In response to Nick’s complaint request, I have decided to post some man-type stuff.  I must say “man stuff” is not my specialty but I will try.  I took these pictures planning to do a blog, but had decided it was too gory for a family blog, so beware.  Rick is included in the pictures – but still no blog from him.

Some of you may remember our chick Bernadette.  When I placed our order for chicks last spring, the company offered a free rare or exotic chick with your order. So, in addition to our laying hens, I got Bernadette.

Even as a day old chick she had feathers all the way down her feet and she was much larger than the others.

She was awkward and gawky as she grew, and never seemed to fit in with the others but we thought it was just a phase and she would grow out of it.

Not.  Turns out, Bernadette was actually Bernard and she didn’t grow out of it.  Since she he is a Cochin he was much larger than the hens.  As he started performing his rooster duties, he was none too gentle and the hens have the battle scars to prove it.  Note the missing feathers.

They ran from him, but he was so much larger they didn’t have much chance to get away.

If he was the same breed as the hens, Australorps or Barred Rocks, it probably would have been a lot better.

So, we knew Bernard would have to go.  If you are squeamish, you may want to go back to the quilting page now.

Rick took care of the actual killing while Megan hid in the house.

After Bernard hung for a while to bleed, Rick started plucking.

We were quite surprised at how easily the feathers were removed.  We didn’t have to scald Bernard,  just pulled the feathers right out.

Rick got to use the very sharp military knife Alex gave him and it worked well!

Soon after that, Bernard was fried.  I must admit he was a little tough, not the breed or the age of the chickens suggested for meat birds, but we didn’t want him to go to waste.  We fed the broth and fat to the dogs which they thought was delicious.

The hens have been celebrating since Bernard has gone on to his reward.  Egg production is up to about a dozen a day from our sixteen hens; very good considering the winter is usually the slow time for laying.  We have a light on in the coop on a timer to supplement the daylight on these short winter days and that has worked really well.  Our neighbors don’t have a light in their coop and haven’t had an egg in months.

We are hoping the hen’s missing feathers grow back now that they are left alone.  Some day we are planning to order chicks to raise for meat birds.  We could also get a Barred Rock or Australorp rooster and let one of the hens raise a batch of chicks to replace these hens when the time comes.  These girls should lay well for at least the next two or three years though, so there is no hurry on new chicks.

 Bernard is gone and sadly I don’t think anyone misses him.  So there you have it Nick – man stuff:  guns, blood, knives and dead bodies.

And now I am off to quilting class 🙂

What Do You Do Up There?

I can’t tell you how many people have asked us the question – “what do you do up there?”  We really stay quite busy with lots of different things, both on our property and in the community.  We have found that when you live in a place with as much rain as we get here (90+inches per year mostly in the winter) you need to have your list of indoor and outdoor projects and check the weather to schedule accordingly.

One of my favorite new projects is quilting.

For those of you who think quilting is about as exciting as watching grass grow, you might want to stop reading here.  For the rest of you, learning to quilt was one of those items on my list of things to do “someday when I have more time.”  Now that our nest is empty the time seemed right.

I found a class with a great instructor and a very nice group of ladies.  Some of these women have been quilting longer than I have been alive and that is a very long time.

Though I’ve sewn for many years, I’ve never quilted before and these ladies and especially our instructor, have been very patient with a beginner.  They have generously shared their experience and knowledge and I’ve learned a lot from them.  It’s also been great fun.  The pictures of the finished quilts are all creations of theirs.

The ladies in class do beautiful work and some have very ambitious and complicated projects.

My projects are much smaller in scale – I’ve started with table runners.  I enjoy selecting the colors and fabrics.  This one is for our kitchen and I wanted a vintage feel.

It’s a simple pattern that I did before in Christmas colors.

It is just the right size for our Hoosier cabinet.

Once a month there is an all day (and most of the night) quilt-a-thon.  Sort of like the old-fashioned quilting bees I suppose.  We bring in our various projects – or sometimes there is one we all work on – and spend 8, 10 or 12 hours quilting.

Quilting, even on the machine, is a labor intensive task.  You can get a lot accomplished in 12 hours of work though!

Of course it is not all work, we do have a potluck and visit a lot in between selecting, cutting, sewing and pressing.  I’ve picked up some great recipes from these ladies, they can cook as well as they sew and it has been a wonderful opportunity to make new friends.

While I am at quilting class, Rick is attending his Lion’s club meetings.  He hasn’t taken any pictures so you won’t get to see them in action, just more quilts.

Rick and his fellow Lions also spend time at the tree farm the Lions have on the property that adjoins ours.  Again – no pictures.

So, among the many projects we do up here, my new favorite is quilting.  When I get this mastered (and that could take years), some of the other items on my list are to organize all the boxes of pictures and make scrapbooks for each of my children, get better at canning and gardening, and learn decorative painting.  All I need now is more time and a bigger work space!

Holidays Up North

We are enjoying our first holiday season here at the ranch. Though we missed seeing family – especially Alex – and friends it has been a nice change.  We had snow a few weeks ago which was truly beautiful.  At the time we thought it would probably last for months as it has the past two years.

Grizzly quite enjoyed romping through the powdery snow.

Unlike the last two years, the snow was only on the ground for a few days then the weather warmed up and it started raining, washing all the snow away.

We have enjoyed becoming a part of the local community here.  Our little church (50 people is a huge crowd) has been a dramatic change from the church we attended in Bakersfield which averaged 2500+ every Sunday.  This church reminds both of us of the little churches we grew up in.  The youth were putting on a Christmas play and asked Rick if he would help them out by playing the innkeeper.  Thinking of the innkeeper role in every nativity play he’s ever seen, where the innkeeper says “there’s no room at the inn” and then slams the door, he said yes.  This wasn’t your standard nativity play however.  This play was a mystery where a detective interviewed the characters and pieced together the Christmas story through their information.  The innkeeper role turned out to be much larger than the standard “no room” line, and in addition they needed a rabbi too (you know you’re in a small church when everybody in the play has two roles).  So, Rick had quite a few lines to memorize.   Here he is playing the John Deere rabbi.

In his defense, this was the dress rehearsal and the costume lady (that would be me) hadn’t quite finished his rabbi hat yet.  I did get it all complete in time for the performance.  In his role as the innkeeper he had a daughter, a cute little girl named Tiffanie.  Megan arrived in time to see – and help with – the play so the two daughters had a chance to compare notes.

It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun to do the play.  The youth appreciated having someone help them out and the congregation seemed to enjoy it.

The costumes turned out to be a bigger job than I expected, but it was fun to use really flashy fabrics and trims.  Our wise men had lots of color and sparkle.

In addition to the play, we have decorated for Christmas.  I wanted to use our natural materials and Larry (previous owner) showed us where the holly grows in the woods a few years ago.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite remember exactly where it was when the time came to cut some last year.  When he and Karla were here visiting in August, I asked him to show me again, and this time I marked it.

Larry found it with no problem, but I was glad to have the yellow tape.  It was fun to use our own ‘grown on the ranch’ greenery to decorate with.

 Brandon, Megan’s boyfriend, joined us a couple of days after Christmas.  It had been sunny and cold for the two weeks before he got here.

As soon as Brandon arrived it started raining.  I think it has rained every time he has visited.  During a break in the rain he helped Rick load the bowflex and eliptical machine into the bucket of our favorite neighbor Roger’s tractor.

Then they very carefully lifted it up into the shed loft.


Both the eliptical and the bowflex fit into the loft, so now we will have no excuse not to be exercising.

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas and wish you a healthy, happy New Year!