Friday, January 15, 2010

Chickens in the Snow

     We all survived the big Virginia snow of December 2009.  Depending where you were in Virginia, you got anywhere from 14"-24".  The biggest snow we've seen since the early 90s.  It was beautiful! 

     The chickens did just fine.  I wasn't sure if they would have to be cooped up or not but once I put down a bit of fresh straw in the runs, all their apprehension disappeared and they came out to play.  They even seemed to enjoy it.  It has been a bit more work to keep their frozen water replaced quite often but I know warmer days are coming and this too, we'll survive.  

A milestone was recently passed in the chicken kingdom.  All five girls layed on the same day. That hasn't happened before. A very exciting day indeed.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Home Canning and Fresh Eggs

Some of the the goodies from the garden have been coming in nicely. I've had squash, cucumber, okra, banana peppers, and tomatoes. I expect the tomatoes to come rolling in over the next couple of weeks and have my empty canning jars ready. I plan to make spaghetti sauce, salsa, and stewed tomatoes. I've already canned squash, and made both sweet and dill pickles using fresh dill from my garden. This was my first attempt at making pickles and I am anxious to see how they taste later on. I've been getting brown eggs just about everyday but no white eggs in awhile. I pickled some eggs for lunches and pulverized all the shells I've been collecting lately. I rinse the egg shells, pulverize them, put them in a jar in the frig and add them to the chickens dish a couple of times a week. They gobble them up when they are mixed with a treat and it's good not only for their digestion but puts needed calcium back in their little bodies. Pictured above are various pictures of "the girls," preparing for canning, and various other pictures of what's been going on around here. I wish I knew how to add my pictures with captions under them and disperse the pictures throughout my text. However, I have not figured out how to do that yet. I welcome any tips on how to do that.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

So Peaceful

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Time Goodies from the Garden

The squash is coming in fast and furious and I have had many requests for my Squash Cornbread recipe. It's a really simple and healthy recipe containing a fresh picked vegetable and delicious, smooth cottage cheese (mmmmm). Let me hear how your family likes it.
<div>Squash Cornbread
2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix
14 ounces small curd cottage cheese
1 stick butter (I use unsalted)
4 cups crookneck squashed, sliced thinly
3 large eggs, whisked
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter.
In large mixing bowl, combine cornbread mix, cottage cheese, milk, and eggs. Mix thoroughly. Pour into 13 x 9 baking dish or distribute evenly among three loaf pans. Pour melted butter over top and bake for 30 minutes or until edge start to turn golden brown.
Variations: add crumbled bacon and/or grated cheddar cheese to the mix.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Coop Sweet Coop #2

Work on Suite Coop #2 is just about finished. It still needs a little trim work where panels meet, but other than that, it's dreamy (for Paddy Cakes and Marty McFly anyway!). The house itself is smaller than Coop #1 because I realized a second coop did not need as much space. The size of the coop is 4 foot by 4 foot by 4 foot. I wanted something that I could reach well (I'm totally claustrophobic!), airy and light. For two little girls, this size is just perfect. We used project 2x3's, T-111 siding and PVC corrugated roofing (Clear View). The roofing turned out to be a most excellent choice as it lets in so much light. I probably would not have chosen this if this coop were not in the shade because the sun shining in the roof most of the day would probably be too much. The run is 6 feet tall, 5 feet wide, and 8 feet long. It is built of pressure treated 2x4's and 1-inch chicken wire. After construction was completed I did some painting and landscaping. I added some Japanese Painted Fern, Vinca, and rocks. I plan to paint the run soon in white to match the house trim (and the other coop) and will add some more shade plants around also. Again, I am really really pleased with the roof of the house. It lets in lots of light and extends the daylight inside for better egg production (I hope). I will supplement that with a light bulb in the dark days of winter just like in the other coop. Paddy, of course, has been laying since September and I expect Marty to begin in September as well. She is still too young to lay and is the youngest in the Blue Moon neighborhood. The new diggs turned out real cute and "there's just one thing left to say. Welcome home family, welcome home." (Ty Pennington could not be here).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fireplace Mural Project

What started out as a blank wall now has become a beautiful and fun focal point in the living room. The artist who designed and created this mural, especially for me, is Beth Whitman. You can see how it started and progressed and a picture of the artist. After she finished the mural I started on my first ever tile project. I am quite pleased and the whole thing turned out even better than I was expecting. Beth you rock! Beth is available to create a beautiful mural for your home too. Just contact for more information.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Love Rain On Me

Only love can make it rain the way the beach is kissed by the sea. Only love can make it rain like the sweat of lovers layin’ in the fields.
Only love can bring the rain that makes you yearn to the sky. Only love can bring the rain that falls like tears from all high.
I can’t sleep and I lay and I think. The night is hot and black as ink. Oh God, I need a drink of cool, cool rain.
Love, reign over me Rain on me, on me

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Biggest Little Snow in Town

You'd have to be a local to understand the title that goes with the first picture. On March 1, 2009, we had the biggest snow we've had in years. We had 10 inches here in the 'burg with some of the surrounding counties getting up to 14 inches. I realize that's not big to North Easterners, but here it is. The anticipation was great - first the weather reports, then the trying not to get too excited because it probably wasn't going to happen anyway. Sunday evening it started sleeting and snowing around 7:00 PM. By 7:45 I was happily planning a walk and bundling up. (I got to wear my new boots!) We started up the street but the sleet was stinging our faces so we turned and walked down the street. After getting splashed by several passing cars, we walked faster. When we got back to the house I felt so energized - my heart rate was up and I could breathe! It was terrific if only for a short time.
Monday morning when I woke, the neighborhood was blanketed in the beautiful fluffy stuff. What a joy it was to see and smell and feel. We shoveled the drive and sidewalk in no time at all. Two glorious snow days home!

Re-use and Recycle

March 9, 2009
After years of off and on recycling, I've made a commitment to be more consistent with my recycling efforts. Re-use has ALWAYS been a priority with me but I've been lack at times with the recycling. Another priority of mine has been to save as much as possible on electricity. I admit, this has been more of a self-centered endeavor as it's been to cut down the cost of my use of electricity. I cringe and am amazed when I go to someones house and it seems every light is on in the house and the TV runs constantly with no one watching. Growing up here in the city, the local schools really promoted recycling and reusing with my sons class, with many of the schools having their own recycling programs and contests. The students were excited and had valuable life long learning experiences. Speaking of re-use, I've discovered reusable shopping totes and have stocked up! My house is running over with plastic bags. I re-use them for a lot of things but not nearly enough to keep up with the constant supply. How sad is it to see these bags stuck in tree and shrubbery flapping in the breeze all the time? It occured to me several months ago to just make my own shopping totes. My son thought that was a lame idea (obviously he doesn't appreciate my sense of creativity or coolness). I nixed that idea as soon as I saw more and more of the reusables popping up at my favorite shopping destinations. What really inspired me was the cute cute cute totes at Walgreens. By the way, JoAnn Fabrics has some awesome reusable green bags and they hold about what three regular sized grocery store plastics hold. I was under the impression you had to actually have the store brand bag in order to use it in a particular store. Not so I found out yesterday as I used my first one in the grocery store. I felt a sense of accomplishment as I picked up my tote and walked back to my car. What normally takes about three bags only took the one. This girl is sold on reusable totes!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wooo hoooo

December 18, 2008
Wooooo hoooo! Finally - second day in a row I got a brown egg. It's definately Paddy Cakes. She is up and running around and not sitting on the nest any longer. I can see the little nubs where her feathers are coming back in. The molt is over!!! Now, if I can just get little Bok Choy off the nest maybe I can start eating some fresh eggs again. I hadn't had any eggs since before Thanksgiving. Now I have 2 pretty little browns in the frig!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Egg Production Way Down

I've gotten no eggs for six days now! I actually had to buy 1/2 dozen eggs at the grocery store! Not only do I have 2 hens that are broody but for some reason, my two Polish Crested aren't laying either. I wonder if it's the cold? I just don't know. I miss the fresh eggs. Update: December 2 - Here is an excellant article I found regarding reduction in egg production.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


November 25, 2008
Paddy Cakes and Bok Choy have both gone broody. I noticed that Paddy was not coming out from behind the feed can where everyone sleeps and lays about three weeks or so ago. Poor little thing, not only is she broody but has gone into an early molt as well. First, she lost the feathers on her head, then neck, then breast. I make Paddy get up twice a day to go outside for some exercise, fresh water, and food. She doesn't stay out of her nest for long and then it's back inside to sit. Now, I've discovered Bok Choy has joined her in the land of Wanna Be Mothers. Bok Choy is less reluctant to get up off the nest, perhaps it's because she hasn't been nesting for as long as Paddy. Yesterday I found a toy in her nest (if you look closely at the picture you can see it sticking out). It's funny what you find in the nest - lots of feathers, scraps of burlap, and straw. I've read that nesting chicks will even pluck their own feathers to add to their nest. I have given them both faux eggs to sit on hoping that will reduce the stress on them. Paddy looks just terrible. Even her little comb looks shriveled and pale. Bok Choy still looks silky and pretty. I'm not sure how long they will stay broody but look forward to the time when they are finished with that phase. (Pictures include Paddy looking quite pitiful with no feathers on her head, and a shriveled up comb. Also, a picture of Bok Choy sitting).

Friday, October 31, 2008

I love Surprises!

The past two weeks have been really difficult for me. What a blessing to come home and find this cute little fellow hanging on my front door knob along with a secret note to cherrychickens! He is made of felt, fabric, and beads. Isn't he just the cutest? It warmed my heart and made me feel so much better. Thanks S, whoever you are.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fresh Eggs and Pumpkins, and Plants Oh My!

It has been awhile since I have written about what's going on at Blue Moon Cottage. I finally received enough eggs in one week to fill up my first package (thanks girls!). I gave the very first package to my next door neighbor. He was pleased to have them and said they were beautiful! Mr. Tucker gives me pretty homegrown squash and tomatoes from his garden and recently a huge pumpkin! I am trying to find the time to glean all the good stuff from inside, make a couple of pies, roast the seeds, and feed the rest to the chickens.
The days and nights have turned chillier and I have been keeping an eye on the chicks. This past week - one of the mornings was particularly cold and I found the two Polish girls hunched over and not moving when I went out at 6:00 a.m. to check on them. I immediately went back in the house to find the infra red heat lamp that I used on their brooder and hung it up in the coop. Ahhhh, they liked that. I don't keep it on constantly, just when it is going to be in the 30s or below.
Today when I went home at lunchtime I discovered that FINALLY someone was using a nesting box! I have this row of three great nesting boxes filled with fresh straw and fake eggs, and have put all the girls in there hoping they would get the idea - but no, they continue to lay behind the feed can where they sleep. Truly was in one of them and scratching around and throwing straw out. It'll be fun to go home this afternoon and find a REAL egg in there. Hey, the egg count is now up to 62!!!! I've been eating a lot of them myself but sharing as well. It's nice how a little package of fresh eggs can put a smile on someone's face. I can name a few faces that could stand that.
I've included a picture here of my Lantana and my Mexican Petunia (although I'm not quite convinced that's the real name). Both of these were picked up in my most favorite of places - Okracoke Island. I have admired the Mexican Petunia's deep purple for 3 years now and always bring home a little sprig to root from the hotel where I stay. None of them have survived. So this year - I dug up two pieces that included root and it has been doing great. Another plant that I see everywhere at OI is Lantana. It's everywhere - planted in huge pots outside of little shops and growing in cottage yards. I found some at the True Value Hardware store in Avon (I think). I was tickled to find that - it reminds me a bit of Candy Tuft except that this is pink with clusters of yellow flowers in the middle. I also saw some orange with a yellow center planted down there. I have taken such special care of these two flowers since I brought them home in July and they have quadrupled in size. Now that it's getting cold, I can't decide what to do with them. I think I'll probably bring the whole pot in and sit it next to the basement door where it will be warmer and get some light. I have to remember to keep it moist though. In the spring I will bring it out for planting in the yard.

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