Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Twins

Last year, right about this time there was a litter of kittens born. They were at a friends huge barn and cabinet shop. He let us know right away when they were born so we could take our son to see brand new babies. My son was smitten with them. There were 5 little kittens. We went to see them almost every weekend. We had first pick. My son liked a little grey one at first but then changed his mind to a very dark tabby. This is the one he stuck with. We wanted to leave the kittens with their mama as long as possible. So at the end there were just two little babies left. (as the others were collected by their new families) These two-the chosen one and her  brother were left. Had no intentions of bringing home two kittens but the brother was so sweet we had to. 
The huntress. Zu.

James the cuddler.
All three kitties napping. From left Zu, James and Bat.

So we have the twins the dark tabby female who is our little huntress. She has a small bone structure but you wouldn't know it by looking at her. She has lots of hair. Her name is Zu. Her brother is a tabby as well but he has for white feet and a white chest and tummy. He loves to cuddle and is very mellow. He was the runt. You wouldn't know it now. The cat is a bottomless pit and is solid as a rock. His name is James.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What About Ducks?

So what about ducks? I go to the farm supply store to pick up my baby peeps and there they are. Just sitting there doing what ducks do and being absolutely adorable. I almost had to bring a few home when I was there and they got to my son as well. Then last weekend my husband comes home from his day and tells me he almost brought me home a couple of little baby ducks. At this point I hadn't entertained the idea of ducks added to the backyard flock. But now, now I have the idea in my head and can't shake it. I have been reading and looking up information on ducks since then. Trying to learn as much as I can. I have learned that they are messy and that they poop a lot. I have also learned that they are very friendly and make your chickens more friendly, that they rarely contract illness'. That the ducks can eat what the chickens eat. And so much more information. I have only touched the surface. There is a lot of positive to go with the ducks. The negatives for me are the messy part and that they get water everywhere. So even if I kept the waterers in the run there would still be a watery mess. Just in the dirt, turning it to mud. But how much mud? Should I just stick with chickens? Or do I get ducks? Am I letting their cuteness get to me? Ducks or no ducks? That is the question. Any of you have experience with ducks? Advice or guidance?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Search for Spring

Today I was not going to let the rain take over my day. I was searching for Spring today and I was going to find it! I did. In a small amount but I did find it! 
Hens and chicks are always in the flower bed but right now they are such a pretty color.
Found these sweet little faces peeking out from under a log. My husband and son call them Monkey Faces.
 Last and certainly not least are these miniature daffodil buds. They will open soon.                                                  

I was successful in my search for spring today. I was happy to find these all in our yard. As I was searching I did happen to notice how badly in need the flower-beds are for a good clean up.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Summer-time Sunshine

Really feeling the need for some summer-time sunshine.The sunshine that warms all things through and through. The sunshine that makes the dirt feel warm when you wiggle your toes in it, the sunshine that when you sit for a spell makes you feel so relaxed that you just want to keep sitting there and do nothing else except sit there, the sunshine that seasons the breeze with the sent of all things growing.  
Early morning sunrise over the river. Taken last summer.

Late afternoon sun at the river. Taken last summer.
The kind of sunshine that brings you out to the patio and lets you enjoy an ice cold glass of fresh squeezed lemonade or sweet iced tea loaded with ice cubes. The sunshine that makes cool watermelon melt in your mouth or gives you fresh picked berries from the vine still warm from the afternoon sun. That kind of sunshine. Summer-time  sunshine.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mr. Curious

          This is Mr. Curious. Barthalomeow or Bat for short. This guy is something else. Always into what you are doing. If it's outside in the garage then he is on the hood of the car or in it somewhere close by to wherever you are. If it's weeding the flower beds then he zooms past you running full tilt-to turn around and sneak up behind you and tag you with his paws.
      If it's inside then he is usually found on the quilts that are on the back of the couch cleaning himself or napping. Patiently waiting for someone to sit down and cover up with a quilt so that he can come and snuggle into the folds of it. Bat loves to lay on quilts.

Bat is our sweetie. He is one patient guy with my son who loves to lug him everywhere he goes. Bat was 
chosen and claimed by my son when he was about 6 years old. He sleeps at the foot of his bed on the big soft quilt and rises early in the morning to come and get me out of bed for breakfast.
I can always count on him to leave a prize catch on the front porch of some poor field mouse, or bird that wasn't fast enough. I like it when he leaves the mice and wish he would leave the birds alone. At least he doesn't succeed too often with catching the birds.                                                               

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week Old Chicks

Took some photos last evening of the baby chicks that we brought home last Friday evening. They are now 1 week old and  have changed so much over the last week. When we first brought them home they didn't do much except sleep. They still do their fair share of sleeping but now they like to jump on and off of the block of wood that we placed in their brooder as a roost. One has started to get a tail and they are getting feathers on their wings now. Each one is starting to have their own personality as well.
 There is lots of eating going on through out the day. They are still just as cute as ever and so curious.  I am eager to see how much they will change this next week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coop and Run

Here's an update on our chicken coop and run. It's been a while since I have posted on it. I wanted to show it from start to finish. The footprint of the coop is a 4' x 8' floor base made from reclaimed wood. The bones of the coop were purchased from the local home supply store. This picture is one weekend of progress. Working between rain and snow showers. 
 We also ended up purchasing the sheathing for the walls at the local home supply  store - to enable us to keep moving forward with being able to complete the coop in a timely manner. This picture also shows a weekends progress. Once again working in between rain, snow and this time hail showers.

Close to getting the coop complete. To get the barn "look" that we were looking for we nailed fence pickets to the sheathing. Later in the week my husband and I each took turns at staining the wood. So glad we stained when we did. The days to follow we had heavy rain for two days straight.

Here you can see the coop stained. With the run. The run took a weekend to complete. The run is all done. The coop still needs roofing which will come in time. The nesting boxes and the roost still need to be placed as well. Not too shabby I think. I am quite pleased.

From drawing on paper to actual coop and run in the backyard! Very fun to watch it come to life. Lots of hard work too. I am so very thankful to my husband and brother-n-law for all that they did. I am very excited to fill it with chickens.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chick Brooders and Chicks

Over the last few weeks I have been gathering the items needed for a chick brooder. I put together the basics, using a cardboard box as the brooder, a small shop light for warmth and wood shavings.  I purchased a small waterer and feeder. All in preparation  for bringing home chicks. Today was the two week mark that we have been waiting for to be able to pick up our chicks. We did not order any so it was a gamble as to what may be available to pick up.
     There was only one group of pullets available. In the group were only six left. So we purchased 3 today. 3 little cream bunches of peeping fluff, Buff Orpington chicks. Boy are they cute! My son is in love with them and has taken on the job of surrogate mama hen. I also paid for 3 more Light Brahma pullet chicks that will be able to be picked up at the end of the month. Can't wait!
     I will be putting together a second brooder to put the new 3 in when we bring them home. I all ready have the other cardboard box and my neighbor has lent me her small waterer and feeder. I may purchase another small shop light for this second brooder. (It would come in handy for other purposes as well.) Or my neighbor also offered to let me barrow hers.
     Finally chicks. Now comes patience. Wont have eggs until the end of summer beginning of fall. Unless of course we can come across a couple of older hens that are all ready laying. Either way I am very happy to have chickens again.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Voice

The twin to a quilt that I made for my Sister. One for each us.  
     Today began as any other day.  The Monday through Friday weekday routine. That is until this evening. While making dinner my phone rang. Typically I won't answer the phone while cooking because it ends up that something I am cooking gets burned or I loose track of  where I am in a recipe. But this was a call I had to take. It was my dear Sister. It has been too long since we have spoke with each other. Keep in mind we "speak " often by letting our fingers do the talking. Texting is a wonderful invention. We are able to talk for most of the day and keep moving through our busy schedules. A wonderful way to stay in touch and be involved in each others daily lives. However texting will never take the place of hearing a voice. Especially one so near and dear to my heart. Nothing can take a voices place. Well except the physical presence of the person that belongs to that voice. Since there is a full 2 day drive between my Sister and I, I'll take the voice and bide my time for the presence of her person. I love you dear Sister.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Soup

     This soup is so good. Especially on a day like today. It can't make up it's mind to rain or snow and there is a strong wind blowing. The soup is perfect for warming the body up after coming in from the cold.

Crock-pot Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 1/2 Cup dry Pinto beans
1/2    Cup dry Kidney beans
2       Cups of diced cooked chicken
1/2    Cup of onion chopped
1       Teaspoon of chicken seasoning
1/2    Teaspoon of chili powder
1/4    Teaspoon of Cumin
1/4    Teaspoon of Oregano
4       Cups of water or more if needed
1       14.5 oz can diced stewed tomatoes
* Salt and garlic powder to taste.
* Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce to taste.
Graded Cheddar cheese and Sour cream.
Corn Tortillas

     Boil beans in pot on stove top until almost cooked. (About 45minutes). While boiling the beans, boil the chicken that you are using as well. (Most of the time I use left over chicken from dinner the evening before. So my chicken is usually all ready cooked.) If not then a skinned and no bones half breast is just about the right size.(It's really to your preference. If you want more beans and chicken then add more if you want.) When the beans and chicken are done on the stove top then pour the whole pot of beans, juice and all into the crock-pot.  Remove the chicken from it's pot and let cool so it can be diced up, then after dicing add it to the crock-pot as well.
     Chop up about a 1/2 cup of onion. ( Again this is preference. If you add more beans and chicken then add a little bit more onion.) I have added the onion fresh cut and I have also sautee'd the onion in a tablespoon of oil and then added it to the crock-pot. (Good both ways.)
     Add the chicken seasoning, chili powder, cumin, oregano, water and can of diced tomatoes. Stir and then add garlic powder and salt to taste. My family loves garlic so we put in quite a bit.
     Finally add the Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce but only if you like spicy. (It is very spicy.)
     Turn your crock-pot to high and let cook for 5 to 6 hours.

*Serve with graded cheddar cheese and a spoonful of sour cream.
*Warm up some corn tortillas to serve with the soup also or add in some crushed up tortilla chips or Fritos.
     I set this up in my crock-pot and leave for work or to go grocery shopping and by the time I get home it's all done. The house smells so good when I walk in after getting back home or from being outside on cold day like today.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ready to Dig

     I am itching to get my fingers in the dirt. Ready to smell the spicy, earthy smell that dirt has when you dig in it. Ready to get some sort of beautiful flowers started growing. I have visions of flower beds brimming with vivid color and my nose being tickled with the sweet scent from the flowers. I have long dreamed of having lush, flower filled gardens to walk in and enjoy. This is the year to start!
     There are so many different kinds of plants and ideas running through my head for what I see for this garden. I know that I will not be able to get to all of the plants and ideas this year-there are so many, but I will be able to get started and that alone makes me smile. Why have I waited so long? I don't really have an answer except that maybe I needed to mull things over.
     I have no plan for what to put where or anything specific that has to happen. I like to let things take on a life of their own. To let things create themselves into how they will end up. There are some things that are meant to be exact but mostly I find that if you let things, they will create themselves with a little help and gentle guidance.
    Patience is very much a part of all of this. One virtue I desperately lack in. I don't really have much of a choice other than to have patience. This I can muddle through as long as I have blooms.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Unexpected Day

     Today I woke to blue sky and sunshine. The morning air was warmer as well. A good day in the making. Our original plans were to finish up the detail work on the coop and get started on the run. With a day like today there was going to be great progress. Not so.
     Our neighbors, which we are very blessed to have this particular couple as neighbors, announced that today the huge mass of several years worth of large branches, leaves, wood etc. out on the main farm was going to be burned. Today was the day. So we finished up a little of what we had started on the coop and then grabbed some snacks and jumped in the truck to head up to the Whiskey Creek and our neighbors main farm.
     The burn was started, the dutch ovens were pulled out and we began to cook and visit and watch the debris burn. We had a great time visiting, eating delicious food and being outside. Certainly not what I had expected for the day. No complaints. It was good to take a break and do something unexpected.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big Luke

     Luke is our 100 lb yellow Lab who believes he is only a 20lb small dog. I think he has no clue as to how big he is. Or doesn't picture himself that way. He loves to still "sit" on my lap as he did when he was a puppy. When he comes inside he bumps into the kitchen table chairs and knocks stuff over with his tail that seems to have mind of it's own. He doesn't mean to. It just happens. Luke is our happy dog. He is always happy.
Big Luke
     He is my sons constant companion where ever he goes. Even if it is just to the tree-house in the backyard. Luke is very much our out-doors-man. Eager to follow my husband upstream while fishing or to swim with my son in the river. He loves to fetch sticks especially when it involves jumping after them into the water.
A dog and his boy.

     He is the all around good ol' boy. Always constant, always happy, always there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Meet Angus

     I figured since I spoke of  Angus in my last post I should let you meet him in "person." Angus rises with me in the morning or I guess I should say he gets me up in  the morning. He loves to be with us. Weather it's here at home or for a trip up to the market he thinks it's his right to come along. Most of the time we do bring him along. When he has to stay behind he puts on the biggest mope. He is however the sweetest guy you will ever meet.                
Our Angus
     When he is being a dog (often times he seems almost human) you can find him soaking up the sun in one of the patio chairs or running circles in the yard (our yard is a decent size so he has room enough to get up some speed). The dog is made for running and that is so very clear when he does it. He is fluid motion. The rest of the time he is lounging in the house somewhere-especially in winter. He has very little hair and not an ounce of fat on his body so he has nothing to stave off our very cold Pacific Northwest winters. Which is fine with me. He is very good company.
     I think I will have to introduce you to the rest of our non-human family members as well. I will do that in future posts.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cuppa Joe

An essential start to my morning is a good Cuppa Joe. Without it I just can't get going. I rise before everyone in the house except for our boxer Angus and the cats. The cats want breakfast and Angus needs to go outside and take care of his morning "dooties". Everyone else is asleep. The house is quiet. Just me and my hot Cuppa Joe. I will drink it black but prefer to have cream with it. Taking a sip, feeling it warm my insides and start to run through my veins, getting me started with my day.

When the warmer mornings of spring and summer arrive I move to the back patio to enjoy the smells and sounds of early morning and watch the sun rise over the mountains and rolling fields of wheat. What could be better while enjoying my morning Cuppa Joe?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Busy Weekend

     This weekend brought with it some much needed sunshine and blue skies. We were able to make some good progress on the coop. Not finished with it yet but so much closer. It's all the details now. Finishing off the outside with trim, adding the nesting boxes and roosts, finishing the roof and adding windows and vents. Then there is still the run to complete. We are moving forward.
     There are 2 weeks until we are able to purchase our chicks but they will remain in the brooder for 6 weeks before being moved out to the coop so we still have several weekends to complete the coop without being rushed. We have tossed around the idea of purchasing a few hens that are all ready laying as well to add to our flock. So we can start enjoying some fresh eggs sooner then later.

     The whole weekend was spent working on the coop. Today was very enjoyable.  We had warmer temperatures and no wind. Seeing the coop come to life and move from a drawing on paper to a standing building has been fun to watch. Thanks to the added efforts and expertise of my brother-in-law the coop is nearly complete.
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