Monday, May 28, 2012


Several questions were asked about the spoon on the last post. It is just the second one that I have made. The other spoon post I have put on the sidebar under Popular Posts. I made them out of some wood that Phil brought home to me. I really don't know what kind it is. I have found that I really enjoy making them. The act of carving is soothing and calming to me. They aren't perfect in any way but they are perfectly usable.
Here is a picture of the two now that they are finished.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

This morning we got the smoker outside and made our own wood chips from the plum tree pieces that we had saved. I had a nice big pork butt that I had been saving and it was put into the smoker.

I then got to feeding everyone and let the ducks out. Yesterday I bought the ducks a kiddie pool so they would have more room for swimming. They, of course, would have nothing to do with the new pool yesterday but today, as you can see, they figured it out.

I also got the "baby" duckling out. This is not the last duckling but the one before that (gotten big hasn't he/she?). He/she has never seen other ducks before but he lives in one of the greenhouse pens so he hears the other ducks all the time. My smallest duck, the little crested runner, went up to him and chased him a bit but the others ignored first. Later a loose rooster chased him into the duck pen and he hid in the duck house for a while but then the two Rouen drakes found him and I had to go rescue him and then put him back in his own pen. I will bring him out some every day so they can get used to him and he eventually will just join the flock.

I then was off to the garden. Yesterday I got two nice blueberry bushes at the flea market for $5 each. I decided not to plant them in the garden on the hill since nothing seems to be growing up there. Instead I dug up the rest of the potatoes..

Added more manure and put the new blueberries in that bed. It will mean less room for other veggies but at least they are right in the garden where I know I will take care of them.

Also in the garden I picked another squash. This one had gotten a bit big and it has only been the day before yesterday since I had checked on it.

When bringing this and the new potatoes in I noticed that there were also several more little ripe tomatoes on the hanging basket tomato plants so those got picked as well.

Finally I sat down in the back yard to watch the smoker and keep putting chips in but I soon needed something to do and started on another spoon.

I worked on it for almost 6 hours while the pork roast was being smoked. The plum chips had a very nice smell to them. When the roast was done the spoon was almost done too.

Dinner was wonderful. The pork roast was perfect and the smoke favor was very nice. I cooked the little potatoes that I had gotten from the garden and the three squash that I had harvested this week as well. It was all so good that I think I will gotand steal another bit of roast.

I hope you all have a lovely Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Yes, I have eaten one of the tomatoes but other than that this is what I have harvested so far this week. The squash is just a straight neck yellow squash. The little tomatoes are Sungold (I think) tomatoes from the hanging baskets. They have done so good this  year and there is a whole lot of little green fruit hanging from my porch. The peppers are Jimmy Nardello. I must say that the pepper plants are not exactly stocky but are producing. I will likely save seeds from them this year and plant them in better spots next year. I will also likely plant more of them since they didn't really fill the space I had for them although they may get a lot larger before they are done.
Nothing else going on lately but work. After school programming is over and summer camp is about to start. I have a lot to do.
Thinking about butchering some chickens this weekend...again (the thinking part that is). I need to. They are eating entirely too much. The bigger (males) of the meat birds are about ready and I need to get them done and there are still those extra bantam roos to do. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Harvest and Future Harvests

I really am pleased with my garden this year. Oh, it isn't going to produce tons of food to feed us but I feel like we are at least on the right track now. I keep thinking about where I can put some more raised beds and how I can slowly take over the lawn without Phil noticing.
Anyway, the hanging basket tomatoes have been a complete success this year since I have been very careful to water every day now that it has gotten hot. We'll be picking these very soon.
Look at that cluster of little tomatoes!
There are some nice clusters of tomatoes in the garden as well. I am not exactly sure which variety this is. I guess I should have written that down but these are either Tip Top, Taxi or San Marzano. 
I'll also have more squash to eat soon.
This is one from one of the later planted squash plants. 
And here is the harvest. I couldn't wait any more and dug up some of the potatoes. They are quite small and maybe I should have left them longer but the tops of some of the potatoes were starting to die off in the heat.These weighted about 2 lbs. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Three days ago my yellow squash looked like this:
Yesterday it looked like this:
Today it looks like this!:
This was my lunch today. Just fried in a bit of bacon grease with some sweet onion.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More Chicks

This mama bantam hen has a whole dozen chicks. Eleven of them she hatched herself and one I gave to her from the other pens because it was running around in that pen and the mamas aren't done hatching in there. I didn't even know this hen had that many eggs under her!
These are the other two mamas setting in the pen with all the roosters. I am sure I will have to move them once they are done hatching. Right now they have two chicks under them. I saw them when the hens went to get water and food today.
And, unfortunately, we have one lone duckling again. A few days ago when I candled there were 3 still alive in the eggs in the incubator but this is the only one that hatched. He is a bit brownish so it will be interesting to see what color he/she turns out to be.

Monday, May 14, 2012


So I was going to do a quick little post this morning on how I had tried to braid my garlic...

How I had planted some ginger root, repotted my mint and worked a bit on the bread bowl (still not enough going on to take pictures) and then I went out this morning...
I think once you have been around your animals for a while,  you know when something is wrong or different and I knew the minute I went out the door. I don't know how I knew or what exactly was wrong. It might have been because the pigs didn't woof at me like they always do. The chickens were quite but the pigs made no sound. I went to them first to see what was wrong. I always have the fear of them getting out. They were out alright but not completely. They had gotten though the weak spot in the fence to the chickens pen. What a relief! They were in the chicken pen but they at least weren't loose! I had leaned a pallet up against that weak spot between the pens and they had never bothered it before but it rained good last night and softened up the soil for them and they toppled the pallet and broke through the fence into the chicken pen. I have three large pens all are connected. They also were not interested in eating the chickens which was also a plus.
So I lured them back into their pen. It was pretty easy. They, of course, wanted that food. Then I set to work fixing the fence. I wired it together better and then put the pallet against it and wired the pallet to the fence....but...the pallet wasn't quite big enough and one of the pigs went around and broke just a little spot on the other side and went through again. I go in the chicken pen and try to get him to go back through the hole. He pays me little or no attention. I try luring with food but he has already eaten and wants to root in the chicken pen more. I ran in the house and got the duck eggs. My pigs LOVE eggs. He fell for it and squeezed back through the little hole (you would have never guessed that huge pig would fit!). I set to work wiring that hole closed then went and dragged another pallet from the house and wired it on the chicken pen side over that hole. I have checked on them a few times since and it seems to be holding but they like that chicken pen and they are steadily trying the fence on that side and I have also seen them now trying the fence on the duck pen side so I don't doubt that they will find a way out again. I think I will call Phil and have him bring home another pallet or two. 
I didn't even mention the chickens getting out while I was trying to put the pallet in or the fact that the septic is stopped up so I had the pleasure of washing my hair in cold water in the outdoor sink this morning( I did sponge bathe in the house, of course).
Sigh, it is going to be another long week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Pleasure of Herbs

Hope you all are having a wonderful Mother's Day!
Yes, I know..another book. I have entirely too many and some are useful and some aren't. This one I have already put to use though.
The Pleasure of Herbs has a rather odd way of presenting its information. It does it monthly. While I understand the concept of trying to make the book interesting, I think most people have an herb and just want to know how to use it and to do that with this book to find information on a specific herb you have to use its glossary. However, if you actually have time to browse through the book, you will find that there is a lot more to the book than that.
This isn't a "coffee table" book, there are no color pictures just black and white ink drawings which might have normally made me put the book back (I like pretty pictures!). But as I skimmed through the book I immediately saw a recipe I wanted to try, I then saw, some good tips on propagating herbs, a lathe house used for shade on hot summer days (we have plenty of those), herbal footbath, beautiful herb garden designs (even in black and white), starting from seed, herbal soaps, potpourri, rosemary cake etc.!
I got the book for $ .99.
Here is my first recipe from the book. You just can't go wrong with a bread made with cheese and bacon.

Quick Caraway Cheese Bread

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I had a mix of cheeses)
2/3 cup crumbled bacon
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Grease bottom only of 2- 9x5x3  loaf pans (my loaf pans are larger than that so I used my long loaf pan). Mix together everything but the bacon, cheese and seeds, then mix them in. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans.
I wanted to add that after eating this, I was very surprised to find that you really couldn't taste the bacon at all. The caraway had a nice light taste to it though. I think next time instead of oil I will melt some bacon grease and grease the pan with bacon grease and see if I can add a bit more bacon-y flavor to it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gardening At Work

I have been trying to bring a little greenery inside where I work by bringing in some plants. Plants tend to soften the look of any place they are put. I have these behind the membership desk where they can be seen when people come in.
Some of you may remember that I work at the Boys and Girls Club here and that we also got some raised beds for our children to garden in last fall.

Through the winter the children grew turnips in the gardens but since then they have basically sat empty until yesterday when our Unit Director got us some plants. I myself had bought trowels and seeds as well.

So yesterday some of  the children were taken out and they planted. They had tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, and the seeds to plant.

 It is a wonderful thing to be able to do with the children and I think it is catching on. We are located  here in the housing project here in Thomson and there has always been one house that caught my eye every spring because they plant a garden but this year I noticed that there are three houses with gardens right by the Club.

We are truly hoping no one bothers our gardens at the Club. We had initially wanted a fence around it but were not able to get one and the children in the neighborhood are a bit rough on anything left outside. Here are pictures of the ones with the plants in them.
Tomatoes and peppers
Cantaloupe and watermelon (I think)
Joining the blog hop  here.

"There was this SALE!"

So I had to stop at the store last night to pick up 4 things: milk, dish soap, soda for Phil and paper towels. I don't believe I have mentioned that Fluff had kittens under the house which is where the cats usually do but Fluff is a very small cat and this weekend we could hear the kittens crying. We tried to get them out but couldn't get them all to come to us at first but the other day we managed to get all of them---4 thin little kittens. Fluff was brought inside as well and was found to be sick and her milk had, for the most part, run out.

But we are pretty good at the kitten raising thing now. 1 cup milk, 1 egg and a drop of corn syrup makes the best milk for kittens (we have tried the stuff in the store before, it gives them diarrhea).

 Anyway, four kittens drink a lot of milk and go through a lot of paper towels so I had to stop at the store. 
When I got home Phil said, "Geez, I didn't know you were getting that much stuff!"
And I said, "But there was this SALE!"
And he said, "Really...again?"
It was funny but there really was a bit of sale. The marigolds were on sale!
 I might just plant them in the garden to attract more bees. I have some that I started from seed down there but they aren't blooming yet and I like having flowers in the garden. It is cheery to walk down and see something blooming amongst the vegetables.
And then they had sale stuff in tubs right as you came in the door and I passed them by at first because there were some very rude women standing around them talking "trash" about the stuff in the bins (ok, little vent, if you don't want the stuff leave it alone and try to watch your mouth in) but when I came back through no one was at them and I took a look. Not much was left but this was there!
Yeah! I wanted one of these! I had looked them up online and in the stores and they were always over $20. It isn't that I can't make jerky without it, I can, it is just that this will make it a whole lot easier. It was $2. The box had been opened but all the stuff inside was still wrapped in plastic.
So that was my joy for the day. I do love getting a good deal on something that I have been wanting.
By the way, the kittens are doing great. Gaining weight, though the little one in the second picture is incredibly needy and wants to be held all the time. Fluff is getting better as well but now, sadly,  just kind of ignores the kittens. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finally Peppers and RAIN!

We have been without rain for a week and a half or so and when it is nearly 90 F. every day, things get a bit...cooked. We have had a good chance for rain for 2 days and it rained not a half mile from the house both days (I actually have gotten to see a rainbow each day too!) but no rain for us. This morning it got a little dark then sprinkled and I thought that might be all we would get. I got out there and made my discovery in the garden and got a few pictures. After coming in, however, things got good and dark and it is finally RAINING! Oh, it isn't pouring but it is a nice steady light rain that will give the garden a good water that it has been needing.
Speaking of gardening here is the pepper part:

 And another!:

I finally am going to have some fresh peppers to eat. I don't know if it is the raised beds or the variety, Jimmy Nardello, that did it but whatever it was, I am glad.
(The rain is stopping- a bit sooner than I had hoped but at least we got some this time.)
I guess that is the way gardening goes. Last year I got my first onions and radishes to grow. This year the onions did nothing and I only got a few radishes (different bed), but this year it looks like I will get peppers and squash which I  didn't get last year. If I could just get a couple years together, I would be all set!
Here is a few more pictures. This is a cluster of tomatoes on one of the hanging basket tomatoes and the other is a bunch of blossoms on one of the larger tomatoes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Official Count IS.....

When I took them out this morning I counted them and there are 19! Yeah! They were good for me this time and none of them jumped out of the incubator when I opened it as they tend to do when there is that many. I was quite pleased since I am still having trouble getting the humidity up at hatch time now that the incubator is in the spare room instead of my closet, but I did manage to get it up to 48%. Apparently that was enough.
Of course, after I started taking picture they all wanted to move. 
Here they are close up. Nothing like a bright blinding flash for your first day in the brooder.
I'll give the other eggs another day, then I may wait for the duck eggs to hatch before putting in another batch of quail. Out of the 5 duck eggs it looks like only 3 may have survived which bothers me since I was especially attentive this time and made sure they were turned and moistened each day. But that is just the way hatching goes sometimes.