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Chicken Coop Renovation

I decided I missed having chickens too much ever since the buff orpington hen showed up on our property a few weeks ago. I didnt see her for weeks and then she showed up on the south end of our place three weeks ago, roosting in a tree. Amazed that the hen was still alive with noone helping take care of her I went to catch her that night but could not find her again. The next night I looked for her with no luck. The third evening while I was out in the garden my neighbor's son showed up at their home. A few minutes later I heard the hen, he had caught her in a net and loaded her into his truck and left. I'm not sure what he did with her, but apparently she had been roosting under her deck uninvited and not welcome. My neighbor doesn't like any type of animals.

I knew if I decided to get chickens again I wanted orpingtons. Out of all the types of chickens we had before they were my favorite. What I didn't realize until recently was buffs are not the only color. There is white, black, blue, chocolate, lemon, splash and lavender.

Both my chicken coops needed repairs. I learned some important lessons the years I had kept them before. And so my research began. After figuring out solutions to some problems previously, my husband agreed and the work began.

We decided to renovate the small coop. The coop that had been used as a back drop for target practice. It had been dragged all the way out to the back edge of our property and needed to be brought up to our shop where the tools were accessible. Our trailer has an axle problem and cannot be used. So we leaned the coop over onto the pickup and my husband and son walked holding the other end while I drove to the shop. Yeah, it was a regular redneck moment here at 5 Moore Acres.

Here the coop is laying on it's side. This is the front.  The coop had a dirt floor. The opening where my husband is, was the pop door.

We put new 4x4 posts at all four corners and cut the bottom third off, to make a raised coop.  The hole is where the external nest box will go.  Before the nest boxes were inside and took up a lot of room. 

You can see where the original plywood has been riddles with bullet holes.  Most of the plywood was still in good shape and so I decided we needed to leave it on and nail siding up over it.  We did this for a couple reasons.  It will help insulate the coop as well as make it heavier and sturdier.  The new lumber will shrink bad and will leave cracks.  Some very large.  With the plywood on it will help cover up the cracks and be less drafty.

The studs for the new floor go in.

The new tin roof is on, the floor is in, the door is on and most of the front has been sided.

The pop door has been installed. Look at the window where the siding hasn't been cut out yet.   See how large the cracks in between the siding boards after just two days of being installed are!

This is the end with the door closed.

The end where the window has not been cut out yet.

The front, with pop door open and ramp installed.

The external nest box.  The lid lifts up to collect the eggs.

We still have some trim work to do to finish the coop as well as install the windows and the coop will be done.  Then we will start building the permanent run.  Although my lavender orpingtons don't seem to mind the temporary run.


Canned Stewed Tomatoes

These are the best stewed tomatoes I've ever tasted. (sorry grandma)  If you don't have enough tomatoes from your garden to can, the recipe can easily be scaled down for dinner tonight!

4 quarts chopped, peeled and cored tomatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons of salt

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook 10 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking.

Ladle hot tomatoes into hot jars.

Process pints 15 minutes/quarts 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner.

Yields approximately 7 pints/3 quarts.
The recipe with canning instructions can be found on Cooks.com.

Stewed tomatoes can be used in so many different ways, they are a great staple to have on the shelf any time of year, but will taste wonderful this winter!

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Garden still producing

The Contender Bush Beans are up!  The Roma II's are pushing up slowly.  If I can keep the bugs from eating them up, we may have beans.  Not sure what is eating on them.

The tomatoes are still blooming and setting fruit.  I think I may have won the battle against the last rush of hornworms.

I have tomatoes ready to pick and greens ones growing nicely with the milder weather.  These tomatoes are the Fourth of July tomatoes.  They will continue to produce until the first frost.  Very  nice tomato for salads and sandwiches.  They are not large, but great taste.

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Free Kindle Downloads for Homesteaders & Preppers

I wanted to share with you guys my favorite site that recommends FREE kindle ebooks for Homesteaders & Preppers.

Pam's Pride Recommendations posts recommendations daily.

Some books remain free for a lengthy time, others only for a few hours depending upon how many downloads it receives I'm sure.

Here are some I downloaded in the last few days:

Weekend Homesteader: August edition
Emergency Preparedness Made Simple
Rotation Cooking
Healthy Crockpot Meals That Keep You Feeling Full and Help You Loose Weight

The thing I love about Pam's site is she updates it daily and the free kindle books is all that she posts.

When visiting Pam's site if you check out earlier posts and find a book she has listed that you would like... BE SURE IT IS STILL FREE OF CHARGE. Most only stay FREE for a day or so. Otherwise, if you keep a credit card on file, you will be charged.

Don't have the Kindle? You can download the kindle application on your computer, iphone and many other cell phones for FREE from Amazon.com.

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Harvest time again

I've done a lot of weeding in the last week! Will they every quit? And don't forget the picking of the hookworms.....gross!

The okra is still blooming!

The garden salsa pepper has been the best growing pepper for us this year.  Hope to find them again next  year.  Hubby likes their flavor and amount of heat.  They are too hot for me!

Loaded with garden salsa peppers.

Jalapenos have done ok.  Nothing out of this world though.  I even grew three different varieties.

The tomatoes are still chugging along.  The bigger regular tomatoes are slowing down but the paste tomatoes seem to still be doing good as well as though 4th of July plants.

Need to get pickin!

A colander full of salsa and jalapeno peppers just picked. 

More okra, 2 cucumbers and a few jalapenos.

One of the jalapeno plants produced a few nice size jalapenos. 

Two garden salsa pepper plants produced a huge harvest of peppers this year.  They grew a nice size as well as quanity.

Small jalapenos.

And for the finale, 25 more pounds of tomatoes! 

I planted Contender bush beans yesterday, and will get the Roma II beans planted today.  I'm anxious to try the fall beans since everyone swears they are much better than beans planted in the spring.  What's your opinion? 

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I refuse to touch them...

They poop on you!  I found six of them on two of my tomatoe plants.  I thought I was done with them for the year... no such luck!

Saturday we took a trip north to Planters Seed Company.  The store is like stepping back into time.  All hard wood floors, that have to be over 100 years old.   The bulk garden seed is in wood drawers that cover one entire wall.  The majority (if not all) of the seed is heirloom.  AND they sell it year round, something that is not easy to find unless you order from a catalog. 

I wanted to get a fall planting of green beans planted and couldn't find any seed left in any of the nearby stores. 

I purchased three different heirloom varieties of green beans and some mammoth dill.  They have the coolest garden stick ruler on the counter free with a purchase.  It has a reference chart on how deep and spacing on planting your seeds.  The beans were $1.50 for a quarter pound.  That makes it $6 a pound, not cheap, but they are quality seeds.

They also carry spices.  I bought several, but pictured here are their meatloaf and poulty seasoning that I've heard a lot about.  I also picked up basil, ginger, and Bourbon Street Steak Rub.  Their spices are reasonably priced.  They carry anything you can imagine.

With all the seed and spices I spent $22.

The store carries bird feeders of all kinds, bird seed, teas, any type of flower pot you could ever want from teeny tiny to absolutely huge.  If you are ever in the Kansas City Area be sure to visit them. 

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Growing My Food Storage $5 A Week

Another week of growing my food storage with just $5. I'm always thinking of ideas to make it grow faster on a tight budget. If you have an idea or tip, be sure to share it.

I've canned several jars of salsa from produce grown from our garden. Love it when the food storage grows without having to spend my $5!

Last week I purchased 6 cans of corn from Dollar General.  The price is 3 cans for $2. This is a fair price but I'm watching for a rock bottom sale at one of the grocery stores because I know I can get it even cheaper than this, but needed to get some corn in the pantry. Our favorite canned vegetables are corn, green beans and carrots.  

Some of my family's other favorites that I purchase often are:

peanut butter
Ramen Noodles

This isn't all I buy, but I like to buy what we use the most of and are used to eating. I add other items but just not in large quantities such as applesauce (great for baking as well) beans, and crackers.

I need to get my storage organized and cleaned up so I can post a picture of my progress.

In the next couple of months when the weather is cooler I will be canning meats.

Have any of you been adding to your food storage?

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Making Salsa with my Kitchenaid Mixer

I've been busy making salsa. Lots of salsa. I ran out last winter in February. I hope I've made enough to last, but my husband will eat salsa everyday if he can get away with it.

This is my 3rd batch. I decided not to "can" it, meaning it was not water bathed. It went straight into the refridge. Two jars I'm giving away and I know they will be consumed immediately, and my husband will wolf down the remaining in our refridge. That saves a few more jars that I've already "canned" for later this winter.

This year is the first year I've used my KitchenAid Mixer. No more scorched fingers boiling tomatoes and skinning them. I love it!

Quite the contraption once set up! But I am in love with it!

That is all the seeds, cores and skins!

I need to count and see how many jars I have canned.  Plus we have already ate four!

My favorite antique jar!

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