Tuesday, December 8, 2015

First Egg

Got my first egg from the new chickens! It is the white one in the center.

This was obviously from one of the two white hens in the pen and not one of the bantams but I watched one of the red bantams fly up to the nest today and it had no problems with that so I know at least the red ones can get up to the nest too.

I have been very busy knitting. Order after order for Minecraft hats came in. I finally had to stop taking orders or I would never get my grand-daughter's stuff done in time to send for Christmas. It was nice getting all those orders though. I am working on the last one today and then will be working on the more important grand-daughter stuff.

Today is my birthday. I was pretty sure I was still in my 20's but apparently I am 47. Phil got me several skeins of yarn, a styrofoam head to display my hats on and a nice set of circular knitting needles. Everything I really wanted. He is real good with birthdays but I really suck at them.

Thanksgiving was very nice. We had a meal at home on Thanksgiving and then a "Thanksmas" with our family that weekend. My brother and sister-in-law made me a very nice yarn bowl out of a thick wooden bowl that they drilled a hole in. Works great and is so creative. My other sister gave me an apron that has a towel sewn right into the front of it. I really like that as I am always tucking a towel into my pocket when I am cooking in the kitchen and I needed another apron (I am not sure what happened to my last one but I think it was worn during the pig butchering..). Anyway, there were other very nice goodies as well. Phil fried a turkey and we had another one in the oven and both were great.

Christmas is coming and I am almost ready, just have to get all these boxes packed and sent off so they get there on time! Time always runs out so fast and I am left scrambling to get out packages at the end but I  do try. I think Phil and I are going to have to sit down and do all this wrapping tonight...ugg....not my favorite chore...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From Quail Cage to Nest Boxes

The new chickens had a pen but no nest boxes. I had some quail cages but no quail ....

There are 4 quail cages, stacked on top of each other in sets of two but they weren't attached to each other so we could separate them if needed. So I took the top two cages this morning, cleaned them all out, cut off all but a few inches on the bottom of the wire. I then had to bend the remaining wire down so the chickens would not get cut on it. Turned the cage over so the solid part was on the top and I had some good nest boxes.
The really hard part was moving the big chunks of oak we still had from when the tree fell on the house but once I got them down, they rolled most of the way.

I think it looks pretty darn good.

It is possible I might have to put a step or a ramp on it for the cochin bantams but we'll see if they learn to fly up to it first.
Oh and the little brown bantam with the badly infected eye looks like it is almost completely better! The swelling is almost gone and the eye is open  and looking good.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Free Chickens!

My brother-in-law called me several weeks ago and asked me if I wanted a free male duck that someone wanted to get rid of. I have really no use for a male duck but I had an empty pen so figured I would take it anyway and give it a good home. But the pen needed cleaning so we decided he would bring it that weekend....and then it rained almost every day for 3 weeks. During that time the offer changed from one duck to 3 ducks, to 3 ducks and a couple chickens and then changed to just chickens.  He brought me 8 chickens yesterday. I did not even get to see them except in the dark on their perch because I had to work yesterday but I have been out checking on them this morning. It looks like I have 2 leghorn hens, 4 cochin that I think are two roosters and two hens, and two little brown bantams that I have no idea what are.
I noticed right off that one of the little brown bantams was not as active as the others and was a little puffed up which is a sign of sickness. When she turned around I saw one of her eyes was completely infected and swollen shut. I didn't even know if she had an eye anymore but got some Tetracycline and put it in their water. I would rather not medicate them all but don't have a separate cage ready for her so for today it went in their water. She happened to really like that water and came over and drank quite a bit. Maybe 10-15 minutes later the eye popped open and I can see that the eyeball is still alright. Several days on the Tetracycline will hopefully clear up that infection completely.
Since I didn't know what I was really getting, I am quite pleased that these are all young chickens. I believe they will be laying in just a few weeks.
I am going to make them some nest boxes out of the old quail cages and they will be all set.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

An Apple Pie Kind of Day

Yesterday was a knitting day. I had been doing some crocheting lately but Phil asked me for a specific type of hat and I had to come up with a graph to make it and then make sure I knew how to do the stranded knitting right. Anyway, it came out pretty good!

But today has just been a writing up patterns day and an apple pie day. Apple cherry pie to be exact. I used some apples I got free at work and some dried cherries I got free from my sister-in-law. Regular apple pie recipe right out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook only with some cherries added.  Just a few photos to make you all hungry!

Monday, October 12, 2015

And the Knitting Continues...

...and I can't seem to get away from it. I have always been a crocheter, NOT a knitter but I love these hats and things and am so excited to be learning new KNITTING stitches! And I have learned to knit with two colors...at once! And I think to myself "Crocheting is easier, faster. Why are you knitting?" And I don't know why? ! And I have no started making up the patterns and putting them in my Etsy shop because so many people want the patterns.

Anyway, I did get the scarf and mittens done for my granddaughter to go with that hat in the last post. The mittens were a real challenge but now I have a pattern for it. I have started on the pink one for my other granddaughter but it got interrupted by the minecraft hat for my grandson and now there is a minecraft one for my daughters friend on my needles so it has been put off again. Good thing those are Christmas presents.

This was a new stitch involving the "left twist". This hat looks so good on Michelle I think it might just be hers now. 

This was a pattern of my own design. A little baby photo prop set. I have put this pattern in my Etsy store. It was a challenge to make as well. 

My grandsons minecraft hat. I had never knitted with two colors like this but always wanted to learn! Very exciting!

Just some Halloween baby hats. 

Other than knitting, I have finally made my way to the dentist to see about my broken tooth. If it had just been broken I wouldn't have worried about it but the thing was really hurting. My dentist says I can do a root canal where they basically build me a fake tooth for $2300 or I can do an extraction (they tell you about this like it is an afterthought that you will never choose) for $230. The dentist tells me that losing your first adult tooth is like losing a thumb...yeah okay, I know a lot of people who have lost adult teeth and no one said it was like losing a thumb...not that it matters since we can't afford $2300 and I will be having mine extracted for the $230 which I really can't afford either but we'll make due.
Anyway, I am off to go deliver some egg while I am in town picking up...yarn...I never even meant to post here today just stopped here while reading another blog. ...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Update 9/24/15

Hi all, not much going on here lately. I have been knitting and crocheting a LOT. I have added several things to my Etsy store and had some local orders but not a lot. Right now I am working on some hat/scarf/mitten sets that I will give my granddaughters for Christmas. I have been able to knit for 40 years but always the same things, mittens, slippers but now I am doing a lot of hats and scarves too and with these Christmas gifts I learned to do the basket weave stitch (which is so simple) and have applied it to them. Here is one hat done and I am working on the matching scarf now.

I am thinking of doing a fuchsia color for the second set but we'll see what yarn is available when I get to it. I imagine the mittens will take more figuring but I think I can do it just fine.

In other news, the chickens are laying like crazy but I am selling the eggs. I am only asking $2 but it is hard for me to even ask anything. It has helped with paying for the feed.  I have someone coming to get the 4 dozen in the refrigerator today.

I am still working at the state park on the weekends and we take a trail walk every Sunday if it isn't raining. I have not found a job for during the week yet which I am slightly thankful for because I am really enjoying having some time at home--not that I seem to get very  much done...

Just starting to have a few cooler days here. I wish we had a real fall though because ours will only last a short few days and then it will just be cold again.

Well, it is time for me to play violin. I just wanted to get on here and let you all know I was still alive.

Monday, August 17, 2015

This is what happens....

when I don't get to collect the eggs for a couple days. I haven't even counted them all. I took three dozen to work the other day to give to one of the rangers, I will take more this week and hope to give them away to a few more co-workers. I have some neighbors who I am sure could use some. I know, I know, I should sell them but I have a rule...I don't sell to neighbors and friends. I used to have a neighbor who would make me take money for them...I hated that.

Anyway, being home for 4 days a week, I have had a chance to crochet again.  I have always loved to crochet and used to do a lot of it when my kids were little and I was home. Now I have a lot of spare time at home and work (and they don't mind if I crochet as long as the shop looks good and is taken care of) so I have listed things on etsy.com. I don't really care if they all sell but I am having a lot of fun doing it again. I tend to jump from one project to another but that is part of the fun. Here is my etsy shop.
Right now I am working on some cute things for babies and should have them listed as soon as my safety eyes come in.
Other than that I am not doing a lot but Phil did get the pallet fence in the back yard rebuilt yesterday so the dogs will stop getting out now. I would go get a picture of it for you but it is trying to rain outside.
I have managed to get my little pond mostly cleaned out and a pump going in it to aerate the water but there are no fish in it now. I do have a few frogs that are living in it happily though.
Phil, Michelle and I did take another hike yesterday but had to do a smaller trail that was only a little over 2 miles because it was threatening to rain and actually did sprinkle big drops on us for about half the trail but that only helped to keep us cooler as it was about 95 F here yesterday.
So that's it, nothing exciting but I am keeping busy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Cliatt Creek Trail

Working at Mistletoe State Park is definitely a wonderful job for me, If I could get more than just the weekend for hours, it would be perfect. There isn't another place I would rather be at though. It is nice to be in a place where almost everyone is happy to be there and we don't normally have any problems and if there are problems, I always have someone to call to fix them. There is not a large number of staff but we do have two rangers, 3 housekeepers and a few maintenance men and the man who runs the kiosk on the weekends. I enjoy working with all of them. They like their jobs and it shows. My time, however, is spent stuck in the office/store. I see the beauty of the park out the windows and it is a beautiful park for Georgia. It isn't exactly like going up into the White Mountains of New Hampshire but it is beautiful for Georgia. We have a lot of hikers come to the park because the park has a good number of trails. The trails and the park can be seen on this map.

Mistletoe State Park Trail Map

 I tell people about the trails all the time but I am basically repeating what I have heard the rangers say about them. I have wanted to walk some of them myself but we have just been incredibly hot here lately and me walking a trail when it is over 100 degrees is not a smart thing to do. However, it had cooled down into the lower 90's lately and if you look on the map, Friday after work I did the upper loop of the Cliatt Creek trail  and the Canyon Loop by myself. I walked in the woods as a child in NH all the time but for some reason it is a lot scarier when you are older, fatter and not as healthy, ha ha, but I did make it in about a half hour and I was very, very hot by the time I was done. I felt good though. I really do need to get a lot more exercise and felt good that I had at least gotten started. But I wanted to do the larger part of the Cliatt Creek trail as it is the one I send people hiking on the most. So Phil and Michelle met me after work on Saturday so we could do that trail together.

It was so much more enjoyable with other people walking with me. We started on the trail behind the office, it then crosses the road and there is a steep downhill before it levels off some. I had Phil take pictures as we went along and these might be out of order but it doesn't really matter. A minimum is done as far as upkeep on the trails because they like to keep them as natural as possible, so large trees may be cut where the trail is but not a lot else is done to them. They are marked by paint "blazes" on the trees. The ones on the Cliatt Creek trail are painted with white blazes.

This first picture is a picture of the office from the side view, where the public restroom is. This is Michelle coming out of it after our long walk but the trail did start behind the office.

We didn't really think to take pictures until we were about half way down the trail and had gotten to the "creek". It is very, very low on water this time of year.

The only bench on the trail and I needed it!

Phil crossed the creek and took this picture from the other side. Anyone who wants to hike the Rock Dam trail has to cross the creek to get to it, which is obviously not too difficult this time of year. 

Leaving the creek. 

Birds nest in a tree.

Big caterpillar's nest.

Straight but uphill.

Those are all the pictures we took. We were glad to see the end of the trail but very happy we had hiked it. I am hoping we will get the chance to go next weekend after work as well and try one of the other trails.

Monday, August 3, 2015

So the Tree Fell

If you are on my facebook page, I know a few of you are, you know that a tree fell on my house on July 23rd. I never thought to come on here because I was in that "stress mode" where you don't know what you are going to do but you know you need help doing it. Michelle and I were home alone since it was a Thursday and Phil was working. A large oak in the back yard fell right on top of my bedroom, actually right over my head because I was sitting on my bed, playing with the mandolin. I knew a tree had hit the house but I didn't know where since it hadn't come through the ceiling. I just ran out in the livingroom screaming for Michelle and she ran up to me telling me she was there and fine. However, three of the dogs were in the back yard and I went to the window and saw all three of them but also saw the tree...or two trees as it turned out. There had always been a dead pine tree wrapped up in this oak but the oak was sturdy and not leaning any way so there was no reason it should have fallen except that trees just can't make good roots in this clay soil. This tree had no tap root and only had roots about 3 ft from the base (I know because it uprooted completely).

I called Phil. Michelle put it on facebook and scared an aunt who called my ex, Michelle's dad, who came racing over to find we were both fine. He left.
Phil called my brother who thought he knew someone with a chainsaw but the guy was still at work.
Meanwhile, our new little Jack Russell terrier and Echo our little black mixed dachshund, ran out of the broken fence in the back yard. The Jack Russell, Suzie, got away but Michelle caught Echo and brought her back.
While we were waiting for Phil the tree was steadily sliding into the roof more.

Phil showed up and I sent him back in my car to the store with a credit card to get a chain saw. Right after he got back with it, my brother showed up and before we even got the chainsaw started my brother's friend showed up- two more guys and another chainsaw.
So started the figuring on how to best get the tree off the roof. All 4 of the guys had worked logging or cutting trees before but none had ever cut one off a roof. It was decided that all branches that could be cut off without making the tree roll, had to be cut off to lighten the weight and keep it from sinking into the house more. They started with the lower branches in the first picture and then cut the top branches of the tree. I made Phil cut my fig tree down because the top branches were all mixed up in it and it was too dangerous to try to cut around the fig tree branches to get to the oak top branches. The fig tree will come back from the stump, they always do.
There was lots of brush, we had to pull out of their way...I haven't hauled brush since I was a kid..

They finally got all the top cut off and they took a chance and cut the bottom, and it rolled nicely off the roof...onto the fence...but sometimes you have to sacrifice things cause it is just too much work in 100 degree weather to worry about anything but getting the tree off the roof.

It looks bad but the only place where it came through the ceiling was in the closet. (My pond is under there though...somewhere). The stump stood right back up but somehow blew the chickens out of the way first.

Suzie came back just as the guys finished with the chainsaws. That was pretty wonderful since she had been gone 5 hours and I thought she was lost forever. She was completely wet so had been down to the lake swimming and she was scratched up a bit but otherwise fine.
Phil got up on the roof and tarped over it that night. He took the next day off and spent two days just cutting up the wood and getting it out of the back yard. He put some of the wood pieces upright in the spot where the fence is broken so we could still let the dogs out in the back yard without them getting out, until we can fix the fence. We bought wood and got wood from a friend (we had shingles and the friend had a few bundles too-different colors but who cares?) and Phil got up on the roof the third day and got the new wood put on and shingled.
You can see in the picture of the wood cut up where my duck house is behind it. That is no longer a pen with ducks in it but had my meat birds in it. The door on that pen had broken right off and the Buckeye rooster that were loose in the yard were basically going in and harassing the meat birds until the night before last one meat bird came out and got stuck in my little pond (which hadn't been totally cleaned out yet). I went out to save it and, of course, it splashed water all over me and tried to beat me to death with its wings....anyway, Phil got out there yesterday and made me a new door and pushed the house back up to the fencing and I was able to get out there last night and get the Buckeye roosters out of the meat bird pen again.
So, anyway, it was a long, rather horrible adventure, that none of us would like to repeat but we got it done with the help of family and friends and didn't have to hire anyone to do anything. Someone asked me had we "hired" someone to fix the roof yet...they don't know us too well apparently.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lemon Balm Cough Drops

That's right! I actually did it! Found a good use for lemon balm. One that I will want to make again!

I have allergies here, I don't know to what (my doctor is just not real good) so I cough a lot. I play violin and it vibrates my throat and causes more coughing. Once I start coughing there is nothing to do but just let it happen. My throat stays clogged. Cough drops help. I like the lemon and honey ones. So I had been looking at recipes for making cough drops at home and came up with the idea to use the lemon balm.

Lemon balm is in the mint family. It is considered a calming herb as some studies have shown that it reduces stress in people who took it and another herb valerian. Oil from the leaves contain terpenes which play at least some role in the herb's relaxing and antiviral properties. It also contains tannins, which may be responsible for lemon balms antiviral effects. Lemon balm also contains eugenol, which can calm muscle spasms, numb tissues and kills bacteria.

I went out and collected a large handful of lemon balm from the wild jungle of them that grow at the end of our house and I rinsed them off.

I boiled them for 5-10 minutes and then drained off the water. You need enough water after you drain it for 2 1/2 cups. 

Put the 2 1/2 cups back in the pan and add 3/4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup honey. Bring to a boil. Turn the fire down to medium and let it keep boiling. (I have seen recipes that just use honey but I just thought that would be too strong a honey taste). 

You have to boil this to the hard ball stage on your candy thermometer. Then shut it off and give it a minute to cool before you start dripping it from a spoon onto a lightly greased sheet pan. Just so you know, this was the second batch I made. The first one I used waxed paper and they are still stuck on that waxed paper in my trash can so I strongly suggest you just lightly grease the pan.

It didn't look like much but I needed two pans.

Let it cool and then take the tip of a sharp knife and gently pop them off the pan.

They do stay slightly sticky so you have to dust them with powdered sugar to keep them from sticking to each other. I then just wrapped them in the  paper towel and put them in a paper bag which I hope will keep moisture away as we are so humid here all the time. 

These did taste really good and I hope will be useful with my cough.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

8 Jars of Organic Carrots

As some of you who are friends we me on facebook know, we finally bought a new, larger air conditioner that actually keeps the house nice and cool so now I am able to do more things inside...like canning...that I have been wanting to do but it was too hot to do before. Anyway, today was a canning day. I had gotten these bags of organic carrots this week marked down to $ .99 each plus I had gotten two vegetable "party" trays that also had two sections each of carrots in them (for $2.50 each. They also had a section of celery, broccoli and podded peas that I will use for other things). I took them all out of the bags and sliced them up mainly because Phil likes them this way.

That pan wasn't quite large enough and I had to switch to a bigger one. 

I brought them to a boil and boiled them a few minutes. Meanwhile the jars were put in the canner and were sterilizing.

Then I packed the carrots into the jars, ran a knife around the edges to remove air bubbles, added about a 1/4 tsp of salt to each jar and then into the pressure canner for 25 minutes.

After all eight jars were filled there was some left...

..I put it in a freezer bag. Just the right amount for a meal.

And here are all the jars. The tops have all popped down and they are ready to be dated and labeled and put on the shelf.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Carpet Cleaning Solution

I should be butchering chickens this week...but I'm not. It always seems like a good idea until you actually have to butcher them...
Anyway, I did get the carpet cleaned. I have had several Bissell carpet cleaners ever since we have had dogs and cats in the house because while I keep the dogs on flea prevention, the fleas still get in the house and all the spray in the world will not get rid of fleas like a carpet cleaner can, PLUS..unfortunately we have not had much luck training Suzie and the livingroom has to be cleaned on a regular basis.
This is the current model of carpet cleaner I have
and it has always worked pretty good, however, the cleaning solution is fairly expensive. We started making our own solution a few years ago and never bought any again. It is so simple.

To a gallon jug add :

1/4 cup laundry soap (liquid works best and the better laundry soap, the better it works)
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsp. baking soda

Fill the rest of the jug with water and shake it up. Fill your cleaning solution container completely with this solution instead of just filling it to the mark with solution like you usually would. Works great. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hot Wing Sauce

It amazes me how ridiculously expensive chickens wings are here now. When I first came to Georgia, wings were the cheapest chicken you could get, followed closely by legs, then thighs. Breasts were the expensive chicken. But not anymore. We have made wings the best things to eat for some reason. Anyway, they happened to have bags at the store for buy 1 get one free so I had wings this week.
Phil and I love wings with hot wing sauce on them and we have a particular brand that we buy for just a dollar here but today I was supposed to make the wings and had no wing sauce. So I did my usual search for the recipe and then just used what I had in the refrigerator to make my own.

1/2 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup hot sauce (I used the cheap Southern Home brand)
1 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or what I did was sprinkle it in until it looked like 1/4 tsp to me)
1/8 tsp. garlic powder (a few less shakes than above)

Put it all in a pan on medium heat until it melts and heats up good.

Now since I have already used this I can tell you that the sauce taste was excellent. Very much like the one we usually buy only a bit better as far as I am concerned. However, when I make this again--and I will-- I will cook it a bit ahead of time and probably double the recipe and cook it down until it is thicker as it was a bit thin.
I brushed some on the chicken wings before it was cooked and then poured the rest over the wings afterwards.

It was definitely good! Now I need to learn how to make my own hot sauce.