A Story of Springtime Chicks.

April 28, 2011

Over the past couple of years, we have introduced new chicks to our original group of "ladies" and each time it goes over....not so fantastic.  The old ones are really mean to the younger ones.  Like mean in ways I don't want to tell you about because you may not like chickens so much anymore.  But I guess "pecking order" and "hen-pecked" are more than just old cliches.  We decided to take matters into our own hands and breed a few (supposedly chickens are more likely to be accepting of baby chicks that are their own).

Step one: get a rooster.  Obviously.  We got one a few months back from our friend Eric the Bee Guy (i.e. he helps B with the bees from time to time, a real character, physicist Hindu yoga at 4 a.m. guy, someone who really deserves his own post....but I digress).  The rooster was instantly beloved by our family.  We have never named any of the chickens (although they are beloved as well), but the kids started calling him Rocky right away and it just stuck.  Rocky was very sweet.  He didn't pick on the hens (as I guess many roosters do), he didn't crow at crazy early hours (we didn't think so anyway), and he really completed the whole coop community down there.  Very handsome too, that Rocky.

Now, you probably noticed I have been referring to Rocky in the past tense and that is never a good sign.  But it's probably not what you're thinking (coyote, fox, dog, etc.).  No, a neighbor didn't like the crowing so we had to get rid of him pronto.  Good neighbors first, chicken keepers second.  I must admit, I shed a tear or two the day our gardener took Rocky away.  We were afraid to ask what his future would be, but B is pretty sure he is living on a nice property somewhere up in Escondido with no neighbors to bother.  Fingers crossed.

Since it was springtime, we figured some of the eggs would be fertilized and potentially ready to be hatched after a bit.  Unfortunately, none of our hens were very good "sitters" (I think I just read the kids a Beatrice Potter story about a chicken that was a bad "sitter," sound familiar?), so we had to take matters into our own hands.  Which means B ordered an incubator like this:

{are we serious or what?!}
We set it up in the guest bathroom right by B's office and put about 25 eggs in it. The kids turned the eggs several times a day (in theory anyway). They marked "x's" on one side of the eggs and "o's" on the other to know which way to turn them. B made a big chart with 21 days on it, and the kids would draw an "x" through a number each night. We all checked throughout the day to make sure the temperature was right at 100 degrees. It really was the ultimate at-home science experiment (homeschoolers, take note).

About 18 days in, B was home alone, sitting at his desk and heard the tiniest "peep peep peep" and a little tapping. Sure enough a little crack appeared shortly thereafter in one of the eggs, and then another, and then another. Luckily, the kids and I got home in time to see several of the baby chicks push their way out of those shells. It was amazing. As B says, "they go from breakfast to a living creature in 18 days?!" I'm kind of crazy about watching or reading about any birth (as you know), but I was surprised how moving it was to see a little feathered creature find it's way out of a shell. Charlie informed us that baby chicks have an "egg tooth" that is there just to help it crack the shell and then disappears within a couple of weeks. Gotta love those Charlie tid-bits.

Here's what a seconds old baby chick looks like. Kinda dinosaur-like:

After a couple of minutes, the kids got to move the chicks over to the "nursery" that B had set up (a plastic box with a heat lamp, some food and water). The chicks almost immediately fluffed up like this:
{it really doesn't get cuter than this, does it?}
Thirteen hatched. Two didn't survive. We are told this was statistically a very, very good outcome. I was still pretty upset by the two that didn't make it. I could never make it on a real farm.

As you can imagine, the kids are over the moon. They slept downstairs in the guest room for almost a week to be close to the chicks and to be able to check on them first thing in the morning. Take a look at them going crazy for these tiny birds:

{sweet little chick face, plus two sweet daughter faces}
{i love the expression on her face...and don't worry, she's not squishing it!}
{mr. careful}
{she holds them so expertly, and they are very content in her hands}
{showing the chicks to her curious baby sister}
{smiles all around}
{a closer look}
{daddy thought it was cute to put the chicks on the girls' heads; little e isn't quite sure what to think}
{c-man had just made this bird feeder at school...he sawed oped a coconut, sanded the wood, nailed it together, yadda waldorf yadda....it was perfect for the chicks!}
{a girl and her free-range chicks}

Pretty cool, eh??  :-)

Update on the Juj.

April 20, 2011

{a stolen photo of miss jujee on a play date with her friend benjamin}
So much to fill you in on with this little lady.  She has come so far since starting school back in September. She was a shy, quiet one....determined that she wanted to go to school, but then hesitated everyday when B or I dropped her off.  She would cling to us, burying her head in our legs (never crying, however).  One day, on a (blessedly) quiet car ride to school, JuJu out of nowhere told B "I'm not going to be shy today, Da-ya."  We had never said boo to her about "working on being not shy."  We were fine with it.  But the little lady wanted to push herself and you know what?  She isn't shy at school anymore.  She chatters away with all of the kids (there are 13 in her class), and she comes home with stories about playing with all of them from time to time.  Her teacher tells us that she is one of the main "conversationalists" (if you can call a 3 year that) at snack and lunchtime.

{happy girl climbing trees}
It's funny, of the 3 kids, she was the latest talker, but this girl is the one with the gift of gab.  She will yammer on about almost anything, just wind her up and watch her go.  (Whereas C-Man is that thoughtful, every-word-carefully-chosen kind of talker.)  I find it especially cute listening to Juju because she can't say her "k's," "g's," or "r's."  I am trying to keep track of her special little language by writing lots of things down.  ;-)

{"chattering" on and on and on and on...}
She hates to have her picture taken which is a big fat bummer because darn it (and maybe I shouldn't say this), I think I like taking pictures of her most of all.  She has this wild spirit that intrigues me, and I just want to capture it with the camera!  But she just doesn't like having attention placed on her in any situation, really.  She will happily join group activities, but if you single her out, she resists.  Oh well.  I can still use the occasional bribe to get her to slow down for a quick snapshot or two.  I also steal them when she's distracted.  (These stolen photos are almost all the photos I have of her in a 2 month period!!)

This girl still loves collecting and caring for bugs and little animals.  Oh boy does she love her creatures.  Lately, it has been snails.  She has 31 right now in a plastic case that she takes to the park, around the yard, to friends' houses, and checks on first thing in the morning.  (I have to rush to turn off the alarm when we wake up because I know she's off to check on them right away.)  She is no priss.  Oh no.  She gets dirty, throws herself into messy work in the yard, and isn't afraid of much (remember the gopher trapping anecdote from the other day?).  She LOVES being outside.  One of my very favorite things is to spy on her when she's outside "chattering" (that's our word for what she does) away to herself (and the snails).

{thinking...snails perhaps?}
She takes awhile to warm up to, but once you're in with Jujee, you're in.  And let me tell you, it's so rewarding to be in with this girl.  You will never, I repeat never, meet a better snuggler...B and I fight over who gets to sit next to JuJu.  :-)  We've used a few different sitters over the past months and she resists them all at first, but she has bonded tightly with Anna and for that we are very thankful.  Once she's yours, she snuggles tightly in your lap, asks you to stay for a sleepover (which she has never had so I don't know why she always offers??), and will tell you all about her little life (and the snails, of course).  She has an edge, though, and if she doesn't know you yet, or if you are her mom and she doesn't like something she is being told, she can fire off a look that could kill.

{this is the look that could kill, if it wasn't obvious}

As I said the other day, she and C-Man bicker constantly and have been doing so for awhile now.  It is really heartbreaking at times.  But one thing that gives me hope is how sweet she (and C-Man) are to Little E.  She is gentle, patient, loving and so sweet with that baby....everything you would hope a big sister would be.
{our sweet middle child.  i love her so.}

An Absence and C-Man Update.

April 12, 2011

Hi there!  Remember me?  Is anyone even still out there?  I confess, with twitter, pinterest and instagram, blogging these days feels...like so much work.  Those others provide instant gratification!  (By the way, are you on twitter, pinterest or instagram?  Don't be a stalker, let's follow each other!)

You know the feeling of owing someone a phone call and the longer you wait, the harder it is to make the call?  That is how it has been for me and blogging.  So much to catch up on.  So hard to know where to start!  So maybe I will just dive in and update you on the kids.  (There are family and friends from real life who rely on this blog to get their C-Man and JuJu and Little E fixes.)
{proud, brave boy}
C-Man.  Such a big little man these days.  He is long, tall and lanky and it is freaking this mom out!  No more pudgy hands, chubby cheeks (well, maybe he still has those a little?  a mom can dream....), and big fat curls on the top of his head.  He lost his two bottom teeth.  After being very scared by a bad incident at the dentist about a year ago, he finally went again and was so, so very brave (and still no cavities, yay!).  He is obsessed with all things bees.  He loves to share bits of trivia about them and "rescue" bees that seem to need a little help (i.e. drowning in the pond).  He helped B harvest some honey just the other day and when he finally got the chance to try it, I asked him how it tasted.  "It is so good I can't even tell you, mama."  At school, we are told, he is one of the best participators in circle time (mostly with the singing), and he loves eurythmy (a dance and movement activity that is big in Waldorf) and all the handwork they do (knitting, sewing, felting, etc.).

He has been hanging out with an older boy at school lately and coming home with things like, "Did you know that when you are six you get a girlfriend?"  NONONO, no you don't, C-Man.  He continues to love telling his puppet shows, making everyone laugh, setting up "traps," tying knots, doing "science experiences," and what B and I call "word smithing" (he is the king of word games, rhyming, double meanings, etc.).  His teacher thinks he will be a Shakespearean actor.  ;-)
{funny man}
Here are a couple of C-Man-isms lately: he loves to go down to the garden and help B trap gophers.  He has to think it all out first though, natch.  "We need to first get a rock and tie a rope to it, make a pulley, hang it from the tree and lure the gopher out...." or something along those lines.  (Meanwhile, JuJu has a hoe and is rather violently hacking away at the holes in the ground trying to get the poor thing "by force.")  Then the other day: B was telling C-Man he will never be 2 or 3 or 4 ever again.  He is going to keep getting older and older.  "No I'm not, Da-ya.  When I die, I'm going to come back and do it all over again."  As matter of fact as can be.   "Who told you that???  A friend?  Someone at school?"  we implored....  "Nobody at all.  I just know it."  Hmmmmm.

He continues to be so especially sweet with Little E.  (He and JuJu bicker almost constantly and it is kinda sad.)  He is very patient with her, loves to tell us cute Little E stories, helps her down stairs, while eating, teaching her new words, etc.  He also has been especially cuddly with me, which is not typical.  He isn't the touchiest kid in the world (unlike JuJu who loves full body contact with mama as much as possible), so when he gives it out, I'll take it.

He is also one of the most disciplined kids I know.  Example: I give him a little teeny tiny chocolate bar as a treat (he loves nothing more than chocolate).  "Mama, can I have the whole thing?"  Yes, or you can save some for later if you'd like.  "I think I'll save some for later."  (Which he did, again natch.)  Then (telling JuJu): "When you really, really like something, it is better to take tiny bites so it lasts longer."  Also, as he sits down to dinner: "Mama, I like to eat what I don't prefer first and then eat my favorite thing last."  Who is this kid??

So, there you have it.  A little glimpse of my 5 year old little big boy.  I have JuJu and Little E updates and some more food posts coming up soon.  I have been cooking up a storm!
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