Monday, June 29, 2009

trickle of tomatoes

we have been eating a few tomatoes. tabitha is worried that we will be consumed in blight soon. i just want a few canner loads worth of tomatoes. admittedly our canner is huge but we really really want some tomatoes this winter.

tabitha put-up 15 quarts of pickled beets and still has two thirds of a row to go. those beets are amazing. we have been having a majority of our meals from our little farm. this is our busiest time of year. keeping up with the garden has been trying.

we have slaughtered all but eight of our fifty chickens. the plucker works great. i realize now that i didn't get the plucker fingers pulled all the way seated in the bottom feather plate. some of them are flinging out occasionally. when i replace them i secure each one properly. when they are wet they insert better than trying to do it dry. with the knowledge of hindsight i'd use plate aluminum for the feather plate. the hdpe cutting board material is thick and makes the fingers difficult to attach. i doubt that i'll ever need to build another plucker but if i do..

kassi had a marvelous birthday. much friendship was had and everyone really enjoyed it. there were three cakes. new heights were reached in the kids sugar buzz. it was almost like the entire place vibrated. the hillbilly slip and slide was a hit. there is almost no greater joy than watching kids play in a sprinkler.

kassi and tristan have discovered network warcraft on the computers. free computer time is getting more and more difficult to find. another computer isn't the answer either. that would mean that toly could play too. then rome would be next. crap everyone needs their own computer. what sinister snowballing spiderweb have i stumbled into?

actually, kassi has been spending plenty of time on starfall. she'll be reading soon. toly is in the middle of a language explosion. he still gets frustrated when he can't get his point across. tristan is a full blown teenager at age six, almost seven. he is just so big and has his own strong opinions. rome is toly's minion of naughtiness. they are always getting into mischief.

Friday, June 19, 2009

i had no idea...

the chicken plucker exceeded my every expectation. i thought i knew how cool it was going to be. alas, it is too amazing to describe. even videos of it in action don't do it justice. it has forever changed our idea of butchering chicken.

i put so much effort into building it and making sure that it would last. i was worried that if it didn't work that i'd have to set the thing ablaze;)

the birds came out of the thing "slick" every single little pinfeather and part of the scales from the feet were removed.

i added the water sprayer to the top. that works ok. it looks cool but hardly worth the extra effort.

this is our set up.

the scald pot with propane burner and manual temperature control is on the left. tabitha's thermometer arrived to the event broken and we were worried that we'd have trouble. we have butchered and scalded plenty of chickens and have an idea what a good scald temperature/time is. we mostly just guessed at the proper scald time and temp. everything worked wonderfully.

we were making up little songs about the plucker and how wondrous it is.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

local firefly population in serious jeopardy

the kids have been patrolling the yard each night for fireflies. there is almost nothing more fun than watching little kids scurry around trying to catch fireflies. i believe they have created a no-fly-zone in the immediate yard. the fireflies have obviously pheromonally communicated to each other that if they fly there they will be chased down. they will be caught and imprisoned in the glass cage of doom. all hope for catch and release practices should be abandoned.

kassi is the most adept and has decided that concentrations of fire flies are greater in the upper paddock. i assume there will soon be a bug implemented no-fly-zone there very soon. now if squash bugs were as much fun to catch we'd be in business. although the other night tabitha employed kassi's prowess on the recent onslaught of japanese beetles. we'll be dosing our yard with milky-spore very soon.

i finished my chicken plucker yesterday. well, almost i still need to attach my belt tensioner. finding it might be part of my problem. i also plan to attach a spray system, if needed, after i test it. that will be version 1.3, tensioner will be version 1.2. i must admit it is pretty cool. now if it just works like all the u-tube videos and as well as real life witnesses profess we'll be in business.

i am going to make a chicken plucker post only after i test it. if it sucks we'll never speak of it again...

i lost my paper list of stuff i need to do. i used to be able to have a mental queue. then i started making lists. i like to blame the need for written lists on the magnitude of stuff that i need to do and not my deteriorating brain. now since i'm loosing my lists that rationalization no longer stands. i'd make a digital list but then i'd have to remember to write them down when at the computer. the computer is filled with distractions and that has never really worked for me. i might try writing down stuff to be added to my digital list. but, if is start loosing those little lists then i'm screwed..

Thursday, June 11, 2009


lately i have been poring over my own blog trying to glean and re-purpose captured information. i must admit that the blog really helps to keep things in perspective. we are constantly worried about our garden and if we are doing all that is possible to assure a reasonable harvest. the posts where i took several garden photos and talked about the garden status are especially useful. on that vein i hope not to bore you with tons of garden photos.

having gotten the root cellar to a stable place has afforded me the time to work on the chicken plucker. i bought the whizbang chicken plucker book and am very impressed. eventually i'll do a whole post about the chicken plucker. all i can say so far is that if you are considering building a chicken plucker buy that book. it is very well researched and provides excellent information, illustrations and resources. in this photo it is upside down. i used the pillow block mount to hold the feather plate while i drilled it and cut it into the circle.

i really could have used a drill press to drill all these holes.

this the first coat of paint. pretty blue toly li-likes it.

the garden

the sweet potatoes and melons seem to be surviving the black plastic mulch.

although it might be just one big squash bug incubator, nursery and primary school.

here is a better photo of a cherokee purple primary bloom.

the carrots seem to have survived the cats using their raised beds as a composting toilet.

here they are a couple days later.

the kittens are tearing up the onions. they might not make much.

the third row of beets are crooking and seem to have excellent germination.

here they are a few days later.

this will all be filled in very soon.

i hope..

kassi and toly, yes he loves pink, are considering wrestling past the cow. she can bully right past them if they are not careful.

they love each other so much. it is cute to watch them hold hands and march around the yard.

this is our first sunflower. it must be summer.

the willow tree has grown quite a bit this year.

this is the front row of tomatoes. we are showing slight signs of blight, or some tomato disease.

this is kassi's flower bed.

she started all these flowers from seed.

btw, thank you wendy for the additional edible flower seed.

the hair plugs for root cellars a taking hold nicely.

notice the solar shower box of the roof of the pump house? here is the front view.

rube goldberg would be proud of this shower contraption.

here is a link to when i built this version of it.

just at the top of the hill from where i work this family makes these baskets.

they sell them at silver dollar city for a fortune. this one was nine dollars. the oak waddle was still green. tabitha needed one for her clothes pins.

this is our hot house tomato

i wonder what the taste difference will be?

hello tasty little tomato. i will be eating you soon.

these are the omar's lebanese plants. they are almost to the top of the cattle panel.

these are the later planting of cherokee purple. they are ten or so days behind the rest of them.

their seedlings were also much smaller too.

can you spot the green beans?

the pole beans are almost setting beans.

i am excited about this purple variety.

the tomatillos are vary tasty. we had our first bait of salsa last night. it was fabulous.

hello little cherokee purple tomatoes.

i'll be eating you very soon too.

this is the tangle of amish paste tomatoes

some of them are five feet high.

our squash like it here. so do our squash bugs.

the chickens have settled into their coop nicely.

i finally caught the egg pecking, eating destroying hen red handed the other day. she left this mortal coil too soon to take a ride in my chicken plucker. bad chicken..

cucumber beetles are rampant in our garden. we are buying some beneficial nematodes to help but they might not arrive soon enough.

the hot peppers are setting fruit. i hope we get some in time for pico de gallo. that store bought pepper we ate last night with the tomatillo salsa was merely a waxy version.

tabitha has been spraying surround like crazy.

it is apparent that the bugs don't like it. although there is always new foliage.

the okra seems to be doing nicely.

almost time to harvest the first row of beets.

the girl broilers are looking very tasty.

i'm standing in the barn loft for this shot.

a little to the right

tabitha was trying to look up my kilt.

such loving kids

ok, i can't breathe


that's better.

tristan making a guest appearance. oops, sorry had to remove the photo toly was nekid in the background.
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