Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good-bye 2014

2014 seems to have flown by.  We've had our shares of sad farewells, and wonderful new beginnings.  When I look at the calendar, I am amazed we are already heading into the new year and I wonder where the time has gone.

We lost Joe's mom in May. It was sad news, though we were thankful she was able to live on her own terms, for more than eight and a half decades. We were happy that she and Joe's sister were able to make the trip from CA to VA to visit us in 2012.  She will be missed.  I don't think I will ever again sing Danny Boy without thinking of her.  She loved to sing with us when we played and sang, and Danny Boy was one of her regular requests.

The happy, exciting news this year included two weddings and the births of two new babies into our family.  July brought the family together to celebrate the wedding of my youngest brother, Mike to Ilka.  It was a simple, sweet, backyard affair.  Ilka's daughter performed the ceremony, which was especially touching.

In August we celebrated Dad's 80th birthday, disguising it as a baby shower for the two expectant mothers.  Dad and the two mothers-to-be were good sports for the surprise shindig and everyone had a good time.

My niece and her husband brought the delightfully sweet Miss Anita Jo into the world just in time to pose with with pumpkins.  Anita seems to have a very easy-going nature, and I have yet to hear her cry! 

Seven weeks later, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter welcomed the second child and first son Luca Jean into their family.  He is a sturdy little guy and is the apple of big sister Eloise's eye.  My daughter, Jenn, gave birth to Luca at home, with the capable assistance of her midwife and doula.  I was present and got to meet Luca within 30 seconds of his birth.  It was quite awesome.  Within an hour of his birth, Eloise was up in the bed with Mama and Luca, and was singing to her little brother... her first songs were Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Rain, Rain, Go Away.  And then she snuggled with Luca.... I loved the photo where Luca appears to literally be objecting to having his face squished!

I spent the next week with the family, helping Jenn, Eloise and Luca, while Ben worked on completing the building of Jenn's new studio on their property, and completing the massive job of moving everything from the rented studio to the new studio.  We all celebrated Thanksgiving, four days after Luca's birth.  It was a very good week!

As three ring circuses generally have more than just two shows going on, so did our final quarter of 2014.  My niece Jillian married the love of her life in December and most of the family was able to make the journey to New Jersey to celebrate this new beginning with them.  As always, it was fabulous seeing relatives we don't get to see very often.  A great time was had by all.

With all of this excitement happening, it's sometimes amazing that we managed to work full-time and continue to grow the farm.  We continued the rehab of the old farmhouse, remodeling the screened front porch turning it into more of a sunroom which doubles as a greenhouse in the winter.

Our summer projects included building new front decks onto the house and onto my eBay trailer.... yes, I still manage to continue my 12 year eBay selling venture.

We built more chicken yards, trying to keep up with our ever growing chicken population.  Our hens successfully hatched 12 new chicks this summer, and the first of the those chicks has just started laying eggs.

This fall, just ahead of the major leaf fall, Joe managed to finally complete (most of) the trenches, closing them in and completing the gravel roadways around the property.  It seems odd, somehow, to no longer have to jump over trenches when walking out to feed the animals! 

And, as we close on the last hours of 2014, Joe is wrapping up the pantry shelving.... yep, a full year  living in the house and we will finally have our pantry!

Did we complete everything we had planned for 2014?  Well, no, but .... there's always 2015! We always have plenty on the to-do list, that's for sure!

And now, just some cute shots of the lovely Miss Eloise ... hard to believe she just turned 3 years old!

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August is Gone

We've been busy. Between the regular work travel and farm projects, we have no idle time. Even on holiday weekends, we are working. Yesterday we offloaded a huge load of telephone poles and other very heavy lumber from our 16 ft trailer, so we can use the trailer to pick up more farm supplies tomorrow. Joe can make that little Kubota tractor do some pretty interesting maneuvers!

As the summer is winding down, we are picking grapes, making grape juice, grape jelly and jam and still will have more grapes! I think (hope) we will be finished picking this week. We have harvested about 150 lbs so far and have probably at least another 100 lbs to harvest.
On August 14 two of our rabbits delivered live babies -- one delivered 11 live and the other delivered 3 live and 1 dead. The mother with the 11 babies was clearly going to have trouble raising all of her young, so, on day two, we took the smallest of the runts and moved him to the other doe, rubbing the new baby in the other doe's fur which lined the nest. Morning of day three, all looked fine, doe 2 was nursing all 4 of of the babies in her nest. So, we took the next tiniest runt from doe 1 and added him to the doe 2 nest. Again, doe 2 never batted an eye... she now had 5 blind babies to care for. By the evening of day three we decided that there was still one runt in doe 1's nest that was not adequately competing for food... so we moved her in with doe 2.

Now, all babies were being fed and starting to get fat. Doe 1 was doing very well raising 8 of her original 11 and doe 2 was doing a fine job raising her 3, plus the 3 from doe 1. All was well in the baby bunny world.
On day 9, all babies started opening their eyes. It seems the little white babies from doe 1, which is a New Zealand, did not recognize they were different from their adopted brothers and mother....a black Rex, who we mated with a brown Dutch Lop Ear. All happily slept together, ate together and began to explore together.
On day 12, Joe was mowing and weed-whacking and managed to destroy a wild rabbit's nest. Only one baby was found alive, and he was SMALL. His mother did not come back to the area, and Joe decided we needed to try to nurture this youngster. Judging from his size, he was about the same age as our babies. So, we put him into doe 2's cage. Doe 2 was immediately protective of him. He was timid and did not interact with the other babies at first, but, by morning, I found him snuggled up with the others, all comfy in their nest.

Today is day 18. All of the 14 babies born on August 14 are getting BIG and chubby. They are all hopping around, starting to eat solid foods, though they are still nursing. The little wild baby knows he is different. He just doesn't care. I do not see him nursing, but he hangs out with "mama" while the other fatties sleep off their most recent meal. He eats the grasses and the hay and has started eating the pellets. Last night was the first time I saw him drinking from the water bottle. In comparison to the other babies, he is tiny. To me, he looks like a full grown rabbit, but a super miniature one... nothing really looks "baby" about him, except his size. At any rate, he thinks the other babies are great playmates, but they sleep a lot more than he does. I find it fascinating to watch their interactions.

The dogs and the goat have their own world to explore. Ever since the death of our milk goat we have had our other goat in the same yards as the dogs. They get along famously. I'm sure we will get another goat one day, but for now, Whitey seems to be doing very well with the dogs for her playmates.

Meanwhile, back in the chicken yard, the original 9 baby chicks are really looking more like adults now.... they are just over two months old. The 3 purchased baby chicks and the 3 hatched on August 12, are still babies. We are still not sure how many of the 15 in this new lot are roosters and how many are hens.

Right now, they are just another part of this entirely enjoyable adventure we call, "Cardinal Farms.