Friday, January 30, 2009

Angry Snow Girl

Tuesday was a snow day for us on the Medley Farm. It was slick and yucky and looked like it might get worse so I stayed home with Grace and attempted to "work from home". You can imagine how well that went. Let's just say I could hardly wait for Daddy to get home. I spent most of the day anxiously praying that the power would stay on.

It did.

Wednesday gave us about 6 inches of snow and when Grace woke up she came running in and announced that there was enough snow for a snowman. Bryon stayed home Wednesday and entertained Grace all day with games, Wii, sledding and finally these snowmen. We used prunes for the eyes and some baby carrots for the nose. They (Daddy) did a great job! Grace, however, was not too hip on posing for pictures because it was REALLY bright out there and she melted down and started crying because she didn't want to smile. So here we have an angry snow girl instead.

You win some, you lose some.

The Rabbit's Died and The Pigs Got Eaten

No I'm not pregnant (praise God) but just like I suspected sometime Monday night Flop had four more little baby bunnies. I opened up the hutch to give them some fresh water and timothy hay and saw a pulsating mound of fluffy hair in the litter box they use. I couldn't see any of them but I knew they were in there as snuggled in as she could make them. She'd been pulling out fur from her belly and collecting it for a few days and last Sunday I cleaned out the cage and box really well and put in fresh bedding but saved her fur for her and put it back into the cage.

She did a much better job this time (at least from my human point of view) building the nest but it was just too cold out there for them and the next morning they were all lying willy nilly around the nest frozen. I did dig one out from the bottom of the nest that was also sort of smashed so it may have been dead sooner than the others. It was sad even though I knew it was what was likely going to happen. I figured it would have just been harder if I'd brought them in, Grace had seen them and THEN they had died. Or not died and then we would have had four more bunnies to find a home for eventually.

Of course Grace continually surprises me with her farm saavy. After the crooked beaked chicken got killed, I came in and told Grace and she said, "That's okay Mama, we didn't want that one anyway." True. Cold, but true. She's going to make a fine little farmer I think.

On a happier note, at least for the humans on the farm, Bryon also picked up our pork today from the processor. He cooked up some of the butterfly porkchops tonight for dinner and they were DE-LICIOUS! That meat really filled up the freezer. It's pretty satisfying eating something that WE raised and I'm looking forward to doing a lot more of it.

Farm on.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Random Acts of Housecleaning

So I gave up my housecleaner three weeks ago. Again. Jan 1 to be exact. What do you ask could possible convince me to perpetrate this on myself? I want to go to Italy. Bad. Actually I want to go ANYWHERE I can get a stamp in my passport. I got my passport in 2000 so I could apply for Survivor. Obviously this was pre-child, pre-sanity and 20 some less pounds ago. Now everyday is Survivor. I'm just not on television which you'll agree is a good thing if you've ever seen me after several days of hiking (again, another life ago).

I chose Italy because I love Italian food (hence the 20 plus pounds, well maybe a few brownies and cheesecake also contributed to some of that). Either way, I've never met an Italian dish I didn't like. Well except anything florentine which I discovered the hardway means with spinach. Sneaky.

I asked Bryon if he wanted to go and gave him the right of first refusal before I asked my friend Dawn. Bryon said he'd rather go on a big hunt somewhere. Hmmm, sitting in the cold for hours and hiking up and down thousands of feet of hostile terrain or eating something cheesy in an Italian's a hard call for me. Dawn and I plan to go the summer of 2010. Soooo, I'm trying to save enough money for the trip. Housecleaning costs me $100 a month. Something had to give.

The problem with cleaning the house myself is many. First of all, it never really feels clean . I'm randomly going around cleaning something here or there when I have a moment but rarely an entire room or let alone the entire house at once AND Grace or "someone" is constantly going around behind me making another mess: toys, animal bedding tracked in, catfood hawked up, something all the time and it NEVER ENDS. I just have to keep going to my happy place.

I think it might be in Italy.

Tripod and the Chicken Snackers

Yesterday morning dawned another snowy Saturday and as we headed out for breakfast there were tracks in the fresh snow down our lane. Both sides were full of tracks and when we stopped to check them out we discovered they were raccoon tracks. GIANT raccoon tracks. More proof of hungry chicken snackers which is why the hens have been restrained all week again.

I didn't let them out yesterday despite their protests. The good thing about keeping them penned up is that I don't worry about them. The bad thing is that they really mess up the hen house and poop in their water all day. They have the whole pen AND house and STILL they have to poop in their water. Those marble sized brains of theirs really aren't being used to their full potential. I'm still getting 3-6 eggs a day from them which is great and justifies (if only slightly) paying $12 a month for their feed. Of course now that they are penned up all the time they eat a lot more grain. It's a Catch 22. Are we eating $12 a month worth of eggs when we could buy them at the store for 68 cents a dozen? No. So at this point they are pets with benefits. I never got ANYTHING edible out of our two labs despite the hundreds, nay THOUSANDS of dollars we put into their 12 years on this earth. Of course, the chickens don't EVER have puppy breathe or give you wet sloppy kisses. They are (I believe) equally as happy to see me however.

Another potential development is that there was a pile of white bunny fur in the box this morning when I went out to feed and water the bunnies. They were both fine, but I now suspect from the experience of last month (pre Flip neutering) that Flop may be preparing for round two of the baby bunny business. Of course this would be the LAST time.

Good grief.

Farming is stressful.

Yesterday afternoon, Bryon was up on the front fence row burning brush piles in preparation for our tax refund fence we plan to put in. He finally came back to the house about 5 pm and hollered for me to come out and see the chicken killer. I schleped out to the garage and there in all his glory was a three legged, brown eyed Beagle dog. It was cute. Damn him.

Bryon said despite his three legs (one was missing at the hip in the back) he was FAST! Our neighbor who has been cutting wood stopped by and said he'd seen him here before and figured he was ours. Not so much. Grace wanted to keep him. We did not.

He did have a collar on but no tags of course. So now we have a bobcat-raccoon-possum-three legged dog killers all just waiting for their next chance. Well they just might not get it. Yesterday Bryon bought some lumber to build the chicken tractor for me. It just has to be done by April 2 for the broilers but if we somehow manage to get it done sooner then I'll release the hens into it, throw in a nesting box and schlep them around the yard during the day so they can eat some bugs and spread some joy around the lawn until the broilers arrive. The cirle of life and all. I wasn't interested in freezing my buns off working on it in the barn yesterday so that will be another Saturday project in the near future. I'm actually a very fair weather girl these days :).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Possible Predator Proof

The other morning I went out to fill the bird feeders and noticed some tracks in the snow on our patio that lead under the back deck. I have a feeling these probably belong to whatever has been snacking on my chickens. The first Araucana met her demise under that deck. The chickens like to hide under there from time to time but unfortunately they are a captive audience when they do since there is only one way in and out. The deck is closed in with lattice. 

Luckily, the hens were penned up so no self-serve chicken snacks that day at least.
I'm pretty sure it was a dog. I thought maybe a bobcat for a minute but after a quick online search I decided it was nothing that glamorous.

For now the hens are still in jail. I did let them out for several hours Sat. and Sunday but panicked when I couldn't find one of the Buff Orpingtons at dark. All the others followed me to the hen house and marched right in to roost for the night except for the Rhode Island Red who kept hanging back and calling and calling. I thought "GREAT, there goes another one", but finally the RIR went into the house and I closed up the door. I went all around the house looking for that last Buff but couldn't find her. As I was about to go inside, here she came from the back side of the house where I had just been and she was all indignant and clucking like a wild woman. I scooped her up and delivered her to the coop with the others.
Disaster averted...for now.

I ordered a dozen Cornish Crosses to be picked up at Estes Hatchery in Springfield on April 2. I'll only have to raise them for 8 weeks and they we can butcher them and put them into the freezer. I think our neighbors are going to go in half on a homemade chicken plucker. I ordered the book "Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker " by Herrick Kimball and expect it any day now. I hope to talk Bryon into helping (or making) me a portable pen this weekend :) 

Life is good.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bar Back

Bryon has been working on the bar back for almost a year. He commissioned a lady who had her wood carvings at Silver Dollar City to carve the mantle piece and then he built the rest around it. The gun is his Grandpa Fellows from around 1857. He was really proud to finally get it finished up and hung on the wall of his bar and he did a GREAT job!

Pillow Talk

Hi, my name is Lisa and I have a pillow addiction.

I just didn't realize how BAD it was until Bryon's family came for Thanksgiving and we had 19 people sleeping in our house for four nights. I went around and collected ALL our pillows and we actually had enough for EVERYONE plus the FIVE we sleep with in our bed. These pillows are only the EXTRA pillows. We still have 9 more on various beds through the house.

Apparently, I have NEVER thrown out a pillow. Some of them really need to be thrown away because they are just disgusting...yet...I just can't do it.
Where's that 12 step program when you need it?

It's Easy Being Cheesy

Making Mozzarella
Finished Mozzarella

I have one more thing to check off my list of Resolutions, Goals and Life List. Today, I learned how to make mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Our self-sufficient neighbors, who live in a 30x50 metal shop, have solar panels and a generator, gravity feed water pressure and wood heat, came over today to teach me how to make cheese.

I've been wanting to learn ever since I read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and today was the day! The Peterson's have five children ages 5-20 and Heidi, the 20 year old was my teacher today. She just recently started making cheese herself and had it down cold already. She learned from the book mentioned in AVM, The Home Cheese Book by Ricki Carroll. The milk for the cheese came from their two milk cows, Strawberry and Blossom. One is a Jersey and the other a Brown Swiss.
 I want a Brown Swiss milk cow named Blossom. Well, only a little. I still have some sense. I realize I can't milk a cow twice a day, work full time and have any semblance of a life away from the farm. Perhaps having a FRIEND with a beautiful Brown Swiss cow named Blossom is good enough...for now.

We used three gallons of milk (about what they get EVERY DAY) to make the cheese. Heidi, brought over everything including the pots and pans and I watched the first batch of mozzarella and the ricotta then she let me make the second batch of mozzarella..assisted. It was a fun day. Bryon, Doug (the Dad) and Luke cut wood along our soon to be fence line up on the road frontage of our property and Renee (the Mom) and the other three girls read books in Grace's room and played with toys.
They brought over a noodle casserole and grated fresh mozzarella on top of it and a salad and it was all just delicious. I even ate some of the salad, HOLY COW! My body may rebel. I'm going to call her tomorrow and get the EXACT ingredients for that salad because I'm thinking I might be able to eat more of that. I might even WANT to. What the heck is up with that craziness?
After they left I got online at and ordered my rennet, citric acid and a few other things to get started. Tonight, I made manicotti and the artisan bread. If I had made the noodles it would have been completely homemade. Hmmm. Noodles...
I might have to add something to that list.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

And then there were six.

The crooked beaked chicken finally got eaten today. I let them out this morning, we went to church and this afternoon I was outside trying to get all the recyclables gathered up to send to the landfill because they were such a mess. I decided it would just be easier to devise some new plan and start over than try to get that mess to Springfield.

I think the powers that be might pull my green card for that but too bad. I've done my part. I'm using eco-friendly dish soap, recycling my paper, cardboard and aluminum... so sue me.

Later while I was cleaning out the bunny cage, I noticed some feathers, then some more and then a half eaten chicken under the cedar tree by the barn. At first I thought maybe it was an old kill but I drug the thing out and it was the last Araucana: the crooked beaked one. That chicken must have been half cat because she had used up at least eight other lives to this point as it was. Well today her jig was up and now she's in that great chicken heaven in the sky along with five more of my chickens. It's probably getting crowded by now.

Now I'm down to six. The good news is I got 5 eggs today. I think I'm going to keep them penned up for a while. There are just too many hungry critters in the winter time I think. The question now is which is better: to have a happy, free and eventually dead chicken or a pissed off, cooped up live one? I'm going to bet on pissed off for a while. I like my odds better.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I don't know what got into Grace last night (well other than a cheese enchillada and two bowls of Fruity Pebbles) but about midnight I heard her call for me from her room. I shuffled in there to see what was up and take her potty. She said her tummy hurt but I just blew it off because she's one part hypochondriac and one part drama queen. I never knew a kid who enjoyed going to the doctor, having a booboo or ailment she could share with everyone as much as her.

She said she wanted to sleep with me and I told her no, there was lots on nighttime left and everyone had to sleep in their own beds. She cried and we rocked for a while until she was finally ready to lay down. I layed her down and she said she was really cold so I tucked her in good and shuffled back to bed. Before I even got to my bedroom door I heard another "Mama?" and headed back. Just as I walked into her room I heard her wretch and enchillada and fruity pebbles went EVERYWHERE.

Now I realize how lucky I've been that in four years this was the FIRST time she had vomited, but honestly, that DOES NOT help at 12:30 in the morning. I held her at arms length and plopped her into the bathtub, stripped off her clothes and covered her up with a towel then went to wake up Bryon to help because misery LOVES company. I assigned Bryon to Grace cleanup and redress because the boy can't do puke or poop...or so I've been led to believe. He can gut and clean a deer but can't cleanup any bodily output...whatever.

Of course it was on the bed, every covering AND the floor so I picked up the chunkies and trudged it all to the laundry room and started a load washing. Bryon go her cleaned up, teeth brushed, clean jammies on and checked her temperature. She didn't have a fever and was chatting us up the whole time we were working so we decided it must have been the Mexican food even though neither one of us got sick. Finally new sheets were on the bed and at 1 am we were rocking and trying to get back to bed. I left the trash can in her room and gave her the throwing up in the middle of the night into a trash can lesson. Then she did, again, but into the trash can so I cleaned it out, brushed her teeth again and started over with the rocking. FINALLY she was ready for bed and made it the rest of the night without incident.

I've washed four loads of vomit clothes today and finally, just now it doesn't smell like a vomitorium anymore. Today she's been complaining off and on about not feeling good but surprisingly doesn't want to take a nap, or lay down or doing any of the SICK things other than play and watch TV, so I'm pretty sure she's okay.

She did say I should kiss her on the cheek so I don't get her throwup germs. I'm thinking that's a good idea.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Compton Hollow

Last Saturday was really a warm day for January and Bryon suggested we got on a hike. I was a little skeptical because I figured we'd end up carrying Grace most of the way, but agreed to give it a try. I haven't REALLY hiked for about 5 years now. I think I've lost my hiking mojo.

I dug through my hiking clothes and junk and realized I only had one pair of fat hiking pants. Apparently I was in better shape five years ago when I WAS hiking. Go figure.

Bryon claims he and I have been to Compton Hollow before (it's just north of Northview about 10 miles from home) but I would have argued all day that I hadn't ever been there.

We filled our water bottles, loaded up and headed out and got there about 10 am. There was one other car there but we passed them walking up the road to another trailhead so we had the place to ourselves and picked out a small loop which ended up being about a mile and a half long. Bryon found a big walking stick and of course Grace had to have one too. So she found a stick, then drug it around the whole trip. She had a great time looking at rocks and trees and if there is a flower or berry to be found...she'll find it.

All and all it was a pretty good foray into the woods and Bryon thinks he might load up his mountain bike and stop this spring after work a few times and ride the trails. There are 6 -8 miles or so of easy, level trail loops out there so that should keep us busy for a while and be good practice for Grace for some future longer trips.

Yellowstone here we come!

The Other White Meat

The pigs are headed for the freezer. Thursday was the big day. Bryon and Chris loaded them up into a borrowed trailer without incident and drove them to the processor. They weighed 198 and 178 but we aren't sure if that was live or dead weight. Guess we'll find out next week when Bryon can call them back.

It's a relief to have them gone. They really weren't a lot of trouble until it got cold. Bryon had been feeding them and watering them every morning and we took turns in the evening. If I got home before dark I'd try to get them fed and watered before it got dark just because it was easier that way AND I really don't want a mercury light out there!
We probably won't get any this coming summer because we should have plenty of meat to last for a while. Next time we'll do things a little differently, but it all went pretty well for the first time raising pigs. Towards the end I was worried that they'd escape after all that time raising them but they didn't so no wild pig hunts on the Medley Farm.
Flip, the mini lop rabbit, also got fixed this week. I was a little worried about how he'd fare, but he did fine and is back to his frisky but now impotent self :) I won't be surprised if another batch of bunnies pops up in a few weeks though because he was busy right up until the end.
We actually worked on the front fence line a little last weekend when it was so warm outside and got some of the brush cleared out. Bryon used the incredibly dull chainsaw and I got to use the tractor and push the brush into the big pile. It was pretty fun. Grace played around in and out of the truck and entertained herself for several ours which was wonderful. It felt good to get something accomplished and see some results outside. It made me hopeful we might actually get a fence in up there someday...soon. We keep debating about what sort of fencing to put in. We really want to do woven wire because then we can have whatever sort of critters we want: sheep, goats, cattle, super cute miniature donkey but it's so expensive. We'll see what we come up with.
Next weekend our self-sufficient neighbors are going to come over and teach me how to make mozzarella cheese ala Barbara Kingsolver style :) Can you smell what the Rock is cookin? It's gonna be a pizza :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dough Girl

I read this great article in Mother Earth News last month about making bread and have had it sitting out on my counter for weeks now waiting for some motivation to give it a try. It SAID it was easy but seemed like it had a lot of steps to me so I was procrastinating. Finally, Saturday I got the party started and mixed up the dough, then today I baked a round of bread and let me tell you, IT WAS FABULOUS!

I didn't even wait for it to cool off and sliced a piece off right out of the oven and buttered it up. We had half the round eaten before supper was even ready. It's a keeper!

Try it yourself at

I also used some of the frozen shredded zucchini I had put up from our garden this summer and FINALLY made the perfect loaf of zucchini bread. I halved the recipe and didn't know how to put in only 1 and a half eggs, so I just used two. It turned out really, really good too with a great crunchy sweet crust on the top and sides. I don't know why I've had so much trouble with zucchini and banana breads in the past, but this weekend I was the BREAD QUEEN!

Of course, part of all that baking is what has led once again to #5 on my list on the right. Yes I'm back into the fat pants again. Of course, I had to buy NEW fat pants because I optimistically and foolishly gave away all my OLD fat pants after I lost that 20 pounds the last time. Girls, just keep the damn fat pants and if you don't have to ever wear them again just make a little shrine for them (maybe a nice glass case of some sort) as a reminder of where you don't want to go again.

So tomorrow it's back on the wagon...if I can even FIND the wagon. I think I see the ass end of it WAAAAYYY out there somewhere...maybe I can follow that crumb trail to that chocolate?

Animal Paradise

I was about at my wits end for togetherness this weekend and Bryon mercifully decided to take Grace to Animal Paradise in Strafford for a few hours. I think they probably wanted out and away from me as much as I needed some home alone time.

He's been wanting to go for sometime but had heard some stories about aggressive buffalos getting a little too friendly and curious and messing up some vehicles. He took the truck and Grace rode shotgun through the park. They had a great time and ate lunch there too. They had a couple of scary encounters like when the shaggy yak cow thing got it's horns into the cab of the truck for a long "HOLY COW" moment until Bryon convinced it to turn it's head just right by wafting a range cube by it's nose and pushing it's head out of the window.

Grace didn't like the ostriches at all, they were too aggessive and tried to bite Bryon's hand when he fed them. The donkeys were pretty friendly and she wanted to feed each little deer, but not the Daddy deer, only the babies. They even had a macaw inside who's name was Gracie...word was she also bites.
They stopped at Sonic after Paradise and got some slushie drinks. Grace wanted to "buy" because she had found a Sonic gift card at school and thought it was money. Of course it was empty but it was the thought that counted.