Monday, July 7, 2014

Work Hard, Play Hard

It's interesting trying to explain the concept, "work hard, play hard", to two kids. 

Ghon's truck had been having issues starting for 2-3 days, it was hit or miss if the truck would start. Sometimes, it would reliably start by remote start, but not by key. Suddenly, or so it seemed, it worked fine for close to two weeks. Then two weeks ago, as I was attempting to leave to take Jonathan to Taekwondo, the truck wouldn't start again. And, for the next 4 days, it wouldn't start. Fortunately, a new starter was something Ghon could replace at home. When the truck suddenly started one day, we took it to the farm to park and wait for repair.

After working 10 days straight, Ghon finally had a day off on Saturday. We started the day by doing a little bit of running around. First stop was picking up a new starter. Then we were off to Lowes, 'cause it isn't a trip into town with Ghon without stopping at Lowes. We even threw in a trip to Tractor Supply, which oddly enough is one of the kids new favorite places to shop. Quick stops at the Farmers Market and a farm market (yes, there is a difference!) and we were back at the farm.

Queue the work part of the day. Jonathan wanted to know why we always had to work so much at the farm. I tried to explain to him that we had a lot of yard work to do and a lot to fix the house up, and that once we were done those things, we could have so much more fun. That today for example, we had to do some work, and a lot of it early and quick, so that we could have fun later with our friends. You have to work hard to play hard!

Genevieve and I dropped the boys off and headed back to our house. She helped me make a pasta salad for a party we were going to later that evening, and made PB&J sandwiches for her and Jonathan for lunch. Meanwhile I also threw together a hot roast beef sandwich for Ghon and I, packed up some fruit, drinks and ice. Genevieve and I put on our farm clothes and headed out.

While we were busy at the house, Ghon and Jonathan fixed the truck. Jonathan was a great help to Ghon. While Ghon laid under the truck, he could ask Jonathan for different size wrenches, like "the one with a 13 on it" and Jonathan would grab the right one. Quite a dynamic duo!

Lunch complete, it was back to work. I did some quick mowing and put our nused (new to me used) grill in place. I'd picked it up the previous week from a neighbor for $5! Can't beat that!

First up for Ghon - fixing the chicken tractor. We use this run to house meat birds. After being moved around the yard last year, it needed a little TLC. Jonathan helped Ghon tighten up the run and also build a small coop/shelter for the birds. They repurposed scrap wood for the whole project.

While they started on the mobile chicken home, I hammered t-posts out in the garden. Plan was to erect more fencing to help keep the deer out. Genevieve spent a lot of time with me, as she has taken a strong dislike to the deer eating her garden. Occasionally, both her and Jonathan would take breaks on the swing.  Genevieve also did a stint building the chicken home.

Genevieve wanted to use the drill too!

Helping drill the screws in place.

Measuring for the next cut.

It was a hot day. While we have plenty of water and gatorade (and sunscreen!) for the kids, if you add up the heat, the work, and some pretty intense swinging, or spinning rather, on the swing, it can knock you out. Jonathan claimed he wasn't feeling to good, so I told him to take a rest on the ground.

About ten minutes later he was good as new.

Sometimes, she's just too darned cute to not take a picture of her!

With the chicken tractor complete, it was time to move it into the garden. The idea is to keep the weeds down between the rows and also naturally fertilize the ground. However, the added weight to this tractor, since it was repurposed, was a little much. The lawn tractor pulled the eye hooks out, Ghon couldn't pull it and I couldn't push it. The little drag from the tractor was enough for Ghon and I together to maneuver it into it's final resting place.  I brought the chicks out and threw the kids into the pen. I handed them each a chick to put into their new home. Then, they tried to get them into their house so they would know where it was.

I kid you not, there are 30 little chickies in there.

In a couple weeks, Ghon will build another chicken tractor, lighter in weight. Right now, they all fit fine together, but they will need to be separated before long!

Chicks secured, goats fed, quail fed, it was off for the play hard part of the day. Back home for quick showers for the boys while I gave Genevieve a quick scrub down, then a quick shower for me and we were off to our friends house for a pre-July 4th party!

Genevieve and Jax have a love hate relationship. They had gone to the same daycare for over a year, until recently when Jax needed a place closer to his parent's work. Genevieve had been the youngest before Jax came on the scene, so they vied for their sitter's attention. Endless days I'd hear about Genevieve being in time out for pushing or hitting Jax. Now, they are buds, and wouldn't leave each others side at the party.

They even tried to head up to his room, but we kept them downstairs.

Jess and Clint host an amazing party that is very kid friendly! A pool, bouncy slide, pinata, goodie bags...


...and fire! Sparklers and fireworks!!

Once again, we were the last to leave. It was hard tearing the three of them apart to go. Thanks Clint, Jess, and Jax for a great evening!

The kids were up so late Saturday, we slept in Sunday. Jonathan didn't wake up until close to 10:30am! Since we missed out on church, it was out for our grocery shopping, home to unload then back to the farm!

While we waited for Ghon to get off work, we took care of the animals and started dinner. I was so tired last year of cheeseburgers every weekend, I'm trying new things out on the grill, and trying to round out our meals more so it's not just a burger. Or a hot dog/sausage. I was pretty excited at the farm meal I pulled together for Sunday!

Corn on the cob, leftover salsa pasta salad, bread and grilled chicken tenderloin.

The kids also did a lot of swinging. I was of course on pushing detail, so was able to snap this cute picture of them.

A seat large enough for two! Well, when they want it to be!

Before we left for the night, we gave our mailbox a little decoration for the upcoming holiday! The black eyed susans that Cindy gave me last year are doing amazing!

Switched out the hummingbird flag for a little patriotic skull. Each side tire has it's own flag too.

Ghon had off work Tuesday and Wednesday last week. Both days he spent at the farm working in the garden. He cut down some of the weeds and grass growing between the rows, weeded around the pumpkin and started installing some fencing to help keep the deer out. He'd tried a new approach to gardening this year. Deer issue aside, it seems to be working.

We have hard dirt and a lot of rock. Despite the tilling, it's not always the easiest to grow in. This year, Ghon build mounds - approximately 3x3 squares - and planted in those. Everything has been growing great - it's the deer that enjoy the fruit, or vegetable rather, of our labor that's the pain.  He worked in two very hot days, even in a few quick rain showers to get the garden in shape. He also did a quick task in the house, finishing the raising of one corner in the living room.

Jonathan had a much needed break this week, with no activities at all. That also means a nice break for Taxi Mom.  By Thursday, we were ready to do something. If you can't tell, it isn't to often that we aren't doing something.

The city of Winchester hold their July 4th activities on the night prior. There are some kids activities, corn hole, a band, roving clowns, balloon artists and other activities on the pedestrian mall in Old Town Winchester. The festivities end with fireworks.  We'd already had a big rainstorm, and although we were expecting another, the kids and I still loaded up a bag and headed out.

But first, I had them get into their swimsuits. On the pedestrian mall, they installed an awesome splash pad. I was going into this event with experience, and brought them prepared.

He needed no encouragement - he tore right into the water!

Genevieve took a little while to warm up to it. She didn't want to get in, then she finally touched one fountain, then started running the perimeter.

That is actually screaming laughter, not terror!

I couldn't get them to stand still for a picture together. The best I could do was have them scream photo bomb, so they thought they were bombing each other's picture, and go from there.

This is a photo bomb?
They were the only two playing for half an hour. I think the threat of more rain kept people away. After a bit, Genevieve was just as soaked as Jonathan. After 45 minutes of playtime, I got them dried up and changed in the bathroom nearby and we headed down the mall for pizza!

But first, we stopped for balloons. It was a good thing Jonathan got a sword - he got into a battle with some clowns, but he won! And these clowns I would classify more as mimes. They were very interactive, and we came across them several times that evening.

Genevieve did OK the first time we saw them. She stayed close to my side, but didn't get upset. Every time after, she screamed and cried. She didn't want to see them. What turned out to be the last time we spotted them, I saw them first, had Jonathan move to the side closet to them and scooped her up and told her to close her eyes. She still clung to me.

Guess clowns now rank up there with people/characters in costume. Not a good thing for Genevieve.

After dinner, it was raining. We still walked around in the drizzle. Jonathan wanted to try the Euro bungee, but was nervous. He finally said that sometimes, you have to do what scares you to prove to yourself you can do it - and got in line. I was so proud of him for trying! He had a great time bouncing while Genevieve and I watched.

The end of the night - fireworks. I stake out a spot in the parking garage that looks directly to the launch site. We watched the fireworks from the back of my truck with fresh kettle corn. Awesome night!

Now that is actually Independence Day, and I had the day off, it was time to work at the farm. Ghon had to work, so it was down to me and the kids to get somrthing done. With the animals taken care of, we were off to gather our first harvest!

Feeding the chickens their snacks

Genevieve going after the first zucchini!

Don't you love the outfit? Peep the zebra print pants! And that zucchini! It's bigger than her arm!

Jonathan's turn for harvesting a zucchini!

He was also able to secure the only squash this week!

The first harvest of 2014!

Not ready just yet, but we have tomatillo growing!

The pumpkin are doing great! They were hidden in a ton of weeds, but Ghon's work earlier in the week help clear them out!

Jonathan wanted to drive the tractor, so I let him help haul plants around. We'd bought a few blueberry bushes and a grape vine a while ago, but had never planted them. Ghon also picked up a few more plants while out with the kids early on the 3rd. 

Farmer Jonathan hauling the plants, water, and Genevieve to the garden.

While Genevieve helped me plant the additional melon and squash plants, Jonathan would swing. Then Genevieve would give up helping and swing. It kept them occupied: work, swing, work, swing.

Took him a few tries on the rope, but he's figured it out. And Genevieve can finally swing herself - a little bit. 

Back to work! Tim stopped by and offered to help with the mowing. He brought his lawn tractor down last week so that we could have two running if we had the drivers to do so. He set off to mow the far field and around the orchard, and Jonathan drove off on our tractor to help. Genevieve and I finished planting the blueberries and giving them a little drink.

Using her new watering can.

Tandem mowing. Tim on the left and Jonathan on the right.

It was a beautiful day! Mid 70s and a nice little breeze!

With most of the far field mowed, Tim took a break to buy some drinks and treat us to lunch. While he ran out, I loaded the kids into the tractor and mowed the front and side yard. Genevieve and I also spent some time using grass clippings to mulch around the plants.

After lunch, we took a walk to our friend Daniel's house to pick some wildflowers he'd planted. We ended up with a gorgeous bouquet to end our time at the farm. We headed home to get ready for dinner and for Ghon to come home from work, while Tim finished up more mowing. He mowed the orchard for us, and did an amazing job. Saved me much time for the rest of the weekend.

My wildflower bouquet!

Even though Pop and BJ made dinner that night, I was still busy working. Laundry to fold, dishes to put away, and reading to log. What? The kids are both enrolled in the local library's summer reading program. Once I had all their reading logged in and told them they were 15 minutes from winning the first prize, they both sat down with their tablets to listen and read stories! I'm pretty proud of how much they have been reading!

Ghon got home just in time for dinner, then we were back out the door. We dropped his truck off at the farm, took a quick walk around the garden then headed to Middletown VA for more fireworks!

At several points, I had three Eckleys laying on me. I couldn't feel my legs.

We left Ghon's truck at the farm and went home to crash. Another late night but fun day and evening.

Saturday, Ghon worked a closing shift. While the kids and I did a ton of running around in town, he was going to use the sweeper to collect most of the grass cut by Tim and I the day before, take care of the animals and go to work. I dropped him off on the way into town, and to switch trucks.

To our horror, the chickens were awake. We'd left his truck and forgot to put them to bed. We lost 4 more hens that night.

I really don't like raccoons.

We really need to work on installing the electric fence.

The kids and I had a long day. We hit up the library first for story time and for them to get their first reading challenge prize. The library was showing a movie with popcorn and allowed for a picnic lunch an hour after story time. The kids and I left, drove to Southern States to fulfill that part of our shopping list, then to a specialty store for honey, grabbed lunch and back to the library to watch Underdog. Next we were off to Lowes, window shopping (as in looking) for fruit trees at Home Depot, a quick ice cream treat, then weekly grocery shopping. Jonathan was feeling sick, with a fever and sore throat, and I ran them down today. Both kids fell asleep on the way home. No farm work Saturday.

Come Sunday, we all slept in. Well, except Ghon. He worked so late Saturday night, he actually didn't make it home until close to 2:30 am and left again at 6am. I stayed up, half waiting for him and half just wide awake. I could hardly call sleeping until 8:00 sleeping in when I didn't go to bed until 2:30 and was up for a bit at 5:15 when the alarms started going off.

Quick breakfast, wake the chickens, and off to church for Vacation Bible School for the kids. I really love our church. Everyone is super nice, and for being a small church, they do so much, especially for the kids. I am really glad we joined!

After church, we headed home, ate lunch, except Jonathan, who still wasn't feeling well, and changed to our farm clothes. Off we went to pick up a few more trees for the orchard - end of season specials! The day went so quick, by the time we made it home to the farm, it was time for dinner!

Marinated and grilled chicken thighs with grilled zucchini from the garden!

After dinner, we had some watermelon. I was showing the kids how to eat the watermelon without their hands, trying to get them a little more excited about the idea.


I can't remember exactly how it came up, but Jonathan asked about keeping the baby chicks. Now, the kids eat a lot of chicken, but we didn't think they had completely connected the dots that chicken nuggets and chicken tenders are in fact, chicken. That last connection was starting to happen for Jonathan. Lucky for me, I had my phone in my hand when he tried to confirm that the baby chicks would be dinner one night.

Chicks? For dinner?
He felt better when I told him that we wouldn't be having them for dinner until they were bigger. He couldn't bear to think about having them as babies. He really took some time thinking about this. A day later, he brought it up to me again, and couldn't understand how the chicken tenders at Applebee's came from chickens at the farm. In his mind, there was no way the chicken could get from the farm, to Applebee's, prepared and cooked for his meal in that short of time. Such a cutie and so smart!

After dinner, Ghon grabbed Dora for a few minutes of attention. Sorry for the crummy pics - my camera is still in repair and I'm only using my cell.

I promise, he's not strangling the goat, just giving her a rub!

Next, it was time to round up the chickens for bed. Occasionally, 1-2 will get out of their run and need to be caught. Genevieve loves to pet them still, so whenever one is in hand, it becomes a momentary toy or pet.

Captain Chicken

Chicken Love

On the house front, we still haven't done a whole lot inside. Ghon did jack up a living room corner where there was still some ceiling sag. Once upon a time, the upstairs bathroom had a leak in the shower, and it looks like there was some water damage that caused some rot and the floor to then sag. This week, Ghon will probably be shoring that section up.

Hopefully, Ghon will also be able to get the covering over the chicken pen. In the last two days, we've seen a chicken get out and decide to perch in the nearby trees. Tonight when Ghon headed down to put them to bed, he found three chickens in the run. All of the other chickens were perched in nearby trees. He was climbing trees and using poles to knock them out of the taller branches to try and get them back to bed. Stupid chickens. Perhaps they think they could hide from raccoons this way. Little do they know...

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