Random Tuesday

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We did some much-needed maintenance on the chicken run/coop over the weekend. Brian restrung and buried all the chicken wire around the run and made a run new door. Then along with Coralee & Merritt, he put in a chicken ‘patio’ in the run entrance to help with all the water/ice/mud/filth/mess that always collects there and makes it almost impossible to open the door in the morning to let our happy hens out. Late Sunday afternoon I repainted the door to the coop white and hopefully soon we will repaint the roof trim and window trim, plus replace some shingles damaged in the wind storm of 2011. Lastly we plan to plant some native grasses/flowers in the back half of the run for the hens to hide/play/pick in during the warmer months. The dead/dried grass will provide cover during the winter months (hopefully).

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I started watching/nannying a newborn baby this week. I won’t share her name or anything in order to keep her identity private. She is around 4-5 weeks old, so tiny and squishy! I only watch her once or twice a week and only for part of the day. She is a sweet, happy, easy-going little soul. June did not seem to understand why she could not ‘play’ with the baby or why the baby could not sleep with her in ‘June’s bed’ at naptime.

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I took June to Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center again this morning–I’m a trifle obsessed with that place. We hiked (June in the Tula on my back) around the Prairie Trail & Wetland Trail and then spent close to an hour inside the building playing in the exhibits. We were the only ones there other than the naturalists in their offices. Great time to visit!!! While hiking, we spotted a Northern cardinal high up in the trees, can you spot it in the tree branches photo? We saw A LOT of red-winged blackbirds on the Wetland Trail. June was calling back to them saying “beep!” when they called their hard, short, chuck-like call. She also decided that all birds singing and tweeting at the house are her baby chicks chirping in the basement. We had all the main floor windows open today to let the wind blow through (it was crazy windy today). She kept saying “I hear baby chicks!” when she would hear wild bird songs through the windows.

It was TOO hot today. Hit 90’F!!! Where is spring? I put melon chunks in my ice water and after an hour or so of steeping, boy did that taste delicious on this June/July?August-like day. June wouldn’t try it….she won’t consume fruit period anymore. Cooked veggies and beans are still a go, thank goodness.

The violets in the yard are blooming! The trees are budding! Apple trees, too. Wonder if we will finally get some apples this year from our dwarf Honeycrisp trees? I think we planted them in 2009. We are heading to Seed Savers Exchange this weekend and hope to buy another apple variety, an heirloom. This will be our first trip to Seed Savers. I’ll definitely take photos for the blog!

Nana & Papa Visit!

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We had a great little visit with the maternal grandparents this weekend—Nana and Papa Hammond as the kids call them due to the fact they live in a town called Hammond (well, the rural part of Hammond). Coralee has been calling her grandma and grandpa Nana and Papa Hammond since she was able to acknowledge them verbally. The other set of grandparents we call Nana and Papa ‘B’–I’m sure we can all figure that one out! 😉

We have an abundance of eggs all of a sudden–yeah for the happy hens here at the Bodeker Coop! Nana Hammond forgot to take a dozen home when she left for Wisconsin this morning (or Ruby forgot to give them to her). Guess we will be eating several hearty meals this week.

Nana Hammond made us an apple pie and it was delish. LOVE her apple pies even with store-bought apples (she finally ran out of her stash of frozen apples from her tree).

Nana, Papa, June, and I went downtown Vinton on Friday for lunch at La Reyna. Afterwards June stretched her legs a bit and Papa had to run her down. Too cute. Prior to our lunch us four drove south to Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center for a toddler program. June seemed to have a love/hate relationship with the resident turtle at Wickiup and alternated between being fascinated and petting the turtle and screaming bloody-murder and hollering “keep me safe” while burying her face in my legs. We also went for a long hike out at Wickiup, may have been a bit too long for Papa. It was a very windy day in Iowa and neither Papa nor I like the wind, so that may have affected Papa’s desire to “get the hike over with.” June rode in my soft-structured carrier on my back–my Tula–and fell asleep on the hike. I LOVE when she does that…nothing more satisfying than hiking in nature with a little one asleep on your back.

Merritt had his music concert at school Thursday night. Mr. Zeimer, his music teacher, did a fantastic job decorating the old, shabby gym with colorful umbrellas and kites. It was a K-4th concert with the theme “Singing in the Rain,” although there were zero songs sung from either the musical itself or even about spring weather, so it was a bit misleading. Merritt sang (I could tell) and was a very well-behaved little boy, too.

In case you were not aware, I live in Iowa and pelicans do not live here as a rule. The White Pelican migrates through both spring and fall. There have been over 30 White Pelicans taking up residence on the backwater of the Cedar River just north of the town of Vinton (our nearest town) since mid-week last week and the sight is amazing! Papa and I parked near the pelicans on Friday after lunching at La Reyna and hiked a bit down to the water to see the pelicans. Papa counted over 30. The photo I snapped is not quality as I only had my iPhone on me and not my big lens. I am amazed by birds almost daily. There is just something about birds….I am sure I will be fascinated until the day I leave this earth. Hope you all had a lovely SPRING weekend!? Tell me about it in the comments! (ahem, Aunt Ellie) ❤

Yarn Along (Wednesday)

What’s on the needles (OTN) for the Bodeker Babies? (I have plenty of projects OTN for my business Ella Mae Knits & my knitting class, but those are not my knitting loves, of course). This is called Bulle by Karen Borrel. It is written to be a short-sleeved sweater, but I am altering the pattern for my little girl June (25months) to be a dress with long-sleeves now and then hopefully she can keep wearing it for a couple years and, as she grows, it will slowly transition into a tunic/sweater on her. I’m using Knit Picks Alpaca Tweed in Kitten for the fawn-colored stripes and then various colors of Knit Picks 100% Merino Wool for the more delightful, colorful stripes. I am close to being finished with the main body. A throughly enjoyable knit! I can’t wait for June to wear it! I plan to knit my older daughter a Bulle sweater (as the pattern is written) once June’s is finished. MY girls LOVE to match each other in dress–so sweet. Wonder how long that will last?

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I am participating in the Small Things blog’s Yarn Along on Wednesdays. LOVE Ginny’s blog. Find her recent Yarn Along post here. I am currently not reading an actual book, but rather perusing the Seed Savers Exchange newsletter/magazine & seed catalog.

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‘Spring’ Birds–I refuse to call this spring weather!

We went to Pleasant Creek Rec Area (near Palo, Iowa) on Sunday & got in some very good birding both by driving around the lake/stopping every-so-often & hiking around the lake (the girls & me) while Brian & Merritt fished. Here’s the ‘official’ list:

*Common Loon–no lie, isn’t that awesome!!! Floating & diving out in the middle of the lake, a stop-over on its migratory path north.

*American Coot–the entire place is overrun with coots right now, coot poop EVERYWHERE. Coralee & I nicknamed them ‘Iowa Kiwis,’ they totally look like those ugly Australian birds out of the water. Hope they don’t stick around.

*Bufflehead (duck)–a breeding pair; migratory.

*Canada Geese–when don’t you see these?

*Lesser Scaup–migratory.

*We couldn’t make a postivie ID, but it was some sort of bird of prey soaring over the lake with a thick hooked beak (it wasn’t a hawk), similar in size and shape to some species of Kite, but it also looked like a seagull except it was bigger and it had that large hooked beak.

Today on the drive to & from Shellsburg (on Tuesdays I take the kids to school (no bus) due to Coralee having to lug around her trumpet for lessons), we saw quite a few birds, too, out our windows. I’ve forgotten what they all were but here are the species I remember:

*Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker

*Turkey Vulture (sitting on a branch near the Cedar River between Urbana & Shellsburg, very near the road)

*Mourning Dove (1)

*Canada Geese (2)

I posted a map of the Common Loon’s migratory path on my Facebook page yesterday and Erin Thompson commented about Grandma Darling’s love of birds and how neat it is that I share her affinity for birds & birding….then Robin (Voeltz) Engel commented about Grandma Voeltz’s ability to sit outside and identify birds by their calls. I do NOT share her talent, I wish I did….it got me wondering if the fact that Idella & Iona can play piano by ear is one-and-the-same/goes-hand-in-hand with Grandma’s ability to identify birds by their distinct calls/songs? Does innate musical ability have a genetic relationship to the ability to keenly identify birds by their calls/songs? It’s a neat set of facts to ponder…

What birds have you seen lately?