Thursday, January 30, 2014

First NFP Class Scheduled!

Exciting times! Wife and I just got our first NFP class scheduled in the CCL system and at our parish.

We are certified NFP instructors
through the CCL as of the beginning of January.

Our first class is February 28th. The room is reserved at our parish. The class is loaded at An ad is running in next week's bulletin. I notified my men's group.

It's official.

I guess we'd better brush up and practice our materials now.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lost Chicks

McMurray Hatchery has
great customer service.
Well, we've lost 11 total chicks since they arrived. Very sad. However, McMurray Hatchery, where we've purchased all of our chicks, has a 48-hour refund policy. So, counting the 4 that were DOA, since all 11 have passed since within 48 hours of us picking them up from the Post office, we've been reimbursed in full for those 11, including their vaccine costs.

That makes it sting a bit less.

Wife and I have talked about rounding out the flock with some started pullets later on, which we would get locally. So, if we ever do have a need to order baby chicks again, we will stick with McMurray.

In other news, it was -1 degrees today. So yeah - baby chicks in the house is a must.

UPDATE: We lost one more. An Araucana. Wife's favorite. McMurray refunded us that one as well, and advised us to pick up some antibiotics, which we did. They said that the stress of cold sometimes can take a few days to become evident. So here's to hoping that the rest are OK.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Unexpected House Chicks

Having the baby chicks inside the house is a nice little unexpected blessing. With the temperatures pushing toward 0, we've been forced to resign ourselves to keeping the brooder box inside for at least the next few weeks. I thought the noise and smell would become obnoxious, but it turns out I quite enjoy the background peeping. It's peaceful and cute.  :)  A side benefit is shots of the boys (especially Thing #2) picking them up and holding them:

Thing #2 holding either a Leghorn or an Orpington, with Thing #3 looking on in awe.
The brooder box is in the background.

Monday, January 27, 2014


After the late start last year, we got a jump on chicken season this year. Our order came in today:

Our cold, scared baby chicks arrived this morning.
We ordered 26 chickens (!) from McMurray Hatchery. We opted for a larger breed variety than the four we got last time. This go-around has White Leghorns, Araucanas, Silved-Laced and Golden-Laced Wyandottes, Partridge Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, and Anconas.

Cinnamon Kings & Drama Queens

So, as it turns out, our bonus chick rooster, Corn, is a Cinnamon Queen breed:

Corn, our Cinnamon Queen King.
We had our Catholic homesteader friends from Indiana visit this weekend, and we talked about our respective operations. In conversation, we checked a bunch of chicken charts and figured out that Corn is a Cinnamon Queen. They have some CQ hens, so the coloring and size was familiar.

Thing #2 also discovered one of our black hens that escaped the electro-net to build a nest and lay an egg by the shed. So that's fantastic, having to double-check mystery spots for eggs now.

I love chicken drama.  ::roll eyes::

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hay Lessons Learned

The sheep really like this new hay I got for them.
Meatloaf, right, and Pot Pie, left, enjoy the mornings hay delivery.
They are actually eating less of this new hay than the hay I cut last summer. Most of that, though, was cut too late, I am discovering in retrospect. I waited until the grass and weeds standing in the field were waist-high (shoulder-high in some spots). It was tough work. I injured my elbow and dinged up the scythe pretty bad, too. This new hay is shorter than what I had, and less brown in most spots.

My lessons-learned, new rule for 2014 and beyond is to cut the hay when it's knee-high. That should give me 1) better hay, 2) more hay, and 3) an easier time cutting the hay. Hacking through 6-foot, woody branches is tough work, and I do NOT want a repeat of that experience.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are We Less Healthy Today in Spite of Living Longer?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: if you look at the human lifespan on a graph from Adam and Eve until now, you'll see it looks like a big U. In the beginning, humans lived for 900+ years, and this lifespan gradually declined.

Peaking at 50? Sure, why not!?
And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot a son to his own image and likeness, and called his name Seth. And the days of Adam, after he begot Seth, were eight hundred years: and he begot sons and daughters. And all the time that Adam lived came to nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.
Seth also lived a hundred and five years, and begot Enos. And Seth lived after he begot Enos, eight hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.
And Cainan lived seventy years, and begot Malaleel. And Cainan lived after he begot Malaleel, eight hundred forty years, and begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.
And Malaleel lived sixty-five years, and begot Jared. And Malaleel lived after he begot Jared, eight hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Malaleel were eight hundred and ninety-five years, and he died. 
And Lamech lived a hundred and eighty-two years, and begot a son. And he called his name Noe, saying: This same shall comfort us from the works and labours of our hands on the earth which the Lord hath cursed. And Lamech lived after he begot Noe, five hundred and ninety-five years, and he begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Lamech came to seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died-Genesis 5:3-8, 12-17, 28-31

The Bible continues like this, with the general trend of a declining lifespan through the Patriarchal period. By the time we hit Abraham, we're under 200 years. By the time we reach Moses, we're intpo the current upper limit of human life: 120 years.

Today, the average expected human lifespan is 67 across the globe. 200 years ago, it was 40. Two thousand years ago, it was 30 (although you could reach 45 if you made is past childhood).

But at the same time, there's a paradox: if the modern lifestyle is so unnatural and artificial, and chemically unbalanced and unhealthy, why are we living longer in spite of it?

More Hay! Ole!

I had to go get some more hay this afternoon.
A 25 minute drive, 11 square bales, $41, and 1 minivan. You do the math.
It looks really good, and it better daggone last the rest of the winter. I'll be moving donkey out to graze the residual overgrowth until springtime. The hay is for the sheep.

The kiddos have to clean out the van tomorrow anyway, so they'll just be adding some loose hay to their chores. :)  Hey, we all gotta do our part.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Middle Mid-January Homestead Update

Most of the time, the chickens keep a safe distance. This afternoon at egg time,
this gal strolled right up and said hello.
So, besides chicken selfies, what's the scoop 'round the homestead?

Whelp, I'm out of hay, we made our altar, and we're working through our circadian rhythms.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ending the Endless Summer, Step 1: Waking Up at Dawn

Yesterday, I wrote about the Endless Summer, the modern phenomenon of long hours, lots of electric lights, screwed up circadian rhythms, and compromised health.

Step 1 for me in combating this epidemic is waking up early.
Up with the sun? Sure! Why not?
It's not too difficult for me to do, since I've been waking up fairly regularly between 6:45 and 7:30 anyway. It varies day to day, sure. But prior to this decision, the time I wake up has been either influenced by a need to wake and go somewhere (work, Mass, etc.), or dependent on how tired I was.

Beyond that, it was entirely arbitrary.

So, I've made the conscious decision to wake up at sunrise every day. I know this will shift a bit, and I figure a 10-minute swing to either side is A-OK. But it gives a purpose to waking up early. There is intention there. It moves from living by an artificial clock to living more in tune with the flow of nature.

Granted, it's not an earth-shattering move, and yes, I stayed in bed until 7:10 this morning (sunrise was 6:54). But it is a tangible, achievable goal, and gives some purpose and meaning to the morning.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Endless Summer

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. For all you are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. -1 Thessalonians 5: 4-8

Nights and days, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. -Daniel 3:71-72

Early to bed, early to rise, makes one health, wealthy, and wise. -Benjamin Franklin

God works in cycles - light, dark, cold, heat, summer, winter.
All of the bless the Lord in their own way (Daniel 3).
I always feel more tired in the winter. I think most people do, actually, and I've always thought this. To explain this seasonal increase in sleepiness,  I have tended to say things like, "Well, it's hibernation season" and "It's cold out, and that makes me tired" and "The Christmas season just runs us ragged."

Turns out it's actually the fault of our electric lights.

The Endless Summer (ES) is a modern phenomenon characterized by long waking hours, high electricity consumption, sleep problems, increased stress, and a general inattention to the natural flow of the seasons. ES is essentially a chemically-induced constant state of wakefulness triggered by high-intensity, artificial, blue-wave lights that stay on after sundown, tricking our bodies into a constant state of daylight.

And no, it's most definitely not a good thing.


Last week, I pulled out Ginormica from the nest boxes.
Top: A regular egg.
Middle: A Red Star X-tra large Egg.
Bottom: Ginormica.
She was quite the talking point over the weekend, as we showed her off to my sister and the kiddos' friends.

This morning, we cracked her open and fried her up:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Behold, the Pizz-Omelette!

What do you do when your hens are laying at a faster pace than you can normally eat for breakfast? And when you're eating paleo?

Make pizz-omelettes, of course!

All that gooey pizza goodness with a backyard egg crust. Yum!
The pizz-omelette is basically half omelette, half pizza. It starts out being cooked like a regular omelette - you whisk your eggs, lay down some oil in a medium-low pan, pout it in, and add you toppings.

But then, the magic happens.

As soon as you add the egg to the pan, turn the broiler on low. Cook the omelette until 90% done, then add cheese and toss it in the broiler for 3-5 minutes (depending on how dark and crispy your like your toppings. Carefully slide the whole thing, open-faced, onto a plate, and presto! A pizz-omelette.

The one pictured here had tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, spinach, fresh basil, and seasonings. You could add whatever you want, or whatever you'd normally put on pizza. Also, since it doesn't have to fold over like an omelette, you can load it up with tons o' toppings.

Give it a try. They're great!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bitter Cold

In Tennessee last night, it got down to -4 degrees. Yesterday, the high was 14. Today it was 21. The animals hung in there pretty well.
Corn the Rooster patrolling the coop and keeping his girls safe. They huddled together
underneath the coop for the better part of the day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

And Now, a Mastiff Moment

Thing #3 and Colt the Mastiff watched me clean this weekend.
Cutest QC team ever.
Having a nice, calm, family dog is a wonderful thing. Having a 200+ pound guard dog is a wonderful thing. Combining the two into one hulking beast of a drooling, lovable oaf is even better.

English Mastiffs are so calm and patient with children. Right after I took this picture,Thing #3 crawled up and tried to ride Colt. He was too lazy to do anything about about it, and when Thing #3 got bored, he gave Colt a hug then toddled off. Colt then went to sleep. It was awesome.

Super Chickens

Whelp, we had our first dozen-egg day this weekend. It was pretty exciting. I was out picking up a new dishwasher when Wife texted me the good news. Thing #2 was SOOO excited, they just had to tell me.
This here is 30 eggs. We got them over the course of three days. The great
big round brown ones are from the Red Stars. No idea on the others. 
It was in the single digits temperature-wise today, yet they're still laying like champs. In fact, we're all having omelettes for dinner today just to keep up! It's been a big relief, going from despising our defective chickens in October to marveling at their productivity 3 short months later. Creation continues to astound me.

I love how even though we only have four (maybe three, depending on the one Rhode Island Red) breeds, we're getting a huge variety of sizes and colors.I'm really looking forward to adding our new breeds to the flock.They arrive in late January-stay tuned for pictures and details!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ask Dad: He Knows

Our real Dad isn't found at the old Bailey Bros. Building & Loan.
He's upstairs.
And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him? -Luke 11:9-13

As a father myself, I always want what is best for my children. Sometimes, what is best for them is a good, healthy meal. Sometimes, it's stern discipline that teaches them, clearly, that a certain behavior is bad for them. Other times, the best thing for them is good ol' fashioned hard work.

God works the same way.

I think that some people think of God like a slot machine. If we just keep sending up enough prayers, then sooner or later He's gotta answer them.

When Things #1-3 repeatedly ask me for something that's ultimately bad for them, I grow weary of saying "No." But I don't change my mind.

And neither does God.