Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Thrift store finds Tuesday

I buy very little "new" here. The vast majority of what you see comes from estate sales, auctions, flea markets or thrift stores. It's fun to hunt for treasures and when we are talking about vintage things, frankly I think they were often designed and constructed better than what you can find now.

It was a treat that I was able to go to our little local thrift store twice this week. This is what I found.

Vintage Fisher Price barn, $2.00

It's in fantastic shape and "moos" when you open the barn doors. The sides are made of wood and fixed with tiny nails. I think we all know I really bought this for myself but the little man loves it. He immediately took it outside and filled the hayloft with sticks and the barn with rocks. 

Books. 25c each. The backhoe book is now a favorite along with, surprisingly, the Kermit Clean Up book.

Children's clothes, 25c each. I buy ahead for the little man when I find fun things and they get stored in bins until he grows into them. The little camping onesie for the baby is too cute. For the short amount of time they fit into things it seems really unnecessary to buy this stuff new.

Ok, this is ugly. BUT I think it's going to look fantastic once it's painted. It will hang in the camper, right inside the door.  A great place to hang our keys and store campground maps. Look at the tiny corkboard! It's perfect

Lots of fun stuff for under $10 total. Plus I feel good shopping at this store because all of the profits support things like our local food pantry.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Storms, game camera, cooking & a day out

We had a couple of major winter storms here over the last week, but they were odd in that we would get very heavy snow overnight and it would start thawing and melting by noon the next day.  Not like I'm complaining about that.

The first storm was the worst and came with heavy winds that knocked a large section out of a tree in our front yard.  Luckily it missed the house and the power lines.  We were able to get it cut up later in the week and stacked for firewood.  The guys did anyway.  I was told to quit hauling things around so pretty much picked up sticks with the little guy.

We lost a chicken in the storm.  Not the feral chickens, they're used to finding good shelter and came through without a feather missing.  I didn't notice that one of the red hens managed to get over of the fence in spite of having her wings clipped.  She was caught out in the rain and snow and by the next day was pretty much a chicken popsicle.  I did my best to get her thawed out and she seemed fine that day but I found her dead in a nest box the next morning.  

Not one to be wasteful, I thought to put the body out in the orchard and set up the game cameras to see who showed up for the free buffet.  

Crows, a feral cat, opossums, foxes, a raccoon and a mouse all stopped by.  Fantastic.

It's not been a good week around here as far as poultry go.  We lost another hen as well, one of the feral ones.  She just flat out disappeared one day.  I was holding out hope that she was on a hidden nest somewhere but as the snow has melted it's uncovered a big explosion of feathers not 15 feet from our back door.  I think she was killed by a hawk which is a bit shocking as she was large and fast.  We've never had this happen before and it's a shame.

In addition to dead chickens, we have crows eating eggs and rooster Nigel appears to have a respiratory infection.  It's kind of a disaster out there.

Let's move in the house.  This week I turned a big pile of apples into applesauce and made more egg noodles.  Also this really easy Jamie Oliver Roast Tikka Chicken from his 5 Ingredients book.  We don't own the book yet, but might have to spring for it soon.

This is the second time we've had this dish and it's delicious.  The chicken is rubbed with the tikki paste and roasted on top of the cauliflower and potatoes.  So easy.

We went to the library a couple of times and did a lot of little craft projects.  My sister brought her kids over this weekend to visit and we took all of the littles to the Children's Museum in Erie.  It was so much fun and so relaxing.  Everything is set up for tons of playing and learning and best of all, I didn't have to clean up a thing.  I think we're going to be getting a family pass.

Good thing we brought a dry change of clothes.

I had intended on getting out my grow lights and setting up my seed area in the basement this week but it just did not happen.  Our last frost date is still 12 weeks away but I've had good luck in the past putting things in about a month earlier than that.  It would be nice to start some cold weather crops this week under the lights and then tomatoes maybe towards the end of the month.  The first fresh vegetables are going to taste so wonderful.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Hitchcock Monday, sort of.

It was a gentle day around here. The little man and I drove to the lake to see if the ducks were migrating in. We didn't see any ducks but there were thousands of gulls. There are about 10 total in this photo so you'll have to take my word for it, between the noise and the sheer volume of them it was actually disturbing.  We left before this could happen but I guess if I could look like Tippi Hedren circa 1963 it might have been worth it.  Before she got pecked by the seagull and things went to hell. 

Look what else we saw today!  It was beautiful.

We took long walks, saw three deer and some turkey vultures.

This month's selection for our book club finally came in the mail, so time to start reading.  It's Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  I didn't realize when we chose it that I was already familiar with the story - it was made into the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film also called Rebecca.  PLUS, I just learned that Daphne du Maurier also wrote what was turned into The Birds.  How funny is that?  It's a Hitchcock day. 

Bee did her part to contribute to the household.  She brought home a mouse yesterday, dropped it on the doormat and ate part of it.  Today she brought another one home and just stared pointedly.

Thanks Bee. It's good to be loved.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

What entitlement looks like

This is what happens every day here from about 1 p.m. to 5:00.

Some day I will tell the story of how we found Bee out in a swamp and brought her home when she was small enough to fit in my hand.  She assumes she owns the place, never mind that she smells vaguely like skunk again. 

Elyse looks pensive  It's the lingering sadness of being a shelter cat.

Don't mind me, ladies.  I'll find somewhere else to nap.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What's been going on this last week, a lot.

Wow. There have been so many times this past week where I think "I want to remember (whatever)" but don't come here to write it down so it gets forgotten.  Lucky there are pictures.

First, the weather.  Wow, we went straight into Spring here this week.  It's been absolutely amazing. Probably the 50's every day; flowers are coming up and crocus are blooming in the front yard.  Rhubarb is growing along with the garlic planted last fall.

Crocus in the front yard.

The first warm day we found honey bees gathering some kind of nutrition from the pan of chicken scratch.

 We have been making the most of being outside.  Long walks, digging in the dirt and lots of playing.

Tiny shell fossils found while playing with the gravel in the driveway.

I bought a set of melamine dishes and mixing bowls.  These have been absolutely perfect for us.  The little man is now setting the table for meals with no help from me at all which pretty much justified the purchase right there.  

We've also been spending just about every day using the mixing bowl set to make something or another.  

Mostly we've been making banana bread which involves measuring, transferring, stirring and mashing.  Plus our new skill, cracking eggs.  We've made our regular daily bread and I've made another batch of egg noodles while he was napping.

What's new in the poultry world... Some things got done this week. The hennies had been going over the 5 ft. fence so they all got their wing feathers trimmed. I fixed a hole in the fence.  One of the Cornish roosters took a swing at me.

This guy.  So long buddy. I don't tolerate that kind of thing here at all.  He got butchered the next day at which point I realized that being pregnant, I just don't have the stomach for it.  Not the killing part but the cleaning.  So I put an ad on Craigslist that night for the two remaining extra roosters running around the yard:  "Free Delicious Roosters" I wrote, "come and get them".  Within 12 hours I had 2 families contact me.  "You know it's an animal rights group setting you up for a sting operation, right?" said my husband.  But no, when I met them in the TSC parking lot it was a young couple with a shiny new car ( probably didn't smell like "new car"after the drive home) and a tiny pet carrier who said that they had chickens and the kids thought it "would be cool to have roosters."  Great, whatever, have at 'em. A win for everyone.

The geese are laying regularly and wanting to nest.  They've contributed about a dozen huge eggs to the kitchen at this point, all being turned into egg noodles.  I've decided to stop gathering their eggs and the duck eggs, and just see what happens.  Just because *I* don't want to raise any birds this year doesn't mean they can't, right?  Isn't that like a loophole? The hope is that a big pile of eggs in a nest will make the birds think of brooding. One of the ducks has nested before so I have high hopes for her.  The geese, well, we'll see.

Speaking of geese, well, it's spring.  I've read that owning geese is like owning a hive of bees and I can see that point.  Sweet, worth their weight in gold but something that needs to be treated with respect.  I don't take crap with roosters but am more lenient with waterfowl especially in the spring.  The gander tried to kill Nigel this week, leading me to section off half of the poultry run with a short 2.5 foot high fence.  

Nigel.  My sweet, clueless pet rooster.

Aside from trying to kill Nigel he has also been taking a swing at me on a daily basis.  The problem is that one of the lady geese occasionally will go over the fence to hang out with the chickens and then I need to put her back at the end of the day.  So I'm herding the lady goose and waving my arms and the whole process just sent him into orbit.  Most male waterfowl are bluffers in my experience.  Not this guy.  He holds a grudge.  Much to my horror, he can also use his fat floppy feet to climb up and over that fence when "offended".  The first time he climbed over the fence with his huge wingspan stretched I had a slow-motion "oh holy shit I'm gonna die" moment.  Then he ran up and grabbed onto my jacket and started shaking it.  The thing is, it's kind of like dogs.  You have to be the leader out there without question.  Several lift-and-tosses with my boot only slowed him down and eventually I ended up pinning him to the ground and laying on top of him until he calmed down.  Visibly pregnant I'm doing this.  What the hell the neighbors think, I don't know.  So he's going to be a good protective dad that's the bright side.  And I've read and hope this behavior will wear off after breeding season.

Back when we were buddies before all hell broke loose.

The garden: I've bought a few packets of seeds and a little goji berry bush that will hopefully be planted tomorrow.  All of the strawberries seem to have made it through the winter along with the herbs.  Yay!

It's a good thing to be taking a season off.  Things will grown and harvested but nothing above and beyond,  I'm going to use this time to really re-think some of my long-term goals for the property and change some things here.  Reflection has already pointed out that some of the things I'm doing really could be done better and some things don't need done at all.  There are thoughts of some new and exciting things too.  I hope to hash that all out here over the next several months and start working towards those goals.     

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A baby on the way

I've alluded to big changes on the way in a couple of my posts and it's time to come clean and quit dancing around the subject.  We're having another baby!  I'm actually pretty far long by this point and we're going to have another boy this summer.  Wow... two little boys.  I will be outnumbered. My personal contingency plan is to move into the camper.

Things are going to have to change a bit around here.  The garden will be smaller and more manageable. Nothing is getting expanded or added to this year.

I find myself re-reading Erica's wonderful post at NW Edible Life  and being torn between "can you please just agree to slow down for goodness sake" and "your grandmother helped run a farm with 7 small children, quit being a baby." Probably slowing down will win out since my biggest dream right now is just napping. Also, my grandpa built my grandma a fenced "baby pen" out in the yard to contain the little ones and I don't have one of those.  Nowadays someone would probably call child services about that anyway.

Well, there you have it. Growing another little one.  Not a bad way to spend the spring.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Home made egg noodles - goose and duck

What a fun project.  My father surprised me with a really fantastic gift for Christmas; the pasta attachment set for the Kitchen Aid mixer.  I love making pasta by hand but to be honest, mine always has the texture of, um, leather.  The pasta never gets rolled as thinly as it should.  I've longed for one of these sets for quite awhile but they're alarmingly out of my budget (especially when you can but noodles for 99 cents a box for goodness sake).  So I was thrilled to get this.  Now that the geese and ducks are laying, I can finally use it.  Goose and duck eggs have a much higher fat content than chicken eggs and that's a good things, right?  Plus waiting for them just made it seem more special.  Look at the color from those yolks! 

Cutting the spaghetti.

First, I should start at the beginning because there are some things to remember for next time.  The roller set came with a recipe that called for 7/8 a cup of egg.  Who the hell thought of that number?  So I guessed.  

One goose egg plus one duck egg looked about right.

You're "supposed to" use 00 flour for pasta making.  I think because it has a lower gluten content?  Well, we live in the middle of nowhere and I wasn't going to order it on-line.  Does anyone order food from Amazon?  It's irrational but the idea of doing so creeps me out a bit.  King Arthur would have to do.  It was a splurge considering our flour usually comes from Aldi's.  I sifted it before measuring.

The dough this made was so, so dry I didn't think there was anyway in creation that it was going to be edible.  But I let it rest and then sent it through the rollers.

Yep, those are cloth diapers.  Never used.  You're welcome, all who dine at my house.  The cloths were floured and the pasta sheets were floured as they were stacked.  I think there were 8 total.

Note to self: go ahead and cut these sheets into the *size you want your finished noodle to be*.  Duh.  When the spaghetti was being cut I found myself trying to wrap the loooooong, tiny noodles around my arm as they came out of the machine.


I dusted them with flour several times while they dried and fluffed the little nests.  Besides what you see here there were quite a few noodles on the floor.  I think the recipe stated that it made 1 1/2 lbs.  The ones that we didn't use that night are stored in the refrigerator.

I took them over to my dad's and made a simple shrimp pasta for dinner.  The noodles cooked in about 3 or 4 minutes.  Everyone loved them, they had the best chewy texture and made the store-bought seem plastic-y and rubbery in comparison.

It's fun to mess around with home made pasta but it can take a long time when you're making it by hand (all afternoon for me).  I think this cut it down to about 45 minutes from cracking the eggs to clean-up.  This gift was really a game-changer for our household.  Like baking your own bread, fresh noodles are really a step up (nutrition and flavor-wise) for the family table.  

I'm not going to be making noodles daily but I can see it being done once a week. This seems like a tremendously handy way to "put up" eggs when we have a glut of them as well.  The ducks lay an egg every single day in season and the geese each lay an egg every other day so they add up quickly.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Planting potatoes

It's about 50 degrees so we grabbed our shovels and planted potatoes today. This little bucket had been sitting in the basement and all of the potatoes had sprouted.  Besides the redskins on top all of the potatoes were really tiny. They include some Yukon Golds and a bunch of fingerlings. We planted a patch to the left of the garlic and another one to the right of the parsley. 

To heck with proper spacing, planting depth, blah blah. We just dug holes, chucked them in and stomped the wet dirt back in place. This kid is long overdue for a pair of proper muck boots.

The potatoes may rot before spring or they may grow. Either way, they weren't going to last in the house and we had a great, muddy time of it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

So much to talk about

So much to talk about but not a lot to say lately.  It's funny that the most important things aren't the ones I'm racing here to share.
 Let's start with the easy stuff. The geese have started to lay eggs this week along with one of the ducks. 

Today's haul: 2 goose eggs, a duck egg and 4 chicken eggs.  The quail haven't started to lay, probably because they know I'm planning to locally barter some of their fertile eggs for Welsh Harlequin eggs.

The geese are mostly "Who cares?" when I gather these.  Goose eggs are huge.  My father gifted me an amazing pasta attachment set for my Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas and I'm thinking that the goose eggs are going to be made into noodles.  Possibly a couple of salt cured egg yolks which I didn't even know was a thing but apparently is popular in Spain.  The yolks are preserved to the texture of hard cheese and then grated over dishes like pastas and salads.

It's been really mild this week. We've been outside a lot.  My little man has had "egg gathering" added to his chore list.  He's thrilled.  Bee is always with us, following us around like a dog when we're outside.  He's been sleeping through the night for the first time lately and last night I think I figured out why - Bee is sleeping in bed with him.  I remember our cats used to share my bed with me when I was little and how soothing it was to wake up to soft purring.  It's something that can still put me right to sleep in the middle of the night. 

He's also been asking, on a daily basis to go to "Track Track's house!" Which I quickly figured out means he's demanding to be taken to Tractor Supply.  The big box farm store.  Be still my heart.  

What else.... I sewed this pillowcase for his toddler bed this week.  It took about 20 minutes.  There's also a really simple strip quilt being worked on with construction equipment and tractors.  I hope to finish it this week.

Cooking.  When I have birds butchered I do freeze a couple whole but part most of them up. The wings all get saved in a big bag.  These were excellent; the wings coated in flour, garlic salt and paprika for the baking and brushed with two different sauces.  Hot (half siracha, half honey, pat of butter) and garlic parmesan (grated garlic and butter, sprinkled with shredded cheese). The wings were cooked in the oven while I made the sauces and the whole things finished under the broiler.

Well, that's it for now.  Time to get back to life.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Goose on a nest!

So the other day when I wrote that Spring was happening inside the house - it's been happening outside too.  It doesn't seem particularly lady-like to announce that "the geese have been gettin' it on" but there you have it.

 Yesterday I went out to feed and water everyone as usual.  My appearance in the yard always causes certain birds (ducks, geese) to work themselves into an embarrassingly loud honking, quacking frenzy.  But yesterday the geese seemed slightly quieter than usual.... like a noise level 7 as opposed to the usual 9.  I looked at the pen from across the yard and only saw two geese.  Huh, that's odd, I thought.  But occasionally a goose will walk up the ramp to the chicken house, somehow stuff their fatty-pants butt through the tiny door and get stuck.  Must be it, I thought.

Well, no.  This is what I found:

A goose on a nest.  A! GOOSE! ON! A! NEST! I have been waiting for this moment since the New Year.

Here she is, all snuggled up inside the crap-tastic goose shelter.  

Wow, it has been a banner week around here.  Besides some exciting personal news going on, my dishwasher got fixed and now this.  I really can't ask for anything else for awhile.  

I didn't see any egg under her but was afraid that if I poked around under her too much she'd try to kill me.  I've gotten enough bruises from broody chickens and ducks that it didn't seem particularly smart to stick my hand under a huge goose.  She was moving something around underneath her and it seemed promising.  

Later in the day she was off the nest and getting a drink so I rushed outside.  A quick poke around confirmed that she hadn't actually laid an egg.  What she was sitting on so diligently and fussing with was... wait for it... a heel of bread. *smacks forehead with palm of hand*  I had thrown a heel of home baked bread to the birds the day before and this is what she was trying to mother.

Shortly thereafter the chickens flattened the nest and ate the bread.  But at least she's practicing and in that there is hope.