Hill Country Sonata

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Sunfire sparkling on the Pedernales River

Soaring a red-tailed hawk on the wing

Cedar and Cypress perfume dance on the water

Bull frog on the bank calling out to his love

Fireflies flicker in the wildflower valley

Cicada chorus singing their lullaby song

Whippoorwill lamenting a nightbird’s serenade

Hill Country Sonata playing my memory’s tune

Bending my heartstrings like a sweet lover’s touch

And calling me back to those hills that I love

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More Texas Birds

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Male Lesser Scaup – Lake Fork, Texas

Male Lesser Scaup – Lake Fork, Texas

White Pelican – Lake Fork, Texas

White Pelican – Lake Fork, Texas

Red Shouldered Hawk – Mansfield, Texas

Texas Birds of a Different Feather

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My husband captured these shots this week.  The group of vultures were roosting on one of our old trees that fell victim to the recent years of drought here in Texas.  The male painted bunting stopped by our koi pond for a quick bath.  I wish the bunting photos were a little better, but we had to take them through the glass of our back window.

Salmon Croquettes with Sour Cream Dill Remoulade

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For the last week my darling daughter Rachel has asked me to make her some “Smack Mackem” which is her silly term for Salmon Croquettes.  I’m not sure if this is a Southern dish or if people everywhere eat Salmon Croquettes, but I’ve eaten them my whole life.  When I was a kid we dipped them in ketchup, but now I like mine with a little Dill Remoulade.  Since mayonnaise is forbidden in my household, (Rachel hates it) I always substitute it with sour cream or greek yogurt.  Have you ever eaten Salmon Croquettes?  If not, here’s my version.  I hope you’ll try it sometime and let me know what you think.

Salmon Croquettes:

1 egg beaten

14.75 oz can Wild Alaska Pink Salmon crumbled and bones removed

1/3 cup chopped onion

2 TBS Sour Cream

1 TBS Melted Butter

1/2 cup Flour

1/2 cup Yellow Corn Meal

1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning or use Salt, Pepper and dash of Garlic Powder

Oil for Frying

Mix all ingredients and form into 4 equal sized patties.  Meanwhile in cast iron or heavy skillet add 1 inch of oil and heat on Medium setting.  Place patties into hot oil and cook about 4 minutes per side or until browned.  Place on parchment paper to drain.


Sour Cream Dill Remoulade:

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 1/2  tsp Dill Weed

Mix together and serve with Salmon Croquettes.

The Incredible Edible Egg and Putting the Chic in the Chicken Coop

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When my family moved to our country home in 1995, we were eager to embrace all the wonderful opportunities that country living had to offer.  We mended the old fence and barn and soon added our share of farm animals to complete our little country haven.  Our animal menagerie included a flock of laying hens and a rooster to give us fresh eggs, but over the years our flock decreased and eventually our fresh egg production came to an end.

Recently, after purchasing a $4.00 carton of organic cage free eggs, I discovered all the eggs were disgustingly runny and obviously inedible.  Having this less than satisfactory experience with store-bought eggs, and being aware of the absolute horrors chickens have to endure in the commercial egg production industry, we decided to rebuild our chicken coop and start enjoying our own farm fresh eggs again.

My husband spent all weekend building the new coop and we went to our local feed supplier and bought 4 baby turkeys, 10 chicks and 1 rooster   Like our Rat Terrier, I too find watching the baby chicks completely spellbinding and I have begun to named them based on their personalities.

My favorite is the largest Black Spanish turkey that I have named Hey Zeus.  He is just a baby, but he’s already trying to strut his stuff.  I don’t think the girls are impressed, judging by the expressions on their faces.

Now for my contribution to the new chicken coop; the decor.  My husband is quite the handy man and we always have wood scraps leftover from past DIY projects.  I found these weathered wood scraps and thought they would work out great for making some homemade signs.

Next I gathered up my acrylic paint, paint brushes and paint sponges.  Then I painted the wood a solid color and outlined the edge with a contrasting color, creating a framed effect.

Then I purchased two different stencils.  One was a cursive type and one was block type letters

Using a sharp pencil, I traced out the word Farm Fresh on the wood using the cursive letters and the word EGGS using the block letters.

Then I highlighted the word Farm Fresh in a bright yellow and painted white eggs around the word EGGS.

Next I carefully painted in the words. You will need a steady hand and a very small detail paint brush.

And here’s the finished product.  Add some eye hooks and a chain to hang it and throw on a couple of coats of clear polyurethane to weatherproof and it’s ready for the coop.  Now to decide what to put on the other two signs.

The coop will only be used to protect the babies while they are growing.  As soon as they are big enough, the door to the coop will be left open and they will have free access to the yard and pasture, as nature intended.  If you would like to help support current legislative efforts in banning the barbaric and cruel practice of battery caged chickens in the US egg industry; please visit the Humane Society of the United States website by clicking on this link:  Help Improve the Lives of Laying Hens

The following information was taken from the Penn State Live website.  You can click on the heading below to see the full article.

Research shows eggs from pastured chickens may be more nutritious

The study compared the eggs of the pastured hens to those of hens fed a commercial diet.

“Compared to eggs of the commercial hens, eggs from pastured hens eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids,” she said. “Vitamin A concentration was 38 percent higher in the pastured hens’ eggs than in the commercial hens’ eggs, but total vitamin A per egg did not differ.”

 “Eggs of the hens that foraged grasses had 23 percent more vitamin E than eggs of hens that foraged clover. “Results suggest that grass pastures may enhance vitamin E in eggs of pastured hens more than clover,” she said.”

Waxahachie Courthouse

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I snapped this photo today of the Waxahachie Courthouse.  The two old cars invoked thoughts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, young outlaw lovers that went on a two-year crime spree (1932-1934) which ended in a bloody ambush lead by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.  The movie Bonnie and Clyde starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway was scripted by Waxahachie native Robert Benton, and filmed in this area 1967.  Many old-timers still tell stories of their encounters with the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.