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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Don't tread on my poultry ...

First some good news, then bad news, then rather worrisome news ...

This morning, when Tabby went out to milk the goats, she was just in time to see Christa give birth to a cute little female kid!  She said Christa handled the birth like a pro. 

Christa cleaned up her baby, I cut the hanging umbilical cord and treated the area with iodine, the Christa posed with Tabby for a photo.

In Christa's family, kids are given flower names.  So we carried on the tradition and named the little one "Sundrop" after the many sundrop wildflowers we had in our yard this spring.

Here are two pictures I took this evening of Sundrop.  Don't believe the second photo - she has normal eyes, I promise!

In bad/sad news, Tribulation, our last little guinea keet, has died.  A rather horrific death too.  Frank was leaving for work and found the keet's headless body.  Tabby, who has learned about poultry death in her chicken magazines, examined Tribulation's body and declared that a bird of prey had gotten it.  (The way the head was snipped off.)  Since it seemed to have happened overnight, we assume an owl got it.  I know it was just a guinea keet, but I was soooooo disappointed.

Then Leah Rose, Tribulation's mama, disappeared.  We haven't seen her in about a week.  We assume she was killed, though are hoping that she is hiding somewhere on a nest, and will show up in a few weeks.  Sigh.

Here's the last picture of I have Leah Rose (the white guinea) and Tribulation:

Finally, in worrisome news, North Carolina's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services  "is requiring all poultry owners, regardless of the number of birds, to register with NCFarmID."  (see link here:  )  Why?  They say it is so they can alert poultry owners of an avian flu outbreak on a farm near them.

Tabby tells me that from her reading, she learned avian flu is a terrible, devastating disease to chickens.  And we do love our feathered friends and want them to be healthy.  So this new requirement is for our good - and our chickens good - right?

Well I don't know.  I am not a big government person.  I'm not sure how the Department of Agriculture was able to implement this without going through the official legislative process.  Of course because they didn't, then I assume they can't enforce it. 

And I don't understand why we "need" this - there has not even been one case of avian flu among poultry in North Carolina.  Will registering our chickens keep this disease out of the state?  Of course not.  Yes I understand the officials are saying it's all being done to protect our birds.  But ... do I really want my freedom/privacy/rights infringed upon even if it can "save the life of just one chicken?"

Hopefully my wild imagination is over reacting.  But I just don't like the idea of registering anything.  I don't like being on government officials lists.  I don't like the idea of someone in power deciding one day that "the common person" may not own poultry anymore.  Then they consult that handy list and make the rounds confiscating chickens.

Think things like that don't happen?  Maybe not in the U.S. with chickens ... yet.  But history sure shows us it has happened with plenty of other things.  (If you want to read about how Hitler used gun registration lists - in the countries he invaded - to disarm the people, just read my dad's book (which I helped him research) entitled Gun Control in the Third Reich by Stephen P. Halbrook.)

I know guns and chickens are not the same thing.  But I'm suspicious all the same. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Eye of Tabby: Photography for the week of July 27

Tabby's photo selection for the week.  I like taking photos but I never think of things like taking close up pictures of grass!  I think both her grass photos are so interesting.  And the angle of the butterfly on the bee balm.  And the goat is soooo cute .... etc. etc.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Eye of Tabby - week of July 19

Tabby loaded photos and shared a bunch with me today.  Wow - it was hard to pick what to leave out so my post isn't too long!  So many interesting photo angles and effects:

I think the lily may be my very favorite.  But ... I'm not sure.  The toad is fascinating, the moon almost haunting, etc etc.

What's your favorite?  :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Making homemade liquid hand soap

As Obama's UN-affordable healthcare plan goes into its final painful phase at my husband's workplace, I am trying to find more ways to save money to make up for the financial blow we are taking.  (I will spare you my rant about this forced healthcare.)

One thing I tried last week, was to make liquid hand soap.  We go through liquid soap like crazy around here!  And I wash my hands so much that the regular/cheap/chemical filled stuff from the store makes my hands really dry.  But I've decided, the wonderful stuff I was buying is a bit too much with our financial readjustments.

So ... homemade liquid hand soap!  This is a recipe that I have seen in several places online.

I started by grating a bar of our our wonderful, original scent homemade goat milk soap.

Then I put the grated soap in a pot with a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of liquid [vegetable] glycerin.  I set the stove top to medium high heat.  I stirred the soap occasionally.

Once the soap was melted, I turned off the heat and left it in the pot overnight.  This will help the soap thicken up some.

The next day, I used a hand blender to mix it all together.  (Though thinking back, I am not sure this was necessary.)  Then I poured it into a empty, clean jug I had.

We have two places in the house where using liquid hand soap works best for us.  (In other places we use our homemade bar soap.)  I just had to put the hand soap into dispensers that were pretty and interesting.  So I got out two of my blue Ball pint sized mason jars and added in the dispenser part, which I got here for cheap off Ebay.

The soap smells great and works good.  BUT ... it is not quite thick enough for our liking.  Before I make another batch, I need to research online to see if I can find how to do this.  (If you know how - please share your tips!)

Another money saving tip I wanted to share was, anytime you get ready to order something online and don't have a coupon code, go to  I almost always find coupon codes there.  Plus, I have noticed lately that there are often really good coupons that are exclusive to RetailMeNot.

In barnyard news, Sherlotta has suddenly developed a terrible case of wanderlust.  Since last week, we have had at least three neighbors call us, worried that she'd be hit by a car.  (Like her wandering mama Dixie was, earlier this year.)  We decided that "The Bomb" (her nickname because she's got such explosive energy) needed a cooling off period behind bars.  So - into the goat pen for her!  (Which she actually LOVES.)

"Bomblotta" - this picture even though blurry - captures her perfectly!
Exhaust Pipe went in to visit his sister, and so did some chickens.  It looked like a barnyard party!

Of our 17 guinea keets that hatched last month, sadly there is only 1 remaining.  We named this tough little survivor "Tribulation."  Here is Tribulation with his/her ever present parents, Leah Rose and Rayford:

The next time we find a pile of guinea eggs, we hope to incubate them.  Then we should have a good success rate.

The biddies we bought this spring are really growing!  They're still not full sized chickens yet though.  I think this Gold Laced Wyandotte is so pretty.  She looks like she's on a mission here:

Finally, here is a Solomon sandwich:

What a funny way to fall asleep at naptime.  :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Back to Eden with redbud trees

Several years ago, one of my best friends told us about the Back to Eden gardening method.  She highly recommended we watch the free online movie about it.  Frank watched it and then prepared an area outside for a garden, using things he learned about.  He layered compost, mulch, cardboard, newspapers, chicken manure, leaves ... not necessarily in that order, and it made the soil incredibly rich.

How rich?  Simply look at our two redbud trees for a comparison.  Shortly after we moved here, we planted these two trees.  They were both looked like skinny sticks and were about 14" high.  They are planted only about 25-30 feet apart. One tree ended up in the "Back to Eden" garden area.  Here is the tree in the "regular" part of the yard:

And here is the tree in the "Back to Eden" garden:

Quite an amazing difference, isn't it?

Here's another picture of the bigger redbud, at the left edge of the garden:

Since nothing grew in Lilly's garden this spring, I have decided to follow some Back to Eden methods to get the soil in her garden really rich and prepared for some new lily bulb planting either later this fall or in the early spring.  Right now we are putting in compost.  I need to add in some cardboard when I get a chance.  Then dead leaves as I can.

Lilly's garden isn't pretty now, but I'm hoping next spring it will be beautiful enough to make up for this disappointment of this spring.

"Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit." - Jeremiah 29:5

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The book list - June

Life has been extra busy around here the last two months.  Even though I've been reading several books, I only managed to finish one in June.

Hunter has discovered the thrill of chapter books!  Here he is reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  He still prefers reading repair manuals, but is now willing to broaden his horizons some.

Feng Shui That Makes Sense: Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks by Cathleeen McCandless - I've heard of "feng shui" (pronounced "fung shway") off and on over the years, but never really knew what it was.  I had a vague definition that it was some weird superstitious ancient Chinese stuff.  But this year, I kept hearing "feng shui" enough that I finally decided to educate myself about it..  So I went to our local library took check out their collection of feng shui books.  I was dismayed the books were tucked into their New Age/Mystical section.  I almost dismissed the idea again, but finally settled on Feng Shui That Makes Sense written by an American feng shui consultant that has been in the business over 20 years.

Wow - what an interesting book!  Some is still rather foreign to my American way of thinking, but much of it makes sense.  Chinese feng shui has been around for about 4000 years.  From pgs. 1-2:

"Feng Shui is the study of the environment and how it affects people. ... [It] is not a belief system, a religion, superstition, or magic.  You don't need to 'believe' in it in order for it to work.  Feng shui has nothing to do with changing your luck and everything to do with helping you create a space that promotes feelings of happiness and well-being."

The author of this book examines both the inside and outside of homes in detail with lots of examples of good and bad feng shui.  Tabby read some of this book too and now we now look at our home - and others - quite differently.  If you hang out with us you might hear one of us say "Oh that's bad feng shui!"

Thinking about what I read has helped me make sense of why I have continuously felt rather overwhelmed and unsettled by a lot of my house.  (We moved here several years ago - when Solomon was only 3 weeks old.  He was a very clingy baby and I struggled with post partum depression after we got here so lets just say it was NOT an easy move.)  As I declutter (using the KonMari method - see The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo) in our home this summer I will be incorporating some feng shui principals in too.

I think many of us know that clutter/too much stuff can make us feel bad.  (I won't define "too much" - that's up to you.)  There are a number of reasons for this.  But one that I never thought of, until I finished this book, was that clutter blocks energy in the home.  (The Chinese call this energy "chi.")  We know that molecules and atoms surround us, vibrating at different frequencies, yet because we don't see them, it's hard to remember they are there.

In the 1600s, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens noticed that "two pendulum clocks hung side by side would eventually synchronize and begin to swing in the same rhythm." (p. 263)  Isn't that so interesting?  I keep thinking about that and that reminds me of the energy surrounding us.  What happens when you have lots of clutter or just too much stuff?  That energy is blocked.  Not good.

If you practice feng shui, I'd love to hear about it!

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." - Colossians 1:16

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Eye of Tabby: photography for the week of July 12

It's time for some more photography by Tabby!

sunset view from the car - July 4th
Can you spot the goats?
another sunset view from the car
fireworks - July 4th - looks like an Easter lily
fireworks - July 4th - Sith lightning?
fireworks - July 4th - best fireworks picture ever!
night sky in black and white
evening clouds

Can you spot the cows?

gorgeous evening sky