Monthly Archives: May 2009

What Do You Want To Know?

I have quite a few future posts forming in my head, half of which I’ll probably forget before they are ever typed out. However, I feel like I’m posting about a lot of the same topics lately, especially now that spring is here and I have so many updates about the garden and the animals.

Is there a post I promised to write that I’ve forgotten? Is there a question you’d like to ask? Something I do or write about that you want to know more about? Are you sick of hearing about any certain topic? Please don’t hesitate. I’d really love to hear your thoughts. I know there are at least a few lurkers out there as well. Now’s your time!

I’m going to call it a night because I just misspelled hear here and there their. Have a good one!


Cattle Panel Chicken Shelter: Part 1

This have been a bit crazy around here lately and I plan to update y’all soon. In the meantime I want to share how we’re building another great (hopefully) chicken shelter.

I used treated 2″x4″ lumber for the base. The two side boards are 10′ long and the three in the middle are 12′ long. Place the 10′ boards on the outside on the 12′ boards as shown.

You’ll need 3 sheets of 4’x8′ treated plywood to make the floor. There are plenty of good designs out there for shelters without floors. I have too much money and time invested in our broilers to risk losing them to predators or flooding, thus I want a floor.
With the 2″x4″s set up the way I have them the plywood will not fit perfectly. I did this on purpose to provide as much floor space as possible. Position the plywood in from the edges the width of the 2″x4″. There may still be a small gap but the sides angle in enough that I don’t think it will cause any problems. Or, if you’d prefer, you can frame it to fit exactly.

Here you can see the cattle panels on and the three braces. Put the panels on first. You’ll need 2 standard cattle panels 16′ long and you’ll need to overlap them a few inches. You may want the front panel to stick out a few inches in front of the floor to provide an overhang. Hammer in fence staples to hold it on the 2″x4″. Have someone help you pull up the other side or use a rope to hold the curve, then secure the other side. Repeat with the second panel. It helps to wire the two panels together in a couple places before securing both ends.
We added the braces later after measuring exactly how tall the panel was in the place we wanted. The two braces in front will provide a door way so make the gap as wide as you need. We screwed the two braces in from the side so they sit on top of the floor. The back single brace is attached to the back of the 2″x4″ for extra support.

Next, attach chicken wire around the sides and the back. I used some that I had, about 2′ tall I think. You can see the fence staples holding the cattle panel in place, along with the regular staples holding the chicken wire to the lumber.

Here you can see how I held up the top of the wire. Simply use more wire to pull it taught against the panel. I’ll have to get a better picture showing the wire from far away. As I said, I’m only putting a short piece around the 3 sides. The tarp covering should contain the birds from there.

Stay tuned for the next steps, especially if you can’t quite picture the final result. This project is more of an experiment than the eggmobile but I’ll share how it works for us and any changes we make. I did get a lot more accomplished on it today so expect an update soon.

I Wish I Was A Cow…Or A Cat!

Can you see them?

What about now?

This is how our two calves spend their days. They aren’t real interested in eating their corn or picking at the hay. They don’t even go wild for the lush green grass like I expected. They mostly lounge around the pasture and sleep in the sun. It is a beautiful sight, and I’m jealous.

We don’t have any set plans for the weekend yet. We may head up to the beach tomorrow and get Brian’s Mom’s camper settled in to her lot for the summer. I can hardly wait to get back to the farmer’s market in Port Austin. It is the best one around by far, especially on holiday weekends. Then we have a lot of work to do around home, as usual.

What are your plans for this weekend? Is the weather supposed to be nice? I’d love to hear about it.

P.S. This just in…he’s trying to help me type with his back feet I guess.

Planting the Big Fields

Brian planted 40 acres of corn at the end of last week. Sunday we planted 25 or 30 acres of soybeans. Brian helps our neighbor farm in exchange for use of some his equipment.

The planter he’s using in these pictures is a “no-till drill”. It actually cuts a path and sticks the seeds in the ground without the field being plowed up every year. Last year we had corn in this field, this year we drilled the soybeans right in. The conservation district in our county even owns a drill that can be rented out. No-till farming is easier on the environment. The fields are not as susceptible to erosion. Plus, the practice saves quite a bit of fuel and time, thus reducing our expenses.

Planting can be a one man job most of the time. The picture above shows the bins that hold the seed. Ideally we would have just enough seed to plant the field without too much extra to clean out at the ends. As we near the end of planting I stay on the planter and watch the seed level. One person, or even two, can stay pretty busy shuffling seed from one bin to another.

I didn’t have to work too hard. We had quite a bit of seed left. There wasn’t much planting to do this year since our other fields are already growing wheat and hay. It’ll be nice to see these fields turning green again as well.

Pistachio Fluff Minus the Cool Whip

I love the taste a pistachio fluff. Cool Whip, not so much. It isn’t the taste that I mind so much as the ingredients. The first four are: water, corn syrup, vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, followed by a bunch of gum and unpronounceable things. My version calls for real cream instead. If you wanted to take things a step further you could make your own marshmallows as well. Homemade marshmallows still contain corn syrup but not as much. Plus, you can then select a brand of syrup that you prefer. I’ve included a couple of links at the bottom for those interested in the marshmallows.

Anyway, back to the fluff. I use the following ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
10oz. crushed pineapple (do not drain the juice)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 1oz. package instant pistachio pudding

First, whip the cream with a mixer until it forms stiff peaks or doesn’t fall from a spoon turned upside down. I stopped mixing when mine was a little lumpy rather than smooth and that’s fine.

In a separate bowl, combine the pudding mix and crushed pineapple. Be sure to include the pineapple juice. Next, stir in the marshmallows. Now is the time to add in any other extras you may prefer. I’ve seen versions with maraschino cherries or mandarin oranges. If it sounds good it probably will be.

Fold the whipped cream in to the pudding mixture. Do not mix more than necessary, you just want to make a uniform green color throughout.

You’re done! Keep chilled in the fridge and enjoy. This is a great, light dessert to serve after a barbecue.

The most thorough tutorial I have found on making marshmallows is at The Hungry Mouse.
If you prefer a recipe with less corn syrup you may like Crunchy Chicken’s version although it calls for covering them in caramel so I’m not sure if they would be the proper consistency for making fluff.

Any alternatives for your favorite dessert?

Oh my goodness…

I can’t help it, I have to share my favorite new song with you. Jason Aldean has managed to make a song about tractors the sexiest, steamiest thing I’ve heard in a while. It is amazing and I can’t stop listening to it!

What’s your favorite new song?