Day 1 – March 19th – The Chicks
Up until today, our trip to Eagleville had simply been a planned spring vacation for the kids. Today, however, is now the first official day we are here as a self-isolating family. With the Coronavirus threat looming down in the city and so much anxiety and chaos around it all we decided to stay out of Los Angeles for the foreseeable future and to instead live the simple life at The Kennedy House, my mother’s bright yellow country home, for the next few weeks or even months. It’s been hard being away from Wiley for so long as he’s still down at our home in Topanga Canyon for another week under a 14 day quarantine before he joins us, but we know that the remote country is the perfect place to keep the kids safe and out of the city during this surreal, uncertain, and historic time. It’s also the ideal setting for some country-themed homeschooling, something I’ve always been curious about but never had the guts to actually attempt.
My mother (aka Nana or Nan) heard that a local farm shop was getting baby chicks in so we decided that would make for a perfect start to our time homeschooling in Surprise Valley. We drove our trusty minivan an hour over the snowy Cedar Pass into Alturas, where we stocked up on non-perishables, medicine, and last but certainly not least, six tiny baby chicks. Two multi-colored Americanas, two rusty Rhode Island Reds, and two Easter yellow Buff Orpington’s to be exact – Henrietta, Metal, Dash, Ice Cream, Electricity and Cupcake (EDIT: Cupcake has now renamed Buttercup). The latter being Vivi’s personal favorite and now near constant companion.
After tucking the fluffy little things safely into a wicker basket, we headed back over the mountain to the Kennedy House, listening to them chirp the whole way home. Once there, we assembled a cozy little spot for them – a large red bucket filled with wood shavings, a water bowl, a bowl of baby chick feed, and a red heating lamp. Now they are tucked in safe and sound and ready for some major imprinting! They are the most adorable little creatures and have already brought so much joy to the kids. I can still hear them chirping away as I write this.
Day 2 – March 20th – Letters + Land
Today we wrote letters to people we missed and Henry and Nana walked to the post office to mail them. Vivi video chatted with her preschool class and showed them her new chicks. Such a proud little mama she is!
Later on we toured 80 acres of pristine Surprise Valley land for sale. It’s a beautiful property at the base of the Warner Mountains, the perfect spot for a quiet cabin retreat. As the midday sun warmed the snowy mountains, a trickling creek appeared right in front of us. Henry was in absolute awe as from when we arrived at the land to when we left it had traveled about 4 feet!
Day 3 – March 21st – Daffodils + Julie’s House
Today we stayed home and did some traditional schooling in the morning while I finished another puzzle. Around midday the sun came out so we painted cardboard boxes outside, sidewalk chalked the pathway, and picked daffodils.
That evening we went to dinner at our dear friend Julie’s House down the road ( she lives in a magical converted barn). We dined on black bean soup, cornbread, and red wine – the beans and corn having been grown in her garden out back. She is, by far, the most impressive host I know. Vivienne gifted her a bouquet of bright yellow daffodils that opened the next morning to Julie’s delight and Julie gifted us a homemade sourdough bread loaf (that we are very eager to learn how to make).
Day 4 – March 22nd – Sage Meadow for Firewood
As there is snow in the forecast and the firewood supplies are dwindling we decided today was a good day to stock up on wood. We drove out to Sage Meadow (30 acres of land that my mother owns at the base of the Warner Mountains and has an air stream on) where there were piles of juniper logs and dried, dead sage branches for us to bring home. We loaded up the truck while the kids played in and around Cherry Creek – a beautiful albeit modest babbling brook that meanders through the property.
Henry made a bridge with a plank of wood and kept himself busy with that the whole time. At one point he fell in the freezing creek but fortunately he had a dry snow bib to change into (though it was just that and a knit hat!) He did not fall in a second time so clearly that lesson was learned. That night for dinner I made a really yummy Cauliflower and Cheese dish that we gobbled up. Comfort food at it’s finest!
Day 5 – March 23rd – Windy Day + Death of Chick
Today we just hung around the house and had a lazy day as it was SO windy. It was nice not to have to deal with the snow gear for once and just have a quiet day at home. The kids did art projects and face-timed with family and mailed out more letters while I went on a 3 mile run (nearly getting blown away in the process). Also, our daffodils finally bloomed which was exciting for Vivi to wake up to.
For the kids’ morning bath I tried out these new Shampoo and Conditioner Bars that we picked up in town and was SO impressed. Not only did they work but I actually even prefer them to the regular stuff. You can order some for yourself here. I highly recommend all their bath products and I just love that there is zero plastic packaging involved. If you can’t see them on the webpage just direct message them. They have lots and will ship! Check out their goat milk soaps, shower steamers and bath bombs as well.
Sadly, we also lost one of our baby chicks today. While I am not exactly sure what happened as I was on my run, the yellow chick named Electricity was no longer with us when I returned. We think the water bottle fell over when Vivi was handling the chicks and it must have knocked her on the head. We were all really devastated by it and it really drove into home how precious and delicate our little babies are. We had a very somber funeral in the backyard and laid the tiny chick to rest. With only five chicks left we are now even more protective of them and have been checking on them round the clock.
Not an hour after Electricity’s funeral all the power went out in the valley. The winds were so fierce in the morning, so it was no surprise that the cause of the outage ended up being a fallen branch on the power line. We quickly rushed to make a warm fire, as now the heat lamp in the chicks’ pen wouldn’t work. We spent the next three long hours with the chicks next to the wood burning stove keeping them all toasty warm. It was a dramatic chicken day to say the least. In the afternoon, after the electricity came back on and we could all relax a bit, the kids busied themselves with still life paintings of the apples and daffodils which came out beautifully followed by a couple rounds of Twister and Jenga – a happy ending to a very somber morning.
Day 6 – March 24th – Alturas + The Snow Storm
Today we spent the chilly morning at home, and while I organized our clothes, cleaned, and roasted potatoes the kids amused themselves by making forts out of the bedding.
We heard a snow storm was coming though in the afternoon so we made our way again over the frosty Cedar Pass into Alturas for more supplies before the drive became too dangerous – we needed more food, both fresh and more nonperishable, my mother’s blood pressure medicine, and more feed for the growing baby chicks.
As we came back over the pass we could see the storm approaching in the distance. By the time we parked at The Kennedy House, huge white flakes began to flutter down on us. They were so light and gentle it was as if white moths were falling from the sky. Henry was in awe as we watched the front lawn go from a bright spring green dotted with cheery yellow daffodils to a delicate, sparkling winter white in just a couple of hours. Vivienne had the right idea and watched the entire transformation from the comfort of the steamy hot tub.
Day 7 – March 25th – Sage Meadow Snow Play
Today we visited Sage Meadow again for a bit of snow play! Henry got stuck in a tree as he decided that climbing the Junipers in full snow gear was a clever idea. At one point he was upside down and hanging by a boot. After successfully removing him from the Juniper, we walked along Cherry Creek through the thick snow and played around the property until our toes were practically frozen. Fortunately we had hot cocoa waiting for us at the car and a roaring fire for us at home.
That concludes Week 1 of our Eagleville Adventure! Thank you for reading and experiencing our new reality with us.