Thursday, December 31, 2009

Starting Out The New Year Right!

I went to Lowe's today, and took the truck. It's my favorite store, and it just seemed like the thing to do. Besides, I wanted to get some steer manure, and it's a much nicer ride home when I don't have funky manure smells inside the car to distract me. I was completely out of the stuff, and believe me, that's just not a good place to be. I planted my winter garden sometime in October, so it's been in the ground long enough to put on some nice growth. This bed looks great, thanks to the 20 bags of steer manure I put in! It just seemed like a good idea at the time!

Now compare it to the same kind of plants, put in at the very same time. These are in a different bed, without the addition of 20 bags of steer manure. Oh, I sound like a project at an elementary school science fair! I should get a blue ribbon! (At our elementary school, there's no letter grade, just credit for doing it, and a blue, red, or white ribbon.) Ahh, but I digress. Here's my sad little garden bed that didn't get the steer manure. That's Dozer, there on the right, helping me.

So what did I do today?? I went to Lowe's to get steer manure. But not just a few bags. Or even just 20 bags. I got a whole pallet! That's 75 bags, according to my friends at Lowe's. Then I drove home, taking the turns very.....slowly.

I was greeted by my slave, uh, I mean child. He was so happy! "75 bags of manure?" He asked. "Is that all? Why not more, Mom? I'll get right on that!"

And he jumped right up there, with a big smile, and started tossing them down. See the look on his face? He's totally bummed that there's not more.

"We" got out the ol' 2 wheeled wheelbarrow, and started making the loads from the truck to the garden, where they got stacked up nice and neat. David let his dad help just a little, because he's nice like that.

Here's a picture of his dad heaving one on the pile. Yea, they had fun. Sort of a father/son bonding thing. They both thanked me when they were done.

Ahhh, what a great feeling to know that I have a small mountain of this stuff, right in the garden, at my fingertips. It's a great way to start out the year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Mail Lady

Our mail lady is really sweet. Not only is she really sweet, but she is about 65 years old. I'm just guessing, it's not like we discuss how old we are or anything like that, but she's not young. Anyway, our mailbox is not at our house. It's down the road a ways, and we just stop on our way home, or walk down there on weekends. When we get something too big to fit in the mailbox, she brings it to the house and either gives it to us, or leaves it on the porch. Yesterday afternoon, David, our youngest, walked down to the mailbox. He did this because he spends his days thinking of ways to make our lives as easy as possible. He was also waiting for a package he had ordered. He came back with the mail and one of those tan papers that says there's something the mail lady couldn't deliver, and I can pick it up at the post office. But we were here! What gives? She didn't drive in! What am I, some normal, regular person on some normal, regular route?? I read the note. It says, "Very heavy! Bring a man :)"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spring is Just Around the Corner!

Just when the weather begins to get really chilly, and the holidays are in full swing, the gardening catalogs start arriving. It's so nice to just sit next to the fire and thumb through the pages, but I was good and made myself set them aside until: 1) after I finished the Christmas stuff, and 2) I finally finished planting the bulbs I got two months ago.
So now, I can sit and look at the seed catalogs, with no guilt whatsoever! I'm checking what I have leftover from last year, and what I need to reorder. Oh, I love this time of year! So much promise! Anything is possible! The table is covered with seed catalogs, and my thoughts are on sunny days, getting up and out of the house to work barefoot in the yard. I try not to go overboard when I order. I tell myself to think what can I realistically take care of, and where I will put them all, but it's hard! I want everything! So many yummy veggies, to say nothing of the really cool and funky gourds, and this flower that looks like a brain. I really want that one. Want to know what's on my list so far? Sunflowers, pole beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, sugar peas (the flat kind), and I think I'll try potatoes this year. I haven't done those before, and decided to give them a whirl. The rest of the seeds I will plant are leftover. Unless I decide to get more seeds. That's always possible. Yea, that's pretty much likely.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Look what was plugging up the filter!

Today, we took a walk out back by our pond. The pump sounded funny, and there wasn't much water going over the rock into the pond. Hubby decided to investigate. It had been awhile since the pre-filter basket had been cleaned out, and with the leaves and tree gunk, it couldn't hurt to empty it. He opened it up, and guess what he found??? This big guy, and a little friend, (both very much alive and well) inside the basket, clogging up the flow. How he fit underneath the cover, and then into the pipe that leads to the trap, we haven't yet figured out. He's way bigger than anything else that has ever gone through. I'm just glad he didn't get stuck halfway!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Swap!

Guess What??? It looks like I will be able to post this on my blog today. We have been having problems with our phone lines, and the dial up seems to be working, (woohoo!!) so I will take this time to post about my swap. My swap partner was Brenda. My, goodness, is she ever on the ball! She had her basket done and mailed to me by the middle of the month. I, on the other hand, was not that organized. But, I digress. Check out what I got! Everything was in this very pretty, very sturdy basket. Cool, huh? And so festive, too. I didn't take a picture of it today, but just imagine homemade oatmeal rolls in it, sitting next to the mashed potatoes. Yummy! Oh, and the ornament on the front of the basket?? It's on my kitchen Christmas tree. It's a cute little jute snowflake with little pretties on the front.

And inside the basket? Lots and lots of chicken stuff! Can you see the towel on the left, and the one behind on the right? Those have the crocheted tops, and will button on my new oven. In fact, I have one buttoned up right now. Special for Christmas! And everybody that walks through my kitchen sees it. I just love new towels. My sister-in-law, Cathy, calls all her new towels, "Happy Towels", because they make her feel happy! These are my Happy Chicken Towels. The green roundish box has (well, really, I should say, "had") mint brownie mix. They were really good, and my family liked them too. Hmmm, can you tell that the mint chocolates have been opened? Yea, they're long gone! They were really good, and I didn't share any of those. The wooden handled spatula is really cool, too. A cook can never have too many good spatulas, and this one will be getting put to good use.

Oh! And that's not all! There are more chicken things, another towel, and hot pads, and a hot mitt. And....... A Chicken To The Rescue Cookbook!! Look at the picture! Is that not the cutest thing ever on a cookbook??? My sister picked that up today, and was thumbing through it. I'm sure I'll be copying some recipes for her.
Brenda did an awesome job, and I hope she had as much fun putting it together as I did getting it, and then showing it off to everybody that's into the whole kitchen thing like I am. This is what it looked like before I started tearing into it. Way cool, huh??

Thank you, Brenda, for such a great basket of goodies. I'll use them lots, and think about you when I do!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Doin's In Poe-dunk-ville

Since the middle of June, there's been daily roadwork smack dab in the middle of town. First, it was supposed to be done by October 31st. But that came and went, and they were still working on the road. Then it was supposed to be done November 30th. But that came and went, and they were still working on the road. Now it is supposed to be done December 31st. I think that's more likely. Anyway, they've been working on the road. Like, on the main road. Through all three of the main intersections. Where all of our stoplights are. For a long time my little town has had just three (3) stoplights. It suits me. I'm a small town country girl, and I like having only three stoplights. It's very easy to get around when you live in a town with only three stoplights. I can get from one end of town to the other in just a few minutes. But things can't stay the same forever, and my little town is growing. Yes, we are on the verge of getting another set of lights. I took this picture of the intersection where it is going. This is looking to the left. Ouch.

The state highway runs right through the middle of town, and what was 2 lanes each way 5 months ago is now 1 lane each way. I've been doing pretty good at staying away from the middle of town. But in just a few short weeks, it will all be worth it. We'll have a pretty, brand new, much safer, easy to get around, main thoroughfare through town. And it will be wonderful.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Shopping With My Dad

I haven't left my house since two days before Thanksgiving. I didn't go shopping on Black Friday, and didn't go out Saturday or today. I have baked, cooked, washed countless batches of dirty dishes, fed the animals, started decorating the house for Christmas, and even done a little cleaning. I have visited with my family, had my dad, sister, niece, and nephew over for leftovers, but I have not left the house. It's been very nice; five (5) whole days, just here, not going anywhere. But tomorrow, it's back to normal. Even more than that, after work I will be taking my dad to Walmart to go Christmas shopping. It'll be great, just him, me, and a few hundred of our closest friends all at Walmart at the same time. A father-daughter bonding trip! I love my dad. He's the self-proclaimed, "Resident Curmudgeon." And he's right. He really is. He doesn't want to go Christmas shopping. Not with me, or anybody else. But I told him he could do this, and then softened the blow by telling him maybe he could take me out to dinner afterwards, or maybe before! He loves taking his kids out to dinner, and I knew he would agree to that! So tomorrow, after work, I'm driving to my dad's, and we are going Christmas shopping together, at Walmart. Maybe he will take advantage of the little scooter things they have there?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. Yes, I know it's the morning after Thanksgiving.... and I am still loving Thanksgiving. Today I am loving it in the form of leftovers. I had the breakfast of champions. A slice of apple pie and a roll with pomegranate jelly on one side, and mint jelly on the other side. I have started listening to Christmas music, and am trying to decide whether to make something else in the kitchen, or clear out my clean clothes in the bedroom so I can sew. What else could a person ask for? Life is good.

Happy Thanksgiving, and the day after!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Day of Questions--

I don't know if I've ever had a sugar rush. Maybe I'm having one now. I made fudge from a recipe my sister gave me, and then caramel corn and sugared nuts, both from Buns in my oven website. They were all really good. Yes, I gave lots away, but still, this afternoon my head is swimming. Ever had a day when there were just so many questions running amuck in your head that nothing else made sense? Yeah, that's today. Want a tour? Here's just a few:

  • What sort of things do I need to get now, a few days ahead of time for my Thanksgiving dinner?
  • What can wait until the day before, when I'm off work?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Why doesn't the game of football make more sense?
  • Should I make cranberry sauce now or later?
  • Do I have everything for cranberry sauce?
  • How much Martinelli's is too much?
  • Is there really such a thing as too much Martinelli's?
  • How many different pies should I make?
  • How many people are coming to dinner?
  • When should I clean out my frig?
  • Should I even bother cleaning out my frig?
  • Why do golf balls have so many dimples? Are they all used when we buy them and the dimples are where the other people have hit them?
  • Maybe golf balls aren't pumped up enough. If so, how do I pump up golf balls?
  • How much wood can I put in the woodstove before I get run out by my men?

So many questions. Does anybody have answers to any of them?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Feelin' Like Fall!

Fall is definitely here. One of the things I love about fall is the smells. The smell of the fire in the wood stove, and the crisp, clean air outside in the morning when I leave to go to work. This afternoon, I was having a nice time blowing leaves off the driveway. This time of year, I usually do it every other day or so. Unless I tell our youngest if he wants dinner, he can do it. But most of the time, I do it, because I don't mind.

So there I was, blowing leaves, smelling the fall smells, just enjoying working outside, and being by myself doing outdoorsy things. I love outdoorsy things. All of a sudden, my perfect Zen moment was interrupted by the most ...... oh, I don't have words to describe it. It was bad, let me tell you. Of course, I had to figure out what was causing it. Didn't take me long, and this is what I found:

Can you tell what that is? I'm real nice, or else I would give you the blown up picture. That's a very big, very fresh, dog poop, almost perfectly on top of a nice tree stump that is going to become yard art. My hubby brought that home to me after one of his many hunting trips. He's always thinking about me. What a guy! But, I digress. Our big goof of a dog backed up to my beautiful stump, and deposited some art of his own. We have 2 1/2 acres for him to do his job, and he picks my yard art. Yeah.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pomegranate Jelly

I have been looking at 2 big containers of pomegranates on my kitchen counter for almost a week now. Here's one of them.

I got out all my stuff, and got to work. The thing is, the classroom that I work in usually gives gifts to all the staff members of the whole school (yea, the whole school!) that have been helpful to us during the year. That adds up to about 50 people. We had been talking about what to do this year, and a great idea was to make pomegranate jelly. I'm the only one that does that sort of thing. I also have a real hard time saying no. Put those two things together, and that's what I did this weekend. I could have done it at school, but that didn't make too much sense, because depending on the day at school, it can be difficult working in the kitchen for an extended amount of time. Anyway, I got started. I juiced them. I used my trusty, old, cracked, hand juicer. I love it. Can you tell? We go way back.

Pomegranates are messy. Really messy. I cleaned up alot.

Jelly is basically simple to make. All it is? Juice, sugar, and pectin. Pour in the juice. Isn't it beautiful?

I decided that since I needed to make so much jelly, and I didn't know if I would have enough pomegranate juice, I would make pomegranate/apple jelly. I poured in the apple juice. (store bought, plain ol' 100% juice)

Heat it up, and stir in a little sugar, pectin, and just about 1 teaspoon butter. That's to keep the foam from taking over later. Take my word for it. You need it, and the taste is not noticeable.
Let it come up to a hard boil and add the rest of the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Keep a close eye on it until it comes back up to a hard boil, and then boil for 2 minutes.

Take it off the stove, let it sit for a minute or two, skim the little layer of foam off, pour it into jars, and process for 5 minutes. Voila! Pomegranate jelly.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's Saturday!

This morning I woke up and the sun was shining. The start to a great day! On the list of things to do today? I'm making pomegranate jelly. Everything's ready, and most important? I'm barefoot, in my jammie pants, an old t-shirt, and I've put on the music. Loud! More later. With pictures. Oh, I love Saturdays!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Apples, Apples, Apples!

We have this apple tree. Actually, we have more, but just one produced enough to do anything with. Last week I convinced my youngest child that he wanted to help me finish picking the tree. He's much taller than I am, and it all made perfect sense to me.....teenage child, very tall, lives at home, eats at home......well, you get the picture. Anyway, I had about 3-4 big boxes of apples on the kitchen counter. I made applesauce. Boy, did I make applesauce! Thank heavens for my really cool Victorio Strainer. Before I had this thing, I would never attempt to make much applesauce. But not now. All I have to do is cut them in quarters, cut out any buggy parts, cook them down a little, and run them through the strainer.

I got my jars all set up to can the applesauce. I ended up taking more than one day to do all this, because I started after I came home from work. I made a bunch one evening, and then the next day put the whole batch in the electric roaster to warm it up before I put it in jars to can.

A family can only eat so much applesauce, right? I still had some apples left over, so I made apple butter. Here it is, cooking down and smelling really good.

Oh, yum. Here's a few jars of the finished product. I can't wait to open up a jar and use it on toast, or in recipes! Next on the list to make? Pomegranate jelly! I LOVE fall!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mrs. Murphy's Law

If something can go wrong, it will, when Mr. Murphy is out of town.

This has been what is going on:

Thursday afternoon: Go outside to find something killed one of my chickens. Get rid of carcass.
Friday afternoon: Pick up youngest from bus. Find out he definitely got my cold.
Friday night: 103 temp. Advil and fluids, and I keep a close eye on him. Make goodies for eldest child.
Saturday morning: Visit with eldest son and his friend. Drive to town for large live trap.
Sat. night: Set trap. Catch cat. Put cat in dog crate, reset and rebait trap.
Sat and Sun: Son's fever hovers between 100, to just under 102. Continue with Advil and fluids.
Sunday morning: Get up to find trap empty, food not eaten. Leave trap as is. Let cat out of crate. Catch cat. Release cat from trap after 4-5 hours.
Sunday night: Put cat in crate. Set trap.
Monday morning: Trap empty. Let cat out of crate.
Monday morning: Son's temp 103, go into work long enough until second wave of adults gets there, then split. Take child to Dr. Spend 3 hours in Dr. office, to find out he doesn't have strep, but will most likely test positive for Swine flu.
Monday afternoon: Drive home, drop child off, go back into town (closest town) to pick up Tamiflu perscription. Spend $85 on copay. Buy 5 gallons of apple juice. Ship books at Post Office for Hubby. Go home. Make bed, clean up kitchen, relax (Ha!)
Monday night: Go outside to set trap. Find different cat acting very weird. See big bloody poop/guts hanging out of rectum. Forget the trap. Get dog crate, wash it out, put blankets inside. Put sick cat in crate, call sister and cry. Sister meets me at 24 hr. vet. Spend evening with sister at vet, trying to decide whether or not to put cat down or do risky surgery for half wild cat.
Midnight: Sign paper to put cat down. Cry. Go home with dead cat. Cry. Let dogs out, check on sick child.
Tuesday morning, 1:30: Email Hubby. Go to bed.
Tuesday morning, 2:00: Get up with dog, go outside.
Tuesday morning, 6:30: Get up, take shower. Check on child. Tell him cat died. Go to work. Text oldest that cat died.
Tuesday afternoon: Go home. Check on child. Dig hole and bury cat.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Did I Catch?

I was excited this morning to go out and see what I caught. I even woke up early, and thought I might go out to see. Ohh, I should get a life, huh?? Anyway, I decided that maybe it would be better to wait, since the sun wasn't up yet, and the creature I am trying to catch is nocturnal. Although, if I am honest, it was mostly because the sun wasn't up yet, and it's Sunday, and my bed was really warm. But my excuse, at least at the time, was because it was still not light enough, and there was enough night left to catch something. So I went back to bed. And back to sleep. Well, I went back to sleep as soon as the dog figured out it is Sunday and I was sleeping in. But anyway, when I finally got up, I went out and this is what I found:

Nada. Bumpkis. Nothing. Zilch. Failure. My trap was a big, fat, zero. It looked the same as when I left it last night, except, of course, last night it was alot darker than this morning. So, what to do now? I let Speedy out of the dog crate, where I had locked him up last night so he wouldn't get into the trap. Of all the cats we have, he's the only one that needs to be protected from himself. Why is that? Anyway, I went to get Speedy, and then followed him to the chicken pen, and the trap. And, then, this is what he did:

I'm not surprised. Nobody is. In fact, that is so not surprising, that when I talked to Hubby about getting this trap, and setting it, that he told me "if" I happen to catch a cat, which what he really meant was, when I caught Speedy, to put him, cage and all, in the shade and let him stay caught for a few hours so he doesn't like the cage, and will stay out in the future. So, that's what I decided to do. I let him eat more of the food:

Pretty soon, the thing will trip and he will be caught inside.

Soon. Very soon. It can't be too much longer now.......

Ok, we're down to the last of the food..... he's licking the bottom........ it's going to close........ anytime.......

Uhhhh, yeah. Right.

Can you believe this? He backed up, nice as could be, right after he ate all of the food. Then came over to me. The little turd!

So now, this is what the trap looks like. I think I might need to rethink this whole thing...........

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's Set and Ready To Go!

Today I went to the orchard store. I went to get one thing. Hopefully the one thing that will save my chickens. I got the biggest, baddest trap I could find. Here it is!

This thing has two doors! Nothing but the finest, all for the convenience of the prisoners. I can set it with only one door open if I want, or I can set it with both doors open. Tonight I decided to open both doors. You know, for the convenience of my prisoners. Here it is, all set, with both doors open, and the big clump of canned cat/dog food in the middle on the trip plate.

Hmmm, now that I am looking at the picture, I realize I forgot to tie a rope onto the handle. Oh well. I don't really want to venture outside now. It's too dark, and the Boogie Man might get me. Anyway, here's the little buggers I'm trying to protect. They're in bed now, roosting and ready for me to leave. You see the one on the right? He's telling me to leave. "Get out of here," he says. "Be gone."

Yeah, now he's crowing. At night. They're all brain surgeons, I tell you!! Not a dumb one up there.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I went out to the chicken pen this afternoon to feed, water, and talk to my little creatures. Do you know what I found?? Feathers. Lots of feathers. Not attached to chickens, either. That normally means that some poor defenseless chicken has given his (or her) life for the benefit of some wild creature. Not that I have anything against wild creatures. Far from it. I love wild creatures. Just not when they chew on my babies. And if I am correct, these wild creatures that chomped on my chickens last night were raccoons. I'm not fond of raccoons. If you have ever seen a raccoon up close and personal, you will know they are not a pretty sight. They've got some gnarly teeth, and are uuuuugly!

Of course, I walked around the inside the pen, and found what I was afraid of. There was a feathered, wet carcass of a young chicken. Not a pretty sight. It was one of my roosters I raised this spring from an egg one of our older hens laid. I was sad. I know I have lots of chickens, and it was a rooster, but really! What a horrid way to die. I want to rip to pieces that raccoon that ate him. I'm normally a peace loving woman, until somebody messes with my animals. Then I want to rip them to shreds. I would go into greater detail, but I like to think this is a family friendly place, so I won't. Course, I guess this is a family friendly place because there's only one person that reads it, and she's family! But I digress.

So what's a girl to do when the He-Man Dude is gone, and chickens are dying? Ahhh, enter if you will, to the 21st Century! I sent a text to my hubby, and he suggested replacing the batteries on the hot wire, then check the wire all around the pen. And go into town tomorrow morning to buy a live raccoon trap. (They are bigger than cat traps.) Luckily for me, I have D batteries in the frig! So off I go, and replace the batteries on the charger. Then I went inside the pen to check the wire. This whole time, of course, I have been talking to my chickens, and they are acting like they want me to get off their turf. I was almost finished walking around, and I saw
Speedy, our biggest cat, outside the fence. He was acting funky, so I just kinda watched him, and still worked at the same time. Pretty soon, he hops up over the chicken wire and through the bigger hog wire, and into the chicken pen, skipping the whole hot wire thing completely. Uh oh! Maybe it wasn't the raccoon!

NOW what's a girl to do?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Packed and Ready To Go!

It's time for the last hunting trip of the year. Well, aside from duck hunting. There's always duck hunting. And goose hunting. We can't forget goose hunting. And then there is the pheasant hunting. But I'm not talking about bird hunting. I'm thinking about the trip to go elk hunting. This is the last one this year. And Hubby is ready. His bags are packed and he is ready to go. Want to see?? Here's the front seat. His hat is ready to go.

Here's the back seat. Room for one person.

And here's the rest of the stuff in the back.

I think they should have everything they need.

Back Among the Living!

Well, I have been out of commission for a few days. Ok, then, more than a few days. I am no longer horizontal, and went back to work yesterday. It was a long day, and that's a whole other story, but I made it all day. And now I feel SO much better! The world is a wonderful place again, and I am enjoying the first rain of the season. Maybe this weekend I will make sweet rolls. Pumpkin ones! I got a new recipe when we took our field trip to the pumpkin farm, and have been wanting to try it out. I will let you know how that goes.
For now, I am off to get ready to go to work.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ahhh, Field Trips!

I LOVE fieldtrips. Yes, I know how much work they are. Yes, I know how much extra time we spend with paperwork, and scheduling. I know there's alot of extra time spent making sure we have everything we need, from the right lunches, and loading the ice chest, and getting the "just in case" stuff, like the first aid kits, and gloves, and things to keep the kids busy in the car, and.....and......and. But really, folks, Field Trips!! If you have never accompanied a group of kids to a place outside of the daily learning environment, you have not yet lived. It's one of the things you should do. Like, put it on your bucket list. I insist. Humor me. You won't regret it.
Why am I saying all this? Thank you for asking! Friday we took a field trip to the local pumpkin patch. I brought along my trusty camera, and then gave it to one of our wonderful, lovely, patient, amazing teacher's aid. My only instructions to her? Have fun! She took a photo class last year, and I knew she likes this kind of thing. She got some really cute pictures.

We saw animals in the petting zoo. Here's a little goat looking back at us.

And we saw scarecrows.......

And more scarecrows.........

We saw pumpkins. We saw lots and lots of pumpkins! These in the picture are really, really big. We also saw some teeny, tiny ones.

There was a train ride that we all went on. It was the highlight of the trip! It went all around the pumpkin farm, and we got to take a quick little tour of the whole place, from the comfort of our seats!

And we weren't the only ones with this great idea. There were lots of other kids that were able to visit the pumpkin farm. This is where everybody got to pick out their very own pumpkin. Believe me, there were tons to choose from. There was everything from little round ones, to tall skinny ones, and everything in between. There were orange ones, there were green ones, and there were lots that were a combination of the two.

All in all, we had a great time. We will help the kids carve the pumpkins in the next few weeks, and we'll make toasted pumpkin seeds from what they take out of the insides. There will probably be some pumpkin bread, or pumpkin cookies for snacks this month. Going to the pumpkin farm is the first all day field trip we take as a class. What a great way to start off the school year! I think we all will be looking forward to another trip next year.