Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve here at the Chicken Ranch and all is quiet.  It's a real wintery day with rain and wind and getting colder.  Perfect weather to stay inside until Santa gets here.  At least I think he's stopping here.  I could be wrong.

Meanwhile, the Chicken Coop is sitting idle because of an electrical problem.  It appears that a rat chewed through an electrical wire 'under' the flooring.  I can't remove the flooring to get to it so I'm having to re-wire around it.  But I only got about halfway done before my knees and back gave out.  Plus, we had to go to New Orleans for a wedding shower.  It was a fun trip which we will repeat in three weeks for the wedding.

Then I'll wait for a nice warm sunny day when my bones aren't creaking to tackle the Coop project again.

Maybe there's some football on TV to keep me occupied this weekend.  If not, there's always a book to read, movie to download or a nap to take.

Merry Christmas all...

Friday, December 09, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Most Americans have plenty to be thankful for.  So 'Thanksgiving' is truly a day to celebrate.  And that's exactly what we did this year.

Judy's brother, Curtis, and his wife Sandra drove over from Kerrville, Texas. Her sister Joyce, and husband Allen flew over from New Orleans.  Actually, they live in Metairie. 

Needless to say, the kitchen got a workout, as did all four of the Big Green Eggs in The Coop.  The smells in the air was wonderful and all of the food turned out delicious.

We also took advantage of the occasion to celebrate Sandra's 70th birthday.  That meant extra dessert for everyone (who can turn down birthday cake?).  By the end of the day we were all popping but we still had to watch some football to complete the day.

Here are a few photos of the occasion.

Yes, we had a good time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Gate

If you have visited us during the past 20 years probably saw the Texas Gate I made to give us some privacy in the back yard. It was 7' tall and weighed in at about 100 pounds not counting the side panels.

Well, time, weather and hurricanes did a number on it so I built a new one from the ground up. I included a few changes. It is also 7' tall and weighs about 100 pounds.

I think it looks pretty nice.

Plano Outlaw Eggfest

This was the third Plano Eggfest and it was well worth the trip.  We had a great time the entire weekend.  And as usual, we met a lot of new friends and tasted some very good treats. 

I took a load of video and photos (plus those of other Eggheads) but with the holidays and my gate project I've had no time to assemble them into a movie.  I promise to work on it.

Now we're all looking forward to Salado on March 17th.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Texarkana Eggfest

Ever since we got into cooking on the Big Green Egg back in 1999, we have met some of the nicest people in cities and towns across North America.  We have formed friendships and bonds that will last the rest of our lives, all because of the Big Green Egg.

We try to attend Eggfests as often as possible.  This is where we Eggheads gather to enjoy cooking and sharing recipes with old friends and new friends as the number of Eggheads grows.

The latest Eggfest was in Texarkana, Texas, on October 1st.  Most of us out-of-towners went up a day or two early and returned home on Sunday.  It's about a five hour drive for us.  The host dealer, Dot's Ace Hardware, went out of their way to make us feel welcome to Texarkana and provided us with Big Green Eggs to cook on. 

There were approximately twenty cooking teams prepared to cook enough food to serve up to 600 local residents who were curious about the Big Green Egg.  Yes, we all worked fast and furious to feed them and eventually we had more food than empty stomachs.  We filled them up with a wide range of delightful dishes just to show them how well the Big Green Egg cooks food.  At least 22 visitors purchased Big Green Eggs and will now begin to have the kind of fun we have when we cook our our Eggs.

As always, we had a lot of fun, met a lot of people and introduced Egg'n to a community that loves good food just like everyone else. 

I put together a little video of some photos I took during breaks.  Enjoy...

Kitchen Remodel

We've lived in this house for 23 years and have improved upon a lot of things we simply could not afford when we bought the house, or for that matter, for many years afterward.

We did most of the improvements ourselves because it was the only way we could justify the expense and because we enjoyed doing it ourselves.  Of course we had to learn as we went in most instances but even the learning part, mistakes and all, were fun.

The most recent improvement was to get granite countertops.  The old Formica countertops had pretty much seen their day.  So new countertops became the highest priority.  It was expensive but well worth it in the end, especially when we opted to tile the back splash ourselves.  In addition, we installed the plumbing which included a hot water recirculating pump that will probably save us 15,000 or more gallons of water that went down the drain while waiting for it to get hot.  By us doing the plumbing and back splash install ourselves we saved $1,000 in labor costs.  And we think we actually did a better job than what a contractor would do.

Take a look at our latest project.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Denver Eggfest

Judy and I decided that it was time for us to see some of those famous Colorado mountains we've heard about all our lives .  And to make our decision easier we decided to time it with the 2011 Denver Eggfest.

This post is only about the Eggfest. 

I made a short video to make it easier to see why we had fun and met some nice folks.

I'll post later about the other things we did.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ballooning over Arlington

In another life, we lived a few years in Jacksonville, Florida.  Actually, Arlington, and we loved it there.

One of the many great joys while living there was a hot air balloon ride we took on my birthday.  It was a total surprise to me, one that I will never forget.

Judy woke me before dawn and said, "Get dressed."  She didn't say why.  Then we were out the door driving to I didn't know where. 

Within minutes we arrived at the practice field at Jacksonville University where a number of hot air balloons were being readied for liftoff. 

I thought she just wanted me to see the balloons lifting off, but no... not her style.  She said the yellow one was ours.  I could hardly contain my excitement while the huge balloon filled with hot air and started tugging to break free from Earth.  Within minutes we were 'Up Up and Away.'

The sunrise was just starting to make a little crack over the beach to the east and the town below was coming alive with traffic.  The buildings and bridges downtown were starting to shine in the sun.  It was breathtaking to say the least.

We were drifting south, then east, then west as we changed altitude.  Within minutes we passed close enough to our old apartment on the water that we could clearly see it.

Then we were headed right over our house.  We were close enough that we could hear our dog, Punkin, barking at us.  We even talked to her but I doubt that she heard us.  We didn't want to yell and wake up the neighbors.

A couple of "WOOOOOOSSHHHHH's" from the burner and we went higher and westward, then southward, eventually making our way to Baymeadows Country Club where we gently sat down on a fairway.

We helped collapse the balloon and load it in the chase car, drank our customary champagne and smiled with the realization that this was one of our life-adventures that we would never forget.

Rather than ride back to the start point in a chase car, we decided to walk over to Judy's Mom's apartment there at Baymeadows and surprise her.  We did surprise her but as we told of our adventure you could tell from the look in her eyes that she wished she had been along.

There was only 8mm film movie cameras back in those days so we borrowed one for a few shots.  Plus, the balloon people must have taken some too.  Anyway, we had the film converted to the more modern VCR format.  Then we tried having that converted to CD but it didn't take.

To recapture these unforgettable moments I mounted my Flip video camera in front of an old TV that was still connected to a VCR player.  It definitely isn't Hollywood quality but I think it captures enough of the moment to allow us to re-live it and smile whenever we want. 

Just as important, we can now share it with everyone.

Take a look...

Sunday, June 05, 2011

We Went To Hawaii

The long-time dream to go to Hawaii was finally realized when we flew first class to Honolulu and cruised the islands in a penthouse suite aboard the Pride of America .  It could not have been nicer, even in our dreams. 

Here is our ship:

Here is our itinerary.

Here are the videos that we have put together so far.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Birthday Party Day 8

More to come...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Green Eggs & Ham....burgers Fest in Athens, Texas

Athens, Texas is known as the home of the hamburger.  Yep, the wonderful hamburger that we all know and enjoy frequently got its start in Athens, Texas. 

But Hamburgers is not the reason we went to Athens for the very first time, it was Big Green Eggs.  We were invited to attend the very first Athens Eggfest which was being held at the Texas Freshwater Fish Hatchery just east of downtown.  The name given to the Eggfest is Green Eggs & Ham....burgers Eggfest. 

We really didn't know what to expect because we learned a few weeks before that every weekend there are 300 or more people, mostly kids, there to learn more about fish and even fish for them in one of the lakes set aside for potential fishermen and fisherwomen.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived is that the place is huge.  Not only that but it is very professionally designed with the public in mind but the entire staff is there to make sure visitors enjoy their adventure.

The reason the site was selected for an Eggfest is because the Director is an avid Egghead.  His name is Allen Forshage.  He wanted to introduce the Big Green Egg to folks in the area and what better way than to just invite them out to see and taste the Big Green Egg in action. 

Joining him in his venture was his wife, Darlean, who just happened to be the Director of Tourism for the City of Athens.  What a team they are because it wasn't long before some major players got involved.  Among them, Brookshire Grocery and Morrison Supply, a Big Green Egg Dealer. 

From the start, they didn't intend to follow the pattern set by previous Eggfests around the country, they wanted to make it bigger and better.  First of all, it had to be something that we Eggheads would have a good time participating in, and second, the public would remember the day as a fun and informative "Eggsperience."

It turned out to be that and more. 

I could go on and on but the best way to see what happened in Athens is to watch their video and look at some photos.

The video:


The photos:!/pages/Texas-Freshwater-Fisheries-Center/128462433868391

Hope to see you in Athens next year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Salado Egghead Gathering

I finally got around to editing the many videos and photos taken at the Salado Egghead Gathering back on March 26th and posted the movie on YouTube.

Here's the link if you care to take a look...

Next stop, Athens, Texas this weekend for the Green Eggs and Ham....burgers fest.  Should be another great time.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

70th Birthday

Today is my 70th birthday, or as I prefer to think of it: 52/18th birthday.

Nothing is planned.  In fact, I may just go back to bed now that I've read the paper and cooked breakfast.  What could be better than being totally relaxed?

We celebrated my birthday two weeks ago while we were in Hawaii.  Yes, after 38 years, we went on that dream vacation we always wanted.  It was wonderful.  Hawaii is all its cracked up to be, and more.

I'm still working on the movie version but even my best attempt at sorting and editing the thousand or so photos and hundred or so video segments won't come close to experiencing it in person.  The islands were wonderful and the people were wonderful and the ship was wonderful.  It was much more than we expected.

Stay tuned for the movies...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Catahoula Leopard Dog

As I may have mentioned to some of you, my great grandfather is credited with helping breed a line of working dogs called "Catahoulas."  Or as the state of Louisiana refers to them: Catahoula Leopard Dogs.

In fact, it is the State Dog of Louisiana.

I grew up knowing them as Catahoula Curs.  Almost anyone with a farm or ranch or a need to hunt had at least one.  They were better than farm hands, or in some cases, better than children when it came to physical work.  They carried more than their own weight and demanded nothing in return except to be respected and fed. 

There's no limit to the amazing Catahoula stories that can be told by old-timers in the area of Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.  Fortunately, one person from Abita Springs, Louisiana has taken the time and made the effort to tell the Catahoula Cur's, uh excuse me, Catahoula Leopard Dog's story from the beginning.  His name is Don Abney.  His web site is:

Just this afternoon I received an autographed copy of Don's latest book, "The Complete Louisiana Leopard Dog."  My name is mentioned in the Acknowledgments section although my only contribution was to tell Don a couple of stories about growing up on my grandfather's farm.  My grandfather had a Catahoula that answered to "Sonofabitch."  That dog would work all day and then become a watchdog at night.  And I'm pretty sure his IQ was higher than mine.

Anyway, if you are a dog person, you really need to get to know the Catahoula.  The best place to start is going to Don Abney's site:   Then if you are as intrigued as I was by what you read there, buy the book.  Don has done his homework and put his findings to print.

Thanks Don.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tracye Dianne Hill December 27, 1966 - March 12, 2011

Tracye was my niece.  She was born when I was in the Philippines, stationed on Luzon Island.  I didn't know for a few days afterward but in the same letter my sister, Tommie, insisted that I be Tracy's Godfather, even if by proxy.  Of course, I said yes.

I couldn't wait to see her but it didn't happen until July the following year, 1967.

She was a beautiful baby and quickly became accustomed to my non-stop photographing of her using my 35mm camera I purchased in the Philippines.  It was top of the line at the time and took great photos.  Only I was into 'slide' photography and many of my slides were lost when my Mom and Dad's house burned.

But I have one photo of Tracye that I took at my Mom's birthday party.  I think it reflects just how beautiful she was.

Judy and I attended her funeral in Monterey, Louisiana.  It was one of the best funerals we have ever attended.  She was obviously loved by many.

We learned that her death was probably brought about by years of worsening symptoms associated with seizures.  She definitely had a rough time of it in her final years.

Her three children, Steed, JayCee and Gus, turned out well.  I'm sure she was very proud of them.

Rest in peace, Tracye.  You brought a lot of joy to many people in life.

Uncle Jr.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cold Winter Be Gone

The weather is okay right now, February 18th, but the past couple of months have been really cold.  Got down into the teen's two or three nights, but there were many nights in the low to mid 20's.  I don't recall it even freezing last winter.  If it did, it was just barely below the freeze mark. 

No matter, we're soon to be complaining about the pollen, then the heat and humidity, then the cold again.

We missed our Friend's birthday party on January 1st in San Antonio so we decided to go see him on January 30th while in town for a house blessing for Judy's cousin, Jane Lee.  We had never been to a house blessing before and it came as somewhat of a surprise when Jane Lee's husband, an Episcopal Priest, blessed the front and back yards and every room in the house.  I suppose that makes it easier to give guests the complete tour and saying this room is blessed but this one isn't.

There were a lot of distant relatives there, most of whom we haven't seen in years.  It was fun talking to them as if it was only a few weeks since we last saw each other.

Judy's brother, Curtis and his wife, Sandra, drove down from Kerrville for the event.  The four of us had lunch in Market Square before heading down to the house blessing.

The next day we drove to the north side of San Antonio to visit our Egghead friend and spent an enjoyable day there.  Another Egghead friend and his wife from here was also there.  So I thought I'd make a movie of the day. 

We stayed until 3:30 and left for home.  I'm not too keen on driving after dark anymore so it was a relief when we pulled into our garage about one minute before it was totally dark.

Meanwhile, Judy has already started cleaning out flower beds and trimming some plants so they will have a fresh start.

We're both getting 'Eggcited' about the upcoming Salado Egghead Gathering in Salado, Texas on March 26th.  We've already had over 100 pre-register for the event so it should be fun.

We're also headed up to Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Eggfest on April 16th.  It's always fun.

Then on April 21st we're leaving for Hawaii.  We'll cruise to all the islands and do all the tourist things then fly back to Houston.  It's one of those trips we've wanted to do for 35 years.  Best to do it now before we get too old and sickly to enjoy it.  It should be loads of fun.

After we return from Hawaii, we will be going to the Green Eggs and Ham....burgers Eggfest in Athens, Texas on May 21st.  It's at the Texas Freshwater Fish Hatcheries and promises to be a fun event as well.

I'm sure there will be something else to get into after that. 

At least this year is not as depressing as 2010.  That's a good thing.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thirteen Days Into The New Year

"Last Year" seems so long ago, but it has only been thirteen days.  Actually, fourteen if you are a numbers person.  Even so,  it still feels like a long time ago.

The weather has ranged from cool to cold so I'm spending most of my time inside.  I'm just not a cool/cold weather person.  I wouldn't survive a day up north where temperatures routinely get below freezing.  And snow.... no way can I live in that stuff.  But the pictures of it sure make it look pretty.

I did visit my doctor and got all good numbers.  Even lost a few pounds.  Actually, I lost about 27 pounds but put some of them back on during the 'eating season,' uhh, I mean 'holidays.'  I'm trying to slim back down before summer.

I've spent some of my 'inside' time working on the web site for the Egghead Gathering in Salado, Texas on March 26th.  Here's the link to the site if you're interested:

We were invited to our neighbors house for shrimp, chicken and sausage gumbo tonight.  It was delicious, as good as most Cajun restaurants.  I had two big bowls of it over rice.  That's not going to help me lose weight but it sure was good.

Now I'm sleepy.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Coop Christmas Party - The Movie

It took me long enough but I finally finished the video of the Coop Christmas Party.  Almost all of the videos and photos were taken by others.  I don't remember picking up a camera...

I'll try to do better at the upcoming Salado Egghead Gathering in March.