Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hen Fight?

It's time to talk about the "girls". My chickens. Those feathered creatures that seem to live every spring in my laundry room!

Its been quite the week in the coop. Everyone has been waiting for the August issue of Radish Magazine to come out. www.radishmagazine.com

One of our girls is now a cover girl but we don't know which one it is. Yet. My Brahma here on the right was one of the finalists but I don't see her having made the cut. She is a sweet hen, lays lovely brown eggs but she is not flashy. She is the girl on the blind date with "a great personality!"

So I am trying to spread the "fame" around. I can't have all this drama in the coop so forgive me as I try to smooth some "ruffled feathers"!

As far as backyard poultry goes, roosters aren't the stars. I mean, really???? What do they do?? Ok -- they look good -- they strut -- they crow --- they do what roosters do best. But to keep the "cock of the walk" in line, I'll share a picture of him.
And here are the new members of our feathered family. Blue Orpingtons. A very rare breed of birds. They are approximately a month old and very cute. And too young to have developed egos. But they should. Currently a picture of these cuties is on display at the I Wireless Center (formerly, The Mark) in Moline. Notice -- all they care about is watching what is going on next door in the other run!!!! If you like barn yard art, check out www.trentfoltz.com

So those are some of the girls. Life is never dull with them. And to add to the confusion and drama .... another hen is featured on WQAD in a Radish promo.

The things I do to keep egg production going smoothly! After all, you don't put all your eggs in one basket!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ok -- so maybe I am a little obsessive complusive!


Its summer time and the gardens and farmers' markets are overflowing with produce. For some funny reason, I think I have to can it all ......... personally. All by myself. No one else. Just me. Seriously, there will be no tomato left behind!!!

This week -- I wanted blueberries. I called my favorite produce broker and talked to him about blueberries. When I discovered that I would have to put a 2nd and maybe, a 3rd mortgage on the house to purchase them........ I moved on to other fruit!

The conversation went sort of like this......... John, I need another 50 # of peaches. Ok, Cathy, but I'll make you a great deal if you buy some strawberries.

Ahhh........ a deal!! Fans! Canners! Action! I'm thrilled .... a deal! Now, at this point, I don't care how many strawberries there are. Its a deal on something I can eat! So after John twisted my arm (yea, like that was necessary!) I came home with the following................ 40 qts of strawberries, 50# of peaches, 25# of plums and a flat of red raspberries.

So what in the world am I doing on the computer??

I got all of the strawberries in the freezer for future jam production. The plums are sparkling in their jars. They are so pretty -- I did a "raw pack" on the plums. It takes less sugar in the syrup than a "hot pack" but you don't get as many in a jar and they float to the top much easier.

Today -- I will get all the peaches done and tomorrow, I will start the raspberry jam.

No --- I have not started the bomb shelter yet. But if you need a peach-fix in January, you will know where to go. I've wasted enough time.......... back to the kitchen!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Can you say ...... corn-zebo?


The corn-zebo. During the summer, its the most popular place to be on the farm.

Many people have gazebos. In fact, I have one. Its nice -- not terribly big. But it has no sense of privacy. The corn-zebo does. I need to tell you about it.

First of all, it was created from a 1948 Behlen corncrib. For those of you unfamiliar with farming, corncribs were used to store ear corn. They have lots of ventilation -- open mesh sides so the corn could dry without getting molding. Now corn is shelled when is picked so the shelled corn would run out its sides! Most of these corncribs have left the farm for the scrap yard. So locating one was a challenge.

We would drive down country roads and see a corncrib, rusting behind a barn. I would muster up my courage and knock at the door. "Would you like to sell your corncrib", I would ask. Three or four times I was told ..... "I might need it sometime." Now ---- that's a typical Iowa farmer response! They haven't used that corncrib in 40 years but ............ they might need it some time.

Finally, I found someone that just wanted it off their property. YEA!!!! We were certain this would be an easy job to move. As my daughter would say ..... not so much!!!!

After much huffing and puffing and cussing, the corncrib arrived home and was re-constructed in our yard. We hauled dirt, gravel, sand and pavers to build the base. Now, the 16-foot corncrib has a 20-foot patio that it sits on.

Vintage tables and chairs fill the corn-zebo. And when its dressed for a party, flowery tablecloths from the 50's rustle in the breeze. Its a great spot to sit with a glass of wine or a cold beer and watch the Grant Wood landscape turn from green to orange in the setting sun. But most importantly, it always seems to be filled with the laughter and warmth of wonderful friends, both old and new.

So new life was given to an old farm relic. Maybe a lot like me. I might just be useful yet!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Our old house..........


Hello!

Since this is the first entry in my blog, I feel I need to let you get the "lay of the land". The next few posts will cover the basics of our lives. First, the house.


Ok -- this is the house. Yes -- it is a little old by Midwest standards. The house was built in approximately 1892. The picture is from 1927 or so. And to tell you the truth, it looks alot like that now. Except that little building to the right of house is no longer there. Thank God! That was the outhouse.

Its a small house. A typical Classic-L Victorian farmhouse. Very typical for the 1880's and 1890's in the upper Midwest. I love it ......... and I hate it. All at the very same time. I love the coziness of the house. I love the feel of "history" of the house. I don't mind the old wood floor in the kitchen, the windows or even the hundreds of coats of paint on the millwork in the living room. I hate the fact that nothing is "standard" and every little repair takes longer than expected and costs twice as much as planned.

We have no air conditioning. Except in January and then the upstairs is nice and breezy! No heat upstairs. And yes, I have had a glass of water with a skim coat of ice. But lots of quilts and down comforters and wool blankets make it a wonderful place to snuggle with Honey. We only have one bath. And two of our bedrooms are smaller than most new walk-in closets. Let alone the fact, they don't have closets.

But the house has wonderful windows that let the sunshine pour in during the day. And the summer breezes cool the house off in the evening.

It is the perfect house to live in. It's friendly and warm and lets me enjoy my hobbies without the pressure of keeping up a "Better Homes and Gardens" home. It has a porch swing that is the perfect place to enjoy my morning cup of coffee or a cold beer in the evening. Its countertops are stained from canning pickled beets and the living room has dust bunnies of fleece form spinning yarn. And this spring, there were feathered creatures in the laundry room from April to July!

Ahh .......... the chickens. That is for another post.