Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday, Monday

Can't trust that day....
Who sez?
I can always count on Monday to start out hopeful and optimistic, steer toward busy before lunch, slide into chaotic before dinner, and end exhausted at bedtime. What's not to trust?
Alas, since most days around here follow this pattern, perhaps it wouldn't be fair to say that Monday is "trustable."
But since Monday starts the work week, and since we're refreshed from hearing the Word and being together as a family (note to family; I did not say "hanging out,doing nothing) on Sunday, it DOES start the week on a hopeful and optimistic note.
And, although today followed the abovementioned pattern, I will not fall into the crowd of "Monday haters." I won't do it.
So there.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Farm Report

It's been a while, so I should have a lot to say. Hmmm...
The garden, while much anticipated, is a bust. I was able to get in a row of tomatoes and a row of onions. Other that that, it was so wet for so long that my little seedlings started popping out of their Jiffy cells and even dying. I gave up. I put some peppers in pots and did the same with herbs. Other than that, the garden is fallow this year. I really hate that. We did have some decent strawberries, although I realize I didn't plant nearly enough asparagus. I'll work on that next spring.
Along with the wet, cool weather came lots of grass. Since it was so wet, we couldn't cut it more than once or twice. We (I) did cut some today, but it was more like mowing hay. I'll have to get out and rake tomorrow, which is not my favorite thing to do. But there's that much.
We have two little does in the goat barn. They are very petite, which may not help Mary at the fair this year. But they are very healthy and strong, which will help in a year and a half, when they're bred.
We also have baby chicks! Remember that we had one that became a snack. Now, we always order some, so chicks around here are not all that new. But this time, as I've mentioned before, we let Mama Hen sit on her eggs. This Mama Hen

not only sat on her eggs, but those of other moms, too. (Note: The bar across her back is a roost, which is just above her. She is not being held down with a stick to keep her steady for a picture!) In fact, as they hatched, one of the other moms

was right in on the action as well. Actually, she had begun sitting on the eggs at the beginning of the incubation process, and was joined later by the larger, darker bird.
The larger, darker bird is an Araucana, one of the type called "Easter Egg" chickens, because they lay blue or green eggs. The other is a bantam Buff Orpington. (Those who know more about chickens than I will notice that I cheated, because I couldn't find a link to bantam Buffs, and put in a standard-sized one. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.) Buffs are known for being really gentle and sweet birds. This one was OK, until the chicks started hatching. We think she stepped on one and killed it. She was fluttering around quite a bit.
So. The chicks. There are three mixed-breed chicks. Two look more like an Auracana, and one looks more like a Buff. Since Papa is the bantam Buff rooster that shares living quarters with three Auracanas and a Buff, it's good one ended up looking like him, don't you think? I'll let you see how cute they are.

He's Back!

I went and picked up another soldier yesterday. That's the kinda girl I am, always picking up soldiers. (Not sailors, mind you. I'm not THAT kind of girl!)
JP4 was finished with a month of pre-deployment training. As he'll be staying home this time, he was actually DOING some of the training. He's had two chances at real-life experience, after all. Here's a picture of him with the JP4lings at the homecoming ceremony when he returned from Iraq in 2006.

Stay tuned! Later today there will be a cute and fuzzy farm report!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Having Puppies

No, although there are lots of newborns around here, none are canines. This, instead, is a figure of speech.

You know how Bart Simpson would say, "Don't have a cow, man?" Well, no one here -ahem- ever WATCHED The Simpsons, because Mom and Dad didn't allow it, so we had to guess at it's meaning. Once we figured it out, we improvised.

"Having puppies" is the same as throwing a fit, having a hissy, losing it, freaking out, well, you get the idea. Along the same lines comes "having kittens." Having actually HAD four children, I had a hard time even thinking about having a COW...

Once I was with some friends who hadn't heard me speak that way before. When I said to my daughter, who was also there, "Yeah, we could do that, but your dad would have kittens," one friend said, "Have WHAT?" So we had to explain the whole family word thing to her, which was as fun as it gets for Lutheran homeschooling moms. Not really, but there was no chocolate or red wine in the store we were in, so the word game had to suffice.

Now, along the same lines, it will cause you to have puppies if you should say, around our house, "I'm just kidding." That will cause someone to look behind you and say, "I don't see any goats???" You will realize that you are being "had," and it will vex you to the point of, well, you know.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thank You.

It's always time to say, "Thank You." I was sitting here, reading e-mail and cruising through some blogs, and came across this one at Kids Say The Darndest Things.

It's MAP's favorite beer, too.

And why doesn't it happen when I'm in the airport?

Did You SEE That?

Did you see the arms on that woman?

Good Lord, why would she bare such things? (Hey at least there's no jiggle!)(Probably because of all the fat, but let's move on.) And those cheeks? What snacks does she have stored in there?
Yikers, looking at a picture of yourself can sure be painful. Especially if, like me, you've been spoiling yourself through the years with all kinds of goodies. Sure, you can blame it on the kids. "What kind of childhood is it without chocolate chip cookies?" (But did I have to eat half the dough before it was cooked?) Or the farm. "I am TOO bushed to cook after cleaning barns today. Let's order pizza. Deep dish."
Well, little did you know, but that picture was taken on my very first day on Weight Watchers. Yeah, I joined this week, weighing in at....well, I'm not THAT honest. I've been counting points this week and unlearning all kinds of bad habits. From time to time I'll let you know how it's going. But for healthy yourself so you don't have to look at a picture like that someday!

PS I'm not going to complain if weight loss makes me look better. But it's really about avoiding diabetes, heart disease and back and knee issues.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday Fun

Tuesday we had another family adventure, MAP and I.
Where did we go?
What did we do?
Why are you taking my picture?

We headed to O'Hare to send this trooper back to the sandbox. -sniff-
Waiting for the plane.

And waiting; he missed the first one, and the second was delayed for an hour. It gave us time to be together, to eat lunch,

and to get our picture taken by a nice Reservist. (Who was a major, and "ordered" MAP to take a picture with his mom, so he didn't have to be embarrassed!)

And then, it was time. Couldn't hold it off any longer. (See the nice man in plaid waving MAP onto the plane before him?)

Godspeed, precious Trooper. See you in the winter.

I got three hugs and didn't cry until I was out of the terminal.
And then I cried again when I realized I had mistakenly parked in hourly parking, instead of economy.
It cost $31 to ransom the car.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Family Adventure

Where were we going?

What would we do there?

Ooohhh....I get it now.

The beginning....

The process...

The McCann's debuted new plastic baskets this year. You can't trust the handles. See what happens when you do?

The end!

Standing in line...That's a friend of mine, watching over our baskets of berries while I wander around, taking pictures. Thanks, Kathy!

Standing in line, you meet all kinds of people. Maybe even your goat and cow vet, taking a day off with his wife and twin sons.

I said it was a family adventure!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

RIP, Little Chicky Bird

Yes, the little puffball I mentioned the other day, pictures of which you have not yet seen, has gone missing. Given the vast quantity of predators we have around here, including our own terriers, it's safe to say that it has become a meal. Or at least a small snack.
Today we have had the fun of cousins and grandchildren visiting. This means no farmwork has been done. MSP did have her riding lesson today. I even got to ride. Hey, Ranchwife; my elbows weren't flapping in the breeze! But apparently I was trained in hunter seat, and, according to Jacki the instructor, that's "my problem." :) I'll be working on that in the next few weeks. JP4ling#1 had a birthday party to go to today, and Grandpa drove her. It was at one of those party/arcade/bowling alley/pizza/noise places. She told Grandpa that her favorite part was, "Going to the arcade with Grandpa." He was touched.
That's about it for today. We spent most of it lazing on the deck; we all even had naps! I feel so decadent....

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Would Never Have Guessed!

I really don't like getting the zest under my fingernails when I peel one, but...

You Are an Orange

You have a zest for life, especially for anything colorful, wild, or dramatic.

You have a unique take on the world, and you're not afraid to be a little funky.

You are a bit reserved toward people who don't know you well.

You have a thick skin, which can protect you from anything that goes wrong in your life.

Once someone does get to know you, they totally get and appreciate you.

Your friends see you as a bright person with a refreshing take on life.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More babies!

Do you know what happens when you decide to let a hen follow her instincts for a little bit? For 21 days, to be exact? You go out to feed and gather eggs, and little fluffy critters greet you. Pictures to follow....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

While You Were Out...

MSP shows goats as a 4H project. Every spring we impatiently wait for the year's crop of baby goats. While we were traveling, the time was accomplished for the kids to be born, to paraphrase a wonderful source. MSP was disappointed to not be in on the adventure (she missed it by only one day!) but the result is, well, you tell me;


Too cute for words?

We like them, too. Mom is Selena; babies are Serena and Grace. Two little girls. Just what she wanted!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Tribute

I'm including a link to another blog of note. (Note to other bloggers; one of these days, I will actually add you to my blogroll! You know who you are...)

She writes a moving tribute to a fallen hero. In my mind, true heroics consist in continuing, day by day, to remember her remarkable husband and try to transmit memories of him to the son who will never know him.
Thank you, Elisha.

Monday, June 16, 2008


We are home from the road and recovering well from our trip. It is impossible, I have found, to travel without leaving some time at the end to recover, or decompress, or re-enter our normal life; whatever you want to call it. This time it was really necessary, as I came home with some sort of stomach thing and fever. So I spent the weekend lolling about in bed and doing very little. Today was paperwork and paying bills, er, writing checks that probably shouldn't be sent, and laundry. I'll do some real blogging tomorrow, a la Scarlett O'Hara...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On The Road Again...

Tomorrow I will place myself inside a silver tube and let myself be hurtled through the air toward Wyoming. I will hug my kids and my friends, and then, in the morning, begin to drive home again. I may blog...I may not...I'll surprise you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I have just finished reading this book, and am motivated to write a review of it.
Greg Mortenson was a missionary kid, whose Lutheran parents raised him in Tanzania. As a young man, he took to climbing mountains. When an attempt to climb K2 failed, he found himself wandering northern Pakistan, lost and convinced he didn't have the strength to get back to safety. He was found and taken to a small village. During his time there, he noticed schoolchildren doing their work without a teacher, outside, in the elements. The village did not have the $1 a day it took to pay a full-time teacher, and the Pakistani government did not supply one to this little village in the far northern area of the country. Impressed by the hospitality he was offered, he promised to return and build a school for the village. Working hard, saving, and, eventually, finding a sponsor, he was finally able to do so. But the story doesn't end there.
Mortenson's life work has been building schools in, first, northern Pakistan, and, then, northern Afghanistan. To date, 64 schools have been built. Using both Western dollars and local donations of labor and supplies, these schools are fully or partially supported by the communities they serve. There are currently 25,000 students in these schools, 14,300 of them girls. Mortenson's Central Asian Institute "supports community-based education programs, especially for girls."
Taking its support for education for girls a little further, CAI supports 14 women's vocational centers and other projects, including maternal health care education, potable water projects, cataract surgeries, and, well, you can learn more here.
The book draws on Mortenson's remembrances, the experiences of the co-author, and interviews with supporters--and detractors--of Mortenson. It opened a part of my brain to another culture. It also gave me some insight into our current Middle East involvements; insight I maybe didn't want, but which clarifies some questions I've had along the way.
To learn more about the book, about Greg Mortenson, and about the Central Asia Institute, visit the Three Cups of Tea website. If you like what you read, and want to read more, buy the book from the website. A small portion of your purchase will benefit the CAI.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Whiny Woman

I left dry, cool Wyoming and came home to high 80's and humidities at 69-100%. I am wilting. I am such a wuss about humidity. And I've lived here all my life! And I complain about people who live in Florida and are afraid of hurricanes! I tell them, "Move, if you don't like them."
But I have this husband who won't leave Illinois....
Today the pigs arrived. Four little cuties who won't be so cute when they leave in the fall. Until then, we feed, feed, feed them and dream of bacon.
The JP4lings are here today. Daddy is off at "Army training, SIR,"

and it's our turn to play for a while. JP4ling#3 went off to MacDonald's with Uncle MAP; they're off to the laundromat afterward. I wouldn't let him do his sandy, desert wash in my brand-new (got it Tuesday!) front-loading washing machine. He was good with that, though. JP4ling#2 is leaning on my keyboard tray as I write, although I keep asking her not to. JP4ling#1 is resting on the sofa. Remember she broke her leg in the fall? This week she had the rods removed from her thigh, and she's a little slow this weekend. Later today we'll do some more fun things with them. For now, we're getting ready for the day, prepping the pigpen and worrying about planting the garden in soggy soil. Someday...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

We're Not Childless Anymore!

Cost of raising a son to age 18; $249,180
(Where did that number come from?)

Cost of training a soldier; $400,000
And THAT one?

Cost of a flight from Baghdad to Chicago; can't get one without a "special carrier."

Boots on the ground in your own house; PRICELESS!

We have a soldier boy home for R&R for a while! This is a great day!

(If anyone would like to send a message to MAP, a special e-mail has been set up at soldierboy8545 at yahoo dot com.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


A while back, I mentioned that we did some tree-clearing one weekend. Wanna see some pictures? If not, go ahead and read some other blogs. But here, we're doing tree-clearing.
Also a while back, I posted a picture of our treeline. It was a pretty shot, because it was winter, and the treeline was covered with snow. Well, in summer, not so much pretty. Weeds and brush gather in, and it becomes almost impassable. Which is a problem, because the kids here like to play in the treehouse that sits about midway on the treeline. For a few years, we let the goats and cow pasture in that part of the treeline, but that treehouse was just missed too much. This year, we pulled the fencing. But that meant that we had to clear brush...

This picture shows the treeline, in its early-spring clean state. That won't look like that in July, and we need to remove some dead things so it can be mown then. Branches will be cut up to about the height of an adult male. This is 1) so the person riding the mower should slip easily under the branches that are left and 2) because John won't climb a tree with a chain saw. So he cuts up until he can't reach. Got that?
You can see the treehouse about midway in the picture, and midway up the trees. Just to the left of the treehouse, see that dead tree? That one had to be completely cut down, so it didn't decide someday to just fall on the fence. Let's get started.
Farmer John (or is he Lumberjack John?) checks out the tree to decide direction of fall, etc.

Deciding that he wants it to fall AWAY from the fence in the background, he begins to cut a notch. Once that notch is pulled, it will cause the tree to lean away from the fence. Then FarmerLumberjackJohn will cut on the opposite side of the tree. loosening it to fall. Let's see how it works.

The notch is now big enough to pull out the chunk of wood and begin cutting on the other side.

Now, FLJ (I decided to abbreviate; typing that whole name could get old fast) pushes to encourage the dead tree to fall...

...which it finally does...

falling, well, can you see? See the fence running roughly parallel to the tree? Well, it's not roughly enough. One of the trunks of the tree intersected with the fence as it fell, proving that you can plan all you'd like, but, sometimes, the darn thing is just gonna fall on the fence.

But, never fear, FLJ is here! Here he shows how to pull the fence back up, making it capable once more of containing sheep, goats and one very nosy, personable cow.

And that, ladies and gents, is how we rid our treeline of a dead tree. Now if I could just get someone to move the logs...

Monday, June 2, 2008

On The Road

(Before I start, I apologize for not blogging later with Ranchwife, as I promised. Seems that when cows are calving, horses are recovering and children need to be fed, cooperative blogging falls by the wayside.)

As I've mentioned, we (MSP, EP and I) hit the road last week. As if her life isn't complicated enough, Ranchwife has offered to provide short-term "cultural exchanges" on her ranch for children of her homeschooling friends. Kind of "Ranchwife's Ranch Camp." The kids work hard for her and the Rancher; maintaining irrigation, riding after cattle, and babysitting the Cowgirls. EP spent three weeks there two summers ago, and wanted to go again. MSP wanted to give it a try. Although that would leave John and I childless for a little while, we decided to make that sacrifice and let them have their cultural exchange.
So, I hit the road to deliver them. Now, in an odd coincidence, Ranchwife and I live on the same state road, which traverses the country from East to West Coast, in two different states. And, as if that isn't enough of a coincidence, a third friend, Chocolot, also lives on this road. And, to make the coincidence almost scary, each of us lives 5-6 miles off of this very same road in our respective states. As Chocolot is about 8 hours from me, and about 9 hours from Ranchwife, it made for a perfect stopping point the first night of our trip. So, below, EP, MSP, and Chocolot's kids.

And, below, Chocolot and me.

(I'd like to say I'm the slender one on the right. But that would be lying. I'd like to say that my "puffiness" comes from staying up late the night before, eating organic chocolate and drinking organic beer. But that, too, would be partly lying.)
After a steak dinner (Chocolot and her husband raise grass-fed beef, as do the Rancher and Ranchwife. We ate healthy this week!) and a hearty strata breakfast, we hit the road again.
The trip traversed the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming. Which means the view out the front window looked a lot like this much of the time.

Iowa and Nebraska are like that. Sorry, Iowans and Nebraskans, but you know it's true. At least Nebraska has the Sand Hills.

But, in the end, we arrived safely. I spent three days sharing company with Ranchwife and reveling in the gorgeousness (is that a word?) which is her "backyard."

After seeing that, would you think I was nuts to be sad that I was leaving Ranchwife's cooking and cleaning to go home to my husband?
Well, not TOO sad.