Friday, August 15, 2008

Support Backyard Chickens in Wake Forest (or your town)

I just wanted to draw your attention to these folks in Wake Forest, NC that are trying to get the town to let them raise a backyard flock of chickens. They don't want to start a chicken factory. They just want to raise their own food. Please go over to their blog Backyard Chickens for Wake Forest. There's a lot of information on backyard chickens there. Perhaps you've wanted to do the same thing in your town. Please sign their petition if you live in Wake Forest, NC or a closely surrounding area. (anyone in ZIP code 27587).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dances with Sticks and Stones

My man Cletus has been on a creative binge again. This time he has made sticks and stones dance! We sit out on the porch & watch the wind play with these mobiles. They are very calming. We've got them listed on Ebay. We've also made a Squidoo Lens Dancing Mountain Mobiles. Check them out, won't you?

The one above is my favorite.

The one below is made from driftwood & sea coral.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Baking Fresh Homemade Bread

This is how I first learned to make bread

Let it Rise in a Bowl
Punch it down
Knead again
Shape into loaves
Put in a pan

I started experimenting and got varying results. Then someone gave me a bread maker. I didn't want to use it at first. I don't really like machines. But I tried it. Didn't like the end result. Didn't like the shape or the hole in the bottom that the paddle made.

I did discover though that it's a great time saver if I use it to mix & knead the dough in the first cycle. After that I take it out and put it in a bread pan. I let it rise then bake. Yep, just 1 rise. Comes out great every time.

I'm glad, though, that I know how to make bread the old fashioned way. You know, just in case. Now, I need to learn to bake in an outdoor oven.

Oh, Cletus, honey! Would you build me an out door oven?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chickens In The Yard!!

It's hard to believe but after 5 years of wanting chickens we finally got chickens! Last week Cletus built a real nice chicken coop under the shed lean-to. It's about 6'x12', nice and roomy. He used 6' x 10' dog lot panels for the outside lot.

While Cletus was putting the finishing touches on the chicken coop, Tony (whom I'll introduce you to in a future post) and I went to see Matt the Chicken Man. I'd been talking to Matt through a local Yahoo Poultry group. We were looking for Laying Hens and didn't want to start with chicks this late in the season.

So from Matt we got some 8 week old Pullets. Originally we had wanted Buff Orpingtons. They have a reputation of being good meat birds and layers. They also have a good disposition. But, since Matt didn't have any Orps we decided not to be picky. He had some fine looking birds. We wound up getting 5 Wyandottes, 4 Ameracaunas and 1 Barred Rock. They are all beautiful, good natured birds. Since we don't plan to eat these particular hens, all that matters is they lay plenty of eggs.

We got them home and settled in. They adapted to their new home quickly. After a few days of getting them used to their new home, we started letting them out during the day to free range. They are absolutely loving all the goodies they are finding.

So far we haven't had any trouble out of predators. However, our dogs think it's their job to chase them around. They are used to chasing anything that moves out in the woods. I've tried to explain to them the difference, but I don't think they get it. I'm hoping the novelty will wear off and they'll just leave them alone. Same goes for the cat. I think she's already bored with them since she can't catch them.

We're having a great time watching the chickens and getting to know their personalities. Every day they venture a little bit farther from their coop, exploring their new world.

Now, I wonder where I can get some ducks...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Old Sayin's

Oh Shoot! I'm falling behind on my posts again. Well, here's something I ran across. Thought it was kind of interesting.

Old Sayin's

Ever wonder where some old sayings come from? Keep reading and find out what
"Dead Ringer" really'll make a shiver go up your back.

1. Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting
to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

2. Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the
house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons
and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the
babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone
in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

3. Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the
cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it
rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and off
the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

4. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This
posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could
mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet
hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came
into existence.

5. The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get
slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the
floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more
thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping
A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a
"thresh hold." (Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

6. In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that
always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things
to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They
would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it
that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge
hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

7. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It
was a sign of wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon." They would
cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew
the fat."

8. Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid
content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead
poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next
400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

9. Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of
the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper

10. Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking
along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They
were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family
would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake
up. Hence the custom of holding a "wake."

11. England is old and small and the local folks started running out of
places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the
bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they
would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin
and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit
out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the
bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a
"dead ringer."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Romena's Encounter with the Great Bear Hunters

One day last November I heard some dogs barking up on the mountain behind our house. Our land is about 30 acres that borders national forest land. It didn't concern me right away as I knew it was Bear season. During that time of year we have gotten used to having strange dogs run all over our property & nothing we can do about it.

Now, let me just say this, I am not against hunting. I just think some folks' idea of hunting is misguided. Hunting is not sitting in your warm comfy truck with an antennae sticking out the window waiting for a pack of dogs to run an exhausted bear to you so you can shoot it in the road!! The only time I think that method of killing an animal would be acceptable is if you depended on that meat to survive to the next day!

Getting back to that November day. Cletus wasn't feeling to good so I was quietly working around the house. About an hour later I went back outside & noticed those dogs still barking & it seemed like they were in the same place as before. So I decided to go up there & see what I could see. When I got 1/4 mile up the mountain road I saw movement way up a very steep incline. I could tell by the way the dogs stayed in one spot they had something treed. Just what that something was I couldn't tell. They were up at the top of a very steep hill that l really did not want to climb up, so I thought I'd just hang around a while & see what happened.

Well, it wasn't long before I heard footsteps in leaves. Somebody was coming up the hollar, so I waited. Now I wasn't hiding, I was just standing there in plain site. A young man climbed up on the mountain road & he looked pretty tired. That was not an easy hike. It was obvious that he didn't see me so I spoke up. "Do you know your on private property?" I said. I know that I startled him & that probably wasn't the smartest thing to do to someone carrying a gun. But he stayed cool & said no, he didn't know that. He was a pretty nice & polite fella. He even called me M'am a few times. He said he was from over in the next county & had been running this bear all morning.

I told him that I wasn't 100% positive, but I thought that the dogs & the bear were on my property. The forest service line was pretty close but I wasn't going to climb way up there to look. So he gets on his radio to call the ramrod of the outfit. He tells him what I said & asks him to come up there & bring the dog leads so he can get them off my land.

Well, we talk a little & he tells me that he & his grandpa rent themselves & the dogs out to folks during hunting season. Then he decides to climb up the hill to where the dogs are. I told him that I was going to trust him to be honorable & not harm the bear if it was on my land. So up the hill he went (not as easily as that sounds, it's a very steep climb).

About 15 minutes later I hear the sound of somebody else coming up the hollar. It's the first fella's grandpa. He looks kinda elderly & I felt a little bad about making him climb up there. He was real nice too & we talk a little while he rested. I tell him the same thing I told his son.

We hear more leaves rustling up the hollar & look to see climbing upon the road the Ramrod Hisself! He didn't look one bit happy & he wasn't very friendly either. He started off telling me that the dogs were on forest service land. Now how could he know that? I said that I thought I knew my land better than he did & but I wasn't 100% sure & would trust that he would be honorable & not harm the bear if it was on my land.

He started to asked me that, if the bear was on forest service land, could they carry it across our land to the road. Before he got all the words out I shook my head in a definitive No. After that I couldn't understand what he was saying as he was mumbling under his breath. I did catch something like " It wouldn't f!!** kill you let us carry it blah,blah,blah." As he & grampa are climbing up the hill to the dogs.

Well, after they got up the hill, I decided to walk on up to the top of the mountain. It had been a while since I was up there. I got up to the top where Cletus' daddy had cleared out a spot for a house. That's when I noticed that the dogs had stopped barking. I also hear something coming through the woods & it was coming in my direction! My first thought was that it was one of the dogs. But then I thought, "What if it's not a dog.....?"

Just as I slipped behind a Pine tree the bear came out of the woods & into the clearing!! It kept on running across the clearing & then back into the woods on the other side. My heart! That was so thrilling! He was just 15 feet in front of me!

Right behind him came 2 of the dogs. I realized then that I had only given the bear a reprieve. He would probably be worn down & killed. But, I'm glad I did what I did. It gave me great pleasure to make them work a little for their hunt.

Cletus said it wasn't a real smart thing to do, confronting men with guns in the woods. But I stood up to them & didn't show them any fear. I also kept my hands in my jacket pocket that showed the slight bulge of the hint of something concealed inside.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Garden Of 2007 - The Mulch Method

We got a late freeze right after I posted about our garden last year. Lost most of our started plants even though we had them in hoop tunnels. So, we immediately started over. We managed to grow enough for ourselves but the garden was not as productive as we wanted.

The late Freeze really hurt our Blueberries. We lost some of the new bushes that Cletus put out. The buds on the established bushes were damaged. We hardly got enough berries for ourselves. That really hurt cause I love Blueberries! I did manage to get some in the freezer though.

We tried some new things last year. Chard has now become a favorite. Cletus' potato patch did pretty well. If you've never tasted or grown Fingerlings well, your really missing out. I don't care if that's the only potato he grows from now on. We're still eating from our storage of potatoes.

Another new thing we tried was the Mulch method of gardening. I highly recommend it! It really cut down on the weeds. Not completely mind you. Some still pop up, but it was a back saver. What we did was when we planted a plant we surrounded them with mulch heavily. With direct seeding we mulched the edges of the row. When the sprouts came up & were big enough we added more mulch to surround the plant. We mainly used chopped up straw, grass clippings & leaves. Dad gave us an old sweeper attachment for the lawn tractor. Whenever Cletus cut the grass he'd dump the clippings on the garden & spread them out. It wasn't long before the entire garden was mulched. I'm really glad we did it cause
even with the drought we didn't have to water much. The mulch will also compost right there in the garden to make this years' soil much richer.

I don't know what in the world happened to the Broccoli. We direct seeded them & everything went fine. They grew & then grew some more. Those plants got to be 3 feet tall! I didn't know Broccoli grew so tall. But despite the tall healthy plants, they didn't produce not one head. It was very perplexing. If any one can tell me what I did wrong I'd sure appreciate it. I'm sure all the energy & nutrients went into making the plants grow instead of forming heads. I just didn't know what to do about it.

Well, that's enough about the past. It's time to plan for this year & learn from past mistakes.

Happy Diggin' Ya'll