Baby it’s hot outside

It has been running in the upper 90’s to low 100’s here the past few days, as it is in most of the rest of the country.  It is easy enough for us to stay inside in the cool a/c, but it is wreaking havoc on the poor animals that are outside.

Luckily, we have quite a few trees that produce good shade, and our house is set just right so the front yard gets shade all afternoon.  The animals take advantage of that and stay in front of the house most of the day or in the woods that is completely shaded.  The grass in front of the house has stayed nice, green and moist so it is easy on their feet compared to the dry crunchy grass and weeds everywhere else.

I also put ice in their water buckets a couple of times a day to keep their water cool, and I water down the ground and grass to help keep it cool.  The chickens like that, and they burrow down in the wet soil and it helps keep their body temperatures down.

The thing they seem to like the most, though, is the box fan I put on the front porch.  The cats and the chickens will sit in front of it to help keep cool when it is really hot in the middle of the day.  It’s really funny to see the cats and the chickens sitting next to each other, with the breeze blowing their fur and feathers all around.  haha

I have a pet carrier sitting on the porch for the kittens, and they like to lay between it and the house.  I started putting frozen bottles of water inside the carrier so that they can lean against the cold carrier.  They seem to really like that.  I can’t get their mama to lay against anything cool, though.  She prefers laying in the middle of the porch, no matter what.  Yesterday we let her into my husband’s air-conditioned shop (the kittens weren’t here, she had them off hidden somewhere) and she LOVED laying on the cool concrete.

As for the dogs, they have been staying inside almost all day long.  They only really go outside long enough to go pee and then they come back inside.  They are okay with that.  haha

What do you do to keep your outside pets and animals cool?  Do you have any tips for me?  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Our first chicken butcher

"Goose"

That is Goose.  We called him that b/c he had an identity crisis.  He honked like a goose instead of clucking like a chicken.  He was a stinker, though.  He was naughty and mean from the time we got him.  Lately, he had been picking on the younger chickens.

Today we butchered him.  It was the first chicken we have butchered.  My husband did the butchering and I watched.  He spent the past couple days reading up on how to do it, and how to do it humanely.  He found that the most humane way to do it is to knock the chicken out first by swinging them overhead and quickly hitting their head against a hard object.  It knocks them unconscious so they don’t feel their neck being cut or their head chopped off.

Before we did the deed, I petted him and we thanked him for the nutrition he would give us and said a prayer.  It happened quickly.  I wasn’t going to watch my husband kill him but at the last minute I decided to do it anyway.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  I was sad for the chicken, but I didn’t cry like I thought I would.  We didn’t let our son watch this time.  We did let him come over once the chicken was killed and when my husband was plucking it.

While my husband was inside finishing butchering the chicken, I stayed outside with our son and we inspected the chickens innards.  We talked about what each organ was and what it was used for.  We found out that bile is REALLY green and stinky, that a chicken’s trachea feels like a bendy straw, what a gizzard and testicles look like inside, and he got to see the inside of a heart and what an aorta looks like.  It was a good learning experience.

All in all, we ended up with 4lbs of meat from Goose.  The breasts together were almost a pound!  The meat looks awesome.  I can’t wait to try it.

We get to do this again soon because have two more birds to butcher this week.

14 Days of Beauty – Day Thirteen

This is my favorite of all the kittens.  I’ve been calling him Wilbur b/c he has a broken tail and it is curly like a pigs.  He is the spunkiest of all of them and is very friendly.  He didn’t have any reservations about us, he came right up and asked to be picked up on the first day they were here.

Hi Wilbur!

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni “hamburger helper”

Our family likes the taste of a couple of flavors of Hamburger Helper, but I’ve been trying to steer away from boxed meals so we only had them if I wasn’t up to cooking the planned meal or we needed a quick backup.  I looked online and found a recipe for both of the types that we like, and I attempted one of them tonight.  It turned out really good!  It tasted better than the boxed version, we got away from the preservatives and other nasty stuff, and it was CHEAP!

We added it up, and this recipe makes enough for two meals for us (or one dinner and a couple lunches).  In total this cost us $6.00, including the hamburger, milk, macaroni, and cheese (which we would have had to provide with the boxed version anyway), two cans of corn and watermelon as a side dish.  Not too shabby, huh??

Cheeseburger Macaroni

1lb ground beef
1 cup hot water
2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup large elbow macaroni
1 cup cheddar cheese

Sauce packet:
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Brown hamburger

Add water, milk, macaroni, and sauce packet.

Cover and simmer ~12 minutes (or until noodles are done), stirring occasionally, in last few minutes add cheese and cover again. (I forgot and added the cheese at the end, and it turned out just fine.)

Turn off heat and uncover.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Easy peasy.  The hardest part was measuring out all the spices.  haha

Just an FYI…seasoning is really taste specific, but I thought it was a bit bland at the end, so after adding the cheese I also added a pinch or two of more salt, and some more garlic salt (not sure how much exactly, I just shook it over a couple of times).  You may want to taste it before you serve it and adjust the seasoning to your personal tastes.

Oh boy…….

I knew our new friend Hazel had kittens out there somewhere, I just didn’t know where she was hiding them.  I figured she would bring them around once she felt comfortable enough.  Last night she showed up with two babies.  A little black and white boy, and a calico girl.  I thought, okay sure.  We can handle that.  We went to Sams today and got some food for them.  Yeeeaaaahhhh………….

Tonight I put my chickens away in my husband’s shop, and as I was coming out I saw Hazel prancing down our driveway….with seven (no I didn’t stutter, I said 7) kittens following behind her.  Wait, what??

It took them a long while to get brave enough to come onto the porch.  When they finally did, I realized that she has two litters with her.  The two from yesterday were older, and the ones she brought today are TEENY TINY little balls of fluff.  In all, she has two girls and five boys.  The older ones are pretty skittish, but the little ones are really friendly.  They love to be held and petted and crawl all over me when I sit on the ground.

So…I guess we have inherited seven kittens along with our new cat.  Does anyone want a kitten?  They are really cute!!  I’ll be trying to find homes for them once they get old enough, and hopefully be getting Hazel spayed.

Here are some pictures…  (Please ignore the water hose, I was lazy and left it out when I cleaned the chicken poop off the porch a couple of days ago.)

Hazel in front, kits behind her, far back left is one of the older kits

Hazel in front, older kits behind her, little kits to the right

Babies around the water bowl

The older calico, she is gorgeous but skittish

The girl (right) and one of the boys sleeping in the cat bed on the porch

One of the baby boys

The little girl. Size comparison with a standard water hose. Aren't they tiny??

Menu July 24-30

Sunday
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Bean and bacon soup

Monday
Tuna salad sandwiches
Watermelon

Tuesday
Cheeseburger macaroni
Corn
Watermelon

Wednesday
Bacon avocado wraps
Watermelon?

Thursday
Baby burritos

Friday
Hot Dogs
Chips
Salad

Saturday
Homemade Pizza
Salad

Guard spider, take two.

I took some better pictures of our guard spider tonight.  I think they turned out awesome, and you can actually see the web this time!  I’m going to try to get better pictures of its belly next time.  If you click on the pictures you can see them full size.

It was getting tired of all the paparazzi so it was running to hide, but I thought this showed the web really well.

14 Days of Beauty – Day Twelve

True love.  Walter thinks so, anyway.  Our “Little Green Clean Machine” carpet cleaner is his girlfriend.  He sleeps with the hose all the time, and we keep it out just for him.  If we put it away, he will sulk and mope around the house, whining and calling for it.  It is the funniest thing!  He is sleeping with it as I type this, in fact.  LOL! Definitely true love.

You can't beat a love between a cat and his hose.