Cousin’s Weekend – Team Boys!

My sister and I both have 2 children – and both a son and daughter.  My son is 7 1/2 and my daughter is almost 5.  Her twins are 4 1/2.  The kids really enjoy having “switcheroo” sleepovers, where the boys sleep at my house and the girls sleep at her house.

Hannah, who rarely plays with dolls, loves playing princess and dress-up with her cousin and spending time with her aunt and uncle.  Noah adores both of his cousins, but has a blast having another boy around who can keep up with his endless amount of energy!

Our 1st trip after we got home was to Oley Valley Feed to get some feed for the critters and some fence supplies.  Then we went over to The Oley Turnpike Diner for lunch…

cousins7

and to see the animals in the petting zoo.  It was so cold and windy, but the kids liked all the animals plus they got to feed them crackers!  The donkeys were the loudest and one sounded like it was crying!

Those donkeys were loud!  :)

After we got home, the boys rode bikes outside…

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…and cut down some bushes.  In 10 years or so, they’ll be a pretty good grounds crew!  🙂  Oh, while we were outside I introduced my nephew to “Aunt Kim tissues”, too… (the edge of my shirt or sleeve for little noses).

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When the boys got too cold we went inside where they wrestled and played cars.  After dinner, they watched some tv and snuggled with Fastnacht, our house bunny.

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Sunday was even colder and windier, but they boys insisted on riding bikes again.  They managed to stay outside for about an hour in the morning and again in the afternoon.  They perfected riding on ice (which was nerve-racking for me), but at least my nephew had training wheels on his bike!

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We visited the sheep, but the sheep didn’t want any attention since we didn’t have food.  My nephew got to see his favorite sheep, Fiona, who he said was “all grown up and beautiful”.

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At lunch Dave opened his venison (or benison!) summer sausage from Shaffer Venison Farms.  After I ate some the boys each tried some.  We sent some sausage pieces home with my nephew because he liked it so much and that night I got a text from my sister, “Is this really deer sausage? … He wants me to get him more.  He was so excited when he remembered he had it.”  I know what he’ll be getting for his birthday this year!

After lunch the boys rode bikes again.    We played with the cats…

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…and played “Octonauts” (a Disney show) while snow flurries swirled around!  The kids’ fort was their headquarters and the bikes were their Gups (submarines).  At one point my nephew asked for a tissue and I told him I didn’t have one (hoping to go inside – I was freezing!).  He said, “What about an Aunt Kim tissue?”  Haha!

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Everyone had a wonderful weekend and I love having my nephew stay with us!  I think we were all tired out by Sunday afternoon and slept well Sunday night!

(I was very happy to have my baby girl home again, too!)  😉

A Contest!

You may already have read or heard about our breeding “accident” last fall with our sheep.  If not, read about it here.

Since we don’t know when our lambs are due, we’ve decided to run a “Guess When our Lambs will be Born” contest.  We are pretty sure that all 7 of our adult ewes are pregnant and that they are due in the next 3 weeks (probably before 3/13).

Lambs

How to enter our contest:

1. “Like” us on Facebook (click here to visit our FB page)

2. To enter reply to the status pinned to the top of the page.

3. Only 1 guess per person/household.

4. All entries must be received by Saturday (2/23) at midnight (EST).

5. I will announce winners as the lambs are born. If you win please PM or email me your snail mail address.

Anyone to correctly guess a lambing date will receive a photo of the lamb(s) born on that day.  Ready… Set… Go!

Flower Power

I’m not talking about the 1960s and 70s, I’m talking about the healing powers of flowers … specifically, lavender.

Lavender

Lavender is a wonderful Old World herb that has many uses, from medicinal to culinary.  I first learned that lavender was more than just an ornamental flowering herb when I worked at The Body Shop during college.  During the time I worked there, the company introduced aromatherapy items to their product line.  We all learned a lot about different herbs used in aromatherapy.

We learned that lavender aides in relaxation and that it is very healing.  We were told the story (true story) of René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist who coined the term Aromathérapie in his book, Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales.  In 1910, while experimenting in his laboratory, he burned his arm and instinctively plunged it into the nearest container of liquid.  That container happened to hold pure lavender essential oil.  After the quick healing of his burn and the lack of scarring, he began to study and write about the healing properties of essential oils.

Rene-Maurice-Gattefosse

I have recently become more interested in using herbal and natural remedies where I can (though I do still also use medicines, too).  On January 20th, I burned my arm on a pan I just took out of a 350F oven (home-grown filet mignon … it was worth it). Instead of running my arm under cold water or getting an ice pack, I went into the bathroom, put some lavender essential oil on a Q-Tip and applied it to the burn. Then I put my arm on an ice pack. The burn didn’t blister and by the next morning the pain was gone!  Below is a photo of the burn on 2/13/13 (24 days after getting the burn).

Burn

I have to tell you how amazed I was because about 10 +/- years ago I burnt my arm (same arm) on my oven when I was checking a pie.  The oven wasn’t much hotter and I put cold water and ice on it.  I ended up going to the doctor’s the next day and was prescribed burn cream for my 2nd degree burn.  Here is a photo of my scar (taken the same day as the previous photo).

old burn

And here is a photo of both burns.  What do you think I’ll be using the next time I burn myself?

both burns

Before I purchased lavender essential oil, I would pick some lavender leaves from my plant outside when I would get a burn (can you tell it happens relatively often?), crush the leaves between my fingers and apply them to the burn.  Blisters that had begun forming disappeared and the burns healed more quickly.  I also use lavender essential oil if, actually, when I get sunburn.  It helps with the pain and speeds healing, too.

Praying Mantis on Lavender Bud

Spring is coming soon… why not add a lavender plant or two to your garden.  Not only is lavender beneficial to your health, but it is also a beautiful plant and enjoyed by many insects.  Praying mantises lay egg cases in my lavender each year; and bees just flock to the fragrant flowers.

Praying Mantis laying Egg in Lavender

If you aren’t sure what variety to plant or are intimidated by the care, click here for a wonderful guide to lavender that I reference again and again!

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or herbalist!  Please use common sense when treating burns or any other ailment and seek medical attention when necessary!

Meet Our New Pets!

We’ve had house rabbits in the past (Beau lived till he was 8 and Lola lived till she was 7) and our kids have been asking to get more rabbits for a while now.  On Sunday we went to the PaSRBA Convention in Lebanon, PA and the kids chose 2 rabbits to bring home.

Welcome Home!

Noah chose a broken black Mini Rex buck and named him Fastnacht (fosh-not).  For anyone not familiar with what a fastnacht is, click here.

Fastnacht

Hannah picked out a black otter Netherland Dwarf doe.  She first picked the name Blackie, but then decided on Black Rock.  I guess Blackie wasn’t creative enough for her!

Black Rock

They are each 3 months old and in separate cages until they can visit the vet, but here’s a cute picture of them together when we first brought them home.

bunnies

You’re Doing What to Your Sheep?!

Many shepherds crutch (or crotch) their ewes about 4 weeks or so before lambing.  If you aren’t familiar with sheep terms you’re probably wondering, “What in the world are these shepherds doing to their sheep?!”

Let me begin with lambs.  Newborn lambs usually have to find their dam’s udder on their own and may try to suck on any wool that is near the udder while searching.  When the lamb sucks on dirty wool it can injest harmful bacteria.

When a shepherd or shearer crutches a ewe, (s)he is shearing the wool from around her udder, rear legs and bum. This is done primarily in sheep that are shorn after lambing to remove any dirty wool that the lambs may try to suck on.

Another benefit from crutching ewes is that the shepherd can more easily monitor how close each ewe is to lambing without having to handle her.  The ewe’s vulva becomes increasingly swollen and pinkish-reddish as she nears her lambing date.

In the picture below you can see 2 ewes that were crutched next to one that wasn’t.

crutched ewes

Our shearer is coming over today to crutch our ewes.  That means that lambing isn’t too far away and that’s every shepherd’s favorite time of year!

Egg Blowing 101: A Tutorial

Have you ever wanted to decorate eggs that you could keep forever?  You can empty and clean the eggs quickly and easily so you won’t have to use your creations for egg salad!

I use an egg blowing tool (available here), but you can also use a tack or small drill bit and a syringe (without the needle).  Along with the supplies I have pictured below, I also use a large bowl for collecting the egg whites/yolks and another large bowl for cleaning (if you are emptying a lot of eggs you could also use your sink).

Egg Blowing Supplies

Step 1:  Using your drill tool notch one end of the egg and drill a hole.  (If you are using a syringe you will need to make a hole on each end of the egg.)

Drilling Egg

Step 2: Take the cap off of the pump and insert it into the hole (which is facing down).  Put your thumb over the hole and squeeze.  As you squeeze the pump you will begin to empty the egg.  When you squeeze all the air from the pump into the egg, take your thumb off of the hole and pump again.  (If you are using the syringe to empty the egg place the tip in the top hole and squeeze so that the egg contents come out of the bottom hole.)

Use caution during this step because if your egg is cracked at all or too thin it will break as you pump air into it.  Also, if you pump too much air into the egg too quickly it may break.  I usually poke the end of the pump tool into the egg now and then to help some of the material come out and also to pierce the yolk sac.  This step will take a couple to a few minutes, depending on how big your egg is.

Emptying Egg

Step 3: Once your egg is empty it’s time to wash it.  Using warm, soapy water wash off the outside of the egg.  Submerge the pump tool into the water to fill it.  Insert it into egg and squeeze the water into the egg.  Repeat this until only clean water comes out of the egg.  Rinse the egg in clean water and shake out excess water.

When your egg is clean you can microwave it to sanitize it, if you’d like.  I place my eggs on a paper towel-lined plate and microwave on high 3 times for 10 seconds each.

Washing Eggs

Step 4:  I cook all of the egg whites and yolks and give them to our chickens, turkeys and ducks.  The cooked eggs are a very nutritious treat for the birds!

Scrambled Eggs

Step 5: Once the eggs are dry they are ready to be decorated.  Be creative and have fun!