Tuesday, September 9, 2008

July 25th 2008

Its been a busy few weeks here at home! Last Saturday we went to Lehmans and took a friend of Lisa's from work. We started with lunch since we didnt leave till 11:00, then walked around the flea market and managed to score a really nice dutch oven for $30. Then came the Lehman's experience lol. Lisa's friend had ordered from their catalog for a long time but had never been there, so it was the whole "kid in a candy store" time. Of course she managed to find a few things, that was pretty much a gimme.
Our main goal of the visit was to get a pressure canner. We had our eyes on one from their catalog for quite a while, and Lisa's "stimulus" check gave us the means to finally get it. We decided after a lot of talk about bills to spend the money on it, since it was a one time investment that would get a LOT of use. We set out to get a 7 quart (jar count,overall capacity is 10 1/2 qts as a cooker) aluminum canner, but........SURPRISE!!!!!!! All of the aluminum canners were sold out and on backorder, all that was left was a stainless steel model of the same size, and there were only 3 of those left....period. No more in stock, no more in the warehouse, just THREE. I snagged one off the shelf and set it in the cart while Lisa talked to an employee. This woman said that they have sold more canners and canning supplies in the last month than they did ALL of last season. Gotta wonder what that's all about....hmmmmm. So anyway, this one was $120.0o, and the one we came for was $200. We budgeted a $225 limit for this trip to Lehmans (not counting lunch and our MUST stop at shisslers cheese house lol), so we had another $105 to spend openly, like that would be hard to do at Lehmans lol. We got a backstock of lamp wicks, jar rings and lids, 2 books, and some bar laundry soap for Lisa to make homeade detergent with. We didn't spend our alloted amount, so on the way home we made a detour and took the long way home, which was convienently passing a Tractor Supply store, how odd! lol We got a few things there, rabbit waterers and another book, and finally headed for home with a carload of goodies and mouthfulls of good cheese.....
Ah yes, the rabbits. I was thinking about them when we were at Tractor Supply pricing bigger bags of feed than the pet stores carry, I'll just wait, I have a week or 2. Besides, I have to paint the hutches.......WRONG again! lol I get home and check my email. There somewhere in the middle of my 70 odd Freecycle messages was one about the rabbits. "They're ready to go, can you come tomorrow?" AHHHHHHHHH shit shit shit I'm not ready yet! The hutches were complete, they just needed latches on the doors and a coat of paint. The paint had to wait. I got 'em Sunday morning and ended up stopping at a petsmart on the way back since it was close to his house. Holy Hell! 30 ^%#@! bucks later I walk out with bedding, timothy hay, and rabbit feed....there goes my last trip to a pet store for anything but dog food! Good ole feed stores here I come! Anyway.....they've been here almost a week and are doing good. They get fed every morning at 5:30 when I'm having my first cup of coffee, and love fresh greens from the garden. While they arent "pets", I'm trying to get them used to being handled as much as possible. Just because they are breeders for meat doesnt mean they have to be treated as such. I STILL haven't thought of names yet lol but I'm working on it.
One of the books we got at Lehmans was on backyard chickens. We've talked about having just 2 laying hens for a long time, and finally decided to go ahead and do it. We sat down with plenty of coffee and went through the book, picking a coop design and chicked breed possibilities. Of course, as always, I get the design on paper, engineers rule and t-square in hand lol. I love to play engineer sometimes. The next day I responded to yet another freecycle ad, and got a small rabbit hutch which got turned into my chicken coop. Its hard to describe really if you don't know chickens, but its a cross between a coop and a tractor. (portable chicken housing, not a John Deere lol) On Wednsday, I have the thing about 3/4 built and decide on my way back from getting lumber to stop and see my friend Tammie and talk about chickens since she has quite a few. Low and behold, she offers 3 chickens for nothing. I came home and told Lisa, and the chicken coop build went into high gear. I stayed out till dark, and left early on Thursday to get it finished and go get them. So as of yesterday, we are the proud owners of 2 Partridge Rocks and one Americana. They're only a few months old and havent started laying yet, so its going to be fun getting them to that stage in their lives. Lisa named them lilly, daisy, and willow. These girls are our first, and will be with us till their time is up rather than the normal stew pot after they stop laying.
I'm pretty impressed......two major steps for us in 2 weeks,things are going better and better.
The garden is just about in full swing now, pretty much everything but tomatos and peppers are producing like mad. On Tuesday, we picked about a dozen yellow squash, 15 or so cucumbers, around 6 good sized onions, LOTS of turnips and beets, and 3 1/2 five gallon buckets of green beans. Lisa got off work Wednsday at 11am, so when she got home, the canner got its first major workout.......19 quarts of beans, and 10 of pickles. (one of which didnt seal right, so I got to try them...WOW yummy!!!!) The Doyles backberries are producing like crazy too, these things are HUGE! Not seedy at all, and really sweet, awesome berries...hats off to the Doyles people.So far, not enough at once to make jam, so every day we pick what we can and get them into the freezer to make jam later. The other plant we got from the garden center is hanging full of berries too, they just havent ripened yet. But when they do, we'll have plenty for jam...yay again!
Speaking of jams & jellies, the neighbors came over to see my rabbits and told me about grapes on their property that are never used. We walked over, and there are grapes allllllllll over the place along their driveway on the opposite side of the field. These things must be 40-50 feet long and growing 15-20 feet into the trees. They told me that we can have all we want, so every other day I'm over there to see if they're ready. Looks like we better get on finding more jars in a big way.
I gotta head over there tomorrow and get more firewood, 2 more big limbs came off 2 of the old apple trees. One must be 20" in diameter and 20 feet long...cant wait till they all see me doing it with a bucksaw and one man crosscut lol. Cooking on the stove I made with all of this apple wood is just awesome. It brings a whole new flavor to food, especially when I toss in a few handfulls of apple leaves to get a good smoke on whatever is grilling.....mmmmmmm. Maybe next week we'll try canning on it for the first time since that was half of the reason for building it. We won't use the pressure canner out there, but the hot water ones should work just fine....can't wait to give it a run.
Gotta run for now and get in the shower, busy day tomorrow. Up early,feed the animals, go to the shop and get some materials and my check, go to the bank, get door latches, finish clean up, wait for Lisa to get home, then head for the county fair.........anyone remember what a day off actually is? LOL

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