Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

Wow....December 29th....another year coming to a close.  Hard to believe it has been a whole year since I began this homesteading journey in earnest.  In ways I feel I have accomplished so much...others, not so much.  I am thrilled to be doing my crafts again.  That is something I have truly missed in the last 10 years.  And I find that I am working on more challenging patterns now, instead of being afraid of not doing it right - which is something I have battled all my life.  If I think I will mess it up, I just won't try it...or I will try it "in secret", with no one knowing, so if I do mess up, no one will know :-) 

So, in the past year, this is what I have accomplished:
  • Knitting and crocheting again
  • Making butter - we never buy it at the grocery store anymore!
  • Learned to make bread - I started baking some again yesterday - I really missed the way the house smells when I didn't bake it all summer
  • Produced more vegetables in the garden this year than last - still not enough to put up for the winter, but we are making more progress each year
  • Grew fruit - our blueberry bushes are small, but did put out a decent harvest to have in yogurt for breakfast for about 2 months - I would like to plant a couple more bushes next year
  • Got chickens - fresh eggs are definitely the way to go!  We have had 2 "no egg" days in the past two weeks...not bad considering we only have four girls and we have been getting 1-2 eggs every day even with the shorter days (we are not using supplemental light in the coop; I figure Mother Nature has a reason for the winter slow down)
  • Cooking more from scratch - not buying so much of the prepared foods.  It really does make a difference and doesn't take that much longer to make
What I would like to accomplish next year:
  • Would like to get a couple more pullets - we really love the "home grown" eggs!
  • Learn to make yogurt - I love yogurt, especially blueberry - so if I learn to make my own, and add my home grown blueberries to it, that would be cool!
  • Grow enough in the vegetable garden to be able to try canning
  • Learn to make cheese - not sure how much "extra" time I will have, with the full time job, dogs, cats, chickens, etc.. but it is something I would like to try
  • Possibly raise some meat chickens and learn to process them - the thought of raising home grown chicken appeals to me - but the processing scares me!!
I think we are making good progress on learning to be more self-sufficient.  It is a lot of work, but very gratifying.  Now, I am not a doomsday type of person, but I am uncomfortable with the direction the world seems to be going...on any given day, the news headlines are chock full of murders, bombings, child abductions, etc.  So much so, that I usually try to avoid looking.  I rarely watch the news anymore, it is just so darn depressing.  Anyhow, I believe there will come a time when something will happen, and those who don't know how to provide for themselves, or don't have the grit to just do it, will not make it.  I just hope there is enough time before that happens for me to learn more.

I hope everyone has had a great year and I look forward to learning much more from all of you next year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hello?!?!?

Where have I been?  Well, let's see...another week of December has slipped through my fingers.  On top of both of us working full-time jobs, we have been working outside - gathering deadfall, cutting up downed trees, splitting wood...and I have been busy trying to finish up making Christmas gifts so I can get them shipped out.  As I say every year, if it doesn't make it there by the 25th, then consider them Happy New Year gifts LOL!!  I will post pictures of what I made for everyone after the 25th - don't want to spoil the surprise in case they are reading :-)

My posts will probably be few and far between until I begin my vacation on 12/22...I hope everyone is doing fabulously and I will check in as I am able.  Stay warm!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Whiny Wednesday

  • Rainy and sloppy all day today
  • Dolly is NOT happy
  • After all the rain today, the overnight temp is going to be 29F....yep....below freezing...
  • I have to commute to the big city tomorrow....yep....on ice....oughta be a hoot
  • Whine away!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • One week of December is already gone - poof!
  • I am LOVING Carla Emery's book!!
  • 65F today....wow...
  • They are logging the property to the north of us...and now we can see the trees falling as they approach our property line....sad.
  • Less than 3 weeks until Christmas - what??
  • We put up our tree Sunday...so far we have the lights and garland on it....It looks so pretty like that, I may not put ornaments on it this year LOL
  • Hope everyone had a super day!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Holy Grail

For my birthday, my husband asked what I wanted.  I told him about a book I really wanted.  It was not one I had checked out of the library...but wanted to read badly.  Everywhere I go to look for information on homesteading, this one book kept popping up...it is supposed to be the bible for homesteading.  The Holy Grail of information, if you will.  So, he told me to order it - and I did.

I am now the proud owner of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery.  Do I hear angels singing!?  I am in heaven...or what I think is heaven as I am not an overly-religious person.  This book is HUGE!  It is the 10th edition, 35th anniversary copy.  I have started reading it, but it will take me a l-o-n-g time to finish it.  I hope to be able to review it by 2013!!  There is soooooo much information in it, I think it will start leaking from my ears soon.  It is been updated to include websites, etc. Every list of books and/or other places to find information that I encounter, I get sidetracked for hours looking to see if I can get those from our library or perusing the websites and getting lost in all of THAT additional information.  But I am so excited!!  I have already learned so much in the year since I began my foray into homesteading.  And there is still so much more to learn.

Have any of you read this book or own a copy?  What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ahhhh....

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We sure did.  After two days of cooking and cleaning, I am exhausted.  So much for vacation!!  But it was all worth it.  My daughter and her fiance came over, as well as a friend of theirs who is now a friend of ours.  There was a lot of good food (I guess I learned from my grandmother to make too much food), good conversation and a lot of "ahhhhhhhs" after everyone's belly was full to the brim!

Now we have a ton of leftovers and will probably still be eating turkey and dressing until Christmas :-)  Which will be here before we know it!!  I think I may try to make some turkey stock from the carcass...I am just afraid we will have too much of it!  I roasted a 23 lb. turkey....how long will turkey stock last if I can it??  Well, it all depends on how much energy I can summon up to even attempt the canning process for it.  This has been a jam packed week with work, cleaning and cooking, on top of the everyday chores of taking care of all the animals - pets and livestock.  As well as trying to get through it all on the 3rd anniversary of my father's passing.  But, I did make it through...and got everything done.  One more hurdle, the dreaded birthday, and I am home free until Christmas.

There is much baking of Christmas cookies, gifts to finish making, shipping the gifts, on top of everything else to get through in the next few weeks.  Then it will be New Year's!!!  Wow....this year just flew by.

Enough rambling for me...time to go out and help my better half split some wood.  Have a great day!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Traditions

Since Thanksgiving is in a couple of days, I thought I would share our traditional Thanksgiving feast and invite you to do the same.

  • Roasted turkey - we got a 23 pounder this year.  We like to have lots of leftovers!!  We will also have 6 people for dinner.
  • Whipped mashed potatoes - after being mashed, add butter and milk and whip with the mixer
  • Sausage dressing - I always make a double batch as it seems to be a fan favorite - my secret?  Use 1/2 regular sausage, 1/2 hot sausage....sage...and for the bread cubes, I use 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat.
  • Green bean casserole - though I do not eat it, when my husband and I got married, this was something he could not go without on Thanksgiving, so I make it for him
  • Broccoli with cheese sauce - fattening, I know...but oh so good!
  • Winter squash - I go on a search every year here in the south to find the frozen block in the grocery store, to no avail.  So this year I am making it from scratch using butternut and acorn squash.
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Crescent rolls
  • Pickles and olives
  • Homemade pumpkin pie - made with sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated...I know, same as the cheese sauce :-)
  • Homemade whipped cream for the pie
Someday, I hope to be able to make this meal with more from our own garden and possibly livestock.  But for now, I will make the butter and whipped cream, bake the squash myself and mix it up.  The rest came from the grocery store, but everything is made with something that you just can't buy in the store....a whole heaping helping of love and being grateful to be able to prepare this meal for the people I love, know they are well fed for a day, and be able to spend it with family and friends. 

I hope you will share your traditions too!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This time of year....

Is difficult for me at best...I lost my father 3 years ago this week...right before Thanksgiving....and my birthday....so it is a very sad reminder when it should be a happy time for me.  Well, the birthday part used to be happier when the number wasn't so big!!!

However, I am still thankful for how many years I was able to share with him before he passed.  I am also thankful for all he taught me over the years.  A lot of which I am able to put to good use here on the homestead.  Learning how to stack wood so it would dry; loading it into the basement through the window to use in the wood-burning furnace we had for a few years.  How to start the fire in it; how to clean the chimney and the pipes; what kind of wood to burn.  I may not chop the wood with an axe like he did, but I have respect for the logs - the size and heft - and how they will split.  He also taught me how to be careful when working with tools and how to do it safely.  These things are important when you are operating a high-powered log splitter and watching how the pieces will fall off the unit so you don't end up with a broken foot.  It doesn't matter if I am just using a Phillips head screwdriver or a table saw, pay attention, don't overwork the tool and put it away when you are done.  Important stuff...

I used to work alongside my father no matter what he was doing.  I think it was my thirst for learning by doing.  He showed me how to work all manner of power tools - radial arm saw, table saw, skil-saw, drill press, and non-power tools - screwdrivers, wrenches, ratchets, and the list goes on.  I helped him build picture frames, doll houses...was right by his side watching as he fixed things around the house.  I used to help him sort his nails, screws, nuts and bolts into baby food or pickle jars that he would nail the cap to the underside of a board and then screw the jar up into it.  He taught me how to paint and stain.  He showed me the basics of car maintenance - checking and changing the oil, changing a tire, how to check a radiator without getting 3rd degree burns, how to change windshield wipers.  He always had the time to teach if you wanted to learn.  I am glad I took the time to learn and had the opportunity to spend so much time doing it with him.  Even in my later years, before I met my husband, I would call and ask for his knowledge to do something around the house or ask his opinion about something.  And he always made the time.  Special memories for me.

He may not be here, physically, on Earth anymore, but I feel his spirit close to me and still feel his hand guiding mine and can hear him helping me through life.  Still...after all this time.  And it is very comforting.

If I had it my way, he would still be here.  But some things are out of our hands...and the mere fact that he is no longer suffering is good enough for me.  I miss you Dad and love you.  Always.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whiny Wednesday

  • Ok....so is going to be in the 70s or the 50s????
  • Dark, dreary and rainy today...yuck!
  • Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK?!?!?  ALREADY?!?!?
  • We need more chickens...this 1 or 2 eggs a day is not enough (from 4 chickens!)
  • I need more vacation time....can I just take off the rest of the year?!?!  Not...
  • Is it ever possible to get "enough" sleep?
Whine away everyone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • 99........100!!  Wow!  This is my 100th post!
  • I wanted to have some killer theme for such a momentous occasion, but alas...I've got nothing...
  • So after some very low overnight temps last week (got down to 29F one night), my shrubs began shedding their leaves...the high for today is going to be 76F...so now they are growing new leaves!!  I guess everyone (and everything) is just plain confused nowadays :-)
  • Had a nice, long 4-day weekend - took a vacation day, Friday was a holiday.  How much did I get done?  Not very much!  In-laws were in town so we did some family partying :-)
  • I did get to operate a skidsteer - not just drive it up and down the driveway - I attempted to run into a pile of dirt and scoop some up...was able to achieve some degree of success - but it will take a lot more practice to get it right!
  • My husband spent the weekend fixing the driveway - we had a section that wasn't draining properly so he dug it up, repacked it with the big gravel, took down a tree so he could trench the side of the driveway better, and then tucked it all in with some crusher run...cross your fingers that it works!
  • Cooked my first acorn squash the other night for dinner - I may have to try to grow these next year.  Cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, placed in a pan with an inch of water, put butter and brown sugar in the middle, covered and baked for a little over an hour....DELISH!  Although you all probably knew that already :-)
  • Hope everyone has a great day!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Take It Easy

This weekend we kind of took it easy.  The only "major" thing we did was fix the chicken run.  The other night, we had a rain storm come through that didn't dump a lot of rain, but must have packed some pretty high winds.  The next morning, there was a significant amount of leaves on the ground and no longer on the trees, and the tarp we had covering the run was ripped and hanging off one side.

So today we got another tarp and put it over the run.  The girls did NOT like all the strange noises coming from the tarp scraping over the chicken wire we have on top to keep hawks out.  They kept running and flying all around trying to escape the noise.  But once it was done, they were a lot happier!  In the spring, we are going to put a roof over the run.  My husband is researching a new kind of roofing material called Ondura.  Supposedly it withstands the sun very well and doesn't break down as quickly as the plastic or fiberglass panels.  But it is a little on the pricey side.  And since we will have another semester's tuition, property taxes and the holidays to pay for in the next 6 weeks, the roof will have to wait until after the New Year.

We were going to split some more wood, but didn't.  We were going to cut up some more pallet wood, but didn't.  I guess we all need a little down time after go, go, going all summer long.  It's not like we are low on wood, just wanted to stay ahead.  We have been using the wood stove overnight as the temps have been hovering around freezing and also in the morning to take off the chill until the sun rises high enough to shine in the windows.

I hope everyone remembered to "fall back" this morning.  I forgot all about it until I got my Farmcast text from The Weather Channel.  I thought it was 8:10 AM, but it was really 7:10 LOL!!!  It was nice to have that extra hour - didn't feel so rushed to get nothing done today :-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Whiny Wednesday

  • I REALLY hate my commute sometimes
  • Didn't get home until 8:15 PM last night - almost 1-1/2 hours later than I should have
  • It's NOVEMBER already?!?!
  • So much to do....so little time
  • Whine away!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Yum

Yesterday, since it was cool out, we decided to make dinner in the crock pot.  Beef roast with potatoes, carrots, onions and celery.  Yum!


I also baked some bread.  I found a recipe on Libby's website for pumpkin-apple bread that I thought was rather fitting to welcome in Fall:


Boy were they good!!  A nice, hot, hearty dinner followed by a sweet, cake like dessert.  The apples really made a difference in this bread.  It was a great day despite the fact the Panthers lost....AGAIN....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Changes

Today, our high temp was 77F.  Tomorrow's forecasted high is 49F...I think Fall will make it's debut tomorrow.  I like fall, with the cooler temps and pretty colors.  What I don't like is the weather that follows, or the short, short days.  I started taking my Vitamin D a couple of weeks ago.  They say it can help to keep your spirits up for those of us who have "SAD" - Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I have it...my husband hates it.  But I think this year may be better with all that I have learned, or re-learned, this past year.

I still make my own butter every week.  I will begin baking bread again with the cooler temps - just couldn't bring myself to do it during the summer when it was 100F outside and the air conditioning was running non-stop.  Only this year, I will try to make it every weekend, instead of only when we need it.  I will freeze the extra so we have some during the warmer weather too.

I will be busy making my crafts too.  I found some cute patterns for crochet and knit and have been working on them.  I am receiving some very good feedback from family and friends, and may start renting tables at the local festivals next year to try my hand at selling them.  I have also looked into setting up an Etsy store.  This year, I am making a lot of the gifts we will be giving, instead of buying something I am not sure the person will like/use, or giving up and just getting a gift card.  I am certain the hand-made gifts I have selected will be very well received...or at least I hope so!

I think having the chickens this year will help me as well.  I never tire of watching their antics, listening to their "conversations" with each other, how Emmy Lou waits at the gate for me when it is time to go to bed, or opening the nest boxes and finding beautiful, home-grown eggs inside...

I am looking forward to my holiday baking using my home-made butter and home-grown eggs this year.  They can't help but make everything taste better.  We are filling up the freezer slowly but surely - chicken noodle soup two weeks ago and chili last week. 

This weekend, I will pull the last vestiges of tomato plants from the other raised bed and we will cover the greenhouse.  Last weekend we covered the pool.  It is time to start closing down and putting everything up for the winter to come.  Before I know it, the holidays will be upon us (Monday is Halloween already!!).  I still have vacation time at work I have not used - I look forward to being able to sleep in a little when I do finally take them.

Hope everyone had a great day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whiny Wednesday

  • Covered the pool on Saturday....today the cable holding the cover on the pool snapped - as in broke apart...now we get to do it all over again...
  • 76F today...can we decide if I am lighting woodstoves or running air conditioning please?!?
  • Ever try to type with every other fingernail being broken off?  Let's just say there is a lot of "backspace" going on!!!
  • I just saw the biggest potato plant ever!!  In my compost bin....oy...
  • My favorite tree in the fall is losing it's leaves before the tree turns its gorgeous colors :-(
  • Ok everyone - whine away!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • I'm back :-)
  • Voice still comes and goes a little, but MUCH better
  • There is only one week left in October....wha???
  • I have had to fire up the woodstove a couple of times in the morning to take the chill off
  • Glad we were able to split some wood before I got sick!
  • Got the pool covered last weekend....yep....it's that time again....
  • My roses don't care about the weather change - they are still sending out new shoots and blooms
  • It's nice to have a window or two open now.  I actually have to close them to keep the heat in at night!
  • Hope everyone is having a great day!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Almost back to normal....

Wow...been a long two weeks....this cold kicked my butt!   I think I am finally at the end of it though.  My voice just keeps coming and going now.

Thank you all for the tips and hints.  Unfortunately for this round, Sudafed was my best friend.  But I fully intend to look into the suggestions you gave and be ready for the next time!

I also had my husband make a big pot of chicken noodle soup and ate it for lunch and dinner for a week straight.  He makes such FABULOUS chicken soup.  If I could have hooked it up to an IV, I would have.  Every time I had a bowl I felt a ton better.  So now we have about 5 containers of it in the freezer ready to heat and eat :-)

This past weekend, we were supposed to have our 3rd annual bonfire, but only a couple people showed up, so we just had a fire in the firepit instead.  But we made up a big pot of chili and froze the leftovers so the freezer is now stocked!

The chickens have started producing more eggs - which I thought was strange as the temps have fallen quite a bit here in the last couple of weeks.  But, I will take it!  We are now averaging 2-3 eggs per day, and we even had a couple days where all 4 laid in the same day.  We had a couple with very thin shells, so I have added a small bowl of oyster shell for them, free choice.  They don't seem to mind the chilly mornings - but I have also started giving them some scratch grain in the evenings when I know it will dip below 40F - 45F overnight.

They are loving the grass clippings with all the leaves in them, as the leaves are falling faster than they are changing color.  I guess it is because of the hot, dry summer we had this year.  But there is still some pretty color here and there.

Sorry that I have been MIA - I feel guilty for not posting my Tidbit Tuesdays or Whiny Wednesdays, but you will have them both this week!

Hope everyone is healthy and getting to enjoy some cooler fall weather and some foliage displays!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Down for the Count

So, you may have noticed the small number of posts recently.  I have been sick...very sick.  My husband was down for the count last weekend.  Now it is my turn.  I started to feel bad Wednesday...I woke up Thursday feeling like a Mack truck had hit me - twice.  I stayed home from work, put an out of office message up, took some meds and went back to bed.  Now, this is monumental for me.  I NEVER go back to bed.  But I was feeling so terrible, I really had no choice.

When I woke up, I tried looking for some home remedies for relieving sinus pressure...yeah, the ole drum and bugle corp were at top volume in my head that day.  I found one, made it up, and almost gagged to death on it!!!  Wowee!  How do people drink that stuff!?!?!?  You were to boil water, put in a mug, add 2 TBS apple cider vinegar, 2 TBS of honey and drink it down.  BLECK!!!  So now, not only was my head pounding off my shoulders, but my stomach was doing somersaults.... great...

Then I remembered, one of the executives I support went to Japan last year, and brought me back a fancy canister of tea.  Now, I cannot read Japanese, go figure, but when I brewed the tea, it was green - I thought, perfect.  Green tea is supposed to be fantastic for you.  It was okay, I am a coffee drinker, not a tea drinker.  But when I am sick, I will choke down the tea.  It did make me feel a little better, but the congestion would not break up.  I finished off every bottle of over the counter medicine that was left from when my husband was sick, and spent a very restless night trying to sit up enough to try to get my sinuses to open up so I could breathe!

So, for this round, I went to the store today and got the only thing that works for me - Sudafed 12 hour - the real stuff, behind the counter - not the fake PE stuff.  Also got some Ny-Quil and cherry flavored Halls, so now I am set for this cold.  Within one hour of taking the Sudafed when I got home, my sinuses started clearing out. YAY!

So, does anyone out there have any suggestions for the next round?  I would like to try to do more homeopathic stuff and not rely on the pharmaceuticals (but this time desperate times called for desperate measures)...I have read about ginger tea, tea with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and honey, peppermint essential oil facial steam baths, etc.  But I am looking for something that you have tried and it WORKS.

Cuz when I am sick, there is no time for messing around.  I have got too much to do and can't be down for the count.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Whiny Wednesday

  • My husband was sick over the weekend, had to stay home Monday....now I'm sick!
  • Windshield did not get replaced yesterday - company didn't come in the morning while it wasn't raining...they waited until after lunch when it was POURING
  • Have to commute to the big city tomorrow...while being sick...oh what fun!
  • It POURED this morning....would have been a grand day.....if I were a DUCK!
  • Feel free to whine away......I'm going to take more Thera-Flu, Excedrin and whatever else I can find that my husband didn't use up the last few days :-(

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Reba's better

She laid an egg around 1:30 PM yesterday - so I took that as a good sign.  I went down a couple more times to try to give her more oil and tip her to see if anything else would come up.  Nothing else did - I got maybe 1/2 teaspoon of oil in her.  Later in the afternoon, she started hanging with the other girls, not staying alone under the coop.  Then around dinner time, she was acting more like her old self.  Pecking around with more vigor and when someone else found a tasty morsel (a bug) and ran off, she ran after them with the others.

This morning she met me at the pop door when I went down to let them out and started eating right away.  Not as fast as she usually does, but still, an improvement over yesterday.  I will continue to watch her but she is much more alert and doing more of the normal chicken thing than she did yesterday.

My husband and I started cutting up some more pallets for the wood pile and are just now taking a break.  The pallet pile is starting to get smaller, and the cut pile is growing nicely.  We figure we have about a month's worth cut so far.  Maybe later today we will get to do some splitting - I love doing that!  The pallet wood burns well in the stove, and hot enough to keep the whole house warm during the day, but you can't replace split wood.  There is just something about it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and gets to partake in some gorgeous weather like we are here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reba's sick.....

I knew something was wrong right away this morning when I let them out.  Reba is usually the first to run to the pile of feed I put on the ground (hey, that's the way they like it - no feeder for them!) and gobbles it up.  But today, I opened to coop and everyone came out EXCEPT Reba...then she sauntered out and walked the opposite way from the food.  I thought, hmmm, strange.  The other three were just gobbling up the food and Reba was just slowly walking around...a peck here, a peck there.  So, in the house I went to get on backyardchickens.com to see what I could find.  Hard to nail down "looks lethargic" on that huge forum.

So back outside I went, I cornered her and picked her up to see if she had mites or something.  I was holding her around her midsection, wings pinned between my arm and my side, with her head behind me, looking through her feathers - no bugs.  So I figured, I will check her vent - as I went looking for it (they have a lot of feathers there!!) I heard a sound like a waterfall behind me.  She was "puking" water out from being tipped slightly upside down in that position.  Light bulb goes off in my head - aha!  Sour or impacted crop.  Great.  I turn her around and start massaging her neck, where I think the crop is.  I don't know - I'm still a newbie at this!!  It doesn't feel exactly squishy, but not hard as a rock either.  Back inside to the laptop - was it olive oil or vegetable oil - can't remember.  Find it - olive oil, although they say mineral oil is best.  Of course I don't have mineral oil.  Get the olive oil, put it in a tiny measuring cup (like the kind that comes with cough syrup), back to the run to try and get her to drink some of it.  Yah....right.  So I just keep dipping her beak in it, and every so often she licks it off.  Then she gets mad and wants to be set back down.  I figure, good, she is showing some of her old spunk.  Put her back down after rubbing her neck a little more, and she walks slowly under the coop and just stands there. Poor thing!!

I will keep trying to get more oil in her today, and I have to go to the store and get some plain yogurt.  They say that is good too - but not too much.  The point is to get her crop emptying again - not keep filling it faster than it is being emptied.

I thought I was done with "burping babies".  My daughter is 20 - hasn't needed that in a long time!  But, apparently, chickens need it every now and then.

Will let you know how she makes out.  Any other advice?  Did I miss anything?  Thanks.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Whiny Wednesday

Welcome to the first installment of Whiny Wednesdays!  Thank you Carolyn Renee for helping me select the title!

  • When does your "To Do" list ever get small enough that it actually fits into ONE day??
  • Shorter days = crabby me!!
  • Why is it that just as our four chickens start laying eggs, the days are so short that we only get one egg one day, maybe two the next, then one egg....oh, and let me guess, when spring hits, and the days get longer, they will go into molt and we will still only get one egg here, couple there....maybe we need more chickens....
  • I want a Dunkin Donuts near me!!!!!

It's ironic....I usually have quite a list of whiny things, but drew a total blank when I started writing this post!!!  Hmmm....maybe this will help cure me? :-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • The commute still sucks
  • The cooler nights have been a nice change
  • I like hearing the sound of crickets instead of cicadas at night
  • The stars are so bright this time of year - there is no humidity in the air
  • I missed my chickens today (I know, sad, isn't it)
  • Hope everyone had a great day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Wow - where did the weekend go?  And it's October already?!?!?  We had a very busy and productive weekend around the homestead.

Saturday, we got up early - fed the dogs, cats, chickens as usual.  Then headed to town so my husband could get his mop, I mean hair, cut...then off to the local Heritage festival (yes, there is pretty much one every weekend in September for each of the local towns/cities near us) to visit my daughter who was working a tent for her job, then off to Lowe's to get more sand for the chicken run (the rains washed it all away while we were in NY), then grab some lunch, get home, hook up the trailer to the four-wheeler to move 500 lbs. of sand back to the run, unload and spread it (that was my job) while my husband worked on fixing the log splitter.  We had to get a new pump for it - the one we initially put on it was not strong enough to handle the back and forth on the pushing mechanism.  It went forward just fine, but was very SLOW going back.

Sunday, we had grocery shopping to do, stop at Lowe's to pick up one more part for the log splitter and some 1/2 price perennials, go home to unpack and put everything away.  Watched a little football (darn Panthers....), then while I planted the new plants out front and ripped everything out of one of the raised beds in the garden, my husband finished repairing the log splitter.  Yay!  Then I moved the chicken tractor onto the bed I emptied and set the chickens to scratching it all up.  Boy, did they have a ball!  Then we moved the log splitter to the back yard and started splitting some wood.  It worked AWESOME!!  Much better than before with this new pump.  It made short work of the few logs we split - we have a long way to go!


Yep, it's ugly...but only cost $300 so far.  The most powerful one at Tractor Supply is $2,000.  And this has way more power.

Then we went in to eat some chili I had pulled out of the freezer.  It was a chili kind of day :-)  The weather was very cool this weekend, with overnight temps dipping down to the lower 40s.  Daytime temps only got to the low 60s.  Perfect weather to get stuff done outside!

The only two things we did not get done that we hoped to were to close the pool and clean the chimney for the wood stove.  Oh well, there is always next weekend, right?!?!

Friday, September 30, 2011

On the Road Again

We just got back from a little road trip last weekend....well, not little really.  We drove from NC to NY, with the two dogs, to visit my husband's family for a long weekend.  The trip took 11 hours, one way.  Sasha does very well in the car - Mika is a whole other ball game.  She is a very high energy dog (it's the lab in her), and is very much "Daddy's girl".  She suffers from separation anxiety when my husband is not around.  So, despite the fact that we got a bag of Composure treats and doubled the dose for her, she was still not liking the 11 hours in the Jeep.  By about the 9th hour, I was ready to tie her to the anchors in the back of the Jeep just to keep her down.  But I didn't....she survived...and I couldn't wait to get a drink when we got there!!!

We left about 5AM on Thursday, thinking the dogs would just sleep while it was still dark out....nuh-uh!  It was hours of "Mika - lay down....Mika - lay down....good girl.  Mika - lay down....MIKA - LAY DOWN".  Needless to say, that night, they both PASSED OUT COLD. 

We got to see my husband's family (Mom, Dad, sister with her husband and son, cousins, aunts, uncles) and his friends from growing up who still live there.  We took the dogs to the beach on Lake Ontario...Sasha loved running in the water (this is the dog who doesn't want to go outside when it is raining!!) and Mika was terrified of the waves....Mika....the lab....the water dog....

My husband with Mika (blonde) and Sasha (black)


My husband: C'mon Mika! 
Mika:  No!  I do not like the waves!

The weather was nice - a little on the cool side - we only had a couple of rain showers on Friday.  The rest of the time was dry and sunny, for the most part.  It was a lot of good food, great people, fun and laughter.  It's always a good time when we go there - it's just a REALLY LONG trip to get there and back.

Sasha on the trampoline with Grampa

My mother-in-law, me and the sweet lady who lives two doors down

My husband playing with his nephew - the dogs are the referees!

I missed our chickens immensely!  But they were in good hands with our neighbor across the street.  Turns out, she used to have chickens of her own so she knew what to do.  But apparently, we got a TON of rain at home while we were gone, so there is no sand left in the run.  Guess what we will be doing this weekend :-)

So, what was the best part about spending 22 hours in the car in four days?


Mmmmm.....and it's Pumpkin Spice season too!!!  YUMMY!!!
(We don't have any where we live, so I make sure to get my fill when we go up north)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

I know....it's Wednesday...my days are still screwed up from our vacation (which I still need to tell you about)...

  • It sucks when at 5:30 AM, you turn the key to start your vehicle and it doesn't turn on.
  • $132 later, you have a battery that has all cells working
  • We had TONS of rain while we were away, so there is no sand left in the chicken run....it is nothing but a MUCKY mess
  • A wet, mucky chicken run STINKS!!  Literally!  Peeeeeee-yoooooo-eeeeee!
  • It would dry faster if the sun would come out....
  • At least it is still cooler out
Hope you all had a great day!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back

We are back :-)  We took a long weekend to go out of town.  More to come on the, ahem, adventure!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • Surprised the cooler weather is still around :-)
  • Had to commute to the big city yesterday for an all day meeting - left the house at 5AM - got home around 7:30 PM = L O N G day
  • I missed my chickens yesterday - didn't get to see them :-(
  • Chickens were happy to see me this morning!!
  • Is it really almost officially "Fall"??
  • One of my followers was surprised when I posted on a Wednesday one week - she said "you never post on Wednesdays!!"  I did not realize this...so, I would like to call on all of you to help me come up with something for Wednesdays to get me to fill in this void....I know some use "Wordless Wednesdays", but I'm not real good about doing the picture thing (if you can't tell!!)...any ideas???

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Four! Ouch!

Yesterday, our girls gave us FOUR eggs - YAY!!


The only problem was, Dolly decided to lay her first ever egg on the ROOF of the nesting boxes....which of course slants down to the ground....so her egg rolled off and landed on the ground, cracking the shell.  Her first one was the only one that looked like a first egg - it was smaller, and very long and narrow - but I opened it, and it was normal inside.  So, way to go Dolly!  Finally!  Now, lay them INSIDE the nesting box, please???

And look at Reba's egg....doesn't it look a little large??



Yeah....you guessed it - a double yolker!!  Our first!  Loving these home grown eggs!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ahhhhhh......

Yesterday was a chilly day...Thursday, the high temp was 87F.  Friday it was 61F.  Once again, Mother Nature is confused as to what MODERATION means....but it was a refreshing change.  The chickens didn't like it - they all lined up along the fence on the run, their feathers all boufed up and their skinny little chickens legs sticking out from underneath LOL  And we only got one egg - BOOOO!

After my husband got home from work, we used the rest of the daylight (which wasn't very much now that it gets dark earlier) to cut up some pallets.  Have to take advantage of the cooler weather while we can.  We will do some more today - the high is supposed to be only 61F again.

We are also going to a local festival for a little while to see what is new this year.  We will probably be dodging some raindrops, but we do try to patronize the local festivals when we can as our community and the surrounding towns are so small.

Hope you are all enjoying a little breather from the heat - ahhhhhhh....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Update

Loretta's egg today was back to normal.  No unusual "stripes" on it.  Not sure what happened with the last one.  When I wiped it off with a damp paper towel, it did not turn red like dried blood usually does.  So, maybe her "paint gun" is still working out the kinks :-)

Only got two eggs yesterday and today...maybe there will be third when I go down to lock them up for the night.  ::fingers crossed::

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shout It Out!

Wow....I am flabbergasted once again.  Tiny Gardener has awarded me:


"Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.


And she said such nice things about me and my husband, and what we are attempting to do here on our 10-acre homestead.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

So, here are the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all - have fun!!

Here goes:

1.  Thank you Tiny Gardener!!

2.  a.  Sharon over at Quilting the Farm - Even though I cannot sew a button to save my life, Sharon's blog is beautiful and has tons of fun stuff on it.  Sharon's homesteading adventures are a lot like all of ours, even though she is in Canada - they are just colder....and snowier!!

     b.  Susan at e-i-e-i-omg! - Love her!!  Homesteading is hard....no doubt.  But she does it alone!  I couldn't even imagine...Susan shares it all - from the "hoorays" to the "ughs"...fun stuff!!  Plus, she lives very close to my old stomping grounds in NYS :-)

     c.  Small Farm Girl - I really enjoy reading about her and her husband's adventures - a real gem (and comes in just under the 200 follower limit - PHEW!)

     d.  The Haphazard Countryman over at CONCRETE to CHICKENS - just like the rest of us, trying to carve a country living after being citified :-)  It was nice to have someone going through the anticipation of our first eggs, and trying to get things right as we make the changes to homesteading.

     e.  ADoC over at The Accidental Farm-Girl - I just started reading this blog and thoroughly enjoy it!  Funny, bright and brutally honest - also check out her other blog Another Day of Crazy - I laugh until my sides hurt!

3.  Done :-)

4.  I know they all will!!  This is a great bunch of people and a wonderfully supportive community - I am honored to be a part of it!

5.  Thank you to all my followers - you keep me going!  Have a super day everyone!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • We hit the Trifecta!!
The dark brown one is from Reba, the streaked one is from Loretta (not sure if it was blood or poo on it - will have to keep an eye on this) and the bottom left is from someone new - I think Emmy Lou since it is the same color as Loretta's and they are both NHs.

  • I know...I'm preaching to the choir, but is there anything more beautiful (and tasty) as this?

Home grown eggs!!  YUM!!
  • Our forecasted high for this Friday is 59F?!?!?!  The high?!??!?
  • Have you seen the movie "Up"?  If you haven't, it is a must see!  Have a box of tissues handy, you will cry....but it is soooooo funny!  Best to tape it - you will laugh so hard and miss half the funnies they come at you so fast!
  • Hope everyone had a great day!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We will NEVER forget...


September 11, 2001

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eeeek!

So, last night, after dinner, my husband and I were out on the back steps, chatting with each other and the chickens (I know, we're weird) when my husband turns to go in.  He stops in mid-turn and slowly says, "OH.....MY......GOD.....Do you see that?"  I follow to where he is pointing at the gravel walkway that goes behind the house....8 feet away from us, on the ground, laying across the walkway, was a Copperhead!!!!  YIKES!  Approximately 2 feet long, and as big around as a 1/2-dollar.  Apparently, it was making it's way up the hill and across the walkway trying to get under the house for warmth, when the sun went down and he got too cold and stopped in his tracks. 

My husband rushes inside to put on boots and jeans and grab a gun, while I stay outside to make sure it doesn't move - yeah, I get the sucky assignments LOL  Back outside with the .22 - let the shooting begin!  Now, normally, my husband is an excellent shot - however, when the rifle scope is set for 200 yards, and you are aiming for something 8 feet away and 3 feet beneath you...he did hit it.  But that also woke up the snake and it shot off the sidewalk.  Now I have to go put on my tall muck boots and grab the flashlight and hold it so he can try to shoot the now-squirming-for-his-life snake.  After about 7 more shots, it no longer had a head.  It had gone under the generator so that made shooting very difficult.   Trying to hit the snake, without hitting the generator, or the side of the house...

Just a reminder of the wildlife that comes with living out in the country.  No pictures - I hope that is the LAST one I ever see!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Loretta's Egg


Loretta's egg is on the left - it is a very light tan color, almost bordering on pink.  Reba's much darker egg is on the right.  Loretta's egg is just slightly smaller than Reba's...but then again, Reba has a one week head start on her :-)

It was thrilling to get two eggs in one day!  Now, the other two slackers better hop to it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • Loretta gave us her first egg on Sunday - nothing Monday - one more today (picture to come later)
  • The big city commute really sucked today with the weather
  • The chickens did not like all the rain we got - they keep giving me the stink eye as if to say, "The term is DUST bath!!"
  • The days are getting shorter.....WAAAAAAA!
  • Hope everyone made it through all the rain okay!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The early bird...

I had a burst of energy this morning - not sure where it came from...maybe my lack of energy all week, as evidenced by my lack of posts :-)

By 8:10 AM, I had fed the cats, fed the dogs, let the chickens out and fed them, then it was off to the vegetable garden to weed out a patch to plant some lettuce, green beans and squash in the hopes that I can get a little more out of it before our first frost at the end of October.  Although it doesn't matter when the first frost is because we will just put new plastic over the greenhouse frame and keep it toasty for a few weeks after the weather starts to turn significantly colder.

This year, the squash plants grew, and flowered, but I guess the bees were on vacation or something - no squash grew.  Only one lonely squash that had incredibly tough skin, but we were able to saute it in some butter - just had to cut the rind off.  So, I am trying again.  Worst case, nothing will happen.

When I planted the garden this year, I only had the use of two of the three raised beds.  So, I did not have room for the beans.  But, in reading the packet, it says 50 days to harvest.  Hopefully, we will have enough time to get something from them.

We have been getting a steady harvest the past couple of weeks from the roma and cherry tomato plants.  Never enough at one time to can any of them, but I did freeze some the other day.  After I took the skins off, chopped them up, and simmered them down by half (as per the Ball canning book - which I did pick up after all of your suggestions), I got about 1/2 a tupperware container that I put in the freezer.  At least I was able to put SOMETHING up this year :-)

The cucumbers are still growing as well - get 1 or 2 a week.  Not bad from one plant.  And I dug up the second round of red potatoes - they are the size of new potatoes, which I prefer in the reds anyway.  They have that touch of sweet to them that makes great roasted potatoes.  Someday I hope to grow enough to get us through the winter, but that would require some sort of root cellar or cool place to store them....oh, honey!! :-)

I hope everyone has a great long weekend!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • The commute to the big city still sucks
  • Reba laid her 3rd egg today!!  She is very consistent for a beginner!
  • I am glad that all my cyber-friends are safe and sustained no major damage from Irene
  • I am taking a vacation day this Friday to make it an extra long weekend!  (Only the 3rd day I've taken this year - hubby's work is so busy - not complaining - that he can't take any time off.  I still have 2-1/2 weeks left to take)
  • I can't believe the NFL pre-season is over this week
  • I can't believe the NFL regular season starts next week
  • YAY!
  • August 30th??  Really??  Already??
  • Hope everyone had a great day today!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Go Reba!!!

FINALLY!!!  Our first egg!!!  Laid at 10:15 AM ET this morning by our Production Red - Reba:


Poor thing has been putting up a racket for two days...this morning she was making even MORE noise (which we didn't think was possible!!).  She was in and out of the nesting box...squawking and carrying on.  She finally went in and was quiet...so of course I had to go investigate...she was in there about 20 minutes, and at one point I thought she was going to fall asleep....then she 1/2 stood up and looked like she pooped - so I'm thinking, great....she is going to lay the egg right in the poo!!  Then she let out this horror movie squawk/scream, my plaque starting moving through my veins again (The Great Outdoors anyone?!?), and started walking out of the nesting box....as I peered inside, I had to choke back tears - there was our first home grown, farm raised, all natural egg.  Sigh....I feel like a proud mother hen :-)

Only took 24 weeks, but now we are on the road to raising our own food, outside of what we grow in the vegetable garden.  I am just beside myself!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How do you get a garden to produce?

Ignore it for about 3 days...


Got lots more tomatoes on the vine - might have enough to car one jar!!  So, how do you can tomatoes??  I have never done it :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All is okay

I am in the big city today - and yes, I felt the earthquake all the way down here.  Just a mild shaking of our building.  Hubby said he felt it at his work too.  Hopefully everything is okay at the house - will find out later...

Leigh - hope you are ok...if you get a chance, let us know.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quick Catch Up

Last Friday was our 5th anniversary!  Can you guess what our wedding song was?? (Hint:  title of blog?)


Friday night was the usual hang out by the fire and have a few beverages and watch the Panthers play - oops, I mean get beat - but that's okay because they won their first pre-season game last week.  We are big NFL nuts.  We both root for the Panthers (duh) and I am also a Dallas Cowboys fan (since I was a kid) and hubby is a long-time Buffalo Bills fan.

Since my husband works a lot of hours this time of year, we decided to celebrate on Saturday.  We found a new place to hang out that isn't too far away - about 25 minutes or so.  Believe me, out here, that is close!  They have pool tables, dart boards, etc; so we played a few games of pool, had a few drinks and were still home in time to lock up the chickies (no APG, not one egg yet...).

So, needless to say, not much got done around the ole homestead this weekend.  We kinda took the weekend off :-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pondering...

I am fairly new to this "homesteading" thing...it began last winter for me.  When we moved out here to the country three years ago, I didn't know that is what we were doing...but now I am hooked.

Gardening has always been fun for me - therapeutic.  I learned about gardening from my maternal grandmother.  They had a one acre corner lot in a subdivision, but she was always outside tending to her flowers and shrubs, and the small vegetable patch she had in the backyard by the patio surrounding their inground pool.  I was just a kid, so I didn't pay too much attention to the finer points...but it stuck with me.  When I moved out on my own, I lived in a tiny mobile home in a mobile home park on a tiny corner lot.  No room for a vegetable garden, but I did surround the front of the house with lots of flowers and shrubs.  People would actually stop and tell me how pretty they all were if they were taking a walk by.  When I moved out to NM, we lived in an apartment, but I still had to do SOMETHING garden related.  So I planted some flowers and a cherry tomato plant in pots on the balcony.

When we moved to NC and finally had a house with a backyard, I was able to have a small vegetable garden in some raised beds that my husband (boyfriend at the time) built for me.  And I went CRAZY planting all manner of flowers and shrubs all around the house.  My sunflowers grew over my head - so big in fact, that I could not cut them down after the season was done with my pruners....I needed a saw!  My roses grew big and beautiful...my gardenias flourished...my geraniums and snapdragons seeded themselves and kept coming back every year...I loved it.

Then we moved out to the country, to ten virgin acres covered with trees.  Perfect - I thought to myself - a blank canvas!!  Little, by little, I started planting things....roses, mums, daffodils...then I found new things like goose-neck loosestrife...foxglove...columbine...which led to more gardenias, dahlias, bleeding hearts, black-eyed susans, purple coneflowers, azaleas.  Most of these are still doing very well...the foxglove did not come back this year though...and I have not been able to get the columbine to come back either....and the dahlias struggled last year and gave up this year...but overall, I am happy with my flowers and shrubs.

Enter the vegetable garden.

The first year, we didn't have one - we moved here the beginning of July, too late to start.  The following year, I was determined to grow fresh vegetables for my family to eat during the warmer months.  I staked out my plot - 5 X 20.  My future SIL and I turned the soil (ie., CLAY), my husband rototilled it into smaller chunks, we added peat and compost and dirt (you know, the dark stuff!!).  I planted all my seeds and stood back to announce I was finished planting.....and I saw a river running through the middle of the plot.  The inflatable pool we were filling apparently was not as level as we thought and one side caved in and let loose a waterfall....right through my freshly seeded garden plot!!  I could have sat down and cried....I had a few seeds left over so I did my best to fill in the soggy blank spots and hoped for the best.  Which did not materialize.  It was so hot that the only thing that grew in abundance were weeds.  We managed to get a few beans and a couple tomatoes and that was that.

Summer #2 - I asked my husband to make me some raised beds to avoid runoff when it rained heavily (or when the pool collapsed) so he did.  This also gave us the opportunity to put more dark dirt in there than we could ever hope to till into the clay in the ground plot.  I planted my seeds, and we also planted some transplants from a local nursery (just in case).  Then we had a couple of trips we needed to take for family weddings that spanned from Buffalo, NY to Key West, FL on back-to-back weekends...the kids did not water as well as we had hoped they would so needless to say, we did not get much out of that garden either.  We got a little more than the previous year, but not what I had hoped for....so I asked my husband to build a greenhouse over the raised beds so we could get an earlier start....and (this is one reason I love him so much) he did.

Summer #3 - this summer...I was able to begin planting the end of January - which helped my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) immensely!  Things started coming up all green and beautiful!  I even planted some things I had never planted before - carrots, onions and garlic.  I don't like carrots, but my husband does.  The onion tops died and fell over and when I pulled them out, they were only marginally larger than when I planted the sets.  The garlic didn't get bigger either (although I did use a store bought garlic bulb).  The carrots didn't get very long - now I know I have to "fluff" the soil much deeper for them.  We got a little bit of lettuce, but it got too hot and it bolted....the broccoli looked promising, then it bolted.  We did get about 1/2 pound of red new potatoes (YUM) and one yellow squash so far....we have been getting a cucumber about every 3 to 4 days now for a couple of weeks and just enough tomatoes to have some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers for dinner with a enough left over to have for lunch the next day.  The peppers have just started blooming, so I am hoping to get some in the next few weeks.

So, step by little step, we are getting there.  I am very proud of one thing this year - everything in the garden was planted by seed directly into the beds and they grew.  That is a major accomplishment for me - no seed starting indoors (can't get past the damping off), no nursery transplants...I just wish we could grow enough to save it for later use - you know, enough to can something!!  But we will get there.

The thing that prompted this whole thought process, and post, is the current book I am reading.  "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.  I am sure most, if not all, of you have already read it - remember, I am a homesteading newbie!!!  I found it amazing what they were able to do in one year - and even their children got involved!!  I am in awe...

There is nothing I would like better than to quit my job and do this homesteading stuff full time.  But that is not practical, so all I can do is take it in pieces...add a little here and there....over the winter, I learned to make my own butter, and bake bread.  Two things I never even thought to try myself.  Then we added the vegetable garden....we are getting there.  In the spring, we planted blueberry bushes and added chickens to the mix.  I am not sure what the next step will be....a pig maybe?  We are extremely fond of all things pork :-)

I think a "thank you" is in order to all of you for cheering me on, commiserating with me, and letting me share in your successes and failures.  You are all an inspiration to me and you keep me on the right track every time I think I have gone batty and should step off this homestead train. 

P.S.  STILL no eggs....but I keep hoping :-)

Friday, August 12, 2011

O M G

We

got

R A I N !!

For almost an hour now!

Wahooooo-ey!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tidbit Tuesdays

  • Remember the rain we were supposed to get?  Yup....not sure where it went, but it was not here.
  • Oh, and remember how we were supposed to move into a rainy trend?  Yup...not sure where it is going, but it is not here.  Sunday is our next significant chance of rain....
  • Oh, remember how I said I was going to try to be more UPbeat?  Yup....not happening....sorry.
  • Eggs??  Anyone???  Not yet....
  • Hope you're having a better Tidbit Tuesday that I am!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sorry about my lack of posts....this weather has really gotten to me.  I feel like it is winter being cooped up.  And to add insult to injury, the central air in our home broke down on Wednesday at high noon!  Wow - did it get hot inside!!  Luckily, I had vaguely remembered signing up for a home buyer's protection plan when we bought the house 3 years ago.  Turns out we did - for an extra 60 months.  Woo hoo!  We only had to pay the deductible ($100) and the guy came at 6PM and was able to fix it then and there.  YAY!!  So, by then it was 91F INSIDE....took 2 hours of continuous running to bring it back down to 74F, where we usually keep it.

The chickens are handling the heat quite well, I must say.  Although it probably helps to put big ice chunks in their waterer :-)  Still no eggs yet....

We have been able to harvest a little bit from the vegetable garden - 5 cucumbers, about a dozen tomatoes (Romas and cherry) and some tiny carrots - and we have a couple of yellow squashes that should be ready today or tomorrow.  OH!  And I threw some cantaloupe seeds into the compost bin and guess what they did?  They sprouted :-)  So we have beautiful cantaloupe plants growing in the compost bin LOL!  I am going to leave them there and see what they do.  There are even a few flowers on them already. 

I am trying hard to keep my head above water, so to speak.  Trying to look at the good instead of obsessing about the bad....it's hard to do!  Anyway, we are supposed to be in a streak of rain for the next week - anywhere from a 30% chance each day, to 60% (over the weekend - go figure!  Ooops - sorry...try to be UPbeat....).  Temps should be in the upper 80s to lower 90s, so we will get a little relief.  At this point, I will take it!!

I know a lot of us are in this same boat right now - which is pretty amazing given we are scattered around the country.  I hope this is not trending to be the norm - if it is, that is all the more reason to learn self-sufficiency, even on a small scale.  I am determined to learn how for me and my husband.  And any other family or friends who may need it.  We have always had an "open door" policy for those we love.  No matter what happens, they always have a place to go.  If we don't have room, we will make room.

Ok, now that I am rambling, I will wrap this up with a shot of some of our "bounty":


Stay cool!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Doing the squat!

Loretta just did "the squat"!!!!  Eggs soon!!!  Yippee!!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Milestone

Today, my beautiful daughter turns 20!!  How did that happen?!!?  Two decades?!?!  She was just a little peanut all those years ago...8 weeks premature....would never know it looking at her now!!



Happy Birthday B!!!  I love you with all my heart!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

H O T

The dogs are hot.
The cats are hot.
The chickens are hot.
I am hot.  (well, not really...not that way, anyway...)

That sums it up fairly well.

P.S.  OH!  It's going to be even HOTTER tomorrow.....Calgon!!  Take me away!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • If 88F feels like 94F, then why don't we just say it is 94F outside????
  • The puppy dogs really miss playing outside...when it's hot like this, they get to out to do their business and then it's back into the A/C!
  • Eggs????  Anyone????  Not yet :-(  However, I do think they are practicing their egg song...or I could just be hearing things....
  • Feels like winter - being cooped up inside and dreading having to go outside
  • Been doing A LOT of reading (you can tell if you look at my Books page)
  • When is our government going to do the right thing - like the rest of us are expected to do....and keep our economy from tanking worse than it already is?
  • Stay cool and drink plenty of liquids (up to you whether they are of the" adult beverage" variety!!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dear....

Dear Mother Nature,

It is 7PM and the temperature is still 91F.  We do our best to honor you by planting flower and vegetable gardens, raise livestock and try to keep our lands as natural as we can.  And you repay us by keeping us in a stewpot hovering around 100F for days.  Thank you very much.  But if this is how you thank us for honoring you and nature, then I think we may just have to raze our land and put up a parking lot!

My wildflowers have up and died - how do WILDflowers die?  They get baked in the gawd awful heat and throw up the white flag.

The vegetable garden is hanging on by a thread because we water the snot out of it every night for 20 - 30 minutes.  We will be lucky to have the tomatoes ripen so we can have a meager harvest.  Not sure the squash is going to make it...I am holding out hope for the carrots though since they are UNDER the ground.

We have to fill the pool every day - why?  The temps are so high that the water just plain evaporates.  But the forager bees are having a ball drinking the water and keeping us from being able to get in the pool to try to cool off.

So any time you are done playing your little game with us lowly humans, we would appreciate you taking the cover off and turning the heat setting down to at least a low simmer.

Sincerely,

Broken Road Farm
(or maybe we should rename it to Blazing Road Farm....or Boiling Road Farm...I'm open to suggestions!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday

  • Don't you just love that I started Tidbit Tuesdays and then haven't done one in weeks?!
  • The commute to the big city really takes a lot out of you
  • We got RAIN!!!
  • Going back up to 96F the end of this week with a heat index of 105F+....Pwwaaahhhhttthhhh
  • The girls are 18 weeks now - eggs anyone?!?!  Anyone??!?!  Not yet...
  • Our dogs are itching themselves to death having the A/C running non-stop for the past month.  No bugs - just bad dan-dwoofies!  (You'll figure it out!)
  • Hope you all had a super day!   I am going to go crash now....

Monday, July 18, 2011

What did we do this weekend, you ask?

My husband played with his toys:


While I watched from a safe distance!


I did help move the branches into a pile and load the logs onto the wagon - well, until they got too heavy for me....which was quite a few of them.  It was a rather large tree we had to take down!  Firewood for next year :-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Am I Doing This?

I have recently been reading a new blog - well, it is new to me - by Small Farm Girl.  As I usually do when reading a new blog, I start from the beginning.  In one of her older posts, she asks why each of her followers blogs....so...why do I blog?

At first, it started out as a way to get through the winter....not one of my best times of the year.  The shorter days, cold weather, wind and snow are not fun for me.  Even though I grew up in the Northeast, I never "got used to it" - and now that I live in the "South", I was hoping I would not have those things anymore...but alas, we still get cold weather, wind and snow.  Just not to the extreme that we did up north.

As I continued to blog, I thought, hey - maybe the journey and struggles we have endured, I mean encountered, may help someone else who is doing the same thing or thinking about it.  So, I keep blogging.  There are a lot of differences between living in the "big city" and now being out in the country.  Let me illustrate for those of you who may only have the knowledge of one and not the other.

Living in the City
  • When you move into your house, the electric, water and natural gas are already turned on and ready to go
  • There is already landscaping around your home (probably not much, but it is there)
  • You have grass in the yard
  • Your home has been treated for bugs (termites, etc.)
  • The only bugs you have to deal with are ants, mosquitoes and Japanese beetles (in the Spring)
  • You have a driveway
  • Your mailbox is about 30 feet from your front door
Living in the Country
  • You have to drill the well, have the septic tank and leach field installed and jump through hoops to get your house the way the county wants it so they will give the approval for the power company to come out and turn on the electric (we were on a generator for 7 weeks!!) - what did we need?  Gutters....really?!?! Yes...
  • There is no landscaping - other than the woods; no grass, just mud everywhere whenever it rains
  • There are BUGS - every kind you can conceivably imagine, and then some!  I swear we find a new kind every day!
  • There is no driveway - and when you do put down the gravel to make one, it disappears the following winter/spring because it sinks into the mud when you drive on it - you have to keep putting down dump truck loads for 3 years before it finally stays on the surface!  Which is why I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee with 4-wheel drive :-)
  • Your mailbox is 1,200 feet round trip - that's almost a quarter of a mile!
These are just a few things that come to mind immediately.  There are a bunch more, believe me...but, there are some things you can only have in the country - peace and quiet (no cars speeding by with their music blaring, no kids screaming and riding their bikes on your lawn), stars in the sky at night (it's DARK out in the country at night), chickens in your backyard, a vegetable garden (or at least the semblance of one) and a 24-ft. above-ground pool in your front yard!

So, for those who wish they could live in the country, I wish you luck in achieving your dream.  For those of us who are already there,  isn't it great?!?!?!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Random Update

I know I don't usually post pictures, but today I will :-)

My husband cut down the saplings and branches that impeded my view of the chickens from the back porch.

Black-eyed Susans in full swing!

Lettuce from the garden and wild black raspberries from the hill.
Our backyard when we moved here in July 2008.
Our backyard 3 years later - July 2011.
Visitor to our backyard last week.
And last but not least, my Jello Flag cake that I make
for Memorial Day and Independence Day each year - YUMMY!
The top two rows of blueberries are from our blueberry bushes.  That was all that was left after we ate them as fast as we picked them :-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holiday Weekend/Vacation Day Update

Wow...holiday weekends really throw your sense of timing off, don't they?  Add to that a vacation day tacked to the end of the holiday weekend and BLAM!  Where did the time go?

Saturday, we did some stuff outside - until it got so blasted hot we had to quit and jump in the pool for fear of heat exhaustion!  My husband had a big piece of dirt digging equipment dropped off at the house, so he played with that most of the day.  You know, knocking down trees, picking them up and throwing them around, digging into the hillside, moving the dirt somewhere else.  It's like a REALLY BIG Tonka toy :-)  I weeded the vegetable garden, dug up all the onions and garlic that had no tops left - big disappointment.  Neither really seemed to grow much....guess I need to read up some more on how to get those to grow BIG.  The tomatoes are coming along and we have a stalk of broccoli sticking out.  The lettuce has finally decided to bolt, and the tops of the carrots are huge!  Wonder how much is going on underground...this is the first time I have tried to grow carrots.  I have a hard time with the things that grow below the surface - you can't see what is happening!!

Sunday, it was blazing hot again, so, much of our time was spent inside in the a/c.  Watching TV, reading, surfing the net, etc.

Monday, my husband slow-cooked a pork shoulder in the crock pot with his homemade BBQ sauce - Oh My Gosh!!!  Scrumptious!  And I made my Jello Flag Cake that I make every year - a big hit in my family.  That night, we lit off fireworks - the dogs barked and barked (they really do not like loud bang sounds), an errant firework almost killed me - but I survived by screaming my head off and running away without even spilling a drop of my wine, thank you very much - and the next morning the chickens were still alive when I went down to let them out.  All in all, a very nice weekend.

Oh - wait!  There was one more day to that long weekend :-)  Tuesday, we both took a vacation day.  Since we had such a fun filled, action packed weekend, we decided to slow it down for a day.  We hopped in the Jeep around 10:30 AM, took off, found a road we had not traveled before and just kept driving.  There really is a lot of pretty farm country around us.  We kept taking back roads - if the road we were on had lines painted on it, we made sure to turn onto one that did not - and gravel roads and just admired everything.  This is much easier now that GPS units have been invented to get you back home :-)  Otherwise I would have been a panicked mess trying to keep up with all the turns and roads to make sure we could get back!  Anyway, we ended up in Virginia in a little town called Meadows of Dan, where we stopped at a small restaurant and had an AWESOME lunch.  We got back home around 2PM and slacked off the rest of the day.  It was a vacation day well spent - sometimes you get so bogged down in all the stuff you need to get done around the homestead that you forget there are some pretty nice places to visit off the homestead.

I hope you all had a fabulous Fourth, and are enjoying the "short week"!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Happy Birthday United States of America! 

Land of the free - home of the brave! 


I am proud to be an American!

Thank you to all of our military who secures that freedom for us every day,

And to their families, who support their decision to keep us free!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cat Burglar

There is a thief among us.....her name.....is Zoe:



Mild-mannered house cat by day....but lock up your bratwurst everyone!!  It isn't safe while Zoe is on the prowl!!

Last night, we decided to have some brats on the grill for dinner.  Then my daughter and her fiance called to see what we were doing and to ask if they could come over and hang out for a while.  I told them we were starting the grill for brats and/or hot dogs and to come on over.

When everyone was done eating, the remaining brats and dogs were on a plate on the kitchen table.  Next thing we knew, we heard a loud THUD - which is indicative of a cat jumping off a high surface such as the counter top or table.  Of which, our cats are allowed on NEITHER.  My husband says "Uh oh...I forgot about Zoe and brats..."

Huh?!!?  Apparently, Zoe has an affinity for bratwurst.  Loves the stuff!  Will scale the tallest mountain if she smells brats on the top!  She made it as far as the end of the table when she came face to face with the dreaded SPRAY BOTTLE!  She dropped that brat so fast and was gone in a blur of black fluff.

A cat who loves brats - what will we encounter next?!?!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bugged

I don't know if it was because of all the rain we had this spring, or the cooler weather we had during that time, but there is a proliferation of BUGS this year.  Since we moved from the big city, out into the country, I definitely noticed an increase in the amount of bugs.  Not only that, but the number of different bugs we encounter here is significantly higher than anything we saw in the city.

One of the big differences, I am certain, is the amount of wooded acreage we now have.  We live on 10.25 acres - approximately 8 - 8.5 of that is woods.  As such, there are a lot of spiders, bees, wasps, hornets, flies, mosquitoes, worm thingies hanging from the tree branches, as well as beetles, aphids, moths, snails, slugs, and, oh....CHIGGERS.  O-M-G!!!  These little buggers are horrible!!  They are so tiny, you can only see them when you are wearing a white tee shirt.  And when they crawl over your skin, it feels like they are just biting their way over you.  And let me tell you - when they do bite you, look out!  Well, they don't actually "bite" or "sting" you - they feed off you.  GROSS!  And it takes WEEKS, yes weeks, for the bites to go away or even to stop itching.  And the itch is so intense, you want to remove the body part that has the bite.  Where do they bite?  The tenderest, warmest skin it can find - most times when it encounters an obstruction, like an elastic band....you know what I mean...nice, huh?!?!

I have done a lot of research on these minute, dastardly creatures.  And there is a plethora of information out there about how they feed and why the "bites" are so hideously itchy and painful!  But what I cannot seem to find, is how to control them.  Or better yet, eradicate them!  Everything I have read says they are mainly found in high grasses.  So, in a field, yes.  I understand that.  But, we seem to find most of them in our front yard where there is NO high grass - hmmm.....the articles also say that they seem to congregate in one area, so if they are bothering you, just move somewhere else - problem solved!  NOT.

We do not go outside without covering ourselves, head to toe, with 40% Deet.  Anything less is like candy to them.  Even with the high test spray, we still get munched on.  Maybe not as much, but it still happens.  And we can't spray that stuff on the dogs, so they have no protection other than the flea treatment they get every three weeks in the warmer weather (we continue to do it every four weeks through the winter as well).  On top of that, I carry one of those Off fans they came out with last year as added protection....yah....right....

So, after months of getting literally eaten alive - both me and my husband - and the poor dogs - we decided we had to do SOMETHING.  So, I admit it - we took the so-non-homesteady route in the hopes of getting some control over our yard.  Hey - if they want to live in the 8 wooded acres, fine by me.  But the couple of acres surrounding our house, yard and pool - that is now OFF LIMITS!  Hopefully, this will help.

As I sit here itching just from writing about it, I am hopeful that having the chickens here next spring, before the insect population has a chance to explode, will help.  We did not get them until the middle of May, after everything had a chance to reproduce in extreme quantities.

I wish we could have found an organic solution.  There may be one out there yet - I keep looking as I am not a big fan of chemicals and pesticides either.  Especially with our pets and now the chickens.  But, by the same token, I am not ready to sacrifice my skin to these creatures any longer.