Monday, March 26, 2007

He said I've been watching you dad, ain't that cool
I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are
We like fixing things and holding mama's hand
Yeah we're just alike, hey ain't we dad
I wanna do everything you do
So I've been watching you
Chorus to "Watching You" by Rodney Atkins

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Little Bit of Heaven

The other day, well, the other day in mother-speak which means it could have been up to 2 weeks ago, I had read that the hummingbirds were back from the migration away. I have always thought hummingbirds were the rare breed you never did get to see to much of because they move too quickly and well, I just never saw them no matter how much I tried to attract them with sweet nectar filled feeders on the front porch.
Here in our new home I have a big beautiful picture window at the kitchen sink...big. It's one of my favorite things about washing dishes is I get to look out over our beautiful front yard with not a street in sight. Our little deck runs along the whole front of the house and in front of that there is a hedge of flowering currant. Currently it is covered in beautiful bright pink blooms (you'll see below). In the last couple of days I've seen fleeting glimpses of a hummingbird, but.....last night!!!! I got a little bit of heaven in my own front yard!!! I stood and washed dinner dishes and after I awhile I noticed not one hummingbird coming to drink at the currant flowers but up at one point there were up to FIVE!! They danced around and drank and darted and fleeted and then they'd rest!! on the tree directly in front of the hedge. Yes, rested on the branch! Most of the time there were 2 or 3 and this went on for 30 + minutes. As soon as I was done with the dishes I braved the possibility of scaring them and grabbed my camera and headed to the porch. It was dusk and they move VERY quickly so I didn't know if I'd be able to get any shots but I tried. At first no flash so I wouldn't scare them but I didn't get much but blur. So I used the flash. The first picture below is without flash, hence the blur but I LOVE it because if you look closely you'll see the blur of the hummingbird moving up the picture. The other two are with flash, one the hummingbird is resting and the other it is drinking. I couldn't believe it. I was in awe standing out there on the porch. Charissa joined me and we felt so blessed as these little creatures darted about, sometimes just inches from us and they'd stop and hover just in front of us looking and then dart away. They make an incredible humming noise akin to a large bumblebee but louder.
I truly felt like I was in heaven.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Just some updates and a request.

We continue to get eggs everyday, averaging 3 a day so far. One day we had 5! I'm told we'll soon have more than we know what to do with. I'm not worried as we already have 3 families lined up to buy!!! I think we'll need more layers! This little prairie girl is the one who loves going and collecting eggs the most and working with them. Charissa loves the bonnet I made.

Below is a look at our fresh eggs frying. LOOK HOW BEAUTIFULLY DARK ORANGE THEY ARE!!!!! MMMMMM If you don't buy fresh farm eggs or "free-range organic" from the store you are not familiar with how an egg is suppose to look. Crack open an egg and compare it to this! You'll be amazed! I couldn't help myself...I just had to try one and it was delicious. I can't wait until after lent!! I'll be eating them everyday!

Here are our hens loving the outdoors now! They devoured the grass within the fencing very quickly and so as I've been digging up the sod for my garden (which will be to the right of this chicken run) I've been putting the sod chunks in the run. They love it! They follow me around now all over as they want more and more "pasture". It has convinced me of the necessity to provide as much natural as possible. They much prefer it. Their feed troughs of commercial food go untouched for the most part! saving!!!

Last Friday, March 16th we had sun and 72 or so degrees! This is what the kids insisted on. Today? It was 30 degrees and frost on the ground!

And for my REQUEST!!!
I'm decidedly a very bad planner and therefore struggle nearly daily with the idea of cooking for my family. I would love some ideas of menu planning and some of your favorite FAMILY-FRIENDLY, TIME- FRIENDLY AND HEALTHY-FRIENDLY recipes! I know I have access to great cookbooks but I want to know what works for real people all the time. I can read through cookbooks and planning organization cookbooks...but what's life? Please share some recipes your family loves (especially if you have little ones). I emailed my aunts and uncles who all raised families and even some cousins who have little ones...but no one has written back. :(
I know my biggest problem isn't knowing what to cook it's more along the lines of self-discipline to actually follow through with the plan. Please pray for me.
You can email me recipes and ideas if you want or post them here for all to see.
susansophia (dot) f (at) gmail (dot) com

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"You Can Farm"

I was introduced to Joel Salatin author of above book and owner of Polyface Farms.
Boy do I wish I had 2 days to just sit down and read the entire book!!! I am truly inspired!!
Watch out James!

I read something last night from the chapter regarding philosophies of farming. He lists different reasons to farm for the right reason basically. As I've read this book I often think of our friend, Rade. Rade you NEED to read this book!

Clean, nutritious, personally-inspected food. (title of section within chapter)
People's personal involvement with their food needs to be encouraged. I can't imagine why folks who see how many things get botched up by the government would entrust the safety of their food to that same institution.
Honestly, the government can louse up just about anything it sets out to do, in such creative ways you or I can scarcely imagine it. They set out to care for widows and orphans with something called Social Security, and end up with a boondoggle that will well-nigh bankrupt the country and that has grown into a retirement entitlement for all. They set out to reduce manure going into waterways and build manure lagoons that cause more contamination than if they had never been built. They set out to protect the American eagle and end up absconding a farmer's tractor and his livelihood because the fireline he ripped in as a last-ditch effort to save his home upset a nest of endangered mice. They set out to reduce filth in huge slaughterhouses and put all the neighborhood mom-and-pop shops out of business. The list is endless, and it doesn't matter whether you're liberal or conservative, you know about bureaucratic corruption and stupidity.
Why would any of us entrust the government with protecting our food? Do you think all the huge outfits that receive government oversight are dedicated to turning out the cleanest, most nutritious food? Of course not.
The sooner we involve people with their food and show them there is something better than Twinkies and PopTarts, cardboard tomatoes and cellulose apples, greasy spareribs and pale eggs
(btw...I have NEVER seen such brilliant dark yellow yolks like I've seen in my newly laid eggs!!!), they will realize the "system" is totally rotten. We cannot get an educated, proactive populace as long as we have an agriculture so far removed from end users that they think milk comes from jugs and fish sticks swim around in the ocean.
Nothing is as clean and nutritious as a customer-inspected facility and business. When the relationship marketer must pass the scrutiny of the discriminating patron, who personally looks over the entire operation, you'd better believe not one in a thoughsan would risk doing something unscrupulous. But a huge entity with a lot of "No Admittance" doors, with a bank of Philadelphia lawyers and millions in product liability insurance to protect it can hoodwink, smooth talk, and weasel out of anything.
Let's restore integrity in the food system by getting involved with it, personally.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

She's growing up!

Kelsey Anna is just over 10 years old and she is definitely in her preteen time. Hormones are starting to rage and she is developing an attitude I hope won’t last long. I decided it was time to have “the” talk with her. Mostly to talk about the change that was taking place in her body. I wanted to make this a special time so we had a date. I bought her a lockable case and put toiletries in it and then I bought her a journal. But this was going to be a special journal for US. I thought of this while at the store and really love this idea so thought I would share it with you in case someone else might like to use it. This journal would be a place for us to write back and forth with each other. Sometimes it’s hard to face your mom/dad with tough questions or just words of sharing. Sometimes it’s hard to face your kids to tell them something important or even to apologize about something. This journal will give us an opportunity to be open with each other without feeling proud or nervous. What better time to start something than while she is young and VERY receptive. She loved it! That very first night she wrote to me and even with questions from that days talk. She also wrote some quotes from a book she liked. She kept it 2 nights and the 2nd entry had another question and something that SHE wrote (created).

Someday she may not want to write to me, as she gets older and more into her teens. But she’ll be able to look back at this and hopefully be reminded of our friendship and the love I have for her.

“The window of heaven is love and the door to salvation is pureness.” By Kelsey Anna


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What a weekend!

We had a wonderful and busy weekend! As James mentioned in this post we had a rare opportunity to travel down to LA without children for a 3 day date! The purpose of the trip was to go to The Getty Museum to see the exhibit of the St. Katherine Monastery Icons. I felt so blessed to be able to do this. It is still vivid in my mind. The beauty and the holiness! I do have to say it was astonishing how crowded it was. And knowing that the vast majority of those looking at the Holy Icons really had no idea of the awesomeness and holiness of the "art" they were viewing really did interfere with my ability to experience it fully. It was so crowded and so distracting. I even overheard someone joking, yes joking, by saying...."Hey, (someones name) you're suppose to touch them for luck." They both laughed! It was sad and offensive as many of us orthodox lovingly venerated these holy icons. But overall I am really glad that we took this opportunity and I know we were blessed being in their presence as God was there!
While down in LA were were truly blessed to be able to visit some wonderful friends. Friends we do not get to see nearly enough! Chance and Cybil were wonderful hosts. They opened their home to us and then promptly left for their own weekend trip to a wedding. So that visit was way too short (just a few hours) but it was so nice to see them and we are very grateful they offered their home to us the entire time. Thank you! Their little girl Salome is growing up so fast.

We visited often with the Aaron and Sara and their two little ones were very entertaining.
This is Basil, Juliana and me!

On Sunday we visited St. Barnabas Orthodox Church and then had lunch with the Plews and the Ma'ae family. Thank you all for such a wonderful time.

Above from left to right starting in back...Aaron, Sara, Juliana, Toy, John, Cassian and below Bella, Basil and Nava. We had such a great time!

And now the news that James speaks of...
Later that day I was in the house and all of a sudden I hear Charissa outside screaming as if for life. I think the worst and go running. She's standing in the chicken run screaming, as I get closer I hear that she is screaming "EGG, EGG, EGG" (You would have thought the child was being carried off by a hungry bear.) I ran back in to yell into the house, "She found an egg!". I run to the chicken yard and meet her as she is CRYING and holding this tiny egg, saying "I found an egg, I found and egg! Isn't it beautiful?" She is crying!!!! I said, "Why are you crying?" "I'm so excited!!" was her reply! Wow. After that we put it in the fridge and got to work getting the nests in. For an hour Charissa whistled and sang as she did farm chores for the chickens. She spread straw over mud and helped me with the nest. It was such a fun afternoon! (Despite my 3 hours of sleep the night before.)