Chickens: Triumph and Tragedy

If you prayed for our chickens to start laying eggs, thank you so much! 🙂 I believe it was the very next day that I received a call while having coffee with a couple of women from church at Starbucks. It was an out-of-breath Cooper calling to report that Kayla had just discovered an egg in the back yard right outside of the chicken coop! We were so excited, and we have now received our 4th egg of the week! I think they are all from the same chicken, so you could pray for the other ladies to follow the fine example of their producing girlfriend/coop-mate!

The tragic part of this story is that the next day I sent Kory and Kayla out around 5pm to check for more eggs. (This was the same time of day they had found the first egg.) It’s dark here at that time, so I gave them a flashlight. They quickly returned with Kory announcing that he had seen a fox enter the coop. (I figured he was trying to get out of the errand.) Robert went out with Kory to check on the girls and discovered a very disturbing scene in the coop. A fox had indeed been in the coop and had attacked one of the Plymouth Rock (black and white striped) chickens. It was still alive, but suffering greatly. So…..farmer Robert had to come back to the house for a hatchet and then go and put the poor girl out of her misery. I think Kayla cried for almost an entire hour. And Kory had to be Robert’s assistant – holding the flashlight and an open bag to dispose of the body. Needless to say, the whole family had trouble getting to sleep that night. Not sure we’re cut out for farm life! And we’re now down to 8 chickens.

Hens on Strike?

Well , the chickens are now more than 6 months old and have yet to produce any eggs. My friend Christina, who got her chicks on the same day and from the same place has been getting eggs for about 3 weeks now! I have done all I know to do……put fresh hay in the coop and laying boxes, put a light on in the coop to give them more “daylight” hours, clean the coop, provide fresh food and water, and have even given them several pep talks about their job here on earth. Nothing.

To make matters worse, Christina gave me 5 of her eggs to try. I fried them for breakfast this week and let me just say there is a HUGE difference in these home grown, cage free eggs! The yolk was a deep orange color, and kept an almost perfectly round shape once cracked in the pan. And the taste? Oh. My. Goodness. They were amazingly delicious!

We have even searched the wilds of our yard for a secret laying nests and have found nothing. I just don’t know…….you can pray about this if you think it a worthy request! 🙂
I will be sure to report any answers!

Fall Frenzy

If only my heart and mind felt as peaceful and quaint as this photo looks. Truth is, this front porch always sets the scene for the coming and going of the Krum family and many others on a very consistent basis. So, here’s a few glimpses of what we’ve been up to……..
Robert has been leading a Bible study for the Amherst College football players every Tuesday for the past few years which has been a true highlight of each week for him. We’ve tried to have them over for dinner after each season, and it is a fun evening. They are always extremely appreciative and entertaining. And we are always amazed at how just six of them can fill an entire room in our house! Kory and Cooper look forward to this evening so much – especially after getting to go to a couple of their games, and seeing them at church. And I couldn’t be more pleased that our boys think that it is perfectly normal to be a cool football player and serious about your faith all at the same time!

We recently participated in another Report/Presentation week for our homeschool geography class. Cooper built a “hacienda” out of cardboard and sugar cubes, and reported on the significance of the hacienda in early South American life. He compared them to the feudal system of the Middle Ages. Kory did a presentation the major historical events in South America – focusing on the Aztec, Mayan, and Inca civilizations – their rise to power and them ultimate downfall to the conquistadors. Kayla did a book report on Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborne and made Brazilian Hot Chocolate for everyone.

We welcomed yet another new baby into the Mercyhouse family – Kaydence Faith. Her mommy had been at my house just the day before she was born, lamenting the necessity of quitting work early because of driving difficulties among other hardships common at the end of pregnancy. She left asking for prayer to deliver little Kaydence over the weekend so that she wouldn’t have to take personal days to be with her at the end of maternity leave. Well, about 30 hours later, she had her little girl in her arms and was relieved in more ways than one! Thank you Lord, for your mercy and grace!
On Tuesday we got to participate in a really neat homeschool activity – a lesson in animal skull identification and nature observation. The kids each got a skull to sketch and then a field guide to try and identify the animal from the shape and features of its skull. They learned to recognize the dominant sense of the animal as a clue to its identity. Later, a guide took them on a short nature walk and helped them to notice clues as to where an owl might live. We will even receive owl pellets in the next week to dissect!
And I am still really enjoying my Five Aspects of Woman study with a great group of girls this year. This photo is from our first “life lesson” night in which the girls each bring something that creatively demonstrates what they have learned from the Aspect we are currently studying. These projects represent the Mistress of the Domain Aspect – as in you are asked to be a steward, by God, of all things He has given you – home, education, words, body, family, time, etc. So…Tomisin sang a favorite song of hers, Stacey shared her journal, Sarah showed before and after photos of the transformation of her dorm room desk :), Lorraine showed photos of her mom realizing her dream of starting a wedding planning business in Zimbabwe, I shared the process of writing my book, Danica shared a book report on the topic of marriage, Rachel wrote key points from the lesson on a pumpkin, and Virginia did a collage expressing the thoughts and attitudes of her heart currently. Each project was so inspiring and provided a joyful evening for all of us! And, as always, I am so grateful to be able to teach a learn from this material every year!

Gluten Free Friday – A Little Thanksgiving Prep and a Nice Surprise

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I have needed to start thinking about our menu. And even though I do grow weary of the never-ending focus on food around here, I do love to prepare this big meal and share it with whoever will join us!

Above is a photo of Carnival Squash stuffed with wild rice, craisins, and pecans. I saw this recipe in a cookbook while browsing a bookstore on Cape Cod. It actually called for acorn squash, but our farm had an abundance of carnival squash last week, and it worked just as well. I don’t think we’ll have this for our Thanksgiving meal, but we did try it out this week and it was a hit. (My kids love squash – Yay!)

Here’s what you do: Cut tops off squash, and then cut them in half. Place in a baking dish, flesh side down, and add a bit of water to dish. Cover and bake @ 350 deg. until tender. Cook 1 cup of wild rice in 2 1/2 cups water. Add 3Tbsp butter, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces, and 2/3 cup craisins to cooked rice and stir. When squash is ready, fill each half with the rice mixture and serve.

We ate the stuffed squash with a whole chicken that had cooked in the crock pot all day with garlic, rosemary, and sea salt. What we didn’t eat, I left in the crock pot – bones, meat, fat, juices, and all. To the pot, I added carrots, celery, onion, more garlic, and water to fill. Then I left the crock pot on all night and all day the next day. (About 20 hours.) When I found time, I spooned out all of the meat, bones, and veggies, and then strained the rest leaving only broth. After leaving the both in the frig for a few hours, I skimmed off the fat and poured the rich broth into jars to freeze. I can’t wait to pull these out next week to use for gravy, mashed potatoes, and cornbread stuffing! There is nothing like homemade broth! (Or stock – if you prefer – not sure the difference. Nourishing Traditions has specific instructions for making different kinds of stock.)
And just when I was thinking I should make up some gluten free sugar cookies to freeze for future decorating a holiday eating, a surprise package arrived in the mail. Amazingly, my thoughtful friend Jenny in Oklahoma had sent a gluten free sugar cookie mix with icing as well as a chocolate cake mix with chocolate icing! I couldn’t believe it – and it put a big smile on all of our faces! Our baking will be even easier now.
Thanks, Jenny!

Birthdays, Bum Knees, Brides, Boys, and Blues

So, just a week after my dad returned home from celebrating his 70th birthday in Massachusetts, he was scheduled for a total knee replacement! I’d known about this surgery for quite a while, but didn’t think a thing of it until he started talking about driving himself to the hospital and hobbling out on crutches to water his newly landscaped yard when he got home! Yes, really! My dad is single and lives in a three bedroom house an hour away from the hospital where the surgery was to be done. I decided to book a ticket back to Texas – my 4th trip this year – in order to be with him, and it was really my pleasure and privilege to do this. Robert’s parents came in to town (San Antonio) to pray with him before the surgery and sit with me until the doctor came to tell us everything was OK. This was a blessing to both of us as well. We had a great week together, and I was amazed at his progress. We had several visitors throughout the week – above is cousin Dasa – and I even ran into a old high school friend in the hospital cafe! My dad is in great shape – he swims, works out at the gym, and walks pretty consistently – and I know this has helped him have a quicker recovery than some. He’s home now, walking with a walker and getting physical therapy at home for the next month.
I stayed at the hospital the first night, but the remainder of the week I slept at Miss Riggs’s apartment. Can’t believe she’s getting married next month! I got to have dinner with she and Jack one night and was privileged to see them perform their wedding dance once back at the apartment! (Our dinner was directly after their dance class!) It was beautiful, of course, and to the music from the movie Miss Potter – “When You Taught Me To Dance.” Can’t wait to be a part of this very special day. Gotta get busy on a flower girl dress – Kayla is one of seven!
And then back to real life at home. I was “on” this week for teaching the homeschool geography class. We are finishing up our study of South America, and I was to teach the older group some current events from the continent. First, we put a giant South America puzzle together after the boys colored and labeled the country, capitol, and natural resources in each piece and then we learned some recent sports and political news. I chose to study up on Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, which led me to study up on communism/socialism, which led me to study up on Karl Marx. I have to say that I went to bed pretty disheartened about the similarities I could see between that country/leader and ours – especially in the mindset of the upcoming U.S. Administration – of which Chavez is a big proponent, interestingly enough. Striving to be hopeful and prayerful, but I must admit that after all of that reading, I feel a bit nervous about the world in which my kids will be adults someday. Someday soon.

Glad to be home. Ready for routine. Wondering if that is even a valid expectation – Can’t remember the last time we actually had a consistent routine. Feeling weary, but pressing on.
Is Thanksgiving really 13 days away?

Gluten Free Friday

This is just one of the ways we’ve enjoyed the apples we picked last month. I made apple butter out of the not-so-pretty ones!

Baked Apples

8 apples – cored, but with bottom of apple in tact
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup raisins
4 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup boiling water

Arrange cored apples in baking dish. Mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, raisins. Spoon this mixture evenly into each apple, topping with 1/2 Tbsp butter. Pour boiling water in bottom of baking dish and bake @ 350 deg. for 30 minutes or until apples are tender.

You can omit the pecans and raisins if you want and still have a tasty dessert or side dish.

Halloween

Here they are – the ladybug, the football player, and the border patrolman/secret agent. They had a great time trick-or-treating with friends and made quite a haul. Afterward, Kory and Robert headed to church for the annual Free Rides outreach. This is the church’s 9th year to offer free rides to anyone who calls on Halloween weekend which, in this town, is known for being the wildest party weekend of the year. Last night there were 14 vans running from 10pm to 3am non-stop, and about 70 volunteers were there to pull it all off! My guys got home around 4:30am – and even did our paper route before retiring for the night!

Gluten Free Friday (Saturday !) – Chili

My sister called this week wanting this recipe, so I thought I would post it. I stopped using the chili seasoning packets when we discovered our gluten intolerance, even though some of them are gluten free. It’s easy enough to season chili with your own spices.

Easy Beef and Bean Chili

1 lb ground beef (turkey works, too)
1 can tomato sauce
1 can Rotel or can of diced tomatoes and green chilis
1 can beans, drained (I use pinto or kidney)
2-4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Brown beef or turkey in skillet. Add cans of tomato sauce, beans, and Rotel and stir over medium heat. Add seasonings – stir and simmer 15-20 minutes.

We like to eat ours on baked potatoes with cheese – or over rice – or in a bowl with Fritos and cheese on top! Serve with a side salad for an easy and complete meal.