Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Comings and Goings

Please excuse my absence in blogland these past few months. I've been really busy savoring every nanosecond of not being frozen to my core. I'm so glad it's not winter anymore. I'm so happy that even though we don't have central air and it's been a million degrees, and even though we've sometimes gone into town just so we could cool off in the van during the drive in, I AM NOT COLD. I'm not cold and that is a glorious thing.

A lot has happened since we've thawed out. Almost all of our chickens are dead! We started with eight hens last fall. They made it through the winter with nothing more than a little frostbite on their combs. They really did well. Then this spring as it started to thaw out, one of them got sick. She stayed sick for a long time, then suddenly one day she looked like she was completely better. It was amazing! The morning after that, I found her dead in the coop. Really sad. Another of the hens was beginning to show the same symptoms, so we killed her. We think it was coccidiosis, and we got the medicine to give them. Nobody else died from sickness. But then we got this dog, Ricky. He's a fantastic dog--five years old, raised in a family full of little kids, a truly smart and fantastic dog. His one problem is that he likes the taste of freshly killed chicken. And so even though we got two more chickens (Silkies!) to replace the two who died from disease, Ricky has eaten all of them.  He's eaten eight chickens. Very distressing. So, we are trying to rehome him and holding off on chickens until that happens. It's sad because we haven't had him very long and he really is a great dog, but it's necessary because, obviously, we can't have a dog eating our animals. And it doesn't help that Brynja (the goofy newfie, who was a puppy in that last picture but now is HUGE) opens the gate to the chicken yard because she likes to go hang out with them. She's such a nerd. I love her. Today Elka and I went in to feed the rabbits (because now we have three rabbits as well) and Elka just fed Brynja scoop after scoop of chicken feed. Brynja loves the chickens and they don't seem at all afraid of her.

Then there are all these cats. We are like cat collectors. You might remember that last fall after the tornadoes a calico showed up whom we (Greta) named Calick. Then the boy kitten, Simon came to us. In the very early Spring we took in an orange cat that we call Marmalade from some friends who couldn't keep him. All these were added to the two cats (Mary and Matlida) that we already had. Well, they all survived the brutal winter. They've taken care of our mouse problem in the garage and the house and have eliminated the voles that were tearing up the front yard. They were good hunters! But then the inside ones (Mary, Matilda, Marmalade) started peeing on everything and peeing in the bathtub and I said "No way," and I kicked them all out. Mary and Marmalade still hang around but Matilda has kind of disappeared and Simon and Calick........ well, Simon turned into a great big tomcat and it appears they might have run off together. I think they're bunking up in one of the sheds in the pasture. Is that considered "shacking up"? Those buildings certainly are shacks. I'm not going to be a bit surprised if Calick shows up one day with a collection of little ones in tow. And just in case that doesn't happen, Martin found a tiny stray in his mom's driveway today that he brought home and now we're bottle feeding it kitten formula.

And we got meat rabbits. We're feeding them from syringes.

Do we sound like crazy people yet?

Let's talk about humans who are able to feed themselves.

My kids are growing up too fast. Anja and Greta are riding two-wheelers now. As with all their milestones, they've been late, but because of that, they just have done it without effort. We got them two free two-wheelers by chance from two different people on back-to-back days, and they both just hopped on and started riding. It's been so fun. They are both reading now and Greta especially has been writing stories. It's so fun to watch this stage of creativity... Anja still seems to be really into poetry. She always has been!

Elka is two now. She is my challenge child, as everyone says third children tend to be. But, she has a smile that slays you, so it's ok. She's got her own two-year-old language and funny way of dancing with her arm up in the air, and really I can't put into words how weird and great she is, so I'll just stop talking about her now.

Little baby Ing is three months old now! She is what people would call "a good baby." She's really beyond good though. Elka was a good baby.... Ingrid is a sensational baby. Right now as I type this she is lying on the couch next to me chewing on her fingers and kicking her feet and cooing happily. It is a rare night that we walk her while she cries, even when she was a newborn. She (*gasp!*) sleeps through the night!!! Her naps are not regular and she doesn't sleep a whole lot during the day, but I can usually put her down for long enough to accomplish something like switching the laundry or pouring drinks for small people.

It's been interesting to experience this new place over what has now been almost a full year. It looks pretty different than it did when we first moved in... we have let the front yard go wild up to the firepit, with the intention of making it a pasture with stone walls somewhere down the line. For Father's Day (he's never going to hear the end of this) I built (ALL BY MYSELF! GIRL POWER!) a patio for Martin as something he wouldn't have to do. In the "backyard" Martin has kept a large square mowed, then made some mown paths connecting the backyard to the front. It's really beautiful and fairy-like. My parents (who generously gave us the marble slabs I used for the patio) gave us a porch swing frame, which we put down by the giant playset, under some trees that look like they should be fruit trees but are actually just nothing trees. It's nice! Improvements inside are slower going, I guess because it's summertime. We need to get our woodstove installed, we need to work on insulating the windows better and we need to build a dividing wall in the bedroom to make it into two bedrooms. That's the short-term goals. Long term is an addition, refinishing the attic, and renovating both the bathroom and the kitchen. We are constantly having to remind ourselves that this is our forever home and that perfecting a place takes lots of time, especially when you have small kids and not much time or money. But we are doing what we can with what we have!

One thing I miss about living in town is walking everywhere. I have definitely put on some pounds since moving here (pregnancy didn't help) but I've recently started walking down to the stop sign, which is .75 miles from our house and back. It's a nice walk, a pretty walk and a great way to snag 20 minutes of "me-time" at the end of the day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Catching Up!!

Catching up on my catching up! This is a post I started many weeks ago, and am just hopping on Blogger again to try to start (again) trying to routinely blog. So, here is this outdate post and hopefully a more current one will be shared soon.
Spring has sprung at Possum Cottage!!!!!!!  Finally!!!!! Winter seemed to have a hard time giving up his spot as king this year (as everyone noticed.)
So now, here we are, enjoying our first Spring at our new place. It's been fun to watch everything green up again. And along with the fresh new life of the grass and trees, we have purchased two new chickens: A "couple" of Silkies. They don't seem to live by very strict Christian morals, so we wonder if perhaps we'll get some baby Silkies at some point. Aren't these birds so crazy looking?
The lady is the one in the very poofy hat.
Our yard became Dandelion Land for a long time. The girls would love going out and picking them and my heart went pitter-patter every time someone would bring me a scraggly bouquet. The first batch has gone to puffballs and were all scattered in the storms over the weekend, but we have a fresh new batch of yellow ones popping up today. Do dandelions grow all year? I don't care if they're weeds, I love them. I need to break out my dandelion recipes, knowing that these ones aren't being peed on by humans I don't know.

The girls are glad to be out of the house after that long winter. And the chickens aren't the only new things in our family. On Mother's Day we took in a dog who needed a home. His name is Ricky and he is a fantastic dog. He's five years old and was raised in a family with lots of small children. He's evidently a lab-border collie mix sort of mutt. But he's wonderful! He needed a new home because he kept running off from his city house every time the door opened. Not a big deal out here, but where they lived he was running into busy streets. We really feel like he came to us though (much like most of our animals) and are grateful to have him. I've always wanted lots of dogs!

And speaking of New Life....

This is a picture Greta drew the day before her baby sister was scheduled to be born. She is saying "Why are you so grumpy?" and I am replying, "Because I don't like having this baby in my belly." It's pretty darn accurate. To say I was tired of being pregnant is an understatement. It was so sick of being pregnant, I was trying all the tricks to naturally induce labor before my scheduled cesarean day. But, it didn't work. (As usual. I have NEVER been successful at inducing labor with any of those old tricks. Bah.)
And so, on April 3rd, Martin and I showed up at the hospital bright and early (not bright. The sun wasn't even up yet it was so early. And then there was a big thunderstorm during her birth) where I was very routinely sliced open and this little beauty was removed:
Ingrid MaryDell! It was an uneventful procedure (always good!) and my hospital stay was really something else. I kind of can't believe how much fun I had. Still, it was good to go home of course, and jump into everyday life with FOUR daughters. Wild!
Ing is a great baby. She's five weeks old now and juuuuust beginning to flash us smiles every once in awhile. She typically wakes up early, then naps again mid-morning to mid-afternoon.