Thursday, February 26, 2009

Picture(s) of the Day

This morning I gathered eight eggs. There may be more later, a few of the hens seem to hold out until evening.

This is a sign I have in my kitchen. I wonder how long it has been since eggs were only ten cents a dozen.

Recipe of the Week: 30 Minute Chili

I got this recipe from my aunt. It is very quick and easy. We like it for Frito pie or on hot dogs.

30 Minute Chili
1 lb. hamburger
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
2 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin powder
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water

  1. Brown meat, onion and garlic; drain well
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Cook's notes:

  • I use closer to 3/4 tsp. salt--the tomato sauce has it in it and chili powder sometimes does.
  • I measure the water in the 8 oz. tomato sauce can--I like my consistency a little thicker, so I generally don't use the full cup.
  • I love to make my Frito pie into a wrap--flour tortilla with the chili, Fritos and cheese inside.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Signs of Spring

The weather here has been unseasonably warm. Although we have enjoyed it, it also means that the trees, elm in particular, are budding. This explains my allergies lately. This is the time of year when you start itching to plant in the garden. A week of warm weather like this makes you want to go ahead and do it. Unfortunately, we've still got lots of opportunities for cold weather. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic. In the next few months we'll have to trek down in the pasture to check the mesquite tree. We won't be clear of frost until it buds.
Here's Talley under the trampoline while the kids were jumping. The cats and chickens have enjoyed roaming in this weather. The cats don't realize they aren't really supposed to hang out with the chickens. I'm working on getting a picture of that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Do We Have Chickens?

It occurred to me that this might be a good time to explain how we got into the chicken/egg "business." In first grade, Sadie's class hatched eggs in an incubator. Sadie kept coming home from school telling me that if I sent a note she could bring home some chicks. This was before they even hatched so I kept putting her off. Come to find out, she was right, so we allowed her to bring three Leghorn chicks home. We figured they wouldn't make it through the winter (for some reason they hatched them in October-November which is not an ideal time around here.)

The three--Pecky, Eatie, and Roostey--soon outgrew their box in the house. We "borrowed" a huge rabbit hutch from our friends and Robby built a smaller house with a heat lamp to put inside the hutch and we moved them outside. We never dreamed they'd all survive the winter; we actually had snow that year. They did survive, so we built a house and pen in our backyard in town.

We moved all three chickens and the house and pen to the country with us. Our neighbor in town had "fancy" chickens. He decided that we needed some Cochin Bantams. We were excited to expand our flock, so we agreed. He called one day to tell me to come pick them up. He already had them in a cage. He gave us an older hen and 3 of her chicks. After I got home with them he said, "By the way, I'm pretty sure two of those are roosters." I didn't want roosters. Roostey, the original Leghorn was getting mean and cantankerous, I wasn't interested in more.

To make a long story short, Roostey got so mean he wouldn't let us in or out of the pen. I had to carry a "chicken stick" with me to get eggs and the kids wouldn't go near the pen (except Tryce, which is another story.) Petunia, the dog, killed the old bantam hen when she got in the yard and her chick, that was now a hen, died from loneliness. Roostey went on to greener pastures when we adopted our cousin's second-grade chicken Adventure Cheepy. (He, by the way, was not smart enough to come in out of the rain and unfortunately didn't last too long here.) So, we were down to the two original Leghorns and the two unwanted Bantam roosters.

In August we bought 5 Rhode Island Red and 5 Leghorn chicks. Fast forward to now. We still have the two hens from first grade. The chicks we bought last fall are all laying and we have eggs coming out our ears. (For sale, by the way, if you are interested.) The roosters, after 2 years of living in peace, have begun to fight. Our hens will probably never sit on eggs to hatch them (broodiness has been bred out of them). Because of that, it kind of makes the roosters unnecessary. So, renovations to the pens and relocation of the "fighting" roosters are on the to-do list for this spring.

If you'd like a slightly beat up Bantam rooster, let me know. I guess you could say they are "free to a good home."

Monday, February 23, 2009

When Roosters Fight

The roosters have been fighting a lot lately. I'm sure it has something to do with trying to impress the hens and the pullets. (All of which are laying now--seems the fighting started when the pullets, who are in the adjacent pen, started laying.) Needless to say, the girls are not impressed.

T.S. and I, on the other hand, are impressed. Notice how they make the feathers around their head go out and how they puff up their whole body. I'm assuming this is to appear larger. I googled "why roosters fight" and mainly came up with real rooster fights. I also found some male enhancement products, but we won't go there.

Here are some pictures to show how the fight goes. Usually they bow down to each other, fluff feathers, then jump at/on each other. Then the whole process starts again. The hens continue to go about their business scratching and pecking like nothing is going on.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pictures I Didn't Capture

At the stock show I didn't always have my camera handy. I've learned that when the perfect moment comes, it is often ruined by digging out the camera. I missed a few pictures just because my zoom isn't strong enough. So, here are the "ones that got away", but will be etched in my mind for some time.
  • Wednesday morning about 7:00am--Sadie all dressed up to show almost asleep in a chair holding Leonard's halter; he stood patiently beside her with his head in her lap and fell asleep.
  • Sadie's face as she turned around to catch Robby's and Craig's eye when her lamb was being weighed.
  • Robby's and Craig's faces when the judge pulled Sadie and she made it through the weigh back. (Some have said it is more fun to watch Robby and his reactions when Sadie is showing.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Stock Show Secrets

We're back from the San Antonio Stock Show. You can go over to the family blog for updates and pictures of that. Sadie and Leonard placed 14th. We were really proud of both of them. Get ready for lots of posts about the week. Kids in the car for 8 hours, animals and being a tourist give lots of post options.

Today I'm going to share a few tips I learned at the show:
  • If you don't have an exhibitors' pass or a parking permit, arrive before 7:00am. No one will be there to check. Of course, none of the exhibits are open yet, only one place is open for breakfast and the line is long (lamb, pig, and steer people have to eat) and if you aren't there to show or watch someone show you won't have anything to do for several hours. But, you'll get in free. It makes for a really long day, though. (Net savings: $18)
  • The food is expensive and not that great. If you wander around long enough you'll find some free samples, though. We were treated to chuck wagon coffee and biscuits, free ice cream cones (small, but good) and various samples from H.E.B in the afternoon. If you go through the lines enough times, you can fill up. (Depending on how many people you are feeding and how many meals you are there for you can save anywhere from $10-$50 a day by sticking to the samples, however, you probably aren't doing your part for the economy if you follow this tip and the first one)
  • The exhibits that are geared toward kids are terribly crowded and congested during school hours--try to wait until all of the school groups leave before checking those out.

Here's a sampling of what T.S. ate:

  • Monday--1 hot dog
  • Tuesday--2 hot dogs, 2-3 biscuits, 4 ice cream cones
  • Wednesday--biscuit (his goal was four, but we didn't make it back over to the chuck wagon), 1 ice cream cone

More useful (or useless) stock show info to come...

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Just a little note to let all 8 of you know that I'll be away from the computer for about a week. I know you will all be waiting on the edge of your seats for my return.
Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

16 Random Things about Me

My friends Christy and Janda posted a list, so since I can't seem to think of anything to blog about and I think they are pretty cool. I decided to give it a try.
  1. I'd rather play with the kids or do a craft than do housework. (especially dishes or laundry) That's probably why I keep kids--it's a good excuse for crafting and no housework.
  2. I could spend all day outside messing in the yard and garden or "checking" on the zoo animals.
  3. I think my kids are absolutely fabulous--T.S. can come up with something funny everyday. Sadie can imagine and dream up more than I ever could.
  4. I can't believe I lived 23 years of my life and went to college 8 hours away before coming home to Happy, TX to meet the love of my life at Happy High School. What are the odds?
  5. I'm really looking forward to our family spending time together at the San Antonio Stock Show.
  6. I'd trade anything for Nonnie to be living here on the farm instead of us. I'd love a lunch of home-made chicken tenders and biscuits. Followed by an afternoon snack of a Coke and a Hershey bar (with peanut butter and mini-marshmallows on it if I wanted).
  7. I'm glad we can visit Nonnie and enjoy her company at the nursing home. The kids have made some fun memories there. Not many kids get to have good times and eat cheese dip with their great-grandmother.
  8. I'm looking forward to working this summer with mom. She amazes me with all of the things she knows how to do around here. Maybe I should start taking notes.We're going to try our hand at a pumpkin patch this year. I think it and the zoo thing go hand-in-hand.
  9. Bonza Bottler Day is the best least-known holiday to celebrate. More people should participate, it is important to take time out to have fun with your friends.
  10. My husband works way harder than most people in his position. I think the community finally sees that and is starting to appreciate what he does for our kids.
  11. I'm blessed to live in a small community that feels like a big family. Sadie (and T.S. next year) has teachers that have known her her whole life. It's fun to raise (or rear as Mrs. Smith would say) children with the people you grew up with. Even better is the fact that some of our parents grew up together.
  12. It has been fun watching Sadie and Robby and T.S. with our show animals. At the stock shows, I've missed my dad more than I thought I would.
  13. I love to mix Honey Nut Cheerios (the generic bag-kind), peanut butter, mini-marshmallows and M&Ms together for a snack. YUM! Other than that I'm not a big dessert/sweets fan.
  14. The perfect day would be one spent outdoors with family and friends. A day with no obligations except just to "be"--be happy, be content and have fun.
  15. I can't remember the last book I read. I really need to a)make time to read and b)read more books of substance.
  16. I am a picky eater--I really hope my kids don't inherit that.

Okay, so that's 16 random things about me--a little deeper than I intended. Let me know if you decide to post 16 or feel free to post some things about yourself in the comments here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Cake

Today is Robby's birthday. His favorite cake is strawberry cake so the boys and I made it this afternoon. It is not a pretty cake, it never is. (No I wasn't holding the camera crooked--I was serious, this is not a pretty cake.) What it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in taste. Today is the first time that I made it and it didn't fall. The icing is not a thick icing, so it won't "hide" flaws. The neat thing about this recipe is that Robby's mom uses this exact same one that my great-grandmother used.

Strawberry Cake

1 pkg. white cake mix
1 c. Wesson oil
1/2 c. water (or milk)
3 Tbsp. flour
4 eggs
1 pkg. strawberry Jell-o
1/2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed
Mix ingredients well. Makes 3 small layers or 2 large layers. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
1 box powdered sugar
1/2 stick oleo
1/2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen strawberries
Mix topping ingredients and spread between layers and on top.
Cook's notes:
  • Wesson oil is a brand of vegetable oil (I don't know if they even make it any more.)
  • Frozen strawberries used to come in a nice little 10 oz. box. I only had a 24 oz. container, so I drained what was left and put the sliced strawberries in the middle of the 2 layers.
  • Notice my great-grandmother called it a topping instead of an icing. It will just spill over the sides of the cake and puddle on the platter.
  • I suggest using the water rather than the milk. The milk and the 4 eggs make it so rich that I can almost guarantee it will fall. (Unless you know some trick I don't.)

Hooray for Rain!!

We were finally blessed with some rain last night. We got close to 3/4 of an inch. The bad news is that the wind is blowing hard today (20-30mph), so some of that moisture will be sucked up before long. A cat being chased by a tumbleweed is quite a site.

We were in desperate need of the rain. It was so dry that the electric fence wasn't "shocking" the cattle and they were just ducking under and going over it to get out. It isn't fun to put cattle in daily and spend time in the wind trying to figure out where they escaped or why the fence isn't working. (Not that I did that, mom got stuck doing that last night and today) Hopefully we received enough rain to keep the wheat alive and growing. It's funny to hope your road is muddy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Nonnie's Caramel Brownies

My blog-friend Granny Sue is searching for a brownie recipe. Which made me think of Nonnie's Caramel Brownies. She sent them to us at college. All of my friends thought they were fantastic. One of my college roommates still makes them. She told me that people at her husband's workplace requested them. My cousin Jay goes crazy for them. I made them this summer. They were good, but not as good as Nonnie's. I don't know what she does differently. These are a must-try, a staple in your dessert arsenal. The only thing better is if Nonnie makes them for you.

Nonnie's Caramel Brownies
1 (14oz) pkg. Kraft caramels
1/3 c. evaporated milk
1 German chocolate cake mix
1/3 c. evaporated milk
1 1/2 sticks melted oleo (that would be margarine or butter for you young ones)
2 c. chocolate chips
1 c. pecans, chopped

  1. Melt together the caramels and evaporated milk (just 1/3 c.) over low heat.
  2. In another bowl, stir together the cake mix, evaporated milk and oleo. Press half of mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-7 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over the crust. Pour the caramel mixture over the chocolate chips and pecans.
  4. Crumble the remaining dough over the caramel mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Do not overcook.
  5. Cool and cut into bars.

Cook's Notes:

  • This can also be found in the Rainbow cookbook--if you grew up with me you know what that is.
  • Nonnie always stored these between layers of waxed paper in Christmas tins (regardless of the season).
  • By the time one of my cousins was in school, she individually wrapped his so they'd keep longer--he'd lock them in his filing cabinet so his roommate wouldn't eat them.
  • She mailed mine to me in shoeboxes. The postage today would be outrageous because they are heavy.
  • My job as a kid was to unwrap all of the caramels.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Facts you should know if you are ever on Jeopardy!: Farm Edition

One of our Rhode Island Red pullets laid her first egg today. (It is the one on the right. The white one on the left is from one of our old Leghorn hens that Sadie has had since first grade.) That is very exciting around here. So how do I know it was a Red and not a Leghorn? I'm happy you asked. Rhode Island Reds lay brown eggs, Leghorns lay white. Also, the Leghorns are not known to lay this early. The pullets are only 6 months old. (Go here to see pictures of them as babies.)

Interesting facts about Rhode Island Reds:

  • known for their hardiness
  • can produce 200-300 eggs per bird in a 12-month laying period (If you live in our area, we'll be happy to be your egg supplier in a few months.)
  • Originally developed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the 1880s and 1890s

I've also heard that you can tell what color eggs a chicken will lay if you look at the area on their head where ears would be. (I'm sure that place has an official name or something.) Notice in the pictures that the Reds have a brown or tan area. If I'd posted a picture of the Leghorns, you could see that it is white. I think the egg color will darken as the pullets mature.