Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Fell into the Bantam bin at TSC...

My husband will tell you I've been pretty obsessed with bantam chickens for the last couple of months.  Bedtime reading is more often than not a poultry catalog, which must be super sexy to some people but not in our house.  In spite of my pledge to take a season off.... well.... it's Chick Days right now at Tractor Supply Company.  Bantams are actually miniature chickens, the pair we currently have are full grown and the size of grapefruit.  Cute as buttons, the size of walnuts when chicks, they come in all different wonderful & amazing feather patterns that standard chickens don't. To beat it all they only cost $1.99.  

$1.99 regular price.  When I rolled in they were on sale buy one get one free.  There are policies at feed stores pertaining to the minimum amount of chicks you can purchase but in my opinion there also should be a waiting period for people like me.  As in "Hey, crazy pregnant chicken lady: pick out your chicks and then go have lunch while we do a quick background check/call your husband.  Cool your heels a bit."

But they don't do a background check so here we are on the ride home.  The one box is stuffed full of peeps.  The other?  Continue reading.

I bought 10 total.  They are sold "straight run" (unsexed) so probably half will end up being roosters.  Thought it would be cute to stuff them all into a pie plate for a picture but they weren't having it.  Here are the varieties that came home with me:

Teacup saucer for scale.  These are Silver and Golden Seabrights. Bought 2 of each. When they get older they look like this:

Thanks for the picture Wikipedia. This is a Silver.  The Golden have orange where you see white here.

I bought 5 of these.  Hoping, hoping, hoping that they are Millie Fleur chickens.  Which look like this:

Those are real chickens, folks.  I've seen them at the fair and they are stunning.  If they ARE Millie Fluers, they're getting separated off into a little breeding group and we'll raise chicks from these.

This little guy on the right, I have no idea what it is and bought it for the fun of finding out.  Some kind of Game Bantam maybe?

But, hey, wait - what was in the other box?

A pair of Khaki Cambell ducklings.  I don't know what to say here except they were also on sale two for $5.00.  Ducklings are so horribly messy to raise, not to mention high strung, and I would not have considered these in a million years if we weren't getting baby goslings in the mail next week.  Remember how the hatchery sent me the wrong geese?  The replacements are due to arrive next week and the ducks will bunk with them.  It also occurred to me that the since we're only getting 2 replacement geese they might do better with buddies... so... anyway.... yeah.  I'm hoping they're both drakes and will rise to glory in Duck Bigarade.  My husband hasn't noticed these yet and I'm operating on a "don't ask don't tell" policy just to see how long it takes as an amusement to myself.  He does love Duck Bigarade.  So far they've been in the basement unnoticed for two days.

So, that's it for the fun news.  Spring has sprung here in one of the best ways.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

Anyone remember summer?

It's been pretty nice outside the last couple of days, warm and sunny enough to be outside.  Summer still seems a world away but we're slowly getting there.  Remember when there was this much color in the world?

I can't believe my garden looked like this.  It's a mud pit right now. God, what we take for granted.

Fresh tomatoes! Remember what those taste like?

The praying mantis must have had a good summer.  There are egg cases all over our property.

Hey, fatties.  Look how happy they are in the orchard.


Dang, look how happy I was in the orchard.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Toddlers in the kitchen

We've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen this last week.  A lot of time.  The little man's favorite activity is to "stir it up!" as he calls it.  Usually this is announced as he's pushing a chair across the kitchen floor towards the mixer, leaving me to think fast about what we can make.  Who could refuse?    

This week alone we've made brownies (twice) and homemade bread 3 or 4 times.  Looking back at this post on how we make bread I cannot believe how fast the time has gone.  He and I have been baking this bread together for over a year.  Wow. 

We made an applesauce cake.  I think it was this recipe here but as we were adding things into the mixing bowl I realized we didn't have enough applesauce so we threw in a jelly jar of home canned apples and also someone's half eaten banana.  Plus extra eggs.  Everything is getting extra eggs even things that don't call for an egg.  It turned out ok.  The cake had a great flavor but the recipe called for raisins which just seemed out of place and odd when you bit into one.  Or, as someone else put it: "yeeeeYUCK!"  The chickens got most of it.  We might try it again, minus the raisins. 

Want to play with play dough?  Sure. Grab your chair and we'll stir up a batch of that too.

Cleaning up.  It's always a wonderful mess.

When I moved into my first place during college I didn't know how to cook anything at all.  Heating up something from a can, browning ground beef and using a microwave were the total extent of my skills.  It took a very long time before I got over being intimidated by the kitchen, worried I'd screw something up and ruin it.  Now I realize that unless you burn it, food + food will almost always equal  something edible.  Even baking (which can have a reputation for being fiddly) most always works out even when we make up half the ingredients and don't follow directions.  That's a really freeing realization.

It's been a fun journey and there are few things I'd rather do now then be in the kitchen. Creating is such a rewarding process and it's something I love sharing.

Mostly were are baking from scratch because there are more steps to enjoy but the boxed mixes (like brownies) are nice because we look at the pictures of the necessary additions (ex: 3 eggs) and can count them and match them to what's on the counter.

  The little man is at a point now where he loves being in the kitchen too and is getting pretty proficient at the skills we've been working on.  We have been adding new jobs as he's ready (like cracking eggs into a bowl neatly).  I feel really blessed that we get to share this time together.

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.