Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Everglades

On Tuesday, we ventured to the Everglades. In the morning, we went horseback riding through parts of the everglades. It felt like we were in the middle of the jungle. Palm trees, mangroves, cypress trees everywhere. Katelyn was all smiles from the time she got on her horse, Serenity, until she got off. She was a natural rider they tell us. Now she wants to get a horse next week she said. Oh my, another animal to add to the farm. We'll have to see about that.

In the afternoon, we headed a little farther south and took an airboat ride through the everglades. Brandon's favorite part was doing doughnuts in the middle of the swamp. Didn't see as many alligators as we had hoped, although we did get to hold a baby alligator!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sea Shells by the Seashore

Today we ventured to a nearby island, Sanibel Island, to do some shelling. We have never seen so many shells in one spot. Sanibel Island is supposedly the third best shelling location in the world. The kids (and their mommy) were so excited! Brian even got in on the action. He was the "digger." There was hardly any sand on the beach. It was solid sea shells. When the waves rolled in and went back out, you could hear the "tinkling" of the shells against each other. Each shell was unique in it's own way, just like each one of us. Just a reminder of how awesome and powerful our God truly is. I think shelling could almost become an addiction of sorts because you never know what you may find the next time you go shelling. I'm looking forward to hitting the beach again tomorrow to see what we can find. Brian had the find of the day, though. He found a banded tulip shell. After some research, we discovered they are a rare find!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rocket Launch

Saturday we spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center. Truly amazing when you stop and think about what needs to happen for a rocket or shuttle to take off. We had another run-in with a thunderstorm this afternoon. Found out today by many, many people that Florida is the lightning capital of the world. Guess it's something they are proud of, but they kept saying it over and over and emphasizing that they don't want anyone to get hit by lightning--not what my kids needed to hear. We were at the lookout tower to see the launch pad when the storm hit. Needless to say, we found cover fast. But as we're finding out, the storms pass quickly down here, and the sun came out and we continued our tour.

The true highlight of the day was the opportunity to see a rocket launch. It was originally scheduled for Friday evening. We were truly hoping to make it to Cape Canveral by Friday evening to see it, but we just didn't have enough time in the day to make it that far on Friday. Lucky for us it had been rescheduled for Saturday!!! NASA wasn't certain that it would even go off Saturday because of the weather. They kept delaying it and finally got a green light for takeoff at 6:51 p.m. Needless to say, it was an awesome experience to witness firsthand a launch of a rocket from within the Kennedy Space Center. We could hear mission control prepare and countdown to the launch. Brandon caught it on video. Now you can enjoy it too (without having to drive 15 hours :-)
Unfortunately, this was as close as they would allow us. Even so, it was still quite loud. We saw the rocket before we even heard it. We could even smell the burnt fuel (According to Brian, it smelled like burnt fireworks). I was so glad the timing worked out that we could see it. Definitely an experience for our kids to remember.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Sunshine State?

After a full day of driving, we finally crossed the border into Florida only to find out that the so-called Sunshine State wasn't so sunny. Soon after crossing over into Florida, we heard on the radio that there was a tornado warning. They were suggesting motorists traveling on 95 south find an alternate route. We were driving straight into it, so we quick made a left turn and headed for the east coast. There were 3 tornadoes in the Jacksonville area, but we were able to avoid them and later safely arrived at a Jacksonville hotel. The sun came out and it was a beautiful evening. Tomorrow our travels take us to Cape Canaveral to see the Kennedy Space Center.

Our travels begin

We left this morning at about 3:30 a.m. The kids were so excited--it was so cute. I've never seen them wake up so quickly! We bid farewell to our dogs--Belle seemed to sense something was up. I've heard that dogs do not have any concept of time--I hope that's true and it doesn't seem too long for them.
They are in good hands. Grandpa Sauder will be sure to give Jazz good belly rubs! So far traffic has been really light. We made it around Washington, DC with no problems.. After getting in the van, the kids were way too excited to sleep right away, but eventually took a little cat nap. Currently, we are in Virgina around the Richmond area. Brian has his laptop along with a wireless broadband, so I am able to type as we drive. Hopefully that helps the time go quickly!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Momma Duck has hatched out 7 adorable baby ducklings!! These are black runner ducks, which walk in an upright position. They look rather uncomfortable when they walk, almost like they should have their hands out to balance themselves. They are so funny to watch when they run around. I also have a few in the incubator that should be hatching any day now. I can hear them peeping at me through their shells. Now, the only problem is keeping the cats away from them outside. The cats can squeeze through our fence out back. We may have to catch the ducks and put them in the barn somewhere until they get a little older. Brian's solution would be to get rid of all the cats, but I don't think Katelyn would be too happy about that. I'm sure that Momma Duck will be protecting her babies. She wasn't very pleased that I was in her face taking pictures of her and her babies. Ever hear a duck hiss???

Follow up to April Fool's Day

Here are some pictures of everyone "enjoying" (maybe a better word would be enduring) April Fools' dinner. Brian did fall for the jello punch. Pretty funny!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's for Dinner on April Fools' Day

Well, since today is April Fool's Day, I decided to have a little fun with the kids (and Brian) at mealtime. Our menu for tonight is fish sticks with ketchup, peas, and cupcakes with orange punch for refreshment. OK, here is what it REALLY is! The fish sticks are sugar wafers covered in peanut butter and rolled in crushed corn flakes. The peas are green laffy taffy pieces rolled into balls (Do you have any idea how long it takes to roll laffy taffy into balls to get enough peas for a realistic serving????) The peas are a little too lime green--maybe we'll have to dim the lights so they can't tell:-) There is strawberry jelly in the ketchup bottle (I know, that's mean). The cupcakes are actually meatloaves with mashed potatoes (tinted with food coloring) for the icing. And the refreshing orange punch is jello, nicely cooled and solidified! Not very nourishing--oh well. We needed to brighten up this gloomy day, although we do need the rain.

Happy 1st of April!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's a boy!!

We are pleased to announce the birth of a new addition on our farm. Length: 3 feet, Height: 3 feet, Weight: Oh, about 50 lbs. or so, Name: #3.

Yes, we had our first calf of the year. It's a bull calf, so we will plan to raise him to about 2 years of age and then he will move on either to the butcher or the auction. It was born last Thursday--of course, when Brian was away. She just couldn't wait another few days I guess. We're hoping for a few more calves this spring to add to our herd. Hopefully we get some girls!!

Brian arrived home safely Saturday evening. We were certainly glad to see him get off that bus! He had a great time, despite the bug bites everywhere :-) Lots of stories and memories to share!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Troublesome Rooster

Well, this guy certainly doesn't learn his lesson. This rooster has caused us enough problems. A few months ago, he was kicked out of the chicken house by the other roosters. Unfortunately, it was probably because his feet looked different than the others. How sad. So he probably became depressed and thought he would run away. He planned his escape and ran away to the neighbors. He was living the high life by eating scraps off the neighbor's porch and not having anyone pick on him. This was all fun and games for the neighbors until he started crowing at 3 a.m. Not good neighborly relations. We caught him doing this not once, but two times. In order to keep peace with the neighbors, we put him in our small pasture with our goats and ducks. Well, now he's really pushing his limits. I caught him trying to breed with my ducks! While this may be an opportunity to come up with a new breed of animal (we would call it a "chuck"--get it?? chicken + duck :-) How appropriate since this is Brian's nickname at work!!!!!!! Ha, Ha! However, I just think this is wrong. I know spring is in the air, but he's looking for love in all the wrong places! Since I'm flying solo this week (Brian is in Louisiana with MDS), I had to try to catch him last evening by myself and pen him up somewhere else. Brandon thought this would be humorous to catch on video. Mommy catching a chicken. Oh my. Have a good laugh at my expense!
Now my ducks can graze in peace. Anyway, the rooster has an appointment next week--at the butcher shop. Chicken noodle soup anyone?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Intense Border Collies

For those of you who know our dogs, you know they can be very intense at times, almost to the point of downright crazy. Well, it's been very, very cold lately and sometimes I pity them and let them in the house (just the kitchen area) to warm up. It didn't take them long to notice the baby chicks and their instinct kicked right in. They were trying to herd them in their little box!

Imagine the view from the chicks' point-of-view. Belle was a little discouraged that she couldn't go the whole way around the box, but she was intent on staring them down. Crazy dogs.
It's supposed to get a little warmer, so the chicks are headed to the chicken house. They are trying to escape their box and starting to stink a bit. For cute little things, they certainly poo a lot!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Footprints in the Snow

Well, I'm hopeful that this is the last snow of the season. But with that in mind, I thought I should capture all the footprints in the snow that we have around here.

Big ol' black Angus hoofprint

cute little kid's footprint
pterodactyl (just kidding--it's a guinea footprint). They have huge feet for as short as they are!

Goats' footprints. They tend to drag their feet when they walk. We'll have to work on that!

She wanted to get in on the action!

duck's webbed footprint
of course, puppy dog. lots of these around here

I know, not really a footprint. But a very fascinating design.

chickens--looks like they are trying to give directions!
petite little kitty cat

It made me think about what kind of "footprint" I am leaving behind. Do I tread softly with barely breaking through or do I stomp through to the ground below?? I know, that's deep (no pun intended :-) How do I treat others? How will they remember my "footprint" that I leave behind. Food for thought!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fluff Balls

Well, it looks like our count remains at 5. Not a great ratio, but apparently normal for incubation. Hens are much better at this!

Katelyn was a little concerned that the chicks overhead what we were having for supper--chicken. Oh dear!
The children enjoy holding the chicks. Hopefully this batch of chickens will be nice and tame. Our runner ducks just started laying eggs, so I'm planning on snatching a few of them and putting them into the incubator! I think I've found an addiction!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chicks' birthday!

Well, the day has finally arrived. We had one hatch out last evening -- at bedtime, of course. The kids got to stay up late to watch the first one hatch out of the shell. I think I was just as excited as the kids!

As of Monday at noon, three more have made their way out of the shell. Looks like a few more may be working on it!

They're not exactly the cutest thing when they first come out of their shell! They will dry off in a few hours and be cute little fluff balls.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Egg Candling

Before a few weeks ago, I had never heard that phrase before. So much yet to learn! As I mentioned before, in the olden days, an actual candle was used, but I was afraid I would cook the poor things. So we rigged up a desk lamp, flower pot, and aluminum foil for our make-shift egg candler. It was amazing to watch the growth inside the egg. At week one, we candled them and saw small black dots, which would hopefully be a baby chick. Just last night, we candled them one last time. Looks like we may have 8 or so baby chicks! We actually saw the heartbeat in one egg, saw one baby chick jump, and could see the faint outline of a beak in another. I may be weird, but I find all this truly fascinating. Better than TV!

This is a picture of the inside of the egg. My camera is not the greatest at taking pictures in the dark, so I borrowed one from the web similar to what we were seeing inside the egg. The miracle of life!
Now we are not supposed to touch the eggs from here on out. The chicks are positioning themselves in there for their escape from their shell. To move them would disorient them and possibly interfere with their hatching ability. So we wait. Did you know that the chick's head is always in the larger end of an egg? Did you notice that eggs are always stored (or should be) with the larger end pointing up? You wouldn't want your chicken standing on its head, would you?

I've read that if you are quiet in the days prior to hatching that you may hear peeps coming from the eggs. At this point, a hen would start clucking back to encourage them to break out of their shell. So if you should happen to stop in and hear me clucking, don't mind me. Just talking to my eggs :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Well, I've decided to try something I always thought would be fun! Incubating eggs. I know, I know, not something everyone is in to, but we thought we'd try it and see how it goes. On February 3 we started 14 Buff Orpington eggs (from our hens here at the farm) in a inexpensive styrofoam incubator. Little did I know how technical this would be. It's quite a process!

While this all happens naturally when a hen sits on a clutch of eggs, to imitate the process is a bit challenging. We'll see how successful we are. They are "scheduled" to hatch on February 24 (give or take a few days). The eggs need to be kept at a consistent temperature of 99.5 degrees (how do you get a 1/2 degree???).

Hens normally turn their eggs about every 15 minutes or so, but research tells us that about 4-6 times a day is sufficient. Whew! That's all I would get done!

Not sure how hens know which way is up, but we had to mark ours with X's and O's so we knew if they were flipped or not! At about a week into the process, we candled the eggs. In the old days, actual candles were used, but we used a lamp instead. In a pitch dark room, you hold the egg up to the light and if all goes well, you should see a tiny black spot which would be the embryo. Truly amazing to watch it move around in the egg. Kinda like an egg ultrasound! The kids are excited to see how many hatch. Stay posted!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Welcome to our blog. We look forward to sharing with our family and friends what life on a farm entails. While we are not a large-scale farming operation, we have an "Old MacDonald's Farm" that enables us to interact with some animals and learn lots in the process! Our animals can be quite zany at times and have provided us with a lot of cheap entertainment! Enjoy!