Nature At It’s Best, In Our Own Backyard.

My husband discovered an extravagant nest immediately outside our back door, about 3 foot off the ground, 5 days ago (Friday). It was built in an old Mountain Dew box that was sitting on top of our grill table awaiting dryer days for the fire pit. Dryer days was that day and it almost went in. He quickly put it back and left it where it was. The box and some of the nesting materials were still wet from the days of rain.

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Saturday, she had an egg in the nest. We hadn’t used our grill all winter but we had just got a new gas tank that day and we were clearing the patio and pulling out the grill to prepare to cook dinner on it. I walked outside and he had moved the nest. I said no! it has to be back where it was, so I needed to find something else to set it on at the same height and in the same spot, so that we wouldn’t be disturbing it. I quickly thought and I found a solution and the nest went unmoved.

We left it alone and the next morning (Sunday), there was another egg in the nest. Oh how excited I was that we didn’t make her abandon the nest. I forgot to take a picture of the lone egg in the nest however I did get a picture of the 2 eggs. We don’t have to go look in the nest, it’s literally right as soon as we open the door to let the dog out. [ I worried that she put her nest in a terrible place with how highly trafficked the door is.] My husband said when he was letting the dog out one morning before work, she was in there sitting on her eggs and didn’t seem bothered by him at all. “She’s a little wren,” he said.

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Yesterday morning (Monday) I went to let our dog out to use the bathroom and there were three eggs in the nest.

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That’s when I decided to look up how many she’ll lay, I saw her today and I was wrong before, so I’m editing it now, she’s a Carolina Wren not a House Wren. They nest anywhere from 3 feet to 6 feet off the ground and they will lay an egg a day until they reach 3-7 eggs. Then they incubate from 12-16 days. I was intrigued to read that her mate may sometimes bring her food while she’s on the eggs. Once they hatch it will be another 10-16 days before they leave the nest.

You can read more here https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Carolina_Wren/lifehistory

I think being able to watch her clutch grow and possibly be able to see them hatch and become actual birds is a very neat experience. My biggest fear is that she’ll abandon the nest and I’m really hoping she won’t. I would love to be able to document their development, since I know the time frame of their whole cycle personally.

This morning when I let the dog out to use the bathroom, there were four eggs in the nest. Only one or two more days and she’ll be done laying. I still haven’t seen the mama with my own eyes yet. This is an exceptional learning experience for the children because I can educate them about a bird’s life cycle. How important it is to leave nature untouched and to just observe. After seeing a cat give birth to kittens a few months ago and to watch me carry their sister in my belly for 9 months, they are intrigued at the fact that birds lay eggs and have to sit on them until they are born.

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I will continue to observe and update on the nest in future posts. So if you’d like to see more about these babies, follow me.

 

**EDIT**
I finally was able to catch a photo of her since she isn’t in the nest much during the day, I snapped a quick shot tonight. (I didn’t have to get close, I just used my zoom)

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Nature At It’s Best, In Our Own Backyard.

Fruits,Vegetables and Our Kids

I’m 26 years old and not ashamed of having been a picky eater most of my life, but I give myself credit for actually trying foods before saying I don’t like them… for instance today while I was at my mothers house she was eating Brussels Sprouts. I’d never had them before and I’ll tell you right now, I’ll never have them again. I couldn’t even force myself to finish chewing, let alone swallow the darn thing. I couldn’t see how people actually enjoyed them, yet her and my husband kept popping them in their mouth. Gross.

We don’t raise picky eaters… at least in the sense that we make them try something at least once or twice before making a final decision. We don’t let them say they don’t like something having never tried it and then allow them to refuse to eat it forever. After trying it we’ll go a while, a few months or so, before we’ll introduce it again, because surprisingly in some cases they end up liking it. I’ll give an example in just a bit.

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My oldest (10 years old) eats onions raw and cooked, she eats corn,lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, asparagus, beans, celery, cucumber, pickles, she eats raw bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and more. So far there hasn’t been many vegetables (that we eat often) that she hasn’t ended up liking after trying them. Some of the ones she doesn’t like are zucchini, tomatoes or peas. Plus side, she likes every fruit we’ve put in front of her.

My oldest son (7 years old) likes potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, cucumbers, and beans. He’s been working on trying more things like bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, squash and onions. He doesn’t like lettuce (except for salad), corn (except corn on the cob), carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, peas or green beans either. He’ll also eat every fruit put in front of him.

My middle son (5 years old) loves corn, grape tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pickles, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, beans, celery. So far not a fan of peas, asparagus, onions, peppers, squash, lettuce (except a salad) or zucchini. He will eat all fruits.

My youngest daughter (4 years old) likes corn, lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pickles, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, beans, celery. She does not like tomatoes, peas, asparagus, onions, peppers, squash, or zucchini. She’s a big fan of fruits of course.

My youngest son (almost 3 years old) loves pretty much all foods put in front of him. He will eat anything. He’ll eat onions, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, asparagus, beans, celery, cucumber, pickles, peas, peppers, carrots, broccoli, and more. He devours all fruits put in front of him, when he was littler he didn’t like the texture of blueberries, but he’s gotten over that.

The tricky part is getting all the plates ready at dinner. My husband and I juggle the who doesn’t want what and who will eat what to decode the algorithm for who gets what portions and of what foods. It’s entertaining though in a way.

Like I mentioned a little above, the kids have tried many varieties of veggies (both raw and cooked versions) over time. We’ve learned what they’ll eat and what they won’t (for now). Sometimes they will ask to try something again on their own and sometimes we’ll just have them try something again to be sure they don’t end up really wanting it on their plate at dinner. In many cases they ended up liking it after a 4th or 5th attempt versus the first few tries. Pickles being one of those feats. We had 3 kids that would not finishing eating a pickle after the first bite and now they can’t get enough. My husband and I eat a lot of fresh vegetables & fruits throughout the day as healthy snack choices, the kids love it too so they gnaw on them along side us.

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I think trying new things is beneficial and I wish my parents had been more enforcing when it came to trying foods as a child because I probably would end up liking more things today. For the past 9 years of my life I’ve been a firm believer in trying something before concluding distaste indefinitely. To the point where even if it’s prepared a different way, I’ll try it again. I’ve surprised myself with the things I did really end up liking. The kids are the same way, they will truly think they won’t like something because of the way it looks, sounds (the name) or smell… but then they end up loving it and not getting enough. It’s struck such an interest in them that they wanted to grow their own vegetables in our garden. So far we’re rooting potatoes, we have 4 tomato plants, and we’ve planted corn and peppers. We also have 2 berry bushes and have planted watermelons. Hoping that all that has successful growth. We’re looking forward to having our own fresh grown food for the table and plan on creating a better vegetable garden next year.

 

Fruits,Vegetables and Our Kids

It’s okay to get your hands dirty.

After a comment on my post about my addiction to gardening that I shared on Facebook, someone was talking to me about the microbes in soil and how it acts as an antidepressant. These good bacteria actually boost the immune system and allows the body to release more serotonin which makes you feel better. (I’ve shared a link to an article about it at the bottom)  I was intrigued with this discovery (especially since I do suffer from depression). I knew there was a reason why I love playing in dirt. I mean who doesn’t right? I love the smell of soil and getting my hands dirty. I could stay outside all day with the kids just playing in the dirt.

My Poppy used to have a homemade dirt/sand box in his backyard when we were young and my cousins and brother and I would dig trenches and fill it with water. We constructed buildings all over and bridges over the trenches. It was hours and hours of fun.

The bottom of our yard is mostly, well… dirt. Sadly though we do not have a dirt/sand box, but that doesn’t stop the kids from getting super dirty. They make mud cakes and build little houses with wood, rocks and dirt for their outside toys. They play restaurant and other imaginative things kids do. They would stay outside all day if they could.

We go hiking or walking every clear weekend we get, since my husband does not work weekends, it’s the only relaxing time we get to enjoy the outdoors. We usually collect nature things on our walks. The kids bring home neat looking sticks, moss, leaves and rocks they’ve come across. We used to have a shelf inside designated for all the rocks and things, but with 5-6 kids bringing home little treasures, it filled up fast and we ran out of room so we started just keeping their discoveries in the garden.

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I’ve been doing some reading on the antidepressant microbes in soil.
Here’s a link to a website with a good article about it. Gardening Chemistry…
It’s interesting to say the least. I never would have thought something such as dirt would actually have some health benefits for us. I’m always looking for new methods of self-help considering I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for 12 years. I prefer to be non-medicated because of all the side-effects from the medications I used to be on. I’m always reading and looking for natural remedies and techniques for handling my depression and anxiety on my own. I’ve been doing good overall for the past few years, some days though, are harder than others. I’m going to be doing my own research and experiments with soil and see what the conclusions are overall. I already know being outside in nature (in the woods, near streams) and in the garden and in the dirt makes me feel better, more calm, more grounded, but now if I do get a dark day I’ll know what may help. It’s worth a shot.

All this talk about dirt has me thinking. I’m going to build a new play station in the backyard for more dirt play and soil exploration for the kids. I’ll make a post about it when it’s built and in action.
It’s okay to get your hands dirty.

Our Backyard Coop Beginning

My husband and I have been talking about getting some chickens for a while now to put in a backyard coop to provide us fresh eggs. I’ve never had experience with chickens, but we’ll learn together.

Our city ordinance is 9 chickens and under, so we started out with just 5. We do not know their sexes yet for definite, but the farm we got them from trades  roosters out for new chicks. I did a feather sexing technique and also listened to their chirps in comparison and it’s looking like majority girls except or one. But I want to know for sure before we make any decisions. We should be able to tell in about 3 weeks. If we’re correct though at least we’ll only have one to trade out.

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We own our home in the city and as much as I love it, I’m starting to really long for a country farm house of my dreams. I want a big plot of land out in the county and I want to expand on my dream to have our own little farm and be self-sufficient. But until then though…

We’re going to be building a coop and run here next weekend or the weekend after, soon, I know that much. The kids were excited to pick up the chicks today, I explained to them that they are nice and cute and fluffy now but that they turn into adult chickens. They weren’t too enthusiastic about that but when I explained to them we’re going to be collecting their eggs to eat, they got excited again. They LOVE eggs!

Here’s the little guys and a rough sketch of what we want the coop and run (it looks open but it will have 4 walls and ventilation plus the run will be open aired). When we start building it, I will take pictures as it progresses. Hubby has been watching online videos and getting ideas on what he wants to do. Apparently he’s named them already, though I was waiting to do that, but it’s nice he even thought to name them at all. He named them Midnight, Sunshine, Nugget, Speckles, Lucky. (I heard it’s not good to name them when it’s possible they could be eaten in the future, but I guess he couldn’t help himself.)

PicMonkey Collage

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BENEFITS WE’LL HAVE FROM OUR BACKYARD COOP

  1. Knowing what conditions our chickens are living in.
  2. Knowing what our chickens are eating and what’s going into our eggs.
  3. Having fresh eggs for our family and knowing how old the eggs are.
  4. From what I’ve read, many people who raise chickens see them as an antidepressant, they lower stress just by watching them and tending to them. I can already see how that’s true just looking at these little guys.
  5. Can turn their waste into fertilizer for the garden by adding it to the soil or compost pile.
  6. As we cycle out of our chickens, we’ll have fresh meat for meals.
  7. They are good recyclers for table scraps, not as their main food supply, but to cut back on waste.
  8. Natural pest-control for the backyard and garden. They eat many pesky insects.
Our Backyard Coop Beginning