Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What to do first

I feel so overwhelmed this time of year.  Winter is approaching and there is still SO much to be done.  Like I don't have enough on the list, I decided to build my own shed for raising rabbits and growing out young chickens.  I have a brooder house, which my husband and I built from a design I came up with.  It looks nice, but still needs trim on the outside, the porch needs finishing and the inside is not quite there yet.  I swore to myself and hubby that it would be done this summer.  Well, it isn't and here we are.
I have been brooding chicks in my "old" garage, then moving them to the pasture in portable pens all Spring and Summer, however, this time of year I can't do that.  I have been using the big pens I use for breeding for some of the late hatches, but now it is time to move everyone back in to their appropriate spaces and some are already full.  So, it is time to start selling more birds and only keeping what I need to get me set for the coming year.  The first step though, is catching them.  And that is a joy!  NOT!  Some are easy, like my Buckeyes.  I LOVE my Buckeyes.  They are the friendliest chickens ever.  I have Cochins too, peeps, and these have the Cochins beat hands down.  Do you know what I don't like about the Cochins?  When they come up to you and you have to walk, you end up stepping on their feet or on the feathers on their feet and they start squawking or they just stay in your way because they can't move!  I must say though, I do have one big Blue Cochin rooster who is just a sweetheart.  In fact, Daughter just loves him and holds him whenever she goes out to the chicken yard.  I don't have a hard time sending off most of my chickens, but he is one who has a permanent home here.  He is too tough to try eating, and I doubt anyone would want him for anything else considering  most chicken owners are overrun with roosters and cockerels by season's end.  I am especially so.
Back to the topic at hand... So, I now need to have some permanent grow-out pens.  Thus, the reason for the new shed I am constructing.
Middle wants money to buy guitar stuff and snowboarding gear and so forth.  Well, I have the perfect job for my 14-year old son, digging a trench.  You see, I have discovered that I need to have a wire barrier around my coops and buildings to keep rodents and other animals from digging their way under said buildings and coops.  I have to lay this wire 1 foot down and 2 feet out from the bottom of the building to achieve this goal.  Unfortunately, I do not own a "digger" that will mechanically do this for me, so I have to get a shovel and pick ax and start digging.  Well, that is where darling Middle comes in.  He did a good job of getting started, but I must admit, I am not sure where he is going to go from here.  The ground is so hard along the long side of where this is going, I don't know what we are going to use to dig in.  I did try the garden tiller, and it worked some, but much of it is just too darned hard!

Alright, so like this building isn't enough digging, we have probably 200-pounds or more of potatoes that still needs to be dug!  We are GREAT at growing things, but we really suck at using them up and storing them.  We have been talking for years that we need to put in a root cellar to store all these great veggies we grow, but we haven't gotten there yet.  It IS on our list of things to do.  Thanks to a killing frost this Spring, we don't have to worry about where to put all the apples.  Out of 7 trees that were FULL of blossoms (until they all froze) we got TWO apples this year.  We didn't even have plums on our American Plum trees that are basically weed trees and produce bushels of fruit normally.
One thing Hubby has gotten really good at growing is garlic.  Of course, he grows entirely too much for us to use, even though I put garlic in everything.  He planted, I think 1,100 cloves this weekend.  I think there is more to be planted too, but he had to go out of town for work all week.  Yes, for those of you who didn't know this, garlic is best planted in the fall.  It is then harvested in July, and one clove becomes one head of garlic.

Okay, I am out of time to ramble, but I shall return.  As the days are getting shorter, I can only do so much outdoor work and I need to fill my 'dark hours' with something ;)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

It Just Goes to Show

So, I was right, first of all.  This year has been just crazy B-U-S-Y!!!
Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere chicks, chicks, chicks!!!!  But it is a good thing, Martha.

I am hatching, or just finishing Hatch (Lucky Number) 13!  I haven't counted, but I am sure I am going to hit the 1 Grand mark soon.  My girls have been good to me.

So, I have to share one very funny story about a customer/group of customers.  I started getting e-mails from a young boy, though at the time this started I was not aware it was a boy, about getting a few chicks.  Impatient is his name.  LOL.  I wish MY OWN kids would get as excited about chickens as this boy and his friends are.  Apparently, they are starting a new business of raising chickens and selling eggs.  How exciting for them, right?  The oldest I believe is 16, and his brother is about 12, I would say, and their friends.  They e-mailed me several times and really, really wanted to come and check out my birds and what I had to sell.  Finally, the day came.  They asked for my address to find me, but then got lost, drove past and got lost again, calling me each time.  At first, I was annoyed.  Then they got here and it started making me laugh.  They had $X.00 and wanted to know how many chicks they could get.  It reminded me of the days when I would go to the general store with my mother and see how many pieces of candy I could get for a dime!  For starters, I would never have pegged these boys for the chicken loving type.  Finally, they went home with about 7 or 8 chicks of various colors and appearances.  They no more than got home and were sending me messages, they wanted to come back and get more.
For the next couple of days they kept sending me stuff, asking if I had one of these or one of those.  Then I had a chat with one on Facebook, and he just cracked me up.  I think I have become a fan of these young entrepreneurs.  They are funny and have gotten so excited about something that isn't something lame.  I don't consider it lame, as some more hip than I would, because they are kids and they are undertaking something that will lead them to learn a great deal about responsibility.  Whether they stick with it, or if they fail or succeed, they will learn something, I just know it.  They just couldn't wait for me, they went to someone else and got a bunch of Banties and they are on a roll.  I think I am going to enjoy watching them get going.  I hope they achieve whatever they are aiming for.  In the meantime, they are having a fun time with their little fluffballs.

This year has also shown us (Hubby and I) that parenting a teen sure is a job in itself.  Parents should be able to take a sebbatical from their regular jobs to take on the one they have with teens.  It is insane some days and we wonder if we are talking to a wall, because the very next day sometimes, we are having the same exact discussion about something that has happened the day before.  It is insanity at its best.  It truly is.  But we do understand that something happens to the teen brain that it goes into sort of a 'coast' mode.  No energy in, no energy out, just coasting.  And we consider ourselves lucky, because we know that he is a good kid.  OMG!  If I had a really messed up kid to begin with?  Just shoot me if that ever happens.  Like I said, we are lucky.  One thing we know, we MUST keep talking with them, no matter what.
Once in a while though, we really connect and have some good laughs.  Today was one of those days. I almost, literally, peed my pants.  I must concede here though that at this point in my life, that isn't terribly hard to do some days.  Too much coffee........Well, I know how to keggle and cross my legs.  it is not like the pregnancy days though where you sneeze and wet yourself to a point of embarrassment.

I remember when I was a kid, my one brother and two younger sisters were all sitting in the kitchen yucking it up.  We got my sister laughing SO hard, she did wet herself.  So, being the kind, thoughtful siblings we were, we kept making her laugh harder.  You know what happens then?  Yeah, Niagara Falls, all down her pants.  Hmmm.  Maybe that is why we don't talk anymore?  We were relentless though.  She was crying from laughing and then crying because she couldn't stop.  And there we were, poking the bear ;)

I don't see my kids having that much fun together often enough, but those golden moments when we all are together and no one is fighting.... Well, duh, they are golden!
We were watching old videos of the kids from about 8 years ago, last weekend.  There were somethings that were just priceless, like Daughter when she was 2 and I was singing her the nightly bedtime songs.  I sang the same ones each night and she was learning them bit by bit.  I would sing the verse and she would fill in the last word.  It was so precious, I wanted to cry.  I will have my slice of nostalgia with a side of more nostalgia, please.  Oh, how I miss those days!  Or Eldest playing air guitar to Jungle Book 2.  How about Middle explaining that the crying in the background was just 'technical difficulties with a 1-year old", and as he said it, he was holding the camera like someone would hold the sides of your head to make sure you were listening to the very important thing you had to say.
To listen to the way they sounded back then is HILARIOUS!  We could hardly believe who was speaking when we heard them.  It was all so fun back then.  It still is now, but life is no longer about Play-Doh and night night songs, it is about learning to drive and getting a first job, and deciding what classes to take to prepare for college.  It is recitals for dance that they are in every show because they are in classes that are advanced enough that it is there turn to be in with the big girls.  It has all gone so fast, and I wish I could turn it all back and go play with my little kids.  Oh, how I miss my three little darlings.  Now, they better hurry the hell up and get me some grandbabies so I can enjoy those precious moments.  Alas, I WILL wait for them to reach a point of being responsible, mature people who are ready for parenting.  Then I will wish for PAYBACK!!!


Monday, February 20, 2012

It has been a while, hasn't it?

Yes, it has.  It is looking like 2012 will be a lot like 2011, very BUSY!  That is a good thing, I can't imagine life ever being boring and not having anything to do.  My kids, on the other hand.... if I had a dollar for every time I have heard "I'm bored." since just New Years, I would have my money for next Christmas in the bank.

I think at least half the country would agree, this has been the craziest winter ever!  You won't see me complaining though.  I have been able to get more stuff done that I would have had we had 2 feet of snow on the ground all season or if we had a month of below zero temps and wind chills.  This is GOOD crazy.

It has been hatching season for me for the last month already.  I doubt I would have had enough not-frozen eggs to put in for hatching if we had a typical Minnesota winter.  I have already hatched over 100 chicks and there are more a cookin'.  This is exciting and fun.  I find it hard to understand how my kids have become the way they have about the baby chicks.  Call me crazy, but I still get excited to see them cracking and popping out of those eggs.  Daughter, who is not quite 10 yet, still likes to go out and hold them, but she doesn't oooo, and ahhhh like she used to, not even over the Silkies.  The good thing though, she and Middle still want to show them in the Summer.  In fact, they still want to show ducks too, which means getting a whole new batch this year.

Ah, that is another good thing about the winter being mild and minimal amount of snow,  the ducks.  I sort of stuck myself with 6 Jumbo Pekins and a Welsh Harlequin drake over the winter.  You see, my processor said he doesn't do ducks until after it gets really cold.  Well, things were busy around here and I kept putting it off until it got to be early December.  I then called him up and he said he was closed for the Winter.  Then I called around, and everyone else was close to ducks for the Winter.  So, then, I was going to do them myself.  I told Middle and Hubby they had to help me since they were the ones who wanted to ducks to eat.  Middle said, "NO WAY! I'm not killing the ducks."  Once I explained I would do the killing (not my favorite thing either, sheesh), he said he would help pluck.  As it turned out, whenever there was a day warm enough to do it, kids were in school and Hubby was out of town.  So, guess what?  I STILL have 6 Jumbo Pekins and a Welsh out here.  The good news?  Well, I am getting Pekin eggs now and I KNOW they are fertile (poor girly ducks, 2 of them and 4 drakes).  I am really hoping that the duck who laid double, conjoined yolks all Fall has her system settled down so she lays normal eggs.  I plan to hatch a few and then start looking for someone to process the whole 7 of them.

Life is always a bowlful of cherries with a couple of teenagers in the house.  Eldest gives me a daily dose of crap like most teenagers do.  It is a good thing I color my hair often because I don't want to see how much more gray hair I have gotten in the last 6-months.  Poor Hubby though, he is getting it like crazy.
Eldest turns 16 in May, and guess what he is wanting to get?  You betcha!  A car.  Of course, when I tell him how I was 18 before I had my own car and I had to buy my own car, he won't hear it.  "Things have changed, Mom!"  Oh, yes, they have changed so much that parents are supposed to just go out and plunk down $10,000 for a car so you can go hang out with your friends whenever you want?  I don't think so.  The nice thing is, he does work.  The not-so-great part of that is that he only gets about 5-8 hours a week.  I can't suggest any jobs though because they aren't cool enough or they don't pay enough or just about any other excuse just because I suggest them.  He was such a wonderful, perfectly wonderful young boy, I had really hoped we would skip this part of being a kid.  I was wrong.  And the extra fun thing, Middle is 13 1/2.  You know what that means?  Here comes pain in the ass number 2.  Middle says he won't act like Eldest, but I know not to get my hopes up.  They do have different personalities, so maybe there is a chance, but I am not putting any stock in it.  The big dread though, Daughter becoming a teenager.  Holy crap, are we going to have our hands full then!

Even though we have had a very mild, very snowless Winter so far, we are getting snow tonight.  I am just hoping like crazy the school isn't closed or delayed in any way tomorrow, the kids had off Friday and today, and the whole "I'm bored." thing is really going to make me snap if they are here one more day.  On top of it all, Hubby was gone to a meeting all weekend.  Isn't that special?

Middle will be happy with the snow.  I swear he has been doing the snow dance (like the rain dance but different).  He has only been snowboarding 3 or 4 times this year, and he wants to be on the slopes SO SO SO bad.  We thought about Hubby taking him to the Rockies to get some good boarding in, but we are afraid it will poison him.  By that I mean that he will never be happy boarding here in Minnesota again if he goes out and finds out what a real mountain slope is all about.  I know it spoiled me from ever wanting to ski anywhere but the Rockies.  The whole idea was for Hubby to take Middle out there, and me take the other two and go to Florida!  We lived there for 5 1/2 years when we were in our Navy days, and I would never want to live there again, but it sure is nice to visit.  Plus, I want them to have a chance to do the theme park stuff at least once before they are off to college.  

Well, time to retire is upon me.  
Til next time....


Thursday, January 12, 2012

He's Back!!!

Old Man Winter seems to have been on a hiatus, but today he is back with vengence.  Was it Sunday or Monday it was 50-degrees, and now the temp is 13 with a wind chill of -5.  Like I really want to go out there?  Not really.  But, I have birds that rely on me for food and water and I must go and take care of them.  I have a feeling the ducks are inside today too.  They are so silly, they stay out all the time, but the last time the temps dipped like this, they actually went inside for the first time, voluntarily.

This weekend the temp is supposed to be back to 40, so I think that is when I will be running the electric in the big chicken out.  That way the birds should have water all day long without freezing, and I won't have to break ice every day.  I need to water twice on days like today to make sure they are getting plenty.

I got two pens of bantams up and separated.  They seem pretty happy, or at least my little Frizzles are.  They have been in a large rabbit cage for some time now and though I had a pad in there that gave them solid floor in part of it, they are happy to have an all solid floor and shavings to scratch in.  I still have 5 bantam pens to finish in there, then the construction in that building will be done.  I did say  IN because I still need to get out and get gates on the outdoor runs, and wire over the top for those breeds that love to fly out.

Well, I need to run to the mill for more feed.  It is time to face the awful weather.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Another year is gone by.  I can sum that one up in one word: BUSY!!!!!

There was so much to get done this last year, and we did most of it.  Some of it got forgotten and some is still on our list of Things To Do, but we accomplished much.

Hubby spent a lot of time away from home and it looks like 2012 will be no different.  The company downsizing and losing some employees has made his job more secure, but sometimes I wish he could find a new line of work.  I miss him.

My two boys have both grown so much and have gone way passed me already.

Eldest has been a challenge, but we are still proud of all he is (except those moments when he makes us want to rip his head off).  15-year olds, Oi!

Middle is becoming and awesome guitar player!  He hasn't had a lesson yet, but he has heart and soul that he is pouring into those strings and it is paying off.  We actually ENJOY listening to him play now!

Daughter has her days, but she is the cutest little girl in the world to me and makes me so proud of who she is and what she is becoming.  I wish she was still little enough for me to gobble her belly.  Okay, I still do when she is being stubborn and I want to get her to talk to me, or at least smile.

Well, the chicken house is not done yet, but thanks to the long fall and warm winter so far, I have gotten much done that I might not have if we had normal temps.
 I just finished pens 7 and 8 done tonight and birds moved into them.  They are happier and less crowded.  I will be able to start collecting eggs to hatch soon, that is if they will get laying and quit poking around about it.  I have yet to put lights in to get them going again, but slowly I am getting eggs again.  They needed a break, but now it is time to start cranking them out.
I got 2 portable coops up off the ground where I don't have to worry about mice and rats getting in them.  Face it, if you have as many chickens and ducks and turkeys as I have, there are bound to be rodents coming around.
I counted the other day, and I have roughly 125 chickens right now.  That breaks down to 13 Standard Breeds/Varieties, and 8 Bantams Breeds/Varieties.  I have some crossbreeds too that are not part of that count, those are just the ones I am breeding pure.
I still have 6 Pekin ducks and 1 Welsh Harlequin.  I was hoping to get rid of the WH drake with his two 'brothers', but someone just wanted 2.  So, I may be stuck with this guy until I can find someone to take him or until I can get him butchered.  The Pekins are well passed the point of when I wanted to get them butchered.  I was so busy this fall that by the time I got around to calling to have them processed, my guy closed up for winter already.  I called around, but with no luck.  So, if I want them butchered, I am going to have to do it myself.  I told Hubby and Middle that since they are the ones wanting to eat duck, they need to help me get them processed.  Hubby said, "Oh."  Middle said, "NO WAY!! I am not killing the ducks!"  Well, I told him that it didn't mean HE had to do the killing, but he could help with the plucking and gutting.  He didn't like that either but conceded to help.  Now, to get it all ready and do it before the weather really turns cold here.
I also have to blood test all of my chickens and I don't want to do that when it is below freezing and have everything freeze on me.

We have been SO SO SO lucky with the weather though!!!

Middle is still bummed about not having snow to go snowboarding, but at least he isn't carrying on about it every day all day long like he was.

I have gotten orders started for chicks and eggs.  I am excited about the prospects of what this year will be with my hatchery starting out.  I need to get in and finish the inside of the brooder house before I start putting eggs in to incubate.  I will need to raise about 130 birds for myself, maybe more so I can pick some better (hopefully) breeders for next year.  Maybe I will do more than that, we will see how things go.  I know spring time is going to mean more fencing and digging a pond and getting a proper shelter for ducks up so I can keep some over winter without a huge hassle.

Of course, spring is going to mean gardening too.   This year, if we can get all the preparations done, we are hoping to replace our old ailing farmhouse too.  So, 2012 is going to be another busy one.  But if all we do is sit around, that isn't living.

May all of you have a wonderful New Year!
Til next time....


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Silliness.

It is that time again where the silliness ensues.  I have composed some new songs for the season from a slightly poultry point of view:

O Come All Ye Chickens

Oh, come all ye Chickens
Flying, Running , Flapping
Oh Come ye 
Oh come ye to e-eat your scratch

Come and enjoy it
Eat until your crop is full
Oh Come peck up the kernels
Oh Come peck up the kernels
Oh Come peck up the kernels
And don't forget your grit

Oh come all ye Chickens
Squawking, crowing, clucking
Oh Come and lay eggs for me
So I may hatch them
We will have more birds
Little fluffy chickies
Oh come let us hold them
Oh come let us watch them
Oh come and make me just another
Chicken addict!

A challenge was put to me, so I answered the call:

Ava Maria, you say?
My hen's version-

Baaaaawk BawkBawk Baaaaaawwwk BawkBawk

Baaaawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Bawk
Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwk Bawk
Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Ba-gawk

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Bawk Ba-gawk  Ba-gawk
Baaaaaaaaaaa-gaaaaaaaaawk   Ba-ba-ba gaaaaaaaaaaaaawk
Bawk bu-bu-bu-bu-ba-gawwwwwwk

I need her to work on the rest, it is such a long song for such a small chicken.

Rudolph the Naked Neck Rooster

Rudolph the Naked Neck Rooster
Had a very cozy scarf
And if you ever saw him
You would even say he crows
All of the other roosters
Used to laugh and peck his head
They never let poor Rudolph
Try to breed any of their hens.
Then one windy Autumn eve
Farmer came to say
Roosters who like to peck and fight
Go to freezer camp tonight
The how the hens all loved him
As they clucked around with glee
Rudolph the Naked Neck Rooster
Should change his name to Mr. Lucky!

(Along the lines of Silent Night)

Silent Night Chicken Style

Leg-horn White
Gold-en Se-bright

All the hens
In their pens
Coo-ing sounds com-ing
from their roost
Eggs come pop-ping out
In their nests

In the morning Ome-lets we'll enjoy
My pet makes my break-fast

Black Ja-va

Eggs in Blue
Green ones too
Brown and White, and Speckled ones too
Large and small and Jum-bo too
All my hens are so haaaaa-ppy
Nest-led all in their coop

Leghorn Whiiiiiiiiite
Golden Se-briiiiiiight

Check Your Nest (to the sound of Deck the Halls)

Check your nests or you'll be sorry
Cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck

Frozen eggs bring you no glory
Cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck

Heat your nests or collect them often
Cluck cluck cluck
Cluck cluck cluck

Snatch them up put 'em in the bator
Cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck

Chicken Wonderland

Roosters crow
Are ya listening
In the coop
Where their scratching
They're singing their song
As hens cluck along
Crowing in a winter wonderland

In the meadow we can throw some corn seed
and the Crows will come and chow it down
Bald Eagles with come and circle 'round here
Until the Crows all mob and chase them around

Later on, they'll puff their feathers
To fight off
The cold weather
Dreaming of lawns
As the night lingers on
Crowing in the winter wonderland

Crowing in the winter
Snowing in the winter
Crowing in the winter

If you can escape them, you start to think like them.
Know they enemy!

Okay, my chickens are not my enemy, I love each and every one of them.  Some I love with dumplings more than in the coop, but I do love them.
The new house is getting closer and closer to being done and I have it almost half full now.  The birdies are appreciating not having to huddle and roost in the portable pens that set on the ground.  They are in deep shavings and out of the wind, or at least the ones that are smart enough to sleep in the back of the pen away from the windows.  Some are just not smart.  Yes, it is true, chickens are not the brightest of the bunch.  I felt terrible for my one Minorca boy, he is already showing signs of frostbite.  It is the downside of having birds with such large combs in this cold climate.  I have read that putting Vaseline or Bag Balm on them helps.  I will have to find me a can and give it a try.  Poor guys.

Even with the extended fall, I wasn't able to get all the preparations done that I needed to for winter, but I  got my snow pants and heavy work jacket, several pairs of gloves and hats to help me continue my quest.  I finally got all the wire on the outdoor runs the first day we really started accumulating snow.  It was tough trying to tack up the wire at the 6-foot level and having to look up into the clumping snowflakes to do it and having them going in my eyes.  I was glad I forgot to wear my glasses that day, it would have been no help if I had.

It has been a cold last couple of days and tomorrow is supposed to be the worst yet for this time around, a high of 14 and the low nearing zero.  Ouch!  I can't say as I like the sounds of that.  In this old house, we feel the cold a bit when it gets like that.  I can't wait until next year when we are supposed to be tearing this old house down and putting up a new, very efficient and comfortable in-ground dome structure.  (Look them up on  It makes more sense than trying to fix all the problems this 100+-year old house has.  This week it was a drain/septic issue.  We are just praying that it doesn't all give out on us before spring.  I told Husband that I don't think we should hedge on things working through the winter, but we still have not come to a decision on whether or not we should do something different right now.  It all cost $$ and sometimes you just feel like you are throwing it away in these cases to band-aid fix something that is going to be all taken out in the not so distant future.  Decisions.  Decisions. Decisions.

Someone is happy the snow has come though.  Middle.
He has been just chomping at the bit to have snow.  He wants to go snowboarding tomorrow after school.  I hate to break it to him, but in addition to it being colder that a witches nose, he has a bedroom that needs cleaning AND he has been having problems with his back for a few weeks from an injury during soccer season.  I had him in the chiropractor yesterday and have had him in there several time before that to help get over this problem.  We did find out a couple of weeks ago, the boy's feet are as flat as a ducks!  We wondered why it sounded like duck feet slapping down the hall when he would go to the bathroom.  Now we know.
I had suspected this a long time ago and had him show me his feet, but I went about it wrong.  I had him lift his foot to show me the bottoms, to examine the arches.  Well, when you lift your feet it pulls the arch up, therefore appearing normal.  So, this guy we see had him stand with his feet on the floor with no shoes and he has NO arch.  Add that to the almost half inch difference in his leg length, and no wonder he has some issues with standing up straight.  It is hard to get it through a 13-year old, stubborn boy's head that jumping on his snowboard and going up and down hills is probably not the best thing for him to be doing right now.  Any bet on how big of a hissy fit he throws when I tell him he can't go?

Well, the sun is out and there is much to be done.
Let the silliness continue, if for no other reason but to help deal with Old Man Winter's extended visit which has only just begun.
In case I don't get back to say it,


Monday, November 7, 2011

Once Upon a Time

There was a very tired and stressed out mother/wife who just wanted there to be not so much work all of the time.  She wanted to go with her family on a vacation somewhere where they could all relax and have fun together, instead of always working to get this project done or that project done.  She was saddened by the thought of her children growing up and going off into the world and that they would never be able to take that time to get away and just be a family for a while without all the rest of life's baloney.

Okay, I am awake now.  Must have been dreaming again.
I do look forward to hubby and I taking the kids and going to do something fun away from all that we have going on here, while the kids are still kids.  It has seemed like we would still have so much time, but it has flown passed so quickly, and before we know it, Eldest is going to be done with high school and off to college.

Today was spent first running Middle to the chiropractor to get his back adjusted and get my spine in line too.  I wish he lived next door so I didn't have to spend 2-hours running to get that done every time, which is 2-3 times a week now since Middle hurt himself during soccer season.  Then I got back to work on the chicken house (outdoor runs) some more.  I was sure we would get them all up and ready to put wire on before it got too dark, but Daughter had dance and Eldest had work and Hubby had to take them while I kept plugging away.  Then Middle needed help carrying rabbit cages that he was cleaning and I just ran out of daylight for getting the frame done.  Now tomorrow is supposed to be rainy turning to snow and then we are supposed to get 4-6 inches of the white stuff tomorrow night.

How pleasant.

Middle is just chomping at the bit to go snowboarding, so he is yelling "Bring on the snow!"  While I am saying, "Can we just skip winter this year?  Please?"  We have been quite lucky so far though, this fall has been warm and dry and good for getting projects worked on out there when I do have the time away from the family/parental obligations.

When I was a kid, we always had a trip that Mom and Dad took us on in the summer and we ALWAYS went to Florida for 2-weeks.  My grandparents had a house down there and my dad hated being up north all winter.  So, when I was 2, we started going to Florida every year in February for 2-weeks.  The last time I made that trip with my parents, I think I was 13 or 14.  After that, I got to stay home and do chores with my older siblings.  I was glad then that I didn't have to go.  I liked going to Florida, but who wants to go with their parents to a small town that wasn't close to anything to spend 2-weeks?  I did enjoy my grandmother's company though.  We sat almost every night playing cards and laughing about some stupid things, listening to stories of mischief and mayhem.  My Gram was quite the hell-raiser when she was young.  Then she had 11 children and 44 grandchildren to tell stories about.  She was definitely NOT a dull person to be with.  I sure loved that lady.

One summer when I was 7, whole family, minus 2 brothers, went on a trip "Out West".  We loaded up a motor home, towing a pullout camper on the back, and we went from Buffalo, NY to Billings, Montana.  My father had a cousin of some kind out there, so we went on a loooooong trip out there.  There were 13 of us because my grandparents went along too.  Being that I was only 7, I don't remember a whole lot.  We almost always stopped at a KOA Campground that had a swimming pool.  One night, it was near the Badlands in South Dakota, there was a huge thunderstorm and we couldn't stop where there was a pool, and I just couldn't understand why not.  Well, being the hopeful child I was that Mother Nature would surely see I need to take a dip, I believed that once we found the one with the pool, the rain would stop and we could all go swim.  Of course, I was a knucklehead for not realizing that that was no way going to be the case, and we went to a place without a pool.  Funny thing is, I don't remember anything else about that night.
I do remember, most of our trip was a lot of flat plains with nothing to look at.  We listened to George Jones and Dolly Parton a lot on the old 8 Tracks.  There was other country music too, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind that always make me think of our trip "Out West".  There were things that were easy to remember, like this huge game reserve park with bears all over that we drove through.  Those are the places that have the signs that tell stupid people who don't have enough brains in their heads to NOT FEED THE BEARS.  Yes, some other knuckleheads would always come in thinking that these were the real Yogi Bears and they would just steal your pickanick baskets and run.  Let's see....does your pickanick basket include your arm?  Maybe just a hand?  How anyone could be so stupid as to ignore warnings, I just don't know.  But there were plenty of stories that told of how someone would be that stupid.
Probably the most beautiful memory of that trip was the morning we reached the top of a mountain somewhere in the Rockies, and you could smell the flowers and hear the water running off the snow cap that was still there on the mountain tops regardless of the fact that we were WELL into summer.  There was a beautiful lake and it was just so serene.  In fact, when I hear or read the word serene, that is the picture that comes to mind for me.
It was a bit scary though.  We had this big motor home and looking out the windows, everything was straight down.  As we wound our way up and around mountain roads, there was a shear drop on the one side all the way up and all the way down.  I recall being scared half to death that we were going to slide off the side of the mountain.  My grandfather HAD to sit in the front seat next to the window all the way there and back, and when we were going on those snaking mountain roads, you could see the terror on his face.  It is a wonder he didn't have a heart attack on that trip.  He was going through nitro like they were Tic Tacs.
The lucky ones to get to sleep in the pull out camper were my grandparents and 3 of my siblings.  One night, all the rest of us were in bed in the camper (or on the floor in sleeping bags as it were for some), and we heard all kinds of noise coming from the camper.  We had all assumed it was Grandpa telling stories again went to sleep.  The next morning, we found out it wasn't the laughter of Grandpa's storytelling.  Every night the camper had to be hooked back onto the motor home for stability.  We had probably unhooked it to service the motor home or go to a restaurant or something, but it didn't get hooked up again.  My grandparents outweighed my siblings by enough that it had tipped up and my siblings rolled over onto our grandparents and they were screaming and laughing and couldn't get themselves righted.  Grandpa was really in need of his pills then!  The next morning they found Grandma's teeth in someone's shoe and Grandpa finally did find his pills somewhere in the mess.  I am certain that no one forgot to hook up the camper after that.
There was one place that had a fishing pond.  It was a fun for us kids, it was almost guaranteed that you would catch something it was so stocked.  When we ran out of bait and Mom and Dad said no to getting more, we started throwing Cheetos to the fish.  BOY, did they love those!!  We should have used that for bait, but we already turned in our rods for the day.  So, it was just about as much fun watching them go after the Cheetos as it was catching them, and not nearly as messy.  Then the owner/manager/whoever was in charge came out and yelled at us and talked to our parents so we couldn't do that any more.  They were mad because our feeding the fish the Cheetos was making them too full and they wouldn't bite for anyone else.  I think we all spent the rest of the day plotting our revenge for them having spoiled our fun.

There was stop we made along a river where there was a public beach and 'watering hole'.  We got to go in swimming and it was a nice way to cool off in the hot summer sun.  There were a lot of local kids there.  There was a group of teenagers off in a spot down the river a little, and they had some inner tubes to float on.  One girl went floating out into a spot that had a hard current and was a bit deeper than the rest.  A smart aleck boy went and pulled the tube out from under her and she started flailing because she couldn't swim.  A bunch of her friends came to her rescue while that boy dragged the tube up the beach. My grandmother was just livid.  She got up and went over to that boy and was determined she was going to take that tube away from him after that stupid stunt, and she did.  He even tried taking it back and dragged her down the beach a little, but she did not give in.  I think he learned a lesson about how stubborn and strong some grandmothers are.  It was a funny sight to see though as a little kid, your grandmother with her arms wrapped around an inner tube and a teenage boy pulling like they were in a game of tug-of-war.

So, as I spend my days building chicken houses and pens, and cleaning up the yard and cleaning out our closets and picking up clutter inside and out, along with running kids to and from their things they have going on, I think about how it would be so nice to get away.  I think about how nice it will be if we can go on a trip that will give my children stories to tell about the trip they took with their family and the things they remember.  In all the things that I have always thought my parents didn't do right, that was one that they did do that I will always be glad for, the trips we took.  Not all the trips were the best time ever, I can't say as any of them were that great, but I have memories of things that will be with me my whole life.  Some make me laugh still, 38-years later.  That is what I hope we don't put off until it is too late.