Apr 29, 2016

Spring around The Homestead

My roses are blooming like crazy - and they are huge this year!
Spring has sprung here in California! With my parents in town over the Easter Holiday, we took a tour around the property. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Fig Tree already has large green figs forming on it. Before I know it, it will be time to harvest and make more of my Fig Preserves. 

Our wedding arch and the grapes
Those preserves have been a huge hit with the people I have given this to as gifts. I've even had people ask for more, which, of course, I have happily obliged. But that also means I am almost out of my stock from last year! The sad part is I could have made more but instead I dried and froze a bunch of harvests instead - which still sit in the freezer to this day. The goal had been to make fig bars. One of these days...

The garden is coming along great. Almost all of my spring and summer crops are planted. Unfortunately, my tomato and basil sprouts from the laundry room didn't survive the hardening process this year. We broke down and purchased 6 tomato plants at Costco and 6 more plants at a local nursery. We also purchased 6 basil plants from Costco. 

My pepper seeds took forever to sprout and by the time they did, I had already purchased other plants. I managed to get 6 of 12 bell pepper seeds to sprout and I did plant those in the ground without hardening them. Only 3 survived and are still quite small. It's as if I need to plant tomato and pepper seeds in November to have the plants ready for garden planting!  I may just stick to purchasing plants from the nursery from now on. 

The chickens have been growing fast! And we're pretty sure we have at least 3 roosters. At least it's not 6 or 8. They've been moved into the coop outside for a few weeks now. This was after Cameron not only improved it so we don't have a repeat attack by a coyote and expanded it!  The expansion will allow us to separate the Turkeys from the Chicken food when they get too big. 

The Turkey Expansion Area

We purchased two bronze Turkeys a couple of weeks ago. They are currently smaller than the chicken but were much older than the age we got a turkeys last year. We've brought them out to the coop a few times for some socialization with the chickens, but until they get all their feathers, they will spend their nights in the garage. We think we scored 2 Toms this year!

Lloyd & Harry (or Henrietta if Harry turns out to be a girl)

Cameron is also working on building a coyote-proof pen just behind our main backyard area, too. That's because we're getting baby goats! These are Boer goats, which is the preferred breed for meat goats. These two little gals won't be dinner just yet, though. We plan to breed these two and raise their offspring for meat. Of course, we have plenty of people asking us if we will be making goat cheese. We're not quite ready for that kind of work and commitment, sorry. 

London's Goat - Sunny
Sydney's Goat - Roxie
When I told London what these goats were for, she got upset. Apparently, she wants a pet goat. So she is currently doing chores around the house to earn money for a Pygmy Goat. Amazingly, she's already saved more than 1/2 the money she needs. And she can't earn more than $8 a week. Some of her chores involve taking care of other animals around our house. She has to let the dogs out each morning, feed them both in the morning and evening and monitor Jake & Kelsey's food bowls. 

The soon-to-be Goat Pen
The Goat House - soon to be painted Red
We'll see how the goats like being next to the dogs
London is quite motivated and on top of her chores most of the time. We added these chores as we want her to understand that if she gets a pet goat she needs to be responsible for it and take care of it. Right now, Cameron and I are both impressed. 

London was feeding Sophie in the mornings, but that chore now belongs to Sydney. One morning Sydney burst into tears when we explained that feeding Sophie was London's chore. Sydney said she wanted a chore board, so guess what my weekend project is?! (Of course, things have been so busy, that has been a weekend project for a few weeks too). 

Sorry for my absence - I'm behind in all areas of my life right now. Just trying to stay afloat is hard. 

Apr 6, 2016

London's 1st 4-H Presentation

The weekend before Easter included a 4-H Baking Club meeting for London, and by default me (don't get me wrong, I love it. I attend the baking meetings and Cameron goes with her to the Wildlife meetings). 

At this meeting, London needed to give a oral presentation on any subject she wanted. Oral presentations are part of the "curriculum" of 4-H, mainly designed to help kids learn to speak in front of large groups of people. Because London is at the primary level, she could have either done this presentation in front of a couple of the 4-H leaders, a small club group or in front of the entire 4-H Club organization at one of the general meetings. After watching a few presentations at the general meetings, I asked London if she wanted to do her presentation there or at a Baking club meeting. Of course, London opted for the smaller group. 

I didn't give London the option of doing it in front of just club leaders, as I do want her to learn to be comfortable speaking in front of large groups. I still have a hard time with presenting. The last time I had to do one, I could feel my whole face go red and I almost fainted (tunnel vision started to set in, but luckily it was a short presentation.) 

And it worked out well, as at this meeting the kids were making cupcakes so there would be some downtime where the presentation would be good filler. 

Cameron and I both helped steer London in her presentation topic since she originally said she wanted to do it on the color pink. We bribed her into covering Baking Basics, by telling her she would get to make a blueberry coffee cake two times - what can I say the kid loves to bake. 

The first time was the weekend before the meeting. London loved not only getting to bake but also getting to use the camera for the first time to take pictures for her presentation board. While we went through the steps, I quizzed London on different things that need to be done while baking, from washing hands before getting started to having adult supervision when using the oven. I then wrote these basic guidelines down into a presentation dialog, trying to use words I knew London knew or could sound out. 

A few revisions were made before I wrote the presentation onto index cards. The night before the presentation, London made the coffee cake again, and cut out and glued the pictures for the board. She even copied over my writing for the title on the board. The cutest part was London kept wanting to practice reading her presentation out load, which really helped her. Such a good habit to get into. 

When it came time for the actual presentation, London got nervous. Luckily, you only get support  and encouragement in 4-H. Everyone encouraged her to do what ever made her comfortable - to the point that they would have let her read the cards from behind a chair. But London was able to read her presentation while sitting on a chair. 

My goals for London in this presentation were to read her cards and do it in front of the group. She exceeded those expectations and I was so proud of her for doing it. Everyone loved the coffee cake too. Plus, it was a nice Thank you we could leave behind at the Firehouse, since the local firemen loaned us the use of their kitchen for the meeting. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get too many pictures or video of the presentation as London quickly wanted me sitting near to help during the presentation. 

This was one of the cupcakes London made at the meeting - she named them "Rainbow Amazing" with the help of one of the older girls