A woman’s work is never done…

Ah!  Finally a break in the cold weather.  I was able to get out and help Jason with some brush pile burning.  We have a lot of sticks and small limbs that have been laying around for a couple of months in these lovely piles, and we got to burn them out today.  I was excited that we got to work on the large pile in our (future) goat pen.  It looks oh-so-much better now!

I was lamenting to Jason about how some of the larger limbs needed to be cut up and he said, “Well, the saw (chainsaw) is over there. Have at it.”

Me: “Are you kidding me?  You know I can practically kill myself with a screwdriver!”

Anyhoo, he taught me Chainsaw Basics 101, and in 3 minutes, I was carefully buzzcutting down anything in my path.  My mind kept going back to a Reader’s Digest story that I read about 20 years ago about this unfortunate man that was cutting up some trees (alone) on his property and the saw hit some embedded barbwire, ricocheted back and sliced into his jugular.  So, here he is, bleeding to death and he manages to crawl back to his truck and go find help.  That image kept me very, very aware of what I was doing with that chainsaw!  Anyway, I had a good time learning to cut up things, and cleaning up the place.

I hope that you all had a great Christmas/holiday.  We got in our chicks from Ideal Poultry the day of Christmas Eve.  They are wonderful!  We ordered 12 Silkies, and they added 9 standard breed roosters for heat purposes.  Now I have these big ol’ chicks munching their way through my chick starter.  I am debating selling them now or waiting till later (the rooster chicks, not the Silkies).  After all, what are you going to do with 9 + roosters?  I guess we could eat them; I just am not sure about that yet.  Oh well, I’m enjoying playing with them for now.  Here in a few weeks, I am going to put in an order for some Dorkings and Salmon Favorelles.  They are good dual purpose chickens; meaning, they are good for egg laying and good for eatin’. 

Well, that’s all for now.  I am going to go sit down, rest my bones, and pore over my current issue of Countryside.

To Know her is to Love her

I know, I know, this blog is supposed to be about farm life, but it’s so darn cold lately that I haven’t gotten much else done.  I’ll start with the contraption that my husband made for the fireplace, and we’ll end up with Frannie talk.

So, Jason (Mr. Bob Vila) decided that we needed to upgrade our fireplace cooking, so he made this awesome lil’ contraption that he welded in:

franniedec08-031

This is our 12″ Dutch oven hanging on our nice, new swing-arm doohickey :0)  Also note that it has a little thumbscrew that allows you to raise and lower the hook for temperature control.  As hot as the fire gets, you really never put the pot directly over the fire, but swing it more towards you and trust me: it gets plenty hot!  The other side is not yet completed.  It will have a grill surface that will swing in and out.  I think it’s sweet!  In this pot, Jason made some good thick chili, with cubed round steak, chickpeas, and great northern beans and of course, lots of chili powder and tomato sauce among other things. 

Speaking of cooking, yesterday I spent several hours making some DEEEEElicous tamales.  I found this recipe in Southern Living a couple of years ago and I made them last year and this year.  They are EXCELLENT.  You know how some tamales taste really, really bland?  And how some are just so hot, they aren’t enjoyable?  Well, these have barbeque sauce in the meat filling, and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed!  Here’s the recipe.  Note also that you have to get the recipes for the meat filling and for the cornmeal dough.  I finally figured out how to flatten out the dough while prepping it for filling.  I used the heel and side of my hand and rolled it from left to right really quickly and the dough did not stick all over me and it flattened out and spread very well.  Also, you know that the cornmeal dough is ready to use when you drop a ball of it in a glass of water and it floats.  This means that you have gotten it nice and fluffy (read: full of air, almost whipped, really).  I ate 4 tamales after they came out of the pot, several for supper, about 5 for a late night snack, 3 for breakfast this morning and 5 for lunch.  I’m not kidding!!!  I LOVE these tamales!  Lots of work, but it is so worth it.

Now for the Frannie report: We did get to pick up Frannie at 2:45 last Friday.  She looked so pathetic! Her surgery was not over until about noon, so she did not have very much in house recovery time, although I kept her with me for the rest of the day.  She had a bit of a runny nose, but I didn’t think very much of it.  Saturday, I fed her 6 small meals to try and keep her energy up.  Naturally, after her spay, she wasn’t terribly energetic anyway so she did sleep a lot and when I did go outside, she stayed in her little kennel.  Yesterday she woke up OK and we seemed to be having a pretty good day:

franniedec08-011As you can see, she’s a very, very unique and special little dog!  Everyone fawns over her. Here she is Sunday, playing with her little squeaky squirrel. She was tossing and throwing that little squirrel all over the place and trying to pull its fur out with her teeth. 

franniedec08-007So now you see why I just couldn’t leave her at the shelter! Here she is in a ‘play bow’ position. 

Anyway, then yesterday afternoon, her nasal discharge was growing in volume and by about 3pm, I could tell she didn’t feel good at all.  Very lethargic and didn’t want to eat anymore, where before, she had wolfed down her kibble.  I even soaked some kibble in beef broth and she looked at it like it was poison.  Anyway, I left her crated last night while we went to eat, and by the time I got back, she did eat all of that food. 

Well, this morning I got up and she had an accident (whoops!!!) on our bedspread as in, doggie raisins (!!).  Jason was none too pleased about picking up and squooshing in his bare fingers what he thought was a real raisin.  Lol.  Gross.  Anyway, so I made a vet appointment first thing, because I was worried about the discharge, lethargy, and now she was having some bloody poo’s.  We got there at 2:45pm and anyway it boiled down to that she has an upper respiratory infection, and probably stress-related diarrhea.  No intestinal parasites, I am happy to report. Maybe canine influenza or something along the lines of Bordetella (kennel cough), although thankfully she has NOT began to cough, and I hope she doesn’t.  She’s on Zithromax orally and I am feeding her a really stinky dog food to get her to eat (she wolfed down 1/4 of a can when we got home). 

So there it is.  Say a little prayer for a little brown dog for me, will you?  She’s resting right now by the fireplace and I’m going to go check on her. I wonder what would have happened to her if we hadn’t some along?

Stay warm!

10pm update:

I let Jason take Fran out to potty.  He came back about 1 minute later, tearing through the door, “She’s run off! Hurry!”.  I stepped outside and called her and she immediately came up to the porch, stumpy tail wagging.  Apparently, as it is pitch black out here, Jason lost sight of her when she took off like a racetrack rabbit down the hill.  Anyway, I think that was probably the last time she goes out with him!

Homeward Bound

Well, we didn’t get to bring home Francesca (Frannie) yesterday, as the shelter’s oxygen tank developed a leak and was completely empty yest. morning.  So, the spay has been postponed till today.  Grrr.  I really wanted to bring her home yesterday, but oh well.  Naturally, I did have to go and visit her in ‘jail’, and we put a sweater on her to try it out for size.  I think she gets smaller every time I see her!  She is just a blip in the world of dogs.

I found that the name “Francesca” means “from France”, which, being a dog created in Belgium, isn’t that close enough?  They do share a border after all.

Not too much in ‘farm news’.  Vacation begins officially tomorrow, so we’re sure to be working on outbuildings and the like here.  Also need to get my gardens in.  I’m going a little nutty without being surrounded by my jungle of gardens.  Also, the weather up until Sat. night will be very favorable, although maybe a little damp.  We have a front coming through Sat. PM so instead of the 70s, we’ll be back in the 40s again.  Ugh.  I HATE cold weather!  Jason did install a ceiling fan in the kitchen, which helps tremendously to push that nice hot air down to the ground.  This room where I sit, writing to you all, is sunken and it gets COLD.  I really have GOT to get a big ol’ rug in here.  It gets ridiculous!  That fan does help though. Let’s see, what else?

I am going out to clean my birds now; time to change the paper in the cages.  For those of you who don’t know, I have about 27 birds, ranging from zebra finches up to a large parrot (African grey).  I love them all dearly!  That is my ‘passion’ I suppose you would say, lol.  Sounds like a LOT, doesn’t it?  Well, about 15 of those are the finches, housed together, and the rest, with the exception of a bad mannered budgie and my AG, are housed in pairs and trios.  So, to me, it isn’t a lot!  Lol.  However, I am SO (!!!!!)  looking forward to the construction and completion of my aviary, which Jason thinks will take a couple of days.  If you have ever had pet birds, you know how messy that they can be.  Let’s face it: cleaning up bird poop and seed hulls and feathers sucks!  But, put them in an aviary setting, and the cleaning is so much easier; it doesn’t have to be done daily, other than feeding/watering, and plus it gives them a great psychological benefit.  Birds are meant to be outdoors, and that is certainly what they prefer!  My zebras and my loner diamond dove were all outside for about a year until we moved.  They do GREAT outside.  Now we will be making a split aviary; one side will be diamond doves/finches and the other will be my budgies.  Anyway, I think it will just be awesome!

Ah yes, I forgot to add…my sister called me the other day about promoting someone else’s BBQ tater.  See, she owns a BBQ place (The BBQ Joint) in Aubrey, TX.  Well, let me just say this:  I have never actually had one of her ‘taters, so I can’t say that they have the very best ‘taters.  Wouldn’t that be false advertisement, after all? So, hint hint, Tina, maybe you should bring me down a ‘tater for Christmas (?).  However, I can honestly tell you, dear readers, that they have excellent brisket tacos, and an awesome homemade salsa.  I am sure that the rest of the menu is just as good, but unfortunately, being 3 hours away, I don’t get up there! But, if you happen to be in the North Texas area, ’round Denton or so, do stop by and say hello to Jessie and Christina for me, will you?  You will also notice that they received a 5 star rating on the above link.  So, Merry Christmas, Tina, here’s your sisterly promo just for you!

Frannie…

Well, I went today to go and visit Francesca aka Frannie in ‘doggy jail’, as my daughter puts it. She was very excited to be held and jumped up in my lap, where she laid on her back to be cradled. Just FYI, it’s a good behavioral sign for a dog to not struggle when held with their tummy-side up as it tells you they will have a complacent/non-domineering personality. She lays there like a baby with her feet crossed! Lol.

While I was there I had to walk the Doberman. His name is Ramses, and although he is many pounds underweight, he is a marvelous dog who just needs the right person to train him. I got a big Dobie lick right on my face. I didn’t keep him out long as it was cold and he was underweight.

Anyway, that’s mostly all for today. I have already bought Frannie a sweater, a jacket/harness, a new collar, and a tiny stuffed squirrel toy that my daughter has taken over. Also, a black glittery bowl. Tomorrow’s the big day around here!

In farm news, it’s just too darn cold to worry with much. I did give all of my birds new perches that I cut from our crape myrtle. They have all seemed to really enjoy that.

Love at first sight…

Do you believe in such a thing?

Well, let me tell you about today.  We picked up Ande from school and she asked us if we could stop by the animal shelter on the way home so she could show daddy some puppies that we looked at the other day.  Dad agreed; Mistake #1.

We went and looked at the kittens and rabbits and daddy remarked how we needed a kitty cat around the farm.  The only bad thing about cats for me is that I am allergic to some of them for whatever reason, but anyway.  So, then onto the dog room; Mistake #2. Ande ran to look at the little pups we saw the other day, which look much like a Golden Retriever/Lab/Pyrenees mix and they’re absolutely ADORABLE.  We talked to the dogs on that side of the run when we rounded the corner.  Jason (daddy) said, “My Lord, what is THAT?”; Mistake #3, ’cause it made me look.

Well, standing no more than 7 inches from the floor was the biggest set of eyes I had ever seen in my life; and I do mean big, bulging eyes.  I think I knocked Jason out of the way, squealing, “OH MY GOD!!!” I couldn’t even speak.  There sat the cutest/ugliest dog I had ever seen in my entire LIFE; and I just knew that we weren’t leaving that shelter without adopting that dog.  Jason kept asking, “What IS that? It looks like an alien!” Well, I was too busy blubbering over it since now, 30 seconds later I was cradling the tiny thing in my arms, and it was covering my chin in puppy kisses.

Turns out, our little ‘alien-dog’ is a Brussels Griffon/Petit Brabecon (sp?) mix if not purebred.  If you have never seen one, you are in for a treat. They have a Pug-like face with less wrinkles and a tiny nose that is shoved back into their face with these funny, long legs and adorable floppy sort of ears.  Anyway, after playing with her for several minutes, we signed some papers and we’ll go and pick her up after her spay in a couple of days.  I am estimating that Francesca (oh yes, i had her named in 30 seconds, no lie) is about 5-6 months old as she has most of her adult teeth. Anyway, I will be sure to post pics of her when we get some.

The thing is; I can’t understand why in the world no one would come looking for this kind of dog.  They’re pretty hard to come by!  Then again, you never know about people anyway.  You’d think that a shelter would be the first place people would look for their pet, and it’s been a week today that she has been there.  Well, I’m really looking forward to Thursday.  Funny, Jason and I were just talking about dogs this morning; about the holes that my Mastiff has dug around our house (we have 15 acres, yet he is compelled to dig right beside my foundation), and about how sad it is that some people don’t take very good care of their dogs.

You can be assured that Francesca will be attached at my hip from here on out.  I was just joking about the “mistakes”; I don’t really believe in mistakes, anyway!  I think that there was a reason we went into that shelter today, and saving Francesca was it.  True, no one NEEDS another dog, but maybe Francesca needed us.

Looking forward to Thursday!

BTW, there are some of the cutest little dogs at the Klein Animal Shelter, Jacksonville, TX. Including those little pups I was telling you about, a little SUPER CUTE Rottie mix pup, an adult Brindle Great Dane mix that wants to lay on you, and the most gorgeous Doberman.  Well, the Dobie needs some good food in his tummy, but he is HUGE and will fill out really well and seems to be quite sociable.  Just FYI…

The Chicken Shack

Well, so we’ve been working on our chicken coop for the last two days. I’m trying to make it as predator-proof as I can…I’m trying to bury wire, use concrete blocks and bricks and hardware cloth to keep little buggers out. Hopefully it will be the Fort Knox of the chicken world!

This was a chicken coop at one time, but went into a major state of disrepair. It was covered on top with wire, and the weight of about a million pine needles caused it to collapse in on itself. Plus it didn’t help that the 4×4 posts were untreated and rotted at the ground!. anyway, we had to rip out all of the old chicken wire (I fell about a zillion times all over myself) and then I started reinforcing all of the exterior walls against critters that would love to munch on my future chickens.

I’m sure I made a sight of myself, with my old crappy 7 year old Old Navy sweatshirt, a hot pink doorag, and covered in dirt up to my elbows when I went back into town for something, lol. Oh well!

So yesterday, in the same garb described as above, with the exception that I had on a ‘safety orange’ doorag, we went down to Maydelle, TX and had lunch at a place called Big Bertha’s. If you have never gone, you are in for a treat! Yesterday, we had the all-u-can-eat catfish platter. Comes with homemade hushpuppies, homemade slaw, pintos, tartar sauce. The platter itself is a whole mess of cornmeal crusted, perfectly salty catfish and a huge wad of fries. Let me put it this way; when she sat the platters in front of us, there was so much food on it, my husband just said (out loud), “Oh my God.”. Now THAT’S a lot of food! And let me tell you this, too. The other day we went down there and I got a chicken fried steak. Now, there’s nothing I hate more than one of those crappy chicken fried steak McNugget patties that came from Ben E. Keith or wherever. Our waitress assured me that Bertha (well, I’m assuming that’s who’s doing the cooking) hand breads them herself right then and there. Let me tell you, it was excellent! A REAL honest-to-God tenderized round steak with a perfectly crispy coating, just the way that God intended a CFS to be. It was slathered in cream gravy and I got french fries to go with that. Also, the coffee is free and hot. (you can make a donation in the Coffee Kitty if you so choose) Big Bertha’s is right at the intersection of Farm to Market 2138 and Highway 84 in the heart of Maydelle. Right next door is the Maydelle Store and Ol’ Tom’s Bar-B-Que shack which is also EXCELLENT, and I am picky about the quality of my food. Tom makes briskets, burgers, sausages and perfectly smoked boudin, and the best doggone BBQ tater I have ever had the pleasure of stuffing down my throat. Unfortunately, the taters are only available on Saturdays. Ol’ Tom’s is located in a tiny portable log cabin-like building right next to the Maydelle Store. If you’re like me and you like to ride around the countryside, stop on in for lunch sometime. While you’re at it, take a peek into the Maydelle store and you’ll see a true General store. They have everything from knives to fishing poles to baking powder. I do mean one of EVERYTHING. The only bad thing is that the ‘regulars’ smoke in the store, which I’m allergic to, but I still like to run down there and buy stuff.

Well, there’s my report for today. At least we’re having some decent, though very windy, weather today. Highs in the 70s, although will be disappearing tomorrow!

Saying Goodbye

I found out today that my best friend’s dad passed away.  It was completely unexpected and sudden.  He was a wonderful person, and will be deeply missed. I guess all I really have to say is please remember to tell those you care about how much you love them because you just never know what tomorrow brings.

Fireplace Beans

So I said I’ve been reading Mother Earth News…there’s an article about ‘hearth cooking’ this month.  Essentially, that would be cooking in/beside your very own fireplace.  Apparently it sounded so good to my husband that he got his new 12″ Dutch oven and made a huge pot of beans and sausage.  I have to admit; the end result is AWESOME!  He first started out by putting the DO (dutch oven) on the very lip of the fireplace and pulling up some red hot coals to the side, stirring and turning occasionally.  Then we left for lunch and by then there was nothing left of the fire but hot embers and coals, so we put the DO directly on the firedogs/andirons/whatever they’re called, and that finished it up.

Talk about excellent!  And we didn’t even have to use the propane :0) Plus the wood was free!  I took some photos and I’ll upload them later.  I had never thought about cooking anything in the fireplace other than weinies and marshmallows, but I don’t really know why.  Now my DH has been examining the fireplace, seeing how he could weld in some swinging arms for pots and the like, lol. 

Pintos and Feral hog sausage
Pintos and Feral hog sausage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, here’s to new experiences.

We have arrived…

Well, two months ago, we finally did it.  We were able to move from suburbia to the country, the sticks, the boondocks.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier.  There is room to breathe and to grow!  Imagine that.  I was becoming increasingly paranoid living ‘in town’, especially after we had about $2,000 worth of OUR STUFF stolen from our house.

I don’t have to worry about people eyeballing MY STUFF or neighbors who drop in every time I was in my front yard. (sigh)  Not that I mind company, but you know, for someone who gardens, it can get pretty irritating to have someone want to chitchat every single time I was out in my yard!  I even started gardening after sundown, lol.  I actually drug a worklamp out in my front yard and planted herbs. 

Anyway, I don’t have to worry about that anymore! 

I have been rabidly reading Countryside, Mother Earth News, and the Farmer’s Almanac.  Oh yes, and Backyard Poultry.  I’m really nuts about birds. Seriously.  As a matter of fact, I….er, I mean SANTA, ordered about 20 Silkie chicks today and they should be here on the 23rd of this month.  I’m so pumped!  Last time I had my chickens, it was about 7 years ago.  These will be strictly for pets and eggs, but come spring, I’m going all out with some dual purpose breed; possibly Plymouth Rocks or something of the sort.  Yes, this will mean eggs AND meat.  I’ll have to write about that after we do our first ‘butchering day’.  I have to admit that I am not looking forward to that; however, I also cannot have 15 something roosters running around, and after all, I DO eat chicken.  I’d rather know exactly what my chicken has been eating and what its life has been like. 

Well, that will have to be almost it for tonight.  I’m terribly cold here in the sunken room…you know, there ain’t no cold like ‘country cold’.  It gets a lot colder out here with no houses to act as insulating windbreaks.  Also, we have a heat pump rather than a furnace, so it does run cooler, esp. tonight when the weather is below freezing.  Blech!!!  I’ve got on 2 shirts, my longjohns and pants and 2 pairs of socks, lol.  Thank you GOD that we have a fireplace out here!

Beware...
Beware...

Here’s a new photo I snapped a couple of days ago.  Ever heard the saying, “Red skies at morning, sailors take warning”?  Well, this particular morning, our entire bedroom looked pink and I ran outside to snap a photo, and this is what I got.  I’m kindof a weather buff/nerd.  So, this was taken Monday morning, I believe.  That night a squall line blew through and temps went from the 60s to the 30s.  Today it has sleeted and snowed and has not broke 40 degrees.  Anyway, there must be something to that old adage.

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