Sunday, March 29, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
We have added a few more babies to our brooder. These are all assorted bantams, like the last ones. Aren't they adorable? And no, we didn't get any ducks. The ducks are just a picture on the box.
Boy, what a difference a week makes! The first chicks were about a week older than the second ones. Look below. The black striped chick is one of the new ones, but the yellow one behind it is one of the old ones. What a difference in size!
Look at this one's crest (on the right)! See how it looks like he/she has a hat on the top of its head? That's where the Polish breed gets gets it nickname - Tophatter. We already have three standard size Polish, and now we are adding three bantie-sized Polish.
When I put the new chicks in with the old (1 week old!) chicks, the older chicks hopped onto the feeder like they were looking over their new subjects.
Below is our temporary brooder with the heat lamp. The chicks' brooder has to be 95 degrees for the first few days. Then you gradually lower the heat. Tomorrow I will put the chicks into a bigger brooder box so they will have more room.
And that's it for the new chicks this year! We won't be keeping all of these. Bantams are only available in a straight run, so we figure many of these will be roosters, which we don't want. We will probably sell all the roosters once they get big enough to tell the difference, which probably won't be until summer.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I have subscribed to your blog. Tim
Monday, March 23, 2009
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Wanda enjoys writing about the Amish because they live a peaceful, simple life─something she says we all need in this day and age.
Using the knowledge her Amish friends have shared with her, Wanda has also produced several children’s titles in the Rachel Yoder─Always Trouble Somewhere series, an Amish cookbook, and a devotional collection entitled The Simpler Life, which was released in July 2008 and celebrates the virtues of the Amish lifestyle. Wanda and her husband are members of the fellowship of Christian Magicians.
Wanda is also a member of the North American Association of ventriloquists, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Northwest Christian Writers Association. She lives in Washington State, where her husband pastors, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements across the country.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Wayne Lambright who, crippled after a tragic accident, feels himself unworthy of her love; and Jake Beechy who, after having abandoned her to explore the English world, returns to renew their courtship.
Willkumm to the lush and lavish Amish country where Wanda Brunstetter's new romantic series, Indiana Cousins, begins with A Cousin's Promise. Loraine Miller finds herself torn between the love of two good men.
When a horrific accident cripples Wayne Lambright, he finds it difficult enough to take care of himself, much less Loraine Miller, his future bride. Will he sacrifice his happiness to give her a better life?
Having already been jilted once, Loraine is terrified of yet another rejection. But does she love Wayne enough to marry him, for better or worse? When her old boyfriend Jake Beechy returns from exploring the English world, he hopes Loraine will give him another chance.
How will God work to give Loraine the desires of her heart? To which man will she pledge her love and loyalty - for better or worse, until death they do part?
If you would like to read the first chapter of A Cousin's Promise, go HERE
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This weekend we ushered in the first day of spring.
Ahhhhh, spring. There's just something about it that puts a smile on my face. In the world of our little farm - even this urban farm - it means flowers and herbs poking their heads out of the ground, finches and cardinals visiting the bird feeders, the blooming of the Bradford pear tree, and ground being cultivated and readied for vegetable seeds.
And for the last three years in a row, spring at Victoria Hill Farm has brought something else. Baby chicks, or peepies, as the old farmers around here call them. We don't breed our chickens, we raise them as layers. But we do buy new ones every year, and the old ones - so far - have been retired to country farms to live out their days.
This year, we decided to do something different. We are going to try and raise bantam chickens. For you non-chicken people out there, bantams are basically miniature chickens. They look much the same as their larger counterparts, but they are much smaller and lay very small eggs.
So why do we want to raise chickens that will only give very small eggs? In a nutshell - Hubby saw some at a livestock auction several weeks ago and fell in love with them. We didn't buy any from the auction because the age, gender, health and breed are not guaranteed and sometimes not even offered. Thus far, we have always gotten our peepies straight from a hatchery or from feed stores that buy straight from a hatchery.
This year we got these bantams from a store. We bought ten of them and may go back and buy six more next week. We are purposely buying more than we need because bantams are apparently only sold in straight runs, and we really wanted all pullets. Again for you non-chicken people, "straight run" means the chickens haven't been sexed (or had their gender determined.)
We don't have any roosters right now, and because we live in the city we will never want more than one, if that. Since these are a straight run, odds are that many of them will be roosters. Which means we will probably have to sell or give away some of the louder cockerels. A "cockerel," by the way is a young rooster, and a pullet is a young hen. A hen does not need a rooster to make an egg. The rooster is only good for fertilizing the egg and helping to fight off predators.
Baby chicks need a water bottle, a feeder, something - like shavings - under their feet, and a heat lamp. They must be kept warm! So far, we have never had a casualty (except a couple that didn't even make it through being shipped to our house last year).
Look carefully at the photo below and you can see one of the peepies actually in the feeder. Don't worry, he can get out easily!
Sorry this video didn't turn out quite as well as I had hoped, but don't you just love hearing all the little peeping?
Friday, March 20, 2009
This year, I placed our biggest seed order yet. I had to order seeds from three companies to get everything I wanted, but it looks like I'm still going to have to buy some seedlings.
The Cosmonaut Volkov tomatoes I planted last year, the Northern Pickling cucumbers, the Miriam Edible sunflowers, German chamomile, broad leaf sage, rosemary, marjoram, peppermint, and the New Red Fire lettuce I planted last year were all out of stock. I will be able to get herb seedlings from our local Herb Festival in April, and I can do without the lettuce because I am planting several other varieties. But I may have to go with whatever pickling cucumber I can find in the local feed stores.
Some of the items I ordered were out of stock at all three places, and one place (Baker Creek) even sent me back some cash to cover some seeds they thought they had, but didn't.
This was the first time I had ordered from any of these companies: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Seeds of Change, and Henry Field's.
Baker Creek was recommended by another blogger (although I can't remember who at the moment), Seeds of Change looked great to me because of their sustainable practices and because all of their seeds are organic, and I tried Henry Field's simply because they were cheap. They were also offering a coupon for "buy $25 worth of seeds, get $25 free."
Both Baker Creek and Seeds of Change arrived at my home very quickly. Baker Creek offers a lot unusual strains of heirloom seeds that nobody else has, and they offer a big, beautiful catalog. They are also a family-run business.
And I love the packages from Seeds of Change (the yellow ones on the right). They have zipper tops and so are resealable if you don't use all the seeds at one time. I also enjoyed this catalog, as I felt I learned from it.
Henry Field's was a little different. They only took the money out of my bank account as they shipped each thing. Some people might like that, but I hate it. I like knowing everything is paid for so I don't forget about it down the road.
They shipped my live plants separately, which is fine, but I felt they shipped them too early for my area. Live plants pretty much have to be put in the ground as soon as you get them. The week we got them, we had several inches of snow on the ground. Their catalog doesn't have many herbs and even lacks some veggies. They do have really good prices, though, and they've been in business since 1892.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of several articles, poems, and stories, and her unpublished novels have placed in five writing contests in the past five years. A children’s story, which she wrote for her church led her youngest son to faith in Christ several years ago; much like a gospel tract led her to the Lord at a similar age.
That story, “Seeking Treasureland,” is now available. Jill is a member of several online writing groups and helps promote fellow authors’ works through monthly interviews on the "Spotlight" page of her website. She, along with her husband and children, are active members in their local church. A stay-at-home mom, she homeschooled the couple’s three sons for twelve years through high school, seeing them go on to higher education.
In her spare time, Jill teaches piano, reads, does picture scrap-booking, and enjoys trying out new recipes, especially those that include dark chocolate. Jill and her family make their home in Southeastern Lower Michigan.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Can their epic search for true love survive a father's fury?
The daughter of King Saul, Michal lives a life of privilege--but one that is haunted by her father's unpredictable moods and competition from her beautiful older sister.
As a girl, Michal quickly falls for the handsome young harpist David. But soon after their romance begins, David must flee for his life, leaving Michal at her father's mercy in the prison that is King Saul's palace.
Will Michal ever be reunited with David? Or is she doomed to remain separated from him forever?
Against the backdrop of opulent palace life, raging war, and daring desert escapes, Jill Eileen Smith takes you on an emotional journey as Michal deals with love, loss, and personal transformation as the first wife of King David. Jill Eileen Smith has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Michal, go HERE
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I have a process when cleaning closets, pantries, etc. that involves taking everything out, placing it in a nearby room and then putting it back... neatly. Of course, a lot of things don't make the cut when it comes to things I want to put back. In this case, that included a small hutch and a tall, skinny cabinet. I did keep this huge hutch.
The hutch belonged to Hubby's great-aunt, who passed away last year. She was in her 80s. The hutch was custom made by a local cabinet maker for Hubby's great-grandmother. It was later passed to one of Hubby's great-uncles, then when his uncle died it went to his great-aunt. Hubby was very happy to get this hutch that has been in his family for generations.
It is very heavy and therefore very hard to move! It needs new hinges and a new coat of paint, but I can foresee it lasting for generations more.
The hutch is just one of many things I love about my pantry. It used to be a laundry room, so it's pretty big. And it has built-in shelves down one wall. I use those shelves, of course, to put all my food on. The clipboard holds our weekly menu and our egg charts for the chickens.
Yes, I know. I have a thing for clear, glass jars. Pantry goods are just so much prettier in a clear glass jar than they are in their original packaging, don't you think?
This has actually become more practical anyway, as I have been buying more and more pantry staples in bulk. This time, I did something I've been telling myself I was going to do for quite a while - I made labels for the jars. That had become a must because I couldn't remember which jar had all-purpose flour and which had bread flour! A few of the jars are empty, either because the contents were out of date and need to be repurchased or because I couldn't remember what it was that was in them!
Some of my jarred items are spoils from last year's gardens that I either canned or dehydrated. If you look carefully, you can see tomatoes I canned and what's left of some green peppers and banana peppers that I dehydrated.
This is the floor below the pantry shelves. We keep our microwave here on a table that Hubby made in his workshop. The table fits perfectly under the shelves and is the same height as the stool I use to reach the top shelves. The old white bucket on the right is for recyclables, and that is the dog's food next to it.
It feels so much better when everything is organized!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.
DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.
Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.
DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.
She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Paige Rogers survived every CIA operative’s worst nightmare.
A covert mission gone terribly wrong.
A betrayal by the one man she thought she could trust.
Forced to disappear to protect the lives of her loved ones, Paige has spent the last several years building a quiet life as a small-town librarian. But the day a stranger comes to town and starts asking questions, Paige knows her careful existence has been shattered.
He is coming after her again. And this time, he intends to silence her for good...
Paige Rogers is a former CIA agent who lost all she treasured seven years ago when her entire team was killed in a covert mission. She blames their leader—Daniel Keary—whom Paige believes betrayed them. Disillusioned and afraid for her life, she disappeared and started a new life as a librarian in small town Split Creek, Oklahoma.
But her growing relationship with high school football coach Miles Laird and the political ambitions of her former boss threaten to unmask her. When Keary announces his candidacy for governor of her state, he comes after Paige to ensure that she won't ruin his bid for office by revealing his past misdeeds. He threatens everything she holds dear, and Paige must choose between the life of hiding that has become her refuge . . . or risking everything in one last, desperate attempt to right old wrongs.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Breach Of Trust, go HERE
Watch the Book Trailer:
Monday, March 16, 2009
The great people at Rain-X are allowing me to give one of my readers a Rain-X Car Care Kit!
Clear visibility while driving is extremely important and can improve reaction times in poor weather conditions. In fact, according to a report released in June 2008 by sciencedaily.com, nearly a quarter of all automobile accidents occur in rainy and wet weather so making sure you have properly working wiper blades is important to help avoid accidents in poor weather conditions. By routinely checking your wiper blades and performing safety checks on your car you can help increase your safety while driving during inclement weather.
I have always bought whatever windshield wipers are cheapest for my car and not worried about it. I have also always hated driving in the rain due to the poor visibility. I know, it seems like it would have connected, right? But it wasn't until I tried these Rain-X wiper blades that I realized what a difference good blades could make. I won't say I enjoy driving in the rain now - that will never happen. But I do feel safer when I have to get behind the wheel during a downpour.
So with April showers coming up, what more could you ask for then a kit like this? The kit includes a set of Rain-X® Latitude™ Wiper Blades specific for your car, a bottle of Rain-X® Weatherbeater® 2-in-1 Glass Cleaner & Rain Repellent, and a bottle of new Rain-X® X-treme Clean.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with the year, make and model of your car so that if you win Rain-X can send you the right blades.
For extra entries, just post about the giveaway with a link leading here and/or subscribe to my reader (if you already subscribe, just let me know) . Leave a separate comment (on this post) for each entry.
The deadline to enter the giveaway is Monday, March 23. Sorry, but this giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only. Make sure you leave an e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
My hubby is great at being able to envision things in his head and then just build them like he envisions them - without any plans or anything. But as we were talking about our plans for the garden this year, I asked him to draw them out on the computer so I could share them with you. I hope you can read this, I want you to be able to see all the details. Hopefully you can click on it to make it bigger this time - at least it worked when I tested it. I can't draw so much as I stick figure but I think Hubby is very talented, don't you?
You can see that although our mailbox, the flower bed and the maple tree face the road, our front porch and back deck face the same side of the house. This has to do with a long story about the house once being a duplex, blah, blah, blah.
Anyway, the only thing that was here when we moved in about eight years ago was the big sugar maple tree in the front. Besides that, it was a huge expanse of green lawn. That might be great to some people, but we believe lawns are unproductive and contribute to all the chemicals that are leaching into our soil.
Mary Jane's Farm magazine reported in its April/May 2009 issues that "lawns use 10 times as many chemical pesticides and fertilizers per acre as industrial farmland."
We have slowly but surely been turning our lawn into a viable, edible landscape over the years. We still have some green lawn, especially in the front and down one side of the house, but we hope to convert that in coming years, also. Eventually, I hope to make the front lawn one huge herb garden mixed with beautiful flowers in a "cottage garden" style. Remember, we only have 1/3 of an acre, so we need to pack it full to make the most of our growing opportunities.
This year, we are adding several elements, including the huge "garden 2," the raised beds along the fence line, the fruit trees and the sunflower garden.
"Garden 1," by the way, is half raised beds for salad greens and vegetables, and half tilled garden for various melons. The small circle at the corner of "Garden 2" represents a young ornamental Bradford pear tree we planted years ago. It was literally just a twig when we planted it, but is a good nine feet tall now.
Oh, and the clothesline doesn't actually exist yet. I have been begging for one for at least two years but Hubby said we had to finish the privacy fence on that side before he would let me hang his clothes out in the open. Well, we finally finished it, so this summer I get my clothesline! That should save energy (the dryer, along with the refrigerator, is one of the biggest energy users in the house). And isn't there just something fantastic about freshly washed sheets drying in the sun? I will still keep the dryer and use it on wet/very cold days, as well as to dry some things, like underwear, that I just don't feel comfortable hanging outside (even with the privacy fence). Some things should just not be shared with others in the middle of a city...
Friday, March 13, 2009
We did go ahead and plant the strawberries, which were sprouting in their bags. Although we haven't planted anything else yet, we have been plowing up new spots for growing as well as cleaning out old beds. In the back, with the chickens walking around in it, you can see a new patch Hubby plowed up early this week (you might be able to click on the photo for a better view). He has since expanded it even farther on the ends.
And we were ecstatic to see some regrowth of some of the fall/spring salad veggies. The carrots, which had thought were killed during the cold, are alive and well. You can actually see little orange heads popping out of the ground. This was our first time growing carrots, so we are very happy to see that most of them survived.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Diana Wallis Taylor, San Diego resident, is an award-winning Christian author and speaker who shares her personal testimony to women’s groups. The Lord gave Diana a desire to write a book about the woman of Samaria who encountered Jesus at Jacob’s Well. It was at the edge of the well where the woman of Samaria found the living water of Jesus.
A native Californian, Diana Wallis Taylor graduated from San Diego State University. She has had many occupations; elementary and junior high school teacher, bookshop owner, and conference director for a Christian college. A poet since the age of 12, she published a book of poems, Wings Of The Wind, in 1994, now republished with watercolor illustrations in 2006. She has received awards in songwriting and poetry and her writing contributions appear in various books and magazines. The author speaks on the woman at the well in conjunction with her own testimony. She also speaks on A Walk in the Darkness, on her family involvement in the occult and how it affected her life.
Diana lives with her husband Frank in San Diego, California and between them they have six grown children and ten grandchildren. In addition to her speaking and writing, she serves on the board of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild and is active in Christian Women’s Fellowship.
ABOUT THE BOOK
She went to the well for water. What she found there would change her life forever.
Marah is a young girl in love with her childhood friend, Jesse. When she is forced to marry an older man, she must abandon her dreams of happiness. At the mercy of men who are often only interested in using her, Marah must fight for survival. Will she ever meet a man who can save her?
The story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well is one of hope, redemption, and a life changed in an instant through a remarkable encounter. Jesus told her "everything she'd ever done," but we are left to wonder at the circumstances that led her life on such a tragic path to begin with. Now from the creative mind of Diana Wallis Taylor comes the full story of the woman at the well.
This well-researched portrayal of a woman's life in the time of Jesus opens a window into a fascinating world. Taylor's rich descriptions of the landscapes, lifestyles, and rituals mesh easily with the emotional and very personal story of one woman who desperately seeks to rise above the difficult circumstances of her life.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Journey To The Well, click HERE