Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stress Relief

Feeling stressed lately? Turn your speaker volume way up, press play, and take a few deep breaths.

Ahhh. Much better, right? :)

We've been having lots of rain lately. It makes for cold, cloudy, damp days leading me to believe I've been magically transported from rural Missouri to London town. The guineas don't seem to mind; the chickens don't either unless it's a torrential downpour. Duchess has shelter she can take from the rain, but she refuses.

I've noticed that my mood is definitely affected after several dark, gloomy days in a row. The only upside to all the rain is that we have several creeks that get full and produce loud mini-waterfalls as the runoff makes its way over the rocks and debris.

After I got home from work yesterday I went out to the creek and just listened. It's amazing how the sound of running water can calm you down and give you a sense of peace. Sometimes it's the little things, right?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guineas - Part II

(If you haven't read Part I of the guinea saga, go here to catch up.)

So, we let the guineas out to free range. A few things we've learned about guineas over the past few weeks:

1. Guineas are LOUD
2. They can fly like nobody's business
3. Cows don't like guineas
4. Guineas are dumb as rocks
5. Luckily they get along with chickens
6. Did I mention they are loud?

We didn't know what to expect when we set them free, so we planned their release for a Saturday so we could be home for a couple days to make sure all went well. David just took the netting off the top of their run and we waited to see what they would do.

One by one, they excitedly jumped up on top of the fence. Still not sure what was going on, but eager to check things out.

The next thing I knew, they were in flight.

Some of them headed over to check out the chickens.

The rest of them went to check out the house!

Baby watched curiously from a distance.

Duchess was cool as a cucumber.

One of their favorite spots is on top of the chicken run.

While screaming their lungs out.

It has been a few weeks, and thankfully they have been quieter than when we first let them out. The reason why I said we had "some decisions to make" in the last post was because they were so annoying we didn't know if we could keep them around. On several different occasions, David came very close to thinning the flock and sending some of them to "freezer camp." We researched to see if we could do anything to make them quiet down, and found this
"During that first year of life, when virtually everything they see out on range is new to them, they will call out to let you know something is wrong!  This may be the first time they see a predator, the family pet, an unfamiliar face/person, or a leaf falling from a tree!  Yes, all of these things are new to a young guinea at first. But relax, after the first year of life, as the guineas mature and become more familiar with their surroundings and caretakers, they will quiet down."  
We decided to give it a few weeks to see how it went, hoping they'd get accustomed to their surroundings. It seems that they have, and they are ranging further and further away during the day. They always manage to come back and sleep in their coop, which is good because it ensures they will be safe from predators during the night.

Basically what it comes down to is that we got the guineas for a job. We raised them so they would control and hopefully reduce our tick population. We'll have to wait until the summer to see if they are good employees, so we are just going to stick it out for now. Surely by then they will be used to the land and won't freak out if a leaf falls from a tree! But until then, they better be on their best behavior.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow Day

Like most people around this area, we got snow this week!

When it's really cold or snowy, the chickens will usually come out of the coop in the morning to stretch and eat some treats then head back in to cuddle up and stay warm.

I usually give them plenty of chicken scratch when it's cold outside. Scratch is just a mixture of cracked corn, grains, and seeds. They loooove it and it helps to keep them warm when their bellies (er, gizzards) are full. This morning I took them some warm oatmeal as a special treat. :)

Baby came out of her house to eat breakfast and play in the snow.

She's so fluffy right now!

Few things are cuter than kitty paw prints in the snow!

As for the humans, we like to stay warm inside while reading, playing games, eating homemade pizza, and practicing Coldplay's "Fix You" on the new organ.

Unrelated to the snow, I visited a neighbor after I got home from work this evening. But she was pretty rude and wouldn't give me the time of day.

She finally got tired of my playing paparazzi and told me to go home!

Catch more on my neighbors here.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Anyone have fun plans?


Friday, January 6, 2012

To Your Health

Over the past few years, David and I have been more aware of the blessing of good health and how what we eat and the lifestyle choices we make contribute to (or detract from) being healthy. One of the biggest catalysts in this awareness, for me anyway, was getting my cholesterol checked for the first time a few years back. First of all, I was shocked that my doctor even suggested I have it tested. I wasn't even 30 yet and she's talking cholesterol?! Isn't that something that only 50 year-olds need to worry about?! (Apparently age 25 is when it is recommended to first check your cholesterol.)

I was expecting perfect scores all around (always been one to obsess over grades and scores!) when the call came from the doctor's office. "We got your results back and you have high cholesterol. The doctor wants you to go on a diet and have it checked again in three months." I must have heard wrong. "A diet?" I asked in disbelief. They said they would mail me a list of what I could and could not eat. Boy, that list was depressing. I decided I would transition from cooking with butter to cooking with olive oil, and switch out the cow's milk in my morning cereal for almond milk. Three months later, my cholesterol was down to a healthy level.

To some extent, I still have the mentality of "I'm young and healthy! Nothing can get me down!" but now I realize that my dietary and lifestyle choices really do have a big impact on my health and wellness and that the daily choices I make now will affect my health for years to come.

And of course one of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat a balanced diet. I realized that David and I (like most people these days) weren't getting enough vegetables. It seemed nearly impossible to eat five or more servings of vegetables every day! David had been talking to a fellow teacher and carpool mate who was a big fan of juicing vegetables, so we started looking into it and decided to buy a juicer and give this thing a try.

Fast forward about a year or so, and now we aim for a glass of green juice every morning to help get in more servings of veggies (yes, I drink it out of a wine glass!). We decided to do green juice after reading about Kris Carr. She has such an amazing story. Diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer (stage 4) at the age of 31, she is still alive and thriving 10 years later. She attributes her survival to a diet rich in fruits and veggies, including daily green juice. Of course that's not to say veggies can cure cancer, but studies have shown that they can go a long way in helping to prevent it. And with a family history of breast cancer, I've got to do all I can to keep it away from me!

Our morning green juice usually consists of the following:
*Adapted from Kris Carr's Morning Green Juice recipe*
2 large cucumbers (peeled)
1 organic green apple or pear
4-5 stalks of organic celery
Fistful of organic kale (or organic spinach or romaine if I'm out of kale)

This makes enough for David and me to both have a large glass (probably about 12-16 oz each). In a perfect world, we would each drink closer to 32 oz of green juice daily, but we aren't quite there yet. (And a note about organic veggies - I follow the dirty dozen list found here. I don't buy everything organic; only the veggies on this list that have the highest levels of pesticides when grown conventionally.)

In addition to a balanced diet, I've been working on making exercise a habit. This summer David carved out several trails in the woods and we loved to hike every evening after work.

It was so nice yesterday and I made it home just in time to play in the creek :)

When it started getting dark earlier and we weren't able to hike after work in the evenings, I needed to think of a way to get in some exercise indoors. Enter the mini trampoline!

Called rebounding, jumping on a mini trampoline is actually a great way to get some exercise and helps flush out your lymphatic system to keep you healthy. I usually jump while watching TV at night and the time flies by. I have always found it hard to stick to exercise, but I have kept this up for about a month and still love it. I bought my little trampoline for about $40 at WalMart. I highly recommend it!

How do you stay healthy? Any fellow juicers out there? :)


Monday, January 2, 2012

Holidays 2011

We had a great Christmas holiday this year with lots of family and friends. On Christmas Eve, we had lunch at David's grandma's house and we went to my parents' house for dinner. Lots of great gifts at both locations. Thanks again, everyone!

Christmas Eve at my parents' house - 

SyFy loves his grandpa!


On Christmas day, we started a new tradition - boys and guns at Barani Farm!

The inside spread.

The outside spread.

I think they all had a good time!


David's mom was in town from New Mexico for Christmas, so she and David's brother came out to stay with us for a couple days. We watched Crazy Stupid Love, Planet of the Apes, tried to watch The Tree of Life and gave up after 15 minutes, and played a lot of Monopoly Deal!

Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season. Happy New Year!