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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Free Food for Chickens and Me

All for me; none for
 At the dinner, some people I have known of forever, gave me produce from their garden. Part of the bell pepper will go into the steak tomorrow. Their son was a friend of my son throughout school. I cannot remember meeting her, but she was a nurse who may not have been at all school and social functions.  However, she remembered me, just not my name. When I told her my name, she knew my son's name. We will have tomatoes with the steak tomorrow. (I talk about it below.)

Ugh, now I must snap beans!

I had not dumped the produce out until the picture. You cannot see how deep the beans or tomatoes are in this picture. I actually have more than a mess of beans, four bell peppers, and a quart of grape tomatoes. sigh  This is enough produce for a week.

free spiral cut tool
Can you see the stainless steel tool below the box?

demonstration scraps
 At my favorite store was a demonstration of a mandolin. The guy gave me the demonstration scraps. Apple, cabbage and tomatoes were hen food for me.

I had him scrape the onions and French-fry cut demonstrations into another bag. They look clean. If I were not going to heat them, I would not eat them. There is an on-sale round steak waiting, marinating for tomorrow. I will cook it in a cooking bag like a roast, along with the potato and onions. I'll add a bag of baby carrots gotten for $0.39. This will make six meals for less than $5. The meal will be fewer potatoes and more carrots.

eating demonstration scraps Thursday

I usually put their food in the pen just because I want them to learn to come and eat so I can trap them for the night. That way, there is a peaceful end to the day instead of my fretting, chasing and herding and sweating. However, I did not want to dump this is in the dirt today. I put it outside the pen, about 6 feet before I reached the pen. They were going nuts inside the pen and watching me dump the food.
However, no one remembered this. I opened the door and they all came flying out. When I went into the pen to collect an egg, they followed me back in, tripping me and generally impeding my progress. I had to walk all the way back to the food before they saw it! Then, they went crazy, eating and running. Well, the little two run away with food. Thelma and Louise just stay with the food and have no anxiety or fear.
gyro sandwiches
Yes, they looked like subs.
Tuesday night
These scraps were from the Tuesday lunch at a church. I gave the hens very little bread, mainly just turkey, ham, and roast beef with cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. You can see the tail of a little one bottom right. They run so fast with their food, it's impossible to get all four in one picture.
                                                                  Wednesday chicken food
                                                                     no picture


Obviously, I took no picture, but last night at the Wednesday night dinner, we had white rice with a hamburger patty and gravy on top and green beans on the side. The gravy was delicious, but I only ate half the rice or less. So, hens had the same thing for dinner, but I must not have taken a picture.
Between the two free meals for me, plus the produce at the top will feed me for a week. Besides, I have plenty of other on-sale produce that I have gotten with a price match. This feels good. I just need to find more free food for hens and me.
Your turn
Where do you get free food? Your own garden (okay, not exactly free), parents/friends, gleaning, scrounging?


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trembling Enchantment of Green

"He who keeps a garden still his Eden keeps."

Don't get me wrong. I never wear green. Nothing in my house is green--no walls or furnishings. Green of nature enthralls me every year as though I had never seen it before. As I grow older (almost 63 now) (edit: almost 68 now), it seems I appreciate it more....not sure why. The life I see in green is something Thoreau would appreciate. Nothing else seems to hold the peace and promise of green trees, foliage of yard plants, and the grass. Maybe it's just me. My St. Augustine grass has a depth to its green that is lacking in other grasses that I have observed. By no means have I experienced all the greens and grasses of the earth.

As I drove the back way from Huntsville, south to my home, avoiding the interstate, about 6:30 pm last Saturday, I was struck by the majesty of the land around me. There were few houses, a little mountain foothills  range, and absolute quiet. People must be at home eating, tending the last bit of their garden, or getting ready to go out on Saturday night, I thought. This road normally has many cars. Not so when I drove the 30+ miles home this evening.

Since I had the radio off, the drive seemed especially serene. From now on the radio will be off so the noise won't interfere with the green experience. Ordinarily, I could not see green for the cacophony of my favorite music (60s and easy listening).

I passed the old barn right beside the road with the little stand for selling produce. No one has sold produce there for the last 25 years. The old man died. His widow insisted on raising and selling gourds. Maybe that is produce. Her son raised gourds just for her and filled a 6' x 6' x 4' high lattice bin, made just for her and her gourds. The bin has a nice roof and overhang for shoppers and gourds to stay dry and shaded.

One summer day, I saw her, bent and walking slowly. She wore a faded, printed cotton house dress, topped by a faded apron. She had a bonnet on her head and old knee socks scrunched around her legs. For years there was never anyone at the stand. The one sighting of her and a later conversation with a very young, respectful relative were the only means of communication except for the locked money box in which to deposit money to pay for gourds. Laughing gently, the relative said the old woman had the only key and checked it regularly.

Now, there are only very old gourds in the bin. It does not look like they raise gourds any longer. The young relative had pointed them out to me, up on the hill near the woods. Did she die? I wonder. Everything was too quiet and green to stop and inquire.

Even the dogs seemed to honor the peace of the green afternoon, soon to be dusk. All their masters must have mowed the lawns because every lawn was freshly cut. The scene was not marred by a jarring note. Mowers were gone. No cars were in sight in the yards and few were on the road. Nature, even subdued by a lawnmower, seemed to be in charge. For one moment, I wondered if it were this quiet a hundred years ago. Home awaits me.

Late Spring has given us over a week of rain which seems to have added another dimension to the green world. As I stood in the backyard today, hanging clothes on the line, I was struck by the fact that I could see only green as I gazed round me. Only the clothes, the chicks and part of the back of my house broke the green spell. The sky was blue with clouds. The 6 foot back fence was obscured by scuppernong vines and wisteria. Even the trunks of the trees were gone, hidden by privets that reached up toward the branches of the hickory nut trees and bowed to the ground, touching the grass. The low-growing limbs of the tree hid my car and the house next door.

The diffuse, trembling green of Nature seemed at her best. Green must be female, tantalizing us each day to play with her, to interact. Green has many agendas and roles--nurturing, playing, birthing, tending, feeding, burying, cleaning, listening, hiding. Green is there to discover as I increasingly have the last few days.

It all seemed too perfect, punctuated by two bright petunia plants, rescued from brown doom at Lowe's. I nurtured them back to their green and pink state. The old-fashioned roses on the back fence have faded, and I won't cut the vines until I see hips. Maybe I will have hips.

For a moment, I felt as if I were in a secret garden, seeing nothing and hearing only the birds and chicks. Sometimes, it is hard to tell them apart just by listening.

I had no horizon, only walls of green on four sides and a blue ceiling. The house is there, but from where I stood, I could not really see it. The blaze of the sun, though blinding, kept me focused on the green. Weeds grown up over my rock garden hid even the heat of the rocks so nothing emanated. It was all green, just green.

This feeling comes over me every year. Today pulled all the green I feel from the depths of me. I never told anyone before.

"He who loves a garden still his Eden keeps."  (sign in my yard)
A. Bronson Alcott

(Written on June 22, 2009, ten days after I had no TV)

(Note: June 22, 2011: I still have no TV. I can tell the chicks (now hens) from the birds chirping in the trees. Neighbors cut lots of green privets and put up a fence which the wisteria is starting to cover again. I will be 65 (edit: will be 68) in two months. Today is the same green month and day as when I wrote this. )

Your turn
Does the green of nature touch you deeply? Does green, lush foilage renew you as it does me?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas in July

And, these were free
These have been something I have wanted for a long time--Olympic mittens. However, they were something like $40 on eBay, not in my price range at all. Then, I went to www.mycokerewards  and signed into my account. I could not believe my eyes. I could not believe my good luck. The mittens were offered for Coke points! They cost 160 points, but I only had 119 points or something like that. My hands were shaking. I broke out in a sweat because this was a "limited time offer." You know it could run out any minute.

I searched high and low for Coke caps and cardboard codes. I looked in my purse, in the seat cushions, and under my chair, the window sill, the counter, and in my car. I even dumped a 24-pack onto the sofa so I could get the Coke code off the box. Finally, I found enough for 170 points. Yay me! I had to calm down and enter them correctly the first time. Maybe the offer would end before I could get my points entered.

Success! I ordered and got the message that they would be on the way soon. These came in quickly, maybe two weeks. The weather was too warm, so I looked at them often without wearing them. It felt like Christmas Day. The tag on these has a price of $14....hmmm.

Then, there was last Thursday. The high temperature here was 68 degrees F. At night it was downright cold. How cold was it? It was so cold I pulled the wool blanket over me. That pressed the cold sheet onto my skin since I had a short summer nightgown on. So, I put the wool blanket next to my skin and the sheet over that...much better and cuddly. Yes, it felt like Christmas would be here soon. Thursday was the day I stumbled across the gloves I had set aside to show you all.

These would make a nice Christmas gift for my g-daughter. My daughter said she looses gloves all the time, even a nice pair I bought my daughter. So, I have a decision to make.

(Look at the tiny American flags. So cute)

Your turn
Are you getting things with Coke points? Do you ever get in your head you want some trivial thing and cannot shake the "want" you feel?  What was the low temp in your area last week? Oh, and tell me your general area along with the temperature.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Awww! Group Cuddle

all four in the box
Up until Saturday night I had only seen the little ones on the table on which this Rubbermaid box sits. Tonight, I went out to shut up their pen when it was barely light. All four hens came pouring from the box to eat the bit I brought. It is a sure bet they will want food at any time!

So, I went out at midnight to take a picture. Thelma was hanging out of the box and complaining. That's why you cannot see her head. Patsy Cline was moving around. I took six pictures and this is the best. You can see the little ones are relegated to the back of the box.

On Saturday the big ones were pecking the little young ones. Obviously, they put all disagreement behind them at bedtime.

Your turn
Do your chickens have times they peck and times they are friends? Or, do  any of your animals have a peace treaty for some times and all out war at other times?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Highly Recommended for Savings

Not perfect, but free TV
50+ mile range
Two years ago, I ordered UVerse TV from AT&T. I got the cheap rate at first, and then they extended that. Since last September it seems I have been getting ill, getting well, and then bcoming ill again. So, getting this done was difficult, especially without sufficient funds.

As you may know, I now have MagicJack for the home phone. I paid $39+ and will never pay another phone bill. In six month, I have to renew for a year. One At&T service was gone and I pay about $3/month for that. We went to WM and he used his cc to get MJ, and I handed him the cash.

I was on a roll. Exbf lent me $100 to buy this antenna. Actually, I had him use his credit card to assure I had I had no problem returning it.  He does not have tools, and really knows little about this kind of stuff. But, he finally got the antenna and mounting bracket assembled. Well, he did part of it one day and we decided it needed mounting outdoors. He had to wait until later as it was time for him to leave.

I am free of about $90 in monthly bills and can easily repay him over a few months.

I cannot get the station I want, Ch 13, WVTM in Birmingham. But, I have hopes. FOX is all I get besides church and stuff I never watch, 17 channels of junk. ugh.  However, exbf refuses to mount it where I can get more. I had him mount it on a pole to move around on the outside of the house. My house is not set squarely on the lot. He refuses to believe where West is. The sun was setting not perpendicular to the rear of the house, but off at one corner. So, he has it all wrong.

We had a loud fight. I told him he did not know what he was talking about. He told me the same thing. I have watched the sun track over my house here for 33 years. I know where the cardinal directions are better than he!  While he stood here, angry with me, I called AT&T and told them to disconnect the TV service. Sooo, I will never have to pay for that again.

However, I have plans to call and get some free, expert help! I know this antenna can work better than it does right now. If not, I am okay with the situation.

The customer service department for Clearstream said that Channel 13 was too far away, 35 miles. Nooo, it sits 200 ft or less from Channel 6, the channel I am now watching. Both are on top of Red Mountain, 35 miles from me. She said I had to buy a $100 extender or something. I don't think so. Every time that I reminded her the box said 50+ miles, she just ignored me.

Next week, I will have internet disconnected as soon as I get new service. I am in the process of making a list with prices and speed and mgb/sec. Or something...sigh.

That will leave cell service with AT&T. As soon as my contract runs out, I quit. However, AT&T told me to pack up their equipment and take it to UPS. I am going to tell them they delivered it and poor reception, so they can pick it up or I will charge them for storage. Do you think that will make them come get their own stuff?

My life feels freer now that I am saving money and don't have to deal with AT&T and their screwed up system where they don't get things right. AT&T, go sue me for talking about you! Remember that they cut off home and cell phone because they lost the check they cashed and removed money from my bank account.

I feel lighter and freer, sort of like when I paid off car and house in same month. MagicJack and Clearstream antenna go with me, so no connecting services ever again.

Your turn
Have you ever used Clearstream TV antenna? Does it work in rain and storms? Do feel a load off your shoulders when you get rid of a monthly bill?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let There Be Light (Incandescent)

added to the stash
No, I won't give up my incandescent bulbs. This makes 20 to add to the 68 (I think) that I bought earlier. I still know where there are more. At the rate I use 60 watt bulbs, I have enough to last for years. The guy said these were $0.38/bulb. That may not be right, but cost + tax was about $8.

CFL bulbs emit UV rays, so I say "No, thank you." to cancer. LED bulbs emit light that is too harsh. Plus, the bulbs are way too expensive yet. CFL are still fluorescent and cause me problems like all fluorescent bulbs do.

I have never heard of this brand, so I am trusting they will last.

The only bulbs I can use are 130V. Our electricity in this town is supposed to be delivered at 120V, but since the power company does not regulate it, sometimes there are surges that burn out 120V bulbs, sometimes weekly, often monthly. After an electrician told me to switch to 130V, I rarely blow a bulb, maybe once a year or less in each fixture.

There are only about ten bulbs in the house that I use for more than 3-15 minutes. So, the cost is negligible to me. Yes, I do know there are other costs to be counted other than my utility bill.

I do have a CFL spotlight outdoors. Spotlights only come in CFL! At this point, I am switching all my flashlights to LED. Plus, I have some LED tea light candles. When I sent my daughter a six pack of those, her daughter used one for the light on a train she made for school. So, there is no telling if she still has them in one place. sigh But, I don't really mind her using them for whatever she needs.

Yes, I know incandescent bulbs produce heat. In the winter that is a good thing in this house. In the summer, days have more hours of sunlight, so I am not using fixtures in an attempt to create light.

Your turn
Do you still use incandescent bulbs or have you switched to CFL or LED? Do your bulbs burn out too often? Have you tried using 130V bulbs to fix that problem? Does it worry you that CFL bulbs emit UV rays? Do you like melanoma?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Woodchuck, Other Animals, and Naked Ladies

Naked Ladies amongst the Nandina and Wisteria

I was sitting in the car finishing a conversation before I took the church dinner leftovers to the hens for their dinner and locked them up for the night. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it--a woodchuck. I suppose that is what it was. For several weeks I had seen something go under the side of the house in tall grass as I walked inside in the evening or at night. Now, I could see it in the front yard about 6:15, and I did not have time to get a picture. It sat up and a cat, Sophia, tried to catch it.

Still, I sat there talking. Something bumped my car hard enough to startle me. Then, I heard the plaintive voice of a cat. I opened the door to find Sophia sitting there, just looking at me.

Finally, I got out of the car, headed up the driveway and past the house with a plate of lasagna, salad, tomatoes, bread, and a bit of cake. I never call "Delilah" until I get to the back corner of the house.

As I rounded the corner to the back of the house, Thelma and Patsy Cline headed toward me at a dead run. The little ones were being chased and swatted by Sophia! That is not the cat I thought had eaten my little one. Quickly, I got them all in the pen, dumped food, and locked them up for the night.

The Naked Ladies/Surprise Lilies/Resurrection Lilies caught me by surprise. Yesterday, there were  buds. Today, these plus another dozen had bloomed. That is a coaxial cable hanging down, ready to affix the antenna to the house.

Sorry about the naked ladies, coffeypot.

Your turn
How would you dissuade a cat who wants to kill my little chickens? Aren't those delicate, beautiful blossoms?