Friday, September 23, 2011

Shrooms

All that talk about Vietnam and thinking about left handed cigarettes must have put me in the mood for something else!  Thought we could talk Shrooms instead.

NOT!  How about mushrooms then?  The edible kind!

Every Fall, our neighbor walks the woods that line our properties and hunts these down:
Pint jar for scale.
I have never seen anything like it!  It's a Sheepshead.  In some parts- Hen of the Woods.  Isn't it amazing?

Never having seen one and knowing nothing about it, I hit the web and found that this is one exception to the rule...you have to soak it for one hour. 

So I knocked the dirt off, broke it up and soaked it.  In both sides of my sink!  Then I rinsed it real good and layed it out on a bath towel on my kitchen counter to dry enough for packaging.

From everything I read, Sheepshead is best preserved frozen or dehydrated as a secondary method.  So I did both.  I had 12 pounds of mushroom afterall!  That is way more than I would buy in a year, so I was very thankful for our neighbor thinking of us!

I bagged about 3/4 of it up and froze.  When you cook these, apparently you do NOT thaw first.  You just throw the frozen mushrooms into your hot saute pan (yes, preheated). 

After dehydrating, I filled 1 Qt and 1 Pint with dried shroom.  They smell great!

We did have steak with sauteed Sheepshead and onion too...YUM!

And for those of you who speculate on wild mushrooms (as you should!), if you don't hear from me for a while...well now ya know!

;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It Was Fascinating!

The photo above is a copy of the picture I won for my Dad at the fundraiser on Saturday.  This is the 589th Engineer Headquaters in Vietnam, circa 1968.  I put a whole lotta tickets in that barrel and it paid off!  Later that evening, I had the honor of meeting the gentleman who took it.  He quietly walked up, introduced himself as Chuck and asked why I purchased that particular picture.  If I were him, I'd have been thinkin', "Who is that punk that just bought my picture!?"

If I recall his rank, he was Company Commander, or let's put it this way...someone pretty high up because my Dad told me not to get him Court Marshalled :o)  When I answered that I bought it "For my Dad", he sat down with me and together with a few other fellas, showed me what was what.  Some remember things differently as Headquarters changed a bit over the years, but it was so cool to listen to their explainations of where they and my Dad were!  Chuck took this picture... from a helicopter...during a recon mission...with a Polaroid!  Amazing!

The 589th, in a nutshell, was responsible for clearing jungle and land for infantry, building roads and bridges.  My Dad operated a Bulldozer.  The two main roads they built are still in use as main highways in Vietnam to date.  One of the larger bridges they built as a "temporary" bridge, is also still in use today.

Dad said when they would clear past a cave, they would throw a grenade and turn the dozer nose to the opening to absorb the blast.  This was one way to avoid ambush.  His grenade of choice was the Pineapple pictured below:
Pineapple Grenade on Right
Grenades apparently have many uses.  One guy told us about the time he was off base 'visiting' when he wasn't supposed to be.  An officer caught him walking back, unstealthily, as he was in the middle of the road and maybe a wee bit drunk or high, or both.  Well they tried to make him get in the vehicle.  He wasn't having any part of that, see.  Pulled the pin, he did!  I will have to remember that trick next time I don't want to get in a cop car or something and my grenade is in my pocket.  Pretty smart.
The sound this replica plane made was considered music to soldiers ears.
Grenades were not the weapon of choice when the guys came across the plethora of snakes however!  The Bamboo Viper, just to name one, was most feared.  They shot those. 
M16 like what Dad carried
Snakes were deadly threats to our soilders.  (sorry snake lovers!)  Another buddy, Clyde, remembers seeing a Bengel Tiger too!

Another deadly threat:
Luckily, the infection most guys caught weren't always from those...just sayin'.  There's more than one reason the Medic was missing a certain something or other more often than not.  Ya'll know who you are too!

His buddy, Freddie, who operated a Scrapper, hit a landmine once and it blew.  He's ok, but let me tell ya...lucky.  I saw the picture!  The guys said the enemy would go out nightly and bury these things every where they thought our guys would make clearings.  In my book, that's dangerous stuff!

Another buddy, Silva, shared this story:  He and his partner were driving their rig and had just switched driver position.  Three to five minutes later, they were ambushed.  His buddy was shot and killed.  Silva was shot five times.  He took my hand and had me feel the divet in his collarbone, I touched the scar of the bullet that hit his hand.  By this time, I was in such awe and admit that I do not recall where the third one hit.  Because the story quickly changed when my Dad put his foot down at allowing me to see (or feel) where the other two hit.  Yes, the buttocks!  And would you know...laughter!  The guys can laugh now, in a good way I suppose!  I tell you this story because the men said that until the last few years, Silva never talked about it.  As to the end of the story, he belly crawled into hiding until rescue came. 
VC Uniforms
Yet another buddy, Hugh, rolled his dozer once...hence his nickname - Rollover! 

Another story, that to this day, no one has fessed up to...who buried an enitre dozer at the beach???  Yes, an entire dozer, hole dug, pushed in, buried!  Not to mention how the 'replacement' one showed up with the exact same serial numbers.  Hmmm.  My Dad often gets the finger point for this.  Because I am told that "when mischief was afoot, Kallas was usually involved".  So it's a mystery, because Dad really didn't do it!  And believe me, if he did...he'd tell!  I know this because he always claims his farts. 

Boys!!  That's what they were!
For everything these guys went thru, for them to have such comradery, recall good times in bad and share a bond like no other...it's fascinating!

There are many other stories, but I -ah- can't share those.  R/R or I/I related.  And if you don't know what that means, well that's ok!  Dad said the guys where gunnin' for me and they sure didn't hold back!  But I wouldn't have it any other way! 

I could sit and listen to them for hours!  Next time, I hope to see more pictures.  Seems like everytime we sat down with one of them to look at their album, we got cut short.  The hotel also wasn't equipped for the slideshow, so that was cancelled.  I'm of the wierd sort that loves looking at pictures and hearing the details!  Don't ya just hate when someone flips thru your photos like confetti?

To show you what goofs these guys are, check out this photo:
Ralph, Freddie, Sgt. Sam, Hugh, Dad
Prior to the reunion, Sgt. Sam sent an email to them with the poem about "Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody", then assigned each hooligan their position, just like old times.  Well, not wanting Sgt. Sam to have the last word, they went out and got TShirts to wear the first night.  That is 'the gang'.  My Dad's closest Nam buddies.

As the week wore on, and since it was an election year, the gang started wearing paper plates campaigning for a member of Company C to be elected to the board.  Tricia and I wore one too, but ours said "Vote for Nobody!"
Freddie and his "Vote for Nick" plate.  aka my Dad
In conclusion, it really was a fascinating weekend! 
I'd like to thank the guys of the 589th for having us, my step-sister and her husband for letting us stay in their condo, my mom for holding down the fort back at home, my mother-in-law for donating three gorgeous purses to raffle for the cause, my girlfriend for making the trip with me, and all of you...for reading and sharing this with me.  My Dad, the big cryer that he is, sees your comments...and he cries a little.
Sign says, "THIS WAY HOME".  Dad's final day and his favorite picture!
Thanks...we love to make him cry! ;o}

Oh, Oh!!!  And before I forget...
Congratulations, Nobody!  I mean Dad...The 589th's newest Vice-President!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

I struggled which direction to go with my reflection on Dad's Vietnam Reunion.  Many of you know how I feel about this, without a doubt.  But it's had me thinking for hours.  I came to the conclusion, that I need to preface what I will always support...Our Military. 

My girlfriend, Tricia, best described our trip to my Dad's Vietnam Veterans 589th Engineer Battalion Reunion as, "Fascinating".

Truthfully, there are no words to describe it.  But that's a darn good one.  Many of these men and women have finally started talking about their experiences in Nam.  And it's really no wonder it took so long:
That was what greeted us at the Veterans Memorial Museum in the Vietnam Room.  Knowing that my own Father experienced this firsthand really does something to me.  Frankly, it makes me insanely furious!  A few years ago, not long after September 11th, I got him a Vietnam Veterans hat for Christmas.  He'd never had anything like that before!  He's worn it, or one like it, ever since.  I refer to the current War because he said in some ways, more Nam Vets began coming forward and thanking our current soldiers.  Why?  So that they would not feel the way the Nam Vets felt. 

All soldiers deserve our respect and a homecoming full of thanks, love, appreciation and compassion...from usAll of us, regardless of our opinions on any war!  It is because of these men and women that you are entitled to an opinion at all.  Never forget that.  It is because of these men and women that many other countries were liberated from evil.  Yes, sadly many lives are lost on both sides.
I had the honor of meeting the family of one of these soldiers:
Photo taken at the Veterans Museum  - Vietnam Wall
Norm Goodman served with my Dad's Company in Nam.  He never made it home.  Two of Norm's sisters, a brother and his wife were present at the Reunion.  At first, I struggled with how to talk to the family, but knew I truly wanted to.  Then I realized, you just talk.  They are amazing people!  I can only imagine what a wonderful reflection of Norm they are.  I am certain, they are very deserving of the honorary membership to the Battalion they received this year!  Now that...is how you treat a Veteran! 
POW/MIA tablesetting at Saturday night banquet.
So think before you speak.  If you can't express your opinions thoughtfully and filtered with respect when addressing a Veteran, those currently enlisted, and the families of both...prepare to one day meet the leather of this American Girls Boot.  And if I can't do it, I'll send Toby...
Because when you disrespect one, you disrespect all.  Show some RESPECT.   
The "young man" in that picture, he deserves it.  The "young man" in that picture is 20 years old, just set boots on the ground and is about to change his life -and ours- forever. 

That "young man" could be any soldier, past or present. 

But this "young man" IS MY DAD!

And I am damn proud!

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Someone" You Should Know

Howdy folks!  Been in Branson, MO for my Dad's Vietnam Veterans Reunion!  Wild horses couldn't have kept me from that!  It was amazing and I can't wait to share some of the photos and stories.  Sometime today, after I am unpacked, laundry done and such, I am going to sit down and get to work on that. 

In the meantime, I wanted to catch up and say Thank You to three very special people who were kind enough to share something with me! 
Tiny Gardener, when she isn't globetrotting or baking killer cakes, she's talking to her Golden Girls, crafting furniture and getting dirty in the garden!  Talk about the best of both worlds!  Travel and tomatoes!!!  Now there is a girl after my own heart!  I think she leads an exciting and full life, most admirable!

Susan at  e-i-e-e-omg.  When I very first stumbled on her, I admit what drew me in was her blog title- it just cracked me up!  I had a vision in my head of a lady holding on for dear farm life screaming, "Whooooaaa! Whoa!"  As I have come to find over the past year, she holds it together remarkably well...all by herself!  Many of us know what hard work this venture is, so the fact that she has an entire cast of critters, a large garden, wool fetish, lots of canning going on and a full time job is simply astounding!

Sharon at Fitzgerald Family Farm.  I literally just "met" Sharon.  Immediately, I knew she was a kindred spirit.  I connected with her on a BarnHop when I saw her golden honey.  Need I say more?  Nope, but I will.  She's right there with us on the home front:  chickens, bees, gardening, love and service of Country!  I am so glad I 'found' her and I think you all will be too!

"Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

Now for the rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have fun!

Now for the hard part ...  I loathe picking!  I read alot of blogs, and I love them all.

  • Patty at Let's Get Real.  I find her faith renewing and, well...Real.  She is a hardworking, homeschooling Mom doing it all.  Her kind spirit speaks to me.  You will find her counting blessings, teaching her kids from the land and raising animals.  Everything is a learning experience!  Isn't that true always?
  • Jody at Spring Garden Acre.  It took me several reads to figure out that she is really a 'he'!  Jody and his wife, Belle, are raising two sons up right...Faith first and all the rest falls into place.  He is funny and a wonderful father!  They too garden, raise chickens and Belle has some awesome recipes that from time to time we demand he picks her brain for! 
  • Robin at The Gardener of Eden.  This year, it has been particularly rough for me to view all her harvests.  I have asked for tissues, glass cleaner for my computer screen and straight up, envious.  And the worst part is, this hasn't exactly been the best year for her either!  But she keeps on keepin'!  Her and The Italian have a great balance.
  • Hoosier Girl at Blessed Little Homestead Life.  The first time I 'met' her, I literally rolled with laughter!  Sucked me right in she did!  And it's always a good time!  She is a multi-tasking, fun-spirited, drive around like a chicken, hard working woman!  She has a thing for poop...lots of animal poop!  Here you will not only find a good humored farmin' girl, but encouragement.
  • Sue at Sue's Garden Journal.  Know why I saved her for last?  Just to be mean.  Mm-hmm.  She thinks that I don't have a mean bone in my body.  But I do.  I am one mean girl.  (snarl, gnash of teeth!)  As a matter of fact, I should just take this back from her!  But I won't.  Because I really do love her to pieces!  If you ever want inspiration for beauty in the garden, look no further than Sue!  She intermingles her flowering "thingees" with all her edible bounty.  If and when I decide to make mine cute...she's my girl.  How's that for mean, Sue??? 

I hope you will visit all eight of my blog-buddies listed here!  I really think you would enjoy getting to know them as much as I have!

Now...time to catch up with what you guys have been up to, do the laundry, blah blah.  Oh, and get ready to hit the road again!  Phew!

Dad's Vietnam post coming up!  It was awesome!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to Refine Beeswax

We extracted honey this past weekend... 309 lbs!  Couple that with our earlier harvest and it brings us up to 576 lbs for the year, so far!  We still have one hive not on our property and possibly a final small draw here.
The second harvest was a bit darker, as expected.  More notable however, was the difference in the Baker's Honey (cooked down to separate from the wax cappings).

On left is the Baker's Honey from first extraction.  On right is from the second.
It's as dark and rich as molasses!

With all the wax laying around, it was about time I do something with it.  I had buckets of it...buckets.

Here are some of the cappings before I cooked them down for the Baker's Honey:

And of course, what it looks like separated and cooled from the honey that remained in them:
We still have last years wax!  Aye!  Better get on it...

I put this off for so long because just like pressure canning, the stories I read online and in the books, scared the bajeepers out of me!  That was last year.  This year, I simply did my best to remember the important steps and just did it.  No time for fear, just do it! 

Pft!  It was so simple and possibly one of the coolest things I have ever learned!

How to Refine Beeswax

Any pans and even some utensils will never be the same after processing wax.  Therefore, I have my designated tools.  You may want to also. 

  • Fashion yourself a double boiler if you don't have one you are willing to sacrifice to the wax.  I used a set of nesting pans my mom gave me years ago and they worked perfectly!  The handles of the wax pan held itself at just the right level in the larger pan:
  • Add enough water in the larger pan to come up the sides of the inner pan an inch or so.  You can do this before you put the smaller pan in if you are worried about getting water in the wax pan, which you don't want. 
  • Add your wax and cover inner pan with a lid.
  • Turn on the heat and bring to a very slow boil. 
  • Meanwhile, spread wax paper on your countertop if you like.  Any time I work with honey/wax, I have found it just makes for easier clean up.
  • Open the tops of your reserved milk, half/half or OJ cartons.  You want to use the cartons because they are already lined with a light layer of wax and wont adhere to your finished product.  Start saving them up for future use if need be.  A quick rinse, dry, shove'em in a corner and they are good to go when they are needed!
  • Cut your cheeseclothe and place over the opening.  Make sure you leave some give at the top for pouring and catching the debris.  I taped mine down pretty tight as I wanted no slippage. 
Ok, so maybe I went overboard.  You don't need that much cheeseclothe and maybe not even that much tape.  I wasn't taking chances.  :o}
  • When your wax has completely melted, lift inner pan from the water and quickly wipe it with a towel.
  • Pour the contents of the pan into the carton.  I filled my containers about 3/4 full. 
Here is what it looks like freshly poured ~ liquid gold!
Isn't it lovely?
  • Let the wax rest until it is cooled to solid:
It cracked because I kept being all touchy-feely with the first one.  It couldn't be helped. 
The others are smooth as butter.

  • Tear off the carton and behold...clean beeswax!
This one weighed about 1.25 lbs.  I have others cooling in cartons and more wax to go!

Here is a comparison of some refined wax that I spilled on the counter (see...I told you!) compared to the unrefined wax:
 Again, one of the coolest things I have ever done!  Now, what to do with it all???

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cornish X - Part 2

As I warned in my last post, Cornish X - Part 1, you may want to skip this one if you find butchering offensive.  I cropped photos to make them less graphic, in my opinion.  If you choose to read on and find that you disagree, my apologies.

In total, we butchered 6 Cornish X and one layer for a friend.  Our Freedom/Reds are several weeks out yet. 

We started around 9am and finished by 12pm.  I didn't think this was too bad for first-timers.

Who hasn't heard the old stories our parents and grandparents tell about "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off"?  I certainly wanted no part of that, so Pig Pen fashioned a stand and secured "kill cones" to it.
As you can see, it is a very simple design.  For the kill cones, he rolled thin galvanized steel and taped them shut with barricade tape.  They did need to be shortened more than what is shown there.

The bird goes head first into the cone.  A light stretch of the neck to extend it completely down thru the bottom hole, a quick slit of the throat, and within a few short minutes, it is done.  The cone holds the body of the bird so that any reflex is kept to a minimum.  It worked very well for all intents and purposes.
We placed a bucket under the cones.  I had read beforehand that a chicken only has 2-3 Tablespoons of blood.  I would say this was about right.  The actual deed itself wasn't as bad as I had expected in that regard. 

Each bird that came to the cone was told that I was sorry and that they had been good birds.  Pig Pen asked if I was going to talk to each bird and of course, I did. 

We set up our other work area in the barn and out of the breeze.  The double propane burner worked great. 
This is what Pig Pen has been working on lately...Our Chicken Plucker!

He found the rubber fingers online at a very reasonable price.  He ordered 200, leaving us some to spare.  Drilling all the holes was a pain, he said.

The starting purchase price of a cheaply made poultry plucker online is around $500.  The good ones can go into the thousands.  Sending our birds out for processing was not something we wanted to do.  For one, the nearest poultry processing plant is 3 hours away.  Besides the economical savings of doing it ourselves, the idea of an animal going into a plucker live -that hadn't been killed- as Patty's daughter at Let's Get Real brought to my attention and so eloquently wrote, is simply not acceptable.

After the birds had hung long enough to drain the blood, they were dunked in a large pan of hot water and sent to the Chicken Plucker. 

Just like the honey extractor he remade earlier this year, it was quickly apparent that we are going to need a more powerful motor.  The larger birds put a strain on it, however the medium to smaller of the birds were no problem.

Here you will see how quickly and how well the machine worked:
video
The plucker did a great job!  An occasional hose down of the feathers or a stuck limb was it!  No broken bones!  There were minimal pin feathers left and we did not need to singe at all.
After the birds were cleaned out, we moved into the house for final clean and packaging.

From six birds, a few days past 8 weeks of age, we packaged just under 40 pounds of meat.  They weighed in individually at:
  • 8.5
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7.5
  • 5.25
  • 3.5
The last two listed were hens and the others were roosters.  One breast from the largest rooster weighed 1.75 lbs alone! 

As to the appearance of the finished birds: the skins had a healthy color unlike anything I have seen from the grocery store.  More notable was the lack of fat on these birds.  I'm sure many of you have purchased chicken from the store and as you were cleaning/preparing it, you came across a yellowish, bubbly, glob of a fat pocket?  There was none.  Only healthy skin and meat.  I was very pleased and a bit surprised actually.

What we learned from our first experience:
  • The temperature of the water at 145-155 was about right.  I had originally put it up to 165, which was too high.
  • 10-15 seconds in the water was sufficient when using a plucker.  A couple of the birds were done at too high a temp or dunked a bit too long resulting in torn skin.
  • Remove the heads before they go into the plucker.  It didn't take but one for us to learn.
  • Get a larger motor if the birds reach 7+ lbs.  I don't think the others will be a problem.  We will probably get to them before this weight.
  • Install a utility sink in the barn.  Already in the works!  Thanks Pops!!
So there you have it, as promised.  I don't think I forgot any major point other than to thank my Mom for helping out!  She had said to warn her so she wouldn't come over that day.  Too many memories from doing alot of plucking as a kid was her defense.  But like a trooper, she marched on!  She said next time, she's wearing a mask.  I'll give her that one!  The smell is distinct...wet feathers are worse than a wet dog.  It sticks with you for a little while.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cornish X - Part 1

Over Labor Day weekend, we mercifully ended the Cornish X.  I haven't talked about the birds out in the tractor much.  As you may know, we opted to try two types of meat birds.  The Cornish X and the Freedom Ranger or Red Broilers.
I have been searching for the appropriate words so not to upset or discourage anyone.  When we decided to do this, even I was uncertain.  Which is why I felt that as first time chicken keepers, the best way for us was to experience both breeds firsthand.  Nothing works better than learning for yourself!  My Dad always said you learn from your mistakes, but that a smart person learns from other peoples mistakes.  Funny how I have always found that when you do it yourself; however, that's when it really sinks in.  Guess I am not one of those 'smart' people! :o}

That said, I would not classify the Cornish X as a "mistake" by any means.  I will come back to this point...

Here are my observations and my own personal conclusions on our experience with the Cornish X:

  • They are indeed, a very sweet bird.  Not once did I get pecked at.  They like to talk to you.
  • We had zero problems with leg issues.  Although towards the end, one of them did have trouble holding itself up on both legs as it was rather large.  But he could and did walk.
  • The roosters in particular, grow at a very rapid pace.
  • They had no interest whatsoever in foraging or treats you may throw down.  They looked upon treats as foreign objects and never once even pecked in investigation.
  • They eat and drink constantly.  Yes, they even lay down to do it.
  • They have man-size poop.  Ohhhh, the poop!
  • Only one hen feathered out completely.  The rest of them grew so fast and layed down so much, that their breasts never feathered properly nor did their hind ends.
  • They always looked and indeed were, very dirty birds.  Now before you assume anything, they were moved daily and had clean space.  The Reds that share the exact same space feathered just fine and look like real chickens.
  • We had no issues with breast blisters even though they lacked full feather in that area.  When people tell you their breasts are huge, they aren't kidding.  It definitely throws off their balance...even with their gargantuan feet!  Boy did thay have huge feet!

So those were my personal observations of the breed. 

My personal thoughts when compared to the Freedom/Reds and our layers however...

I felt sorry for the Cornish X.  Yes, I understand that their purpose is to put meat on the table.  I don't think this has anything to do with our methods (seeing as how we have 36 other happy chickens), but the Cornish X, in my opinion, doesn't know how to be a chicken.  Even as a hunting family, the things we hunt get to be whatever it is they are supposed to be.  So to me, this is sad.

Now, back to why I am not sorry we raised them...because after having read all that, you'd probably think I was.  And it all boils down to one word:

Exposure

We were able to expose many people to the reality of what they buy in the store.  Countless family members and friends would walk out to visit all the chickens and as soon as they saw "the white birds", their noses would wrinkle.  In a nutshell...everyone thought they were "gross".  To which I always told them, "That's what you buy at the store."  (more noise wrinkles)

Do I think it will change how they look at the chicken on their plate?  Probably not.  But in their defense, not everyone has the luxury of raising their own food. 

Will it change us?  Yes.
Would I raise Cornish X again?  No.
Will I raise Freedoms again?  Yes.

Part 2 of the Cornish X will follow shortly.  That of course comes with a warning!  I did NOT take pictures that contain blood or guts, but I did take a video clip of Pig Pens Chicken Plucker that he built.  He's pretty proud of it and it worked real well...so I want to share that. 

If you are like a car wreck and a rubber neck - do your best skip Part 2.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Outside While it Lasts

Labor Day Weekend typically marks the end of Summer.  When you have a small house, it means you don't get to do much entertaining unless it's Summer and you can be outside.  So we took full advantage of a nice day, cool breeze and our second annual Pig Pen Family Fun Day! 

Which of course means all things with wheels and whatever makes a loud Bang!  In all we had 1 golf cart, four 4 wheelers, 1 tractor, my hog and a wagon for this little guy:
Next year we might graduate him to something a little bigger.  We just wont tell Mom and Dad.  ;)

Our little niece, Addison aka Chicken Whisperer, barely noticed her beloved chicken friends once Papa put her on the hog:
She may not look too thrilled there, but she was all about the scooter!  Thanks, Papa!

Who knew that parents everywhere could save a fortune from carnival rides when all you really need is a bucket?
They are holding hands!  Too cute!
Pig Pen knows full well that his sisters driving record is Baaaaaaaaad!  Sorry, sis...but ya know!  I was very impressed that he trusted her to drive it -with kids in it even!  HA!  Here's what trust looks like:
 I am happy to report that we had no incidents or accidents!  Even on two wheels!
I made the mistake of telling them that the hog is wobbly when you go "too" slow.  Hellllooo...that doesn't mean take off like a shot, Speed Racer! 
My MIL...Fearless.  I think she needs one.  And I need a riding partner!  Who cares if it messes up your bangs?

Pig Pen's Grama settled for the quiet ride of the golf cart...
But her sweetheart scared the bageepers out of me a bit when he climbed on this!
He gets around darn good for a guy in his 80's!  Again...safe and sound.  I think that's about the time we cracked out the wine.  Calms the nerves.

Why that freaked me a little when this didn't...dunno.
Hey, gotta start'em young!  Kidding!!  They didn't!  Besides, it was bottle time :o)

Much to my SILs dismay, this Daddy is starting young with some proper training and strict supervision:
Of course Pig Pen and I had nothing to do with that pink stick in her hands!  Nuh-uh.
Off he goes to pull out the big guns!  Sure wish he'd pulled out some weeds along the way!!
Adults only!

So you see, there really is something for everyone. 

Redneck or not.  Fresh air soothes the soul.

I will love this conversation forever...

Addie:     "Aent Die-eena, where's your pway woom?"

Me:         "Outside, honey."

Yup!  Dirt makes'em cuter!