Monday, April 28, 2008

Nothing cuter than a baby chick.

Another miraculous day. We had 17 chicks hatch successfully at a friends' home and one late chick hatched yesterday. It was utterly limp and both Brian and I were certain it wouldn't make it. This morning it had finally gained its feet and by this afternoon was staggering around in the incubator. This evening, I decided to risk putting it with the others in the brooder. The others accepted it without pecking too much and by the time Brian got home, it was so fluffy and vibrant that he couldn't even tell which one it was. Hooray! Here you can see him nestled next to the food jar- he's the orange/brown one in a sea of dark grey chicks.

I candled the goose eggs, and they are actually developing, so in a month or so we have a chance at some goslings. Cross your fingers and say a prayer!
An update on the mother goose- She did not perish as was earlier thought. Our neighbor Norman saw her at a nearby church munching grass and tried to round her up. She hissed at him, eluded his grasp and took to flight after running down the hill. He said she flew almost 2 miles before setting down. So I'm sure she's doing just fine.

We had a marvelous weekend camping with the cub scouts at a neighboring farm. Allen participated in the fishing derby and walked away with the prize for the biggest fish! Everyone took the competition so seriously with special rigs, magic hormone baits and worm-theiving. Allen ran out of worms (due to aforementioned theiving) and so moved on to leftover breakfast pancakes as bait. They only lasted moments in the water, but were yummy enough to draw the fish, so it got the best results. He caught a 7 1/2 inch and a 7 3/4 inch brem, the biggest and the second biggest fish in the competition. He also was promoted to Webelo rank, very exciting for him.

Emily caught a little brem, but her biggest acheivement was learning how to cast into the middle of the lake unassisted. She is scheduled to participate in a horse show on Sunday, her first show- pictures to follow!

Monday, April 21, 2008


Our car has a pass-through into the trunk -- a small, door-like opening from the trunk into the passenger compartment, designed to allow one to carry long items, such as skis or long-handled utensils.

The other day, as usual, we dropped our children off at school. The school was not yet open when we pulled up. Whilst we were waiting, our oldest, a boy, asked if he could crawl through the pass-through to retrieve an item from his school bag. I granted permission, not thinking he could fit through the small space. Well, he could. And did.

After a few moments, his small, plaintive voice wafted in from the trunk. He was unable to fit back through the crawl-through, and wondered if we might rescue him.

As I got out of the car, the front door of the school, right in front of which we were parked, opened, and a teacher came out to welcome the students. She greeted her first student as his dad opened the trunk of the family car and the child came bounding out.

The authorities have not contacted us about this incident...

Spring Sorrow

Well, I am learning that with loving animals comes a certainty of grief. Keeps me on my toes. We were able to get a lovely new goose for Pilgrim, named her Gracie. 3 days later, our dogs caught her outside the fence and attacked her. She escaped to the refuge of our neighbors' pond only to disappear beneath the surface while the kids were watching. We still have no idea how a enormous waterfowl could drown, nor what has happened to her body. It has drawn our small neighborhood of farmers together as we all banded together to find her the first time and now, to try to figure out what happened to her. Submerged rope? Snapping turtle? We'll probably never know.
Then, in the afternoon on Sunday a coyote showed up out of the blue and snatched a chicken from my yard. I was outside raking and screamed at him to no avail. He ran off just long enough to deposit his catch and was back for another one. I charged him screaming my head off and waving my arms and he just looked at me as if calculating if he could nab another meal before he ran off. Needless to say, I called my neighbors with shotguns for backup before I relaxed a little. It was completely unnerving- He was only 15 feet away and the size of a German Shepherd and I've never been that close to an uncaged wild animal in my life. So far we haven't found him.
The baby chick and keet are growing well and we expect a hatch next weekend from our chicken eggs. The guineas have laid another nest in the woods- we'll see how long they survive out there. I'll probably incubate the goose's eggs next and only help the guineas if the nest is destroyed. The neighbor has been allowing a friend to hunt racoons on his property with good results so the chances are fair the nest will make it.
All of this ensures that life is never dull and that my kids are developing a bit of a fatalistic view of how life and death work.
One funny moment: I put in my garden and some flowers out front and our little dog, Toby got quite muddy. I watched TV until fairly late and when it was time to go to bed, just couldn't face crawling in without getting a shower first. With how dirty Toby was, I decided to wash him up while I was in there. He got all cleaned up and when released zoomed off through the house. Each time he gets a shower, it's like this mega high for him and he has to burn off energy for at least 20 minutes chasing our other dogs. Well, it's nearly midnight at this point, so I nab him and plop him on the bed hoping to settle him down. He starts digging at the covers and spinning around in an attempt to go to sleep- only its like he's in Fast forward mode. It was the funniest thing watching him spin like a dervish for 15 minutes before he finally collapsed to rest.
Life is good.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mary and kittens

The Best Weekend

Do you ever get the feeling that God is totally looking out for you? Well, this weekend turned out to be one of those times. It started out bad- the Cub Scouts were slated to hold their annual Camporee and somehow both Brian and I had forgotten to sign up. Despite many phone calls and emails, it was not going to happen for us. I was so disappointed and mad at myself for forgetting.
Then, Friday morning my friend Ginger calls and says, "Would this weekend be O.K. for Phillip to bring the girls down for a visit?" Knowing that we were basically stuck with nothing to do but assemble a swingset we had ordered, I said,we would LOVE it!
That evening as he was driving down, our area had what could only be described as a Monsoon. We were under tornado watch, with reported sightings within 20 miles and must have gotten 1-2 inches of rain. We've been in a drought so long that it was an answer to prayer.
I couldn't help but praise God that I had not spent all day preparing for a weekend of camping and most of the afternoon setting up a campsite only to have that deluge arrive on my head. I've never been so glad to miss a scouting function.
Earlier in the day, another answer to prayer came through. We have a Pilgrim gander. He came to us from a family who was having problems with his aggression. [Sure! Send him to me--I actually LOVE aggressive 40 lb. birds!] He had lost his mate, and the family thought he was being aggressive competing with their other gander over the other gander's goose. HeeHee. Sorry, that whole sentence just makes me want to laugh. Anyways, "Pilgrim" as we now call him, has been incredibly lonely. He does like hanging out with all our other birds and gets along with them well. But, he follows me around like a lovestruck teenager/ puppy dog and when I am not out in the yard, he hangs out near my car and moons over his reflection. Even Brian said, "Julie, we have got to get that boy a goose." Well, despite much looking online I was unable to find anyone who would sell me a single goose. It appears these geese are a rare breed, valued for their quiet and gentle temperment, and people only sell them in pairs. I spoke to the Livestock Conservancy and they gave me the name of a person in NC that had raised Pilgrim geese previously. I was actually able to contact her and she had an extra goose and was willing to sell her to me. She is only 2-3 hours away and is also a chicken and guinea hen lover and a nice lady.
So hopefully, next Saturday, Pilgrim will finally find a new love.
Saturday dawned overcast and cool. I loaded the girls up and off we headed to Emily's riding lesson. Emily was thrilled to have her friends accompanying her. It honestly stopped drizzling just long enough for her to have a nice ride while we watched and didn't start again until I was finished with my lesson. I even learned how to do the posting trot!! Oh, the undescribable pain for the next three days-- but I digress. Basically, as we pulled out, it proceeded to pour for the rest of the day. I had a house full of happy kids playing inside with each other due to God's mercy and provision.
Phillip was even able to get an appt. with my chiropractor, so his back will finally be better.
Sunday we thoroughly enjoyed taking the kids to church, and the sun finally appeared. We decided to attempt to assemble the swingset after lunch. With all three of us working hard, we just finished at sundown. I Knew I shouldn't have trusted the label when it promised "4-6 hours assembly time"! And there was no way under heaven that we could have accomplished it without a third person's help. The fact that Phillip in a previous life assembled play structures for Home Depot just was icing on the cake.
Monday saw my friends heading back with a carrier full of guinea hens and one lovely rooster. My kids were devastated but had made full plans to keep in touch on Webkins world (don't ask!) through the chat room/Clubhouse there.
Last night, one of the chicken eggs hatched. I stared in wonder for at least an hour. I don't know why I'm such a softie for these little wobbly creatures, but they just fill me with awe that They were inside an EGG just a moment ago.
Tonight, "Cheepie" is at least twice the size, all fluff and racket. It is figuring out how to eat and drink. It seems lonely. I keep checking the incubator for signs of life from the other eggs the guinea was sitting on, but so far no luck. I guess it was a miracle that even this one made it. Only half of her nest was fertile and she was distressed to be away from her flock. She was so glad to be let loose..........maybe she wasn't sitting on them as much as she needed to.
The kittens continue to grow upstairs as well. They are starting to venture out of their closet and three of them were sidling up to me, climbing over my foot and allowing me to pet them this afternoon. I hope they will all learn to trust humans and will always have humans they can trust.
Another weekend approaches. I doubt it can match the last one, but I know God will show me his hand of love and mercy if I keep my eyes peeled for it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring has arrived!

This is definately my favorite time of year. The guinea hens have laid a nest and one of them is diligently sitting on the eggs. Each day I anxiously check to see if there is any progress. Our kittens, born two weeks ago are an endless fascination. I have to be careful when I go upstairs to check on them to not lose track of time. They are starting to move around so much, crawling over each other and mock battling with their paws. Their mom, Mary, is taking such good care of them, their little bellies resemble tennis balls- they are so fat.
In Charlotte, the trees are in full bloom. I've never lived in a city that celebrates the blooming tree so much- they are everywhere- white, pink, yellow blossoms flying through the air and down the streets. Right now the yard is the only place I want to be.