Mailing It In

Egg Tsunami is Here

The two eggs on the left are from ISA Browns, the other three are from Barred Rocks. The Browns lay slightly longer eggs that are a little lighter, whereas the Rocks lay the slightly darker shorter eggs.

We had three eggs by nine this morning, and one was the first to be laid in the mailbox nest. The Browns are only beginning to lay, and according to the interwebs, they are egg layers supreme.

Here’s the mailbox again, for all the people who have worn out old farm stuff lying around. The size is XL.

Chickens like junk just as much as the flock of sheep in Shaun the Sheep.

Florida Man is Back!

When you allegedly get high on Meth, drive your Ford F-150 into the door of a liquor store in Alabama, and shoot the person who tries to help you, you must be a Florida Man. Such is life in the modern South.

Details, details, details. According to the Calhoun County, Alabama police, at 6.49 AM yesterday morning, a man from Panama City, Florida, ran his pickup into the Liquor King store on Alabama Highway 21. The manager of an Econo Lodge Motel next door came over to help him, and was rewarded for his good Samaritan behavior by getting shot in the leg by Florida Man. A woman who was also trying to help ran like hell to get away from the lunatic, and quite rightly so.

Florida Man was just getting started. He got out of the truck, and walked down the road shooting randomly, until he ran out of bullets. He then passed out in the middle of the highway, and stayed there until an off-duty cop came and arrested him. Florida Man was then taken to the local hospital for observation, hopefully in a different room from the person he shot.

Since liquor is a plant product, and meth is a cooked product (at least according to Walter White in Breaking Bad), I felt compelled to tell this story. That, and I get to quote the Sheriff of Calhoun County, who made the understatement of the century: “It’s a scary world that we live in.”

The Chicken’s New Address

So Much Depends on a Mailbox and a Red Wheelbarrow

To go along with our Shaun the Sheep themed chicken pen, we have added another addition to the junkyard. MJ had the genius idea of turning our old defunct mailbox into a chicken nesting box. One Bosch drill, and three deck screws later, and it was a reality.

No Envelope for this Bird

I just added some pine shavings, and five minutes later, the Barred Rock chicken we have named Broody Bird was in there. She got comfy in a hurry.

Our flock of eight has five nest boxes now, and I suspect at least one of the young ISA Browns has begun laying. We’re not going to have an egg avalanche–it will be more like an egg tsunami. I need to get them to raise the red flag when they lay an egg.

Child’s Rocker Repair

Almost Ready to Rock

Family heirlooms, if they can be reclaimed, should never be thrown away. My in-laws commissioned me to repair this probably homemade child’s rocker, which was found in a shed, and was in seriously rough shape. One back leg was broken, two slats in the seat were broken, and every joint was coming unglued. There is a good chance that MJ’s grandfather Richter, who was born in Germany, made this, as he was a master carpenter.

There isn’t much that isn’t completely rotten that can’t be repaired with a couple of bar clamps, a c-clamp, some fasteners, and half a bottle of glue. And then there is the ingenious part of the repair.

Animals at work

I needed something to brace up the broken slats, so I searched my scrap pile for the best item. Then there it was–a River Birch piece that had been peeled by a Beaver, that I found on the river. I thought, how can anything be more appropriate, to fix a home made rocker?

I shaped a nice curve in it with a spokeshave, coated the top with glue, and attached it with a couple of fasteners. It is a little crooked, but the slats were broken in different places, so I had to angle it ever so slightly.

If you are wondering why my 23 ounce framing hammer is sitting in the seat, it is my clamp to keep down the broken slats while the glue dried. That hammer was yet another present from MJ, who actually remembers sitting in this chair. With any luck, kids will still be rocking in this thing, a hundred years from now.

Favorite Woodworking Planes, Part Two–Block Planes

The Best of the USA and the Bundesrepublik Deutschland

These are some of my most used planes. and two actually live in the tool tray on top of my work bench. They are that useful. To make this brief, they are a Stanley #60 1/2, a Stanley # 18, and an EC Emmerich wooden block plane with a sole of lignum vitae. Now it’s time for my closeup, Mr. DeMille. (Sunset Boulevard ref).

60 1/2

The least used is the Stanley 60 1/2 “low angle” block plane, though there is some debate over how low angle it actually is. It has an adjustable mouth, which is the key feature. The only reason it isn’t used more is the crappy blade that Stanley put on these planes. Therefore, it spends its time in my green woodworking tool bucket. I am eventually going to spring for one of those fancy Veritas plane blades, and at that point it will be look out, wood.

Germans, They are so Clever and Industrious

This beauty I would never have bought for myself, but I opened a package one Christmas from MJ, and there it was (She is of mostly German and Swedish extraction, and knows her woodworking tools). This E.C Emmerich block plane came with one bad mother of a plane blade, so no upgrade was needed. It’s built like a modern German Bundeswehr Panzerdivision, and cuts like it means business. It’s partner is hiding behind it, and that’s one of only three planes I have ever had in new condition–an old Ulmia Scrub Plane, which happens to be the only bench plane that I have personally purchased new. Those definitely live in my tool tray on the bench.

The Crown Jewel

This Stanley #18 knuckle joint plane gets a workout ever time I make something. Like all things over a hundred years old (such as myself), it has a secret weapon.

That Means Oil Hardened

Yep, that’s the extra thick and hard Lee Valley blade, made in Canada. Those things are worth far more than the money they cost. It does make this dingus as heavy as a sea anchor, but as my friend Torsten Fisch used to say, in his thick German accent, “Size matters. Bigger is better.” Of course, he did work for Mercedes.

Peter Hemings, Y’all

As this is Juneteenth, we should celebrate someone who was freed from slavery–Peter Hemings, head chef at Monticello. He learned to cook from his famous older brother James, and was such a master that President Thomas Jefferson would write from the White House for his recipes. Despite being enslaved, he was the half-brother of Jefferson’s wife. History is complicated.

Not satisfied with just that, Peter taught himself brewing, and became the head brewer at Monticello. He was so good at that that he was recommended to be an instructor for the brewer for President James Madison. Jefferson wrote Madison that Peter was “uncommonly intelligent and capable of teaching.” Apparently he could make great beer as well.

After he finally gained his freedom, Peter took up yet another trade–being a tailor in Richmond. It appears that the people of Virginia were both well fed and well clothed, because of people like Peter. My guess is he was the source of many of Mary Randolph’s recipes, from the famous 1824 cookbook The Virginia Housewife.

Hot Honey Mustard

Love some Sweet and Hot

Years ago, the best deli in Birmingham was in the tiny suburb of Cahaba Heights. The classic item was a turkey sandwich with a hot honey mustard sauce. I finally got the recipe for the sauce from them, and not much could be simpler.

Here are the grand total of the three ingredients.

Ingredients

12 ounces whole grain Mustard

8 ounces Honey

Powdered hot Mustard

Put as much of the last ingredient in it as you dare. This is also known as Oriental mustard, though ours came from Canada. It varies greatly in heat level, and as a menu at a Chinese restaurant we frequented used to say, “it gives you a pleasant burning sensation up your sinuses.” Fair warning.

Alas, the deli has long since closed, but hot honey mustard lives on, as does that pleasant burning sensation. That one is forever.

Cherry/Pine Hall Tree

It’s the Stairs that are Crooked

The problem with being rusticated with your dear spouse is that she finds a hundred things for you to do. The truth is, I needed to do most of these things anyway.

A case in point is the Hall Tree, all but one of the pieces of which I have had for years. I finally got the last piece of pine for this, as the upright part of the tree is laminated from three pine boards (three 1″ x 3″s). The Cherry feet came out of my famous scrap pile, and the post is attached with a tenon. And then there is the hardware.

The small iron hooks are Amish handmade, and the nails were handmade in a World Heritage site nail factory in France. The big hooks came from my favorite tool seller, Lee Valley, which is based in Canada.

The big framed dingus in the background is one of the favorite magazine features that I have written. They also published one of the photos I took as a full page intro, of MJ fly fishing for brook trout. If she will model for free, I suppose the least I could do is make her a hall tree. And buy her a beer.

Citrus in Bloom

“The Murmuring of Innumerable Bees”

MJ’s mastery of citrus continues, as we have two Meyer lemons that are completely covered in blooms, at least three hundred to five hundred blooms or so. People don’t associate the Appalachians with citrus, but just bring them indoors in containers in the winter (Goethe wrote that they did the same thing in Germany, and that was over two hundred years ago). We’ll end up with only a few lemons, but we usually have enough to last us most of one year, until the next crop comes in. We freeze the surplus.

Key Lime Pie Waiting to Happen

The Key Lime is our most reliable producer of fruit, and we have had over 150 limes in one year, from just his one plant. We still have a bag full of these in the freezer. Beer with lime, anyone?

Orange Blossom Special

The Satsuma Mandarin Orange is the least productive of the plants, but the smell of the blooms is spectacular. This is grown widely on the Gulf Coast, as it is quite hardy for a citrus. There is even a town called Satsuma in south AL. The best Satsumas come from Plaquemines Parish in LA, which is just south of New Orleans. They even have their own Orange Festival.

Finally, MJ has some cuttings of Meyer Lemon started, and she doles those out to her family. All I can say is that growing citrus from cuttings is not for people with short attention spans. MJ has a waiting list of more than one year.

Fresh Maters, Precious

Noshing Time

Whenever the fresh tomatoes start rolling in, I always think about the great book by Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and the chapter that she titled, “Life in a Red State: August.” The title is overdetermined, as she was referring to the circumstance that she was living in Virginia at a time when it was run by right wingers, and the fact that she had so many tomatoes that she could not even see the surface of her countertops. That’s a serious canning job.

We timed using our last quart of MJ’s home canned tomatoes perfectly, as we used them last weekend to make sauce for our brick oven pizza. Then guess what, the new fresh tomatoes start rolling in. These are all local, and some came from around ten feet from our front door. The light colored ones are Bella Rosa, that we grew on our deck.

The purple ones we bought at the Festhalle Farmer’s Market, from the same farmer who grew that crate of tomatoes that are my logo. I suspect that they are Cherokee Purple, a great tasting tomato, as his daughter, who handled the sale, had dyed her hair purple. A farm girl has to do what a farm girl has to do.

Barbara Kingsolver writes that most farmer’s vote conservative because of the risk involved in farming–one bad crop or bad season, and you’re toast. I would add a lack of decent education in rural areas is a great contributor. After spending twenty nine years in the education system which is now the worst in the US, I can say that we have worked hard to become last overall. Irony alert.

I will instead concentrate on maters, having given up on learnin’, except for my own. We have a state run by looney tunes characters, except that they have no humor, which is not a good combination.