Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Monday, April 03, 2017

New Chicken Yard. WooHoo!

Y'all remember when I was complaining about our awful, weedy, overgrown chicken yard?
Well, I got on craigslist.com and found some free building supplies and our neighbor, who was tearing down his old pole barn, let Tom tear down and take part of the lumber for free.

So, we finally got around to building a new one (for under $1,000 *wink*).  It's not quite done, but I'm so excited that I couldn't wait to write about it.

We built a basic pole barn structure.

Approximately twelve feet wide by twenty-four feet long.

Tom set the support poles.  If you build a structure like this, using these creosote logs as supports, you are not supposed to use concrete.  You just dig a deep hole (I think ours were about four feet deep), set the pole in it and pack the dirt back in.  Concrete will make the wood rot.

After setting the poles and making sure they were level, we added two-by-six beams for the roof support.

The outside 2x6's were screwed directly into the poles, but the others were hung with joist supports, which are supposed to hold the frame together better in high winds. 

Tom sent me to Home Depot to pick these up.  What's funny is that the clerk at Home Depot asked me what they were and what they are used for.  I could barely find them without help.

Next, we attached 1x6 boards crossways on the 2x6's.  That's what the tin roof will be screwed onto.

Tom had this idea to make the yard even bigger by building what we call a "bump out".  It's 8x12 and juts off the side of the main structure.  This part will have a wire mesh roof rather than tin because I'm going to put a little herb garden in there for the chickens.  Yes, I said "herb garden".  Don't be hatin'.

Here's the bump out from a different angle.  That back part will contain the herb garden.

We used one of the old screen doors that we took off of our house when we remodeled.  We seem to have an endless supply of those.  I painted it to match the red on the other structures around the property.  It looks crooked in the picture, but I assure you, it is level.  The sloping ground and roof make everything that is level look wonky.

Chicken patio.  Yes, the chickens needed a patio.  (More of the endless supply of terra cotta tiles that we took out of the house, too)

Next, Tom put 2x4 uprights at four foot intervals so that I can staple my 48 inch wire mesh to it.

Last last bit of framing was for the little chicken door.  We let our chickens free range most of the time, so they need to be able to come and go to lay their eggs and get a drink.  We built it out of a 1x4, cutting it into four 12 inch strips.  The fourth strip got ripped in half and screwed to the other three to hold it all together.  We used hinges from some cabinet doors that we took out of the RV.

When it's open, it's a ramp.

All of the framing is finished.  I'm waiting for the ordered wire mesh to arrive.  Tom wants to let the poles settle in real good before he puts the roof on.  He is convinced that it is going to fly away like a kite when he puts the roof on and is considering buying some kind anchors that screw into the ground and attach to the poles that helps hold them in.  I don't know.  Nothing else (without anchors) has flown away around here, but...what do I know?  Supposedly, when you build a roofed, but open structure like this, it's supposed to face a certain direction so the wind won't pick it up.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Duck Confit or Confit de Canard

Hey, I'm getting all French and Fancy down here on the farm.  A friend of ours is an avid hunter and he gave us some fresh duck meat the other day.  I've only cooked duck a handful of times in my life and that was whole, commercially grown duck.  So...not much experience here.  That's where Pinterest comes in handy.  I searched "duck recipes" and came up with a whole bunch of ways to cook it.  By far, the easiest sounding was duck confit.  I had to look up what it was and how to pronounce it.  First of all, the French pronounciation was "cohn fee" with the accent on the cohn and your best nasal Pepe-le-Pew (and, instead of "duck", it's Canard).  If you aren't French, say "con fee" with the accent on the fee.  If you're a hick, say "con feet".

Basically, confit is a meat slow cooked in it's own fat...lots and lots of fat.  So, really, it's southern cooking at it's finest.  It is also a meat preservation method and supposedly can be kept in the fridge for up to six months.  Yeah, I'm not gonna do that.

Here's a not-boring bit of info about duck confit.  But, I followed this recipe because it was the one I found on Pinterest and super easy.  Since the meat has to be cooked in it's own kind of fat, and ducks generally are not tubs of lard, I had to go in search of duck fat.  It was not the easiest of things to find, but I did find it at Fresh in Tyler, Texas.  Fresh is Brookshire's version of Whole Foods for small towns.  And...it ain't cheap.  That's another reason to use the recipe I decided upon.  Half of the fat was made up of avocado oil, which I buy from Costco and usually have on hand.  Also, almost all of the duck confit recipes I found called for using duck legs.  The duck meat I received had been cut up, put in a zip lock back and frozen, so I didn't know what pieces I had.  After I thawed it, I found that it was all breast meat.  But, I figured I didn't have anything to lose by using breasts instead of legs, so I went for it (and it turned out to be just fine).

Here are the ingredients.  
The recipe called for three pounds of duck legs.  I had four pounds of duck breasts, so I tweaked the seasonings a bit.  I'm pretty sure the amounts don't have to be exact.  Here's what I used:
14 ounces duck fat
2 cups avocado oil
1/3 cup smoked salt
1 tsp. dried thyme (use fresh if you have it)
4 bay leaves, crumbled
Oops, I forgot to put peppercorns in the picture.  Anyway...
1 Tbs. peppercorns, cracked

After this, I followed the recipe I linked to.

I cooked it on low for about eight hours, then took it out of the fat and shredded the meat.  It was fall-apart-tender.

Then I packed what I wasn't going to use for dinner last night into pint jars and then filled them with the oil/fat mixture.  Four pounds of duck meat made four pints of meat and one extra pint of fat/oil, which, I am told, I can use for other things.

The meat was quite salty (next time, I'm going to rinse it better before cooking), but very tasty.  I served it over mashed potatoes, which I didn't season at all because the duck was so flavorful.   Our asparagus is already making pretty good, so I steamed some of that and drizzled the oil over everything.  The oil seasoned everything just right.

After a night in the refrigerator, this is what the meat and fat looked like.  I'm getting at least four meals, maybe more, out of that one recipe, so it was definitely worth making.  And, it was a hit with Husband.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Another DIY Ottoman

This is fun.  I made another ottoman out of a coffee table.  I don't have room in my house to keep making ottomans for myself, so it's nice that I can sometimes make them for other people.

I found this retro coffee table at an estate sale.  I just really like the style of leg.

Eight yards of piping, made from a little over half a yard of fabric.

About a yard of fabric.

Sew it all together, add a cushion, staple under the edge of the top, cover the stapled edge with piping, lightly tufted with three covered buttons.  And...


RIP Billy Goat

I feel like this is the end of an era.

Our herd sire, Billy, died this week.  He had been looking peaked for several months.  We took him to the vet once and they couldn't find anything wrong with him, but he continued to decline.  I read that a herd sire's life expectancy was 8-10 years and Billy was 9 years old, so I'm guessing that he just died of old age.

Even though he was thin and limping, he still got out in the field and browsed every day.  Until he didn't.  I noticed one day last week that I hadn't seen him come out of his shed all of the day before and that his companion/son, Gerbera was hanging around the door of the shed most of the day.  So I went to see what was going on.  Billy was back in the corner, laying down with his legs tucked up under him, like goats usually do.  What was not usual was that he didn't get up to greet me.  He couldn't get up, not even with my help.

He didn't seem to be in pain.  He was just weak.  So, I brought him some grain and water and made sure he had hay within reach.  For a couple of days, he happily ate the grain and hay and drank the water.  Then he stopped eating a drinking, then he laid on his side and couldn't lift his head.  Then he passed away.

We were sad.  Billy has been with us since the beginning of our farming days and we bought him as a small buckling.

I apologize for the slight gruesomeness of the picture below, but it tells a story...I think.  During Billy's decline, Gerbera was his constant companion.  He would go out to browse for short periods of time throughout the day, but he spent most of his time either laying or standing by Billy.  Even the donkeys, Kip and Sophie, hung around the shed more often than usual.

On that last morning when Tom went to check on Billy and discovered that he had died during the night, he found Gerbera, Kip, and Sophie all standing vigil.  And, this is how he found Billy.

His companions had covered him like this.  I prefer to believe that they did it out of respect rather than just standing over him eating his hay.

So, Rest In Peace, Wild and Crazy Guy.


Video does not work because, apparently, Blogger doesn't give a flip.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Seat Cushions Update

Just thought I'd post pictures of the finished seat cushions in use.

I think these chairs are from IKEA.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Controlled Burn

Tom did a "controlled" burn of our hay pasture last week.  I didn't have it on my own agenda, but I ended up out there with him anyway.  Normally, I don't do fire.  In the past, Tom has done the burns by himself and it makes me so nervous.  I was so happy that he had traded favors with a neighbor that is a fireman so that he came over to help with the burn.

The idea is to choose a day in which the winds aren't too high and they also are blowing in the desired direction.  Then, God laughs because you think you are controlling the fire and changes the direction of the wind, whipping it up just a little for emphasis.

From the house, I noticed that the fire was suddenly bigger and faster.

I thought, "Wow, that's burning pretty fast and high and oddly close to the enormous propane tank and wood shed.   And, why are the donkeys and goats running across their paddock?"

My phone rings and it's Tom saying, "I need your help!"
Um.  Not a fireman here.

This is when the pictures stop and I grab my boots, throw my long flammable hair in a pony tail and run out to the field.

Apparently, the wind had kicked up and changed direction.  Tom and fireman neighbor managed to keep it from burning down the fences and the paddock where the donkeys were, but the garden pasture burned.  It needed to be burned anyway, but we didn't want our large piles of wood mulch to burn up.  Fireman stopped that just in time.

There was a lot of running and dragging water hoses and a little bit of panic, but the guys finally got it back under control.

Whew.  I thought we were going to burn down the county.

I bet you didn't know this, but water hoses that get holes or cuts in them can be repaired by being spliced together.  I bet, for most people, when their hose gets a hole in it, they just buy a new one.  Well, most of our hoses have multiple splices in them.  Sometimes those splices pop open or leak or get stopped up causing low water pressure at inopportune times.  I've authorized the purchase of lots of nice new water hoses before the next burn.  

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Seat Cushions

I have been so UNmotivated this winter.  I have many projects that need doing outside, but I just can't bring myself to get out there and be productive.  Super lazy is what I've been.  I'm accomplishing very little inside, too, but I did do this.

Seat cushions for my daughter-in-law's dining chairs, which she requested as a Christmas present.

I got her to make a pattern by tracing her chairs for me.  Then I pinned it on the fabric.

Since I was using a two inch thick cushion, I had to cut the fabric one and a half inches larger than the pattern.  If you're a seamstress, you will already know that the fabric is doubled so I could cut the top and the bottom piece at the same time.  The one and a half inch extra fabric is meant to allow for the thickness of the cushion, plus a half an inch seam allowance.  I marked both lines with a pencil.

The pattern is marked where the ties needed to go, so I transferred those marks, as well.

While I waiting for the patterns to arrive in the mail, I went ahead and made the welting that I would need.  I've made welting several times, but never can remember exactly how to make the bias tape, so I went back to my favorite bias tape tutorial here.   So, after I got the seat fabric cut to size, I was all ready to sew the welting onto the top piece of fabric.  For those of you new to sewing/upholstering, pin the welting to the right side of the fabric, matching up the raw edge of the welting to the raw edge of your cushion.  It will seem backwards when you do it, but don't get confused.  This is the way to do it.  Clip the seam allowance of the welting at the corners so that the welting will turn smoothly.  I used as piping foot so I could make my seam right up against the welting cord.

A reminder...cut your cushion foam with an electric knife.  I've found that using scissors just results in a big jagged mess.

I made all of the ties ahead of time and had them ready to go.  I pinned the ties the same way as the welting - right side of fabric, raw edges together, then pinned the bottom fabric piece to the top (which already has the welting sewn onto it).  After sewing it all together except for a small slot in the back, I stuffed the foam cushion in, wiggled it around until it was positioned correctly, then hand-sewed that spot securely together.

The chairs that these cushions are for have three back supports on them, one wide one in the middle back and a narrow one on either side.  Instead of having three dangling ties, which I think would look too busy, I made these little straps for the two side supports.

Theoretically (I don't have the chairs here with me to test), these little straps will just snap around those supports to keep the cushion from sliding around.

The larger support in the back will have this strap tied in a bow, like so.

All done!  

I made two smaller cushions for the grandson's little chairs, which are a different design that the adult chairs.  They have the traditional two back supports, hence the two ties.

The cushions are now winging their way to their destination.

HO, HO, HO!  Merry Christmas!

To see pics of cushions on chairs, go here.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Refrigerator Repair DIY

I've mentioned before and shown in previous posts that I have a husband who can fix just about anything.  Sometimes I take this for granted, but it occurred to me yesterday as he was replacing our refrigerator door gasket, that there might be people out there who are paying big bucks for repairmen or just buying a new refrigerator or freezer when the door seal breaks just because they don't know how easy it is to replace it themselves.  I know that it never has entered my mind before recently that this was even possible.

We have a Kenmore refrigerator and freezer placed side-by-side in our kitchen; bought when we remodeled our kitchen back in 2008.  They still work well, look good and serve their purposes.

But, a few months ago, we noticed that the freezer was running all the time and condensation was dripping from it.  Tom had a look at it and determined that the door gasket was torn, causing it to not seal properly.  He searched on-line and found that he could buy a gasket for our model and he ordered it.   A few weeks later, he determined that the refrigerator seal was starting to fail, so he went ahead and ordered a gasket for that one, too.  We just got around to replacing it yesterday.

It came with instructions on how to install it.  Just one little page about half the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper.  I know the print is too tiny to read on here, but this is just to show how simple the instructions are.  I didn't think to take pictures until we were almost done, so I can't show a step by step process.

To do the freezer was a little more complicated because we had to plan ahead to empty the contents of the door into coolers, then put plastic wrap over the freezer opening since we were going to have the freezer door open for an extended period of time.  But, for the refrigerator, we didn't need those things.  It takes less than a half an hour to do this, so it won't hurt the contents to be sitting on the counter for a while.  Although, if you keep milk or something like that in your door, you might want to put it in a cooler because after the new seal is installed, you can't open the door for an hour.

Anyway, the first thing to do is to remove the old seal.  If you lift up the edge of the seal, you can see a row of screws that goes all the way around.  Loosen those slightly, just enough so that you can gently pull the old seal off.  If you're having to tug real hard, then your screws aren't loose enough, although, you don't want the screws falling out.

Here's ours after being removed.

After that, you just put the new one in it's place.  The frame around the refrigerator door has a little groove that the lip of the gasket fits into.  Start at the top and fit that little lip into the groove all around the door.  It takes a little finessing and fiddling around, but once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty quick.

After the seal is in place, go back and tighten all the screws.  It really is that simple.  

It's so nice to have a new, clean gasket.  It makes the whole appliance look new again, which may inspire you to clean and organize your whole refrigerator.