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Guatemala Again!

I am all signed up to build another house in Guatemala July 6-12!  I will build with my Aunt and Uncle’s Team Dakota unless . . . a Team Missoula comes together. I wonder . . .

It all started with my Grandma and Grandpa! They gave me a high school graduation gift: go to Guatemala and work! I built a house for a family.  We were called Team Casas: my mom, uncles, aunt and cousins, and some new friends.

Monday morning we packed Brandon’s truck with all our tools; leveled the ground, prepared the foundation and poured cement.

Tuesday the walls went up and we poured the cement for the front porch.

Wednesday we hammered up the siding, put in electric, and worked on the roof. I took some breaks and played games with the children. And I had Spanish Lessons!

Thursday we finished the house and had the Dedication.

Friday we went to Antigua just for fun. I went on a hike with Ron, Kay, my Mom and Uncle Jeff. We also went shopping and ate lunch at McDonalds.

Saturday morning we got up early and went to the airport. When I got home, I knew that I wanted to go to Guatemala again and build another house. I get to go again. I am excited.

Right now the plan is to go with Team Dakota but I want to ask my friends in Missoula if they would like to make a Team Missoula. It costs a lot of money: $8,000 for the house materials. And then each person has to pay $125.00 for room and board for the week; and airfare to Guatemala City: $700-$800 per person.  It is very expensive.

I get to go again because I am using some of my goat money to pay for my trip this summer! I was in FFA my Senior Year and I raised a goat, Kanga. I sold him at the auction for $2,400!!! I paid for my new chicken coop with that money and I used some to go to China and I will use the rest to go to Guatemala again. Newspaper article about the auction at the Fair. 

So, dear friends in Missoula, I wonder if anyone would like to join me with your time and/or money for a Team Missoula July 5-12, 2014?  If you are interested, please let me know by Saturday, March 29.

Happy Chickens!

The story starts with `sad’ chickens at the Ag. Center  My mom and I were at the FFA Fall BBQ in September. I was having lots of fun seeing all my old FFA friends and eating a potluck dinner. They roasted Lefty and Harold—goats that were friends with my goat, Kanga. Well, Harold was the mean one. But Lefty was a very nice goat. Anyway, I ate some of Lefty’s meat. It was good. It is called `chevon.’ I liked it. My mom was being silly and she just ate salads.

Anyway, back to the `sad’ chickens. It was dark and we were in the car headed for home when my mom suggested that we visit the chickens, `just to see what they do at night.’ We drove around back close to the chicken coop; all I had to do was open the car door. But I didn’t.

`Don’t you want to get out, Mathalia? To see the chickens. Maybe they have started to roost.’

`No. I stay in the car.’

`Aw, Come on! It will only take a minute. Don’t you want to see them find their bed for the night.’

`Stay in the car.’

So I waited for my mom and when she got back all she talked about on the way home was how `sad’ the chickens were: `Oh, Mathalia, the chickens were so sad; they had no place to roost. I counted seven chickens up on the window sill. All the others were huddled next to the door. The poor chickens! We will have to tell Grandpa and maybe he can build them a nice roost.’

And so we told Grandpa. Two days later the next thing I know is that we had an appointment to go out to the Ag Center with Grandma and Grandpa after dinner. There was a big surprise in Grandpa’s truck!  Thank you Grandpa!’

We drove out to the Ag Center in the truck. This time I got out and went to the chicken coop—my mom did not need to try to coax me. I wanted to see how the chickens liked their new furniture. Grandpa put them into the coop. I couldn’t really help very much but I could take pictures. Grandpa drilled the `ladder’ or roost onto the wall so that it would not fall down. And then he drilled the nesting boxes in place.

When everything was all done, we stepped to the side and waited in the big doorway and watched the chickens. They were so funny! They didn’t know what to do with all the new stuff in their hen house.  Popping their heads up and down, looking and looking.

We wondered if they would want to go on the roost without any coaxing. We watched and waited. And then one flew up on one rung and up another step and up another step, just checking it all out. Most of them liked it right away. They settled in very comfortably for the night. They were the `happy’ ones. Then there were some who wanted to stick with their routine of roosting in the window. I completely understand where they were coming from; they wanted their `normal’ sleeping place. But they used the first rung as a launching site to get to their window destination. Three chickens did not want to have anything to do with the new roost. They were huddled next to the door and my mom grabbed them one by one, handed them to me and I put them on the first rung of the roost. Poof! Each one of those three chickens flew right back down to the floor! We tried a couple of times and then just let them have their way. Silly chickens!

Chicken Update: Work

I wrote about enjoying the chickens in my last post. The next thing my mom wanted me to learn: feed and water them, and clean out the coop. The fun was over and now the work! `Wash out the water pan, Mathalia.’ Well, directions like that don’t work for me the first time I do something. So we both held the pan and then her hand pushed my hand around to wipe. We cleaned the little pan together and she did the big bucket. I filled the bucket full of water which was easy. My mom carried the bucket and I carried the pan.

I walked into the coop and I stopped completely frozen at a standstill because the chickens were pecking and making me crazy. My mom said that they were hungry and thirsty and told me to hurry up and put the pan ON the brick so she could give them their water. I shooed the chickens and put the brick IN the pan! I thought my mom would be so proud because I was `shooing’ chickens. But she laughed! And then she did it right so the chickens could have their water without waiting for me to understand directions.

Oh what a relief! The chickens stopped pecking. Once the chickens were happy then I could start helping again. My mom gave me the cup of food and showed me how to pour it into their feed dish. I did not bend down and get close to the dish. I just poured it down on their eating heads.  My mom laughed!!

The next time my mom brought the feed dish outside for me to fill. It was easy to fill it but then the tricky part was getting it back into the coop with all the hungry pecking chickens. My mom opened the door and the chickens rushed at the food and I  froze and dropped the feed dish. My mom started laughing and telling me that I had to pick up the dish and move it to the middle of the hen house.  NO WAY!! Not with so many pecking chickens!

She showed me how to find the handle under the hungry chicken that was perched on top. She started taking pictures while shooing chickens back into the coop and left me to figure it out by myself. And I did! I stepped over the crazy chickens and then I patted the one chicken off the handle and picked up the feed dish and set it down farther inside.  My mom was so proud of me: shooing a chicken and moving the food dish.

One day we had to clean them out. My mom thought I would not be much help but I surprised her! `Clean out the coop’ does not work for me. But scooping the dirty wood shavings into a nice pile far away from the eating chickens and then handing me a shovel and telling me to put the shavings into a bucket was just what I needed. I showed my mom that I like to take care of chickens! We had the coop looking clean with fresh wood shavings ready for the first day of school.

Chicken Update: Part One

I went out to the Ag. Center to feed and water my chickens this weekend and I found an egg!! Well, really my mom told me that there was something very exciting in the chicken coop and I had to find it: I found a big black feather. She laughed and told me to keep looking. Then I saw the egg! I took it home and ate it for breakfast. Yum!!

During the summer we tried to visit the chickens every day. My mom wanted me to get used to them and not be so afraid of their pecking: `Chickens peck, Mathalia; that is just what they do.’

At first, my mom made me go into the coop but I always got scared with all the pecking at my boots and shorts. My mom wanted me to enjoy the chickens and not be afraid of them. We worked out a system: I waited on the stoop and she brought out one chicken at a time. This worked a lot better for me.  Sometimes we remembered a rag for my lap. Sometimes I got poop on my pants: `That’s what happens when you are a farm girl, Mathalia!’

My mom sat with me and the stoop and kept an eye on the chicken because . . . if the pecking startled me, I let go of the chicken! Hah! And I don’t run after chickens—that’s my mom’s job: `Mathalia! Don’t let go! I am not fast enough to catch her and you are not going to help me!’ In fact, my mom was pretty good at catching chickens—too bad I never got a picture of her chasing a chicken. But you never know maybe such a photo op can still happen :).

After petting and talking to the chicken, we took her around to the outdoor chicken run. My mom held the chicken while I climbed the ladder. Then she handed me the chicken and my mom yelled:` Hold her Mathalia; don’t let go!’ And she would run around, get her camera ready and say, `Okay now!’ Hah!  We sure have had a lot of fun trying to get nice pictures!

Senior Year Slide Show

My friend Rachel, my mom and I made a video to share at the Missoula Aquatic Club Banquet May 2013. My mom printed and cut up 100s of photos; I chose the ones I liked; I wrote the captions and then I typed them into the computer. I selected the music and my friend Rachel came over and put it all together. Today my friend Christy taught my mom how to upload it and embed it in a post. I am excited that I can share it!

Siblings Part Three

Thursday, August 1, was a normal day at home: visiting my lamb, Domino, and my goat, Kanga, at the Ag Center and helping my FFA friends get ready for the Fair. It was on my list to go to Adult Swim after a short nap but I did not wake up until suppertime. My mom said it was okay, `You were exhausted, Mathalia; you needed to sleep.’ In the evening Matthan showed us his Green Mountain Summer pictures from Vermont. He can be a very wild and crazy brother when he is hanging out with his friends. Then he helped me post a picture on Facebook. I hope I can remember how to do it after he is back in Los Angeles!

Friday morning I went to lap swim with my mom and I had a very `Adult life’ adventure which my mom thought was fabulous but I was NOT very excited about it at all!! The morning started out just fine: we got up early and ate a little snack, rode the tandem to the pool, checked-in for lap-swim, swam, took a shower AND then she rode the tandem home without ME! She LEFT me at the pool!! While I was in the shower, she told me:  `I am frustrated, Mathalia, because you are soooo SLOW; I have things to do at home; I am NOT going to wait for you.’  And then in case, I did not understand or hear her words above the noise of the shower, she wrote me a note and left it on my swim bag. Wow! I was hurt and angry!! You should have seen me walking home: boy, was I quick!! When I got home she was happy and PROUD of me for my very quick walking AND for my very `adult’ problem-solving skills but I was still pretty ANGRY as you can imagine! I felt better after I had eaten a full breakfast and unpacked my swim bag.

By 4:00 when my mom was leaving for Spokane to pick up Morielle, I was happy and we had worked it all out. Still she thought I would want to stay home, relax, go to bed early, see Morielle in the morning. `NO WAY!! I want Morielle.’ And so she let me come along with her: more driving, more pot holders, more napping in the car. We got to Spokane early and then Dad texted Mom that the flight was delayed even more so we ate our little supper snack and then my mom took a nap in the car. I was messing around with my camera, taking pictures of her while she was sleeping and that woke her up so then we were both playing around with out cameras. It was funny.

But then it was time to get Morielle so we put money in the meter for parking the car and then we went inside and we waited some more. I was ready and waiting with my camera to take a picture of Morielle when she came out of  airplane! Morielle thought it was all very funny: no one was coming to greet her with a hug: I was trying to get a good photo and my mom was taking pictures of me taking pictures of Morielle. Morielle thought we were both CRAZY. Finally, we were happy with our photos and could give Morielle a welcome-home hug. She thought we were being very funny with our cameras but we take our photography very seriously.

Lots of talking and laughing in the car on the way home and then Morielle suggested a funny radio show: Cabin Pressure. It was very funny but then my mom started to fall asleep so we stopped listening and she and I took naps while Morielle drove us home: glad she had not forgotten how to drive a car!

Domino Up-Date

Lamb Weigh-in at the Ag. Center was a long time ago and I am just now writing about it! So much has happened since then and I will try to bring you up-to-date. Lamb weigh-in was very easy for me and it did not seem to be too sore for my little lamb, Domino.  Friends helped me with the paperwork and then we led Domino on the leash and we waited in line. I remembering hog weigh-in was so noisy; the pigs were squealing and kicking and fighting the whole way. Lamb weigh-in was very quiet—maybe a little `baaing’ from the lambs but no squealing and kicking and dragging while they moved down the line. Maybe when it was each one’s turn, we would hear a little `baaa’ but no squealing or squawking. When it was our turn, they took out Domino’s yellow tag with my name on it and they put in another tag with the number 322.  And they painted some green paint on his ear and gave him another stamp. He `baaed’ a little bit and we had to get him on the scale:  34 pounds.  Mr. Venier said that we would work on it so that he would grow bigger and stronger before the Fair. We took him for a little walk and then we put him in the outside coral while we went to talk to the chickens.
Lucas helped us find my chickens and we painted green finger nail polish on their feet again. We only painted the feet of 6 chickens, not 8.  Lucas said that my two Polish Hens didn’t make it—they are very hard to take care of when they are little he said. My mom said that six chickens is very good—now we are completely legal if we decide to move them to our house in the city sometime this summer.
When I was in school, we took Domino for a walk when we were not busy with something else. One time we went for a long walk and then it started to rain!! We were very far from his pen so we all got wet. My mom wanted me to walk fast but I usually slow down in the rain so she took Domino back to the pen as fast as he could walk. My mom called Kayti to see if he would be okay or if he would get cold. We were very cold and wet but Kayti said that Domino would be just fine.
And sure enough the next when we went to take him for a walk the next day, he was warm and dry. This time we did not go very far away from his pen. Then we visited the chickens and they were much calmer than the day before when it was raining. Sometimes the chickens are CRAZY; they are always pecking and trying to get out the door and then other days they are happy and softly clucking, making their nice soft chickens sounds. On those days we go into the coop; I bring in a chair and sit down and my mom puts a towel on my lap to catch the chicken poop. I like to put out my arm hoping that a chicken will fly up and roost on my arm. My mom catches the chickens one by one and puts them on my lap so I can pet them and talk to them. It is really fun. I mostly like it when they roost on my arm, my shoulder or even my head! One time I had seven chickens on my lap and I was not scared! It was fun!
After lamb weigh-in day we had 4-H Extravaganza which was really fun for me because I learned a lot of new things about animals and how to take care of them and I won a prize that would help me with my new lamb. We started with the a BBQ dinner with hamburgers, salad and cake for dessert. Then we had The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. I liked that part and I liked the part about winning prizes! My name was called and I got to pick a prize. Tianna helped me choose a green halter for Domino. Then we learned about goats and about showing sheep and pigs. My mom thought it looked like a lot to learn: holding the lamb by his head, leading him in a line with the other lambs and owners, making the lamb stop and stand straight, looking good and strong, keeping his legs out straight, watching the judge and changing sides as the judge moves down the line looking at all the lambs. The older FFA students tried to encourage her and said that they would help us and the best thing we could do was to go to the Ag Center everyday to take Domino for a walk so that is what we have been trying to do.
AND then Domino got sick and didn’t grow. My mom was wondering about why he wasn’t getting bigger like some of the other sheep and then some friends told her that other lambs were sick too—they had caught an upper respiratory infection from the goats and that two lambs had died. Oh, no, now what do we do??!!  Fortunately, Mr. Andres talked to her about it and told her that he gave Domino some medicine and that he had a red line on his back because they were watching him. Okay. That sounds good.  And then he said that he thought I should take a goat instead of Domino to the fair because he did not think Domino would `make weight’ which means that he has to weigh 110 pounds by the Fair. So he got all the paperwork ready and I filled it out and signed my name; he signed his name and my mom signed her name and then Mr. Andres showed me my goat: # 608. He was not a very friendly goat because the FFA student who chose him at first didn’t take him for walks or give him treats so then I was able to take him. He was very jumpy and feisty as my mom likes to say. I tried to take him for a walk but he did not come with me so my mom had to take him for a walk:  he jumps; he squawks like a goat, not like a pig; he sticks his tongue out, puts his bottom on the ground and squawks: I will not walk with you!! and then he pounces! Sometimes it is scary so that is why my mom takes Kanga on the leash and not me!! I named him `Kanga’ because he jumps like a Kangaroo and I like the book `Winnie-the-Pooh.’
Of course my mom did not want to abandon Domino completely so now when we go to the Ag Center. We catch Domino and then we catch Kanga and then we go for a walk together. This is on a perfectly good, normal day. Some days, my mom spends a long time running around the field trying to catch Domino—he does not come with the other sheep when she brings a bucket of grain for treats. And some days some of Kanga’s friends come out of the pen when they are not supposed to and then my mom ties Kanga’s leash to my arm, otherwise I will let him go when he gets a little jumpy and then she has to run around, chasing the other goats back into their pen, getting them grain to try to make them want to go in their pen. Every day at the Ag Center is a little bit different!  One day while my mom was out trying to catch Domino in the field, four pigs got out and they took our shoes and started to play with them and snort around with them! It was CRAZY! I was all by myself and I might have said, `stop it pigs.’but my voice is very soft so they didn’t hear me but I was too scared to shoo them off our shoes, like my mom had to do when she got back with Domino. So anyway, after the walks and the treats, I always want to go see the chickens! My mom tries to talk me out of it sometimes when things haven’t been going well with goat and lamb chasing: aren’t you tired, Mathalia?  Don’t you want to go home? and go to bed? NO, I want to see the chickens. And I always win! In the chicken coop, my mom calms down; after she grabs me a chicken or two, she will pick up one or two herself to hold and talk to. She is getting very good at grabbing chickens; they are much easier than a feisty goat or lamb who only likes to eat grass, she says; well, they are easier if they stay in their coop—if they get out, then I watch my mom chasing after chickens and they are pretty tricky because they can fly and they can go under the porch. As soon as I learn how to take pictures on my new camera, I will take a picture of my mom running after the sheep!