Monday, August 23, 2010

How the land goes...

Well, we are progressing in the formation of our 'farm', prepping the soil, building fences, digging wells for is a never-ending process! A gift from our friend (who owns a local nursery and the tractor we've been using) were 2 grape plants, which we decided should be the first things we planted on our land. The Bible verse shaping our vision for this project is in Deuteronomy: "When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not pick it over again; that shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow." We felt it appropriate and symbolic that our first plant in the ground would be a grape plant. With this said, we have decided to take this project onto a new level, forming ourselves as a CSA (community-supported-agriculture) farm. Check out more about this here:

Here is our white grape plant...see the tiny cluster of fruit at the bottom?

Taxi enjoying a swim
We had a semi full of organic mushroom compost delivered - 50 cubic yards!!!
Jonathan on our friend's tractor spreading out the compost over our planting areas
When we first got the compost, the pile was taller than the stable!
Look who likes climbing around :)
The amazing humongous bell pepper from one of our potted plants!
Charlotte got to pick it
Here it is!
The first two peppers we got from our pots. Delicious!
A Purple Russian tomato...finally starting to ripen
Here are my seedling flats of various tomatoes, eggplants and tomatillos
So cute!
Planting area #4, the longest skinniest plot we have prepared
Areas #1, #2, #3...all rectangular plots that we'll use for alternating seasons. In total we have around 1/4 acre of prepped land. If it goes well, we'll add more!
We were also given 2 native Florida cherry tomato plants, so those were planted to test out the soil and area...turns out they are in an area that gets severly water-logged when it rains, so they might not last very long!
The bonfire pit we've built with rocks and broken slabs. This was taken the day after our last monthly bonfire.
Guess what we found around 10 feet from the pond? Turtle eggs!
A hawk got one of our chicks on Saturday from the grassy area behind Jonathan :( So Sunday afternoon we promptly built this scarehawk (as we are fondly calling it). Yes, we know it looks like a double amputee, but hopefully it'll do the job and save the lives of our remaining 29 chickens.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Birthday Girls!

Last month we spent the girls' bdays (Charlotte's 7/5 and Catherine's 7/6) at DisneyWorld. We hit Magic Kingdom on the 5th for Charlotte, then spent a day relaxing at our hotel on the 6th, and then visited Epcot on the 7th. We had a total blast, despite the July heat. I never thought I'd love Disney parks this much as an adult, but I have to admit I can't wait to go back! It was a fantastic way to spend our birthdays and it's now one of our favorite memories as a family.
Just as we entered MK - Charlotte is showing us she's 4 today!
The spinning teacups - first ride of the day
She got to meet 3 princesses! Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)...
...and Belle!
It's a Small World was way better than I remember from DLand
The night of the 6th (my bday) we got a babysitter and went out for dinner, ice cream, and playing at Downtown Disney - we had SO much fun just being 'kids'
Mmm...the San Francisco treat
Charlotte is convinced these next pix are real...
'Mommy and Daddy met Buzz and Mr. Potato Head!!!'
Epcot was great...but we won't take kids next time
Shades from the shop
On Charlotte's bday we surprised her with a trip to the 'Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique', in the castle, where they transform girls into was so much fun to watch!
This was her 'fairy godmother', who was very patient when Charlotte got demanding with the hairpieces
Charlotte wants to move into the castle and live with the princesses. Seriously.
We managed to find a bakery on Main St. with awesome cupcakes...this was her bday cake this year
Cold milk and warm cookies were waiting for us when we got back from MK! Hey, it doesn't hurt telling the front desk your kid's having a birthday :)
Fun time in the pool on my bday
Girl time!
Ready for paddle boating
This lasted around 10 minutes before both kids wanted to go back
Inside the scary shark in Nemo's World at Epcot
We even visited Canada! The 360 degree CircleVision movie made J and me both cry! We miss B.C. so much :( I think it was the aerial shots of the gulf islands/Whistler/Stanley Park that did it.
Charlotte was picked to be a part of a game show about velcro
We had an awesome meal at a moroccan restaurant at Epcot...there was even a belly dancer and live music! The waiter let me wear his hat
He wrote this in arabic for us on our paper table cover - cool!
One for TJ, too :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

First day of school!

Charlotte started school on Monday! Yes, it was August 9th, an insanely early day to start school, but boy were we ready. Charlotte is in a class with 11 other children and they have 2 teachers - what a ratio! She was worried that she wouldn't have any friends in her class from last year, but it turns out that her favorite friend, Zehra, is in her class! This made the first day so wonderful for both girls. Charlotte goes Monday-Friday from 8:30-12, which is just wonderful. I get some nice time with TJ and use his morning naptime to get things done with no distractions. TJ is also attending 'Mother's Day Out' on Thursdays from 8:30-12, in the building right next to Charlotte's classroom. He started yesterday and had a blast! We are excited about what this school year holds and can't wait for Charlotte to start reading - the teachers say the children will be reading words by Christmas!
Just before heading in for her first day!
Ms. Robertson, the head teacher. She is so great! We really like her and are thrilled she is Charlotte's teacher!
Mrs. Cicchetti, the assistant teacher. Charlotte REALLY likes her :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Here you everyone has been waiting for...our chicks! We got 21 (the hatchery gave us an extra) 3-day-old chicks on July 12th and kept them in 2 brooders in our garage for 3 weeks. During that time we had to keep them at certain temperatures (hot!) and refill their water/food a zillion times a day. Jonathan worked on the stable, converting 2 of the stalls into chicken areas. He built new doors and swinging windows on the whole stable, as well as a huge roost/laying component. He also installed an automatic watering system as well as a huge feeder which can feed 30 chickens for over 3 days without being refilled. 2 weeks ago we moved our babies out of the garage and into the coop. Our friends had 5 chicks and after one died, they asked us to 'take over' their remaining 4. We also acquired 5 pullets (juvenile hens) so that our egg production can begin sooner than December (when the chicks will start laying). Yes, this means that we have 30 chickens! The pullets are living in the 'roost' side of the stable and we'll move the chicks over in another 2 months. We look forward to fresh eggs starting in the first week of September!
The day we got them -
The 2 brooders with heat lamps on...the plywood kept the cat from getting in
The feeder and waterer
So cute! Playtime on the grass
The camera intrigued them
The roost! Jonathan built it! What a guy! (we have hay all over and in the roosts now)
See that nice door? Jonathan built it :) It's covered with 2 layers of chicken wire - we can't have racoons reaching through to grab the chicks' heads!
Working on the other door with Jimmy, a guy who's been helping us
Right when we put the chicks in their coop! The small red thing is the waterer; the big one is the feeder - it hands from the ceiling
Some of the pullets - they are very sweet. We cut their flight feathers the other day...but they can still get up pretty high!