Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chickens!

As you all may remember (or not, since I have been real slow posting) my chickens this year have been duds. I never have gotten so few eggs in a year from any chickens I have had before. I wanted some more but you can't get chicks here at Tractor Supply until spring and I wasn't sure I wanted to do the whole brood the chicks thing next year. So I have been keeping my eye out in the paper, on Craigslist, and the facebook sale things for our town for any chickens. Then yesterday as I was coming home from my violin lesson there was a sign that said "Chickens 4 Sale". It was just down the main road maybe a mile across the bridge (that goes over the lake) from us. So I made Phil go back with me but the guy was asleep and he wasn't waking up (and there was a pistol on the floor by the couch so Phil decided we wouldn't startle him awake, ha ha). Anyway, today it was raining and raining and raining. It never rains like this here, all day. But it is a light rain today so we went anyway.
The guy has all kinds of cages with chickens (yes, my type of person) but he was selling some young Buckeye chickens. The Buckeye is a breed of chicken created by a woman in Ohio and the name Buckeye is derived from the Ohio nickname "The Buckeye State". They are a dual purpose chicken with decent laying ability and are also fairly good as a meat bird. They are yellow skinned and lay brown eggs.

Here is a bit from Wikipedia:

The Buckeye was first bred and developed in 1896, by a Warren, Ohio resident named Nettie Metcalf.[6] They are the only American breed of chicken known to have been developed by a woman, despite the fact that women were customarily given charge of the household poultry flock throughout much of U.S. history.[7] Metcalf crossbred Barred Plymouth RocksBuff Cochins, and some black breasted red games to produce the Buckeye. Her goal was a functional breed that could produce well in the bitter Midwest winters. Contrary to popular belief the Buckeye breed was created before the Rhode Island Red breed and actually sent birds to the RIR breeders for them to improve their breed.[8]
The Buckeye was admitted to the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1904.[9] Entrance into the Standard of Perfection signifies official certification as a breed by the Association, and thus allows Buckeyes to be entered into poultry shows and judged according to the breed standard (as outlined in the Standard of Perfection).
The recognition of Buckeyes in the Standard has been a significant factor in its survival.[6] In the past, largely due its lack of color variations, the Buckeye has not been an especially popular exhibition breed, but there is growing interest in the exhibition poultry fancy for this dual-purpose, heritage variety of bird. Not adopted by commercial operations, the Buckeye has generally been a bird of smaller farm flocks. Today the breed status is listed as threatened by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy,[10] threatened being defined as Threatened: Fewer than 1,000 breeding birds in the United States, with seven or fewer primary breeding flocks, and estimated global population less than 5,000.[11] The breed is also included in the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, a catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction.[12]

Mine are not all that noble looking in the rain today. They are small but I think they are just pullets (young birds) and are wet and a bit starved but I think they will do fine with proper care and food. 
Not a good picture either but it was still raining and my phone wouldn't take a picture because I never charge it anymore (cause I never use it!) so Phil took the picture with his while they were still in the cage. I'll get a better one when it is dry out. 
I got 7 chickens that I think are hens for $7 each which is too much but I wanted some and wanted to get a few for my brother who now has a place where he can keep them and has been wanting some for a while. So three of them will be going to him. I hope they lay better than my current bunch or at least inspire the current bunch to lay more. Right now they are being housed in the old duck pen. I'll let them get used to seeing each other a bit before I put them in together. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What is a turkey fryer?

Here is what our turkey fryer looks like. This isn't ours, of course, but this is exactly what we have.
I got this picture here.

The thing with the star on the bottom is what you put through your turkey so you can lift it in and out. There is a hook thing over by the leg, you hook it to the hook on the top of the star thing which will be coming out the neck (or butt, I can't remember) and you can lift  in and out the turkey.  You hook up your gas grill propane tank to the fryer. Then you basically put peanut oil in the fryer (I believe there is a line that tells you how far up to start with but you then have to be careful because larger turkey's will need less oil). You can adjust the flame on the it, you heat it to a certain temperature and put the turkey in and then cook it for the recommended time according to how many pounds your turkey it. This is an OUTDOOR toy only!!! Cause that is a whole lot of hot peanut oil in there. This is probably why this is a Southern thing as it usually isn't so cold here that the guys don't mind sitting outside watching the temperature on it.
I will say that when I first heard about it I thought that there is no way this could taste as good as a turkey cooked in the oven but I can tell you now that a fried turkey is the best turkey I ever had. It is just so moist and good.
This, however, is not a toy that idiots can play with. If you go to Youtube you can see all sorts of videos of turkey frying gone wrong mostly from people putting too much oil in and it overflowing when you put the turkey in and catching on fire. You are better off having too little oil than too much and that turkey needs to be dried off as much as possible before you put it in to prevent the oil from foaming over.
Ok, thanks everyone for giving me the idea for this post. I had no idea that some people had never seen a turkey fryer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Brrrrrrrrrr!


It is really chilly here! We don't usually get this cold until January or February...if we get this cold at all. I actually bought a new coat, which is kind of a funny story. I bought this lovely light brown coat with white fleece trim. I liked it a lot until we went to walk the dog the other day and I heard a shot in the woods. Not unusual for this time of year since we live right beside the WMA property. But that shot made me realized that now I looked just like a DEER! Eeeek! I am going to have to make myself a red hat.
Anyway, besides the cold, not much is going on here. I have been practicing hard on my violin because my violin teacher has set us up to play for a nursing home in the area on Dec. 13. The "us" I am referring to are her 4 students. Myself who has been studying with her for a year, a 12 year old girl who has been studying for 6 months, a young man who has been with her about a month and the 12 year old's older sister (maybe 14 years) who has been with her for 2 weeks. Yeah...you are thinking the same thing I am...that we are going to be really bad at this and we have had one practice together and we are definitely not sounding good. We have several weeks until the 13th but we only have two more practice times together. Plus we are not just playing the melody but 3 of the songs will have three different parts which we play all together (ugg!). We are to play, Jingle Bells, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Silent Night (those are the three with the three parts)then we are to play Joy to the World together and then she and I will play Up on the Housetop and then we each have a solo piece. I will be playing I'll Be Home for Christmas. I am pretty nervous about it as I tend to mess up even when I play just for my teacher but it will be good experience I suppose though I would rather just have kept studying several Christmas songs that I wanted to play for my family.
Other than that work has been a absolute horror lately up until this week. I now just take it one day at a time and get through it and close my eyes to how bad things are. I need the job too badly to leave it right now.
There are other good things going on though:

 I started a new blog called The New Violinist. I think I will enjoy writing about my experiences learning to play the violin.

Thanksgiving is coming! We'll have our regular one at home and then on the weekend our family will get together at my brothers and we'll bring Phil's turkey fryer and fry a turkey....so good! I hope it is warmer that weekend! Maybe I'll remember to take pictures for you all and you'll get a second post this month!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Frog Legs



Spring in New Hampshire is an awesome, nasty, sloppy mess especially if you live in the woods, half way up a mountain. Spring was also noisy. Yes, noisy. You would not believe how noisy it could be. The mud that made our dirt driveway impassable (the truck sat stuck in it for weeks) did not make any noise. The leaves sprouting on the poplar trees that surrounded the house made no noise. Neither did the small patches of leftover melting snow. The noise was from the FROGS!
That small ditch pond we so happily skated on through the winter was now the mating and nesting grounds of thousands of frogs. You would never have guessed such a small pond (maybe 30 ft x 20 ft) could produce such sound but it did every spring.
It was impossible not to hear then. It was a loud, steady drone the whole day through. I had walked down and seen that the pond was covered in frogs but I didn't know that my father had taken notice as well. He never mentioned it and he didn't walk down there to check them out like I did. Just one day he took his pole. This caught mine and my brother's attention immediately. I was a girl but I was such a tomboy and I loved fishing. However, my father didn't take bait. He went to the ragbag where we kept the leftover fabric scraps and got a small piece of red felt. He didn't tell us what he was doing but we got poles and followed him as he knew we would. My father wasn't a secretive person but he liked to surprise us and I think he believed in teaching by example.
Once we were down by the pond you couldn't hear to talk anyway. That was how much noise those frogs made. We watched him cut off a very small square from the red felt, put it on his hook, dangle it in front of a frogs face, and SNAP! a second later the frog had snapped it up and he was caught. My father hit its head on a stone from an old stone wall bordering one side of the pond and put it in a plastic bag he had also brought.
Both my brother and myself asked for a bit of red felt and we were off catching frogs. Oh we knew they were for eating, we had had frog legs once before but one frog set of frog legs does not make much of a meal. We were out there for hours, my father went in before we did but we kept catching frogs. We caught 47 the first day and went out again the next day and caught 54. This didn't even make a dent in the frog population or noise level of our little pond.
My father cut and skinned the frog legs and put them in a cast iron frying pan. Then quickly slapped the lid on it. He then lifted it a bit and showed us how the frog leg reflexes would make the legs jump if he didn't have the lid on and they did, they jumped like they were still a attached to the frog!
We, my brother, my father and I, happily ate the frog legs after they were cooked (yes, they taste quite a bit like chicken) though my mother and sister thought it was gross and would not eat any.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to Shop

I had a friend who once told me that she never learned how to shop. What she meant was she didn't know how to "bargain shop". She said she went to one grocery store and just bought what they had. This was kind of amazing to me. It never occurred to me that people didn't watch the sales and shop accordingly.
I was quite pleased when I moved here to find that there were 4 large grocery stores in town to choose from (we only have 3 now) and they are all no more than a mile from each other. It didn't take long to establish  'what to buy where'. This has changed some over the years but I still know what is mostly on sale now at each of the stores.
One of the stores is my favorite for meat. It always has a good selection and if you get there early enough...but not too early, you can go through the marked down meat and get some good deals. The other store has all the buy 1 get 1 free sales and it also has the fuel perks. The last store is Wal-mart, it is where I get most of my boxed and canned stuff because it is always cheaper there.
What also amazed me about my friend was that she didn't buy the marked down stuff saying she didn't know what was still "good".  You have eaten food all your life and you don't know what is good? Smell it! Touch it! Look it over good! If it looks good and smells good it probably is good as far as meat and fresh vegetables go. If it is in a can, it is likely still good anyway.
Also think about what you can use it for. If it is a really good deal but you don't usually buy it, think of what you could use it for. For instance, this week one store had these small rolls of turkey marked down.


This part of a roll was only $2.11.  It was too good of a deal to pass up so I had to think of what to use it for. I felt I could slice it and use it for sandwich meat or I could dice it in cubes and put it in a casserole or quiche. I bought 4 of them. I sliced one today.


Sorry about the phone picture but this package is only a third of what I sliced up. We will have plenty of sandwich meat for a while and meat for several dinner meals...and they were $2.11 each! (Yes, I will post when I make other meals from it).
I always buy extra of a good deal. Last year at Christmas the turkeys were so cheap that I couldn't resist and bought four of them. Two of them are still in the freezer and will be used this year at Christmas and Thanksgiving. It is one less thing during the holidays that I will have to worry about this year.
Also keep in mind that the larger grocery stores aren't the only place to shop. I go to the next town over every week for violin lessons and I often stop in their little Family Dollar Store because they have the treats my dogs like in there at a really good price and since the store is right there on my way it doesn't cost me any extra gas.

Of course, your garden is the best place to shop. These are probably the last of the peppers picked from my pots the other day.


I don't use hot peppers very much (unless I have a lot of them to make hot pepper relish with) but I will cut them up and freeze them so that I can use a little of them here or there.

Anyway, happy shopping and keep looking for those bargains!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Yeast!

I swear it is not the same as it used to be. I used to make bread and it would rise up out of the pan and swell over it like bread is supposed to but it never does it now. I am trying to make bread today and used two "rapid rise yeast" and it is SO slow and will probably just barely get over the pan rim. Maybe I am more impatient than I used to be? I think that is unlikely. I know what you are all going to say that sourdough is better and I liked it when I had a sourdough but it never rose over the rim either and I did not use it enough to keep it going well. I am going to wait longer for it to rise although I wanted to have it with dinner. Maybe I can get it over the rim eventually.