Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jacob is Nine Years Old

Happy Birthday to our sweet, cute, witty young man. He has a warrior's heart filled with determination and strength of spirit.

Our strong willed, stubborn boy can sway with the wind, but can hold firm like solid rock when he feels he needs to.

He is always ready to find something new to investigate, discover and learn; active and adventurous, loves to explore. He is always ready with a new and imaginative story or joke and can't wait to make a new friend where ever he goes.

Happy Birthday little man! 

May your will, determination, and friendly personality continue to shape and guide you in the right direction with strength and steadfast spirit that keeps you on your path through life. 

Love you always!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Noah's Eleven

Eleven Years Old!
Happy Birthday Noah, you have added so much to our life over the years, so much spirit, so much adventure and so many blessings. We love you and have loved watching you grow into the wonderful young man you are becoming. Here's to many, many more years to watch you become the man you will be.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Exploring Our Woods

We went on an adventure this morning exploring our(and our neighbor's) woods. We went in search of a plant that I have seen in the past but hadn't noticed in a couple of years. Apparently deer really like this plant so it is hard to spot because it is usually stripped down every year from the browsing beasts(and I do say that with affection I love them, they are beautiful...but why do they have to eat all the good stuff?)
Anyway, the plant we were searching for is called Euonymus americanus. Some of its common names are American strawberry bush, Strawberry bush, Hearts-a-burstin, or Bursting heart. It is from the staff tree or bittersweet family(Celastraceae) of plants. It is one of our North American native species.

This very distinct and unusual shrub has dark green stems, bright green oval lance shaped leaves that have almost no stem and are pointed on both ends. The leaves will turn red in fall. The flowers are small greenish five petal flowers that kind of float above the leaves on their long-ish stems. The fruits and seeds are odd hard little round capsules that are a pinkish red and bumpy. When they are ripe and pop open they reveal bright orange seeds that hang on to the bottom of the capsule usually in groups of 4 or 5. It can grow to be between 2-6 feet tall. The pictures I was able to get are difficult to really see what the plant looks like, because the deer have mostly eaten all of the leaves off of the plant. But now I know that I didn't lose it and will be able to protect it next year.

Some of the other things we found on our explore.

 A frog:

Lots of caterpillars and bugs:

Interesting mushrooms/fungi:

Lots of moss that was fuzzy to touch:

Lots and lots...and lots of spider webs and spiders:
We found some but most of them found us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Farm and Garden: Goat Antics

Yesterday we found out that these little girls have a sense of adventure, well at least one of them does. After putting them away in the evening, giving them their feed and water, and spending some time with them so that we can get them used to us, we left them to settle in for the evening. About an hour later, Noah comes running through the house to go outside screaming, "a goat is out, a goat is out!", and at the same time there was a horrible wailing outside. I walk outside and Charlotte is frantically running around the chicken pen, and her pen trying to figure out how in the world she is going to get back in. Willow is in the pen screaming her head off as if to say what are you doing! So I get a little scratch for Charlotte and coax her back into her pen and tell them good night again. About twenty minutes later there is some banging noises outside and the wailing starts again...I go outside and Charlotte is at it again frantically running around. The first time, we thought she escaped through the gate because it wasn't closed tight enough, so on the way out I made sure it was secure. When it happened the second time, I figured out that she is an escape artist and she somehow jumped through a hole that we left in the little shelter that we built. I am not at all sure how she accomplished it, especially without killing herself or breaking a leg, but it looks like the only other way out of the pen. So we put up a temporary fencing around the hole, and she hasn't gotten out again.

They have been so much fun the last couple of days. They are getting more comfortable with us. We have discovered that Willow tends to be the most curious, but also very cautious. Charlotte seems to be the more agile and adventurous. They seem to really enjoy the children, especially Benjamin, probably because they are about the same size. They also seem very taken with Noah, but that's not surprising because he is comfortable with all of the animals. Evelyn and Jacob are becoming more comfortable with them, they move too fast and is frightens the goats a bit. Nathan likes to watch them from a far. The goats and I are having a bit of difficulty because I was a source of stress for them in the beginning. Catching them, carrying them around, collaring them, leashing them and teaching them to walk on a lead has all been very stressful. They are really fast learners and I guess I am too. I have learned that a pan of scratch will guide them pretty much anywhere you want them to go, and so will a hand full of raisins. They still don't like being on leash, but they don't mind as much when they are distracted and I am assuming as they get older they will mind less and go along with what we need them to do. as much as I want to let them roam the yard, stray and roaming dogs in our area make me nervous for their safety. as they get older we will have more fencing for them as we rotate it around the yard for them to browse.

It is a learning experience for all of us, but so far so good...

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Farm and Garden: Bees

By some small miracle, we still have bees. I'm not sure at all how we are going to keep them alive over the winter. The other day, when sadly cleaning up where the hives were to clean everything out and save it for when we start over in the Spring, I noticed a couple of bees coming out of a swarm trap that we put out thinking that the robber hive may have been a late swarm. I opened up the hive cover, and there were a small group of bees busy working on two of the frames in the box. I had to quickly close them up and block the entrance down, because the robber hive almost immediately came out from wherever they are hiding and swarmed in for the attack. So far it looks like they have survived the last attack and are still hanging in there.

Farm and Garden: Goats

It finally happened! Friday evening we brought home two new additions. Charlotte and Willow are now a part of our growing farm family. The trip home was a bit stressful for them and they were a little panicked by the time we got them out of the back of my SUV. Noah and I carefully got the dog kennel out of the back of the car and I carried each of them carefully to one of the pens in the back yard where they had to temporarily share space with the rabbits. Separating the goats for the time to get them from the car to the pen seemed like a moment of pure torture for them and they were screaming like babies. I'm not sure what our neighbors were thinking, but it was not at all a pleasant moment. After a bit of timid walking around the pen they found the hidden rabbits and it was interesting. The rabbits were trying to hide and they were trying to figure out what the heck those lightning fast fuzzy balls were. It was so very cute to see their curious looks and posturing. By the time we got them in the yard and settled it was getting dark so the children were not able to play with the kids. They are making up for that now, I'm sure that by this afternoon all the kids will be well acquainted. So now we need to find a puppy to go with the goats.

Saturday morning Noah came in our room saying we almost have our own personal petting zoo. I guess we are getting there.

So, why the goats? I'm sure many will ask...We have a beautiful piece of property, that unfortunately is so very over grown it will take a huge amount of effort to clear and in an effort to find alternative ways of doing-instead of using big machinery, or slowly working it by hand-we have decided to employ a few goats to eat their way through the overgrowth and stuff we don't want. We will have a moveable pen that we set up around the yard so that they can happily munch away and mow down on a rotation schedule to keep our yard cleaner and neater.
Next year we will breed them so that we can begin milking the following year. We will be able to use milk in cheese and soap. So...that's the plan in a nutshell.