Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Sunday drive

We posted about our typical Sunday activity - hiking - a couple months ago.  Well, this Sunday we opted for a drive instead of a hike.  We thought it might be a good idea to visit our baby goats once before bringing them here.  As we said before, we are excited about the goats, but don't really know much about how to care for them.  
So, we went to early Mass, stopped at a favorite breakfast restaurant, loaded up on eggs, bacon, french toast, pancakes, and coffee and hit the road.
Our drive took us through an amazing 14 mile long canyon.  We all love this particular canyon, but had not been through it in the winter before.  There wasn't much snow, but it was very pretty.
Mark and I find the scenery gorgeous, but the best part for the girls is the 3 tunnels carved out of rock that we drive through.  There are also train tracks that run the length of the canyon on the opposite side of the river - and on this trip there was a train on the tracks, so we got to "race" the train through the canyon.
On the far end of the canyon, we stopped in a little town to stretch our legs and visit this really cool mineral hot springs fountain.  We're not big fans of hot springs in general.  If only the water could be hot without being smelly.  If you've visited hot springs, you know what I mean.  The main spring here flows 18,600,000 gallons every 24 hours at a temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit.  There were plenty of people in the pools, so some people can obviously get past the smell.  
So, back to the fountain... It was erected around 1907 when a hot water distribution line was being laid in the park.  The rangers noticed that there was heavy backpressure in the pipes. Consequently, a standpipe was built in a gulch and the park superintendent had a rock base built to support it.  As the hot mineral water exits the top and flows over, it cools and deposits travertine. The algae within the water colors the deposits.  
We couldn't get a picture of the water coming out of the top, but can you see the steam?
Now, I'm sure you're still marveling over the hot springs fountain, but wait - it gets better.  What did we happen upon next on our Sunday drive?  Buffalo!  OK, well, American Bison, to be perfectly correct.  Or you might even say "Tatonka" if you are a Dances with Wolves fan.
Forgive the picture: Mark just snapped it out the car window with his phone.  It was really neat though - there was a group of 5 just hanging out - there was even a baby with them, but he/she was behind some sage brush and didn't want to be photographed.  If you've never seen one of these dudes in person, you should.  They are H.U.G.E.  The heads, especially, are enormous.  We know people who keep a herd, so we've been up close and personal before (and bison is our favorite red meat), but it was great to see some "in the wild."

Next stop on our Sunday drive:  McDonald's.  For Shamrock shakes (sorry - no photo.)

And finally, the goat farm!  It's terrible, the goat farm was really the point of this whole adventure, but we took a whopping 1 photo while there.  
We were talking with the goat farmers and getting all our food, water, and fencing questions answered - and forgot about pictures.  But the good news is that the goats are friendly and let the girls pet and handle them without incident. We got confirmation that our goat shed will be a great home for them right from the start, and we don't have major fencing projects that will need to be finished within the next couple weeks.  It was also nice to see the mothers of our goats - to see that they have nice temperaments and that they really are "dwarf" goats.  

Oh, and one other update in the form of a photo...
beautiful eggs, courtesy of the hens at Aspen Springs
Our hens are crazy laying machines!  We're getting roughly a dozen eggs per day and the assortment of colors is so pretty.  Some of the eggs are still a little on the small side, but for the most part, the hens are laying full-size eggs these days.  At breakfast, the girls request their eggs by color :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

pretty, happy, funny, real

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Last week we were able to spend some time with grandparents (Mark's parents) in Florida.  
Lots of pretty and lots of happy!

sunset out the back door

Before dinner on the last night of the trip - everyone put on pretty dresses.

A morning walk on the beach looking for shells.  She gets prettier every day.


A brief interruption of the Florida trip for some St. Valentine's Day funnies...
Both sets of grandparents sent Valentines to the girls - our oldest got the exact same card from both grandparents. 
The girls spent a lot of time on Sunday making up "roses are red...." poems and sharing them with each other.
They brought a few out for Mark and me to see.  Perhaps we shouldn't admit to such an immature sense of humor, but we both laughed out loud at this one.

An episode of I Love Lucy is as entertaining on vacation as it is at home.

Sunset photos on the beach are great... as long as one's back is to the sun :)

Thanks to the ladies at Like Mother Like Daughter for hosting my favorite blog link-up every Thursday.  Visit their blog for more {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The 2nd birthday of 2012

I mentioned last month that our daughters all have birthdays this time of year. We had another one last week; our middle daughter turned 7.

She didn't get a post dedicated to her yet because we spent the entire day of her birthday trying to fly out of a city that was in the midst of a blizzard (we did eventually get a flight) and then we were vacationing and not blog-posting.
The birthday girl at the airport.

What can we tell you about this darling girl?  She is a delight.  Truly.  Many people will refer to a child as sweet, but this girl really lives up to the adjective.  She's caring.  She feels things deeply. She is emotional.  She can turn on the tears faster than most people can blink.  And when she does, it's not fake.  The tears are genuine - and SO BIG!  She's easily upset, and easily pleased.  She wants everyone to be happy.  She could spend complete days giving hugs.  She must be holding a hand, sitting on a lap or putting an arm around someone at all times.  A goodnight kiss is not enough for her.  She needs multiple kisses and wants to always give one more hug - then one more kiss - then another hug... You get the idea.  She gives compliments easily and naturally.  She loves to show - and be shown - affection.  She never can be satisfied with just sitting next to you; she has to pretty much be climbing on you to be comfortable.

5 months old

Very often, at Mass, she will discreetly take one of my hands - and then one of Mark's hands - and put them together.  She just feels better when people who love one another are touching in some way.  This also comes into play during our school day; she insists that she can subtract much better if I am scratching her back while she works!
Going to preschool - age 4

When it comes down to it, she is - simply - peaceful and loving.  She always has been - and we expect she always will be.  Perhaps it's good that she can be an instrument of peace between her older and younger sisters (who both have personalities stronger than steel).  Her very presence has meant peace to our family from the first moment we knew of her existence.

A very sweet 2 year old.

We have had the incredible blessing of 2 adoptions.  This newly turned 7 year old girl is our 2nd child and our 2nd adoption.  When we found out about her we had been waiting nearly 5 years for another child.  We had about 6 weeks to prepare for her arrival, which was plenty - we'd have been ready for her in less than a minute.  The only tricky part was keeping the news from our nearly 5 year old.  You see, 6 months before we'd had a newborn placed with us for several days, but then returned to her birth mother before the adoption was final. We didn't want our oldest daughter to have to suffer through that kind of loss again, so we kept the news of a "possible" new baby sister from her.  All was proceeding smoothly, until about 2 weeks before the expected due date, when we had a fire in our kitchen.  The fire itself wasn't terrible, but the resulting damage was extensive enough that we had to move out of our house for a week. We worried about the baby coming early and not having a home to bring her to.  It was a crazy time, but we did get back in the house before she was born.  We were also able to whisk our older daughter off to my parent's house for a few days so that we could finalize all the legal issues before having her meet her new sister.  The actual adoption process went as hoped and just 3 days after her birth, our 2nd daughter was home with us - in a totally clean, repainted house - thanks to our homeowner's insurance :)

In the hospital nursery (1 day old).  The nursery had 2 rocking chairs that we sat in more or less 'round the clock until the court proceedings occurred that allowed us to take her home.

As an adoptive family, it's impossible to think about the adoption without thinking of the birth family. All children are gifts - of course - but when another human person is involved in the gift-giving, it's extraordinarily profound. Our daughter's birth family made a choice that has such far-reaching implications.  Not only did we gain a daughter, our oldest child became a big sister, our parents welcomed a grandchild, and on and on.  An almost unthinkably difficult - but ultimately loving and unselfish decision - changed countless lives.  We're not birth parents who've placed a child for adoption, so we can't begin to imagine what that is like, but we are forever grateful and pray that her birth family is at peace.

Halloween - age 5.

So back to our birthday girl... she is obviously a joy to us.  No child is perfect, but she's pretty easy. We joke that of our 3 daughters, this one may be with us for the long haul!  She goes back and forth between saying that she'll live with us forever - or that she'll build a house next to us.  Just last week at the post office, the clerk gave both of the younger girls stickers that look sort of like stamps.  The girls both stuck the stickers on their coats and then the clerk asked where they would like to "send themselves."  Daughter #3 (the one who turned 6 last month) immediately piped up and said, "first I'll go to Rome, then to Mexico, then to Grandma and Grandpa's town."  Our sweet birthday girl just said, "I'll get sent home to Mama and Daddy."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

baby goats!

Now that we've had success with our chickens (all our hens are laying eggs!) we are planning to add a new animal to the mix here at Aspen Springs: a goat. Well, 2 goats, actually.
Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats!

When most people hear this they ask one of 3 questions:

"Have you ever kept goats before?"

"Do you like goat's milk?"

"Who will milk them?"

No, we've never kept goats before. Apparently some people have had bad experiences with goats. And we've even been lead to believe that not everyone is a fan of goats in general.  Well, we're trying to stay positive.  The goats are going to be another fun family adventure.  And, honestly, look how cute they are...
One of our "to be named" goats!  The breeder sent this photo a few days after this one was born.

On to the 2nd question... Nope - we've never tried goat's milk. Now that we've paid for our goats (we don't have them yet - they're hanging out with mom a big longer), we figure we'll just wait until the goats are giving milk and get used to it then.  If a love of goat's milk doesn't come naturally, we'll make it an act of the will :)
We really want to have fresh milk for drinking, maybe cheese and/or yogurt making, etc. and the thought of taking on a dairy cow seemed a bit much. The Nigerian dwarf goats are WAY smaller animals than dairy cows, and the amount of milk will be more in line with our needs as a 5 person family.
goat #2.  We really only wanted 1 - or so we thought - but they are happier with a friend, so 2 goats it is.

And, finally: Who will milk the goats?  The children, of course.  We're smart home schooling parents; this is all part of their education.

So, do we know anything about goats? Not a lot yet. We've done a fair bit of reading, of course, but we won't gain any hands-on knowledge until the goats are here with us.
the goat shed
(full disclosure - this photo was taken in October.  It's a lot more snowy and generally less green out there now)

A few months ago we found a breeder fairly close to us and reserved 2 goats. They were born last week and will stay where they are for another 7 weeks or so.  In the meantime, we have some more reading to do, a list of possible names to make (daughter #1 is already lobbying for "Florecita"), and a few sturdy fences to build.  Our property came with a structure that we've been referring to as "the goat shed" since we moved here in September.  It is a great place for them, so a lot of the work is already done.

Stay tuned for more goat news in the Spring!