Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

We had a great extra long weekend. David was off school on Friday, and I took the day off as well so we could hang out. We worked on the trails a little bit and then took a loooong nap. Perfect Friday.

Wildflowers along the trail.
Saturday was the last marching band competition of the season in Ste. Genevieve. And guess what - the band won 1st place!!!

Don't they look great?!
They had an amazing season - five 1st place trophies and one 2nd place. I'm so proud of David!

I got a chance to work on my pumpkins for the front porch. Didn't get them all done, but the one I did turned out pretty well. I really like it! Traced on the "B" with a dry erase marker then placed the thumb tacks, erasing the marker as I went along. Would be cute to do your house number as well!

We pulled out Baby's house from the garage and put it by the back porch so she could have some shelter in the colder nights.

I think she likes it! She hangs out in it all the time now.

The chickens had fun in the warm weather on Sunday. What is a chicken's favorite thing to do in warm weather?

Take a dust bath!

Poor Chickabod is looking a little funny in this picture.
Just after dust bathing and she's in the middle of a molt!

Of course the chickens are ALWAYS up for kitchen scraps.

With the nights being colder lately, we've been making good use of our fireplace. I love cozy nights by the fire!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


When we moved out here to the new place, we wanted to get a good guard dog for our chickens. There are a lot more predators out here in the woods than in the city. I've read plenty of horror stories online about chicken owners losing all of their flock to a raccoon, fox, or other predator at night. Since we raised our hens from tiny little chicks we have become very attached to them and don't want to lose them that way.

I began searching online for a livestock guardian dog (or LGD as they are called). The most common breed used is great pyrenees, but there are many other breeds that are good guardians as well. We found a dog online who looked promising - a great pyrenees/sheepdog mix. She was so cute in the picture, all white and very fluffy. Only 10 months old and had been raised with goats. We figured since she had been around livestock since she was born, she'd be a good guard dog.

I called to get more information on her, and found out her name was Duchess. Her owners ran a goat farm in Salem, MO. I'd heard of Salem, and thought it wasn't too far away, so I told the owner that we'd come check her out that weekend. Come to find out, Salem is about 3 hours away from us! We still made the trip, and when we first met her she was soooooo shy. Wouldn't come near us or look anywhere in our direction. I had some big doubts about her, but since we drove all that way, we decided to bring her home.

This was her first day with us.
From what we can tell, she was severely neglected during her short time with her previous owners. She was so shy and scared of everything, and her hair was a matted mess. She seemed so sad and depressed, it really broke my heart. But I was determined to get her to open up and be happy. I showered her with as much love and affection as I could, and after about a month she became comfortable around me. She still didn't want anything to do with David and would run away from him and be so terrified that she would pee (or sometimes poop) after she saw him coming. Of course he had never done anything at all to hurt her, but I'm assuming she hasn't had the best experiences with men.

Then she changed the other day. I got home and David came up to me in a panic and said, "I think there's something wrong with Duchess. She must be injured or something." I thought, "Oh no, what happened now?!" He went on to tell me that when he went into the pen, she didn't run away from him! He squatted down to pet her, and she let him! I told him that was a good thing but he was sure she was just hurt and unable to run away from him. So I checked her out and she was totally fine. The next day, she let him come near her and pet her again! I don't want to jinx it, but I think she's finally coming around.

Maybe it's time for an eyebrow trim?
I read a lot online about adopting neglected or abused dogs, and many people say it can take up to a year for them to turn around. So I was ready to be in it for the long haul. It has been 4 months since we brought her home, so I really hope she's coming around.

How can you not love that face?
She has always run away from me when I try to take pictures of her, but this past weekend she let me get some shots and I went kind of crazy.

I think she was getting fed up with the camera :)

Everyday I hug her and I tell her I love her and that she's a good girl. I think she's finally starting to believe it. :)

Really fed up with the camera at this point.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Howdy Neighbor

We are pretty secluded out here. We have neighbors on one side with about 10 acres of woods in between us and no one on the other side til you get to the end of the county road about half a mile or so down. Behind us is a beagle club which is basically just a big, open field.

We do have a lot of neighbors across the street from us, though. At least 50 or so I'd guess. It's hard to keep count. They are normally pretty quiet and keep to themselves, but they can get very loud at times!

Cows! I remember the first time we came out to see this property with our realtor, they were right up against the fence so close to the road I wanted to get out and take a closer look. After we moved here, every night for the first couple weeks I'd just go across the street and watch them. I tried to get them to come over to me, but apparently they don't come when you call them.

I love old red barns.

And to me, the only thing better than a cow is a baby cow, so imagine my excitement when I saw this.

!!! So cute! I stood across the street on the edge of our property watching them. The baby was scared of me and my camera, so I had to zoom like crazy and hope the pictures turned out.

Then baby got hungry!

So precious. I think I could watch them for hours.

Sometimes I can't believe how blessed we are. I feel so grateful to have the place of our dreams. It has been so amazing to watch all the changes that happen from summer to fall out in the country. One thing I've noticed is the past few weeks there have been flying beetles everywhere at dusk. The chickens are loving it! They run around and snatch them mid-air. I have to chase the chickens every night and force them to go in their coop because they love eating the beetles so much.

The leaves haven't changed too dramatically yet, but I'm thinking with it being cooler this week it might give them the push they need. Hopefully I can get some good shots of the changing leaves. I love fall!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Catching Up

Things have been kind of busy around here lately. Last weekend we had a very busy Saturday in Charleston at a marching band festival. Of course the band got 1st in the field show! Only two more Saturday competitions left in this season!

Since we had a busy day on Saturday, we took Sunday off.

It was such a nice day that we did some lounging outside with magazines and books. I even got a little cat nap in :)

We've been exploring our woods a lot lately. David has been making trails for us and it's so fun to take evening hikes.

Of course Baby is always in tow.

Tonight for dinner I made venison chili. We still have some deer meat left from last year when David went hunting, and I wanted to try a chili recipe with venison instead of ground beef.

Turned out pretty good! You can't tell it's venison, either. I used a recipe from the current Better Homes & Gardens that calls for ground beef, just subbed in the venison.

We've got another busy weekend coming up, but hopefully I can squeeze in some pumpkin decorating! I found these ideas online and I can't wait to try a few of them!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Foray into Foraging

Last weekend we went hunting. The only type of hunting I will ever do - mushroom hunting!

Of course we had our foraging feline with us. Baby followed us around the whole time! Looks like she's trying to sniff out some mushrooms for us.

David has been researching the different types of mushrooms so we could identify the edible varieties on our search. We went out after all the rain we had last week and there were mushrooms everywhere! Unfortunately, most of them were inedible.

Not sure what these are called, but pretty sure they are inedible. Better safe than sorry, so we left them!

Based on what we've read, these look inedible as well. Boo!

Found these cute little spiky things. Even if they were edible, they were only about the size of a dime.

Finally, we got lucky! Found a bunch of puffball mushrooms. Definitely edible! Hooray!

Apparently, puffballs can reach the size of a basketball! Didn't find any near that size, but this one was pretty big.

At a certain point, puffballs become inedible. You have to cut them open and inspect the inside. If it is all white and fluffy looking, you are good to go. If there is any yellowish tint at all, scrap it. Eventually puffballs start to grow spores inside which can be harmful. The yellowish tint is the first sign that spores are starting to "sprout" inside.

This one was good!

We looked up how best to cook puffballs, and one method is to saute them in some butter or olive oil. Another option, which seems to be the most popular, is to dip in egg, coat in bread crumbs and pan fry.

The first step in preparing the mushrooms is peeling off the tough outer layer of the mushroom. You can eat it, but we read that it may upset your stomach because it is hard to digest. Then slice about 1/4" thick and prepare how you like.

We tried both methods, and frying is definitely the best!

When I ate these fried puffballs, I was immediately transported back to a memory from my childhood. When I was little, my grandma used to pick wild mushrooms from her yard and fry them for us. These tasted exactly like hers! I remember one time she got pretty mad at my grandpa because he mowed over some mushrooms she wanted to pick. :)

I'm hoping we'll find some morels next spring! Until then, we'll study up on mushroom identification. Especially false morels. Yikes!