Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Winter, right?

We were all outdoors this weekend.  It was a balmy 60+ degrees and sunny so what better way to use a "Winter" day than to work outside?

I finally pruned most of the fruit trees, which is an agonizing task for me as I don't have the greenest of thumbs and it just drives me nuts to cut off a perfectly fine living branch.  But I managed through it, the entire time chanting to myself, "Pruning is necessary, pruning is good".

Rhiannon and I raked up the "really" wasted goat hay (as opposed to just wasted goat hay, which becomes animal bedding) and put it into the compost heap.  Those hay-snob goats drive me nuts.  All that perfectly good hay, spit out in spite and trampled on.  But I managed through it, the entire time chanting to myself, "This will make great compost, compost is good".  I do a lot of chanting around here.

I also cleaned out the raised beds in the front yard.  Yes, I know, it's the middle of winter and it should have been done in the fall.  But honestly, I think the covering of leaves did the cabbages a favor.  I still have most of them that weren't harvested in the fall.  I planted a late fall crop figuring what the heak, and although they didn't get to full maturity, if I picked them now I'd have tiny heads of cabbage.  I just can't believe they are still alive!

Some of them have frost damage to the outer leaves, but all in all, they are doing pretty well for the end of January.  I probably could have harvested larger heads had I got my sloth of a self into the shed and put the plastic tarp over the hoops.  And I still may cover them up  hoping for a little more growth since it's supposed to be in the 60's all this week.  Crazy warm winter we've been having.  But I guess it's about time; the past several winters have been pretty harsh.  Call it Global Warming or Climate Change or whatever you want, but if it means it's warmer in the winter and I get a longer growing season, be damned the ice caps!

So now that I've semi-cleaned up the cabbage patch (I hate saying "cabbage patch", visions of those gawd-awful-ugly 80's dolls always pop into my head....and yes, I had one) and have a clean and fluffy (yes, fluffy) second bed just screaming to be planted, I think I'm going to do it.  I'm going to plant something.

Paul threatened me if I did any planting, mumbling something about everything getting just about ready to harvest and a freeze will kill it all, but I don't care.  I'm going to plant some lettuce, and spinach seeds in the empty bed and cover the hoops with plastic.  I have several packages of unknown-dated lettuce and spinach seeds so if they make it, great, if not, no big loss.  And I will have somewhat satisfied my cravings for dirt in my fingernails and the smell of earth in my nostrils.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Oven Lovin!

Technically the recipe I’m going to share with you is neither very inventive, nor requires the use of an oven (as mine is still out of commission) but since I just made this taste-bud discovery I figured that maybe somebody else out there in the universe has also been missing out on this easy-peasy snack.

Oh, and did I mention that the recipe isn’t really a recipe per se, but a “little of this” and “a spoonful of that”?  Gawd, did I HATE those kind of recipes when I was younger!  But I guess as one gets older finds herself comfortable in the kitchen, the recipes are just like guidelines anyhow.  Right?  Right.

So here’s my recipe for the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Honey Dip.  Creative name, hugh?

½ Cup of Peanut Butter (I used store-bought creamy style)
½  Cup of Cream Cheese
1 ½ Tbsp. Honey
2 Tbsp. Milk

Actually, I’m just making an educated guess of the amounts I actually used.  But anyhow, I glopped everything into a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup (my favorite container of choice for whipping up small batches of stuff) and whipped it all together using an electric hand mixer until it was nice and fluffy.  

Half of it was devoured with two cut-up apples alongside our afternoon tea....

and the other half was put into a container for more tea-time dipping tomorrow.  Maybe with celery or carrots instead.

Got a recipe you'd like to share?  Head on over to Tiny Gardener's Saturday Oven Lovin' and share with the rest of us!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Life without a Harley

As some of you may know, we gave up Harley to another home several weeks ago.  I spoke with the new owner again last week and she's happy to say that he has adjusted well not only to being a "house" dog (he was a strictly outdoor dog with us and his previous owners), but also a "car" dog as she takes him just about everywhere with her.  No livestock to chase, no chickens to maul, just a wonderful new owner who will no doubt lavish him with more love and attention than we were able to provide.  She also told me that she did some checking on his AKC lineage and found out that he's related to her beloved German Shepherd which she lost three years ago!  How cool is that?!

The farm is starting to get back to the pre-Harley days.  I can once again put boots, gloves, flower pots and buckets on the front porch (he loved to drag ANYthing off the porch).  I won't have to worry about the kids (goats, not human) getting chased and mauled this kidding season.  And the chickens can safely scratch around the front yard.....

Another animal benefiting from his departure has been Moonshine.  She had taken to wandering just soon after we adopted him and we've had to keep her on a tie-out, but she hasn't left the property since he left.  I had thought that they were buddies as I'd see them play together, but maybe her wandering was just her feeble attempts at trying to get away from him.

But there are several farmish things that I will miss about not having Harley around, the most recent being the loss of one of the roosters to an opossum.  The deer are making their way back up to the yard and I've seen two rabbits just in the last few days and several of my fruit trees no longer have the wire cages around them.  The squirrels have also made their way back into the front yard (i.e. rifle-range).  And although he did contribute to the demise of probably a half-dozen chickens, I think he may have driven off the local raccoons, opossums and occasional bobcat because we haven't had any chickens taken by those critters while he was here.

So now I'm hoping that the local wildlife doesn't eat all the chickens and destroy my fruit trees.  Maybe Moonshine will keep them at bay.....
Or maybe not. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why you hiding, chicken?

Yesterday morning while checking on the rooster bachelor pen, I noticed that one of them was jammed into a corner.  I figured that the other four were picking on him and he crammed his head into the corner to protect it.  Upon closer inspection I found that he wasn't so much hiding as he had been relieved of his head and neck.

Obviously sometime during the night an opossum decided to have a snack and could only manage to grab the head of the unlucky (or ignorant?) rooster that refused to go into the hut at night like the others.  Either that, or he was lured out into the darkness by a sly-talking marsupial promising birdseed or impersonating a hen looking for love in the middle of the night (Paul's explanation, not mine).

As we'll never really know the exact story behind the beheading, I'm pretty certain that the culprit was in fact an opossum.  I'm assuming this because the next evening I had baited the live trap with the leg of the beheaded and I had a fat and f'n pissed unhappy opossum occupying the live trap the next morning.  

I was wondering when we'd start getting the late-night, chicken-eating predators back in the area.  Harley has been gone three weeks now and I figured the raccoon, opossum and bobcat brigade would eventually come wandering back once they realized there was no longer a threat.  (Oh, I also have a pretty neat Harley story for tomorrow!)

That same morning, the remaining freaked-out roosters were put into a crate and hauled off to their new homes; it was either that or into our freezer.  So now we are down to three juvenile roosters and one older rooster.  We have twenty-four or so hens so I think that there's enough chicken booty to go around that the roosters won't have to fight much.  I'll be keeping an eye out though; there may yet be chicken and dumplings on the menu.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rooster Choos'n

The chicken yard has been in quite an uproar since the "good" rooster was injured and put into the recovery pen.  There's nobody to keep the seven juvenile (and extremely horny) roosters in line.  They were really running the younger hens and two timid older hens ragged.  Most of the older hens won't put up with their shenanigans and give them a good what-for.  Hehe.  I said "Shenanigans".

Since I cleaned out the kidding pen in anticipation of Nettie's due date in three weeks, I've been having to hand deliver almost all of the nineteen juvenile chickens from the kidding pen to the chicken roosts each and every night.  It's getting pretty old.  That, and the fact that two of the roosters will try to peck my eyes out when I grab them doesn't make for a pleasant evening.  There are four multi-colored roosters and three Barred Rock looking roosters.  The colorful ones are the meanest.  Of course the flashiest of them is the pecker-head that will manage to give me a bite hard enough to draw blood.  He's the first rooster going into the stock pot.

In order to weed out which two roosters I was going to keep, I figured that I would let two of them run with the flock for a day or so to see how they treated the hens.  The others would have to be penned up.  So I finally got around to making a rooster bachelor pen.  Cleaned out the junk that had accumulated in the dog kennel / chicken tractor, put a little hut in there (bottom part of a junk find doghouse, flipped over) a cinder block and a perch, food and water bowls.  All was ready for the roosters.  Now I just had one more night of rooster wrangling to get them into their new abode.

When I went into the kidding pen to gather the birds, there were only four roosters in there and it didn't include the soup-pot rooster.  I managed to get them without
 them drawing blood much incident then went looking for the other three roosters.  The rogue three and several of the younger hens were already in the chicken coop......what good chickens!  Except one of those "good chickens" was the pecker-headed rooster.  I yanked him out and threw him placed him in the pen with the other four roosters.
And this morning has been relatively calm.   Of course there are still two roosters chasing hens around the yard, but it's not a chicken-gang-bang anymore.  The roosters in the bachelor pen seem pretty ticked.  I'd say I feel sorry for them, but I'd be lying.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Life without an Oven

While I was in the middle of cooking dinner on Saturday night, there was an intense flash and a zap-zapping noise that came out of the oven.  I winged my utensil across the kitchen and opened the oven door to find the heating element sparking and smoking.   Paul came running as soon as he heard my loud cussing cries for help and helped me extinguish the flame.

Luckily there was enough residual heat in the oven that I was able to finish baking my cheesy-onion biscuits and the stove top was not affected (effected?  I could never figure which one to use.) so I finished making supper with only a slight biscuit-hitch.  The meal was consumed, dishes washed & the evening went on as normal.

Sunday morning we called the local big box stores, but nobody carried oven heating elements and the smaller family-owned store was closed.  By Sunday afternoon, I was just dying to bake something!  We didn't need any bread as there was still a half loaf left as well as two in the freezer.  We definitely didn't need any cookies (gett'n a little too squishy along the midsection) and it's not like I had to bake a birthday cake or holiday pie or anything.  And even if we wanted potatoes with supper, they could go right in the microwave.  But just knowing that I couldn't use the oven was driving me bonkers.

The wood stove had been turned down as the weather was warm(ish) so I raked the coals around, put my old baking pan in the coals upside down to provide a potential baking platform and put the oven thermometer in there to check the temp.  It was a toasty 425 degrees.  Perfect for baking bread!

Except that I really, really didn't need to make any bread.  I guess if I let the stove cool off a little bit more I could get it down to "cookie-making" temps of 325 degrees.  But again, I didn't really need to be making any cookies.  

Last year I baked some cookies on top of the stove (using a upside down baking pan on top of them as a mini-oven) and a few loaves of bread and they turned out fine.  

So after all the fuss about just
having to bake something, I guess just knowing that I could bake in the wood stove if I wanted to was satisfaction enough.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Oven Lovin!

I had intended on featuring the recipe for these Cupcakes in this week's Oven Lovin:

But instead of the recipe, you're getting pictures:

Yes, the goats and chickens are eating the cupcakes.  Because they were just, well, horrible!  I got the recipe out of the older BH&G cookbook, but made two slight modifications.  I added cocoa powder and a little bit more oil to the recipe as well as adding about another 1/4 cup milk as the batter was like cement.  Not sure if that is what screwed it up, but the cupcakes were as dry as an Ozark summer and I couldn't even finish one of them.

Rhiannon, on the other hand, was pretty distraught to see her cupcakes given to the livestock and had to grab just one more before they were devoured by the critters.

Hopefully some of you have a recipe worthy of making it to Tiny Gardener's Saturday Oven Lovin!   I'm going to have to take a pass this weekend.  Unless you really want a recipe for Livestock Fodder Cupcakes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Everyone (Tiny GardenerCountry WifeGarden now - think later!NW Edible Life) seems to be posting about seeds and garden planning recently and it's driving me nuts.  Not that I dislike reading about the different seeds and seed companies you all use, but it's making me start to twitch.  I just gott'a plant SOMETHING!  But I also have to wait at least three more weeks to start the 12-week seed.

Last year I couldn't curtail my seed-planting fever and ended up starting them too early.  And more than half of my seedlings got too leggy and they didn't make it once planted outdoors in the garden.  What a waste of eight-plus weeks.  And then I ended up buying plants at the farmer's market and at the local nursery later in the season when everything was picked over or half-dead.  Face-palm-slap.

I have a lot of older seeds that I really need to use up, but I'm also drooling over the Baker Creek and Highmowing Seeds online catalogs.  I'm hoping to be able to start a permanent Herb Garden and get an area designated (i.e. beg Paul to scrape up another patch of ground) for my Gourd Garden.

Here's my wish list for the Herb / Tea Garden:
Lemon Balm
Bee Balm
Basil (several types)
Cilantro / Corriander

And the Gourd Garden:
Butternut Squash
Acorn Squash
Pumpkin (Pie & Carving)
Loofa (forgot the real name)

(As I'm typing this post, I can see two of the juvenile roosters going at it in the front yard.......really gott'a do something about them pretty soon)

Then there's the summer squash, the beans, peas, cabbage, lettuce,  zukes, spinach, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers..........UGH!

I just gott'a plant SOMETHING!  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rooster Pinata

Our nice rooster is still in the Recovery Room, but he's not doing very well.  I went in to give him a look-over to see how his back was (it has healed up nicely), but when I picked him up I was shocked at how light he was.

He's been eating and drinking, but now I've noticed he's got diarrhea.  And he's also limping worse than before.  His leg isn't broken so maybe it's dislocated in the hip area?  I don't understand; he was walking ok last week.   I'm going to keep him locked up and hope for the best.  I just hope that I don't make him suffer more than need be.

Other news on the rooster front here at the farm is that I think I've found a sure way to determine if a chicken is a rooster or hen.  Usually I can tell the difference around four weeks of age; they have slightly larger combs & wattles.  Then as they get older, their neck, tail and saddle feathers grow longer than the hen feathers.  They also have little bumps on their legs where their spurs will be.

But this year, I've had trouble figuring out if one of the more colorful chickens was a rooster or not.  S/he kind'a had little bumps on the legs, but the comb was short and the feathers weren't really long for a rooster.  Some of these chicks that I hatched came from a friend's farm and his chickens had rose combs and some of these chickens also had rose combs so I couldn't tell by the comb.

I was herding chickens yesterday and there was a young rooster trying to mount a young hen.  When they are this young they are very clumsy and really end up just tearing up the hen's backs and yanking head feathers in a feeble attempt to keep their balance and get the "job" done.  Needless to say, the roosters are not paying attention to anything other than their chosen hen and after watching one really work a hen over, I felt sorry for her and yanked him off.  Of course he was pretty surprised and vocal, flapping like crazy and trying to right himself up as I held him by the feet.

Yes, I'm getting to the point.

Obviously the chicken mounting the other chicken was a rooster.  But he wasn't the one I was questioning.  Anyways....

While I had said rooster in hand, and as he was flailing around squawking, the other roosters came running from across the yard just to attack him!  They were trying to kick and peck him even as I held him higher....they were like crazy-insane-roosters!

I launched the rooster and he scurried off, but was then able to defend himself so everyone went back to normal.  Just like that.

Weird.  And kind'a scary.
So I tried it again later in the day.  Yeah, yeah, call the Humane Society on me....I'm torturing poultry.  But I really wanted to see if it would happen again.  And it did.  Even with a different rooster being held upside down by it's feet.  They came from out of nowhere to attack.  But I saw what I was hoping to see; the chicken-in-question is a rooster as HE came running with the rest of the pack to get a whack in at the rooster pinata.

Do I have crazy-mean roosters?  Or do I have adolescent roosters just doing their teenage-rooster thing?

Regardless, I'm going to have to get rid of most of them.  Of the nineteen chicks that we hatched, seven of them are roosters.  And if our current Alpha rooster (well, used to be at least) doesn't survive, I'm going to have to chose one or two of them to replace him.  I want to continue hatching our own chicks, so a rooster or two is kind of a necessity.  There are twenty-five hens now so I figure two roosters is about right.

Paul has put the word out at his work and I think we have homes for at least two of them.  If the others don't find homes, they'll end up as a tasty soup.  I just have to do some rooster-watching and figure out which is the nicest of them.  Too bad we couldn't all just sit down and have a little chat and tell them if they don't treat the hens nice and if they don't respect the humans they'll end up plucked and in a pot with various root vegetables.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Coffee Filter Conumdrum

There is a drawback to stocking up on things.  Especially things that you swore you'd be using for the next thirty years, but find out that circumstances have changed and now you have:

Coffee filters everywhere!  Several years ago, we were introduced to the handy-dandiest little kitchen gadget:

Since then, we have no longer had to use a coffee pot or the coffee filters used in brewing.  So I now have a 4' stack of coffee filters sitting in the pantry.  That's what happens when your Dad has a restaurant and lets you come along to the restaurant supply store.  Now that stack is just taking up space, although a small stack may occasionally find their way into the living room for toddler entertainment.  I also use them to filter out stuff like chicken broth or a pot of tea that had a teabag tear apart while brewing.  But that's about it.  I've tried to use them for milk filters but for whatever reason they don't work as well as the "real" milk filters.

So I once again have to ask my loyal and frugal minded followers to do some brainstorming and help me think of what I can do with these things.

Toddler crafts?  New hair styling accessory?  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Oven Lovin - Or Pea Soup Facial

Winter has FINALLY come to The Ozarks.  Not that I'm partial to the wind, the freezing temperatures or having to constantly chip ice out of the water buckets, but it means that the wood stove will be cranked.

We've had some weird warm weather lately and the wood stove hasn't been chocked-full of wood yet.  It's going at night and through the morning, but during the middle of the day it becomes cool enough to touch. 

But since our daytime high temperatures were only in the low 30's mid-week I'd been keeping the stove a-blazing.  Perfect for making Pea Soup!

One of the great benefits of having a Christmas Ham.....
leftovers and bone for making Pea Soup!

8 cups water
2 cups split green peas (dry)
Ham bone (or leftover bits of ham)
Bay leaf (or two)
Onion, chopped
3 Celery stalks, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dried hot pepper flakes (optional....not for me though)

Toss everything into a pot and simmer over medium heat until the peas get mushy & the soup looks like, well, Pea Soup.  I had my pot on top of the wood stove for six hours, lid on for the first two & then took the lid off for the remainder of the time so some of the water would evaporate & the soup would thicken a little (I like my soups more stew-like).  If you were to make your soup on top of a stove, I'm sure it wouldn't take quite as long.  I'm sure this would also work well in a crock pot.

It was very difficult to avoid passing by the pot without dipping out "just a little" soup into a cup.  And I would have just sat there with my face hovering above the pot, inhaling the heavenly aromas of pea-soup-steam had the front of my thighs not been burning from the heat coming off the stove.

Have a recipe you'd like to share with the blogosphere?  Then head over to Tiny Gardener's blog and submit yours to her "Oven Lovin" on Saturdays.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Five Weeks

Nettie is due to kid in just five weeks.  And the "little" chickens are still roosting in the kidding pen!

Well, it's my fault that they are still roosting in there as I've never trained them to go into the "Big Girl" coop yet.  We haven't had a light in the goat / chicken barn since last kidding season so the new chickens have had no incentive to move into the bigger coop.

I've been meaning to buy one of those solar panel kits from Harbor Freight, but haven't yet.  Maybe later today.  Right now, if I want light in the chicken coop / goat shed I have to run a loooooonnnng extension cord from the garage, across the driveway, through the garden, up a pole to "above-goat-chewing" height and then into the shed.  Either way, I'm going to have to get light in there for the impending kidding as well as to get the chickens out of the kidding pen so it can be used for kiddings!

Winter has finally reared it's ugly head.  Yesterday was really cold (ok, not really, really cold, but I like to complain) and windy and I was outside at least four times to skim ice off the water buckets.  This was after chipping chunks out of the buckets first thing in the morning.  The goats have free choice hay all day and get grain at night, but I also gave them alfalfa pellets mid-morning hoping it would help them keep warm.

The rooster seems to be doing a bit better.  When I was out there this morning to fill up his water dish and fed him a mash of warm milk and chicken feed, he came right up to the feed bowl and chowed down.  I haven't put a hen in with him yet, but think I will tonight if I remember to grab one when I'm closing everybody up for the night.

PS - I'm still having trouble with commenting; I can comment on your blogs, but not my own.  Anyone got a fix they'd like to share?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rooster Recovery Room

The rooster that Harley attacked has been in the smaller kidding pen in the barn since I found him the Saturday before last.
It's nice to have an empty stall for "incidents" like these.

Not-so-Plucky Rooster

He has a pretty big patch of missing feathers & torn up skin, but no huge gashes or giant open wounds that I could see.  I guess he could have some internal wounds, but heak if I know how to diagnose that.  I've been feeding him chicken feed soaked in milk and water with electrolytes, but haven't really done anything else for him. 

He's been pretty mopey and doesn't move around much and I've just noticed that he hasn't been crowing.  And I'd even venture to say that he's depressed.  But he's eating, drinking & poop'n so I guess that's a good sign. 

Normally, I wouldn't give much thought into what to do with an injured rooster (lop his head off, pluck 'em & toss him in the stew pot), but this guy is actually a nice rooster.  Which doesn't happen around here often.

I guess I could have given him some antibiotics to ward off any infections, but honestly didn't know what kind to get, how to administer them or even how much to give.  If he doesn't perk up in the next few days, I think I may have to give him some.  Guess I'm going to have to do some online research on chicken antibiotics.  Honestly, I don't have much chicken EMT knowledge.  Most chicken deaths around here happen by predation (hawks, bobcats, coyotes....or Harley), unknown causes (I find them just keeled over in the yard) or I've occasionally had to put a .22 in their skull if they were horribly suffering from some malady.

Anybody out there in the blogosphere have any ideas as to what I can do for the poor guy? 

Besides chopping up some celery, carrots and putting him into a big pot with a bay leaf or two?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fridge Experiments

I hate cleaning the fridge.  Not only because it takes like forever, but it reminds me how much food we waste.  The chickens, however, love fridge-cleaning day.

In order to reduce the wasted food (well, it's really not "wasted" per se as the chickens eat it), I've been more diligent in implementing "Leftover Night" for supper when there's a plethora of containers scattered in the fridge.

We had a Leftovers Dinner this weekend and while shuffling and picking containers to compile enough foodstuff for that evening I found a jar of yogurt:

It looks like yogurt, smells like yogurt, but I wasn't expecting it to.  Because this is what the lid said:

Yup.  Yogurt from July of 2010.  As in six months ago.

But the strange thing about it was that if I didn't have the little date sticker on the lid, and had I not said to myself, "Myself, I don't remember making yogurt in like, months", I would have probably eaten it.  It didn't smell sour, didn't have any funky stuff on top or anything. 

I wasn't feeling that adventurous, so I put it in the chicken scrap bucket.  And no chickens have died either.

I'm tempted to do a yogurt experiment when I'm flush with milk again.  As in make my homemade yogurt with goat milk, seal it up in a small canning jar & date it.  Then buy a single-serve container of plain yogurt at the store & keep them both in the back of the fridge for several months to see how they compare.  I'll keep you posted when / if I remember to do my experiment.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Oven Lovin!

Here's my contribution to Tiny Gardener's Saturday Oven Lovin.

It's not going to be anything specail at all.  But it's something that I think some of you may enjoy, especially if you're a French Fry Freak.

First of all, let me confess that I LOVE McDonald's french fries.  Yes, they are bad for me, full of fat and salt and all that other stuff.  It's not like I'm in the drive-through every week, awaiting my fix and swearing at the dozen plus cars in front of me (that guy still has a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker on his SUV???), but given the chance and in a moment of weakness I'll pop in and get the 99-cent bag-o-adulturated-potatoes.  So this is definitely not a "Just as Good (bad) as McDonald's" french fries, but it's good enough.....and better for ya.

First, take your potato and wash it up.  Then slice it into french-fry sized pieces.  Space the fries evenly on a baking sheet and pop into a 425 degree oven for 12 - 15 minutes, checking to see if they are cooked to your liking starting around 12 minutes.  Sprinkle salt over them and enjoy. 

Personally, I like using the red potatoes for the oven fries best, but any 'tater will do.  Even sweet potatoes!
Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Now, you could deep fry those suckers in your FryDaddy instead of baking them in the oven.  But we'll all pretend that we're going to be healthier this year and avoid those fatty foods.  Right?  Riiiiiight.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Canned Chicken ('n Dumplings)

After figuring out that canning meats is NOT rocket science, I decided to defrost the store-bought, on-sale chicken breasts and can them:

I partially cooked the venison I canned last month so I did something different and used the raw pack method with the chicken.  I just cut the defrosted breasts into bite-sized pieces, jammed them into hot (warmed up in the oven) pint jars and poured boiling water over them.  Lids, bands, into the pressure canner for 75 minutes at 11 lbs. pressure.  Easy Peasy!

A few days ago I decided that it was time to try out my home-canned chicken.  Because not only did I want to see how it went, but I didn't have anything defrosted for dinner.

I whipped up a batch of dumplings and served them and their accompanying gravy over the warmed up chunks of home-canned chicken:

Now that I look at the picture, that big ol' dumpling & gravy
doesn't look too appetizing.....but is sure did TASTE great!

Not quite an "instant" dinner, but it did save me from having to cook any meat for the meal.

Dumplings & Gravy recipe for Chicken 'n Dumplings:

2 Cups Flour
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt

3 Tbsp. Veggie Oil
3/4 - 1 Cup Milk
1 Egg

Mix above together in large bowl until gooey (and they will be gooey!), set aside.

In a large pot, add six cups of water and five chicken bullion cubes and bring to boil, making sure cubes are completely dissolved.  Drop dumplings by the spoonfull into the boiling broth, then turn heat down to medium, cover and let cook for approximately 15 minutes.  Check around 10 minutes to make sure the dumplings haven't sucked up all the gravy and aren't sticking to the bottom. 

Serve dumplings and gravy over chicken (leftover, canned, or just-plucked & cooked).  Or just eat the dumplings & gravy......not that I've ever done that.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wood Working

Each day the circumference of stick-free ground increases around the house.  And by the end of woodburning season, there won't be a stick, branch, twig or other piece of kindling within walking distance. 

There are enough trees on our property to provide kindling and firewood for a long, long time, even after we've cleared adequate pasture for Ms. Melman, Nugget & the goats.

With the clearing of pasture comes the unfortunate destruction of trees.  But it also gives us a lot of potential firewood.  I say potential, because not all of it makes it to the wood pile.  There is just not enough time (and Paul's energy) to take advantage of all that wood.  I know it drives Paul crazy to set a big pile of brush aflame when there is still fuel suitable for heating our home, but we'll never get the pasture cleared if we pick every single log out of the pile.

So up it goes:
One of the many burn piles set aflame this year.
But he's also managed to get a big stack of logs for future wood burning:

So we can all keep toasty warm in the winter:
You smell something cook'n?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rhiannon's Room, Part 2

Rhiannon's room has been painted for a few weeks now and I'm really liking the wall color and even the white painted trim!  The pictures of course, don't do the almost-lime-green wall color justice, but let's just say it's brighter in person. 

I bought some hot-pink material at the store and made simple curtains and added tie-backs with a few strips of bright green trim, put up a mirror behind the door (at toddler-height) and painted the bottom half of a small wall section with chalkboard paint.

My Mom & I have been having a blast decorating the room.  And she just so happened to be in the "big city" last week and couldn't resist buying more accessories:

Aren't those the CUTEST stinking owls you've ever seen?!
Peel & stick instant artwork!
There are still a few things to do though.  I need to frame out the chalkboard, make some sort of chalk & eraser holder, add a few pictures, make a wall-mounted headboard and maybe even add some white crown moulding.  There's also a little rocking chair that I'd like to repaint in some funky colors.

This has been soooo much fun!  Thanks for the inspiration and help, Grandma!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sad / Happy Day

Those of you who may have been following my blog for a while may remember the day We got a Harley.

Then we had the "incident" with the goat kids (all my fault, BTW).

Later there was the conversation with the neighbors when we found out that Harley had more than likely killed one of their Polish Crested roosters.  And the mysterious deaths of two of Christine's Silkies earlier this summer.

And some not-expected venison on the dinner plate.

We haven't had a single chicken "incident" in a few months and Harley has been sticking around the house like a good dog. 

Until earlier this week.  Another dead hen and the rooster was missing for a day.  I found the rooster, pretty chewed up & missing tail feathers, but alive.  The rooster is now recooperating in the small kidding pen; I think he'll make it.

I've been putting it off for too long and I guess this really was the last straw.  Kidding season is just around the corner and I cannot have him chewing on any more livestock.  I called a local large dog sanctuary, the Humane Society and put an ad in the local paper.  And today I met Harely's new owner.

She's on five acres in the country, down a dirt road away from any busy streets, and has no livestock for Harley to chase / chew on.  She has a beagle mutt (just like Moonshine!) and no children at home.  She lost her German Shepherd of 14 years a few years ago and hasn't been able to look for another companion until recently.  And she saw my ad in the paper and called me.

Harley, I'm going to miss you.  And I'm sorry that we couldn't provide an adequate home for you.  But I truly hope that you will love your new owner and home.....even more than you did us.

PS - as I don't like to end on a "bummer" note, I'd like to mention the funny/ironic tidbit that I just yesterday bought a 50 pound bag of dog food.  Of course.  At least I won't have to buy dog food for Moonshine.....for like a year.  Ugh.

'Nother Rant

So, this is what happens when I look at the news online.  I get all in a huff. 

Not sure if you've seen the headlines, but some Iraq war vet came back, shot at some people at a party, went on the run, then shot & killed a Ranger while she was trying to stop his vehicle inside a Washington National Park.

So what happens when any crime involving a firearm happens?  People start blaming the inatimate object for the crime.  Not the person.  Not the circumstances that may have lead to this horrible crime (he was said to have post-traumatic stress disorder).  It's all about the gun.  Can you hear the wardrums drumming "More laws, more restrictions, more laws, more restrictions....boom, boom, boom". 

I'm waiting for another news clip to say "Ranger killed by a Midnight-Special Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle with Night Sights, High Capacity Clip and Expresso Attachment".  Because you know that gun just got up and started shooting by itself. 

And this is what some dim-wit had to say about it:

"The many congressmen and senators that voted for the legislation that allowed loaded weapons to be brought into the parks ought to be feeling pretty bad right now," Wade said.

Wade called Sunday's fatal shooting a tragedy that could have been prevented.  (Bill Wade, the outgoing chair of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.)

Uhm, so Wade actually thinks that this guy would have stopped his vehicle, disposed of his weapon, THEN continued into the National Park because if there WERE a law that outlawed firearms in National Parks (by us "normal" people, not the "special" people like Rangers or Police) he would have adhered to that law?

Really?  Really??

Yes, Wade, this could have been prevented.  Say, if this man didn't go through hell in a warzone in Iraq and come home mentally scarred.  Say, if this man was willing to get help or go through consuling.  Say, if he made a half-dozen other choices in his life, this may have been prevented.

But do NOT say, or even insinuate that having a law that prevents firearms in any particular area prevents shootings.  It only prevents the law-abiding, gun carrying citizens from protecting themselves or those they care for.  There are laws preventing the posession of firearms in courtrooms.  How many stories have you read where there is a shooting in a courtroom?  Too many, unfortunately. 

A man brutally shot and killed at least one person, and I hope he pays for his crimes, here and in the afterlife.  But it was a man who commited this crime, not the weapon.

Rant done.  And to show you how scatter-brained I really am, you'll have to compare this blog post to tomorrow's Girly-Girl photo shoot of the progress in Rhiannon's Room!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Logistics of Hay, Part 2

This is how I've been hauling the daily rations of goat hay:

We've long since gone through the last round bale that was kept here at the house under tarps so I've been having to haul hay from Ms. Melman's barn every day.  It's really not that much of a chore as Paul or I are up by Ms. Melman and Nugget twice a day, but it is making the back of my car a total mess. 

But until we get some sort of hay shelter or a lean-to or barn or shop or whatever structure down by the house, I will continue hauling hay to the goats via the hatchback or bed of the dually.

I've seen a blog post a while back (somewhere, lost in the blogosphere) about making temporary shelters using cattle panels as the sides, t-posts to hold them up, then a cattle panel "hooped" over the top and covered with tarp.  Kind'a looked like a quonset hut.  I think that may be in our immediate (or as immediate as things happen around here) future since we're going to have to get several more bales of hay before spring.

It's finally starting to feel like winter around here; only supposed to have a high of 43 today and tomorrow.  The only think good about that is that the wood stove will be cranked up and I'll be making.......Pea Soup!

Got to go find that ham bone from Christmas now; it's already been buried in the depts of the freezer.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Chocolate New Year!

Happy New Year! 

Yeah, yeah, Happynewyear, blah blah blah.....get on with it.  Tell us what we came here to find out; who won the Chocolates!

I apologize in advance to the winner if you have made "Eat less and exercise more" a part of your 2012 Resolution. Just hop on the treadmill for another hour. Or twelve.

First you all have to suffer through several pictures of the Official Name Picker.

Picking names is such a draining experience, so we'd better eat a 1/2 lb. of bacon before starting:

Then we must ground ourself, take a deep breath, and meditate on the basket of folded papers:

And finally, pick a winner:

Tina at Our Rustic Roots is the winner!

Shoot me an email at carolynrenee at centurytel dot net with your mailing address and I'll get the chocolates sent out to you.

For everyone else that entered, I still wish you a Happy and Healthy 2012!  Just try to curb your jealousy and restrain yourself from writing nasty comments on Tina's blog! :)

PS- Just wanted you to know that I did go back to my original chocolate post & enter those that didn't make comments on the "official" post.