Friday, September 30, 2016

Firsts and Fits

After months of silence, Bunny has found his voice.  At exactly 7:46 AM Eastern, he crowed.  And then you couldn't shut him up.  This has rattled Pecito no end.  I do believe he thought he was the one and only.

Juno and I have worked our way into an odd, although rather comforting, routine.  It's like dealing with a baby but no diapers.  I leave the gate open to the barn during the night so that she will have company - Apria is her boon companion.  Then it's her morning molasses drench, followed by some physical therapy, then special hay, then fill her water container.  I've been giving both Apria and Juno grain in the morning - when I finally got my hands on Apria, she felt rather thin under her woolies.  This has chafed Norman, who lives and breathes for grain.  Tough nuggets.  After duck chores, and before I get ready for work, I toddle back to the barn and open the gate so everyone can socialize.  At night - rinse, wash, repeat.  I am not holding out much hope that she will get up on her pins and walk again.  It's been a week and, although I do my best in the little time I have to keep her limbs flexible, she shows no signs of leg strength.  Although I am firmly entrenched in denial at the moment, I know this can't go on indefinitely.

My boy, Scrappy, suddenly decided that he did not care for a raw diet.  Just like that.  First time EVER that he wouldn't eat his breakfast.  This, of course, sent me into a tailspin, as I thought the end was near.  I tried tempting him with a variety of foods before, out of desperation, I gave him some of The Pepperoni's high-end, no-grain canned food.  Bingo!  So, now I have a freezer full of homemade and premade raw dog food and the one and only dog that really needed it won't eat it.  Le sigh.  Instead, he is inhaling two cans of primo dog food a day, at a cost of CHA-CHING.  I've said it before, and I know I will say it ad nauseum - we are nothing, if not flexible.  So The Pepperoni and Lovey are now on a raw diet, while the Little Prince is fed beef and spinach.  Au jus.  If it was at all possible, I would like to come back as one of my own dogs.

After giving us a hopeful weather forecast for three-plus days of rain and showers, the sun is out and shining.  Looking forward to the weekend, I have decided to put some elasticity into my to-do list.  This approach, of course, runs the risk of creating a pretty saggy* list.  I have convinced myself that everything I do needs doing.  Clear as mud?  I do have a couple of must-dos, but everything else is pure serendipity.

*Speaking of saggy elastic, did I ever tell you about the time I walked right out of my underwear, crossing the main drag in Cleveland?  I didn't?  It was a clear-cut case of letting one's BGPs reach a dangerous point of sagginess.  Luckily, I was young and flippant and kept on going without a backwards glance... And if I HAVE told you, humor me.  I'm old and forget things.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

In Support of Sloppy Entertaining

I don't know if there is much worse (okay, there IS much worse - but let's keep this relevant, 'k?) than slaving for hours on a dinner menu to have it turn out totally MEH.  Especially when you are also trying to clean the house to a level that requires heavy equipment and months of prep work in less than half a day.  It cannot be done, peoples. 

My Girlz Night group now meets, maybe, on a seasonal basis.  One woman now has two homes - one on Cape Cod, where I secretly think she'd rather be - and one woman works full time, as I do, but her work entails driving from Monday to Thursday.  Plus, she has a real social life.  Anyhoo, somewhere in the process of our getting together, we all now try to outdo each other with the scope, quality and fanciness of our dinner.  This is, in a word, ridiculous.  I take the whole day off because I am cooking up a complicated storm, trying to whip my house into order (neither women have pets, although one has knick-knacks) and then appear at the appointed hour, martini glasses frosted, not a hair out of place, in something casual but classy.

Not surprisingly, it never happens that way.  The menu was this:

Seeded Flatbread
Almond Flour Crackers
Red Lentil Hummus

Tomato Ricotta Pie in a Brown Rice Crust
Orange/Avocado Salad on Arugula with a Balsamic Glaze

Autumn Apple Cake

What was edible?  Not much.  The flatbread and crackers were good.  The hummus was watery.  The Tomato pie was supremely MEH and did not set properly.  The salad was good.  The cake was medium MEH.

And it took HOURS.  Okay, given I was also stressed out over Juno and the gopher-sized balls of fur that kept wafting across the dining room floor - all of which could have added to the looming disaster.  Instead of finding me cool, calm, wine glass in hand, they found me sweaty and apologetic.  It was wrong!

From now on - I will be the Queen of Crappy Entertaining.  The Salome of Sloppiness.  The Eve of Ease.  I will plan an easy meal, based on what's at hand (although, in my defense, everything I made was with what was at hand).  I will not apologize for dust gophers.  I will not dress up.  I will have a good time.  Barring sick sheep and dead ducks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Do as I say - not as I do.

In amongst all the trials and tribulations I experienced over this weekend, I managed to clean the house, wash all the waterers, and bake dog treats.  None of which were on my to-do list.  Sigh.  I have decided to write a book, and its working title is, "Do as I Say! (Not as I Do)".  It will have chapters such as, "Don't Overdo the Ducks", "Don't Raise Livestock Unless You Want to Give Up Your Life", "Be Sure to Make Room for You Time".

This was one of those weekends where all I wanted to do was to hit the rewind button - or step into the Wayback Machine (Professor Peabody, anyone?).  Since none of those options were available to me, it was Pull Up the BGPs and Full Steam Ahead. 

The roof is finished.  Except for one vent cap that went missing, it is screwed on tight and looks marvelous.  The roofer returned last night with the errant cap and to get his money.  The dogs and I survived, although the cats are still jumpy.  The Pepperoni managed to slip out numerous times so that he could waylay the roofers at every turn and pop up like a meerkat.  They were very nice about Mr. Nuisance.  I'd be looking out and I'd see one of the guys stop, put down his tools and bend down to the ground.  After the third escape, I put him in his crate under house arrest.

On Friday, as I cooked and cleaned like a fiend for the Girlz (more about this in a separate post), popping outside occasionally to do a chore or two, I discovered that Juno was getting edema again. She and I have been battling parasites since early spring - she's older and does not have a lot of resistance under the best circumstances.  Saturday morning she was down - but bright-eyed and with an appetite.  As things stand now, she is still bright-eyed, eating everything but not able to stand.  I had been moving her legs and trying to get her up every few hours, but now, stuck in my damn office, I cannot do anything but worry and think about it.  I am afraid that she will not be able to stand again if she goes on like this much longer, and then yet another tough decision must be made.

Over this weekend Hopalong, the lame duck, lost the good fight.  She was a tough little thing, but she was too lame to sustain herself and got weaker and weaker.  I had to help her along to her next big life.  It's a tough way to downsize.

Saturday and Sunday nights the temperatures plummeted to the freezing/frost point and I had a mad scramble to get the avocado and lemon trees inside, and then did a sweep through the basil.  Other than a cover on the geraniums, everything else was on its own.  Next weekend is plant-the-garlic-and-shallots time, and yoink the tomato plants.  The kale is amazing this year - thank goodness for that.

Aromatic Bouquet in a Bucket
There goes my dining room.
I am trying not to bake for the sake of baking - I am a baking fool.  I LOVE to bake.  However, I am a family of one human and nothing I bake is a single serving.  I think I have found the solution.  I may also have three dirigibles on legs in the house.

Dog Bicuits
Note here - Am I the last person on Earth to realize that you can make little treat blobs and not spend hours rolling out and cutting individual little neat, square treats?  Save me from myself!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

I guess this means summer is over.

This was not the low.  We hit 34* at bottom.  Forgive the blurry pic.  My trigger finger was frozen from outside chores.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

There are days

when the only thing standing between me and a precipitous drop into total chaos is a neatly made bed.

Such as today.

Do you only venture into your day after making your bed, or are you of the "I'll only have to unmake it to sleep in it" school?

Monday, September 19, 2016


The roof is half-done.  I got half my weekend list done.  It was one of those half-baked weekends.  Thanks to the weather forecast this weekend, only Saturday was a dry day.  The finished half of the roof looks great and the roof is supposed to be finished next Saturday.   My confidence in whatever the roofer utters has been slightly diminished.  Turns out I am two metal panels short - the receipt has 'disappeared' and I don't know whether the guy who ordered them made a mistake, the order was shorted or the roofer mis-measured.  In any event, there will probably be two different green stripes on the back.  I declaring it a decorating statement.  I am also 24 firring (sp?) strips short and 800 screws short (well, we knew that, didn't we?).  These two shortages are rankling.  But screws, panels and boards will be bought and the damn roof will be put on.  Geez.

We had a lovely birthday picnic for my mother and mice had once more invaded my car filters.  It also rained most of Sunday and the roof didn't leak.  So, all is not lost.  Not that any of these things is related to the other.

Something that was fully baked - another new recipe, "Savory Zucchini and Ricotta Cheesecake".  I am happy to report that it was DELISH!

Excuse the 'well-used' baking sheet.
I have the girlz over for dinner this Friday and I am wavering.  I found a recipe for tomato and ricotta pie on a brown rice crust (I seem to be fixated on ricotta lately) and then another tempting recipe was picked up by my food radar and now I am torn.  Fall Vege and Ricotta Galette sounds awfully tempting....with a GF crust.  Oy.

Why I never venture through my house unshod - yesterday morning, the anxious tip-tapping of toenails woke me at the usual early hour of 4A.  I threw on my robe and slippers and slogged out through the kitchen and to the back door.  When you have an ancient dog, it's best not to tax his flabby bladder.  I let Lovey and Scrappy out, then turned around and went back into the kitchen to make coffee.  There was a suspicious 'slurk', 'slurk' about my right slipper sole.  The lights went on and I discovered that The Pepperoni had decided to use the indoor facilities.  I said some bad words.  Loudly.  Then I slipped off  and cleaned the offending shoe, made coffee and swept and washed the dining room and kitchen floors.  At 4:30 in the morning.  Needless to say, The Pepperoni went treat-less and was under lockdown for most of the day.  I always relent, but I held firm for hours, I was that ticked-off.  I did spend a inordinate amount of time yesterday wondering what life would be like - petless.  It would be too bleak.

Saturday night, the new rooster was delivered by the whole family.  In the dark.  Pecito (Peck-eeto) is...a bantam.  Sigh.  He looks remarkably like Bunny, but with some subtle differences.  You will have to take my word for it, for the time being.  While he is not one to stand down in the face of Big Bully Hens, he has found that spending the day in the high weeds is a safe bet.  I haven't had a photo op yet.  Last night he was a little confused as to where he was supposed to bed down for the night.  He started with the Anconas - who were displeased; then hopped the fence to the Cayugas - who were confused; then hopped another fence to the Babes - who were alarmed.  I finally scooted him out of the gate and into the coop.  He's a cute little bugger, but I am always afraid that bantams will be hawk bait.  I practically had to sign an agreement with these people that, not only would I look out for his physical well-being, but be on the line for his psychological development and spiritual growth.  I'll do my best.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Subtle shift.

There has been a subtle shift in the air, my thoughts, my words, my lists.  Things like "before winter" have entered into my thinking.  Never mind that my spring and summer lists still have lots of items unchecked.  Those have become "next" spring and summer lists.  We are nothing if not flexible, right?  The maple across the road is beginning to show red highlights.  There were raspberries in my breakfast granola this morning - blueberries are no longer fresh, but frozen.  The tomato plants are shuddering to a halt.  Thank goodness.  Even with one cherry tomato plant and one grape tomato plant, they keep on giving by the armful.  I will be doing some selective yoinking in the garden this weekend.  Bean plants were out a few weeks ago, same with the cukes (with the exception of my "special" cukes, which have yet to produce ONE cucumber of any size for seeds...) and zucchini.  I have one yellow squash plant still cranking out and the pepper plants are FINALLY producing ripe peppers.  The kale is magnificent!  I am getting more than my daily needs of leafy greens.  My lone eggplant plant has 

Breakfast on the go.
My roofer sent me a text this morning (we, apparently, are both early risers) asking if it would be okay to drop off some equipment this morning.  Oh, yes, Sweet Louise, it's okay.  He came around 7 with the scaffolding and other bits and said that he is bringing extra help so that they can try to finish it in one day.  That is good news, as Sunday's forecast is for showers and thunderstorms.  Once the roof is on, I can wash the front of the house, which gets little light and grows an nice, moldy finish every other year.  I also need to wash down the gutters, clean them out and finally - after 10 years - take down the Christmas lights that the last owner left as permanent decoration.  You know how it is - you mean to take them down, but they slip your mind and only slide back into your consciousness when it is inconvenient to take them down.  Those are things that only make it onto the Mental List.  The Mental List does not count.

This weekend is my mother's 93rd birthday and we are celebrating (such as she will let us) by making a picnic lunch and having it in their gazebo.  This means that I will have to leave the dogs in the house without parental guidance.  With a bevy of roofers, on scaffolding, no less, whacking away at their house.  I hope my living room holds up under the assault.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


A new, young rooster is headed to the LLF this coming weekend.  A friend's niece got chicks from Murray McMurray and fell under the spell of the "Free Exotic Chick" offer that we all know is ad-speak for extra-male-chicks-that-we-can't-sell.  Speaking of EMCTWCS, Bunny is now pretty much as full-sized as he will get.  This does not stop him from strutting around like he is The Man.  It should be interesting to see how well he shares the stage with the newcomer.
Other than being a bantam, I have no idea what breed of bantam he is.  I am guessing some Asian breed, given the fancy-schmancy tail, but I was unable to find him on the MMcM site.  Does anyone have any ideas?
On a completely separate note, I discovered another way to use up my zucchini!  I was researching how to steam the perfect brown rice, when I came across a recipe for brown rice/zucchini squares.  And it takes three cups of shredded zucchini!  What is not to like?  It's basically an eggy-quichy kind of dish, with brown rice, shallots, garlic, oregano, squash, egg and a little milk.  I added some shredded cheese (there is a topping of bread crumbs and cheese) to the base because you can never have too much cheese in my book.
Topped with GF panko crumbs
and a Parm/Asiago/Romano mix.
I still have a ton of zucchini - I will shred and freeze some, but would love to hear from you if you have some tried-and-true recipes to share!

Monday, September 12, 2016

An now for news of the New Metal Roof!

(Insert sounds of crickets.)  Yes, that's right, there has been no roofing done.  When I called my roofer a few days before The Day, he was uncharacteristically cagey.  It turned out that, when he originally called me to set up the date, he was looking at AUGUST 6-7.  And jobs had problems and his septic system was only half in.  Sigh.  The new date is this coming Saturday.  You know, the one weekend out of the last fifteen weekends with no rain, that is supposed to rain.  I sure hope I get it on before winter.

In order to divert my angst, I started cleaning out the barn.  I rehomed a partial roll of welded wire fencing, three heated water buckets, a length of ridiculously short electranet fencing, my Victorio saucer, my mini greenhouse, and, lastly, an extra phone.  I also filled the Goodwill container - which will be going this weekend.  I am ON FIRE, people! 

I had a houseguest this weekend, who I dragged to the feed store, to the grocery store and through all of my errands.  I did try to do some tourist-y things, but I am afraid I am too distracted to be a hostess with the mostest.  He left a day early, pleading homesickness, but I am still wondering if it was the sight of the manure splattered on my lower legs every morning (the cows at the dairy barn have been acting out....) or could it have been the crunchy towels?  He was a very good sport and took me out to dinner (not to mention supplying me with GF sauerkraut balls and chocolate covered espresso beans!)  I owe him...

Almost 3 cups!

Left with unexpected time on my hands, I made cottage cheese (ala Mama Pea), caught up on my ironing, gave Scrappy a bath, and enjoyed the onset of a cold front - which brought relief from the oppressive humidity and heat we've been having over the last many days.  We also got a half-inch of rain, woohoo!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Banes and Boons

For the most part, the furred residents of the LLF are a sweet and happy bunch.  I dearly love my Icelandics, Juno and Linden.  They are dear sheepies.  Then, there is Norman.

Don't let the bland expression
fool you...
He is the bane of my existence.  This has been a bad year for parasites - it's been terribly dry, so my already-limited 'pasture' has not been regenerating quickly.  This means my rotation is slowed down.  This means they are spending more time in one place.  Juno is the matriarch - she is Linden's Auntie and the first lamb born on the homestead.  She has a special place in my heart.  Linden is just sweet.  And has bad feet.  I have been pretty diligent with applying the wormer and it's not a big deal.  Drenching a sheep or two takes, what - less than a minute?  Except when Norman is part of the mix.  There is a whole lotta bad language involved when anything has to be done that includes Norman.  It took me 2 seconds to drench Juno.  It took me a minute to drench Linden.  It took me four days to drench The Pain.  It included restructuring part of the paddock, putting hooks and eyes on a door, rigging up a gate, and - finally - begging my neighbor to help.  He thinks Norman is the bees' knees.  But he's smart enough not to take me up on my offer to take him home.  The only thing between Norman and the highway is his lovely fleece.  (Just to accentuate his pain-in-the-ass-ness, he refused to stand still for a photograph.  This is an old pic.  He is a trial.)

Other chores ticked off the list were:  move sheep feeder and reinforce it again (it's been on its last legs for 8 years, since I dragged it out of the burn pile at Marianne's), raking sheep paddocks and toting manure, cleaning off the deck, final prep of the garlic and putting it in storage, cleaning the inside of my car windshield (usually put off until I cannot see at night), making various appointments for furnace check-up, hay pick-up (still waiting on my farmer....), oil change and tire rotation, start-up on cleaning out the garden beds, and the never-ending weeding.

Next year's garlic and shallots
My sister and I went to a local garlic fest.  I will have to say that these things are so far down my list that they are sub-strata.  I loathe crowds of people.  However, spending time with my sister trumps my dreads and loathings, so off we trotted last Sunday morning.  The only thing that saved us was the abundance of local wineries and distilleries.  There's nothing like a (tiny) shot of Maple Bourbon to put a warm glow on the crowd.  I was able to get my seed garlic - I'm trying two different types this year, a Brown Rose (potent!) and another purple/red garlic.  I also got my seed shallots and we split a chunk of white chocolate, cherry, garlic fudge for breakfast.  It was surprisingly good.  By the time I dropped her off and made it back home, I was shot.

Better late than never.
I also started to clean my birdhouse gourds from last year.  They had been mouldering in the carport all winter and were nice and dry and hollow.  I have no idea what I'm doing, but it seems to be the right thing.  I have big plans for them - all seven of them.  We all know what usually becomes of my Big Plans.  Isn't it the thought that counts?

And...ending this edition on a high note - we've got DUCK EGG!  The very first little greenish egg appeared Tuesday.  I have amassed two.  At this rate, the ducks will pay for themselves in about....never.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Putting the Labor in Labor Day (Weekend Plus)

All I can say, is that I hope - when I finally retire - I will settle into a more normal rhythm than I tend to do when I have more than two days off in a row.  In a nutshell - I got a lot done.

Since the days are rather a blur, I will not strain my already feeble brain by putting everything into neat and tidy order.  There is seldom a moment when my brain and thought processes are neat and tidy.  Let's start with the cooking/baking.

Chicken broth was made and canned.

9 pints canned, 2 quarts frozen
Peach and Blueberry Dutch Babies (well, Baby), was made - gluten free - and eaten for breakfast(s).

Notice Juno's Molasses Drench in
its place of honor.
Peppers were picked, cleaned and stuffed (thanks to the inspiration of You Know Who).

Sweet and Poblano

Spicy mix
A Rhubarb (and Strawberry) Custard Pie was baked for the farmer (I forgot to take a picture of the final product...).

Oatmeal Cookie Crust

Last of the frozen rhubarb, with some frozen
strawberries from last year for good measure.

I also took a stab at some gluten free chocolate zucchini muffins. 

Pretty, but meh.

They were very chocolate-y, but a little dry and meh.  The Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, however, was a smash-hit with family and barn crew.  It was also NOT gluten free, out of self-defense.  There was also a chicken pot pie, which arose from an over-zealous plan to smoke a whole chicken which, by Monday, had fizzled down to a "OMG, I've thawed an entire enormous chicken!  What the heck am I going to do with it?"  This led to tamped down expectations = crockpot.  I then found a frozen disc of GF pie dough and, voila, chicken pot pie!  By this time, I was giving the kitchen the stink-eye.  However, I now have a goodly supply of ready-to-go dinners.  All I have to do is remember to take them out of the freezer in the morning.  Right.

Postus Interruptus

Lest you think I have sailed off the edge of the world, I have not.  I have been busy - putting the Labor into Labor Day.  I have tons of pix and lots of yada-yada to go with them, but the starch flew out of my sails when I opened my mailbox this morning to put in my Netflix.  I found this:

What the - ?
It is my old friend, iPhone 6 - STOLEN iPhone 6.  It was sitting there.  No note.  No nuthin.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  Relieved?  Alarmed?  Furious?  Should I now believe in aliens?  How did 'they' know it belonged here?  And, yes, it was MY phone - at least it looks like my phone, right down to the nerdy cover.  (Cue creepy music and sound effects.)

Hmm.  Well, looking for the upside, at least I have a back-up!  But it still gives me the willies.  Part one of my retirement test-run will be up and running shortly.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Is it possible?

That I will have TOO MUCH time on my hands?  (snort, snort, cough, wheeze, hic)  Oh, most likely...NOT.  Today kicks off the onset of five plus days of no office.  No commute.  Sweet Louise!  I sure hope I can muster up the starch to go back next Thursday.

And we get out early today.  TGIF, indeed.  Lots going on this holiday weekend, of course.  I need to do some serious sheep wrangling, as the parasite load is back and Norman is leading me on a merry (for him) chase every single morning, as I try to administer his one-second wormer.  He will not win.  I have devised a devious scheme which will play out over three days - the result of which:  he will be lured into a trap.  Right.  Wish me luck.

There will be a thorough cleaning, inside and out.  There will be a new, lovely, green metal roof put on the house.  The dogs will go wild.  The KY Babes will be let loose in the yard under parental supervision (that would be me), as I don't trust the damn chickens - they may pick on Hopalong.  There will be pressure canning.  There will be letter-writing.  There will be new recipes tried.  There will be attendance at a local Garlic Fest.  My usual modus operandi is to get there just as it opens - hit my three garlic/shallot vendors and get the heck out.  However, this year my sis wants to go, so we will do the whole thing.  Le sigh.  There will be organizing.  More things will go out the door.

With any luck, I will have photographic evidence of some of the chaos to share early next week.  Y'all have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Good Golly.

Last week, I found my office neighbor in the parking garage, measuring his parking spot.  I wondered why.  Now I know.  It barely fits.  He is a nut.

I wonder if it came with paddles....