Archive for May, 2011

Same Baby Guineas – Different Camera…

May 30, 2011

Thanks to my husband and his shared enthusiasm about our new babies on the farm…

And his very cool professional camera…



This is Sawyer, our dog, looking in at the babies 🙂


The babies are so small!





She did it!!! Baby Guineas Appear…

May 29, 2011

Remember my Guinea who’s been sitting for so long?  Well, I had a “feeling” about today.

and I was right!!

I went out to check on her because the noises from the Guineas were different than they’d been in the last couple of days.

Dave had gone down to feed the pigs the scraps from lunch and I heard him calling the dogs.

I was so excited cuz as I came around the corner, there they all were!  Mom and her 15 babies!

If you’re counting the babies in the pictures – you’ll only get to 13.

That’s because 2 were having a really hard time keeping up and got left behind.  So Tori went down to scoop them up.

Look at that white one – would loved to have brought that one in with the others.  Those bright orange legs!  They’re so cute 🙂

A male was with her and they wanted into the back pasture.  I opened the gate to let them through – all the while telling her what a great job she did and she was going to be such a terrific mom!

We’re all elated because we’ve never had anything like this happen on our farm.  It will be fun to watch how she takes care of all those babies and how they learn to fend for themselves.

We went back to where the nest was and there was a peeping sound…

Another one had hatched at some point and it was still wet.  Number 16!

We brought the 3 orphans inside and put them in the brood box.

Aren’t they adorable!?  And only hours old!

And by the way, yesterday, another mom got off her nest and we brought in a bunch of her eggs and put them in the incubator to see if we could hatch them out.

She did go back to her nest so we left 5 in there for her.

Why do I have the feeling in a month we may be overrun with Guineas!

When a Bathroom Scale Won’t Do…

May 28, 2011

Last Sunday, Lynn and I had to take 2 steers to the butcher.

We had a dilemma, however.  We needed to know how much the steers weighed so we could start learning how to “eye” a steer and give a good guess on the weight.

After some discussion, we decided the best thing to do would be to take the truck and trailer to a truck scale.

My truck is not small by any means, but in comparison to a tractor trailer truck, it’s a midget!

Lynn ran inside to see if this would be possible…

Yes, just follow the instructions posted on the scale.

Reading, reading, reading …problem with the 4th instruction.  And I have no clue how to slide an axle on the scale, so I guess that one didn’t apply.

I didn’t have a problem with waiting for a response.  I could be very patient when I needed to be.

It was “press the button” that was going to be a little difficult!

Even when we pulled the truck onto the scale, those little yellow buttons were above our heads!

Don’t tell Dave, but Lynn had to quickly step on the plastic pocket on the inside of the door and kind of jump to smash the button.  It only took 2 tries and then we finally heard the voice in the box 🙂

So we weighed the truck and the trailer with the 2 steers and then stopped again on the way back with an empty trailer and weighed again.

Subtracted the one weight from the other and voila!  We had the weight for our two steers.  Divided that number by two and called it close enough 🙂

And besides, it was way easier to use the truck scale than to try and lift the steer in our arms and step on the bathroom scale!


Snapping Turtle by the Creek

May 27, 2011

A couple of friends had called this morning about trees that had gone down on their farm.  For one friend, the tree blocked the driveway making it impassable.  For the other, trees hit two spots on the fence and the steers were out!

I decided I should probably have Michael check out the fence line too.  After a bit, I got a phone call from him…. ( love those cell phones!)

“Mom!  You gotta come down to the creek!  I found this huge turtle and he’s really cool!”

“I’ll do my best – I have a Homestead Tour in about 15 minutes.  How ’bout I send Ali down with the camera?  (Thus, a couple of fuzzy pics).”

“Well, that would be okay but you’d really like this turtle. (my kids know me so well!).”

I never did make it down to the creek before the group got here – wish I had after I saw the pictures!

This is the biggest Snapper I’ve seen around here.

Apparently Michael tried to touch it and the turtle whipped his head out so fast it scared Michael – only a very little bit of course.  But enough that Michael said he wouldn’t try it again 🙂

Look at the webbing on the legs, and the tail, and the claws, and the spikes, and that massive head!

Yeah – sorry I missed this one.  Sure is a beauty!

And Where Would You Have Your Babies?? Nesting Guineas!

May 26, 2011

I started with 6 Guineas last spring.  On Christmas day, we noticed one was missing and I found a pile of feathers.

Christmas dinner for some fortunate animal.   So in the spirit of Christmas, I tried not to be too upset.

Now we had 5 Guineas running around the farm.  About a month ago, I noticed another one was missing and had a small panic – I really like my Guineas!  I didn’t find any feathers…and then it dawned on me – it’s Spring!!  Babies happen in Spring!

I found her hiding in my flowers…

Couple of days ago, I noticed another one was “missing.”   And today – I only saw 2 running around the farm!

There could only be one answer – 2 more of my Guineas were nesting somewhere…

Found this one on the side of the house – the cooler side, under a tree, in a clump of grass.

I’m guessing these last 2 are males.  They’re very protective of this particular female – maybe cuz she’s a little bit more exposed.

I got little too close when I was looking at her and she got up from the nest – she had a big bunch of eggs under her!

“Don’t worry about a thing dear.  You just sit there and I will take care of everything!”

“What?  You think you hear something?”

“No need to worry – it’s just Misty passin’ by.”

I’d heard this one squawk but I had a harder time spotting her.  Over beside the house – same side as the other one in the grass, there’s a small pile of lumber.

She’d tucked herself in between the pieces of wood.  Her head is covered but not her body.

She reminds me of little kids when they play hide and seek.  If you can’t see my face then you can’t see me!

And lastly, my first “disappearing” Guinea is still sitting in the flowers on the other side of the house.

Sitting time for Guineas is 26 – 28 days.  She should have babies next week if my calculations are correct.

And by the way – if you were a Guinea, which place would you choose to have your babies!?

Garden Walk – May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011

My cabbages are coming along nicely so far.  The weather’s been perfect but it’s supposed to hit the 90’s by the weekend.  Since cabbages are a cool weather crop, we’ll see how they hold up.  I was really  hoping to make sauerkraut this year!

Pulled quite a few cabbage worms off of them this morning.  Wasps will also eat the worms but I thought I’d lend a hand!

So far, I like the cucumbers on the bed frame…

It does require a bit more time for tying up the plants.  I’ve gotten 3 cukes out of here so far.

Remember these eggs from the last post?  Well, they finally hatched…

Thank goodness for the micro setting on my camera.  I honestly couldn’t see them.

After seeing these pics, I do believe these are Ladybug larva and they consume more aphids than an adult Ladybug.  This particular tomato plant had quite a few aphids on the leaves.

These eggs still have not hatched but they went from being clear to this greyish-brown color.  I’ll keep checking…

It’s the end of the season for this lettuce.

I pinched out the middle so they wouldn’t bolt and it’s helped them last longer.  Don’t they look like little trees?

I have to say, this is my first year for growing Kale and I love it – both the look and the taste.  It will definitely become a regular in the garden from now on.

Garden Walk – May 13, 2011

May 13, 2011

This year I tried something new with my cucumbers.  I’d seen in a book where the person had used a bed frame as a trellis.  Only it was a horizontal trellis.  This is a left-over bunk bed frame.

The idea is to get the plants to grow on top of the frame and the cucumbers, or whatever else you grow, will hang under the frame.  This will help with air circulation, mildew problems and keeping the fruit or vegetables cleaner.  And maybe I’ll see the cucumbers before they become baseball bat size!

I have lots of these on my plants…

And these…

But this is my favorite!!!

Ever grown Tomatillos?  They’re a staple in Mexican cuisine and wonderful in salsa!

The flowers remind me of Spanish dancers…

And the fruit or tomato comes wrapped in a paper sack.  They’re  wonderful to grow and by the looks of mine – we’re going to have an abundance this year 🙂

And here’s the baby tomato we’re all familiar with.

Was glad to see this on the underside of one of the tomato leaves.  Know what it is?

It’s the egg of a Lacewing – a beneficial insect for the garden.  I love how they look like little balloons on the end of a string…

And I saw these on my tomato plants too.

This one plant has more than I like to see…

But between this Lady Bug and the Lacewing, they won’t be there long!

On the same leaf as the Lacewing egg, I also saw these…

And these…

Three different types of eggs on this one leaf.  I feel like there’s a major battle about to begin.  I know that insects lay eggs where they know there will be food.  I just want to know if these two are beneficials or not.  I left them on the leaf so I can check on them to see what emerges.

Okay, I’m thinking Sci-Fi….

And the alien is born!!!!   (the flower of a wild onion)

Did I tell you that one of my Guineas is setting?  I’m so excited, although I’ve heard they’re not great mothers…

She sure is beautiful and so far, very committed!  Hmmm- shouldn’t that one egg be tucked up underneath, Momma Guinea?

These were everywhere today in one part of my flower garden.

I believe this is the American Hover Fly and they are hugely beneficial!

Adult drinks nectar. The larva preys on aphids and larvae of scale insects.

Ahh, and the jury is out on this one!  Stink bug or Soldier bug?  One is good, the other is not…

It was on my Rue plant and I found it interesting that it was yellow underneath.  Don’t remember noticing this before…

The flowers on this plant are yellow and about the same size as this insect.

And one of my favorites!!  Found this Praying Mantis on the Lambs Ear.  Must feel like a giant feather bed!

This little guy was only about a 1/2″ long…

Ever look closely at all the little tiny flowers of the Yarrow plant?  They’re beautiful….

Thanks for sharing my walk with me 🙂

My Mother’s Day Gift

May 10, 2011

I wish this blog began with a cute little story about how my kids made me pancakes and eggs and woke me up with breakfast in bed; how we snuggled and laughed in my queen size bed; how we told stories and then got ready for church and attended as a family…

But it’s not.

Mother’s Day 2011 will forever be a special day of remembrance for me and for my family… a weekend of sobering life lessons.

Let me go back a few weeks to give full understanding of why this particular Mother’s Day is so significant.

Spring is the busiest time of the year at the farm with classes and events, planting, baby animals who need a bit more care, intensity with beekeeping, homestead tours, and the general everyday up keep that comes with spring time.

Spring also means the beginning of the end of a school year for each of the kids – final exams, drama productions and extra rehearsals, a myriad of extra errands, and the added anxiety and excitement of being finished with school.

In the midst of all of this, Dave had the amazing opportunity to travel to Brazil with Crown Financial to document the trip through the lens of a camera – both photography and videography.  Dave was away for almost 3 weeks.

I knew what was ahead for me for the month of April and I took on the challenge with my usual “no big deal, I can handle this” attitude.  I’m not afraid of work, in fact, I love to work.  Often I will push myself to the limit, recharge, and start over again.

However, by the end of April, I was hitting the wall of exhaustion.  I set my eye on Mother’s Day knowing that Dave would be returning, the kids would be completely finished with school, farm classes and events would be concluded until June, and at this point, I could finally recharge.

By Friday last week, I was more than ready for the change in schedule and really looking forward to a slower pace.  The last month and a half was truly the hardest I had ever pushed myself and the 3 -4 hours of sleep at night was beginning to take its toll.

Friday last week was an early morning – I had to finish preparing for a pre-school homestead tour at the farm.  After a fantastic tour with 17 preschoolers, siblings and parents, my kids and I and a friend of theirs who had spent the night, were going over to another farm to help put in posts for an arena.  First, I dropped the kids off and headed to another farm to check on my bees and take care of animals since the owner of this farm was out of town.  Finished the bees and headed back to the other farm to help with posts.  4:30, got Ali, left Megan and Michael, and drove into Athens to meet Lauren.  She and Ali were going to go shopping and out to dinner – girls’ night!

After I met up with Lauren, I drove back out to the country to meet up with a friend for dinner.  She was delayed.  I didn’t mind – I walked around the square, looked in windows and realized it had been a long time since I’d been by myself with nothing to do for a few minutes.

My friend arrived and we went into the restaurant for dinner.  We had a wonderful time talking and visiting…..

Toward the end of the meal, I felt “funny”, like someone had drugged my food.  My tongue felt weird and my speech didn’t sound right to me.  I was dizzy and light headed, my right arm tingled and felt a little numb.  I mentioned to my friend that something was up.  We decided to go.  It was difficult to walk to the counter to pay for dinner, I could hardly hold the pen to write my name.  It all seemed so surreal.

I kept thinking, “It’s not my left side, I should be alright.”

My friend drove me back to her place – it was about a mile away.  I lay down and rested for a while.  All the symptoms went away – my tongue taking the longest to subside.  I still had to go pick up the kids from the farm where we’d been working and then drive home – about an hour or so of driving and it was close to 11pm already.

I called another friend when I got in the car and told her what had happened…

“Have you talked with Catherine yet?”

“No, it’s late.  She drove to Greenville and back today and I’m sure she’s in bed.”

“Hmmm.  I really think you should run this by Catherine and just see what she says.”

“I think I’m just tired but okay, I will.”

Catherine, our eldest is a nurse.  I called her and told her what had happened.  I kept thinking, “What a difficult predicament to put her in.  I’m her mom and I’m the one who’s always taken care of the kids and now I’m asking her to take care of me, tell me what to do.”

Dave was still in Brazil and out of internet service and I really didn’t think there was any need to cause alarm, especially when I had no answers.  I really believed this was happening because I was so tired.  Except for the tongue thing – that worried me a little.

Picked up the kids and drove home.  The kids were laughing and joking and I was silently praying that nothing more would happen while I was driving.

Catherine met me at the house and by then I really felt that all I needed to do was go to bed…until I took my blood pressure.

I have a cuff at home.  Ever since my first baby, I’ve been borderline hypertensive.  My pregnancies always ended with concern over my blood pressure.  I’ve been on medication, had times when it would spike but for the most part it was under control.  I’d heard all the info – it’s the silent killer, it affects women, watch your weight, be careful with your diet….  I half- heartedly gave acknowledgement to the statistics and the warnings.  I had been taking my blood pressure meds sporadically and had noticed that my bp had gone up a little recently. I kept telling myself, Mother’s Day I will slow down and get everything for myself back on track.  Just hang on to Mother’s Day.

When I took my blood pressure at home Friday night, I realized I needed to go to the hospital.  It had spiked and I didn’t have the meds at home to bring it down.  Catherine drove me to the ER.

It was difficult leaving the kids.  It was late at night.  Dave was in a foreign country, Victoria in South Carolina.   I, the strong one, the backbone for the family at this time, was headed to the hospital – what a horrible feeling.  My kids, especially Michael, rose to the occasion and took charge at home.  Lauren was already in bed asleep because she had to work the next day.

We arrived at the hospital and Catherine knew the routine.  She mentioned a possible stroke and they whisked me away to start getting vitals.  Blood pressure was very high, EKG normal, all symptoms from earlier were gone, and I had no headache – never had had one.

They sent me for a cat scan.  Result – a small spot of bleeding on the left side of my brain.  The doctor called it a “brain bleed.”

I was told I would have to spend the night in the Neuro Unit.  I was not happy.  I wanted to go home.  They wanted to observe me and make sure my bp was going down.

Catherine stayed with me until I was settled in the room.  She left around 3:30am or so, Saturday morning.  What an incredible support she’d been – so strong.  It wasn’t until the next day that I would find out that she cried almost the whole way home and prayed for my safety. …ahh, my heart.  What a horrible burden to put on a child.

My reality check came a few hours later when the Doctor of Neurology walked in the room.  I was intent on getting out of the hospital – I wanted to be with my kids, I had jobs that weren’t finished, people depending on me.

And then she told me straight what had happened, how lucky I was, and the severity of the situation if I didn’t heed her cautions and instructions.  I broke down and cried…

My mortality stared back at me.  I could have died or been left an invalid.  My mind was reeling with questions, the precious faces of my children before me.  Oh God – why???

It’s amazing how in a split second, all your goals and dreams become rubble in the light of eternity.  All that seemed so important to me vanished as I began to comprehend the magnitude of what had happened to me hours before.

I had pushed too hard, I was not invincible, the health I had always depended on was failing me…I was devastated.

An overwhelming thought loomed before me…

If I’m dead, I can’t be there for my children, I can’t hug them and comfort them, laugh with them and cry with them, I can’t even drive them around.

If I’m dead, Dave would be a widower….

If I’m dead, the farm and all I’ve worked toward won’t exist anymore.

Sobering thoughts, emotional valleys, tears of despondency and despair.  This was my wake-up call, my reality check…

I’m for the most part, a very optimistic person.  It took a couple of hours before I could start to see the good in all of this and begin to make heads or tails of my situation.  I refused to live in fear and I needed a plan to hang onto to ensure that changes would be made.

The irony about all this is, I had been contemplating the changes that needed to be made before this incident had happened.  How many family and friends had warned me that I needed to slow down?  But the Lord knows how stubborn and hard-headed I can be and gave me a physical reminder as to why it was imperative that these changes be made sooner than later.

I discovered the greatest Mother’s Day gift as I lay in that hospital bed.   The gift of my life and taking care of myself.  If I’m not well or here, then I have nothing to give back to those that mean the most to me.

The look on my kids’ faces when I left for the hospital, the tears that flowed when Ali crawled up next to me on the hospital bed,  the desperate hugs from Megan,  the anguishing cry of Victoria on the other end of the telephone line, the emotional strain on Catherine’s face as she sat with me during the doctors’ visits, the tenderness of Lauren’s voice as she whispered in my ear, “Momzie, come home soon.”, the tired eyes of Michael from a sleepless night, the exhaustion  my kids felt because of the added stress and chores – all this was the result of my negligence to take care of myself.

Part of being a mom is self-sacrifice, putting kids and husband first at the expense of what I need or want– it just comes with the job description, right?

Not any more.  I’ve learned that the fall-out from that kind of thinking is more costly in the long run for everyone.

So together, as a family, we’re making changes – life changes.

I’m making personal life changes – changes that will affect every area of my life.  The changes won’t come quickly – it takes time to be permanent.  They won’t come all at once, that just adds stress…but they will come because my life depends on it…literally.

Change is never made in a vacuum so I will thank all my family and friends, whether near or far, for their patience as I work through the different areas that need to be dealt with.  My family will be stronger, my relationships richer, the farm and all it entails, more efficient, and my physical, emotional, and spiritual health will be greater.

Your support, encouragement, and love will be the sustaining factor in the months ahead.

And when I tell you, “I love you” – it is heart felt with a deeper understanding of the privilege it is to have breath to utter those words.  Life is a precious gift…relationships a treasure to cherish.

I am grateful for my Mother’s Day Gift – it’s not what I would have asked for but it’s exactly what I needed.