August 8, 2010
As you remember, I missed my home cooked meal that Carol had prepared because of the storm. She must have felt sorry for me and invited me over for left overs on Thursday evening. Either that or she needed to clean out the fridge. Believe me the dinner was worth waiting for. Carol is an excellent cook and can make a wonderful meal out of a few ingredients. We had a succulent ham baked and glazed with squash conserve, made from scratch macaroni and cheese, and garden grown succotash. Is your mouth watering yet? If you don’t know what squash conserve is, it is made with thin slices of summer squash, ginger, pineapple, and sugar. When it’s cooked together it makes a sweet and tangy glaze that is delicious on ham, pork chops and chicken. Very tasty.
After dinner we went down to Salem’s old train depot for some local music. The depot was converted into a pavilion with bench seats and on the first Thursday of the month they have a concert. The house band is called Pickin’ and Grinin’ and they play a lot of the old country tunes. Often times there are other bands that play country or blue grass music. It makes for an enjoyable evening after a hard day of work on Pot Hole Farm. Especially when we topped the evening off with a stop at the Dairy Queen for a cool and creamy ice cream cone.
Great "House Band"
Saturday was a bit of a run around day for Sonny and I. Salem was having their annual town yard sale. Well of course we had to check that out. It’s a chance for people to clean out things they no longer need but others can use. Then it was off to the Tractor Supply for some chicken feed and then finally home. We unloaded the Jeep and left the door open as we took things into the house. We got a little side tracked and left the chicken feed bag in the Jeep. When Sonny came back out to get it, what did he see? Our miscreant pit pup chewing into the bag with yellow chicken feed sprinkled all over his snout and a guilty as sin look on his face. I can’t imagine that the chicken food smelled so enticing that he had to have some.
Who knows, maybe he thought a chicken would pop out if he got far enough into the bag. Kind of like a box of Cracker Jacks. Ahhh, it’s just part of the circus here at Pot Hole Farm.
August 4, 2010
A loud rumble of thunder was my alarm clock this morning. It was 0630 and the overcast sky was dark. We already had a good storm last night with rain and thunder clappers and lightening. It appeared this morning may be a repeat. I threw on some clothes, let the dogs out and hurried down to the coop to check on the chickens. I wanted to make sure they had plenty of food and water in case this was going to be an all day thing. The storm passed but the sky was still cloudy.
I thought I better turn on the generator for a while since we didn’t have much sun the day before to charge the house batteries. I hit the manual start button. Nothing. I checked to make sure that the main switch that connects the generator and the charge controller was in the correct position. It was. Tried the manual start switch on the generator again. Nothing. I checked the propane tanks. Full. At this point I was at the end of my trouble shooting abilities. I emailed Sonny at work to see what he thought. Apparently we left the cut-off switch on the generator panel “on” and it ran the primary generator battery down.
So Sonny called John (since we don’t have a phone yet) to come over and hook up a external charger to it. In the meantime I dragged our backup gasoline powered generator out of storage and hooked it up and with a couple of pulls on the rope it fired up. It worked just fine. I let it run until John and Carol showed up. I was already supposed to be at their house this morning. Instead they had to run over and rescue me. Once John got everything set up they went home and I let the battery charge for about three hours. I think we’re fixed now. I won’t be leaving that switch on again.
The sun popped in and out for a while and I headed over to John and Carols for the afternoon. Carol was going to make me a home cooked meal. We spent a nice afternoon in her studio. She’s a great sculptor. She is working on a bust of John. I’m amazed at the likeness. While the artist was at work I played with some clay myself. My fourth grade art teacher would have been proud of the Magnolia flower I created. I didn’t intend for it to be a magnolia but that’s what it turned out to be. You can’t argue with art.
I was getting hungry and looking forward to that ham and homemade macaroni and cheese. John came in and informed us that a big storm was on it’s way heading East from Ohio. Sonny called shortly after that and said it was getting real close. Around here the roads can quickly flood and there is always a chance that a tree can get washed out and fall across them as well. I had animals at home to think about so I hightailed it home. I was getting close to my destination, about two miles away from home when the sky became angry and drops of rain hit the windshield. The wind was beginning to whip up and blow leaves and brittle branches off the trees. I prayed a tree wouldn’t fall on top of the Jeep.
When I reached the mile mark there was a huge limb across the road. Thank goodness it wasn’t a full sized tree. I really hate backing up (my tracks look like a snake). With some maneuvering I was able to drag the big branch to the side of the road. When I reached home the wind had blown over my patio chairs. Once again I let the dogs out before the storm really hit hard and ran down to check on the chickens. They were safe and sound in their little coop and I battened down the hatches. The dogs and I, and of course Annie the cat were safe and sound while the storm raged. I just wish I could have had my ham dinner first, but that’s August.
Heat, humidity, and big storms to remind us that we are pretty small in the scheme of things, and the Almighty has the reins.
August 3, 2010
Every morning while the coffee is perking I go down to the coop and let the chickens out into the pen. The dogs usually follow along with me. Yesterday when I entered the coop I spied two beautiful brown eggs tucked in the straw of a nesting box. Like Indiana Jones picking up a rare archeological find I grabbed them up and put them in my basket. I still get excited every time I find our egg treasures. It feels good to be able to supply our own eggs without having to run to the store. It’s another step towards self sufficiency.
The hens clucked and cooed while I filled the food bucket and checked the water supply. They were out of water. With the water feeder in one hand and the egg basket in the other I went outside to the rain barrel. We have a rain barrel on the corner of the coop that is attached to the rain gutter. It has a lid to keep out debris and a spigot on the bottom that gives us easy access to the water. It makes life a lot easier not having to tote water from the house. I set the egg basket on the ground next to the rain barrel while I cleaned and refilled the water feeder. Shiner and Ruby watched as I did my chores. They were such good and patient little dogs. I never thought to hook the egg basket on the hook next to the door.
When I stepped out of the coop door after returning the water feeder I was surprised to see one of my eggs broken, still in the basket and Shiner licking his chops. He couldn’t have been more guilty. I yelled at him, but it was really my fault. I guess Shiner wasn’t the only one with egg on his face. It was another lesson learned for me, but for Shiner….I think…not so much. The next time eggs are within reach he would do it again. Although, he may think about it for a micro second longer.
August 2, 2010
Tonight I took a few minutes to sit in my recliner, sip on a cup of coffee and puff on my pipe. I got to thinking about how much we have got completed on our Off-Grid home over the last year. A year ago last April we were just getting started with the finish sanding of the drywall mud. Next came the plumbing, sewer system and black pipe work in the crawl space. That next weekend we started buying the unfinished oak kitchen cabinets, bathroom and kitchen sinks. Oh yea, we had the well put in also.
Suddenly we wanted to have a mud room added and the porch extended. In September I ordered the solar system and within a couple of weeks we had a back hoe digging trenches and running 10 gauge power lines in PVC pipe. Panels installed and inverters and converters working in the electrical room we suddenly had power before Halloween.
Had to prep the water pipes to keep them from freezing and wire up a temporary back-up generator in the event of short winter sun shineless days. That winter was a lesson learning session from hell but we make it through everything anyway.
Spring came in a hurry and we got the barn built and the garden planted, summer slipped in right behind it along with a chicken coop, wood shed and our root cellar.
Within a week or two, we will be canning about 2 million tomatoes.
August 1, 2010
The root cellar needed more dirt pushed up on the outer walls. This will give it some more insulation and help to keep the inside at a more moderate temperature. Sonny called Robert to see if he could bring over his backhoe and do the job for us. He came over Friday and in a blink of an eye he had his backhoe unloaded and went to work on building a bank of dirt on three sides of the cellar. His teenaged son came along to get some OJT from his dad. While he was observing his fathers skill at maneuvering the backhoe he asked if we wanted any laying hens.
He has about forty chickens and wants to lighten his load a bit. He said we could have them for three dollars a piece. He would throw in a rooster too if we wanted one. We passed on the rooster and said we would take three hens off his hands. What the heck for nine dollars we get three hens to practice getting eggs from. Yesterday we came home from town and found a note on the door that said our new chickens were in the pen. They made themselves right at home in the coop and nice plump hens they are too. I think they will fit in nicely here at Pot Hole Farm. Especially when they blessed us three beautiful brown eggs this morning.
I guess we’re a real farm now that we have produce coming out of the garden and eggs coming out of the chickens. Who would have thunk it.