Monday, December 31, 2007

Busy, Busy Christmas! (glad it's over)

Finally I had everything done and was ready for Christmas. Unfortunately for me but fortunately for everybody else I had planned too many things to do and and too mant gifts to make. It was all worth it in the end cause everyone loved the calendars and movies that I made, plus we had jerky to take to all the parties.

I made both venison and turkey jerky. It was a first for the turkey jerky. We made the venison jerky fresh from Kevin's button buck that we butchered ourselves and then I thawed a big broad-breasted bronze turkey, de-boned it and had about six or seven pounds of meat for the turkey jerky. It's even kind of fun saying "turkey jerky", most people smiled when they heard it was turkey jerky, it was funny.

Here is a picture from the box of the meat grinder that we used, it was around the $100 price and it works great. Really easy to use and clean-up. Really fast and efficient too.

We bought this Nesco brand dehydrator at Walmart and it was great too. It came with some seasonings but we bought some other flavers too. Most deer hunters I talk to really like the Nesco brand seasonings the best. I tasted the Cracked Pepper and Garlic flavor that somebody at work made and it was awesome.

Like I said above, the calendars were a big hit. I used pictures that I took around the farm. I had to use one indoor picture though, I had no winter pictures so I took one of my Christmas tree, cropped it around an ornament and it looked kinda cool. I obviously used that one for December. We finally got some snow before Christmas so I decided to go out and take some snowy shots but it was freezing so I just took a couple. I used one for January of the pond but I was not happy with it. Kevin liked it though so I just let it go. Here it is below. It just looks blah to me.

Like he kept telling me, "Let it go, it's fine", as I was freaking out the weekend before Christmas. That Sunday night I was crying my eyes out because I had ordered a really cool present for my Dad and of course I found out at the last minute (Saturday) that it was back ordered (even though the email that I got said it had shipped) so I got him a nice digital picture frame, hoping he would love it (Ha! that's another whole crap story!) so...I had to run to Radio Shack the day before Christmas for more photo paper and a flash drive for the digital photo frame.

You see, there was no way to get all the cool photos, that I had spent HOURS scanning, downloaded to the frame from my computer. There was no USB cord with the frame, only a spot for a memory card. You see, I was trying to make him a DVD of all our old pictures to the present time with music attached. But, and it is a HUGE "but", I could not get the awesome (or so I thought) movie to burn on a DVD. I had made one previously on Windows Movie Maker but it would run only on a computer or we could watch it through our X-Box 360 on our TV. I made a new one with NERO that was supposed to be able to be burned onto a DVD and be played in a regular DVD player but NO SUCH LUCK!!!!

So I sat sobbing at my computer with a very frustrated Kevin trying to help me. He made me promise not to wait til the last minute next year. I did promise but the only problem is that I don't get excited til the middle of December and think of all the things that I want to do then.

Here's the one of my tree that I had to settle for although my sister Diane loves the picture and wants one framed so she can get it out every year for a Christmas decoration, kinda cool.

Here is my funny turkey picture and I added "Happy Thanksgiving" in my beginner (read free) Photoshop program. Kind of crude and I really thought Kevin was going to get me the good Photoshop for Christmas but nada. I better shut up cause I got a awesome diamond necklace from him, three stones, he said it's for our past, present and future. He had the necklace hanging around the doll ornament's neck that is pictured in the December calendar photo and gave me the picture as a hint and made me search for it. He said it had been hanging around the dolls neck for a week and I had not noticed it. He pulled a fast one, a surprise for me and no one has ever been able to surprise me in the past, it seems like I can always figure it out, I don't want to, but people just seem to say things that give it away. Someone once told me that I was very perceptive, not good for trying to surprise me. Below is the original picture with the doll. He gave me this picture, written on the back was "seek and ye shall find". It was awesome. I had no idea.

Here is the comb machine that I used to put the calendars together, worked GREAT and will be very handy for the kids homework reports.

I may have talked about the comb machine in a previous post, I forget, if I did, sorry to be repetitive.
WOW, look at the yummy corn dogs below!

I had to include this cause this was the kind of dinners we had during the Christmas rush. The thought practically gags me but the kids loved it, at the table it was YAYYYYY!!! corn dogs!!!!

(Speaking of dinner, I have a brisket in the fridge, marinading that I have to get in the oven soon. We are having sweet potatoes too, the kids will hate it but I'll make some brown rice and some salad.)

I just had to include this picture, (sorry it's blurry). This is what you can find me and Kevin doing in our spare time. He is playing an online video game. It's called HALO 3 and we are addicted. We play with my brother-in-law from Parma Heights near Cleveland. They live an hour from us so we get to play and talk to them everyday via Halo 3 and the x-box. My sister Amy watches, she doesn't like to play but she is her husbands helper. I can hear her talking in the background, giving him game advice. (Ha ha, she'll love that.) My husband and I each have our own 360 and we play on separate TVs in separate rooms. We play regularly with someone from Florida (Hi Brian!) and a couple others from ...uh, I forget... Tennessee or somewhere, South Carolina maybe, (Hi Shap!), Colorado too. We played people from England and all over. It's really fun!

And here is my brother-in-law Tom...He says I do not have him in my blog enough so every blog will include a Tom shot. Here he is with his rescued Jack Russell Terrier, Sebastian. My sister has been training him (Sebastian, not Tom) using the Dog Whisperer training technique. Tom helps too but he is the softy with the dogs. My sister used to get really upset cause her female Jack Russell named Sobie, could care less if she is home, instead, ignoring her, watching from the back of the couch, staring out the window, waiting for her daddy to get home. Here is both of them with Sobie, their first Jack Russell. (By the way, they are nuts to have such crazy little dogs that want to chase squirrels all day, mine just lay around sleeping all the time or eating or pooping! Now that the snow has melted I think they did more pooping than anything else! Yuck, I have to clean that up today too.)

Here is Tom's pride and joy, his dirt bike. He loves it. .

Here he is flying through the air!

I like 4 wheelers better and they finally got one. He used to absolutely refuse saying they were motorized wheelchairs. But after we got one and he and my sister rode it a little they got a really awesome one, a Polaris. Here is me, Kevin and Amy with their new Polaris and the picture below is me and Kevin on ours. We are planning a 4 wheeler trip down in southern Ohio in the late spring sometime. Can't wait!

PS..thank you very much whom ever invented spellcheck!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Turkeys, Christmas Calendar and Mediocre Photos.

Below are some of the pictures I am using for my calendar for my family and here is a definition from

1.of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate.
2.rather poor or inferior

This is how I feel my photos are. I decided to try and fix them up a little for the calendar so I imported them into my "starter" in other words free, version of Adobe Photoshop 3.2 and used the auto color fixer. It did change the pictures but I am not happy with the limited effects. I cannot afford the expensive Photoshop software so I guess I will have to make do. Here are some of my before and afters.

My apple trees before, the after auto color fix did some weird color changes but I kinda like it.

After, you can definitely see the apples better and it kinda looks painted. Here is our pond before and after . Not a lot of change but a little more dramatic.

I like the after but it could be so much better. Over at Pioneer Woman's blog she does the coolest stuff with her photos. Oh well, next year maybe I can afford the fancy stuff.

Here is a picture of a Praying Mantis that I took in our pear tree. I am using it for the calendar too. I'm afraid my mom will hate it, she despises all things creepy. She will not even look at pictures of alligators or lizards. Me, on the other hand, will not let almost any animal pass without touching it or holding it. We found salamanders in our backyard, I picked them up, and at the zoo when I was 8 or 9, I reached through the fence to pet the buffaloes, at the marina I touched the sharks and all the other things I could get my hands on.

The only thing that completely grosses me out is MAGGOTS! Yuck, the worst thing in the world is to kick over a dead squirrel and see it crawling with maggots. (I will put them on my fish hook if I have to, I won't like it but I will.) Now, you may be thinking,"Why in the world is she kicking over a dead animal? Well, because it is an animal and I have to see it, have to examine it, can't help myself. A friend brought his beautiful snake (I think a python?) into work and my hands were dying to hold it. Her name was Baby and she was so calm and I LOVED holding her!
Anyway, Kevin always calls me to come see when he finds a praying mantis. I love it! We have seen quite a few on the property. I took about 50 shots to get this one good one.

Here are a couple of mediocre ones.

These guys are quick suckers and not too happy to pose. It's funny cause I would have been happy with the second photo had I not gotten the first. Usually you never get to see the bad shots only the good ones. I can only imagine what professional photographers go through to get their one "money" shot! They are probably really happy with digital cameras, no more loading film and developing, dark rooms and so forth.

Our turkeys started roosting on top of our chicken house which did not make us very happy. We spent a lot of money on the roofing and we really did not want it covered with poop. We have a large crab apple tree in their fenced in area and we were hoping that they would fly up and roost in it. Kevin cleaned off a couple of lower, larger branches to make it easier for them to get up there. At first they weren't interested but he put a chicken up there a couple times hoping the turkeys would copy. The turkeys were very watchful and got kinda excited when they saw the chicken up there and it didn't take them very long, after a couple of trial and errors, to get up there and now they roost up there every night.

We had originally ordered the Broad Breasted bronze turkeys as well as the Royal Palms but they obviously sent us the wrong ones. After one of the bronze turkeys took off and flew about 50 feet across our yard and then 30 feet up into our pine tree we knew we had the wrong turkeys! Last year our Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys could barely walk normally let alone fly so we decided to keep the ones we got this year and maybe we'll get some baby turkeys in the spring. We think they are the Standard Bronze, which are the ones that are much smaller but they have a normal body and can reproduce. Here they are up in their tree.

They just love it up there and will stay up there even if it's raining, snowing or whatever. They go up at dusk and stay up until dawn. We feel like they are really safe up there. In the photos you can see the branch that Kevin cleaned off for them but they prefer the brushy branches up higher.

We have them close to the house so we can enjoy them and most people that stop over enjoy them too. Although one evening someone stopped over and they were afraid to get out of their car because they couldn't tell what was up in our tree. It was funny!
Almost everyday we have a truck in our driveway bring our gifts that we have ordered online (free shipping is great!) and yesterday a delivery guy kept insisting to Kevin's mom that the dark ones were the babies and the light ones were the moms and dads, she didn't argue, just smiled and nodded. I love this season with the holidays but I am having a really hard time waiting for spring! Right now I need to get busy and get some things done for Christmas, also we went to Walmart yesterday and got a dehydrator and so today I am finally going to get to make some venison jerky. I am going to thaw out a turkey and try some turkey jerky too. That reminds me... I better go and get the meat out of the freezer!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My Calendar

I bought an awesome calendar from the Confessions of a Pioneer Woman's site and then I saw that Sugar Creek Farm has one for sale and now I want both! But anyway, they have inspired me to make one for my family too. I am going to use photos from around my farm. I am not going to use animal shots but just scenery. Some from each season.

This one is kinda cool. It is our pear tree in blossom. I'm not sure which one to use if even at all.

Definitely this one below for spring. I have another better one but it would not upload, blah!

I am also making a really cool movie. I was going to buy the Photoshop product but while looking through some reviews I read that Windows has one built in! Its called the Movie Maker, I guess I'm the only one who didn't know this. I made a sample and it turned out really good. I have asked my sisters to bring me in some good pictures. I think I will make a really good, long one to watch on Christmas morning, all Christmas, in chronological order. Amy, if you are reading this then sorry your surprise has been ruined. Don't tell anyone else!
Here is one of the old pictures I am using in my movie. It is of my mom, taken in July of 1946, standing in front of the Polskys Department store in downtown Akron. My mom said that this is the way everyone dressed to go shopping. When she was younger, my grandmother and she used to take a trolley from Stow, where she lived, to downtown Akron. Here is one of my dad, he looks pretty cool with that bow tie! He is 86 and I bet he wishes he still had his old car he used to drive, not the one in the photo but one like it.
I ordered a comb binding machine for my calendars. We use them at work to make manuals. When I was pricing calendars online it was really way too expensive to order them so I am going to make my own. The binding machine was only $57.00 and the combs are only about $3.75 for a hundred and they will work great for the kids schoolwork too. I am way too excited for Christmas, I better slow down and get these projects down before I go on anymore about them!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Our Awesome Chicken House!

After our problems with our previous chicken housing we decided to build them a Fort Knox! We needed to find the most inexpensive way to make a really good building. Last winter Kevin saw this amazing little story about an 80 yr. old man who had an idea to build a shed or outbuilding out of those inexpensive landscape timbers. The story was from the 'Farm Show Magazine'. I looked everywhere for other examples but could find absolutely nothing so we decided to go ahead and learn from trial and error. Part of the bargain, when we bought one of those plastic pools for our backyard was, (that the kids begged for and Kevin wanted no part of) that if they did not keep it clean it was gone! So the pool that the kids never cleaned went from this...

to this!


It measures 16 x 8 and was built for maybe $400 or so dollars. The walls are very thick so no insulation is needed. We are going to build a cute little outhouse back by the barn next summer out of the same timbers 'cause I am tired of walking all the way to the house -when you gotta go, you gotta go! I would much rather take care of what goes on in a chicken house than pour chemicals into a pool any day!

Anyway, we made this...

so we didn't need the algae growing pool anymore anyway! I would much rather swim in a green colored pond than a green colored pool! I've got lots of pictures of the step by step pond building experience too. That was amazing.

Kevin also designed the handiest nesting boxes or I guess buckets. Here is one picture but I've got more pictures of those too. The buckets are on a slant and have a hole in the back so the eggs roll to the back.

Kevin, his dad and the youngster are down near Millersburg Ohio hunting today. They left at 3 a.m. so I've had all day to myself. I had all kinds of plans to get things done. I wanted to go work in the chicken house, tidy things up a bit in there, run to the store and get some things, decorate the poor lonely Christmas tree sitting all bare in my living room and make a wonderful dinner for when the men come home out of my new Taste of Home cook book!

The only problem is, I've been working at the computer all day, working on a surprise for him and my family (I can't tell what it is cause my sister reads this and she will know) and all I've gotten done is one load of laundry and that is still in the dryer getting all wrinkled! You can barely see the top of my computer desk cause I've got bills to pay and papers to organize not to mention all the snacks and cups and an awesome box of candy that my other sister gave me yesterday at work. Yum, I think I will have a piece right now. It is toffee covered with chocolate and then rolled in nuts! I am going to take a picture of it so you can see how delicious it looks!

I am not sure if you can see from the box but it is from a company in Boston. Yummy! That is enough to put me in sugar shock for the afternoon. Kevin surprised me the other day by making some tapioca pudding. (what is that stuff anyway?) He made it from scratch and was very excited because he did not add as much sugar as the recipe calls for. I am always complaining about our family's sugar intake and we try to stay away as much as possible. (Except for the occasional chocolate covered toffees that the kids don't know about and I hope you didn't notice that half the box is gone, all me!)

Well, most cooks know that if you leave something out of a recipe it could cause the end result to change and the shortage of sugar sure changed that pudding! I didn't say anything to him but the texture was nothing like I've ever eaten before. Kinda like gluey paste. I think you could paper mache' with it. And the flavor was odd. You could only taste the flavor if you held it in your mouth a long time. (I hope he doesn't read this. It might hurt his feelings.) But it didn't stop me from eating it.

Kevin just called and said they had a really good day down south and are on their way home so I asked him to pick up some chicken and jo jo's, so much for my really great home-made dinner. I hope your Saturday was more productive than mine!