prefer them straight out of the garden (see number 8 on this list).  I don’t think we even managed to get any of our peas into the house this year.  The kids ate them straight off the plants for “outside snacks”, as Monkey called them.

Now, don’t try cooking their precious vegetables…that is ill-advised.  Don’t try to heat up canned peas and tell my kids to eat them because you’ve heard they like peas.  They will look at you like a cow looking at a new gate…and then absolutely refuse to eat whatever it is you just served them (it certainly wasn’t peas!).  Cooked carrots?  Forget it!

Our kids are homeschooled.

This is probably why they don’t realize that our family is a little bit different than most.  They get plenty of time to play with other kids, don’t get me wrong.  But, they’re not around the same set of other kids every single day like they would be at school.  We teach the things that we feel are important, not what the state tells us to teach.  We set high standards for what they learn.  

Most preschoolers learn about farm animals from picture books.  Our kids don’t just learn how to point them out in a book.  They learned that cows are huge.  They know that big brown one ain’t a cow…and not to mess with him.  There’s a difference between a cow and a heifer, and my four year old can tell you all about it.  Eggs come from hens, not from roosters, and even my 2 year old knows how to tell the difference.  Pigs really do enjoy a good wallow in the mud, and if there is no mud available, they will make their own!  Our kids know all about farm animals, and they know how to treat them, and how to behave around them.

Our kids pull their weight

Now, some of them weigh more than others, and we certainly make allowances for that.  But our kids have to work.  Most of the time, they actually enjoy it!  When I say it’s time to clean our bathroom, Bear jumps up and says, “Ooh!  I’ll clean the potty!”  No, I’m not making that up.  I actually did it myself this past week, and she honestly got upset with me.  There are certainly household chores they don’t enjoy, like cleaning up their rooms, but they are learning to do them anyway…like it or not.

All the kids have a blast helping their daddy with his work outside.  They go with him nearly every night to lock up the chicken coops and pull water for all the animals.  They help as much as they can.  When Daddy is out planting the gardens, the kids are right there helping him out.  They help pick the vegetables once the plants start producing, too.  Once the vegetables are picked, they help wash and sort it as well.  They know what goes into making the food they eat, and they probably have a better appetite for it!

Our kids understand that death is part of life.

This made me a little uncomfortable at first, but our kids have a very healthy view of death.  Without death, there is no life.  They understand where their food comes from.  They feed their food apple cores…our latest set of pigs recently went to the freezer, but we sure went through a lot of apples while they were living in the barn.  Our children know where the pigs are, they understand…but they aren’t upset by it.  It’s just part of life.  We take care of our animals, and when the time comes, our animals take care of us.

Many kids find a lot of blood and gore in video games.  Fascination with these types of things, while often disturbing to adults, is (to a certain degree) part of healthy development.  Our children don’t need video games…they’ve seen their dad slaughter chickens to feed his family.  It’s certainly not a pleasant task, but in our lives, it’s a necessary task.  Our kids understand that, and they’re blessed with an understanding that these animals have fulfilled their purpose.

The understanding of death gained by our children through their involvement in food production also prepares them for the death of loved ones as well.  They aren’t frightened of the concept of death and they understand what it means.  That means we can intelligently discuss our beliefs about what happens to people after death on earth.  My Granddad (their great-granddad) recently passed away after a year of confinement to a nursing home due to dementia and a hip injury.  When we told the kids about it, they were able to process the information.  Of course they were sad, especially Bear who remembered what he was like before his dementia got really bad.  But, since they already understood death, it allowed us to concentrate on the life that comes after death.  Without death, there can be no life.

So, there you have it.  My kids are weird.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way!


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Do you remember when you were young?  There was a big list of things your parents said to you.  They got under your skin so much that you promised yourself you’d never say them to your own children!  But, eventually, when you got older and you had children of your own, you found you may or may not have been able to follow through with those promises.

When you were trying to understand some great mystery of life, you heard, “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

When you were playing the funnest game you had ever devised, it was always, “Don’t jump on the bed!”  Or, “Clean up that mess!”

Then, you were presented with an awful-looking mish-mash of turnips, parsnips, and brussell sprouts, and you heard the dreaded words, “You have to try it.”

Then, there was always the infamous, “Because I said so!”  Which, of course, was good for any occasion!

This is just a partial list of things that I promised my future children I would never say.  I can say with all honesty today, that every single one of those phrases has escaped from my mommy lips.  But, far more disturbing is a different list of phrases that I started collecting through my parenting experiences on a farm.  I say a lot of things in response to situations I never thought would come up…I can’t make this stuff up!  Some are funny, some are sad.  Some will leave you scratching your head.  How on earth did that situation arise???  Well, I’m not sure!  But, here it is…my list of things I never thought to say I’d never say.

1. “No Chickens!!!”

Chickens were never a danger on my radar I thought I’d need to avoid.  You can read more about it in this post.

2. “You bought how many chickens?”

This was in response to the first batch of chickens my husband brought home.  I was so reluctant to agree to
chickens in the first place, I thought he’d start off with just a few.  But, he brought home 25!  Twenty-five.  That was a lot of chickens to me!  

Looking back on it now, I realize it wasn’t really very many at all.  I’m not really even sure how many we have at the moment, but it’s enough to fill three coops!

3.  “Ham.  You want ham.  The ham to which you refer is clearly not ham!  What is ham?!?”

When Bear was almost 2 years old, she announced to me one day that she wanted ham for lunch.  Like any sensible mother, I pulled some ham out of the fridge and made some for her for lunch.  It turns out, whatever ham was, it was not, in fact, ham…at least not what everyone in the adult world called ham.  Bear was mad!  She looked up at me with that angry face (you know, the one you try not to laugh at because it’s so cute) every toddler has, and shoved that bowl away from her and yelled, “No!  Want Ham!!”  Then, she proceeded to feed her lunch to the dogs.

Sometimes, our dear, sweet children come up with names for things that make absolutely no sense.  “Ham” was one of these instances.  It took us weeks to figure out what she meant.  We tried all sorts of pointing games with objects in our refrigerator and pantry, but nothing seemed to be “ham”.  Finally, we were out at the grocery store, and happened to go down the baby foods aisle.  Bear started going crazy in the cart, pointing and shrieking “Ham!  Ham!  Ham!”  It turns out, the infamous “ham” was actually those little freeze-dried yogurt toddler snacks.  Who knew?

4. “Dear, how do you recommend I get a heifer out of the garage?”

When we first moved out here, it took a while to get all of our fences in perfect working order.  Our first pair of cattle were a Holstein bull and heifer.  Occasionally, my husband would let them out to mow down the grass out in front of the barn, but usually only when he was at home.  Unfortunately, they got the idea that it was perfectly acceptable for them to go out on their own any time they wished.  One day, Bear and I were outside playing, and I started hearing odd noises coming from our garage.  I looked up, and low and behold, there was a heifer in the garage.  There were lots of interesting things to investigate in the garage, and she had no desire to leave and go back into the pasture.  She was resisting my small repertoire of methods.  So, I called my husband at work for his recommendations.  Eventually, she wound up getting bored and backing out of the garage on her own.  At that point, she gladly followed a bucket of feed back to the pasture gate.  

The next day, my husband had not had time to fix up the fence where she got out, but he did put up some 2×4 boards across the front of the garage so that if she decided to wander again, at least she would stay out of the garage.  It didn’t work.  She plowed right through them the next day, completely undeterred.  Then she got stuck and couldn’t figure out how to back out of the garage.  When she stepped on the boards she had knocked down, they felt funny under her feet and she didn’t know how to get by them.  Sigh.  I wasn’t about to go move the boards from under a 1500 pound cow (er…heifer)!  Eventually, she was able to back out of the garage on her own, and she followed the feed bucket back to the pasture again.

The heifer’s misadventures in the garage were funny, but the bull was just downright sneaky.  When Andrew let
 them out to graze on the grass in front of the barn, the bull was always very interested in the section of the barn where Andrew kept the feed (imagine that!).  He got chased out of the barn so many times, I couldn’t even begin to count.  One day, he had found his way into the barn and knocked over the feed can.  Of course, as a large, 2000 pound animal, he was silent and invisible in his persuits…in his mind, anyway.  He looked over his shoulder just as Andrew came around the corner to chase him out of the barn (again).  He backed out of the barn, just a little, and faced straight forward, refusing to even look at Andrew.  The bull started licking a bush that was growing right next to the side of the barn.  Then, he looked at Andrew as if to say, “I’m just lickin’ the bush, boss!  I’m just lickin’ the bush!”  These two cattle are where one of Andrew’s favorite farm catch-phrases came from: “There are few things in life more obnoxious than well-fed cattle!”

5. “We don’t need another dog.”

I like dogs.  I’ve always liked dogs.  When I was younger, I figured that when I grew up, I’d have a farm with just dogs running around everywhere.  That’s why it came as a surprise to me when my husband started talking about getting another dog that I told him we didn’t need one.  But, by this point, I figured there were enough animals around.  We had just lost Blaze.  But we still had Trinity.  We had cattle, we had chickens.  We had two small children with a third due any day.  Getting any new dogs raised and trained was going to fall mostly on me, because, well, I was the one who was at home the most.  I didn’t feel up to the task…especially with a newborn coming!  My husband and I went back and forth about the issue for a few weeks, during which time Monkey was born.  

Then, one cold day, while Andrew was home over Christmas break, he was working on putting in a gate between the two sides of the pasture, and he had a little accident involving our bull.

6. “Mom, I’ll call you back.  Something’s wrong with Andrew!”

I was on the phone with my mom.  The kids were napping.  Andrew came up to the porch, all muddy and gasping for air.  I knew he’d been out in the pasture…and it was obvious that something was very, very wrong.  He just kept coughing and gasping.  He couldn’t even talk to me and tell me what was going on.

Well, he had, in fact, been run over by the bull.  You see, our bull at the time had previously been a roping calf.  He liked to play.  That was not a big deal when Blaze had been out in the pasture every time my husband went out there, because Blaze played with him.  Unfortunately, when a 2 thousand pound animal decides to play with a 200 pound man, things don’t always go so well for the 200 pound man…especially when there’s no fast-moving dog to distract the 2 thousand pound animal!

Andrew was fine.  He was very bruised-up, but he was fine.

Apparently, we did need another dog.

7.  “The well is…frozen???”

This is Texas, folks!  A frozen well is just not something we have to deal with here.  But, in early 2011, not even a year after we had moved into our new farm house, when Lizard was just a couple of months old, we had a cold snap.  It lasted several days.  The highs only made it up into the middle teens.  It was cold!  A gas drilling company had provided our property with a nice, deep water well.  However, they had left nothing to protect it.  The previous owners of our property had put up a little lean-to around the pump.  But, one of the walls (we found out) was merely a blanket.  Fortunately, we knew the weather was about to get pretty nasty.  We were having an electrical problem with one of the switches to start with.  Water service to the house had become a bit sketchy.  I took advantage of a day-long break between two Dallas snow storms and took the girls up to visit my parents for a few days.  Andrew called the next day to tell me that everything was frozen…including the well.  He was without water pretty much the whole time we were gone.  Every day he made the trek up to the well house to make improvements so that it wouldn’t happen again.  He fixed up the well, and it hasn’t frozen since.  Thank goodness for handy husbands who are willing to work in the freezing weather!  The girls and I came home once everything thawed out.  Bear did have a lot of fun on that emergency trip to Dallas, though.  It snowed.  Not just a little Dallas snow like we always got there when I was a kid.  She got 8 inches of snow to play in!  Lucky girl!  These things are enough excitement to last for years to a Texan.

8.  “You’ve eaten enough green beans.  You’re not going to eat any dinner!”

No stranger a phrase has ever crossed a mother’s lips!  Yet, it’s one that has come out of mine more than once.  The first time I said it, Lizard was about 2 years old.  Andrew had spent all morning picking vegetables in the gardens.  There were buckets and buckets of squash that had been loaded onto the trailer.  There were cucumbers, and turnips.  And, there were green beans.  Not just a dinner’s worth of green beans.  Andrew uses 5 gallon buckets to hold the green beans as he picks them.  That particular week, there were 3 or 4 buckets full of green beans.  Andrew gave each of the girls a green bean.  Bear ate hers, but she wasn’t particularly excited about it.  Lizard was a different story.  She ate her green bean, and then asked for another one.  Then another, then another and another.  Finally, Andrew got tired of getting her green beans.  He told her that she could have as many green beans as she wanted as long as she ate them.  We didn’t want them going to waste.  She ate green beans all afternoon.  Finally, a couple of hours before dinner, Lizard was still going back and forth to the green bean bucket that Andrew had left on the front porch for her.  I called out to her, “You’ve eaten enough green beans!  You’re going to ruin your dinner!”  

Andrew looked at me like I’d grown a third head, and said, “Really?”

“What?”  I asked.  “She’s not supposed to have any snacks after 4 so she’ll eat her dinner.”

“You’re worried about green beans?  Green beans.  We’re having fried chicken for dinner.  You’re worried that she won’t eat her fried food because she’s eaten too many vegetables???”

Well, he had a point.  We’ve laughed about that afternoon many times since it happened.   The events have repeated themselves several times since then.  It’s not always with green beans, sometimes it’s with peas or carrots, or something else pulled fresh from the garden.  Now, it’s a phrase I use jokingly, because, let’s face it, who can complain about kids who eat their vegetables?

9.  “Wait, you lost a frog in the bathroom?”

This is another one that sadly, I’ve had to say more than once.  We have a pond in our front yard.  I’m not sure why the previous owners of this property decided to put a pond in the front yard, but they did.  Asking why the previous owners did anything around here is a forbidden question…but that’s another topic for another post.  Anyway, since there’s a pond in the front yard, reptiles and amphibians are plentiful.  

It’s a nightly ritual around here for Andrew to go catch a frog or a toad or a lizard at bedtime.  Why bedtime?  I have no idea.  But, that’s the procedure around here, and who am I to demand that it change?

Anyway, we generally have some sort of reptile or amphibian find its way into the house every evening.  Every once in a while, Andrew will let one of the kids hold it.  Inevitably, it gets away, usually in one of the bathrooms.

10.  “Why is there a duckling in my daughter’s bedroom?”

One day, several years ago, Trinity killed a duck.  It was very sad.  It was the female of a pair of ducks that often swam on our pond.  The male flew away, never to return.  As it turned out, they had made their nest in the brush along the fence line close to the pond.  We pulled out the eggs, and put them in our incubator that was normally used for chicken eggs.  Of course, we had no idea what we were doing, but we thought we’d give it a try.  There were several eggs, but only one hatched.  We put it in the brooder box to keep it warm.  One day, after it had started getting its feathers, Andrew decided it was time for that little duck to learn how to swim.  Bear just happened to be playing in the wading pool that afternoon.  It looked like the perfect place for that little duck to learn!  So, Bear played in the pool with a duck.  The duck also took swimming lessons in the cows’ water buckets upon occasion.

I’m still not exactly sure why, but one day, Andrew decided the duck should visit Bear inside the house.  So he brought the duck in.  Bear was playing in her room, so the duck came to play as well.  Of course, as one might expect, the duck didn’t have very good manners, and soon pooped on the carpet.  I was a little irritated, to say the least, and said”Why is there a duckling in my daughter’s bedroom?  It just pooped on the floor!”  Andrew started laughing and said, “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that possibility!  I’ll take it back outside.”  Not every kid can say they’ve had a duck in their room.

Unfortunately, the duck did not have a happy ending.  The rest of the story involves a raccoon, so I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened.  But, it was fun to have a baby duck around.

11.  “Why did you trap your sister in a box?  Oh, of course…because it made her laugh!”                  

 

Bear had a big plastic bin that (occasionally) held her mega blocks.  But, it was much more fun to dump out all of the blocks on the floor and get inside the box.  It was even more fun to put her sister in the box.  Fortunately, Lizard also thought it was fun, leading to much giggling!  A picture is worth a thousand words.

 

12.  “Get that snake out of here.  It’s bleeding on the floor!”

This is another one that has come out of my mouth more than once.  Every time Andrew kills a snake that he finds impressive, he brings it into the house.  Usually it’s a particularly large copperhead that he brings to the house for educational purposes.  Sometimes, he wants to show me how many eggs a rat snake has stolen (you can count the bumps to find your eggs).  Whatever the case, it’s a snake, in my house!  I don’t really care if it’s dead.  I don’t want wildlife in my house!  Especially when it’s dripping blood on the floor.  Call me crazy…

13.  “There are bodily fluids flying everywhere!”

It was just after Thanksgiving.  I had caught a stomach bug up in Dallas where we had visited family for the holiday.  I was sick all Thanksgiving Day.  It was miserable, but I was over it in 24 hours.  We came home the day after Thanksgiving as usual.  Lizard was mostly done potty training, but still had the occasional accident.  Monkey was starting to learn how to use the potty (because he was interested), but since he was barely over a year old, we weren’t doing any intensive training yet.  While we were gone, Andrew bought a puppy…it was Patch.  Trinity got bit by a snake as we were coming home.  It was a great trip…really.

The next day went fine.  Everyone was happy to be back home.  We played outside most of the day.  There was a new puppy to play with.  It looked like Trinity was going to survive the snake bite.  Christmas was coming soon.  Life was good!  

Then came the evening.  One of the kids mentioned that their tummy hurt a little.  No one ate very well.  We got everyone washed and into bed early, hoping that the dreaded stomach bug would pass us by.  It didn’t.  It started in the middle of the night…it always does, doesn’t it?  We had a washer load or two of sheets and blankets by morning.  I knew it was going to be bad.  But, since I had already had it, I figured it would only last about 24 hours…just like it had for me.  Boy, was I wrong!  

On Monday, I figured we were pretty much at the end of it, and Andrew went off to work as usual.  Two of the kids stomach bugs progressed from the top side, to the bottom.  The other was still working on the top.  Lizard had completely forgotten all about using the potty, as had Monkey.  And, there was a puppy in the house who still didn’t know to put her waste products outside.  Not to mention an old, grumpy Trinity who was very upset about the puppy’s existence.  Andrew called around 10 that morning to check on us.  All I had to say was, “There are bodily fluids flying around everywhere!”  

Everyone did finally recover, though it took about 2 weeks for the kids…a far cry from my 1 day bug.  Once we were able to concentrate on training Patch, she caught on to the outside thing very quickly.  And, all those flying fluids finally dried up.  Now that was something to be thankful for!

14.  “Where are we going to put two pigs?”

This is another one I never had on my radar as a possible danger (see number 1).  I never thought I would need to worry about pigs.  But, a couple years ago, the deer hunting was bad…very bad.  Andrew was afraid we wouldn’t have enough meat set back in the freezer.  So, he decided that he wanted to buy a couple of pigs.  But, it seemed to me that we wouldn’t have anywhere to put 2 pigs.  Not surprisingly, Andrew quickly found a place.  

The pigs have been a great amusement for the kids.  They always enjoy feeding apple cores to the pigs.  We just put our second set in the freezer, which is always a little sad, but they are yummy!  There will be another set soon in our future, I assume.

15.  “Get that chicken foot out of my house!!!” 

Yes, you read that right.  When Andrew slaughters chickens, the dogs really enjoy playing keep away with each other using the chicken feet.  It’s kinda yucky!  Once, the kids had come out of the house during this game, and of course, they left the front door open.  In runs Midnight, with a chicken foot in his mouth to find a special place to hide it.  Fortunately, he had to run right past me to get inside.  As he ran through the door, I yelled, “Get that chicken foot out of my house!!”  He did.  Andrew started laughing, and he said, “You’re going to have to add that one to your list!”  So I did, and now you’re lucky enough to have read all about it!

 

 

 

 

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