Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Past

This time of year I always think back on the years when I was a little boy and Santa was a belief I held onto with all my might! I am # 5 of 6 kids that my parents had to raise. So with my Mother's younger Sister also living with us, It was a full house. And at this time of year, We had all the Holiday dinners at our house! All the relatives would gather at our house early on Christmas morning and cooking would go on until the meal was all ready to be eaten!
This was the second time of the year my Father would bake his world famous pies (the first time would be Thanksgiving!). It took him 3 full days to get them all right. There was the Apple and Cherry pies of course and the Mincemeat pies (two of each!) and my favorite Lemon Margarine!! He would make two of thees also, and make a small one just for me! He also fixed the Turkey and Stuffing and the Candied Yams (with lots of Marshmallows!!). He also made up lots of cinnamon pin wheels from the left over pie crust!

This is what I see with my minds eye as I look back. And things changed not long after that. My mother was hit by a car when I was about 6 or 7 and that started a down hill battle with Pain and Drugs that tore our family apart and now we are spread across the Country and do not see much of each other anymore.

My Mother died in 1975 and we lost Dad in 2005. My oldest Sister  past in1993 and we lost my oldest Brother Danny just this past July! So nothing stays the same. But the memories of a little boy do!

My Dad was really into Photography and he took Mega pictures over the years and when he pasted, I got some boxes that were full of them. The following is a picture of my younger Sister and I telling Santa what we wanted that year! This is one of the things I remember most!
Can you tell that I wanted Santa to really hear what I wanted! Maybe I was 5 or 6 in this one.
My minds eye see life back then a lot happier then it really was. To only be that little boy again!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rain, Cold and a Chicken update

I said that I would try to get more posting done and this a step in that direction!

The past few days have been nothing but rain and cold! The sun did come out this afternoon for a little while, But the temps did not get out of the low 40's and tonight I had to let the truck warm up to get the frost off the windows so I could drive home from Terri's place. And it's just next door! But the frost was heavy enough that I ran the defroster just so I could see to get out of her drive way and into mine.

 You see I spent the day over there washing sheets and blankets and helping her get the house cleaned up for the Holidays. We also decided on the menu for Christmas dinner. There will be 12 people here for Christmas and we are going shopping for the things we need to put it all together.
The menu will be.....
Roasted Turkey,
Baked Ham,
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy,
Brussels Sprouts (done 2 ways... 1 will be Roasted Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic and  Cheese and the other will be steamed Sprouts for our friends who do not eat meat!).
Corn pudding,
Candied Sweet Potatoes,
Gallo Salad with Pecans, Cherries, Pineapple and Cottage cheese,
Parker House Rolls,
Relish Tray (Pickles, olives, Carrot sticks, Stuffed Celery and Deviled Eggs )

And desert will be....
5 or 6 different kinds of cookies, Better Then Sex Cake, Cheery Pie and 3 or 4 kinds of home made Candies.
That should let every one eat all they want and be very full and ready for a nap!

I wanted to give you an update on the Chickens. The rain has made a mess of the whole place, with standing water all over.

As you can see, Water every where. This picture was taken from the back deck \looking  to the back of the Homestead. and the area in the fore ground is the Garden area. We did not get much of a garden this year because of the rain last spring and all the weeds! There are new plans for this area come spring 2014!

Here are 7 of the 10 Girls." Cuddles" is the light colored one and the only one that has a name. She is a real sweet hart and is the only one that will let me pick her up and she will set on my lap or arm to be petted!

And here are the Eggs that I have gathered over the past 3 days! 21 washed and drying, To be placed in cartons and then into the fridge.
As I said in a previous post, The Girls had been in Moult for 76 days with no Egg laying . But on Nov 13 I got an Egg and at that time the total for the year was 1712. As of today that total is up to 1845! That's an increase of 133 Eggs! I  have plans to increase the size of the flock this Spring and to get a Rooster to allow them to set and hatch Chicks of their own. They are 20 month's old now.

So how are you doing with prep's for the Holiday!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Give-a-way

I'm so excited.... She finally did it! Leigh over at 5 Acres and a Dream has finished her book just in time for Christmas!

I have followed her Blog for a long time and she is the best! For 5 years her and Dan (her better half?) have been Homesteading and this is her story.
And she is having a "Book Give-a-way" Go to her Blog to see how you can enter. I did and I also plan to purchase a copy after Christmas (I'm sure I will get an Amazon gift card for Christmas, I always do!!). But if I get lucky, may be I will win one too! If that happens, I hope she sign it for me!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Drought is over!

But I'm Not talking about the rain. Even tho we have been getting rain for the past few days and it has been very cold.
The Drought that I'm referring too is THE EGG DROUGHT! I got my last Egg on August 29 (the total of Eggs at this point was 1711 for the year!) as the Chickens went into molt and started loosing feathers. And I have to tell you that they got to looking so bad, I though that I might be loosing them. I mean they lost the tail feathers, They lost the butt feathers and the feathers on necks and backs! Each day there would be more feathers on the floor of the Hen House and less on the Girls!
To tell you that I was concerned would be an understatement! As this is my first flock of Layers and I had done a lot of research before I got my first half dozen, I knew that they were going to stop laying at some point and I was just going to have to wait it out. And continue to feed and water them each day.
I love my Girls, But with no Eggs and the cost of feed what it is, They sure were not doing their job! I had to buy my first store Eggs and was not happy about how they looked and tasted.
And then on November 13 as I opened the Hen House, I found an Egg! Just one! But I did a HAPPY DANCE! Was this the first of more to come?
BOY HOWDY was it!
Nov. 14... One Egg
Nov. 17...3 Eggs
Nov 19... 3 eggs
And as of today... A total of 93 EGGS! I think my girls are back into production and the Drought is OVER! As of today. 1804 for the year and still 22 days left of this year, could they reach 1900! We will see! I have fresh Eggs in the fridge and I can start selling Eggs again.
Will I be adding more Chicks to the flock this spring? You bet and I will finally get them moved into the new digs as soon as I get fence put around it!
I will also be looking for a Rooster for the first time and see if They will hatch out any babies on their own. And I will be looking into an incubator to see if I can help them out some!
But I have to tell you I am so tired from all the DANCING!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone,
Just a quick post to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.
It has been cold and wet the past few days and work has been long hours away from the homestead! Yesterday I got a call to report to work at 1700. I normally work from 2130 until 0700. the reason was I had to go to Pitt County Hospital with an Inmate that had been hit in the head with a padlock and needed surgery to remove a blood clot that was putting pressure on his brain. I spent 16 hours at the hospital and got home at 0930.
Needless to say, I went to bed for a few hours, But today was our Thanksgiving and I got up at 1500 to help Terri get things ready. We finally had dinner at 1900 and after we played cards.
Now it's time to get to bed.
So I hope that you all have a great day, with plenty of food and Family!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dead Computer

OK, I know, I said I would start to post again (Way back on Sept 24th!). And fully intented to get to it.....BUT.....The Computer had other ideas. IT CRASHED two days later and it has taken for ever to get it back up! And its still not right! I need a new one. That's not going to happen any time soon.

So I will try to get this post out tonight.
The weather has been crazy and it has confused the plants and trees to no end! We had our first heavy frost a couple week ago and it killed the two volunteer  plants I had. The one near the chicken yard, I though was a summer squash plant, But it turned out to be a pumpkin plant instead. I got one good size pumpkin after the plant died back.

Yep, It's Yellow!

And the Tomato plant got hit too! But I was able to harvest over 100 grape tomato's before the frost killed it.

My heat pump has been down all summer and now that the temps are on the down side, the house is cold. Got home from work the other morning and the thermostat read 44 degrees and both dogs were shivering. I have a space heater in the bed room and that's where we spend all our time when in the house.
 It was 68 degrees today and after I got some sleep, I got some work done out side. Months ago I picked some old picket fencing that some one had dismantled and set out for the trash man. It has been laying out back for quite some time and I though today was the day to do some thing with it!

The new compost bin! There are two compartments.

And as you can see, I have started to fill it with grass clippings, Chicken bedding and house scraps. Not bad for a freebie!
Speaking of Freebies. I have been doing a lot of research on what can be done with old pallets. I have picked up a few here and there and want to do something with them. Well I have gotten some good ideas and now I have to find some place that will let me have them for free! Living out side a small town, there are not to many places I can get them here. And I have to drive about 60 miles to get near any place that might have them. Have to start looking this week!

An up date on the Chickens:
I am down to 10 layers now. The two RIR's were killed by the new dog. Izzy is a real sweet hart, but she hates Chickens! It did not help the the two lady's could not seem to be able to stay in the Chicken yard and when they would get out, They headed right to Izzy. And she thinks that they made excellent chew toys!
But the 10 I still have went into molt and I got my last egg back on Aug. 28th. At that time the total number was 1710. And I got my first egg just the other day! 76 days with no eggs! I had to buy eggs at the store for the first time in over a year! In the past week I have gotten 6 and that take the total up to 1716! I  hope to add more layers next spring and I really want a rooster so they can add to the flock on their own

Well, I guess that's it for now. Again I hope this get's published and you all get it! I will be back

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Almost done

I have had the past 3 days off from work and I got working on the back 40! As can be seen fro the pictures on the last post, A lot of weeds and grass needed to be knocked down. Well I put the new Bush Hog through it's paces and it took a day and a-half to get it done!

This is the area behind Terri's house.

And this mine. As you can see, there are a few trees the came up in the spring of 2012.. Mostly Maples and one Pine tree. It made for some tricky maneuver's with the Bush Hog!

Starting next Sunday, I will have another 3 days off and this is what I will be working on then. In that mess of grass and weeds is a stack of wood I have to get out of there and eather clean up and get undercover or burn.

This one is several bags of leaves that will get turned into the garden area.

More wood and an old brush cutter in this one!

And lastly, There is a few logs in there that need to be cut up for fire wood and stacked somewhere.
 So tonight it's back to work and sleeping during the day until Sunday.

I wanted to tell you about the new recipe that I found on line. As I'm single and do have too eat and I want a slice of cake every once in awhile, This works for me!

What you need is:  One box of Angle Food cake mix and One box of any other flavor cake mix you want.
Combine both mixes in an air tight container  mix well and when you want a slice of cake, place 3 Tablespoons cake mix and two Tablespoons of water in a microwave safe cup or bowl. mix well and microwave on high for 1 min. Check to make sure it's done (It may need another 30 sec or so) and top anyway you like. For my first batch I mix Angel food and Dutch Chocolate.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's been awhile

I know it's been awhile and I have no excuse. But after the death of my Brother, I have not felt like doing anything! His death hit me pretty hard and it was all I could do to drag myself to work each day and come home to bed! I mean I did nothing at home, Not even read any posts from you-all. But that is going to change as of today!
I was so lazy that I even stopped feeding the worms and now the worm beds are empty. Ether they moved out or died and I will have to set up new beds and order a new bunch of worms. Maybe I should change the name of the Blog?

So, the chickens are down to 10 hens and all of them are in Molt right now. So no Eggs for the past few weeks. The total of Eggs is up to 1711 for the year and I hope that they start laying again real soon!

Daisy and Izzy are doing well, but are having a problem with fleas. It seems as tho I have to give each of them a bath every other day just to stay ahead of the Dam things! And the topical oil does not seem to have any effect on them!

I did get a new Bush Hog Brush cutter and spent the day yesterday cutting down the weeds and grass in what I call the back 40. It's the back side of Terri's place and the back of mine, Maybe 2 1/2 to 3 acres total. I got half of it done yesterday and was going to work on the rest today, But we got rain last night and it was to wet to get back to it. I hope to get it done tomorrow.

I put up a new recipe of Bread and Butter pickles a while back and they came out pretty good. I took pictures of the finished pickles and how I did the whole thing. they will follow at the bottom of the post.

The garden never recovered from the heavy rain we got in early spring and the only things that produced any thing were the cantaloupes and the crows got them! But I did get a few volunteers and I have pictures of them too!

Here are the ingredients for the pickles. One pound of carrots, cut into sticks, a large onion, cut into wedges, two green peppers, cut into strips, a yellow pepper, a red pepper and a orange pepper, cut into strips and one hot pepper ( for a bite) also cut into strips.

And 3 quarts of Bread and Butter pickles. Because the garden did not produce anything this year, all are store bought.

In a gallon size jar, place a layer of the pickles, then a layer of carrots, onions and then the peppers. Cover this with a layer of sugar.

Continue to layer the ingredients and finish with a layer of sugar. the sugar reacts with the moisture of the vegetables and makes a brine. For a week set the jar on a counter and each day rotate the jar so that one day it is upside down and the next day it is right side up! Then after the week is up, place the jar in the refrigerator for  and few weeks before trying. NO COOKING!

Here is the mess I have to get taken care of this week end.

And the one volunteer cantaloupe that the crows have not found yet! I need to place a flower pot over it to keep them out of that bed!

And a tomato plant that has come up neer where we store trash bags util I can get them gone. I have harvested several grape tomatoes from this plant

See the ripe ones? They are great in salads!

And the squash plant plant that has come up neer the chicken yard!

It has two fruits coming on.

And I hope it has enough time to mature before the cold weather hits!

More of the mess I have to take of.

And the new Bush Hog that I will use to get it done

And because of last night rain, This opened up this morning! There are more buds on the two plants and I hope to see more open over the next few days

Well there you have it! Again I'm sorry for the time have not been here and I hope to get back into the swing of things from here on out!
Talk to you later!

Friday, July 26, 2013

No e-mail

A long with every thing that has been going on here, now I can not get into my e-mail account! Just set up an alternate e-mail account at G-mail., If your interested.
Also can't seem to be able to reply to comments either. So for Spider and Susan (if you read this), Thanks for the kind words about my Brother!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Brother lost!

Hey Every one,
This past Saturday my older Brother Dan passed away and I have been trying to figure a way to get out to California for his memorial. But it's just not possible! The cost of the round trip flight is just not in the budget. I have been off work for the past 3 days, and that is all the time I can get for this.
Dan was 70 (71 in October) and has had some health issues the past few years. In May he was placed in a nursing home and and was doing better, but early Saturday morning I got the call and was shocked by the news!
I will miss him!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rain,Rain and internet problems

Hey Everyone,
While other parts of the country are getting no rain and dealing with fires, we have had a very wet summer! So much so that the garden is under water most of the time! The only things that are still trying to grow are 3 sweet potato plants and a few cantalopes. I have to come up with a way to get the raised beds up off the ground and out of the water.
In the past 10 days we have had 3 days of heavy rains, then 2 days of late afternoon thunder storms, followed by 5 days of showers! The only thing that does not mind the exsess is the grass and weeds. Yesterday was a day of cutting grass and it was still so wet that the mower mostly just knocked it down.

And I have been having major problems with the internet! I went to a new server in May and it never worked right. Well yesterday a Tech came out and replaced all the lines and installed a new router. And that seems to have taken care of the problems (I hope!).

An update on the Chickens....
They are now over a year old and some of them are mollting, so egg production has gone down. I will sometimes get as many as 5 one day and then get 1 the next. But the total number of Eggs sence Jan 1 is 1459! And they are still living in the getto, as the weather has not helped me get a new fence around the new Hen House. I have a few day vacation comeing up in Aug. and hope to get them moved then.

But I just wanted to get a short post in to let you all know that I'm still here!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Birtday Weekend

I took two days vacation and my regular two days off to have a 4 day weekend. How often do you get to celebrate 60?
So the weekend started Wednesday and I slept most of the day after getting home from work. We watched the ball game (Dodgers and Diamondbacks) and had a simple dinner of leftovers. I had a few beers too.
Thursday was very hot. But Terri and I went to the store and got all the food I wanted for Saturday. And I got some steaks for that nights dinner. It was so hot and muggy that all we wanted to do was get the food in the house and stay in the A.C. Early that evening a summer storm came through with high winds and heavy rain, But it was moving so fast that it did not take it long to move through and out to sea Temps dropped about 15 - 20 degrees in less then 30 min. I took a few pictures

Cooler temps and amazing colors!

 I was able to grill the steaks and get some roasted veggies in the oven. And had a few more beers!

Friday was a pretty day and it only got up to the high 70's with a breeze. My Son Gerry and our friend  Lisa came down and helped with the food preps. Saturday's menu
Grilled Burgers, Hot Dogs and Knackwurst
Potato Salad
Carrot Salad with Raisins and Pineapple
 Veggie tray
 Fruit tray
Terri's Cowboy Beans
Cheese tray
Three kinds of Dip
Corn on the Cob
Chocolate Brownies
And a Chocolate Peanut Butter pie! 
And A lot of Beer!

We all slept in late Saturday Morning and had a late Breakfast of:
Oatmeal Pancakes with fresh Blueberry Sauce
Bacon and Eggs

We played board games and Card games all afternoon!
We moved the party out side in the evening and had a great time!
I started a fire in the fire place and of course there was more BEER!

Today is Sunday and that means back to work tonight.
So I'm 60 now and life goes on.
It was a good weekend and I got myself the shop delivered and will be working on it in the future.



Sunday, June 9, 2013


Last Thursday, Terri and I spent the day building a few raised beds and getting them set up in the new garden area. We even got some of them filled and planted. Tomatoes, Summer Squash and Cucumbers. I also Got a box set up and got some flowering plants planted, 2 Hibiscus and 3 Corral Rose plants. They will come back each year and add color to the garden.

One of the Hibiscus still in the pot it spent last winter in. I got them from the Lady next door and was surprised that they made it!

Here are the first 5 beds. Made from recycled wood and the first is filled and planted with 10 "Roma" Tomatoes.

We even got a few "Sweet" potatoes planted in tires!

And Terri wanted a few flowers planted next to Marks new shed. I placed a box around them too!

And then the Rains came that night and all the next day. As you can see the beds are all in the low end of the garden and are sitting in standing water! Three of them are filled and planted and I will have to figure a way to get them to drain. The Two to the left will be moved to the other end where the water seems to drain off. And place any new beds down at that end too.
What a mess! I will have to back fill this area and get it high enough so that water will not stand here!
I.m glad that we did not get a lot of beds set up here, as they would have to be moved too. The reason I started at this end is because it is close to the house and I hope that would help to keep the Deer at bay. But as they say, "The best laird Plans". But at least I now know where the low spots are and I can deal with them!

As a side note: The Chickens are doing well and still laying 8 - 10 Eggs a day. 1285 as of yesterday! They are still cooped up in the "Projects" as I still have not gotten their new Digs ready yet. There are only so many hours in a day and so much to do!

Gardening is so much fun, But it takes a lot of work to get it right!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Birthday gift

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to get myself a birthday gift this year. Well I wanted something from my wish list and ordered it two early and it was delivered yesterday!

And here it is coming down the road!

My new work shop! It;s 12 X 20 and I can finally get all my wood working stuff out of the middle of the living room!

I have wanted a shop for a long time and had though I would try to build one myself. I have never built anything like this, But I would start getting the materials together to start, But it always seem like I would use the wood for some other project and never get started.

When Mark got his shed a few weeks ago, I was the only one available to be here when it was delivered. I got to talking to the driver  and he told me about this building that had just been turned back in. The 12 X 20 that you see in the photo above. It was ordered by a trucker about a year ago and he used it to store his 2 motorcycles when he was on the road. He moved out of state and turned the building back in. He did not want to pay to have it moved.
So I went down to the lot and talked to the sales lady and got it for half price! and I can afford the monthly payments!

Coming in the driveway. I should have had a big candle on top! That might be a bit much!

Set up near the house. Placed on 18 4" solid blocks so none of it sitting on the ground.
Almost done!
I got to play with it some. Got some stuff moved in, But had to go to work. Will have Tuesday and Wednesday off so I can get more done.
Pretty sweet?
More pictures to follow!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'M Back

I feel like this should be the first post of a new Blog!  It's been so long and I have been thinking about all I could have posted about, But the health issues and long working hours (not to mention the weather!) have not allowed me much time to get anything done. Just last week we had a frost warning and I was glad I had not gotten the garden started!
But today Terri helped me to do just that. And my other friend Mike used his big road grader to get the new garden area level and scraped clean.

As you can see, It is a big area and I should be able to place a lot of raised beds here. It will take some time to get it just the way I want it!

First raised bed in place and planted. 10 "Roma" tomatoes plants in the 4 X 8 ft. bed.
And the tires set up for potatoes, Not sure what type they are going to be yet. Still need to see what seed potatoes I can get.

It took Terri and I all one day to just get this done. But we will work on the rest of the beds as time and the JOB allow. As each bed is constructed and set into place, It will be planted. I know it's late, But hope we get something out of all this.

Another project that I was able to get done is this planting box I put together for Terri. I set it up on her deck out back and she has some herbs and flowers planted in this one. I plan to build another one for her. That way all she has to do is walk out the back door and harvest what she wants!

Made from recycled wood and stained "Oxford Brown". It turned out pretty nice!

And this is Marks new shed. He had it built and set up out back of his place. We now have a place to store all the outside tools. And it's better then what we could have built ourselves!
So. There you have it. Some of the projects that have been completed and others that we just started!
I will be 60 years old in a few week and I  wanted to get myself something off my wish list as a Birthday Present. It should be delivered by the end of the week! I will have pictures of when it arrives and that will be my next post.

It feels good to get back to posting again and I will try to keep you updated on what's going on here on the "Homestead" For now, it's back to working on the garden!
Have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring, Flowers and trees

Sorry that it took so long to get back with this post! I have a new Internet provider and they do not seem to be able to get it right

But it looks like Spring has! Flowers and Trees are in bloom and and planting of the same is a work in progress!

This is a River Burch. I planted two of them near the ditch in the front yard. I choose this type of tree because they grow in groups from the same root ball and I like that the bark peels back from the trunk.

And we planted 4 flowering Pear trees along the ditch in Terri's yard. We still have two Dogwoods to plant in the back of her house. I learned a good bit of information about planting trees..."Plant them high and they won't die, Plant them low and they won't grow"! The roots need to breath, so plant the root ball a little higher then the surrounding ground!

"Daffodils are in bloom and the Deer do not like them!

Can't say the same for the "Tulips! This is a double "Peach" one they missed!

This pot of Tulips was a lot closer to the house and they left them a lone.

"Daffodil's" and "Pansies" near the house.

The new parking area and paved walkway at Terri's. We have been working on this project for weeks now! It seems to rain every few days and that puts a stop to the work until it dries out again!

The Chickens are still living in the Projects. But the inside work in the new Hen House is done and as you can see the Door and ramp for them is in. All I have to do now is find the time to get the temp fence up.

And now it's time for you to meet ISSY!

 She is a 1 1/2 year old "Pit Bull" mix and had a litter of 5 puppy's that were 6 - 7 weeks old and had been separated from her at the shelter. All of the pups looked just like the DAD, A Beagle !
Isn't she something? I was impressed that she hadn't messed in her kennel and waited till the Lady at the shelter let her out into the exercise area to do her thing! She will not mess where she lives. But she did get after the Chickens the first morning home and killed one of the RI R's!

She did not know that they were not food and she had been on her own for some time eating what ever she could find. She is a sweet hart! Just look at the strips! You can not see it in any of the pictures, But she has a double "Halo" on top of her head!

And not to leave the GIRLS out! The 11 are doing well and looking forward to the "BIG MOVE"! Egg total as of today.....875! That's in 3 1/2 months!
 Well that's some of the things that have gone on around here the past few months. I am so glad that winter is over and the days are warming up. I can now start working outside and I even got the tractor running, so cutting grass is in my near future.

So I will close for now. Happy Spring Everyone!!