Ma's Family

Ma's Family

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Run Robin Run!

I just thought I'd take the time to tell a little story about when I was little. We raised chickens when I was a kid and there was 1 rooster that just chased me every morning in my little red bathrobe. My brothers used to laugh so much as I went screaming through the yard, around the house, up the woodpile to wait out that 'pecketdy ol wooster'. And I have to admit. While my daughter wasn't running from a peckty ol wooster in this clip (she was trying to get the chicks to follow her, not running away) it WAS still hilarious in the clip and I had to watch it about 50 time laughing until tears rolled down.

Enjoy the clip! We sure did! Heather is giving away a free blog design! I'm really hoping I win it because she's done a wonderful job on hers and mine is... well not exactly the most creative!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! I had a fabulous one! I was up early to pick my husband up from work and he made me breakfast (mmm fried potatoes, my favorite!) after I tended the chickens and had bought me a fuschia plant. My kids made me love notes through the day and Rosemary gave me a necklace and earrings she had bought at the maple festival. Of which she had to check every 5 minutes throughout the day to see if I was wearing them and how much I adored them. Catherine and Robin took turns hugging my leg while I was gardening and asking 'Can I say something?' me- 'yes' them 'I love you!' throughout the day. And David and Andy made dandelion soup while I was trimming pine trees .... and served it on the deck steps on mud patties. I have a sneaky suspicion the mud patties came from one of my planters in the herb garden. As it smelled slightly of oregano and mint.

I did not blog on mother's day. I was avoiding the cyber world yesterday for 1 reason. I didn't want to spoil my day. Mother's day is great! It's a day intended to recognize and acknowledge mothers who often do their best work when noone is looking. For the world in general to say YAY MOMS! To acknowledge all the things we do for our families but it's also to me about BEING a mom and ME recognizing and acknowledging the blessings God gave that MAKE me a mom. Being a mom means cooking, cleaning, wiping tears and noses, bandaids, diapers, refereeing, sore feet, loud children, hugs, kisses, story times, love notes in crayon on your fresh painted walls, hunting for shoes, saying prayers at bedtime and teaching manners. We signed on for this! We may not love all that it entails but we can all agree that we love our children and wouldn't give them up to be shet of the messes. If your family does these things every day... how can it be reasonable to expect them to be different on 1 particular day? Do you want them to be?

I've seen so many people saying their mother's day was aweful and grumping about it not being as nice as someone else's. I have to wonder who's yardstick it's being measured by. I love my family. Just the way they are. Every day. I wouldn't want them to disappear. No, I didn't have a day free of housework. I didn't sleep in until noon. I didn't have a day free of parenting. And I hope I never do. Mother's Day isn't a day to have a free pass from your family. It's a day to enjoy them and celebrate the fact that your children are THERE to argue, and spill, and cry, and eat..... and it's my pleasure to enjoy every moment of it!

How big is your yardstick? And is it a different color that your family has never seen before on Mother's Day?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bullseye Blasters

My older kids had their final meeting for the 4-H Bullseye Blasters rifle club tonight. (Photo included) The last meeting of the season is always to finish up their log books for the records. On the first page the book asks what you wish to achieve this year in this program. Every one of them wrote some form of 'shooting better'. Towards the end it asks them what they learned this year. Every one of them wrote some form of 'shooting better'. I have to wonder what they expect the children to write there and had myself a little chuckle. What if.... they asked the parents to answer those questions? Why DO I send them to rifle club? I can teach them to shoot just fine here. We home school for everything else so why not that?

What do you wish your child to achieve this year in this program? I hope that my children will learn patience, responsibility, safe handling and appropriate care of weapons, respect for guns-people-authority-property and have fun while doing it. I hope that my children will gain self-respect, assurance, confidence and pride in their achievements. And yeah... I hope they get a better aim too! Is that asking too much? I don't think so.

My kids have a wonderful team of coaches! They take the time to know the kids. To interact with them individually and encourage them. To show them each that they are worth something! And like Who's line is it anyway... the points don't matter. At the end of the year some have scored high, some not so much. But they ALL did great. The high scores are celebrated and the not so high are congratulated on their improvement and efforts. My heartfelt gratitude and kudos go out to the amazing coaches and assistants who make this program outstanding for the kids who are in it.

Thank you coaches! You're amazing!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 10 - video

The chicks are so curious! Anything in their space gets thoroughly inspected. You can see in the video how much faster the meat birds are growing than the layers. The layers sure hold their own though!

The chicks are busy busy busy but still manage to settle right down for a snuggle with Robin. While the videos are uploading let's talk about kids and animals. Never ever leave a child alone with an animal. For the safety of both. Baby animals are adorable! But they're also fragile and require some special care. Teach children to handle them properly to ensure the safety of both the animals and the kids. Chicks can get sick easily and animals do carry diseases and germs so be sure kids wash well before and after handling them. It's natural for kids to squeeze when they're excited and toss when they're startled so it's helpful to have a smock or towel to set the animal on. This will keep the chick safer and free the child's hands for petting rather than smothering. Draw attention to the way the animal naturally sits and encourage children to hold the animal in a similar way. For chicks the wings should be folded normally and not allowed to flap and feet should be free of obstruction. Be engaged with them. Take the child's hand in yours and show them how to pet gently. This way you can demonstrate appropriate pressure. Gentle with a dog is much different than gentle with a baby chick. If the child will hand feed be sure to warn them about a little pinch and show them to hold their hand flat so there are no little skin folds to be nipped. And don't forget to wash those hands! These early lessons will lead to a long time of mutual enjoyment and fun!

Chick Patrol 1

Another week has passed and boy have those chicks grown!

Day 2 - Look at those wings! Just yesterday there wasn't a feather in sight!

Day 4 - starting to get some color on those feathers and maybe a bit of fluff starting a tail?
Day 6 - Wing feathers are taking shape and they're starting to scratch for food and chasing bugs. We had a minor issue on Day 7. A snow storm came through and left us without power for about 8 hours. It was a bit of a rush to get all the chicks into laundry baskets and around the wood stove to keep them warm without the lights. They fared well though and after a day of sleeping it off they were back to their chirpy, busy selves again.

Day 8 Feathers on top! And definitely showing some tail feathers too!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The chicks are here!

The Chick Mansion is occupied!

What an exciting morning! We received a phone call from the post office at 7 am saying our chicks had arrived! Looking out the door at all the fresh fallen snow (on March 31!) I wasn't pleased with mother nature! The ladies at the post office assured us they were cute as could be and all different colors (Who could resist taking a peek with all those cute chirps?!?) and had taken good care of them and even had them up front near the heat. They're now all in the crates sipping water and chirping away. We lost 2 in travel and a couple lame ones (their feet were stuck in the crate dividers) But overall they look to be a healthy lot.

We used wire hangers to lower the light down as they were all crowding together tight. (Never hang a light from the cord) New chicks need to be kept at about 95 degrees f but you can see this without a thermometer by noting their behavior. If it's too hot the chicks will move away from the light and be listless. If it's too cold they'll group tight together like the picture below. When it's just right they'll be active and moving around. In the photo below Topper keeps guard over these strange noisemakers. We'll have to keep an eye on him! What he's sitting on is a wire grate about 12 x 12". That's where the water goes. Straw is not very stable and we don't like leaks so there is a small block of wood for height with the grate on top for a level surface. We've added vitamins to the water and use medicated chick feed as recommended for good health.

Half of the chicks are being moved to the second crate. This crate has a white light only because the local store was out of red. Red is preferred here as it's less harsh but a chick's gotta have heat. So white it is.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The great chicken adventure!

Box crate on pallet (sorry for the dark photos!)

So it's almost baby chick day! We're getting ready for 175 new chicks that are supposed to arrive in 2 days. It's important to have their place prepared before their arrival because we're getting newly hatched chicks that are just 1 day old. They need to be kept at 95 degrees and can get sick very easily. I was so lucky to score some large box crates at the local feed store! (Erways is great if you're in the area to stop in!) So I've set up 2 of them. They're pretty simple really just a wood pallet on the floor, then a large plastic trash bag (in case there are any leaky water spills), and the box crate on top.

Then a couple layers of cardboard inside the crate.
Some of my kids hopped in to test it out!

Then a couple inches of bedding inside it. We're using straw because it's what we have handy. The kids will have fun shredding paper towels to mix in with it. And after the straw is nice and dry (it was frozen out at the coop) we'll put a layer of window screen over it for the first few days so the chicks don't try to eat the bedding before learning where the food is. You can see we've put duct tape securely over those shipping handles to make sure no chicks wander out or a get a draft. We'll remove that and replace it with screens when they've settled in. Those handle holes will serve a purpose later!

We do free-range our chickens but baby chicks need a good healthy start. So they start out eating medicated chick feed to keep them healthy for the first couple weeks. After they have some feathers we'll switch them to a small ration of natural pellets each day and all the fresh foraging they can find.

Thanks for following our adventures and stay tuned for tomorrow's update after we've finished preparing the Chick Mansion! God Bless!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is it really spoiling?

I'm so excited! My first great-niece will be born in the next 6 weeks! I was blessed to be invited to her baby shower yesterday and it was so much fun shopping for baby Vanezza that I didn't want to stop! What better blessing is there in life than that of a new baby in the family? AND I get to spoil it rotten without doing diaper duty!! WOOHOO!

I don't really think it's possible to spoil an infant. Infants are so pure. They don't even care about STUFF. Babies need a pair of loving arms, a clean and safe place to sleep, and nourishing food. The cute stuff is all about the adults who enjoy it! So I enjoyed myself greatly and I hope her mom and dad enjoy using the gifts as much as I enjoyed shopping for them!

I didn't take a photo of it all but here is a photo of the diaper cake the girls and I made. There's about 140 diapers in there and all kinds of goodies. We had a ton of fun making it!

My girls picked out a cuddly nursing pillow that's pink with white polka dots. They all agreed it was their most favoritist ever baby thing a long time ago when they were babies. HAHA And all the kids made some cute princess pictures to decorate the new baby's room!

The boys picked a camo colored diaper bag so Vanezza's daddy could tote her in style too!

And Great Uncle Dennis determined she HAD to have the perfect, safe, and totally awesome new carseat/stroller combo. And I picked out an adorable black and bright pink travel bed/changing table that I thought would make mommy's job easier and it's just the colors that I thought she'd love! And added in some Dr. Brown's bottles and monitor that I loved with my own babies. We couldn't decide on any one thing so we just got them all! What fun! I can't wait to spoil her more!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Go Fish - Ten Commandment Boogie (VBS Version)

Go Fish - Kickin' It Old School

How it started

Our chicken raising adventure really started out as a science project. A few years ago we decided that raising chickens through a season would be good project for both science and responsibility. My family raised chickens and pigs when I was younger and I didn't remember it fondly with the exception of 1 bawdy rooster who took a fancy to chasing me up the woodpile. The deal was that we would get a dozen chicks and raise them, then at the end of the season the older kids would assist in preparing them for the freezer instead of dissecting frogs for no good reason. We decided free-range would be fine and they wouldn't really need a coop or anything because we were only keeping them for 1 season after all!

So we researched all the needs and care of chickens online and popped on down to the local feed store for some chicks. (If you happen to be in the area Erways is awesome! The people are friendly, the produce is fresh, and the attached restaurant is our favorite place to eat with our large family!) Where we proceeded to obtain all the necessary gadgets for raising chicks. A light, waterer, feeder, chick feed, and most importantly... the chicks.

It went great! We kept them in a pen in the house until they head a hearty coat of feathers and the kids loved on them until they were ready to go outside. Those chickens very quickly learned to follow the kids around when they were outside and it was so cute to watch them line up at the front window peeking in when we weren't. Then came fall. Time to end our project but the kids decided they wanted to keep them. Forever. It had been a great year for them and the hens were laying eggs that all enjoyed. The kids learned a lot and we all enjoyed having them so we said if the kids would care for them and keep them alive through the winter we would keep them and build a coop in the spring. The chickens spent their first winter living on our front porch (much to my husband's dismay) and in the spring we added a few more chickens.

We didn't get a coop built that second year. But we didn't want them on the porch either! We settled them in the lean-to shed by the garage with some nest boxes and I think it was only 5 minutes before they were back on the porch. All year we tried to encourage them to use that instead of the porch but they were set in their ways and quite determined to live with the family.

The third year we began a chicken coop. We got as far as building the foundation for it before I ended up sick and there just wasn't time in the day. So they spent another year living on our porch. The kids were still very much wanting to keep them and care for them and we had grown quite fond of having our fresh eggs!

So the fourth year my mother and father in law helped out. They built this awesome little coop out of scrap lumber that would fit just perfectly on the foundation I had made. And the chickens wouldn't use it! We really wanted them off the porch! I tried closing them in the coop for a couple days so they'd get used to it as their home and as soon as they came out they were right back on the porch. So we did the next best thing. We bought more. We added 25 chicks and 2 turkeys to the flock and THIS TIME we took them directly to the coop when they had their feathers so they would learn the coop as their home. We figured the older hens were set in their ways and as they grew old at least the newer ones would be at the coop and we would eventually reclaim our porch.

We still have a couple of the birds from our first flock who claim the porch as their own. 5 years old and laying just as good as that first year and looking just as pretty! They're pretty spry in their old age! By all accounts a chicken's life is 1-4 years so with all our learning we must be doing something right! The younger chickens use the coop most of the time and after a minor hassle with a couple roosters who decided to guard the coop from a tree we have just a couple old biddies sharing the front porch.

So this year as I posted earlier I got ahead of myself and decided to go big. We'll have about 200 chickens this year and a lot of work! But from past experience we're going to love it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crazy Ma is at it again!

Wow! I can't believe I remembered my login info! I don't blog nearly enough! That's all about to change though.... maybe. Hopefully. I did something totally crazy today! So what's new? HAHA! I had planned on ordering 50 new chicks this year to expand my chicken flock. I ended up ordering a few more... 175 to be exact! EEK! They're scheduled to arrive March 30 so stay tuned for our latest chicken adventures! In the meantime here's a couple photos of last year's chicks! If I can figure out how to post them!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Fun

Baby it's cold outside! Here in PA my family and I live somewhat rural. It's often too cold for the younger kids to play outside and we really don't have too many options for getting out of the house. There is no mall to roam or play lands to visit or mommy and me gym classes so we spend a lot of time indoors at home.

By January the kids have been cooped up for a month or more and starting to get bored. Their new Christmas toys have all been played with, their stocking treats are depleted, and their games have all been played and brushed aside. So it's time for me to find them some new and exciting things to entertain themselves with! Here are some things that we've already done or are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to try!

Making ice cream - YUM, who can resist a tempting treat like that?? Here are a couple different ways kids can make it right at home. (made this one in the summer and it worked good but melted quickly in the hot sun! - like that was a surprise! lol)

This is the one we'll be trying today!
(I don't have a link for this source but it was copied from a friend's facebook and I don't remember which one, so if I got this from you and you have a link please message me so I can give proper credit!)
Sisse Pfieffer 's famous snow cream
1 big bowl of clean snow
In another large bowl mix:
1 to 2 C. sugar
1 to 2 tsp. vanilla flavor
...1 to 2 C. milk
1 to 2 raw eggs (optional)
After mixing those well, taste to be sure that it is very sweet, the snow will dilute the taste. Add more sugar if needed. (hard to dissolve sugar after you add the snow.) Start adding snow until you get the consistency you like.


Snow painting! We filled some spray bottles with water and a couple drops of food coloring then used them to decorate baking pans full of snowballs. When the colored snow melted we tossed it out in the yard to color the snow outside!

Snow science!

We did some experiments to see how long it took for snowballs to melt inside the house in different places. On the woodstove, in the freezer, in the laundry room, in the fridge, in the tub.... covered, uncovered

Here are some more snow science activities to try!


Make a snow globe!

Take a clean baby food jar (or any small jar with a tight fitting lid - or even a small, clear tupperware container for small children)

glue pretty decorations inside it, add some sparkle, add water with a drop of lemon vinegar (to prevent bacteria growth), seal and shake!


Pudding painting

Tape a piece of paper to a high chair tray or table and let the kids paint with pudding on it. It's completely edible so there is no worry about small children eating their 'paint' and you can use food color to color vanilla pudding any colors you like! Cleanup is as easy as after a snack and pudding dries solid on paper so you can keep the artwork afterward.


Snow tracks!

Ever sprinkled baking soda on your carpet to remove odors? Let the kids help! Put the baking soda on a baking sheet and let the kids walk through it making tracks on the carpet. Vacuum when done!


Chocolate spoons

A tasty treat they can make and looks cute too! melt some chocolate pieces in a cup and dip plastic spoons in it. Hang to dry then wrap with plastic wrap and a pretty ribbon until snack time. Use them to stir their warm milk for a chocolaty treat.


Kids lost or outgrown their baby mittens? Let the kids fill them with dry beans and sew the end closed for some cute bean bags to toss into a circle on the floor for a fun game!


Snowman dressup! Little kids love to dress up! Instead of the every day princess and superhero costumes set out the bin of snow hats, mittens, and scarves! What fun to dress up like eskimos and live in a sofa-cushion igloo for a day!

Enjoy this time! Before long your kids will be out running with their friends and you'll wish they were home sipping cocoa and munching cookies with you!