Saturday, September 26, 2015


After declaring the green beans in the garden "done" for about the 3rd time, De and I spent some time today picking green beans.  I'd like to say the beans are now really done, but since we're leaving quite a few on to dry, I suppose I can't even say that until they are done producing, all dry, and the pods have been harvested for shelling.

De and I have been talking about how the hens seemed to be slowing down on egg laying this week, and whether or not we needed to start thinking about working in some replacement hens.  It seems a little early for this, but we knew when we picked them out that the Red Stars would lay like the dickens for a couple of years and then taper off very quickly.  Ours a few months short of two, so it's probably time to make plans either way.

As we were picking beans, De noticed something under one of the trellises.
So what's that under the trellis?

Is that what I think it is?

You gotta be kidding me!

So that why we haven't been getting all the we eggs we should be!!
Sure enough - six eggs in all hidden under the trellis.  All of them tested good, so we suspect they are less than a week old. We checked the other three trellises with no results, but we have growing suspicions there is a similar surprise awaiting us in the barn.  We looked twice with no 'finds' but the barn is currently in a bit of an 'overstocked' state with lots of nooks and crannies.  There may still be a surprise awaiting us.

We also picked banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, and tomatoes.  That leaves green beans, a few more peppers, beets, and a boatload of brussel sprouts, and horse radish  to finish out this year.  We did declare the tomatoes 'done', and to seal the deal we opened the gate that had been keeping the birds out.  It didn't take long for them to start taking care of the 'left-overs'.

We are at the point in the growing season where it will be OK when the garden is done.  We want to be faithful with all the produce that God has granted us, but when the season is finally finished there will be no regrets on our part.

Hopefully your gardens are both doing well and finishing up.

Col. 1:9-12,


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yep, It was time!

Fred the Rooster has been sent off to freezer camp.  In my last post I mentioned the final straw was that he was getting to be a bit of a bully with De, the kids and the grandkids, so we set the date and off he went.  But not before K, our neighbor who loves all our animals to a fault, told me yesterday that Fred got into her a couple of days ago as she was helping a couple of our hens out of her yard.  And M, my sister-in-law who lives a 1/2 mile down the road, told us Tuesday that Fred chased one of her friends who was out running as she ran by our property while the hens were down next to the road.  Yep - It was time. 

My brother-in-law, who has butchered out chickens fairly regularly, walked my son (who had come home for the learning experience) and I through the whole thing.  We skinned rather than plucked and ended up with more meat than we expected.  He was something like 16 months old, so we don't expect the meat to be really tough, but just to be sure when the opportunity presents itself he'll go into the slow cooker with some homegrown potatoes, onions, and spices out of the herb garden.
Aug 2014
Sept 2015 - Yep, It was time.

As I mentioned in my last post, Fred was never able to 'Rooster Up' and get the top spot in the pecking order, so he was always picked on: Hen-pecked as the saying goes.  As a result, he had lost all of his beautiful tail feathers and a big part of the feathers on the very top of his head.  Yep - It was definitely time.

Lessons Learned:
  1. While Fred was, in his prime, a beautiful bird, that crown made it difficult for him to see.  Since he couldn't see the hens or people coming he startled easily and that may have contributed to his tendency to be picked on and to attack.  No more birds selected 'just for looks'.
  2. When we grow and process our own meat birds in the next year or so, we need to gear up a little better.  A killing cone would make that process easier, especially if we are doing several at time.  I also need a couple of good knives more suited to processing poultry.
On the plus side - No more worrying about Fred bullying family, friends, neighbors, visitors, and passers-by. (Yep, it was time!)

Also, the one thing I expected to miss most with Fred gone was hearing him crowing on a clear, cool morning.  That always evoked wonderful childhood memories of growing up on a working 1960s family farm with all the livestalk that came with small farms of that era.   Just in the last couple of days Ivan Crossbeak, who is about four months old and is now the rooster of the flock, has started belting out (well - squeaking out) his own call.  He's far from full-voiced but it is good enough for now.  I see that as a blessing and am very thankful for the privilege of enjoying it!  For now, we've decided to keep Ivan through one batch of chicks and see how he does.

Ivan Crossbeak - The new 'Roo' of the flock

Col. 1:9-12,


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Uh oh!! (x2)

Regular readers may remember that our Golden Polish rooster 'Fred' has spent most of his life being somewhat hen-pecked. Recently the poor ol' boy lost the last of tail feathers so now he's strutting around with his bare-nekked, hen-packed, back-side hanging out. (Uh oh! #1)  He is still doing his rooster thing, but it is just not a good situation.

Poor Fred looks a little odd from the side...

... and kinda sad from the back.

To make matters worse (for Fred) , whether it's his less-than-exalted position in the flock or just from being a rooster, he's also become a bit of a bully lately.  I have no problems with the boy unless he thinks I'm mistreating a hen but De, the daughters, and pretty much everyone else have to watch him  close or he'll come up and attack from behind.  It doesn't happen every time someone is out, but it does happen often enough that he's made himself "poultry non grata". We've gone to keeping a "Fred Stick" next to the door so folks venturing to the coop can, if they desire, tote a bit of defensive armament along.  With Ivan, the Polish-Buff Orp cross cockerel coming into his own (more on that later) we've decided it's time to send Fred to "Freezer Camp".  Since it's been something like 45 years since I've done that, I'm recruiting my sister and/or brother-in-law to tutor me.  I'm hoping this will be the week since I'm taking a week of 'vacation' away from the day job.

When Fred has made his way to land of the popsicle, Ivan will be THE GUY in the flock - maybe.  While we had big plans for Ivan to take over the roosterin' duties we discovered what may be a deal-breaker.  We were looking everyone over the other day and thought the young Ivan just didn't look right.  A closer look revealed that Ivan has a cross-beak! (Uh oh #2).

Pretty feathering and a buttercup comb.  A nice looking bird!
It's not awful, but it's sure not right.

 We're doing our homework ( among other places - we're open to other sources), but if we find that cross beak is something he's likely to pass on to his offspring it's probably a deal breaker for Ivan.  Right now the "experts" seem to be split about 50/50.  We'll keep getting opinions from 'been there - done that' folks, and decide if Ivan will eventually be joining Fred.

On a slightly different topic, I'm taking time off from the day job this week and am making big plans for work around the homestead.  I'll share what I get done as well as what I don't, so I hope get several posts out this week.

Col. 1:9-12,


Monday, September 7, 2015

It's still coming in!

So with the kids and grandkids back home for Labor Day, it was time for Gramma and Papa to get hot on catching up on the garden chores.  'Hot' is really the operative word here.  Like some of the rest you we have had unseasonably warm temperatures with what I can only describe as brutally high humidity.  While it makes the trip to the garden a bit less pleasant than it might have been, the tropical-feeling combination has done wonders for turning my green tomatoes into red ones, keeping the pole bean plants cranking out beans, growing my late-planted beets, and coercing my one decent bell pepper plant to produce.  (Odd thing is, the jalapenos and banana peppers in the very same bed, are doing great.  Happens pretty much every year.  Strange...)

De had tomatoes and cabbage from a  previous garden visit to work up, and my job for the day was to collect up the next round.  So off to the garden I went.  Or perhaps I should say "we went".  Regular readers will know I never go the garden alone.  I have a constant cadre of helpers that always are right there with me whenever I'm outside, even if I'm not really in the garden.

The "Team" wanting to help me work on the truck.

Whoops! There are some limits to the kind of help I allow.  This 'help' was short lived.

 So back to the garden.  As I mentioned before, the brutal weather is helping to get the tomatoes finished up.  We're at the stage where some of the plants are 'giving their all for the cause', but I ended up with 1-1/2 five gallon buckets full.  This year we tried "sausage" tomatoes instead of "Roma" tomatoes for sauce and like them a lot better.  They are bigger, 'beefier', and equally prolific.

The tomatoes are still producing...

...and the helpers are still a bit miffed the don't get to help with the harvest.
They do get anything that is not up to 'human consumption' as a reward for their efforts on bug patrol.

The green beans are still going well.
 The green beans are still producing quite well for being this late in our season.  The question is "What does one do when you really don't need anymore?"  That little leading questions leads me to an aside, which will likely not get mentioned very often here.  I've started another blog called "Hoosier Country Christian".  I'm currently intending it to be a source of encouragement for Christians using examples from rural living as illustration points, but (literally) God only knows what it will end up being.  I just know I feel called to write it.  I'm going to address the "having more than I need" question in the new blog and will have that post up before bedtime tonight.  I'll get a link to the new blog from this one up, too.

Fred, my poor hen-pecked rooster, is there to supervise the harvest.

As are a couple of the hens.
The chickens get to come...

... and go through the middle of the trellises.  Other than snitching the occasional blossom, they seem to be focused on the bugs.
 There were also some potatoes to dig.  I had essentially given up on them assuming they had gotten choked out by weeds.  I mowed over the area where they were planted and wrote them off.  This morning I got the urge to take the potato fork and just 'go check'.  Sure enough, there were a few potatoes.  Not a lot, but enough to take the time to dig out of the ground.  There is another illustration here for the other blog.

There is ALWAYS a 'helper' around when there worms involved.
There are more to dig, but with the heat index approaching 100F, I decided they would be fine for a cooler day.  I'm past the point in my life where I'm ready to 'go to the mat' for a few potatoes I didn't even know were there.

All in all, we got a pretty decent harvest on this hot, humid day.

Canned tomato sauce with more in the slow cooker.  Freezer slaw ready for the freezer.

Green beans, banana peppers, and a few 'bonus' potatoes.
There is more increase to come from my weedy garden.  We are blessed!!

Col. 1:9-12,


A Great Weekend!

De and I had a great weekend!  One of the nieces got married on Saturday and the whole clan was up for the event.  It was a morning wedding, 10:30 to be precise, and other than having to get a bit of an early start to get everyone up and ready it worked out well.

It had a somewhat unusual 'motif', but it was a beautiful wedding and both ministers (one from each church that the two attended) did an excellent job of working it into their messages.

The wedding party looked great, and the medieval motif was unique. 
They had a wonderful reception at the church with friends and family

 The wedding and reception consumed a good part of the day and pretty much wore everyone out.  Sunday afternoon was intended to be a quiet time for all, but twas not to be, and it was OK.

Papa went into his office intending to work on some amateur radio stuff coming up.  The girls followed and pretty soon we had some pretty serious office work going on.

Papa's two office assistants.
I had one end of my office table set up with a non-working laptop, papers, pencils and crayons, and scissors for one 'assistant', with the same set-up on a separate, smaller table for the other 'assistant'.  We got a lot done, but for some reason that radio work is still out there waiting.

The older one is learning a bit about how to tune Papa's HF radio.  Just receiving so far.  My license does all me to let her transmit as long as I'm running the station, but she's not quite ready for that yet. So far I just set it up in the region of the AM broadcast band and let her tune in whatever music she could find there.  In the future I'll set her up in the international shortwave broadcast band and let her find music and languages from cultures around the world.  Should be fun.  The younger is still more interested in crawling up on Papa's lap for help with drawing apples for her to color a bright red and pink, and getting a little help cutting them out with her scissors. 
"You have to do all the voices, Papa!"
 This was a pic from the last visit, but we did a lot of this, too. I love reading to the girls, and they love to be read to.  Like all kids that age they have their favorite books, and Papa reads them over and over again. (Except when they 'read' them to me.)

It was a great weekend for all.  They went home mid-Sunday afternoon, and Gramma and Papa crashed for the rest of the day.  There was garden work to do.  But that is another post.

Col. 1:9-12,