Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Really Need To...

Get better about posting...just have a lot of stuff going on personally.  And I try not to put the personal stuff on my blog.  Hoping to have most of it ironed out soon.

Still making butter, now add buttermilk dressing as well.  I made my first batch a week ago and, like the butter, my husband does not want to purchase it from the store anymore - he wants me to make it :-)

Running out of wood for the stove...this winter has, oh let me try to find the right word...SUCKED.  Moving along now...

Chickens started laying at the beginning of the year, but the weather has been so CRAPPY, we are only getting ONE egg, every OTHER day, from FOUR hens...

Went to Tractor Supply a week ago, to get more chicken feed (they sure can eat, but they aren't laying) and guess what was there...a HUGE garden display right when you walked in the door, oh and then, in the back, all set up as pretty as you please, the Chick Days display with all things chicky and cute and fluffy and cuddly...sigh...

Hope everyone is making through this LONG winter okay!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Our first egg since October 15th!!!  Wow...have we ever missed these!  Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for the new year!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stick a Fork in Me...

I'm done.

I woke up this morning to some news that has me speechless.  For the past four years, we have struggled...and cannot seem to get ahead.  Now, we have four more of the same kind of years in front of us.  Not sure we will come out on the other side in one piece.

Even as I feel my spirits spiraling downward, I think I am more determined than ever to make this a "true" homestead.  Unfortunately, I think it will be more out of necessity than dreams coming true...

The girls are still going through their molt.  Emmy Lou seems to be coming out of it - she now has some new tail feathers.  The others are still looking pretty ragged.  I hope Emmy Lou is about done - we sure miss those eggs!!

I will try to keep my head up and plow onward.  I hope you are all able to do the same.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Of Fall, Falling and Sandy

Fall has finally arrived this week.  The temperatures have fallen significantly.  The chickens have been molting for about two weeks now...we are seriously missing those fresh eggs everyday :-(

About a month ago, I fell down the back steps one morning when I was going down to let the chickens out.  What a wake-up call that was!  It happened so fast, and yet in slow motion.  When it was over, I was able to stand up, but ohhhhh the pain!  I had bruises and scrapes from my shoulder blades to my lower back (which took the brunt of the fall along with my tailbone).  I went to the doctor the next day to have x-rays taken and make sure I did not break anything.  Luckily, I didn't.  Just very bruised.  A month later and things are better, the scrapes and bruises are gone, but I still feel it in my lower back and my tailbone still hurts.

My husband has redesigned and rebuilt the log splitter so it will work more efficiently.  He is almost done and hopefully we will be able to start using it this coming weekend.  We have plenty of wood for this winter (we split it all last year); but we need to get next year's wood ready now.  We still only have about $300 into it...much better than the thousands they want in the stores!

Hopefully, all of you are okay who were in the path of Sandy.  We were on the outer fringes of it and sustained a lot of wind and a little rain.  Some gusts were pretty strong - I would guess 50 mph, maybe higher.  As a matter of fact, we had just covered the greenhouse for the winter last Saturday and Monday, Sandy decided to whip the plastic off the poor little bean, potato and broccoli plants got blown around.  But we were able to get it back on that evening when my husband got home from work.  Other than that, we have a lot of leaves on the ground and maybe lost a couple trees in the woods, but nothing near the house or yard.  And we did not lose power.  We were lucky.

We have fired up the woodstove a few times now as the nights have been dipping down into the 30s.  This weekend we may have a night or two in the's too early for this!!!!

So, between the above, squeezing in a couple of last camping trips for the year, and the everyday crap that comes with working off the homestead, we have been keeping busy and hanging in there.  I hope you are as well.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Still Around

Nothing much going on...still hot....rain is intermittent...

Gardens are done - couldn't take the heat.  I planted a new round of beans (yellow this time)...the deer ate them...the only thing that grows now are the weeds.

Still commuting for work...getting really old after four years now.

Chickens are still giving us eggs...and we are grateful for them.

Planning our next camping trip...have learned not to do these during the summer.  Hopefully in September....

Hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The devil called...

He wants his weather back.  And he can have it!!  Wow, I cannot believe we made it through two weeks of near/over 100 degree temps - that is actual temps folks, not heat indices...those were close to 110!

Needless to say, the gardens are pretty much decimated.  It is near impossible to keep them watered when the water evaporates as it comes out of the hose.  Although our tomatoes are ripening quickly now and we have probably pulled close to 6 or 7 pounds in the last week.  The peppers are nearing harvest time as well - though I got impatient and cut a couple - my husband said too soon!  I said, poppy cock!  We shall see when we slice them open and put them on our salads this week.

The chickens have been producing right along - we are back up to three eggs a day for the most part.  I have added our monthly egg counts to the main page so we can track their production.  Let me tell you - they did NOT like the heat.  But I did what I could for them.  I froze water in large yogurt containers and put them in bowls for them to melt for added cooler water.  We also have a large juice container that we saved and filled with water to freeze - redneck air conditioning is what we call it!  At night, we would put the frozen jug inside the coop and it really did keep it cooler for them overnight (especially since we insulated the coop when we built it).  In the morning, we put it back in the freezer so it is ready for the next night.

This week, the heat has broken - FINALLY.  Our temps dropped Sunday night as a front pushed through and we are now in the 80s during the day and upper 60s at night.  We are also getting some RAIN.  I will take it this week - the last two weeks have been brutal and I hope that is it for this summer.  We went camping over the holiday and it was miserable for all - dogs included.  They spent most of the time in the camper with the A/C on.  Thank goodness we have it!!  It was a chore to cook outside on the fire, and we ate all of our meals inside the camper as it was just too blasted hot.  So we have resolved that we will NOT camp during the months of July and August.  It was great to get away, and sleep late in the mornings (you know, 7AM....instead of 6!!)...but we couldn't do anything during the day, except sweat!

Hope everyone is getting a reprieve from the heat and receiving some welcomed rain.  Have a great day!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beat the Heat

Here is our forecast for the next few days:

Thursday -  High 96F / Low 66F; Chance of rain - Zero
Friday -      High 103F / Low 72F; Chance of rain - 10%
Saturday -   High 104F / Low 73F; Chance of rain - 10%
Sunday -     High 102F / Low 73F; Chance of rain - 20%
Monday -    High 101F / Low 70F; Chance of rain - 10%
Tuesday -    High 98F / Low 71F; Chance of rain - 10%

Is that CRAZY or what!?!?  We do not have a measurable chance of rain until July 4th and even then it will only be a 30% chance.

So, this week I started making blocks of ice by freezing water in the large yogurt containers I save from the store (you know - the poor woman's Tupperware!). We can put them in the chicken's waterer, in the pool to cool it down so it can feel refreshing instead of like bathwater, and worst case scenario, if we lose power from everyone's air conditioning running full tilt, 24 hours a day, it will help keep the freezers cold so we don't lose any food in them....I hope...fingers crossed!

Eggs are still on the light side - but I really have nothing to compare it to as they didn't start laying until the end of summer last year.  But it still seems like we were getting the same amount of eggs from them over the winter as we are now.  I guess it is the sudden heat wave.  I have been tracking egg output and here is what we have so far:

January 2012 - 49 eggs / average per day 1.6
February - 49 eggs / average 1.7
March - 76 eggs / average 2.4 (nice jump!)
April - 79 eggs / average 2.5 (consistent!)
May - 81 eggs / average2.6 (creeping up!)
June - so far 63 in 27 days / average so far 2.3 - see what I mean???

Now, in March, we did find where one of the four was "hiding" her eggs in the coop - she would lay it on the other side of the coop and then cover it up with the pine shavings.  When we discovered her stash while cleaning out the coop, we found a clutch of 10 eggs!  She was not broody - never sat on them all day - just hiding them...which I guess would be instinctive in the wild.  We were able to break her of the habit and I wondered if maybe she was doing it again with the counts dropping off.  But I moved all the shavings around in the coop and found no egg stash...and there are days where we will get 3 eggs (from 4 hens) so they do not have worms.  I am out of ideas...

Picked another cucumber and yellow squash; dug up one more potato I missed; planted some more; planted my yellow beans; got a few cherry tomatoes off the vine...we received some advice on the blossom end rot on our regular tomatoes.  My father-in-law said to stop watering them - only water them when they start to wilt.  So, we will try that.  Although I am not certain this is the weekend to start that routine!!

I hope everyone stays cool!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Time Flies

Time just keeps getting away from me!!  But we have been busy...and that always seems to make time fly even faster.

The garden is doing pretty well - we have already pulled about 4 cups of green beans, 3 yellow squash and 2 cucumbers.  The tomatoes are starting to ripen - but some are also showing the blossom end rot.  We have been watering every day if it does not rain, as they say irregular watering is one of the main causes of blossom end rot.  So we are not sure why some of the fruit is doing that.  I was thinking of trying some Epsom salts (a family member of ours swears by it for their tomatoes).  Have any of you tried it?  Successful or not?

Our peppers are getting big - about the size of baseballs.  We should be picking them in about a week or so.  This past weekend I dug about six pounds of red potatoes out of the ground.  We had them for breakfast (homefries) and cooked in foil on the grill with onions - delish!!  Here is how we do it:

Take two sheets of foil and lay them out like a cross (so you have double thickness).  Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in the middle of the cross of foil.  Slice up some onions and add to the pile.  Season with your favorite seasoning - we used seasoning salt, garlic powder, black pepper and paprika.  Add a dollop of butter and some ice cubes - depending on the size of your packet, add 1/2 - 1 dozen ice cubes.  Fold up the first layer of foil to seal (down the middle first, then curl in the sides), then the second layer the same way (that way you end up the middle seals going opposite directions for a better seal).  Set on the grill over medium coals for 10 - 20 minutes, depending on how large the packet is.  Be careful when you open it!!!  There will be a lot of steam trying to get out.  But the potatoes come out cooked to perfection and oh so yummy!  This is a variation of a recipe we use when we go camping.  We add a chicken breast to the bottom before putting the potatoes and everything else on.  You have to make the sheets bigger too.  Then we cook it over medium coals for about 25 - 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breast.  A quick meal that tastes great and no cleanup - the foil goes in the trash :-)

The weather is finally heating up - no more open windows.  As a matter of fact, the forecast for this weekend is 101F on Friday, and 100F on Saturday and Sunday.  I hope it is just for this one weekend!!

Stay cool and have a super day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday

  • It is June, and today I have the windows open and it is only 75F outside - nice!
  • I may have found a cure for the itch of chigger bites - diatomaceous earth!  Rub a little on the bite (as long as it is not dug open) and in about 5 minutes, the itch dies down - I have to reapply about 5 hours later, but for those of us who have suffered from these bites, 5 hours is a L-O-N-G time to not itch one!
  • I have had my chickens for over a year now - where did the time go??

Hope everyone has a super day!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Out of Hibernation has been a VERY LONG TIME since I last posted.  As I said in my previous post, we have had a lot of things going on.  So, time for an update (warning - not everything is homestead-y in nature):

At the start of the New Year, my daughter's long engagement ended and she moved back home.  There was an adjustment period for everyone and now things are much better.  As a result of all the stress during that time, she had some health problems that required doctors, hospitals, and tests.  For now things are quiet and we hope they will remain that way as long as she takes care of herself.

Winter was not as bad as the previous year, but, since we didn't have any "killing freezes", the result is a PLETHORA of bugs now.  Everything was able to over-winter so there is an abundance of every kind of bug imaginable!  The chickens seemed to weather the cold well - I was nervous as this was their first winter.  We still averaged about 2 eggs a day (from 4 chickens) throughout the winter months.  We decided not to use supplemental light in the coop as Mother Nature has a reason for the slower egg production in the winter to give their little bodies a chance to rejuvenate.  Now, we are back up to about 3 eggs a day, with the occasional one egg instead.  There have only been two instances of "overnight laying" where the egg was on the floor of the coop in the morning when I went down to let them out for the day.  They were both fully formed, just very thin-shelled and no color on the shell.  So those got thrown out into the woods.  Emmy Lou appeared to have a broken beak about a month ago - not sure how she did it.  But we figured one of two things would happen - a) she would be unable to eat and would have to go to freezer camp, or b) it would heal and all would be fine.  It took about 4 days, but she was able to eat and had no other changes in her behavior and has now made a full recovery.  Keep in mind please - the chickens are livestock, not pets.  There was no question that we would not be taking her to the vet.  There would not have been anything they could do anyway - it's not like you can splint a broken beak.  But as I said, all is fine now.

At the beginning of April, we had to put one of our cats down.  Princess was 19 years old and was not doing well.  When we took her in to be put down, the vet said her kidneys had already failed and that we were making the right decision.  We knew in our hearts that it was, as she had started suffering, but it is still never easy.  So now she is with Tessa and hopefully the two are having a grand ole time!

My daughter graduated with her associate's degree in May and we had a party for her and a few of her close friends here at the house.  My husband made an octagonal picnic table for the party and it will be handy in the days to come.  We removed the spa that we only used once from the back patio and put the table there instead.  It looks fabulous!

My husband has re-engineered the log splitter and is currently rebuilding it.  The I-beam he used the first time was not as thick, so when a tough log was being split, the end would twist and pop like it was going to break, causing me serious heart palpitations each time it happened!  The new I-beam is about twice as thick and will solve that problem.  And my husband is having a ball with the all welding he has to do to put everything back on it - engine, pump, hydraulic oil tank, etc.

The garden is growing in leaps and bounds this year.  We have already harvested our first green beans and one yellow squash.  We have "tomato trees" - they are almost six feet tall!  There are tomatoes already on them - some are already the size of baseballs!  I had tried carrots again, and was disappointed in their size after two months in the ground.  I don't think I will do them anymore.  Our potato plants are HUGE!  I have to figure out another way to grow them instead of in the raised beds.  You can't pile dirt high enough when the plant is two feet tall.  I had planted some tomatoes from seed and they are doing well.  Then we also planted some starts from the local nursery and they really took off.  We also planted 3 kinds of pepper plants and they seem to be doing well.  I planted green beans, yellow squash and lettuce from seed, and onion and garlic sets - all are coming up grandly.  We have 3 beds - in one, I put the "used" bedding from the chicken coop and let it sit for two months.  Seems to be working well.  Another, I used the leaf litter from the chicken run as a mulch and it has really kept the weeds down except along the edges where grass is just starting to come through.  The last bed, my husband put black cow and 10-10-10 and that is where we have the "tomato trees".  All three methods seem to work - I guess we will know which is best when the vegetables come in.

This spring we bought a camper - 1992 Jayco 25 ft.  We only had to make some minor repairs to it and have already taken two camping trips with it.  So much nicer than tents and tarps!  It has a/c and heat, gas stove and oven, microwave, stereo and a bathroom with a very small shower, but at least we do not have the use the "community" showers at the campgrounds.  The first trip was to Bassett, VA - Philpott Lake in April.  The last trip was to Wilkesboro, NC - Fort Hamby on Kerr Scott Reservoir in May.  So much easier to load up and go!

So, we have been busy...lots going on...and I think I have finally found my desire to write again.  I hope you all made it through the winter and spring so far without any major headaches or heartaches.  Thank you for being patient with me!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Thanks ADoC for the nudge to let me know it has been a long time since I posted anything. Wow! A month has gone by?!

Not much has been going on from a homesteading perspective...still making butter...chickens are still giving us an average of 2 eggs a day (from 4 of them)...cutting and splitting wood when we can...

On the personal front, there has been a lot going on. Which is why I have not been posting much. Everything is okay, just plugging away and trying to keep my head above water. Sometimes, life happens.

The weather here has been its usual roller coaster. One day it is 60F, the next it is 30. We had our first snow event last Sunday. Ended up with almost 6 inches....YUCK! But the next couple of days it got up into the 50s, so it is now history. Today, it is supposed to be 73F. Screwy really....

Since it is the new year, my boss has not been traveling much yet, so I have been making the commute to the big city twice a week.

Hope all is well with I have to catch up on a month's worth of posts on YOUR blogs! Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Whiny Wednesday

  • More rain coming tomorrow night and Friday?!?!  Ughh....
  • The chicken run will NEVER dry out!
  • January is almost gone already....
  • Why can't the media report more happy stories than awful ones ( may change people's moods for the better - oh the horror!)
Hope everyone had a super day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday

Haven't done one of these in a while :-)
  • Really going through the wood now!!  High temps in the upper 30s and low 40s with no sun, lots of rain...very damp & dreary!
  • Still getting an average of 2 eggs a day from 4 hens - noticed the increase when we starting giving them our leftovers and oatmeal with buttermilk for breakfast...
  • Now I know what to do with the buttermilk left over when I make butter!!  Never dawned on me to give it to the chickens...until I read it in my Encyclopedia of Country Living!
  • Still making butter, a year later :-)  My husband loves it so much he will not buy it from the grocery store anymore.
  • Are we really and truly going to see the sun today?!?!  60F for the high?!?!  I'll believe it when I see it...
  • No commute this week - boss is out of town so I get to work from home all week - YIPPEE!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Whiny Wednesday

  • What's up with the WIND?!?!
  • Is going to be warm or cold - please make a decision....60 yesterday...40s today...almost 70 this weekend?!?!
  • Social media - love it or hate it?  Right now I am hating it...well, hate may be too strong a word...intensely disliking may be better.  (Stepping up on my soapbox now)  I think I understand the need for social media - it is a fantastic way to keep up to date with the goings on of the people in your life that you may not have the chance to interact with on a regular basis - they live really far away, they work opposite hours of yours, etc. However, there are some people out there who can't seem to help themselves and take it to the extreme.  They use it as their personal mountaintop on which they can climb and scream it out for the whole world to hear, whether anyone wants to hear it or not.  If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you will notice that I do not post every day...well, same could be said for my blog!!!   Anyway, I am not the kind of person who puts it all out there for the whole world to know.  I am a rather private person - and I recognize that some are not like that.  But do you really need to put everyone's personal stuff out there when they didn't even put it on their own page?  I guess I just don't understand the need to be knee-deep in drama, every minute, of every hour, of every day.  Or the need to stick my nose in everyone else's drama if I don't have any of my own at the moment.  Believe me, I have enough going on in my life right now that I don't need to add anyone else's crap to the list.  I just wish they would be a little more sensitive to their "friends" and show a little self-restraint and manners before broadcasting something that is not theirs to share.  Ok - I am done (stepping down off soapbox now).
Hope everyone has a super day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Whiny Wednesday

Better late than never!!
  • Rained Monday....raining again all day today....glad it isn't cold enough to snow!!
  • Dinner menus are getting monotonous...same ole thing week after week...
  • Finally got the greenhouse covered a week ago...have I planted anything in it?  NOT!  No time...
  • Wish my vacation lasted longer...
  • Has anyone else had a problem with their banner picture not showing up correctly??  I gave up and just removed it.
  • We only got 3 eggs today - WHA?!  3 eggs from 4 chickens?!?!  In January?!?!  Not really a whine :-)
Hope you are all having a super day!