Monday, March 30, 2009

Texas Bluebonnets

These were taken over spring break in the Brenham/Washington on the Brazos Area.

Reminds me of Hobart and Anna Mae--their front yard used to be full of bluebonnets each spring. They'd invite all of the elementary kids over for a treat and a lesson in pioneer games. Remember walking on stilts made of cans and string and blowing bubbles through wooden thread spools? I think we even rolled a hoop using a stick a time or two also.

I need to check into planting some.

Winners: Part 2

I also posted this picture and asked you to caption it. My sister and her students were the only ones to do so, so they are the winners. I'm arranging that prize with my sister. Here are their captions:
Jennifer: "Supper Time"
Tatiana (4th Grader): "The Big Fat Cow Eating Hay"
Buck (4th Grader): "Getting Cattle"
I still haven't come up with anything catchy. She just looked at me as if to say, "What are you looking at?" Maybe she is a little self-conscious about her lovely horns or her lack of table (hay ring) manners.


The other day I posted this picture and asked you to tell me the story of how the shoe got up in the tree. I'm not very good at picking winners, so I decided that everyone (all five of you) will get some sort of prize.

Janda and Pace are the "grand prize winners." Pace, who just turned 5, thinks that Superman flew up and got his shoe hung in the tree then had to leave fast to save someone so he left it there.
Pace will receive a bottle of bubbles and Janda will get a bottle cap necklace and 1 dozen eggs from our "farm."

My sister asked a few of her students what they thought:
Tatiana (4th Grader): a crow got it and took it for a nest.
Buck (4th Grader): maybe a squirrel took it and placed it there to keep his nuts in.
My sister's idea: the shoe is actually just part of the tree branch and it just looks like shoe. Just a trick from Mother Nature.
I'll be contacting my sister to see what an appropriate treat for her students is--we wouldn't want anyone at school to get into trouble.

Granny Sue had the most educational response. "This is what I have heard from a reputable source (policeman): it can be a signal that it's a place to get drugs--like a sales corner." She also suggested some more "happy" ideas. I'll be sending her a bottle cap necklace as well.

I did google "shoe in tree" and found out that some "shoe trees" have sprung up all over the country and in different parts of the world as forms of art. Sadly, the drug/gang related activity was also mentioned. Some cities are having trouble with shoes in power lines signalling places to buy drugs. Although this is something we'd all rather not know about, I think it is important for us to be aware of such things.
Thank you all for participating. It was fun.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Snow Pictures

We had a little more snow overnight. By noon, there were already bare spots and now all that is left are the drifts. We had some really cool drifts in our pens and in the corner of our fence line. The kids had fun in the snow. You can see more pictures of them here. You can also click on these images to make them larger.

It is kind of strange to think we were experiencing a blizzard yesterday and the temps are in the high 40s today. The wind is still blowing, so I am sure there is a wind chill. We learned we are going to have to do some upgrading to the chicken house so we'll be ready if we ever have a "real" winter.
I'm sure this may be overkill on the pictures, but I really thought the drifts and their shapes were cool. I also liked Robby and T.S.'s shadows. Poor T.S. had serious mitten problems this morning.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Day in Pictures

A blizzard has been blowing through our area today. We've been fortunate to be on the edge of most of it. The following pictures chronicle the day from sun-up to about 5:00pm. I tried to take the windmill from our front porch throughout the day for a reference.

It was interesting around 5:00, we had drifts and bare spots. The ground temperature is warm enough that it was slushy. The wind blew it off of unprotected places. We had bands of snow blow through throughout the day and are expecting a little more this evening. North of us it is much worse.

UPDATE: The story and caption contest are open until Sunday--be brave and enter!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring? Blizzard?

Here is an example of crazy Texas Panhandle weather:
We are in a blizzard watch for Friday. Notice how we'll warm right back up by Sunday. Also notice our ever-present wind. T.S. wants to move to Houston (Magnolia) because, "They don't have wind there."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How did that end up there?

During spring break we stopped at the picnic area at Washington on the Brazos State Park. While watching my kids and enjoying the spring day, I happened to look up and see this:

I asked the kids how it got there, Sadie came up with a story about elves. When T.S. heard "elf," he announced that an elephant put it there.

So, what's the story? How did that shoe get in the tree?

Again, possible blog giveaway--if more than four people comment, I'll pick a winner and send him/her a fabulous prize.

(see yesterday's post: Picture of the Day)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Picture of the Day

According to T.S., this is a bull because it has two...

horns. Actually it is one of the mama cows currently residing in our pasture.

What would you put as a caption for this photo??

No one ever comments, but if someone comes up with a great title/caption, I might just have my first blog give away. Prize to be determined.


When your spring break starts with traffic like this:

You should take that as a sign of things to come.

We travelled down I-35 and got stuck in traffic. It turned out to be quite comical. We laughed at people crossing the median and wondered if any of them would get stuck.

We saw some bluebonnets, too.

Turns out that taking little things like this in stride helped out later in the trip. We planned a visit to Brenham to tour the Blue Bell Creamery. Turns out, the rest of Texas did too. The line was long (sorry, didn't think of a picture until we were already gone) and we were unable (or unwilling to wait in a long line not knowing if we'd make the tour or not) to take the tour.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Break

This year we travelled to my sister's in Magnolia. We had a ball with the kids and even planned a great adventure for one day (that's another post). In the end, we found out that the kids were content to make their own adventures on their own time.

The highlight of the week for the kids may have been playing in the sprinkler and then having manicures and pedicures as well as makeovers when the very talented neighbor came to stay so the adults could take a trip to College Station. The best part of the week for me?
  • Seeing my sister and her family
  • NO responsibilities--the harsh reality of real life hit me like a brick today
  • Going to College Station and hanging out with adults--remembering good college times and making new memories as well

More to come--just haven't had time to upload pictures or organize my thoughts (don't hold your breath on the last one)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bucket List: Part 3

I promised my list of things I'd REALLY like to do. So, here it is in no particular order:
  • Disney World--this has always been a dream of mine
  • Lots of family adventures
  • Spend more time doing what I enjoy than doing what I don't
  • Have a job that doesn't feel like a job
  • Surround myself with people that make me smile and feel needed and loved
  • Go on a cruise
  • Go to Las Vegas and Hawaii and Alaska and lots of national parks...okay, you get the idea--travel to some cool places some with my kids, some with friends and some just with Robby

What's on your list?

BTW--I don't think any list like this is ever complete or set in stone. It is static--always changing. What was a priority one day may not be the next...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bucket List: Part 2

So yesterday I decided you could have two categories of Bucket Lists. One would be things you'd love to do/try but realistically probably never will. Why would you want to make a list like this? Well, one can dream, I guess.

Things on this list might include:

  • Travel to the moon
  • Visit every continent
  • Jump out of an airplane
  • Win the lottery (of course if this happens, all of the above might be attainable)
  • Win a Nobel Prize
  • End world hunger

See where I'm going with this? Me neither.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it is okay to have big dreams and goals. But what may be more important than creating some check list of things to do before we die is to just live. Live in a way that fulfills you and makes the need for the list nonexistent.

Still to come: my list of things I'd REALLY like to do someday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lost/Found: Talley Cat

Tonight, panic was in the air. Talley Cat was no where to be found. He'd been missing most of the afternoon. I figured he'd had enough of T.S. and would return when it was time to go to the garage for the night.

We returned home from basketball practice and I began the task of putting up the chickens and cats for the night. We've been closing the cats in the garage. We had been leaving the door cracked--until Robby came face-to-face with the skunk. The cats are pampered. We haven't made them take the leap to being totally outside yet (remember, they were bottlefed--for more info on that, search this blog and the family blog for cats and kittens). Anyway, Talley was no where around. The kids kept asking me where he was, when I had seen him last and if he would come back.

I told my teary eyed daughter that that was the trouble with cats in the country, especially boy cats, they sometimes disappear and never return. As I lay in bed, I couldn't help trying to remember the last time I had seen the cat and it hit me. I had gone out to Robby's school pickup to look for some keys. I remembered tripping over Talley as I walked out to the pickup. I also remembered that Talley has this annoying habit of jumping into cars when the door is open.

So, I bundled up (it is cold tonight), grabbed a flashlight and headed out to the pickup. Sure enough, there was Talley, curled up on the seat waiting for me. I didn't check for damages (it was dark after all). I guess I should see if he made a mess in the morning.

I do know one thing, I am definitely up for Mother of the Year. Wait until I tell Sadie this story in the morning.

A Bucket List??

On the way home from taking Sadie to school today I was debating a blog post. Should it be "the evils of the time change" or what? Then the morning show we were listening to on the radio had a call-in question. "What is the one thing you'd like to do before you die?" That got me thinking.

Do I have a bucket list? Do I need a bucket list? Aren't we taught to live life every day and be content with what we have? Should you make a list so you have direction in your life? What if you make a list and it is full of things that never get accomplished?

So, what do you think? Should we all make a bucket list? If so, should we specify how many things on it? Can you narrow life down to a top ten or top five list?

What's on your bucket list?

Monday, March 9, 2009


You know it is windy when:
  • After going outside you can "chew" your spit (and it is gritty).
  • Your ears are as dirty as your four-year old's ears.
  • The chickens are walking sideways. (I kept expecting to see one blow by Saturday)

It is dry and windy here. We have been fortunate so far to not have any fires in our area. The wind does hamper lots of things like playing outside and hanging laundry. I guess it's just part of living in the Panhandle.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Potato Soup

This recipe is EASY. We love it on chilly nights. I'm not sure where I got this one from.

Potato Soup

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 stick margarine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp. grated onion
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter and drop in potatoes and onion. Let that cook for a few minutes.
2. Add rest of ingredients.
3. Simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are the texture and consistency you like. Stir often while cooking. This tends to stick, so don't just walk off once you get it started.

Cook's Notes:
  • I add several cloves of minced garlic.
  • I generally use 4 potatoes, I like the soup thicker.
  • At the end, you can add your favorite cheese and melt in.
  • Crumbled bacon or pieces of ham (sometimes I use leftover deli-slices) are good toppings.
  • I like to put corn in mine (Robby doesn't really, so I heat up some corn and put in my bowl.)
  • This is just a basic recipe, you can jazz it up to suit your taste.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Chicken Basics

We love our chickens and are by no means experts at raising them, but we're having fun anyway.
So here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
Where we got our pullets:
  • You can order online (I suggest McMurray Hatchery), but if you do this, you have to have a minimum order of 20 or more.
  • We went to our local feed store--Town and Country Feed in Canyon, TX--and inquired. Rusty is so nice there that he lets you specify what breed and how many you want. When he gets enough to place an order he does. He calls when they come in and takes excellent care of them when they arrive. Take a large box or bushel basket when you go to pick them up.
  • You do not need to order roosters unless you are planning to hatch your own eggs. Research the breed you are purchasing. Leghorns will usually not sit to hatch eggs. If you are just into egg production, I suggest ordering a straight run of pullets. It is a little more expensive, but worth it in my opinion.

What to do when you get the "day-old" chicks home:

  • We start out with them in a large box with a heat lamp in the kitchen. As they grow, you can tell when it is time to move them outside.
  • You have to dip each chick's beak in the water so they'll know what it is and take a drink. We start out with a jar lid for the water so it is not too deep. Some people put marbles in a bowl of water so they won't drown in it. (I found that this led to standing on the marbles and poop in the water.)

Once they are outside:

  • We locked them in their house each night so they'd learn they are supposed to go in at night. Probably not necessary, but we had one chick that didn't understand this concept and got caught out in the rain.
  • We kept the heat lamp on for several more weeks so they'd have the option in the house of heat or no heat.
  • Our pens aren't very big, so we let them out daily to roam. We don't start this until they are pretty big.

Feed and Water:

  • We went to Tractor Supply and bought feeders and waterers. You can just use shallow pans for this, but I think they waste a lot.
  • We feed pig feed from our local elevator--Attebury Grain. We do this because it is cheaper, but any starter feed or layer feed will work.
  • Since the feed is pig feed, we do add grit to the feed. When the hens start laying we add oyster shells to it to make the egg shells harder. You can also crunch up egg shells as you use them and feed back to the hens. (We get our grit and oysters at Tractor Supply)
  • Our hens love lettuce and stale bread. In the summer they are a big fan of squash and corn on the cob. They especially love the worms on the corn.
  • One of our hen houses has boxes (nests). We line those with shredded paper or with wood shavings.
  • The other hen house doesn't have boxes yet. We put shavings or shredded paper in it.

Please let me know if you have more chicken questions. I'm not an expert, but love learning more about them and will be happy to help you find an answer. The McMurray Hatchery site is a good place to start looking for information.