Friday, September 28, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here   

It's that time of year again.

Molting season has begun. I found a big pile of fluffy feathers under Buttercup's spot on the roost a few weeks back, so I knew she had begun to molt. She is still losing feathers, but I think she's winding down because now some of her wing feathers are falling out. Her tail feathers will be next, then her body will be in full feather production mode.

I have lots of feathers that I've collected over the years and I've always wanted to display them somehow. I decided this year to do just that with one of Buttercup's small feathers. 

I bought a picture frame with a mat and wrote "Buttercup 2012" in freehand on the mat. I wanted to use a fine point sharpie, but we only had the wide tip version so that's what I ended up using. I had a piece of gray felt left over in my craft bin, so I used that as the background for the feather.

I really like how it turned out and may frame some more like this in the future. Until then, I'm on the lookout for other creative ways to display my feather collection. Any ideas, fellow feather collectors?



The Chicken Chick

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This post also featured on Stacked Stone Farm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Peaceful Animal Cohabitation

Three years ago when we first got our chickens, I would sit out with them and think, "How cool would it be if we had a bunch of animals that all got along and I could hang out with all of them at the same time?" I had visions of chickens on my lap and a dog at my side. I love that my vision of peaceful animal cohabitation is now my reality.

When we bring Duchess out to play and let the chickens free range, Sylvester comes over to hang out. He can usually be found sprawled out in the middle of them all, usually close to Duchie. He really seems to be in love with her. He follows me down to the coop in the mornings when I let the chickens out and gives Duchess a good full-body pet. Duchie seems pretty indifferent to his attention, but I think she'll start to like her buddy any day now.

Sylvester couldn't win Baby over, so I guess he's trying to work his magic on Duchie now.


Down Home Blog Hop

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cats & Cows

Over the weekend we had a few activities lined up. On Saturday I went to a local fair with some family while David had guys over to shoot guns, and Sunday we went to a graduation party for one of David's cousins. We did manage to get in a little relaxation time, but nothing like the cats. They are masters of relaxation.

I had fun at the fair checking out all the animals. There were so many different breeds of chickens and other fowl, but I had my eyes on the cows.

I've loved cows for a while now, especially babies. About a year ago I added petting a cow to my bucket list, and I am happy to say that this weekend I got to check that one off!

This cow was a sweetie and I think I could have stayed there all day petting her, but a little kid was patiently waiting his turn so I decided to share the love.

I took one item off my bucket list but added another - win a ribbon at a fair. There were all sorts of entries at the fair that won ribbons - photography, flower arrangements, baked goods, and canned foods to name a few. I'd love to be a blue ribbon winner someday. :)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here  

We've been getting lots of eggs around here since our new pullets started laying last month. Usually now we're collecting between six and eight eggs per day! We really don't eat eggs all that often, so it's hard for us to keep up with egg inventory.

When we were only getting three or four eggs a day, we'd put them in our egg crates in the fridge until we had enough to fill a carton for a friend or family member. Now we fill up cartons so fast, the eggs just go straight to the cartons and we keep some eggs for us to eat in the crates.

Sometimes our fridge is full of egg cartons, so recently I've been intrigued by the notion of keeping eggs out on the counter at room temperature. Important side note - this would only be for eggs that have never been refrigerated! When eggs are taken from the fridge to room temperature, they sweat and the protective coating on the egg (called the "bloom") dissolves, making it very easy for bacteria to enter eggs through the shells.

Of course the FDA advises against this, but I've heard chicken keepers say they keep eggs out at room temperature for up to three weeks! They definitely last longer in the fridge (I have eaten a four month old egg before and it still tasted great), but sometimes I do leave a few out on the counter. Especially if I know I'm going to be baking in the next few days, because it's always better to bake with room temperature ingredients.

Apparently around the world, especially in Europe, it's the norm to keep eggs at room temperature, and people rarely refrigerate their eggs. If we ate eggs that fast, I'd have no issues with keeping a big basket of eggs on the counter!


The Chicken Chick

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rosemary Mini Cupcakes

I found this recipe a few years back when we planted our very first garden. Our rosemary did exceptionally well, and I was trying to find any recipe I could to utilize our harvest.

Much to my surprise, I found recipes for desserts with rosemary! My insatiable sweet tooth wouldn't let me pass up on this recipe for mini cupcakes. They turned out great and David really loved them, so I added the recipe to my collection.

David recently had a pot luck at school and requested these cupcakes, which we have dubbed "Rosemary's Baby Cupcakes." One of these days we'll have to watch that movie.

The great thing about the recipe (found here) is how easy and quick it is. You prepare a white cake mix like you normally would, then add in rosemary and orange zest. After baking and cooling, the mini cupcakes get a glaze made of powdered sugar and orange juice. And that's it!

The second best thing about these mini cupcakes is they are pretty much guilt-free. They only have 35 calories and 1g of fat per cupcake!

They are the perfect little treat to satisfy your sweet tooth without ruining your diet. If you can eat just a couple, that is. But beware, they are very addictive!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How To Repurpose An Old Chair

A few years back when we were still living at our old house, we bought this great chair at an antique shop. It had been painted white and was perfect for the corner of our bedroom next to the window. We sold a lot of our furniture when we moved since our current place is much smaller than our old house, but we brought along the antique chair.

It had a home on our back porch and was put to good use whenever we had company. Seems that it was used a little too much because it started to break. The back basically fell apart and we tried to fix it to no avail. We brainstormed new uses for the chair, with our original thought to turn it into a flower planter of some sort. That never really panned out, so the other day David suggested we remove the back and use it as a stool.

Seemed like a great idea until we realized the bottom was shot, too! There was a big crack down the middle and it was starting to cave in. Definitely not safe for anyone to sit on. I got frustrated, thinking we'd have to pitch the whole thing. But then, a light bulb went off.

I've been wanting a side table next to the swing for drinks and magazines, and thought this might be perfect. It was just about the right height, but the top was damaged from removing the back. David offered to sand it down and repaint, but I suddenly remembered a little bit of fabric I had picked up a long time ago in the remnant section at Hobby Lobby, and our new side table was born!

I really like how the legs are visible and it still looks a little distressed. I got a deal on mums at Buchheit's while picking up some chicken feed and used some of them to liven up the space (the container we used is recycled from a housewarming gift from our friends Jay and Angela).

It didn't take David long to put the table to good use.

We also have an idea to use the back of the chair in our revamped garden next year. Be on the look out for how we repurpose the back in a future post!


Shared with  Budget Decorating Party, Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest #1, Repurposed Ideas Weekly, The Shabby Nest

Monday, September 17, 2012

Year In Review

Today marks the one year anniversary of Our Neck of the Woods! I'm really excited and thought it would be fun to look back over the past year and see what all we've accomplished. I was hesitant to start this blog, but my sweet friend Heather gave me the push I needed to put myself out there and I'm so glad she did. I've never been one for attention, so it was hard for me to express myself for the whole world to see. But now I can't imagine NOT doing it. Sharing bits and pieces of rural living through photos and words has become a passion for me and I am so glad I took the plunge one year ago. Here's what we've been up to this past year.

1) Discovered how much we enjoy exploring our woods and feeling like kids again when we discover amazing bugs and critters we've never seen before.

2) Learned more about foraging and went mushroom hunting in our woods for the first time. Figured out how to identify and cook puffballs!

3) Realized that it's important to take time every once in a while to treat yo self.

4) Made the discovery of a lifetime - banana ice cream!

5) Started a new tradition of Christmas tree shopping in our own back yard.

6) Waged a war on ticks with the help of a new flock of guineas.

7) Dealt with the worst heartbreak we'd ever experienced as homesteaders and learned to let our bad experiences strengthen us.

8) Eight new little pullets were added to our flock; one of which turned out to be a rooster!

9) Started a new series on the blog called Feathered Friend Friday.

10) Lots of progress was made with Duchess. She's so playful and happy now!

11) Started a facebook page for the blog and also registered a custom domain name for the blog.

12) For the first time ever, we witnessed eggs hatching and became proud grandparents!

13) Successfully completed the logging process on our 20 acres of woods. Still working on clean up, though!

14) Perhaps my favorite change over the past year - finally upgraded to a new camera!

15) Learned so much about gardening this past year and plan to use what we've learned to help us out with next year's garden.

This past year has been a wild ride. Can't wait to see what the next year brings!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here 

I have a confession to make. I love chicken butts!

They are big, soft, fluffy and beautiful.

Turns out, there is a reason for all that fluff. When a pullet is mature and starts laying eggs, her fluff really starts to grow and get thick. This is in preparation for motherhood as newborn chicks stay under their mother's bottom to keep warm until they get their own feathers.

Our new pullets just started to lay within the last month, so their fluff is at maximum capacity! They look so good all feathered out with big, fluffy bottoms. I think they're getting tired of me patting their butts, but I can't help it!


This post is linked up to Coop Hop #2.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grandma's Recipes

There's something I absolutely adore about old, handwritten recipes. I get so nostalgic when I see them and imagine the cook standing over a hot stove while referring to the little note card to get the ingredients or technique for a dish just right.

My grandma is a fabulous cook and has made many meals for me throughout my life. While I was in college, every Thursday I would go to her house for a spectacular homemade lunch. Each semester when planning my classes I would make sure I'd have enough of a break in between to get away for lunch at grandma's. I have so many treasured memories of our lunches together. Most of the time my two brothers and sometimes my father would join us, so that made it extra special.

I went to visit grandma after work today and asked if she had any of her recipes written down or if she just cooked from memory. I was surprised to know she still refers to her old recipes after all these years. She went to her cupboard and pulled out her recipe box to share with me.

Once I had looked through the recipes and grabbed the lid to put back on the box, I noticed this taped inside the lid.

Looks like one day I will inherit all these treasures. I pray it's one day in the very distant future.


This post shared with TALU

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spaghetti With A Twist

I really love spaghetti, but David's not the biggest fan. We don't have it all that often but every once in a while I get a craving that I can't resist. I found this recipe that calls for several surprising ingredients (like nutritional yeast, walnuts, and spinach) and thought I'd give it a whirl.

Tomato Walnut Basil Pasta - from Oh She Glows

Yield: 3.5 cups sauce

  • One 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (yield: 1 cup diced)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, stems removed & chopped finely
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 large handfuls spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat spaghetti)


1. Chop onion and garlic. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the onion and cook over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook on low for another 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.
2. Add in the oregano, salt, and black pepper. Stir well. Cook on low for a few minutes. Now add in the 28oz of crushed tomatoes, chopped basil, and nutritional yeast. Stir. Bring to a low boil and then simmer on low for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta.
3. Stir in the chopped walnuts and the chopped spinach. Cook for about 10 minutes longer on med-low. Serve over pasta and garnish with basil leaves and additional walnuts. Makes about 3.5 cups sauce.

Dinner was actually ready before the sun went down, so we had a picnic in the back yard.

I really enjoyed this recipe. The only thing I think I'll change next time around is omitting the walnuts and sprinkling the pasta with panko bread crumbs for a lighter crunch. Even David enjoyed this one, so into the recipe folder it goes!


Monday, September 10, 2012

I Know Fall Is Coming When...

There is a crisp chill to the morning air.

It is nice enough to open the windows and the cats take full advantage.

Lazy weekend mornings look something like this.

The rich aroma of slow-roasted tomatoes fills the air.

My dried leaf garland goes back up on the headboard.

The pumpkin spice latte is back!

What about you? When do you know fall is coming in your neck of the woods?


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Simple and Joyful's Connect: fall Series