From Bad to Worse: The Mucked Up Trench

Like all good horrors, the story must go from bad to worse.

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I believe I lost half of my body mass index just from sweating during this project.

We were tickled with delight to discover, as we dug with a shovel beside our house, that the perforated drain tile was collapsed (hence the reason our yard stays marshy around the deck. It’s simply stunning that our basement hasn’t flooded). Our excitement grew as our natural spring continued to pour out of the ground dousing the clay soil. A splendid gray paste formed that stuck to our boots and shovels like wet cement. Since the lower walls of our trench decided to crumble inward, we had to take the trencher through it again. However the wet clay in the bottom of the trench spewed upward and formed a mound. Staring at the mucked up mess, we knew there was only one solution. We cut a new big butt trench into our lawn.

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My husband’s father, overlooking the trenches, probably wishing we hadn’t called him.

Once the second trench was done, we leveled it and went to work on digging further around the collapsed portion of drain tile. We found a bit of tile at the base of the house that was still round enough, so we patched in a connector, and threaded the new tile through the trench.

Thanks to our reinforcements (my parents and my husbands’ parents), we were able to complete this project in 22 hours of backing breaking labor. If not for the help…goodness…I shudder to imagine.

 

 

In the Trenches: Another Day on the Farm

Today we tackled the big project of replacing the perforated drain tiles. Finding the old tiles and digging the trenches is no little feat, let me tell you. It’s takes a strong man, (a.k.a my husband), and a tough assistant, (a.k.a me). It also takes a big butt trencher that we rented. And with all these factors added together for success…eight hours later, the project still isn’t done.

Our land has a natural spring that runs under our house, so when we built two years ago, the builders directed the water toward the back of our property. We then dug a small pond for the water to flow into for our flock of chickens. However, the pond would be fuller if the builders hadn’t used perforated tiles. Hence, today’s project.

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We have blisters. We have sore backs. And our feet ache. But what can I say, it’s just another day on Cordero Family Farm. And it will continue again tomorrow.

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Haircuts for Hens

Much to my surprise, Helga didn’t peck my finger off as I gave her a spring “haircut.” And by haircut, I mean that her flight feathers needed to be clipped.

Every spring, the girls all need their feathers clipped because they’ll start flying over the pasture’s fence. And when my crazy chicken named LaFonda Flash gets over the fence, its nearly impossible to catch her.

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Meet Helga, my feisty hen, who today was actually in a lovely mood. Must be the sunshine. You will notice several feathers lying on the grass. Evidence of the “haircuts.”

Waiting in Line

The truth is that no one likes waiting in line. Even chickens.

This morning, I heard loud squawking coming from the henhouse and decided to investigate.  Inside, I found the dilemma. There were six hens needing to lay eggs and only three nest boxes. Poor girls. Waiting and labor combined, not  a good combination.

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Tap the Sap: Making Maple Syrup

When February comes to a close, we get ready to tap our trees. For us, it’s a fun experience that our whole family can be a part of, and trust me, not many things are as sweetly delicious as freshly boiled syrup. We finished our last batch as few days ago.  If ever you wondered how syrup is made, I’m about to tell you.

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#1 Drill the tree and put in the spiles attached to buckets or milk gallons. Collect the sap each night and refrigerate if the night doesn’t get below 38 degrees. Sap will sour just like milk.

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#2 Once sap is collected, it can be boiled down. We’ve created an outdoor evaporator. It’s very efficient, however, it still takes awhile to evaporate the water from the sap in order to only leave the syrup. It’s a tedious process and requires constant supervision and skimming off the foam.

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My son, eager to help in the process.
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Skimming off foam residue

IMG_2432#3 When the sap begins to darken and thicken, bring it inside to finish in order to control the boil on a stove top. It is ready when the syrup is 7 degrees above boiling.

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#4 Pour syrup into jars and seal. Maple syrup is great as a breakfast topping, ice cream topping, in coffee, and to replace sugar in baking.

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A Picture of our Syrup Jars and My Homemade Maple Peanut Butter Cookies

 

 

 

Spoiled Rotten Hens

My chickens are not just hens…they are my girls. Each have a name and each are spoiled rotten.  Believe it or not, my hens like being held and petted. My children adore catching them, though I’m not sure the girls like being chased. At least, its good exercise for all of them.

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When I saw the little ladies shivering this winter, I went to work to make better accommodations. Heat lamp, electric waterer and extra grains.

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I snapped these photos at night while they were roosting. They looked at me like, “Excuse me, we’re trying to sleep.”

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The only thing I didn’t do was sew sweaters. But boy, it would have been cute. I like the patterns below.

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Sweater References: reginadrangel.blogspot.com, hencam.co.uk

 

 

 

Loving Dairy Cows

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Today, we visited my friend Diane at her dairy cow farm called Indian Trail Farms. Touring her barns is like therapy for the soul. No moos about it…I’m in love. I could let those sweet cows lick my hands and nuzzle my face all day. They’re adorable.

I was so impressed with the magnitude of the operation at Diane’s farm. They have cows being born every day! Number #20 pictured below was born the morning of our visit.

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My son Gabriel thought he entered cow heaven.

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For more information on Indian Trail Farms, and the beauty of running a cow farm visit my friend Diane’s blog at http://www.afarmwife.com. She is an amazing blogger and gifted farm wife. Diane’s blog is both entertaining and poignant. Also, she has a farm store with great products via her web page. Some of those products include: her own t-shirt line with fun farm sayings and a children’s book she wrote called “Where’s Charlie?”

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I love this shirt, and it’s incredibly comfortable material.
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This book is one of my daughter’s favorites. In the story, Diane’s grandchildren go on a quest to find the dog Charlie, and they travel all around the farm in search of him.

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Our Crazy Summer

Dear Readers, I apologize for the few and far between posts this summer. It’s been crazy and a little chaotic. Therefore, I haven’t been real busy writing, but I have been busy making memories with my husband, my children, family, friends and of course…our dog, cats, and chickens too.

Here are a few photos of our crazy cool summer:

  1. We became honorary Dutch dancers at Dutch Village with my British friend (aka-my brother from another mother), Kyle, during his visit in June.

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2. We used our imaginations and pretended to be secret agents, tigers in the circus, fairies with special powers, models in a runway show, etc.

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3. Celebrated my son turning two-years-old on June 16th!

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4. We picked blueberries with family who visited with us in July.

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5. We school shopped for my daughter who is going into Kindergarten!

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6. Doctored my daughter when she got stung by wasps four times around her elbow.

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6. Velvet has been laying double-yokers. What a champ!

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7. Took a family camping trip, and we all stayed in tents!

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Adopting 8 Little Ladies on Father’s Day

We were so blessed on Father’s Day. Two weeks ago, I lost three of my beloved hens due to a predator attack. Since then, we’ve made adjustments to secure the rest of our flock. However, it’s made me feel quite sad seeing the coop so empty, and especially sad for my little Gretchen, who lost her best friend. She wanders alone now in the pasture and doesn’t have a buddy to roost with at night. Chickens tend to make friends and stick with them. But…on Father’s Day that changed.

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A friend from church is going through a transition and needed to find a new home for her 8 chickens. It was a mutual blessing for all of us. She knew her chickens were going to a good home, and our henhouse would once again be full of love and eggs. So on Father’s Day, we collected our new little ladies, which wasn’t easy since those rascals were fast and kept running under the deck!

Once they were settled into their new coop and pasture, they seemed happy to explore. My daughter was giddy to show them around and give them all lots of hugs.

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At night, I checked to see that the girls had all made their way into the coop and then my heart swelled. Gretchen wasn’t perching alone. She had a new friend, a little Ameraucana hen was tucked close beside her. I am sure they slept warm and happy. In this little thing, I see God’s love. He cares even about my hens. And if He cares about a small chicken, believe me when I say…He cares even more for you.

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Saying Goodbye to Three Sweet Hens

This morning, I went out to collect eggs inside the hen house. My two little children tagged along beside me as they usually do. What we found upon entering reduced me to tears.

Last night a predator, we’re thinking it was a raccoon, got inside the henhouse and wreaked havoc on my precious chickens. Three of my hens were dead and missing large parts of themselves. One of the girls is limping badly. I love my chickens. They are my little girls. They lay eggs like champions and always greet me at the gate. I have even given each one a name based on her personality. Today, I said goodbye to Josephina, Ginger, and Aretha. They were sweet, and I hate that they died this way.

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Ginger, she always strut around like the model on Gilligan’s Island.
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Josephina, aka Josie
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Aretha. She would always pause, kneel slightly and let me pick her up. She liked to be held and petted.

Needless to say, does anyone know a good type of trap that will catch medium sized predators?