Friday, August 29, 2008

Duck Nest!

Well, we have found that ducks usually don't lay all that many eggs in a month, and they tend to chose different spots to lay on any given day.

But recently when one of our Cayuga females kept disappearing for several hours a day, we were pretty sure she'd found a hide-away place to lay. We searched for several days, but could not figure out where she was dropping eggs.

One evening Steven just happened to find it -- it was very well hidden, although not 10 feet from the house! Nestled up against a tree truck and behind our current bushes, she had actually taken time to build a complete "nest"! In it were 11 eggs already!

We left it a couple days to see if she would actually "set" enough to incubate them, but she abandoned the nest, so we eventually gathered the eggs (but now we know where to look for new ones!

As you can see the duck eggs are gradually getting a little lighter in the shell color than the first ones I posted. They are more of a dirty gray color now.

And just because I like photos, I'll end with a shot of one of Steven's green bell peppers from the garden!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Busy Weekend

My legs got plenty of exercise this past week, as we spent most of a day viewing events at Yoder Heritage Day.

Yoder is a predominantly Amish and Mennonite community near us. We always enjoy watching their demonstrations of horse-drawn farm equipment, their buggy races, and especially eating their cooking! We started with the pancake feed in the morning; purchased homemade pie from their bake sale to take home; enjoyed the lengthy parade down main street; visited most all of the booths; cheered at the horse fun show and the mutton bustin' competition for the kids; and rooted for our favorites at the buggy races. (Although they didn't really race their buggys - those are too top-heavy. Most of them raced buckboard wagons or smaller carts. One even took the curve too fast and overturned, but luckily was not hurt)

I didn't take any photos there to share with you, out of respect for the beliefs of the Amish people, who prefer to not have their photos taken. But we came home happy, sun-burned, muscle sore and exhausted. :)

Sunday afternoon was a free day at the Sedgwick County Zoo, and Steven had been anxious to go, because he wanted a look at their rare sheep breeds in the "Children's Farm" portion of the zoo. We also got the name of a contact person for when they have extra livestock to sell off; which was our main objective for the trip. But while there, we toured the entire zoo, and it was really quite nice weather for such an outing -- it rained in the morning, but that kept things cool and we had an umbrella. Once the area started filling up with more people than we like, we called it a day and headed home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Outhouse Tipping

Yes, I know this topic is worthless without pictures :) Hopefully I will take a couple of photos this week to add to this post.

Usually, tipping an outhouse is considered to be a teenage prank. However, we "tipped" ours last night quite on purpose -- and what a chore it was!

As I've mentioned before, one of the "to-do" projects on our list is doing some major work on our bathroom, as the floor is rotting out and causing problems with the toilet. (Such is the upkeep of a very ancient house). We need to rip out part of the floor and re-do it. In the meantime, we will "need a place to go", as we only have one bathroom in our large house.

Our outhouse has been there as long as I can remember, and was even used daily up until the mid 1950s when the grandparents finally got indoor plumbing. It was used periodically after that, as we often lose power or water, etc; and it makes a great backup. But for the last 25 years or more, it sat mostly empty - storage for stuff, etc. The floor rotted out of it and it somewhat sank into the sandy loam. Grandpa had long since filled in the "potty hole" back when he was alive.

So we are trying to get the outhouse ready for our use during reconstruction. The roof is basically gone, but the walls are still intact. In order to begin work on this, we needed to move the privy from its sunken location and do repairs to the bottom boards.

First, it took several days to clear the area around it to give us working room; and clean years of stuff out of the inside. I'll admit I was very skeptical of Steven's plan as to how to engineer this move, but as usual he proved he is smarter than me :)

I have a small flatbed trailer (was a golfcart trailer for someone years ago) that is about six foot by eight foot. We aired up the tires on it and pushed it into position in front of the outhouse. Propped the tongue of the trailer way up so the tail of the trailer was on the ground at the shed. Then Steven and I pushed and shoved, and shoved and pushed (which was tricky, because the outhouse wanted to twist to the west) and "tipped" the outhouse right onto the trailer. Then we hooked the trailer up to my old truck, to "hold" it into position for now. Steven will try to work on repairing some of the boards and replacing the rotted ones, as it lies on this trailer.

Then, hopefully, we can place it in a new location and finish working on the inside of the privy, building a new seat area and getting it ready to use.

I will try to post photos of this process as we go along.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Not a lot to add recently, but wanted to update the blog anyway.

Although there is much to do, we can't resist enjoying a bit of the 2008 Summer Olympics on television. We rarely watch any television at all, and especially not during the summer when there is so much work to do; however, the Summer games only come every 4 years (we aren't into the Winter Olympics quite as much); and only for a few days, so we feel it is worth the break to enjoy them while we can.

Steven especially likes watching the track & field events and the gymnastics, I think. Probably because he used to be quite a runner, and was very good in track events. Solo sports like that allow you to really push yourself to a personal best.

Watching the games has not been a waste of time; we are finding small things we can do inside while viewing the games. Steven has been spending each evening shelling out dried beans. He planted some varieties from Seed Savers and is hand shelling and sorting them now into groups of 1)seed for next year, 2)ones to cook for food during our winter. It has taken him hours to shell all the ones he harvested.

Since we don't subscribe to cable or satellite TV, our Olympic viewing is limited to about 3 hours prime time network each evening, on the days there are events of interest. It is great to watch these young people, in top physical condition, strive to perform their very best.

Today is my daughter's 19th birthday, and my second son's 21st birthday was on Monday. However, they are both living away from home, and working lots of hours, so I haven't had a chance to spend any time with them this week to celebrate. I think this is the first year we haven't all been together for their birthdays. That makes me a little sad.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Well, having grown up on this place without ever having air conditioning, people are always amazed that we survive Kansas summers. I have always felt that if my grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather could live here without needing air conditioning, then I certainly can too!

However, for the most part, this particular summer has been blessedly rainy and cool so far this year, until this week.

We finally got into "real" summer weather these past few days with temps over 100 and a heat index much higher than that. Our severe heat advisory is mostly in affect because it has been such a rainy summer, that the humidity is extremely high for this time of year. So while temps are in the 100 to 102 range, the heat index is near 110.

There isn't a lot you can do in this type of weather, except endure your way through it. It's too hot to get much work done, and it is frustrating to have to put off projects. We are too fair-skinned to risk being out for hours in the sun. Too hot to cook in the kitchen either; but there are lots of cool food options, at least.

However, we did spent part of our weekend helping a dear friend move -- and we were pretty exhausted and dripping wet with sweat by the end. Most of the rest of the days we just kept ensuring that all the animals had plenty of fresh, cool water, and we took it easy. The chickens don't like the heat, but find shade in the tree grove; the ducks seem to take it okay, just hang around the water; but amazingly the heat doesn't seem to faze our goats at all. They act like it is the same as any other day.

Actually, I prefer these blistering days of summer over the bitter cold of our winters. For Kansas summers, these types of days and usually limited in number, and not to hard to cope. But for the winter, the cold can seem to drag on for weeks, and the more hours of darkness, along with the cold, cold house, can sure make winter feel like forever.

Weatherman says the heat will let up in two days. Then in might bring some more blessed rain and maybe temps in the 80s! Praise the Lord!