"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future! "
Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

COURAGEOUS

I have heard so much about this movie....I can't wait to see it! 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Honor Begins at Home

Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.

While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.

When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God ... and to their children?

Filled with action-packed police drama, COURAGEOUS is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the movie-making ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Riveted moviegoers will once again find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children.

Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That's courageous!

(PLEASE PAUSE PLAYLIST ON SIDEBAR BEFORE VIEWING VIDEO ~ THANK YOU!) 

video
Coming to theaters September 30

Keeping Busy

It is another beautiful, but busy day here in the Valley. The sun is shining with a gentle breeze blowing. It is 84* with low humidity....absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I would prefer it to be a little cooler, but today, I'LL TAKE IT!

This morning I did some inside work...the usual laundry, dishes, straightening up, etc. I have been out in the shed cleaning up and hanging fly paper.  We didn't have a fly problem last year, but we do now.  BLECH!  The girls and I cleaned out the shed and layed down new bedding for them. Gena has not budged from her nesting box during this whole time. She is such a sweetie pie, never doing anything more than making a little noise when I would get close to her. I have to say, I am very lucky to have such a calm, broody hen. I have read stories of them literally attacking people when they reach under to gather the eggs or even just get too close. I can reach under with no problem whatsoever.  I will try and take a video of the noise she makes when I get near her nesting box.

When I go back outside, I will be putting Gena and her unfertilized eggs into another nesting box to she can be by herself.  Skippy will be putting some chicken wire around her little area so the other girls will stop climbing over her to lay their eggs in the same box.  All of our "donor eggs" have been trampled on.  Grace is collecting a "clutch" (A clutch is one batch of chicks or eggs that a bird is setting on at once) over the next three days.  She had three this afternoon, but dropped one, so we are down to two for today.  She is so sweet, trying so hard to keep this eggs for me.  THANK YOU, GRACE!   Gena will have her own little space with food and water, then being able to be left in peace to take care of her future babies. 

After that, I need to finish up mowing the yard.  It's so long that when the girls come running back to the shed, all you see are their heads popping up and down over the top of the grass!  lol  It is HYSTERICAL to watch!

Well, it's time to get back to work.  What have YOU been doing today?

Summer Months Energy Saving Tips


If you are a "frugal female" like me, you try and take advantage of every opportunity you can to save a little money. During the summer months, the temperature is not the only thing that can soar sky high. Our electric bill can soar as well. And goodness knows I don't want mine going any higher!  However, by eliminating wasteful habits and power guzzlers, you could cool your home with up to 50 percent less energy and save more than $400 on annual utilities. Now how's that for a savings? :> )

Here are a few things that you CAN do to help keep your energy costs down during the summer months:

Window Units
We have one window unit in the family room.  When we use it, we block off the other rooms so it doesn't work overtime to cool the hallways.  Window units can't compete with central air's efficiency for whole-house cooling, so use window units only in contained areas. For maximum comfort, keep fan speed on high except on the most humid days, when you'll want low speed to remove more moisture. If it's time for a new unit, choose one with the Energy Star label for greatest efficiency; since oversized units tend to waste energy, select an AC sized for the space you intend to cool (visit energystar.gov for guidelines).

Thermostat
Give the air conditioning a rest when you're away for even a few hours. Set programmable thermostats to kick in half an hour before you return home unless you have heat-sensitive indoor pets. Cranking the thermostat to penguin-worthy temperatures won't cool the house faster, since AC works at full throttle until a set temperature is reached. With every degree you lower it, cooling costs increase by about 7 percent.

Electronics
Unplug small appliances whenever you can. Computers, cell phone chargers, and other electronics often continue to use power -- and radiate heat -- even when turned off. To simplify, plug items into a power strip that you can use as a master switch.

Lights
Incandescent bulbs put more energy into generating heat than light, so replace high-use bulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). They burn cool and bright with only a third of the power required by incandescents.

Window and Fans
Position a fan to blow air out a window. But if you're lucky enough to have a strong wind, set the fan to blow in the same direction to maximize air flow. Close nearby windows to keep exhausted air from flowing back in and open those on the other side of the house (ideally in cool, shaded areas). In a multilevel home, place the fan in a top-floor window and open windows on lower floors, where air is cooler. For windows that catch direct sun, use blackout blinds or heavy drapes to minimize solar heat gain.

Central Air
If you have central AC, schedule annual servicing. Visits cost up to $100, but repairs and tune-ups that increase efficiency soon pay for themselves. If you want to invest in a new system, look for a seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) of at least 14 to qualify for up to $300 in tax credits. But take note: Credits only apply to home improvements made through the end of this year. Tax credit or no, you stand to earn significant savings by replacing a system sold in the 1990s, which can guzzle up to 40 percent more energy than today's most efficient systems.

Freezers
Don't keep extra refrigerators and freezers in unconditioned spaces, such as garages, where heat tends to build up. Save more energy by opting for a chest freezer, which loses less cold air when opened. Keep all freezers relatively full for maximum efficiency.  (easier said than done, right?)

Appliances
Run appliances such as clothes dryers and dishwashers at night to avoid peak energy rates and the humid heat they generate. Excess humidity is more than uncomfortable- it can also be expensive, since air conditioners use extra energy to process the moisture.

Ceiling Fans
Partner ceiling fans with AC to make rooms feel at least 4 degrees cooler (so you can raise the thermostat and save energy without feeling the heat). Turn fans off when you leave the room; windchill makes you feel cooler but doesn't drop room temperature or ventilate the house. Opt for counterclockwise rotation, which pulls hot air up and away.

Cooking/Outdoor grilling
Take advantage of summer weather and cook outdoors, as prolonged baking or stovetop cooking makes AC work overtime. Too muggy outside? Use a microwave or toaster oven, which use less energy and generate less heat. When you need to use a burner, keep pots covered to cook food faster and minimize humid heat in the kitchen.

STAY COOL!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

WOW......What A Deal!!!


Today I got a TREMENDOUS DEAL on Shick Hydro 3 razors today at CVS.  They are on BOGO (Buy One Get One FREE) when you use your ExtraCare card.

In the past few weeks there have been $4.00 off coupons in the newspaper.  Since you are getting 2 razors, you can use 2 coupons on your transaction.  The original price in our CVS is $9.39 each - $8.00 for my coupons, making my total for both razors, only $1.86 (including tax) - or .93 cents each!  WOW...how can you pass that up?  : > )

My sister informed me that they are even cheaper at the CVS in FR, which is where she got hers yesterday!

If you want this deal you'd better hurry up and get there.  The sale ends July 2nd!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Empty Nest


If at first you don't succeed....try, TrY, TRY AGAIN!

You can imagine how sad I was when I took Gena out of her nesting box and didn't find her egg.  The other day I found one of the girls in the box with her, trying to squeeze in to lay her own egg.  Hard to understand why since there were three more EMPTY BOXES right alongside that one!  I think the egg was again broken in the process so they ate it.  This time, there were no shells left over.  This is NOT good!  :> (

I called Grace last night and told her what happened.  She was sad too,  so today she will be bringing over some more eggs to try again.

PLEASE PRAY that this time we will have success! 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites


I was looking for a sugar-free dessert recipe the other day.  I have been trying to lower my sugar and carb intake (plus the fact that I ran out of sugar), hoping that might help me shed some extra UNWANTED pounds...as if extra pounds are ever REALLY wanted in the first place!

My dad was a diabetic so I should have learned a long time ago to watch the sweets, but I'll be honest...they taste so GOOOOOOD!

After doing some searching, I found the SPLENDA® site and I must say, they have lots of YUMMY l@@king treats on there.  (insert drooly face here)  I found the recipe for these Peanut Butter Cookie Bites and just had to give them a try.  I know quite a few people with diabetes so these really were a must.

I was really surprised that even My Skippy Man liked them....and he is NOT a SPLENDA® lover at all!

For this recipe, you will need the following: 
  • ¼ cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup creamy style peanut butter
  • ¼ cup egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
 DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat margarine and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy, approximately 1 minute.

Add egg substitute, honey and vanilla. Beat on high speed for approximately 1½ minutes.

Add SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener and beat on medium speed until well blended, approximately 30 seconds.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small mixing bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, beating on low speed until well-blended, about 1½ minutes. Mixture may be crumbly.

Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls and drop onto a lightly oiled or parchment lined sheet pan, two inches apart. Flatten each ball with a fork, pressing a crisscross pattern into each cookie. Bake 7-9 minutes or until light brown around the edges. Cool on wire rack.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Heading Out!

I AM SO EXCITED! We are 'Blowin' This Popsicle Stand" today and TAKING THE DAY OFF! We are going to spend the day with Goose and Tang for a morning at the Farmer's Market, lunch at CiCi's, then who knows what! lol  WOO HOO!  Fresh veggies, here I come! 

Are any of you taking the day off to relax and do something FUN? If so, what will you be doing?

HAVE A GREAT DAY, FRIENDS!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Return on Giving

"Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!"
Luke 6:38

While the tendency of our human nature may be to receive more than to give, the Gospel tells us giving is actually the most productive way to receive!  Whatever we estend to others, give to others, or do for others comes back to us multiplied.

Find ways to give to those around you today.  Especially to those who may be in subordinate positions.  Freely share information with them and be generous in your praise and encouragement.  Give advice on how to do specific tasks more quickly, more efficiently, or with greater quality.  You will find that the more you do to help others, in their work, the easier your own workload will become!



This excerpt taken from "Coffee Break with God"

A Beautiful Day on the Farm

 Beautiful blue sky, cooler temperatures, a gentle breeze.....
BEAUTIFUL!
Our tomatoes went NUTS!
One of the girls
 Dewberries on the front porch
Foraging under the trees
  Mint in the flower box
Gena on her egg

Jackmani Clematis on the railing
Rex the Rooster standing sentinel
Wildflowers on the stairs
 A pretty moth on my lillies
Homemade tortillas chips and salsa~ YUMM!

Insert Sad Face Here. . . . . . :> (

I was out shopping with my sister yesterday and we had been talking about our chickens and roosters.   We were excited that we might be able to have some baby chicks running around the homestead in a few weeks. When I got back, the first thing I did after literally "dropping" my groceries on the floor was to go out and check on Gena and her eggs.  To my surprise, this is what I found. . . . 
What I think happened was, when she laid her own egg today, it landed on one of the donor eggs, cracked , and she ate it.  :> (  Remember the other day when C. brought those two eggs over and they cracked when she took them out of the box?  I believe it is because their shells are too thin.

Calcium is the primary mineral that makes up eggshells and when not supplied in the diet, the hen does not have the basic materials needed to make the shell. The egg shell thins when calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D3 are not provided in diets at adequate levels. It is seen more often during periods of hot weather because calcium is conserved and retained within the hen's body less efficiently.  We mix about 2 pounds of oyster shells to every 50 pounds of 16% layer ration and our egg shells are perfect!

Now getting back to the cracked egg, I have to tell you. . . . .cracked eggs and chickens just don't mix.  Once they get into a habit of eating them, it can be very hard to break them of it. Chickens do not naturally eat eggs, but there are certain causes that can incite them to do so.  Here is a list of some major causes and some suggestions provided by MSUCares.com
  • If shells of the eggs are thin and weak, provide proper diets to correct the problem.
  • Not enough nest space is provided. Provide at least one standard nest for each four hens.
  • Keep plenty of soft nesting material in the nest so eggs will have a cushion on which to lay.
  • Collect the eggs more regularly, at least 2 or 3 times daily. The longer the eggs remain in the nest, the greater chance of breakage and consumption.
  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh drinking water. Hens need greater amounts of water than other birds and may consume their eggs for the liquid content.
Even though we are not having the best of luck so far, "WE SHALL PERSEVERE!"  Well, that is as long as Grace and KF don't mind giving us eggs!  :> )

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trying Again

Yesterday, my sister came over with two more eggs so we could try again.  I marked the eggs and put them under Gena.  She sat on them for about 4 hours, then got up to eat, drink, and...well, you know the rest!  lol  After a few minutes, she went right back into her box.


I marked on the calender the day we "put them under" Gena, adding the eggs to be hatched all in one clutch. Do not add eggs from day to day as you collect them, and do not add any more after you set the hen. The germ cell of a fertile egg is ready to develop into a chick, but it does not begin to do so until the hen sits on it—that is, maintains constant temperature and humidity at a level sufficient to trigger growth of the embryo. It doesn’t matter if the eggs you set were collected on different days: All the embryos begin to grow at the same time, and they will all hatch on the same day. If you add more eggs after the hen starts incubating the clutch, however, the development of embryos in the new eggs lags behind that of the first eggs, and hatching cannot occur all on the same day—which could lead to disaster. Once you have set your hatching eggs under your broody hen, she will do the rest.

Her baby chicks should hatch somewhere around July 12th.  I will be going out every day to make sure that the eggs are being turned.  It is a good idea to “candle” the eggs midway through the incubation period. Working by flashlight, remove the eggs one at a time, shining the light through each one.  At about day ten, a growing embryo will show as a small pulsing mass at the center of a spider-web of red supply veins. Keep examining eggs until you are sure you recognize a living embryo with its support system. Then it will be obvious when you find a non-living egg—one with only a yolk showing, or a dark mass. Such eggs should be discarded immediately.

If the donor eggs don't work, we may try "grafting" (purchasing day old chicks and slipping them underneath her at night).  You can “hold” a willing broody hen on her nest with artificial eggs for 4 or even 5 weeks until your purchased chicks come in. The hen is not counting off days on a mental calendar—she moves on to the next phase when she hears live chicks under her.

I went out earlier this morning and there she was, in her nesting box, just as happy and content as could be.....all was right with the world!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's On The Menu


Tonight's Dinner on the Farm:
Grilled kielbasa, boiled potatoes, and sauerkraut

Dessert:
Neapolitan ice cream



(This menu is subject to change at any given moment!)

Egg Update

WOO HOO! PIC UPLOADED!!


My sister came over last night with three eggs for Gena. She had kept them safe all day long, but when she got to my house and took them out of the box, she cracked two of them. :> ( It's okay....we're going to try again today!

I have a picture of the eggs, but for some reason, blogger won't let me upload any pics today, but I will give it another shot later and see what happens!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Baby Chick In Waiting

I'd like you to meet our first egg!  Isn't she/he so cute!  I can't believe my sister has it sitting next to an ice pack to keep it cool!  ROFLOL! 

I LOVE IT!

Thank you, sis, for all the TLC you are giving to our future flock!  You're the BEST! :> )

Donated Eggs

We have been looking on-line, trying to find a place where we can purchase fertilized eggs for Gena to sit on.  (read original post HERE!)  After finding a couple of places, we were disappointed to find out that we missed the "order by" date for the eggs we wanted.  Since we couldn't find what we were looking for, we were going to try and break Gena's broodiness, until I remembered something....my sister has hens AND roosters.  Why not get the eggs from her? Soooo, that is what we are going to do.  Their hens and roosters are both Rhode Island Reds.  They were our first choice last year but they were not available.

Since we are getting "donor eggs" we need to be careful in keeping them viable until we are ready to use them.  My sister actually has one of the eggs with her on her trip to the grocery store,  She was afraid someone would cook it while she was gone!  LOL  She is going to send me a picture of the egg in the car....I can't wait to see that!  ROFLOL!

We need to collect as many eggs that we want to try and hatch first, being sure to follow these guidelines, which I found on the Mississippi State University website; MSU Cares

Hatching Egg Storage Period

Eggs saved for hatching are very perishable and their viability is greatly affected by the quality of storage conditions. If properly stored, the number of hatching failures can be kept to a minimum. It is recommended that most eggs be stored no longer than 1 week. Storing eggs longer will produce a greater incidence of hatching failures.

The maximum storage period for chickens is about 3 weeks. Some turkey eggs will survive for 4 weeks, but quail will have difficulty developing from eggs stored longer than 2 weeks.

Hatching eggs should be collected soon after lay and maintained at 50-65* F. The eggs must not warm to above 65* F. unless they are being prepared for immediate incubation. Relative humidity in the storage facility should be maintained at 70 percent and daily egg turning or repositioning is recommended to prevent the yolk from sticking to the inside surface of the shell.

 We'll keep you posted on the process!

Monday, June 20, 2011

What's On The Menu


Tonight's Dinner on the Farm:
Chicken tender salad w/bacon & onion ranch dressing, broccoli

Dessert:
(This menu is subject to change at any given moment!)

Broody, Or Just Missing Mamma?


While I was in TX, My Skippy Man was so sweet.  He would call to let me know how he and my precious babies were doing. He said  Pheobe and Snickers would run to the door when he came home, giving wags and kisses, but then would run to the door looking for me.  When he would go to bed, they would lay facing the door, waiting for me to come in. AWW!!

A couple of days later, he called and told me that the chickens were missing me too.  He said Gena misses you so much, she won't get out of her box.  Now you must remember, this is our first time/year raising chickens, so there are lots of things we have not experienced yet.

Well, Gena really wasn't missing Mamma, she is what they call, "broody."   A broody hen is a hen who has decided it is time to sit on the nest and hatch a few eggs. If you are breeding your chickens, this is a vital for incubating a nest full of eggs, but if you are raising hens for the just the eggs, a broody hen can disrupt the entire coop's laying cycle.

You can tell a hen is broody when she starts to linger in her usually nesting box longer than usual.  She may seem to be in a trance-like state, she may peck your hand, or put her back up in a threatening manner, or may even squawk at you.  If you go back into the house at night and she is still sitting in her box and not roosting with the others, there is an excellent chance she is broody.  A broody hen is very single-minded, wanting to sit on eggs constantly whether the eggs are fertilized or not. Hens when broody will sometimes pull out breast feathers to feather the nest and even become aggressive to anyone who comes near the nest box.  I have to say I am very thankful, as Gena is still as sweet as she can be during this time.  She has cooed (sp?) a couple of times, but has never gotten aggressive with me, even when I put my hand underneath to gather her eggs.

Incubating a nest of eggs for 3 weeks is physically demanding on a hen, as they will only leave the nest for a few minutes each day to eat, drink, and relieve themselves.  If they don't, you will have to remove them from the nest and bring them to the food and water.  A few minutes off the eggs will not harm them, it just can't be too long, or the eggs will cool down and the embryos will not survive.  However, it is imperative that we take special care of our hens during this time, because if we don't, they too can die!

If you are breeding chickens, a broody hen is vital for incubating a nest full of eggs. If you are raising chickens to harvest the eggs only, a broody hen can disrupt the laying cycle of the whole coop. In either case, recognizing a brooding hen is useful for the success of your flock!

Will a little extra TLC given to your sweet hen, you will reap the rewards and have a few precious little baby chicks running around your yard!



Some of the information in this post was found on The Modern Homestead