Wednesday, June 25, 2008

One life ends and a new life begins

One Monday our layers laid their first egg, it was an exciting moment. I had estimated that they would start laying mid June so they were not too far off.
John hurried up and made some nesting boxes and today we had 3 eggs. I was questioning if I might have a little OCD, I checked their boxes 4 times today and would have done it more but my not so manic side was telling me to get a grip.

We have boxes on both sides of their little house.

Last night John slaughtered 9 of the 24 meat birds. It took him 2 hours and saved us about $30.
The kids watched him do a couple of the birds and they were ok with it. I was impressed! I think it is important that they know where the food they are eating is coming from. Those birds had good lives in the fresh air, grazing on green grass with an endless supply of fresh water and feed with shelter to protect them from the weather. A life nothing like that of a store bought chicken.

Not only at home do I see the cycle of life ending and new beginnings but at work. In the ER we try to avoid seeing life begin by catching a quick elevator up to OB with the laboring Momma but times of death are not an uncommon event. The last shift I worked my day began by helping another nurse do PM (post-mortem) care and then put this middle-aged individual into that infamous white bag. Every time I have to do this I always say out loud or to myself, isn't this sad how we all end, in the hands of people that don't know you, do not know your story in life, and then into that damn white bag and off to some cold room, then for a ride in a long black car to be prepped for display, then into the ground.
Just doesn't seem right! I'm thinking I'd like to be towed off like Grampa did in the movie "Little Miss Sunshine". Bust me out of the hospital and place me in the back of the van, bring me to be cremated and then bring me right back to the farm and stash my remains below a garden in my memory.
Sound good, I think so. I hope it is not for a while though because I have way too much to do, hee, hee. I will not be in blog world until next week we are packing and headed up North camping. Have a great weekend all!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Fun!

Preparing for a messy adventure.

The final product!

I sure am glad we have a shed to do make a mess in.
We all had fun dying anything we could find that was white.

We had 6, blue, black, green, yellow, and purple.

We colored 10 t-shirts (I had bought for the kids to split)
7 recycled shirts
1 pr socks
1 pr of shorts
and 2 white blankets
We used up 100% of the color and we had a great time doing it!

A few quick updates:


Level 1 trauma chickens are recuperating. They are eating, drinking and getting about good. Just hoping infection does not set in. John thought the barred rock may have been a little warm. Anyone know what the normal temp is for a chicken? If that is the case we will have to treat her with some antibiotics.
John clipped a bunch of the chickens wings to prevent them from flying over the 4 ft fencing.

Naughty dog fell off the front of the boat as it was idling , she went right under the boat. She was out with John and the kids fishing. She was attempting to bite the water and lost her balance. No injuries sustained.

Cornish Rocks are going in the freezer this week. Not sure yet if we will be doing it or not. If we can find someone on last minute notice we will bring them in, if not we may just harvest them ourselves.

Sick Partrige, one with the eye infection is cured and no longer in quarantine.

Goats think their Houdini. Trimmed their hooves. Need to take some more pictures, they are getting big. I have been researching some Goat Soap recipes, it is going to be a while but it doesn't hurt to plan ahead.


Planted celery, more corn & cukes, and mulched around plants. Lost some pepper plants. John worked in it more than me!
Made another batch of Rhubarb crisp. I used 3 different recipes and I like the last one I made the best. I am thinking about freezing some Rhubarb. Anyone have good luck with that?
Lastly, I posted a good recipe on our group exercise blog
for Almond-Cherry Energy Bars if anyone is interested.

Pool is going up July 4th, yeah!!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

She's up to no good again!

Today was a crazy day in the ER. I worked out in triage for 12 hours. That is a long time sitting in a small room listening to patients ailments one after another. John called me in the midst of madness and this was our conversation.

John: Hi, where is the thread and needle?
Kim: I don't know, I'll have to call you back.
John: Ok, call me right back!
Kim: I will, bye!

15 minutes later...the phone rings in triage and I see it his him again so I pick up.

K: Hello
J: Where did you put the needle and thread, I saw you with it last!
K: I cannot remember, what needs to be sewn so urgently?
J: Callie (aka naughty dog) got a hold of two chickens and I can see the trachea on one, it's pretty bad.
K: Maybe you should take them out back and.....
J: I think I can save them!
K: I'll help you fix them when I get home, I'll call you back I am still with patients.
J: Sorry!

I apologized to the Mom & son I was with and they were looking at me funny so I briefly told them the scenario, although feeling badly about the injuries they were quite amused by our conversation.

John called my cell as I was leaving work to let me know that he had already sutured the chickens filleted necks. He said they just laid there and let him do it with needle and thread and then he applied neosporin.

What to do with the pesky dog that is always causing problems? As the picture above the hens have been jumping on there box them flying over for a brief escape from the pen. They've been doing this for a while now and she has never bothered a one.

John told me he'd kill me if I posted this picture but you have to have some fun and I thought it would be appropriate to post with this story. He not only sews up lacerated chicken necks but he can really sew. I am not very good, I have a sewing machine but my buddy Mary has borrowed it for the last 10 years or so. Anyway, I bought a Gap bag at a lawnsale and it had a small rip and handy dandy John sewed it up for me. Quite the man, ain't he! :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Anyone else feeling exhausted from the endless hours on their homesteads? It seems like on our "days off" we hit the ground running in the morning and it not uncommon to be up washing my floors at midnight. Lately John and I have been overwhelmed with the endless tasks that are on our to do lists....put the pool up (when we ever have a day off together), constant maintenance of the gardens & critters, major construction to stabilize our barn, build a goat pen in the barn for the goats, nesting boxes, broilers to slaughter, endless mowing, cords and cords of wood to haul off the back forty, split, and stack, painting, trim work...must I go on. And did I mention we are going away on a camping trip next weekend. Maybe I can catch up on some reading by the campfire. I look forward to our trip but I dread packing and unpacking.
That's enough whining for now must get a good nights rest for another looooong day in the ER!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chicken Tractors

I was headed outside with rake in hand and she flew onto my hand.

Have you ever heard of a chicken tractor? All of our outdoor chicken pens are on wheels except the meat birds. Every 2-3 days we move them so the chickens have clean bedding, fresh greens to eat, very little odor or flies, and some super fertilizer for the lawn. Our meat birds have lightweight fencing & posts with a lean-to for shade and weather protection. We move that every couple day as well. It is a great system that saves us time and money and the birds seem to be content with it too.

Another beautiful site I can thank Mrs. Achorn for.

Our buddy Shawn moving our sand around for the pool

P.S A few posts back....that was Callie vs. Groundhog!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Father's Day and a little of this & that

Better late than not at has been busy and it has been difficult to sit down and blog...I have some catching up to do reading other's blog as well!
Happy belated Father's Day to all including my Dear old Dad up North and John's Dad who is soon to be 81 and of course to John! The kids gave him some homemade goodies along with some much needed muck boots, work gloves, and a couple garden tools. He was very pleased! John is a great Daddy to Luke & Leah. He is been very involved in their care since day one. We are very fortunate to have him. He is an awesome role model for the kids and he does a lot of fun stuff with them that most children will only dream of. Since they were young he always reminded me that it was the simple things that the kids enjoyed most such as taking them fishing, for a 4 wheeler ride, frogging, nature walks, and he is so right!
Your a keeper Babe!

*Last week we had to lay down our eldest cat, Garth. We estimate he was around 16 years old. I came home with him from the Veterinarian's office about 14 years ago. He was a stray and they had rescued and spayed. He was a great cat weighing in at 17 lbs in his healthier days. He was very affectionate and tolerant of the kiddos. We buried him right next to Mags, they were pals!
*We had to quarantine one of the partridge. John found him with both eyes filled with goo (medical term, hee, hee) and some damage to one side of his head. John thinks he/she?? may have got it's head caught in the wires. We washed his eyes up a couple times with warm water and applied some antibiotic ointment...we will see what happens.
*Bob the rooster can officially crow now and I caught him doing the naughty a few times with one on the other RI Reds. Man he is rough! Then I noticed one of the hens heads was scabbed over and bleeding. Luke wrestled her up and I did wound care on her applying some neosporin to her head gash. I put her in with the younger barred rocks. Not sure if that was the right move but they seemed more scared of her than anything so I doubt they'll be picking on her.

In the kitchen
*I have made a couple batches of rhubarb crisp and thinking about making some strawberry rhubarb pie. Any suggestion on what else I could do with it?
* I finally started a compost pile, John had been resisting for quite some time for fear of attracting rodents but I just finally did it. We easily fill up my container 1-2 times per day with egg shells, coffee grounds, and veggie/fruit scrapings. I never realized how much we threw away.
* We been eating lots of salads with garden lettuce and tomatoes and I've been buying the other fixings at local farm stand. I have also been buying a lot of my groceries at a local super market doing less business with Wolly World etc..that is exciting!

On the land
*We have the sand on the pool site and it is just about level. We have had a good amount of rain so it is getting packed down, not sure if we still need to rent a compacter? Now we just need a day when we are both off to put it up, that puts us into July, so sad!
* We have been in the garden endlessly. Today we planted more corn and the rest of the tomatoes. I rote tilled and John weeded and mulched the vine patch. Last year we rented a brush hog and after the field was hayed we gathered up several trailer full of hay with a pitch fork and threw it all into one pile. The pile was starting to decompose and is filled with worms, the plants are going to thrive!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Afternoon in Pictures

Can you guess what Naughty Dog is playing peek a boo with?'s time to play name that flower since I haven't a clue.

Do you remember when you use to be able to do this?

She has finally over come her fear

Wild strawberries, my favorite!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tour Tuesday

I have been invited to do Tour Tuesday on More Than Survival, Choosing a Simple Life's blog from Indiana. Here it is and I will post the link on her site as well. Sorry it took me a couple weeks to sit down and do it. Eventually, I will do a tour of the inside as we complete it with before and after pictures. We have done a bulk of the inside remodeling but we are still lacking on trim work which makes it look very unfinished (although we have some in the shed ready to go) and decorations etc. My plan is to put trim work up and complete each room one by one decorating as we go. Right now we have soooo much outdoor work it has taken the back seat for a bit. This is a 200 year old farm house we purchased 12/07 along with 93 acres. It is a work in progress!

There is always a long hose running across the yard to the garden. John plans to hook it up through the barn eventually to avoid this but for now...

Side view of the house and crocked shed. In that shed just to the left of the house John put a liner in the existing chimney and hooked up a wood stove my mother had and was not using. He saved us thousands, we burned 100 gal of oil and that was mostly because we had not cut enough wood. John is incredibly handy man, like no other. He literally can fix ANYTHING! We could have never bought this place with out his know how of being an electrician, plummer, builder, sheet rocker, painter, mechanic and the list could go on and on. He truly is the man!! I have a feeling that Luke will follow his footsteps and someday make some lucky girl one heck of a hubby!

Below the lawn is just growing in, we had a blow up pool there last year. That is being recycled to the neighbor back yard this summer because we will have our big one up within the next 2 weeks.

Side view of the old crocked barn. Needs lots of maintenance to say the least along with some clean up of spider webs, sparrow nests, and the window wash job from last fall has not held up. We moved here in the dead of winter last year so there are lots of dust bunnies in their that need to be captured. We were so focused on making the house livable the barn was a little neglected.

I'd been wanting one of these for a while for my barn door. I was being cheap and held out. Found this for $6 the other day, I had to buy it!

Below is a tour of our gardens. They are just in the beginning stages so bare with the dirt pictures. We hope to preserve a fair share of our goods. Share with our family and friends as we always have along with having a small help-yourself garden stand on our land. John can take most of the credit for the creation of these gardens. The kids and I are his helpers but he definitely is the primary caretaker of the gardens. John is a true green thumb! The kids and I are the main pickers. John helps me with some of the canning and preservation. This will be out 2nd year with canning since BK. (before kids)

The Front Garden
All the other gardens are behind the barn, this one is on the front lawn.
Planted here: garlic, onions, 3 kinds of lettuce, 4-5 types of tomatoes, green peppers, red & green cabbage, broccoli, peas, pumpkins

Vine Garden
Planted here: hubbard, buttercup, butternut, and acorn squash, 4 varieties of pumpkins and sunflowers to the right I planted a patch of mint my neighbor gave me last night. It spreads and comes back year after year so I did not dare put into the garden.

One of the 4 tomato plants we started in January. Amazingly they all survived the transplant. 3 ripe tomatoes so far this season.

Sweet potato, isn't that pretty. I read today that it is from the morning glory family.
I have never heard of anyone that has grown it in Maine so I guess we will see, we only have 3.

I cannot wait to fill up our root cellar. It was our first winter here last year and we under utilized our dark, cold, dirt basement. We stored a bunch of squash and some potatoes but not enough. This year I will try and stash as much as I can. We have one spaghetti squash left from last fall.

Potato plant

The Assorted Garden

Planted here: basil, dill, parsley, chives, cilantro, hot peppers, egg plant, zucchini, summer squash, carrots, beans, turnip, beets, sweet potatoes, corn, gladiolas, dahlias, and 2 blueberry bushes

Potato Garden - a work in progress. When we rented the sod cutter we used it also to extend our gardens. We still need to take care of the sod rolls and till up the ground. John says he is not doing that until we get a tractor, not sure when that will be?? He swore he was going to buy the one he wanted this morning but then...he slept on it.
For those of you that don't know the story behind that, John is VERY frugal and shops stuff to death to get the best deal for his buck. He is very smart in that way and many other ways for that matter but it is an on-going joke between us because I'm quite impulsive in comparison.

Cucumber Garden - not to impressive to look at now but it will be all green before long.

I have discovered a local market/farm stand. It is in the next town over not far from the grain store we frequently go to. They buy as much produce as they can locally, they have a local meat supplier, and in off seasons they buy their goods from the Boston market. The prices are reasonable and the family that runs it are very friendly & welcoming. So far I have made 3 trips there and I am so excited to be buying more food locally. Yesterday as I was walking out I caught a glimpse of a corn cob, it's popcorn. You put it is a paper bag for 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave and presto you have a good size bowl of fresh, homegrown, yummy popcorn. Very exciting!! Guess what we are going to plant next. I wonder how long it stores for. The kids loved it!

I found the recipe below on-line and as I write this it is in the oven cooking so I cannot tell you how it is but it sounds and smells good. The recipe call for 4 cups of milk and I know a few of you that visit by blog have milking cows and look for ways to utilize your excess milk. If you have chickens your all set, just need a few other ingredients that you cannot get on the farm. The only item I had from the homestead was bantam eggs and I had to use 8 to count for the 4 the recipe calls for. Looking forward to getting milk from Annabelle next summer and eggs from the big birds!

Grape-Nuts Pudding

Rate this recipe |

SERVES 6 – 8

Grape-Nuts cereal, the main ingredient in this dessert, was introduced in 1897 at the height of a health craze inspired by dietary reformer Sylvester Graham. In this recipe, based on one first published in Yankee magazine, the cereal settles in the pan to create a tasty bottom layer.

1 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
1 quart milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. fine salt
Grated nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 2-quart glass loaf pan with 1 tsp. butter; set aside. Put cereal into a bowl; set aside.

2. Bring milk just to a boil over medium heat; pour over cereal and set aside to let soak for 5 minutes.

3. Beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Slowly pour egg mixture into milk mixture while whisking constantly. Transfer to reserved pan; set in a deep roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan that it reaches halfway up pudding pan. Bake until just set, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool; sprinkle with grated nutmeg.

Ok it came out of the oven before I finished this looooong post, it is very good, I bet it would be good cool too.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Critter Update

Just a brief update on the critters as I'm really tired! John put up the hammock he bought Luke for his birthday right between the two Maple trees on our front lawn. Great shady spot!
We did not do anything too exciting over the weekend. Mostly worked around the house mowing, laundry, working in the garden. We went visiting today and the kids had the chance to go swimming. The weather went from cold and rainy on Thursday, cold enough I would have lit up the stove if we had some wood cut, it was in the 90's + and humid over the weekend. Crazy Maine weather!

Critter update: The kids have caught 25 snakes to date, they sold a total of 39 dozen crawlers (they've kaboshed that little business adventure for now, just picking enough for our own fishing use)

All the animal are out of the barn except the quails and turkeys...soon they will be out. Don't miss cleaning pens right steady. Goats still come into the wood stove room at night. I am afraid something might get them out back at night. Sometime this summer we will get a stall in the barn set up, just not a priority now. We want to lay cement down and we already have the lumber.

Found a dead meat bird this morning, we suspect it was Callie (our German short-hair). Naughty dog!!! Funny thing is I was out mowing till 9pm tonight, after the kids went to bed and I literally could not see anymore because of the darkness (yes my neighbors think I am nuts).
As I was driving into the barn I saw a blackish object possibly the shape of a flattened chicken in front of me. I got off the mower went to touch it and....I decided no way. Ran and and grabbed the flashlight and it was a big clump a grass that had fallen off the mower deck when I drove out. You know it, I was steaming thinking Miss Naughty Dog had got to one of my layers. Thankfully she did not.

Lastly, Bob the rooster crowed for a first yesterday per John and the kids. I heard it this morning. Quite entertaining as he has not quite figured it out, I'll try and get it on video.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Animals, Animals, and more Animals

We discovered Oreo likes bread after the kids dropped a slice when they were headed to the pond to feed the ducks.

As you can see the goats are abused and neglected....not!

We went to a presentation at Leah's school last night, she "published" a book along with all the other kindergartener's. All the kids in the class except 2 either wrote about their families or their cat. One child made a cook book and my unique little muffin wrote about Spring. She did a great job presenting, she has no fear of crowds. At the end of reading her book she read about the author as follows: "Leah is 6 years old. She lives with her mom, her dad and her brother. She has 1 dog, 3 cats, 100 outside birds, 2 chinchillas, 2 goats, and 10 house birds." The audience all had quite a laugh at that one and probably thought what a bunch of crazies. For the record Leah's hair is wet, not greasy. John gave me grief for posting this picture.

Here is the accurate animal count as of today, it seems to change regularly: 31 laying hens, 1 rooster, 18 partridge, 3 quail , 6 bantam hens, 2 ducks, 4 turkeys, 24 meat birds, 2 goats, 2 chinchillas, 3 cats, 1 dog, 1 parakeet = 101 if I added correctly.. ok yes maybe we are nuts!

Our only rooster. Leah named him "Bob". We have not named the hens because there are too many. We've yet to hear him cock-a-doodle-do.

Finally, a little more room to roam. We plan on making a bigger run for them but this works for now. John is going to make some nesting boxes tomorrow because these gals should be laying by July...just in time for our farm stand.
We have 8 more Barred Rocks but they are in another pen because they are a little younger.

One of the turkeys


These are the kids catch and release tanks. Top one is for frogs and the bottom one is for snakes.

Quail egg count is up to 3
look how tiny

chicken egg, bantam egg, quail egg

Below are a few pictures from a field trip Leah's class went on today. One more field trip to go and 1 1/2 weeks left of school...the count down is on. I look forward to the kids being home and not having to have a stringent schedule of wake-ups, kid pick ups, bath & bed times. I enjoy the casual times of summer but usually by August we are all ready for school again.

I learned today that the red flap under the beak of a rooster is called a wattle. This obviously is not a rooster but I thought it was cool because this was the cows stall this hen was nesting in.

I want a couple cows grazing in our field! Maybe next year when we have more cash & time to put up fencing. Our to do list before winter is very long.

Some people drink sheep milk, I did not know that either.

I'll end the note with a simple recipe. Last night I marinated some deer steak in this and John cooked it up tonight. I will use again and it will be easiest to find if I have it on my blog and maybe you all might like to try.

Teriyaki Marinade