Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who Said Vanilla Is Boring?

As you may know (or not), I'm a tightwad. I just hate spending money when I don't have to. I decided to try to make vanilla extract since the real stuff is so expensive and the fake stuff doesn't taste as nice.

Here's what you need: vodka (or some other mild tasting liquor- some people use rum), vanilla beans, a sealing jar, a knife, and 8 weeks. That's it.

The recipe calls for 3 beans per cup of alcohol. My leftover syrup jar holds just over a cup of vodka, so I used 3 beans.

Cut the beans lengthwise. I also cut mine in half since my jar is short.

Put the beans in the jar an shake shake shake! You can see the little vanilla bits floating in this picture.

Store the jar in a dark place and shake every now and then. After 8 weeks it'll be ready for use! I'm so excited to use this, I can hardly stand it! I'll report back in 8 weeks!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First Project Finished

I finished one of the two knitting projects I was working on. The legs now have a body! I'm pretty sure the person I made this for doesn't read the blog so I feel pretty safe showing you.

I knitted another Fuzzy Lamb for friends of mine who are expecting a baby girl this summer!

I hope they like this sweet little lamb.

Think they look alike?

The pattern is Fuzzy Lamb by Barbara Prime. I used Paton's Classic Wool worsted weight yarn (in for the main color and Maggi's Aran Tweed wool yarn for the contrasting color.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I'm a slacker! Blogging slacker, that is. There hasn't been too much to blog about lately. I've been busy with life I guess, just trying to keep up with everything!

The past few nights I've been knitting again. Finally! I have to be in the mood to knit, and I'm definitely in the knitting mood right now. I'm working on gifts for two people.

This one is for my former boss and his wife (and their little one on the way!!). I don't want to tell you what it is just yet...but the picture shows some body parts...and arm and a leg to be exact! Or, to be more appropriate, I guess it'd be a front leg and hind leg!

One of my best friends and her husband are moving next week. She got accepted to the vet school on Grand Cayman Island!!! I'm going to make them a gift as well, and it has to be done by Saturday!!! They're having a big party and everyone is going to be there (including my former boss and his wife, so the above gift also has to be done by Saturday!). I think I'll be knitting every second of my spare time until then!

I even brought my knitting to work so I can work on it at lunch. I really wish I could just knit instead of work, but I can't. Darn!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Giveaway!

One of my favorite blogs is having a giveaway for a nifty apple peeler!! Go check it out and enter to win!! Backyard Farming Blog! You can enter until April 19th.

Chickie Babies!

Remember way back in Marhc when I mentioned a friend I met on Backyard was going to hatch some eggs? Well, they hatched! Eighteen little fuzzy butts hatched last weekend!

Look at this little guy (or girl)! He has feathered feet!

Another cutie!

You can already see a beard forming!

Group shot!
My friend is coming over with her kids this weekend to drop off some chicks. Her kids are also going to feed the baby goats, which they didn't get to do last time because it wasn't feeding time yet. Hopefully they can milk June while they're here too!
Oh, and I'm going to be setting eggs in the incubator on Saturday! Hopefully I'll have around 30 to set!
**And don't tell my chickens I'm telling you this, but I found a new broody hen with a nest in the big hay feeder! But don't tell anyone I told you because I don't want to jinx it. We've got major broody hen issues here!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random Rambling

I made a map of our place and I thought I'd share it with you. I also thought I'd share some of my inner thoughts with you. Nothing deep like, "I wonder if there ever really be world peace.?" But more like, "Can I afford to raise pigs?" Stuff like that.

First, I'll explain the map. The blue line shows our approximate property line. The green blobs are the gardens. The orange line shows the sheep/goat fence. The yellow square is the chicken coop, and the pink square is the sheep/goat shelter. The red outlines are proposed pen areas. The small one would be where the rabbits go, and the larger would be where the pigs go.

Ok, now for the rambling part. Let's start with the turkeys. I am getting in an order of 20 turkeys the last week of April. I need to figure out where I'm going to keep them. I'd like to be able to have them free range in the pasture with the chickens. I need to build them a small coop though so I can lock them up at night. I'm not sure where to put the coop. Maybe I should put it on the south side of the chicken coop. Or maybe on the south side of the sheep shelter so they're not so close to the chickens? I'd also thought about making a pen on the back side of the garage, but then they'd have to free range in the yard and not in the pasture. Hmm. Decisions, decisions!

Ok, now on to the rabbits. I've been wanting to raise meat rabbits for a while. They're small, easy to raise, and provide lots of meat for a family. I need to find a breeding pair (working on that) and build cages. I'm pretty sure the cages will be fairly simple to build, and hopefully inexpensive. They can eat garden scraps and I'd love to build a pen for them to be on grass too. I just hope it's worth raising and processing them. I'm sure it will be. Won't it? Anyone?

Now let's talk pigs. I've been dying to raise pigs for several years now. Well, not dying, but perhaps yearning. Or striving. Or hoping. I just think that pigs would make good use of extra veggies, eggs, and milk. They'd get to market weight fairly quickly, and then we could keep one for ourselves and sell the other one. I'm just not quite sure about them. I've worked with pigs before and they were on the farm where I worked in college. I'm just wondering if it's worth putting the time and money into them or if it'd be better to find someone else who raises pigs and just buy from them.

I also don't know how much more I can pile on my plate without losing my mind, ya know? I mean, it's fairly easy to do chores in the morning before work. I can feed the baby goats, milk June, and feed everyone else in about 20 minutes if I hustle. Soon the kids will be weaned, but then I'll have turkeys to feed. I could probably feed the pigs and rabbits in the afternoons only and save some time on morning chores....but what if I need to feed them twice a day?

I tend to over think things, but then I tell myself I better think about it some more so I'm not blindsided because I didn't think about things enough! See, this is exactly why I need to be able to stay at home. My pesky job gets in the way of all my house work/hobbies! Too bad we need the money and benefits.

So any opinions? If anyone has anything to add for me to ponder, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Oh My Gosh!!!

I'm a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman. She's got an amazing blog and she's pretty famous now! Well, definitely famous in the blogging world and getting more famous in the "real" world every day! I just love her humorous posts about life on a ranch with 4 kids and dogs and cows and horses.

She's been doing photography contests in her Photography section lately, and last week I entered a picture in the Macro challenge on a whim. She chose my picture for Round 1 of her selections! I just can't believe out of ALL the submissions she got she actually liked mine enough to put it in round one!!!

Here's the pic!

I took it over 2 years ago. I can't believe she picked my photo, taken with an $80 point and shoot camera. Did you see all the rest of the gorgeous photos?! Amazing!

Purl Gets a Haircut

Lets see the before picture...


Is there a sheep in there?

And after!! She looks much smaller now!

I'm sure she's more comfortable now. She had a good sized fleece. Speaking of which, Artsyfish, I have a fleece for you! If you could email me your address I'll send it on its way!

Purl also got a break this weekend. It was weaning time for the lambs! It's been 8 weeks already, can you believe it? Hard to believe they went from this:

to this in just 8 weeks!

The little ewe lamb, Poppy, will be ready for her new home pretty soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gardens Everywhere

Yesterday our heat wave was due to be interrupted by a cold front coming through. I wanted to hurry up and get the tilling done before the rain so we could return the tiller (we were borrowing it).

David, Devin, and Joey (David's little brother) were all helping out. I was tilling while they spread the compost. Devin took a turn on the mower while David was busy with something else. He's getting good at driving it!

This is the new Vine Garden. This will be where the pumpkins, gourds, and possibly some flowers will be planted.

I also tilled up a front corner of our lawn. I'd like to plant it with some perennials like black-eyed susans, purple coneflower, shasta daisy, and perhaps some Knock-Out roses or maybe some other low-maintenance flowers. I'd also like to put in something decorative with our house number on it.

Here's the main veggie garden. I tilled it up last weekend and have been adding things to it little by little.

From left to right, the first row is swiss chard (that returned from last year!), onions, garlic and a short row of onions after the garlic, peas, and cabbage. I also planted a row of carrots and 4 short rows of potatoes.

The peas are doing really well.

The garlic is a foot tall already. I'm really hoping those little bulbs are forming under ground!

The onions are really growing like crazy.

I wanted to show you one of the flowerbeds near the side porch. I planted some gooseneck loosestrife last year-two or three plants. And now....look at all those baby plants coming up! It really spreads like crazy. I'll be transplanting some of it to the new front flowerbed.

More gooseneck loosestrife!

Here are the seeds started inside. I planted these pots of brussels sprouts, swiss chard, and broccoli raab on the 3rd!

This tray has zinnias (top of photo), hollyhocks (middle of photo), and shasta daisy (bottom of photo).

This one has broccoli and cauliflower (top), celery, peppers, basil (click on the photo to enlarge it and see the cute little basil plant), and a few more hollyhocks.

Now I really need to find the rest of my garden motivation and get some more stuff planted! The broccoli and cauliflower definitely needs to go in this weekend. I'm so glad the weather broke. I mean, it's nice to have warm weather after the winter we had, but several days of 90* weather was too much too soon! Now it's going to be sunny and 70* for the next week! That's perfect, if you ask me!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

It's my birthday today! I turn the big 2-9! The last year of my 20s. Scary! My 28th year was amazing, probably my best year yet. I can't wait to see what my 29th year brings!

I wanted to show you some of the wonderful presents I've gotten from my family!

You may remember the goat milk stand my dad made for me! I use this twice a day every day, and I LOVE it. I can't imagine not having one now! Thanks Dad!

My mom made me this lovely little wall quilt. It's entirely hand sewn! You can't see it in the picture, but the stitches are so perfectly tiny! Plus, she stuffed the sheep so they poof out just a bit! I love it, and it looks great hanging in our mudroom so you see it as soon as you come in the house!

My brother gave me this diffuser set. It has three different jars so I can put them all around the house and smell the wonderful apple cinnamon fragrance. I love walking by them so I can smell it. Thanks Chris!

My sister knitted this pillow for me. The ears are 3D! I just love the blocky little sheep and the nice punch of color the pillow gives! Thanks Becky!!

I'm so grateful to have such a great family!! I'm not sure how I'll spend my day today. David teases me and says I think today should be a holiday. That'd be great! Unfortunately for the rest of the world, it's just another day. I have a long meeting at work, but hopefully when I get home we can relax and have fun doing something. I think my birthday present to myself is going to be a stainless steel table I found on Craigslist. I can use it for potting plants, processing chickens, and much more I'm sure!

29! Wow. Exciting!

Monday, April 5, 2010

April Already?!

Wow, it's been 8 days since my last post! I've been pretty busy. My sister (and kids) and my mom came for a visit last week so I didn't have time to blog. We had a great visit and I really miss them already!! I'll post more about the visit later (but click on the link to Becky's blog because she posted a few pictures today). Tonight I wanted to post a quick update on the "twerps" from last post.

If you remember my rant last week, the sheep were busting out of the temporary fencing. Well, this was my fault really. Turns out the fence was grounding out because it was hitting the wire mesh poultry fence, so there was hardly any juice going to the fence itself. I remedied it in a jiffy and we've not had any escaping sheep lately! Hooray!

They've been grazing down the back yard steadily for the past week. Today I fenced in a new area for them on the side yard. It has a ton of grass, so they'll be here for a few days at least. I only bring them out in the temporary paddocks when I'm home, just in case.

They were very happy.

I love hearing them munching away.

Other exciting news....

We're the proud owners of a very nice John Deere 318 garden tractor now! David found a really good deal on this, and we've been desperately needing a mower. We limped along last year on a hand-me-down riding mower but it finally bit the dust. This 318 should last us for many years to come! I even got a free pink John Deere hat. :-)

This little work horse can even run a tiller (it has a three point hitch and a regular pull behind hitch), a front end loader, and a snow plow. Now we've got to save up for implements. :-)
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