Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hands Clean


I read an interesting article the other day that I wanted to share with ya'll.  It was one of those things that, when I saw it, I was like, 'DUH, why haven't I ever thought of doing that!'  I found it on a great website that offers lots of tips on reducing waste of various types.  Now, before any non-greenies reading this roll your eyes and run off to look at something else, many of their tips are good for, not only the environment, but just flat saving money or protecting your own health.  Such as this article.  Even if you are not concerned with the environment, and shame on you btw if you're not (lol!), it's a great way to avoid flu germs, etc. in public places.  Basically, you keep a small towel in your purse, or vehicle for you guys, and take it in with you to restaurants, stores etc, where you might wash your hands.  Instead of using the paper towels or hand dryers in the restrooms, just use your own personal towel.  I personally HATE those dryers and always feel guilty for using paper towels.  It won't be wet enough to mess up anything in your purse but you can slip it in a baggy or such if you want.  Then just throw it in the laundry when you get home and replace with a clean one.  I think a decent washcloth would work fine but if you are feeling really crafty you could sew up a few simple cloths to use.  I'm thinking you could also buy one of those hair-drying towels and then cut it up into quarters.  They are designed to absorb lots of water and dry quickly.  Anything about 10x10 inches would be small enough to fit in almost any purse, even mine!  The health benefit is that it reduces the number of surfaces you touch in public spaces, thus reducing chances of picking up germs.  And, last but not least, it saves using so many paper towels, which usually come from trees!!
I got my towel, now you get yours!!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Scuttle Buttin'


Poor, sweet little Willie (Willamina); her luck has been runnin' about on par with mine for most of her little chicken life.  Ya'll may remember when I posted this picture of her relaxing by the wood stove.  She is THE low hen on the totem pole and she always stays to herself to just avoid getting pecked so much.  Even so, she always seems so happy and had the most beautiful, upright tailfeathers of all the Speckled Sussex.  Although she was always the bottom rung on the ladder, so to speak, she never went around in a cowered position like a lot of hens do.  No sir, she strutted her little independent self around with that banner of a tail standing stock straight up in the air.  She knows she is different but she is still proud.
 

 Unfortunately, I think her inclination to stay by herself probably made her a target of the ol' local fox, something I had worried about and he jumped her near the wood line the other morning.  By some strange coincidence I had just opened the window on that side of the house to talk to the chickens and saw the commotion. (I had not heard anything)  Once again I started screaming and running out into the yard in my sock feet.  It must have been enough because by the time I got down to the garden Willie met me running as fast as her little 6 toes would carry her, heading in the other direction.  I ran after the fox, not sure what I was going to do since I had not taken the time to get a weapon, but I was going to scare it if I could.  After that it took about 30 minutes of searching but I finally found Willie cowering by the propane tank, a pool of blood around her.  My heart sank.  She was one of my favorites.


Luck, or something, was with us that day though because we brought her in and after quite some time of touch and go first-aid, finally managed to get the bleeding to stop for good.  She had a pretty serious gash on her cheek that would open back up if you looked at it too hard but between the liquid bandage and natural clotting it quit and I was much relieved.  She did loose that beautiful tail though.  She is practically bald on her back side and just has those 3 little crumpled feathers left.  We put her in my studio in a big pet carrier with plenty of soft towels and food but for a while she seemed so dejected.  She would eat, which is good, but she let her wings just drag on the floor and would not, or could not, say a peep to me.  By the afternoon though she was some better and holding her wings up a little, drinking lots of water and if I leaned close to her she would chatter real low to me.
I know in the homesteading world I probably failed miserably on this one.  See, Willie is kinda different in that she has never laid an egg as far as I know.  I believe she may be barren.  All her sisters are laying quite well at this point.  So, she's not worth much to most people.  Most would have put her in the freezer before now I suppose, and I guess economically that would be the best thing.  Certainly not put any effort into saving a barren, odd, little hen.  But she is messed up like me.  A peculiar little thing that is still proud to be herself and doesn't bow to the bossy hens; just gives them a wide berth and goes on her way.  I have learned that Speckles are also characteristically VERY loud, but she's not.  She is so mild and sweet and she does have worth to me because she eats bugs and poops!  Both still valuable commodities.  So, call me a softie but I'll do all I can to help her and see she has a long life here.  We moved her down to the Goober Chicken Memorial Pen where she has her own little suite and yard to go out into.  I noticed though today, that she is still a little scared to go out by herself but if I sit in the yard she will happily come out and scratch around.  She is safe in that yard because it is completely fenced but she doesn't understand that.  She understands if she sees me with her though.


To wrap up (so to speak) I did want to show a few things that I have found to be invaluable recently.  With all the crap of this month I have become more of an authority on chicken first aid, although I think this would work on many animals.  As you might imagine, doctoring a squirming chicken can be a challenge, much less getting a Band-Aid on one!  First, we keep plenty of iodine around.  It is an extreme disinfectant and if you've ever had surgery of any kind you'll know they douse you in it practically.  I also keep several very soft artist's brushes, like watercolor brushes, and it works very well to kinda mop the iodine on wounds with those.  They are designed to hold liquid and you don't have to be very accurate when swabbing a wound with one of them.  We also keep a couple of bottles of liquid bandage.  This requires a little more accuracy but you can still blob it on wounds where there is no way you are going to get a bandage on.  I've used it to stop bleeding on cut or pecked open combs, feet and Willie's cheek.  I've also used it on myself.  It does sting a little because it also has an antiseptic in it, so they will squirm a little, but if you can put a towel over their head or such that helps them be still.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Renew


 Once again I come to ya'll with the tired ol' excuse of  "well, I really meant to post again before now!" LOL!  I really did have good intentions and actually had something to write about but stuff just kept coming up and today has been especially long.  I'll get into that in another post.
At any rate,  I did have something I wanted to write about so we'll get on to that.  And yeah, I finally got this orchid to bloom again after 2 years of barrenness!  Yay me!!
I think ya'll may have gotten the idea that for the past oohh, 6 months I had been discouraged about continuing this blog and you would be right if you did have that idea.  I really couldn't put my finger on why exactly; I enjoy writing, even if just for myself and I still felt the urge to continue blogging in the back of my mind.  So, I rolled this over in my head for some time and then finally got distracted by all the crap happenings of this year.  As is usually the case, the answer then came to me after I quit thinking about it.  I've always been pretty fortunate to have supportive readers on this blog and rarely get the "trolls" that I have seen, or at least heard about, on other blogs.  I also publish all comments; I don't censor like some bloggers, so if someone is ugly to me, everybody sees it.  However, I seem to attract trolls in real life, some pretty nasty ones, and I guess I had just gotten kinda tired of being beat upon for advocating the hideous ideas of recycling, growing your own food, non-consumerism, independence etc. etc.  It seemed like every time I turned around someone was calling me an elitist, a snob, delusional, cruel and scary.  Now, I know I'm supposed to be Ms. Strongly Willed and Super Liberated Woman but sometimes anybody can get discouraged.  I have very few friends (in real time) that live like I do AND hold certain personal beliefs.  I know lots that beat me hands down on environmentalism etc. but we hit a wall on matters of faith.  I don't care what people believe in that regard but many today kinda sneer at anything that even resembles Christianity or a faith and can't resist giving their opinion on the subject.  For example, I had someone who I thought was a friend, tell me I had a mental neurosis because I choose to believe in God.  That was just uncalled for.  And conversely, most religious people I know find my lack of consumerism and recycling to be well,,, stupid..  Yes, I know lots of people who don't mind others with differences, thank goodness, but many people today apparently love to attack anyone who doesn't agree with them.  Our society fosters that type behavior in my opinion.  I think a lot of things I encounter also are the result of people assuming that because I hold myself to a high standard on my art, house and such that I will actually look down on anyone that doesn't fit my guidelines or do things the way I would!  Yes, I wish more people saw the importance of good local food (for example) but I really couldn't care less as far as treating people decently.  I simply feel that if I claim to believe in something I better back it up with action or my "beliefs" are not worth a hill of beans. So, I said all that to say I had just gotten sick of the BS.  Just figured it would be best to quietly live my life like I want to and keep my BIG mouth shut.
Then, lo and behold this week I was making my blog rounds and saw several other posts about the importance of people interested in the same things that I am sticking together.  For the exact reason that real life can be...discouraging, shall we say, "weird" homesteading/ sufficiency bloggers must stick together and provide an environment that fosters our ideas and lifestyles.  Green living and that sort of thing is becoming more and more popular but, by and large, we that actually attempt it to any real degree are still waaayy in the minority and often ridiculed in 'real life'.  Now, as I have been told, there are much better references, blogs, etc. for info on gardening, green living etc than my blog but hey!  I'm in there!  I have a few ideas and experience and I have a renewed desire to show how I do things and encourage others to step away from the box.  To realize that you don't have to live like most of society, if you don't want to, and that there are others out here that share those ideas.  That there is a real, ultimately fulfilling, rich life contained in simple living.
So, I will endeavor to persevere, as Jack likes to say, and extra brownie points to anybody that can tell me where that saying comes from! LOL!  And don't worry, I still intend to post about just the silly things in life and maybe some old work stories, travel and stuff like that.  Even though I'm an ol' married woman now I still have some fun stories to tell.  Speaking of such though, I have noticed I have a number of new followers lately so if anybody has any questions about any part of my house, gardens, animals etc. or would like me to post on any particular subject please feel free to speak up.  I welcome all comments (even anonymous ones!), suggestions for posts and all that and really do try to respond to all.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Munchies






OK!!  I'm finally getting around to putting up the turkey/ chicken pot pie recipe I promised ya'll.  Now, in looking back at what recipe I used for this I realized that I substituted and/ or improvised quite a lot, so I'm just gonna give you the basics here.  You can use whatever mixture of veggies you prefer and whatever meat you prefer really.  The only thing set in this recipe is the size, the crust and the broth.

Now, I took the leftover turkey and diced it up so I had probably 5-6 cups of meat or so.  You could use a whole fryer size chicken if you want.  Bake or boil it and debone.  My turkey was already baked so I chopped it up (about 1x.5 inch chunks) and set aside.  I took the bones and giblets and made my own broth.  Remove the bones etc. and strain if you want and then pour back into the pot.  I used a combination of potatoes, carrots, onions and mushrooms that I had diced.  It probably was about 5-6 cups of veggies also.  Add these to the broth and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Drain veggies and reserve at least one quart of broth.  Set both aside.

While your veggies are simmering, mix 3 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt.  Cut in 1 1/4 cups shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.  This seemed like a lot of shortening to me but it comes out really yummy!  Stir in enough ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to moisten dry ingredients and you can work it into a ball.  Cut off 2/3 of dough and chill remaining 1/3.  Roll the 2/3 of dough into a 16x12" rectangle, or there abouts, and fit into the bottom and sides of a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.  Set aside.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan on low heat.  Add 1/2 cup flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Gradually add broth, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly.  Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and whatever other spices you might like.  (I usually add a little parsley, paprika and some garlic).  Add diced meat and veggies to this, mix well and pour into pastry-lined pan.

Roll remaining chilled pastry into a 14x10 inch rectangle and layover pie, folding edges under.  Cut several slits in dough for steam to escape.  You can also brush with melted butter if you like.  Bake 400 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes.

I think Jack and I made 3 full separate meals off this one pie so it makes quite a lot.  Add a simple salad with it and it goes further.  Any veggies work really; you can also use broccoli, celery, peas, green beans, rutabaga, whatever!
The main part that I would consistently hold to is the amount of broth, (I hate a dry pot pie and this one was yummy juicy but not overly runny) and the pastry proportions.  The crust was wonderfully tender and flaky.  I also use a non-hydrogenated, organic vegetable shortening but that's up to you.

If you try this recipe please let me know how you like it and what improvements you might add.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snow


Well, we finally did get some snow!  I really had my doubts because it just kept raining but the temps dropped suddenly after noon and then it started snowing!  At times it got very heavy.  I tried to capture that in the photos but it never comes out that well.  It took it a long time to begin to accumulate because there was so much water everywhere still.


The higher areas had much more accumulation naturally; no standing water.  Chigger and I went out for a long walk.  It was nice but it wore me out.  I get times where I feel pretty good but if I do much I get really tired.  Just another wonderful effect of shingles.  Bleh.


We ended up getting about 3 inches maybe.  Not squat really but it was fun while it lasted.  The sun actually came out the next day and pretty much all of it has melted now.  We are supposed to have sunny, dry weather for the next several days and I really hope we do.  We really need it to dry out around here.


Chigger really enjoys the snow but I think she is happy with the sunshine and warmer weather too.  She and the chickens have been sunning themselves often the past few days.  It's kinda unnerving, after the hawk attack, to go outside and see a bunch of chickens and the dog laying flat out on the ground like they are dead!  But, after the first couple of times I realized what they are doing and it's kinda funny.  I admit I found a dry spot to sit and soak up some sunshine myself!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When It Rains It Pours


Our annual winter rains began earlier in the week and hopefully, will end soon.  Just as I hope my run of personal misfortune ends soon.  I would have sworn to you that this rains only occur in the spring, March, April etc. but after checking back through the blog I see that it is actually right on schedule.  And exactly in line with Alabama weather, we are expecting snow tomorrow!  As I heard someone say once, Welcome to Alabama! Bring your whole wardrobe!


I must say the whole blog thing is handy for checking your memory if nothing else and I find more often than not that my memory is the one that is faulty.  There have been several times over the years here that I would have sworn to you that such and such happened but after going back and reading the actual account.......well, okay, so it wasn't quite the way I remembered it.  I have read numerous studies over time about just how faulty the human memory is and so influenced by our own personal beliefs and this blog has proven that to me more than once!


I've been a little worried that the chickens would get a little too close to this flowing water and be swept away but so far they are okay.  Well, safe from the water anyway.  I heard an awful screaming going on today and ran outside to see a hawk pinning one of my babies down on the ground.  I screamed profanities at him and ran out in the yard in my sock feet.  He finally flew away and I was astounded to see the chicken jump up and run towards me, diving under the deck for cover.  I was sure she was already dead.  She did suffer some serious cuts and tears but she was alive, albeit missing a good percentage of her butt feathers.


They refuse to stay out of this rainy weather but do hide under my truck during the worst of the downpours.  I am anxious to see what they think of the snow!
Oh, to JMD, yes, we are getting a fair number of eggs right now; around 8-10 a day.  Some of them are still kinda small but they are getting bigger.


And in keeping with all the wet, miserable gloom I have now developed a nice case of the shingles to go along with all the other crap of this new year.  I didn't catch chicken pox until I was an adult and Jack is not sure if he has ever had it, so I can't even mitigate my misery by snuggling with him for fear I will give him the pox.  I don't think I would wish shingles on my worst enemy.  It is very painful.  But, I guess on the bright side, my rash is fairly small and only on my shoulder area.


Only poor Scooter looked as miserable as I feel.  Not much is sadder looking than a soaking wet chicken with a gapped up head.


Well, I suppose I have vented enough for this post.  Maybe I'll be back tomorrow or the next day with some pretty snow pictures!!  Or maybe I'll just hide in bed for the next week.  It's a toss up!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Carry On


Well, I've been trying to come up with a decent post to counteract the past few but honestly, things still aren't going that well.  I'm sorry for all the downer posts and I suppose I shouldn't even try to post much of anything until things improve but I wanted to put something up that didn't contain some horrible information.  I thought I'd just put up a few photos but I've even had trouble finding anything interesting to photograph due to the terribly dreary, rainy weather we have had for countless days lately.  So, you get chicken pictures!
The ladies, at least, are doing well and I sold one more rooster for a decent price so now we have only the one, Gaucho, and the girls are much relieved.


We've been having one of our southern warm spells so the garden has been doing well.  I've harvested all the main heads from the broccoli so they are now putting out the side shoots.  With 16 plants I can harvest enough side shoots at once to make a dinner for me and Jack.  The chickens did get in the garden the other day, somehow, and ate about 1/3 of the bok choy before I discovered them but that's okay.  I had been giving them a head every other day anyway so they would have more greens.


Chigger and I have been going on many walks lately, even in the rain sometimes.  I am very, very ready for spring to be here.  I lost my enthusiasm for the Christmas season so we cut that all short and took everything down well before Epiphany and I'm actually cooking our New Year's meal today, because that got put off too.  After this, I am ready for a new season; ready for springtime!  However, the rain is coming back and they are predicting showers and storms for the next 3 or 4 days.  And the cold is coming back too.  I wish we could at least get a little snow if it's not going to be spring.

So, life marches on and I limp along behind it until I can catch my breath and get to feeling better.  Jack and I took a little road trip to Atlanta the other day to pick up a load a clay and other supplies, so we have been getting out some.  I also bought a nice book on landscaping and have been pouring over that, planning some of the final gardens, walks, patios and such around the house.  Life will improve again but sometimes it just takes a while for the sun to come back out.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Good-Bye Sweet Friend Part 2

I sincerely had intended to post again before now on a bit lighter note than I left ya'll, but it hasn't quite turned out that way.  I feel like in retaliation for all the joys of 2012 the new year of 2013 has decided to kick the living shit out of me.  At least for the first little bit.  I found out this past Saturday evening that a friend had passed away unexpectedly.  Really, I was more friends with her husband, as we worked together, but she was a dear, sweet lady that never seemed to meet a stranger.  They had even attended my wedding; I laughed that she seemed just as excited as I was that day.  But the true tragedy is that this exuberant, ever-smiling lady found herself in enough despair to take her own life.  I mourn for her but my heart aches for her husband and children left behind, because you all know that I know, all too well, that horror.  Please say a prayer for these people if you are inclined that way.

I will be back soon and on a better note I promise.  Just sorta had the wind knocked out of my sails lately.  I haven't forgotten about the pot pie recipe either!  I'll post it soon.
And hug your loved ones for me please.

P.S.  thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your so kind comments and emails about Grendal.  It really did help me feel some better.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Good-Bye Sweet Friend


This is, without a doubt, going to be the hardest post I've ever had to write, but I have to just go ahead and get it over with.  Ya'll know Grendal had been sick lately, with what the vet said was asthma, but it turned out to be a bit more serious than that and she passed away at 2:30 a.m. on the first day of this new year.  After I had taken her to the doctor back in December she did seem to improve somewhat but I noticed that by Christmas her breathing was somewhat labored again but she was still eating and all, just sleeping a lot.  I was giving her some natural asthma meds and tried a little Benedryl too, which did seem to help some.  She got a bit of an appetite after taking that.  By Sunday though, she was refusing most food and water and wouldn't get up much.  I gave her a tad more Benedryl and a little respiratory antibiotic I had and early Monday she was up and moving around, so I thought perhaps it was bronchitis or pneumonia, something that could be cured.  I had to take her to another vet because the one I had been using was still closed for remodeling but they were very kind and saw her immediately.  The look on the doctor's face when I told him how she was acting did not indicate good news however.  A couple of X-rays later and it was confirmed to him that she probably had FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) which there is no cure for.  There is no real test for it either, nor a vaccine but he said if he could draw some of the fluid off her chest it would help him diagnose it further and help her breathe, so I said okay.  They drew off a fair amount and it did seem to help her.  It also confirmed his diagnosis.  He was very kind and honest and I appreciated that.  He gave her a shot that he said would help make her more comfortable and he seemed to think she might have some time, maybe a few weeks.  So, I went from thinking it was maybe an infection from asthma to being told she only had a short time to live.
I took her home and she did seem to feel a little better, even eating and drinking a good bit right away but in a couple of hours her breathing was very hard again.  By this time the vet was closed again and wouldn't reopen until today.  We tried to make her as comfortable as we could and she didn't seem to be in pain, just breathing hard.  But I know that in itself is uncomfortable.  Around midnight she didn't want to lay in her bed anymore but wanted to be on the floor, so I got a pillow and laid on the floor with her.  She always seemed to enjoy that.  I talked to her and assured her if she felt it was time to go that I would be okay.  I told her she had done a good job of looking after me those many years I was single but I had Jack now and she didn't need to worry.  She could go rest if she wanted to.  I don't feel I gave up on her but was simply willing to trade her discomfort for mine.  About 2 hours later she was gone.


I know many people don't care for cats or understand how people can get very attached to pets but she was something else.  She was not really a pet but really like a friend.  Never a time that I was sick and in bed that she was not right there beside me the whole time. 


I guess in a lot of ways, she was much like me too.  She could be a grumpy ol' turd if you got too close to her tail and she did not care for other animals at all.  But she was a better person than a lot of humans I know, and though never a pushy or demanding cat, she welcomed everybody that came into the house.


She was never a great hunter cat and had gotten kinda pudgy over the years but she always kept her manners.  She was a southern cat after all, you know.  She always amazed the people at the vet clinics, the few times she had to go, because she never freaked out or got upset being in a place like that.  They were always delighted at how she would just sit calmly on the exam table and "chat" with the doctor when he talked to her.  She was better at taking shots than me even!


Even with me, she would always "ask" to get on the couch with me.  She would wait patiently on the floor until I noticed her and asked her to come sit with me.  Or she might poke me gently with her paw to get my attention.


We buried her behind the house, under the dogwoods and ferns.  It's a cool, peaceful place and in the spring I'll plant some catnip beside her grave.  She loved her some catnip.




So, good-bye sweet friend.  I miss you terribly but I am glad you can rest now.