Friday, June 16, 2017

Selling the Chicken Tractor and Chicken's New Home

Well folks, sometimes the best laid plans. . . 
Last year, I showed you a post about the chicken tractor.
To date, that has been my most visited page and has received the most pins.
I actually like it too; however, I'm going to sell it.
What I discovered is that it doesn't work for how I run my birds.
It was perfect for a while when "the girls" were young,
and I kept them pinned.
They got to follow a couple days behind the lambs.
As they grew and knew well where their home was,
the mobile coop wasn't necessary.
I could just lift it during the day so they could free-range all day,
then at night they would return to their tractor to roost so the need
for wheels/mobility was gone.
Then we had a Wowza! of a winter ~ the winter of winters.
We had 4-5 feet of snow at any given point for a good 4 months.
The tractor is only a couple feet high at the coop and 
about 4-4.5 ft. high at the house. 
I wasn't intending on giving them a heat lamp, but with subzero temperatures
for long stretches of times, I had to figure out a way to "rig up" a heat lamp
in a fashion that was both safe and effective.
If we hadn't had the winter we did, I would probably be keeping it.
the question then became what to do.
We are empty nesters - the kids have flown the coop~
(sorry, couldn't resist:)
The playhouse that once housed the toys and toddler activity
sat as a decaying storage for 'stuff.'
Here are a couple "before" photos.

So we went to work on it.
You can see there was still snow on the ground which made it a little more difficult to shuffle and sort the "stuff."
But one of the first things I did was cover those crazy colors 
with some left-over white.
Then came the real work.

(Too funny, Mr.LB kept a beard for winter since it was cold for so long.  He has since shaven so it seems funny to see him so furry.)
I also need to mention that this is reason one million, forty-two
why I love Mr.LB.
I had a ton on my plate right about the time 
"the Wees" were ready to emerge from their tote.
I get a different breed each year so I can tell how old they are 
simply by the breed.
Each group seems to get a name.
The Barredrocks were "the Girls."
(They are gone now - long sad story.)
The Rhode Islands are "the Wees." (They were wee ones but have grown.)

And, here are a couple "after" photos.
Sorry they are a little dark.
It's been rainy so my natural light is not as powerful as usual.
We have to run a cord for power which we don't do for summer.
It doesn't take them long to make a mess does it?
And here it is occupied~
Yes the shelf is crooked.
Number 4 thinks it's sooo funny to jump up there to roost.
Then she pretends to be all in a tither when I get her and put her in the coop.
We don't have the outside coop made yet.
For now I just go out and open the door each morning and
go out and close them in each evening.

So, while it's not my ideal coop, they are safe and come winter,
it should be much easier to offer them enough room and safe heat.
The few boards we purchased and the wire were not a huge investment, 
it made good use of the old playhouse,
and it forced me to go through and sort all that "stuff."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Flora Pioneer School Day

Oh, I can hardly wait to share with you.
This past weekend, we attended 
Flora Pioneer School Day.
Flora School
It is a fund-raising day to help maintain and restore the old Flora school.
Flora is a ghost town in the upper north-west corner of Oregon.
You can read more about the history here.
(They are having trouble with the site, but it has other resources and the history and other tabs are all still in good order.)
The first order of business in restoring it was to get a new roof on it
which they did.
Back of the school.

You already know I'm trying not to spend money.
This weekend, we did spend a little money; however,
I told Mr. LB, "It makes you feel good to spend the money."
It's a wonderful feeling of giving and supporting something good.
Keeping bits of the past alive and well preserved is important.
I'll just start showing the pictures,
because there are quite a few.
Mr. LB found the blacksmith directly.
Rip already knows it will be a lengthy conversation so decided to nap.
By the end of the day, he made this steak turner.
If you are interested in the blacksmith, he can be found on Facebook at
Rusty Hammer Forge

There were wagon tours of the town.
The person who actually did the speaking for the tour 
was the last student of the school.
The old church was just across from the school.
It's unfortunate there wasn't an effort to preserve it as well.
The cemetery was 1/4-1/2 mile up the road.

Back inside the school~
In one room there was a country store.

There were 4 or 5 looms for sale (amongst other smaller items.)
I did get the contact information for these.
If anybody is interested, just leave a comment, and I can respond via email.
This room was also the gym even though it was the size of a regular classroom.
The baskets were about 3 ft. from the ceiling.
You can see in the pictures, there is fencing over the windows for protection.
There was music.
They did a great job and played all day!
(with a bit of a break for lunch.)
This room was set up for pie and ice cream.
Oh yea, lunch!
Here, let me show you.
There was dutch oven chicken (1/4 of a chicken!)
That huge pot on the tripod is full of some of the best beans I've ever eaten.
There was also slaw, cornbread made with the corn and wheat that was ground about 20 ft. away by whoever wanted to give it a go, and fresh butter churned at the table right next to it.
It was such a beautiful day,
after lunch the musicians moved outside.
There was roping.
You can just barely see a red t-shirt behind the two gals.
The gal in the hat leaned over right as I took the picture.
Buuuut, it was so sweet.
There was a young fella 9-10 years old holding the rope by the hondo
trying to figure it out.
The fella who had been manning that station was over visiting with the farrier.
I held the dog and told Mr. LB he should go help him out.
He showed him how to hold the rope, then swing and throw.
That young fella practiced for about and hour - hour and a half.
He was "getting it" and was roping the dummy steer.
It was so good to see.
He really wanted to learn and stuck with it.
Speaking of that.
There were quite a few kids there, and I was sooo impressed. 
They were all polite, well behaved and just pleasant.
There were no "brats." 
Sorry, it's usually the parents who teach them, but some are pretty bratty.
Except here - it was such a refreshing realization later in the day.
Then of course after I loaded the pictures on the computer,
I figured out all the things I didn't get a picture of.
There was candle dipping, wheat grinding, butter churning,
wooden block stamping, beading, quilting, a cobbler, a couple of heritage piglets for the kids to see/pet, a quilt raffle, the farrier, and
I'm probably forgetting something, but you get the idea.
I also neglected to take a picture of the auditorium or entry.
In the library, they are working on a library for the community.
It was all so nostalgic.
We took Mrs. Calabash and camped at Troy.
If Flora is at the edge of the earth, Troy fell off and is dangling by a river.
Just out of Flora we saw these beauties.
Sometime back I showed you this barn quilt.
Well, we were in the same corner of the state,
 and this time found a couple more.

I reeeeally like this one.
It was a quick weekend, but completely enjoyable and beautiful.


Friday, May 26, 2017

An Odd Antique and Other Happenings

Sometimes it's just good to share a few of the little happenings
that really do make up life
but are not material for a full post.
I found this odd little rake looking thing a few years ago.
It was about $2 from an antique dealer who didn't know what it was.
I thought, "What the heck."
So I purchased the silly little thing in order to find out more about it.
I asked my father-in-law who is in his 80's.
The only thing he could come up with was a mustache comb.
But if it was for a man, why was the handle pink?
Even long ago, men's items were more masculine than that.
I've never seen another one. . . 
until recently.
It was part of an antique set, there was a brush, comb, and
brush cleaner.
I think this one was made in the "remembrance of Victorian" era 
when there was an item or specific utensil for each and every little task.
Heavens forbid use the comb to clean the brush!
Regardless, I was delighted to finally figure out what it was.

In that last couple weeks, I've been working on getting the garden in.
A funny tidbit was when I was planting green-beans,
I was rather rushed since my folks had stopped by so
then I was trying to get seeds planted so I could go in and cook dinner.
I had all the rows ready, just needed to place the seeds and cover.
I was bookin' right along placing seeds when I heard them~
The chickens were following behind thinking just how nice I was being.
Luckily they only got to about 3 feet worth
so I replaced the ones they gobbled up and shooed them off.
They had a good laugh about that.
We went for a drive Mother's Day.
Got stuck in the snow and had to get "creative" in order to get unstuck.
It was beautiful.
We didn't find a single mushroom.
So far the only mushrooms we've found,
I actually found when I nearly drove over them in our driveway.
There were 3 of them growing through the gravel??? Weird.
Last weekend was the spring Spin-In in Prairie City.
It was absolutely wonderful.
There is such a nice group of ladies.
We took Mrs. Calabash and MrLB took his dirt bike. 
(I need to do a post on how she turned out.)
He thought he'd look for mushrooms while I was spinning.
He didn't find any but he did find a forest fire.
He thought it must have been lightening strikes and 
spent a couple hours fighting it and getting it contained.
There is no cell service up there so once he was back in service,
he made a few phone calls and was finally able to report it.
Turns out, it was a prescribed burn.
They light the fire then leave it for a couple weeks 
before going back to check on it.
Most of that country burnt down last summer and now
the good ol' USFS is lighting fires and leaving them unattended.
So why are Hammonds in prison?
(Sorry for the angst, but that one just blows me away!)
Okay~ New topic.
I've hot jar canned a huge bag of oatmeal.
I don't eat it, but Mr. LB likes his trail mix.
This should last a veeeerrry long time.
This weekend, we will probably try to start getting our firewood.
I need to finish getting the garden in if we are to harvest more than weeds.
We've had a nice wet spring so far.  I'm hoping it lasts into June.
Hope you're all doing well.

Mountain Man Trail Mix

It is a bit of an oxymoron,
but my mountain man (Mr. LB) loves this.
When he's riding or fishing etc.
and needs to pack food along,
this is packed with both protein and energy to keep him going.
I'm sure if I could work bacon or steak into the mixture,
he would like it even more:)
Group One
5 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup almonds (or any nuts)
1 cup pecans (or any other nuts)
1 cup pumpkin seeds 
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups dried fruit 
(I used dried apricots [chopped,] craisins, and dried blueberries)
Group Two
1/8 cup honey
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Sea salt

In a large bowl, mix up the ingredients in group one.
Place on baking sheet(s) and toast in a 350 degree oven
for 5 minutes.  Stir and toast another 5-6 minutes.

Transfer back into the large bowl and mix in group two ingredients.
Place back on sheets, sprinkle with sea salt,
 and repeat toasting process.
Don't be surprised if little noses followed by little fingers
make their way into the kitchen.
It smells so good.
When you remove it from the oven,
pour it back into the bowl to cool.
If you let it cool on the sheet,
you will have to pick it off as it will stick.
Once cool, I like seal-a-meal bags
to keep it fresh and on hand for outings.
It makes about 10 cups of granola.
That is of course depending upon how much
disappears before you get it into the bags.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Different Way to Give

Have you ever wanted to give or do something charitable for someone
when misfortune struck?
Then because the scope of the situation was just enormous
and your inability to write a check that would alleviate the burden,
you end up doing nothing and in turn feeling guilty for the lack of doing?
Maybe that's just me.
Well, last February was pretty rough on the heart around here.
In addition to losing my friend Bob who was kind enough to share 
(and a year prior his wife,  Shirley who was one of my best friends ever,) 
we received the news that some friends' 4 year old little pixie of a daughter
was diagnosed with leukemia and was to the severity that her first treatment was scheduled three days later.
We of course sent what we could 
and actually continued to do so for a few months.
Isn't it strange how it seems so huge coming out of the account
but so insignificant when applied toward medical bills?
It was about that time that I was needing to get my hair cut.
But with all that was happening 
(There was more that happened that month, but we won't dwell on that.)
I just didn't have time.
Then the pictures of J. started being posted on Facebook 
as she began to lose her hair and gain that starchy, puffy appearance.
J's mom shaved her head so she wouldn't feel alone.
I was inspired to actually let mine grow.

I found an organization called
Wigs For Kids. 
Unlike other larger, more popular organizations,
Wigs For Kids doesn't charge for their wigs.
They do however require at least 12 inches of hair rather than 10.
That translates to extra growing time. 
This was actually a good 13" but was beginning to dry and curl a bit.
I realize that I'm not the only one to do this (thankfully!)
But when I hear folks say, "I have nothing to give," it makes me wonder.
We all have something to give. . . 
whether it be hair, time, encouragement, or yes even money.
I personally think money gets too much credit.
It amazes me how someone can lose a loved one in an accident
and people think the immediate solution is to throw money at it
when what the person probably needs most is a hug.
Everybody has enough to give a hug.

Little Miss J. is now on the road to recovery.
She looks more like herself once again and her hair is growing back.
Her trials are not finished, but she's made it over a huge hurdle.

So with all that, I would like to encourage you to ask yourself,
"What can I give?"


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Taking Notice

Over the course of the past few years, 
I have continually made and effort to work plastic out of our home.
I began with the kitchen since I really didn't want to be eating 
whatever mystery chemicals were being leached from plastic containers.
Some things are easier to replace or do without than others.
I haven't used saran wrap for years, but one of my favorite pitcher bowls
with handle and snap on lid - well,
I still have that.
So it's a slow process, but it is moving forward.
The easiest rooms to unplastic have been the living room,
the main bathroom, and our bedroom.
But it seems there is still some trace of plastic even in each of those.
The computer, the shower curtain, the alarm clock...
I have figured out not to get worked up over such things but just do what I can.
The computer is actually in a closet, so I can shut the door when it's not in use.
The shower curtain is needed and used.
The alarm clock - I would love to do without, but. . . 
Maybe it's just me, but I feel more grounded and relaxed 
in rooms without plastic.
There is a certain "calm" that is present when plastic is absent.  
Maybe it's the modern rush that plastics seem to trigger in our subconscious.
And so. . . .I continue.

Recently, I decided that our bedroom needed some attention.
Of all the rooms where one would want calm and repose, 
this should be up there on the list.
Not that there is a lot, but it's there, 
just hangin' out, sayin' "Hey look at me. Ha! I'm plastic so take that."
How rude!
Doesn't it seem odd how we don't really see what we are used to?
I was straitening up and actually noticed all the plastic in the closet.
Yep, in the closet.
I've de-cluttered the closet (my clothes) before.
It was when Mr LB said we to buy more hangers.
Instead, I went through my clothes and got rid of a bunch.
After that initial purging, it's much easier to get rid of clothes that are stained, damaged, or just don't fit right.
It seems funny now. 
Why was I so afraid to get rid of them?
How ridiculous.
Now even though there are far fewer clothes,
there are still too many and all hanging proudly from white plastic hangers - Ouch!
How did that happen?
The really sad part is a couple years ago when my grampa passed away,
Mom asked me if I wanted their wooden hangers.  
I said no so she took 2 black garbage bags to the thrift shop.
At the time we were getting so much "stuff" we just didn't want more.
The good news is I called the thrift shop.
Patty said, "Come on in.  We'll see what we can come up with."
So I went in and got wooden pant hangers - 
the good sturdy ones!
There were a few regular ones for shirts, which is what I needed most of.
There was also a basket of the ones that were crocheted.
You know the ones.
I asked what she did with them.
She said they usually go in the garbage - so I got them,
knowing what they were.
Once home, I began with the pants.
As I took each pair off the plastic and put it on the "real" hanger,
they gained something.
A couple pairs didn't even go back in the closet.
I don't have fancy, expensive clothes,
but there's dignity in being well cared for.
If I ever get to retire, half the clothes in there will go away.
Until then, I have office clothes and home clothes.
I'm not through the shirts yet, but have already eliminated about half dozen.
What about those crocheted hangers?
Well, I have scissors and have cut the yarn off 
to reveal the treasure hiding within.  
Some of them are wonderful reminders of times past.
It was a little tedious, but they were free so a little tediousness is okay.
I'm grateful for them.
I could go out and buy all new hangers, but I would be out the money and probably wouldn't have the same appreciation for them as I do this way.
Now when I walk in the closet, I notice - really notice.
It's strange how things invade our lives and we don't notice.
More and more, I'm trying to notice those little things and 
create an "intentional environment."
As I do, I take care of whatever it is and gain another level of peace.
That saying (cliche) "A place for everything and everything in its place."
There's wisdom in that.
Peace in it.
We still have a long ways to go, but each step closer lets us know we are headed in the right direction.
The less we have, the easier it is for that to happen.
Even using all these words, 
they seem inadequate to express the feeling I'm after.
But have you ever visited someplace, and upon walking through the door,
you feel like "Ah yes, this is it.  I'm Home."
You feel like you could just pick up your life and live there?
That's how I want our home to feel.

How 'bout you?
Is your home your sanctuary?
Or is it someplace you dwell?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.


PS~ About this time of year, I like to put a little cedar oil on a rag and run it along the bar of the closet and the underside of the shelf.  I also take my sweaters and put them in the dryer for a few minutes with a few drops of cedar oil on the dryer balls.

Friday, April 28, 2017

One Pan Wonder ~ Pesto Chicken

Ah yes, those meals that dirty only one pan.
Gotta love 'em.
One of my favorite is Pesto Chicken.
I will delve right in and let you get to cookin'.
First start by putting a generous amount of butter 
in the frying pan on medium heat.

(Note: this can be done in the oven and is equally delicious, but more difficult to take pictures as I go so I used the stove top this time.  If you use the oven, it would be a hot oven about 400 degrees.)
Then, add the chicken and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.
Once you turn it, wait until the second side is about half way done.

Then spread pesto over each piece.
The one piece here was thicker so wasn't quite ready.
Then add either sliced fresh tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes.
I have lots of diced and no fresh tomatoes at the moment 
so I used diced. 
This part really is better in the oven because 
the tomatoes become "oven roasted."
That translates to oh deliciouso!

Let the chicken finish cooking and tomatoes heat up.
That should give you just enough time to get your plate
and a good handful of spinach.
When the chicken is cooked through,
use a spatula to place it on the bed of spinach.
This is one of my favorite one dish wonders (meals using only one pan.)
I like to make extra in order to take some for lunch the next day too.

And one other little note:
I could probably eat pesto from the jar.
That song "You had me at hello" I sing as "You had me at basil."
I am hoping to make my own pesto this year if my basil cooperates.
That means I have to not eat it when I'm in the garden:)
That said, use as much or as little pesto as you desire, 
keeping in mind it does get milder as it cooks.

Also, I'm having some issues with photos and preview on my computer
so these photos are unmarked and unedited~ sorry.
I looked up the issue online, and there was some colorful language
describing the problem so hopefully I can get it figured out soon.