Friday, May 29, 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Look at that photo and tell me that you could have resisted bringing her home. I seriously doubt it!
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
To be continued...
Friday, October 3, 2014
Friday, November 22, 2013
The incubator stage was fun, the fragile babies a miracle of GOD it seemed, and the energetic little chicks were so entertaining I would lose hours of my day just laughing at their little quail antics. I shared my office with them until they got too noisy and a bit to stinky for my liking. It was time to move them out of their cozy little Rubbermaid tote to the big cage in the sunroom. The sunroom is a glorified screen porch. I was certain they would enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and I would enjoy having a peaceful office once more.
They thrived, eating everything in sight and drinking ridiculous amounts of water. I learned what happens when you startle quail and chased more than one panicky helicopter around the sunroom. I learned about sexing them and had determined who would eventually be culled. I made an effort to pick up and kiss at least five of them per day. They had the most curious little personalities and I spent a great deal of time educating anyone who was willing to come out and watch my quail demo. Each day I would refill their water and food and pull handfuls of weeds with clods of dirt still intact. It was funny to watch them with long grass. It became evident why they are often referred to as prairie chickens. They loved to hide in the tallest blades crouching down and scratching through the dirt hoping to find grubs or ants or anything tasty. They would hop up as high as they could or stand on their tippy toes (tippy talons) to pull seeds down off the top of the weeds. I fell even more in love.
As the pregnancy hormones started to rage so did my nausea. I have had this issue with each pregnancy often throwing up multiple times per day. Needless to say there are certain triggers that can set one off. It became impossible to get through feeding and daily cage cleaning without stopping to throw up several times. Quail are lovely in many aspects, but the smell of quail manure is not something that quail enthusiasts advertise as one of their best qualities. It stinks and lingers in one’s nasal passages. Their last day in the sunroom I vomited on my feet. I was wearing flip flops. It was moving day.
I am creative by nature so spurred by the recent vomit covered flip flops I started brainstorming furiously. They needed to move outdoors so they didn’t smell as much, I needed to stop dealing with their manure each day. The answer was simple. I would place their cage in the backyard and take the aluminum manure catching tray out. This would allow the manure to drop through the bottom of the cage onto the grass. I determined that if I forced one of the big boys to come back with me each day we could each pick up one end of the cage and move it one cage length down the backyard. It would be a modified quail tractor. I praised myself for being such an efficient problem solver.
This system worked well for several weeks. The quail seemed happy. Actually I think quail always seem happy, but they were thriving and I was no longer vomiting, as much, while dealing with them. Life was good.
One afternoon, a few weeks into my genius backyard quail setup, two little boys flew through the back door with tears streaming down their faces. Through sobs and snot they pulled on my apron begging me to come out to the back yard and see what the flies had done to the quailies. The flies? “They killed the quailies, they killed the quailies,” was all they kept repeating. I threw on my flip flops and rushed to the scene of the crime. I had not properly prepared for this. What I found was horrifying. The quail were all dead, at least I hoped to GOD they were. It was a massacre. Something had come in and literally pulled each quail, by whatever body part they could snag, through the wire mesh of the cage. Feathers were everywhere. Worse yet, body parts were everywhere. Most of the little quail bodies were still in the cage, but their heads, wings, legs and feet were scattered throughout the backyard.
We said a quick prayer and I sent the little boys into the house with strict warnings not to come back here again. I took a deep breath and predictably vomited. It broke my heart to imagine the suffering that these little quail went through. I cried because they were my babies, I knew that some of them would die, but their lives would be honored and their meat used to feed our family. I cried because this was not the way it was supposed to end. I cried because this was supposed to be an amazing adventure in micro farming for the boys, not some horrific traumatizing life event that would haunt them in their sleep. I cried thinking of their last moments being attacked by their ruthless predator. But I also cried because I had thrown up on my flip flops… again.
So, sadly there you have it. This is why I’ve been vague. If I think about it too much I still throw up. I will most definitely get more quail however, I need to finish incubating this little baby before starting another flock.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Somewhere out there in Florida there lives a woman who probably works a full time job and is a bit quirky so on the side she wants to raise quail. She buys them on E Bay even though her husband says she already has too many weird hobbies.
In the wee hours of the morning a few days ago I was sitting in my office with my dog and a boy asleep at my feet while I wandered into a dangerous section of E Bay, the farming section. Like a middle aged man with a porn addiction (sorry for the graphic nature, but I have a problem) I stared wide eyed at the screen. Then I did the unthinkable and typed “quail hatching eggs” into the search fields. It was the exact right combination of words to bring up, not eating eggs, not quail egg crafts, not pictures of quail, but the actual listings for fertile eggs that one could actually place in an incubator and hatch out their very own amazing little quailies.
Math is not my strong point so I spend a great deal of time figuring out just how many eggs I wanted. I would like to end up with 1 male and 6 females. So if roughly half of my eggs turned out to be male and half female I would need approximately 12 eggs right? I figure some might not hatch so made an attempt to read the reviews from previous egg buyers to feel out the probability of my hatch rate and got overwhelmed, so just assumed maybe four wouldn’t hatch. Then I just figured that since this is my first time around and I’ve never actually been the captain of an incubator there is a decent chance that user error would maybe cause some to hatch but die shortly thereafter or maybe be still born. Can that even happen in quails? I do not know. You may be losing faith in my ability to come up with an accurate set of statistics or actually raise quail altogether but rest assured that 24 is the magic number of eggs that a family my size should order. Statistically I would have had a better chance of getting the number of eggs correct if I would have just drawn a number out of a hat instead of putting an hour of half witted predictions into some made up equation where half my input was not logical and several mathematical errors were made. But 24 it is.
Next I sifted through buyers until I found a handful willing to sell in quantities of 24. I located a seller in Georgia, read the listing and then… Clicked the Add to Cart button. I’m sure many of you have added quail to your shopping cart. This sounded perfectly reasonable to me and the sleeping boy and the sleeping dog did nothing to stop me so I went ahead and paid for my purchase.
I have been wanting quail forever. In the way that a mother longs for a baby, I have had their little coop set up for months and walk by it everyday staring at the empty hutch imagining little quailies hopping around. I’ve always had an excuse for not being ready. An upcoming vacation which would require a quail sitter, a job that required me to travel for weeks at a time leaving my less than quail enthusiast husband home to care for my babies etc.… I was never ready and then the other night I pulled the trigger.
It’s done, the quail are on their way. We can’t undo this. It’s happening. I am really gonna be a quail momma (assuming nothing tragic happens). I also have to figure out how to operate my incubator, build a brooder and figure out how to possible dispatch (that means kill to any newbie farmers like me) all the extra males. Oh yeah and figure out how to clean them, cook them and stop crying long enough to eat them. I had a long talk with my mom about all the things that could potentially go wrong. She brought up some valid points like 1 year olds that might squeeze fragile quail and a dog that may eat them. All things I will consider however, I prefer to live in my little farming fantasy world and am predicting that this adventure is gonna be fantastic. I can hardly wait.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
I am not longer in the go live arena traipsing across country assisting hospitals implementing new software. I feel incredibly blessed with an opportunity that has come my way. Well, not exactly that easily, but regardless I won the prize. I am still supporting surgeons, anesthesiologists, doctors and nurses with EPIC with one tiny, incredibly important, difference. I support them over the phone and by remoting into their computers. This difference means very little to all the struggling EPIC babies, but it means the world to my boys and my deserving husband. I am able to do all my work from home. I play with the boys all day and then slink off to my office (usually with one or two of them in tow) and log in. I take calls from 5 pm to 1 am. I’m three weeks in and already feel like I’m on top of the world. I love the challenge of a seething physician or a crashing patient with an equally crashing computer.
Huck isn’t too much of a baby anymore. He’s in size three diapers, eating everything his brothers eat and doing his best to keep up with the pack. He turned one yesterday.
We are finally settled in the new house and have taken some time and money to make it ours. Scott has a honey do list a mile long and whips through it at an amazing speed. I think he’s at Lowes every week. We’ve painted the outside, replaced the front door, sodded the front lawn, put in a new mailbox, remodeled the kitchen, painted most of the rooms and a few weeks ago he built me an office. It turned out incredible. If I had all the money in the world it would be completely decorated, but we’re not quite in that position.
The boys are getting ready to head off to school in a few weeks. Gavin will be entering middle school this year which was a real turning point for me. I loved the elementary school the boys all attended, but the middle school we were assigned to I was far less comfortable with. We explored the always nagging thought of homeschool, which for the first time ever would be a real possibility with my new job and we toured private schools. We fell in love with a small private Catholic school with a ridiculously large tuition. Scott wanted to send them all there, the budget however, did not. After lots of thought and prayer, I turned this matter over to GOD and low and behold, our boys will be attending Catholic school. Finn, Tommy and Gavin will all be together in an amazing school with fantastic classmates. We are pleased and blessed that we belong to a parish that appreciates moms who teach religion (and that make incredible dreams come true for said moms).
I have been cleaning and organizing and cooking all day long. Being home has been amazing. I have charts for everything. Meal planning, zone cleaning, chore charts and calendars make my stay home days most predictable.
We have been working really hard to adopt a more Paleo approach to food and cooking. It’s been a super exciting journey, only three weeks in to wean the boys off sugar and onto some more beneficial foods. The side effects are most welcome as well.
I look forward to what this chapter holds. I have a few plans that I am looking to execute including the quail, some potential small scale fish farming, the explosion of a planned September planting and maybe a few other surprises.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Things have remained chaotic, in a good way, at home. Just when things calm down, we start projects like gutting the kitchen or decide we should paint over the ugly pink color that was once the outside of our home.
I've been kitchenless for the past week and a half mostly due to my own fault. Sometimes my optimism needs to do a reality check. When the cabinet guy warned us that we should cool it on the gutting part because the cabinets might not be finished quite so quickly, I encouraged Scott the destroyer to rip it all out. Keep going I assured him. After all, I'm creative, I can make lots of things in my amazing crock pot. That announcement was roughly 31 meals ago. I no longer feel this way. We are actually coming to the end of this project and I can appreciate all the money, time and inconvenience that have been part of this remodel. I will have pictures to post soon.
The boys are well.
Gavin is hoping desperately to get taller soon. He announced to us last night that we better look out because he is going to be hitting his growth sperm soon. I hope for his sake that he does add a few inches to his height in the coming weeks. Tommy is gaining on him monthly and it won't take long and he will surpass Gavin. We found out what middle school he will be attending next year. Nervous doesn't even begin to sum up how I feel about middle school and this school in particular. Home school, private school and combinations of options linger on my mind. I'm not sure what direction we will head.
Tommy is Tommy. He is finding his creative side and channeling that energy daily. Often times it's in the form of cutting apart and reassembling cardboard boxes into people, Flat Stanley style. I have several rather creepy characters hanging from my curtain rods in the bedroom. They are the last thing I see when I close my eyes and the first thing I see when I open them. There is something so eerie about the way kids draw people.
Finn is getting taller as well. No bigger around, but longer and leaner everyday. He is working so hard to master some of the skills he will need to do well in kindergarten. Somehow he is aware that he is a bit behind the curve and has lots of work to do. If I'm not prompting him to count or sing me his version of the alphabet, he is prompting me.
Petey is so sweet these days. He trails around after Finn preferring be near him all the time. It's funny how the table have turned. For years it was Finn chasing Peter telling him what to eat and drink and play with and now it's the opposite. Peter cries when Finn tries to get up in the middle of a play session. "Noooooo, come back, don't leave me." They act an awful lot like twins sometimes. Peter longs for the day when he can go to school like Finn. I hope Finn continues to set good examples for Pete because he is a powerful role model right now.
Little Huck is getting sweeter each day. He ate his first dog food the other day when he decided he could crawl. he proceeded to crawl from the living room to the kitchen, find the dog dish and have a bite. I will mention that this did not happen on my watch, although it probably could have. He loves to eat. Huck loves nursing, loves the bottle, loves his brothers cups, loves to sit in is high chair and stuff his little mouth with anything he can convince his brothers to give him a bite of.
Auggie Doggie is often referred to as The Hog. We are still trying to maintain our pecking order. The Hog wakes up most mornings determined that he will go to bed in the evening as the Alpha dog. It's a constant struggle to remind him that he is not the dictator of the house and to remind the boys that they need to keep him in check. About 30 hours of Dog Whisperer on Netflix and I have still not cured him. On the plus side, he is neutered now, he will sit on command and comes when we call him most of the time unless he suspects he is in trouble. Something tells me he will require a lifetime of training. Scott is trying to find a place in his heart for Auggie, but as of now, the two don't really see eye to eye.
It was my birthday yesterday. I do not feel older, in fact, I do not even know how old I am. I know I was born in 1981, but haven't had the time or motivation to do the math. If you want to figure it out, go ahead. The house is coming together. We still have a long way to go but at least I have a 2013 kitchen and dining room. The rest of the house is still circa 1961, but the sixties were an alright time in our history I think so I'm not in a huge rush.
We have great plans for gardens and my quail and a few other fun projects, but need to get the kitchen wrapped up first. I look forward to what adventures we find next.
Monday, January 28, 2013
This was comforting to me. I remember when I was pregnant for the first time. I wasn't concerned or worried at all for the birth of Gavin. I remember saying to Scott, "How bad could it really hurt?" I'm not like those other women, I can handle this. Then there was the second pregnancy. I worried about the birth of Tommy and the pain of labor as soon as that pregnancy test confirmed I was pregnant. There is something significant about going through a traumatic experience the second time around. You know what's coming, you remember the pain, you agonize over what's to come. I told Scott that my first trip would be easy to explain to the boys, but it was my second that would be the most telling. This time around when the boys found out I was leaving I planned on carefully studying their reactions. They know what it means now when I say I am going to be gone for 17 days. They've lived it. But as usual, the thoughts that keep me up at night are my worries and just that, the boys aren't concerned in the least. I guess that means that Scott and I did an OK job maintaining their little lives the last time we went through this.
Today I hung up a new paper chain. This is the chain that hangs in the dining room that signifies how many days are left on my trip. They cut one off each night after getting off the phone with me and then count the days remaining. I could see them look up then down taking in just how many links there were. I was anticipating some groans. "At least it doesn't touch the floor," was the only comment then they all ran off in a pack to play outside some more. Phew!
Preparing this time around was much less overwhelming. So many systems were already in place. Scott has a fantastic routine he puts the boys through when I am gone and we have been practicing bits and pieces of it this week. The boys cling to the routine and really find comfort in it. They enjoy teaching it to me so I let them. I plan to continue Scott's super routine when I get home this time and try to avoid falling into our oh so casual routine. I think that would be healthier for them. Scott runs such a tight ship while I'm gone because he has to. He cannot chance losing control or allowing chaos to reign when he's alone but when I'm home it's a different story. If the boys go to bed without laying out their clothes or forget to brush their teeth at night Scott knows that I will catch up in the morning. We are both more casual when we are around each other.
I plan to leave a suitcase permanently packed next time. I didn't actually use many of the items I had packed last time while at home. Today was the first day I actually put on mascara. I had to take it out of my travel bag? How sad is that or actually how awesome is that? The boys don't care how thick my eyelashes look so there's really no need when I'm not working and I love it. I'm already working on booking my next project after California and it would be great if I could get the prepping down from 1 week to just a few days. Last time I prepped for two weeks so just needing a week is already a huge improvement.
I am creating a list of things that need to be done every time I leave so that I don't have to try to remember so much. I emailed Tommy's teacher requesting his homework for the next two weeks. I'm not sure where I stand on this. Last time we had it complete prior to me leaving. That took a huge to do task off of Scott's to do list. Let's just say that doing homework with Tommy is not my favorite task these days. It's like trying to make a fly land on your finger. Lots of chasing around the house, reminding, focusing, reigning in, redirecting and hand holding. I do not want to put that on Scott if I don't have to so I am trying to come up with alternatives. One thought is to make copies of the homework so that I can help him via Skype. This may be a twist he'd enjoy or maybe he would just get up and leave and I would be left staring at an empty computer chair frustrated. I don't know but plan to come up with some ideas in the coming days.
I still plan to scale back all extra-curriculars while I'm gone. This worked well last time and seems to take the pressure off everyone. The freezer is stocked with bachelor food for them that require little effort and maximum calories. They are looking forward to this. The dog will go away to Miss Tammie's again to give Scott one less little boy to look after.
I will allow myself to be excited about California once I get on the plane but for now I need to focus on everyone at home and get as prepared as possible. This includes actually getting a good night's sleep so good night!
Thursday, January 10, 2013
I have spent the last few weeks trudging through Christmas, enjoying company and finally in the last week or so exploring my new normal which will be my life as a stay home mom (sort of). I have been so busy exploring that I have not been updating here so for those of you ever so curious here's what's been going on at our little homestead.
The littles just knocked on the door and requested watermelon
I stopped typing, sliced watermelon, placed it in a large purple bowl and sent them on their way
Glenn Beck mentioned creative farming the other day on his show
Scott mentioned that he thinks we should get quail (ya think?!?)
I ordered my quail
Scott put my cage together
This makes me smile
The big little just knocked wearing purple bowl on his head squinting while watermelon juice dripped in his eye and requested sliced bananas
I stopped typing, sliced bananas, placed them in the large purple bowl and sent him on his way
I rediscovered Flylady and have the cleanest house I've ever had
I have a vision and work hard every day to make it a reality
Zone 3 is today, our bedroom will be spotless, organized and a source of tranquility by this afternoon
I made homemade laundry soap
It's cheap, 17 cents per gallon
Scott approves and wants me to figure out a way to make homemade dryer sheets
Yay Scott, that's the spirit
My dog is still bad, but not as bad
My mom didn't hate him when she came to visit
My couponing is going stronger than ever
I've discovered a super secret new website for Target coupons that has made my life easier
The family closet is completely functional now
It's not beautiful yet, but it will be
We found starfish at the beach the other day
They're on my shelf now
I swept the sidewalk in front of my house today
The littles just knocked again, bananas are gone, purple bowl is cracked in half, they want more watermelon
I stopped typing, sliced more watermelon, filled their grubby little hands with slices and sent them on their way
I got a new computer
One with a working shift key, appreciate the capital letters
I have been digging deeper into permaculture
Plans for an urban garden are in the works
I am overwhelmed with new ideas
Huck went right back to nursing the minute I returned
I still make him take and ounce of formula or two once a week to make sure he will survive another trip although my freezer has an amazing amount of breastmilk in it
I successfully pumped, stored and traveled with roughly two gallons of breast milk while in Texas
My fourth grade religion class was happy to have me back
A bit too happy, we got a bit loud last night
My truck is clean
My husband is shocked
I went to the farmers market today and plan to every Thursday
It was fun
I can't wait to get my quailies
I am fighting with photo gallery
I will get it fixed soon
I will show you all lots of photos of the goings on around here
The littles knocked again, they want acorn squash
I explained that it had to be cooked
They explained, they want to use it as a ball, not to eat
I told them to go wash their hands
They washed their hands in the tippy tap outside
We built a homemade handwashing station outside
It is truly simple but genius
This is the cleanest my boys hands have ever been and the cleanest my bathroom sink has ever been
I will be sure to post photos
The littles are back with more produce requests, I must go as they are climbing into the refrigerator and Huck just woke up.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
If you have followed this blog for any amount of time you have probably read between the lines or actually even just read the lines and can see that staying home with the boys has always been a siren that is calling to me. That being said, I am now a stay home mom... a stay home mom with a twist.
Our current plan will allow me to stay home for weeks on end but pick up some consulting work every now and then (when I run out of money). My first gig came a bit quicker than I anticipated though. I was only home about two weeks between my last day at my current job and the day I flew out. This was not enough time to prepare the boys and Scott to spend 17 days without me.
I prepped and I prepped and I prepped. The family closet is labeled, the shoes are labeled, the supplies are labeled, the back up supplies are labeled and the labels are labeled. Some of the last minute preps were really for my peace of mind, not theirs. In my mind, I knew things would just work out fine it I went through and added a few more smiley faces on my lists of steps or if I hid another spare key or if I left one more surprise note for the boys to find. When I wasn't prepping, I was researching tactics for leaving your children home while on business trips. I got lots of great advice and implemented it. We have calendars, postcards, a paper chain and several other recommended processes for helping the boys cope and understand that I will be back and am still accessible.
I write this blog from Texas, far far from home. I am sitting in a giant hotel room, in a king bed that just doesn't seem the same without several little boys fighting me for another inch of space or drooling on my pillow. Today I am in a good place emotionally. I worried about that. I talk to the boys often and am looking forward to Skyping with them soon.
I fully intend to nurse my little Huckleberry when I return so my milk supply is on my to do list including a timer that goes off every four hours to remind me that I best be finding a nook to tuck away and hide in while pumping. Pumping is a coping skill for me. It reminds me of when Huck was in the NICU. During a time when I had no control, pumping was productive and helpful to him. It was the one thing I felt I could do to. breast milk and travel logistics are just a bit messy. I have been very creative thus far and have no plans of losing my milk supply while on this trip, even if that means pumping in strange places, storing my breast milk all over Texas like a squirrel hiding nuts, or nursing a cowboy baby... just kidding.
More than a few of my conversations have started off with, "Hi, I'm Erin. I will be your consultant for the next 17 days. Is there any chance I could stick some breast milk in your freezer?" So at the end of my trip I will be gathering up my supply and trying to fly home with it. Wish me luck.
I'm a bit worried that I may be picking up an accent. I found myself mimicking some of the staff that I've been working with and I't only been 24 hours. If that's the worst thing I bring back from Texas, I suppose it'll be ok.
On that note, I've been up now for 28 hours and it's time to close my eyes and get some sleep.
Ya'll come back now, ya hear?
I will be in Texas for the next 17 days. I have lots of extra help and some super specials visitors lined up for the boys the next two weeks. This will no doubt be an adventure, maybe more for them than me! So far so good though.
Friday, November 2, 2012
because scott believes that the boys need to learn to become informed contributing members of society
because paul ryan was in town
because i wanted a photo op
because little boys still have homework even when potential vice presidents come to town
because there was a little down time while waiting for paul
because forgetting your collar shirt is not an excuse to avoid the camera
because these memories will last a lifetime especially when captured in my lense
because mitt has five boys too
because scott believes that the boys need to learn to become informed contributing members of society
Thursday, October 4, 2012
writer’s block tonight…
so it’s off to a writer’s block website to randomly pick a prompt…
Describe some of the organizations or clubs you belonged to as a child
the first two organizations that come to mind are 4-H and girl scouts.
allow me to start with girlscouts. it was short lived. i have very few memories of my girl scouting days. they are as follows:
referring to our troop leader maxine as maxi pad behind her back and getting busted by her
having my mom drive me half way across the state to the girl scout camp that we probably couldn’t afford only to have a near panic attack when we arrived over the homesickness i was sure i would develop during the course of the week. thinking quickly, my mother forced my sister to go in my place, living out of my suitcase for a week and hanging out with my best friend
having my best friend resent me for a long time for abandoning her with the enemy, my sister
feeling bad as i looked at pictures of them together making camp memories wearing the matching outfits that we had packed
lastly, finally getting brave enough to go to a camp, cross country ski winter camp
deciding i hated cross country skiing and climbing atop the outhouse in protest but discovering french bread pizza a love that would last a lifetime
performing in two of the most memorable group dances of my life. both equally blackmailable material
dancing to a new kid’s on the block song, hang in tough, with my brother
winning that competion
realizing it was humiliating but realizing it was too late because now we had to perform on the state level at the state fair in front of about a bajillion more people.
doing fairly well at the state level and being documented fully on the front page of a very popular wisconsin newspaper to last as evidence for a lifetime
learning another dance, a can can style, taught to me by a lovely small town goat farmer, the goat farmer who also taught me to milk a goat which i learned later is not the same as milking your own breasts, useless stupid skill.
going to the fair with garden items that my parents had planted, taken care of, harvested, cleaned and prepared for the fair only to win first place and take all the credit
summer 4-h camp where i developed a serious interest in boys
summer 4-h camp where i met some very interesting boys
summer 4-h camp where we danced to achey breay heart and i’ve got friends in low places and it was actually cool
bad 4-h games at the monthly meetings and even worse refreshments
attempting to learn a pledge but never being successful
the county fair where i could meet up with i could meet up with boys that i had met over the years at summer 4-h camp
funny this prompt comes up today. we are on the eve of our first official cub scout campout. i am still a cub scout newb in all senses of the word. i struggle with the cub scout promise, i know none of the terminology. i don’t recall if our leader is called the denmother, the grand pooba, the wolfman or the denmaster. i will be sure to bring you the play by play from what is certain to be an entertaining weekend.