Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Good Food Week


We had a really good food and eating week this week. Of course we were off on Monday but I didn't eat lunch out all week except for Friday and we ate almost exclusively whole foods all week with the exception of Tuesday evening. Tuesday night Bryon and Grace ate Ramen noodles and tuna and I made Hummus from a can of organic garbanzo beans. Bryon told Grace, "Grace, look over there, your Mama has gone right over the edge making that hummus. She was near the edge, but now she's over it." He told her to come and check my armpits for hair. Well, surprise for him but that hummus was GREAT and I took it two days for my lunch!

I also now know WHY hippies girls let their armpit hair grow out. For one, it's convenient but I think the main reason, after switching to a natural mineral salt deodorant this week called Crystal http://www.thecrystal.com/product_information.cfm thanks to my friend Jen, is because that stuff burns the CRAP out of newly shaved armpits!! Dang! Sort of takes your breath away for a moment. It sure has worked well so far though. I haven't been stinky all week and I sweat like crazy the past two days. Not one bit of odor. So far so good.

I plan to continue to shave the old pits however. I'm a type A hippie chick at best (which I realize is a complete oxymoron) and I'm pretty sure no amount of patchouli can make me change those practical ways.

So Wednesday night we decided to roast one of our large five pound chickens we'd just put into the freezer. Bryon got the grill going early and an hour and a half later that sucker still wasn't done! We ended up having to thaw out some leftover hamburger patties I had frozen along with our organic Earthbound carrots, steamed Summer Fresh corn on the cob, lettuce from our garden and a fresh tomato, vine ripened in a greenhouse which I bought from a guy selling on the corner in Niangua. Still good.


Then Thursday night we finally had the roasted chicken and I had found some new potatoes at the Springfield Farmers market that we roasted with some Borsin cheese, the leftover carrots,Mamaw Rice's canned green beans from last summer and again...salad.


Of course just to show you how crazy we are, Saturday Grace and I went through the McDonald's drivethru on the way home. We had a car full of quail in the backseat that were not going tolerate tallying and we were hungry NOW. Three steps forward, two steps back in that case.

I have a lot of food guilt now. The more I read: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Food Matters, The Botany of Desire...the more I want us all to do better. To eat better. To be better.

Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks. We just keep trying.

We did eat a new potato right out of our garden yesterday so I'd say another week or two and we'll have a mess of them.

I met a couple of great farmers at the Marshfield Farmer's Market on Friday. One is a lady named Sheila from Morgan, Mo (just up the road a spell) who is raising goats and trying to make it her full time job. She's been selling goat yogurt and cheeses and chevre for the past few weeks and I've been buying it. I want her to succeed. I asked if I could come visit her farm and learn about her goats and she said sure so I hope to make that happen in a couple of weeks.

The other person I met has a farm in Norwood and they are raising organic meat, eggs and milk plus a whole lot more, http://www.rockinh.net/ I can't wait to visit their farm too . His family knows Joel Salatin (made famous now from Michael Pollan's books among other things) http://www.polyfacefarms.com/ and I just want to learn from all these folks and make our little homestead all it can be.

Grace's friend Riley has been staying home on the farm with her Daddy the last several months and she asked why we can't do the same. Good question. Maybe someday we all can. Wouldn't that be great? To be able to feed our family AND make a living from a farm.

How quaint.

Someone should have thought of that a long time ago. Wait a minute...they did.

Here's to hoping it's all not a thing of the past.

What more could you ask for?


Bryon decided to put our canoe out on the pond Friday night and let Grace try paddling around a bit. She loved it and was excited to try paddling. She sat really still and did a good job. He was going to take her out on the water last weekend but with the high water and an unknown stream we decided we'd better wait for another trip.


We are going camping this weekend for Bryon's birthday at Bennett Springs sans cushy camper for the first time in five years so we'll see how all that goes. Bryon wanted to just take our little two man Walrus tent along with the screen house and put our blowup queen size mattress inside it for all three of us to sleep on. That was until Saturday morning when Grace woke up at dawn (which of course is around 5:30 am now) and he put her into our bed until a more respectable hour. He lasted about 10 minutes and bailed for the couch. There were three in the bed and the little one said, I'm crowded, roll over and they all rolled over and one fell out....DADDY.

He decided three in the bed was one too many so looks like he'll be making a trip to Bass Pro for the giant family size tent this week.

Saturday morning the post office called and my new queen bee had arrived so I ran over and picked her up. The Niangua Post Office is open for exactly one hour and forty five minutes on Saturday morning from 8:30-10:15. Ridiculous. They called at 7:30 to tell me so I made a special request and asked if they would just mind opening the door long enough to give her to me so I wouldn't have to wait. When I got there I heard them all talking behind the post office boxes and say, "The Bee Lady is here."

So that's what it's come to. I'm Grace's Mom, The Blood Lady and The Bee Lady. Hmmm. Never saw those things coming.

I got the queen installed (she cost $29 with shipping and handling!!) and Grace and I went to the Fordland Small Animal Swap meet to check things out. Bryon went to Lebanon with the Huggler Men to shoot sporting clays and stumbled upon a big Ducks Unlimited event. They had a lot of fun. We were on the hunt for birds because Bryon wanted some quail to raise to train Ruger (you can't imagine how many times I've almost typed and have called him Briar). At the swap meet they had about a bazillion different types of fowl and puppies. They had some ADORABLE labrador pups, both yellow and black that were just lazing around the back of a pickup truck. They were all calm and laid back and fat and adorable. Whatever.

Grace pet EVERY animal with fur there and some with feathers. I had planned to get a couple of ducks but ended up talking myself out of it because number one, I had the CAR and they would have pooped all over my trunk on the way home and two, I think they would have lasted exactly eight minutes in the back yard with Ruger. We stuck with the quail and carried them home in the backseat of the car in the cat carrier next to Grace.

They are pretty neat. We put them in the rabbit hutch and they seem pretty content. I'm not sure I want Bryon to kill them or use them now. They are neat. I got half boys and half girls and they should start laying some eggs in a few weeks.

These aren't our quail but here is what they look like and their cute little eggs...



Bryon got the hog pen dismantled this weekend and now the next thing will be to try to get our electric fencing around the paintball field so we can get some GOATS! I'm hoping they will be poison ivy eating machines. I have a feeling there will be a lot of goat chasing in our future.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Man Cave


When Bryon's Dad moved back to Missouri in February he lived in the cabin for a few weeks. We hadn't cleaned that cabin in about 5 years, so while Bryon was going to and from Nebraska to move his Dad back, Grace, myself and Tammy cleaned up the cabin and got it presentable.

Gary only stayed out there a few weeks and then moved into Marshfield into an apartment with heat, air AND running water. None of which our little cabin has. Bryon was so excited to see the cabin all cleaned up he decided to turn it into a Man Cave. Since all the space he has left in the house is basically his side of the bed, one little closet and a third of our big closet, I figured that was a pretty good idea.

He, Gary and the Huggler men have it fixed up pretty good now and they even built a shooting bench and shooting lane off to the side of the house for target practice. He even had Grace out there shooting. She's just one of the guys at heart. A tomboy with a tiarra.




As Man Cave's go, I'd say this is a pretty nice one.

Trophy girl



Last weekend was Grace's last two soccer games. The coaches had a pizza party for them at Pizza Hut after the games and surprised the kids with soccer medals AND trophies. Grace was really proud.

Tee ball starts next week and swimming lessons in two weeks.


Bryon may have to build a trophy case.

Turtle Time


Grace found this turtle while Daddy was mowing the lawn. It's the second time she's found this particular turtle. We recognize it because it has a healed over crack on it's shell. I suggested she take it up to her fort to play with it so Ruger wouldn't eat it. She used her toys to barricade the slide and the doors so it wouldn't bail off.

I let it go after she was in bed and Ruger was put up and this morning it was right outside where I had left it. She found it for a third time this morning. It was fine. I guess it just didn't want too venture far in the dark.

She put it in a bucket for a few hours and tried feeding it some of our lettuce and finally she and Daddy drove down the lane and let it go again.


I doubt we find it a fourth time, but you never know.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bountiful


I couldn't resist sharing my heirloom radish ala Barbara Kingsolver with you. They have been really mild and tasty lately. We each ate one right out of the garden.

After reading Tina's post yesterday about her visit to Brown's Berry Patch and all the strawberries her family picked I started thinking, "Yeah, I should do that!". I've been buying strawberries along when they are on sale around $1 a quart and freezing them to put in Grace and my yogurt in the mornings.

Here I thought I was being all healthy with us eating yogurt every morning until one day I finally looked at the list of ingredients on the back of my Yoplait Lite Strawberry yogurt:

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Nonfat Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Strawberries, Modified Corn Starch, Nonfat Milk, Kosher Gelatin, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, *Aspartame Potassium Sorbate Added to Maintain Freshness, Natural F Lavork, Red #40

As if high fructose corn syrup isn't enough they have to add in Aspartame and Red #40 and who the heck has ANY idea what Natural F Lavork is. I Googled it. Google doesn't know either. So now we are eating Dannon Natural Vanilla Yogurt. It has this in it: Cultured Grade A Reduced Fat Milk, Sugar, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Pectin plus active cultures. We've been stirring in frozen strawberries, blueberries and blackberries that I nuke for 30 seconds which makes our yogurt all nice an pink naturally. I add granola on top. Grace likes hers without.

So YOGURT is only one food choice that we have finally wrestled down to a healthy option. The problem is trying to do that with EVERYTHING that goes in our mouths or bodies.

Now, at best we are schizophrenic and hypocritical with our eating and food choices. Okay, so I'm mostly speaking for me but I'm the one who picks the menu, buys the food, mostly prepares the food and serves it up. Bryon is an EXCELLENT cook and likes to cook fancy and elaborate meals which works out GREAT because it turns out I like to EAT fancy and elaborate meals as is evidenced by my growing girth.

We ARE trying to eat healthier and make better and more conscience food choices. I actually CHOSE to eat a salad at a restaurant for lunch one day last week. That was the first time in 41 years THAT had happened and yes it had lettuce in it. Turns out field greens are pretty good. Iceberg is not. Bryon and Mom say this has always been the case but I'm skeptical and pretty sure this is just a recent development.

The problem is old habits are hard, hard, hard to break and somethings just taste so good and are so addictive I just don't know if I can overcome them (ie ALL chocolate deserts and brownies particularly). I keep telling myself the point is I'm trying and the changes I have made are better than continuing full speed down the path I was on before. Some days are just no good though. You win some, you lose some.

Grace has unfortunately inherited my sweet tooth. That girl loves her some candy. All candy. Thank God it's finally all gone from Easter. She's already planning ahead for her birthday and Halloween.

I figure every time I eat a salad instead of a quarter pounder, I'm just that much closer to perfection. Whatever that is.

I bought seeds for three kinds of red lettuce from Bakers this spring and we've been eating all three from our garden. I like the really red heirloom Lollo Rosa best. It's red all over and frilly. I bought some Buttercrunch lettuce but I haven't planted it yet. It will be next.

Back to the strawberries though. I was just getting ready to see if there was a closer berry patch than Browns (Mt. Vernon) when Cara in our Sunday School class announced that Debbie had a ton of them for sale at her house in Marshfield. We went over right after church and lunch at Freda's and I bought 15 pounds! They were $1.50 a pound and traveled exactly 15 miles to my house. Grace loves REALLY HUGE strawberries. These were NOT really huge strawberries. She's been used to eating the giant, waxy half-ripe California berries. I just won't buy those Mexican berries anymore. I told her these were better because these were Missouri berries. I picked out the largest ones and saved two bowls of them for her while she was outside playing. She loved them. She said they were sweet and juicy (her words). She was right.

These weren't the FIRST Missouri berries we have had though. The other night after work she had been playing outside and finally came in to play. She'd been in her room about 15 minutes when she came springing out telling me we had to go outside NOW. "Why?" I asked. "Because I have to show you something," she said. "What?" I asked. "I'll show you!" she said. "WHAT?" I asked???? I was not going outside on a wild goose chase (unless of course we get a wild goose next week at the swap meet and it needs chasing). Finally she told me there was a ripe strawberry out there. I was wondering how she could see that from her window but she finally told me she and Daddy had spied it the night before and were leaving it to ripen one more day. Well we ALL know how fraught with danger THAT idea is. Did we learn nothing from last year?

We went trekking out to the weed (I mean strawberry) patch and sure enough there it was. The first precious strawberry of the season. It is like red gold because there won't likely be many more. The strawberry patch has succumbed to grass and clover but a few hardy plants have struggled on and we'll probably end up with a couple dozen berries before it's all said and done. I've actually been picking big handfuls of the clover for the hens. They LOVE it and fight over it now that they are a captive audience in their little chicken yard. So in a way the strawberry patch is still fruitful. Once they have spent themselves I'm going to transplant the plants to the new bed and then we are going to cover the old patch and kill everything out of it so we can start over.

That first strawberry was just swell. Grace and I both took a bite and left the last bite for Daddy who was at the school board meeting until late. He got home after nine pm and after Grace had gone to bed but he got her out of bed to share the last little morsel with her. The strawberry was actually hanging like a shiny red beacon outside the fence before she picked it. I can't believe a turtle didn't get it yet but somehow it snuck up on me and I missed it. I'm glad the rest of the gang was keeping an eye out. You KNOW how I hate missing that first berry!

So today, we got berries from Debbie. Not our own but about as local as you can get otherwise. It took over an hour to get them all stemmed and frozen.


It was a big job but I have nine quart size ziplocks full of berries in the freezer now. I have a half bag of blueberries from the farmers market last year still left but we finished off all the blackberries last week. Thankfully we'll have more soon and I plan to stock up again.



Thank goodness the farmer's markets are going and the garden is growing.

This year I plan to can LOTS more peaches too. We finished up the last jar of peaches in March. Freestone though this time, not Cling. Fool me once...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let it be noted.

Well Bryon was right. (Let it be noted in writing for the WORLD to see). He'll never read this anyway...when we butchered that chicken last Saturday moring before Grace's soccer game, it was full of a yellow fluid and he said it looked like ascites. Well I didn't know what the heck that was but he called it right because later in the article about Flip-over Disease it mentioned Ascites Syndrome. So I think now, that two of the chickens died of Ascites Syndrome and one of Flip-over. The rest of course died by Medley's Syndrome and will be in our bellies soon.

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/204601.htm

There is just something new to learn EVERY day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Birds and The Bees



We butchered the chickens this past weekend. It was time. Actually, well past time. Saturday morning Grace had her last two soccer games on the same day, one at 9 and another at 11 am. We got up, got ready and started to head out the door with Grace and Nana, and as I stopped to check on the chickens I saw that ANOTHER ONE was just sitting there with it's head drooping. Great.

We still had a half hour before the game and it takes 15 minutes to get there so I told Bryon that I didn't think the thing would be alive by the time we got home. He grabbed a knife and we we took the chicken out to do the deed before it was too late. He got her all skinned and started to gut her when we saw her cavity was FULL of yellow fluid. Bryon said it looked like some sort of crazy fluid that builds up in cancer patients.

We decided not to eat the chicken and dumped it. I was bummed out. Not that I WANTED to eat some funky chicken but because that meant we had lost another one. Bryon said that is the difference between raising your own and choosing whether or not to eat a questionable bird and a factory farm just rinsing the cavity out and sending it on down the line. You'd never know, unless you got sick and maybe not even then.

Nana was spending the weekend with us so I told Bryon, Sunday was going to be the day to get them butchered. I was going to wait and do it over Memorial Day weekend but I was afraid I would lose more by then.


Sunday morning we skipped church and got all our equipment ready and setup out in the front lawn. It was a GREAT day outside and I didn't even break a sweat! We got started about 10 am and didn't get finished until 1 pm. It took Mom and I another good long, back breaking hour to get the things cleaned up, cut up and frozen.

After a few trials and errors, we finally got a good system down and things started to go smoothly. Bryon wanted to skin them and I wanted to pluck them. I could have borrowed my friend Lindsey's plucker but since I decided on the spur of the moment to get the job done, I didn't call her to borrow it. We used the turkey fryer out front and put an enamel pot full of water on it and got the water up to 150 degrees to scald the birds. We plucked a couple and then Bryon just wanted to skin them. It turned out it took just as long to skin them as it did to pluck them so we only skinned one and plucked all the rest. Mom and I plucked until Grandpa Gary got there and then Mom went into the house to clean the birds up and Gary and I plucked. Bryon killed them and gutted them, then we plunged them into a cooler of ice water until we were ready to move on. Bryon rigged up a line for us to hang the birds on and pluck them because holding them and trying to do it was just back breaking. Those birds were HEAVY!


Lindsey butchers hers around 3 pounds because no one wants to pay $15 for a chicken. She sells hers for $2.80 a pound. The first three birds we killed weighed 5 pounds each dressed! They were HUGE! Mom said they were the biggest chickens she'd ever killed. Big is not always better. Take note Men.

As a matter of fact, now I'm wondering if I just didn't feed those three to death. I kept a LOT of feed out there for them and they just gorged themselves constantly. Most of them just lay around the feeder on their big fat breasts eating about 90 percent of the day I think. I read in one of the chicken books at Borders that they can die from Flip Over Disease. Really, it's a real thing http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/202500.htm This is EXACTLY what the second bird did. It was on it's back with it's feet in the air. Now I'm wondering too if that yellow fluid in it's abdomen wasn't caused by overfeeding them as well.

The rest of them were more around 4 pounds and a couple were just over three. We ended up putting a total of around 40 pounds of chicken into the fridge after they were all dressed. The biggest one Mom cut up and fried for my birthday dinner. We had salad from our garden, fried chicken we had raised and deviled eggs from the hens. It was a pretty dang good farm dinner!

After we were finally done I decided to go out and check on the bees. I had moved the hive out just behind the barn because I was tired of schlepping out to the field to check on them all the time. I'd ordered my bees in the middle of March to be shipped April 25. It took them FOREVER to get to the post office. I called every day for three days to see if they had come yet. Nope, no bees. Finally the third moring I called and they were there. The Postmistress said they didn't look too good though and when I picked them up, sure enough there was about an inch of dead bees along the bottom of the cage. They were insured and she said she'd vouch for me that they were in poor shape and about a third dead if I wanted to turn in a claim.

I took the rest of them home and hived them before I had to go to work in Rolla. I went out a few days later to see if the queen had gotten out and she was still trapped in the queen cage. I had accidentally popped the cork INTO the cage but I thought she could still get out. Not so much. I finally popped out both ends and left it in the hive so she could finally be released. That was a couple of weeks ago. Sunday, I went out to check to see if they were doing anything and I put on another super for them. They had been drawing out the new comb pretty well. I fixed up 10 more frames with new comb for them then had an after thought that I should check to see if there were any eggs. I took the whole dang thing apart looking for eggs or queen activity of any kind. Nothing. There were still lots of bees but I think that queen is dead.

I had already turned in my insurance claim and got the whole price of the bees, $72 refunded so today I called and ordered a queen from another apiary. She'll come next weekend. Hopefully it won't be too late to save the floundering hive.

Dang. It's been a busy on the farm.

The Small Animal Swap Meet is the last Saturday of the month...quack!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And then there were 11

So, this morning, Grace and I sleep to the ridiculous hour of 7 am and get up. She's a grumpy, weepy, crying and totally unhelpful mess. Won't put her clothes on, won't brush her teeth, etc. etc. etc. We FINALLY get ourselves dressed and presentable to the world and work day and head out the door. But wait...I still have to feed and water the chickens. She stomps around complaining that's she's cold and sits on the front porch while I head to the chicken tractor.

The first thing is see is yellow chicken feet sticking straight up in the air. What?! It takes a few seconds for my brain to register what my EYES are seeing. Yellow chicken feet sticking straight up in a sea of white feathered birds. What's wrong with this picture? I have a DEAD chicken, that's what's wrong.

I go out there and sure enough. Definately a dead chicken. What's more (the faint of heart should stop here). The other chickens have now cannibalised the thing so it's a pecked up, bloody, squashed headed mess. So my first thought is WHY am I doing this? Most people just go to the grocery store and pluck down their 87 cents a pound (Summer Fresh's special this week for the family pack of split chicken breasts, previously frozen) and are damn happy to do it. There is no buying feed. There is no plucking of feathers. There is no crawling fully dressed into the middle of the poop laden chicken tractor in my cream colored work pants and hot pink cotton top while demented and cannibalistic roosters plot to pluck my eyeballs out. No, you just freakin' take your little package of chicken home, plop it in the freezer and haul it out when the need arises. It's just that easy.

Of course I couldn't reach the dang thing so I had to shuffle the tractor around, move it to a fresh patch of clean grass and REALLY crawl in there to grab hold of the thing and drag it out. Grace just watched the whole fiasco without comment. Wise girl.

My next dilemma was what to do with the thing now that it was dead. I fed the rest of the chickens and gave them fresh water (the things like to poop directly IN the water as often as possible like it's their own personal toliet) and gathered up the two eggs from the hens to take in and put into the refrigerator. I also have one little pecker hen that PECKS A HOLE in the end of her egg every day. So instead of six eggs a day, I get 5 plus one with a HOLE in the end of it. It goes to the compost pile because I never know how long the thing has actually been out there exposed to the elements. I know she does it just to hasten my trip to Insaneville.

Grace finally loaded into the car (it's 8:15 by now). I plopped the dead chicken (which from the heft of it ALREADY weighed over 3 pounds) into a bucket and drove down the driveway with my arm out the window holding a bucket full of dead chicken to the end of the road and our dumpster. Sorry garbage man, that sucker's going to stink by next Tuesday.

On the way to the dumpster I also see that the one surviving redbud tree we had planted last year that was all nicely leafed out has been knocked over and broken by the cage we had around it to protect it from being eaten by deer. Broken at the base. Whatever. I'm totally ready to just call it a day and go back to bed.

All day I've puzzled over WHAT happened to that chicken. Do they have some weird chicken disease now and are going to start dropping like flies? They all APPEAR fine, fat and healthy. Did I trap it while I was moving the tractor and the other chickens just pile on and peck it to death? I try to make sure I haven't trapped any of them (let me tell you, they SQUAWK if you do), or what?

Tonight when I got home I REALLY inspected the tractor. No more dead birds thankfully but I did notice that at the front of the door the chicken wire was really mangled looking and held on by one U shaped chicken wire nail thing (I'm sure there is an official name for those), AND there were a couple of feathers stuck in the wire and to the wood on the door. I schleped to the barn and got the hammer and some more of the U shaped chicken wire nail things (I definatley need to Google that) and reinforced the door. Bryon thinks a raccoon stuck it's meaty little paws through the holes, caught it and killed it and the other chickens just enjoyed the spoils of war.

I guess I'll find out in the morning if I have more yellow feet in the air.

How To Tie Your Shoe

videoGrace wanted to learn to tie her shoe because no one else in her class could yet, so Bryon sat down when he got home tonight and taught her how. She practiced and practiced and now she's a pro! At least until morning, we'll see if it sticks!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bad Tomadoes and a Chicken Dinner

Friday when I picked Grace up from school she told me they had experienced some "bad tomadoes today and we had to get under the tables" at school. I had to take shelter at the blood center, Bryon was in the basement at Wheeler and my Mom was hiding out at work listening to the only radio in the building (hers) for the weather.

My Dad was on the lake fishing through the whole thing. He caught 65 crappie. Not a bad day considering he could have been blown away.

We didn't have too much damage considering how hard the wind must have blown. The good thing is, we are in the middle of the woods so the wind gusts get dampened before they ever get to us. The bad thing is, we are in the middle of the woods which means lots of trees could fall into our house. Bryon had a tree trimming service out a couple of years ago and we took out a few questionable trees just in time for the 2007 Ice Storm. Friday, a big tree on the west side of the house uprooted and crashed down. It missed the house but hit our local channel satellite dish. They can't fix it until May 28 because of all the requests for service since the storm. The storm knocked over an empty gas tank, flipped our canoe and totally turned our trampoline around and moved it about 10 feet. There were lots of limbs in the yard and one of the fryer chickens got injured in the fray.

I took her out of the cage because she was just continuing to get trampled on in there and put her in a separate cage. I covered it, gave her some food and water and bungied her to the big cage so a coyote wouldn't just pack her off in the night.
I inspected her and didn't really see any injuries that looked too severe.

I kept thinking she'd perk up after I got her out of the main cage but she didn't. She wouldn't get up at all. This morning, she would barely even hold her head up. I was afraid she'd be dead by the time we got home tonight but she was still alive. I figured we'd better just butcher her and eat her before we lost her completely.

So tonight after dinner we all went out and did the deed. Grace insisted on going to watch. We didn't let her watch us cut the head off or the chicken flap around in the trash barrel but she watched all the rest. Bryon skinned the bird so we wouldn't have to worry with the mess of plucking it. Grace was pretty interested and wanted to see the insides and the heart especially. She said the heart looked like an acorn. She wasn't the least big upset about the whole thing. She's a good farm girl. After it was all over I took it inside and weighed it. It was 2 pounds. Still small but they are only 42 days old still. I plan to butcher them Memorial Day weekend if all goes well. My friend Lindsey is going to loan me her plucker. She has about 200 birds right now. She's selling 30+ a week at the farmers market in Marshfield and plans to get her turkey's started in a week or so.

I thought I might raise a couple of turkey's but I don't know. If I have to start them NOW, that is a LONG TIME until Thanksgiving! Uggg!

I did find this one injured place right on the tip of the breast bone after she was dressed. I cut out the bad spot. I think she just got trampled in the fray in side the cage by all the other birds. She didn't seem to have any internal bleeding. Who knows?

I went ahead and boiled the chicken up and tomorrow night we are going to have chicken and noodles. Yum!

Guess it was a good thing they gave me one extra bird!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Playing Outside

Grace had a GREAT night of playing outside last night. She played on her playground, swung on her swing, wrestled the dog, stomped in mud puddles and did some stunt riding on her plastic, electric Dora four wheeler.

Bryon and Grandpa messed around in the barn trying to put a new side mirror on the truck. It was a turkey hunting casualty. The cows broke it off.

Like all home automotive fix-it projects, it was painful. They just got one of the screws undone and then half the other screws fell down into the door panel. Which of course meant that they had to take OFF the door panel. Which led to the breaking of fragile and now after a decade, rotten, plastic clips holding the door panel on. Which lead to buying more clips at O'Reilly's today. Which means more painful automotive fix-it time in the barn.

Ain't that a peach.

I did look out at one point while the auto repair and the playing was going on to see Grace leaning over on the edge of the pond looking intently at something. The Mommy instinct in me kicked in and I yelled out (with my VERY LOUD and ANGRY voice), "GET AWAY FROM THAT POND RIGHT NOW. IF YOU EEEEVVVEEERRR go down there again without ME, or DADDY or GRANDPA, you are DONE playing outside and will get a spanking!"

She was looking for frogs. I can't blame her. I spent many hours at our own pond which was WAY out of sight from the house, walking around it looking for frogs. OR just running around it before the dog got to it to scare them in. We shot them with our BB guns too, until Mike decided to fill the little hole in the end of the gun with dirt. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Turns out it isn't so great for BB guns. It never did work after that. At least the frogs were safer.

Remember those days? Playing outside ALL DAY? I think Grace is going to get sort of gypped because my Mom was home many summers with us and we played outside for HOURS. I remember the last day of school when the summer seemed like it would last FOREVER and we'd NEVER have to go back. We had three little girl neighbors right by our house and we played every day. Unless of course one of us was mad at the other which usually lasted a day and we were all back at it.

We have a neighbor girl close by too but we've only invited her over a couple of times because she comes with baggage (two little brothers). Maybe once school starts, Ashton is a year older than Grace, they'll buddy up and she can start making some of those same memories.

Frogs beware.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Preschool Screening

Home of the Cardinals

I took Grace this morning for her Niangua pre-school screening. It took FOREVER. She had to do lots of tricks and show her best stuff to be admitted. She passed. She scored in the 75th percentile nationally. She would have scored much higher probably except her speech and language is just "barely" over the lowest score. No surprise there. Cammie has been working with her this past year and the past 6 months more intensively and she has made a lot of improvement but she's still hard to understand. I'm sure there will be a learning curve for her new friends and teachers. I just don't want her to be made fun of.

She MIGHT even get to go to summer school at Niangua. They have summer school with a Pre-K prep course starting May 20-June 19 and if they have enough interest and then enough slots she can go. Woo hoo! I'll have to let her ride the bus a few times though or there will be anarchy. That girl STILL loves school buses. I told Bryon I might have to ride the bus with her. I'm just not sure about sending her off on a school bus full of delinquents yet.

Sound like a Mom?

Too bad! I am the Mom and I get to make the rules. Live with it.

We'll know in a week or so if she get's to go. Grandpa will have to pick her up at 2:30 each day and entertain her until we get home. I think he can probably manage that :)

I can't believe she's finally big enough to go to school. This means a lot of things but mostly we're going to be saving $500 a month between daycare and speech therapy. Woohoo! Sure there's all that learning to read and write, making lifelong friends, beginning the quest for college scholarships etc. etc.... but $500 a month! That's huge!

I can almost hear those calves bleating in our newly fenced field now.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Getting Our Freak On



A week and a half ago, I moved the Cornish chicks to the barn because they were WAY outgrowing their tub. I filled it up with pine shavings and set the heat lamp on top. They stayed out there several days and then last weekend Bryon helped me truck them outside. I kept the lamp on them for a couple of nights (actually Bryon had to because I was in Bolivar helping with a garage sale). So far so good. No more lamp and I've been scooting them around the yard every day. It's ridiculous how MUCH 13 chickens can poop! And EAT! They are 33 days old and have gone through two 40 pound bags of chick starter ($11.99 a bag). I don't think I want to do the math on how much they are going to cost to eat. Oh, what the hell, let's!

13 Cornish Cross Chicks (they gave me one free!) = $25.00
Chick starter = $12.00
Chick starter = $12.00
Lumber for chicken tractor = $18.00
Electricity for 250 watt heat bulb 24/7 for 3 weeks? Really, who can do that much math? I figure so far that makes them about $5.15 each. I'll probably have to feed them two more bags of feed so that makes it $7 each. Is that right? Please feel free to correct my math. I was an English major after all.

Anyway, they'll be tasty, and depending on how things go on butcher day (probably the first weekend in June)I'll get some more in the fall.





Now...how about some goats?

Soccer Girl, Game On

We skipped Graces's game last week to help Mom with her garage sale. She was missed. Coach said the other team was really mean and they were poor sports (pushing and pulling on clothes and each other) and we lost 2-1. I missed soccer practice last week and her game yesterday was postponed because of rain and a mudpit for a field.

She did do GREAT the week before that though and they had team pics made.


She has a great time on the field. Of course there is a lot of this...

but she got to be goalie so she was excited. She got to wear the special "goalie" shirt and everything. Coach gave her the run down. She was all over it.

In the zone...


She blocked several goals...

And had an all around good time...

Life is good...

Life is Just a Chair of Bowlies


This month has been really crazy. I foolishly agreed, nay volunteered to change territories. What the hell was I thinking? All month I've been training the new girl in my old territory and getting reacquainted with my new/old territory. Before I went on maternity leave I had Laclede, Camden, Pulaski, Phelps and Dent counties + five others. I have NO idea how I did that. I do remember several days while I was pregnant that I just had to pull over in a park or somewhere and take a nap for 30 minutes or I'd never have made it back home. The past four years I've been covering Northern Green, Polk, Hickory and Lawrence counties which has really been pretty cheesy.

The northeastern rep decided to retire and it just made geographical sense for me to make the move. Turns out geographical sense is not really nearly as good as common sense. I don't know why the hour and fifteen minutes to Rolla seems so much farther than the hour and fifteen minutes to Bolivar but it does!

I spent five days out this month with the new rep showing her the sites, the ropes and meeting and greeting. I had to do the same with the retiring rep and spent FOUR days last week in Rolla at Missouri S&T's blood drives trying to get my ducks in a row before next year and gleaning everything I could from Linda (the retiring rep). I am beat. If it hadn't been for Bryon and Grandpa Gary this week, Grace would have been abandoned! I didn't eat a home cooked meal all week! Bryon and Grace ate out every night and Bryon gained 4 pounds! I didn't get lunch every day until 2 or 3 and skipped dinner and lost 3 pounds. Of course, I've made up for it this weekend on a stress, power binge eating brownies. If weren't for brownies I'm sure I'd be an alcoholic. Chocolate is my drug of choice. Chocolate and television.

I didn't get home until after 8 every night last week and then stayed up catching up on my shows. They are the only decompression I get, so I'm screwed when the season finale's come on in a couple of weeks. I may need to stock up on brownies.

I'm hopeful things will slow down a bit now. My new territory officially stared Friday and Linda will be officially retired next Friday. I have one late night next week then I HOPE that's pretty much it until June.

I love my job and I'm pretty good at it after 9 years. I like change too, so I'm excited for the new opportunities. It just seems like everything piles on at once when change comes.

We've also been dealing with NO WASHING MACHINE for the past three weeks. You can imagine how fun THAT has been in the midst of everything else. It just died. It's the fourth time it's had to be repaired. This time the motor burned out. It's two years old. Thank God we bought the extended warranty! I know the repair guy on a first name basis now and his cell number is on my speed dial. Grandpa Gary oversaw the repairs and let him in to fix it. Bryon spent one evening at the laundry mat, I spent one and I schleped all my clothes to my Mom's the last time. I hadn't been in a laundry mat since the ice storm of 2007 and college before that. My MOM hadn't had to wash my clothes since college. I definitely appreciate my washing machine more than usual now.

As fate would have it, I had also been waiting all week for my BEES to come. They were supposed to be shipped on Saturday so I figured they would arrive on Monday. Monday morning bright and early I called the Niangua Post Office. Postal workers get nervous when live bees arrive. No bees. Tuesday, I called...no bees. Wednesday morning I called and Margaret at the PO said yes they had finally arrived but they didn't look very good and it appear that many of them were dead. She was right. There was about a half inch of dead bees on the bottom of the cage. She suggested I go online and claim my insurance on them, which I still plan to do. I took the rest of them home, suited up, hived the bees and was on the road to Rolla by 8:30 am.

Then Thursday night about 7:30 as I was driving home from Rolla, Bryon called to see how far out I was. I told him mile marker 119 (Marshfield is 100). He said he and Grace were headed to the vet with Ruger. He thought his leg was broken. Apparently Ruger had taken a dip in pond and then gone balls out up the back deck stairs only to fall back down them. Grace was the only witness because Bryon was around the side of the house. Bryon said he just started yelping like he'd been shot and when he got around the house Ruger's leg was just dangling. They loaded him up and called the Vet in for an ER call. The vet told them he'd take a look and xray if needed and set it in the morning.

I pulled in right as Bryon was carrying Ruger into the exam room. By the time the got there, Ruger was calmed down. The vet looked him over. He yelped, but the vet thought he'd just stretched his joint (knee area)and that nothing was broken. He said Ruger would probably hold and favor that leg until it healed, probably several weeks from now and he wasn't even going to give him any pain med because if he did he wouldn't take it easy on it at all. Let me tell you, that night was the best that dog has been. He didn't pee in the house and he laid calmly and lovingly across my lap on couch while I watched tv. He was downright pleasant.

That lasted one night.

He's insane again. Barely limping and OUTSIDE. Hopefully to stay.

Earth Day Slideshow

Grandma Vicki made this Earth Day Slideshow for Grace...I'm just a little behind.
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