Note to Self: Don’t Be Stupid

June 10th, 2014

Remember I told you bears took out our bird feeders about 9 years ago? Well, they surely did. And Bernie and I agreed that bird feeders are not a good idea out here.

But we had an especially brutal winter this year, so I decided since it had been a while since we’d had any bear issues, it was safe to put out our bird feeders once again.

I should have known better.

Sunday morning Bernie took the pups out to potty about 6AM. And when he came back inside he informed me a bear was interested in my bird feeders, too.

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Apparently, he was especially interested in the fruit and nut mixture.

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And especially liked the suet that was hanging from these mangled hooks – one of which we’ve yet to find.

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It appears he decided to go over this chicken wire and flatten my poor Hosta and a few other plants to begin with.

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And then we noticed this.

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Those would be the chicken feeder and scratch scoop I keep in the cans in the chicken run.

And then we saw this.

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Sigh.

And that’s not actually the worst part.

After assessing the bear damage, we went back to check on the goats. The baby goats are locked in their stall at night, but Mirrie is free to be inside the goat barn or roam.

She usually greets me in her paddock every morning,

But not this morning.

I called for her and there wasn’t a peep out of her, or even the baby goats, who usually scream when they hear my voice.

It was dead silent.

We found Mirrie inside the goat barn, huddled in a corner, trembling from nose to tail.

Having recently lost Georgia, we were very concerned.

I was convinced she had a fever. So we called our vet to come out and check on her.

He was here in short order. She was still trembling. But she had no fever. And he found absolutely NOTHING wrong with her.

We suspect Mirrie saw the bear. We have no idea if or how they interacted, but there is almost no doubt her symptoms were bear related.

It took her a full 24 hours to start eating, drinking, and acting normally again.

And this is a sweet sight for me right now.

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So is this.

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The babies were locked up tight, but they were still very unsettled Sunday morning.

We have bears here. I know this. I’ve posted pictures of them in this very blog – while they were in this very yard. I had hoped with all the yard activity and bird feeders so close to the house, that it wouldn’t be a bear issue.

But it was.

Lesson learned.

Take it from me.

If you have bears in your area, don’t keep bird feeders out when the bears are likely to roam around. And tuck in tightly any other type of animal feed you have, and anything else that might attract bears.

I’ll put my bird feeders out during the winter months, and be sure to take them in before the bears start stirring.

It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Please do yourself a favor, and learn this one from me.

In spite of all the stress this bear brought to us, good things are happening around here…….

It wouldn’t truly be spring here without baby chicks, right? And we’ve got seven of them right now!

This mama hatched out 3 babies yesterday.

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And this mama hatched out 4 babies yesterday.

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I have another hen on three eggs due to hatch in two weeks.

And I have a coop full of other broodies who are too mean for me to let hatch out chicks.

It’s spring.

Critters are doing what critters do.

And I’m dealing with what critters do, and I’m loving it for the most part.

If I can just remember not to be stupid.

Brooder Boat Rescue

June 1st, 2014

See this boat?

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See this hen?

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This hen didn’t show up at curfew last night. She knows better than that.

I did my head count before tucking everyone in for the night and came up one short.

Little hussie.

I should have thought to check that boat. We’ve had a hen hatch out a clutch in that boat before. Bernie calls it the Brooder Boat.

But today I check the boat. And found her setting on 16 eggs.

So tonight Bernie and I went out on a Brooder Boat rescue.

I grabbed the hen, and he grabbed 4 eggs.

And we relocated her to the safety of a nest box in the coop.

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She was less than appreciative.

But she’s safe.

Hussie.

Redneck Water Fountain and Baby Goats

May 4th, 2014

I really, really wanted a water fountain for our deck. I wanted to relax on the deck and hear the trickle of water. I’m not sure when I became obsessed with this, but obsessed I became. I wanted a water fountain dammit! But everything I looked at didn’t exactly fit what I had in mind.

So I decided we would just make a water fountain all by ourselves.

I told Bernie my plan and he said “Just tell me what you need me to do.”

Bernie is all manner of awesome like that.

So, that’s what I did. I told him my simple plan and, although I believe he was unimpressed with the whole water fountain idea, he agreed it was doable.

Here was my idea…….a 28 gallon galvanized wash tub, the old hand water pump daddy gave us about 25 years ago, a platform for the hand pump to sit on, a small water pump, and some water. And with those requirements, we set to work.

A couple of hours later, I had a Redneck Water Fountain!

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It surpasses all I had hoped for.

And it drowns out the sound of little baby goats crying “MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMY” every time I step out on the deck :) Although that’s another sound that actually never gets old………..

And speaking of baby goats, I’ve got pictures for ya……but first, look at this pretty Indigo Bunting that showed up at my bird feeders.

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He apparently told his friends, and we have several that show up each day now. They are beauties and tickle me no end.

Speaking of beauties that tickle me……

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There are two food buckets there……but they prefer fighting over them one at a time……

They really enjoy playing on this old log.

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And this spool.

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Precious Anna Mae.

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Sweet, sweet Gloria.

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Oh, and you may be wondering where Mirrie is?

She’s busy being a poop.

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She’s decided she isn’t happy about not being the only baby. She’s a snot to Gloria and Anna May.

So Gloria and Anna May have their own paddock. And their own place in the barn.

I hope Mirrie will come around. But if not, we’ve got a workable solution.

And I’ve got three babies out there.

Don’t tell Mirrie though………..

Settling In

April 6th, 2014

Our little goat babies have had a tough 24 hours. This is the first full day away from mama, their herd, and their original home. I understand this, but I won’t lie…… it’s been a little tough on all of us.

But, today is a new day. And Anna Mae and Gloria eased into it. We spent a great deal of time building trust.

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We made many baby steps, and soon we were playing.

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Even posing for pictures.

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But mostly playing.

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It’s stressful having babies here again. It’s stressful trying to convince Mirrie she’s no longer the baby.

But we’re gonna take this one day at time.

And every time I look at these two sweet faces, I know it’s all worth it.

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The babies are settling in. I’m sure enjoying helping them!

New Kids on the Block

April 5th, 2014

We decided to adopt two adorable 8 week old Nigeria Dwarf does, and today we brought them home!

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They were pretty nervous about the whole thing – being the new kids and all.

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I told Mirrie earlier to expect some company, and she seemed a little skeptical about this idea…..

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She questioned my seriousness on the subject……

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And asked if I was sure this is a good idea…..

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I told her it would be just fine. I’m not sure she believed me……

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The chickens actually seemed pretty excited about the prospect of new babies.

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Or maybe it was the scratch they were excited about….

We named the new kids Anna Mae and Gloria. They are just adorable and so sweet. They have beautiful blue eyes.

And they are very black. If you have black animals, you probably know that taking pictures of them can be very difficult. If the lighting is not just right, the details of their features are completely lost. I took several pictures of Anna Mae and Gloria in the barn, but it was dark and none of them turned out at all. And a flash made their beautiful eyes glow…..

I will post better pictures once they settle in and I can let them out in the paddock. Right now they are spending some time in a stall in the barn.

But right now, I have goat babies to play with!

Make a Simple Suet Feeder

February 3rd, 2014

Since having bears destroy my bird feeders, I’ve been very reluctant to put them out again. But this has been an especially cold winter, and the Juncos were pleading with me……well, in truth they had resorted to eating chicken feed and scratch. And they didn’t look happy about it, either!

We haven’t seen sight of a bear in a couple of years, so I hung a couple of bird feeders and a suet cage off the flower hooks on the deck. The birds were extremely grateful, or at least thankful not to be eating chicken feed.

The woodpeckers were especially fond of the suet, and before too long I needed more suet for the suet cage. Since making my own was much more appealing than actually risking human interaction at a store, I decided to google me up a recipe for homemade suet. I found one in very short order here http://www.artistic-garden.com/easy-homemade-bird-suet-recipe/ and, while reading the comments on that post I saw that someone mentioned a log suet feeder they had. That sounded interesting! So I google up some log suet feeders. I found several sites selling them, so I showed Bernie the pictures and asked if he would please make two of them for me.

And do you know what Bernie did? He made two of them for me! Yay! And, because I know you can’t live without having your very own, I’m going to tell you just how he did it so you can make yourself one or two.

He used a couple of small logs from a wild cherry tree that were about 1 foot long, and 3 1/2 inches thick. He used a vise to make sure the log wouldn’t roll around.

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And then he used a 1 inch bit to drill a hole at the center of the log – and he drilled all the way through it to the other side.

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And then my camera battery died. *sigh* So I don’t have any more pictures of him actually working on it, but after he had a hole in the middle, he turned the log in the vise 45 degrees and drilled a hole at the top of the log, and one at the bottom of the log. Then he attached a hook at one end.

Here are the finished logs. They are stuffed with suet, but I think you can see the three holes:

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I suppose you could get fancy and square off the ends nicely, or sand and stain the wood. But I like the rough, unfinished look of these. A lot.

The woodpeckers were a little skeptical at first, but they seem to like them pretty well now!

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Hug a Chicken!

June 2nd, 2013

I think life would be better if we could all hug a chicken once a day. Really, I do! I know J.P. would agree.

J.P. asked for some chicken pictures

Some chicken pictures is exactly what I intend to post today.

But first, I’m gonna post some chicken related pictures…….

There are three screened windows in the chicken coop, and they sure come in handy on hot, summer nights. The problem is I am always worried that a hungry raccoon will find a way to get up to an open window at night and easily make it through the screen. Bernie and I discussed it and came up with what I think is a great solution……. galvanized cage wire. And I had a roll or two in the garden shed that I bought last year when I had planned to rebuild the brooder boxes.

We cut it to fit the windows, and then Bernie used small galvanized fencing staples to secure it to the window frames.

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And now all three windows are much more secure from sneaky raccoons.

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And I can sleep better at night.

And speaking of sleeping….. the mamas and new babies are sleeping up on the roosts at night now.

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This mama likes the highest roost….. and one of her babies likes the window vent for snoozing.

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And the little baby that likes the window vent for sleeping? It’s a little cockerel.

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So far, I’m pretty sure it’s the only cockerel we’ve got….. which would be a welcome respite from the cockerel filled summers we typically have!

Everyone was settling in for the evening when I was taking these pictures.

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And Pretty Boy Floyd was getting a little preening before lights out.

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I am down to two broodies right now – one I gave some eggs to set on, and the other I am working on breaking. She’s a mean little heifer, and I’m not going to let a mean hen hatch out babies when I have way too many nice broodies to do that for me. Mean broodies get pretty nasty when I have to change the feed/water in the brooder boxes….. I’m pretty much done with mean chickens…..

Anywho, here is my sweet broody and the eggs she’s setting on.

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There are two reasons I love my broodies – I can very easily increase the size of my flock and the broody will integrate the chicks into the flock without me having to stress over it too much!

OK I admit….. it’s always a little bit stressful, but a lot LESS stressful when they’ve got a mama to fight their battles.

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As soon as the mamas start bringing the babies out of the coop, I lower the feeder so they can reach it. And in short order, the babies are eating right along side the big kids.

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And speaking of eating….. these Black Spanish girls jump out of the coop first thing in the morning and follow me to the goat barn. They like to share the goats’ breakfast.

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I could keep you here all day with chicken pictures….. maybe even all week…… but it’s thundering and I’m praying we’re gonna get a much needed rain tonight.

So I’m going to post this now, before we lose electricity, and say a little prayer that 2013 is being gentle with you, and hopefully even kind to you.

I think we could all use a good year right about now.

Maybe I’ll go hug a chicken before the rain gets here :)

Homemade Deodorant and a Little Update

May 30th, 2013

I stopped using anti-antiperspirants a few years ago. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I’m not going to get into those. What I am going to get into, is how to make your own homemade deodorant. I like homemade because I know exactly what it contains. And that’s not something I can say about most of the things we buy these days.

About two years ago, I read a few recipes for homemade deodorant and decided to go with an adaptation of the simplest of them all. I’m gonna share it with you, critique it for you, and share a new recipe I recently tried.

For this simple recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 – 6 Tbs coconut oil
12 drops essential oil of your choice.

Put all of this in a bowl and just mash it all together until it’s blended.

I tried putting this in an old, empty deodorant stick I had, but it was so crumbly it was impossible to apply without scooping some out with my fingers and rubbing it in. It worked as well as any deodorant I’ve ever tried! But I was not happy with the application.

I wanted a “stick” deodorant. And then I found this recipe http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/09/gentle-all-natural-deodorant-stick-recipe.html and I adaped it a little. And I’m gonna share that with you. You’ll need the following ingredients:

3 Tbs arrowroot or cornstarch
3 Tbs baking soda
3 Tbs coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbs beeswax
12 drops essential oil of your choice (I used orange)

Note: If you have your own beeswax, just grate 1 1/2 Tbs. Or you can use 1 1/2 Tbs. flaked beeswax. Just a tip from my dishwasher, don’t use your husband’s favorite grater for this. Nuff said.

Put all of that in a pot and heat it slowly while stirring. After a few minutes, it’ll look something like this:

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Keep heating and stirring until it’s pretty smooth:

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Then pour it into your empty stick container:

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Try not to splash a bunch down the sides like I did. Let it cool for a few hours until solid.

I’m pretty happy with this recipe, but the next time I think I’ll add a little more beeswax. It’s not quite as solid as I like – although I will say it works well enough that I don’t have to use my fingers. Which is a definitely plus in my book.

And I have a little update and a few pics to share with you.

Remember those chairs that Bernie put seats in for me to keep plants on? We painted them, and the seat. And we painted an old table to go with them.

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I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

The barn swallow that made a nest in the eve of the chicken coop lean-to hatched out three babies!

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When I knock on the wall their little mouths pop open :)

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Speaking of eggs, I now have THREE chicken nests in my GOAT barn…….

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But, as long as I know where to find the eggs, I leave them alone. *sigh*

And speaking of goats…….

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Beggars.

Bobby Lee is handsome as ever.

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And Earlene is still her Duke-looking-self.

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Oh, and look at these pretty Columbine showing off in my garden:

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My garlic chive that is about 6 years old and desperately needs dividing…..

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Ok, that’s it for now. I’ll leave you with a picture of our little place in the woods – and if you look closely enough, you may spy Bernie chilling after a long, hot day of working on these grounds.

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I Think it’s Finally Spring!

May 21st, 2013

Even though Spring officially begins in March, don’t you think it’s difficult to consider that it’s really Spring until flowers are blooming……and snow isn’t falling…….and Jack Frost stops showing his face?

Right? Me too!

So this past weekend, we finally decided it’s Spring here in our little corner of the world.

Deck furniture is out, and so are the greenhouse plants.

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Bernie surprised me with his beautiful paint job on these rockers and an old table from my Grandma’s front porch.

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He also surprised me by building plywood seats for these old iron chairs.

What color do you think we should paint these seats? Or should we stain them?

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Mama gave me this railroad seat a while ago and Kathy, the best mother-in-law ever, bought me the beautiful swing. They were both treated last year, but we’re thinking they may both get painted this year.

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The old wheel barrel is filled with Marigolds. And see that pot to the right of it in this pic? That’s one of the two azalea’s that I brought home from Daddy’s funeral in 2011. I planted them and they limped along. So we dug them up and put in pots and kept them in the greenhouse last winter, and they bloomed in there earlier this year! I’m hoping they’ll be happy with a more pampered life.

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The flower garden around the deck is coming back nicely.

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This next picture is for my friend, Susan – the Columbines are finally blooming here!

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We planted our veggie garden three days ago. And we’re doing pretty much the entire thing with old field wire. And spacing for grass to grow between each row. Not only will that help us keep the mud down, it will help with the erosion issues from planting on a hill.

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Every two panels, we put an opening. The rows are about 70 feet each and the opening allow easier access between rows so we can shortcut between them :)

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You might be thinking “lazy” as an adjective….. I prefer “clever”…….

The honeybees got their very own herb garden – it’s starting from seed, so there’s not much going on in it yet.

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And, how could you REALLY think it’s spring without a spring chick or two or three?

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I know. Me neither!

All the signs are here.

I think it’s finally Spring!

Oak Apple Gall, More Baby Chicks, And Other Stuff

August 16th, 2012

For the past several years we’ve noticed these little ping pong shaped balls in the yard and woods.

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They start out more of a white with red speckles, and over time they get darker. I did a little googling on them and learned they are called “Oak Apple Galls” and they are actually contain a wasp larvae. I put it in a jar and hope to see it hatch.

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And, speaking of insects, I captured a nice picture of a Hummingbird Moth last month.

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It’s hard to believe it was once one of the huge Tomato Horn Worms I find munching on my vegetable plants!

This pretty girl stopped by this afternoon.

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And, earlier today, Bernie found this adorable little bunny laying in the yard.

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I brought the bunny inside and warmed him up, and then I laid him on a heating pad. I was sad when he died an hour or so later, but I hope I brought him a little comfort to see him out.

That made me sad. But finding itty bitty chicken eggs always makes me smile.

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And, speaking of eggs, last night I checked under my latest broody for any extra eggs that the other hens may have left for her.

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I found an extra egg under her, but I also found that one of hers was pipping.

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She hatched out three of them overnight.

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If the other two hatch, it will bring us to a total of 18 new peeps so far this year. We lost two to predators, and I know there are two little roos out there that we won’t be keeping. But I’m pleased to think we will go into the winter with more chickens than we started with.

And finally…….. Christmas Spoiler for anyone on my Christmas list………. I’ve been crocheting these neat water bottle cozies for the past week or so :)

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These are a super fast and easy way to use up that extra yarn stash laying around!

We’re still canning garden vegetables, but that is slowing down a little. Finishing the outside canning kitchen is on hold for a couple of weeks as we prepare for Bernie’s family to visit.

We have had a productive and busy summer so far. I hope yours has been a good one, too!