Thursday, July 31, 2008

Working on the Chicken Tractor

Today was a fun family Chicken day. We worked on building the tractor as the birds grazed in the front yard. I had been afraid that they would wander off and that's why they needed penned, but now I'm thinking it's so dogs, racoons and others don't get them. The Buffies stayed in the same 8 foot area. Last year we had 4 of our 30 year old ash trees chopped down. Apparently it didn't kill the trees because we have bushes growing from the stumps. The birds found one of the stumps/bushes and claimed it as their own. They would get under the bush, and up on the stump (in the middle of the bush) and peep out from time to time.
They did venture out and take in some weeds and grass (and bugs) from other areas, and would come to the driveway and look at us building their new home.

Here is My Man and The Boy laying out one of the sides.....

And me, stapling the poultry netting down.

UG! Not a lovely picture!!

The Boy has adopted his favorite birdie, Buffy. I saw him carrying Buffy all over the yard, in the wheelbarrow, and I think I saw her take a ride on the razor scooter at one point. Muffy and Stuffy may be going back to their orginal farm this week as I'm pretty sure they are roos and not pullets. So we will switch them out for girls. I don't want to spend a season taming them only for them to become "Chicken n Dumplings." :)

A Boy and His Bird! It's a beautiful thing!!

We ran out of screws for the tractor, so we will finish it up, hopefully today (as long as it isn't raining too hard.) Stay tuned! More pictures on the way!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Two more chicken pics!

I updated yesterday's post to add some pictures of the birdies. Here are two more. I will get some better pictures of them tomorrow. I'm on my way for a double shift at work, but knew you were waiting with baited breath (so would that be fish breath?? OK, not as funny as most jokes, but did I get a grin??) to see a few more pictures.


So this post is WAAAAYYY overdue! I had it in blogger and never posted it! I'm sorry! This should be dated back in June. The Boy and I went strawberry picking and got 14 pounds of the biggest, juiciest berries. Here he is picking out the best ones.

And our 14 pound haul after it was all said and done!

Then I spent the next two days cleaning berries and putting up jam. I ended up with 14 containers of freezer jam (two didn't even make it into the freezer!) And 12 jam jars of traditional jam. I did have a live and learn moment that I will need to take a picture of for here... So after you water bathe the jam, while it is hot, you put the jars upside down so it will vacuum seal, but then you should turn the jar back over after about an hour while it cools. OK, so I didn't remember to turn them back right side up and all the jam jelled at the top of the jar leaving a 1 inch void at the bottom of the jar. Sigh. Live and learn. I could reboil them and get it back down, but it tastes the same either way right??

And if my chicken obsession wasn't scary enough :) Check out these two berries I found. One looks like the front half of a chicken and the other one looks like the back. So I put them together so you could see my chicken strawberry! Some people see elephants in cloud, others see trolls in tree bark ;> Me, I see chickens in strawberries. (OK, her head is little, but check out that tail!)


Today we got our Buffies!!!

Today (ok, techinally yesterday) was a busy and FUN day. We took a road trip! One of our customers opened a weekend rental log home down in Hocking Hills. Today was their open-house so we went down to support them.

So we spent about 4 hours hanging out and talking with the various folks that came past to see the place. My Man had great woodworking conversations with the man that basically built the cabin, and another friend that does rehabbing of old houses. There were some older folks (one 84!) that have lived in Pickerington their whole life and they had great stories of places I knew before they were the places I knew. The owner of the cabin was the long time milkman for Pickerington. Either he or his dad actually delivered milk to us out at the house in New England Acres. How 'bout that!

Then we started home. They lady that was chick-sitting was right on the way, but when we called no one was home. I called her mom on her cell phone and she wasn't going to be home until 7 pm (it was only 4:30) We decided to get some dinner and head on home because I had to work tonight. She called while we were still at On the Border. Apparently, she didn't get the message I left saying I'd pick the birdie up a different day.

So 5 miles from home, we turned around and hiked it out 20 miles back the way we came to get the girls. They are so pretty! And BLONDE! Like me! They have huge feet (also like me-grin). I figure they must be like puppies and grow into their feet. The mom showed us around her farm and her animals. She has 3 beautiful golden retreivers (also blonde like me!), and about 100 chickens. She raises "Buckeye" Chickens which is a breed started in Ohio and fairly rare to find. She also has 4 alpacas. The Boy got to feed the alpacas and check out all the different birds. My Man was most interested in the 100+ old trees on the property that had a minimum of a 14.5 foot circumference. We put our girls in the box we brought and took them home. They cooed and peeped the whole way home.

Then we introduced them to the puppies. They were so intrigued with the new scent. I'm sure they wanted a MUCH closer look, but I know they really ENJOY chicken so they got to sniff from a distance. We took some pictures, and I collapsed on the bed for 25 minutes before coming into work. WHEW!

As My dear Man said, he needs to buy me a farm for my chickens, which I added, "Yes, lets buy a $250K farm for my $10 chickens!" He also asked that I hold off buying a cow for now. Haha.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Are you depriving your kids? by Jill Cooper Kansas

One of the main questions I get asked about frugal living is, "Won't I be depriving my children if I live the frugal life?" Maybe I can answer that question with a question. How am I depriving my children by having them drink water for every meal instead of juice and soda? Isn't one thing doctors are always complaining about is that we don't drink enough water? Cutting out just one glass of soda per person per day for a family of four would save $547.50 a year and make them healthier.

How am I depriving my children by having them eat an apple or homemade granola bar for a snack instead of a bag of chips? Obesity is a major problem among children in the United States. If you cut out just one bag of chips a week you would save $104 a year and make them healthier.
How am I depriving my children by having them walk to school or to a friend's house instead of always driving them there? Lack of exercise is a big problem. You would save time and wear and tear on your car by having them walk and make them healthier at the same time.
How am I depriving my children when I don't buy them every toy they see and want? We wouldn't dream of giving a baby on baby food all the chocolate that he wants because we know it would make him sick. His body can not tolerate that much chocolate even if he desires it. In the same way, an older child can't emotionally deal with the overload of toys. I, as an adult, become stressed just from trying to buy a bottle of shampoo. Have you ever noticed how many options you have? Trying to make a decision can be overwhelming. Do I get it for thin, fine, dry and damaged, or colored and permed hair? The list goes on and on. In the same way when a young child looks at mounds of toys, he can become very stressed over choosing which one to play with. If you watch, you will notice that they tend to play with the same couple of toys over and over. If you didn't give them all the toys they asked for and bought one less brand new toy at $10 a week, you would save $520 in one year and you would help relieve them of some stress.
It is no wonder our children stay confused. We insist that they should eat healthy yet we take them out to eat three to five times a week at McDonald's. We give them a bag of carrot sticks in their lunch because it's healthy and then give them a bag of chips when they get home from school to get them off our backs.

We want them to have strong character yet the moment they whine or cry for another toy or some candy at the store we give in out of guilt. We are afraid that if we don't give them what they want, they won't love us, so to rid ourselves of uncomfortable feelings we say yes. How can we teach them to be strong in character when we are so weak?

How could our society and way of thinking have gotten so mixed up that we think a child is deprived if a mom chooses to stay home and not go to work? We have come to believe that moms should work outside the home so that children can have the most expensive clothes, education or material things. (Note I didn't say best but rather most expensive since the most expensive doesn't mean the best.) If a mom goes to work so a child can have all those things it's not considered depriving the child of anything but his mom. Which do you think does a child more harm — being deprived expensive things or his mom?

For you stay at home moms: Before you become too puffed up with pride be aware that too many social, church and school activities can deprive your children of you just as much as working. Do all things in moderation.

Cows we're considering..

These small cattle originated in southern Ireland in the 1800s, bred by farmers with small holdings in the mountains. The cattle foraged in rough country adjacent to the little farms and though they roamed freely they were known as the Irish House Cow. The breed may have begun by crossing the Kerry (small, fine-boned dairy breed descended from the Celtic Shorthorn, brought to Ireland 4,000 years ago) with another breed, perhaps the Devon. The first Dexters imported to America were not recorded; no distinction was made in those days between Dexters and Kerrys. The first recorded Dexters were imported in 1905.
Today the breed is few in number but there is growing interest in these small, gentle cattle since they need less feed than other breeds and thrive in a variety of climates. Mature cows weigh less than 750 pounds; bulls weigh less than 1,000 pounds. There are two varieties--the short-legged beef type and the long-legged Kerry type, but both can appear in the same herd, from the same matings, and both have good milk and beef production. Most are black, but some are red, and all have horns. Cows give more milk for their body weight than any other breed (including high producing dairy cows). Calves are born easily and grow fast, maturing by 12 to 18 months of age as finished beef.

So I didn't get ANYTHING done....

I went home and fell asleep, and next thing I knew it was time to go to work for my double shift. I love that my family takes such good care of me, but sometimes I have things to do and don't care to sleep the day away. Sigh...oh well, maybe tomorrow. I'm only working a 12 hour shift then.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mid July???ALREADY?

It's been awhile for posting as we've had tragedy and mayhem in the family. A very good friend of the family died in a tragic car accident leaving our son's 7 year old best girlfriend without her father. We've been doing all that we can to help and My Boy is having some trouble with the loss as well. He has issues with me going to work, so we're trying to work through that. Add to that the other deaths and sicknesses all around...

ON the homesteading side.....we went and looked at "our farm" again on Saturday. Boy I sure do like that place and the more we learn about it the more fitting (not saying perfect!) it is. We discovered this weekend that it has also been "reversed wired" which means that basically if you lose power you plug one plug at the front of the house into a generator and you have power. This is also good because it goes along with my hope to go "off grid" within 5 years using solar and wind power.

The barn lean tos are deeper than I thought so we will have plenty of room for the animals I am hoping to start with, and plenty of room to expand. Plus the orginal barn that has been redone is solid and tight and will be great for equipment and feed. The orginal hay mow is still intact for our hay, and there is a door at the back of the barn below the mow, leading into the animal part of the barn. Our initial monetary outlay is going to be the fences. Wood is expensive, but looks the best. I'd like to do wooden slat fences with wire mesh on the bottoms. We may be able to do it pasture by pasture because I don't think we will get all the animals right off. We will start with the chickens....OH, the chickens are being chicken sitted at the moment...we'll go get them tomorrow, so I should have pictures soon!

Then I think the next animal is going to be a cow. I found a Dexter, which is a great homesteading cow. It tends to be smaller than regular cows and it is considered a "dual breed". Some cows are best for meat, others for milk (just like with chickens and eggs) A Dexter is a good meat breed, and gives about 8 gallons (OMIGOSH) of milk A DAY, and are good mommies. I found one for a really reasonable price that is going to calf the first week in August. I told My Man that she was going to be his birthday gift! HAHAHA!

Well, I will do a better job of posting. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day though. I will be working an 16 hours shift at work and we are taking the first trailer full of stuff to the storage unit (already, I've been hunting for something I already packed!) and unloading it. My Man needs his trailer for the next load of wood for beds. OH, and I have to upload HIS newest creation for his bed line...very cute. He's still swamped with orders, praise God. I just wish we were in the new place so he could work more efficiently and not be so cramped. Soon hopefully. Plus we are to pick up Muffy, Buffy and Stuffy, and a bushel of cucumbers for me to make my first pickles! And I need to pick up other canning supplies too. Oh, and torrow is supposed to be a library day....that may get pushed out. I may not get the supplies done and I may not get pickles actually done until Wednesday, Thursday. On Tuesday, I'm working a 12 hour shift, then on Wednesday, I think I am taking the Boy and his little girlfriend to see WALL-E. Updates tomorrow, I'll do better, i promise.