Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What was I thinking

As I have written before, I do attempt to stay out of the vegetable farming part of the business as best I can. Between my full time job and taking care of the poultry, I am time challenged enough as it is. Mike asked me if sometime this week, I would ride the transplanter alongside Ed and get the last of the late broccoli planted. The other two high school boys that work for us are at a sports camp this week and the planting job needed to get done so I said ok. It had rained so much over the weekend, that the plan was to wait until later this week after the field dried out a bit. But the weather forecast for later this week is for more rain, so when I got home from work tonight at 7:15pm, Mike greeted me with the news that tonight was the night for planting. We only had an hour of work to do, but I had forgotten just how muddy one can get while riding the transplanter. I think 3 of the last 4 days I have taken two showers in a day.

I have more pictures from the field that I took on Sunday after the rain. While I was in the field tonight, just two days later, I can't believe how much everything has changed. I'll throw up a few pictures, but truly, I cannot keep up with how fast things are growing.

The early sweet corn is looking REALLY good. The plants are now taller than me. That does not always happen with early varieties of corn. Mike found a little coon damage today and one ear with a huge bite out of it. Deer? Usually they are not a big nuisance to the sweet corn. At least not as bad as the raccoons and blackbirds are. We will have to keep tabs on this.

The cucumbers are growing like weeds. This picture was from Sunday afternoon after it had rained all morning. Tonight I found little one inch cucumbers all over the place. Jumping up and down for joy!

A few cherry tomatoes are starting to turn. Not quite ripe enough to eat, but ......... Mike doesn't often ask me to pick tomatoes because when I pick cherry tomatoes, it goes something like this. One of the bucket , one for my mouth. Two for the bucket, one for my mouth. It can take awhile to pick this way. Oh, but they are so good right off the plant!

That's the Tuesday update. Don't blink because things are changing quickly here on the farm.

Monday, July 26, 2010

There's got to be a morning after

Most of the chickens on our farm work for a living, but there are 4 that have been elevated to "pet" status. I caught this picture of three of them taking a dust bath in the flower garden in front of the front porch. They seem content to leave the flowers alone so I don't care too much that they leave deep holes in their dusting area. Oh, I might tell them they are "bad chickens" as I walk on by, but that's about the extent of my trying to get them to cease and desist. It's really quite pointless to try anyway. They seem very content in their "petdom" and were quite happy the morning after 50 of their farm mates met up with the ax.

The first of our two butchering parties for the year is in the books. Someone was surprised that we call this a party and asked me if it was really all that fun? I cannot say the work is "fun" per se, but it is a gathering of friends and that is what is fun about the event. This was the first one we ever had where it rained almost the entire morning. While it was quite miserable in the rain and everyone was truly a mess, we all agreed that the rain was much nicer than the 90 degree temperatures we have been having. I will include a few pictures of the event so I guess I should put some kind of warning about graphic content. I won't put up any that are too graphic, but this not the ballet. It is chicken butchering.

I did not end up getting my chicken crates built for this event so we did it our old old way which was to use an old wire dog kennel to load up groups of 6-8 chickens and bring them from the pasture to our butchering area. Normally I would move all the older chickens from the pasture into the barn the night before, but I am overlapping batch one and batch two this year so the pen in the barn is filled with 50 5-day-old chicks. Thanks so much to Eric for making the 8 trips out and back to the pasture to get the chickens while the rest of us butchered. It was his first time helping us and remember it rained almost all morning. What a trooper!

Bill and Mike did the killing, scalding and plucking as usual. I don't know why Mike looks so much wetter than Bill does in this picture. I built this plucker with Bill's help several years back. It will pluck two chickens clean in about 30 seconds. An amazing piece of equipment. Thanks so much for Chris's daughter Zoe who did a great job overseeing the temperature and timing of the scalding. She was another first timer who jumped right in and helped without complaint.

I get to spend most of time at the evisceration table. I guess I got "chosen" for this job years ago because I am a veterinarian. Perhaps someone felt my skills as a surgeon could be used to remove internal organs from chickens. I suppose they were correct. I definitely have no problem with this job. We had our usual crew of me, Charlie and Paul. Chris who joined us for the first time last year was back as well and she brought along a friend, Christina, who helped us for her first time. Thank you so much Christina. You did a great job. That plucker does a great job too don't you think? And thanks Mike for bringing the pop-up tarp home for us to work under. It kept most of the table crew mostly dry.

Christine and Sue did their usual awesome job in the kitchen doing the final work making sure the chickens look real "purdy", bag them and get them into the refrigerator.

And that is our butchering morning in a nutshell. We were done and cleaned up by around 11:30am. Usually there is a little socializing afterwards, but everyone was so soaking wet and dirty that getting home and dry became a happy thought. So everyone took the number of chickens they wanted and headed home.

Today, my job was to take the 21 chickens that were left in my fridge and do something with them. 6 went to the local smokehouse to get marinated and smoked (mouth watering as I type). Not all of these are mine. The rest I either cut up or packaged whole and started the re-stocking of the freezer. It will be awhile before our freezer stock starts looking normal again.

As I was finishing my job under the glow of the mercury vapor light outside the barn, I could hear Mike still working the tractor out in the field. The near full moon was rising above the field across the road. A picture perfect end to a blessed day on the farm.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I have lost the battle, but will win the war

11:30pm and I think I am about to call it quits for the day. It's been a long one for sure. Had to work at the clinic until noon. Then home to prepare everything for chicken butchering tomorrow. Mostly this means cleaning house. Hopefully this coming week, I'll put up a series of photos to show just how quickly these meat chickens grow. They are 66 days old today and probably weigh anywhere from 7 to 10 pounds live weight. The pullets (females) should dress out at around 5 pounds and the cockerels (males) at 6 pounds with a few closer to 7 pounds. I'll just be glad to start replacing the meat that we lost in last week's great freezer fiasco.

I always take time to look back at my records of each batch of meat birds to see how well (or poorly) they did compared to previous years' birds. This a great way to learn how to do things better. Compared to laying chickens, these meat chickens can be a little tricky to raise at times. They grow so fast that they are subject to heart and leg problems. This year's batch #1 did pretty well. After a somewhat disastrous start due to what I can only imagine was some kind of stress that occurred during shipping, they have done well. I actually have only had one bird die out on pasture and that was the first week they were moved out there. This is REALLY good as we have had a lot of hot weather that can be very stressful on birds that are this heavily muscled.

Each batch of birds that I raise has something unique about them. This will be known as the year of the vicious cockerel. When I walk inside the pen to feed, the chickens get quite excited and there is always some scrambling around my feet. In the summertime, I am usually wearing sandals and these birds have mighty sharp toenails so my feet usually have quite a few scratches on them. But this year, I have pecking wounds on my feet and hands too. Oh, every once in while I will have chickens that like to gently peck at my feet and toes, but this year, I have one bird that bites. Hard. Hands, feet whatever. And he draws blood. I've a few mature roosters do this in the past (past as in if a rooster attacks me he becomes supper), but I've never had a young meat cockerel do this to this degree. The skin on top of my big toe has taken quite a beating.

Ok, I can hear the questions. Why am I walking into a pen of meat chickens while wearing sandals and sporting red painted nails? It goes like this. I need to wear footwear that I can easily hose off when I am done with chores. Can you say chicken poop? My choices are my knee high rubber boots that I wear in the winter. I have to wear these boots with a couple pairs of wool socks because I bought them nice and roomy so I could wear a couple pairs of wool socks in the winter. My only other choice are my sandals. I have old barn tennis shoes too, but if I hose them every day, twice a day, they start to get really, well, stinky from being wet in the summer heat and humidity. Oh, I could go to the store and buy some rubber boat type shoes that would protect my feet better, but then that would just be wasteful when I have these perfectly good sandals I can wear. One thing you learn when you live on a farm is how to be thrifty. I was going to say that I am cheap, but I think thrifty sounds so much better. Really though, wearing the sandals has never been an issue before this year. Now this cockerel may think he is winning the battle, and by how sore my big toe is, I think he is correct. What he doesn't know is that tomorrow will be the end of the war and he will lose. This is one chicken I will not be sorry to see go.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finals week

Do you remember finals week? Do remember trying to cram a semester's worth of learning into your brain for that one final test? Well that is kind of like this week on the farm. This is the final week for the meat chickens that will be butchered on Sunday. We will have a 8-10 people visiting on Sunday and so there are lots of preparations to be made. Trying to cram all the preparation in during the week is a challenge.

So no pretty pictures in the blog this week. Just a down and dirty recap of the last few days.

This past Monday was supposed to be my main chicken crate building day. I had it all planned out. It was my last day off work at the end of my vacation. Perhaps when one goes on vacation, one should not tell people at work that one will actually be at home. First thing in the morning I got called in to work to perform an emergency c-section on a dog. Actually that is not a bad thing. I like doing c-sections especially when live puppies are the result. The problem was that this totally disrupted my chicken crate building day.

Tuesday I work evening office hours so I didn't get home until after 6:30pm. The next batch of day old meat chicks arrived via the US Postal Service. I had to do the finishing touches on getting their pen ready and get them all situated with feed and water and a heat lamp. Then I had to do my regular poultry chores. I didn't get finished with all of this until about 9:15pm. Then I joined Mike and our farmer friend Bill who were having a few brews in the driveway. The net result of all of this was that we sat down to supper at 10:10pm and zero progress was made on the chicken crates.

Wednesday I came home, did my usual evening chores (which take me about 1 to 1 1/2 hours) then started painting the bottoms of the chicken crates. Mike worked in the fields until dark. We ate around 9pm then I went back outside and worked for another hour on cutting lumber for the crates. Another neighbor came by and we talked in the driveway until after 10:30pm. The late hours are starting to build up at this point because I get up shortly after 5am every morning.

Tonight I made a decent amount of progress on the crates, but still not what I hoped for. Decided to come inside early at 9pm and eat dinner and quit for the evening. It won't be the end of the world if I don't get the crates done for Sunday. It's just something that will make butchering day more efficient. I'll post some pictures of the finished project when I get one totally complete.

The boys picked peas today and Mike says there will be peas ready for the markets this weekend. He will have sugar snap, snow and shelling peas. There will also be onions. Broccoli is coming quickly but won't be ready this week.

So that's the past few days in a nutshell. I keep telling myself I just have to make it through butchering day on Sunday.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How does your garden grow?

I finally got a chance to mosey back to the garden and take pictures of the progress of things. I picked two quarts of blueberries to start replacing the ones ruined in the great freezer mishap. That is about all that is left of the early and mid season varieties. One more variety to go. Should be ready to start picking next week. I don't know how many we will have to sell as I need to replace what I lost first.

Mike was busy disking up some ground to get a late sweet corn planting. He always does a small late patch because some years, if we have a late frost, we've been able to pick sweet corn in October.

Now for everyone who is reading this and lives in points south of here, no shaking your head at how small the plants still are the third week of July. This is the frigid north of Ohio after all. We can never plant tender crops until after June 1 because of freeze danger. And this year was really late because of endless rain in early June. But in spite of the late start, everything is starting to really take off in this heat and humidity. So here is a little look see of how everything is looking as of July 17th.

Cantaloupe. Big difference from just a couple weeks ago, eh? Tons of blossoms. I couldn't find any fruit yet, but so far, the melons are doing great.

Green beans. Man, I love green beans. I only have two or three jars of home canned beans left from last year. I just love to steam them when they are fresh the best.

Broccoli. My favorite vegetable. Give me some steamed fresh broccoli on my dinner plate and I am in heaven.

Peas. Not a big pea fan here, but I know a lot of people love them. There is some ragweed growing in the rows, but the cultivator pulled by the tractor keeps weeds from growing inbetween the rows. Remember we are minimal spray farm. We only spray if a crop is threatened and then use the safest product. This is a family run farm. We work in these fields and eat what we grow. So whenever we can, we use the cultivator or grow plants on plastic to control weeds.

Squash. Zucchini and yellow. I love squash too. Can you believe Mike does not like to eat squash? What is up with that? *grin* In typical squash fashion, once these plants start really taking off, they will grow quickly.

Baby tomato! Yeah! I did have to look awhile to find one, but there were a few. Wish they would hurry up because my supply that Mike brought home with him on his last trip to Marietta is almost gone.

Cucumbers. Is there not anything better than a fresh picked cucumber? I can't even believe that I buy those soft wrinkled things the grocery stores try to pass off as cucumbers during the winter. I do though. Just because. But I SO look forward to fresh ones in the summer.

SWEET CORN! WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! Wasn't it only a week or so ago that I posted pics and it was just a little bit taller than the dog? Well the corn is tassling and the ears are starting to form. Just a little bit more waiting. So hard to do.

There's more back there, but that's all the pics for now. The peppers still look a little stressed from the transplanting. The watermelon is starting to grow better. Cauliflower is doing well. Won't be long until we have produce galore. You just have to love summer and its bounty!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meat: past, present and future

As you can imagine from the last update, meat has certainly been on my mind this week. Charles Dickens may have written about the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, but I am living the story of meat past, present and future.

The meat past is gone. Loaded up for the garbage man to take yesterday morning. Hopefully the 12 pack of beer I left for him softened the blow of how truly disgusting all that rotting meat was. I think the maggots bothered Mike more than me though, probably because every summer I have to treat a maggot infested dog or two or three. I think my response to the disgusted look on his face was "welcome to my world". Veterinary medicine can be pretty gross sometimes. Final count was around 100 pounds of venison and about the same or a little more in chicken. *sigh*

Meat present is just very very odd for me. I have not had to go the grocery store with the intent to purchase a package of meat in probably 5 or 6 years maybe more. Now, I do buy bacon for our Sunday breakfast and once in awhile I buy some pork on sale and I usually buy some steaks to grill to celebrate Mike's birthday every year, but meat is never on my shopping list. It is just truly a weird feeling to have beef or chicken on my grocery list. I feel truly blessed to be able to eat meat that I know exactly where it comes from. The chickens we raise on our farm are out on grass eating bugs and foraging like chickens do. We butcher them ourselves and so I know how these birds are treated from one day old all the way to the dinner table. The next biggest portion of our meat is from deer that live on our farm. I know some don't agree with hunting, but this is a working farm. Deer live here and deer eat our crops which is the money that pays our bills. We don't mind sharing some with the deer, but their population has to be kept in check. As a meat eater, I can think of nothing more pleasing to know I am eating meat from an animal that has lived its life wild and free. If you have never eaten venison, you should really try it. It is so lean and has such a good flavor. When I brown ground venison for tacos or something similar, there is no grease to drain off. When I cook a vension steak on the grill, there are no grease flare ups. And with just a little bit of care and knowhow, they are just as tender and yummy as beef. Living on a farm has truly made me appreciate fresh healthy food.

Meat future is out in the grass as I type. They are looking pretty tasty I think. We will be butchering in about 10 days so at least I won't have to get chicken at the grocery store. Mike has been complaining about the deer eating the vegetables in the garden. This is actually something unusual and I'm wondering if our deer population is still high. Deer sightings were at an all time high last year. 4 deer were taken off the farm last year, 3 of which were mature does. I was reallly hoping that would have put a dent into the population, but perhaps there is more work to be done in that respect. Anyway you look at it, we have to wait until hunting season in the fall to add venison back to our freezer.

We ended up with 1.8 inches of rain this past week and Mike said the plants are really looking good. Tomorrow or Saturday I'll try to get some updated pictures. I cannot wait for produce to be flowing from the garden. My taste buds are so ready.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Of concerts and rain and things that break

Time to catch up on the happenings of the past three days. First up is Saturday. I was fortunate enough to be able to go have fun at the Zac Brown Band/Dave Matthews Band concert in Pittsburgh. I am a huge Zac Brown Band fan so I was in total ecstasy watching them as the opening act. I enjoyed watching DMB, but I just don't get the excitement from them as I do from ZBB. Still, it was a fun trip to P'burgh with family. Live music is one of my favorite forms of entertainment and it was a perfect summer evening. Mike got to work at market Saturday morning. Ah, such is the life of a farmer. He did have something kind of funny happen later in the evening. He went out to feed the laying hens and found a baby possum curled up sleeping in the pen. It must have wandered into the pen in search of food on Friday evening when the doors were open and got trapped inside when I locked the chickens up after dark. So it had been in the pen all night Friday and all day Saturday. Good thing it wasn't an adult because they have been known to kill chickens.
Sunday. Mike and I get up by at least 6:30-7am every Sunday morning. I do chicken chores and then make us a bacon and egg breakfast. It's a rare Sunday that we skip this routine. Then mid morning, if nothing else is going on, I go back to bed for a couple hours. I call this "sleeping in". I guess most people would call sleeping in getting up at 8 or 9am, but I have animals that need tended to so my sleep just gets interrupted by a few hours of being awake. The net result is the same. Mike went outside to use the tiller to get ground ready for planting more green beans and maybe one last planting of sweet corn. When he left the house after breakfast, the forecast was for zero chance of rain. So a few hours of field work later, he was surprised when he saw lightning in the sky. He was deciding if he should leave the field or not when the tiller made a loud bang and started smelling like something burning. Broken! Well, that made the decision for him. He got inside just before the thundershower hit and the sky dumped a half inch of rain on us. So much for no chance of rain. But we did need the rain and besides, I was happily napping in bed and listening to the gentle thundershower outside the window. Now that is a beautiful feeling.
Monday. Mike took the broken tiller up to the guy that fixes those things. He brought back the string trimmer that broke a week ago and needed repair. My little lawn tractor that had broke for a second time a couple weeks ago came back to the farm today too. But because karma always seems to want to keep things in balance, the day could not end with one broken thing leaving to be fixed and two fixed things coming back to the farm. During afternoon chores, I walked out to the little out building where we keep our large upright freezer. The thing is older than dirt and we always knew the day would come when it would break, but the way it was found broken today was unexpected. I had not been in that room since sometime middle of last week. Sometime between then and now, the magnet on the door failed and the door swung wide open. Wish I could put scratch and sniff on this post. Just think rotting meat and flies. Yes, it was gross. So after supper, we threw out everything that was in the freezer and cleaned up the mess. We had fun talking about the grossest things we had ever done in our lives. This was not at the top of our lists, but it was up there. So tomorrow Mike gets to go buy us a new freezer. Oh, and we lost probably 200 pounds of meat. All of it was raised on the farm, i.e. nothing store bought. In fact, I buy meat at the store maybe once a month and that is just to buy some pork or other meat that we don't raise. So now I guess I'll be shopping the meat sales at the store. We lost some frozen vegetables too, but not as much. Although I did JUST freeze 3 quarts of blueberries 2 weeks ago. All gone. Such is life.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Rain, beautiful rain. Or as Luke Bryan sings "Rain is a good thing". Well, we weren't singing this tune earlier this year when too much rain delayed planting by almost a month. But after at least two straight weeks of above average temps and no rain, today was a blessing. I almost forgot what a puddle in the driveway looked like. Of course the chickens were happy pecking around in the mud to find tasty worms and such. The best conversation of the day was over the cell phone between Mike and one of the boys that works for us. It went something like this. E. "We are picking blueberries and it's raining really hard." Mike "yes." E. "Do we still need to pick the blueberries?" Mike "yes, just like last year, you do have to pick in the rain. There is market tomorrow." These kids worked for us last summer too so it was sort of funny. They know that we all work outside rain or shine. Thunder and lightning is different, but rain just gets you wet.

So Fridays are market prep day as produce for the two largest markets of the week and about 1/3rd of the CSA's needs picked and packed for tomorrow. Our kitchen was filled with the likes of onions, blueberries, sprouts (broccoli, arugula, popcorn and radish this week) and a few radishes. Since we don' t spray radishes, we had to throw some out that were eaten by insects, but a few bunches will be going to market.
Tomorrow, Mike has an early and busy day at market and I have a late and busy day of fun. Works out good since I'll be around to do morning chores and Mike will be around for evening chores. I'll take my day off though since the last two weeks have contained lots of long hours at work for me. Zac Brown Band and Dave Matthews Band concert tomorrow for me. So excited!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Everything is slow motion

The heat in the eastern US continues and everything is slowing down. Mike even commented the other day that the beagles were wrestling with each other in slow motion. I don't think the barn or porch cats even move all day. The chickens just lie around in the shade and pant. Only the 13 year old crazy Brittany seems happy to run around the yard, dash into the creek to cool off and repeat all day long. The lack of rain is just starting to make itself known. I haven't mowed grass in over a week and a half and it doesn't really need it. Well except for all the plantain spikes all over the yard, but they don't really count.

The theme for the farm this week is tomatoes. 2500 or so tomato plants waiting to be staked and tied. I wandered out the barn two nights ago to see how the stack of tomato stakes was shrinking. This picture was taken when the boys had staked about 1/3 of the plants so quite a few more to go at the time the photo was taken. Tuesday it was so hot that Mike sent them all home at noon. Too hot to be working in the fields in the afternoon sun. Tonight Mike reported that the boys were almost done with the staking whatever "almost done" means. Staking is a hard, hot job, but we sure do appreciate the work the boys do for us.

Mike also took a load of tomatoes over to the Middlefield produce auction today. First trip of the year and he said there was not much produce there, but the buyers seemed to be there. Fingers crossed that means a good price for the 'maters. You just never know at an auction.

As for me, this is live music week. My friend Val and I took a road trip to Fort Wayne, IN yesterday to see the Zac Brown Band. If you have never seen them live, you really need to. I can't even begin to describe the amazing show these boys put on. It was hot hot hot in Indiana. I think around 95 degrees in the afternoon. The show was at a very nice venue for a concert: the Parkview Field which is a minor league baseball stadium. Great acoustics from where we were sitting. Boy did the boys (and gals) on stage look like they were melting. Joey and Rory were with Zac Brown Band along with Levi Lowrey, Sonia Leigh, and Nic Cowan. 3 1/2 hours of NONSTOP music. They had to be whooped by the heat but their enthusiasm on the stage never dwindled even at the very end. Next up is Dave Matthews Band this Saturday.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Finally flowers

Alright! It's July 5th and 2/3rd's of my annuals are planted in the flower bed! This is how the flower bed should look on June 5th, not July. These poor flowers have literally been sitting in their flats waiting to be planted for a month. Seems like every time I had time to plant it rained. Every time it was sunny I had to work. Or mow the yard. With about 4 hours of weekly mowing to do, the yard gets priority over the flower beds. Fingers crossed that a little Miracle Grow will help the poor flowers out. And in case you noticed, the bare spot in between the marigolds and the hostas is there for a purpose. That is the dog path. I learned many years ago to give up on planting flowers in that spot because the dog cuts the corner every day when it does foot patrol around the house. Sometimes its much easier to go with the flow rather than fighting the current.

Mike traveled to Marietta yesterday to pick up the last of the plants: late broccoli. So now we have flats sitting on the wagon. Again. Not so many as before though. He also brought home some goodies from his parents' farm for us to eat. Our first home grown cucumbers and sweet corn sitting in our refrigerator waiting to be eaten. Oh they look so good! Thanks Mike's Mom and Dad!

Tonight I took the dogs for a short walk to take a look-see at the garden and to see if any birds needed to be rescued from under the blueberry netting. The melons are looking great. The peppers look a tiny bit stressed from the transplanting followed by hot temperatures and no rain. The sweet corn looks fantabulous. In one week it has gone from knee high to mid-thigh high. Molly had a grand ol' time running back and forth between the rows in spite of how hot it was. The corn is tall enough that I can barely see the top of her head.

And in a rare moment of stillness, I captured this shot of her standing next to the outside row of corn. You can see her bottom half is all wet from one of her many trips into the creek to cool off.
The word for the rest of the week is going to be hot! Temps in the 90's all week. The boys better drink plenty of water while they are out working in the fields this week. I on the other hand have some very fun things planned for this week. More on that later.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Farm and Family

Can you tell it has been a crazy week? I really should post a little at least every other night because this farm is busy and now there is a lot of catching up on the week's activities.

Planting is finished! Whoo hoo! The boys finished up on Thursday July 1st. What a crazy planting season. Not the latest we have ever finished, but far from normal. Final count is over 400 flats of plants. Actually there is some late broccoli left to go in, but Mike has not even picked up those flats yet (that job is coming up tomorrow). If I get motivated tomorrow, I'll take a stroll back to the fields and see what is happening.

Friday's are ALWAYS crazy on the farm during market season. The boys picked blueberries and onions for the market. They also started driving tomato stakes. I'll try to get some pictures up in the next couple days.

Friday was crazy for me too. Of course I have my usual chores taking care of the poultry and working at the clinic, but then I had to come home and bake for my family reunion that was today. I went out to the blueberry bushes to pick some fresh blueberries. Then I made a blueberry cheesecake pie and hard boiled and peeled eggs for deviled eggs. Stupid me forgot to set some eggs aside a couple weeks ago so I had to use fresh (as in laid 2 days ago) eggs. If anyone has tried to boil and peel fresh eggs, then you know it can be a challenge. Seemed to take forever. By the time I got done with my stuff and Mike got done with his stuff, we both sat down to a dinner of grilled burgers and baked beans at 9:30pm. It felt SO good to sit down.

This morning was up early and get busy. Mike was up at 5am and gone by 6am to head to market. I got up a little after him to finish making the deviled eggs. Amazing what piping in the filling with a cake decorator and putting them on a decorative plate does to hide the crappy shell peeling job on 2 day old eggs. *grin*

Then outside to do poultry chores. What a joy it is to be outside on a beautiful summer morning and walk out to the "pasture" to feed the meat chickens. They are actually in our yard, but we have a BIG yard as in around 4 acres so they are not all that close to the house. Here's a view looking back at the house from where the meat chickens are out on the grass.

Then walking back to the house, here comes one of the laying hens walking up the sidewalk to the front door. They are so bad sometimes! Not that I mind though. I just don't think I ever thought when I was growing up that I would have chickens hanging around my front porch some day.

After chores it was off to the clinic to work until noon. I decided that the blueberry cheesecake pie needed a little something added for presentation so I ran to the store to get some raspberries. The raspberries and a little whipped cream gave a nice red, white and blue Fourth of July theme to the dessert. I didn't get to the family reunion until after most everyone had eaten. I swear I barely set the pie down and went to get my camera and pieces started disappearing.

Mike and I enjoyed our time over at my sister's house at the family reunion. Lots of good food and company as usual. It was nice to just sit back and relax. Perfect weather too. Hard to believe that I have not yet seen a fawn out and about on the farm, but sitting in the back yard in suburbia, we got to watch a pair of fawns on the sidewalk across the street from my sister's house.
Tomorrow, I swear I am going to spend a good chunk of the day doing nothing! I'll let you know how that goes.