Coming Soon: Free Book

Coming Soon: Free Book
Planning to give away a book or two!

Friday, April 29, 2016

To my surprise!

We have big, little (not so much), and tiny birds on the farm right now.  Today the specialist came to clean the pond. Duckie wasn't sure what to think but when it was done, he gave his quack of approval.
Duckie check's out the pond that was cleaned out.
While in the shed there is a different story. The chics and ducklings have doubled in size. Dale built this cool box for them and they've outgrown it already. 
Chicks and Ducklings
As I look at 4 day old chics in the house,  I remember that just a few weeks ago, the other ducks and chics were this small too. I think this weekend we will need to get the chicken coop ready in the barn for the older group. Considering that I'm allergic to feathers,  having chickens in the house is not a good deal.
4 day old chicks

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Remember these chics?

We incubated 27 eggs.  5 chics hatched, two small chics didn't make it. One chic started coming out of the shell and didn't make it.
They aren't exhausted anymore!
I don't know how to sex chics. Which means that I don't know if we have hens or roosters.  How do I know?

We were hoping that the chickens would nest.  But I think we have a batch of dumb chickens. When I read online,  it stated that eggs which aren't incubated right away should be stored at 50 degrees. Many of these eggs got colder than that.  Warmer and colder, that couldn't have been good for them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I changed my mind ...

I want to go back into my shell.
Don't worry, they are alive
Chics breaking out of their shells
This is one of the difficult things about working away from home.  The chics are hatching. Kelsey came over and took a few photos for me so that I could see them.

First moments of life
These chics are really a miracle. Science may be able to explain it, but only God could create it.  He created the egg as a perfect package to let these baby chickens change from a yolk to a living and breathing bird. Don't help them break free, that is part of the plan.  The birds need to struggle out of their shell in order to gain the strength needed to keep living  
Don't worry, they are all alive
As all introverts know, breaking out of your shell is exhausting!
Pray for Dale. He is feeling this exhausted too.  The dogs didn't let him sleep  much last night. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Now this is a pool!

It's surprising how much hotel prices change. The normal hotels that stay at were all near or over $200 this week.  The Double Tree which is usually more than the others was under  $150 this week. 
Now THIS is a pool!
Unlike some of the other hotels that I've stayed at, this hotel has a pool! The shallow end is 3 feet deep and the deep side was 9 feet deep. It is not conducive for little children playing because of both the depth and the fact that there are no steps, just a ladder. 
Then there is the hot tub fit for 20 people?! It makes me wonder. Adjacent to the pool is a party area for business meetings and possibly wedding receptions. I think that I'd be uncomfortable swimming with a meeting or party was going on in the party area.
Pool side party area
After swimming, I went back to the room. I still had a few hours left to spin. It is such a relaxing thing to do! It takes that stress from the day a makes it go away.
Spinning time

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sheep Sheering

 Springtime is here and last Tuesday was D-day.  Buddy and Gizem found out that it was time for sheering.  I'm sure on the warm sunny days they are appreciating it.  But it is Minnesota and we flip back and forth between too warm and too cold.
 This was the first time that I watched sheep sheering up close.  I was amazed how this feisty little Buddy submitted to the process.  He wasn't perfect.  He got rambunctious a couple of times but Tom was able to keep him under control.
Buddy sheered first
 Tom was raised around sheep sheering, spinning and weaving.  He was good enough to answer many of my questions while he sheered the sheep.  I was amazed at how many different colors of wool that Gizem had in his fleece.
Gizem sheered second
 I glanced around at one point and saw the two steer and Buddy peaking in the barn to see what was happening to Gizem.  It made me laugh.
Curiosity of the other animals
 Although neither of the sheep were excessively underfed, we did decide that it would not hurt either one if they received a little bit more food.  Maybe that was why they were escaping into the barn periodically.  It's hard to tell because sheep will eat much more than they need if you let them.
Gizem is a little bit thin
 It was funny watching the sheep as they went back out into the pasture.  It was almost as if they didn't recognize each other at first.  I have to wonder what really goes through their minds.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

So much for relaxation ...

I tried something different today. I didn't have many stops to make today in St. Cloud so I locked up the house and left the Dobermans in the fenced in yard. I opened the back door to the garage in case they wanted to be under cover.
Playtime for ducklings and chics
As soon as I arrived home, I put the ducklings and chics outside.  They love picking the bugs out of grass. The ducklings enjoy the modified dog kennel for swimming around. We have a rock in there and one of the cement leaves that I created. 
Buddy's Fleece
I had picked up a section of the fleece from the the Shetland. I was planning on "picking" the fleece while I watched the ducklings and chics. Picking is the process that gets the large debris out while separating the fleece into smaller pieces for carding.  I got about 4 handfuls of fleece picked when a loud crack of thunder echoed above. It was a race to get the critters safely inside before the storm hit.
Circle of 100+ Tulips
The storm had passed in less than an hour. It was a lot of noise but only a trace of rain. I had to check out the tulips. I see a lot of buds! 
Flowers soon - here are the buds
There will be a lot of flowers this year.  But give it a few years and the garden will be so packed that I'll be giving away tulips! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

More hours in the day?

After work this evening, the dogs and I went outside.  They were inside the fence and I was outside the fence. With a few days of rain,  I  knew that I  needed to attack the weeds.  They take over so fast in the spring.
It is exciting to see some of the plants that are coming up.  The spring flowers were no longer visible when we looked at the place late last summer.  I'm excited to see large quantities of lillies. 
Siberian Iris?
I'm not sure if this is Japanese irises or Siberian irises. I am guessing Siberian. It definitely needs to be split next fall.
Drama overhead
I had to stop in order to take a picture of the clouds. They were so dramatic! There is so much inspiration out here.
Sunset View
Wednesday evening, I had just finished chores when I  glanced out of the window to see the sun setting behind the barn.  Also, an inspirational site. I was thinking that I might try to create a water color of this view. Hmmm I think that I need more hours in the day! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Goodbye Gloria

It is with great sadness that I share, Miss Gloria is no longer with us. We noticed about a month ago she was walking tenderly as if she was in pain. Upon investigation we found out that she was full of breast cancer.  About two weeks ago, she virtually stopped eating.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Beginning to end herb infused cooking oil cubes. I'm using up last years garlic from my home garden only after making sure that garlic was planted in the garden for this year.
Garlic and Chive 
I started to work early Monday so that I could take a longer lunch. I still had garlic, red and white onions and potatoes to plant. I didn't have enough time to plant the potatoes. 
I had two kinds of garlic.  There was a generic garlic that you buy in any box store and some garlic that was purchased from Gurney's. These were some that I set aside from last year to plant this spring. 
Garlic Clove
When you plant garlic, you break off a clove. One garlic plant will produce as many plants as cloves in the bulb.
Planted Garlic
I planted  the cloves about 3 inches apart. I have 2 rows planted.  It was important for me to keep each type separate. I like to grow my own herbs for cooking.  Then there is no doubt about the freshness.
Ready for processing
Inside, I got everything ready for making garlic infused oil. 
Ice cube tray
 chives or any other herbs
extra virgin olive oil 
coconut oil
Begin by cutting the dry tip off from the end. It's okay to leave the naturally protective paper on it. That will pop off in the next step.
Clip the end off from the clove
Use the flat side of your blade to smash and flatten the clove.  This will release the paper covering and brings out the flavor of the garlic. 
Flatten the clove of garlic
Doesn't that work slick? One good slap and the garlic is flat with the paper covering sliding right off.
Remove paper-like covering
When you have several cloves ready, you can begin chopping them. You can do one whole garlic bulb at a time. Or do it in smaller groups.
Chop garlic
I put the chopped herbs into each of the individual ice cube trays. I left them loose so that the oil could soak in between. I started out with extra virgin olive oil. I recommend using a small container because it's easier to pour at the slower speed you need.
Fill ice cube tray with herbs then oils
Coconut oil needs to be melted before you can work with it. I put mine in the microwave about 20 seconds. Then I used a spoon to control the poor into the cups.
Coconut Oil
This ice cube fits a tablespoon of herbs and oil.  It is nice to use a known size cube so that you can control the amount of fat that you are adding as you sauté. 
Varieties are no problem
The chives were growing well in the garden so I cut them and brought some in to demonstrate. Chives are like a mild onion taste.
Springtime Chives
I rinsed the chives before I even set them down. I've seen people pick them in the garden and chew on them on the way to the house.  That is just a little too much onion for me.
Then I chopped them into small pieces. Normally when I work with chives, I cut bigger pieces. But for this project they need to be tiny.
Drooling yet?  Cut chives
With 21 cubes to fill, they can all be the same, all be different or anywhere in between.  Normally I do one tray of one kind because it is easiest for preparation.  But to show you some variety, I mixed it up a bit. 
Ending the tray with chives
With everything ready, the cubes went into the freezer for 24 hours.  Just a warning, when they come out of the freezer you will need to move quickly.  The oils will begin to soften quickly at room temperature.  This tray that I purchased has a special pop out design.  Even with that, I had problems with some of the cubes coming out.
Ready for the freezer

Monday, April 18, 2016

Crazy Woman?

One potato, two potato, three potato, four...
The old wives tale says that you need to have potatoes planted on Good Friday for the best Harvest. It's many weeks past that time. But we have been having an unusual spring, so we're going to go ahead and plant them today. My goal was to have it done before the rain.
Not your typical starter potato
These were some of the smaller potatoes from last year that never got used.  They were sitting in a 5 gallon pail and they had grown almost to the top of the pail.
Planting in the rain
I hope they make it. Trying to give them the best chance,  I went out in the rain to get them planted.  Yup! One crazy lady.  I'm hoping we get slightly more rain then what has been predicted.  Our garden is 75% planted. 
Feeling like a drown rat ....

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A *POP* of color

As I was bringing the ducklings out today, I noticed that the first flower was blooming.  A pop of pink. I need to buy some more spring bulbs in the fall.  It is needed for our mental health in the springtime.
Hello Springtime!
We planted the radishes, carrots, and beets today.  The garden is smaller than what we are used to. So we will need to choose carefully what we decide to plant. I planted the radishes next to the carrots.  In two weeks a row of radishes will go 4 inches from the beets.  I forgot that I had the onion sets and garlic here and ready to plant.  There was so much on the to-do list for the day.
Garden planting has begun.
I did some more landscaping with wood chips today.  Then I went to St. Cloud to a friend's daughter's concert.  She is a Senior in high school and it was one of her last concerts.  They did a fabulous job!
On the way home I noticed that the sky was sending down sunbeams. "Blessings from God."  I pulled into a parking lot to take a picture but it's brilliance had diminished.  When I turned the car around to leave, I noticed that my rear-view mirror added a focus to the image and it changed the view closer to what my eye was seeing.  So with the car stopped, I snapped the picture.
God's Blessings
All the way home, watching the beautiful clouds and sun mixture, I had a great desire to paint.  I knew enough to know that I would not have time this evening to paint.  I need 3 day weekends to get everything done!