Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Bobs Update

And now for some updates from Bob - The Farmer, The Cook, The Writer, The Grandpa, The Traveler and The One Who Wants to be Healthy...

The chicken coop is complete and the chickens have been transferred to the new enclosure. Of course, they weren't too happy with the idea of being moved but now, with the chicken run available, I think they're getting acclimated to the new home.

Yes, the younger ones are still terrified and intimated by the larger hens but when the 8 brown hens go out into the yard, the little brown and white ones run wild in the coop, eating and drinking.

Sure, go ahead and think I'm crazy. Every time the little ones attempt or think of coming out of the coop, one of the crazy (what my sons call her) hens goes flying up in their face, pushing them back into the coop.  At least it has been that way for the last two day.

Tonight! Tonight was a day of liberation for the little ones. One of them (I think it is the one my granddaughter named "Snow") strolled out onto the ramp. The crazy hen came fluttering up and it just jumped down into the yard. Shortly thereafter, two more joined the first one.  So, in the end, there was five little ones out in the yard with the eight bigger hens.  That means that there were still five more little hens inside plus two very BIG meat chickens.  Those two are so huge they can barely walk and - sorry, folks, but they will be butchered this week.

The remaining eighteen hens will be allowed to mature to lay eggs... which should start maybe in late June or mid-July.  When all eighteen start laying, the possibility of eighteen eggs a day is a fact, BUT, more than likely, it will be more like about twelve to fifteen eggs a day.  Still, seven to ten dozen eggs per week is more than I can use.  Notice I didn't say eat.  Plain eggs or heavy egg items and I don't get along. Fried eggs, hard/soft boiled eggs, eggnog, even eggs in potato salad - I become sulfuric - and trust me, you don't want to be around.

So, as my neighbor stated, get that sign-up and out there when eggs are available and he'll be over to get farm-fresh eggs.  He said I'll have a thriving egg business in no time.  He was checking out my coop and said I may want to enlarge the chicken area and cut back my shed share of the building.  He thinks I should up the ante to about thirty hens. Hm? Maybe he likes eggs?

Also, as Farmer Bob, my plants I started inside are coming along fantastically. My tomato plants are growing even larger and I will probably need to transplant them to five-inch pots this coming week. The geraniums are getting big, as are the petunias and impatiens... but I think I may be able to keep the last two in the current pots, the geraniums might need bigger pots.

Yesterday I planted two rows of peas out in the garden. Hopefully, they will do better this year than they did last year, but still, last year was really nice.  I mean, a full gallon of peas to freeze. I don't know how many of you are familiar with "Tater Tot Casserole" but those fresh frozen peas tasted absolutely wonderful in the casseroles during the winter. Here's a quick recipe from Cooking Bob:

1 lb ground beef, 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or celery or chicken), 2 cups frozen peas, cheese slices (cheddar or Colby) and a bag of frozen tater tots.  We do NOT cook the beef prior.

Set oven to temperature for tater tots - usually about 400.
1) Spread the beef thinly on bottom of 9x12 pan.
2) Spread soup across the beef (do NOT add water)
3) Spread frozen peas on top of soup
4) Put slices of cheese to cover entire pan
5) Place tater tots in a layer. (my sons line them up for easy cutting, but...)
6) Bake as directed for tater tots, about 30-35 mins.
7) Cut and serve.
NOTE: Use a clear glass dish the first time so you can see if the meat has cooked properly. Some people prefer to crumble and fry the beef with diced onions prior to layering - your option.

Now, as Writer Bob, it has been very good the last couple of weeks. My latest book, "At Death's Doors" has done well on Amazon. Sales skyrocketed at its initial release sending my book into Amazon's top 100.  Writer Bob has really been busy this past week working on an old novel, rewriting "The Treasure Within" which is more of a literary work than my usual fantasy or horror genre. I've been making myself accountable to another author friend for word counts. LOL. And she has been making herself accountable to me for her word counts.  Great incentive, eh?

And Grandpa Bob had a fabulous time last weekend celebrating three birthdays: one granddaughter, Keeley, turned 6 while her sibling twins, Jaxson and Mikayla, turned one. It was a fun party because, as Grandpa, I got to see ALL my grandkids and a lot of their friends. Party! Party! Party!

Now, for Health Bob - not so good. I can't seem to lose any weight. And my sugar has been all over the place.  I'm trying to get it all under control.  Maybe I just need to toss out what the doctor and dietitian want me to eat and go back to my diet I was on back in December which dropped my A1C from 10.3 to 7.2 and my weight from 268 to 240.  The diet they have me on, I now weight 251  HUH?  What part of losing weight and blood sugar control don't they understand?

Trying something new - I was told to be interactive with my audience. So, now I will ask you a simple question.  Not everyone is a writer, nor a farmer, nor grandparent, or a health expert. So exactly what kind of question can I ask that everyone can participate with?

You're going on a simple trip, call it a day trip. Where would you go? What would you see? Why would it be fun? And how much would it cost?

Does that sound like a silly question?  Not really.  My wife and I like to travel and sometimes we miss those little "secret" places that only the locals know about.  We've stumbled onto a few of them, especially one in Iowa, one in New York on Long Island, a few up in Michigan, a couple over in Indiana, and some in Ohio. Well, actually I wish I could remember the one in California and the other in -- I think -- Arizona? It can be a campground, a scenic view, a landmark, whatever.

So, tell Bob The Traveler about your favorite hideaway.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Aw, Crap!

Even the best laid plans go awry.  Oh, how true.

I am attempting to get a chicken coop built.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has gone right.  The weather was beautiful and we started the project by getting the platform and some of the wood. We covered it and it has been covered more than uncovered.  My boys can only work on it during the weekends and they are limited weekends due to their jobs.  So we've had two great weekends, one they were able to get a little work done, the other they had to do mandatory overtime. Almost every other weekend has been crappy.  This weekend was no different - okay, a little different. A mere fifty miles away in Toledo, they got over six (6) inches of snow!!  We got about two (2) inches mixed with ice.  Whoo-hoo?  To finish the coop, we need to finalize the roof with shingles and finish the north wall and add one more stud to that north wall to match the south wall so we can put in a retainer wall to keep the chickens on one side and I get to have a small storage shed on the other side.  PLUS, I have to build an outdoor enclosure which needs to be all protective.  It will be a hoop-type enclosure with fencing going over the hoop and across the bottom on the floor so any invasive critters can't get to my chickens.  We have eagles from the top, and cats, foxes, opossums, skunks, stray dogs and yes, even coyotes in the area.  I've even heard a bobcat with tracks in my backyard and rumors have it that there is a cougar and bear that roam the outlands where I live - although I haven't seen them - YET.  The joke around here at the current time is:  The hens will be laying eggs before the coop is done.  Just so you understand the joke - it takes a chick to an egg-laying hen - about 5 months.  Jeesh! I hope my coop gets done before that!!

I wanted to plant my peas in the garden.  My hope was this coming week.  Obviously, with the snow and ice this weekend, my plans are going to be delayed a tad.  In fact, my hope to weed and cultivate the garden is being delayed with all the rain we've had of late.  About the time the ground gets perfect for me to work it, it rains... or snows!

Farmer Bob is getting frustrated... need I say more?

Traveling Bob wants to work on his RV, but again, the weather has not cooperated.  Who wants to go outside and work in a cold RV.  I mean, the temps have been freezing.  Yes, I could "heat" the RV but why should I do that?  April is supposed to be a nice month.  Remember?  March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  April brings May flowers.  March sucked and so far, April seems like a "Ground Hog Day" rerun of March.  Come on warm weather!!

Writing Bob released a new book. Finally!  The collection of stories has been released.  Yes, the one which I had you help me decide the cover.  It did great the first few days out - reaching #35 in anthologies and even up to position 52K on Amazon.  If you're curious about this book...

I was asked just how scary the book was. Hm? It is not a blood, guts and gore type collection. I tend to write more "light" horror - I like to play with your mind, the psychological horror. Somebody told me it was more "Twilight Zone" type stories.  Whatever.  It deals with death and its myriad aspects, so it don't fall under the romance, western or Christian genres!

Oh, while I'm discussing crappy.  I went to the doctor and dietitian this past week. Hm? They weren't upset by my almost ten (10) pound gain.  Hey!  I was!!  Seems I'd given in to despair and given up my diet.  Too many all-you-can-eat buffets and not watching what I was eating, including all those fabulous Lent fish frys.  I'm not Catholic but I love fish frys and look so forward to the Lenten season splurge of local fish frys at almost every organization.  Especially those which offer all-you-can-eat fish!  So, there are repercussions to eating like this - and I gained almost 10 pounds.  Now I need to get back on the bandwagon and be assertive in my goal to lose some weight.  Due to the weight-gain I've noticed my blood sugar increase.  Everything is interrelated.  So I lose weight, my blood sugar will come down and with a little luck, I'll begin the spiral back up to a healthy body instead of the horrible spiral down into oblivion of fat despair.

On an up note - last weekend I had my #1, #2 and #4 sons and their families to visit me and we had a lot of fun.  I enjoyed the antics of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  The 6 yr olds kept wanting to play outside, eventho it was close to freezing but sunny.  The twins who are just learning to walk kept getting into everything and who can ignore their smiles and get upset?  The great-grandkids are still learning to sit up and attempt to crawl.  But they don't crawl - YET.

This weekend I had my #1, #2 and #3 sons and their families to vist.  The older granddaughters were a lot of fun to tease - 14 and 10.  And they had a blast in the kitchen with grandma learning how to make different things.  Let me tell you this - the drop biscuits were absolutely fantastic and they did them with grandma only giving directions.  Plus they helped me with my Farmer Bob chores, feeding and watering the chickens.  They started to name the hens - the egg-laying ones.  I told them they shouldn't but if they were naming, only name the brown chickens.  They only named a couple. Whew!  I don't want anyone making pets of these chickens.  At some point, the chickens might become nuggets and well, I don't want upset grandkids.

In case you're wondering - sons #1 and #2 live in the immediate area.  Sons #3 and #4 live in the Detroit area - about 2 hours away and all of them have jobs where they work with mandatory overtime and/or weekends.  We're always happy to see them visit.  LOL.  I love making a 7plus pound meatloaf - that is 2 pounds of ground beef, 2 pounds of sausage and 3 pounds of venison.  Now add the rest of the ingredients - over 7 pounds.  YUM! They LOVE meatloaf.

Until next I ramble on...