Saturday, November 27, 2010

Downsizing PHASE II or When the heck did we get all this stuff?

Phase I was moving into the smaller house.
Phase II involved several long talks with my husband and  three type written pages of lists.

List one: Things that can go now.

List two: Things to give to my son and his family.

List three: Things to give to my daughter and her family.

List four: Things that we will need to sell later - still using them or just not ready to part with stuff. You know we might need it. This will be Phase III

After all the list making was completed and carefully reviewed and cussed and discussed I spent several hours posting the things we either don't need, don't use or just can't see how we will ever be able to fit it into an apartment when Brian gets into Vet School - the things on list one.

Then I spent the better part of today answering emails and returning phone calls and answering the door.

Gotta love Craig's List. :^)

Most of our horse stuff is gone. The compressor and tools are gone.
I'd list everything that's still here but I'm tired of typing. So if you're curious go to and pull up Bloomington, Indiana. Look under Farm and Garden, Tools and Arts & Crafts. You'll know the stuff is ours because we are the only people who list Bean Blossom as our location. LOL

Maybe you'll find a treasure!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reusable canning jar lids

My son and I were talking the other day about how nice it would be if you could reuse canning jar lids instead of throwing them away. Today he presented me with a website for a company that offers reusable canning jar lids. I think it's such a great idea I'm going to share it here:
According to the company website TATTLER reusable canning jar lids contain no BPA. They are safe for pressure canning, water bath, and vacuum sealing.

"Tattler Canning Lid's proven success, as a reusable product, has earned them the distinction of widespread customer satisfaction and acceptance since their origination in 1976. The years of development of this product have brought to the home canner a jar lid that is truly reusable. In fact, the longevity of TATTLER Canning Lids presents the likelihood they will be handed down to the next generation of food preservation enthusiasts!"
"Properly used, with any standard Mason jar and metal screw band, these reusable lids will last a lifetime. If you ever wear this lid out, we will replace it free! Follow standard directions and procedures, for two piece canning jar lids, with any normal home canning process, and obtain excellent results."
A package of 3 dozen regular mouth lids and rubber rings costs $20.95 from their online store. Replacement rubber rings cost $2.50/dozen.
They also offer bulk packages in 500, 1500 or 2500 lids each

I'm looking forward to trying them with my next canning project!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Talkin' Turkey

We have two whole pasture raised turkeys in the freezer waiting for their big day. Brian wants to deep fry one. I confess that much hot oil over an open flame scares me. He says "Just don't look."

The second bird will be prepared by my daughter - in the oven. I'm sure she will put some new twist on the traditional bird. And I'm equally sure it will be delicious.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Buckeye Update

Buckeye hens- notice the rose comb?

When we decided to transition over to a sustainable flock of Buckeye chickens we looked at our current poultry system and found it lacking. Rare breed birds are farely costly and well.... rare. We love the concept of free range chickens, but there is a  large population of hawks on our farm. The hawks think that mobile chicken pens are like kitchen cabinets or the refrigerator in your kitchen - it's where you store your food until you're ready to eat it. So this year when we ordered Buckeye chicks and hatching eggs, we made the decision to renovate our first hog shed into a chicken coop.  So we gutted the hog shed. Cleaned it all out. The building has three separate sections. One we finished for my mom's Auracauna chickens - Green legs the rooster and his party colored harem girls. The other side is for the Buckeyes. The third section is yet unfinished. I'm planning to close in 2 sides and add chicken wire to the third this spring for the chicks we hope to hatch in our incubator.
We did all these improvements to the building so we decided we would put what we know about feeders and waterers together to automate the chicken chores as much as possible. We invested in 2 oil catch pans - the plastic one you use to catch the nasty old oil out of your truck when you change the oil and 6 bolts with washers and nuts. We already had a couple of lidded plastic buckets. Brian's little zip roater made fast work of cutting out holes along the bottom edge of the bucket sides for the feed to flow out. Then a few holes drilled in the bottom for the bolts, slap on the pans, tighten down the nuts and VOILA!  A chicken feeder that will hold enough feed for about 4 or five days for full grown birds... much longer for chicks. So after successfully engineering feeders we turned our efforts to self-waterers. All the waterers commercially available were expensive and too small to really reduce workload much. So once again we took our experience with cattle, sheep, goats, horses, pigs and various watering setups and  put it all together.

Closeup of the spigots on the holding barrel.

We have been using 55 gallon plastic barrels as water reservoirs for our hog waterers for years and we had a barrel that wasn't in use. Brian added two taps and set it up on a sturdy stand about 30 inches from the ground. Two sections of hose and gravity carry the water from the barrel to the water cups. We had those laying around too. They were left over from our short experiment with goat keeping. The drinking cups work with a float shut off and are just the right size so several birds can drink at once. We just mounted them to the side of the new coop with a couple of screws. Of course in the winter the watering system will need to be drained. We'll be using rubber pans during the winter so we can empty out the ice daily. For now we water about once a month.

Hens coming up to the drinking fountain.

 We moved the chicks into the coop as soon as they were ready to come out of the brooder. Three dozen or so fuzzy Buckeye chicks and about the same number of Auracaunas with a few wing feathers looked pretty small in all that space.
Now they are full grown and magnificent. The buckeyes are some of the handsomest birds I have ever raised. The hens are lovely dark russet red and the roosters with their iridescent green/black tail feathers are striking. The hens should start to lay nice brown eggs next month.  Then in the spring we'll start hatching chicks. I love spring!

My friend Donna is writing her second great American novel this month during NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Since I can't go anywhere I thought I'd start my great American novel and I did.... then I got sidetracked.
My son and his family are moving to a homestead in Kentucky close to Emily's parents and my SIL has been bitten by the Red Wattle Bug. No not hog lice!  Ewwww!
He loves the Red Wattle pork and wants to raise his own.

So now I am writing Everything I know about farming or What not to do cause it don't work... believe me I tried it!

I hope to have it done by Christmas so I can tuck it into their stockings.

My Anchor

On October 29 I had knee and foot surgery. Then spent 10 days in a leg splint whining on the couch. Now I have a "Barney" purple cast to anchor me down so I don't overdo things. The crutches are interesting too. We have an old house with narrow doors, odd heighths on the steps to get out to the sunroom and a narrow open staircase to basement. I'm not even going to attempt the basement steps until I'm walking without the crutches. I'm getting pretty good at going sideways through doorways and balancing down the 2 steps from the kitchen to the sunroom though!
The cast is supposed to come off on December 1. Then a walking boot and physical therapy. 
All I've gotta say is I wanna go to the barn!!

Piggy"s Night at the Library

Last year for Christmas I made all my grandkids soft, stuffed Red Wattle pigs. This year on Halloween weekend Taylor's pig went to a stuffed animal slumber party at the library. The kids all dropped off their stuffed animals on Friday evening and then came back on Saturday morning to pick up their animals, a treat and pictures of what their animals were up to during the night.

This is Red Wattle Piggy listening the Charlotte's Webb on tape. I love it!
Taylor's daddy said it would have been funny if Piggy was reading a pork cookbook!

I wonder what else he was up to all night?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

National Small Farm Conference and Trade Show/RWHA Annual Meeting

After spending half the day pulling together reports, printing cards and brochures, hauling piglets to the vet, filling out health papers and generally dashing about madly, Brian & Kacie headed out for Missouri. Ok so all the dashing about madly was done by Brian and Kacie. It's hard to dash about madly in a splint with an ace wrap up to your thigh and crutches. I was limited to organizing the paperwork and supervising.
I had really been looking forward to the conference and our annual RWHA meeting. It's one of the few times during the year that so many alternative/heritage breed farmers gather in one place. And the RWHA annual meeting is the one big RWHA gathering for the year.  Not for me this year. I just couldn't see myself hopping around the exhibition hall when just bumbling out to the bathroom exhausts me.
So here I sit snuggled up on the couch with the laptop for company, my son and his little family sleeping in the next room because I can't be left alone in case I should fall or worse yet - not be able to carry food from the kitchen to my little nest on the couch. Contrary to popular opinion, I think I could live on the bowl of apples on the end table for 3 days quite nicely and I've learned to hang my lidded travel mug from the hand grip on my crutches.
It could be worse, I suppose, but I do miss being outside and taking care of the animals.
Oh well. Hopefully, Kacie will take lots of pictures and Brian will remember to turn on the recorder for the meeting. I'll just have to wait and see.