Losing Cook Dollar Barn was one of the worst experiences we have lived through. It wasn’t just a store; it was an important social hub for the Pajari Girls, and our little town, too. Every day, the list of people and things we miss gets longer. And when people told us that there must be something even better around the corner, we KNEW they were lying.
Now, we are headed back. Back in “A“ Barn, if not “The Barn”.
So here’s the scoop: barring zoning, insurance or licensing issues, Her Highness The Queen of Poo (Lois) is hoping to open the Peterson family homestead as a petting farm/ event location this summer! Can we get a whoop whoop??
I am very nervous around poultry. (See “Guinea Monsters From Hell”) And I used to hate cooking. So this Martha Stewart-esque-ness is new to me. I have been growing, canning, cooking, drying and freezing food a lot more the last few years. Now, being unemployed AND on the Low Child Support Diet has encouraged me to do even more, and to do it better. It’s been a slow process, and many people have contributed along the way. Here are two that I remember.
One of my favorite bloggers is Jackie Clay. (Check her out here. Chop chop!) We are lucky to have this awesome lady in our community, and I have learned so much from her books and blogs about living off the land in this area code. I subscribed to her blog for several months before I even attempted canning on my own.
I vaguely remember Anthony Bourdain saying that the poorest people had the best-tasting food, because their seasonings could make even the cheapest cuts of meat and other ingredients taste good. That’s when I started growing herbs, tomatoes, etc. in containers and finally a garden.
As I mentioned, I am scared of live poultry; however, they are delicious, especially roasted with organic herbs that we grew here on the hill. Growing rosemary, sage, celery leaf, red onion, garlic and thyme makes me happy. So as long I have Lois and Jill next door to raise chickens, I will cook them.
By the way, does anyone know why when they are alive they are hens & roosters, but as soon as the heads come off they are just chicken?? Same with cows, bulls, steers, heifers, and beef… What the hell?
I believe it’s important to know where our food comes from. I like that the chicken (fka: rooster) was grass-fed next door, not in a cramped factory “farm.”
And better yet, the next day I made the leftovers into soup and paired it with homemade bread. Note to self: next year, grow a LOT more carrots and potatoes. As far as fast, cheap and easy goes….it was super cheap and really easy…two out of three isn’t bad.
PS: Thank you Ant, for the title! You’re right; Rooster Noodle Soup sounds way better than Chicken Noodle Soup.
What you are about to read is a true story. I couldn’t make this stuff up. Okay… I could. But I didn’t.
After an un-Minnesota-like (no snow or rain), pleasant evening of trick-or-treating, The Boy and I hurried home to light our Jack-O-Lanterns and relax a little. The Barn was crazy busy the last few days with people getting ready for Halloween, and I was pooped. As I came back into the house, talking to my boyfriend on the phone, Danny came running out of the living room, Wii remote in hand.
“Mom!!!! There’s a BAT in the house!!” I thought he was kidding. Any self-respecting bat should be hunkered down for the sub-zero temperatures that are on the way. And I have a few fake bats hanging around as Halloween decorations; maybe that’s what he saw. Just then a flying rodent swooped past my big purple witch hat.
“Holyshitgottagoloveyabye!” I told Paul.
I’m pretty sure he replied, “Holy Criminy!” because I talk enough like a trucker for both of us.
Everything I know about bats flashed through my mind. Later, while researching this post, I found a short, sweet article by the MN DNR about Living with Bats. My favorite line is: “Actually, bats are proficient flyers and can easily catch insects while avoiding people.” Good to know. Very reassuring. It’s one thing to know this intellectually, and another to remember it while one is flying around one’s house while the cat and the kid are freakin’ out. On Halloween.
Yes, I know bats make Minnesota summers less miserable by eating billions of mosquitoes, don’t want to suck my blood, won’t get caught in my hair or big purple witch hat, rarely have rabies, that they are a valuable part of the ecosystem, blah blah blah. That’s why we don’t shoot or otherwise try to kill them on sight.
I also found an informative WordPress blog written by MN Wild Animal Management, a company from The Cities (aka Mpls/St. Paul if you are not from the Midwest). Please read this BEFORE you have a bat in your house. They gave great advice, but were too far away to remove this particular bat.
“If you do encounter a bat flying in a room, follow this procedure:
Shut all doors leading into other rooms to confine the bat to as small an area as possible.
Open all windows and doors leading outside to give the bat a chance to escape. (Don’t worry about other bats flying in from the outside.)
Remove pets from the room, leave the lights on, stand quietly against a wall or door, and watch the bat until it leaves.
Do not try to herd the bat toward a window. Just allow it to calmly get its bearings, and don’t worry about it swooping at you. When indoors, a bat makes steep, banking turns, so it flies upwards as it approaches a wall and swoops lower near the center of the room. Within ten to fifteen minutes the bat should settle down, locate the open door or window, and fly out of the room.”
The Pajarigirl Procedure for Bat Removal, however, went a little differently…
Snag cat as he races by after bat.
Toss cat gently into bathroom and close the door.
Tell boy to join the cat in the bathroom.
Catch cat again when it escapes through open bathroom door.
Wait for bat to fly back out of bathroom.
Reassure child that even though it’s Halloween, this is not a vampire bat.
Toss cat and boy into bathroom and slam the door.
Open both outside doors, and wait for bat to come out of boy’s room.
While standing in doorway to living room, don’t duck, and explain to bat that you are not that kind of witch; he needs to leave, there’s the door. Use big purple witch hat to block entrance to living room and encourage exit through kitchen door.
After bat escapes, shut both outside doors before letting cat and kid out of bathroom.
I had assumed that since we have had snow on the ground, the bats were hibernating. Looking back, I should have known better. The Guinea Monsters From Hell are still finding plenty to eat, very close to my house. Bats and Guinea Hens both eat bugs, and even though the nights have been cold, and I haven’t had a mosquito bite in weeks, there are still enough bugs around to keep their predators alive. I even killed a mosquito a few days ago while brushing snow off the Jack-O-Lanterns. Point taken, Mother Nature.
These ghosts made out of chicken wire were one of my first discoveries on Pinterest. I messed around with chicken wire for the Dancing Ghost Bride, and it was trickier than I thought it would be. They are beautiful, ethereal, and I want to make four of them at least, using real pajarigirls for the forms. I’d love to have the whole backyard filled with non-creepy dead people in foofy dresses.
Finding the original source has been tricky, and this is as close as I’ve gotten:
Poultry scares the living crap outta me. Too many negative experiences with geese, turkeys, roosters, and chickens as a child, I guess. (Did you know that chickens are the closest living relative to the T-Rex???) It’s not that an angry Charolais mama cow or a Belgian draft horse in training aren’t unnerving…but they can’t FLY. They don’t have creepy, naked, talon-y feet and BEAKS. They are too big to really sneak up on a girl.
My sister the Shrew tried to adopt two 3 year-old guinea hens from our friend Jacqueline in August. Or maybe one is a hen and one’s a rooster…whatever. That lasted all of about 15 minutes. In her defense, she thought they were properly contained, and Jai, the Ginormous White Slobbering Dog created a diversion by running off into the woods. While BigGuy (Shrew’s husband), the Shrew, Danny Boy and I were running/driving around the neighborhood looking for Jai, GusGus (Walli the Corgi’s little brother) evicted them from the barn.
After a night or two we were pretty sure a fox, coyote, wolf or logging truck had done them in. I was relieved, to say the least. Birds are FOOD, not friends. Then neighbor Elsie called Lois to ask if she was missing some funny-looking, big, gray and white birds. Neighbors always call Lois when strange creatures appear at their homes. (Itchy the pony was under Barb’s deck once, and the big horses went to Cook for coffee years ago.)
Lois rounded up a posse of friends and their children, complete with a roll of netting and landing nets. After a good bit of whining, I went to observe only. I had a gun, just in case, but didn’t really want to shoot the birds in front of other people’s children.
It ended up being a moot point; Guineas are like the Harrier aircraft we saw at the airshow this year– they can take off straight up. And then they blend like ninjas into the northern MN swamp. I was pretty sure they would make their way to my house, to eat me in my sleep.
Over the next few weeks, they were spotted at three other neighbors’ houses. All attempts at capture were futile. At one point, Lois & Co. even tried guns and mirrors (Guineas are notoriously vain). She briefly had them back at the Funny Farm, locked in a horse trailer, hoping they would learn The Farm was now home. No good; they were back at Lori and Steve’s not a week later.
Just when I was hoping Mother Nature had disposed of them for me, I got a Facebook message from yet ANOTHER neighbor. We tried to give her the fowl for her birthday, but she didn’t buy it. Smart woman.
As soon as the neighbors saw that we would shoot them if we had to, to make the neighborhood safe, they decided the Guinea Fowl weren’t so bad. “What’s a little bird poo, weird noises, roosting on vehicles, and feathers compared to the benefits of the birds?” they asked. So they eat ticks. Yay. Ticks are gross, and deer ticks spread Lyme’s Disease. Eat ’em all, I say, but stay away from my house. I will spray us all with DEET instead. And keep the lawn mowed. Maybe even build a moat.
Why did the Guinea Monsters cross the road? Apparently Neighbor Carol feeds them and they like the company of her chickens. She LIKES them. Thinks they are cute, even. They come when she calls. I think we were all pretty ok with Prickles and Eggo (yes, Lois let Anthony name them-makes it even harder to shoot them.) living out their creepy birdy lives across the road.
But they like to roam.
What is GF Peaches looking at? Guinea Monsters in my Great Aunt Emily’s Rugosa roses. IN. MY. FRONT. YARD.
There is one other redeeming quality that has kept them alive thus far: they run like hell from me. Even when I’m not actually chasing them.
Today, however, I see that they dug up the sage I planted.
I know, I know, they didn’t actually damage the plant-they were just looking for bugs. But still. Poultry. Right next to my house. Sort of messing with my plants.
I wonder how long they would need to be in the slow-cooker to get rid of the gamey taste…
Very nice, informative article here. They really are great for gardening, if you can get over the whole bird thing. Feel free to post recipes, if not.
So my sister and I were sitting by the bonfire tonight, talking about all the by-products we use from The Funny Farm (now Cook’s Country Connection), and naturally the talk turned to poo. Her critters produce a LOT of it. And since we are both avid gardeners, this is a good thing. The trouble is, all poo is not created equal. Thus, I decided to share an overview of the poo we fertilize with, and why. (Please note: NPK is the amount of Nitrogen, Phosporus, and Potassium in fertilizer. Most synthetic fertilizer is 20, 10,5. However, we prefer the organic, homegrown type that comes from all the critters. It takes a bigger volume of fertilizer, but it’s worth it. And free. And we have to something with all that poo!)
Horse/Donkey Poo: Little Bit, Itchy, Squirt, Toby and Jack eat a LOT. Horses are less-efficient at digesting than other farm animals, so they poo a lot, too. Cleaning up after them often requires a front-end loader and a strong back. That’s why I usually just supervise. Horse and donkey poo is “hot”, meaning it’s high in nitrogen and can burn plants if not aged or composted. (The average NPK for horses is .7, .30, .60.) Also, weeds can be an issue with horse poo, since a lot of the seeds pass right on through. However, every equine on the place is an eating machine, so there are large quantities of horse poo available.
Rabbit Poo: Zip the bunny was easy to litterbox train–unfortunately he had a tendency to chew on things he shouldn’t. Like wiring. Therefore, his accomodations were upgraded to an indoor-outdoor hutch with a wrap-around porch. Bunnies usually poo in the corner farthest from their food, so collecting rabbit poo is easy. The average NPK is 2.4, 1.4, .6. Bunny poo is already pelletized, so it’s convenient, too! And it’s safe to put directly around plants, like llama beans…no need to compost first. Luckily, Lois brought home another bunny today from our friend Diane 🙂
Worm Poo: I love composting! Two summers ago, our high school math/science teacher, Mrs. Ann Bidle, had a worm bin as part of a class project. When the project was over, she gave me the worms and bin 🙂 Most people know that earthworms are excellent for the garden. They aerate the soil, break down organic matter, and add vital good bacteria that helps plants grow bigger faster. I spread the castings from my worm bins around two of my apple trees this spring, and they are literally weighed down to the ground with pie apples. My lilacs love castings, too. I also add excess worms to my regular compost bins and piles to get things moving faster. If you want more info on vermiculture, check out this blog: http://www.redwormcomposting.com/getting-started/. Average NPK varies greatly depending on what worms are fed.
Llama Beans & Alpaca Poo: Talk about the perfect organic fertilizer! It’s compact, has very little smell, releases nutrients slowly, can be added directly to the garden, is easy to collect (they tend to go in a few central locations), and face it- Jill, Belle, Madelyn and Maddox are just plain fun to be around. The underbites and humming alone are priceless.
Check out this Nicotiana I started from seed and transplanted to the flower bed that had llama beans. It’s easily twice the size of the others I started and placed elsewhere. The average NPK for llamas is 1.5, .2, 1.1.
WITH llama beans…
Dog/Cat Poo: Unfortunately, dog and cat poo are NOT good for much. Never use pet waste in gardens or compost. (Assuming you have normal pets ie: cat, dog, rodent, etc.) If you know something we don’t, please let us know. The big dogs alone weigh close to 300 pounds, so you can just imagine the sheer volume of poo they produce.
As you can see, using poo for fertilizer is not only good gardening…it’s a way of life on The Funny Farm. Any questions? Ask Lois…she is FULL of poo In fact, she’s the Queen of Poo. True story! Google it and see!!