Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Sorry State of Affairs.

I awoke yesterday morning without a voice.  This shouldn't be much of a problem, except for my Alvin and the Chipmunks routine.  The dogs stared in disbelief when I let out my breathy squeaks.  Then they ignored me.  I took a sick day and managed to slog around, downing cups of sick tea, Emergen-C, and water.  I also managed to finish knitting a toddler pixie hat, planted my winter peas, albeit not as many as I had hoped, since I pooped out quickly, and dry canned beans.  

That last little item is such a lifesaver! I had thought that I had to pre-soak the beans before I canned them and never remembered to.  Then my friend Jane from the late and lamented blog, Hard Work Homestead, clued me in.  These little pints of beans will be so useful!

I woke up this morning with a little more basso in my breathy squeak, but whatever reserves I had were used up within the first hour at work.  I am back to silence.  The dogs are still happy.  Especially Pepper, who now feels he has a reason for not responding....


Another sad state of affairs is the total lack of basic living skills had by many young people.  The young fellow with whom I work draggled in to show me his new winter coat (made in China) that he had purchased five days ago.  The buttons were already working themselves loose.  And he had no idea how to fix them.  None.  Nor, apparently, did his girlfriend.  Sigh.  I battened them down and told him that I was going to make him (and his girlfriend) a sewing kit and would teach him how to use it.  I mean....really.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Close Encounters of the Wild Kind.

Now that the days contain three hours of light...our morning constitutional is taken in the very early dawn.  Lovey is not fond of the darkish.  We totter down the steps from the front deck to the path, scattering rabbits in every direction.  Scrappy is not interested in wildlife.  Lovey is too spooked to care and I have a firm grip on "Killer's" leash.  All 10 lbs of him.

The road is nice and quiet and the sheep - for a change - just stare at us without bleating.  Our first encounter this morning involved a good-sized black and white 'kitty'.  Not.  Pepe le Pew was about 30 feet in front of us, waddling across the road.  Knowing that I did not have to fear some lunacy from Scrappy or Lovey, I scooped up "Jaws" and waited politely until PleP was well out of sight.  Down went "Snapper" and off we went, Lovey glued to my ankles.  The rest of the walk was uneventful, until we turned to head back home.

A very, very large coyote came out of the field and stopped in the middle of the road and stared at us.  Once again, I scooped up the "Morsel on a Leash", this time with Lovey AND Scrappy stuck to my side, and waited politely.  For a long time.  I swear he was waiting for me to blink.  I didn't.  He finally ambled across the road and up the hill into the woods.  We waited for another long moment before we started off.  I did not put the morsel down until we were on our driveway.


*You will notice that Pepper/Pepperoni/Killer/Snapper/Jaws/Stinky/HeyYou has many aliases.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A questioning mind is a busy mind.

It's a good thing to have - a questioning mind.  It's better if the mind asks important questions like, "What is the meaning of life?", rather than, "Who are the idiots who designed this poultry waterer?!?"  I am sure I'm not alone when I wonder if any of the nimrods involved in the design of poultry waterers ever had to clean one.  I sincerely doubt it. 

My mind asked many questions this weekend.  Towit:  "If I have three pieces of applesauce cake and then go clean the chicken coop, will the intake of calories/expending of calories be a draw?"  Or, "If I give Lovey a piece of rawhide, will she be distracted enough to leave the applesauce cake alone?"  Or, "Why do dogs eat rabbit poop?"

I had a busy and productive weekend - Saturday threw me a few curve balls but, I am nothing if not flexible.  I was going to hang out two loads of laundry, pick apples early in the morning, then circle back, get feed, drive to VT, drop off two bags at Goodwill, pick up scratch feed (another ploy in my so far unsuccessful attempt to motivate the hens back into laying eggs - sluggards), get cheap gas, visit with my parents, pick up eggs (the shame of it) and my weekly pumpkin from a farm stand on my way home, then start on my to-do list.  I did it all but the apple-picking.  As I headed south to the apple farm, it started to rain (so much for the early start on my laundry).  I got feed, and headed north to VT.  After lunch with my parents, I headed over to an apple farm on the NY/VT border and picked up a couple bags of utility apples, then headed south towards home.  As luck would have it, the farmer was at his farm stand - I have been wanting to meet him for months.  I was sure he was in his 90s, but he is in his 70s.  Farming is a hard way to make a living.  Delightful man - we had a lively talk about cows, dairy farms, taxes (inevitable, if you live in the Vampire State of NY), land values, neighbors, chickens, the good old days.  I got a dozen eggs and a lovely pumpkin (for $1) and his promise that I could have all the pumpkins he didn't sell for my sheep.  Dave and I are now on a first-name basis.

I have found that the best way to get anything done after a morning like that, is to keep moving.  No sitting allowed!  I took the dogs out for a romp, then headed toward the garden. 

**Aside - I am starting to remind myself of Dave from Alvin and the Chipmunks.  I let the dogs out, they run around and do their business, Lovey and Scrappy trot back.  Where's Pepper?  "Pepper."  "Pepper!"  "PEPPER!!"  "PEPPER!!!!!"  He walks back at a maddeningly slow pace, avoiding eye contact, "oKAY!"

I made a millet and broccoli bake that was good, albeit too salty.  I need to heed my instincts - I thought there was too much in the recipe, but followed it blindly through.  I marked it for next time.  It was tasty - cooked millet, roasted broccoli, a cheddar cheese sauce, and more cheese. 

Sunday, I got up, made the aforementioned applesauce cake - my favorite GF baked good - walked the dogs, did more laundry, and went back outside.  I got the poultry yard cleaned up, cleaned the chicken coop, raked the sheep yard, did some manure-moving, did more garden clean up and planted my garlic.  I also cleaned my Berkey filters (six months late on that job) and did some housecleaning.  I had invited my neighbor over for dinner on purpose.  I realize that, if I do not have a reason to stop, I will work twelve hours straight.  This is not what I want to do on a Sunday.  So I worked until four, did my evening chores early, and made an inventive meatloaf.  This entails poking around in the freezer and fridge, looking for things that need using, and that could possible disappear nicely into a wad of cooked meat.  I ended up using a pound of grassfed ground beef, a half pound of breakfast sausage, the rest of some thawed garlic scape pesto, GF bread crumbs, a precious egg, and I basted it with homemade chili sauce.  It was a success!  I was also going to try olive oil, herb mashed potatoes, in my efforts to diet, but was too knackered by then.  I used my own Kennebecs, homemade raw milk yogurt, an assortment of fresh herbs that haven't been frozen in my garden, and my homemade butter.  For a vege, I sliced Brussels sprouts very thinly, sauteed some of my thinly sliced onions in bacon fat, and then stirred the sprouts in and slowly cooked it until semi-roasted.  The nice thing about older neighbors is that they are all for leaving early....

After dishes, I fell asleep over my latest knitting project and toted the wiener dog off to bed.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sequeing into Winter.


This is my favorite tree.  It positively glows red - like a huge, brief flare. 

I have been working on getting the garden and outside ready for winter.  This entails checking off my extensive list.  Having learned from (many) mistakes over the years, I keep a master list in a notebook and check it off each fall.  Too many things have fallen through the cracks when I attempt to re-make the list each year.

Every year I try to add one thing to make winter easier.  Things like heated water buckets, outside lighting and...the garage.  I still get all giddy about it.  It may not be much, but it is going to make my wintertime life easier.  I will be able to store my wheelbarrows and Snow Wolf in it.  I will not have to scrap an inch of ice off my windows.  I will be easier to live with.


The kids will benefit from this, believe you me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall bounty.


While I am secretly relieved that tomato season has come and gone, I actively excited about what has to be my favorite vege season - autumn!  I L.O.V.E. squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots - you get the drift.  I especially love roasted vege and, most especially, Brussels sprouts.

My BFF Sylvie makes the best roast vegetables ever.  EVER.  I can take the same vegetables, in the same pan, at the same temperature, for the same amount of time and mine are not as good.  She is the vegetable whisperer.  That does not stop me, however.  I roast vegetables at the drop of a hat.  Especially now that the heat from the oven is a welcomed addition to my chilly house.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Girding ourselves in fleece.

I suppose I must throw in the towel and admit that summer is - sigh - over.  It was a crisp 30* this morning and the frost was on the pumpkins.  And the popcorn.  And the deck.

I had left Pepper sound asleep on the chair-and-a-half, swaddled in a towel, snoring away, when I went to bed.  At 2A, I was jolted out of sleep by pitiful wailing and scratchings at my bedroom door.  I opened it, looked down, and there was the pitiful black and tan mop, shivering and looking up mournfully.  Then he bolted through the door and flung himself at my bed.  I snuggled him between pillows and down comforter and he was out.  I took pity on him and let him sleep as long as he wanted - he lasted until 7!  Not a morning dog.

When I got up for good, I went into the living room to find Lovey trying to crawl under Scrappy.  I rummaged around and found Bernie's fleece coat (which she abhorred) and put it on Lovey.  After she decided that it was not going to attack and consumer her, she decided it was very nice.  I built a fire in the fireplace, made a cuppa and sat down with my knitting.

All, in all, a very fine start to a Monday morning.  Not counting having to clean up the mouse bits, strewn down the hall...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The week that was...

wonderful.  After working myself into a frenzy to get everything ready (and cleaner) for my sister and parents, I set off for South Portland, Maine, early Friday morning.  I could not have asked for better weather.  In fact, I could say that Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the nicest weather in quite a long time.  Obviously, the stars and Universe aligned and took pity on me.  Kidding.

I am not going to bore you with the details of my short-but-sweet vacation, but here's the gist:

Wardrobe Infusion - I packed very light, knowing that we would be heading to the local Goodwill almost upon my arrival.  I was not disappointed, thanks to the almost supernatural talents toward winnowing out the best of the best by Sylvie.  I now have new khakis and five new tops.  That does not include the lovely scarf, jeans and shirts that I inherited from Sylvie's personal winnowing.  AND it does not include the great long sleeved tees that I got at my favorite discount, Maine-only department store - Reny's.  I LOVE Reny's.

My daily (almost) dose of Dog.  Hard to believe he is cuter in person.  A sweet-natured, adorable cuddler.  Cosmos is the adopted dog of Sylvie's daughter, Julie and family.  Lucky dog.  Lucky family.  A better match couldn't have been made in, well, the Cosmos!

Views, saltwater, sea air, ship traffic, clear skies, picturesque walks (did I mention the weather was glorious?).

The lighthouse at Fort Williams Park in
Cape Elizabeth.
Off the coast - looking towards the harbor.

Empty freighter making its way back
out to sea - I lost the bet as to how long it
would take to reach us.

The ruins of the mansion on Fort Lee.

Close up.
Bug Light - my favorite Portland

Two giant ocean liners in port.
Great food!  And great Drink!  And even greater Conversation!

Jim, preparing the best crab cakes I have
ever eaten!

I capped the trip off with a quick in/and/out visit to Portland's Trader Joe's.  It was perfection.