I'm finally updating the site after a three week absence. There were things going on, but not enough for an update - now I have news!
My two beautiful sons had their birthdays since I last wrote. They are two years apart, yet have the same birthday - August 28th. Jason turned 26 years old; he is a husband and a father and serves in the U.S. Navy. Brandon turned 24 years old; he too is a husband and became a father on September 2nd to a boy named Luke Gregory. He also serves in the U.S. Navy. They are so similar and yet so different. They are both so incredibly special to me. I love you boys, more than you can know.
As Time Goes By...
Summer marches on and Autumn is almost upon us, the heat has just begun to wane. The plants in the garden have withered, but new ones recently planted are coming up. This is the flower bed that was planted about 3 weeks ago. Kevin used PVC pipe to mark the square feet for me and also as a watering system.
Duck pen in the garage.
How to keep a cock from crowing? You don't. So what to do when they decide to start crowing at 6:30 AM? You either butcher them or... You put them into an insulated box. I have a bench type storage box in the back yard. We got Styrofoam insulation panels from Home Depot and Kevin cut them to fit the sides and top. Each night he's been putting the noisy roosters in so that they don't wake the neighborhood each morning. At first it was just two of them... the Barred Rock that he named Big Jed and the Mille Fleur he named Little Shit. I know, don't name them. It's been working fine, but then the other Barred Rock rooster started crowing too - so now there are 3 of them in the box at night. One more to go and we'll have them all. I don't let them out until 9:00 am each day.
Then there are the ducks. Buster, the male is quiet. When he quacks it's barely noticeable. But when Buddy the female quacks you can hear it from the back yard to the front and across the street too. She's a loud mouth! I did buy a metal exercise yard and I'll be putting the ducks into the garage at night. They too won't be allowed out until 9 am.
So what's a permanent solution? For the ducks I don't know yet. Maybe the garage set up will be fine. As for the roosters, I bought an axe and gave it to Kevin on Wednesday. He has a job to do. Am I anxious to kill the roos? No. But it's time. And it has to be done soon anyway.
What's for dinner?
One of the roos - the one that doesn't crow, (of course) had a bum leg. We aren't sure what happened to him, but he finally was to the point where he couldn't get around to eat or drink on his own. We decided on Friday the 10th that he would be the first to go.
Saturday morning Kevin woke me up and said he needed my help. I could hold or chop. After some protesting I got up out of bed to help. I'm happy to say that he was just testing me to see if I would actually participate. The deed was already done. But the innards still had to be taken out and I got to read the book and tell him 'next steps'. At one point he did need me to help and hold. (ick!) I had to turn my head away, I just didn't want to see and besides, it wasn't a pleasant smell - not horrible, but ewww. He did have trouble getting the innards out so I explained how to cut through the breast bone (as you would with any chicken from the store when you are cutting it up to cook) and that made his job much easier.
Don't start to butcher a chicken (or any animal) without a super sharp knife. (Which of course we didn't have.) After some hacking and sawing with a kitchen knife I suggested a razor blade. Tada! So much easier and faster. I didn't have to hold any longer after that. Exacto knife next time...
Then the thing sits in ice water for 3 hours to chill.
Kevin said that the roo stayed very still for him, it didn't squawk or anything, and there was very, very little blood. Also that the feathers came off easily. He was ok with it all, but then while in the shower told me that the adrenaline rush was over and he was exhausted. So off to bed for a nap.
Taking a life, any life, isn't easy. But it was done with respect and dignity for the animal, and it won't go to waste - it will be cooked and eaten tonight for dinner.
Thank you Kevin for not having me hold it while you chopped.
Disappointment on the Farm
After I had been scratched pretty badly by George, I hadn't picked her up - and I didn't usually pick her up anyway because she's not nice. Our friend Don was telling us that male rabbits are 'obviously' male, so since we still don't have baby rabbits, I decided to take a look. Rex first and yep, he's obviously male. So then when I got a chance to get close to George I picked her up and looked. She's a "HE". We won't be having babies anytime soon with them. So they are still good for the fertilizer that they provide which is like gold to the gardens.
We also lost one of our hens today - 9/12. She had been protecting the roo with the bad leg and wouldn't leave his side. We put them both in a pen together yesterday and provided food and water. Both were eating and drinking fine once it was in front of them. Yesterday the roo was butchered and today the hen wouldn't come out of the chicken coop. We took her out - she was able to walk, but refused water, feed and fruit. She just sat down and closed her eyes. Eventually Kevin moved her back into the chicken run and she just laid down and died. We're not sure why so we decided not to eat her. The roo that was going to be dinner tonight we decided to put into the freezer. I want to watch the other chickens until at least next weekend. If all are still fine then I'll assume that the roo is fine. If any more chickens die, then we won't eat him just to be on the safe side. She was much lighter than the other hen of her type (Barred Rock), could she have been sick? Or did she just decide not to live any longer because her friend was gone? We may never know.
New family member?
The bottle is bigger than the kitten.
The sound of kittens from the house behind ours has been filling the air lately, then a couple days ago I heard a kitten from the house beside ours. Over the fence I looked and there was a tiny kitten on the patio barely walking yet and no mama cat around. No humans either. Then on Wednesday 9/8, I came home from doing errands and there was the kitten at the same house but on the front patio. Again no mama cat, no humans. I knocked on the door and asked if it was theirs. It was. A few minutes later the little girl from next door brings it over and said they can't keep it and their dad said to bring it to me. (Punishment for the roosters crowing and the female duck quacking non-stop?) The thing barely has it's eyes opened, and they were feeding it milk with a medicine dropper.
Off to the pet store I go, no they won't take it and the local animal shelter has an outbreak of feline leukemia so I can't take it there either. I'm stuck with this kitten (unless some kind reader wants to take it from me???). I bought a kitten baby bottle and a nutritional paste to feed it. The lady at the pet store recommended goat milk instead of the kitten milk I was going to get because it's less expensive. She verified that it's a male and as she had just finished fostering a kitten too guesses that this one is less than 2 weeks. The one she had was 2 weeks old and bigger than mine.
Did you know that baby kittens don't go to the bathroom unless their mom licks their genitals and stimulates them to go? I didn't. The lady at the pet store told me I would need to take care of that. When I mentioned it to Kevin, I found that he knew that already. So a warm, wet washcloth works and it turns out that Max licking the kitten's bottom area works too. Sounds gross doesn't it.
The kitten hasn't quite figured out the bottle yet - I guess it was ruined by the dropper. Sometimes he'll get it, other times - not so much. So I squeeze it gently to convince him that there is milk and to drink. After he stops panicking he'll drink.
He's a scraggly looking thing. Especially after Max gets hold of him and licks him to near death. But when he's dried and brushed out, he still looks scraggly. Scraggles is what I've been calling him. Still not sure if we'll keep him.
When we first got the kitten.
Max and Scraggles
Healthier, Happier - still a long way to go...
Today he started to pee and poo on his own without anyone stimulating him to go - yeah! I was worried about him . He had't poo'd until today, and now his stomach isn't quite so tight. And then afterwards he started to play for the first time. I'm sure he feels MUCH better. He may survive yet.
Did you know that PVC pipes are Tinker Toys for grown ups? Kevin discovered the joys of PVC lately and has been putting in an elaborate sprinkler system for each of the raised beds. He's having such a fun time. Not only is the grid pattern in square feet, there are holes drilled in for watering. It's kind of hard to see, but laying on the top of the bricks is another pipe system - it connects to the bottom by a small bendable hose. All of these are connected and have their own on/off switch. He's a genius. Now to find more 1/32 sized drill bits so that he can finish - they break easily.
I finally got the trailer registration complete. Kevin took the day off and drove it down to the DMV for me. Now, to get the license plate put on.
My wonderful friend Steve came by and changed out the electrical cord cap for me. The end it had didn't fit into the generator. I thought that 220 was 220 - it should all fit. Nope, not quite. But it was a quick 10 minute change out. Thank you Steve!
I also had The Screen Dr. (Kirby) come out and make a pass through screen for me. This allows me to open the screen to pass out food and close it again to keep out flying insects. It was $79 plus tax. Kirby is a very friendly man and did a great job. I highly recommend him if you need screens at your place.
Mimosa Pudica - the sensitive plant
When we were in Costa Rica we were introduced to a plant they called Mimosa. You touch it (or a bug does) and it closes it's leaves. It grows as a weed there. Kevin and I later found some in a field and I believe we were there for an hour just playing with them. He loved them the most. Back home I had found some seeds and planted them, but as they were inside I forgot to water them and they died. Lately I came across more seeds and bought them. I planted them outside this time, in the holes of the bricks - and they are growing. I didn't tell him that I planted them until they were already growing. Then I showed him - it was my little gift to him.
Fuji apples on the tree.
A slight blush is upon the apples in the tree. The branches touch the ground as they are so heavy with fruit. We've tasted a few that have already fallen to the ground. They are sweet-tart and very crisp. Any that were bruised from the fall go to the animals who devour them. Soon I'll harvest and perhaps make a pie. That sounds really good.
The guavas are still small and I can hardly believe how many are on the tree. Other than juice, I've never really had them - Anyone know of good recipes for guavas?
Then there are the pomegranates... Wikipedia says that they are in season from September to February - so I guess they are about ready. My friend Elva has already put in a request for some. I love them too, but they are so messy. When I was a kid, I would take one into the bath with me and eat it there because it was easier to clean up the juice - and I didn't get my clothes stained.
So heavy with fruit that the branch touches the ground.
Has anyone ever written an autobiography? I just did. My sister Jenny is working on a "heritage album" - I'm not sure what that is, but she requested that we each write an autobiography to add to it. I didn't write everything - just highlights. It's a strange feeling to share with someone, in writing no less, what you remember of your life. I remember my mom telling me never to put anything in writing. Don't keep diaries, don't write intimate details in letters, etc. Yet here I was spilling out my soul. It's an odd feeling.
When I had the palm tree taken out I asked the guy if he had any mulch in the future if I could have it. Since it costs him to dump it, he said no problem. I hadn't heard from him since then, but saw him the other day as I was driving through the neighborhood. I stopped and reminded him that I was interested. Yesterday he showed up with a truck load of mulch for us. I had him dump it on a tarp I placed on the driveway. It overflowed the tarp quite a bit.
Since he was over I asked how much it costs for him to dump each time. $30.00 was his answer. $30?! And there are so many people I'm sure who would take this stuff (besides myself). I'm sure that he could charge and make money off of it.
I did tell our friends Don & Pat about this - they want some too. I got a couple business cards from him so that I can pass them out. If you live near Lake Elsinore and want some, let me know... I'll give you his number.
The pieces are kind of big for us, so we are going to run it through our chipper to get smaller pieces. Then this is going on the ground in the back yard. It will decompose and become part of the soil structure - and help to make wonderful dirt.
He also said that he'll have more tomorrow or Monday and asked if he could give us that too - I said of course! So now we have lots to keep us busy this weekend.
Saturday Morning Breakfast
For all the bitching I do about living in Lake Elsinore (Lake Helsinore), there are things I really do enjoy. Each day cars drive slowly through my neighborhood honking a bicycle type horn. They are announcing to the neighborhood that they have wares to sell. Usually hot corn on the cob. They slather mayonnaise on it, then sprinkle chili powder and Parmesan cheese. It my sound disgusting to those not used to it, but it actually tastes very good. You can also get it plain, with salt, etc. Some of these 'vendors' also sell these pin wheel type chips or Horchata which is a cinnamon rice drink that is popular among the Hispanics. All of these items are home made. Corn costs $1.50 each, the pin wheels cost $1.00. And then there is Saturday morning... There is a family that sells tamales. They saw us out front working a few weeks ago and asked if we wanted to buy some and we did. Today they knocked on the door and asked. Tamales in a corn wrap cost $1.00 and those in banana leaves cost $1.50 - not bad. I did ask the girl who came to the door if I would see her next Saturday too. I can hardly wait.
This reminds me of when I used to live in Kastl, Germany. It was a tiny town with just 3 streets - terraced on a hillside. We lived at the top. There was a coffee truck that came by a couple mornings a week, the bread and beer trucks came by about three times a week and the BoFrost truck came by once a month - they had frozen food. I thought it was wonderful and often consider if that type of thing would work here. But then we have grocery stores just down the street and there was only a little market opened for about 3 hours a day in our town - and they didn't carry much.
The market did have brochen - the most wonderful bread rolls I'd ever had. I loved them and couldn't get enough. That is just one of a million things I truly miss about Germany. I did find a place that makes them here in Southern California - it's Old World in Huntington Beach. There is a market, German Restaurant, and other German shops. Now through October 31st, Wednesdays thru Sundays it is Oktoberfest with Kinderfest & Dachshund races every Sunday. It's a wonderful place to visit - I highly recommend it!
Euro Market 7561 Center Ave. #49a Huntington Beach, CA 92647 ph: 714.897.1470
Brochen(German Hard Rolls)
1 pkg. yeast 1 1/4 c. lukewarm water 2 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. salt 2 tbsp. shortening 1 egg white, stiffly beaten 4 c. flour
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. In mixing bowl combine yeast, 1 cup water, salt and shortening. Fold in stiffly beaten egg white. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Let dough rise twice until doubled, punch down and let rise again. Punch down and divide in 10-12 pieces. Form into slightly flattened balls and place on greased baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and bake 20 minutes. To ensure a hard crust, place pan with boiling water in bottom of oven during baking. Serve warm with jam, or cold.
Until next time - may you be happy and healthy and enjoy life to the fullest.