Friday, June 19, 2009

"Life is good Mary, know why?"

Johnny came bounding up to me yesterday with this out of the blue statement:

"Life is good Mary, know why?"


To which he proceeded to give me his list of reasons:

  • You got your flowers in

  • Andrew got the porch built

  • Dad mowed the lawn so it's all pretty

  • I have a loose tooth

  • The strawberry's are ripening

  • And Annie's making cookies!

Sigh. "You're right Johnny, life doesn't get better than this..."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Precious New Life

I've been wanting to make a post about 'the precious' (as we call her) and the new life she's spread into our family. Exactly how she's affected us. Because Johnny was already 5, a lot of us figured Mom was done with that baby birthin' chapter of her life. Of course, us girls especially, were still very hopeful, but I think honestly, I never imagined another one. Mom was 44. I was rather resigned to the fact that Johnny would be our baby, even though nobody had every said as much. And It wasn't until we were settled into our new home that Mom found herself feeling good enough to conceive another pregnancy. I'll never forget the day, April 10th 2008 (Lizzy's 9th birthday), when Mom and all of us girls sat huddled around a pregnancy test in the kitchen watching with stunned faces as the little plus sign appeared. There was laughter, tears and joking from everyone for about an hour afterwards. For the next few months, I couldn't look at Mom the same, knowing that she was growing my sibling in her womb. Actually, I believe she did look different. Motherly describes it best. With Johnny being 5 we were getting used to feeling like an older family, when we'd go out especially. Mom was getting more active as the new house had her feeling better and I was getting used to her being like a friend or another sister, joining in our games, and etc. like she would. Now, with the new life on the way, suddenly the whole house was in a stir. Not only Mom, but everyone was protective of Mom's growing womb. We loved to sit next to Mom during the evening rosary and feel the first little kicks. We loved her (and yes, we were sure it was a "her" all along) soo much in the womb that it really drove home the ugliness of abortion to our family. The birth, of course, was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Catching her in my arms and suddenly strongly sensing the life in her tiny little body totally stunned and paralyzed me for a few moments (until she peed on me). Watching Mom hold her baby, did something to all of us as we witnessed her strong protective and loving motherliness at it's most visible state. Seeing my big strong Dad hold a baby with such gentleness, and realizing he held me the same way when I was that small was really stunning. She, little Donnie Marie, brought out the softness of my brothers and the sweetness of my sisters and the self sacrificing of every family member. It really seems like the individual needs to witness those deepest emotions in their parents and siblings, it's such a renewal and a refreshment in the family--that new life. A lot of people must have felt like we had enough life in our family already, in fact that was kind of my impression, too, when I summarized that we were done with babies in the back of my mind. But now that we have our precious I can see that we were so dry before. Mom saw it too, and even commented that she almost regrets waiting on her health to conceive again, when she saw what it did to our family. I believe God knew what He was doing when He designed a family to have all types of life right smack in the middle of it. From the Grandparents down to the toddlers and infants, (replaced by nieces and nephews once Ma was too old ). It's so easy to forget just how rejuvenating it is to have a baby in the household when you haven't had one for awhile. Once it's laying in your arms you find yourself wondering how you made these past years without one. I think, more than anything, that babies bring an incredible amount of grace with them into a family, as they are so pure and innocent--fresh outta heaven as they are. A live little angel cherub right in the center of the family. Thank you, thank you, thank you God, for Donna Marie! Our little precious.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

UnBEElieveable Bugs!

The beehives have to be one of the most interesting activities on the homestead. You wouldn't beelieve how fascinating these little bugs are!

We thought it might bee an interesting blog post to put together all the coolest bee facts, along with Stephen's beeautiful pictures, and beefore you know it, you'll want 'em too just so you can sit around and watch them work.

Stephen went along (at a safe distance) to take pictures when Andrew checked the hives a few days ago. Now you can take a close up peek without even having to suit up!

This year we decided to take a more natural, 'leave em bee', kind of approach. Part of that was letting them build their own comb. Your ordinary bee keepers don't usually opt for this because sometimes the bees will get "creative" (as in, not putting the comb where you want it), and generally cells of the comb are slightly smaller, resulting in smaller, natural-sized bees. However, it's more healthy for them beecause it's what their little bodies are used to doing in the wild.

Here's a frame where comb is just being started. So far the bees have been cooperating with our comb-placement suggestions very nicely!

This one is just about full.

And here's one where they've already beegun capping off their honey with wax.

Contrary to popular beelief, bees will usually not sting you when they're out getting their nectar and pollen. In fact, the kids love to stun people by carrying around and/or petting their furry friends.
They don't sting very often beecause their stingers are attached to their guts and when they sting, their guts get pulled out and they die, so they only do it in self sacrificing defense of their hive.

The bees that you see out pollenating flowers are the female workers. The guys (aka: drones) are sitting back at the hive getting fat! (Oh, the irony...) Their only job is to mate the queen. To do this they fly up to three hundred feet in the air above their hives. Then, when they're done, the drone falls back to earth--dead! They have no stinger and don't do any work, hence the reason the worker ladies will literally kick them out of the hive come winter.

Other interesting facts: It takes about 556 workers to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
The honeybee's wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.

A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour, hence it would have to fly around 90,000 miles - three times around the globe - to make one pound of honey.

The average honey bee will actually make only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

Bees have six legs. Only the worker bees have pollen sacks on their back legs. Bees collect the pollen by wetting it with their saliva and, using their middle legs, they stuff it into the sacks on their hind legs.

While the worker bees only live from 6 weeks to 3 months (during the summer they literally work themselves to death), the queen can live 3 to 5 years. In the event that a queen should die unexpectedly, the whole hive stops production and waits while a new queen is hatched. A queen is made by simply feeding an ordinary bee larva the royal jelly. It's a powerful, milky substance made of digested pollen and honey or nectar mixed with a chemical secreted from a gland in a nursing bee's head. Queens will lay up to 2000 eggs a day at a rate of 5 or 6 a minute.

Bee's are so productive, they're working constantly at what seems like an impossible chore! Makes me feel terribly lazy to just lay in the yard and watch them work. I think there's a lesson to bee learned from these beezy bugs.

Hope you're having a beeutiful day!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Look what we found last night!!!

Please welcome the farm's latest addition: Lena's first little baby!He is simply adorable, and being full Icelandic pony, he's tiny! 
Taking a nap, the picture of sleeping serenity:
Theresa was awoken around 2:30 last night, and, shining a flashlight out of the window, this little guy was immediately spotted. Theresa walking around as proud as Lena today!
He shares his Mom's dun stripe and multicolored tail.
Welcome little buddy!