Saturday, April 23, 2011


Guess what's in the box.

Go on, guess.

(Hint: it rhymes with where I live - in the "sticks!")

Did you guess six blurry chicks?

You were right!!

You knew I'd do it.

We HAD to run into town anyway; well, sort-of. But while we were there getting chicks, we did pick up some garden supplies and feed - so it wasn't a trip JUST for more chickens.

(It makes me feel better to say that!)

We added 6 red pullets to our brood. They are guaranteed to be 2 things: girls and good layers. That's just what we needed! They're living in the pigeon cage while the bigger chicks are down in the brood pen. I hope I can juggle the transfers ok - these chicks are probably 2 or 3 weeks younger than our first batch, so they'll need to stay warmer and separate for a while.

They're cute as buttons! And I think we're full up on chickens.



The baby chicks have moved from the bassinette to the crib, so to speak. (And that exhausts my knowledge of all things baby.)

We had some trouble with cannibalism, which isn't uncommon among chicks. Big John caught most of it early; just one at first, then two. We doctored the affected areas with anti-peck, a molasses looking ointment that tastes awful (not from personal experience!) so the chicks stop pecking at that spot. Then another two or three were pecked. At that point, we started moving the pecked chicks out of the pigeon pen and into a galvanized trough.

Pretty soon, the trough was home to more chicks than the cage, and they were getting crowded. So we've moved to step 2: the chicks have been turned loose into the brood pen!

And they are loving it! They've got enough room to run/jump/fly, which is so funny to watch. They started taking dust baths right away, instinctively. And they aren't bored, so no more pecking. But we're keeping a watchful eye on them, just in case.

The brood pen is heavily reinforced, so they're (fingers crossed) pretty safe from predators. Tribett, Daisy, and Pancho all seem to take turns standing guard ... waiting for one false move and it'll be snack time!

I mentioned to Big John yesterday evening that there sure is a lot of extra room in the brood pen. I'm sure the feed store has 5 or 10 more chicks today, just in time for Easter.

Don't be surprised if our chick population goes up this afternoon!

Monday, April 18, 2011


It's hard to believe, but our spring harvest has begun! It's also hard to believe April is on the downhill slide - it will be summer and 110 degrees before you know it.

We planted our lettuce seeds fairly late, so we're fighting the warm weather and trying to pick/sell as much as we can. Each day that it doesn't bolt, we're lucky. We're also blessed with early squash - both zucchini and yellow (crook neck and straight) ready to pick every day. I made a big batch of squash casserole yesterday, froze another batch of squash for future casseroles, then sold the rest - about 5 pounds - today. I've got another 8 pounds or so to sell tomorrow! It's such a great feeling to provide just-picked fresh vegetables to people. Store-bought just never tastes the same once you've had fresh.

Here are some sights from the garden:

Pickling cukes are blooming like crazy! We've got 4 or 5 ready to pick - but not enough to pickle - yet. Won't be long!

These are an heirloom variety of tomato - Cherokee Purple. I bet they'll taste as good as they look. They're a deep purplish red - almost (gasp!) Aggie maroon!!

A annonymous honeybee was kind enough to pollinate our squash. One of my summer to-do list items: start beekeeping! Until then, we'll rely on visting bees.

Our first ripe tomato!!! This little red jewel is hiding behind it's cluster. I spotted it first, so I claimed it. Chances are slim it will still be there tomorrow. I'll bet Big John eats it and blames it on the chickens.

This is a wonderful time of year to be in the garden. Weeds haven't taken over, things are green and blooming and ripening. Picking those first few veggies makes all those long hard days and back aches totally worth it. Weeding, watering, and harvesting haven't become a chore. I'll just relish in these cool spring days, and try to remember them in July and August!

Pray for rain. It's starting to get tough.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


We did some yard work today, along with garden upkeep. My shooting buddy, BB, got us a great deal on some cannas. The hard freezes we had this past winter did a number on my beautiful orange cannas that fill the north wall of the house. I've been filling in some gaps as I can find cannas, but the large green-leafed orange flowered ones are hard to come by. We decided to add some red flower and yellow flower to the bed (red + yellow = orange!) and I got those planted first thing this morning.

That looked good, and they should fill in nicely.

BB also snagged some red-leafed red flower cannas. I needed those to finish filling in around an oak tree in the front yard. Several years ago, Big John surprised me with building some borders around a tree and another mott of oaks, to give me some places to plant flowers. I just haven't kept up with either one, so it seemed like time to work on those.

Turns out, oak tree roots are impossible to dig through. Big John even brought the tractor around with the post hole digger - but it just wasn't worth the effort. Plan B:

We just added the big red-leafs to the green-leafs and made one big bed of cannas!

And you may notice the fence around them. It seems that cannas are a delicacy in the goose crowd. Sort of like stuffed jalapenos are to us. They'll eat them all day long.

And the flower beds around the oaks - one down and one to go. We're taking them out. I'm not about to fight those roots to plant something the geese will probably eat anyway!

Sunny was excited about the change in landscaping - lots of yummy bugs and grubs to eat!

We also added a palm tree to the scheme! A freebie from BB and his family (BB's mom and I tackle the task of educating 6th graders together,) we planted it beside the outdoor shower - that's the 'tropical' side of the house!

It should look pretty cool once everything greens up and fills in. Our own little paradise in Jackson County!

Friday, April 15, 2011


I caved today. It was really all Big John's idea. He's such a softie at heart.

But really - how can you resist a face like that?

Plus, in a mere 6 months, they'll start laying eggs!

And Lord knows, we'll need the income!

I sure do love my chickens.

Daisy is very glad we got new snacks, I mean chicks. I'm watching her like a hawk.
Like a chicken hawk.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I made a circle through the pasture in front of the house yesterday, looking for dewberries. I found enough to go back to the house for a bowl and a stick. I only picked for a few minutes, and came up with enough for a couple of individual-sized cobblers - just enough for Big John and me!

I don't think we'll get much this year - just not enough rain. The good ones will be early, so this weekend will probably be spent picking dewberries. It must be a sight to behold - a woman with a 'fro and a stick, 3 dogs, 2 geese, and a bob-tail cat. Only in the country!


Blue is still hard at it - watchin' those birds. It must be an exhausting hobby. I don't think he's seen any lately.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I wasn't going to tell you. I really wasn't. It was just going to be our secret - mine and Big John's - because it's kind of embarrassing. Actually, it's down right VERY embarrassing. Because we're headed in the other direction - into the land of one income families; into a belt-tightening, penny-pinching, homegrown goodness kind of lifestyle. Plus, we like to complain about those "kids" and their electronic devices: iPhones, iPads, wii, facebook, and all that stuff. Damn kids. They can't even have a conversation anymore. It's "facebook this" and "texting that." Hmph.

But all that aside...

we did it. We upgraded to iPhones.

Yes, we did. BOTH of us - 'cause that's how we roll. (And we're secretly LOVING it!)

So the reason I'm spilling the beans and confessing our free-spending ways to you is this:

iTunes U!

I just discovered it, and as far as I can tell, it's amazing! It seems to be a collection of lectures, documentaries, classes, lessons on EVERYTHING. And the ones I've browsed through are FREE! (Which is good because of the aforementioned 'one income' thing.)


I'm going to learn it all - cooking, gardening, photography, animal husbandry, Spanish, Mandarin (not really - but maybe that's the way to go nowadays) - heck, I might even go back and brush up on my 6th grade science, social studies, and language arts. I've got the math part down pretty well.

Look out world - I'm all teched out! And I know just enough to be very dangerous!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


A couple of years ago, Big John began working on some metal cutouts. This was undoubtedly a ruse to enable him to purchase a plasma cutter. It worked. I fall for these things all the time. In order to make it up to me, he fashioned this piece - 2 sea trout chasing a soft plastic lure (he had to tell me that part.) He painted it up, showed it off, and it sat in the barn - until today.

I had a bright idea to frame it in barn wood and hang it on a north wall of the house. We whipped out that frame real quick, screwed the art to the frame, and the frame to the wall (and by me, as usual, I mean the artist himself.) It looks amazing - kind of draws your eye away from the recycling containers that live along that wall - doing our part to save the earth!

I've already commissioned several other pieces - lots of walls to fill!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I think we need to call this place Rooster Ranch.

Another rooster - the other survivor from Cloud's hatch last October 30th. I guess this is what happens when you hatch your own.

We're going to name him Dumpling.

And then we might eat him.


Things are happening quickly in the garden! I love springtime! While I was at work one day last week, Big John fenced the new garden space.

This should be enough to keep ALL the animals out - horses, heifers, geese, and chickens. We won't have anybody snacking on our fruit, like they did last year.

On Sunday we made the rows - seven of them in all, with maybe room for one or two more. This was a chore we'd been putting off, for obvious reasons. It was a chore. We each got a hoe, started at opposite ends and worked our way to the middle. It went faster than anticipated, and the best part is - it's done!

We even carved out an aisle for my sunflowers again this year. I've got some packs of seeds left over, but am also going to plant some of the seeds I harvested from the flowers. I'll probably mix them together as I plant, just in case one or the other isn't viable. I loved having fresh sunflower bouquets. I can't wait for them again!

After a long day at school - after-school tutorials are in high gear - I came home to this wonderful sight. Seems Big John had been very, very busy. He planted all but one of the new rows with more squash, tomatoes, okra, colored bell peppers, and jalapenos. We've got one row left for more pickling cukes. He even ran the soaker hoses and watered it in. What a great guy I married!

You may remember last summer, when we had 20 inches of rain, we purchased two water tanks in the hopes of catching rainfall and using it to irrigate. We bought at the right time and filled both tanks on the first day of a huge rain. We've been saving that water ever since. Big John found just the right pump last weekend, came home, and rigged it all up. He started using water in the small tank, and it's working out just right.

We also took care of putting up panels for the climbers - cucumbers and peas. The "peas" were supposed to be okra - but have come up completely differently. We're just guessing that they're peas - whatever they are, they're growing well and vining. I just hope they're delicious!

I also came home to a "gift" from Big John - a composter. I've tried my hand at composting, more times than I'd care to admit. It should be simple: add plant matter, soil, water, heat, and turn. Nature does it's thing and beautiful, rich compost is made. With the hens and heifers eating everything I put in the pile, I just haven't accomplished much. I think Big John has given up on my composting abilities. Now we'll try the commercial version. This goes against everything I believe in and am about to embark upon - doing things the old-fashioned way - but maybe it will give me the head start I've needed. I'll keep you updated. Hopefully, "COMPOST HAPPENS!"

Friday, April 1, 2011


Blue cat has a new hobby.

He spends most of every day in this very spot; minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day; practicing his craft, honing his skills.

He's taken up bird watching!

Last year, two pretty little Eastern Bluebirds made our birdhouse their home and hatched some eggs. They've come back again this year, and are busy building their nest. Blue has taken up residence right underneath - just in case ...

The birds don't really have to worry. Blue's attention span isn't very long. He often forgets, mid-step, where he was going or what he was after. He's fallen asleep under the birdhouse more often than not. The only danger will come once the eggs hatch and the babies try to leave the nest. Maybe by then, Blue will have taken up golf!


Big John found a cool feature on our new cameras - it's a monochromatic feature. It can take an ordinary photo, like this one I took of a peach blossom:

and make it monochromatic, like this sepia version:

So cool!!