Taking Care of the Garden and Gimpy

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My two kids and I had a diverse night. It started with thinning rows in the garden and ended with giving a hen a sitz bath.

We planted a variety of veggies and fruits in our 16 x 60 garden. We have modeled our garden after Paul Gautschi’s “Back to Eden Organic Gardening.” You can check it out via http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/how-to-grow-an-organic-garden.html.

Below is a picture detailing the layers we did to prepare our garden. First, we laid newspaper to kill the grass and prevent weeds. Second, we spread a 2 inch layer of compost onto of the newspaper, followed by 3 inches of wood chips and a sprinkling of manure. My neighbor who owns a huge cow farm across the road was so kind as to bring a scoop of manure over with his John Deere. Bless his heart! Nothing like free manure for the garden.

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It has been a real learning process doing our garden this year and its far from perfect. We chose the absolute worst spot on our land to put it. We didn’t know that until the first bad rainstorm and half the garden was washed out in places. The water likes to run through the middle of the garden. So we dug trenches around the outskirts and through the center of the lower half. Its looks completely redneck, but its working. We planted sweet corn, cucumber, carrots, spinach, lettuce, green onions, sweet onions, bell peppers, summer squash, dark zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, golden zucchini, cantaloupe, and watermelon. I got real fancy and marked the rows with rocks that I labeled with a black sharpie.

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In the meantime, we are doing maintenance. Tonight, Bella helped thin out the row of cucumbers. She continued to ask, “What can I pull next?” Gabriel didn’t bother to ask, he was proactive and started to pull on his own. Cute little bugger.

Afterwards, we had to deal with Josefina, my gimpy hen.

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Two days ago, I went outside to check on the girls. All the hens and ducks came running up to say hello. (They’re hoping for treats.) Poor little Josie was limping up the back forty, trying to reach me. She had to stop several times to catch her breath. I hoped it wasn’t anything major and gave it a little time. But gimpy isn’t getting better. After a google search, I found that a chicken limp can mean three things: a stroke, a lodged egg, or a pulled muscle. Either way, there’s not much that can be done, except a warm bath, massage to loosen a bound egg, and baby aspirin for a tender muscle. We started with phase one. THE BATH. I poured warm water and salt into a 5 gallon bucket and put Josie in. I think she liked it. I massaged her belly and checked her all over.

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Tomorrow if there’s no improvement, I’ll give the aspirin. I hope she’ll be okay. I like my Josefina. She’s a sweet little girl. My kids think so too!

Clipping Chicken Wings

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Wing clipping is necessary when you don’t want the backyard hens and ducks flying all over, especially into the neighbors’ garden.

I have trimmed the flight feathers on my older chickens about a year ago, but the ducks and new hens have not yet been clipped. It didn’t become a problem until my neighbors planted their veggies, and my naughty ducks decided they wanted to taste test. My neighbor’s have even put up a fence, but my determined ducks are flying over it. So today I put a stop to that. They got clipped. Donald and Quackers put up a protest, but I finally won. My arm did get some battle scars in the process. It is better to tag-team with a partner when clipping, but when I set my mind to something, I get the job done.

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Clipping involves using sharp scissors to cut off the first ten flight feathers of one wing. It causes a bird to lack the balance needed for flight but lasts only until new feathers grow during the next molt, which may be a few months in young birds or up to a year for older ones. A potential problem is that clipped feathers may not readily fall out during the molt, requiring your assistance.

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Wing clipping doesn’t hurt the bird, and isn’t noticeable when they are walking around. The primary flying feathers are hidden underneath when the wings are folded. Also, the flying feathers are easy to pick out — often a different color than the rest. Make sure to use a SHARP scissors.

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Two flight wings I need to clip.
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Completed clipping
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The ducks are all clipped and heading to the pond to decompress.

REFERENCE: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-clip-trim-the-wings-of-your-chicken-to-prevent-flight

THE CRITTER BARN

We went again, and we’ll keep going…to the Critter Barn! It is local animal farm near our house. The Critter Barn is a wonderful place for people of all ages to learn about farming, agriculture, and sustainability through hands on experiences. It always inspires my husband and I with ideas for our hobby farm and the fact is, I just love being with the animals! My kids love it too! Here’s photos from our latest trip.

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Holding the two-week-old twin goats

 

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Gabe met goats for the first time, and they enjoyed tasting his stroller.
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Selfie with the angora bunny.
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Bella bottle feeding the baby goats.
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It took Gabe a little while to warm up to the bunnies.

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Petting Colonel Sanders the Rooster
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Kitty Coral

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The Critter Barn
9275 Adams St.
Zeeland MI 49464

Farm Fancy and Ranging Free

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I am such a sucker for poultry.

Just being outside with my family and birds is bliss. And entirely entertaining.

My husband and daughter are digging a small pond for our natural spring to pour into. The ducks, Quackers and Donald, are gonna go nuts when that thing fills up! Four days ago, we integrated the ducks into the pen with the full-grown hens. They sized each other up, made some squawks and quacks, and decided it would work.

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Yesterday evening, my husband found the little hens roosting on his power tools in the garage. He wasn’t feeling that, nor the little presents on the garage floor. So today, we decided it was time those girls joined the meat hens outside in the chicken tractor.

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Before putting them with the meat hens, we let the chicks roam the yard with the big hens and ducks. The big hens didn’t give them an ounce of interest, but the ducks were thrilled! We’ve raised them together since they were babies, and it was a reunion. The ducks were quacking and rubbing their heads all over the chicks. Tonight, when I had to split them up, the ducks protested loud and clear.

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These are the meat hens. We have 23 of them and butcher day is vast approaching. I can’t wait. They are so stupid and stinky, but boy will they be delicious.

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We love country life. Never a dull moment.

 

I Want a Heifer

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We drink milk like its water at our house. Especially my daughter!

As we move toward a more self-sustaining lifestyle, we are going to obtain a diary cow for milk and making our own butter, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, etc.

The breed I want to purchase is called a Dexter. Dexters are a smaller breed of cattle originally from Ireland. They are tri-purpose, great for meat, milk and draft. They are very intelligent and can be easily trained. Their tender personalities and love of attention make them not only great cows but great companions!  

Dexters also give birth to their babies without need for assistance unless the baby is breached. They must give birth to a calf once a year in order to continue to produce milk.

Everything about these cows make me excited! I really want a little heifer.

MEET ANITA AND ARISTA:

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ANITA
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ARISTA

These precious little girls are located at Shamrock Acres Dexter Farm in Hudsonville, MI! That is only 15 minutes from my house!

I am so thrilled. I want to buy a girl and hug her and love her all day. The only things that stand in my way are needing a proper enclosure and fencing for her. So friends, if you have any lumber or fencing hanging around that you don’t want.. let me know!

Cows…they are a beautiful thing.

References:
http://www.kefircheese.com/cattle.html
http://www.realmilk.com/how-to/have-a-dexter-dairy-cow/
https://sites.google.com/site/shamrockacresdextercattle/for-sale

Snow Skiing in the 1920’s…With An Added Bonus of Horses

The roaring twenties was characterized by pleasure-seeking youth and adults who craved the next thrill. Hence, adventurous activities, grew in popularity.

Skiing was one of those. People flocked to the slopes both for fun and sport.

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Recreational Skiing on Hollyburn Mountain. (Reference: http://www.hollyburnheritage.ca/recreational-skiing/recreational-skiing-in-cypress-provincial-park/recreational-skiing-on-hollyburn-mountain-1920-s-1930-s-photos/)
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Competitors line up for the July 1923 cross-country ski race on Mount Rainier. Hans-Otto Giese wears number 15, next to the pole with the Norwegian flag. Photo: Giese archives. (Reference: http://written-in-the-snows.net/far-country4.html)
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http://www.alsap.org/GoldenStairs/GoldenStairs.htm

And if the regular form of skiing wasn’t enough thrill, many folks added a horse and reigns. This sport is called Ski-joring.

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http://www.woodriveresja.com/about/history-of-ski-joring/
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http://archivalclothing.com/tag/out-of-the-past/

When Cats Need Cones

If you thought that only dogs wear cones, think again.

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About three weeks ago, my husband accidentally slammed the tip of Tigger’s tail in the door. It ripped the hair and some skin clean off the end. Poor cat. We tried to help the tail heal with peroxide and triple antibiotic ointment, but the wretched  feline won’t leave it alone. So today, I took him to the veterinarian. The verdict is that this kind of wound is mostly irritating to the animal because it itches and hurts when its reopened. And due to the itch, Tigger wants to chew at it. Hence, the cone.

With the help of six days of prescription pain killers and the head vice, a full recovery is expected. Sadly for Tigger, he will look like a dufus until it heals.

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Only 3 Weeks Until Our Home Is Done: Update on the Building Project

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Front of Home

Our home is nearly done!!! Thank you for joining us and cheering with us as we have traveled the road of building. It is truly an adventure.

All the siding is complete, the pavement is poured, the walls are finished and are ready to be painted. We have chosen all our appliances, light fixtures, and purchased a mailbox. Here are some photos to catch you up:

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Back View of Siding
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Garage with Brick Panels
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The Driveway is Poured!
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At the side entrance, we put our hand prints into the wet cement. My baby boy wasn’t so sure about the experience.
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Kitchen and Hall
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Living Room
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Appliance Shopping
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The Creek Behind the House
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Jonathan Bow Hunting in the Tree Stand on Our Property

Release the Cat…my new motto

Sometimes, claws are a good thing.

Recently, I dressed like Catwoman for a costume party. And I quite enjoyed being a cat for the night. It was empowering. I felt like Anne Hathaway all in black ready for the attack. Yes, I was all fired up.

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But the next day arrived, my costume was put away, and I went back to my daily apparel: t-shirt and yoga pants. Wasn’t quite as empowering. But a thought occurred to me…just because I don’t have on the costume doesn’t mean the cat is gone. She just needs to rise up to the occasion.

Life can get tough, or boring, or frustrating, or many things. It can disappoint and bring self-doubt. The mind can race with anxiety or critical, self-deprecating words.

And it in those moments, the claws need to come out and fight against the doldrums. Fight against the depression. Fight against lies Satan is whispering in your ear. It’s then that you need to: RELEASE THE CAT.

Get a little mad. Release the cat!

HA! I love this new motto. It’s completely silly and kind of stupid, but let me tell you, it does work. It helps put you in a mental place to fight.

Today, I had some internal battles and just thinking to myself: “Catie, it’s time to release the cat,” made me feel better.

Try it out. RELEASE THE CAT.

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Picture References:

http://www.hollywood.com/news/movies/34622682/the-dark-knight-rises-why-anne-hathaway-s-catwoman-is-the-best-one-yet

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1219997

http://stuffpoint.com/home-pets/image/75449/angry-cat-ready-for-fight-wallpaper

http://www.2funnycats.com/super-cats/silly-cats

http://www.hahastop.com/pictures/An_Attack_Cat

Building Our Home Update

Baby, oh baby. Things are moving along quite fine with our building project!

Since my last blog, the house has taken more shape. The roof is complete, The windows and doors are in, the electric and plumbing has been done, the showers are installed, and the drywall is complete. Tomorrow the drywall finishing begins! Ooo-la-la.

Here are some photos to catch you up:

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Bella heading into the woods to help her dad put out the deer snacks: beets, corn, and “Lucky Buck”
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The snacks worked!

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