Wednesday, October 31, 2012

From 50 to 12

I started out with 50 fluffy cute little Freedom Ranger chicks 14 weeks ago. I am down to just 12 now. I just got done butchering 10 more. today. So far of the 38 I have done, none have weighed over 4 pounds. They are just under 4 pounds and up to a little over 2 1/2 pounds. Not big birds at all. And they are 14 weeks old today.

I think they just had too much room to roam in and run off the fat. I have spent way too much money on these guys too. With starter-grower and grower-finisher at $17.00 a 50 pound bag, and they went through 17 bags since I've had them, these are really expensive birds. I don't think I can do this again. I'll have to see if I will break even. Probably not. But they are all sold!

It'll be quiet around here without them all. I do still have my non egg layers. I say non egg layers because I might get 2 eggs a day from 17 less than a year old hens. I am lucky to be getting 2 a day right now, I guess. I am just not very happy with chickens these days. It's so much cheaper to buy eggs from someone else than feed these guys. And I could sell them for $10 each and make a little money that way. But them what would I do with all the sheep and goat poop? The chickens are good at scratching it up and mulching too. So I will probably keep the layers awhile more.

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Change of plans

It's been really windy here the past few days. So windy that I couldn't butcher any chickens yesterday. I had caught 10 and got them in the cage ready for yesterday morning and had to let them out because it was too windy. The grill wouldn't have stayed lit. So they get a few more days of life. I think Thursday will be a warmer day with no wind so I will try again then.

It's so sad to see all the destruction way up in NJ and NY from this massive hurricane. So many lives lost and homes destroyed. But to see the determination and strength in these  people who have lost everything is amazing. I just cannot even imagine what it would be like to lose all I had. My thoughts and prayers are with them all.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gonna get cold tonight!

Just look at these beautiful veggies! It might freeze tonight, so I went out and picked all the little squash and zucchini. I already had the green beans and radishes and carrots picked. And I went today to the Chattanooga market and found a pretty green cauliflower. Also got a handful of grape leaves and a whole head of garlic and some dill seeds. Opened up my handy Wild Fermentation book and found my recipe for Sour Cucumbers. That is the best way to make pickled cucumbers and it's so easy. The recipe says to add any veggies, so I did.

                                                                                     I can't figure this darn computer out, so there's no telling where all this will be when I'm done. So I started with a layer of garlic cloves then the grape leaves. Then 4 T of dill seeds. It took the whole little container of seeds. Then started layering the veggies.Green beans, radishes, carrots, zucchini, squash, then the cauliflower. That's the only thing I didn't grow here.

I'm supposed to let it sit about a week with the cheesecloth on. I have to check for any strange looking stuff on the top and skim it off. I have never seen that before though. But different times of the year do different things. Forgot to say I then added 6 T sea salt to a half gallon of water and stirred til the salt was dissolved. Then poured that over the veggies til covered.

Hopefully in a week or so, we'll be eating yummy fermented veggies. And I can add new veggies as the jar gets emptied.

 The grape leaves are supposed to keep the veggies crunchy. And they really do.

Has anyone else done this? I love this book and use it a lot. The author was here in Chattanooga a few months ago and I was going to go but something came up and I missed him. He has a new book out now that I want.

 I hope y'all try this with your fall veggies soon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Busy week

I am so tired.  Husband came home (finally! He's a truck driver and they only let him come home when they want him to) Sunday night, after being out on the road for about a month. He is diabetic. He runs out of his meds out there when they don't let him come home. So now he's forced to get them from Walmart. Which, and I hate to say this, is a blessing because the meds he got the other day were just $26.00 for 4 prescriptions. And there are Walmarts all over this great country of ours, so he can get his meds when he runs out.

He had 2 doctor appointments on Monday. First with his diabetic doctor at 11:00. Then his eye doctor at 2:15. I stayed home and made soap.

Tuesday had some errands to run in town. Delivering milk and getting feed for all these critters here.

Wednesday started off early butchering chickens. Did 12 that morning. I am not really happy about these Freedom Rangers. They are 13 weeks old now. Well, the 22 that are left. The 28 I have done so far are small. They range from 2.5 pounds to 3.14 pounds. Yep, that's all. They were free ranging all day. In a pretty big area. Running around. Having fun. Eating frogs and bugs and grass. Just being chickens like they are supposed to. But they are SMALL. For as much money as I have in these birds, it's definitely NOT worth it for me.

Wednesday ended with my hubby, daughter and grand daughter and I going up on the mountain to a friend's place to get some fire wood he had ready for us. All chopped up and stacked all nice.

Thursday, 16 chickens. Started at 9:30 and finished at 1:00. My hands hurt. My back hurts. My feet hurt. And, what I thought was a paper towel right under my feet when I first started, was NOT a paper towel. It was a SNAKE SKIN! And I had kicked the darn thing under the table. I stood out there for 3 1/2 hours with a snake skin under my feet. No telling where the darn snake was.

And I work all day on Friday. It's really not "real" work. I help a 95 year old lady go shopping, pay bills, take her to the beauty shop, go eat lunch. Fun stuff. And I love her. She is the sweetest lady. We used to live next door. I am going to post a bunch of beautiful pictures of her house and yard soon if it's ok with her daughters.

When I get home on Friday evenings, I have to do chores and milk goats. Also have to pick produce for Saturday market. I only picked peppers and some beans tonight. It might rain sometime soon. Looked like tonight by the big huge black clouds floating around up there. Then it could be in the morning. Who knows? But I don't have a canopy. Still. My friend said I could share with her. So if I go, I'll have to get up early and pick all the greens. Collards, turnip greens, kale and lettuce. Then carrots, radishes and beets. So a busy morning.

And I'll have my 9 year old very energetic grand daughter Kansas this weekend.

So I am tired. I would love to have nothing to do again, like I used to. But I love all that I do. I won't have meat chickens after next week. I won't have 2 of the rams after Jan. 8th. I won't have the Holiday Market to get ready for after Christmas. I will be drying the 2 milk goats up the end of December. So no more milking for 2 whole months. I can rest in February. Well, til the end. Then it all starts over again!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


This is my pecan tree. To the left of the fence. I didn't know we had one for a long time. I started seeing pecans all over and wondered where they came from. Then I realized we had one pecan tree in the garden.

Sometimes we'll get nuts with pecans in them, but usually they are hollow or dried. But this year, there are SO many pecans on this tree and all over the ground. And they are GOOD!

When we first moved to this house, there were a lot of things that the family of the couple who built this place didn't want. One of them was this handy little tool. Don't know if this is what it's actually for, but it is now my pecan picker upper. It rolls along the ground and picks up the nuts. How cool is that? Who ever came up with this idea was a genius!

Here you can see pecans inside the little wire thing. I love this tool and am so glad no one wanted it. Because it is going to be used this year. I have already gathered several pounds so far and the tree is still full of pecans.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Making soap with tea and wild mint

I had seen somewhere to use tea in place of plain water to make soap. So I brewed some mint tea a few days ago and put it in the fridge so it would be nice and cold. I read that the colder the tea, the lighter the soap will be. And that it's best to use slushy tea for a real light tea. So I stuck it in the freezer and went to gather some wild mint to throw in too.

Darla had to follow me across the pasture on the way to the mint place. The rest were taking their mid-morning siesta under the shed in the shade.

This is a really old house next door across the field where the wild mint is. I love this house. Been abandoned for a LONG time. It's going to just fall in one day. A family dispute, I have heard. So sad. So the mint grows along these flowers in the front and along the fence line.

                           Of course I have to show my most favorite old oak tree behind my house.
 Didn't mean to show it twice, but it's worth a second view. And I can't figure out how to take it off once I've already gotten it on here, without deleting the whole post and starting over. So you'll have to enjoy it twice!

                                      This is the tea in the lye. VERY dark. Like a burnt goat milk.

Here is the mint and some ground up waiting to be added to the soap. It smells amazing! I love mint.

And here is the soap being stick blended. It almost looks like pumpkin puree. I had also read that the more you stir, the lighter it gets. Well, mine did not get lighter. I then added the mint. It looks horrible now!
  I sure hope it lightens up as it dries. It sure did not so far. I will see in a day or so. This is a veggie based soap, with coconut and olive oil and shortening. It is supposed to stay in the mold 48 hours. I can hardly wait that long for most of them. Too suspenseful!

      Ready to be wrapped up now. And still very brown. But I don't mind dark soap. Most people like the white or lighter colored soap though.

Back Valley Rd.

Just look at this! Is there anywhere else on God's green earth more beautiful than this right now? I don't think so. This is just a few miles from where I live. Just awesome. And someone owns all this right here. Acres and acres of pure beautiness.

                                 You can just see the house in this shot. And some vicious dogs.

This tree has got the best shape, even naked. With the mountain barely showing through the branches. And the lake just below to the right.

If you click on this picture, you can see a few horses way in the background. What lucky horses to live right there. Can you imagine?

                 Here is that amazing tree to the right. And another horse in the shadows of the hill.

                                                                  Wow. Just wow.

Just a little more color here. I love how we can see the actual shapes of the tree's branches and trunks when there are no leaves to hide them.

I LOVE this time of year. And this past weekend seemed to be the peak for us here. Amazing colors, so vibrant against the beautiful bright blue sky. Each minute brings some new color and each turn in the road, something more spectacular. I can not get enough of this right now.

Beautiful day. And hang gliders.

Yesterday was amazing. So beautiful. Bright blue sunny sky. Warm with just the right breeze blowing. We went up on Lookout Mt. to  take one of the grand kids home. She lives just a few miles from the hang gliding place. This is where a world-wide competition took place several years ago. It was about 5 in the afternoon and people were still lined up to go off and others were just getting their gliders set up to go.

                                                                 This guy is ready to go.

I love looking up into the blue sky and seeing all these people up there just circling around, so quietly.

                              And I love all the colors of the gliders too. These are rainbow colored.

I would love to do this, but this is the part I just could not do. Standing here on this big concrete pad, with the wind blowing, waiting on just the right moment to jump off. I know it is amazing to just float around up there, all by yourself. With the birds. But I don't know.

It looks so fun. And there were 2 really little planes taking off below with hang gliders attached. They would take them way up higher than we were, then let them go. I might could do that. Maybe.

And there was this guy there with this thing. A para glider? Anyway, he was standing on the platform with this thing spread out. When some wind would come along, he'd lift it up. It looked like he was going to get carried away one too many times, I had to stop watching him. Then as we were leaving, I saw him back up there, with his gear on and hooked up to this thing, ready to jump off. Oh my! I hope he made it ok.

I love this view here. That is Sand Mt. in Alabama, that he's headed toward. We can see Tn, Ga. and Al. from this spot. I love it here.

This is the place they all land. The one in the middle. There are also lots of little cabins where people stay when they come from out of town. Down in this little valley. Beautiful place.

                                  Here are my 2 grands, sitting on a ledge. So close to the edge.

                                                          Beautiful day on Lookout Mt.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I pulled a carrot the other day to see if they were getting big enough to eat and sell at the market. I gave it to my grand daughter, Kansas, to try. She said that was the best homemade carrot she ever ate! So this morning, on my sign, I wrote "homemade" carrots. I had to explain to several people what homemade carrots were. They all got a kick out of that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Soap, soap and more soap. It's everywhere!

I have been a soap making maniac lately. Getting ready for this holiday market in December. I still have more this to make and so much to do.

This is a Spiced Mahogany soap I poured in big cupcake papers. It smells so good, like a man's aftershave.

I have soap drying and curing all over the house right now.  This is some Orange-Clove on the top shelf.
Then to the left is a Woodsmen's soap with cedar, lavender, citronella and something else I can't recall at the moment. But it's supposed to keep those nasty pesky bugs away while hiking or working outside.
To the right is a plain soap with cucumbers in it. I thought it might have a nice cucumbery scent but it doesn't. It's pretty though.

This is my Pumpkin Spice on both sides of the double rack. Smells like a pumpkin pie. And the ones in the middle are Clarey Sage-Rosemary and plain goat milk soaps I made using  Pringles cans.

Top soap is a Spiced Pear. Very dark soap because of the cinnamon and cloves. It does smell like a spiced pear though.
Then a Peppermint-Sage. Love that one.
And a Peppermint, lemongrass and a tea tree oil castille.

Cedar-Safron "manly" soap.
A Lavender-Orange.
And oatmeal-honey goat milk.

I made a Lavender-Lemongrass with bees wax yesterday. It's so pretty and the color of the bees wax and smells so good too. I put lavender flowers in it. I will cut it in a few minutes when I find a place to put it to cure. I'm running out of room here!

Here are the soaps I haul to market in little cute thrift store baskets. I am making more soap today. Just made a lard based soap with Patchouli-Indian Sandalwood. That smells amazing! Patchouli is my favorite scent.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Apple pickin' time

This is Kansas. She's my apple picker helper today. A friend of mine will be doing apple cider this week, so I decided to go ahead and pick all the rest of my apples off the trees. The green ones are Granny Smith and the red ones are Yates. I love the Yates. It's a very old apple tree variety. So crispy and crunchy and juicy. Also makes great apple cider. Kansas is so tall she can almost reach up and just pick them off the tree.

I have about a bushel of the Yates apples in the fridge outside too. So I have a good 2 1/2 bushels to make cider. I'll go get a few more boxes from the apple orchard in Tn.

This is a huge apple that we are going to just EAT! You can see Kansas out the window reaching way up high for another apple.
And here she is getting down out of the Granny Smith tree.I love apples and picking them and making cider. And I love my little apple pickin' helper, Kansas, too. She will enjoy all this good cider this winter, along with her 2 older sister's Chloe and Coryn.

I hope y'all are able to get some nice apples this fall. I'd love to hear what y'all make or do with them. I want to dry some of these. They are SO good dried with some cinnamon sprinkled on them. Chloe loves them.

Happy apple pickin', y'all!