About Me

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My tremendously supportive husband & I have 3 wonderful children, 1 dog, 12 laying hens, 2 dairy goats, 3 bee hives, and a 2000 sq foot vegetable garden on a small 1/4 acre lot in the city. In the center of it all is our small 1,000 sq foot house purchased in 2008 as a foreclosure that we fully renovated to host our growing family, home school adventures, and small home business (CozyLeaf.com). We have a desire to learn a path to self sufficiency finding ways to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. We want to learn to live with less as we laydown roots to our little homestead.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Highs and Lows

Last week Peaches and Poppy were quickly approaching their due dates and their obvious discomfort made hopeful that we would be seeing some cute goat babies running around soon. Peaches due date was Sunday April 17th and Poppy's due date was Thursday April 21st (both based on a 145 day gestation for Nigerian Dwarfs). The entire week last week was spent in complete anticipation for the first signs of labor. Each day came and went with no goat babies until Friday morning I woke up and went out first thing to check on the girls. I saw Peaches tucked in the back of the goat barn and she didn't run out to greet me like she usually does in the morning so I was anxious to see if she had her baby. However, when I climbed into the barn with her I realized that she had 1 precious little baby goat that didn't make it :( I was so sad for her and so confused. I came in and got Bryan and we sat out with Peaches in confusion then we did our best to explain to Henry and Addie what happened as their two little faces stared at us in confusion as well. We called our vet and he was tremendously helpful! He explained a lot of situations that we were completely unaware could have been possible (now we know). His thoughts are that the baby was probably still born due to being in the birth canal too long. With first time "fresheners" (first labor) a goat may respond to the contractions by trying to avoid them and therefore not pushing (because the pushing makes it hurt worse). If the baby is stuck in the birth canal too long then there is the strong possibility of a still birth. We were so grieved to hear this, but we learned a very priceless lesson. On top of the sadness of Peaches loss we were also very concerned because she was not delivering the placenta. The vet explained that since she didn't have the baby to nurse on her it wasn't stimulating her uterus to do the proper contracting and her body just stopped laboring. That morning we immediately began milking her to help her expel the placenta and to relieve an extreme amount of pressure she had built up! The first milking she gave us almost 4 cups of milk and has consistently given 3-4 cups per milking ever since. We are milking her every morning and every night and like our vet recommended we are also milking her a little bit many times throughout the day to help keep her uterus contracting until the placenta is expelled. She is also on some medication to avoid infection and get her past this. Our plan was for the goats to nurse their babies until a few weeks after I had my baby and then we would start the daily milking later in May. Well, this obviously has not gone according to "the plan" but its really working out quite nicely. And milking is much easier and faster than I expected it to be...more on milking in another post :)

Bryan and I were determined to be with Poppy for her birth to help her so this same thing wouldn't happen again! We talked over various signs that could have told us that Peaches was in labor and the major signs showed up in Poppy that night - She refused to eat her dinner (which is completely out of character for her), doing alot of pacing, would not lay down for bed, and her udder sack had significantly filled up and hardened throughout that day. I went to bed early assuming that I would be up at some point! Bryan stayed up and monitored the situation and told me he would wake me up if anything happened. I was sound asleep and suddenly heard the back door fly open and Bryan yelling "Its Happening!!" then the door slammed. I flew out of bed (as fast as I could "fly" being 37 weeks pregnant), threw on my boots, grabbed my gloves, and ran out the door...glancing at the clock on the way by seeing that it was 1:30am. As I was scrambling to get myself out the door I kept hearing Poppy's extremely loud cries of labor and this made me all the more anxious to be by her side! 

In a matter of moments I was out the door and Bryan and I were standing there in utter confusion looking at each other saying "Now what?"! With every contraction Poppy would have she would cripple down to the ground or try and get away from the pain. It was very obvious in those moments that our vet was probably completely right about Peaches labor. We were seeing Poppy cry out in pain and back up or try and walk forward. She was doing everything against the contractions except PUSH! Time was passing and she wasn't progressing. All the research we had done said that her animal instinct would kick in and she would birth the babies...but in the back of our minds we knew what happened to Peaches baby. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I got down on the ground to hold Poppy. The next contraction came and she cried out and fell into me with her head over my shoulder. Bryan came behind her to brace her body and she had a great push! The whole time she was laboring, Peaches was standing behind me quietly "talking" to her, it was very precious and sad all at the same time. Then with the next contraction and a hard push she had her first little baby!! Bryan and I were SO excited but still nervous if the baby was alright and what we should do. It felt like an eternity and the baby wasn't breathing. Bryan kept trying to put Poppy's nose down to the baby to get her to clean him up as well as forming the bond...then moments later the baby sneezed and let out the cutest little cry. We all took a huge sigh of relief!! Then we sat there wondering..."well, is there another one? Ummm, how do we know? Ummm how long do we wait?". A few minutes passed and I ran inside to get our "goat book", I flew to the chapter on birth and there was nothing about how long it might take for the next one to come out. I tried to Google it and found nothing...then I heard Poppy scream...YEP, here it comes!! I ran back out and sat right down with Poppy and she pushed hard and out came #2. At this point we thought for sure she was done since we were told that a first time freshener usually only has 1 baby...we thought 2 babies was great! Then without hesitation Poppy let out another cry and pushed out baby #3. Three Babies!! She immediately began cleaning them up and we hear 2 more little sneezes and 2 more little cries. All 3 babies were ok. This whole process only lasted about 20 minutes. Poppy did great forming a bond immediately with each of them and accepted all 3 babies wonderfully. We were told there could be a serious risk of abandonment with a first time mommy having more than 1 baby. They were all nursing within moments and not even 15 minutes after birth they were standing up and stumbling around. Bryan and I were slightly in shock at this point :) What an amazing experience! We sat in awe for almost 2 hours just watching the babies and Poppy. Bryan had been up all night so he decided to turn in for the night and I said I would stay up for a little bit longer to wait for the placenta to be delivered. About 5am Poppy delivered the placenta and she was already well on her way to being a good mommy!

Here is a picture of Poppy and her 3 babies about 10 minutes after their birth. You can see Peaches is in the background very much involved...shes going to be a great "Aunty Peach"

We gave Poppy time to get her babies all cleaned up and each of them had their first nursing. Then we moved them over to the goat barn shelter. With all the excitement of the evening we didn't think to check the weather forecast and within 5 minutes of moving them it started to rain! We were very grateful we moved them to the shelter before the rain started. 

This all just goes to show that we have little to no control over life and our plans! We have been tremendously blessed this past weekend to learn the highs and lows as well as the risks and rewards. As much as it grieves me that Peaches lost a baby and is now going through a lot of changes and discomforts, I am grateful that we were able to learn from her situation and help Poppy get through her first labor with 3 healthy babies. 
I have so many stories and pictures to share from these few days of goat babies! I look forward to sharing them with you all...assuming I can get myself inside to type them all instead of sitting outside holding those precious little balls of fluff!! 

 Henry and Addie cant get enough of these precious babies!! 

Sarge is extremely intrigued by them as are they curious about him. He is very good with them! It is funny to watch Sarge sit in the backyard and have 16 little baby chicks running all over him as well as 3 tiny baby goats jumping around him. Sometimes he looks annoyed and other times he just looks like a proud grandpa :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Planting

My seedlings tables are overflowing with plants and I love it!! However, it is time for those seedlings to be planted. We started on Saturday by doing the final preparations on the beds and aerating (digging up to loosen) the soil one last time. On Saturday, We were able to plant 1 bed of tomatoes and planted 46 tomato plants. Then last night (Monday) we were able to plant our second bed of tomatoes and planted another 45 tomato plants! We still have a lot to plant, but I am moving quite slow...seeing as I'm over 8 months pregnant now.

I plant my tomatoes 2 feet apart on the drip of the dripper line...so they get water placed right at the roots. Some people say that this is too close to plant heirloom tomatoes, but this is the way I did it last year and they were extremely productive all the way to the last frost of the season!

We are also going to do the "wall of tomatoes" like we did last year instead of using tomato cages. (more info and pictures once we get our "wall" up). 

I have a tendency to obsess over the layout of the garden and waste a lot of time trying to decide exactly how and where to plant everything so it will be "perfect"...but the fact of the matter is that it always changes and it will never be "perfect". I was focused on the tomatoes on Saturday and wanted to get as many in the ground as I could.  I have 13 tomato varieties and well over 100 seedlings. I wasn't planning on using all these tomato plants but will sell the extras that we don't have space for in the garden. The varieties I planted are: Orange Kentucky Beefsteak, Red Beefsteak, Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge, Red Zebra, Big Zebra, Gold Medal, Mini Orange, Black Cherry, Violet Jasper, Red Fig, Egg Yolk, Besser, and Porter. All these will present a wide variety of colors and sizes! 

I couldn't decide which order to plant them in or which bed to put each variety. After Bryan and I sat laughing at how ridiculously obsessive I was being (I wasted well over an hour just staring at the plants)...we decided to have a "random wall of tomatoes". So we rotated the entire bed and didn't plant any varieties together! It will still be easy to identify which plant is which (based on the size and color of the fruit and it will be fun to pick  from all the random color and variety along the wall! This will help with disease prevention as well. 

Having drip irrigation really saves on time as well as water consumption. It places a drip of water at an exact root system for a designated amount of time. Bryan even installed shut off valves on each dripper line so we can only use water on the beds that are planted as well as regulate the amount of water that each bed receives.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chicks first run in the yard...5 weeks old!

 Addie loves these baby chicks! She has taken such good care of them. It is quite funny how much they trust her and seem to really like her too. The chicks are still in their own area and separated from the grown hens, but on Saturday we gave a few chicks a run around the yard to see how they would do. They really did quite well! 

Addie picked out 5 chicks to have the first run in the yard and she kept a good eye on them to make sure the grown hens didn't hurt them. She introduced them to their "home to be" (the coop) and then mostly carried them around and showed them the yard one at a time. She likes to carry the chicks under her arm like a little football...the chicks seem to feel pretty safe and don't try to get away. I was afraid Addie would hold them too tight or hold them in a way that would hurt them, but she seems to know just how to hold them.  

The chicks are getting big and starting to have quite a few feathers. We can already tell a few of the chicks that will be roosters because their combs are getting big and red!

Every once in a while Addie would take a break from carrying around a little chick to go sing to one of the goats. Poppy is getting quite large and I can tell she is so uncomfortable...she is due to kid any day now! Addie went and sat in the goat barn with her to pet, sing and feed her. It was very adorable!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Misery Loves Company

Peaches and Poppy are SO close to kidding!!! I am absolutely ecstatic to meet these tiny baby goats! Peaches is due in 9 days (April 17th) and Poppy is due in 14 days (April 22nd)... yes and I am due in 34 days (May 12th). I can tell Peaches and Poppy are uncomfortable as I look out at them just sprawled out laying down while they eat. I love to go sit out with them and we can all be uncomfortable together, grunting and groaning and moving quite slow!

Peaches is becoming SO affectionate. I go and sit out on their table and she will jump up and walk around behind me, tuck her head under my arm then lay her head on my chest while making little noises until I start petting her. If I try to get up or stop petting her (which is obviously a preposterous idea!), she will let out a little
"Nay" and put her hoof on my leg as if to say "No, don't even think about leaving". This has been great for following her babies progress. I can put my hand on the right side of her belly and feel that tiny little goat move around inside...SO precious!
We have been wondering for a couple months if Peaches was even pregnant because she is so much smaller than Poppy, but being able to feel Peaches baby move this past week or so has changed our minds on that! Poppy is obviously carrying at least 1 baby in there...we are thinking she just probably has more babies. However, she also eats ALOT more! Poppy's personality is more "all business" and when it is time to eat she doesn't look up for anything, but Peaches is more social and when we feed them she will still want to hang out and "talk". She is learning and is getting a little more aggressive when it comes to food...any pregnant lady can totally understand that!!  Both of their udder sacks are dropping (have been for about a month now) and starting to fill up and get ready for milking! This was also another reason we thought Peaches wasn't pregnant because her udder sack didn't drop nearly as early as Poppy's...but shes all caught up now!
The clock is ticking and we are going to get to see those babies soon!! They are going to be tiny and precious and I absolutely can not wait!! 

Baby Chick update! 3 1/2 weeks old :)

These little chicks are hilarious! Their feathers are growing in nicely and the baby fluff is disappearing from view. They are getting little personalities and making ALOT of noise! 

Addie loves to sit out in the garage with them and talk to them. Occasionally, Sarge will come by for a sniff and to see what all the commotion is about...did I mention they make alot of noise. Its a cute noise...just constant little chirping, but I can tell Sarge isn't too fond of the constant tweets! We do have 1 daredevil chick that keeps figuring out how to get out of their 4 foot tall area. I have no idea how it is getting out, but Addie just goes over and scoops up the baby chick and takes it back to be with the others. It was very amusing yesterday when we were all sitting out in the backyard and all of the sudden this little chick comes waltzing out of the garage slightly curious but slightly confused. Addie jumped right up and said "Bad chicky! Bad chicky!". 
Im excited to see the relationship Addie will have with these chicks as they get older. She absolutely loves them and LOVES to find worms and bugs to toss in their for "Her baby chicks". They, of course, LOVE that! Addie has also discovered that she can stick her finger in through the chicken wire and all "her babies" come running...I keep trying to tell her that they come running because they think her finger is food she is bringing to them! Right now their little beaks don't hurt, just tickle.

So far we still have all 16 chicks and they are eating and drinking like crazy and flapping, fluffing, and chirping constantly. We are very excited to see them grow up!

Hardening off the seedlings...getting ready for planting!

 Its time to start hardening off the plants and getting them ready for the garden!!
The night before last Bryan built me a counter top out on our back deck. He used 2-12 foot treated planks (2"x12") and secured them to the railing, then braced it all up and trimmed it out! It has been nice to have a little extra  counter space...especially nice for the kids to eat outside! This counter has been perfect for bringing the plants outside! Yesterday was their first day outside and we had a slightly overcast day with nice misty rain coming down...and mild wind. All those factors made it perfect for their first day outside! They were only out for about 4 hours and then the hot sun came out and the winds picked up, so I brought them back inside.

The tomatoes are doing fantastic and will be ready to go in the ground in just a week or so!

 We have several varieties of lettuce and they are looking good as well, along with arugula, bok choy, spinach, celery, and a colorful array of peppers and flowers!
Im still trying to get my garden planned exactly how I want it to lay out...I keep changing my mind! The hardest part is the rotation! I dont want to plant my tomatoes all in the same place as last year (for soil reasons), but they worked SO good there last year so I am having a hard time seeing them be as fabulous anywhere else. We are also trying to utilize our beds better! Since our garden is on drip irrigation (which is awesome!!) I have to be careful not to have empty places in the garden that are being watered just because the rest of the bed is being watered. Planning and preparation is crucial. There are also a few plants that I am not planting again (broccoli, carrots, potatoes) and am going to try and focus on larger quantities of the tomatoes, beans, peas, leafy greens, peppers, and onions. This way I can utilize my beds and rotations better and barter my produce with someone who is actually good at growing the stuff that totally fails here :)
I am really excited for this gardening season and can not wait to see my little seedlings in the ground...and on my dinner plate!!!  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Craft time Volcano

Paper Mache Volcano is super easy and crazy inexpensive! All you need is some creativity!
What you need:
- A Bucket of flour and water well mixed. I used 5 cups of flour to 3 cups of water.
- Jar/Bottle for the inside of your volcano
- Paper (junk mail, paper grocery sacks, old bills, etc)
- Platform (I used a plastic storage tote lid)
- Paint
- Baking Soda and Vinegar (and red food coloring if you have some!)
Start by building up a base around your volcano center with some crinkled up paper. Dip your paper in the flour/water mixture and slide off any excess then start building your volcano as large or small as you would like! This can get quite messy...but the kids will love it and its super easy to clean up!
Once your volcano is formed, let it dry. This could take a few hours or overnight depending on how wet you made your mixture. I recommend letting it set overnight anyway, this will help extend the craft time over the course of several days!

Then its time to COLOR!! Henry and Addie wanted to use markers and finger paints so they spent some time scribbling all over their volcano. Addie even used a tape measure to see how far the lava would have to fall. Then the painting began.

 This is definitely the messiest part and the most fun! 
Henry and Addie had a blast and they got real creative making different aspects to their volcano even a pond. We use refillable finger paints from Crayola.

Let the dry overnight and then when you have a nice warm sunny day, take your volcano outside and let the fun begin! Henry set up some trees and a castle while Addie set rocks "throughout the land". They had a good time creating an entire story around the volcano! Don't let that creativity stop, encourage them to build the story and it will make it more fun for you and them! Its seriously hilarious to hear the things kids come up with!!

 Fill your inside with baking soda and when you are ready just pour in the vinegar!! I forgot to add the red food coloring, but the kids loved it just the same :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Chicks first run outside

It's such a beautiful day out so I thought I'd let the chicks have some outside time while I clean out their box. We propped up a little run area for them with a large screen on top so its covered on all sides and no one can escape...and nothing can get in either! The chicks are almost 3 weeks old so not nearly old enough to be let loose in the yard with the other chickens, but a couple hours in an enclosed area will be good for them. They are flapping and running, digging and chirping.16 little balls of fluffy feathers all exploring and discovering new things...heart warming and precious to watch!
Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be even nicer so hopefully we can give them more outside time than just a few hours.
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