Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lazy chicken farmer, June Bloom prep

I know its spring because  things are turning green around me  and  the girls have started laying like crazy.  But those are the only two signs because it. wont.stop.raining.    There! I have stated the obvious.    We had a brief sun break yesterday so I  ran outside to clean the chicken coop.  It is still seeping from the ground up  so  the straw I have been putting in there was pretty soggy.... and smelly.       A real chicken farmer would just go out there and build a new coop and new fence  in the rain.  I'm think maybe I'm the laziest chicken farmer on the planet.     Jimmy says so every time he opens the fridge and sees it stuffed  with cartons of eggs.   Eggs...lots and lots of eggs.  So many eggs that I have been digging for recipes that use as many eggs as possible. So far the  recipe that calls for the  most eggs is  angel food cake.  Twelve eggs per cake.  Now , most people don't bother  with scratch angel food cake because it takes so many eggs and because   the cake itself is so finicky.  But I have enough eggs to make lots of mistakes so I set out to learn.  Four cakes later I finally got it right.   I would probably still be making messes instead of cakes if not for a delightful visit from the parents.  Dad  separated all the eggs  while step mom walked me through the process and pointed out that there is a reason a special pan is needed for AF cakes.  We used a regular cake pan the day they were here and it was a little sunken in the middle and kind of lopsided      but still pretty tasty.   We drizzled it with  last falls failed spiced blackberry jelly  (it never jelled so now its blackberry syrup)      Dad  gave us the best compliment  ever.   As he poured even more blackberry syrup over his cake he grinned  big and said  'so  we are eating two  failures?'       And then he shoveled in a big bite.   All in all it was a satisfying experience and then I procured  the correct pan and the next one was perfect.  But still.... the eggs keep coming so I made cream puffs and deviled eggs and boiled eggs and egg salad .....   now I am trying to master  custard.    I now get why there is a whole section dedicated to egg dishes  in my 100 year old cook books.  Back when most families had a  vegetable garden and a few  chickens in the back yard,  everyone had  eggs,  lots and lots of eggs. Probably not as many as I have right now but still lots and lots of eggs.  I could probably solve  my egg abundance issue if I just put out my  'eggs for sale' sign like I have been planning to do for 3 years.     

And then there is spring cleaning.  Jimmy and I  are preparing for our  annual 'June Bloom"  Its  the time when we get lots of visitors starting to come in from out of town because  no one wants to visit western WA in the  winter.   So, the guest room is first on the list. Its  getting a complete  makeover.  Cleaning, painting  and so forth.  So far I have spent hours and hours cleaning out the closets and going through everything.  When we first moved in I just wanted to get everything  organized and livable.   Things we didn't immediately need went  into  the closets  ...and stayed there for 5 years.   Since I haven't used any of it  or in many cases even seen it in 5 years  I must not really need it.    Its all sorted, reboxed and ready to go to goodwill.     Which means that  prepping for painting is  on this weeks to-do list.    I'm hoping I can even talk Jimmy into putting in a ceiling fan.  But that is an argument for another day ;)   

Monday, January 23, 2017

WANTED female predator,badass attitude required

On the nature of loss.  Back in August  we had to lay to rest, our cat, Drusilla. She was 16 and had led a satisfying, secure, and adventurous life.    For 16 years  she lived with us, walked  beside us  and  fulfilled her  role admirably.   Dru was never a cuddly kitty.  She  was often cranky and demanding,  sometimes...  scratchy and bitey.  We had to warn visitors  not to 'pet' her when  she appeared  and purred at them while rubbing herself on their legs and giving them her 'come hither'  big eyes.   "Its a trap!" we would exclaim  as they would attempt to  reciprocate her 'affection'.  Those who heeded our warnings  were safe , those who  did not... required topical   antibiotic  cream and  bandaids.   Her tolerance of other people in her space was limited. Her tolerance of other animals ...zero.      Even though I told him not too, one of the  neighbors brought his well trained  Lab to the house for a visit.  Drusilla  tolerated that for all of five minutes before she sliced his nose open.  Dogs , other cats, random visitors, rats, mice, birds...she was deadly.
When the  gods deposited  a second cat in our lives ( a teeny weeny 4 week old, abandoned  baby of a feral  wood cat) , I was determined that  he would be  a sweet , gentle addition to our household.   He is.  He is gentle and kind . He is sweet beyond words. He is the best companion any one could ever hope for.  There is not a violent bone in his body.  We socialized all the predator out of him.  And... he is  useless.   Let me explain.
Our Drusilla passed  in the middle of August.  Over the holidays  I discovered  mice had moved in under the kitchen stove  and had used the insulation from said stove to  build a lovely soft bed  in preparation for  starting a family.   It was quite  the  mouse mcmansion and I was horrified. I spent one entire  day  stripping and sterilizing  the stove and   the rest of the kitchen. I pulled everything from every cabinet looking for mouse sign.  I didn't find any sign of vermin activity  anywhere except under the nice warm stove but, I scrubbed everything anyway.  I  put out  those boxy,  safety  mouse traps and waited. Two nights later I finally  heard the snap.  I looked over at the sweetest  cat in the world  who was completely unconcerned  and content to keep  dozing on the couch.  He barely acknowledged the snapping of the trap.     That kind of S#%* would never be tolerated on Drusillas watch.
I will be buying a new  stove this week or next.  I was already  looking at replacing the ancient appliance, that came with the house,  sometime over 2017.  The discovery  that the insulation has been   disturbed and some of it removed has  simply moved the timeline up...considerably.
Along with the new stove I will  looking  for  a new cat.  The sweet cat gets to stay but he will have to accept a new addition.   Because we live on a swamp, out in the woods (sort of) we are always going to be challenged  with keeping vermin out of the house and barn.   I will be keeping an eye on the spring crop of kittens. I  will not be looking for a sweet cuddly companion. I will be looking for a rowdy, scratchy, bitey, killing machine.   The first female badass, bad attitude, warrior queen that crosses my path will get a grateful forever home with me.  She doesn't need to love me. She just needs to do  her job.
And before you get all animal rights, no animal slavery ....on me.  Every soul on the property has a job. No one gets a free ride.  Jimmy and I pay the mortgage, the chickens lay eggs, the duck decimates the slugs so the lettuce will grow unimpeded,  the sweet cat is the mediator and the dog is in charge of security.  Everyone contributes in exchange for   food and nice warm shelter. 

   

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