Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why wasn't I informed about this?!

Bruce Jenner is seen wearing nail polish.  House of Cards actress dies.

Why are THESE things popping up in my "News" section (who is Jenner and what is House of Cards anyhow??) but there's not a single mention of it being NATIONAL CAT DAY ?!?

Had I known earlier and I would have made catnip cookies or something.

So here's a toast to all you cat lovers out there (and all you closet cat lovers) and your feline companions; those who have left pawprints on our hearts, those that have moved on to their next kitty adventure, and to those bundles of fur still with us, shedding hair onto our supper plates and purring their way into our lives.

And trust me, you've GOT to watch THIS cat commercial.  I've watched it fifteen times already and it just doesn't get old.

Have a Meow-meow-meow evening!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Big Five-O-O

Yesterday I finished the tenth bag of chicken feed for the Creepy Meats.

Let's do the math, shall we?  Ten, fifty-pound bags.  Five hundred pounds of chicken feed.  Thirty-two chickens.  That's over fifteen and a half pounds of feed per chicken.  And today I have to run out to the feed store to buy a couple more bags.

They were eight weeks old this past weekend, but we didn't butcher any of them.  In theory, eight weeks is the target date to get those poopy poultry processed and into the freezer.  But they weren't filling out as nicely as I had hoped.  I put some of the smaller chickens into a seperate pen outside hoping that they'd put on more weight since they wouldn't have to compete with the rest of their heavier penmates.  The rest of the group is still in the barn.  Which is a total pain in the butt as I have to clean out the pen twice a day because of all the poop.

I didn't mean for them to be in the barn so long.  Normally we'll brood them for a couple of weeks in the barn then put them outside in the chicken tractor or the dog kennel.  But this year I just didn't get around to it.  The chicken tractor needs some minor repairs and the dog kennel is in a spot where I wouldn't be able to easily move it around.  So the Creepy Meats stayed in the pen.  And in hindsight, I would have saved tons time by fixing the chicken tractor or moving the kennel as it takes me at least a half hour each day to clean out the bedding in their pen.

I have a plan though.  I just have to get around to it now.  We'll see.

Speaking of five hundred, did you know that Small Farm Girl celebrated her 500th post yesterday?  Go over and say "Hello" and congratulate her on the blogging milestone.  Also, did you know that she's writing for a magazine?  If you want to check out her first article, here it is:

Congrats SFG!  Let's get working on another 500!  Well, you, not me.  No way I'm hauling another quarter-ton of chicken feed to the Creepy Meats.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Deconstructing the Strawberry Bed

I finally got back into the garden where we had the yellow jacket "incident" and was ripping out weeds.  In the midst of my weed-ripping, I took a good, hard look at the strawberry bed and decided that since there were more strawberries OUTside of the bed that I would just rip them all out and transplant them someplace else.  Of course, it wasn't as easy as I thought.  I kept finding more strawberry plants and what I thought would take just a little bit ended up taking two hours....then Paul and Rhiannon brought me a tea.  An iced tea.  Because it was 85 degrees out.  So I quit weeding for the day.

There is a big plastic tote filled with the plants as well as a smaller tub.  Except now I'm not quite sure when to plant them.  Heck, I don't even have the slightest idea where I'm going to plant them.  Do I plant them now or do I somehow overwinter them in a bucket of sand or something and then plant them in the spring?  I guess I have some internet research to do.

Paul made the mistake of suggesting that we plant them in elevated boxes and I thought that was a great idea....except we don't have any elevated boxes.  Which means we (we, meaning Paul) would have to build them.  And there's already a ton of things on the To Do list.  Mom gave me a garbage bag filled with asparagus plants that I still have to find a place for and the four mulberry trees that I managed to bring back from the dead still need holes dug and planted.  The jalapeno peppers need to be picked (although not by me; I refuse to even touch those intestinal demons), the tomato jungle is still putting out green tomatoes (future green tomato & onion relish) and the herb garden needs to be weeded & whacked back, I need to pick the last of the basil and dry it and have to harvest the dried okra pods for seed.

I thought that gardening season was over, but it seems that it's just begun.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I was pitching the last of a round bale of hay to the goats this afternoon and got nailed by something on my neck.  I smack at whatever offending insect bit me and look to where my hay fork was just yanking hay from and see, you guessed it......a swarm of hornets coming out of the ground.

I mean, REALLY?!?  Two separate hornet nests in two consecutive days?!  You've got to be freaking kidding me.  The sting on my armpit is still swollen and now I get stung on the neck.  You know, because the Universe apparently hates me right now.

I threw the hay fork across the yard, ran inside (all the while swearing at the hornets and my gawdawful knack for finding stinging insect nests) and once again stripped to make sure there weren't any stowaways in my clothing, and told Paul that I refused to go outside until the ground froze solid.

Unfortunately, I had to eventually venture back out to feed everyone supper so my vow to stay indoors until February was broken.  And on the way out, I passed the garden where yesterday's nest was unearthed.  Paul and I went out last night to try to eradicate the nest under cover of darkness with a dousing of gasoline.  Did you know that yellow jackets post sentries at the entrance to the nest at night?  You know, in case someone wants to come and screw with them after dark.  Like with flashlights.  Which they are most definitely immediately drawn to.  Ask me how I know this.

Anyways, the gasoline dousing didn't get the entire yellow jacket population of the garden hive as I still saw a dozen or so buzzing in and around the nest.  The only consolation I have is that they must be really busy cleaning up the bodies of their dead brothers & sisters and have to live with the smell of gasoline in their underground home.  

So what is it with all the wasps around here?  Are there really that many nests in the wild that we find them every stinking time we turn over a rock or a log or a bale of hay?  Paul turned up two yellow jacket nests just earlier this summer and I knocked a bald faced hornet nest off the deck that same day.  And after my encounter this afternoon, Paul asked me if the yellow jackets built nests in trees.  Because, yep, there is another nest in a dead limb in the big oak tree next to the goat pen.  It's like we've got a big ol' "Welcome Hornets - Free Continental Breakfast" sign in the yard.

I don't give two shits if wasps (yellow jackets, ground hornets, whatever) are supposed to be "good" for the ecosystem by eating lots of other insects.  Besides, some of those insects that they eat are beneficial insects.  So I say screw 'em.  Later tonight we're going to go back out and pour more gasoline over the garden nest and do the same with the new nest in the hay.  Until at last, I will throw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside.

The nest in the tree is going to have to wait though.  It's in a tree that was marked for cutting down anyhow, but time hasn't allowed for it to be done yet.  At least we know the nest is there.  Imagine the "surprise" Paul would have gotten when he felled it and an angry swarm of hornets came at him.  And if we don't get to it before winter, the entire colony (except for the queen, damn her) will freeze to death anyhow.  Although it's not as personally satisfying as knowing I destroyed the bastards myself.  Yes, I am evil.  But I can live with that.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weeding, interrupted

I finally made my way into the garden this afternoon.  It was a cool 70 degree day (relative, MamaPea, it's all relative) and overcast.  Perfect for weeding the horribly overgrown strawberry beds.

I don't know what happened, but my strawberry bed looks like it was doused with napalm.  Almost every plant inside the bed was crispy and dead.  There were, however, survivors that managed to make their way outside of the bed during the year.  I left the travelling berry plants where they were hoping that I'd get to transfer them to another bed thus doubling our strawberry yield.  But it seems that those plants I destined for a new bed are going to be going right back where they were running from.

At some point during my weed-ripping (and tossing them to the very grateful goats), Paul took pity on me and came into the jungle garden to help me out.  Just like last year, I let my lamb's quarters go bonkers and they had taken over a section of the garden.  Paul decided to tackle the 6' tall plants (I refuse to call them weeds, they are too yummy to be called a weed) but before he could do that he had to drag out a tarp that had been sitting in there for, say, the past four months.

While I was bent over (grunting, sweating and probably swearing) trying to yank out the gawdforsaken prickly sida, I swore I heard a low humming sound.  I stopped my weed-ripping and tried to focus on the noise.  Hmmm.  Maybe the distant sound of a helicopter.  I continued weeding and Paul continued yanking on the tarp.  I heard the humming again, and again I stopped to listen.  I asked Paul if he heard that.  And as I stood and looked up, I found out that the humming was actually buzzing.  Paul had pulled the waterproof roof off the entrance to a yellow jacket's nest and there was a gathering cloud of the effers coming out from the ground.  I glanced towards Paul on my sprint out of the garden and he was still standing there, tarp in hand, just staring at the menacing mass of stinging insects like a deer mesmerized by the headlights of a Mack truck.  Fly, you fool!

He finally snapped out of it and ran out of the garden behind me.  I was swatting and swearing and trying to smash the stinging shits off my body.  When we made it to the relative safety of the porch, we realize that we both had some inside our shirts / pants.  So we stripped faster than a couple of horny teenagers and threw our clothing off the porch.  Paul didn't sustain any damage, but I got stung three times, once in the armpit.  Which still hurts like the dickens, even now nine hours after the initial sting.

So if you're wondering if I went back in there to finish my weeding, I most certainly did not.  And I'm still trying to convince Paul to go out there tonight and douse the dickens out of the nest with some diesel until every last one of those buggers are dead.

Paul's Take
In response to my wife's recollection of this afternoon's events involving the yellow jackets: An undisclosed amount of fermented malted barley beverages may have slowed my reaction time down just a little bit, although this delayed response may have been to my advantage as the hornets did not perceive my slower exit out of the area as much of a threat and instead went to attack the woman running and screaming obscenities.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Her First Concert

Yesterday afternoon, Rhiannon and I were in a whirlwind.  We hastily finished evening barn chores (almost two hours early, to the delight of the goats), bathed, put on some fancy clothes (i.e. those not covered in bits of hay and dried chicken poop), a spritz of perfume and took off for town.

Rhiannon's never been to a concert, so she was pretty excited.  Heck, I was pretty excited.  It's not often we meet Paul for supper in town and then go to a concert.  The main parking lot was full so we had to hoof it a bit.  Which was fine as the weather was beautiful and I'm telling myself that the exertion burned off some of the cheeseburger I scarfed down just a half hour earlier.

I got extra exercise as well since I had to leave Paul and Rhiannon in the main lobby in order to run back to the car to retrieve the tickets.  Which I purposely placed on the dashboard so that I wouldn't forget them.  At least I didn't leave them at home; I would have hated for Rhiannon to be late for her first concert:

Just kidding.  Although, can you imagine Paul at a boy band concert?

Me neither.

But seriously, we did take Rhiannon to her first concert last night, but it was much better (and probably much classier) than Beiber.  Well, I'm assuming it was better....I've honestly never heard a single note from that Justin kid.  I'm sure we're not missing anything.

The local college auditorium occasionally hosts musical groups or bands, but this was the first I heard of a piano and violin recital.  When I found out about it, I jumped on the phone and ordered tickets.  Very reasonably priced at $10 for adults and $5 for students.
Tatiana Roitman Mann in blue (Pianist),
Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu (Violinist/Violist) in pink.
We were treated to close to an hour & a half of beautiful classical music and the womens' performance was spectacular.  We heard pieces from Beethoven, Dvorak, Debussy, Stravinsky and Brahms.  I didn't want it to end.  But as they say, all good things must come to an end.  Who the hell said that anyhow?  Like, really?  Do good things really have to end?  Why doesn't it go, "All bad things must come to an end"?   Seems more fitting if you asked me.  Which you didn't.

So even though we live in what seems like the middle of nowhere, we do have some culture in this little hick town.  Just make sure you knock the dried-up chicken poop off your boots and put on a shirt that doesn't smell like buck pee on your way off the ol' homestead.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fungi Munchie - Coral Mushrooms

My Ag teacher friend and I went to a goat parasite seminar last week.  Since it wasn't really a kid-friendly thing, we figured it was safe enough to let the husbands watch Rhiannon while we were away viewing a Power Point presentation on goat poop.

Before the goat seminar (which pretty much sucked), we had supper at their house which included beef stew, rolls and fried mushrooms.  But not any ol' mushroom.  Wild Coral mushrooms!

Aaron (Ag teacher's husband) has this uncanny knack for finding mushrooms.  Like, he'll be driving down the road at 50 mph and spy a patch of morels growing in the ditch.  A recent find included two huge zippy bags filled with these babies:

Some of which he drenched in a seasoned flour mixture and fried up for supper, and some of which came home with us.  I've already sauteed a bunch of them in butter (and ate all by myself) and there are still a few left that have to be cooked today or they'll end up in the compost pile.  Maybe atop a grilled venison burger......Mmmmmm.  

It's too bad that I don't have an "expert" mushroom person around here.  Although we don't seem to have any morel or coral mushrooms on our place, we do have an overabundance of what I think are honey mushrooms.  Unfortunately, they have a poisonous look-alike; Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms.  And the fact that these mushrooms are causing a lot of our oak trees to die is another bummer.  So we have mushrooms...but none that we want.  

I'm going to take Rhiannon for a little hike later on and see if we can find any edible munchies out in the woods.  And I might even take the rifle with in case we go from searching for herbivore munchies to stumbling upon some carnivore munchies.