Our House

Our House

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Our Pesky Raccoon Is Relocated

We had an exciting day.  Not very exciting for most people, but it was for us.  It all started a couple months ago.  We had a single raccoon visiting regularly.  We are used to raccoons.  We see them often on the trail camera, but they always keep their distance and never come too close to the house.  This one was very brave.  He would often eat under the birdfeeders, then pretty soon all the birdseed in the feeders disappeared.  Then one morning all the jelly we put out for the Baltimore Orioles was completely gone.  I pointed the trail camera in the direction of the feeders and soon learned the raccoon was moving closer and closer to our house.

This raccoon was checking out the feeders while we were still up.

He started coming even before dusk.

He started knocking the jelly feeder we have hanging on the window to the ground.  He would take the bird feeder we had hanging on the porch completely off the hook.  We did grease the poles with petroleum jelly which helped.  He stopped climbing the poles.  He would either slide back down the pole or raccoons don't like greasy feet, but it didn't help the hanging feeders.  Every night we had to take in the hanging feeders and plants.  He would even turn the bird bath upside down.  Yesterday, after noticing he ripped our screen, we decided this had gone on long enough.  We took a trip to the Tractor Supply store to buy a live trap.

On the way, we saw an interesting sight.  My husband said "look at the two turkey vultures eating the road kill.  I hope they move".  As we got closer, I saw they were not turkey vultures but two eagles eating at the side of the road.  They flew before I could get a good picture, but they were definitely eagles.

They flew as we approached.

When we got back home, we unpacked the trap.  We have cats in the area, and we were afraid of trapping them.  A friend told us that raccoons like sweets and cats don't.  He said we should put marshmallows in the trap, and then we wouldn't have to worry about the cats.  About 7:00 pm my husband set up the trap right next to the bird bath.  Right on schedule the raccoon came.  He stuck his paw in the trap and pulled it out quickly.  It was like he knew how to trip it without getting caught.  Then he went to the side of the trap and stuck his paw in between the metal grate.  Gradually he worked the marshmallows through the grate and ate them.  The little rascal.  My husband found a plastic container.  Even though it was almost dark, he put four marshmallows into the container and placed it in the trap.  He reset it and came inside.  We don't know exactly when it happened but before I went to bed, I looked out the window with a flashlight.  There he was, we caught him.  Since it was too late, we had to deal with him in the morning. 

The poor thing looked so sad.  His reign of terror had come to an end.  A lot of people hate the raccoons and the destruction they cause.  Many of those people destroy the animal, but I don't have the heart to do that.  We decided to relocate it to the wide open spaces far away from here.

My husband loaded him onto a cart and took him to the vehicle.

My dad wished him well and said goodbye.

He said goodbye back.

We traveled to a lovely new home, and the crate was opened.

Off he went to FREEDOM!

Tonight we will see if this raccoon was our only culprit or if he had partners in crime.  If need be, we will relocate more.  For now we will hope any others can live in harmony with us as it has been for many years.

The trap we bought came with a smaller bonus trap for small animals.  All I can say is chipmunk watch out, we are coming for you and all of your friends.  You may be cute, but you can't be digging up my potted plants and making holes all over the yard.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Making Sauerkraut In A Quart Jar

A few weeks ago my son in law took a business trip.  When he returned, he surprised me with a gift.  He knows I make kefir and believe in probiotics and fermented foods for a lot of reasons.  I have mentioned making sauerkraut for a long time, but I didn't want to mess with making large quantities in a crock.  He found a fun way to make sauerkraut in a wide mouth quart jar.

It is called the Kraut Source.  With this contraption, you can make sauerkraut in a week.  What you need to do is get a pound and a half head of cabbage.  Shred it as fine as you want your sauerkraut to be.  I used a fine shredder.  It was about the size you would use for coleslaw.  Then put it in a bowl and sprinkled with a tablespoon of sea salt.  At this point you mix it with your hands by massaging the cabbage until liquid starts to form.  Then you tightly pack it into the wide mouth jar.   Pack it tight with no air bubbles.  The liquid will rise to the top.  There should be about an inch of liquid covering the cabbage.  Most cabbage gives off enough liquid, but if a little more is needed you can add more brine made with salt and filtered water.

At this point you just assemble the kraut source lid according to the directions that come with it and secure it with the wide mouth ring.  Water is put in the top reservoir.  This specially designed top allows the carbon dioxide to escape as the cabbage ferments, but it doesn't let air into the jar which is what causes spoilage.  I waited ten days for the fermentation process to occur, but a week would be fine.

This is the finished product.  I think it will be excellent for Reuben sandwiches or whatever else a person uses sauerkraut for.  The benefits of fermented foods are so good that I will probably just eat a small amount plain everyday.  http://www.krautsource.com/blog/

There are also other videos on the kraut source page to see the actual process plus recipes for other things.

My next project will be to ferment veggies like carrots and cauliflower. I also want to try adding various herbs and spices to test out different flavors. I can't wait to see how that turns out.

Plain carrots waiting to ferment in a few days.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Summer Day With Jack

Jack with a fresh new haircut and a lost front tooth

Yesterday our daughter needed us to watch our grandson Jack for the day.  Jack will be seven in a couple weeks.  He came with his eyes glued to his Samsung tablet.  I was trying to figure out how to limit his screen time, but I think his parents were way ahead of me.  Within a short time, he came to me asking for a charger.  His tablet needed charging.  I told him we only have Apple products and those chargers won't work on his tablet.  He accepted it well, and so our day began.

Today my husband posted this on Facebook.

This is exactly what we did.  We did a bunch of ordinary things with him.  First of all Jack and I did a little cleaning up and vacuuming.  Then we went around and looked at the birdhouses and talked about the bluebirds and the orioles that were coming in large numbers to eat the grape jelly we put out.  Next we checked the hanging baskets, and Jack picked a ripe cherry tomato and popped it in his mouth.  He told us that 7 times 8 is 56 and that any number divided by its self is one.  These were taught to him by his brother Sam.  So we asked him if he knew that any number times 0 equals 0.  He was going to see if his brother knew that.

After a while it was time to help papa.  We had two dehumidifiers that would frost up and another that didn't work at all.  They were all old and were not energy efficient.  They were just sitting in our storeroom.  It was Jack and papa's job to bring them out to the garage and take them apart so the part with the cooling freon could be taken to the recycler.

Jack needed help getting them up the steps from the basement, but after they got to the top, it was free sailing for him.

We found Jack some safety glasses and a carpenter apron.  Then they started taking apart the dehumidifiers.  They would take the screws out, and Jack would put them in his apron pocket to keep them from falling on the garage floor.

Despite the best efforts to keep the screws from falling on the floor, one escaped.  That is where the big magnet with a handle came in handy.  Jack really liked using that.  He found the missing screw and then proceeded to see what else it would stick to.

He discovered a contraption in our garage that he wasn't sure what it was.  Papa told him it was for crushing aluminum cans.  Jack came running into the house to ask me if we had any cans to crush.  We don't drink much soda, but I found a couple for him to crush.  I think this was better than an expensive toy.  He was sorry we didn't have more cans to crush.

After lunch and some snacks, it was almost time for mom to come.  Imagine how excited she was when he wanted to bring home a souvenir from the day.  It was a fan from inside one of the dehumidifiers.

He had big plans for the fan.  He did a few experiments during the afternoon.  One of them included a control knob and the crushed soda cans.  He would spin the fan by hand until the can flew off.

The next adventure of the day was driving to a nearby city to see his sister play softball.  I went along because I don't get to many games.  In fact, this was the first one this season.  Papa stayed home with great grandpa so I could go.  Jack gets a little bored with the games, but he really liked playing on the playground adjacent to the ball diamond.

Our granddaughter Melissa also gets a little bored with the games.  She likes being on the team, but she will never be a dedicated star athlete.  She isn't the least bit competitive.

Melissa would rather be performing in plays.  Here she is as the Wicked Witch in Snow White.  She really does look angry because Snow White was the fairest of them all.

I wasn't able to see Sam yesterday.  Sam, Melissa's and Jack's brother, was with his dad.  They had a very hard day.  One of Sam's teammates from his football team was tragically killed in a ATV accident.  The whole team went to the funeral home visitation.  This is the first death experience for many of the boys and being it was a friend made it very very difficult.  I am very proud of them for being able to do such a hard thing.  I'm not sure I could have gone through with it at age ten or eleven.

So as my husband's posting says, we tasted the tomatoes, we cried at death and we made an ordinary day into to something special to remember.  I think Jack enjoyed it too.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Bunn Coffeemaker

I love to drink coffee.  Not the strong fancy coffee, but the common ordinary coffee you make at home.  It is the first thing I do in the morning. As soon as I get up, I make a pot of coffee.   I used to buy less expensive Mr. Coffee type coffeemakers.  They would last a year or two, quit working and I would go get another.  Then 13 or 14 years ago, I received a Bunn coffeemaker for Christmas.  My sister had one at the time, and I loved it.  The best part is that you can make a pot of coffee in three minutes.  I used that coffeemaker everyday for all those years.  For the past few years it leaked onto the counter.  I didn't care.  It made coffee in three minutes, and I could easily wipe up the counter.

My old friend coffee pot.

Then recently I decided I should really buy a new one.  We shopped around and found a pretty good deal although they are somewhat expensive.  I don't like it as well as my old one because it is louder. When the water heats, it is very loud.   It does brew the coffee equally as well as the old one and I do like the new coffee pot design and best of all, it doesn't leak.

New machine that looks nearly the same.

Of course being the frugal person that I am, I decided to take the old coffee maker apart to see what was wrong.  I found a gasket that had deteriorated.  I put it in an envelope.  I was going to check at the hardware store to see if I could find a similar type gasket.  Then I got the bright idea to email the BUNN company to see where I could purchase this part.  Within two hours they emailed me back.  They said they would send me a repair kit with instructions at no cost to me.  I thought that was really good customer service, and I had nothing to lose.  Two days later the part arrived.  It took five minutes to install and to put the machine back together.  I set it up and it doesn't leak at all and makes wonderful coffee.  I wish I would have thought to email them years ago.  I can't return the new one because there is nothing wrong with it and I threw away the packaging.  I will keep the old coffeemaker.  I will put it in our camper and if we ever go camping, I will have my favorite coffee. 

I moral to this story is that it doesn't hurt to ask.  With email it makes the job even easier.  So next time you have a broken appliance, see if there is an easy fix.  I really am pleased with the BUNN corporation and their customer service.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Angel Number 600 Suggests That All Is Well In My World

This is my 600th blog post.  It is hard to believe I have written about that many topics.  When a friend encouraged me to do this and actually signed me up with Blogger, I couldn't think of one thing to write about.  I still struggle from time to time with subject matter, but then some little thing will spark an idea.  Some of the topics are of no interest to anyone and some topics spark a lot of conversation. 

I decided to look up the number 600 to see if it has any significance in the universe.  This is what I found.

Angel Number 600 suggests that all is well in your world.

And so for today, that is a true statement.  All is well in my world, or at least good enough.  My heart breaks for so many others who are struggling with tragedy and illness.  May they find peace.

Besides my family and friends being part of my wellness with the world, so are (of all things), our resident bluebirds.  Anyone who has read my stories will know about my struggle between the House Wren and the Eastern Bluebird.  Earlier this Spring I wrote about the thrill of seeing a pair of bluebirds inspecting the birdhouses.  Then later how they built a nest and the female laying five eggs.  I was so happy until I witnessed a house wren destroying three of the eggs by piercing them and throwing them to the ground.   Two of the eggs remained, but they never hatched.

I was sure that was going to be our only chance to have nesting bluebirds this summer.  I cleaned out the nest and the two unhatched eggs.  Within a few days, the pair of bluebirds were back.  Almost immediately they began making a new nest in the same house.

The bluebird collecting nesting material.

After the first egg appeared, we put on a new improved wren guard.  The old guard only partially covered the entrance hole.  I was under the assumption that the birds needed to see some of the hole.  We decided to extend the guard so none of the hole could be seen from the front, and then the house wren couldn't easily dive in and out.  With one egg in the nest, we figured the mama bluebird would figure out how to get in and out to protect the existing egg and hopefully lay more.

That was three weeks ago.  About a week ago  I checked the nest, there were five perfectly arranged eggs.  The parents have been very protective and yesterday I heard tiny tweets coming from the house.  The bluebirds have been in and out with food.  We decided it was time to take the wren guard off.  In the nest were newly hatched baby bluebirds.  As they grow the birds will have to be able to see the world outside and eventually leave the nest.  The wren guard worked this time.  Hopefully we will be successful again next summer.

2-3 day old Bluebird babies in the nest after the guard was removed.

We sat outside a while today just enjoying the day.

At one point we even had a visitor.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cedar Waxwings

These early days of June are some of my favorite days.  The temperature is perfect in Wisconsin and there is a lot of wildlife activity to observe in our area.  I have posted some similar cedar waxwing photos on my Facebook page, but I also want to share them with my other readers.

One of my favorite times is when the Cedar Waxwings come in to eat the berries off our Serviceberry tree.  Serviceberry trees attract all kinds of birds.  Besides the cedar waxwings, the orioles and cardinals enjoy the berries. The waxwings love crab apples too, so keep an eye out.  Sometimes these beautiful birds come in large flocks to eat the dried up crab apples.

This Cedar Waxwing found a ripe serviceberry.  Notice the beautiful markings on this bird.

Serviceberries (also called June berries)  look like a blueberry.  Some say they taste a little like them too.  I have never tried them. The birds eat them before they are totally ripe.  I like the tree but it only looks nice for a short time.  The blossoms are pretty in the spring and the berries are nice, but by the middle of summer the leaves start to turn brown and they fall from the tree earlier than most of our trees.  I don't know if the tree does this in other locations.  The one in our yard seems to be very sensitive to heat and moisture, probably because of the sandy soil which doesn't hold moisture.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Painted Lady Butterflies

Some time in late April our daughter went to pick up our grandson from 4K.  They had a class project going on which looked like a lot of fun.  They wanted to try this project at home.  She got the information and placed an order from http://www.insectlore.com/.  In a short amount of time the package arrived.  It was a batch of small caterpillars.  These caterpillars came in a container containing food and a net called a live butterfly pavilion.  The caterpillars were quite small but grew very fast.

The caterpillars after a week or so.

It only took around ten days before the caterpillars began to form their chrysalis.

The beginning of the chrysalis process.

Here the chrysalis's are formed.  It only took 1 1/2 hours for the entire process.

After the chrysalis's are formed they are transferred to their pavilion home.  After they hatch into butterflies  they will be contained in the pavilion habitat until they are ready to be set free. 

After another ten days the hatching process began.  One by one the butterflies emerged.

When they all hatched, it was time to set them free.  They took the habitat outside and Ewan unzipped the netting.

The butterflies weren't that eager to leave.  Some spent time sitting on Ewan's finger and others sat in the trees and on the grass.

These butterflies are called Painted Lady butterflies.  The entire metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly only took about three weeks.  It was a great learning activity for the whole family.  Some of the butterflies stayed in the area for a few days, but then they were off to start their life cycle again.

A Painted Lady butterfly about to be set free.