For the Love of June, part 2

Only once before have I ever been so excited to share a blog post. In January 2013 our extended family officially welcomed two boys to my sissy’s home.

Today dear reader, my sissy and hubby add a third, and I am just so excited to introduce you to Junie.

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It is a wonder that this little girl’s feet ever touch the ground with how much she is doted and loved on. She is the most agreeable and happy child and just goes from one activity to another with not so much as a fuss.

IMG_1804She has the teeniest, tiniest nose that she loves to do ‘dragon breath’. This may be my screen saver at work…..

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The boy and girl have been smitten since day one. The girl and I have had some very serious conversations on who has been holding Junie too long and whose turn it is and to stop hogging the baby.

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Everyone truly loves this little girl to pieces, so it is with great excitement we welcome her to this crazy family. We love you dear Junie.

Posted in Family Time | 2 Comments

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Years and years ago…many many apartments ago…in a time when I had leisurely daily engagements with Martha Stewart…I was instructed on the best recipe for roast chicken. Due to the butter content and the fact that I rarely cook large dinners, it does not make an appearance often…but when it does…oh the family rejoices.

I have made a few modest modifications so here goes:

IMG_0740Should you find yourself with a nice bowl of garlic garden castaways, this is a great way to use them up.  Chop up a bunch of cloves and then zest a lemon while your at it. Dump that into a bowl of room temperature butter.  (I used 4 Tbsp…because I had a really big chicken NO JUDGEMENT!) Then chop up whatever fresh herbs you have lying around….I used rosemary but you can easily use thyme, oregano, basil, etc.

Then, using your greatest swedish chef voice, massage the chicky bok bok with that magic potion.

Pierce the remaining lemon many many times and then ceremoniously shove that lemon right on up in there.

IMG_0744A chicken of this size took about 2 hours at 350 degrees. (What size is that chicken you ask? I have no idea…I forgot to look at the package but if I had to guess I would say 3 lbs)

And in a very unblogworthy brain cramp, I forgot to take a picture of the done bird. (Crap) But know this, it crisps up and is without a doubt one of the best ways to enjoy roast chicken. Coupled with mash potatoes and some delightful garden squash it was a real crowd pleaser. (In an even worse unblogginess of it all, I made giblet gravy for the first time……and it was so fantastic…and I didn’t take pictures of any of it.  But know this…you can make chicken gravy with RED wine and it still turns out spectacular….I mean slather it on everything…want to make lipgloss out of it SPECTACULAR!)

Posted in Yum Yums | 1 Comment

Dear Future Self

Dear Future Self circa May 2015,

Every year you say you are going to do this, but you never do.  It is seriously maybe 15 minutes of work  yet every year you forget what plants comes up where, what needs to be thinned and where to focus your efforts. For once would you please just take some notes so you are organized next year? So you can channel all that delightful Spring energy where it will really count?

Here are all your 2014 random ideas for your gardens next year…..mostly steeped in reality…and a few…well….

Plant more lettuce! June and July was great eating...but we could have used much much more!

Plant more lettuce! June and July was great eating…but we could have used much much more! Remember Sept lettuce=bitter horrible russian roulette of lettuce eating…eat all of the lettuce before August. However, should you forget this…chickens apparently love horribly bitter lettuce greens….

Plant WAY more kale. Can't believe all the things you can sneak it into, and we loved it! Buy more 'kale plugs' at Monona farmer's market

Plant WAY more kale. Can’t believe all the things you can sneak it into, and we loved it! Buy more ‘kale plugs’ at Monona farmer’s market and don’t forget there are garlic heads at that end of the box. Don’t plant anything else there! Hope that lemon thyme comes back…boy that is good…

Create LARGE garden for all things viney at back of yard. To include squash and pumpkins.

Create LARGE garden for all things viney at back of yard. To include squash and pumpkins. Should be great soil since compost piles were there for years.

Don't co-mingle squash with anything other than pumpkins...it takes over everything! This is ONE squash plant that took over an entire 4' box and went out of the box in every direction.

Don’t co-mingle squash with anything other than pumpkins…it takes over everything! This is ONE squash plant that took over an entire 4′ box and went out of the box in every direction. Remember…it killed the kale?!?!

Immature butternut squashes are phenomenal in tempura and pan fried....just sayin...don't forget this next year

Immature butternut squashes are phenomenal in tempura and pan fried….just sayin…don’t forget this next year.

Plant more zinnias and try sunflowers already! Remember how great it was to have fresh cut flowers? That patch gets great sunlight! Remember to extend down the fencing too so the poor hostas that the chickens decimated may have a chance.

Plant more zinnias and try sunflowers already! Remember how great it was to have fresh cut flowers? That patch gets great sunlight! Remember to extend down the fencing too so the poor hostas that the chickens decimated may have a chance.

Think about fencing in a nice shady hosta garden in this spot of deadness.  Would need a lot of dirt...and some sort of containment device for said dirt...and some sort of keepy outy device for chickens who want nothing more than yto kill your ever lovin hostas

Think about fencing in a nice shady hosta garden in this spot of deadness. Would need a lot of dirt…and some sort of containment device for said dirt…and some sort of keepy outy device for chickens who want nothing more than to kill your ever lovin hostas. And for the love of all that is good, paint this furniture already!

Hey! Remember this? It used to be the only garden on the ranch. Now it sits mostly unloved. Clean it up already so you can thoughtfully forget about for a few more years.

Hey! Remember this? It used to be the only garden on the ranch. Now it sits mostly unloved. Clean it up already so you can thoughtfully forget about for a few more years.

Um, yeah every year you wonder if this hosta bed needs to be thinned out. Yes, yes it does. Get at it in the spring before they become this unyielding mess.

Um, yeah every year you wonder if this hosta bed needs to be thinned out. Yes, yes it does. Get at it in the spring before they become this unyielding thicket.

Yes, those tiny little hostas aren't getting any bigger....perhaps move them (yet again) to someplace they can be seen??

Yes, those tiny little hostas aren’t getting any bigger….perhaps move them (yet again) to someplace they can be seen??

There is nothing pressing to do in this box so leave it alone. Walk away and go work on that hosta mess will you?

There is nothing pressing to do in this box so leave it alone. Walk away and go work on that hosta mess will you?

Posted in Around the House, Victory Garden | Leave a comment

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

Entertainment

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….

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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…..

Check!

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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…)

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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

BUT A BRILLIANT CONCEPT WAS DISCOVERED!

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.

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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

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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….

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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.

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….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!

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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!

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Posted in Around the House | 3 Comments