Friday, September 26, 2008

RECYCLE THOSE BRIDESMAID DRESSES



Have you always been the bridesmaid and never the bride. Do you have a collection of wedding clothes that have been worn once and never used again. Don't throw them away. Don't give them away. Recycle them.



My Daughter had this fabulous dusty pink silk bridesmaid dress. It was very high end but that does not make it wearable...just expensive. It hung in her closet for 5 years along came her Little girl. I asked her if she'd mind if I cut it up to make something to go in the granddaughter's pink bedroom. She said, "will I like it?" I said, "I don't know and am not going to tell you what it will be." She relented, with apprehension, complaining how much she paid. I said, "for goodness sake only the closet has worn it for 5 years."



She was due to be gone on a trip for 3 days (that's why I was there, to sit for the kids). After I got the kids to bed I went to the garage to retrieve a 3 legged round table I had seen out there. One of those you can buy at Wal-Mart for 4 dollars. It already had a piece of glass for the top. I made a puddled on the floor table cover for the night table.



The following is how I did it. Measured the skirt of the dress and it was about 4 inches short the measurement of the height of the table. I had bought already some pink check quilted fabric to make pillows for her bed. It became obvious the fabric would never make it into a pillow. I took the round top and traced around it on the wrong side of the fabric. Then I cut it out adding about 3/4 inch all around (this is the seam allowance.) The rest of the fabric I cut into strips 5 inches wide and joined them so I had a strip the length of the circumference of the top of the table. Allowing an extra 2 inches for seams on each end. Next step was to hem each end folding over 1/2 inch and blind stitch down. (You only fold 1/2 inch because you will want to make an open lap seam in the back.) At this point remove the skirt from the bodice. I did not do it carefully. I cut it off the bodice leaving at least a half inch of bodice on the skirt. BTW. The dress had a large bow on the back. I removed it first.

I carefully removed the zipper. Try not to cut the fabric when you remove the zipper. Stitch the seam allowances down so they don't start fraying. (you could put seam tape of the back of them if you wish and then stitch them down.) Fray check might even work. (that is a name brand sealant for raw edges of fabric.)



Now is the time you attach the skirt to the strip that goes around the circumference of the table. My daughters waist is much smaller than the circumference of the table. so I went around the waist cutting vertical cuts in the waist to release some of the gathers. I did it dividing the skirt in equal sections so the gathering would stay even. I ended up taking the strip, gathering the side that would attach to the skirt. Basted the edge with large stitches taking it down just a little (look at the pic and you will see the skirt hangs a little under the edge of the table). It is sucked in. I then attached the right side of the skirt to the right side of the band on the basted edge. I hand basted them together instead of using pins to pin it to the strip. This made it easier to feed all the bulk under the presser foot of the machine. (I didn't have the pins fighting and sticking me.) You join them with the edges of the strip even with the opening of the zipper. Stitch over the basted stitches joining the skirt to the strip. Now fold the seam towards the strip and top stitch 1/4 inch from the seam. When finished top stitching, go to the wrong side and trim off the excess straggly fabric to within a 1/4 inch of the top stitching.Attach the strip/skirt to the round top....I hand baste this first too. You have one boucou amount of fabric and the pins just don't hold it. When attaching don't forget to overlap the edges of the strip. This is your closure to fit the skirt on the table. When finished you can put a snap on the edge where the strip joins the skirt (so it stays closed, nice and fitted.) If your dress came with a bow or you have sleeve fabric to make one. You can put snaps on it and attach it to cover the opening and now the back will become the front. lol And Voila your little princess has a princess table for just your labor.





I have used bridesmaid dresses to make the costumes you see in my photos. The pink dress also has a lined cape. I was able to find two matching satin dresses at a resell it shop (only 5 dollars each and I had over 14 yd of satin.). If you notice the Dora dress has a pink ruffle. That ruffle was left over from the second dress. Batman is also made from wedding satin recycled.Have fun thinking of what you are going to do with your old clothes. BTW I recycled old flannel shirts and flannel PJ's into the greatest quilt.  The following blog is about those quilts.









The wig was made of yarn.

This was the year after the pink dress. She was still in a size 3 dress. The pink princess was a cut down 3 pattern.



















This is the painting I painted for her room. I used it as a model to make the dress from.














Batman, The shirt was a jersey from wall mart and the pants were pj bottoms from there. The cape mask and Hood (which you can't see) were from a wedding dress. The cape is fully lined.







This is the princess dress from the two bridesmaid dresses. There is a huge bow on the back at the waist. The skirt is permanently secured so the lace petticoats show. They crinolines were so heavy underneath I had to put straps on them to go over the shoulders to keep the slips from sliding off her. BTW..this is only a size 3 dress.





 New Article on my blog: 
"A MYSTERY IN THE MAKING"
A mystery quilt designed with the novice in mind
First Clue to be presented October 16.
Other blog sites by me:

Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle
New Blog:

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission

Thursday, September 25, 2008

FALL COMES TO MY GARDEN




I am always excited to see the change of seasons in my garden. For me the season I love the most is autumn. I love the flowers, the insects, the harvesting. I even love the clean up to get ready for next year.




I am so fortunate to have a Hunny who loves to take pictures and is so good at it. He has the patience to wait for the insects to lite on the plants. Here we have a wasp resting on Golden Rod. Seconds later he was treated to a honey bee. We have had hardly any honey bees year, this was quite a treat.




We also noticed we have not had the bumble bees we have had in previous years.






This is a good place to insert my favorite hint:


If you get stung by any stinging insect, pull out the bottle of ammonia. Non-sudsing ammonia is recommended but any ammonia works. Also products containing ammonia work, although I can't recommend them because of health problems. But when you are stung you'll do anything to stop the pain. You'll need cotton balls too. Saturate a cotton ball with ammonia till it is very wet but not dripping. Place on the area of the sting and hold there for at least 5 minutes (if the ball needs re wetting with ammonia, do it). If the sting is on a place near the eyes or nose cover them with water soaked cotton balls to prevent the fumes from the ammonia irritating them. In all the years I have used this hint I have never had any irritation at the sting site from the ammonia.





This treatment should be done immediately but I have had it be effective when applied 20 minutes after the sting. I believe it neutralizes the venom. I have also had a sting flare up the next day and redoing the ammonia treatment worked. We raised bees and learned about this from an aged Bee keeper 40 years ago. I used it on my children all their formative years.





My Waiver: I am not a doctor, or even a nurse, I do not have any degree except from the school of hard knocks . I recommend you consult people in the know before trying this.




This year we did not have the influx of the spotted cucumber beetles. We did have a deluge for 2/3 of the summer of the Japanese beetles. We can't treat the surrounding area with milky spore disease because we have 15 acres in pasture. It would be financially impossible. Not to mention i would have to get all the neighbors on all sides to do it too. It is heaven for the grubs of the Japanese beetles.


We garden organically, we only use biological controls that do not harm more insects than what we are targeting.



Another insect we abhor, and had an overdose of, is Squash bugs. If any one has a good control that works we'd appreciate the hint. All the accept safe sprays do not seem to work for us (we do use spun bond row cover while it is growing but have to reove it when they start blooming.).



This year I had great success in taking cutting from my mums and starting them. Last year we planted 20 different colored mums. None of the red , white or pink mums went through the winter. Yellow, bronze, and lavenders did fine. I only lost one of my purple varieties.





This is what you will see as you leave the center gate in the garden. The grass is purple majesty penstemon. It is very slow to germinate and grows very slowly in the pots. It is not freeze tolerant so must be started indoors and not set out till all danger of freeze is gone. It takes off when set in the garden. I was very pleased with my first year of growing it. It does not come back each year.





The purple in front of the mums is Purple ruffles basil. I use it for accent everywhere in the garden. It's deep purple frilly leaves are outstanding. The only problem is you have to bite the bullet and if you see it setting blooms cut them off. (they are attractive but you will set the scene for your plant to go dormant.) Mine will continue to look good till the temps start holding below 40 degrees and not going above 50 during the day.







These are the mums as you enter the center gate of the garden. The yellow one was perfect till the man unloading our mower after repairing it fell off the truck into it.

Thank you for visiting with me today.

Monday, September 22, 2008

DOUBLE TROUBLE

The continuation of the Clucking Saga,
Episode 1:  http://gloriouscreations.blogspot.com/2008/09/fowl-story.html
Episode  2:  http://gloriouscreations.blogspot.com/2008/09/leghorns-mass-exodus.html

We talked about how spoiled we have been with having fresh eggs. What will we do when the girls decide they are going to molt? We will be 6 weeks with out a single egg.

We began reading books on the subject of raising chickens. One was a small paper back called, “Starting Right with Chickens”. There is a whole farm series of “Starting right” books. We contacted Missouri extension service. They had a great floor plan for a chicken house. It was 12 ft by 12 ft. We decided we would make two of them connected with a 10 foot wide room for storing feed, implements used with chickens and an old refrigerator for storing the eggs.

While we were building the “coop” we ordered baby chicks. We ordered one hundred straight run. Straight run means you get whatever hatches. It is usually fifty/fifty, pullets and roosters. Pullets grow up to be hens. You can order all pullets and it usually cost over double. We knew we wanted to try our hands at butchering our own chickens. We didn’t know what kind of chickens we liked so we ordered the heavy breed assortment because we wanted layers that would be productive in the cold Missouri winters. We also wanted to be able to butcher the roosters. You only need a couple of roosters to keep 50 hens happy. A couple of roosters are ecstatic with 50 hens to share.

The chicks came. They were in two boxes with a sisal type straw in with them. There were instructions to dip their beaks in water to teach them to drink and to peck at the food to get them to eat. You have never seen anything like a box full of one hundred walking cotton balls. They are all colors. We had no idea who was who. They didn’t give us a pamphlet showing us what our five breeds of chicks looked like.

We housed them in the carport which had been closed in for a nice little barn. We made this area that was 8 ft by 8 ft. We enclosed it with 4 ft high walls (we figured the little cotton balls wouldn’t be flying that high very soon).

The area was outfitted with a hooded heat light in the center, just outside of the area the heat reached we had the feed and water. We had regular lights around the rest of the pen.

We were on our way to supplying our neighbors with eggs…only five months to go.

A month goes by and we have growing chicks. Now that they are feathering out we figure we could identify who was who. Boy, were we surprised. Several were pink with white top hats (beige crested polish); black checkered with white top knots (silver laced polish). And the list went on. None of them looked like they could be light brahmas or dark brahmas, buff Orppingtons, Rhode Island Reds or Barred rocks. I called the hatchery and they said they’d send us out a new assortment. We said we just wanted our money back. They said no. We asked them what should we do with the others and they told us they didn’t care, drown them. So here we are stuck with weird chickens. They were all on the skinny side so we wondered how much there was to eat on them, and wondered what we would do with them. Mind you we were new at this, it never occurred to us these funny looking skinny chicks would lay eggs too.

The new chicks arrived and we had to make another area to raise them. We had been warned the larger chicks would pick on the younger chicks, that chickens were cannibalistic. We decided to put the rush on the chicken house and finish it.

The new Chicken house was finished and the older chicks moved in. They were happy as can be with their new larger quarters. Next step was to make them a yard to run around in. With the older laying hens we had discovered the delight of chickens when they are free to “flock” around.

One of the biggest thrills a chicken gets out of doors is to dust bathe in the sun. They scratch out a place till it is raw dirt and then start in scratching and turning and scratching more till the have a bowl shaped depression filled with powdered dirt. They begin with fluffing their feathers, sifting the dirt under their feathers. We have witnessed a hen being possessive of her dust hole and another hen trying to get in her hole with her. You have heard of an ostrich sticking her head in the sand. That is literally what we saw this hen doing. She went behind the hen in the hole and pushed her head down under her body and kept squeezing under her till she had lifted her out of the hole. And voila, “Ha ha it’s my hole now!”

Caring for the chickens, feeding and watering, was our 5 year old's job. She was fascinated with chickies. As they grew older she became a little disillusioned with them. She called them “persons”. One day she came running in the door, hollering, “Mommy, mommy you’ll never guess what the persons did. They gave us a present.” What kind of present I asked her and she proceeded to describe the egg in minute detail.

I was shocked, we were told they were an exotic assortment. Now this is one of those moments when you say, why, did I have such an obviously dumb moment? Of course exotic birds lay eggs, even those who aren’t chickens. They just lay either smaller ones or not as many.

Oh NO, we were going to butcher those babies as soon as they got big enough. We now have 58 hens that will be laying in the next couple of weeks. They have just been presented a stay of execution. That will be 58 more eggs than we were counting on each day. What will we do? Now chickens don’t lay everyday but almost. From reading I had been doing, we should expect more than 300 eggs from each of the exotic ladies.

You do remember we ordered 100 chicks and got the wrong chicks and they replaced them telling us to drown the others. In one month the heavy breed laying assortment will start laying too. I have 53 hens in that bunch. What will we do with 100 eggs everyday? That is just a little under 9 dozen eggs a day. Worse than that, it is approximately 56 dozen a week. I only have one month to plan what to do with them. We had homes for the eggs from the 58 ladies. Now twice that amount. Guess what the grocery stores can’t buy them from me. Why, we aren’t inspected (we haven’t paid our dues).

We had to think of another solution. Our son came up with the bright idea to advertise the hens for sale. So that is what we did. We advertised fancy breeds for sale at the feed store. BTW, there were some we just couldn’t part with because they were so cute. We still ended with 65 hens we couldn’t part with. Needless to say we ate lots of eggs (glad we were physically active). It was before cholesterol was known to be a major health factor.


Other blogs by me:
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle

Blogs about our pair of pitbulls.

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today's garden

Last night in the garden the cockscomb was in full bloom, undaunted by the torrential rains brought by "IKE".


Although gorgeous in the garden and as a cut flower I do not cut them to dry them. The dried color is a really unsightly dirty brown.
We garden organically. Only using controls which do not harm species that are beneficial. Needless to say we are constantly battling the masses. So we look to our insect friends to help us.


Seconds after the above picture was taken we snapped the following one. The picture was not staged. The Praying Mantis flew in.




These "Green Envy " Zinnias are interspersed among the cockscomb. Actually it is the other way around.



I start zinnias in pots and then set them out. The cockscomb showed up a week after I planted the zinnias. Disturbing the ground to plant the zinnias exposed the cockscomb seed to the sun light and started the growing process. With all the rain we've had moisture was not a problem for germination. I decided to let them be where they are and was very happy with the end results.

In my garden there are lots of "Glorious Creations". One is a Marigold that came to us via two hybrids I planted 17 years ago. That was the name I gave to the offspring.

One was a three foot tall, large golden flowered, marigold. The other was a tiny eight inch tall marigold. With Burgundy/bronze blooms.

It was the first year at our new farm. We were busy taking care of moving in so I wasn't into raising my own plants. I went and bought plants where ever they were the cheapest. At that moment least expensive was the code word.

The following year we started the garden season with gusto. Vegetables for putting by were a prime importance. The ground was till and made ready.

A couple of weeks went by and of course the weeding became important. As I was weeding I noticed there were marigolds sprouting up all over. I dug them up and replanted them all around the fence. Hunny says, "They are from hybrids, you have no idea what you'll get." I replied I didn't care, they would at least keep the bugs at bay and the weeds out of the fence line.

When they started blooming it was glorious. They were all different heights but they all had the same bloom. The bloom you see in the picture. That year I saved seed from the plants that were the nicest shapes and the most prolific bloomers. The following year I planted only plants from the saved seed. I pulled up all the volunteers. The plants were even nicer and hardly an itinerant one in the bunch. I saved new seed that year. The fourth year I planted, you see the resulting plants in the above picture. The plants are full. The one above was a 6 inch tall plant July 16. They are too full...they require a support like you would use for a peony. The branches get so full of blooms and foliage. Lack of dead heading doesn't seem to affect them much. But for looks it improves them. This one would be fuller in flowers if it had been planted a month earlier. If a branch does break, you can plant it if you notice roots around the stem. The broken place fills in and is blooming in three weeks.

Now you can see why I gave it the name "Glorious Creation"



Leghorns: The Mass Exodus

In episode 1:
http://gloriouscreations.blogspot.com/2008/09/fowl-story.html

I explained about the building of the pen in the work shop. I did not say we fenced the area with the chicken wire to the ceiling. We didn’t know what to expect from our new tenants.


When we built the out side pen we figured one 4 ft course of wire would be enough. Because we observed they had not flown higher that.  


The next part is a little excursion from the leghorn story but necessary to the plot.

When I was growing up I had gone to visit my great aunt. She lived out side a big city. They had a very avant-garde house. I believe they got the plans from a 1950’s Women’s day magazine. It was a square house with an enormous living/Dinning room with windows covering the wall and the other half of the house had a large bedroom with a huge bathroom backing up to a tiny laundry and a galley kitchen. As an eleven year old I was impressed, but what impressed me more was an old garage on the property they had turned into a tractor shed for their cub cadet tractor and the work shop that was attached was turned into a chicken coup. Out side she had made a chicken wire run. I asked her why the chickens needed a ceiling. She said to keep animals out. She didn’t want the chicken hawks to eat her chickens. I am sure my eyes got big, because I remember looking at the skies and asking her what a chicken hawk looked like (I had a new baby sister that was not even as big as her laying hens, I was worried about her laying in the buggy in the sun).


I had never seen chickens before and was enamored with the idea of them. Great Aunt Flora took me inside to gather eggs and another lesson awaited me. I found wooden and glass eggs in the nest. I was told to leave them there. It teaches the hens where to lay their eggs.

I wish everyone could have a Great Aunt Flora in their life.

Now back to the original story. We left the last segment with the chickens learning what the outside was like. Each day it became routine to let the chicks out unless it was raining. Chickens are creatures of routine. They expect the same thing to happen everyday at the same time. My leghorns (rejects from the egg factory) were no different. When I came in, in the morning they crowded over to the little door, anxious to get out side. They never seemed to learn only one chicken can fit through the door at a time. It was always like the stuffing of a phone booth routine. Once released they always ran helter-skelter around the pen. You heard the raucous cackling and crowing and a tremendous flapping of wings. It was like a freedom cry.

For 2 weeks everything was copacetic. I wasn’t worried about leaving during the day because they seemed to recognize danger and run into the house at the slightest disturbance.

The kids and I went out grocery shopping, the little one blowing kisses to the chickens and telling them she’d be right back. (Mind you at other times she was saying she was afraid of them.) The shopping trip turned into dinner out, we returned home late. It was just getting dark and you could still see, especially if it was a white object. As we drove up to the house, against the black of the asphalt drive, were white objects all over the drive. It looked like someone had driven up and thrown out their towel wash. It was all our chickens. We jumped out, counted bodies and wondered what had broken into the fence and let the chickens out. Before it got too dark, I went around to see what damage there was.

I told the kids to pick up the chickens, one by one, and carry them into their house (the chickens had already decided it was sleep time, so they were very docile).

I surveyed the outside and couldn’t find any damage and scratched my head and wondered how they got out. I figured I would give a look see the next morning; they must have crawled under the fence.

The next morning I discovered no egress. So I opened the little gate and let the feathers fly. Yep that is exactly what happened, the feathers flew and flew and flew up and over the fence. The Exodus was complete.

They say hind sight doesn’t count; as the leghorns made the great escape, my eyes followed them skyward. I remembered looking at the sky when I was eleven years old and knew the real reason Aunt Flora had a ceiling for her chickens.

Episode 3:  “Double Trouble"
http://gloriouscreations.blogspot.com/2008/09/double-trouble.html

Other blog sites by me:
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle

Blogs about our pair of pitbulls.

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .

Please do not copy without permission 

A Fowl Story

On one of my internet groups there has been several discussions about peoples various experiences with fowl of all kind. I enjoyed the chook stories and remembered the fowl situations we have been through. Chuckling over the turkey stories (once you’ve known turkeys you would know why a person pulling a dumb stunt is called a turkey). I have never written of our challenging moments with the feathered “friends”. I decided this would be the time to bring them out in the open. Here is the beginning of our long association with feathered friends.

A very long time ago we decided we would move to the country. To be exact it was in 1973. The children were 5 and going to be 4. We left the subdivision and our home with a 2 car garage, fenced ¾ acre, four bedrooms, 2 baths and a full basement with a family room and fireplace. The house we were moving into had a 1/8 mile drive, 10 acres, no neighbors for ¼ mile any direction, three bedrooms, one bath, a combined living room dinning room and kitchen, with fireplace. There was no basement. It was built on a slab.

We lived in the house for three months when our almost 4 year old came up and said, “Mommy, when are we going to move upstairs.” I said, “We don’t have an upstairs. Why do we need an upstairs?” She replied, “This has tile floors like a basement we need rugs.”

Our “new” house had heating in the concrete floors. We couldn’t cover them with rugs.

We were very into gardening. We even started a wheat field on a half acre. We decided we could thresh our own wheat and make flour and then bake bread. Yes I know “back to the landers”. Our families were outraged. They said we were depriving our children.

We discovered our children were very sensitive to additives in foods and allergic to cow’s milk. We were gearing up to producing everything we consumed. We had already acquired goats and sheep. So we had available milk and meat. Next acquisition, Chickens!

I went looking for chickens already raised. We had neither the knowledge nor the room to raise chicks. I found a feed store that was also a hatchery. They had over-done layers, ones that had passed their prime. In other words they were not laying up to snuff.

I decided, if they weren’t laying every day, I should get twelve chickens. We used about 6 eggs a day for the families use. They boxed the white leghorns up in two cardboard boxes. I worried the poor hens would suffocate crammed in there and voiced my opinion about it. The clerk begrudgingly cut some holes in the sides of the boxes, immediately, out poked heads. They were ludicrous looking boxes eliciting a laugh from the other customers.

The hatchery must have never heard about loading a person’s car. They felt if you bought them you can cart them. So out to the car the boxed babes and I went in two trips. Six chickens moving around in a cardboard box are an armful. The boxes felt like they had a mind of their own.

Being I didn’t know I would be acquiring the hens so fast, we were not prepared with a place for them to reside. I called Hunny and told him about the hens and told him I would start making a place for them but would need his help finishing it up.

I cleared a corner in the old work shop, which was attached to the carport. Started looking for something to enclose the area in and couldn’t find anything. Off to the lumber yard I headed. I purchased a 50 foot roll of 4 ft high chicken wire. When Hunny came home he put up a corner post and another post 3 feet away on one side. Then we stretched the wire around it, leaving the three foot space open. In the open place he installed an old 3 foot wide screen door. We outfitted the 8x8 fenced area with a roost and feed and water dishes.

Are you worried about the chickens in the boxes? Don’t be, when I got home I hunted up the retired playpen and turned it upside down and placed the chickens under it. I had a surprise when I un-boxed the chickens. There were two eggs in one box. Those old ladies were not has-beens yet.

With the finishing of the “coop” we installed the chickens. The poor things just stood in the middle of the room. They had no idea what to do. We had to take each one and dip their beaks in the water dish to let them know where it was. And we had to peck with our fingers in the feed dish, they had no idea what the dish was for. Why were they so dumb? Because for the first 18 months of their lives the lived in a 10”x 10” x 12” cage. They did not know what to walk around was. It took three hours for them to start investigating their area. We realized the dilemma and knew we would just have to wait and watch till they got their land legs.

It took three days for the first one to realize she had wings. And when she started to flap them it was like there was no stopping. With in a few minutes others got the idea and you had 12 chickens running around on the floor flapping their wings.

They had no idea they could fly. We had not seen any evidence of the roost being occupied. We wondered how long it would take for them to find out they could fly. Their wing muscles must have atrophied with no use for 18 months. There was three weeks of running around and flapping before one run resulted in flight. Not too long after, the other hens realized they could fly and then they discovered the roost. As each hen reached the heights they would sit there and cackle at the tops of their voices. Bragging to the other hens they had done it.

We bought the chickens for eggs. We had provided them with two nest boxes. They were about 2 feet off the floor. Needless to say, they were not used. Eggs were laid everywhere. Some of the Hens picked the same corner to lay in. I was getting no less than 10 eggs a day…and sometimes 12. I was deluged with eggs. What to do with the excess. First I started making Challah requiring 12 egg yolks, the egg whites were used in an angle food cake. 
Tutorial For making Challah, not the one with 12 egg yolks:

I had plenty of cream and yogurt from the goats, I sometimes used the 12 egg whites to make a Bavarian Crème. Sponge cakes, I was making one a week. The kids were taking egg salad sandwiches in their lunches. I was still being overwhelmed with eggs. I decided to put the word out I had fresh country eggs for sale. People were disgruntled they were white shelled eggs and that they were not fertile eggs. The hunt was on for the one thing I could fix (I couldn't change the egg shell color). I could get a rooster to provide that function. It was just our luck; friends had bought pink and green chicks for their kids for Easter. Their kids were bored with caring for the “chicks” which had turned into roosters. The roosters were 6 months old and getting ornery and the neighbors did not like their morning revelry. They asked if we would give them a home. We told them it was very fortuitous, we were looking for a rooster for our hens.

Pinkie and Greenie (You could still tell who was who. The ear holes had stayed dyed.), arrived with feathers ruffled. When we put them in with the hens, they ran to one side of the pen and the hens to the other. We had a Mexican stand off. The roosters had never seen other chickens before. It was good they were leghorns. Chickens will pick on other chickens that look different than themselves. (This does not happen when they are raised together.) That night the hens got on the roost to sleep and the roosters staked out their corner and went to sleep.

The next morning (a nice fall morning with the windows open) we were startled out of bed with non-stop crowing. The previous owners only said the neighbors did not like to hear them crow, not that they crowed constantly. We went out to observe the crooners. They were occupying the roost and the hens were huddled in the corner. The roosters were still non-stop crowing. This time they were bragging they were king of the hill, gleefully waiting for someone to challenge their ownership of the perch.

It took four days before we noticed there was a mutual admiration society beginning in the household. Observing the tenants, I mentioned to Hunny we needed to make a pen for them to go out side. The living quarters were a little crowded for the shenanigans going on in the pen.

He used “T” posts and the remainder of the chicken wire to fence an area on the side of the work shop. He cut a door into the wall and hinged it so it could be closed when we wanted to keep the chickens in and other animals out, namely raccoons, opossums, and skunks who love to dine on a chicken smorgasbord.

There was still one more chore to be completed before the hens could make an excursion into the great unknown. They needed a ramp to go from the little door to greener pastures. Hunny fashioned a ramp with bars across it to give them traction to maneuver up and down it. (Chicken talons don’t grip flat boards well).

The ramp was installed and the door was latched open. We stood outside and watched the door….and watched the door…and watched the door. We went inside to see what the hang-up was. Why wasn’t the gang flocking out? The strangest sight greeted us. The chickens were lined up and parading past the door. They would look out one by one and then move on so the next one could look. We put on our thinking caps to see how we could get them to go out the door. Finally decided some cracked corn on the ramp to lead them out would work.

The corn was sprinkled, 3 heads reached out and promptly ate all the corn within reach. The other chickens decided they wanted in on the corn and tried to reach through the door. 


Mind you this door is only 12 inches by 12 inches. And 14 chickens are trying to reach through it. All of a sudden, with a squawk, a hen falls out the door and jumps up cackling and ruffling her feathers. She discovered the corn on the end of the ramp the other chickens couldn't reach. She started eating all the corn. The other chickens observing her decided they would brave the out of doors. They ran out together, getting stuck again in the door. With in 5 minutes the outdoor pen was filled with chickens learning how to scratch in the dirt. They were so excited. Then we wondered how we would get them to go back in.

There is nothing more perplexing than trying to out think a mini-brained bird. We went in the pen as the sun was going down and tried to herd them to the ramp and in. No way were they having anything to do with going in the door, much less being caught. We couldn't leave them out all night. It was going to rain and the coyotes had been running through the yard at night.

We went in for supper, leaving the light on inside the coop. We hoped they would be afraid of the dark and go inside.

When we went back outside to close the door and put them to bed we were the ones who had to apply a new strategy. The chickens had bedded down in the grass when the dark descended. We went in the pen and picked each chicken up and put them by the opening and pushed them through. Every chicken was clucking and fluffing wondering why they had rudely been awakened. We gave them time to settle down and hop on the roost and turned out the light.

The next day the chickens acted like they had done the routine everyday of their lives. Coming and going, in and out the door all day.

Next Chapter: Leghorns, the mass exodus.

http://gloriouscreations.blogspot.com/2008/09/leghorns-mass-exodus.html

Other blog sites by me:
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle

Blogs about our pair of pitbulls.

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .

Please do not copy without permission 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

HOMEMADE TOMATO SOUP

It takes tomatoes to make tomato soup. You can start with ones fresh out of the garden like the "Pineapple" one above displayed on a 6 1/2 inch saucer. Or you can use a can of store-bought tomatoes or a can of tomato sauce.

Tomato soup from Canned tomatoes or sauce

Which ever you use, it's a great soup. The difference is, using the canned tomatoes you will have tomato chunks in your soup.

Ingredients:

1 enormous onion (or the equivalent in smaller onions.)
2 tablespoons butter
15 oz can of tomato sauce or the larger can of whole tomatoes.
Flour (approximately 1/2 cup)
Milk or water ? It varies according to how much flour you use.
Fresh Basil (optional)

1. Peel and chop in, 1/4" dice, the onion. Saute till translucent (I cover the pan) in the butter (do not brown).

2. While the onion is cooking open the canned tomatoes and drain them, saving the juice in a bowl. If you are using sauce skip this step. Take the tomatoes and cut them in half horizontally. Use your finger to to clean out the seeds, throw these away. Cut the half into three/four pieces. Add the tomatoes to the bowl of juice.

3. When the onions are done stir flour into them. How Much? Use one tablespoon for every cup of liquid you will use. (When I make it I plan on adding at least a cup of liquid in addition to what amount I have in the cans. If I want a quart of product when the soup is finished I will use 4 tablespoons of flour. I whisk this into the onions having ready the tomatoes (sauce) on the side. When the flour is incorporated I immediately stir in the tomatoes (sauce) and as it thickens I stir in more liquid. I add liquid till it is the consistency I want for soup. Technically you are finished. This is when I taste and add salt, if necessary, and occasionally a teaspoon of sugar to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes.

Using milk as your liquid gives you a cream of tomato soup like a bisque. Using water or chicken broth gives you a brighter soup.

Right before I remove it from the heat, I julienne basil and throw it in. Basil's favor is best when it is not subjected to long cooking. For those unfamiliar with the properties of fresh basil, do not cut it till just before you use it, using a very sharp knife or scissors. Why, because it turns black quickly. Dried Basil does not give that fresh kick to the soup.

A BASIL HINT: When storing fresh basil always store it in the warmest part of your refrigerator (the butter keeper) or if that is not available then wrap in a damp paper towel and put in a plastic bag.  Wrap the bag of basil in a dish towel and place in one of those ice cream paper bags and put it in the veggie drawer. Under 45 degrees basil turns black. (Do not wash it, excess water does the same thing cold does).

USING FRESH TOMATOES FOR SOUP

Peel your tomatoes. You can use any color and any kind but you must peel them. Peelings have a very distasteful feel in the soup and they never cook down. Especially with the short cooking time of the soup. After peeling the tomatoes cut them horizontally and remove the seeds with your finger.

Cut the halves into pieces that would be about 1/2 inch dice. Do this over a bowl. You don't want to waste any of the juices. Being these are not canned tomatoes you will not have the quantity of juice like the canned does. I put 3/4 cup water in the bowl with them to get the flour and the onions cooking with them. How many tomatoes? I use a lot, at least the amount you would fill the large tomato can with cut up...I'd say about 2 cups.

As you can tell, you use the above recipe just substituting your own tomatoes. You can also tell I cook without measuring.

Tomato Soup goes very good with Herb bread.  Here is an easy recipe:


more blogs by me:

http://glosgarden.blogspot.com/
Where I have blocks about cats and pets
A blog about the courtship of my husband and I
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog: where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle

http://pitbulladog.blogspot.com/
Chronicling our adventures with a dumped Pit Bull Pup,
 who has become a hidden treasure.

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission

Fantastic Herb Bread

I wasn't going to post so soon, but I came into the house from the garden and decided brunch was just what I needed. I have been out since 6 AM, with nothing but my water bottle for company. The mornings have been crisp and cool. A preview of what is to come. We are having another warm up this weekend.

Even though we are in the mid west, we felt the fury of IKE. There is massive flooding, even deaths because of the storms. We are very lucky because we are nestled on the east side of an old mountain (now a hill). We are at the head of a valley.We can see for what seems forever.

Back to the brunch. Being Eggs are fast and available (remember I just pick them out of the coop) they are usually the first choice for a quick meal. I decided, maybe, scrambled or served up as a fried egg sandwich. When I went looking for bread I realized the only bread available was the "Old Fashioned Herb Bread" that I had made two days ago. I had baked them in flower pots, their shape when sliced, did not lend them to sandwiches. I decided toast with scrambled eggs would fit the bill. When I bit into the toast I knew I had made the right choice. The taste of the fresh hot sage was delightful. While eating it I thought, I wrote in blog I would post divine recipes. This one fits the bill.

This recipe comes from a cookbook published in 1974 by the Culinary Arts Institute (Chicago). It is "The American Family Cookbook".

This is a yeast bread, that adds to its appeal by being super easy to make.

"Old Fashioned Herb Bread"

INGREDIENTS:
1 pkg dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water 
1 teaspoon sugar 
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
3 Tablespoons fresh sage (Dry ground sage use 3 teaspoons). corection:  I made the bread today and 3 is too much on the dry herb.  Use 2.
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. 
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon of oil (for oiling the rising bowl)
caraway seeds (for sprinkling on top)

One pkg dry yeast (I have the bulk bakers dry instant yeast and I use 1 1/2 Tablespoons) If you bake a lot or a little the yeast comes in 1 lb vacuumed packed package from Sam's Club (Cosco and other places probably have it too.) When you open the package pour it into a canning jar and screw a lid on it and place in the door of the refrigerator. I have had a package last more than a year. It is a big savings over the individual packets or the jar sold at the grocery store. The Quart Jar is large enough to accommodate a Tablespoon, too. No need to wash the spoon each time you use it.

1/4 cup warm water + 1 teaspoon sugar stirred in(the original recipe doesn't add the sugar but I have found the yeast is more responsive when you do)
1. Sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and stir in. Set aside to proof. For those who are new to yeast baking, proofing gives the yeast a chance to grow and bubble up before you add it to your recipe. BTW, if it doesn't bubble up, you have yeast that is no longer alive. Pour out the mix and start over with a new packet. (It takes about 10 minutes for the yeast to grow and double if it is set in a warm location.)

While the yeast is proofing do the following:
1. 3/4 cup whole milk heated very hot in the microwave. (the recipe says scald, but in this day and age of pasteurized milk it is unnecessary)
2. Place 3 tablespoons butter in the mixing bowl, with 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (if you use salted butter only add 1 1/4 teaspoons salt). For new bakers, do not leave out the salt. Salt is necessary to control the growth of the yeast and for flavor.
Pour the very hot milk over the above and mix until everything is dissolved and incorporated.

3. You will be using a total of 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour. All purpose flour works but bread flour works even better. (Since I started using bread flour I have had a more consistent finished product.)

Stir 1 cup of flour into the milk mixture. Mix well.
4. Beat 1 large egg in a cup. (the egg should be room temperature.) Chop fresh sage very fine use 3 Tablespoons. (Dry sage from the store works well too, use 3 teaspoons). You need 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Stir these ingredients into your beaten egg.
5. If your milk mixture has cooled to about 115 degrees or very warm to the hands (Not hot you'll cook the egg), beat in the egg mixture into your milk mixture.
6. When well incorporated add your bubbling yeast. Mix well and start adding the last 2 cups of flour. You will have a very sticky dough (unless you live in a real arid part of the country where your flour is naturally drier right out of the bag.
7. Sprinkle the last 1/2 cup flour on your table or board. Brush the major amount over to the side leaving a heavy film on the table. Scrape your dough out of the bowl onto the flour. Start kneading the dough in the flour adding a coating on the ball if it is too sticky to work with. This is a very soft dough and you do not want to work it till it is a firm dough. If you add too much flour you will have a very dense loaf.
8. Place a tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Roll it around till the sides are coated. Put your dough ball in the bowl and then turn it over, you will have greased the ball to keep it from drying out. I cover my bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to double in bulk. (It seems to take longer to double than most yeast doughs.)

9. While your dough is rising you can do clean up duty and grease the pan you will bake it in.
I have used a large ceramic baker (looks like a souffle dish) I grease it with Crisco and then sprinkle corn meal on the bottom. Yes I know what they say about saturated and trans fats. But I have tried Pam, olive oil and other forms of fats and have had very unsatisfactory results with the bread sticking.

I have used the 9 inch pie pan the recipe suggests. It makes a low round loaf. I prefer the higher loaf of the ceramic baker. It looks like a chefs hat when finished.
I have also used loaf pans. Makes a great sandwich loaf but doesn't have the flair of the pie pan or the ceramic baker when served.
This last time I made the bread I used some glazed flower pots I have that were made for cooking. (only use flower pots you know do not have clay or glaze that contains lead.) I don't know if you could foil line some pots and make them safe to bake in or not. Anyway, the results were fantastic. It made 4 (4 inch) pots. Each resulting "roll" that easily serves two or you can if you are really hungry eat one by yourself.
10. When the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rest in the bowl 10 minutes. Then take it out and give it a quick knead and shape into a round ball. Place in the middle of the container you will be baking it in and let it rise till double in bulk. When you see it is near completion of rising, preheat your oven to 400 F degrees.
At this time you can take a beaten egg white and brush the surface of the dough and sprinkle it with caraway seeds. (This is totally unnecessary but if you are serving to company is a nice touch.) If you are not using the seeds then it is unnecessary to brush the dough with egg white (the crust is darker if you brush it with egg white).

11. Place in the 400 degree oven for 10 minutes and then lower the heat to 350. (the recipe book says 375 but I have found this is too hot in my oven.) bake 25 minutes more. This loaf is very dark on the crust. (I have found the loaf Pan does not need this time and fiddling with the temp.   I bake the loaf pans a 375 for 25 minutes. Just like I would bake a similar white bread loaf)
Note: the book says you can add 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds to the dough when you add the sage. I never have tried this. I imagine you could use other herbs instead of the sage but why this is so fantastic.
This bread served with homemade tomato soup WOW...BTW...tomato soup home made is just about as easy as opening a can of the canned kind...and so much more satisfying.  This is my version of a quickie tomato soup:




Other blogs by me:
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle

Blogs about our pair of pitbulls.

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission