Chick Update

The chicks are settling in well — they seem quite happy and content. Not too huddled up and cold, not too hot. They check everything out for a while, and then they hunker down like little chicken nuggets and sleep for a while. My favorite is when they stretch one leg out behind them while they sleep — I’ve seen big chickens do that, but I didn’t realize the little peepers would do it too. So cute!

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Happy Chicken Day! I put in my chick order (with the feed store in town) so long ago that it feels like I’ve been waiting forever for today! And now the chicks are here. Five Buff Orpingtons — I’d ordered only four, but they must have a five-chick minimum when they pack them. Or the chick sorter had gone mad from all the peeping and forgot how to count. For whatever reason, I’ve got five of them now, hopefully all pullets (female).

They’re settling in pretty well! They’ve got their food and water, and I gave them some plain yogurt, as recommended by the Chicken Internets. Hatchery chicks don’t get the same gut bacteria that they’d normally get from the mother hen, so a little bit of yogurt can help with their digestion. I’ve been wiping a lot of messy bottoms already — that sort of thing can become a deadly problem for chicks if it goes unnoticed. Somebody on-line was describing it as a distasteful job, and I had to wonder if they’d ever had a human baby. Cleaning chicken butts is nothing!

I had one little cuddle with the chicks this afternoon, while M was napping (or, more specifically, chatting to herself in bed and NOT napping). I piled them all into my towel-lined sweatshirt, and they hunkered right down and fell asleep. Chicks love to be warm and snug! Whenever I ask M if she wants to check on the chicks, she always says, ‘Yeah!’ They’re still too fragile for her to really interact with, but she enjoys peering over the top of the box and would definitely give them each a pat if I let her. I’m really looking forward to socializing the chicks, since Buff Orpingtons are supposed to be the ‘Golden Retrievers of the Chicken World’. But for the rest of the evening, I’m just letting them relax after their big day!

p.s. — When we were bringing the chicks home, they were peeping quite loudly (since they were cold), and I asked M if she could hear them. ‘Peep, peep!’ she said. We’d practiced peeping a little bit this morning, but that was the first time she ever spontaneously made an animal sound!

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New Shoes, etc.

New shoes for M! I had been putting off buying her summer shoes because she’s been between sizes 5 and 6, so I wanted to try them on her in person (vs. buying them on-line). We were down in the cities yesterday, and we happened to walk by a little baby/toddler clothing store, which happened to have the perfect shoes. They’re these ones. M loves them. She brought them over to me multiple times today and wanted to practice putting them on and taking them off. I guess I was giving her too many helpful suggestions, because at one point she took both shoes and went to sit across the room to work on it herself. (She wasn’t able to get them all the way on, but she gave it a really good try!)

There’s been a subtle shift recently — M seems to understand even more, have more opinions, notice more. I’ve been explaining things in better detail, since she seems so interested (whether or not she understands it all). When we were in the garden today, she saw me trying to smell a plum blossom, and then she went all around the garden, bending over to sniff things.

Her speech is an interesting thing. She started doing some very complex babbling a few weeks ago, but she still doesn’t try to say many words. Before bed tonight, we could hear a bird singing outside her room, so I told her to say ‘tweet tweet’, and as soon as she’d try, she’d start giggling in a self-conscious way. I have no clue what that’s about! But it’s what she does whenever she tries to say a new word (which isn’t often). New signs, on the other hand, she picks up really quickly. She won’t use them all spontaneously, but she finds it easy to mimic a sign back to me and can usually remember them later if I ask her how to sign a particular word. I’ve definitely seen progress in her speech over the last month, but I’m ready for that fabled ‘will just start speaking in sentences one day’ day!

The last time we went to OT for M’s hand, the lady was impressed with M’s fine motor skills. She’s very nimble! (Although she’s still working on using her left hand properly, hence the OT.) There were a couple of toys M immediately picked up on, even though she’d never seen them before, so I got her the peg board (above) and some lacing shapes. As you can see, M was quite pleased with the way the pegs stacked up! I’m still not very good about enforcing post-activity cleaning up (for her or myself), but we’re definitely going to be putting these pegs back in the box every time — we’ll lose them all in a day, otherwise!

p.s. — Clearly I’m not nimble enough for (good) toddler French braids. Although it would help a lot if M’s hair were a bit longer!

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Outside Stuff

The sun came out this afternoon! We went out after dinner and enjoyed the mild weather. Not to hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy. We’re going to have storms this weekend, so it was great to take advantage of the nice weather while we could.

I finally got my garden fenced in! This project took forever. I just didn’t have many opportunities to work on it for a good chunk of time. But my mom watched M for a while today, and I finished it. I even got the gate (which I built and painted last weekend) hung, so the garden is officially (hopefully) deer-proof, and it’s definitely proven to be quite vexing to certain small dogs. The deer fencing isn’t the most beautiful stuff in the world. It’s 7.5′ high, but the lumberyard only had 8′ timbers, and since they go 2′ into the ground, the fence is taller than the fence posts. I can’t decide whether it would be worth cutting off the extra — it would look a little nicer, but it’d be a tedious job, and it might be a better deterrent at its current height. My real concern is that the black bear is going to come back and push straight through it and ruin all my hard work.

The garden itself needs to be tilled again — there were still so many grass roots after the tilling earlier this spring, and the grass has come back to life since then. It’s all getting closer to being a real garden again, though, and our frost-free date is getting closer, too. I’m eager to actually start GROWING!

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Upward and Upward

M is really testing herself (and the furniture) to see how far she can climb. This morning started out with the discovery that she could climb from her little cat chair up onto the hamper, and it was only a short while after that that she realized she could climb from the hamper up onto the sofa. Like any good toddler, once she figured it out, she did it over and over again until she had mastered it. And then I moved the hamper, because who has all day to play spotter? I love watching her realize what she’s capable of, though. She turned on the bathroom taps for the first time yesterday (she was sitting on the counter while I got her toothbrush ready), and she gave herself a very proud smile in the mirror. A lot of her (unintelligible) stories end with applause, so I can only imagine that she’s giving accounts of her triumphs.

p.s. — M added one of her fake flowers to the hyacinths I got yesterday, and I didn’t notice the addition until a while after the fact. It definitely adds to the arrangement!

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The Best Part (2)

This photo was from Friday, but the best part of the day today was playing with Nova and M, who were also playing with each other. I won’t lie — Nova has been kind of a pill for the last two and a half years. It’s my fault; she’s a smart dog, and if I had the time and know-how, she’d do great with agility and burn off a lot of energy. Over all, though, she’s a good girl, and she’s chilling out as she matures. She hasn’t destroyed anything (that I can remember, at least!), and she and Henny are two of our vet’s favorite little dogs (some Chihuahua dogs can be really nasty).

And, best of all, she plays with M in a way that none of the other animals would tolerate / be interested in. The two of them were taking turns today to jump on my lap and be tickled — and then tickle and lick each other — and Nova was so into it. Henny could never have been that sort of buddy-dog for M, and Bear, although she likes to play, has a few too many teeth and claws and not enough self control.

But Nova is a good playmate. Sometimes a little too rambunctious, but so is M, at times (I keep my eye on both of them!). She’s realized that M can throw sticks and balls for her, even if they only go a couple of feet, and M is always thrilled to see Nova chase something she’s tossed. I didn’t adopt Nova thinking that she’d someday be a good kid’s dog, but it’s really sweet to see it turning out that way!

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The Most Exciting

Okay, so today isn’t over yet, but I think it’s clear that the most exciting part of the day was when Nova found a woodchuck (groundhog). I had taken the dogs outside during M’s nap, and after about thirty seconds, I heard Nova barking from the other side of the house. When I went around, she was just a couple of feet away from this woodchuck, who was very determinedly holding its ground. I was shouting at Nova to ‘come here’ and ‘leave it’ (while taking photos, obviously — I had my phone with me, but I didn’t want to get any closer, so the photos are grainy), and even though it was a struggle for her to tear herself away from this foe, she obeyed me and went inside. I was really surprised that she listened to the voice of reason. The woodchuck looked heftier than Nova, and with those wicked teeth, it would have really hurt Nova in a fight.

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The Best Part

The best part of my day was seeing how much fun M had with the slide I built her. She’s been climbing things lately, and I wanted to give her something that was sturdy and stable enough. I helped her go down the slide once, and then she was up and down on her own, dozens and dozens of times in a row. She took a break for a snack and then was right back at it.

What was the best part of your day?

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Whew, it’s good to be home. M had surgery (urological, this time) last Friday, so we were in the hospital all weekend. I had read many accounts of this surgery having a difficult recovery, but M is handling it like a champ — as usual. She came down with a head cold the day before surgery, and I’m pretty sure the stuffy nose has bothered her more than most of the medical stuff.

I haven’t had a chance to work on the garden since a couple of weekends ago, but we returned home on Monday to find that the rhubarb had made good progress, along with the Nanking cherry bush. I really need to get that fence up, so M can play outside with me while I do other stuff in the garden. I want to build her a little water table to play with out there, and ideally I’d get some sort of shade situation going on, so she can play in the garden without having to be in the sun.

M’s Schleich animals have been a favorite lately. I got her some baby animals to match the adult (farm) animals she already had, so she can work on pairing them up. They’re so great. When we go out to eat, now, I put a few of them in my bag, and they’re the perfect restaurant toy (if you’re M). They don’t make noise, they’re not too big, and there’s lots of ways to play with them (again, if you’re M). She likes to make the animals eat and drink her food, or she’ll try to stack them up or balance them on other objects, etc. I love finding the animal line-ups that she leaves around the house, too.

The day M’s baby animals arrived, so did my new Kitchenaid stand mixer! OooooOOOoooh. My mom had earned some prepaid Visa cards as a reward at work, and she very generously let me use them to put toward the mixer. I’ve mentioned before that my electric hand mixer broke a while back (maybe in December?), so all the baking I’ve done has had to either be mixable in my food processor or by hand. The Kitchenaid is a big step up from anything I’ve had before — it’s so fun! I made a lemon meringue pie today (I still have a lot of eggs!), and I basically blinked and the meringue was ready.

Other random stuff: I made chicken-fried tofu for dinner last night. I don’t even season the tofu, just press as much water out as possible. I use a mix for the breading, although I cut it with plain flour and cornmeal yesterday, because it was too salty last time. Then I pan-fry it. Even M likes it! Also, I had to include a picture of sweet Bear cat. Can you believe somebody just threw her away in the woods? Their loss. (Recently, I was telling somebody about my cats, and I started with Bear and Birdy, and she asked, ‘What’s the third one called? Fish?’ I had to explain that the theme is B-names, not animals. OBVIOUSLY.)

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Productive Saturday

What a productive start to the weekend! My mom came over to watch Maris for a good chunk of today, and I actually did things. I started the day by finishing up a little barn for M’s Schleich animals. I had done most of the work after she went to bed last night, so all I really had to do today was attach it to the base, sand it, and then give it a coat of beeswax polish. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, as long as I don’t look too closely. I was making up the design as I went along, so there are a few things I’d do differently now that I’ve done it. M is happy, though, especially with the open design that lets her see the animals from different angles and pass them through from all the sides.

During M’s afternoon nap, both my parents helped me get the new garden posts set. We had to finish digging some of the post holes, and then we used Quikrete to hold them in place. I still have to work out what I want to do for the gate. It has to be at least as high as the new posts (6′), or there’s no point in any of it being so tall. Once the garden is fenced in, then I can work out there while M is awake — I’ll be able to give her some outdoor toys to play with and not have to worry about her wandering off.

I ALSO made an angel food cake and chocolate pudding today. When we went to the neighbors’ house this week, they gave us three dozen eggs, so I have to use them all! The cake took a dozen egg whites, but the pudding only needed two yolks, so there are still a bunch of yolks in the fridge. Anybody have a favorite ice cream recipe? I used the trusty 1978 Betty Crocker cookbook for the cake and the pudding, and I’d use both recipes again. I was amused that there were two angel food recipes — one was ‘Supreme’ and the other ‘Deluxe’. I’m not sure which one is supposed to be better! I made the ‘Deluxe’, which uses powdered sugar AND granulated (‘Supreme’ just has more granulated sugar in place of the powdered). It does taste pretty deluxe, but I feel like it’s not quite supreme enough. I suppose you just can’t have everything.

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