Sunday, January 27, 2019

New coop, Saturday drama, great soup

What an odd title for a post.  Wow, that's horrible considering what an unusual weekend it's been.  
First off - I went to TSC to buy a chicken coop on Saturday.  I  have been looking at these coops for weeks and knew which one I wanted: the one on the right, which would look great next to the other coops.  I would like it for my little group of Easter Eggers (1 Rooster and 5 hens) to ensure some pure hatching eggs in the spring.  

I rolled in with my 10% off coupon and $15 back offer only to find this:

The Prairie Coop had been marked down again, to half the price of the green coop.  You can't tell by the photos but the square footage of the base is pretty close to the same.  Dang it anyway.

i still liked the green coop better.  But did I like it $150 better? No, I did not.  We have plenty of exterior paint in the basement and it will not take but an hour to paint it the same blue and cream colors as the other two coops.  And drill in some extra ventilation.  $150.  These are chickens, folks.  It doesn't need to be the Taj Mahal.

New chicken coop: original price $499.  Paid $135.  Can I get a hell yeah?

So excited was I by my savings that I went ahead and bought the spires and hooks to tap the two Maple trees in the front yard.  This week I will call around to get some nearly-free food grade bakery buckets and look in the local thrift store for a couple of big roasting pans to evaporate the sugar water over the fire.

So. Excited.

What else?  In other news we had quite the adventure yesterday.  We all piled in the car to go to my parent's house to let the dog out as my dad was away for the day.  When we got there I turned the car off in the driveway and threw the keys into the center console (It's a small town, who the hell doesn't do this?) I got out of the car the same time my husband did.  But, by the way of opening the door, he managed to hit the lock while closing it... leaving the keys locked inside the car ALONG WITH BOTH CHILDREN.  Holy crap people.  We had locked both kids INSIDE THE CAR.  It was about 15 degrees outside.  Both of them were crying; the baby because he's teething and the oldest because he's old enough to know that somehow the shit had hit the fan.  

Holy crap.  After a very brief "whose fault is this" I called 911 and explained the situation.  An officer showed up, unlocked the door and we had both kiddos out within 4 minutes of me placing the call.  

Four minutes.  Well done West Salem police, well done.

Both children recovered from the trauma/drama.  We went inside, ate pizza and turned the TV to the movie Happy Gillmore (quite the novelty as we don't have a TV at home).  About 15 minutes into it the oldest talked to himself quietly then, a little louder said "Mama? Shut the hell up?" 

Hahahahaha.. he's never said anything like that before and doesn't have a clue what he was repeating.  It was so funny I couldn't help but laugh until my sides hurt.

For contrast, here he is tonight when I went up to read him a bedtime story.  He pulled the Bible off of the nightstand and was studying it quietly "Mama, this is a lot of words."

I can't even handle it.

Oh, in cooking news my sister send me this recipe for 10-minute white bean and spinach soup.  I tossed all of the ingredients into the crock pot before going shopping.  It is sooo delicious and easy.  WOW, this is going to be on regular rotation here.  Even if you have to buy all of the ingredients I'm guessing it would come out under $5 to serve ten. 

So, so good.  I should think it would also be great over toast with a soft boiled egg.

Here's to the weekend, cheers!  What's in store for us this week?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Flowers, books and 2019 planning

The amaryllis are starting to bloom.  This big double white one is my favorite.  It was a surprise as when I bought it on clearance last winter it was marked as being a plain, pink single blossom (like the one below).  But it obviously isn't and is just spectacular. 

Here are the three that are blooming now.  We also have some dark red ones in the living room that have buds but haven't opened yet.  Amaryllis are so beautiful in the dead of winter.  

Yesterday I set up my little breeding group of booted bantams in a coop to segregate them for hatching eggs next month.  One of the doors on that coop lifts up and outward and when I opened it this morning it slipped in my snowy glove and cracked me right on the bridge of the nose.  There was actual crying and the bridge of my nose is swollen and painful but no black eyes, thank goodness.  I did skip yoga on account of a blazing headache.  

The baby has gotten his first tiny tooth this week and figured out how to motor around in his little wheeled saucer.  The oldest is loving some new books.

Aunt Bee babysits while laundry is folded.

We had a 3 a.m. Peppa Pig party in the middle of the night.

Homemade chicken noodle soup tonight.  Home made noodles and flatbread.

Really trying to be more constructive with my free time.  I've done some reading this month.

I loved The Commitment, it was touching and insightful and hilariously written.  The Kid was a really interesting look into the world of surrogacy and adoption.  I got The Kid off of Ebay and it turned out to be autographed.

I really enjoyed this.  Can't remember if I finished it in December or early this month. I'll re-read it.

Starting to plan ahead for the Spring and Summer.  Hoping to be more productive around here than we were last year as far as the property goes.  I'm going to TSC tomorrow to buy another pre-fab chicken coop so I can segregate my breeding group of Easter Eggers.  The coop is on clearance, plus I have a discount coupon and a $15 offer which means the price will be about $235 instead of $499.  The idea is to be able to sell a couple batches of chicks this year: the bantams, Easter Eggers and African goslings.  Plus hatching eggs from these groups.  In this way I hope to offset my feed costs for the year, which are estimated at about $240.

We have two ancient Maple trees in the side yard that I'd like to try tapping this spring.  Food grade buckets can be had from bakeries for a dollar or so and I'll start looking at large pans for evaporating at the thrift stores.  In this way I hope to set up the project for under $30.  If we enjoy it them we'll spring for the nice galvanized pails next year.  This guide at The Art of Doing Stuff is really helpful.  Has anyone made maple syrup at home?

It would be nice to have a hive of bees on the property again.  Part of the garden could be used for buckwheat forage.

The seed order is starting to come together.

I really hope to work smarter instead of harder this year.  I'll post more about homestead plans as they come together.  We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The big cold

Well, that happened.  We took no real notice of all of the weather warnings and winter rewarded us with dumping a full foot and a half of snow on our place.  The snow is higher than my boots when I slog through it every day to feed, water and gather eggs.

At least the sky has been bright and beautiful, part of the time anyway.

As luck would have it, it was also a full moon.

We were basically snowed in for a long weekend.  
It made me think about how much my life has changed over the years.  If this had happened 4 or 5 years ago I could tell you exactly how I would have spend the last three days: luxuriously  lying in bed under the covers with a coffee cup full of wine reading The Shining as the chill crept in from under the old windows.

I'm not saying it was "Overlook Manor" here exactly but my job now was to make sure everyone was fed and entertained, cabin fever be dammed.    The oldest puttered around the house on his scooter (not un-like Danny with his tricycle in The Shining) and had lots of activities to enjoy.

We build a tiny xylophone, built a tic-tac-toe board, read lots of books, painted.

Watched our neighbor, God bless him, snowplow the driveway for us.  It seems like a small thing but as it was covered with a foot and a half of snow it would have taken us a solid day to shovel it. 

We fished in a tiny pond, measured each catch against a ruler and decided to throw the fish back or put it in the tiny fabric cooler.

One snowy day the oldest found a balsa plane kit in our bedroom.  "Mama let's build this!" he said.  Sigh, OK, you're right.  I bought this kit 5 or 6 years ago and have never attempted to put it together, so what could I really say but "Sure"? There are about 500 pieces, all made of paper-thin balsa wood.  So far we have made the body of the plane, the rudder, the tail and the oldest has learned lots of creative new swears.  I think I've broken every paper-thin piece at least 4 times and super-glued the plane to my fingers more times than I can count.  

There were some inventive meals cooked.  The freezer was relieved of a chicken, some fish, venison sausage and frozen pasta dough.  We used some canned apples and bruchetta.  We didn't go to the store until things were dire: the house was out of cheese, wine and diapers.   It was a wonderful three days of being isolated from the world and together as a family.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Going Gently postcard & snow

John over at Going Gently is having a post card contest. This was my entry mailed off today under the "animals" category. He's already received a couple of good, saucy ones competing for the "gay men" title so I won't even attempt to make one.  Postage to Wales was $1.25 and is an amazing treat. So excited to send a card to a person I've enjoyed reading for years. I feel like blogging is the new "pen pal" way of doing things and it delights me to read about someone's daily life in a place far away.

In other news, the oldest and I made a snow T-Rex outside today.

And took several rides around the yard in the sled.

We are forecasted to get a large amount of snow this weekend. I'd like to think we're ready for it; today I roasted a chicken and vegetables, baked a cake and a loaf of bread. Not sure how that makes a difference but I feel better about it anyway. It seems like every time we are forecast to get mountains of snow we only get an inch or two. At least meals are taken care of. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tummy time

"Tummy time" is hated by babies everywhere, or so I have been told. Both of our kids loved it.  The secret, apparently, is to place the baby on the floor, sprinkle shredded cheese out of his reach and deploy the cats.  The baby is thrilled and talks to the cats.  The cats are thrilled with the cheese.  Everyone wins.  It may be lazy parenting but it's pretty hilarious.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Just some fun from last week that I wanted to remember.  There was one day when I went upstairs for a nap and came down to find these:

My husband and the oldest had made paper bag puppets for this book.  Aren't they adorable?  The book is about an owl (Sam) and his trouble-making firefly friend Gus.  Paper bag puppets are the best.

We had a piece of ginger in the kitchen that was sprouting in two places.  The oldest was tasked with planting it in the little blue bowl.  Construction equipment was required, I think a miniature front-loader.  Honestly, I don't know what any of these toys are so it's a good thing I have a 3 year old to explain the difference between a front-loader, backhoe, etc.  We've never tried to grow ginger before but it was fun to plant it at least.  We'll see what happens.

The hammock has been replaced (thanks, Dad!) and is back in action.  I have been swinging in it at night, in the the dark, after the kids go to bed.  The other night it was snowing while I was outside and it was really wonderful.

There's been a half-hearted attempt at sorting seeds for this year's garden so we can make plans and put in a seed order.  This year I'd like to to approach growing birds and plants in more of a grocery-list quota way as opposed to whatever happens. That's the idea any way.

We had goulash this week.  Every month a handful of magazines come in the mailbox.  They were free offers from awhile back and I don't really read them but have been tearing out the pages that I want to keep and putting them in a folder on the desk (then throwing the magazine out).  It's helped to reduce clutter and resulted in some new meals.

This was good and we'll make it again.

Over Christmas there was a ton of stew made and some ended up in the freezer.  A container of chicken stew got pulled out last week and made into a chicken pot pie.  My mother in law gave me this tiny, adorable cookie cutter years ago.  I love how all of the chickens look unique.

A post wouldn't be complete without a cat picture.  Here is Elyse catching a snow flake on her tongue.  Not really, but that's what I told he oldest and he thought it was the best thing ever.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Child labor

Free child labor.

He insisted on mopping the entire downstairs all by himself. Now we're talkin'. Someone please pass the bonbons.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Crazy weather

It's been an odd sort of non-winter around here this year. It's been really warm. I've seen a robin already. The poultry are acting *ahem* like it's spring. We were all enjoying it until yesterday when we had a tornado warning that sent us to the basement, TWO hailstorms and a thunderstorm complete  with lightning.  


The sky was both stormy grey and sunny blue, often at the same time.

We all did get to enjoy the afternoon. There were muddy puddles to jump in.

I guess there was an actual tornado not too far from us. In January! 

One of us decided to give up and spend the day napping.

Bee's nap didn't last long.  Elyse, poor thing, somehow got shut in the garage and we didn't find her until late last night.  Some extra cat treats helped her get over the insult.  We went for a little drive in the evening to get peroxide to whiten my goose skull that I picked up from the taxidermist and the oldest got a couple of tiny goldfish for his aquarium.

It was nearly 60 degrees yesterday. Overnight the temperature fell and now it is 28 with snow on the ground. I did go to yoga (drove, didn't walk) and that was nice. Pot pie for dinner and I think it's going to be an early night, maybe with a book.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Goodbye hammock

Hammock and I in better days; here we are camping at Cook Forrest.

I love my hammock.  It was a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and at first it stayed in the camper only to be brought out on special occasions.  But, let's be honest, isn't every day I'm alive a special occasion?  It is.  So I set it up between a couple of pear trees and every day, every single day (baring rain) I swing in it after I close up coops.

Out back in the old orchard.

Until last night anyway.  It finally happened.  After leaving my beloved hammock out in all types of weather since spring.... it died.  Dramatically. I extended it to swing, jumped in, let go and promptly fell THROUGH it. 

Poor thing.  

Luckily my backside is padded enough that there were no major injuries when this happened but I caught the flabby underside of my upper arm as I fell (all women over the age of 30 will understand what I'm talking about here) and so am getting a big bruise.  

It could have been worse.  I'm glad it didn't die when the baby and I were swinging.

Or Bee and I.  Or the oldest.  Who loves the hammock as much as I do.  

Anyway, we need a replacement and quick.  I had plenty of time to think upon this last night.  Woke up at 2 a.m. and decided to try to sleep in my own bed instead of  on the couch.  Moved the oldest into his own bed and the baby into the crib.  At which point all hell broke loose, the baby crying This is not where I sleep! and the oldest half awake and demanding a milkshake.  So I was wide awake after I made him a frozen banana smoothie and checked Amazon.  Happily, new hammock can be had for less than $30.  Or, I could upgrade to one with a mosquito net over top of it (it looks like a big pea shell) for $40.  This would allow me (at some point?) to sleep outside.  Decisions, decisions.  For now my sore self is going to have a glass of wine, take another aspirin and ponder my choices.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Our bird tree

In the spirit of trying to instill the "giving" part of Christmas into the oldest we made a tree for the birds this year. Most of the decorations for the tree were edible; dried apples, orange slices and pinecones rolled in peanut butter and bird seed. After Christmas we moved to tree outside and re-decorated it.

It got knocked over during a storm the night before last but we fixed it up again. So far it's being enjoyed by mostly house sparrows but we have some woodpeckers coming by for the suet and some juncos eating spilled seed.

I'm hoping to make more decorations for it on days we are snowed in this winter so all of us can enjoy it in the coming months.