Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Little Farm Is Not A Hobby!!!

Yesterday I was checking out various websites trying to glean more ideas about establishing little farms,when I saw a term that made me remember a conversation I had had with a friend of ours about 4 months ago. The term was "hobby farm." The conversation was about what we are trying to do here,at our place,which we have affectionately dubbed "The Little Yellow Farm." He had asked how much land we have,and I told him .63 acres,with trees all along the border. No field,just grassy lawn-your basic yard. He then asked how big our garden was,and if we had any animals. I replied that we were getting chickens and turkeys,and that to date we had 9 square foot boxes,but we wanted to expand as time went on. We don't make money off anything,at least,not yet. "Oh,"he said,"You have a hobby farm." This friend has quite a few acres,and has different kinds of farm animals,which he uses to make money,whether through selling them or butchering them and selling the meat. I believe he also sells veggies. At any rate,he makes part of his living from his farm,if not more than half of his living. My first reaction was that of being greatly insulted. I don't really think he was trying to belittle what we are trying to do,but that was my gut reaction. Was he saying that because we don't have acres of land,and by not making a living off it,our little farm was not as good as his? Did this mean it wasn't legitimate if money was not trading hands? Since when did the main goal of feeding our family good,healthy food we grow ourselves be considered a "hobby"? I thought it was a way of life!

I decided to look up what farm,hobby,and hobby farm meant.From Merriman-Webster Dictionary online:
Farm:a tract of land devoted to agricultural purposes
Hobby: a pursuit outside one's regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation

From Wikipedia ( Hobby Farm was not in Merriman-Webster):
Hobby Farm:a small holding or small farm that is maintained without expectation of being a primary source of income

We do have land set aside for agricultural purposes,so it can be called a farm. Our main source of income is Rick's disability,and getting big enough to get any type of sustainable income from the land is highly unlikely. A bit of pocket money or enough to pay for feed,seed or extras seems more like it. And as far as being a hobby....well, to me reading is a hobby. Blogging is a hobby. Trying to create the type of life we want is not a hobby. It's gratifying WORK! me the term Hobby Farm doesn't quite work when you look at the meaning of the word hobby. Don't get me wrong,I know people who garden for a hobby,and I think that's great! They work all day and get out there and grow their veggies,and can the extras. Our home is our work.
We can,make laundry soap,hand soap,candles,compost,have rain barrels,garden,have chickens and turkeys.Next year we hope to double our garden boxes,and maybe get a couple of goats (that is still in the discussion stage,it depends on a few factors).The goats would be for meat,milk,and cheese.I will be trying dish washing soap next. We are always looking to improve and do more.

Maybe we ( Rick finds it insulting as well) are being too sensitive here. How do you all feel about the term Hobby Farm? If you have a small farm,which does not generate sustainable or any income,do you think of it as a Hobby Farm,or do you feel that term sells all your hard work short?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Time To Replenish

My first time making laundry soap was on Sept 5,2009. Since then I have made 6 batches,or 12 gallons of soap. My initial purchase was a box of Borax,a box of Washing Soda,and two bars of Fels Naptha soap. It was less than $10.
Yesterday, I used the last of my Fels Naptha soap. It lasted 10 months.Each bar is .99 cents. Next week I will buy two more bars. I still have quite a bit of Borax and Washing Soda,since I only use 1/2 a cup of each in each batch. I think I may be able to keep using them until I need to replenish my Fels Naptha again.So it is very possible that I will be able to get almost 2 years of laundry soap with about $12.00. You can't get much better than that! I love my laundry soap. It has a nice,fresh,scent,not overpowering at all. And it cleans like all get out.
Another item I need to replenish is my lye. I was going to make lavender soap yesterday,but discovered that my lye was a tad short of another batch. I have a couple bars of Oatmeal Milk and Honey in use,and a couple small bar left. I did buy some bar soap while I was grocery shopping yesterday as it will take a while once the soap is made to cure. I call it my "back up soap." It's the first time I have bought soap in months! What a nice feeling it is to walk buy something you normally have to purchase,knowing you can make it at home and you are saving money! I order my lye from It costs $10,plus shipping,for 2 lbs of flake lye. I need to send a Hazardous Material Waver Form first before they will send it me,though.
I am going to make Dish Soap. I have found a recipe on Lizzy Lane Farm that I am going to give a shot. I have just purchased dish soap,so it will have to wait. At least I can reuse the plastic container.
Today I am making Strawberry Jam,my first attempt. It shouldn't be bad. Rick's favorite is Strawberry Jam,and we are out,so he is anxious to try it. I think tomorrow I will try my hand at Zucchini Relish.
The boys have gone to get Zach's hair cut,and then they are going to chip up the brush pile,and clear back the tree line,leaving the birches. We are going to move back our compost area,which is growing bigger with the addition of the chickens and turkeys poo and hay/straw/wood shavings. We are going to get it a bit more organized.
It's a sunny,cool,breezy day here. I don't think there is one cloud in the sky. It reminds me of Fall. I love it!!!
I am off to sweep,dust,and make Jam......have a great day!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fruits of the Harvest

Now that my cucumbers are coming in droves,I have been busy canning. To date I have made 12 pints of bread and butter pickles,and 6 1/2 pints of sweet pickle relish. More pickles and relish are to follow,I am sure. I want to make sure we have enough to share with family,and to have for ourselves for the rest of the year.Maybe next year I will have enough to sell by the road for a little pocket money.However,providing for us comes first.

I spent three days in a row canning,and I must admit that I am getting more comfortable with it. Anything new can be a bit overwhelming,and since I have only one canning attempt under my belt,which was not successful,you can imagine I was a bit tentative. But each batch got easier. The timing of the getting the canning water the right temp,the water to boil the jar and lids to 180 degrees,and getting the spices and produce ready took a couple of tries. At first,I stared the water way too early and too low a temp. The third time I had the heat on high,and when the temp neared 180 degrees,I lowered the temperature on the burner. I suppose it's like anything else,practice makes perfect! Of course,we have to let these sit for 4-6 weeks;they were not brined,they were fresh packed. The pickle cukes and onions sat in salt and ice for 1 1/2 hours;
for the relish the cukes,onions,green and red peppers sat in salt and cold water for 2 hours. I am going to make some strawberry jam next. Since we just planted our strawberries this year,our harvest has been a strawberry here and there,so I had to buy them this morning.

One thing I have noticed is my batches never come out with as many jars as they say it's going to take. My relish was suppose to make( 8) 1/2 pints;I had 6. The pickles 7 pints;each time I came out with 6. My Dear Friend Michelle says that that happens to her as well,so I don't feel that bad!

Today I am making another batch of laundry soap;I have finally used up my Fels Naptha soap. I bought all my ingredients either late last summer or Fall. The two bars of Fels Naptha lasted that long! Such a savings. I also need to make more hand soap. I would love to find a recipe for dish detergent;I have only found dishwasher recipes,and since I don't have a dishwasher,that won't work. Anyone out there have a good dish soap recipe?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Lovely Morning

As you can guess from the title of this post,it is a lovely morning. There is a nice breeze,and it is very comfortable outside-no humidity. On our screen porch it is 70 degrees,and it feels like an early Fall day. I love it! We did have to go through some nasty weather last night to get here,however. Terrible thunderstorms rolled in,but the worst seemed to be to the east and north of us. I haven't heard any confirmations,but there was word that tornadoes touched down around Ossipee Lake and over in Wakefield,which is the next town over from us. I still find it amazing that here in NH we have tornadoes. Growing up,I never heard of any.Now it seems they are very common. I guess the theory that we live in a hilly state and tornadoes only exist in flat states is a crock. I do admit that I get more cautious than I used to be when we have thunderstorms with a tornado warning or watch. We had a bad tornado rip through the state 2 years ago- and the path was suppose to go right by our house. We were down in Newington at a BBQ for Rick's PTSD group,and when we got home,our neighbor informed us that Channel 9 was warning that Middleton Corners was in the path of the tornado (we live in Middleton,but Middleton Corners is in reference to the four corners that is right down the street .If I stand in the road in front of my house,I can see it).The tornado decided to go more north west. Our weather patterns have been very bizarre the last few years,though in New England,we have a saying about it:"If you don't like the weather,wait a minute,it will change."

Today I am going to try my hand at canning pickles. Hmmm. Should be interesting. I haven't tried any canning since my sad attempt at making blueberry jam last year,in which I attempted to make jam with less berries than was called for. Those of you who are seasoned canners know that doesn't work so well.When they say don't deviate from the recipe,they aren't fooling! I had to buy a decent scale,so while Zach and I were out buying him school supplies yesterday,I picked up a digital one. I can use it for canning and making soap,so it's an investment.

I do need to cut back my Sweet Basil,and I should pick some other herbs to dry them for the winter months. Thank goodness my corn has been staked,I don't think it would have made it through last night's storm. My rain barrel is running over, so we have at least 60 gallons. We need to get the second one up and running soon.

Enjoy this gorgeous day!!!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Good And Bad Effects Of Rain

Our dry summer continues in NH. There has not been much rain to speak of,and the very few times we have had it,it has been in the form of quick moving downpours. Saturday and Sunday, Rick and Brother B decided to start working on the rain barrels.I think we all hoped if we put them out,it might actually rain! Our rain barrels,which are actually blue juice barrels, were free. One we got from Rick's brother Dale,and the other from Rick's friend,Paul. We borrowed a pressure washer from our neighbor Kelly. Rick sawed off half of the cover,and he and Brother B gave the insides of the barrels a good cleaning. While I was out on a Garden tour,they set up this one barrel,built the stand,set the spigot,and got one coat of paint on before I saw it. They figured it would blend into the house.The also set up gutters and downspouts into the barrels. We did have to buy the spigots,silicone,and gutters. Hmm...looks like my bulkhead needs a good sanding and repainting! The house needs to be repainted as well. I think that will be either a Fall or next year project.
This barrel is by the front of the house,near the apple tree,hydrangeas,and the well. The second barrel will be by the chicken coop and garden.The main purpose of the barrels is for watering the garden and birds,but if we have enough,we will also help fill the well. We do need to put a screen over the top of the barrels to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs,and from assorted debris.You can see the downspout has been put directly into the the barrel. Good thing, too, because,last night we had a heck of a rainstorm!

While the thunder and lightning wasn't bad at all,it was quite windy and the rain was very heavy.It rained for about half an hour.When the rain was over,we checked the water level in the barrel,and it was slightly over 20 gallons of water! Each barrel holds 50 gallons.We should've done rain barrels a long time ago.The second one isn't fully done yet,so it didn't gather the water it should have. The stand for it has not been built,so the downspout doesn't come down all the way into the barrel.

While that is good news,we did have some frustration. It rained so hard,that it flattened the corn.
This is what the corn looked like this morning. Brother B started to stake the corn up,putting stakes on each end,and keeping the corn upright by putting the them in between two rows of string that are tied to the stakes. We are hopeful that this will help get them situated again,but a few of the stalks have had it. The rest of the garden came out of it fine. You can see my tomatoes on the left side of the picture.
Today I picked enough cucumbers to make pickles,and I have at least four pumpkins that are doing really well. I also discovered two cantaloupes!Each day brings more tomatoes(still green,aren't big enough yet),my lettuce is still thriving,and we enjoyed some carrots last night.I think my peas have about had it,though.The zucchini and summer squash are doing well,my peppers are still a bit slow,though we do have one blossom. Tonight we are going to enjoy some grean beans. Can't beat fresh veggies!!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Radical Homemakers

Right now, I am reading "Radical Homemakers,"by Shannon Hayes. It is probably one of the most eye opening books I have ever read. Not so much for the philosophy,since I already believed in what she was saying,for the most part,but more for the history of households.

I guess I should back track a bit here. The book is divided into two sections:Section 1 is the history of the household,Section 2 consists of the stories of several Radical Homemakers across the US,why they are doing what they are doing and how.

I have never really thought about the history of households. I knew that it had changed through time,but the particulars of it were missing.The transition from producer to consumer was very interesting.

Households use to be a joint effort. Before the Industrial Revolution,people had to make everything they needed,or trade with their neighbors for goods and/or services. People worked together,because they had to. Men and women made a home TOGETHER. It was a joint effort. Households had a lot of power nationally,since they were producers.When the Industrial Revolution happened,it changed everything. Most of what the men did were now done in factories and could be bought in stores. They no longer had to make nails or butcher their own meat. Now they needed money,however,so they had to go to work,leaving the woman alone to take care of the house. This is when corporations saw a new market-sell to the homemaker. More things that were once made at home (predominately by the woman) were now for sale-soap,candles,clothing,processed food,etc. By the 1950's,women were getting bored. They were taking care of kids,cleaning,cooking,and that was about it.This is when "Housewife" started getting a bad rap. Then they started going to work,which opened up an even greater selling market-cars,work clothes,TV dinners,microwaves-things we were told we couldn't live without. The home was now a consumer,all it's power gone,because the household no longer relied on it's self.It relied on corporations. Now corporations have all the power. That's a nutshell version,and Shannon Hayes goes into much greater detail! It is very sad and very true.

When we started on this venture,it wasn't a political statement by any means. It was just something we wanted to do,and that we enjoy. Others are far more into it than we are. We are still learning and seeing where we want to go.We exchange work with our neighbors. If they have the skills and equipment to do something we don't,they help,and vise versa. Anything we do,we try to do ourselves or with our network of neighbors and friends. We have never paid a contractor for anything,at least,not so far. Our yard has been graded,our well fixed,driveway extended,outlet for our dryer installed,french doors hung,rooms remodeled,floors installed,chicken coop and turkey cage made,cars fixed-all by ourselves or with friends helping. Rick and I figure we have saved over $15,000. All we have had to buy is supplies and maybe spend a few dollars for gas or beer here and there.

If we did not have some income ( Rick's disability) coming in,we would probably would not be able to make it work right now,because we do have to buy things to live,pay our mortgage,etc. Speaking of Rick, he is getting stronger and stronger,and he has gone from crutches to a cane to only using a cane when his legs feel tired. His pain level is fairly nonexistent,and he has been given the green light by Dr Bernini to do some outdoor chores,such as mucking out the cages,feeding the birds,etc.This is a very exciting time for us right now.Rick is more like his old self,and his self confidence is coming back. We will still have to deal with his PTSD and TBI,but at least his physical well being has greatly improved. We enjoy this life together,and I know some people question it,but we are happy and content.Are they?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lavender Honey Lemonade

Like I mentioned in a previous post,I made Lavender Honey Lemonade. Like any other recipe that one tries for the first time,I wasn't sure how it was going to taste. It sounded nice and refreshing,but...sometimes the actual product is disappointing.

This is one is a keeper. Though I am not a big lemonade person,I liked it. I don't think you could drink glasses and glasses in one sitting,but it is very refreshing. One glass was enough for me.You can taste all the ingredients. The first taste is of the honey,then you get the tartness of the lemons,then the last taste is the smoothness of the lavender. I let the lavender soak in the honey water for two hours,and I think any longer than that would've brought out the lavender too much,but it is entirely up to individual taste.

If you have lavender,you might want to give this one a try! The recipe is from Mother Earth News. I got it from their website. The author is Deanna Duke.

Lavender Honey Lemonade Recipe
1 cup honey
5 cups water
1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender or 1/4 cup fresh lavender blossoms ( I used fresh)
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice,strained ( it took me 7 lemons)
ice cubes
lavender sprigs for garnish

Combine hone with 2 1/2 cups of water in medium pan.Bring to a boil over medium heat,stirring to dissolve honey. Add the lavender to the honey water,cover,and remove from heat. Let stand at least 20 minutes (and up to several hours-depending how how strong of a lavender taste you want).Strain mixture and discard lavender. Pour infusion into a glass pitcher.( I only had plastic).Add lemon juice and another 2 1/2 cups of cold water.Stir. Refrigerate until ready to use,or pour into tall glasses half filled with ice. Garnish with lavender springs. Makes 6 cups.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We're Having A Heatwave...A Tropical Heatwave....

Today our heatwave and dry spell continues. It's 86 degrees on our screen porch,which is shaded,so that means with the 65% + humidity,it's well over 90 degrees. We are thankful that we have some wonderful trees to help bring a bit of shade if we went outside,but the garden is full blown in the sun until about 4:00 PM.when the sun starts going down behind the pine trees. The chickens have found a nice cool refuge under the coop in the dirt. Right now it's getting dark,and thunderheads are overhead,so we are praying for some rain. We did have some rain on Saturday,but it was a fairly quick,heavy downpour,not what we want or need. We need a nice,leisurely,steady rain,one that lasts for several hours. Our well is the lowest it has ever been,so we have been trying to be more efficient with our water use. My brother Valmore lives in Wisconsin and they are having more rain than they know what to do with,and his garden is being affected by it. I told him he could send a day or two worth here!

Today I am trying a new recipe-Lavender Honey Lemonade. I got it from Mother Earth News. The lavender is soaking in the honey water,and once it's done ( you can let it sit anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours, I am letting mine sit for a couple of hours),you strain it to remove the lavender blossoms,then mix in fresh lemon juice and more water. It should be interesting. I love lavender,but when I handle it my allergies kick in,so I just deal with it. If it comes out well, I will post the recipe,with credit to Mother Earth News,of course!!!

Today I was grocery shopping,and it felt great not to have to buy lettuce,onions,or cucumbers! I literally was grabbing a cuke when I remembered that I now can get them from my garden! After I got home,Zach went out and picked more peas,then he "shucked" them,so tonight we will have our fresh peas with our haddock. How wonderful to step outside the door and pick it when we need it! It's times like this I envy areas that can grow easily year round. We have a small growth window here in NH,unless one has a greenhouse,which I don't,but who knows what the future will hold?

The mail has arrived and my latest copy of The Herb Companion came in.I am still waiting for my Lehman's catalog to arrive,and I just ordered "Radical Homemakers" from Dear Friend Michelle is reading it,and she was referred to it by Stephanie,who started our Gardening Roundtable.It sounds like a good read.I will certainly chat about it when I do finish it.

Still waiting for rain....and off to make my lemonade!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What Makes It All Worthwhile

Growing up,we never had a garden. I was never taught how to sew,can food,knit,or cook. I would help mix the cake batter out of the box,but that was it. My mom grew up on a farm-she had chickens,rabbits,a big garden. I believe they had a cow,and some pigs. My Memere would can food,make their clothes,and sell eggs and veggies,though I don't believe that she ever taught my Mom how to make clothes.My mom grew up during the Depression,and later,during World War II,lived through rationing and they had a victory garden. My Dad's family was very poor,and he had to quit school at 14 to help support the family by going to work. I am not sure if they had an area for a garden or not. They had a large family,and the Depression was very hard on them.

I mentioned this,because we were discussing this very topic at the Gardeners' Roundtable that I am a part of. Basic survival skills have fallen to the wayside,they have not been handed down. Modern conveniences have taken over. Why can when you can buy canned goods at the store? Why grow a garden when you can buy produce? Why sew your own clothes when you can go to the mall? Why have chickens when you can buy eggs at the market?

Depression People like my Mom saw modern conveniences and were ecstatic. Life was now easier!!! Time was saved!!! One didn't have to work so hard anymore,especially when one had to work in a shoe shop for 8 hours a day. They saw how hard their families had to work in the past,and if they didn't have to do it,well,that was a good thing. Their children wouldn't have to live as they did. Their lives would be better and not so hard. We all want a better life for our children,don't we? We want their lives to be easier. That is a noble goal. However,people have gone overboard and buy everything for their children.Now children feel entitled and don't appreciate anything. When Zach was in fourth grade,some of his classmates had cell phones! I couldn't believe it! He asked me when he could get a cell phone. "You can have a pay as go cell phone when you are 16,have a job,and are driving a car.Right now,if you are sick in school,they have phones to contact me. If you are at a Scouting event that I am not at,the leaders all have phones. If you are at a friends house and need to get a hold of me,they have phones.Children do not need cell phones." He thought about this for a minute,and said," You're right,Mama. It doesn't make sense for me to have one."

The problem is,once modern technology took over, basic human survival skills seem to have been lost somewhere. People have become fully dependent on the oil companies,supermarket chains,and Walmarts of this country to provide. The movement towards being more self reliant has taken hold,however,and more and more people are realizing that some of these conveniences are not all they are cracked up to be. My fresh lettuce takes 100 x better than that in the supermarket,because I go out and pick it when I need it. It isn't picked,then shipped hundreds perhaps thousands of miles to the supermarket,where it sits until it finally goes bad. For a while,the cukes I was buying at Market Basket were coming from Mexico. They never lasted very long. The last batch was from the USA,but still,they didn't last very long. I am now finally getting my own cukes from my garden. What a difference!!! I also don't use pesticides,etc,and my veggies don't have that lovely wax film over them,either.

Our whole reason for dipping our toes into the self reliance pool is because...well...we WANT to,not because we HAVE to. It's not because we think it's the End of Days,or some major catastrophe is heading our way. (Though it is good to be prepared,of course!) It's because we want to do for ourselves as much as we can,with what we have.

We are now starting to reap the benefit of all our hard work in the garden. Building the boxes,sifting the compost,starting the seeds,planting,watering....we are enjoying fresh veggies that WE GREW. There is a sense of accomplishment and pride when I go and see what we have done,though it is small,it's a start. We will be expanding our garden next year.

This in it's self makes it worthwhile,but the biggest sense of pride and happiness I have felt so far was yesterday.Zach asked for a tuna fish sandwich,and while I was making it with fresh onion from the garden,he came up to me and asked if he could have fresh lettuce on his sandwich! My child has never asked for lettuce on his sandwich,ever. Now he wanted it because it "tastes good." That is what really makes it all worthwhile!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Is It Friday Already??

I can't believe that it is already Friday,and I looked at my last post and realized that it was Monday they last time I jotted anything down!

Zach had a great week. Tuesday night,Rick's brother Dale and his son Brody,as well as an old Shaw family friend who is just like a brother,Scottie,came over. They had a mission that everyone but Zach was aware of:they were giving Zach a four wheeler. Dale apparently traded some things with someone else,and Brody saw this 80cc Suzuki four wheeler,which he thought would be great for Zach. So they got it for him. ( That is Brody standing behind Zach in the photo above). After Zach had taken it out for a spin,Brody asked if he liked it,to which Zach said yes!! So Brody handed him the keys and said,"It's yours." Zach looked a bit confused,so he turned to Dale,who confirmed that the four wheeler was now his. Zach broke into a huge smile,and gave Brody and his Uncle Dale each a huge hug. Zach does have a helmet and is not allowed to ride without it. We have some trails out back on our neighbors property,which we are allowed on. There are also many ATV trails in NH,which Zach cannot ride until the machine is registered and he takes a safety class. Brody and Dale each have ATV's,and they said they will take Zach riding on their trails soon. So far he has only driven around the yard and up the dirt road,which is a private class 6 road.

We have been enjoying the lettuce,and now my National Pickling cukes are popping out-one is probably ready to pick. I have one small tomato,and last night I picked our first strawberry,of which we all took a bite. I have several zucchini and summer squash growing. The heat has been horrendous! We are now on the tail end of a heat wave-it has been in the 90's,not including the humidity,so the temps have been hovering around 100 degrees. Those of us here in NH are not used to such hot temps. At least if it was dry heat it wouldn't be quite so bad-outside wouldn't feel like wading through soup!! This is why spring and fall are my favorite times of the year.

Today is Rick's first PT appt since coming home. He is doing really well. He was by himself for a few hours yesterday. Zach and I went to Milton Town Beach and met up with My Dear Friend Michelle,her boys and a friend of her youngest son. I was a bit hesitant to leave him alone,but he assured me he would be fine. I had my cell phone,so if anything came up he could call,and we were only 15 minutes away. So while I was gone he did dishes,took a shower,walked the property,and did his exercises. He is exercising right now. Next week is his first post op appt with Dr Bernini up at Dartmouth. He is going to have xrays so they can see how everything is healing. Rick is hopeful that Dr Bernini will tell him he can start doing some small tasks. He can walk without the crutches,though he is still stiff,so he is not walking normally yet,he walks a bit stiff legged without the crutches.He is still wearing his circulation stockings,so hopefully he can talk those off next week. His pain level is very low,and any discomfort is from the stiffness-the pain he had before the surgery is completely gone and he says what he feels now is just a minor inconvenience. We are so very thankful!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our First Homegrown Meal

Our chicken coop is almost complete. Brother B and our neighbor Kelly have been working on the finishing touches-clapboards and paint.The coop will be yellow,to match the house and garage. The finished building is 7' x 8',with a shingled roof. I will have to take a picture of if when it is all finished.

In the photo above,you can see our girls-The Rhode Island Reds,Silver Laced Wynadottes (with the white on their heads and body) and the black Buff Orphingtons. In certain light their feathers have a greenish tint.
You can see our Jumbo Cornish Game Hens here,one of our Rhode Island Reds,and our lone beige Buff Orphington. We were suppose to have two,but I think they mixed a Rhode Island Red in with the batch,because we wound up with 5 Reds instead of 4,and only one beige Orphington. She is a feisty little thing. I started calling her Buffy,but Brother B named her Runt,because she is smaller than the rest of the flock. Now we all call her Runt. Can you tell which two are roosters? We let the Jumbos grew past when they should've been harvested. Brother B wanted to wait until Rick was home so he could enjoy the first bird;of course,we thought he was going to be home sooner than he was. Yesterday, Zach harvested the two roosters.Brother B was there to help if needed,but Zach did the "deed" on his own.
We gave one of the roosters to Kelly. They were big enough for roasters ( like I said,they went a bit past the time). So last night we had roasted rooster,fresh lettuce,fresh peas,and leftover homemade baked beans. I did have fresh radishes from our neighbor Ron,but I forgot about them ( we will have them tonight). My store bought cuke was no good since I had already cut some of it up and it had been in a sandwich bag for a few days,so our salad consisted of lettuce and peas ( not enough peas to cook up). The whole meal was delicious!
Today is going to hit the 90's. Yuck. I helped Rick stretch this AM. He has his first PT appt on Friday. Today is last day taking blood thinners,and he even shaved yesterday. He was going to wait,but figured he would try it ( if he had cut himself,he would've bled and bled bled because of the thinners)and he did a great job. It's amazing what being in pain can do to one's face. His face looks younger now,and more relaxed. What a difference!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Zach-July 4,2005

Happy Fourth of July,Americans!!! 234 years of Independence, much of it hard won with the blood and sweat of our fellow countrymen. We are forever indebted to them.

Today is going to be a low key day. Yesterday, I like mentioned in my previous post,Zach and I went to our family reunion. There was about 100 people there,mostly second and third cousins I don't know. The only uncle and aunt were my Uncle Phil and his wife,Aunt Ann. There were a few first cousins,but some of them I didn't know,because they are the children of my fathers half brothers and sisters.Back in the 70's,we used to have family get- togethers more frequently and the only half sibling we ever saw was my Uncle Phil. Finally,in the early 80's,we had a big get together,and I was able to finally meet my father's other half siblings-Uncle Ronnie,Aunt Anita,Aunt Rita,and Aunt Lorraine.

After we got home,we sat in the screen house for a while,chatting. Rick's brother Dale came up to visit,and then later,we had our BBQ and fire. We had cheeseburgers,hot dogs,fresh white perch caught that morning,and homemade beans and potato salad. Our neighbors Kelly and Darlene brought down their son,Jake,and their granddaughter,Isabella (their son Kevin is her Dad),and then a bit later,our other neighbors,Jean and Ron brought down their granddaughter,Savanna. She is a grade behind Zach and they play together sometimes. Once dusk hit we set off our fireworks,and they lasted about an hour. Fireworks are not illegal here in town,as long as they are within reason and not creating noise after 11:00 PM ( it pays it live in the country!). Everyone had a nice time,and the kids had a blast,which was the main idea,so the night was a great success. We have a few fireworks left,so we will set those off tonight.

Yesterday was the beginning of heat wave which is going to last most of the week. It was in the upper 80's,will be again today,and starting tomorrow,will get into the 90's. That is HOT for us here in NH.The humidity is going to kick in as well. Yuck. We are very thankful we have a couple of air conditioners,so I have a feeling that most of the week will be spent inside. Any gardening or watering will have to be early or in the evening. No doubt about that!

For those of you in the USA,have a wonderful Fourth of July,and for those of you elsewhere,enjoy your Sunday!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Veggies!

Here are the first veggies from the garden. Sugar Peas and a Walla Walla Onion. The onion I probably should've let go longer,but I saw it halfway out of the dirt...and well....I got excited.What can I say?
Though there weren't enough peas to cook up,I have put them in fridge,and will pick more today. Since I have never grown peas before,I wasn't sure what length of time I should leave them on the vine once they plump up. Rick ( who is very thankful to be home) had the onion chopped up on a few gluten free hot dogs the day I picked it (Weds) and he pronounced it delicious. So that is encouraging.
I moved the dirt from around the onion bulbs so they can grow larger. My neighbors,Kelly and Darlene,came down to see Rick and Kelly asked me what had happened to my onions,because the green tops were now all down and brown. I told him that was normal. He thought an animal had gotten into them and bedded down!! It is not a pretty site,that's for sure.
Tomorrow Zach and I are going to the Lessard family reunion. That is my Dad's side of the family. There aren't many of my father's siblings left. His youngest sister,my Aunt Rachel, is living with her daughter Sue in WA. She has Alzheimer's ( that makes four siblings-my uncle Richard,my Dad,and my Aunt Marcy all passed away from complications). I believe my Dad has two or three half brothers and sisters left who are younger than my Aunt Rachel. I know my Uncle Phil is still alive. Most of the people at the reunion will be cousins. Rick will not be going,he is not up to going anywhere and visiting yet. Zach and I will go for a couple of hours with my Mom,my sister Linda,and her husband,Tom. My brothers live out in WI,so they will not be going.
Tomorrow night we have our Fourth of July celebration. We will have a BBQ with hot dogs,cheeseburgers,homemade crock pot beans,homemade potato salad,and I am going to make cake. I have frozen blueberries and strawberries that I am going to defrost,and add a bit sugar to. They will be the topping for the cake,and we will put Cool whip on top of that. When it gets dark,we will set off fireworks. The last time we went to a town sponsored fireworks display is when Zach was little. After Rick got back from Iraq,he didn't want to go because of the crowds,so we started doing things at home. It has evolved through the years,first with sparklers and firecrackers (which they don't sell anymore);now we have several roman candles,exploding Bin Laden heads,fountains,Morning Glories,and other assorted goodies. We have invited our neighbors to come down and see them. We have a fire in the fire circle,sit around,chat,and set off the fireworks. We relax on the Fourth.
I am off to bake the cake and make the potato salad!