Field of Broken Dreams

All winter long and well into the spring of this year, we’ve been lucky enough to observe a large group of turkeys around our property–two adult females & their offspring, roughly eleven birds in total. They’ve been in our front yard, in the alfalfa field to our north, gobbling in the woods to our south & east, out on the driveway & down on the main road. Such a treat! We even witnessed an impressive courtship display play out just beyond our front windows on the lawn by three tom turkeys for an audience of extremely uninterested hens.

This past Wednesday, after walking with the girls & Harmon to pick up Merritt from the bus, we all headed back into the recently-cut alfalfa field for a hike. We saw a crazy amount of birds including Barn Swallows, Dickcissels, Red-winged Blackbirds, Crows, Kildeer, Vultures, even a Cooper’s Hawk overhead. As the kids were taking off across the field after a Kildeer, they stumbled upon a turkey nest decimated by both the tractor that had cut the alfalfa & area scavengers who took care of most of the hen’s body (all that was left were her feet) & probably the contents of the broken eggs. So many feelings bubbled up, ranging from thankfulness for the farmer who leases the land that he chose to plant alfalfa & not the typical corn (which provides ZERO habitat for much of anything in the Midwest) to pure anger that this hen was only trying to raise her brood in what appeared to be a hospitable habitat among the acres & acres & ACRES of corn around here, only to have her efforts (& her life) pulverized in an instant.
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IMG_4462[1]Merritt made a spear with thorns from a tree.
IMG_4547[1]Stumbling upon the nest site.IMG_4541[1]

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IMG_4540[1]Coralee counted at least seven eggs in various fractured stages.

IMG_4543[1]So many beautiful feathers doth a seemingly plain turkey harbor.
IMG_4542[1]June was quite sad about the whole situation as she has loved spotting the turkeys from our windows.IMG_4545[1]We left the feathers, by the way; it is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to collect feathers.  On Friday the farmer baled the alfalfa–the feathers, feet, & nest contents were bound up into future cattle feed.  Makes me wonder what else ends up in those bales…

IMG_4538[1]We are in Iowa so I think it’s fitting to title this photo Field of Dreams.IMG_4546[1]Harmon snoozed through the entire hike.IMG_4548[1]It was a great hike, broken dreams & all.

Yarn Along

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I thought it might make me feel a bit better about the chaos reigning in our house right now (the appliances are clearly conspiring against us!) to post a Yarn Along with Ginny today in spite of the fact I have so little to post about…still occasionally stitching away at Harmon’s 6-12mos Wee Envelope & reading The Hobbit with Coralee.  I read it in high school, but I don’t recall any of it.  I keep picturing Gandalf as Dumbledore–makes sense as the films share the same actor (edited to add: no they do not!  just strikingly similar & I absolutely knew that, too, argh; thanks for the correction, K!)–but I’m also confusing the two characters to a degree now.  Reading with one eye open as you fall asleep with a nursing baby on top by the light of an iPhone does things to you. xx 

High Five!

High five, Harmon, you’re five months old!  And you’re so handsomely cute!  (I’m not sure if he actually is handsome, but I’ve had several strangers tell me in the past week that he is a “handsome boy”.)

So much has changed as of late.  I took Harmon to a lactation consultant the day after he turned five months & she agreed with what I have been suspecting since his four month well-child check–he has a milk soy protein intolerance.  We will have him officially tested at his six-month check, but for now I have cut dairy entirely, even “hidden dairy”.  It’s been three weeks since I cut most dairy & one week since I went cold-turkey & I can definitely see improvement.  [WARNING, TMI ahead!]  His stools are finally becoming seedy/yellow again, he no longer has constant diarrhea, his eczema patches on his torso/legs are no longer flaring angry raised red, & he’s napping better!!!!  The last week he has steadily been building toward consisten 1-2 hour naps 3X per day!  Miracles do happen!!!! ;) 

Harmon remains a tiny tiny person.  I think now that I’ve completely cut dairy & he’s not pooing 24/7 anymore, he will begin to gain weight better.  At five months he weighs exactly 13 lbs–2nd percentile, yikes!  So he’s slipped a few percentiles since his birthweight.  He doesn’t appear tiny to most people, but when you pick him up, you realize it instantly.  I thought this photo & the previous one illustrate his smallness fairly well. He loves looking at our vast collection of laminated pocket guides.June continues to LOVE her brother so much.  Harmon remains a bit leery, but he does laugh at her antics sometimes.He still likes to support himself up against furniture.  Finding toys in the baby toys bin is one of his favorite pasttimes, but he does get frustrated fairly quickly if he can’t reach what he wants.  He can roll from tummy to back, but hardly ever does….he just fusses on his tummy.  No sitting up, no scooting, no crawling.  I can still lay him down & he goes nowhere, but he’s not usually happy about it!  He prefers to sleep on his side.  Getting to sleep around 7PM at night involves a lot of bouncing; nursing doesn’t do the trick anymore.  He rubs his face on everything when he’s starting to get tired.Mama’s savior!!!  I usually prefer a little coffee with my heavy cream, so cutting dairy nearly did me in until I found this gem.Harmon loves his feet.  He also prefers hard toys over soft & everything goes in the mouth usually with his left hand.  My dad & his sister are left-handed & there are zero left-handed kids/grandkids in our family so a lefty would be awesome!  I realize it’s too early to tell, but I’m not imagining it that he does seem to use his left hand a majority of the time right now.  He’s still solidly a mama’s boy & sometimes tolerates Coralee, but he’s got major stranger anxiety.  He likes to sit on my lap on the back porch & just watch what happens in the backyard.  He loves sucking on the bottom of cold glasses, but he’s still exclusively breastfed.  Eating when he’s away from the house, however, is practically impossible unless he’s in the Tula.  Too much to see!  I also think he’s just a creature of habit & does not do well away from his routine.  He basically doesn’t eat when we’re away & then makes up for it all night long.  He is most content when I’m carrying him around the house, looking out the windows…going for walks is hit or miss.  He doesn’t like wind AT ALL.  Gets really fussy when the wind blows on him in the carrier & usually develops the hiccups, too.  Car rides are absolutely his least favorite thing.  He screams, cries, bellows, fusses…never sleeps.  Our 14 hour trip to Colorado this July is going to be interesting… But he’s my sweetie!  I wish the days would stop racking up so quickly…

3 becomes 4!

Harmon is four months!

I did not find the time to blog his third month milestones/photos last month, so I included one of his three month photos below. He’s changed so much! So much less hair, which I am sad about; his hair, especially on top of his head, is falling out/has fallen out & is being replaced by a lighter color. He still has all his baby hair in the back & it is very dark. I’m wondering what color he is going to end up with by a year old…I just hope he has some at this rate!

Three months!

Three months!

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IMG_3652[1]He was just under 12lbs at four months.  Today I took him in for his four month well-child check & he weighed 12lbs 7oz.  He’s in the 2nd percentile for weight.  At 24.25in long, he’s in the 7th percentile for height.  His head circumference is still hovering at the 50th percentile.  Still wearing his newborn Sloomb diapers, but he’s moved into medium Sloomb flats.  A small guy!IMG_3014[1]He cannot sit up & has not rolled even once, but he can hold his weight up in his legs very well!  He did this around 3.5 months!  June was stunned!  I was just plain old worried….not ready for this!
IMG_3657[1]He always has his hands together now like in this photo.  It is most definitely a comfort measure.  Reminds me of my dad.IMG_3658[1]

IMG_3659[1]He helps me wake up Merritt for the early bus around 6:15AM every morning.  Takes a very short nap (like 12 minutes) about an hour after waking up.IMG_3660[1]

IMG_2668[1]June took this photo in the car & I just thought it was cute.IMG_2549[1]Speaking of June, she wants to TOUCH TOUCH TOUCH her baby brother all.the.time.  It’s becoming a bit of a problem, but she just loves him so much.  I just wish she would stop touching his face.  He’s had far too many colds.  Harmon is a bit leery of her, but to be honest, he’s a bit leery of everyone.  He’s very serious.  Very much a mama’s boy.  He just wants his mama at all times & then everything is OK.IMG_3486[1]Hey, baby.  I’d like you to meet my girlfriend.IMG_3487[1]That’s some manicure my sister (June) gave ya.IMG_3490[1]You still there?IMG_3493[1]I think we should see other people.IMG_3656[1]Hanging with mama in the early morning.IMG_3475[1]Celebrating Merritt’s birthday!IMG_2535[1]I found this photo on my phone.IMG_2541[1]

Sleepy pics.  Harmon takes like 4-5 12-minute naps during the day.  Gah!   He sleeps well at night, waking a few times to nurse, so I can’t complain….but, yeah, I do!IMG_2647[1]

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IMG_3653[1]Four months is so sweet! xoxo

Eleven Birthdays!

Merritt celebrated eleven years on Wednesday!  I was 23 when I gave birth to him–I have changed so much since that time!  Merritt brings lots of smiles to our family, lots of laughter, lots of excitement, & lots of parenting challenges, but he absolutely, 100% is making us better parents & keeping life interesting around here.:)

Merritt, you are creative, crazy intelligent, a blast to hang with one-on-one, & so very interesting to talk to–I love chatting with you in the morning as we wait for the bus!  I love you with everything I have, buddy, & I am so excited to see what you give to this world in the years ahead!  Happy Eleven Years!  Like your big sis told you, a milestone year!  You can no longer count your age with just your fingers!😉



  

Never a dull moment…{warning: dead bird photos ahead}

I never got around to posting a Yarn Along post yesterday, sadly😦  I blame the fact that I’ve really knit nothing worth posting about (five garter stitch ridges, woo hoo!), but also because it is always just plain old nuts around the Bodeker homestead & only seems to be getting more so with each passing day.  Seriously, never a dull moment.  Can you relate?  I’ve included some snapshots of my immediate surroundings…

Hambone broth bubbling in the kitchen all morning.

Hambone broth bubbling in the kitchen all morning.  Because I need to grocery shop!  This was an Easter ham…

Knitting waiting to be knit...now smells like hambone broth!

Knitting waiting to be knit, I’m sure this knitting wants to break up with me & find a better knitting owner…and now it smells like hambone broth!

Fossil soaking on my counter; chicken scrap bucket needs emptying yesterday.

Random fossil soaking on my counter (kids!); chicken scrap bucket needed emptying yesterday.

Dishwasher's been broke for almost a year...dishes never seem to be done...it's like I own a bottomless sink...no, wait, I figured it out, I have four kids.

Dishwasher’s been broke for almost a year…dishes never seem to be done…it’s like I own a bottomless sink…no, wait, I figured it out, I have four kids.

My kitchen counter. Piles and more piles. I need to do something about this. I also spy iced coffee I probably finished 12 hours after making it & Hydrogen Peroxide for the cat's leg wound...maybe I should use it to cover some of these grey hairs sprouting all over my head.

My kitchen counter. Piles and more piles. I need to do something about this. I also spy the remnants of iced coffee I probably finished 12 hours after making it & Hydrogen peroxide for the cat’s leg wound…maybe I should use it to cover some of these grey hairs sprouting all over my head.

Diaper laundry. The laundry is never done. How do people with more than four kids ever have clean clothes???? I feel like we are just barely making it on the clean clothes front.

Diaper laundry. The laundry is never done. How do people with more than four kids ever have clean clothes???? I feel like we are just barely making it on the clean clothes front.

Now I’ll explain the dead bird.  I have a knack for spotting dead stuff on the road…no kidding!  For example, I found a dead coyote a few months ago near our home on a random backroad (I was driving around aimlessly during naptime) & so so SO wanted Brian to pick it up for me (it was a coyote!).  I love coyotes, I don’t care that they eat our chickens, which they do…we’ve obliterated/exterminated/pushed-out practically every other large predator in the Midwest, coyotes remain despite our needless war & “best” efforts…more power to these amazing creatures!  Anyway, Brian said no.  I also found a smashed (sad!) White-breasted Nuthatch three days ago…I tried to get Coralee to bring it back to our house, she refused…it was really bloody, I agree.

So, yesterday, I spotted an American Coot on our road, dead.  WEIRD!  We are at least a mile and a half from the nearest water source for waterfowl.  There is a continuing flock of American Coots in said nearest water source, but why this coot wound up dead on our road is anyone’s guess.  It has no obvious injuries, no blood, nothing.  We took it to our local County Conservation office yesterday afternoon for them to taxidermy.  Their Nature Center doesn’t have an American Coot yet in the displays so they were quite thrilled to receive our find.  I hate seeing wildlife dead on the road, makes me sad, but it’s also a reliable source of food for vultures & other carrion-eating animals/birds.  We filthy the Earth, they clean it up, unpaid, unappreciated, often run over themselves.  Thank you, wildlife!  American Coots are magnificent–really!  I never realized this until seeing one up close.  I honestly thought they were ugly & not worth my birding time…I feel poorly writing that now.  Photos below prove my newly-found respect for the American Coot & I hope you agree.:)

American Coot, deceased.

American Coot in a shoe box, deceased.

You are absolutely looking at a future wildlife biologist in this photo...possibly a professional ornithologist...she's so cool! I can't believe she's my kid, how did I get so lucky????

You are absolutely looking at a future wildlife biologist in this photo…possibly a professional ornithologist…she’s so cool! I can’t believe she’s my kid, how did I get so lucky????  I am not this cool.

American Coot; these feet are insane! It's like a dinosaur!

American Coot; these feet are insane! It’s like a dinosaur!

American Coot; I never realized how beautiful these tiny, scrappy waterfowl were until now.

American Coot; I never realized how beautiful these tiny-noggin-ed, scrappy waterfowl were until now.

I’m telling ya, never a dull moment.  In a good way!

Prairie Fire!

We drove north to Crumbacher Wildlife Area in Buchanan County last night to attend a controlled prairie burn.  The burn was ignited at dusk, just after 7PM, & took almost two hours to burn.  Prior to the burn, air temperature was around 41’F, relative humidity was 61.2%, and the highest recorded wind gust came in at 6mph.  Ranger Mike Van Raden told the assembled group (which included our family, a local reporter, Buchanan County Naturalist Sondra Cabell, Executive Director Dan Cohen, 2 park techs & 1 other ranger) the weather conditions were on the parameters of what he’d like for a burn, but doable.  Why so few people attended this AMAZING event, I have no clue…Iowa is not boring, people!  You just have to seek out the opportunities!  Anyway, off my soapbox.IMG_3378[1]Burn began in the back (south edge) of this reconstructed prairie which is to the east of the wetland pond.

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; wetland pond at dusk


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; fire started slower than expected


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Coralee & Merritt’s view from down in the prairie about to be burned

IMG_3396[1]June was not impressed.  Harmon was not, either, & kept moaning/fussing in the carrier.  June collected a bunch of sticks & old seed pods which are still in the back of the Suburban.  Shortly after I took this photo & the next one, June, Harmon, & I hiked back to the Suburban.  June said the fire looked like lava & that she “knows what lava looks like because I watch Wild Kratts.”  She yelled at me that lava is scary; however, she clearly was not scared.  I think she was just plain old COLD.  IMG_3397[1]I accidentally had my HDR on when I took these photos–makes it more dramatic, I guess.  If you are on a laptop or PC, click on this photo–it’s way better viewed in a larger size.IMG_3398[1]Hangin’ in the ‘burb.  Wishin’ I was at the burn!  Thankfully, I could still see it from where we parked, but it wasn’t the same as being “right there” like Brian & the older kids experienced.  #fifthtrimester #preschooler

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; fire getting going now!


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; using a drip torch

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; using a drip torch


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie, Merritt Bodeker & Ranger Mike Van Raden

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Merritt Bodeker & Ranger Mike Van Raden, hanging out, just feeling’ the BURN


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire; kids were able to be right up next to the fire line–so cool!


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie fire


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Sondra Cabell (Naturalist) & local newspaper reporter

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; local reporter & Sondra Cabell (sidenote–Merritt keeps telling us he’s going to be “famous” because the reporter took his photo, ha!)


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie


ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie: Sondra Cabell & Dan Cohen (Exec. Dir.)

ⒸCoralee Bodeker: Crumbacher Prairie; Sondra Cabell & Dan Cohen

IMG_3391[1]A natural masterpiece.  High five, Nature!

Cars out on the road were slowing down & parking once the fire really took off & darkness descended.  It was like lining up for Christmas lights, only a million times better.  #takebacktheprairies