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Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Real Buddha would NOT have approved and rooster-less.

Over-packaged
I drink tea every night and maybe four times a day on weekends.  My current favorite is ginger-turmeric, given its anti-inflammatory qualities.  My usual brand is The Republic of Tea, since they sell their teas in a tin and do not also wrap every teabag.  They also offer refills (not packaged in plastic) for most of their teas.   However, I ran out (bad me) and was forced to find an interim replacement.  Enter Buddha Tea.  With all the package-hype and holier-than-thou-ness, I figured it was a safe bet.  Wrongo.  Not only was it boxed (thank goodness, cardboard, so recyclable) but every.single.bag was wrapped in NON-recyclable materials.  I opened every one and stuffed the bare nekkid bags into my TROT tin.  Not that it makes up for the waste, but it may help ease my blood pressure every time I make a cup.  Let me tell you, the real Buddha would not have given this a pass.






******


Hark!  Do you hear that cockadoodledo?  No?  Heh, heh.  Neither do I.  Seriously, poor Fritzie had problems.  Before the Zombie Rooster had so brutally attacked him, he was just a fun-loving, sort of goofy guy.  I believe that Big Red (ZR) brutalized him so viciously, that he inflicted neurological damage.  Fritzie would not use the roost, preferring to huddle in a corner - long after the brute was gone.  He was hysterical at any noise or movement.  He was self-maiming - pulling out his feathers.  He was a sex maniac, leaving many hens with bald spots.  The final straw was the occurrence of small seizures.   Those of you with chickens know how they are when they sense weakness.  Last Friday, during one of the non-raining spells, I went out to the chicken yard and witnessed a more severe seizure, with the hens forming a circle around him.  I don't think it was to cheer him on.  I marched back into the house, got my pellet rifle, and ended his suffering.  Luckily for me, he'd apparently used up all of his zombie powers during the seizure, so I was not chased through the yard by his living dead self.  Such a shame.  I think we will take a rooster break.  I have not had good luck with them for some years and we are all heaving a collective sigh of relief.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tip-toe between the raindrops. As if.


Don't look now, Ma, but it's
raining again.
Other than Saturday, the weekend weather was shite.  I found myself puttering around in the house, listening intently for the intermittent let-up of the rain - so I could vault outside and DO SOMETHING.  Friday was pretty much a wash (pardon the pun), but it did clear up at the very end of the day so that I could move the bale of wood shavings into the shed next to the coop and a 50# bag of chicken food into the bin.  That was pretty much it.  I made a quick trip up to Marianne's to pick up my tomato plants and drop off some how-tos on hard-boiling and peeling quail eggs, should anyone wonder.



The Belden Farm farmstand, built with
leftover old windows.  Quail eggs (Baby Blues)
on the front left.
I have not heard whether or not we sold any.  I think we'll have better luck when they are included at the farmers market.  In the name of research, I whipped up a batch of Bourbon Pickled Quail Eggs.  Because, why not?  I will let you know how they turn out when they are ready to be tasted - in a couple of days.


Saturday dawned blissfully dry.  Good thing, too, as my dear sis was coming to help me clean out the chicken coop.  We had tried a new method, thanks to her clever brain, where I lined the floor last fall with a heavy-duty tarp.  In my mind (so often not grounded in reality), all we would have to do is grasp the ends of the tarp and drag the whole hot mess out.  That could have 'possibly' worked, had we not had a winter full of Arctic blasts, where all 30 chickens and two ducks were coop-bound for days.  The accumulated mess had the heft and make-up of a cement/epoxy mix.  We did end up shoveling out about three large wheelbarrow loads, but it was much easier when we were finally able to haul out the tarp.  The cement floor was clean, there was no scraping and swearing, and we actually had fun doing it.  The fall clean up is always much easier, as they are all outdoor spreading the love.  After that, I did some potting up of plants and fired up the electric netting so that the sheep would get some greens.  By the time I turned around, it was early evening and I hadn't gotten even half my list accomplished.  Oh, well, said I.  There's always tomorrow.


Which dawned ... wet.  The rain was not supposed to start until early evening, bringing with it strong storms.  Instead, it rained from before dawn through most of the morning, with a brief clearing spell around noon.  When it became summer.  I really do miss spring.  It was so nice when we had it - back in the Stone Age.  I managed to get the rest of the raised bed frames completed, although they are not ready to plant yet.  I lassoed a neighbor (who had the bad timing of driving up to have me meet his new dog - from the rescue I work with - woot!) into helping me put up my trellis for my beans.  The new plan (what is this, Double ZZ by now?) is to finish cleaning up the three main beds this week, planting most of my seeds and seedlings over the holiday weekend.  Including my 14 tomato plants.


During the endless bouts of rain, I painted my front door a color sure to perk me up whenever I looked at it.  It gloweth!
Either a little bit o' sunshine
OR
a smear of yellow mustard...
We managed to avoid the severe thunderstorms, thank goodness, but today is another one of those rain-all-morning, wait until I am safely in my office for the sun to appear, then more severe storms day.  I'm hoping for at least a few opportunities to work frantically in my raised beds this week.  Wednesday we play the hospice shuffle - my sister and niece have to head to Massachusetts at the crack of dawn, Mom has a doctor's appointment in the city (chauffeured by moi), lunch has to be arranged, caregivers scheduled to stay with Dad.  Nothing is easy when you are dealing with dementia and the elderly.  I think we have everything under control (and I only say this because my sister is in charge - not I).  I am looking forward to folding my aging mother into my low-rider. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Plan Z

I do believe the Universe has its Ms confused.  You know, like March instead of May.  Another spiffy little statistic is that tomorrow marks the EIGHTEENTH straight Friday with rain.  I may put pontoons on my raised beds.


Speaking of which, I was able to chip away at one of the more problematic raised beds - not the most problematic, but let's not split hairs, shall we? - and I now have two almost-prepared beds out of eight. 
The worst one is to the right.
We take what small victories we can.  The chickens were thrilled to get the thinnings - four and a half five-gallon bucketfuls!  This particular bed used to be the strawberry bed, but a couple of years ago, during yet another lousy gardening season (I'm beginning to see a terrifying trend), the chipmunks and weeds beat me to any fruit and I threw in the gardening gloves.  I took out the remaining strawberry plants and tucked them in a bucket and sent a message to my new gardening buddy - she's a young mother who is trying to introduce healthy foods into the school system.  She has a big garden at home and has taken over an unused patch at the Middle/High school, where she is a cook, so I have been giving her all of my extra plants.  As a plus, she always shows up when she says she will.  I am all for promoting healthy eating, growing your own and shopping locally.  Especially when that shopping is free!


Tomorrow, I have taken the day off.  When I scheduled this day off, the forecast was for a mostly clear day.  It is now a mostly rainy day.  Give me strength....if it is not a total washout, I will be out there in the drizzle.  Things must get done, no matter what the weather.  The poor sheep have been looking longingly (and loudly) at the grass outside the fence and I found, drat and damn, that my energizer is kaput.  This puts a crimp in my moveable electric netting plans.  I did manage to dig out my battery-powered charger that still had some juice in it.  That gave them an hour of bliss on the grassy slope, poor babes.  I believe a solar energizer is in my very near future.  I can't complain, as I have gotten almost 10 years out of this energizer, including having to rewire it myself after the sheep pulled the cord out.  How fortuitous that I have in my possession a birthday gift certificate for the fencing company.... (xoxox)


After suffering a brain freeze looking at my list, I decided to break it down into areas, then prioritize each area, then set aside blocks of time, etc.  This is becoming more like a military maneuver every year.  Where are my troops?  Where are my minions?  They are inside being naughty, thanks for asking.


Saturday is supposed to be a dry day.  Oh, right.  If it is, I am bringing in my sister and niece and we are tackling the chicken coop.  Bless their hearts, although my niece has never experienced anything farm, so this should be interesting.  I will have a Plan B for her, just in case.  And it will not include The Pat.  I have other plans for them - on the deck with marrow bones.


I have a confusing housing situation with purple martins and blue birds and I am darned if I can figure it out.  Apparently, my lopped off birch stump (about 7 feet tall) has become a hot property.  I thought the martins had set up housekeeping in a hollowed-out area near the top.  I had mounted a blue bird house on the other side - before the hollowing-out process.  Now there is a lot of noise and comings and goings, ins and outs, between house and hole.  The wren even got involved!  I hope they can sort it out and babies, both blue and purple, are fledged.


Saturday is the debut of the Baby Blues, and I am hopeful that we can generate just enough demand to meet production.  I am not adding quail.  Nope.  No way, no how.  (Will some responsible adult step up to keep me in line?) 


I will hope to dazzle you with pictures of my tidy raised beds, newly framed and ready for planting on Monday.  Hope springs eternal, much like the rain, so we're in a dead heat.  If that fails, it's on to Plan Z.



Monday, May 13, 2019

Where have you been all my life, Everything Parmesan Crisps?

I'd have inserted a photograph here, but I ate them.  All of them.  Without pause.  Well, with some pauses, but short ones.  And there is no use to photograph he weather.  Think rain forest.


I am not going to go on about the weather, because I hate it and it makes me hyperventilate.  We had about 5 hours without rain and about 3 hours of sun over the weekend.  (STOP IT, depressing weather-speak!)


Anyhoo, I had made an appointment for a spa pedicure - strictly on the basis of testing out the facility, you understand.  We (my younger sister and I) are plotting my middle sister's birthday surprise and, being in the veritable middle of nowhere, it's not easy to come up with luxurious day spas that don't cost an arm and a leg and include half a day's travel.  I was quite pleasantly surprised (I apologize, nice spa lady, if I snored....or drooled...) and so we are set.  All that is left is to further plot how we are going to get her there.  I have volunteered to lie like a rug and then kidnap her and deliver her - blindfolded, if needed - to her mini-spa treatment.  I am nothing if not sneaky.


By the time I got home, I had about one hour to do outside work before the rain returned.  I had invited a 'friend' for a glass of wine and finger foods, so was tear-assing around, cleaning and straightening, when I got a text saying she really didn't have time.  (Ergo, the quotation marks around friend.)  So, there I sat with a relatively tidied house, a chilled bottle of rose and a plate full of Everything Parmesan Crisps, a new recipe.  So I tried one.  Made animal sounds and ate the rest.  The recipe is from Skinny Taste (thank you, Sylvie, for introducing me to them!) and is incredibly easy:


Grate 1/2 cup parmesan cheese on the large holes of a box grater.  Line a baking tray with a silicone mat (preferable) or parchment paper.  Divide the cheese into four separate little piles on the lined pan, spread each pile out to about a 4" circle, leaving room between.  Put in a preheated 400 degree oven for 3 minutes.  Remove from oven, sprinkle each with  3/4 tsp of a combination of sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, dried garlic flakes and poppy seeds (I use Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel mix), then put them back in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until they are golden.  Take out and let them cool.  You're welcome.


I slogged out to the yard and clipped a shopping bag of nettle tops, slogged back in and blanched them, freezing some and making my favorite spring soup out of the rest.  I have to say that I like nettles more than spinach in some recipes, this being one - it's basic:


Half a shopping bag of nettle tops, blanched for 3 minutes, put in an ice bath, then thick stems removed and nettles roughly chopped


Heat a nugget of butter and a slur-up of olive oil in a soup pan (I use the same pan as I did to blanch the nettles - dishes, you know) and saute until translucent a small onion, chopped, and a stalk or two of celery, chopped.  Add to this some diced potatoes and about 2-3 cups of chicken broth (or vege broth), a bay leaf and a teaspoon of dried thyme.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the nettles and more broth or water if needed.  Simmer 10 minutes more, until potatoes are tender.  Remove the bay leaf and use an immersion blender or pour (carefully) into a blender and blend until smooth.  You can add a dollop of heavy cream or half and half if you wish, but I like mine straight up.  It helps you through the cold, wet weather.


Other than that - Mother's Day was a dark, cold, rainy blur - I did more cleaning and then canoed up to Vermont and back.  I have potted up the last of my seedlings and planted the Bibb lettuce and arugula in the cold frame.  It was too wet to put up the electronet for the sheep yet, but I did get the energizer set up. 


I sit in the early mornings, knitting away, and listen to the birds wake up amidst the pitter-pat of the incessant rain.  I know that this weather will pass - eventually.  As is now commonplace, the rain will stop, it will become summer overnight and I will be moaning and groaning about the lack of rain.  There is no pleasing me.  I should take my cue from the resident Carolina Wren - he is filled with music, no matter what the weather.  Just happy to be alive.



Friday, May 10, 2019

The Power of the Snoot.

I came home two days ago, walking up the front walk to the accompaniment of the dog alarm.  They can see that it's me, but that does not stop them from alerting everyone in a mile radius that someone approacheth.  DANGER!  DANGER! (Will Robinson!  for those of you ancient enough to recognize the line.)


When I got to the front door and unlocked it, I could not get it open.  There was much frenzied yapping in the living room and, having not forgotten the horrors of old, I dropped my bag, vaulted down the front steps, tore around the house to the back, took the backs steps five at a time (there are four) and ripped open the sliding glass door.


At which point, the barking ceased and everyone was so happy to see me.


Peanut, his first day out of stir, had toppled a 40# box containing my quail food, had wrestled with it (pushing it against the front door) gnawed on it, clawed it, and had managed to chew off an end corner (HEAVY cardboard box), chewed through the packing paper and chewed off a corner of the feed bag.  He was moving pretty slowly by the time I got to him.


Seriously?


Judging by the 'end' result, both he and Lovey had managed to inhale some of the high protein organic feed.  There were small portions for dinner that night and The Pat is back in stir while I am not there.


It boggles the mind.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

When is a salad not a salad, but a hot/cold mess?

I am sure that is a question that rises to the top of your mind on a daily basis.  It does mine.  That should give you an idea of how exciting my life is.


We have segued into the time of year where every lunch is a salad by default.  As I was rummaging around my fridge this morning, mining various unmarked containers for potential lunch ingredients, it occurred to me that what I was creating might not be deemed a 'salad'.  Case in point:  Today's Salad





Leftover rice, sliced green onions, peanuts, avocado, chopped tomato, chopped egg, ginger sesame dressing.  There are times, I must admit, where the end result is - while not repulsive - odd.  This does not stop me.  I did draw the line at adding raisins to my 'salad', as the combo of tomato + raisin does give me pause.


Let's see.  What's new.  It's not raining yet!  This is the first day in over 10 days that I have not had to slog through the rain to do morning chores and try to reach my car without my 'style' dissolving.  Of course, it had to occur NOT on a weekend day, but a day where I can only enjoy it virtually - out my office window with a view of other office windows.  Not to worry, it will rain later today.  There is a slim chance that it may not rain at all tomorrow, but I'm not holding my breath.  At least this constant dismality has made it easier to harden off my seedlings.


What it has not done, however, is given me a chance to replace my raised beds.  I managed to get the cross pieces cut under the cover of my carport and I did transplant a peony, but that has been the extent of my outdoor activity.  That and scraping the square meter of muck that sticks to the bottom of my shoes every time I go out to do chores.


Enough about the weather.  Safe to say, it stinks.






I am soldiering along on another pair of short socks and I managed to push my way (virtually) into a charity crochet-along with the home office.  Truth be told, it was listed as Knit a Square and, as always, I read no further.  Apparently, the home office is full of crocheters, not knitters.  Not to be dissuaded, learning to crochet has been on my bucket list (you will note that I have low expectations of the lead-up to my demise) so I volunteered.  I am relieved that I am going to be at the end of a phone line, as my crochet speed is still in first gear.  I watched a quick YouTube tutorial for Slow Instructions for the Very Beginner, taught by a 14 year old, and found, much to my delight, that it is fun!  Tomorrow I labor along, trying to achieve two squares to their fifteen.  No matter, it's given me the impetus that I needed to take it further.


I had every intention of celebrating Cinco de Mayo with bells on, but I was having a friend to dinner who has an extremely limited palate.  I did manage to squeeze in a modified huevos rancheros for breakfast.
Close enough.
Dinner, although well-planned on paper, skirted disaster.  I had decided to make dinner with the slow cooker function of my Instant Pot.  Easypeasy.  (Insert pregnant pause)  As we all know by now - everyone but me, apparently - nothing goes as planned.  All I had to do on Sunday was to take my recycling to the transfer station, feed the farm cat(s), drop off eggs at my neighbors and come back to put three ingredients and a simple sauce in the slow cooker.  What could go wrong?  How about everything?  It poured and delayed the loading of my car.  Dropping off the eggs involved a longer than expected visit with my elderly neighbors.  By the time I finally reached the transfer station, there was a double line of cars and trucks and I was in Transfer Station Pergatory for almost a half hour.  When I finally got back home, my neighbor had already arrived to help me prepare the lumber for the raised beds.  The dogs needed to go out, but didn't want to because - rain.  When I finally got inside to throw dinner in the Instant Pot, I had just enough time - according to the recipe - to get the thing cooked in time for the arrival of my dinner guest.  I still had to vacuum and sweep and do the usual housecleaning things, get chores done and spiffy up.  About 40 minutes before she arrived, I realized that I did not smell anything - there should have been some sort of mouth-watering aroma emanating from my Instant Pot by then.  I took the lid off and discovered that the roast was about 1/2 of the way cooked.   Not phased, for once, I pressure-cooked it for 35 minutes and it was perfect.  Bless you, Instant Pot.




I also found a new home for my potato grow bags - I've decided to plant my potatoes in tires, when I do plant potatoes.  Between Marianne and my neighbor, I get plenty of potatoes in the late summer/early fall, so I don't have to plant them and that frees up precious space in my garden.  I am hoping that the rain gods move their focus somewhere else and soon, so that I can get cracking on the one million items on my List and that's only in the garden!



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Call me the Maiden of Mold.

It has rained, drizzled, sleeted, and/or dripped for days.  I believe we have had an hour and a half of sun in the past three weeks.  It can get a girl down.
Sun or rain, I love my linen
sheep transparency
All was not dreary!
Ain't it loverly?
For Administrative Assistant Week (that used to be Secretary Week - but we have become way more inclusive since those PI days), I got these absolutely gorgeous flowers.  That are on a living plant.  Halleluiah!  I can take it home and plant it.  I also got a lovely wrappy type of bracelet that seems to be all the rage.  My supervisor does her level best to make me stylish.  She got me a beautiful cashmere wrap for Christmas - I'm afraid to wear it!  Oddly, the bracelet was very musty-smelling and I am wondering if it had been dormant in someone's drawer before being passed on.  This is not a big deal with me at all (although I could live without the musty-smelling bit), as I am a firm believer in secondhand, regifting and generally not perpetuating the gluttony that is this country.  If anyone has some tips on how to rid it of its 'aroma', I would be very grateful.  It is made up of thin leather straps (which, I believe, is the problem) and other loops of ersatz jewelry-type materials.


I had half of Friday off because of some tests that were scheduled pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the day.  It started raining early that morning and did. not. stop.  Saturday?  Wash, rinse, repeat, plus snow.  Sunday?  A hopefully bright start to the day that rapidly went downhill into...rain.  I did manage to get out to a Cornell extension to pick up some bare root trees and a flat of sedums that I got at rock-bottom prices.  The only downside was that it was not a local extension and I had to drive over an hour each way.  I am trying to plant more flowering things to make my little plot a haven for bees, birds and all things pollinators. 


While whizzing by Marianne's to say a quick hello on Friday, she gave me a bag of greens.  And shiitakes! 
Bag o' greens

Sorrel

Shiitakes

Mixed greens
Given my glut of eggs, I made a Sorrel/Spinach/Mushroom Quiche for dinner - and a week's worth of lunches.
In its GF pie crust (pre-made)
Aside - I often buy frozen, pre-made gluten free pie shells, as I have had mixed luck with GF pie crust mixes and they entail the use of a LOT of butter.  The crust for the quiche was fine, but I learned the hard way that you cannot blind bake this crust - no matter what the maker says.  I had to blind bake the crust for my coconut custard pie and it was totally, completely, without-a-doubt inedible.  Luckily, I don't mind having coconut cream pudding.  Not one bit. 


I did manage to rebuild one raised bed - in spite of the constant interruption by a neighbor who, having seen me working on it, decided he must step in and "help" poor, pitiful woman me.  I do appreciate help, believe me.  But when I need it.  I was doing perfectly fine on my own.  Pfft.  Ah, well.  I will take a picture of it when it stops raining.  Sometime in June.  One down, three more to go~!  I also have to fix my coldframe and the chickens have ravaged my downspout.  Because, obviously, I don't have enough to do.  WAY too much downtime on my hands.


I have yet to stencil my quail egg boxes, but thought I would share just how darn cute they are with you:
Thought using $ to give you
and idea of size was appropriate.

Squee!
Marianne and I have decided on a price and I will be finishing the stencil and decorating the boxes this weekend.  They hit the market the second Saturday of May.  Fingers crossed.  Meanwhile, things have settled down in the quail colony, thank goodness.


In an effort to try and keep my couch cover ON the couch, I purchased a special bed for the Burrower, aka The Pat.  The jury is still out.  He seems to like it more if there is an additional fleece blankie inside the pouch. 
The bed within a bed.
And, it's official.  Slimmie is a dog in mink fur.  I have found that the easiest way to administer the dogs' daily allergy meds is with the liberal application of cheese spread.  Slimmie decided that he, too, was in need of a twice-daily administration of cheese.
Waiting for cheezies.
After a lot of trial and error, we seemed to have fixed the morning cat-vomit trend.  I had fixed the 'stinking to high heaven in the litter box' problem with a new cat kibble, but we were still faced with breakfast in/breakfast out.  I got a variety of tinned wet food and, not surprisingly, the most expensive of the lot went in and stayed there.  (Why is it that, in essence, a tiny tin of canned cat tuna costs five times the amount charged for the human variety?)


I'm hoping for at least one afternoon of non-rain this coming weekend.  I need to get at least two more raised beds finished and installed, along with prep for coop cleaning.  Can't wait.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I have the power.

Sunday sunrise - it lied.
I have the power to make it rain.  Or not.  Please feel free to bow to my greatness.  Want rain?  Let me plan a day of errands for you on a day when it is "not" supposed to rain - these errands must be carried out at a distance from your homestead and in places of no cover and crowded parking lots.  Tired of rain?  I will happily come and bring my lemon tree to put on your deck.  It's guaranteed to make the sky as dry as toast.  No payment necessary.  I will just bask in the glow of your adoration.


Pfft.


I had a coconut cream pie to bake on Saturday for the upcoming Easter dinner on Sunday.  I almost had everything I needed.  Figuring I would make a dash north early in the morning to do a ninja shopping (dash in/dash out) because any rain that was forecast was for late afternoon, I raced around, did chores, made a list and off I went.  About halfway to Bennington, the skies opened and stayed that way until I pulled into my driveway.  Then it stopped.  It was magic.  Black magic.  While I was on my way home, I got a text from my sister that both she and Mom were battling colds and could we postpone Easter (or, more precisely, our celebration of same - there are limits to my powers...) until the next Sunday.  Hmm.  Would I mind not spending six hours making a coconut cream pie?  Not in the least!  I put everything away and realized I had grabbed a carton of non-fat half and half.  Sigh.  Really, though.  Why is there such a thing?  I called the store and they said to just bring it back and exchange it.  Heavier sigh.  It's a half-hour drive.  Instead, I donned garden gloves, grabbed a bucket and attacked the garden.  Three hours later, I had weeded out two raised beds, weeded my line of garden tires, clipped all the dead stuff, raked, shuffled the residue out to the woods (trying to levitate through Tickville) and then dragged myself in and made a quart jar of nettle tea.  Yes, I am still on the virtuous road.  Plus, my fresh nettles are popping up all over!  I have to say that I love nettle tea.  I know that drinking spinach-flavored water is not for everyone, but it's the bee's knees for me.  I worked on transplanting the rest of my pepper starts and started some zucchini and more kale (can you ever have too much kale?  I say, no.)


Since Sunday was supposed to be a mostly rainy day, I once again got in my car at the crack of dawn, drove north with my ersatz carton of cream, drove home, pulled up my BGPs and tackled moving my lovely lemon tree outside.  By applying physics and a lot of bad language, I did manage to wrestle it out of the sliding glass door and onto the back deck.  I placed it where it would get the most rain and sun, then cleaned the quail condo before the downpour.  Which never happened.  The skies cleared, sun came out and it hasn't rained since.  See?  Mystical powers!  My neighbor came over and we managed to get two of the willow hybrids pruned - not an easy job and he's finally letting me help (at 84, he has twice the energy that I have, but, still).  I selected a few more willow stems and stuck them in water to root - I have found homes for all the others.  I put up my bluebird house (although I think my timing is slightly off - but I'm hoping they will notice it and make a note for next year).  After ticking a few more things off the list, I went inside to see if there was something I could bake (purely out of self-defense).  Going through my fridge freezer, I came across a gallon bag, crammed full of frozen bananas.  Luckily, I have a great recipe for GF one-bowl banana bread.  Done! 


I tried a new-to-me recipe for dinner, Sweet and Sour Lentils, from one of the volumes in my vast Moosewood collection.  It turned out great - great enough that I am still enjoying it three meals later.


Of course, there is still a list a mile long of spring to-dos.  And there is every chance that I will run out of spring before I run out of things to do before it ends.  And so it goes.  Next weekend is stacking up to be a hair-raiser:  Friday night is a family birthday dinner for my youngest sis, followed by dinner at my place on Saturday with my friend, Cynthia, then Sunday is the new Easter.  I have broken down my pie-making steps to spread them over all three days - both to make sure it's finished and to save my sanity.  Blind bake pie shell Friday.  Custard Saturday.  Whipped cream topping Sunday. Then I am taking a baking hiatus.  Don't tell the barn crew.
The Spring Line-Up


  







Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mapril.

I believe that most of what I got done this past weekend can be listed under the heading of "Things I Never Learn".  Buoyed by a false sense of the onset of spring, I set up the rain barrels, unplugged the water heaters and planted three of my six hybrid willow starts.  So far, the temperature has plummeted by 30 degrees, we've had rain, sleet, sleety rain and {{{{snow}}}.  I've had to skim ice off all the (now) unheated water surfaces every morning.  There has been thunder, lightning and the usual gale-force winds.


I've started clean-up in the garden and boy-oh-man do I have a lot to do.  Most of the original raised bed frames are falling apart, but there is no way I can replace them all this year.  I've decided to identify the 3-4 worst ones (depending on the cost of lumber) and then leave the rest until next year.  I pulled up all the rebar stakes and rolled up the chicken wire barriers that were around each individual bed.  While this barrier worked well at keeping rabbits at bay, it didn't do diddley to repel deer.  I've decided to use an electronet fence around the perimeter.  I get all my electric fencing from Premier1 - their products have never let me down and anytime I have had a question or needed to contact someone, they have been forthcoming and helpful.  Given this day and age, that's saying something.


So.....half of my birthday/xmas money went to the fencing, while the other half went here:
I love it!
I have been wrestling with a workable solution to feeding hay to the El-Destructos (aka the sheep).  I had two welded steel hay feeders in the barn for winter.  I now have half of one.  The other has been entirely taken apart.  I  have no words.


I stumbled across the design - well, actually, just a picture of it - for this feeder on the internet.  I had Billy (Love of the Pat's life, although he is entirely fickle, as you will see below) whip it up, along with a salad table, that I am planning on installing in my soon-to-be hoophouse/greenhouse.  The only thing left to be done is to put hinges and a handle on the top, so that I can lift it and drop the hay into the feeding area.  It will reduce hay waste a great deal, hold the seeds - which the sheep love - in the bottom and generally make my life easier.  There are holes drilled in the bottom to make sure water drains out.
Extreme roots



Little newbies between the full-grown
hybrids.  Which are in need of a good haircut.
(You'll have to biggify and squint hard to see them)
Since it took an hour to dig three holes for my willow starts (there is a reason there are two gravel pits on my road), I decided to put the remaining three up for grabs on my local Facebook marketplace.  Is it just me, or am I expected to divine the meaning of "interested"?  Is it to mean "I am interested and would like them", "I am only interested in being the first person to be interested", or "none of the above"?  I have had four people send me a message either saying they are 'interested' or asking if they are still available.  Then....crickets.


Speaking of crickets - I think I have four female quail and one male.  The females sound just like the spring peepers I can hear off in the distant wetlands.  The one male - that I was sure was a female because I am an expert on quail - does this rather abrupt and alarming trilling crow that always makes me jump.  Egg production has started, albeit a bit unevenly.  But, still.  I am working out a name for this very valuable, rare and special product and came up with this:
Let me know what you think.  I have decided on pulp (paper-based) cartons, as I loathe plastic and am trying my best not to have any more in my life.  Once the design is finished, I will turn it into a stencil and put it on the top of the cartons.  The quail pic needs to be 'deconstructed' into a much simpler design that would lend itself to stenciling.  That is one of my tasks over the weekend.  I'm hoping to start boxing them next week.


I whipped up a Cranberry Cake for the barn guys this Sunday and got a very enthusiastic reception.  As a matter of fact, it was declared the best yet - then the milk truck driver entered the milk room and there was one lone piece left.  He eyed it.  The farmer eyed it.  Then the farmer sighed and offered it to the driver.  I think I saw tears in his eyes (kidding).  The recipe for the cake is here.  I do not put the topping on it because that would be gilding the lily.  I also bake it in a bundt style springform pan because this baby is dense!  I saved the other half for my neighbor.  Because he came over last week and raked up my entire yard.  At 84, he is a marvel.


Now that I've segued to recipes...


I could not find my original recipe for the fermented carrot ginger slaw, but here is basically the same thing.  As it ferments, the carrots get very tender.  It's great - the taste is bright and slightly sour with a little zing from the ginger.


The damper on the fireplace has been fixed - with, as always, the Pat's invaluable help.  Honestly.  The chimney guy came with his crew, one of whom the Pat became particularly enamored with.  The poor guy was down on his side, with his head in my fireplace when the Pat broke out of his crate and made a mad dash for him - bringing along six toys.  He forced himself into his arms and kissed him wildly.  It was embarrassing.  However, the fellow was just as enamored with the Pat and I thought I would have to forcibly separate them.  The other fellow looked at Lovey and said, "Is that a Pit?" with an obvious sneer.  I said (trying mightily to hold the fury and distain out of my voice), that she was, indeed, a Pit mix - half Pit, half sweet roll.









Friday, April 12, 2019

Sock it to me!

(Or, this is what procrastination looks like.)


Pile 'o socks
And I am giving you the unvarnished view of my kitchen counter - I hand-wash my socks in my kitchen sink.  Vitamins to the right are mine, all meds on the left are the Pat's.  The toaster is still relatively shiny.


While I adore my own socks, I do not adore hand-washing them.  So they pile up until I am one pair shy of running out of clean socks.  My goal?  To knit enough to keep me in socks for a year.  THAT will be some pile 'o socks - more like a mountain o' socks.


I have broken my to-do list into a variety of Post-It notes.  It seems to lull me into the false sense that I can make great progress on a weekend.  I did make some good progress this week - I've vowed to resist the gravity pull of my chair-and-a-half in the evening until I get Something Done.  Ergo, the great sock washing.  I also made a batch of yogurt and found my Carrot Kraut done.  It is good!  It's from a recipe that came with my Mason Top fermenting kit.  I have always wanted one, but resisted until it was sufficiently marked-down and I tapped into my birthday/xmas money.  The rest of my bd/xmas money went to something else.  All will be revealed...


My car is now totally legal and I am beginning to relax around it.  I even let it get dirty.  So I can run it through the car wash tomorrow and gloat when the car wash owner gets an eyeful.  He did everything but sneer when I went through with the Hyundai.  I took it personally. 


After numerous attempts to reach the chimney cleaner/repair people - I started calling three weeks ago and it's been...(crickets) - I went on their website, pulled down their Contact Us form and said that no one had called me, I was unhappy and I was going to give them an honest but unfavorable review on Facebook.  Literally minutes later, my phone rang and an appointment mysteriously became available.  There IS power in social media.  I just wish it didn't bring out the snarkiness in people - people are the worst when they are cowards.  Can't we just use it for good?  I'd like to order up about 1000 tons of fairy dust and dump it on the world.


Anyhoo.  Can you tell I had TWO lattes this morning?  I hope I can burn off this caffeinated craziness before bedtime...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Human origami, anklets and at least there's Spring inside.

I am slowly settling into my car.  Apparently, I have become my mother and am fighting change at every turn.  Good gawd.  I used to embrace change - demand change - create a change for change's sake.  Now I grumble and fret.  This needs to be addressed, toot sweet, as they say in Paree.
Basically, my car.
 Can I point out that there is a mere fraction of an inch between the pavement and the bottom of the car?  While this would have been a breeze when I was 30, I am now finding that I must fold my limbs in a complicated and death-defying manner in order to get into and out of my car.  Once I'm in, I'm fine.  No more worrying that the profile of my car will lend itself to being blown off the high, scary bridge.  As a plus, I am so low that I no longer need to look vaguely to the left or right so that I won't notice that I am three miles above the Hudson River in a speeding tin can, surrounded by lunatics.


I have also just realized how traumatized my Hyundai has left me.  I imagine dire sounds, worry that the wheels will come off when I go around a curve.  It's going to take time and deep breathing.


My sweater knitting was on hold for a bit.  It seems that, as soon as momentum has ceased, so does my focus.  All I had to do was a light steam blocking so I could start the sleeves.  That was weeks ago.  I finally forced myself to take the five minutes it took to steam it.  So now I'm a hand-wringing wreck of a procrastinator with creaky joints.  Lawsymercy.
While I was procrastinating, I knit up a pair of anklets for my youngest sis out of the yarn I had used on her (creep of a) boyfriend's socks.  (I hope your socks shrink.  You know who you are.)  Anyhow, she should enjoy them.  I believe I might knit up some more of these babies -  but with a little cuff instead of a roll (Rose City Rollers is the pattern, if interested).  However, they will have to wait until I finish the sweater.  Yes, I pulled up my BGPs and started the sleeves.


The weather is still below freezing at night, which is very frustrating, but still better than below 0.  It's been alternately windy, cloudy, foggy, rainy, cloudy.  Thank goodness one has seeds, right?  Even if this one has now set herself up for Tomatogeddon.  I started twenty tomato plants, conveniently forgetting that Marianne has started another 40 or so for me.  I guess I will have enough tomatoes this year.  I also started two kinds of kale - a brilliant blue and a Russian red.  My peppers, celery, celeriac and bibb lettuce seeds have germinated:
Such a lovely sight.


One type of pepper has yet to germinate as well as my marigolds.  I still have more to sow.  When the weather gets me down, I toddle back to the office/craft/greenhouse room and snort soil fumes.
Sorry for the blurry pic - top row is
first planting; second is tomatoes and
third is kale.
I also need to deal with my willow cuttings, which have gone crazy in their bucket.  Since the ground is still frozen and there is 'talk' of a colder-than-normal end of the month (just shoot me), I may have to put them in pots until I can safely put them in the ground.
Roots!

Starting to leaf and sprout little
catkin-thingies.
Last weekend (and, in my case, weekend means Sunday), I took the Plexiglas storm windows off the quail hutch and washed them (two eggs a day, so far!) but put them back on every night, gave the hutch a thorough cleaning and re-vowed to do this ever week, and swept off the deck.  While I was at it, I decided to check the grill - I wasn't too worried about mice, as I could still smell the moth balls - only to find that they had wedged in a condo and then had the bad manners to die on my grill pan.  It's a good thing I checked, as I have plans to lure my friends, Steve and Christina, to a deconstruction party, followed by BBQ and literary cocktails (Tequila Mockingbird, anyone?)  I have the box fan going under the house during the day - I'm trying to stave off mold! - and am slowly, but surely, checking things off my list.  It's such a big list.... 







Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A Pillar of Virtuosity and I do memes.

In my ongoing, yet futile, attempt to assuage vengeful gods, I have been striving to be the Pillar of Virtuosity.  Alas, I am naught but a tower of sea salt.



Well.




There is a new car.  There was a new water leak.  There is progress on the sweater.  There are no fires in the fireplace, due to a faulty flue lever.  (You remember the fireplace - the $3,000 chimney replacement?)  There are duck eggs.  And I saw a bluebird.  There was more quail drama - but there was also the arrival of "The Egg".  There was mud, then there was lots of snow.  We are currently heading back to mud.  The weather is finally heading in the right direction, although the next 500 days have rain in the forecast.




In an attempt to negate all this vengeful action by whatever gods I have so royally pissed off, I have been pretty virtuous.  Almost cloyingly so.  Since all my moaning and groaning and gnashing of teeth has not seemed to make things any better, I'm trying to clean up my act.  Instead of my usual go-to meal when highly stressed (nachos), I made butternut chili.  And carrot ginger kraut. 
Cannot wait until it's ready!
Carrot Kraut Nachos, anyone?
And baked falafel. And caramelized onion quiche.  I am so virtuous, I can barely be in the same room with myself.  And let me tell you, I can stretch a butternut squash to within an inch of its life!  There was chili, Buddha bowls and GF butternut/onion pizza.


The only resident of the LLF who seems to have had a banner week(s) is The Pat.  Peanut's favorite things in the world, besides food of any sort, are men.  Especially workmen.  He has been in workman heaven this past week - we went to the mechanic, there were two visits by the plumber, and his all-time favorite, Billy.  When he sees Billy, he levitates across the ground like a heat-seeking missile and launches himself into Billy's arms.  If I had video production skills, I would film it in slow motion and put romantic music in the background.  It is interesting that, no matter how large and hairy the workman, they all reduce themselves into falsetto baby-talk.  I'll have to admit to liking the plumber - he was working away on the shower drain when I hear him say, "Could you send Peanut back in with that gasket?"  Just as Peanut the Helper appeared with the self-same gasket clenched in his teeth.


The car.  After finding out that the power steering was on its way out on the Hyundai, I slogged through the jungle of car dealers (I actually felt that I needed a shower after one visit - talk about oily...), ending up at the Subaru dealer.  We hammered out a fairly good deal (if you think paying almost as much as a house for a car that drops its value by half as soon as you drive off the lot a 'deal') - I wanted to be sure that they knew I was not a pushover, so I went armed:

Thank you, my Canadian gal-pal.
Saturday I picked up my red Impreza.  I have gotten the basics down, but there are many things that are still a mystery.  It has taken some getting used to - I feel as if I am riding two inches from the pavement and there are no mysterious and alarming noises.  Plus, it is only the second car in my long and inglorious car-ownership-past that has had an automatic transmission.  I am still grabbing madly for the shift.  It has been raining and drizzly and snowing and overcast, so I don't have pictures.  But, if you've seen one red Impreza, you've seen mine.  I really am trying to get excited about it, but I am still suffering the effects of sticker shock.  And I'm not the only one having a hard time getting used to the change.
Mom, there's a strange vehicle in the
driveway.  I'm going to growl and bark continually
until it goes away.
Heading into spring (please god) on an up note:




Now, excuse me while I go inhale some damp earth aroma.













Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Get Lloyds of London on the phone!!!

I need to insure my $500 quail egg.




Ketchup post soon.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Slimmie 1 - Mere Human 0

I blame it on the full moon and the fact that I came home practically radiating with bad intent. That must have been the reason he was on his guard and not curled in his self warming bed, as he always is. After 20 minutes of futilely trying to get my hands on the furry eel, I gave up and called the vet to cancel. The good news is, both  Slimmie and I got a good cardiovascular workout.

My sister and I decided to postpone our trip, given the approach of the latest winter storm. Shouldn’t it be a spring storm? Aren’t we officially over this godforsaken winter?   In any event, I am looking at today as a bonus.

There are two male cardinals duking it out, vocally, in two opposing trees.  A definite sign of spring, as is the much-welcomed red wing blackbird. I’ve brought the birdfeeders in and will only scatter seeds randomly during the day. I am sure bear activity will be up with the warming weather.    The tally on birdseed for this winter was approximately 150 pounds.   I have about 20 pounds left and when that’s gone, it’s over.

 If the weather is not too awful tomorrow, I will commence the dreaded process of looking for a new car. There is not much I dislike more.  I’ve tried the online car gurus but they don’t seem to have anything registered closer than 60 miles for me. I think it’s a great service, as they break down whether the price that’s being asked is a good deal, great deal or a fair deal. I will just have to pull up my BGPs and plunge in.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Hello Mud!

If there ever was a post title that will come back to bite me, this is it.


I should add, "Goodbye Ice!"  But I am sure I will now get bitten twice.  We went from layers of ice and snow, to boot-sucking mud, to frozen mud, now to dry mud.  But tomorrow it is supposed to rain, so we may just reverse the process.  One never knows with Fickle Farch.


Love the pattern
This is pretty much how the entire chicken yard looks - with the exception of the reseeded part.  I am hoping the area I reseeded last year will hold its own this spring.  The jury is still out.
Betty Rubble

Connie the Cornish
These two hens are my constant companions, along with Dottie, the Speckled Sussex.  They follow along, talking to me.  Betty is an olive egger.


I was happy to see that the ice has melted between the raised beds, so I will be out layering cardboard this weekend - should I have the time.  Another weekend scheduled to within an inch of its life.  Last weekend, I had more of a social life than I've had in months - I met my friend with the Randall cattle for a glass of wine on Saturday night, and my neighbor took me out for dinner on Sunday.  I managed to squeeze in the complete purging of my linen closet - a thorn in my side for years.  I got two huge bags of the gleanings, so to speak.  One for Goodwill and one for the local shelter.  Progress.


There are signs of spring, on this day of the equinox.  My rhubarb is starting to show signs of life.


You can just see the start of the red buddings, if  you biggify.  I am going to divide a few and transplant them in the front - just to see if they do better with more light.  These are fine - albeit slower to grow - but I'm in the mood to try new things.  I got all charged up about a potato planting scheme, until I realized that I don't have the garden space for it.  Seed starting is kicking off this weekend, too, so I may be burning the midnight oil, trying to get everything done.  I am actually afraid to face my seed packets.  I have a feeling it's gotten out of control.


With the absence of ice, I have let the dogs have their heads and it is so much fun to watch.  Lovey gets a bad case of the zoomies and the Pat is positively airborne.  Sometimes he goes so fast, that his rear end is trying to pass his front end.  Poor kids.  It's been a long winter.  I have to check the yard first, however, as I seem to have inherited a yard bunny.  There's a small rabbit that now lives under the deck and is within view almost every time I go out.  That would be too much excitement for all of us.


Tomorrow I try to get Slimmie into his carry-crate (hahahaha) so I can tote him up to the vet.  He went from tossing up the occasional hairball, to throwing up every morning.  He hasn't lost his appetite or looked or acted poorly, which is reassuring.  I had started him on a new kibble, so I went back to his grain free and he has not thrown up once in the last five days.  Still, it pays to be diligent when your cat/dog gets older.  I just have to maintain the element of surprise tomorrow.  He is not a violent cat, but he is strong and eely.  Wish us luck.  If luck is not on my side, I may have to beg for a house call.


Friday, my sister and I are taking a day trip to NH.  I'm going along as company and comic relief.  I am also dropping my car off at the mechanics.  Yes.  Again.  I am actively looking for another.  Saturday, I am hoping to do a shortened version of my chores, so I can get home and get things done.  Sunday, I am joining a spring hike because...well, because it's spring and I need fresh air.   That, and I need more socialization.  I realized that I had not had any interaction with another human being (in person) Monday and Tuesday.  And I work in an office building!  It's not natural.


Next on my List of Purge is the laundry/furnace/tool room.  Again.  I realized that I had not purged anything, the last time I tackled it.  I just rearranged what was there.  No more.  The gloves are off.  The freezer is pretty much emptied, so I will see if I can defrost it, too.  Then I can put it on the local market and move my smaller chest freezer from the back room.  THEN, I can finish the office/craft room.  THEN...well, you know, there is the rest.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor ice....or....you can't get there from here.

Honestly.  Last Monday, I gave a package to my neighbor to drop at the local post office.  It was a book - media mail - and pretty straightforward.  Or so I thought.  Just on a whim, I thought I would track the package (which was going to Ohio).  Here is its path.  So far.



Cherry Plain, NY

Albany, NY

Detroit, MI

Westland, MI

Pittsburgh, PA

Detroit, MI

"In transit to its destination"


At least Michigan is in the general area of Ohio.  As was Pennsylvania.  We've got the target surrounded.  It boggles the mind.  At this point, I'll be thrilled if it actually reaches its destination.

After years of being the outpost in our megafirm, we (as in yours truly) are being inundated with visiting attorneys this week.  This meant re-commissioning rooms, setting up computers and phones, cleaning, catering, etc.  I wouldn't even mind the earlier than usual mornings, except for the fact that they are occurring on the back of this archaic time change.  Anyone who raises chickens knows that you need daylight in order to open the doors - especially if you are in a predator-laden area.  I've known owls who have swooped down and sauntered through open coop doors to do their worst while it's still dawn and the chickens are in their overnight stupor. 

Speaking of chickens, I have noticed that I tend to lose the old girls in the early spring, as opposed to mid-winter.  It seems like they use up all their energy trying to make it through, only to run out in March.  I've lost one of my Goldies (Buff Orpington), my last Maran, and there is another that is looking wilted.   The one that I secretly despise will probably outlive all the rest and continue to make my life a living hell.

There seems to be sun out this morning - if I remember what sun looks like - but the rest of the week will be overcast.  I may need to buy my Vitamin D3 by the case lot.



Friday, March 8, 2019

Wrap or serape? And my very own Bloody Mary.

I have a fairly strict policy of packing my lunch every day.  It makes sense, both from a financial point of view and from the tried-and-true "I can make that better!" point of view.  No one can top my "Clean Out The Fridge" Salad.


However, during Farch, I cut myself some slack.  There are days when it is all I can do to get out of bed and shuffle off into my routine, let alone plan and pack my lunch.  Yesterday was one of those days.  When I saw -2 degrees on the thermometer, I threw up my hands and yelled "Uncle!"  This always has an interesting affect on my 'kids', who have been snoring softly (and not) from under their toasty piles of fleece blankets.  Jerked out of a sound sleep, Slimmie bolts for his room, Peanut barks madly and nothing in particular, and Lovey just looks worried.


Gluten free cuisine has not permeated much of this city, apparently.  If pushed, one can get a sandwich in a gluten free wrap for an extra buck-fifty.  PASS.  I usually ask for whatever I order without any bread product, but that usually causes panic or blank stares, and they forget anyway.  So I just count it as bonus chicken food.  Yesterday, I ordered a falafel wrap, from my favorite mid-Eastern type carryout place.  With the whole wheat wrap, she says virtuously, as I am trying to make sure my chickens have only the best.


I don't know if it's because I live in a cave, from a gourmand's point of view, or if we just make 'em big up here, but that wrap was the size of a poncho!
I was thinking of putting an umbrella
next to if, for scale
The chickens were thrilled.  They also got the rest of my Indian Butter Chickpeas, which were very good but I faltered after four days in a row.  I've got to remember to halve all the recipes.


I've pretty much finished my anklets - although I forgot that I needed to cast off the top loosely.  Because, you know, I finished the first one two days ago.  Much too long ago to remember.  Then I cast on a sweater. 


About this sweater.  While going through my office/craft room, I decided to winnow out my crafting library.  If there is one thing I know about myself, it is that I am sometimes more crazy about the 'stuff' involved in a craft, than the actual crafting of it.  Geez.  I went through my knitting books and found a) I had one that I hadn't even realized was for crocheting; b) of the remaining books, one contained only one pattern that I would even knit, one didn't even have ONE pattern I would knit, and one was full of patterns I would knit.  I rehomed the crocheting book and the knitting books that are getting the heave-ho, were heaved into my garage sale bin.  Once I settled on a pattern, I had to see if I even owned a sweater quality of yarn.  I may have lots (MEGALOTS) of yarn, but most of it is in single skeins or balls and all 'special'.  I should not have worried.  From the magical land of Oregon (and it IS magical - or, at least, there are magical people there), a box landed on my doorstep that very night, and contained the exact amount of yarn I needed for my sweater.  And then some.  Cue the spooky music.  The yarn was mailed before I even knew I was knitting a sweater.  I swear, it almost gave me goosebumps.  Because - are you sitting down? - it was also in the exact color that I was thinking about.  Lawsymercy.  (You know who you are, you Yarn Fairy, you.)
The Sweater
The yarn
As with all things I jump into, this pattern was unknown territory - knit from the bottom up (first for me), with a shaped form (read: decreasing in pattern - argh).  I sallied forth.  And promptly had to rip it completely back.  Too much sallying, too little focus.  This morning I shunned all social media, made a large cup of strong coffee, and concentrated.  Hi-ho!


If you don't believe that this endless frigid weather can cause one to lose the farm, become that last straw, make grown men weep and babies cry, well then, I am here to tell you that it can make quail go completely postal.   For most of this week, the overnight temperatures have hovered near, or under, zero.  The daytime temperatures haven't been anything to write home about either.  My quail have braved this weather for months - but, apparently, last night was the last straw.  When I uncloaked the hutch this morning, I noticed some bright red dots on the upstairs level.  OMG!  I got the door opened and the largest quail (most likely female) was chasing down her roommates and pecking them bloody!  I removed her and marched her down to the wood line and bid her bon voyage.  The remaining quail were huddled, bloody-headed and unnerved in a far corner.  I hope they can recover, poor things.  I have a feeling the Quail Venture is doomed.  (Really?  And, pray tell, why would you think that????)  Had it not been for my required hour commute this morning, there would have been bourbon in my hot chocolate.


I am going to put my seed-starting set up together this weekend in my hour of unscheduled time.  To hell with the housework.  I need something that evokes sunshine and green things.