Wednesday, July 31, 2013

RIP John Deere 210

We purchased our first lawn tractor in very early April. Ghon found it parked in the front of a house along his commuting route. We were able to get a little off of the asking price, but not much. It burned oil, but did it's job.

It was a good little lawn tractor. Came with a tiller attachment. Ghon used the tiller attachment first, prepping for spring planting.

The first drive...

The grass grew and off came the tiller attachment and on went the mower deck. The kids loved riding in the two behind wagon, and even I learned how to drive it.

The last ride the kids had...

Monday, after Ghon dealt with the fox, he drove the tractor and mowed more grass, then took into the woods along some roads that had grown over with grass.

And there, in the woods, it took its last chug, and died.

Poor JD210. You were only with us for four short months, but brought so much convenience to our lives and fun to the kids' life. We had just bought you a new battery. The kids will miss you.

And I, I will curse you while Ghon feels mixed emotion of sorrow and rejoice.

'Cause now we have to buy a new tractor. It doesn't make sense to buy a lawn tractor, when down the road, we will need a larger farm tractor. The tractor purchase, that was supposed to be a year or two down the road, is now happening this summer.

Damn it.

We are building quotes on New Holland (blue) and another John Deere (green). Kubota (orange) is definitely out of our financial comfort zone.

Any opinions out there on the blue v the green?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Trappin' 2.0

Ghon wanted me to stop by the farm on my way into work today to see if any of the traps were successful. I pulled into the field about 5am and couldn't see anything in the live cage traps or the leg trap he set. All I saw was another damn deer in the garden, who was spooked enough by my truck to run.

As I started backing up, I caught a glimpse of an animal running behind me. It had a bushy tail, and I immediately thought, "Fox!"  I saw movement in the side window, but by the time I finished backing up and had my headlights pointed at the field, I couldn't see a thing.

Ghon was able to sleep in this morning and after dropping the kids off at daycare, he headed to the farm. First night with the leg trap out and success! A pretty little chicken killer was caught.

Convicted chicken killer #2

Rodents, yard work, and kitchen clean up

If you are keeping track, please add rodents to the list of creatures that I don't like. I can't say the house is 'infested' with mice, but they've been seen about, and early into our farm ownership, I did have Ghon set some traps and we got a few in the house.

We've found dead mice in the walls. Mouse 'droppings' were all over the attic and storage room.

I don't like mice. Or rats.

Where snakes terrify me, for Ghon, it's the rat. Not much, other than the sight of human blood, creeps him out more than a rat. 

A few weeks ago, I lifted a board up off the ground outside, let out a scream (of surprise, not sheer terror like with the snake) and dropped the board. Jonathan immediately yelled "It's a rat!"  I wasn't sure if it was a rat or a mouse, but knew that sucker had a long tail. Ghon thought perhaps it was a shrew or baby opossum. I disagreed, but wasn't ready to commit to there being a rat in the yard.

Until I trapped one.

First the groundhog and chicken, then a rat. I didn't fuss with this sucker.  Jonathan was with me when I found it, and we agreed to let Daddy release it the next day when he came home from work. I wasn't as worried about it biting me as I was having it run across my feet. That's what skeeves me out - having a mouse (or rat) scurry around my feet.

Friday night Ghon released it from the trap without my knowing. Thank goodness for small miracles. I think part of him was hoping it really wasn't a rat, and that it was a shrew. No such luck, babe.

My disgust for rodents grew as Ghon approached the fire ring Friday evening. In his hands were two rolls of thoroughly shredded toilet paper. I have one drawer in the kitchen that I use to store a few things. Baby wipes to clean hands, aluminum foil, salt, pepper, Pam, a few faces masks and toilet paper.  And the freaking mice found the TP and chewed it to shreds.

I was pissed! Really? There isn't enough exposed insulation that they have to invade the drawer and find the Angel Soft? The weekend after a gazillion apple juice boxes gave Genevieve diarrhea and I used had to use most of the roll in the bathroom? We ran out of TP and I had to resort to using tissues the rest of Friday night.  This is what the drawer looked like Saturday morning.

Nothing is sacred.
I am so sick of mice and their droppings. Needless to say, when Ghon mowed the field Saturday morning and I found a dead shrew and two dead mice (thanks mower blades!), I felt no remorse. Hopefully once we live there, with a cat, they will stay out in the field. The far field. Or someone else's field.

Friday night at the farm, I relented, and we had cheeseburgers on the grill for dinner. Ghon did a little bit of mowing, and I picked up some random items to clean up. Before we left, Ghon and I took some loose chicken wire and tried to fashion a roof over the chicken run. Something, likely the raccoon was definitely getting into the pen and coop and killing the chickens. We have a few chickens that like to fly out, and think that may be how we are losing more chickens. We've been lucky for almost a week, but want to take any precautions we can to protect what few chickens we have remaining.

Our goal was to be back to the farm early on Saturday.

Goals aren't always achieved.

Late Saturday morning, the four of us made it to the farm. We had a good breakfast out, checked out Gander Mountain and Southern States for more traps, and stopped at the store to buy lunch and a few things for dinner. Ghon got right into mowing and the kids rode along with him.

First ride of the day.

Jonathan takes another turn driving the tractor.
After a few passes through the yard, I took over the mowing and Ghon worked on mowing and knocking out brush along the street. The kids rode in the back of the wagon with me as we went around and around the front yard.

Ghon and I had a weekend away last week, so no mowing was done. The grass was getting high in spots and required raking. I don't really like raking. Growing up, my parents mowed grass and I had to rake. I never liked raking. I'd rather mow, even if it's a push mower, than rake. It had to be done, and we had a couple brush rakes we let the kids use, so we got to work.
Both kids helped me rake the grass into piles.
One of them works a little harder than the other.
Genevieve treated the grass piles more like leaf piles, constantly jumping into the grass, throwing it, or laying in it. Jonathan was a great helper, working with me, rather than against me, pulling all the grass into piles.

After we finished raking, the kids and I took a lunch break on the back of Ghon's truck.
Jonathan thought Ghon's headphones looked like antlers!

Lunch break in the back of Dad's truck.
While we were out shopping in the morning, I picked up a new pair of gloves. I wanted something a little stronger, more comfortable, and it didn't hurt that they were pretty.

My new pretty and sturdier gloves!

I must have worked pretty hard though. About 4 hours into the day, I realized I had a hole in the forefinger.

Mad. Maybe halfway through the day and a hole in the fingertip!
Genevieve gets a kick out of the mail slot in the front door. She likes playing peek-a-boo through it. We made many trips to the bathroom Saturday, and each time, she wanted to say peek-a-boo before I was allowed to come out of the house.

Genevieve playing peek-a-boo in the front door mail slot.
After lunch, I tackled my project for the day while Ghon mowed the far field. Once upon a time, Ghon's father had a large rose garden on the side of the house. The large kitchen window looked out to the garden. Currently, there are two, not so hot, rose bushes and a ton of weeds and grass. The entire bed is edged with rocks that make it difficult to mow. My plan was to remove the rocks and let the kids stack them in a pile for me. We had our gloves on and were ready to work.

I pulled up two small rocks, and the kids moved them to a rock and brick pile. I tried pulling up the third rock, and it was stuck. Genevieve found a small trowel and started to dig it out.

This sucker wasn't budging. In the end, I had to get a shovel to help pry each stone out of the ground. I think my father in law cemented the rocks together. I was pulling out sections of rock that were clearly once three rocks, but were now one. It was hard work, and the kids gave up - the rocks were too big and too heavy.

What is left of a rose garden. See the rock edging? No? That's why it's tough to mow and has to go!
The kids tried to help me dig the rocks out and ended up digging in dirt.
(Which is perfectly fine with me!)

Genevieve loved finding and playing with worms.

Jonathan checking out the worm.

All of the edging rocks removed.

Removing the rocks was physically draining. Stand up and use the shovel. Down on the ground and pull out the rocks.  Back up. Back down. Repeat. The grass had been wet when we started working that morning, and we had a drizzle or very short shower a couple times during the day. My feet were soaked and so sore after the rock removal. Fortunately, during our morning stop at Gander Mountain, and Ghon and I each bought a pair of hiking sandals. Those suckers found their way to my feet quickly after the digging was complete. My socks were soaked. My feet were a wrinkly mess. Yuck.

After changing my shoes, I trimmed back tall grass by the house, along the driveway and along the front walkway. When I couldn't feel my hands any longer, I set out with Genevieve to help Ghon and Jonathan. They were working on mowing another section of the field, and were taking the grass piles to a new compost pile. With the rake in my hand, it was back to work, moving my way down the hill to make grass piles for the boys to take to compost.

Genevieve chose this time to sit in the damp grass and take off her shoes and socks. Like mine, her feet were also wet and achy.I tried to get as much grass off her as I could and told Ghon I might need to leave soon with her. Then Jonathan started complaining about his feet and we realized it was already 7pm! Time flies when you are having fun! 

I tried to get the kids settled by the fire for a bit so we could feed the chickens and get home. No dinner on the grill that night!

Selfie with my little tomboy.

Drying out his feet at the end of a long, hard day of work.
Sunday, Ghon had to work in the morning. The kids, Pop, and I did our usual 4th Sunday pancake breakfast at the firehouse then grocery shopping. After finishing up laundry and vacuuming at home, the kids and I headed to the farm for 'inside work."

Jonathan provides a great conscience when it comes to working on the house. There is so much outside work to be done, so much grass to be mowed, there hasn't been a lot of work going on in the inside. He is always asking when we will do inside work - he knows that finishing inside work brings us closer to finishing the house.

I set the kids up with a DVD player upstairs in their safe room and got to work in the kitchen. First step was to move the cabinets out of the kitchen. Then I sorted random tools, tossed trash, and started vacuuming the dead bugs off the counters.
The top side of a Clorox wipe - after one sweep across the counter!
After the counters were wiped down, I did a quick vacuum of the floor, then rewashed the counters with soap and water. The little Clorox wipes weren't cutting it. The kitchen looks so much better now. Of course, Ghon informed me that if it rained Monday, rather than doing outside work, he would tear out more cabinets. Sigh. 
Before across the top, bottom after I was finished cleaning.

Since we had food at the farm for Saturday night but didn't use it, I grilled chicken for dinner and tossed corn in the fire pit. Ghon toured the garden and checked on the corn. Looks like the silver queen is ready! Now we need to get ready to harvest it!

Corn from our garden!

Using chicken bones from tonight's dinner as bait, Ghon rigged up an old leg trap between the garden and chicken coop. We've seen coyote footprints in the garden; another potential chicken killer. Ghon successfully hunted a coyote two years ago, so we know they have been around. Now we have three live cage traps and the leg trap set.

Before heading home for the night, we took a walk around the orchard. Ghon restrung sections of fishing line that the deer knocked down, but for the most part, it does seem to be detering them from the trees. We hung small windchimes that I picked up from the Dollar Tree around the fishing line fence. Hopefully, if the deer do bump into a line, the combination of not seeing the line and the sound of the chime will spook them enough to leave.

While walking around, Ghon found this huge moth. The Luna Moth is apparently somewhat rare, so it was pretty cool to be able to see one up close.

Actias luna - Luna Moth

That was the weekend. Lots of yard work and more to go. I wasn't able to get all of the rocks moved from around the old rose garden, so I need to work on that this weekend. There is still more yard to mow. I wear a pedometer and logged more than 20K steps on Saturday and over 12K on Sunday. I was so sore on Sunday, and my feet are still complaining about being stuffed into wet sneakers for so long Saturday. Oh well, what other option is there?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Outdoor Cooking

Have you seen the kitchen at the farm lately? No? Here, let me show you.

Messy, messy kitchen. Do you blame me for not wanting to cook in here?

It's gross. Not that long ago, it was actually clean, well the counters at least. Then Ghon removed more cabinets. Pulled more drywall. We had a spring infestation of ladybugs and stink bugs. Then, the ladybugs and stink bugs died. Flies come and go, and by go, I mean die. Same for spiders. Mice are likely still patrolling the area, though I leave absolutely nothing out for them. The cleanliness, or lack there of, of the kitchen has gotten a little out of hand. While I never claim to be the cleanest or neatest person in the world (I save that for Cindy and my BFF, Melissa), the mess really agitates me. The general dust, dirt, bugs and mice are why I use the refrigerator as a cabinet.Cleaning it up is my goal for this weekend.

When we spend a day at the farm, we have at least one meal, if not two at the farm. Other than demolition day when I heated a few things up on the stove, I've never cooked in the house. Almost everything has been cooked on the little charcoal grill I bought this spring. While it seems simple to throw some stuff on the grill, I have to admit, I've been a tad bit "grill challenged."

A little outdoor cooking education.
Used literally, the term "grilling" refers to cooking food over a direct flame or other high-heat source. BBQ, on the other hand, has three distinct differences. One main difference between grilling and BBQ is the heat source. BBQ uses indirect heat or low-level heat to cook foods - usually meats. Authentic BBQ takes all day, or even several days, to fully cook. This is due, in part, because of the low-level, indirect heat needed to cook the meat so that it becomes tender. But longer cooking times also allow the flavor to fully develop, helped along by the third important difference between grilling and BBQ. True BBQ will have a thick, tangy, mouthwatering taste that comes from adding wood smoke during cooking.

Excerpted from: BBQ Myths,

The closest I've come to true BBQ cooking is helping Ghon by adding more wood to the smoker or when I added the corn to the smoker on Memorial Day. If I counted all of the times I've grilled in the past, the total wouldn't come close to the amount I've grilled this year. I'd done a few burgers, steaks, and chicken before, but I typically left all outdoor cooking to Ghon. At the farm, the cooking usually falls to me. I do all the manual labor I can, but most all day work days at the farm, he is pretty involved and I dabble where I can while keeping an eye on the kids, feeding the fire, and fixing dinner.

After a couple months of grilling, I've made the following observations.
  1. Charcoal isn't easy to start. I've doused the briquets in lighter fluid, I've tried to build a pyramid and use fluid, and it seems no matter what I do, there is still some section that never turns to coal.
  2. Charcoal takes longer. Until now, I've only ever grilled on a propane grill. I can't really tell if there is a difference in taste between the two, but charcoal takes longer. Between the time to start the charcoal, have it turn to toasty coals, then the actual cooking time, the whole process takes an eternity. I find I have to start a meal about 45 minutes or so before I want to actually serve it. Yes, I just said 45 minutes is an eternity.
  3. I'm tired of cheeseburgers. The kids favor burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Ghon prefers burgers over dogs. Since the kids somewhat regularly have hot dogs for lunch at daycare, I don't make them often at home. So the ol' grilling standby is cheeseburgers. I declared a burger boycott a few weeks ago.
  4. I like grilled chicken. Ghon likes grilled chicken. The kid's toleration of grilled chicken is in direct correlation with the amount of ranch on their plate and the possibility of making smores. Same goes for pork chops.
  5. Since I don't use the kitchen, and no, I haven't broken out the chili/camp stove, sides have become minimal. I usually make sure the kids have a yogurt or an applesauce cup, but too many times, Ghon and I eat meat, and that's it. I've grilled some zucchini and Ghon helped me make baked beans once - by taking the lid off the can and setting it in the fire pit. That was cool. I set the lid back on the can, threw it in the fridge at the end of the night, and reheated leftovers the same way the next day. I've tried tossing whole ears of corn, unshucked, in the coals of the fire pit as well. That worked out pretty well. The last time I grilled, I cooked our sides at home. I found two metal serving pans, transferred the rice and veggies to the pans and covered them in foil. I set them on the grill grates to stay warm while I grilled the steak. Progress....
  6. I need to experiment more with foil cooking in the fire. I was a Girl Scout, but we used camp stoves the few times I camped. Ghon was a Boy Scout leader, but he cooked fancy meals on a camp stove. I threw some potatoes and green beans with butter into a foil pack and tossed it into the fire. Turned out OK, but I need some more excitement.
  7. It is possible to cook with a pot on top of the grill. Before Ghon put the can of beans in the fire, I'd lug a small saucepan to the farm with me and heat things up on the grill. The challenge was finding the right spot on the grill that did not interfere with the most heat for cooking the meat while also allowing the grill lid to close. It's like packing for vacation and trying to utilize all available space for all the baggage. It also requires more planning and makes more dishes. After working all day, who wants to wash more dishes? Not this chick.
  8. Ghon needs to BBQ more. Yes, BBQ, not grill. It's easy to set the smoker up in the morning, throw some meat on and 12 hours later have dinner. That's what I'm talking about!

I've decided to buy a propane grill. I'm watching the grill prices come down as summer progresses. I want something a little bigger than the charcoal grill I have now. That way, I'll save money on all the bags of charcoal, I'll have more room to cook, and if I find one with a side burner, I'll have another way to cook!

That said though, I do want to learn more about cooking outside.

What are your favorite things to grill? Have any tried and true foil pack recipes to share?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Ghon and I owned two homes prior to buying the farm. There are some tough things you have to learn and do when being a homeowner. But being a farm owner, I am certainly doing things I never imagined.

Like cleaning out a snake and mouse infested attic and workshop.

Like hunting for raccoons at night from a pick-up truck.

And trapping critters.

This spring, we had close to 80 chickens. Between a variety of predators, mainly raccoons, we have lost most of our flock. We are down to less than 20 chickens. It's a huge loss. The time spent raising them. The cost of the chickens and their food. And maybe even a little attachment.

After Ghon removed one raccoon from the mix, we hoped we would stop losing chickens, or at least have a decrease in the frequency. But that didn't happen.

Sunday we purchased several live traps. We picked two large traps, and one came with a small critter trap. I stopped at the store and bought cat food for bait. The trap instructions recommended fish, specifically, sardines, or cat food. I chose 3 cans of white fish with sardines and 3 cans of poultry. I figure if they like our chickens for dinner, perhaps they'd enjoy a little poultry in a can.

Ghon set two of the traps close to the main chicken run, one on each side. One is close to the woods and the other is closer to the field where we found a pile of feathers from a previous take down. The small critter cage he placed near the mobile chicken pen. The route Ghon takes to his new job doesn't take him past the farm, so it became my duty to check the traps on my way to work Monday morning.  If I saw anything, he would leave early to deal with the prisoners.

It was a dark and stormy night. At 4:45 AM, I arrive at the farm. I pulled my truck along side the coop and grab my flashlight. Swing left to the critter trap. Nothing. Swing right to the coop and check both traps. Nothing.  Either the raccoon didn't come due to the rain, or he just wasn't interested in the tasty vittles we left for him.

Monday night rolls around and Ghon leaves for two nights for job training. It's now my job to check the traps, and according to Ghon, if I catch a 'coon, load a gun and shoot it. Really? I can't really see that happening. I can't imagine. No way am I going to be able to figure out what gun to grab, how to load it, then shoot the chicken killer in a cage. No matter how angry I am at the stupid creature for eating all the chickens before we could, I don't think I can do it.

Monday was another dark and very stormy night. At 6:40 AM Tuesday, I arrive at the farm. I pulled my truck along side the coop, and check the traps by the coop.

Holy shit.

There is something alive in one. What am I going to do now?!

Yep, I check the other traps and leave for work. Well, first I did go have a stare down with it. It wasn't the chicken killer, but a cute groundhog.

Hey there! Thanks for the cat food!

Before heading home to get the kids, I stopped by the farm to release the groundhog. But first, I check the other trap - and guess what? Another critter. This time, it was just a stupid chicken.

Silly chicken - stay in your pen and you'll have more space!

The big kicker in all this trapping business is that I have no idea how to work the trap. Ghon didn't show me how. I'm a city girl. I don't know the first thing about opening a trap or resetting it. At this point I'm partially ticked at the stupid chicken and partially grateful - she will be my practice run at opening and freeing a critter from a trap. Which was easier said than done.

After what felt like forever, I finally get the chicken out, and spend another five minutes trying to reset the trap. There was nothing graceful about this process. If I was messing with an extremely ticked off critter, I'm sure I would have been bit. Several times.

Now, it's time for the groundhog to be set free. Remember I called it cute? I didn't realize how big their teeth were. Wowsers.

Of course, the trap is different from the trap the chicken was in.

I'm screwed.

Fortunately, the groundhog doesn't seem ticked off. I take a minute to determine how to work the trap door. I straddle the trap, opening facing forward, and with cautious hands, I open the trap.

Nothing happens. The groundhog stayed put. Are you kidding me? It's been locked up for at least eleven hours, if not more, and it stays in the trap? I had been warned to straddle the trap, to be prepared to run the opposite direction, and it doesn't come out?

So I kick the trap ever so lightly.

The groundhog comes scurrying out. And stops, about three feet away from the trap.

Again, I'm screwed. Fight or flight is about to kick in. Well, mainly the flight part. Ghon has already had an interesting experience with a groundhog at the farm. One got into the root cellar. Ghon was able to chase it up the stairs and onto the porch. But instead of running outside, the groundhog ran inside the house and upstairs. Seriously. Ghon chased a groundhog through the inside of the house. As he said, imagine a big redneck drinking a beer and chasing a groundhog through the INSIDE of the house. What a sight. Eventually it came out of the house, but Ghon was never sure if he went back into the root cellar or made it outside. And I thought snakes and mice were a problem.

Back to this story. The running commences. Through the grass and food plot in the chicken run and toward the outbuildings before stopping. Not me, the groundhog. I stayed put.

Have you ever seen a groundhog run? It's kind of funny but they can be fast when they want to be.

After his release, I figured out how to reset the trap and reloaded with cat food. Surprisingly, the groundhog ate a whole can. I reset the small critter trap and set off on my way.

I don't think we are calling for any rain tonight, Tuesday, so maybe I'll catch a raccoon tonight. Ghon comes home Wednesday, so he can deal with traps from here out.

I will admit, there is a certain excitement in checking the traps to see if we caught anything. But the excitement ends there.

*Wednesday morning update: Empty traps. One trap was tripped, and it was the one I had a harder time with, so Ghon can fix it later. Fingers crossed for a trapped evil critter tomorrow at 4am!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Securing the chickens and making ice cream

Ghon has been working little by little on the new chicken run. Even before the last raccoon incidence, the plan was to spend the day Saturday working at the farm, mainly on the chicken run. The fence post holes had been dug, the poles in place, but most still needed to be filled and leveled. We employed our friend Travis to help Ghon out, as for the most part, I would be picking up around the yard, cooking, and amusing the kids.

First, the kids and I tackled the recycling. We had two trash cans full of 4 months worth of glass and plastic bottles and cans. I pulled all the cans out and let the kids smash them - then put them in a bin so we can take them in for scrap. Then I separated the plastic from glass and loaded a few bags of trash in the truck. While Ghon and Travis started work on the fence, we headed off to the local transfer station. I let the kids handle the plastic while I sorted clear and colored glass and recycled cardboard.

As much as I can, I try to make learning opportunities for the kids. While smashing the cans, I gave a little lesson in recycling, and why it was important to reuse what we could rather than creating more trash. Now I just need to do some research on how to reuse all the juice pouches they go through. I've seen bags made out of them...

Once we returned from our trash excursion and filling up gas cans, Jonathan ran off to help the boys with the fence.

We have a TON of rose of sharon on the property. Our driveway is lined on both sides with the bushes. I am trying to thin some down to make it easier to see in the driveway. For now though, they are blooming in several colors.

I had promised Jonathan that he would have a banging project to work on at the farm. After stretching the fence as much as possible, we stapled it in place. The kids grabbed hammers and banged the staples further into place. It's the little things that make them feel like they are making progress and helping.

Travis has been anxious to learn how to drive. In the end of the day, he didn't get a chance to drive the farm truck, but Travis did get to drive the tractor across the field.

The chickens had been relocated a few weeks ago. We aren't sure what is growing in their old coop, but something that we fed them is growing strong. We think it is melon and some type of squash, but I guess we will figure it out when it grows more.

We used some deer feed to seed the chicken run. The plan had been to get the chickens in a while ago, but since the run is taking a while, the plants have grown like crazy. Checkout the size of the turnip Ghon found!

Creatures. A beautiful butterfly I was able to snap a picture of, and one of the largest beetles we've ever seen. The beetles are killing our fruit trees. Nasty suckers.

Jonathan is such a little ham. I can't believe he is going to start kindergarten next month.

Riding the farm truck out to get more fill dirt. Jonathan rode shotgun while Travis and Genevieve rode in the back, and Mom walked.

In addition to the beetles, the deer have been after our fruit trees. Cindy told me about a potential trick that Ghon implemented a week ago and seems to be working. He staked the perimeter of the orchard and ran three rows of fishing line all the way around. The theory is that it will spook the deer since they can't see the line. Spooked deer = deer that aren't noshing on our fruit trees.

At the end of the night, Jonathan climbed into Ghon's truck and Genevieve desperately wanted to do the same. It was pretty darned cute to see Jonathan try to help her climb in.

On Sunday, we headed back to the farm for dinner after Ghon came home from work. Ghon mowed some grass, Dad rode the kids around in his Razor and I made dinner and did some mowing. The highlight of the night was making homemade ice cream. I found this recipe floating around on facebook.

1/2 cup half and half
1T sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
Mix all in a ziploc bag
Drop the bag into a gallon size bag. Fill the gallon bag about 3/4 full with ice and top with 6T salt.
Seal the bag and shake for about 8 minutes.

The kids and I enjoy chocolate ice cream, so I added a little Hershey's syrup. The recipe said it would serve two, but I think one is a bit more realistic. Everyone had a turn shaking the ice cream. I think Ghon actually got a kick out of it - and had been a little leery as to whether or not it would work. It was amazing.

Jonathan is a self proclaimed chicken catcher. Anytime we have a bird on the loose, he chases them. After the capture, Genevieve has to pet them, then Ghon or I throw them back in their pen. Here he is with a Sunday night catch.

Dead Raccoon Walking

Early last summer, we lost a bunch of our chickens to raccoons. Almost our entire flock, which was smaller at the time, was decimated. After Ghon eliminated a few raccoons, he purchased about 30 chickens from a young boy who had raised chickens for his 4-H project. After the fair, he decided he was changing livestock and moving on to raise pigs.
With this flock came two roosters. A bad-ass rooster called Dr. Cox (named by the boy) and a one winged rooster. He had lost a wing in a fight with an opossum when he was young. In honor of his favorite Disney movie, Ghon called this new rooster Nemo -as both rooster and fish had one big wing/fin.

For a long time, we had a no-name rooster in the same run as Nemo. No-name rooster  quickly became Jackass. He was so mean to Nemo. Nemo ended up living in the coop, as every time he ventured out, Jackass would attack him. We started leaving food for Nemo in the coop. We would often have to search for him, and would find him huddled in a corner  or under a shelf. Eventually Ghon moved him to a smaller run and coop with our cochins, and he was MUCH happier. He crowed. He strutted. He was a rooster.

More predators, a stray dog, and hawks have had a huge impact on our flock at different points. Last week, we once again experienced sadness at the farm.

Ghon headed to the farm Wednesday to feed the chickens before work. The cochins have been broody lately. Although I have no reason why, Ghon's been letting them stay that way. Ghon arrived at the farm and found two baby chicks. And all three cochins were gone. All that remained in the run was Nemo and two babies. There were no signs of the chickens. Just a big hole in the wire around their run. I took the chicks home, and worried about Nemo, even though he is twice the size of the cochins and already a fighter.

I ran a few errands on Friday morning then stopped by to check on the chickens. Oh, not a pretty sight. No more chicks. Eggs, gone. We have a dedicated run for meat chickens we are raising - one had it's head missing - and was still stuck in the corner of the run. Innards on the ground behind it.  Whatever tried to get the chicken couldn't rip through the thicker and double layer of wire Ghon used to build this run. You could tell something tried to get in, but couldn't make it. Worst of all, Nemo was gone.

In Ghon's world, that meant war.

About 10:30 Friday night, he headed to the farm with his 22 magnum. With a flashlight taped to barrel, it was time to go raccoon hunting. My Dad kept an ear out for the kids so I could go too for about an hour. I had to take a second car, as Ghon planned to stay all night and put an end to the 'coons free smorgasbord.

So I went hunting for the first time.

And it was pretty boring.

We sat in the truck, in the dark, and well, did nothing. We listened.

After about 50 minutes of nothing, I heard a noise. Then, we both heard a louder noise. I was informed by the hunter that it was the bark of a raccoon.

So I got excited.

For nothing to happen. Except for Ghon starting to fall asleep and snore. I grabbed my stuff, came home, and went to bed.

Sometime between 3:45 and 4am, Ghon came to bed and didn't say anything. I had no idea if he was successful or not.
Saturday was planned to be a full day at the farm, work, work, working. Ghon needed to head out first to handle the remains of the chicken I found dead and check for raccoon remains. Once arrived, he realized the chicken was gone. I don't know if it's coop mates became cannibals, or if something else ate it, but it was ALL gone.

After some searching, Ghon found the coon. He only took one shot last night and thought it was successful but wasn't sure. Today, evidence! Goodbye massive raccoon. While I may thing raccoons in general are kind of cute, this guy was destroying our farm. He had to go. Thankfully my husband has a good shot even in the dark, at 3:30 am, after being waken by the sound of terrified chickens.
Dead raccoon. Full of our chickens.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pottytime at Hummingbird Farm

The farmhouse has two full baths. Actually, let me rephrase that. The farmhouse had two full baths and acreage.

There is a full bath upstairs, with a shower stall. I keep it stocked with paper, and it's in what we consider the safe room for the kids. If we are working inside, they can play and watch movies in there, have a picnic style lunch, and have a close bathroom.

The second full bath isn't really a full bath anymore, nor does it have the same level of privacy that most bathrooms do. Back on demolition day, the shower/living room wall was torn down and the bathtub removed. The sink was ripped out, and I've since taken it to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The bathroom has three walls, once of which still has a door. A door that is almost pointless. Closing the door will shield you from anyone that happens to walk into the house and the dining room, where the bath opens to, but anyone can walk around to the living room and there you are!

According to Genevieve, the downstairs bath also has dragons in the ceiling. Who really wants to have dragons watch them do their business?

I do. I prefer to have the dragons watch. When you are busy working outside, it's a whole heck of a lot easier to run in and run out then run in then up to take care of business. Although I'm not worried about the insulation dragon in the ceiling. I'm always scanning the dirt hole in the living room floor for some kind of creature. Therefore, the dragon bathroom is creepy, but still 'better' than going upstairs.

Unless you are a guy. Because guys pee on trees. And bushes. And bugs. And grass. And are oh so helpful when it's time to put out the fire. This time, I am talking about Ghon and Jonathan. Those two will hose down anything. To note, I do have a picture of Jonathan watering a tree. But his little butt is bare, so I won't post THAT pic.

But us girls have it a little harder. We can't aim. And as the kids remind each other all the time, only Daddy and Jonathan have penises.

Genevieve is a porcelain princess. She wants to go All. The. Time. Seriously. I can't make a trip to the store without at least one potty stop. A meal out? Count on two. I'm glad she stays pretty dry, but I'm tired of my grand tour of Winchester bathrooms.

Since the dragon bathroom scares Genevieve, she won't go in the house alone to go. So all work stops to take her in. So I taught her how to go pee on the grass. We'd already did it a few times during potty training and long car rides, but now we have it down to a science. The only problem is when we are at a public park, she announces that she has to go potty and tries to drop her pants right there to go. That is a no-no.

The only consistency in using the dragon bathroom is for poop. 'Cause that is a bit harder to do outside when you are a kid. Hell, I wouldn't be interested in doing it as an adult. When it's time to go poo, it's always off to the dragon bathroom. Where I have to turn on all the lights, scan for creatures, and have no place to sit and wait for that magical moment. If you have children, you know this adventure could take a while. Well, at least it can with my two.

So if you stop by Hummingbird Farm, you have a few options for handling #1. Find a tree. Walk upstairs. Use the dragon bathroom. If you are concerned about #2, I'd recommend going up. My potty campers could be headed in at any moment, and well, you would be left pretty exposed.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pinterest Project #1 - Day 2

Time to work! But first, Friday night we didn't do any! After picking up the kids, Ghon and I met at the farm for dinner. I grilled some brats and also ordered a pizza from the only place in town that delivers to the farm. We'd ordered from there once over a year ago and thought it was AWFUL. It's a chain place, several locations through town. Jonathan's t-ball party last weekend had pizza from this place and it was OK, so I tempted fate again. Amazingly, it was good. Jonathan ate two slices on his own. We built a fire to keep working the wood pile down. Ghon found a huge salamander under a piece of wood and after showing the kids, he took it over to the creek for relocation.

Saturday however, was a different story, a morning of work.

Ghon headed to the farm early and went to work on the chicken run. After breakfast, the kids and I came down to work. The kids ran around like a few crazies, while I picked up sections of the yard. Ghon showed me how to use the trimmer. First time for everything. Unfortunately, I was wearing shorts. I really don't think I'll do that again. Meaning, willingly trim while wearing shorts.

Ghon and the kids racked the front yard and took the clippings out to the power line to start a compost pile. Last week Ghon had bought each kids their own rake, and they finally put them to use.
After the grass clippings were removed, I jumped on the tractor and mowed the front and side yards. Genevieve was in need of a nap, and at one point I turned to talk to her, and she was doing the jello neck head bob...completely falling asleep in the wagon. I felt so bad for her. She eventually woke up and laid down on the blanket under the tree for oh, 2 minutes.

I remembered to cover the kids in sunscreen, and even put a little on myself, mainly on my tattoo. I wanted some "color". But yep, the color I came home with was red. Except for the tattoo.

Sunday, Ghon had to work and the kids and I set out to finish the second part of the pinterest inspired project. First we ran some errands in town and picked up the plants and dirt that we needed. When we got back to the farm, we covered ourselves in sunscreen and got to work. First, I removed the old mailbox post. Then, I dug out the rose of sharon in our way, and Jonathan helped pull it out. While the kids tried to dig the whole deeper, I brought all the tires down and got them into position. Three bags of dirt into each tire, a few plants, and we were in business! After we were done with all the planting, we took a break in the shade of one of the front yard trees. The kids had some juice boxes and ice pops to cool down, and I added the hummingbird flag.
Work zone. Pull out plants, digging holes and planting flowers.

Jonathan took this picture of Genevieve and I working.

Before and after. Old, falling down mailbox, rose of sharon. Now, a sturdy box, hummingbird flag, butterfly bush, and plenty of flowers. You can now see the road when pulling out of the driveway - before you are in the road!

Ta-da! The final product!