December 15, 2011

Around the Homestead

Updates, followups, and other odds and ends since my last Around The Homestead.

Wood Cookstove Installation.

It's installed up to the kitchen ceiling, except for the heat shield. Also to do, the chimney pipe.

Calico Popcorn. - We've had some lovely weather actually, though they are frequently interspersed with cold rainy days. Those days seem a good time to shell, thresh, and winnow some of our grains. I started with the calico popcorn.

2, gallon jars of the harvest

I planted 1/4 of a pound and weighed out a yield 17 & 3/4 pounds. That's plenty for some Christmas gifts, and at least a dent in a year's supply. How much can we eat? It's a favorite snack, so lots. Of course we had to pop up a bowlful for a sample.

Poppage was fair, with quite a few unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl. It was pretty though, and has a very good flavor. I'm going to save at least half a pound to plant next year. How long our harvest lasts will give me a better idea of what I need to plant.

Last of the green tomatoes.

Green tomato jam, albeit an unappealing color

Besides canning green tomatoes for frying, I also made and canned a small batch of green tomato jam. The recipe used no pectin, and at first it didn't thicken up as much as I'd hoped. I extended the cooking time, but it was still pretty soupy by the time I canned it. Processing made the difference, and the jam was set when it cooled. Taste test still to come. Unfortunately it's not a very pretty color.

Chicken panic. My morning routine with the chickens begins by opening the coop door at first light. This is for the safety of the now grown newcomers because our rooster, Lord B, has declared war on all them (even after the hopeful events of the hawk attacks). My hope is that by opening the door, they have a chance to escape the coop if need be. About half an hour later, when it's lighter out, I go throw some scratch around the chicken yard.

The other day it was raining when I headed out for the second time, so I tossed on my rain poncho. As I neared the chicken yard, I heard loud squawking and saw chickens running everywhere. Fearing the worst, I ran toward the yard. As I drew near, about half the flock shrieked and ran for the woods, the other half scattered everywhere in a panic. I ran after them but they ran away faster. Finally it dawned on me that because of my bright red rain poncho, they didn't have a clue as to who or what I was. Apparently even a familiar voice doesn't instill confidence if it's coming from a big red monster. I had to take the poncho off to coax them back to the yard with some chicken scratch. So much for staying dry during morning chores.

Lord B & the Buffs. He chases them to the other
side of the fence, and makes them stay there!

Eggs. I found three eggs in the goat's hay rack the other day.

The two darker browns are from my two Welsummers. I have no chicken that lays like the light one, so could it be from one of the Buff Orpingtons? They're going on 5 months now, so it's about time they should start to lay. This one though, seems too big for a pullet egg. I'm still barely getting an egg a day, which makes me glad for those frozen eggs. There's so much ruckus in the chicken yard though (all due to His Lordship), that I wonder if the hens are either laying elsewhere or not laying at all because of the fuss.

Pecans.  At the suggestion of CaliforniaGrammy, I got one of these....

She mentioned it after she read my "Looks Like A Good Year For Pecans" post. It's a Dukes Easy Pecan and Nut Cracker . It was inexpensive (around $16), is sturdily built, and does a great job. This is the kind of convenience tool I really like!

Meyers Lemon - I've harvested three, and have two more to go....

Plus it's flowering! Next year's lemons are in the making.

Kinder breeding program. Seems to be a bust. Even if the girls will stand for Gruffy, they won't stand in front of the buck assist. And they fight being held there! I'm pretty sure they're still going into heat about every three weeks. Not sure what I'll do if neither of them gets bred.

Parting Shot. I borrowed this phrase from Theresa, who always has the cutest parting shots in her blog posts. Mine was taken shortly after we got the base of the cookstove in. We'd covered it to protect it from dust and debris as we worked on the kitchen. As you see, the lid to the firebox hadn't been put on yet.....

Master Riley claims the wood cookstove.


  1. I was hoping there would be a post from you today! The stove is looking great (even Riley approves! Although probably not so much when you start cooking on it. LOL!)

    Your popcorn looks awesome!

    I hope your critters get themselves worked out soon. I wonder what's up with Lord B? Do you know how many are roos?

  2. busted out laughing at the poncho chicken chaser :D that stove is soo shiny!

  3. So your doing a popcorn giveaway?

  4. Oh, that wood cook stove! (Be still, my heart.) We have what is called a multi-colored popcorn (we didn't grow it) that is delish in flavor but not quite as dark as yours. Kudos to you for growing your own. Have you considered it as a cash crop? I think it'd be a winner. How much do you want to keep Lord B? I'm betting he's the culprit when it comes to poor egg production as the hen house seems to be in an uproar right now. Have never seen a funny egg like you pictured. Somebody wasn't concentrating on the job when she popped that one out!

  5. o-o-o-hhh a popcorn giveaway...not a bad idea :-)

    What a cuddly kitty bed lol! ...and I have no idea on the eggs either, but I'm guessing Lord B may be upsetting them so, that their systems are screwed up right now.

  6. Renee, thanks! So glad you were looking forward to a post, you made my day! Lord B is just super territorial, but only for his own hens and the coop and chicken yard. He even chases off the pullets. I have 7 Buff roos and the one Welsummer/Barred Holland cross roo. That will leave me with 6 new layers, plus the 5 old girls.

    Peaceful, it was pretty funny. Never a dull moment with chickens!

    Serenity, hmmm. Hadn't thought about that!

    Mama Pea, I think the colored popcorn can go either way in terms of color. I just had more dark red kernels than yellow or white. I'll be curious about next year's crop. I hadn't thought about a cash crop. That would be something to consider. The hardest part is shelling it!

    As far as Lord B goes, his days are numbered.

    Dr. Momi, another vote for a popcorn giveaway! Oh my. I do think you're right about the eggs. And if Lord B won't let any of the pullets into the coop, then where will they lay?!?!?!?

  7. You have been one busy lady! Lol, love the picture of the cat! I thought of something the other the beginning of your blog you posted photos of your studio. With all the renovations and such, are you able to do any creative projects lately?

  8. I am still laughing about you and your red, predator, poncho...poor confused chickens. - I have never seen eggs like that, we have had some strange shaped shells though. xo

  9. Your stove is absolutely beautiful, I'm so jealous of it and those Pecans, I'm crying (boo hoo). The jam looks okay to me...reminds me of Jalepeno Pepper jelly.

  10. I too am having serious stove envy!
    and....seasons greetings

  11. I, too, giggled at the red poncho monster scaring the chickens! And am also swooning over your woodstove! That was a lot of work to get right, but I bet it will be worth it. Can't wait to see what goodies you make with it--lord B chicken soup maybe? ;)

    Do you fertilize your lemon tree? I have a couple lemons on mine, but it's looking rather sad. I added some compost to the pot last year, but haven't found a suitable organic fertilizer...

  12. Beautiful stove.

    That's a beautiful lemon. I must be quite a feat to grow a full-sized lemon in a container indoors. So much fresher taste than store bought. Congrats on that.

  13. Yay for the woodstove installation! Soon you'll be cooking! hehehe.. Nice looking popcorn.
    My old hens moulted this fall. I was still getting an egg every day or two. Then one day I got 5! Now I'm getting 2 - 3 a day. Those girls though only ever laid extra large eggs. They never laid anything smaller that could be considered a pullet egg. I think that may be why we lost a couple right when they started laying. The new girls started off with classic pullet eggs.

    Classic helper kitty picture! Gotta love Riley for being so photogenic!

  14. Right on! What a beautiful wood cookstove. I've got my eye on a very old one in my parent's basement (I think my grandparents put it there in 1956), but it might be permanently stuck there - too wide to get up the stairs!

    My wife and I just found your blog. Thanks for blogging about your journey! Feel free to check ours out:

  15. Stephanie, we're anxious to get that kitchen done! Right now my studio is being used mostly for storage. I have a lot of boxes of kitchen stuff under the loom and on the loom bench. I have been thinking a lot about rag rugs lately, and definitely plan to weave some for the kitchen. Also some cushion covers for the dining nook! How quickly these get done though, remains to be seen. :)

    Sherri, I've seen quite a few bloggers share photos of some pretty odd looking eggs. We've never had one of those, but I think it would be better than the odd ones I got!

    Ginny, thanks! I hadn't thought about jalepeno jelly, thanks for that too.

    Brendie, I do feel fortunate to have that stove. We waited over two years to find the right one on Craigslist and the waiting paid off. :)

    Jaime, yup, Lord B will likely be soup soon. I did put some compost on my lemon tree last year. I read somewhere not to over fertilize fruit trees though I can't remember why at the moment. I think compost would be the best fertilizer for it. Mine had tons of flowers last year and originally set 27 teeny lemons. It self-pruned however, so I only ended up with 5 big ones in the end.

    Norma, thanks! I'm amazed my lemons got so big. Others with Meyers lemons mentioned only small ones. Maybe the compost helped more than I thought(?)

    Nina, I can hardly wait to start cooking on that stove! Actually, I can hardly wait to get the kitchen done. My hens are doing that right now, moulting. The only one laying is Mama Welsummer!

    Neal and Laura, thank you! And thanks for your visit and comment. I'm on my way over to visit your blog.

  16. love the stove!

    Years ago before anyone heard of Kinder or Pygora goats I had an assortment of Nubians and Angora does along with Pygmy does and a Pygmy buck. Hmmmm he never needed assistance to get his job done. Just like the designer dogs of today, we just used to call all the cross breds mutts. Now everyone gives them a fancy name ...

  17. Hi, Leigh. Boy, does that nut cracker bring back memories of many, many pounds of pecans being shelled!!! It does work like a dream. Only thing better is to have them cracked by someone else!

    Never saw an egg like that. Odd shapes, yes, but not partially dry inside. Almost like the egg white oozed out somehow?

    Where do these words come from for the word verification? Can you believe the one showing for me is "gagitis"? Not that's a hoot!!!!

  18. TL, thank you for that about your Pygmy buck. That's encouraging! So true about the new crossbred breeds. The Kinder Goat Breeders Association is growing and really promoting Kinders; they seem like the perfect homestead breed. If I'd been able to find some locally, I wouldn't have had to try to make my own herd!

    FFG, well, something oozed, though I'm guessing it was the yolk! And "gagitis" is the perfect description for that, LOL.

  19. that throne (cooker) is fit for a (cat) king - he thinks:)) even the royal blue blanket fits the bill! the popcorn looks very inviting, pity that my strawberry corn didn't grow well:((

  20. GREAT parting shot! And talk about industry, you and Dan are always so productive and busy. The stove looks grand BTW, makes me want to tear apart my kitchen and make room for one...
    I had a big brown coat that produced the same result from the horses that your red poncho produced with the chickens. But a soothing voice and of course, the bear carrying the hay flakes couldn't be all bad. :)

  21. A big congratulations on your new cook stove, should the electricity go out you will have no worries when it comes to cooking inside.:) As we have discussed hugoculture before and you have implimented it in your garden to some extent I thought you might enjoy this post -

  22. I was wondering how old that stove was, and which company made it. The picture of that egg almost made me lose my lunch,lol. Richard

  23. Theresa, we're fortunate that Dan's schedule allows 3 or 4 days home when he's off. He's a project person, so we're always about something when he's off. Too funny about your horses! I reckon all critters are somewhat the same. :)

    Mr. H, thanks! Very interesting link, I can't believe how gorgeous his soil looks. Dan and I need to think this way on a larger scale as well.

    Richard, yeah, the eggs are kinda gross. I threw them away! The stove is actually only a couple of years old. In fact, it's still being manufactured today, by the AGA-Heartland company in Canada. Lehman's sells them among others. That was actually a big selling point for us, because it means we can get replacement parts if need be.

  24. I am flat out jealous of that stove. How beautiful it is!

    I am not jealous of the egg, however. I'm kinda scared of that thing.

  25. Oh my gosh, you cracked me up with the red poncho vs chickens story, hilarious! But the weird eggs are sad to see. If the comments are right, that rooster is really annoying your girls isn't he?

    I'm thrilled you acquired the Duke's nutcracker, it really is a great tool!

  26. That is the most beautiful stove, and I am totally jealous about your lemons and popcorn.

    My sheep always react badly when I go out wearing anything other than the coat and hat that they are used to, and if I bring out anyone new I have one ewe in particular that hates that.

    My Buff Orpingtons lay brown eggs, not as dark as your Welsummers but darker than the light one you have. I've gotten a few funky eggs before, but not as nasty looking as yours. You're sure they're fresh?

  27. Grace, when you have chickens, you get weird eggs. I've never had them like this before, and hope I never do again!

    CaliforniaGrammy, yes, the Duke's nutcracker is great! And my rooster is annoying everybody. :)

    Sue, they don't look fresh, do they. I found them in a place I check every day, so I can't think of what else they can be except weird. Those were a Welsummer and a Barred Holland egg. Very strange.

  28. Beautiful stove.

    That's a beautiful lemon. I must be quite a feat to grow a full-sized lemon in a container indoors. So much fresher taste than store bought. Congrats on that.

  29. Have you considered stilts for Gruffy? :)

    I love your stove and am totally jealous. Every time we go to an antique mall and come across a stove like that, I drool.

  30. Benita, LOLOL. What a hilarious picture that makes in my mind! I love my stove too and am thankful Dan made me hold out. I was willing to get a less aesthetic one, but he wouldn't agree to that!

  31. I feel your pain about the kinder issue. Same scenario trying to breed my leggy lamancha with a Nigerian. I have two cycles left! I considered AI but there weren't any techs anywhere near me and the equipment can add up. Is that something you may ne able to do?

  32. Betty, actually I never thought about AI. I don't think it's available for Kinders yet, but I need Pygmy sperm! It's something I'll have to research and consider. Thanks for the idea.


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