Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chickenless Hen House

On Saturday, the kids and I went out to visit my mother and father-in-law, Lynda & Billy. It was a beautiful day in North Texas and we took advantage of what seemed like the first sunny day in ages. We played outside and had a great time! Then Lynda and I took the kids to the Crossroads Country Store which is the feed store in Everman, TX that is owned by some family friends. Rachel (a.k.a. Chicken Woman) is giving me three hens from her farm behind the feed store. I am supposed to pick them up at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning. I have no idea what they're going to look like. When she asked what I wanted, I only asked that they be almost or already laying...color didn't matter. She said she'd pick out three of the prettiest ones. Well, now all I can think about is what they're going to look like and what I'm going to name them. I'm SO excited! Rachel suggested that I transport them in a fruit sack so they don't tear up their beaks and feathers in a cage while on their five hour journey to the hill country. ( The old lady on the bus with the chicken under her arm that you see in the movies keeps coming to my mind!) I haven't quite worked out exactly how I'll get them there, but their new home awaits.
If all goes as planned, this lovely little dove pen attached to the old red barn will become the home for three pretty little hens this week. I still have to build some nesting boxes to mount on the walls, but other than that, it's ready to go. It opens up to the outside, as you can see, which will make it easy to let them roam free during the day. There is also a door on the back wall of the pen that allows access from inside the barn. This will make things easier on rainy days.

The wooden rod in the corner will be hung horizontally from the ceiling for a nice place for the hens to perch.

You can see that the nesting boxes shown here are much smaller than what a chicken would need. They must have been for doves. I am working on a box design that will have my girls feeling like queens! In the meantime, Lynda offered up the nesting boxes from her old chicken coop which will be perfect until I can build more. She also set me up with a galvanized feeder and waterer. I am lucky to have such a cool and generous mother-in-law!

There is ample room, sand on the floor, a heat lamp above, and the wire seems to be fairly new. There are a few cracks in some mortar between the rocks on the West wall that need to be repaired so that no snakes or rats can get in, but overall, I think we're in pretty good shape! All we need is the chickens! I will try my best to document the chicken exchange and report back tomorrow.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Em's Tubes

Today, Emerson had to get tubes in her ears. Too many ear infections in her 14 months of life. We are really hoping this procedure, called bilateral myringotomy, will keep her from going down the same road as her big brother. Harrison got close to having to get tubes three times and we never ended up doing it because he'd make it to the late Spring and get better. He never had problems all Summer long and we'd think he was in the clear, but inevitably, every Fall his allergies would kick in, the drainage would end up in his ears, and he'd get an infection every six to eight weeks. He seems to have outgrown the chronic ear trouble, but I think all of the infections have affected his hearing. Hopefully, Emerson will have a much easier time now.

Here she is in the waiting room bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in her pajamas. We had to be at the hospital at 6:25 a.m. She couldn't eat after midnight, so I was so afraid she'd wake up starving like she usually does and then be miserable the whole morning. There was so much going on and so many new people to watch, she never complained once!

Her purple gown was really kind of cute on her and she matched all of the other boys and girls awaiting the same fate. They were all so funny with their little diapers hanging out the opening in the back!

This is yet another holding area. She fell sound asleep and I had to wake her up to get a spray of goofy juice up the nose. They give them something that makes them really loopy so they won't have any separation anxiety when they have to leave their mommies and get wheeled away by a complete stranger. There were probably six other children hopped up on the same drug in the same room and it was hilarious! Emerson always waves and says, "Hi!" to people who pass and this morning with this drug in her little system, she could only muster a one fingered half wave and a very slurred, "HHHiiiiiiiiiiii." It was the cutest and funniest thing I have ever seen.

Here she is, eyes glazed over, holding her brother's beloved bunny rabbit, Robby. She had a monitor on her big toe that glowed red through her sock and a hospital band on each little ankle. I was so nervous and praying very hard at this point that she wouldn't be upset when they took her from me. They called her name and brought in her bed. I laid her down, snuggled Robby up tight, and gave her a couple hundred kisses and they wheeled her down the hall. She didn't make a peep!
By the time I walked to the next holding pen and called Roger, her doctor came out and said he was finished and she did fine. It literally took him like two minutes. What cost us about $1500, four hours of pre-registration and waiting, extreme hunger, and a LOT of stress, took him two minutes! Wha?
I was summoned to the recovery room where I found my tiny angel crying in the arms of a stranger. I grabbed her up and hugged her close and she proceeded to WAIL. She may be small, but the girl is WYLIE! And at this moment she was like trying to hold down a bobcat and they wanted me to make the bobcat drink apple juice! I mean she was MAD. I was concerned, and when the attending hospital staff became concerned, I was worried she was having a bad reaction to the anesthesia or something. Luckily, Roger was on his way into the hospital and made it to the recovery room before the nurses called back the doctor and anesthesiologist. All she needed to make her all better was a good dose of Daddy! He held her close and she was purring like a kitten in a matter of seconds...not minutes...SECONDS! Go figure! All I can say is I'm really glad that's over with and our baby girl is okay and back to her sweet little self.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow Day

We had snow today in the hill country! The kids and I played outside for a little while this morning and then headed inside for some chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. What a great way to start the day! Harrison and I even had a snowball fight with snow we found piled up on the freeze cloth covering the fig trees. He declared himself the winner...I conceded!

Look at those beautiful beds! They are ready for compost, rock phosphate, and fertilizer. The soil guru said that the rock phosphate will help bring up my phosphorus levels and will release slowly into the native soil. He recommended
a fertilizer high in nitrogen and phosphorus with no potassium. The limestone rock in our soil makes the calcium levels very high and when I water, I'll be adding even more calcium from the well water. He suggested I collect and use rainwater. Here we go with another new project...rainwater collection! He recommended their premium blend of compost which is made from human waste. I just couldn't make myself purchase it even though I know it has been tested and deemed safe. Just doesn't seem right...I prefer to eat horse poop! The compost I ordered comes from the stables at Retama Downs in San Antonio and is being delivered in an 18 wheeler on Thursday if the weather cooperates. I will return to North Texas tomorrow and plan to return to the hill country and my garden on March 8th. The beds should be close to ready by then and hopefully irrigation will be started. The weather is really crazy and has a huge affect on how much we get accomplished out there. Let's hope old man Winter is ready for some rest!

I took this picture of our peach trees with buds starting to swell yesterday. It was sunny and almost 80 degrees.

This is a picture of the same peach tree today with snow on the ground! Go figure. The weather really does change dramatically every 12 to 24 hours lately. You just have no idea what to wear! Imagine how confused the trees must be. I REALLY hope the peaches won't be affected by this most recent snap.

Monday, February 22, 2010


The garden is officially on! I got the official go ahead from my boss this weekend...FIRE! This is good since I have been going full steam ahead! I got my soil test results back at the end of last week and will be speaking to the soil guru tomorrow. I should be able to get my compost and other amendments this week. I will report on what the soil guy says tomorrow! I am ordering seed catalogs tonight and continue to work on my garden plan. Met with the irrigation contractor last week and he is working on an irrigation plan and parts list. I am excited!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Everyone Needs a Back Seat Driver

Okay...I have a couple of new quotes from Harrison that I just have to share because they give you such insight into my daily life! The first one happened while I was driving today and he was in his car seat eating McDonald's chicken nuggets. I had just finished paying for my healthy lunch at the Starbucks drive-thru window and I guess that because I didn't peel out as soon as the guy handed me my sandwich, I was some kind of a sloth or something! Harrison chimed in from the back, "Go, Mommie...GO, MOMMIE!" Man, I just needed to put my credit card back into my wallet. I chimed back, "Hey, back seat driving"! He said, "Mommie, EVERYONE needs a back seat driver!" Can't wait 'til he's 16...hee, hee, hee! Actually, I want to cry just thinking about him getting any older than he is right now. It's all happening way too fast!

The second one happened yesterday. I was working from home as usual and the kids were playing with a new little plastic tea set Emerson got for Christmas. Harrison got a plate from the kitchen to set the tea pitcher and cups on to help serve. We have a thing between us (Harrison and I) where we have to announce to the room when we have to leave to go to the bathroom. It's like unspoken law. So, naturally, when I needed to go, I announced to the room, "I'll be in the bathroom, you guys," and off I went, book in hand. Normally, potty time is the only "me time" I get during the daylight hours. Sad, I know...but so true, and I enjoy this time for myself. Well, lately, I have had an audience. Two persistent little rascals who think it's so, so funny when I point out that I JUST WANT TO GO TO THE BATHROOM ALONE. I know, lock them out you say! If only it was that easy. Em can hear the lock on a door turn like it's the dungeon master and she's about to get locked away forever! Needless to say, it throws her into total emotional breakdown if she thinks she can't get to me. So the door stays unlocked and they inevitably trickel in. This particular day, Harrison really cracked me up with what he said after my announcement. I said, "I'll be in the bathroom, you guys!" He very excitedly proclaimed, "Oh, good...we'll have a tea party in the bathroom!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

"The Worst Day I've Had in Years"

Today was another crazy Texas day. There is record breaking snowfall at home, but the kids and I are not there to frolic and play:( It was 35 and raining here, so we were holed up inside the house all day. Cabin fever set in at about six this evening. I couldn't get the kids in bed fast enough! They were like mad dogs who needed to be put down and I was the gate keeping them from all the wonderful things they knew they could be doing if they could just knock down that gate! My son actually told me that this was the worst day he's had in years! Well...he's four!

The high point of the day was a special delivery. My husband sent me flowers for Valentine's Day. He and my son planned the whole thing out and it has been their little secret for days. H was so proud when he heard that knock on the door and saw his plan come to fruition! He has had Valentine's Day on the brain lately and asked me tonight at bed time what LOVE is. I thought for a moment what would be the best way to describe something as abstract as LOVE to a four year old without making his expectations too high or scarring him for life. I finally told him, "LOVE is that feeling you feel when you think about Mommie or Daddy or Grandma or Grandpa or Bubbas or's different than the way you feel about a stranger." I went on...blah, blah, blah. Turns out that a mother's voice describing the word LOVE is just what it takes to put a mad dog to sleep! We'll go on to live another day!

We got the garden plot squared up and properly delineated this week. The sod cutter and tiller were delivered to the ranch today, and I sent my boss an email with the garden plan. Once I hear back from him tomorrow, we will be ready to break ground! Irrigation plans are in the works, tomatoes are potted up in the greenhouse, seed potatoes have been cut and dipped in Rocket Fuel. My finger is itching to pull the trigger! Hopefully, my next post will be entitled, "Fire!"

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ready, Aim...

Today was the day for getting things started. It's the official start of my blog AND it's the official start of my garden! I am planting a garden for the family that I work for, as well as for my own family, and I am very excited. The title of today's post, "Ready, Aim, Fire!", is how my boss described the manner in which he wanted me to take on this project. "Not... Ready, Fire, Aim"! In other words, do your homework and do it right the first time, Lisa. So, I have been reading every book I can get my hands on, picking the brain of as many gardening gurus I can find, and I can confidently say I am READY.

Today my awesome parents helped me kick off the AIMING portion of the endeavor. My Dad and I staked out a rough draft of the garden while Mom watched my two children. Staking out a garden may sound like a fairly simple task. Well, it's NOT! There is so much thinking, calculating, planning, measuring, string-lining, and hammering to do. Not to mention the weather went from a beautiful, sunny day yesterday, to a windy, drizzly, frigid day today. The conditions were rough, but Dad and I had the easy job! Mom had her hands full! I'll just say that my kids are 4 1/2 and 13 months and have the stamina of an Olympic marathon runner with a jet pack! They are something! But Mom is a pro and even had a hot meal waiting for us when we got home.

At the end of the day, we had a garden staked out and ready for approval, and our bellies full of fried venison steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, and hot, buttery broccoli. Not too shabby!

After a bubble bath and bedtime story with my two sweeties, I finally pulled the trigger on my other new blog. We'll see how things go! Ready, Aim.....