Baby Rooster

Little Beatrice. M is still adamant that we call him that, despite his almost-certain roosterness. Check out this little video clip of Eddie “crowing”. I could hardly believe it! Out of all our male chicks last summer (and they were ALL male), none of them crowed so early. They were all practically full-grown, and their crows sounded, you know, like actual rooster crows. This group of chicks has been feisty from the start, and Eddie is showing a lot of rooster behaviors already. When I fed them yesterday, he rushed over and started tidbitting (telling the others he had found good stuff to eat) in his little baby voice. He’ll even get between me and the other chicks when I visit. At least I know he’ll defend the flock when he grows up!

(Two eggs today. Rita’s not laying because she’s broody, so the other three must be taking turns having a day off.)

April Yuck

Two eggs today. And freezing rain. And snow! Which isn’t super unusual for Minnesota in April, but I don’t like the trickery involved — so many nice days, making me think we’re in the clear. There wasn’t any snow accumulation, but it still won’t be planting weather for a while yet. (In case you can’t tell, that’s frozen rain stuck to the bottom half of the windows.)

I’m reading Little House in the Big Woods (the first in the Little House on the Prairie series) to M right now. I’ve skipped some the parts about butchering meat… and how golden curls are prettier than “mud brown” hair… but we’ve been enjoying it, otherwise. I realized M really has been taking in the story when we looked at the icy snow out on the deck, and she declared it a “sugar snow”. Of course, she then started licking the window to see if it tasted like sugar. So she might have missed a couple important points there…

Tuesday

Two eggs today, including one that had white speckles! It’s common for the brown eggs to have darker brown specks; I’ve heard it explained as the brown being color laid down over the white egg shell, and the darker speck are like “overspray” (though I can’t quite figure out how that works, as I assume there’s not actually an airbrush inside every hen). So white specks? That’s a new one for me!

The chicks are adjusting well to their little coop out in the barn (a halfway house until they’re big enough to go in with the rest of the chickens). They don’t usually hang out in the nesting boxes, but I opened the hatch up there to talk with Jellybean, and soon they’d all come up to see what was happening. I’m a little concerned that Sally (the buff chick above) has a bit of color to her comb, as does Tofu. (Veggie Bite and Poppy do not.) It would be really bad luck for four out of six supposed pullet chicks to turn out to be roos, but then it’s pretty bad luck for two out of the six, and I’m fairly confident that Beatrice and Jellybean are both boys. If I ever order chicks again, I might have to get a sex-linked breed (one with an obvious difference between male and female) to avoid this stage of not-knowing-ness.

We had one last nice day before an expected string of cold, rainy days, so M and I got out and enjoyed it. I’m usually fairly patient in spring (this is Minnesota, after all), but I want the weather to shape up, so I can get to planting!

Hello from Squeaky Mouse (our hamster). She’s our only rodent, now that the two mice we were overwintering (Winky Mouse and Other Mouse) have gone to live in the great outdoors, far away.

Not much to report today. Only one egg. Bertram (née Beatrice) and Eddie were sparring with one another this morning, but Jellybean was staying out of it. I’m 90% sure Jellybean is also a boy, but hope springs eternal.

BMX

I’d like to start keeping a brief log of what’s gone on on our “homestead”, but today I didn’t do anything except make sure the chicks and chickens had food and water — and brought in two eggs.

I meant to use the day for tidying, but M really wanted to go to “the bike race”. So I told her that if we got the upstairs tidy before we left, she could go. That was some speedy cleaning! This was our second time doing strider BMX. I don’t think you’d say M is a natural (she still hasn’t figured out the balance part of “balance bike”), but she really enjoys it. She’s fallen down so many times but, even when she’s upset, she gets right back on the bike. There’s just something about it that she likes.

Earth Day

We’re nearing the end of April, already. I had hoped to get some vegetables planted a bit earlier this year, but — in between a few really mild, beautiful days — it keeps being cool and rainy. I don’t want to get my seeds/onions/potatoes in the ground only to have them rot.

Rita is broody again. The young Easter Eggers are out in the barn, in the mini-coop, still with a heat lamp. I suspect there are three boys in my group of seven chicks, even though I ordered only one. The baby-roo who came marked as such is starting to get aggressive (mostly with the other chicks, but definitely wanting to challenge me, too), so if he continues down that path, I kind of hope I DO have an extra boy to take his place.

M and I spent F’s entire morning nap playing outside. I just tagged along while M explored. It was a perfect day for it!

Fairy House

I’ve never gone in for “high fantasy” stuff (at least, not since I was a young teenager). But, for some reason, when M asked for a story at bedtime recently, I told her one about a little fairy who lives in the woods. She was completely enchanted and has asked for more and more fairy adventures. (And, for some reason, even though we can read the same books over and over and over, every fairy story has to be a NEW one!) It tripped a switch inside of me, and I’ve gone full-on Waldorf!

Okay, not entirely, but I was like, ‘I MUST make a fairy play set immediately!” I did some searching around Pinterest to get ideas, and I found several different examples of little worlds made inside small suitcases. I had the perfect wicker case (about 9″ x 14″), and I used wool roving to make a felt sky and ground. A few felt flowers and blades of grass, and our little habitat was ready for a fairy! I decided to buy one of these fairies from Magic Cabin instead of making one. (We got the pink one — everything has to be pink right now — and the hair is all wrong on ours, but M still likes it.)

Everything else was handmade or unearthed from my stash of crafty stuff. The little polymer clay flowers are beads that I bought in London — eleven or twelve years ago? The insects and the frog are made out of beeswax, and they all (except for the bee, which I made a couple of months ago) are from the stories I’ve told M. In fact, as soon as we got the fairy yesterday, M asked, “Where’s Katie?” Katie being the caterpillar who had starred in the previous evening’s story. As soon as I’d made a little (pink) wax caterpillar, she said, “But how does it turn into a butterfly?” So off I went to make a pair of felt wings, with an elastic loop for easy metamorphosis.

M has been really delighted with her new play set. You never know with these things. It was definitely MY whim that drove me to make this so quickly, but she’s enjoying it as much as I could have hoped she would. It’s very rewarding to watch her reenacting the stories I’ve told her, and I love that she gets involved, asking where such-and-such is or whether we could have a story with this critter or that. So there’s a little more Waldorf in our world now!

Garden 2017, Part One

This is what I’m starting with this year. Not very inspiring, is it? And this is what it looked like AFTER a few hours of work! I had to drag out all the timbers (the borders of the old garden beds) and landscape fabric and tomato cages and other odds and ends. Pulled up the pavers. Raked out the dead weeds, long grass, and old plants. Then mowed it down as much as I could.

Yesterday, my parents brought over their tiller, and I created the new garden rows. Now I need to amend the soil and cover the rows with landscape fabric. It’s always so fiddly planting things through the fabric, but trying to keep the garden weed-free without it is much more annoying. The weeds out here are monsters! I’m trying to settle on a garden design that can stay the same year after year (ie, one that I’m happy with, one that’s easy to maintain), and I think simple rows might be the answer.

We (M and I) have lots of plans for the garden. I might be feeling slightly overambitious this year, but we’ll see what happens! M has ideas about what to grow (raspberries — easy, since they’re already in place!, potatoes, carrots), and she wants to “sit in chairs in the garden” and HELP. “I’ll say, ‘Can I help you?’ and you’ll say, ‘Sure!'”

With the garden looking so desolate at the moment, I’m trying to remember how quickly it turns lush once everything is in place. I mean, in just three months, it’ll be mid-July, and everything will be green and wild!

Outside Apron

How cute is this little apron I made for M? There’s a pattern I want to use to make something similar for myself, but I have to get to a good fabric store to find the right linen (or blend). I had a big enough scrap to make M’s, though! I didn’t use a pattern for hers — it’s just one big (gathered) rectangle sewn onto a narrow strip, with two more strips for straps. They cross in the back and snap onto the body of the apron. I would have sewn them in place, but adding snaps meant I could make the size adjustable. For something so basic, it sure looks adorable when she’s wearing it!

When I told her what I was making, she was like, “Uh, no, I want it PINK,” so we compromised and put on pink pockets. They’re the perfect size for bringing eggs back from the chicken coop. I sewed a little loop onto the side of each pocket, so she can slip the handle of a garden trowel through (or a flower — or whatever a little kid finds on the ground). So far, it’s stood up to the rigors of egg collecting, though I had a hard time convincing her she didn’t have to hold onto the eggs WHILE they were in her pockets!

No such thing…

No such thing as too many baby chick photos, right? We’re really loving having baby peeps again. M and I could spend all day playing with them, but we only take them out of their house when F is napping. Too many ways for it to all go wrong if a baby human is in the mix! They’re pretty active little chicks and are still nothing but robust. I can’t get enough of their chubby cheek floofs. Beatrice (the dark one I’m holding in my hand and also in the last photo) is the biggest chick, with the biggest cheeks. I haven’t yet gotten a photo that does her justice — she’s like a cartoon bird!