August 12, 2010
August is a tough month to get through. If the heat and humidity don’t do you in the crazy horse flies and other bugs eat you to death. I don’t know about other places but here in West Virginia during the month of August the horse flies go ballistic. If they’re not drilling craters into your skin they are dive bombing your head and crashing into walls and windows.
It’s especially hard on my cousins donkeys, and any outside animals. They are just tormented with the stinging bites of these flying demons. Despite August’s fiery disposition it does have it’s good points.
It is a time of harvest and today I picked our first batch of Lima beans. It was only about a half a pint but they are just coming on. The vines are full of immature pods and blossoms. I also picked another load of tomatoes and plan to can them up tomorrow. So far we have canned seven pints of tomatoes from a previous haul.
I hear a thunderstorm rolling in from a distance and the sky is turning a dark hazy grey behind the mountains. Hopefully some cooler weather will tag along behind it.
The cicadas are chanting for more hot weather, but just underneath their chatter you can hear the crickets tuning up for the Autumn concerts to come.
August can roast us, and bite us, and test our endurance, but the cheery song of a little cricket gives us sight of the finish line.
August 11, 2010
Yesterday afternoon I took my usual stroll down to the coop to collect any eggs that had been laid that morning. My hens tend to lay their eggs anywhere from 10:00 in the morning to 2:00 in the afternoon. I don’t know, maybe some days things move more slowly. It’s no wonder in this heat.
Of course they were all happy to see me, cooing and clucking as I came close. It’s not my great personality they’re excited about, but more the fact that I’m the food lady or the house keeper. They walked around me looking expectantly, their heads bobbing to and fro with every step as if a string was tied from each foot to their beak. I made my way over to the nesting boxes. HOLY MOLEY! Laying between two normal sized eggs was a humungus egg. I’ve never seen such a large egg from a chicken. It was bigger than an extra large egg. Some prehistoric chicken must have stopped by. I would hate to think that one of my hens had to push that out. There must have been some grunting on that one.
One of these eggs look different from the others
When I got my eggs all washed up and dried I put them in a foam egg carton. This egg was so big the lid wouldn’t close shut. I’m curious if it has more than one yolk, but I want to wait for Sonny before we crack it.
Chickens must be related to Pirana. I put out some watermelon yesterday and some squash this morning. Anytime you throw something into the pen they hurry over and it’s a pecking fest with bits of food flying in every direction. Within minutes whatever you threw in is consumed. Even the rhine was gone. I definitely don’t want to get too close, I hate to think what might happen. My toes may look tasty. I think someone sold me some chickens from a science experiment. I knew those FFA students looked shifty.
August 10, 2010
Once again the weather has turned hot and humid. As I sit here on the porch swing I feel like a wet dish rag that wasn’t wrung out enough. I look forward to Autumn when the skies are clear blue, the air is crisp and a soft flannel shirt is just enough to keep you warm. The leaves morph into a sunburst of color and the scent of apples and acorns float on the breeze. When chilly evenings are warmed up sitting by the wood stove with a cup of steaming coffee and a slice of apple or pumpkin pie….. Sorry I was caught up in a day dream.
The past few days have been less humid and I took advantage of the milder weather. I canned up eight pints of spaghetti sauce made with the tomatoes, onions and green peppers from our garden. I think it turned out pretty well. We had a huge pile of sand left over from the root cellar project and every time I passed it I kept telling myself we need to move this stuff. When its 89 degrees and humid, shoveling sand is the last thing you want to do. So yesterday evening when it was nice and cool I grabbed the shovel and rake. The ground in front of the root cellar was uneven with dips and bumps and it seemed a good idea to use the left over sand to fill them in. We really didn’t have any other use for it. After about an hour of shoveling and smoothing the black plastic the sand was piled on was empty. It felt good to have the job done. Now we won’t have to endure a pile of sand mocking us as we walk by. I also tackled the job of sweeping out the hen house and putting down clean wood shavings. My girls like a clean house and they cooed and clucked as they inspected my cleaning job. Happy hens produce good eggs.
The Dog Days of Summer will soon be over. Can’t say I will miss them. At least not until about January when the Gloomy Days of Winter kick in.
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.