Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Halloween Chocolate.

Posted on | November 5, 2014 | 1 Comment

Well, Halloween came and went and all I got was a few fun-size Snickers out of the kids’ treat bag.  Which are not as fun as one would think.  Unless your idea of fun is a nice, hard tease.  The kind of tease that says, “Mmmm, isn’t this fun?  Imagine how much fun a full-size Snickers bar would be? Can you imagine that?  Well, can you?  Hey, there’s your car keys….”

Luckily there was some bonus chocolate.  That’s right, the Copper Maran pullets laid their first eggs on Halloween weekend.  So the nest box was full of chocolate eggs.  Here they are next to Mattie’s, the Buff Laced Polish, white egg.

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Posted on | October 31, 2014 | 1 Comment

There’s no way of knowing who will live and who will die.  But, for sure, some aren’t going to make it.

That’s the kind of Halloween we’re having this Friday.

Apparently Mother Nature decided to dress up as Jack Frost.  By the time the goblins go to bed and the sun comes up on Saturday morning, temperatures should be in the 30’s.

Which means it’s the end of the line for some of the veggies in the garden.  But which ones will survive is up for grabs.  Sometimes the neighbors will get a hard frost on their lawn and we’ll still have only dew in the garden.  Sometimes the trees on our property do a lot to block the worst of the weather for the first 2 rows of the garden, but sometimes it’s not enough.  A strong wind that night may prevent frost from sticking.  Or the wind may blow away whatever we use to try and cover the plants, leaving them fully exposed.  The meteorologist may be completely wrong and the kids will be sweating in their costumes.  Really, who knows?

It all reminds me of that adorable sloth, Belt, in the movie The Croods.  Faced with upcoming disaster, destruction, and even death, he lets out an excited, barely scared, mostly cheerful “Duh duh duuuuh!”

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Throwback Thursday: Kick Off.

Posted on | October 30, 2014 | No Comments

With frost in the forecast for this weekend, I headed down to the garden for some clean-up of the summer veggies and to put down floating row covers for the fall crops.  Sheets would be used to cover the most prolific tomato plants as well as some of the eggplant and peppers.  Plus, I was hoping to save the only 2 vines that survived in the pumpkin patch, especially this snake gourd.

Imagine my surprise when I found my asparagus plants flourishing among the Johnson grass and honeysuckle on the garden fence.

I carefully pulled out the riffraff to expose the plants.  Weeding asparagus is fairly easy because they have a unique fern-like foliage….

and distinctive roots.  Although the roots should actually be underneath the soil instead of exposed on the surface like mine.

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Not Ebola.

Posted on | October 17, 2014 | 3 Comments

So it was Super Double Coupons at Harris Teeter.  Which is about the only time I step foot into the Teeter.  ‘Cause the Food Lion is more my economic style.  But when Teeter is willing to double coupons up to $2.00 face value, it catches my attention.  We don’t have a Teeter in my town so sometimes the savings isn’t worth the gas money.  As fate would have it, though, we had dentist appointments across the street from the Teeter on the same day that the Super Doubles started.  Of course, I knew the freebies would be picked over by the time we arrived in the late afternoon.  Apparently, people are waiting at the doors on the morning of the sale to clean out the Super Doubles freebies.  But by arriving at 4:30pm I would get some free items as well as a free afternoon snack for all the kids.  The Teeter leaves out free samples of cheese, fruit, luncheon meat, and cookies everyday.  Suckers.

I was happy with the savings.  We spent $31.23 and saved $84.24 in coupons.  It was the usual assortment of items we would never buy unless they were free or under $.50.  Like the Hormel Corned Beef Hash which Big loves for breakfast but leaves the house smelling like wet cat food at 6:30am.  The GoGoSqueeze apple strawberry applesauce that has already been rejected in 3 out of 4 lunchboxes.  The OIKOS Chocolate on Top Raspberry Truffle Greek yogurt which does not, disappointingly, taste like a chocolate bar.  As well as some useful items like Lance Variety packs of snack crackers, Pepperidge Farm frozen garlic bread, McCormick cinnamon, McCormick parsley flakes, and Mueller’s pasta. Read more


Posted on | October 15, 2014 | 3 Comments

Hey.  Who ordered pizza?

Wait a minute.  That’s not pizza.

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Posted on | October 10, 2014 | No Comments

We had a lovely vacation.  And I was mentally prepared for whatever was waiting at home.  After all, everything likes to get sick and die as soon as I step foot off the property.  That’s how powerful I am.  My presence alone keeps everything flourishing.  Either that or my system of farming is so complicated and haphazard that no one stands a chance of keeping it all together while I’m gone.  Let’s just say it’s the former, not the latter.

In any case, I only lost 2 chickens (the crested Polish, of course) and 1 of the goats was reportedly a royal beeyatch on the milkstand.  All tolerable.  Especially as a trade off for a week of this:

I was nervous about the garden, though.  Most of the fall plants were seedlings or delicate transplants when we left.  I had no idea whether there had been insufficient rainfall or a drenching strong enough to drown them while we were gone.  The plants could have withered and died in extreme heat or been choked out by henbit or chickweed in pleasant, moderate temperatures.  So imagine my surprise when I came around the corner in the garden and found this:

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Throwback Thursday I:Biodynamics.

Posted on | September 18, 2014 | No Comments

Because I am incredibly hip, I have decided to join the Throwback Thursday trend on social media.  No, I’m not going to get twitter or instagram and I promise I will never hashtag anything.  Mostly because the # symbol means “number” to me.  It has already been hijacked to mean “pound” on occasion. I think it makes life way too complicated to also have it represent “hashtag.”  Besides, it seems unfair.  Why so much attention for # ??  What do the people on social media have against ^ or {  ?  Those guys are totally underutilized.

I am also going to spare you any pictures of me in my 80’s hairstyle.  Primarily because I still wear my hair the way I did in the 80’s so you people get to see that every day.  Enjoy.

I also won’t bother to post any pictures of the kids when they were little because it’s too hard to resist the embarrassing photos.  The ones I am hoarding to display at the kids’ weddings.  Like this one of Middle playing princess and “breastfeeding” his baby.  In all his finery.  Because real princesses breastfeed, people.

Oh, wait,  I said I wasn’t going to do that.  Whoops.  Sorry, Middle. Read more

Work Out.

Posted on | September 15, 2014 | 2 Comments

I see what you’re doing there.  Posting your daily workout so you can keep track of your progress, make everyone else feel fat and lazy, and encourage and inspire the rest of us.

That’s sweet.  I appreciate it.

Thank you.

I’d like to participate in this new fitness trend but my daily workout usually consists of walking on the treadmill at the gym in order to get a glimpse of satellite television for 30 minutes.   I don’t have a “leg day” or “chest & back day” as much as I have “Celebrity News on E! day” and “Alaska: The Last Frontier day.”  Which is more entertaining and doesn’t have all the horrible side effects.

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Head of Household.

Posted on | September 10, 2014 | 3 Comments

The yellow jackets have lost their minds.  With the insects and nectar that they usually feed upon beginning to dwindle, they are hungry and irritable.  In addition, their colonies have had the entire summer to expand into huge hives hidden underground or in leaf debris.  Although the worker bees may not realize only the inseminated queen will survive the winter, they sure act as if their days are numbered and they are going to take as many humans down with them that they can.

I hit the first nest with the lawnmower in the front yard.  Luckily, I was casually pushing the mower, ran over the nest, and kept going.  Clueless.  It was only when I finished that row of grass and turned to start the next row that I looked back and saw a huge swarm of yellow jackets, angrily buzzing in my wake.  Either I ran directly over the nest or close enough to it that I had triggered the attack.  But since I moved away slowly (mowing the lawn in full sun and high humidity is not a game of speed), the yellow jackets seemed confused about my role in the drama.  Swift movements attract yellow jackets exiting the nest in defense because even bees know that only guilty people run.  Being a slow-moving, nonchalant, blob about 20 feet away was less suspicious.  Which goes to show that ignorance is a defense on occasion.

The second nest was a bit more problematic.

I staggered out of bed after night shift to find Pretty and her friend rushing inside, slamming cabinet doors, and babbling excitedly.  I wasn’t going to ask what happened before I had a cup of tea, but they quickly told me that they had run into a bunch of yellow jackets and been stung multiple times.

“How many times?”  I asked.

“Oh, like 10, no 13, maybe more!”

Now I was awake.

“What?  Where?”  Then, “Oh, jeez, you’re not allergic to bee stings, right?”  I asked Pretty’s friend.

She assured me that she wasn’t and the girls went on to tell me that they had been up on the barn roof.  They started kicking off the piles of leaf debris from last fall.  Of course, they hit a yellow jacket nest and were swarmed by the bees.  Pretty managed to climb back down the ladder off the roof and fled into the woods.  Her friend just jumped off the roof and ran through the back yard.  Apparently they spent some time tearing off pieces of clothing and shaking out their hair to free trapped bees before stumbling into the house looking for anti-itch cream.  Sure enough, their hands and arms, legs and knees, necks and faces were covered with angry red blotches. Read more

The Cost of Carrots.

Posted on | September 1, 2014 | 6 Comments

This was the first year that I grew carrots in containers.  I did it because this guy told me to.  I found his instructive video by typing “growing carrots, lazy” into the search engine.  The best gardening tip I can give you is to always add a comma and “lazy” when searching the internet for garden plans.  I used to add the word “easy,” but obviously “easy” means different things to different people.  “Easy” method suggestions included digging garden beds down to 18″ deep and making your own seed tape with flour, water, scissors, toilet paper, ruler, paintbrush, blah, blah, horribly not-easy-at-all blah.  In fairness, I consider myself more “time-crunched” than “lazy.”  But the internet gets too confused if you search for “growing carrots, time-crunched.”  Everybody’s pretty much on the same page for “lazy.”

As it turned out, planting carrots in containers was a wonderful idea.  My parents left a bunch of empty patio containers here last year.  I carried them to the garden.  Filled them up with wheelbarrows of compost from the chicken pasture.  Sprinkled the carrot seeds in rows that I dug with my index finger.  Covered the rows back over with soil using the palm of my hand.  Easy.  Lazy.  Whatevs.

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