Not Quite Barefoot

I’ve been reading Balanced and Barefoot, which is basically a guilt trip in book form. Okay, not really, but it’s eye-opening to see how far the average child has slipped in terms of physical strength over the past several decades, and it’s not had to imagine why that is. Reading the book is a real motivator to make sure we get our outside time each day, even when I’m not feeling like it. Especially when I’m not feeling like it, because nobody in our family needs the benefits of moving around outside as much as I do!

We usually do a circuit around our house, dwelling longer in certain areas on different days. M has been asking to start out at the “fairy rocks” most of the time, which is also the spot where we can weave through the young birches to get in the woods. We’ve been bringing Jellybean (one of the young roosters) with us, as he’s so friendly and will tag along wherever we go. We have to see if the ants are out at the giant ant hill. Then it’s a run down to the pond and the big flat rock. A couple dozen leaps off the rock, looking for fish in the pond (we haven’t seen any lately — there are just some tiny minnow-y things), then up and over to the swing set. I check on things while M dawdles or runs in circles. Lots of blossoms on the apple tree; the baby catalpa is finally showing signs of life; some fuzzy critter has snuck in through the garden fence and eaten our little broccoli and cabbage plants (grr!).

Once F is bigger and can join us, we’ll have much more to explore. We’re going to need to invest in bug spray!

Growing, Changing

The weather has been here, there, and everywhere, but I feel like, overall, it’s been a pretty good spring. I just wish that F were older and could come explore the woods with M and I. I take M out while F is napping, but we can’t go very far before I lose the signal on the monitor. And the woods are too dense (with too many branches and twigs to duck under) to put F in the carrier. But she’ll probably be scrambling along with us next spring! She started walking at 10.5mos, so I reckon by the time she’s almost two years old, she’ll be climbing to the tops of trees!

Friends on Instagram have probably noticed that I’ve been exploring Waldorf methods/philosophies/projects. When M expressed an interest in fairies, I latched onto it — I don’t subscribe fully to any method except following the child’s interests and needs. Montessori seemed a great fit for her during her toddler years, and now as her imagination grows, a lot of the Waldorf “stuff” is really appealing. It’ll be interesting to see if F goes through the same phases or is more swayed by whatever big sister is into. Her birthday is next week (somehow!), and her little gifts are a good mix — the play silk and the little fairy (a decoration I made for her room) are more in the Waldorf category, while Schleich animals are a favorite of Montessori folks. We love our other Schleich farm animals, and F has started playing with them in the barn I made when M was little.

It’s interesting to see how M is drawn toward the magical as she gets a bit older. I don’t do Santa or the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc., and if you ask her if fairies are real, she’ll say no. But she also loves looking for fairy homes when we’re outside. It’s like she’s knowingly taking part in a suspension of disbelief because it’s fun. Which makes it fun for me. I just love watching her interests reveal themselves. And we’ve barely even begun with F’s!

Nature Girl

What a place to be a kid, huh? We have really been enjoying this sweet spot in the Minnesota year — there are ticks (but they haven’t been bad at all, so far), but none of the flying, biting bugs are out yet. It’s been so pest-free, in fact, that I keep fooling myself into believing that the flies and mosquitoes just might not come around this year. (I know that won’t be the case!)

Our lawn is full of dandelions right now — so pretty! I always felt pressure to dig them up when I lived in the city, but of course that would be completely futile and pointless out here. And they’re good for the bees. So we just enjoy our sea of little yellow flowers.

The other two photos are in our “new” area (not at all new, but we just started visiting it), full of rocks and small birches. The perfect place to climb around and think about fairies, if you’re three and a half! I’d like to get our big weed whacker out there to remove the tall and dead grasses, so it’s easier for short people to get to. I especially like that it feels like we’re in the woods, but it’s close enough to the house that the baby monitor still works when F is having a nap!

I’ve fallen behind on my egg counts, but we had three on Saturday, two on Sunday, and yesterday there were two, but one had a paper-thin shell and was broken. I’ve topped up their bowl of oyster shells — I hope that was a one-time thing!

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…

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!

Pre-Spring Thaw

How lovely to get a mid-February reprieve, in the form of a few warm days. M is sick, but not so sick that she didn’t want to play outside in the nice weather! We went for a walk down our big path — as far as we could before the snow stopped me from pushing the stroller. What a sky today!

The springy weather (which is a lie — spring is still a long time away for us Minnesotans) got me thinking about our next crop of chicks, so I ordered them today. They won’t arrive for about another month. We’re getting Easter Eggers this time. They lay blue/green eggs, and even more exciting to me is that they come in quite a variety of colors themselves. I hope we get a few different colors to spice up the flock!

I’m thinking of using that middle evergreen in the photo above for our Christmas tree this year. What do you think? I feel like they’re planted too closely together for all three to stay healthy as they grow. Any tree-sages have an opinion on that? My first choice would be to just leave them alone, but if culling the middle one would be better for the other two, then Christmas tree it is! We’ve got the same issue elsewhere (we weren’t the ones who planted these trees), so we could be set for a few Christmases.

I paid our shack a visit, too. I really want it to be salvageable, but I don’t think it is. It was moved to its current location and is sitting on two 12×12 beams — and is majorly sagging in the middle. The previous owners used it as a little barn, and it’s been home to pigeons since then. Trust me, it looks far less ramshackle/deadly in the photo than it is in real life. There’s a lot of lumber in there that probably IS salvageable, but the labor would be intense (or expensive). If only they’d put it on a proper foundation… then it could have been stripped down and rebuilt. I’ll just have to keep thinking about this one!

More Outdoors

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Here’s another big bunch of photos, since I’ve been going Instagram crazy the past couple of days. I managed to get the brooder pen fixed up for the two-week-old chicks yesterday morning. I just had to put chicken wire on top (so the big chickens won’t jump in an harass them) and then bring the food, water, and chicks out, but it took a while with sleeping F strapped to me! Once the guineas and these little chicks get big enough, they’ll go over to live at the neighbors. And my plan is to get a coop built inside the barn (right now, the chickens have the run of the barn and are in there at night, and it gets… messy). But for now, there’s the chicken nursery, with poultry of all ages and sizes, each needing their own food and water. Whew.

After playing outside this morning, we went into town and came across a few good finds at the thrift store. An Aquadoodle mat (with pens and stampers, even though the box said there were none) for just a quarter, some puzzles, and that set of Melmac cups and plates. They’re for M’s playhouse, should it ever get finished. I had been imagining cups JUST like these and figured I’d never find something so cute in person, but there they were, waiting for us at the thrift store. So you never know!

Photos

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Here’s a bunch of photos for you, going back to the Fourth of July. I’m happy that it doesn’t LOOK like we spend all our time inside! I have so much I’d like to work on outside, but I haven’t figured out how to do that with a little baby who doesn’t nap regularly… and doesn’t nap very often when not attached to me. There’s only so much you can do with a baby in a wrap, especially when it’s 80˚+ out. The garden needs serious attention and the chicken quarters need rearranging. We’ve got two-month-old chicks living in the barn with the big chickens, two-week-old chicks inside (who need to go out but stay under a lamp), and then the week-old guinea keets with Aster, in the mini-coop.

But ever since the older chicks went into the barn, the “old” hen house has been empty, so M and I have been working to get it cleaned up and turned into a play house. I’ve removed all the chicken stuff (bedding, roost, feeder, etc.) and scrubbed down the walls, but there’s still a lot more to do. M can’t decide if she wants the walls to be pink or blue (but not dark blue, because that’s too DARK, we’ve all decided). She’s pretty excited about her little house, and I am, too, so now we just have to get the baby on board and cooperative, so we can work on it!