a nice evening for a birthday

Harvey turned 7 today. He has a great birthday; the longest day of the year means plenty of time for fun and excitement. He spent the end of the day today playing outside with the neighbors and shooting video on the new tablet device he got as a present yesterday (thanks Grandma Beth!), and we capped the evening sitting in the front yard watching bats as we listened to the 9:00 taps echo over at the Air Force base.

As well as birthday celebrations—which'll continue all week—today also marks the end of the school year in town. That doesn't mean so much to us, but since I failed to ever update anyone on Harvey's progress throughout the year I thought I'd better put together a "year-end" report before it was too late. It's nice to have deadlines. I did it all online, so you can take a look if you're interested in what our homeschooling looked like this year, when packaged for public-school educators.

Tomorrow we're getting up early for strawberry picking, if all goes well... why can't we have long nights and long days in the summer?!

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moments from the week

the boys atop a hill looking towards the horizon

breezy view at Robbins Farm

A few images from the past week.

Lijah, Liam, and Henry playing in Liam's driveway

little buddies

naked lijah walking with Mama in the shallow water at Walden

by evening he decided he liked the water

Lijah lying down wearing a pink and purple tutu over his clothes

prettiest boy

Harvey in his newly-made Green Lantern shirt, using his power ring

ready for a superhero birthday

Lijah in the midst of a birthday party covered with blue frosting

he liked his cupcake

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chickens in our kitchen

One thing I had forgotten about having chicks in the house was the smell. No, it's not bad, it's a delightful mix of pine shavings, heat lamp, and a little something from the chicks themselves. When they start smelling worse it'll be time to send them outside; for now they're totally indoor cuties.

Zion looking at the chicks, Mama holding one

new tenents

Leah was standing by the phone all morning yesterday, but once again the post office was happy to make a special delivery and brought the box by this afternoon at around 1:00. We had some new friends over—another local homeschooling family—and they were just about leave; naturally they waited a couple minutes to meet the new arrivals!

Mama and Harvey opening the chick package

opening ceremony

All four chicks were alert and active in their packing box, but super ready to get out and start eating and drinking, which they were able to do without any intervention from us. They were plenty warm enough too, and didn't feel any need to huddle under the heat lamp; we've already moved it up twice.

the chicks in their brooder under the red heat lamp

red-light district

Our second-grade visitor wanted to know right away if we had named them—were we going to name them? None of our current hens have names, since we look at them more as livestock than as devoted family pets. And yet, we did get all of our chicks from MyPetChickens.com, so a little petting seemed fair—once they had gotten used to their new surroundings, of course. All the boys were very gentle.

Zion and Lijah petting a chick

petting the pet

Our friends had to leave before that point, so now we can be sure they'll want to come back. We'll have the little cuties in our kitchen for another couple weeks; come visit them in their fuzz-ball stage, before they turn into gangly chicken teenagers!

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happy birthday chicks

a bag of chick starter feed on our porch

a sign of the times

That's the sight on our side porch yesterday, and you know what it means: more chickens on the way! According to the schedule, four of the many chicks that'll be born today at the MyPetChicken.com hatchery are destined to arrive at our house tomorrow. This will be our third time raising chicks; the first time is well covered in these pages, the second not as much. It may be that this time we're a little more ready for the excitement—what with not having an infant in the house and all—and we'll be able to make a little more of it than we did two years ago. We'll see!

Right now we have five hens: two barred rocks from the original four, and a Blue Orpington, Partridge Rock, and Gold-laced Wyandotte from the 2014 class. Coming this week—if all goes well—will be an Australorp, a Buff Orpington, a Welsummer, and a Silver-laced Wyandotte. I'm looking forward to meeting them!

Of course, while we're excited we're also totally pros at this by now and, beyond buying the feed pictured above, haven't done anything in the way of preparation. We assume the brooder setup is still down there in the basement ready to use; I know we have lots of shavings in the shed; the heat lamp bulb may or may not work but we can always track down another one if needed.

That last is especially true because chicken-raising has officially gone mainstream here in Bedford: on our most recent trip to the hardware store a couple weeks ago the boys and I noticed that they're now stocking chicken feed (in bags half the size and twice the price as we get at the feed store out in the country, as befits the artisinal suburban hens it's destined for). We didn't see any chick feed, but I'm sure they have heat lamps. And if not we can always hit up the feed store, and while we're there pick up some more scratch for the big hens. The little guys will be cute, but we won't forget our old friends: they're the ones giving us eggs right now!

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moments from the week

Harvey and me (and Lijah and Liam) setting off on the PMC course

the highlight of the week

Photos from the week that was.

Harvey lying on the ground shooting the BB gun at a target

shooting with Grandpa

Lijah smiling at the camera and showing off his new sandals

new sandal model

Lijah eating a donut at the farmers market

first farmers market donut

Lijah and Zion at the bird sanctuary, wind blowing the vegetation

windy outing

Lijah wearing a king cape over his front (and nothing else)

modesty cape

naked Lijah standing in a mud puddle with a trowel

in the mud

Zion and Harvey chatting at a playground

planning and playing

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