Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Giving Thanks Project

On November 1st, All Saints Day (and the 40th birthday of my beloved son Jeff!) I am joining Leah at South Breeze Farm for the 2010 Giving Thanks Challenge.  Bloggers across the country will be listing a daily thing for which they would like to give thanks... something MDH and I try to do regularly.  My first grateful thought is for Jeffrey, who though he lives 50 miles away, is daily in my heart.  He is an independent, hardworking single man, who is content with his lot in life, and I couldn't be happier about him.  Thanks for Jeff!
Jeff and me, circa 1974
How about them slacks????

Happy Halloween!

We planned a small Halloween party here at Calamity Acres, but it turned out our grands had to be at another party during the evening, so they came early while still light.  Mom and Dad dressed up too, and we all had a good time taking pictures and visiting.  I had fixed barbecued meatballs, chips and dip, and some delicious gorp as well as decorated sugar cookies and tiny cupcakes.  While the scare factor was missing, the cute factor was in full swing. 

A motley crew indeed.

Dear daughter-in-law Amy and youngest grandson Jax.
Swashbuckling son Jim.

Jax and Paiton, our two littlest grands.

Beautiful sister Madison, Paiton and Lilly Ann.

Your intrepid blogger, as an apple with a worm in it.
Abby just wanted to sleep after all the excitement.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wild Things

Pardon the blurry camera work, I had to run out to catch them before they stopped.   The cooler temperatures are doing wonders for two llamas I know!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chrismas is a Cummin' In

With nods to the old song, Christmas is indeed a cummin' in. 

Last week on the morning of the haunted tour day, friend Bernie and I went to the yearly Junior League Christmas shopping event, along with about 5,000 other ladies and 4 men. 

As I love Christmas decorations, I was eager to see this year's trends.  I found there to be liberal use of Lime Green.  Now, I like Lime Green, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to Christmas, I'm a purist.... forest is "Christmas Green" to me. 

There were wreaths large and small, and many featured the tulle so vibrantly  colored LIME GREEN in this picture.  In fact, Bernie went back to buy some tulle to fashion some large bows of her own.

There were booths displaying many lovely Christmas gifts.

And couture from western....

to Steampunk....

But the things I loved the best were the booth of Texans who took your broken, beautiful old dishes like the flow blue above, and made them into beautiful, wearable jewelry to use and hand down.

Gorgeous red transferware, in silver settings.

Friend Bernie, trying on rings.

This lovely idea, displayed so beautifully, can be pursued at, and tell them you saw them at Calamity Acres!

They were making a list and CHECKING IT TWICE!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another New Garden Bed

Wednesday night, to work off some worry and anxiety, I decided to finally plant the bulbs I had bought a month ago.  A selection of tulips, crocus, hyacinths and narcissus, I had put off intermingling them with the plants in the "new" spring garden bed that we made this year.  At the end of last week, Keith had made two more equally nice "lasagna" beds, and now we have four, and a fifth started.  As it takes time to layer them properly, we planted only the two on the north end.  On one side are iris that I separated a week ago, and on the other side of the same bed, some plain hostas given me by a friend, since this bed is in the shade of the big maple.  Between these I put most of the bulbs I bought for a spring display.  Others I did interplant with the flowers in the bed from this spring.  I still have narcissus to plant in that bed but I want to tuck them in amongst the other plants.  I used bone meal to line each hole before setting in the bulbs.  At one end of the bed I stuck a tomato plant that had volunteered in the compost heap, but transplanting now probably killed it.  It will be an interesting experiment to see if it flowers before we get a                        

And the tomato plant.... it would be fun to see it thrive, but it is far too late for it....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Butter

On Sunday afternoons, after church and breakfast, I sometimes like to take a busman's holiday and search out new blogs to read.  A few weeks ago I stumbled across Autumn Living, and found the most wonderful recipe for Crock Pot Apple Butter posted.  I filed it away in memory for a few weeks, and decided this weekend to try it out.  I can attest that it is the simplest "canning receit" I have ever read.... made in the crockpot, and put into jars heated in the oven.  It is delicious and has the most beautiful color.  We are going to make more over the next few weeks, and try different varieties of apples as an experiment.  The ones used this weekend were Granny Smiths.  I highly recommend it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Engaging Mural

On the side of the Ratliffe Drugstore in downtown Tonganoxie is this beautiful mural.  The painter's name has worn off, if it was there.  It depicts Tonganoxie as it was years ago.... and is still very vibrant and alive.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Visit to a Pumpkin Patch

It was kind of a sad pumpkin patch, at a farm that had clearly seen better days.  We paid 12.00 to go through a "corn maze" that turned out to be a meandering patch cut through weeds, that ended in a farm road that we simply walked along until we returned to the farmstead.  We felt sorry for the animals in their soggy pens, and for the cheerful family who was trying to make a few dollars on fall weekends.  Nathan and his mom really liked the little donkey and calf tied out for people to pet, though his mom felt badly when told the calf's fate after the balmy October weekends.

I enjoy looking at old farm buildings, but these saddened me.

The buildings were in a cluster behind the house. This outhouse was a "fur piece" from the house, and I envisioned walking to it on cold days, or in the rain!

The barns were sad, too.

I have such barn envy, it hurts to see barns that have gone to rack and ruin. 

How I Spent Friday Night

Let's just say I had FUN.

After having taken the entire day off to attend a Christmas shopping event in the morning, I spent the evening with friends, sisters, Theresa and Veronica.  We went to the Fort Leavenworth Haunted House Tour, that is held to raise money for the Frontier Army Museum on post.  We had the best time, and the weather was perfect, cloudy with a chance of rain, but the moon peeking through from time to time.

First, we ate at the old Disciplinary Barracks.  This is the front portion of the old "Castle" prison, the home of the worst lawbreakers in the armed forces. Part of it has been turned into the "12th Brick Grille" (every twelfth brick had the USDB initials on it). 

We had great sandwiches and drinks.

The front of the building is forbidding, and I am sure it struck fear into the hearts of those men who had erred and were sent to it.

After we ate, we strolled around for a while. Theresa and Veronica had never been into the military installation very far, and were very interested in the beautiful old quarters in the oldest part of the post.

Tom Custer, brother of General George, died with him, their brother Boston, and two of their relatives at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Many famous soldiers have lived on post, and they are commemorated in the older quarters with their names on brass plaques in the doorways.  During April there is usually a tour of the quarters to benefit the museum, and you can walk where the famous have slept.

Tom Custer is a two time Medal of Honor recipient, and lies in the National Cemetary at the post.

At dark, we gathered for check in at the park

Theresa (left) and Veronica (right) applied their wrist bands.

We began our tour along with 20 other souls.

At each stop, a volunteer told us ghost stories about the hauntings of that particular quarters.
At this one, we were allowed to go in, as it was unoccupied at the time.

The startled looks reflect a door that slammed as the docent was telling stories of what had happened in the quarters. You see the beautiful staircase behind us, the old quarters are stunning.

While we stood in front of this quarters, we noticed movement at the quarters directly to our right. The Rookery is the oldest lived-in quarters on post.  It is believed to be haunted, and many things have been seen and heard there.  The current occupants are getting ready to move, as the soldier is retiring. While we saw the basement, we did not get to go upstairs.  On the porch, something was moving, and red eyes were glowing.  We kept getting distracted while this docent told stories.  After she finished (and as it started to rain), we walked over to see what it had been.
I am telling you it MOVED.  It is an motion-activated pirate skeleton from Michael's (?) but while we stood next door, there was no one on the porch and IT MOVED AND THE EYES GLOWED RED.
I took a picture but it was so very dark, all you can see are two little red dots.  It was creepy!

This is how it looked from the house next door, you can barely see the eyes glowing red in the doorway.  I am TELLING YOU IT MOVED!!!!  No one was on the porch! 
(double-click on the picture to enlargen and see the EYES)

Our final stop was back at the Disciplinary Barracks, where this soldier told us about how life at the prison had been at the turn of the last century.  It was most interestingly done in an Irish accent, and we all enjoyed it. 
The rain started as we walked the two blocks to the cars... and I took one last shot as the moon began to go behind the clouds for good.

Happy October!

Mamas At Work

Rosewitha, Silka, and Flicka are all taking good care of the ten new chicks.  Chick twelve was born but did not make it, another fully formed, but was probably not warmed and died of exhaustion.  Chick Thirteen never hatched, and the egg went out today.  All seem to be vigorous, even the two that I had my doubts about.  The mamas cluck to them constantly, and the chicks ebb and flow around their skirts as they search the bedding of the little henhouse. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Preparations

When my two boys were little, we always decorated elaborately for the holidays.  I grew up with a loving mother and father, but neither were "into" decorating the house.  Each year Mother left it to Daddy and my sister and me to find and decorate a tree.  I still have one bulb from that time, plastic, with a wire hanger, to remind me of our searches for the right tree, getting it leveled in the stand, and winding the lights on it.  We always used tinsel, because then we were not allowed to have a pet in the house.  Now, we don't use it, for fear that it would hurt the dogs and cats.  My sister hung the tinsel carefully, branch by branch... while I hurled it at the tree to get it on quickly!  My mother confessed years later that she was depressed each holiday, and hated dealing with it.  In her apartment she had one rocking horse ornament to remind her of Christmas, which she kept in her heart.  I have many happy pictures of her celebrating with us at the original Calamity Acres. 

Halloween was one of our favorites when my own children were small.  Each year the house would be dressed, and even though we went out trick or treating, we wanted our house to look special.  I still decorate for the grandkids and this year we will have a small party to take pictures and enjoy the children, playing simple games and making a treat for them to take home to their parents.  I have already started decorating, and Keith and I will wear costumes to get into the "spirit" of the season. 

He flickers! 
Bought at Santa Cali Gon in Independence, on Labor Day weekend.

The top of the sideboard.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


In the middle of one of the new beds that Keith has made for our garden, are growing volunteers from the compost heap.  There are four pumpkin vines starting, and two have actually begun growing well.  The mild weather we have had in the last few weeks has fostered their growth, but I fear that the next week will prove fatal to them, as we are expecting temps to fall after the next few days.  Until then, the pumpkins will grow merrily on.  This year we planted pumpkins but they did not do well, unlike five years ago when we had a bumper crop!  I wish we could see these come to fruition!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spoiler Alert - Don't Look at this If You Have a Weak Stomach

This is chick number 11.  Born sometime Monday afternoon, it was not even dry by the time I got home at 5:10 PM.  I found it near the back pophole, so someone, probably one of the five month old chicks in the little henhouse "helped" it from the original nest to the area of the pophole.  My guess is, even though it shows no wounds, it was jostled around enough that after pecking it's way out of the egg shell, it was exhausted and couldn't take the rough treatment, because chick 9 survived it's trip out to the porch while still wet on Saturday.  The small thing above it is the almost-dried yolk sac that was still attached.  It hurts me to see a viable chick, which deserved to live, gone almost before it drew it's only breaths.  It is perfect in it's form, and will never have a chance to become part of the flock. Thus does Nature take it's way.

There are two more eggs in the original nest spot, but the mamas are no longer setting them, and I doubt if they will hatch now.  I am going to give them two more days, but exposed as they are, I don't think any chicks hatching from them will have a chance, as this one did not. 

Sometimes you have to suck it up in the country.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Make a Wonderful Cake

Okay, people.  My husband waited 7 and 1/2 years to tell me he did NOT like iced cake!  After wondering countless times why my cakes were never eaten... except by chickens.... I finally asked.  So I made a mix cake, for speed's sake, since I had to be several places in the afternoon and wanted a decent dessert. 

Decadent is right... it has caramel running through it.  I did NOT put a topping on it, but made it in a bundt pan.
I mixed it by hand, does that count?

Hot out of the oven.

Mmmmmm crusty on the outside, but creamy in the middle.  Half gone by bedtime! Thank you Duncan Hines!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Sunday Birthday Party

My friend Theresa's sister Tina threw a 50th birthday party for her today, three days before her 51st birthday!  Since she let the big occaision pass last year without a huge celebration, she decided now to have a "This is your Life" party for her sister.  We gathered in another of the old buildings in downtown Tonganoxie, this time, the Ratliffe Drug Store. (available for rental, but does not have bathrooms!)

It has many old things in it, sort of like a museum piece.

The soda fountain is still there, and allegedly still operational.

Birthday girl Theresa, left, being congratulated by friend Jody.

An ad on an old cabinet.  Okay, we're talking conservative Tongie here, folks.  A condom ad in the old drugstore?????  And a little Redi-Kilowatt guy to advertise them????  Things must have been livelier around here 40 years ago!

A Tiny Chick

I hope we don't lose this one, it's one of the tiniest. 

Yes, that's a frisbee in the background, I use them to feed tiny chicks with chick starter.  In case you are wondering, the entire bedding of the little henhouse is chick feed that has turned to dust, the yellow specks are pieces of scratch that are in the bedding.  The mice love me.  The little henhouse is too wide to reach into and the porch on the front makes it hard to get into.  There are two large popholes at the back, and I used to keep it bedded with straw, but the feed and dust really make a better bedding for the countless chicks that have been raised in there.  If for some reason Keith and I are ever down with the flu, the chickens could subsist on their bedding for several days! 

New Peeps

Houston, we have touchdown .

The new peeps have arrived, and they are many.  Ten, by the last count tonight, but I am worried about two very dimunitive yellow ones.  One was out on the porch of the little henhouse, exposed, still wet from the shell.  I suspect a certain brown Ameracauna named Rosemary, not far removed from pullet-hood herself.  I got it back in under it's mamas, but I am not so sure it will survive the night.  Another was very tiny, and though dried off, it was having trouble keeping up with it's day older brothers and sisters.  The three mamas, Flicka, Silka and Rosewitha, are all clucking and talking to the babies, and moving as a unit.  It got up to 85 degrees today, but tonight the temp fell quickly, and we are heading for the thirties in the coming week.  I entreated Keith to help me connect the heat lamp that has been hanging in the little henhouse unused all summer and despite much grumbling, we got it connected and operational.  There are still four unhatched eggs, which I am hoping at this point stay unhatched. 

If you look closely, you can see one yellow chick in front of Rosewitha, and one black chick peering out from under her skirts.

So far I have seen a gray chick, two black chicks, and the rest are yellow variations.  I am hoping most make it through the next few weeks.  Despite the fact they have three mamas, there are four other June hatch chicks and a rooster Ratchett, in and out of the little henhouse all day long. 
Their waterer is full of feed in the foreground, so I swept the bedding out after I took this picture, cleaned the waterer AGAIN, and refilled it.  Most of them have been shown how to drink by their mamas, who drink out of the bigger waterer up on a brick.  Chicks can survive a whole day without food or water, it's the reason they can be shipped at one day old, since they are subsisting on the yolk still inside them.