Saturday, April 19, 2014

Maggie's Last Easter Egg Hunt

Last year we decided, quite arbitrarily, that 10 was the last year for our kids to participate in the Club Easter egg hunt. Mostly because we realized Morrigan, then 11, would be competing against her babysitting charges.

But before we get to today, there was last night. I asked the girls which dresses they were going to wear. Maggie, for reasons I cannot fathom, decided to wear the same dress for the third year. At least it is one I like. Morrigan, on the other hand, let me know she had no dresses that fit. Rats. And she had no bathing suits that fit for spring break. Double rats. Naturally, it was Friday night when the Public is in full effect at the mall. But things, admittedly, went much smoother than anticipated. We were able to snag the above dress and a bathing suit for $31 total with a minimum of pain. 

Tim was working so the kids and I set off alone for the breakfast. Maggie was feeling a bit too old for the whole thing, but not old enough to miss out on the candy. Eion, was all over the whole affair.

Though the girls did relent and take a picture with me and the bunny.

There were, as always, plenty of eggs for all but my kids were disappointed not to find the "golden" egg. I'm sure they will live.

For reasons unknown, the Club decided to only have jelly beans in the eggs. Eion, quite dismayed at the dearth of chocolate, marched right up to the manager and lodged his complaint. Personally, I kind of thought it was great. They will eat a few and then I can throw them out. None of the doling out of chocolate over a month or more. Perfect!

Now we're off to pack for our spring break adventures! Happy Easter!

Maggie's last hurrah!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Chicken Situation Spirals Out of Control

Months ago, before we even had our first chickens, Maggie's friend Margaret told us how her class would be hatching chicks and asked if we would take one and foster it for her. No problem, I thought, we'll just mix it in with the others. Being a poultry rookie, I assumed it would arrive at the same time as ours. Not so, I soon found out. So with our Peepers grown and enjoying their outside existence, the new chick was due to arrive yesterday, only a few days before spring break.

Having seen how social they are, I hated the thought of one lonely chick in the brooder for weeks. It seemed cruel. But it turned out there was an extra and we received our two mystery breed chicks yesterday. They are the cutest! Just like an Easter card I tell you.

Meet James Blonde. (The other North Cross chick is Jet.)

Fiona, Margaret's mother, agreed to house them until they were ready to join the flock outside. I told her whenever she tired of the brooder, she could just send them our way. 

But then I started to worry about integration into the flock. Would the existing Peepers accept new friends? With no scientific evidence or experience to guide my thesis, I decided that we should have five new peepers. Then when they went out, there would not be just two new chicks to pick on. Both Fiona and Tim agreed that, in spite of any proof, my plan seemed solid and Fiona said she could house five chicks.

But our additional chicken purchase plan was thwarted by Holdren's Country Store - all their chicks were claimed. Rats.

Not one to be put off so easily, we went to the Tractor Supply store, which had tons of wee birds available. But there was a catch, you had to buy a minimum of six. Well to hell with it all, we just got six, bringing our total chicken count to thirteen.

Luckily, Fiona was not upset about the expansion but did qualify that they may be returned to us a bit sooner than planned. Her kids were thrilled. I received a text to the effect of "This is awesome! Mummy would have never agreed if you asked first!" 

The newest six are also mystery varieties. We named them Attila the Hen and the Peepers of Chaos. So it is brooder box time again! We'll keep you posted on the merging of the flocks later this spring...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rainbow Fence

Sunday here was beautiful. But as ever, my very indoor kids were not taking advantage of it. So we came up with an activity - fence painting!

The fence down by the Peepers was crappy to start with and over the years has further declined. Since we're down in the backyard more than ever, thanks to our avian friends, we thought we'd add some color by painting the fence a rainbow. It's really quite cheery. We offered the kids $0.25 a fencepost and they were off. 

While it was technically work, they were laughing and having a great time. There was some dispute about one of the kids going rogue and painting over their siblings' posts, but we just overpaid them all in the end ($10 each) and they were happy. 

Where are the Peepers? See those green trees in the above pic? This is one of their favorite places to roost, leading Maggie to rename them the "Treepers."

But once all the excitement was done, they were back out, hopefully enjoying their freshly painted fence.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Whole New World

Tonight was the premiere of the middle school's performance of Aladdin. I'm biased, truly, but it was great! Morrigan was, as we affectionately like to call her, Townsperson #13. She really wanted to be the Iago, but I assured her that the lesser roles can be fun too. Having been, way back in the day, everything from the Princess in the save the princess play to a behind the scenes person, I could let her know firsthand that she would have fun.

There have been weeks of seemingly endless practices and she's gone with a smile on her face everyday. It was great to see all the hard work produce a fun and high quality show. I certainly don't remember my middle school putting on anything like this!

In a fit of craftiness, I made Morrigan and her friend Mark's costumes. (He's the Sultan.)

In the program, they have a headshot of each of the kids and a little blurb they write. Morrigan's was as follows:

I have to admit, I was taken completely by surprise to find she was learning to breathe fire. I suppose we all need hobbies. 

But most importantly, it seemed like all the kids had a great time. And that's what really matters.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Frak Your Fenced Free Range. Love, The Peepers

Raising chickens has caused us to learn all about topics previously unconsidered. For example, free range vs. fenced free range. We called our plan for the Peepers "free range," meaning they would be wandering free and not trapped in a coop. But no, we learned, since their roaming area, while generous, was not unlimited, they were "fenced free range." That being said, they seemed quite happy with their accommodations and we felt the academic distinction was somewhat irrelevant.

The Peepers beg to differ.

Ever since The Vanishing, the whole family has been quite obsessively checking on the birds, not that it would really make a difference, we'd just know one was missing sooner. In a check yesterday morning, I found all five chickens gone, as in no where. Panicked, I told Tim they had all been taken. We rushed down to the backyard and searched everywhere. Maybe they got out, Tim suggested. We peeked over into the neighbor's yard where there was a very familiar scratching sound.

Sure enough, all five were happily occupying the yard next door, having gone under the stairs to the driveway and found an exit to freedom. I planned to round them up and return them home to which Tim just laughed and asked if I was going all Rocky Balboa on them. Joke's on you mister. Had you kept your mouth shut, you'd have the vine of the year with me fruitlessly chasing five chickens.

In the end, we decided they would just have to decide to come home, which they did later in the day. At least now we can say that they are strictly free range.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spreading the Springtime Love

Before we get to our regularly scheduled blogging, let's take a moment to mourn our fallen Peeper.

I came home Saturday morning to find her missing, the remaining peeps huddling in the coop, some with bloodied beaks. We found no proof of what happened, but I plan to believe they fought her predator fiercely but ultimately in vain. RIP sweet chick. Everyone else is still alive and out in the rain today. Let's hope they were mean enough to keep threats at bay.

Spring is finally here, in spite of today's cold rainy forecast, and our daffodils are in full bloom.

When we moved in to our house 10 years ago, I planted about 200 bulbs. I am partial to tulips but the pesky deer mean we can't really have those. To ease my tulip missing pain, I bought all kinds of fancy daffodils. The following spring, we were treated to all their delightful colors.

Within a few years, the kids had started school and just couldn't wait to pick all those flowers and take them in to their teachers. I remember so clearly complaining bitterly to Tim that we had none left after Morrigan was done harvesting. Relax, he told me. They are so beautiful, we should share them with everyone we can. In a rare move, I relented entirely and let the kids pick at will. 

As Maggie and E got older, we often had all three of them out in the morning, doing their level best to strip the yard of blooms. But as the years went by, they also multiplied and currently, we can pick as many as we want, about 200 last week, and still have what seems to be endless flowers to enjoy. Additionally, our exotic varieties have spread on the street and I see flowers we brought here in the woods along Lockridge. In a karmic sense, it feels like we gave so much away and Mother Nature decided to repay us with abundance. 

Then the other day as I was walking to get Eion, Mr. Richards, the girls' beloved Kindergarten teacher, waved me over. He said, "I saw our first daffodils the other day. Every time I see them, I think of your family and all those wonderful flowers the girls would bring in." 

Morrigan's Kindergarten class (she's on the far left.) 
Holy crap where has the time gone.

I had Eion take him in some flowers the next day. Tim was right to want to share the joy. I'm so glad we followed the children's innocent desire to spread happiness with an open heart. If you need some sunshine, come on by and pick a bouquet!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Peepers on the Move

After a month in our family room, the time had come for the Peepers to move to their coop. The weather outside is getting warm (75 today,) and they have all their feathers, which is the only indicator my online searches garnered to the inquiry about when they are ready. More importantly, they were outgrowing their brooder and seemed to posses a desire to roam.

Every time we removed the chicken wire trapping them in the brooder, several would instantly make a break for it. And they were getting quite messy and smelly to boot. Time to move out!

Maggie and I prepped the coop and moved them down this afternoon. While they will later have a fenced area in which to roam, for today, we have them in their, rather spacious, coop. 

That's Putin, the bully.

They seem happy with their expanded quarters and new food sources. Mmm, bugs. I'm off to turn on the heat lamp. Not sure they are ready to be completely on their own just yet. Call me an over protective Mom.