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Adventures in Rabbit Hutch Making…

So we are getting into the business of rabbits. Beautiful Champagne d’Argents! I’m super excited! The first cold night of the season I had made rabbit stew and I was hooked. I had to have fresh, home grown rabbit rather than the store bought variety that probably came from China.

Yesterday, on a cold, windy Sunday we set to building the hutch. My original plan was to house them outside, facing east, protected by the shed, but after much discussion the rabbits will now be housed in the coop. As Rooster pointed out, there they will be away from the threat of predators and the harsh weather.

The reasons I chose the Champagne d’Argent based on inter web research are they tend to be more docile, they are a heritage breed, and they are pretty. The Champagne d’Argent can be traced to 1635 in France and possibly further back. I figured that along with the meat, the sale of fur might be a little change in the pocket; we shall see. If anything maybe I could add tanning furs to my reputation.

First things first we dug out varying sizes of screws, all the wood scrap along with the last of youngest’s bunk bed, drills, saws, speed square, and a pencil. Not all at once of course because if you know us we realize a little into the project we need something that we forgot. Like the battery for the drill.

I was trying to do the project by myself with Vincent, but thank goodness Rooster can see when I’m lost. I was standing there thinking well, what should I do first? I tried starting, and quickly discovered my original plan was flawed and very rickety. Enter Rooster and we started over.

An hour or two past the time I could no longer feel my toes or fingers, and after youngest emerged from the house for the thousandth trip for another hoodie, coat, gloves, hat, warmer socks and bathroom breaks we called it quits for the night. We did get quite a bit moving along, and the hutch is roughly framed for the most part. Tomorrow will be a trip to the hardware store for some really long screws and staples to tack down the hardware cloth.

I may have to take Friday off from work to finalize the hutch; as a trio will be picked up early Saturday morning. Either way remember that if your plan fails, changes are made, or cold weather numbs you to the bones… live a simple life. The family that works together, cusses together. (That’s an old family adage I thought I’d share)

Well, guitar lessons are over and it’s time to head back to the farm for supper.

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Honey’s Trip to the Market

I guess market is a nicer way of saying the butcher… we’d been wondering when Honey should go into the bacon factory because we are quite honestly clueless and new to the whole hog raising business. Google and/or Bing suggested by his shoulder width he’d be about 300 pounds.

By the way he pushed Rooster about the pen I would’ve assumed the same. My Rooster is no small man by any means and Honey was able to nudge him a bit. So we were flying blind.

We had gone into our local butcher and talked to Randy, our favorite guy at Integrity Meats, and he knew we weren’t going to be able to wait until the end of October either. So we were moved up the waiting list and we’re told a week maybe two and they’d have an opening.

Last Monday on the drive home we got the call… we were on our way to pick up oldest after school, still had to get youngest from school and I’d be off to guitar lessons. So Rooster and oldest were left to their devices.

We lined up a trailer on the drive and everything was set and ready. Just had to load Honey and head to town.

So picture it’s been raining all day, it’s chilly, and windy and the pick pen is a soupy mess. Insert Rooster and oldest with a very pissed off pig. Times like these I wish we had one of those doorbell recording devices…

After much cussing and escaping nearly into the beans reinforcements were called in. Yes, another tale of neighbor Josh and a wild critter ensued.

It finally came down to neighbor Josh and Rooster picking Honey up and physically putting him into the trailer.

Of course stories like these are better told by the original parties, but Rooster isn’t much for writing.

Youngest and I came home to find miscellaneous boards scattered about the yard. No doubt attempts at corralling Honey into the trailer.

Rooster and oldest retuned home at almost eight o’clock. Upon arriving at the butcher there was another debacle, of course. Honey now didn’t want to get out of the trailer, and had to be pushed into the indoor pens.

The sight that was Rooster and oldest when they came home was a little worse than I expected. Covered in “mud”, soaked to the bone, and smelling like they had rolled in the pig pen. Poor guys had quite the adventure and looked it.

Stories were told with great fervor over supper from Honey’s escape attempts, to neighbor Josh’s arrival, and unloading. These poor guys were exhausted.

That night Rooster said he was reconsidering having two pigs next year, and told me he no longer viewed rods as animal cruelty. I was honestly shocked, but had been awaiting this day to change his mind.

Since a week and a few days have passed since the great adventure we’re back to planning on two pigs. Hopefully we will be able to have found the farm of our dreams by spring, and will be able to have two pigs.

So just remember when life covers you in “mud”, soaks and chills you to the bone remember to laugh and live a simple life.

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A few days off…

I got 10 days off of work in which we dealt with e~learning and finishing some remodeling projects. Between classes youngest has been a big help playing handy manny. (For those of you that know youngest had an obsession with the show Handy Manny and we some times still holler “Come on tools!” whenever we are working).

So… we worked on putting up trim in the house.

Currently have a batch of tomatoes on the stove to turn into spaghetti sauce, and we need to make a run to the grocery store and hardware store. (We ran out of stain).

It’s been raining off and on today so I keep staring out to the garden thinking I need to grab the last of the summer harvest and plan on a big canning weekend. The fall plantings are doing well, and I even spied a few green beans this morning! Hopefully the impending doom of an early frost stays away. Farmers almanac is predicting an early fall this year, and a few of my homestead buddies out west are reporting the same! Noooooooooo I’m not ready!

I’m not ready for fall ESPECIALLY because we need our propane tank filled and when I called to check on the schedule they are delayed because… wait for it… THEY DO NOT HAVE ANYONE TO DELIVER THE PROPANE!!! This possibly made me hit my all time anxiety level panic button!!!! We heat and cook on propane!!

As the summer plantings slowly fade, and wither I can’t believe that it is almost September. Having just realized that Labor Day is fast approaching, and oldest made the VARSITY football team these are all signs of colder weather…

Oddly they are also panic triggers for me. Did I can enough? Freeze enough? Dehydrate enough? I don’t know why I always think that. Probably that fall hoarding anxiety kicking in full swing.

Another odd anxiety is if the kids have enough warm clothes? Do they still fit in their winter jackets? Bets are probably not. They grow like weeds, which reminds me… the mystery itching weed of death and destruction still is unidentified and I’m STILL getting more itchy spots of grossness.

Sigh. When anxiety knocks at your door, make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce, and remember to live a simple life.

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Fall Anxiety Hoarding

When the days begin to cool, prematurely or not the sense of the fall anxiety hoard starts. It’s a tightness in my chest, a nagging in the brain; that I need to stock up for winter. Maybe I’m part squirrel gathering nuts, or the bear bulking up for hibernation. Either way it started.

Last week had cooler than normal temperatures and those cool mornings had me grabbing my hoodie on the way out the door. Maybe my hoodie is the key to this fall anxiety hoarding; either way it hit me. Slowly nagging… do you have enough pasta? Toilet paper? Soup stocks? Maybe we don’t have enough q-tips.

Ugh. This fall anxiety hoard brings thoughts of loosing power, being snowed in, or even more likely this year being home bound in another pandemic. While my husband probably thinks I’m nuts for stocking up, it has always helped cut costs over the winter months.

In another blog I’ll go into more detail how I “PREP”are the household for winter, this one can just be about what a nut I am, and we can laugh at my fall anxiety hoarding together.

First and foremost I make a list. Whenever I’m anxious I make a list. I’ve noticed this about myself over my forty some years. Problems at work? Make a list! Problems with the children? Make a list! Stressed about what to make for supper? Make a list! Then rewrite it in order. Whether by grocery department or order of importance. I make a list.

To delve further into this fall anxiety hoarding I think of all the comfort foods I cook, and how many supplies I would need to get through winter without a trip to the grocery store. I know it’s impossible for the most part, but my dad was a boy scout and always told us “always be prepared”. He is also a list maker and “PREP”arer so I guess it’s genetic.

From my lists I then drive myself crazier by looking for deals. Ten for ten at Kroger? And a digital coupon! And fuel points? You had me at hello. Meijer buy ten get the eleventh free? And I can mix and match? Hold my spot in the self checkout lane! Aldi can goods by the flat? Who doesn’t need twenty-four cans of green beans that the kids loathe? Bulk stores don’t get me started! Free samples, and huge carts to peddle my extra large jugs of laundry detergent that I can’t even lift off the shelf in the laundry room! Move over flat bed cart I’m stacking it deep and you’re selling it cheap!!

I tend to buy more pasta, flour, stock base pastes, toilet paper and paper towels than your average hibernation bound bear, but I will have enough to make it to spring. I like to stock up on oddball shit too… toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. my brain begins to reel as my pen hits the paper. Okay four people, four toothbrushes a month, let’s see… October, November, December, January, February and March… that’s six months times four people that’s twenty four toothbrushes. And bam I’m out grabbing 24 toothbrushes.

I can a lot, and freeze a lot from the garden. So that takes care of most of the veggies, spaghetti sauce and salsas, and beans. Already I’m thinking how many jars of tomato stuffs I have left from last year and how many more I’ll need to get to March and realistically until the next batch of tomatoes come on the vine.

Sometimes I do grow things that no one ends up eating so it goes to the chickens or the hog. Last year I had a bumper crop of green beans I sweated my a$$ off canning those damn things only to have them not seal properly. You should have heard the boys rejoice. At least the chickens didn’t seem to mind my blunder.

My fall anxiety hoarding may seem like a waste of time and money to some, but the winter months hold the most expenses. Heating, higher electric bill, holiday gathering expenses, and Christmas presents. With my onset of fall anxiety hoarding I also develop this lovely sense of panic about Christmas gifts. Gifts from us, gifts from Santa, different wrapping paper for each boy, and from each gift giver. Not to mention trying to be creative with gifts for extended family, and additionally what in the world to get my husband!

Additionally I rearrange every nook and cranny in every closet, cabinet, and shelving unit to make room for as much stuff as possible. It’s a gift to be able to cram hundreds of can goods into a closet that once held your linens. LOL. No seriously. I noticed there was a shelf or two that only held an air humidifier or a salt lamp, and then they became shelves for shampoos, body washes, toilet bowl cleaners and the like. Neatly lined up in nice little rows.

Under the bathroom sink became the toothbrush, dental floss, and shower louffa warehouse. Over the toilet cabinet holds razors, mouthwash, deodorants, q-tips, lotions, and hair products. Under the kitchen sink holds cleaners, and scrubbing paraphernalia. Storage. It’s all about storage, and you can never have enough of it.

Fall is the start of all my anxieties, and we’re not even there yet. It’s going to be a well stocked year.

As you’re wheeling that extra large cart around looking for twenty pound jars of peanut butter remember to do the math, and to live a simple life….

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In God We Trust… All Others Pay Cash

A delightful theory for your local garage sales, flea markets, and life in general. There was a day not so long ago when cash was King. Now we lug around these plastic devices of debt wherever we go. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Chase the list goes on and on…

Looking back I don’t ever recall my grandfather having a credit or debit card. With the long ago theory of “if I don’t have the cash for it, I simply don’t need it.”

By God we need everything now. That new air fryer, new flooring, that racy new car, shoes, clothes, bags, jewelry. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory of greed.

Truth be told it’s because we are all misfit brats. We see it, we want it, and we want it NOW!

Do we not remember having a sense of pride from saving our quarters, an odd birthday dollar to purchase that prized item? Those days are long forgotten because everything is so expensive we can’t save for it.. it’d take too long. AND WE NEED IT NOW! When in truth if we waited even a month without the item we may find that we really don’t need it, and realize it was only a want.

Whether that want was to compete with Jenny up the block, to keep your kids in the cool scene, or whatever; maybe we should all give this a go, and wait a month before the purchase. Let’s see what happens…

You want to reduce your debt, but don’t want to deny yourself, your kids, your spouse those things they want. Buckle up cupcake hard times are coming.

Back in the 1920s greed and over spending brought us to the Depression. History repeats itself and I think in our lifetime we will see something similar. Jobless, homeless, destitute and desperate business owners closing their shops…. oh wait. We’ve begun that slippery slope in 2020 with the pandemic. Oh what a web we weave!

In short. Treat life like a garage sale. Pay cash and accept cash. It’s how you keep your debt simple.

Live a simple life.

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The battle with tomatoes

The weather has not been forgiving lately… rain, rain, and more rain. Temps have fallen to the 70s, and although humid it’s not great tomato weather.

The other day I noticed the dreaded early blight or septoria leaf blighting the tomato plants. For those of you unfamiliar with this menace to the garden you’ll be able to identify it easily. You’ll notice yellowing leaves towards the bottom of the plant. The leaves themselves are dotted in a blackish gray.

The menace of the garden… early blight

Early blight happens when spores are thrown up by splashing rain. This is a fungal spore that is always present in soil. When it is wet and cool the spores thrive.

Starting at the bottom the early blight will move upwards damaging leaves and the tomatoes themselves.

To combat this menace I quickly got out my garden shears and began removing the lower non fruit bearing leaves and branches. By doing this you remove any leaves that could get splashed by rain, and give the plant a chance to dry up and fight this menace.

After using my garden shears on the removal of diseases leaves I wash them with rubbing alcohol. I believe that the cleaning will keep me from distributing the fungal spores to any other plant in the garden.

Hopefully my crop of tomatoes will survive and produce many jars of salsa and spaghetti sauce for the cold months ahead.

When Mother Nature gives you cool weather and rain, and produces early blight, and more work for you… remember to live a simple life.

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F###ing Charlie

First of all I love this dog, but he’s taking to eating the house, and I’m at my wits end.

Whenever I have my back turned he prances off the hallway where there is exposed drywall… we are in the middle of remodeling… and eats the drywall!!!!

He shows no remorse and gives zero shakes about me yelling.

Short story Charlie is making more work for mommy.

Pass the vodka.

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WTF do I do with BEETS??!!

You may have been gifted some beets from the resident gardener in your neighborhood, and now you are asking yourself what the F*** do I do with BEETS? ah, the disgusted childhood eye looks back upon these odd wonders of the soil. Kind of a dirty brown color, with reddish purple tops. As children we could smell beets a mile away, and prayed to God above that Timmy’s mom would let you stay for supper and evade the blood red vegetable.

Whether you have outgrown that loathe of this root vegetable, or are curious about it I can fill you in, and give you some ideas on how to actually USE the beet rather than throw it in the trash.

First of all, let’s learn about the beet. Now, by no means am I going to say that this is the new incredible edible thing, but give me a second and we can think about it. Beets are a hardy root vegetable, which is why every neighborhood garden probably has them. Often described as an “earthy” and yet sweet flavor these beets are full of nutrition. They range in color from deep red to a bright purple. The red color of beets comes from betalains which have powerful antioxidant effects. Beets are said to be helpful in reducing inflammation because they are full of nitrates. The combo of nitrates (they remove harmful compounds from your bloodstream) and betalains are said to fight inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, or the ever growing fibromyalgia.

Said to improve heart health by reducing blood pressure those nitrates in beets are a super food. Naturally low in fat and cholesterol leads them to the front of the pack for people concerned with stroke risk and or heart disease. A nutrient-dense root vegetable that is low in calories, cholesterol and fat, beets are a heart-healthy choice.

Granted that still doesn’t send everyone running to the produce section, and believe me I would have been the last in line from childhood to recent times. Honestly, I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but it was probably when I was pregnant with my son. I was eating all kinds of whacky food combinations. At any rate, one day…. probably in 2011… I. Ate. A. Beet. Thus beginning a slow love affair over the years that some times leads me to think, “You know, a beet sounds good right now.”

Canned beets

I enjoy taking canned beets (either commercial or home canned) draining them, and topping them with my favorite Italian dressing and a decent serving of feta cheese.

Putting them in a salad isn’t too shabby either.

Straight up out of the can to the side of my plate I still can’t manage. It’d take a lost bet at this point to conquer that feat.

The Neighborhood Beet

Straight from the garden to your unwilling home I have a few ideas for you.

Beet Chips. After you peel away the dirty skin of the beet simply slice them finely, and place in your fabulous dehumidifier at 160 degrees for two hours. Nice crispy snacks await! If you don’t have a dehydrator you can also bake the chips in the oven at 300 degrees for 45-60 minutes. I like the beet chips as a healthy nighttime snack.

Photos that follow are the process of chip making…. with short instructions, after all it is pretty simple.

The “earthy” beet in its natural state
Peeled beets…
Tops and skins from beets
I cheated and used a stand mixer attachment to slice the beets. I’ve never been able to evenly slice anything.
Put on the dehydrator tray
Put in the dehydrator, and life is simple! LOL

Pinterest to save the day also offers a lot of beet salad ideas, and roasting recipes.

Honestly, I guess you could also can them, but if you don’t know if you like them why would you go to the trouble of canning them.

Dyeing with beets

If you find you want nothing to do with beets at all a cool project is dyeing fabric with beets. It’s an all natural way to dye fabrics and yarns for other projects. Reader be ware… it takes a little bit of time to dye with beets. At least it did on the diy site I found. I was going to attempt it this weekend past, but hours were involved and that was something I couldn’t schedule in that day. So I saved the tops and peelings of all the beets I turned into chips. I plan on dyeing some tea towels here in a few weeks, and I’ll let you know what a disaster that turns out to be.

In short when it comes to beets you either love them or you hate them. Either eat them, or put them to use as a fabric dye. Whatever you choose to do with your gifted beets… remember… to live a simple life.

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Louffa Gourds

Remember these?

The things I’ve been trying to grow for 3 years now? The failed attempts over and over? Year one nothing sprouted, year two they drowned in tsunami rain storms, and this is the tale of year three….

I planted the seeds around the electrical pole in the backyard with my son. Thinking it’d be the perfect place for them to climb and be virtually maintenance free. Their flowers would be perfectly pollinated by the butterflies and hummingbirds coming to our little wildflower patch. It’d all work out perfectly this time.

This year after waiting for what seemed months the louffas sprouted, and day before yesterday they were happily climbing their way up the electrical pole. The day before yesterday they were probably a little over a foot off the ground. As of yesterday they are taking the eternal dirt nap we call compost.

What happened?

The power company came out and did inspection on the area poles. They uprooted the plants, torn ferociously from their happy home, and leaving me utterly upset. This was going to be the year!

I was going to have sponges for the shower, for the cast iron, for general cleaning purposes, and now I’m left empty handed.

On a side note they also trampled the butterfly garden… which appears like it will bounce back, but the louffas are laid to rest for this year… Rest In Peace

Next year I’ll try again. Next year I’ll build my own trellis for them to climb. Far, far away from the electrical pole.

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Early Morning Excitement

So there I was…. you can already tell this will be a good story! All great stories begin with the old age “so there I was”.

So there I was in my bathrobe, hair a wreck from restless sleep, enjoying the quiet sunrise of an early morning. There is nothing better than watching the sun rise from its slumber. As you yourself are waiting for the sweet nectar of those magical beans to brew ahh a perfect morning.

Suddenly the tranquility is broken by disturbed hens alarmed by an intruder. The dogs already alerted are running to the run. I squint trying to see what is wrong… my glasses are in the bathroom and of course are necessity at this moment.

Clutching my robe closed I put on whatever footwear is left at the back door. Flip flops won. Trudging through the cool dew soaked grass I see three blurry fur balls. One, a new blur, is chasing a small white blur while my two blurry dogs are running block keeping it away from the blur I believe to be one of my young Pekins.

While our dogs are occupying this intruder I am able to scoop up the poor duck and get it in the run. I see this intruder is the neighbors young pup who feels it’s play time and has no need to go home.

Our dogs of course join in the fun of play time as they see their job is done… so I’m hollering at our dogs to go back home, still clasping my robe for dear life, and trying to keep from braking my ankle in the now slippery death traps on my feet.

Now enter the neighbor coming to retrieve his pup. It turned into a whole mess of dogs not listening to anyone. Dogs running in circles, me clutching my robe, frustrated by the whole ordeal, I finally get ahold of Charlie, our youngest fur child.

Enter Rooster, who looks annoyed, gets the dogs to listen with ease and gets them in the house. Ugh. I feel ridiculous standing there in my robe, hair a wreck, holding a sandal that I had used to unsuccessfully get our dogs attentions.

I head back into the house for my much needed glasses and magical bean juice.

Fast forward to after breakfast when morning choring is done. I get water for the little chics in the coop, and feed. I grab a pail of feed for the ducks and chickens and throw it in the run. As I go to grab the buckets that need refilled with water I see something odd. That white duck is way smaller than I thought.

Wait, what? Thelma, Louise, one, two, three, four, and a tiny duck. My brain clicks into gear and realizes that none of my ducks were lose, and couldn’t have been. This miniature version of my Pekins must be one of the neighbors roaming call ducks. Sweet Jesus I feel dumb.

The phone tree is sprung into action. First, the neighbor who on previous occasions has said “oh, their neighborhood ducks we just let them free range”. P.S. this always pisses me off because one that’s not what free range means, and two maybe I don’t want your damn hippy critters in my yard as I have enough to keep track of. Besides all that the neighbor in question is a quarter of a mile down the road, and apparently gives two shits about where their critters go.

The hippy simply replies “They aren’t mine”. Ugh… now the next neighbor I know has call ducks… I actually like this lady and she’s a hot mess like me so I can see how her call duck got lose and is over here.

“I don’t think it’s mine. I didn’t notice anyone missing this morning.”

Are you kidding me? Out of the twelve people in this town only two of which keeps call ducks, and neither of them are claiming this one. FML

At this point I’ve now resigned to the idea that I now have a call duck. She’s getting along fine with everyone and it is adorable.

Fast forward to when hot mess gets off of work and realizes it probably is her call duck. An exchange of texts asking certain details of said duck, and a little banter she says she’ll be over in a bit to check.

“You’re not home”

“Yes I am.”

“F*** I’ll turn around”

“I’ll go outside LOL”

Here she comes, my favorite neighbor, driving the gator. I chuckled to myself as I realized this adds to our critter encounters together. She asks after the pig, and critters and makes small talk. She tells me her husband drug home two geese, the two she told me about for sale at the local farm store.

“Now there’s goose shit EVERYWHERE!” She exclaims. “Back steps. Goose shit. Drive way. Goose shit. Everywhere goose shit!” She’s animated as she’s explaining the situation with the goose shit, and I can’t help but to laugh.

We enter the run, her in her crocs, me in my muck shoes, and we round up the call duck. We talk about how many of her escaped critters have been found or saved by us, and she thanks me again. Just a few days prior I had called that her dog was in the road. Call tucked under her arm she drives away in the gator.

Left alone to tend to our flock I think to myself how cute that duck was. The stray thought of having call ducks enters my mind. I shake the thought away as I tell myself they’re not in the plan of sustainability, and laugh to have even had the thought. We have enough going on.

Meanwhile I’ve received a call from day care, the youngest doesn’t feel well. I picked him up and discovered he has a fever, call the pediatrician, and head to the big city. Viral infection. So a few rounds of puking and diarrhea later the poor thing is tucked into bed.

As I call it a night I can only hope that tomorrow is less chaotic.

So, when life throws you lemons… remember to live a simple life, and make some lemonade.