Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saddle Up!

It's that time of the year, when love strikes a young rooster's fancy and they want to find a nice girl or two or six and do what comes naturally.  Yes, it is a little early, but I think the funky weather has made the boys feel frisky already.  Mating activity has gone up in the past couple of weeks, and though some of the boys are gentlemanly (Perni is fairly nice during mating, for a rooster, that is), most of the boys are not.  Peter is nowhere near a kind soul to his girls, and Beethoven, being at the bottom of the roo chain, can be very unkind to the girls.  So the girls' backs have been showing a bit of wear.  In fact, on Owl, one of the Ameraucana girls, I can see skin.  Time to step in and prevent disaster.  Enter the saddle.

Fa-shion-a-ble!  Made of leftover pieces of fabric and elastic, they're what every well-dressed and protected hen will be wearing for the next few weeks. Woo woo!

Allow some of our beautiful models to show you what these babies can do for your appearance:

Meet Susan, who is modeling the blue Asian-inspired Chrysanthemum saddle.  Notice how the blue really plays off of her beautiful white feathers and greeny legs.  C'est magnifique!

And note also, that the saddle stays on and still looks very fashionable, even when you are doing something unbecoming a lady, like shoving your head in the feed scoop.  Mere mortals, don't even think about doing this without a saddle.  You would look like a fool.  Luckily, Susan can pull it off.  So elegant!
For you rugged outdoor types, we have the Ivy saddle.  Green leaves on blue, it simply screams "Out of doors!  Trees!  Leaves!"  So trendy.

It plays off of Owl's coloring so nicely, and gives her that outdoor edge that says "Look out world!  This girl's gonna peck mountains!"  Ooh la la!

Freakin' paparazzi.  I TOLD you, no pictures when I'm eating!!!

We also carry the Seashore saddle.  Gentle blue and green waves caress your back feathers.  Calming, lovely, and gentle, it tells everyone you are centered and at peace.  We chose Ashley to model our Seashore saddle, but we had a few problems...

Getitoffme getitoffme getitoffme!!!

Be calm, Ashley!  Center!  Find your chi!

We admit we may have chosen the wrong model for this one.  Our apologies.

She did better than her sister, though.  When we put Evelyn in the Asian-inspired Chrysanthemum saddle, this is what happened:
There's something on me, isn't there?  ISN'T THERE???



It's STILL there, isn't it?  It's FOLLOWING me! 

Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod!  Getitoff!  Getitoff!  Getitoff!
Oh, the henmanity!  SOB!

We will NOT be renewing her contract, I think that goes without saying.

But here, here, is the model of all models.  One whom others can take a lesson from.  Hermione Number 1 (or 2, or 3, or 4--sorry folks, they all look the same, that's why they have the same name) is wearing the blue Windswept saddle.  And she's not afraid to wear her saddle in a different way.  A way that truly shows what she thinks about herself.  A way to truly let others know that they need to make way.  Move it or lose it, girls, here she comes!  She's got what it takes and she's not afraid to use it.  Yes, the way she wears her saddle is the most daring way of all.... a superhero cape.
DA da da DA DA!!!

I look for trouble here....
I look for trouble there....

I look for trouble here......oh wait, those are my feetNevermind.
I can go....

.....and stop!!!

Whew!  She is all that and a bag of chips!  You have to be really bold to pull this off, and I think we can all agree that she CAN!
You go, grrrrrrllll!!!

Chicken saddles......

London.....Paris.....Milan....Chicken Scratch

Get yours today!

post signature

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Uneasy Last Night

The wind was kicking last night, and the doors to the chickens' run and the duck and goose houses were all closed.  I went out at 7:00 to put everyone in and do my nightly head count.  I reopened the doors to the houses and the ducks and geese went on it.  I turned to go check the chickens, and found three of my girls sitting on the run's outer wall looking like "Oh CRAP!".  The door to the run was shut, and they didn't know what to do, so they roosted as best they could. 

I picked the girls up, one by one, and put them in the house.  Then I went in to do the head count and I noticed that they were very quiet.  One thing about chickens (at least my chickens, I can't speak for anyone else's) is that when I check them at night, they are always singing.  It's a quiet song, more like a melodic "purr" than a chirp or vocalization.  It's a back of the throat thing.  Anyway, they weren't doing it.  And the atmosphere was that something bad had happened.

Ok, I know, stop right there.  Just how crazy am I that I know what my chickens are thinking?  I don't.  But I spend enough time with them and watch them enough that I can sense their collective mood, if that makes sense.  If that makes me crazy, then so be it.  I'd prefer to think it makes me a really good farmer. 

Anyway, it was the atmosphere that something bad had happened--just like after the dog attack and we had lost a girl.  Same sort of quiet unease.  So I noticed it and put it in the back of my head and did the count.  And I was missing one.  So I counted again, because they tend to shuffle a little and some hide under others' wings and such, so I may have miscounted.  But no, still missing one.

Then I realized the missing one was Perni, the leader of the flock.  That's bad, really bad.  He's a good boy, gentle, patient, and he watches out for those girls like no one's business.  Unlike Peter, the love 'em and leave 'em guy who doesn't really watch out for anyone but himself, Perni is a tried and true gentleman.  He was missing, and they knew their protector was gone. 

I immediately went out looking, thinking "It's pitch black, how the hell am I going to find him?  If I don't, can he make it until the morning? " Then I remembered the time one of the hens got locked out of the coop--she went into the duck house and roosted on the ground in there.  I looked in the duck house.  Nope.  Lots of terrified ducks, but no Perni.  So I thought, maybe he went into the goose house.  I looked through the window.  The geese were all clustered on the other side of the house, away from me.  Unusual, since they never miss an opportunity to heckle me at any time, and the Africans LOVE to come and lower their heads at me and threaten.  I looked down, but didn't see anything.  I was about to turn away when I caught a glimpse of a red comb.  He was right under the window, in the blind spot.  

Yeay!  I opened the door to pull him out, ungracefully, I might add.  I was heckled the entire time, which was helpful--geese never miss an opportunity to criticize and jeer. Maybe this time they were cheering, though, since they are terrified of Perni (which is pretty funny, if you think about it).  I tucked him under my arm and walked him back to the coop.  He complained the entire way.  Did I hear a story!  I got all the details about how he couldn't get home, and it was dark, and all he could do was hide out in the smelly goose house and wait, and how could I let that happen?  What kind of place is this?  And so on and so on.

Anyway, I got him back to the coop and as soon as I walked through the door with him you should have heard the chatter!  Everyone going on at once, just chatting away, now that he was back.  It was hilarious.  They knew they were safe once again.

Chickens are funny, funny creatures, aren't they?  Not that I'd ever forget what personalities they have, but every once in a while, I love to share a story that shows exactly how funny they can be. 
post signature

Friday, January 27, 2012

Strawberry Soap Then and Now

I never did share my ugly Strawberry soap with you.  Now that I have made un-ugly soap, I feel brave enough to share.  This is the ugly soap:

Thank you, Blogger, for making this sideways
Ugly brown-pink, grainy and crap-tastic.  I blame the recipe and the colorant.  It saponified beautifully, so it's not the cook.  :)

But now, lo and behold, a new recipe, new colors, and I can hold my head up high.

Thanks again, Blogger!

Purty!  Would you like a comparison?  I would!

Vast improvement, no?  I am reinvigorated with this soapmaking "thing".  My daughter is thrilled and so am I.  My next hurdle to conquer is how to get that mold (an old brownie pan---we're very high tech around here) to turn into even-sized bars.  Right now they're sort of spastic.  One thing at a time, though.  Right?
post signature


The things they say are funny, aren't they?
The little boy had a science test on Wednesday, which was on plants.  The two questions he had to answer on one of the pages had three pictures of a cake rising in the oven ( just in the oven, then starting to rise, then risen) and a picture of a tulip growing (bulb in the ground, stem with leaves growing up, flower and leaves).  The directions said to look closely at the sets of pictures and then answer the questions.

1.  How is the tulip like the cake?
            A--The cake is not done.  The plant is a seed.

2.  How is the flower plant different from the cake?
            A--The flower is different from the cake because the plant grows by rain and the cake gets big
                   by hotness.

He got the first one wrong.

This reminds me of my daughter's test from last year.  That one cracked me up as well.

Apparently I have natural comedians for children.  Who knew?
post signature

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh, Much Better!

As promised, I did another batch of the strawberry soap for my daughter, using a different recipe and pigment colors.  I used a white dioxide and a fuschia colorant in an in the pot swirl.  So much better!

Right now it's light, but this was a picture that was taken right as the soap came out of the pot.  The colorant I used looked like this:

Very 10 year old girl-ish, don't you think?  I was fairly generous with it, so I look forward to see what the color will be when it comes out of the mold tomorrow.  Even if it stays that light pink (which I wouldn't expect), it'll still be pretty.  It's not brown!

Stay tuned....

PS-This is my 200th post! Who knew I had that much to say?post signature

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes Lighthearted

I think I'm being watched.

Hey lady? 

Lady, are you in there?

I didn't get any squash!

What a character.

And look what I found in the coop today.

Weird.  Can't be the newest girls, because they don't lay brown eggs.  I have no idea who this came from.  It's the size of an olive, and I'll bet that it has no yolk.  Too funny.

post signature

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Home. Made.

Yum.  Homemade pasta filled with homemade ricotta.  Homemade sauce from the past summer and homemade sausage. 

Completely delicious!

PS--I love homemade ricotta, by the way.  The flavor is head and shoulders over store-bought.  I think I've found another thing to add to the list of things made here from now on!

post signature

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Catching Up

Well, I'm better-ish.  There's been plenty going on, despite the fact that I was sick.  Here's what's been happening:
  • The injured Guinea Hen, Violet, who was bitten by the dog,  is back outside.  She "enjoyed" our hospitality for 2 days, and then began to pathetically chirp each time she heard the roosters crow outside, or the ganders yell.  It was plain she was missing everyone, so she went out.  The first day she was out I caught her in the roost at night and had her sleep inside, so she could stay warm.  The next night, I was not so lucky and she put up a hell of a fight.  Taking that as a cue that she was on the mend, I left her out.  She seems to be ok.
  • The boys (Perni and Peter) are still missing their tails, but seem no real worse for wear.  It hasn't slowed them down any, so that's good.
  • My daughter's 4th grade class will be doing a hatching egg project at the beginning of March.  I've always wanted to do a project like that in a classroom, so I'm thrilled that I'm going to be heading it up.  I will be providing the incubator and the candler, and giving a presentation.  I'll also be bringing in a couple of chickens from our farm to show.  My mother is providing the eggs from some websites she found--36 in all.  That's a lot of chickens!  I'm very excited.  I love to teach and I love chickens, so hey, it's a match made in heaven.  I'll keep you posted on it!
  • The first batch of meat chickens has been ordered to arrive Mid-March.  15 in total, which isn't too bad, considering I don't have a plucker and they're going to take a while to process.  This is the first batch of 3 we'll do this year.  When the sessions are all done, we should have some lovely, healthy food to put by.
  • Speaking of chickens, I placed an order for the beginning of May to fill that little coop I told you about.  They'll be chickens like this:

Hee hee hee!!  They make me laugh, those crazy-haired ones.  You know, purely decorative and petlike.  Not much in the egg laying department.  That sort of thing.  Perfect for a pampered little coop. Yeay!
  • After I made the goal of playing the fiddle more often, I went back to it to start up again.  But then the bridge snapped while I was tightening the strings.  It must have been crooked, and I didn't notice.  I ordered a new bridge and it arrived yesterday.  I'm pleased to say it seems to fit better than the bridge that came with the dang violin in the first place.  I have no more excuses not to practice.  I will have to get back on this horse.
  • I made cheese for the first time.  Actually, let me re-word that a little.  I made ricotta cheese for the first time.  I hesitate to call this any type of milestone, because it was ludicrously easy.  It turned out really well, though, and it was easy to do.  I will definitely be repeating it in the future.
  • Speaking of cooking, I bought a cheap crockpot the other day.  Pork shoulder was on sale, and that's apparently what pulled pork is made out of.  No, I did not know that.  However, I did know that my beloved husband has got a pulled pork addiction, thanks to Subway in the city.  I figured if Subway could do it, I could do it better.  But to do it, I needed a crockpot, which I bought.  I've not owned one before.  It was nice, because though I didn't feel well that day, my family could still eat.  And it was GOOOD!!!!  Good with three O's, good.  Maybe even four O's good.  So the crockpot and I will make friends.  I think it will be very helpful to me in the future.
  • You know what I needed for the pulled pork, since I'm on that topic?  Barbeque sauce.  Do you know what's IN barbeque sauce?  I didn't, because I never buy it.  But I needed some this time and that stuff is all high fructose corn syrup.  I couldn't believe it.  I would even venture to say that it's just flavored high fructose corn syrup, and that's it.  Holy cow.  Well, that's something I'm not buying ever again, not even for pulled pork.  I'm going to find me a good bbq sauce recipe and do it up.  Ick.  That's just too gross.  Add that to the list of things that will be made here from now on.  Wow.
  • The soap is all soaped, and all I can say is, I can cook, but I can't color.  Every batch of soap suds beautifully (for new soap), it all mixed wonderfully, and it all turned out a hideous shade of brown.  I can't pinpoint whether it is the recipe I used, or the coloring.  I used Brambleberry Labcolors for Cold Process, and they didn't work.  The yellow turned out brown, the brown turned out grey-ish and icky, and the pink turned out icky brown pink.  Very disappointing, and such a waste of money.  I followed directions, so I can't think of what went wrong.  Sigh.  I would take pictures, but you don't need to see ugly soap.  I have another recipe I can try, and I have pigments.  I'm going to re-try my daughter's strawberry soap with the new recipe and the pink pigment and see if that works better.  If it does, I'm re-doing all of them.  Luckily, they were all small batches.  If it doesn't go any better, be prepared for pictures of ugly soap.  None of this ugly stuff will go to waste, though.  Even though I won't give my family ugly soap to use (I have my pride, you know), I will take the soap, drill holes in it, and hang it from the orchard trees and any other tree the deer really like.  If the ugliness doesn't keep them away, the smell will!
  • And finally, though I was pretty sick, I hate laying around, so when I could function, I got into my sewing room to work on it.  It wasn't too bad to do, as I could sit on the floor the whole time.  I am decluttering, which is really hard for me in this particular area.  I will write more about that as I go, but for now, let's just say it's a work in progress.
And I think that's it.  Hope you all have a great day.  I can tell by the noise outside it's feeding time, so catch you later!
post signature

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I am sick.  Sick sick sick. 

Sunday I was just fine, and then that evening - BAM!  Sick!  This has been the same way it's been for the last two years.  I toodle along with no problem, and then WHAMMO!  Sick as a dog.


Anyway, I have tons to share, but I'm not feeling well enough to do so right now.  I get little spurts of feeling betterness, and then they disappear.  I had the last spurt while feeding the livestock.  Now I'm in the "crash zone".  Ugh.  I'm going back to bed.  I will be back when I'm better with lots to tell!

post signature

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Say Hello To My Little Friends

Bad, bad.  I know.  Overused.  Sorry about that.  I couldn't help it.  Guess what arrived today?

They are small,
and slimy,
and squirmy,
and kinda icky,
but very useful.


These guys are from Victory Seeds.  Many places carry them, but Victory had the best price.  They were well-wrapped and lively.  I am very pleased with them, as worms go.

I quickly got their home ready (a10 gallon plastic tubby) by making the necessary holes, ripped some newspaper and dampened it, and moved them on in.  Then I fed them some coffee grounds, just so they'd feel more at home.  I'll go out and get them some nice dead leaves when I bring in wood later.

Of course, they can't just arrive when I'm doing nothing, I had two other projects going on at the time.  I was making a couple of loaves of sourdough bread, and making soap.  Yeay soap!  I wanted to take pictures, but though there's a lot of waiting involved, once the interesting stuff happens, you have to move FAST, so it's not really a good time to stop and snap photos.  I will take pictures tomorrow when the soap gets cut up.

I made two types of soap.  First I made a Neem Oil soap from a recipe I completely made up.  I used a lye calculator, but the rest of the ingredients I used were what I had to hand.  It was a combo of Sweet Almond Oil, Canola Oil and Neem Oil.  The Neem Oil stinks, if you've ever used it.  It's gross, kind of like peanut butter and garlic, mushed together and left in the sun.  It was yucky.  I used Peppermint essential oil to help.  I am hoping it takes the smell away from the Neem.  I made this one for two reasons; one, my son has dry skin which looks like Eczema.  I use a Calendula balm on it now, but it needs help, and Neem is good for skin issues.  Also, I can use it as flea soap!  Neem is a double duty oil.  That one tooks like chocolate right now.  It'll be interesting to see what it looks like when it's done.  Heck, it'll be interesting to see what it smells like when it's done.  Hopefully not garlic and peanut butter mushed up and left in the sun with a peppermint sprig.  That'd just be gross.

The other was the first of the family soaps.  I made my son's soap, which is banana.  All the family soaps will be the same recipe, which uses Coconut and Olive Oil.  Simple, but they should make a good soap.  The special oils that some of the recipes need would require me to take out a second mortgage.  I wanted to keep it simple so I could make enough for everyone without breaking the bank.  Plus, I'm still practicing.  I would rather mess up with cheaper oils than with crazy expensive ones.

I didn't mess up, though.  At least it doesn't seem like I did.  They both saponified nicely.  I have to figure out trace a little better, though.  The Neem soap went to trace immediately; I hardly got my stick blender into it and BOOM!  pudding texture.  That was quick.  The banana one was slower, until I added the fragrance.  BOOM! again.  I poured it into the mold looking like a thick pudding.

So I have that to work on.  But I have to say I really enjoyed it.  You know when you do something for the first time and you just really enjoy it?  And you then know it's something you're going to like to do a lot and it's something you'll want to do often?  Soapmaking hit that for me, which is nice.  I hate when I have to do a job that I just can't stand and then I have to force myself to do it because I know I should.  This was fun.  I know I'm going to like it.  Yeay!

I will definitely show you all tomorrow how these came out.  I still have 3 more batches to make, too.  So exciting!  Stay tuned!

post signature

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Well Goll-ly, I Bought A Gun

Don't laugh now....

I know, it's a gun, but not a gun.  But it is a gun.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I'm such a nurturer by nature, this is completely against my being to own.  But I need to be able to defend my animals, so that's part of nurturing too, I guess.  For right now, this is about as violent as I'm willing to get, unless it doesn't work.  Then I have to look inside myself and see what I really believe.

It's a BB gun and a pellet gun in one.  It's fairly manly-ish, mostly.  They had a pink one, but since I'm fighting against all the girly-girl stereotypes here, buying a pink gun just ain't gonna cut it.  Most of what I do (and all of you do, too, for that matter), is considered by most around here to be "men's work", but I never bought into that.  Puh-leeze.  Men's work, schmen's work.  Anything they can do, I can do SO much better.  Buying a pink gun would just go against my inner everything, so no, I bought the oaky looking one with a site.  But it's still called a Daisy.  That just cracks me up.

Next I build myself a target and learn to use the dang thing.  And I defend my own.  Bring out that Annie Oakley that's in there somewhere.  What a step. 
post signature

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Part I'm Not Good At

Last night, we had a dog attack.  Two unknown large black Lab mix guys came onto our property and went after the chickens.  One of my Wellie hens was killed.  Both Perni and Peter were injured.  The Guinea hen, Violet, was badly injured.  I think they must have tried to defend the others.  Perni is missing half his tail.  Peter is missing 3/4 of his tail and a bunch of his back feathers.  The Guinea is missing tons of feathers from his/her back, and has a giant gash in her side.  I don't have much hope, but for now, he/she is living comfortably in a cage in the living room.  He's/She's still acting paranoid, so I take that as a good sign.  Guineas are the most high-strung animal I've ever come across.

I was upset.  The neighbor from across the way came over and was banging on the door to let me know what was happening, because I didn't hear it from in the house.  When I got outside, I saw the dead Wellie and piles and piles of feathers.  The chickens were scattered, and I didn't know how many were dead.  I want to be the farmer who says "Damn, that's unfortunate", and knows that they can be tended to and replaced.  Instead, I am the farmer who remembers that just that morning that Wellie hen was talking to me through the sliding door, and I just wanted to cry.  This is the part I am not good at.

I tended to the injured last night-Pete and Perni look like they'll be ok, the Guinea--we'll see.  This morning, everyone was shy and quiet, and I don't blame them.  After this incident, I've decided to buy a gun.  I've tossed it around a lot, but I've not done it.  It's time.  I do not want to kill anyone, so I will not buy a rifle with bullets, but a bb gun or a pellet gun instead.  I need to be able to defend the animals, and as much as I'd like to be peaceful and think happy thoughts, the truth is nature is not always kind, and these things happen too often.  I will learn to defend those who can't defend themselves.

Oh happy day.
post signature

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Farm House

It's been what, 3 or 4 months since our last chicken incident?  Too long, too long.  Time for an injury.

Our contestant/injured chicken this month is Copernicus!  Come on down!

Dah dah dah dah da da dah dah dah dah.....

I present Copernicus, aka Perni.  Welsummer rooster, ruler of all the other roosters, keeper of the largest harem, eater of corn, gentle soul, and gigantic boy. 

Perni presents us today with....... dum dah dah dum.....frostbite!

Woo hoo! 

It's been a long time in coming, and we've fought it before.  But this week's been cold, and yesterday was 19 degrees all day and 12 degrees at night, and Perni's got, well, really big wattles and a really big comb, so it's not really a surprise.  He's got it pretty badly right now, though.  The dark lines are the frost bite, and if you can tell (which I don't know if you can from the picture), his wattles are pretty swollen.  His mouth is open because it hurts, don't ya know. 

Poor boy.  With a roo in a cold environment, this is a pretty common occurance.  I saw his condition yesterday, and treated him, but this is the type of thing that you have to keep vigilant about and treat all the time.  I treat it with Vaseline and a Neosporin-type medication.  The Neosporin stuff goes on first, gently rubbed into the affected areas.  Then I goop on the Vaseline.

Can you see the goop?  I lay it on pretty thick. 

That's really all I can do for the boy right now, save for keeping an eye on him and re-treating.  I would love to make him a muffler/hat sort of thing, but he won't stand for it, so I won't try.  I am lucky that he is a gentle giant.  I don't know if you can tell how big he is here, but he's a giant boy.  In fact,every time I bring him into the house, I am reminded of how big he really is.  It's just not something I can tell when he's out in the yard.  He takes the touching of his face pretty well and only wiggles a little bit.  He'll be coming into the house probably every day for his treatment.  He doesn't love it, but he doesn't hate it, either, because he gets treats.

Ritz crackers are the way to a roo's heart. 

Now to keep an eye on Peter, just in case this happens to him as well.  Luckily his comb and wattles are nowhere near as big, but it can happen to him just the same. 

Chickens in the house.  What fun! 
post signature
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...