Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harvest Numbers

In the last 36 hours:

Hours of work: 28
Hours of sleep: 5
Hours neither working nor sleeping: 3
Showers: 0
Times I lost my temper: 1
Really good laughs: 2
Times I forgot my own name: 3
Layers of dust on me: at least 9

All in all it's been really good so far. Please say a little prayer for us, as we continue cherry harvest.

I'm going to take a nap. Wake me when it's over.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In 16 Hours

In 16 hours (4am, PST), Cherry Harvest 2011 will have officially begun.

Please say a little prayer for us, and I'll see you on the other side!

Oh yes, and I hope to use my camera at some point again this year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

4 Things We Learned About Raising Chicks

Well, our new little chicks are almost three weeks old now.

So far there has been no cannibalization (picking on each other and eating feathers) in this crowd, as was rampant in the last bunch. They're just fat and happy little birds.

We learned quite a bit from our first experience of raising chickens last Summer. These are just a few items I wish I'd known (despite copious amounts of research) last year:

#1: You absolutely need plenty of space in the brooder. Crowded chicks aren't happy. Those little cardboard-rolls that you see in every "chick starter kit" are useless after the first week. Start out with a great big area (ours is a 4x4 wooden apple bin).

#2: Don't be paranoid about the brooding temperature. I drove myself batty last year trying to keep the brooder at exactly 95 degrees, then 90, then 87, then 85, then 82.5, and so on. This time around we have a brooder large enough that there are hot and cold zones. We keep the heat lamp at the same height (no raising and lowering which was a mess last year) and the chicks can sit where they want -- super warm under the lamp and cooler in the rest of the area.

#3: Chick waterers need to be up on a block. Last year, the constant struggle was to keep the shavings out of the waterer. No matter how often we filled it, they'd kick shavings into it to sponge up all of the water and were, therefore, forever thirsty. It seems like such a "duh" thing, but if you put the waterer up onto a brick or a piece of wood, it stays clean.

#4: Chick waterers last exactly 2 weeks. If you order the minimum 25 chicks from most hatcheries, those nice little chick waterers will keep your chicks hydrated for about 6 hours. Yes, you can keep several of them around, but why not just graduate them to the adult waterer from the get-go? 

Sometime around the first week of November we can expect our first eggs. And this time, I hope there won't be any egg-eaters. But more on that later...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Regrets Frivolity

Dreaming of building a house, someday, we have to watch every penny we spend pretty closely. But sometimes, something comes along that distracts me from the goal... something beautiful, something functional, but something utterly unnecessary.

This is one such occasion.

I don't mind splurging a little for beauty.

Spotted on Craigslist...

Utterly frivolous.

Utterly gorgeous.

Utterly worth it.

And at $50 for a seven piece silver plated tea set, I could hardly afford not to buy it (right?).

Would you care for a spot of tea?

Do you ever splurge on frivolity? What are your weaknesses?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Politics of Bath Towels

I think I have a secret unfulfilled desire to run for office.

I'm a policy maker, you see. I have a policy for just about everything.

"Milk goes on the top shelf."

"Dishrags may only be used for 24 hours."

"You open it, you close it. You dirty it, you clean it. You take it out, you put it back."

"Shoes on your feet or in the closet."

"The shower door must remain closed."

"A place for everything and everything in its place."

"5 minutes early is on time."

I have other policies too... life insurance, health insurance, car insurance...

You get the drift.

But it has come to my attention, lately, that I have no policy for bath towels.

When I was in college, I used a bath towel (hung on a rack to dry) for a week before washing it. After all, it only comes in contact with a clean body and wicks a little water off -- why does it need to be washed after each use?

But I find that sometimes we sling a towel over a door to dry, and sometimes it goes straight into the hamper. The spontaneity of it all is killing me. I need a routine. I need a... policy!

Reusing would require buying and installing a towel rack ('cause musty towels are no fun), but washing after each use feels wasteful.

What's your policy?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pre Cherry Harvest Checklist

Print bin labels
Make employee ID cards
File and enter employee applications into Harvest Database
Weed-eat around the scales
Clean out weigh shacks
Flag the orchard (for which trees to skip)
Make menu plan and go shopping for harvest meals
Tweak Harvest computer program
Clean out water jugs
Schedule employee training and safety meeting
Go to Confession

There are 47 other items on the family's collective to-do list, but this is a fair sampling.

God willing and the rain don't come, we'll start picking sometime this week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Very Merry Surprise

The UPS man came yesterday.

"What did I order?" I asked myself.

"Did I get something on Amazon and forget about it? No, I don't think so."

The box was big. And it was heavy. And it was marked "fragile."

I panicked for a moment that live animals might be inside. "Did I accidentally order those ducks I wanted in my sleep?" But there were no air holes so that fear was quickly squashed.

Inside I found two complete place settings of these:

Lenox "Holiday" dinnerware!

What a happy Christmas in June surprise!!

The mystery gifter was my dear generous Aunt, who shares my love of china. What a thoughtful woman she is!

I couldn't help but smile for the rest of the day.

Have you had any pleasant surprises lately?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fair Weather Friend

I was reading St. Ignatius of Loyola's autobiography yesterday and was amazed by the constant threat and fear in the 1500's of plagues. He wasn't allowed to enter several cities which were shut down under quarantine. He was forbidden entrance to other cities because he was too pale and suspected of being ill. It was serious business.

"Hm, how awful, I'm glad there's nothing like that today."

Then I heard the dreadful news that a few families I'm around frequently have lice.




If you need me for the next few weeks, I'll be visiting my long lost great Aunt twice removed, far far away.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Herculean Task

One of the chicks got out this morning, so when my husband put her back I tried to do a headcount to make sure all were present and accounted for.

Try counting a little flock of baby chicks.

It's impossible.

They. never. stop. moving.

But they're so cute, it's hard to mind.

Yep. That makes 25.

Friday, June 10, 2011


New shirt.

Love it.

Worn once.

Grease stain.


Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

3rd-7th Grade Classical Summer Reading List

I want my nieces exposed to good literature. But I'm fighting what seems to be a losing battle. The titles in the juvenile section of our library are flashy, appealing, and frankly, rather scary. Shelf after shelf contain disrespectful teen attitudes, witchcraft, elementary school romances, vampires, demons, psychics, new age ideologies, and other cheap junk that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Then there are the suggested Summer reading lists from our library filled with titles in popular best-seller literature. While the titles aren't necessarily objectionable, they're not exactly great reading, either. Yes, reading can be frivolous fun and you can occasionally enjoy pop-culture paperbacks. Books aren't bad because they're new, the classics were modern once, after all. But a nod to greater minds, a debt of gratitude to greater writers, and a reverence for greater literature aren't bad ideals to foster in youth.

By no means exhaustive, here's a little list of classic books (most are in the library) I put together for my nieces to pick and choose from this Summer. The grades are loose suggestions, you might consider some too simple or too advanced for the specified level (I may have goofed on a few of the links if they go to an abridged version). And if you choose to use any of these, parental discretion is, of course, paramount.

3rd-5th Grade

Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Ox-Cart Man by Barbara Cooney
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
Pippi Longstocking and others by Astrid Lindgren
The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
Little House in the Big Woods and others by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mary Poppins and others by Pamela L. Travers
Misty of Chincoteague and Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning

3rd-6th Grade Transitional/Lighter Reading

Black Beauty: the Autobiography of a Horse by Anna Sewell
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry
Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
National Velvet by Enid Begnold
Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Tales of the Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Wonderful Wizard of Oz and others by Frank Baum

6th-7th Grade

Kind of Easy:

Blue Willow by Doris Gates
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
Evangeline by Henry Longfellow
Strawberry Girl and Judy's Journey by Lois Lensky
The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Story of Dr. DooLittle by Hugh Lofting

A Little More Advanced:

A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

More Advanced:

Anne of Green Gables and others by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Christy by Catherine Marshall
Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
Hound of the Baskervilles & others by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
O! Pioneers by Willa Cather
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggen
Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis
Tevye the Dairyman by Sholom Aleichem
Time Machine and others by H. G. Wells
White Fang by Jack London

Very Advanced Literature:

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Moonstone and others by Wilkie Collins
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Pilgrim's Progress and others by John Bunyan
Silas Marner and others by George Eliot
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

What are you and/or your kids reading this Summer?