Monday, January 31, 2011

Yesterday and Today

Here are some other things that I did yesterday. Here is a new McIntosh apple tree planted.
And here is the upper garden now in two tiers. You can't really tell from the picture but their are two tiers and this was a lot of work.

Today it is raining, of course, though my foot is in so much pain, I likely couldn't do much more today anyway. I did get a surprise when I went out to feed the animals. Apparently the ducks have decided to lay again! I believe the 70 degree weather we have had for the last two days encouraged them some.

My Homemade Brooder

Since I was posting about the chicks hatching, I thought I would post about the brooder. We made this brooder years ago (the photo is from an old, old article I did for someone else).
A small brooder is very simple to make. What you will need is an enclosed cat litter box. I found mine at a flea market for $5. Mine has ventilation slots in the top, which is perfect. You will also need a square piece of plexiglass large enough to cover the hole in the front (we had all these things here so didn't need to buy anything except the cat box and light), some small pieces of wood, two hinges, two metal eyelets some tape and a metal shop light.
Cut a hole in the top back of the litter box slightly smaller than the metal shop light so that when you set the shop light on top it won’t fall through. Take two small pieces of wood about 1 inch by 5 inches and put one on either side on the bottom part of the littler box below the opening. Screw them together through the litter box. Put another small piece of wood on the underside of the top part of the opening, screw this to the plastic. Now take your piece of plexiglass and cover three of the edges with tape. Drill small holes for the hinges on the bottom of the glass and then put the hinges on screwing them in to your bottom piece of wood. Drill a small hole in the outside top of the plexiglass and put an eyelet screw in there. Put another eyelet screw in the top of the litter box opening screwing it into the piece of wood you put underneath there. Now you may want to add some screws around the litter box to hold the two pieces together (or you could use small bolts.)
To keep the brooder closed just slide an elastic band over both eyelets. 
 I use a 60 watt bulb in the shop light to start with that keeps the brooder about 99 degrees. After a week or two I lift this light up with a few small blocks of wood on either side. After a few more weeks I may switch to a 40-watt bulb.
 This brooder can brood up to 25 quail and maybe 12 chicks for the first 3 or 4 weeks anyway. I have even had ducks in mine but only 3 at a time since they are quite messy and they didn't stay in there more than a couple weeks.

Chick Pics

No his brooder is not on a slant. I had a heck of a time chasing him around that brooder with the camera in one hand. I have lots of nice blurry chick pictures to show for it and this was the only clear one.
Here is a possible chick number two. I really hope so. I think the chicks do so much better when they are not alone.

I'll have more pictures later (when the sun comes up) of things I did yesterday that I couldn't get pictures of when my batteries died (and apparently my other pair is running a Wii controller, sigh).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pallet Compost Bin

For the first time my compost does not just sit in a pile out by the garden. It now has its own bin. This was probably one of the easiest projects we have done so far, because the pallets just have to be connected.
Some of the edges have to be cut down to the stud so that they can be nailed together.

Here is the finished product.
I have only got about half that compost shoveled back in but I can work on it at my own pace. The compost bin opens into the garden so that when I want to spread the compost it will be easy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Didn't Expect Any...

to hatch! I have had a few eggs in my incubator but it has really had trouble keeping the temperature because the temperature drops so badly in the house at night but just a few minutes ago I heard some peeping and looked in the incubator and there was the egg pipped (the one with the MF on it--these are a mille fleur/ Japanese cross that I was working with before the raccoon came.I was working on a mille fleur Japanese but the raccoon got most of the breeding stock).

This Weeks Thrift Store Find

Let me say right off that I love enamelware! And I don't have enough of it! However, the problem with finding enamelware is that it stains and once the enamel part chips, it rusts so finding a nice piece in the thrift store is pretty unusual. I do have a stockpot that is a beige colored enamelware that I use all the time. Anyway, today in the thrift store I saw this beautiful large milk bucket stuck under one of the tables. I snatched it up and looked at the price $5.49 so my first thought was that the inside must be very bad. Here is what I found when I opened it!
 I only found one other on the Internet and it is missing the lid. That site says that their milk bucket was found in a 200 year old house (I am not fooled. That doesn't make the milk bucket that old).
Anyway, I love the look of this bucket. Perhaps it will sit in the kitchen by my butter churn until I con Phil into getting that goat.

Rival Vaccuum Sealer

Yesterday I got this Rival vacuum sealer. I have never had a vacuum sealer before-at least not an electric one. I used to have a suction type pump thing that I could suck air out of zip lock bags and then quickly close them but times have changed and this is what a vacuum sealer is now.
It as you can see does vacuum seal everything in nice neat plastic packages but it does have a few drawbacks. For one, why do they put such tiny cords on these appliances? I have a very small counter and very few outlets. This things cord is only like a foot and a half long! I want a 10 ft cord on everything! I couldn't use it on the table, the counter is full so it got used on this little spot between the stove, sink and toaster.
Drawback number two would be that it is so noisy. As I said, I have never had one before so I just never realized they would make more noise than a  food processor (I'm going to get rid of my food processor. I hate the noise and have trouble assembling it EVERY time! I'm going to get a manual hand crank thing instead but that's another story.).
The last drawback that I could see was that it wastes so much plastic because you have to have 3 inches to go into the machine on the sealing end.
Other than those thing, it works great.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ginger Beer

I have never actually made ginger beer before but while wandering around the blogs I saw several references to it and looked up how to make it. I found two recipes, one made from the other and changed a bit, and, of course, I couldn't leave it alone and combined the two. Here is what I did:

Approximately a half cup of chopped up ginger
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

Put these in a pan just until they boil. Allow to cool. It has to be cool enough to not kill the yeast.

When cool I put my little strainer in my funnel and put both on top of a two liter bottle and strained the mixture into the bottle. Add 1/8 tsp. yeast and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar. Fill the bottle up with water until you are about 2 inches from the top.
Leave in a warm place and after several hours squeeze the bottle (about every 8 hours), it should be soft enough to squeeze if it is not (after a day or 2) open the cap to let off the pressure.

Now all I have to do is wait!

Here are the blogs where I got the recipes from:

Monday, January 24, 2011


I am not sure why I started this post.  I haven't planted anything else but I guess I just wanted to show off how well the seedlings are doing. These are mostly tomato and a few kale seedlings. I don't have anythings else sprouted but it does make my day to wake up and look up in the window and see these up there growing away. Spring is coming. Spring is coming.
Then when I come in with frozen fingers from having to go out and beat the hose to try to get the ice out so that I can get water to the animals and I look under the plastic at the raised bed and nothing has sprouted, I can still come in and look at my windowsil.
Spring is coming. Spring is coming.
The seedlings urge me to go on eBay and buy them more friends. I just put in an order for seed of pak choi, michihili, different colored carrots and Polish Linguisa tomatoes. I have no idea where I will put them BUT SPRING IS COMING AND FRANKLY I THINK IT NEEDS TO HURRY UP!

Ok, so I am stalling so I don't have to go out in the cold and feed the animals. We did catch a raccoon the other day so hopefully he is the one who killed all the chickens and he is now gone. I have reset the trap just in case. I hope you all have a great day and that your seedlings are popping up and growing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Planting the Raised Bed

It probably seems strange to most of you that I am planting in January but I am trying to actually get some cold weather crops to actually grow here BEFORE the heat comes. The problem is that the time between our last frost and our lovely 90 F weather is usually just a couple weeks, if we are lucky. So the idea this year is to plant early and see if I can actually get some cool weather vegetables. Plus I thought if I blogged about what I planted, I might actually know what it is later (I am a real bad record keeper.). 
There are 5 things that I planted in this bed today. All along the long side, in the front, near the fence I have planted Little Marvel Peas (I only had about a half a package left). I like these peas because they only grow 15-20 inches so I don't need a large fence for them to grow on. I mainly put those in here just to finish off the package from last year, if they grow , they grow; if they don't, they don't.
In the front of this picture (before the piece of wood) I have Champion radishes. I really can't tell you how good they'll be. I have never had any luck growing any root crops in my other gardens but the raised bed has only been planted in once before and has such lovely soil that maybe it will be good for root crops.
In the middle section of the bed are Parris Island Cos (Romaine) Lettuce. I have never grown it before either. Basically the picture on the package sold me this one. It looked yummy!
Down on the end before the onions is Teton Hybrid Spinach. I have only grown spinach once before in my garden and Phil loved it so much I wished I had planted more. So in a effort to fit more spinach into the gardens, this bed ended up with some.
On the end are the onions that I found in the produce section of one of our grocery stores. They were labeled Sweet Palmetto Onions and were being sold as green onions but they don't look like green onions to me and I wanted to plant them to see how they would do in the garden.

So the whole bed will be covered in plastic until our last frost really does arrive and hopefully I can get something to grow. I'll let you all know in future blog posts how everything grows or doesn't grow, as the case may be. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blog Carnival-Garden Plans

I have never done any of these blog carnivals and after looking at the others I am sure mine is going to be a bit of a disappointment. I don't have any pretty gardens. I mostly want vegetables although there is a neglected flower garden out front (which seems to do real well without my help at all) but then some hostas, and a rose bush all covered with 4 o'clocks and morning glories may not be your idea of a flower garden either but I do get lots of compliments on it, usually when it completely out of control in mid summer.
Anyway, the plans. First off once the snow finally melts, I plan to try to get my compost pile turned again and add in some more of that leaf pile beside it.

Hopefully I will have some decent compost to add to the gardens. Here is the largest which still has to broccoli and cabbage trying to grow in it. The snow has beat them down some. The bulk of the vegetables will go in this garden; the tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans--whatever I can fit in.
Here is the same raised bed in the first picture (take two years ago). This bed will probably have kale, lettuce and onions in it again since it did so well with those before. The new little fence around it is to keep the loose chickens and ducks out of the bed.

This is the "upper" garden because it is on a hill on one side of the house. I haven't planted in this garden for at least three years now but this year it is going to get planted again. I am thinking about making this garden into two tiers. One tier I want to have strawberries in but I am not sure what will go into the other tier yet.

Here is the newest garden addition. I know it looks kind of sad right now but I'm still working on it. It is where the washing machine drains out and I want to make use of that water. Here in Georgia a lot of my vegetables fail to produce mainly because of lack of water. I am going to remedy that somewhat in the big garden with the new rain barrel I put in. I have hoses running down to the big garden and raised bed but this bed will be watered by the washing machine drain. The plan is to dig a ditch closest to that skirting that Phil is going to fix (stop laughing..he is GOING to fix it!) and then wash water will water the whole length of this little bed. It gets a lot of sun and I am thinking of trying a few tomato and pepper plants in it as well.
Those are the gardens that are going to get planted this year. However I am really also hoping to try potatoes in buckets as well. I have never had any luck with potatoes in the garden. The soil here is just all red clay and the bucket potatoes can't do any worse than my other attempts to grow potatoes.

Here are some of the new babies and some of what will hopefully be new babies soon.

Those are all the plans I have so far. A lot more cleaning up, building, composting, rototilling and just plain work to do once we finally thaw out.

new year gardening resolutions

Visit New Year Gardening Resolutions Blog Carnival

at my little garden in japan

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow 2011

The first day

The second day

Nothing but ice up the hill on our dirt road
Nothing but ice down the road (the tracks were made the first day, nobody is making tracks on the ice covered snow today)

Phil walked out to the main road and it hasn't been plowed either. Nothing but tracks where tires go and snow and ice everywhere else. The amazing thing is that we only got 4 inches of snow and the only road that has been graded by the city is the one in front of Wal-mart. So you can go to Wal-mart if you live 500 ft. either side of it or if you have a 4 wheel drive other than that apparently our city workers are taking several days off as well. I imagine that will do our economy a world of good. We all have two days off out of our paychecks already. Supposed to freeze again tonight and no guarantee that we can get out tomorrow.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Juice, Corn and Rotisserie Fixing

Even though there appears to be a major (for Georgia anyway) winter storm moving in and we are as prepared as we are going to be, there still was the regular work to do today.
On the table in a box sat about 10 oranges (tangelos, tangerines, whatever) and they just weren't getting eaten. I needed to juice them. Here is my juicer--another good deal bought from the thrift store a few years ago.

It is really simple to use, peel the oranges, and put them in, the pulp stays in the top section and the juice ends up in the bottom. We had some nice sweet "oranges" and the juice turned out really nice; not tart like a store bought juice. Now I wish I had juiced them all when we first got them.
This weekend I also found more cranberries on sale. Not as good a sale as last time. This time they were $ .99 a bag but that is still a pretty good price. I bought 4 bags and this batch I just made into juice. Cranberry juice is simple. Put 6 cups of water in a pot per bag of cranberries, add your cleaned and picked over cranberries.
 Bring to a boil and boil until most of the berries have popped, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander with a layer of cheesecloth in it. Put the juice back in the pot and add 1 cup of sugar for each bag of cranberries you used. Heat until almost boiling. Allow to cool and refrigerate.

My other job today was corn. I had gotten a few ears of corn on sale as well and they needed to be blanched and frozen. You put the corn in a pot of boiling water and boil it for about 8 minutes.
Cool it in ice water or if you are lazy like me just run cold water on it, then bag it and put it in the freezer.

I also fixed my rotisserie today. It had stopped turning and frankly, I really missed it. I took it apart and found that grease had gotten down into the part that turned the thing. Well, this was around the time that the microwave broke and Phil had taken it apart to see if he could fix it, when he couldn't, he took it apart just to get the metal out of it (he saves metal to sell) and when he did he found that the microwave had the exact same turning part under the turn table part of it that had broken in the rotisserie. I put the part in the rotisserie today and so far it is working fine.
I also was able to buy some seeds today at Wal-mart. I am so pleased that they have their seeds out so early this year. I mostly bought some seeds that don't need to be started indoors but I did get some cubanelle pepper seeds that I started in a cut up egg carton bottom (8 spots planted). I used the black Styrofoam trays that came under the corn to put underneath them to catch any excess water. Here is a picture of the tomato, kale and pepper seeds I planted not too long ago. I am quite pleased with how fast they are coming up.
In other news, I finally got a duck egg today! My ducks haven't been laying for months now and it sure was a nice surprise to get an egg again, finally. I have the incubator plugged in and if it wasn't for the storm coming and the likelihood of losing power, I would be working on hatching ducklings, but I guess we'll wait a few days before filling the incubator.
So there's a pork roast in the rotisserie and a loaf of bread rising in the oven. Let the snow come, who knows, maybe we'll at least get tomorrow off!

Monday, January 3, 2011

What to do with 6 bags of cranberries...

So this week at one of our local grocery stores they had bags of cranberries marked down to $ .50, and me being me, I got 6 bags. Then I went scrambling around on the Internet trying to find out how to use them.
I started with these the next day; cranberry muffins. These were really good and I would make these again any time (if I ever have cranberries again).

Today was the big cranberry day though. Here are the things I made: cranberry waffles

These were really good as well and I will definitely be keeping this recipe.
Cranberry juice. This was pretty easy to make and if the cranberries are on sale again this week, I will get some just to make more juice.

Cranberry sauce--hopefully. Just waiting to see if it jells but I don't have much luck with that lately. I used my strainer that I bought at the flea market for the first time with this and it worked great!

Cranberry Oatmeal Bread. This is not something I would make again. It didn't rise which is probably my fault because I put extra cranberries in it. (I just didn't want to have to cook any more cranberry things!) but I really didn't like the taste either. One of the girls says she likes it so I hope she eats it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Throw Pillows

At the same yard sale that I bought the fabric and curtain for my tablecloth I also got this fabric with these beautiful bird panels on it. It has 8 or 9 panels on it and I got it for $ .25. I knew I wanted to make throw pillows out of it and have been keeping my eye out for a nice light brown fabric to make the back out of. This weekend I found that back material in the form of a nice light brown/tan pillowcase at the thrift store ($1.49). I also found a bag of fiberfill ( $ .99) at the thrift store and this perfect roll of fabric ribbon ( $ .49). I actually sewed 4 of these throw pillows; two for the couch and two for the love seat. Four pretty nice throw pillows $3.12 and a bit of work. Just can't beat it.