Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Time Doesn't Wait for Keeps on Rollin'"

So...It's been a good, long time since I've posted a blog. I'm not 100% sure why I haven't posted in the last 2 months or so....lots of reasons, maybe...but anyways...I figured that from here on out I'd at least put up 1 blog a month....even just for me and a time-line of sorts. I'm not sure that I've got anything of consequence to say...I really just enjoy looking back on years past and seeing where life was at during a certain month or moment...seeing how little Gavin was during a garden post in 2010 or revisiting Ivy's first birthday. I dig that. I have decided that I will try to at least post a monthly "scrapbook" blog of our family's going's on....It's mostly for me and mine, but please feel free to enjoy life along with us. Here's what I've got in this installment:
Chrissy and the kids went down to New Jersey for a few days. Gavin spent the afternoon in pop-pop's kayak tooling around the creek in Deptford, NJ.
Our seeds have germinated and are starting to fill out. Gavin is keeping his own garden this year. This is his row of lettuce. Should be ready to eat in 3 weeks or so.
We keep an asparagus patch...the nice part of that (besides it being a perennial and requiring almost no work) is that it pays off in EARLY Spring. We're harvesting about this much every 2-3 days:
Chrissy went to yoga class and the kids and I hung out on the deck. They made a "nest" for themselves under the slide. Too cute.
Our strawberries are looking great. Lots of our other fruit trees are looking good as well....peaches, apples, nectarines, blueberries, cherries. We're hoping for a nice, big harvest this season.
The kids hanging inside the blackberry arbor.
We finished our chicken coop a few weeks ago. Here's our girls "expressing their chicken-ness" on their roosts...there may be a rooster or two in our midst, however.
case in point. Alright...that pretty much brings us up to speed on the going's on around here. Thanks for reading. Hope you are all having stellar Spring seasons. Here's hoping for a fruitful Summer harvest and some great memories with our families. God Bless.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Small Shifts and Poultry Progress

I make up words for things in my brain...or use words in unconventional contexts. Ivy does the same thing. If she's sitting by the fire, she doesn't feel the "warmth"...she feels the "heatness". One word that comes up in my mind this time of year is "shift" in "The Shift". To me, The Shift is that time when Winter is finally transitioning out, the ground is starting to thaw, patches of new green start to appear, the ice on the pond has melted and you catch a glimpse of an occasional ripple as a fish makes a quick turn near the surface. Normally, around here, Winter is a VERY long season. As that temperature drops in start to batten down the hatches; put the lawn furniture away, pull the boats up out of the water, tune up the snow blower. Then it's almost 5 full months of very cold and very snowy. We like to be outside quite a bit in the Winter but with little ones, it sometimes gets know the drill...spend 45 minutes layering them up with warm clothes only to get 10 minutes outside before a face plant or tumble sends snow where it shouldn't be. I dig Winter...but I LOVE the shift...that means, boating, fishing, gardening, outdoor living is right around the corner.
This year's "shift" was hardly one at all. We experienced the 4th mildest Winter on record here and got to spend a great deal of time outside all season. It is still nice to think about Spring and all the outdoor stuff that goes with it. It's been in the upper 60's this week and we've been talking full advantage of this gorgeous weather. I'll show you...but first....

Chicken Update!
The girls have just about tripled in size since we got them. They are two weeks old now and all of them have their wing feathers and most of their tail feathers in:

They are still cute...but it won't be long until they hit that gawky, feather-ruffled, necks-a-little-too-long-for-their-tiny-head stage...the "teenage" phase as it's known in chicken raising. I'm still anticipating one or two of them to be a rooster..we'll see.
Well...being that the ground is thawed, work began on their coop:

My pops (Pa, as he's known to his grand kids) has been designing and mainly working on this baby. We're thinking it's gonna look pretty cool as it comes together.

So today, after work, I got changed and in about 2 minutes was outside with the fam working in the yard. There's some work that needs doing on our gardens so we started on that. We had dinner...then right back outside. I took the kids for a sunset ride in the boat:

with snacks:

and swans:

We even managed to do the thing that spawned this blog's name:

We found the Blue Heron (this was the best shot I could manage as I fumbled in my pocket for the camera while it was flying away from me.

After we docked, we had 15-20 more minutes of daylight. Gavin decided to "reward the day with a little fishin'" as we've been known to say around here:

While Ivy and I played catch with her new junky frisbee-thing:

Ivy insisted on bringing the frisbee back in her mouth. It wasn't until 5 or 6 tosses in that I realized that what I was doing wasn't playing "catch"...

I was playing "fetch".

Which sort of works...cuz I've never had a dog.

Not a bad Tuesday.

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day. - Genesis 1:11-13

I love that part.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What are you, Chicken?

So...beyond Gavin learning to ride a two-wheeler and Ivy learning to cruise on the Strider bike, Some other cool progressions have been shaping up around here. I've started playing music in a "band" again, actually it's more like a quartet (and and occasionally a sextet)....My friend Andy, his wife, Maureen, Chrissy, and I have established this little bluegrass collective that we call The Grape Pickers. Gavin will sometimes break out his collection of harmonicas and rip a few notes while Ivy goes crazy with a shaker or tambourine (that's the sextet). We have 1 legit gig so far, in late August. More to come on that as it gets closer. In other news...this year, we will be drip irrigating our gardens from collected rainwater, something we've been talking about for a few seasons. Additionally, garden-wise, we are expanding our gardens a bit and starting an informal gardening co-op with two families and a young man from church. We've always harvested more than we use, and have given away bushels of produce to friends, family, and causes. We'll still be able to do that, while adding to it the pleasure of getting to garden along-side some our dearest friends as we work together to bring forth a harvest. This also is something that has been in my head and heart for some time, it was just never the Lord's timing for it...until now.

Now, all of that is big news (at least for us)...but the biggest (and cutest) news of all is that we are now raising chickens!! We got ourselves a nice little collection of Rhode Island Red hens who will be giving us delicious, home-grown, eggs by late Summer. We are so excited about this. Right now they are 1 week old chicks living in a brooder in our home school room.

A quick story about that:

I knew the chicks would be arriving soon, so last week, I picked up all the equipment that I would need: pine shavings, feed and feeder, water fount, heat lamp, thermometer...all I had left to buy was the actual container for the brooder. Now...people use all kinds of home made contraptions as a brooder: kiddie pools, cardboard boxes, Rubbermaid totes...I guess that would be pretty cost effective but...I wanted something that looked kind of slick and "farmy"...I decided to use a galvanized stock tank...the setup looked like this:

Notice at the feeder is Gavin's wind up toy chick....hey, we wanted a visual here...just until the real peepers arrived. 2 days later, our girls were home and now our brooder looked like this:

Pretty much the cutest things in the universe, right?

We got to naming a few of them: Chatty Baby, Little Jerry, Pickle, Marilyn 1, Marilyn 2...i think that's as far as we got. We spent the first few days down there just about all the time. Gavin got really good at handling them. I've read that if your chicks are consistently and lovingly handled early on that they will be more docile as they grow up. Not sure if that's true but...we'll find out, I guess. So after 2 days, we noticed some things. First, baby chicks grow FAST. I mean, these things nearly doubled in size in 48 hours. Second, their wing feathers were starting to come in:

It's unreal watching them grow. It's like watching your kids grow up, only 10 times as fast. Our friends, the Corbett's, came over that night and my buddy Andy says "So, how long before they can hop out of the tank, a week?"


6 days. all honesty, one didn't jump out of the tank but, as I was sitting there watching them scamper around, a few of them COULD have jumped out if they timed their jumps right. That's just about the last thing on earth that I need....I pictured Chrissy calling me at work, kids SCREAMING crying in sorrow in the background, as she tells me that 3 chicks were missing. No way, man.

Well, that night, the brooder looked like this:

After harvesting the screens from the basement windows and laying them across the top of the brooder, I knew that I had made a rookie mistake...I bought a tank that was too shallow. Now, I figured that I could bungee cord some flexible fencing or chicken wire around the thing to build up the sides...but then it would look all ghetto...I knew what I had to do. I took back the 44 gallon stock tank and exchanged it for the 169 gallon stock tank! Tonight...the brooder looks like this:

Now we're talkin'. a full foot deeper, 4 more square feet of running room...I'm able to suspend the feeder (although I did settle on a home-made, ghetto-looking bar made of scrap wood, drywall screws, and some random brackets). I must say...I'm much happier (and so are the girls).

The coop will be ready in a few weeks and by late April, the hens will be ready to move outside. If they keep growing at the rate they are, they ought to be about 75 lbs. each by then. here's some random chick pics:

Ivy learning some "mothering" skills

Gavin learning some "Don't always be a complete spaz" skills (kidding...LOVE this kid).

Nose to beak

oh yeah...

...they also have tail-feathers, now.
*sniff*...they grow up so fast....*sniff*

Friday, February 10, 2012

No Happened: kid's rolling on a 2 wheeler. And I gotta say...he isn't just teetering around on the thing....he's ripping it LIKE A BOSS. Since we've had no snow and clear roads all Winter...the biking season has pretty much carried right through from Autumn. That was all the extra time that the kid needed to turn into Speed Racer on his rusty 2-wheeler. I'm dumbfounded.

One of the pinnacle moments of that after-school specials and made-for-TV movies have shown to be an absolute certainty, is the dad.....running behind the 2 wheeler with his hand on the back of the seat...teaching their child about balance. over and over and over....until...finally....the child FINALLY gets it and wobbles him/herself a couple of yards while the dad gives chase in super-slo motion with arms raised towards the sky in triumph...right before the kid runs into a mailbox.


Didn't get any of that.

4 steps.

That's what I got.
4 steps.

That's all it took.

Then he was OFF.

No looking back.

I blame this:

The Strider Bike (Since the boy is now rolling big time, Ivy inherited this hog). The idea is that it makes a kid learn all about balance but has no's like a mutant scooter, the crazy thing is that it teaches kids balance at like an insanely early age...which, once they get that down, is apparently super-easy to add pedaling into the mix and, BAM...they are rocking a legit 2 wheeler. See for yourself:

For most kids under 4, they aren't given an opportunity to learn about vehicular balance before actually trying to ride a 2-wheeler...that's why it's usually such a chore when they finally get the training wheels off. This little gem allows a super young kid to get the idea of balance first...then eventually add in the element of pedaling....often without even the transition of training wheels. I gotta tell you....this balance bike turns kids into bicycle ninjas. It's unreal how quickly Gavin took to a 2-wheeler pedal bike after riding this baby for 6 months or so.

Ivy's got it now...and I wouldn't be surprised if she was on a pedal bike by her 3rd birthday. No pressure but, at any rate...we've been having a blast tooling up and down the neighborhood on our hogs. Here's proof:

It's crazy-amazing to watch your children's world get bigger. They learn to roll over, suddenly their world gets bigger by a blanket. They learn to crawl, suddenly their world gets bigger by a room. They learn to walk, suddenly their world gets bigger by a house. They learn to speak, suddenly their world gets bigger by words. They learn to ride a two-wheeler, suddenly their world gets bigger by:

Part of me wants to say: "Get back here!! You're still so little".

But there's that other part of me...that part that I know that I have to embrace that's screaming "GO MAN, GO!!".

Ride, Captain, Ride.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Back Where It Belongs

So...there's been something of a blog hiatus since about Christmas over here. Part of which is that there hasn't been much going on over these parts. I could have posted about all of our families exploits sledding, skating, making snow forts, braving the Winter Weather except that....there hasn't been any. This is, by far, the mildest Winter that I can recall. Our pond is completely clear of fact, we even fed bread to fish off our dock yesterday. It's almost time to string up the fishing poles and till the garden...VERY uncharacteristic for this time of year in New England.
That sounds good and all but, the main reason that I haven't been posting anything is....well....The Patriots. Yeah...I'll blame the Patriots. Specifically, what the Patriots Playoff run brought me to do. **cue Sinister Music**...Dun Dun DUUUNNNN!!!!

We plugged in the TV.

Yup. The ole' "Time Sucker" herself.

It started with a few weeks to go in the Pats season (and right around New Years...what to watch a half-dead Dick Clark desperatly cue the ball to drop and all)
At any rate...The original plan was to only bring up the TV for game days but, after a long Monday at work...what would I rather do? Haul the ole' girl down to the basement again, or check to see if there's a new episode of "American Pickers" on?

Hours led to days, days led to weeks, weeks to a month or so. There it sat in our Sunroom. The 32' behemouth. The Monolith. Staring at me like the Eye of Sauron....beckoning...."turn me on....turn me on....turn me ON". You may think that i'm being overly dramatic but, for a family that routinely watched VERY little tv....with this thing plugged and waiting to be was like staring down Clint freaking Eastwood....the thing just kept daring me...."Do you feel lucky, punk?"...and often I did.

For the past 5 weeks or so....the tube was the central figure in our sunroom. We kept it off, for the most part, while the kids were awake but, after snack, stories, prayers, and better believe that baby came on in record time. American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Planet Earth, That show with the British lady who tells parents about the trolls their kids have become, that show with the dude with the spikey blonde hair who goes to diners and stains his shirt telling us how unreal their corned beef is...I watched it all.

Well...This past Sunday, The Patriots laid an egg (again) and....enough was enough. It was time to relegate the 32' weapon of mass distraction back to it's rightful place:

Crammed between some totes and the wall in our basement. I gotta tell ya....I love T.V. LOVE T.V. i grew up in a home where the TV was on pretty much all waking hours (with loving parents, mind you....just lots of M*A*S*H* and The People's Court as well). it certainly is a sacrifice to go without it but....after a month or so...the time that is redeemed is wonderful, especially in a home with young children.
I know that I've posted this verse here before of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is Ephesians 5: 15-16:

" See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

It was a fun distraction, having the TV upstairs this past season...It was also stifling. In the few short days that "The Beast" has been put away, I've spent so much time growing...spending more time talking with Chrissy, reading just about everything there is to know about hunting/harvesting/field dressing deer, planning out this years garden, learning some cool Bluegrass scales and's amazing, the time that you find, when you are not tied to That Box.

i walked around my home tonight, thankful for the conviction of The Lord in putting that thing away...I was blessed with scenes like these:

My boy, sitting quietly in his room, poring over books (what you can't see is that He was also listening to The Bible on CD).

My girls making Pizza crusts.

That's the soundtrack to our home.....not some Platinum-Haired Doofus telling me how great the Shepherd's Pie is.

I gotta keep this in prayer, though...cuz...the Olympics are coming up in the Summer...and I love me some High Dive.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under he heaven."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wakey Wakey, Eggs and Bacey

Been on a bit of a blog hiatus. I'll be back next week with some new ramblings. Just a quick state of the family: Everyone's healthy, everyone's happy (most of the time) Until next week, I'll leave you with:

Rosie The Snowman (Snowwoman) Y'all!! (yes, those are red and blue milk caps).

Another 4-7" coming tomorrow. It's about time.

Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gavinism...5 Year Old Edition

The bottom line is...the kid comes up with some real gems....I'm reserving this space for the absolute best of the best. One of which occurred tonight. Let me set the stage....
We just said goodbye to a bunch of Chrissy's family: her mom, older sister, niece, twin sister, and 2 nephews who came up to visit the day after Christmas and spend a few days to celebrate Gavin's birthday (yesterday, the 27th.)...we just got done reading his bedtime books, brushed teeth, and were getting ready to say goodnight prayers when he and I had the following exchange:

Me: "Well, was the first full day of you being 5 years old, how did it feel?"

Gavin: "Well, I know that I'm getting older because the segments of my fingers are bigger. You see this segment here? (pointing to the top part of his finger where the fingernail is), used be down here....and you see this segment here? (pointing to the next knuckle down) used to be way down pinky finger is fatter than it used to be".

Me: "'s great man...let's say prayers."

The kid's something else. So's the girl...I may have to start an "Ivyism" tag...she's getting there. Throughout this weekend, she had multiple any given moment she could have been Ivy, or Mary, or King David, or Joseph, or baby Jesus....It was kind of touch-and-go for a'd have to figure our who she was or be forced to endure correction (by a 2 year old, I may add).

God Bless us, everyone.

I still can't believe my man turned 5 this week:



Keep going strong, big man...the Lord's got mighty things in store for you. But enjoy your ice cream first.

Christmas post and Relatives visit coming soon.