Monthly Archives: September 2012

Soft-Boiled Egg, Anyone?

Yeah…so that happened.  And apparently, it’s something that does happen.  For anyone who cannot tell, this is an egg without a formed shell; the guts are all intact and held together by the thin membrane that usually lines the inside of the shell.

This circus-sideshow of an egg was in the bottom of the roost box when I let the ladies out for the day.  I have found one once before: right after Millie first started laying, there was one in the roost box, like it accidentally slipped out while she was sleeping.  Hey, it happens to the best of us.  So to whom did this fine specimen belong?  Sure enough, Gertie, Millie, and Eloise all laid a normal egg at their designated squat-spot times throughout the morning.  All signs point to Clementine, as she left no egg in the squat-spot.

A nice, solid Gertie-style egg up against the abomination of nature.

Shell-less eggs can, apparently, be indicative of a couple of different chicken-situations.  Chronic shell-less eggs can mean that you have a very stressed-out bird, or that there is some repeated environmental stress being inflicted upon her (extreme heat, cold, house-music being piped into the surround-sound in the coop).  It can also mean your bird needs a little more calcium in her diet; a deficiency that is pretty easy to fix with oyster-shell supplementation.  But an occasional rubber egg is, I guess, not something to be too concerned about.  I’ll have to keep an eye on her and make sure this doesn’t become a habit, but I think Clem is just getting her egg-mojo going.  She’s allowed a bum egg or two.

But maybe I am jumping to conclusions.  Maybe Clementine is being falsely-accused of the rubber-egg incident.

Yep. That’s a guilty face, if I ever saw one.

Garage to Studio, Phase III

My apple butter bribery worked….the Texan and I got back to business on my art studio this weekend.  It’s a big moment….the front of the garage is the part we see from the house and the view has been a bit too deep-woods distillery for my tastes (if it was actually a distillery you know my feelings would be different).

Front of garage before.

In addition to pure aesthetics, we needed a strong dose of function.  Those old barn doors (though lovely with their eons of peeling, different colored paint) were so gap-toothed that full-sized tumbleweeds could blow in through them (in addition to a lot of dirt and dust).  Additionally, we had a frightening wind storm last winter that actually ripped one in half, and, as a quick fix, we screwed support boards to the inside that rendered one whole set of doors inoperable. In a nutshell, those doors needed to go (though I am keeping all that glorious chippy, painted old wood for other projects).  In order to use this space as an art studio, I need to be able to shut the dirt and debris from the outside world out, and shut the mess I make in.

Oh man….those hinges: a study in every kind of bad bolt and flathead screw known throughout history. All painted into place.

Jonathon removes each bolt by hand and loses quite a bit of knuckle in the process.

Jonathon, mid-curse, as he deals with the dreaded flathead screws.

After he frees one side of one hinge (of ten), we get a close-up view of the layers of paint.  Am I the only one who thinks this is pretty?  Jonathon doesn’t.

WHY!? Why do these exist?!!

This project is flushing a lot of these out to play.

Finally! One door is off….but the hinges defy logic.

Millie does quality-control on the trim for the new doors.

At the end of the day, the doors are off…but the hinges are still taunting Jonathon.

Abbie weighs in on the hinge. She decides we’d better bust out the reciprocating saw.

Millie manages the job site.

Routing out plywood for the new doors.

The router is my new obsession in life.

I am starting to regret allowing chickens in the construction zone.

Millie rocks the catwalk. Then she and the rest of her cohorts get banished to the back garden. I don’t need chicken**** on my freshly-painted doors, thank you.

The good news is that, since Phase IV is the interior of the studio, I’m not going to wait until after that to reveal the outside of the garage/studio.  The bad news is that Phase III took a lot longer than we anticipated, and it still isn’t ready for the big reveal either.  :-(  I know I am really dragging this out (not intentionally!).  So for now, how about a glimpse at the ‘after’ of the doors to tide us all over.

New weather-proof (hopefully), easy to operate, snazzy-looking carriage doors on my soon-to-be art studio.

What paint color is that, you ask?  It’s called ‘blood, sweat, tears and four-letter words’.  Exterior semi-gloss.

Clementine is Official

Clementine, you saucy minx, you!

This is me breathing a huge sigh of relief.  Officially, all four of my girls, are bonafide, nest-squatting, egg-laying girls.  Clementine, my not-so-little late-bloomer, really knows how to drag out the anticipation.

Yesterday, I noticed this:

Clem tries the squat-spot on for size.

Like a total freak, I sat there for a good half an hour (bumping back plans like an even bigger freak) just to be able to document her first egg.  When she finally hopped off and went on her merry little way: no egg.  Silly me.

Today, she went to the spot on two separate occasions, and I managed to keep my excitement in check, until finally, finally late this afternoon, she hopped off, ba-gawked her triumph, and lo and behold:

The long-awaited egg (surrounded by decoys).

How could I have ever doubted you, Clementine?

It’s a good day at Farmhouse38.  Happy Friday!

Cheers!!!

Endeavour!

It was brief, but amazing!  We could see it from the back deck.  The chickens were not impressed.

Cinnamon-Vanilla Apple Butter

So many apples, so little time!  Because the Texan loves him some apple butter, I decided to whip up a batch….and then use it as collateral.  We need to get back to work on my art studio, and he might need some incentive.  I like to stack the cards in my favor.

Ingredients:

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tbs. cinnamon

1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise

10-12 apples (I used a mix of all different types, because it was what I had), chopped into bite-sized pieces, skins left on

This calls for my trusty apron.

Combine all the ingredients in a dutch oven and put it on the stove-top over medium-low heat.  Let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the apples are good and squishy.

Yes. Yes, it is.

Abbie waits patiently on her kitchen bed for apple butter that she will never get. Poor Abbie.

Skins on!

After the hour simmer is up, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a separate bowl, using the back of a big spoon to really squish that pulp through the strainer.  Whatever lands in the bowl, pour it back into the pot and back on medium-low heat to simmer, uncovered for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.  Pour into sterilized jars and refrigerate.

Abbie officially gives up on the apple butter.

This stuff is to-die-for-yummy with cream cheese on whole wheat English muffins.

Weed Garden Changes

The back garden was once what I like to refer to as the ‘Weed Garden’.  It was so named because, well, I let the weeds kind of do their thing–as long as they weren’t choking out the actual flowers that I put in, then all was as it should be.  The Weed Garden is also a subtle reference to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (my most very favorite book), and subsequently, there are lots of wonderful little Wonderland-y touches back there.  However….in recent months, my little garden has fallen into a bit of disrepair.  It is suffering from a fluffy infestation of chickens.  To be fair, the chickens actually do a fantastic job of taking the weeds out of the Weed Garden.  But they also do a pretty decent job of creating vast dirt holes where they can dust-bathe and sun themselves.  As charming as they are when they are lolling about in the dirt, these bare patches are not the most aesthetically pleasing.

It is long past time for me to take back my garden.  In my experience, so far, the best deterrent against chicken-scratching is a good, sturdy ground-cover of some sort.  If they can’t easily scratch it up and fling it aside like a rag doll, then they move on to somewhere else (by the way, I also find that it is good to actually give them a designated dirt pit where they are allowed to wallow).  I find, also, that strategically-placed obstacles, such as statues or garden art, thwart the chicken’s efforts.  Sometimes these obstacles get moved around a bit (my little ceramic mushrooms get uprooted and tossed about sometimes), but for the most part, I think they do a good job of impeding the destruction….or at least slowing it down.

The first bit of the garden to get a facelift is a little section off to the left as you first enter.  This was a notorious dust pit, care of the chickens.

Clem and Millie inspect the patch of dirt in question.

I knew that this would be the perfect spot to display my little Mad Hatter’s tea party; a collection of teacups, saucers, pots, and other little odds and ends, drilled for drainage and planted with succulents.  First and foremost, I wanted to put down a good layer of ground cover to anchor the dirt.  Blue Moneywort seems to stand up to chicken feet nicely, and it has lovely foliage and the sweetest little violet-like blue flowers in the spring and summer.  A couple little curly tufts of blue ornamental kale, and some purple pansies round out the ground plantings (we shall see if these survive chicken-inspection….I have my doubts, but did it anyway).

Succulent-filled teacups, teapot, and jewelry box sit atop a mirrored tray.

Succulent-filled vintage jewelry box.

A ‘white rabbit’ stands guard against the chickens.

A Wonderland garden would not be complete without a ‘drink me’ bottle or three.

My favorite quote.

This has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland. It’s just cute. So there it is.

1/32 of the garden is done!  Now on to the rest!

I’m going right now….in just a sec….this is me going out to the garden….lemme just….ooooh!  Pinterest!….

Farm Chick Chit Chat

I am so happy and humbled to be asked to be part of Farm Chick Chit Chat, a community of farm-minded ladies blogging about….wait for it….farms!  This fine selection of hobby farmers, homesteaders, chicken keepers, urban farmers, farmer-farmers, and at least one wannabe-farmer (guilty as charged) is a pretty little pause on the interwebs for all things farmy and fun.  I am truly grateful to be included, because these Farm Chicks….they know how to get things done.  If you haven’t visited yet, please do–it’s apple pie season over there! Farm Chick Chit Chat

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