Saturday, May 31, 2014

My day didn't turn out like I'd thought it would ...

This one is going to be a tad bit all over the place.  Please bear with me.

Last night when I went to bed I started hearing something outside.  At first I thought it was coyotes or dogs.  Nope, it was owls. I've never heard owls make calls like this before.

This morning we decided to make a run into town for a few supplies before tackling the garden and whatnot.  Then my guy spotted an ad on craigslist for a truck.  He's been looking for a while and got in touch with the seller and set up a time to check it out.

When we were in town at Walmart the power went out.  You could hear a gasp from all over the store. Then we headed over to Menard*s and it was the same thing.

Then we went up to check out the truck and while talking to the seller my guy found out the seller was looking for a convertible car.  Well ... we just so happen to have a convertible.  Long story short, we really like the truck and the seller was interested in doing a trade. So ...

Say hello to our new truck! It's a 2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD. This truck has SO many options.  I don't even think I've ridden in a vehicle that has the amount of options it has.  It will take a while to learn all of them, if we ever do. Seriously, it's that many.

My guy is a VERY happy man.  This truck has everything we wanted and a TON more.

Remember the bit about the convertible?

We traded our 1995 Mustang 5.0 for the new truck. The seller took one look at it and was smitten.  He took it for a test drive and then I think he fell in love.

My guy and I have talked a little bit about selling the Mustang for a while.  It's a great car and was lots of fun to drive, but we are in a place in our lives where we need a truck more than a fun car.  This whole thing worked out perfect.  Inspired, even.

After returning home and getting the smoker set up my guy comes back to the house and asks me "Does a bear "poo" in the woods?"  I said "Yes," and he goes "No, it poos in our yard."

Yes, this is a picture of bear poo.

 Apparently it was fresh. I'm not so happy to have proof that a bear is hanging around again. When I tucked the chickens in tonite I noticed a corn cob that we have given the chickens was all chewed up. We are gonna have to start being careful of food in the yard now.

One of the resident squirrels has started knocking the suet cake feeder off the hook again.  The bird seed feeder has been cleaned out as well.  I wouldn't have thought a squirrel would have ventured out in the rain we had today.  Oh boy, we had rain.  Heavy, then light, then heavy and then a warm summer sprinkling.  It started earlier than I thought it would and lasted up until just a bit ago. Too bad I didn't get my garden stuff in. 

Speaking of garden stuffs, more of our fruit trees are dead.  Such a bummer. 

For supper tonite we had chicken that was cooked in the new electric smoker.  We used cherry wood for the smoke. Yum! It was so good.  We usually use oak or birch, sometimes apple.  Cherry is a very nice flavor.  I'd have this again.  It was so pretty on my plate I had to take a picture.

Then for dessert I made a loaf of bread. I have fallen out of the habit of making bread the last few months so this was an extra special treat.  It turned out perfect.

The rest of my evening I spent chilling.  It's been an exciting day for me. 

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy
1. My DH got a new truck.
2. Supper turned out aweseome. 
3. Looking up canning recipes
4. I found my DH's tackle box so I can go fishing next weekend. 

5. My son trying to make me laugh.

Friday, May 30, 2014

My son's talent show

My son's latchkey program had a talent show this evening, followed by a social.

After the day I had it was a welcome diversion.  Technology was not my friend at work and the day felt far longer than it really was.

For the show a bunch of the kids did their individual talents and at the end all the kids got up on stage to perform "What does the fox say?"

My son is the one in the middle with the green Jason mask.  He said he was a frog. 

For those that want to see the whole routine, here you go:

We got home about 7:30 p.m., I think.  Before getting home I called my guy to check in and he told me there were hundreds of bees around the apple tree in our back yard. We have an old crabby tree near the chicken coop.  I went out there (forgot my camera) and all I heard was the humming of the bees.  I could just make out the bumblers going from flower to flower.  Pretty neat stuff to see.

 I have several grand delusions of what I feel I need to get done tomorrow.  It will be great if I get it all done.  I *must* finish planting the garden. That is top priority since it's supposed to rain this weekend.

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy
1. Seeing my son in this program.  He had so much fun. 

2. Bug spray.  Oh it's good stuff

3. I have one more week to go and then it's vay-cay time. 

4. It was a six egg day. Woo hoo!

5. I am making some time for knitting tonite.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursdays are for rhubarb

One of my coworkers brought me a rhubarb plant today.  I am so, so excited about this.  I've wanted a rhubarb patch for years.

It spent a good chunk of the day in my car and the sun was a bit intense.  It's sad looking.  My coworker assured me that it's a resilient plant.

She also gave me an oregano plant. ... I forgot to take a picture of that.  We also planted some asparagus roots we got from Menard*s.  Fingers crossed those take.  I want an asparagus patch too.

I did take a photo of my sugar snap peas.

And my pole beans. The little hills on the right contain my cucumber seedlings.

 While the trees were being watered we found a little frog.  Can you see it?  I had a hard time getting a photo of it because it blended in so well.

We cleaned up leaves from the backyard. Nothing too exciting about that. A mess of pine needles got cleaned up as well and now there is a barren-ish patch in the back yard. It will be interesting if the grass comes back.

When I walked back from the woods I caught my son reading out by the chicken coop.  I hope to see more of this come summer.  When school lets out for the year he's not going to be able to play video games much, if at all. TV time will also be restricted.  He already knows this and he is not too happy about it but he knows I won't change my mind.

Earlier in the evening he was hanging with Brewster and he told me how Brewster and Buck are in a war and he's kind of on both sides and wants to help them.  I thought that was sweet, then told him to be cautious around Brewster.  Buck was on the roost tonite when I went out to tuck them in.  I was impressed with him. No more sleeping on the feed bucket for him, I guess.

I felt sorry for the big chickens.  It wasn't terribly warm in the coop but they were doing the wings out and pant thing.  I brought out a fan and put it on them for a bit, drawing cool air from outside.  They started making hooting sounds like monkeys.  My son and I had a good laugh over this.  I'm not sure if the fan helped at all but it was amusing to see all their fanny feathers go blowing in the breeze.

I made some of my DH's cookies and some chocolate chip cookies for my son.  I played with the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies and I don't care for it.  My son says the cookies are good with milk.  Hopefully that's true cause I hate to have to toss them, but I also don't want to force him to eat something that is not good.

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy
1. I got a rhubarb plant to start my own patch!

2. The temps were "just right" outside.  I didn't overheat.

3. Seeing an oriole this morning.

4. Daydreaming about summer actitivties

5. Chatting with my friends today.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bicycle, bicycle. I want to ride my bicyle ...

Today was a work-at-home day and I took advantage of the nice weather and went for a bike ride at lunch time.  I am really out of shape. However, my new bike rocks! I can go up the little hills without having to stop. I'm still getting a hang of the shifting system.

Then, after supper, the whole family went for a bike ride..My son didn't put bug spray on so when we stopped he was eaten alive by mosquitoes.  He also gives me some anxiety when I watch him ride his bike because he's all over the place.  In my head I know the only way he is going to get better at bike riding is practice, but still ... my baby is all wibbly-wobbly on his bike.  I usually end up putting my head down so I can't see it.

In no particular order, photos from both my bike rides today.

I live in such a pretty area.  Remind me of that come July and it's HOT, :-)

Otherwise it was a pretty quiet day. All the chickens are fine. Well ... Brewster has taken to sleeping on top of the food bucket in the coop.

I was listening to a plethora of podcasts from the Survival Mom Radio network and one of the podcasters mentioned how it's very hard for Roos when there are more than a couple.  They have to really fight for their place in the pecking order.  I hate to see any of them getting picked on.  I wish they would play nice with each other.

A few of the other podcasts gave me a bit to think about.  It was all really interesting stuff.

For supper we had a jar of the hamburger that I processed this weekend.  Pretty darn tasty and oh so tender. I threw in some TVP to bulk it up a bit and it was a hit.

The weekend weather forecast has rain. I had better get the rest of the garden planted so I can take advantage of the rain. I'm happy to see the snap peas popping up.  In past years very few pea pods have made it out of the garden.  We pluck them off the plant and eat the whole pod.  I think it's better than candy.  The pods are just the right amount of sweet and it satisfies that itch.

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy

1. Getting myself out for two bike rides today and I didn't die.

2. There are two of those Indigo buntings coming to the bird feeder.

3. My feet no longer hurt.

4. My DH made more jerky and it is so good.

5. This song: I like to move it, move it.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Finally, some nice weather

The weather has been really nice the last few days.  Last week we had the wood stove running, this week people are talking about putting their air conditioners in because of the heat and humidity.

Our yard is finally greening up and the trees are leafing out, almost overnight.

Unfortunately the mosquitos have hatched out and are making meals out of us.  Now if we want to spend a significant amount of time outdoors bug spray must be used.  While I was daydreaming about summer I forgot about the bugs.

The second batch of homegrown babies have been out for a few days and I don't think you could bring them back into the house.  They love it out there.  They haven't figured out how they can go into the little coop and sleep in there at night.  They sleep out in the main run part.  At least one is sporting a bigger comb.  Le sigh, I just don't know what we are gonna do with all these boys.

When my DH went out to check on the guineas and turkeys he noticed that there was some blood in the coop.  We tracked down that it belongs to one of the Americaunas.  One of the guineas poked at her head and we noticed she had blood on her in a few places.  We can't track down the source and she can't be left in the coop so for a few days she will be a house chicken.  She is not a happy girl. She's been trying to jailbreak for the last hour.

I'm still recovering from my epic canning session.  My feet don't hurt much. I still feel absolutely wiped. It will probably take me the rest of the week to recover.  Just in time for the weekend and I will be a busy bee unless the weather is bad. The garden isn't completely planted yet.  Crazy.  Oh! My pole beans have really taken off.  I should have taken a picture.  There was nothing yesterday and they are almost two inches tall today. 

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy

1. Seeing the sun. 

2. Work was fairly quiet so I was able to stay on task, for the most part. 

3. My feet don't ache as much. 

4. Hershey's chocolate and peanut butter.  Such a great combo!

5. Hearing the frogs. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

The canning season has started

Yesterday I started processing about 125 pounds of ground beef.  Yes, you read that right, 125 pounds of ground beef.

There was a good sale on ground beef at one of the local grocery stores this past week and DH thought it would be good to put in a bulk order and rotate out the freezer stuff.  I don't think either one of us had any idea how much ground beef was in the freezer.

In preparation for this I had picked up eight cases of pint jars from Menard*s last week.  I have some home stock but wanted make sure I had enough jars.

Yesterday morning started with a bit of a bang of sorts.  I woke up at 5 a.m. to my son being sick in the bathroom.  Poor guy.  He spent most of the day in bed. 

Anywho, after I got him taken care of and the mess taken care of it was almost 6 a.m. and I decided to start the project. 

My DH helped when he could.  He had his own projects to tend too.  The morning flew by.  I had both of my pressure canners going. I have two 16 quart pressure canners. They hold 10 pint jars at a time.

Once 1 p.m. rolled around my feet had started hurting and time started getting really slow. My kitchen was a disaster.  It's interesting how this took up ALL of my counter space, my table and the rolling cart I have.

I didn't even eat supper.  I nibbled in between loads.  About 8 p.m. I  started wondering if I could even get this done in one evening.  I posted something on the FB canning group I belong too and one person tipped their hat to me for this most ambitious canning project I have ever done.

I decided that I would probably be up til 1 a.m. finishing this up and I think my guy was ready to stay up with me.

However, about 11 p.m. both the canners were winding down on the current loads, I had 25 pints left to go and was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (I couldn't believe how long this had been going on.) I opened one of the canners and discovered that it had boiled nearly dry and the bottom of my canner was warped. 

I threw in the towel and told my guy that I was done.  D-O-N-E, done for the night.  NO way was I going to get it done.  I was also peeved over the fact my canner ran almost dry.  I had been loading more then the recommended water amount too.  Grrrr.

This a.m. the alarm went off (because it's Monday even though I don't have to be at work) and we ran to town real quick and picked me up a new canner and came home.

While jars were processing I worked in the garden and I wrapped my project up by removing the rings, washing the rings and washing all the jars that I could.

This may not look like much since I have the jars back in the cases.  This is 108 pint jars, seven quart jars and there are five jars still sitting on my table waiting to get cleaned.  Total is 120 jars.

I don't think I will ever do a processing job as big as this again.  I forgot that from start to finish it takes about two hours for one canner load.  I usually do more water bath canning so I forget that pressure canning takes so much longer.

I think I want salad for supper tomorrow.

Seriously this is going to save us SO much time over the next year and will greatly simplify dinner meals. 

In other news this weekend, we had family out at the homestead which was great like always. 

Afterwards the family decided to go cruising around and checking out the local lakes. My GPS died on me even though I put fresh batteries in it.  There are a lot of little lakes around and so many roads going all around them.  It would be very easy to get lost.

We stopped at one and let my son throw a line out. He caught a few little sunfish. None big enough to be keepers however.

Today was a hot day.  The animals were feeling it.  My DH caught the two Reds snuggling next to each other during a dust bath.  They looked so ridiculous.

While I was working in the garden my DH looked up how to tell boy and girl turkeys apart.  Looks like we have one of each for the bronze turkeys.  The white turkey is a boy too.  He's the tallest out of the three.

Mr. Turkey decided to show off a bit today and fan his tail out.  My goodness he's pretty.  His neck has also started changeing color.

So now we have a breeding pair for turkeys.  To keep or not?  I have a feeling we have two new pets and breeding stock.  Unless they turn into real jerks.

Tomorrow it's back to the grind.  Such a shame since the weather has finally turned nice and I want to do a ton of things at home and outside.

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy

1. The epic canning project is DONE. 

2. Being able to sleep with the windows open.  That is so nice.

3. Getting to eat meals outside.  I've missed that.

4. Things are starting to come up in the garden.

5. Being able to spend time with family. It's not easy to coordinate all our schedules so I'm always happy when it works out. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Good day, sunshine!

Thank you to all who took the time to read my son's guest blog post Tuesday night.  He was delighted to read all the comments and feed back.  You guys totally made his day.  I don't know if him writing will become a regular thing but I'm so happy he had such a positive experience.  He did the whole thing himself, including resizing and color adjusting on the images.

Last night I didn't write because it was the season finale of Survivor and I just *had* to see who won. I'm not surprised Tony won. Tony was a good player even if I'm not sure I liked the persona he was portraying.

On to other things.

First, I have to share this photo of the beautiful BLUE sky.  We've had cloudy skies the last few days.  The sun came out this afternoon and it was such a happy surprise when I left work.

Okay, now for the really exciting news.  My incubator arrived yesterday!

I was lucky enough to be home when it was delivered so I was able to set it up right away and calibrate the temperature.  It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be.  Course I'm used to looking at the bitty little Brinsea's.

This is a Janoel 8-48 that was purchased from an eBay seller.

It's set up in my craft room.  When I first started filling the water channels I kept pouring water in (because I didn't know better) and after a while I heard the water pouring out of the overflow.  Ooops.  It's not noisy at all. So far the only thing that annoys me is that the alarm goes off when you lift the lid.

It's currently chock full of eggs.  Today is day two though some of the eggs in there were laid today.  This is really exciting.  I can't decide if this is more exciting than when Elvis goes broody.  I'm almost giddy at all the potential baby chicks.  I know the hatch rate won't be as high but it will be more than what Elvis can sit on.  I'll post occasional updates.

Speaking of Elvis; guess who's hanging out in the nesting boxes again?

 She's laid two eggs this week.  I give her two more weeks and she will want to be broody again.

Buck and Honk's beaks seem do be coming along nicely.   Today was their first evening out of the shelter in a few days. I swear Buck has grown almost to the same size as Brewster.  Could be my eyes playing tricks on me.  

The turkeys, guineas and other chicks are growing by leaps and bounds.  They all are still happy in the new coop.  I wonder how much longer they can stay in there before outgrowing the space.  I can see the guineas are already taking on their adult "walk." They aren't as upright as they used to be.

This morning I noticed at least one bear has discovered our bird feeders.  Most of them were knocked down, including my outside thermometer.  I was not pleased.  My DH went out and set up the hummingbird feeders again because we had three hummers out there waiting for the feeders. The hopper style bird feeder I have survived but one of the welds is busted. 

For tonite's dinner I picked up some smelt for the boys.  I don't eat fish.  Smelt is a huge treat for my son.  He LOVES it.  They went out back and my DH showed our son how to clean smelt.

As you can see, they Wynadotte (aka Greedy Gut) was right there, looking for a handout.

 In this photo you can see the feeders.  The suet cake holder is higher than it used to be. We have a lot of birds coming now. *Someone* cleaned out the one feeder.  Birds are messy.

This was after a few smelt heads were tossed to the girls.  They love fish and play "keep-away."

Brewster was in his glory, calling the girls over to get what he "found" 

No-tailed Red coming back for more.

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy

1. Getting out for a walk at lunch.  I miss walking on my lunch hour.

2. My average MPG is really good right now. I hardly have to run the heat in my car now and it shows in the increased MPG.

3. I'm meeting a friend for coffee tomorrow.  I haven't seen her in almost two years. 

4. My DH cooked the smelt outside so it didn't mess up the kitchen. 

5. I had homemade hummus for supper. I thought the flavor was excellent!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Guest blog entry from my son

My son pleaded with me to be able to write his very own blog post.  Being the good mother that I am, I agreed. Enjoy!

The babies are growing up so fast. :)  They keep pecking me, especially the gray one. As you can see the yellow one is training them to fly and telling them how to take over the world >:)

The gray one is in position and getting ready to fly the other 2 are watching to see if the gray one will be able to fly and the teacher is watching to see if the training is successful and the other one is taking a water break. 

 The white one is congratulating the gray one for flying :)  and now they celebrate by having a food and water party!!!!!!!! Chickens can do whatever they want at food and water parties, like take pine shaving baths or stuff there faces with food or ram into the wall or take naps and snuggle, all sorts of stuff.

As you can see they are partying and the gray one is going to ram into the wall and the white one is going to stuff her face with and the black one is looking for a spot to take a nap

Daily 5 things of the day that made me happy

1. I had nachos for lunch.
2. I found a good minecraft server.
3. I got to do a bunch of tricks and do flips on my trampoline.
4. I ate a potato.
5. Doing this blog.