Peppermint Crunch Christmas Cookies

These might possibly be my favorite Christmas cookies.  They are so DELICIOUS but the best part is the absolutely wonderful aroma that fills my house while they cook.  A Christmas candle or Scentsy Pot can’t even touch the Christmasy (is that a word?) smell from these cookies!  My sister told me about this recipe a few years back and I have made them every year since.

Peppermint Crunch CookiesThe secret to these amazing cookies is Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips.

Pettermint baking chips These things are creamy, melt in your mouth, goodness!  Add them into a cookie with oatmeal and coconut and…….WOW!  Or you could just upend the bag into your mouth, that would work too.

Peppermint Crunch Christmas Cookies
This makes about 30 cookies.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup sweetened grated coconut
  • 1½ cups peppermint crunch baking chips
  1. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. On low speed, add baking soda, salt and flour. Mix completely.
  4. Stir in oats, coconut, and peppermint chips.
  5. Measure 1-2 Tablespoons (depending on how big you want them) of dough and place round balls on a cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
  6. Press lightly on each ball to flatten a little and sprinkle some of the remaining chips on top of each cookie.
  7. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 to 15 min.
  8. This made about 30 cookies.

Christmas Cookies 2Note:  It is a little tricky to figure out when these are done.  I check on them at 10 minutes and don’t take them out until they are a little brown around the edges.  After they come out of the oven if you let them rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes they will stiffen up a bit and be much easier to lay on a cooling rack.

This recipe was adapted from    I am in no way being compensated for saying these things about these baking chips, I just think they are delicious and Christmasy!


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As Visions of Chickens Danced Through My Head

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the homestead,

Not a creature was stirring, they’d all been well fed.

Digger was comfy half asleep in his chair,

While sounds of Duck Dynasty filled the air.

The kids laid out cookies for Santa with care,

Then brushed at their teeth and combed their hair.

My day was done so I snuggled into bed,

As visions of chickens danced through my head…..

Okay,  That’s enough of that!

I’m not lying though…..I really do have visions of chickens dancing through my head!  Recently I have received a couple chicken catalogs in the mail and even though the weather outside is frightful, I’m dreaming of a green spring and dozens of baby chicks in the brooder!  Ho hum, soooo many choices and so little coop space. :?  We have 12 laying hens right now and even with the nasty, cold weather they are still giving us 8 to 10 eggs a day!  I really should be content with that…..right?   Well, I am for now but there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead, making a wish list and saving money for more chicken coops. ;)  Right now we have one breed, they are all Golden Sex Links……

Chicken SistersI’m thinking we need a little more color introduced to our flock.  Some Barred Rock, Black Australorp, and Columbian Wyndotte are my favorite picks of very good egg layers. While these will add color to my flock, they will not add color to my egg basket.

Eggs in a basketNot that there is anything wrong with big brown eggs, I love my big brown eggs, but a little variety would be nice.  This is my frivolous wish list of colorful egg layers.  A Blue Ameraucana will lay blue eggs, an Olive Egger will lay green eggs.  White Leghorns will lay lots of white eggs and  Blue Copper Marans will lay beautiful dark chocolate colored eggs.  I also promised the girls they could pick out a couple Bantams, and of course I want to raise meat birds again (not sure what breed yet).  There you have it, my complete wish list!  Like I said, all I need want now is more chicken coops. ;)

Have you made your chicken wish list yet?  Are you also in need of more coop space?  A word of caution to those of you wanna be chicken owners……chickens are addictive!

Meyer Hatchery and Murray McMurray Hatchery have great sites that you can browse through, and learn lots about different breeds of chickens.  I have ordered from both hatcheries with VERY good results.  Now is the time to pre-order to make sure you get the breeds you want delivered when you want them.  Just make sure the breeds you are picking are conducive to your climate!

Merry Christmas Everyone!  Be grateful for what you have, but remember there’s nothing wrong with a little wish list. :D


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Holiday Spritz Cookies

Holiday Spritz CookiesA few years ago I inherited my grandma’s cookie press, and now it’s a tradition to make these cookies every December.

Vintage Cookie PressI think she would be so pleased to know that her great grand daughters are using her cookie press. :)

Christmas CookiesThese are a lot of fun, especially for kids and the recipe is really simple.  Picking what shape of cookie to make and getting a little crazy with the sprinkles are the best parts….well and eating them too. ;)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Holiday Spritz Cookies
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: Dessert
  • 1 cup butter - softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  1. Mix butter, sugar, egg, salt, and vanilla thoroughly. Add flour and blend well. Following the directions for your cookie press, force the dough through the press onto an ungreased baking sheet in desired shapes. Sprinkle with holiday sprinkles. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 9 minutes.

This recipe is from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book.

Spritz CookiesHope you are enjoying making cookies and memories this Christmas!


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November 2013 – A Month of Photos From The Red Double Wide

Happy last day of November everyone. :)  The count down to Christmas is on, so  I promised the girls we could get the Christmas decorations out this weekend (this time of year always sneaks up on me!)

I don’t have many outdoor pictures for November.  It’s been down in the twenties most days leaving me less than thrilled to spend much time outside.

Fire WoodThis is Diggers supply of fire wood for his shop.  It is slowly getting moved into the barn…very slowly…..  Apparently the teenager in the house doesn’t want to be outside either.

DustyHe would much rather be working on a skateboard in the warm shop.

Clean nesting boxesThe ladies checking out their clean nesting boxes.  They are such curious critters.

Chicken DinnerIf you follow my Facebook page, then you already know I finally cooked one of our home grown chickens!  It was delicious!

Little ChefMy little chef helped out in the kitchen getting ready for Thanksgiving.  She made these beautiful dinner rolls….they were melt in your mouth good!  We will be making these over and over and will definitely share the recipe soon.

Dinner RollsYes, it was totally me that stole the roll out of the center of the pan.  It was a little less than perfect and needed to go……into my belly. ;)

DSCN0363 (960x1280)I shared in my post about my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner that I had never made pumpkin pie before.  This is Jo helping make our first pumpkin pies EVER.  I got a few helpful emails from readers and Diggers Aunt.  After taking all the great advice into account, they turned out super yummy.  My only complaint is the crust was a little tough.  Pretty sure I know what to do differently next time. :)

Hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and are having fun preparing for Christmas.  Thanks for visiting the red double wide!




Redneck Ingenuity

A post from Digger….

Grace has been encouraging me to share some of what I do around here for awhile now, and it’s gettin’ on toward the time of year when I can.  Hopefully for some of you this might lend some insight on the other side of homesteading.  (Don’t worry ladies, the Queen still has plenty of recipes and the like on the way.)

The “Gumption Trap” post created some curiosity about the disk poured from melted beer cans I’m turning on the lathe.  The disk itself is simply an attachment for the shopsmith that I’ll glue sandpaper to.  I already have one, but I’m stuck with the grit that’s on it, so the idea is to have several of these disks allowing me a range of sanding grit I can easily swap out for different needs.

Shop SmithOh sure, I could probably find them on the internet with some pursuit, but I know I’d never spend the money, and besides, where’s the fun in that?  I already have the means to make my own, and the reason I have these means is the story I’d like to share.

It all started with a CRASH!  I emphasized here for good reason as I can attest to the damage.  Oh, and apparently this was followed shortly by a second CRASH! (a failed attempt to correct the first crash).  At the time, little brother was here helping me insulate my shop (he did most of it), which of course meant that everything needed to be moved away from the walls, including the machine lathe that was about to be in the way.  It was late in the season so digging was slow, but I did have to work that day.  Because of this, I described to him that the lathe was very top heavy and the weight favored one end. (meaning it’s really difficult to move).  I detailed the effort it had taken to place the lathe where it was against the wall, and then guessed at the time I’d be back to help him with it.  I left shortly after for the doings’ that needed done assuming the point had been made.

1951 Lathe

This is the 1951 machine lathe. The red arrow indicates a new replacement knob, again made from beer cans.

Chris is twenty something, ambitious, and strong.  I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when he called a few hours after I’d left…  The conversation began with a long “Ummm”,… followed by a VERY pregnant pause.  You can imagine the sinking feeling this caused in me, and it didn’t improve much as he reluctantly described the events that prompted the call.  I didn’t mind hearing that my carving desk had been partially crushed, but the then as of yet undetermined damage to a machine lathe I didn’t even own concerned me somewhat.  I consoled him as best I could with a “No biggie, these things happen”, and commenced to finish the project I was working on so I could get home to evaluate what obligations I may need to fill.

By the time I got home, Chris had already found and ordered the cast apron that held the travel gears.  This fairly impressed me by the fact that in a few short hours (and having no experience with machine tools) he’d managed to identify, find, and purchase online such a fundamental component to an antique lathe.  This was heartening.  Further disassembly however found a left handed jack screw nut in several pieces.  Discovering just how rare and precious this little nugget of machined cast steel was in the market place encouraged me to consider alternatives.  I just couldn’t see spending more for parts than the initial cost of the machine.

Ultimately, the unique nature of this particular part lead us to one simple question.  Can we make our own?  The specific tolerances of the threads were critical, so the only chance I could imagine for duplicating the original was to pour molten metal around the screw. (For some reason Chris looked skeptical).  We would need a forge, a crucible, and casting sand tamped inside a form to hold the shape of the new nut.  I had NONE of these things, and having had no prior experience in the subject, I barely even understood the basic principals of casting metals.  Well,… it sounded like fun at the time.

FireChris and I scavenged through my scrap piles of steel and lumber, and after a couple of hours cutting, welding, chin scratching, and some very crude woodwork felt ready to make a REALLY hot fire in my wood stove. (Was this a good idea?  Well,… No.  Not really.)  We chunked up a fair pile of firewood small enough to drop between the crucible and a steel ring I’d hoped would contain the heat enough to avoid damage to my wood stove. (the idea was sound, but the application could have used some refinement.)  This process took several grueling hours of feeding the fuel and metering the compressed air by hand.  I suppose this would be a good time to share a personal quirk little brother has.  Chris has an acute, and at times potentially hazardous fascination with fire. (I’ve quite literally uttered these words in my shop: “Please don’t throw shotgun shells in the fire…”)  In this case however, it proved to remove me from a majority of the discomfort (think hot, sweaty, stinky…) kneeling on the floor in front of the wood stove trying to maintain the greatest temperature possible.  Let’s just say I was happy to keep myself busy with the form and sand.

Not having a casting medium, I mixed play sand with some clean clay soil I dug out of the bank just outside my shop.  I played with the mix and moisture until it felt about right and fashioned the form.  Hindsight compels me to advise against this approach.  The clay baked hard around the piece, and the course sand left a terrible finish,… but it worked.  Later I learned how relatively inexpensive casting sand is, and I intend to buy some…  Someday.

sandOriginally I thought we could melt brass for the purpose, understanding of course that brass has a much lower melting point than the stainless steel the jack screw was made of, but that was a dismal failure.  We did get it to melt (as well as most of the liner in my poor wood stove), but we couldn’t figure out how to remove the impurities.

The next morning we decided to try melting aluminum.  It’s much softer than brass which concerned me, but a whole lot easier to melt. (I’ve been collecting beer cans in one corner of the barn for years,… so I figured “what the heck.”)  I was gambling on the aluminum shrinking away from the jack screw as it cooled so we could simply thread it off.  It worked!  Quite well as a matter of fact…  Some cutting, filing, and a single hole drilled and threaded was all it took before reassembly.

PourNutI’d be lying if I said it worked like new when we were done, but hey, it didn’t work anything like new before it was dropped.  After countless hours of use without fail, I’d consider it a success.  Last winter I completely rebuilt that poor old lathe by the way (as you see it in the above picture).  My intention was to simply replace the old, leather flat belt with a much superior serpentine belt common in most (okay, maybe all) vehicles these days.  As it turned out, the extent of disassembly required to accomplish this task convinced me to go ahead with some major restoration, and I’m sure glad I did.  A couple of weeks cleaning, filing, polishing, and lubricating the surprisingly vast array of parts and pieces that wound up spread all over my work bench proved to genuinely improve the poor old girls’ function. (For those who might care; I found plain old car wax to be an excellent preservative and dry lubricant for the exposed machined surfaces that need to be as frictionless as possible.)  I enjoy having this resource, especially in good repair, and I use it far more than I ever would have imagined.  Sure hope the owner doesn’t want it back anytime soon…

Okay granted,…  Most homesteaders will never have a practical need to melt and pour any kind of metal for any reason whatsoever.  I get that…  I also get the fact that not everyone trying to develop and maintain a homestead would even begin to consider this kind of approach to such a random problem; but think about it guys…  Fire intensified with forced air, molten metal flowing into a shape of our own design, and a chance to prove a legitimate alternative to accepted norms in our culture through redneck ingenuity.  What could be better?  Oh!  And not to mention it provides a genuinely logical argument for our wives that greater dedication toward unburdening all those beer cans will help supplement a much needed resource. (I actually tried this on Grace.  Somehow she didn’t seem convinced).  For me, this sort of thing basically sums up the spirit of today’s homesteader.

I suppose I should add that the following fall we (Chris’ helped) rebuilt the inside of my wood stove.  The heavy tin liner was compromised during this adventure, and I don’t recommend others should attempt these temperatures in their own stoves. (My stovepipe is 8″ well casing.  That means it won’t melt!  I would not have attempted this project otherwise).  It worked for the experiment you’ve just read, but we’ve since built (again with Chris’ help) a good sized forge.  Youtube has many good posts on the subject.  It really didn’t take long, and everything it’s made from was scavenged. (with the exception of the ceramic wool liner I spent $60.00 on).  I have some good pics of the build, and I’d be happy to share how the project went if anyone is interested.


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My Contributions to Thanksgiving Dinner and a Couple Confessions

I have a confession to make……I don’t like turkey.  There,… I said it.  Let me be clear though, I don’t HATE turkey, I just don’t favor it.  I can eat it, especially in a casserole or on a sandwich.  But when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I want a big fat plate full of stuffing, a couple servings of salad, and then some more stuffing.  Of course this is all after I have grazed on the veggie trays, fruit trays, deviled eggs, olives, and array of other “appetizers” that will be laying out on the counter before the turkey gets done.  Needless to say by the time dinner is over I will be miserable and useless…..but I don’t think I’m alone here.

So, here are my non turkey contributions to Thanksgiving dinner this year. :)

Last week I shared a recipe for homemade thousand island dressing and promised to share my grandma’s special green salad to serve with it.

SaladJust add some baby shrimp, a little crab meat, and some sliced olives to your greens.

Thousand IslandServe it with the homemade thousand island and…who needs turkey!?

At most family functions I bring the deviled eggs.  Not because mine are exceptional or better than others, it’s simply because I HAVE TOO MANY EGGS! (Well,… and mine are fresh!)   So that’s my second addition to Thanksgiving dinner.

Deviled EggsNote: If you also have nice fresh eggs and have a difficult time peeling them, click here to read my little “trick” on how to cook and easily peel farm fresh eggs. :)

My next contribution is an easy appetizer…maybe my favorite appetizer.  I call them asparagus wraps.

AsparagusThey are simply softened cream cheese spread on a thin slice of ham wrapped around pickled asparagus….and they are DELICIOUS!

Asparagus WrapsLast Thanksgiving I ran out of time and instead of making these ahead of time I took the supplies and made them after I got to my parents.  They disappeared just as fast as I could make them.

Now for my next confession…..I’ve never made pumpkin pie.  Actually I’ve only ever made one pie in my entire life and that was an apple pie.  It was about ten years ago and it turned out kinda weird??  So this Thanksgiving I have decided to try my first ever pumpkin pie!  I’ll be sure to take pictures and let you know how it turns out.

I am sooooo thankful that my parents now have a large, conveniently located house that is perfect for large family gatherings.  This has not always been the case, and Thanksgiving dinners took place at our house.  I think squished and crazy would be the best words to describe those gatherings.  As I shared, turkey is not my favorite meal and therefore cooking one is not my idea of fun.  The last Thanksgiving we hosted, I spent my morning rushing around cleaning, opening doors and windows to fan the smoke out from the ran over turkey drippings.  Oh, and meanwhile Digger was in the bathroom with a small blow torch trying to melt the spilled wax out of the sink (but that’s a story for another post).  I am much happier to make my additions to dinner at home, pack them in a cooler, and leave my messy house.  Then I can enjoy a wonderful meal with our awesome (and large) family at my parents house….and I’m sure my moms home grown turkey will be wonderful…under tons of stuffing and gravy!

What are your contributions to Thanksgiving dinner?  Do you have the privilege of hosting and cooking the turkey?  If so, my prayers are with you. ;)

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”  Psalms 107:1

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Easy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

It’s November (just in case you weren’t aware), and when I start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, I start thinking about this salad dressing.  It’s a recipe I got from my grandma many moons ago.  It’s so simple, DELICIOUS, and paired with my grandma’s special green salad, I wouldn’t want to have a Thanksgiving dinner without it!

Thousand IslandAll you need is mayo, chili sauce or ketchup, sweet relish, and one hard boiled egg.

IngredientsI used organic ketchup and I found a sweet relish that didn’t have corn syrup.  Stir everything together and that’s it!

DressingNow you’re wondering what my grandma’s special green salad is….that will be coming next week! :)  Have you started thinking about Thanksgiving dinner yet?

5.0 from 3 reviews
Easy Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce or ketchup
  • ½ cup sweet relish
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, diced
  1. Stir together all the ingredients and use on your favorite green salad or for a veggie dip.


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October 2013 – A Month Of Photos From The Red Double Wide

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!

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Fall Mountain

Fall Mountain….this is the view from our living room. :)


Oddie enjoying a nice fall day.

Red Double Wide With Fall Colors

Fall colors around the double wide.

Chicken Sisters

Chicken Sisters…this is why most of our chickens don’t have names. They all look so alike we can’t tell them apart. It’s probably best that way!

Fall Colors

Chicken Visitors

The molting ladies enjoying a nice fall day.


Jo, loving on a barn cat….yes, It’s October and she’s wearing shorts and a tank top. I would like to say the weather was that nice but she would wear this attire in a January blizzard if we let her!

Morning Bath

Barn cats bathing in the morning sun light.


I have fallen in love with this adorable kitten in the barn. Jo and I have named her Autumn. :)

Pumpkin Patch

Our annual fall field trip to the pumpkin patch was a blast!

Happy Halloween

This pretty much sums up my girls personalities in one picture!

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Homesteading Gumption Traps

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.

DiskLast 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!)

Apple CorerNow 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.


Case in point; I nearly stepped on this little guy leaving for work the other morning. I have no idea where it came from but it was way too cold. An hour later I’d figured out the cab of my old dump truck was warm and cat proof. I didn’t know if it would find it’s way out the cracked window when I went to work, but it did.

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.

DSCN3703 (600x800) (480x640)

This is me finally getting around to turning our storage shed into a chicken coop.

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!)

Painting 2Some 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!

Gumption Trap


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Easy Slow Cooker Applesauce With a Twist!

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!!

ApplesI made slow cooker applesauce last month and ABSOLUTELY loved it!  So I knew that was where most of these apples would end up.  The rest are being dried, eaten in lunches, and maybe I’ll make some apple cake.

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.

 DSCN9682 (480x640)

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!

Easy Slow Cooker ApplesauceWe eat most of this as fast as I can make it, but if you want you could freeze or can your applesauce for later. :)

Apple Sauce1

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Easy Slow Cooker Applesauce With a Twist!
  • apples
  • pumpkin pie spice
  1. Peel and slice enough apples to fill your slow cooker. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice on the apples and cook them for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Let it cool off a bit and blend smooth with an immersion blender. My 6 quart crock pot made 8 cups of applesauce.


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