About Me

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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Farewell for a while/ off grid living

Well tomorrow night the computer gets shut off & when set back up on the farm, will only be off line when I am up in the apartment repairing the floors & walls.  I plan to try on really bad cold days to sit down & write about what I am doing that may get published later.

I have yet to talk to my little sis, but am hoping if I mail her a Blog, she will write it here for me.....I would hate to have the blog sit for a year while you all wait for me to get back.

The sisters being here was WONDERFUL, I think I may have worked them a bit too much with picking,cutting & canning 23 quarts of apples, plus a 2 day trip to the NY farm where we had to work on the coop since the truck trailer somehow got turned onto its top since I was least I think Mr. Grumpy is really not happy about me being there.....

But little sis & I worked 2 days & got another building semi-ready & on Friday when I drive up there, I should be able to finish it before dark....if not I will be sleeping in the huge tent with the chickens that night so I know they are protected.......I may be covered in chickens if its cold, but as long as they don't peck out my hair I will be fine.

Bad day...had to put 2 hens down.  One was egg bound & after 2 weeks had not gotten it to move from the ovum area & the other one was sick from the neck feathers being pulled out & an infection set in.  Thank goodness I had the chloroform but its still so painful for me to do.  I hate doing it & I always cry for them when they are gone, but I know that it's the best thing I can do for them.
                              Samantha who had neck infection

                                       Coraline, the egg bound hen

Little Peeps, Bowzers baby she didn't like, is growing & doing well.  Needless to say already spoiled & falls asleep in my hair.  Since I will not have heat except for the wood stove will get out the homemade cashmere chicken sweaters & alter one for little peeps to wear when the wood stove isn't going.

Since I am still sick from the nasty cold Thomas brought home with him I think I will be doing things quite slow once I get there so I am sure little Peeps will be with me most of the time.  When I first got chickens I made a little bag that hangs around my neck with a fish netting window for them when they are in it.  This way I can have them with me but I can use my hands....most of the time the babies will fall asleep in it unless I am moving alot.

Tomorrow at 12 noon we go get the Uhaul & tow bar.  Since I am sick, we are pulling the car with us so Thomas can drive it back here when we are done.  I decided it was a lot cheaper to just drive the Uhaul one way, plus I can put the cats in the carriers in the back seat of the car with the windows down a bit & they can howl all they want without me going batty.

I have all the cages for the chickens out & cleaned & they will go into the Uhaul last so that when we stop every hour I can get to them to feed & water them & check on them.  They will go in the truck tomorrow night to sleep so I am not upsetting them in the morning moving them.  this way they will be in the truck & resting before we leave.

It will also let me see before we go who is fighting or pissy & can change out those to other cages if needed.  chickens travel quite well if you put plenty of bedding down for them, I also got some travel blankets from Uhaul to put on top of each cage so they feel safer.

The main thing is not to take turns super fast or brake fast....& to stop every hour  to check on them...Will do the same with the cats.  Little Peeps will be in the truck with us as will be Daisy Mae, the lizard.  Daisy will be in a cage of her own & Little Peeps will end up I am sure in my hair.

So much to still do but no energy, but I suppose it will get done as it is needed & no matter how stressed I feel, the important stuff will get done.

Well until I can get back on here or have little sis do my blog I guess this is it for a bit...until next time have a wonderful chicken day.....M'

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lobster, apples & wood rot

Good evening everyone!  Yesterday Morning I had to drop the 2 sisters off at the airport for them to head home.  It was super hard to see them leave as I so enjoyed them being here with me.

They arrived here on Wednesday, the 5th & we had a slow easy first full day here.  We mainly hung out, visited, drank lots of coffee & visited with my kids...Chickens.

Friday we decided would be a good day for the apple picking as its the season & I knew Saturday picking would be off we went to a apple farm that was celebrating its 100th year.  Now we didn't go hog wild or anything, just got one bushel of very nice apples for my apple sauce making, drying & just plan eating.

I have never been to this farm before so had no idea they had a feeding/petting zoo of sorts me being me had to get some feed to treat the 2 goats, 2 sheep, 1 donkey & one very pretty small bull.  The sheep ram & mule were the pigs of the group so had to work around them to get to the females.  Lots of slobbers later I got each of them fed except for the bull, he was more interested in the children who were feeding him dropped apples.  Don't blame him a bit for that.

So the rest of that day & the weekend were for making up apples & creating big sisters jerky to go in the food dryer.  All said & done I have 24 quarts of apple sauce with raisins & nutmeg, 1 quart bag of dried apples & about 2 1/2 pounds of jerky to take to the farm with me.

Monday we headed out to NY to see the farm & work on truck camper for the chicken coop.  Well we were doing really good time til we got to one tiny town that was working on the main bridge,  2 people told us the wrong directions to get to a highway so we ended up a bit out of the way of where we needed to go....but finally found it, got Mr. Grumpy out of the main house & introduced myself to him.  Not the nicest or friendliest of guys.

Seems that a huge wind storm came through & the truck camper was on its top...Now its funny this would happen just then & not be on its side if the wind knocked it over, plus big sis saw him smurking as he told a big fishy there but I knew he won't be the easiest man to deal with ahead of time so was not surprised.  But what was suppose to take maybe all of 2 hours now became a 2 day event.

Since that couldn't be used we had to go over to my side where I will now be (explain that in a bit) & try to figure out how to convert a small building with 1 missing wall into a temporary coop.  First we had to remove all the trash someone had to decided to place in there. As you can see it had a lot of stuff in it.  Little sis & I drug out & tried to bag up all we could, plus put junk in one pile & wood stuff in another.  Then the floor had in door/outdoor carpet that needed to go & found massive wood rot under that.  So we got that up & let the floor beams dry overnight.

We headed to a sweet little motel on the lake
                                    Our home sweet home for the night

                                     View of Lake Champlain from our room

Ok so much for a slow nice drive back home, checking out Vermont.  Next morning lots of coffee & little sis & I headed back to the farm, thank goodness there is a warehouse worth of wood on the farm & we were able to find enough wood to create temporary beams, braces & floor.  Plus while cleaning out all the junk we found two extremely large sheets of heavy black plastic that could be used to cover the walls, ceiling & floor after we got the wood in.

Needless to say since I only brought things for the truck camper I had to hit the hardware store.  Now those boys were so nice & helpful & I got all the nails, ect I needed to do this new job with.  Since we just could not tear out all the floor beams I got 3 inch penny nails that would go through the rotted part & at least attach to the dry good wood so we were able to nail down the floor so I don't fall through it.

By 4 p.m. we were finally done, tired & I smelled like dog pee,  The plastic sheeting seemed to be the favorite place for the old dog to pee on.  I will still have to put in a real wall when I go back up but at least the building is braced, cleaned out & I don't have to worry about that part.  Now I just hope Mr. Grumpy doesn't come over & tear out all little sis & I did.

I am only using about 1/2 of the building for the chickens since they will only be sleeping in it plus the rot on the area you don't see plastic is just too bad to work with.  That area will be blocked/boarded so the chickens can't get into it & hurt themselves.  I also had to take the door off since the hinges were rusted solid but got new hinges so I have a door in front that you can't see that shuts & is thick to keep animals out.

Now before I had stated I was fixing up a old garden shed to live in because the only good trailer belonged to someone else.  Well Mary & her husband have decided to buy it from the boy as he is moving to Texas to work in the oil business & doesn't want to try & get it off Marys farm.  So I will be living in it....I will have running water but don't want the electric turned on or oil tank filled....there is a nice heavy duty wood stove in the living room area plus a huge stack of firewood there for me to use.

It has 1 bedroom in the back, a bathroom & a small room that is for a washer/dryer....I plan to quilt off those areas & mainly use the living room/kitchen area...I have a twin bed I can put in the living room & use as a bed/sofa...the laundry room area will be the chicken ER room, bedroom will be for all the 55 gallon feed containers & 5 gallon buckets of grains.  Since I will have a toilet don't need to get the composting toilet & I can heat water on the stove for the bathtub to bathe or wash clothes.

                                        Wood stove in trailer

So for all of you that worried, this is a good solid mobile home where I can be safe & comfortable.  I can still be partly off grid but the sisters are glad I will not be hauling water from the other side of the road.  & I will enjoy that especially when its super cold......also I am only 3 steps away from the chicken coop which for me is very important.

The temporary coop just has to get them through the winter as in the spring I will be building them a new one & tearing down the one they spent the winter in.  I am hoping I can use my table saw to cut out the rotted wood & re-use the wonderful flooring beams as they are over 100 years old.

We finally got all we could do done & headed home dirty & tired.  Finally fell through the house door around 10 p.m....needless to say Wednesday was a slow day for us....very sore & I was pretty brain dead.

I did go get the sisters lobster & shrimp for a fish boil supper which we had in the living room picnic style.  I was able to get the lobsters for $4.99 a pound right between lobster, shrimp, potatoes & corn on the cob we were quite full & very happy campers.

I am very thankful they were able to come up & spend time with me, even with all the driving, getting lost, dirty & cranky...I was cranky not  I am sure they will not to have a repeat of this the next time they come up to visit so will have to make sure the next visit doesn't include cranky old men, mold, wood rot, falling down buildings & more of the fun things like lobster boils, sitting at the picnic table drinking coffee & talking to the chickens With no hammers in sight.

Until next time have a wonderful chicken day!.....

M' & crew

Monday, September 3, 2012

2 days til the sisters get here :)

First I want to introduce you to Ava Sunset who was born 3 days ago to Prudence, the hen who refused to quit sitting until an egg hatched....She sat for a total of 2 rounds before 1 of 8 eggs finally created a baby.  Needless to say I am quite happy to see the little chick as Prudence was getting a tad thin even with the extra meals I brought to her each day.

Now Moonlite is growing really fast, at 3 weeks is already super tall for such a small baby so have a feeling papa CeeCee genes were a big influence on this kid.
As you can see shes a biggin', both babies seem to like to be in the food dish & doesn't mind when Momma tries to eat as well.

Bowzer is again setting on eggs as well, she is my tiny rumpless Americana who wants to also be a momma so gave her 4 eggs from the big coop a few days ago.  So I may have a few babies to take with me when I go to the Farm at the end of September.

Now for the sisters!...Every 2 years we get together at one of our houses & this year its my place..well places if you count a trip to the farm to see where I will be living....I hate to drive & shopping is not my thing unless its at the feed store so have very few things for us to do.  But we will be apple picking one day & makin' up a big batch of apple sauce for canning & taking to the farm.  I also plan to dry some also for oatmeal on the cold winter days.

They will get here with in 2 minutes of each other on different airlines but thank goodness the Boston airport isn't that big so will be able to get to each quickly.  so Wednesday will be a big driving day for me, normally its about 1 1/2 hours through traffic to get to Boston but being near supper time I will have to leave the house 2 1/2 hours ahead so I can get there hopefully near the time they both arrive....Then a big slow trip back home, but with a stop to eat somewhere since I know I will not want to cook.

Big Sis has ordered a thing for us to make meat jerky with while she is here, it uses ground up meat & like an old cookie press shoots it out with all the spices ect with it & it dries faster & is more tender to eat.  I think we will have too much fun with that.  But I have a feeling I will so enjoy that jerky this winter since I plan to throw it in pots of soup, beans or rice for the proteins.

Next Monday we will head to West port NY to see the farm & tear apart the inside of the truck camper to ready it for the chickens.  since its got so much mold in the plywood/press wood walls, that all has to be riped out.  Big sis gets to man the tools while sitting outside & relaxing, handing us what we need as little  sis & I tear it apart & wash it down.

I am also treating the outside with a earth friendly mold killer & once dry will place a big tarp over the top of it & stake it down.  I am not sure if it leaks but don't want to come back after we do all this work & see more mold  from it raining the tarp should keep that at bay.....

We will also walk around the property where we can & see the stuff I didn't see last time & get a better idea of what other things need to be done.  Since its such a long drive we plan to rent a motel room that night & head back home the next day after a few stops in Vermont.  Many cool places I saw when up there the last time so will have to stop this time to check them out & let the sisters look & shop if they want.  So even though we will be doing some work up there I think overall it will be a fun trip & no hurries.

My poor food dryer has been running for over 2 weeks now.....Glad its a good one of I am sure it would have burnt out along time back.  Right now I have a cheap think steak with just a bit of garlic, salt & pepper blend on it......I cut it a bit thicker so it will take a few days to dry before I seal it up........But it will go in the big bucket for food that's going with me.

Big sis has a great meatball recipe I am thinking we may try to make & do little tiny meatballs that can be dried.....Since they have turkey in them I will first bake them then dry them to keep them safe.  I do not want food poisoning while out there on my own....

Finally got the house in good order, still things to be done...a few dishes, make up the sisters beds, vacuum the 2 bedrooms they will be in...but the floors have all been steam cleaned so am thankful for that.  Will miss that little steam cleaner while homesteading but with 2 tiny rooms I can't see it being a problem to keep fairly clean.

I will be taking lots of pictures while the sisters are here so hope I will get them up on my next blog which will be after they leave the 14th of September...

So as you can see I am busy, busy, busy but take the time to write, am tired so best get off for now & try to get some sleep.  Tomorrow is another busy day with a few trips to the gas station, post office & so on.

Have a great chicken day....M' & crew

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Green Acres is the place to be....but not while sleeping

Good morning everyone!

I have been up since yesterday morning & its now just after 9 a.m.  Been really busy trying to get the house cleaned for the sisters who ill be here the 5th of Sept....problem is I get so body tired but my mind refuses to shut down, as it did last night...

There I am, its nice & dark & that silly theme song from Green Acres pops into my tell me you have never had this happen?...well maybe not the same song but one that comes out of nowhere & then stays with you until you are ready to climb the walls or get out the whiskey?!

I can sorta see why it ran through my head with all the things I am thinking about that need to go to the farm with me, but I mean REALLY...after 2 hours of fighting to shut it off & sleep I finally gave up & got up.

So I guess I need to talk about like the Missus, I am leaving the city...alright already, the small town with all the wonderful things like stick pin bowling, liquor stores on pretty much every street & 2 dunkin' donut shops to Cow patty pastures, Cow drinking slimmy pond & no dunkin donuts anywhere within driving range of the tractor.

But unlike the Missus of Green Acres I can cook, even on a wood fire making bread in a dutch oven...So guess thats brownie points for me.

Sadly there will be no Arnold the pig coming into the shed to switch on the TV, but the chickens may come in to hang out in the rocking chair & listen to me sing off key while I listen to music with my head you can ever sing on key with those things on.

I think occasionally I may wake to a cow at the door, if it forgets how to get to the milking barn or is tired of having its teets stuck to a machine & wants a hide out.  Now it can not come sit in the rocking chair though...I do have my limits.

Do you all ever notice that went I am really tired & decide to do my Blog its never like the others?...No?? well you aren't reading my blog very often, now are you?!

Ok so back to the Green Acres...for those who have no idea what I am talking about it was a TV show way back when I was young.  I loved the idea of the pesky neighbor coming in through the bedroom closet instead of through the front door....Seems someone built a door on the other side of the closet, why?? who knows & who was just funny.

Sadly my little 2 room shed won't have a closet that I can do this with but then again I don't want Mr. Grumpy Pants from the main house coming through that way, like does he need to see me in my long johns, wild eyed & still trying to wake up with coffee....

For his sake I hope not, cause I think the coffee cup would be flying at him & that's a awful waste of my coffee....Plus unless one of my chickens got loose & killed one of his big ole milk cows I don't want to hear it....I honestly don't think that would hold up in court anyway so why waste your time coming to me that early in the morning?

I am still drying foods in my food dryer & found out that cantaloupe is not something that does well.  Any bit of moisture left starts to mold within 2 days.  Thank goodness I only did one melon, so had only a small baggie to throw away.....have banana's drying now & am wondering if the same will happen with them...but I can keep them it there til nearly dried & then put them in the oven to finish....I so hope they dry right, cause molding/furry banana chips in oatmeal is just not my kind of breakfast.....ok fine...since I don't eat breakfast lets just say lunch alright?

Ok had to let the screaming kitten out so have no idea what I was talking about :(

Whatever it was it must have not been important so rained today after about 8 days of sunshine...sorta nice to feel the nice cool breeze this morning & rain dripping down my back as I let the chickens out for the day.....Now its sunny again & I am sure it will be humid so will enjoy the wet hair & shirt as it gets hotter outside.

Bowzer, my basement coop hen is broody again so gave her 4 eggs from the main coop where CeeCee is & hope they will hatch.  She did hatch one about 2 months ago but it passed on after being stepped on & cut by either Bowzers toenails or Peppers.  I think Pepper went in to lay an egg & Bowzer got upset so the poor baby suffered badly from it...But I heard it happening, so was able to grab the baby & keep it warm & semi comfortable in my lap until it passed on....This time when I hear a baby peeping while its trying to hatch I will grab Bowzer & all the eggs & get them into a separate crate into the house area so I can keep an eye on them.

Moonlite is grown & the cutiest little chick...a bit high strung though...she takes off when I get too close, so I have to sorta slowly chase her down so I can pick her up.  I try to do this ever y day so she gets used to being handled....At least Ginger Snap (Momma) doesn't try to take off my leg when I do this....but from her noises I know she is cussing me up one side & down the other......they have such potty mouths.

Ok since the screen is tilting...oh wait a minute, thats me!....I guess I had best close for now........

Have a wonderful chicken day

M' & crew

Friday, August 24, 2012

Clearing up a early blog Farm info

Good morning everyone!

Seems somehow I have stirred up a mass amount of confusion & drama with my earlier blog I did a while back on the New York trip to see the after lots of headaches have decided to try & clear this up so my friends & family won't worry as much.

I have a few people who looked at the pictures & thought the falling down buildings/trailer was where I am going to be living in...Well ease your minds I am not.

The shed I mentioned, but forgot to add pictures cause I got so excited about seeing the truck camper for the chickens is where I will be living.....Know that this was built a time back when sheds were built well not the cheapo metal ones you just slap up in a day.  It has very thick walls, a heavy duty roof & from what I saw inside no mold.

Yes, it has dirt floors but I found on the web a house made out of pallets & they even put in the diagrams & so on for how to build the walls & floors using the pallets.  so I will not be putting in traditional floors but the base will be pallets with wood over it....if I can swing it I would like to get some gravel for the dirt floors before I set the pallets in place for better drainage.....but will be putting on top of all of that tarps before I set the pallets in place & the wood floor as a precaution.

This is the diagram to lay out a pallet floor with extra 2x4's used at the open ends to make it more secure...I will actually only need 5 pallets per room instead of the 7 shown here.

So what would take weeks to do with a regular floor will take only days to do instead.....The other thing I am going to do is since the windows were removed completely from the old trailer I will use one to put in the shed so I can look out & watch the rain, snow & sun........that's another day job since I have the saws, power tools & so on to do it.

I will also be tarping the inside floors as well...this way it will be easier to sweep, mop & stay clean plus be a extra cold block from the ground during the winter.

Many seem to be worried about all the work before the snows come, now please understand the trailer coop & the shed are the only things I will be working on until they are done...the trailer coop will take maybe 2 days once I get there cause my little sister & I will be striping it & cleaning it when we go up to see it when they are here....

I also have metal posts for putting up the fencing so that means no big hole digging to make the chickens runs around the shed.

The out buildings I put up one my one blog were just to show what needs to be done on the farm, I can tell you right now I can not in one year do it all...but I can try to do a few of them for Mary that are important for her to have.  Mainly the buildings I showed were for tearing down & reusing the wood elsewhere for repairs & building things like new chicken coops, firewood storage near the main house & so on.

Even though they (pictures) show them in falling down shape, the wood in most is not rotted & still beautiful.....I am talking about hand cut 2 inch thick boards from way back when.

In my mind I see them in a newly built coop or extra garden shed or even small lidded bins inside the barns....or for using on rotted damaged boards inside good buildings....Some may not understand this, but being able to use a part of history when wood boards were hand milled excites me to no end......

Now as I said above I can't do it all but I have decided the important things building:
 1) A new large coop for up to 50 chickens
2) Cleaning out & repairing the 2 story horse barn since it has stalls that can be used for wood storage, hay & so on.
3) Repairing the attic apartment in the main needs the stone floor re-done, walls sanded & painted...a few cabinets added & the bathroom expanded wall it needs a small pantry area with shelves added, windows caulked.
Since its one big room I would like to make a wood screen area to hide the bed that will go in there eventually..........but if I don't do that its alright.
4) Put in a large garden for me to use while there & to have ready for when they move there.

Now that should keep me very busy but in my down time I plan to use my petal sewing machine to sew some aprons to sell, make a few light weight clothes for me with all the muslin I have, read, write & draw my chickens with my cool colored pencils.

There will be days when I have a migraine like I do today, where any big work can't be done........if it can break, needs my concentration or is noisy it will have to wait til the migraine is gone.

I am not a work horse even if I would love to be, I know my limits most of the time...or feel it later, lol.

The things I will also have with me are a wood stove, composting toilet, 100 gallon collapsible water container & a big plastic bin to bathe in.  I also got a nice air mattress with a soft top to sleep in & have a hand pump to air it up with.

I am also at this moment drying lots of veggies, fruits & meats to take with me & have figured out what I need food wise.  I am not a big eater so even with all the work I still eat about 1/4th what most people eat.  But I am planning for as much as I can.

I also know my hubby will be up to see me ever so often so if I need something, I can have him bring it or we can go get it while he is there.  So I will not be totally alone & trying to deal with things by myself.  Also Mary says she will come up more often with me there so I am sure I can ask her to bring something I need also.

I do have health insurance & am only 3.5 miles from the small town center, they do have a small hospital there if I need it.  As well as a drug store.

For those who do not know me, I could be a mountain woman easily so this is not going to be tough or hard on me.  I do have a huge tent that is going up the day I get there to sleep in until I get the shed floors in, since its domed I may leave it up until I get the heavy plastic greenhouse up since it will have my 5 gallon lidded buckets of grains, sugar & so on in it...then it will all be put in the greenhouse while I am there as a storage area, warm weather bathroom & so on.

So once again, I am sorry I worried so many friends & family by not being more detailed in where I am going to be....that blog was more on how funny I found the farm than anything else...I wanted you to laugh along with me, not worry.

The hardest part of all of this is moving the chickens safely & comfortable...I am sure they will not be happy campers for the first few days, but will have many treats for them to help them adjust.  Thank goodness for all the crates, cages & so on that I have to move them in.  At least they won't be flying all over the place & can rest while we drive there.  Plus I will take a few breaks to check on them & give them water.  Even though its a 5 hour or so trip I want to make sure they are alright.

                      Baby Girl helping me pick peppermint to dry

As I write its another beautiful sunny cool day so they are all outside enjoying the day.  Moonlite is growing & looks like some more yellow is starting to show up on her back & wings.  since she has fluffy cheeks she is either Zelda's or Gingers baby so there will be more oranges or gray feathers coming in as she grows.  will be fun to see what she grows up to be....Either way she will later be a good Momma as both of the hens & think she is from are wonderful Momma's.

Best close for now.  have a wonderful chicken day!...M' & crew

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When did living off grid need so many lists? Hand cramp!!!

Good Afternoon everyone!

Well since the last Blog I have been busy drying tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe & smoked Deer roast I had done & already sliced in the freezer.  It will be ready to take out of the dryer in a bit & in goes Brussels sprouts.  I also have a oven full of corn on the cob drying as takes longer but with all I am doing its nice to just check it when i remember & not have to worry about it.

Did you know living a so called normal life & going to totally off gird is really not as easy as you would think??!!  The list of things I need to take with me is growing by the day, at 53 I don't want to forget something I may need for like a very cold winter.  This has proved to be tougher than just boxing up your stuff to move into a new house or apartment.  With that type of move you get rid of the things that are worn out, trash, don't fit, broken & so on.  After all the moves in my life I am pretty good at that form of moving.....

I have lived off grid in my life time, but I went into it with what I already had & just hoped for the best to get through it.  At 22 yrs old it was ok to eat only Bing cherries off the only tree you had with food for 2 months......or the time I had 5 pounds of potatoes & had to learn to stretch them along with 1 bag of popcorn for 30 days.

Now I am planning this off grid experience so its good in many ways but in others it can drive a person batty...not that I am not already batty but do I need to be more batty?

To give you an example of what I will need so I am not struggling, here is a small list of just kitchen things I have written down:
1 plate
1 bowl or big enamel soup cup for my soups/oatmeal
2 forks
2 spoons
2 knifes
sharp knives
big spoons for cooking.stirring etc
hand can opener
small cheese grater for grating soap for shampoo, laundry & floor cleaning
Water pitcher with filters, I may not like the taste of the well water so this is a must.
my enamel pots, since I use them for everything from cooking to washing dishes & clothes.
tongs, big wooden spoons for cooking, stirring washing in hot water
ziplock bags for when I dry herbs, vegs & so room for lots of jars of any kind
few big plastic bowls for mixing biscuits, etc
bottle opener so I can open my canned things like condensed milk
Water jugs for drinking water
hand rags/towels

Now, that does not as you can see include the foods....that list is large but since its all mainly dried, I can store it into my 5 gallon buckets that have gamma lids.

As you can see, its really not like camping which one person told me to think like...Well I have camped many a times & the list is a lot shorter needless to say.....But the concept is a good one to help me get in the right frame of mind.

Another thing I realized, is I may have very few times when I am able to get to town so toilet paper is a big being who I am, I am buying cheap 2 ply toilet paper & will split the plies so I get two rolls from that 24 rolls of double rolled toilet paper now becomes 48 rolls for me.......Should be a amusing thing to do on a slow night in my rocking chair...dividing a roll of toilet paper for

Also the change of my diet..though right now or ever has it been good,  I eat one real meal maybe a day...some days I don't even do that....big fan of crackers & peanut butter.....But at least when I am needing it, I can get meat or the proteins I need....well there, the only meats I will have ready are dried & will be eating a lot of beans for the proteins I need. I will also be taking 5 pound of creamy peanut butter with me which I love eating by the spoonfuls ever so often if I have no crackers.  I hate taking pills, but will take a years worth of adult gummy bear vits with me so I have some what of a good balance  for my body.

Except for the toilet paper the items for bathing & so on fit in one small laundry basket at least.  I am bring light weight towels so they dry faster especially in the winter, lots of wash clothes for the days I just take a sponge bath, lots of my homemade soaps & of course good coco butter lotion I have for my super dry skin.

Then of course, there is all the chicken stuff I need to take since I can't just go out & get chicken feed when I want.  I have many 50 pound bags of oatmeal, stone/steel cut oats, 7 grain mix in flakes & whole grains, flaxseed, wheat germ, cornmeal & wheat bran that needs to be mixed all together & put in good containers to get them through the winter, some of it will be mixed with the regular chicken feed as well.  Each winter I make the chickens a hot breakfast with the items listed above in either yogurt, regular milk or powdered milk.

I have found by doing that, it helps them when they are first let out of the coop to warm up & not suffer from severe frost bite.  I have noticed less chest/lung colds also doing this.  I do have quite a few hens & a rooster who have a very large comb, so this seems to help keep their bodies & combs warmer.  On top of that I do cracked corn just before they head to the coop to sleep...the corn gives them the sugars to burn off at night so they stay warmer then as well.

There is a old silo on the farm with a lot of cracked corn in it still...its not fresh but its something they can have to help in the winter.

Now you all know there will be electricity on the main farm so I have to take all my power tools with me to help with repairing & building while there.  So though I will be totally off grid I still have to have electricity for that...which means more things to take....Not that I mind, but it will sure be a packed U-haul by the time I am done with everything.  I haven't even started that part yet, since its all in my big work shed & needs to all be pulled out & checked...I know my skill saw needs a new blade & so does my table saw....but that will get to later just a few weeks before I leave as getting the things for me & the chickens is crazy enough.

With all that is going on, I have not gotten to build the solar cooker or dryer...but those I can at least get measured out & cut & when I get there, I can put them together when I need to have them...right now they are not that important so its on the back burner, but remembered.  I did buy the foil at a discount store for the solar cooker/oven & have the pallets ready to be cut, so at least I have that part done.

As many of you know I am involved in the Mary Jane (magizine) site that has a chat room sort of thing.  I am bartering a bunch of my home steading/farm/outdoor crafts books with the girls (hens) for things I can use while gone.  Today I got a lovely gallon bag of homemade non-nut trail mix with raisins, cranberries, coconut flakes & other dried fruits to take with me.  Another hen made me 2 pounds of really nice homemade dried laundry soap.   Last week I got a wonderful box of dried zucchini, tomatoes & so on to make in my dried soup mixes.

I love bartering for things, that way I get rid of the things I don't need or use & get something back I can use.  I bartered with my neighbors father for a bushel of corn in trade for my eggs.  I got them 2 days ago & already have them blanched & 28 cups stored in the freezer for hubby while I am away...The corn I have in the oven drying will be about 8 cups of dried corn when all done for me.  Plus I plan to keep some as seed to grow in my garden next spring as this corn is wonderful.

Speaking of gardens...there's another big list, at least all the seeds I am collecting/buying/getting take up little room, but I need other things like a good shovel, my hoe, rain barrels, watering cans & so on for it...I also have some organic dried fertilizer I got just for this, as I want to make sure the dirt is at its best up there.

So as you can see my brain is somewhat numb from all the things I have to remember & write down.  I did find that going from room to room was the best way to see what I needed or don't need....but even then I still find things later I put on the list.

Ok, tired of that so will tell you about Moonlite.  She seems to be doing very well,  I love watching her run around near Momma, but sometimes looks up & realizes Momma is farther away than she thought.  I have an old enamel wash tub I fill with feed for the kids & on nice days set it out in the yard, this morning Moonlite was in it eating away while CeeCee (rooster) was trying to not peck her while he ate as well.  Too bad I didn't have my camera then as it would have been a very cute photo.  This little dustball & the big ole tough rooster having a meal togehter.  Poor Prudence will not get off her eggs & I think they ar duds as some should have hatched by now, so think tomorrow I will kick her out & close up the coop.  She is getting quite thin even though she is eating so its time to stop this.

Lauria, my crooked neck hen is doing good, right now she is sleeping by my feet as I type. She will get some outside time later on today once it cools down a bit.  She needs a bath really bad, but I know she would be happier playing in the dirt right I will let her be for now.

My book has been selling & I am quite happy about that.......I just hope the poeple who bought it enjoy it & can use it for their chickens.  I broke down & bought a book binding machine since to take it in was a 1 1/2 hour drive on top of the high cost to bind each will take 5 more books selling to re-coop the cost of it which will be nice for me.  Plus since its not electric & hand done, I don't have to have electricity to do that part of the book....another big plus.

Well the laundry is calling for me to get it done so best close for now.

have a wonderful chicken day....M' & crew

Friday, August 17, 2012

Trip to New York/Boy was I ever surprised!

Good morning everyone, well do I have a funny story to tell you all.  I decided yesterday morning to head to New York to see the farm.  Oh I had such a lovely drive up there & went through parts of New Hampshire & Vermont as well.  I got to see a cool gingerbread house in bright yellow with light green shutters, plywood dinosaurs hanging out in a large corn field ,a VW Rabbit car with large rabbit ears attached to the back of it.....that sure made me laugh.....and tons & tons of corm field.  

I also passed 2 wooden covered bridges, one was no longer used as it was unsafe but the other people could drive through so I think I will have to do that with my sisters when they come up.  There is something so wonderful about these type of bridges, hearing the wood under your car wheels & imagining old horse & buggies going through them way back when.

Since I had drank two 16 ounces of coffee I decided I needed to stop, take a potty break & of course get more coffee.  I didn't realize I was only 7 miles away from West Port but am sure glad I did stop when I did.  It was the last place I could take the potty break before I got to the farm....

Missed the street I needed to turn on to, so had to turn around but finally after after 5 hours of driving got there.

Mary had not seen the trailer that I was to live in since Mother's Day so she has no idea what has happened to it.....needless to say once you see the pictures you will know why I talked about the potty break....I was laughing so hard as I looked in it I would have peed myself if not for that break.

This is the wall she had told me would need to be replaced but I don't think she knew about the windows being completely ripped out of the frame of the building.  Nor that someone had decided to remove most of the ceiling & paneling in the front room.  Each room had been damaged by someone & they did a good job of it....

Even in the bathroom they tore out the wall where the plumbing to the bathtub is & removed the fixtures to the bathtub.  They also decided to kick out a door from the inside & bowed it so its hinges are off so the door can't close or seal...With all the exposed air I am sure besides the mold I saw in the insulation the carpets have to be a complete mess.  Whats funny is with it open like it is I didn't see any mice or rat droppings so I guess they don't even want to stay there.

                                                   Ceilings torn out

I took tons of pictures of all the building I am suppose to try to work on if able.  Well each seemed to have years & years of stuff in them, so much so that in one old horse barn I can't even really see the stable rooms because of all the wood scraps & who knows what else is in there.  Each building had either lots of 'stuff' in it or looked good until you walked around it & noticed a outside wall why they would remove just one wall & not drop the whole thing I have no clue.

So I found 2 small shed like things that will have to be torn down completely, not worth trying to fix.  I can salvage some of the wood at least & one has a roof I might be able to use for some minor thing like a small pole type barn for cut fire wood.  Plus use the siding from the trailer as the outside walls for it.  I do plan if possible to tear apart the trailer & use what I can, then scrap /sell/burn whats left.

                    Shed that when you first see it looks fine, then you see this!

Now everything I have talked about so far is on the non-electric side of the farm.....As you can see there is no way I can live on that side at the moment or near future before the snows come.

Lets now talk about the side where the main house is, there are 2 buildings that are workable for me to live in.  One is a small 2 room shed that is being used for garden stuff.  There is a wall between the 2 rooms that I can remove & brace to make it one big room....well not that big you know but enough that I can get my rocking chair, wood stove & twin bed into.  I will have to build a bunk bed type of thing so I have an area under the bed for my petal sewing machine,clothes containers etc.  Also this shed has 4 doors going into it, I guess that was so they didn't have to walk around it to get will have to block 2 of the door with a temporary wall to hold out the cold.  The floors are dirt so will have to put in wood floors.  There is plenty of the old beautiful 2 inch thick boards they used to build some of the barns with I can use that to build the framing & then as the flooring itself.  the dirt floor might now be a bad thing but if it rains the building is on a level spot so I could see having mud floors after big rains....not something I really want to deal with nor the mold it will create even with the wood stove.  & the one thing I forgot to take a picture side tracked but the truck

I want to keep 2 of the door since I plan to have the chickens small trailer coop right next to me & have a fenced run surrounding 3/4ths of the place.  This way I can go out the run door to let the kids in & out of their coop without having to go far especially in the winter....or when I may be sick/have migraine.

Now the only thing I don't like is I am very close to the main house & the old grumpy cow farmer.  I just hope he leaves me alone as I do not want company or have to tell him what I am doing all the time.

The second building has stalls on the first level but has a staircase that goes up to the second floor, which is also semi-full of stuff.  It has a huge door that opens for maybe hay at one time that is in bad repair with lots of light coming through.....problem even though I like this & could work with it I can not get a wood stove up those stairs by myself.  Now in the shed I can with the Dollie I have.  & before you ask I am not asking anyone to help me......

2nd area I might be able to live in but look at all the just doesn't end!

Now I know people will leave things when they move from big places but boy did these people leave a lot of useless stuff, some of the wood can be re-used, some can be burned in the wood stove  since it has no paint on it, some of the bad stuff can be used to surround garden beds or in between the rows as a weed barrier.  The problem is even if I had a work crew of 50 I can't see getting all this 'stuff' out, organized & put where it can be used & seen.

They also at one time had sheep or goats from the poo that was left behind & that's got to be cleared out, it can be put in a composing area so that's not a big deal, but there is so much of it just to get back to the wooden floors in any of the building on the first level.  My power tools will come in handy but most of the work is moving things & shoveling out poo.  So besides the gardens Mary will have to decide which area/barn is the most important for me to work on, not counting the attic apartment I need to do for her when they are visiting the farm.

The moving, sorting, junking things will take months before I can even shovel out the poo & repair one building, it will be a big challenge that's for sure but if I can do even a small bit I will feel good helping her while I am there.

More junk that needs to be dealt with

Now on to the important issue...the 'kids'.  I am taking my big tent to stay in at first while I work on the 2 room shed.  Before I even get to working on it I have to get the small truck camper ready for the chickens.  The inside is all press chip boards & very moldy so its all got to come out,  so While the sisters are here I plan on the day we go up to rip all of the inside of it out, open the windows & scrub it down with pure vinegar inside & out.  I also will be taking some of my tarps to cover the roof area since I am not sure if its leaking or not.

Truck trailer that will be winter home for the kids.

                                                                  Chip  press wood inside trailer is all like this...the gray brown looking areas is mold.

Since I can not invest in plywood I will try I see if there is any there, if not I will use the paneling from the trailer I was suppose to live in & any good insulation I find in there for the coop.....I will also do what I always do & cover all the walls etc with tarps inside to help with the winds but keep the windows uncovered.  In the winter I can cover them in clear plastic so the 'kids' still get some light.  since this is a old truck type camper it has a bed shelf that I think will be perfect to build the nesting boxes into, I can put insulation under it, over it & behind it then cover all that with wood so they can't get into the insulation.  Really don't want to see pink chickens running around.

I have 100 feet of 6 foot tall chained linked fencing I am taking with me as well as the horse fencing that is 4 feet tall, plus any chicken wire I can salvage.  the chained link is in 30 foot sections which I will use my bolt cutters to cut into 5 foot long sections since I have the metal things to connect them together again once I get them up.  There is quite a few foxes up there so I want the 'kids' to be safe.  So the trailer coop & fencing will be the first things I do.  I will do a temporary run with the horse fencing since its easy to move & secure & work on the chained link run.  even if they have to use the horse fence run for a few days I will be right there so hopefully I won't have to shoot a fox with my crossbow.

So that's the plan so far.  I came home on the same day I was up there so it was a 10 1/2 hour total drive, must say I was worn out but sat in my recliner & made a list of all the questions I have from Mary...4 pages front & back so far!  She & I are driving up there again together on Tuesday so she can walk me through some of the areas I didn't see, like the apartment, grumpy man wasn't there & it was locked up, There were some other buildings I didn't go into since they are for the milking cows, don't need to deal with them & I noticed another 3 sided barn out back I would like to look at, if nothing else to see if there is anything in there that can help me while I am there.

My tomatoes I dried are ready so today plan to get the meat cooked, to ready to dry & dry the broccoli & cauliflower.  so though I am tired this will be easy work for me to do plus sweep floors & maybe do a load of laundry.  later on this evening I plan to try & figure out what I need to take now that I know where I will end up.  Also of the stuff can't go as room will be an issue, but I can build up & use the open ceiling for hanging things out of my pots & pans.  But the amount of fabric I wanted to take will have to be cut down,  The heavy plastic green house I am taking will have to be used for the 5 gallon buckets of dried food stuff.  It will also be my wash buckets, cleaning stuff storage...It is 8 feet by 10 feet so I can use my old milk crates & boards to make shelves off the ground, which will also be tarp-ed.  so that will be a nice usable space outside the shed for things.

I am glad I am able to shift gears fast or this would have me in a panic, but I know what I am doing is not going to be a walk in the park so I have to be able to think outside the box...or shed, or trashed trailer.

Until next time have a wonderful chicken day....M'

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New babies & pioneer adventures await

Hello to all my chicken friends, this picture is of Ginger Snap who just became a new Momma to Moonlite sometime Friday night.  Since she left the box with the new baby I took the other eggs & put them under Prudence so who knows how many babies will soon appear?....Anyway I am thrilled with the newest baby to my chicken family & can't wait for any others that will grace my little flock.  Since Moonlite is a little black dustball will wait a bit to get who knew they could run so fast within hours of their hatching???

As you all know I am leaving for a year to upper New York, well its a 167 acre farm up near West Port New York & a mile away from Lake Champlain.  This last Monday I drove over to see Mary my Co-op woman to pick up a oat & sugar order & we talked about her place.  I was able to see pictures of it & how its laid out.  Her farm is divided by a road so I will be on the non-electric side in an old trailer that does need a bit of work.  the roof & floors are sound but from what I understand one wall needs a bit of bracing.  Also right now it is on cement blocks but needs to be straightened up a bit so will have to put in more cement blocks & put a wood skirting around it so the air doesn't go through the bottom of it.  Sure would make it cold in the winter without it.

There is a few old barns & out buildings on my side that I will have to repair for know the stuff like re nailing in boards, replacing wood rotted boards & mucky them out so they are cleaner.  she also has a very small camper that is no longer useful for people but sound enough for the chickens as a coop until I get a new one built for them.  I like this because I can move it right up to my trailer so they are close & I will be taking all of my 6 foot fencing with me for their run areas.

I feel this is the best way to keep them safe as there is a lot of foxes in the area plus who knows what else plus in the winter it gets up to 20 inches of snow in December & I don't want to have to dig a huge path to the coop just so I can tend to them.  Thank goodness I have tiger urine in a spray bottle so will be using that while there to protect them a bit more.  I am sure that smell will freak out any animal that comes by & hopefully make them move on.

Now the other side of the farm has a big house with electricity, a milking barn & a old cow farmer who does not play well with just the type of neighbor I want!  someone who will leave me alone but who I hope I can barter my eggs for his milk.  I would hate for my kids o go without their homemade yogurt in the winter.   They sure love it with their warm oatmeal each cold morning.

i will have to carry water over to my side of the farm so will be taking my yard cart to carry it, can't see trying to fill a few milk jugs if there is a huge snow storm going on outside.  I will also get a few large food grade 5 gallon buckets just for water.  I have a lot of those now with grains, flour & sugar in them but will need some for usable water.

I have lived this way before but I forgot how much it takes to do it when you are used to just turning on a faucet, flushing a toilet or hitting a switch to turn on the lights.  I will have none of that....

I am having to re-train my brain to go back to a very basic way of living...if it has a plug it can't go, oil lamps will need enough oil to go thur the year so its on my list of things to get.  food can't be complicated, they have to be either able to cook on a small wood stove or camp 3 layer fancy cakes for me!

So that means I have to have firewood & kindling....Now since I can't chop big ole logs I will have to have someone cut & bring that to me but with the woods behind me I can at least get the kindling & small downed trees...I do have a hand saw & axe.  I also realized I need to take as many tarps as I have here as they will be a life saver, not only for covering the wood piles but for lining the inside of the coops, move things or should I say drag things to different areas.  Its amazing how many pounds of wood, hay etc you can drag on one of the heavier tarps.  I can't see myself out there carrying just a few things if I have a lot of work that needs to be done.

I have already started stocking up on things like oatmeal for the chickens & me, coffee, dried cranberries, powdered milk & sugar.  I have enough rice, beans & pasta to get me through the year.  I am also creating my own dried soup mixes that will be in baggies in a large bucket that I can pull out & use.  Each baggie will contain enough for a good meal.

I decided to barter a bunch of my off-grid, farming & simple life books with my Mary Jane hens for things I will need that they make...things like dried fruit trail mixes, dried veggies, powdered homemade laundry soaps & their dried soup mixes.  this way the books I no longer need get used & I get something that can help me.

Now the big thing is if the trailer can handle a small wood stove...I know how to reinforce the floor, add fire boards & so on & have decided instead of cutting a hole in the wall I will take out a window & use a wood board & the fire board for the piping...I will also get a triple chambered stove pipe to go through this as a extra precaution.  i think the trailer has one bedroom but I think I will set it up so my total living space is in the front room area.....I can use the bedroom for the food containers, sewing machine etc.  When I want to sew I can bring the old petal sewing machine out into the warm room.....

The bathtub will be my clothes washer as well for bathing, but since it will not be hooked up, will take rain guttering hooked up to it under the trailer to move the gray water to the areas where there will be flower beds.  I will be using earth friendly soaps so it won't hurt the soil.  During the winter the clothes will be hung in the bathtub area & when nearly dried go into the living area by the wood stove to finish.

All the water will be recycled into a 55 gallon drum outside by the main door that I use for washing up dishes.  I have special charcoal pellets that will be used with this drum so when I turn on the bottom spicket it will be filtered enough for watering plants or cleaning up my dirty hands.

I plan during the winter to use as much snow as possible for everything, I can filter it for drinking water for me & the chickens & use it for everything else as well...this way I am not depending on the main house across the street for my water during that time.

Another thing I am having to rethink is I really need a party dress there or fancy pants?  What kind of winter clothes will work best to keep me comfortable if I was to run out of wood.  What clothes will keep me the coolest in the summer with out fans? Also what clothes will be hard to wash up & dry in the winter & are they worth the extra work?

Now because family is so worried about me I have decided it best to break down & get a pre-paid cell phone & small solar charger for it.  this way if I am in one of the old barns working & hurt myself I can get help instead of trying to crawl to the mail house across the way.  I hate it but at 53 with back ailments I understand it would be very stupid of me to let my pride get in the way.  I am doing this for my mental health so I guess I also need to realize my family needs to know I am safe while I am on this adventure.

Since the main house has electricity I am taking my power tools, table say, rip saw, drills etc to help me repair the out if I was really young I would say no to this & use my more antique tools but really!!!  I am there to help her besides myself & do I really want to take 6 months of hand sawing boards for a barn when I can do it in a month?  But that I can handle since it will help her have safe building later on when they eventually move there.

There is a old chicken coop & a horse barn on the main farm that I have to repair for her as well.....The horse barn I am excited about cause it has a loft, they will never use it as a horse barn so I am hoping I can work on it since its in good shape & make it livable...I would love to see a small wood stove in it & the loft set up with a old wire how cool would that be?  It won't have electricity but what a fun thing for when the grand kids come to sleep in, would be like camping out for them & I know if I was a kid I would love this.

My main goal besides getting my head together is to work on the horse barn, old chicken coop, build a chicken coop on my side of the farm & put in 2 large gardens again on my side of the farm where she wants them.  Everything else is secondary.  I hope to get the gardens started/dug in this fall & prepare them for the spring.  I do plan on using one for me this coming year with things I can either dry or use up without a frig.

Mary has access to tons of pallets with the Co-op so I am hoping I can convince her to bring some each time she comes to visit.  This way I can use the wood for the new coop & use the rest for fire wood.  Mary is hoping someday to turn this farm into a manageable chicken farm for selling eggs.  she doesn't want a herd of chickens but enough to feed her family & sell for chicken feed & extras.  She also hates it every time she has a bunch of roosters hatch & has to give them away.  she wants a coop/run area just for Roosters so she can keep them more as pets than mating roosters.

so anyway that is what I want to do if I can.  I understand I am not a young chick so things will be a bit harder for me, but I welcome that for the most part or I wouldn't be going this route.

I was able to collect a few smaller pallets & this coming week I am building a solar veggie dryer to use & to take with will have removable legs that can be stored in the dryer when not used...also am building a solar oven with the same type of legs.....Will let you know how they turn out & hopefully have pictures as well....Today I am off to the local farm to get pig fat so I can finally make my lye soap with the wood ash we made last summer.  Have been wanting to do it but no pig fat to be seen anywhere & I refuse at this stage to go buy lard in a store....that to me is cheating for what I am wanting to do.

Ok I have rambled on long enough so best close, hit the coffee pot & do something besides typing...oh before I forget the Library of Congress wrote me & will take a copy of my book for the library & I have sold all the books I had am one happy hen right now.

Until next time have a wonderful chicken day...M' & crew

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A new adventure is coming to this ole hen!

Hello everyone!

It seems since I got back from Hawaii its been one bad thing after another & I didn't bring any of the so called cursed sand, lava or rocks home so you would think I would be alright in the 'Cursed' area....

Ok so maybe its not that bad but I have had my heart broken over events that have happened & have decided to leave my home for the next year & go to a friends old farm up in upper New York to try & figure out what I need to do.  Its been a weird & sad event for me & after nearly 22 years with the same man I am at my wits end of what will work anymore....

So I am going to take my 2 cats & all the chickens with me & homestead for a year.  Believe it or not I am looking forward to it.  I have a pioneer type heart so doing things the old way will be good for my mind & heart.  I plan to take my antique petal sewing machine with me plus fabric ect so I can sew once the winter snows come.  Plus I will need these old fashioned style clothes for when the spring & summer comes & I put in gardens, compost areas & take out brush for my friend....

they will not be living there until they retire so I will have the farm to myself with the chickens....& since she eventually will want gardens & so on I can do that for her plus grow what I need as well.

It will be odd not having a computer & having to go back to writing letters...which I miss & enjoyed.....but I will not be on this site much so will try & have my little sis ever so often post things here for you about what I & the chickens are doing.  I am giving up TV, computers, microwave & so on but will have my battery CD player with me since I love my music & it helps get me going when I am tired.

Now just so you know I won't be leaving until the end of September so I should be able to get at least 1 or 2 more blogs in before I go.

It will be a challenge that I will look forward to for the most part.  I plan to make a solar oven & teach myself how to cook on it, plus am bringing my rain barrels for water to use with the laundry & gardens during the good seasons.  In the winter I will melt the snow to use for laundry, washing dishes & bathing.  I am bring all of my 5 gallon buckets that have flour, oats, sugar, corn meal & 7 grain mix with me along with food I have canned, beans, rice & things like that.

My 2 sisters will be here the beginning of September & we plan to go out apple picking to can up & dry for me as well as do pumpkins & pears.  I am not much of a meat eater but will enjoy the fruits & veggies we can or dry.  going to dry corn this year, its a old recipe of soaking it in milk then drying it.  it takes up less room & you fix it like you do beans with soaking it before you cook it.

I have lived this life before when I was in my 20's so know pretty much what I have to do & so on, but am sure I will forget something along the way.  I plan since I will be out in the boonies to finally quit smoking after 34 years.  I do have one of those electric cigarettes so hopefully the withdrawal won't send me into a mountain woman type least I have no gun so don't have to worry about being in a very pissy mood & someone showing up & me flipping out on them.

Good news though is I finally finished my book "Where chickens run' last nite so its going to get copied today & hopefully up for sell in the next few days.  I am very proud of this book & hope it goes over well with other chicken owners & can help them.

Who knows I may end up with another book on my year adventure in that would be cool to say the least since I do love to write.

Now for the reasons you read my Blog, I have Ginger & Prudence both broody right now, I gave them both just 2 eggs so they have plenty of room in the nesting boxes to move around.  Poor Bowzer only had one baby hatch & it got hurt & died within 3 hours after being born.  she accidentally stepped on it & cut it with her nails....the other 3 never developed so I had to force her off those eggs & kick her out of the coop each day for 3 days.  she is now back to her normal self by following me around & talking to me while I check the water & feed dishes.

Lauria my crooked neck girl is now over a year old & doing wonderful...who knew broiler chickens could live so long?  She definitely rules the house & cats.  They have to line up behind her & wait until she is done with their cat food to eat....kind of funny to watch how patient they are with her...but then again she is so much larger than them & they hate it when she chases them through the house.  I normally do not recommend letting your chicken have dried cat food everyday but I feed mine the all meat, no grain feed so it doesn't hurt her in anyway like some of the others would.  It also has a much lower ash content & higher in proteins.

Well I had best get in the shower & head out, the bank is 45 minutes away & the stores I need to go to are 30 minutes away so will have a busy day.

Until next time have a great chicken day...M' & crew

Just a quick note to tell you it took all day but the book is now published....very happy with it, now just have to figure out what to charge since the printing was $22.60 per copy...a bit more, ok a lot more than I wanted but will just have to work around it...

Monday, July 2, 2012

go ahead & hit me with the hammer with this headache I won't feel it!

For all of you that deal with Migraines I soooo understand your pain, not that I really want to share it with you, but I have had them since I was 15.

I went through a bottle of 100 asprins in 7 days & my folks noticed, being good parents or just tired of trying to get an asprin for themselves...... off to the doctors we went.

Me being only 15 at the time, had no idea what the big thing I took a few pills for the pain, why was everyone freaking out on me?

 Like really???  what I did not know was I had thinned my blood so much, I could bleed out & just one more asprin could have killed me.  Ok, so then I got it after the doctor told me & my folks this...but hey what about this monster headache that just won't go away?

After another visit to a hospital with a big noisy machine that felt like a coffin & a needle in my arm sending who knows what in me, they declared a under developed vein on the left side of my head above my temple....So now we knew what was happening but  not how to stop the headaches that would later in life send me to bed for sometimes up to 2 weeks, make me throw-up, see stars & flashes of lights that made my head feel like it should go belong to someone else.

Part of growing from a girl to a woman seemed to have kick started it & by the age of 17 I was up to eating 13 asprins at one time to numb my brain...Did you know you can actually get a weird brain numbing high from eating this many asprin at one time?...Well I didn't but it sure didn't help with the school work or trying to talk to someone & make sense.  I knew from age 15 eating that many was bad, but when you feel like a semi-truck is running over your head & then backing up over it again & again you will do anything to stop it.

Fast forward to age 19 & pregnant with my son, Oh lordy no pills of any kind & all that throwing up was not due to morning sickness.  The pain got so bad that I could not lay my head on a pillow, learned to sit Indian style in the bed & fall asleep with my chin resting on my chest.  Sometimes that would let me sleep for a few hours, the back aches & not being able to move my neck right were worth it if it let the pain quit for even a small amount of time.  I tell you  there were times I really just wanted to die so the pain would go away. After my son was born my 1st hubby would have to take me to the ER & they would give me a shot to knock me out.  Thank goodness he was a fireman because he would have to carry me to the car & then into the house.  It was the only thing that would work as all the pills they gave me might work once & then quit.

Thank goodness at age 22 the medical field came up with a pill that had a high dose of caffiene in it that if you took it as soon as you felt the headache it might stop it.  Forget about trying to take it after you had a full blown migraine.....But oh was it nice when I could grab the pill in time.

I always know when one is hitting if I am awake when it comes.  I get this weird numbing feeling at my temple, I can hear my heart beating in my head at the area & know it will soon hit & boy will they hit fast....sometimes within seconds of this & other times I have up to 10-15 minutes before the pain explodes.  I tend to now wake up with them more than getting them during the I am out of luck of tending to it while its mild.

I have also learned that certain smells kick one in such as cigar smoke, rubber from shoe or tire stores & heavy perfumes like 'Poison'...oh & candle shops just about kill me to even walk near as well.

So forget me ever going with you to get candles or into a shoe store that deals with only tennis shoes....unless you want me throwing up out your car window on the way home.

Ok so back to what I was talking about earlier, at 25 I decided to go to college, had no insurance & worked part time at the college. No more ER visits or meds with the caffiene in money to pay for it so if I got a migraine I just stayed home in bed in a nice dark room until I could tolerate leaving it to say go to the bathroom.  If I had roommates they all learned if I was in bed & the room was dark to either leave me alone or whisper what they had to ask me.  They also knew no loud music, yelling or parties while I was this way...or they had to deal with a very out of control mad eyed woman.  But since I was always older than my roommates they all respected this or maybe they were just afraid of me & what I might do...

For some reason by the time I was around 37 the headaches quit coming as often, instead of 15 + a month I might have maybe 2-3 a year.  My doctor thought I might have the type that stops for so many years but would come back when I started going through the change of life again...instead of girl to woman it would be woman to crone.....though I was jumping for joy at that moment I knew someday down the road unless a semi truck really hit me I was going to battle them again.....

Fast forward to around 44, hubby has just left for Iraq for a year & all of a sudden I start getting hot flashes...oh like that is sooo fair...come on...this is way too early to start this.  Now I don't panic & sort of find it funny that here I am just 44 & already the Crone is wanting to show up.  So far so good on the migraines, they still come only a few times a year so am just moving on & opening the freezer or walking out in the snow in a tee shirt ever so often  Yeah the neighbors are used to seeing me out in my long tee shirt & panties...hey its not like I am showing anything but really if you have had hot flashes its the way to go & it works fast.  No frost bite either.

I knew my luck had run out around age 48 when I got nailed with a migraine so bad I spent a good 3-4 days in eating, no talking, trying to not get up to go pee even....had the trusty big plastic bowl by the bed for just in case.  Once the pain had gone I knew my good (bad) friend was back & I would have to deal with it.  But now I had insurance...Yea!!!  So off to the doctors I went, who was so glad to see me.  He hates that I refuse to come in for anything but my yearly checkup so he was more than willing to listen to me & try to help.

I told him I wanted something that was not addictive & that won't put me to sleep unless I took 2 of them, I didn't mind it numbing me or make me slow...Promised not to drive or do heavy lifting while on it so he found one that helps.  It doesn't take the pain completely away but lets me stay up right.  I can take it if I wake up with a migraine or get one during the day, it takes about 15 minutes to work & I am in a nice fluffy cloud with the migraine knocking at the door but not let completely in.  yeah I know I am messing up my examples but you get what I am saying...I know cloud don't have doors but hey its my writing so just go with it.

This last 7 days I have battled a migraine, some days its mild, others its really bad, so out comes the pill.  I have learned I can not do certain things involving glass, I tend to drop a lot of stuff while on this, I can't remember things so don't try & tell me you need me to do something in the next few days cause I won't.  I speak very soft already so when on this med I speak even softer so I have to repeat myself.  I still have to turn off a lot of the lights as it still hurts but not like the semi truck type pain & I have no appetite & can go days without food....but still drink a lot of coffee.

Its not always the easiest life to live, but I am thankful for each day I am migraine free. I no longer have to eat bottles of asprin, hid in the bed & hope no one comes in to ask anything.  I have learned to carry the meds with me when I am out anywhere because I never now what may trigger one, but I am willing & happy to do that.

Most people spend at least 1/3 of their life sleeping but with me I think I've added at least another 1/8 or more being in bed because of the headaches & its not easy to look back & see all that you have missed or are missing.  I hate that part of my life is ruled by these when they come & I just have to bit the bullet & go with it.  I know many never understand & think just take a pill or deal with it but there are times you just can't & you have to back out of life for a bit until you heal.  I have learned also that on the bad days if I am stuck in a bed or chair all day that is alright & to not feel guilty by it....but boy on the good days I am happy to be alive & out doing what I need or want to do.

The last 2 years have been tough with over 15 migraines each month, but I am a stay at home wife & can still take care of my chickens & cats, the dishes, laundry & sweeping of floors may not get done, but for me the important things like the animals get my help no matter what...even if it takes me 15 mins to walk 50 feet to get to them.

Oh I have also learned early on never drink while battling a migraine, eat dairy, eat greasy foods or go out dancing....just a few suggestions that might help you.  also a sock full of raw rice microwave until warm & put over the area that hurts the worst might help, some say ice helps them but for me it was always heat that helped the best.

Just know that you are not alone if you have these types or any type of headaches that seem to rule your world...I am always here & will  listen & be a shoulder if you need it.

Until next time have a wonderful chicken day...M'

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Egg bound hen..VERY graphic so BEWARE

Hello to all my wonderful chicken friends!

Now those who have read my Blog know how much my 'kids' mean to me & how I will do everything possible to help them even if that means putting them down as gently as possible.

Before I go on I want you to know there is pictures here that may turn some tummys so if you have a tender tummy do not go on beyond this point.

Rosy is a brown leg horn hen I have had for at least 3+ years, she has been a great hen besides being a bit skiddish, she has always been a gentle hen who i have grown to love quite a bit.  Well this winter with our odd hot days & cold days she had a on going chest cold that I did steam treatments for, vicks, heating bottles & so on to try & help her through.  Well needless to say she has had a rough tome but seemed to be getting a bit better until about a week or so ago...

My Rosy girl

Her coughing got worst as did her breathing is she got stressed so I just watched her & tried to make sure she didn't have any sudden events happen to getting out of the door so CeeCee could chase her.

I have noticed her weight was getting higher whenever I picked her up & her tummy area seemed to getting a big I watched that as well....She hasn't laid any eggs in quite awhile but since the winter I wasn't worried cause I know the chest ailments might have stopped that.

but yesterday morning when I went to put them in the outside pin I noticed she was doing the feathers down to the ground & legs spread bit which is a sure sign of egg bound.  So instead of putting her out I kept her in the house & did an oil treatment...for those of you who don't know this, I take a needle-less syringe & fill it with mineral oil & gently place it up in her vent & shoot it at an upward & to the right angle...this helps prevent it from being poo'ed out as quickly & will help oil the areas for her to hopefully lay the egg.

I put hot water bottles under her & sat her in my old rocking chair with a sheet over it so it would be quiet & private for her.  I also did up a dish of feed with some warm water in it for her & sat that in front of her so she would not have to move to eat.  I left her alone for a good 2 hours then checked on her.  she had poo'ed but no egg so redid the oil treatment. All this time her tummy is getting larger so decided when Thomas came home to put her in a warm bath with his help...didn't need him cause she did not fight me, I gently pushed on her sides to help open up the vent to get water inside her so maybe she would pop out the egg...  After a good 15 minutes decided she had been in there long enough so took her out & wrapped her in a towel, added the hot water bottles inside the towel & let her rest.
After about 30 minutes she started coughing again so I went down & got her & held this time she was struggling to breathe so asked Thomas to get the Chroloform to end her suffering.  After she had passed I noticed her vent area had started to work its way outside her body.  So knew right then & there I had to do an autopsy the next day on her...being today

Now some of you would never do this but for me I have to know why or what happened so I can try later on to prevent it...its not pleasant & since I love my 'kids' I have to cover their heads when I do this.  I was shocked by the first cut, all this yellow nasty smelling stuff came out through her small cut...actually it poured out & I hadn't even gotten through the skin area yet.  Well by the time I gently & carefully cut her open I had a huge amount of light yellow mass like things that felt like boiled eggs or semi hard cheese in feel....

beware pictures are now coming up.

Vent area outside of body

last egg up inside her

this poor hen had so much inside her it tore open the lining that carries the eggs & the old eggs that never made it out  had spilled into her body.  these old eggs had turned into firm yellow masses & there was no way for any egg behind them to travel out.  I don't know why this happened but somehow these trapped eggs had locked themselves into the traveling tube & stayed there preventing her from moving the others as these masses blocked the areas.

I was gentle so not to tear up anything inside her so I could look to see if anything else might be wrong.  Her gizzard was healthy & the intestines were in good shape but I did notice a few air pockets that could have been caused by her struggling to breathe at times & may have swallowed too much air.  so even with all this inside her she was still able to eat & digest the food so that explains why she was not skin & bones  but I am surprised that with this much stuff inside her she could eat or want to eat...

Ok for what I have learned by this...If the tummy area is not a semi hard mass you can maybe save them but once it gets to this you should put them down....Her tummy area looked like what a duck looks like a flatter tummy area instead of the nice rounded area a hen should have....The mass I felt up inside her was the last egg pictured but there was no way I could have helped her work it out since she had torn the insides & had old rotten eggs all through her body...tell you how bad this was she had pushed some of the old eggs up over her back area trying to get them out.

For those who think you might still be able to eat the hen I wouldn't recommend it as this was all through the gut area & was spoiled/rotten which means it may have tainted the meat so better to bury/burn the chicken than eat it.  Thomas dug me a hole in the older chicken cematary so she has others around her & I feel better knowing I didn't just bury her anywhere.

I am very sad to have to put her down but am thankful I am strong enough to do it to end her suffering......I adore the leg horns that I have as they are good laying hens when they lay & have Xtra large white eggs & are fairly easy chickens to work with..from my experience that is.

Oh a nicer note, Bowzer is still laying on the 4 eggs I let her have from CeeCees hens & am hoping in another week or so to have at least one baby chick for her to mother.  She so wants to be broody I couldn't say no this time around for her...I think she will be a fine mother & can't wait to see how large the babies get since she is a tiny hen & they will be big chickens eventually.

Well I do hope you all have a wonderful chicken day & I have helped you in some way...Until next time...M'