Usually Scraggles and Max hang out together, but today Bo was more convenient and just as warm.
I've set up a contest for all of you loyal readers! It's super easy to do. Check out the Contest Entry under the Guestbook for details and the chance to win some free garden seeds. Hurry, Hurry because the contest ends at 11:59 PM on Saturday, November 13th.
I love stories...
I have bookshelves full of books. There are boxes full of audio books - both cassette and CD. I like to read to myself and to others. I also like to be read to. I frequent used book stores for both paperback and audio books but even used books can become expensive. I even bought a Kindle not too long ago because I don't have much more room left for more books - and besides there are free books I can download. On my BlackBerry I have the Kobo application - more free stories to read. So it's not surprising that I find the library a wonderful tool for both the written and spoken word. They have a much better selection than I can find used, or free online. But have you ever forgotten to return a library book, audio book or video to the library? Wow those fines are steep!
Technology to the rescue... Depending on what system your library uses, you might have either of these on your screen or something different.
But chances are that you have the option to borrow and download PDF books, audio books and even movies right from the comfort of your home, in your pajamas and bunny slippers. There are programs that you must download first in order to utilize these options and once you make your choice(s) (the number of which is limited) you can usually specify if you want to borrow them for 7 or 14 days. After which time the download will expire and you will not be able to access it again without re-checking out the material... but if there's a waiting line, you may be waiting a long, long time until it comes back to you again. Also, not all material that is physically at your library is available in this manner but a lot is available for your selection. So - make your choices wisely - don't download too much because you will never get through it all. And enjoy accessing the library's resources all without worrying about late fees.
Personal note: Cook books are not for me in the electronic version... Just like Coke, I prefer the real thing.
What's the difference between a store bought egg and one raised on the farm, able to eat bugs, grass, run around and chase each other? The taste is identical to me, but it may have been the salt and pepper for all I know. Obviously there was a difference in color, and the size of mine was smaller since these were from the Americuna and not from whatever breed the commercial industry uses. And they fried up faster than the store bought egg. It could have been just the size though.
We decided that the Barred Rock roosters were big enough to slaughter... and louder than we could deal with here in the suburbs. It was time for them to go. We were going to do it on Saturday morning, but I forgot that I needed to take them off feed for 24 hours prior, so it ended up that we would do the deed on Sunday, October 31st... Halloween.
We couldn't let the roosters run around, they find plants and grubs to eat, so we put them into the rabbit cage - it's fairly large and the two fit just fine.
Come Sunday morning I was ready for this. The roosters were crowing an hour before sun up and I knew we had to get to work.
Our wonderful neighbors Jeff and Katie are moving back to Iowa. In their back yard was one of those turkey fryers that run off propane. I thought that the size would work well for this task. Katie told me that it doesn't work and gave it to me. The pot is tall and I thought it would work fine for dipping the roos in hot water to loosen the feathers.
I cleaned out the fryer and filled it full of hot water. The propane fire worked great. I did find that the pot leaks quite a bit so it could no longer be used to cook anything in oil, but for our purposes it would work.
I set up the chopping block on the outside table - an old tree stump from when our tree fell down a few years back. I covered the stump with freezer paper for a more sanitized area. I got out the axe and some gloves. I put a black trash bag into our outside trash can for de-feathering, and a white trash bag into a metal bucket - I filled this trash bag with lots of ice and water, to be able to immediately chill the bird.
Then I went to wake Kevin up. He was already awake, the roosters had woken him 2 hours before - and probably all of our neighbors to boot. He reminded me that I needed a bag for the bleeding, so I grabbed another bag.
I went and got one of the roosters, it turned out to be No Name (the other is Big Jed). No Name is much lighter in weight than Big Jed.
My job was to hold the roosters body while Kevin held the head and chopped. Ok, I could do this. With eyes tightly shut I held on. Chop! The poor thing jumped, flapped, got loose from me. I screamed, "Kevin!" "Grab it!" He told me. And then two quick chops and it was done. Kevin tells me later that the head was off with the first chop, and they always still move afterwards. The other two chops was because the head was still connected to the skin. I choose to believe him.
I could hear the blood squirt out. Eyes still shut, head turned away, I just held on. Kevin chuckles at me. Then takes the rooster. I open my eyes. Blood all over the table. Blood all over me. Blood all over Kevin. I turned away and just stared into the distance. I'd look back every now and again for just a second.
'Where's the trash bag?", he asks me. It had ended up on the ground with all the fuss. Kevin put the bird inside it, upside down to bleed it. He held it closed by the top of the bag and the rooster's feet. It wiggled around still. Finally Kevin tells me that its done.
"I need another trash bag." Kevin says. "What for?" I ask. "To put the head in so you don't have to see it." was his reply.
"You're traumatized aren't you?" Kevin asks me. I just stood there. "Are you okay?"
And then I cry. And I cry. And I cry. He laughs and holds me. Looks at me, tells me I did well. I cry harder. He waits until I stop crying. Then we walk over to the hot water pot. Enough water has leaked out that it's only 3/4 full now. It would have been better if it was deeper, but it worked. Kevin dips the bird in, swishing it a little to get all of it hot and wet. Then puts it over the trash can provided and I watch him take the feathers off. The seem to come off very easily. I don't talk, I just watch. There is blood on his hands.
Once the feathers are mostly off it looks more like a store bought chicken. This I can deal with and I'm able to interact with him again. I get the hose and rinse his hands of some of the feathers. Then he turns the rooster right side up. And the neck is a bloody stump. Suddenly I'm not so OK anymore. I ask him to go chop it off further so that it doesn't look like that. He explains that when he finishes cleaning it, he will be removing the neck.
He's finally finished and I tell him to put it into the ice water to chill it's body temperature. The ice water bucket isn't as deep as the hot water pot, and it's not as easily submerged. I grab it's feet and push it down in, folding it's legs to get them all the way in. And then I realize that I'm continuing to assist and a shudder runs through me. The legs keep popping out and I have nothing heavy with which to keep it underwater, so I pull up the handle of the bucket and put it's feet under the handle. This works and he stays submerged. We won't be eating the feet, and the legs are fully under.
It's time to get Big Jed. Kevin again tells me he's proud of me and says I'm not a virgin any longer. Now I'm a real farmer. I cry again and he holds me some more. I have him go clean off the table which he hoses down. I couldn't have done it. He tells me that he can do Big Jed differently, he can break his neck and wait until he stops squirming and then chop his head off. For this I didn't need to be there, he could handle it on his own. I take the out.
In the garage I take off all my clothes and I notice how much blood was on my shirt. I hadn't looked down before then to assess the damage, I just noticed my hands and the sleeves of my shirt. Then I head off for a very long, very hot shower where I washed myself from head to toe over and over again.
I'm nauseous. I suck at being a farmer.
One major difference I found with our birds compared to store bought - they were really hard to cut up. I could really use a cleaver, which I don't have. Kevin's guess is it's because their bones had a chance to grow and mature. Store bought chickens are given growth hormones and forced to grow fast so that they can be butchered as quickly as possible. The chicken you buy at the market may be as young as 21 days old. The bones are still soft as they haven't had time to form. Our chickens are now 22 weeks old (5 1/2 months old) Here's a PDF file that explains the Broiler Chicken Life Line in a commercial industry.
I may have to become a vegetarian...
Day 1 of the slaughter - had difficulty eating anything. I mostly drank tea, both hot and iced, and had a little chocolate and part of a rice crispy square. (not a nutritional high point). It was difficult for me to cook the chicken but I did it. I then made some of the meat into pies - like Shepard's Pie but with chicken, and stuck them into the fridge for tomorrow's dinner.
Finally I broke down and ate some pot-stickers (chicken) because I was feeling faint from not eating. But only a few. I've been eating carbs - bread and cheese can get me far in life. And of course lots of salad at night for dinner. It's now been 8 days (Sunday to Sunday) and I'm still shying away from meat. Next week may find me cooking a lot of beans.
The left-over chicken (roo's) I put into the blender with a jar of salsa - then fried them in butter with freshly ground pepper and onion powder.
Halloween Party at the Swallow's in San Juan Capistrano - Saturday Night
Kevin and I went with Todd & Donna Mason to the Swallow's for a Halloween party Saturday night. We had lots of fun! We danced, drank and won 3rd place in the costume contest! Todd & Donna won 1st place! And they looked awesome! Pictures are below.
Friends & Family & Life
Above is Halloween, below is a Mandala I went to see with Kathy.
I also met with my sister Jenny and two of her friends Tuesday morning at the local IHOP. I look half asleep, but it was just after 9:00 am and I have learned to sleep in until then since I've retired.
Then the same night I went to Tannins in San Juan Capistrano for drinks with a wonderful group of ladies... Donna, Kathy, Chris and Whitney.
Maybe I can learn to like not working after all... But then again I stayed up until midnight Wednesday night browsing the job boards. I came across one that I applied for. It's at a local elementary school working as a teacher's aid for 3 hours a day. That's about the amount of time I would want to volunteer, so why not get paid to do it. Since I have ZERO teaching credentials I'm not sure that I would get it, but it's worth a shot. It just sounded so cute!
All Saint's Day - November 1, 2010
I went with Kathy to Laguna Beach on Monday to the Neighborhood Congregational Church to see the Mandalas being created by Buddhist Monks See the article in the OC Register. The picture to the left is from the announcement which was from last week. I have a slide show of the pictures I took today. The detail is amazing, as is their concentration. It was a joy to watch the Monks work, and very peaceful. Just move your cursor over the picture and you will get the option to play the slide show. Below that is a video I took so you can see them work.
The video isn't blurry - honest
Gardening can be so fun!
Oh, we're supposed to be looking at what he's holding...
There we go - this is supposed to be our focus. :-)
Did you vote???
I voted for Meg Whitman for governor for California. I'm very disappointed that she lost and to Jerry Brown of all people!
My friend Donna posted this on Facebook and I thought it was cute enough to steal and share with you here... Thought for the day regarding this mess we are in now (re-electing the two B's) One can only think of this: "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." Proverbs 26:11
I also voted for Prop 19 - to legalize marijuana. How can any plant be illegal? I think it's ridiculous... and I hope that it's on the ballot next time around because I would vote for it then too. Do I use it? No, but that's not the point. I don't think it's any different than alcohol as far as impairment goes. And I don't like that people are in jail (wasting MY hard earned money - yours too by the way) because of what they choose to do to themselves. Okay, I'll get off my soap box. :-)
Here are two pictures from when I went to Johnson CAT in Riverside to see Meg.
Wednesday was a warm day, around 90° here at home. I was in the backyard watering the garden and the breeze began to blow. Ahhhh the smell of fresh guava's on the tree came wafting past my nose. Our guava tree is in the front yard and is full. As the guavas go from green to yellow to pink the scent becomes stronger. Guava has to be one of my favorite scents. Another is lilacs, roses and oh, oh, oh Puppy Breath!
Three are plant based and one is a dog... strange? Maybe, but any chance I get I snuggle puppies and smell their breath. I came across someone once who thought Puppy Breath was disgusting. I snuggled even closer and breathed even deeper. I wish you could bottle that smell.
What about you? What are your favorite scents? What makes you go "Ahhhhh"? Comment in the Guestbook and let me know.
Ways to Save the Planet (or at least your small portion of it)
In what ways are you working to save the planet? It could be as simple as harvesting your own apples to make pies - less to buy at the store. Less pesticides that need to be sprayed, less gasoline spent hauling the apples... whatever. The idea is less of a carbon footprint.
Here are my ideas...
Solar panels to cut electricity. This is our biggie so far. We have 20 panels and the cost after rebates and tax credits is around $16,000. In the summer it gets really hot here in what I call Hellsinore. 116°F isn't uncommon and the AC comes on around 9:00 AM some days, even when the temperature gauge is set at 85°. When the AC was on, we still used some electricity during the day, but not much. When it was shut off the electric meter actually ran backwards. Our latest bill was for $38.00 - I think it was still too much, but we did have some very hot days. If I forget to post the amount of the next bill in about a month, someone remind me. We will recoup the cost of that investment in 8 years.
Growing some or all of your own food. This is our second biggest impact. I don't consider myself to be doing too well with this one just yet.
Replacing windows and doors - this is on on our To Do idList, but we have to recover some of the cost of the solar panels first - basically we're low on funds!
Replacing old Air Conditioning, Heating units - another thing we will get to, but after we recover from the windows. So this is probably 2 years out.
Wearing "weather appropriate clothing" and not using the Air Conditioning or Heating units. I can bundle up warmer, but I can only take so much off, so this one is hard for me. I do better with it in the winter time. One great way to be able to achieve this is to wear a hat indoors. It helps to keep the heat inside.
Use Solar water heaters, we could have had this put in when we did the solar panels, but again cost is a consideration. We found that it wasn't in the budget at that time.
Use Solar Cookers some or all the time. Free plans are all over the net (http://solarcooking.org/plans/). The Parvati Solar Cooker gives complete step by step directions on how to make their cooker, but you can also send away for full size plans for $8.00. (I'm not even able to draw stick figures) This is a project I really want to try. There is also an article on eHow http://www.ehow.com/how_2083_make-solar-oven.html with instructions that seem simple and it uses two boxes one inside each other. I wouldn't have to draw. I even found a small black covered pot (aluminum maybe?) at a Goodwill store for $4 that I bought about a year ago just for this project. I'm slow, but the ideas are still churning.
Walk or Bike to local places instead of driving. Saves on gasoline, wear & tear and helps you become more healthy. I have to admit, I'm lazy. But I have been looking at getting an electric bike. Now that does sound hypocritical since I'm saying we should be careful with the amount we use, but realistically I know I would drive instead. So the electric bike is the better of the two evils. The bike I've been looking at is on the Wallmart website - it's an internet only deal, but can be shipped to your local store. It's called an iZip Tricruiser 24" Unisex Electric Bike it costs $998.54. It goes 15 mph / 30-35 miles per charge. Another option is the Cabbike 3 Electric Tricycle (Santa, please?? - picture is below that I stole off their website... ).
Compost - We have a small bucket with a lid that sits on the back of the sink. It's about the size of a child's beach pail. I had supported one of my friend Suemy's kids at for a school fund raiser and mini pizzas came in the bucket. This was years ago, but I still use that bucket! (Hi Kassandra and Jasmin!) Anyway, anytime I'm chopping onions, the peel, crown and root go into the pail. Banana peels go in, my used tea bags and the cover them come in goes in too. Once it gets full it goes out to one of the large compost bins outside that also gets hay, straw and manure from the rabbits, ducks and chickens.
Here are some websites that will help give you more ideas:
Low step-through frame: makes it easy to get on and off the 24" iZip unisex electric bike
To ensure maximum range and battery life, please refer to the manufacturer's documents for instructions on proper care of batteries.
Cabbike 3 $979 free shipping
Cabbike 3 Electric Tricycle
Latest model - July, 2010 model
Battery included. Other electric tricycles DO NOT include the battery.
Lithium-ion battery, NOT Lead-acid - Lithium-ion gives you 30 mile range per charge! Plug into your indoor wall power outlet to recharge: EASY! 36V 10aH lithium-ion battery.
Battery can be removed from the bike easily, so you can recharge it in the comfort of your own home. The battery is locked into the bike, so it is secure. You can unlock it using the key (included).
15 mph speed!
300 lbs weight limit!
100% Steel frame - sturdy and high quality
Front and back baskets to carry items
-Riding to work
-Save on car expenses
-Save on Gas cost
-Impressing your friends
-Exercising without breaking a sweat
Key for turning on/off the electric tricycle
Battery is bolted onto the electric tricycle
Power indicator (indicates how much power is left in the battery)
Grip accelerator on handle bar to accelerate the tricycle
Forward and back brakes
Adjustable seat height
Adjustable front middle bar height
The Farmer's Market
Saturday I went to Temecula to the Farmer's Market. I spent $120 - Which is ridiculous!!! How much do you spend at the grocery store? How many of you scrub off the pesticides? How much residual is left that you ingest?
This is why I'm trying to grow my own food. I don't want to poison myself or Kevin. I don't want to spend so much money on things I can do for myself... I'm not happy with my garden right now, but I plan to get to the point where I am.
I picked up some green beans - Kathy you said these are great, now what do I do with them? And... I got some new worms! See the white cup with the dark dirt? There are worms in there!!! Check out these pictures...
I bought some organic garlic at the farmer's market to plant - I'll leave you with video instructions... happy planting. *especially if you win the contest!