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Archive for April, 2011


Yep.  I confess.  I did it again.  I really had no intention of doing it again, given my track record, but I simply could not help myself. I figure, hey, I got permission, right? So now at least I know I am not in this alone- I have an enabler.  😀

Chicken Math strikes again.  I got more chicks! 😆

Tuesday, I decided to head to Tractor Supply. Hunny had gotten me “chick starter kit.”  The feeder that came in that set was not the kind I had in mind, but thought I’d give it a try and see how it went.  Butternut had gotten her foot caught, and flopped out backwards.  Had this happened slightly to the left, she could have landed in the water and drowned.

After the foot incident, I decided I should try the other feeder. It didn’t even occur to me that it was Tuesday. Tuesdays are the days here when my TSC gets the new batch of chicks during chick days. Normally I have things to do Tuesday afternoons, but since it was the week after Easter, we had the week off.

Can you see me drooling over the chicks down there?  😆  I spent a good bit of time looking at them. Earlier, I had decided that I wouldn’t get my chicks there, because they didn’t know what breeds they were, and I had some specific breeds in mind. As it turns out, they had some chicks there the likes of which I didn’t have already.  And they were cute.  REALLY cute.  😆

I also spent a good bit of time talking with one of the girls who was working there that afternoon.  I told her I had more chicks on order, and really could not take another 6. She was wanting more chicks, but not another 6 as well. We were able to split the 6; she getting 3 and me getting 3. (disclaimer:  normally, TSC won’t let you do this, BUT, they know me down there, and they know I already have chicks.  They know that I am not getting them for Easter gifts for my kiddos, and that I’m adding to an existing flock.  ;))

I called Hunny – well, my dd called Hunny because I was scared 😆 – and then she turned the phone over to me.  I presented my case, and he agreed! It was my lucky day! 

I got one more EE, to keep things balanced, in addition to two others that they aren’t sure of breed.  We think one is a Black Minorca and the other is a Dominique.  I am not sure on the Black Minorca, mostly because the feathers coming in are white-ish, but we’ll have to wait a few weeks and see.  I am hoping (again) that they are all girls. There’s another very nice girl working there who said that in the event I end up with a boy, she will re-home him to her nephew’s farm.  I feel much better having an “out.”

If you able to identify Jasmine, please leave me a comment! 

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Yes, it’s true.  There is such a thing as chicken math, and I have completely fallen victim to it.  😉

I can’t say enough how much we loooooooooooovvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeee  ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ our chicks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Friday, Hunny had decided thy weren’t as dumb as he thought they would be, and was carrying them around the house. He also agreed that getting a few more wouldn’t be a big deal.  😆  Since I had only gotten 1 Barred Rock (BR) (Rocky) and 1 Buff Orpington (BO) (Butternut) and thought they were awesome, the initial plan was to get 1 more of each.

But then I got to thinking (and this is where the chicken math kicks in 😀 ), that K had gotten a Producing Red (which is an mix, as I understand it, between a Rhode Island Red and a New Hampshire Red) and it was cute and friendly. So now I want one, too.  😆 

Since the red lays brown eggs and is a higher egg producing hen than my Easter Eggers (EEs) (which lay blue/green varitey eggs), combined with my BR and BO, who will also both lay brown eggs and are higher producing egg laying birds, I figured I should also get another EE to balance things out.  😆  (EEs are the hatchery version of the Ameraucanas. When doing research, it seems that if it comes from a hatchery, it is an EE, but is wrongly tagged as the Ameraucanas.  While it carries the blue egg gene, it is not true to the breed.  Knowlegeable chicken folks will tell you that if you want *real* Ameraucanas, which are rare, you need to find an approved breeder.)

Down to the livestock store I went, getting there bright and early by 7 am, hoping they had some left. Well, shucks, they had sold out all 1,5000 chicks by 2 pm Friday, the first day the sale “officially” started.  “You can order them,” I was told.  Because there were others ordering as well, it was not a problem for me to have a total order of 4 chicks;  1 of each different breed.  Yippee!!

Now, if you have researched getting chicks, you will know that hatcheries have a minimum order (mostly because chicks need to stay warm during shipping, although there are some that will ship lower numbers but charge you significantly more).  Tractor Supply (TSC) has a minimum order of 25 chicks total, although you can mix breeds in increments of 5.

To bring them home from TSC, I would need to get 6. I had been to my local TSC on Thursday, and they had some chicks.  Problem was, they only had a straight run (which means boys and girls) and they had no idea what was in the tank.  Interestingly, both TSC and the livestock and feed store get their chicks from the same hatchery.  Why one place knows what they are getting and the other one doesn’t is a mystery to me.

But I digress.  🙂

So, ordering from the feed store made sense to me.  My question was, what kind of time frame are we looking at?  When I had gone online at the hatchery early in the season, everything I wanted wasn’t going to be available until May at the earliest, and since I hadn’t ordered then, it seemed to me (without checking, of course) that a new order would be even later in the season.

This would mean that I would have two set of chicks that were very different ages, which would necessitate a second brooder and worries about integrating “flocks.” After talking to the folks at the store, though, they seemed pretty certain that they would get all the other ordered chicks in about two weeks, based on years past. I couldn’t help myself, and took the plunge.  😆

Now that a few days have passed, I figure, even if it takes longer for them to get here, I would not be too worried about getting set up for another brooder.  Given the way this batch of chicks has grown, I am not too sure that it will last them until they are ready to be outside, so chances are good that we’ll need to make them something bigger anyhow.  And if that happens, I’ll have an empty smaller brooder, perfect for baby chicks.

See!  It all works out!  Chicken math is something that folks going into chickens need to be aware of. 😉 My hope is that I don’t end up with roos, because I’m pretty sure that would be a problem.

There is nothing like hearing the cheep cheep cheeping from my girlies.  I also think there is nothing quite as fascinating as chick tv, either.  On the second day, they were trying to fly, and it is crazy how fast their wings grow!! By the time I had them for a day, they were trying to perch.  Even though the perch wasn’t that high, there was much falling off, and limbo practice going on. As you can see in the pictures below, roosting has been conquered, although they don’t do this at night yet.  Lately, there has been much bickering and shoving to get the “sweet spot” on the perch.  😆

♥♥♥ my chicks!!!

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Thursday was a mad dash to get ready for chicks, with the expected arrivals coming Thursday evening instead of Friday morning.  They are great fun!

The plan had been: get chicks at 7 am with K; come back here and do apples.  The week brought a variety of adaptations to that plan.  The apples were left over from the Friday prior, when we ended up looking at the garden and chicken tractor instead of canning. Because the apples had been waiting for a week and were getting eaten, I knew I had to get them done Friday, or there wouldn’t be enough left to justify the effort.

I started working on mine, and was finally able to head over to Ks, chicks in tow, to help her get her apples done. As I’ve been researching and looking for recipes, I’m trying to find some where she can omit the sugar.  See my comments below on what I did, vs the recipe.  🙂

 

Apple Pie Filling in a Jar

4 1/2  c sugar
1  c cornstarch
2  tsp cinnamon               
1/4  tsp nutmeg
1  tsp salt
3  tbsp lemon juice
10  c water
6 lbs tart apples, washed, peeled and thinly sliced

Note: Slice apples into a solution of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 quart of water to avoid discoloration. Drain the fruit well before packing in jars.

In a large pot, blend together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the water and lemon juice with a wire whisk. Cook and stir until bubbly and thick; remove from heat.

Drain the fruit well before packing in jars. Pack apples into clean, hot canning jars leaving an inch from the top of the jar. Fill with the hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, and apply lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 -30 minutes.

No Sugar:

Omit sugar and adjust:

1 c cornstarch

9 c water

All other ingredients same.

My comments:  I used Jona Gold apples; K used Red Delicious.  I have found the Red Ds to not be as firm, but I don’t think this is a big deal. I have canned all different kinds of apples, and they are all good. I also didn’t measure the lemon juice into the water since we had several bowls going.

I ended up this time with 19 quarts and 1 1/2 pint (jelly jar) of pie filling along with one 1/2 pint of juice, which I didn’t process this time.

You could, I suppose, use Fruit Fresh on the apples instead of the lemon juice in the water.  I don’t, though, because lemon juice is cheaper and I usually have a lot on hand.  Plus, lemon juice is a natural product.  So, that’s my .o2.  😀

When I make pie filling,** I’m usually using a box, which is about 40 lbs of apples.  I have found that an apple peeler is a “must-have” for me.  This makes my time peeling and cutting much easier, since, as you can see from the picture, it spirals the apple.  Once the apple is off the peeler, I cut it in half and plop in the jars.

Another thing that is helpful is to fill the jars with a few ladle scoops of filling, then apples, then top off with filling.  It just seems to go by a little bit faster.

When using an apple peeler, be aware that you get a lot of peels. I have mine saved in the freezer waiting for a resolution to my food processor issue.  I may decide to go ahead and do the apple (peel) butter in the crockpot and then can. On the other hand, I really need to get a working food processor.  😆 

** A regular slicer/corer is good for canned apples.  I don’t remove the peels in this case, but you certainly could if you wanted to. I have also made apple pie filling using the larger apples that come from the slicer, but it’s my feeling that you can pack more smaller pieces of apples (like what you get you from peeler) into your jars than you can get with the larger, sliced apples. We like more apples to juice, but if you want more juice to apples, the slicer is a good way to go.

You could also just do the liquid and add your apples when you are ready for pie, or you could do a variety of apple piece sizes.  If you find your filling consistency is too thin, you could heat it up and add more corn starch; and/or you can add more apples to your filling.  One of the things I looooooveeeeeee about canning is the variations you can come up with.

My plan for today is to use my apple pie filling to make a cobbler.  It’s been a really crazy, busy week (with middle-of-the-night checks on the chicks), and my body is paying for it.  My big stuff today is laundry, chick tv, and hopefully finishing up knitting the one remaining sock while I hang out in bed.  Once I get that done, I’ll go looking for another sock pattern and get that started.  I have yet to use my new set of circular needles, but since I also have a few 5 needle sets, I am going to have to figure out which pattern to do next! 

That’s the plan.  We’ll see if I can stay awake to get it all done.  😆

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Set in Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1896, the storyline has great potential.  New resident Ida Sinclair has moved out West to be near her two sisters.  Both sisters are recently married after having settled in town, matches helped along by the boardinghouse’s landlady.

Ida, however, has no aspirations for marriage; her sights solidly set on being a businesswoman.  To that end, she takes a job with Mollie O’Bryan, a business owner. (Historically, Mollie O’Bryan was the first woman to have an official seat on the gold mining stock exchange.)

This book was a bit short and underdeveloped for my personal liking.  While the story has a variety of characters, there was not much character development. I found the plot to be predictable overall. What was there was well written; there just wasn’t enough of it, in my opinion, to really draw you in and keep you reading.  I am a fan of shorter chapters, though, since those are good stopping points; something I found myself doing more of than usual for me while reading.

If you like shorter books with predictable plots, be sure to put this book on your list! I give it 3 stars out of 5; not a great book, but not bad, either.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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I got my afternoon shopping done so I was ready for my chicks in the morning.  I went to Tractor Supply to pick up the few remaining items I needed and ended up drooling over the chicks they had there.  They couldn’t tell me what they were, though, and I could tell that they didn’t have any of the Easter Egger/Ameraucanas that I really wanted.

So.  When I got home, I called the livestock store to find out if they were going to let any go tonight before the sale tomorrow.  He said if I could get there by 5:30, I could get my chicks.  So off we raced!  I got there with 30 minutes to spare, and back home.  Before I left, I called my good friend who is also getting chicks (we were going together in the am to get them), but she didn’t answer.  We called several more times. 😆

I made it home by 5:15 and she called me and literally ran out the door to get hers.  She got inside at 5:26.  😆  We now both have chicks!  They had gotten 1,500 in for chick days, and I’ll tell you, there were only a few hundred left by the time *I* got there.  Another friend is going down tomorrow, but I’ll warn her to get there as early as she can.

I now have 4 EEgs, 1 Buff Orpington and 1 Barred Rock.  Hopefully they really are all girls.  😀

Hunny had just gotten home, and the other night I was mulling over a re-purpose of the old computer desk bookshelves that had been in the girls’ room.  While I got them set up, he went about drilling and remaking the shelves into a brooder.  He even drilled holes for the “perch”- the stick the girls found in the backyard.  The chicks seem to be loving it!

This brooder took him about 10 minutes to make.  🙂 Then he went out and got me an electronic thermostat for the light. Love my hunny!  ♥♥♥

   

I’m loving it!  If you don’t see me around much in the next bit, it’s because I’m busy watching chick tv.  😆

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Planting.

I replanted my vine garden on Monday.  Something I discovered while doing that were seeds.  ?????

It’s been three weeks, and they hadn’t germinated.  Some of them were sitting out in the open.  I was amazed that they hadn’t been eaten. I guess the dove-be-gone baggies are working.

The second thing I discovered was that despite my continued effort to keep the soil moist (so things could germinate), I think it really only resulted in the seeds getting washed out to the surface.  Interestingly enough, the dirt where they had been planted was very dry. I think the dirt crust was preventing the seeds from getting and staying moist.

To that end, I have changed hose nozzles.  I broke down last week and got another nozzle, and I am really pleased with how well this one works for trickling water, gently.  We’ll see if it makes a difference.

While there are some things growing, my corn, for example, isn’t coming up bu 1/3 to a 1/4 of what I planted.  When I planted the first time, I was sure I had waaaaay over-planted, just to be sure I would get enough growing.  This translated to basically twice what the package called for.

My hunny recently cut me out a Dennis the Menace cartoon, where Mr. Wilson is planting and says, ” “I always plant three seeds…. one for the birds, one for the bugs, and one for me.”  He taped it to my desk.  😆

So now I’m wondering: should I plant more corn, interspersed with the corn that’s already growing? If I do plant more, will it grow as well being in the shade of the taller plants?  What about other things, like okra?  I am leaning towards giving it a week or two more and then seeing where we land.

I did plant more bell peppers.  Since I had “help” with my planting, some things didn’t get planted, and I am sure others are somewhere other than where I have them on my map.

Yes, I am that anal.  😀  I drew a map, or two, rather, so I could get a good idea of what was best to plant where.  The second version was the one I settled on, but I neglected to write down the changes.  At the time, I thought it might be fun to be surprised.  Now I’m just kicking myself, because I really wish I knew what some of those things are!

At any rate, I am enjoying going outside and seeing what has sprouted.  And thinking that in some spots, there is going to have to be some thinning to do! I had forgotten how neat it is to watch things grow.

In the meantime, the countdown has begun.  Two more days until chicks!!!  The chicken tractor will be complete in the next weekend or two, but gollee, I am looking forward to chicks!

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Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockle shells

And pretty maids all in a row.

Well, ok, I’m not really talking about Mary Tudor, as in “Bloody Mary,” Queen Mary 1 of England. 

I’m talking about my garden, and the growing thereof.

I counted it up, and the total of things planted was 28:

Corn
Okra
Rosemary
Tarragon
Dill
Cilantro
Green Beans
Peas
Spinach
Bulb onions
Carrots
Pinto Beans
Basil, sweet
Basil, Genovese
Oregano
Parsley, tripled curled
Parsley, Italian
Bell Pepper
Radishes
Onion
Lettuce
Cucumber
Watermelon
Pumpkin
Cantaloupe
Thyme
Squash
Tomatoes

I made a chart and have determined that the doves got a lot of the seeds.  😦  There is basically nothing in my vine garden, so that means replanting watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin and cantaloupe, although there is now one stray seedling of something popping up.

My corn continues to sprout, but initially it looks like the doves got at least 1/2 of the seeds. I am trying to determine if I should wait to replant for a few more weeks.  I think that at the very least, I am going to start some seedlings inside and then transplant outside once they are bigger.

While the garden area is no where close to being done, for the time being, it’s good enough.  I have pulled hunny away from garden escapades to work on the chicken tractor, which is nearly done. He still has the drip system to get out there, and it seems we have effectively gotten the dogs to stay out. 

The plastic bags seems to be working out ok, but I think getting rid of the feeder was the biggest help.  We’ve been able to shoo away the doves when they get in the garden for the most part, although I have no idea what is going on while we are sleeping.  😆 I think the new few days will have some additional planting. In case if you haven’t read my struggle with birds in the garden, read Garden Pests and This Means War! (Garden Pests #2) for the background information.

I have been spending a large portion of my time preparing for chicks.  I am going to be extremely bummed if they are gone by the time I get there when they open on Friday morning.  I have a back-up plan in mind, but I will say that won’t be nearly as fun.  I also expect to post about the chicks once they are here, so stay tuned!  😀

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I am beyond ticked.  Those doves are eating the seeds in my garden! This is a continuation of my Garden Pests  post.

This morning I chased them out and saw pumpkin seeds and a pinto bean seed sitting on top, with the hole to prove it.  The bird flew up into the tree, and stayed there, until I threw a twig that came near it.

I am beyond *furious*!  This means war.

To that end, the bird feeder is gone.  I don’t care if it never goes back.  I may miss the birds, but I want the garden more.  Besides, I’m thinking chickens in the yard will be nice, once I get them and they are old enough to be outside.  In the meantime, I’ll put the hummingbird feeder out and see if they are here yet.

I’ve also got the unused garden stakes in the beds, with plastic bags tied around them.  We’ll see if that’s enough of a deterrent.  If it’s not, well, the kids can take turns sitting out there and shooing the birds away.  I don’t know that we have old cds lying around (they don’t seem to send them in the mail like they used to), but I have no problem sacrificing an entire spool if it keeps the birds out of the garden.

The thought we had this morning when taking down the feeder was, “Well, here’s hoping they don’t raid the garden because their other food source has been taken away.”  I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, *please* use the comments section to share with me what you’ve had success using!

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Apparently, I have them.  I am a few weeks into the planting, and while most things should still be germinating, I am getting a few sprouts.

Hunny told me this morning that he’s seen the doves in the garden, picking at my mounds.  I have three stray watermelon seedlings that have sprouted, but nothing else yet.  Monday will be two weeks, and while I’m not freaking out yet, I am getting really annoyed at the doves- again.

These doves are a thorn in my side, to put it mildly.  I hate them.  They push the little birds off the feeder, and they eat my feeder dry in a day- that is how big they are and how many there are. They are big, fat, obnoxious, and mean, in addition to being bold.  Either they are very stupid or they are very smart, because even people in the yard aren’t cause for they to fly off.  If I could get my hands on them…..  

My feeder was one that was pretty small, to not allow big birds to perch.  Ya, right.  They find a way to hang off and crane their necks.  Nevermind the seed droppings on the ground.

Besides ignoring humans, noises don’t tend to make them fly away, either.  As in, you can bang on the window (which, ironically, I haven’t managed to break yet with the pounding) and not only will they not fly away, they won’t even fly away when you go outside!  Sure, they’ll move up to the fence to perch, but as soon as you turn around to go in, they are on the ground right behind you.

I have long hated these doves.  And now they are probably ruining my garden?!  Can you tell how frustrated I am?  These are the same birds that wait to see what is coming out the door before they think about flying away.  They don’t even care that the dog is outside, although she has gotten a few here and there.

Sending the cat out or getting a bird-eating kitty has crossed my radar, but the chicks we’re getting in the next few weeks would be fair game and sitting ducks until they got big enough.  I’ve even though about getting a rooster, but, well, you know how that would go.  😉

And speaking of the dogs, we’ve been trying to keep them in the house because of – you guessed it – the garden.  We put up a 2 1/2- 3 ft wire fence, which big dog just hopped over and removed from the plank along the fence it was fastened to.  So, that’s tweaked until hunny can fix it (hopefully today).  To block off the other side next to the house, we have placed one of our large yard garbage cans.

Yep, you guessed this, too.  Big dog just pushes it out of her way, and little dog can squeeze through the one side.  We need a square can, hunny says.  I say, we need a gate.  He wanted to put a nice wood fence up goinng from end to end, but not only did I need something up much faster (to keep the dogs out), I wasn’t sure we needed to put that kind of money into it.  Obviously, that is what it’s going to come to.

BUT. If I can’t keep the doves out of the garden and from eating the planted seeds, I don’t know that I will have it in me to do another garden.  They even come and hang out on my patio tomato plants right outside my window!!!!  I can just see them now, taking a bath in my garden once the drip system is in place.

Hunny went to Tractor Supply and to the hardware store, asking whether or not the garden owls really work.  I don’t think the plastic snakes would work, as bold as these doves are, but it may be worth a try if the owl doesn’t work.  He came home with the owl.  Other suggestions include a plastic bag tied along the fence flapping.  We’ve talked about hanging old cds, but they might be too clunky with our wind, and perhaps a small windsock that we have.

So, friends, I am turning to you.  What things have you done and had success with keeping the pesky birds out of your garden?  Please leave me comment!                                                            

                                                                                                             

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This is book 3 of the Sisters of the Quilt series.  Not having read either of the first two books, I was unsure if I would be able to plug right in and not be lost.  I was very appreciative of the cast of characters at the beginning of the book, and I found myself flipping back and forth quite frequently.  There was one character, however, that wasn’t listed, and it took me a while to figure out who she was.  I enjoyed the plot, and the characters were well-developed. I really liked the epilogue, too, which wrapped things up neatly.

There was one part, though, that totally pushed my buttons. This consisted of a scene that was about a page and a half long.  Not only were there no other scenes like this in the entire book, but the information stated as “fact” is a bunch of hooey; woefully inaccurate and not the least evidence based.

Normally, when I’m reading fiction, I am not picky about checking facts.  However, in this case, there were two things that stood out to me; mostly for the inaccuracies due to “old” medically driven advice and also because in the setting and situation (which also wasn’t clear- was it a home? Was it the clinic?), the one thing in particular is wrong on so many counts. 

Since I don’t have time or interest to go point by point, I will say that as a person who is relatively knowledgeable about birth practices, this section of the book left me really annoyed.  I wish the author would have done more research than she did, because if she had, these two “facts” stated would have never made it in the book. 

The kicker, though, is that this part of the book didn’t even fit!  The story line would have been considerably better had this page and a half been edited out and removed entirely.  It was completely adjunct and NOT an asset to the story or the characters.

That being said, if you didn’t know anything about labor and delivery, you probably wouldn’t be bothered (but you might have come away feeling like that information was factual).  I would recommend the book to a friend with the caveat about this section- reader be warned!

I give this 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  Help me win stuff by clicking below and ranking my review!  

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