dalthauser: (Life is Juicy)
I'm a little late with the May highlight slideshow.  Once I get this done - I'll work on June.  I have a long weekend with the holiday, so I wanted to catch up on things that give me pleasure but never seem to be able to set aside time for.

Some things in May that were awesome

*  We discovered that the annoying tree behind the chicken coop is a Mulberry tree!  (annoying because you can't walk behind the coop because the tree is right there taking up the whole space)

*  Dad came for a visit, and Marcel got to spend time with him.

*  Summer garden in full production.  We did pretty good, but the squash succumbed to the vine borers - that was sad.

*  Our Delaware hen (who was born on the Acre) sat on and hatched 4 babies (the other two I hatched in the incubator).  It has been fun watching them grow under her watchful eye.

* I spent Memorial Day weekend with Marcel helping him with the restaurant.  Enjoyed the time together.

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 I posted this on Facebook, but I wanted to share it here (and have it in my blog for posterity) :-)

I've moved Cleo over to the flock.  We're testing it out to see if it takes.  If not, she'll come back to me and we'll work it out.  We'll probably create a shelter just for her in the back pasture.  I'm hoping it works out though - she should be with her own kind - not my pet. :-)

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I posted this on my Facebook, but there are a few of my LJ friends who aren't on there (I wish you'd give in already and join - haha)  I really wanted to share it because it was quite the experience for me.

The Baby Mama stopped sitting on her eggs after the first 4 hatched. I put them in the incubator (previously used only for staring seeds). Here are the video clips I took to text to my husband so he could share in the experience. I spliced this together over several hours (about 2 1/2 min of footage). The next morning, before the sun came up, I snuck her into the nest - everyone is doing just fine :-)

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If the slideshow goes too fast, point the mouse anywhere on the picture - then you can hit the stop (square) button then click on FF or REW to advance manually. :-)

dalthauser: (Default)
I'm finding it more and more inconvenient to get onto Livejournal these days.  When I do, I just read to catch up - rarely posting.  Will have to remedy that somehow.  Maybe I'll make a weekly appointment or something.

What's new.......

The baby chicks are over 3 weeks old now, and we recently moved them to the "halfway coop".  They will stay there a month or more then go to the big coop.  We have a couple more of the old flock to put in the pot before this happens.  Five of our hens are still laying - they will stay after the new flock moves in. 

Last week Marcel ordered me a Grain Mill.  I've been wanting to grind my own grains for a long time now.  We did alot of reseach, and we decided The Family Grain Mill was best for us because..... 1 - made in Germany 2 - with the setup we purchased we can grind by hand and also with the Kitchenaid mixer.  3. there are many add ons you can purchase including a motor, roller/flaker, meat grinder, shredder.  We shopped around for the best price and found what we wanted for $149.99 with free shipping from Millersgrainhouse.com.  It arrived today (so FedEx says......I'm here at work).

With the new mill I can make flour and cracked grain for the chickens (and cooked cereals).  Now we need whole grains to mill.  We bought 25# of rye and a couple pounds of wheat locally, but it is a little pricey.  We researched and found that there is a Co-Op that orders twice a year from Waltonfeed.com.  Doing it with others saves a bundle on shipping.  This is the best pricing we could find - but we're still looking. 

The cool season garden is tapering off to nothing as summer approaches.  Still have lettuce and chard though - and the onions/garlic won't harvest until mid June.  I'm not entirely satisfied with what we produced with this planting.  While nature had something to do with it (like that weeklong deep freeze...) I probably could have started earlier and protected the garden better overall.  Next cool season I will be protecting with hoop row covers all season long.  It doesn't look as nice, but maybe I can use my imagination and come up with something not entirely hideous.  We did produce a decent amount - and, more importantly we learned some valuable lessons. 

I am already started with the warm seaon garden though - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, beans, and cucumbers, and summer squash are all in the ground.  This weekend I'll be planting some cover crop (buckwheat), planing a bed of butternut squash as well as re-planting basil (first planting were some old seeds I was hoping were still good - didn't pan out).  I'm determined to get a good crop - and I'll be sticking close to the garden this season nurturing it along.

I'm going to post a photo slideshow this weekend - yep, promise

dalthauser: (Default)
 The new flock is one week old today.  They are doing  great!!

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We recently took another step in our homesteading journey.  Adding to our family of fruit trees.  We are adding two Jujube trees and another Fig tree.  

Jujubes (not the candy) are small fruits.  They are also known as Chinese dates,  I've never tasted one, but they say they have a flavor like an apple.  They are often dried.  I chose this because I've never seen them grown and would like something unique.  Also, they are supposed to grow very well in our area.

Panache Fig -  We already have good luck with figs.  I have a Texas Everbearing fig tree that is about 6 1/2 years old now.  I enjoy eating them and making jam with them.  They require very little attention once they are established.  I chose Panache because it is beautiful, and it's supposed to be a good fig for eating fresh.

Received our trees from Trees of Antiquity (not the cheapest supplier out there - but they have a good reputation and offered a variety of fig we had a hard time finding elsewhere).    

They all came healthy and with good roots.

We prepared the holes for the trees a couple weeks ahead of time, and we purchased a truck load of compost the morning we planted them.  We mixed native dirt to compost at about a 4to1 ratio.  

I'm just posting this one because I think my husband is one foxy dude..... (the bandana around his neck is not a fashion accessory - he has a cold, and it's keeping the Vick's vapor rub warm.... haha)

We set the trees on a little "hill" and spread the roots out as much as we could.  

We  covered them with landscaping fabric and made a temporary fence around them to keep the chickens out.  We'll remove the fencing after about 18 months once the root systems are firmly established.

We hope that these trees will provide good shade for the chickens in summer.  Since they are deciduous - they won't give shade in the winter, but the days are short then - and it's cool - so it's not as much of an issue.

On a side note - today we also culled two chickens.  Marcel taught me how to humanely kill and clean them.  It was a bit traumatic I will have to admit, but I am committed to learning to live this homesteading lifestyle.  We stewed the chickens to make chicken soup since the birds were rather old.
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Even a "Hobby Homestead" like ours.

This morning when I let the chicken out the oldest of the older hens that came from a neighbors was down.  She responded when I pet her, but it was clear she was in trouble.  I brought her into the house and examined her.  It felt as though she was fulled with fluid in her abdomen.  From her breathing and physical appearance I felt she needed to be put out of her misery.  A visit to the vet is not an option.  I wrapped her in a fluffy towel and brought her to the butcher block. I don't believe she experienced any trauma - I am gaining some experience in this area (and, since we will soon be culling chickens to eat, this is a good thing).  
dalthauser: (Default)
I am so grateful to my husband for making the chicken compound a reality.  He worked so hard, and we got it completed without purchasing very much (we figured out ways to use what we had on hand with the exception of the large posts and some supplies).  Thanks also to Tom for helping out.

The only thing left to do it finish the add on to the top of both gates (right now I have hog wire in place - but I want to make it a little less redneck ..... :-)

dalthauser: (Default)
 I got to spend five glorious days with my husband this past week. Days where we both didn't have to work - which is a first for us.  It was super awesome! :-)

Saturday was Marcel's birthday! (as well as our grandson Kaylob's birthday)

I drove down after work (work 1/2 day on Sats) and set up his birthday present before going out to the restaurant and hanging out with him in the kitchen. I got him a way cool Jensen mini stereo that plays MP3/WMA CD's and has an iPod dock. It's sleek like a Bose - and you can mount it on the wall even. I also filled a 24 CD case with a variety of entertainment mostly classical music - but also some audio books and lectures.

Sunday we got up and walked on the beach for an hour - then off to Penne's (Thai Spice) for lunch - then we made the 3 hour drive up to New Braunfels. By the time we got to the NB house I was bushed (no AC in the truck - and it was hot out). We'd planned to go to Wurstfest, but I didn't have it in me. Instead we did some work around the property (set the gate posts for the chicken compound!) and had a quiet evening at home.

Monday we spent the day working on the new chicken compound. So....much....work!! We finished the fence fully and started working on the coop. We made a trip to Lowes for some supplies - aside from that - the day just flew by.
(oh, and I canceled my phone service Monday - no more landline - just the cell)

Tuesday we worked more on the Coop. Tom came in the afternoon, and we finally went inside and cleaned ourselves up to go to Wurstfest. Wurstfest was fun. I went on the Ferris Wheel with Marcel - and we grabbed some food - and enjoyed some music. It was nice to have Tom's company with us.

Wednesday was spent finishing up the coop.  Thanks to Tom's skills and enthusiasm we were able to finish in time to move the chickens in to their new digs.  Also, thanks to Tom, I was able to get my Kale and Swiss Chard transplanted in the garden.  We all had lunch at TJ's Burger and ate too much.  That evening we had dinner in front of the TV watching Slumdog Millionaire.

This morning the men all left me, and I headed out to work.
It was a nice mini honeymoon/working vacation - loved it!

Picture slideshows to follow - working on that now.
(so little time these days to do these things, and it's so important to me to document life events too)
dalthauser: (Life is Juicy)
 My dump cart and I are spending so much time together, I decided I'd name him BOB.

dalthauser: (Dorie Roo)
Finally bought a new garden cart.  My old cart can no longer be held together by Duct Tape.  The instructions say it can be assembled in 30 minutes (they left out "with a pit crew") 

Packaged up nice and neat - looks fairly harmless this way

It's a little more intimidating all spread out

I finished steps 1 - 3.  This is how far I got.  :-)
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* Thanking the universe for all the rain we had so far this year - my garden is in heaven.

* Fig harvest is going great - about 30 pounds so far - and plenty more to go.

Dried Some

Made preserves out of some (8lb of figs makes 5 pints of preserves)

Cyber was fussy yesterday - couldn't get comfortable.  She was all over the place

I found this on the hard drive - Sierra must have had one of her Myspace photo sessions.
I loved this - took my breath away.

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 We harvested the solo Pluot today and ate it.  It was mighty tasty!

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* We were busy at the restaurant over the weekend.  I helped on Saturday and Sunday in the kitchen.  Met Marcel's new cook and waitress - two thumbs up.  This morning we walked on the beach before Marcel went to work.  It was rather nasty - lots of seaweed and trash from last night's festivities.  I got to feed the Seagulls though, so that made it worth it.

* I drove up from Corpus Christi about 2:30pm.  It's a 3+ hour drive, and I don't have A/C - which is usually not a problem - but today felt so hot that I stopped at Academy in San Antonio and did some window shopping just to get some Air Conditioning.  I picked up a lunch bag sized backpack cooler ($6) to take tubing (will carry some sodas, sunscreen, keys, and camera).

* I got home and headed right outside to take care of business.  Got everything watered - fed the chickens/collected eggs.  Got some pics of the rest of the afternoon.....................

Cucumbers grow so fast.  Luckily the Armenian cukes taste good even when huge (those spots are water droplets - just finished watering)

Fig tree must have started going into ripening mode on Saturday or Sunday because there were tons of succulent figs on it.  This year it seems I will have some competition from the critters.  This is fine - there are plenty (PLENTY) to share.  I harvested 6 1/2 pounds this afternoon without breaking a sweat (1 pound went to the chickens due to large critter bites.  Usually I leave the bitten ones on the tree for the critters to finish off - but sometimes I can't tell until later which ones were chewed on).

Butterfly and Beetles sharing a tasty fig.  The butterflies are all over the tree - which I didn't expect.  Usually it's just friendly wasps (never been stung - not once) and Beetles.

I didn't notice this bird nest until I crawled inside the tree to do some harvesting. 

Multiple varieties of beetles this year...................

Variety 1

Variety #2

.... and my personal favorite because he stayed on the fig when I picked it, let me see him up close, and he posed like a super-model on a photo shoot (BBB MAGAZINE - Big Beautiful Beetle).

5 1/2 pounds of moist delicious figs - Life is Good


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