Friday, September 25, 2015

Improving Yourself with Free Resources

School is back in session. The long days of summer are over. The first day of fall as arrived, bringing with it crisp air, and turning leaves. It is a time of the year when we here at the Wandering Wonderful homestead start to make plans for the long winter days ahead. Last year we had a relatively mild winter, we were only snowed in for 2 weeks. We spent the winter months making plans for the farm, drawing up plans for various projects (Hoop Run) and starting a blog. This winter is dedicated to self improvement. We have found a variety of free services that we plan on utilizing.

Online Free College Courses
I will admit, while in college I hated taking online classes. Now I enjoy the ability to further my education while still wearing my pajamas. Classes at are free, with fees if you chose to get a certificate to verify you passed the course. EDX is governed by governed by MIT and Harvard. Open learning is the way of the future.

We are both learning Portuguese (Brazilian) at the moment using Duolingo in addition to conversing with native speakers. The format of Duolingo makes learning a language game-like and fun. They have several language programs to choose from, many Duolingo members are learning multiple languages at once. They will soon be adding Klingon, I for one am excited about learning Klingon. English is our primary language, Portuguese is the first foreign language the Wanderer has attempted to learn. I speak a little Lakota (one of my grandfathers was Lakota), I think this has gave me a slight advantage in learning Portuguese.

Part of TED's mission statement boasts "we're building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world's most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other" That is a driving philosophy behind the team here at Wandering in the Wonderful. We seek to be always improving and engaging with the world around us, teaching and learning.

A site with articles that cover nearly every aspect of homesteading. We are still new to the world of homesteading, returning to the lives our grandparents lived. This has been a key resource for us as we grow and develop the farm and adapt our lifestyles.

Friday, September 18, 2015

PVC Chicken Run/Hoop House

At one time most of our neighbor were tobacco farmers. PVC hoop houses were a common sight. Many in the area still use hoop houses to get an early start on their seedlings. We took the idea in a different way. This spring we experienced a chicken explosion! We hatched out many chicks, but for safety reasons we didn't want to put the babies straight into the coop with our adult chickens. We also desperately wanted a way to reap the benefits of having chickens in our yard, without the concerns raised by free ranging.
Normal hoop houses are built using a wooden frame, the PVC pipes are inserted into holes drilled into the wood frame. Plastic is then stretched over the hoops to make a greenhouse. They are not portable or easily movable. We needed something that was easily movable. Ultimately we wanted something that 1 person could move around the yard without the aid of a four wheeler. 

Large 4 inch PVC drain pipes ended up being our go-to frame for the hoop house/chicken run. They come in 5 foot lengths, we joined two lengths together with a coupler to make a frame that was 10X5 rectangle. We drilled holes evenly spaced down both 10 foot sides and slipped 10 foot lengths of 1 inch PVC. This gave us a great domed hoop house shape. 

We used the same pipe that we used for the hoop "ribs" to frame out a door for one of the 5 foot long ends. We then stretched chicken wire across the whole frame. Using hog rings to join the pieces of wire together and zip ties to attach the wire to the PVC frame. 

This has worked well all summer long. We currently have 1 5x5 "broody run" were we are keeping a hen with her sole hatched chick. and 2 10X5 runs for chickens of various ages. We have just use tarps over the coop to sheild chickens from the weather. Soon all the chickens will be going into our main coop and the PVC runs will be stored in the barn. When the time comes for starting seedlings we plan on stretching plastic over the PVC chicken runs and using them as hoop houses for starting seeds. 

All in all this was a great project. Each run cost around $200 for supplies, and I could haul all of the supplies home from the store using my car!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Books to get you in the Halloween Spirit

Halloween is my holiday. I have no problem admitting that I have several totes full of Halloween costumes, I love getting dressed up, I love the history and the lore. I am already planning my first horror movie marathon. My family is the same way. My dad use to dress up as Jason Voorhees to scare mine and my sisters friends during sleep overs. The Wanderer isn't as in to Halloween as I am, and unlike me he is a complete non believer in ghosts, hauntings and things that go bump in the night. I recently picked up a book about EVP's written by a New England based author/investigator. This book as really gotten me in the Halloween spirit. The book is serious, but ghosts and Halloween have always went hand in hand for me. Here is a list of books that put me in the Spooky Spirit.

Ghosts Along the Cumberlands, William MontellI believe this may be the first "ghost story" book I read, and peaked my interest not only in ghost stories but in the author William Montell. Montell was a professor at Western Kentucky University. He is a noted  folklorist and oral historian, taking on the important task of preserving the rich storytelling tradition of Kentucky. I have had the pleasure of meeting Montell and listening to this rich storyteller in person on numerous occasions. To date he has written over 20 books, not all of them ghost stories. 

Dead Whispers, A.E. AngelThis book is unique because it inculdes a CD

of the EVP recordings A.E. Angel writes about in her books, allowing us the readers to listen to and draw our own conclusions. She also weaves in history about the area of New England that she is writing about, because to most paranormal investigators that historical context of the area is an important part of their research. A.E. Angel is the pen name for Luann Joly, the founder of Whaling City Ghosts based out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. She was also part of the Bridgewater Triangle documentary.

Ghost Soldiers of Gettysburg, Jack Roth Gettysburg, Pa may be one of the most heavily investigated places in the US. I have personally been to Gettysburg 10 times. I love the history of the area, I love the beauty. I have spent countless days wandering every inch of the battlefield. Yes I have even had a ghostly encounter on the battlefield. This book is one of the best paranormal books about Gettysburg I have found. It is well written and provides a wealth of historic facts that shape the paranormal elements of this place. 

Ghost Hunters: True Stories from the World's Most Famous Demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren
Ed and Lorraine Warren are two the most controversial paranormal investigators in the field. The movies The Amityville Horror, A Haunting in Connecticut, The Conjuring, and Annabelle have all been inspired by famous Warren cases. This book is their stories in their own words, the horrors, the demons, and the frightened spirits that they confronted in their very long career in the field of investigating and demonology. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Leaf Peeping Road Trips

I went camping this weekend. I left home Friday morning, Set up an old canvas tent in a field with about 40 of my friends. Rain Friday night, Saturday evening and all night Saturday couldn't put a damper on our fun. When I awoke Saturday morning to the sound of an 8am mess call on the bugle the weather had taken a distinctively chilly turn. I wrapped myself up in a wool cape and shuffled out to the fire. Fall was officially in the air. 
I love fall. I love watching the leaves change. I am lucky to live in a place that usually has a pretty wondrous fall leaf peeping season, comparable to our spring Redbud season. I hope each and every one of you take the time this fall to drive slowly down a scenic stretch of America and enjoy the beauty of fall.

The Covered Bridges Byway, Ohio
The nations longest and shortest covered bridges are just 2 of the 18 covered bridges you will trek across on this winding road through Ashtabula County, the heart of Ohio Amish country. Some bridges date back to the 1850's. I cannot think of a better combination than covered bridges and fall foliage. 

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina/Virgina
This 469 miles stretch of breathtaking, jaw dropping views earned this scenic byways a place on this list. This winding road through the Blue Ridge Mountains was built during a very desperate time in this nations history, working on this project were people from the Works Progress Administration, Emergency Relief Administration and 4 Civilian Conservation Corps camps. This project put America back to work. 

The Kanc, New Hampshire
Kancamagus Highway (Route 112)  through the White Mountains will take you through covered bridges, passed water falls, and some of the best fall foliage in the state. A 37 mile trek that is well worth your time. 

Acadia National Park, Maine 
This park is year round fun and beauty. Any time of the year you will find something to do, and the beauty of the area will make you want to come back year after year. Fall is my favorite time of year in Acadia, the vibrant mountainsides come to live with fiery shades of reds and golds. If you are a photographer or painter this area was made for you. The  mountains, an ocean shorelinewoodlands, and lakes that make up Acadia were original home to the Wabanaki people

Friday, September 11, 2015

Random Facts Friday

1. The US Army admitted it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas agents into the ocean from 1944 to 1970, along with 400,000 chemical filled bombs & more than 500 tons of radioactive waste.
2. It is illegal to spay or neuter your dog in Norway except under very specific circumstances.
3. 100% of Earth's ocean floor has been mapped to a maximum resolution of around 5KM.
4. 1.3 million Earths could fit into the Sun!
5. According to the Bible, David was offered the king's daughter if he came back with 100 foreskin of slain enemies. He came back with 200.
6. In 2011 a man in Sweden was arrested for splitting an atom in his kitchen!
7. WWII Allied soldiers would fire thousands of rounds at random over the German trenches to boil the water in their machine guns to make tea. (And people wonder why a war costs so much! And those British love their tea)
8. In Ancient Rome, the punishment for killing one's father was the death penalty, which consisted of being sewn in a sack with a viper, a dog, and a cock.
9. Hallucinatory "voices" seem to be shaped by local culture. In the US, the voices are harsh and threatening while those heard by Schizophrenics in Africa & India tend to be benign & playful.
10. The logo of the Royal New Zealand Air Force is the Kiwi, a flightless bird.
11. Michael Jackson wanted to do a Harry Potter musical, JK Rowling said no.
12. California's official state animal is extinct.
13. A British POW captured by the Germans in WWI was freed to see his dying mother, then went back to the prison camp because he gave the Kaiser "his word" he would return.
14. The US has 19 aircraft carriers, compared to the rest of the world's 12 aircraft carriers combined.
15. Rastafarians are legally allowed to possess Marijuana in Italy due to it being a "sacrament" to the religion.
16. New York ' s area code is 212 because it was the fastest number to dial on a rotary phone.
17. During a car crash 40% of drivers never even hit the brakes.
18. Mount Everest shrank 1 inch due to the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
19. It costs $8,876 per year to own & maintain a car in the US. That's $443,800 in 50 years!
20. More than 86,000 people are injured each year in the US alone due to tripping over their cats & dogs. (I trip over the Wonder dogs often)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Things to do in Rowan County that doesn't involve Kim Davis

I am certain most of you have heard of Kim Davis and Rowan county at this point. As so often the case when Kentucky is the focus of the news, old stereotypes have been brought up, Mrs. Davis hasn't done a lot to improve Kentucky's image with the rest of the world. But Kim Davis isn't Rowan county. I have mentioned this area a time or two on the blog. Morehead, and Rowan county is a delightful place, snuggled into the hills, a place where you can experience world class hiking, mountain biking and fishing, in a charming small town environment.

Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail stretches 307 miles from Burnt Mill Bridge Trail Head in Tennessee to Rowan County. A portion of the trail runs through downtown Morehead. The trail, which bares the name pioneer Daniel Boone was given by Chief Blackfish passes through 4 recreational parks,  Daniel Boone National Forest, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Natural Bridge State Resort Park, and two large recreation lakes, Cave Run Lake and Laurel Lake.

Cave Run Lake, a 8,270-acre reservoir lake in the Daniel Boone National Forest bills itself as the Muskie Fishing Capital of the World. The largest muskie caught in Kentucky was caught at Cave Run. Numerous hiking trails, a large man made beach area expansive playground makes Cave Run a big hit with locals. The lake also makes for a very nice spot to watch meteor showers.

Morehead Arts and Eats Fest, over 60 vendors line main street on Saturday, September 19 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This is the prefect event to pick up unique, one-of-a-kind arts and crafts for the upcoming holidays. The food vendors are second to none, you can usually find one or two local Amish and Mennonite families selling dried apple pies, apple butter and fresh bread. 

Cave Run Storytelling Festival, September 25-26, 2015

Large tents dot the shore line of Cave Run Lake, deep in the heart of Daniel Boone National Forest. A prefect setting for the countries best storytellers. For the past 17 years this festival has strives to keep the Appalachian tradition of storytelling alive. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Why we don't free range

Weather to free range or not is a greatly debated issue in the chicken world. Its something that everyone who owns chickens has to work out for themselves. What works best for their property and their needs.

Before we purchased our first chickens we did a lot of research and we discussed the logistics of raising chickens. We had a large building that had sat neglected for several years, we knew this would be a perfect chicken coop. But it wasn’t “close” to our house. If we are standing on our porch we can see the coop, but a decent size yard and a huge garden plot would be between us and the chickens. This meant if a predator attacked we may not be able to make it in time to save our flock. Would a predator attack? Yes. Our neighbors “free range” their dogs, and apparently our property is part of their “range”. We also have coyotes and cougars in this area, that would welcome the handy meal that a slow moving chicken would make.

While we live on several acres the house and the coop are in close proximity to a busy road. Cars do
not stop for slow moving chickens fulfilling their dream of crossing the road. Ultimately their safety is our responsibility and the best way to keep them safe is to keep them contained.

If we free range we would never have any guarantee that they would stay on our property. Our neighbors may fail at their duty to keep their animals on their property, but we refuse to be like those neighbors. I recently had a friend on Facebook complaining because his neighbors had asked him to keep his chickens on his property. He couldn’t seem to understand that some do not want chickens tearing up their property and pooping on their porch. Our animals are our responsibility and it's our duty to keep them on our property.

To allow greater access to vegetation we have built 3 mobile runs out of PVC and chicken wire. These contraptions are easy enough for 1 person to pull them around the yard by hand. These are not used for winter quarters, for winter all chickens must report back to the main coop, but it makes a great summer home.

I just cannot in good conscious let my little feathered breakfast makers roam free, it would be to heart breaking to lose one to traffic or a predator. Not that accidents don't sometimes happen. Not long after we bought our first chickens a relative and his grandson came up for a visit for the summer. The teenage boy would sneak into the coop at night. At one point he let two chickens out. We found feathers scattered across the yard in the morning. The coop door now has a lock on it. Earlier this summer, just after the Wanderers aunt moved into the place close to the coop we had a rooster escape. Her St. Barnard tried to "help us" catch the runaway rooster. Thankfully we caught the rooster before Big Mo. I have never felt more like Rocky Balboa than that moment chasing a chicken around the yard, I am ready to fight Apollo Creed.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Kentucky is Strange.

Early Native American settlers in Kentucky knew this place was odd, they have various stories and legends to illustrate their claims. If you have lived in Kentucky you know it to be true. We are a weird state full of quirky, unusual people. The following is just a sample of things that make Kentucky weird.

1. Two of the most haunted places on earth, according to the folks that track that sort of thing,
are located in Kentucky. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, and Bobby Mackey’s Music World. Since I have a whole post dedicated to Waverly Hills I won’t dwell on it here. Bobby Mackey’s is a nightclub in the northern Kentucky town of Wilder. There is a plethora of urban legends about this club, from suicides to murder, bootleggers and old school gangsters. Some even claim it is a portal to hell. Bobby Mackey himself has tried to link at least one of the alleged hauntings to the murder of Pearl Bryan. The 22 year old Indiana native was found decapitated a few miles from the club. Her head was never recovered. No hard evidence exists to link her 1896 with the site of Bobby Mackey’s.

2. We are the site of, to my knowledge, the only incident of a UFO hitting a train. The first I heard about it was in the book Weird Kentucky, if its in a book it must be true...right? Here is the deal, no one is dispute that a train suffered extensive damage that night. According to official reports from CSX debris fell off a hillside and damaged the train. They have an official report on the matter. NUFORC, the UFO reporting people also have a file on this. I will let you decide for yourself which version of events you believe.

3. Sometimes meat just falls from the sky. On March 3, 1876 Mrs. Allen Crouch was in the yard
A preserved sample located
in the Arthur Byrd Cabinet, 
Transylvania University
making soap in the rural Olympia community, when suddenly out of a clear sky meat began to fall. The shower was contained to a relatively small 100-by-50-yard area near the couples. Samples of the flesh were sent to various labs which confirmed it to be lung and muscular tissue from a horse. What caused this is still up for debate, but most agree that engorged vultures vomited up their meal.

4. Kentucky is home to the only town built inside a meteor crater. Middlesboro, at town of around 10,000 people sits in the Cumberland Gap, where Daniel Boone and early settlers ventured into the state. Although settlers had been in the area since the late 1700’s and the town was officially founded in 1886 it wasn’t until 1962 that the U. S. Geological Survey identified it as an impact crater from a meteor some 300 million years ago.

5. We have blue people. Devotees of a certain college team may claim to bleed blue, and Paul Karason dosed himself with enough colloidal silver to turn himself blue but only the Blue Fugates of Troublesome Creek can claim to be naturally blue. Martin Fugate settled in a rural area of Perry county known as Troublesome creek. He met and married a local girl named Elizabeth Smith. Little did the pair know that they both carried recessive genes for methemoglobinemia. They had high levels of methemoglobin in their bodies resulting in a blue appearance. In the 1860’s that a hematologist that the University of Kentucky heard about the “Blue people” and traveled into the mountains to investigate things for himself. He was able to successfully treat them with methylene blue clearing up their blue complexions.

6. We elect dogs to political offices. You may have heard that Lucy Lou, the Border Collie mayor of Rabbit Hash will announce her candidacy for President Labor Day weekend. I am personally a little apprehensive of having another Kentuckian as president. Remember the
whole civil war was fought between two native Kentuckians. Lucy Lou is one in a long line of Dog mayors of Rabbit Hash the tradition dating back to the late 1990's. The tiny community on the banks of the Ohio river is home to 315 people and one amazing old country store.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Festivals You Don't Want to Miss

We are quickly approaching fall in the Bluegrass state, and fall means 1 thing...FESTIVALS.
I love fall festivals, the sights, the smells, the funnel cake! Most of Kentucky's 120 counties hold festivals, allowing an intrepid traveler to see the diversity of the Bluegrass state. Here are a few festivals I am looking forward to this fall.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Bardstown Ky
SEPTEMBER 15-20, 2015
Kentucky is known as the birthplace of Bourbon, and Bardstown is the Bourbon Capital of the World. Its true, they have trademarked it. Over 6 days, Bardstown and 12 Kentucky bourbon

distilleries will provide you and I with demonstrations on the craft of barrel making, mixology lessons, taste testings, a historical tour and ghost walk. Rounding out the festivities is a good old fashion bootleggers train robbery. Don’t feel bad about handing your money over to the robbers, all donations collected go to Crusade for Children charity.

Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, Morehead Ky
September 11-19, 2015
Over 100 bands and 20,000 people flock to this little 1400 acre plot of land outside Morehead
Kentucky every September to listen to the best bluegrass has to offer. Country artists are not excluded, but this is, and will always be a bluegrass celebration. This year country artists John Anderson, Tracy Lawrence and local boys Sundy Best join Bluegrass greats like Dan Tyminski and Blue Highway. Bring a tent, camper or RV, to best experience this event you should settle in for the weekend.

World Chicken Festival, London Ky
September 24-27, 2015
KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken got its start here in the Bluegrass state. The World Chicken Festival pays homage to Col. Harlan Sanders and the origins of the KFC brand. You will find
the standard festival activities, music, carnivals, arts and crafts. The real gem of this festival is the world's largest chicken fryer. This skillet is huge measuring 10 feet, 6 inches in diameter; 8 inches deep; 8 foot handle; and weighs 700 pounds total. You will want to snag a piece of fresh fried chicken from this world famous skillet.

Kentucky Apple Festival, Paintsville Ky
October 2nd & 3rd, 2015

Unlike a lot of other festivals all of the food booths are local organizations. Many of them get the
bulk of their yearly funding from sales during the Apple Festival. Free concerts Friday and Saturday at the main stage, and clogging near Paint Creek. Lets not forget to mention 3 large tents filled with local artisans selling their creations.