Monday, December 31, 2012


It has been a busy Christmas vacation for Big John. The to-do list was quite long, but job number 1 was rebuilding the small quail pen ... until my washing machine went out.

We did manage to get the quail pen done though. It was a priority because we had about 500 six-week old Georgia Giant bob whites in our neighbor's brood house, and they needed to be moved. These are quail we hatched from ordered eggs, and they will become our breeder birds for Georgia Giants this spring.

The old quail pen, made out of PVC, needed to be enlarged and didn't look that good anyway. We added 8 feet to the width and replaced the PVC with treated posts. It looks much better now, and the birds have almost twice the space.

Yesterday morning, we spent an hour and a half catching the new birds and bringing them home. It's pretty tricky combining birds with ones that are already established in a pen. This pen previously housed about 50 - a mix of Georgia Giants, native bob whites and a few Mexican Speckled quail. We'd closed them up in the shed during the 3 days it took us to rebuild. We'd hoped that releasing them into a "new" flight pen with the babies and being outnumbered 9 to 1 would eliminate any territorial behavior. But it didn't. We've only lost 5 of the new birds so far. Hopefully they will all learn to get along.

Our next quail plans will include replacing the other PVC pen 


and building a shed and flight pen between the two to house chukar.

That will probably be on the list for Big John's next "vacation!"

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Big John's quail business is fixing to hit the big time! A couple of weeks ago, he got an order for birds to be hunted on a TV show! Woo Hoo!

I managed to worm my way into the delivery position (gearing up for my TV debut) and delivered 100 birds to our buyer:

The delivery was made, and our birds were loaded on top of some world-class bird dogs and next to chukars that were also going to be hunted. 

I didn't make it onto the show (this time) even though I was wearing my new snake boots. However, we're working on a deal for next year. I think I'll make my cameo appearance part of the package!

**as soon as I find out when the show airs, I'll let you know**


The children were nestled
All snug in their beds
While visions of sugarplums
Danced in their heads...


Big John and I got home Sunday evening from a quick, but wonderful, trip to visit family in the Big D. While I was out doing chores, Big John started some laundry ... and discovered my washing machine was leaking ... and had been for quite some time. So instead of visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, I was coming to grips with having to buy a new washing machine (and matching dryer), taking up the molded and mildewed subfloor, and forging ahead with a quick and total remodel of the laundry room. This little chore was NOT in the Christmas budget, nor on the Christmas vacation to-do list. Bah humbug.

We found a nice set on sale at Lowe's and hauled it home - along with lumber for the quail pen redo that was originally scheduled for this week.

(Yes, I know they are sideways. Just ignore that fact.)

We managed to get the old machines out, the wet, moldy subfloor removed, and most of the shelving out on Christmas Eve. I kept wishing Santa and his elves would show up the finish the job, but he must have run out of time during the night!

Here's how the demolished laundry room looked bright and early this Christmas morning:

Apparently, the previous remodel was done during my "orange phase."

10 hours later, here's where we stand:

New subfloor put in, walls recovered in beadboard, and first step of paint treatment completed. We'll hit it again bright and early tomorrow morning. Maybe I can wash clothes by Thursday! Woo Hoo - never thought I'd be this excited to do laundry!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


This weekend, Big John started on one of the last jobs in the building - installing my antique sink in the craft room. A couple of months ago, a friend and I went "treasure hunting" and I came home with the sink of my dreams.

It's been sitting outside by the outdoor shower ever since I brought it home, just waiting to be installed. And I was getting really tired of looking at it out there. I'd ordered and received a custom counter top

so Big John got to work on building the cabinet base. Here it is, in stages:

The cabinet base will be clad in barnwood with two doors and the sink on the right end. We need to get a few more plumbing supplies and hope to get it finished up during the week.


Gingham - ready for Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

GINGHAM (my next ride!)

The most recent addition to the farm: 6 month old Gingham, my Longhorn steer!

Gingham came from some local breeders, my good friend Kristi and her husband. I've wanted a Longhorn steer for quite some time, and Kristi happened to have a calf for sale. They weaned him, cut him, and halter broke him for me, and he's adjusting pretty well to life at our house.

Gingham and I work on leading every day. He's getting much better at it - thankfully, while he's still young enough for me to drag. If weather permits this weekend, we'll try talking a walk in the trap. I'll need Big John there to walk behind and keep him moving (or to grab on to the end of the lead rope when he tries to run off!)

My plan for Gingham is to break him to ride. We may be the next big thing!


I've been having trouble getting pictures to load on the blog, so this news has been delayed:


About 3 weeks ago, we went from a 4-vehicle/no car payment family to "Susie's got a new truck!" Woo Hoo!! I traded in the old pickup and my beloved (and constantly-breaking-down) Jeep for this beauty. It's a 2013 Chevy Silverado, 3/4 ton short bed, loaded! I added replacement bumpers - front and back, a bedliner, and a tool box. I've decided to get fender flares put on, and then I'll be done - except for those pesky car payments!

The new pickup was ready in time for the post-Thanksgiving trip to Arkansas, so it's been broken in pretty well. And I LOVE it! I'm not sure if this is the next mid-life crisis (that's what I blamed the Jeep on) or if it's just more economical not to have to register and insure 4 vehicles. But either way, I'm a happy girl!

Keep an eye out for me in my new ride - and wave if you see me!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Today we released our last hatch of bobwhites out by the windmill.

They were six weeks old, and had pretty much outgrown their home in the brood room - which they've been sharing with about 20 coturnix.

We drove them out to the windmill and opened the cage.

We had to shoo these last three out of the cage. They were very reluctant to leave.

And then all of a sudden, they all took flight!! What a sight to see!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


My "new" sewing machine - a 1963 Singer Touch & Sew! Isn't it a beauty? I found this at an estate sale in Baytown last week, but had to wait until yesterday to get over there. I kept tabs on the sale all weekend, making sure it hadn't sold. And as an extra bonus, yesterday was 1/2 off day! I am so excited to have found this amazing machine. All the pieces to the craft room puzzle are falling into place!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


We've been waiting on a shipment of coated chicken wire for some time now - we use it on the quail pens to keep varmints out. I've needed a run for my peafowl, and Big John suggested we use the same wire for it.

But today, I could wait no longer ... I opened the door to the pea pen and set them free!

Beauty immediately flew to the patio roof.

Bo followed right behind her and made it to the top of the goose pen. Then he jumped into the ash tree beside it.

It was quite a sight to see those big birds take flight! I just hope they'll come back down.

The two young peas are being a little more cautious and hanging around the pen. I'm sure they'll head somewhere high before too long!

Ahhh, sweet freedom!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I've been waiting and waiting, and yesterday I finally found it!
The first Ameracauna egg has arrived! Isn't nature amazing?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


OH MY GOSH - a dream come true!!
Look what's sitting in our trap right now...

This is a gently-used  Kubota 95 hp tractor - with a CAB, and RADIO, and AIR CONDITIONING!
And a front-end loader.

Isn't this a thing of beauty?

So I've gone from shredding with this:

6 feet at a time.
To this:

15 feet at a time.
That's 2 1/2 times more with each pass than the old shredder.
I'll be finished in no time!
What will I do with all this free time?!



Originally, this area in front of the building was going to be my herb bed. Big John helped me line it out and put in the edging. I added lots of compost and had the chickens help me till it in. But it just wasn't wide enough to hold the herbs I wanted to plant. So I changed the plan and made this a flower bed - problem solved!

I spent today adding more material and planting. I can grow vegetables pretty well, but I'm notoriously bad with flowers. The fact that I have free-range chickens and geese doesn't help the situation. Over the years, I've come to know which flowering plants geese don't eat. Plumbago seems to do well in the heat and without constant watering, and the geese won't eat it. I decided to alternate plumbago with a pretty yellow-flowering plant that I can't remember the name of - hopefully geese won't eat it either!

I'm happy with the finished product - the flowers dress it up quite a bit. There will probably be a pretty little fence installed (as soon as I find one) to keep the dogs from wallowing in the cool dirt. And there might be more beds along the north and east sides in the future ... in the distant future!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


One year ago today, we began construction on the building to house a commercial kitchen, studio, and workshop.

What started out as this:

evolved into this:

then this:

and now looks like this:

What a difference a year makes!! Big John worked his tail off almost every spare minute he had. I can't count how many fishing trips he passed up - just to make my dream come true. What a great husband he is! We are both pretty happy to be just about finished. We love working on projects, but this one has been a killer.

I've started moving things into the kitchen and studio.

I still need some shelving in the kitchen, but other than that, it's good to go. In the studio, we're waiting on a countertop to come in that will go along the north wall. Under the south wall, Big John is going to build a cabinet to house this treasure of an old sink I found.

It still needs a little cleanup, but that's probably about as good as it's going to get. It's a good thing 'perfection' isn't the look I'm after! This beauty is exactly what I was looking for. In fact, we found the same sink in the restaurant where we bought the vent hood and Vulcan stove - but it wasn't for sale, no matter how hard I tried. A couple of weeks later, I ran across this one - for free! Right place/right time!

This weekend we hope to get the lattice put up around the building, to keep the chickens out of their favorite daytime napping spot. Then I can continue work on the herb bed along the porch. 

Big John's workshop is completely finished, with just a few things that still need to be put away. We've been able to use it to complete the trim work in the studio, and it's a really nice space. With the building project winding down, maybe he'll actually get a chance to enjoy it!

I hope you enjoyed the look back at our "little" building project. It's been fun!