Taking Time to Stop and Smell the Roses…or Bluebonnets and Dogwoods

An Early Springtime Flower Pictorial

The World As I See It

This first week of Spring has called forth a lovely assortment of flowering fields and trees.  I thought I’d share a few pictures from our land and down the county roads.  Enjoy!

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In the right conditions, these flox that grow in thick patches of the prairies and valleys of Central Texas, can produce an optical effect like no other flower I know.  They pop almost fluorescent on cloudy days.  Seen here with invasive, but beautiful sweet peas, these flowers usher in a season of constant bloom.

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I have an expectancy date for bluebonnets, based on my firstborn’s birthday.  He was born March 3rd, and Texas was born March 2nd, with the battle of the Alamo ending March 6th, so I fully expect to start seeing bluebonnets, our beautiful state flower, anywhere from the 2nd to the 6th.  Due to the lengthy, bitter and un-Texas-like winter we experienced, the bluebonnets waited a…

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Fast Times At Farmville High

There’s a rapid pace to farm life that seems to pick up speed during the transition from winter to spring.  Preparations and planting of new garden rows as well as maintenance of winter rows begin.  Taking advantage of the warmer days by cleaning cages and built-up coop floors.  Between a few bugs, plain lethargy, and extreme busyness, I’ve neglected my blogs.

Promises of Spring

Promises of Spring

Since I last shared our farm animal news, Daphne and Phoebe have each given birth to seven kits, boosting our total rabbit population to 31.  That includes Daddy Buck, Father of all 24 rabbits, including Chloe’s last (and incidentally, first) litter of 10, as well as Checkers, an old retired buck who, well, is just here.  We have mated Chloe and Buck again, as Chloe’s 10 kits are completely weaned, getting fatter by the day, and about ready for new homes.  We are going to be selling several of our various chicks and pullets, as well as our bunnies, come Good Friday.

Phoebe and babe

Phoebe and babe

Super Mom Chloe's babies are so loving.  They greet me with kisses every day <3

Super Mom Chloe’s babies are so loving. They greet me with kisses every day ❤

I’m also excited to announce that we will be selling two products my Mama and I have been busy formulating and tweaking, as well, on Good Friday.  If these items are well received at the farmer’s market, you may be able to purchase them online in the near future.  Cross your fingers for us.  As a lady with hard-worked hands, I can say I have reaped the benefits of being the co-creator of our all natural lotion sticks and chap sticks.  I am giddy about our debut!

Our Leonardo, the prize winning Ameraucana-Maran Roo, took 2nd prize at the first ever Chicken Costume Contest, in that particular county, at least.  My Dad likes to say that he couldn’t keep his pants on, because he was pinned in between two lovely brides (hens dressed as brides).  I like to say he had a major wardrobe malfunction.  Either way, I have a much simpler idea if Dad decides to enter another wild and zany chicken contest that requires the chickens to be dressed for success…this year, Leonardo went as a Mexican Cowboy from the Chicken House in La Grange…I’ll post his grand tale soon.  Yes, Dad wrote a nine page handwritten story to go along with his prize roo.  I even monogrammed his boots!!

Leonardo takes a bow at dress rehearsal

Leonardo takes a bow at dress rehearsal

Dad in his modified Tweetie-Roo hat, tries to help Leonardo get ready for the contest

Dad won several prizes for his eggs at the La Grange Poultry show, including best in show.  We do have a lovely assortment of eggs, from whites, tans, browns, and greens, our girls pump out a nice stream of vitamin rich jewels for us to enjoy in so many different ways, from boiled to fried, to baked in a cake.  What a joy to be able to enjoy such fruits of our labor!

Every so often, the tree trimmers drop off a load of mulch in our far field.  Three days ago, they dropped off more than just mulch.  Six newborn kittens were found mewing among the mulch, by my youngest son.  My first instinct was not pretty.  I really wanted him to just put them back and forget he ever found them and let nature take it’s course.  But I always get this prick upon my heart when I harbor such thoughts.  I know we are to be stewards of the earth and if my child is going to grow into a loving man, and potentially a husband and father, I could not in good conscience follow through with my initial thought.

We are now bottle feeding the screaming brat-pack, and I intend to find homes for them as soon as they can eat on their own!  There are already three resident cats, two dogs, countless chickens, and quail, a pig and what was it, 31 bunnies?  I think we have enough mouths to feed around here.  Here’s to hoping for a short-lived kitten-stewardship!  I never said I was perfect…or purrrfect for that matter!

we do what we can

we do what we can

More news on the farm is that our pair of Japanese or Sumatran Bantams are apparently a pair of flaming roos… Dad said, “It’s no wonder we could never find out where she was laying her eggs!  Turns out, she’s a he!”  We’ve recently separated another pair of bantams to find out which is the male and which is the female of that pair.  One or both are laying eggs!  Usually, spurs give away the sex of the chicken, even before their feathers fully develop.  But until the spurs develop, it’s anyone’s guess…unless one wants to start counting wing feathers, that is.  We don’t have that kind of time!

Our ducks have become free-rangers along with many of our pullets.  The ducks have their own hut, but they prefer to retire with the rest of our chickens in the main coop.  All three turned out to be daffy hens, so we look to add at least one male duck to the group before we’re done. We’ve added several more bantams and Ameracaunas to the mix, as well as 50 plus new Texas A&M quail.  We’ve probably already got 20 adults, so the additions will allow us to retire some of the older quail to the freezer.  They are quick growers and great egg producers, laying after only 6-8 weeks of age, and are also excellent eating…so I shall soon find out.

checking on the quail peeps

checking on the quail peeps

one of these things is not like the others

one of these things is not like the others

We finally got around to operating on and removing Mr. M’s Bumblefoot plugs.  It was icky and Mr. M was an amazing patient.  He’s recuperating in a cage out in the sunlight.  This morning, Dad put him back on the ground, and I hope he doesn’t wind up having to fight his way back to the top of the cockerel-hierarchy.  He was king and head-honcho, the position currently shared (?) between Leonardo and Mr. White.  They are both just chicken enough that I don’t think Mr. M will need to put up too much of a fight to regain his position.  We shall see in time.

before the operation, Leonardo attempted to challenge Mr. M through his waiting cage.

before the operation, Leonardo attempted to challenge Mr. M through his waiting cage.

Dr. Dad operating on Mr. M while I hold him still in a burlap bag

And until NEXT time, this is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OFF!

a friend sent this to me...pretty funny, no?

a friend sent this to me…pretty funny, no?

Vaya con Dios

Chaca Made the Luau a Real Hit (How to Cook a Wild Hog)

When my Dad and my Son captured the wild hog, and set it up to live on our land, Mama got excited about the possibilities.  She immediately declared Spring Break’s end to be a time for family and pulled pork. We called everyone up, and luckily, our Spring Breaks ended on the weekend Mama chose for the Luau.

We enjoyed Chaca and made her useful, while we also fattened her up for our first luau.  My son built her a round pen and set it out in the garden, and she began rooting the plot as well as fertilizing it, for our spring/summer veggies.  At first, she would charge at anyone who came near her pin…well, except for the young male cardinals, whom she seemed to enjoy.  She would allow them to weave through her pen and land on her rooted earth, without even so much as batting an eye.  And after time, she would allow us to feed and replenish her water, without charging, but instead, she would simply step outside her little dog house and observe.

My son took care of her with a single shot through the head, and then cleaned her alongside my father and put her on ice to bleed out.  They added ice as needed over the following week, after her demise, and let some of the gamey blood drain.

Friday night, they pulled Chaca’s carcass out of the cooler and we laid her on some thick gage plastic, over our utility sink and counter, and I picked the last of the wild hairs from her fat, washed her up one last time and gave her one last one over, before Dad put her in a salt and ice brine overnight.

Early Saturday morning, he fired up the pit, stuffed Chaca’s chest cavity with a large assortment of onions, garlic, and peppers, and set her to char.  Once both sides were nicely charred, he wrapped her in foil and let her slow cook for 6 hours or so.  Once she cooled, and we all were ready to dive in, I unwrapped her and the family went hog wild!  It was like they were in hog heaven, lickin’ their chops and snortin’ like little happy piglets.

succulent grilled wild hog

succulent grilled wild hog

I admittedly get my biggest thrills from feeding people (and chickens…and rabbits…and well, whatever else looks hungry!).  Mom and I decided on several salad side dishes, to keep with the luau theme and springtime celebration.  She gathered cabbages and carrots from our garden to make a lovely fresh cole slaw.  She also made our personal new favorite, Sweet and Tangy Green Bean Salad.  I added my all-time biggest hit and secret recipe, German Potato Salad, as well as a fresh cucumber/tomato/onion/pasta salad.  Complete with Hawaiian Rolls, grilled mango and grilled pineapple, our spread was a hit with both the young and the not so young in the family.

We are blessed to be able to get together more often than just the holidays, and we know it.  We love watching our children play together, and as they’ve grown, we’ve enjoyed more time in conversation, while just watching them from a distance.  No one comes crying to us anymore.  They can make their own plates, they rarely spill a drink…it’s rather nice, this fleeting stage of life.  So we try to enjoy each other as often as possible, because nothing beats family; especially one that prays together.

Yes, we stepped away from the pork, long enough for each one to say a prayer of Thanksgiving, in March, for we have so much to be thankful for everyday.  I am so glad that God comes to our gatherings.  They are richer for it, and we, richer still.

Until Next time, This is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OFF!

Vaya con Dios