Lots of Eggs! {& babies–some cute, some not-so-much}

It may not be spring anymore in the Northern Hemisphere, but we’re still experiencing a spring-like baby boom on our property. The kids & I ventured up the road to a grassy ditch resplendent with Common Milkweed in search of Monarch eggs.  We were not disappointed.  We found ten & brought them home to raise to adults & then release.  I’m sure I’ll post more on these “babies” as soon as the eggs hatch.
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We have waffled back and forth several times over the last 2+ weeks regarding what the parent species is of the eggs in our bluebird nestbox.  We’ve seen both Catbirds & Eastern Bluebirds on the box & in the area, but we also thought the eggs looked a bit small to belong to a bluebird.  We were leaning toward robin eggs due to size, but the nesting materials didn’t include any mud and robins don’t tend to nest in nestboxes.  We’ve been monitoring the box from a distance for several weeks & have never been lucky enough to spot a parent enter the nest.  We were stumped.  On Saturday, Merritt checked the box (following the Cornell Lab’s Certified NestWatch monitor training) and there were four chicks hatched!  Still not 100% certain what species these babies are, but Brian saw an Eastern Bluebird exit the nest on Sunday while mowing.  Time will tell.
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And now to introduce you to “the girls” (we hope)!  Most of our chicken eggs from Murray McMurray Hatchery were a big old bust.  I don’t know why I forgot that every batch of eggs I’ve ever ordered from this hatchery & had delivered via the post have been this way (read: eggs don’t hatch), but I did.  The one time I actually drove to the hatchery & picked up my egg order we had almost 100% successful incubation.  Something about bouncing around through the mail must render the eggs infertile.  In any case, we incubated 14 eggs in incubators and gave the rest (10) to our Blue Cochins in the coop as they are incredibly broody.  Of those 24 eggs, THREE hatched.  None of the hatched eggs were in the coop.  Brian cracked all the eggs that didn’t hatch & found one fully-formed chick and that’s it.  Bummer.  Next spring we order chicks & pick them up as per our usual.  I can only blame pregnancy for my forgetfulness about the viability of mail-delivered eggs this year.

Meet Frost.  Isn’t she stunning?
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This is Coralee’s chick. All our chicks are bantams (so they’ll remain small versions of their standard breed counterparts). We have no idea of the sex of any of these chicks yet, but we’re obviously hoping for females as we don’t keep roosters (unless it’s a Cochin rooster as they are incredibly sweet).

Frost is the Queen of the Clutch (or King, I suppose) and is already larger that the other two despite being born last.  She struts around/scrambles quickly as if she owns the small blue Rubbermaid tub she calls home in our living room.
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Meet Early.  This is Merritt’s chick born almost a full 24 hours before the other two.  The incubation period for chicken eggs is 21 days & we’ve found it to be pretty spot-on, so we were a bit surprised when Early arrived at 7:40AM on Day 20 & got a full day of growing in before anybody else hatched.
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And finally meet Peggy.  This is June’s chick.
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June, at age 4, has come up with all sorts of strange unique names for her chick, but she really wanted to name her Margaret after her “baby” out in the coop.  Her “baby” is a giant, fluffy Blue Cochin that is larger than any other hen in our flock.  June calls her a baby anyway as she is so sweet. I told her ‘Peggy’ was a nickname for Margaret, so let’s go with that as we don’t want two Margarets. I think because she enjoys the PBS show “Pet + Cat” she quickly agreed.
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Peggy squawks a lot. And she has a bit more yellow on her chest than Early.  Otherwise, they look like twins.
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They are starting to develop their wing feathers already!  Soon they’ll be moving to a bigger home in the garage.  The kids have been pouring over hatchery catalogs & chicken books all weekend, trying to determine the chicks’ breeds.  Stay tuned!

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Yarn Along {it’s been awhile}

IMG_4792[1]I haven’t been knitting much at all since I found out I was pregnant.  At the start of my pregnancies I usually end up with a severe aversion to knitting and handling wool for some reason.  This time was no different.  I recently got the urge to pick up this Bitty Breezy I started knitting for June in Quince & Co Sparrow (Truffle) ages ago.  It would be nice if she could wear it this summer as it’s made with one of the best linens around & in my world summer=linen.  I’ve knit about 10 rows on it since the weekend, but I still can’t quite get back in the knitting groove yet it seems.

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Coralee–second from left; Merritt–front row in blue fedora; Brian–center back in straw fedora

I started reading a couple books to prepare for Coralee’s 8th grade homeschooling curriculum at the beginning of June, but kind of slacked off shortly thereafter because, well, it’s summer–plain & simple!  This week the latest issue of the American Birding Association‘s Birder’s Guide arrived in our mailbox & to our delight our older kids are both in it! Coralee & Merritt are members of Iowa Young Birders which is featured in the article. Similar to the National Audubon Society and the American Ornithologists Union; however, the ABA seems to cater more to the needs of the everyday birder. I have learned a lot about the actual act of birding–such as which gear is worth spending money on, how to track down specific birds, where to bird, etc–from the ABA’s magazine than from the other two organization’s publications. The leader of Iowa Young Birders, Carl Bendorf, is also one of the ABA’s Directors & HE IS AWESOME. I have never had so much fun birding as I have tagging along with Coralee & Merritt on birding trips with Carl. He’s just a really cool guy who relates insanely well to children.  He doesn’t pretend to know everything (but he probably does!) and always seems as enthusiastic to find & point out a common Downy Woodpecker as he does a rare avian visitor to the state. He wrote the article on Iowa Young Birders in the May issue. He certainly does Iowa and Iowa birding proud! (And as a sidenote, we’re quite sad here at Being Bodeker that Carl will soon be moving out-of-state. He truly has been my kids’ spark person into the world of birding.)

Joining in with Ginny.

Four (4) Little Iowans on the Prairie…

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1, 2, 3, 4?!

Yup, big changes coming to Being Bodeker.  Our three little Iowans will soon be four!  I am 17 weeks along in this pregnancy & it has been an incredible journey of the soul thus far.  Let’s just say this baby is a whale of a surprise.  Both Brian & I have struggled to wrap our heads around the changes that will be coming to our family.  For the first couple months we actually both just ignored it, barely said two words about it…I guess we were in shock?  We truly thought we were done & definitely will be after this one arrives in early December.  I hate to say a baby (any baby) is a mistake.  I gave birth to Coralee when I was 20 years old & I know a lot of people thought she was a mistake, but if that’s the case, she’s been the most beautiful, magnificent mistake I’ve ever made.  I can’t imagine life without her.  She’s so stinking cool!  Merritt was absolutely planned–we wanted a sibling for Coralee.  And they are without a doubt two peas in a pod–each the other’s best friend.  We suffered two unexplained losses in-between Merritt & June–one at 20 weeks that forever changed my thoughts on pregnancy & another shortly after at 13 weeks.  I suppose that’s why I’m sharing this big news in a blog post (our kids & my knitting friends are basically the only people who know)…I’ve been waiting to say anything because I’ve been so fearful.  Fearful that I’ll suffer another loss–I have sadly been expecting to wake up everyday to a miscarriage.  But also fearful of what people will say and think when they find out…we realize we’re not spring chickens & should know how this all works…so because pretty much all of my pregnancies (all 5 up to this point) have been met in the real world with not the greatest enthusiasm from a lot of people around me, I can only imagine how this one will go down.  I felt a blog post was the way to go this time.  We’re having a baby (sings Desi Arnaz in my head 24/7 lately).  We’re scared.  We’re not prepared.  (We have a tiny car!!!  I was supposed to go back to work/school in a year!  I have ZILCH maternity clothes left & almost no baby items!  How exactly are we going to afford this?)  This is the most apprehensive I’ve been about a pregnancy yet.  Maybe because I understand how truly fleeting life is now?  Something I didn’t quite get at 20 or 23 or maybe even 29 when I had June?  I’m just worried.  I’ve got three kids that need me & I know the paths a pregnancy can sometimes take…I’m trying to be positive & hope that some greater force has a hand in this & it will all be ok.  We hope so.

Thank you for reading my ramble.  I hope everyone enjoyed their Father’s Day!  I’ll post again this week about our trout fishing trip on Sunday to Coldwater Creek (from where the photo above originates).  If you’ve never watched the ‘I Love Lucy’ episode in which Lucy tells Ricky she’s having a baby, click below.  A classic clip.  I keep watching it over & over…trying to make myself believe everything will be ok.

Haphazard Rundown in (a lucky) 13 Photos

I have been away much too long from the blog.  I have missed posting & also reading the blogs of others that I follow.  I hope to remedy this severe drought in the days to come.

My eldest, Coralee, turned 13 years old last week!  As all parents say–time gives me whiplash.IMG_4680[1]

We’ve been fortunate to harvest our best crop yet of strawberries this year–four large bowls (like the one below) of strawberries total!  The crop seems to have petered out now, but will more than likely resurge in the fall with some very tiny, but tasty berries.  Someone told me they think my berries are a type of cultivar that bears fruit all season.

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We made strawberry shortcake for Coralee’s birthday cake!IMG_4686[1]

Last weekend our family (along with my dad) visited the Yellow River State Forest in NE Iowa as part of an Iowa Young Birders trip to locate Cerulean Warblers.  The group was successful and found a nesting pair!  Brian, my dad, & Coralee attended the trip–it was an “advanced” trip meant for birders 12+–while myself & the little ones drove up later in the day.IMG_4667[1]

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Merritt fished for trout in some of our favorite spots.IMG_4684[1]

June picked flowers for her mama & went birding herself.  She heard a lot of catbirds.

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We have two tabletop incubators whirring in our dining room right now.  Fourteen bantam eggs of various breeds should start hatching in a week’s time.  The kids are incredibly excited.  Due to the bird flu epidemic in Iowa (& surrounding states) all bird shows have been cancelled in Iowa until 2016…my kids were to bring poultry to the county fair this year…big bummer when they found out they would have no livestock in the fair.  They seem to have gotten over the disappointment since the eggs arrived in the post two weeks ago.  Can’t wait to share chick pics!Tabletop incubator

Our bluebird box has experienced quite a revolving door of bird species.  A pair of bluebirds first took up residence & laid eggs, but something destroyed the nest.  A House Wren then attempted to build a nest.  We discouraged her & removed her twigs several times…eventually she just laid her eggs in the bluebird nest at the bottom.  Then something evicted her.  Now it appears a robin has moved in & laid five handsome eggs.IMG_4677[1]

Merritt passed Level 5 in swimming this morning.  He was so proud!  His instructed totally BUTCHERED both his first and last name on the card.  Oh, well, we are quite used to that around here.  Even my last boss couldn’t pronounce my last name correctly after four years of employment.

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Lastly, photo no.13–the AME Church in Charleston hosting Martin Luther King, Jr. years ago.  I was deeply affected by the tragedy in Charleston this week.  If you’re interested in donating to the church & its mission, here is a link to their homepage.  A paypal donation button can be found on right side of the page.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

I have some exciting(?) news to share next week on the blog that will hopefully explain my unintended absence.  

Until then, I hope to connect with you all again soon!