Saturday, May 17, 2014
So, today was the last day of this first prepping challenge over at Judy's blog. We had to go an entire week without buying/eating anything that we didn't already have at home. It was fun, even though we were far from perfect. Especially today.
Today... Well, today, we totally blew it. This was the big day for my Little Miss. She had her first ever baton recital. She's been working on her twirling since January, and she seems to love it. On the way home she was making plans for next year's lessons. :)
The morning started out with a trip to the store for white shoes. I had read the note they gave us on uniforms a few weeks ago. But, I apparently didn't remember anything about it. I dug it up late last night to double check times, and- OOPS! I totally forgot about the shoes! So, off we went. :( It was a quick trip, but sadly, we grabbed a box of doughnuts on the way to the check-out. And, maybe a soda... :/
The rest of the day was fine, right up until after the show. My parents came down to see Little Miss twirl, and my sweet Daddy took us out for dinner and ice cream after. To her very favorite restaurant of all time, no less. :) It was very yummy.
So, we blew it today. And a few other times this week. Oh, well. It happens. I'm noticing it happening a lot, actually. More often than I thought it did, really...
This was an abnormally busy week for us. We seemed to be running here, there, and everywhere all week. That's something that I usually try to avoid, but with Little Miss growing up and getting lots of outside the house activities and friends, I suppose this is going to be our new normal. The summer is already filling up with more running here and there. :) In spite of the running around, we did okay with the food- mostly. Which is a good thing. One of the things I've noticed recently is a very bad habit of swinging through drive-thru places nearly every time we go out. I've been trying to reign in that habit, and hopefully this week has helped with that. Although I'm still very tempted sometimes, and I still am hearing frequent demands/whining/pouting from the backseat over it. Hopefully, it will get a little easier to resist every time until we just never consider it. That's something we will continue to work on this summer.
Also this week, I've noticed how frequently we are forgetting to put something on the grocery list. And the "we thought we had it, but now we can't find it, we need it now, go get it" mindset has become very frequent during the last year. (Which is how long my pantry has been so pitiful. It used to be better.) But, this week I have managed to sort through and inventory what we have, start working on a list of things I need to stock up on, and I've been reminded of how very fast we can go through some milk (and other items) in this house. So, that's good.
I used to only go grocery shopping one day a week (because I hate it- especially when I have to drag two very reluctant and uncooperative little ones along). But during this school year, I've slacked up. I started going a couple of times a week, while Little Miss was at school. Suddenly only having one baby to drag around again made it easier, so I guess I just wasn't as worried about having to go out again. I want that to stop. I read stories on the internet about ladies who only grocery shop once a month, and I practically turn green with envy. Someday, I want a pantry that lets me do that. I think that's my goal. (I sort of dread to see the bill for that one shopping trip, but I still don't want to have to shop more often than that if it's possible. It sounds lovely, doesn't it?) So, that is definitely something I need to work on more. One trip per week.
Overall, this little challenge made us stop and notice some of these bad habits we've fallen into. And that's a good thing. It made us once again notice exactly how much food and other items we use every day, and how much we depend on those things to be there. And it reminded me of how great it was to have that little grocery buffer here when we needed it last year. This challenge gave me the little kick in the rear that I needed to get up and start rebuilding that buffer for the next time we need it to fall back on. With my husband's line of work, these little shortages can happen at any time, usually when they are least welcome. Having that food here in the house and saving us the cost of buying food when money is so short is a pretty important thing to have. It's probably the most immediately useful insurance we can have. And I need to get it together and get our buffer built back up. For next time.
Someday, we'll have our farm. We'll have our gardens, and our cows, etc. And that's a great thing to plan for. But for now, we will make the best of what we have, save up for a basement fridge, and (hopefully) soon acquire a pressure canner (and the nerve to use it). After we manage to spring for a new heat pump, that is. And I will slowly build up my little stash of insurance in my pantry. Just in case things get a little bumpy again on the road to our future. And, thank you again, Judy, for this challenge. I needed it.
I can't wait to find out what next month's challenge will be. :)
Friday, May 16, 2014
So, here we are, at day 5 of Judy's prepping challenge.
Today, we did pretty well. For a change. Everyone except my poor husband ate and drank nothing but foods/drinks we already had at home. And he really didn't have much choice in the matter, poor thing. He had to get on a plane this afternoon, so he grabbed some airport food during a layover. :( Poor baby.
We actually had a pretty boring day here. Mostly we just stayed at home and tried to stay warm and dry. There've been intermittent storms most of the afternoon, and last night was the coldest we've had for weeks. Tonight is supposed to be colder. :( I hope the garden will be alright- it isn't supposed to actually freeze...
Tomorrow is a busy, busy day for us. Lots of running around. We were going to go to the farmer's market (if it's warm enough) but I just found out that Little Miss needs white tennis shoes by tomorrow afternoon. Which, of course, she does not own. So, we will be going out to get those before our company arrives and before we all have to be at the show. Little Miss is having her first ever baton recital tomorrow. Not sure if there will ever be any more, but I guess she doesn't have to decide just yet. :)
We missed story time at the library this morning. (Probably something to do with Baby Girl waking us up at 5am...) But we had to go return books, so we did make it up there this afternoon. We signed her up for her first summer reading program. It sounds like it will be fun. This year's theme is apparently science? And they seem to have several activities scheduled.
And that was our day. Hopefully, the chickens have decided to go inside now. They're the last hold outs. Everyone else is already tucked in. I'm off to lock them up for the night, and then I'm climbing in bed, too...
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Today is day 4 of Judy's prepping challenge. This is the first of (I hope) many, or at least several challenges that are meant to get us thinking about our families and how we would take care of them in an emergency situation. That emergency could be anything from tornadoes and hurricanes to power outages or being out of work for an extended period. I urge everyone out there to take a few minutes to think about that sort of thing, and decide what you could do to make it a bit less terrible for you and your families.
This first challenge was meant to be easy. I think it was simply intended to get us noticing and thinking about how much food and other items we rely on to be available to us on a daily and weekly basis. What I've found out is that I've gotten into several habits lately that are making it harder than it should be to stay away from stores. And restaurants- although, for this week, I'm doing great there. I have successfully resisted temptation.
Food-wise, today, we did reasonably well. Mostly. Leftovers or items from our kitchen pantry were eaten by everyone. My husband even got energetic and made bread (which we would normally do, but lately, we've been slacking bad in that department). Unfortunately, he didn't make the bread until after I got back from the local Stuff-mart. Where I went to get some laundry soap ingredients and that gallon of milk we needed. And I did get those items, plus a few more. Unfortunately, I also bought some breadsticks to have with the leftover lasagna. :( I know. I shouldn't have. But I did. (And, the lasagna was much better with something to sop up the meat sauce with.)
So, avoiding stores didn't work out for me today. Also, I spent the afternoon straightening up and taking an inventory of my pantry. It was much barer than I thought it was. Turns out that the laundry soap ingredients aren't the only things that have been used without anyone bothering to let me know that they should be added to the grocery list. I still have a lot of work to do down there to get it looking like it used to, but at least I know what's there and what's missing, now... (And, as mentioned previously, we did live out of that pantry for most of last summer. I guess it isn't surprising that it still needs a lot of work to put it back to rights. We were grateful for it then, and we still are now. I definitely want to get it back up to snuff before the next time my husband is out of work for a while...)
On the plus side of things, this challenge has gotten me up and moving in the right direction. I have an up-to-date inventory, which means I can make a list of what needs replacing and in what order of importance. And for that, I have to say a big "thank you" to Judy. I guess I needed the motivation. :)
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
It's day 3 of Judy's prepping challenge! How's everybody else doing with their week of eating only from home? I'm guessing most people are doing better than we have been averaging. This is a very busy (abnormally so) week for us. I knew it would be busy, and I figured on skipping the entire challenge week. But, then, she announced what sounded like such an easy task, and I decided we would go for it anyway...
It's starting to look like we aren't doing so great. Only average. I suspect that we would be doing better if it wasn't the last official week of school, with all those activities. And if my husband wasn't due to leave for work in two days. He's trying to cram in all his activities this week before he goes. Which means running up to the farm several times (he's talking about maybe going again tomorrow), not to mention several trips to the co-op for saw parts... We aren't eating out at restaurants, but I can't help thinking that we aren't exactly following the rules.
I suppose that's alright. Ish. As I think I mentioned before, I get the feeling that this first challenge is more to get us noticing what we use on a daily/regular basis. And I have definitely been taking note. And then taking more notes. I've started an inventory of what remains of my pitiful little pantry, and I'm trying to put it back into some semblance of the order I originally had it in. I expect that to take a few days.
So, on to the days' summary: Breakfast was good. Everybody but me snacked on whatever was in the kitchen. (I didn't eat breakfast this morning. I meant to, but time got away from me.) Lunch was the school picnic. We took a plate of cookies, other people brought drinks and things, and the school fed us pizzas. We've spent the last couple of days defrosting a big ole lasagna, so that's what we ate for supper. Yum! Plenty left for dinner tomorrow, too. All snacks came from the pantry closet.
That was pretty much our day. We let the ducklings swim for a few minutes, for the first time, this evening. The chickens roamed around freely in the backyard for a bit while we weeded the garden beds. But, then they tried to wander over to the neighboring yards, so my husband sent them back to chicken jail (their coop run). Oh, and the bunny who lives somewhere nearby ate one of my berry plants this morning. :( Wasn't happy about that. They were already pitiful looking. I don't think they liked the transplanting much. Michael put cages around the poor little things. Hopefully it will come back and the other two won't be devoured. I was liking having the little bunny visit- right up until he did that. Something got into our strawberries again too. Not sure if it was the bunny or squirrels, though...
On the plus side, most of the weeds are gone. For now. We found several volunteer tomatoes (at least, I think that's what they are) sprouting up in between a few of our plants. I left a couple alone. We'll see if they grow. The peas have finally bloomed- YAY! I'm excited. I've been waiting for that. And one of our cucumbers has a single little blossom. Hopefully, those are just the beginnings.
So that's it for our third day. See you tomorrow. :)
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
My husband pointed out, not long ago, that he's pretty sure certain of my relatives think I'm insane for suddenly wanting to be better prepared for emergencies. So, I thought I'd briefly talk about it. Maybe I can convince the doubters that I'm not completely crazy. Yet. :) (To be fair to them, I think a certain amount of crazy does tend to run in my family. And the baby hormones certainly made me feel like I was crazy for a goodly amount of that nine months.) Here we go.
Here are the most important (and adorable) reasons in the world for wanting to be prepared for the unexpected:
First, we have Baby Girl.
And here we have Little Miss.
To further clarify: I am not now, nor have I ever (except possibly during a brief period in which baby hormones were flooding through my entire system and screwing up everything), wanted or planned to be a "doomsday" prepper preparing for any zombie apocalypse. Mostly because zombies suck. ;) (I'm sorry, I know some people adore that kind of movie monster. More power to you. They just don't do anything for me. Good zombie stories are very, very rare, in my opinion. I can actually only name two that I liked.)
The emergencies I'm much more concerned about are the more common ones: my husband being out of work for an extended period (it happens, usually when we can least afford it), the power going out (for more than the usual hour or two- happened not long ago to a lot of my family back home. No power for over a week!), heavy snow that keeps me from getting to the store, etc... You know, "normal", much more common than anyone wants to think about sort of emergencies. Also, with this area we're in now, for the first time in my life, I truly, seriously, have to worry about tornadoes. Apparently weather patterns are changing everywhere, and they're much more common, even back home, than they used to be. (I hate that. Tornadoes freak me out.)
So, I've been working on trying to acquire basic supplies to have on hand for these types of things. At one point last year, I had a pretty good pantry going. And then my husband wasn't making as much money as normal, which lasted for a couple of months. We ended up eating a lot of my stored up food, and were grateful for it. It helped a lot. Of course, as a result of that, my little stash is greatly depleted now, and I'm having to try to squirrel away an extra can or two every time I go to the store. I think I read a while back that the government recommends you have a minimum of three days worth of supplies on hand, and they suggested that three weeks was even better. (I can't find that page now.) I don't have near enough now for that recommended three weeks, and what is left is very disorganized. I think we could manage two to three days, but that's about it. (This is one of the reasons I cheated and ran to the grocery store on Sunday.)
What this mostly means is: 1) I'm trying to keep an eye out for sales on things we use most often. When I find a good price on something (even, occasionally, when it isn't as good as a sale price might be) that I'm shopping for, I might grab an extra to put back. 2)We enlarged our garden space this year, and hopefully, we will get a good amount of (cheapish, but healthy and nutritious) veggies from it, in spite of my "black thumb". The radishes and microgreens are already doing great, and the lettuce looks nearly ready, so I'm hopeful even though none of the rest of it seems to be doing much yet. I attempted canning for the first time last year and I want to do more. 3)We finally broke down and got the chickens he wanted to get last year. For reasons. (I'm on the lookout for lots of new egg recipes that we will hopefully need in a couple of months or so.)
4)I'm trying to get cleaned out and organized downstairs. (Truthfully, I've been trying to do that for nearly a year. Somehow it just seems to be getting worse...) I want everything in one space (and preferably labeled clearly) so I can find it all quickly when it's required. Also, so I can tell what I already have, what I need to buy, and which ones we need to use first. I used to have a system, but then I got quite a bit of "help", so it needs sorting out again.
Anyway. That's really as far as I've gotten. I'll do a tiny bit more every day until I feel like I can take care of my girls, no matter what. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll be so well prepared that I could handle a sudden influx of zombies. But, if it's all the same to you, I think I'm happy keeping the zombies in books and movies. ;)
I suppose for most of my life, I've been one of those who just took for granted that things would be the same as they were yesterday. I never worried about where our food would come from, or if the electricity would stay on. I thought the panic over Y2K was ridiculous and rolled my eyes at some of the more outrageous things some people were doing. (I still think some of those things were just too extreme, truthfully.) But then, all at once, I had helpless little people depending on me for everything. And suddenly, things were different. Lately, I've realized just how many people don't know how/aren't prepared to take care of themselves if anything happens that might be out of the ordinary. That's scary. And I don't want to be one of that group. Not when others are counting on me to take care of them.
I think what we'll end up with when my husband and I get through with this path (or at least, farther along it) is very similar to what everyone used to do. We will be more responsible for our food, where it comes from, how it got there. We will be thinking ahead, rather than just going day by day. (So, I guess, to put it simply, we'll be farmers. And I'm surprisingly okay with that. Plus, I've always suspected that that might be my husband's life goal.)
Once upon a time, everyone had a little garden, or a few chickens. Everyone canned or put up food in some way for the winter. Food wasn't shipped in from the other side of the world every day, and everyone had to plan ahead. I grew up watching my grandparents plant a garden every year, and occasionally helping. I watched my grandmother can the fruits of their labor. (The pressure canner was creepy, but I loved the sound of the jar lids popping.) I'm not sure either of them really thought much about it until they got to where they just couldn't do it anymore. It was just how they were raised. Sometimes (especially lately, because I've been reading way too many books), I wonder if the way we do things now is actually an improvement... Anyway! I'll quit rambling. It's past my bedtime. ;)
I like this first challenge because I think it's perfectly designed to make us stop and think about what we use everyday- things that we would normally take for granted and never notice until it was gone. Already, I've noticed that my stash of toilet paper is dangerously low, for instance. ;) I'm looking forward to the rest of the week, and to the rest of the challenges.
I guess that brings us back around to the original point of this post. Judy's prepping challenge, day two.
Today was good. For me, anyway. I managed to resist temptation. Even though I really, really wanted to cheat a little bit. Michael packed up the girls and went to visit his grandparents on the farm. I stayed home to take care of things around the house. I had cookies to bake for the end of year preschool picnic tomorrow, and a few errands to run. Those errands took me super close to a favorite restaurant of mine. But I resisted. Barely.
My husband reports that they did pretty well today, too. They did eat while they were up at the farm, of course, but no drinks or fast food or anything was purchased on the trip to and from. In spite of a certain Little Miss trying to beg for it. She seems to be okay with our "game". So far. I sort of expect she'll demand a happy meal or something by Sunday, though. :( As a prize for winning the game... (Yuck.)
Overall, we've done alright so far. I guess our grade for today is about a B+ (because I was super tempted. But I resisted, anyway).
Tomorrow is the preschool picnic. They'll be serving us carryout pizza. But we're taking cookies to share. Maybe that will even things out? :)
So, yesterday was the first day of the challenge over at Patchwork Times, and I suppose we did okay. To the best of my knowledge, no one went out snacking. Of course, he isn't the one who tends to do that. So, I suppose I should be saying I did not go out snacking and neither did the girls. For a first day, everything went reasonably well. Although...
Two things. First off, when we went grocery shopping on Sunday, my husband and I had a little debate over how much milk to buy. We had nearly an entire gallon in the fridge already, so he only wanted to get one because "there's nowhere to put it!" (Which was totally true and I knew it.) But, I wanted to get two because we will need that second gallon before the end of the week.
We were both right. We ended up only getting one, because there really was no way three gallons of milk were gonna fit into that fridge. But even as early as yesterday morning, he was already saying we should've gotten the other one... So, we know right away that before Saturday, we will be back at the store for milk. :(
The second thing was food for the critters. I'm not even worried about that fish of hers. If that thing lives long enough to eat all the food in that container, I will be shocked. They sell lifetime supplies of beta food in those jars. So, he's fine. But, for the birds...
I thought we had a whole unopened bag down there for the chickens. (I think the ducks are set for their food. Hopefully, they won't prove me wrong.) But it turns out that they had finished off the bag entirely and already gotten halfway through the one I just bought. Since the co-op is closed on Sundays, we had to go yesterday to get them a bag that will last the rest of the week. :( I hope.
I guess if I had to give us a grade for Monday's performance, I would maybe give us a C. We were only average in starting this challenge, and already two things that we've noticed need work. Not sure how to fix the fridge problem. There are other things in line ahead of a new fridge, although we have both been wanting a second one downstairs for various reasons. Maybe someday. As for the birds' food, that's something I need to work on. I've never had animals before, so this is an adjustment for me. As soon as I can get some better storage for their food (hopefully no later than the end of next week), I'll be able to start storing more than one bag of food at a time. Of course, once they finish growing, I'll be able to better estimate their food usage and needs, too, so there's that adjustment for me to make, too. But, I'm learning and we'll all figure it out together. :)
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
In other news, yesterday our Little Miss had her graduation program at the preschool she attends. Or, maybe that should be "attended." They still have two makeup days next week because of all the missed days this winter, but officially, school is over.
We're very proud of her. She made it through the entire year with all green lights every day (which is how their discipline system for class behavior is graded) and she was one of only three children in the entire daycare who had perfect attendance. (I love that she's holding her certificates upside down here. I think that's just adorable.)
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Hey, everybody! I know. Two posts in one day?! Don't worry, it won't become a habit or anything. I just wanted to let you know about a great little thing going on this week. Judy over at Patchwork Times (one of my favorite blogs) is having a prepping challenge, with the first challenge taking place this coming week. You might notice the new button over on my sidebar.
This sounds like a great chance to take time and think about all of the unexpected things that can- and usually do- happen when least expected (or desired!) and make sure we have what we need to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in the event of an emergency of an sort.
We have a super busy week ahead of us here, but the first challenge seems to be reasonably easy, so I think we're gonna try it. We simply have to eat all of our food (and drinks) from home, starting tomorrow morning. Simple enough, right? (We totally cheated, and stocked up the fridge at the grocery store this morning. Just so you know.) Come join us, and everybody at Judy's blog, and let's take a little time to plan ahead.
First off, I want to apologize for these pictures. There was absolutely no place in the entire house that was big enough to spread this monster out properly.
And it did turn into something of a monster. I originally intended for this quilt to be an extra long lap size. Ish. Or maybe a twin size, at the biggest...
This thing ended up being king sized. Yeah. I know.
But, anyway, at long last, here it is- way past due- the top secret project I've been working on forever.
Finished. YAY!! My poor, poor brother had to wait forever for his quilt. :( I'm so glad he finally has it. And even happier that it isn't sitting here making me feel guilty for not having it done.
My brother loves video games. Since forever. And it all pretty much started with our Atari 2600, many, many, many years ago. Combine that fact with his observations of a quilt at the fair years ago ("it looked like Q-bert's blocks"), and I knew that this was the center of my quilt.
But it needed borders. Q-bert was an Atari game. And the game we played most at our house was Pac-man. (As far as I can remember.) So, I immediately thought of a Pac-Man maze when I started thinking of borders.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
This is our newest batch of critters- our little Easter duckies. They came to live with us on Easter. And they are so cute!
Here they are at two weeks of age. They've all acquired names by now (which is way more than the poor chickens can claim) and they are growing so fast! There have been a couple of mornings when I would be prepared to swear that they doubled in size overnight! I couldn't get a good picture that shows them all individually, but I will attempt introductions anyway...
So, that's our menagerie. No more animals for us. (I will go ahead and ignore the fact that Little Miss has managed to acquire a fish. Not gonna count him. Or the one I'm gonna have to buy in the future for Baby Girl. I just made that rule: Fish do not count.) We have more than enough animals to deal with for now. Any more birds around this place and my sister really will refuse to visit. She's already threatened several times. (She hates birds. Apparently even when they feed her. Not that these have yet, but maybe someday...)
Some things I've learned about ducks so far:
1) They are super duper cute.
2) My daughter doesn't run away from them (yet) calling them "too pokey". So, that's good.
3) These little cuties STINK!!!! Seriously. I think it must have something to do with splashing all of their water everywhere and marinating the humongous poops they're capable of. (Not even kidding. At one week of age, these little guys were dropping bigger poops than the chickens do now!) Needless to say, feathers or not, these babies got kicked out of my house! They still have a nice warm brooder, but it now resides in their duck house, not my house.
4) Their feathers take a lot longer to come in than the chickens did. Still none yet.
5) The ducks are afraid of water. Hope that changes soon. It's just sorta weird.
6) Maybe it's because they're only babies, but they freak out over everything. I was told that ducks would be calmer and friendlier than the chickens, but so far, not really. They still run to the other side of their brooder/yard/wherever when they see us coming. Even if we have treats in hand. To be fair, the chickens do the same thing...
So, we're busy around here. With the birds, the kids, the fish, and the gardens. [Which will hopefully turn out all right. I have a black thumb when it comes to plants. I have problems keeping a cactus alive, so... On the plus side, we have gotten a few radishes harvested already, and the microgreens are more than ready to be eaten (those that the resident squirrels haven't eaten), so that's encouraging.] I still haven't managed to get any crafty type things done around here, but I do have a few pictures to put up at some point in the next few days.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
So, I mentioned that there had been a lot going on this spring at our house... Here are a couple of shots of one of the many reasons we've been hopping...
Aren't they just the cutest little fluff-balls you've ever seen? Here's one more shot of them.
At first, Little Miss was super duper excited about getting chicks. She agreed to pet one of them.
But, when we tried to convince her to hold one, she refused. She claimed that they're "too pokey". I assume that means she was afraid of being scratched by toenails... In all fairness, they do tend to scratch a bit. But it isn't just the chicks. She doesn't like to touch/handle many animals at all, usually. (She did surprise me at the zoo, though. After passing up the chance to pet several other critters, she jumped at the chance to pet the Asian Leopard Cat...)
Baby Girl, on the other hand, is super mad at us for not allowing her to grab every little bird she sees. But since we'd like to keep all ten of them alive long enough to get some yummy fresh eggs, we've wisely (I think) banned her from all handling of animals this year. And possibly next. I'm sure she'll get her chance to hold plenty of baby chicks in the future. When she's old enough not to squish them...
These are the only pictures we have of the babies being so cute. I blinked and they GREW!! Wow! They grew quick! Before I knew it, they were sprouting feathers (approximately three days after this picture was taken)... I went out of town for a couple of days and when I got back, they had doubled their size!
They are now approximately nine weeks old. And outside. (For a while now, thank goodness! I never saw anybody kick up as much dust as those chicks did in my garage...) I need to get a few new pictures of them now that they're looking like actual chickens, I suppose. Not sure how much bigger they're supposed to get.
So far, none of them have names. We were calling one of them "Gimpy" for a few days (due to a little incident involving her, my husband, and the chicken tractor. An incident which had me web-surfing things like "what color is a chicken's bruise", etc. Apparently, it really is that incredibly gross shade of green...) but now, I can't tell which one of the darker girls she is. I guess that's good. I'm hoping it means she's fully recovered. So, collectively, I've taken to calling them the "stupid girls", for lack of anything else. Because I can't really tell them apart, and because, sometimes, they really are. But, they've finally learned to go inside at night without being chased, and they've finally started using the perch instead of laying on top of the shelf Hubby installed. (Not sure why he did that, really. I think he plans to build the nesting boxes there? He probably better get on that soon...)