Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mole patrol: a little bit less outsmarted and Halloween

In honor of the pending holiday, I present a few holiday appropriate pictures.
Hagrid's Hut lego set with his giant pumpkin garden...
 Graveyard duel lego set...
Those are pretty much the only things I have related to Halloween.  They're old pictures, but I think they are holiday appropriate.  We aren't really holiday type people (for any holiday, really), so we don't decorate very much, if at all.  Which is just fine with me and the hubby!  I did think about making something for Halloween decor but I didn't end up doing it.  My sister-in-law makes some pretty cool pumpkins out of scraps of wood!  I'll have to ask her how she made them and then maybe make some for next year!  However...I AM very excited to get out my owl-urkey for Thanksgiving!  I'll show you later, have to wait until Halloween is over!  It's sooooo cute!

In other exciting news, I caught a mole last week!!!  All by myself!  Can you imagine the adrenaline that was pumping through my veins when I saw that little bit of dirt moving?  And then, I saw a little tail.  I put the hose where that was happening and then it crawled up out of the ground and I used the hose to push it in the bucket.  Oh my gosh...it was just craaaazy!!  I didn't take a picture of this one, but here's the picture from one of the first ones just for effect.  I still feel bad, it's kind of a cute little thing, but it was really making a mess of the yard!  Not to mention it was teasing us and making us crazy!  I am not sure if we have more, but I am hoping this was the only one that was running around out there.

It has also been pretty exciting because they finally cut down the beans in the fields around us.  It was pretty exciting to watch, so naturally, I took a couple of pictures!  Here is the soybeans up close...

Here is the combine out my window as I was peeping...
This is after he went by...
And this is down the field...kinda exciting.
We also had something really odd happen with the chicken run...All of a sudden there was this hole in the door.  And the little pieces of plastic were cleanly cut and sitting next to the opening.
It might have been a possum or something small like that, but I put this board there and we haven't had anything since then.  I'm just glad I lock up my little chickens safe and sound every night! Who knows what might happen to them if I didn't.  Also, I went out to check out the garbage this morning and it turns out we had a critter have a little party in there last night.  Probably should have covered it, but I didn't.  Oh well.

Is it wrong to kill lady bugs?  It sure doesn't feel right...
Gotta go make dinner for the hubby...have a good evening!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fencing, garden and some random stuff!

Well, I seem to be having a lot more free time on my hands lately, so I get to blog more! Yay! Except I'm running out of things to talk about! Hmm...  Why do I have more time lately?  Let me explain.  I have been telecommuting to my job in Utah for the last 5 months, some days are frustrating and others are awesome!  But, I was nearing the end of my rope and started looking for work where I could do a little bit of socializing in the process.  Even though I haven't found any work yet (still looking...), we decided that I should quit my job last week.  I worked for them for the last 6 1/2 years, I am super sad and will miss everyone at work, but I think it was for the best. I have learned so much and gained so much experience working there, I can't thank them enough! And it turns out it was at a really good time, and I'm happy that I left on my own terms.  The real estate market in Utah is quite low at the moment, so my place of employment were doing some layoffs anyway, so, really, it was good for both of us.  I have decided that I want to start school in the Spring and finish up my Bachelor's degree.  My plan, so far, is that I want to get a Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance and a minor in Accounting.  All in all, I think I want to be an accountant.  You can do it all online for the most part, and doing the degree this way can make you eligible to take the Certified Public Accountant exam for the state of Wisconsin.  (I'm planning on attending University of Wisconsin-Platteville, which is about a half hour away if they accept me.  Still waiting....)  Accountants can make pretty good money, and I have always enjoyed playing with money and numbers like that.  And, since we eventually want to start our own farm business and maybe a few other things, it would be nice for me to have some background in business to help us out.  Hubby is thinking about getting his Master's in Business Administration (MBA), but we aren't sure when and where and what not. That would be really good for him and probably help him a lot in his future.  We will see what happens and how things play out though.

We've had some pretty productive weekends lately!  We've been wanting to make a fence to go around the chicken coop so that they could play in my garden and fertilize and things like that.  So, several weeks ago, we got some posts and some 6 foot fencing.  We finally decided to put everything up!  Here is the view from the corner of my garden.
We used the PVC pipe from the temporary run to make the little gates, they are kind of redneck, but I'm just fine with that! :)
Here is the view from the side of the house...
I love that they can just run around if they like and have more fun.  Some day, we hope to have a nice big back yard where they can just run around and play free and be safe!  Hopefully...But they seem to be enjoying themselves! :)

Do you remember that rusty cast iron pan?  Well....on Monday the 14th, we had a large crew of stupid roof people come to replace the roof at the request of the landlords.  I stuck myself inside the whole time because I didn't want to see anyone or anything like that.  So, I finally attacked the pan!  Here it is after my attack!
I used Brillo steel wool soap pads.  It was hard to get all that rust off, but I think it came out pretty nicely!  I also baked the pan the same way as I did the other one, about 350 to 400 for an hour and let it cool in the closed oven.  I think it turned out really nicely, lets hope I can just keep both pans maintained.  I do like cooking with them, it cooks really evenly and browns pretty nicely. I need to figure out some other awesome things to make in them.  I think maintenance will be the hardest part.

Apparently it is the season for raspberries at my house!  I am not complaining, they are soooo good!  The raspberries on the right were picked a few days before the ones on the left.
I can't believe I am getting so many raspberries from the one plant, its incredible.  Funnily enough, we aren't getting anything from the other plant.  Maybe its not as well rooted or something.  By the way, all of those raspberries in the picture were gone within 30 seconds of taking this picture! Hehe...YUM!!!

I went grocery shopping earlier this week and I saw my favorite pumpkin display ever outside a grocery store.
I love how clever they were and made it a really nice display, rather than just throwing pumpkins out.  

Also, I have decided to try to learn how to knit.  Here is my learning swatch.  
The bottom 6 rows-ish is the "knit" stitch, the next 6 or 7 rows is the "purl" stitch, and then the top 7 rows is the "rib" stitch (even though you can't really tell, but you can kind of tell...).  I'm still trying to perfect it and become more consistent, but that will take some time.  Its kind of cool though.  I think its a bit easier because my mom showed me how to crochet when I was young, so I feel decently comfortable around yarn and stuff.  Knitting is a whole different ball game though.  I wanted to learn because I really like the stitch patterns that you get with knitting.  Someday I hope to knit a sweater, but we'll see how things go from here.  Since I don't know many people out here, I'm learning from a book.  I picked this and everything else up at the Hobby Lobby in town.
Here is all the materials that I use/have...(the book said I should get a little kit going, so there we are).
Its kind of fun, but we'll see how it goes, as I've already said.
Well....I think I'll go play with the chickens for a few minutes and see if we received any delicious presents.  :)  Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chicken adventures: nesting boxes done!

This post will be long...just to warn you ahead of time.  But, it will also be full of wonderful pictures too! :)  Well, the chickens are 4 and a half months old, haven't found any eggs yet and just getting them warmed up to the nesting boxes and perch next to them.  That being said, we finished the nesting boxes about 2 weeks ago or so.  That's right, I'm not very good at posting on here because I wanted to get them painted and put straw in there too before I posted the final post about the boxes.

So, here is the process.  We made the base, then put on the sides separately, we also put some sheet insulation above between the roof and the boxes.  Which is where these pictures start.
We framed in the sides so that we could make a front whole piece to put on so that it looked clean and nice.  We used wood stakes as our partition pieces to hold the sides.
This is us putting in the bottom stakes.  We had it stick out about 3 or 4 inches so that we could put the perch on the end of the stakes.
Then, we put in the same stakes up top to help support as well.
Then the sides...we used a nail gun to attach the walls on there.  Having that nail gun really made this a slick process.
Then we made our front piece and nailed that on as well as the perch.  The perch ended up being a long piece of PVC pipe that we had left over from the temporary run.  It actually turned out to work really, really well.  The openings for the boxes are about 10 inches square, I think.  And, I believe, the inside of the boxes is 13 inches from side to side.
 Closer up picture...
The chickens were curious what we were doing, but when we put them in the boxes they didn't like it and jumped right out.
Here is what they did while we worked...play free in the yard.  Yay!
 Someday we'll have a nice fenced in yard that we can let them just run free all the time...
Hehe...here are two of the girls nesting in some holes that they have made in the run.  Hubby hates it when they do this and dig holes.  (I think its so cute!!)
 Then, I painted the nesting boxes and perch.  Broke up some straw and here we are!

Don't those just make you want to crawl in there and lay an egg?  I've been able to convince some of them to stay in the boxes but usually only at night.  I've got most of the girls sleeping on that perch, except for the 2 roosters and the 2 leghorns.  I don't know how I am going to get those leghorns in there, I can barely handle them, they are just so jumpy.  Hmm...I'll have to figure something out.  There was going to be more, but I might take a quick nap before hubby gets home from work.  Don't tell him! :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mole Patrol: Feeling outsmarted

The mole is still teasing us in the yard.  I found this the other day in the back yard...
Then, I found another similar to that last night!  Naturally, we took the hose to all of them and nothing.  This mole is being particularly elusive...And a giant pain in the butt.  It's funny how such small creatures can be so frustrating.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cast Iron pan fun...

Last year sometime, hubby and I bought a cast iron pan.  We used it several times (it makes amazing steaks!) and then it sat in the cabinet for a while.  When we moved, it didn't have any apparent flaws and looked pretty good, I wrapped it in paper and all sorts of other things to keep it safe during the move.  It survived, and I put it in the bottom of a cabinet.  Perkins family restaurant here makes some amazing breakfast potatoes and we wanted to make some for ourselves.  I pulled out the wonderful cast iron pan because many of the recipes I was looking at called for using a cast iron pan.  Much to my dismay, this is what I found.  (RUST!!! NOOO....)
Look at how much is on the handle?  Crazy!
And...because I am impatient and nervous about dealing with the rust...I purchased a new cast iron pan for $20 at Wal-Mart.  Here it is before I got a hold of it.  I washed it good with dish soap and got it ready for seasoning.
Through more, more and even more research, I decided to use Crisco shortening instead of vegetable oil.  So, after I washed it, I dried it with a towel and applied the Crisco with a paper towel. 

Here it is before I put it in the oven.
Again, with all the research I did, I heard there was going to be lots and lots of smoke.  This really intimidated me, which is why it took me so long to season these pans.  I also found out that the smoke point for Crisco is 440° F. And, on the Lodge Cast Iron web site it says to season it in the oven at 350-400.  So if I did the Crisco at those temperatures I shouldn't have any smoke.  So, I broke down and did it.  350 ish for 1 hour.  I say "ish," because my oven is a million years old and runs hot, and I think I've finally figured out where my temperatures really are on the dial.  Hence why I have stickies on the dial telling me where the 350 and 400 degree marks are.  We also put a pizza stone in the bottom of it to help regulate the temperatures.  Anyway, long story short, after the hour in the oven, I turned it off and let the pan cool in the oven.  I'm happy to report that there was ZERO smoke!  But, it did smell like cooking shortening which is to be expected, but not bad at all.  Like 4 hours later the oven was still at 200, so it definitely was a slow cool down.  Here is the pan, in all its glory after
I did get a little excited with the shortening so some spots on the pan got sticky.  I put the pan in the oven with the opening facing down, so it was sticky where the top was touching the oven shelves. You can see that right in the middle of the top rim if you look closely.
I made breakfast with it yesterday and it performed very well!  I really liked how everything browned and cooked.  Very very pleased! :) Now I just have to do the other rusty one!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chicken adventures: Happy Hatch Day 4 months!

My babies turned 4 months old the other day!  So exciting!  They're all growed up and probably about ready to start laying eggs.  Chickens traditionally start laying eggs when they are anywhere between 4 and 6 months old.  And yes, I've been looking around every single day for probably a few weeks just in case they started early.  In honor of their changes we finally decided to put on the nesting boxes last weekend.  We still have some things to do, but we got the frame on there. Observe...(I just painted it yesterday because its supposed to rain for the next 3 days or so)

 And here it is from the inside of the coop!
With the lip that is on the front we are going to put a piece of PVC pipe that we have left over from the PVC run and use that as their perch.  We got an inch wide dowel that we were going to use but it just wasn't long enough and we couldn't figure a good way to attach two together, so we decided to just do the pipe.  We also still have to put in the dividers, I think we are planning on doing 4 boxes, but I'm not completely sure.  I also got this bail of straw in preparation.
It does not look the same as the ones that we used to get back in Utah, which is really weird to both hubby and I.  It just seems dirtier and not as compact, and just all around different, I'm not sure what it is about it.  

And....without further ado, here are the pictures of the babies on/near their hatch day!  
Basil...he's so handsome!
And Parker...he's super handsome too, has started crowing regularly the last few weeks!
 Henny and Penny...I love how the left one has its head tilted...so cute!
 One of the brownies (brown leghorns)
'Lil red...she's so cute, and so tiny!  I'm really wishing I would have kept the other 'lil red hen... :(
 Red sex link...
 One of the golden laced hens...
 And the other golden girl...and henny or penny...
 Blue hen...
Both blue hens pecking at my shoes and pant legs (a regular activity when I go in the run).  P.S. You get to see my wonderful shoes that I should not have been wearing in the run.
I love these blue girls, they are just so cute!  And soooo feisty, but I love it!  :)