Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dressing chickens and windows

I won't include the pix (this time, hee, hee) of the whole chicken experience. No pun intended. But, it was successful! Poor guys...not for them I guess, though. Our freezer is full of fresh whole young chickens! I still have not cooked one. I am working up my nerve. The last thing my mom-in-law said as they pulled away was, "be sure and let us know when you cook the first chicken!" Gulp. Yes, we will. Mom and Dad Neal were troopers. We all pulled our fair share of the work, with dad (who had never dressed chickens before) doing the most! I'll leave it at that. The funny thing is though, the store certainly packages them better - we'll have to figure out a way to get them more compact b/c right now they look too much like...well, whole young chickens.

A lot has been going on with the farm this month. We are the last in the neighborhood to command attention b/c we are on the far recesses of the earth. But, when the weeds are taller than my 6'2" husband we start getting antsy for the farm to be baled and/or cut. We finally found someone to bale the 25 or so acres closest to the house. They are round bales and we were hoping for square, but beggers (who don't have equipment) can't be choosers. Our tractor is out of commission so we can't move our share of the bales under shelter until it's fixed. That means they are getting wet with each little shower we have. I know you are all extremely concerned about that. Thank you for your sympathies. The farmer that rents the other 75 acres mowed this week. Thank goodness! At least we didn't have to wait until August to watch the weeds fall down.

John is growing by leaps and bounds. He is, of course, my shadow. I love it most of the time, but when daddy gets home at 5 or 6 mommy is ready for him to shadow daddy. He can play by himself more each day, for which I'm thankful! The little toddler still thinks everything is "mine." When will it end!?!? He's in this cleaning phase now...wants to wash everything in the sink, wipe down anything that has a speck of dirt on it (can you tell what we do around here!?), and take the dishes to the sink with a resounding CLANG. Helpful? Maybe. More mess for mommy? Usually. These days will be over too soon and I will say, "where did my toddler go!?" So, I TRY to enjoy them. Though by the end of the day I need reinforcements. I don't know how single parents do it - I am so thankful for my partner in crime, Sir Charles.

I'll end with a little style entertainment. I've already posted pictures of our drapes in our living room. But, I didn't include the images of the rods that I found and stained. So, the story goes...I didn't want or need to spend the money on fancy rods that cost upwards of $30 or more. I just can't justify that kind of money when the budget doesn't have it to begin with! So, thanks to Mom Neal she gave us the idea to use wooden dowel rods from Lowe*s. I was not keen on the idea at first. They looked kind of sparse and not quite as fancy as I had in mind. So, as my daddy always says, "where there's a will, there's a way." I trekked to Lowe*s and found the rods. Nearby I saw finials that I liked. Then I hit the stain aisle and found black stain.
Here's the cost break-down:
Sturdy wood dowel rods 1" in diameter = $3
Steel hangers painted black = $1 (two/window)
Finials = 2 for $1.50
Black stain (that I can use for other projects too!) = $5

Total cost/rod = $13

And, the wood is so much sturdier than other rods I found. So, for half the cost I created the "look" I had in my mind. And, the best part? I didn't break the budget.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A little F.U.N. before

I must confess. I stayed up late last night and played around on blogland. I found some fun, creative blogs that I'll link up to and mention. First,, has some inspiring ideas and lots of before and afters. Scroll down to see her labels - they are filled with fun projects. Some you will like, others you'll love. She has 2,026 followers. Yikes.

Next, Shanty2Chic is too much. So many links to other fun stuff...and more. Enjoy.

* I have to post a disclaimer...these blogs are full of stuff, so don't expect them to load quickly. For you, maybe they will. For me, it was a test of time and patience with my ol' dial-up.

Happy exploring.

This weekend we are preparing to host my parents-in-law. We're going to (how should I put this?) "process" some chickens. My friend said, "does that mean what I think it means?" Yes, it does. Yes, it does. There is more prep work than I had anticipated. Good thing I started thinking and reading on Monday about our weekend plans. Here is my to-do list:
Call my dear friend, Lynsey
Change bedding and air out guestroom
Make bran muffin mix for breakfasts
Make my mom's delicious summer Lemon Cake for desserts
Plan menu
Grocery shop
Can our ever-growing pile of ripe tomatoes
Make salsa
Return library books
Clean house, keep house clean, take care of toddler who wants to help with everything
Keep up with laundry
Collect necessary items for "processing"

Whew. I think that's it. I've done a lot of those much more to do.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Farm Tour

This past weekend the 3 of us traveled 15 min. down the road to tour a local farm. Pike Valley Farm raises 32,000 natural and organic chickens/year and is the largest producer of pastured poultry in the nation. They are young, only 5 years old, but are mighty! The Pike family has done a remarkable job of modeling their products after Joel Salatin. It was such a fun experience to tour their acreage on a hay wagon! In addition to poultry they have beef and pork, too. We were inspired and re-energized for our oh, so-much-smaller journey into processing 14 roosters this weekend! Please check out Pike Valley and support their growing business...only until we are able to provide some of those things here at Palisades Point, mind you :).


summer family pic

Monday, July 12, 2010


I figured these were pretty self-explanatory! Our laying hens are great...staying out of my mulch, in their pen and laying eggs. I am happy and healthy. Oh, and the chickens are too. Corn looks promising this year. This is all sweet corn. Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday's Tomatoes

The secret is in the mulch. For years we have read about, watched others, done the work for others, and tried our best to mulch our garden. It keeps the weeds at bay, amends the soil, and looks neat and tidy. Mulching, that is. also takes a good source from which to get the mulch and a way to haul it. This year we finally had a way to haul it (old truck was running), a place to get it free (AC horse farm), and made the time to put it down (in the heat and humidity we just made it happen). We've decided we'll mulch for several years and then take a break and lay plastic. Mulching is a lot of work if I haven't convinced you of this by now!

For words that match the beating of my heart, go here...
"And, if you get bored, I truly understand. I will not hold it against you," said with a smile. One of my favorite lines about his weeding techniques is..."he uses a wheel hoe and hand hoe, with hand weeding as a last resort." Amen. I'd like you to chuckle along with this "farmer" about the fact that we do not own a single hoe. Huh? No hoe you ask? Why not? Weeding by hand keeps us humble. We've decided humility is over-rated. Anybody got a hoe? Wait, don't answer that...we'll just go to Lowe's.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

S'mores, campfires, family that are truly friends...what more could we ask for!?

We made our first batch of salsa on Friday. We thought it was pretty good. Our friends Jon and Heather came over for dinner and liked it too. So, that clinched the flavor factor. Jon is such a great friend...he helps us fix all of our breaks here at the farm. I guess we should call him Dr. Jon. And, Heather is so sweet...she is one of the funniest girls I know. We break stuff just to have an excuse to have them over.

Our little man has finally learned to read by himself for more than a second. We all sit around reading our individual books or magazines...or tractor calendars, as the case may be. We hear lots of mumbling about "turn key on, get up on tractor, get down, ride tractor, daddy ride tractor," and so on and so on and so on.

Big news here at 272 Brenda Way. Mommy has not slept well for awhile now. Between John waking at least once in the night (not SO much anymore, but toddler dreams wake him now), Charley snoring and rolling and flailing, I just don't get more than an hour or two of consecutive sleep each night. I guess that's been going on for years now... Anyway, we made a decision to have Charley sleep upstairs for a few night while I tried to see if I could get more sleep. And, it's worked! I slept 6 consecutive hours on Friday night. And, last night I slept for 9 entire hours without waking up once! Maybe my crankiness, irritability, ill attitude, and there are more words I can use to describe it but won't, is waning. Could it be possible that this was the answer all along!? I do have to add that I am trying a gluten and lactose free diet. I've been "free" for about a month now. I can honestly say it's made a difference. I don't have excema and do feel less irritable. Hopefully, with these changes in my life I will feel more balanced and "normal." No laughing, folks. Oh ok, you I have my permission...I love self-deprecation.

Thanks for listening to me ramble about life. Who knew I would ever be one to share myself online. I guess motherhood and a little growth did that for me. Oh, and did I mention gardening, fresh air, naps and plenty of loving animals around?! Ok. Enough.

And, one last picture to hint at the fun we had with family...isn't my sister-in-law beautiful?!

We'll be back with more soon!

Love to all.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Family Affair

My mom bought the fabric and Charley's mom sewed! We love 'em. The "hammie" had to say "cheese" and get in the second picture.