Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bob's Been a Bad Boy

I love the dumb bird. I really do. But he's been acting a little too aggressive for my tastes lately. I understand he's just trying to do his job of protecting the flock. And maybe part of it is he's so darn proud of the eggs the girls are starting to lay he doesn't want me to take them. But he needs to get that little pea-size brain of his wrapped around the concept of not biting the hand that feeds him.

The men folk won't even go in the run anymore if he's in there. I don't mind going in because I know he's mostly full of bologna and just likes to talk trash. But the other day he actually got me from behind as I was leaving the run. He's lucky I was already half way out the door or he would have ended up hanging upside down somewhere. I was NOT amused. So much so I came directly into the house and pulled one of his brothers out of freezer camp and made up the tastiest batch of chicken-n-noodles you can imagine. Here's my recipe.


1 stewing chicken
2 sprigs parsley
4 celery branches with leaves
1 carrot, pared and sliced
1 small onion, cut up
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt *
about 1/2 pound of noodles**

Place chicken pieces in Dutch oven or large kettle with enough water to cover (about 2 quarts). Add remaining ingredients. Cover; bring to boiling and cook over low heat about 2 1/2 hours, or till tender. Let cool. Remove meat from bones and return to pot. Bring to boil. Add noodles and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. * If you're watching your sodium intake reduce or omit salt. **Homemade noodles are best, but you can buy homemade-style at the store in a pinch.

Later that evening when I returned to close up the coop for the night Bob had completely lost his bad attitude. My earlier jumping up and down, flapping my arms, gritting my teeth and yelling "bad chicken, Bad Chicken, BAD CHICKEN" must have made an impression. I can only imagine that must have been quite the sight to see from his birds eye view.

Friday, October 24, 2008

He Knew Beans About Beans

Way back in the old days, soon after I married The Engineer, I had an occasion to make ham-n-beans. Seeing how The Engineer was one of those crazy canucks, he'd never heard of such a dish. The man ate baked beans out of the can for breakfast with ham for crying out loud. You know the stuff here in the Midwest we start a recipe with to take to picnics and potlucks? Very strange. Anyway, sadly, I made the most bland tasting beans you can imagine. I mean that ham had no flavor to it whatsoever. As we sat at the dinner table that night he politely didn't make a single negative comment, he simply asked "Dear, how often will we be eating this dish?" I'm guessing he was praying the answer wouldn't be once a week. Ever since, I've left ham-n-beans off the menu even though I craved them so.

Then the other day, at the blacksmith association meeting, they were serving ham-n-beans. He ate them, and genuinely seemed to enjoy them. I thought to myself, AHA! He's been here long enough now to develop a taste for real beans. Then I ran across a bona-fide cast iron bean pot in an antique store. They were selling it for a song. I remembered Dad always made his beans in a pot just like this and nobody made beans as well as Dad. I brought it home, cleaned it up, seasoned it and set off to make some real beans since I just happened to have a bunch of leftover ham. Dad took his bean recipe with him when he passed away, but I can remember the flavor well. I started doing a little ham-n-bean research and finally put together a recipe I figured would be a good place to begin replicating Dad's beans.

I started out with one pound of a great northern and pinto bean mix. Soak 'em in water over night. I chose those 'cause they were on sale and this recipe is all about being frugal. Dad loved The Frugal Gourmet.

Cook six slices of bacon right in the bean pot. This helps with the seasoning of the cast iron. Good cast iron needs to develop over time to become non-stick. Most believe it helps the flavor too. Remove the bacon, crumble it and set it aside.

Drain all but a smidge of the drippings, then saute about half a chopped onion and two cups of ham just until the onion is tender.

Then add some chicken broth. I happened to have about three cups handy in the fridge. Add water to what ever broth you have to equal six cups of liquid total. Add the crumbled bacon, the beans, 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic powder, one tablespoon of onion powder, one teaspoon pepper and two tablespoons of dried parsley.

Stir it once and leave it alone. You should not stir beans. I don't know why I just remember you're not supposed to touch 'em. Bring it to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer. Let it cook for a couple of hours.

I'm pretty sure it's a federal law that you have to serve it with cornbread. So mix up a batch of cornbread, bake it in a cast iron skillet and serve it with butter and a little maple syrup. The saltiness of the beans paired with the sweetness of the syrup is a match made in heaven, let me tell ya.

This time The Engineer claimed it was the polar opposite of the beans he ate years ago. He claimed he'd eat these beans every night of the week. And even went as far to say they were better than the beans we had at the smithy. And I'll even throw in a confession here. These beans are even better than my Dad's!

So, how do you eat your cornbread? Plain or fancied up?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I'm connected to you today via DSL. I cannot even begin to describe, for there are no words to adequately describe, how happy I am right now. If you know me well, you know how words cannot describe how much I dislike my current satelite provider. We've had the horror story of all customer service horror stories when dealing with that company. We're so far out in the boonies we thought we were doomed to a life of dealing with the evil empire called HughesNet. We were skeptical when the phone company sent us some junk mail claiming they could provide DSL service all the way out here. We'd been through that before, getting our hopes up by the sales staff only to be shot down when the techies got involved. But always the optimists we called and signed up. The technician called today and instead of saying "Sorry miss we can't install the service" he said "Everything is ready to go, plug in the modem and have fun surfing." I batted my eyes like a frog in a hail storm, stunned by what I had just heard. I didn't believe him, but now I'm surfin' at mach speed! Yahoo! I may need to install a seatbelt in my easy chair!

Gettin' Er Done

The craft room is about as organized as it's going to get. I'm pleased with it considering all the furniture and shelving, etc. was recycled from our last house. Back when I had the most fabulous craft room ever. So fabulous it was drooled upon by all who entered and was even published in a few magazines. *sniff* Dang, I miss that room. Well, really I miss the free time I spent in that room. That was life before homeschooling. But I wouldn't give up what I have now for the world, let alone that room. This room will do just fine.

I wasn't able to fit all of my books and stamps in, but the engineer says he'll build some bookshelves to fit in that hallway you can see on the left in that top photo. I wasn't able to set up a spot for my ironing board to stay up all the time either, but that's okay. Now I have a legitimate excuse for not ironing clothes. It would just be too much work to drag that old board out. But if I'm buying a stack of fabric for a quilt, then that would be another story. ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Busier than a one-eyed cat watchin' two mouse holes.

The man came to fill up the fuel oil furnace. I didn't pass out when he handed me the bill, but we immediately called someone to come blow in some more insulation in the attic. They'll be here Friday. Of course it's not just that easy. I needed a light fixture installed in the closet. You know, just one of those old fashioned pull-the-string kind. Better to do it now than after all that insulation is in the way. The engineer spent some time recently sealing all the duct work, too. We need to put the storm doors back up and try to get ahead of that horrible wind whistling noise we suffered through last year.

Then there's the entire reorganization of the upstairs. We're installing carpet in one of the bedrooms. The one that served as my sewing room. After it's carpeted it will become the master bedroom, freeing up the room we're currently using for a kiddo or two. So I've relocated the sewing room to the loft at the top of the back stairway. I've crammed all my scrapbooking and rubber stamping stuff in there too. Well, most of it. There's so much stuff it won't all fit. But luckily I'm using some of it up. On top of all the other tasks, I'm working on a family album that we need to present to the social worker when she comes to do our homestudy. She called today to schedule it. Now I have to get busy, finish childproofing and clean this house too...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bigfoot Spotted at Local Corn Maze...

No wait, that's not Bigfoot. That's me! Still a rare sighting considering I'm usually behind the camera, but I don't have big feet. Well maybe they're big considering my height, but you didn't really come here to read about my feet did you?

Have you ever been through a haunted corn maze? Neither have I, but my kid and all his friends and their families did Friday night. I volunteered to be brave and stay and make sure the campfire didn't die out. Would have hated for them to come back all cold and scared and not be able to warm themselves.

It's not that I was too scared to go in the maze after the hay ride. Nope. Those screams coming from the corn didn't drag up any unresolved issues of Steven King novels for me. No, I was just genuinely concerned about guarding our fire and belongings. Someone may have run off with our cider, or worse yet our marshmallows. Cause, you know, those criminal types are always out looking for marshmallows. I saved the day by not going in that maze.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Somebody laid an egg. A pinkish brown egg. It wasn't Beth, our "special" chicken who lays green eggs. (That's one of the reasons she's special.) Or Sammie who lays nice, pretty brown eggs. Nope, it was one of the potentially evicted. Problem is, I don't know which of the sixteen did it. So I don't know who gets to stay. I think we need to come up with a chicken cam so we can catch her in the act. Maybe we could broadcast it live right here. It would be like an online version of the game Clue. I could make little chicken costumes, Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Mrs. Peacock. Yeah, yeah, I can see it now. We could become an overnight web sensation!

Or I suppose it might be simpler to just keep them all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Little Dream House on the Prairie

My dream house sits just a stone's throw away from the blacksmith shop. It's wrap around porch just calls me to sit and snap some beans or something.

The cozy interior is furnished perfectly. Everything you really, truly need is here.

I'd move in tomorrow if the park staff would let me. My family laughs at that and claims I wouldn't last a day. But what they don't know is that I've been dreaming of this place since I was a little girl.

When I read the Little House books or watched the series on TV, in my mind I was Laura. Just standing inside this humble little abode makes me wonder if I didn't live in such a place in a former life or was it just the childhood dreams that make it feel so much like home?

I'd last longer than a day. The only thing I can think of that I've become too spoiled to live without would be a fan on those steamy August days where the air is so thick and still you can't breathe. But even then I could just take a dip in the pond to cool off I suppose. Yep, if it were just me, I'd be moving.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Blacksmith Shop

The village smithy, a place where men have gathered for centuries among the flames, heat, smoke and noise.

You won't want to believe me, but this is a brand new building. It's dedication was held just today with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Complete with a metal ribbon of course!

The craftsmanship is amazing. All the logs are hand hewn. As are all the buildings in this little village.

Each window is fashioned with unique metal crossbars. The doors sport hand wrought hinges and latches.

The forges consist of a raised brick hearth outfitted with bellows to feed the coal fire and a hood to carry the smoke away.

With a forge and anvil, hammer and tongs, blacksmiths can make almost anything.

Everything here is made from a simple railroad tie.

These men are some of the finest you will ever have the opportunity to meet. They are willing to pour their blood, sweat and tears into building an environment where the future may learn from the past.

And ladies, believe it or not, these big burly men can even cook up a darn fine meal. I've never had ham and beans so good!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Time Travelers

We are transcending time this weekend. Before first light this morning our time machine transported us across the picturesque Indiana countryside to a battlefield during the War of 1812.

Luckily, we didn't land directly in the center of the battlefield. We stood at a safe distance and watched the Americans win. Thank goodness, it would have made for an awkward teaching moment had they not.

After the battle we played with some of the local children.

And we studied many craftsmen and women working at their trades.

It was all I could do to resist the temptation to pull out my "letters of credit" to purchase everything they made. The time machine is small you know. But I did sneak in a beautiful wooden spoon and a small pair of sewing snips.

The kid made out like a bandit with all the primitive wooden swords available. I believe he enjoyed himself. I heard him mention something about it being "heaven". And that "it was the most excited he's ever been". And how "we have to go back every year". And how he "wants to do this when he grows up".

Yes. I believe, today, I witnessed a reenactor being born.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We Hit the JACKPOT!

Well okay, no not that jackpot. We won a chicken coop contest! You see, our friends over at Backyard Chickens run these contests every once in a while amongst all of us crazy chicken people who like to hang out there and we won the large coop category this time around. Now our coop will be on display in their coop gallery. How exciting is that? And if just the "coolest coop" title were not enough look at all the loot they sent us!

Now I just need to get the girls to live up to the wording on the t-shirt. LOL

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Eviction Notice

Dear Fat-Bottom Hens,

It has come to our attention that you have resided on said premises for over four months. If you will recall subsection B of the Front Porch Indiana Chicken Bed & Breakfast Agreement, the owners of said porch were to provide the bed and you hens are to provide the breakfast. To date, you have not provided said breakfast. This has caused a significant disruption in the supply chain and is causing the loss of business as the owners are unable to fulfill orders.

It is understood that every possible accommodation requested by you has been granted, whereby further delay of egg production is no longer substantiated. You are hereby notified that you have 30 days to begin production of said breakfast to pay for your room and board or you will be evicted.


The Management

"Did you understand a word she said, Maude?" "I'm not sure Gertie, but I think we're getting fed a special breakfast tomorrow. I hope it's pancakes."