Sunday, August 31, 2008

And the winner is...

Since I am brand new in the blogging community, I was so surprised and delighted to receive the Brillante Weblog award from Life on a Southern Farm.  You must visit her site.  The days Georgia Farm Woman writes of are ones of a slower, but more beautiful pace than most of us have the pleasure of experiencing.  I always enjoy reading her entries and especially love the pictures she recently posted of Farm Man's sawmill.  My Granddaddy had a sawmill when I was a kid and I loved watching him take the huge trees and saw them into smooth planks.  Of course, he also burned down his barn with the same sawmill but I will not get into that...  

The rules of the award are as follows:

1)  Add the logo of the award to your blog.
2)  Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3)  Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4)  Add links to those blogs on your blogs.
5)  Leave a message for your nominees on your blog.

Please take a moment out of your day to visit one of these wonderful sites:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hickory Horned Devil

My youngest daughter loves bugs, so when my mom found this last night, she brought it straight over.  After a few initial screams, we decided we had to try and find out what this interesting creature was.  I know I had never seen anything like it before!  It didn't take long after typing in "strange looking caterpillar" into Google before we came across its picture.  What did we do before Google?!

We discovered that it is called the Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar.  This scary looking thing is actually a very gentle caterpillar and is completely harmless, believe it or not.  The gruesome appearance is to deter other animals from eating it. After growing to more than 6 inches long, the Hickory Horned Devil will eventually turn into the large and beautiful Regal Moth once it emerges from its cocoon.

I am amazed that something so ugly today will be something so beautiful tomorrow. Isn't it fascinating how God designed each creature just to his liking?  I wonder what He thought when He set out to make the Hickory Horned Devil.  I imagine that He designed this creature with a little chuckle, perhaps wanting to create something that will cause children to stop and take a moment to be truly amazed.  Well, this child is truly amazed!  (And a little grossed out.)
Where is the Hickory Horned Devil now?  Spike, as we affectionally call him, will be taken to school today to share with others.  We will then release him back onto the pecan tree from which he was found and anxiously await the arrival of the beautiful Regal Moth.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Confessions of a Hoarder

I opened the cabinet door this morning and a Cool Whip container hit me on the head.  Actually, several Cool Whip containers, followed by a couple of margarine tubs, spilled out of the place I carefully collect them.  I have a problem.  I can't seem to get rid of them.  No matter how many I have, I can't throw any of them away. If you were to have looked into the fridge at my Grandmother's house, you would find numerous tubs of various sizes, all salvaged from the trash pile and used now to store bits of left-overs.  Now ours closely resembles the one I remember from my childhood.

Not long after my Grandmother passed away, my mom and I went through her belongings.  We came across 26 pairs of tweezers.  26!  I guess one can never have too many in case an extra eyebrow grows in.  And what she was planning with the drawer of bread bag twist ties, I am not sure.  Rubber bands and disposable pie plates, brown paper bags and safety pins were all crammed in drawers and cabinets in her house.  I remember as a child being amazed as she deftly reached into her curly mane and pulled out a bobby pin for my hair, as if she kept an arsenal on hand for just that reason.  She was always prepared.

Now each time I use my own throw-away pie plates and Cool Whip containers, I realize I learned from the best.  In fact, just the other day, my daughter asked me if I had any pencils.  I opened a drawer to about 10 boxes of them.  One can never be sure...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Operation Peacock Rescue

"What do you think?  If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?" Matthew 18:12

While this verse has always spoken to me about the care Christ shows for each child in his flock, I can now claim a deeper appreciation of this idea, thanks to my muster of peacocks.

The morning started out with rain, lots of rain.  Since we are in a drought, I welcomed the down-pour.  However, when it did not let up I began to worry about the baby peacocks we had in a small pen in our pasture.  Sure enough, when I look out from my porch, the water is rising quickly around the peachicks.  I hope the rain will stop soon.  Of course it doesn't.  So, grudgingly, I pull on my boots and slosh through the rain that is now coming down in sheets. Since the pen is only about three feet tall, I have to hunker down and crawl to the back where the babies are standing waist deep in water.  How I did it, I am not sure, but I managed to grab all eight peachicks to my chest and crawl out on my knees without dropping a single one.  Victorious, I put them in the chicken house and slam the door closed.

The rain stopped this afternoon, so I go down to the chicken house so I can recapture the peacocks and put them back up in their pen.  Amazingly, the peacocks managed to escape the chicken house and all eight were running happily after bugs around the pasture.  If you read my blog about the hawks, you will understand why I could not let them stay outside.  So for half an hour, I chase peacocks and manage to catch six.  

Two of the peacocks, in all of the commotion, managed to squeeze their bodies through the fencing and get into my dad's yard.  They huddled together and began to cry underneath the rose bushes that line the fence.  I walk around my house, down the driveway and down the road to get to the other side of the fence so I can rescue these peacocks.  For one hour, I chased and begged and even prayed, "Dear Lord, please help me catch these stupid peacocks."  Finally, I was able to grab one by the tail and that left just one, which brings me to the Bible verse at the beginning of my blog.

I walk back along the fence, up the road, down my driveway and around the house to not so nicely place the rescued peacock back into the pen with its brothers and sisters.  I contemplated just leaving the other one to fend for itself as I wiped away the blood pouring out of the open cuts on my arms and legs from the rose thorns.  

But then I heard its cry.  So back around the house, down my driveway, up the road and along the fence I went.  God must have thought I had all I could take, because just as I get to the peacock, he (or she, I don't know which yet) popped back through the fence and landed back in the pasture.  So back along the fence, up the road, down my driveway and around the house I went and was able to grab the peacock and shove it back in the pen.  

Could have I ignored the cries of the baby, helpless and scared in the midst of the thorns?  I could have, but as much as I hate to admit it, I love that silly peacock.  Did it get itself in that mess to begin with?  Yes.  But that didn't matter.  I cared for the peacock and had to rescue it. 

I am a lot like that peacock.  God tries to rescue me from the messes I get myself into and I tend to fight Him every step of the way, thinking it is better among the thorns.  But because God loves me and you as much as He does, there will never be a time that He abandons us.  He will stay with us amongst the thorns as long as it takes until we allow Him to catch us and safely return us to our home with Him.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Growing Grandma

Since I do not know the botanical name for this hibiscus, I have nicknamed it Grandma. You might think this a rather odd name for a flower, but I think it is rather fitting considering its history.

My Grandma Collins, who passed away some time ago, was born, raised, married and then raised her own in the North Georgia Mountains. Her house was nestled right below a small mountain and overlooked a breath taking view. As a child, I have warm memories of being chased by mad mama pigs, picking corn and riding on my Granddad's tractor. One of my favorite things to get to do on my visits was getting to lick the rolling paper of my Granddad's cigarettes made with Prince Albert tobacco and then watch him seal it closed and twist the ends just so.

My dad recently brought me over what looked like a stick in a pot. He assured me it was not a stick, but a hibiscus. In fact, it was not jut any hibiscus. It was my Grandma's hibiscus dug up from Blairsville and moved down to his house. He went on to tell me the story of how the hibiscus came to be.

While my Granddad was away at war, my Grandma went to work in Atlanta to help support the family. While she was there, she fell in love with this lovely red hibiscus and dug up a clump to take home with her in the mountains. There it had grown contently for years. Content to stay put no longer, my Grandma hibiscus now has homes all over Georgia as I share parts of her with others. She even won 1st place when I showed her blossom at the fair last year. I think my Grandma would have liked that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chicken Hawks

We have been battling hawks since we first acquired our chickens. When the hawks first began appearing, I thought they were beautiful.  In fact, one would perch on the electric wire right outside our house just above the pasture.  I would watch them while sitting on the porch, commenting on how marvelous "our" hawks were. That is until the first time one of "my" hawks dove down like a downed plane and in one swoop, killed one of my chickens.  I can without any tears or regret say that the hawks have now been disowned by the family.

Because we believe in free ranging our chickens, there is no way to protect them from the hawks. And once a hawk gets a taste of the never-ending supply of free food, they will be back and they will bring their friends and family!  People often ask us how many chickens do we have.  I have to honestly answer that I don't know.  It depends on how many the hawks got the day before.

Our turkey, Percy, had a baby chicken she has claimed as her own.  In fact, she hatched out this baby chick after faithfully setting on what she thought was  a turkey egg.  She was bound and determined that this chicken was a turkey and treated it as her baby.  This is when we in the South say, "Bless her heart."  In other words, "Isn't she stupid?". This saying is usually said with a smile and a slight nod of the head.  Trust is an art form.  

Well, today, a hawk killed Percy's baby.  Did the hawk eat the chick or even carry away the chick to have left-overs the next day?  No.  All it did was swoop down and break its little neck. It was not to survive, which I might have more respect for.  It was for game.  Well, take a little word of warning from person to hawk.  The game is now on.  (Disclaimer:  No hawk will be hurt in the hunt.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Singing in the Rain

Georgia is right smack dab in the middle of a long drought and has severely restricted its water usage. Everyone, it seems, is jumping on the rain barrel brigade in response to the shortage of water and higher water bills.  I have wanted a rain barrel for quite some time, long before the drought began, and finally broke down and bought one last spring. I splurged and bought one from a local nursery, but I have read that it is quite easy to make an inexpensive one from a food grade storage barrel.  The only intimidating part of the installation is the cut you must make into your down-spout to connect the gutter to the barrel.  Thankfully, I have a handy dad who was willing to help with the install, but if not, it really is easy to do.  My daughter's elementary school even has one in their little garden they have established for the kids to enjoy.  

It takes just one good rain to fill the barrel up, so you must have an overflow pipe or diverter if you don't want water pouring out the top of your barrel during a rainstorm.  There are a couple of other things you may want to consider.  It might be wise to add a couple of capfuls of bleach to the water in the barrel to help with the smell of algae build-up.  In addition, you are going to want a good screen in the top of your barrel to keep critters and debris out of the water.  If you purchase a rain barrel, it will most likely already have one. But if you are constructing your own, make sure you add that element.

While one rain barrel is not going to solve the drought problem or all of your watering woes, it takes just one good rain for it to start making a difference in your yard.  Or you could be like a friend of mine who has four barrels and is thinking of adding another one this fall...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ok...I give!

My goat, Jill, has been pregnant for a long time. I mean a really long time. In fact, I think it is approaching the longest pregnancy in the history of pregnant goats. Since a goat's gestation is about 5 months, that makes Jill approximately 7 months past her due date, a record in any book. I hate admitting that I missed all of the signs of pregnancy and mistook her swollen belly for a baby instead of her just being gosh darn fat. I was really looking forward to having a new kid around, (the animal kind, not the people kind!) but I don't think that is going to happen unless a real miracle should take place. Even my city slicker husband told me that it was impossible for it to take that long to have a baby goat, which should tell me something. I guess that something is I still have a thing or two to learn about goats! Oh well, there is always next year. Maybe I should start picking her new beau out now...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

School Days

Well, we have survived the first half of the first week of school without too many battle scars to show for. Maddie began middle school this year and Emma is in 4th grade. Other than Emma being sad that her big sister wasn't there at her school anymore, I have no worries about how Emma's year will go. All of her friends are in her class and she was excited about going back. Maddie has been a nervous wreck all summer about beginning her middle school career, so I was more than a little concerned about how she would do. I can now safely say she is probably the first child in history to absolutely love middle school!

Since Maddie began middle school, it caused me to reflect back onto my own middle school memories. I can't believe I made it out unharmed, now that I think about it. I remember vividly 6th grade picture day like it was yesterday. All of my friends arrived in the typical 80's garb of the time...jelly bracelets, big hair, long sweaters, pegged jeans. My mom wanted me to look my best and went out and bought me a special outfit just for the occasion. Now that I have a few years under me, I am amazed that I didn't totally revolt and refuse to wear it, but for some reason I didn't and I went to school in what I now call the Outfit from You Know Where. There I stood in my 6th grade class picture in black velvet knickers, white knee socks, black patent shoes, a white puffy shirt (right out of Seinfeld) and a black velvet vest to top off the whole look. Let's just say I looked a little out of place. (Understatement of the century!)

I am happy to say that as Maddie and Emma get dressed for school, they will easily blend in with the rest of the kids. I might not even be able to easily pick them out of their class picture...but that is not a bad thing, considering the other option!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


From the moment we said we would be getting some animals, my daughter Maddie begged for a pig.  She began with wanting a full sized sow, but we talked her out of that one.  I don't think she understand just how large "large" could be until we showed her some full grown pigs up close.  She settled on a pot bellied pig and saved her money.

One cold February day, we picked up Maddie's pig.  She cuddled it up in a towel on the way home and decided her name would be Petunia.  Being that it was so cold outside, the girls and I petitioned Dad to let us keep Petunia in the kitchen for a few weeks until she got a little bigger.  Since my husband did not grow up on a farm or around animals, he certainly was unaccustomed to pigs living in the kitchen but the rest of us thought it was a fine idea.  He jokingly says now that if only he knew what was in store for him, he might have thought twice about asking me out in college!

Petunia has now grown, and I mean quite literally grown, into a fine looking pig and is a true member of our family.  We even have a pig bowl in our kitchen where only our finest scraps get tossed with Petunia's name written all over them.  People often ask what is that black blob out in the middle of our pasture and we are proud to say that blob is our Petunia!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lessons From a Boy Scout

My daughter, Emma, is a Junior Girl Scout this year.  With that comes all of the excitement of badge earning.  My Grandfather and Emma's Great Grandfather was an Eagle Scout and knows a thing or two about earning badges himself. When he learned that Emma was interested in earning a badge on rope tying, he was eager to help.  They spent much of the morning tying and retying knots as he patiently worked through each one Emma needed, and even a few she didn't.  I sat on the porch and watched them work and savored the moment.  

My Grandfather will be 91 this September and we don't know how many more years God will grant us to spend with him.  For this reason, each and every opportunity my girls have with him are true blessings.  Not many children have their Grandparents as a part of their daily lives in today's world, much less their Great Grandparents.  While I know they probably don't understand the significance of the impact he is having in their lives right now, my girls will grow to deeply appreciate this time spent with him.

I grew up with my Grandparents next door to me and now have the privilege of living next door to my Grandfather today.  When I was a little girl, he always had time for me.  No matter what he was doing, he would drop everything to play ball or build a go-cart or pick dandelions or ride me around on his shoulders.  Today he doesn't have as much to drop, but he is just as eager to work side by side with me and my girls.  Just the other day, the two of us worked for hours on my front porch shelling crowder peas.  We talked every now and then, but mostly we just shelled and enjoyed the fact that we had each other.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ricky Rules the Roost

I didn't expect company the day I had a knock on the door. Someone's neighbor had a rooster named Ricky who was looking for a good home. She said he was lonely and was looking for some ladies to keep him company.  I think he must have been loud as well. Otherwise, the neighbor wouldn't have been involved in helping Ricky begin his courting days.  She dropped him off first thing the next morning and Ricky quickly made himself at home.  It didn't take long for him to begin thinking he is hot stuff and he now routinely struts around the hens, looking for his chance to make his move.  We have several hawks in the area and I can always tell when they are close by.  Ricky will begin to squawk loudly, ordering the hens to quickly find cover. When the hawks leave and Ricky knows the coast is clear, he makes another noise that must mean, "Okay, Ladies. Ricky has once again saved the day. Gather around and let me tell you about how I defended you from the meanest looking hawks you have ever seen." I love to hear Ricky crow his call each morning...and mid-morning...and noon...and afternoon...and dusk! Whoever said roosters only crow in the morning has never been around a rooster. Never the less, we all love the sound of Ricky crowing and even our neighbors say they enjoy it, too. I usually will sit out on the front porch to relax for a few minutes each day and I always see Ricky running after butterflies in the pasture, with his ladies close behind him. We do have other roosters, but Ricky certainly rules the roost here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Do they really have a beard?

When my bees first did this, I thought it was a clip from Attack of the Killer Bees.  Since this is my first year dealing with honey bees, I had no idea what this was and was afraid they were about to swarm.  Now I know that it is called "bearding" and it is basically what bees do when they get hot.  We sweat...bees beard.  Some of the bees relocate outside the hive to cool off and give the other bees inside of the hive additional room to fan their wings, creating their very own AC.  Although there are a few things you can do to help with ventilation, for the most part there is not much you can do about bearding.  It doesn't hurt the bees or the hive and is something to expect when it gets really hot, especially here in Georgia where the summers are grueling.  

I just added a second super onto the hive (a second floor to their home, so to speak) but will not be able to collect honey this year.  Since this is their first season in this hive, if I rob their honey this year, the bees will not have any honey to feed them through the winter.  But I can't wait until honey season next year, where I am sure to have a wonderful harvest.