R.I.P.

September 27, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

It is with deep sorrow that I must inform you all that Sir Roo Roo Rooster of Pot Hole Farm has passed away . No longer will we here his robust cock-a-doodle-do in the morning as the sun rises. Gone are the sweet melodies that he sang to his harem of hens as they leisurely strolled the grounds of Pot Hole Farm. My father said he had never heard a rooster sing to his hens the way Roo Roo did.

There is a void here now. We could get another rooster, and others may come and go, but we will always remember Roo Roo. He was special. He was and always will be part of Pot Hole Farm history.

We weren’t even aware that he was sick until it was too late. From all the literature I have read it would seem that it is a common problem with chickens that they show little if any symptoms until it is too late. Hopefully the rest of the flock is ok.

Sir Roo Roo Rooster of Pot Hole Farm.

 


REPURPOSING

September 25, 2011

Sunday

Linda

Once or twice a year I go through all our belongings to see what we have accumulated and what we can do without. All the items we don’t need are taken to the thrift store so someone else can use them.

Today I came across an American Tourister makeup case (circa 1960’s or 1970’s) that my mother had given me. I believe she picked it up at a thrift store a few years ago. It is in pristine shape, but not something I would use to travel with, although some people are choosing to use vintage luggage these days.

Vintage makeup case.

I thought about sending it to a new home, but then I decided to repurpose it. That is something Sonny and I often do with older things.  I got the idea to use it as a crafting case to hold all of my card making stamps, ink pads, paint and brushes. It couldn’t have worked out better. Before I had everything stuck into separate plastic boxes with labels. Now all of my crafting supplies are handy and it looks nice sitting on the shelf. What do you have around your house that can be repurposed?

Crafting case.


RAINY DAYS

September 23, 2011

Friday

Linda

Its been grey skies and frequent down pours for the past few days which makes PHF a muddy mess. We can’t complain though, better a bit of rain than drought. My heart goes out to the farmers in Texas and Oklahoma. I read a few blogs from homesteaders in those areas and it has been a brutal summer for them.

In between raindrops I have been able to pick a few more lima beans. I blanched them and put them in the freezer. I want to save them for when my parents come out for a visit. My dad loves them.

The garden is pretty much at its end. The tomatoes are withered and the cooler weather we have had has wilted the peppers. I was able to save one green one the other day. I wanted to try to grow some fall crops but that will have to wait for another year. We still have projects to finish and its already been a busy year. I’m still pretty much an amateur gardner anyway. One step at a time. We do plan to extend the garden next year. Sonny will soon have to plow up those areas so we can spread some donkey manure on the soil and let it simmer for the winter.

The house has been a disaster after the bathroom renovation, which is not quite finished. We bought a little bit bigger wood stove and its taking up space as well until Sonny can get it installed. I believe he plans to get that done in the next week or so.

When you live in a small space anything out of place seems as though everything is out whack which makes me feel out of whack.  The rainy days have been a good opportunity to get things back in order. I still have a long way to go though. Sometimes when I start organizing I end up making a bigger mess until I get things where I want them. Its a good time to go through and ask myself if we really need this or that. Put things in priority of necessity. Sometimes we let stuff take over and we have to get back to the place of simplicity. I sure would like to be there right about now. Whew!

 


MEAT PICKUP

September 20, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

Yesterday morning John and Carol and I ventured out to pick up our meat from the meat market. After we paid our bill, three men began to carry out card board boxes laden down with frozen packages of meat cuts. Box after box was carried out from a side door of the building and placed in the back of John’s car. I was a little concerned that they  all might not fit. John’s boxes contained pork cuts from two of the pigs, and ours contained two pigs and cow. One of the two pigs in our boxes will eventually go to a friend of ours.

Loaded down.

Once we got to John and Carol’s house, where we keep our two freezers, we had to unload all the packages. It is safe to say that we will not go hungry this winter. Both freezers are full and thats without putting in four hams and a huge bag of sausage. The hams will have to be cured and then smoked.

I took the package of sausage home with me and prepared to take on the task of making link sausage. I have never done this before so it was another new experience. Sonny bought me a nice stainless steel sausage press. We bought a package of natural casings too. You have to soak them for about a half an hour to wash off the salt that is used to preserve them. I have to say when I opened the bag I was not expecting the odor that rose out of it. YUK! But it went away as they soaked and were rinsed. On the other hand the sausage smelled heavenly. We had maple seasoning mixed into it and although I have not tried any yet, I am sure it will taste delicious.

Sausage press. The tube goes where the black knob is a the base.

There is a plastic tube that attaches to the press where the sausage is formed and is pushed into the casing. The casing is shoved onto the tube sort of like a glove and as the sausage is pushed into it, it glides off. You have to use one hand to wind the press and one hand to guide the sausage link off the tube.

Since this was new to me and I wanted to get the hang of it, my first attempt was a long sausage rope. We can just cut off what we want to use.

Sausage rope.

Then I tried twisting the casing between each link. Again we can just cut off what we want.

Twisted links

I was getting used to the mechanism and how it worked, so I knotted the end of the casing, filled it to make a link, cut and knotted the other end. This made individual links. I like that better, because I think it will be easier when it comes time to cook them.

Individual Links

I used about half of the bag of sausage to make the links and the rest I put into one pound packages so we can make patties for a change. Sonny likes links and I prefer the patties.

This afternoon Carol and I started curing the hams. She has a second refrigerator in her basement that we will use to keep the hams cold during the process. We applied a sugar/salt cure to each of the hams. In seven days we will repeat the process, then after another seven days they have to be soaked and rinsed. I believe they have to rest for a few weeks longer and then we will smoke them. Our hams weighed between thirteen and fifteen pounds a piece. Soon the aroma of smoking hams will meander through the holler on a crisp autumn breeze. Life is good.


THERE’S A MOUSE IN THE HOUSE!

September 19, 2011

Monday

Linda

We have a mouse in the house. I have seen its calling card on my kitchen counter. That is just nasty. I brought Moby inside last night in hopes that he would catch the little bugger. He sniffed around a little bit and then flopped on the couch next to me expecting a good scratch. Apparently he thinks that the house is his personal spa and not a hunting ground. I was going to set a trap, but remembered that all the traps were down at the garage and I was not going to down there in the pitch black of night. Mr. or Ms. bear has been passing through again as I had expected. I knew it was about time for it to show up again.

The other morning the humming bird feeder was missing and the suet basket was torn off of the bird feeder. Classic signs of the seasonal intruder. I found a couple of tracks down at the end of the drive way just like last year.

Bear Paws

I will be heading out here in a few minutes. I’ll be going into Fairmont with John and Carol to pick up the pork and beef. I will fill you all in the details later and take a few pics. We will be making some link sausage, so stay tuned for that adventure as well.


FRAT BOYS GRADUATION

September 18, 2011

Sunday

Linda

It’s been over a week since the frat the boys graduation day and I know I am behind on telling their story. The last week has been a busy one. The same day we took them to the butcher I went back to Ohio to stay with Harold and Clarissa. They have been so busy helping us here on the farm that they haven’t had time to unpack and settle in themselves. So I thought it was only fair to help them out. After spending twenty-two years moving with the Navy I’m a whiz at unpacking and setting up house keeping. Now their walls are hung with pictures and packing boxes no longer clutter their living room and kitchen. It looks like home now and maybe they can finally relax, that is if little Duke allows them to.

John and Carol arrived at PHF early on the morning of September 8th. John brought over his horse trailer that had been modified to accommodate the four hogs plus a cow that we had purchased from our friend Gary. The frat boys would be loaded first and closed off in the front of the trailer, then Sonny and John would take the trailer over to Gary’s farm to load up the cow.

The morning sky was still overcast with clouds after having rained for two days prior. The frat boys pen was a muddy quagmire, just the way they like it. Unfortunately for us it was going to be a lot tougher to wrangle them into the trailer. Picture mud wrestling at its finest.

Everyone tried to prepare themselves for the mud slinging that was sure to ensue. John and Carol were ready for battle, wearing coveralls and rain coats with ball caps pulled down to the tops of their ears. You could barely see their eyes beneath the brim. Sonny was more free style wearing his usual T-shirt and jeans, but making a statement with his one half boot welley. Harold chose the survivor man method and used silver duct tape to secure white trash bags around his pant legs and the top of is welleys. The trash bags ballooned out making him look as though he was wearing a bad pair of Hammer pants. Walking sticks were handed out like Gladiator weapons and could be used to prod the pigs or just hold yourself up in the muck.

Sonny and John hooked the trailer up to the Kubota tractor and backed it up to the pen. It was so muddy in the back pasture that we didn’t want to risk getting John’s truck stuck. John and Harold held the boys back while the gate to the pen was opened and the ramp of the trailer was laid down. I threw a little corn up in the trailer near the front, hoping to entice them in.

Backing the trailer up to the pen.

Getting ready to wrangle some frat boys.

The frat boys lead us a merry chase. We tried making a corral and running them in, but they just jumped over it. They ran into the shelter and ran out, mud flying in all directions. Finally we had the bright idea to put corn on the trailer ramp, just be quiet and watch as they finally walked themselves inside. All but the runt. He was always the smartest of the four, and carried a huge Napoleon complex. We had to corner him until he had no where to go but inside the horse trailer. Once inside, Harold had to use a wrestling move to get him wrangled into the front section of the trailer. It was a lesson learned. We should have just put feed in the trailer and they would have eventually went peacefully inside.

Exhausted and splattered with foul smelling mud, we closed and secured the ramp of the trailer. The frat boys were settled and all was quiet now, except for the suck squish sound of Sonny’s half boot welley as he walked away into the distance, visions of pork chops and smoked hams dancing through his mind.

The boys are loaded up.

Our work is done. For now. Is that a new perfume I smell?

 


REMEMBER 911

September 11, 2011

Sunday

Linda

I know I promised that I would tell you the story of the frat boys graduation day, but I thought the memory of today was more important. I had the honor of viewing a piece of  the Twin Towers. A chill ran across my skin as we approached the tall spiral of twisted metal silhouetted against the sky. It was a somber moment as pictures of the burning towers replayed through my memory like a film on a reel. I could see the plane rip through the metal, smoke and fire billowing out. I can remember the fear I felt as the news reported that the Pentagon was also hit and not knowing if Sonny had to go there that day.

People milled around the memorial and some dressed in black sat on the stone seats looking as though they were made of stone themselves. I can only imagine how difficult this day is for those who lost loved ones. I am sure that the wounds never heal, but only scab over.

There is a large marble tablet chiseled with the names of those who lost their lives that day. Clarissa pointed out the name Micheal Crawley. He was the father of a friend who was working in an office in one of the towers when the planes hit. We may not have personally lost someone, but it still touches us all.

There are many memorials with twisted pieces of metal. This one is located in Beaver Creek, Ohio. September 11, 2001, a day that changed not only the United States, but the whole world.

Memorial sign.

Metal from one of the Twin Towers.

Touching the sky.

Memorial Wreath


NEW HALF BOOT STYLE

September 11, 2011

Sonny

This is what happens when you leave your boots on the porch and Dakota (our sons dog) is visiting.

Left Short Boot design

You may not see this featured in LL Bean this year but keep your eyes open.  Seems that Dakota and Ruby decided that the left one was just too tall and it needed to be chewed down about 8″.  So rather than just chunk them in the trash I decided to bust out the scissors and give the gnawed one a trim down.

In the next blog we will talk about the adventures of getting the Frat Boys off to the butcher and how much I enjoyed wearing the 1/2 boot while standing in 12″ of pig mud/crap and where the over-flow went.


CHANGING OUT THE SHOWER

September 6, 2011

Tuesday

Linda

Its been a rainy Labor Day weekend, but that is ok because we needed to stay inside and work on the bathroom update. Sonny and Harold installed the new shower and it looks great. Harold has been working on the floor installation for two days. While Harold laid down the tiles and grouted Clarissa used a sponge to wipe away the excess. What a difference it has all made.

The floor tiles are a product called Roma Stone. Its a mixture of Granite stone particles and some type of laminate. Grouting is used between the tiles and the finished product looks as nice as real stone tiles. It is supposed to be very durable. I sure hope so because I don’t want to have to replace another thing in this bathroom ever again. Hopefully it will last for the rest of our lifetime.

There are still some finishing touches that need to be done before this project is finished, but we are very pleased with the results so far. We really appreciate all the hard work Harold and Clarissa have put in.

Sonny fit checking the bottom of the shower.

PHF has some fancy bathroom flooring.


THAT WILY COYOTE

September 1, 2011

Thursday

Linda

A few weeks ago when I was returning home from a trip into town I encountered a coyote. I was almost home, coming up to the old ghost farm whose pastures link up to our own. I saw him as I came round the corner standing at the edge of the gravel road.

I was startled. I have never seen a coyote before. He was small in stature and I assumed he was probably an adolescent, not yet full grown. I slowed the car and expected him to run into the woods before I could get a good look at him. He stood there, his head turned toward me and his eyes connected with mine for a brief moment before he disappeared into the brush and down the hill. He looked ragged, and I have to say a little forlorn. The trees and brush along the road blocked my view of the pasture below and I wondered if there could be other members of a pack hiding below. Sonny and I have heard them howl close by a few times this year.

We have seen this particular coyote in recent days out in that same pasture, but he is always alone. The men who came out to install our propane tank a few weeks mentioned that they had seen a coyote in that same area.  Our guess is that he is a young male whose family pack has pushed him away so that he will find a mate and start his own. He seems to keep inching his territory closer to our farm and last week we lost one of our Red Star hens. A few weeks before that it was one of our Rhode Island Reds.

I haven’t seen my guinea hen in the past few days either. I can only imagine that she’s gone off to sit on a nest again. Hopefully she is well hidden. Last weekend Sonny and Harold caught sight of him and tried to get a shot at him. As far as we could tell he was faster than the bullets. Two days ago, the man that cuts the hay off these fields was out baling and I heard someone shoot off about five rounds. I assume he may have brought a pistol with him.  Maybe he got a hit, but if it took five shots then I would guess that the wily coyote had escaped again.

I know the coyotes have the right to live and share our space, but he is too close for comfort. He may be young, but he will grow up. If he has been the culprit in the disappearance of my chickens then he is treading on our territory, not to mention we have a toddler grandson who comes to visit and squeals like an injured animal. Nature is wild and it will defend itself…so will we.


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