August 30, 2012

Making Do With My Lawn Mower

One of the things Dan and I have been learning to do, is to think outside the box. We've tended to approach homesteading with a conventional farming mindset; certain jobs require certain equipment, right? One doesn't, say, plow an acre of land with a garden tiller. Or does one? ;) It's times like that that really get me going in the "if only" mode. Still, that doesn't get the job done and doing everything by hand often takes too much time.

Our first inspirational breakthrough was when we decided to space the field corn and cowpea rows far enough apart to cut down the weeds between them with the lawnmower. (See "Of Corn, Cowpeas, & Lawnmowers.")

rows of corn & cowpeas, weeded with a lawnmower
I'm still weeding rows with the lawnmower. At first I thought I planted
the rows too far apart. Now I think I planted them too close together. ;)

Then when our pasture improvement project got delayed, I found myself fretting over all the unwanteds growing there. If they all went to seed, it would perpetuate the very problem we were trying to get rid of. That was the first time it occurred to me to use the bagger attachment that came with our lawn mower.

lawnmower bag to collect grass clippings

As an aside I'd like to say that I love my lawnmower. It's a Husqvarna 7021 and it never skips a beat if the grass is too high or thick (which it often is). When we bought it, we were debating between one of these or a hand pushed reel mower. We couldn't get both, and even though I wanted the reel mower, Dan chose this one. The reel mower would have been fine for our flat front yard, but we have other areas that are steep and grow thick. I admit this one has been much better for that.

Until now though, I'd never used the bagging attachment. I couldn't see the point. Why bother to bag up the clippings just to make the lawn look prettier. The neighbors should be glad it gets cut at all. But when my future pasture was loaded with growing weeds I didn't want to reseed, it occurred to me that I could actually bag and use those clippings.

As chicken litter for example...

inside the chicken coop + chicken + grass clippings for litter
Grass clippings mixed with leaves make for a sweet smelling coop

The clippings make the coop smell fresh and clean, and the chickens love to scratch around in search of those seed heads and maybe even a few choice bugs to eat. I give them a quick stir once a day and when it's time to clean out the coop, these are well mixed with manure and nicely precomposted.

I've used grass clippings in and around the goat sheds too, especially where the ground gets too muddy for hooves to be continaully walking through.

grass clippings in the billy barn
Using grass clippings in the buck barn,
for bedding & to cover muddy areas

Dried, they make good worm bedding.

pile of grass clippings between wheelbarrow & compost worm bed
Grass clippings next to compost worm bed. These must be dry before
adding to the bed to avoid the heat from decomposition of green matter.

I pile them next to the worm bed and let them dry out. When they need more bedding, I toss some in.

Hand mowing an acre field and emptying the bag frequently is still a lot of work. There are some things though, that I have to get rid of, like deadly nightshade, which pops up frequently. Being able to accomplish that plus collect the grass clippings helps me feel more productive, because I'm killing two birds with one stone so to speak.

As we learn to make do with what we've got, we find ourselves analyzing our needs in a different light. Yes, we could certainly use some heavy equipment, but perhaps it isn't what we originally thought we needed. Some jobs can be done with alternatives, some can be done by hand. With just two of us though, we need to consider wise use of our time and energy. I'm not saying we've reached any conclusions yet, but we are rethinking. Maybe, for example, we don't need a farm tractor. Maybe a 2-wheeled tractor (AKA walk-behind tractor) is all we need for our small acreage. This is an instance where experience and not having a lot of money have worked in our favor. Hopefully when it's time to make the final decisions, they'll be good ones.

August 27, 2012

The Problem With Wealth

I was returning blog visits the other day, and ran across a really good post at Nancy's, "Inspiring Depressions Era Stories & Where We Are." The thing that struck me, was not how terrible these folks had it, though I know some did, but the wisdom and common sense of their forced frugality.

I remember my grandmother telling me about the depression. My grandfather's family was in mortgage banking and lost everything. I've been through the old census records and noted servants listed as members of the household. When the depression hit, my grandmother recalled all their families having to move into the same house together. She told me her father-in-law was never the same after that.

The generation that experienced the Great Depression seemed to come out of it with one thing in mind, to not let their own children experience the same lack of want. They worked hard and sacrificed to make sure their children had a better life. Most of us grew up under the passed down influence of that and have raised our children the same way. But at what cost? I know those parents thought they were doing a good thing, but if they could have looked ahead into the attitudes of future generations, I wonder if they would have made the same choices. Human nature never seems to appreciate what it doesn't have to work for, what's handed over on  a platter so to speak. Instead it takes those things for granted.

My first husband's grandmother lived in Louisiana. She gardened and canned much of her own food. When I asked her to teach me, she was shocked and refused. She even scolded me for it saying, "you don't have to do that. You can afford to buy food!"

That this is an inherited attitude in the South has become obvious to me during the years we've lived here. It also explains why so many folks in our area don't get what we're doing. (For an insightful, fun read about some of the differences between Southern and Northern attitudes, check out Tami's post, "Twinkie".) To many native Southerners, we appear to be going backward and they can't understand that.

Showing off wealth however, seems to be a universal tendency. Isn't that why folks buy the cars they do, the homes they do, the toys they do? People are enamoured with status. Unfortunately marketers take advantage of this tendency, tracking and creating what is now known as "trends." I find myself wondering if this strong human desire to be one of the in-crowd doesn't make us easy to manipulate.

When it comes to wealth, it seems the "have-nots" are always clamoring to be "haves." I don't think this was always the norm. When I read the Little House series, I see a contentment with what the Ingalls had, or didn't have, even though they had no money.

Nowadays people assume they have a right to what everybody else has. I think in part we have been trained this way. When my daughter was little, the trend for birthday parties was that everyone received a present. The idea behind this was to be fair and that nobodies feelings got hurt. I disagreed. To me it seemed unfair to create this expectation in my children, that they should always get what everybody else got. Reality is that life simply isn't fair. When 100 people audition for an opening on the team, only one person makes it. We are not equally talented, equally statured, equally inclined. For birthday parties, I preferred the concept of turn taking. On their birthday it was their turn to get presents. On So-&-so's birthday, it was their turn.

Now we hear political promises to equalize wealth. We assume this means that this nation's wealthy are going to have to give some of their money to us. We jump on the tax-the-rich bandwagon.  It never seems to occur to us that 1) the rich know the loopholes and have tax shelters to keep from paying higher taxes, 2) they have the means to pass higher taxes on via higher prices, lower wages, and job cuts, 3) that if the politician making the promise is a globalist, then equalizing wealth means taking it away from us as a nation, and passing it on to impoverished 3rd world countries. Equalizing wealth means poorer nations will have more, but we will have less.

I think one of the bottom line problems with wealth is that as humans, we are never satisfied with our lot in life. We all tend to think, if I only had _____ (fill in the blank)_____ . Many would say, "more money." The question we ought to be answering however, isn't even being asked. What we ought to be contemplating is, when is enough, enough?

Dan and I are not immune to this kind of thinking. Our blank would be filled in with, if only we had a farm tractor, or a real barn, or had the mortgage paid off. I rationalize this by saying we're still in the establishment phase of our homesteading. I have to consider though, that if my goal truly is self-sufficiency, then at some point I'm going to have to stop wanting more, I'm going to have to stop spending money, I'm going to have to get off the consumer mindset merry-go-round.

Do I have answers to any of this? Honestly, I don't think there are any, at least not in the sense we tend to think of answers, i.e. politics and isms, because these tendencies of human nature are universal. I think the problem is with our worldview, our mindset about money, and with how we define economy. However I reckon I've written enough about it all today. If you're curious about what I mean, you can check out these related posts:

Mindset: Key To Successful Homesteading?
A No Waste Way of Life
And a 3 part series:
  1. Contemplations on Value & Money 
  2. The Lost Art of Bartering Part 1
  3. The Lost Art of Bartering Part 2

August 24, 2012

Kitchen Remodel: My New Dish Rack

I'm pleased to report a little more progress on the kitchen. When the weather's nice, we usually focus on outdoor projects like the garden or firewood, but on rainy days we can tackle a few other things. The other day, Dan finished this...

handcrafted dish rack
My new dish rack

A dish rack. I love it. It's one more wonderful space saver and I love that it shows off my dishes. :)

Close up 

Plus it helps make everything handy for putting away dishes. Silverware is in the top base cabinet drawer, dishes are on the rack, and glasses and bowls are in the wall cabinet above.

That's one more thing checked off the list! All that's left now is finishing the dining alcove, and the trim in the pantry hallway. Then I'll finally be able to present you with a complete photo tour of my new kitchen!

August 21, 2012

Night-Night Chicken Little

Shortly after I posted the update about Chicken Little, Mama Hen decided it was time to start spending the night in the coop. Until then, she and Chicken Little had slept in the goats' hay feeder. She set about trying to coax Chicken Little to follow her into the coop. Doing this however, is a little trickier than simply walking through a little door. Because of the way the building was constructed (with diagonal bracing in the corners), we ended up having to build a couple of ramps to give chickens access to the outside.

An early photo of the chicken entry into the coop

Mama Hen would go into the coop to the feeder, and cluck loudly in her best "I found food!" cluck. Chicken Little would peep like the dickens outside, but never ventured to even try to get into the coop.

Was it because the ramp was so steep?

Was it because the entrance was so dark & foreboding?

Was it because there might be big scary chickens inside?

Finally Mama just started spending the night inside the coop anyway, leaving Chicken Little to his (or her) own resources. Chicken Little decided the next best thing to Mama, was to roost on a goat.

Surprise is actually very accommodating when it comes to things like this

Well, I thought, this will never do. We already had one barnyard scandal ("Psst. Have You Heard The Latest?") because of a chicken who thought he was a goat. The only thing for it was to start putting Chicken Little to roost every night myself.

So for several nights, I would have to go catch Chicken Little to be carried into the chicken coop.

After about 4 or 5 evenings of this, I went into the goat half of the shed, but there was no Chicken Little. I listened, but didn't hear any peeping. I looked around, but saw no chickens anywhere. I finally took a look in the coop to discover this...

One of the big chickens now

Chicken Little had figured it out and gone to roost without help. One of the big chickens at last.

Our set-up is why I tried to break Mama Hen's broody in the first place. Our chicken coop is half of an outbuilding that was here when we bought the place (see "The Chicken To-Do List"). It's worked well enough, but I am continually analyzing it with a view to replacing it someday. A coop that can accommodate brooding hens and baby chicks is on the drawing board, along with a new goat shed and milking parlor. I'll share our ideas with you soon.

August 18, 2012

Next Year's Firewood

One of the things on our to-do list this summer, was to trim the two ancient oak trees in the yard. They are one of the first things I admired about this place, visual distractions on an otherwise rundown looking piece of property.

Street view before.
Photo from August 2009

Unfortunately, they are dying.

We had them trimmed back quite a bit that first summer. The biggest branch taken down had over 60 rings. We knew they wouldn't last forever and I've planted a sassafras and two redbuds nearby for less than majestic replacements.

With more overhanging branches dying, we had estimates made to see about another trim. Even the best quote to do both was more than we had, so we opted to have the worst one done, along with a dead branch from the other one, a large dead branch which overhung where we park the cars.



I'm definitely going to miss the shade.

A topped tree is a sad looking tree.

Honestly? I think topped trees look stupid. I never could understand why some folks regularly do it to all the trees in their yard. However, we just weren't ready to cut them down completely.

On the bright side, we now have firewood for next year. Why next year? While the dead parts can be used this year, it was cut back to live wood, so quite a bit of it is still green. This will need to cure for awhile.

While tidying up and sorting it, we discussed this year's firewood pile...

A rather raggedy looking woodpile, I'd say

Neither one of us is too keen on a plastic cover. It looks sloppy and is a nuisance to deal with, especially when trying to get wood while it's pouring down rain. Still, if firewood isn't protected, it will decay from rain and ground moisture. What we need is a proper wood shed.

That, however, was something we couldn't decide on until I saw this at The Weekend Homesteader...

Photo courtesy of The Weekend Homesteader, click for bigger

I loved this idea because it could accomplish two things for us: a tidy, accessible place to store our firewood, plus something I've wanted very badly, a privacy fence.

To put a fence along here will only take 7, 8-foot panels (buy 5 get 1 free to boot). I'm very pleased about this because it will not only define our yard, but will block a straight shot view from the street. I have seen passersby crane their necks to see what's going on, and I will be so happy to not feel on display all the time.

Next year's firewood from this year's tree trimming

Plus it will be great to have proper firewood storage. [UPDATE: Photos of the finished fence here.]

Next year we plan to do the second old oak to match. We figure if we take them down a little at a time, we can spare them as long as possible without them damaging anything, and without letting them die wastefully. As sad as it is to lose them, if we can accomplish that, I'll be satisfied.

August 15, 2012

Garden 2012: Pretty Was Last Year

I love a pretty garden: neat, trim, weedless, well cared for, loads of blooming and interesting plants, inviting, storybook-like, etc., However, that takes a lot of work and this year, I've had a lot of gardening challenges, obstacles, challenges to deal with. This year I'm just trying to get by.

Time was one problem, which is no surprise because of our kitchen remodel. In retrospect, I probably should have foregone a garden this year. Most of our house repair and remodel projects are reserved for winter months, when it's too wet and cold to do anything outside. But, when you don't have a floor or a sink, you press on no matter what time of year it is. No regrets about doing that. ;)

Weather too has been a problem. We usually have a drought-like dry spell every summer. This year, in addition to a very wet spring which delayed planting, we've had a very wet July (9 inches), and August has started off the same (6.65 inches so far). August has also had cooler temperatures, which are welcome, but that means the ground isn't drying out as fast. Going to pick tomatoes has meant walking on paths squishy with mud. It's also why my tomato cages fell over....

Staked & caged tomatoes fell over due to rain & wind

They looked better after being retied...

The empty bed in the above photo was where I planted an experimental patch of beardless barley. Obviously it didn't make it. Disappointing, but I'll try again next year.

Knee highs as tomato ties
For tomato ties, my stepmom turned me on to strips cut from pantyhose or knee highs. Not that I wear them anymore LOL, (does anybody?) They're strong and don't cut into the plants.

I used my volunteer broom corn here for the stakes.

I have to say I'm pleased with this year's variety, Amish Paste.

Amish Paste tomatoes in all shapes & sizes

Prolific and tasty for both fresh eating and sauce, I think I have a new favorite. Canned pizza sauce is my preservation priority. After that I'd like to can more tomato and okra gumbo. I made it with chicken last year and with rice it made the tastiest lunch! This year I'd like to try it with chevon, but that will depend on how much okra I get...

Late planted okra in front, 4 o'clocks in the back

Like everything else, I was late getting it planted. Still, it usually produces too much, so hopefully I can get enough for a batch or two of gumbo. Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind canning more pickled okra too. Once it starts producing, it will continue until first frost, usually around the middle of October for us.

My other (and perpetual) problem, is wire grass.

Wiregrass taking over my strawberry bed &
spreading to the cucumbers & bush beans.

Wiregrass is another name for Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) aka couch grass. It's promoted in the US as a cover crop, and for pasture, hay, lawn, sports turf, and erosion control. Gardeners don't like nor want it, and nobody seems to have much success in permanently getting rid of it. "Respectable" cultivars include costal bermuda and the tiftons, all sold as hay around here. Actually the goats will eat it, a bite here and there. Unfortunately it chokes everything else out and spreads where it isn't wanted. Plus being prostrate, it's not easy to cut with a scythe for hay.

We've found that smothering works the best. Not just a 6 to 12 inch layer of mulch, but several layers of cardboard or a 4 foot tall pile of leaves, sticks, and branches. For now, I covered one empty bed with a tarp, and mulched the aisle with feedbags and leaves. I tried to weed and mulch the bed, but if it can find even a smidge of light, it grows.

A month or so after weeding and tarping. The covered wiregrass is
still under control. What I weeded grew right back.

Honestly, this stuff has me so discouraged that I hardly have the heart to battle it. It's everywhere and is taking over everything. Cardboard works best for the the aisles and even lasts awhile.

Main path in cardboard mulch (mostly)

Dan's objection to cardboard mulch is that it looks, well, ugly. Still, it does the trick and lasts for the season. The next year, it starts to look unkempt ....

Remnants of 2011's cardboard mulch.

Some things are looking good however, like my sweet potatoes...

2 beds of Vardaman sweet potatoes

These are Vardamans. I grew them last year and was very pleased with how well they stored in the pantry. My problem with them this year has been deer. These have been the deers' snack of choice this year. In fact they almost wiped out one bed. To try to save the harvest, Dan made me a scaredeer...

My scaredeer. Get it? A scarecrow for deer? 

The deer come out of the woods at night, right up this path. Happily our scaredeer has worked and the sweet potatoes have recovered. I just have to remember to move it every couple of days so the deer don't get used to seeing it.

Last year their snack of choice was buckwheat.

A bed of volunteer buckwheat, blooming

I didn't mind them eating this so much and considered it a distraction from things I wanted to harvest. They ate it down to nothing but it reseeded anyway and I have a bedfull of volunteer buckwheat.

I know this has been a long post but I've had two months to catch up on. And now it's time to start planting the fall garden. Amazing how quickly the summer has flown by, isn't it?

August 12, 2012

Chicken Little

My lone baby chick has become a chicken little.

This chick is about 6 weeks old now. It's amazing how fast they grow, isn't it?

Mama is gradually expanding Chicken Little's territory.

Acceptance into the flock has been smoother than anticipated. Actually it's Mama that gets picked on. I think these are challenges from those lower in the pecking order, hoping to gain a higher spot. That's my theory anyway.

Boy or girl? I'm still not sure. This is our third time to have chicken babies and previously, it seemed the cockerels developed combs quicker than the girls. Can't make a generalization out of that, it was just a two time observation.

I have to say this mama (a Buff Orpington) has been a good one. Hopefully next year she can hatch out a bigger brood of chicks. :)

August 9, 2012

My New Nigies

Remember I mentioned I had two new goats? Well, here they are, two purebred Nigerian Dwarf does. I bought them from a gal who was selling because of health problems. She gave me a very good deal for taking both of them.

This is Nessie...

She is a registered blue-eyed buckskin.

Blue eyes are not uncommon with Nigies and I think they look pretty neat.

This is Edy...

Like Ziggy, she is not registered because of her udder. Her flaw is supernumerary teats. These are extra teats which make her undesirable for a breeding program. Sometimes these teats are "blind," sometimes they have their own milk glands. On rarer occasions, they have milk glands but no orifice so they produce milk can't be milked. CryBaby, one of my first goats, had these as well. In Edy's case, they are just like little bumps and cause no problem with milking. Still, I admit I hesitated to take her, but she was practically free and I really wanted a companion for Nessie at least.

Nessie and Edy were not advertised as being in milk, so I wasn't expecting that. I did ask about kidding history and whether they'd been milked in the past, and was told they'd each kidded for the second time about 6 weeks prior. They were milked their first freshening, but not this year.

I didn't think anymore about all this until a few days later I noticed their little udders were full of milk! The seller hadn't mentioned what happened to the kids, but obviously they're mamas had been feeding them until now. They needed to be reintroduced to the milking stand, but caught on quickly. They aren't giving me much, but daily milk production has gone from 3 cups per day to 5. I'm happy because now I can start making mozzarella again.

I have to add that Surprise has been a real grump about the whole thing. Animals like consistency and predictability, and her world has been anything but since Jasmine. She absolutely did not like Ziggy, but lo and behold, with the arrival of Edy and Nessie, she and Ziggy are now best friends.

That's a goat for you.

August 6, 2012

A "Yay! I'm Back Online" Update

This is sort of like an "Around The Homestead" post, except it contains some non-homesteading news, like getting back online from the comfort of my own home! And many thanks to Cecilia!

To fix my old computer I tried a new ethernet card and a new modem, but the problem was internal damage due to the lightning strike. It still works fine, it just can't get on the internet.

I did purchase and am now using a data surge protector.

My saddest news is that we lost Kris. The official diagnosis was Lymes Disease. This is caught from ticks, which is unexpected, because yes, he did have tick protection. Ticks have been terrible this year and Dan and I had found ticks on both him and Kody. One day he was following the goats around, the next day he couldn't/wouldn't get up. It's a good thing Dan was home because I never could have carried his 80 pounds to the car to get him to the vet. Dogs have a 90% chance of full recovery if it's caught within one week. He rallied a few days after he started the antibiotics, but several days later he just seemed to give up; wouldn't move, wouldn't eat, and then he was gone. It was a real blow to both of us. Even so, Kris always seemed to have something wrong, i.e. he never seemed fully healthy the entire 5 months we had him and I was always treating him for something. We can't help but wonder if there wasn't more going on with him than we'll ever know. :(

Consequently we are preparing to order guinea keets!

Our best news is that thanks to Workers Comp and the Texas Workforce Commission, Dan recovered almost everything he lost working for that trucking company. We weren't expecting it, so it was a blessing indeed.

Blueberries have finished.

Figs have come in.

I'm harvesting figs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.

We've gotten over 4 inches of rain since August 1st. This is after 9 inches of rain in July.

Between that, harvesting, and preservation, the garden is a mess.

I have two new goats, more on that later.

Baby Chick is now Chicken Little. More on that later too.

We've put the last two kitchen projects on hold to do outdoor projects.

Bathroom too.

We'll resume indoor house projects when the weather turns wintry. Or maybe sooner with all our rain.

August is wood month. We had one of our two ancient oaks topped of it's many dead branches, and this will be firewood for this winter and next. To me it's always sad to cut a beautiful tree, but this one is dying and large branches were falling randomly. Fortunately never on the house, a vehicle, or anyones head.

I need to acknowledge a blog award I received from Cranky Puppy right after the lightening strike. I am always honored to be thought of for awards, but I'm so far behind right now that I think I will need to make this blog an award free one.

Thank you to all of those who continued to visit and comment while we were offline. Posting was sporadic and I made few replies and return blog blog visits. I will slowly be able to start doing that; I'm curious what you all have been up to!

August 2, 2012

Kitchen Tools They Ought To Still Make

I was perusing kitchen books at the library and found one about historic kitchen tools. I couldn't resist checking it out and thought some of these items never should have been discontinued. They are certainly things I would purchase and use.

Here's one I would love to have for example......

Utility Measure, c. 1890

This is a utility measure and has a built in funnel for pouring bulk liquids into smaller, more manageable bottles. Priceless for those of us who don't have three hands: one to hold the pitcher, one to hold the bottle, and one to hold the funnel. This one was manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company and came in four sizes: 1/2 or 1 pint, 1 quart, and a gallon.

Measuring spoon, 1940

This measuring spoon would be a useful tool, and in fact recall having seen and used one somewhere in my past. It is made of stainless steel and wood, and was manufactured by the Edward Katzinger Company.

My first thought was how convenient it would be. I wouldn't have to fish around to find the right size spoon.

Then I thought I'd probably never be able to find it, like my other measuring spoons.

Then I thought, but this one is bigger (measures about 12.5 inches in length) so it would be easier to keep track of.

Then I thought how often I'd have to stop and wash it because it would be dirty from the previous ingredient.

Then I thought I'd just have two, one for wet ingredients, and one for dry.

I'd like one of these too...

Soap saver, circa 1890

A soap saver. Leftover bits of bar soap were put in it to swish around in dishwater to make it soapy. What a great idea. Of course nowadays, most soaps are liquids and aren't soaps at all, but detergents, which are petroleum based products. I use as few of these a possible, and boy would a soap saver be handy.This one was manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company. The stamp indicates that the patent was granted September 14, 1875.

This one would be handy...

Utensil scraper 

I've seen similar tools in restaurants for scraping the cooktop, so perhaps I could find one.

I like the idea of this too....

Cream whip & egg beater, c. 1890

The "Lightning" Cream Whip & Egg Beater. It was also manufactured by the Matthai-Ingram Company, and looks like it would be a wonderful tool to have. Quick and simple! The sales ad says it was easy to clean too, always a bonus.

Now this one...

Mayonaise mixer, c. 1920

.... is called a mayonaise mixer [sic - that's how they spelled it]. I don't know what it was made of, but you can see it's a clamp on model and looks pretty sturdy. I actually have something similar ...

Tovolo Mixer for egg whites
& whipping cream

Mine is made of plastic and advertised for whipping cream and egg whites. I got it after I had so much trouble making the meringue for my Christmas lemon meringue pie. I've only tried it once, to whip cream. Unfortunately I think it had too much milk in it (hand skimmed with a spoon), so it didn't do well. It does get difficult to turn the crank when as the liquid thickens and is not very easy to clean either.

And how about this one. Anyone with dairy goats or a cow would probably like one of these...

Milk strainer pail, circa 1870s

This is a milk strainer pail. The spout and handles make it look so convenient to pour the milk. I'm assuming it was poured into the strainer, rather than having the strainer built in(?) Made of tin, it was manufactured by F. A. Walker

I'm sure a lot of this can still be found in various stores that sell used or vintage items or antiques. My part of the country however, is not a good place to buy things like this. That's because the Southern Appalachians rely heavily on tourism as part of their economy. Prices for these types of things are premium, aimed smack dab at those tourists. For example, the gallon crocks Dan brought me back from Ohio a few years ago, sold for $12.50 a piece. I'd be lucky to find them around here for $30 each. I've seen them priced as high as $65.

With the resurgence of true homekeeping perhaps someone will once again start to manufacture these things. I'm sure a lot of us would find them welcome and useful.