August 31, 2012 – Trying out “Ranger” Chickens

We’re trying out a new (for us) breed of broiler chickens. Called “red rangers” or “freedom rangers” they grow a bit slower than the super hybrid chickens used in confinement (8 weeks to a 4 lb chicken) and faster than the standard breeds (14 weeks for white rocks or barred rocks).

These guys looks good so far and are supposed to be good foragers as well, wo they maybe a better match for the chicken tractors if they do a great job of foraging.

August 25, 2012 – A Day for Cooking, Canning, and Freezing

We had a good portion of the day for yummy food.

We canned two batches of tomatoes (7 quarts and 11 pints), one batch of dilly beans (8 pints), aabout a dozen bags of frozen beans, and a couple of apple pies from scratch.  After a two-week break from the stifling heat, the beans have decided to live again and are starting to do their thing.

August 24, 2012 – Martin’s Adirondack Chair

I was sucked into Menards for the $25 wooden Adirondack chairs. When I got there I found they were unassembled and unfinished. I thought it might be a good project for Martin and I to build.

But turns out that he was more than able to throw on the outdoor poly, sand between coats, and assemble the chairs.

This will be his birthday present to his oldest sister as she moves off campus into a house this fall – perfect indoor/outdoor furniture for a college student.

August 15, 2012 – Hazelnut Harvest

Like many things, hazel harvest seems a bit early this year.

basket of hazelnuts

Here’s the yield from about a 15 foot row of hazelnuts.

hazelnuts

Some of them are completely dried down, others have a bit more time to go, but with the recent spotting of a new squirrel in the yard, it was time to pick (the squirrel can have all the acorns and walnuts).

boy picking hazelnuts

Martin picking the low-hangers.

Linda looking at the higher nuts.

August 14, 2012 – Prez Stops by the Neighborhood

Barack was in the neighborhood today.  I was at work, so missed all the excitement.  He stopped at the wind farm just a few miles south of our farm.

Actually, I was a bit disappointed he didn’t stop in and check out our turbine!

One of the most short-sighted and non-sensical comments on the campaign is Romney’s assertion that he would “allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits.”  Of course, the 100 years of tax credits and subsidies for gas and oil are not on the table as Romney’s desire for a “level playing field” on energy policy does not extend to oil and gas, where he has pledged to retain up to 40 billion of subsidies and tax breaks.

40 billion for gas and oil.

0 for wind.

I wonder what he means by “level playing field?”

The only logical explanation that makes that position true is that nobody on his campaign has told him that wind turbines are a source of energy.

August 12, 2012 – Pre-dawn Visitor/Preacher Linda on the Road Again

The day started early.

Before sunrise, sometime around o’dark thirty, we awoke to the sound of a car in need of exhaust work revving its engine, dying and starting up again. Then we heard the loud stream-of-consciousness yelling.
“Oh No!”
Silence
“Shit.”
More silence
“That’s not good.”
More engine revving.
“Now I’m in trouble.”
Silence again.
“Dammit”
“Oh, now what do I do?”
I looked out he window and saw the guy who delivers the Sunday paper with his car teetered between the steep ditch and road. I looked at Linda and knew it was a job for me. “You stay in bed, I’ll handle this one.” Better to have someone able to call 911 when the crazy guy who almost rolled his car in the ditch go ballistic on me.

I went out to survey the situation and knew what would need to happen. It was nothing a chain and tractor couldn’t handle. I went out and greeted him.

“Glad I didn’t wake you up.” He said.
“I was just getting up to empty the bladder, you didn’t wake me up.” “Looks like we’ll need the tractor and chain,” I said, and started walking back to the shed.

All the way back to the shed and until the roar of the tractor starting in the dark shed, I heard him stand on the road and tell the details of his predicament and how it came to be. I’m sure Linda and the neighbors down the road heard every word.

It’s always a bit dicey getting a car out of the ditch with a chain and avoiding a roll, but he was more than willing to take the chance. The front a back lights on the tractor were a nice bonus as morning’s first light found us. I got him pulled out and told him to stop and help someone else further down the road sometime.

Then it was off to Ames, where Linda was the guest minister at the Unitarian Fellowship of Ames. Last week she did the same thing in Des Moines.

As usual, her message was well-received, even gathering a rather rare immediate applause upon conclusion.

August 11, 2012 – ‘Maters Ready to Can

Today was the first flush of tomatoes in bulk.

I’ve kept them watered and they have rewarded us.  This is only the beginning. Let the tomato processing begin!

boil tomatoes

First step is to drop them in boiling water.  I use this propane turkey burner.  They are cheap after Thanksgiving and make it possible to keep the mess and heat out of the kitchen.  Leave them in there until the skins begin to crack.

tomatoes in ice water

Then put them in cold water until you can cut out the core and slip off the peels.  Usually we’ll put them in cans and process them, but we didn’t have enough time today, so we just threw them in bags and froze them until we have time to can them.

Here’s the yield from the baskets in the first photo – 10 gallon bags.

August 10, 2012 – Emma’s Running Pals

Emma hosted her Cross-Country team to a sleepover.

Here’s part of the team, some couldn’t make it and others arrived after dark.

One of the beauties of living in the country is the outrageous bonfires that happen fairly regularly.

It was a good week for Emma – last Saturday was particularly eventful – she finished 2nd at a 5k run and later in the afternoon made her first rescue at the pool – an 8-yr old boy went off the slide into the deep end of the pool and couldn’t swim.  Emma fished him out to earn her keep for the summer!

August 6, 2012 – Reconfiguring Back Pasture

With the four–leggeds gone, it’s finally time to reconfigure the back pasture and take out the temporary paddock fences to make it easier to make hay.

I also need the fencing to make a place for the chickens and turkeys to roam. So today Martin and I worked on associated tasks – pulling out the fenceposts, dragging the cattle panels, cutting mulberries out of fencelines, and mowing areas for the chicken tractors to go. It was nice to work with Martin in the nice cool evening with the wind turbines in the distance.