Commander and I enjoy Homeschooling boys (Herogian, Hawk and Gluten), raising chickens, ducks, and dogs ( Penny and Casey), eating gluten free, surviving breast cancer, coach track and field, and loving God for every minute that He gives us to cherish our family.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Boys and birds

The color in our backyard comes from the birds. I thought I'd introduce you to some of them.
This is October. He is a male Banty Rooster with lineage from Buff the Mini Fluer and R-Fal a black Japanese Banty.
Herogian wants to show this one at the fair.

 This is Tiny Might. The runt that we helped out of its shell this sping. Another Banty crossmix.
 This in Panda Bear our first Japanese banty. The one who has protected our birds for the last 3-4 years. Well, his time is up, the other roosters are out to get him. He and R-Fal and Quailee have to be put in the berry garden every morning to protect them from the other roosters. They are out to kill him for his position as leader is over. I'm the sucker that goes out every morning and catches him and the other two before they get attacked off the roost and transport them across the yard, feeds and waters them, and puts them back in the coop after all the others have settled. I know, real sucker here. He's done such a good job for us, I just can't see letting the others beat the tar out of him, or , he flies over the fence and Penny and Casey try to corner him. We will see how this all goes, berry picking will be in full swing by the weekend. He attacks us too many times, raising my bristles and he might become teriyaki chicken. Wouldn't that be fitting?
 Here is Waddles and his dame Quackers. She is not laying anymore eggs for me. Poo. I really enjoyed them. They might end up as dinner - freeloaders. But they are sooo cute.
 This is Hawk. A seabrite banty. The miracle about this bird is that T13(Hawk) named it and it hasn't died. The poor kid has had every bird or hamster of his naming kill-over or be killed.
Here is Buff at the rock. He is a Mini Fleur and the father of October. Herogian would like to show him at the County Fair, too. Beside him is "Lucky" the only Pekin duck to be with us now. I'm hoping she starts to lay eggs soon. In the foreground is PeeWee. PeeWee is totally stuck on himself as king of the coop. "NUT-JOB" as Herogian has named him. With him is Comet. one of the chickens now laying for us. She has a twin somewhere in the yard. Have you noticed how many of these birds are roosters?

These are the ladies that have about two more months before they start laying eggs. Six total that I'm waiting on. There is also another new rooster - the white one. A Buff cross with Comet. We thought it was female for some time, she/he looked pretty with the white feathers growing on the legs. The cackeling try at crowing occurred yesterday.

THis is what we have enjoyed over the last two weeks. The third duck was for Father's Day.
The boys have deemed summer to be sleep in time. You can see that Casey has other thoughts about that.

Casey has turned out to be a great alarm clock.

Yes, there is a boy under there, somewhere.

Have a great day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Still here

It's been over a week since I posted. Where is time going? Out the window with those Kansas winds blowing this morning.

The summer is upon us, so that means we are busy with boys going to camp. T12 started Boy Scout camp yesterday. We guess he is still there, we haven't had any calls about them being blown to the next county, or washed into the Missouri River. We had a good storm going throughout the night.

Then there is VBS on its way into the schedule at the end of July - actually less than a month away. I'm trying to  help paint signs and make decorations for it this year. All three boys are supposed to have camp activities going on that week, but want to help with VBS. We'll see how that all pans out. The library might be getting a donation since they won't refund our fee for the class. With VBS in the air, I have the bug again to write another program. I hope to pull the other two programs out and see about submitting them to publishers. Just more on the plate to do.

T13 (Hawk) recieve an early birthday present yesterday. That kid is cool. He needed a bike. His yardsale bike just wasn't hanging together anymore. I told him that I'd help him buy it and he could work off the rest. He really seemed to want to purchase it himself. But if we waited for him to save up the other half, he'd be into the colder weather, and not have one to ride this summer. We were walking through the store with the bike when he stopped. (second thoughts have plagued him lately). He turned around and started to take it back. I couldn't believe we were going through this scenerio for like the fifth time this month. He finally told me that he thought he should save the money up first, then buy the bike, no matter how long it took him. He'd still help me with the extra chores to make the money. My initial thought was "are you kidding me? Then I thought what a cool kid. He's learned the lesson of saving up for something." THen I remembered that T12 and Herogian had both recieved the one large gift to their birthdays early. "Happy Birthday T13 (Hawk), if you want it and will ride it, the bike is your early birthday gift if you are okay with that offer."
The smile that spread across his face, the twinkle in his eyes, the squeezing hug. The hours he spent riding it when we got home. Priceless.
He even got me on a bike for a couple of laps around our neighborhood. I have been very leary about the roads since they did a halfa@@ job of repaving them in our neighborhood. They are now covered with loose gravel. I kept replaying my wipeout on the next road, in my mind,   when I thought about riding again. Well, that road over there was repaved correctly - with asphalt, not pebbles.  I thanked T13 (Hawk - His name is changing again) for keeping after me until I got on the bike. We had an enjoyable ride. At the back end of our neighborhood a creek runs under a bridge. A blue Heron was standing in the middle of the road. Beautiful.

It is time to get to work. I've got a list of jobs to get to today.
Have a great week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day (I know I'm late)

Yesterday was official Father's Day on the Calendar, we are just stringing it out a bit.
It started Saturday with Commander cooking two ducks on the rotisserie. That was his meal. The role reversal was perfect, I'll slaughter as long as he cooks.

Yesterday, T12 sorta gave him a gift, it just cost Commander some money. T12 let Dad have his DS game for $25. Now I've got to buy Commander another game for it so he'll leave my Bejeweled Twist Game alone - he's about to beat my top score of 851 thousand. Nooooo! can't let that happen.

I worked yesterday so I didn't get his cake made, so I'll do that here in a bit.

It has been wonderful having the Commander home and not traveling. As the boys hit the teenage years I'm realizing I really need his intervention with them. You can lead the horse to water but can't make him drink  - you know the saying. Well I've hit THAT point with the boys on some issues. I'm ready to jump on the back of the horse's neck and pull and push until the nose is in the water. UGHHH. So the Commander is going to be the one to keep the boys in line and Mom's stubborn streak in check. I can already tell it is going to be a tough few years.

Thank you Commander for being here. We love you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How to butcher a duck

There is not much information out there on the internet super highway, so I thought I'd add my two cents. The last two mornings have had a down right pioneer woman feeling to them. Starting the day off with butchering ducks and a couple of chickens by myself.
 *** got to put this in here *** kennel the dogs.
First of all the preparation is the key. I learned a lot from Homestead Neophyte - can't remember where I came across her blog, but it was helpful.
You will need something large to keep hot water in - it needs to be in the 140 degree range. The large ice chest got this job.
Next you need large pots of water on the stove getting the water to 140 + degrees. I even used the tea kettle so that I could quickly put hot water into the ice chest and let it steam inside.  Also have a bucket of cold water off to the side - 10 gallon works great.

Next, you need a prepping table. We have an old table outside, so I staple gunned trash bags over it to have a clean surface. The large plastic cutting board, axe, and knives waited here.  Also gather up some twine and a rope with a piece of wood tied into the end.
Then get the 'A' frame ladder out and off to the side with a lined trashcan under it. From the woodpile, I was able to find a chopping block which I nailed two nails about 1 inch a part and left 1 1/2"s of the nails sticking up. This is to help trap the birds head.

THe night before, I put the ducks into a large dog kennel and left them in the shed. This way they can empty out their system without drinking water or eating any more food. This helps to keep the gutting process cleaner.

After the hot water has been added to the ice chest, I  went into the shed for the rope. Make three loops in it and have it ready (on your arm)  to slip over the birds head as you pull it out of the cage and cinch it down over the wings. Keep hold of that head! Reach under and grab the feet and carry the bird to the chopping block.

Lay the neck between the nails and then tug backward until the head catches. Being a lefty, I had to kneel on the bird, keep hold of the head with the right and then chop. If the first strike isn't a good one, don't stop. Get the birds head off as quickly as possible. Grab the bird around the body and wings and hold it over the trashcan with the neck down inside so that it drains out. While trapping the bird, once it quits twitching, between my knees, I used twine to tie the legs together. Then take the rope off the wings, slip the end with the wood between the legs and carry the bird to the chest of hot water. The bird will float. Use a stick, the ax, one of the knives - something to push the bird down and roll it over in the hot water. Believe me, you don't want to touch. Keep the bird in there for a minute.  This is a good time to move the trash can back to position under the 'A' frame ladder.
As you move the bird around in the hot water you should see some feathers coming off .  Pull the bird out and hang it on the 'A' frame ladder.  I hung the bird at a height that was easy for me to pluck feathers. If the temperature of your water was hot, they will come right off.  I don't plan to save our feathers, so I just threw them into the trash can.

AFter plucking the bird, take it to the cutting board. Your main object is to cut around the vent and the oil gland on the back end of the tail. There is a lot of fat on a duck, so it makes it rather easy to cut. Don't slice through the intestine. For gutting, nothing works better than working your fingers up and around the rib cage to rip the lining tissue free. Before completely finishing this process, I flipped the bird around and cut the neck off at the shoulders, this frees up the esophagus and trachea so that when you pull the stuffing out the other end it can all come in one connected mass. Make sure you scrape your fingers into the rib cage to get the lungs.  Using a sharp knife at the knee joint, cut, then break backwards and cut through the rest. The wings can be pulled to the side then chopped off.

After pulling out  the insides and discarding, I dunked the bird back into the hot water for a minute to help clean it.  From the hot water it went into the cold water in the 10 gallon bucket. I continued to pluck pin feathers as the body temp quickly cools down. AFter I finished with the plucking, I took the bird into the house, placed it in one of the empty pots and dumped ice onto it with cold water. It sat there while I did clean up outside, so the dogs could be free to run again.

I hope this helps someone.
Commander will be putting the birds onto the grill this afternoon.
I can't wait.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What a day

The last 24 hours have been up and down. Literally. The boys and Commander spent about 8 hours at Worlds of Fun riding roller coasters. They arrived home after midnight. The boys were wound up. Four boys (Cam was staying the night) were telling me about their night all at once.  The excitement in their voices, faces, was refreshing. They headed off to bed with their heads still spending. Literally. (twice) T12 shows up in the bedroom at 3:30 am. 'Mom, my head won't get off the roller coaster, I can't sleep. Can I try sleeping here. He wanted to sleep in our bed. For a moment or two I think I let him. Sleep haze was heavy around us. THen I reaized there was no way I would get any sleep if he stayed where he lay. I sent him to his own bed instead of where they were camping out in the game room. He had forgot he had his own bed to sleep in.
The next morning I got up to take care of the animals and then get ready for church. I planned to leave all the men in the house sleeping. They needed it before they leave for camp. The dogs followed me out the check on the birds. Izzy is really interested with the chickens. She must have jumped against the fence and nocked the hook off, for the gate leaned enough for her to squeeze through (she's so thin - Just ribbing Alyssa) As I lean over to collect eggs, I hear a scream behind me and enough to know that something isn't right in the coop. I turn around to find Izzy has pinned Panda Bear - the mean ole rooster to the floor. I had to twist Izzy's collar enough to get her to let go. I didn't want to grab her mouth. That's words from experience.She let go and Panda went out the door. I got her out of the run. That was enough trouble with the gate. I bought a metal gate this afternoon and installed it. It looks a lot better, locks better, too.
Heck, if we are going to change the gate then we should change the fence, right? Well we decided the birds had too much of the back yard. We moved the fence from west to east at one corner and turned it north to the back fence. They now have the east half of the back yard, THe archery range is in the middle and the garden is still on the west side.  The boys were happy. They have been shooting bb's, airsoft, throwing knife practice and sling shot practice in the back. Now they have more space.
We dropped Cam and t12 off at camp. All the way up there and back I worked on writing another VBS program.  It was such a fast trip, since I was searching HIS word for the right stories. It will be fun to lay out another program.
This one is called A.S.A.P (2).    I'll tell you more later.

Have a great week.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pictures of stuff

Here is Izzy and Casey. They are finally getting along. Ony took about 32 hours. Young Family  I'm going to fatten up your dog. She is way toooooooo skinny. Just thought I'd let you know. I'm not giving her the raw hides either, they cause urine infections around this house, so we won't take the chance. She is doing great. She sits and stares at the birds (chickens and ducks) until it is too hot to be out side in a fur coat. Then she and Penny go after the lightening bugs after dark. Hilarious.
 T12 is taking after his MUM. How Awesome? Killed the snake and chopped its head off, then sliced it open to check out the organs and what it ate for its last meal. Too bad I was at work for this one.  That's the snake head in his right hand.
 T12 again, this time in Casey's kennel. This is one of the smaller pet taxi's for small dogs and cats. Houdini. Thought about leaving him in there. That way he'd at least stay out of trouble for the day.  Twelve year olds are worse than 2 year olds - they know better.
Commander and the boys plus 2 friends are off for  World's of Fun this afternoon. With their Homeschool I.D. School Cards we made a few months ago, they should be allowed in at a cheaper price tonight. We will see. This is the first night that W.of.F. is open until Midnight. You know how long the boys want to be there - midnight.
Tomorrow after church we will be taking two of these boys to Mission Lake Church Camp for a week. They are going to start the week off tired. Thank goodness Chris.C.  gets to put up with them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Flat on my back again and Turtle Burgers

I've got to grow up and quit doing things down on the floor, in the sand, in the dirt, my favorite spots to do stuff. My back can't take it anymore. Monday, I squatted down in the sand at P.E. volleyball class and that was when my hips slid out of alignment. It hurt so bad that I called the chiropractor that day. I usually try to get it back in line myself, not happening.  Thank goodness I could get an adjustment that day ( I've been seeing Chiropractors since high school, can't stand without them).  So I've spent the last couple of days down in the back,  heating, stretching, milking it for all it's worth with the boys, unable to work until Wednesday ( 1 -8 was a long shift). I'm glad to have the next couple of days off to loosen up a bit more. 

We have a visitor at our house for the next two weeks. IZZY is back - Penny's sister. The only problem (still the first day) is Casey. He is being a pain in the tooshie(  right arm exactly)  with his male dominant, this is my house only,  I'll bite anything bigger than me, mentality. For now, he stays with me, or on leash. I can also see Penny weaving her way between Herogian and Izzy - this is my boy. Izzy is pretty cool, she's not backing down to the little Napoleon.

This is from a friend at church. I've never seen food made this way. I'd like to try it someday soon. Don't hold your breath on that one, though.
                                                                       TURLTE BURGERS

She made hamburger patties, wrapped in bacon, hot dogs stuck in for body parts. Split the feet, point the tale. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Busy fast week

This week was busy, fun, disappointing, frustrating, eventful, and fast.
The guys returned from dropping Herogian off at camp. I went to work about an hour later. Hi, Bye. A game of flashlight tag that night ended when T12 tried to jump to the top of a retaining wall  made of large bricks around the flower garden. He caught the corner in his shin.
I'm told about it Monday night when I get home from work, but it wasn't until Tuesday when I was going to help him clean it out again that I realized just how bad it was. I thought I washed out a sliver of bone. THat's when I started to feel whoozie. Off to the hospital we go after confirming with Commander that I wasn't over reacting. The doctor said that they wouldn't be able to stitch it up since we waited, then he thought about it after looking at the hole, and said he wouldn't be able to stitch it up anyway, a chunk was missing. The bone thank goodness wasn't involved. T12 is working hard to keep it clean so it will heal enough for him to enjoy camps this month. I thought he did good when the nurse and I cleaned the wound out. I can still hear out of both ears.

We participated in picking up the flags at the National Cemetery in our area. Wow! Over 30,000 were placed. We picked up around 22,000 (the cemetery crew did 8 thousand the day before) We had two boy scout troops, and a smattering of parents and homeschoolers. It only took 2 hours. We were expecting 4-5 hours.

I hit the big 4_ today. I didn't expect Commander to remember with him getting ready for work this morning. So I pointed to his watch. He commented that  'he knew it was time for him to leave'.   No, that's not it. I traced my finger under the date on his watch. He jumped away from me and  shouted "HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!"  That's not it!  "UH, UH! then it hit him - HAPPY BIRTHDAY! What did I get you?"   You let me buy some new clothes and get a five pin sight for my compound bow.  What a guy.
The bad part for the day was the choice T12 made. You'd think being grounded from everything for almost a month would make you think twice before you chose that wrong behavior again. NOPE. Not with him. He fell right into it again. Restrictions will go back on until camp time. One day of freedom was all he earned. Very disappointing. He is definitely learning the hard way, like someone I know really well from my past. HMMMM.