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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chicken Update

I really don't have a lot of time to play on line.  I leave for work at 6:20 in the morning.  I get home sometimes 4:45 ... or if I need to stop for something later than that.  We normally work outside until dark.  That time is coming earlier and earlier now, but it has been as late as 9:30.  I am canning, gardening, harvesting, planting as needed, so needless to say I am busy.  I hope as winter approaches I will be wiser with my time and get some of the inside activities I have wanted to do .... done. 
The chickens are great.  I am so glad we have them.  I love listening to them as they wander around our property.  I love taking scraps to them and watching them devour whatever I take out.  They love melons.  Today I cut open one of our little mini melons and ate 1/2 of it.  I took the rind outside and within minutes everything but the hard outside shell was gone.  Marci wants me to make watermelon pickles for the kids ... I don't know how I can save the rinds to do it!!  Phil has them following him around.  Every time he calls them they run, and follow like the pied piper.  I am not around as much as he is, so they don't follow me as well.  They are starting to lay better and better.  Today I got 6 eggs.  Yesterday 5.  I am so happy to see them laying more, so they can start paying for their own food.  So far I have 2 customers.  I found someone very close to my work by advertising on Craigs list.  I also have someone at work who wants to buy my eggs.  I guess if they keep this up, I will need to find more customers. 
I would like to have more chickens.  I am still a little insecure about the butchering ...... but I will be able to get it done.  I like the growing process better!

My frugal lifestyle

I think I am frugal.  My brother in law says I am a cheap skate!  I am proud to be able to stretch a dollar into $1.50!  I got a great deal I just have to share.  I stopped at Fairway because of an advertized good deal I wanted to take advantage of.  I always check out the discounted produce because I have gotten a few good deals there.  On this day I found a really good sized bag of plums for 99 cents.  They looked OK, and I decided even if I got only a few and needed to juice the rest it would still be a good deal. 
I got them home and took a look at them, they were perfect for eating.  I shared some with my boss, and Phil and I ate as many as we wanted.  Today I realized they were on the verge of going bad so I juiced them.  I was able to can 5 quarts of juice and use the pulp to make fruit leather.  I ended up with a very small bowl of  "waste".  Then Phil reminded me the chickens love fruit, so he will give it to them in the morning. 
I think I got a great deal for less than a dollar. 
Cheapskate or Frugal.?  It doesn't really matter.  I'm the one with juice to make jelly and a good batch of fruit leather.

Great finds!

Phil likes to tell me he is well trained.  Hummm, in some things I guess he is.  He went out to garage sales yesterday and found a dozen, brand new still in the box, wide mouth jars plus a few used jars.  That was good.  I washed them all up last night, and even filled some of them up with the vegetable soup I had been working on.  This morning we headed out of the house to go to an auction he has been talking about for weeks. On the way he spotted a yard sale and stopped for a "quick look".  He had been there for about 20 seconds when he found 3 boxes of canning jars for FREE!  He was excited and instantly started carrying them to the truck.  I haven't unpacked them to see exactly what we got, but what a great deal.
The auction turned out to be quite a disappointment.  The farmer was 84 years old and just about everything was junk.  It was amazing to see how much money people are willing to pay for the OLD nonworking tractors.  I saw quite a few things that made me smile, and think of Mom and Dad.  I remember Dad's old corn shovels, his drill press, tools and tools and more tools.  Many of the things this old farmer had were like Dad's things.  We came away from that auction spending only $2 for an old feed trough that we are going to use as a flower pot.  We found a yard sale on the way home and Phil bought a trailer for me to use to haul garden stuff, hay etc behind my tractor.  I don't know if I will actually get to keep it ... the axle is from a 1937 chevy, and we can probably get a lot more money for that than we paid for the trailer. 
This weekend is keg creek days here in Glenwood.  It is a very nice small town festival.  There are lots of antique tractors farm implements and fun.  The first year we lived here we brought Mom with us.  We took her to the cowboy church and old fashioned gospel singing.  There was a flea market and one of the vendors was selling wooden musical instruments.  She bought Courtney a beautiful wooden flute for Christmas.  She died before Christmas.  I hope Courtney cherishes the flute. 
We didn't get to the festivities today, but did go to the concert this evening.  It was fun.  They played rock from the 50's and 60's.  The band was unique in that there were a grandfather and grandson playing together.  They ranged from men in their 60's to young men in their 20's.  It was a fun show.  One of the things that made is special were the people dancing in front of the stage.  Glenwood has a very large facility called "the state school" where people with mental handicaps live.  Many of the people have downs syndrome.  Several of these young people dance through the entire show and make everyone smile.  I didn't see one person looking cross at these wonderful people.  What a wonderful small town this is.  Sometimes I wish we were a little closer to town, so I could get to know more of the locals.
Speaking of rock and roll, I stopped by Delana's house the other day to pick elderberries.  She has a wonderful bush in her back yard.  These are big berries and so clean!  I have always picked the fruit from road ditches so it was always covered in nasty dust.  These were clean and so easy to juice out.  Anyway Olivia came outside while I was there and I asked her to sing the song they were learning in music class.  I have to tell you there is nothing cuter that listening to a kindergartner singing "I love rock and roll, put another dime in the jukebox baby".  I would love to hear the entire class singing that!
Olivia loves school.  I knew she would.  I can't wait to see how she changes and matures being around other kids her age.  Ruby didn't like her first day at school because some other girl didn't like her.  I haven't talked to her since, so I am not sure how that is all going.  Caelum sounded like he was doing fine, but I haven't talked to him since his first day either.  I believe Emilia and Shelby start school right after Labor day.  Poor Joe will be home all alone with Mom. 
It is getting late.  I think it is time for me to scoot off to bed.  Tomorrow we will go to keg creek days again and see the tractors this time.  Phil would like to see the museum and spend time oogling the antique equipment.  You'd think he lived on a farm all of his life wouldn't you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finding old friends again

Sometimes it is difficult to stay in touch with friends. I often find myself so busy I see no one but Phil (and the people I work with of course). Responsibilities keep us so involved that people we love don’t receive a phone call, don’t get an invitation to dinner, and just don’t get the time they deserve.
My very good friend Cindy and I have “talked” about getting together for ages. Finally last week she said Tuesday at Applebee’s and we both agreed it would work for us. It was so much fun. We met at 4:30 and at 6:30 we realized we had been talking for 2 hours, with so much more to say. The wait staff was beginning to look at us …. Customers were waiting to be seated! Reluctantly at 6:45 we left the restaurant and went home with a promise we would not go so long before we see each other again. Email is a wonderful tool but is nothing compared to sitting face to face with a loved friend and talking. And the hug is even better.

Phil was on his own for dinner last night and he decided to BBQ some chicken. He is a great cook so I don’t worry about him finding something for dinner. My cooking is down home and filling. His is pretty! This morning we were talking about his chicken and he said it didn’t turn out very well. He said he used the really long thermometer out in the mudroom with all the gardening stuff to stick into the chicken. Shocked I asked him WHAT he used???? I didn’t ask him if he washed/sterilized it but I doubt it. He used the COMPOST thermometer. I laughed so hard I could hardly talk.

It rained all day yesterday. This was the good rain, slow and steady. No damaging hail. The garden is coming in so nicely now …. It will probably be crazy in a few days. I can’t believe the amount of watermelon and muskmelons … none are ripe yet. I planted the small watermelon so we hopefully won’t have a lot of wasted fruit. The muskmelons are pretty good size … we are going to have them coming out of our ears!!!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's county fair time

We went to the Cass County fair today. I look forward to this day from year to year. I don’t know why I have to go “home” every year, but I do feel the need to see friends from the past, to revisit my youth and connect with people I will always love. Delana apparently feels much the same feelings because she took the kids to the carnival even though they had been to Adventureland in Des Moines one a few days earlier. Phil doesn’t normally get to go to the fair because of his work schedule. This year he is unemployed so he was able to join us.

I really wanted to visit with one of Mom’s good friends while we were in the area, but we didn’t manage to make it to her house. We did get to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm. The new owner has plowed over even the driveway so we could not even get to anything except the driveway. He certainly wants to get his money’s worth out of the land. There are few trees left standing out there. The “bottom land” looks like it always has ... creek and rock. The rest is sad. The trees are gone and the land has been abused for such a long time that it is only soil because it is dirt. The nutrients are all gone. He has done nothing to replenish what he has taken. He continues to add fertilizer every year so the plants grow and provide him with a crop. But he has done nothing to feed the soil and make it healthy so it will provide a nutritious product back to him. I am always amazed that farmers forget where they came from. How can they forget to feed the land?

OK, I will get off of my high horse and get back to today! We did drive through town, amazed at the changes. The carnival was fun. The kids were having a great time. Olivia was afraid of most of the rides but Ruby was a trooper. Now that she is 7 she is ready to take on the world! She was not happy while she was on the Ferris wheel with Caelum because Olivia and I got cotton candy … we did save her some! Ruby insisted on going on a ride that I thought would scare her so much …… she said she was scared but didn’t make a sound.

Phil said he wanted to ride only one ride …. The Tilt O Whirl. He purchased a ticket for each of us … then asked Caelum and Ruby to join us. We squeezed all 4 of us into one “car” and told the kids to hold on for a great ride. We leaned to the left and then to the right … we twirled and twisted. Caelums eyes were not focused. Ruby and I screamed as loud as we could. We had the best ride you can even think about having. I don’t think the little ones think Grandpa and Grandma can enjoy things like that ….. but we sure did!!!

The parade was great as always … the kids enjoyed all of the candy. I got to see people I haven’t seen in a long time. After the parade we visited the 4H barns. The kids loved the animals. They got to see sheep, goats, cows etc. Phil and I went to the chicken barn alone and ran into Jeannie Thomason … well truthfully she was holding “court” there. After looking at all the chickens, rabbits and pigeons we sat down and talked to her about chickens. She was able to give some great advice and help us make some decisions about how we want to proceed with the chickens. It is so nice to be one of the “Zaloudek girls” when I go home. A lot of people can’t remember which one I am …. But they always know I am “one of them”

I ran into several people who know me only as a “Zaloudek” but that is OK too. I still think of them with the same name we had while we were in high school.

I know I can’t go home again, but it sure is nice to visit!

Friday, August 6, 2010

If you throw a cat out a car window.............

………….. would it be considered Kitty litter? That was one of the jokes the rodeo clown told tonight, and for some reason it struck me so funny and I could not stop laughing. Mom and Phil talked about the Sidney Iowa rodeo three or four years ago, and he has wanted to go since. I just never remembered to buy the tickets. A few weeks ago I heard an ad on the radio on my way to work, so called from work that day and bought 4 tickets on the front row. We went with our friends Marsha and Randy. I was at this rodeo years and years ago, I don’t know if I was even a teenager yet. I didn’t even recognize the place. Marsha said she went when she was a very small girl too.

We were all looking forward to carnival food. I decided I could have ONE THING and enjoy it like crazy. We walked up and down the midway looking at the food vendors and I honestly didn’t see anything I really wanted. The smells were good, but I kept remembering how hard I would have to work to loose all of those extra calories. Phil is always worried that I am not eating enough (believe me, I am eating more than enough) so I decided on some curly French fries. The woman promised me that they would be crunchy and not greasy. She lied. They were not at all crunchy and they were terribly greasy. I didn’t want to eat it ……. But Phil said he would eat it rather than throw it away. He had the fries and the biggest corn dog I have ever seen. Marsha and Randy had steak sandwiches. I love the greasy smell of carnival food.

The rodeo was fun. I was surprised to see how high tech they have become. There was a really big screen for the instant replay and laser lights to time the barrel racing. The announcer was on horseback with a wireless microphone all night. Even the clown had a wireless microphone.

One thing amazed me this evening. One of the cowboys was 75 years old. He didn’t do the calf rustling, or the bull ride, but he did a very impressive job of roping a cow. He was riding very high in the saddle and moved very quickly.

We had a very nice “date night”. I think we will have another date night next week when we go to the Cass County fair. Delana and Rick are taking the kids for “kid day” we will meet them before the rides are over and hopefully they will stay for the parade. I love going home. It is so much fun to see my old friends … and Mom’s friends. I love the hugs I get from people who have known me all of my life.