Glad To Be Home

Wow – the last four days went fast and boy am I glad for a day to chill at home. Subbing at the school on Thursday and Friday took a lot out of me. I enjoyed the first day but the second was exhausting. Nothing much different between the two days – just takes a lot out of me subbing as an Associate. I never know what classroom I’ll be in or what I’ll be doing and it’s different every time. This time I was with a child new to the school with a behavior disorder so it was a learning experience for me, for the child and for the teacher. And I get to go back this Thursday and Friday for the same child. The school is looking for a full time Associate but in the meantime they are taking turns with different Associates subbing. I had volunteered with the Color Run this Friday but agreed to work instead. I’m hoping I can still spend some time with Drew during the Color Run. Last Friday was Homecoming and I got to see Drew during the parade and the pep rally which was nice. Eric came home too for the weekend and for Homecoming. He requested meatloaf, potatoes and corn for supper for Friday night so that’s what we had. He’s a tad spoiled!

Saturday was spent with Abby and Braxton at the Kalona Fall Festival. It was lots of fun. We walked through the festival and the boys spent quite a bit of time playing in the corn area. That area is a favorite – kids love playing in shelled corn with buckets and shovels! After eating a lunch of homemade tacos and pie made by a Mennonite group we took the boys to the park and let them play. And then back to Abby’s house and more play time for the boys! It was a great day.

I had thought Sunday we would be staying home but Dad called and Joe went over there to help Dad start one of his tractors. Then Mom called and asked if Drew and I would want to come over for lunch so off we went. After that we headed home and spent the afternoon outside building a run for the chickens. I love having them free range but between them destroying my flower beds and the last few days deciding to cross the gravel road and wander in the neighbor’s pasture we decided we needed to pen them in. The neighbors don’t care if they wander over there but we don’t want them getting hit on the road. By the time we quit working on that it was getting late so we ran to town for supper at the Pizza Ranch. It had been months since we’d eaten there and it was a nice change of pace.

Today Drew and I aren’t feeling the best. I think I probably caught something from being at the school. That usually happens. And Drew has been fighting a cold. Today was a teacher in service day so no school so Drew got to sleep in and now he’s crashed on the couch watching cartoons. And I’m glad to have a day at home. No running anywhere, no plans. I’ll spend the day getting the house in order, working on laundry which hasn’t been touched for the past four days and chilling with Drew.  A great way to start the week!

Busy Week

This week has turned out to be a busy one. Yesterday saw me walking, then home to do laundry. Lots and lots of laundry. Cleaning out the chicken coop and taking care of the cats we brought home Sunday evening. They are in the shop but they won’t come out when we are in there. Hopefully they will be a little braver today. Then Dad and Mom came over with some apples to share and to see the cats. They stayed and chatted until dark.

Today I’m up early – no earlier than usual but I’m heading to Kalona to meet Abby. I’m going with her to a doctor’s appointment in Iowa City. Jeremy couldn’t take time off work so I volunteered to tag along. Nothing is wrong, just checking for gestational diabetes. I had it with my second two pregnancies and am hoping she doesn’t but since she didn’t pass the first test I won’t be surprised if this one comes out positive. So, I get to spend some quality time with her today which will be nice.

Tomorrow should be pretty normal. Nothing specific planned anyway. Just normal routine. Although I do need to do something with the apples Mom brought over. And I finished stitching my Fancey Blackett I working on so I need to decide on a finish for her. I love those days! Then Thursday and Friday I’m subbing at the elementary school. Friday is homecoming so that should be fun – the kids will be all excited to go see the parade. Not sure I know what I’m getting myself into! It’s nice to visit the school now and again to see how things are run and to get to know the teachers. Especially with Drew there. And he likes having me there. There will come a time when having his mom working at the school once in awhile won’t be so fun but for now he thinks it’s awesome!

And best of all – it’s supposed to be ten degrees cooler today than yesterday and then it’s supposed to drop down into the 60s. Yeah – hopefully fall is here!

Gathering Eggs

I’m not sure why but I love wandering out to the coop everyday to gather eggs. Of course with only four chickens – the gathering consists of four little eggs so it’s not exactly work or anything. But it’s always such a nice “surprise”. Usually about midmorning I get three and then after lunch sometime there will be one more. But once in awhile someone will surprise me and all four will be there together midmorning. I haven’t figure out which one is the late layer yet but I will! It’s kind of like picking tomatoes. There’s a satisfaction with knowing you’ve planted these little plants, you’ve nurtured them and cared for them. And yes, even talked to them once in awhile! And there’s a sense of satisfaction when you can then step out your backdoor, pick a tomato and eat it. All ripe and juicy and warm from the sun. It’s heaven!

It’s the same with chickens. You tend to them, feed and water them everyday. Clean out their coop. Pet them and love on them and your husband calls you the crazy chicken lady and in return they provide for you. For me, it’s just the way things are supposed to be. There’s just so much satisfaction in raising chickens and gathering fresh eggs. It’s what my grandmothers did and theirs mothers and grandmothers before them.

When we brought the chickens home this spring I had no idea what to do with them. I’ve never raised chickens. Growing up we raised rabbits, sheep, hogs, horses, dog and cats. So, I knew the basics of tending for animals. Joe’s mom raised chickens so he knew a little about what to expect. And we’ve figured things out as we’ve gone. I’ll go online once in awhile to see if what I’m doing is okay and for the most part it’s pretty much common sense. It certainly hasn’t been too hard. But fall is here and winter is on its way and I have some questions. I was doing some internet searching and came across this book, Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele and it called to me. I know I can find all the information I need online but sometimes you just need to have a book in your hand. Something you can sit down with, peruse, flip back and forth through. It came in the mail today. Happy mail day for me! Now to find the time to sit down and read. I’m hoping to find some natural ways to tend to the girls to keep them healthy and happy. And I can see already that four chickens just isn’t quite enough. I think I have room in the coop for at least two more come spring!

Eggs and Frogs and Fish

Look what we found this morning! I know it’s crazy to get excited about a couple of eggs but when Joe brought the first one in to show me I got so excited and yelled for Eric to some see! Of course an 18 year old boy doesn’t understand why his mother is acting like a fool because her chickens are doing what chickens do! But, he’s used to me and humors me. Most of the time! And then I felt bad because Drew isn’t here to share in the excitement! So of course I had to take a picture and send it to Beth to show Drew. I know he’ll be excited to check for eggs now – at least until the newness wears off!

Frog legs for supper maybe??!!

Speaking of Drew – Beth has been sending me lots of pictures and it seems he’s having lots of fun! This is the longest he’s spent away from home and he’s far enough away that there’s no running to get him if he’s homesick but I’m sure he’s staying so busy that he’ll be fine. Joe and I on the other hand are probably missing him more than he’s missing us!

Anna and Marley – my uncle’s granddaughter and great granddaughter – they definitely got the Houseal fishing gene!

We spent today in Burlington at the annual Houseal Fish Fry. My mom and her two brothers are avid fishermen and we all love to eat the fish they catch. Uncle Terry and Aunt Judy host the fish fry every year and since Uncle Donnie and Aunt Susan spend their winters in Florida this is our annual family get together. Terry has two beautiful ponds – one for fishing and one for swimming. It was a beautiful day, cool with a nice breeze. It was a little too cool for swimming so there was a lot of fishing and 4-wheel riding and lots and lots of visiting. A fun family get together that we look forward to every year.

A Road Trip, A Visit, And A Walk Around The Yard

This is where we’ll be on Labor Day

This weekend has sure flown by. We decided to road trip on Friday and head up to northern Iowa and check out the campground we’re going to be staying at over Labor Day. Where we have had excessive heat and no rain, they’ve had excessive rain and storms. They were working on cleaning up downed trees and downed power lines and it was raining while we were there but they were super nice people and I think we’re going to have fun staying here!

Saturday saw us heading south to Lake Rathbun. My sister was camping and asked us to come spend the day. So, off we went for a nice, relaxing afternoon and evening spending time in another campground! We have camped at Lake Rathbun but never at Island View and what a beautiful campground. We would like to stay there sometime – it was so nice. Beautiful views of the lake, huge sites and playgrounds in the middle so you can sit at your site and watch the kids play. Perfect when you have littles!

When life is not coming up roses look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them.” –L.F. Young

Today the temps and humidity broke a little and Drew and I and the chickens took a nice walk around the yard. My flowers are really suffering from the heat and lack of rain but the wildflowers are abundant. Drew picked me a beautiful bouquet that we’re enjoying in the house. I am amazed at some of the beautiful wildflowers in this area. Many consider them weeds but they brighten up the landscape with so many beautiful colors. I love them!

 

Free Ranging

Blackie didn’t get to roam quite as much as the others – she got to sit on Drew’s lap and be cuddled and loved! She seems to enjoy Drew – she doesn’t give much of struggle to be picked up!

Drew was so excited yesterday. His dad let him let the chickens out to free range for the first time. They loved it but were a little “chicken”! They didn’t wander far from the coop. I’m sure that won’t last long and soon they will be all over the yard. Poor Isee was put in her kennel so they could roam but after awhile we decided to go ahead let her out and she was perfect. She tried a couple of times to check things out but as soon as someone called her off she was fine and soon forgot all about them. Not bad for a bird dog! The chickens went right back to their coop when Drew went to put them away and they were exhausted – they all sat down and fell asleep!

 

I won’t be posting again until after the 4th. Lots to do the next few days and hope to stay away from electronics and just enjoy these next few days!

Crazy Chicken Lady

A little chicken creamer holding cinnamon sticks – belonged to my Grandma Houseal.

Now that we have chickens – I’ve been collecting chicken stuff! Apparently my Grandma Houseal must have liked chickens too.  I know I have a set of chicken and rooster figurines put away somewhere too that belonged to Great Grandma Houseal. I think I’ll bring them back out. My kitchen is small so that’s probably all I’ll find room for. Unless I decid to stitch the another pinkeep!

I’ve had these displayed for a long long time. They also belonged to Grandma Houseal. Love the cute little chickens on the lids.
And I fell in love with this valance. Black chickens with a burgundy one thrown in here and there – perfect!
And I just had to stitch up this cute little pinkeep. Now to find a place for it! Aren’t the little chicks just darling??!!

It’s Only Wednesday

Spotted Chickens Pinkeep – Stacy Nash.

For some reason this evening it feels like it’s been a long week and it’s only Wednesday. That’s usually how I feel when Joe is gone. The first day or two are fine and then I’m just ready for him to be home. Friday can’t come soon enough!

It rained today. A lot. Drew’s class trip was today and they were supposed to visit the county park today and I volunteered to go along but that was canceled. They still got to see how pizzas were made at the Pizza Ranch and enjoy pizza for lunch, visit the Public Library, go bowling and then ice cream at the local ice cream shop. All done in between the rain drops! I helped at the bowing alley and they had lots of fun and were so well behaved!

In between running Drew to school, running into the bowling alley, then running back into town to pick Drew up from school, I managed to get the kitchen and bathroom painted. It helped that I didn’t go to Belva Deer this morning and t-ball practice was canceled this evening. Next I want to paint my kitchen cupboards. That will be a major project. And I don’t plan on starting that until after school is out. Just too much to do to jump into that right now.

So tonight, since it’s chilly and rainy outside and Drew and I are both tired, it’s a good night to snuggle up under a blanket with Drew and stitch. And what am I stitching? Chickens of course! If I have chickens outside I might as well have them inside too!

 

Another Busy Week Ahead

My chives are getting ready to bloom. I planted them last year but I don’t know what to do with them. I need to read up on their care. The blooms are pretty anyway!

It seems like yesterday went by in a blur. I am so ready for school to get out and for things to slow down. I don’t do busy well. Looking back I am amazed that I survived having the older three kids at home and involved in everything that they were involved in. I don’t know how some of those parents do it who have children involved in everything they can possibly be involved in. I find that it takes away from home and family time. Sitting on the sidelines is great and the kids learn so much being involved but there just needs to be home time too. Family time. Slow time. Joe left yesterday midmorning for California. He’ll be home sometime Friday afternoon. I have to remember to remind him to stop at Hy-Vee and pick up Eric’s graduation cake. It’s an extra in case we run out of cake balls. Drew had soccer practice after school. I’m thinking they have had plenty of practices for them being kindergartners but I guess that means the coaches were really involved so I can’t complain. He has his last soccer game this Thursday but starts t-ball practice on Wednesday. I’m already thinking maybe that’s too much but I guess one day of overlap isn’t too bad. He’s not sure he even wants to play t-ball. We’ll let him try it and see how it goes. Eric loved baseball, Aaron not so much. They’re all different. Our only rule is if you start it you finish it. But if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go out for it again the next year.

If all goes well, this will be pretty by summer. The wave petunias will cascade over the pots and look so pretty! Ignore the pallet in the background. I had Joe bring it out so I could hose it off. I’ll be using it in my decorating for graduation.

Today is the only day that we don’t have anything going on. I’m going to try to get the housework caught up and the laundry done because I won’t have much time until after the weekend now. Tomorrow is Drew’s class trip and I’ve volunteered to go along. Out to Belva Deer for a picnic lunch, then bowling at the local bowling alley and ice cream at Walker’s. Should be a fun day. Then t-ball practice. Drew will be exhausted. Thursday is soccer. Friday will see us at the church decorating for Eric’s graduation party. I’m hoping to get everything set up Friday afternoon and evening so Saturday we can focus on cooking. I’m looking forward to the party. We have friends we haven’t seen in ages coming and family members all getting together. It will be fun. With Eric’s party and all that entails, we haven’t made any plans for Mother’s Day. We’ll just wing it I guess. I think we’ll all be ready for a nice quiet day. Maybe a picnic later in the day out at Belva Deer. That would be the perfect Mother’s Day for me!

Doesn’t every chicken coop need a start and a horse shoe for decoration?
Esther and Beaky. They are past the cute little chick stage and not quite into the grown up beautiful chicken stage. At this point they are kind of homely but we love them!

The Girls Are Growing

 

Meet Beaky – the largest of the brood. She is so pretty with her black and white feathers.

 

Not sure who enjoys the new coop more – Drew or the chickens!
Esther, Ethel and Blackie. I cannot tell Esther and Ethel apart. Wonder if I will ever be able to? Little Blackie is the smallest of the girls and she has a sweet temperament right now. Drew likes to cuddle with her!
The Hen House.