Late start? No problem!

Here in Oklahoma planting starts on April 15th.  Normally, I like to try and squeeze it in before then and just pray for no freezes. However, this year I got busy with life and by the time I wanted to plant it was the end of April. Then day after day we had rain, like a LOT. My garden looked more like a pool than a a place to grow veggies. I didn’t want to lose time by waiting to plant so I decided to start a small indoor garden! It was super easy and worked great. If you find yourself in the same predicament I have an easy solution.

I didn’t have to go buy anything, for me that’s a win!

What I used:

Small left over birthday party cups (not plastic)

Bucket of dirt

Seeds

Cookie sheet

Marker

Yep it’s that simple!

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I did this while watching a movie with the hubby. Having a towel down made for easy clean up!

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 I filled each cup about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Planted my seeds, labeled my cups and watered!

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The storms continued for several weeks, but I’m thankful for the rain. We don’t ever complain about to much water!

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It wasn’t dry enough to plant until the end of May. So me and the little’s got to work.

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I dare say I have as much fun in the dirt as they do.

 

Planting day was super easy! I just split the cup down the side, put them in the ground and covered with fresh dirt.

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I didn’t plant corn in my small cups, but planted them straight in the ground. I don’t know how they would handle being transplanted. We’ll just enjoy corn later in the season!

It’s always fun playing in the dirt, then the clean up. I think we could have planted a garden in the shower. Don’t you just love those little toes??

DSC_0209.JPG– The Clucky Hen

13 Reasons Why…A lesson for parents

 

The new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has really gotten a lot of attention since it aired. Not all of it positive attention, but attention none the less. The only reason I began watching it was because of the hype behind it. The longer I watched and the more episodes I made it through the more and more it bothered me. It truly bothered my soul. I thought about it through my day, as I watched my own kids go about their day and watching others around me. There are so many messages it gives, how NOT to treat others, how to be a real friend, how to stand up for people, or maybe how to look at your own kids in a different light (not just how you think you know them). These are all great messages but the biggest point I got from watching was not what Netflix had intended.

At 28 I don’t feel like my high school years were very long ago. Granted I do see A LOT that has changed in the last 11 years since I graduated. I believe many kids (in general) still act the same towards each other by being a bully, shy, awkward, friendly no matter what, naive, careless, hurtful, and to be honest just an idiot. However, what I’ve noticed as the biggest change is how kids RE-ACT to a situation. I will go ahead and ruffle some feathers and say, I don’t believe the heart of the issue is the kid but the parents. The way we teach our kids about how they see themselves or feel about themselves…Something is MISSING.  Maybe it’s the way adults are treating each other that’s setting our kids up for failure?

** Alert** I will be going through several parts of this series, discussing different characters and the rolls they played. If you have children that are teenagers I would suggest you not allowing them to watch it. There is a lot of mature scenes and a lot of profanity that needs to be guarded, especially with teenagers that may share likeness with some of the characters. However, I do think it’s a great thing for parents to watch and learn about school life today and what their own teens might be dealing with. I hope this show can help parents start an open dialog with their kids to learn and talk about their lives, all the good and ugly.

Synopsis from Netflix: After a teenage girl’s perplexing suicide, a classmate receives a series of tapes that unravel the mystery of her tragic choice. Hannah Baker’s suicide shocked her family and friends. Now the dark secrets that killed her are coming to light.

Hannah Baker was a girl who, on the outside looked happy and normal but on the inside was struggling with some serious problems. Life problems. People problems. Self-worth problems. The list goes on. Don’t we all struggle with this? The heart of the issue is not the problem itself, but the decisions made along the way and how the problem was solved.

There seems to be a lot that goes wrong for Hannah and it’s portrayed that she is in theory doing the right thing and still getting the short end of the stick (which in many ways is true). Her friends turn against her and are cruel. A boyfriend betrays her. When she reaches out for a new friend things turn upside down yet once again. Even when things do seem to be going right her own head gets in the way and screws it up. Then when she reaches out for help the issues she’s facing aren’t taken very serious, ending in her untimely death.

To start off she meets a boy (a popular jock) in the park, without her parents knowing. The fun ends with her going down a slide while he snaps a picture from his phone. Then they kiss, her first kiss. The next day this picture gets sent around school. Rumors fly that they had sex and she’s now classified as a slut, when in reality nothing happened but a kiss.

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From this point on she is labeled, because of ONE picture. Other problems with boys ensue down the road. In our world of social media everything is open for anyone to see. Are you guarding your children’s life with social media? Do you know what’s going on under the surface?

The choice Hannah made to meet this boy, maybe began innocently, but had a spiral effect on her life and future choices. You can see how she is searching. Searching for meaning and reason. Searching for MORE than she currently has.

“I wanted a purpose, a reason for being on this planet.” – Hannah Baker

This sounds deep for a teenager, but it’s what we all want. What every human is searching for. It’s how God made us. He made us to be missing something, but that something is Him. We will never fill that hole with anything else but God. No amount of money, friends, possessions, career aspirations, or relationships can replace God. We can try and be happy for a while but in the end we’ll still want something more.

Do our kids know who they are? Its not about being the most popular, having the nicest stuff. It’s about our character and that’s established by knowing who you are… a child of God.  Nothing else can satisfy that longing.

When we know who we are (in Christ), cruel words and actions hurt but we know where to turn. We know God is on our side and instead of maiming our identity it strengthens us when we come out of those trials, because we learn to lean on God.  It’s hard for teenagers to work through struggles because their brain isn’t developed enough emotionally.  So when they are dealing with something, even though it seems insignificant, to them it’s going to last a lifetime. It’s hard for them to see the future, they are focused on the now, with the pain and torment, but it doesn’t have to be like that. There can be excitement about the future regardless of what’s happening in the present! That mindset won’t happen without the knowledge of God!

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

That’s why knowing the word and God’s promises at a young age is so important. Parents!!  We’ve got to bathe our kids in Him and teach them what God says about them. One day they are going to start hearing what the world says about them and it won’t be pretty!  If they’re not grounded in the truth they will believe what the world says. Stupid, ugly, lazy, slow, dumb, mean, hateful, or heartless. Instead fill them with God’s word, smart, beautiful, loving, caring, giving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, faithful, gentle and selfless. What do you want your kids to believe about themselves? More so how do you want your kids to treat others and say about others?

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If a child believes the good things, that will spill over to those around them. That doesn’t mean they will be perfect and always do or say the right thing.  None of us do or say the right thing. Try and remember yourself as a teenager or even now. We all make mistakes, its how we deal with those mistakes! When you do something wrong do you ask for forgiveness and try and make amends? Or do you blame the other person for what you’ve done and play the victim? Remember it starts with the small things!

The more I watched the more I hurt for these kids. God is definitely missing and it’s why we see such a rise in drastic events happening. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in teenagers. How can a kid, that has SO much life to live feel like they are so worthless that death is better than life? I firmly believe it’s because God isn’t their center at home. One of the biggest lies the devil will throw is to make you think you’re all alone. He wants to isolate you and pour the shame and guilt on where you feel you’re the only one going through the situation. For many this makes it almost impossible to reach out to anyone for help, which is the most important thing that could happen!

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This leads me to another point with parents. We aren’t here to raise our kids. We are here to train our kids. Leading and teaching them how to be an individual. How to be a friend, co-worker, mother, father, helper and so much more. The classmate that discovered the tapes, we find out is Clay who in reality was extremely close with Hannah. After finding the tapes it literally turns his world upside down. In one scene he’s out with a friend (Tony) and his parents are discussing his actions over the past weeks. He’s been getting into trouble and having issues with other kids.  After some discussion about friends, Clay’s dad says something that really stuck with me.

“My sense is that Tony is a very good influence.” – Matt Jensen

Wow….Seriously? Here I go with ruffling some feathers. Do you know, really know the friends of your child? Do you know their parents? Do you know their general belief’s? I’m not saying you need to get their tax returns and their attendance at church. What I am saying is as a parent we should be so involved with our kids that we KNOW their friends, almost as well as we know our child. We should have a relationship with their parents. Friends are so important, and they shape us into who we are as adults. Being around friends that encourage us, help us through hard times, and tell us the truth is what brings us closer together. On the opposite side a bad friend can tear us down and ruin our character, not to mention the trouble it can lead to.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

We have to be in tune with our kids and their friends. I say a simple prayer daily over my kids. I have since our first born and we had an amazing sermon from Joe Mcgee (yes I talk about him a lot). He handed out cards with 3 points to pray daily for your kids. These 3 points will shape them forever, if you don’t have a prayer like this it’s never to late to start!

  • I pray my children grow up to know the Lord and fear Him.

  • I pray they are surrounded by good, godly friends.

  • I pray that the Lord will pour out His favor over my children.

Now start praying and doing! Friends are important but only if they are the right ones. Having friends means sleepovers are inevitable but there’s good news! You don’t have to be okay with your kids going to a sleepover. Make your home the place where everyone hangs out.  Having a house full of kids might sound like a nightmare, but the more comfortable it is the more they’ll WANT to come back and stay. There will be a lot less trouble done under my roof than somewhere I’m not able to supervise the situation.

That being said you don’t have to be a helicopter parent. Have you heard the parenting phrase, Trust But Verify? You can trust them to make decisions on their own and you can also call or drive to make sure they are doing what they said and they are safe. That’s part of our job!

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The last thing I want to talk about confirms to me everything I’ve already discussed.  In episode 12 Hannah describes the details of being raped. It’s not from a stranger on the road that threw her in an alley like we expect a rape to happen. It’s from a High School classmate that had already previously raped one of her friends. She gets in a situation where she’s alone with him, not because she wants to but that’s how the scenario unfolds. In the moment she tries to get away but freezes in panic and he has his way with her.  This is what happens all the time! We don’t plan to make bad choices or to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The devil plans it though. If we aren’t diligent in where are kids are, who they are around, molding their character they could easily find themselves in a situation they may not be able to get out of. That’s when trouble strikes.

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It’s sad that Hannah felt like she couldn’t get away. At that point she didn’t feel human anymore but an object. What’s also sad is that he didn’t view her as anything more than an object. Character goes a long way when it comes to how we treat people. Could this all have been avoided if different choices had been made? Of course! Those choices have to start with the parents, and they failed on so many accounts.

I’m also concerned with the boy that did this to her. Where are his parents? He had such low self respect that he had absolutely none for another human. He was numb when it came to people, maybe it was how he was treated at home? For some dealing with struggles/conflict they inflict pain on themselves, others might do it to someone else.

A lot may be left out from what is portrayed in 13 Reasons Why, I don’t see any parents involved with their kids. They have no clue what was going on but instead wrapped up with their own lives. We have been given a precious gift that we are made to mold and care for. I want to be the best steward over what God has given me and that most importantly is my kids!

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Right now the ruler of this world is Satan and he is the author of confusion. That starts young, if he has his grasp on a young kid it can grow and manifest into tearing that person up. So keeping your child under your wing, teaching them about God, and sheltering them in a way that keeps them safe isn’t a bad thing. That doesn’t mean they can’t experience the world. However, when they do experience it I hope they are so grounded in the Lord to know how to handle it and when questions arise or problems arise they know where to turn. Its hard to talk to teenagers about certain subject (sex, suicide, bullying, etc.) but that doesn’t mean we don’t talk about it.

Being open and honest with our kids is the best way to know whats happening. Then if they have a problem they’ll come to us for answers. This also will give us the chance to open up about our life as a teenager and the mistakes we made. Knowing your parent isn’t perfect but human and still made it out fine reassures them they can too!

I feel like there is so much more to talk about on this series. My hope is that we can change how we love each other and how we raise the next generation!

 

“It has to get better, the way we treat each other and look out for each other. It has to get better somehow.”  Clay Jensen (13 Reasons Why)

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– The Clucky Hen 

 

 

 

 

Creamy, Hearty, GUMBO

It’s the start of May and for the last several weeks we have been getting hammered with rain. It’s a typical season of rainy weather before Oklahoma’s scorching hot summer arrives. Although I am a bit tired of these dreary days, I know I’ll be wanting more rain in the middle of July!

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So to make the most of days like this, I like to break out one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s a stick to your ribs kind of food, filling the house with it’s rich smell.  I don’t make this a lot, frankly because it takes a lot more time. It’s one of those meals I have to plan for, or be stuck in the house to make. Which is why it’s so great for rainy days. However, once I know I’m going to make it I can’t wait for it to be done to eat it.

Gumbo….oh how I love you!

This recipe has been adapted from several other recipes I have tried and just didn’t have the flavor I wanted. I’m not sure how true authentic Gumbo is suppose to taste, but I know how want it to taste. Rich, creamy, hearty, and has you full after one bowl.

I’m guessing here….but I would say all together it takes between 1 and 2 hours to make this. That includes the prep work also, so if you have some time and your wanting to make an amazing meal for your family, this should seriously be on your radar!

CHICKEN & SAUSAGE GUMBO

  • 2 lbs Chicken
  • 1 lb or less smoked sausage
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped Bell Pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 lb okra
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4-1/2 cup bacon fat
  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive/vegetable oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • cajun creole
  • Gumbo File
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4- 1 cup flour
  • rice

I like to start off by getting everything I need out.

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Then begin with your chicken, cut it into bite size pieces and season it with creole. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes. Put flour, salt, pepper, creole and garlic powder in a bag and mix.

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While your chicken is resting cut up all your veggies and sausage.

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Now that you have everything prepared are you ready to jump in?

In a large stock pot cook your bacon. I have a small jar of bacon grease at all times but this is always a good excuse to cook bacon!

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Remove cooked bacon and add in your oil. Place your chicken in the bag of flour and shake to coat. Cook your chicken until it’s done. Nice and juicy!

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Remove your chicken and add your remaining flour mixture to the oil. On VERY low heat stir thoroughly. Simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes. Or if your me just stare at it and stir every 2 minutes.

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This is the MOST important part to making this gumbo the best! Do NOT SCORCH!! The longer this process takes the better to avoid scorching. The end goal is for your roux to be a smooth paste several shades darker than peanut butter.

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Once you have your roux JUST right (smooth and dark) add peppers, onion, garlic, celery and sausage.  Turn your heat up a little and coat everything with the roux and stir until veggies are wilted and onions translucent.

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Add in your bay leaf. Slowly pour in the stock and water, stirring well to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil.

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Add in your chicken and stir. At this point you can let it cook for a while to really soak in your flavors. Then 10-20 minutes before your ready to eat put in your okra and thyme. My okra was frozen so I just wanted it to be hot and still hold it’s form. I don’t like mushy okra in my gumbo. Now you can sprinkle in the Gumbo File and stir well. It’s also great to sprinkle a little in your bowl right before eating it. Just make sure it’s mixed in well.

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I start my rice when I put in the okra so I know everything will be ready at the same time. Right before serving remove the bay leaf and enjoy! This is also great the next day warmed up! After all the cooking I was so ready to eat it I forgot to get the finished picture over the rice! I can promise you though it was amazing!

– The Clucky Hen

Baby pigs are here!

So by now you all know I’m a little pig crazy. Baby pigs are in my mind the cutest farm animal around! In this post I’ll walk you through the birthing process of a pig. Every time is usually different though so we’ll just focus on our most recent litter, born March 27th.

Lets start at the beginning. We have 2 major show dates we aim for that people are looking to buy pigs. So in order to have pigs the right age to show at our local shows they must be born in a certain window of time. This can be tricky  making sure the heat cycle lines up to breed at the perfect date range. A normal heat cycle for a pig is 21 days, so if you don’t get them bred the first time, 21 days later you get another chance, but at that point you may be out of your window of time.

Below you can see our gilt Merida, she’s in “standing” heat in this picture. I sprayed boar scent in front of her and pressed on her back to see if she’ll stand. She’s standing still and doesn’t move for a few minutes. She’s ready to be bred!

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We don’t live breed, we Artificially Inseminate (AI) our pigs. That means we don’t have a boar with our females to get babies, instead we order semen from boars we hand pick and AI them. This allows us to look at our female and her faults, find a boar that corrects her areas of weakness to have a better quality set of pigs. I could literally talk all day about this but I won’t “boar” you with the details (pun intended). I know I’m hilarious.

A pigs gestation period is 114 days, in the pig world it’s also known as, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days. They can vary like anything else, but our sow Paisley is usually right on the money! This last litter she didn’t disappoint.

We have our pigs in a farrowing crate when it’s time. Farrowing just means giving birth to baby pigs. The crate we use is designed to keep the babies safe, as well as the humans helping out. There is a lot of negative talk from HSUS and PETA when discussing farrowing crates used for pigs. However, I can promise you for our farm I wouldn’t do it any other way and I’ll tell you why.

Here is a picture of a crate, nicely cleaned and ready for a new tenant.

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Its very common when a sow lays down to nurse her babies that she can smash and kill them. Some sows are better mom’s than others and are more careful, but even so it happens. When they are in the crate the death rate for babies goes way down because they can’t “flop” over and smash their infants.

Another reason we use them is for our safety. As good as Paisley is as normally, as a mom she’s extremely protective. Which I’m glad of, she’s doing her job. However, she’ll also bite your arm off if you get near her in the first 24-48 hours. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a pig growl, but it sounds like a mad grizzly bear and you don’t want to be close! While in the crate, we can assist babies during birth and don’t have to worry about losing a limb. There are also times where sows will eat their own babies, known as going savage. The best way to keep everyone safe and happy is having them in a crate.

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We try and keep watch, and 1-2 even 3 days before we expect birthing to start we load them in the crate. This allows them to relax and get use to their new home, especially for first timers. Before going in the crate they get a nice soapy bath to make sure they are good and clean before birthing. We want everything as sanitary as possible!

This is Paisley after a bath and getting a pregnancy photo shoot!

I check the sow several times a day to look for any changes. This includes swelling in her vulva and mostly looking for milk in her tits. Once I can squirt milk from her, I start checking about every hour. The hard part is those night watches, phew! However, once I get milk squirting its usually just a few hours later we get babies.

Pigs can be born head first or feet first, both ways are normal. I want them to be born without any assistance, but there are times some need to be pulled. This can be because a baby is stuck because it’s too big or just positioned wrong. It can also be because mom has given up and decides to stop pushing. We wait around 10-15 minutes and if we don’t have a pig born I go in to feel whats going on. Sometimes I pull out a dead pig, sometimes it’s alive and huge and just needs a little help. Either way we are prepared. This last litter, she had 10 completely unassisted in about an hour. She was spitting them out no problem. Then I noticed she had stopped but still no afterbirth, so I went in to check and the last baby, #11, was dead. Hate to see it, but it does happen. Overall she did a great job and has 10 healthy babies!

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After each pig is born, we take a towel, wipe off the gunk and set them down. They are aggressive little things and know exactly where to go and what to do to get some milk! The babies can’t regulate their body temperature for the first 3 days, so they huddle under a heat lamp to stay warm.

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When the babies are 2 days old they get a shot of iron, which prevents anemia. Their teeth and tails get clipped. This is so they don’t chew on each other tails, and their sharp needle teeth get clipped so they don’t tear up momma while nursing. They also get special notches in their ears for their identification. They all get the same notch in their right ear to identify they are from the same litter, and they each have a different notch in their left ear to serve as an individual number to identify them by.

My little helper never misses a chance to hang out with the pigs, no matter what is going on. She wears her special head phones to protect her ears from those loud squeals and she’s watching to make sure daddy does it right!

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After 48 hours usually the sow has calmed down and isn’t as aggressive. I let her out to walk around and get some air away from her needy babies. It doesn’t take long though and shes ready to go back to the crate to be with her little squealers. I should also mention, before they even have their babies our pigs are pretty eager to go in the crate on their own. I mean they have food, water, and get pampered, for a pig what’s not to love?

Then usually after a week they are moved out of the crate to a pen and the growing really starts. The pen has plenty of room and a small panel is placed in the middle to allow the babies to get away from mom and start eating feed. If the feed was just out with babies and mom, it wouldn’t last long because the sow would devour it before the babies got a chance, even though she’s on full feed herself. Maybe that’s where the term pigging out comes from, they always want more!

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Once they are 7-10 days old they have the feed figured out, but are still nursing like clockwork. At 21-28 days old they are weaned.  Now separated from mom and placed in pens of just 2-3. This ensures the bigger ones don’t get all the feed!

I hope you learned more about pigs today, and how pork is made from the very beginning! Thanks for hanging in there with me, sometimes I can ramble on and on when it comes to one of my favorite animals. Who doesn’t love little bacon bits?!

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– The Clucky Hen

 

 

Spring time in the country

Ahhhh It’s spring, my favorite time of the year. The weather is getting warmer, flowers are blooming, the smell of grass being mowed, new babies being born and time to work the garden! Tomorrow is the first day of Spring and it also happens to be my grandma’s birthday! It’s gotta be the best Monday ever!

Once summer gets here you’ll hear about how much I love summer and why, and again with Fall and Winter. So I guess what I’m saying is I love every season when it’s here, I just wish Spring lasted longer than all of the others.

Babies…I love new life popping up all over. I love looking out my back window and seeing a new baby calf trying to run behind momma. I love seeing new baby chicks cracking their shell or chirping under a wing of hen.

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I love watching feverishly as the days pass and our sows start to get milk and we know farrowing time is coming soon. Baby pigs….Have you ever held one, squeezed or kissed one? I dare say they are cuter, cuddlier and smell better than any other baby animal, including kittens and puppies. There’s nothing like a new born baby pig, well except my 3 sweet children and I get to enjoy both at the same time. Ya, I’m a lucky gal!

 

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Pigs have always had a special place in my heart ever since I got my first one when I was 9 years old. I was hooked from the start. Yes pigs are dirty and smelly. They also have loads of personality, love belly rubs, are very smart, and can love you (most of the time) as much as you love them. Besides, let’s be real for a minute, that’s where bacon comes from. Let that sink in for a minute and you can visualize yourself loving pigs too.

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I could talk pigs all day but I’ll try and move on! Spring time for me is the start of a fun and maybe my most rewarding project I have every year. A garden! My toes in the soft dirt, watching everything sprout up and then of course harvest time! There’s a lot of work that goes into a garden before it can produce anything, but that’s what I enjoy. Sweat, a nice tan, and most of all the yummy fruits and veggies.

In a few weeks as my work ensues you can follow along with me if you’d like, as I take to my garden step by step. Anyone can have a garden, big or small! If you live in town and don’t have anything but a window with sunlight, you can still reap the rewards of fresh produce. I much rather pick my produce than buy it from a store. I know what’s been put into it and I know what I’m feeding my family! Its also a great time for memories. The kids love playing in the dirt as much as I do, who knew!

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Freshly mowed grass….One of my favorite smells. I love walking outside to a newly mowed lawn and feeling the cold grass on my feet. YES.. I am barefoot a lot, shoes are way over rated! I’m also a weirdo and love to mow. I’ve always loved mowing, even when I was young and I mowed everything with a push mower. I’m not talking about a self-propelled push mower, but an actual PUSH mower. I made a game of how quickly I could get the grass cut. Now that I’m older I love mowing just as much, it’s just a lot easier now that I’m riding instead of pushing. No pictures of me mowing, but here is my hunk of a husband taking a kiddo for a ride. They love to mow too, I guess it’s in the genes!

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I’ve shared a few of my favorite things about spring, what’s yours? Maybe I can find something else to love!

– The Clucky Hen

Marriage, Unfiltered

Whats your idea of a good marriage? Being happy, having a family, enjoying life and all of its bliss with your true love by your side? As long as your happy and love each other you have a good marriage… isn’t this the common consensus in our society? We all know marriage is WAY more than being happy and love only takes us so far.

I’m opening the book to MY marriage, all the good and bad. Let’s face it no marriage is perfect it consists of two imperfect people getting together and then we expect a perfect life. We look around and see smiling faces on social media and what “seems” to be a blissful marriage and then a year later they are divorced. What the heck happened? What went wrong? For the most part it doesn’t just go wrong overnight. Marriage, like all things that are worth having, is work…HARD work.

I’m hoping through this post of honesty I can help someone out there that feels like I did and still do at times. As long as you have 2 people that are willing to work on their marriage, overtime it can work as God intended it to. Don’t we all want to live in a peaceful home, with love, affection, and joy? I know I do, and while it may not always be that way that’s what we strive for. After reading you’ll see we are very far from perfect but it’s OK!

The first year of marriage… what should be and is for many, the most memorable time as a married couple. My first year was, to put it lightly, miserable. I thought I had made the worst decision of my life. It was constant fighting, never peaceful and all I really wanted to do is be away from the man I committed myself too. There were FEW memories that first year that were happy for me. However, we made it through, and why is that? Why would anyone want to live in such agony not knowing if things will ever get better? The only reason I can give you is we both made a vow, we made a commitment to each other and to God and it’s not one either of us took lightly.

That is probably the one and only reason we stayed together. We both grew up in church, we thought we had put God first but in reality we put ourselves first. We were immature to what marriage was really about. All the lovey, dovey, kissy face that goes on soon ends. It may not be in the first year like mine, it may be 4 years later you realize the person you thought you married isn’t the same person and you don’t like who they’ve become. Or maybe they haven’t changed and you have and your equally as unhappy. You may be totally happy and married for 20 years and have never had a fight or disagreement. If that’s the case maybe you’ve figured this marriage thing out early on and I’d love to shake your hand!

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For many of us that’s NOT the case, and until each person in the relationship learns its not about making “me” happy you might fall in to the case of wanting out. I’ve talked about Joe Mcgee before and I’ll mention him again, because he has some of the best points to make when it comes to marriage and kids. He has a gift of teaching people the fundamentals of God’s word and how to apply it to your daily life. You can get on his podcast and listen by clicking here Fighting For Families. They are short and to the point, littered with a great dose of humor and common sense. Everything I’ve learned and talk about is wisdom I’ve gotten from him and I love sharing it!

I hope in the next few minutes of reading you can get something out of this to help make your marriage the wonderful blessing God gave us all!

The biggest lesson that I learned was I’m not perfect. I have flaws that I need to work on. I know, right now your doing a face palm and saying DUH, Right? For me it wasn’t that obvious. I grew up in a Leave It To Beaver style of parenting. Yes we had fights and no it wasn’t a fairy tale, but I was pretty sheltered. I honestly felt like I had my crap together and anytime my husband disagreed with how I did things it became a huge problem. It was everything from cleaning to cooking to time management. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Every time I tried to do better, there would be something else he would find I was doing wrong. Not only that we would then in turn fight about how he spoke to me. He could be disrespectful, hateful and rude. I had never encountered someone talking to me like this on a regular basis and it didn’t have a positive result.

In my eyes I was working hard but getting no results. However, I was raised to be a strong woman and I have always had confidence in myself. Thankfully, I never felt inadequate and I never lost my self worth. What it did was tick me off because I wanted results and all I saw was a jerk for a husband that couldn’t see what good I was doing. So it ended in us both being unhappy.

Let me give you a small look at my husband. He is a complete neat freak, he likes everything to have it’s place. He likes order and he makes plans for everything he does. He doesn’t like to just be on time, he wants to be there 15 minutes early (or more). He always has a plan for the future, heck he has a plan for each day and what he needs to get accomplished. He’s an extremely hard worker and can’t be sedentary for very long before he starts pacing and stressing (you should have seen him in the delivery room). He hates to be in crowds or large events. When he talks to someone its usually with few words, but those few words probably have a lot of meaning. Many times while driving in the car it’s totally quiet and he enjoys that. His integrity is everything and I don’t think he could tell a lie to save his life. This isn’t just his personality, this is deep in his soul, its how God made him. God didn’t make him to be a jerk, that’s what the devil does in life through circumstances, or we do it to ourselves through choices we make.

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Now, let me give you a look at me. Mess doesn’t bother me, I don’t care if there’s toys all over the place. I don’t care if there are clothes piled on top of each other in my closet. I don’t care if the bed is made. I don’t EVER have a plan and I fly by the seat of my pants pretty much with everything I do. I am a big procrastinator. I wait for the last minute to do anything, including if we need to be somewhere. I will arrive hopefully on time but more than likely 5 minutes late. I too work hard, and was raised with a hard work ethic (the one thing we have in common). However, I can sit and relax and be okay with disarray in the next room. I am a huge people pleaser and I don’t like it when I think someone might be upset with me for any reason. I don’t mind big crowds and I search for people I might know so we can catch up. I enjoy talking with anyone and everyone (a trait from my father), and I like to help others even if it’s simply to be a listening ear. This is who I am and how God made me. He didn’t make me to be a slob or to not get anywhere in life because I have no plan. The devil tries to distract you away from what God had intended for your life. That’s his mission!

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After seeing how polar opposite we are you can understand how we didn’t get along. The way I lived literally pushed every one of his buttons. You’ll probably have things in common, share similar interests and maybe have a similar way of life but ultimately opposites do attract. It’s the whole purpose around marriage. You don’t want to marry someone just like you, wouldn’t that be boring?

Genesis 2:18 The Lord said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

You might have read or heard this passage before. Adam had everything, the whole world, but God said he needed a HELPER. By definition a helper is someone how helps, gives assistance and supports. Marrying someone that is the polar opposite is the best helper you can find. They see the world in a totally different light than you do. They can help you better than anyone! Where I am weak my husband is strong, where he is weak I am strong. This is a huge asset but we get caught up in being RIGHT that we miss the blessing God sent us. Instead of fighting to win an argument try and collaborate together and fight to solve the problem.  I was trying to make my husband conform to be the person I wanted him to be (more like me) and vice versa. Instead we needed to see each other as God created us!

Our fighting began because of our weaknesses shining through and us calling each other out on those weaknesses. Keeping a clean and tidy house makes my husband feel better when he comes home because he likes order. Guess what, I enjoy having a clean house now! I enjoy bedtime more now with no dishes in the sink and climbing into a made bed. My husband understands how to use his words in a loving way, which also trickles down to our kids. He can let the little things go, relax and enjoy me and the kids without worrying about plans for tomorrow or that there’s toys all over the floor. We are working to help each other become better people. We have a vision God gave us and the devil will try everything to get in the middle of you and your spouse to divide your marriage and destroy God’s vision. Keep God first and study what he says about your helper. Learn about your spouse and lift each other up.

Saying all of this doesn’t mean we have a perfect marriage and it certainly doesn’t mean we know what we’re doing all the time. We still have to make a conscious effort to work on solving problems together instead of fighting for who’s right. So try and look at your marriage from the perspective of your spouse. How do they view life and how are you working to make their world better? Test it out in your marriage by striving to improve your spouses life, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

I’m thankful we have many more years ahead of us to continue to figure this marriage thing out!

– The Clucky Hen

 

 

 

 

The Best Homemade Salsa

Who doesn’t like chips and salsa?? Here is my all time favorite go to for salsa. It’s great to just dip a chip in and eat, or cook with! I love putting salsa in things to give it more flavor. So no more time wasted talking, lets make it!!

What You’ll Need

  • 3-5 Tomatoes
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 Jalapeño (seeded)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Cilantro 1/2 cup fresh or 2 tsp
  • 1-2 tsp Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Get all of your ingredients together and maybe a helper to push buttons. I always have a button pusher close by to help! I mean who can resist that smile?

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Now Just throw all of your ingredients in the blender and blend to desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky so I don’t blend for too long.

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Now have your helper push your button to create the best salsa ever!

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And done! Now, the hardest part of all is the clean up. Where’s a clean up helper when I need one?

This will keep for up to 7 days refrigerated. You can also easily cut this recipe in half for a smaller batch! These were store bought tomatoes, fresh from the garden tomatoes make this a lot deeper red and richer taste. Boy am I ready for my garden!

Note: Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before eating, it allows the flavors to soak in and will taste a lot better!

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Enjoy!!

– The Clucky Hen

A Rooster named Fried Chicken – The Finale

If you haven’t read about our Rooster you can do so here – A Rooster Named Fried Chicken. It gives an overview of the rooster, and why I am so happy to write the post about his Finale.

**I must insert a disclaimer here that there is a picture and information on this post that might disturb some people, there is a picture of a dead bird at the end of this post.**

As mentioned in my first post we don’t keep animals around if they don’t serve a purpose. There are exceptions with a few pets we have, but all of our farm animals are here for a reason. We take good care of them and they take good care of us. Normally if we have one that is mean or has a bad attitude it doesn’t stay around long.

Our animals have human interaction a lot throughout their lifespan, some more than others. It can be during feeding time through the winter, moving them to a different pasture or pen, or if they need assistance during the birthing process. Whatever the case may be, it’s extremely hard to do any of this with an animal that wants to hurt you any chance they get.

Now for the most part I am talking about our large animals, cattle and pigs, but our chickens get daily human interaction. Most of this is by my kids, so having a chicken that’s mean just doesn’t cut it. I can tolerate it a little more by my laying hens because usually the only time they actually get mean is if they are protecting their chicks. It’s the normal Momma bear attitude that comes out with most animals and their babies.

On this one fateful day, it just so happened that Momma bear came out in ME! I have definitely had it out for our rooster from early on when he started getting to big for his britches. However, I tried overlooking it because hey, he’s doing his job by protecting his hens right? Well that only goes so far and when you start biting the hand that feeds you or her children, that’s where you come to an end.

I always tell my kids to just ignore the rooster and let him stay with his girls and he’ll leave you alone. I want my kids to trust what I say when we are in the barn and I want them to know they must listen to what I say. Listening is important but it can be crucial when your around any kind of livestock. Most of the time it’s not a big deal, but if we are working calves and need them to stay back, be quiet, or stand still it is a VERY big deal. Not only for what we are trying to accomplish (loading/unloading, tagging, etc) but more importantly for their safety. I want them to know when I ask them to do something, to trust what I am asking and it will keep them safe. When what I’ve said to them still gets them hurt it makes them not trust what I say and also makes them frightened to go to the barn or be around the animals. See my problem??

We head to the barn to do our morning chores, like every morning. I feed the chickens first so they will be busy eating to leave the kids alone. The middle alley of the barn is the best playing dirt you’ll find. This is where many hours have been spent by my kids and created many dirty bath times. They are dirt magnets wherever they go. So they head to the toys in the dirt while I finish chores.

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After just a few minutes in to my routine I hear a familiar scream. I run to scene of the crime, where I see my sweet baby girl laying on her back in the dirt with the rooster standing at her feet getting ready to flog her again. I try and grab his tail feathers when I reach them but I barely miss. I pick up my now crying toddler and assess the wounds. She’s got cuts all over her right arm that are now starting to bleed. Thankfully they aren’t deep and I’m able to calm her down and help her to regain composure.

At this point I’m ready to put an end to this guy. He’s done it for the last time and there is no way he’s going to draw blood on my child without a consequence. I look around to find him not far from me and take off sprinting towards him. It’s said you can’t out run a chicken, they aren’t only fast they zigzag the entire time and it’s extremely hard to catch them. I try my best though, with adrenaline pumping I chase him for a good 10 minutes all over the barn and pasture (I’m sure looking like an idiot). During my pursuit my two little dirt lovers are just staring at me in amazement. Either they haven’t seen me this mad before to go this crazy or they are extremely curious of what I’m going to do if I ever catch this goofy thing.

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Some people have big fish nets to catch their birds to give vaccinations and what not, I of course don’t have that. So already out of breath I find the next best thing, a plastic pitch fork. I’m hoping with this if I get close enough to him, I can put it on top of him and push him to the ground long enough where I can get my hands on him. Another 10 minutes and several attempts of pinning him down and I end up missing him, tripping over something and falling on my pitchfork which breaks it in two.

My blood is now boiling and I decide it’s time to call in back up. I gather the kids up, throw them on the four wheeler and head to the house. The hubby has been on the tractor the entire time clearing trees. I pull up and he’s giving me a quizzical look, I’m sure he’s been watching my chase this whole time and wondering what on earth I’m doing. I give him the low down in short spurts still trying to catch my breath. We are definitely on the same page when it comes to this rooster, so it’s almost a game at this point who can kill him first.

The hubby has the great idea that we’ll just run him until he gets tired. Yeah, great idea, either he’ll go down or I will! So we take out after him together in the hopes of pushing him in the barn where we can corner him.

Thankfully in the matter of just a few minutes we get him in the barn and I slow to a walk as the hubby and rooster have it out. The kids are still sitting on the 4-wheeler as I see my knight in shining armor walking out holding the rooster by his feet. So he’s caught!! I grab the ax and off with his head!

**Disclaimer, the next picture has some blood and if you don’t like the sight of dead animals don’t scroll further.

 

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Yes we actually cut his head off. Yes my children watched the entire ordeal. Yes I understand that might offend some people. Yes I’m joyful he’s dead, and YES my toddler was thrilled also!

The reality of life is there is death, and it’s all around us. On the farm death happens, it can be with baby animals dying from sickness, babies being born dead, butchering an animal for meat, an animal dying of old age or injuries and the list goes on. It’s part of the farm life and it’s not all glamorous. This is our world and I won’t apologize for the way we live. On the flip side, I don’t ever want my kids to get calloused to the death of animals. That’s why we put such an emphasis on taking good care of everything around us, but regardless death happens.

Immediately after the be-heading, I got out some pots and a sharp knife and skinned him. I’ve butchered my fair share of chickens and we’ve always scalded them in hot water before plucking and then gutting them. After the morning we had there was no way I was going to pluck this dirty dumb thing. So I just skinned him whole and gutted him. During this process the kids squatted next to me and asked 100+ questions, I smiled and attempted to answer their questions before they could ask more. I want to teach my kids about the animals and where their meat comes from. It’s not just bought at a grocery store, it was at one time a living, breathing animal. This all goes back to, we take care of our animals and they take care of us. Ole Fried Chicken just took care of us sooner than he may have hoped for, and he was pretty tasty I might add!

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That night we had a very tasty Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza.  My sweet toddler that had quite an ordeal that morning happily pronounced at the dinner table that the rooster wouldn’t get her anymore because he was in her tummy! With a big smile on my face I once again thank the Lord for the life He has given me!

– The Clucky Hen

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

At our house, as many others, we LOVE pizza. The ooey gooey cheese, the sizzle of sausage and pepperoni, the beautiful browned crisp crust! Yum! Although this is on my normal rotation for dinner, we do get tired of the same kind of pizza. So, I want to share my newest favorite, and easiest pizza to make!

The crust I make is light and fluffy and has a wonderful taste, and most importantly it’s SUPER easy to make and whip out quick, and I like quick! I have to give props to my sister who had the original recipe, and I haven’t changed it any than to add a small touch of my own.

Clumsy me, I forgot to get a picture while making the dough. My in-laws were over and my 3 kids were running wild as I hurried to get supper on the table. So please forgive me for no pictures on the crust!

Pizza Dough Recipe

2 ½ cups flour

2 packets active dry yeast – or 4 ½ tsp yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 cup very warm water

1 tsp garlic salt

Mix yeast, sugar and water. Add flour and form your dough. It may be a little sticky but that’s ok! Lather your hands with oil and roll the dough around until you make a ball. It should be good and shiny covered in oil. Cover your bowl with a towel and let it set for about 10 minutes. Spray your pizza pan with oil and dump the dough in the middle. With oily hands press the dough out until it’s in your desired pizza shape. You can fold the ends up for more of a crust or leave it flat for a thinner crust. Sprinkle the edge of the pizza (crust) with the garlic salt.

Now for the best part, the toppings!

1 Breast of chicken-cut up in bite size pieces

2 tablespoons of butter

seasoning salt and pepper

4-5 strips of bacon, diced

1/2 cup or more to taste of ranch dressing

2 cups of mozzarella cheese

Cook bacon and set aside on paper towel to cool. In a clean skillet melt butter over medium heat, I also like to add a little bacon grease but you don’t have to.

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Put in all of the chicken and season with Lawry’s or any type of season salt and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes then flip and cook 2-3 minutes more until it’s no longer pink. Turn off heat and set aside.

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Once your dough is prepared, drizzle on your ranch and spread out with a spoon. Sprinkle on  your cheese, bacon and chicken. Pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes until your crust is brown and cheese is all melted and bubbly. Cut and serve!

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Beefy, Cheesy Enchilada’s

I LOVE Mexican food, any kind, anywhere, any time of day! When I was pregnant with our oldest son we ate Mexican food at least 5 times a week. The chips, salsa, guacamole, and all the cheesy goodness, my mouth is watering! I’m so very thankful that my kids love it as much as I do! So, you can probably understand that we have some sort of Mexican style dish at least once a week. One of my favorites is Enchilada’s. After fixing it over and over I got tired of the packet mix and wanted to make it one day without a mix. I scoured the internet for an easy enchilada sauce but I didn’t have all the ingredients. So I came up with one of my own and it turned out a huge hit with the kids and the hubby! My favorite part of Mexican food is guacamole, so I’ve included my easy peasy Guacamole Recipe at the bottom!

Also, as a side note there is lots of yummy, gooey Velveeta used in this recipe. I have no idea the calorie count, so please don’t burst my bubble by asking me.

Beefy Cheesy Enchilada’s

Ingredients
1 lb Hamburger
Flour or corn tortillas
2-3 oz Velveeta
Salt & Pepper to taste
Enchilada Sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1 can tomato sauce 8 oz
1 can chicken broth 14oz
1/2 can Rotel
1/4 cup or less flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
2 oz Velveeta

Pre-heat oven to 350º. Season hamburger with salt and pepper, brown and drain.
While hamburger is cooking start enchilada sauce. Heat olive oil over medium heat,
add tomato sauce and all seasonings.
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Once it starts boiling a little add your flour and whisk briskly to keep from clumping.

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Keep whisking until thick and smooth. Add chicken broth and continue whisking until boiling again.

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Once it’s good and smooth add 2 oz Velveeta (optional). I also at this point add some juice and about 1/2 can rotel.

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Heat through until cheese is completely melted, and is oh so yummy!! I let it boil again to thicken a little more and then turn heat off.

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Now focus on your hamburger meat. I add 2 oz (more or less to your taste) of Velveeta, a little rotel.  You can also add enchilada sauce to your hamburger mixture.

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Cook on low/medium heat until cheese is melted and mixed well.

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I usually pour a little sauce in the bottom of my dish.

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At this point you can turn your heat off and begin assembly. I use half flour tortillas and half corn because my family likes both. Scoop your hamburger mixture in each tortilla and roll up. You can sprinkle cheese on top also if you like. If I have any hamburger left I sprinkle it on top also.

*Make sure if your using corn, to warm them in the microwave with wet paper towels between each tortilla before filling.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted on top. Make sure you make plenty because they’ll go fast!

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While your Enchiladas are baking you can make the guacamole, yessss finally!

Easy Peasy Guacamole
1-2 Avacados
Garlic Salt
Seasoning Salt
1-2 tsp Rotel (optional)
1-2 drops lemon juice

 

Look at these beauty’s, almost too pretty to eat, I said ALMOST. They were devoured quickly!

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Add seasonings and lemon juice.

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Mash until smooth and add rotel (optional). I usually taste it and add more salt/pepper if needed.

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And your done! Dip that chip, fork, spoon or finger in and enjoy!!

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