Monday, February 25, 2013

::disney grown up trip::

Josh and I snuck out a little while back for a "End of Breast Feeding Forever Trip".  We stole some Disney Vacation Club points from my mom and got a little studio room at Bay Lake Towers for three nights.  It was a total blast.  We got the kids off to school on Wednesday, left Q with Grammy, and then headed for the airport.  We have a tradition of renting movies from iTunes to watch on the place ride.  This time I chose Pitch Perfect for the flight there.  I can not believe that I haven't seen this movie before.  It was totally hilarious.  Great light hearted comedy.

Once we got checked in we headed over to Downtown Disney and had an early dinner at Fultons.  This is a sea food restaurant that we love.  It always seems to take a really long time, and is very high end; so we have not been since our Lily was about 2.  The next morning we got up and headed to the Magic Kingdom.  We have never been to that park without our kids.  Its amazing how much you can get done when you have no stroller to hold you back.  The new part of Fantasy Land is amazing.  So well done.  We went on the Little Mermaid Ride.  The kids will love it.  The new Snow White roller coaster looks amazing, but it wasn't done.  We kept our budget down by eating at counter service places.  We tried two new attractions that we have not done before (my mother says I did these as a kid but I don't remember).  We did "Tow Sawyer's Island and The Swiss Family Tree House".  Both are old school and make me smile at how much they feel like something Walt would have designed.

releasing ladybugs

The next day we headed off to Epcot.  Epcot with out kids is big fat fun.  We had fun riding rides - but the make over of Test Track seems weird.  I actually likes the old one better.  They took the whole crash test part of it out.  It seems a little lame now, but I don't love change in my Disney environment.  We ate lunch at the counter service Mexico pavilion and it was amazing.  We finally got the chance to do the Behind the Seeds tour at the Land.  I has ridden to boat ride about 500 times waiting with a little kid for the big kids to ride Soarin', but I have never had the chance to do the back stage tour.  It was wonderful - and full of hidden Mickey's.  We had a wicked good snack at the counter service place in France.  HOW HAS THIS GOTTEN PAST US!!!???  Amazing.  This will be a new staple for us every time we go from now on.  We ate dinner back at the Land.

The next day was an early rise and back on the plane.  We watched a movie called "Seven Psychopaths".  Interesting.  I might not be artsy enough to really get it.

Overall it was a great trip.  I was nice to sneak off with just Josh.  It made me want to take the kids back.  Which is good since we are taking the monsters back in October.

Friday, February 15, 2013

::Lily 4H - year one::

I have been waiting nine years to finally get the chance to say...


Quinn was not in to it. 

She looks like she is barely controlling herself from grabbing that baby and taking off. 
Love love love love 4H.

I did 10 years of 4H, but I only did horse and pony.  I didn't even know that doing any other projects was an option.  When Emma started 4H I was super excited to learn all the ins and outs.  I did the animal related projects with her and her mom did the other projects.  (Sewing, foods, etc.)  I'm nervous now to be in charge.  I'm lucky to have Jenni (Emma's mom) to help me, but I'm still nervous.  Josh and Jenni both told me to not let Lily sign up for too many projects.  Usually I really do listen to Josh, and I take Jenni's advice seriously.  But I just didn't this time.  

In early February our county has a 4H project fair.  They set up tables and the kids go around and talk to other kids or parents about all the different projects.  I have been prepping Lily into doing the Bee Keeping project for the last year, she didn't even want to go to the table and talk about it.  I let her pass on by.  (Why can't there be adult 4h?)  All I did was read some of the titles for her and let her decide is she was interested.  It was so sweet to watch her ask her kid related questions, "Do girls do this project?" -for electrical.  "Do I have to sell my lamb for meat?" -yes.   "Can we eat my project ducks eggs?"  She thought she might have to save all the eggs for the year to show the judge.  

When we went to the office to pick up all the workbooks that go with the projects the lady said to me, "You are going to be one very busy mother this year!  And with two little boys!  I hope you don't work too."  Gulp.  That made me pretty nervous.  But I feel confident.  We got this.  We can do it.  We just have to get started now. 

Here is what she signed up for:
 All Other Crafts - Ceramics = She goes to a local studio and paints a premade ceramic item of her choice.  I am going to take her to the studio a few times, but I will basically stay out of this one.  She will enjoy it.  We did a mini version of this last year.  The studio is locally owned and is a really neat place.  I plan for her to have this one done before school even gets out.
Cake Making - they get a foam form, ice it, and decorate it.  I did this one with Shealyn (Josh's exwife's boyfriends daughter and a good friend).  She did so well she went to state.  The problem with this one is that is has to be done pretty close to fair.  But we will practice a few times and have a good idea in line before we make the real one.  
Collections - the hoarder in Lily likes this one.  She picks any item and does a display on it.  Like a rock collection labeled and displayed.  We can have this one done pretty quick too.  Once she picks what she wants to collect.  
Electric - they make a little flip switch circuit.  It looks really cute.  And my daughter is the one that wants to paint the base rainbow.  We can have this one done early too. 
Our Environment - this is a project were you take something that would have been thrown out and make it into a usable item.  I am going to suggest a bottle bap wind chime, but we will see what she decides on.  This is one we can have done early for sure. 
Photography - They make a poster of 10 or so prints.  She wants to do black and white and a color one too.  She can have this one done early for sure. 
Sewing - the make a little pair of shorts.  She is going to do this one with her Grammy.  We can get this one done early too.  Which I think will be my most stressful one since I can't even turn a sewing machine on.  Right before fair they have a fashion show where the kids model the clothes they made.  
Woodworking - my Dad is a master wood worker.  Really talented.  I hope I can talk him into helping her with this.  A few sessions with him and we should be done nice and early.  

Animal Projects:
Llama/Alpaca Poster and Craft - The don't show these guys yet.  Maybe next year.  But this year they do a poster about Alpaca care and a wool related craft.  Lily has been totally pumped about this.  I have wanted an alpaca for years.  We even talked Emma into doing this one with us.  If they get enough interest this year the they will consider adding the animals to the shows next year.

 Poultry - This is our first year for this.  Lily wants to show a duck.  I have an order in for six Cayuga ducks.  They are GREEN!!!  They can not fly.  And they are an the National Livestock Breed Conservatory in the Threatened Category.  I love being a part of breeds that are uncommon.   Emma wants to show Silkie chickens.  I had an entire list of different breeds of chickens that I wanted to order.  But now both girls are talking about Silkie chickens.  So I think we will just buy some Silkie chickens and have some fun.  If you don't love a FLUFFY chicken than you are no fun.  I know nothing about showing poultry so we will just do the best we can.  

Rabbits - Emma had some great success with showing rabbits when she first started 4H.  We went to lots of shows and over the coarse of a few years we ended up with way too many rabbits.  Like 45.  It was insane.  Emma didn't want to show any more.  So we sold them off and gave up rabbits.  Now Emma wants to show.  I got in touch with one of my old rabbit friends.  I told Lily she could get one or maybe two.  Then after fair we would talk about how it all went and see if we wanted to do it again.  I don't ever want to get serious about it again.  Just a few rabbits for fair.  She wants to show Holland Lops.  Perfect. 

Sheep - Oh sheep.  I have been trying to talk Emma into this for years.  No buying.  But Lily was in from the start.  She almost backed out when I told her the market lamb gets sold at auction and sent for meat.  We came up with a compromise.  She raises a market lamb of a traditional breed that she sells at fair.  She also gets a Endangered Breed ewe of her choice to raise and love and maybe eventually breed if Lily likes raising the sheep.  After looking into the breeds she decided on a breed nicknamed Babydoll Sheep.  They are actually a very old breed of Southdowns sheep.  They are small and cute and friendly and round and hardy and are known to be very good at delivery their babies!  Sounds just about perfect after our horrible year with goats.  The Babydoll sheep can be pricey $350-500 each ewe, but I think I found an honest breeder who will cut us a 4H deal.  This breed is also known to have a very wide jaw which pulls their mouth into a permanent smile shape!!!! 

GOATS! - Crazy little Pygmy goats.  I love these little fatties.  Because of our 1/7 survival rate this year we are done with breeding our own.  Lets just invest in some quality stock instead of vet bills for the stuck babies.  But we will keep our little goat herd to 8 TOPS!  Six would be a better number.  But I hope even Quinn is going to be talked into showing these great little guys when its his turn.  You're never too studly for a Pygmy goat.   

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

::baby goats::

Marshmallow Fluff

It has not been the best year in animal husbandry for me.  I was super excited about my three does that were bred.  I had visions of baby goats scampering around, butting heads, and snuggling.  The first doe to go into labor was Betty.  She is a shy first time mama doe.  She delivered her first baby with a little assistance.  A perfect little caramel doe.  The spitting image of her mother.  Then the second baby got stuck.  After trying and trying I took her to my goat vet.  After some serious magic she managed to remove the second.  It had died before it was born and was a little black doe.  I was bummed out but I figured I had my bad animal luck out of the way.  I had accidentally planned a vacation with Josh during the other two does due dates.  In retrospect I should have just induced them early and risked the babies being a little preterm.  Instead I took them to my friend that has a horse farm where she delivers other peoples mares.  I call her a horse midwife.  She does a really good job and I thought she would be able to help out my girls if they got into trouble.  After how bad things went with Betty I had lost my confidence anyway.  I knew that my friend would have a better chance than me if anything went wrong.

And wrong it went.

Emme - my old pro of a doe went into labor while I was at work and my friend was goat sitting.  Her first baby got stuck head out.  She got taken to my vet, who pulled that baby (a black doe).  The baby had died by that time.  I got there in time for the placenta to be delivered while they were waiting for the more experienced vet to arrive to pull the second that was very stuck.  The second baby was stuck as well but was born alive.  It lived for about an hour.  Emme was doing ok so we loaded up to go home.  The vet wasn't sure if the baby would make it.  It was very weak, but Emme kept cleaning it a calling to it.  Then on the way home she stopped calling.  I pulled over and found that the baby had stopped breathing and had no heart rate.  One week latter Emme is still walking around screaming for her baby.

One doe was left.  My favorite.  The one that I coded at birth.  Nelly.  She went into labor  and her baby got stuck.  My vet was not seeing emergencies that night and my friend took her into her vet.  This vet decided to cut the first dead baby into pieces while it was still inside my Nelly to try and pull it out.  They did get the baby out but they ruptured Nelly's uterus while they were at it.  From the bill they did give her some pain meds, but no sedation.  NO SEDATION!  I have not actually talked to the vet but judging by the bill the were able to pull out the second baby - which was dead or died shortly after.  Shortly after that Nelly died.  I called to tell them I was on vacation and I would deal with them when I got home.  When I got home I called to see how much the bill was -$740.  No joke.  My other two goats bill totaled $240 for both.  $740 for one was insane.  I had them read me the itemized bill.  And then I informed them that I did not consent to any of that, nor was I given an estimate.  I never would have approved such expensive procedures, knowing that the chance for success was almost nothing.  At the worst I would have had them euthanize her humanly instead of torturing her to death.  They said they will not let me pick up her body till we pay her bill in full.  I told them if I was picking up her live body I would care a whole lot more.  They are welcome to her poor little dead body.  Back and forth - back and forth.  I don't care if we fight this for a year.  I am willing to pay them for the meds and the needed treatments.  Which is less than half of what they are trying to bill be for, but no matter what - small claims court - whatever - I am never going to pay that vet bill.  No way.

Now what?  Six baby goats - one is alive and thriving, all others died.  Three mamas - two are alive.  What went wrong?  I have no idea!  Was my buck too big?  Did I over feed my does?  Was it just bad luck?  No idea.  And since I have no idea I obviously shouldn't be doing this.  I have had babies here before but I think this is a crystal clear sign telling me that delivery baby goats is not for me.  Too stressful, too risky.  I have been going back and forth about what to do.  I think we have a plan.  I am going to sell my buck.  After fair we will sell Emme and Betty (the two remaining brood does).  We will keep some of the other goats we already have.  This will allow for each girl to show three goats at fair next year.  After that my girls will have to decide if they want to sell one of their goats and get another fall baby, or keep the ones they have.  This keeps our numbers between 6-8 total goats.  Only does and wethers, mostly show stock and maybe a retired old friend or two.  I had this dream of breeding high quality stock for my kids to show.  I have swallowed that pride.  If I wanted a nice horse I wouldn't go out and breed him over four generations.  I would go buy the best baby that I could afford, that had been carefully breed for over the past forty years by more knowledgeable people than me.  I want to just do that with the goats.  Utilize some one elses good genetics and know how.

Yes she is in the house - don't judge

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

::Quinny age one::

A delish year of Quishy

Sunday, February 3, 2013

::Max turns five::

Mr Max of the Curly Hair.  
Mackie, as I call him, is all boy.  All boy.  Climbing crashing breaking jumping throwing marching.  This kid is not screwing around.  He is on a mission at all times.  He plays with his toys like Andy from Toy Story - there is a long and very imaginative plot to the way all his toys interact with each other.  Max will be getting held back next year to do another preschool year.  Parents choice.  Mostly because I really like him and want him home with me another year.  And because we would rather he be one of the older boys in his class than one of the youngest.  This big man starts his first year of T-Ball this year and we can not wait.  I am going to try to be Team Mom and I am trying to talk Josh into being the team coach.  We are both addicted to our Max.   

Friday, February 1, 2013

::hoop house holla::

This year was a very temperate winter here in central Indiana.
Mother Earth News

Which means that I could have had fresh tomatoes in December if only I had one of these bad boys.

That's all the argument it took to get Josh on board.  The man would sell at least one of the kids for a constant supply of fresh tomatoes.  

Really - I have had my eye on hoop houses for awhile.  They are an unheated plastic covered green house.  Some have raised beds and some do not.  Sizes are dictated by the craziness of the builder.  They start the growing season earlier and they extend the season longer.  I hear that you can grow cold hardy veggies like spinach year round in them.  This will be a learning experience, but I am excited to master it.    

Link here
Now we have to figure out where to put it.  We may have 16 acres but it is still hard for us to pick a good location for things.  Our front area has lots of shade.  We have a lovely spot near the road, but it does flood periodically.  Ten acres is in hay.  The horse pasture/shooting range is no place for anything you don't want the horses to destroy.  The goats are getting a new pasture around the pond (really a wet land).  So - where to put the hoop house?  

Answer is - the orchard garden, but that has negatives too. 

Such as -
No easy access to water.  Something Josh says we can fix. 
Partial shade at certain times of the day.
Not as close to the house as I would ideally like.

But if you turn those around - we can fix the water access, its mostly sunny, and is pretty close to the house. 

The ground frame will be made from pressure treated lumber in a rectangle 14ft by 25ft.  Inside will be three raised beds.  A central one and one on each side.  PVC pipes will span from one side to another.  The ribs have to be wrapped in tape because they can have a chemical reaction with the plastic that will cause the plastic to erode.  The gardening sites recommend wrapping the PVC in tape or painting it with latex paint.    

That will need some fine tuning, but its a start.  

Here are my anticipated costs:
Lumber $140
Weed mat $20
Plastic cover )100
PVC $45
Attachment and misc hardware $20
Straw $20
Compost - free for the taking 

Total estimate is $350

I predict it will take one full day of kid free working to get it done.  


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