Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shasta rear view - before and after

I couldn't resist a before and after comparison of the Shasta's back end.  What a change! Here's what I learned you need: Goo-gone, a razor scraper, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and a cold beer.   Spray, wait, carefully scrape.  Re-apply when the going gets tough.  Drink the beer while you stare at all the glue.  Scrape some more.  By far the worst stickers were the ones that had silver backing and the lettering spelling out the names.  Also, there was one above the windows that was actually three stickers applied one on top of the other.  That was horrible and I admit I took some paint off with that one. The magic eraser works wonders for cleaning the siding.

Before:


After:



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Shasta 1400 Renovation - first look exterior

Here's where I'm starting with the Shasta renovation.  I haven't opened anything up yet, but here are some photos of the original exterior for my records.



Looks like the poor thing got backed into at some point.


Ugly. Hopefully a pressure washing will blast some of this rust off.  Eventually I'll paint this.  Need to figure out how to re-attach the skin on each side of the hitch.

Moving on to the curbside.  Dings in the doors, black sealant slopped All. Over. The. Place.  Every stinkin' seam. 




I love this feature - you can bring the dinette table out and attach it to the side of the camper.


Moving on to the back. 



All of the windows are intact.  The back one just has my plates taped in place with painter's tape. 


And around the driver side.


The vent (?) where the icebox would have been is missing.  It's covered with plexiglass.  More gunk slopped all over.  It's on every single seal on the camper.  This is going to be work.  Also, you can see where someone removed the original wings.  How sad is that.  


Shot of the roof taken from an upstairs window.  It appears to have roofing tar smeared all over it and then paint on top.  Note the classy wood and brick fix over the missing vent.  


It looks like all of the exterior lights are original.  They don't work and I don't know why, but we'll get to that.  Whoever Mike and Faye were they had some awesome travels with this little camper.  They also left me some really cool stuff I found while I was cleaning out the kitchen,  I'll share interior pictures next time. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Impulse buy at the auction

There are several Amish communities in our area that host big summer benefit auctions.  There's one nearby that I try to go to every year.  It is HUGE, with six auctioneers running at the same time.  Plants, quilts, handmade furniture, antiques, animals - all manner of things get auctioned off here.  I never really buy anything except food (hot Bavarian donuts!).  With so much going on at the same time, honestly it can be overwhelming to try to time bidding on items in different locations around the farm.  It's so much fun, though.  I love auctions.  This one especially - there is a time where the buggy horses and ponies are "test driven" up and down the rural road before bidding starts.  This year there was a team of huge draft horses, Belgians I think, that were being test driven around the auction site by several men interested in bidding. I wish I could have taken pictures, it was so beautiful.

Eventually I wandered over to the small animal/poultry section to see what was going to be for sale.  Just to look, I told myself.  Rabbits of all colors and sizes, a lone quail, some pigeons, lots of roosters and lots of banty chickens.  "Bite sized" I joked with another bidder.  There was a gorgeous banty rooster and hen pair the size of potato chips being sold in a wire rabbit cage.  My high bid for just the cage would have been $7, I always need things like that.  

The bidding started.  I was dumbfounded.  There wasn't a single rabbit that went for more than $1.50 and the chickens were AVERAGING 75 cents each.  Including 14 week old roosters for $1 each - WHY did I grow my own chickens this year??  I was too stunned to commit and bid, mentally trying to work out where I would put them, when would I have time to butcher, etc. Then the bantys were auctioned.  

When the pair came up that I liked I raised my hand and the result was this:
  

"Ah, hell."  I texted my husband.  I had just effectively bought a pair of yard ornaments.  

But oh, are they gorgeous.   Within a couple of hours of being home, the hen laid an egg.
  

This morning they and the turkeys were installed in the poultry pasture.  Mama hen was not pleased.


 She walked straight over and bit the hen.  Then the rooster came over and lowered his wing and circled.  She promptly beat the hell out of him.




The turkeys were oblivious to the whole thing.


And fell asleep.


Everyone settled down quickly and are now totally ignoring each other.  


Tonight I'll move mama and baby out into the big chicken yard in a temporary house and the turkeys and banty duo can have the coop.  Incidentally, I suspect we already found out why this rooster ended up at the auction.  We woke up to a high-pitched crow that sounded like someone had kicked a standard-sized rooster in the man parts.  It's indescribable and not in a good way.

I've never stayed for the poultry part of the auction before and next year I'll be prepared.  If roosters are seriously being sold for $1 again, I'll pick up a dozen and either do them myself or make an appointment to have someone else process them.  No more banty roosters though, this one little guy is enough.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Welcome home, Shasta

After searching literally every day for over two years, I finally bought a camper.  Say hello to my new best friend, my 1973 Shasta 1400.


Hello friend!  I've been waiting!

After stalking Craigslist, Ebay and all of the local shopper ads, it was my dad who found this little number sitting waaaaaay back in the trade-in lot of a dealership half an hour away.  It had been there for awhile.  Litter left in the camper makes me think it was last taken out in 1996, I have no idea how long it had been at the dealership.  They didn't even know what I was talking about when I called to ask about it.  After buying it I had it towed to a tire place to have the brakes checked, bearings packed, a new wheel and a pair of tires put on.  It's going to need some work to make sure it's water tight and travel safe, then I can paint the outside and spruce up the inside.

A shout out to the great and friendly folks over at Vintage Trailer Talk !  The thought of doing things like repairing water damage, fixing electric and removing the aluminum skin made me feel ill before I joined this site.  The amazing people I've talked to there have given me the confidence to dive in on repairs.

I'm thinking those tan stripes are going to be painted a pine green color, or maybe red,  and the interior done up with (usable!) vintage camping gear.  No glamping here.  Think Stanley, Coleman, Hudson Bay type stuff. Also, a small piece of taxidermy.  As the husband put it: "So you want Mark Trail's den?" Yes, yes I do.
Yeah, sorry Mark, but this camper project is probably partially your fault.  





Thursday, June 23, 2016

Done, done, done. Almost

The vegetable garden is finally in. About 45x65 this year including the strip in the back - 5 kinds of winter squash planted back there.  On the far left (dirt) today I put in amaranth, "Bloody Butcher" dent corn, lima beans, more herbs and carving pumpkins for the kids.


Overhead shot taken from upstairs window.  

Only a month late, the last of it got finished today.  Well, almost.  I still have a sweet corn "Country Gentleman" that needs to be put in to the right of the pine tree, behind the snow peas..  However, it is humid and I can take no more of the tiller at the moment and the tiller can take more of me I'm sure.  Yesterday I did this when I wasn't paying attention for .5 seconds.


Sigh.

Through the weeds and up the fence.  It was terrible.  To make things worse, it was the first time I was actually trusted to do the tilling myself.  I suspect other people suspect I might cut a foot off or something.  I messed with it for awhile then just cut a whole section of the fence out and took everything into the shade to deal with.  It ended up being very easy to deal with but now the fence needs patched.  So, enough for today.  It looks like we're going to get a nice storm here shortly anyway.  What the heck, it will all get done eventually, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What to do with that buttermilk...



I was staring into the refridgerator yesterday and trying to figure out what I could do with the half quart of buttermilk that's been sitting there.  I'm not sure why I bought it?  Or long it's been there? It smelled fine and the "use by" date wasn't until today... and we also needed bread.  A quick google gave me this recipie.  It was the first one that came up in the search and it had good ratings.


I followed the recipe more or less.  As in I didn't really measure anything and I couldn't find the ground ginger so I grated fresh.  Oh, my goodness.  Is this amazing!  Really, really good.  I only made one loaf, which was a mistake.  It will be gone within a day. This recipe will be taped on the refrigerator and go into regular rotation.


I used this vintage baking dish.  It's got a "W" on this lid, I assume it was made by Westinghouse?  I wonder if it was included when you bought an appliance?  Or did they sell bake ware?  I should probably pick up another one of these as backup next time I see one at a garage sale.


The bread is so amazing, I'll have to take a look around her site and see what else I might want to try.  I will say that the directions were super confusing even for someone who bakes a lot.  I could see how it might be hard for someone to follow who isn't familiar with bread baking.  "Put dry ingredients in mixer bowl.  Add wet ingredients.  Turn mixer on."  Might have been better.  Also, the white sugar seemed redundant so I omitted it.  I left the lid on the bread for the first 15 so it could proof and then took it off for the last 15.  So good! Who cares if it's 90 degrees today? Let's bake!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Outside this morning


A pot of herbs outside the back door.  Parsley, sage & thyme.


Our little dogwood tree is so beautiful this year.  Little man for scale.


The south end of the garden.  Lettuce & kale, carrots, onions,  cabbage, beans, snow peas.  Rhubarb and asparagus.  Look at all of the potatoes! Volunteer sunflowers and glads.  Mulched the paths with straw left from the coldframe.  The poultry "helped" by picking through it for seeds all winter and adding fertilizer.


The poultry "nursery" house in the middle of the garden.  Momma hen and her duckling are in here now.  After a couple of weeks, they'll move back to the big yard with everyone else and the turkey will live in this house for the summer.  The poultry pasture was new to the garden this year and looks to be a big hit.


Poultry pasture. This area was sown with a mix of alfalfa, clover and whatever expired seeds I had tucked away (mustard, kale, turnip) that I thought poultry would eat.  Also, buckwheat for the bees and nasturtums for good looks.  I'm hoping the tukeys will enjoy it.  Any bald areas you see are where I planted canna bulbs.  They'll look pretty, and poultry love, love, love japanese beetles.  Which love canna.  So hopefully it will be a self-serve thing instead of me hand-picking the bugs (ew) and feeding them like I do every other year.


The currants are coming on.



And the wild strawberries are still giving us snacks.


 And these little guys are getting cuter every day.  Still no homes for the 4 of them plus mama.  I call the shelter every Tuesday to check.  




Time to get started with the day.  Bread is rising, little man and I are going to hit the post office and maybe the thrift store and then more Ebay listings.  





Friday, June 17, 2016

Babies everywhere

There are babies everywhere right now.  I don't think the cuteness factor has ever been higher.
The little man has just been off the charts adorable lately.  He's learning new sounds and has been in a super good mood.  We sat out on the porch during a storm the other day and he waved his arms around and exclaimed over everything he saw.  It's obvious that he has his own words for the things and that he's talking and sometimes asks questions.  He's getting good at the "ba" sound and I'm waiting for him to call Bee by name since he just adores her.

In other baby news,  mama hen hatched out one lone duckling yesterday.  You can just see a tiny bill sticking out.

She is still looking rabid when I get near her and so far that's the only egg that's hatched.  I wonder how long I wait to take up the rest of the eggs?  She's going to need to get off the nest and take care of that little one sooner than later.  Tomorrow I suppose.


The tiny turkeys have moved out of what they must have considered turkey hell in our basement and are now living in the garage with the kittens.  They're safe in a pet crate.  From what I read the broad breasted whites can be a little hard to raise, but so far these two are really sturdy and healthy. 


Also, a random shot of eggs collected this morning.  The runner hens bury theirs sometimes so I suspect there are more out there somewhere.  The bottom one is a duck egg.




Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The value of "junk"

I was going about my little chores this morning, distributing water and feed, snuggling kittens ( ahem, socializing kittens) and it struck me how many things get repurposed around this place and how useful it can be to have a bit of what other people might call "junk"lying about the place.  I am starting to really understand how old farms end up littered with it.

The kittens are a good example.  Didn't see that one coming.  And they can't just bounce all over the garage because they're in that trying to climb-up-your-pants-leg stage.  So.. the kittens are safely cornered off in a little play area by sections of fencing from an old wire rabbit crate held together with zip ties.  Their area has an old pet carrier scored from a yardsale (purchased for $2 with a broody chicken in mind) along with a tiny litter box (from when Bee had surgery, but also useful as a duckling pool) a cat bed (also from Bee's surgery) and vintage bowls for food and water.

My "feed scoops" are plastic coffee containers that I brought home from work.  Water buckets came from who-knows-where.  Plastic pots are saved for frost covers and seed starting. When I wanted to get quail I started stalking Craigslist for a used rabbit hutch.  Around here, for some reason, that will set you back $60-$100.  The quail are here for eggs and those would be some expensive eggs. So when the people down the road were moving and set this out for pickup I stopped and grabbed it.


Yep, that looks like crap.  I'm not crazy.

But, add some spray paint, hinges and scrap wood and you get this:




The decrative part at the top is from an old pump organ and we had the hardware cloth. 

It's really useful to have just the right thing on hand, especially if the project only needs to be thrown together short-term like the kitten room.  I guess the key is not to let too many "useful someday" items pile up.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The rural update

It's been a busy couple of weeks.  We were so lucky to get away for a few days and drive to NC to see the North Carolina State Sheepdog Trial Championship!   What an awesome event.  To see these great working dogs with the sheep was just fantastic.



We had a few surprises going on at home while we were gone though.  The first was that I got a call about mid-trip - a raccoon had gotten in the chicken yard and torn apart the shelter the 10 peeps were staying in.  It was a total blood bath. Five of the peeps were set to go to a friend and the other 5 were going to be harvested at the end of the summer.  Although have been absolutely plagued with raccoons since we moved here this is the first attack we've had.  This is a problem we just can't turn the tide on, no matter how hard we try to get the numbers down.  Oh well, you win some you lose some.  RIP peeps.

The second surprise happened the morning after we got home.  I went to the garage to get feed and I heard a squeaking noise.  A bird?  I looked all over, nothing, and then looked down.  Not a bird.  Kittens. Four kittens.  Yes, we have cats but they are INSIDE cats and are BOTH FIXED.  I've been seeing a little black cat on our property for about a month, sometimes she hangs out in the garage (there's a gap at the bottom where she comes and goes) but I couldn't tell she was pregnant. Awesome.  I set the little family up with a litter box, food and water and started knocking on doors.  Of course no one knows anything about who the cat belongs to.  So I started calling shelters.  We are on a waiting list.  This whole situation pisses me off to no end.  If you have cats-fix them. No one around here fixes their cats, they all run wild on our property spraying our car, peeing on our front door and now having kittens in our garage.  I love cats, I just can't stand some cat owners.  Meanwhile, how does work get done when I'm greeted by this? It doesn't.


No, I can't keep them.  I already pleaded my case on this one and was denied.

The red rangers and silkies were sent to the butcher this week.  The red rangers were a huge success, they fattened up really well and were really nice chickens to have on the property.  I kept one hen back for eggs but the rest went.   I was worried that they would be a disappointment carcass-wise because they weren't Cornish Cross, but no.  There wasn't a single one I was unhappy with. They've been parted up and put in the freezer, fat rendered, stock made.  I also made pate with the livers using the recipe from Hank Shaw's glorious book Duck, Duck Goose.  Check out Hank's beautiful website here  What did I learn from this project?
  • Red Rangers are awesome and easy with a big payoff.  Order more next year.
  • Figure out a better way to wrangle the chickens into boxes on Goodbye Day.  My "cattle chute" fence I half-assed together was knocked down by the very first chicken.  Running around with a net screaming profanities at chickens does not endear you to the neighbors.
  • Please, please have all knives professionally sharpened before picking the chickens up. I watched the woman at the processing place working and I might consider a heavy duty meat cleaver also.
  • Pate is glorious.  Livers + brandy + cream + butter = a product like Heaven's version of Vienna Sausages.  Also, although you can make it in a NutriBullet, it's probably not health food.

The lone ranger is the chicken on the far right.  Hey, they move quick. What can I say?

 
Another chicken picture. The hen in the back is the daughter of the pair in the front.
 

Lastly, caused a scene picking up my baby turkeys from Agway.  The Agway is in the next town over, decidedly NOT rural.  I was running errands so I was cleaned up and had on a fresh coat of lipstick and actually looked semi-pulled together.  Walked in and announced that I was there to pick up my turkey order.  The nice lady at the counter asked if I wanted to pick out the turkeys?  Sure I did.  I selected two healthy, feisty looking babies.  "Oh, I like that one!" "Oh, that's a cute one!" she exclaimed.  That should have been my first hint of events to come.  Meanwhile, there are two guys watching this who look like they've just been outside working, rolling their eyes at the whole scene.  Turkeys were boxed up and taken to the register, making a racket the whole way.  Farm-y guys are now in line behind me.  "Oh, they're so loud!" she said  "Listen to them! When you get home you should name them Peep and Re-peep!"  Oh man. It took me a second. "Um, how about Gravy and Leftovers?  No, we're going to eat these. They're not pets."  I heard a snort behind me and one of the guys started laughing.  I went on "They're going to be for meat.  I mean, are people actually buying these AS PETS?"  I thought this woman was going to pass out.  She actually put a hand to her chest and said "oh, my heart's just pattering! Oh.  I hope so.  I love animals!"  Lady you work at a FEED STORE.  I love animals too.  Sometimes just on my plate.  I assured her they'd have a good life and got the hell out of there before someone called PETA.

It's always something around here.