Chicken Rodeo

We knew that we had the potential for severe weather when we left for my niece’s graduation party yesterday. But we went anyway. Because that’s what you do when you have an amazing niece who does an awesome job and graduates and has a party and invites you. 🙂

We drove the four hours to the party in overcast skies and light rain. All afternoon at the party it was overcast and rainy.  It wasn’t until we were almost half-way home that the clouds started to look a little more ominous.

As we drove through some pretty heavy rain, Jan had me try to find some weather information on the radio.

Oh dear. There was a line of strong storms stretching across the state at an angle. Strong winds. Heavy rain. Hail. Even tornadoes.

We drove a little faster, ahead of the storm momentarily, but we could see it – massive clouds churning and moving.

An hour from home we start worrying about the chickens – 50 some broilers and a few layers that were in an outside pen. They had protection from the rain – but strong winds would destroy their pen in a matter of seconds.

We  drove even faster, watching the clouds darken, all the while formulating our plan to get those birds into safety before the storm hit.

As soon as we pulled into the yard – everyone would exit the van running. We would then all grab our boots and gloves and head to the chicken pen.

Buddy would grab the chicken tubs, Pedro and Jan the portable pens. Then Angel Girl and I would catch chickens, put them in the tubs and the guys would carry them to the pens in coop.

Great plan! We can do this!

As we drove down the gravel road I suddenly remembered that I was wearing my “Sunday best” clothes and would soon be wrangling chickens in a pen full of wet chicken droppings. This is not a good thing.

I removed all my jewelry and revised my plan to include a stop in the basement for a pair of coveralls.

Jan pulled in the driveway – with the clouds hanging overhead. He and the kids race towards the house. I  race, too, but a little slower as I realize that I’ve been in the car for 4 hours and really need to save my bladder before I can save even one chicken.

I’m just leaving the bathroom as the kids are already heading outside. Then – in a massive dash to catch up – I run to the basement and grab the first pair of coveralls I can find – a bright blue pair of my dad’s that say Jim on the pocket.

As I squeeze into them – I notice that one knee is out and material is a little thin. But there’s no time to change. I grab the only pair of boots I can find – and of course they haven’t been worn for some time and are covered with dust and spider webs. I can only imagine what’s inside each one.

It’s then that I remember that I’m barefoot – having worn sandals all day. But there is no time to be squeamish, I turn the boots upside down and shake them out – just praying that any spiders that may be inside are dead. Then push my bare feet into the boots, shuddering as I hear crunching.

I grab a pair of gloves – mismatched of course – and rush out to save the day.

To their credit, none of my children laughed (much) as I showed up in the chicken pen, bent over to grab a chicken and promptly ripped out the entire backside of the coveralls.

But I kept working – everybody did – and we saved all fifty some broilers and the handful of skittish layers as it started to drizzle.

There went my hair. So I’m wearing bright blue coveralls with a ripped out backside and Jim on the pocket,  rubber chore boots full of dead bug parts and a pair of mismatched gloves and now I have Bozo the clown hair.

But at least we saved the chickens.

And I got a blog post.

I hope you at least got a chuckle out of it. 🙂

“Just Fencing in The Rain”

There’s a reason that farm wives like to live in the country.

Not only do we enjoy the peace and quiet of nature – but we also appreciate the fact that no one is around to see our fashion faux pas.

This fact became very clear to me recently while standing in the rain holding fence posts for my husband who was fixing the electric fence.

It wasn’t raining when we started – but it didn’t take long for the light drizzle to get heavier until soon my blue jeans were so wet that movement was difficult, especially on a wet and slippery hillside dotted with fresh cow pies.

Then my glasses got all steamed up and so covered with rain drops that I couldn’t see anything.

Which was good. Because I would have been mortified if I could see the damage the rain was doing to my head.

It wasn’t until later – when I was inside drying off  – that I glanced in a mirror and discovered what I really looked like.

The rain had totally soaked the top of my head, plastering the hair down, while the humidity in the air started frizzing the sides out until that hair was almost horizontal.

This unique look could only be described as Bozo the clown.

Not exactly my proudest fashion moment.

At least nobody saw me.

And I didn’t slip on a cow pie.

And I clean up good.

It’s all in a day’s work for a farm wife.

Grass Fire

It seems that two weeks ago was a busy one for our local volunteer fire department.

They fought the fire at Jan’s work, a house fire and three out of control grass fires all in 24 hours.

But it didn’t end there. There were at least two – but sometimes three – grass fires every day that week. Dagmar – after spending hours sitting in the ambulance watching grass burn – would come home complaining about the silly people who let things get out of control while burning ditches.

I mean honestly!grass fire

Fast forward to Saturday.

Jan and the boys are out helping Poppa burn his ditches. (You know what’s coming – don’t you?)

A gust of wind from the west sends the flames across the fire line and heads them into the pasture.

They’re spreading like – well – like wild fire.

All four guys rush to get it stopped.  Frantically beating out sparks. Just when they start wondering if they should call in the fire department – the wind changes, blowing the flames back on themselves.

Whew! Disaster averted.

The only damage done was to their pride.

And the pasture.

Oh – and Jan’s hair.

Did you know that hair melts when it gets really hot?

I spent some time on Saturday night cutting out the melted parts – or trying to – before church on Sunday morning.

I’m no barber. I’m afraid it looked a little like a “my wife cut my hair in the shadowy basement wearing bifocals when she was way too tired to hold scissors in her hand” kind of haircut.

I’m thankful he’s blond – it doesn’t show as much.

And that it’s only a bad hair cut – not first degree burns – or worse.

And that we didn’t need to call the fire department – I’m not sure Dagmar would have lived that one down!

To Market, to Market to Buy a Fat Hog….

Meet the new kids in the neighborhood.

Well – they’re really not kids.
Piggy'sThis is Diesel and Ethel.

Two Red Wattle pigs who have come to live at Windy Ridge.

Why pigs?

Hmmm….very good question. One we asked ourselves as we chased them back in the pen in the excessive heat Sunday afternoon. 🙂

Let’s just say that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Red Wattles are a heritage breed of hog that is becoming rare. Which is sad – because they grow fast, have great tasting meat, and do really well on pasture.

Which is good – because that’s where they are going to live. We’re hoping they fertilize it well.

We’re also hoping for baby piggies in about 6 weeks – if the previous owner is correct.

Which means we have a lot to learn in a little bit of time.

Ham and bacon here we come.

Raspberry Marshmallow Dessert

Berry DessertIt’s a hard time of the year to be allergic to poison ivy.

Every day I go out and walk the trails on the property being very careful to stay in the exact center to avoid the nasty stuff that grows in abundance on both sides.

But the worst part is watching the black raspberries ripen and not be able to pick them! They sit there taunting me  – just out of reach –  surrounded by poison ivy like guards around the crown jewels.

<heavy sigh>

Thankfully I have children who are sensitive to their momma’s plight, take pity on me and pick those luscious berries and then share them.

The first few we traditionally eat on ice cream – but when the harvest picks up – so does our creativity!

Angel Girl tried a new recipe this weekend –  a yummy marshmallow and raspberry concoction that got rave reviews.

We made it with black raspberries – but it’s pretty versatile and can be made with red raspberries, blackberries or even strawberries.

Raspberry Marshmallow Dessert

Crust :

1-1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter (melted)

Filling-

50 large marshmallows
1 cup milk
1 carton (8 ounces Cool Whip

Topping –

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1/4 cup raspberry jello
1 quart fresh raspberries, washed and drained

Combine the crumbs and butter, press into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir the marshmallows and milk until the marshmallows are melted. Cool to room temperature. Fold in Cool Whip and spread over crust.

In a medium saucepan combine the water, sugar, corn starch and white syrup for the topping.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat and add jello. When cool, add 1 quart of fresh berries and mix carefully. Spread over the top of the marshmallow mixture and chill.

Enjoy!

Flower Garden

One more thing off my to-do list –

dream gardenI finally have the flower gardens ready for Dagmar’s graduation party.

The flowers look to be in such fine shape this year – don’t you agree?

Okay. I’m just kidding.

My sisters can stop laughing now.

I found the above picture on-line.  No such beautiful flower garden exists on my property – yet.

Actually – no flower garden exists here period. Only in my dreams.

This – dear friends – is my reality.

GardenA hodge podge of containers from thrift stores, garage sales and junk piles filled with an assortment of flowers that I can only hope will stay alive for a few more days.

The entire arrangement is surrounded by a fence to keep the free-ranging chickens out.They love to climb in flower pots and scratch around – rearranging things for a better “seat”.

I’ve lost many a bedding plant to a chicken’s feathered backside.

The plan is to remove the fence Sunday afternoon just before the guests arrive.

We forgot that last step at Matt’s graduation party a year ago. I wonder what people thought?

On the plus side – it took me just minutes to plant them – and there was no weeding involved!

And it is – of course – one more thing of my list! Well – at least for this week…

Top picture courtesy of  SiefkinDR

Stinky Situation

The outrageous price of gas has caused us to drastically rethink every car trip. We’ve put off trips – combined trips – and skipped things all together.

One area that we have been putting off was bringing in the recycling.

Since we live out in the country – there are no plastic recycling buckets to set out for the garbage truck every week .  We wait till we have a bunch and then take them into town ourselves.

But now, due to budget restraints, several of our closest small towns no longer have the large community recycling bins.

Except for one. Although it’s only about 20 minutes away, we have no reason to go there, except to recycle.

So the pile of cans and jars kept growing until Jan decided that with a little detour from our regular route – we could go right through that small town on our way home from church, thus eliminating a separate trip.

It seemed like a good idea at the time – and actually worked pretty well during the winter months.

But then spring arrived. One beautifully bright Sunday morning Jan and the boys loaded the recycles in the car and we left for church. I didn’t notice anything peculiar on the way there – just some really quiet kids.

But as soon as we got in the car after church and shut the door, an almost overpowering stench hit me.

It smelled like something dead was in the van with us. Like maybe a mouse had crawled into one of the cans and died. Then – as the car sat in the heat of the sun for the 3 hours we were in church – it ripened.

I quickly rolled my window down and hung my head out – feeling sorry for the poor kids in the back seat of the van whose eyes were watering and didn’t have a window.

The 2o minute drive to the recycling bins took forever as I rode with my head out the window like a dog – just lapping in the fresh air.

I really wonder what people thought as they passed us?

Jan kept looking at me with a sheepish grin and saying, “I guess I’m in the dog house this time.”

Yep.

Let’s just say that they are sometimes you can take thrifty just a little too far!

Mowzilla

You know the outrageous price of gas can cause people to do strange things.

Take my brother-in-law…

Tractor 1
He modified his IH 240 tractor with two Swisher off-set mowers. When you factor in the 60 inch belly mower already mounted on the tractor – he can now cut a swath 15 feet across – with one pass.
Tractor 2He named this invention “The Mozilla” and can now cut the lawn in two rounds – although if the garden was up – he would have mowed down half of it.

Tractor 3He’s not sure how many acres an hour it will cut, or how much gas it takes – but it sure causes the neighbors to slow down and gawk when he’s out mowing!

How to Clean a Fence Row

How to clean a fence row and turn boys to men.

First you play lumberjack.
Chain SawTake a chain saw and as many boys as you can find and begin cutting down all the dead branches and fallen limbs that are on or near the fence line.

Then have the boys pile them in big piles.

Putting the pile far away from where you are cutting builds endurance and strength.

The bigger the pile, the better.

Make sure you add several varmint cedar trees to the top of the pile and leave a couple of stumps or a big log nearby for seating.

TarzanThen play Tarzan on the grape vines hanging from the trees. The upper body strength will come in handy later. Trust me.

Wait for a calm day, with little or no wind, throw some kerosene on the pile, light a match and step back!

FireThe varmint cedar trees on the top of the pile will explode into amazing pyrotechnics that send flames high into the air, often catching dead limbs in the surrounding trees on fire.

You have two options if this happens – you could grab the chainsaw, climb the tree  holding the chainsaw (remember the Tarzan practice) and cut off said limbs.

Or – you can have the boys stand near the trees with their super squirter squirt guns and put out the fire.

Do not do them both at the same time.

Using rakes, pitchforks and shovels, show the boys how to put out any grass fires that start from the sparks of the bonfire.

For added excitement – light two or more burn piles at the same time at different places in the pasture. This increases your cardio-vascular work-out as you run from pile to pile.

Then, when the fires have settled down, sit down on the logs or stumps with your boys and watch them burn as the sun sets, enjoying the satisfaction and pride of a job well done.