5.27.2015

3-Week Old Chicks

Our 37 baby chicks are three-weeks old now. The only thing that amazes me more than how fast they grow is that we still haven't lost any yet!


We have had to go from two brooders, with heat lamps....


...to 3 brooders, no heat lamps...and the screens (that my talented hubby made) are a MUST now....



...as the chicks can now just fly right out without them on there.


Then:



Now:  (I had to take this quick, as my first attempt lead to two chicks flying right out before I could snap a pic)


We switched to using sand on the bottom of the brooders.  Don't love this either.




And the chicks have gone from looking like this - nothing but fuzzy fluff...



to this - with real wing feathers coming in quick:





This is fascinating to me....how their wing feathers are growing in like this, "making their appearane" so to speak...and making the appearance of the different breeds very distinct now.  I mentioned that while we were supposed to have been shipped 6 different kinds of chicks, to my

"untrained eye it appears we only have four different kinds."  

 "....but what do I know? Maybe they'll look different as they grow."


Glad I left that leeway there, and didn't declare that we'd been cheated.  Because now it is very clear that we do have six different breeds.  Only a newbie (waving hand) would not know that the wings would come in soon and reveal the obvious differences in the breeds.  


I've looked (and looked) at the pictures on the Mt. Healthy Hatchery site (where we ordered the chicks) and I **think** I have these chicks labeled correctly:





This diagram above is for me...because I would like to have enough chicken knowledge to know what we have, AND which is which.  

Speaking of my lack of knowledge:  When Jas mentioned the other day that he can see their combs starting to come in, Noah piped up with this question, "Combs?  Are they rose combs?  Or walnut combs?"  WHA?!?! I had NO idea what he was talking about...but he showed me a chart he'd been looking at, and sure enough...there are numerous different types of combs.

As is obvious, I am reading at a pace just beyond our experience, only what step ahead of what we need to know to keep them alive!






These recent outside pics were taken during a couple of field trips we took the chicks on.  We set up a "playpen" for the chicks.  Out in the front yard, no less.  Yes, it was a little most red-neck looking contraption:


We wanted them to get some outside time, but can't let them just run and fly away, the current plan is for them to free-range in the pasture but T-Bone is cray-cray, and we needed to protect them from dogs (ours included), so what were we to do?

Grab some leftover "hardware cloth", a wagon, and 2 planters that stake into the ground, and our Monogram flag that stakes into the ground.


When the sun was behind the clouds, the chicks roamed freely all over the playpen,
but when the sun was out, all 37 of them would jam up together under the wagon.

It worked!



Lily Kay even volunteered to spend rest-time out there with them, so they could be outside for longer.  She set herself up in the wagon and had a ball!

And the chicks had a ball also:



And this is what my two littlest ones did while the chicks played in their playpen!



As I quickly discovered, I could sit and watch those chicks for hours (I didn't do that...but I could).


It was fascinating watching them peck at stuff, and walk around, and fly a little, and drink (by dipping their beak into the water and then lifting their head up to let the water slide down - why I found that so fascinating I'm not so sure!).  It is so neat seeing them test out their new little wings.  Usually each mini-flight ended when the chick would run into another chick, not because there wasn't enough room in there - because there was plenty - but because they don't know what they're doing yet or how to control themselves!

Buff Orpingtons

Light Brahma




I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of this, but the chicks found a good spot under the wagon to give themselves a dust bath.  How did they know to do this since their mamas didn't show them?  God-given instincts - Fascinating!  It was so cute to watch them.  The spot was only big enough for two to squeeze in there, and there were always many others waiting around for their turn.  They were not patient, and would push each other out!










It was also fascinating to watch the chicks when they would catch some "prize".  You would know a game would be afoot when they would start cheeping loudly, and one (and then more and more) would start chasing one chick around (with something hanging out of his mouth).  The first couple of times I saw this, I thought, "Oh good, the chick caught some little bug!"  But I finally started looking hard at what they were fighting over - it was normally a longer piece of grass!  Some "prize"!  And they would chase and chase, and usually take turns stealing the prize from one another.  Too funny!






New Hampshire





I also don't have a picture of this, because it was too sad at the time (but it turned out good and now I so wish I had taken pictures!):

One morning as Noah and I were re-filling food and water for chicks we noticed that one little Buff  was smooshed up against the side of the bin, and not moving.  At all.  She looked pathetic.  The other chicks would randomly peck at her once or twice as they would go by.  It hadn't gotten bad yet, but from what I've read, that would get bad if we didn't do something.  So we took that chick out and put her in ICU (the box that they all originally arrived in).  The only thing we could see wrong at all was that her right wing seemed strange, she didn't seem to be able to fold it in all the way flush against her body.  I just knew she wouldn't make it.  I was actually castigating myself for being such a wimp and not going ahead and putting her out of the misery that I was sure she was in.

And then, she was still alive a couple hours later.  I was surprised.

We put food and water in there for her.

She was still alive in the morning.  WOW!  Couldn't believe it!

The children put her ICU box down inside a free bin, because she jumped out of her ICU box (which had very low sides).

One reported that they found her cuddled up inside her food bowl.  Good sign?

And when she was awake and chipper and walking all around that next morning when I was out there, I decided to put her back in a bin with the other chicks and watch how it went.

She was fine.  The rest treated her fine.  And when I looked away for a few seconds, and then looked back, I couldn't even tell which Buff she was (we have 10 of them)...and I took that as a great sign!  Successfully reincorporated into the flock - our first success story!  I was thrilled!


Not too much longer now until we can move them outside...and that day will come none too soon for those of us who are tired of cleaning chicken brooders (which means:  all of us!).




5.24.2015

Hitched

Well, she did it.  Technically, they did it.  Our Ansley has gone and gotten married!


We all had so much fun at Ansley and Mark's wedding Saturday night.




Noah said it best this morning, "I still can't believe our Ansley is already married!"  (Like he's a fifty-year old man or something (which is what he acts like quite a bit).)

I know, I know, Noah...just yesterday, all of you looked like this...



...and then this:




(sigh)  Wow, time flies.



The ceremony was beautiful and so special.



And then, the reception was beautiful also.  And FUN!!!


First, we met this sweet young woman, who took a liking to our children...


Look at A sacked OUT!  M must be a "baby whisperer"
...and they liked her right back.



 I had a great time talking hair with M (who has been transitioning to "natural" for a year now).


And then the dancing started, which my kids loved!



E loves to dance...the other bigs love to watch!

 And the next thing I knew...





...M was bringing G out onto the dance floor!




He had a big time.



He was in his element.


M's mom - whom I also had a wonderful time talking with - leaned over to Jas near the end of the evening and said that we were "going to have a much older daughter-in-law."
Done!  It's a deal!  We need to book this place for about 20 years from now!









G takes his dancing very seriously...


...until he doesn't.


Ansley asked the 8 of us to step outside for her photographers to get our pictures with her and Mark. As soon as they snapped the shots, I looked around for G and he had taken off like a SHOT back into the dancing.


When I stepped back inside, I found him firmly planted right smack in the MIDDLE of the "dance circle"!




You know what a dance circle is?  Where everyone circles up around one person who is really showing off their moves...while everyone cheers them on.




You know...the kind of dance circle you couldn't pay this girl a MILLION dollars to get into the middle of.














I hope he always "dances like no one is watching." I hope all my children do.  (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

And then I wish they'd teach their mother to do that also.






We love you, Ansley and Mark....and pray God's blessings over your marriage.



We count it a privilege to have watched you grow into the beautiful woman you are, Ansley...and can't wait to watch you in your new role as a devoted wife, working alongside your husband to bring glory to His name!




5.21.2015

Miscellany Monday - May 18, 2015 (Three Days Late!): A Birthday, Recital, Project...and I Can't Count

I'm just going to go ahead and start with the "I Can't Count" portion of this post...get it over with:

The post that I titled something like "New Mouths to Feed...35 to be exact"?

I lied.  We have 37.

I had heard that hatcheries often send you one or two extra (assuming that not all might make it (alive) to their intended destination), so I was surprised that we did not receive any extra chicks.

Except we did.

It took us about a week and a half to figure out that we actually have 37.

My only excuse:  It is HARD to count fuzzy little fluff-balls that are streaking around at 90 mph!

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Jas (the resident husband/daddy/all-around hero) had a birthday on Tuesday.  He is the big 4-2!

All the kiddos told him to not leave for work early, and they got up early to see him before he left:

This was the best I could capture

Between all the homemade cards and singing, we had a big shindig!


Elisabeth wanted me to get her up at 4:45 a.m. so she could fix daddy breakfast.  (For the record:  I did NOT get her up at 4:45...it was more like 6:45)

She made Jas an omelet with sautéed onions, cheese, sliced pepperoni...with hot sauce on top.  She also served him cantaloupe (his favorite fruit!), and a toasted slice of Apple Cinnamon Bar (I made a double batch a couple days before):


We sure do love our daddy...and I think he definitely felt celebrated on his special day!


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The girls had their piano recital on Sunday.











Elisabeth has now taken five years of piano...and this was Lily's Kay's first.  Elisabeth continues to love it and do so good.  Lily Kay is more of a natural than her brothers were, and she did really good.  While I can't say she loved it, she does like it fine, and I think she'll continue to take next year.

Elisabeth played "Shout to the Lord" and "Fur Elise."  Lily Kay played "Amazing Grace" and "Minuet in Trio."


Watching a 1 hour 45 minute piano recital with a 3-year old and a 10-month old ranks as one of the most challenging things we've done as parents.  I don't know if Abigail saw Elisabeth and Lily Kay (who played back-to-back, about half way through) or if she just recognized their songs, but she started going crazy when it was their turns (I was thankful that she at least waited until it was our children to be so loud).  As Lily Kay stood up to return to her seat in the choir loft, I stood up to take Abigail out to the vestibule, where we remained for the remainder of the performances.  I didn't even realize until I was uploading these pictures a few minutes ago that I didn't even capture any pictures of LK actually sitting at the piano playing her two songs....I was right in the middle of a royal wrestling match at that point and totally forgot about taking pictures!!

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I mentioned a  while ago that I bought some fabric and had a project in mind for this bookshelf:







It is still not completely finished (but that may take another year or two at the rate I work), but I wanted to share what has been completed thus far:



It is an armoire for Abigail's clothes!

It is now residing in the girls' room...although A is still in the pack-n-play in our room.  She'll make her way in their...eventually.  


Behind the pretty curtain (hanging on a tension rod) are all of her pretty little dresses...



...and behind the doors are baskets and baskets of the socks, shoes, pjs, shorts and shirts.



And who sewed that pretty curtain?  ME!

When I told my dear friend Vicki that I was going to use Stitch Witchery to fix the fabric into a curtain, she said, "No, you are not!  We're going to sew it!"

Yes, ma'am!





I have had a machine for about 15 years, and don't know how to use it at all.  But I'd love to!  I'd love to be able to do little projects...and teach my girls how to use it also!

I ADORE the big 'ol rick-rack!

When we were sewing in the school/dining room, Abigail supervised us from this vantage point...


...to make sure we were doing good work.  She is such a task master!

The plan is to paint the whole armoire next.  More pics to come (but don't hold your breath)...


5.19.2015

Stepping It Up

Totally not related to the subject of this post, but I'm so excited I had to share:  all the while I have worked on finishing this post today (that I started during rest-time yesterday, and am finishing during rest-time today)  there has been raining and now a THUNDERSTORM going on outside.

This is **HUGE** because our internet has kept on ticking away just fine.  WOOHOO!  Our first-world problem is solved, finally!  After two years of yucky Satellite internet, we now have REAL INTERNET!

Back to the real post...

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Abigail's hair growth has seemed to stagnate the past few months.  Which means....that it is breaking off at the same rate that it is growing in. Not good.

I've been knowing that it was time for me to step up my game.  Meaning:  It was time for me to begin doing whole-head "protective styles" on Abigail.

"Protective" means that the hair is styled in a way that the ends (which is the oldest part of the hair shaft)  are tucked away from exposure and not at risk of losing moisture at the same rate as if left "free".  If the hair isn't protected and kept moisturized, it will break off faster than new growth is coming in, and you won't have the all-coveted "length retention."

So when we got home from Colorado, it was TIME!


Easter 2015




I did a flat twist in the "bangs" area...and "box braids" on the rest of her head.


I used four different colors of barrettes this first day...and discovered that is just TOO many different colors for this mama.  

Was Abigail a little overwhelmed by all the color-craziness on her head also?


Noah asked me to take these pics of just him and his sis.  He loves her SOOOO much!


I am now restricting myself to just 2 or (maybe) 3 different colors at one time.





The fun thing about protective styles like these that last longer is that I can just switch out the bling and accessorize A's hair in different ways every day, to match her current outfit.








 

This style lasted for about a week and a half...with me "refreshing" the sections one time.  That means I took out the braids (and rubber band at the base of each little pony using a seam ripper, carefully!) and reapplying water, leave-in conditioner and jojoba oil before reinserting the rubber band and braids.




When I read that people sometimes just take the sections out and re-do them, I didn't initially understand why you would want to do that.  But now I do.


The hairstyle starts getting fuzzy (in the case of a baby, it may only be after 2 or 3 days), but it is much quicker to just re-do the style (since the parts are already done) than to start ALL over from scratch with a totally different hairstyle that would require different parts.




What a sweet, sweet doll baby.


You can see that Abigail's "edges" are fuzzy.  This is a no-no for African American women/girls.  Products known as "Edge Control" are sold in stores.  (But I've read on my FB Group from WOC (Women of Color) that you can just use gel.)  Either way, the edges are supposed to be "laid", meaning slicked down flat.

This is such a balancing act: if you pull the edges (or any hair) too tight you'll get stress bumps and traction alopecia and the hair may pull out...permanently.  And I've read if you are constantly "laying" your edges that is not good for them.  


But babies get a little pass - and it is ok for them to have cute, little curlies around the edges - for a while.




After a few days I did something different with A's bang area - took out the flat twist and the pony/braid right behind it and did three flat braids toward the front:



I'd seen this somewhere, and wasn't sure about it.  Didn't like it...won't do that again.




Here is how we're able to keep a style in A's hair for more than a day:





A wig cap.



She sleeps on satin sheets to protect her hair (cotton would just wick moisture away, and break her hair), but we've been searching for something to put on her head to protect her styles.  (Later she'll have a satin pillowcase when she uses pillows)

I've watched several helpful YouTube videos by Inez Moore (like this one), doing her cute baby girl's hair, and she recommended a wig cap.


It is working fine, but I hate the line it leaves on A's forehead for a while...so I'll keep looking...







In addition to barettes, I sometimes use "snaps" on the ends of Abigail's braids.



 Yes, I'm having fun buying and using accessories for Sissy's hair!
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 Almost as much fun as Abigail.



 






After having that style in for about a week and a half, I left her hair "free" for a while.  To let the hair and parts rest.




And then when we were headed on "our" business trip with Daddy, I put in the style again....




...with the only difference being that I did a box braid in the front section, instead of a flat twist.





And then a few days later I switched out the barrettes for "ballies"...A's first official time wearing ballies!  (Some people call them "knockers.")





 









A has a pretty good bald spot in the middle of the back of her head.  It isn't really "bald", but the hair is very, very short in this section...much shorter than the rest of her head.  So I need to be careful what styles I do so that it isn't really obvious (or funny looking) that the hair is much shorter there.



The "bald spot" is right in the back center of her head, where the middle bottom section and the section above it meet.  You can't really tell in this picture...and that is because with this hairstyle and these parts it isn't obvious.  And that is by design.

Again, after I took this style out, I let A's hair and parts rest for a few days.


Her hair is really about 4 inches or so long...the shrinkage is incredible.


It is so funny, now A's hair is free and we see friends, our friends almost seem disappointed and ask A where her little braids and such are.


For her next style, I took my inspiration from a pin on my "AA Hairstyles to Try" Pinterest board.







Flat twisted bangs with double puffs in the back.




I washed and banded Abigail's hair one night, and then the next day it took me thirty minutes to install this style.



Again, so easy to change out barrettes and ballies to match her outfit.


She wore this style for five days, with me re-doing it on day 4 (or 5?).



And then...now...


heading to church on Sunday

...we're letting her hair rest for a few days, with just two flat twists in the front going one way, and one going the other.



What to do next?  

Back to the drawing Pinterest board!



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