Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Then and Now

I started most of our garden from seed this year. Here were our lovely pepper plants at the end of May. I planted them in the garden and they were doing well.
Now they look like this. The ducks found them. I should have realized ducks eat everything green.

So, now the ducks are behind chain link fence and I think they are going to be invited to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.
Luckily they don't like tomatoes. Here were our tomato plants at the end of May,
and here they are today. They are loaded with lots of tomatoes, but none are ripe yet. I am excited to see all sizes and shapes. I have no idea what I planted as I bought one seed packet that was labeled "the best of the show" and the other was "heirlooms". I love a good surprise.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rubbing Elbows

The *hunting clients got a kick out of my redneck sign (which was my intention) and had Mark and Eric pose carrying it Sherpa style so they could get a photo. They seemed to be having a good time. It might have been the local micro brews or it might have been the change of pace and lifestyle. We are pretty sure they are gizillionaires or something.

They flew in on their own private jet. The pilot came to the ranch too and he has to enjoy his job. Another, while now retired, is part owner of a very well known company. The other has a large commercial construction business. He was the one with the plane and pilot. And they all seemed to have homes and properties in numerous places.

I only met them under a blanket of stars on a warm summer night. Couldn't even tell you what they looked like or what age they were. We were waiting for the recently killed buck to be brought up the hill. They seemed very nice. Good vibe. Mark spent a little more time with them and enjoyed their company very much. Eric and Jo said they were the nicest clients ever. Of course, it might be because they were invited to come visit sometime at the lodge one has on a ski resort somewhere in Colorado. But I think not.

Rubbing elbow with the rich makes one realize that people are people. There are nice ones and bad ones in all the economic brackets.

I talked with my daughter-in-law, Jo, a bit about what it might be like to be rich. Her response, "Look out the window. We are rich!"

Amen to that.

*This is Eric's second season working for Arrow 5 Outfitters, who specialize in bow hunting. They offer hunts here on the North Coast as well as some parts of the southwest and Mexico.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Uncle Jerry and Aunt Rosie

My uncle and aunt and their DIL rolled into town to check out the ranch and the local car show. My cousin, Harvey, who I hadn't seen in years was here showing his car. My uncle and aunt still travel around a lot and are an inspiration on how to age gracefully.

My uncle at 80 drives better than me and doesn't seem to mind the 8 hour drive to get here. My aunt and uncle were the only ones in our extended families to come to last years reception for Eric and Jo. That means a lot to us and we really enjoy their company too. They are a kick in the pants and know how to have fun.
My uncle began playing saxophone as an adolescent and played with adult dance bands at 13. My grandma had to travel around with him. Later he was drafted and the army put him in the band. He traveled all over the Europe playing in a band. After the war he was offered a job with Les Brown, but turned it down to become a butcher. He said life on the road wasn't a life for a family man. My aunt appreciated it. They raised 4 children. My aunt worked at the elementary school as an aide and then later in the library. While she may have retired, she hasn't given up trying out new things. Here she is trying out a hammock for the very first time. It looks like she liked it and she told my uncle they needed one for their backyard.
We really enjoyed our family visiting and the stories we shared of days gone by. My cousin and I decided we need to plan a heritage tour to St. George in the Azores, and my aunt piped in saying that she was ready to go too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our Meat and Potatoes

With alfalfa at $300 plus a ton we decided to buy more grass bales this year. The grass hay cost us $100 a ton. We also downsized our cattle herd, because the price is good, and I felt our land had been grazed a little too hard in the last few years. Although, really it is the 9 horses that often seem hardest on it. Our goal is to get to 6 horses before the winter rains, but it is hard letting go of the horses.
I dug some of the potatoes this week. Some of the vines hadn't died down yet, so I will have more digging in a week or so. We love fresh potatoes and we keep them in our basement, so they store pretty well too. I did discover that the beds planted with seed potatoes did about 3 times better than the potatoes that I saved.

Still butchering chickens. A few weeks ago, one of my joints in my right hand became inflamed and it still is hurting. It appears to be arthritis! YIKES. It has really slowed my down with the chicken harvest. I do about 4 chickens every other day or so. My hand can't take anymore. Aspirin helps, but geez, I don't want to be popping those everyday.

This year I ordered some special chicken freezer bags and found that submerging the filled bags in water takes most of the air out.

A few years ago while we were in Mexico we bought barbecued chicken that were split down the breasts like this. They were great, so some of our chickens I prepared this way. It really made it easy to clean the insides.

I always soak my chickens in a little salted water for about 10 or 15 minutes as it helps remove blood and makes them look extra clean.

I couldn't resist posting one grisly photo.

I actually string up a line and hang about 4 chickens at a time on it and then thank them for their life as I quickly cut off their heads. It is the hardest part for me, but then I think that every piece of meat any of us eat was once living and was killed. I feel that it is important for meat eaters to think about this and appreciate the life that died to give you nutrition and to also make sure and not waste it.

If you are interested< Check out this post for more detailed instructions on home butchering of chickens.

Let Us Hike Over Yonder

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Update

Bow season starts this weekend and Eric the Bold has been busy putting up tree stands and watching the patterns of the bucks as he has clients coming. Mark has been hauling some lovely grass hay from the Tooby Park. I have been busy chopping off chicken heads and eating all the wonderful goodies Jo has been baking with all of the black cap raspberries she's been picking. Yes, I do wash my hands. And we've had rain and cold weather. Very strange for summer. I think I just need to forget the garden this year. It ain't happening. At least not much.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Inside our Home

Last Monday I gave you a look at the outside of our home. This week I thought I would give you a look at the inside. Kind of strange maybe, but I thought that you might find it interesting.

This house was built in the 30's by a man named Rossi. Well, he probably didn't do the work, but had it done. I really don't know. I believe his first name was Joe. The house itself has had very little updates and has weathered the years very well.

When you come up the brick steps and enter through the front door this is what you see. When we moved in we redid these wood floors.

Yes, we have a hammock in the dining room. Great place to read and watch the sunsets.

The kitchen was updated by a caretaker during the late 70's. I would like to resurface the counter tops, but can't decide what would be 30's era appropriate. The laminate floors were done by Mark's parents sometime in the 80's.

This is the breakfast nook. The french doors go out onto a deck.

This is the laundry room and behind the little door is our pantry. There is an amazing big sky light over this room. Even on the darkest day in winter you don't need a light in here during the day.

I love this bathroom and its bold color. The toilet and the shower each have their own little room with cool glass and metal doors. They are along the wall to the left. We recently had to redo the shower pan, but otherwise all of the fixtures are original and still working.

From the bathroom (there are no halls in this house) you step into the vanity room. I originally thought this room was a bit odd, but I love it and use it everyday.

From the vanity you enter both bedrooms. This is the guest bedroom, although because it has a propane heater, Mark and I tend to make it our winter room.

There is no door from the vanity into the master bedroom. While we hope to someday fashion one for the arched entry, at this time I have a curtain. We also refinished these floors. We love the old wood floors.

From our room you reenter the living room and are back at the front door. The house is basically a square with the washroom in the middle. A bit odd perhaps but we love it. It has lots of light and terrific views. Thank you for visiting. Come again.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cornish Cross Meat Chickens at 6 Weeks

Are you getting tired of seeing our meat birds yet? I am. Soon I will no longer have to look at them as they are destined for our freezer.
Here is a bird at 6 weeks. Each bird is a good two handfuls now.

It is hard to believe that 6 weeks ago they were adorable little puff balls.
Then at 2 weeks:

Then awkward adolescents at 4:

By the 8 week mark most of them should be harvested. My plan is to do some each week starting tomorrow.

This last 2 weeks they ate 160 pounds of food. That puts the total for 29 birds at 285 pounds. Each bag of organic food costs 24.15 for 40 pounds. So, each bird has ingested (so far) a little under 10 pounds of food. Including the shipping, each bird was 2 bucks. To my calculations that puts us 8 dollars in for each bird, not counting the energy costs to keep their heat lamp on for the first 4 weeks. It seemed like pretty pricey chicken until we traded some beef for an organic chicken at the farmers market. It was priced at $26.00. Now, our birds seem thrifty. The main reason we raise our own though is that we feel better knowing where are meat comes from and how it has been fed and handled.

By the way, some of these meat birds have gotten bold and taken to going outside each day to take in the sun's rays and peck at the bugs. Of course, many of them just sit in the opening lazing around.

To see a previous year's old fashioned harvest click on this oldie. I have to tell you though.... It is not for the faint of heart.