Food to calm the monkeys in your house.

This pay period is tight.  I mean super tight.  I’m scrapping to have gas to get the kids to school.  I ran out of yummy treats for their lunch bags.  Oh the horror.  So yesterday I got cooking and made some baked goodness for them.  I made banana bread muffins for breakfast, chocolate chip cookies for the desert and Chunky Monkey Granola Bars for their snack.  I’m in love with the Chunky Monkey.  I had it for lunch.  My sister shared the recipe a few years back.  She found it on the internet somewhere, so this is not my recipe.  I just thought on this dreary rainy day I would share it with you.  Enjoy.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter or sunflower seed butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup puffed rice
3/4 cup chopped dried banana chips
3/4 cup cup dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

Instructions

Place an 8-inch by 8-inch square of parchment paper into the bottom of a pan of the same size.

Stir together the oats, puffed rice, walnuts, and banana chunks (break the banana chips up) in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then stir in the brown sugar, honey, and peanut butter. Bring to a boil. Once it’s bubbling hard, let it boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Be careful, it will bubble up when you add the vanilla!

Immediately pour over the dry ingredients and gently but quickly stir it in thoroughly. Turn it onto the parchment lined pan right away and press into the pan evenly. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks or chocolate chips over the pan and let stand, undisturbed, until the chocolate looks shiny, about 5 minutes. When the chocolate looks very shiny it should all be melted and can be spread evenly with a silicone/rubber spatula. Let stand until the chocolate has firmed back up.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen any chocolate that stuck to it, then turn the large block of granola bar onto a cutting board. Flip it chocolate side up and cut into bars of your desired size. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Seriously, no one told me there would be days like this.

It has be one heck of a morning.  I got up as usual to let the birds out and feed them.  There in the turkey run was a large branch.  It had torn down most of the predator netting and had Tom trapped away from his girls.  I got the branch out and freed Tom.  I made plans to fix the netting when I got back from dropping the kids off at school.  Easy Peasy.

So how did I go from easy peasy to a slobbering, crying mess sitting in the turkey run.  Well let me tell you.  Here’s the deal, turkeys are stupid and at the same time smart.  How is this.  Chicken don’t really remember much.  They know I’m the food bringer.  They know I’m nice and that’s about it.  Turkeys, they know I’m the food bringer, they know I’m nice and they like me.  But they remember, not much, but just enough.  They are smart enough to know if there is a hole, they can fly throuhg.  But dumb enough to not figure out what to do after that.  Here is the problem.

I have seven large turkey all flying through holes.  All going in different directions.  I get one hole fixed and they fly throuw another and create another.  At one point all seven got out.  Most fell into the chicken run, some in the yard and one somehow managed to get back in.

Problem was I had run out of zip ties and couldn’t find the other pack I had.  My hands were numb from the cold.  Birds were every where and I’m a girl with hormones which had just gone into over drive.  I began to cuss the birds.  The sailor in me came out and I let loose on those stupid birds.  Then I sat in middle of the run crying, cursing the day I ever decided to get birds.  The words coming from my mouth were not too Christian.  Finally I apologized to God for my melt down and pleaded for help.  My hormones calmed down and I began to fix the netting.  One bird was roaming, two were now in the run and four were in with the chickens.  No one was fighting, so I let it be and began to fix the netting.  I got it all done and it actually worked better than before.  The birds have a little flapping room now.

I managed to get all the turkey back home and settled.  Fixed the chicken netting and calmed them all down.  Gave more water to the bantams,  all the chaos made them go into a tizzy and knock over their water pail.  All was good.  I go in, take off my good shoes that are now covered in turkey poo, took off my nice pants now also covered in turkey poo, removed my sweater, no poo just hot.  I put on a pot of coffee and was putting in toast when I caught a whiff of something.  Turkey poo?  No, dog poo.  In all the chaos, Super Mutt missed his morning walk and got worked up and left his mark.  He looked at me with eyes that said, “Sorry”.  I got it cleaned up, found some clean clothes and poured my coffee, ate my toast.

Look at my phone and I had missed a call from my boss.  Craptastic.  I call him and five minutes into the call my phone dies.  I live in a very old house and outlets are few a FAR between.  My boss was calling to set up my computer for remote work.  I had to move my desk to the middle of my room to reach the only outlet that my phone charger would reach.  Finally get to the call, getting the computer set up and the cat decides it’s her turn to make me crazy.  She is sitting in the window and pukes, not once, but twice.  And there is nothing I can do about it.  I continue talking to the boss like everything is fine and dandy sitting at my desk in the middle of the room watching cat puke slide down my wall.  Yep I’m living the dream.

My boss had to go, family something.  I’m drinking my second cup of coffee trying to figure out how so much crazy happen in such a short span of time.  I hope this is all the crazy for the week, because I’m all tapped out.  Happy Monday everyone.

For the record there is nothing healthy about this.

You see I use to own a game/coffee shop and we served Chai tea latte made by Big Train.  It was awesome.  It was The Girls favorite.  Sadly I sold the shop and no longer had access to Big Train (or could afford it).  Then one day I found Mystic Chai at Sam’s.  This was made by Big Train.  Score.  Then Sam’s decide to suck and stopped stocking it.  I tried Trader Joe’s and it was good, but again couldn’t afford it.

The Girl was sad and really wanted her cheap chemical concoction.  So I searched the internet.  Low and behold I found a recipe, while not the same, it was cheap and it was tasty.  The Girl approved.  I did a rough calculation and the cost is around $3 to make the whole recipe.  I would spend that much on one at a coffee shop and I hate to break it you, it’s pretty much the exact same stuff.  Most coffee shops use an instant.  And a lot of the stuff you already have, so even better.  I don’t drink instant tea and had to buy the french vanilla creamer, but really not a huge investment.

chai 001

Ingredients

1 cup nonfat dry milk

1 cup powdered nondairy creamer

1 cup powdered nondairy french vanilla creamer

2  1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 unsweetened instant tea

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cardamon

Mix it all together really well and store in an air tight container.

Should look like this when all mixed.

Should look like this when all mixed.

Use 2 heaping tablespoons to a mug of hot water.

chai 003

We plan to use this for Christmas presents this year and jelly, lots of jelly.

I hope you all enjoy.

 

How gleaning turned into something so sweet.

This past Saturday I planned on taking the kids to the apple orchard.  Funds have been tight here, so I had been pinching the pennies extra tight to be able to do this.  But Friday evening a friend asked me to go glean with her for scuppernongs (like muscadines).  I gave the kids a choice.  Believe it or not they chose to get up at the crack of dawn to go glean.  I love these kids.

By 8:30 we were in the vineyard and it was beautiful.  The Max was being his usual charming self.  Sunshine the field leader is a good friend of mine and she kept complimenting how well Max was doing.  The Girl had her earbuds in and was lost in her own world picking berries.  I was also in my own world.  Amazed at the amount fruit hanging from the vines.  I had no idea how much to pick, so I just picked.  That there must have been close to 100 gallons picked.  I got to take home 10 to my family.  What a blessing.

When we got home the kids went and passed out on the couch.  I have to admit I took a quick nap.  Soon after I began the process of making juice.  Ok, this takes for ever.  I mean FOR.  EVER.  Be prepared for this step and make sure you are rested and have the time.

That is 10 gallons of Scuppernongs.

That is 10 gallons of Scuppernongs.

First step is to clean and sort the fruit.  Get rid of any berries that are bad and get rid of all the stem.  I let mine soak as I sorted.  The Girl would from time to time steal a berry to make sure we were using the best berries for the finished product.  She’s so helpful.

My sorting center.

My sorting center.

Second step is to crush the berries.  This is the step I had visions of Lucile Ball crushing grapes.  No crushing vats for me.  I used a food processor on pulse.  Then I put them in the pan and crushed them with a potato masher.  While you mash them have them on the stove at medium temperature to help cook down the pulp to release the juice.  Takes 10 to 20 minutes.  Once you do this you are ready to strain the juice from the pulp.  I use a variety of ways for this.  You can also use a food mill.

Ready to strain.

Ready to strain.

Once the fruit is drained as much as it can put the juice in something to hold it till ready to make jelly.  I had to take a break.  You may want to as well.  Good point to take the break.  Like a couple of days.  The picking, sorting, cleaning and mashing was exhausting.

Two gallons and almost a quart.  Not too shabby.

Two gallons and almost a quart. Not too shabby.

Alright so when you are ready to make jelly here’s what you will need.

Ingredients

5 cups juice

8 Tablespoons pectin (I use Ball classic pectin)

4 1/2 cups sugar

Step 1: Prepare jars.  Make sure they are sterile.

Step 2: Boil lids and leave in water till ready to use.

Step 3:  Heat juice and then slowly add pectin.  Stir in well.  Turn heat to high.  Bring to a boil.

Step 4: Add sugar.  Mix in well.  Bring to a boil for 1 minute.

Step 5: Ladle hot mixture into jars.  Leave 1/4 inch head space.  Make sure to wipe rim before putting lid                    on.   After lid is on put ring on, but don’t tighten it.  Just twist it enough to keep lid on.

canning 002

Step 6: Water bath.  I use a water bath, because it’s easy and it’s what I’m use to .  Jars need to sit in boiling               water for 15 minutes.

canning 003

Step 7:  Remove from bath using thongs.  Allow to cool and your done.  Yum.

So pretty.

So pretty.

I got 15 half pints from 10 cups of juice.  I still have a gallon and half to go.  I might freeze some or make more and call it Christmas presents.  So much jelly.  Good thing is this jelly taste a lot like grape, so I won’t have to make any grape jelly this year.  Yay.  I hope you all enjoy.

Life at The Hollow is never dull.

This past week has been slow at The Hollow, but good.  I’ve been working on some projects, but really just taking it easy.  I know things are about to get crazy again, but in a good way.  I’ve been really thinking about the direction I want things to progress here and I made the stunning realization, “I have too many birds”.  Crazy talk I know.  Still very true.  I have decided to pair down the quail.  Tomorrow I well process all but 4 males and 16 females of the jumbo coturnix quail.  The fawn ones don’t seem to grow out very well and I’m trying to build up the A&M, which eventually will be the only quail I have.  So that will take me from four quail pens to two.  Much more manageable.  I will continue the brooder for hatching the meats, but that’s only six weeks at a time.  I can do that.

Second thing I will be getting rid of my Copper Maran.  He is beautiful, but I just don’t need so many roosters.  The lady I got him from got him from Green Fire Farms, so he’s the real deal and would make someone very happy.  Just not me.

Next week I will be working on the new chicken coop and hope to have the Sumatras and Cuckoos moved to their new homes.  They such sweet birds.  The Sumatras come to me looking for grain.  They don’t like being told no.  Once I get them moved I can move the EE and Lavender pullets to the outside.  They will go in with the layers once they are big enough.  With these guys I have a split rooster, so the hope is to breed him and get little lavenders.  It’s always a shuffle of moving birds, but I have to get it all done before it gets too cold.

But the biggest change in The Hollow is that I found a new job.  Yes.  I will be working again.  I am so tired of telling the kids, “That’s not in the budget right now”.  I got the final paper work to sign today and I should start sometime next week.  Here’s the best part.  I work from home.  Yep.  I can take care of the kids and the Hollow and still work.  The pay is good and the work should be fun.  I took a huge leap of faith by quitting my other job, but I was miserable.  And so was my family.  With my faith in God, hard work and having an amazing family this job came through.

With this job so many things that I needed for life at The Hollow will be possible.  And I won’t be saying “That’s not in the budget” as much.  My God is good and I really am happy.  To top off all the good things, my dear friend who gave me all the pallets brought me 45 bales of hay.  Yay.  I was really concerns about keeping the birds warm this winter.  Problem solved.  I am surrounded by amazing people and I am truly blessed.  I hope everyone of you have a wonderful day.

birds 014

And all that en tales.

Friday poor Super Mutt didn’t get his morning walk due the amount of work I had to get done to get the fall garden in.  I really should have taken a before picture, then you appreciate the amount of work this garden was.  There were plants in there almost as tall as me.  Really!

Taking on this thing I called the garden was a tad over whelming.  I began removing poles and the larger plants.  After an hour those were removed.  I decided that the best way to remove the remaining weeds was with the lawn mower.  Remember the saying “Work smarter, not harder.”  Well that was the plan and it worked like a charm.  There were locust fleeing for their lives.  Their tiny little screams were drowned out by the lawn mower.  There truly was a large amount of them.  Once that was done it was time to till.  Oh boy.

So tilling is not my favorite thing.  AT ALL.  That tiller drags me all over the place.  By the second run through I sorta had the hang of it, but still not a fan.  People driving by slowed down to watch me try to control this thing.  I’m so glad I can entertain the neighbors.  After tilling I could really see an improvement in the soil.  It was losing the red tint it’s had for the past two years.  Looking more like dirt.  Yay.  Maybe something will grow this year.

I was so tired by all this that the planting had to happen the next day.  I did manage to get everything in the ground on Saturday.  It looks like I only lost a couple of plants, but that’s no big deal.  garden 001

My cute little octopus garden stool someone gave me.  I love it.

My cute little octopus garden stool someone gave me. I love it.

I’m so relieved to get the garden in.  A lot of what I planted is for the animals, like cabbage, carrots, collards, and lettuce.  It should help the feed bill and they really love variety.   Now I did plant some lettuce that the Girl and I love.  I also put in celery, broccoli and kale.  Lots of green leafy food.

Last week was a huge adjustment.  Things got done and some things didn’t, but I felt good about what I was able to manage.  The kids ate real food all week.  Crazy I know.  Super Mutt got lots of walks and attention.  He was not taking no for an answer this morning when it came time for the walk.  We actually almost hit the two mile mark.  Maybe tomorrow we will do it.

Now to clean the house and tend to that pile of laundry.  I’m hoping after that I will manage to get some baking done.  I’m thinking scones (for breakfast this week) and pound cake (because I love it and WANT it).  Yeah that sounds like a great idea.

Fresh warm laundry makes Blinky a happy kitty.  Hate to move her.  The laundry may have to wait.

Fresh warm laundry makes Blinky a happy kitty. Hate to move her. The laundry may have to wait.

Super Mutt’s grand adventure

The past few days have been good.  I’ve gotten a lot done.  Not everything has gone as planned, but I’ve decided planning is overrated at this point.  The past several days Super Mutt and I have been walking.  This morning my old bones were giving me fits.  With all the rain  and all the extra work I’m hurting.  So we took a break.  But the old dog needs to get out and do his business, so we decided to get good look at the land we have to work with.

We go way back.  At the edge of the property is a stream and it’s pretty grown up.  Well at my level it’s grown up, at Super Mutt’s it’s perfect.  I can not tell you how many spiders that dog made me face plant.  Eww….  He twisted and turned through like it’s just no big deal.  I stumble and got snagged on every branch there was.  Clearly God designed this part of the land for dogs, not clumsy humans girls like myself.  It’s been so long since I have seen him this happy and excited.

We made our way back to the house and went inside.  He lapped up water and went to plop down in his favorite spot right next to my bed.  He laid sprawled out whacking his tail up and down.  He was pleased with me.  I have to confess, I laid down with him and rubbed his tummy.  I realized how much I have neglected him.  He’s good boy and has been there for me countless times.  I really have the best dog on earth.  He’s kinda special.

After this I got up and it hit me, how many other things in my life am neglecting.  Sometimes I think I can do that, I’m Super Mom.  I am Super Mom, but the way, but sometimes we have to realize our limits.  Today was about figuring out what I can do on land and what I can’t.  It’s also about when enough is enough.  I have enough.  All my needs are met.  Life is good.  Super Mutt is a great dog because he keeps me in check.  Life is simple and we should live it that way.  That’s my goal.  Keep it simple and keep it real.  Sounds goodto me.

Yesterday I got all the trees pruned.  Yay.  I have plans with those branches.  Nothing goes to waste in The Hollow.  Today I have to fix a flat tire on the lawn mower and then mow.  I’m hoping to get to the garden at some point today, but if not, it’s not the end of the world.  mutt 009

The End of a Season

Yesterday began the first day of no job.  It’s a good thing and I am looking at other options.  I just realized the job I was in wasn’t a right fit for me and……well it royally sucked.  Only way to explain it.  It was wearing on me, the family and all the animals.

I had pictured in my mind for several weeks how my first day would go.  It didn’t really go as planned, but I reminded myself you have tomorrow and the next day and the next and the next.  OK.  I got up to the usual routine, let the animals out, feed, water, say good morning to all my lovely bird and be the crazy chicken lady that the neighbors talk about.  Then I went in and stirred the kids from their bed, began making lunches….stopped due to teenage girl not feeling well and I didn’t really need to make my lunch since I will be here and not work.  Wait teenage girl at home on my first day, not cool.  Turns out she never left her room except to beg for food.   I dropped the Max off and came back home.

That’s when it got real.  I don’t have a job.  I might have done a happy dance followed up with a few tears followed with confusion.  What do I do first.  COFFEE.  Yes I needed coffee for this planning.  And it was so, with peanut butter toast.  So I sat in front of my window drinking coffee and eating toast plotting the day, when I look over at Super Mutt.  Sad eyes saying, “I need attention”.  That’s when I told him we were going for a walk.  He looked confused.  I called him to the door and he got excited.  I wanted to do the full two miles of the road, but got a call from the Eldest that he needed help with school stuff.  SM and I got a full 20 minute walk in.  SM was beat when we got back.  Maybe we will take this slow on the old boy.

I got the Eldest taken care of, managed to get some house work done and a mountain of laundry washed.  No yard work was done due to so much rain.  I told myself there is tomorrow.  Tomorrow came and the usual morning routine took place (teenage girl went to school, Woohoo).  I sat with my coffee and toast and saw sad eyed Super Mutt.  I declared to him that we needed to go for a walk.  His ear perked up and looked at me with suspicion.  But when he heard the leash at the door he came running.

I decided today we will do time not miles.  I determined 30 minutes will be our goal.  We set out.  As usual SM marked everything we passed.  The sun was coming up and I began to smell the honeysuckle.  I had noticed them yesterday and thought how odd. Honeysuckle is usually gone by early August.  I was tempted to stop and pick some.  I have always loved the sweet taste.  Smelling it flooded me with memories.  SM was loving the smell as well.

Standing there looking at the honeysuckle I realized summer is almost gone.  Fall is around the corner.  I thought how fitting it was that I would be ending one chapter of my life as summer is ending.  Fall is my favorite season and this year I will really get to enjoy it as I start this new chapter.  Sadly this summer was stressful at work I missed the honeysuckle, but like a gift from God I got see it one last time.

There is a lot to do at The Hollow but I have the time for now to get it done.  The budget will be tight, but I will manage.  The kids will be spoiled with homemade goodness and lots of Mom time.  That I am looking forward to.  Today is still up in the air as to what will get done, but things will get done.  And my new motto is “There is tomorrow”.  I might add to it, “Enjoy today”.  Have a great day today.

 

turkey 006The last several days have been incredibly busy around the Hollow.  I have been working endless days getting the turkey run and shelter done.  I needed to move them from the big brooder to move the Cuckoo Marans and the Sumatras.  And I needed build new coops for the quail that were to hatch any day.  Seventy five hatched yesterday. Poultry math and all that procrastinating were catching up with me.  On top of that it is VBS this week at the church and I had a big glean yesterday.  I brought home several hundred pounds of squash.  The birds are happy.  Needless to say I took yesterday and today off from work.

Yesterday I managed I get the turkey run done and began the process of moving them.  Those birds are nuts.  They acted like I was murdering them.  I got all seven in without much damage to me.  No lasting scars.  I had a few things left to do before I went in to get ready for VBS.  I thought I would just hang out and make sure there weren’t in hole to escape from.  I’m going to tell you while standing there the most beautiful thing happen.  My turkeys were being turkeys.

For the first time they felt dirt and they loved it.  They ran from corner to corner and found the SPOT.  They flopped down and rolled and fluffed and whistled with happiness.  It amazes me the embedded  desire and knowledge that these birds have to love dirt and all it’s glory.  They got up and ran some more.  They would flap their wings.  They ran to me and from me.  They couldn’t stop.  It was like the day my son realized that he could walk.  He did it all day till he could go no further.  The turkey saw everything and wanted to see it all.  It was awesome.  I love my chicken, but these turkey are pure entertainment.

After the turkey excitement I got things put up and went to VBS.  I came home.  Went down to lock the girls up for the night.  Did the nightly head check.  One was missing.  I counted again.  Still missing.  I searched the coop, the pen, under the barn.  Sunny was gone.  I began thinking of all the horrible things that could of happen.  Blaming myself for any holes in the fence, for not checking the predator netting, for anything that could have lead to my sweet Sunny being gone.  I went to bed last night still worrying about her.  Finally I thought she will be there in the morning and went to sleep.

This morning I went out and let the girls out.  No Sunny.   I looked around the pen.  Nope.  My heart sank.  I let her down.  Then I saw a green bin in the coop.  I had used it to move a bird and Marvo claimed it for his roost.  I don’t really fight Marvo, so I left it.  For what ever reason I checked under it and there was Sunny.  She was alive and came out like all was cool.  I removed the bin.  Marvo will get over it.  I’ll build a better roost.  I am so thankful I found her then and not later today when it will hotter, she might not have survived.

After the excitement of finding Sunny I went to check on the turkey and they ran to me and greeted me.  Then they ran from me to let me know they can.  I.  Love. Them.  Today is a clean up day around the Hollow.  I’m going to check all fences and all predator nets.  And remove anything small chickens can get under.  Have a great day everyone.

We are the cutest thing you have ever seen.

We are the cutest thing you have ever seen.

Red enjoying the new fence.

Red enjoying the new fence.

The past few days have been super busy.  Last weekend the mom mobile decided it was done, so I’ve had to get to and fro in the Eldest’s car.  It’s a SUV(small unhandy vehicle).  I am very blessed to have use of it, but it’s not as big as my needs are.  Anyway, this past Saturday, between market with the girls, sending Fabio to his new home and building the fence I had to go to Tractor Supply.  I was getting supplies to build the rabbits tower hutch.  That’s when I decided to break down and get that tiller I really needed and wanted.  I didn’t really think this through.

It’s Saturday and they are slammed with people and I’m  spending money, the world revolves around me, right.  Not so much and being the kind of person I am I volunteer to get it to the car myself.  I’m an idiot.  Lucky for me there was this nice man to help get it on the cart.  He said I would need help.  Oh no, I can do it.  I can’t do it.  One of the girls working there finally offers to help me.  Sucker.  We get to the car and I explain to her I need to move some stuff.  I’m so prepared.  She will probably remember me for life.

Remember it a smaller car.  So I begin to remove stuff from the back to the back seat.  First out is the goat milk, then the basket of tie downs, bread, more bread, oh and more bread.  The girls are fond of the rye and the day old store had it for $.75.  Still unloading the car, next was the veggies, boom stick, tripod……AND the lard.  At this point the lard rolls out of the freezer bag, drops to the ground and rolls over the girls foot.  All I could say was, “Oops.  There goes the lard.”  She could not longer contain herself, she bust out laughing.  Meanwhile I’m just glad I had given the girls the cement that morning or no telling what this girl would have thought of me.

Right about the time the lard is making its way through the parking lot, one of the manly employees shows up to help get the tiller in the car.  Bless him.  I’m pretty sure she told stories of this crazy and her lard to everyone.  I just hope I’m not the craziest story she has to tell.  I got in the car and started laughing.  Only I would have such craziness in my car.

I got home, finished the fence, rendered the lard (4 quarts and a pint), cleaned up and started it all again the next day.  Please tell me I’m not the only crazy homesteader out there.

The new fence.  I'm liking it.

The new fence. I’m liking it.