Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and are surviving the winter weather. Here are a few pics from the last couple of months.
Jess turned this oak stump into…..
this bowl and gave it to my mom for Christmas. He claims he broke every tool he has on it. (I think it was worth it) 😉
My ladies did not think much of all the snow and ice.
they finally started earning their keep!! I’m getting 8 or 9 eggs a day now.
We’ve had snow and ice and slush and rain and now mud….more moisture than we know what to do with!
We got to go sledding….
Guess who had the most fun!?
Rebel LOVES the snow and the excitement of sledding turned him into a little terror!!
With all the snow and ice the chickens weren’t able to get out and munch on any greens so I started sprouting wheat for them. They LOVED it and it’s much easier for them to digest than whole wheat kernels.
We also fed them dried sun flower heads that we had saved from the garden.
Just a few random pics from January.
Can’t believe February is already here!! Have a good one everybody!
What a month!! It has been so beautiful, and the unusually mild weather has brought with it early signs of spring. Some of which are beautiful and cute and some….. well, lets just say I could live without ticks and snakes being out already.
I don’t ever remember being able to do so much “spring cleaning” outside of the house in February and March. It has felt great to enjoy the sunshine and get my hands dirty already. 🙂
Hope you enjoy some pics from March.
Hope you all have a productive and fun April. Happy Easter!
What a month! I have been so very neglectful of my blog. We didn’t finish up school until the 17th and that came with recitals, programs, and graduations! The girls performed at each event and did an awesome job! Mary’s vocal lessons are done for the summer…phew! Now that school has ended and summer has begun the pace around here has slowed down a bit, so maybe I can get some blog time back in my schedule!
The girls are enjoying NO SCHOOL!
The Bantam hens went on a little adventure out of their pen, but the big hens were not very nice so they quickly went back in.
This is the little rooster, and he’s not nice to the little hens either. He gets let out during the day and has turned into quite a nuisance, but he’s very entertaining!
Little Chef was gone last week to camp, so Jo and I got to spend lots of time together! One of her favorite places is the pool. 🙂
The raspberries are just now starting to ripen and there are TONS of them!
I did not get a garden in this year. 🙁 I was heart broken at first, but this will leave me much more time to focus on school and cleaning up around here. We’ve been so busy that many things have been neglected inside and out.
Goodbye February….Hello March! If you saw January’s photos you know we have had some crazy weather, and February was no exception. It did finally snow, then melted extremely fast. It was nice to have that long awaited white stuff around for a couple days, but now I feel that winter is complete and it can go….away….any minute!
We got about a foot of snow, so school was cancelled that day and it was nice to stay home.
The chickens were not happy about it and only one brave lady ventured out of the coop that day.
The human girls enjoyed the snow much more than the chicken girls. 🙂
Temperatures dipped down into the single digits several times.
Jo came back from the coop and said, “look mom, every chicken laid an egg today!….But, 5 of them froze and cracked”. I was disappointed, the dogs and cats were not. 🙂
I got a shiny new washer and dryer a couple weeks ago.
It was one of those things we have been putting off for a LONG time. Who wants to spend money on a washer and dryer when there are sooo many other “fun” things to spend money on. Like a new, bigger chicken coop. 🙂 It got to the point that we couldn’t ignore the horrible sounds coming from our old washer and dryer. I was really bummed about it at first, then I realized how fortunate we are that God had provided for us financially and we were able to purchase these very necessary items! Now that I have them home and have used them, I have to confess,… I REALLY like them.
Just a couple days ago God provided AGAIN. This time it wasn’t a necessity, but it was something I’ve been wanting and dreaming about for some time now. Please don’t laugh…..
IT’S MY NEW CHICKEN COOP!!!!! Yes, it’s a big empty box off the back of a truck… Digger needed this thing off the truck it came on so he can turn it into a mini log truck. All it needs is a chicken door, a people door, a window, and a paint job! I’m so excited! I’ll keep posting updates on my redneck chicken coop. 😉
I like how the women folk are always rambling on about how enchanting their little homestead is. Weather it’s half an acre in the burbs, or five hundred in cowboy country, its always the same. Pretty pictures of flowers, kids playing, home cookin’, and cute baby critters… Uhg! Where’s all the mud, dust, blood, sweat, and crappy weather. Anybody want to know what REALLY keeps a homestead steady? Attitude!
I’m not saying this to discourage anyone,… not at all; I’m just saying it’s not always peach fuzz and baby giggles… For example; the Queen and Little Chef are always experimenting with new meals prepared from scratch using all natural ingredients. These ladies know that there are few things finer than a full spread meal that’s been grown and raised on your own land, and most of the time their efforts result in something amazing! When it’s especially brilliant, I’m always amused by the girls grumblings while they have to wait for mom to take a few pics for the blog before they can eat it. I try to explain to them that excellence always comes at a cost, but the consolation is always met with a despondent glare that says “Yea,… whatever dad”. As for me; I’m proud of the accomplishments my ladies make in the kitchen (mostly because I get to eat their achievements!), but once in awhile however,… Well,… let’s just say that not every experiment is blog worthy. I would like to elaborate more on the specific details concerning some of the failed experiments in the kitchen (they always sound dramatic), but I rarely understand what they’re talking about.
Where the kitchen is Grace and Little Chef’s domain, Jo and I spend allot of time in the shop. I suppose I should say that Jo spends most of her time outside, and the shop is the next best thing when the weather turns lousy. When she’s not reading a book, (usually outdoors at the risk of moms’ admonishment) she’s out there building something. It’s like an addiction for her, and I can genuinely appreciate that. Since diapers she’s been manipulating whatever materials she can get her hands on into whatever her mind can conjure. For the most part I’ve always encouraged this ambition, but when she gets into the stocks of materials I need for work and drags them to all corners of the property to build a… a… well,… whatever it is she feels compelled to build right then, I have to reign her in.
The other day Jo came through the shop and left with one of my small hand saws. At the time I was a little distracted helping Uncle Chris put a new timing belt in his pickup. (By helping I mean leaning on the fender and sharing words of encouragement, like: “I think you’re insane for trying to attempt this on your own. You sure you know what you’re doing?” You know,… big brotherly advice. And by the way; thank you youtube!) Anyway,… as I watched Jo depart with my saw I thought, “wait a minute…” and followed her. I found her with several pieces of one inch pvc pipe I keep stockpiled in the barn. (She had in her possession many more short pieces than I’d remembered having) She was busy cutting a piece off when I asked her what she was doing. “I’m making an automatic dog food dispenser.” (Feeding the dogs is one of the chores she shares with Little Chef) She said this as she lifted the piece up to her eye to peer through it. “I’m not sure it’ll work tho’, it might be too small.” I kept my composure long enough to remind her that she needs to ask me before robbing materials from the barn. Yea,… It was a little disappointing for her, but this particular girls’ attitude is rarely defeated, so after returning the supplies as I’d asked she moved on to her next project full stride! Something about the “cat crusaders” (her club) needing a new, secret meeting place I think. (I didn’t want to know what that might entail, so I didn’t ask…)
I suspect Jo sets a better example in regards to attitude than most of us. Setbacks happen all the time, but are usually a minor thing we quickly move on from a little wiser. On occasion however, the good Lord seems compelled to remind us of what genuine humility is all about. A couple of years ago Grace decided she wanted her garden to be even bigger (Have you seen her garden?!). It was already put near 4,000 square feet, but I didn’t complain while I extended it another 20′ to the east, and full length north to south. This addition roughly added another 2,000. Now,… take a moment to consider just how big your house is. I remember way back when I was a little shaver what my Ma would say every time she’d finish with the vacuum cleaner,… “I’m so glad we can’t afford a bigger house!” She’d let out a tired sigh as she wiped sweat from her brow, (sorry Ma, I meant perspiration) and share her views on how silly it is for rich people to hire servants to maintain a ridiculously vast and expensive home. This concept kinda stuck with me all these years, and while I was tilling the ground far beyond the original footprint of our garden it was on my mind. I gave some thought to the countless hours we (Okay, mostly Grace) spent on hands and knees pulling weeds last year. Where few would care to vacuum 6,000 square feet of carpet, try to imagine weeding that much area! The point and purpose of all this extra space was to provide a greater surplus of vegetables for canning. I get that,… but since this expansion, the only thing Grace managed to can was green beans. ALLOT of green beans… Guess which vegetable of all the vegetables we could ever possibly grow in the garden do I care the least for? Yup! Green beans!!!
Oh well,… I really can’t say much. Once the irrigation is installed, Grace pretty much takes over maintenance of the garden. I do have to admit tho’; her diligence this year paid off. (that is to say, she worked her butt off!) That was until the late spring rains came… Right up until that point Grace had somehow managed to single-handedly conquer most of the weeds across this generous space, and just a few more days of battle would have enabled the “Queen” to declare ultimate supremacy over the land (well,… this bit of it anyway). I should share some things to consider right about now concerning the value such an arduous conquest would have ordinarily meant. We drip irrigate the rows on 4′ centers allowing us to easily measure and offset each row to ground that had rested the year before. It also gives us more room to weed and harvest, and it usually saves allot of water (we were plagued with irrigation failures this year). Another great advantage to this system is that MOST years, once the moisture comes out of the ground the weeds don’t come back between the rows. We typically just don’t see enough rain again until late fall. You can imagine her dismay when after nearly two weeks of unexpected showers her whole garden turned green with weed sprouts (making all that effort lost and pointless…) Grace bravely redoubled her commitment to purge this particular piece of land from the invasive onslaught of subversive flora as long as she could, but ultimately the allergies she always suffers this late in the season finally won out. (I’m thinking hydroponics may be the way to go, or better yet, aquaponics! Yea,… I like fish.)
To add insult to injury, the area I’d extended the garden into wound up primarily dedicated to melons, squash and gourds, but nothing grew! I don’t mean that the harvest was slight, I mean there was no harvest! The plants were lanky, yellow, and in most cases didn’t even grow beyond the noon shadow of a goat. By late July we knew something was very wrong, (even the weeds struggled) but it took a few more weeks for me to remember what I’d done… (Yup… My fault.) Oh c’mon! If the ground had looked any different from the rest of the garden when I tilled it, it might have occurred to me then; but it looked great! (it still had moisture) As I stood there thinking about what might possibly be the problem, I remembered the go-kart track (Picture a small light bulb briefly illuminating over my head, replaced shortly by a dark storm cloud as I realized what an idiot I am). Years ago I’d stripped the topsoil off this area with a dozer when I was building our first go-kart track. (For the boy’s,… of course.) I’d completely forgotten! Yea,… Ooops!
Things tend not to grow so well in subsoil even if it does look good. I’ve been cooking down a large pile of old hay bales into compost all summer, and I’ll till it into the new garden space next spring. That should help…
By chance the potato bin I built wound up on this same piece of ground as well. Given that the bin was filled with good soil mixed with red sand a few inches at a time over several weeks excludes the poor soil from the lousy ‘tater harvest in this case. Even our best soil is still pretty heavy with clay, so despite the liberal application of sand (well over 50%) the lower half of the bin stayed too wet. Another disappointment, but another lesson learned. Next year we’ll use straw with a bit of cured compost, and raise the bin off the ground enough to let it drain better. That should help. The ground we’ve expanded into (the old go-kart track) should improve greatly with liberal amounts of compost tilled in, and I’m also planning on a much improved irrigation system for the whole works.
Yea, we’ve had some setbacks over the years, but despite all the headaches our accomplishments far outweigh the disappointments. Too often the difference between lost time and effort vs. education is attitude. Personally, I’d rather spend a few days every year learning the wrong way to do a thing than spend the thousands it would take to have some professor tell me how to do it their way… How about you?
Happy New Year Everyone! Hope you all had a blessed Christmas and are looking forward to an AMAZING 2014!!
We started off December by decorating. I love that the girls are now big enough to put our ugly, fake, redneckbeautiful, artificial tree together by themselves. They needed a little help from dad when it came to the lights but other than that, it was all them!
Jade came home for an early Christmas and we remembered to get a family picture this time. It’s not the best pic, but it’s all of us. 😀
December was a month of cookies, cookies, fudge, dipped pretzels, almond roca, and more cookies…….I really need to get back to work and away from my kitchen before I can’t button my pants!
This is what happens when you turn your back on the 9 year old with sprinkles in her hand.
Sadly we have received no snow so far this winter. Everything is brown and cold. These are our dormant raspberry bushes.
This goofy dog locked himself in the garden….he’s looking a bit worried. 😉
Digger hauled this home the day before Christmas Eve. It was his Christmas present to himself! As you can see he has LOTS of work to do on it.
We are praising God for a 2013 that was full of change and challenges and praying for a healthy, productive, and happy 2014.
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. 🙂
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.
Note: 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.
They are simply softened cream cheese spread on a thin slice of ham wrapped around pickled asparagus….and they are DELICIOUS!
Last 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
The last days of summer went out with unusually hot temperatures, and the first days of fall came in very wet (for around here anyway). September brought lots of changes with me going back to teaching at our local Christian School, and the girls going back to school there. My poor garden has been severely neglected, (it’s more like a jungle than a garden) but as you can see we are still harvesting the benefits of our early summer work.
Saturday has become my, baking/laundry/blogging/gardening/chicken coop cleaning day! I am trying to learn how to plan meals ahead of time and get as much done on the weekends as i can. I want to keep cooking real food from scratch as much as possible with this new schedule. This is a big challenge for me, as my organization skills are MINIMAL! (just ask my husband) Good thing my girls are big enough to help and the men in the house are patient. 😀
I have learned that gardening is all about NEXT year. So many things I want to change and do better next spring. I guess that’s part of the excitement of a garden. 🙂
This past month I posted about butchering our Cornish Cross chickens and then I wrote a story about Stinky going to the fair. After that post I had several people express concern about Stinky someday ending up in the cook pot. I want to assure everyone that Stinky will live out her free range life here at the Red Double Wide with no fear of ending up in the cook pot! 😀
This is a post for all you Stinky fans out there. If you’ve never heard of Stinky and want to know how Stinky got her name and why she is so special to us, click here.
When my girls picked out the hens they wanted to take to the fair. Stinky was an obvious choice. She is the most docile of all our chickens (given her history) and very easy to handle.
Over the past few weeks Jo, has been packing her around, singing to her, and training her to stand on the picnic table. When you show a chicken they should stand on the table in front of you without being held there.
A few times while Jo was “training” Stinky I would hear her firmly say “Stinky, you stay right here, I’ll be right back”. She would leave the chicken on the table, run in the house to tell me something “exciting” or grab something “important” and then run back out. That darn chicken would stay right where she was told every time, and Jo seemed to have absolute confidence Stinky would be there when she got back every time!
When fair time rolled around, I was not worried about Stinky. 🙂
Here she is taking her first bath in preparation for the fair.
It must have been an exhausting experience because as soon as the bath was over she had a snooze….. 🙂
We started our drive to the fair with the hens in a kennel. Stinky however, would not behave herself and kept picking on poor Goldie. She wound up riding on Jo’s lap… (I suspect a conspiracy here!)
Jo made sure Stinky got plenty of outside time and they both met new friends.
Meet two of Stinky’s new friends: Fire and Afro 😀
Show time was a little nerve-wracking for both of them. But all that “training” paid off!
We always knew she was a blue ribbon chicken!!
After four eventful days at the fair Stinky was VERY happy to be home with the rest of the ladies!
July was a month of bbq’s with great friends, many 4-H meetings, baby chicks, HOT weather, gardening, and allergies! Despite the sneezing, runny noses, and watery eyes it was a wonderful, busy month.
We started off the month by celebrating the 4th of July with a family trip to the beautiful San Juan Islands. It was a great trip and so wonderful to see family that we hadn’t seen for a while. Visiting the beach was also wonderful!
Two days after we got home from our little vacation our meat chicks arrived!
They are the girls 4-H projects. To read more about our meat chickens click here.
We have an AWESOME group of people from our church that came out and joined us for a taco feed and go-kart party. Our go-cart track goes through our hay field and it’s about three-fourths of a mile long. As you can see from the picture this is not a clean sport! Everyone was sooooooo dirty but it was a blast!
Hope all of you had a great July! In August I’m looking forward to our county fair and preserving the harvest from my garden.