Sunday, April 29, 2012

Drinking Our Vegetables

If you were to score my boys on the green vegetables that they eat, they would be nearly in the negative.  They do both eat carrots, though I don't really count that as much. Corn doesn't really count, either.  Big J occasionally eats broccoli, which is awesome!  And today they both tried some fresh sweet peas that I got at the farmer's market yesterday.  Other than that, we are really struggling in this area!   And it's not from lack of introducing them to so many tasty veggies out there.  I eat a ton of veggies.  We grow veggies in our garden.  (More on that later). We try "new" veggies somewhat often.  What is a mom to do???

Enter "The Smoothie".  Our boys love these.  And let me tell you what we put in them.  All of our green smoothies start with spinach and water.  Add frozen berries of any sort.  Sometimes fresh fruit.  Sometimes fresh broccoli and carrots.  And perhaps other random ingredients, depending on what we have on hand.  What we get is something that we all love, including the boys!  And it makes me smile every time they drink one, which is almost every day, because I know that they are getting at least some of the green veggies that they need!!

The boys got silly once they figured out I was taking pictures of them because of the smoothie "mustache" that they almost always end up with.  Here they are trying to make bigger, messier mustaches. :)  These two crack me up!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Rocks and Walking Sticks

The other day, the boys and I took a walk down to the lake to explore.  The water is up so much higher than it was when we first moved.  I'm still amazed at how far out we had to walk, that first time we came to the lake, before getting to the water.  As you can see in this picture, there are trees way out in the water.  A month ago, those trees were on dry ground.  Obviously, we've gotten a lot of rain.  :)

But back to rocks and walking sticks...

The boys had a great time hunting for cool rocks to add to their collection.  They also spent much time and energy trying to find the perfect walking stick.  After finding several sticks, arguing over who got which one, and then finally swapping sticks, they both ended up with one they liked (which are different, by the way, than the ones that have in this picture).  All I can say is that it was a process! :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Four Chicken Eggs!!!

Yesterday was a BIG day for our chickens and for us!  For the first time since we got the chickens, each hen laid an one day! Woohoo!  They started off slowly...we were getting an egg about every other day, most likely from the same hen.  Now that they have a nice little coop and a better diet, they've been laying more frequently.  We've been letting them out in the evening for an hour or two to hunt around for yummy things to eat.  They are so funny to watch and are getting bolder by the day, wandering further from their coop.  The boys and I are planning to do a post on their favorite hen, Noiser (yes, that is her name...)! So, check back soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Great Outdoors of our Backyard

This is going to be a long post, so bear with me!  It won't be long on words, though...just pictures! :)  Many of you have been wondering just what the backyard of our place looks like.  Short of taking a video, which I do plan to do in the future, this is what I can do.  Come, take a walk up our hill!
This is the view from the top of the stairs by the garden.  Yes, I did forget to take a new picture of the stairs. Oops.  But, if you go back a few posts to the one about the bees, then you can see the stairs that I am referring to.  The white building in this picture is a warm house.  In previous days, the owners used it to keep plants, well, warm. :)  The boys currently use it as a hideout/playhouse!

When you have walked up to the warm house in the previous picture and look to your right, you will see the path that we take to the current spot for the chickens.  They are not in the picture, but are up to the left, behind the mass of green.  And there is a tree that fell across this path long ago and that is now covered up with ivy.  I have to duck under the tree to go this way.  Also, you can't see the flowers in this picture, but there are periwinkles growing on both sides of the path, along with some giant calla lilies!  More on those later. :)

Now, turn back with me and we will continue up the hill.  This is the view from just to the side of the warm house.  The path winds up through the trees.

When you get to the top of the path, you come to what used to be an orcard.  There are still fruit bearing trees here, along with grape vines at the very top of the hill, which is also the fence line of the property.  It will be interesting to see if these trees actual bear decent fruit.  We've already been harvesting pumelo and two different types of lemons.  But the trees are in great disrepair and need lots of care.  Unfortunatley, we don't know alot about caring for fruit trees, and we arrived to late in the season to tend to them properly. So, we'll see. :)

Here's another view of the fruit trees, looking to the right of the above picture.  You can also see the slope of the hill in this picture.

Now, from where I was standing in the two pictures above, I turned around to look back down the hill.  Here you can see the warm house, again.

Looking to the right while facing the top of the hill, you can barely see the bee hive.  It's just on the other side of the tree in the "back" of the picture.
And here is the back side of the bee hive.  It is literally a "buzz" of activity all day long! 
Well, more about the yard later.  Trust me, there is more to see! :)

Little Beauties

It seems like every time I take a walk around the property that we are living at, something new is in bloom.  These little lilies are the latest to pop up and I love them!  The flowers are about 3 inches or so in diameter.  Without doing my homework, I am assuming that they are a type of day lily.  I guess I'll actually have to check that out. :)  My hubby had cut a path around the property with the mower awhile back, and the path goes right through the middle of a patch of these.  When I walk by them, I feel like I'm off somewhere, in the middle of the woods, and not in my backyard. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rescued Birds

A couple of weeks ago, the boys and I went to a presentation about rescued raptors.  It was at our local library.  It was very interesting and we were able to see a rescued kestrel, a great horned owl that was taken as a baby and raised by some people who weren't supposed to have it and then couldn't be released into the wild, and a rescued white- tailed kite. The raptors were fascinating to watch!  At the end of the presentation, one of the volunteers brought out Sir Lance the that the kids could actually touch a bird (since they weren't to touch the raptors, for obvious reasons)!  The boys loved this and it was perfect timing, since we got our chickens the following Saturday.  Thankfully, all we have are hens...and NO roosters! 

NOTE:  The pictures aren't great because I didn't have the foresight to bring my good camera and had to settle for using my phone.  And Joshua is the one in the foreground reaching to pet Sir Lance. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Exploring the Lakeshore

We love exploring the shoreline of the lake near our house.  It's just a short walk to get there, and so different from anything we had in TX.  Much of what you see in these pictures is now underwater, though.  We've had so much rain lately, which was needed, that the water line is much higher.  There is a trail that goes around much of the lake, which is cool, and there are always people on it, walking, running, and biking.  I can't wait to explore it further!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Big J Turned 7!!

I'm can't believe that Big J's birthday was over a month ago and I am just now posting about it.  We were in between homes and at my brother's house on his actual birthday and my sister-in-law went all out for the birthday boy.  She planned a super fun party for him, complete with a Jedi Cookie Cake, a special dinner, and party treats!  She is the best!  We had a small celebration with a hand full of friends the weekend before we moved.  But it was extra special to be at their house and be able to celebrate with the cousins! 

It's hard to believe that I have a 7 year old son.  For some reason, it feels like a major milestone.  He seems more grown-up (most of the time) and so much closer to double-digit years!  He is such a joy to be around.  He remembers basically everything he reads.  He's much like his daddy in that respect.  He is a voracious reader and loves to read aloud to his brother.  The outdoors are his second home and I'm certain that he would sleep outside if we let him. :)  He can't wait to get done with his school work so that he can go play outside.  He loves to build...with lego's, wood, etc...and builds elaborate ships, homes, and whatever else he sets his mind to do.  I still catch him giggling sometimes and love that!  It's infectious and sometimes a bit frustrating, like when it's time to go to bed and the boys can't settle down because he is giggling about something!  I'm going to do my best not to blink...because I'm certain he'll be all grown up, and taller than me, before I know it!  Love you, Big J!

Keeping Bees

Last weekend, the bee guy (who we bought our established bee hive from) came to bring Neil another super, or level for his hive.  Since they were going to be stirring things up a bit in the hive, Neil donned his bee-keeping "outfit".  Before going up the hill, he took the time to show the boys what the inside of a hive looks like before the bees are in it.  On one of the frames you can see part of an old hive structure.  The bee guy was very hopeful that we will have a good honey harvest in August!  I am hopeful too!!!  There's not much more that I would like than to be able to use my own honey, and to share it with family and friends. 

On a side note, in the last picture, you can see where our garden will be.  There are three tiers, with the top tier currently full of flowers.  We are going to leave those there, but hope to fill the other two beds full of fruits and veggies!  The owner of the house had brought in wonderful, rich dirt for the gardens that he and his wife used to have there.  It is GOOD dirt, if I do say so...the funny part is that even after we  had enriched the soil at our old house two years in a row, and toiled and turned the soil, it still was not even half as nice as the soil in this garden area.  I'm pumped!

We haven't planted the garden yet, with the exception of a few tomatoes and peppers.  But I'm glad now, since it has been raining in torrents for the better part of four days now.  We have "rivers" coming down our hill.  I'm fairly certain that most of our seeds would have washed away. :)

One other thing...for those of you interested...back behind the top tier are the kiwi vines.  This isn't a good picture of them, but they are packed full of leaves!  When we came to look at the house back in February, the vines had no leaves but were heavy with kiwi.  But when we finally got here in March, someone had come and cleaned off every last kiwi on the vines.  Hopefully next spring WE will get to enjoy the fruits of those vines!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Living Space

Here is where we are living.  I don't know how much you can tell from the picture, but the house is up a hill a bit (and the hill continues all the way to the back of the property).  I like this picture because you can see the tall palm tree in the front yard.  And the palm is my younger son's favorite tree in our yard!

P.S.  Don't you like the square bushes that go up the sides of the driveway??  They are interesting...if it were my house, they would probably be the first to go.  On the upside, they have little white flowers that the bees love (we have a bee hive as well...I'll save that story for another day)!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

We have chickens!!!!!

We finally did it!  We bought some chickens!!  We are currently living in an area that is considered rural, on about an acre.  So, it's about time we got ourselves some chickens.  They are supposedly Rhode Island Reds, though we think they may be New Hampshire Reds.  Either way, they are nice chickens and we hope to get lots of eggs!  The above picture is of one of the hens and the one below pictures Joshua with the chicken tractor.  Neil built this today and will work on the coop as soon as he can get to it.  He built it so that it can be moved around.  The hens are super excited about their new little home, though I'm sure they will be glad when they finally get their coop.  Until then, a dog kennel sure comes in handy...

As a side note, I wish I had been able to record Joshua's giggles as he caught the chickens so that we could move them from their temporary pen to the tractor.   Hilarious!  Every time he caught one for me, he just laughed and laughed and laughed, mostly because the chickens made such funny little noises! :)  He was a BIG helper today!