Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Odds & Ends

Two times in as many days someone has referred to my Sadie as having a Tatum O'Neal look going.  I believe one said the Paper Moon/Bad News Bears time period, not her adult cocaine days (whew!).  I think it must be the reemergence of freckles on her face from being in the spring sun.  I checked it out on google images and well, maybe it is her Doppelganger? 

Lily is obsessed with caterpillars.  Always finding them, naming them, and trying to keep them alive while they inch along her arm, or leg, or even along her glasses.  They are her friends and anytime she finds one, she doesn't stop smiling.

I took the girls to an Anatomy seminar this morning.  It was very well done class conducted by a group of high school homeschoolers who had recently completed their Anatomy class.  I was quite impressed by their communication and presentation skills (just another notch in the homeschools are not anti-social column).  Sadie would not relent on her request to take a certain item home with her.  No one else in attendance requested anything, nor went home with any of the "props."  Actually, I should go ask her right now where the said item is...a pig's heart in a ziploc bag.  That is definitely one thing I don't want left in my car.  I have no idea what she is going to do with it.  Scary.

On a recent trip to Pawley's Island with friends, Ethan chose to dive into a hammock resting above a deck.  Not knowing the full measure of his strength, he overshot the entire hammock, landing full-force on his face.  Ouch!  Lovely scrape-type burn running form his forehead to below his mouth.  Other than that, it was a really delightful trip.  Well, Lily did run a fever for a couple of days.  I chalk that one up to my ridiculous kids who at 9 AM were chest-deep in the ocean. In the mid-Atlantic. In April.  Very cold.

Ethan is trying very hard to learn how to whistle.  Trying to teach someone to whistle ranks up there with teaching Passive English or Singing/Voice to those tone-deaf.  I keep trying to tell him where to place his tongue, where to position his teeth, cheeks, how to blow...and then, we heard it.  It was the slightest, faintest of chirps, but he did it.  His eyes grew about ten times, but he did not break the his mouth position.  Unfortunately, we did not hear it again on our ride home, but I am sure the practice has not ended.  He has wet his whistle!

Lily has been very funny with the one-liners lately.  For example, Ethan ended a little school relationship a couple of weeks ago.  When he announced it in the car, Lily piped up and went, "Womp, womp, womp.  Game over."  She is also getting very screechy and a little sassy, but that is for another blog entry.  She also loves playing with younger kids.  She does seem younger than her 7 years sometimes.  Academically, she is ahead of the game, but socially, she does not necessarily have street-smarts.  Of course, I shouldn't worry as she does have Sadie to teach her the ways.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Springtime Joy

It is springtime which is the signal of many things in the Dumoulin house - the start of our garden, the collection of many critters who now reside in our "backporch zoo," late dinners due to outdoor play, a desire for our typical routine and schedule to change. I am antsy for the school year to end which makes it doubly hard to hunker down and complete our daily academic tasks.
Sadie's make-shift reptile and insect zoo has come to life again, her various collection of old tupperware containers, aquarium tank, and even empty glass bottles scattered along the porch. Currently we have a worm snake, tadpoles, a large frog, and an Eastern Fence lizard.  Last night, I had to call her in from down the driveway.  She arrived red bucket in hand, muddy boots, her hair slightly matted to her head - a mixture of an earlier swim practice and sweat from her activity.  She arrived with a joy in her soul that there were an unbelievable amount of frogs and tadpoles down in the little water pools created from the recent rains.  How she loves to be in the world exploring.

For me the yard beckons to be tidied up from its winter doldrums.  The birds began chirping in early March and we have enjoyed watching and documenting the transient birds that make their way to our feeders and bird houses. Our little garden patch overgrown with weeds and a few leftovers from last season needs to be cleaned up and tilled.  I almost feel the outdoors whispering our names each day to abandon what keeps us inside and run carefree and wild in its offerings.  Hard to resist.

Chef Sadie

Sadie made her first casserole, Chicken Divan, completely from scratch last night. After reviewing the recipe and instructions with her, I went out side to muck some chicken coops. After an appropriate length of time had passed, she announced that it was in the oven. After finishing up our "farm duties" we went inside to eat dinner. I have to say that it was the BEST casserole I have ever had. I am not a huge fan of casseroles with all of their fatty creamy sauces.  Actually, I am a fan, but struggle knowing it is not often healthy.  Maybe I enjoyed the dinner because I did not have to cook it. Or, maybe it was that it came from Sadie's heart. 
She has always enjoyed messing around in the kitchen.  She easily whips up brownies, cookies, and cakes from mixes and can be found cooking eggs for her siblings on the weekends.  However, this was her first from scratch entree.  Boiling and cubing the chicken, cooking the broccoli, and mixing the remaining ingredients were part of this process.  She was pretty pleased at the way it turned out.  I enjoyed "discussing" the lessons learned while she cooked, like the fact that it seemed to have too much creamy goodness in it and how to remedy that.  I imagine it will not be the last dinner we enjoy by Chef Sadie.
We made the leap into the poultry world in November.  I have become...a chicken farmer.  The idea was to get 4-5 hens and maybe one rooster to learn about life, responsibility and for a little fun. It is not surprising that Sadie was the initiator of this adventure. As I type this we have about 40 chickens in our backyard.  Yes, 40!  I came home one Saturday afternoon in early January to the announcement by Jay and Sadie that we should expect 35 day-old chicks at the end of the month.  I was not a part of this decision, though I am certainly responsible for making sure they receive proper care.  I have learned not to be bitter about that fact. 

Honestly, it has been a great "hobby."  We have learned a tremendous amount about life - how it comes to be and how it can quickly and unexpectedly end, particularly with the loss of our sweet Iris.  We have learned a lot about how hard and time consuming farm life must be as we have only experienced it on a tiny level.  It takes about 2 hours to clean out and replenish the coops which we do weekly.  We also feed and water daily along with throwing out scraps, chicken grit, and occasional corn.  We have also learned about the intricacies of God's design in His creation. The process by which chicks are brought into this world is fascinating and it is amazing to me all of the pieces that come together to make it happen - daylight, temperature, timing.  Although this might sound a bit hokey, it is actually entertaining to watch the chickens when we have them free-ranging in the yard.  Some of them have distinct personalities like our group of Polish ladies who are always curious. Others, like our Silkies, who are sweet and docile, are not the smartest chickens on the block. It is pretty hilarious when one chicken finds a worm and all the rest go crazy trying to get it out of the mouth of the finder. 

Our current breed selection include:  Silkies (a chicken with black skin - google an image for a picture of the black skin.  It looks a little creepy), White and Silver-crested Polish chickens, Wyandottes, and Crevecoeurs.  We also have 4 Giants and 4 Red-Star Roosters.  We also have a "mystery" chicken that was sent to us as a bonus.  We think he is either a Americuana or a Buff-Laced Wyandotte.

We have names only for the Crevecoeurs (Bob and Brenda) because they were our first chickens and are endangered.  We also have a name for our Polish Rooster, Fred.  Fred has gone a little kooky since his original mate died and he had to be separated from Bob due to fighting.  His group of ladies are not quite old enough to be in his same coop, but I hope once they are, he will calm down.  Currently, he does a lot of prancing around and crowing and displays signs of haughtiness.  He still allows Sadie to pick him up and carry him around like a baby on his back, so at least no pecking has begun.
Lily likes to create these funny names for the chickens.  She has named one Mrs. High Places because she perched up on the highest corner of the coop.  Other chicken names include Florida and Dudlette Do-Wrong, Cooper (short for Coppernicus), and Bob Junior.

Only Brenda, our lone Crevecoeur, is laying.  The others should be ready in another month or so.  She lays about 1 a day.  We are letting her keep her eggs in hopes she will become broody and want to sit on them.  Time will tell.  Eventually, we should get about 20 or 30 eggs a day.  Our plan is to sell what we can and donate the rest to the Open Door Shelter.

On these warm spring evenings after Jay has returned home, we will get a drink and sit in some lawn chairs down by the coop watching our flock free-range around the yard.  There is a bizarre sense of peace down there amidst the clucking and cooing.  I never thought I would find contentment in that.

Images (top to bottom): Silver-crested Polish hen, White-crested Polish hen, Crevecoeur rooster, Silkies, Silver-laced Wyandotte