We picked 9 ears of corn
from our garden this past weekend.  

And we ate all of them.

Best danged corn-on-the-cob we've ever had.  

And that ain't no bull.

Oz Girl's Picks: American Harvest Dehydrator

So, based on my reader comments last week, I ended up choosing a more modest and economical dehydrator.  I ended up going with the Nesco American Harvest Snackmaster Express

The price was around $60 - I see it has already increased to $64 on Amazon.  I should have it by the end of the week, so I'll let y'all know how I like it once I've given it a whirl.

In the meantime, I picked most of my spearmint over the weekend and dried it in the oven.  The bugs were starting to snack on the leaves and I didn't want to take a chance of losing it while I was waiting for the dehydrator to arrive.

We also picked some of our corn - the worms were starting to nibble at the tips, so we cut off the tips and the ears were still good.  I mean, they were DELICIOUS! 

First time ever in my life, growing our own corn, and eating it fresh from the garden.  We bought our seeds from Johnny's Selected Seeds and they were definitely a "winning" choice.

The reason I bought our seeds from Johnny's this year:  Eliot Coleman of The Winter Harvest Handbook fame recommends and uses products from Johnny's Selected Seeds. 

If you haven't had a chance to read his "Winter Harvest" book, I highly recommend it.  Fantastic book.  Also, check out his Four Season Farm website.

Ok, I think I've blathered on enough today - 
I have definitely gotten off topic, huh?  
Sometimes I just can't help myself....

One more off-topic moment - I got a little closer to our family of deer yesterday morning.  You'll have to click on the photo to enlarge it....  hey, it's better than last week where all you could see were their little heads poking up above the prairie!!

Don't forget - the Country Giveaway is coming
and it starts this Thursday!

A Country Giveaway Starts Sept 1

The next monthly country giveaway
will commence on Thursday, September 1st.

Entry rules are simple!

Beginning on Thursday, September 1st, simply REPLY to the email notice you get about a new blog post, putting in the subject line, Enter me in your country giveaway!

You'll have until Monday, Sept 4th, midnight PST, to enter.
(That's 3 a.m. Eastern time!)

That's it. 
So easy-peasy a 5th grader could do it. 

Be ready.  Get subscribed to my blog, over there in the right sidebar, right up at the top.  Once you sign up, you'll need to confirm your subscription - be sure you follow through with the confirmation!


And you can always unsubscribe anytime you want to. So nothing is lost, and quite possibly you'll gain a nice freebie in the next 12 months. Remember, we'll be having a country giveaway here every month through July 2012.

And no, I'm not telling what September's giveaway is going to be - it's a surprise!  :-)

Open to everyone, family and friends. But limited to USA and Canada residents only.

In closing, here's this morning's prairie sunrise.  Pretty cool, huh?

Hope everyone has a beautiful Sunday.

A Prairie Morn

Sunrise is slow and easy on the prairie,
with only a few morning sounds for accompaniment.

A farmer's dog barking,
the crickets finishing their night-time soliloquy,
the morning birds chirping, at work on their breakfast.

 There are always deer to be found (see their heads?)

Leave it to me to frighten them,
so that they distance themselves from my camera lens.

For some really awesome wildlife photography,
check out my friend Misty's portfolio.
Or her blog.
Misty knows how to sneak up on wildlife!
(Or else she's got a lens a foot long.)

 Barack and Fluff are always with me.
They are most definitely "morning" cats.

Fluff, on alert, as usual.

Today is a Wichita morning.
We need some supplies from the big city.
What's on your weekend plate of "to-do"?

Wednesday Country Cute: Turtles Oh My!

Ok, so turtles probably can't be classified as cute, but I think they're kinda cool, and interesting.  Don't you?

Our resident turtles.  The first turtle above, designated "two spots" because of the two white spots on her shell, has been around ever since I moved here in the summer of 2008.

Click on any photo to enlarge

The second turtle is a relative newcomer, and we've named him "red spot" due to the spot of red nail polish that hubby put on his back.  He's much more colorful, so I'm guessing a male?  I also wonder ... is it possible that red spot is the progeny of two spots?

Perhaps a herpetologist would know.

I do not profess to be a turtle expert.

Info Update:  Check out this link for more information on our resident box turtles.  It appears they are Ornate Box Turtles, as opposed to Eastern Box Turtles, and apparently I was right in guessing the first photo is a female and the second photo is a male.  The male will have red or orange eyes. Now I just need to guess their age based on the growth lines around the scutes... go on, check out the link, it's a short (and interesting!) info piece!

How Your Comments Influence Me

The Excalibur dehydrator blog post is just one example of how your comments help bring me back to a better place.  

Sometimes we WANT more
than we really NEED.

I don't need the Cadillac of dehydrators.  I'm not drying enough produce for an army.  The biggest and best dehydrator really isn't necessary here on our tiny homestead.

I had a dehydrator, once.  A cheap model I bought at Walmart many, many years ago.  Maybe it was an American Harvest - I don't remember.

I happily made my own beef jerky using that dehydrator.  And it was good. It was a delicious snack when I forged a road trip to Yellowstone National Park, all by my lonesome.

When my ex-boyfriend borrowed that dehydrator, he most conveniently decided not to return it to me, in spite of my repeated requests to have it back.  (Jerk!)

I think, based on the comments received on my last blog post, I will purchase a more cost efficient model again, perhaps the American Harvest model mentioned. I think that's the model I put on my Amazon wish list last year??

I'd like to dry the spearmint that is growing with wild abandon in our garden, before it's too late.  I've made some wonderful mojitos with same spearmint the last few weekends.

That's not to say that the Excalibur model might not retain a spot on my wish list.    ;-)

After all, if the economy decides to go to hell in a handbasket, who's to say I might not have a small army of friends and family here on our homestead to feed??!!

P.S.  Thank you for all your wonderful, informative comments!

Oz Girl's Picks: The BEST Dehydrator

The Excalibur 3926T is, quite simply, the Cadillac of dehydrators.

The Excalibur 3900 series has 9 trays (15 square feet!) for drying veggies, fruits, fish and meats, beef jerky, fruit rolls and home crafts.  Model 3926T has a timer, enabling you to be away from home when the drying time is over and the machine needs to be turned off - set the timer, and you don't need to be up at 4 a.m. to turn it off!

After all my research, and reading the rave reviews of other users, the Excalibur 3926T has earned a spot on my wish list.

What about you - have you ever contemplated the purchase of a dehydrator?  If so, what would you use it for?

Note: The link to the 3926T model will take you to a web special page which offers additional freebies with the purchase of this model.  Also note, the Excalibur company has never heard of Oz Girl, and likely never will - this blog post is simply my opinion and personal recommendation.

In the Blog Spotlight - Living the Dream

I really want to expand my blog reading.  

There's just one problem with this - I seriously lose track of time when I'm discovering new blogs.  I become fascinated and often enter new worlds that I just can't seem to leave.

So to keep a rein on my blog surfing time, I will limit myself to reading ONE post only from newly discovered blogs.  (yeah, right!)

And then I will feature one new interesting blog that I've found each week on MY blog.

This week's spotlight blog is
Thoughts From a Bag Lady in Waiting.

The featured post is Living the Dream.  Every one of us has an idea of what our dream life might look like.  We might not be living it yet, but we pretty much know what would make us happy.

Take a minute to read Linda's musings on the unique ways that some people are living their dreams.  I think you'll enjoy her short post.  I sure did.

One of Linda's readers commented that someone told them, "If you can't have what you want, then want what you have."  Isn't that some most excellent sage advice?

I think if we try hard enough, we can all find the happiness, the dream, in our everyday lives. After all, we're here, aren't we?  May as well make the very best of every day we're given.

Who knows?  Perhaps her blog post might motivate you to think more deeply on your dreams - what they are and how you can make them happen.

Tell us in the comments - what do you think your dream life might be like?

Cowboy Country Mornings

This was our glorious blue sky yesterday morning, looking to the west from our front porch.

I imagine this is the kind of sweeping view that cowboys of the old west commonly awoke to see.  Unless they were in the mountains.  Then they saw mountains.

After all, they would be sleeping outside by a campfire, right?  No sleeping bags in those days, I'm sure.  Maybe a blanket roll, and a saddle for a pillow.

Today, Stormy gave us another "cowboy" view, straight off the front porch.  Just lovely to sit here with my coffee.

Jes' so y'all can see -- I ain't lyin'.
It's really from our front porch!

Today Only - A Short Detour from Our Country Path

Are you interested in growing your blog,
and taking it to the next level?

I've been blogging about my move from the
city life to the country life for 3 years now.

{Good grief, where DOES the time go?!}

I've been thinking about my blog every single day for the past month, about its need to transition, to be better, and yet retain its country focus.  It needs to grow into itself.

How can I make my blog better, so my readers enjoy coming here and reading about a country life?

I have learned a lot.  TONS.

The biggest thing I have learned is that I talk too much.  I need to shut-up and listen to YOU more.  

And then I thought, I bet some of my readers might be wondering the same thing about THEIR blogs - how they can blog better and grow their blog at the same time.

At the top of the research heap, the e-book 31 Days to Build a Better Blog by Darren Rowse, an expert blogger who offers tons of blogging tips at his website, ProBlogger.  

You might have noticed a few days ago that I added a link to his e-book in my right sidebar.

Another great website with tons of blogging tips is CopyBlogger, obviously more oriented to the content of your blog.   

I'd love it if you decided to join me for the next month - I've already purchased the e-book 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and I'm on Day Four of the tasks.  

Click on the link to the right in my sidebar ... check it out, and if you buy the e-book, let's take this journey together and share notes!

We'll return to our regularly scheduled
country path tomorrow!

Wednesday Country Cute

I promise to delight every Wednesday with
brand-spankin'-new FRESH country photos.

Might be animals (like today), 
a landscape, a sunrise or a sunset.

Pure country livin' entertainment.

Naked Lady lilies, cut down in their prime during a storm last night
Barack finds a dry island in the morning's dewy grass
Fluff finds her own spot and sniffs the country air

Diary of A Country Morning

7:45 Let dogs out before they pee themselves.

7:50 Feed dogs.  Not a moment's peace until this is done.  Ringo is always starving to death.

8:00 Get coffee started.

8:05 Feed cats. CiCi is now screaming up a racket because she is STARVING.

8:10 Crack a few guinea eggs and fry up some sausage for breakfast.  Toast a few slices of bread too. Hubby is whimpering --he is also starving.  Dogs are watching him eat.  Because they are still starving.

8:40 Clean up kitchen and do dishes.

9:10 Pack lunch for hubby. So he doesn't starve later at work.

9:15 Start a load of laundry. Need clothes for work.

9:25 Clean guinea keets brooder - change paper towel bedding, fresh water, fresh food. Lots of peeping --starving, of course.

9:40 Clean cat litter boxes in house.
(Yes, I do this almost Litter boxes are so EWW!)

9:50 Get dressed, head outside to clean coop - just a quick clean of window area, "temporary" saw horse roost and top of nesting boxes every other day.  Ringo checks out chickens and causes mass panic.

10:05 Fill large pan with water - boil for ice tea. I am addicted to ice tea!

10:10 Throw clothing into dryer. So we have clothes for work.

10:15 Let dogs out again.

10:20 New post for blog.
Review possible giveaway items for September's country giveaway.

Note to readers: Don't forget to subscribe
to my blog {upper right sidebar}
so you're notified of the next giveaway!!

In the meantime, hubby has watched a little Good Morning America, ate his breakfast, got dressed and headed outside to let the guineas out of the coop, feed the {starving} horses and water the garden and other miscellaneous plants that are shriveled up due to our drought.  He has also worked on the garage renovation a little bit, as he does almost every morning.

10:30 Remove boiling water from stove - add tea bags to steep for my ice tea.

10:35 Re-package return of two tops to Anthropologie.
Moment-of-weakness purchase due to peer pressure from my Anthro-geek sister!

10:40 Add water to trays in incubator -- 24 guinea eggs this time.

10:45 Read and respond to a few emails.  Read my email newsletter from Copyblogger. Great website with a wealth of information.  Check it out when you have time!

11:00 Time to start getting ready for work!

Tomorrow morning we'll do it all again,
with a few minor variations. 

Because, of course,
everyone will be STARVING again!!

Oz Girl's Picks: Top 5 Historic Hotels

Everyone has a dream place they want to visit.  But instead of the top 5 beach or mountain resorts, I'm putting out my list of the top five historic hotels I'd like to visit.

I must admit I haven't had the opportunity to visit ANY of these spectacular hotels.  This list is purely the result of wasteful web surfing and a strong desire to "want" and "must have".

Disclaimer: Most of these don't fit into a farm girl's budget.  They pretty much go on my wish list. And none of these hotels have endorsed their inclusion into my "top 5" list - this list is strictly the opinions (and desires!) of Oz Girl.

1. Wort Hotel - Jackson, Wyoming
This is one gorgeous stone hotel which dates to the early 1940's.  It tragically burned down in 1980, but was restored to its full glory by June 1981.  From the carved wood to the silver dollars found throughout the hotel, including the 2,032 uncirculated Morgan silver dollars inlaid at the bar, this is my kind of old hotel.

Gorgeous historic stone entrance

2. Rancho de los Caballeros - Wickenburg, Arizona
Doesn't the name of this one just scream "western"?!  It's gorgeous Arizona desert beauty all the way around.  This is not your usual historic hotel - as their website proclaims, they're the "ranch resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast".  I'd sure like to try out their breakfast with the rising Arizona sun as a backdrop.

Beautiful western themed lobby

3. Old Edwards Inn & Spa - Highlands, North Carolina
Veering away from our western theme for a moment, I like the Old Edwards Inn for its old time European atmosphere.  I've always loved old stone buildings, so this one fits into the dream list nicely.  With a location like the Blue Ridge Mountains, how could you go wrong by staying here for a getaway weekend?

More stone - my favorite historic hotel building material

4. Hotel Ambassador - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Ok, this one probably doesn't rate as spectacular as the first 3 on my list, BUT Tulsa is not too far away, and I love the corner suites with their huge window views of the city.  This historic landmark hotel promises an easy weekend getaway (2 hours south of me) and it might actually be within a farm girl's budget!!

Opened in 1929 to provide upscale temporary housing for oil barons and their families while mansions were being built, it has gone through some tumultuous changes.  After the oil business decline, it became senior retirement housing, and then closed entirely in 1989.  Reopened in 1997, it underwent a $5.5 million renovation to restore it to its early day elegance.

Corner king deluxe - NICE!!

5. Manka's Inverness Lodge - Inverness, California
This one has been on my list for a LONG time.  If you've ever been to the Point Reyes area of northern California, then you'll agree with me about this area's haunting beauty. (Yes, I've stayed in the area, but never at Manka's!)

Photos of Manka's Inverness Lodge, Inverness
This photo of Manka's Inverness Lodge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I was devastated when I heard that Manka's 1910 hunting and fishing lodge was on fire in 2006.  The main lodge and restaurant burned to the ground; there are plans to rebuild, but my understanding is that they've still not been rebuilt.

However, one can still choose from 4 rooms in the annex, Manka's Cabin or Fishing Cabin, or one of two suites in the Boathouse on Tomales Bay. Manka's has all the trademark of a northern California getaway, with loads of 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor and other hotel rating websites.

So there you have it, my top five list of historic hotels I'd like to visit someday.

Tell me if you've already been to one of these grand places.  

Or tell me of another great historic place
that merits a mention on this list!

Two readers have already recommended the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego and "a wonderful b & b in Cape May".  C'mon, give us details please!!  :-)

And just in case you're in the market to BUY a truly vintage historic hotel, the Hotel Metlen in Montana is for sale - there's infinite renovation possibilities here!

Adieu to My Sweet Barred Rock Rooster

Happier Days in June with his barred rock "sisters"
Rooster on left, lighter color feathers
My barred rock rooster passed away early yesterday morning.  

I woke up at 5 a.m. and checked on him - he seemed fine.
When I woke at 8 a.m., he was gone.

I was home on Friday, and spent time with him.
He seemed happy when I sat and talked to him . 
I would get a few clucks in return. 

He fought a valiant fight, but whatever was ailing him
prevailed and finally took him on Saturday morning.

He was the most laid back of all 3 roosters
and I'm sad that he didn't make it.

This will always be the downside to farm life.

On a lighter note, the flock is better balanced now
One rooster, five hens.

Mark Your Calendar - Next Country Giveaway

Just a reminder, don't forget about the year's worth
of country giveaways coming your way.  

The next giveaway will start on September 1st, so watch your email inbox!

Wait a minute... you say you don't get
an email when I put up a new blog post?!

Well, it's really easy to remedy THAT situation. See that handy-dandy box in the right side column of my blog, right at the top there?

Just put your email in that box and click "submit", follow the instructions to confirm it's really YOUR email address, and you'll be ready for the next giveaway.

When you receive the email announcing the country giveaway on September 1st, simply hit "Reply", replace the subject line with "Enter me in your Country Giveaway" and you'll be entered.

Pretty darn easy-peasy, huh?

I'm not telling yet what the next giveaway item will be - it's a surprise!  It will be something good though, I promise.

It's safe to say it won't be a weekend at the Wort Hotel (my budget precludes "silver platter" hotels), unless the Wort Hotel wants to sponsor my next giveaway.   :-)

Also, watch for the upcoming list of my top five favorite
historic hotels that I would just DROOL to visit.
(Yes, the Wort is one of them!)

Farewell My Red Roo

The time finally came.  Red Roo had become over-the-top aggressive, so we needed to eliminate him from the chicken flock equation.

Upon my return from work late Thursday night, I checked on the birds like I always do. Within about 60 seconds of my entering the coop, Red Roo had hopped down off the nesting boxes to attack our barred rock rooster, who was quietly laying on the floor in front of the boxes.  When our buff orpington roo saw the commotion, he decided that Red Roo needed help and joined the fray.

Red Roo, shortly before his departure on Thursday
With nothing more than a mini-flashlight in my hand, I tried to beat Red Roo away.  He didn't seem to mind being beat with a small flashlight.  He probably thought, "is that all you got?"

Wouldn't that have made a great video?  I'm sure it would have been absolutely hysterical to watch me helplessly fend off a mad rooster.

Red Roo before his demise --
that's our buff rooster you hear crowing

When I finally managed to get both roosters off the poor barred rock boy, I still had to keep swinging my free arm to keep them away, while I attempted to pick up the barred rock who lay limp and lifeless on the floor of the coop.

I gently placed the barred rock on the separate side of the coop with the guineas, while I went to find our large dog crate - yes, the very same dog crate which had just been used for the injured hawk last weekend! I had already washed it and hubby had put it away in the garage.

Barred rock boy safe in his dog crate.
Don't let his small wattle fool you - we've watched him crow!
While I got him situated in the dog crate, the Red Roo decided to go at it some more and began attacking various hens, with the buff rooster helping him out again. I jumped to the other side of the coop again, yelling and flinging my flashlight at him.  Oh yes, I was so effective, I'm sure.

I think I even saw Red Roo roll his eyes and smirk at me.

I texted hubby, who was still at work, and told him the Red Roo's days had come to an end... yeah, who's smirking now, Red Roo?!

He was a major disruption in the flock and he had to go. This really did make me sad - but honestly, the hens (and us) got along fine with the other two roosters.

Hubby dispatched the Red Roo this morning.  

We were both sad, but even sadder that we didn't have the time to scald & pluck & cut him up to serve as dinner.  

I mean, really, that would have been ideal, and respectful of his existence.  But with our work times bearing down upon us, we didn't have time to do all that - with our newbie chicken status, it would have taken us longer than the average farmer.   

Psssst: Hubby HAS done this before, it's just been a long time. 
I'm the real newbie here!

The barred rock has been sitting quietly in the dog crate on our indoor back porch since last night.  I don't see any visible injuries - perhaps he has brain damage.  I say that half-jokingly, but then, you really never know, do you? 

I had noticed earlier in the week that he seemed quieter than usual, laying around a bit more.  When I checked on the birds Monday night, their waterer was cocked at an odd angle, and all the water had spilled out onto the floor.

That was my first clue (DUH) that there was tension in the flock.

When I put him back into the coop tomorrow, I think we'll keep him with the guineas and let him free-range.  No sense tempting the fates.  There are only 6 hens with the buff orpington rooster - the "books" all say there should be just one rooster to every 10 hens.

When we realized we had 3 roosters,
we knew we had a bomb just waiting to explode.

Reminder to self:
Buying all pullets does NOT guarantee you won't get any roosters. 
It does guarantee you'll pay more for your chickens.

Next on our to-do list:  Why is one guinea hen limping??!!

Help. Our birds have overtaken our lives.

P.S.  Next time we have an errant rooster, we will put him in the dog crate to await Saturday or Sunday when we can properly butcher him.   :-)

Here We Go Again... New Guinea Eggs to Incubate!

Yep, a fresh clutch of eggs was found by my husband 15 minutes  before I needed to leave for work yesterday!

While he quickly ran to get the incubator (which was finally re-boxed and re-homed to the garage on Sunday) I grabbed a cardboard egg container, lined it with kleenex and ran out near the horses' pen to grab as many eggs as I could.

I left the eggs in the guest bedroom for the night, where they would be stored around 70 degrees or so.

This morning I will add 18 eggs (or more?) to the warm incubator and we'll wait 23-28 days and see what happens with this bunch.

Maybe this time, we'll end up with more than just 2 keets.

Hmmmm, maybe this is going to become a side business. :-)

The Injured Hawk's Story

First, thank you for everyone who left tips on who I should contact to help with the injured hawk.  I also did mucho internet research and ended up finding various resources.

I called and left messages for 1) a nature center 15 miles away, 2) a wildlife rescue group in Claremore, Oklahoma and 3) a wildlife rehab gal who I found through the Oklahoma Parks website.

I talked to answering machines at #1 and #2.  At #3, I talked to the gal's husband, who said she was out feeding animals - he would have her call me when she came in the house.  Neither #1, #2, nor #3 ever returned my calls.

But thanks to fellow Kansan Moonshadow's recommendation, the hawk finally had a skilled rescuer to help him out!  The Eagle Valley Raptor Center in Cheney, Kansas, came to our aid.

When looking for a rescue group to help me, I also used my Peterson's bird book to try to identify the hawk.  I narrowed it down to a juvenile red-tailed hawk based on the description in the book and what our rescued hawk looked like.  I was curious to find out if I was right, or what type of hawk he was.

When we connected with Ken Lockwood from the raptor center just east of Cheney, he confirmed my guess was correct and he added that it was a young male.  Since I'm no bird person, I was pretty excited that I guessed it right!  My really cool Peterson's bird book comes through again

Ken reached into our dog carrier to retrieve the hawk without gloves or blanket or towel.  He just reached in to grab him and the hawk did not resist.  Needless to say, I had my heavy duty ranch gloves on every time I was in close proximity to the hawk.  That was a sharp beak and those talons looked like steel to me.  I wish I would have got a better photo showing his talons, which were incredible!

Not the best photo to showcase his talons - click to enlarge
Ken confirmed he had a broken wing, and that it was broke up near the shoulder where it connects to the hawk's body.  Not a good place for a break.  Ken was taking the bird to a vet following our meeting - I can only hope the bird had a good outcome.  I emailed Ken the next morning asking how things went, but I have not heard back from him.

Between helping the keet hatch from his egg a week and a half ago, and now this, I do think I'm becoming more comfortable with animal/wildlife rescue situations.  Oh, and there was that barn owl a few years back that became entangled in fly tape in our shop - click here to check out THAT story.

And life goes on.  Another week, another opportunity just around the corner.  Right?

And Now.... I Have Saved A Hawk {good grief!!}

It would seem that life is literally THROWING opportunities at me to step "out of my comfort zone".  I found this injured hawk less than 1/4 mile from our home tonight.

He has an injured wing, and he is now residing in a dog crate carrier on top of my kitchen table.  I tried to capture him, but the towel I had in my car wasn't large enough to throw over him, so I left the carrier on the side of the road and ran home to get a bigger blanket.

When I returned he was in the carrier, obviously seeking shade from the extreme 100-degree temps.  So he made my job a lot easier!

I'm waiting for a wildlife person to {hopefully} return the message I left at a local nature center.  If he doesn't return my call, or worse, if he does and says he can't take the hawk, I honestly do not know what I am going to do.

He's sleeping - one very tired bird

If anyone has suggestions, I am all ears.