Livin the Homegrown High Life

The New Wish Book: Grit Magazine

Jessica headshotI haven’t written in forever it seems.  My usual excuse….we’ve been busy.  It’s no excuse for not writing but it’s the only one I have!  I have plenty to share so you’ll be seeing a variety of topics in the near future.  Just a teaser…we scalded and scraped our hogs, OH MY!! 

I figured a perfect return topic would be exactly what my title says. The New Wish Book:  Grit Magazine.  The girls still enjoy looking at the ToysRUs book at Christmas time but every month they are more excited to see Grit in the mail.  Even before I get to look at it the oldest is paging through with her sisters at her side, standing in the kitchen saying “Mom, look. Mom, we need this.  Mom, Dad could do that. Mom, you could do this.  Mom, we could do that.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom.”    

Hopefully the day comes that we can have our own farm and then the girls can have SOME of everything that they want.  We keep telling them to save their money, they are going to need it with the wish list they have.  So far here’s the list: 

  •  A Milk Cow – Regularly I joke that I need a cow because of the amount of milk they drink.  Aurora is the leader of this band wagon and the other morning when we ran out of milk (I was going to the store anyway) she argued that if we had the cow we wouldn’t have run into that problem.  She was as serious as serious could be. 
  • Goats – Eliza is behind this one.  She bought goat milk soap at the Mother Earth News Fair and loved it.  Seriously, the stuff is amazing and even Chad tells everyone that it is great.  Liza says that it would be a good thing for us to make and she read that the milk is good to drink.  We’ll be our own variety dairy mart with cow and goat milk! 
  • Lambs  
  • A Maple Sugar Camp  
  • More Chickens  
  • Bees – They aren’t fans of store bought honey. 
  • Turkeys – Royal Palms to be exact.   
  • More Hogs – They may get their wish on this one. 
  • Pheasants  
  • Our Own Cattle – They like the Highlands, Herefords, long horns, and short horns. Oh and don’t forget the miniature cattle too. 
  • A Bigger Garden – Apparently we didn’t plant enough cucumbers, lettuce, or turnips last year and we forgot the brussel sprouts and yellow squash.  The size of the garden is not a problem.  I could fix the cucumber and turnip issue without increasing the size of the garden.  They would have to quit eating them while they are picking them. 
  • Fruit Trees – We have crab apples and pears but they want big apples and oranges.  We can work on the apples but the oranges would take a miracle! 
  • Horses – Here again we have it down to certain breeds.  Belgians or black percherons.    

The list continues to grow every day.  We discuss each addition including things like the responsibilities, supplies, feed, and so on that is associated with owning whatever we are talking about and if need be, why it wouldn’t be possible to have it.  There’s no need to quickly reply no.  Who knows there might be two Belgians residing in the barn one day!   

Well I’m off to make some bread bowls for tonight’s asparagus soup.  We are also blessed with three girls that love to eat everything and anything and don’t have to have chicken nuggets in order to survive.  By the time they are teenagers and have *gasp* boyfriends, we will have to butcher 2 beef, 3 hogs, and a gazillion chickens!!  Have a great day! 

Not Always Sunshine and Roses

It’s been an interesting few days to say the least.  There is never a dull moment around here even if the girls whine on occasion that they are bored out of their minds!!  

 Henny Penny Houdini 

On a positive note the hens are laying like crazy. They are still obsessed with the first nesting box though.  A few of them use two and three but mostly they fight over one.  I think they are starting to take turns now that they are getting this laying thing down pat.  Henny Penny insists on laying her egg in the feed room though.  I may add Houdini to the end of her name considering that she manages to get out and back in without tearing anything down. We are up to a dozen eggs a day so far.  It seems like each day or so we add another egg to the daily count.  I even bought the girls one of the red wire baskets to collect the eggs in.  They are tickled pink and carry that basket faithfully even if they only bring in one egg during that particular egg checking run!!  Liza has become the egg warden.  She keeps track of how many eggs come in, inspects them, and then puts them in cartons and has them organized in the fridge by date.  It’s amazing that during school we struggle with math but when it comes to eggs both Eliza and Aurora can add in their heads without any hesitation.  The chickens may be of more help than just providing food!

 Awesome Homegrown Eggs 

So now I’ll move onto the not so positive yet enlightening happenings of the past few days.

Our beautiful garden looks like a train wreck.  I have absolutely no love for skunks or deer at the present moment.  Chad and the chickens are even in a little bit of hot water!  The skunks have been hanging around the house and have even so graciously sprayed the front door.  I would imagine Otis spooked them.  Yes, them. Plural.  Two to be exact.  For future reference you can throw fire crackers that only emit a seizure inducing light show out the door at them and they will run to the other side of the driveway while you grab the phone out of the rain that you left on the ledge…just saying.  We are going to battle out the rest of the gardening season but there will be some sort of fence put up around it next year.  We have also been battling a bit of blossom end rot.  I love the fact that we are learning so many new things that will only make our garden better next year.  Unless you have awesome, self-adjusting soil, it takes a little bit of effort to be able to grow a bountiful garden.  Calcium levels are important for preventing blossom end rot.  Too much or too little water can throw the levels off.  I have read that putting eggs shells in with the plants at planting time is a huge help.  We applied a commercial fertilizer that included calcium this year but next year the egg shells are going it.  We have also learned that while fertilizer is a good thing, it can also be a hindrance at the same time by producing huge plants with no yield.  Chad is a fertilizing maniac.  I’ve kept him at bay this year and I think it is helping a lot.  Over fertilizing can also affect the magnesium levels of pepper plants and keep them from producing.  So with those few tid bits in hand, it’s only August and I’m already planning for next spring!! 

 Garden Destruction 

Saving the worst for last, our pigs embraced the Chik-fil-A advertising campaign of Eat Mor Chikin.  Up until this past weekend the chickens have been confined to their coop and run.  Chad and I have discussed letting them out but we were concerned about Otis attacking them.  We finally said we would deal with Otis if it happened and left them out.  They were in bug eating heaven and Otis didn’t do a thing.  They were in the garden but the damage was already done.  Day 1 was awesome and we were so happy that we made the decision to let them out.  Day 2 went south.  The girls were staying with their Aunt and Uncle so Chad and I went out to do the chores and left the chickens out.  Then we headed down to the shed to change the oil in the big truck.  Chad forgot something up at the house so we ran back up.  He headed to the garage and I headed to the “barn.”  I could see two of the pigs dragging something and I thought maybe Chad had thrown in some weeds but then it hit me that he hadn’t. I ran over and sadly it was a dirt-laden barred rock.  I started screaming and ran for a stick and the pitch fork.  There was nothing that I could have done but I wanted to get it away from the pigs as quickly as possible.  I hopped the barbed wire fence and Chad came running with the shot gun.  After everything had settled down he said the way I was screaming he thought a coyote was after me!!  Needless to say, a pig will eat ANYTHING.  I did some research and they are classified as omnivores.  Under stress they will eat their young and feral hogs will eat the carcasses of dead animals.  The chicken was able to slip through the 4” x 4” squares of the pig fence.  We picked up some of the same fencing that we used on the chicken run and are going to put that around the pig fencing so that everyone can co-exist in harmony.  We stressed to the girls that it’s important not to be afraid of the pigs but at the same time they should not let their guard down.  An animal is an animal.  Same rules apply to the chickens and rabbits.

 Enjoying the Outdoors 

We’ve had some ups and downs but it’s all a learning experience.  I think that I say this in every closing but we love the choice that we made to have the animals and to get back to the basics.  The girls are learning so much about the animals, the garden, and life in general.  I had better get back to the kitchen.  There’s plenty of canning, freezing, and dehydrating to be done.  Until next time!!

 Digging for Potatoes 

A Little Heat, Some Hay, & Tractor Pulling

So I have started writing this about a hundred times over the past 4 weeks and never get past the first paragraph.  I am bound and determined to finish today.  I need to become more disciplined and write every week so that it isn’t a small novel when I do.  I feel like when the girls come home from somewhere that they have been without us and their mouths are running a mile a minute trying to tell us everything that they did or saw!!!

The weather has been interesting; it pretty much goes in hand with the winter that we just had.  Last week it was almost 100 degrees and you felt like you were going to die and this week it’s in the high 70’s.  We also experienced what we are certain was a mini tornado.  It managed to blow all of the screens out of our windows, move a pipe hay wagon through the field and into the middle of the road, push the windows out of the Allis, and blow our wood pile down through the driveway.  Amazingly it didn’t touch the coop or pig pen, the garden, or even move two little tables the girls had in the front yard.  Chad was holding on to one of our windows and said if one of the girls would have been by the window he has no doubt they would have went out.  Luckily we didn’t have any major damage.

Scattered Wood Pile 

Wood Blown Across County Road 

Our building projects for the past month have been the outside runs for the chickens and pigs.  Both were well overdue and were a great addition.  My great uncle had sent Chad a care package of old nails, hinges, and so forth which we were able to put to good use during this phase of “construction.”  The chickens made short work of the grass and congregate at the fence when Chad mows the yard because they know they are going to get some of the clippings.  They still enjoy being inside when it’s incredibly hot but everyone pours out as soon as it gets cooler and like clockwork, head back in when the sun is setting.  The pigs also enjoy being outside but unfortunately they can’t handle the sun and got sunburnt on day 2 of being out.  They have since learned to stay inside during the day and go out when it’s not so hot to play and even sleep under the stars now and then.

The Chicken Run

The Pig Run

Just as with the chickens, the pigs have also been a huge learning experience.  I went to feed one evening and it wasn’t too horribly hot but one of the smaller pigs wouldn’t get up but was breathing.  Everything stopped and all of our attention went to this guy.  Liza jumped right in and started scooped cool water on his ears and snout.  Luckily the air temperature was cooling as well and by morning he was considerably better.  We have since put in another fan and keep a portion of their floor muddy so that they can cover themselves in mud and cool down. 

The Pigs Working on Their Mud Hole

All’s quiet on the rabbit and broiler front.  No baby bunnies so apparently I separated them in time or they were too young.  That’s fine with me.  In the mix of things we didn’t need bunnies to contend with.  We butchered the second group of broilers on Sunday.  We decided that we would skin them this time since we don’t eat the skin anyway.   Everything went off without a hitch and we have a nice supply of vacuum sealed chicken in the freezer now.  I will probably get another batch in September when the weather is a little cooler.  The heat added about 2 weeks onto the time that we had to feed to broilers.  The heat also seemed to wreak havoc on their poop.  I added oregano to their diet and it cleared it up.  I think that an outdoor run will be put on the list of things to do for the future broilers as well.

I am happy to report that we are now collecting eggs from the four ladies that I purchased to replace the roosters that will be departing.  There aren’t enough words to describe the excitement when we found the first egg on the floor.  We quickly constructed the nesting boxes.  Chad had plans for, frankly I’m not sure how many, but a lot of nesting boxes. Thankfully I convinced him that they would pick probably one or two and only use them.  Of the four boxes, nesting box one is their favorite.  It won’t be too much longer and the rest of the hens should start to lay.  I hope they decide to utilize the rest of the boxes because I’m not sure one will hold 30+ eggs!!

The Nesting Boxes

Our garden is doing very well.  We have never had tomato or pepper plants grow like these.  This year Chad took a suggestion from an older gentleman to put peat moss in with the dirt when we planted plants and seeds.  He said that the peat moss would make the soil looser and allow the roots to grow and take a better hold.  If that is what made the difference it was a cheap way to have an awesome garden.  We have been enjoying lettuce, onions, and cucumbers so far.  I didn’t realize that the girls hadn’t eaten garden lettuce before since we have only planted tomatoes and peppers the past few years.  We have had creamed lettuce & onions every evening for supper and if Chad doesn’t pay attention he usually doesn’t get any!!  I think I’m going to venture into the world of pressure canning this year.  It’s a little intimidating but I think I can handle it.  I’m not sure what kind to get so if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear your thoughts. 

The Garden in July

We have also been up to our ears in hay which is another reason why I’m behind on writing.  Chad and I help his cousin as much as we can during the summer.  Last time I checked we were above 5000 bales but that has been awhile so it’s hard to tell now.  I do know that there will be about 5 wagons to unload this evening!!   Luckily his bales are short so they aren’t quite as hard for me to handle.  Listening to everyone tell stories about how they used to have to make hay makes me thankful for disc bines, hay tedders, & kick balers!!

Pulling the Hay Wagon  

Chad with the Mower 

The Hay Making Fleet

Eliza and Jorja did get to pull one time this year at a local festival.  They did a great job!  Eliza took 1st in the kids 850 class and a 2nd in the kids 950 class.  Jorja took 5th and 6th in those classes as well.  Liza also pulled in the adult 850 and 950 and took 5th in both of those.  As much as we love pulling we are still glad that we took a break from the traveling portion this year.  There are two more local pulls that the girls will pull at this year.  Both of them are evening pulls and the girls are excited because they will be able to run the blue LED lights that I Installed under their frame rails.

The Girls After the Pull 

 Jorja Driving Wild Child 

 Liza Digging a Little Dirt 

 

 

  

 

So that's what’s been happening around here in a nut shell.  Every day there are little things that happen that make us glad that we chose to venture down this path.  It isn’t a lifestyle that is for everyone but it is for us.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer and successfully battling the heat.  Hopefully by my next blog I will have convinced Chad that we need to enter the Farmer Olympics being held at the  Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs!  I'm really excited that something is finally close to home that we can go to.  Until next time!

Spring Has Hit the Ground Running...Finally!!

Winter has finally decided to leave and spring has pretty much hit the ground running!  It seems like everything has happened all at once.  Memorial Day has passed and another school year is in the books for the girls.  We have been keeping busy and loving every minute of it.  There’s so much to tell, I might as well get started.

Helping Chads Cousin Plant Field Corn

The move to the new coop was awesome to say the least.  They love it. I think if they could talk they would have been singing a chorus of Hallelujah!!  It took them a little bit to figure out the roosts but eventually there was a constant battle to sit on the top roost.  They have settled down now and share nicely, at least while we are there.  I can also report that Harv is a Harv and not Harvina.  He is Chad’s absolute favorite and has a lifetime interest in the coop.  In addition to Harv we managed to get 4 roosters out of the barred rocks that were to be hens.  Then gentleman that I purchase my chickens from may have sale for them instead of having to butcher them when they get older.  As much as I like chicken in my freezer I would like to see them find a home.  In anticipation of the exit of these 4 guys, I bought 4 pullets that are 18 weeks old.  When we introduced them to our chickens I thought we were going to have a fight on our hands but Harv put everyone in their place (I think the pep talks that Chad gives him about being in charge have helped).  These mature ladies enjoy roosting above the window though and on the top of the door and scared the living daylights out of me when I went in one evening after their bedtime.  Bedtime is 7:30 pm on the dot.  Everything has to be done before then or Harv gets bent out of shape.  He doesn’t get aggressive he just follows your every move. There again if they could talk, I would imagine that he would be saying “you’re late, let’s move, move, move.”  Needless to say we love our chickens.  I’m even taking a Speckled Sussex hen to pet day for Rory’s class!

The Coop All Dolled Up with Flowers 

Hemlock Roosts in the Coop

Butchering day also arrived.  Chad spent 2 evenings watching YouTube videos trying to find the best way to kill the chicken without it being traumatic to them or us.  Everything went off without a hitch and we are planning our next B-day at the end of June.  The girls were very helpful and didn’t mind plucking feathers.  I think the vote is unanimous though that my ingenious husband searches the web a little bit and builds a chicken plucker!!  We are also going to get the cones or make something similar to put the chickens in when they are being killed.  I held them so that they wouldn’t flap around and break their wings but believe me, they are strong.  My arms hurt for a couple days.  It was worth every minute of work nevertheless.  The meat is delicious and it is incredibly satisfying knowing what we fed our broilers and how they were treated.

Plucking Feathers on Butchering Day

We picked up our pigs and managed to find 2 more just a few days after bringing the first set home.  Even though everyone voiced their concern that they would fight everything was good.  The little ones (7 weeks) are actually the instigators.  The older ones (9 weeks) tolerate them well.  They are hilarious to watch and they too have their habits.  I’m not sure why bedtime is such a big deal on our little homestead but the pigs take about 20 minutes to settle down and everyone has to be in a certain spot but their spots are right on top of each other.  As with everything, this too has been a learning experience.  I’ve never given a shot to anyone or anything in my life.  I learned quickly on what to do with the pigs.  Thankfully the antibiotic is an extended release so we only had to do it one time for each.  We also started out with a pan for water.  It was cute to watch them blow bubbles in the water but it wasn’t fun to have to go out to the barn pretty much every hour to clean the pan and give them clean water.  We wised up quickly, and installed the watering nipple.  That was quite a riot as well.  The older ones had no problem and knew exactly what to do.  The little ones took a little longer to figure it out.  At first they would wait until one of the older ones took a drink and stood there trying to catch the drips!!  Everyone is happily drinking cold, fresh water at their own convenience now.

Our Pigs

Since Chad had a few days off for the holiday we also got the garden planted.  We have a Brinkley plow that fits a John Deere that we have but haven’t gotten restored yet so Chad rigged it up to one of our Cub Cadets.  Note I said one.  We love our Cubs.  I’ll elaborate further down.  After much trial and error and me being thrown off the plow, he managed to get the ground turned over.  Chad said it was the funniest yet scariest thing he had ever seen.   Luckily I’m pretty resilient.  We don’t have a tiller so we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.  Chad went through everything with the mattock, I pulled out the sod, and after a few hours we had an amazing looking garden ready to plant.  The tiller would have rocked though!!  I’m not sure what got into Aurora but she turned into this crazy-wild rock picking child.  We didn’t even have to ask her.  It was a huge help.  The three of them took turns helping their dad plant.  We have tomatoes, peppers, onions, peas, beans, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, and squash.  Chad built a planter in front of the chicken coop also and we put more onions, beets, turnips, & carrots in it.  We are patiently awaiting the sprouts to emerge from the ground.  As excited as the girls are about the entire garden they have their eyes on the turnips.  In our old garden they never made it to the kitchen.  Chad would pull them, clean them, and they would eat them right there.  We are truly blessed by their uniqueness. 

Chads Fan Club Watching Him Plow 

Our Garden

Cub Cadets.  Chad saw garden tractor pulls one day and thought that would be fun for the girls.  We built Liza’s first and it was a pure addiction from that point forward.  Her tractor is a Cub Cadet 102, probably around a 1967.  In the beginning it was stock and now it’s not so much a stock tractor.  Rory and Jorja also have 102’s.  Rory’s is the same as Liza’s as far as what has been done performance wise but Jorja’s is still stock because of her age.  The older girls run a 12 HP Kohler that have had some work done to them.  Their gears have also been switched out in the transmissions and the tractors have been lightened as much as possible.  With no weights added they are about 680 pounds.  Liza also runs a class with the adults in which she has to wear a fire suit.  She has a second tractor in the works for that class with a 16 HP Kohler but it had to be put on the back burner for a while.  Same as with politics, I won’t harp on the fact that we have been hit hard by the current administration but it’s the truth and sometimes the truth hurts.  We had to make some difficult decisions, and her tractor and pulling in general are 2 of them.  We will pull locally but had to drop the point circuit this year.  Regardless it is a wonderful family sport that everyone can be involved with.  But anyway, back to the point of “one of our Cub Cadets.”  After working with the girls tractors we have come to really appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these tractors when they were built by International Harvester.  They are incredible machines that were well built and can truly withstand the test of time.  We have a 128 that Chad uses for things like plowing , hauling manure, and blowing snow.  We also have a 1200 and a 1650 that we mow with.  We also have a 100 which is from the early 60’s that will be restored at some point in time and a 582 that was modeled after International’s 86 series tractors that will also be restored.    

Eliza and Rorys Cub Cadets 

Jorja on Wild Child

So as spring rolls along and summer quickly approaches we will continue on with our daily chores and add in plenty of hay making, helping on Chad’s cousin’s farm, fishing, sitting around fire, making smores and hopefully a few tractor pulls.  I’m hoping that the heat wave we have had lately isn’t a precursor for what is in store this summer.  It has been HOT!  I am also in search of a fail proof way to get rid of or catch flies without using chemicals.  If anyone has any sure fire ways please share, I would greatly appreciate it!!  Until next time!!

Moving Day!!

Jessica headshotThings have been relatively quiet here but busy at the same time, kind of like organized chaos!  This evening the organization may go out the door! We will finally finish the coop and get move the chickens.  I’m excited for them and for me, I get my basement back!  Not that I haven’t enjoyed their stay but they have worn out their welcome! 

 

 Putting the Roof On

We opted to go with new steel for the roof but luckily the company that sells roofing steel has this nice little pile of seconds that are sold at a discounted price without a warranty.  Considering it is for the coop I wasn’t too concerned about the warranty.  With some help from one of our friends and Chad’s cousin, they put the roof on in no time.  It looks awesome!  It’s also water tight; no leaks appeared during the down pour last evening.  We put in divider walls that are about 3’ high and chicken wire to the top.  This evening we have to put the doors on the inside and the steel on the walls and we will be good to go!  Sorry the pictures are kind of awkward but it was dark.  The broilers will go in the smaller enclosure to the right and the hens will have the entire half to themselves. 

 A Middle of the Road Shot of the Coop Interior The Broiler Room

We did have a bit of a scare with one of the broilers.  He started limping on one leg and got run over by his hungry roomates.  I moved him to a separate box and then start freaking out after reading the symptoms of Marek’s on the internet.  Unfortunately everyone I called knew very little about it.  So we’ve been taking care of him and I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t Marek’s but instead a wing and leg injury.  The vet’s office was not much help so I’m winging it (no pun intended!).  I did give everyone some oregano after reading the Fresh Eggs Daily blog about nesting box herbs.  I’m adding an herb garden to my list of things to do.  It’s great to know there are alternatives available without having to add a bunch of chemicals to their diet.  Thanks Lisa!

We finally found pigs but only 2 so far.  They will be coming home in 2 weeks.  We were hoping to get more but pigs are very hard to find.  Well, normal pigs are hard to find.  The market is loaded with expensive show pigs for the fairs.  That is great for them but I’m just looking for a nice, normal pig that I can feed, grow, butcher, and eat. I doubt the chickens and bunnies will be concerned about whether or not his hair looks nice or if he has scars from his castration.  Things are still up in the air but if it is this hard to find pigs we may consider raising our own.  We have talked to several people that are running into the same problem however they don’t want to raise them. 

There have been no signs of bunnies arriving so I’m thinking that we may have separated them in time.  I’ve been reading up though just in case.  Since this would be her first litter I know she will be stressed and I want to make sure if its going to happen that we are able to do what we can for Thumper and the little ones. 

Turkey hunting has been unsuccessful thus far.  Eliza shot at 2 on Junior Hunt Day but missed.  I'm not sure who was more nervous her, Chad, or Chad's brother Chase.  I really would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of the blind!  I went out one day and had no luck.  It sounded like they were right below me but never came up to where I was.  Chad and Eliza went out again Saturday and heard several but were apparently the only 2 that believed in walking because there were 4 wheelers running around everywhere.  We'll see what happens this Saturday. She definitely has turkey fever!  Our house is filled with the sound of her practicing with the turkey call.   Aurora and Jorja are biting at the bit to go fishing.  Chad hears turkeys from side and fish from the other!

 The Girls Checking for Turkeys Pre Season

Chad and I were able to attend the Soil Conservation District annual dinner this week.  They had a slide presentation of what all the SCD has done and is responsible for.  I would imagine that there are plenty of people in our area as well as our many tourists that have no idea what goes on to help maintain and save our land and water.  The SCD handles everything from building sites to flood control to farming.  They showed pictures of a flood in our county seat that caused a lot of damage.  As a result flood control dams were constructed and there hasn’t been an issue since.  The thing I see popping up on more farms are the creek buffer zones.  Fencing is placed on either side and then trees are planted inside.  This keeps the cattle out of the running water.  It enhances the image and contributes to a cleaner water supply.  I’ll grab a picture next time I go up to my parents house.

I can’t wait to report on how the housing is working out and what’s happening with the pigs.  Hopefully the weather will start cooperating so that we can get even more things going.  Oh and one last, very important thing.  I want to wish our youngest , Jorja, a very happy 5th birthday tomorrow!  She definitely helps to keep things very interesting to say the least.  Until next time!!

Snow…in April

Remember I said that Mother Nature just couldn’t quite make up her mind?  Well this week she took it to a whole new level.  Wednesday was quite interesting. In the morning there was a light snow covering then it melted, and then it snowed like crazy, and then melted.  This went on all day.  Finally today there was no snow only a few remnants but it was only 38 degrees.  Who knows tomorrow it might be 70 degrees!!  Hopefully our little winter replay didn’t do much damage to the buds that have already emerged.

 A snowy view from our front door 

We had a wonderful Easter holiday.  Chad & the girls dyed the eggs, unsupervised!  I always know something is up when they are all huddled around him giggling like crazy and checking to see if I’m looking while making breakfast.  When I walked over they were mixing colors and making some of the funkiest looking eggs I’ve ever seen. I’m glad they had fun!   I did come across an awesome recipe for French toast like at Denny’s restaurant over the weekend.  I’ll put it at the bottom of the blog so you all can try it too.  It is delicious!!  A thought did cross my mind while eating all the delicious food over Easter.  I need to get my hands on some small eggs; I’m assuming Bantee eggs would be a good choice.  I think they would make awesome pickled eggs.  I imagine there is someone out there that does this all the time. I’d like to hear from you.   

 The Girls on Easter at my Mom and Dads 

A combination of the coldness and Chad going back to work has put a slight hold on the coop progress.  We haul coal and things have been a bit slow.  I’m not going to blast any political views in my blog but I must say that I am a coal and timber girl through and through and I’m not afraid to shout it from the roof tops.  Anyway back to the coop.  The walls are on we just need to get the strips tacked on to cover any gaps between the boards and the roof.  I think we are going to put one piece of the translucent sheeting in to create a skylight.  One more, non-freezing day and we’ll be ready to do the inside.  I can’t wait to get the ladies and the broilers into their new home. 

 The Building Crew 

I have been having a little bit of trouble with the broilers spilling there feed. I did have the round Mason jar feeder that obviously was too small now that they are getting so big.  I picked up one of the long feeders but their heads got stuck once the food level got too low. I took the top off which made it even worse.  Everyone thought they had to stand in it to eat but not everyone could fit so they would stand back and make a run for it and knock the other ones out of the way.  I should start videoing them.  Luckily Chad came to my rescue this evening.  He attached the feeder to a thin slab and cut out the dividers on the top to make the openings bigger. The extra stability helps keep things grounded since they are a bit overzealous when it comes to their food and we don’t have to worry about any heads being stuck.  Problem solved.  He’s my hero!!

 The New and Improved Feeder 

The only other thing that has been on my mind of late is the whole chicks and rabbits as Easter presents thing.  A friend of mine posted this image on Facebook.  She’s a vet tech so I can’t even imagine some of the stuff she sees.

 Giving Chicks and Rabbits as Easter Gifts 

I normally would just glance over it and scroll onto the next news feed item.  This though, made me stop and think. It actually made me pretty sad.  I even saw an ad in our local online classifieds stating that they would take unwanted Easter ducks, chicks, and bunnies.  I can understand a child wanting one and not fully understanding the time, effort, and expense that goes into their care but an adult should know better, especially with the amount of information available.  I guess the most important thing we (our family and yours) can do is be a resource and do our best to educate people so that they can make the right choices.

Hopefully my next post will have a finished coop, the addition of pigs, and a picture of one of the girls with a nice spring gobbler since junior hunt day is tomorrow.  Until next time!!

 

Denny's-Style French Toast

From

http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Denny_s_style-French-Toast-Recipezaar 

 

Serves: 7

 

Total time: 22 min     Prep time: 10 min

 

Description: Food.com Food.com

 
 

 

 

4 eggs

2/3 cup whole milk

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

6 slices texas toast (thick bread)

3 tbsps butter

powdered sugar

butter

syrup

 

1

Mix together the eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt& cinnamon.

2

Heat a large skillet, or griddle.

3

When the skillet is hot, add 1 tablespoon butter.

4

If the butter smokes, your pan is too hot; turn down the heat.

5

Dip each slice of bread into the batter for 30 seconds on each side.

6

Let some of the batter drip off, then put in skillet.

7

Cook each slice 1 1/2-2 minutes per side until each side is golden brown.

8

Add more butter, if necessary, to cook all of the slices.

9

To serve, put on plate, dust with powdered sugar. Serve with butter & hot syrup.

 

 

                

A Little Catching Up to Do!

Jessica headshotAbout 2 weeks have passed since I originally penned the opening blog so it’s only fitting that I catch everyone up!  Mother Nature can’t seem to make her mind up considering that I got sunburnt one day and pretty much froze to death last evening putting boards on the chicken coop.  She did offer a surprise for the girls this year though; they actually got a spring break.  Normally we have so many snow days that the teachers are contemplating working on lesson plans for the 4th of July.  It’s all cyclical, we’ll probably end up with snow as high as the phone wires again next year.   Now for some updates.

 

The Chickens 

They are growing like crazy. I looked at their first pictures last night and couldn’t believe how much they have grown.  Their feathers are coming quickly right along with their urge to fly.  We had to build screens to cover their cages since one of the Speckled Sussex decided to fly up on the edge of the brooder.  Chad is convinced it was his favorite that he has named Harv.  Since they were straight run I asked him if it turns out to be a hen are we going to have to call her Harvina!!  I’m not sure he appreciated my humor!   We did have a few little poop incidents - diarrhea and some pasty butts.  Luckily the gentleman that I got them from is a great resource.  After adding in some baby grit and going to a medicated feed, things seem clearing up.  We had already been adding the electrolytes to their water and he said that helped out tremendously.  The chicks do have a treat that they absolutely love and that is their Baby Cake from Farmers’ Helper.  They go absolutely wild over it.

Harv or maybe Harvina 

The broilers are doing well too.  I would pretty much compare putting their feed in the brooder to taking a case of chocolate bars in to Jorja’s Pre-K class at snack time.   They are also quite the creatures of habit.  I normally go to the right side of the brooder to put everything in.  One morning I walked down the steps and could see them peering out through the crack in the side so I snuck around to the other side.  I stood there and laughed because they stood there like “wait, where did she go, you have to be kidding me we are hungry.”

The Rabbits 

Oh yes, we have rabbits, three of them to be exact.  After a wink to the girls, a friend of ours bid on them and then each girl had a bunny in their arms.  For future sales I think we are going to have to keep Aaron and the girls separated or we will end up bringing home the goats the girls have been eyeing!  They are doing a great job taking care of Thumper (Eliza), Oscar (Aurora), & Abe Lincoln (Jorja)!  Aurora seems to be the rabbit girl though.  She just has a way with them.  Everyone’s comment though has been that we will end up with babies so I did some online research and we have 2 males and a female.  I’m pretty sure we didn’t separate them in time so I guess we will see what happens at the end of the month!

Left to Right  Thumper Oscar and Abe Lincoln   

The Coop 

The coop, or The Mansion, is coming along great.  One more day of work on it and we will be able to start the inside.  It’s a 12’ x 12’ addition onto the shed that we raised our calves in.  I think it will be a good start but we may end up taking over the shed too.  The other addition is for the pigs anyway!  We’ve used rough cut hemlock and pine and have been able to recycle a good many of the nails.  It amazes me how Chad can straighten a nail.  I wonder how many pounds of nails are thrown away each year that could be used for something.  We are also going to be able to reuse some old windows and a door.  It has been a lot of work and splinters but all well worth it.  Chad’s cousin has been a great help too and has taught us along the way. There will definitely be an upcoming post solely about building this coop!

The coop framed up and ready for sides and a roof 

Well I think that’s about everything that has been happening around here.   We are on the lookout for pigs now and who knows what else!  Until next time!