Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Friday, March 30

did you miss me?

Wait...no need to answer that...maybe I don't want to know!

Let me tell you where I've been.

On March 15 thunderstorms and lightning rolled through in the night. Storms that rattled us from a nice, cozy slumber. Storms that brought cracks of thunder and flashes of lightning way too close for my comfort level.

We woke up to find that all was well outside...the tall pines, maples, and oaks that surround our old home had held on tightly and stood strong through the night. However; our quick "What's going on in the world this morning?" computer check, found that the storms did quite a Texas Two-Step with our computer and printer...even though they were "safely" plugged into a surge protector.

Alas...for a girl who loves simple, old-fashioned ways, I've certainly missed our computer! And while we're just now getting plugged back into the world, I dread the task of trying to transfer files from our backup to the new pc. I am grateful; however, that files, photos, and "must-haves" were able to be saved for us to restore.

And so you ask, what have I been doing while unconnected to the world? Well, spring cleaning is
in full swing (I firmly believe that toys and dust bunnies multiply) and with days that have brought temperatures in the 80's, a little outdoor sprucing up has been going on as well. I'm hanging sheets on the clothesline...oh how sweet they smell, and making garden plans. When it's this warm, I'm so tempted to plant flowers and veggies early, but those temps in the 80's aren't common for us in March, and twice this week we've covered fruit trees when frost warnings were issued.

And so I'm happy to be back to "normal" and will sign off by sharing a few glimpses of spring
as she's arrived at our farm.

I hope wherever you are, all is well!

Monday, March 12

spring cleaning the coop...

It's been almost a year since six delightful chicks came to live with us...

Henrietta, Hermione, Spotty, Alex, Cinnamon, and Hershey have brought us lots of smiles and certainly lots of eggs! I'm no expert on chicken breeds, but I have to say ours were generous with their eggs while the days of winter were short. Our hens are Tetra Tint (a mix between Red Sussex and Leghorn breeds) and Golden Comet and we couldn't be happier with them.

It was my intent to give the girls the winter off...no lights were in the coop to trigger continued laying. In spite of that, most days we gathered 6 eggs, with our lowest count being 4, while our highest count was 12, but that's a post for another day! 

And so as Saturday began blue-skied and cloudless with a temperature in the 60's, it was the perfect day to clean out the coop after a long winter. The girls enjoyed stretching their legs while we got to work, and in no time at all the coop was fresh & clean...yay! I'm sure the girls are happy and so am I! So, just in case it might be helpful to new chicken owners, I thought I'd post our spring cleaning schedule. 

spring cleaning the coop...

~let the girls out of the coop...close the run door to keep them outside 

~open windows to let in fresh air, remove feeders and waterer, gather eggs

~lay a tarp outside the coop door (You could set a wheelbarrow to catch old bedding, but because we used the deep litter method for winter (meaning the bedding was up to 10 inches deep) there was a lot to remove, and laying out a tarp was our best choice.)

~using a rake, remove all bedding material, empty nest boxes, and clean the roost with a wire brush

~once bedding is removed, broom out any cobwebs, dust, or remaining shavings from the corners

~disinfect coop surfaces with a mixture of 1:10 bleach and water. A spray bottle makes it easy to apply to all surfaces...let them dry completely

~check coop for any roof leaks, drafts, and see that all D-clamps and square lock pins on nest boxes and doors are secure. Are the windows in working order and does the roost need repaired?

~we placed a remnant of vinyl flooring over our coop's wooden floor...it not only keeps the wood underneath dry which will make it last longer, but makes cleaning much easier. The flooring is pulled out, scrubbed and mopped, then allowed to dry. (Vinyl flooring is for adult hens only and not a good choice for young chicks...they can easily slip on it.)

~once everything is thoroughly dry, replace vinyl flooring, top with fresh bedding, and fill nest boxes

~feeders and waterer are cleaned, then reattached to S-hooks on chains (they should hang level to the hens' backs)

~give the run a once-over and look for any signs of outside digging, bent or broken wire,
or general wear & tear

I hope this helps...and if you're thinking about getting chickens, I can't say enough how much fun we've had this past year...their chatting, squawking, chicken races, and soft nighttime clucking has given us hours of entertainment. And going out to the backyard to gather eggs for a family meal...what could be fresher?

Thursday, March 8

simple joys for March...

...if they're not already springing up in your gardens, stop at the flower shop and bring home a big bunch of tulips, daffodils, or hyacinths.

...don't forget to celebrate St. Patrick's day on March 17th. We'll be eating green eggs & ham for breakfast and wearing green from head-to-toe. I plan to whip up a traditional dinner of corned beef & cabbage, Irish soda bread, and colcannon. A quick visit to the library for some Irish music cd's and we're set for the day!

...take a walk outside when the sky is dark and the stars are brightest. Where we live, we can now see a beautiful night sky with Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter clearly visible. Later on this month,
Saturn will join them.

...now's the time for some spring cleaning, so let's get to it! Tie on your prettiest apron, turn up the music,
and dust those winter cobwebs away!

...try planting grass seed in an Easter basket...it's so easy. Simply line a basket with a plastic liner, add potting soil, then sprinkle on grass seed.Top with a bit more soil, pat down gently, then water well. When the grass begins to grow, keep the basket in a warm, sunny spot and continue to water. When Easter's here, tuck in some colorful eggs and chocolates...what a sweet gift for a friend!

...merry March winds are perfect for kite flying...be a kid again and launch a kite high!

Daffodils are popping up, puddles are everywhere, and sure enough, there's the hint of a gentle, green spring about to arrive. Outside we hear the chattering of small birds, feel a brisk wind, and enjoy a hint now and then of a mellow sun...yes, winter is almost past.

Thursday, March 1

a sugar house visit...

Last night Little Man and his Cub Scout pack took a trip to a nearby sugar house. It was a wonderful experience for them...as well as the adults!

As soon as we arrived we were surrounded by the sweet scent of maple syrup in the air. It was a bit chilly outside, so the warmth of the sugar house was welcome.

A step inside found us surrounded by equipment which was hard at work. The family was boiling sap which gave the boys an opportunity to learn about the process from beginning to end.

 This particular family business taps 5,600 maple trees and averages about 2,000 gallons of syrup.

And yes, samples were generously shared...the syrup was wonderful! Even though this picture is somewhat blurry, I still like it. It shows just how quickly it was necessary to pour to keep up with eager boys
(okay, and adults) wanting a taste!

It was a great evening and I left wondering if now making maple syrup should be added to my ever-growing wish list? Hmmm, maybe a trip into the woods to see how many maples I can find. A bold adventure...after all, it takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup!

I can't tell you how amazing the flavor of freshly-made, warm maple syrup was (and when I say fresh, I mean taken from the spout!) 

Yep...waffles and syrup are definitely on the menu this weekend!

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