Stories of Friendship, Family, Fun and Food.
All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Annimal Husbandry

Definition: breeding and caring for farm animals.

Really? I actually thought it meant that the husband had to do all the mucking out and the Wife (not mentioned in the term above) got to sit around for hours on end watching in wonder as her little baby duckling deals with life on the WiseFarm.

Our baby will be one week old tomorrow. We are still waiting for the other two eggs to hatch, but considering they are Muscovy Duck Eggs, which can take 35 days to incubate as opposed to 28 days for little brown ducks, our wait should end on Sunday. If there is no movement by then we are going to do a 'float test' to see if there is a live one inside. 

When we made a conscious decision to embark into this business of breeding (be they be for meat or eggs) the Chef and I decided to let nature takes it's course. We are not going to invest in an incubator and breed ourselves, we will let Broody Betty the Bantam Hen do all the work. If she has success of one or two birds a year then I will be happy with that. A slow growth rate to add to the flock. Manageable. I might buy a heat lamp just in case we have any last minute change-of-hearts though, because I worry that with giving Betty several different eggs to sit on she may some day get annoyed that none of them are actually 'hers'.

That being said, I think that Betty will be fine.  You see she is a very young hen. This is her first hatch-ling. She has not even laid an egg of her own yet, and has mothered the child of another. When the baby arrived last week we saw the testy males get into a slinging match over 'who da baby Daddy' is, and truth be told, they have not stopped bitching since. We are at the point now where we will be building a new fence (using old poles from a tent and some chicken wire) to keep the 'Lads' separated. A baby is a baby guys. It wants and needs for the same thing, no matter who's it is, or where it has come from. 


The other two female hens have turned out to be total cows also. So 'The Simpsons' (Bart/Rooster; Maggie/Lisa - the hens) seem to be showing signs of intolerance when it come to accepting new life. More than a few times I have witnessed the two hens trying to peck the life out of the little guy (remaining nameless until we know the sex). Thankfully, Betty (only 1/3 the size of the bigger girls) is one stellar Mum. She chases them away like a fire breathing dragon would and takes a shrill tone with them if they come within 3 feet of her nest. 

We, here on the WiseFarm, do not tolerate, well, intolerance. It is safe to say that we all come from entirely different backgrounds, are of many (or no) religions and are colourblind to what you may look like on the outside and only really care about who you are inside. Separating the hens might be a short term solution as you cannot expect chickens to learn our family ethos, but we will be introducing a few Guinea Fowl to the flock later in the summer. They are apparently great mediators and may help reunite the flock.

Stay tuned because the next posting might just be chicken soup for the soulless Rooster!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


Sunday, June 27, 2010

One man's trash is another man's treasure

My Mother is a pack rat and I married a pack rat. I, am NOT a pack rat. Over the last few weeks it has finally dawned on me that being a pack rat is not the worst thing in the world as long as you keep recycling the hoarded items for new use. You are actually doing the earth a service by not disposing of what might be deemed by others as RUBBISH . This is where my husband and Mother are shining stars.

If you are planning on opening your home up to a few extra kids be it biologically or via any other (legal) ways, the one thing your should prepare yourself for is the onslaught of MORE WASTE. Here are Chez Wise when it was just the 'fantastic four' of us I had the weekly shopping down to a science and had plenty of time to browse around the markets and buy package free foodstuffs. 

In case you did not get the memo I HATE PACKAGING. You know what I am talking about - the plastic trays that most chickens are packed in, or the excessive amount of plastic packaging used for berries and other fruits. Buying loose produce, bringing my own bags to the shops and markets helps a lot and even the friendly butchers have started wrapping the meat in butcher paper only and holding back on suffocating it all in plastic.

You have to pay to have your waste removed in Ireland. Here in Galway the annual fee (depending on where you live) for waste removal is €288.00. That is a twice monthly removal of what we call general rubbish and all recyclables (plastic/aluminium/paper/cardboard) with the exception of glass. which we have to haul that the the bottle banks ourselves.  

You do have the option however of just buying the right colour bag (blue €2.50 for plastic/green €5.00 for rubbish) and literally pay as you 'dump'. Last year we spent less than €115.00 in waste removal fees thanks to careful shopping and the fact that my thrifty husband knows his TRASH.

Enter into the picture several little kiddies that do not know anything about the systems in place at our house and before you know it there are banana peels festering in the rubbish bags, and soiled nappies and glass bottles outside in the compost pile. Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhh! 

I can't be mad with the children. It is not there fault that they were not taught the difference between organic waste and aluminium cans. I get that. What I do not get (and will not tolerate) is that littering seems to be a well practiced trend with the newbies - that is until the litter patrol twins pipe up.

Although we appear to always blather on (ok, just me with the blathering on) about eating healthy food etc. it is not unheard of for a child to have the occasional bag of Tayto or chocolate bar around here. Only a day or two into our time with all these lassies running loose in our house Jack declared (in horror) that one of the ladies had just 'littered' in our back garden. Sure enough the offender had just tossed aside a wrapper from her treat as if a litter fairy would swoop in later and place it in the rubbish bin for her.

It was more like the Trash Troll that made an appearance. I can state, at this time, that it may be a little confusing for the newbies to try to figure out where each item should go. I mean, lets face it, we have organic waste going out to the compost pile, plastic and aluminium going into a blue bag, general rubbish going into the trash can - and somewhere around all this we squeeze in paper and cardboard. So, now they just stand in the general area and ask where it should go.

I caught a glimpse of one of the younger ones munching on a banana yesterday and toddling over to the compost pile where a hungry hen was waiting to feast on whatever she was willing to share. 

It has only been a  few weeks and the two and a half year old gets it. Not so difficult methinks then, for the rest of the world to get on board. 

Now, back to being a busy Mum and plan a little better so I can keep our waste at a minimum.

Enjoy what is left of your weekend!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


Friday, June 25, 2010

A recap in which came first, the Chicken or the DUCK??

If you have nothing better for doing, you should click on the photo above and view it in a larger window. I know it is not my finest piece when it comes to taking photos . The lighting is not flattering to the mother or child, but it is our first baby.

Just less than a month ago we found 'Broody Betty' at a poultry fair near our home. She is the tiniest little ting, no bigger than a pigeon. BUT this is what her breed is famous for. Broodiness that is. 

All she wants to do is sit on eggs for periods of time and pop out feathery flocks for us to fawn over. We sat her on three eggs. Her being the size of a pigeon we had to be selective. We choose a laying egg duck and 2 Muscovy Duck eggs. We hope to breed meat birds so a succulent duck breast might appear more frequently on the 'Chez Wise plat do jour'. 

I am not going to bore y'all to death with this story. We placed the eggs under our little 'Broody Betty' and lust shy of 23 days later we have our first appearance of a little black baby duckling. He is the cutest little thing and eating like a champ. In true Wisefashion she has not snubbed him for 'being different or in this case not a chick' and has embraced her little 'adopted' baby as one of her own. (yes, I am proud).

Our rowdy Rooster Bart and the Horny Henry the Drake acted out what seemed like a whole episode of a Jerry Springer show earlier today as the new downy duckling joined the feathery flock here in the Wonderful Wise World.

Although I was on the school run picking up my crumb catcher and missed the whole show I assume it went something like this:

Bart the Rowdy Rooster:
Eyeing up his 'new wife' Betty, noticed the new life peeping out from under her fluffed feathers.
He sauntered over all proud and with great posture hoping the world would see what he had produced.

Horny Henry:
Might have heard a peeping that sounded nothing like a new summer chick but more like the squeak of a wee ducky embracing life.

So, Henry and Bart get into it. Henry points out that Bart (being a Rooster) cannot lay claim the the downy duckling because - well, it's a duck. Henry, being the proud Rooster that he is decides to peck the life out of Henry and by the time I arrive I am left holding on to a defenseless drake covered in blood.

It was a massacre. The children were all running around the garden trying to catch the rabbit that had to get away from it all. Henry the Drake refuses to 'let it go' and seems like he wants to fight to the death.

Bart the Rooster is acting submissive now and I believe is just waiting for the paternity test to see if he should push the issue.

I about had a cow this afternoon. I was so so so so so stressed when I saw my blood spattered Drake. I did what most women would do. I called my Mammy. She dropped everything and raced over. (thank you Mum).

She reassured me that the Drake was fine and would recover just fine and she gave our newest little feathery family member plenty of 'ooohing' and 'aaaaahhhing' so I was able to relax for the evening and enjoy the start of what I hope will be a fruitful weekend! Two more eggs should hatch tomorrow!

The Ducks and Hens are sleeping separated tonight and we will try to re-acclimatise the tomorrow in the hopes that they can get over their snit.

Now, all I should have to worry about is convincing my little ducky to take a swim when I know his Mum (a hen) will think he is going to drown.

11:35pm here in Galway, Ireland and we have just seen daylight let go of it's grasp for the day!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for this evening.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marbles Lost

Well, it is official folks. I might have just lost my marbles. For the last three weeks the house has been taken over by girls. Three little Polish girls and two little Galway girls. Girls, Girls, Girls. Of course Jack and Ron are here too, but only a little blip on the radar.

The three little Polish girls that have come to stay with us for the month of June go back to their full-time foster family next week but before they do, we have arranged a visit with their little brother who is only ten months old. Seven kids under one roof should be enough. Throwing a toddler into the mix for a few hours is barely noticeable at this stage of the game.

Next week, life will return to normal. Whatever normal is of course. At this point, normal looks like the two little Galway girls will be staying for the rest of summer (at least) and in less than two weeks my Sister and her hubby arrive (from France) with their four children. 

The lessons I have learned over the last three weeks are of great value to me, to my husband, to my friends and to my family. If I drink too much coffee I am a beeatch! So, less caffeine intake has given me a calmer attitude when trying to harang these fiesty females. 

First order of business was to beg one of my friends (Becca from Waterford) to come hang out with us for a few weeks to help. My handsome hubby (and I) decided it would be better if he stayed at work during this stint of craziness so that he could reserve his time to spend with my Sisters family when they come.

Living with a lot of little ladies (ages 4 to 9) we have come to the conclusion that 'we are all the same'. Although they all come from very very different backgrounds they obsess over the exact same things:

  1. Clothes
  2. Shoes
  3. Boys
  4. Hair 

Thankfully, the weather has been so warm and sunny that bathing suits, shorts and towels are the most used outfits. 

A 'we share everything 'cept underwear ' policy was instituted and accepted early on in the game (thanks to my little Rory-Belle) and that made getting dressed each day a hell of a lot easier.

The food side of things has gone swimmingly and I hope to report in more detail on this as soon as I get a few minutes to 'menu' blog. 

Peer pressure reared its ugly head in a positive manner and in a way it is comforting to see that 'monkey see, monkey do' when it comes to eating salad and veggies. However, as much as we were all thrilled to see how successful this was I cautioned the chef by fast forwarding him to five years from now when one of them brings home a pack of Marlboro Lights and offers a cigarette to the gaggle of girls. .......... be still my thumping heart and just enjoy them while they are young and less hormonally charged.

There is nothing easy about taking  a plethora of additional children into your home and life be it short term or longterm. Rules and routines that you might have instituted for your own children have to be taught and enforced in order to keep things running smoothly. But what I have learned is that kids need other kids. Even when they have been at their meanest (and believe me 'spitting venom' does not come close to describing it) they still have made an incredible bond that very likely will last a lifetime.

Remember to check your judgmental attitude at the door and realize that they are just 'kids' is all that is important. 

Now, back to the searching for all those missing marbles.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for this (already very hot) Father's Day morning!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Black Magic Birthday Cake for Breakfast

Just shy of seven years ago, we finished the final scrap of paperwork to adopt a baby whilst living in America. It took six months of paperwork, 12 weeks of 'adoption classes' and an untold amount of hours spent answering all the questions the social workers had for us. They delved deep into our relationship and gave us good reason to feel many twangs of jealousy to all those Mum's and Dad's out there that can just pop one out!

On June 17th, 2003 I met with the social workers for one last 'signing' and handed over the last piece of paperwork. The standard wait time for local or foreign adoption in America (at the time) was three to five years. This seemed like a life-time of course, but fit nicely into our life-planning as we were in the throes of stripping wall paper and knocking walls in an old building we had purchased earlier that year and were planning on opening our first Restaurant 'Rondo's' later that year. 

Seven years later (ironically) we have seven children in our care. If you look closely you will count nine, but thankfully two of the above were just tagging along for a picnic. 

The same day we finalised all that paperwork we decided to tell our bosses about our 'family plans' and the local newspaper leaked a story about a local chef planning to open up a new restaurant in the Autumn.
We got a phone call on from our social worker that afternoon letting us know there was a little baby girl just five days old and the birth-mother wanted to meet us in person because we seemed like the 'right couple'. I stuck to my 5 year plan and let her know that the restaurant was opening in a few months and it takes 3 years to get a business 'up and running' so we would pass. 

What I did not know at the time is that the Chef had received a similar phone call and had told the social workers we would 'take her' and the rest my dear readers is 'HIStory'.................

Ron lost his job the following week (due to the fact that the media were focusing a lot of coverage/free advertising on our new restaurant and not the one he had been working at)  and within a month we had a little bundle sleeping in a bassinet by the bed. Again, I was stressed over not having at least 'nine months' to get ready for this little surprise. 

So that year we had 'Twins'. He got the restaurant and I got the girl. Of course (as many of your know) we had it all. Including the nursery built into the restaurant and a Granny with eager wings flitting back and forth from Ireland to help ease us into the world of 'child rearing'. 

Although our first-born and the first grandchild (on my side) she has been jolted of her post by two older girls entering into the picture this summer. Fear not, she still rules her roost. Rory is very much the apple of her Daddy's eye and most likely will end up being a vet someday because of her love for animals. I would say she could end up being an animal rights activist too except for the fact that she loves to eat meat! In saying that, she is a bit of a food snob too and can identify most of the ingredients in just about everything the Chef prepares!

Her request for the same birthday cake (every-year) might sound a little boring to many, but to a few of you out there, it sounds only divine. For many years (more than he would ever admit to) the Chef has been making and baking 'Black Magic'. A rich dark chocolate batter cake. The cake soaked in espresso, then chocolate whipped cream in the middle and a smothering of warm chocolate ganache to finish it off. He strayed from the tried and tested version for his girl and stuck on 'PINK Smarties' to jazz it up. Not a crumb left on the plate!

The thing we have noticed the most about our little Rory Belle is that she is growing up fast. She is mad into music and was the happy recipient of a teeny tiny MP3 player that fit snugly into her new iDog. Now, she really is 'TopDog' in the Wanderly-Wise-Wagon when we go on road trips and thankfully we can barely hear the commotion in the back as the Disney tunes and lady Gaga songs are shared with the other rebel rouser's.

These summer months have given us so much to be thankful for. I do not think the Chef and I ever thought we could fill our home with such happy squeals. With a friend of mine from College (Becca) here to help us through a crazy month of kiddies, we have almost reached capacity at the Wise homestead, but for anyone out there thinking about coming to visit, we still have a very comfy pull out couch that has not seen the light of day!

Those are all the WiseWords I have this morning, as we head of to Connemara to a Slow Food Fish BBQ on the beach!


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Welcome to the Hotel California, Such a lovely place...

It kind of feels like a hotel around here and I am settled nicely back into my roles of 'Hostess with the Mostest' and 'Dish-Bitch'. Summer is well under way here on the lovely Irish Isle and we are getting a lot of sun to go along with the season. For three weeks now we have had 2 little Irish girls living with us, and by the looks of things they may be with us for the rest of the summer. Overnight my 'Terrible Two' transformed into the 'Fantastic Four' and there is no going back. Jack and the Chef being heavily outnumbered by all the girls in the house are having a few 'manly' issues but for the most part, everyone is nicely settled.

Although local little lassies adapting to the food culture environment at the Wisehousehold  seemed like a lot to ask. For the most part the first 24 hours saw requests demands for lots of 'chips, sausages, ham sandwiches, coke, biscuits etc.'. Due to the situation the children had been removed from, we took everyone for ice-cream on the first day, to sooth away some stress and help everyone settle in for the evening.

'Militant Móna' made her appearance the next day explaining that all the food we eat at our house is healthy and actually tastes good. Thankfully my 'trusty two' backed up my statements and gave the newbies a tour of the polytunnel and even let the kids pick their own carrots for a lunch-box snack. 

A few more boundaries and enticements laid down for the first week (after dinner treat for those that eat their meals) and we sat back and waited to see how things progressed. There were a few tantrums and early bedtimes for one child, but by day three both of the newbies were 'peer pressured' into sitting at the table and eating with gusto  - just because that is what everyone else was doing.

The thing that worries me about this situation is that it shows me how easy it is for children to be 'peer pressured' into doing anything, just because they want to fit in. Now, in this case, getting them to eat a few veggies is not a bad outcome, but add ten years to the gang and see one arrive home to the playhouse out back with a box of Marlboro lights. The tables have turned.

The other thing that bothers me, no, actually makes me mad, is the fact that soooooo many parents (even friends of ours) spend a large portion of their lives complaining about their (own) children's terrible eating habits. 

Here is a few little Wisetips for those of you raising children that are fussy little eaters.

1. If you buy crap food for them and place it infront of them, they will eat it.
2. If you-yourself eat a healthy balanced diet every day, then so will your children.
3. If you think that you child will starve to death because they will not eat what you have prepared for them, relax. (a) They will not starve and (b) by the time morning rolls around they will actually be hungry.

Enter into our crazy equation three more little girls (thankfully all in the same age range). These three have been spending weekends with us (off and on) since February and are well used to the routine around here. Oddly enough one of them came with a long list of things she does not 'eat' anymore and her foster Mum cautioned me that she also liked a chocolate sandwich at bedtime because she usually did not eat/finish/like her dinner.  I assured the Mum that this would not be a problem and when she returns home to her in three weeks these eating issues will be a distant memory.

Rules explained at lunchtime yesterday, plates cleared, seconds asked for and eaten. Treats dispersed, bedtime stories and all tucked in, asleep  and happy with very full bellies by 8pm on a Saturday night.

Yesterday was my first day having seven kids under my roof. I am sure it will not be roses in the garden every day, but it is clear that children crave boundaries and routine. The environment from which these kids have come from had nothing of the sort, and amazingly after just a few days - it is what they thrive on.

OH - and just in-case you think  I am doing this alone, my handsome hubby is hanging right beside me, fixing brakes on bikes, teaching the newbies how to 'weed and grow', teaching the older ones how to collect the eggs every day, teaching the little ones how to ride the big girl bikes. In general just doing all the Dad stuff.

My kids eat everything. What do yours eat?

Those are all the WiseWords I have for this stunning Sunday morning,


Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain