Friday, September 22, 2017

BABY DUCKS OF THE ECLIPSE

OK....so here is a farm story that got delayed after the events of Hurricane Harvey.  On Wednesday after the eclipse (and 3 days before the Harvey disaster), "J" from 2nd Family emailed me this photo.

SURPRISE!

She said that on the day of the eclipse... 


...one of their ducks came out from under the house...with eight little ducklings following along behind her!  They didn't realize she had laid eggs under there since she has randomly laid eggs around the property, and they were always unfertilized. She started to disappear for long periods of time, they thought she was flying up into a tree where she liked to roost.  Instead, she was apparently scooting in through some bushes at the back of the house and there, hidden from view (and safe), she did her thing and hatched these adorable babies.


A few days later she sent another couple of pictures.  Mom and babies are doing fine...


...though they are going to need a bigger pond, LOL!  

"J" said the ducklings LOVED the flooded yard for a few days, splashing around and swimming all over the place.  They were probably really confused when the water receded.  

They haven't decided what to do with them since they were not expecting eight new babies and aren't prepared for ten ducks roaming around. For now though, they are fine to stay there where 2nd Family can keep them covered and safe from airborne predators and they can enjoy the adorable cuteness of ducklings. If we were living out there full time, we might have become duck keepers.  2nd Man loves baking with duck eggs!  

They may end up keeping a couple of them and so we picked out two perfect names for them if they do:

SOL and LUNA...



Thursday, September 21, 2017

TREE SWING PLATFORM, INSPIRATION THURSDAY


Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!


OK, every once in awhile, we just have to go out on a limb (literally in this case) and find something that's just plain neat, setting aside the point that we might not ever get to make something like it. At least not in the near term and this is one of those things. This tree swing bed/couch is so awesome.  Wouldn't it be fun to just lay/sit on there and just gently swing back and forth in a breeze?

Do we have a tree this would work on?  Yes.  Do we have the other items?  No, not really.  Well maybe some wood and the tools of course, but hey, that's what inspiration is about, right?  Let's just save images of the things we like and then figure out a way to do it later on.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FIRST ALERT ATOM SMOKE AND FIRE ALARM

One thing that we recently realized we never got for the farmhouse was a smoke detector (or two).  Very important to have in ALL homes and now that we spend the night out there more often than we used to, we definitely need them.  

So a couple weeks ago, we were watching HSN.com and they had a great deal on a really powerful little smoke/fire alarm.  



First Alert ATOM smoke detectors
There was a special deal, a set of four of them for one low price with free shipping.  Couldn't pass that up!  Of course they also sell them on Amazon, you can click here First Alert ATOM Smoke Alarm to read about them.

A CO2 detector is important to have if you have a furnace or appliances that could generate that.  We are all 100% electric so no worries there.



They are tiny little things to be sure, but big things do often come in small packages.  These are photoelectric and can detect smoldering fires long before regular smoke detectors.  And of course it's by First Alert who has been making smoke detectors since about forever.  

Another thing we liked about them is the fact that they are small and unobtrusive.  With the low ceilings at the farm, it's nice to have something that kind of disappears into the ceiling. 


We're putting one in each bedroom, one near the foyer in the living room and one in the dining room off the kitchen.  It might be overkill in such a small house but hey, safety is safety and we got four in the package so...overkill it is!  Safety first!  

Good time here to do a public service and remind everyone to check the batteries in your smoke detectors and make sure they work. 
   

Monday, September 18, 2017

UNVEILING A NEW AREA


One of the things we're trying to do now is every year, we want to clear a new area on the property.  It could be a new permanent trail or widening an existing green space.  I don't always blog about it because progress from week to week can be slow and just showing a picture of a few feet of clearing is not that exciting, ha. These can take a few months depending on weather and other projects so we'd rather unveil it when all the hard part is done.

Here is (was!) this season's project:

Overgrown area before
It is an area with trees that we really wanted to clean up because it was so overgrown.  It's one of the few spots on the property (at least that we can get to) that has "regular" trees, no mesquites.  Mesquite trees are nice but they have thorns and they don't grow up straight and tall to create a shady area that you can walk under (at least not for a LOT of years).  It's hard to tell how overgrown it was in this photo but it was...and we saw its potential.  

The photo above was from last year.  


So I started clearing as I had time.  Sometimes I mowed around it if I could, taking a little bit more each time around on the mower.


Or THROUGH it, if I could do that.


Clearing the property
And I would slowly make progress.


Other times, I had to put on the boots and then dig around with (gloved) hands and take out all the discarded junk that was there from years past.  


All of this (and more) was in that patch above.  Concrete pieces, old power tools and metal poles.  Can't mow over those things at ALL.  Someone who lived there temporarily before us discovered that an overgrown area was a great place for dumping their "out of sight out of mind" objects. 

For us, not such a great place...it was more work.


Still other areas, like this after mowing, required me to get off the mower and grab a machete and some hedge clippers.


But slowly we saw progress, week after week...


And our space got bigger and bigger...


And in all directions...

Clearing brush before
Here's a great before and after set of pictures.  The above was before, about mid April.

Clearing brush after
This was this past weekend, after.  
Same spot, same angle.  

All clear!


And here it is looking at it from behind the house.


Here is another before and after.  Above is the before when I had cleared about half of it (June-ish)...


...and here is the after, from the same angle.  Not too bad for some part time weekend work on top of everything else we have to do out there.  It makes us happy to see progress like this, no matter how small. More happens than you might realize when I start going crazy with the mower, some tools, and have a little time on my hands, ha!

With the manual labor in this spot more or less done, now comes the most important part...the fun part.  It's all cleaned up and cleared and we have a WHOLE NEW spot to plan things for next year (or maybe later this Fall).

Shade loving plants?
A bird haven/sanctuary?
A spot for an "outdoor room", maybe a living room of sorts with chairs to relax in?

Time to dust off those "Inspiration Thursday" posts that we put up for this very reason.  One thing is for sure, we have our very own mini-forest now, ha!

TIME FOR PLANNING!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

VAMPIRE EGGPLANT

Was at the garden center yesterday, saw this and it made me laugh...


I'll never look at eggplant the same way again...LOL!

We're off to a local restaurant this morning for a wonderful all you can eat brunch. Hey, at least 2nd Man gets the day off from cooking, ha.  Update later!

Hope you are having a great weekend!


Friday, September 15, 2017

A RABBIT COMES TO VISIT

Bunnies galore!

As I was mowing recently, they appeared randomly all over the property. Of course the mower scared them off before I could get a picture but as I was putting things up the last time, this little guy or gal stopped to check things out.  

I slowly grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures. Thought I'd share!


"Hey there, I'm ready for my closeup!"


"Hey, wait, what's that over there?"


"Gotta go, bye, see ya later!"

We have also seen some baby bunnies around as well. We tend to think of Spring as the time for baby bunnies but I guess you can't stop a rabbit from, um, doing what rabbits do.  

Hope you enjoyed the bunny visit! 




Thursday, September 14, 2017

CLAY POTS IN FLOWERBED INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Clay pots in ground, image via Pinterest
As we look around online for ideas, we are always interested in different ways of doing our flowerbeds around the house and barn and shed. Not being there full time, we need some options that are more manageable and won't be overrun with weeds, easy to water and just overall stays neat looking. 

We've found the ideas of a gravel flowerbed with a bench...another with old used farm implements...and now this!  We've seen pots in the ground for mint to keep it contained but this is definitely interesting.  Here they used bulbs but really, we could put any sort of flower in a pot.  As they die off (annuals perhaps?) we could replace with seasonal flowers.  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SOUTHERN CHOCOLATE COBBLER RECIPE

Here is a recipe we've been doing for years.  I think my Mom gave me the recipe originally and she got it from newspaper somewhere.  We can't tell you how delicious it is, not to mention an unusual dessert to serve your guests. 

Pear cobbler, apple cobbler, berry cobbler, sure, but chocolate cobbler?  Oh yes...



Here are the ingredients:

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
3/4 cup milk
2 sticks unsalted butter (we used 1 once and it came out just fine, if you want to use less)
1 tsp vanilla extract

AND THEN

1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups boiling water



In one bowl, mix together the first batch of ingredients, sugar (1 1/4 cups), milk, flour and vanilla until blended... 



In another bowl, mix together the second group of ingredients, the sugar (the other 1 cup) and cocoa powder...



Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the two sticks of butter in a 9x13 baking pan and place it in the oven while it is preheating so that the butter is fully melted.




Once the butter is melted, take the hot pan out of the oven (be careful) and immediately pour in the wet ingredient batter.  DO NOT STIR.  That's right, don't stir.  It will bubble up around the edges...



On top of that, sprinkle the dry ingredients across the wet batter mixture.  You DO NOT STIR this either...



Gently pour the 2 cups of boiling water over the top of all and once again (yep) DON'T STIR.

Place back in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. We bake until the top crust is a beautiful golden color.  Each oven will vary so keep an eye on it.  Start checking around 30 minutes.

Baking chocolate cobbler
This is what it looks like when you take it out of the oven.  Magic has happened!  It has flipped and the crust and dough are on the top and the chocolate and sugar mixture has mixed with the butter and become a rich chocolate sauce on the bottom.

Let it cool for a bit and then dish it out...


Chocolate Cobbler
Here it is in all it's scrumptious glory.  It's oozy and tender and buttery and chocolaty.  You can serve with ice cream or whipped cream or a big glass of milk. We dare you to eat just one piece!

Enjoy!



Monday, September 11, 2017

COOLER WEATHER HARD WORK VEGGIES AND GOOD FOOD UPDATE

It was a somewhat "cool" weekend for a change,  but by cool we mean 80's instead of 90's.  But lows were in the 60's so the first part of the day was nice and there was a cool breeze during the afternoon.


Some of the lantana is bouncing back from the water overload and the butterflies and bees are enjoying it.  


This is our porch spider, the one that was near the wasp nest.  The wasp nest is now abandoned. I guess the mutual living arrangements were only temporary.  We have named her "Charlotte" and in honor of that, I turned her photo into a storybook drawing (click to enlarge, it looks kind of cool). 

The garden hasn't been touched in two weeks (three?) because of the weather, so if we're going to plant some Fall vegetables, it was time to clean it up.  


This is the herb bed.  Yep, Audrey the basil in the middle was about 3 inches high when planted.  Not sure what we did but she liked us and we enjoyed fresh basil (and the other herbs underneath all that, ha) until it was time to let her go. 

I started by pulling everything up, weeding, removing the straw mulch and tilling in new soil and compost.


This is the same raised bed after.  


Here is the last of the Summer harvest.  As I pulled up the plants, I plucked off these. Not sure how we managed to keep having eggplant (and these are a bit small) but we'll eat them anyway!

Raised bed garden
Here it is!

After several hours of hard work, this is what it looked like!  All beds are empty, soil turned, new soil and compost added, weeds pulled and it's all ready to go. Let the Fall planning begin!


We also might have some Satsuma oranges soon.  They are small but already getting some faint color on them.  The normal harvest date is October into December. We'll see what happens. 


When we got back into town, 2nd Man made pan roasted chicken with broccolini and mushrooms sautéed in butter.  Sigh.  It was so good. 

Now we just need more cool weather but the forecast for this week is low 90's. Things returning to normal, hope you all had a great weekend. 



Sunday, September 10, 2017

KITTIES AND GOOD FOOD

It's been a long couple of weeks.  The water has finally receded in most areas but the impact, sadly, will last for months and years to come for so many.

Yesterday was a good day at the farm (update tomorrow).  Today we are resting in town.  Work (and life in general) has been so chaotic, we just need a day to rest.  Happy animal and food photos as a distraction from the events here.   

Brisbane the cat
The cats however, seemed non-plussed by all the disastrous weather we had or the stress of the last few weeks.  This is Brisbane, chillin' in his bed, ha. 

Hobart the cat
Here is Hobart, he was needing a little TLC from 2nd Man and so he fell asleep while being held.  

Nope. Not. Spoiled. At. All.  

Spinach cheese scrambled eggs with bacon
And speaking of not spoiled, of course we aren't starving either, LOL!  

2nd Man made these scrambled eggs with cheese and spinach and then cooked some applewood smoked bacon (our favorite) for breakfast. 

Hope your weekend is going well!