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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranberry Jelly

When I was a little kid I used to think the cranberry jelly from a can was so fancy. When I was a little kid I never saw it slide out of the ribbed can. I was probably in middle school before I realized that bouncy sculpture was a canned good. I thought it was neat too, that it already had marks on it to let you know where to cut a slice.


Now that I am an adult, I have been exposed to homemade cranberry jelly. I appreciate the work that goes into it, but if I am faced with making the decision between natural lumps and homogenous jiggle... I choose the jiggle.


I still tend to think of it as fancy and a special side reserved for holidays. It is probably one of my favorite parts of a holiday meal.

Monday, November 29, 2010

(Parts of) Thanksgiving Weekend (mostly) in Photos

This is the clock in my car Thursday a.m.

Aaron and I were heading to Fleet Feet. Aaron to run in the Hot to Trot and myself to volunteer. This is what runners look like volunteering at 5:30 in the a.m.

This was an accidental shot of the post race snacks. Came out better than any of my intentional shots.

Here is Eric finishing 6 miles before breakfast on Thanksgiving a.m...

And Emily, she finished her 3 miles...

and Aaron, finishing his 6...
And this guy... I really hope that isn't his pink jacket.

(Sorry, you'll have to use your imagination for a while...)
After the race we returned home.
Around noon we went to visit my mom, Grandma Bitter, Aunt Paula and cousin Russell.
We ate brown bread.
After a little while we headed to the newly weds house to have Thanksgiving dinner with:
-Brace yourself, this is going to be a doozie.-
Grandma Phyl
Papaw Jake
Spencer's Girlfriend
Caitlin's Boyfriend
Uncle Mark
Aunt T

While we were at dinner my aunt sent a picture to me. It was a picture of 2 eggs in a nest. The caption read, "Guess where I am?"

Friday's breakfast.
(Look, Melis! I finally get to use the cartons you decorated for me!)

 The scrambled picture didn't look so good, but the eggs sure tasted good.

After breakfast Emily and Nick came over with their two chihuahuas to house/dog/mini farm sit for us.
I had already given the ladies fresh water and more food so Emmie and Nick didn't have to worry about them too much or at all if they weren't comfortable doing it. Who could blame 'em? They have heard every chicken chasing story we have.

Then Aaron and I headed across the mountains to North Carolina to spend the weekend with my dad. His birthday was Sunday.

This is the view I had while my dad was hauling me in "Little Bertha" from next door.
I had one of those -Not much has changed- moments. It was good.
We returned home Sunday afternoon to 1 Emily, 1 Nick,  2 little dogs, 1 big dog, 2 hens and 4 eggs.

Who wants to guess if the laundry is put away yet?

If at first you don't succeed...

Apparently there were some issues with the polls.
I'll try and see what I can do.
Then I will try and figure out how to post the results.

Photo from here.

For now though, I am happy to report both Cinnamon Queens are producing an egg a day. It only took a week to get my first dozen.  Ok a week and 2 months. (That isn't as long as I thought it was! I feel much better.)

Look forward to long-Thanksgiving-weekend-ness pictures and words by tomorrow. (Probably this evening. We'll see how far I get with putting away laundry...)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

3 Eggs, 5 Questions

Since the remodel the Cinnamon Queens have been producing 1 egg (between the two of them) a day. I am happy to have eggs, but more than that, I am relieved that the ladies feel safe. Actually, I feel a little bad that I wasn't able to make them more comfortable sooner.

Apparently, I am still getting to know and understand my chickens. With that said, here is an opportunity for me to get to know the viewers of this blog.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Associated Humor

Sunday night, Aaron, Suzie (my mom) and I went to join (in-laws) Sharon, Glenn, Amanda and Emily at Amanda's church.

Yep, she has her own. What can I say? Some people have coops, some people have churches.

The Cokesbury-ans, put on a lovely Thanksgiving special with a lot of very good music and a good message. After the service we all went to dinner.

While we were sitting at the table, in a rare moment of quietness, Aaron says, "Does everyone know, Lauren?"

The other 5 faces turn my direction and I draw a blank. I am kind of nervous. The internal monologue starts, "What are they supposed to know? Oh geez, they think I'm pregnant. I'm not pregnant. Am I? No. No I'm not pregnant. What am I supposed to tell them?"

A: "About the chickens..."

Me: "Oh! Right. Yes. My chickens. I got my first egg!"

I don't know how much the humor conveys if you weren't there. But we laughed and laughed.

And "b.t.dub" as Amanda says - I got a second egg yesterday.


In case you aren't familiar with instant or text message lingo; BTW is shorthand for By The Way. I suppose since the name of the letter W is some what cumbersome to pronounce, it gets nicknamed Dub.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Surprise

I cleaned out all of the spent hay from the coop Saturday during the remodel but didn't have a chance to put any back in before the ladies put themselves to bed, so first thing Sunday I headed up to the coop with a fresh bail of hay.

This is what I found.
(The white egg is from the grocery store. Its what we farmers call a "nest egg". I'm kidding about the we farmers part. I just read that in my book, The Joy of Keeping Chickens.)

I am immediately wearing a big grin and am super excited. But then I think - Would he? He might... He wasn't outside this morning though. I unlocked the door... So I held my breath for a second, calmed down - a little and ran down to the house.  There is no evidence, like a sweatshirt or shoes by the door, that Aaron went outside before me.

Me: Aaron, did you go outside this a.m.? {It is pretty cold out this morning, and Aaron is still in pajamas and bare feet.}
A: No, why?
Me: How many eggs did you make our breakfast with this morning?
A: I used 4.
Me: Did you finish all of the eggs from Dwight?
A: No, there was one left and its in with the grocery store eggs.
Me: {at the fridge with the egg carton and a big grin}
A: Why?
Me: We have an Egg! Come look! Come on!

This is how the first egg from my Cinnamon Queen's stacks up. The white one on the left is from the store. The small tan one on the right is from Dwight. And the one in the middle, the one that is as big as the Grade A Large White - that is my first egg!

Saturday's Remodel

Saturday morning I headed up to the coop with a bucket of tools and some scrap wood with the intent to install some perches. The ladies seem to enjoy hanging out up on the ones in their yard (that is what the gray pipe is in this picture)  and Dwight seemed to think they didn't feel safe enough inside to lay eggs.

The first thing I did to improve the living conditions for my chickens was install some rails on the ramp. Painted plywood is kind of slippery when you have talons for feet.

 After several failed attempts and at hammering nails through a piece of scrap wood to hold up a longer piece of scrap wood (as a perch) to the wobbly, unstable plywood walls and at least five trips back and forth from Shed #1 or the house, I came up with this...

Those are two night stands we had in our first apartment. I was still using one as a night stand (even though it was hidden in a corner to the side of my dresser - Hooray for an excuse to shop for furniture!), and the other was in the office being used for extra stuff storage. I stacked them on top of one another so that I could mount a perch higher than the existing one, which you can see here.

Oh, and I finally nailed that down. Since I never saw that perch lying in the hay, I assume they narrowly avoided Traumatic Experience #6.

When I checked on the ladies after taking Charlie for a walk, one of them (I don't know who since all tail feathers are present and accounted for) was checking out the alcove to the left of the cinder block. That was the most interest I've seen from my birds regarding their housing. Unfortunately I don't have any "before" pictures to show you what they were dwelling in. Even though its still kind of a shanty, I'd say we're moving in the direction of the Ritz rather than the Motel 6.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Movin' On Up

"Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side,
We finally got a piece of the pie."

In another attempt to make my birds feel more at home, I am going to install better perches in the coop. If the ladies are inside when I go check on them, 9 times out of 10, they are laying side by side right in front of my access door, facing the opposite wall.
Dwight thinks this is weird and recommends multiple perches. Since Dwight is practically giving a dozen eggs to every other person in the company, I will heed his advice. I don't expect the same success rate, but some success eventually would be nice.
I think the light is helping to get the girls up and at 'em pretty early. If nothing else, it looks cozy the way the soft glow emerges from the thin stand of trees. (Think Thomas Kincade (see below)- only less expensive and commercialized.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Its about that time

...That time of year when I say "Isn't it too early for these decorations?" But along with the question comes this statement: "Thank You very much whoever brought in the ooey gooey treat for the break room!"

Why is it that people tend to bake more in the fall and winter? Is it really the holidays? Maybe. I know why I do. I bake for several reasons.

1. Make the house smell good.
2. So I can eat/lick the dough/batter.
3. Heat the house with the leftover warmth from the oven.

This time of year though, I usually feel the need to make specific things. Every year around Halloween I get the urge to make my Grandma (pronounced Gramma) Churchill's peanut butter and chocolate fudge. That is what she made for Halloween so it just seems right. I have resisted this urge in recent years. Although, I did buy a piece while we were in Savannah. It was good, but it just wasn't the same.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, its the Pumpkin Roll that begs to be made. Grandma Churchill also made that.

My Grandma (also pronounced Gramma) Bitter, she makes the best Brown Bread. I've never tried to make it myself. But, she is coming to TN for Thanksgiving this year. So if she doesn't make it before she makes the trip, maybe I'll get to help her.

You know what would make these recipes really special? Fresh Eggs! Not that I have any.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don't you need a Rooster for that?


A lot of people that have inquired about the progress of my laying hens have asked this question.

A rooster is only necessary if you desire fertilized eggs.
Fertilized eggs being the kind that eventually hatch into little baby chicks.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Maybe my chickens aren't laying eggs because they are haunted by the spirits of the flock that once resided in the yard, or what makes me even more sad, the hen I lost earlier in the summer.

Aaron enjoys watching shows such as A Haunting and Paranormal State. He thinks they are interesting.  Me? I prefer programs like Mystery Diagnosis and I Survived.

Last night I watched at least 4 episodes of Paranormal State with him. I don't think I blinked or moved between commercial breaks. If I did move, it would have been to get a tighter grip on the blanket that was keeping me safe.

Surprisingly I was able to fall asleep without being wide-eyed with super sonic hearing. However, in the middle of the night I had to use the bathroom. Everything was ok until I crawled back in bed and saw a light coming from the hall. I whispered loudly, "Where is that light coming from?" kind of freaked out. Aaron grumbled back, "The bathroom."

Maybe there are some feathered spirits up there. Maybe that is why I was afraid to go in the coop for so long. Maybe I'll make Aaron go back there with me from now on.

I'm kidding. Or at least I was when I started writing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gardening with Lasagna

Aaron and I have toyed with the idea of cultivating a garden since we moved into our house. I think every spring we have a conversation resembling this:

A: "Hey, do you want to start a garden this year?"
L: "Yeah! We won't need many plants for just the two of us..."
A: "We can borrow a tiller from my Dad."
L: "Oh. We have to till."

and immediately my enthusiasm wanes.

One day this past spring while Aaron was out running for a long time I went ahead and planted seeds for 3 vegetables and a fruit.

Since I tend to be pretty lazy from time to time this "garden" was pretty pathetic looking. Instead of digging and tilling I just scraped 4 rows free of grass, dropped some seeds, shook some soil from the removed grass clumps, added some potting soil (because we had some), and watered it. Then it rained a lot. I didn't have to tend to it much.

Once in a while I pulled some weeds from the rows. And when the plants started to grow, I thinned them. Before the plants got too stalky, I risked the future of my epidermis retrieving wire fence from vines and poison ivy. (Don't judge. Its on the property line. It is hard to tell whose responsibility it is.)

It actually worked out pretty well. The little sections of wire fence were held up with stakes and as the plants got taller, they would follow the wire up and over.

The first vegetable I got was a cucumber. It was delicious. So was the second one. After that though, they started to turn a deep orange color. Either the zucchini never came in, or a critter got to it before I could. I may have picked one baby yellow squash, but we didn't eat it.

Since I started everything from seeds at the same time, the tomatoes seemed to take forever. I guess I should have planted them earlier. When they finally did come in, I was starting to lose interest. Tomatoes aren't really a hot item in our household anyway.

Still, I consider my first attempt at a vegetable garden a success.

This year I am trying a different method. An actual method. It is called Lasagna Gardening. My mom (who loves bookstores and fresh food) picked up a book for us to share.

Last weekend when we returned from vacation I started my bed of lasagna. I laid down a combination of newspaper (love the Metro Pulse) and cardboard, then raked piles of leaves on top of that. I've since added vegetable scraps and "used" bedding material from the coop.

By the spring I should have a nice loamy and fertilized spot to plant some seeds and try again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

12 Eggs

Dwight gave me a dozen farm fresh eggs this a.m. Pity eggs, but fresh none the less. I hope the title didn't fool you.

Although I wasn't the one being chased with a fishing net through briars, it seems like a long time since my birds have had a traumatic experience. I feel like they should be laying eggs now.

I was concerned about the amount of light they were getting until all of the leaves fell off the trees. That greatly increased the amount of light the ladies were seeing a day. I feel like they should be laying eggs now.

However, at this time of year there are less hours of daylight, so I am going to install a low wattage bulb on a timer to icrease the amount of light they get a day. I feel like they should be laying eggs now.

Yesterday I came across a tid bit about privacy playing a role in the comfort of a laying hen. I don't know how much I buy this since they poop anywhere, anytime, regardless of company. However, I will probably try to remodel the nesting boxes (that they never use) to allow for more privacy. I feel like they should be laying eggs now.

Usually I am happy just to see I have two chickens in the coop. Recently though, some coworkers have been inquiring. They feel like my hens should be laying eggs now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who Knew?

When I sign in to post an entry I have these other tabs I can go through too. Some of you may know how this works already. Some of you probably write your own code. I just pick my design settings from a menu. I like it that way.

The Monetize tab lures me in once in a while. I can allow adds that are pertinent to my blog show up and if my readers click on an add, I get paid. I am sure that is a gross over simplification. It looks like there could be contracts and legal jargon in there, so I usually get scared away from it.
Oh, the Stats tab. It is probably my favorite.
The Stats tab is a way for me to be vain without anyone knowing I am being vain - at least until now. I can check in to see if anybody has visited. If you can make out the sub options,  you can see that I can look at an Overview, Posts, Traffic Sources, and Audience.
  • Posts lets me see how many times a specific post has been viewed either Now, within this Day, Week, Month or All Time.
  • Traffic Sources provides information about what path a reader takes to get to me; for example a link from another blog, or email message, straight from the URL... Kinda creepy, but neat.
  • Audience is amazing. The day I came across this I racked my brain trying to think of who in the world I knew in Singapore or Slovenia. I quickly realized I don't know anybody there, but I hope they enjoyed their time at my blog. All right, well, I don't know anybody in Denmark either. The other countries seemed more plausible. Even if the Slovenians and Singaporeans didn't read anything and they happened upon it by accident, I am still flabbergasted. I am sure I have never accidentally stumbled upon an individual's blog from either one of those countries.
(I really feel like there should be an apostrophe there, but the spell check thinks otherwise. Doesn't possession warrant an apostrophe?!)

3 Dog Night

Myles (L) and Rosie (R) spent the night last night. And the night before. I don't know for sure if Charlie was overwhelmed, but Aaron and I were at times. I'd say we are pretty good at reading what Charlie is feeling. However, if ever presented with the chance to have a conversation with him,
 I have some questions:

1. Can you make a list of everything you ate today?

2. Is it time spent sniffing or quantity of sniffs for a smell to make it in your long term memory?

3. Do you ever lick me after you lick yourself as some sort of payback?

4. Honestly, are you still surprised by your own farts?

5. What is the hardest part of your day?

6. Do you think I am excited enough to see you when I get home? Or could I use a little more wag?

7. How frustrating is it to scratch your ear with your back foot?

8. Why are you afraid of the vacuum cleaner, but not the lawn mower?

9. What do you take into consideration when deciding whether to eat the poop or roll in it?

10. Do you know how good you have it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Aaron and I went on a vacation, and then a trip for his business and my pleasure.
We started in Savannah, GA (via one night in Atlanta - Thanks Aunt Karen and Uncle Rick).
And then went on to New Orleans, LA.

Number of Chickens upon departure from TN:   2
Number of Eggs ever produced before vacation:   0
Days away from home:   8
Miles travelled:     A lot
Cities visited:    2
Calories consumed:    9 million, 547 thousand, 392 and 87/100ths
Number of Chickens upon return home:   2
Traumatic events while away:   0 (Thanks, Mom!)
Number of Eggs produced while on vacation:   0
Number of Hours at work before I posted:   2

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Brothers In-Law

I have 4 brothers in-law.
Alan - Married to my sister, Melissa.

Eric - Brother of my husband, Aaron.  (Married to Olivia)

Nick - Married to my sister-in-law, Emily

Will - Married to my sister-in-law, Amanda

With the exception of Eric, I have at one point or another thought that Alan, Nick and Will each resemble a celebrity.  Eric, of course looks a lot like Aaron.

Once in a while Alan grins just so and reminds me of Toby Kieth.

Toby Keith - booking information
Photo Credit

Nick looks a little like Billy Corgan.
Photo Credit

And Will, he has a slight resemblance to Isaac Mizrahi.