Saturday, March 31, 2012


There is really nothing different going on here today so this is another generic picture post.

 I did make ketchup today. There is a link to making ketchup on the sidebar. I have not had to make ketchup since that post and I have not bought any from the store. This time the corn syrup I had was dark corn syrup (it was marked down) but it seemed to make no difference at all from the light corn syrup.
 Here are the chicks again. They grow so fast. I also have 2 baby quail in the brooder inside that hatched. I am not sure why I only got two out of about 20 eggs but two was all that hatched this time. I am waiting on duck eggs to hatch as well but there are only 4 duck eggs in there.
This is just a picture of some of the ducks wandering the yard today. They wandered right up to me while I was taking pictures so I snapped a picture of them.
Mark had a nice post on herbs on his blog so here are a few of my mints this year.
 This is apple mint that is over-running its pot and desperately needs to be planted outside but I have yet to figure out where to put it where it can spread if it wants to.
This is chocolate mint. I used to have a lot of this growing in the yard but it eventually all died off.
This is ALL lemon balm and this wasn't even where it was planted to begin with. It spread when Phil cut the grass and ran through the lemon balm in the front garden. I love the smell of lemon balm but wish I could find something to use it for. I have tried making lemon balm jelly a couple times but it never jells. It is nice in tea but you can only drink so much of it. I suppose it would be good diced  and sprinkled on fish or mixed with mayo on fish but I have not tried that yet.
These are the potatoes. I am just amazed at how fast they have grown. I really need to get more dirt or compost in there.
This is a dead baby snake that I found in my garden while taking pictures. It is very odd, we have found several of these dead baby snakes this year, not just in the yard but on the way to the lake. NOT that I mind having less snakes but it bothers me that there are so many. It makes me wonder why.
Both of the little fig trees (you can see on in the lemon balm picture) have produced figs which is pretty amazing since the huge fig tree never did produce figs (it is not dead, just as I knew it wouldn't be, even though we cut it. It has a new shoot coming out from the base).
Hopefully I will have something more interesting to post tomorrow. I have a couple of projects that I am hoping to get done.

Monday, March 26, 2012

No Change

 I tend to get rather disgusted when I see shows on tv about our poor economy. All the people they show had a ridiculously high paid job and, of course, they can't find another..anywhere...(but if you are used to making that kind of money and think you are worth it maybe you aren't looking in the right places). These people, of course, had savings but have now used it all and while they are telling you this, they are showing pictures of their gorgeous house with two stories and a two car garage with new cars inside.
I thought I would do this post so others would understand how the rising gas and food prices have really been affecting us. I can remember when our prices first went up and one day we went to town and they had jumped up to $2.50 a gallon and we were scrambling to figure out how we were going to get more gas money into our budget that week. These days $2.50 a gallon is just a nice dream. Last week when I filled up it was $3.75 a gallon and it is probably higher now.
So what does that mean for us? Well, when I first got my job it cost me $20 a week in gas to go to work and shopping on the weekend. It now costs $50 a week. My paycheck has only gone up $ .50 a hour which meant I made a whole $12.50 a week extra. However, I was extremely lucky and my job changed and 2 more hours were added on to my work day. Extremely lucky money-wise but 2 hours out of my day means that I am constantly wishing for more time at home so I can get more done here. The reason I only had a part-time job to begin with is because I have so much to do here at home. My extra hours add $85 to my paycheck.
My children and grandchild moved out, that took away all but one of my dependents. Trust me, the extra $85 now goes to taxes. So that takes me back to just the $12.50 more every week.
As for Phil's paycheck: His boss decided that he needed help to keep his company going so started taking out and extra 5 % from Phil's pay for the company (yup, he has good lawyers), work also slowed up. Phil ended up making $100-150 less almost every week. It has been like that for about a year and has just started picking back up this year again and his boss (after about $8000 worth of Phil's money) has stopped taking the 5%.
We bought the truck and now Phil has to pay a lot more for his gas. He puts about $90 in gas in every week.
We do have less people in the house, which means less food to buy and less of an electric and water bill but no by much.
Food prices have not been really bad until lately. I can still find a lot of deals in the produce section but we are having a hard time keeping ourselves in meat. Meat prices are terrible! We basically walk down the meat aisle in the one store that puts out reduced meat and we hope they still have some meat in the reduced section.
I will be ever so glad when the pigs and chickens are ready for slaughter because it will mean we have some decent meat that we don't have to buy.
That brings us to feed prices. We have a great feed store here. Our feed store is not without their own means. If the feed prices go too high, he simply stops buying and makes his own.  We can tell this has happened when we start getting feed in plain brown bags. A bag of laying mash has only gone up $1.70 at the feed store ($11.70) but if you go to Tractor Supply (when they opened they were cheaper than the feed store, not anymore) a bag of laying mash (the Dumor cheap stuff) will cost you approximately $14 (that is up $5 ).  I cannot give you a comparison on pig pellets as I have just started buying them but they are $11.95. This week I mixed mine with cracked corn ($9.95).
So how has our life changed? We shut off our Directv and went to Netflix. Our spare room now stores a decent amount of food. That's it. We are dealing with the high prices and adjusting to them as they come same as we have always done. Looking for deals and getting them when they are there.  We don't have a big house and big bills and there are still other ways we could cut back on those bills if we had to. Basically life is the same as it has always been here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another Tour

The peas are just right out of hand in the back raised bed; way up over the little fence but they are blooming so hopefully we will get some peas eventually.
 Yellow squash
Parsley needs to be put out in the sun.
A few of the tomatoes planted.
The lettuce patch that I pick my lunch from every day (along with a few green onions from the bed beside it).
I did end up planting potatoes in the deeper bed. 
Yup, can't see anything can you? This is the strawberry bed that I planted 25 strawberries in . Two have come up and one from last year. I guess I'll try to pick up more but I'll see if the feed store has some this time. 
Curious chickies. 
Getting bigger!
Flowers from the abandoned flower garden. They do real well when I just leave them alone apparently.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Meat Birds 2012

I have purchased some of the meat chickens for this year. They finally had some Cornish Rocks at Tractor Supply and I took all 10 that they had. I was very pleased since 10 was exactly what I wanted. I like to buy the meat birds in 2 or 3 batches so that I don't have to butcher them all at once.
Cornish crosses or Cornish-Rocks, are specially bred for large scale, efficient meat production and grow much faster than egg laying hens or traditional dual purpose breeds. They are noted for having very fast growth rates, a high feed conversion ratio, and low levels of activity. I should be able to start butchering in 8 or 9 weeks. Though some people butcher as early as 6 weeks, I like to leave mine a bit longer.
I have been to Tractor Supply several times in the last few weeks and they have only had pullets so when I got these home today I, of course, was not really prepared. They went into the cat litter box brooder until I could fix up their real home. Where I wanted to start the chicks off this year was in the greenhouse. There are 4 small pens under the bench in the greenhouse. I left them there when we redid the greenhouse specifically for this reason--so that I could start the meat birds off in there. However, the dogs breaking into pens this year has caused me to be more cautious. I had bought more chicken wire to run around the outside of the greenhouse but hadn't actually got it put on yet so I had three sides of the greenhouse to put one run of wire on the bottom (the other side is where a larger pen is and I hope it will not need extra chicken wire on that side). Then I had to get bedding put in the pen, get the light, water and food set up.
It is finally done now and they are all settled in and seem to be comfortable. They won't be able to stay here permanently but hopefully by the time they need to move I will have the larger pen fixed as it is my last large pen.
They were twice the size of the other chicks in the store but in these pictures they look so small!

Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lettuce Harvest

This one was so lovely I almost didn't want to pick any of its leaves. The picture doesn't show it but it has a real reddish tinge to the leaves.
These are rather crowded. They all came from some cheap seeds that I bought for a quarter that said "salad mix" on them.
I just took enough to make me a salad for lunch and I also picked the two radishes that were ready. They are a bit ugly but I am not picky.
While down there I took a picture of the garlic growing. I have never had my garlic grow so big. It is just garlic that I bought at the store but it was the fresh garlic not the perfect stuff in the little box.
And here is a picture of one of the two summer squash seeds that has sprouted. I planted them much earlier than I usually would just to see if they would make it.
That is it for the garden pictures. In other news, Michelle is baking oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies. Now Michelle cooks almost every night because we work but she doesn't cook from scratch. Usually I either have it all prepared and she just has to bake something or I give her something in a box that she just has to add a few ingredients to. I am trying to leave her alone and let her do it this time but the last time I did that was with the pumpkin pie she made which looked lovely but she had forgotten the sugar. Anyway, I am sure she is doing fine with these.
Our walk to the lake was very nice again today. Sunny and just cool enough to make walking with no jacket comfortable.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today's Harvest 3/13

Yeah, I know cabbage and spinach ...again.. but I'll take as much of it as I can get from my little garden and will be pleased that I got it. There is plenty of lettuce out there for a salad but I won't have time to make a salad in the morning until Thursday. Perhaps we'll have another harvest post then. 
It was rather nice to have it be still light when I got home from work so that I could harvest these though.

Sima--Lemon Mead

From Wikipedia: Sima is a sweet mead, still an essential seasonal, sparkling brew connected with the Finnish Vappu festival. It is usually spiced by adding both the flesh and rind of a lemon. During secondary fermentation raisins are added to control the amount of sugars and to act as an indicator of readiness for consumption — they will swell by absorbing carbon dioxide and rise to the top of the bottle when the drink is ready. Sima is usually accompanied by munkki (a donut), tippaleipä (a special Vappu funnel cake) or rosetti (a rosette).

I had never even heard of it before until I saw it on another blog  and, after it got my interest, I did like I always do, looked it up, added some recipes together and made my own. However, I was skeptical. All of these drinks that I have made that involve yeast..taste like yeast and not in the nice bread the- "hey, let's eat some raw yeast"- way.  Just not to my liking. But we are talking a drink made for a festival here, just seemed like it might be good. Plus it only took 2 lemons, some sugar, a tiny bit of yeast and a few raisins. All of which I had on hand. So here is what I came up with.

5 qts. of water
2 lemons (well washed)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar (plus several teaspoons)
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
Several raisins

I made 5 qts. originally thinking I would put them in quart jars and then changed  my  mind and used a gallon jug and one quart jar.  It just was easier to fit in my frig.
With a vegetable peeler slice of the very thin yellow peel of the lemons without getting the white part of the rind in it.

Put these in a pot. Peel the white rind off the lemons and discard. Slice the lemons thinly and add to your pot.

 Add the water and sugars (except teaspoons of white sugar). Bring to a boil then turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature (do not get anxious, make sure it is room temperature).

 Place in a non metallic container (I used a large plastic bowl). Add your yeast. Allow to set overnight in a warm place (I had mine in my oven). The next day strain the mixture and into your jars or plastic jug or whatever you are using. Add two teaspoons of sugar per quart.

Add your raisins. Place back in your warm place until the raisins have risen to the top (this could take hours or it could take a few days. Mine was ready after being left about 8 hours). It is then ready to drink. Place it in the frig to get cold before tasting.
I tasted it this morning and was pleasantly surprised. Mine is only lightly carbonated and does not have that yeast-y taste that I so hate. It is a nice, pleasant, light, lemony drink. The information I read said that it can be drank by children if drank before it has left to ferment too long otherwise it becomes alcoholic.

Monday, March 12, 2012


You would think that carrying feed sacks and gardening and whatnot would be exercise enough but apparently not because I have gained another 4 lbs. Can't let that happen so now that hunting season is over we have to start walking again. We do, however, have a very pleasant place to walk. Across the dirt road there is a path to the lake from our house.
Romeo really, really enjoys going to the lake.
You can't see it but about half way down the path in the  picture is a split in the path. We used to take the right path because it was longer but since the last few storms we now have to take the straight path because of this:
There are a lot of downed trees these last few years. Some are rather pretty. 
 Are we there yet? Not quite but you can see the lake from here. 
This was on one of the rotten logs.
Finally at the lake. Our part of the lake is actually where a creek used to run into the lake before they dammed it and flooded it. When the lake is really far down it turns back into a creek . I have only seen that happen once. There are ducks where the ripples are but I couldn't get a close enough shot of them.
As you can see, the lake is actually way down now. It should be all water to where the lighter colored brush is. 
We walked around to the point (in the picture before last) and I took a picture of the lake around the point. 
We then walked back. The walk back is a lot tougher since it is all up hill but gives you a better work out too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lessons Learned

Isn't he just so sweet and lovable looking?
Cute, cuddly?
AND HUNGRY! And if you reach in the pen to try to put some food in the dish he might just bite the heck out of your arm! I think I was lucky I had my jacket still on (it was warm and I was thinking of taking it off).  It left the loveliest bump which I am sure will turn pretty colors later but did not break the skin. 
That's ok, someday I will bite him back :)

After that lovely start to the day. I managed to get the rest of the manure spread on the gardens, pull the broccoli plants and feed them to the (mean damn) pigs, chickens and ducks. I then got the grape, raspberry and blackberry planted.  Yogurt milk is cooling on the counter. I have to make so much yogurt because I take it to work with me along with whatever fruits I have and eat them for a snack. Last week it was yogurt with fresh strawberries in the bottom and the other little jar is some applesauce that I canned earlier this year. 
I also have sourdough bread rising in the oven. I think that is going to be about it for today except I need to slice up a ham for my lunch sandwiches. I picked up Jean M. Auel's last book in her Earth's Children series and I plan to read a good bit of it today. Hope you all are having a nice day and nothing bites you while you are trying to feed it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Little Garden Work

It has not been the most productive day for me. Frankly the whole week was rather terrible and I just didn't get done today what I felt I could have but to give myself a little credit my back is hurting a bit more today (and it had been getting better) plus the weather is changing from cold, then to hot, then cold, then hot again here and my sinuses are really not taking it well. Anyway, all excuses aside, I did managed to get a little bit done. We loaded the truck up with trash to take to the dump which is all the way on the other side of town. I also cleaned out the big freezer first and got rid of anything that was no longer good. It is a shame how much I had to throw away. We need to do better with that.  We went shopping because we always go shopping on Saturday. We went to two grocery store, a dollar store and the thrift store. Deals are quite hard to find these days and today was no exception but since I had gone through the freezer, I knew we didn't really need much. We also went to the feed store, of course, but I only needed pig pellets and laying mash. We then visited Wal-mart (I would give a lot to never have to go there). I wanted to get some bags of their "hummus and manure" to help finish off some of the raised beds and I also got a couple bags of top soil to mix with it and the compost already in the beds.
When I got home and got things put away I went out to feed the animals. The pigs are always very upset with their late breakfast on Saturdays plus they only got pellets and no good eggs or yogurt. Tomorrow I will treat them to something better.
Came in, turned the eggs in the incubator and then took a break to rest my back ( bags of feed are heavy even on your shoulder and mine have to come all the way around the house and into the back shed).
I finally couldn't stand thinking about all the things in the greenhouse that needed planting and went and got the pink blueberries to plant. I had decided to put them in the raised bed that was supposed to have cucumbers planted in it. I just don't want them up in the berry garden since I just plain am too lazy about getting it watered (apparently).
I was rather disgusted with these when I removed them from the box. They, of course, are in a plastic bag in the box and it is usually filled with some sort of planting mix which the plants are growing in. In these there was the planting mix but in that was a little 2 x 3" pot in which the root bound blueberries were. I likely would not have bought them had I known their roots were confined to such a small pot but it is too late now and we will see if they enjoy their new soil or not.
I spread a bag of manure and a bag of top soil on this bed. The "top soil" was a disappointment this year as well, but it usually is. One year it was almost entirely small wood chips. This year it was at least 50% sand. That is not exactly terrible when you have clay soil to begin with but it is not what I would call "top soil".
The soil on top is the manure, the lighter stuff underneath is the "top soil"/sand.
 I also planted potatoes in the deeper new bed, and covered it with some manure, "top soil", and a bit of half composted compost (I meant to put more on but shoveling is not nice on the back, maybe tomorrow).
I will fill it in more as the potatoes grow.
The broccoli has started to flower so it will be pulled and fed to the chickens. I am actually thinking about planting the tomatoes. We have a whole week of 80 degree weather coming up. Normally when we hit 80, we seldom go back down. But I have not quite decided yet. The red cabbage isn't ready to pick yet and tomatoes have to be planted in their spot when they come out too so I may wait and plant the tomatoes all together. I don't know yet.
Anyway, I don't want to leave you with just empty beds to look at so here is the lettuce bed. It is looking pretty good.
 And here is the bed that has onions and spinach in it. The spinach has not done so well. There is only about 5 spinach plants that have come up. It is possible that we just had too much rain lately. The bed really haven't had a chance to dry out any but as you can see the onions don't mind it at all. Sorry, the sun was on the lens. I should have taken the picture from the other side.