Friday, October 23, 2009

I love the fall!

Stinky chickens and all, fall is my favorite time of the year. It's another beautiful day here, and I'm glad to be able to enjoy it. Thank you, dear husband, for working all day so that I can stay home with the kids, and thank you to all my friends for putting up with my moods, and thank you my sweet children for sharing this day with me!!

Wohoo, if we could have more days like this, I might actually be a pleasant person! (Just kidding, even when it's nasty, I'm still quite nice).

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stink, stank, stunk

It is sunny today, but we've had rain at least half of the days in the last two weeks. Chickens stink big time when their pens get wet. Oh dear. I'm ready to give them all to Colonel Sanders. We've been letting the ones we hatched earlier this year free range most of the time and they seem to like roosting on the porch railings. Now our porch stinks like chicken too. Their feeders are all caked with mud, and their pens are nasty. I know these aren't ideal conditions to keep the chickens in, but I don't know what to do about it. We can add hay, but other than that, I'm at a loss. Things are usually fine, it's just been an unusually wet couple of weeks. The hens are showing their dismay by not laying many eggs. So now I'm buying a ton of food, putting up with mud and stink and getting nothing in return.

On the other hand, our rabbits are now all in the little hutches we (mostly my husband) made and are happy. The weather is cooler now, they have a roof over their heads to keep out the rain, and as they're not on the ground, they aren't having to deal with any mud. At least someone is happy.

Enough grumping though. It's a beautiful, sunny fall day and we're all happy and healthy. That's good enough for me!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

No Rabbits Escape from Mommy's Farm...

Have you ever seen the movie 'Chicken Run'? If the answer is no, then my title probably makes no sense at all. But if you have seen the movie, maybe you remember the farmer telling Ginger that as he tosses her back in the pen. You see, in the movie, Ginger the chicken is determined to get all of the other chickens and herself out of the pen and off to the distant hillside, where they will all live happily ever after. After all, once a chicken quits laying eggs, she gets made in to tomorrow's dinner. Problem is, all of her plans keep getting messed up. Well, as you're all aware, we have some chickens here - but this story is about our rabbits. Three girls and two boys, by the way. There is a pen that we fashioned from wire that the kids can put the rabbits (one at a time to prevent flying fur) in to let them run around. The kids can get in there with them and play with them a little bit too. Hmmm, one day (shortly after Ginger had been in the pen), we put Snowball in there to play and stretch. I went off to do some other chores and came back into the backyard half an hour later. Guess who was laying in the shade of the porch, right next to Easter (our friskiest male)? Yep, Snowball! She was stretched out taking a little nap and I walked up, gently picked her up and placed her back in her cage. No solitary confinement in the coal bin this time. So, did Ginger arrange for her to get out? In the movie the chicken Ginger is forever digging under the fence with a spoon and shoving the other chickens through the hole. It gets ever more suspicious. A few days later (last week) one of the kids went out to watch the rain and ride his scooter on the porch. He came running back in to tell us a rabbit was in the bushes out front. I'm thinking a wild one, but went out to check anyway. Guess who it was - Ginger! She had somehow gotten out of her cage and hopped into the bushes. Too bad for her it was the only rainy day we'd had in two weeks... ha, serves her right! Mind you, in the movie, Ginger would never leave the farm until all the chickens were free. Our Ginger didn't either. She was just hanging out, apparently waiting for the other rabbits to catch up. So, what do you think? Do we have a rabbit revolt in the making? (Yes, by the way, they're meat rabbits). Have they been listening to the kids movies a little too often? Or this all just a big coincidence? LOL, I don't know either, but if they keep it up, we're having rabbit stew a little sooner than planned.

BTW, in the movie, the chickens finally escape and the barn containing the new chicken pot pie making machine gets blown up.

Wish us luck here - I don't look good covered in gravy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Full sun

Ok, I guess I'm on a plant rant this week. First the well drained soil blog entry, and now one about 'full sun'. There are very few plants out there whose tag says to plant it in the shade. A few, but not many. Everything is supposed to be planted in the full sun. Well, I've about concluded that 'full sun' in Texas isn't quite the same as 'full sun' in Ohio. I have blueberry plants rated for our zone (8) that are supposed to be planted in the sun. These plants are rated for zones 4 - 8. Ok, no problem. I stuck them in the sun. It's only early July and these plants are wondering what in the world is going on. It's been full, scorching, blazing sun for a couple of weeks now, with temperatures close to 100° nearly every day. We have had a day or two of cool weather and even a nice shower last week, but that's it. I'm really worried about keeping these plants healthy through to the end of August. I imaging folks in zone 4 aren't having quite the same concerns as me at this moment. What with all the global warming going on these days, they're probably more worried about an early freeze (yes, that's touch of sarcasm there).

Just for the record, here's a site where you can check to see what hardiness zone you're in:

I'm seriously thinking of making some shades for the raised beds. We have a lot of rebar around here, and I may put one in the ground near the corner of each bed and toss an old sheet over the beds during the afternoon. Am I being silly? Maybe. But I really don't want to lose plants beacuse they got too much sun! (Ok, I don't want to lose them for any other reason either, but that's the one that's got me most worried at the moment).

Water, shade, fertilizer, pruning. Sheesh. These plants need almost as much care as the kids!

Enough rambling for now, it's time for my afternoon mocha. See you later.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Well drained soil

So, I want to be a gardener and have happy, healthy plants. I know that means that I should find out how to best care for the things that I intend to grow. It seems that every time I look up info about a particular plant, the care page starts out with 'Make sure to plant in well drained soil'. Just take a look at this web site: Get the idea? Well guess what - master gardener that I am, I had no idea what well drained soil was! With the help of the internet I found out. So, for all of you, like me, who want healthy plants but have been afraid to ask, here is the information you've been waiting for!

From here:

Well-drained soil is that which allows water to percolate through it reasonably quickly and not pool. Standing water or saturated soil deprives roots of oxygen. Some tree species can tolerate wet site conditions longer than others, so we make the distinction in our planting recommendations.

Deep, loamy soil and sloping sites tend to be well drained. Soil high in clay content, depressions, or sites with high water tables, underlying rock or ‘hard pans’ (a layer of soil impervious to water) tend to not be well drained. A test that is often recommended is to dig a hole 12 by 12 inches square and about 12 to 18 inches deep. Fill it with water and let it drain. Then do it again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions; a slower rate is a caution that you either need to provide drainage or look for a species tolerant of wet conditions. Most trees grow best in a deep, moist, well-drained soil. Each species has a different level of tolerance to soils on either the wet or dry side of the ideal. Of course, other site factors such as pH and shade tolerance are also important in considering what trees to plant.

I actually haven't tested my soil (as it is July and I've just figured out what all the experts mean when they tell me to have 'well drained soil'). I have at least tried to prepare the soil somewhat. For next planting though, I'm going to make sure to do it right. Here is a good article on how to make the illustrious soil if you don't have it.

So there you have it folks - happy planting!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chickens are a lot of work

Yes they are. Fresh eggs are tasty, and maybe one day we'll have fresh chicken in out pot pie. I guess that will make this up front effort worth while. I must admit that I actually enjoyed the work I put into the chicken house. Ha - what a deal, I got to do the sawing and drilling and my husband had to do all the hard stuff! My wimpy hands have a hard time bending the wire and stuff, so I used the power tools while he did the wire work. It was a good team effort and the chickens thank us. We're glad they like it! The scary part of this whole thing is that we need a lot more of these to comfortably hold all our our new chickens. The hatchlings are still in a small tractor, and the Australorps are still in bins on the porch. We have the wood to start on the next tractor, and after that we get to do another, and another...


Here is a picture of our first of many chicken houses.

Ok, technically that's not our first. My husband built one (a different type) last year our first white leghorns. This is just our first new one for this year's chicks. We have decided it was pretty easy to build and are planning on sticking with this design for our future creations.

Fun, fun, fun!

Plum Delicious

Ok, I'm going to try to post a picture at last! We planted a couple of flowering plum trees a few years ago and thought that's what we were going to get - ornamental flowering trees. What we were surprised to find out is that not only are these trees very pretty, they also produce lots of very tasty plums. I may need to learn out how to make plum jelly.

Here is a picture of the plums still on the tree.

And here is a picture of the plums we picked last night. They are just waiting to be eaten.

Care to join me for a snack?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back at last

I know it's been a while since my last post. No excuse, I've just been slacking off. Let's see, since then we finished our big chicken tractor and put the Easter chicks, Rhode Island Reds, and White Leghorns in it. Turns out that not all of the Easter chicks were males. We were told to expect that, but it seems that we got lucky. The hatched chicks are as cute as ever and growing big. They're in a smaller tractor. That just leaves the Black Australorps in a bin on the porch. No more chicks in the kitchen! Wohoo!! I celebrated the day we moved the last batch outside.

We had a major storm last night and the wind blew over the corn. It seems to be springing back up a little, so maybe it will be ok. The rest of the garden weathered it well. We have small cucumbers, squash and watermelon. The onions and radishes are ready and we go pull them up as we want to eat them. The beans and okra look good. A few other things are growing out there too. Seems we got a bit of a late start, but it's looking good!

Speaking of looking good, the blackberries and blueberries are growing like weeds too. We planted new strawberries and rasberries and they're both coming right along. The figs have figs, and one of the pear trees has pears. I guess that's better than it having peaches or apples, no? We even have a few plums getting ripe out there. Mmmmm, it's going to be good eating around here before long!

Well, that was a quick update of life here on the farm. I'm going to try to post more here, including pics of the place. Wish me luck!

The water's boiling, so I'm off to make my cup of hot. Goodnight all.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

We have babies!

Fifteen baby chicks have hatched! We had a total of thirty eggs in the incubator, so maybe that's not a very good hatch rate, but this was our first try and we're excited! They're very soft, and so fuzzy and cute. The kids have them all named (of course) although I don't know how they tell them apart. The eggs were mixed breed, and all mixed up, so there are many different varieties in there but there are several that look a lot alike. I'll post pictures when I have them downloaded.

Ok, so if you're keeping count, that adds fifteen more chickens to our tally. Three big dogs, six adult chickens, five rabbits, twenty two 'big' chicks (a month or two old), and fifteen two day old babies! What am I going to do with all these chickens?! Eggs anyone?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More on the garden and chicks

Well, I think I mentioned that I was running out of garden space faster than I was running out of seeds. My husband (David) took care of that problem by doubling the size of the garden! He got the tractor out while the kids were at soccer the other evening and when we got home, there it was. We have now planted the okra, some popcorn, pumpkins, cantaloupe. And guess what, we still have leftover space. I still have a bag of seeds, so we'll get back out there tomorrow.

We watched another video online about candelling eggs and tried again a couple of nights ago. This time, we saw some movement in one that we're sure was a baby chick! We were so happy, that we quit then and there and didn't look at any more. Ha, ha, I know, silly us - but since we don't know exactly what we're looking at anyway, we aren't likely to throw any of this batch away until we know for sure they're not going to hatch. I just hope one doesn't explode in the incubator between now and next Thursday. That's when they're due to hatch. Only one more week!

Quincy (3 year old daughter) has quit wanting to eat eggs because she thinks she'll be eating one of our chicks! I keep explaining to her that there are no chickens in these eggs, but she doesn't seem to believe me. What to do, what to do...

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Rainy Day

It rained today. This is a good thing, as we have just planted our garden. Connor is turning out to be a pretty good garden helper. He loves to hoe! Yesterday we planted peppers, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and watermelon. We're saving room for okra. That will fill up the garden, but we still have more things to plant. I'm thinking of dragging a few more tires up from the back acres to make raised beds out of. -- What's the matter? Didn't know I was a redneck? Ha, neither did I, but I guess if the shoe fits...

We tried candelling the eggs in the incubator yesterday. We didn't have a box like suggested. I hope that makes a difference, because we didn't see anything but eggs. No little blobs like the pictures on the internet shows. I really do hope I'm not giving up my bath tub for three weeks just for a batch of rotten eggs.

The kids and I went to Sam's today to try to get a few things. We made it there before the storms hit, but the lightning was pretty close. Since they were nervous about the possibility of the power going off inside the store, I wore my flashlight. It's on a lanyard, and dangled around my neck during our trip. Some folks thought that was a little strange, but I bet they see a lot worse these days. BTW, did you know Friday is sample day at Sam's? Don't worry about eating lunch, just go and have at it. The kids think it's a blast.

It's been a busy day and I'm tired. As I've already had my cup of hot, I'm going to sign off and go to bed. Good Night all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crop Circles

I know how they're made! You just give a seven year old a hoe and tell him to make a straight line. Yes, you guessed it right. We planted our garden today. Well, we started planting it. Six rows of corn and some watermelon are now in the ground and ready to grow. Earlier this year we planted blueberries and blackberries. Yum.

A new day

Here it is, another new day already. The chicks and eggs are still doing fine. The rabbits are happy campers too. They boys have gone to their piano lessons and we're back at home. They're doing some schoolwork and then we're going out to plant the garden. The stinkpot girl is watching a video. She denies being a stinkpot. Ha, and I deny being grumpy - so maybe denial runs in the family!

Today is tax day. I'm not going to a tea party, mainly because I want to sit home and plant the garden. We're from a small town, and the closest one that I know about is a pretty good drive. Just for the record, in case you were just itching to know a little bit about my political philosophy, I think most politicians could care less about the people they govern, are just after power, and love to spend other people's money. I think global warming is a scam (I would call it a joke if it wasn't being used as an excuse to raise my electric bill so high that I going to be very cold next winter). I also think that a government shouldn't be able to spend money it doesn't have. No debt. That's my philosophy. I'm working on it on a personal level, and they should work on it on the state and federal level.

Enough of that. The dinosaur movie is almost over and I have to go teach the girly her letters (she's three after all, and should know them by now)!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Who am I?

I'm not a grumpy old lady! Well, my kids and my husband say that I am, but I deny it. If I'm a little short tempered these days, it's because I have 18 baby chickens in the kitchen and 30 eggs in an incubator in the bath tub. What am I supposed to do with all this fowl?! We already have 6 chickens outside, and they produce all the eggs we need. My husband thinks we'll eat some of these, but I do suppose the kids will have something to say about that. Speaking of which... we also have 5 little rabbits on the back porch. They're supposed to be meat rabbits, but the kids have them all named and love to put them in a pen in the backyard and play with them. I predict no rabbit stew for us any time soon either.

So, you might ask, why the name 'A Cup of Hot'? Well, Grumpy Old Lady was already taken! And besides, I do enjoy a nice cup of hot to help me relax. With 4 kids and all this poultry in the house, I need to relax.

I am a stay at home mom, who would love a work-from-home job. I had one of those until a few months back and found that I really liked the paycheck. Know of anyone who wants a stay at home software designer? I know all about chickens. How about some custom chicken raising software?! If so, I'm the right lady for the job.

I am also a homeschool mom. That's right, 4 kids that stay at home with me all day. We have a great time learning together. We go on a ton of field trips, attend classes and playgroups and get more 'social' time than anybody I know. That makes for a busy enough time, but then we actually do a little schoolwork every now and then too - just to keep from getting bored.

Oh well. Enough for one night. It's time to go feed the chicks and have a cup of tea.