Monthly Archives: February 2013

40 Weeks and Counting…

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Well, I’m officially overdue. Again. This baby is apparently very comfortable in there and in no hurry to move out, in spite of what feels to me like very cramped conditions. I’m trying to keep in mind that there are lots of parents out there with preemies in the NICU who would have given anything for their babies to stay safely inside for 40 weeks, but I am so ready for this little boy to get here.

I’ve spent the last few days cleaning the house, making sure I’m all caught up on laundry, and just generally trying to be ready for any visitors who might come by after the baby arrives. This is not to say that my house looks (or will ever look) perfect. It looks like exactly what it is: home to an active 3-year-old, two adults, four cats, and a dog.

Speaking of trains, we went yesterday and got The Boy’s much-anticipated electric train. It was his reward for the amazing progress he’s made in the past few weeks. After understanding the theory for about two years, he’s finally decided to start using the toilet consistently, and he’s suddenly sleeping in his “big-boy bed” all night every night. We’re so proud of him! He knows it, too — every morning when he wakes up with a dry pull-up, he says, “Are you so proud of me and so impressed?” Anyway, he was thrilled to go get his train. His daddy built a great, sturdy table for it yesterday afternoon, and he was out in the Florida room first thing this morning to play with it.

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He keeps asking me about the hospital — how long I’ll be there, what will happen, how soon I’ll be home, etc. He’ll have his Nana, Aunt Gigi, and cousins to play with, so he’ll probably handle the separation better than I will. I’m dreading it. I haven’t even left for the hospital yet, and I already can’t wait to get home.

I go to bed every night thinking, “OK, this is the night. Tonight the real contractions start.” And I wake up the next morning thinking, “Crap.” At this point, I’m scheduled to be induced next week, and I’m praying like crazy that this child will decide to come on his own before that. I’ve heard it said elsewhere, but it really does seem crazy to avoid so many things throughout pregnancy (including any and all medications that actually work) and then pump our bodies full of multiple powerful drugs because it’s suddenly supposed to be safe. I do not want this pregnancy to end that way.

This post isn’t meant to be a pity party. So to lighten things up, I’ll tell you about one of our cats. Gilligan was born the week before Ben and I got married in 2005, under the back porch of the guesthouse we lived in for the first five years. He and his mom and littermates lived in a big dog crate in our living room for about six weeks after we got back from our honeymoon, and when we got home from work at night, we would let them all out to play. Gilligan would sit inches from the open door of the crate and watch forlornly as his siblings jumped out and wrestled on the rug. But he literally could not find his way out of the cage without our help.

He grew into a huge, sleek, jet-black cat, but he’s always been a few bricks shy of a load. Before The Boy was born, the cats slept in our room, and most nights, Gilligan would wake us up by knocking something off of my dresser. We would turn a light on and find him standing on the dresser, wide-eyed, looking totally shocked by the racket he’d just made. We got so frustrated with him, but he was truly incorrigible.

At almost eight years old, he finally seems to have grown out of the kitten stage. Now he’s pretty mature, with only the occasional act of craziness. But he’s a cat with fetishes. He’s completely obsessed with brushes — makeup brushes, basting brushes, paintbrushes. He can sense their presence, and he will dig for them until he finds them. Then he will carry them around in his mouth by the bristles, knock them around on the floor, and happily chew on them for hours. He’s also fascinated with ponytail elastics (which he chews to pieces and devours), used q-tips (which he will knock over the bathroom trash can in order to retrieve), and Crocs (of which he has destroyed three pairs by chewing through the straps). Oh, and plastic shower curtains. He actually fell into the tub once while I was showering because he was trying to chew on the curtain liner and lost his balance.

But for all his quirks, he is the sweetest cat imaginable and has never met a human or animal he didn’t immediately love. All of our cats are wonderful with The Boy, but there’s something especially cute about such a massive cat being so affectionate with him. Here he is, in all his craziness, watching birds. The funny thing is that even after eight years, if the window were wide open, he still probably wouldn’t be able to find his way through.

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Thirty-Nine Weeks

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Thirty-nine weeks, and I am beyond ready for this baby to get out of me! I’m quite certain that God deliberately makes the last few weeks of pregnancy this uncomfortable so that labor will be a more welcome prospect. At this point, even though I know about the sleep deprivation that awaits me, all I can think of is being done with these itchy stretch marks and the claustrophobic-in-my-own-skin feeling. Plus, I want my Boy to be able to sit in my lap again without sliding off my knees!

I’m hoping to labor at home for as long as possible this time, because last time I didn’t feel the need for an epidural until I was lying flat on my back in a hospital bed with nothing to think about but the discomfort. But I ended up hating my epidural and hope to avoid it altogether this time, so I want to stay active for as long as possible! Still, I’m trying to keep all of the animals fully fed and watered in case we do have to head to the hospital quickly for some reason. Do you have any idea how much food two nursing rabbit does and eight growing baby bunnies go through? They seem to view a full food dish as a personal challenge, so keeping them prepared for us to be gone for a couple of days is not the easiest thing.

I do have to mention that we had a small poultry tragedy this weekend. The hen I removed for egg-eating spent the last week or so living the life of a happy free-ranger. We called her Mabel (or Marbles, as The Boy said at first), and she had a great time digging through leaves, tearing apart the straw bale in the carport, and laying eggs (which she never ate) in the compost bin. She also insisted on sleeping there, although there were plenty of safer places she could have roosted. The Boy loved the novelty of having a chicken that came running over as soon as we went outside. On Friday, we came home from a trip to the grocery store and found her digging through the straw in the carport again. My Boy went over near her, and when I called him to go into the house, he said, “Oh, just let me explore with Mabel!” It was pretty cute. Unfortunately, on Saturday night, something found her sleeping spot, and on Sunday morning, all we found were feathers. I hate losing any animal, especially one with so much personality, but I’m really glad she enjoyed these last couple of weeks so much.

The one good thing about losing Mabel is that it lets me know that our coops are secure, because there are obviously predators around. We’re still making improvements, but at least the coops are already doing their most important job well.

My mom got 18 new chicks last week — 6 each of Buff Orpingtons, Ameraucanas, and Black Australorps. It’s very hard to not be getting any of my own right now, but maybe later in the season I can add a few. My Boy is absolutely in love with the little dibbies and handles them so gently. Here he is cooing over one of the little Ameraucanas.

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He’s going to be such a wonderful big brother. Hopefully he’ll be one by the next time I write here!

Nesting

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This third-trimester “nesting” thing? I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to have something to do with cleaning my house, doing laundry, putting meals in the freezer, and generally preparing for the arrival of Baby #2.

Instead, my nesting seems to be centered on… well, nests. And chickens. And by the time I’m done with that, all my energy is used up, and I collapse on the sofa and hope that I’ve solved all the problems and tomorrow can be about nesting for the benefit of the humans in my life.

While the front partitions have cut down drastically on the egg-eating, we’ve still found remnants of a broken egg here and there. Yesterday, I caught a Golden Comet who seemed a little too interested in what was going on in the nest boxes. She was craning her neck to peek over the front of the box while other hens were going about their business, and I was pretty sure she was the same one I’d found standing over a broken egg last week.

I grabbed her and put a zip tie on one leg so I’d be able to keep an eye on her, and sure enough, this morning I went up and found her sitting on a roost all by herself, watching a hen in the nest. While I stood there, another hen jumped out of a nest at the far end of the coop, and by the time I got there, the Comet was off the roost, across the coop, and peeking over the partition at the fresh egg. I grabbed the egg and put a golf ball in the nest, and she hopped right in and started pecking at it. Right in front of me. The brazen hussy.

So right now, she’s hanging out in solitary (also known as the compost bin) with food and water while I figure out what to do with her. I’m hoping that a few days on her own will be enough to break the habit. If not, I guess things will have to get ugly.

And of course, now that I’m getting close to having one problem solved, another one is cropping up. We have a hanging metal feeder with a 30-pound capacity under the front of the coop, and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been finding a lot of feed on the ground. I haven’t seen how it’s happening, but yesterday, Ben put 20-25 pounds of laying pellets in the feeder, and today, there’s about an inch left in the bottom. The rest is spread over about half of the run.

Obviously, when the feeder is full, it’s too heavy for them to spill by jumping onto it or bumping it. It swings freely, so I can’t see how they could scratch the feed out in such large quantities. I can’t raise the feeder, because it’s already hanging directly from an eye hook by a carabiner clip. And there’s nowhere else in the coop or run to hang it. I’m really at a loss as to a) how they’re making the mess and b) what to do about it.

For the time being, I’ve removed the feeder so that they have to eat what they’ve spilled. And I’m trying to decide if I can cut a piece of hardware cloth that will fit in between the tube and the outer rim. But if anyone else has any suggestions, please tell me!

The baby bunnies are as cute as baby bunnies always are. I suppose it’s because of having another baby of our own on the way, but we seem particularly susceptible to the cuteness this time around. So we’re hoping to find homes for these litters instead of putting them in the freezer. Lucky little critters — their arrival was well-timed.

Anyway, the animals are keeping me busy, but I keep hoping that tomorrow will be the day that I white-glove the house, fold all the clothes, and make a bunch of meal plans. And maybe this time, it’ll be true.

Life Among the Cannibals

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I’m still fighting this egg-eating behavior with my girls, and it’s gotten really frustrating! Most sources advise culling the individuals doing the eating, but I’m afraid the problem is too widespread for that. I’m determined to break the habit instead of getting rid of half my flock, but they aren’t making it easy.

They refused to lay on the platform system we built last month, so I took that out a few days ago. But they will not leave the nesting material in the boxes. Doesn’t matter if I use wood chips or straw or how many times I replace it, they scratch it all out within a couple of hours and end up laying on bare boards, which of course leads to cracked eggs, which leads to continued cannibalism. Plus, the broken eggs in the boxes mean that the intact eggs I do manage to find are covered in goop and have straw and dirt stuck to them.

I’ve been collecting eggs very frequently and taking as many as possible right out from under the hens before the others get access to them. Still found evidence of multiple broken eggs every day, so yesterday I added boards to the front of one set of boxes. I hoped this would contain the straw as well as make it harder for them to see eggs in the boxes and therefore less tempting to jump in and eat them.

This morning, it was obviously working. In the boxes with the high front partitions, I had seven beautiful, clean eggs in nests of beautiful, clean straw, while in the other set of boxes, the little bit of straw they hadn’t scratched out was filthy and had three dirty, goop-covered eggs in it.

Probably don’t need to mention that I immediately went and found more boards to add to the front of those boxes, removed all the nasty straw, and replaced it. And by early afternoon, I had two beautiful, clean eggs in one of those nests. I don’t know yet if this will be a long-term solution, but it’s working for now.