Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh, that boy is makin' me gray!

It's 12:15 am, its a cold snowy night, with about 3 inches on the ground already. A heavy snow, it is accumulating quickly. A fire burns in the wood burner and we were all ready to settle in for the night. Josh, out with friends, wasn't deterred in the least by his fender bender last night. In fact he apparently didn't have enough action and just called to let us know that they just rolled his friend's pick-up truck and its in the ditch on its side. I keep telling him he needs to think about us too...he is making me gray. He just laughs. The "mommily" runs through my head....I hope you have 10 sons and they turn out just like you. He laughs off my foolish belief that someone could possibly have gotten hurt.

"Buddy, your girlfriend is going to drop you, she probably isn't too fond of the excitement" I quip over the phone, knowing that she was along both times and is pretty quiet, not one for much of the wild side of life. "Ya, I know, she already said that." he answers back slowly. Wow a teenager with a brain, he should hang on to her. Rather than have us drive out to get him, he has decided to call Becca and spend the night at her place. Seems he left his pick-up at his friend's house and now no way to get home...

We offered to come get him, but he would rather impose on his sister. She is glad to have him since her roommate is out of town for the holiday and she is not fond of being alone. Last time she was out of town, Becca bribed several friends with ice cream and card games to spend the night. She will be glad for his company.

So, we sit and wait for a phone call to let us know they made it back to the apartment safely. I hope Becca doesn't let Josh do the driving...and yes, I hope he really does have 10 sons just like him. But when is life ever fair?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Redneck Santa

The weather has been really nice this week. Ok well, its only Monday, but its been nice since the crazy wind decided to move on. Today it got up to 68 and tomorrow they expect to break the old record of several degrees. The low tomorrow night will be the average high for this time of year, kinda hard to be believe its mid November in the mountains. Thursday will be more seasonal with a high in the 30's and drizzle....yuck, I need to bring in another load of firewood before then.

We got a visit Saturday evening from the Redneck Santa. You know you're a redneck if you consider a freshly shot goose a cool gift. You know you're a redneck if giving gifts of packaged of deer meat excites you. So, Saturday night, our friend Ben shows up at the back door with a rifle over his shoulder, a 17 pound Canadian goose in one hand and a bag full of packaged deer hamburger and steaks in the other. "Hey, its the redneck Santa!" he exclaims proudly as he walks through the door. He smiles, and the excitement of the gifts and twinkle in his eye sets off his boyish charm. He tells the drama of the goose hunt, anxious for us all to experience the thrill. Lifting the invisible rifle he traces a path across the kitchen ceiling and "smacks" the equally invisible goose. "It was too big for Thatcher to retrieve!" he proclaims, eyes wide, his face rugged with stubble.

The deer was one he and his brother had hunted earlier on our place, a nice sized two by two buck. It was his brother Isaac's first deer, a proud moment for both. Isaac, a southern California cop, was in town to hunt and had missed a bigger five by five earlier in the week. He had a fancy scope and yet missed. Upset with himself, he ditched the scope and fell back on his police training. At that, he put the buck down with one shot. Straight through the lungs, it took the shot and immediately fell without a struggle. Em and I helped gut and hose it out, or maybe we just got in the way.

I was excited to get the goose and deer meat. Oh, you thought I meant Ben was the redneck? Ha, I guess we both qualify. The goose is plucked, the down bagged up and ready to put into a quilt or slippers or something. I soaked the bird overnight in saltwater, marinated it all day today and bagged it up. It's vacuum packed and in the freezer along with the deer meat. It'll probably end up on the Christmas Day dinner table. I can't imagine anyone living without a Redneck Santa in their life.

Ben with his deer from last year.

Josh with the Canadian goose. It dressed out almost as big as the turkey I bought for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Blustery Day

Oh bother, its been a rather blustery day. In fact it feels a bit like the 100 acre woods here. A bit of rain and lots of blustery wind all night and all day. It even started on "winds-day." But hopefully, my house wont blow down, and thankfully no Hefalumps and Woozels to steal my honey.

I noticed the deer were very restless yesterday, roaming back and forth unsure of where, or if, to bed down and not too interested in eating. They often would suddenly look up staring motionless for minutes on end, as if catching the sound of a stalking predator. The young bucks and does chased each other around all day. Last time that happened we had a huge wind storm with winds clocked at over 110 mph. So I battened down the hatches here and hoped it wouldn't be too bad. Sure enough about 9:30 last night the wind began to whoosh through the trees on the mountain top. Like the sound of mighty rushing waters, a deafening roar, it's an incredible racket. A sense of restlessness overtakes me. Like the deer, I feel unsettled, edgy, and nervous.

I lay in bed listening to the wind buffet the house, it creaks and groans under the pressure of the gusts. I hear the occasional thud of something blowing across the yard outside the bedroom window. At one point I hear the grill topple and glide across the deck. Then I hear another thud unsure of what object just hit the house, I feel uneasy, wondering what I'll find in the morning. I arose several times and grabbed the binoculars I keep by the window to look out at the animals. The brightness of the full moon illuminated the night, adding to the ominous feelings.

When I was doing chores earlier, my gut said the calf pen would blow over in the night, so before I retired to the warmth and comfort of the house, I shored it up with several heavy rocks, one weighing more than 60 lbs. I thought that ought to hold it...just in case. But I couldn't help but feel it was going to go over.

Finally fatigue won out over fear and I drifted off to sleep, awakened only occasionally by the flight of an object into the back of the house or across the deck.

I awakened in the morning to Em's voice. "Mom, the calves are out, the pen blew over." I jumped up, instantly awake, and pulled my worn leather barn coat on over my flannel PJ's and donned my black rubber boots. The calves were contentedly hovering over the feeder, as if nothing unusual had happened, enjoying the remains of the alfalfa I had placed there the evening before. Josh & I moved them into the chicken run till we could right the pen and repair the section of fence the wind had knocked down.

The calves eyes were watery from the wind, tears running down their faces and bits of alfalfa and dirt stuck to the tears. The wind continued to buffet us and kick up a considerable amount of dust as we worked on the pen and fence. Finally finished we went inside for breakfast. I noticed patches of rock had blown off the driveway leaving only bare, hard-packed dirt. A couple of tree limbs were down, chunks of firewood had blown off the wood pile and into the yard and down into the window well, thankfully the window was intact. It was a doozy of a windstorm.

As I type, the wind is still driving, threatening without words, creating that uneasy feeling inside of me. I hope it decides to settle down soon. They are forecasting snow tonight and highs of 30 tomorrow. Winter in Colorado is upon us.

Taken just two weeks ago. The colors this fall were incredible. Now all is dead, brown and no leaves remain. Amazing what can happen in two weeks. I love the placement of the house, nestled down in the valley. I still feel like I live in a postcard.

Even the grass was beautiful.

A storm approaching from the east. Usually that means snow.

We had a really spectacular fall. Too bad it couldn't last a bit longer.

The full moon last night shrouded by clouds, rising over the mountain top.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Visitors

My apologies for the long absence. I have not been sitting on my butt that's for sure. Some days I wish I could, but too much to do before Old Man Winter shows up for his long annual visit. I felt some things had to be back-burnered for a short time while I took care of necessary duties around here. As much as I love to blog, It was set aside for a while. Hopefully I will have more time to devote to writing now that canning is done, pastures are fenced, tomatoes are dried, wood is chopped, calves are corralled, roosters are butchered, and all those major fall chores are out of the way.

Josh is a senior this year and "Friday nights under the lights" football has been the highlight of each week. This was his first and only year to play. He did well and we are proud of his dedication and efforts to learn a new sport. The high school girls adore him in his uniform and he gets lots of screams and cheers each week from the stands. The team made it to the second round of the playoffs but were beaten by a team that was a conference above them and outweighed them by probably 40 pounds/player. They looked like a small college team. The joke in the stands was that they all must have repeated 5th grade at least 3 times. They were 10-0 compared to our 8-2 and they played like it. Our guys hung on till the 3rd quarter when they just wore down and then...well, lets just say the score was nearly the same as the weight difference.

They played with their whole hearts and coaches and parents alike let them know how proud they were. Their head coach played under Tom Osborne back at Nebraska in the day when they were a legend. He has a lot of the same philosophies and coaching techniques. So, growing up a Cornhusker myself, it is neat to see him get to play under a former Husker.

My niece Jess traveled out from Nebraska to take Josh's senior pics. I'll post some when I get the CD from her. I've got to sit down and figure out which ones I like. She took 279 pictures and about 275 are my favorites. Ya, they really are that good.

We had a wonderful time during her visit. She brought her two young daughters along and they captured my heart. Such sweet, obedient and loving girls, I wish they all could have stayed a month. Steve said he was pretty certain she had to be one of my sisters, not my niece, because she talked, acted and cooked just like one of them. I still have the ditty Morgan repeated all week in my head. In fact Em and I found ourselves chanting it in the car several times today.

"Oooooh mooooorgaaan."
"Whaaaat are you dooooing?"
"Nusseen, nusseen, nusseen at all, they just (insert double tongue click) can't play ball. Cookies, cookies, cookies an cream what's da matto with da udda team? Nusseen, nusseen, nusseen at all, they just (one more time with the double tongue click)can't play ball."

We could have used her down on the sidelines at the ball game this weekend. I see pom poms in her future. The song is forever stuck in our heads, indelibly inked into our gray matter, coming out of our mouths at the most random of times.

Hannah loved to gather eggs. She had to check ten times a day. I wish I could have tucked a hen into her suitcase, a gift from Aunt Denise. :o) She was intrigued by the many colors of brown, green and blue eggs and not really understanding the whole process, tried to figure out which ones had chicks in them. She figured since there was a daddy and a mom, there must be chicks inside. I was gifted many coloring book pictures to adorn my fridge. Oh I miss the days of simple understanding, funny questions, and artwork decorating the kitchen.

The pictures Jess took came out great in spite of the cruddy weather. The sun ran and hid at their coming and came out again on their way back to the airport. I told her that just means they have to come visit again. They left seventy degree weather to come and experience a cold, foggy, snowy weekend.

One evening, she treated us to a huge pan of the most incredible home-made lasagna I think I've ever tasted. I have to admit it was better than mine. We savored every bite and there was enough left over for a few more meals. Such a nice treat to not have to cook. And the garlic tomato bread was out of this world. I'll never be able to make plain old garlic cheese bread again, It no longer exists in our house or our vocabulary. It has to be the garlic, cheese, TOMATO bread. I so wished they lived closer, we had such a wonderful time together. I was sad to see them go, but I guess her husband deserves them close by more than I do.

We made a trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park one afternoon and the misty fog had frozen on the trees making for the most magical of experiences. It was surreal, like a magical fairy tale land. We went up to Bear Lake and the fog was rolling off the lake while the trees were flocked and powdery snow gently wafted through the air. A holy hush fell over all who wandered up to the lake...well until we arrived. It was as if we were given a gift, a rare opportunity to experience a piece of heaven here on earth. I'll never forget the feeling of being there, it was like time had stopped, no one wanted to leave we all just wanted to stand and stare at the incredible beauty. It's so like God to take seemingly disappointing circumstances and turn them in to a rare glimpse of His beauty. When we take time to really stop and seek it out in spite of the crud that often surrounds us.

I can't wait to choose pictures and get them in my hands and out again to family and friends. Em has already made it clear that she want Jess to come and do her senior pictures as well. How is that for planning ahead!

Hannah and Morgan at Bear Lake.

Wouldn't it make a great puzzle for a cold, snowy winter's day? A cup of hot cocoa in hand, seasoned with a peppermint stick and a cozy fire dancing in the fireplace. Be sure you click on it and open it up to full size. You'll notice people on the far shore line...they look like ants. It really puts things into perspective.

We happened upon a nice bull elk in the park. The elk were in rutt and he was bugling.

The fog rolling off Bear Lake. I'll never forget how incredible it was. So glad we took the time to go even though, with the cruddy weather, we though it was going to be a waste of time.

Morgan checking out the snowflakes.

Josh at Bear Lake. Posing for a senior picture. He was so cold. I think Jess had to photoshop the red out of his cheeks and nose.

My handsome boy, #5. On the sideline waiting for an opportunity to go in again.

Josh on special teams, blocking on the kick off. He played wide reciever on the offense as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Old Man Winter has raised his head, we got a dusting of snow overnight Sunday. I've been working at getting things ready for the change of seasons here. All I can say is busy, busy, busy. So, I hate to admit, but this is about 10 blog entries rolled into one. I've had a few inquiries as to my whereabouts, I'm wondering if raising teenagers is considered a medical condition...I'm pretty certain it qualifies as a mental condition. So, I have lots to blame my absence on.

Ben and Jerry have grown a good 5 inches already. They are on alfalfa and grains as well as their bottles and are doing great. They both had scours at first, but after administering each a shot of antibiotic, they have done well. Jerry had a cough for a while and a bit of a rattle in his lungs, so I got another shot ready, but while waiting for Josh to have time to hold him down so I could give it, his symptoms seem to have cleared up.

Clover has moved on, she has a new chapter to write in her own life. The Craigslist ad finally worked and I bartered her to a goat dairy for a nice fence charger and $50 cash. I looked on line and the charger is new enough to still be available and sells for $90. The next day I exchanged the $50 for 2 bags of feed and 4 waterers from another Craigslister. I will sell 2 of the waterers this spring when somebody out there will be setting up their chicken operation and will need them. I think I did pretty good overall. I'm glad to see her gone. I traded Belle along with her, as her personality was just like her momma.

I've been working on canning and getting the garden out and processed before the frost. Everything did well, the potatoes put on a lot of nice sized tubers, the tomatoes ended up yielding over 60 quarts of red and about 100 lbs of green that are currently sitting on my living room floor ripening.

I had the opportunity to go to a u-pick-it place and for $10 got all the produce I could haul off. I spent a good 4 hours picking and bagging up stuff. Then another 2 days processing and canning it. I was able to add another 10 quarts of tomatoes as well as 50 lbs potatoes, 50 lbs of onions, green beans, watermelon, shallots, carrots, herbs, sweet corn, Indian corn, popcorn, squash, peppers and a few other things. With some of the tomatoes I got, I made and froze chili and spaghetti sauce, 7 meals of each.

Last year I looked everywhere for elderberries and this year I found some just down the road from us. I was able to pick two full boxes before the frost and made 7 quarts of jelly and 2 quarts of pancake syrup this week. The owner invited me to come earlier next year and pick grapes as well, hot dog! They also have hops, but since I don't make or drink beer I'll probably pass. Guess I could box them up and send 'em off to dad. Now that we've had a nice frost, I need to go back to the place I hit up for apples last year and get more. I canned some applesauce this fall already, but not enough to suit my need.

I had company visit as well, but they deserve a blog entry of their own, so look for that soon.

My U-pick-it haul. it was a blessing to be able to add to my store here, but oh the work! All this for $10, what a score. Thanks Lord! If you click on the picture, it should enlarge enough to see all the stuff.

Elderberries, off the stem and ready to be cooked down to juice. this is a 10 quart pot, and I have enough left to dry and use in muffins all winter.

The green tomatoes I saved from the frost. Some cherry/grape tomatoes as well as Roma and the usual big round kind.

A dusting of snow on the broody hen house.

Snow on a thistle, so pretty.

Snow dusting the trees on the mountain top.

Digging potatoes from the garden. Weird, but it reminds me of Mr. Potato Head.

These all came from one plant. A pretty nice harvest.

Coming out by the bucket full.

Potatoes from the U-pick-it in the laundry room, that's about half of what I got.

Some of my canned items. Tomatoes -I'm up to 70 quarts so far. Elderberry jelly, green & wax beans (I froze the ones from my garden), carrots and a small portion of 50 lbs of wheat jarred up ready to be ground in to bread and muffins, yum! I just love all the colors, absloutely beautiful.

The rest of the tomatoes -hopefully were ready for winter. Applesauce is in the bottom right corner of the picture.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ben & Jerry, our latest additions to the menagerie

I was perusing The Fence Post's on-line adds and ran across some Holstein bull calves for sale just a half hour down the road from us. I've bought my first calf when I was 9 years old with money I earned hoeing beans for neighboring farmers and by the time I graduated high school had a small herd that I used to pay for college. I love cows and wanted some calves since the day I left home. So, we have two more mouths to feed here. They were 50 bucks apiece and were just 2 days old. They are big boys, both weighing in at about 100 lbs each. I've never seen such a huge milking operation, he must have had at least 2000 head of cattle. He had a gal coming from Nebraska to buy 20 bull calves the day after I got mine.

Ben is the bigger of the two with lots of color and Jerry, the smaller, has a triangle on his forehead and a number 3 on his side. I assume he must be the brainy math type. I plan to get Ben a girlfriend and Jerry, well, lets just say unless he does some serious growing and passes Ben up soon he will be fixed and in service business when he's big enough. They are both still quite wobbly on their feet stumbling and bumbling around the barnyard. Jerry seems to have a slight cough and a bit of scours. I've got him on electrolytes with psyllium husk along with his milk, and he seems to be doing much better this afternoon. He was a bit lethargic the first couple of days. I may pop into the feed store for some antibiotic if his cough isn't better soon.

To say the goats are terrified is an understatement. The calves of course are oblivious to it all, but the goats are sure Ben & Jerry's sole purpose in life must be to eat them. They wouldn't come out of the barn the whole first day, eyes wide with terror they banged around in the barn scaring the chicken half out of their wits as well. They were constantly peering out the window or open door. I think things have finally calmed down a bit, but they still wont get within 10 feet of the calves. Every night I have a hard time getting the goats to go into the barn, they seem sure Ben or Jerry are lurking in the shadows, like a kid afraid of the boogy man under the bed.

When we lived in Tulsa, I purchased a carved wooden cow as a decoration to put atop the cabinets and told the kids when they got home from school that I had bought a cow. They immediately dropped their books and darted out into the back yard expecting to see a real live animal, exclaiming "Oh cool!!!!" as they ran through the open door. I still chuckle at that one, but they wouldn't put it past me, they do know their mother. Now finally I have the real thing.

Last week I sold 10 chicks for $40 and some eggs for $10, so that paid for the one calf. I have another order for 10 chicks and will be selling eggs this week, so there is the other $50. I'm trying hard to make my hobby pay for itself, so far so good.

I forgot how good milk replacer smells. Just think vanilla cake mix. I did my research and found out that mixing it half and half with raw goat milk is beneficial for them. And, it cuts the cost of replacer in half, so that's what I've been doing.

The garden is still producing wonderfully. I have lots of tomatoes, but not enough to satisfy my expected use till next harvest. I picked 31 lbs today. Some are ripe enough to can, but I'm going to wait a few more days so I have a decent batch. For all the work, I hate doing 4 or 5 quarts at a time. I'd rather do a whole bunch at once. My goal is to have 100 quarts total, figuring about 2 quarts a week, for stuff like spaghetti and chili. Not sure I have that many out in the garden, but its better than nothing and there's always next year. I plan to double up on a lot of stuff.

I just finished bottle feeding them both. They seem to have a high degree of certainty that there is more milk available...somewhere.

Jerry the math nerd, with a #3 on his side and a triangle on his forehead.

Jerry again. He is the smaller of the two.

Big Ben. He's so heavy Josh couldn't even lift him. Plan to get that boy a girlfriend. Probably a Jersey. They are smaller and have a mellow personality. They also have a very high butter fat content.

Cheddar checking the boys out from the safety of the coop, terror in her eyes. The other goats were afraid to look, let alone come out.

Belle my littlest baby goat, she is so cute....and ornery, she will come out to face the giants.

Today's harvest and in the background the tomatoes I've canned so far. Hope they keep producing, I've got a ways to go to reach my goal. The flowers on the left, Becca picked from around the yard. I've got about this many more tomatoes in the garden just a shade or two lighter than these. And, bunches of green tomatoes....please no frost yet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stop the world and let me off

Well, its been a busy couple of weeks. I'm ready for the world to stop spinning, I just want off long enough to catch my breath. I have a feeling that things will continue to spin no matter how strongly I want a break. Ah, such is life.

Josh's hand is healing up nicely. He has ditched his splint and is anxious to get back to playing football. He has an appointment this week and will probably get the okay from the Dr to get back into his usual activities. The Doc we saw was an army medic with years of combat medical experience. He feels that unless its been completely blown or torn off, its really not that bad. He said he wouldn't cast it unless the bones were at a 90 degree angle, and anything less than 45 degrees will take care of itself. He was a bit scary, thinking the fiberglass splint the ER put on was pretty cool, and repeatedly commenting that he had never seen anything like that. I guess after raising Josh, we've seen all sorts of things related to broken bones and ERs. None of it is very cool to me, I simply see money flying out of my checking account, which is never a cool thing in my eyes.

Mom & Dad's visit was great. I so enjoyed myself. I hope they had as good a time as I did. We went up to Estes for lunch one day and putzed around a lot the rest of the week. Mom found a feather bed on Craigslist, so we went out and snatched that up. Its a true featherbed, and in perfect condition. What a find, thanks mom! I also found an air hockey table. It had a broken switch, but hey for free. I went out to the electronic store and for 6.00 we now have a fully functioning game. It came from a frat house at the nearby college. You'd think if I could figure out what was wrong with it, they certainly could. Oh well.

We also tried my home made goat cheese. Not sure that passed. The first attempt at cheese was a little lame, but the second and third rounds turned out pretty good in my eyes. More like a grating cheese. Next time I will try adding some cow milk or cream. Like I said cheese making is really an art. Guess my home made cheese comes off the Christmas list for them.

I've been canning applesauce and tomatoes. I found an elderberry bush down the road so hope to snag some of those and make some syrup and jelly too. Not sure that will happen, but maybe even just juice them out for now and complete the project another day.

Steve got back Friday afternoon from two weeks in China. Nice to have him back. I get a little tired of being a part-time single mom. He always stops in San Fran and picks me up a yummy treat at the airport. It just about makes up for two weeks away.

We took the kids up to Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. Man was it crowded! Seemed like everyone was getting in the last trip of the season. This is the time of year I like to start going. The trees are just starting to turn and the air is so crisp. We hiked up to several lakes including Nymph, Dream and Emerald as well as Bear lake which is not really a hike, being just a few hundred feet from the parking lot.

We took a Colorado quarter along and spotted the site that is printed on the back. Its the back side of Long's Peak the perspective being from the North end of Bear Lake.

The air hockey table. Josh wanted it in his room. He & Em have been playing it for hours on end. I heard lots of puck banging and giggles all weekend. And to think he just cleaned his room.

So pretty. Snow on the higher parts and elk in the meadow.

Bear Lake, with Long's Peak in the background. Its on the back of the Colorado quarter.

The quarter

Another real-life view of the back of the quarter.

One more view. Okay, I'll stop. But its just so pretty. Longs peak is 14259 ft in elevation.

A bear we saw while hiking. He was enjoying a bit of honey and seemed oblivious to the bees swarming around. I was only able to get one picture then my battery went dead, go figure. Steve wants to buy me a really nice camera, the one I use is only 3 mega pixel and is almost 10 years old. I've put him off so far, but when I miss a good shot, i begin to think about taking him up on it.

Nymph lake. I noticed some beetle kill in the trees. Hopefully it can be contained before it devastates the forests up there.

Mom, Dad and me. We had a great time.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The KHM Crusade Team, hospital visits and a broken bone

The bus at the end of the pavement. Getting ready to head back into town.

Well, its been a busy couple of weeks. Just when I get on a roll with the blogging along comes a period of business. Thankfully, the Crusade Team visit, hospital visits and broken bone are all unrelated events. But, all have kept me busy.

The Hagins and the crusade team were in town. Wow, what a great time!! It was such a blessing to make the meetings and visit with Pastor and Lynette and some old friends from Tulsa. We invited the team out to the house for a cook out and were so excited to have them take us up on the offer. I think including us we had about 20-25 total. They had to park the bus at the bottom of the mountain and take cars up. I parked the van down there in the morning, drove the truck and Steve had the jeep. Rich had his rental car and the pilots Dave and Scott drove themselves as well. Dave used to live in Omaha, just a stone's throw from Steve's folks. I worked with his wife many years back when we both worked at the ministry. Between all the vehicles we had plenty of room for everyone. Some of the younger ones had a blast riding in the back of the pick-up, snapping pictures and pointing every which way as we went up the mountain. We saw a bunch of deer on the way back down, including a nice 5 point buck who posed for the camera and a couple of fawns.

Everyone had a great time, snapping lots of pictures and hiking up the peaks on our property. When they saw the gun we keep just inside the door, a few of the younger guys wanted to do some target shooting, but with so many people outside hiking and stuff that wasn't happening. A couple of them hung out with the animals and passed around a newly hatched chick. I forgot to get pictures till the end when the bus was pulling out, so I only have one that I snapped with Em's cell phone. Hopefully they will update their blog with some pictures. We grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts, along with some potato salad, baked beans, watermelon, veggies, chips, muffins, and plenty of desserts! Yum! We already have a couple of the team that have "booked" vacation time with us next summer. I'm so looking forward to that!

The day of the cook out I got a call that Dad was in the hospital. Not good news for sure. I was pretty worried about him, but he is doing well now and is out and back to normal pretty much. In fact, he & Mom are flying in on Tuesday for a visit! I'm so pumped! Can't wait to show them all I've gotten done in the past year around here.

Thursday evening Josh broke a bone in his hand. I'd like to say it was something exciting, a football injury or something equally cool, but its a boxer's fracture. Hand vs board, board won. It required a trip to the ER. Let's just say Mama wasn't happy. All the urgent cares seemed to close around 7, so we got our first experience at the ER here. They marvelled that he was 18 and this was his first visit. We laughed and explained we had only lived here a year, this was his 7th visit to an ER, we thought. We've lost track now, but this is his 3rd broken bone. Boys, sheesh! Good thing it's not his dominant hand, he can still do his homework! However football is out for a while, bummer.

They splinted it with a fiberglass half-cast and sent us on our way. I was impressed with the whole process, we got into a room in less than 5 minutes and were in and out in less than 90. 24 private ER rooms, with a nice flat screen TV in each and x-ray just around the corner made for a nice visit. We were the only ones there for most of the time.

Hopefully the next couple of weeks will be less exciting. I'm ready for a full night's sleep.

Josh's x-ray. His 5th metacarpal bone is angulated about 40 degrees. I heard him mumbling under his breath a couple of times "that was stuuuupid." I can't remember if that was before or after he passed out from the pain.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Changing of Seasons

Two weeks ago we were at almost 100 degrees. The airport was at 104 and had been over 90 degrees for 23 consecutive days breaking the old record of 18 days set back in the late 1800's. Saturday night it snowed in the high country. Just 10 miles or so from us they got 6-10 inches. Seems there is change in the air. Damp chilly mornings are becoming more common. we didn't even get out of the 40's for the past three days, till today when it warmed up nicely.

The kids started back to school today. It seemed so quiet here. I really enjoy having them home over the summer. I was a bit lost, my routine out of kilter. I think it will be a good year for Emily. She was dreading going back, insisting that this was going to be "the worst year ever." However she doesn't have a first hour class, has study hall second hour, has PE with her best friend, has her favorite teacher once again this year and has a bunch of new teacher all of which "are really nice." So, it seems we are off to a good start. She had a hard time adjusting last year, going from a class of 1600 to a class of 55, and has been pestering me to home school this year. When she finished telling me about the first day, I asked if she wanted to be home schooled and her response was a quick and solid "noooo!"

Josh is still out, so I don't know how the day went. He had a scrimmage, then BBQ and team captain voting, then off to Wal-mart to sell restaurant incentive cards to help pay for football equipment. Mom & Dad are coming to visit the first week in September, I'm looking forward to us all watching him play.

The garden is doing nicely, we've enjoyed our first bacon & tomato sandwiches. I bought 6 lbs of bacon a couple weeks back in anticipation. I remember enjoying them all summer long as a kid and could still live on them. Its just not summer with out a good bacon & tomato sandwich. I see I'll be making lots of zucchini bread too.

I got the hook up from Craigslist for apples this fall, all we can use. I'm looking forward to applesauce, apple pies, apple strudel.... I missed the harvest last year. I thought I had discovered an apple tree on the property here this spring, but after hiking down the other day to take a look, it turned out to be a full sized plum tree with just a few plums, oh well. I hope to plant some fruit trees in the next year or two as well as some sugar maples to tap. We had two maples when we lived in the city and we used to tap them and make maple syrup and hard maple candy. I miss that and had hoped to get some trees in this spring. For sure next year. I did get a few from Mom & Dad's place when we were back in Nebraska over the 4th. Three are doing very well, as are the two walnut trees we dug up. However they are a mere 3-4" tall. Guess any way I look at it, I'm a years away from reaping.

I candled the eggs tonight and made a movie, hopefully you can make out the little chick moving around in the egg. The chick has been 7 days in the incubator, 14 days to go.

Em holding one of 5 "zucchini on steroids" from the garden. Well, ya see it rained for 3 days straight and I didn't check the garden and when I finally did, well, you know.....

The peas were almost as big around as a quarter, and oh so sweet! Em & I snacked on them while watching the olympics.

Some of the smaller zucchini from the garden harvested several days back. Grilled, topped with goat cheese and dried herbs from the garden, looks delicious!

The homemade ravioli I mentioned a few posts back. It turned out great!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Broody Hen House

Several of my hens have decided to go broody lately. I had 4 in the coop that were pretty cranky when ever I approached. Kinda cuts into the egg business when all the hens start laying in the broodys' boxes, so I fashioned a separate hen house for them and moved them out. I probably lost a couple chicks in the process, but overall It was a good move. Over time I will have more success and lose less than I would with them in the coop. I have 2 hens that have hatched out their clutches since the move, and two more to go.

I picked up this doghouse from Craigslist at no cost, made a door for it from some lumber I had laying around and added a lock and trim. It's 4x4...must have been a pretty big dog! Its heavy as all get out, but Josh & I managed to carry it out of the yard and lift it onto the bed of the truck, dumping it off at home was the easy part. I didn't have any hinges laying around, so I used some pieces of strapping instead. The hens love it.

I put a couple of eye screws into the door and side, a bungee between the two holds the door open during the day.

My nesting boxes: an empty speaker box, problem is the eggs seem to roll out kind of easily. A cardboard box, the envy of all the hens, and a kitty litter box on its end. That one got rejected by all, seems on the floor in the corner was better, oh well. Need to put some more of those cool cardboard boxes in next time!

I've also got eggs in the incubator again. I had a request from the person that bought one of my roosters to hatch them out a batch of chicks. I just candled a few and they seem to be doing well. The embryo looks like a spider, with the chick body curled in the center and veins radiating out from there. I tried to photograph it, not sure how it will show up.

Hope it shows up when clicked on, the chick is in the top right. Its just been in the incubator 4 days now. Set to hatch out on 9/2.

At $4 each, I'll make $48 for a dozen eggs. I would like to expand my chick business at some point. It would be nice to make a little extra money each spring...or even year round. At the current $3/dozen I sell them for, I am barely covering the cost of my feed. Once I process this years roos I'll be a little bit ahead. I've got a few customers who pay me $12 each for a processed chicken. When I really look at it, its a lot of work for the money, but it makes our eggs and processed birds free and a little cash to spare. The best part is that they're so fun to have around.

Em & I made some root beer today, it takes a week to ferment and become carbonated. I'll let you know how it turned out. If its good I'll make some for when Mom & Dad come to visit in a couple weeks, that and some home made ice cream...can you say root beer floats? YUM!! I'm drooling already. The alcohol content is low, between .35 and .5%. Compared to 6% for a beer, it would take about 1.5 gallons to equal a 12 oz. beer, so in that respect its pretty negligible. If my next blog enrty resembles a drunken dyslexic you'll know something went wrong.