Tuesday, June 30, 2009

True End of TV Drought

I ended my tv drought this past weekend with at a 12 hour marathon of TrueBlood. It was AWESOME!

I made it 40 days without watching television - at all. Okay, there was that ONE night when we had tornados in the area and I just really need Ron Hearst and Brandon Beck to tell me what to expect when the Big T's are rolling around the countryside.

So what did I learn from 40 days without television?

1. That I could NOT watch it if I really wanted to.
2. That there is a lot of CRAP on television and silence (as if our house ever is) or at least music is preferrable to CRAP.
3. That life lasts longer, or seems to, when it's not divided up into 30 minute intervals with commercial breaks.
4. That I still can't read anymore than I usually get read because clothes still need washed, supper still needs made and Grace still needs a bath.
5. That I still like my shows and find them relaxing to watch.

So was it worth hit? Yeah I think so. Sort of like teaching high school, riding the Katy Trail and childbirth...been there, done that and didn't buy but one t-shirt. I can mark it off the list....


Monday, June 22, 2009

Well Fed Neighbor Podcast

Okay, so I'm not a fan of Vincent David Jericho, but Bryon is and he listens most mornings. He called to tell me about this show and I went on VDJ's website and downloaded it. This group, Well Fed Neighbor, is RIGHT ON track I think.

Listen and decide for yourself...


and check them out at


The heat is on!

I am a slug.

I am FULL of ambition, ideas and plans right up until the moment the mercury reaches around 90 degrees and suddenly it all evaporates...literally. About this time of the year, EVERY year, I start dreaming of moving to a cooler climate...permanently. Missouri is not kind to the fair weather girl I've become.

But, we are settled, set, entrenched and I wouldn't give up my house and farm now for anything. So as long as the air conditioner keeps working, I'll keep creeping out to do the few things I HAVE TO outside to keep things limping along until relief comes again.

I even put a fan out in the chicken house. It's almost 100 degrees in there and one of the Buff's is sitting on fertilized eggs! This is day 11 for her and apparently if all goes well in 21 days, we could, SHOULD have baby chicks. Charity brought the eggs up from her farm next door since I had a broody hen and she had the fertilized eggs. So which does come first? Hmmmm.

Anyway, I was feeling sorry for her sitting in there sweating her feathers off and put a little fan in there. It did help. Still hot but at least the air is moving around.

We'll see what happens. They are Rhode Island Reds if they hatch out. I'm not sure what the plan is when they do, but I've been thinking of getting Bryon to build me a little chicken hut to attach to the chicken tractor so she and the chicks can use it and keep them separated from the other hens. I'm not sure how or if they would all get along.

Hmmmm...see how optimistic the air conditioning makes me...more projects!

Do you need a mental multivitamin?

My friend Liz sent me a link to this neat blog http://mentalmultivitamin.blogspot.com/2003/10/on-nightstand-archive.html and one of the books she's reading is "How to Be an Explorer of the World" (Keri Smith) The blog says...

In a neat bit of synchronicity, Smith includes a variation on the Kalman quote above (about walking the world with all of the essentials in a backpack) in the opening pages of her "Portable Art Life Museum." Asserting that artists and scientists view their worlds in "surprisingly similar ways" -- observation, collection, analysis, comparison, pattern identification -- Smith describes how to become an explorer of the world:

1. Always be looking. (Notice the ground beneath your feet.)

2. Consider everything alive and animate.

3. Everything is interesting. Look closer.

4. Alter your course often.

5. Observe for long durations (and short ones).

6. Notice the stories going on around you.

7. Notice patterns. Make connections.

8. Document your findings (field notes) in a variety of ways.

9. Incorporate indeterminancy.

10. Observe movement.

11. Create a personal dialogue with your environment. Talk to it.

12. Trace things back to their origins.

13. Use all of the senses in your investigations.

Cool huh?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grace Funnies

It takes FOREVER for me to get Grace to bed. Bryon and I take turns every other night. He gets her to bed in about 15 minutes. It takes me at least 30 minutes. We read two library books and then rock a little bit and finally I get her into bed. Then she needs a drink of water...and covered up a little more...and needs to tell me something. Working the Mama.

When I'm done rocking her she ALWAYS says, "Just a liiitttlllee bit more". So I rock for like thirty seconds and tell her it's time.

Friday night I thought I'd get smart and warn her ahead of time and bypass the last minute plea of more time. I said, "Okay Grace, I'm going to rock you one more minute and then it's right to bed." We rocked a minute more and I said, "Okay, give me a kiss, it's time for bed." She says, "No, I say a little bit more." I said, "No I SAY now." We argued back a forth for a few more volleys and finally as I'm scooping her up and into bed she puts her hand over her eyes exaperated and says all weepily, "I'm about to tell my teacher on you!".

I guess Ms Dana was the highest authority she could think to report me to.

At least she didn't tattle to Jesus.

Birthday Fence

Ruger has dug his last hole in my garden.

I used my birthday money to buy six hog panels so we could build a fence around the garden this weekend. Come hell or high water that DOG was not getting into the garden again. I was ready to build the thing myself if I had to. Mercifully, I have a very patient and handy husband who took pity on me and my craziness and hopped to it this weekend. Left to me, the thing would have consisted completely of electric fence post, hog panels and quick ties.

Bryon patiently, okay so MOSTLY patiently, measured and squared until we ended up with this...

It took us four hours to build in the hot sun Saturday. We made three "gates" into it and even though it won't keep all the OTHER wildlife out, Ruger has dug his last hole.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Bryon wanted a strawberry rhubarb pie for his birthday which was last weekend. I bought some rhubarb Friday night at the Marshfield Farmers Market and used some of the frozen strawberries I'd bought a couple of weeks ago and made this pie for him today.

I Googled for a recipe and this was the first one that came up http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/001137strawberry_rhubarb_pie.php .

He liked it. I didn't know what it was SUPPOSED to taste like because of course I'd never tried it. I ate a piece tonight though and I have to admit it was pretty good. It didn't really thicken up enough (guess it needed more tapioca) but still not bad for a first try.

And yes, that's a smiley face on it :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chicken by the Numbers.

I finally did the math, no small task for me, on exactly how much these first broilers cost me per pound.

I bought 12 chicks, got one free for $23.52. Spent $19.99 on materials for to construct a chicken tractor for them to live in. Bought four bags of feed at $11.99 per bag. I ended up with 11 edible birds and 42.4 lbs of chicken in the freezer.

Total cost $93.08

Price per pound $2.19

Eating chickens you just raised in your own front yard ...


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tent Camping

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Last weekend was Bryon's 41st birthday and our first tent camping experience as a family. Bryon had been a few times since Grace was born but this was the first time in about 5 1/2 years for me to sleep in a tent.

Bryon and I have spent countless nights camping in tents in the nearly 19 years we've been married, but when we finally bought a 30 ft. pull trailer and slept in a real bed with real air conditioning, I have to say that was pretty sweet.

Of course the thing WAS 30 ft long, low to the ground and we got about six miles to the gallon pulling it so it cost us at least $100 in gas if we went to Bennett Springs, Pomme de Terre or Taneycomo, so this year we decided to sell it.

We had gotten a GREAT deal on it and ended up selling it for $250 more than we paid for it four years ago. You can't beat that. We decided to save the money from it for my trip to Italy next summer and Bryon's trip hunting...somewhere...when he decides where.

So the next problem is what now? We thought we might just rent cabins for the few times a year we actually GO camping now, but a cabin at Bennett was $119 a night. What? That didn't really make much sense to us to spend that much money to sleep a half hour from our home so that left tent camping. The only problem was that the only tents we own are backpacking tents. One sleeps two, the other is a bivvy that sleeps ONE. Bryon thought we could make due with the Walrus and our queen size air mattress until Grace climbed in bed with us one Saturday morning at 6 am and he headed for the couch. No room.

We got a great deal on a Coleman tent from some Boy Scouts who had gotten them from FEMA somehow and tada ... $30 family tent. It's 10x14 so it's like a nylon bedroom in the woods.

Grace was so excited to go camping she could not hardly wait and asked every day if THIS was the day. She told everyone she saw that we were camping for THREE NIGHTS. She did great and could have stayed longer. She already wants to go again.

Tent problem solved but the next problem was what to take, what not to take and where to draw that line. It turns out it takes a lot of stuff to be a Medley in the woods. We packed and repacked, stuffed and poked and stored until we had a truck bed full. Actually MORE than a truck bed full and I was afraid we'd have to take two vehicles which of course would have totally defeated the purpose of paring down and getting better gas mileage.

Here's what we ended up with...

It was a LOT of stuff, but it ended up being a nice camp which was pretty sweet. Ours is the blue one in the back on the left in the picture at the top of the page.

Grace fell off her bike first thing and scraped her knee the tiniest bit. Then Grandpa fell off my bike and scraped his some more. Here they are comparing camping injuries.

Being the fabulous mother that I am, Grace and I even signed up to become Junior Naturalists and went to two programs at the Nature Center at Bennett Springs. The Friday program was on bears. Saturday I saw there was one on snakes. I do NOT like snakes. At all. I thought about just not saying anything to her because of course she can't read so she'd never even have known, but as Junior Naturalists we have to attend four programs. We went to the snake program. Nana went too (she came down for the afternoon). Grace had more fun making fun of and teasing me because she KNOWS how much I hate snakes.

There are several other things we have to do to earn our badge such as 3 hours of service for the parks (ie pick up trash etc), help a Naturalist (ie pass out flyers or clean up after a program), learn to identify 5 things (two birds, 3 plants or trees) and show them to a Naturalist. We can do it! You can complete the program as many times as you want and after you earn your first official badge then you get a gold star patch for each additional time you complete the program. One lady started when she was sixty and had completed the program 63 times already. I'd say she's a Senior Naturalist by now.

Our friends the Huggler camped with us and we all really had a good time.

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It was the perfect weather weekend for camping and despite the fact it was free fishing weekend (Yikes!) and packed to the gills. I just popped in my ear plugs and slept pretty good all night.

I might have a different opinion in July or August but it was a pretty swell weekend all and all.

Get your camp on.

Pecking Perpetrator?

I think this Buff Orphington is the egg pecking perpetrator. She got all broody last summer (or at least I THINK it was her, both of the Buff's look alike to me) and now she is broody again. She just sits and sits in that nesting box facing the wall on nothing at all except for some flattened down pine shavings.

I keep checking under her for eggs but she's not even sitting on any anymore AND ever since she got so broody... no eggs have gotten pecked on the end. She's not laying right now either so I'm not exactly sure what is going on except that she seems to be in some sort of motherhood meltdown longing for a brood.

If I had some fertilized eggs I'd put them under her to see what would happen.

I think the Buffs are going to make the best mothers. I'll probably eventually replace all my layers with the Buffs. Buffs are good for meat OR eggs because they become pretty hefty chickens. NOT like those Cornish Crosses but still, they are very significant birds. And cute. Cute is good on the farm.

THIS is our strawberry patch...

or should I say CLOVER patch. I totally lost control of it last summer and we didn't get the new bed built in time to move the strawberry plants. Grace looks everyday for berries and has managed to pick a handful or two but mostly it's just clover. Which, it turns out, is GREAT for my chickens so all and all it's really not that bad a deal. I go out there a couple of times a day in an effort to "weed" it (obviously not working) and feed a few big handfuls to the hens who absolutely LOVE it. I planted some Omega 3 mix from Peaceful Valley (which consists of Consists of: 20% Common Flax, 5% Ladino Clover, 5% Birdsfoot Broadleaf Trefoil, 10% Non-dormant Alfalfa, 20% Red Cowpeas, 40% Buckwheat) around the outside of their run to feed them as well since they are a captive audience now.

They see me coming with it and follow me all around the chicken run to the door waiting impatiently for me to throw it in to them.

Clover, it's what's for dinner.

Of course we are not lacking in clover in our yard either. I like it though. We might not be able to tip toe through the tulips but we can clod through the clover.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Going, going, gone!

I've been on a cleaning and purging frenzy lately. I finally went through my closet and got rid of two giant lawn sized trash bags full of clothes. I took them to the Community Thrift Closet in Marshfield. They were happy to take them and I was happy to have them gone. My closet is STILL too full but it's better.

I tried to be relentless but there are still a few things I keep thinking, I MIGHT wear. I won't. I just need to let it go. I read somewhere about the idea of turning the hanger around backwards when you hang something up that you wear, then you can see what you do and don't wear and purge at the end of each season. I think I'll try that.

I finally got rid of all the blood drive and race t-shirts I've accumulated over the past nine years too. I still have the memory, I don't need the shirt. I think I'll start collecting coffee mugs instead.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh Potato!

After a long weekend of camping, more on that later, we got home and decided to harvest our new potatoes. Surprise! They weren't all new anymore! We planted Yukon Golds and Red Norlands (both of which I emailed the company to ask if they were GMO (genetically modified organisms). The company sent a curt "No they are not" reply. I guess I expected to be congratulated for asking or something but they did give me my answer. Of course being so short and sweet I had to wonder if they were maybe just tired of being asked and just told me what I wanted to hear. Paranoia anyone?

We had a GREAT harvest! The most Bryon has ever had he said. Those plants were TALL before they started falling over and Ruger (the pig) started LAYING in them. He's got some weird thing for tall grass and plants and we kept seeing trampled down holes in the middle of the plants and finally figured out he was the culprit. He kept trying to steal potatoes out of the box as we dug them out with our hands. There were a TON of HUGE worms in there! Grace loved picking them up and playing with them. We made her put them back though so they could keep doing their good work!

And good work they DID!

This is the second year with these raised beds and we used ALL of the rabbit manure in them over the winter along with the pine bedding I used with them. It sure paid off! Of course now those bunnies are living with the White's and we have quail in the rabbit hutch. By next spring our chicken compost will be ready to use. We may miss that rabbit manure though! Hmmmm...definately going to have to get two GIRLS or two BOYS next time! I don't need any more bunny surprises.

Tonight we had a great dinner of one of my Cornish Cross chickens roasted in a bag in the oven with rosemary and thyme, roasted new Red Norland potatoes with Borsin cheese and heirloom Devil's Ear and Lollo Rossa lettuce from our garden.

It just keeps getting better and better.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I just counted up and I've read 21 books since the first of the year (23 weeks if I counted right). That's a pretty good clip for making my 52 books this year. It's been pretty easy really. I usually read at lunch and then before bed. I have been staying up later trying to steal back some of my time. It's a real "robbing Peter to pay Paul" arrangement because God and Bryon know I need my beauty sleep.

This is also the 13th day I've gone without watching television.

The Bad Tomadoes (aka Hillbilly Hurricane) last month totally killed our local channels DirecTV dish so I missed the season finale of Lost, Fringe and the Mentalist. I caught the first two online and watched them on my computer but CBS has the most useless website in the universe and they only had random clips of the Mentalist episodes. Totally useless.

Almost everything I watch is on the local channels. I hardly ever even watch the satellite. Bryon loves to watch Ultimate Fighting on SpikeTV and his hunting shows on OLN. Grace watches Noggin.

I'd be willing to cancel the whole thing but I don't think that's going to happen.

I was pretty mad at first when the satellite crapped out but then Thursday May 21 when I turned on the television, I realized there was absolutely NOTHING I really even wanted to watch. I watched the 5 and 6 pm news and then turned it off. I haven't turned it back on since except to listen to music on the Coffee House XM channel. I figure that doesn't really count because I turn the TV part off anyway.

I missed it at first but now I'm totally done with it. I could even wait and rent the next seasons of my television shows if I can keep it up. It would save us $75 a month to cancel DirecTV.

We've been listening to some old albums, working outside, reading, surfing the internet and playing Wii a lot more. It's amazing how much more you can get done when your life isn't dependent on 30 minute sitcoms, hour long dramas and commercial breaks.

Grace hasn't missed it at all even though I haven't been MAKING her not watch tv. She's been watching her Scooby Doo movies some but this morning when I turned on her cartoons (Franklin on Noggin) to watch while I got ready for work; she turned it back off...herself.

Bryon's been watching some stuff he tapes on the DVR but really, it's been pretty nice. I've even learned in the past 13 days to enjoy the quiet.

We'll see how long it lasts but I'm thinking I could make it all summer.

My friend Jeff at work likes to give himself little challenges like resisting sweets just to see if he can muster up the willpower to do it. At first I thought that was pretty lame, but really I think he's got the right idea. Little challenges lead to bigger rewards.

No WAY am I giving up sweets though. Honestly, no one wants to know the me off sweets.

I think I'll stick with the television for now.