I'd share the recipe but my son got it from an email and sent me a screenshot, which I can't seem to read (it's fuzzy). I know it has eggs and milk, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Today #5 asked for "funnel pie" ... So #2 made funnel cake on the stove. Kind of messy, but so tasty!!
I'd share the recipe but my son got it from an email and sent me a screenshot, which I can't seem to read (it's fuzzy). I know it has eggs and milk, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Busy day away from home again today. We were running late this morning as we left the house.
Two little black bucks went off to their new home - which means for a short while, all of the April colony babies were sold! But a few minutes later we met the guy coming to return one of them we sold a couple weeks ago. So, we have one broken chestnut buck now that will need a new home. They called him Clover, so that's what we will call him in the meantime. He's the sweetheart with the torn ear. Easiest of all of them to catch, handled since they were itty bitty. I'm sad to see him come back, but I'm happy he is safe here rather than being dumped somewhere else.
We made a long stop at the pet store. Today was the big day. The day #3 became a snake owner. Her first pet that is hers alone, and our first experience keeping a snake as a pet. She's done a year of research looking in to different types of snakes and their requirements. She had a list of things ready that she would need to get a proper set up. She picked out a ball python, and fortunately they had two to choose from at the store today (otherwise we'd have had to make another trip back when they got more in).
While we were there, I also picked up a little fantail goldfish. Our tank is getting a bit of a problem with dark algae, that the algae eater doesn't seem to like. I know from past experience that goldfish will eat it and clean up the rocks, so here we go. I picked out a little orange and white one. I hope he (or she) does a good cleanup job. This fish will join Slim (weather loach), Eaty (green corydora), and Jon Snow (albino bristle nose pleco) in the 29-gallon aquarium.
From there we stopped at my parents' house. Tony and #3 went back home to set up the new snake tank, put the bunny away, get the fish settled, and to work on some house chores. Meanwhile, #1, #2, #4, #5, #1's girlfriend, and I helped get ready for my mom's big deck party. There was much to do. The kids helped get ice in coolers, clear some brush, start the campfire, mow the lawn, make some food, set up chairs, and so on.
Entertaining is not my strong suit. I don't "people" well, so as more and more people arrived, I decided to go tend to the fairy garden. I pulled some grass that was growing in it, straightened some of the blue glass pieces that make up the water, and added a few things that my mom had bought for it.
The fairy garden now has three houses, two new fairies, a couple of cartoonish turtles, and two trees with faces. They don't really match the rest of the decor, but it's Mom's garden, and if she liked them enough to buy them, I'll add them in. I also replaced some of the green glass stepping stones with actual pieces of moss. I have no idea if they'll actually survive or not, but I figured it might be worth a shot. I still haven't gotten to the tiered terra-cotte garden project.
My favorite little mini scene in the fairy garden is one of the fairies, posed sitting at the edge of the water with the stacked rocks. It looks like a beautiful meditation spot, doesn't it?
I also took some time to go out to the little section of yard we buried the three big dogs in several years ago. I haven't been out there in a while and it's largely over-grown and weedy now. I'm going to have to do something about it. I've got some landscaping fabric I could put down. If I could get my parents to buy about ten bags of mulch, I could have the entire space mowed down, lay out landscape fabric, and add mulch to keep the weeds at bay and make the space a little more enjoyable to view.
My only problem with that (other than finding time to get it done)? There was one single columbine plant (we call it honeysuckle) in the far end of the space. The space reserved for my brother's (still living) second dog, so he can be laid to rest next to his brother when it's his time to go. I may have to dig it up and transplant it, since I don't want to mow it or cover it up with landscape fabric.
Tony didn't get as much done as he had planned to today. He told me he was going to have the raspberry/blackberry beds made (x2), the potato towers assembled (x6), the strawberry bed completed, and start working on the brooder lid for the barn so we can move the last birds out. Instead he helped #3 set up her snake habitat and then took a long nap. Well, I guess I'll just have to wait for tomorrow. At least he has tomorrow off too.
Tonight the girls are spending the night at grandma's house, and the boys are home with us. I'm hoping we can get a good portion of work done before we have to go back to pick up girls. We also have to make a trip with an empty vehicle to pick up more supplies from Menards to continue all the garden projects.
Tonight there are three ducklings in the incubator, so one hatched today. One more egg has pipped, and the last remaining eggs are silent and still. I suspect they're no longer viable. I will be moving the three (or four) ducklings to the brooder tomorrow. For some reason the incubator is especially unbearably stinky this time around. I clean it between every hatch, and the babies aren't in there for more than a couple days to prevent too much of a mess. This time it's just stinky. Thankfully this is our final hatch for the year, so after this last pipped egg hatches, I can clean it up and store it away until next year.
In other news, Tony finally settled on a name for his Saint Bernard puppy. Her name will be Mazikeen. Maz or Maze for short.
I smell like campfire, I've dealt with kids and people all day, and I am exhausted. We didn't get home until midnight, and it's now just past 1:30am as I finish typing up my blog. I don't have the energy to take a shower before bed. I'll just go to sleep, and tomorrow I can wash the sheets to get the campfire smoke smell out. Goodnight all!
Can you believe it's June already!? Wow, this year is flying by!
This morning Tony and I got two of the trees mulched (with landscaping fabric under the mulch). After he left, the kids and I did two more, and I did one more myself after the kids lost interest. Three more planted fruit trees to go! Then we have to plant the rest of the trees. If I counted right we still have six trees and tons of berry bushes that need to be planted... plus strawberries, asparagus, and potatoes... I am feeling so behind!
While we were working out in the field with the trees I spotted a caterpillar on one of the shovels. I later saw one up by the clothes lines while I was hanging laundry up. It took some research, but I have identified them as Eastern Tent caterpillars. Apparently they prefer fruit trees and are a bad pest. I hope my birds find them tasty.
In the incubator we had three eggs from Henrietta (our Barred Rock hen). Our dominant rooster is Big Red (a Rhode Island Red), which means the resulting chicks will be Black Sex Link. All three hatched today... We have two boys and one girl. I'm not entirely sure what to do with them. We had a lot more in the incubator originally but many were infertile or were quitters (eggs that stopped developing during incubation). I suppose these will be very confused chickens because it seems my only choice it to put them in with the small ducklings in the brooder.
Our New Zealand White doe, Snowflake, had her litter today. She was four days overdue and I think that caused something to go wrong with her babies. She had a litter of six, but when I inspected her nest box, four were dead and one was dying. With tonight and tomorrow's cold temperatures (lows in the 40's), I expect this litter to be a complete loss. I cannot shelve the kits this time because we now have a puppy in the house that would not leave the nest alone.
Today I paired up three more does for July litters.
I paired Kaelyn to Servine, since Kaelyn's father (Sushi) is a Rex cross, perhaps they will produce some Rex coated offspring. Kaelyn has been paired several times but has never had a litter. Servine is new to us and we've never used him for breeding, so this is a fresh attempt. There was a witnessed connection, so we're hoping for babies.
I paired Gretchen and Ulysses in hopes of a good meat litter. Ulysses is now a proven buck since Snowflake's failing litter was sired by him.
I paired Lilith and Rascal. Both are descendants of our old breeding buck, Bennett. Rascal is out of a purebred Rex momma, and Lilith is from Gretchen's first litter. Neither is spectacularly pretty to look at, but I'm hoping those genetics floating around in there might connect and make some harlequin babies.
All had witnessed successful fall-offs, so here's to three robust litters in July!
I was admiring the older chickens from our first incubator hatch today and I was a little surprised to see about four of them showing crests. I waited several days after they hatched and only one showed a tiny bit of a head bump. I figured maybe the head-fluff genetic was just recessive. The Polish we got from the hatchery was clearly a fluff-head at 3-4 days old when he arrived. The Spitzhauben birds on the other hand got their crests much later. These birds look more like the Spitz. One of them actually has the same feather pattern coming in as our purebred Golden Appenzeller Spitzhauben birds from the hatchery. The photo above is the new chick that hatched from the mixed eggs we bought from #1's friend. It has a wonky comb too.
The chick that I thought was so pretty when it hatched, remains a sight. It's getting feathers in and what a pretty bird this one will be! Photo below...
I got my days mixed up. I was all excited to go flower shopping with my mom today, only to realize it's only Friday and our flower trip is Saturday. One more day. I guess I'll just have to wait.
#1 and #3 are off at friends' houses, so it looks like #4 and #5 will be shopping tomorrow with Grandma and I, and #2 will be helping to get all the flowers and stuff we buy planted when we get them back to Grandma's house.
The new pup still has no definite name, but we have it narrowed down to a few choices. In the end it's Tony's choice what to name her, since she's his dog. He has selected some nerdy/geeky girl names. Honestly, I'm leaning towards Zelda, but dreading the possibility of calling her Sylvanas or Alextrasa. I could live with Wren, but I prefer Zelda. I may have secretly been calling her Zelda Puppy today to potentially influence the choice if he decides to go with what she best responds to.
I'll leave you with one question. Can anyone identify this plant? It's a small perennial bush at the corner of the screen porch beside one of the new border beds. It's only about three to four feet tall. The branches are thin but plentiful, the leaves are serrated and have a distinct three-part pattern to them. Today I noticed it's starting to get little berry-like clusters, that I can only assume with soon open up into some kind of flowers. What is this?
I left the house this morning at 7:20 am, and didn't make it home again until after 9 pm. I'm exhausted, I've got a headache, and I still have all the barn chores to do. I had appointments in the morning, followed by a quick run through the feed store and Costco for some stuff for my mom (whom I was with all day).
This evening, #2, #5, my mom, and I went to a local landscaping/construction place and picked out a bunch of rocks. Then we upgraded the fairy garden at my parents' house. In now has a beautiful rock border, has been extended, and had more of the pea gravel filled in, and the river has been extended and a lake added to the end.
We have plans to make a tiered fairy garden out of terra cotta pots for the back corner there (right now it just has piled rocks. It should look really nice when it's all done.
It's been a long day for the whole family I think. I got a text at 8am that my brother-in-law and his wife wanted to bring the two younger girls home. They'd spent the night after the funeral yesterday. Alright, time to get up and straighten up a little. I swept the kitchen, washed the last of the dishes, and straightened up a bit.
After the girls were home, I went down to do brooder chores. I refilled the water bin on the duck side, #3 refilled the feed bins, I put some feed into a bucket, added water and apple cider vinegar, and set it aside to ferment. I've got to try something to decrease the rate we're charging through bags of chick feed! From what I have researched, fermenting feed is a good option, healthy, and as long as the feed remains below the water line, you shouldn't have to worry about rot or mold. Let's give it a shot. What's to lose but a few cups of feed and a splash of apple cider vinegar?
At last, I grabbed the big water bin from the gosling and chick side, cleaned it out, refilled it... and when I lifted it up over the side of the brooder to put it back in, my back twinged. There was a moment where I was just stuck there, slightly hunched over, heavy bin full of 8 gallons of water dangling precariously over the birds... And I thought - I can drop it, and cry... and have an even bigger mess to clean up... Or I can move forward enough to set this down, and possibly do more damage. I successfully set the water bin safely on the stone pedestal in the brooder and then managed to hobble up the stairs huffing and gasping, hunched over and near tears. As I came in the kitchen #1 saw me and asked what was wrong. By then it hurt to move, every breath was painful. I couldn't straighten or arch my back. I grabbed some ibuprofen before asking #3 to grab an ice pack and meet me at the couch. Finding the couch cluttered with a backpack, a blanket, a laundry basket, and a bag of candy (hey, what happened to no food in the living room?), I said I couldn't wait and headed up the stairs. Oh boy! It was a struggle to get to the top, but I kept the momentum going all the way to the bedroom. With some help from #3 I got laid down with the ice in the right spot, and hoped I could mend. I asked #3 to water the rabbits. I knew there'd be no way I could carry the water bucket to the barn. She said she would and went off.
After an hour and a half, my mom texted. Remember when she put in a deck last year? There was a spot where the old sidewalk had been that had been torn out, but it stuck out further than the deck, leaving an ugly dirt gap where the cement had been removed. We had mentioned putting in a fairy garden. Well, she is hosting a gathering next month and wanted to know if we could get that set up. Sure. Why put it off? Let's do this!
The ice did it's job, and combined with the ibuprofen I was feeling a little better. At least I could breathe, though movement was still hot or miss. I took more ibuprofen and my mom swung by to pick up #1, #5 and I to go do our fairy garden shopping.
First the greenhouse. I have to say, I love this greenhouse - Erickson's Greenhouse in Brainerd is fantastic. Always friendly, knowledgeable, and there's always something there to grab your interest. We picked up the bulk of our fairy garden supplies here. Two fairies, a table and four chairs, a rocking chair, solar lights on shepherd hooks, a mailbox, a garden trellis, a birdbath, a rope ladder, a bridge, and a stone arch. We wanted to add in the duck pond and the stone wall with the cave, but we were on a budget.
Next stop, the dollar store. We bought several little bags of "sky blue" glass pieces (look like flat marbles), and one bag of bigger green glass pieces (same, melted marble look).
Next we ran to the feed store because I knew they had fairy houses. Well, they HAD fairie houses last time I'd been looking for them... the selection was awful. There were only two. One was pink... so we went for the yellow one. And they weren't on sale this time either... but it's solar and it will look good.
Last stop? Tony's work to pick up some pea gravel and to say hi. He's working a 14 hour day today to make up for taking yesterday off so he won't lose his bonus.
Back at my parents' house, I had #1 and #2 help haul the pea gravel over and pour it into the odd-shaped divot. I evened it out with a garden trowel. I used the end of the trowel to create the line for the little creek. I added the blue glass pebbles to give it a water appearance. The house was set as a centerpiece, with a bridge over the blue creek. The mailbox was set off to the edge of the gravel, the table and rocking chair were set near to the house. The trellis and birdbath were set a little further back, with the stone arch near the back corner. The rope latter was attached to the trellis under the deck to make it look like the fairies could climb right up to the deck. Once everything else was set up, I put the fairies in and then added the green glass pieces as a walking path - from the house to the bridge, to the mail box, to the garden spaces, and across to the yard. I still want to add the buck pond (I even left a kink in the creek where the pond piece will fit), and we may add a bench and maybe even that cave in the wall that #1 liked so much - but later. We barely stayed within budget for this project. It turned out pretty nice though.
My only thing I'd change - I think I'd try to find green gravel instead of the pea gravel. Maybe even like the green fish tank gravel, so it looked more like grass, and made the wooden-looking accessories "pop" a little better. My favorite part? I put the pea gravel within the edges of the gaps from the cement removed. This means it isn't in a straight line, it doesn't line up with the other edges, it's a little random - and it leads to a more natural look. I love it.
We have new seedlings up in the winter sown containers!
We have Jarrahdale pumpkins coming up! I planted nine seeds in this jug, but WOW! These seedlings are massive! There's no way nine could fit comfortably! There are only three up so far and they're already crowding one another!
There are also three sprouts in the White Acorn Squash jug. We've grown this variety before and it seemed rather weak last time, hardly producing, not really thriving. I'm hoping this year we have better results.
We have sprouts in another container too. Again, this one has lost the labels to sun fading, but I can make out the x4, and using that as a guide I was able to look up seeds planted with quantities in the 40's that were planted in this specific type of jug. Looks like this is Lemon Balm.
It sprinkled off and on today. Not really rain, so not enough to really water the garden or deter the animals from being outside, but enough to make me not want to be outside. But on the plus side, this evening we got a rainbow!
And of course, this place is absolutely magical when it comes to sunsets. I swear, we live in the most beautiful place on the planet.
Yesterday I noticed a big patch of Siberian squill growing where the big balloon-type flowers were last fall (I can't for the life of me think of what they're called right now). Today #3 and I re-discovered the patch of chives that I first spotted last year when we were visiting the house to talk to the inspector after we put our offer in. The story from the previous family is that the lady who lived here used that patch for cooking. So now I feel the need to go harvest some chives, toss them in a pan with some farm-fresh eggs, and make breakfast.
Which reminds me of Sage. She had her follow up appointment with the veterinarian again yesterday. Her eye is doing much better. We will continue to medicate her every two hours until it is fully healed. She still has a bit of the sniffles, and the veterinarian gave her another shot of antibiotics that should last her 7-10 days. At this point, we're just waiting and hoping that her immune system kicks in and she starts healing herself. No more follow up appointments at the moment. I was told to come back in if she's still sniffling and sneezing and rattling after 7-10 days for another shot of antibiotics, or if I run out of the eye medicine before her eye is cleared up. At 1.4 pounds, she has gained .3 pound since her first appointment. While she is ten and a half weeks old now, the vet and I are in agreeance that she is still just too small to be vaccinated. Her aunt (her mother's sister) died at 12 weeks due to a bad reaction to her first vaccination. The staff at the clinic still remember her. Since we don't have visitors in to the house often, and Sage is strictly indoor only, her risk of being exposed to anything is low. We will wait until she is bigger before she gets her vaccinations.
Today she was tearing through the room chasing and pouncing on the other kitties. She's definitely feeling better, but she's also still rattling when she breathes. She still has a ways to go, but the vet assures me this is common with weaning kittens as they lose the immunity from nursing, and that Sage will eventually kick her immune system into working order.
I finished #3's purse yesterday. She chose a nice bright blue and wanted more of a clutch shape (longer and shorter) but with a cross body strap. No clasp. Somehow when I attached the shoulder strap it didn't look right at the top where it comes off the purse, but I corrected it by adding a cute little bow to either side.
I was several inches into the next bag project (for #2) when I made the decision to pull it apart and start over. It was just too big, and looked like it was going to be ungainly to carry around. So now I'm a little slow and behind, but it'll be better in the end.
Baby Sage is adorable, as always. Her little ears perk up whenever she hears my voice. A couple days ago I left a blanket in there that didn't fit in the laundry load. Sage loved it. She was able to move around a lot more without getting cold on the floor. I felt a little bad when I finally threw it in the wash yesterday morning. Sage stays either on the carpeted base of the cat tree, or under the fish tank over by the heat vent. Floki seems to be a good momma. As much as she leaves Sage alone, I think it only looks odd because she's alone. If it were a little pile of kittens napping together it would seem less strange, but little Sage, laying all alone, seems so sad. She's a sweet little soul, and she's got a beautiful personality. I'm looking forward to when she's a bit bigger and a little more interactive.
Today, while at the feed store to get more rabbit food, we stopped by the garden section. I joke with my husband that this competitor of his store will get in seed potatoes before his store does. They didn't have any seed potatoes, but they did have a display of dormant fruit trees. They were only $17.99 each and decent sized. Much to my surprised delight, Tony said to go ahead and get some. "An orchard is an investment." he said. So today I brought home two Contender peach trees, two Kieffer pear trees, and one Methley plum tree. And so our journey into starting our orchard has begun! Now I need to figure out what to do with them until the snow melts. For now they're in the unheated entry way. They're dormant, pruned down and no leaves, but they were indoors when I bought them.
In researching my varieties a little more, I've found that plums and cherries are safe to plant in proximity to black walnut, but apple trees can't be near black walnut. The problem is that I've found different lists that put peaches and pears on both sides of this list. Can they be near black walnut or not? Since the area I had set aside for an orchard is bordered on one side by black walnut trees and boxed on on the other side by water, I'm realizing that I don't have nearly the orchard space I had originally thought I had. Once you measure out 50 feet from the black walnut tree line, you're already in the middle of the orchard space. While I'd love to have additional trees in that area to block certain views, it's not worth the financial loss if the new trees don't thrive.
After much thought, checking and re-checking my aerial map, measuring several times, and consulting with my husband, we have decided to change our plans a little. Instead of using the east field as an orchard, we are going to use the northern end of the front fields. This will also add an additional sound and vision barrier, while providing the trees the furthest positioning from any black walnuts, while also giving them a south-facing location with wind block to the north. I don't think it will take away enough from the northern fields to make a dent in our potential garden space there anyway, and it means even more possible space for apple trees to be added in! The east field will now be used for black walnut - tolerant vegetables, such as corn and squash and beans. It will still end up used to grow food, just not in the way I had originally planned. I think this will actually work out better anyway.
Back at the feed store in the garden section, #5 and I stopped to look at some of the yard decor. He liked the zombie gnome, but it was expensive ($40). We ended up bringing home two little sleeping dragons, and a solar-powered fairy house. I am so excited to start gardening.
I'm almost done with #3's purse. I just need to add the strap, but I can't measure for it because she's off spending the night somewhere tonight. Perhaps I will be able to get that measured out tomorrow and completed Monday.
I'm making plans already for #2's bag. He wants one he can use as a school bag. He's got some pretty elaborate ideas too. He wants a tote kind of like the one I made for #5, but he wants a cross-body strap, a flap closure, and an additional interior pocket for his gaming dice. He needs it to be able to hold all his school stuff, which means adding in additional support somehow. I've got my work cut out for me!
Sage is doing well. She is still mostly in eat or sleep mode, but she has played a few times, and her little claws are sharp! She chews on my lips or my nose when I try to snuggle with her. She's adorable, but still so tiny. It's hard to know how to play with her. I wish she had someone her size to curl up with or play with. She's too small for toys yet, but soon, I'm sure, she will be running around chasing the jingle balls and the mitten toy. I am excited to watch her grow.
I haven't had much down time lately to do any more tomato or pepper research. Every time I attempt to sit down, #5 needs something. And of course he doesn't go to sleep on his own, which means by the time he actually goes to sleep, I'm exhausted and ready for bed too. It's a struggle to have time to write up a blog some days, but here I am, trying to keep my thoughts and projects updated and shared promptly.
Some random ideas floating around in my head currently...
We just bought a length of PVC piping to fit inside an old pair of #1's boots. They will become planters this summer if I can figure out a way to cut the pipe to the proper size. I'm not sure what to plant in them yet... flower, herb, or vegetable?
Pistachio shells - potential craft project, or compost fodder?
Winter sowing experiment I meant to do last year... Big clear tote, drainage holes in bottom, holes in top to let rain and snow in. Fill plastic cups with soil, plant seeds, and line them up in the tote, then use the tote as the greenhouse. This would give individual plants more space, both with roots and with height. Possibly a great idea for peppers and/or tomatoes. Or maybe apple tree seedlings?
I made another loaf of bread today. I mostly followed the instructions for white bread, but instead of 2 Tablespoons of dried milk, I added 2 Tablespoons of almond milk. Instead of 3 Tablespoons of sugar, I added 3 Tablespoons of honey. Then #5 and I added honey-roasted sunflower seeds, since we had several individual packets laying around. We ended up adding 4.8 ounces (according to package sizes) into the mix.
It came out really nice. It smells like sunflower seeds, and it tastes good too. I can't taste any honey at all, but the sunflower definitely came through!
Last night little Xavier passed away. I'm at a loss. I have no idea what happened to this one. She was doing well, she was eating, she was in good health, she wasn't thin or underweight or dehydrated. She was growing well and active. I don't know what went wrong.
Today I got the phone case I ordered with my dog design on it. I am so happy with it, and excited that it arrived two days earlier than anticipated. If you'd like to have a phone case with this design, or perhaps a shirt, mug, sticker, clock, or bag, please take a minute to go HERE to see what's available with this design on it.
The live trap caught something today. It wasn't the raccoon we were hoping for, but one of the local red squirrel babies. When we moved in last August there were several tiny baby red squirrels, likely just weaned. There was no mama squirrel around, just several babies and they would run through the yard and climb the trees all in line. They were about the size of mice when we first arrived, and now they're about the size of a chipmunk. We have two that are still around. One that seems to live in the "mother walnut" tree beside the chicken coop, and one that has claimed the walnut grove with the black raspberry plants as it's territory.
So when this cute little guy triggered the trap and was springing around making crazy circles in the cage, we had no choice but to let him go. I snapped this photo as #3 opened the cage to let it out. It lost no time in making a prompt escape. This one happens to be the one that owns the raspberry bush area.
I used as much of the red white and blue skein of yarn as I could and came up with a grand total of seven crochet coasters. Of them, six are variations of more or less stripes and blue star sections, and one coaster that is just stripes, with no blue star part.
I only got a photo of six, as #2 picked one out that he wants to give to his history teacher. Of course that meant that #4 wanted to bring some for her teachers too. So now I'm left with three.
I guess they're for sale if anyone is interested. They're double thick, hand crocheted, and are roughly 4" x 4" (slightly more rectangular, so closer to 4" x 3.75"). I've been using the prototype for a while now and it's actually quite nice. I haven't had to wash it yet, so I don't know how that will work (wash cold, line dry). I expect it will wash as well as my pot holders that are made the same way.
Today I sent #3 back into the space to see if she could fetch a container from one of the boxes of freeze dried food. Unfortunately four of the cases are stashed so well, they cannot be reached. She did manage, after several minutes of fighting with a box, to remove one large can of rice and chicken.
I sent an email to the company with the code from the bottom of the can to see how old it is. They have a 30 year flavor guarantee, so I was wondering if they'd replace it if it tasted funny.
The gentleman who's name appeared on the package died in 1996, the to/from is stamped onto the box several times, and the address is the man's name, c/o his business, with city/state/zip, but no numerical address. Add in the fact that three of the boxes are stashed behind heating duct work, indicating the house was literally being upgraded around these boxes... I suspect these boxes may be older than I am.
The instructions were simple enough... Add 6 cups of boiling water, stir, and leave for 5-10 minutes.
Since we already had the can out, and I hadn't put anything in the crock pot for dinner, we figured why not? Let's try some really old freeze-dried emergency rations...
#4 used a can opener to carefully remove the top of the can while I started the water boiling. The contents took up about 3/4 of the can, and it smelled alright. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it looked fine.
We added the boiling water, stirred it up, and set the table while we waited the ten minutes for the food to rehydrate. It ended up looking a little plain, and the kids were hesitant to eat it at first.
I dished everyone up a small portion, and the older kids waited for me to taste it first. Tony was on the phone by this time, on his way home, and said "So if I come home and everyone is sick, I'll know not to eat the food."
I took a bite at the same time as #4 and #5. It was delicious! The only one that didn't care for it was #5, and he turns his nose up at most dinners (he's a breakfast boy). Tonight #1, #4, and I all had seconds. #2 had three portions. And there was still enough for Tony when he came home! That means we got 12 portions out of the big can.
Now, you might be wondering - where do I go to get some freeze dried emergency rations that will taste that delightful in 30+ years? Well, my friends, you are in luck! Mountain House sells their products on their website, but their food is actually cheaper to buy through Amazon (affiliate link below).
We will be keeping the remaining cans where they are. Partially because they're virtually impossible to get to. But really, it's good to know that we have emergency food in case there is ever a time when we really are in a bad situation and cannot afford food, or we get snowed in for more than a few days, or whatever else might come up. I had always hoped one day to have an emergency pantry. Something with canned vegetables and such from our garden, and extra bits of stuff here and there that we've been able to save and store away. It's never happened, largely because we don't have the extra money to buy things, and I've never tried canning (yet). We also eat - a lot - and the idea of having more than we can eat has been a foreign concept for most of my adult life. Until I started gardening, that is. The meaning of abundance is found in over planting a garden. Next year I want to work on preserving those harvests for even longer. Imagine how much more I can grow if I know how to store it, and with all the more space we have now. These freeze dried rations will be the foundation from which I will build my own pantry with foods I grow and can myself.
Which leads me to a thought in the back of my head... Now we have chickens and Josh the goose... While the ducks will likely leave my garden alone (they're supposed to eat bugs from the garden but leave the plants alone), chickens are known for destroying gardens, and Josh - well, he destroyed every pepper and okra plant we had this fall... How in the world am I going to keep them all out? I can't afford fencing, and I don't want to coop them all up - I believe in free-range if it's safe. Something I will continue to ponder. Perhaps some pallets and metal fence posts are in order.
And in other news... I am an admin for a Facebook pets group. Someone posted bloodhound puppies yesterday. I approved the ad after admiring the pictures. My parents always joked that when my mom gets her deck, my dad can have his bloodhound. These are two things they've both wanted for a long time. This summer, my mom got her deck built. So every time I see bloodhound puppies for sale, I think about my parents' agreement.
Well, Facebook removed the ad for some reason (as they sometimes do in an attempt to prevent animal sales), so the lady sent me a message to ask why her ad was removed. We got to talking, and I complimented her pups and told her about my parents' deal. She said she sometimes takes in surrenders too, and she just happened to have one now. A one year old purebred bloodhound that she sold as a pup. The owner had a drug problem and went to jail, so the dog came back to the breeder. Now she was trying to find her a home, for a fee much smaller than a bloodhound pup sells for. So I did what any good daughter would do... I forwarded the photo to my mom and reminded her that she got her deck... So dad should get his bloodhound.
My mom contacted the breeder, and they chatted. Then my mom told my brother she wanted to buy a bloodhound for my dad for Christmas. Being the voice of reason, my dear brother told mom she needed to talk to dad first and not just spring it on him. After that summer we lost three big dogs to different issues, he swore off ever having big dogs again because "digging big holes is too much work."
Tonight my mom showed the photo to my dad, and said "I want to buy this dog for you for Christmas." Much to everyone's delightful surprise, my dad agreed! The bloodhound will be coming home sometime in the next week, whenever they can make the arrangements to pick her up (they are three hours away, but willing to meet part way).
So here I am, worker of miracles. I have hooked my dad up with a dog of a breed he's wanted longer than I can remember, and at a price he could afford. I can hardly wait to hear her braying when we come up the driveway for Christmas. It's been a while since my parents' house was blessed with a hound. Our beagle taught our dalmatian to howl when I was a child. That was beautiful. I wonder if this bloodhound can convince the pugs to howl.
Oh no! I forgot to do a blog yesterday! I think that's probably the first time in a year I've completely missed a day of blogging.
Last night I didn't plug my phone in before I went to bed. It was at 70-something percent, so I figured it would be fine. Well, it would have, had I turned off my wifi hot spot. It died sometime in the night, so none of my morning alarms went off. I woke up at 7:40, Tony was already at work, the bus was long since gone by, and I don't drive. I called my mom, but her cell phone was dead too, and her home phone went straight to voicemail. Twice. So I let the kids sleep in. No sense waking them up at 8am when I have no way to get them to school. It was something like 9 degrees out with 20-30 mile an hour winds. Not really what you want them to walk the two miles to school in... especially the 8 year old.
Kids all seemed to wake up simultaneously at about 10:15, and #2, upon hearing that my alarms had failed and I had no way to get them to school, got ready for school, packed his backpack, and WALKED TO SCHOOL! I gave him a note for being late and to excuse #1 (she wasn't about to walk in the cold). I was so impressed, I gave him his cell phone back that he'd lost last Thursday after having a major Aspergers meltdown that included quite a string of swear words. I'm impressed with his attitude toward school this year. He seems to be getting back on track, and really enjoys being there. How refreshing!
Tomorrow we're meeting the lady we got Josh, Tweak, and Leonardo from. I'm so excited. We are bringing home five new ducks. I plan to leave them in the bunny barn, all closed up for the day, to make sure they have space to get to know each other. We will have to come up with new names now too. I suppose we should wait a while to figure out if we have boys or girls and who is who though. Might be weird to name them and have them turn out to be a different gender. I did some research and it seems their voices give away their gender most readily. And if in doubt, they will grow a curled tail feather if they're male. Both Leonardo and Tweak have a curled tail. I think Captain Barnacles does too. I know Dashi is currently our only female duck, so I'm really hoping that a good portion of these new ducks are female.
Today the kids found an additional two eggs in the nest box, and two more on the floor. And yet still none are from Boss Lady (who is still diligently sitting on eggs). Yesterday I numbered the eggs with a permanent marker (1-7) so we could remove extra eggs. She already has so many that some stick out from under her and I'm sure they're not staying warm enough.
Today I had the kids steal two of the numbered eggs (4 and 7) and we attempted to candle them. Let me start by saying, I had no idea what I was doing. I expected to see some cool veins or the outline of a chick or something. Instead they hardly glowed at all. Just one space on either egg shown through with the light from my cell phone. We compared it to one of the fresh eggs and that one was bright and clear and you could see the whole egg illuminated. We put the numbered eggs back in the nest and I looked up candling chicken eggs. It seems that for roughly 10 days into this adventure, the candling looks like normal ten day old incubating eggs. So I guess we're still in the running for more chickens here in the near future. Just 11 days left until we should get our first peek and whatever comes out of those eggs. I'm not sure what to expect (well, aside from a baby chicken of course). Momma will have been Henrietta the barred rock hen, and father - well, that could be Sterling, our big silver legged rooster (no idea what his breed is), or it could potentially be one of the two silkie roosters. I'm just hoping that we get live chicks and can keep them alive and healthy for them to grow up, so we can see what we have.
Tonight I'm going to make sure my phone is plugged in!
This morning I sent seven bunnies off with Tony on his way to work. He met someone on the way to swap six of the bunnies for two wire cages. I haven't had a chance to go look at the cages, but I'm told at least one is in rough shape and will need repairs before it can be used. Still, a good deal I think. Six fewer mouths to feed and some more space to put the remaining bunnies.
Today the kids took the three older shelved kits and released them in the living room. They were running and kicking their heels up and playing. It was fun to watch. I'm sure they enjoyed having the space to hop around too. I was a little worried that Moose might think they were something to play with, and while he was excited to have them out and about, he did not chase or paw at them at all. In fact at one point the little brown kit came right up to Moose. Moose was sitting and leaned his head down, and the tiny bunny sat on his back legs, leaned up, and they touched noses for a moment. I wish I'd have gotten a photo; it was priceless.
Dinner was my attempt at crock pot chicken soup with no recipe and limited ingredients. I had a package of frozen chicken tenderloin, potatoes, half an onion, leftover apples from the tree, a handful of fresh thyme, a clove of garlic, and I added a dash of oregano with the salt and pepper for good measure. It smelled really good. I made rice to go with it just in case we needed more filler. It was so bland though. My mom came by for dinner, and suggested chicken bouillon. How did I forget that? So I added some after we had all dished up (of course). I had hoped it would improve the flavor for Tony when he got off work. He just said "It's missing something." so I guess at least it wasn't bland anymore. I used nearly an entire clove of garlic, and it didn't come through at all in the flavor. In fact, you couldn't taste the thyme, the apples, nothing. It was just flavorless texture in your mouth. Ugh! I have got to figure out how to use herbs and spices! Better luck next time I guess. It was at least better than my last crock pot meal - Barbecue rabbit soup... Don't mix herbs and BBQ sauce into a soup... It doesn't work.
The oldest two kids went off to a school dance tonight. Both came back with a poor attitude, both blaming the other for their bad mood. Well guess who isn't going to be getting money to go to school extra-curricular activities next time?
The younger kids were in bed early tonight. #5 was in full blown meltdown mode by 7:30pm. He got up early today, and because he's three, he doesn't believe in naps anymore. Every time I try to lay down with him, I fall asleep, so that's not an option. My mom left at 7:45 or so, and by 8pm I had #5 laying down. By 8:15 I was rubbing his back and he was drifting off. At 9:45 the phone woke me up - Tony was off work. Darn it, I fell asleep again! I must be sleep deprived or something (five kids - go figure). Both of the girls (#3 and #4) were asleep when I crept out of the room around 10:45pm to get on the computer and write my blog for the night.
So now, at 11:42pm, the house is quiet. Kids are all asleep, bunnies have settled in for the night, the dog is snoring, and I am ready to go to bed. For real this time.
As October comes to a close, we celebrate Halloween. A holiday where people are expected to pay for an over-priced outfit that will likely only be worn once, and encourage kids to not only approach strangers, but knock on doors and ask for candy... Often after dark. What a strange way to celebrate harvest season.
The kids had fun. We kept our expenses fairly minimal this year. For #1's Skrillex outfit, we bought black hair dye, and she wore clothes she already had and borrowed the "nerd" glasses her brother used a couple years ago when he was a nerd for Halloween. For #2 he borrowed a dress from one of his friends at school and was a prom queen (clever use of what was available - his costume was free). #3 was Little Red Riding Hood - I had a red hooded cape from several years ago, which she forgot at home, so she just used a red blanket. Another free costume! #4 was a fairy this year. She wore all pink, and borrowed the wire edged wings that have been sitting in my closet for several years. Another free costume! #5 had originally asked to be a witch, and only after we bought the hat and broom did he decide he absolutely had to be a ninja turtle. His ninja turtle costume was $15 which makes his the most expensive costume this year. Not bad. Here's to creativity! They're already thinking about how to create costumes for next year.
The bunnies in the chicken coop are looking good. Momma has them on top of about a foot of bedding inside the tote, and makes sure to bury the entry every time she leaves them. Looks like four white, two black with white markings, and one oddball - possibly a torte?
Today #5 wanted to check for eggs. He is three and sometimes he wants to do everything himself. So he checked for eggs. He found an egg in the big dog kennel in the chicken coop, and carefully leaned all the way to the back to pick it up, ever so gently, in his little mitten-covered hand. He made it all the way to the coop door, where there's a big step to get up and out of the coop before...
It slipped out of his mitten grip and hit the cement step on the way down, ending up in the dirt at his feet. He was pretty bummed out, but I told him it's just an egg, and there will probably be another one to collect tomorrow. Learning experience. Now he knows just how fragile the eggs are and (hopefully) will try to be a little more careful in the future. Perhaps slipping it into his pocket would be a better option next time.
This is the only hen that has not laid an egg for us as of yet. She was in poor condition when she arrived, missing big patches of feathers, and some of her skin was raw and open. She looked like she had road rash. Poor girl. She's looking beautiful now, so I hope she will start laying soon.
Yesterday morning when I got up, Boon was missing from the nest box. We searched the house for over half an hour trying to find him. I was worried because #4 had accidentally let the cats out, and we have one that is an excellent mouser and would love nothing more than to catch and kill Boon if given half a chance. That's why we'd been keeping them separate.
About 45 minutes later, Tony was going upstairs, and just happened to peek in to check on #5 who was still asleep. There was #5, fast asleep in his bed, and a portion of his sheet was moving. Sure enough, he had woken up at sunrise, went down stairs, taken Boon from the nest box, and brought him back up to cuddle with him, only to fall asleep again, with the bunny in his bed.
When we finally found Boon, I brought him out to his momma for his morning feeding. By mid afternoon when we checked again (it was a warm day so I let him stay in with his momma for the day), Boon was out of the nest box! It's official, our little long-shot bunny is growing up! Now we can't keep him in the house anymore because he won't stay in the nest box. He will be staying out with his momma now. It was a warm night and tonight will also be warm, but next week we're heading into below freezing nights, and within the next two weeks we may be getting the yucky white stuff (I always dread the arrival of snow and cold weather). But now that Boon can get out of the nest box, he can cuddle up with his mom for warmth. I'm hoping he does alright. He's a plump little fella, and he'll have a couple warm nights here to acclimate to being outside. Yesterday and today we reached 70-degrees. Not bad for the middle of October!
I had every intention of butchering some roosters today. Tony got our new kill cones set up this morning before he went to work. I actually had a rooster in the kill cone, psyched myself up for it, and went for the slice... but for some freak reason, my knife did nothing to the bird! Not once, not twice, but three times I attempted to kill the bird, and three times my knife didn't so much as scratch his neck! I can't explain this. The knife was sharp, I used it just a week ago on bunny slaughter day and it did well. I took the bird out of the kill cone and returned him to the coop, then texted Tony that he's going to have to hire a processing place because I can't do it. Not even, apparently, with the proper tools. He said he'd help get the job done tomorrow.
The kids decided to work together and shake the apple tree. Not just standing there from the ground, but climbing up to shake the branches more vigorously. We got lots and lots of apples today and there's still more up in the tree yet!
We got a few interesting looking ones today. One looked like it had a large bruise, but it wasn't bruised at all, just the outside was discolored like a bruise. It was still shiny and firm.
There was another one that had some old injury, likely from insects, that had healed, but caused the striped design to be puckered.
Today I moved Kai back to the bunny barn, and integrated Kin into the chicken coop herd. It took some work to get it to fit right, but with the help of #2, we got the rabbit tractor transitioned into an outer pen for the chicken coop.
A few strategically placed bricks to prevent anyone from getting under the fence, the rabbit tractor nest tote in the corner, and the coop door open. The chickens and the guineas did eventually wander out to the grassy area later, but none braved to leave the fenced area. I know they can get over the fence, because they can get up into the rafters in the coop. Maybe tomorrow they will brave the yard. The bunnies seemed to enjoy the extra space and sunshine.
I'm still trying to figure out what kind of ducks we've added to the flock. In the photo above, Leonardo and Tweak are our Indian Runners at the top of the photo. Dashi is the brown duck in the middle of the photo, and Captain Barnacles is the grey duck with the blue striped wing to the left bottom. I suspect that Captain Barnacles is a Rouen duck hen, and I'm fairly certain Dashi is a hen as well, but I don't know what breed (maybe a mallard hen?). If anyone can identify them, please let me know!
I took a short video inside the chicken coop today. A brief view into the lives of our newest friends. Three hens, two Dutch cross rabbits, and even Luna, the new kitten, wanders in for a while. Yes, that's a desk - the hens seem to enjoy hanging out on it when they're not up in the rafters. I do plan on pulling the boards off the outside of the window to let more natural light in, but haven't gotten to it yet.
The same hen left us a second egg today. I know it was her because the Naked Neck and the Barred Rock should both lay brown eggs, and this was another blue/green egg like the last one.
Yesterday I was too sick to deal with the rabbit tractor, so the two bunnies sat in the same spot two days in a row. I wanted to show everyone the difference just one day makes. In the photo below, the cage has been moved for the day to fresh grass (you can see it's nice and green in there). The space directly in front of the cage is where it sat for two days. Note that it is brown and well chewed except the one green patch where the nest tote was sitting. The space to the right of the bare patch is where it was the day prior, and all the spaces behind that are days before that... All green, but with short grass. As though it's been mowed, but not destroyed. They did start to dig, likely out of boredom, sometime late in the second day stuck on the same patch of grass. This is the importance of moving your rabbit tractor every day!
My belly problem has been escalating. Though originally it seemed to be limited to a severe dairy allergy, I continue to get painfully ill when I eat a peanut butter sandwich, despite the fact that neither the bread, nor the peanut butter contains dairy products. Tony has suggested perhaps I am also acquiring a wheat allergy. I hope not, but as of right now I'm not sure what to think. I will continue to wean things out of my diet until I am back to normal.
Today a sandwich in the afternoon lead to pain in the evening. I was near tears by the time we got home from our trip to Brainerd, and ended up laying in bed with a hot pack. Two Advil did nothing to stop the escalation of pain. I have got to get a handle on this.
We did meet someone today to pick up more bunnies. We now have three more cute little fluffy friends. I'm not sure on breeds or genders yet. Like I said, I pretty much came straight home and was in too much pain to do anything. I know there are two broken blacks, and one odd colored one (oh that one is gorgeous). I didn't get any photos yet, but will try to get some taken and posted tomorrow.
Tonight we have bunnies in travel carriers as I wasn't able to get them set up in their cages. This means the travel carrier we usually keep the kittens in at night is currently occupied. I was assured the kittens were snuggled up together in the bunny barn when Josh and the ducks were put away just after dark. I still worry. I hope they'll be alright on their own in the barn for the night.
It got down to 38 or 39 degrees last night. I think it was enough to make Tony seriously consider options. Tonight the low is supposed to be down to 40 and Tony turned on the heater. This is the first time we've used the heater, but he cranked it up initially just to make sure we would be safe. We have carbon monoxide detectors on all floors and in or near all bedrooms. He made sure it ran for three hours before he turned it down to 65 and came to bed.
Tomorrow we go back to pick up more chickens and rabbits from the people we met on Sunday. No word on how many and what kinds they have for us. She did mention giving us some ducks last time too. It will be an exciting adventure. I'm really hoping I can keep my tummy troubles in check long enough to go out and haul critters home and get them all set up.
In addition to that, I am also hosting dinner tomorrow for my mom following #1 and possibly #2, playing in their first school tournament. Wishing them luck!
I'm afraid today will be a short and boring blog. I've been having the same pains I had last fall and winter again. Today I was largely down and out. I moved the game console to the bedroom so #5 could sit with me while I laid down. Ibuprofen has been a constant just to be able to sit up.
Once the older kids got home from school, I took a little bit of a nap, had #2 make dinner, dosed up on more ibuprofen, and managed to stagger out to the bunny barn long enough to make sure they all had food and water.
I did get the chickens and the dutch cross bunnies fed this morning. No eggs today. Or at least no eggs when I checked in around noon. #3 said she looked later in the evening and didn't find any either. Oh well. Can't win all the time I guess. Maybe we will have another egg tomorrow. I know #5 is excited to see if the Easter Egger chicken will lay the same colored eggs, or different colored eggs each time. I'm a little curious too.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.