Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Cicadas Are Driving Me Crazy but the Honeysuckle is so Nice!

It is obviously our 17th year. Cicadas hatch every 17 (or 13 depending on the type of cicadas but I believe we have the ones that hatch every 17 years since I have never know a year like this) years. The larvae live underground and eat roots until they hatch. This year there is a huge amount of cicadas hatching and they make this really loud whirring noise. It sounds like your neighbor is using power tools NON-STOP! My daughter says she likes it because when she walks to the lake it sounds like she is in a jungle. I just really can't stand it. It has been going now for about a week. I tried to get pictures of the adults with wings, I have been seeing them all week, but, of course, when I went to take pictures today there weren't any anywhere.
When the cicada larvae emerge from the ground
they shed and turn into cicadas with wings.

Here is what they leave all over our trees, houses, fences, even Phil's van tires have cicada shells stuck to it. Some of the trees are just loaded with them!

But really, I can deal with the dead bug skins everywhere, it is the sound the live ones are making that is driving me crazy.
What isn't making me crazy is the honeysuckle. I have to drive Phil to my brother's house every morning so they can ride in together to work and then I pick him up after I finish work at 7:00 p.m. The honeysuckle is in bloom now and every evening the whole drive that is ALL we can smell. It is growing on every fence and woods from here to there, I swear. It is incredibly invasive down here as is wisteria but has such a lovely smell! This picture is from some that is growing on my garden fence.

When I moved in here (I really don't know how long it has been--something like 8 or 9 years ago) there wasn't any honeysuckle in that part of the yard but where there is something to grow on (like a stupid fence to keep cats from using the garden as a  litter box) there will be honeysuckle here. We are just lucky to have it although when I am weeding its vines out of the garden, I am not quite as appreciative of it as I am right now when it is in bloom.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm not Procrastinating, I'm not Procrastinating, I'm NOT Procrastinating!

I don't know. Do you think it will work? If I keep telling myself this will I actually not procrastinate? My meat birds need to be killed this weekend (not all of them just 7, which doesn't seem like a lot until you have done one by yourself). If I do it Saturday my son will be home and I hate to do it while my son is home. It is just not what he wants to see on his second day home from the Army in a long time.  So that means I have do do it on Sunday. I am not kidding myself, I probably won't get all 7 of them done in one morning (keep in mind I do them myself, have no plucker and have to do them before the heat sets in because the flies set in as well and trust me when the flies set in, you are through).  But the thought of doing them on MOTHER'S DAY next weekend just seems WRONG! Isn't that supposed to be my easy day? Yet I know I am being ridiculous, it is just another day and they will be about 8 weeks and can't wait many more weeks. I really need to at least get started this weekend. I wish I could be like my parents and just force my children into helping, lol,  but this is my way of life, not theirs.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Devastation in the South

First let me say that my heart and prayers go out to all those people who lost loved ones, houses or whole towns last night in the horrible storms that hit the South.
For those who haven't heard 160 tornadoes hit the South last night, 178 dead and that number is still climbing. Some of the tornadoes were a mile wide. One went 73 miles across Alabama and Georgia. Tuscaloosa, Alabama has some devastation as far as the eye can see. Some emergency crews were forced to leave the dead so that they could focus on getting the living out. No structure was safe from these storms. It is just a terribly sad and scary here. We have never, EVER had so much severe weather here. Every storm system seems to be carrying tornadoes with it this year. We were very lucky here in Thomson, GA again and did not get any tornadoes in our immediate area. We had thunderstorms but nothing real severe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pine Needle Basket Part 2

Another hour or so worth of work and we have gone from this:

 To this:

By now I am adding six more needles about every other set of stitches. I can tell just by feel if I need more needles or not. It is important to keep the needles (I think of them as straws) wet/damp and the thread tight. It isn't going to be perfect. I am not looking to make a work of art here just a usable basket but I do admit that I love the look of these and am pleased that I can make them out of pine straw which is free and so plentiful here.

Canned Turkey

There is still some turkey left so I canned a few jars of it to save it for other meals and so it won't sit in the frig and go to waste. Pretty simple task, I just cut it up in chunks, put it in the jars, added a little salt, filled them with boiling water, used a knife to get out the air bubbles, added the lids and pressure canned for an hour.
Now we have eaten off the turkey (some for breakfast, lunch and dinner) for two days and here are three more meals of casserole or soup sitting in these jars plus there is still a leg, wing and some thigh meat left in the frig. 5+++ meals from one turkey is not bad---plus all the stock. It was not a really huge turkey something like 12-15 lbs I think.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Since we had turkey for Easter yesterday, I had to make stock today. I had taken all the meat off the bones yesterday and just wrapped it back up in the foil that had been over the turkey to save until today.

Doesn't that look yummy? Ok so may-be not.
I always use my pressure cooker when making stock because it is much faster and doesn't use nearly as much propane as simmering the stock for hours.
The bones, onion, carrots and a little sage go in the pressure cooker (no celery; Phil hates it) and it is all pressure cooked for 25 minutes.

Afterwards I strain out the veggies but save any little pieces of meat and leave them in the stock (Oh, I save the veggies and they go in the soup bag in the freezer as well). I put it in jars and either freeze it or can it for 25 minutes in the pressure canner.
This batch yielded 5 quarts of stock.

Here are also a few Easter pictures. My grandson and my son and his wife.

He has been a serious car lover for the past year. He really doesn't care about any of his other toys anymore.

Ok, the picture of my son and his wife won't load. Took me two tries to get the one of Christian to load so I guess I'll have to try again later. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Today is a Lounging Day?

Well sort of...I am lounging right now anyway :)  But this morning there were things to do. We had to go shopping but it wasn't a lot since we didn't have very much money this week.  Then when I got home I knew I had to take care of the animals and then came in and saw the sauerkraut sitting on the table and it has been there at least 6 weeks if not 8 so it was time to can it.
All I needed to do was take the tops off, clean the rims again and then boiling water bath for a half an hour.
Now if I could just find room for all this in one of the cupboards.
After I got that done Phil came in talking about how he was going to cut the grass but wanted to get his hair cut first so he wouldn't be so hot. I know a bribe when I see one! But I did really want to get the lawn cut so I got out the hair cutting stuff and got that done for him. He IS actually cutting the grass now.
I do plan to work on my basket some and get some more pictures on here as well today.
Tomorrow will not be a lounging day. It, of course, will be a cooking day but we'll keep it simple with just the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, homemade cranberry sauce and probably a strawberry-blueberry pie--maybe some deviled eggs.
Oh, I forgot to mention. My younger son gets to come home from Ft. Gordon for the day :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pine needle Basket Part 1

I am not sure that I can teach anyone how to make one of these so you may be better off looking it up. There are some really good websites with drawn pictures that are easy to understand. That is how I learned. I have only made a few myself but I do really enjoy making them. They take a LOT of time.
I make mine from just pine needles and crochet cotton. I am sure any string, sinew or raffia would do as long as it was strong enough. I use a needle with a blunt tip.
I collected the pine needles (straw as we call it ) from our front yard and put it in a bowl of warm water for about 15-20 minutes. (Tip: you can leave them in the water while you are working but in between times you are going to want to pour the water out because the needles will begin to rot if left in too long).

Then it starts something like this. Use a butter knife to pull the brown tips off of the pine needles (just pull them off a you go along).

Then put about six of them together (ours come in 3's) and make them into a loop like this.

Now you are going to stitch through the center and around the outside. I did 10 stitches. You can do as many as you want but the number has to be even because you are going to make V's using two stitches each time (this will be more uinderstandable as you go along).
You then bend the straw around and in between the stitches you did you make two stitches making them into a V.  As the straw gets thin you will have to add more needles. I add them under the current ones that I am working with on the round to "try" to hold them in. They fall out a lot. It's hard.

This is basically what you do constantly all the way around. Keep making V's inside the V's of the row before it so the V's line up. (Tip: Make sure you get in the middle of the V's on the back side as well as the front).
This is what I got done in the hour that I had before I had to go to work.

The picture at the top of the page is of the first pine needle basket I ever made. As I said, I have only done a few since then as they take so much time.
As I go along I will take more pictures of how this one progresses.

Just another day

Duck eggs on top, pheasant eggs in the middle and quail eggs on the bottom. There were more duck eggs today but they are making a nest and I wanted to leave them and see if any of the ducks would set them. How the pheasant laid two eggs today, I really don't know. I cleaned out her cage yesterday morning so I know I didn't miss an egg but there were two this morning. Usually her eggs are kind of greenish but today they look more brown.
Eleven quail eggs and 6 bantam eggs I had been saving went in the incubator this morning. We will have a staggered hatch like always.
Garden looks good this morning. Definitely going to be picking more spinach soon and since the turnips aren't bulbing at the bottom I may as well pick the turnip greens as well. Phil always says he doesn't like turnip greens but then he eats them. (He actually loved the arugula that I grew one year but I was not real fond of it. )
Thinking about cream of spinach soup lately. I have posted a recipe on the forum that I might try.
Chance for rain today and I am hoping we get some for the gardens sake. Otherwise I'll have to turn on the spicot on the rain barrel (I just love how easy that is!).
Got to find those sunflower seeds. I want to put some in the front flower bed....they're here somewhere... 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Here is what I harvested today. The ducks really outdid themselves and here is another batch of spinach. This spinach is from the raised bed but the spinach in the lower garden only has another week or so before it will be ready for its first picking. There is one strawberry in there (which I ate and it was SO good!) and 3 bantam eggs with the duck eggs on the table.
I also got 3 quail eggs today! I have been getting one a day for the last couple days. I will save for one more day or two then put them in the incubator along with a few more bantam eggs.

Here is the best picture I could get of the pyncheon mama and her two babies. They don't exactly hold still and pose. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Let's Make Cereal

This makes a large batch.

7 C. whole wheat flour
2 C. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
4 C. sour milk (add 2 T. vinegar to milk)
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

almond slivers (optional)(any other nuts can be used as well)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I forgot my almond slivers until after I had already put it on the paper so I put them on top and just mashed them in with a spoon.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool or if you are impatient like I am just burn your fingers crumbling it now.

Now the crumbled mixture you have to spread out on several sheets (mine took 4 sheets, two fit in my oven at the same time) and cook it on 300 degrees for about an hour, turning it now and then and making sure it doesn't burn. You want it to be completely dry. After that you can grind it up some more in a food processor, blender, whatever or you can just leave it like it is. (I found my food processor made too much of it into powder even with just a few whirls so I left mine the way it is).

With a little honey and milk these are really pretty good. I don't imagine you would eat as big a bowl as cereal from the store though as it is a bit more filling.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Walk Through the Yard with Camera in Hand

I think I could walk through the yard every day and show you all something new. Here are the blueberries starting to form.

Here are some of the ferns the asparagus turn into.
This is where the compost pile used to be. Those are all potato and squash plants and I believe I saw a lettuce or mustard in there too.
This is the top of the fig tree that should have been cut back last year but never was. We won't be picking figs off this monster this year unless there's some on the lower branches.
These next two pictures are the grapes that I planted in pots this year. The second one took a long time to sprout its leaves and I thought it might be dead but it finally did and looks fine now.
Here is one of our hazelnut "bushes". I can't believe how big they have grown this year! Check out our lawnmower beside it.
Another picture of the plums.

This is a picture of the pomegranate trees leaves. I just think they are pretty.

Here is a picture of the raised bed now. There are tomato plants and peppers mixed in with it now.
This is a picture of one of the two strawberry hanging baskets that I bought.

Here is a picture of a tomato hanging basket that I bought. The tomatoes are called pear drops. I just loved it and think if it does well, I will try to save seeds and do several of these baskets next year. I have done tomato baskets before with the Tiny Tim and Tumbler varieties and they did fairly well.
These last two pictures are flowers on the heirloom tomatoes in the bigger garden.

This completes our tour of the yard for today :)

We Do Have Flowers

Most everything in the yard is edible and I suppose you could eat the roses but we just keep them around to look pretty.

When I bought this rose bush its label said it was the heirloom rose "The Fairy" which is a rambling bush that gets little pink flowers on it. This obviously isn't a little pink flower and by the way it grows I would say it is a climbing rose.
This is my little planter box out by the mailbox. Please excuse the weeds. Phil tried to get the lawnmower going last weekend but broke the pull rope.

Ok, so not exactly a "growing" flower. I made this the other day for a little birdbath. The top piece cost me $2 and the pot costs $1.50.  I think it's pretty.


Several days ago Michelle told me she had seen a fox and she was all fascinated but I thought she must have seen something else because she said it was as big as Dukey and I have never seen any fox here that wasn't small like a small dog. Well, she's right. The damn thing is as big as Dukey! I know because it was after the chickens this morning and it stood right in the yard looking at the house until I ran out the back door and scared it off. I cannot believe the size of it! That is definitely not encouraging!
Sorry no picture, it didn't even occur to me to do anything except scare the thing good. I am hopeful that my pens are secure enough for a fox (they never were for that raccoon but then a fox can't get in place that a raccoon can especially not a fox this big!) since this one has been hanging around several days and I haven't  lost a chicken yet.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The storms missed us! I don't know how. When I finally got to sleep there was this monster of a storm carrying tornados with it supposed to run right over where we are. Then I woke up this morning and all was well. We didn't even get much rain or wind. I still can't figure out how we got so lucky but I'll take it.
So since we are all still here let me see what else I can tell you about. Some of this I may have mentioned in the comments but not everyone reads the comments.
I am about to do the third picking of the spinach in the raised bed. Next year, it is very possible if I can come up with wood, I might make raised beds where my larger garden is and fill them in with compost. I have never had anything grow as good as the stuff in the raised bed this year. I have pulled up the last of the radishes and planted a few more tomato plants and peppers.Eventually, if the spinach ever stops producing, I will have the herbs, six tomato plants and two pepper plants, plus probably the couple of kale plants in that bed.
I bought two hanging strawberry pots because they had about 10 plants in and around the planters and they were on sale for $6. They are hanging from the back porch now and seem to be liking it. I make sure I turn them every other day or so. I want to make sure that each side of the pot gets enough sun since there are plants on the sides of the pots as well. I also got 4 other strawberry plants (marked down) that I put in the berry garden.
My sister-in-law has given me two big boxes of fabric. I haven't gone through the boxes yet but can tell from the fabric on top that I will have plenty to make Michelle and myself some shirts. I don't make all our clothes but I like to get a few outfits done each year. If I had room to really set up my machine instead of having to drag it out to the table I would probably sew more.
The meat birds in the pen and the brooder are doing great. I did have to clean out the brooder the other day- such a lovely job- but I can't stand my chicks to be in a dirty brooder.
I put 15 bantam eggs in the incubator the other day. I just couldn't stand to not be hatching anything, lol, besides my bantams are not having real good hatch rates themselves this year. Two and three are not exactly the number of chicks I was hoping for with them hatching their own. The idea was that the bantams could eventually hatch all the eggs and I would not have to run an incubator but that project needs some work and new mamas to hatch apparently. So I will hatch them myself for now and see how it goes.
Got my first quail egg day before yesterday. I had been thinking they would lay one soon as they are doing a lot of squatting in the pen. Haven't had any eggs since the first but it won't take them long now. Their eggs will have to go in the incubator as they don't set on their own in captivity.
Looks like we are going to get plenty of plums this year. They are starting up nicely. The little tree bloomed for the first time this year but it has a long way to go before it produces plums. This picture is from one I planted 3 years ago. One year I got 22 pints of plums from this tree and that doesn't count the ones that I used fresh.

Not many good deals at the thrift store today. I got Michelle a GED Math book. I can't tell you that she actually appreciated it though (not sure that I ever mentioned on here that my daughter is homeschooled since 6th grade). And I got Christian some cars. His mom says I am spoiling him. I am always bringing him home cars (or yesterday I brought him a ball) but I am pretty sure as his grandma (" but bah" as he calls both Phil and I) that is my job :) You just can't resist when you know he is going to squeal and run around showing everyone his new cars (but not letting you keep them, lol). Grandchildren are just the best, no doubt about it.
So now I am just lazing (it happens) with the bad foot on ice. Maybe tomorrow I will cook something yummy but the rest of today will be fill with ice, beer and possibly a nap.