Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chicken Whisperer and Other Rural Legends

This past week . . .
We learned that DD has a special gift of speaking to the hens in their favorite language: popcorn and Ritz Crackers.

I can actually use power tools without my husband present. Brett started this deck project last week and I finished it (well, almost - - DH has to put the face pieces on).

North porch before:

North porch after:

I have WAY too much garden space (6000 s.f.) to maintain this summer:

Dead trees make great logs for fun summer bonfires:

The miracle of spring is a gift from God:

My little girl is growing up too fast. We "experimented" with the training wheel's on her bike and got some great results. That night, DD dreamed that she got on her bike all by herself and rode without our help...she couldn't tell if it was real or not.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Very Happy Easter, Indeed

Friday was the day to decorate Easter eggs. This was all DH's idea - - I tend to get a little uptight about the dye spilling and staining the table, stained hands for Easter, etc. DH is much more adventurous and lets DD help with almost every project (using the power screwdriver, helping cut up apple slices, and so on). He keeps a very watchful eye, mind you, but I simply have to leave the room.
Yes, that's the chicken hat that Cousin Angie gave DD last weekend...too cute!

The eggs looked a little different this year since we used our own brown eggs instead of store bought white eggs. Still very lovely...

My mom was over and we sat outside enjoying the perfect, sunny, calm, warm weather.

Saturday was windy, but we still ventured out for a motorcycle ride with some friends. We ended up at my favorite Mexican restaurant for a couple Modelo Especiales accompanied by authentic & delicious food. Had a blast and the weather held out . . .

. . . until Saturday night when the wind threatened to blow everything to bits. We have never had that kind of wind out there! We went to the basement about 2:30 am. We lost some shingles and small branches; the wind was so strong that it pushed our big gas grill across the patio and tore the skin off the back storm door!

Sunday morning began with the sewer backing up into the basement, causing a few tense moments in our household. DH's wisdom and skill saved the day when he quickly discovered the clog in the clean out trap. In order to get DD ready for church and a nice Easter dinner on the table by 12:30, however, I stayed home from church. DD looked adorable in her new outfit:

I was still able to listen to a beautiful church service on the radio as I prepared a 15 lb turkey, mashed potato bake, corn casserole, rolls, a strawberry shortcake dessert, and set the table.

My great-grandmother's china on an antique damask table cloth:

My mom and grandma G were our guests and we enjoyed a very nice dinner. Grandma stayed for a few hours and we talked over tea. DH took a well-deserved rest and I made DD's birthday invitations. The weekend was topped off with cold turkey sandwiches (yum!), Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover, and Desperate Housewives (my guilty pleasure).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What the . . . ?!

Last night, I pulled in the driveway to discover three hens happily pecking in the grass outside of the chicken tractor! I was a bit nervous that there were only three - - what happened to the other three. DH's truck was also in the driveway, but where was he and DD? I was truly in a state of terror. I looked inside the henhouse to discover the other three safely inside . . . so . . . how did the other three get out?

DD runs outside and breathlessly tells me that when she and DH got home, they were all out and that the door to the henhouse was wide open.

Me: "Okay . . . where's your Dad?!" The only thing I could think of at that point was that he was lying on the ground somewhere in the cornfield or tree line dying of a heart attack from chasing chickens.

DD: "Oh, Dad's inside making spaghetti..."

Me: "Okay . . ."

DH then saunters outside and the three of us quickly corral the three deviant hens and I breathe a BIG sigh of relief. Not sure how long they had been out, but they seemed to survive just fine. DH then emerges from the garage with some power tools to "fix that !@#$% door." Problem solved.

We had a lovely Sunday evening with friends over to work on some Praise Group plans and a Mother's Day power point presentation. The kids had a ball running around outside (complete with six adults chasing one poor hen that escaped).

This picture is worth a thousand words about the value of living in the country:

On Sunday afternoon, Cousin Angie came out to visit and she brought DD two crazy chicken hats and egg-shaped chalk. I took a couple pictures only to discover that I didn't have the card in the camera (duh!). Angie really got into the whole thing and wore the hat while DD showed her around the farm and the house. Too cute!

Life is good. God is good.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hakuna Matata

I took my mom & DD to the Lion King at the Des Moines Civic Center last night - - it was fantastic. We were in the second row and got "up close and personal" with some of the performers. I'm a pretty conservative gal and wouldn't normally spend that kind of money on a "cheesy show", but it was worth every penny!

My mom & DD ham it up before heading into the show:
Today is DD's Kindergarten round up . . . my baby is going to school in the fall! She was very excited and ready to go, despite getting home at midnight last night.

Loud thunderboomers and rain at Gracious Acres this morning. The hens don't mind, of course - - more worms to eat!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Happy Chickens, Happy Farmgirl

I came home after a meeting last night to discover that my DH had built this amazing chicken tractor! We have been lamenting about how quickly the six hens were tearing up the yard, but we are fearful that if we let them free range, the cats will surely get them (the cats routinely enjoy pheasant for dinner). So, hubby to the rescue again!

The "tractor" measures 8' x 10' and is open on the bottom, so the chickens can "free range" in peace. Plus, it is light/easy enough to move it around each day, so we can drag it to the garden to build soil, or to a spot under the apple tree in the late fall to give them a real treat. Thanks, DH!

Now if I can just get the chickens to stop packing sawdust in their waterer!

Monday, April 03, 2006


Thanks for all the nice comments on my b'day post and seedling advice. I had a wonderful birthday - lunch with a friend at a fabulous Mexican restaurant and dinner with DD and DH at the local (and my favorite) steakhouse. The next day, however, I was flat on my back with a horrible cold. The kind of sickness where you can't even get out of your pj's. Yes, I did chicken chores in my pj's (twice).

Was feeling a little better on Saturday, so we went to a couple fireplace stores and are now the proud owners of a Quadrafire corn-burning stove.
We played a big joke on DD for April Fool's Day. I painted pink, purple, green & blue polkadots on a white hardboiled egg and put it in the nest box. When DD and I went out to get the eggs, she was so excited about her "unique" egg and we spent several perplexing hours trying to determine which chicken could lay such an egg. Finally, I told her it was an April Fool joke - - she was NOT happy. She thought it was the worst April Fool's Day joke ever and once again, I was "bad Mommy." Oh well . . . the kid has GOT to learn to take a joke.

On Sunday, the community youth group held an omelet brunch with silent and live auction. Our friends, Nile & Gloria, gave DD $26 to bid on anything she wanted. She proudly purchased a strawberry cream pie; she held up her little fist full of money and really got into it. So, we invited Nile & Glo over for dinner to celebrate (and share the pie).
We also had a visit from a French PhD student at Iowa State University. Neighbor Laura and I met her at the Farm Bill forum last week and she came up here to tour Laura's farm and then stopped by our place on her way home. She was a lovely woman who seemed genuinely interested in Gracious Acres. She showed us pictures of her beautiful farm in southwest France - - it was just as I had imagined it! An old stone two-story house with fabulous gardens and picturesque scenery . . . when can I come visit?!

By the way, does anyone know what these things are? Farmer Don brought two of these over and I have no clue what to do with them . . .