Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dark & Dreary Days Giveaway

Several of my blogging buddies have seemed to go through a non-blogging-funky-feeling-dreary kind of phase.  Not that I blame them.  These cold (hey, it's cold enough here for me....besides, it's all relative) and gray days do tend to make one a little depressed.

So in a feeble attempt to slap some silliness into my little blogging universe, I'd like to host a giveaway.  And not just any giveaway, but one that includes something educational and something yummy.

The "Educational" part of the Giveaway.
I have up for cyber-grabs two volumes of Mother Earth News on CD; The Second 10 Years 1980-1990 and The Third 10 Years 1990 - 2000.  I thought I had the first CD, but alas, it's been lost to the depths of my basement (and if I ever find it, I'll mail it to you, I promise!).  The date of manufacture says 2005, so I'm leaving it up to you to decide if it will work on your computer (I've copied the system requirements blurb just below).

For those of you who still have all the original M.E.N. magazines stuffed into cardboard boxes somewhere in your basement or garage, this is the perfect excuse to recycle those puppies!  Now you can have the digital version from 1980-2000 and not have to worry about moving the two-tons of boxes every time you move or clean out the basement.

Oh yeah.  And a huge honk'n bar of chocolate comes with it:
Cat in picture to show relative size of the huge honk'n chocolate bar.
Cat not included.  
So enter for the CD's and the chocolate.  Or just the chocolate and give the CD's to somebody else.  Or eat the chocolate bar while perusing through two decades of Mother Earth News on your computer.  Whatever floats your boat.

So, what does one have to do to enter this giveaway?  Well, in order to get our minds into warmer and greener happy-thoughts, tell me how many seed catalogs you've received already and which are your favorite seed companies.  Or, if you're not of the gardening persuasion, tell me how much you love cats (and if you don't love cats, just lie to me).  Post your entry in the comment section.

Ok, now for the Fine Print Stuff (FPS).  Being almost totally computer-illiterate, I have no idea what it means, but here's what the back of the CD's have this to say about System Requirements:

This CD is designed to run on PC and MAC platforms.  You will need one of the following setups to run the CD:

With an IBM-compatible computer; Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition or newer, with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5 or newer, or Netscape 7 or newer.  You will need Java Virtual Machine version 1.3 (free download from or newer browser plug-in with Java enabled on your browser and computer.

With an Apple computer: Mac OS X with Netscape X7.1 (available free from and Java (available free from

For Mac OS 9.2.2, this CD must be run in Netscape 7.0.2 with Apple MRJ 2.2.5 (Both available free from

A CD-ROM drive (auto-start should be enabled)

FPS for Hershey's Symphony, otherwise known as the "chocolate bar":

The winner of the Krazo Acres giveaway dated December 30th of 2012, shall indemnify and hold harmless Carolyn Renee, owner of Krazo Acres, her husband, daughter and any livestock (except the pecker-headed rooster) from and against all claims of weight gain, additional cellulite, acne or acts of violence from others laying claim to said chocolate bar.  I understand that this chocolate bar contains 950 calories (or two hours worth of speed walking on the treadmill) and take full responsibility for consumption of those calories, regardless of promises to exercise more or skip one or more meals in order to justify the extra intake of calories resulting from stuffing chocolate bar into my maw.

And, finally, FPS for the Giveaway itself:

Contest open to US and Canadian residents only.  Prize will be shipped via USPS whenever I get my bum to the post office.  If the postal employee at the counter or your local mail carrier figures out it's a chocolate bar and eats it, I will not be held responsible.  Same goes for family members or pets/livestock.

Entries must be made on the comment form of this post.  One entry per person.

Contest ends at 11:59 pm (or around there) on Sunday, January 6, 2013, and winner's name will be randomly drawn from a vessel containing the cyber-identities of entrants (all your names thrown into a bowl from my kitchen cupboard and picked out by my daughter) on or about "Morning Time" on Monday the 7th, or whenever daughter wakes up and feels like participating. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Drinking the Weeds - Plantain & Mullein

I've done several posts in the past about Eating The Weeds, so I figured my next series should be "Drinking" them.

Rhiannon had been sick over Thanksgiving week but still hasn't totally gotten over the the stuffy nose or occasional coughing at night.  Nothing horrible, but annoying for her and maddening for me (try getting a three year old to blow her nose).

I did some reading up on natural expectorants and found that I had two of the plants growing right outside my door; plantain and mullein.  It's really not the best time for gathering wild plants.  Even though we still do have greenery, most of the good bits have been nibbled away by the deer, wild birds or our chickens.  Even though I thought we had plenty of plantain, when I went out yesterday to gather some for tea I had a doozy of a time getting enough for just a pot of tea.  Mullein, on the other hand, we have plenty of.  Apparently nobody likes to eat mullein and the cold weather doesn't seem to bother them much.

Mullein on top, plantain below.
I brushed / washed off my small harvest and set a pot of water to boil.  Steeped the herbs in the pot, then strained the tea through a milk filter into a teapot.  Make sure you filter tea made with mullein as the tiny hairs can be an irritant to your throat.  

Paul, Rhiannon and I had the tea sweetened with honey. (And a cookie.  You can't have tea-time without a biscuit or cookie!)  As we've never had this tea before, of course I was a bit skeptical as to how well it would work, but within about fifteen minutes or less, my sinuses loosened up.  Then I asked Paul if he was feeling anything and he said that when he laid down for a moment, his nose was starting to run a bit.  So at least I know it wasn't just my imagination.

Rhiannon had two more half-cups of tea that afternoon / evening.  And last night she was definitely less stuffy and didn't wake up from coughing at all!  Part of me still wants to just say that she just eventually got over her stuffiness, but I can't help but thinking the tea had something to do with it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Barnkitty, version 2.0

There's been a black stray cat frequenting our homestead for about six months now.  And of course, as soon as I noticed him hanging around I started feeding him.  I just couldn't help it; the poor bugger was eating the chicken scratch that was left over in the bowls after the chickens were put up for the night.  How hungry would a cat have to be before it eats chicken scratch?!

I started putting out dry cat food by the chicken food at night and calling "Meow-meow-meow-kitty" like any good crazy-cat-lady would and eventually he would come trotting up for his supper.  My plan was to get him nearer and nearer the barn so he would take up residence there.  I've been having a horrible time keeping the mice population under control and thought a real barn cat would prove to be most beneficial.

One night about a month ago, I went out to close up the goats/chickens and feed Outdoor Kitty and he came hobbling up, meowing piteously.  Sometime during the last 24 hours he apparently hurt his front right leg and was now having to walk on three legs.  Man, I wanted to sob.  As I still couldn't get more than five feet from him, all I could do was look for any flesh wounds or obvious signs of broken bones, but didn't see anything, not even a patch of missing fur.  The next three nights I put out a live trap and a can of stinky cat food in the trap.  I figured eventually he wouldn't be able to resist the smelly/fishy can or get hungry enough and venture into the trap.  He never went for it, so I finally gave in and just put food out for him.  I was hoping to get him to the vet not only have his leg looked after but get him neutered and rabies shots administered.  But that never happened.  His leg / foot finally seemed to heal and he's getting around on all fours now with just a slight limp when he puts weight on the front paw.

The past several weeks I've been getting his food dish closer & closer to the barn.  This would have been worlds easier if Nettie didn't hate Outdoor Kitty.  She stomps her front feet and charges him if he comes into the goat pen.  He still goes in there, but has to give Nettie a wide berth.  Once he's underneath the barn he's fine and spends quite a lot of time under there.  For a week now I've been feeding him while Nettie is busy munching on fresh hay or is locked in the milk stand eating grain so was able to put his food in the barn and he'll come up and eat.  Oh.  And I've been putting fresh-from-the-goat milk in his dish, so now he meows whenever I go near the milk parlor, hoping he'll get a dish of warm milk.

I've been moving his dish from the front barn doors, to the front of the kidding pen door, to inside the kidding pen with the door half open.  Then three days ago, I put his food dish farther in the pen and closed the door behind him.  He wasn't happy, but at least he wasn't batshitcrazy like the last feral barnkitty I attempted to lock in the barn.  He tried to climb out, but I had days before secured all escape routes with chicken wire or boards.  I also put a litter box in there and a box with some old towels in the corner for him to sleep in.  He's been in there since then and I've been spending some time in the pen with him, just trying to reassure him that I'm really a nice person (even though I've basically locked him up in a 6' x 10' box).  He cowers into his box when I come in to feed him and meows that pathetic mooowwrrrrr for a bit, but then just sits and glares at me with those pumpkin-orange eyes.  I'm hoping he'll eventually come around and let me pet him.

My ultimate goal is to get him comfortable and friendly enough that I'll be able to open a small door for him to come and go as he pleases.  I'll keep his bed, litter box and food in the barn hoping he'll find those accommodations more pleasant than sleeping outside, especially given the cold winter temperatures.  And all I ask is that he snags a mouse or two while he's in the barn.

Who would have thought that getting a barn cat would be so difficult.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rebirth of the Sun....and Rebirth of a Cookie!

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice.  For you non-pagans or those of you not quite in tune with the astrological significance, it basically means that the earth is at the point in it's orbit around the sun that the amount of sunlight will be steadily increasing every day!

I know it's hard to celebrate the return of the light when we're just getting into the coldest part of the year, but I'll take whatever extra daylight hours I can get.  And yesterday I was supposed to celebrate the Solstice and supposed TEOTWAWKI by baking cookies.
I just LOVE grumpycat!!
And I got busy.  So didn't make them until this morning.  Sue me.

So instead of just showing you my cookies, I will now start a long and drawn out story about those cookies:

Long, long ago (1985 perhaps??) in a galaxy far, far away (Cook County, IL) there was a musical called Jesus Christ Superstar.  A few of the grades in our smallish school took a field trip to see said musical.  For whatever reason, the school did not use a bus to cart all the kids to the theater, but used parents as both chaperons and means of transporting the kids.  My Dad was one of those lucky chaperons so he crammed as many kids that would fit into his early 80's yellow yacht of a Cadillac and off we went.

I vaguely remember the musical.  What I do remember is this:

Right next door.....right STINKING NEXT DOOR to the theater was the Maurice Lenell outlet.  Not only that, but the outlet just so happened to have an actual bakery in it!!

So Dad, being my Dad and rather lackadaisical spur-of-the-moment at times, decided that instead of going right back to school we should take a little walk across the parking lot and he'd treat us to some cookies.  Although now that I think about it, he probably just wanted to buy some cheap broken cookies for himself and had no choice to but to drag his juvenile charges with him.

Anyways....somehow during our time perusing the boxes and crates and pallets of discount cookies, one of the employees took pity on my Dad and offered to give us all a little tour of the place.  We got to see the pinwheel cookies on the conveyor belts & everything!!  What fun!  Sorry Jesus Superstar, but your musical was trumped by the mass production of a cookie.

Dad finally got us back to school, probably an hour after everyone ELSE had.  And I'm pretty sure I recall Dad being ragged out by one of the Sisters or the Principal.  I'm also pretty sure Dad just shrugged them off.  And people wonder where I get my anti-establishment, anti-authority streak.

What the heck does all this have to do with cookies, let alone Resurrected Cookies?  Well, the Maurice Lenell store closed it's doors in 2008.  And I almost cried when I found out.  Technically, you can still buy the cookies, although they are made by another company that just bought the name and recipes.  I haven't had any of the "new" cookies.  So now, dear cookie lovers, I present to you my favorite......The Pinwheel:
Cookies for breakfast!
Although they tasted good, they didn't have the exact flavor I remember.  But I suppose we'll just have to buckle down and suffer through these :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cookies of Doom!!

As many of you may already know, tomorrow is supposed to be the End of The World (dun, dun, dun, DUNNNNNN!!!!)

Well, that's what some people claim the Mayan calender says.  Others think that it's just a time of spiritual transformation for humans or some sort of change in the Earth (mass extinctions, plague of locusts, Democrats believing in personal responsibility).

Me?  I just think it's the Winter Solstice.  But who am I to pass up an opportunity to bake some cookies?  Cookies?  Apocalypse?  Hugh?  How does all this add up (as if any of my posts actually make much sense).

Lamb over at Frippery Farm had a grand idea.  Basically, that we should all give TEOTWAWKI a big middle finger salute and bake come cookies!!  Click HERE to see her post.

So tomorrow, instead of cowering in my bunker and sitting on pallets of MRE's, I'll be celebrating The End (or the beginning??  think about that for a while) by making some cookies.

Come & join us, won't you?

It's time to update your wardrobe....

....when your teapot is better dressed than you are:

I received this teapot cozy from a dear friend.  Aren't those the most beautiful colors?  And although I at first wondered about the actual functionality of the cozy, I was convinced that it was both form and function as when I went to grasp the handle, it was hot!  Normally the handle is just lukewarm, so the cozy obviously is doing it's job.

Feeling a bit grubby and lazy in my sweatpants and probably-should-be-made-into-rags sweatshirt, I decided to put on a pair of jeans without poop or mud on a nice pair of jeans and a newer fuzzy sweater.

Since I live on a farm, I tend to neglect my appearance and wardrobe.  The only two humans that see me on a daily basis are Rhiannon and Paul.  Rhiannon thinks just putting her pants on in the morning is more than adequate and unless I'm wearing a SpongeBob or dinosaur shirt she could care less what I wore.  And Paul is away from the house ten hours of the day so what's the point of getting spiffied up?  Even though I may not be leaving the homestead, I should really make sure I'm not dressing like one of those Wal-Mart crazies.  On more than one occasion I've been surprised by either the delivery man or a "turn-around" while outside tending to the my pajamas or sweatpants/shirt and lacking a certain upper body support system.

So I think that one of my New Year's Resolutions will be to be more presentable.  It's not like I have to go out and buy clothes, I just have to take a few minutes and dig through my closet.  Hopefully I'll be able to fit in those old pants.

If you're having trouble fitting into your "skinny pants", consider coming over to Twinkies and Treadmills.  There are already several of us over there providing encouragement and entertainment, so if you'd like to join us, just let me know!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Animal Meet n' Greet

I'm always tickled when I see pictures of all your animals (especially the kitties!!) so I'm at a loss as to why I don't post more pictures of my critters.  So for your viewing pleasure, I'd like to introduce you to our "house" animals....

Here is Evil Kitty, pretending to be evil:

The more sophisticated Susan:

Old lady kitty Crackers:

Moonshine the Wonder Mutt:

And our newest addition, the Laziest Puppy Ever, Charlie:

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!  I'll try to get the livestock in a photogenic mood tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

More Fast Food

Rhiannon loves hamburgers.  L.O.V.E.S. them.  Ask her what she wants to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner/supper and she'll say "hamgerber" or chicken.

I am not so high and mighty of a healthy-food-freak that I haven't done my share of feasting at the local burger joint.  But seven-dollar burgers at the sit-down restaurant in town or even the crappy dollar menu burgers at the fast food joint just aren't going to happen all that often.

I had a weak moment at the grocery store last week and bought a package of pre-formed, frozen hamburger patties.  Normally I like to make our own using local burger, but I'm always forgetting to take it out of the freezer to defrost and this time there was NO time for defrosting.  I had a hungry kidd'o at home and she wanted burgers!

So I cooked up all twelve burgers, fed the hamburger-craving toddler and then individually wrapped the remaining cooked patties and stuck them in the freezer.  The last time I baked homemade buns I had extra so put them in the freezer.

Now when Rhiannon wants a hamburger it takes me less than five minutes to pull out the frozen burgers & rolls, pop them in the microwave, assemble as directed by toddler, then place it in front of her gaping maw:

So far I've been successful with the burgers, pancakes and kid-sized pizzas.  I'm always looking for freezer-fast-food ideas for Rhiannon.  Anyone have any good ones they'd like to share?

Friday, December 14, 2012

On the 14th Day of Christmas....

My True Love gave to me...
Fourteen Bales of Hay!!

I don't know if I've been too generous with the hay lately or if the bales were lighter or smaller, but what I though was going to be just enough to get us through to Spring's first cutting was beginning to look not quite adequate.

Round bales of a bermuda mix are going for $60 a bale here.  So when Paul mentioned that a guy at work found a place that was selling good looking rounds for $30, I asked him to make the trip.  He had to take the day off work and the drive & loading took him the entire day as it was a 370 mile round trip.  Add approximately $100 in fuel costs and the bales ended up costing less than $38 each.

We're now set for hay until next summer, maybe even fall!

Unless I get a cow.

Paul got a puppy, I don't see why I shouldn't get a cow.

Update:  Speaking of cows, you've GOT to watch this video clip over at The Stockpot!!!  Just make sure you don't have to go to the bathroom or are drinking coffee / tea.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Three R's

No, not the academic R's, but the ecological R's.

Reduce.  Reuse.  Recycle.

We all know it.  A lot of us practice it.  But I have a confession to make.  Although I do try to reduce what items we buy, and reuse those items.....I am a complete failure at recycling.  (Admittedly, I'm still afraid that Susan will un-friend me after reading this.)

With the exception of aluminum cans, we don't recycle tin, glass or plastic.  Not because I don't want to, but because there aren't a lot of recycling options available to us here.  A new company popped up about a year ago that would come get your recyclables for you, but you had to pay for it in addition to our weekly garbage pick-up.  So that wasn't going to happen.

There is a scrap yard just out of town and they will take steel cans along with the aluminum, but the place is so messy that Paul refuses to take any of our vehicles in there as to avoid coming home with a flat tire.  There is also a county-run recycling center, but they weren't taking steel cans nor glass.  Basically all they took was plastic bottles and paper products.

But recently, there have been two significant changes in our waste disposal routine: The recycling center now takes tin and glass and our regular garbage company has gone out of business.  When I called around to the other waste disposal companies to continue our trash service, the price had doubled from what we were paying.  This was the perfect opportunity to start our "mandatory" recycling program here at home!

I've designated four garbage cans for recyclables; plastic, glass, steel and aluminum.  Paper/cardboard will be kept here (hopefully in neat bundles) until we do some burning brush or leaf burning.  We already have two kitchen scrap bins; one for composting, one for the chickens.  So now, the only thing that should be going into the trash bag is miscellaneous plastic wrapping and packaging.  In the last two weeks, we have generated two garbage bags (13 gallon, I think) of non-recyclable trash.  Now we have to decide what we're going to do with that.  We live in the country so burn barrels are a common sight around here and I suppose we could burn the garbage, although I'm not really fond of all that black smoke & air pollutants.  But I do often wonder which is worse for the ecology; burning the trash or burying the trash?  I'm still undecided on that.  But for now we'll just put those bags in a larger, secure trash bin and take it out to the local dump and pay per haul.

Oh wait.  Do I hear some scratch-scratch-scratching in the background?  Yeah.  I have cats.  And I have not yet trained them to use the toilet (although I really am enthralled with the idea of teaching them that trick).  So now I've got a 5-gallon plastic bucket with a snapping lid that I'm putting the litter into.  Paul is going to use the tractor to dig me a hole down in the back forty and I'll just dump the litter there and cover it up.

Whew!  I'm glad that's off my chest!  We're now on our way to a more sustainable, earth-friendly, pocket-book friendly means of disposing of our trash.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pea Killer and Ice Chipper

After seeing that something ate half my pea plants, chomped down on the beet tops and pulled most of the teeny-tiny carrots out of the soil, I decided to say flip-it and didn't bother covering up the raised beds.  It got down to the twenties on Sunday night and sixteen degrees last night, so there were no survivors. Not that there was much in there, but I was hoping to get something edible out of that bed.

I'm wondering if I should bother trying to grow something in the hoop houses again.  The weather has been pretty wonky lately.  There were several close-to-80 degree days last week which made me want to start tilling up soil and tossing in seeds, but then the forecast plummeted down to well-below-freezing and I knew that the thin sheet of plastic covering my raised beds wouldn't be able to protect the new seedlings.

I also had to scoop ice crystals out of the water buckets yesterday morning for the first time.  And this morning I had to actually chop a 1" thick layer of ice out and haul hot water to the goats & chickens.  I hate The Days of Ice Chipping.  I'm contemplating putting a heated water bucket outside.....but that means I'd have to find it first.  I broke down and bought one last winter and of course, the temperature never really got down low enough for ice to accumulate in the water buckets more than a half-dozen times.  And for whatever reason, the goats were insistent on continually dumping the stupid bucket over.  That and the fact that they like to play with the cord doesn't bode well for the heated bucket this year.   Ungrateful buggers.

Since the wood stove is going to be cranked all day today (only supposed to get to 44 today), I may as well start thinking about supper.  Maybe some soup or stew or chili.  Hmmmm......decisions, decisions.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Three weeks ago

Paul:  So, you ready for another puppy?
Me:  No.

Two & a half weeks ago 

Paul:  How'd you like to have another puppy?
Me:  No.

Two weeks ago

Paul:  There's a guy with English Mastiff puppies at work.
Me:  No.

One week ago

Paul:  You know, Aaron at work got a puppy from this guy from the last litter.
Me:  Don't care.

Several days ago

Paul:  Do you want to see the puppies?  We can go right after work.
Me:  Ugh.  Ok.

A couple of days ago

Paul:  The guy sold the last puppy so we won't be going over there.
Me:  Good.

Friday afternoon

Paul:  The person that was supposed to buy the puppy wrote a bad check, so he's available again.
Me:  Heavy sighing.

Friday night:

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Dog with Two Mommies

Wallace still visits us every so often and he's been looking pretty fine.  His coat is much smoother and fuller and he has put on a few needed pounds.  (You can read about Wallace here and here.)

He had come to visit Thursday night.  It was such a nice night out I left Moonshine outside with him and they cozied up to each other on the front porch.  He was still here on Friday morning and he followed me around while I did barn chores.  Although I haven't seen him actually attack a chicken, if one of them just so happens to run in front of him, he'll give chase and I have to yell at him.  He also freaks the goats out, although I really don't fear for their lives as I think Nettie would give him a good what-for.

But it still concerns me that he's more than happy to chase the chicken.  I've also befriended an outdoor cat and I'm a bit concerned for him as I'm sure Wallace would be more than happy to chase him down.  And having the goats get freaked out every time he comes by isn't very good either.

So I finally got the number of the rabies tag he had on and the Vet's office that did the shots.  I called the office and explained that I needed to get a hold of the owner of Wallace.  I explained that although he was a very, very nice dog, he was starting to take a liking to our livestock.  I also threw in that a responsible pet owner shouldn't let their animal roam free at will, which seems to be the case as he visits us quite often.  They wouldn't give me the owner's name (which I suppose I don't blame them) but confirmed they knew the animal and would get a hold of the owner asap.

About a half hour later I got a call from the owner.  She said that she lived about two miles down the road and would come get him as soon as she could get out of town (where she was when she got the call from the vet's office).  I told her no hurry, that he'd probably still be here, lounging on the porch.
When she got here, Wallace was happy to see her and jumped right into her SUV.  She was very apologetic, said that they adopted Gunner (their name for him) in July, but that he still got out of the fence and would roam.  We swapped phone numbers and I got directions to her home so I could take Wallace/Gunner home if she wasn't able to get here before I needed him gone.  

I knew the house she was talking about.  Just so happens it's the home of one of the Veterinarians with a practice in town.  (No wonder the receptionist didn't want to give out the name of the owner; I just complained about irresponsible dog owners and it turns out it was their boss's dog!!)  Wallace was brought to their office in July by the Sheriff's department because he had wandered into the local Wal-Mart.  Not the parking lot, but IN the Wal-Mart.  So the vet's wife finally adopted him, had him fixed and cleaned up and brought to their house.

I'm glad to finally know Wallace's, I mean, Gunner's story.  And I'm sure we'll be seeing him again.  But the next time he comes for a visit, he'll be greeted not only by Moonshine, but by this little guy:

To be continued.......

(How's that for a cliffhanger?)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I don't get it

Ok, I've heard that people have been selling Twinkies on ebay for insane amounts of money, but I've not actually checked up on it.  Because, well, I've got better things to do online that check the current "spot" price for silver, er, I mean, Twinkies.

Then just a few minutes ago, I saw a listing for Zingers on one of the local yard sale pages online. With an expiration date of 12/8/12.  For fifteen bucks.  For one box.  Now I'm curious to see what Twinkies are going for.  Is the scientific community buying them to be kept in a cryo-freezer in order to keep the Twinkie & Zinger DNA intact for all of humanity?  Are people just trying to get their last fix of crappy Hostess products?  Or is it like the Beanie Baby rage of years gone by?

And to think I could have stocked up on sub-par, commercially & mass-produced baked goods, then sold them to some dippy person on ebay for fifteen bucks a box (plus shipping, of course).  I could have made a million dollars had I been more savvy to these Globally Important trends!

Am I missing something here?

No.  Really.  What the hell am I missing?

Maybe I'm just too out of it.  Or maybe I just don't care what's going on out in "The World".  Just last night I asked Paul exactly what this "Fiscal Cliff" was.  He told me to forget about it.  That it was just more political BS and that the country was still going to hell in a hand basket whether or not I knew about this cliff thing or not.

But you know what I DO care about?  Our family.  Our homestead.  Our finances.  And right now, the main thing I'm concerned about keeping up to date on is the flipping critter(s) that have almost totally destroyed the carrots, beets & peas in my raised beds last night.  Once I find out what creature did it, I'm going to bludgeon it to death with a frozen Twinkie, hike it down to the hill and toss it's lifeless carcass off our little Cliff.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Time of Diminishing Returns

Aaahhhhhh, the fond memories of our first batch of chickens.  And our first eggs.

Then our second and third batches (thanks to the bobcats, coyotes and hawks) of store-bought chicks.  Then our own foray into backyard chicken egg incubating.  Lots of eggs and lots of rooster soup.

But at one point (about a week ago, actually) something occurred to me.  I've been shoveling out the chicken feed at an alarming rate.  And the chicken-scrap bucket on the kitchen counter, which used to provide a nice portion of the chicken-food rations, was no longer sufficient to keep the chickens happy.  Because as soon as I dumped the scrap bucket into their bowl, I felt like that woman trapped in the phone booth in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds"............or kind'a like this:

There are no fewer than thirty-seven chickens at Krazo Acres.  Twenty laying-age hens, four roosters and thirteen (or so) younger homegrown chicks of not-yet-determined sex.  And I'm only getting four or five eggs a day.

I know that the egg laying slows down during the winter months and I also have a handful of hens molting now, not to mention the younger birds.  But there's just something not right with having that many chickens and getting less than a half-dozen eggs a day.

But in a few months when the younger hens start laying and the older hens up their production I'll probably be complaining about having too many eggs.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Watering dirt and dead things

Even though it's no longer suicidal squirrel weather, we're technically still in a drought.  So once a week I've been lugging the garden hose out to the fruit trees.

I'm sure that I've mentioned before that my most un-favorite gardening chore is watering.  I prefer weeding to watering.  So you can imagine my lack of enthusiasm at having to water a bunch of "dead"  (i.e. leafless) fruit trees.

Since I had the mile and a half of hose out anyhow, I figured I may as well water the dirt.  Yes, there are dormant tulip, lily and iris bulbs underneath that dirt, but the more primitive part of my brain still can't get over why I'm wasting time watering dirt.  I then walked over to the garden to water a bunch of chicken and goat crap; the compost heap.

I did end my hose-dragging trip across the county by watering the carrots/peas/beets in the raised hoop house bed though.
By the looks of the weeds, you'd think that weeding, not watering,
was my least favorite gardening chore.
At least I got to water something green and alive.  I keep meaning to rip out the freeze-killed tomato plants in the other raised bed and plant something, but I haven't got around to that yet; it looks pathetic.  The plastic cover on the other bed has kept the vegetable plants from freezing, but they've only had to deal with a handful of days in the low 30's or upper 20's at night and they are still looking well.  The past few days have been in the upper 60's and today and tomorrow we're supposed to be flirting with 75 degrees so I'm taking the plastic off and letting them get some fresh air.

Question for my gardening friends:  I know that the root crops and lettuce don't need a pollinator to yield, but what about my peas?  I didn't even think of it until I started covering them up at night.  They are doing pretty well, but there are no flowers on them.  And even if there were flowers on them, there isn't much of anything buzzing around now to pollinate them.  Will they even bother growing flowers?  And if they do, will I have to hand-pollinate them to get peas?