Friday, November 28, 2008

A Happy Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal yesterday. It was a nice, but cool day, so we also got to enjoy some time outside.

The blessing of food included our roast duck (yes, our own ducks that we butchered), mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, cream gravy, dressing (or stuffing), green beans, macaroni & cheese (at my daughter's request), hot rolls, jellied cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and dump cake. We were stuffed :)

Hope all of you had a blessed holiday as well, with much to be thankful for.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mouse, Mice, Meese?

Our "south porch" is an glassed-in porch which used to be just a screened porch when I was growing up. Primarily it is a buffer between the cold outside, and the living room inside; and mainly we use it for storing tools, the chest freezer, dirty boots, odds and ends, and the livestock and pet feed.

Since we store livestock feed there, including grain for the chickens, the not-so-tight porch attracts a variety of varmints who want the feed. We used to keep a cat out there to help discourage that, but got tired of the havoc a cat can also cause on an enclosed porch.

With cooler weather, we had heard an increase in "critter" noises, so Steven decided to put four mousetraps on the porch, to help catch those stealers of our feed. Snap! Snap! Snap! Snap! - very soon those four traps were full. He "rewarded" the barn cats outside with treats of dead mice. Repeat that scene many times in rapid progression. Steven's traps caught 35 mice by the end of that day! 44 by the end of the next day! And finally, about 54 mice all together before the run stopped. I guess we got them all for now - the traps have been silent for about four days. I was just amazed at the sheer numbers.

* * * * *

Walking back from the corral the other night, Steven suddenly said to me, "Is that chicken all right?"

I said, "what chicken?" (because he was blocking the view of it until we got closer).

Then I saw it and said, "Oh no. That's not normal."

There was a chicken, hanging upside down, from the top of the outhouse. (Remember from an earlier blog that our outhouse is lying on it's side on a trailer, as we work on rebuilding it. So the "top" is currently on its side).

It appeared the chicken had jumped or flown up, probably to get some insect or treat it spied, and somehow caught its toe on one of the nails protruding from the old rafter. That flipped it upside down, and there it hung, thinking it was caught, not fighting it at all. Just hanging there upside down by a toe. At first I thought maybe she was dead, but then she cocked her head to look at us. Steven went over and gently unhooked her foot. She then really came to life, squawking loudly and flailing her wings, as he dropped her to the ground, and she took off at a run, unharmed.

It was quite funny looking, and again I wish I had taken a photo, but I was more concerned with getting her loose at the moment. She couldn't have been there too long, and still had the balance to take off as fast as she did when put back upright.

* * * * *

We had an interesting Tuesday, when I was off work for Veterans Day. But I will have to post about that some other time, when I have photos to go with it. Look in the future for a post called "The Cage Contest" and I'll show you what kept us busy that day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thankful for the Wind (i.e. Wild Ride)

So Steven and I took the old '69 GMC pickup we use as a farm truck over to the Carp's to pick up a load of straw. I only loaded 14 bales, as I didn't want to stack it too high in the heavy NW wind for the drive home.

Driving north down the county blacktop about 10 miles from home on the trip back, the steering wheel of the truck suddenly came totally off in my hands. (I know - you usually only see things like that in Indiana Jones movies)LOL. I had no ability to steer whatsoever. I had been going slowly, so I just gradually braked firmly, and the NW wind pushed the truck gently off the road, into the grassy ditch and partially up into a newly planted wheat field. I was blessed that this was an area of road that, even though there are no shoulders, the ditches are gentle, and it is Kansas flatland. There was no damage at all to the truck, and the hay load rode fine.

The whole experience was actually quite hilarious. I had noticed there was much more "play" in the steering wheel than before, but I wrote off part of it to "just being an old truck" and thought I'd check it out more when we got home. But we didn't make it home before the nut holding the steering wheel to the shaft vibrated itself clear off, and I was left holding the wheel with a moving truck.

Many vehicles went by, but none offered assistance - and I imagine we just looked like we were an old farmer's truck "supposed" to be in that field. Two sheriff deputies who just happened to be passing by did stop to see what the problem was. When I laughingly showed him our now-detached steering wheel, they thought that was also quite funny and unusual. (They were a couple young officers, early 20s, I'd say. Glad to give them some humor for their day). They confessed to not being mechanically inclined or of any assistance, so they went on their way.

Steven and I worked on trying to get the wheel re-attached to the column for over 1/2 an hour before Steven finally got it figured out and back on. However, I had taken the tool box out of the truck to use for something else, so we had no way of fully tightening the nut again. I called a nearby friend, and he brought a wrench to help us get it tight. Then I just started the truck back up, drove down the length of the ditch for a ways to a field inlet, and then got back up on the road and drove home easily. That steering wheel is tighter now that it has been since I bought the truck! Guess I should have checked it earlier.

Sure wish I had thought to take a photo of our dilemma with my camera phone while we were in the ditch (I keep forgetting my phone has a camera on it).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Odds and Ends

We've enjoyed the Indian summer weather recently to use getting many chores caught up.

This weekend, we finally sold the billy goat, Jeffy. We had pushed to sell him before we were going to leave for vacation (so Grandma wouldn't have to deal with him while we were gone, in case he got out), but didn't get him sold. We had given up on that and about decided to keep him (but just keep him away from his daughters) when suddenly we got two calls at about the same time for him! He went to another local family who has a few more does than we do. I think he will serve them well.

Steven is thinking of perhaps looking for a Spanish buck, or a Spanish/Boer cross buck, next time we need a male. Currently our Jeffy had already bred our two adult does, so we don't need a billy for awhile.

We've worked (mostly Steven) on hand-removing all the thistles from the orchard area. This involves cutting down the plants, shoving them into a trash container, and then taking them to the burn barrel and burning them. We may not totally eliminate thistles for next year, but we will make a dent. And if we are diligent and do this several years, hopefully we will organically eradicate them in this way. That, and with the help of the goats...

Many other projects still to do as we ready for winter; digging the Outhouse hole, winterizing the windows and equipment; getting straw hauled in for the barns, etc. It's a never-ending list!