Friday, April 30, 2010

The Changing Seasons

Our sunroom offers a beautiful view of the woods behind our house. We cannot help but take pictures from the windows and we have many of them. As I was looking through them a few days ago I was struck at how the different seasons each posses their own unique beauty. When we first moved in, the view look like this:

If you look really hard you can see my dad and A, our youngest. They were looking for the rabbits that live just over that hill.

Here is the picture postcard perfect image we saw that weekend in February when we had more than 6 inches of snow. It was so breathtaking we spent most of the weekend looking out the windows.
Here is the view from the sunroom now. Its hard for me to believe it is the same woods we looked at all winter because it looks so different.

In fact, the woods are all around our house. We are literally "in" the woods, as it completely surrounds the house. And because the house is in a clearing, it grows very thick right around the house. So thick, in fact that we could no longer see the dog house turned chicken coop from the house. We decided we needed to clear some of the smaller trees and brush so that we could see the girls. As you can see in the picture below, though we took out over 30 small trees, we barely made a dent in our little woods.

We decided to keep the trees since they were all quite tall and straight. I figure we can use them for a decorative fence for a cutting garden or, if I don't get around to that, we can always burn them next winter. We've also cut down a few larger trees and plan to cut a few more. We are cutting them to size and saving them in our wood pile for next winter as well.

And yes, I am sore. All the time. It feels great!!

The Pond on our Property

When we bought this property, we were drawn to several things; the woods, the streams and creeks throughout the property, the cabin look of the house, but most of all, we loved the pond. We share a nice sized pond with our next door neighbors, but have not had much opportunity to explore it because we moved here in winter. As the days have warmed, we have begun to explore and discover what our pond has to offer.
First, we've had the opportunity to see many beautiful birds including blue herons, a pair of wood ducks, egrets and others. We've also seen the typical pond life such as turtles, bullfrogs, minnows (my kids had NEVER seen minnows - I was a little sad when I made that discovery, but we have since played with many minnows) and tons of bugs. The boys also discovered crawfish in the pond yesterday and those Cajun boys are planning to catch and cook them up for their mama :)
The pond is also stocked and we've seen some fish big enough for catching so when the weather cooperates (we are expecting severe weather for several days), we will do a little fishing.

What else should we be doing to utilize this pond to the fullest? I've never lived anywhere near water, so I don't really know all that a pond has to offer.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Where I've Been and Chicken Update

I just turned on my computer for the first time in almost 2 weeks. Its been a wild few weeks. My grandfather, who had been ill for quite some time, became critical about 2 weeks ago, so we went home to Louisiana to see him. It was bad and we knew he didn't have much time left. We came home on a Monday and he passed away that night, so we headed back for his funeral. He was a veteran of WW2 and his funeral was the most beautiful one I have ever seen. The military presence was so respectful and the ceremony so beautiful. The soldier who played Taps was obviously very talented - it was so beautiful, and when they presented the flag to my grandmother, the soldier presented it "from a very grateful country" which brought tears to all eyes. Just beautiful.

When we returned, there was so much catching up to do. Our girls (what I call our hens) were still living in a cardboard box in our sunroom. When they were babies, it took days for the box to get soiled and smelly. Last week, they could soil up and smell up their box in hours! Our girls are getting big! So, we needed to get their home built. We decided to convert the kennel/ dog house into a chicken coop/ run and it is working beautifully. The girls love it and run around and fly around to their hearts' content.

Yesterday, my SIL (who has those "stray" chickens and a rooster in her yard) called me to say that her chickens hatched babies and would we like them, too? Woot! There are 2 hens, one rooster and 11 chicks, plus the one hen is still sitting on eggs. I'm sure most won't survive, but I'm pleased that we will have a few more and that the hens know how to hatch and raise chicks. I'm hoping these can be a source of meat birds for us (until I had chickens, I always thought I would be squeamish about eating what we'd raised, but now that I've had some, I know we could do it!!). We are hoping to have the new birds late next week, so I will post pics when/ if we get them.

There are so many other updates, that I am going to make separate posts. Hopefully, I'll be able to post more tomorrow.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Farmer's Market Haul :)

We went to the farmer's market in the nearest big city this past weekend and met many wonderful farmers we had not met before. We met a grass-fed beef/ lamb farmer who also raises pastured chickens. We bought eggs from them and got on their waiting list for beef.
I didn't get many pictures, but I did get a pic of these beautiful eggs.

We also met goat farmers who make cheese and also sell milk. This time, we tried their Greek Feta (so delicious) and some of their goat milk (my children LOVE goat milk). We also met a strawberry farmer, some farmers who grow lettuces and such and we bought a fig tree from a farmer. It was so great to get back to the farmer's market!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Its Strawberry season!!

We've been eating lots of strawberries and now that we are starting to get tired of eating them fresh, I'm starting to look for ways to preserve them. We made a batch of strawberry jam (5 half-pints and 1 pint) which will be all the strawberry jam we could possibly eat in a year. We are going to freeze some whole for smoothies and make fruit leather out of some. Hopefully we will also have the opportunity to go to a U-Pick strawberry farm in the next week or two. In the picture below, you can see the jars of strawberry jam and also two jars of something else.
Those are two pint jars of red onion pickles. Well, technically, the Ball Blue Book calls it Vinegared Red Onions, but we just call them pickles. We (especially Hubby) like these on sandwiches and salads. Yummy!

Isn't that pretty :)

I have a couple of questions for comments. First, do you usually do anything else with strawberries to preserve them? The only other thing I can think of is maybe strawberry syrup, which I think would be nice in lemonade. My second question is are you preserving anything now?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's Happening Around the Little Cabin

Things are blooming here at the Little Cabin. Its been so fun because we are discovering that we have all sorts of beautiful things. For example we have


beautiful dogwood blossoms,

and lots of Redbud trees.

Here is a picture of two cuties, Indiana and hubby.

And speaking of cuties, looks what we got today.

There are 15 of them - 5 Americana, 5 Dominicker (they are the black and white checkerboard looking chickens) , 3 Rhode Island Red and 2 Leghorns. They are approximately a week old. We are having such fun with them. Already they are showing signs of personality and some of them are even flying around the brooder (watering tub). One of them, an Americana, has already figured out how to jump/ fly out. Better finish up the coop as soon as possible.

This one has been named "Hoppy" by the kids.

The four adult chickens we were hoping to have this week will have to wait a little. They are actually living on my SIL's property but she did not buy them, they just showed up one day. She tried to see if they belong to someone, but no one is claiming them. They are foraging for all of their food and have survived there for over a year. Since they live in a neighborhood and the rooster is a problem with the neighbors, she is trying to get rid of them. We hoped to have them here, but they are very good at avoiding capture. We plan to continue trying to catch them.

Some of the garden plants are coming up - more sweet peas, yellow bush beans and potatoes are up as are spinach and some lettuce. There are blueberries on the bushes, strawberries setting on the plants and wild blackberries growing everywhere. I am hoping to get a second garden bed put in this week. I also bought two heirloom tomato plants. These will go in that second bed. I plan to only grow a few tomatoes and get most of what I am going to preserve at the farmer's market this year.

Well, enough blogging - there are dishes that need to be done. :)