Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chicken Updates

It's been a while since I did a real chicken-centered post.   Our chicks have developed into 5 pullets and 3 cockerels, and we have the one old hen, which Malachi is holding.  Two of the cockerels are slated for the table soon.  They really only got a stay of execution because of having guests to focus on the last two weekends.  I don't think my sister and her girls would be visiting again if we harvested chickens in front of them!  And of course this past weekend, we celebrated Easter and had my inlaws here.  So the two cockerels that we have decided to eat soon gained a few extra weeks of life.  They definitely have to go soon, though, because the two of them are fighting over mounting the hens, and we don't want our hens getting hurt.

Here the chickens are enjoying the third yard.  The tree in the foreground is our peach tree - starting to bloom.  I do have hopes for peaches this year.  The chickens don't get to enjoy this yard as much as I'd like.  Since we've had so many problems with neighbor dogs, we only let them into this yard when some of us are outside, which means that gray, rainy days like today keep them from enjoying the fresh clovers and etc of this green yard.  I actually plant clover in this yard every year, because the chickens love it, and they eat it up.

All 5 of our pullets are laying eggs regularly.  We are thrilled to now be getting eggs every day.  We are averaging about 3 a day, and we expect that we will generally be getting 4 a day soon, once all of the new layers get regular.  Finally, I can depend on fresh eggs again!  We have tentative plans to buy more chicks next week (our spring break), because we would like a bigger flock and because I had told the kids we could get chicks this spring.  Plus, who am I kidding, I'm a sucker for more chicks.  I plan on getting straight runs so we get more roosters to eat, as well.  I've also toyed with the idea of getting some meat chickens.  The kids all love to eat chicken, and I can't really bring myself to buy factory farmed chicken meat, so we need to raise some more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review - Catch a Star by Tamika Catchings

Catch a Star: Shining through Adversity to Become a Champion

Catch a Star, by Tamika Catchings, is a brief autobiography of the Indiana Fever basketball star.  Tamika seems like the kind of person you would want as a friend: kind, hardworking, honest, and dedicated.  Her stories about growing up with hearing loss and bullying strike a chord, and the sincerity of her story is evident.  This book would not appeal very much to non-sports fans, though.  It is mostly about her basketball career, and how basketball and God helped her through tough times.  Fans and players of any sport will understand the role of basketball in Tamika's life, and her dedication to it.  It did seem like, as the story progressed to more recent years, that Tamika is much more willing to share her feelings on the court rather than real details of her life.  I enjoyed this book, but Tamika herself did seem to remain slightly out of reach.  That said, this book is a good read, and the message is a great one for teenagers, so I would really recommend this book for anyone with a teen who likes sports.  I also find that I suddenly would like to see an Indiana Fever game, after reading this!  (I've never been to any type of professional sporting event, just college ones.)

I received this book from publisher Revell for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!  Happy Easter, all!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review - A Fool and His Monet by Sandra Orchard

A Fool and His Monet: A Serena Jones Mystery (Serena Jones Mysteries)
A Fool and His Monet, by Sandra Orchard, lives up to the light-heartedness of the title while still being a suspenseful ride through FBI agent Serena Jones's case of two missing paintings.  The main character, Serena, is a young FBI agent eager to prove that she's a serious agent who can handle the job while secretly hoping to solve her own grandfather's cold murder case.  The story is told in first person, with lots of witty dialogue between interesting characters.  I often don't like when more than one character is vying for the main character's romantic attention, but in this book, it worked very well, and I enjoyed the interplay between Serena and her possible love interests.  Serena herself is an interesting character with integrity, and her ongoing thoughts throughout the book add to the fun.  Her family was a riot.  The characters may be a bit of a stereotype, with her mom just wanting grandkids and her aunt being a nosy wannabe sleuth, but they were so believable that I enjoyed them tremendously.  The story is fast-moving, with plenty of suspects in the art theft case and a few wrong turns.  I like the way the author intertwines Serena's work and home lives so seamlessly.  This book was funny and engaging and just a good read.  I recommend this book, and I look forward to the sequel.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Introducing Snowball and Bugs

We have two birthdays at the end of this month, and although it may be unusual, our nearly 7-year-old girl and nearly 13-year-old boy wanted the same thing.  What else, but bunnies:
Lydia with Snowball

Elijah with Bugs

We had a great weekend with my sister and her kids.  We even got in a zoo trip:

Monday, March 14, 2016

Food Production

We've got spring gardening going full-swing inside right now, and a bit outside as well.  I boiled off the last sap yesterday to add a pint to our total of syrup.  We got just one pint shy of a gallon this year.  Next year, we'll tap a few more trees, and hopefully have better sap running weather.
In the playroom, we've been starting seeds like crazy, and we are harvesting some of the carrots we grew over winter. 
Lydia was posing rather oddly for this one.  She and Gyunay are enjoying purple Dragon carrots.  Usually, Lydia pulls and scrubs the carrots and then dispenses them to herself and her brothers. 

I've even starting transplanting some things to the garden: kale, kholrabi, red cabbage, purple cauliflower, and broccoli calabrese.  I need to still put out the brussel sprouts and more cabbages, broccolis, and cauliflowers.  I planted some Tom Thumb peas in the garden, and those are sprouting.  I also planted some Sugar Ann peas and red onions outside.  Inside, we've started seeds for tomatoes (Golden Jubilee, Black Krim, Yellow Pear, Mexican Mini, Italian Heirloom, Mortgage Lifter),tomatillos, Bulgarian peppers, white cucumbers, white & red radishes, more carrots (yellow, white, and purple), strawberries, arugula, lavender, marigolds, eggplant, some new fruit called tzimbalo, sunflowers, and sunberries.  Hmmm, some of my favorite countries show up in the seed names: Mexico, Bulgaria, Italy.  Fun stuff.  Lydia and Gyunay help water the seedlings throughout the week.  Malachi sometimes helps out with planting, as does Lydia.  In a few weeks, all hands will be on deck to plant outside.  I've got several gardening projects that need to happen outside, but it's just been too wet to do much of it yet.   

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Book Review - Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering is a period mystery with plenty of twists and turns.  I had a little trouble getting into it in the beginning.  I was a bit confused, because the setting is the 1930s, but the characters were participating in a Regency-era week-long party, so they were acting like it was the early 1800s.  Fans of Jane Austen will love this; I have never actually read any of Jane Austen's work, so the many comments on her novels were mostly lost on me.  Also, this is part of a series of mysteries, but I have not read the previous ones, so it perhaps took me a bit longer to place all of the characters.

This book is a traditional Agatha-Christie style mystery.  All of the characters (suspects) are kept in the same place due to the special week-long party, and the leading man, Drew, has some amateur experience solving crimes, so he naturally starts investigating once a young woman turns up dead.  There were many interesting characters.  I felt that I didn't really get to "know" Drew's wife Madeline very well, but she wasn't really one of the main characters in this story.  There were plenty of twists along the way, and perhaps more clever readers could solve the mystery before the end, but I did not.  It was a satisfying read.

I received this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sickness and Spring

It's been a long couple of weeks around here.  Someone, sometimes more than one of us, has been sick every day for the last 2 weeks.  I hope that we are starting to turn the corner.  Around town, in sunny fields, daffodils are starting to bloom.  Ours aren't yet, but the ones I've seen elsewhere prove that soon, our shady valley will blossom with yellow suns.
These two have been so happy playing together lately.  Lydia has been teaching Gyunay to play with great imagination, and he loves it.  

Gyunay is trying to talk more than ever.  He is not often understood by outsiders, but Lydia understands him best.  She translates for him when others can't figure out what he's saying.

In chicken news, our younger pullets have just begun to lay eggs!  We got the first small egg yesterday, and two more today.  We are very happy with this situation.  Malachi scrambled up the two eggs and devoured them.  I was thrilled to let him; he's been the sickest of all, since he caught both the stomach bug last week and the flu this past week, and he's lost weight.  He's finally fever-free, though, and has more energy for the first time. Elijah is especially happy to have him feeling better.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Review - Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Annabel Lee: A Coffey & Hill Novel

The mystery intrigues throughout this novel.  I loved it.  The author has engaging and memorable characters, particularly Annabel Lee, the Mute, Trudi, and of course, Uncle Truck.  This book holds the suspense from the beginning, and there are plenty of twists to keep the reader interested.  The author notes that he normally writes inspirational fiction, but I think he's found a new niche in suspense.  This book is hard to put down at any point.  The story shifts points of view, from Annabel Lee herself, to her protector the Mute, and Trudi Coffey, PI.  This is very effective, and allows the reader to glean bits of information from various sources.  The dynamics between Trudi and her ex-husband Samuel are complicated and give the story personal depth.  I look forward to reading the next suspense novel from this author.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense (except my Mom, who doesn't like to see kids in dangerous situations).

And just a fun literary note, the author did name the title character after Edgar Allen Poe's wonderful poem.  I will admit that the title alone made me interested in this book, and I loved the references to Poe throughout.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.