I hope you know that just because I haven't been writing to you, doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about you! We've been busy, as always, but also focused on the holidays, visits with friends and family, days away from the office, projects, and recovering from the annual post-holiday germ invasion. But, you are always there, in the back of my mind. Even when Brandon was learning his first song on the guitar, on one of those raining days while we sipped hot tea and enjoyed the lights on our tree. If you would like to see the short short video of his song I made for you, click here.
There are so many things I though you might like to see. Like the little Christmas trees that my sister in law made, with Oreo cookies and strawberries. Yum!
Or my beautiful nieces, posing with the mountain of presents for our family gift exchange, holding gifts from Santa - a ukulele and a robotic cat, of all things!
Jamie gifted the family some lights that we could wear on our fingers. The day was so warm, we could go outside to play without our coats! We may have had a rave, but I'm not sure. Check out my video and let me know - Is this a rave?
The past few weeks haven't been only parties and flashing lights though. Brandon built a woodshed on the back of the barn using tin that used to be on the roof of the house. Not that we have any firewood collected, other than the sticks I gathered in a tub. We're still working the kinks out of the stove, for sure, but on the day that I collected this tub of sticks, I had a true love for the rocket mass heater. I stood near the edge of our property by a large pile of branches from a landscaping cleanup we did earlier in the year. I could hear the chirp of birds, and the cluck of the chickens as I peacefully snapped twigs with my hands. There was no loud and scary machine. I wasn't afraid that I would loose a limb, or smash a finger, injure my back, or go deaf, like I feel when anyone near me is using a chainsaw, ax, or log splitter. I didn't have to lift any heavy logs. I could carry all my sticks back to the house without a strain. What if this is what harvesting fire wood was always like. Clean, quite, and light? Too good to be true!
Santa left me brand new bibbed over-alls under our tree! The rocket mass heater was way more fun to plan and build than it has been to operate, so far. The cob bench is still wet clay, and even has some wheat grass stalks sprouting on it. The few times we've tried to burn wood in it, we ended up filling the house with smoke. It worked much better before we had the cob bench, so I have hopes that once the cold clay is dry and warm, it will draft well. Last night, we decided to burn it is as long as we could, hoping to speed up the drying process. This may not have been a great idea, because we are both still coughing from our recent after-holiday germs anyway, so smoking our lungs about five times in an hour didn't feel so good. It's a strange beast - it would be working like it supposed too, and then all of a sudden the draft sputters, the flames go out, and the smoke billows up through the fire box. Very frustrating. And stinky! We're still tinkering with it, and have some thoughts on how to improve it, but until it's good and dry we aren't going to do major alterations. Cross your fingers!
Guess what came in the mail?! A box of baby chickens! I ordered thirty baby chicks from a hatchery, and they came through the post in a cardboard box. The post office called at five in the morning to make sure we would be there when they were delivered. I was very glad we've had such warm winter weather so I didn't feel too bad for shipping chicks in December. I ordered three different kinds of chickens, Plymouth barred rocks (like Helen and Mrs. Hall), Easter eggers (like Pork Fat - oh no!), and buff orpingons. It's a mix of boys and girls so I can share some hens and roosters with my chicken loving friends. Extra roosters will go in the freezer, and hopefully I will have enough hens that I will have an abundance of eggs. I want to be that person that makes you take eggs home if you come for a visit. I want to have so many eggs that we eat omelets for dinner and make angel food cakes on a whim.
I want to have so many eggs that when I drop an entire basket of them and break them all, I don't cry. At least not for long anyway. Doh!
The easter eggers are the cutest chicks. They are striped like chipmunks and have dark eyeliner.
If you looked at my cell phone pictures right now, you would see how much time I spend looking at birds. I have a giant box of adorable fluffy chicks, plus my four lovely white hens with their graceful rooster Poncho and their beefcake rooster Lefty, to admire, but I also have five silly guinea's too. They live in the coop right now and have figured out how to roost with the chickens, but they are separated from the chickens by some wire. They have pretty feathers - dark with white spots - and ugly heads. They remind me of Worf, the Klingon from Star Trek. Beautiful, as long as you can't see his head.