A family farm

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I sure had a wonderful birthday weekend. This one probably left me feeling better than year's previous. I think part of the reason is because I really wasn't expecting very much. I did expect to go out to eat for pizza with the family, I did expect to see a movie with my family, but that was about it. Instead, I received probably the most beautiful card from my husband, some extremely needed quality time, and a major dose of appreciation by my family. You know how it gets when you are extremely busy. You start to feel taken advantage of when it's up to you to come up with everything from the smallest meal to an immaculate house. I have to say, I always fail in the immaculate house part. We are constantly cleaning up after our dogs. One is very old, and he eats any trash he can get into. It gives him indigestion, and he has accidents. Harley, the doberman, also has an accident now and then, but she hasn't developed the camel bladders the older 2 dogs have. Needless to say, it seems my house always has some sort of pet smell to it. The smallest meal can be coming up with a snack for my daughter's lunch or a frozen pizza dinner. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. I am the type of person who aims to please all those around her, and sometimes I fall short; especially in the meal department. I know there is stuff Chris doesn't care for. There are things Kellie and Alex don't want to eat (not so much for Kellie). I always feel I have to do my best to please them all. Today I started early with praise team, and after church, we had a rehearsal. Chris very thoughtfully put together a dinner that was absolutely delicious. My favorite part: I didn't have to cook this home made meal. I also didn't have to come up with the meal plan. It was pretty fantastic.

Another plus: I have tomorrow off work. I don't think, after putting in over 10 hours for two days last week, that I absolutely NEED an extra day in my weekend. I'm so glad I have it. The day will be spent making Christmas candy and setting up the tree we cut down today. It feels so good not to have to go in to work tomorrow. I'm still all compressed from being stressed so badly. I need the extra day to recouperate. Speaking of rest, I'd better get some.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Deckers' Acres!

Happy Thanksgiving! We had a great one that started out on the farm and moved over to Chris' parents' house. Chris and I woke up before the butt-crack of dawn only to get dressed up in our camouflaged finest and head out into the field and into our respective trees. Chris handed me a bag of apples that I tossed out in the field in front of my tree. I scattered them well and looked forward to seeing them shine red later when the sun came up. It was still dark with a sliver of light dawning on the eastern horizon as I situated myself in my tree, hauling out my book and setting aside my gloves as it was warm. As the sun came up, the wind picked up, and it became colder, but I could see my red apples strewn about the field as I knew I would when it started to get light. Chris texted me that there was a guy hunting about fifty yards into the woods across from him. Then our neighbor, having the day off apparently, started up his Bobcat and started cleaning out his sheep pen. At about 8:30am, I decided I'd had enough and texted Chris that I'd be getting out. He texted back that if there were any deer coming from the north that our neighbor would have kicked them up upon starting his tractor. I headed to the barn to take care of our critters. Quagmire (the narangansett turkey) was in rare form, gobbling and strutting like the tom turkey he is. He was strutting to show Donatello (blue slate turkey) just who the big boss man is. Turns out George (other blue slate turkey) is really a Georgie, and Quagmire is working hard at making her a mommy. I've got my work cut out for me this weekend, and I have to hunt Saturday as well. It would be nice to get a fine deer. But, first the turkey pen needs to be cleaned out, and I should make a nesting box for Georgie. Boy, we thought we had all toms! Perhaps Esau is a hen as well. Only time will tell. I have to also get the deck furniture put away. I have to have a tire repaired on my Forrester. I have to get more hay. I have to unbury the trailer in order to do that. I have to also use Chris' truck to do that. I have to check the fluids in my Forrester and make sure everything is up to snuff. I have to put stuff away in the barn and dismantle the turkey coop we started and get that put in the barn. I HAVE TO GO HUNTING!!! Somehow, we need to move the freezer out of the chicken coop and into the barn and I have to expand on the chicken coop. I have to move the blue marans from the turkey coop to the chicken coop. Oh, what a weekend this will be! I have to clean up my house. I also have to work late today just to get my regular work done. I need a vacation. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Encounter - A Review of a Good Little Book

I read The Encounter courtesy of BookSneeze. At a mere one hundred and forty pages, The Encounter is a quick read. It is advertised as a parable, which I suppose it is, but after studying parables in my church, it is a little simple, even though I thought the ending did catch me a bit off guard. Maybe it's because I've had to live this lesson to learn it, but I wasn't thrilled or overjoyed with the book. I did think it was good and worth the read, but it's simplicity drives the point home in an almost cliche way. I would have been happier with the book if it had left a little more up to the imagination. The basic issue at hand is forgiveness, and the type of story that the book presents seems to have been done before. I did learn, in reading the author's notes at the end of the story, that the other part of the parable was more about uplifting the downtrodden. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do this in our everyday living. Perhaps that's why I missed the point, or perhaps it was in the gift from the rich man to his lowly mother where I missed the point. You would have to think that a wealthy relative would take care of a downtrodden relative, especially in regard to the whole forgiveness part. It would only be in going beyond, perhaps helping a poor stranger, where the parallel to what God does for us every single day, blessing us with His best, would make more sense to me. I don't know. It was a good book. It was a worthy read, but it just didn't measure up to other parable stories I've read before. Perhaps therein lies my disappointment.

done molting?

Our chickens are starting to lay again! Oh, thank goodness! We collected three eggs yesterday and Chris called me with the news of there already being four eggs in the nesting boxes this morning! He also said one of the cuckoo marans was in a nest, too. Could our young chickens be getting ready to start laying? I really hope so! They are nearly seven months old and should be starting to lay any day now. We'd get dark brown eggs from the cuckoo marans, the two wellsummers and, in a couple more months, the blue marans. We'll really be able to share the bounty with our church members in the next couple of months. We'll have plenty of eggs to share! Between the younger (under seven months) and the older chickens, we have about twenty hens. It will really be something to get more than a dozen eggs per day from these birds. Then, in a couple months when the blue marans are of age, there will be an additional five hens. We'll keep one of the two roosters (Bert) as well. Mike, just so you know, is back to crowing again with his broken crower. Bert or the other blue maran rooster also crows like Mike. Could it be a maran thing?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkeys and Chickens and things

I had to clip the wings of my peacocks the other day. There's nothing worse than being in a hurry to leave your house and having one of your peachicks fly out of the barn into the hayloft area of another part of the barn, then out onto the back deck. Claude and Henri are still very little yet, about eight inches in length overall. It wouldn't take a very large hawk or another critter to take one down and eat it. I don't want that to happen yet. So instead of just catching Claude and putting him in the barn, I clipped him. Then I caught Henri and did the same and carried the scissors out to my Sub and took off. Claude is a pretty good flyer considering his age and body size. He's the braver of the two peachicks. He's always leading Henri around.

Donatello, the self-blue Blue Slate Turkey is developing a beard!!! It's almost an inch long already. I noticed it this morning when he let me pet him for awhile. I love how feathers are both soft and hard at the same time. You pet them, and it's like petting a soft, inpenetrable wall.

Mike is back to crowing (the only rooster we kept out of the twenty hatchlings and baby chicks we've raised). His crower is so broken, but it's neat to hear. One of the 7 month old Blue Maran roosters (there are two - I'll keep one) also has a broken crower and he sounds a lot like Mike. We're keeping one, and my friend Michelle has named him Bert. Maybe it's a Maran thing. The hens make much deeper sounds than their Ameraucauna friends.

Oh, Lily and pregnant friends are still fat. I think they are all just fat, now. Not pregnant ... :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Still Fat!

The goats are still fat - Lily and Ginger. Ginger is almost starting look more pregnant than Lily. Her youngun must be really growing inside her. I'm certain we'll have kids before Thanksgiving.

The peacocks - Henri and Claude - are starting to add some fantastic colors to their feathers. I'm noticing more green on them, and their head feathers are really popping up! I'm going to try to get some good pictures of them this weekend.

Don and Glenn Q. really have started gobbling. They'll talk to you all morning until you put some clover in their pen. Our roosters don't crow anymore. I don't know why. It's kind of nice, with the quiet, but it's kind of weird, too. Mike used to crow often with his broken crower (he doesn't cockadoodledoo like a regular rooster - he has his own crow), but I haven't heard it since we got rid of most of our roosters. I'm going to keep one of the two blue maran roosters as well. He's slate grey, spotted coppery brown. He hasn't crowed yet either. Neither has his "brother" who is slate grey with a white head.

I broke the toe next to my pinky toe the other morning, stubbing it on the doorstop by our back door while getting dog food. It hurts! But it's a little better. It does constantly ache, but walking is a little easier.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lily and other things

We're all on Lily watch right now as she approaches the end of her pregnancy. It's always exciting when new baby goats arrive on scene. We weren't sure how good of a mother Lily would be, but she has turned out to be a pretty good mom. She encourages her kids to eat hay sooner than I'd like, but it didn't hurt them any. The saying around our farm lately is that she is still fat. I'd love to be able to call my husband and tell him that she did indeed kid today, and they are adorable, but it's not quite time yet. Ginger appears to be preggers as well. She seems to be about 2 weeks less pregnant than Lily. Both goats got Freddie going, and they'd stand by the fence separating the two pens making him crazy for a couple of days. It was almost as if they were in heat. If Lily wasn't so obviouly pregnant, I'd believe it, but I've even seen her kids kick. They just acted like they were in heat. Weird. Betsy is just pregnant. She'll probably kid in January. It's not the best month, but better too cold than too warm. Jade on the other hand has Joey (a wether) keeping her from joining with Freddie. It's making him nuts. He's been chasing William (our nubian wether) because he can't get to Jade. She's looking a little fluffy, but not pregnant yet.

We named out peacocks. They seem to both be males, though one could surprise us and end up a female after all. They are Claude (Monet) and Henri (Matisse). I suppose if one ends up being a female, we'll just change her name to Georgia (O'Keefe). The turkeys are doing well. I'm gearing up to get the chickens out of there, but I'd like the other chickens to get over their molt already and start laying eggs. We've finally been getting a couple - 8 to be exact - over this past week. That's 8 total. From nearly 30 chickens. The young ones just haven't started laying yet. The older ones are just starting to lay again. The older ameracaunas (well one of the two anyway) has started laying again. They are 4 and 6 years old. I'm impressed. We won't get rid of them. We'll just let them stay and live out the rest of their lives with us. There is no point in selling them off. They've been rather good to us.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Heaven is for Real

BookSneeze sent me another book to review, and this one is about the little boy that nearly died and spent some time in heaven. He returned to tell the tale of his adventure. This is an amazing story that inspires hope in Christ and the assurance that there is indeed something to look forward to after death. This child's story is amazing to say the least. At a very low point in this family's life, this story springs forth. With illness and injury on more than one front, Colton Burpo comes forward, little by little, with an amazing story of going to heaven while he is in surgery. He sees Todd Burpo's father, someone he hadn't before met, and meets a sister that he never knew he had (Sonja Burpo had had a miscarraige). There is so much more to this story, and I highly recommend reading this book. It will inspire you and give you hope of a future too glorious for us to imagine.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The weather is changing, getting colder and wetter and just plain drearier. The past few days have been windy and sunny, but today is ick. Saturday I purchased a pair of peacocks. They are supposed to be the blue variety, but right now, they are brown and white. They have these little shoots on the tops of their heads that are about an inch long already. They are shy, afraid of the chickens and turkeys that currently occupy the garage with them. The chickens will eventually move out into the chicken coop and the turkeys will have their own coop soon. The peacocks will remain in the garage to grow until next spring when we build them a new home. I've wanted peacocks for awhile now, and I just love how adorable they are with the feathers on the tops of their heads.

I'm now, however, very happy with my chickens. We have gotten NO eggs this entire week! It is absolutely crazy! I cleaned their coop a couple of weeks ago, when we were getting 1 or 2 eggs per day (I have over 10 chickens - barred rocks and isa browns) that are laying age, and about 20 that are a getting very close to laying age. I have no idea why they aren't laying. It is starting to get on my nerves. They show now signs of poor health. They have plenty of room. They lead a rather calm life (only the occassional letting out of the dogs startles them, but they are even getting somewhat used to that). They are well fed. The whole thing is just crazy!!! Any ideas? I've even started to sing to them. To the tune of the Piano Man, I've made up this song: Lay us some eggs, you're the chicken hens ... Lay us some eggs today! Cuz we're all in the mood for an omelet, and you've got the capabilities! oh, la da da, di de da ...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Basketball Playing Goat!

The other evening, I had let the goats out to graze in the yard, free-range. I had to get the stinky chicken coop cleaned up and new straw put in, so I was able to keep an eye on the goats. They behaved themselves as well until one of them, Jade, I believe, remembered where the strawberry and raspberry patches are. I first chased her and Joey out. Then William joined them. I was having a hard time keeping them away and cleaning out the chicken coop. So, Kellie finishes her homework and comes outside to practice dribbling. She had a game earlier in the day and just like everyone else on the team, when she got the ball she immediately passed it off instead of dribbling and moving the ball herself. There's nothing wrong with passing, but she could have dribbled down the court a little. Anyway, I told her to go practice behind the house to help keep the goats out of the berry patches. Like the great kid that she is, she did as she was told. I was hauling a cart-load of chicken pooh and straw out to the new garden area, and I watch William, our nubian goat, come running up to Kellie as she is dribbling the ball around. He stopped her from moving forward, he would put his head down if she tried to go forward, he would walk forward forcing her to dribble backing up, and if she got around him, he would follow her and get in front of her again. It was the funniest thing ever! Kellie and I were even able to play a brief game of monkey in the middle, but I think you'd have to call it nubian in the middle this time around. Hopefully we'll be able to re-create the scene and have video. Right now I only have a couple of pictures.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Too late for Lucy

Morning chores brought tears to my eyes. Lucy is succombing to the meningeal deerworms brought on my eating the slugs. I carried her out of the pen as gently as I could and put together some hay for her to lie down on. I can't bring myself to actually do the deed of putting her down. I have to let her go naturally. I don't think she is suffering much. She's not crying out in pain, nor is she thrashing around. The doggone deerworms are doing their worst. And there is absolutely nothing that I can do. This has been such a tough year for us with our animals. Lucy and Brian take the cake, tho. They were great goats. It was tough to bury Brian, it will be tougher to bury Lucy. It's not that I like Lucy more or better than Brian, but I'm sick of burying goats. And cats.  Luke, the German shepherd, is doing just fine. He doesn't sleep much, but he's still pretty healthy. He's 11. Kayleigh, the Golden Retriever, is 9, and other than her snoring, she's still going strong. Harley, the Doberman, is still very much a puppy. But she's only 2 years old, so she should be.

Getting back to the goats ... Brian was always so very silly. We have so many pictures of Brian where all we see is his head above the gate. In looking at these pictures, you wouldn't think that he even had a body! Brian was the goat we took to church. We could lead him around everywhere! He behaved so well in church, and made a great addition to the sermon about the use of a scapegoat by the Israelites.

Lucy was a great mamma. She was probably the best mamma we've ever had! One of her and Freddie's kids was a best in show grand champion Pygmy goat this past summer. Her little Willow is a show goat now, earning ribbons and championships. She was always so calm and loved her chin being scratched. She was the first goat we purchased with a beard. We nearly named her Aunt Ruth, after the VeggieTales song.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Meningeal Deerworms

This has been a rough year for us raising goats. We battled a hearty battle of coccidosys earlier this summer and lost 2 does. Brian was affected, and it weakened him. My goats have been well wormed. I put our two very pregnant does (Lily and Ginger) in a pen with Brian and Lucy. As I said, Brian seemed quite weak, yet. Lucy appeared to be injured. It seemed as if she had a pulled muscle or a back injury and was favoring her rear back leg. She hasn't been in any pain. Last Thursday evening Brian laid down and would not get up Friday morning. I ran across an article that said sometimes the dewormer can cause a severe drop in a goat's iron, causing anemia. I tried to find some iron supplement for Brian on Saturday and had him stand propped up on a bale of straw. He could not stand on his own. Sunday, he died.

Lucy's condition has been getting worse. I was all set to bring her to the vet on Thursday, but I'm not going to now. I know what is wrong with her, and it isn't an injury. This is the same thing that happened to Brian. She has contracted meningeal deerworms. The wormer I used doesn't protect against deerworms. Deerworms are transmitted by whitetail deer through slugs. We have whitetail, and we have slugs, and I know the goats have eaten slugs. Unfortunately, Lucy and Brian ate slugs that were carrying the deerworm. The deerworm do not affect whitetail deer. They just pass through, but if a goat eats an affected slug, the deerworms start eating their spinal tissue causing paralysis and death. The paralysis is irreversible. Lucy can't get up on all four legs anymore. She should be dead in the next couple of days. This really sucks. Next Saturday, I'm picking up some Ivomec Plus, which will kill the deerworm and prevent against them contracting it again for the next month. By then it will be too cold out for slugs, and I won't have to worm the goats again until April.

Moral of the story is that if you live in Michigan where there are deer and slugs, use a better wormer. I'm losing two great goats. Lucy is the best mamma ever, and Brian was amazing. He was our clown.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ascent from Darkness - by Michael Leehan

I have just read the book Ascent from Darkness by Michael Leehan sent to me courtesy of BookSneeze. This has been a rollercoaster of an emotional ride. I do wish I had prayed before I opened the book, because I really didn't have a clue to what I was getting into. His journey is filled with darkness, and sometimes it seems overwhelming and unbelievable. I just didn't expect it to pull me down so far as I read of his tribulations. The end, however, is breathtaking and brought tears to my eyes as Michael told of his conversion to Christ. I don't cry for much, but the joy that welled up within me was tremendous. This book is incredible. I wholeheartedly recommend this book, with care, however, as it is deep and dark and frightening. The supernatural world is nothing for us to be playing around with. This book, on the other hand, may be a great help to someone who is struggling with the faith. It is a clear warning against dark powers, and it is a clear warning to believers in God to live out their faith, because there are many other people just like Michael watching and waiting for us to show that we do indeed have a light in us, of love and of hope. Read this book with care. Pray as you read it. Pray before you open it. Praise God as you finish it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

well, it's been fun, but ...

I really haven't blogged for awhile here, but today seems like a good day just to write something. My F150 took a nosedive, blowing the #3 sparkplug, the mechanic fixed it, but it blew again the next day. The mechanic isn't giving my money back, so I have to file complaints. I'm up a crick without a paddle as far as taking them to court because the State of MI says that if the repair wasn't under warranty, the minute I drove off the premises it was all me. I can, however, file a complaint with them, and they'll investigate, and I can file a complaint with the BBB, and this mechanic already has a #4 rating with them. I don't think either will do much good.

So, I've been driving my parent's 2000 Chevy Venture mini-van, and hating every minute, but it did get me around. I hadn't vacuumed out the back of it yet, and I'd had straw in there, on top of three feed bags, so it really shouldn't have too much loose straw floating around back there. There is a package of 6 cinnamon rolls which I'm certain are going south real quick now. I left them there Thursday when Chris and I took off for St. Ignace (wonderful 4-day trip, by the way). Monday, the doggone thing overheated on me. I was 3.5 hours late for work. I stayed at work until about 8:30pm after going to Kellie's basketball game. Then we picked up Chris and were home by about 9:30. It was an awful day. I did learn that there was a little plastic piece that broke off a hose that caused it to overheat. Tuesday (yesterday), the mechanic called me and said that the head gasket had been blown. Well, that's just lovely. I gardened last night. I planted the stuff I bought over Labor Day weekend and pulled weeds. The goats were happy to eat them.

This morning, we were all up at around 5am (Luke loved it as he had been trying to get me out of bed since 4:30am - he's our German Shepherd and thinks that the earlier he can get his breakfast, the happier we'll all be). Chris and I did chores together. The abcess by one of our chicken's eye seems to be going down. We'll see. She's an older hen. I digress. I might not make it to church on Sunday as Chris has to work. However, I might be able to check out a few vehicles on Saturday and run some errands -- like grocery shopping! Ew. Grocery shopping on Saturday is probably the worst. We'll see. I may have a couple of pickups to look at as well. It's been a lot of fun trying to get our ride situation together (note the sarcasm - and if you don't read it over again until you do).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Book!

I just read Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson with Susy Flory sent to me courtesy of BookSneeze. I have to say this was the first book I've ordered to review that I was looking forward to reading. I've done two others, but I wasn't as excited to read them as I was this book. I was antsy with anticipation! This book didn't disappoint. Michael Hingson reveals a remarkable life, even if he wasn't blind. His dog, Roselle, proved to be an equally remarkable participant in this story. She aided in keeping people calm as they descended the tower, and stayed on the job, keeping Michael and his co-worker/business partner safe as they traveled away to safety during the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

I highly recommend this book as it is inspirational, uplifting and full of hope. This attack was probably one of the most frightening moments in our nation's history. If Michael made it through the turmoil, then we can make it through our own lives' problems with God's help. This is a crazy-amazing story of a man and his dog, a dog afraid of thunderstorms, but when on the job, fearless and calming to all those around them. Read this book. It will not only give you an insider's look to what was going on in the World Trade Center after the evacuation started, but it will give you an insight into the life of Michael Hingson and the obstacles he has overcome to become a business owner and inspirational speaker.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

July was a LONG Month

Our two baby goats were killed by the heat a couple of weeks ago. It's been a hard pair of deaths to take. My husband dug a nice big hold by one of our pines and we burried them together. It was very sad.

I need to update you on the rest of the goings on at Decker's Acres. We acquired 3 Blue Slate poults a couple of weeks ago. They were over a month old then. I only paid $4 each for them, I'm quite sure it's because it was the start of fair week. We didn't get much for our chickens then either, but oh, well. We moved the entire flock of birds to the garage part of the barn and set up a temporary nursery for them. We'll probably do this next spring when we hatch more, and they grow. I need to clip their wings again, but other than that they are doing great. I picked up 4 Red Bourbon poults from another farm. They were just hatched over this past weekend. They are in the box, growing. They are way too little to go in with the bigger birds.

I've canned quite a bit so far: strawberry jam, cherry jam and blueberry jam. I have to do more blueberry jam tonight as we are on vacation next week and shouldn't let the blueberries go bad.

I also got 3 gallon-size freezer bags of purple beans blanched and frozen. We've eaten a bunch as well. I need to get more planted before we take a vacation as well. The tomatoes are starting to make nice big green fruit and when we return from camping, I'll have to start canning those, along with a bushel of peaches I'll have to buy. My carrots and onions aren't doing as well, but that's my fault - there are so many insanely tall weeds out there! In getting my back garden in, I let the front one go to weeds and it is just a little insane. On another note, I should have plenty of pumpkins this year! I'm not sure what I'll be doing with all them, but the crop is looking so much better than last year! You gotta love goat poop!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eee Iii Eee Iii Ooo

A little snippet of my chores duty as of this morning ... after having 2 little does born yesterday, buying 2 adult does and about 25 chickens (about 13 of which are roosters) ...

Get up and throw some barn clothes on
Grab scoop of cat food
Go to chicken coop and get the chickie water and the chicken water

Then I take a walk around the garden to the barn

See how my tomatoes and beans are growing?
Then it is off to feed Juno and take care of the goats

After I water the goats and give them sweet feed and hay, I get to drop water off back by the chickens and deposit the scoop for the cat food back in its bag and get in the shower to go to work!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Goat Grandma Again ...

We have 2 new baby goats born to Naomi! She had a false pregnancy early this spring (think February). Then Freddie got hold of her again, and wa-la! Out pop two kids today! I can't wait to go home this evening after work and see them! This is all so exciting! I told Chris she was preggers! He didn't believe it. Last night he finally conceded that she might actually be pregnant. Well, she's not anymore! Pictures WILL follow tomorrow!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Final Summit - Andy Andrews

I finished reading The Final Summit, courtesy of Booksneeze, a week and a half ago. It has taken me a bit of time to decide what kind of review to write for this book. I enjoyed reading it, but I don't think it was my cup of tea. I enjoyed the historical content and the ideas that were gained to try to solve the riddle that would save humanity, but I just didn't care much for the overall storyline. I suppose I expected more adventure. However, the main character, David Ponder, is seventy-four years young, and he is a very successful businessman, well-liked by his employees and peers. The arch-angel Gabriel then asks David to help save humanity, and he joins with a multitude of characters from history as they strive to answer the question on what will save the world. Apparently, this is a sequel, but I was able to read this book without ever having read the previous. I did feel that I missed out on a little of information, but this book covers that well. I did feel that as the story progressed, it was a bit predictable. I mean, if you are half-way through, you know that the answer they've come up with at this point isn't going to be correct. I did learn a few things about some of the historical figures that are highlighted in the book such as Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Eric Erickson. In that, this kept my interest. Without those stories of the historical characters, however, I don't think I'd have read much further than the first couple of chapters. A worthy read for anyone who likes snippets of history peppered through a fictional book.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strawberry Jam

I don't know if I over boiled the sugar and strawberries, but I guess we'll find out later this week. I only came away with 3 pints, when according to the recipe, I should have been able to get four. Oh, well. The jam is a dark red, rather than the lighter red. I just hope the jam doesn't end up getting totally hard! It was really hard to tell if I'd reached the gelling point, and I don't have a candy thermometer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Baby Chickies Over the Weekend!

Chickies started bursting forth out of their shells Saturday morning at 3:17am! Chris and I heard tweets at midnight when we went to bed Friday night, but we didn't see anything. At around 3am, the tweets seemed to have gotten louder! A dark little Ameracauna was greeting us! Then another at just after 5am! How exciting! By 9am Saturday, we hadn't received any more visitors, but knew that more would be coming. We had to leave for the U.P. for a wedding at 2pm in St. Ignace. We spent a wonderful two days traveling, visiting 7 State Parks and deciding on two that we would check out online for reservability. My friend, Michelle, who was farm-sitting for us, kept us abreast of what was going on in the incubator. Saturday evening we had four more. By the time we arrived home there were nine total. Eight were ready for their new temporary home in a bin out in the chicken coop. Chris is so smart - he just put the bin right in the brooder box with the marans and wellsummers. I had stopped to pick up some paper towel to line the bottom of the bin with, and we set eight chickies up with a dish of water and some food put in a plastic lid. This morning I put the ninth one in. There was a tenth one all wet and just hatched in the incubator yet, and I heard more chirping coming! Exciting times!

I also took a couple pictures of the marans and the welsummers - you can see just how fast they've grown!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Look what I built!

I finished the brooder box last night. We now have happy, not overly hot chickies! And they have 5'x2' to run around in! I suppose if you are in the market for a brooder box, I could take an order, and in a week's time, I could have one built for you! It would only cost you $100. Anyway, take a look at my box and my chickies (we lost one yesterday - a wellsummer - he/she was found drowned in the waterer. Bleh! Hopefully this box will keep the chickies happier and healthier. They are definitely not overcrowded. Oh, and at Alex's house, they successfully hatched eighteen chickies! Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I didn't tell you what transpired on Sunday! Church was great! Then after, Kellie and I picked up some Chinese food, watched a Little House, made an Angel Food Cake and went outdoors to work on the back garden. I think it is finally pretty much finished. I was able to till out quite a bit. Kellie was instructed to use a shovel and square off my corners and shore up the edges, which she did on Monday, while I was at work. She got that done and so much more! I'm so happy! I'm going to have to give her next week off! We'll see. When I got out of work, I got gas, stopped at Menards and walked around the outside of the place before I found two 2"x4"x10' pieces of pre-treated lumber. I stopped by GFS and said hi to Chris and picked up salsa and chicken. It was even on sale! Then I hurried home and planted my squash, cucumber pickles, pumpkins and even four rows of corn! Kellie agreed that we had a bit of time to work on the brooder box and we got the entire bottom done and the whole frame! Tonight I'm going to add chicken wire and build the lid and get our chickies into it. I also have to make a little brace on the inside for a separator to keep the smallest chickies that should hatch this weekend away from the bigger chickies for a few days. Then they can all be together in a nice, roomy space!

Below are pictures of my back garden. By the end of summer I should have it tilled to the hill way in the background. We're moving the entire garden out there, and it will be huge! Probably the biggest garden I've had in my life! I'll have to mow down the tall grass. It's a real pain to till that. It should be three times what it is now, at least twice the size of my regular garden by the coop and the back garden combined. The teepees are for the squash and the pickling cucumbers to climb up. I'm trying to conserve some room here. Of course the pumpkins are planted by the corn (learned that tip from something Abraham Lincoln wrote), and they will sprawl and crawl everywhere.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Chickies!!!

No, my incubator eggs didn't hatch in a week's time - they are still sitting perfectly still in the incubator. Saturday was way too wet to rototill the back garden ... no, that's not done yet! ... so I headed down to the auction. They even had pot-bellied pigs for sale this day! They had a couple of boxes of turkey chicks, so I stuck around. Chris had wanted me to bid on a huge roll of chicken wire, but when the price went over $20, I stopped. I did place a $1 bid on a small roll of 2x4" welded wire, and "won" that. No one else bid against me. I seem to do well when I open the bid. There were a variety of maran chicks and even a box of wellsummer chicks. A guy was bidding on every variety of dark brown egg layer there, but I won the wellsummer chicks at $1 apiece. I then asked the guy if I could trade six of my wellsummers for six of his cuckoo marans, and he said sure - so now, under a light in a big bin in the newly cleaned out chicken coop, I have six wellsummers and six cuckoo marans. I hope I get a at least half in hens. It would be nice if they all were, but I'm sure they haven't yet been sexed and are straight run. I also think the marans are older.

Friday, June 10, 2011

More Berries Today - Bob did his job!

I picked about 3 cups of berries last night. Not a single berry had a bird bite in it. My half a scarecrow did its job!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

1st Strawberries

The usual haul

Monday, June 6, 2011


This past weekend came and went like a whirlwind! Friday I had to leave work because my mind was just totally blown, and I could not function any longer. My thoughts were a mess, and rather than spoil any ads, I thought it best I just leave. I picked Kellie up from her trip to Chicago. The bus was a half hour late, and I met Chris at home. We ate grilled hot dogs outside on the deck. Chris and I candled all the eggs in the incubator and took out 6 that didn't look like they had any in them. I was correct on 5. The other did have a little chickie in it, but I cut short his/her life. Sorry! Saturday I was able to sleep in a little. Then it was off to drop Kellie at a friends house because she had a Girl Scout event at Blandford Nature Center to do some cleanup and volunteer work. I received a phone call from someone inquiring about little Evan, our last pygmy goat to be sold. I already had someone who said he'd call me in the morning, so I had to tell the guy that I'd call him if this other guy didn't call. I phoned someone I'd seen on Craigslist that had free blackberry bushes, and I dug up several and brought them home. The other guy didn't call about the goat, so I called the one that called in the morning and told him that Evan was his. He was excited and said he'd phone me when he'd be able to come out and get him. I told him I had to leave for the day at 3pm. He was fine with that. I stopped at the auction to see if they had any fertilized turkey or maran eggs, but no luck. They did have some blue maran chicks, but we're not ready for chicks yet. We have 2 weeks to put together a brooding box out in the coop, and move the freezer and the other junk out of that shed. I planted my blackberry canes and watered them well (However, they look as if they are dying now - but that's to be expected. They'll com back with a vengeance. I've planted berries like this with far less roots and had them come back well.). I started pulling out the large weeds from what will be our main vegetable garden out back. The guy who was getting Evan called and said he'd be over by two. I had our goats out in the backyard and was just bringing them back to their pen when he pulled in the driveway with his family. I was dirty and sweaty and apologized for my presence. I caught Evan and traded him for $65 and said good-bye. Then it was off to the shower to get pretty for a graduation party and a Whitecaps game. The Whitecaps won, but Kellie was the only one of us who really paid attention to what was going on. Sunday's praise and worship time was FANTASTIC!!! It was so much fun playing music like that!!! We really had it together, and I'm sure it's because of all the additional prayer! Wally's message hit home. Kellie and I stopped to get Chris some ice cream, and we also got some milk. We stopped at Subway and headed home. We brought the goats to the backyard again and after eating and resting a bit, we headed off to the back garden. With prayer, I was able to rototill a nice-sized section, but I'm only about half done. Hopefully, this week i'll have it nicely tilled and retilled and tilled again and ready to plant by next Sunday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

killing the birds ...

Last night when I returned home after working for nearly 11 hours, I didn't remember that the chickens were in the backyard when I let the dogs out. Kayleigh killed one chicken, right out, biting it's belly and scaring it to death. I felt so bad! Luke actually had nothing to do with it as he was on the deck waiting for his dinner. I'm not sure if Harley had a hand in it, however. I checked the rest of the birds after disposing of the dead chicken by putting it out in the swamp, and they seemed ok. Speckles was a little sluggish. Well, this morning I found Speckles dead. She had received too much of a shock. I'm not really enjoying today. We're down to 12 hens, now.

On a positive spin, my beans went from nothing showing on Wednesday to being 3 inches tall yesterday! What a wonder!

Been seeing does and fawns and even bucks in the field regularly. It's quite a sight!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Will Have Chickies!

I candled a few eggs last night while turning them. Two of the five I candled I could easily see a small red blob with red veins coming out and going around the yellow yolk. I'm now getting excited! We did let these eggs sit for a week before putting them in the incubator. We'll see how many come to fruition. Chris candled a few more later and we found that most had at least a red blob with veins. Exciting times at Decker's Acres!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Frustrated with the Rain

I tried to rototill my back garden (which will become my entire vegetable garden next year), and I ran into huge problems with moisture and huge puddles. There would be no rototilling this yet. Oh, my squash and pumpkins are going to be planted late, but I hope that doesn't hurt anything. I hope I still end up with a good crop even if I can't get it in until Sunday. I feel like I am planting so late! I didn't count on this and squash and pumpkins and pickles don't transplant well. We'll see. The main garden is planted, but I'd like a few more tomatoes. I'm not sure where I'd put them, however. Strawberry crop looks good so far. I haven't been looking for slugs, yet. Probably should.

We started some fertilized eggs Sunday morning, but they've been sitting for a week. I'm not sure if we'll get anything out of them, but they are started. We're now looking for lumber and chicken wire to build a turkey coop. I guess that's the next critter on our to get list. We'd like to be able to start making a little money off our farm. We'll more than likely go from turkeys to pheasants to peacocks. Welcome to Decker's Acres - the growing farm aviary!

Bruce was sold on Sunday. I think he's going to a good home. They seemed pleasant enough people.

Neighbors haven't planted our back 6 yet. I wonder if they'll be doing that this weekend yet. If so, I'd like to see if they could disc up my back garden for me. It would at least give me a start.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This is my first review of a book that I have read through BookSneeze. Unlike what I usually read, MacArthur is a non-fiction biography. Having had two grandfathers that served during World War II, I thought this would be an insightful read. Little did I know exactly how much I would learn about the growing wild west, about West Point, about the Phillippines and the Pacific Theatre of WWII. I'm not saying there were oodles of details given about all of this, but in reading about one man's experiences throughout it all, I gained a new perspective about these historical times.

The book encompasses Douglas MacArthur's illustrious military career beginning with the service of his grandfather and ending with the end of MacArthur's career in the Korean War. It was an easy read, and when I finished, I was inspired to try to learn more about my grandfather's service in the Pacific (one grandfather served in Europe while the other was a signalman in the Navy and served in the Pacific). I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in WWII and/or Douglas MacArthur. Complete with photos that are wisely placed at the ends of each section of MacArthur's life, and drawing off Douglas MacArthur's own memoirs, Reminiscences, MacArthur paints a fairly accurate of MacArthur's service with the American military.

Friday, May 27, 2011

tonight ...

We're getting an incubator tonight!!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ah, well ...

I ended up not doing any of what I posted earlier ... ended up at church after all and helped Wally with the sound and worked in the library for a bit ... until tomorrow!


I'm planting some potatoes tonight in bins. I'm digging up some of the chicken coop dirt and putting that at the bottome, then some straw and then I will nestle some seed potatoes amid the straw. I'm looking forward to seeing how this all works over the summer. Last year's potato crop was awful. With this method, I shouldn't even have to dig them up - just remove the straw. I'm also hoping to plant my tomatoes and peppers and hang my baskets. I have three baskets that have put out some flower plants. We'll see how they continue to grow with the elements. All of my stuff has been able to get cold ... oh, this reminds me - I need to text my husband to open up the door of the little greenhouse so my plants don't get too hot! oops! ... anyway ... get cold because my 4-shelf greenhouse is outdoors and subject to the elements out there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

before the rain

I was able to get a little bit of gardening done last night. The seed-started greens (romaine and spinach) are now in their row in the garden. Kellie transplated onions that we had picked up from a food truck that had really sprouted. We'll see how they go. I have them planted in the middle of the row between the 2 rows of onions. I was able to get more pea seeds planted before it started to downpour. I guess we didn't practice safe gardening because there was a bit of thunder and lightning. All the rain was over in a couple of hours, and I was very tempted to get really dirty, but I read for awhile instead.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wonderful Weekend

No gardening was done ... but it was still a wonderful weekend. I was able on Saturday to deliver a goat to a horse farm in Lowell. It was a wonderful trip taken at first with the back roads, but then later by highway. This farm is at a beautiful location with 2 very large ponds and amazing rolling hills. BEAUTIFUL! I was able to wash the chicken smell off my hands (I took 6 chickens to the auction on my way out), and replace the soapy smell with that of horse. Oh, what an amazing scent! Then, I had to shop for a few things, and as it was getting late, I picked up some fried chicken from the grocery store for our lunch. It is so delicious. I stopped by the auction, but they hadn't yet made it to the poultry - only one auctioneer. The chicken refreshed us (me and the kids - Chris was out getting the summer sermons ready with our pastor and 2 others). I ran out to the auction one more time and found Chris. We both went home. I had cleaning to do. He was able to eat and take a nap. When that was over at around five pm, he stopped back down at the auction and found out we made $17.50 on the 6 chickens. That's not bad at all considering two of them didn't lay worth anything. I think we may rotate our chickens with the auction in the future. It makes for a quick sale.

My friend Heidi came for a visit. I hadn't seen her in around fifteen years! We had a wonderful visit and thoroughly enjoyed the steaks on the grill and twice micro-baked potatoes and brownies topped with Hudsonville's strawberry chocolate chunk ice cream. She stayed until about 11pm.

Sunday, Chris preached. He did such a fantastic job! I can't express how wonderful it is to hear your husband preach at church! It was a great experience. And he did such a good job! He has some pretty wonderful guys that he works with who were able to give him plenty of advice and tips and helped shape his sermon. I'm looking forward to his next experience!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

2 days off makes a 4-day weekend!

I just thought I'd write and let you all know what a person likes me does with a four-day weekend! Thursday, I made my daughter breakfast and packed her lunch and brought her to school. Chris was out turkey hunting. I had breakfast and read my Bible. It was so nice to have plenty of time to do just that. Then I spent some time reading "the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". It was nice to just relax. Of course I did chores. That is something that has to be done every day. Chris wanted to go to lunch, but before we went to lunch, we purchased 10 bales of straw (off craigslist). Lunch was great! New Beginnings always has a reasonably priced meal, whether it be breakfast or lunch. Then, we brought the straw home and stacked it in the barn. After that was done, it was off to Countryside Greenhouse where we purchased an Elberta Peach tree and a Bing Cherry tree. I really wanted a Montmorency Cherry, which would give me a sour cherry, but we'll work on getting that at a later date. We had to pick Kellie up from school and then we stopped at the hospital to see Chris' mom who had some surgery.

Friday started pretty similar to Thursday with making Kellie's lunch and breakfast and doing chores. When Chris returned from hunting, we decided it was a good time to clean out the goat pen. I swear we hauled out 50 loads of pooh-infested matted straw! It all went out to the back garden. I'm hoping to be able to amend the soil. Eventually the entire garden will be back there and we'll fence it in. With all this crap laid out on it, the soil should improve this summer. The regular garden will be built up and turned into more of the chicken coop. This should all work rather well. Today, I made waffles and bacon for breakfast. It was so good! Later we worked on getting the bird feeders and the birdhouses up and ready to be inhabited by bluebirds and others. We had a Double JJ adventure to go to with Girl Scouts. That was fun, but I'm tired and sore, now. Tomorrow should be a lot of work and a lot of fun. We have church to look forward to, and I have to paint during service. It should be quite a different experience.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kellie Runs!

Kellie runs cross country!

Goats and Chickens, Oh my!

Saturday we (the whole family) went to the Ravenna auction. They have one every Saturday. It's a big junk, plant, rabbit and chicken sale. We had to pick up some fertilized eggs because Alex's mom bought an incubator and is going to have Alex's little sisters turn the eggs and watch the chicks hatch. First, we bought 4 more Barred Rock hens at $3.50/each. Then, after a very, very long wait, we picked up 2 dozen mixed eggs and learned that most of the eggs were Ameraucana, a couple of them were brown and 2 of them were Marans (dark dark brown). The cost was a grand total of $1.20. We also bid on 9 turkey eggs and got them for $4.10! If all hatch and survive their young months, we could make some good money selling the turkeys and male chickens. If we get a male and female turkey, we are going to keep a pair. We did get some bad news, however. It seems that the incubator was a little defective and may have over-cooked the eggs. We'll know in a couple of weeks.

That afternoon, we let the chickens out, and then we brought the goats to the backyard. It was pretty fantastic!
Group eating

Mama Lily and Bruce


Bruce and younger cousin Evan

Red in the mud

Besties Brian and Ginger


Red still in the mud


Barnyard in the Backyard!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Snow ...

Yes, it has been snowing. First there was snow Saturday evening, but it didn't accumulate. Today, there are 2 inches of the dreaded (it is April 18) white stuff outside of the building here at work. It is just depressing!!! On a brighter note, it was kind of nice yesterday. I got 4 solar lights put into the posts at the gates of our backyard fence. It looks cool! Definitely better than a tiki torch that could torch the entire thing! I purchased a weeping willow tree and we planted that yesterday as well. Harley went through a little bit more farm-dog-in-training. Kayleigh is an old pro at being a farm dog. She sticks right to your side when outside the fence. I'd like to be able to let Harley out as well and not worry about her getting into too much mischief.