Sunday, October 30, 2016

Weekend in review - yard work & a Happy Halloween

It was absolutely beautiful here yesterday; 70 degrees out and sunny.  I took advantage and used a couple of hours to get work done outside.  A week's worth of rain + ducks = a poultry yard that was an absolute mud pit.  Not the whole thing; just the part where the coops open into and the feeders and waters sit.  Unfortunately it's also the area where I do the most walking and no one wanted to hear the swearing that was going to happen if I fell in it.  So I ended up spreading down an entire bale of straw which made the chickens happy but not the ducks as they much prefer messing about in puddles.

I also dug up all of the cannas and about 1/4 of the dahlias and am getting ready to store the tubers in sawdust for next year.

Herbs are in the dehydrator today; rosemary, sage, thyme and a little parsley.

Trick or Treat was yesterday in our town.  The neighbors across the street had a party again with a lot of children.  It looked and sounded like everyone had a good time.  They really get into Halloween - as in there are two actual caskets out in the yard all month.  Caskets, ok.  Just not sure the childrens' party required an air horn.

But anyway.

The little man went trick or treating with his cousins yesterday.  He did a great job walking and carrying his little pumpkin bucket.  He was a bit confused about the whole thing at first but by the second house had it down and would toddle up to the offered bowl, select a treat and place it in his bucket.  He was thrilled with the evening and after it was over we had to do several laps around the parking lot to convince him to get in the car.  He rummaged around in his bucket on the drive back and managed to get a Twix bar open and take some bites.  It occurred to me that at year and a half old he'd never had a candy bar before.

Bee and the world's cutest little owl.

Here's the back view.  All of the pieces attached with velcro so when I got him out of the car seat we could just stick them on.  It worked really well.  

Happy Halloween.  It's time to start November.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Collecting vintage lead Britains - my cows & milkmaid

Not much to report today so here are some more Britains pictures.  I've had the cows for awhile but just splurged on my little milkmaid last week.  Splurged as in "$7 including shipping".  How could I pass that up? She's unmarked so I'm not sure of the maker.

Moving about the tablecloth field.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

1974 Metzendorf Camper - more pictures

I took some more pictures of the Metzendorf the other day.  You can see the first post here.

To the right of the exterior door.  I'll eventually re-paint this.

Here's the total interior.  This is to the right of the entrance.  The star burst table folds down and both benches slide out to make a bed.  There is storage under the bench seats.  These curtains are going good-bye *shudder*.  I would like to add a tiny shelf for my collection of field guides somewhere handy to the dinette. 

In front of you is the kitchenette with a 3 burner range, a refrigerator and sink.  No interest in cooking inside the camper so I've been looking for a vintage Coleman propane stove. They're not expensive new either, like $40.


To the back of the camper is the bench seat/pull out bed.  There is storage under the bench and you can access it from the outside of the camper - it's intended to store things like the camping jacks and extension cords.  To either side of the small window you can see the brackets where a hammock can be hung for additional sleeping space.  We have the origional hammock.

To the left of the door is the propane heater and closet.  It really needs some shelves in it to be functional for us.  This is where I'll store towels, toiletries, linens, etc.  Also a mirror because yes, I'm camping but I'm still a woman.

Here's one of the light fixtures.  They work. Yes, they do!

And the flooring.

I am so excited to take it out.  This is such a great find and the perfect size for our family.  It's so small and lightweight you can can actually pick up the camper by the tongue and move it around by hand.  Which means I don't need to be too accurate backing it up. (laughs).  I've never backed up a camper before but there's a first time for everything.

I've been collecting vintage camping stuff for a couple of years at yard sales and auctions.  Enamelware pots & pans, Hudson Bay wool point blankets and Coleman coolers.  A beaver pelt bought for $1 at a church basement sale.  Things that are perfectly functional and beautiful.  Things in the style of this Pinterest photo.

I'll post pictures when it's on the road and all decked out.  Hurry up, spring!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What a dreary day. Let's make roasted squash soup.

What a dreary day yesterday.  It was cold, wet and overcast. A good many of the leaves have fallen off of the trees and are covering the yard, soaked with previous night's rains.  I thought it would be a good day to make soup. While the little guy was watching Sesame Street I grabbed a couple of winter squash off of the porch and rummaged in the refrigerator.  The squash, a parsnip, some carrots and a couple of potatoes all went in a cast iron skillet covered in olive oil, sage, thyme and cracked pepper.

They roasted at 400 while I made bread dough and we had breakfast.  I added some minced garlic and a shallot to the pan for the last bit of roasting. Everything got piled onto a plate to cool.  Around this time, my little man toddled in, took my oven mitt, stuck it on his hand and ran off with it. 

 I pureed all the vegetables in the Nutribullet along with homemade chicken stock and it simmered in the crock pot while the bread baked. Dinner. Done.  It was really, really good.

It was a really yucky day here and I miss summer already. Let's have another flower picture before it's too late.  This was our last clean tablecloth yesterday and I was really happy for the spring colors.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Our 1974 Metzendorf camper

Wait, don't we already have a camper?

Um.... yeah... well...

My dad and the little man and I were driving around last week checking out some second hand shops and decided to stop at an antique store that we hadn't been to in about 10 years.  We got to talking with the owner's husband and one thing led to another... and he showed us this beauty out in the barn.  They had bought it off of the origional owners and it had been kept under cover its whole life.

Ready to go home.

Here's the other side.  We've hooked up the electric in the photo.

It's beautiful.  It's perfect.  It's a Metzendorf camper, built in West Farma Ohio.  This maker was one I had never heard of in all of my time looking for a camper.  From what I've read Metzendorf was a small mom & pop operation and Amish workers and high school students were hired to help with the building.  The title says it's a 1974.... which was suprising based on the design and the years I've read that the buisness was open... but it has a title.  

Metzendorf designed these to be able to be stored under cover easily.  It's only 7 1/2 feet high.  When you step into the camper there is an entryway of sorts and then you actually step down.  Kinda like a sunken room.. This should be a lot of fun after a couple of beers around the campfire.

Since there's so little information on these out there I want to share what I can for anyone who might be looking.  According to the title it was made in 1974, the dry weight is listed as 1,000 lbs and the body of the camper is 12 feet (it's 15 feet total).  The VIN is a 4-digit number that doesn't seem to relate to the year or length.  It has 15 inch tires.

I took these with my cell phone, so I'll try to get better pictures.  I think the "M" is really clever - a nod to Shasta's scrollwork "S" maybe?  You can see the sunken floor here.  Guessing this was a less expensive model because only the cabinet fronts are birch - again, I've seen other examples of this on-line.

Dinette to the right. Table folds down and benches slide out for another bed.

Close-up of the starburst formica.

No pictures yet, but when you turn to the left there is a small closet and a bench that folds down into a bed.  There's also a hammock that can be installed over the folded out bed for additional sleeping although it looks really uncomfortable.

All of the appliances are intact and lighting is origional.  I thought that the speckled paint inside was a re-paint but I've read that some of the Metzendorfs came with this.  I'm not a huge fan.  The people selling it just had all of the cushions upholstered and curtains made.

It tows like a dream and is ready to camp in today.  Let me say it again, this baby is ready to go camping.  The Shasta 1400 was going to be a huge project.  I still love that's it's larger and is so bright and airy but there's no way I have the time to put into a project like this at this point in my life.  So, I'm going to sell it.  Hopefully, someone will want it for a hunting camp or a renovation project of their own.  It is a sweet little camper with a lot of potential.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My night with David Sedaris

Oh.. how I love David Sedaris.  He's known for his short stories, his humor and his way of telling a story that is at once both funny and thought-provoking.  He is kind and the humor is witty and clean.  He is an author that is more likely to come to you gently; through a friend or an NPR segment as opposed to the shelves of your local big-box store.

I remember very clearly the day I was introduced to him.  It was winter.  I was riding into New York City with my husband, friend and her brother.  I had had a couple of drinks.  My friend's brother was driving and he held up the audio recording of David's collection of Christmas Stories Holidays on Ice  "Have you heard of David Sedaris?"  I had not. There was a story of working as a Macy's elf and another about a prostitute that comes to his family's house for the holiday.  Minutes into listening to the first story I was in tears of laughter. This has never changed for me.

I've read all of his books and have always wanted to see him on stage but it's never worked out.  Then my husband texted me one day last week - did I want two tickets to see David Sedaris?  A colleague of his had a pair and couldn't go for whatever reason. Heck yes I did.

My sister and I went and it was amazing.  It was held an in old ornate theatre built in the 1920's.  The event was presented by the local NPR station, one I had been a supporter of in the past.  Wow - can NPR throw a party! Our tickets included a buffet, an open bar and an early book signing.  My sister and I were probably 4th and 5th in line for the signing.  I bought two copies of Holidays on Ice; one for the couple that gave us the tickets and the second one to be signed for my son. I also brought my absolute favorite book When You Are Engulfed in Flames.  When it was my turn to meet Mr. Sedaris I told him the truth:  "I've been trying to think of something witty to say to you all week and I haven't come up with anything".  "That's OK"  he said, "I'll walk you through it."

He doodled in my books.  I cropped out the names of the people this was inscribed to for the photo but the picture  has a story to go with it, promise. 

His performance was fantastic. We had third row seats.  THIRD ROW.  The first story he told, "Death Knows No Season" had me in tears almost immediately.  Tears of laughter.  He talked about his pet fox, his family and yes the upcoming election.  The two hours flew by without anyone noticing.  He was funny, gracious and a joy to spend the evening with.  I would do it again, immediately, in a heartbeat.

Thank you Mr. Sedaris, thank you to our local NPR station and a special thank you to the couple that provided the tickets to us.  It was such a good night and one I'll remember for a long, long time.

Hey are those Affiliate links?

Yep. I love David Sedaris and want to share his books with everyone I can.  Buy them from Amazon, from your local bookstore, check them out from the library, whatever.  Just read them.

As far as Amazon, if you purchase anything after clicking on my link they send me a tiny percentage and it doesn't cost you anything.  I guess it's their way of thanking me if you're the one person on the planet who hasn't heard of Amazon yet.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Last mushroom havest & a chipmunk harvest

It really rained the other night and it caused my shiitake logs to sprout mushrooms.  I'm sure this will be the last flush of the year.  My mom's cousin tends about a hundred or so of these logs every year and he helped me get started way back when.... I think these logs are about 7 or 8 years old and still fruiting, but less every season.  I'll have to start some new ones soon I guess.  The logs are sugar maple, cut in the spring and inoculated with mushroom spawn.  That's it - you're done.  it's like planting a perennial.  We get a big flush of mushrooms in the spring and I dry most of them.

Now for another kind of harvest... Bee has turned into a skilled killer since we've let her come and go outside.  We came home last night to chipmunk number 5 waiting on the front doormat.  I didn't even know we had chipmunks on the property.  I was told to do something with it before company came over so I set it out on this stump.  I don't know why, it seemed like if I were a chipmunk, that would be a good place for a final rest.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My little man in the garden

I never finished cleaning up the garden like I talked about here and it turned out to be a good thing.  I thought I'd share some pictures of what's going on in the garden in mid-October.  Mostly my little man getting into stuff.  He's learning to walk and the garden is a good place to fall down in, poke at things and learn a lot.  I am very laid back about "germs" and "dirt" probably to a fault in this case.  As in, I don't even think about it.  Oh well, lots of farmers had lots of children grow up just fine. Besides, he hasn't eaten that much dirt.....

In the nasturtiums.   A dear friend gave me a ton of seed and they've done really well. Also, these smell lovely when you walk past them?  I've planted nasturtiums for years and never noticed them having a sweet smell before but these do.



My favorites dahlias, truly.

This seed tray has been sitting out there all season long.  We spent a good 10 minutes sticking straw into the plant cells.

I should probably harvest that parsley.

No one is happier than a little boy sat down in a potato patch with a stick and told to "go to town". 

We brought a big armload of flowers with us when we came inside. I am really, really going to miss all this when we're snowed in come December. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cooking duck with Hank Shaw

Oh, Hank Shaw... my secret Internet crush. I own two of his cookbooks and am a frequent visitor to his gorgeous website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. This man cooks wild foods in a way that elevates hunted and foraged edibles into gourmet meals. The dishes he makes are inventive and beautiful.  And the best part is that he breaks it down in a way that makes it totally accessible.

I want to talk about his book Duck, Duck, Goose.  Why? Because those two drakes killed this week needed eating.  It seems like a lot of people are afraid of duck and have read or been told by someone that it's going to be a greasy mess. Not true.  Promise.  Cooked properly and done up medium-rare duck is absolutely fantastic.

If you hunt or raise waterfowl or just love to cook this book is a must-own.  Hank gives you all the information you could ever want here and it's beautifully photographed.  He goes over basics like plucking, parting up your duck and dry aging it.  He talks giblets and fat.  He goes into the culinary differences between domesticated and wild ducks.  Then he takes that further by going into the culinary differences between different species of wild ducks and how diet and habitat affect flavor and treatment in the kitchen.

The recipes range from very basic to advanced and he even explains which species of duck works best for each recipe.  How great is that?

Everything in here looks delicious but I wanted to try Duck Bigarade. He's shared that recipe on the website and you can find it by clicking here.  I did notice that this is slightly different than the one published in the book but it looks like the result is the same.  What is the result?

This.  Damn delicious, that's what.

It was really good and really easy. This is what I started with - a mix between a runner duck hen and a mystery drake.

It wasn't a bad sized bird to end up with - I have no idea why they leave the neck on.

We also had homemade bread and Chardonnay.  Dinner was amazing.

An affilliate link? Sure.  I love when bloggers add affiliate links and wish more people would do them. I dislike shopping and get overwhelmed when there are too many choices to wade through.  If you love something, tell me about it and why!  Obviously If I'm reading your blog we share some common interests and I'd like to hear about it.   I think I initially heard about Hank's website from another blogger.

Friday, October 7, 2016

I finally get to yell "cockfight"!

It's never dull around here.

Now that it's fall I've been letting Mr. Rooster and his crew free-range in the evenings. We have 5 acres but they all like to hang out up by the house and the garden where the bantams live.  He and the bantam rooster have been aware of each other for months but have limited their posturing to crowing back and forth dramatically. I don't know what the deal was yesterday.  Mr. Rooster is in the middle of molting and has been in a bit of a bad mood.  He's never made a move towards me in all his years here but there have been some dirty looks and foot stomping lately.  The poor guy also looks like he's been run over by a lawnmower and half of his beautiful feathers are either missing or askew.  I can't imagine it feels good to say nothing of his pride.

The poultry came up to the garden. The crowing commenced.  Mr. Rooster has a deep, dignified crow.  The bantam is more like a high-pitched shrieking. Back and forth. Back and forth. Then suddenly the bantam was out of the garden.

I would like to pause here and remind everyone that Mr. Rooster is a full size Cochin and weighs about 10 lbs.  He's absolutely huge.  My Dutch bantam is the size of a grapefruit.  Acording to the interweb, he weights less than a pound and a half.


I heard the scuffle before I saw it.  "There's an actual cockfight happening in the yard! Cockfight!" Hackles were flared.  Faces were pecked. Spurs were raised as the roosters flew into the air and crashed into each other again and again.  The ducks, I am not exaggerating, came tearing across the yard as fast as they could and stopped about ten feet away to watch the battle.  You could practically hear them chanting "Fight! Fight!" as the roosters went at it.

They would do this for awhile and then break off, both pretending to be suddenly interested in pecking at grass.  Then one of them would remember that he had been slighted and the battle would be renewed.  The bantam was literally hanging off of Mr. Rooster's waddle at one point.  Then the tables turned and Mr. Rooster had the bantam pinned up against the garden fence.  This went on for about 20 minutes.  I feel the need to point out that no one was in real danger here and I was prepared to go out there and break it up by spraying them both with the hose if I had to.  Poultry live by a strict pecking order and these guy needed to figure out who was boss of the yard.

It was amazing to watch.  I have no idea who "won" and who "lost" or how their minds work. Eventually they both just got bored with it and wandered off to go back to whatever they were doing before they started.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

It was a perfect agricultural day

What a day.

When we decided that I would stay at home with our new baby we also made the choice to go down to one vehicle.  It's been no trouble at all to share a car with my husband.  When you think about it didn't most people live like that until recently?  It's fine, and if there's something the baby and I need to get done we just drop my husband off at work and pick him up later.  Yesterday the thing we needed to do was pick up the ducks we had dropped off at the processing place last night.

I wondered what to do with the rest of the day.  A car! A full tank of gas! We could go anywhere!  I decided to take us to a little re-sale place in the heart of an Amish community very close to us. It's the same community where I impulse-bought those chickens at the auction.

Last year I had bought a armload of vintage feed sacks there for a song and have been selling them on-line since then.  What the heck.  We drove out, they were closed for the day but we did see a sign "Barn Sale" hand lettered on a piece of cardboard. On a Wednesday? Sure, we'll take a look. It was an Amish family who had set up a little sale in their garage.  They had a lot of nice useful things we really didn't need, some bunnies for sale, squash and homemade donuts. I am going to stereotype here but the best doughnuts on this earth are made by the Amish.  They must actually fry them in lard is the only thing I can think of, but wow.  They are never a bad idea. We bought some Bavarian doughnuts and a beautiful box of winter squash.  Total = $5.25.   Sorry, about that.  $7.

Edit: This was the price breakdown:
Box of squash shown in car pic ( 2 delicata, 3 acorn type, 1 large red one) = $4
HUGE Pennsylvania crookneck Dutch squash = $1
Donughts x 2 = $2

Some new squashes on the porch.

We ran some other errands after that, including a trip to the feed mill for layer mash and cracked corn. 100 lbs. of feed total = $13.00.  While I was paying the Amish teenager running the cash box I glanced down and saw some advertising thermometers. I've actually been looking for a nice one for a really long time to put on the side of the chicken coop.  Ever since that winter we had when I was out there breaking ice in -15 degree cold I tend to wonder just how damn cold or hot it is outside.

"These are neat", I said. "How much are they?" "Oh, those? They're free.  You can have one." Really?  Thank you friend, it made my day.

We picked up the ducks. For $11 two ducks went from on the webbed foot to freezer-ready with no work on my part.  I am very lucky to have a place near me that will take care of the poultry for me.  Processing one or two here and there isn't a big deal but it's nice to hire the job out sometimes and they always do a really nice job.

Technically, I went out there with 4 ducks and came home today with 2.  The other 2? Yeah... my runner duck hens... well.. I really like my ducks. A lot.  I had made the decision to get them butchered because I like ducks for meat and they (adding to the gene pool) produce a very, very small duck.  Also we had enough duck eggs every day.  Like each duck lays every single day, all summer.  They're messy.  They're a pain and a lot of work.  Too many eggs, too many ducks.... so when I loaded up the extra drakes I took them along too. Sadly.  Then I got there and felt even worse... then I looked in the box where the daughter duck was trying to hide under the mama hen duck.  "goddamn it". I said out loud. "shit, ok, fine.  I'm sorry."  Now I was talking to myself in the parking lot.  I had to go in and explain that I was only dropping 2 off instead of 4 and why.  "Don't worry, you're not the first." The lady working there said.  So I was greeted with a bit of good-natured teasing when I came back.

The drakes?  No guilt over them.  Too many males is not a good equation for any kind of livestock.    I'm actually toying with the idea of smoking one of them, or maybe making sausage.

Look at the trunk of the car.  What a bounty.

We came home and immediately went out to the chicken yard where little man watched as I hung the thermometer.

I made mushroom risotto as a side with dinner tonight and I think little man and I are going to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow baked into one of those small yellow squashes.  Are they delicata?  They look like it and are very smooth and glossy.  I'll save the seeds and we'll see what grows next spring.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall is here. Pumpkins & buntings & ducks

No longer can I deny that it's officially fall.  The nights and mornings are downright cold and it's been overcast for about a week. The wool blanket is on the bed and the scarves have come out.

The porch got decorated this weekend.  Usually this is done totally from the garden, but not this year.  The orange carving pumpkins were grown here along with the patty pans but the rest were purchased from a farm up the road from us.  Winter squash is beautiful, versatile and my favorite vegetable to grow.  I think I planted 8 varieties this year but they were all scratched up and killed by the chickens and turkeys.  All except the carving pumpkins which we can't eat.  

So little man and I went to the farm.  It's a little family run operation up the road that has an honesty box for payment and little wagons for children.  The blue squash are great to eat but the rest not so much.  I would consider the gourds an unnecessary expenditure but I'll save the seeds and the chickens will eat them over the winter.  There was another family also buying one of these blue squash and when the ladies struck up a conversation, I mentioned that the squash they were buying makes an amazing pumpkin pie.  There was a long and slightly awkward pause.... "Does it make a blue pie?" The one finally asked. Um, no. Just a regular one.

Another bunting was made and hung.  These are so quick to sew up and so cheerful to look at.

And this lady is insisting on sitting on a single egg.

I'm making my last trip of the season to the local processing place tonight and these guys need to be there shortly. 

A story to end the day.  I'm sitting on the couch late last night trying to enjoy a moment of peace and a cup of hot tea when I hear the god-awful noise of a cat fight on the front porch.  A snarling and screaming and hissing worthy of a PBS documentary.  So I go outside in my nightgown to find Bee and the neighbor cat (who is elderly and has a lazy eye) fighting over a mouse carcass.  Neighbor cat runs off.  Bee is hell bent on coming inside with the dead mouse in her mouth. "No way" I inform her.  But she's blocking the door and I can't get inside and she's growing and pacing with this thing in her mouth so I have no choice but to stand there, in my nightgown and wait while she makes loud, wet crunching noises eating the dead mouse.   

Ugh. Happy fall everyone.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Collecting Britains - lead greyhounds

I love tiny little lead figurines.  I collect mostly farm animals, mostly Britians, but it really doesn't matter to me what the maker is.  They are played with and chipped and worn and perfect.  They usually come from Ebay, some of my sheep actually came from England, but I couldn't pass these little guys up at a second-hand shop this week - 50 cents each! They're a little over an inch high.

I'm going to share more of my collection over the next couple of months - there is so little information on-line about the animals that these companies made.