Friday, December 19, 2014

Blinking lights...tinsel....and the smell of Christmas.

Christmas time is busy. Stringing lights....wrapping gifts...decorating inside and out...and baking. Mix that all in with a homestead and you have one tired momma! That is me. We are finished with all of the decorating....finally. This Sunday our home will be filled with laughter and love. My two sisters and their families will all be here for our family Christmas party. We host it every year, since we have the largest home and plenty parking. I try to make it as festive as possible...with plenty decorations....everywhere! Yes...everywhere.
The entryway banister. This is what greets our guests.
In the front yard...a few of the decorations. The tree....
The Village...
There are so many more....but I didn't want to bore you.... So today....After the morning chores...I have 5 ricks of firewood being delivered. I was able to get a good deal... at least I think...I can only hope they will stack it for me, but if not...then I will have to get to it when I can. After the wood is delivered I need to make one last trip into town for last minute groceries so I can get to baking. For the Family gathering, we will have "finger foods" Sandwiches, cranberry meatballs and mini sausages, a large vegetable platter with dips, cookies, brownies, sweet breads....oh boy do I have a lot to get finished! We always have what is called a "dirty Santa" gift grab. Everyone puts a gift in the middle of the floor....and we draw numbers. Starting at one...pick a gift and open it....then number two...if they want number ones gift, they "grab it" and switch. It is exciting and fun...and the gifts are always great! This is what I received last year....
Luckily I had a high there was little chance that someone would "grab" it from me! The children receive several gifts. As the hostess, I buy each child a small gift...then that child's parents buy them each a gift... and usually my 2 sisters buy each child a gift. It really is about the kids...and the food and making memories. By Sunday morning...I will be found laying in a heap of Christmas bliss....Then I will have just a few days to recover for Christmas day. More baking, cleaning, and gift wrapping.One more trip into town to buy gifts for all of the critters outside. Fresh fruits and vegetables will be found by each one Christmas morning. Hanging cabbages for the chickens.... a mix of apples and carrots for the pigs, goats and rabbits. The dogs will have wrapped toys under the tree and snacks in their stockings. Nikki, our Macaw will not be left out. She too will have new toys and treats. Do you give your critters "gifts" this time of year?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A break in the weather... a blessing in disguise.

A few weeks ago, the weather gave us a taste of real winter. Single digit temperatures.... winds... snow... just down and out C O L D ! The water troughs were frozen with a 3 inch layer of ice. Hauling buckets of warm water to the animals. Fluffing the bedding so the critters could get down in it and stay warm. Yes, it was COLD! Then the weather broke. Highs back into the 50's, lows in the upper 20's and low 30's. This little break in the cold weather is a blessing. It gives us more time to get that firewood brought up to the house, get the plastic on the coop windows, stack in the feed and hay and just get ready for what is to come for us in January/February. It is much nicer to do these things in 50 degree weather. So, not really knowing how long this will last, The next few days I will be doing what I can, if it doesn't rain, to get the critters ready for winter. Plastic on the windows will be the first job, easy enough to do.... I can get that done in a day. Next I need to move a new crate from the storage area next to the shop, over to the pig area. Right now I have my sow and boar together, and the 2 little ones in a different area to grow out. My concern is that the sow will be bred for a winter farrow. I really do NOT want babies in winter... time is of the essence. Then I need to increase the size of the hut for the 2 little piggies. They are growing pretty quickly, and need more room. I plan to use a few wood panels from the crates we had taken apart, and just add on to the existing hut. Keeping these babies warm will keep them from burning off weight trying to keep warm. Putting up Christmas decorations are a lot easier in these warmer temps too. I want to get it lit up out there for the grand babies. The girls really "light up" when they see all of the decorations. A smiling child warms my heart. It is a lot of work, but worth it. Oh, and a wonderful surprise happened here. See, a few years ago, we were adopted by a stray female cat. With a small orange stripe down her forehead, I decided to call her Gizmo. She was super friendly. Her little motor would purr so loudly I could feel it rumble in my chest. I fell hard for Gizmo. A great barn cat, great mouser, friendly and super cuddly. Well, about 6 months ago, I noticed Gizmo didn't show up for breakfast. Not uncommon for a barn cat to miss a meal....but she didn't show for the evening feeding either. Days went by...then weeks...then months. No Gizmo. I haven't seen her in just about 6 months now. It was hard thinking about the "what if's" All I could think was... " I hope she didn't suffer" Well, a few days ago, as I made my way to the barn, I was greeted by several of the barn kitties, one of them being Giz2. She is Gizmo's little twin, ( daughter) Unfortunately Giz2 is feral so no chance to hear if she has that same little purring motor. Giz2 came running up, and as usual I reached down to try petting her. This time, she didn't back away! As a matter of fact, when I reached out for her, she leaned into my hand. I decided to try picking her up for a cuddle...and she let me! As I hold her, listening to that strong purr, I see...another Giz looking cat coming from the barn. So, if THAT is Giz2......the one I am holding MUST be... MY GIZMO!!I quickly checked her ears. Neither one of them have been MUST be my Gizmo! Yes, she is home! I have no idea where the last 6 months have taken her. She is fat and healthy...and hopefully NOT pregnant. She was not here for the " great kitty roundup" for spay/neuter day. Had someone taken her in making her a house kitty? Did she get in some delivery truck, or someones car and go on an adventure? Whatever her story is, I will never know. I am just happy that she made her way back to the farm. She is one of the "special" barn cats, that I had gotten close to. Now she is there to greet me every morning in the barn with her little squeak of a meow, and a loud purr. Welcome home Gizmo.