Archives for February 2011


There's a great coffee shop in Lexington where Amanda goes to school called Third Street Stuff that is pretty funky and has this great graffiti wall outside. Amanda and I love to go there when I'm visiting. There's this great little gift shop in the front of the store that has the most peculiar things.

Chow Mein’s Broody

This is Chow Mein. She is a Black Tailed White Japanese bantam chicken that my friend Sue gave to me. I just love her. She’s a pure white with a beautiful black-tipped tail that stands very erect.

A bantam chicken means that she is a small variety. They lay tiny eggs that aren’t even the size of a standard “large” egg. I use two bantam eggs to equal one normal egg, I have had great experiences with Bantam chickens and love their small stature. Some of my favorite chickens have been bantams.

She is a survivor. When my goats left for their summer “goatcation” at my friend Kelly’s house while I went to Wyoming for the summer last year, my entire flock was killed within a week by either a fox or a raccoon. We don’t know what it is about the goats; whether they physcially ward off predators or just their scent keeps the local predators at bay, but since I’ve gotten my goats my predator loss has been zero; an unexpected bonus that I’d never heard about.

Somehow during this massacre Chow Mein was the only one to survive. We didn’t know this at the time though. My daughter, Amanda, who was home working for the summer, saw her several times over a couple of weeks but never was able to catch her to feed or contain her. Jim saw her once or twice as well but never for long. When I returned to Connecticut at the end of August I got several calls from neighbors that she’d been spotted right around the corner regularly. Sure enough, she had made her new home in the wooded area of a neighbor’s yard. Somehow she had survived two months completely on her own and was looking quite well. We tried every few days to capture her, but every time we tried, she would fly way up into a tree completely out of reach. Now chickens don’t really have a lot of flight capabilities and are technically considered flightless birds. They can catch a little air and fly very short distances, but Chow Mein was really flying (for a chicken) a great distance — high into the trees at night to avoid predator attack. It was really quite remarkable.

Although the goats had returned I did not yet have any chickens and thought I would just leave her be until I got some new ones. Shortly after my return I did find about 9 adolescent chickens that somebody was looking to get rid of. Once I had them settled in my kids and I went over to her new wooded home and after lots of running around and tree climbing I did manage to catch her and bring her back home. I really thought that it would take several days of her leaving to go back to the woods before she settled back into her coop, but she seemed more than delighted to be back with a flock and rarely leaves the confines of the fenced area. Nor does she let her diminutive size let her get pushed around; she completely holds her ground with the big girls.

Recently Chow Mein has become “broody”, which means that she wants to hatch some eggs. Now this is a natural thing for chickens to do, but I haven’t had too many that get broody. One of my favorite other bantam chickens, Mrs. Pocket, was also an extremely broody girl.

Unfortunately, because we don’t have a rooster, our eggs are not fertile. Chow Mein could sit on these eggs forever and they will never hatch into chicks. She doesn’t know this though. Anytime she lays an egg she gathers it into her “clutch”, and any time any other chicken lays an egg she rolls it right under her and adds it to the clutch. This afternoons count had it up to 13 eggs. Now a bantam chicken is not capable of laying on 13 bantam sized eggs, let alone a mixture of bantam eggs and full-size hen eggs. This does not seem to deter her though.

Chow Mein is collecting every egg laid in the coop and trying to stuff them under her little bantam body without much success.

I moved her off of them to much cooing protest today just to show you how many eggs she it attempting to cover.

That's a lot of eggs!

Once I let her go she gently rolls them all back under her as best she can.

She gently rolls them back under her.

I don't know how she's managing it, but somehow she's covering all 13 eggs.

It’s breaking my heart to know that all of this setting will produce no chicks. I got on eBay yesterday and managed to find some Japanese Bantam eggs that I won. When they arrive I will take these eggs out from under her and replace them with the fertile ones. It will be so much fun to see her with her hatch her own little chicks!


Sheep Wool

I bought my first spinning wheel today! I though a close up of a sheep's wool I took at an agricultural fair I attended seemed appropriate to honor that occasion.

North Carolina Hillside

I took this photo one night during our dinner break at the Learning to Spin Yarn Class. There's nothing spectacular about the setting, but the light was beautiful and I thought it was really pretty.

A Celebration

This is a picture of my butt.

Now there’s nothing extraordinary about my butt. What is extraordinary about this picture of my butt is that they are wearing size 8 jeans. I haven’t seen a pair of size 8 jeans in awhile now.

To celebrate fitting my fat ass into a pair of size 8 jeans again I bought this pair of butt-kicking new cowboy boots.

I love them!


The View

I took my first western riding lesson EVER outside the state of Wyoming today. It was also the first western lesson ever by someone other than my friends Randy or Terry. It went well and India and I had fun. In looking through my photos tonight though and deciding which photo to post, this one reminded me of all the reasons I love riding in Wyoming so much. Those amazing views.

Autumn Soup

I’ve been cooking since I could stand on a stool and reach the stovetop. My first love was always, and still is, baking.

My parents divorced when I was 8 and my father got full-time custody of me and my sister. He was a carpenter, so while he worked full-time, he left early and was home by 4:30 or so. We generally shared the cooking responsibilities.

My stepmom  brought this recipe over to me a few months ago. She had actually just made it and thought I might enjoy seeing it in it’s original form that I had written up for her so many years ago (like probably 38 years ago!). Please notice how I spelt autumn on the recipe. Judging from the spelling in the recipe and the quality of the quality of the handwriting I’d say I was probably 10 or 11 When I wrote this down for her. I don’t remember if this is a recipe that I made up — it’s kind of hard to imagine that at that age I had that capability, but I cannot give credit if credit is due here since it was so long ago. You can see that the recipe has been well-used.

I have actually several times over the past few years thought of this soup, as it was a regular in our house as kids, but never seemed to find a recipe on the internet that tasted quite the same.

I made this last night, and I did make some revisions to the recipe from its original form. In the end though it tasted just as delicious as I remembered it to be. It’s a really easy soup to put together, I got enough to make two meals for a family of 5 for dinner and even though there’s lots of veggies in it, the kids still love it. Well, India’s so picky she complained a bit, but she complains about any new food. It’s a great weeknight family meal. It’s pretty quick and easy to prepare, makes a lot, and served with a slice of crusty french bread it makes a delicious meal.

Autumn Soup

An original recipe by Crafty Farm Girl © 2011
Yield: 8-10 services

2 pounds ground beef 85%-87% lean works best
1 cup finely diced yellow or spanish onion
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced celery
1 1/2 cups idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
1 28 oz. can petite-diced tomatoes with the juice
2 35 oz. containers low-sodium beef broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated pepper
2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet (can usually be found by the worsteshire sauce or gravy at the grocers)
2 cups water

Wait – I forgot the celery in the first shot as it was in the sink to be washed.

Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning to cook evenly a few times, until cooked through but not browned. Drain in a colander.

While the beef is browning put the diced tomatoes, beef broth, water, salt, pepper & Kitchen Bouquet into a large stockpot on medium heat and bring to a boil.

Add the drained ground beef, diced onion, carrots, celery & potatoes to the stockpot.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for approximately 30-45 minutes on low heat until the potatoes and veggies have been cooked though.

Delicious. Homey. Simple.

If you try it, let me know what you think. A great quick and easy meal.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Nest Building

I took this photo last April when we visited Costa Rica. I watched this bird for a long time. He was very methodically gathering a large pile of what I assumed to be nesting materials. I wish I could have seen how he was going to take that whole pile somewhere and make a nest with it when he was done collecting.

J. Carpenter & Co. Part II

For anybody’s that been following me for awhile, you may recall that last June I finally got my husband to move out of his home “office” and into his new office space right here in our town. I did all of the decorating in the space and some of the design. It was a fun project and Jim is really pleased with the results. If you want to check it out again click here.

Just to give a quick update on his space, the conference room table did finally arrive on it’s slow boat from Africa (literally), and when paired with the bright green leather chairs that I fought hard for and the orange walls it really is a stunning conference room. The table was Jim’s choice. It’s made of antique South African hardwood railroad ties and it is so heavy it took 4 professional movers to get it up the stairs. Honestly we were glad the building was made with cement floors or the thing might go crashing through to the 1st floor it’s so heavy.

And much to my astonishment I.T. is still alive! Jim was mad at me when I bought him as the company mascot but I think everyone has grown quite fond of him.

His office is located on the second floor of a fairly new building in town and when you walked out of the elevator you exited into this large square hall with a smaller hallway off to the left. It was completely empty; there wasn’t a stick of furniture in it or a piece of art on the walls. It looked terrible and was unwelcoming. When he first complained about it I bought 3 little pieces to put under the window so it wasn’t completely barren, but it still looked pretty bad.

Jim got together with the other two companies that share the space and they decided on a budget to decorate the hall. Somehow I got appointed decorator. I didn’t want the job. I didn’t need the job. Lord knows I have enough to do already. And I wasn’t getting paid to do the job. When he first asked me to do it I thought he just meant a trip or two to Home Goods and throw some pieces around. But when they got together to discuss it the budget was actually pretty decent. Not decent enough that I could spend wildly, but decent enough that I could make it look pretty good I thought. The only condition I had was that there would be no “approval process”. I would do it and all choices would be mine and if they didn’t like it too bad, they could return it all and hire someone else.

If I had known how time consuming the job would actually become I would have turned it down flat.

I did let Jim choose from 3 pieces the main hallway table that you saw right as you exited the elevator. Based on his choice I decorated around that piece. It’s kind of a modern/asian theme I guess. I couldn’t seen to get a great shot with the afternoon light, but this is what that space looks like now.

This is what it looked like when you were facing the elevator. Jim’s office entry is on the left and the smaller hallway shoots off on the right in the middle of this square entryway. That’s my dad. He graciously agreed to help me pick up and deliver all of the Home Goods pieces with his pickup truck. He’s too old to be doing this stuff anymore. He kept saying “Three Men & A Truck, that’s what they’re for.” Poor dad.

This is what it looks like to the left of the elevator now by the entrance to Jim’s office.

By entry into J. Carpenter & Co.

And this is what it looks like to the right of the elevator.

This was what the smaller hallway leading down to the other offices looked like before.

And this is what it looks like now.

This piece of art (can you call it art when you buy it at Home Goods?) was in the clearance section. I’d actually noticed it there for a long time because it was so unusual and textural. It had some damage to it though, but I thought I could fix it. I did and you can’t even tell anymore. It’s a great piece right over the water fountain.

This is at the very end of the hall centered right in a doorway leading to a smaller hall with the fire exit in it. All of this stuff was from Home Goods and I loved it. I would put that hutch in my own home in a heartbeat.

Actually, everything in this hallway with the exception of the circles mirror is from Home Goods. If you go there regularly you can really get some amazing stuff.

So I’m happy to say that my work at J. Carpenter & Co. is now done. I’m pleased with the results and delighted that it’s over.


This is Jet. He was Jive's corral-mate at Puzzleface Ranch. I love the reflection of me taking the photo in his eye.