Monday, March 31, 2014

Chicks Sure Do Get Ugly

You bring home these little peeping balls of fluff and, within a few weeks, they turn into little monstrosities.  Eventually, they turn into lovely chickens, but there is this period I always find creepy, when they are feathering out, but the look kind of gawky and ...well, dinosaur-y.  They still peep, but it is much less adorable.  They kind of eye you with that bird eye and they are all patchy with feathers and down and some spots where down is coming out but feathers are taking their time. 

And when you have older breeds that aren't sex-linked, you end up playing, "Hey, are you a roo?" when one looks a little bigger or the come looks more prominent.  It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, if I can keep the two roosters in two different places, or have one for dinner...  I just hope I don't have more than one. 

And they aren't quite ready to go outside, but they are outgrowing the inside.  I have to laugh - I've never had Barred Rocks before and they sure are active.  They kind of pop up and down before running.  The Australorps are fast but they basically stay on the ground, but the BR can pop as high as the top of the large dog kennel they are using as a coop in the tack room. It kind of reminds me of whack-a-mole without the ground and the holes.  Of course, I am not whacking my chicks, but the heads popping up and down gives the same effect.

As a side note, completely unrelated to chicks - I have discovered Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap.  (Actually, my older daughter introduced it to me).  I like the peppermint - love any kind of mint soap.  It makes my skin feel so good, and I notice it is brightening my complexion.  They had a bulk sale at the health food store, so I brought and old marinara jar and filled it up.  It just makes my day knowing that I have a nice jar of this stuff sitting at home.  I'm simple and easy to please, I guess. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Canning Bone Broth

Finally got around to putting up that beef bone broth I made this weekend.  It's in the canner right now.  I also took my daughter for a ride on the Crazy Horse.  He's been enjoying the life of Reilly for months now as our schedules have him mowing and weed whacking and acting like a lawn ornament rather than a riding horse.   He does come running in when I call him, though, which is endearing.  I am sure he thinks I am going to feed him. 

He still will stand still for me to mount, but was less happy about the kid.  Dummy.  Then he doesn't want to get more than two feet away from me when we go out, so I walk and jog (trying to get him to move, darn it) in front of him.  We walked all around the pasture, which had the sheep hopeful for grain.  I would like to work with him more, but 12+ hour days (starting next week - 6 days a week) doesn't leave a lot of time.  I really should sell him, but he enjoys his life and I would worry that he would end up with someone less calm, which would undo all the calming down we've done. 

I am thinking about baking something - maybe rolls as cookies aren't really appropriate during Lent.  However, I really do need to fold a huge pile of laundry and chug along on my rough draft for the Boards some more. 

I still feel so proud of myself when I can something.  It's kind of ridiculous, but the pressure canner is still a bit intimidating, and when the jars line up and make the lids go "ping, ping, ping" as they seal - it feels like an accomplishment. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

National Board Blues: The Things That Aren't Getting Done

I have a few quarts of beef bone broth I made sitting in the fridge.  The plan was to cool it and de-fat it and can it up.  It's been there a few days because I had to run errands all day yesterday and pounded away at National Boards today.  I spent hours, six and more hours today, working on just a fraction on one entry.  I would much rather be canning my beef broth. 

Right now, I am sitting in my car waiting for track practice to be done.  I should be pounding out more on the National Board - or studying these ridiculous flash cards I bought as a birthday present for myself (I know, joy, right?  Flashcards?!)  They are fairly ridiculous, and I am tempted to return them.  They look to be much more a mix of the PRAXIS and GRE exam then specifically for my exam.  Oh well.  Review my Masters degree and get into the mood for a long test, I guess. 

I have one more full day to work on National Boards and then I am going to an Educational Conference.  I figured back in January that it would be a nice break from National Boards, but between cleaning (the last good deep clean before Easter because of SAT classes) and cleaning chicken coops and brooders, not to mention pressure cooking soup bones and shipping a really old Volvo to my daughter on Oahu (involved sitting at the dock for an HOUR - I should have brought my National Board stuff!), driving kids back and forth to practice, etc., I have not gotten as much done as I dreamed I would.  Bummer for me. 

Frankly, I just want to take a nap.  Or maybe I just want to one quick walk around the walking track on campus.  I have been entirely too still all day. 

Oh, but I found the best recipe for Artisan bread! 

3 cups bread flour
1 t yeast
1 t salt
1 1/2 cups water 

Mix it all up, let it sit, covered, for 12-18 hours (my schedule actually had it resting well over 24 hours and it was fine).  Preheat a cast iron dutch oven for 30 minutes at 450.  Bake the dough in the dutch oven with the cover on for 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for 15 more minutes.  (Actually, I would go a little less - the bottom was very hard on this loaf).  It's so chewy and crusty - very good.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Natural Cleaners

Although I admit I am always looking for ways to save money, the real reason I like to make my own cleaners is because the store is really far away.  I can go through one of those spray and wipe bathoom cleaner bottles in a week.  Although work is closer to the store than home, I don't like going after work because 1) basically I have too much work to do and 2) the traffic is horrible after school.  It's only horrible between the bypass road and school, but that's bad enough. 

So I bought a big box of Borax, a big box of washing soda, a huge pouch of baking soda, and I buy gallon jugs of vinegar (possibly they are 2 gallon jugs - they're big).  I also bought Fels Naphtha, because I thought I would make some laundry soap, but the grating hasn't appealed.  I have lots of lemons on my trees at most times, so lemon juice and peel is a great addition to the home made cleaner arsenal.  

I love lemon vinegar cleaner.  You just soak lemon peels in vinegar for a couple of week and it cleans kitchen counters, granite, laminate floors, bathroom sinks - all shiny and not too vinegar smelling. 

I made a cleaner for my bathroom yesterday with 4 T borax, 1 tsp washing soda, 4 T baking soda,  1/2 a lemon's worth of juice, 1 1/2 cups vinegar and 3 cups hot water.  It was strong and next time I will wear rubber gloves, but it shined up my shower doors and shower tiles very nicely. 

I just ran out of Pledge, so the next recipe I will try will be some kind of wood cleaner. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Rooster

My coworker gave me her extra young rooster.  That was very nice of her, actually.  My daughter thinks that "is so Hilo."  I guess it isn't a usual gift given at work, a fowl in a pet taxi. 

I am hoping the introduction to the ladies will go smoothly.  They are, after all, fairly old and he's under a year.  I hope they don't give me a horrible demonstration of "hen-pecked".  We'll just have to let them visit him in the pet taxi and then slip him on the roost after dark.  That's worked in the past - everyone wakes up and goes, "Oh hey, you're not new because you just slept with us, so it's all fine." 

The chicks are doing well.  We lost two - one was kind of gimpy and listless when I bought her - I wish I had opened the boxes they came in before I left the feed store! I don't know why the other died.  Maybe the stress of the boxes or the new home.  Maybe they just jammed up together in panic that first night and she suffocated, but the rest are all lively and fine. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chicks Were In

I bought 10 Australorp and 10 Barred Rocks.  I was disappointed to note when I got home that one of the chicks is small and has a twisted leg.  They were almost twice as much as the hatchery, but of course, that doesn't include shipping.  Basically, it cost a bit more for 20 than I would have paid for 25 from the hatchery, but it was worth it to be able to stop by work and show them off while waiting for my son to be done with practice. 

It took a little bit to get them home, so I was disappointed to see that my husband hadn't set up the chick brooder arrangement before I got home.  My daughter and I scrambled like mad to get the fence set up, the big dog kennel set up, the bedding, feeders, and water chick fountain, and the light set up - plus feeding the bottle baby, grown chickens, dogs, horse.  I forgot to look the back gate so the ewes went out again, which was another scramble. 

I mistakenly decided to check my work email, because going to buy the chicks took the time I would normally correspond with kids and parents - and since tomorrow is the end of my grading period, I have gave feedback on four papers for revision by tomorrow morning.  I have not yet started cooking dinner.

I could make some mental parallels about being a mother hen with too many chicks, but it feels like too much work.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chicks (tomorrow)!

I was all excited - today was supposed to be Chick Day at the feed store.  I called, just in case, because it is quite a drive (and it is Ash Wednesday, after all).  They didn't get them in, but they are getting them tomorrow! They are even getting the breed I really want (Barred Rocks).  And the order is for pullets.  Although, you know how it is with these non-sex-links - some of them are going to be roosters.  That's okay with me.  As long as they aren't ALL roosters. 

I once had a friend who was a nurse.  She said she bought 30 straight run chickens and one night (or rather, one very early morning) she came home from a double shift and 27 of them proclaimed they were roosters all at once.  She put them all in the freezer that very morning.  I always think of that story when I am tempted to buy straight run.  A rooster here or there will be okay - 27 of them would be a lot of work and freezer space. 

I would promise to post up pictures tomorrow, except that...Blogger is still crashing my browser when I try.  So not fun. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I really wanted to..

Post this picture of my amazing 3 pound sweet potato, but every time I try, it crashes my browser.  Too bad.  It is as big as a child's head.  Or it was.... we ate it over the course of two days.  I felt like a Borrower - remember those children's books?  Tiny people who can make one potato last for days. 

I am now posting without the picture to see if it works.