Saturday, February 28, 2009

More Old Tools

I stayed with my aunt in California, who has a great love for Asian antiques. When she found that I was interested in old tools, she took me out to her favorite antique shops in the area. I only had room in my suitcase for around 20 more pounds, so I was very selective about what I bought. I was looking for things that were useful rather than decorative, so that cut out much that I saw.

I rejected most of the cast iron cookware on sight, since I've seen lots of cast iron available in Ohio. However, I ran across a little corn muffin pan that makes cornbread in the shape of ears of corn. I had never noticed anything like that around here, but there were a bunch in several of the shops. Most were overpriced and/or in very poor condition, but I found one pan that was $25 and had hardly any rust on it. I think I can easily recondition it for kitchen use. The thing is called a Krispy Korn Kobs Junior.

It's kind of strange that I've never noticed them around here, since it was made in Sydney, Ohio.

There were also lots of iron sheep shears available, most over $20. However, one of the shops had one for $4, and at that price I don't care if I break it trying to make it functional. This one doesn't look like it was ever sharpened, so perhaps it's a reproduction? Well, I will attempt to sharpen it and see what happens.

Finally, I also saw many draw knives. This is a necessary tool for stripping bark off of wood, and also for shaving down a piece of wood. Since I want to start turning some of the newly dead wood in our forest into useful items, I kept my eyes open for functional-looking draw knife at a good price. The one I ended up buying caught my eye because it looked like it had been well used and maintained. It also felt comfortable and right in my hands. Best of all, it was on sale for $16! Most other draw knives were $25 or more and in poorer condition. It needs some slight sharpening, but otherwise looks very serviceable.

Finally, my aunt also gave me a cast iron clothes iron from our family. She said it's very unusual for the stand to remain intact, which is why you'll see plenty of irons at the antique store but they almost never have their stands. I don't know if I'll ever iron clothes with this, but I really appreciate having it.

Oh, and my suitcase ended up weighing 49.5 pounds at the airport. That was close!

Catching Up

I spent all of February either preparing to travel, traveling, or recovering from traveling. First I went to California for my grandmother's funeral, and then I went to Utah to visit my dad and step-mom. I actually have a fair bit to blog about, but it's sure hard to get back into the swing of it after a break.


First off, I discovered that Queenacres has given me a blog award. It's always nice to meet other people who share a similar vision. Welcome, Queenacres, and make yourself at home. I guess I'm supposed to now pass the award on to my favorite blogs, but I feel kind of silly to be perpetuating a chain, so I'll just point out that my favorites are always listed on the right sidebar.


February Egg Tally: 74 eggs, 97 for the year.

This count only includes full-sized chicken eggs. There were also a few bantam eggs and a bunch of duck eggs, but ducks don't lay their eggs in a nest box and so their eggs are far too dirty for human consumption. When it gets warmer I plan to separate the Pekins out and collect their eggs for hatching. At least one of the Australorp pullets has started laying, since a couple of the eggs have been small, pointed, and heavily speckled. I could be wrong about this, but speckled eggs seem to be mostly produced by young hens. I remember that when the Reds first started laying, many of the eggshells were speckled, but now they are all pretty uniformly colored.


Kefir Reboot

I don't remember exactly what happened, but the last time I set up a jar of fresh milk for the kefir grains, I wasn't home to refrigerate it at the proper time so it overfermented. The jar has been sitting on the shelf for months now, but I couldn't ever work up the motivation to deal with it. Today I finally drained off all the fermented milk, gathered the kefir grains, rinsed them in filtered water, and fed them fresh milk. Some eight hours later, the milk is starting to ferment, which means that my grains are still alive and salvageable. It will probably take several changes of milk before they start producing good quality kefir again, but the animals will be perfectly happy to drink the less palatable stuff. I'm looking forward to drinking kefir again; I was starting to miss it.


Progress on the 101 Goals

I've been working on reading Horticultural Enterprises, but I was disappointed to discover that the authors advocate for a very industrialized approach, with chemical fertilizers and pest sprays. This book was published in 1929 (first edition 1919), so it must have been one of the very first to take such an approach. It's certainly interesting to read from a historical perspective, but I don't wish to garden the way they teach. Therefore, although my goal list stated that I would answer all of the chapter questions, I will most likely only answer some. It's interesting to see the industrial agriculture mindset developing, but I have no desire to study it for my own use.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Windy Night

Wednesday night a big wind storm blew through our area. Many trees fell down, and we lost power for a few hours. There wasn't too much damage at the farm. A dead tree fell on the garden fence, but Paul said he didn't think it hurt it much. I haven't been out to check for myself yet. The wind also picked up a wooden pallet and dropped it on the electric fence. Paul removed it before the goats and dog had figured out that they could get out.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sauerkraut and Middle School Chemistry

I chose to put some red cabbage in my sauerkraut because Paul has always said that red sauerkraut is so much better than green. However, when I noticed that the sauerkraut is beginning to turn red instead of purple, I realized that it is also useful as an indicator of how far the fermentation has progressed. As I learned in middle school science class, red cabbage juice changes colors depending on pH. So as the sauerkraut gets more acidic, it turns brighter red and eventually pink.