Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chickens. and Ducks. and Keets. oh my!

You may have noticed my absence for the last month. My Facebook people know that we got a few more birds in the last few weeks...if you count 81 as a few.
 See this is how it happened. Mike and I went to the feed store. The moment I walked in the door I heard a little "cheep cheep" (you can probably see where this is headed.) I was off like a shot towards the middle of the store where they keep the birds. There, in big metal bins, were the babies. I noticed right off that there were seven Barred Rock pullets, and four straight run Rhode Island Whites. I was prepared to wheedle and pout, if necessary, but hubby told me to go ahead and pick some out. After I picked the ones I wanted Mike came back to the bins and decided we should add the last of the red and black broilers that were left to our box. We left the store with 17 birds, and I was thrilled (if you'll remember I had lousy luck with chicks this spring and summer so my flock is down to just 10 hens and 2 roosters.)

Barred Rocks, RI Whites, and a few broilers for the freezer

 The next day I asked Mike to pick me up a new waterer for the babies and he came home with 26 more babies! I now had 10 Black Australorps, 10 Rhode Island Reds, 5 White Rocks, and a the lone leftover Easter Egger from the bin. We got them all settled in and cozy in their various makeshift brooders. 

We need a bigger box!

 A week later, Hubby got home from work and called me out to his truck. In the truck, on the seat, was a box. And the box "peeped" when he moved it! When I opened the box there were 17 Guinea keets. I was so excited, more babies! (Mike used his Jedi mind powers to get an amazing deal on them.)  Of course, they needed somewhere to go, and the area in the laundry room where the chicks were staying was already a little crowded, so we moved the outdoor brooder back onto the porch, hooked up the heat lamp and settled them in there.

They especially love to catch the bugs that swoop into the cage in front of the lamp
 Another week later, and I was once again called out to the truck after work. This time there were two cheepy boxes! In one there were 20 Khaki Campbell ducklings, and in the other were a dozen Jersey Giant chicks. The ducks went in with the keets and the chicks went in with the other chicks, into the new brooder that hubby made out of recycled pallets and hardware cloth.
The ducklings, before moving into the brooder with the keets
Jersey Giant chicks
 It turned out to be a bad idea to put the Jerseys in with the bigger chicks, four ended up getting trampled by the others and I had to move them back into the house. But this just means that they get lots of attention from the kids and will be more hand tame than the others. When one could turn out to be a 13 pound roo, hand tame is a good thing!

New brooder, with a nice little screened porch area

Inside the brooder

Ducklings and keets, they tolerate each other, but they don't mingle

"Are you looking at me?"
While I was out taking pictures the big ducks felt that they weren't getting enough attention, so they complained until I took a few shots of them. Geeze, they're such camera hogs!

Rouen drake and hen

Pekin hen

"What do you mean you don't have food?!"

Duck yoga

That's all for today. I hope everyone has a great week. Blessed Be...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poo free works for me

 Okay, the title of this post sounds a little odd, so let me explain... I haven't used shampoo or conditioner for more than 6 months. I watched a wonderful documentary on Netflix called Chemerical that explained that a lot of the personal care products we use these days are FULL of toxic chemicals. Since I often get migraines that put me to bed for the whole day (or longer) I decided to see if going "poo free" would help.
 Now, there are several ways to get your hair clean without using shampoo, but I decided to use baking soda since it's cheap, easily available, and I already have it on hand (because I use it for cleaning.) Instead of conditioner I use vinegar for all of the same reasons.
 I'll admit to being a bit skeptical before I tried it. I have straight hair down to my hips that has always been oily and prone to tangles. Could baking soda REALLY get rid of the oil? Could vinegar REALLY detangle all that hair? Would I smell like pickles after my shower?
 I'm thrilled to say yes, yes, and no! My scalp is clean and not oily, my hair is mostly tangle free, and I smell nothing like pickles. In fact, my scalp is producing far less oil than it used to. So much less, that I only "wash" it once or twice a week. And yes, I do seem to get fewer headaches.
 The process of using the baking soda and vinegar is no harder than using regular shampoo and conditioner. I keep two mason jars in my shower, one full of BS and one full of vinegar. I wet my hair and put about 1/4 cup of baking soda in an empty container (I use an old sour cream container) and then fill it with water. I pour it onto my scalp, rub it in for a few seconds, and then rinse. Next, I rinse out the container (remember to rinse it or it will foam up when you pour in the vinegar!) and then add about 1/4 cup of vinegar, fill with water, pour it over my hair, wait a few seconds and rinse.

This is all I use in the shower 

 A completely unexpected side benefit has been that my back, always prone to breakouts, has almost entirely cleared up. Once I realized that it was having such a positive effect on the skin on my back, I decided to give up soap all together. I now just use straight baking soda on my entire body. It's a great exfoliant and easily rinses off in our soft water. I've had some people say it's too harsh for them to use this way, but it works great for me.
 Just in case you think I'm fooling myself about my hair really being clean here's some pictures of it since I've gone "poo free" so you can see for yourself. 

Ooo shiny

No tangles and easy to braid

Clean and shiny
 That's it for today everyone. Enjoy your weekend and Blessed Be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Feeling Crafty

Feeling Crafty

     I've been feeling crafty lately. Now that the big kids are back in school I have the time to spend on something other than not losing my mind. I've been planning on making a braided rag rug out of all of the torn jeans I've been collecting for years, but then I ran across a picture of a crochet rag rug made out of old t shirts. I have 4 kids and a husband who works construction, so you can imagine that I have lots of old, ripped, outgrown, stained, and otherwise unwearable t-shirts, I have a big ass crochet hook, I can totally do this!
     I started by cleaning out closets and drawers to get some shirts. I tore them into strips. They turned out uneven and lumpy, but I began crocheting. The first attempt was not great, but it makes a great hot pad for the table.

My first try at t yarn crocheting

     Since I wasn't thrilled with the results I found instructions online to easily cut the shirt into continuous strips that would be more even and easier to work with. I cut the shirts, stretched the resulting strips to make them curl up, and rolled them into balls. Aislyn helped me and had a great time.

Starting to cut

Strips cut

Strips cut

Cutting into one long strip

Aislyn helped me stretch the yarn

Before and after stretching

Finished yarn

Ball of yarn (it's football shaped so it doesn't roll away too easily)

     Then I started crocheting. This yarn worked much better. Since it's so thick it goes really fast and makes a nice, cushy rug.

Much easier to work with

Starting on the third ball of yarn

     I'd just like to tell you that this the first oval I've done, so it's not perfect. Following a pattern is not my strong suit and I think I added too many stitches on the ends, so it's a little hourglass shaped, but I'm still happy with it. It works perfectly in front of my kitchen sink.

Finished product

Be sure to check out this week's Barn Hop.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mama's Marvelous Meatloaf

I've noticed that my recipe posts are, by far, the most popular, so here's another for y'all. This one is a big hit around here, and I think it's one of my favorites. There's just something about meatloaf that makes me happy. If you're wondering about the name, just know that my kids are big fans of alliteration...

Mama's Marvelous Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 stale hot dog buns (or any other bread)
  • 1 whole onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried summer savory
  • Dried parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Put ground beef and ground pork in a very large bowl.
  3. Puree the onion, celery, and garlic in a food processor. Dump into bowl with meat.
  4. Process hot dog buns in the food processor until you have crumbs. Dump crumbs in with meat and veggies. (I use hot dog buns because I always have a few extras in the pantry, feel free to use whatever bread you have on hand.)
  5. Add about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and dried herbs to taste.
  7. Add egg and mix with your hands until everything is well combined.
  8. Shape into two large loaves and place on your broiler pan (this allows the grease to drip through, away from your meatloaves.)
  9. Bake for about an hour and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.

    Here it is with some mashed potatoes and onion gravy, green beans, and homemade dinner rolls

This will make a LOT of meatloaf. It's enough for 12 people (or 6 people twice, which is the way we do it) with leftovers. It also holds together very well when you cut it, so it's great for meatloaf sandwiches for lunch the next day.
 I often sneak other veggies in this. Grated squash or carrots are good, but any veggies (grated or finely chopped) will work. I've added up to a cup more veggies without having to add more breadcrumbs or egg.
This recipe also makes great meatballs with just a few substitutions. Replace the summer savory with basil, and add a bit more garlic, roll them up into 2 inch balls and bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes, and they are great with spaghetti.
Have a great weekend everyone. Blessed Be...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spicy Pickled Carrots

 This week I made a batch (6 quarts) of spicy pickled carrots and half a batch (3 quarts) of pickled jalapeno slices for Mike. He has been missing the carrots that we used to get at the taco shops in San Diego, so I thought I would see if I can make him some.
 Since all the carrots in the garden have been eaten by...something, I told Mike to get me some from the grocery store. He got me 10 pounds, plus some onions and jalapenos. I don't know if they're exactly like the ones from the taco shop, but they are yummy, so I'll share the recipe.

Spicy Pickled Carrots

  • 10 pounds carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 12 jalapenos
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 24 peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 6 cups 5% vinegar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup sea salt
        Wash and prepare the veggies. Slice carrots into 1/4 inch rounds. cut onions into 1/4 inch slices, cut each jalapeno in half, peel the garlic. Wash your canning jars and then pack 1/3 of an onion, 2 jalapenos, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 peppercorns, 1/2 tablespoon of oregano, and as many carrot slices as you can fit, leaving 1/2 inch head space in the jar.
       Add the water, vinegar, and salt to a large, non-reactive pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then pour into the jars, covering the veggies, making sure to leave 1/2 space.
      These can go directly into the fridge or they can be canned in a water bath canner for 15 minutes to be stored at room temperature. For best flavor, wait at least a week before eating.
      Here's a picture of the finished product, cooling on my counter after coming out of the canner.

Pickled carrots and jalapeno slices
      Hope everyone has a great week...Blessed Be

Come check out the Homestead Barn Hop this week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Twins' Birth

  On August 7th 2002 Mike and I went out to dinner with Gabe, who was 16 months old, and our good friend Ryan. I was 8 months pregnant with the twins and I was STARVING! I hadn't been able to eat more than a couple of bites at a time for months because all of the space that had been occupied by my internal organs was taken over by the insane amounts baby inside of me. If I took more than 3 bites of food I had the very worst heartburn. This night it didn't matter, I was going to eat! I ordered Fajitas with rice and beans, and I ate every bite, I even had some kind of chocolate cake for desert. I knew I would regret it later, but I didn't care.
 We came home from the restaurant and I put Gabe to bed and then got ready for bed myself while the guys sat in the living room and chatted. As I was climbing up onto the bed I felt (heard? sensed? I can't really explain it) this little POP. I just stood there for a second, thinking, "What the heck was that?" Then I felt a trickle of liquid and I became totally irrational.
 I walked into the living room and told Mike and Ryan something like, "I think my water just broke. But I refuse to have these babies tonight, so I'm going back to bed." Ryan went immediately into panicked, single guy mode. I think he thought babies were just going to start shooting out. Mike, on the other hand, had been dealing with my particular brand of crazy for years at this point so he knew how to handle me. "Honey, you don't have to have the babies tonight, just call the hospital and see what the nurses have to say," he told me. This seemed logical, so I did.
 I remember the conversation with the nurse on the labor and delivery floor very clearly. "Hi, this is Renee, I'm Dr. Stehly's patient. Well, I'm 36 weeks with breech twins and I think my water just broke. I don't need to come in right?" The nurse asked me where we lived. I thought it was an odd question, but I told her, "Just down the street." "Honey," she said to me, "I'll see you in 5 minutes, I'll be waiting for you." Damn, that wasn't the answer I wanted!
 I stomped around the house, collecting all of the things I didn't have ready yet, packing my bag and grumbling things like, "...NOT time yet!...I'm NOT doing this tonight!...I don't want to...can't make me...fuck, fuck, fuck!!!!!" , while Mike tried to get a hold of his dad to come get Gabe. Dad was unreachable, but Ryan agreed to stay with Gabe until his Uncle Matthew could come pick him up. I think Ryan was just glad to get the crazy, ranting, cussing, drippy, pregnant woman out of the house at that point.
 As we got out of the elevator on the labor and delivery floor (more like 20 minutes later than 5 minutes) I was sure that my water HADN'T broken, and that this was silly, and that I should just go home, but Mike said he was sure they would check me out and send me home (he's sneaky smart and wasn't about to be the bad guy, he'd leave that to the nurses.) The nurse was waiting for me, probably looking for the hugely pregnant neurotic woman with the long suffering husband, and led me to an exam room. Another nurse came in and did a litmus test and discovered that my water had, in fact, broken.
 At that point all hell broke loose. One nurse ran off to call  my doctor and an anesthesiologist the other nurse started prepping me for surgery. She shaved my belly with a dry razor, nicking every stretchmark I had in the process. Then I thought I should mention that I had just eaten a full meal. If you ever want to see a nurse turn funny colors just tell one that's prepping you for surgery that you just ate a pound of fajitas. There was a hurried consultation between the medical professionals, and it was decided that they would go ahead and do the section, and just hope I didn't vomit.
 I didn't get scared until they rolled me into the OR and told Mike he'd have to change and wait for the anesthesiologist to start my spinal. He told me later that they tried to keep him out of the room for as long as possible, because they were afraid of what would happen if such a big guy fainted in the OR. They had actually started the surgery before they let him in. He sat down next to my head and held my hand as best he could, since my arms were strapped down to the table. The doctor kept up a running dialogue of what he was doing, so that we would know when the babies were coming out. Mike stood up so that he could watch them be born.
 Aislyn was first, the doctor delivered her and held her up over the blue drape in front of my face so that I could see my tiny daughter before he handed her off to her to the neonatal team that was waiting for her. Ian came 2 minutes later, slightly bigger and crying as the doctor held him up for me to see before he too got checked out by his own team. Both babies were wrapped up and I was unstrapped so I could touch them for a moment before they went off to the NICU since they were tachycardic and had low blood sugar. I sent Mike with them, because I couldn't stand the idea of the babies being surrounded by strangers.
 While I was in recovery a nurse came back with their measurements. Aislyn was 5 pounds, 2 ounces and Ian was 6 pounds even. I was thrilled that they were so big and shocked that I had had 11 pounds of baby inside of me. My mom came by to see me a few hours later, and she had been in to see the babies and had taken pictures. It was the first I got to see them since they left the OR. It was hard to look at pictures of my babies with oxygen masks and tubes and wires attached to them, but they were beautiful.
 I was moved out of recovery and into my regular room. Another nurse brought me a few pictures of the babies. I had to wait until the spinal wore off before I could go see the babies myself. Finally, 12 hours later, I got wheeled into the NICU and saw my babies. They were already off of most of the machinery and monitors they had started out with. After just a minute in there I realized that they were the healthiest babies in the room. They just had to learn to control their body temperature. I sat and just touched them for as long as I could.
 I went back to my room and pumped so that they could get breast milk instead of the sugar water they were feeding them. I walked back and forth several times so that I could give them bottles and then start nursing them with some help from the lactation consultant. They only spent 2 days in there before they were ready to start rooming in with me and nursing full time. We spent a total of 4 days in the hospital and then were all able to come home, healthy and happy.
 So 10 years ago, today, my twins were born. I laugh now when I remember how I went from a normal, intelligent, fairly rational person into a raving maniac in the blink of an eye. That's pregnancy for you.

All grown up now

Blessed Be everyone...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Biscuits for Baking Dummies

 Tonight I made biscuits. They smelled good. They were beautiful. They tasted good. It was a first for me. Baking is not my strong suit, and I've ruined biscuits so badly that neither the dog nor the chickens would eat them. If you know any chickens you know that they must have been terrible. 
 My dear friend Mary is a baker and she finally made me realize that biscuits aren't bread (which I can bake if needs be) and the dough needs to be handled more gently. Tonight's advice was, "Just don't overmix, you can do it!!!" 
 So I looked up a recipe on the Betty Crocker website and got started. It was a really simple recipe and I made a few small changes. If I can make these anyone can. 

Tomato Basil Biscuits
  2 cups self rising flour
  1 stick butter
  3/4 cup milk
  1 tablespoon tomato powder (dried cherry tomatoes processed into powder)
  1 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 450. Put flour in a large bowl, cut in butter (I used 2 butter knives and then my fingers) until crumbly, add dried basil and tomato powder, and then stir in milk. Stir just until it sticks together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Then put it on a lightly floured surface, dust with flour and kneed 5 times. Roll out to 1/2 an inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter and place with sides touching on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. 

Here is what came out of the oven. I served these with a pea and lentil soup with ham, my dried tomatoes and my dried herbs. The only thing I will do differently in the future is to make a bigger batch. Everyone had seconds and wanted thirds.

Have a good night everyone, Blessed Be...

Come visit the Homestead Barn Hop

Friday, July 20, 2012

Saving Money on the Farm

 As you can imagine, keeping 4 growing children and twenty-some animals fed can be rather expensive. So I thought I'd share a few of the ways we save a little money around here.

  •  Instead of buying cleaners I use (much cheaper) staples like baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda makes a great, gentle scouring powder and removes odors. A scoop in the laundry can help get rid of that "boy smell" that's starting to be a problem around here. Baking soda also makes a great substitute for shampoo if you want to go 'poo free, which I did 2 months ago. Vinegar kills germs and cuts through grease, so it's great to use on counters. It breaks up mineral deposits, shines faucets, and cleans glass with the help of some newspaper. Mixed together, they can unclog a drain. We do still use store bought laundry soap and dish soap, but I hope to start making those once the big kids go back to school. I'm also going to start making hand and body soap for us and to give as Christmas presents to the families this year.
  •  Mike does the grocery shopping. He has this innate ability to track down good deals that I just don't have. Since he knows that I can make pretty darn good meals out of anything he brings me home, he buys whatever's on sale (with the exception of organs, I still can't bring myself to cook or eat internal organs.) He mostly buys ingredients, rather than boxed, prepared items, so that I have lots of options when it comes time to make dinner.
  •  I almost always cook extra and turn the leftovers into another meal. This saves time and money. When I make spaghetti, I double the amount of sauce we need for the meal and make what the twins call "Mama's Terrific Tomato Soup" the next day. When I make meatloaf I make a double batch and roll the extra into meatballs. bake and freeze for my Italian meatball soup. Leftover roast becomes tacos. I've found that no one in my house complains about leftovers as long as they don't look like leftovers.
  • You'll notice I mention soup a lot, yes, soup is our friend around here. We eat soup at least once a week during the summer and probably 4 nights a week during the winter. I make bean soup, lentil soup, split pea soup, vegetable beef soup, turkey frame soup, meatball soup...well, you get the idea. It's delicious, inexpensive, pretty good for you, and really simple. It's also a good way to sneak veggies into kids who don't particularly like them, like my youngest boy.
  • We shop at yard sales and on Craigslist. When the kids need t-shirts or jeans, we check the local yard sales (and I want to point out that country yard sales kick city yard sales butts.) If Mike needs a tractor part, or an incubator, or whatever he checks Craigslist. He's particularly good at this kind of shopping because he has Jedi mind powers. Really, he does!! When he leaves the room people say, "Well, crap, those WERE the droids I was looking for!" but, by that point it's too late. He often walks away with things that weren't even for sale to begin with.
 I'm going to stop now, because my children are being very quiet in the other room. Every mother knows that that means they're up to no good... 

Us? Cause trouble? Never...

Have a great weekend everyone, Blessed Be...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Squash fritters

 Here's my recipe for summer squash fritters, it's for all the gardeners that are getting overrun with zucchini and crookneck squash this time of year.
Summer Squash fritters
  • 6 small summer squash (zucchini, yellow, or patty pan all work well)
  • 3 green onions
  • Small handful of fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • Flour
  • Pepper to taste
  • Lard (for frying)
 Cut the ends off the squash and grate finely, either using a box grater or a food processor. Place a clean dishrag in a colander and put the whole thing in a bowl. Put a layer of grated squash in the colander and salt heavily. Add another layer of squash and more salt. Repeat, ending with salt and then let sit for an hour.  Several cups of liquid will drain out of the squash, which will make for crispier fritters. After the draining time, pick up the dishcloth and ring out the rest of the liquid out of the squash and put in a bowl. 
 While the salted squash is draining, finely chop the green onions, including the green tops, and the parsley. Add to the drained squash.
 Mix in the eggs and just enough flour to make everything stick together. Add pepper to taste.
 Fry in a cast iron pan over medium heat in lard or butter until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and eat while warm. I like to put a small dab of sour cream on mine.

Here it is! Yum yum...

Link here

Planning my fall garden

The tomatoes are about all that's happy with the heat
 Last night I went out and did my evening walk through the garden. It's in really sad shape right now. Between the lack of rain, the bug infestations, the heat, and the weeds (which I haven't kept on top of, because it's been so darn hot) most of the plants aren't producing. It's time to start thinking about what I'm going to be putting in the fall garden. I have another 4 months of frost free weather, so I can start everything from tomatoes to corn and get another harvest.
 I've pulled all of my summer squash and put in some new seed in the plot that held bush beans in the spring. The Roma tomatoes have petered out and need to be pulled. The Beefsteaks are sprawling everywhere and have what I think is blight. I think they will come out soon too. To replace them I have 3 varieties of tomatoes started in a pot on the back porch. The cherry tomatoes look terrible because of hornworm attacks, but they're still producing like crazy.
 The hot peppers are doing okay, although a few have died off, the ones that made it are producing lots of peppers. The biggest surprise is the eggplants, which I had given up as a lost cause when the flea beetles went after them this spring. I had mostly forgotten about them and then, the other day, I realized that all 5 plants have small fruit on them!
 Mike's watermelon patch (which has grown to about 500 plants) are starting to produce fruit, but he's having a problem with blossom end rot. It looks like we'll be spreading a whole lot of ground oyster shell this weekend to combat that.
 The garlic I planted in February hasn't done very well, so I'm just going to leave it there over the winter and put in another bed (or 2) in October. Another bed will be seeded with green onions. If I cover it during cold snaps I should be able to harvest green onions all winter long.
 It's still to hot to plant lettuces, but I'm going to prep a bed for them, so that I can start some when it cools off some. The same goes for spinach. I'll be starting cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts in flats next to the tomato seedlings on the back porch so that they can go in the ground in 6 weeks or so.
 The big question is where to put in another crop of cucumbers? Cucumber beetles have been a huge problem this year and my harvest has been lousy. I'm going to try inter planting with radishes and a sturdier trellis to keep them off the ground and see how that works to deter pests.
 Another couple of beds will be devoted to beets, carrots and radishes. I'm thinking of growing some turnips too. I've never had them, but we can always feed them to the goats if we don't like them.
 Anyway, that's the plan for now. I guess I should go out and actually work in the garden, rather than sit here writing about it. Have a productive weekend everyone, and Blessed Be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I love my life, really I do, but things go wonky all the time and I end up with chickens in the bathtub... I'll start with the ugly and work my way to the good so we end on a good note here.

 The Ugly:

You can just see him in there
  •    Last weekend I sent Aislyn out to give the bunnies food and water. She came running in the house saying that there was a snake in the cage and the babies were dead. I ran out there (after grabbing my camera) and, sure thing, there was a snake in the nest box. It was just a medium, garden variety snake, but it was big enough to eat one baby and kill the other 3. The mama bunny was cowering in the far corner and practically jumped into my arms when I opened the cage door. Mike followed closely behind me, shotgun in hand. Then he proceeded to poke the snake with a stick, repeatedly, until the snake tried to climb out of the cage. Of course, it couldn't get out, there was an entire half-grown bunny rabbit in it's belly, but it sure tried. While it was stuck there Mike shot it. 
  •  Yesterday morning I gave the Maran and Blue Amercuana chicks fresh water. As I walked away I forgot to drop the shade cloth back into place. About 8 hours later, when it was 108 degrees, 14 of the 21 babies had wedged themselves into a small corner behind a cardboard box, where there was a bit of shade, and smothered to death.The survivors were quickly moved into the bathtub to cool off and recover. I can't tell you how bad I feel about it. 
 The Bad:

Sad sad zucchini
  •  Squash bugs have killed all my zucchini and yellow squash and are now working on the patty pan and cucumbers. I've pulled most of the plants and I'm going to try again in a different bed. I've heard that planting radishes all around the seedlings might help, so I'll try that.

    Get a room!
  •  Grasshoppers are everywhere right now. I can't walk anywhere without flushing out whole clouds of them. They don't seem to be too interested in the garden yet, but if they do decide to munch on my veggies there are enough to wipe everything out. They are also busy making lots of baby grasshoppers... everywhere I look there are grasshoppers getting busy.

We're letting it dry before we give it to the animals
  •  The corn has succumbed to a terrible earworm infestation. We're going to put in a new crop in a few weeks. Luckily, the chickens don't care if there's worms in the corn and the goats like the crunchy dry stalks, so it's not a total waste. I am sad that I didn't get any sweet corn for 4th of July though.

  •  Gabe has been sick. It's nothing major, just a virus, but it's awful when he's sick because he can't express himself very well. He's been sleeping a lot and Turtle is more than happy to keep him company during naptime. 

 The Good:

Aislyn, Ian, and Lily
  •  I'll start with the best thing. The pool!! The Nanas went out and found us the biggest above ground pool they could. It keeps the kid occupied, which keeps the bickering to a minimum. If it weren't for the pool the kids would have to stay inside when it gets really hot out. Plus, it's huge, so there's plenty of room for the grownups too. My favorite thing to do late at night now is to go float in my ring, watch the stars, and enjoy the quiet. 

Dehydrated tomato paste
  •  I have tons of tomatoes. Yesterday I stopped counting the cherry tomatoes I was picking when I got to 100. I've made a few jars of tomato sauce, lots of dried cherry tomatoes, and (my favorite) dehydrated tomato paste.We had amazing BLTs the other night and there is a big bowl of cherry tomatoes on the dining room table for snacks. 

Mama and babies
  •  Miss Broody wasn't having any luck hatching out her eggs, so I took them from her and gave her a few of the babies I hatched in the incubator. After dark I snuck out there with 4 babies and switched them for the eggs. The next morning I went out to check on the little family and all seemed well. The next day she let them come out of the nestbox and explore the coop. Now they're running around after their mama and she's teaching them that the compost bin is the best place to find tasty tidbits.

Buddy likes to be in the middle of things
  •  Buddy the duck was delivered to my a door a couple of weeks ago by one of the (semi) local members of my gardening forum. He needed a new home, and I have the space for him. The other ducks gave him a bit of a hard time when he first arrived, but now he's part of the group. He's a crested Khaki Campbell and a very handsome guy. I think some of the Pekin girls are sweet on him.

That's it for today. It's time to have some lunch and then go swimming. Blessed Be...