Our chicks

About five weeks ago we brought three baby chicks home. I affectionately call them ‘the babies’. We already have 6 free ranging chicken in our yard so they will soon have more friends to be with as soon as they are big enough to go outside.

This is the day we brought them home.

The yellow one is a salmon favorelle, the gray one is a blue chochin, and the black one is unknown. We are starting to suspect she’s a copper marran. Time will tell!

Getting some outside time while we clean their cage.

They were running out of space in the guinea pig cage we initially had them in. I’d been stressing about what to put them in when a very large box arrived yesterday with guinea pig supplies. I suddenly realized it would be perfect for the babies! Here is our new set up.

I think it’s spacious enough until they have enough feathers to sleep outside. They spend a bit of time outside every day unless it’s cold and wet. I’m looking forward to seeing them becomes friends with the older hens.

Our day in pictures

(This isn’t our cat but we saw him on our walk, and he is blind. I had to take a picture of him enjoying the sun.)

Of course, there was much much more to our day. Lots of meals and talking and fighting and crying and dishes and playing and laughing. Life is never dull.

It’s May!

Some of our photos from the last few days. We are celebrating May Day tomorrow by going to a nature area park tomorrow for a picnic.

Flowers from our yard:

On our morning walk:

Some of our sweet hens:

Big and little kid wearing:

I don’t know who is to credit for this meme, but this is one of my favorites:

Homeschool weeks 23-26

The last month has felt very much like summer.

We finished our last 6th grade block a few weeks ago. I. made this pinhole camera for his final project. (It’s a kit). It is pretty amazing how it works with no electronics. We haven’t developed any pictures from it yet. And, that, by the way, was a whole discussion. How film is developed. It is totally foreign to most of this generation of children.

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So, 6th grade is over. I probably won’t be posting weekly homeschool updates since we are mostly spending most of our time outside in our garden. (Aside from the hours I seem to spend in the kitchen.)

I’m starting to work on my planning for the fall. 7th grade and 1st grade and keeping a 4 year old preschooler busy. It really love planning. Weird, I know.

We have gone on several hikes in the last few weeks. My husband’s relatives were visiting from out of state and we went on a lovely forest hike on the coast. Then, when we went camping with some homeschool friends, we took a short hike to see one of the waterfalls. We found a perfect spot for splashing in the creek on that hike, the kids had so much fun. (And my camera battery was dead, so no pictures).

We are heading to fiddle camp for my oldest in two weeks. I’ll be camping there with my three kids for four nights. An adventure, for sure. My son is so excited. In the past few years, he was always lukewarm about going, so we never did it. (And I had a little baby at the time, which made the prospect less appealing). I’m excited for him to be immersed in music for a few days.

Our chickens are growing well and happy. They’ll be getting a new house soon, as we need to replace their coop. We are leaning towards building a pallet coop.

Polly our Polish. (This chicken, by the way, is the sweetest and smartest chicken I’ve ever met. She just can’t see very well, poor thing. I’m going to have to trim the feathers around her eyes, I think.)

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Goose and Star getting a drink.

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And our big girls. Rose, Ella, Artemis and Peaches.  (None are broody!! Yay! I am only glad because they seem to really ignore their physical needs when broody. Their combs get floppy, they lose weight, and they are more prone to fleas and lice. )

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And so, summer has begun!

 

Meet Ella

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Ella is one of our first four chickens that we brought home last summer. She was 3 months old at the time, so she just turned 1. She’s an Americauna.

Ella used to be my least favorite chicken, I’ll admit. I love them all, but she’s is such a funny looking chicken and was the most stand-offish of the lot. But I think she was just warming up to us slowly and her personality isn’t as forceful as her sisters’.

This is her favorite place in our house. None of the other chickens have any interest in this corner, but for Ella, if she can sneak in the house and get here, she’s happy.

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You can see that my Jade plant has made room for a chicken-sized gap. Ella also likes to sit and think about a dust bath here, but I’ve managed to catch her in time.

I caught her in the act yesterday, after she found the door had been left open:

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She is the sweetest chicken. My favorite. Well, it’s hard to pick favorites. All of our chickens are sweet. She lets people hold her easily. And she really thinks she belongs in our house. Since Rose has gone broody (a month now? And still counting…) Ella is the one who tries to eat cat food if the door is open and she doesn’t feel like going to her corner.

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I had to get a picture before chasing her away. (I detest them eating cat food, yuck! They are eating chicken! So, I really try not to let them do it, FYI).

She has never gone broody and probably never will. Which means, I don’t have to worry about bugs on her as much. She is a smart chicken and knows what’s going on. She is also the nicest of the hens with the baby chicks. She lays light blue eggs, which are so pretty.

My husband isn’t fond of her tendency to wake with the sun and demand to be let out by 5:30am most mornings. She doesn’t tolerate being cooped up at all. She starts loudly balking after about 5 minutes of being awake and pacing.

But, who can be mad at this face?

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Homeschool weeks 19&20

Yes, I’ve been a little preoccupied. I think about writing a blog post on this or that, but it doesn’t happen. After June 7, I should have my free time back. These days, I spend most of my time phone banking for Bernie. It has been quite a journey, honestly. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone again and again these last few weeks. I even mustered up the courage to go canvassing, door to door! And I’m so glad I did, it was an awesome experience. And I’m so glad I took the 12 year old with me, I think he really benefited from it. We only had one rude, cussing person. Everyone else was kind. Bernie Sanders has ignited in me a passion and hope for our future.  Until a few months ago, I literally ignored the news and purposefully stayed in the dark most of the time. I still filter what I read because some news affects me on a deep level and is too much to handle, but I’ve never cared so much about a politician, let alone a presidential  candidate. Ok, I won’t go on more. This isn’t meant to be a political post.

Two weeks ago, we went and saw Bernie in person! I know, I just said no more politics. But, it was the highlight of our week. It was a hot day and the lines were long. I left H. home as he hates heat and lines. I. and P. came with me. We all loved it. We didn’t start anything new, homeschool-wise, that week, because that event was all day, with the waiting, and we were then only left with 2 school days before I. went to his outdoor school on Friday. So, we did math, knitting and music with I. Well, music happens daily. In fact, most days I have to tell him that’s enough, time to put the violin away.

Last week, we started our geology block. It’s our last big block of 6th grade. A few months ago, when I told him we’d be doing geology in the Spring, there was lots of complaining, saying it sounded boring. But, now that we’ve begun, he absolutely loves it!

He finished his 6th grade math workbook. That felt like an accomplishment! However, based on experience, I know we can’t put math away until September. And, I. agrees. So, I’ll be pulling out occasional practice problems, just review, over the next few months until he starts 7th grade in September. I’ve also decided that I’m going to have him work on foreign language over the summer. That somehow always gets pushed to the wayside after a few weeks. We will probably use Duolingo. In the past, we used it  to learn some German, but he’s lately really expressed and interest in Japanese.

P. and H. are doing lots of playing, of course. P. has started singing and making up songs. H. is getting most excited about starting 1st grade in the Fall. He has his own garden and it is bigger than mine!  He is such a help in the yard, he does all kinds of weeding and planting and likes to water the garden.

We took a family trip to the forest this weekend. It was drizzly weather and wonderful. After our walk through the forest, the kids played on the bank of the river, finding rocks and snails. P. of course managed to get water into her boots and her pants soaking wet. If the weather had been warmer, they would have all stripped down. But, it was still fun, even in the cold wet weather.

I am wishing more and more lately that I had a smart phone. I downgraded to a regular  not-smart phone a few years ago to assist me in being more present in my life. (It really worked.) But, that also means I can’t snap pictures as easily for this blog. I have a regular camera, but my laptop is down until I get a new charger and so I can’t upload the pictures. This is why you don’t see more pictures here.

Speaking of pictures,

Our babies are getting big! They are between 7-9 weeks now. They don’t need a light anymore and they spend their days outside. They still do spend their nights in their brooder inside our house, because I think it’s still a bit cold outside at night. But, I expect in the next few weeks, we’ll transition them to being fully outside. We are pretty sure we have one rooster, the langshan. But, only time will tell.

Homeschool weeks 17 & 18

Two weeks in one post here.

Last week, we wrapped up our three week block studying the Middle Ages. Have I mentioned how much I love history? Probably. I’m grateful that my boy also loves it. He was most fascinated with learning about the weapons and the clothes of those times. He also started getting very interested in lutes. He has been pretty much glued to his fiddle lately. So, this reading on lutes lead him to mandolins. His old fiddle teacher also plays and teaches the mandolin, so it isn’t a new instrument to his awareness. But, his recent love of fiddling has kindled a general love for playing music.

We had been planning and saving up to upsize his violin to a full size this month, although he hasn’t totally maxed out his 3/4. And when we went to the music store for some new strings (one of his broke), he saw they had this lovely used mandolin for sale. I got the make and model of it and went home to research. It turns out it was made in Japan in the late 70s and is solid wood. Perfect condition. I. agreed that instead of upsizing his violin, he’ll stay on his 3/4 one and buy this lovely mandolin instead.  So, that was the big event last week. He loves it. It is strung like a fiddle, so he can already pick out some basic tunes on it.

This week, we’ve had more and more fiddle music. I. has taken to listening to Irish fiddle music on pandora when he washes the dishes after dinner. He’s learned quite a few of the songs, and has pretty much only Irish fiddle music on his iPod now. The times are rare that he isn’t fiddling, listening to fiddle music, or looking up new music to play. All his free time is fiddling. What a change from 6 months ago when he hadn’t touched his fiddle in months.

For lessons this week, we are doing a short physics block on energy. Namely, static and magnetic energy. I. did some reading on Tesla and Edison and he’s been playing around with some fun experiments.

This week, H made hedgehog-shaped bread, to tie into the story I told him this week. I’ve been steadily reading the first grade curriculum and am getting more excited about starting that with him in the fall.

H also built, on his own, this little shelter today.

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Trying it out.

He had plans to sleep under it tonight, but thankfully finally changed his mind after about half an hour of trying to fall asleep.

In animal news, I gave all four hens a full bath this past weekend. That was a new experience. They all survived. I got pretty wet when our moodier then decided she’d had enough and tried to fly away, wet, while I was holding her. I even blew dry two of them who were needing some help drying faster.

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Enjoying a new garden bed that we just put in. They think it was just for them, I think. 

 

The babies (as I call our chicks) are all doing well. They are 6-9 weeks old. We’ve been taking them out to the yard to get some greens and dirt when the weather is warm. They love the dandelions and the clover!

 

The kids have already started playing in the sprinklers. Late April/early May seems just too early for that. I think we are going to have a HOT summer.

Homeschool week 16

I don’t have much to say about this week. Things went smoothly. Lots of outside playing and working. It’s been way too hot for April here, and we’ve already had to get out the fans for our child who hates the heat.

The usual went down this week. Monday, we clean house and this week, I spent 2.5 hours driving I. back and forth to farm school. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we had our usual homeschooling days. Circle time for the younger two, stories and books. Math, and knitting, and music for I. along with making progress in our Medieval block. He especially is fascinated by learning about the clothes they wore.

Fiddling. So much fiddling in our house! About 6 months ago, he told me he was done with his fiddle and that I should sell it. I didn’t. He has found a renewed interest in it a few weeks ago, and plays is all the time now. As in, sometimes that’s how I know he’s finally out of bed: I hear him playing.

Coughing. I’ve had this nasty lingering cough for weeks. I kept thinking it’d just go away. On week 3, I decided I needed to do something. Thank goodness for herbs! I found this awesome tincture called Serious Cough Soother by Wishgarden Herbs (one of my favorite companies). I also took Osha tincture. Within days, my cough was 75% better, and it almost all gone now. I’m just glad to be done with peeing in my pants all day long from my coughing attacks!

Nails. P. has been asking for nail polish for a while. I finally bought some Piggy Paints and, wow, she has just loved it! H. and P. picked out some colors.

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I. took his Guinea pigs outside for the first time this week. It is adorable to watch them nibbling the grass. They love it.

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I have to share one more picture. Rose, our broody hen, watching our cat taking a dust.

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Homeschool weeks 14 &15

Not a lot of blogging time lately.  I do most of my blogging after the kids are in bed, before I go to sleep. I’ve been either sucked into politics lately or my iPad is not charged enough to blog from bed, so sleep wins.

Last week, I. was sick.  He hasn’t been sick-in-bed sick in forever!  Monday and Tuesday and most of Wednesday were spent with him resting.  By Thursday, it felt like our week was over!  We did start dipping our feet in his Medieval block that day.  I have a HUGE stack of books for the block from the library, nonfiction and fiction.

This week, I thought we’d have a ‘normal’ week (whatever that means).  But, I. then spent 2 days flipping out.  At me.  At his siblings.  It was bad.  And sad.  Sometimes when it gets like this, I feel like I’ve hit the bottom and can only come back up.  And, in some ways, that is probably true.  I feel like we’ve turned a new corner with him.  We had some heavy talks on Wednesday.  And the air seems to have cleared.  I bought him a flower essence which fits him exactly, and it seems to be helping, too.  Thursday was good.  He didn’t scream and fight or throw things.  And he did his chores and school work, and still had time for fiddling (which is what he does with most of his free time lately).

Amid all of the above, our hens got their first bug infestation. Chicken lice. Two of our four girls are broody and they had it worst. I was very freaked out and ran to the farm store for treatment. But once I got home and really started reading the bottle, I had second thoughts. The list of warnings and precautions was long and scary. And I was about to go sprinkle it on my chickens? Yikes. I then found a study that said the chemical reside was still found in the eggs 3 weeks after treatment. Um, no. That wasn’t something I wanted to use. Determined to find a better option, I turned to the online world. I found this article and ended up following it. Two days before, I also tried garlic juice diluted with water with come clove oil. I’m sure it works, too, but it seemed to make their skin very red. So, the wood ash it was. Thankfully I hadn’t emptied out our wood stove yet!

Two things I’d never done  in my life until this week:

  1. give a chicken a manual dust bath and rub ointment all over their bum.
  2. phone bank for a political candidate. I talked to New Yorkers for about an hour today!

The picture doesn’t capture the full effect of their appearance, but for fun: broody hens. I kicked them out of the nesting boxes, where they sit upon their imaginary eggs, and they didn’t get up from the grass for about 15 minutes.

Homeschool week 13

Last weekend, one of our chicks died. I had been worried about her since from the day we brought her home, she wasn’t very active and when you held her, she had almost no muscle tone. Very lethargic. She died exactly one week after coming home. I’m not sure why. She had been eating and drinking, and didn’t have any signs of disease. She was my 6 year old’s chick, and we were making breakfast when he came in the room and just said “My chick died.” His brother thought it was a joke. He then went to go dig a hole for the baby in our back yard and we had a little funeral. Our backyard has a cat buried in it, a fish, and multiple birds (thanks to our feline friends). It is now also the resting place of a little week old Welsummer.

H. wanted to go to the store to get another chick, and we decided that was a good idea. We ended up coming home with three more last weekend, so we now have 5. They seem to be much happier as a bigger flock. I was worried about disease, since we had one die, so I totally cleaned their brooder before introducing the new ones. It’s been a week now and they are all doing really well. Growing, getting feathers in, very active, a few are practicing using their wings. We have one of the following:  polish (I forget which color body and crest, white or black), Amber white, Australorp, Langshan, gold laced Wyandotte.

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I snapped this picture of them all sleeping.

I realize most of my pictures on this blog are chicken pictures. It is just the way it is. I don’t tend to take many photos, and I feel so conflicted with posting photos of my kids. Still on the fence about that. And the chickens are so photo-worthy. They are my little pets. Having chickens has really been positive for my own little brood.

In other non-chicken related news. Ahem. We had a full week. Made great progress in math. Business math is good stuff for I. because he can really see the relevance to real life and he enjoys that. We had a fun morning doing geometry drawings together, too.

A speech therapist came over this week. (Yes, they do only home visits! Love that!) I. asked to see one, as he has struggled always with pronouncing his L and I’ve always left it up to him to seek outside help or not. A few months ago, in tears, he said he wanted to see a speech therapist. I knew it was becoming something he felt self-conscious about, even though it wasn’t that severe. Anyhow, it was uneventful. Turns out she has chickens too and they talked chickens and played some games. She then said she doesn’t hear any problem and thinks it’s just fine. Fact is, this past month, it has been sounding better and I know he’s been really practicing on his own. For a moment, I figured that I’d wasted money paying for a visit. But, as soon as she left, I. says to me that that was what he needed, affirmation for a professional that he talks just fine. So, money well spent.

We headed out to the forest today for a hike. Last week while reading a most excellent little book to the two younger ones, H. tells me that he’s never been in a forest wilderness. I know this isn’t technically true. But if this is his perception then, whoa. I need to make some changes! So, I planned for today to be a forest day. We went and hiked in some old growth forest with two waterfalls and it was fantastic. So peaceful. We were the only ones there.  I didn’t have a camera, so no photos. A few miles away from the trailhead, the road goes through clear-cutting. That was heartbreaking and felt very heavy to drive through. Usually, I just see the clear-cutting from a distance. This was on a long winding road through a ton of clear-cutting everywhere we looked. It felt like a crime scene, very heavy and hurt. Sigh.

I have more blog posts brewing on non-school related topics. Though chickens may appear. But for now, I’ll just leave you with this photo of our hens sunning themselves.

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