Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby Jesus' heavenly condo

Hanna: Did Baby Jesus die?
Me: Well, he did, but not when he was a baby, when he was a grown up man.
Hanna: No, Baby Jesus died.
Me: No, he was an adult, and then he rose to heaven.
Hanna: Is Baby Jesus in his condo right now?
Me: Condo? No, he's not in a condo.
Hanna: Didn't you know that heaven has condos?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Idiot's Cat Tale

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately, a recent wave of blog comment spam has been irritating me. That and sick kids. Kira was off school for more than a week with croup. Griffin started acting sick on Tuesday, his eyes were producing more snot than his nose! By Friday, the 2 girls and I took him into town to see the doctor, who pronounced that he had an ear infection, a sinus infection and even pneumonia. Hanna was just happy that Griff used up all of the appointment time and there was no chance for her to get her vaccinations. Then I picked up the boys from school and then we all came home. It was mayhem when we got here.

Here's the part where I feel like an idiot.

With the subzero temperatures we've been having lately, we've been bringing Wicket, the outdoor cat, indoors at night. When he wants in he puts his face against the window in our front entry. He always comes running to the door when we call him, even when he's over at the graveyard, he'll leave what he's doing and come. Better recall that most dogs I know (Puck, I know you always come EVENTUALLY, but Matt and I don't appreciate the extended early morning excursions). So early yesterday evening, when the snow was coming down sideways, I called him in. He didn't come. I asked Damon to try calling him. Nothing. We tried several times over the next few hours. Damon checked to see if he'd been locked into the goats' stall, the garage, the breezeway. I finally called the neighbour across the road to see if he had taken him in for us. "Haven't seen him. He'll be fine." Bedtime came, and still no Wicket.

When I woke up in the morning and he didn't have his face pressed against the window, I started to have a sinking feeling that something had happened to poor Wicket. On my way to tend to the goats and chickens, I checked the garage one last time and found that a chicken had strayed in and couldn't figure out that she couldn't get out through the window. When I was leaving the garage, I noticed something on the dashboard of my minivan. I looked over and there was Wicket, desperately trying to get my attention. I was relieved that he was okay, and even more miraculously, he hadn't used the interior of my van as a litterbox!


Friday, November 26, 2010

For Grandpa

Hanna: Mommy, I really want you to get a race car. Daddy can get one too.
Me: What would we do with race cars?
Hanna: You could race. When you are driving on the road, you could go faster than the other cars. You know, like Grandpa does.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Patrick!

Wow, that was quick. My firstborn turns 15 today. Sniff. Patrick is such an easy going guy, he's always been such a good kid. As he gets older, he makes us proud every day. He is smart and extremely compassionate. Sometimes I feel like he is my own Jiminy Cricket. And he's developed a great sense of wit.

His birthday began with a lot of pain (much the way my day began 15 years ago). He had a headache and sinus pain but he seems to be feeling better now. Still not much fun though. It is a night of hockey practices (practices for him, Campbell and dryland for Damon) so we won't have much time to have a meal together as a family so we are postponing his birthday dinner until tomorrow. I'll make him a little carrot cake with caramel drizzled over it, just so we have something to stick a candle in.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scenes from the barnyard

Dear old Penny, such a sweet quiet goat, so easy to take care of. See how fat and round her daughter have gotten. Thanks to Bernie's generous offerings of Swiss Chard and brussel sprouts, she has gained some weight too, but she is so saggy that the fat never covers her bones, and she just collects her fat around her belly and around her ribs. Gravity is not kind to goats either.

Of course what you won't see is what I missed when my camera battery died. The goat and the cat sniffed, then the cat rubbed his head against the goat's head. Typical of a cat. So then the goat did what is typical goat behaviour when something touches their head, headbutt it. Pop. Luckily Wicket is a pretty quick guy and mostly missed it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

This is a photo that I am guessing my great-grandfather sent to his future wife at home. On the reverse of this photo, it says,"Heavy Marching Order. We have to carry this outfit on Route Marches. It only weighs 65 pounds. Nothing when you get used to it. Taken after 20 mile route march."

The kids' school is doing a slideshow today, we had to submit photos of family who had served. Because we live in a community that is home to a military airbase, many of the children at the school submitted photos of their parents who are currently serving, and many had photos of generations of family members who have served. Damon really wanted to participate and since he has a newfound fascination with the history of WW1 and WW2 he wanted to show his family's participation in both of those wars, so he among many old military photographs chose this photo of my great-grandfather from WW1, and another one of 3 of my great-uncles, brothers (another of their brothers served in the marines and can be seen in a separate photograph)from WW2. Luckily all of these men returned safely, while others did not.

Late last week, I made a small donation at a store and picked up some poppies for the kids coats. Now keeping them on their coats is another story.

This morning, we had another chaotic morning of trying to get 4 of them (Hanna doesn't go to school today) out of the door to meet the bus at the end of our driveway by 7:20. Kira was up and ready with plenty of time. She went out and waited by the road with her older brothers. Griffin and I closed the door relieved that they had all made it to the bus in time. I turned my mind to changing Griffin's diaper. Then Kira came running up the driveway and knocked on the door. She was in a panic, "My poppy came off, I need to find it. It's Remembrance Day and Mrs. M told us we needed to remember our poppies." She ran around looking for it, while I went and grabbed the poppy from my own coat to put on hers. As this was happening, the bus arrived. The boys got on and with Kira running down the driveway the bus pulled away. One of the cars stopped behind the bus started honking it's horn, but the bus driver didn't notice and continued on. Kira came into the house with tears streaming down her face.

"This is the worst day EVER. It's Remembrance Day and I missed the bus," she wailed.

"I told her, it is a great day. It's Remembrance Day and YOU remembered to wear your poppy. I can drive you to school," I told her.

I started walking down the hall to get Griffin, Hanna and myself dressed for the drive into town, when somebody knocked on my door. When I open the door, it's Kira's adorable teacher, Mrs. M. She was the one honking her horn for the bus driver's attention. She offered to drive Kira to school. Kira adores this teacher, so I knew that she would love driving in to school with her. I explained that Kira was ready for school on time but had run back in to get her poppy. She laughed and said, "I have poppies to give out to all of the kids."

Kira hopped into the backseat of her teacher's car just beaming. I realize that now Kira's teacher (who I should note is a tiny adorable thing dressed up in heels and stylish business attire, a perfect makeup job and her long blonde hair has been styled in loose curls) has just seen me in my pyjamas, my hair to my waist hasn't been brushed and I've got a poopy baby on my hip. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Happy Birthday Hanna!

My sweet baby girl turned 4 today.

Hanna is growing up much too fast. For such a long time she seemed like the baby. Even after Griffin was born, she just seemed much more needy than him. I even worried that she might not be ready for school this past September. Even though she could write her own name, she wasn't toilet trained and couldn't put on her own shoes. That seemed to change overnight and suddenly she's an independent little girl. She is shy, but very bright and artistic girl. She loves to dance and draw and lately she has been a bit obsessed with letters and reading. She brought home her school photo a few days ago and immediately named every child in the photo and told me each of their first initials. "That's Karissa, and it is with a 'K' not a 'C'. And Bradley, he's got a 'B' and 'R' together, like 'br'."

Every year we ask the kids what they want to eat for their birthdays and they get to choose whether we eat at a restaurant or at home. Hanna was very specific this year. She wanted homemade macaroni with ketchup and a cake. And the cake was to be a chocolate cake in the shape of a heart with white icing and a rainbow on it. While she was out picking out a present with Grandpa, I iced the cake, with 3 very willing icing assistants.

She is going to have a friends' party another day, but she is having a hard time understanding that day is not the day of her birthday.

Kira could not stay out of the photos! She wanted to model one of Hanna's costumes.

I hope all your wishes come true!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Git it

Most of us expect dogs to be protectors of homes and families, and playmates to our children, now Puck goes over and above. He's taken on the role of mouser. Cold weather is creeping in, and a mouse must have come into our house yesterday for warmth and our elderly cat Charlie is no longer up to the task. Puck stalked it for hours. He was sniffing under the fridge and then he would go stand outside the kitchen door to wait for it to come out. He just caught it, killed it and brought it to us to put into the garbage. Protecting our kitchen from dirty little varmints. Good dog. Stay vigilant! Use your OCD powers for good, not evil. He did not sleep much last night. He kept having to leave his bed in my room to run into the kitchen to see if any mice had come in.

He was pretty proud of his kill, I should have taken a photo of him with it. But the disgusting factor of a mouse was too much for me. I face a lot of gross things, but the sight of a little mouse sends me jumping onto furniture. Next time. This is the second time he's caught a mouse. Last winter, Bella woke me up at 3:30 to go out. As we walked by the kitchen, a mouse scurried across the floor and Puck raced in and pounced on it, stunning it. He kept pawing it until it was dead. But that was more of a fluke, what impressed me this time is that he stalked the mouse for a long time before catching it.

With him patrolling the house and Wicket patrolling the garage and breezeway by night and barn by day, I'm hopeful we won't have any mice inside this winter.

"Relatively healthy peanut-free snack"

That was the request from Kira's teacher for their Halloween Party the next day. I wanted to come up with something both adorable and creepy, both delicious and nutritious, but my creativity was all used up trying to take care of 6 kids and our homestead while Matt has been working out of town. I briefly thought of making a fruit tray. I needed a comfort food with a reference to pumpkins and since one of the mom's from Campbell's hockey team recently dubbed me the Cookie Queen, I felt pressure to bake cookies. Maybe subconsciously I was trying to practice a recipe on the schoolkids before I presented it to the hockey parents. So I found and modified this recipe. I thought the cookies turned out wonderfully, soft and mildly flavoured. But I wasn't sure what the school kids would make of them. I think it worked, since 3 teachers sent me requests asking for the recipe. Here it is for the rest of you to try:

"Relatively healthy peanut-free snack" PUMPKIN COOKIES

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1 cup mashed pumpkin (After our dinner was finished, I cut a pie pumpkin in half, took out the shells and roasted it in the oven at 325 for 1 hour. If you don't want to do that, you can use canned pumpkin.)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease baking sheets.
COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.
BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
COMBINE glaze ingredients in small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Barnyard rebellion

We have been goat owners for about 14 months now. We have learned a lot, but we thought all of the stories we had heard about goats being trouble were just "romanticized" versions of life on a farm. Penny would just stand there watching us, and the girls were just playful little balls of fur, no trouble.

For the past couple of months, certain young hens have been flying the coop and invading goat territory. It started because they liked the sweet goat feed that would sometimes spill on the ground when the piggies, er I mean goats, were stuffing their faces. At first the goat girls would give them a little headbutt from time to time and the hens would all go back to their yard. Lately it has been getting worse and some days all 14 of our new hens would be in there (and even Sandy, the pesky little cockerel). None of the old hens were doing it though.

Well on Saturday the tables were turned. I looked up from the kitchen sink to see Daisy standing in the middle of the chicken yard. When I got outside I saw that Lily was there too. I'm trying not to anthropomorphize too much, but it felt like the goats were saying, "Lets see how you like us stealing your food and pooping in your yard!" I did a quick fence repair by hammering a few extra staples into the shared fence and attaching a piece of wood to the bottom to prevent them from going under. The next day, it was worse, all 3 goats were in there, even meek and mild old Penny. Damon thinks she only went in to scold her daughters.

Notice in the photo there are only 2 goats in the yard, that's when we figured out that a 100 lb goat squeezed into the chicken coop itself and were stealing grain. I brought my camera, but dropped it in the coop, losing all the batteries in the straw on the floor. By this time both girls were in the coop. I hung the feeder from the ceiling to keep it away from them while I tried to jam one stubborn and horned goat head through the 1 foot square door. While I was trying to shove her chubby body out, the other one opened up the can that we store the chicken feed in. Goats are so much smarter and stronger than chickens! Finally I managed to get them out of the coop and Damon got them through the fence.

Matt repaired their fence with many more staples and released them again. As soon as he let them out of their stall into their yard again, the first thing they did was tested his repair job. So far it's still holding.

As for the hens, there is one in the goat yard today. I hate to do it, but I may need to clip some wings around here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gobbled up

I just had to toot my own horn and mention that the turkey was AWESOME! It cooked faster than we had planned so I was worried that it was dried out, but it was still moist enough and probably the best tasting turkey I've had. He weighed about 25 lbs. Here's what we did with him.

Sunday - Roasted Turkey dinner with Moist Bread Stuffing, Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Baby Carrots, Roasted Squash, and Cranberries. Dessert was a choice of Pumpkin Pie with Whipped cream, or Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. Served 18.
Monday - Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast! For lunch, Cold Turkey sandwiches with Mayo, Salt and Pepper. Served 10. Made 4 litres of Turkey Stock with the carcass.
Tuesday - Open-faced Turkey Sandwiches with Hot Gravy, re-fried Mashed potatoes, and green peas. Served 8
Wednesday - Crockpot Turkey Stew with Dumplings. Served 8
Thursday - Lunch, leftover turkey stew with Dumplings. Served 3.

Now it's all gone. I have one more saved in my freezer, the rest have been traded or sold to pay for the cost of raising turkeys.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

There's a word for that...

After watching the turkeys in the yard, I think Ed should add a few more verses...

There's a word for that
What does it start with?
A word for that
I'd sound so smart if I only knew
The word for that
Perhaps you do?

snood [snuːd]
1. (Clothing & Fashion) a pouchlike hat, often of net, loosely holding a woman's hair at the back
2. (Clothing & Fashion) a headband, esp one formerly worn by young unmarried women in Scotland
3. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Veterinary Science) Vet science a long fleshy appendage that hangs over the upper beak of turkeys
(Clothing & Fashion) (tr) to hold (the hair) in a snood
[Old English snōd; of obscure origin]

Okay, use it in a sentence.

Within a few minutes a Turkey Tom transforms his snood from a nubby pink bit to a disgustingly dangly thing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

From the orchard

A nest is tightly wedged among the ripe apples

Based on the cherry pits inside, I am guessing that it belonged to one of the robins.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go to MEXICO!

SO COOL! It's a boy! Those black oval-shaped things on the lower wings are his "boy parts". They were both boys. We released them into the garden and Kira, Hanna and Griffin danced and sang, "Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go to Mexico!"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Waiting for wings!

Princess Flower

And Tiny

Do you see the changes from last week's photos? The pattern of monarch wings can be seen through the coccoon. It can't be too much longer...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Update on the girl's project

Today's the day. Last night we noticed that Princess Flower was on the lid of the bucket, Tiny was still busy eating. But throughout the day Tiny followed suit and attached himself to the ventilation screen on the lid.

Here's a close up of the tiny hairlike fibres that Tiny is attaching to the screen.
Now he's into position.

Time elapsed. Okay, really it is Princess Flower's coccoon (with Tiny getting ready in the background).

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Cat is out of the Bag, er the Barn.

Introducing the newest resident of our homestead....WICKET.

Wicket is a 1 year old neutered male long-haired black cat. He is very affectionate, but I've been told he's a stealth hunter too. He is our city-turned-country version of a barncat. He lived with a young family in the city, but he loves being outside. His second owner decided that her home was too close to a busy road and he refused to stay in her house.

We picked him up a week and a half ago. Today was his first day outside and he has been wonderful all day. Every time one of us goes outside, he comes running over to rub against our legs. He even rubs against the dogs legs. And a few of the young pullets have hopped out of their yard and are running loose and he hasn't shown any signs of hunting them. He is still afraid of the goats, but he is getting used to the turkeys.

He's still settling in, but so far things are going great.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Something the girlies are doing right now...

The is our second experience of hatching a monarch butterfly. The first time we hatched "Queenie" and released her the day we got home from Wawa. We have grown milkweed in our front garden to attract butterflies there (there are millions of milkweed plants growing out back). We collected 2 leaves with tiny white eggs and within a few days these little caterpillars emerged. The girls feed "Princess Flower" and "Tiny" fresh milkweed leaves every day.

The night before we left for Wawa, I watched a beautiful movie called "Four Wings and a Prayer" about the life of Monarch Butterflies. We thought it was kind of cool to be witnessing "Queenie" and her transformation, but after seeing this movie, the experience took on even more meaning.

Stay tuned for updates...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In the neighbourhood

While we were away on vacation, Patrick's friend's grandfather left a message on our machine. He told us that he had a new foal and he wanted to know if the kids wanted to come and see him. Redundant question. So we called him back and after lunch we got in the car and headed over (He lives 2 roads over from us). These are Haflingers that are trained to pull wagons. G uses them in parades, and gives rides either for free or he sometimes does it as a fundraiser for charities. Earlier in the summer, G was nice enough to take us out in a wagon pulled by 2 of his other haflingers.

The girls picked weed flowers and put them in the colt's halter.

Griffin had no fear. After looking at the mare and colt, we went to the cattle barn, where G has retired dairy cows on one side and beef cattle on the other side. Griffin tried to climb in with them. He had his hand outreached to them to pet them and he was so disappointed when they backed away from him. G grabbed a dairy cow and brought her close enough for him to pet and he was happy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


On the road to Steep Hill Falls in Wawa, we saw this young bear.

He continued to eat for a few minues.

Finally he decided to head for the trees.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oatmeal Apple Crisp

I am here at the cottage. When we come up here, we usually bring lots of early apples from our trees. We give some away to people we know, the kids eat a bunch of them on the drive down, but inevitably we end up with extra apples that start to go bad by the second week here. I use a few different recipes for Apple Crisp, and tonight I used the following version and it was scrumptious. Good comfort food on a foggy day.

I don't have a copy of it at home, so I thought I would post it here so I don't ever lose it again. I can always search for it.

Oatmeal Apple Crisp
Serves 8 (I make a double recipe as we have usually have 10 or more to feed)

1 cup Oatmeal
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

Apple Mixture
5 peeled and sliced large cooking apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Topping: In bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in melted butter until crumbly. Set aside.

Apple Mixture: Place apples, in greased 9 inch (2L) square pan (When I double it, I use a 9X13 casserole). Sprinkle lemon juice and brown sugar.

Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over apples.

Bake 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown.

Tonight I made this before we started cooking dinner. I turned off the oven and left the dish in the oven while we made and ate dinner. We served each piece with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yummy.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Like bumps on a log

I love this photo. We are on vacation in Wawa. The kids are having a great time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Farewell Brownie

I'm very sorry for what happened to you. I feel partially responsible, but I really thought that giving you to the neighbour was the best thing for you. I was worried about a coyote getting you in my yard, I really didn't expect that the neighbour's chickens would do that to you. If I knew they were capable of that I would have let you stay here. I'm still not sure how we will tell Kira. She loved you very much and she didn't want to let you go to the neighbours, I convinced her that it was the best thing for you. We will do everything we can to take care of Sandy for you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New favourite expression

Griffin has recently started making this face when something displeases him. Sometimes he even crosses his arms in front of him. He's turning into such a toddler. I just want to scoop him up and hug him when I see him do it.