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We have a Wolf Scout! May 31, 2006

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Tonight was the official cross-over ceremony for our Cub Scout pack. A cross-over is something like a graduation ceremony. It’s when the Scouts are promoted to the next level in Scouting. Benjamin crossed over from being a Tiger Scout to being a Wolf Scout.

The ceremony concludes a year of activities and electives that must be completed by the Scout and his family. Activities include things like going to a radio station, making a craft, and helping to change the smoke alarm batteries (or in our case actually putting up smoke alarms). During the ceremony, the Scout is awarded a badge for his accomplishments. But there’s one final twist – literally; the badge is pinned on the Scout up side down and it must remain up side down until he does a good deed. The good deed is determined by his mother. However, rather than turning the badge up side down, the Scout is turned up side down.
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The Cousins Three May 23, 2006

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Baby Kay spent the day with us one day last week. Here's a cute photo op of the cousins.

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Peanuts and Cracker Jacks May 22, 2006

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Here’s a picture of me standing on 3rd base, waving to my number 1 fan. I’ll give you a hint – she’s a really cute little 4 year old.

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A slow paced life May 21, 2006

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A couple of days ago while Laura was working in the garden that we call the corn field, she found an interloper en route from a neighbor’s pond to our ponds. Even though he is a snapping turtle and not a box turtle, she carried him back to the house and placed him in a box for safe keeping.

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After showing him to the kids and me, we decided that he should not be allowed to relocate himself to our ponds; I’m sure we have more than our fair share of turtles down there anyway. So I carried him about a mile away and set him free in a small stream that crosses Gossett Road. Even at his maximum speed, we won't see him again for a few months.P1010012.JPG


The Raingutter Regatta May 15, 2006

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P1010017.JPGFor the past few weeks, Benjamin and I have been working on our latest Cub Scout project, the Raingutter Regatta. For the uninitiated, the Raingutter Regatta is another father-son craft project where you start with some raw materials and work together to create the best model you can. It’s similar to the Pinewood Derby we did last fall and to the Shuttle Race we did earlier this year.

Starting with little more than a block off balsa wood, you carve, shape, and fashion your diamond-in-the-rough to look as much like a boat as you can. A little sandpaper and and a lot of imagination go a long way, here.

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Then you add a mast, sail, keel, and rudder. When you are satisfied with your design, you add a couple of coats of paint and some enamel to keep the boat from taking on water. When it’s completed, you take it to the competition to see how you fare against the other father-son duos.

As the name implies, each Scout places their boat in a raingutter that has been filled with water (after it has been detached from the house, of course). Unlike the Pinewood Derby (which is gravity powered) and the Shuttle Race (which is powered by rubberbands), the Raingutter Regatta boats are 100% powered by the breath of Scouts. It’s a great competition! At the sound of the gun (or in our case the sound of the Scout Master counting to three) the Scouts start huffing and puffing to empower their vessel down the makeshift river. You’d be amazed at how much hot air can come out of a 7 year old!

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Benjamin and I created a Pirate’s ship. I helped with the sanding and gluing, but the rest was up to him.

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Out of the approximately 12 boats we finished in the middle of pack. Our ship just didn’t want to stay on course and kept bumping into the sides of the raingutter. But, for the third time in as many competitions, Benjamin’s craft was voted in the top 3 best looking! The Pinewood creation came in second place while his Shuttle took top prize!

He was happy, but most importantly we got to do it together.
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Fluffy Yellow Fanny Follow-Up May 14, 2006

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Remember that poor chick whose mother abandoned it? Some people have asked whatever became of it, so I thought I’d post an update.

Some friends from church came to visit with their children a few days ago. The kids promptly fell in love with the little darling and begged to take it home. Since these folks have a farm, too, and were interested in getting more chickens, they took it home with them. I am happy to report that this chick seems to have been adopted by a fluffy yellow fanny of theirs who was childless. Everything has turned out well.

White Trash? May 13, 2006

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Here is a study in sociology for you- do kids raised in a “trashy environment” grow up to be thugs? Or will they be able to rise above their mean surroundings and go on to do great things- pull themselves up by their spurs so to speak?

My mother-in-law Becky and I moved this White Rock hen down to the chick nursery/barn stall at a time when both the other 2 brooding coops were in use. Last year, a hen had chosen this clean empty trash can in which to rear her young when it blew over, so I decided to give it another try. Becky held the flashlight while I carried the angry broody to her new location, all the while telling her what a good mama she’d be and how she’d like this private room better anyway.

Once she saw that beautiful clutch of a dozen eggs nestled in the cedar shavings, she quit muttering under her breath and soon fluffed herself over them. Her eggs were a combination of White Faced Black Spanish and Sicilian Buttercups that I had shipped from a breeder in AL.

The White Faced Black Spanish is kind of self-explanatory, but very striking in appearance. The Sicilian Buttercup roosters, though, grow a round crown-like comb I’ve heard described as looking like a Reeses peanut butter cup. Can’t wait to see them develop! I hope we HAVE some roosters in the bunch (the hens don’t grow these fancy combs but possibly could pass the trait on to their male offspring).

Before bed on Wednesday night, I could see a discarded shell and a tiny foot sticking out from under Mama’s downy chest. Thursday morning, two Buttercup babies were tottering
around her, but she hadn’t gotten up from the eggs yet. Friday morning, I went out to check on them and feed them. Mama was out of her trash can and I could see that every one of them had hatched. Sadly, one seemed to have been stepped on accidentally and had died.

It’s strange that I’m not broken up about unhatched eggs, but this lost little one, just on the verge of life on the outside of the shell, really got to me. It doesn’t cause me undue upset to “process” our adult birds now, but maybe that’s in part because they tend to be the surplus roosters that are harassing the hens, and so no one misses them. Somehow this loss felt personal for me and I cried over it. So close to Mother’s Day, maybe what bothered me is that it just seemed to parallel our own loss of Daniel. But this Mama had 11 left in her brood and wasted no time tending to them, focusing on the many for which she was responsible.

By today, they were all up and about, taking notes from Mama about what’s good to eat and swiping food out of each other’s beaks. Ah, sibling rivalry!

The Penedesenca bunch from the second yellow Mama are doing well. Two of them are already starting to disobey their mother. They totter off too far, occasionally slip through the chicken wire (and require rescuing by ChickenMama), and won’t take naps when she tells them to. They won’t even get in bed (under Mama). After dark, I have to walk down to the barn/chick nursery and put them up in the brooding coop with the rest so they won’t chill. I’m thinking that these little rebels are going to be trouble.

Here are some pictures of adult White Faced Black Spanish from Feathersite.

An adult Sicilian Buttercup strutting his stuff and a juvenile with a tiny “crown”.

Somebody’s 7 May 12, 2006

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Benjamin has been counting the days for a couple of weeks now and finally it came yesterday- his birthday. He was serenaded by several relatives and got a day out of school- it was shaping up to be a pretty good day even before he opened his presents.

At lunch, Mommy let Benjamin and Rachel have pizza Lunchables, complete with “dessert pizza” while having a carpet picnic.


For supper, we had Benjamin’s favorite meal- Build Your Dinner. The basic idea is that you get anything that you can stick a toothpick into and use your imagination to construct something and then eat it. The kids chose from hard-boiled eggs, pickles, mini-tomatoes, carrots, squares of cheese, thick banana slices, and so on. Benjamin created a dinosaur. Rachel made a “rock star” but ate it before I got a picture. Here she is holding a set of barbells.

Benjamin got phone calls from LOTS of people wishing him a happy birthday, many cards, and some really fun presents. They broke out the water toys as soon as the sun was shining! Thanks to everyone who made it a great day for him.

Easter Chicks Gone Bad May 9, 2006

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I found this posting on a homesteading website and it really made me smile. Sounds like something I could have written (except that all OUR chickens are well-behaved 🙂 ).


http://www.homestead.org/SheriDixon/EasterChicksGoneBad.htm

Cheep! Cheep! May 7, 2006

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Hooray! A good hatch!

After 21 days of patient “setting,”this next Buff Orpington was rewarded with 8 new downy fuzzballs. They began emerging Saturday night and, by Sunday afternoon, 8 of the 12 eggs she had beneath her had hatched out. (I couldn’t see any Saturday evening, but I could hear the squeaks and chirrs coming from underneath her).

I love the “angry eyebrows” she’s got in this picture! “Don’t mess with my young’uns!”

I am hopeful that this mama will turn out to be a better mother than the last one. Once her hatched ones began tottering about, she took them out to feed them and get them their first drink of water. She seems very protective of them, too- good sign.

Did you know that just before hatching out, a baby chick absorbs the remainder of its yolk? This allows it to survive for up to 3 days without food or water.

When a hen goes broody and is left to her own devices, she typically lays for several days in the hidden spot she wants to brood, then stops laying. Since the first egg may be a couple days older and warmed a day or two longer than the last, it may hatch that long before the others. Having its yolk as a food source for a while keeps it from starving or dehydrating before the last ones emerge.

These chicks are not actually this chicken’s offspring. These are Penedesencas, a Spanish breed that lays chocolate-colored eggs. (The varieties of shell colors just make my heart go “pitty-pat!”). We didn’t have any of these so I purchased the fertile eggs from a breeder and had them shipped (very carefully!).

Chickens are pretty good about hatching whatever you put beneath them. We are planning to let the next broodies set heritage breed turkey eggs for us. Can’t wait!


This a photo of the color eggs these Partridge and Wheaton Penedesencas will lay from one of my favorite websites.