Wow…October just flew by!! The weather cooled off quite a bit throughout October but we still had MANY nice days that were greatly enjoyed and appreciated!
Here’s another post from Digger! I think I’ve got him hooked on this blogging stuff. 😉
According to Wikipedia “a gumption trap is an event or mindset that can cause a person to lose enthusiasm and become discouraged from starting or continuing a project.” I could go on at length in this subject as I’m painfully familiar with it, but I’m afraid the length and breadth of it as a whole would soon intimidate my intentions of sharing insight gleaned from experience, thus leading to boredom and disinterest on my part and ultimately leaving this draft saved but unfinished for years before finally being deleted. So why bring it up? Well…
I’m always fiddlin’ around with some new interest, and always have every intention of finishing whatever that particular interest might be. Far off in the back of my mind (where I don’t dare contemplate too deeply) there is a fond fantasy that someday I’ll start a project and work at it until it’s done without some distraction pulling me away. I really don’t mind being distracted for the most part given that it’s typically caused by friends or family either with a need, or simply seeking fellowship; but what it means in the end is that I generally have half a dozen projects laying around the place cluttering things up. Right now there’s a big hunk of aluminum on the lathe I’m trying to turn into a sanding disc for the shopsmith. (It’s made out of beer cans, but that’s another story) Yea,… It’s been there for about five weeks.
Last Saturday while I was working on it Grace came out and asked if I could make her a tool that would cut the core out of apple slices… It really only took a few minutes to grab one of those cheap (and dead) l.e.d. flashlights, chuck it up in the lathe to cut the ends off, and sharpen one end. No problem. The gumption trap came when I took the tool inside for her to use. She was drying the apple slices in the dehydrator and making applesauce, which of course I needed to taste test. (Oh man did it smell good!)
Now look,… What I’m about to say isn’t derogatory in the least; Grace and I are best friends and I’m honored to be spending my life with her,… BUT! When we are both at home it can be hard for either of us to stay focused on whatever task may be at hand. I have no idea what we talked about for an hour and a half that day, but we did. We can talk about anything! It could be the stupidist (is that a word?) subject in the world and we just chuckle and keep going. Typically this is great, but it has drawbacks. I remember one Saturday morning she came to me and sternly said; “You have to go to work today!”. There was a long pause while I just stared at her. I didn’t need to go to work that day. So then she said “I have too much to do; YOU have to leave.” And pointed at the door. I don’t exactly know what she meant to do with that day in particular, but I got the message and made myself scarce. (probably a bunch of cookin’ for some church function, a birthday barbeque, or some other thing such as the like. Frankly I can never keep up.) I get it, and so does she, and now you might begin to appreciate how easy it is to spring the gumption trap around here.
For most folks there’s a line between the things that need done, and the things we want done. When my wife gets involved that line gets kinda blurry. Take her chickens for example. We discussed raising chickens for a long time. She did all the research and decided on the breed she wanted, and I was good with all that. I kept telling her “when we have the facilities for chickens you can order them.” What does she do? Yea,… she goes right on ahead and orders them! It’s summer time; I’m busy trying to get as many jobs done as I can before another winter sets in, and we have no place for a bunch of chicks! (I don’t care how cute they are!) When she told me she’d gone ahead and done it, all I could do was laugh. I really didn’t want to hear that the only way we were ever going to get prepared for the little buggers was to have them on their way. I didn’t want to hear it because she was right. I hate that! This crafty little maneuver goes to show how familiar the Queen is with gumption traps as well.
To clarify her perspective: She’s been waiting for a mud room I’d promised to build on the end of our home since it was set up. “Before the snow flies,” I’d promised. That was seven years ago. (Thank you Lord for patient women!) We only have lawn because she said it was time we had a lawn. When she said it I looked at her and immediately realized that it really WAS time. Never mind the fact that it’s the first week in August. It’ll be fine. And it was; because I babysat that seedling grass for a week and a half! (BIG gumption trap!) But hey,… If you want to see grass seed germinate and grow in three days, just plant it when it’s over one hundred degrees outside. Oh, and keep it wet. Really, I mean that part.
This summer it was Cornish Cross meat chickens. Grace wanted them to be the right size for the girls to take to the fair, and this meant ordering them on the right date. I didn’t argue this time. I just resigned myself to the inevitable and waited for a want to become a need… Now don’t get me wrong,… I like the idea of raising our own meat chickens. It’s nice to know what they’ve been fed and that they haven’t been shot full of antibiotics, or worse. By the way, she did her homework (to the extent that she knew more than the vet at the fair) and has several posts on the subject if your curious.
Sure enough, after three weeks having been confined in an old playpen IN MY SHOP, the “need” came. I’d begun to wonder if the heat lamp weren’t in fact a grow light given their phenomenal rate of growth. I’m tellin’ ya, these things grow FAST, and had already begun to outgrow the playpen. They couldn’t be turned loose with the laying hens, so new accommodations were needed. This wasn’t a surprise; we’d talked about clearing out one side of the barn for them, but that never happened. (Several gumption traps there.) Now that it was time, the chore seemed daunting, and beings Grace really liked the idea of keeping them on the grass, I began to consider potential alternatives. (I’m thinking quick, cheap, and easy.) There’s an old canopy off a pickup I don’t own anymore that would work, but it was in the same side of the barn we’d considered clearing out before. By the time I’d have managed to get the thing dug out, the chore I was trying to avoid would have been half done. Besides, it’s made of fiberglass which means it’s heavy, making it hard to move around for my ladies; and given I was the one rationalizing the most logical course of action to take I decided that the barn is an awful long ways from any lawn we’d want these chickens on… I chewed on it awhile longer trying not to think about all the other things on my plate, and finally decided to build a “chicken tractor“. I don’t think chicken tractor accurately describes what I built, but it met the needed requirements, and way better still; the Queen was happy! I ripped some old lumber on the table saw, grabbed the screw gun, and by the end of the day had a 3’x3’x8′ frame. This is about the time the girls insisted it needed some paint. (Another gumption trap!)
Some scrap chip board cut into triangles for gussets on the corners gave it enough structural integrity to be moved around the yard without falling apart, and hardware cloth I bought at the hardware store (umm… is there a correlation there?) wrapped three sides and covered the door at one end. We learned the hard way that standard chicken wire allows chicks to stick their heads through the mesh making a fine snack for any of the dozen or so barn cats we have running around. (Can’t have that happen again!) The bottom was obviously meant to be open, but what about the top? The chickens couldn’t get out, but the cats and other critters would be able to get in if left open. It needed to be covered but light enough to move around easily, so tin or plywood was out. Cornish Cross also need shade, so wire alone was also out. I had a rare epiphany and asked Grace to go find one of the living room drapes she’d become disenchanted with. These were factory drapes that came with the red double wide, and at least for the living room just didn’t suit. In my mind the dimensions seemed about right, and I was sure they’d be sturdy enough, so why not? We both laughed when we spread it over the top of the chicken tractor; it was a perfect fit!… By the way; the chicken tractor is still sitting exactly where it was when we removed the Cornish Cross to be butchered. That was two months ago!… Oh yea,… That must have been about the time Papa Dave limped his broken combine up to the shop!
My mom picked up two boxes of apples for me the other day and now it’s Saturday and I have time to deal with them!!
I said this was easy and I do mean EASY. I peeled and sliced enough apples to fill my 6 quart slow cooker to almost over flowing.
Now for the twist….. I’ve been looking for more ways to use my homemade pumpkin pie spice mix so I added somewhere between 1 and 2 tablespoons to the crock pot and turned it on high for 4 hours (on low for 8 to 9 hours works too). Oh how I wish you could have smelled the aroma coming from my crock pot! After 4 hours I stirred up the apples and let them cool for a bit. If you like your applesauce a little lumpy you can leave it as is or you can blend it for a smooth consistency. It took about 30 seconds with an immersion blender. That’s it….I ended up with about 8 cups of wonderful, fall flavored applesauce, no sugar needed!
Here is the first recipe I’m sharing that uses my homemade pumpkin pie spice mix. This is so perfect for a cool fall day, and as a bonus it will make your house smell like fall too!
Note: If you don’t have plain yogurt you could substitute sour cream and you could also substitute apple sauce for the butter. I used organic sugar but sucanat would also work. I also used a little less sugar and chocolate chips and it was still yummy, yummy!
Instead of bread you can make muffins. These are the jumbo muffins and they took about 30 minutes to get done. The smaller regular size muffins take about 20 minutes. Be sure to grease your muffin tins and fill them about 2/3 full…..yummm!
This recipes was adapted from: Java Cupcake
I am very excited to announce that this is the VERY FIRST guest post here at the Red Double Wide. The best part is, that it was written by my husband! I had a blast reading this post even though I had already heard the story first hand. If you enjoy it too, please leave a comment to let him know!
Hello! I’m the husband of the “Queen”. Here she calls me “Digger”, elsewhere she calls me other things. If you haven’t guessed; I’m a subgrade contractor (think heavy equipment) and I dig for customers all over this county, but this story isn’t about me. A good friend of mine was helping to finish excavation of a painfully slow trench on Saturday while I ran some errands. He’s a contractor as well, and we have been working together quite a bit the last few years. So much so the girls have taken to calling him “Uncle Tom”, but this story isn’t about him either.
I returned to the jobsite from home near noon; a twenty plus minute commute, several miles of which is gravel and none to smooth. I parked next to the customers shop and followed the trenchline down the hill and through the trees to where Tom was still digging. He seemed content enough to keep scratching away at the dense clay subsoil, so I headed back up the hill for tools to level a transformer pad. That’s when I saw the chicken…
Now please understand that my brain didn’t process what my eyes were seeing straight away. My eyes are used to seeing chickens running around all the time, especially this particular breed of chicken, but I’m thinking about the work at hand. It’s Saturday (a day I prefer to spend with family), half my day was ate up due to prior obligations, and Tom is here trying to help me get caught up before the utility company shows up Monday morning to install.
As my feet carried me several steps closer to the truck, my mind was thinking; “Huh,… someone around here has the same breed of chicken we do.” My next thought was the fact that “around here” was nothing but woods. No close neighbors, no buildings aside from the customers new shop, and most notably there are no fences. Nothing but overgrown pine, scrub oak, and now a loose chicken accustomed to a free range life. Uh oh…!
I tried to call Grace thinking she could count her chickens and tell me if one is missing (or more to the point, hoping one isn’t), but no answer. I called the owner of the property (who lives 2,000 mi. away) to ask if he’d ever seen chickens roaming around this place, but he was sure he hadn’t. The small flicker of hope I’d had vanished. I told him “I think I have a problem. One of the Queens’ chickens stowed away on my truck, and I’m staring at it right now.” His immediate laughter made it clear he understood just how much fun trying to catch a chicken in the thick brush covering this hillside would be. The small pine and oak had grown like dog hair, and,… well,… you do the math.
When he stopped laughing we touched briefly on the project, and then he asked a favor. Would I mind disposing of some fruit he’d left in a cooler outside the door the week before? “No problem”, I said, and immediately filed that little chore away for later. I had to figure out what to do with this dang chicken!
I knew what had happened. There’s a fair gap between the bottom of the dump bed and the top of the fuel tank between the frame rails on my truck. Just about the right height for a chicken. For some reason OUR chickens feel compelled to jump up in there periodically, scratch around at nothing I can see, and bail out again at their leisure. I don’t know why; they’re chickens! They do all kinds of goofy stuff I can’t explain. Typically they leave when I start the truck, so no problem. Anyway, that’s HOW she got here, (and boy howdy that must of been some ride) but now what do I do about it?
I briefly considered how much trouble I’d be in with Grace when I got home if I simply ignored the bird and went back to work. Yea, right. Capture was a must and I knew it, but I couldn’t just walk up and catch the dang thing; I had to corner it somehow. This was looking like a two man job. I took a deep breath, glared hard at the chicken (willing it to stay put), and let out a sigh of resignation. As much as I didn’t want to interrupt Tom’s progress I headed back down the trenchline to recruit his help. When I explained the situation he laughed out loud… Why does everyone think this is funny?
By the time we got back up to the truck the chicken was gone (of course). Tom went right, and I went left hoping to surround the general area we thought it must be in. This is about the time Grace decided to return my call. She was still in town and not yet finished shopping. I explained what was going on,… SHE didn’t laugh. I’d already been considering just what to do with the little bugger once caught, but the options were few, and there was NO WAY I was turning a chicken loose in the cab of my truck. I asked if she could bring the carrier we use to transfer critters out to us after she got home. “Sure, fine”, but she wouldn’t be home for a few more hours. As my eyes searched the acres of woods for the small brown bird I said, “This could take that long.”
I heard it! The sound came from the direction Tom had gone and I followed it through the trees. I saw the little trouble maker just before I saw Tom… Now, to better understand what I was seeing, you need to know that Uncle Tom is not a small man. Well over six feet tall and something beyond two hundred pounds,… on his hands and knees crawling through the brush making chicken noises! Not only that, but the sounds he was making were remarkably convincing. It occurred to me that what I’d heard may not have been the chicken at all. I struggled to stifle my laughter not wanting to alarm the bird, and began maneuvering to trap it between us.
An hour or so later, having repeatedly tried and failed to grab the dang thing (picture headlong, prostrate dive), we resorted to steering our quarry through the trees with long sticks back down the hill toward the truck. Every cluck was a taunt! This chicken was laughing at us, and it wouldn’t shut up! We finally managed to push it out of the brush next to my trailer where it immediately took refuge. It didn’t take long to realize retrieving her out from under the trailer with sticks was hopeless. At this point Tom and I agreed that spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon being outsmarted by a chicken wasn’t our idea of recreation. I shared that I was wishing one of my daughters were there. She’d just call “Here chick, chick, chick.” and the thing would come a runnin’. Or maybe my dog? Nah, he’d fail to see the point. A gun!… Now there’s a tempting idea.
We sat on the trailer awhile considering options when I remembered the little favor the customer had asked of me. The FRUIT!!! Why had I not thought about the dang fruit until now? I went and brought it back to the trailer where we set some out as bait a couple feet beyond the birds new sanctuary. Tom sat on the trailer above it laying in wait. Oh yea,… She wanted that sweet smelling fruit bad. Really bad… But this chicken was quick and cunning. Several failed attempts later we decided to let “her” rest awhile. (Well,… it was hot! She needed a break!)
I told Tom, “You know this chicken is going to be given a name when I bring it home.” Tom knows the story of Stinky and is aware of a few other birds at my place that have been named and why. He thought a moment, then looked at me with a grin and simply said “Traveler”.
FINALLY!!! With an impressive snatch Tom had her! The little beast was contained! Victory was ours! The intellectual prowess of two middle aged contractors had ultimately prevailed! Umm,… So now what do we do with her?… I hadn’t heard from Grace, and there was STILL no way that chicken was being set loose in the cab of my truck,… So,… “Let’s hogtie her”! Tom had some string in his truck, and she really didn’t struggle all that bad while I tied her feet together. He set her down next to the fruit and water, at which point she immediately stood up and started to quickly hop away. Brilliant!… I took a longer length of string and tied her to the trailer as a lead so she couldn’t get far. In a few moments she succumbed to her defeat, realizing any attempt to escape was futile and settled for a feast of overly ripe peach and plumb.
I was finishing a couple small things on the project when Grace called. She was still some while off and it was looking like I’d have to come back the next day to finish the trench anyway, so I told her to stay home and I’d be along soon. I figured the bird could ride in the bed of my truck hogtied and tethered, but the Queen wasn’t very pleased with this suggestion. I told her I’d figure something out and went back to finish up so “Traveler” could go home.
I wound up stealing the small Styrofoam cooler the fruit had been in from my customer, and still hogtied put the little pain in the butt inside. She rode back with me without complaint on the passenger side floorboard; a piece of plywood for a lid kept her trapped, and yes, Traveler was very happy to be home.
Uncle Tom kept digging for a few more hours after I left, and I finished the excavation Sunday after church (a day I strongly feel is for faith and family). The family agreed with “Uncle Tom” as to what the perfect name for this chicken should be, so it remains…
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