spectating participant

August 30, 2008

egg production increasing

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:55 pm

Our chickens are upping the egg-anty. We now have 4 laying hens. Today we got our very first Green Egg (where are the pictures? I know!) from one of our Americana chickens. I assume that all 3 New Hampshire’s are laying and our Egyptian Americana (the lovely white one) based on their behaviors.

Today, we let them all out a bit earlier than usual and it was the day of strange behaviors. One chicken just kept following Chris around every where he went, not totally unusual, but just the way she was doing it. We eventually discovered that she’d hurt her foot on something, maybe she just wanted sympathy. The Egyptian one was getting into all sorts of strange places — like on top of one of our bushes, looking very uncomfortable about it too. We figure she was trying to find the perfect spot for laying — turns out she went and laid an egg in the tractor, the nest box was disassembled for cleaning and repairs. Another one kept trying to get into the vehicles as Chris was working on stuff. There were a few scratches on the new car (I’ll post about later) where she was trying to get in the trunk. She tried climbing into Chris’ van and at one point she finally got up in the Blazer and hunkered down by the gas and break pedals. Sure enough, a little while late we found an egg in the Blazer — she just needed a spot to lay I guess. And a fourth chicken went around to all of our open house windows and sang a little chicky-ditty — honestly, she wanted an audience and knew one of the windows would eventually produce one.

Chickens sure are interesting creatures and it made for an interesting and amusing morning.

August 28, 2008

farmer’s market outisde my front door

Filed under: garden, life — suzanne henderson @ 12:43 pm

There are lots of little perks to living in a rural community and networking with a group of folk that like growing things and supporting each other. For a few weeks, a small group of us have been gathering weekly to trade and sell items we grow or make. This came about as a way to use up abundant harvests and get a variety of items. I hosted this weeks trade which works out to a mini farmers market right outside my door.

This week I offered up fresh baked whole wheat bread, still warm from the oven, and free range eggs. People got to see, and children chase, the same chickens that laid the eggs. I sold and traded for some peach tomatoes (not peaches and tomatoes, peach tomatoes - alex says they’re yummy), basil, homemade dip mix, roma tomatoes, canned dilly beans, fig-raspeberry jam, and mouse melons. We also had carrots, cukes, beets, pumpkins, fresh herbs, vinegar mixes, canned peaches, local honey, canned jellies and jams, salsas, and hand-ground wheat flour available that other people traded for. I’m probably missing a few things too.

This is such a great idea and a great experience. We’re meeting weekly as the produce is available and then I imagine we’ll scale back when fall arrives. People bring things to trade or cash to buy outright. I’m sure I broke even if not made a little in exchange for what I offered and took home.

August 23, 2008

bad mom. awesome kid. other stuff.

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:53 pm
  • soccer tournament in Gettysburg this weekend - it’s more fun than I expected it to be.
  • Even with avoiding direct the sun, using cover ups, and staying in the shade - Sara got sunburned.
  • Sara’s sunburned face makes me feel like the worst mom ever.
  • It’s really red on one side, I feel awful.
  • Alex is make serious skill improvements with her new team.
  • There is a difference in how the recreational teams play compared to the competitive teams.
  • We’re now watching games where all the players have a clue of how to play and work together.
  • I find parents yelling from the sidelines, at players and refs, mildly amusing.
  • Alex is doing really well, I’m proud of her, I wonder how she feels.
  • I just finished making Sara a sun hat for tomorrow.
  • I’ll also ignore that 6 month thing for using sunscreen on Sara tomorrow as well.
  • I was going to put sunscreen on her today, but let one little comment from Chris (”but she’s not 6 months”) deter me.
  • I guess I could blame Chris, but I also was pretty sure that some sunscreen would be better than none.
  • Especially being outside from 8am - 7pm.
  • I really feel like a crappy mom now, looking at sunburned cheeks is heart breaking.
  • Alex and I both used sunscreen and still got sunburned a little.
  • Maybe I should be appreciate that it’s mostly limited to just one side of her face and not her arms and legs too.
  • Nope, I’m still a horrible mom.
  • Considering a baby burqua for tomorrow.
  • need sleep.

August 21, 2008

School starting soon.

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 4:09 pm

Alex and Craft Room

Originally uploaded by xixstar

Back to school season seems in full swing everywhere else but here. We’ve decided to homeschool Alex and there just isn’t any hustle and bustle in preparation. Especially, because we’re even following the unschooling philosophy, which seems to have even less back to school fanfare than the more school-at-home philosophies.

On top of the unschooling, we’re even starting out deschooling - basically not really focusing on anything “school-like” and just taking time to rekindle the natural, intuitive drive to learn. We’re taking things slow, picking up just a couple of activities (all sports driven: competitive soccer, archery, bike riding) and taking advantage of free programs offered at the library (which we’d do even if we were in school).

So far, I’ve planned one small activity for school and I’ll admit it’s mostly for me and so that I’ll have something to present for the annual reviews we’ll have to do with the county school system. While at the library, I picked up some books on poetry and ran the idea past Alex - “hey, how about we start off the school year looking at poetry.” Alex groan at this and I shrugged and said that I just wanted to do some daily reading of poem out loud, and nothing more. No analyzing required and she certainly doesn’t have to write poetry. That idea sounded great to her. She’s happy, I’m happy, sounds good.

The schooling comments have already started with family members though. I don’t mind, people can comment all they want and have all the opinions that they want — it’s not their life or their choice. Though, I still find it amusing that so many people feel the need to share their “concerns” based soley on their personal perception (or imagination, since so far, there is nothing to percieve) of what we’re doing and what we should be doing.

This was rather amusing in talking with my sister - she was commenting on how teaching Alex the “hard” math classes (ya know, calculus, and such) will be a lot of work. I just agreed, letting the subject pass. Didn’t think it was worth saying that I have no intention of teaching calculus nor do I think Alex has any interest in learning it - and if she does, we’ll figure something out (Chris said he’d love to teach calculus). But, what I found amusing was how she then told me about a college math class she just completed, how hard it was (though she still did well in the class), and we both agreed on what a waste of time learning most of it is because we NEVER use it. Plotting graphs and slope and all that fun stuff — absolutely pointless in my day to day life. I remember my math classes, I passed with awesome grades - after failing the placement tests - but couldn’t solve a single problem is presented it today. So, my sister is all concerned about me teach Alex one of those hard math classes and at the same time recognize how useless those math classes are. Now, I must acknowledge that Chris uses those math skills every day at work - they’re related to what he wants to do. If Alex wants to pursue something that needs those skills, then it makes sense to study them, but if she doesn’t, there is no point.

So, school is starting up — though were holding off until September 1 to begin deschooling (ha, were going to start up stopping off) and I can’t wait.

[posted via BlogThis on flickr]

August 20, 2008

Our First Eggs

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 8:37 pm

Our First Eggs

Originally uploaded by xixstar

Our chickens started laying eggs this weekend. On Saturday Chris found an egg in the chicken tractor on Saturday. Sunday he found another egg in the bushes near the smoke house — woot, someone was laying.

We were pretty sure we knew who too - one of the ladies had taken to some very loud, awkward squawking that actually got us out of bed early on Saturday thinking something was getting attacked. I guess chickens kinda freak out a little when they first start laying - a “what the hell is going on!” type of muttering.

We put a makeshift nest box in the tractor on Sunday but the chickens ended up just knocking it over. Monday morning, I let the chickens out, much to the urging of our squawking chicken. I also threw down some scratch grains (which is like crack for chickens) and the laying hen took a peck or two but then rushed over to the bushes to take care of business. I got to spy on her a bit, but left her in peace to take care of business. Sure enough, half an hour later, Alex came in with a still warm egg.

Monday night, Chris built a beefier nest box and placed it in the tractor. Tuesday morning when we went to check, we found 2 eggs in there — someone else is laying too. Were not sure if this second hen just started laying, or if she’d been hiding them better, and maybe we’ll never know. Alex searched the property again, but never found another egg.

So, we now have one hen laying the cutest little brown eggs and one laying slightly larger, lighter, slightly pink eggs. Hopefully the other 7 hens’ development will be delayed and we’ll stick to just getting 2 eggs a day for a while. Because once we’re getting 9 a day, life is going to get interesting.

[posted via BlogThis on flickr]

August 7, 2008

9 - 10 - 9

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 9:30 am

Crap, this is depressing. Turns out that our missing chicken was still alive the day before yesterday and yesterday. The neighbors noticed it running about the yard yesterday and chained their dog up. The dad eventually went out to get it and she was looking really bad. He got Chris’ attention in the evening (8pm-ish) and she was still alive but looked terrible. Most of her wings were gone and she’d obviously been chewed a great deal, but it wasn’t clear if anything had broken the skin. The neighbor handed over a live bird to Chris and they chatted a bit, the bird flapping and bit and what not, and then it just went limp. Chris thought it’d just exhausted itself. He brought it in to show me, did I mention how bad she looked ?, and I said she sure looked dead. Sure enough, she’d finally just give up and died.

We’re both pretty upset by this, though I was hiding it fairly well cause a million other things were calling my attention at that time. Chris was upset thinking that if he hadn’t chatted with the guy a bit and had prompty brought her back to try and care for her, that she would have lived. I don’t know if thats true or not, she was pretty mangled looking.

I’m pissed that I didn’t call the neighbors as I had planned. I was just going to call and let them know that the chicken got in their yard and looks to have been eaten. Mostly wanted them to know we were aware of it and also weren’t upset by it, since it wasn’t their fault. Since we’d gone and talked to them before when their dog got out and attacked our chickens, I had wanted to just make sure we kept up a positive relationship with them and didn’t want a dead chicken in their yard to freak them out a bit. If I’d done that, then we’d probably have a living chicken because it’d mean one less day of being a play thing for a big dog (would have called Tuesday, they didn’t notice her until Wednesday).

Sigh, I wasn’t this upset when I just thought she’d been eaten. Now feeling negligent in the care of our chickens, I feel like crap over a stupid chicken that crawled into the dog yard - sigh. And, as I said, Chris was really upset about this as well, especially in realizing the chicken lived up until we had her back. Also, we lost the chance to make the decision to go ahead and kill her (which we probably would have since she looked so bad) and put her in the freezer. I’m not sure what the time limit is on bleeding out birds, but I’m sure it’d passed and honestly, at that point, I really wasn’t up to doing it. Sigh.

August 6, 2008

Down to 9 Chickens

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 2:26 pm

Our chickens have been free-ranging it to the limit. They have full access to our nearly one acre property and permission to also explore our neighbors well trimmed lot as well — she enjoys their amusing presence. When they tire of those two places, they go wandering around our other neighbor’s yard — I’ve yet to find out if the neighbors care or not, I doubt it since we see them all the time and they’ve yet to say anything. And on occasion, they’ll really push the limit and wander on over into the neighbor’s yard two houses down, luckily still someone we “know” — Alex is friend’s with their daughter, so I assume that counts.

Yesterday, it seems the chickens, or at least one chicken, felt that wasn’t enough freedom and started looking for green pastures. I went out around lunch time and counted 9 chickens - uh oh! I walked the yards for half an hour, leading a chicken parade (our chickens follow me around everywhere), looking for the missing chicken with no luck. When Chris got home, there was still just 9 chickens.

We walked the yards again and found evidence of our missing chicken. It seems that the chicken actually dug a hole underneath our back neighbors fence and entered their yard. I guess curiosity got the best of it and it just had to see what life was like on the other side of that fence — and that life involves a big, black dog and a little, yippy dog. Chris and I imagined that it got to the other side and then started running back and forth along the fence trying to get back out of the yard — chickens are flock creatures, they don’t like being separated. But at some point, this chicken got the attention of the resident dogs; whether the dogs were already outside or had been let out to find yummy little surprise waiting for them, we don’t know. All we saw was the hole under the fence (with the dirt spray on our side of the yard, so we’re pretty sure it was chicken dug) and a line of feathers along the fence on the other side.

The last time we almost lost some chickens, I was really upset about it. But this time, I feel no sadness or sympathy. I mean, just how much pity can you feel for a chicken that dug under a fence and got itself eaten? Thats just natural selection in process.

August 4, 2008

obsessing on numbers

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:20 am

I obsess about stuff, things run, run, run, through my brain, over, over, over again until I’ve exhausted myself thinking about it. Lots of times it stupid little details that just repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s annoying but I’m used to it at this point. Sometimes it’s not so bad, other times it’s exhausting. In all, it eventually stops, or a new obsession takes it’s place.

Right now, my mind is stuck on numbers - scale numbers. Before getting pregnant, I weighed 208lbs. At 7-weeks pregnant, I was up to 210 for one week and then I was back down to 208. At 12-weeks pregnant, I dropped down to 207. At 16-weeks pregnant, I was back up to 208. 17-weeks had me up another pound to 209; 20-weeks I was at 213. It took 3 more weeks (23-weeks) to add on another pound, 214; repeat for 26-weeks at 215. At 29-weeks, I was up to 217 and 34-weeks put me at 221. I stopped weighing myself at this point, mostly because I stopped going to the gym each week and just walked next door to our neighbors pool to swim instead. I imagined that I’d gained 7lbs more between week 34 and week 41, when Sara was born — a 20lb weight gain seemed a reasonable guess, but I’m starting to think that I was a little too generous with my guesstimate.

Sara was 10lbs, 1 oz - that would be about 50% of my pregnancy weight gain, if I stick with the 20lb number. At birth and shortly thereafter, it’s likely that another 10lbs would be lost with the loss of water/amniotic fluid, blood loss, and placenta weight. If thats so, I should be looking at a scale number of about 208 — right where I started. It took me two weeks after the birth to finally step on a scale, and the number there isn’t what I expected…. 185. If I give myself the 20lbs gained during pregnancy, that means that I lost 43 pounds at or shortly following the birth. Most likely, I didn’t gain much past my last weight check at 221. Assuming I didn’t gain another pound, unlikely, thats still 36 pounds lost since birth.

I’m obsessing over these numbers, if you can’t tell. They’re not bad numbers, upsetting numbers, or anything negative. They’re just numbers that I keep thinking about. And the fact that I’ve spent a couple years eating fairly well and exercising enough to make some progress. However, even with a good diet and exercise, I’ve not been able to lose any weight. It’s been frustrating — not depressing, just frustrating. I got myself to stop fretting over numbers and just enjoy the improved health and mental wellness. But now, now there is a number to obsess over - 185 — just 15 higher than my magic number of 170, a place where I’d like to be.

But now, just weeks after birth, and also while feeding this hungry little girl round the clock, isn’t a time to focus on numbers. It’s not a time for diets or for the strenuous exercise I was doing before. But, it’s hard for me to ignore that number, it sooo close to the number I want… it makes me want to go swim laps, hit up the weight training machines, pull my bike out of storage, jog on hiking trails…. it makes me want to go out and do something about it. But now isn’t the time, I need to heal a bit longer, so instead I obsess over it.