Friday, September 29, 2017

Egg Dishes

Raising our own chickens, we get a lot of eggs.

Well, during the spring and summer months we get TONS of eggs.  Once the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, that number decreases, but.... still.... during those few months we have more eggs than we can usually eat.

I should sell them or give them away, but I usually don't.

Due to this combination, I've had to get creative in making meals out of eggs.

Initially, simply making scrambled eggs, fried eggs, quiche, and the occasional omelet seemed to suffice.  However, now we have more chickens and the kids are 'tired' of regular ole' eggs.

I'll admit, when the girls were first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, eggs for breakfast became a 'thing'.  You see, the typical cereal with milk caused such spikes in blood sugar that I felt compelled to try 'protein' type breakfasts.  What better option than eggs?  Especially since we had plenty of them.  It wasn't long, some (particularly Selah) began to rebel against their 'egg breakfasts'.

Now?  Eggs are still not a highlight of her day when I serve them up.

So... I've tried to get creative in the egg dishes I make.

I hate to think of tossing eggs b/c they've gone bad but I also quite dislike the idea of slaving over a hot stove making fried eggs only to have most of them end up in the chicken scraps b/c the girls didn't 'like' them.

Quiche is a safe alternative and I do make this on occasion.  Although, now with 2 with celiac in the family a simple crust is harder to come by.  Crustless quiche - although an option, isn't quite as liked in our household as the 'old standby'.

Soufflés are another option that gets attention once in a while, but again, variety is the spice of life, right?  And let's face it, Soufflés are VERY similar to crustless quiche when it's all said and done.  (At least to our family.)

German pancakes makes it's way into the repertoire as well -- it uses a fair amount of eggs.  However, we've discovered the gluten free option doesn't quite stack up to the gluten filled type so..... it's not always a hit in our house -- at least not to the degree it used to be.

Recently I made Creamy Italian Baked Eggs.  A much less 'breakfast' type meal and more of a savory dish than most of the other options.

I personally really liked it.  Adding garlic toast on the side made it quite the satisfying dish.

The thing I liked most?  It was SUPER simple.

It required marinara sauce, milk, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and pepper.  WHAT?  Is that it?


Lucky for me we had left over spaghetti sauce from our spaghetti dinner on a previous night so... Voila!

I layered the leftover sauce on the bottom of the baking dish; then, spooned in a few tablespoons of half-n-half (fewer carbs and a richer taste) over the sauce; next I sprinkled parmesan cheese over both; after that, I cracked eggs in rows into the mixture in the baking dish; finally, a little salt and pepper atop the eggs.  Done!

The oven was already set to 450 so I just popped the baking dish into the oven and waited the 15 minutes for the eggs to cook.

In the future I may cook it a little less so the yolks aren't quite so done, or maybe cover with foil to see if that helps as I do want the whites fully done, but otherwise?  YUM!

The garlic toast on the side in addition to some rice pudding -- dinner was a hit.

What egg dishes do you like that are 'not the usual suspects'?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Never Ending Laundry

One chore in our house that never ends is..... laundry.

It seems just as I get all the laundry complete for any given day, suddenly MORE appears in the coveted empty laundry basket.

I've yet to figure out just how this happens, but happen it does -- ALL. THE. TIME!!

With our ever-so-busy summer, laundry has been a thorn in my side as of late.

We've added so much extra laundry to our 'normal' burden with sleeping bags, blankets, all the camper sheets, not to mention the towels from the camper and swimming.

Of course this is all on top of our normal loads of clothing we use day to day.

Add to that the season-changing-outdoor-chores:  cleaning and organizing the garage and rabbit hutch, building rabbit cages, getting the chicken coop ready for winter, moving the rabbit cages into the garage, adding to the dog shelter, etc, etc, etc and suddenly the laundry process of washing, drying, folding, and putting away has become a seemingly insurmountable mountain.

Admittedly, when the laundry pile gets as tall as me (or nearly) the last thing I want to do is tackle it.  (I know most of you get what I'm saying here.  It just seems so OVERWHELMING when it gets so big.)

But, tackle it I must.

So.... I simply dove in and started.

One. Load. At. A. Time.

The tricky part in our household is I'm not the primary 'folder and putter away' of clean clothes.  I wash and dry the clothes and put them into laundry baskets for the kids to hang up and put away in their big joint closet.

When they sort the clothes, they then pass along a basket that contains Techno and my clothing items for ME to fold, hang, and put away.

In general this system works quite well.

However, when life is hectic; the washing and drying fall behind; then the kids are busy with school and we are running here and there, the folding and putting away falls behind.....

..... Suddenly, every basket in the house plus any sort of storage bin we can muster is full to the brim with clean clothes.

Most of which ends up being toppled to the floor as frantic hands search for that one shirt to match that particular skirt to wear to church or some such other activity we have going on.

Next thing I know, those CLEAN clothes are being trampled as kiddos trudge back and forth through the closet to go outside to feed the chickens and rabbits.  (Rain and snow really make this a challenge as their muck boots get covered in mud and gunk.)

After that, those same 'once clean clothes' end up back in the dirty laundry basket that I. Just. Emptied!


I guess I do know where some of that laundry comes from after all.  It's not extra people living in our crawl space, it's clean clothes that never quite make it to their designated hanger in the closet, instead they fall to the floor only to be washed again BEFORE anyone gets a chance to wear them.


Ah well.  We're blessed to have the clothes we have TO re-wash without wearing.

Silver lining, right?

How do you manage laundry pile-ups when life gets hectic and your normal 'routine' breaks down?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rabbit Cages

Since we were going to be bringing home 3 new rabbits to add to our rabbitry, we needed more cages.

Granted once the current Silver Fox kits are processed we'd have enough housing, but.... we would be right back to square one when we breed the adult silver foxes in the future.

So.... I decided to make cages... or at the very least repurpose some.

I had picked up a large 'indoor type' rabbit cage on a garage sale site for $10 but it was quite large for 1 little mini-rex rabbit and it didn't have a 'floor' that allowed the rabbit urine and droppings to drop down into a tray.

To counter this and be cost effective, I decided to make it into TWO cages and add a floor.  It's SO much easier to clean rabbit cages with floors.  Just ask my kiddos.  Having the waste plummet into a removable tray is a real plus.  Not to mention it eliminates the poor little rabbit sitting in it's own droppings.

Win, win!!!

The rabbit duplex complete.
To do this, I added a wire shelf panel in the middle of the cage to divide it into 2 separate cages.  It was slightly too short width wise so I added a small strip of hardware cloth zip tied to the panel to complete the center divider.  I zip tied the whole divider to the front, back and top of the cage.  I also measured and cut with wire cutters 1 1/2 in hardware cloth to make the 'floor' of the cage. I used J clips to fasten this across the entire bottom of the preexisting cage.  The center divider was then zip tied to the floor as well.  (There will be no sneaking into each others cages in this fortress.)  The original door was smack in the middle of the cage, so I secured it closed and cut openings on each 'side' of the two cages.  I then fashioned a new door out of some of the hardware cloth remnants. I fastened them to the bottom wire of the cage with J clips so they'd 'swing down' to open.  We'll use a clip of some kind at the top to keep the doors closed.  The whole speal fits atop the original base of the cage making it easy to simply lift the top portion off for cleaning.

Voila!!  One cage made into two for a couple of our new rabbits.

You can see the divider; the 'new' doors'; as well as the hardware cloth floor in this photo.
I had been looking for another cheap, used cage at the thrift stores, on Craig's list, and garage sale sites to no avail.

The rabbits would be coming home soon so I was worried about where we'd house them until I found another cage.

Originally I figured we'd just use one of our carrier cages with the divider removed -- temporarily.  It's a decent sized cage once the divider is taken out and it would suffice until I found a 'real' cage, at any rate.

However, as we were cleaning out our garage I came across a pile of 'extra' wire storage rack panels.  You know -- the ones you put together to make cubes to hold CD's, baskets, etc?  They were popular at one time with the college/newly married crowd because they were cheap and pretty easy to assemble.  ;-)  (Gee, I wonder why they were stashed in our garage?  LOL)

The single rabbit cage out of metal shelf 'panels'.
I brought them in and began planning HOW to turn these wire panels into a rabbit cage.  Once again, I used zip ties to connect the cube panels together.  I decided to make them 1 panel wide and 2 panels long.  We had the exact number of panels necessary to make the front, back, sides, and top of the cage.  (In addition to the one I'd used as a divider in the larger cage.)  As I was assembling the pieces, I determined that keeping one panel in the front detached on all sides but one could make an awesome door.  Measuring, cutting, and attaching the 1 1/2 inch hardware cloth for the floor resulted in a much more secure and solid structure overall.  I added a 'cage' under the floor with left over hardware cloth to insert a tray for collecting the rabbit droppings.  I'm not sure how well this 'final touch' will work so if it fails, I can simply cut the zip ties and 'set' the whole cage on top of a tray of a similar size in the future.  I just didn't have such a tray at my disposal just yet.

The 'fab' door opened to showcase how easy it'll be to get a rabbit in and out.
Still need to find a 'tray' to go underneath.  The wire 'base' may or may not stay.
This cage may end up sitting on top of a tray similar to the green cage above.
The cages turned out fabulous.

We now have THREE cages for our new rabbits.

The double cage cost $10 plus a portion of hardware cloth (which we had already purchased last year for adding 'flooring' to other cages), some J clips, and fasteners to keep the doors closed (which we also already had on hand).  The second was free (but for the hardware cloth and zip ties - although the purchase of both had happened long before this construct.)

Not too shabby for three rabbit cages -- especially since I had just priced new ones at the feed store.  A new cage about the size of one side of our 'duplex' with no tray would have been approximately $40; a small one with tray close to $50; and the large one that I spent $10 for was close to $80 new.


A little creativity, ingenuity, and hard work saved us quite a bundle and resulted in three one of a kind cages for our new mini-rex rabbits.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Our New Rabbits

The day had finally arrived.  We were going to pick up the girls' new Mini-Rex rabbits.

Excitement filled the air!

She had 3 little chocolate does available.
2 jrs. and 1 sr.....
(The 3rd is off in the corner next to Trinity's arm)

After lunch we drove to our rabbit leaders home to view the available rabbits and allow the girls to see which rabbit 'fit' their personality and desires.

...and one slightly larger jr. buck.

The girls pet and visited with the 4 different rabbits - 3 does and 1 buck - that our leader was ready to sell.

A deal had been struck before we even went that Charity would get a buck if there was an opportunity to do so and the other two would get does.   (I believe there's a plot in the making to try to breed these rabbits.)  Guess that made some of the decision making process easier.

After much ado, we packed up the rabbits in our triple carrier and off we drove toward home.

Of course the girls would have preferred to have their rabbits on their laps, but.... the carrier was safer and more sanitary all around.  :-)

Once at our 'Mini-Mountain Menagerie', the girls loved on their new bunnies for a while then we introduced the newest additions to their recently developed homes.

For the time being they will be housed in the rabbit hutch in their new cages until we move all the rabbits into the garage for the cold, harsh, Wyoming winter.

Meet the rabbits!

This is Trinity's new mini-rex rabbit.  She is a jr. doe and is a chocolate variety.  She has chosen to name her Cappuccino.  Her fur is still 'transitioning' from her 'baby fur' to her full adult fur, but she's still a beauty.

Cappuccino seems quite content with her new owner
and the smile on said owner's face says it all.
Here's Wrinkles.  Charity's new mini-rex bunny.  He's a chocolate mini-rex rabbit and is a good sized buck.  Due to his slightly larger size for a mini-rex, we noted 'wrinkles' along his sides when you flip him over so she opted to name him Wrinkles.  I love it.  A real cuddle bug, this one.

Charity snuggling with Wrinkles.  A match made in heaven.
Finally is Mocha.  This is Selah's little sr. doe mini-rex also chocolate colored.  She's a bit older than the other two and on the smaller side, (which is fitting since Selah is the smallest) but she too is quite the sweet rabbit with such soft, beautiful fur.

Mocha bonding with Selah.  Enjoying a little
lovin' on her new owners lap.
The girls are thrilled with their new rabbits and are already plotting out their practice and care schedules for these little fluff balls.

They are looking forward to giving these little rabbits lots of love and working toward improving showmanship skills for fair in the process.

Their fur is so soft.  One of the cool traits of mini-rex and rex rabbits, actually.

The 'chocolate' variety is one of our favorite colors for this type rabbit as well.  Guess that's a bonus since that was all that was available.

Another new adventure in our mountain ranch home.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Expanding the Rabbitry

So far, we've only been raising Silver Fox meat rabbits plus a mini-lop we were given when we first started our rabbit journey.  (I guess we technically also had a white New Zealand initially but she unexpectedly died and we bought a Holland Lop early on which we eventually gave to a friend's daughter for a pet because he just wasn't 'willing' to be a show rabbit for our girls.)

Not long ago, we also added a little chinchilla colored Netherland Dwarf rabbit -- Sam.  Sam belongs to Bethany and will be shown by her during her last year of 4H and her first year in the rabbit project.  He's a cutie and so far quite the sweetie as well.  I do believe he will be the ONLY Netherland Dwarf rabbit we'll have in our little rabbitry.

After fair this year, it was obvious the Silver Fox are just too big and not calm enough for the little girls to use them for showmanship -- at least not and expect to do well.  The kits, although smaller and easier to handle, are just too young and too wryly.

They. Won't. Sit. Still.

Makes 'showing' them rather challenging to say the least.

During Family Night at the county fair, they had a sign up to win a free mini-rex rabbit with cage.  Techno let the girls sign up for the drawing.  Sadly, they didn't win.

After fair, our rabbit leader approached me and asked about getting the girls started with mini-rex rabbits to enable them to be more successful in the area of showmanship.  I talked to Techno and he -- surprisingly -- said, 'up to you'.

So.... now that state fair is over and our rabbit leader has determined which of her mini-rex rabbits she is retaining and which she is willing to part with, we'll be expanding our rabbitry even more to the mini-rex variety of rabbits.

What fun!

The girls are excited and are even mumbling about breeding the mini-rex.  I guess time will tell on that one as they aren't really big enough to be 'meat rabbits' and we aren't planning on keeping hundreds of rabbits in our mini-mountain menagerie.

One bonus from going this route.... the girls seem much less distressed about the prospect of 'processing' the Silver Fox rabbits and sticking them in our freezer.

We have tried to sell the kits, but have found little to no interest. Therefore, it's looking like they will indeed become residents of our deep freeze in the near future.  I'm not complaining as the meat is tasty  and it's a fairly inexpensive way to add lean, healthy meat to our dinner table.  (Granted, the process of getting them INTO the freezer is a bit arduous to say the least.)

We can't wait to see what kinds of mini-rex rabbits the girls get.  Selah is hoping for a chocolate colored one - at least that's what she thought when she was LOOKING at a chocolate colored one.  :-) Not sure if the other two have a preference.

Guess we'll know soon enough.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Camping Fun on our Anniversary Weekend

After all our camping adventures this summer, you'd think we'd be 'camped out'.

Not so!

We had yet to take our 'annual' camping trip up in the Snowy Range and our traditional jaunt over to Saratoga to shop, get ice cream at Lollipops, and soak in the Hot Springs.

Off we went this past weekend.

We almost cancelled as the weather forecast predicted rain and cold (like snowing cold) temperatures.

However, we decided to 'tough it out' and went anyway.  Especially since the weather forecast kept improving as we got closer to the weekend.

Of course, upon arrival at the campsite, we questioned our decision as the skies opened up and the rain poured down..... AS- WE- SET- UP- CAMP!
Our 'home away from home' when we go camping.

Talk about cold... and wet.  Very, very wet.  And did I mention cold?

Despite the rain, we were thrilled to snag our 'favorite spot' in the South Brush Creek camp grounds.

One reason we love this spot - the
creek just steps away from our camper.
We spent the evening inside the camper all huddled together trying to warm up and dry off.

I cooked dinner - diced chicken in the dutch oven, yellow squash sautéed in butter in a skillet, and sweet potatoes roasted in the oven.  Having the stove and oven on really warmed up our 'mobile' home, which was great, considering.

Being 'trapped' inside due to the weather, we all turned in early, which was fine as we'd planned to head out for Saratoga after an early breakfast the next morning.

 Fried eggs, sausage, and fried potatoes jump started our day.  YUM!  (Not to mention, kept the camper toasty again.)

When it's warmer,
 the kids LOVE venturing across these rocks.

Piled into the car, we made our way to Saratoga.

We have shops we just like to peruse whenever we make it over the mountain.  We enjoyed 'window shopping' in all of our favorite haunts as usual.

The girls found nice dress boots at the thrift store along with some VHS movies.  Gotta love the 'fat' movies as Selah refers to them.

Lunch at the Wolfe hotel was 'delish' as usual.

Techno bought me a new 'cowboy hat' that is reminiscent of Indiana Jones plus a cool hair accessory that I love.

A quick trip to Lollipop's Ice Cream rounded out our adventures in downtown Saratoga and catapulted us to the Hot Springs to warm up since we were now good and chilly from the frozen treat.

The Hot Springs were hopping.

I'm not sure we've ever seen that many people there at one time in all the years we've vacationed and lived here.  We took a quick dip in the smaller pool but it wasn't very 'hot' so we quickly switched to the bigger pool.  Usually that pool is too hot for the kids, but this year they managed to stay in it as long as Techno and I did.

It. Felt. Great.

After changing back to our 'street clothes' we headed back to the camper.

A nicer day - no rain.

The kids played outside; we read books; relaxed; made taco salad for dinner.

The girls find so much joy climbing and jumping off these rocks.

Due to the rain the day before, all the wood was wet so building a fire ended up failing, but.... alas roasting marshmallows over the propane stove inside the camper appeased all the moans and groans.

The next morning the weather was gorgeous.

Breakfast of pancakes, coffee, and hot cocoa started off the day with a bang.

Fitting as this was Techno and my 23rd wedding anniversary.

Who doesn't like a hot pancake breakfast with coffee and whipped cream while enjoying a beautiful view of bright blue skies with an evergreen tree covered mountain as the backdrop for their anniversary?

A little air pistol shooting practice.

More playing, relaxing, air pistol shooting, rock climbing, and enjoying the great outdoors filled our hearts with contentment.

As we watched the kiddos play, we marveled at the fact we'd been married as long as we have and the fact our children are getting so old.  How... and WHEN... did THAT happen?

Big brother gives advice and guidance.

After a lunch of leftovers from our trip, we packed up the camper and headed home.

Our annual trip over the mountain was a success.

So glad we braved the weather and went ahead with our camping trip.

She was so excited --
 she was finally able to 'cock' the gun herself.

Who knows, maybe we'll get yet another trip in before the snow officially begins to fly.

(P.S.  On the drive home, we did note snow had fallen toward the top of the mountain and was still visible under trees in shady areas where the sun had yet to melt it away.  WHAT???  Yes, winter IS knocking on the door.)

Even the dogs and Techno were enjoying the beautiful day.
Titus making sure dad was paying attention to him.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Interruptor of Sleep

It's 11:00 PM.

Trinity is fast asleep.

No matter.

Diabetes doesn't care.

I must walk into her room and wake her.

You see, it's time to calibrate her continuous glucose monitor – her CGM.

Without this calibration, we won't have readings to monitor her blood glucose levels during the night. Without those readings, we can't tell if she's safe as the hours and minutes tick by.

So.... despite her slumbering peace... I must wake her.

She's difficult to wake on this particular night.

I rub her arms.

Carress her hair.

Speak her name – softly so as not to wake the other girls.

She stirs ever so slightly.

But..... still doesnt' wake.

I rub her leg.

Give her shoulders a slight shake.

I say her name a bit louder.

All to no avail.

At this point fear creeps in.

Since I can't see her blood sugar levels, I worry. Is she low? Is she unconsious? Is she so high her brain has shut down?

Finally, after a slightly harder push and my voice a bit louder, more urgent, her eyes flutter open to minuscule slits for a brief moment.

The adrenalin that was rising crashes now.

A flood of relief.

She's still not fully awake.

But I know she's not unconscious.

I continue my gentle coaxing to try to wake her more fully.

She sits up.

Eyes still shut.

Turning her head this way and that trying to make sense of her groggy situation.

Again, I say her name.

Explain to her we need to check her blood sugar.

Her eyes are still mostly closed.

Barely slits.

Trying to block out the light from my phone.

I call her name again.

“Come on, Trinity. We need to check your blood sugar.”

She swings her legs out of the bed.

She's cocooned in her sleeping bag.

I fear she'll try to stand in her half asleep state and fall.

Reminding her of her tethered condition, she looks at her lap and shimmies down the bag encasing her.

I hand her the pouch that holds her dexom and ipod.

Giving her my hand, I help her to her feet as she steps out of the sleeping bag that is puddled at her ankles.

I begin to walk from her room, pausing to shine my light back for her to follow.

She's slowly twirling in a cirlce.

Scanning the ground.

Holding her little pouch at arms length.



I call for her to follow me.

She responds, “I need my pouch. I can't find it. Where's my pouch?”

One foot still planted firmly in slumberland, one teetering in the land of consiousness.

I remind her it's in her hand.

Recognition registering, she trudges forward to follow me out.

Usually she knows to head to the bathroom to wash her hands.

Tonight, still battling with the pull of sleep, she passes the restroom on her way to the living room, simply trundling behind, following in my footsteps.

I stop, touch her shoulder and remind her to wash her hands.

When she emerges into the living room, I can tell she's finally fully with me.

Awake - completely.

At last past the grogginess of sleep and standing coherent enough to check her own blood sugar.

This is what it's like to live with Type 1 Diabetes.

Just a small glimpse of the challenges, the fear, the heartache it brings.

It breaks my heart to know I must disrupt our beautiful little girls, more often than I'd care to think, in the middle of a perfectly pleasant night of sleep.

All to cater to an unwanted guest in our home.

A guest that just won't leave; that doesn't have manners.

I kiss her head as I send her back to bed.

Hoping she can get back to sleep, none the wiser of this intruder that steals more than just precious hours of rest.