May 2009


Nothing sounds good.  But I’m in the mood to cook.

Finally.  I found it.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Baked-Potato-Soup/Detail.aspx

And so this morning I really wanted to inspire you with a witty and cute poem.

But it started like this:

Once there was a cute little mama,
Who was witty, bright, and sweet….

And it ends with something… Blah, blah, blah and  puked on her feet.

Needless to say the morning sickness and nausea is squelching my enthusiasm and also, obviously, my poetic ability.

So sorry.

Instead I’m just going to link you to a another witty, sweet, mama who wrote a really great piece on Mamas.  And more importantly on our role in our family and the importance of training OURSELVES.  Yes, I know.  You really don’t want to hear it.  It’s going to be some wretched, convicting piece about how you should ….  (Fill in the blank here with whatever you rightly feel guilty about.)

Raising Godly Tomatoes  – “The Parent’s Part”

If you’ll excuse me now, you go read, I’ll go hold in vomit.   BTW, for those of you who don’t know – this DOES mean it’s a girl.

OMGoodness, it was a long weekend.  I’m completely, thoroughly EXHAUSTED.  Did we get it all done?  Nope.  But, wow, we got quite a lot done.  The barn was gutted and we started over….  We now have three separate chicken pens, so far, with more to come.  The bunnies have an approx. 15′ x 12′ foot area for their little colony.  DH promises me toys for the rabbits.  I’m thinking a tiered platform, a place to crawl under, and a few little wire bottom nest boxes.  This with a few cardboard boxes to chew on should make them very happy.   The hens have their coop back and they seem appropriately grateful.  We’ll see how many eggs we get today. 🙂

Ana made Sarah’s birthday cake and did a lovely job.

Let me tell you, the Amish Division of Duties has a purpose!  On Saturday I worked inside all day long.  DH worked outside all day long.  At the end of the day we’d had three square meals, a clean house, crisp laundry, and an altogether pleasant day.  We had supervised children, good naps, and at the end of the day we rested, feeling accomplished.  Did I mention the rhubarb pie?  Hands down, THE best pie I’ve ever made.  And it had the flakiest crust… I used lard instead, as a good cook should. 🙂  I didn’t know you could make pie with ONLY rhubarb and still have it as sweet and delicious as a rhubarb mutt pie.  But I had nothing to mix it with, and was forced to use only rhubarb.  I think I’m making it again today.  So wonderful!

Fast forward to yesterday, day four of our long weekend.  We got moving fairly early on and headed out to the barn for the reconstruction.  I came in at lunch time and made lunch, but other than that we were flying by the seat of our pants.  Oh, and I admit it, we took a one hour nap.  😛  We deserved it.  We didn’t come in for supper last night until almost 9:30 in a last frantic effort to get it all done.  It didn’t happen.

We were expecting a homeschool group today and so that was our motivation to get it all done.  It didn’t happen.  But, as it rained all day yesterday and it’s expected to rain all day today, the visit by the group has been cancelled.  And that’s for the best.  Because everything is MUD.  And on a farm, mud isn’t wet dirt, it’s wet… Well, you get the picture and the picture isn’t pretty.  I’m a little sad as I really wanted to meet everyone!  However, we had planned on a great little picnic lunch, and as DH is only in the planning stages of our big table, we currently only have four chairs, the computer chair, and one very small dining room table.  At meals, two children sit at the island and two more sit at the Step 2 plastic table.  It works well enough, and I’m really excited about the Amish style trestle table we’ve been planning.  We are using reclaimed barn wood and we’ll have big, long benches.  Imagine it – ALL of us sitting around the same table.  Very exciting.  Even better, DH will have made it.  Honestly, I don’t even care if it turns out ugly…  I just think it will be neat to sit around a table my DH made with his own hands. 

What else was on my list?  Oh yes!  Stake the goats.   LOL!  Well, you can’t say we didn’t try.  And try.  And try.  And the only thing it resulted in was putting Heidi up for sale.  This is Heidi:

buddies

She’s a pretty little Saanen, but what we’re going to spend in aspirin really isn’t going to make her worth it.
She uses the window sill of the barn to vault her over a five foot fence.  No, really, she does.  She can crawl through cattle gate and under a gate that the mini doesn’t get through.  She’s exhausting.  So we staked her.  She managed to somehow get the collar to unclip.  How does a goat pull that off?  Sigh.

Stormy & Sunny

Stormy & Sunny

This is Stormy & Sunny.  They’re CJ’s pigs.  Aren’t they, um, well, lovely?  We cleaned their pen yesterday and MY they are naughty…   And yes, daring.  Yes, they escaped too.  Tim was supposed to keep them away while I did poop removal.  Never trust your four year old to hold back the vicious pigs. 🙂  Who KNEW pigs could run that fast?  I sure didn’t.  I tell you I am going to stay in such good shape, lean and trim, this pregnancy.  Stormy and Sunny have learned to tip their trough and roll it through the poop.  Now, that’s FUN.  And they can also jump in their water tub and splash all the water out until it’s light enough to roll around through poop too.  Smart pigs, hm?  Ha Ha.  I outsmarted them.  And, pathetically, I was pretty proud that I *could* outsmart them.  I think the more I work with livestock, the more easily I take pride in being able to outsmart them.  I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or just really sad.   I took my handy dandy drill and attached BOTH to the wall with really long screws.  And they were still there this morning.  Always a good sign.

A Boy & His Boat

A Boy & His Boat

And because rain has ruined my day, here’s the gratuitious rainy day photo.  Nope, not our farm.  It was our house in town last year.  But isn’t it fun? The cardboard box is his boat.  Our neighbor, Jim, (I miss him!) said he was going to put bluegills in there the next time it rained because Tim was so excited about having his very own pond.  Blessedly, shortly after this, DH and another neighbor dug up backyard and fixed the tile.  Poor Tim, no more pond.  But, let be said, the only thing I miss about moving here is that we couldn’t take all of our neighbors with us.  They were so awesome.

Camping

Camping

I REALLY wanted to take the kids to my Uncle John’s timber this weekend camping.  It truly is “roughing” it as there is NO escape from the outdoors – you couldn’t get a camper, or a PortaJohn for that matter, down there if you tried.  But you could never, ever duplicate the experience.  Yes, it’s never fun getting poison ivy on your more delicate parts from visiting Mrs. Murphy (you’d have to read Cheaper by the Dozen to understand), but at the same time, we hunt, gather, and find more herbs and edibles there than you can imagine. 

Rebecca & Jewelweed

Rebecca & Jewelweed

Thankfully, in that very poison ivy filled timber, there is also jewelweed – a.k.a. Touch-Me-Not.  Rebecca is with pale Touch-Me-Nots, but we were also able to find the more potent orange  spotted Touch-Me-Nots.  This was last year.  I have the frozen syrup in my freezer as the dried herb doesn’t work effectively.  Only fresh or frozen… I’ve been storing it all year long, just hoping to get poison ivy to try it out. 

 

Elderberries

Elderberries

A rather nice haul of elderberries wouldn’t you say?  Now, the only thing I’ve wanted to make this year is Clover jam and Dandelion blossom jam.  I was hoping for a trip to the timber yesterday and a batch, but alas, it did not happen.  Now, if only we can stay motivated to finish the barn today and tomorrow, then MAYBE this weekend will be for fun and playing.  Ya think?

My sweet husband looked at me last Monday morning and said, “I know why, in the Amish, the women do the inside work and the men do the outside work.”

Yeah, me too.  It’s so when they wake up on Monday morning and the garden looks great, and the lawn looks great, and the barn looks great…. The women don’t look around their house and want to move, alone, to a tropical island.

I spent no less than six hours, more like eight, push mowing our acreage last weekend.  We haven’t quite got around to buying a riding lawn mower yet since our big move.  Now, I admit it, I like mowing the lawn.  But, come Monday morning, when I’ve neglected the house all weekend long, not done laundry, and have cooked, but not done dishes, well, it’s depressing.

So, I’ve vowed this weekend, this long four day weekend, this won’t happen.  Especially as we are having a homeschooling group meet at our home Wednesday morning.  That would be ugly.

So, perhaps if I commit to my “To Do” list here and now…. 

1. Laundry
2. Butcher three chickens.
3. Scrub AND polish floor.
4. Move all the rubbermaid tubs of clothes into the garage AND put them away.
5. Sarah’s dress
6. Sarah’s birthday cake
7. Sarah’s blanket with Lizzie
8. Work with Legend – he’s getting food aggressive towards Lacey.  We want him to, “Come, Sit, Wait…” And then I feed him from above and be able to pet him all the while he eats, 2-3 times per day.  He’s just too big to not train in this way. 
9. Bunny colony – set it up in the barn.  Okay, so this breaks the Amish Division of Duties rule, but these are my bunnies… I have to have SOME control!
10. Stake the goats – weed control around the fences.
11. Milk, yes this should be #1, but we locked her away late last night.
12. Secure goat fencing…  Long story.  But my dh is going to turn our dairy goats into meat goats if they get into his garden.  ‘Nuff said.
13. Kick all boys out of my house.  Amish Division of Duties en force.  😛

Sarah is officially one.  She can wave bye-bye, and gives big, sloppy kisses.  She is saying Mama and Daddy and I swear last night she said, “Bri.”  She is becoming her very own little person.  She is absolutely itsy bitsy (just over 15lbs.) and we just adore her.  I was poking through my old blog and found New Baby photos – the best kind.  And they were of little Sarah.  And I thought maybe this is the perfect time to share.

My Newborn Sarah Elaine

My Newborn Sarah ElaineDizzy & Baby Sarah - Aww!

Baby Sarah Comes Home

Baby Sarah Comes Home

My Oldest Baby & Littlest Baby

My Oldest Baby & Littlest Baby

Little Shorties with Baby Sarah

Little Shorties with Baby Sarah

Sarah - Already Two Weeks Old

Sarah - Already Two Weeks Old

Sarah wearing her Munchkin Baby longies... Loved her in these.  They don't fit anymore. :(

Sarah wearing her Munchkin Baby longies... Loved her in these. They don't fit anymore. 😦

Mama's Girl?  No.  CJ's Girl.

Mama's Girl? No. CJ's Girl.

See What I Mean?

See What I Mean?

Mama's Sidekick

Mama's Sidekick

Children ARE a blessing.  Look what joy ONE life brings.

So for Sarah’s birthday we decided she needs a new dress!  And I knew what I wanted.  Er… well, sort of.  I wanted a peasant dress.  Well, I wanted a peasant dress OR I wanted an apron dress.  And I couldn’t decide which and they were just SO adorable that I spent hours on Etsy and Hyena poking through ideas to figure out what I wanted.

And then I was a little frustrated.  Because I knew I was going to have to end up taking three patterns and piecing them all together… My idea of a good time?  Not so much.  And then I found it!  “IT” being the PERFECT dress for Baby Sarah.  And Abigail.  And I’m pretty sure Rebecca and Elizabeth, lol.

Few things inspire me to sew these days.  But this did it.  And I was able to find the pattern locally!

This is the dress that inspired it all.  It’s made by Joline of Hibiscus Baby.  She also stocks at Venus Vanguard, a very talented group of women.

Apron Dress by Hibiscus Baby

Apron Dress by Hibiscus Baby

Popular much?

Now, I’m not good with mixing and matching fabrics.  Sigh.  But, I’m hoping with help, I’ll figure something out.  I want to the dress with a blue apron and a blue mix by the face as Sarah’s eyes are shockingly blue and she looks so pretty in blue.   I’m thinking crisp little white bloomers need to be an accessory too. 🙂 Oh, and you might find it helpful to check out the tutorial I found from The Green Wife on hair clips.   See what one pattern can inspire?

The actual pattern, for those looking, is “Claire” by Sandi Henderson a.k.a. Portabello Pixie.

Portabello Pixie's "Claire"

Portabello Pixie's "Claire"

 

Can’t wait to post pictures!  I’m going fabric shopping tomorrow unless we’re all still dreadfully sick.  We’re fighting some kind of bug here and it isn’t pretty.  But we’re working on Day Six, so we have to get better some time, right?

Someone asked me that today.  A someone who would be genuinely interested in the answer.  So it stopped me and I thought, “Well, how AM I?”  Truth is, I walked around here yesterday afternoon with a bad attitude… You know, the teen angst thing, where “nothin’ goes my way and everyone hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms” kind of an attitude, lol.

I had a Nemo day.

nemo

What?!  Yes, a Nemo day!  I’m always surprised when most people don’t know what I’m talking about…  But there is that possiblity that our family made this up in our heads, lol.

Do you remember in the movie when the Dad is talking to Nemo and he’s frustrated with him and Nemo is angry and they’re talking about going out in the ocean, but Marlin doesn’t think Nemo can, because of his special fin?

Marlin says, “NEMO!  You think you can do these things, but you CAN’T Nemo, you just can’t.”  I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t remember all the words, I haven’t seen the movie THAT often!  But I have Nemo days.  I think I can fit big, adventurous things into one day and then I get really frustrated when I find out I can’t.  This was yesterday.

I was seriously UNmotivated to get moving.  Then about noon, it hit me… What for supper?  Hmmm…. What was I in the mood for….  And then I piddled around until I decided it was too late to thaw anything out and so I came up with my brilliant plan…  I have two very fat ducks, that are messy, and begging to be eaten.  And I haven’t butchered poultry since I was 12.  So, Ana was excited, Lizzie was moderately elated, Rebecca was heartbroken, and Abigail was disgusted.  We put the kids down for a nap.  Pioneer women we were.  Er… well, that was how we FANCIED ourselves.  Not hardly.

I was fine for the “doing away with” of the ducks.  I was fine for the plucking.  About the time we dipped them in hot water for pin feathers, was about the time the smell hit me.  Yes, that’s right, a newly pregnant woman REALLY deluded herself in that it wasn’t going to bother her.  We quickly changed the game plan from nicely browned, crisp, roasted duck to skinless, marinated duck.  We skinned them.  And that’s when we discovered that while the books might advise you butcher them at 7-8 weeks, I don’t think they realize how LITTLE ducks are.  We had duck snacks for supper last night.  My husband literally laughed and laughed hard the minute he saw them.   Apparently ducks are actually mostly feathers.

Let it be said that I had a pretty good attitude all day long ’til the smell hit me and it was time to clean up after removing everything IN the duck.  Then I started feeling pretty sorry for myself.  Afterall, there was no quitting half way through. 

So, when asked, “How are you?” today, I really thought of my poor attitude yesterday.  And, honestly?  I’m a little ashamed.

How am I?

I have a beautiful, HEALTHY, little girl that is turning one today.  She has these crystal blue eyes and she loves me, ME, best of all.  She is my constant sidekick, and I light up her whole world.  I’m pretty good.

Littlest Sister

Littlest Sister

I have a beautiful, HEALTHY two year old.  She is talking and playing and becoming a whole person.  She THINKS now and reasons things out and she giggles, and she’s picky about her kisses, though I can usually convince her to share one or two with me.  Even if they are only pathetic cheek kisses instead of smacky lip kisses, I’ll take ’em.

I have a strong, HEALTHY, rambunctious boys who are good, really good boys.  They like to work and work hard.  They are the pride and joy of my life.  And they love their Mama and Daddy.

My “big” girls… 5, 8, and 13.  Each is unique and beautiful and wonderful.  I haven’t lost them to the world and they enjoy books, and outdoors, and fresh air, and green grass.  They appreciate beautiful things and nature and they really ENJOY life.

How am I?  I’m good, really good.  I have a husband that loves us, that takes care of us.  And yesterday, well, shame on me.  I should have sat down and made a list of my blessings.  More than “good”, I’m grateful.  Go forth and be grateful today.  Each day, each blessing, they are gifts from God.  A long face, a bad attitude, they are not because of circumstances, they are a lack of gratefulness.  Recognize it for what it is and purge it from your life.  Count your blessings and then kiss each one.  Serve instead of being served.   Be thankful.

I’m not a shopper by nature.  I don’t enjoy the hunt, I don’t enjoy spending money, I don’t enjoy hours of walking.  Nothing about shopping, unless it is in a bookstore, is enjoyable to me….

But, I will say that handmade holds a special place in my heart.  WAHMamas have been a love of mine since 2000 when I sewed my very first cloth diaper.  And the recognization that there are amazingly talented women out there, who choose to stay home and be with their family while they “do what they do” deserves recognition.

Most of these mamas have a sincere passion behind what they do.  The motivation is so much more than just financial, and if you look very carefully, you’ll see what that is in their products.

I will gladly admit my favorite Work at Home Mama is Lori from Beneath the Rowan Tree.  Her toys…..  They’re art, pure, simple, and amazing.  Full of wonder…..  I’ve been blessed to speak with Lori before and I know that Rowan (her daughter) has been a source of inspiration and joy.  And I wonder how someone can translate such beauty to silk, or clothing, or toys.  She did something recently that just absolutely took my breath away.  I didn’t know wool could become, well, this:

Beneath the Rowan Tree Wool Sculpture

Beneath the Rowan Tree Wool Sculpture

BTRT's "Mother & Daughters" Sculpture - Back

BTRT's "Mother & Daughters" Sculpture - Back

I have never in my life seen such a beautiful handmade object.   What Lori did with this….  It’s breathtaking. 

My children are very blessed to own a few things Lori has made for them.  Two of the girls have matching shirts, Sweetest Pea has a handpainted dress that doesn’t fit her anymore, yet she refuses to give it up… It’s more of a smock top now, lol.  She also made us a set of incredibly vibrant playsilks.

Lori's Silks

Lori's Silks

My children don’t own many toys.  The only plastic is some Schleich animals. 😉  In our home, there is no toybox.  There are no shelves of toys.  But there is one very special picnic basket.  It contains a tea set, 7 silks, and crocheted food.  And it can keep three little girls entertained for hours….  Playing, dreaming, imagining.  I was skeptical of play silks.  I bought the first one from EllieBelly when Lizzie was just a baby – 2002.  And it became her lovey.  Now, with more, the girls can make princess dress, sling their babies, have a picnic on them, wear a turban, tie on an apron…  You are only bound by your imagination.  Open ended toys create a sense of wonder, they grow the seed of creativity into a sapling, they inspire.  With natural playthings you’re giving such a gift, so much more than a plastic something….  And moreover, it’s been created by loving hands.

Give more than a gift…. Inspire wonder. 

Two links for you today – one is the one of the finest collaboration of WAHMama artists I’ve ever seen and I’m proud to link to them…  Fresh Congo.

The other is Lori’s store at Etsy… Hours of window shopping enjoyment.  Do look through her past sales.  You’ll go back over and over again.

People fail to recognize their gifts. 

I was thinking about this as I thought about my Dad’s family.  They seem to be average, and yet, they are so incredibly far from it.  A family of eleven, they are creative, quirky, and so much fun.  Their favorite sport is to top one another, story for story, about their childhood.  It seems as though when I thought I’d heard it all, they find a new story.

I was thinking of a particular aunt…  Her sense of humor is unbeatable, she is loveable, sweet, and kind.  She has a flair for the arts, and paints quite nicely.  Now, if you asked her, she’d shrug it off.  She certainly wouldn’t call it a gift.  She considers it a learned art…. 

And, when I thought about it, I thought about the tradgedy that she doesn’t realize her gift.  No, it’s not in the painting.  The Lord says we’re made in His image, and yet each unique.  I’d venture to say not one of her paintings will ever be famous.  And yet that wouldn’t be storing up treasures would it?  Even if it spent years in a museum?

No, her gift is the gift to recognize the beauty in everyday objects.  The tear on the face of a child.  The sad curve of the face of a clown.  The sun hitting an old barn in the evening with just the right glow.  The gift isn’t the ability to paint, but the ability to make people stop.  And recognize the gift of beauty in the everyday.

I ran across a blog today and her current post did just that.  It stopped me.  Her photos were so beautiful.  Maybe they’ll make you stop, look around today, and give thanks for those little, everyday things that fill our lives with beauty.

Give thanks.

Indeed.  That’s Norwegian for wonderful.   We traveled to the northern edge of the state this weekend to visit the very lovely town of Decorah.  My goodness!  What appears to be very small town Iowa is filled to the brim with THE most lovely little shops.   The Vesterheim was celebrating Syttende Mai – Norway’s Constitution Day, similar in thought to our Fourth of July.  

The celebration begins with a parade for the children.

Children's Parade

Children's Parade

 

This little town truly appreciates it heritage, shown through the young Nordic dancers that were there.The children dancing here are 3rd graders and 8th graders.  They are selected through competition in the third grade and will continue to dance together throughout their junior year of high school!  They did a beautiful job!

The Dancers

The Dancers

Sarah loved it all!

Baby Sarah

Baby Sarah

 

We visited Another Quality Chick, a neat blend of farm meets modern…  Decorah’s Hatchery has been owned by the same family for three generations.  When you walk in you’ll be surprised to find yourself in a pretty trendy little shop, and they have the best socks! 

Inside the Hatchery

Inside the Hatchery

What you don’t realize is that you’re in a hatchery – unless the peeping of chicks gives it away.  I wanted desperately to buy their last stock of Cochin babies, but alas, DH didn’t think sitting in the car for the next ten hours would be great for their health.  He was probably, maybe, possibly, right.  The very best part of the shop?  Oh, it HAD to be the incubators.  I had NO idea there were incubator IN the shop until DH pointed them out to me.  They’re huge, wooden incubators built in 1839.  You don’t know they are part of the shop because he’s converted a couple into clothing shelving, so they just fit right in.  And, let me tell you, their shirts REALLY get around.  Don’t believe me?  Look here….

Onto yet another shop…  The Blue Heron Knittery. 

Blue Heron's Shop

Blue Heron's Shop

They were having a “Drop In and Knit” weekend…  A few talented women, sitting in a circle, enjoying one another’s presence, and knitting.  Okay, I was MORE than a little jealous.  I’ve taken two classes thus far on knitting and I’m NOT good at it.  But I want to be.  I’m a work in progress.  DH, that lovely DH ‘o mine, bought me some very lovely, silky variegated wool yarn in a truly gorgeous lime… I have plans for a baby hat.  We did tell you Number 9 will be debuting in January, didn’t we?  Hopefully this little one will inspire me to stick with it.   It was a little difficult to explain to the women, no, I can’t really knit, but I do have a wool fetish and I do shop for wool.  Hmmm… How does that work?  I admit it.  If ever I really learn how to knit, I’ll be homeless, sitting on a corner, with a sign that says, “Will work for wool.”   Don’t believe me?  Window shopping at Hyena –

Back to Decorah…

The purpose of this weekend was Ana’s 13th birthday.  This trip to Vesterheim was officially hers.  It’s why you won’t see any little ones in the pictures.  We dropped them off at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  And just in the knick of time – two of them threw up and one ended up with a fever.  (I felt SO guilty.)  They had an awful lot of fun though.  They got to go to see their cousins, the girls did a bit of shopping with Grandma, and the boys planted flowers and cut and piled “stuff” with Grandpa and then Grandpa, cause he’s a firefighter, took them down to the Fire Station.  I think it’s an awful lot of work for Grandma and Grandpa to take on so many at once, but I just KNOW my kids are going to remember these times.  Grandpa takes them to the Fire Station every time they babysit and Grandma is one of those grandmas that is really GREAT at the home arts, especially cooking.  She is a great, natural cook…. She can toss in ingredients willy nilly and it always comes out right.  She passed the gift down to my husband, unfortunately it hasn’t rubbed off on me yet.  But she always gives the kids treats or bakes with them and they love it. 

This is a gift to her as she is absolutely obsessed with Genealogy.  We have the most information about my Grandfather’s side, as they were German and kept careful track of records & dates.  But she has a significant amount of information on my Grandmother’s side, and they were Norwegian.  She’s wanted to visit Vesterheim for some time and the weekend did NOT disappoint.

Now, me at 13?  Couldn’t have caught me dead in a museum.  But, let me just say, we’re two very different people, and I SO like her!  We were incredibly blessed in that as we started going through the museum we were able to speak with a man who lived his first 52 years in Norway.  He was able to find the place (Sortland) where our relatives lived when they were there.  He showed Ana on a map and talked to her about Norway in his thick Norwegian accent, which was just so lovely.  It made the experience just so rich. 

Map of Norway - Sortland

Map of Norway - Sortland

Four levels of Norwegian history, culture, and artifacts.  They even had a ship, yes a REAL ship, inside the building that traveled from Norway with its’ cargo of two brothers. 

The Tradewind carried two brothers to America from Norway.

The Tradewind carried two brothers to America from Norway.

  What was impressed on me the most was their love of beauty.  So often we think of the immigrants and pioneers to be purely functional.  But when we traveled around the museum we grasped their love of beautiful things.  Almost everything was beautiful as well as functional… They carved, burned, painted on so many of their items.

Spoon

Spoon

The marriage chests were lovely too.  Each had carved or painted the bride’s name on side and the groom’s on the other.  What a gift that would be to give!

Marriage Chest

Marriage Chest

Plenty to see, plenty to look at!

Vesterheim

Vesterheim

 

From there we dropped into the Oneota Co-Op to see what they had and again, we weren’t disappointed.  You’ll be relieved to know they had local soap made by Linden Soaps.  It’s something I look for in every shop and I’m thoroughly disappointed when Iowa shops don’t carry local soapers.  I was VERY impressed by the soap they carried as well.  It was all essential oils, sold by the log, naturally colored, and silky smooth.  I have to admit here that I am a total soap snob.  I’m pretty judgemental when it comes to soap…  These soaps were perfectly poured without a flaw, log after log, and a nice selection.  A truly gifted soaper, and I really liked her website as well.

As far as co-ops go, you’ll find one in almost every college town these days.  They’ve gotten very popular lately and it’s easy to see why.  It allows people to have so much more say in their food, makes organic affordable, and provides a great selection.  I was surprised to find Oneota was far ahead of themselves though!  They were established in 1972, long before the current food movement.   And, I admit, finding maple syrup there at $6.90 per pound tickled my to the tips of  my toes.

And finally, the best part of the trip was saved for last…. A field trip of sorts to Seed Savers. 

Seed Saver's

Seed Saver's

 

Seed Saver’s is committed to continuing heirloom variety… Um, well, everything.  They are breeding and producing heirloom plants, vegetables, flowers, and even cattle.  We were able to visit their new little chicken coop where they’ve just gotten in their new little flock – all listed as critical on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s list.  I was tickled to see they had Buckeyes, but I admit a little disappointed to see they had no Iowa Blues, which are not on the Critical list as they are currently being studied, but would have been such a nice addition.  Though I haven’t yet been able to find where I can purchase the chicks OR the eggs.

We loved their setup in the coop and in the coming weeks you’re going to see us do a few fabulous things.  We’ve been planning, trying to decide which chicken breeds to breed for our own flock and for others and it has been a long hard fight/discussion.  As of yesterday we finally made our decisions.

Buckeyes – Critical
Andalusians – Critical, though we think we lost all of our McMurray blue stock in a recent massacre that swept through our stock.
Faverolle – Critical – But our hands down favorite.

Faverolle - Picture from MyPetChicken

Faverolle - Picture from MyPetChicken

Delaware – Critical
Wyandotte, Blue – Though on the recovering list, we know these are an assette to any flock.
Orpington, Buff – Again recovering, but for the same reason as above.
Ameraucana – These are currently being studied and are not at risk, but who can resist the blue egg layer?  Moreover, we won’t be having Aracaunas as they have a genetic lethal allele that causes a high mortality rate in chicks.

So, we’re redoing the entire coop so that we can have several of these birds as breeding stock.  It will be a long road, but we will be hatching our own stock next Spring!  Very exciting for us and as it will be set up, we’ll be able to allow each breed out every day…  Nice for them as well.  While there were several breeds to consider, they had to lay well, be able to handle some confinement, and handle cold Iowa weather.   I’m desperately pleading my case for Brahmas, but limited space and all that jazz.  But, my I like them.

Brahma Hen

Brahma Hen - Picture from My Pet Chicken

 Quiet and tame, they are strong, brown egg layers, that end up being a fairly heavy breed if you don’t go in for the bantams.

We had started many seedling from heirloom varieties in February from Baker Creek to avoid genetic modification, but our broccoli died.  We picked up some broccoli and yet more tomato plants… Are we up to 52 plants now?  I think that’s where the count stands. 

And, on the bunny front, the colony is coming along very slowly.  DH built the first nest box this weekend and I’m going to attempt to teach myself to use his tools and saws this week to make toys.  I never thought I’d be making rabbit toys.  The rabbits, on the other hand, seem to be very happy in their little Bunny Commune.  Have a great and productive day!

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