Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Christmas Present to ME

I've been wanting a soup tureen to match my Johnson Brother's Friendly Village dishes. I have an automatic search set up on Ebay to notify me when new ones go up for auction, but the auctions always went up beyond what I was willing to pay, especially since it's not a necessity, and how often will I really use it anyway??

So, during the Christmas holidays I bid on one that was pretty reasonable and I won it - for $35!! New and unused in perfect condition!

I also bid on a demitasse cup and saucer set (for Rylan) which I didn't win.

I have been looking for Cream Soup bowls, which are hard to find outside of the UK. The biggest problem is that I want to get them for a really good price. I also want a pitcher and a butter dish. Not the modern style butter dish but the Round one - again expensive and rare...

Part of the fun of collecting is finding the really old pieces in good condition and for a really good price. I've really had fun building my collection.
You can see other pieces I've collected in this picture. I hunted far and wide to find this Welsh Cupboard (found it on Craigslist). The classic English fretwork on top matches my kitchen cabinets. If I EVER get the drawer pulls on the drawers in the kitchen I'll post pics of it....

Sweet Journey

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Little Journey finally arrived, at 10:25 on Wednesday, December 9, 2009. Here are a few pictures of her getting ready to leave the hospital to go home.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Waiting on Journey

Stephanie went into the hospital Sunday at noon. After an afternoon & night of various medications, she was dilated to almost 2 cm. She had a cough when she went in which kept getting worse, so the nurse did a flu test, which came back positive. The dr. decided to wait on the induction until she was feeling better (100 degree fever and labor - bad combination). She is still in the hospital, the dr. wants to keep her and watch her until tomorrow. If she is not dilated any further she will go home to rest and go back to the hospital Thursday or Friday. If she is dilated to 3 cm the dr. will reevaluate what to do...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Feels like Autumn in Texas is What Summer is Like Everywhere Else in the US

Today when I got up I went out on the back porch to have coffee and the temperature was 68 degrees! I can't remember the last time it was that cool! The high was around 90, which isn't TOO bad, considering we just went through a horrible drought and heat wave, where the lows were around 85.
I got quite a bit planted in the garden today: spinach, beets, swiss chard, carrots, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, sugar pie pumpkin, and sugar beets.

I am hoping that we won't get an early frost and I'll be able to harvest the winter squash I planted today. I'm going to plant more butternut squash tomorrow. They grow like weeds. I have a laundry basket full of butternut squash already and more to pick tomorrow. I am going to make muffins out of some tomorrow. With the abundance of the all the squash I am going to try some new recipes. Maybe I'm going overboard with the butternut squash but I refush to buy any high priced store squash again! The last time I went to buy one at the store it rang up $4.50. I told the clerk to take it off - I'm not paying $4.50 for ONE squash!!! It wasn't even organic! So that weekend I planted the first butternut squash and they've done great.

I have some acorn squash "making" right now. The variety is Honey Bear and they're a miniature "personal" size. I think they will be perfect for two servings.

So, sugar beets you may be wondering. I have had this weird fascination with sugar beets, so I finally found a source for seed. Supposedly they grow to be huge and we can cut them up and feed them to whatever animals we have.

Here are some garden pics:

This is the new field that Marc worked up a month or so ago. You can see eggplant on the left. These rows are 100' long. On the right is a row of French cantaloupe. I have never tried them and can't wait. Supposedly it's the best melon you can grow. The seeds were quite expensive, so I started them in seed trays so I wouldn't waste any of them. The cantaloupe we grew over the summer were very good - SO different from store-bought melons! The butternut squash over-ran the melons so I missed a few and they got overripe, but Pig-Pig LOVED them. He even ate the rinds.

Fall tomatoes. Our timing on our spring crop was way off, so I am hopeful that we'll get a nice fall crop. We have a LOT of them. I've lost track of exactly how many. Note the plastic. Mulch is the only way to go. We just can't stay ahead of the weeds without it. Marc put down irrigation first which has really made it easy to keep everything watered.

This is my Earthway Seeder. I got it from Johnny's Seeds with a gift certificate from Stephanie. It has "plates" sized for different seeds. You pour your seeds in the hopper and start walking. Talk about a back saver!! It drops the seeds at perfect intervals and covers and tamps down the dirt too.

We live about 125 miles from the coast and yet our pond has had a flock of whooping cranes on it for the past week. We could drive back and forth over the dam and they stayed in the pond, but flew off if we walked along it. They probably got every catfish in the pond. Yesterday Marc snapped a few pics of the birds (I really want a telephoto lens!!) and today they're gone.

As we drove by the pond today we saw yet another water bird. It was pink like a flamingo, but had a spoon shaped bill. Marc says it's a Spoonbill. We saw them at Freeport. I need to get a bird watchers book for Texas.

Our bell pepper plants are still going strong even after the drought. We have gallons stored in the freezer. This picture shows just one picking!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Apparently blogging isn't one of my strong points...

Jeannie just pointed out that I haven't updated my blog in about 6 weeks... OK, here's the quick update.

July 15th I had a hysterectomy and I've been off work since that time recuperating. Meanwhile, Stephanie and Frank and Liz and Rylan had vacations planned to come and visit. Since their tickets were bought and paid for, they came for a visit anyway. Liz, Caroline and Rylan stayed in the camper and Stephanie and Frank in the loft. Liz and Rylan stayed 6 days. Stephanie and Frank's visit was to last 3 weeks. Caroline took off 3 weeks to spend time visiting with everyone.

Rylan absolutely LOVED helping "PA" with the farm chores! She got to drive the tractor, collect eggs, feed the chickens, ducks and the pig!

Stephanie and Frank's vacation was to end August 19, but due to complications with her pregnancy, she is staying here and Frank will be returning Sept. 30. Several friends and family gave Stephanie and Frank a baby shower and I'll post pictures of that soon.......
I've really been enjoying being at home. I don't know HOW I will be able to go back to work - how can I take a nap??? I have been sewing during my "convalescence" and have enjoyed that. I think now I need an embroidery machine! Stephanie and I have been thinking of all the things that we could embroider for the baby!
Stephanie decided she would learn to sew while Frank was in Qatar and is making diapers. We'll post pics of that project when complete!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Which came first - the chicken or the egg?? The chickens, by about 4-1/2 months

Exciting things going on here at the farm - we had our first eggs today!!! And what did I do with the first one?? Throw it at the rooster who tried to charge me of course.

I have been saying for days that surely we'd find an egg any day now and we should get the nests up. If you know anything about me/us, then you know that hasn't been done. I do tend to procrastinate....

The ducks are scared of everything, including the chickens so they tend to steer clear of them, never going near the chicken hut until most have gone in to roost. The last couple of days we've noticed the ducks going into the chicken hut. This evening I saw a duck sitting down in the dirt near the door, not near any other ducks and wondered what in the world it was doing there. Later I got my rubber boots on and went to investigate. Lo and behold - an egg. My first thought was that it was a chicken egg but this one was white and it should have been brown - what's that all about??? Dumb me - it took me a while to put two and two together and figure out that the duck I'd seen squatting there had laid the egg. I've never had a duck egg before so I was looking for something huge. It's a little longer than a chicken egg, but otherwise looks the same and the innards look the same too. I'm sure they'll get way bigger over time.

We found one tee-tiny pullet egg, nice and brown with a dark orange yolk. I swear it was like 1-1/2 inches! We had four duck eggs, one of which was a double-yolk. Pig-pig got them all because they were all laid in the mud & muck and not in nice clean nests.....

So guess who's putting in nests this weekend?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Garden Update - June

The garden is doing great. It's 50'x100' and all of it is planted. The squash are "volunteers" that sprouted from some squash that I just left in the garden to rot last summer when we were trying to finish up the house to get moved in. Marc transplanted them and they are huge and producing tons of squash! I am freezing it and taking plenty to work and giving it away. Tonight we'll be having stuffed squash - there were a couple that I let get just a TAD too big...
I've never had such success with green peppers before. The ones pictured are as large as store-bought (chemically fertilized) but these are organic. I guess it's the mushroom compost that is doing it. I used a bunch of these peppers in relish and froze some (halves & diced) and there's more on the plants to be harvested. Dana suggested halving them and freezing to be used for stuffed peppers later. I love convenience foods...
You can see the cucumbers to the left of the peppers, they are long and straight (Marketmore variety) and really nice for dill spears. I made 7 quarts of dill pickles (both spears and hamburger dill slices) and 7 pints of relish this weekend. The relish tastes just like Dell-Dixie brand, a little sweet, just like I like it. The recipe came from the Ball Canning book and it's just called "Cucumber Relish" but contains bell peppers and onions, all of which came from our garden.

Here's a pic of the poultry pen around 8 p.m. before the chickens have gone in to roost. The moon is just coming up and looks pretty cool.

Here's a shot of the house with the moon coming up. It's about 8:30 here. You can see that we don't have a fence or landscaping yet.... maybe someday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring in the Country

The bluebonnets seem more vibrant, almost purple this year, and there are so many on our place. The fields nearby seem to be filled with them.

Patches enjoys the screen porch.

I really enjoy hanging out laundry on nice weekends, maybe because it's so low-tech, not to mention free. I love the way sheets smell and feel after being dried in the breeze.

We've been working in the garden. We've planted lettuce, spinach, onions, eggplant, squash, peppers (bell, jalapeno and cayenne), potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers... and more yet to plant.

Duck Update

The ducks were taking turns getting in the water bucket trying to swim around so Marc put a small cat little box bottom in the pen. Here they are taking turns getting in the water.
We put a bucket in the pen for extra drinking water but they kept getting in the bucket so we got a small kiddie pool It took them a better part of the day to get over their fear of the new pool. In this pic if you click on it to enlarge, you can see one duck in the bucket - it looks like an easter basket. They are amusing, but smelly loud things. I had no idea ducks traveled in a pack and are scared of everything. One squawks and the others join in and then they start running. It's hilarious. We feed & water them one or two times a day and yet they are scared to death of us. We got more electric fencing so they can wander around during the day eating grass & bugs without coming into contact with the fence - unless they decide to nibble on it. This morning before leaving for work a cow bellowed and it scared the ducks and they RAN into their house. It was so funny.

The chickens are much friendlier and definitely calmer. Pics of them coming soon...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pig in a Poke (or Hogzilla Jr)

We've had a lot of wild hogs on our place lately. They root around and create ruts. Last year the man who cuts hay for us broke something on his tractor when he ran through some ruts. We set out a trap but didn't have any luck for several weeks. The pigs like the roots much better than the corn in the trap. I was getting nervous cause there was fresh rooting around the garden fence a couple of nights ago. I sure didn't want to lose all the potato plants. The picture above shows how destructive the hogs are.
The first hog I ever saw on the place, and which turned out to be a regular, had a something wrong with his foot which caused him to limp when he ran. We nicknamed him Gimp. We saw him several times but were unable to catch him until a couple of nights ago.

The tusks are really large and nasty looking. He tried really hard to get out of the trap. He snapped off one of his teeth trying to chew his way out. His hair is standing straight up. He's trying to "charge" Marc.

And here he is after a bullet between the eyes. We called around trying to find anyone who wanted the meat, but no one wants an old male hog including us.


So what do you do with a 130 pound dead hog no one wants to eat? You let nature take its course. Lovely pic here with Marc dragging the hog with bluebonnets in the foreground....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Chicks & Ducklings have arrived!

Our first chicks & ducklings have arrived! We have 25 Buff Orpington chicks (straight run - hopefully we'll have more hens than roosters - and 20 White Pekin ducks. It looks like a couple of the ducks may be "crested" - a few of them have what looks like little cotton-ball caps on their heads. The ducks scamper around constantly - eating, drinking, and running. They are really amusing to watch. The chicks are happier sleeping most of the time. We've had them for 3 days and no casualties ... yet....

The ducks are so cute, we have to keep reminding ourselves that most of them will end up on a dinner plate in a couple of months.

Sausage Making

A couple of weekends ago we went out to Manuel Lebeck's place where he and Roy & Josh Wisnoski were making sausage out of deer meat and wild hog (not sure where that came from). Anyway, you could do just about anything in that shop - weld, work on your tractor, sit by a blazing fire, or do any kind of food preparation in the fully outfitted meat processing kitchen. I got there too late to take pics of the grinding and stuffing process. But I do have a couple of pics of the 300 pounds of sausage hanging in the smoke house.

That's Manuel on the left and Josh on the right. Manuel fired up the grill and cooked us a link and it was really good. Since then we've had the smoked version and it's good too. The other pic shows the "men folk" in the shop.