Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cats - what they do all day

In response to Ohio Farm Girl's post about her hardworking barn cats, I thought I'd share a couple pictures of what my two do all day.

They give dirty looks. Bee is saying "oh, hell, no."

They go hunting.  Elyse has been trying to catch that beta for 6 months now.  She actually did once, between her paw and the glass.  Then she panicked and fell over backwards. In all fairness, she once fell off of a pillow so this wasn't suprising. 

They take naps.  Because all of the above is very tiring and I didn't want to make that bed anyway.

It's a hard life.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Found her!

I was changing the little man's shirt after his nap and glanced out the window in time to see the banty hen in the garden.  She was ducking in and out of the cabbages in a weird way.  I paused.  It clicked. You have got to be kidding me, I thought.

I have been all over that garden looking for a nest.  The cabbages (literally right up against the coop) have been looking particularly bad as of late but I chalked it up to heat, no rain and being trod upon by the turkeys.

I went outside and walked over to the cabbages. Stared.  Nothing. Then I lifted up a leaf and there she was, on a nest.  She ran off of it and I saw probably a dozen eggs before I put the leaf quickly back. Yep, she's so small this entire thing is happening under a single cabbage leaf.

Mystery solved.

Friday, July 22, 2016

End of week update

This week really flew by.  It's been so very hot here this week - easily 90 degrees every day with very high humidity.  Nothing really to do but stay inside and try not to wilt.  The plan was to read a little.   I ordered the book The Price of Salt off of Ebay but it hasn't made it here yet.  I've wanted to read this book for awhile because the reviews make it sound haunting and beautiful. Hopefully it will be here soon.  What better way to wait out hot summer days than with a romance novel?

I did manage to get the garage primed this week and started to paint it. I can pretty much get about an hour's worth of work done before the heat gets to me and I head inside.  It looks great and I'll keep chipping away at it.

Two ducklings hatched out of the incubator in the basement, making my hatch rate a dismal 20%.  I set 10 eggs and when I candled after the first week, saw that 1 was cracked and two somehow had air cells in the middle ( not on either end but in the center of a side).  From there I pulled infertile eggs and went into lock down with 5 alive.  Only 2 hatched.  Possible parents: Hen (runner or pekin) & Drake (pekin or mallard) I'll have to get pictures.  They're yellow with black spots.  We went for a drive tonight and I saw that a neighbor has a "baby ducks for sale" sign by the road (what are the odds?) so I think I'll stop tomorrow. I was hoping to put more ducks in the freezer than this come fall.

What else... listed some more things on Ebay and worked on some craft projects.  Little man turns 1 year old next week (!). We've been working on saying "how old are you? ONE!" and having him do this:

It mostly does not work, but we're getting there.

This is going to be just a couple of people and a "balloons and cake with sprinkles" kind of affair.  I am making a bunting for the party.  It seems like a lot of people suggest that you sew two triangles right sides together, turn them right side out and press  to make each one.  I don't have that kind of time.  I made a paper template and pinned it to two layers, wrong sides together, and sewed around it.  Then I cut them out with pinking shears. The triangles aren't sewn in yet, just laid out to look at the colors.  Notice Bee's tiny paw.

Also worked on little man's quilt. I've done two of each of these colors for a total of 8 blocks. Need to buy two more shades of blue to finish with a total of 12 blocks.  They'll be set 3x4. So happy with how this is turning out. 

Let's end the weeks with some poultry pictures.  Mr. Rooster and the lone ranger.

More chickens.  Two of Mr. Rooster's daughters and his son.

Turkeys with little man's stroller for scale.  We were doing our evening rounds.  I think I have a tom and a hen?

The banty rooster.  

Still sleeps in the pine tree but has been doing it alone for about two weeks.  Where is the hen, you might ask?  Good question.  I see her come by in the early morning each day to eat and then she disappears again.  Three of our 5 acres are overgrown brush and bramble and she, being the size of an orange and brown colored besides, could be anywhere.  No clue.  For those of you that may be mentally working out this equation:

banty hen + sorta missing + comes home for quick bite and sip then disappears everyday = ?

I'm right there with you.  I fully expect to see a clutch of chicks in our yard any day. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kitten adoption

In case anyone actually reads this blog, I wanted to share that the kittens and mama cat all went to a very nice no-kill shelter today. We thought we had a family for Little Chubs yesterday but it fell through. We had been on the waiting list since we discovered the kittens and they finally had room for the family. I cried a litte dropping them off. In front of strangers.  But this is where we adopted Elyse from and they have a very good screening process so I know everyone will find a good home.

That's a lot of vinegar

I bottled our apple cider vinegar yesterday.  We make a ton of cider every fall and I let about a gallon and a half set out on the counter way too long... then longer... then, who cares because it was sitting there for months anyway and I stopped thinking "I need to do something about that" when I saw it.   Yesterday was the day. I ran some of my old "not canning" jars and lids through the dishwasher and got the bottles and a funnel out.

Isn't it pretty? This is about half of it.

I saved the "mother" in two of the jars so I can start another batch sometime.  I totally poked at it - it feels firm like a gummy candy. 

It tastes super good, not harsh at all, and has a lot of apple flavor.  I think one of the jugs that I left out was made from Golden Delicious apples but I'm not sure. I'll use it in things like potato salad and homemade dressings.  This was a very happy accident.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Feedsacks for sale! And some other stuff.

We really need to downsize some things.  For years I collected things that, while still lovely, I've just kind of grown away from.  So the house is full of things that are not quite loved as much as they should be.  It's time for them to move on.  I've made it my goal to list these things for sale each Tuesday and Thursday.  These are on Ebay currently:

Some vintage feedsacks.  I collected so many of these, and have already sold some off.  

This one is really fun

And this one was hand-hemmed into a tablecloth at some point. 

It pains me so badly to sell this victorian coverlet.  I found this at a thrift store and literally gasped when I saw it - probably late 1800's, handstitched, and mostly made of silk.  It was one of those thrifting finds you throw yourself at at then clutch to your chest the whole way to the checkout.  This is so, so badly damaged though.  The silks have just come apart because they are old and the old dyes & materials just don't last.  I can't bring myself to do anything with it so I'm passing it on.  I kinda wanna cry just looking at this picture. Really, though, it's so damaged it's totally un-usable. 

I'm also going to list these old architectural pillars on Craigslist.  The abandoned property we bought off of the County - these were in the building that we're having demolished.  They're awesome but they are also HEAVY. I really hope someone can use them - like in a garden somehow?

Little chubs for scale.  I think he may have a new family! 

Coming up this week: apple cider vinegar, free poultry treats and new ducklings.  Stay tuned...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday morning

Up early again this morning.  I snuck out of the house while the little guy was still sleeping in order to get some work done before it got hot outside.  My first objective was to check on the bees.  One hive doesn't look like it's changed at all since the swarm was installed in May.  There are literally four frames covered in bees.  That's nothing.  The second hive was bursting with bees, both boxes were full.  I called my dad to bring over a honey super, which I'll put on top of them tonight. I wonder if the small hive is just getting robbed out by the stronger one every day and can't get ahead? Or if something else is going on?

My second job was to clear out the part of the garden where the lettuce had been planted.  It bolted a couple of weeks ago and is too bitter to eat, so out it goes.  I filled the wheelbarrow and took it over to the chickens to scratch through.  I found some treasures in the row; three heads of lettuce that were tucked in the shade and still looked good to eat.  I dug out the volunteer potatoes that were in that row as well and had one with breakfast.

Who needs the grocery store?

The turkeys kept an eye on me the whole time.  They really are friendly and want to know what I'm up to when I'm out there.  They prefer foraging greens to bagged feed and their bug hunting abilities only seem limited by how high they can jump.  They're enjoying being alive and being turkeys.  The more I raise our own meat the angrier I get with industrial food production.  

Now that the row's clear I'm not sure what to do with it.  More beans, or maybe the peppers I bought last week and haven't planted yet. 

Here's a picture of mama cat and the kitten I've been calling "little chubs".  Since she's had the kittens, mama cat has killed 2 rabbits, 2 chipmunks, a cardinal and a mouse.  Good work, mama cat!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Daylily overload

Daylily season is upon us.  Our yard is full of daylilies.  Not the carefully bred and beautiful ones my mother loved and collected, but the wild orange "ditch" kind as they're known around here.  When we bought our place we had no idea that the previous owner loved them so much that he planted a huge strip of them, probably a 1/3 of an acre, between our house and the neighbor's.

So while I was berry picking Friday I gathered a bowl full.

How beautiful is this chair? Husband and I quit smoking when I got pregnant and now these chairs hardly ever get used. They were my smokin' chairs.

Anyway. It seems like the flowers should be good for something.  I know they are edible.  Most recipes call for treating them pretty much like you would a zucchini flower - as in frying them.  It's really hot outside, and we don't have air conditioning so that's out.  I adore hot and sour soup and from what I've read daylilies are a pretty important part of getting the flavor of the soup "correct". What the heck.

I didn't know if I should gather the flowers or the buds, so I picked both.

Because no one here wants hot soup in July, enter Uncle Norm's dehydrator.   It was once owned by my great uncle who was a really interesting and lovely man and I am happy to remember him when I use it.

It looks like tiny bananas.  The brown things are shiitake mushrooms I grew.

I put the trays in and ran it at 95 degrees until everything was dried. They'll be stored in the freezer just in case though. I am excited to try some different versions of hot and sour soup this fall. Lord knows finding chicken stock won't be a problem.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Creativity spillover - quilting

I think taking the time to write and use the creative part of my brain is starting to spill over into other areas.  I have had no urge to craft for a long, long time.  I think to anyone who knows me this is understandable considering everything my family went through with my mom's illness and passing.  Then I had a baby.  I probably can't blame it all on stress because my mom was kinda famous for getting craft projects 3/4 of the way done and then moving on to something else.  So it may just be something I inherited, like my freckles or hair color. LOL.  Anyway, I've been feeling the energy lately to tackle some things that have been gathering dust. 

First up, the little man's I spy quilt.  An I spy quilt is made of up novelty prints, and you use one of each object.  The quilt can then be used as a toy or learning tool, i.e. "how many birds do you see?" "let's find something purple"  "Where's the airplane?"  I'd been collecting I spy fabrics for about 8 years and wanted to make one for him.   But I couldn't decide on which fabrics to omit, and of course I kept seeing more prints I liked... SO eventually I just cut squares, sewed them together and ended up with this.

The idea was to add a solid border to calm it down.  But then I piled more fabrics into it and it turned into a hot mess.  A busy, hot mess.

I hated it.  It sat there for awhile, like months.  Then I came across this quilt in a Google search:

Well, that looked nice.  The borders really gave your eyes a place to rest in between the prints.  (BTW, I cannot find the website this picture was originally taken from.  Google says Pinterest but I can't find it on Pinterest to give the maker credit. I apologize for this.)

I have lots of blue fabrics, so I got out my seam ripper and took the top apart.  Then I got started again today while little man was napping.

That's much, much better and I think I can finish the quilt now.  

Camper update: none.  I haven't tried the soda thing yet because it's rained every day since I posted it so the camper is tarped.  To be continued.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Too early to be up

I've been up since 4 a.m. I don't know why I woke up, might have had something to do with a tow truck working up the road from us. I didn't see or hear any sirens though so if there was an accident at least no one was hurt.  When it was obvious I wasn't going to get back to sleep I waited until daybreak and went to let the poultry out.  The chickens were thrilled with last night's pizza crusts.  Mr. Rooster and the unnamed banty rooster have been crowing back and forth for an hour now, which I'm sure the neighbors appreciate.  They've gotten the whole hillside stirred up and two more roosters WAAAY down the road have joined in and one another street over.

Isn't he beautiful?  And sweet.  This guy has a job here until he dies of old age.

The garden also got some weeding done this morning.  Japanese beetles were picked off plants and fed to the chickens.  The pepper plants the deer ate the tops off of never quite recovered so I think I'll plant new ones if I can find any left for sale.  I did notice a store advertising $5 flats yesterday so we'll see what's left.  Otherwise I'll hit up the farmer's market.  It's nice to freeze a bunch for the winter and not pay $3 each come January.  

I was thinking more on the camper and what a mess the roof is what with the tar someone slapped all over it.  Here's an idea of what it looks like:

Yeah, that.  Does it get worse?

I've had a lot of practical advice on-line to just replace the roof.  Not happening. I don't have the money to do that and I have no interest in giving my husband a heart attack by declaring that I'm taking the roof off the camper.  I got out a putty knife the other day and started to scrape.

That's kinda looking better and didn't take much effort.  It's the kind of work that's meditative and you don't have to think about.  I read on a RV forum this morning that generic Cola and heat (like from a hair dryer) will take this stuff off?  I'm going to give it a shot.  It doesn't have to look beautiful, just keep the rain out.  It's going to be super hot today so I think I'll buy a bottle and pour it on and hope for the best.  I'll report back on how it goes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Shasta first look - interior

Here are some pictures of the interior of the Shasta.  I haven't done anything except throw out the trash and wash the curtains.

Kitchenette.  Hi water damage, nice to meet you. The more I look the more damage I see. :(
 One of the curtains is folded up on the counter along with a couple of cool pitchers I found while cleaning.  Yellow towel holder is hideous and be replaced with a chrome one I have.

 Original propane stove and light.  Oven looks like it's never been used.  These are coming out and I'm thinking of a hinged bench to store shoes by the door.  I don't want to cook inside. I do that everyday at home.

Hey, icebox, where did you go?  This whole cubby is so screwed up from water damage.  You can see there the thin base actually sunk into depression (literally and figuratively) because I left that tiny shop vac sitting on it overnight.  I have no idea what to do here. We don't need more storage, a new icebox is expensive and the ones I've seen are kinda ugly besides.  Maybe salvage one?  My father actually suggested I rig this up to hold a mini keg.  Ha. 

Moving on to the closet area.  Someone added an old car radio here (Ford), which I think is brilliant.  This heater is coming out.  I don't want to have to deal with propane and I have a small electric one from my old office we can use if we need heat. 

Inside the closet AKA our new bathroom.  I so did not want a bathroom but I think with a small child it's probably something I'll be glad for.  I think if the heater is removed, and the space where the icebox used to be is bumped back a couple of inches ( obviously I need to replace it anyway) that will give us a good space for a camping toilet and a couple of shelves here.  Right now it's where I stuck my work tools and cleaning supplies.

Table folds down and dinette benches slide out to make a bed.  The benches are either in really awesome shape or someone re-built them. I love the fabric and hope it washes up so I can re-use it.  Zippers need replaced.  Bunk is in the "up" position here.  There's water coming in the corner behind the far bench.

Bunk in the "down' position.  There's a random bunk bed ladder in our shed, so it might get painted up for this purpose. 

Vent?  What happened to you?

Let's end on a bright note.  No one was more amazed than I when I plugged the camper in and the original lights all worked.  Finally, something goes right!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Daily Rounds

A couple of times a day I load the little man into his stroller and we go do our rounds. Sometimes this happens:

 We rescue turkey poults who have gotten curious about what's on the other side of the fence.  

We stop to pick whatever's fresh for dinner.

We feed and water all the poultry and gather up the eggs.  Someone new has just started laying and I think it's the red ranger hen that I kept.  The ducks don't trust us and I don't blame them.

We check on the wild berries.  It looks like it's going to be a great year for berries and I'd like to make some jam.

We take a peek at the beehives.

And we come back inside to make dinner. This is what we had from the garden today, stir-fried.  Added scrambled eggs and hosin sauce and served the whole thing over rice.