Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A to Z - Zip Codes

I was looking up something about Zip Codes the other day and thought you might be interested in this too, so for my Z post we are learning more about Zip Codes.

I'm running out of time, so my information is coming from here (LINK).  Sorry for using copy/paste on you!!  I feel bad for not putting my usual amount of effort into this post.  So anyway here it is.

"ZIP codes are a system of postal codes used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) since 1963. The term ZIP, an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan is properly written in capital letters and was chosen to suggest that the mail travels more efficiently, and therefore more quickly (zipping along), when senders use the code in the postal address. The basic format consists of five decimal numerical digits. An extended ZIP+4 code, introduced in the 1980s, includes the five digits of the ZIP code, a hyphen, and four more digits that determine a more specific location within a given ZIP code. The term ZIP code was originally registered as a servicemark (a type of trademark) by the U.S. Postal Service, but its registration has since expired."

"ZIP codes designate delivery points within the United States (including territories), and overseas stations of its armed forces. There are also ZIP codes for independent countries of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, each of which is integrated into the U.S. postal system under a Compact of Free Association. Many other countries have separate postal code systems, so the USPS requires that the last line of an item mailed domestically but addressed for foreign delivery is the name of the country, written in English. The parts of the address above the country name adopt the standards for domestic delivery in the destination country, including potentially being written in a language other than English or in a non-Latin script. Some territories which are outside the mainland customs area (and have their own ISO 3166 country codes) may also appear as country names, even though they also have domestic postal abbreviations. Military mail is also addressed as if it were domestic mail, omitting the name of the country where the APO or FPO is physically located."

"There are four types of ZIP codes: Unique: assigned to a single high-volume address Post Office Box only: used only for PO Boxes at a given facility, not for any other type of delivery Military: used to route mail for the U.S. military Standard: all other ZIP codes. Unique ZIP codes are used for governmental agencies, universities, businesses, or buildings that receive such extremely high volumes of mail that they need their own ZIP codes. Government examples include 20505 for the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.; 81009 for the Federal Citizen Information Center of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)[9] in Pueblo, Colorado; 10997 for the Cadet Post Office at the United States Military Academy; 21412 for Bancroft Hall, the midshipman dormitory at the United States Naval Academy; and 80841 for Sijan and Vendenberg Halls, the cadet dormitories at the United States Air Force Academy. Unique ZIP codes are not limited to government use- the headquarters of Wal-Mart has a unique ZIP code (72716).

"An example of a PO Box only ZIP code is 22313, which is used for PO Boxes at the main post office in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In the area surrounding that post office, home and business mail delivery addresses use ZIP code 22314, which is thus a Standard ZIP code."

Anyway that's probably way more than you will find interesting, but you can read more at the link at the top of the post.  I found this kind of interesting because I never really gave Zip codes that much attention before.  :)

This A to Z challenge has been fun... and challenging!  I'm glad I decided to join.  I wish the last few days hadn't been so crazy so I could have put more effort into these posts, but I did the best I could.  Thanks for reading and commenting everyone!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A To Z - Y is for Yak

I don't have access to my computer right now so no pictures!  Sorry!

We are getting close to the end of the A to Z challenge.  I'm happy that I managed to stick with the whole thing.  I can be bad about getting started with things and then getting distracted by something else halfway through so I'm pretty excited to say I did it (tomorrow's post is scheduled so I'm not being premature hehe).  I hope everyone has had as much fun as I did!

So since I can't post the pictures I was going to share I'm just going to share some information on the yak.

The thing that surprised me when I started doing some research on Yaks is that almost all of them are domesticated now.  There is a small population of wild yak, but they are in danger.  In the 1990s there was an effort made to save them, but as far as I know there still aren't a lot of wild ones.

I think everyone has heard of Yaks before, but in case you haven't they are related to cattle (although there is speculation they may be more closely related to the American Bison).  They have extremely dense long hair, they are only second to the Gaur in shoulder height (among bovids) standing between five to seven feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh over two thousand pounds (domesticated Yaks are considerably smaller) and are generally dark black or brown (domesticated Yaks are more varied and can even have patches of other colors like a piebald).

Male Yaks have horns that are long and sweep forward, often 20 to 40 inches in length, while the females are considerably shorter and more upright.  Yaks are very friendly, easily trained and rarely show aggression toward humans.  Yaks have very little odor, in fact their wool is naturally odor resistant.

This is just the basic information.  There is a lot more I could get into, but I'm running out of time.  I do want to mention that the Yak is used for sports like Yak racing, Yak skiing and Yak polo in parts of Tibet and central Asia.  How cool would that be to watch?  I bet there are videos on Youtube, but I don't have time to look them up. Maybe later.  Sorry this is so short.  I feel like I'm slacking off on the final stages of the A to Z challenge, but at least I did all the posts.  :D  I'll try to get caught up on all of your posts as soon as possible!

Monday, April 28, 2014

A To Z - X is for Xylophone

We have no power so I'm just posting a cool video I found of the Super Mario theme being played on a xylophone.  It's really cool.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A To Z - W is for Windchimes!

Sorry the last post and this one are kind of lame.  I didn't have the time to put in as much effort as I normally do since I was getting ready for my surprise anniversary weekend away with my hubby.  This post is scheduled to post today by the way.

So for W I wanted to share my windchimes!  I LOVE windchimes.  I wish I had a whole collection of them, but sadly they are kind of expensive so I only have a few.  The other unfortunate thing is most of them are still packed away in storage and my nice big one is broken.... rats!  Anyway I'll show you a couple that I do have hung and a couple of my mom's instead.  Sorry the pictures aren't great.  The rain stopped, but it was still dim so they came out blurry.  I was also in a hurry so not my finest work hehe.

First up is my wooden one.  Wood ones make such a unique sound!!  I have it under the porch since I don't think it would weather well.

Next is my dragonfly one.  This one has such a pretty sound!  It doesn't catch much wind under the porch (again I don't think this one would weather well), but I like to run my finger across it like a harp and listen to it.  :)

Here is one of my mom's that I love!  It's a birdhouse and the thing hanging under it that bumps the chimes is a little yellow bird.  How cute!  You can also see the decorative fencing around her new raised veggie bed that I posted about yesterday.  Also the big black fence that surrounds her yard is one my dad and I built years ago when I was a kid.  I could have posted about it for today since we Welded it, but oh well.  I didn't think of it until just now.

Another one of mom's.  I love the design at the top.  Sorry I cut the bottom off, but it's such a big one that if I tried to get the whole thing you wouldn't have been able to see the top very well.

And last is my horse bell.  I know it's not a windchime, but it makes noise too and I love it so I had to share. I have it hanging outside my front door.  Don't let it's small size (a bit bigger than my hand) fool you, it is LOUD!

Well that's all for today!  Sorry it's so short and that the pictures are blurry.  See you next week!

Friday, April 25, 2014

A To Z - V is for Veggies!

I was going to share more pictures, but since the rain is making everything impossible I stole this picture my mom took.  :D  This shows the raised flowerbeds we built for her so she can grow veggies this year.  She has a bad back so it's hard to her to bend down to tend to veggies that are on the ground.

We built it with crossties, cut and staggered for strength and then nailed together with those really long nails.  Another useful tip, if you decide to use those make sure to pre drill a hole!  They bend very easily if you just start attacking it with the sledge hammer.

Then we used our tractor (sooooo happy we managed to get a tractor before the injury/job loss/moving drama happened) to put in dirt and old piles of horse manure from the pasture.  We have since added decorative fencing because the ducks thought it was their own personal throne and wanted to kill the plants!!

Mom planted squash, cucumbers and tomatoes (okay so veggies and fruit hehe) and so far they look great!  I'll try to get more pictures after the A to Z challenge is over.  Right now I'm packing for a surprise anniversary trip my hubby is taking me on this weekend.  I still need to think of something for my W post and get it scheduled so I don't miss it when we leave tonight.  I'll get caught back up on everyone's blogs when we get back!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A To Z - U is for Useful

U is for useful, as in useful tips!  I'm going to share a few useful gardening tips since this is (or supposed to be) a farming blog hehe.

1. For hauling water put a trash bag in your bucket, fill with water, loosely tie the top, haul to wherever you're going and you won't spill a drop!

2. Cucumbers are sweeter when planted near sunflowers. They make great companion plants. Both have similar soil requirements and the cukes like to climb the sunflowers.

3. To quickly dry herbs in the summer, place them in a single layer on a your car. Roll the windows up and let them roast! Your car will smell good and your herbs will dry quickly.

4. Run your fingernails across a bar of soap to “seal” your nails before working in the garden. This will make the dirt come off your nails a lot easier when you are finished.

5. Use a laundry basket to collect veggies from your garden. When you are done picking, you can hose them off and basket acts as a strainer.

6. To have garden twine handy when you need it, just stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole, and set the pot upside down in the garden. Do that, and you'll never go looking for twine again.

7. The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don't pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you'll be amazed at how the plants respond to the "vegetable soup.

Sorry so short.  One of my pipes in the bathroom is leaking so I have to help hubby fix it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A To Z - T is for Teeth

For today's A to Z post, T is for Teeth!  Horse teeth that is!  The horse in these pictures is my Friesian/Arabian gelding Chrome.  This is from the last time he went to the dentist.  He hasn't had them done yet this year so I'll use these old pictures.

Horse's teeth grow for their entire lives because they are grazing animals and wear their teeth down.  Unfortunately horses can wear them unevenly which causes sharp points and hooks that can cause sores in their mouths.  They can also have retained caps (baby teeth), broken teeth, etc. so they have to go to the dentist every year (or more often if they have problems).

So check out these pictures of Chrome getting his teeth floated (basically means having the sharp points filed down).

Some dentists give sedatives, but other dentists don't use it especially if they use a manual file instead of power tools.  Chrome's dentist used power tools so he sedated him.  In the above pictures Chrome is standing in stocks which is basically a metal stall that keeps them from moving around too much.  It can also be used for cleaning wounds on legs without the vet being at risk of being kicked.

Now the dentist checks his teeth.  Chrome had two baby caps that didn't release when his adult teeth came in.

Then we put on the speculum which keeps the horse's mouth open while his teeth are being filed.

See how the speculum is holding his mouth open?  Then he puts the head harness on to elevate his head so the dentist can see into his mouth.

Here one of the vet techs was showing a kitten to Chrome, but it shows how the harness holds his head up.

Then the dentist uses either a manual file or a power file like the one in the picture to smooth down the teeth.  He even let me feel his teeth when it was done.  :)  After it's all done all of the contraptions are taken off and he's allowed to stand until he comes out of the sedation.  Then we load up and go home.  :)

Here are the caps and teeth that were pulled.  Horses have to have their wolf teeth pulled because they are in front of the molars and may interfere with the bit.  They also have shallow roots and are fragile so they are easy to break or damage.  It's best to just take them out as soon as possible.  Chrome ate that night like he wasn't in pain so having them pulled couldn't be too bad.

Anyway that is really only scraping the surface of information about equine (horse) dentistry, but I thought you might find it interesting.  :D  I can't wait to see what you guys chose for T!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A To Z - S is for Sunning

 For today's post I'm going to share some pictures my husband took of a turkey vulture Sunning on a tree in our yard.  He's getting really good at using my camera!  :D

Love this!

 Taking a break from sunning to look around.

 Back to sunning...

 ... and now the other side hehe.

 He was in a really tall tree.  The bottom of this shot is at the tops of the buildings.

I took this last one.  :)

Isn't that so cool??  Vultures may not be the prettiest birds around, but they are definitely cool to watch and photograph!  I hope you enjoyed my husband's pictures.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A To Z - R is for Recipes

I really don't care to cook at all, but I've had to learn to (haven't we all?).  After sharing my microwave recipes for M I want to share some other recipes that I actually enjoy cooking for R.


First we have Chicken and Rice Casserole  (my ultimate favorite comfort food)

A lot of people cook their rice in the casserole dish with the chicken, but I like to do it separately.  I also like to use bone in chicken for the flavor instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts like most people.  So I cook the rice and chicken (it can be seasoned however you like, I use poultry seasoning and garlic since I love garlic!) separately.  When they are done I take the chicken out of my casserole dish but leave the juice in it, then add the rice, a can of condensed chicken soup, a can of condensed mushroom soup, butter (this is optional), salt and pepper.  Doing it this way I don't normally add water, except for the little bit I put in the soup cans to swirl around to make sure I get all of the soup.  Stir well then add the chicken back into the rice and put it in the oven uncovered at 400F (should already be hot from cooking the chicken) and let it bake for 20 minutes.  That's to warm up the soup and meld all of the flavors together.  It is DELICIOUS!!!!  Also I wrote this from memory so I'm really hoping I didn't forget anything...


Next we have Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies (yummy!)

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, then let cool and harden (or eat it with a spoon while it's hot like I do sometimes hehe).


Now how about Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings?  Again I do mine differently than most people, so I'm going to post a popular recipe and then tell you what I do different.  :)

 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
 2 tablespoons butter
 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
 2 (10 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces

Place the chicken, butter and soup in a slow cooker.  Fill with enough water to cover. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High until chicken is fully cooked. About 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.

What I do is use bone in chicken once again (I've never been fond of boneless, skinless chicken breast...).  I cook the chicken by itself in the crock pot until it's done (it's very tender when cooked in the crock pot).  The cooking time varies by how much you do and if it's frozen.  Once it's done I fish all of the chicken out of the juice and set it aside to cool so I can tear all of the meat off of the bones.  I add the soup and butter to the chicken juice and let it all start warming up.  After tearing the chicken off the bone I put it back in the crock pot and let it all get hot again.  When it's really hot, almost bubbling, I start tearing the biscuit dough up and dropping it in.  Once it's all in I gently stir (actually stir frequently while dropping them in otherwise they stick together) and let it cook for another thirty minutes.  I keep the crock pot on the highest setting the whole time, but it will depend on how hot yours gets.  This is delicious for easy chicken and dumplings!  It's obviously not as amazing as home made dumplings, but that's just too much work for me hehe.


Next is Baked Ravioli!

1 bag (25 Oz. Bag) Frozen Ravioli
1 jar (26 Oz. Jar) Marinara Sauce
2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese, For Sprinkling

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 9×13 rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread 3/4 cup of the pasta sauce in baking dish. Arrange half of the frozen ravioli in a single layer over the sauce; top with half of the remaining pasta sauce and half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once, starting with ravioli. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot in the center. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

This is yummy as is, or if you like to experiment like me you can trade in Alfredo sauce for the marinara.  :D


Next is something I tried on a whim, thinking I wouldn't really care for it much (but that my hubby would) and was surprised I actually loved it!!  It's Crockpot Ravioli Casserole.

1½ lbs. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed (I used fresh spinach)
16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked
½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1½ cup mozzarella, shredded

Brown ground beef with onion and garlic. Put in crock-pot and add sauce, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook for 6-7 hours on low (it's been a while but I don't think I cooked it that long...). Add the last 4 ingredients during the last 30 minutes of cooking and turn crock-pot to high. Add the fresh spinach (I used frozen, it's all I had), pasta, parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella and mix it all up really well. Then add the last 1/2 cup of mozzarella to melt on the top. This is delicious!  It also makes a
 huge pot of food so be ready for leftovers (of course I was only cooking for two, if you have kids there might not be leftovers).


l'm going to do one more!  The thing is, I have not tried this one yet, so I have no idea how good it is, but it sounds great!  So if you try it before I do, let me know how it is.  :D  It's a Crockpot Queso!

1 block (32 Oz. Block) Velveeta Cheese
1 package (8 Oz. Package) Cream Cheese
1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel
1 can (10.75 Oz. Can) Cream Of Mushroom Soup
1 pound Ground Beef OR Sausage (or A Combination Of Both)

Brown ground beef or sausage (or both) in a pan over medium heat and set aside. Cut up the Velveeta and cream cheese into cubes and place into a crock pot. Pour in the Rotel and the cream of mushroom soup and stir ingredients together. Place the crock pot on low setting for an hour, letting the ingredients meld. After about 30 minutes, add the browned meat and continue to let cook, stirring as needed.

I'm hoping to try it soon!  Anyway I really hope you get the chance to try some of these and if you do I hope you love them as much as I do!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Curtains! And Dogs!

Since Sunday is our day off from the A To Z challenge, I thought I would update you all on a few things.  First I want to show you my curtains.  For those of you just joining us, my husband and I built a new house on my parent's (and grandparent's) property and it's still not done.  I don't have a kitchen, but other than that most of it is done except for finishing touches (like the curtains).  We still have interior doors and trim to paint, but I'll get to it someday lol.

For now though I want to tell you about my curtains.  I ordered curtains for my whole house right before I moved in.  They all worked great except for the French doors (they sent the wrong length), so I had to reorder them.  I also had a get a longer pole for a curtain rod since mine are wider than the window it was on before.  Well then the longer pole is thicker so we had to trim out the mounts so it would sit down in them right.  Finally, it is all done and I love it!  By the way these are Walmart blackout curtains and I LOVE them!!  My bedroom is so dark you can sleep in the daytime without the light bothering you.  It helps keep the house cool in the summer too.  They aren't that expensive either.  :D

So here is a picture.

The thing hanging above it is my wire for a surround sound system we will put in someday.  Sorry I forgot to pick up my dog's bones and that random fishing bobber lol.  The French doors are so wide I put three curtains on them and gathered one at each side and one in the middle.  I never really open that door so it's not bothersome at all.  Also the curtain is a dark chocolate brown, the pole and mounts are black to match my black trim.  Did you notice something outside my window?

This is without the flash on.

Yep, my donkey was grazing out in the yard!  The French doors definitely have the best view in the house!

Now for an update on the dogs.  First up is my mom's Yorkie Mac... please don't laugh! I gave him a haircut and I've never, ever shaved a dog before.  I had to use scissors on his legs and face because my clippers weren't strong enough to get through the thick hair, so it's a bit uneven, but I think it makes him look rugged.  What do you think?  I love how his ears stand up a bit better without the long hair on them.

Here is a picture of him with his hair longer for a comparison.  It also shows you how fat Jackal was...

I know this is a different angle, but I took it to hopefully show you that Jackal is starting to get a waist again!!

So far I haven't cut back on his food.  I just made sure no one was feeding him dog food, treats or scraps and started exercising him again.  He's slowly, but surely improving.  I haven't taken him back to weigh him in a while, but I'll do that when the A To Z challenge is over and I'll get some better comparison pictures.  :)

I'll be back to my A To Z posts tomorrow.  I need to go get caught up reading all of your blogs now.  Later!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A To Z - Q is for Quack

Hey everyone!  Q is for Quack, quack, quack!  Anyone have ducks?  How about Muscovy ducks?  I LOVE Muscovies!  I'll share some pictures and info on this awesome breed of duck.  :D  First of all, those red growths on their faces (as seen in the picture above) are called caruncles.  The drakes (males) have more caruncles than the hens (females) and they also have a small crest of feathers on their heads (in the picture above he has his about half raised).

Domestic Muscovies come in all sorts of cool colors, as you'll see from all of the photos.  In the wild they are blackish with large white wing patches.  The wild Muscovies are native to Mexico and South America. Although they come from a warm climate, they adjust really well to colder weather.  Even when it's below zero outside you'll find my Muscovies huddled around the pond.  They even play in the water when it's that cold and don't even seen to notice the temperature!

This young Muscovy has not grown a full face of caruncles yet.

Muscovies are large ducks.  The males can weigh up to eighteen pounds!  Females are about half their size.  They can have up to a 54-60 inch wingspan too.  They also have very sharp claws and strong legs and wings so it's not a bird you want to mess with when they are scared or angry.

One thing that makes Muscovies popular is because they are quiet!  They do not have the loud quack that most ducks do.  The males make a low breathy call and the females a quiet trilling coo.  Another benefit is that they like to eat flies.  :D  I have sat and watched ducklings catch and eat so many house flies that they could barely walk!!!  Their diet in the wild consists of the roots, stems, leaves and seeds of aquatic and terrestrial plants, including agricultural crops, as well as small fish, reptiles, crustaceans, insects, millipedes and termites.  I provide my ducks with free choice duck pellets, but most of their diet in the summer consists of things they forage for on their own.  :)

A couple of interesting facts about Muscovies are that they have claws on their feet and sometimes roost in trees at night and they don't have to have a pond!  Regarding roosting, mine prefer to sleep on the water or huddled up next to the water.  Regarding the pond, most Muscovies love having a pond, but it's not necessary as long as they have a deep bucket for their drinking water source (as opposed to the shallower ones that chickens drink out of) to stay clean.  If you want Muscovies and don't have a pond, but want to provide something for them to play and bathe in, just get a kiddie pool!!  Mine love them and I even have a pond lol!

Well that's all I can think of from the top of my head, but I have a few more pictures.  I hope you've enjoyed learning more about these fun ducks.

This beautiful girl is one of my hens that is setting on eggs right now!!

Speaking of eggs, I almost forgot to mention they make great mothers!!!  My Muscovies hatch out their own babies and completely take care of them by themselves (other than the feed I provide)!!  Some of mine have raised as many as 14 ducklings!  Obviously not all of them survive because mine are free range and the predators will get them, but they still do a great job.  :)

Also their eggs are yummy!  They are bigger than chicken eggs, the yolks are thicker and they are richer, but they are very good to eat!  :D

Friday, April 18, 2014

A To Z - P is for Photography

I just spent all morning on the river fishing with my dad and husband and I'm exhausted, so for P I'm going to share a bunch of my favorite photos that I've taken over the years.  I've shared these before, but it's been a while.  I'll make captions below the photos for new readers.  :)

 A squirrel at a local park!

 My 2009 Friesian/Arabian Chrome.

 My Muscovy drake.

 My 2008 Beagle/Mountain Cur dog Jackal.

 Another Muscovy.

 My best friend's bird house.

 A peacock at a local garden.

 A lioness at an out of state zoo I visited last year.

 Also from the zoo.

My friend's Friesians.

 One of my chicken's eyes.

 A cardinal.

 My 2001 Siberian Husky Storm.

 Dogwood bloom.

 The sunset over a local lake.

 My 2008 Beagle/Mountain Cur dog Jackal when he was a year old.

 The one and only horse race I've ever seen in person.

 Jackal again.

 My 2009 Friesian/Arabian gelding Chrome.

My Boer doe Jasmine (sadly had to sell her 
when my husband lost his job).  I miss her everyday.

  A blue heron from the same place as the squirrel above.


 Chrome when he was less than a year old.

 One of the Sweetgrass turkeys I used to have.

 Pekin duck I used to have.

The ones below are all from my yard.


I hope you enjoyed all of the photos!  I'm looking forward to seeing what you posted for P!