We love our technology, but in some ways we are taking the old road.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Flowers

Some flowers in my perennial garden are blooming. Take a look at the lilies my sister-in-law gave me as transplants last fall!

These ones were transplants from a neighbor. I'm not quite sure what they are anymore!

And I planted some parsley seeds in there for good measure, and they're coming up, too.

I never did get annuals planted in my flower garden, but if I just put down more mulch, it will look alright. And it will help keep the weeds down.

Chicken Chores

Our days of intensive chicken-care chores are over. Every morning and every evening we've been spending about 45 minutes feeding, watering, replacing bedding, and letting the chickens out/putting them in/adjusting their windows.

First, we would get their feeders out - no easy task when they flock around your every step and bite you when you reach for their feeders. Then we would clean out the feeders, then fill them.

Then we had to get them back in, which was the craziest time of all. I've told you that we had to fake them out, pretending to set them in one place, then quickly setting them somewhere else so that chickens weren't underneath.

Once they were fed, it was time to clean and fill the waterers. They like to roost on them.

Then, if necessary and if we had enough time, we'd put down fresh hay for bedding.

Boy, I sound like I'm complaining! Really, it was a good experience. We've wanted to have animals, and it was good for the kids. But this was new for us, and I am feeling glad that now there are just a dozen future layers here - they'll be a breeze to take care of.

Today was butchering day. And a friend of mine said not to post pics, but...

I'll just show you our good set-up, nothing gory.

A plucker is an awesome thing. I wouldn't want to butcher chickens without one. Ours, so luckily, is borrowed from a relative. If you get your water to dip the dead chickens into to just the right temperature, most of the feathers come off with the plucker. It also pays to have a heater going outside for the water. We had a turkey fryer base (again borrowed) powered by a 30-pound propane tank, topped with a stock pot of water. We also had a hand-held propane torch for singeing off the pin feathers. These optional things make butchering much easier.

But it was still an all-day job for 4 adults and 3 children, with an additional adult later in the day. We're so tired. But I'm proud of my kids toughing it out; I was so squeamish as a kid that I'd hide in the house and just heat the water. Mine were a little troubled ahead of time, but they were fine with it when it was happening. And they did their parts of the labor, for the most part.

And now we have a freezer full of chickens.

They aren't all ours - we're just storing some of them for right now. But we've almost 2 dozen chickens for ourselves to eat throughout the coming year.

Will it be worth it in the end? I don't yet know how the costs came out. But it is nice to know how your meat was raised.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flowers for the Porch

I finally got matching hanging baskets for my front porch (well, I did the best I could as far as the size). I don't know why I was so slow to get around to it this year. Being able to hang two baskets of flowers on a porch is one of the biggest treats of living in this house. I've admired that kind of thing for years and finally got it when we moved in last spring and my husband put up hooks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chicken Progress

They're getting bigger!

Our Cornish crosses are getting pretty big. We've been rationing their feed for a while, but they grow so rapidly. We'll be ready to butcher the roosters pretty soon.

Oh, and the rationing. It makes them crazy. Chickens that are bred for being meat birds will eat until they get too fat and die. Some of ours have apparently already died of heart attacks; they were fine one moment, then keeled over the next. It happens to these kinds of chickens. So we ration their feed to slow their growth a bit. But then they're so hungry from being on a diet that they mob us when we go in at feeding time. I've taken to wearing pants and gloves, because they'll bite me when I go to grab the feeders or set down full ones. We have to fake them out when we set the full feeders down, too, because they'll run into a big group underneath where we go to set the feeders. So I lean one way with it, then when they all rush there, I quickly set it down somewhere else. These chickens have had all the sense bred out of them.

The Barred Rocks, on the other hand, have much better instincts.

They're more interested in going outside than the others, although most of both kinds have come around to the idea. They all were chicken about going outside in our new run at first. (Ha, ha, but I suppose that kind of thing gave rise to the expression.) Now the Barred Rocks tend to hurry out first, and they really like to graze and forage. But some of the others do, too. And the kids like to feed them pieces of alfalfa and grass.

Do you see the black chicken that's lighter than the others? We ended up with a rooster among the layers. That must happen fairly often, because my parents ended up with one among their Orpington layers last year, too. What's funny is that this rooster is the nicest chicken in the bunch. Now, he's pretty much a baby still, because the barred rocks are more natural and they grow more slowly. He could still get mean and aggressive. But so far he's friendly; he comes near us and lets us pet him and pick him up. The hens are very skittish.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Last night we made s'mores over a fire. The weather was perfect yesterday - heaven on earth. My husband and the kids got all kinds of work done while I was at work. We did a little more after supper. Then we decided to have some fun, since the kids had worked so hard and so willingly. So we made a fire in our backyard. Usually we wait until the sun goes down, but we decided not to this time. It is easier to see what you're doing with the food when it isn't dark!

I had finally gotten some Campfire marshmallows and Hershey bars, both of which I feel comfortable feeding to my peanut-allergic daughter. So we had a great treat. And we only got bit by mosquitoes a few times. Those have finally hatched since we had some rain.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thing 33: Travel 2.0

I took a look at the various travel sites and blogs on Thing 33 of More Things on a Stick (a statewide library project I'm working on, for those of you new to looking at my blog). I think the review sites are useful to know about in the library, because we do have patrons who come in to plan their travel. I've searched for hotel information with multiple patrons, along with some other tourist information. It will be useful to be able to tell them that there are websites where we could look for reviews of the hotels or the places they're thinking of visiting.

Two that I thought looked helpful were TripAdvisor and TravelPost.com . I tried a couple of searches and found reasonable results. If you're the kind of person who likes to look at product reviews on Amazon and other shopping sites, this is the kind of thing you'd probably like to find on hotels and such.

My Kugelhopf is a gorgeous travel blog - but very slow to load, so slower connections probably wouldn't find it worth it.

Hotspotr could be a useful way to find free Wi-Fi for when you're traveling, and FastFoodMaps.com would be very useful to our family if we could access it from a Blackberry while driving. Our options for eating on the road are limited because of a food allergy, and when it's suppertime and we haven't found a familiar chain for a while, it would be great to know how to find the nearest Wendy's or Taco Bell.

And there, folks, is my tenth Thing on a Stick! I had intended to do all 23 by the original May deadline, but there was so, so much to read and do. I was relieved when they said we could just do 10 and still get the basic completion prize. And then they extended the deadline to June 20th. I must not have been the only one who was overwhelmed when working on this. I'd still like to work on the others at my leisure, because I find Web/Library 2.0 to be really interesting as well as important when working as an information (para)professional.

In any case, I'm happy to have my commitment fulfilled!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Keeping Trees Alive

The bare-root fruit trees we planted have lived. Not everything we ordered and planted has lived, but the trees have. They all have leaves, and some even flowered.

We're pinching off flowers and fruit when we see them, though, because it's best not to let them grow fruit when they're just getting established.

It's been so dry here that we have to water all the time. We just keep moving the hose from tree to tree every day that we're home. It has been a challenging spring for starting bare-root trees!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

1000 Visits

Thank you, blog visitors! This blog has now reached 1000 visits. Now, how many of those were me....

I also have 5 subscribers and 1 follower. It is fun to think that there are people who actually look at what I put up. I'm sorry I've been too busy to put much on here lately. School will be out soon, and I'm hoping that will free me up a bit.