Thursday, April 28, 2011


Today I am making homemade crock pot beans. Once I get the beans on the boil,I am going to transfer my seedlings to individual pots.As you can see,my peppers,tomatoes,and broccoli are ready. I had to move the seedlings from the trays which are still on heat to the trays that are not on heat.(Once plants sprout,they are suppose to be taken off heat) I have a few pumpkins and cukes that sprouted right up,after only three days on heat. So I need to replant them as well.I will have to set up another fluorescent light because I will have plants covering my card table. I may even have to get another table! I hope what we plant will produce enough to do some serious veggie canning this year,but we will do what we can. Each year we are going to do more until we are satisfied. We just don't want to go hog wild and be overwhelmed.
The girls are laying well,and I think we are at the point where we can start selling eggs. We will have to make a sign to hang under our mailbox.
Tomorrow Rick,Zach and I will be camping out with the Boy Scouts for the weekend. Zach's troop helps to run the annual district Fish and Run. The Cub Scouts have a fishing competition in the morning on Saturday,followed by various events at different stations. Sunday AM awards are handed out. It's has been a while since Rick and I camped out with the boys. Before Rick's knee surgery,he would go,but he was always in so much pain that he couldn't enjoy himself,so we stopped. Now that his knees are better,he is really looking forward to camping again. He is even going to summer camp! He is happy that he can do things like this with Zach again and have fun!
Those of you who are getting ready for the garden,what are planting and how far along are you?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Yesterday was a good day to curl up in a chair. After the housework was done and the eggs gathered,I did a bit of knitting.The day was gray,cold,and raw. It started with rain,which then became rain with snowflakes,which then became full blown snow. It snowed most of the afternoon,leaving us with about 1/2"on the ground. Rick started a a fire,and  the warmth from the logs felt good.

This morning,we awoke to find heavy fog,with the sun trying to burn it off. The sun won the battle!

The sky is blue,and sun is shining brightly. The temperatures are suppose to go up to the upper 60's today,so any left over snow will disappear. It's going to be the perfect Easter Sunday.

The menfolk have gone to throw a line in Jones Brook to see if they can catch "The Easter Trout". Brother B had spent the night at Brother Dale's,and when he came back this AM,he saw trout jumping in the brooks. So of course,they had to take advantage! We will see if they come back with anything (Fish and Game just stocked the area waterways).

Today's big Easter dinner will consist of ham,potatoes,yams,pineapple,peas,and rolls.I am going to smother the ham with homemade brown sugar. There will be mustard on the side,of course. My Mom is coming up to share it with us,which will be nice. We have a pretty Easter Lily waiting for her.

The menfolk are back,but did not have any luck. At least they were able to get outside and enjoy this beautiful morning. I will find some time today to venture to a quiet spot and do some reflection. I find more spiritual connection just being in Nature than I ever had sitting in a pew listening to a sermon. I feel a strong link with all that is around me,a heightened awareness,which brings a comforting peace.It's marvelous!

Happy Easter to you and your family,where ever on this lovely planet you may reside!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Is Simple Living Really Simple?No,But It's Worth It!

One of the blogs I follow is "Our Slice Of Heaven" by Rina,from Australia. She has a quote front and center on her header from Doris Janzen Longacre which says it all:"The trouble with simple living is that,though it can be joyful,rich and creative,it isn't simple."

I wholeheartedly concur.

The thought of living more simply is certainly fun,trying to live as those before us did as best as we can. Imagine making your own soap,or dying your own wool? And growing your own food! How liberating! And knitting socks! It's like being a pioneer (well,sort of).It fills ones head with images of days gone by,of folks working the soil and carving out a life together against all odds. Sort of romantic,isn't it?

We are lucky. We get a monthly pension from the VA. It's not tons of money,but there is enough that we can live without my having to work. We have no credit cards,our vehicles are paid off,and the only debt we have is our mortgage,which includes our property taxes and homeowners insurance. We can actually put an extra $25 a month towards the principal. It's not much,but every little bit helps. This being said,what we do is not necessarily because we have to for survival,but because we want to.

Why? Why would folks want to grow and can their food,raise chickens and turkeys,tap maple trees,learn to knit,and make their own soap when we could just go to the store?

Because we want to eliminate that need where we can,and doing it yourself,for your family,is far more satisfying than running to a store.It's also work.

Last year when we built our turkey pen,our garden,and our chicken coop were some of the most tiring days I have ever had. It was WORK!  I did think a few times how easy it would be to get in my car and head down to the supermarket for eggs and veggies. Why were we going through all this? It also isn't inexpensive. One can be lucky and find some free materials, but for the most part,you have to spend money to get started. And let's face it-buying a dozen eggs a week is cheaper than buying the wood and fencing for a coop,let alone purchasing the feed and the chickens!
However,it is very satisfying to walk into your own coop and gather your own eggs,or stroll into your garden and pick fresh- from- the -earth veggies or fruits.You don't have to use gas,or wonder how fresh is fresh(which,as we know,veggies and fruits are usually a couple weeks old,at least).One can get lots of food from just one seed that was a few cents. Compare that to the grocery prices!!! When I can our harvest,I know I am saving money in the long run. It's great to open up the cupboard and grab some food that we grew ourselves!

It's hard work,but it also has brought our family together. Last year,I had an A-Ha moment. The boys were working on the chicken coop,and I was weeding in the garden. I stopped for a moment,and had this overwhelming feeling of unity. We have always been a close family,but this was different. We were working together towards the common goal of bettering our lives. We were using our land. We were carving out the life we want to live,that we want to share together. Perhaps that is goal of "simple living". Not that the work is simple (because it isn't)but that doing something as basic as growing your own food can bring such unity and teach what is really important in this world-working together to achieve your dreams. It doesn't happen sitting in front of the TV. It happens by striving to live the life you want to live and give to those you love.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mucking Around

Mud Season is alive and well here. We have no more snow,thankfully,but between the snow melt and the rain we received,our backyard is one big soggy mess. This year is the worst that we have had in the almost 8 years that we have lived here. Even where there appears to be solid ground with grass coverage,one sinks into the soft ground when it's walked on. I finally had to fore go my winter boots and buy myself a pair of what I call "Muck Muck Boots." We were at a shoe store buying Rick some hiking boots,when I noticed this section of clearance rubber boots.I didn't want some plain, old color. I wanted something fun. Who says mucking around has to be boring? They didn't have the pattern I really liked in my size,so I settled for these colorful ones:

The mud in front of the chicken coop is the worst! You can see how my feet sink in..and that is not the worst spot. I almost came out of my boots the other day when my feet sunk a few inches in and I tried to extract them. We have to step in certain spots to avoid boot suckage.

The girls have been doing well since Runt's demise (I must say,with carrots,potatoes,and onions cooked in a crock pot he was quite tasty). We have been averaging 8 eggs a day from the 11 of them.

I am glad that their pen area finally dried up. The poor things were standing in about 2" of water for a bit. And Runt is no longer getting on them and being rough with his affections. Some of them were really getting bald on their backs. Poor things. I know there is fine line between pleasure and pain,but,come on! :)

A couple of the chickens are broody. They like to sit on the eggs and don't particularly like it when we try to gather them. The other day,one of my Silver Lace Wynadottes decided to keep an eye on me while I removed the eggs. She had been sitting on 6 of them,and she protested quite loudly when I pushed her out of the way. She didn't trust me,however:

She stood there,keeping watch. Yesterday when I gathered eggs, one of our Rhode Island Reds was sitting on 8 eggs. When I tried to reach under her,she gave me a good old bite of indignation,which led to a small,sore purple bruise on my wrist (thankfully I had a couple of layers on,so it wasn't a bite right on the skin). I tried pushing her off with my basket (this seems to be a weapon of choice lately) and that didn't work. She then looked away from me and I quickly but gently grabbed her and put her down on the floor. She voiced her displeasure with me in no uncertain terms,but then comforted herself with some chicken feed,much like women who enjoy their comfort  food when they have been hurt or annoyed,such as myself. Hmmm. I never realized I would have something in common with a chicken!

Today I have the morning to myself. The boys are have made a trek to Sanford,ME. I will do dishes,laundry,and start my cukes and pumpkin seeds. The broccoli and tomatoes have sprouted well! I will need to set up a second light today and a couple of my green peppers have their second sets of leaves,so I need to put them in individual pots ASAP.It's a lovely day today,and the birds have been entertaining me with their morning songs and pretty colors. So beautiful.

Have wonderful day where ever you are!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

RIP Runt

Yesterday,we had to "take care"of our dear buddy,Runt The Rooster. Runt was a surprise to begin with. Last Spring,we had ordered chickens (no roosters) but he slipped past the sorting and wound up with us. That was no problem. We enjoy the sound of roosters. Runt had an especially neat crow-it always had an upward inflection at the end,like he was asking a question.
A couple of weeks ago,Runt started getting a wee bit territorial. When Rick or Brother B went into the pen,he would challenge them. It started harmless enough,with Runt puffing out a bit and flapping his wings. Then he started pecking at their boots. Then he started jumping in the air and using his feet. He did this to me for the first time last week. I was coming out of the coop,and he was in front of the door to the pen with some of the girls. The girls took off,but Runt stood there,looking at me. I tried to just walk past him to open the door to get leave,but he squawked at me and flapped his wings with indignation. I yelled,"Move, Runt!" That didn't work,so I swung the basket of eggs in his direction,and he moved.
Yesterday, the menfolk cleaned out the coop,and I went outside to see. Rick was raking the straw off the strawberry bed,and Brother B followed me into the coop. All the chickens,as well as Runt,were outside in the pen. I was standing there,in the coop,looking at how nice the nesting boxes looked and checking for eggs. Brother B was in the doorway chatting with me,when all of a sudden,I felt something attack me from behind.
Runt had come in the chicken door,flew up,and starting attacking the back of my right thigh with his talons. It caught me by surprise,and faster than I realized what was happening,Brother B was kicking at Runt to get him off me. " Are you alright?" he asked,as we got of the coop and out of the pen. "Yes," I replied,rubbing my leg. I wasn't bleeding,but it hurt. " He's dead," Brother B declared. "It's one thing to attack Rick or I,but it's another when he is doing it to you from behind."
We went to the strawberry bed and told Rick what happened.He was mad. "He attacked you from behind?!" He said the same thing it was,time to take care of  Runt. "He could've hurt you..what if Brother B wasn't there and you were by yourself? Or what if Zach was in there and he went after his face?"
Runt's fate was sealed,and it was over in less than a minute.
I feel bad,because up until this point Runt was really cool. He never had an issue with any of us. However,it was time for him to go. Right now,he is in the fridge,waiting for the crock pot. We will miss you,Runt.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

Today I wanted to try something new. Since we are out of mayonnaise,I decided to give it whirl and make some of my own.
I am not the biggest fan of mayo. I personally only use it when I make tuna fish,or salads such as macaroni or potato. That's it. I still wanted to give it a shot.
My Mom called to chat this AM and when I told her that I was going to make my own mayo,she exclaimed ," Memere used to make her own mayonnaise!" (that's my grandmother). She then told me about all the different things that my Memere used to make,and finished by proclaiming,"That's a lot of work." That's usually what she says to me when I inform her of something new we are trying.
I was not put off,however. After I got off the phone,I went online and looked up various recipes. I settled on a variation of one by Chef Gordon Ramsey.

                                                 Homemade Mayonnaise

3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard (he called for English Mustard,Dijon is similar. I had to look it up)
1 1/2 cups of canola oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste
lemon juice from half a lemon

Makes about three cups of mayonnaise

Mix egg yolks and Dijon Mustard in a food processor. I set mine on 3 and mixed it well.

Keeping the processor going,slooooowly pour in oil. I poured in a little a time,pausing between each addition of oil. Then when the mixture started to thicken up,I kept the slow steady stream of oil going until all the oil was mixed in with the egg/mustard. It will take a couple of minutes. Stop the processor,and add salt and pepper to taste,as well as the juice from half a lemon. Give the processor a nice little blast of power,and it's done.

When I first tasted it,it seemed a bit bland,so I added a bit more salt. This is something that one has to adjust to taste. Some folks use light olive oil,but the mayo will pick up the taste of the olive oil. Some folks use grapeseed oil. It's all up to what you like or want to experient with.
The mayo will be yellow because there are no egg whites,and in the photo you can see the dark bits from the Dijon Mustard. It tastes lighter than regular mayo. So far I have as yet to try it out on anything,but  I thought the taste was good. It keeps for up to 5 days,so you will want to remember what day you made it on. Don't go any longer than 5 days!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Misc.Doings of The Week

We tried the turkey eggs,and they tasted like chicken eggs,but with a noticeably richer flavor. We have been getting about two a day.

Sap season is pretty much over. We have buds coming out on our trees,which affect the taste of the sap-it becomes bitter. The weather is starting to get too warm for sap to run,and the night time temps are starting to be above freezing. We pulled our buckets yesterday,and were pleased with the 5 gallons ( approx) that we processed. It's nice,light,Grade A syrup.Now work begins on cleaning out the garage.

This weekend the temps are going to soar into the 60's,and on Monday may hit the 70's. This is a heat wave for us here in NH! I am so excited to be outside in pleasant weather. Though I live in NH,I hate the cold and will do all I can to stay inside. It doesn't bother me. Folks ask me,if you don't like the cold,why do you live in NH? I live here because it's the place of my birth, a beautiful state,it's a lovely way of life,and having winter makes me appreciate the other seasons.I never take them for granted.

Yesterday morning I woke up,and saw the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining,and the birds were singing away. It was wonderful. I love this time of year. The snow goes away,things turn green,the air starts becoming warmer,and my bird friends come back and serenade me with their beautiful Spring song. It's the rebirth of the Nature after being dormant all winter. It doesn't get better than that!!

Today I am going to start my broccoli and tomato seeds. I have three new green peppers that have sprouted,but since I last checked a couple days ago I may have more,and more oregano,thyme,and marjoram.

This weekend I plan on raking where it's dry. I need to check on my strawberry info to see when I should uncover them from their layer of protective straw. I need to get outside and soak up the rays. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder said,"...she could never get enough sun soaked into her bones."

Rick is excited because now that he has been deemed 100% disabled from the VA,he is eligible for a permanent hunting and fishing license. He only had to pay a one time fee of $10.00 to get the license,as well as  show documentation stating his disability,a signed form from his Dr,copies of previous hunting and fishing licenses,and his ID. He and Brother B went to the Fish and Game Dept in our state capital of Concord yesterday to get it. He could've just sent it in,but he didn't want to take a chance,and this way he would get it right in hand. The only money he will have to spend is on the tags ( deer,turkey,etc). I had a Muffin Date with My Dear Friend Michelle,so I didn't go. Girl time is of utmost importance!!!!

I hope all is well in your area of the world. Enjoy this wonderful day!!!!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Turkey Egg!

We have  friends who also have turkeys,and they have been telling us about the turkey eggs that they are getting. This led us to wonder why we haven't seen any eggs yet. Our Tom has been busy huffing,puffing,and strutting around in front of the two girls with all his feathers unfurled for the last couple of weeks,so we figured that we might see something soon. Rick made a bigger bed for them thinking it might help. Then,yesterday,he came into the house and told me to open my hand. I did,and lo and behold,there it was....our first turkey egg!!! 

Turkey egg and chicken egg for comparison

I have never seen a turkey egg before. I expected it to be bigger than a chicken egg,but I was still surprised at the size. None of us have tried eating turkey eggs before. Our friends informed us that they have more flavor,and are a bit richer than chicken eggs.Some of them told us they prefer turkey eggs to chicken eggs. I am curious to see the difference!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools....I Wish!!!!!

Yesterday was a lovely day.The temperatures were in the low 50's. The boys boiled down 22 gallons of sap,and had to collect sap twice. A mere 6 hours after gathering 25 gallons,they had to gather more because the buckets were filling up. So we had a total of 35 gallons of sap gathered yesterday. The total syrup made yesterday was 3 qts,1 pint. We have about three gallons of syrup total.

Today there is no boiling,because Mother Nature is in the process of giving us what we were hoping was an April Fools joke...but it's no joke. This is what she is giving us today....

Juncos enjoying seed and snow

A view of my herb and strawberry boxes...which you can't see

Yesterday this is what the herb and strawberry area looked like.You can actually see the straw covering the strawberry bed!
 Yep. Mother Nature has decided to dump a upwards of a foot or more on us today. The snow is a typical Spring snow...wet and heavy. The stretchy waffle weave roof of the turkey cage is now almost to the ground. Rick had to low crawl into the cage to raise it up as much as possible.It's still pretty low. Some of the braces need to be fixed/replaced. The snow is suppose to last all day,and widespread power outages have started. I am thankful that even if we lose power,we have a wood stove,a generator,a grill,and camp stoves. No problem eating or keeping warm. We could even watch TV if we wanted. But the main thing would be to keep the toilet and the fridge going. Hopefully it won't mess up my seeds too much. I put on the light yesterday at 14 hour intervals. I have some thyme and oregano that have sprouted. My laundry is all finished,so I don't have to worry about that. Needless to say,Zach has no school today. He has had quite a few snow days this year,so it looks like he will be in school until late June. That is no fun. Farmers Almanac missed this prediction. They said this winter would be "average to below average snow fall." Whoops!!! Better luck next time,guys.