Monday, December 30, 2013

Power Plucker Critique

We knew the inevitable day would come when we would butcher some of The Compound chickens.  In this instance, roosters.  We decided to deal with the trouble makers first, which were also the smaller roosters.

We purchased a "Power Plucker" with the hopes it would help pluck the feathers off of the birds easier and faster than by hand.  Watch the video and let me know what you think.

It really cut down on the time it took to process the birds.  From beginning to end, set up, boiling of water, and the actual processing of 6 birds, took us no more than an hour.  The others that have processed chickens before, thought it well worth the 30 bucks we paid.

I worked through the whole process, and yes it was gross, but not to the point where I could not participate.  We baked our chickens off and served them up.  They were not as tender as the store bought variety, the dark meat was darker and the breast meat was smaller/less.  Miss Izzy is a happy camper, eating the leftovers.  I don't think these smaller roosters were really meant to be eaten, as they are not considered dual purpose.  It was a learning experience for sure.

I figured there are enough videos online, showing the processing itself, that I wouldn't waste your time here.

The feathers were sure flying!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Three Little Pigs

Well, the girls are finally settling in with "little man", "stud", "studly" etc.  He didn't seem to be doing too well when he first came over, and the girls were not very happy.  They're now sleeping next to each other, and he's finally wiggling his tail.  Although his tail does not curl.  Is it true they're not healthy if their tail doesn't curl or is it an old wives tale?  He's better now that he's spent a week with us, eating well, and plenty of room to roam and tear up the yard. 

They won't be little much longer.  They are all putting on weight and looking really good.  They don't know how lucky they are, getting picked for The Compound family!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Git'er Done!

Well, the Moose and BJ, got'er done, this past weekend!  The hole for the container is totally dug out, and the gravel for the bottom has been put in place.  I'll tell you what, they worked their tail ends off!  Of course we had a heat wave, unlike the rest of the frozen U. S. of A, we were at 85 record setting degrees!  It couldn't be in the 70's when all the digging needs to be done.  Someone, somewhere has a great sense of humor.

Now, the ramp needs to be carved out to the hole, the entrance re-worked, along with the final layer of coating on the outside before it can be moved into place.   Inside structure will be completed once it's "in the hole". 

We are in count down mode at The Compound!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The Moose and I would like to wish all of our followers a very Merry, Blessed Christmas!  Thanks for tagging along.

Our canal, facing west.  Used a fish eye lense

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Drumstick Tree Update

A few months ago, I posted an article about the Drumstick tree.  Here's the link.;postID=4726194307558644526;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=21;src=postname

Just thought you might like to see how much they've grown.  I should have measured them when they went in the ground.   R started these from seed.

September 2013
December 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Container Update - More Digging!

We are in the home stretch on the hole for the container.  Since we've been busy with the hog yard, we haven't dedicated much time to the container project.  Well, that's about to change now that the hog yard is complete.

The Moose has been diligently digging the remainder of the hole.  An hour here, an hour there...  I have helped too, but lets face it girls, guys can shovel a heck of a lot more dirt that we can!  But it does add up.

We had a load of blacktop millings delivered and placed in and  near the hole this past week.  Our neighbor down the street has a dump truck, was working on a project and brought us a total of 3 loads.  One specifically for the container.  The rock will be leveled out in the hole, once it's done to create a barrier between the bottom of the container and the dirt/mud/clay (take your pick, it's all there).

Digging is no one's favorite job, and it's back breaking work.  But give us a few more weeks and we should be about ready to move the container to it's final resting place.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hog Yard

The guys at The Compound have been busy these past few weekends trying to get a hog yard built.  It had to be cleared, cleaned up and fenced in.  Throw in normal Saturday chores, and time adds up.

The two female hogs the boys caught really needed a larger area, and one that will grow with them, and hopefully the next generations.  Needless to say, this past Saturday was the day!  They were determined to finish this project and get the girls in their new space. 

The guys finished installing the electric fence wire, created a walking path around the entire yard, and set their water nipple system back up.

Now the funny part (I guess funny will depend on where you were when this happened).  Since I had to help, there are no photos, so you'll just have to imagine how it took place.

R, decided he was going to wrangle a hog by himself.  Not sure how he expected to carry it over to the new yard, but wrangle he did.  Then he passed her off to BJ, who carried her by the back leg and an ear!  I don't live in this world, but I was told it's a good way to control their wiggling.  The girls have put on a few pounds in the past few weeks and she was no light weight.  But when BJ picked her up, and another person who will remain nameless, wasn't paying attention the other girl escaped through a small opening in the gate.  It was off to the races at The Compound!

Just imagine, the only one in the room with any experience handling hogs was BJ and his hands were busy.  We tried calling to her calmly, and Patrick actually did a good job of getting her towards the new yard, but when she realized she was going to be cornered she was having no part of it. Back off to the races.  They are quick and wily!

Now, she didn't want to run off and be free. Hogs are one of the quickest animals to domesticate, and she was content to stay near her sister and near her source of food.  She just didn't want any part of what we wanted.  She wanted to rut up the yard.  She decided it was OK to play with our watchdog Hunter.  Now this is a dog that would eat your arm off, but he was OK playing with the hog.  Obviously the name Hunter is not synonymous with his duties.

I bet it took 15-20 minutes to finally get her to a point where they could grab her.  And if you must know, it's because of my quick thinking!  I used an old screen door to block off an area she kept coming into.   She tried to break through the screen, and it was just enough for BJ and Patrick to get ahold of her.

Now both girls are in their new yard, and one of the first things they did, after realizing the fence is electrified (poor girls) is head to the mud bog.  Yes, we even planned their space to have a mud bog!

It only took them an hour or so to realize that life on this side of the fence wouldn't be just too bad.

How long before this yard looks like a rutted up mess?  One final note;  hogs really like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, December 6, 2013

5 Acres and a Dream - Book

If you get a chance, please stop by Leigh at 5 Acres and read all about her new book!  What a great milestone!  While you're there, sign up for the drawing to win a free one!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pigs Pen Update

OK, no photos this post.  I had to run home in the middle of the day, and by the time I got back it was already turning dark.

But, the guys did get the area where the back fence for the pigs will go, cleared out and ready for this coming weekend.  So we should see huge progress on the fencing by my next post.

In the meantime, we stopped by what is now my favorite store;  Tractor Supply and picked up the materials for the electric fencing and feed.  We had a 10% off coupon for the store, and that saved us some.  The electric fence will be installed along the bottom of the enclosure, to insure they stay in and the coyotes out!  Yes, they've been heard in the distance.  So far, they've not come too near.

We also have a black bear and her cub in the area, recently seen by our neighbor.  Which means there's a papa bear there somewhere!  I'll tell you what, I've been a city girl my whole life.  I think I'm making great strides to "country up", but the addition of all this wildlife is going a bit fast for my taste.  I always keep my eyes on the ground for snakes, especially since Miss Izzy's episode a year ago.  Now I have to keep my ears and eyes open for coyotes and bears too!

That's life in the country I guess..

If I don't post again before the Thanksgiving holiday, please have a blessed day.  Stay safe and thanks for following along.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Humor Me, Another Post About my Chickens!

I have family that is sick and tired of hearing me talk about my chickens.  I 've even been told "I don't want to hear about your damn chickens!"   It's funny/strange how comments like that come from family, but one of the first questions I get asked by my dearest and closest friends is "how are your chickens?"  They understand and appreciate what they mean to us.  They ask to see photos, and take the time to stop by The Compound.

We have over 60 of them now, and do have plans to downsize shortly, as we have a group of roosters taking up too much space and always fighting.  We just need to find the time.  I will likely post about that event too.  It will be a bit dramatic for me, but I'm not the squeamish type, nor will it bother me to serve them for Sunday dinner. 

But that doesn't take away from the sheer joy they bring us each week.  There is nothing better than showing up at The Compound and they're all gathered at the gate waiting to be let out.  Or running me down when it's snack time! 

They're a noisy bunch, but boy do they bring us joy.  So here are some recent photos of The Compound flock.  I know I'll keep posting about these "damn chickens", so you'll just have to humor me!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Say Hello to My Little Friends

OK, couldn't pass on using the Scarface reference for the title of this post.

We caught two 30-35lb wild hogs in our trap recently.  By we, I mean the boys BJ, Donnie and Patrick actually did the heavy lifting.  Both hogs are female, and a bit on the surly side! 

They are finally picking up the fact that yes, those two legged animals will feed me!  At first they had no idea what they were getting, they are so used to foraging and food in a container was a totally new concept.  Feeding them hog feed and table scraps will go a long way in getting rid of the wild or gamey taste wild hogs are known for.  I'll get some new photos this weekend, they are getting  Buddha bellies!

They are being housed in what was our original hog trap, until we can finish building them a roomier abode.

The Moose stopped by our local Tractor Supply store and picked up a watering nipple.  After it was installed, he got their attention, pushed on the lever and had water run out.  That's all it took.  They are already using it.  Hogs are very smart, you think they aren't watching, but they are....  Show them something once or twice, and they'll learn from it.

The guys spent most of this past Saturday clearing out a large section for them.  Some sun, some shade, high and low ground areas. 

We all believe, that even though they'll end up as food, we are their stewards until that time.  They should be properly cared for.  Plans are to raise them out, butcher one and keep the other to continue with future generations.  Now, we'll need a smoke house!  Any suggestions?  This is just so much fun!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Container Update - sealing the outside

We have been busy at The Compound working on the container.  Getting it prepared to be lowered in the ground, or at least as low as we can go due to the water level in this area of central FL.  One of the issues we needed to address was protecting the container itself, especially since it will be buried.  We'd like it to last as long as possible, and adding layers should help.

We are using this roll-on sticky goop, as well as a roof flashing sealer and "rubber in a can" (you read that right, it really does work!) for around each of the bolt holes to keep water out.  All of them expand and contract with heat and cold, and keep water out.  Exactly what we need.

We spent the better part of the day painting two-thirds of the container with it's first coat.  The second coat will likely go on this next weekend.  The remaining third and roof will be done after it's in the hole.  It'll be easier to reach the other areas without hauling a ladder around.

Since we're all getting anxious, and realizing we're pretty close to moving the container into it's final resting place, the Moose and the Boys decided to work on digging out the remaining dirt in the hole.  It's not easy work, that's for sure, but none of them are afraid of picking up a shovel and getting it done!  That's what I love about our group, we all get dirt under our nails!

The walk in cooler is all cut to size and in place.  There are some final connections to be made, and then installation of the refrigeration itself.  It along with the inside of the container will be painted.  It would surely function just as it is, but since it's ours we'd like it to feel a bit more home-like.  Just because The Compound is rough and wild, doesn't mean everything on it, needs to be.

More to come...

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm Here, Really

I've gotten a phone call or two wondering if we're OK, since I haven't posted in a couple of weeks.  All's well, we're just busy finishing up some projects on the home front.  Nothing important to add yet, but soon regarding the progress on the container.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicken Treat Idea

With more and more chickens taking up residence at The Compound, we've had to find creative ways to give them treats.  Why have them if you won't give them treats!  Our chickens absolutely love treat time!  One of the recent go to favorites has been cooked rice.  It's easy to make, easy to store and goes a long way for your budget.

We throw in some shredded carrot, peas/split peas, and then freeze it in blocks.  On the hot days they really enjoy picking at the block, and the carrot and peas make it a bit of a game.   Chickens get bored easily, and when they're bored they'll pick on each other just for fun.  So give them something to do.  They take turns working almost all day on a block of veggies and rice.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Repurposed - Potting Table

This potting table was put together by Patrick, this past week.  The materials came from a scrap pile of materials he had picked up from a company that gives away free skids and packing material. Throw in some other materials from work, etc. and out came his idea for a potting table.

I had shared a picture of a table for sale on Craigslist for $85.00, with him.  It's nothing more than skids put together.  Functional and a good way to repurpose materials but from our point of view, not worth $85.00. 

Patrick's already getting orders for other tables we need around the place!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Waterfront Property

We got up this past Saturday, even before the rooster crows and reviewed the days plans for The Compound.  Always so many ambitious ideas!  It's been bothering me for some time that the garden looks like a jungle you'd find in the Amazon, the only way through is with a machete.

Our local big box hardware store had a walk behind wheeled trimmer on their clearance rack for over a month now.  We've walked by it several times, without much thought.  It was marked down about 35% and I had the Moose put on his negotiating cap and ask for more discount.  We figured it was there for sometime, and what was there to lose?  He worked his magic and got another $50 off!  Now the trimmer was nearly 50% off, my kind of bargain.

We had plans to get started on the garden, sections at a time.  However, as with most things, that never happened.  In less than 15 minutes after our arrival the guys had the trimmer unboxed, oiled, gassed and fired up!  What began as a "lets try it out on that section by the canal and see how it works", became, lets clean up the entire edge along the canal...

What was this:

Became this:

Now it actually looks like waterfront property.  Well worth the effort, and moving forward will be much easier to maintain.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

26 years ago...

It was 26 years ago today I married the man of my dreams!  I have been truly blessed. 

Now I'm off to make one of his most favorite things in the world, roll-out sugar cookies!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There are Good People Left in the World

I'd have to say, I've had my doubts over the years of whether or not there were any good people left in this world.  Just drive down the road and get cut off.  Visit a Walmart where any common sense and manners do not exist.    I'm sure you get my meaning. 

But God has decided over the past year or so, to bring really great people into our lives.  We have a wonderful group of people working with us at The Compound.  It's great knowing you have like-minded people in your corner.

I haven't however given as much credit to those out in the blogosphere world that don't live nearby, but are never far away.  We have a new follower;  Pioneer Preppy.  Thanks for tagging along.  We truly appreciate the time each of you take to visit this blog, and leave comments that inspire and energize us to continue down our path.

I would like to post a special note to Oklahoma Transient.  She took it upon herself to offer some heirloom Sweet Chocolate Pepper seeds and then, at her time and expense, mail them out.  I got my bag of seeds last week.  We look forward to trying them out. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pig Roast at The Compound

I was party time at The Compound this past Saturday.  Well, party as much as a bunch of us “old timers” can party.  We had a few normal chores to take care of, but the day was devoted to kicking back.

R&B purchased a pig roaster, so we gave that a whirl this weekend, and between Ron and James (Chef and Sous Chef) the roasted pig was tasty!  We followed that up with black beans and rice, corn fritters, mango bread and mojitos to keep the Cuban theme going.

Here are a few videos;


The La Caja China Roasting Box(#2) was impressive, and even had the instructions on the side of the box, so you never leave home without them. 

One thing this group does well, is prepare and eat food!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sharpening Garden Tools

O.K., call me a greenhorn when it comes to gardening.  I can live with that title.  I don’t, however believe I’m the only one!  Most of us have lived a charmed life in or near the big city.  Food just naturally appeared in the local market, all cut up frozen or canned, just waiting for me to plunk down our hard earned money to feed the family.

Later we started reading articles on GMO’s, the economy etc. and decided we’d rather grow our own.  We don’t always succeed, and most probably don’t at the beginning.  Let’s not forget, our grandparents gardened, canned and raised their own food as part of their existence.  It was a normal or a natural set of events in life.  Not so for my generation.

I’ve seen gardening done before, watched it on TV but never really grew anything on my own.  Frankly, I’ve lived in the city, with limited space, and even less of a desire until the past few years. 

It is not easy, and if you skip even a week of weeding, they’ve taken over!  We’ve seen our share of ups and downs at The Compound, but each time we learn something new.  

There are many lessons to learn.  One of them includes how to care for the tools needed for gardening.

I came upon a pair of my sheers, laying out on the ground in the elements.  They were a new pair about a year ago, now they look like their 10 years old.  Surface rust is not a pretty thing, and needs to be taken care of in order to extend the life of all our tools.

I did what anyone would do, I searched the internet.  First of all, who would I ask that would know?  Better yet, I’m tired of embarrassing myself asking these types of questions and getting the “how do you not know” look.  So internet hunting I went.

Here are some of the links I found most useful.   It will be one of my priorities at The Compound in the coming weeks.  Sharpen what can be sharpened, clean what can be cleaned, and shellac what can be shellacked.  Sounds like fun doesn’t it?!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Natural rearing versus incubator/hand rearing

We've finally integrated ALL of our chickens (except for the three older roosters), into the main coop.  That includes the two chicks that were reared naturally by Miss Connie.

This means they all have access to free ranging, but they almost always stay near the coop and run area.  All of them except for these two;

The two that were naturally raised.  They spent the better part of the day hanging out with the group of us, working on the container.  The others stayed close to coop, or in the coop itself.  These two were duly rewarded for their companionship with some rice and bread crusts. 

They by far seem the most well adjusted.  I don't understand why, they've had very little handling or interaction with us, except for the normal feeding and watering.  It will be very interesting to see how they progress.

It does say something for natural rearing. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Retrofitting a Walk in Cooler - Container Update

The Moose and I headed to The Compound yesterday to find progress done on the container.  The group, continued the work on the inside, added an additional arch, and finished securing the side uprights with bolts.  Adding the bolts took some time, as the holes had to be drilled, then drilled bigger, and then bigger yet to accommodate the size bolts we wanted to use.

Thanks to the Group!  I prefer to use the term group, rather than team.  I'm am so over the word team!  How over used and over rated.  There's no I in team and no We either!  I've rarely been part of a "team" that actually got anything accomplished.
The Boys reworking a cooler panel. 
If you couldn't tell, their twins!
Now on to this past Saturday.  Work on the container continued, this time however we were ready to begin the install of a walk in cooler.  Yep, you read that right!  As with all of our projects, they are works in progress, and this was added to our list of must haves a couple of months ago.   The Moose found a used walk in box, and we are working to retrofit the cooler into the back of the container.  It will be run off of a generator, and once installed we'll be able to use the solar panel/battery system as well.

Front set of panels in, including the door frame.
This opens up so many options for us, especially for hanging meat from hogs, deer and gators. The walk in box, needs to be cleaned up a bit, and cut to fit in the space we have.  A normal box of this size approx. 8' x 6' would run between $6 and $7K.  We picked up this not so beautiful one, including the refrigeration for $400.00.  Then what's even more amazing, one of our group's family members installs and repairs refrigeration units for a living, and can help us get it installed too! 
The side, back and ceiling panels still need to be installed, and we'll be tiling the floor.  It will be one of the snazziest tiled floors around as it will have travertine tile (leftovers from our home project).  It along with the interior will be painted.   One step at a time...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Help Get LoLa on TV

Dear Followers,

I am requesting your help, as I think the opportunity for us in the blogosphere, that believe in the humane treatment of farm animals (specifically chickens in this case), have an opportunity to help "LoLa" appear in a free Super Bowl Ad.

You can see the video in the link below, and then click on the yellow "vote" button.  They've made it to the second round!  Please re-blog if you can and help this go viral.  It's a great opportunity to spread the message.

Monday, September 30, 2013


The Moose and I took a short hiatus from typical life and headed to Ellijay, GA to spend a long weekend with family.  Family travelled from Wisconsin to join us, Matt, Steve, Dort and Samantha and we along with my Mom, Padre', Daughters #1 and #2, and Kevin had a great time!   Just couldn’t get enough of that little girl, Sammie!
Panoramic view from the back porch of the cabin

We spent some time at the Amicalola Falls, the highest falls in the Southeastern US.  Daughters #1, #2, Padre’ and Kevin (daughter #2’s other half), climbed the 425 steps to reach the top.  The rest of us chose to drive up the 25% grade road and view it from the top, without all the effort.

view from the top of the falls
near the reflecting pool at the base of the falls

view from the reflecting pool to the top of the falls
On our way back, we stopped off at a huge pumpkin patch.  It was amazing at the number of pumpkins! 

On our final day together we headed over to an apple festival, picked apples, watched a pig race and the best part of the day was watching Sammie in the petting zoo.  Every kid should pet a goat once in their life.  She was a girl after my own heart, she was most amazed with the chickens!


Typical family gathering, lots of laughs and too much food!  Now we’re both back to reality, but so very thankful we had the opportunity to visit with family.
Thanks to our dear friends for taking care of things at The Compound while we were gone.