Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

It is that time again.  It is Halloween and I hope your little ghosts and goblins have a splendid time Trick-or-Treating, carving their jack-o-lanterns, and trading candy with siblings.  (Remember kids, if your sister says she will trade you 1 piece for your 2 pieces, she is scamming you!)

Sadly, we will be skipping Trick-or-Treat at this house because I have pneumonia and can't exert that much energy.  With all these steroids I could eat some serious chocolate though!  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Simple Recipe: Mexican Chili

Photo Credit: Abagail Henderson

With the chill of fall upon us the promise of a hot meal that you can prepare for your family is a necessity.  I love this weather, and I crave simple meals this time of year.  I love hearty, hot comfort food that is easy to prepare and can be finished off with a good book and winter quilt for dessert!  I want to give you folks a simple, 6 ingredient recipe that will be sure to warm your belly and heart this season.

Mexican Chili

1 lb. browned, ground beef
15 oz. can of chili beans (Use hot beans for more spice!)
15 oz can of kidney beans
12 oz of salsa (We used the salsa we canned from the summer!)
1 1/4 oz pkg of chili seasoning mix
Cheddar cheese

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot; add 1/2 - 1 cup of water.  Bring this to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve in bowls or mason jars, and top with Chedder cheese!  Serves 4.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Better than Pintrest!

All week I have been putting together accessories for my nephew's Halloween costumes.  My part this year was the decorating of treat bags and a hat for Isaac's friendly ghost costume.  I am not overly crafty, but I can manage a glue gun and some acrylic paint.  What I now know I can't handle is glitter!  Even glitter that is well planned out is a mess, as one friend on my Facebook page mentioned:  It is the herpes of crafts!  

In the making of Isaac's hat I had glitter everywhere.  In fact with the overcast weather, and the glitter all over my body I resembled a character off the Twilight movies!  I put the finishing touches on the hat this morning, an hour before we were ready to march in the Halloween parade.  I think it ended up looking great, and the best part is that he actually wore the hat!  (There is nothing more frustrating than putting a lot of time and effort into a costume only to have the toddler not wear it.....)  

We had a great time although it was freezing cold, and Cooper got second place in the 2 year old boy costume contest for his Sheriff costume!  

The new Sheriff in town: Cooper!

Waldo Abby and Isaac the Friendly Ghost!

Amos the Horse and Katzya the Equestrian

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lead by example....

As I, turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat, this wind is blowin’ my mind.  I see the kids in the street with not enough to eat.  Who am I to be blind?  Pretending not to see their needs.  
- Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror

Tonight I have seen the worst of humanity and I chose not to go down that road.  I can’t.  I won’t.  Not now.  Not ever.  I chose to lead by example.  It is my belief that everyone is someone.   Everyone you come into contact with is someone’s child, parent, cousin, or sibling.  Even if he has no living relatives we still have the same Father.  It is my belief that my Father would not only want me to love another, He would expect nothing less from me.  Truth be told I would expect nothing less from myself.  To not honor another human being is a downright shame, and I could not live with myself if I blindly closed an eye to another man’s struggle.  It is a quality that is sometimes my worst quality, yet more often than not it is my best quality. 

Tonight I went to Chipotle.  Chipotle is one of my favorite restaurants, and even though the Reluctant Farmer and I are supposed to be watching what we eat I had an unwavering desire to eat there.  Moreover I had a desire to eat at a Chipotle that was 20 minutes farther from my usual restaurant.  Still, I felt compelled to eat at this particular Chipotle and I listened to my inner voice.  I place my order, nearly grabbed a seat inside, but at the last minute realized that there was one seat left on the patio.  (It has been unseasonably warm here for the last few days and I wanted to enjoy my last few nice days of the season by eating outside.)  I was facing the road, eating, when I heard a young lady next to me say to her boyfriend, “Eww!  He is so scary and disgusting!”  I looked up to see a very dirty, badly manicured man coming towards the patio.  This man was filthy.  He had jeans with holes all over them, a filthy sweatshirt on, a sleeping bag tucked under his arm, and a very small knapsack with him.  The beard that he was sporting was overgrown and his hair long and stringy.  There was no question he was homeless.  He had something tucked under his sweatshirt that he was protecting, and I will admit for a minute my initial thought was:  “I hope he is not wielding a gun.”  With all eyes on him, everyone watched this man look for a place to sit down.  He made eye contact with me, and I instantly recognized this man as my brother.  We have the same Father, and there was no way I could stand by while everyone else watched him.  I did what I hoped mankind would do but did not, and I lead by example. 

I greeted this man and told him hello.  He looked back at me and said hello back with a smile and twinkle in his eye that would light up even the darkest of nights.  The light in his eye was refreshing and pure, and for I minute I will admit I was captivated by this man.  I didn't think twice before asking this man to sit down and eat dinner with me.  You could tell he was uncomfortable at first.  Our conversation went a little like this:

Me:  Would you like to sit down and eat with me?

Him:  I am not used to anyone asking me to join them for dinner.  I’m afraid I don’t smell very good, but I would love to eat with you.

Me:  (With all eyes on me….)  I just worked 8 hours and sweated up a storm!   I don’t smell too great myself!  Can I buy you dinner?

Him:  “I brought my own dinner!”  He excitedly whispers: “I have a cheeseburger from McDonald's!”  He produced a very beat up McDonald’s bag from under his sweatshirt.  (It turns out he was wielding a cheeseburger, not a gun!) 

We have a fairly normal conversation at dinner although sometimes it is not easy to understand what he says and it doesn't make much sense.  He explains he is from California, and that he hitchhiked here to Ohio a few months ago.  He has a great sense of humor, and this brilliant light in his eyes.  He explains that he always tries to find the good in people, and that he knows that there was a reason we met tonight.  I know he is right.  I can feel it in my heart.  I went next door to Burger King and bought him a large gift card so he could eat many meals and get a warm cup of coffee several times a day.  When I brought it back to him, he grinned from ear to ear.  (I had to explain how a gift card worked but he then understood.)  I also had this terrible thought that he was going to be cold if he stayed around here much longer so I gave him a blanket that I keep in my car for emergencies (This was emergent!) and I also gave him my coat so he would be warm and water resistant.  At the end of this exchange we hugged and parted ways, and as I drove away the tears flowed down my face.  I cried for a man I didn't know before a chance meeting tonight.  I cried for a man that was an outcast amongst other fellow human beings, and I cried for the people that could have made a difference in the life of someone else by simply offering a seat or a friendly greeting.  At what point has society turned so callous, that we would judge a fellow man in need rather than sit with him for a meal?  I cried because my life was changed tonight by a man named Ron.  I didn't know him before tonight, but I know now that he is my brother.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ghost Walk: Survived!

Last night we went on the annual Olde Tippecanoe Ghost Walk hosted by Browse Awhile Books in Tipp City.  It was a great time, and we learned so much!  The history of our town is amazing and it was fun to walk around to the different buildings and hear about some of their history and supposed hauntings.  Browse Awhile Books is a used book store located right here in historic downtown.  The store is over 2,000 sq. ft. and has thousands of books available for your reading pleasure.  The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, but none of this is as exciting as the ghosts that reside here. 

Katzya standing in the haunted basement of Browse Awhile.

I must admit that I was not a huge believer in ghosts until I went to this store several years ago.  While standing in the mystery section, looking for a book that was supposedly there, I had become frustrated.  I was so involved in my search for this book that I was talking, out loud, under my breath and I remember saying, "Ugh, I can't find this book!"  When all of the sudden a book whirled past my right ear, about a foot away from me, and landed on the floor.  I looked down, and guess what?!  It was the book I was looking for!  Shocked and scared out of my mind, I left that store as quick as my feet would let me (without the book!) and thought I could never go back.  I love this store though, and I love to support small local buisnesses so, not returning was not an option either.  Amanda and her staff staff were so wonderful that for 2 years I would call in my book order and they would bring it outside to me!  

This was the freakiest thing I saw all night.  A small mannequin child staring at me.....

Last summer I decided to try this again.  I was invited to a book signing for Gypsy Publications that was going to take place at Browse Awhile, and knew I needed to get over my fear and move on.  I went back into the store and nothing happened.  (I am still nervous to go back too far, but I have made it to the mystery section again briefly!)  I have seen no other evidence of helpful ghosts and I make sure I don't ask for help out loud to anyone other than the employees.  That ghost is probably offended that I was so rude the first time, it doesn't want to help me this time anyway.....

Do you think whoever this skeleton belonged to thought they would eventually end up in an antique shop in Tipp City?

If you are up for some Halloween fun, be sure to check out Browse Awhile Books in Tipp City for their ghost walk that takes place every Saturday in October from 6-9 pm.  They are located at 118 E. Main St.
in Tipp City, Ohio and their phone number is 937-667-7200.  The cost for admission to the walk is $7.00 regularly or $5.00 if you bring a canned good to be donated to the Tipp City Needy Basket.  The tour is free for children 5 and under and is a family friendly event!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Autographs and a Fountain Coke

This morning was supposed to start off uneventful enough, however as soon as my alarm sounded I knew that was not going to be a reality.  I was running very late taking Katzya to school, so I quickly threw a sweatshirt over my pajamas, a headband in my hair, and drove her to school in all my glory.  If you can picture this, my hair resembled a Brillo pad that had been caught in the garbage disposal.  It was a hot mess! I had no time to brush my teeth, and I was wearing pajama pants that were adorned with some outlandish cartoon characters on them.  I was honestly a fair candidate for one of those People of Walmart photos.  

After dropping Katzya off at school I decided I would run past McDonald's for breakfast in order to speed up my morning routine.  As I pulled up to the speaker one of the women that I have known for years says, "I didn't know you were famous!"  I laughed and was a bit confused.  At the window, another woman said: "Hey, are you Emily?"  I confirmed that I was indeed Emily, and was slightly confused as to how she knew my name.  (I am still half asleep at this point and the fountain Coke has not kicked in yet...)  She excitedly tells me that she saw me on television Thursday night, and she was very excited about the blue eggs that I was talking about.  I immediately knew that the urban farm documentary they had taped here at my house must have been on the air!  I thanked the woman for her kind words and drove to the next window where another woman exclaimed, "It is you!  Can I have your autograph?!"  Of course, like the half asleep but still quick witted person that I am, I quickly replied: "Seriously?!"  I realized right away she was serious and signed the paper that she handed me.  Stellar!  This is how I look the moment people determine that I am worthy of signing their napkins?!  

For those of you that have asked, and those of you that just want a good laugh I have added a link to my video interview below.  (Click on the picture of the rock, Mom!)  Minus my hair, I think it turned out pretty well....

Video and show credits go to Whitney Davis at KIT-TV.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cross Beak/Scissor Beak: Not Hopeless

This spring when we bought chicks we were excited to bring home several Americauna chicks.  They were so cute and I was in love with one chick in particular.  I spent a lot of time with this baby because she was so personable and had these adorable fluffy cheek feathers.  At about 2 weeks old I noticed my little chick had a beak problem.  The top portion of her beak was jutting to the right and the bottom portion to the left.  I quickly researched online and discovered the disorder my chick had was called scissor beak or cross beak.

The chick that I am talking about is to the far right, in the front.

Scissor beak or cross beak is caused when the top and bottom part of the beak don’t align correctly due to the growth plates in the chicken’s skull not closing at the same rate.  This results in the beak growing at different angles which can make eating and drinking difficult for some birds.  There is no real treatment for this disorder and it varies in severity.  Birds that have a mild case don’t ever have any difficulty, their beak is just crossed and with a little special care they are able to get on just fine.  In moderate to severe cases though, this disorder can be deadly because it prohibits the bird from eating or drinking. 

Sadly, the little chick of mine had to be culled.  Her beak malformation was just too severe and even with all of the things I talk about later in this article, she still could not eat or drink enough to sustain her life.  I am glad I had this knowledge and experience though because it would pay off later when I was house sitting for the Remy Homestead. 

Katzya was out in the chicken coop messing around with the chickens when suddenly she comes racing in with one of the Americauna hens in her arms.  (This disorder appears to be more prominent in the Americauna breed.)  She says, “Mom this hen has the same beak thing that our chick had!”  I looked closer and sure enough she was right.  It was not as severe but definitely a problem.  This time I was armed with some knowledge and I decided to grind the beak back a bit with the hope that I might be able to realign it some, and it worked!

So, please know if you have a chicken with cross beak, not all is lost.  There are a number of ways you can attempt to help the bird before culling if that is of interest to you.

  1.  It is possible to either file or cut the beak to help realign it and take off some of the growth. This is not a permanent fix but it helps.  It has to be done every 4-6 weeks, and you have to use some caution when attempting this.  I used a cordless Dremel to ever so gently shave/sculpt the beak.  Remember, don’t go too fast because you don’t want to create more problems than you started with!  Also, the Dremel can get very hot, so exercise caution and patience when trying this method.  Paired with some of the ideas below though, their hen has a good chance of living a fairly normal life. 

   2.  Make sure your chicken’s food and water dishes are wide and deep because chickens that have this disorder “scoop” their food and water into their mouth.

     3.  It helps to feed the chicken a pelleted form of feed instead of a crumble.  For some reason that appears easier for the chicken to manage. 

      4.     Moisten the feed so it is not so difficult for the chicken to “scoop” it into it’s mouth and they don’t have to chase it.
 5.    Feed the chicken separate from the rest of the flock because it takes them extra time to eat and prohibits the other chickens from pushing them away from the feeders. 

6.       This disorder appears to be genetic so it is important that you don’t breed chickens that have this trait.  (There is another school of thought that says this disease is not genetic, but is in fact due to badly regulated incubator temperatures. You can research and decide…..)

Hopefully this is information that you can file away in the back of your mind and never have to use, but if needed know that there are some options to help the bird lead a fairly normal life.  And who knows, maybe you will need to share this information with one of your “chicken friends” too! 

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Weekend Family Time with Video Outtakes!

This weekend the Reluctant Farmer went to a letterboxing meet and campout, while I stayed at home and took care of the farm and our house sitting charges.  (From the fact that she has notified me that she slept with her mittens on, it sounds like I got the better end of the deal!)  It was a great family filled weekend, although sometimes it was at the expense of my family.  

Saturday my mom and I rode over together to watch Katzya run her last cross country meet of the season, and then we decided to stop at Craft 2000 so she could find Christmas ribbon to go with the Disney Cars tree she is making this year.  Well, we spent 5 hours at the craft store, but sadly the perfect ribbon was never found.  The perfect Christmas ornaments were though!  I got the cutest wooden farm animal ornaments that I am going to put on garland, and hang from my mantel.  I think it will look amazing, and they were 50% off!  Where the ribbon quest was a failure and sad for her, the video footage of her frustration is quite funny!

After mom and I left Craft 2000, and loaded all of our purchases into the car (There were a lot of purchases!)  We went back to mom's house where we met up with my sister who was hungry for ice cream and wanted to watch a family movie.  At this point my sister was working on a beer, so I did the nice thing and drove us to get the ice cream.  Now, I know my sister is scared of the covered bridge we have in our hometown, and I thought it would be great fun if I videoed her reaction while we crossed the bridge.  I don't think she thought it was funny, but I did!  What are sisters good for, if not for a little harassment every once in a while......

All in all it was a great weekend!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nora vs. the iPhone

There is never a dull moment in my life.  There was never a dull moment before Nora the Border Collie came  bouncing onto the scene, and now that she is here I know I will never have a dull moment.  Nora is the kind of girl that commands attention, and she has no shame in how she gets it.  She is obnoxious, persistent and very much in your face constantly.  I have been teaching her how to perform some fairly simple behaviours and where she is very smart and a quick learner, she is stubborn and if she doesn't want to do something there is no amount of treats and praise in the world that will convince her otherwise.  Owning a dog like Nora has humbled me as a dog trainer, and I love this bad animal so very much!

I was trying to get a picture of Nora for the blog.  I just wanted a cute little picture of her face, similar to the picture above.  I asked Nora for a sit.  She obliged.  Then I thought wouldn't it be so cute to video Nora playing with her ball?  (Planet Dog if you are watching, do you recognize that ball?!)  Well, Nora hell bent on being a brat rolls around her ball for a second before taking off with my iPhone!  I was going to erase the video, however when I played it back it ended up being quite funny.  So, here is a laugh.  Sit back and enjoy, I have to go throw the ball again!

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Bought the farm....

Some of my fondest childhood memories were at the hands of Fisher Price.  I grew up with very little television influence and a great imagination.  Whether I was refueling my Fisher Price jet or opening the barn door on my Fisher Price barn to hear it "moo", I was in a make believe world of my own and I loved it there.  Free to make believe.  In my opinion there is no better way to be a child.....

Even as an adult the mere "ding" of the bell on a vintage FP doll house or the sound of the "moo" when you open the barn door on the farm brings me right back to a time when I played for hours, sitting on a step with a cup of Goldfish crackers and a cocker spaniel next to me.  It is instant nostalgia.

It is this nostalgia that made me start collecting vintage Fisher Price toys as an adult.  I didn't want all of the toys that Fisher Price ever made.  I only wanted the ones that I physically had as a child.  I wanted to experience these toys again as an adult.  Not only that, but these toys are toys that can actually still be played with.  When my nephews come to visit, every one of these toys gets a workout!  There are only 2 pieces that I am still missing:  the farm and the doll house.

My nephew, Isaac, is the love of my life.  With red hair and an aura of mischief, I can't help but be melted into a huge puddle at his feet.  He has me wrapped around his little finger and he knows it.  Isaac loves to play with my iPhone.  It contains games and television shows, and sometimes in order to keep him occupied I will allow him to play with it.  Well, we went over to visit him last week and he wanted to play with my phone.  I told him to go ask the Reluctant Farmer for her phone because my battery was dying.  None of us were really paying much attention to what Isaac was doing.  He was sitting on the couch having a great time pushing all of the buttons, when suddenly I hear the Reluctant Farmer exclaim, "Crap!  He is on eBay, and he bid and won something!"  Knowing that the Reluctant Farmer had been watching tents on eBay, my heart just sunk.  We did not have the extra $400.00 that these tents were going for and I felt like I might vomit.  The two of us were squeezed around the phone trying to see what Isaac bid on, Isaac was standing at our feet looking very nervous, and suddenly the Reluctant Farmer starts laughing hysterically.  She said, "Well, it looks like he bought you a present!"

There is sat on the "won"screen.  A 1968 Fisher Price farm!  I had been poking around on eBay the week before and put 2 farms on the "watch" list.  Evidently, when Isaac was playing on the phone a reminder that the auction was about to end popped up and Isaac did what every 3 year old would do.  He hit the button.  Unfortunately it was the "bid" button.  Luckily, the farm that he purchased was the cheaper of the two that I was watching and our entire lesson on letting a three year old play with an iPhone only cost me $10.57 and an additional $10.00 in shipping and handling.  I am sure the memories that Isaac and I make playing with this farm will be much greater than the $20.57 it cost him to but it!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just a brief word....

I would like to just say a brief word before getting back to my regularly scheduled program.....

Several weeks ago I signed up for Google Adsense and agreed to allow advertisements be present on the right sidebar of this blog.  How this works it that I get a little bit of money every time someone reading my blog clicks on the advertisement.  Will this make me rich?  No.....  Will I be able to quit my job?  Not yet.... Will it help off set my chicken food bill?  I hope so!

So many people have this on their blog, that I did not think to mention it to my readers.  Evidently this has upset a few readers, as one reader wrote me a very angry letter this morning about my advertisement for the Republican party.  (I rarely say never, but in this case I will say: there will NEVER be any talk about politics in this blog.)  It is just not my thing.....

Let me explain a few more things:

1)  The advertisement is NOT controlled by me.  It just picks random advertisements based on key words in my blog.  I repeat I HAVE NO CONTROL!

2)  If you click on these ads then great, the farm gets a little money.  If not, no worries!  Do as you wish.

3)  I respect all of my reader's choices and beliefs.  We may not have the same beliefs, but that is what makes the world an interesting place to live in.  We can all live and learn from each other.

4) I don't mind constructive critiques, and am more than happy to talk to anyone about what I have been doing on the farm.  Please remember though, I am a real person who sits behind this computer screen  writing everyday.  Be nice.....

Puff Daddy was pardoned!

Today was the day for butchering around here on the Urban Farm/Remy Homestead, and I bet you can't guess who was pardoned?!  Yes, that is right....  Puff Daddy the rooster is still alive, well, and humping all of his girls!  I called the Reluctant Farmer today to ask her if they were taking Puffy with them to the butcher and was immediately told that Puffy could not be caught.  When I encouraged her to try harder she explained they didn't have room for Puff in the cages and she liked him so she was not going to help catch him and drive him to meet his demise.  He evidently was racing around the coop and yard not allowing anyone to touch him and humping all of the ladies as he was doing it.  Silly chicken!  

So, for all of you Puffy Daddy fans out there please know that Puffy was granted a "stay" by the warden and he will remain in jail being granted conjugal visits, until all of the evidence has been reviewed.  (He claims he has no idea what we humans are upset about, and he has not chased anyone and beat them up for several days.)  Puffy will also have access to the free food and water that the warden drops off twice daily.  I have a feeling that Puffy can not continue his streak of good behavior for too long, and my prediction is he will be in with our dumplings at Thanksgiving.  I also predict I am going to have to butcher him myself because we are not going to drive 30-40 minutes to butcher one chicken.  Good thing I took that meat bird workshop.  It looks like I am going to utilize my skills!  

Puff Daddy wants to tell you all good morning and he is happy he made the cut!

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Monday, October 1, 2012

American Gothic and a Busy Weekend

It was a long weekend here at Rainbow Acres.  The Reluctant Farmer and I were very busy!  We were house sitting at the Remy household as well as house sitting at another house.  On top of all of this we also have our own farm to tend.  I am not sure how this happened, usually I would check my day planner before booking 2 major house sitting jobs, but obviously I did not do that for some reason.  Just for fun I decided to add up how many animals we had under our care this weekend.  The totals were:

60 chickens
22 dogs
12 rabbits
9 cats

That is a lot of work!

On top of all the house sitting that we did, our town has a Mum Festival every year and our daughter marched in the parade and wanted to go shopping at the festival.  There were some really neat things at the festival this year.  One of which was this cool necklace that I bought for myself as a reward for all of my hard work this weekend!  The charm is a picture of the American Gothic painting that Grant Wood painted in 1930, and the coolest thing is that the charm is recycled from an old Scrabble tile!  I love when someone can recycle something common and turn it into something amazing!

It was a long weekend, but we survived and I got an awesome little trinket to show for it!