Archive for November, 2008

Brrrrrr. It’s too early for this!

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

We’ve been having an unusually cold November this year. It’s been going down to the low 20’s and high teens at night for the past few weeks. I found the water in the chicken coop frozen solid many mornings, and last weekend I talked Bernie into helping me insulate the coop. We had to empty the coop completely and put all the nest boxes in the chicken yard for the day. It confused the hens something fierce. A few eventually gave in and layed their eggs in the nest boxes outside – but they were clearly not happy about that. I ended up finding a nest by Bernie’s mower under the lean-to in the back yard with seven eggs in it. I was worried that would become a bad habit for them, but once the coop was put back together, they’ve been faithfully laying in the nest boxes again.

By the way, insulating the coop has worked to keep it at least 15 degrees warmer than it is outside. I know those chickens are happy about that.

I wanted to get a few pictures of the chickens for y’all to see how big they are getting, but it’s been raining here all day. I decided to open the front door and snap a few from there. This is what we are greeted with each time we open the front door:

Photobucket

Doesn’t that just make you smile? Cute little buggers.

About the time I took that picture the rain really started coming down. Most of the hens headed to the chicken run. Duke and a few of the girls took off to get under Bernie’s pickup. And Bobby Lee stayed where he was – hanging out under the eave of the coop:

Photobucket

About half the girls are laying now. We usually get 10 eggs a day.

Photobucket

This is what we’ve done with a lot of them:

Photobucket

We’ve also given away a few dozen to friends. And, naturally, we eat eggs every single solitary day. I’m certainly not complaining. It’s about time these hens started earning their keep around here.

In the first picture I posted above, you may notice a line of mud in the yard. That’s the trench Bernie dug with the Ditch Witch . Then he buried 1 1/4″ PVC conduit to run the electric wire through. By the end of the week I should have electric in my shed and in the coop. Yay! Then he’s going to run electric to the garage. Yay again!

A friend of ours gave us a deer last week. We hung it, skinned it, and butchered it last Wednesday. We let it soak in a cooler until this morning, when we processed it. Another friend gave us 1/2 of a deer that he shot on our property Thanksgiving Day. He even processed the meat before giving it to us. No matter how it arrives, you really can’t complain about free meat – but it sure was nice to recieve that 1/2 deer ready to go into the freezer.

We’ve been cold on the homestead, and we’ve been busy. And we are still loving every minute of it.

Bee Free,
Penny

Tickled Pink

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

My dad loves to enter contests. He’ll fill out entry forms for any contest that is giving away something free. His local newspaper recently began printing entry forms to win a free scooter and I was not surprised to learn that my dad was clipping them, filling them out, and mailing them in on a fairly regular basis. What I was surprised to learn is that this free scooter campaign was to promote breast cancer awareness and, as a result, the scooter is pink. Bright pink. VERY bright pink. But this didn’t seem to bother my dad, and he continued filling out and submitting entry forms anytime he found them in the newspaper.

Much to the amazement of my entire family, my father WON the bright pink scooter. And if that’s not surprising enough, he actually rides the bright pink scooter. All the time. Everywhere.

Now a man with less self confidence might hesitate to ride a bright pink scooter. But my dad has never lacked in the self confidence department. He scoots around on the highways on his bright pink scooter in his tennis shoes with his flannel shirt flapping like nobody’s business. He’s even had people slow down as they pass him to take pictures of him on their cell phones. I’m not sure I could blame them:

Is he not just the most precious thing you’ve ever seen?

Rock on daddy. Don’t let anyone tell you pink is not your color.

I love you.

Penny

Hey – I Got a Blog Award!

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

A big shout out to Molly, at Doing It Naturally, for giving me the Premium Dardos Award. Thanks, Molly. I am truly honored.

“With the Premium Dardos, recognize the values that each blogger shows each day in commitment to transmit cultural values, ethical, literary, personal etc. that, in short, demonstrate their creativity by alive thinking that remains intact from their letters and words. ”

What a really nice way to let a blogger know that their musings and writings are of interest. The rules in accepting this award are:

1. Accept the award and post it on your blog along with a link to the person who has awarded you.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

My list of 15 blogs is comprised of those I’ve learned a lot from, share a mutual interest with, and/or just plain love reading. Each has its own special way of demonstrating creativity with words, if not actions. They are listed in no particular order because I’d have trouble “ranking” them. I hope you’ll take some time to check each of them out:

Sparrow Haven
Sugar Mountain Farm
Delaware Curmudgeon
Justice Desserts
Life on a Southern Farm
Making it Our Home
Mainely Ewes Farm
Brambleberry Blog
The Inky Spinnery
Losing Our Shirts, Keeping the Farm
This Old Crackhouse
Fancyin’ the Farm Life
The Beginning Farmer
Northwoods Ramblings
Me the Mama

Thanks again, Molly. You made my day!

We’ve been getting rain. Lots of rain. And now it’s getting cold. And windy. This morning we’re getting a little sleet. Oh boy, here we go again.

I’m sure you know by now that I’m not much of a cold weather person. Last year I had to make myself commit to venturing outside at least one time daily during the winter. I think I was successful in meeting that commitment, but I honestly can’t remember. I tend to block out bad memories.

This winter, whether I like it or not, I am committed to venturing outside at least twice daily, regardless of the temperature or anything else Mother Nature tosses my way – because this year I have chickens. And, at the very least, I have to let them out of their coop in the morning, and tuck them in at night. And certainly I’ll have to collect eggs during the day. And then there are the countless number of times each day that a Hamburg will start screaming bloody murder and send me flying out of the house prepared to see a bear eating chickens like popcorn, only to find that the Hamburg simply wandered too far and was a little “stressed” to find herself alone in the yard…… This is going to be a long, cold winter on the homestead.

Bernie rented the Ditch Witch and got the trenches dug to start running electric wire to the outbuildings and coop. The Ditch Witch was an experience unto itself and I wish I had gotten pictures of that monster. It was a huge and scary piece of equipment. My hiney was tingling the entire time Bernie was using that thing. It’s basically a gargantuan chain saw looking thing that you stand behind and try to control as it lurches about and eats a trench in the yard. Bernie handled it beautifully and made short work of the 150 feet of trenching he put in. The chickens and I stood around trembling and fretting, and when it was finished we all ran over to check out the new trenches. The chickens found a lot of nice, juicy earth worms, and I found comfort in the fact that we all lived through it. Bernie laid the PVC pipes on Friday, and as soon as it dries up a little, he’ll start running the electric wire.

I’ve been pickling eggs – LOTS of eggs. 51 of them, to be egg-xact. If you are one of my Christmas Victims, I hope you like pickled eggs.

With all the rainy weather, Bernie spent some time inside, refinishing a Hercules 12-gauge double barrel shotgun that was his grandfathers, and handed down to Bernie. It was made in the early 1900’s, and looked every day of it’s age. When Bernie received it, the stock was broken in a few places and held together with black electrical tape. He fixed the stock with some wood glue, sanded down the stock and forearm, and then re – stained them. It looks wonderful and Bernie is pretty darn proud of it. As you can see:

Is he not the cutest thing? And the gun looks really nice, too. OH – and you can also see the “free” wood stove my father gave us. Don’t let it’s size fool you – that bad boy can pump out some heat. And it has certainly allowed us to keep with our vow of only heating with wood this year.

I guess I should bundle up and go check for some eggs and tend to the chickens. I told them about my Blog Award, but they are not nearly as impressed with it as I am. I explained to them that I am now famous, and mentioned they could at least reward me with a few extra eggs. Judging by the massive amount of eye rolls I got, I’m guessing that’s just not going to happen.

Bee Free,
Penny

Let’s Do Some Shopping

Monday, November 10th, 2008

I have finally finished setting up the Penny Lane Bath Shop and we’re open for business! I still don’t have all the pictures up, but I’ll be adding them over time. I’ve listed soaps, lotions, perfumes, room fresheners, soap dishes, and face scrubs. I’ll be adding more in the future.

From now until November 30, you can get 10% off of your first order – including shipping! Just enter “basicliving” (without the quotes) in the coupon box on the check out page. There is a limitation in PayPal that will not accept discounts, so I am forced to simply send the total through to PayPal. As a result, your invoice will not contain your purchase details – it will only contain one line with the total amount due and that amount will reflect the 10% off.

After you order, send me an email with your feedback about your shopping experience at Penny Lane Bath and I’ll send you another coupon code for 10% off your next order in appreciation.

So let’s do some shopping! Just click here to get started.

Bee Free,
Penny

In the Kitchen and in the Yard

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Other than crowing about being The Fish Whisperer, I’ve been busy catching up around here. Tabasco peppers come in just as the weather gets cool around here, and although it’s been cool for a while, I managed to harvest mine before it was too late. I made some hot sauce out of them, and thought you may be interested in the recipe.

Let me explain that true “Tabasco Sauce” (like you buy in the store) is aged in oak barrels for three years. Unless you have three years and all the accoutrements, you may appreciate using a recipe similar to this one instead:

Penny’s Piping Hot Pepper Sauce

2 dozen tabasco fresh peppers (more or less)
1 cup white vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Pour the entire thing into the blender and blend well. Strain through a seive, or something similar. Pour liquid into a bottle.

And there you have it. Some of the best-tasting-kick-your-hiney-hot-sauce you’ve ever tasted.

The hens have been blessing us with about a half dozen eggs a day, so while I was in the kitchen I decided to make some pickled eggs. The number of eggs you use will depend on the size of your eggs. Basically, this recipe is for as many eggs as you can fit in a quart size canning jar. If you are making more, adjust the recipe accordingly:

Penny’s Pickled Eggs with Jalapenos

peeled hard boiled eggs (you may want to enlist your spouse’s help in the “peeling” part of this)
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 to 1 jar pickled jalapenos with juice (depending on how much heat you want)
1 onion, sliced into chunks
1 heaping teaspoon garlic
1 to 2 tablespoon salt (optional)

Combine vinegar, jalapenos, onion, garlic, salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes. Fill quart sized canning jar with eggs, leaving 1 inch headspace. Pour hot contents of saucepan over top of eggs, being sure to include the jalapenos, onion, and garlic. Seal the jar with the lid and store in the refrigerator for at least six weeks. Then sit back and try to wait six weeks before opening the jar to taste…..

OK, we’ve spent enough time in the kitchen. Let’s get outside.

Bernie is still chopping and splitting wood for our wood burner. Poor guy – our challenge to only heat with wood this year is certainly harder on him than it is on me. But I am proud to report that it is working, and our home is cozy warm each day because of it. Not that he gets to enjoy much of it….

As I mentioned, these worthless hens are finally giving us some eggs. I’d like to think that’s the result of the countless “pep talks” I’ve had with them these past few weeks. In truth, it’s the result of these hens doing exactly what they want to do. I’m so darn happy to have eggs that I don’t even care why they’re doing it at this point.

With the exception of one, all the hens are laying in the nest boxes Bernie and I labored to make for them. I was worried that allowing them to free range would mean I’d be searching 65 acres looking for eggs each day. But they all lay in their nest box, except one. One little Phoenix prefers to lay on the floor of the coop, regardless of the amount of time I’ve spent begging her to do otherwise. I finally decided to just clean her “laying” area up and that really seemed to make her happy. She leaves us an egg in that spot nearly every day. There’s more than one way to pluck a chicken…….

I do believe we’ll have electricity in our out buildings within the next couple of weeks. I think Bernie is getting desperate for a break in chopping and splitting wood. He mentioned renting a tool to dig trenches so he can lay the wire for the electric to the buildings. Woo hoo! I can be fully illuminated when I tuck the chickens in at night – night gown, house coat, cammo jacket, rubber boots, and all. Now that’s a sight worth lighting up.

We’re doing well on the homestead. This journey continues to take twists and turns, but we don’t mind. We’re just along for the ride.

Bee free,
Penny

You Can Call Me the Fish Whisperer

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Bernie and I spent last weekend visiting my parents down south. We had an absolutely wonderful time. We live many miles away from both sets of our parents, so we don’t get to spend as much time with them as we’d like. It really makes me sad, but it does make us appreciate and enjoy them even more when we do get to visit with them.

Daddy took us out in his boat fishing the first day we were there. Fisherman and hunters are cut from the same cloth, and any self respecting “outdoors man” starts the day at obnoxiously early morning hours for reasons that completely escape me. Perhaps making it to that deer stand or fishing hole at 5AM increases the chances that the intended prey will be groggy and confused and walk/swim right up to that Early Bird holding the gun/fishing pole. I’m not sure.

All I know is that we were on the boat, flying down the river, before the sun came up and it was COLD. Mom and I were wearing every piece of cold weather gear we could find and still sat there with teeth chattering as daddy had that boat screaming down the river. Bernie sat with his hands in his pockets and beard flapping, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we were experiencing a wind chill that I’m sure is typically found only in the Arctic.

The fishing spot my dad had in mind was 24 miles from the dock where we put in. At roughly 35 – 40 miles an hour, it took a little while and by the time we arrived my mom looked like a popsicle. Even though we could no longer feel our hands, we grabbed some fishing poles and got started.

Bernie caught a nice sized trout right away, and dad and mom quickly followed. They soon began feeling sorry for my no-fish-catching-self and everyone became focused on giving me fishing tips. “Penny, throw over here”. “Penny, change your bait”. Finally, I announced “Well, I know what’s wrong. You’ve got to talk to those fish and tell them it’s ok to jump on that hook.” They began snickering, but watched intently as I announced “If I was a fish, I would live right there” as I pitched my plug into a fish inhabiting looking spot. “And I would jump right on that hook right now” and BAM – a fish grabbed that hook! We all got a good chuckle out of that and my dad assured me I could not do that again. But even before he could finish his sentence, I was talking to the fish, casting my line, and catching another fish! I did that eight times in a row – seriously, eight times! It was a hoot and the absurdity of it had us laughing hysterically.

Fisherman tend to be a rather superstitious lot, and my dad is the ultimate fisherman. So when he called me last night to tell me that he and his friend, Bobby, had returned to that fishing spot yesterday and quickly caught their limit, I had to ask “Daddy, did you talk to the fish?”. He rather sheepishly answered “Well…. just a little”. As I began laughing he quickly attempted to divert the attention from himself and added “Well, I had Bobby talking to them, too!” I get a chuckle out of visualizing two grown men, in the middle of the river, casting their lines and chanting “Here fishy, fishy”.

Yes, you can just call me the Fish Whisperer. And as proud as I am of that, I am even more proud to be the daughter of wonderful, loving parents. It amazes me that even at 50 years old, I revert to being my parents’ little girl when I’m around them. I don’t mind. And they don’t seem to mind either.

We’re back at the homestead now and busy, as always. Bernie’s chopping and splitting wood, and I’m messing with those chickens and making hot sauce from Tabasco peppers. I’ll post another blog update soon and include the recipes for hot sauce and pickled eggs. Now that’s some fine eating there!

Bee Free,
Penny