Closing Time

It is with a heavy heart that I declare our dear garden mostly closed for the season.  I have hopes that a few more squash will make it into the kitchen and perhaps a handful of tomatoes will still garnish a meal but for the most part it has run its course.  That isn’t to say there wasn’t a flurry of activities this weekend to get the beds ready for winter.

First up, I had a sudden urge to plant garlic.  We haven’t ever planted and for what reason, I have no idea.  We go through (in my estimation) thousands of pounds of heads of it every year…why shouldn’t we grow our own?

A Saturday morning trip to our favorite local Farmer’s Market was quickly planned and the kids and I were off.

IMG_0712First up, break apart the cloves, but keep the paper on them.  I have it on good authority that it is recommended that you plant only the largest of cloves so I separated out any smaller cloves as well as those that came partially unwrapped. Stay tuned for a delicious recipe that I used those little darlings on….

IMG_0720Then plant each clove 4″ apart. It is really as easy as that.  I think the hardest part for us will be to remember that they are at the far end of this box.  And a lot of them at that.  The last remaining step will be to cover with compost for winter-and I just read that maple leaves make great compost. Yahoo! Will be raking the leaves into the boxes this year!

I’ve also read garlic thrives in nitrogen rich soil, which is great as we have an abundance of nitrogen rich chicken poop that would just love to be deposited somewhere.

It was a great year in the garden. I am sad to see it over, but already have plans for next year!


Posted in Around the House, Victory Garden | 1 Comment


Greetings! Hope you all are enjoying this slow (and let’s keep it that way) slide into Fall.  I am squeezing every lovin minute of being outside for as long as I can!

The late summer has brought many guests to the Wolowikranch and we are just thrilled to be able to entertain and enjoy so many people’s company.

When it really gets down to it, we truly love having people over but  the hubby and I thankfully enjoy completely different aspects.

I love the table setting! I have since I was a kid when my mom would let me decide what tablecloth to use. She let me get out the good china and silverware, and once I was older…decide how to creatively fold the napkins. For me it is the most exciting part!

For the hubby, it is all about the food.  He will pour over magazines, books and shows.  He will practice and experiment.  We will have some of the most enlightening and awesome conversations ever. And, oh the food, the food will be soooo good.

So here I present to you a day in the life….told to you in pictures….




Posted in Around the House, Family Time, Yum Yums | 4 Comments

The new coop on the block

Greetings from Midwest where all of a sudden, Fall is upon us! And I mean all of a sudden! Last weekend we were sweating our hineys off and swatting at mosquitos, and this week we are turning the heat on in the car and preparing for frost warnings.

We have known for sometime that we needed to get a new coop for our lovely ladies.  When we first set out on our chicken adventure we were gifted with a glorious (much loved and used) coop which was so great in that ‘all’ we had to do was build a run. (The hubby probably just rolled his eyes as ‘all’ we had to do was build the run not once, but twice…and it took a lot of effort…and $…..and time) BUT NOW we have the Fort Knox of all runs that will last for years and years.

The coop on the other hand is about ready to fall apart…and is drafty…..and mice seem to keep finding their way in….and and and…..

So we needed something new.  This thrifty Craigslist lover has been watching and waiting for something to fall into our price range (really $3000 for a coop??) But anything that was affordable was either dilapidated or WAY too big to even think about moving.

So it became clear we were going to need to build it ourselves.  I had read an article about this coop design and how well it was written that I decided to invest the $ in buying the plans to ensure we had a good start.

The next step was figuring out how we could build this coop on a budget as we didn’t want to spend yet another arm and a leg on this project….so in came Craigslist again and boy did it pay off.  We found plywood sheets as well as some roof tiles for a SONG! Then I took a trip over to our local Habitat for Humanity Restore and scored a bunch of items needed for $6 total!(little known fact…..I have an obsession with this store…I secretly frequent over my lunch hour…the endless possibilities are stupendous…but I digress) All in all I believe we doled out a total of $40 for this little beauty.

Next up…pick a perfect fall day to start this extravaganza…..



Then it was time to start building.  One of my biggest peeves is starting a project and then not being able to find any of the tools needed. So the day before I grabbed every tool that I could think of that we would possibly need and got it all in one place (genius I might say….we have never tried this before….previously we spent half the work day trying to find everything and swearing through it all…)


Yup, we have found that a cat litter bucket does a pretty good job of corralling all the stuff into one easy to carry vessel.

Then it was time to measure, mark, cut, repeat…repeat…repeat.

And we spent one whole day just measuring…then marking…then cutting


Previous projects had me relying on the hubby for all the saw maneuvering.  I can’t exactly explain why as I took wood shop (many many many years ago) and loved it,  but something over the years made me fear the circular saw.  And then on this lovely afternoon I said SCREW IT! Show me how to use that thing! He obliged me with a good overview of how it all works and adjustments I may need to make and then told me to have at it.

And here is what I found out…..cutting with the circular saw is kinda like sewing (NO REALLY…..except I am pretty sure my sewing machine won’t cut of any appendages).  And guess what, I am pretty darn good at it.  And now I don’t have to wait for the hubby to drop everything to help me.  I can do it myself!  Not to mention, I worked really hard at perfecting my control of a drill that I can proudly confirm there are NO STRIPPED SCREWS ON THIS COOP! YAHOO!!! (Somewhere my dad is smiling and super glad that be bought his girls all those tools)

Here it is looking pretty good and ‘coop-like’ if I do say so myself.


And in a stroke of genius, I had the boy construct the nest box. It went together with some nails and a hammer so I handed over the picture, the pieces and the tools and let him take a crack at it


And he hit it out of the park.

Last up was to put the final roof pieces on as well as prime and paint.

Then we called in the inspectors to give their seal of approval….

photo 1

Then we moved it into position….and…….

Well, I would love to say the new coop slid up to the old(er) run and it was a match made in heaven. Alas, that was not the case.  It took another two hours of head scratching, heaving, pushing, re-combobulating, and then just some plain old brute force with a healthy does of McGivering to get the two pushed together without any varmint sized gaps.

photo 5


….and the ladies confirmed they have moved on up….to a hen house in the sky……

…combined with a fresh bale of straw……the ladies declared in Christmas!

photo 4


Posted in Here chicky chicky | 3 Comments

Open and Ready For Business

We are pleased to announce the grand opening of the Wolowikranch Little Free Library!

Staff members will be on hand to shake hands and kiss babies as well as make reading recommendations and take in donations.

Our thanks go out to Up North Papa for making us this one of kind treasure and we hope our neighbors and community love it as much as we do.

As Dr. Seuss says “Be Awesome! Be a Book Nut!”

Let the reading begin!


Posted in Around the House | 3 Comments

Wool-A Make Over Story

**Note to reader…this is an epic blog post….get a cup of coffee…then come back**

As you all know, I have have deep love affair with wool.  But with all love affairs, I realize there are parts of wool that I truly love…and parts I now know I have no desire to have darken my door step.

The number one thing I have no desire to do, is wash and process raw wool.

Why you ask? As a wool luvvah shouldn’t I want to know and become ingrained in the WHOLE process…from beginning to end? Shouldn’t I want a relationship with the dear sheep that suddenly felt a distinct chill one day when the previous day it was wooly and warm?

Well, once upon a time, yes I did.  I did want all of that and more.

And then the entire process was laid before me and I was like ‘um, no’. And for no other reason than ‘who the he** has time for this’?

Will I take the time to hand dye, spin and knit up my woolens? By god yes (and I realize that many of you out there think I and others are bonkers for doing this) but that is the part of the process that I truly love. The science of the dying….the hypnotic nature of spinning….the thrill of the perfect pattern…the accomplishment of the final product….

So now that you know what I love and what I loath….here is where the real story begins.

So I travel out on the weekend to my favorite fiber shop. The owner has been my spinning mentor and was my instructor this past winter.  We have gradually formed a friendship and I enjoy driving out to gab with her.  Our conversations wax and wane over many many topics and it isn’t unheard of for me to spend a few hours. This particular day I asked her to go through the classes at an upcoming festival and see if she knew any of the instructors.  This proceeded to curve into ‘oh, if you are going to be there on Saturday….why don’t you come and demonstrate some dying techniques to this group I am leading. In fact, let me give you some of my sheep’s fiber for you to practice and play with, then you can tell me if you are interested.’

Interested?  You just told me you are giving me free fiber and you want me to talk to people about my new found favorite thing in the world to do.  Where do I sign up?

‘Great’, she says.  Here is bag of the fiber.  ‘Oh, sorry it isn’t washed or cleaned so you will have to do that…then you can dye it up.’

<Insert your choice of bad word right here as I said them all in my head…>

OK, here is what I realized as I was driving back home with a bag of filthy wool in my car.

What I really detest most about this process is…………………..


Holy he** I thought a sheep curled up and died in my car…

I mean , I come from WI where most of the time you are driving in the country and the various animal aromas that you encounter along the way are part of the charm….you kinda get used to it and even look forward to it. I have a friend with sheep and I pet them and have never ever ever encountered a smell like this before….

But this….this was soooooo much worse.

I got home and immediately got some water going on the stove as I knew that I needed it hot to cut through everything.

Then I put the fiber in and moved it outside. I took one look at the festering groddy water and texted the proprietor of said shop and said ‘Um, should I put some soap in the water?’

She responded back ‘on washings 1 &2, no…but on washings 3, 4 and 5…YES!’

Did she just say 5 washings??

Next up on my list of things I don’t like….5 washings!!

Then she replied “Smells bad doesn’t it?” (Ok, so at least I’m  not the only one)

Here is what it looked like on washing number 1.

I mean…Ew!

It is like you walked into a barn filled with sheep that had some sort of intestinal disorder…

…and you said…let’s bottle this smell and make tea

washing numero uno

washing numero uno

Washing 2 was more of the same

Washing 3, 4 and 5 at least there was the sweet scent of Dawn hanging in the air…..

And the water didn’t look like it needed a contaminated warning.

photoThen I laid the <MUCH CLEANER> locks out to dry

photo 5It took me 4 days to get to this step…but I am finally here and get to have some FUN dying these blankety blank locks!

Stay tuned for the exciting finale…which will be titled “Having fun dying blankety blank locks!”


Posted in Around the House, Knit me some happy | 2 Comments

And the winner is……

I know you have all been waiting with baited breath….
And Big Mama and I would like to announce that….
My WI sissy is the winner! (And she eats an egg every day!)
The ladies have laid 865 eggs!
Thanks for playing!


Posted in Here chicky chicky | 2 Comments

A Contest You Say??

Greetings friends and Happy Friday!

We have had the lovely ladies in our yard for a few years now and I can say with all honesty, I never grow tired of the daily surprise in finding out how many eggs they have laid. Everyday when I get home from work I greet the family, change my shoes and instantly go outside to greet my girls and check on the eggs.

Most of the time they are done laying by the afternoon, but every so often there is a late layer….. (She may have given me the ole stink eye when I opened the coop and told me to buzz off..or maybe it was chicken swearing…)

Amelia...wanting some alone time

Amelia…wanting some alone time

And it is always comforting to know that on the nights that you really just can’t bring yourself to plan and execute a decent dinner……

There are always eggs and toast…..


Since our first group of ladies I have always kept track of the number of eggs we collect and keep a running total…..Which brings me to the…..


Here’s what you need to do…..

Leave a comment on the blog page with your guess on how many eggs our current batch of ladies have laid.  Here are your only clues:

  • they started laying last September
  • there are four hens

If you are local, the winner will receive a ‘wolowikranch’ dozen of eggs (which is 11…not 12…cause that’s the way we roll….and we tend to run one egg short of a dozen round these parts)

If you are not local, I’ll send you something from the ranch.  If you are a knitter…it may be some handspun yums yums.  If you’re not a knitter….well….there may be something a little bit wrong with you…..but you will get something equally cool from the ranch in the mail.

Let the guessing begin! I’ll post the winner on Monday!


Posted in Here chicky chicky | 5 Comments