Monday, October 29

*preparations under way

Turkey Day is coming swiftly around the corner and with today's weather it seems as if we are closer to mid February instead of first of November.  Both my dh and I have gotten several alerts on our phones today regarding a potential freeze tonight here in NW Florida.  Many of us are experiencing high, steady, breezy winds during this time as well due to the Hurricane Sandy.  Our winter preparations have come a bit sooner than normal, so today we were dutifully outside working in the barn to make tonight's temps more bearable for the livestock.  We normally make sweaters for our goats to wear during cold or freezing temps, but tonight extra hay bedding will have to do. Our chickens get their indoor coop enclosed with heavy canvas cloth tarps draping around to break the piercing winds that so unmercifully whisk through the barn.  The rabbits are more than happy to see the cooler weather, they actually do much better in this cold weather as opposed to the warmer days.  We have tried to make all of our creatures have the comforts of home when possible.  We recently "de-catted" our house, meaning we introduced our last two indoor cats to the grand outdoors.  We have a total of 5 cats, all now "out door" cats!  We have a heat lamp in a dog (cat for us) igloo up on the loft in the barn, hopefully they will be smart enough to run into it for warmth if needed.

Turns out, even cats like to make nests. Who would have thunk it?

A fresh new roll of  hay for winter bedding, were ready!

Speaking of Turkey Day, my dh and I butchered two turkeys a week or more ago.  Nothing different in butchering a turkey, if you have butchered a chicken. Just bigger scale, well - and for Heckle just GIGANTIC scale.  So this is how it went... Our first turkeys were Heckle and Jeckle, two BBB (Broad Breasted Bronze) which were to grow for a few months and then be butchered for the table or freezer.  Jeckle was butchered for Christmas last year and Heckle quickly became my dh's "pet".   The time had come for the friendship to end.  Let me just say, BBB Turkey's should NOT be allowed to grow past 4 months time.  We decided to go ahead and butcher one of our Spanish Black Turkeys (heritage breed) and Heckle (the BBB).   We got everything ready so the whole process would run smoothly as possible.   The Spanish Black was killed, butchered and dressed out at 10 pounds.  He was actually about a month ahead of his prime butchering time, so we are expecting our other turkeys to dress out somewhere between 12 and 15 pounds when we butcher in mid November.  NOW, Heckle on the other hand weighed 50 pounds before he was butchered, after and fully dressed he weighed 40 pounds. Yes, 40 pounds. Can you imagine cooking a 40 pound turkey in your oven for your family for Thanksgiving or any other day?  We have decided to saw him in half so we can have a 20 pound turkey at a time.   Now clearly we kept him way to long but he was only just starting to show signs of not being able to support his own weight. I would post a picture of him all dressed out, but I might lose a few readers (aka Lori, Kathy and others) if I do.. so I will pass.

Maybe you will enjoy this instead...
 (click on the holiday turkey for a great little show)


Sunday, October 28

*NC Mountain Fresh Apples

If you read my last post, you recall that I recently made a trip to North Carolina. The timing was so perfect for so many things, such as it was peak season (for the fall colors in the mountains), and  I needed to spend some time with the best friend in the world, as well as the apple orchards were brimming over with this seasons juicy crop. I had been wanting to find some apples at rock bottom prices for canning and turns out the timing of my spur of the moment trip paid off!

Most of the orchards had their various apple selections for sale at the price of $26 (I think) per bushel. They of course sold them for half bushel, peck, half peck etc as well.  Some of the orchards had some bagged up and were selling them as "apple sauce" apples due to some bug stings, or possibly a bruise or two on some of the apples.  Making apple sauce was my plan with some of the apples, I was able to get two bags which made a bushel at the total price of $14. I was pretty thrilled.  A bushel of apples weighs about 45lbs, so this means I was able to get the apples for .31 per pound.  The apples that were bagged up (At Granddad's Apples in Hendersonville, NC) were so lightly damaged that I found myself wishing they had had more of them available.  But as it was my BFF and I bought all they had!  Great deal!

 Franziska and I really enjoying every moment of being in each others presence. So very grateful for dear friends who touch your heart and change you forever!

 Me looking really happy about my receipt and how much I just  "saved" by buying the bruised etc apple sauce apples!

Dreaming of planting an orchard on the back of our property! OH, wait, no I better leave the apple growing to NC so that I might make a trip to the mountains at least every October!

Pink Lady is Henry's favorite apple and trust me he has tasted many apples. He has always been an apple connoisseur.  I have apple cores that I collected over the years that he would leave under his bed, in a basket, and other various unacceptable places. I would also find them in places you would never expect to find a dried up apple core. I learned to pick them up and treasure what was left behind. Don't get me wrong, I didn't say, "Oh honey, you just put them where ever you want" but I tried to find joy in the messes sometimes. This was one of them that I learned to treasure. I now have a small basket  that holds some dried up apple cores from days gone by when my little guy still had his cute little primary teeth. 


This was taken at one of our favorite places to trip over to when I am in town, Lake Lure & Chimney Rock.  If you are ever in the area it really is a must see.  So much to take in, even if you don't buy a thing! The peaceful time by the bubbling Broad River is enough just in itself! Here is a YouTube of that area that you might enjoy.

 Once I got back home with our apples, Eric and I got right busy with peeling, coring and slicing. We love to work together on projects like this, we do make a good team.  I stumbled across a apple, peeler, corer, slicer while we were in a little General Store downtown there near Lake Lure.  I have, of course seen them before, but with having just bought two bushels of apples, I thought it might come in handy.  Turns out it was a great help and my beloved was glad I got it. Over the next few days I tried numerous apple fritter recipes trying to master the "fritter".   I ended up modifying one recipe to fit our desires and will post it for you all soon.  I think my dh could eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner but I am personally about frittered out.
 We were able to can 20 jars or so of apple sauce. I still have one half bushel that I plan to make apple butter with over the next week.  We also dehydrated a bunch as well. We all really enjoy munching on the apple slices as snacks, now to stretch them out... and not gobble them all up in one week.

Pears canned - check
Tomatoes canned - check
Potatoes canned - check
Apples canned - check
Pumpkins on the vine- will can
Cabbages growing swiftly - will make sauerkraut
and the list goes on and on as the seasons go.

We love being able to put up wholesome food for our family and looking for good prices, country fruit and vegetable stands are now something we keep our eyes opened for as well as grow as much as we can here at Erilyn.

Thursday, October 25

*getting away (burdens in tow)

Do you ever feel like you just need to "get away?" Yeah. I have had one of those kinds of patches, I am sure we have all had one of those kinds of spots in the road from time to time.  I am experienced enough in life to know that I can't change my scenery and loose my issues, burdens or problems.   Due to some disappointing changes in some long standing plans, and after talking to my dear husband, I set out to the foot hills! A place where I could turn off the phone, power it down to be still if need be. 

This is how my days worth of driving started out, along Alabama's roads.

Sometimes life can take you quite by surprise, just remember it doesn't change who God is. Sometimes we struggle a bit along the way as we desperately long to make sense of what is going on in our personal world, just remember God has it all already worked out.  Just an encouragement when things look so wrong, so backwards - we have to believe that He is still in control.  And I don't mean like a last resort thing... even as hard as it is in certain situations you find yourself facing today, we must choose to believe that He is in control.

Somewhere in between Florida and North Carolina, majesty all the way (even Atlanta)

May you find peace in all that you are facing today.  May you start to see things with different eyes if you are finding that you are struggling and stuck at a certain spot.  Whether you are able to change your scenery a bit or not, He is faithful to come and restore us right where we are. It only requires us to surrender. (which can take some of us longer than others - known from my own experiences of course)

Top of Mount Mitchell, NC. Simple stunning. Even though I had a migraine this day, I enjoyed this time abundantly!

 Surrendering daily,


Friday, October 12

*canning in the cupboards, meat in the freezer

This past week Eric and I started our day off with the duties of a homesteader at the top of our list.  When you raise rabbits for meat that means there has to be a butchering day, or that you load them up and take them to a processor.  We do it all from the breeding to the freezing right her at Erilyn.  We have had our feeder pens full for a little while now, but time has just not presented itself for a butcher date as we might have liked.

We started our morning off with prepping.  Cutting instruments, clean towels, hot pots of water, trash can lined, with holding food from the ones who would be butchered on this day.. etc. I am sure you don't want all the details.   I must tell you though, that Eric and I operate as a fantastic team. He kills and I butcher. We rocked it and killed, butchered, prepared for freezer - 20 rabbits which dressed out at approximately 32 pounds of meat.  Thirty-Two pounds of the leanest cleanest white meat you will find!  It has been dubbed as "cute meat".  So if you are at my house and we are eating cute meat AKA rabbit, enjoy!

We have 5 more fryers that are finishing out which will likely take a month or so, then we will be able to butcher them too.  Other that that we are down to our two does (breeding stock) and our buck (breeding stock) and one new litter of 6 that was born just this past week.   We are so grateful for the opportunity to raise our own healthy lean meat for our table!

Tuesday, October 9

*frayja shouts out a hi!

Frayja, our Great Dane, turned two in March, it seems like yesterday that we added her to our family. She is growing and maturing more and more all the time. She has just gained the privilege to go back in the gardening area with us when we are working in that part of the property. She has also been introduced to the barnyard while the chickens and turkeys are out free ranging. She is so controlled while we are walking around in the barnyard, we are really proud of her good manners.  We are constantly marveled at the fact that we have a dog, a beastly sized dog in our home.  If you know us well, I am sure you are still marveling too!

 Just this week she begged me to wear her skirt that her cousin, Kierstyn, gave her. She also is hoping that Kierstyn is saving her other old swim suit skirts for her, she loves dressing up (NOT).

 This image looks familiar I am sure, she is here often and surely I have shared this view of her with you before!

 I love this profile picture of her with her buddy Julie, in the background. 

 This is Frayja's mom, isn't she a pretty lady?~!

 This is  Frayja's daddy with two of her siblings.  Her father was VERY tall and lanky.  Frayja has really gotten quite a bit of height over the last year. We think she has finally topped out in her growth.  Estimating her weight now about about 140lbs.  She has some body fat on her chest area, so we have cut her feedings back just a bit.  She normally gets 4 cups of food in the morning and 4 cups in the evening. Her night time feeding now consist of 2 cups instead of the 4. She gets plenty of snacks through out the day as well, so don't feel too sorry for her.

 Second from the left, is Fray! Aren't puppies adorable!

Monday, October 8

*cluck cluck (setting it in tomorrow morning!)

Yet another update! I have finished all the machine applique on the "chicken quilt" and will be setting it in tomorrow. I am just happy to be finished. It is not my favorite quilt ever at all, but it is finished. I did put much thought into this quilt and it is fun and whimsy but simple.

My hubby said the wording would look best up by the chicks mouth as if she were saying it.. so that is where it landed.


*chick-inn update

  Our buff laced polish chick - Fritter

Wendell and his girls.Oh and lets take a moment of silence for Rebels' sister, Ms Trump.  One morning this past week when I came out mid morning to sit in the swing under the big oak tree near the garden, I found Ms Trump laying in the watering hole. So sad. She had been well, no signs of distress on her body. We assume  she fell into the watering hole and couldn't get out for some reason this time..?

My beloved loves and his turkeys as well as the growing flock all over getting their morning treats from the kitchen bucket. 

Speaking of chickens, we have grown in numbers since I last brought you an update from Chick-Inn. We have our original chickens that we purchased two years ago January, many of which may or may not be laying on a regular basis. Some of them who are enjoying the plentiful lands to roam for food, enjoying supplemental grain feed when needed, as well as being placed in four walls of safety each night are NOT producing on a regular basis!  We have approximately 26 full sized laying hens, and we are only collecting on an average 15 eggs per day.  We are still able to fill our weekly orders so, we are good on that front. We are not in the business of keeping chickens just to keep chickens and while we picked up many of the hens to survey their vents in hopes of getting a clue as to who was laying and who wasn't.  Unfortunately we are not skilled enough to make the call and feel good about culling those who we have deemed non-layer. So for now we have started marking the legs of those who are laying with some thin colored tape.  This, as you can imagine, cause me to spend much time in  and around the barn.  The weather has been rather nice the last few days, so staying outside working in the garden and running back over to the barn to see who just announced the gift of an egg hasn't been hard to do. 

We have a hen who has 5 little pullets that are fully feathered out now. She is doing a great job taking care of these little chickens.  I am amazed at her leading, guiding and the care she provides for them.  Anytime we give scraps to them from the table, the mother hen will run over pick the food apart throwing it on the ground for her babies.  In fact, Eric and I are beginning to get a little concerned for her because she is light as a feather. She has visibly lost weight and we do all we can to encourage her to take food for herself.  (so that is 26 full grown hens, 5 pullets thus far)

We also have a hen who just hatched out 7 little baby chicks last week. They are so very cute! And this mother hen is showing wonderful protective mothering habits as well!  I have really enjoyed having chicks this time around because I do not have to do the work, the momma hen does it all. She teaches them to eat, to forage, she keeps them warm so a heat light is not even necessary. They are of course in a protective covering so no predators can get to them, but because they are not in a broody box with a light, I do not have to mess with wood shavings and cleaning out a poopy box daily! Now that is something to crow about!  (so this the total number of chickens.. ready?... 26 full size laying hens, 5 pullets with their sex yet waiting to be discovered, and 7 little chicks)  We will have to get our minds back on thinning the flock in the coming months...

 The turkeys are all doing great!  They love classical music, hard rock, whistling, twangy country music and probably a whole host of other music.  When we are in the barnyard, we play music for them at watch the toms puff up and show off. We have 4 sold, 7 that we are keeping for breeding purposes and several more that are available for someones Thanksgiving table!  If you are in the NW Florida area and looking for a heritage breed organically free range raised, we have a turkey for you!


Sunday, October 7

*chicken quilt update

UPDATE to the most recent post Unraveled and Tieing Up Loose Ends 

Yes, that fabric in the center with words says "Chicken Soup" with the recipe, sort of distasteful? Ha Ha. I love it! 

This evening I had some time to work on this quilt a little more.  This is what I got done thus far. Everything has been ironed down and is ready for the satin stitch except the letters C L U C K, C L U C K.  Should I leave the letters up by the chick or put them down on the bottom part of the quilt? I would love to have your opinions. I will of course be asking my dear husband, he is my right hand critique on all of my quilts.


*unraveled and tieing up loose ends

Quilting is in and out of my mind. I have been working feverishly on several projects somewhat alongside each other. This is what my current projects consist of: One that is a birthday gift (an August birthday.. sigh), the "chicken quilt" that has sort of been in the planning for three or four years with the due date quickly approaching as well as a little picnic quilt that I just finished up last week.

Quilting is not something I normally do by following a pattern, now come to think about it, not much I do is done by following a pattern or directions. I am an artist and sometimes getting stuck in the guidelines of "directions and patterns" and find it stifling to me. Then there is the rare occasion where I find myself wishing I had chosen some type of pattern because all of the creativity has been drained out and nothing seems to remain when I am most in need! That is the case with several of the quilts I am have worked on most recently.

Here is a sneak peek on the works that are in progress. I have been wanting to share these with you for sometime now, but other things have been battling for my attention.  The August birthday quilt that I am currently working on, is made using a pattern named "Let Sleeping Cats Lie"  It is a darling quilt pattern, I also have the "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" as well.  I can hardly wait to get started on one of those in the coming months, but for now I need to stay focused and finish what is at hand!

 WAIT!  Wasn't this the "Let Sleeping Cats Lie" quilt? Silly Frayja!

 I still have a few cat heads to applique on, then some hand work, then set it in. This quilt is made mostly from batiks that I had on hand, only buying a few fats to finish it out. The border was just bought a few weeks ago, but it could not have been matched any better if I had bought all the fabric at one time.  I can't tell you how thrilled I am with the border, the design, the colors in that fabric.. the whole thing is just puuurrrfect!  Perhaps I will finish it before Christmas so I can hand it over to my precious mother in love!

I started out just playing with they black and white fabrics with the yellow and white fabric. I ended up making a whole mess of flying geese blocks, and here you see me laying them out trying to make a decision on how I would stitch them together.

 This is what I decided on. I like.  I thought I was going to LOVE this quilt as I worked on it, but I am just OK with it.  It is sort of like one of those I just need to get finished and be done with. I am sure if you are a quilter, that you too have worked on such projects in the past.

This is the picnic quilt that I just finished last week.  These blocks are huge, a whopping 14 (I think) inches each.  I am sorry in advance for the poor quality of this picture. I will show it again when I am finished binding it, and I will make sure to get a clear image for you to marvel at. *wink

 And last but not least on this quilting update, the "Chicken Quilt".  There is a story behind the "Chicken Quilt" but I will not share all those details today. I started trying to create this masterpiece a month or more ago, maybe even two months now. I started doing some of the stitching for the scrappy border that would be part of the quilt and found myself at a stand still. I was not able to pull it all together in my head, or on paper for that matter.  Due to time restraints, I have sort of been forced to get myself in gear and start to proceed forward.  So forward I have been going. Forward, standstill, back a few steps  (literally.. removing fabric from the core design), then forward again.

This is a sneak peek of what is going on thus far with this project. I will be sure to bring it to you again when I am putting the last stitches in it.  This quilt top has sort of been a deep labor of love. For me it holds a value of many things past and present.  The whole idea of this quilt was birth out of friendship on a trip to Paducah Kentucky one year.