Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nothing to do with the "W" word.

That's right.  Winter doesn't exist - lalalalalalalala - I thought I would post a couple of animal pics instead.  Inside animals, so that I wouldn't have to show snow - lalalalalalalala.

When my cat, Woody, died almost two years ago, Cookie was a lost soul.  He is twice the size of the other cats and three times the size of Tippet, who is a parakeet in a cat suit.  He is a gentle, loving cat and he missed his brother something fierce.  Tippet wouldn't tolerate him, so he turned to Bernie.  Bernie suffers his loving attentions because she, too, is a gentle soul.  Sorry for the blurred image of Cookie, but he moved just as I snapped.

Scrappy is waiting for Blankie, which is presently in the dryer.

This is just a random shot of Slim.  He and Cookie have very symetrical markings - I think it looks like he has mutton chops!  He is poised on a high vantage point - all the better to wreak havoc on all of us.

I have hung my Spring wreath on the front door and am diligently ignoring - lalalalalalalala.  However, I am not ready for flipflops as we are presently getting more - lalalalalalalala.  I should be certifiable by April.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Close, but no lasagna.

I will spare you the gory details of the continuing vendetta in Me vs. Winter.  Suffice to say, I did not make it into the office - again  - leaving me with one less vacation day to enjoy NOT SHOVELING.  Car at garage.  Eight plus inches of snow and more to come.  Did I mention high winds?  Dinner group - cancelled.  That leaves me, six lemon chess tarts, one baguette, a lasagna for 12, and a bottle of red wine.  Alone together.  Unchaperoned.  My, what a dangerous combination...

I am tired of winter - tired of thinking of it, of dealing with it, of whining about it.  I am going to go look for my spring door wreath and put it up, dagnabit.

Off the needles.

And soon to be on my head!  Knitted from one of my Noro skeins from my Webs extravaganza -- there are so many great hat patterns out there, and so few that actually look good on my head.  I had knit up a darling hat designed by Kay's talented daughter (must be in the genes), but it looked hideous on my head.  I am thinking of a hat with earflaps next - but need to get some socks on my needles first.  This will be my first attempt at knitting two at a time, toe down.  I am very hopeful that it will get me through my second sock slump.  I love knitting sock, but not socks.  The thrill of the turned heel, the excitement as I make my way down the foot - then the overwhelming satisfaction as I graft the toe is a one-sock-only occurrence.  I can barely force myself to cast on the second one.  My shoulders slump, I whine, I do anything but knit.  Will two-at-a-time, toe-down work?   The jury is still out on this thorny issue.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's on my plate for Spring.

Besides laying out my raised beds, ordering seeds and planning from which unsuspecting friends I will wheedle plants, I have placed my Spring poultry order and am putting together my bee order.  From the looks of it, it will be a busy season.  This winter was pretty hard on the homestead and, besides the usual clean-up, I will have to take down what little remains of the greenhouse structure off the back of the house.  And clean up a lot of broken glass.  I also will have to finish the lattice house so the rabbits will enjoy a more secure three-season abode.  Hey, let's make a list!

* Take down greenhouse structure (rebuild same)
* Finish roof on lattice house
* Replace/repair roof of shed
* Sell red angora rabbits
* Move other rabbits to lattice house
* Set up big brooder by week of 4/18
* Build tractor for meat chicks/or find other solutions ;o)
* Check hive for signs of life/set up second hive/repopulate both if necessary
* Clean out hoop houses
* Clean/fill/plant raised beds
* Turn over compost piles (all 50 of them)
* Remodel small coop so it works better
* Cull chickens
* Finish bathroom remodel
* Etc.

I've decided to make my list in parts so I don't give up all hope.  I'll be selling two of my four rabbits, so that will make my life a bit easier.  Blue has to be groomed, but I can handle one.  Three?  Nope.  I am hoping to breed Chamomile this summer, if I get caught up.  I'm raising a few chickens for my sister in New Hampshire, I'll keep some, although I plan on downsizing my flock, and the rest I will sell.  I am planning on raising Red Rangers for meat, after the fiasco of last year's attempt.  No more feed store chicks!  This year I will be planting potatoes and onions in my quest to be more self-sufficient.  I'll plant a couple heirloom good eating tomatoes and a cherry tomato.  There is a farm north of me (Moses Farm, as in Grandma Moses) that grows acres of tomatoes and peppers that you can pick yourself.  Their Romas are to die for and it's only $18/bushel.  That's what gets me through the year.  I use a lot of canned tomatoes.  I am still experimenting with what grows well, what stores well, what makes sense.  Since this is only my second year of full-fledged gardening, I have a lot to learn.  I am lucky that I have skilled friends. 

Jasmine is due to freshen next month, so I will be up to my elbows in milk every weekend (poor me...snort).  I have had spotty success with cheesemaking, but I am determined to get it right.  Luckily for everyone, Marianne will have a whole passel of piglets to take advantage of my mistakes - and the whey when I have success.  It's going to be a very full year!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's Cooking.

I have been sticking to my once-a-month food shopping; I shop the Saturday following the 15th of the month.  It's part of the No Buy February that I've joined in on and have expanded to -- ?  It hasn't been difficult because I started with a very full freezer and shelves of home-canned foods.  I tend to do most of my cooking for the week on the weekend.  I also pack my lunch into work every day, so that leads to lots of soup and other easy comfort foods that I can heat up in the micro.  I went a little overboard this past weekend - brownies for the farm crew, homemade squash/sage raviolis, lemon glazed pound cake for my neighbor's 80th birthday, and my current all-week lunch, vegetarian chili (inspired by Melanie's contribution to my well-being last Thursday).  This used the following home supplies (I never use a recipe, so don't ask!):  a quart and a pint of pureed tomatoes; red kidney beans; two small onions - a gift from a neighbor's garden; three large cloves of my own garlic; olive oil from a local VT family (they own an olive grove in Greece and press the oil and bring it back); spices that are definitely NOT local; two packages of 5 grain tempeh from my freezer - ordered from a local co-op.  I also sacrificed a nice chunk of dark chocolate, because I like that extra little flavor it gives chili.  I made enough to keep me in lunches all week! 

This Friday, it is my turn to host a little dinner group (there are three of us - les filles d'une plume) and we try to get together once a month.  On the menu:  lasagna (I have everything but the cheese, which I will make), a baguette, my own butter, salad greens from my monthly shopping, and individual lemon (my Meyers) chess tarts.  And martinis.  And gossip.  All this talk about food is making me ravenous!  Time for my chili with pound cake for dessert.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Around the homestead.

Busy week and busy weekend.  I (not necessarily in this order) found out that I have to replace the exhaust system on the Focus, fed my bees although I don't think they made it through the winter, baked bread, baked brownies, made chili, made pasta, washed eggs, sold some, went to the farmers' market in Bennington, went to my neighbor's surprise 80th birthday (you would think there was a visiting dignitary - the firehouse was full!), went to a Renaissance themed gala for a local art gallery with a friend (replete with roast pig paraded through on a plank), got my hair cut, washed all my floors, vacuumed, started some Barnie eggs in the little incubator, did my laundry, tried to save a chicken and failed (prolapse), cleaned out the rabbit cages, restacked my hay, finished knitting a hat - except for the adornment, walked the dogs a lot, shoveled.

Yes, bloody winter just won't go away!  We had gale force winds all day on Saturday, then less wind and sun but cold yesterday.  Then snow today.  At least the wind is not quite a strong.  It's only about 20 degrees and straining for that.  I keep repeating, "It's almost March" as if that will make spring come faster.  Ha.  But, as much as I complain about winter, I couldn't see myself living somewhere without all four seasons.  Each one brings its own beauty and makes me glad to be alive.  And I'll tell you, by spring I will be happy that I lived through this winter!

I was reading one of my favorite blogs, and found myself nodding away.  Prices of everything are, indeed, going up steadily.  I am doing fairly well with my no spend February (which I am trying to stretch into a year) - except, of course, for the Webs affair and my old car - and so far have spent $25 on groceries between 1/15 and 2/15.  This I can do because I have a full freezer and canned my little heart out.  I am so glad I did.  This just underlines how important it is to garden and preserve what you grow.  Of course, I am lucky in that I have a cow for milk - even though she's not in milk yet, my neighbor is "fronting" my milk - and I have chickens for eggs.  I need to count every penny because gas prices are rocketing up, as is fuel oil and feed.  It is a tough time for farmers, people living off pensions, pretty much everyone.  I am lucky I have a job and don't mind that raises haven't been forthcoming for the past few years.  I am grateful for the income.  I think the stress of the continuing economic fallout is making me almost frantic for spring, as I watch my falling fuel gauge and layer the sweaters.  Spring will come eventually, and with it comes the lovely, soft blanket of memory loss.  Winter?  It wasn't so bad...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why I may never visit Webs again.

Kay and I set off last Saturday morning (has it really been over a week ago??) for Whately, MA, where we met our friend, Linda (and saw her lovely, beautifully decorated house - how does she do it, working full time with two dogs and a cat?  It's not fair to the rest of us), then had a wonderful lunch at Sylvester's in Northampton.  Then...Webs.

I did all the right things - made a list, had a budget, had a few projects in mind.  I walked through the door.  List?  Budget?  Wazzat?  If any reasonable portion of my brain had been functioning, I would have chosen the little shopping basket instead of the full-sized grocery cart.  My rationalization was that I needed someplace to put my coat and purse while I looked around.  Of course, Webs is crafty - in all definitions of the word.  Their carts were in the warehouse.  Once I walked through that door, all was lost.  In my own defense, I did pick up and put down at least as much as I picked up and put in my cart.  That should have given me cause to pause.   But, but, NORO was everywhere and on sale!!!

I didn't take pictures because my eyes were rolling back in my head and sparks were flying from my fingertips.  And I forgot my camera.  Seriously, Webs is a mecca for all things spinning, weaving and knitting.  It is a glorious riot of colors and textures.  You can find almost anything you desire there, and yarn you didn't even know you desired.  It was a great trip.  I will never go again.  For at least a month.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Time on my hands?

Having some down time, I am taking up Chicken Mama's challenge.


1. last beverage: lemongrass ginger tea
2. last phone call: my neighbor
3. last text message: don't text
4. last song you listened to: The Flower Duet from Lakme
5. last time you cried: last Tuesday out of sheer frustration


6. dated someone twice: Yes
7. been cheated on: Yes
8. kissed someone & regretted it: Yes, more often than not.
9. lost someone special: Yes
10. been depressed: Yes
11. been drunk and threw up: I take the Fifth


12. Most shades of green
13. Brown
14. Orange.  Really.


15. Made a new friend? Yes
16. Fallen out of love? Nope - wasn't there to start with.
17. Laughed until you cried? Yes
18. Met someone who changed you? No
19. Found out who your true friends were? Yes - the same ones I have had for years -- sweeties
20. Found out someone was talking about you? Not definitely, but I am sure they do.
21. Kissed anyone on your FB friend's list? No


22. How many people on your FB friends list do you know in real life? All two of them.
24. Do you have any pets: Whoa, Nelly!  Yes ma'am!
26. What did you do for your last birthday: Spent it with my family.
27. What time did you wake up today: Woke up at 4 a.m. and got up at 4:15 a.m.
28. What were you doing at midnight last night: Listening to the wind and worrying
29. Name something you CANNOT wait for:  Peace
30. Last time you saw your mother: Sunday - I usually see her every weekend.
31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life?:  Only one thing?  Better time/money management.  Is that cheating?
32. What are you listening to right now: The back-up sirens of some piece of heavy equipment in the street outside our office building.
33. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom: Yes
34. What's getting on your nerves right now: The assinine behaviour of my coworker.
35. Most visited webpage:
36.Nicknames: Sweeze, Sweezie, Sweezaroni, Chickadee
38. Was the question that was last placed here awkward: No
39. Zodiac Sign: Capricorn
40. He or She?: She
41. Elementary? Knollwood - it's getting vague
42. Middle School? Yes, but the grimness of the experience has wiped it clean from memory.
43. High School? Brookside - see above.
44. Hair Color? Light brown/grey.
45. Long or short? Shortish.
46. Height? 5' 4" and shrinking.  6 feet in my mind.
47. Do you have a crush on someone? Not presently, thank goodness.
48: What do you like about yourself? Plenty
49. Piercings: Ears
50. Tattoos: Nope
51. Righty or lefty? Right, but I eat with my left hand.
52. First surgery: Tonsils
53. First piercing: Ears
54. First best friend: Anne, but she wasn't really a friend after all.
55. First sport you joined: Softball, then volleyball.  I'm very competitive.


59. Eating: Organic grapefruit
60. Drinking: See #1
61. I'm about to: get back to work ;o)
62. Listening to: the faint drone of a conference call.
63. Waiting on: 5:30p
64. Want kids? Did, but I didn't have any. 
65. Get Married? Again? It might take an act of god.
66. Career? legal research, shepherd, chicken wrangler


67. Lips or eyes? Eyes
68. Hugs or kisses? BOTH
69. Shorter or taller? Taller (we are talking romantic partners here, are we not?)
70. Older or Younger? Older 
71. Romantic or spontaneous? Both
72. Nice stomach or nice arms? Arms - all the better to get all wrapped up in.
73. Sensitive or loud? Sensitive.
74. Hook-up or relationship? Relationship - no hook-ups, thanks.
75. Trouble maker or hesitant? Neither.  I'm looking for the strong, confident, sensitive, funny, reliable type.


76. Kissed a stranger? Yes, it makes me want to write a book about it.
77. Drank hard liquor? Hahahaha!
78. Lost glasses/contacts? I usually just run them over with my car.
79. Kissed a wall?? Had a couple of dates where it felt like that.
80. Broken someone's heart? Yes, in my callous youth.
81. Had your own heartbroken? Yes indeed.
83. Turned someone down? As gently as possible.
84. Cried when someone died? Who writes this stuff?
85. Fallen for a friend? No.  It crossed our minds, then we laughed ourselves silly and stayed friends until he died.


86. Yourself? Absolutely.
87. Miracles?  No.
88. Love at first sight? More like lust at first sight.
89. Heaven? No.
90. Santa Claus? No.
91. Kiss on the first date? Only with major bursts of chemistry.
92. Angels? I know quite a few


93. Had more than one bf/gf? At the same time?  Yes.
94. One person you want to be with right now? No.
95. Did you sing today? Yes I did.
96. Ever cheated on somebody? Yes.
97. If you could go back in time, how far would you go, and why? I'd go back to age 30 knowing what I know now and completely change my path.
98. If you could pick a day from last year and relive it, what would it be? I'd rather forget 2010.
99. Are you afraid of falling in love? Not afraid - more wary.
100. Posting this as 100 truths? Yeppers.
101.  If you could choose ANY amount of money (within "reason") needed to change your daily life (pay your bills and give you enough to live on for a while), how much would that be?  I think that $500,000 would hold me for quite a while - if I paid off all my debt and invested well. 
Now, add a question that YOU'd like to ask!

102.  Do you believe you can win the lottery?  Yes I do.  All I have to do it!

A little hot sauce with that 2x4?

The Damage.
The Solution?
I noticed a pile of wood chips the last time I went out to the hayport - then discovered rabbit damage.  It seems they have found the nice, dry, food-laden space to be a haven during this endless, bitter winter.  While I know I cannot keep the hayport varmint-free, I am not fond of vandalism.  Needing a quick fix, I decided to see whether they had an aversion to Latin cuisine and slathered hot sauce on all the affected wood surfaces.  This morning I found evidence that a little bit more had been gnawed, but it seemed to have stopped suddenly - Ai Carumba!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Story for Valentine's Day

Following the theme put forward by two of my favorite bloggers, here's the short but snazzy tale of how my parents met.  They both grew up in Akron, Ohio, although in different neighborhoods.  They both went through the Depression and both had two siblings.  Then the War came and they both enlisted in the Navy.  This was quite a stretch for my mother, who has always suffered mightily from sea sickness.  However, she only had to suffer from San Diego to Hawaii, where she spent the war.  I believe she flew back...

The War ends and, like most of their friends, they head to college, thanks to Uncle Sam.  My dad had put in a year before the War, so he was back to finish his engineering degree.  One day, in line at the cafeteria, my dad saw my mom.  She was quite the looker.  He asked all his fraternity brothers and everyone else he could get his hands on who she was.  They met at a mixer and he asked her out.  I should interject here that my dad had a reputation as something of a "wolf".  But he was persistent and she decided to take a chance and go out with him.  He was on his best behaviour and managed to completly capitvate my grandmother - not an easy accomplishment.  As he says, once he met my mom, he wasn't about to lose her.  They've been married going on 62 years.

Friday, February 11, 2011


How wonderful to spend a couple of hours talking about something that has nothing to do with: snow, cold, winter, shoveling, freezing, thermal coveralls.  Tonight was the second class of the Bee Course, put on - for FREE - by a beekeeping club in Bennington, VT.  The class is taught by two men who have a lot of beekeeping experience between them - almost 60 years.  They are very nice, generous guys who are sharing everything they have learned through trial and error, so that we won't have to.  Besides learning a lot of new things, I also am learning about everything I did wrong.  Right now my bees are well-insulated - their hive is buried in show up to about 8 inches from the top - plenty of room for air to circulate, but I sure hope we don't get much more snow.  M, M, L and I are going and will be forming a sort of chain of beekeepers - once the days warm up and bee runways are clear, we will start at M's and work our way down to L's bees, opening, switching hive boxes, and seeing what's been happening all winter.  I'll be adding a hive this spring, so now to more fun catalog surfing - woodenware!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Terse Tuesdays.

'Nuff said.

Brace yourself!

I know you'll be completely taken aback when I say that I woke up to four inches of snow and more falling.  I was (not).  As it is also 32 degrees, it is wet, heavy snow.  Looks like there's more shoveling in my very near future, as the rest of the next few days consist of rapidly dropping temperatures, wind and more snow.

Also greeting me this morning were the scattered remains of what I believe to be three mice.  I am pretty sure about two of them - it was that bad.  Gak.  Of course, the cats are doing their job, but what I had in mind was a quick nip to dispatch them, then leave them where they lie.  It takes a strong constitution to pick up the remains across the battlefield which is my living room and hallway.  Especially at 5 in the morning.

On a positive note (there is always a positive note), the days are getting longer, I've got a fridge full of fresh eggs, and it's Tuesday.  It's one day closer to Saturday, when I make my first trip to Webs - the mecca of knitters.  I have a short and specific list, and a limited amount of funds.  I may have to velcro my arms to my sides, nonetheless.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A New Winter Olympics Sport and the Recipe

I'm just in from the trials of a new Winter Olympics Sport - Farm Skating!  Not for the faint of heart, I'll tell you.  I was in, chop-chop, to put on my Yak Traks.  On a brighter note, Spring must be coming early, as I observed unmistakable 'farm activity' between the ducks...

A Google search did not produce the source of this recipe, so if it's yours - speak up!!  An interesting, more savory biscuit, but the farm crew (who approach my experiments with kind trepidation) give these the gooo-oo-ood rating.

Pumpkin Biscuits (makes about a dozen and a half)

4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt (probably could use less, depending on your love of salt)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup butter (two sticks) chilled
1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk together dry ingredients.  Cut butter into small pieces and cut into flour mixture with pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Set aside.

Combine pumpkin and honey in a small bowl.  Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.  Add buttermilk and stir just until mixture clings together and is combined.

Lightly coat a baking sheet with vegetable oil and set aside.  Turn biscuit dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 times.  This is sticky dough, so flour your hands!  Roll out to 3/4" thickness and cut biscuits, pressing scrapes gently together, repeating until all dough is used.  Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet and bake until golden - 25-30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

If you make them - let me know how you like them!

Climate Change

Pumpkin biscuits - Farm Crew Seal of Approval!
That would aptly describe yesterday's wild mood swings!  The day started out at 12 degrees which seemed just dandy as it was a two-digit temperature on the plus side.  The sun rose and stayed out!  Then....the clouds moved in, the temperature rose, the rain/sleet started.  At 8:30 last night, there was a downpour of rain.  With thunder and lightning.  This sent poor, confused Bernie in search of a hiding place.  I decided to ignore February and go to bed, emerging in April.  Instead, I was rudely awakened by high winds at 2 am.  At 4:30, my typical rising time, it was 22 degrees and nothing else seems to be happening.  I will have to say, I didn't lie in bed and worry about things blowing away - with two feet of snow, now capped with two inches of ice, nothing is moving.  I knew that everyone had shelter, the electricity was still on, so I was able to sneak in those extra two hours of sleep.

My day didn't go as planned yesterday, but I got things done; the 18 inches of snow is off my roof, and I deconstructed the soup chicken that I had been stewing for three days - four quarts of incredibly rich broth and a nice amount of chicken for other uses.  I started on the closet, and finished the baby sweater for Els' grandson.  Now to find some cute buttons, and my part of the transparency trade is finally finished!  I traced the source of the chicken blood to find that e-Claire's mother had torn out a nail (ouch!).  She has had her share of trouble lately, so I swabbed the toe with disinfectant - as if that matters, really - and it will have to heal on its own.

Today is more cleaning, I tackled some pumpkin biscuits this morning for the barn crew - complete with honey and butter!  (Note to Melanie and Julie:  these actually contain pumpkin!).  On the menu:  my soup of the week (Manhattan Clam Chowder), a pork tenderloin in the slow cooker, and bracing myself for the great rabbit clean out!  I plan to have a lot checked off my list by the end of this day.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Found them! Well, some of them.

That was weird.  I swear they were not on the camera yesterday.  And a few are still not there.  It seems so anticlimatic at this point, but I did find the pic with my lone bunny tracks.  Where the others went remains a mystery.  I have a young rabbit that frequents my deck at night.  He/she scours the surfaces for leftover black oil sunflower seeds.  I can always tell he/she is there by the fact that both of the Boyz are rigid with excitement, noses glued to the glass door.  So far, thank goodness, neither dog has noticed our nightly visitor.

My re-jerry-rigged system has worked!  I am happy to have the water thawed and one less thing to do mornings and nights.  I did find something disturbing last night - lest you think that everything is rosy again in my life - there was blood on some of the eggs in the nesting boxes, and I noticed a small about of blood on the snow in front of the coop.  All chicken bottoms will be checked this morning.

One of the pictures I took that reappeared is of the wonderful transparency that Els made for me.  It hangs in my kitchen window - and I just love it!  I have visions of her amazing work in ALL my windows.  However, my bank balance has other ideas.  This may turn out to be a whole weekend to myself; that is a rare thing indeed.  I may be able to tackle some things on the fun list!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Still lookin'.

I am still lookin' for those pictures - my myriad of rabbit tracks are now interspersed with tiny Chickadee tracks, grey squirrel tracks (don't mention that last one to Scrappy - he HATES squirrels) and dog tracks.  I was looking for any sign of predator tracks that would explain the rabbit hootenanny of yesterday morning, but not a one did I see.  While it would be fun to put a video camera out there to capture it all, sometimes it's better to just capture it with your imagination!  I hear faint banjo and fiddle music, little gingham dresses and blue jeans....

It took me most of my precious morning hours to re-rig my jerry-rigged electrical system (using the term very loosely) to the chickens.  While I am not quite sure, I believe I've fixed it.  I'll find out tonight when I check their waterer.  I have decided that, if it's not fixed, I will give up and just haul their waterer in every night and back out every morning.  It is not worth the aggravation of trying to fix something I just don't "get".  That being, anything electrical.  My skills are limited to putting cords on lamps and very basic stuff.

I think what we are in need of here - the "we" being single, female farmers - is a how-to book that includes the basics of electrical work and plumbing.  I did not learn these things at my daddy's knee.  My daddy kept waiting for boys to be born with whom to share his fix-it wisdom.  After three girls, they gave up trying, but those basic handyman skills were never imparted.  I've just been flailing along all these - um - so many years.  If I ever share my homestead with a mister, it will have to be an awfully handy mister.  And an awfully patient mister.  The list goes on.

The sun is out today, which is very lovely, and the temperature has actually made it to double digits on the plus side!  Freakin miracle!!!  I cannot tell you all how much I appreciate all the kind words and atta-girls.  It's made all the difference.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Looks like the local rabbit population (of which there are hundreds) was whooping it up last night.  There were rabbit tracks all over the deck, stairs, back yard, side yard, in the paths and over the snow!  I am hoping that the good fortune that comes with this particular Chinese New Year is as abundant as my rabbit population.  With all of the destruction caused by the winter thus far, I will need it!  (I had some pictures of the rabbit footprints and they have magically disappeared from my camera!)

So far, the YOTR has not shone kindly on me.  Besides the disappearing pix, the power is down to the chicken coop with no way for me to check the length of cord which is buried under three feet of ice and snow.  That means either frozen chicken water to add to my daily to-do list, which is now quite burdensome, or an outlay of moola for another round of cord.  Sigh.  I'm afraid it's going to be the outlay, as I don't think I can add anything more to my mornings.  Year of the Rabbit, my Asp.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And now for something completely different...

Sleet!  I have filled up all the water jugs in anticipation of a power outage.  Hoping, of course, that my diligence in emergency preparedness will thwart an emergency.  We are supposed to get 2-3 inches of snow an hour, up to 18 inches, depending on which neighbor I have talked to.
       This winter has made aware of how what happens globally affects me here, on my little homestead.  My house is what I refer to as a "tweenie" - that first modular that wasn't a double-wide, but wasn't the stick-built modulars you can buy today.  Because of that, I am not "allowed" to have a wood burning stove.  Allowed by the insurance companies, that is.  If I put in a wood burning stove, I lose my homeowners insurance.  I won't even get into how I feel about that.  So, I do have a fireplace (go figure) but my main heat source is fuel oil.  As I read the news on the turmoil in Egypt, I can hear the 'cha-ching' of the fuel oil prices going up.  Jordan dismissing it's cabinet?  CHA-CHING.  And I will tell you that I don't like the helpless frustration I feel when the price of crude oil tops a hundred dollars a barrel.  While I don't have plans to go off grid with this house, my next house will be off grid (inspired by Jane at Hard Work Homestead).  The importance of being self-sufficient becomes more and more urgent as the more world erupts in chaos.  Now, I am not an alarmist - I'm a pragmatist.  I think that one of the things I like most about the blogosphere is that it gives me the comfort of knowing that there are so many level-headed, clear-thinkers out there. 
       I did have the presence of forethought to dig out the wood pile on my deck, so I have easy access to about two days-worth of firewood before I'd have to tunnel my way to the main pile.  I have fingers and toes crossed and lots of indoor projects at the ready!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I am going to be so STRONG!

I dutifully shoveled all the paths again, cleared a foot of snow off my hoop houses, slogged out in hip-deep snow to rescue my little apple tree, and dug a path to my mailbox.  Then my farmer/neighbor came by to plow me out and told me that "they" are forecasting up to 18 more inches of snow by tomorrow night.  Wow.  I am going to be so very strong by the end of this winter - should I live through it, that is. 

To help perk myself up, I made my own version of custard - it's actually like a souffle/custard-y thing.  But it is very comforting!  And a lot of the comfort comes from the fact that I bake them in custard cups that my mother used to make her custard when we were feeling poorly.  Of course, you had to really be feeling poorly - there was no fooling my mother.  You had exactly one day to languish in your illness, then up on your feet you went. 

I float little pats of butter on top.  Just because I can.

Out of the oven.  Notice one's missing?  I am feeling very comforted.

Extremely adapted from Veggie Venture's Whole Pumpkin Baked with Custard (which I would high recommend trying if you want to impress your dinner guests):

Pumpkin Spiced Custard

4 eggs (original called for 3, but I'm up to my elbows in eggs at the moment)
1 1/2 C. cream/milk
1 Tablespoon molasses
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
small pat of butter, cut into 4 pieces (optional)

Whisk eggs thoroughly.  Whisk in cream/milk, molasses, brown sugar and spices.  Pour into custard cups and top with little pat of butter, if using.  Put in baking dish and fill halfway up sides of cups with boiling water.  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until top is pouffy and set.  Using the extra egg tends to make it really pouf up.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

Back deck - the sheep are supposedly behind that big fir tree.

View out of my office window.
(Geez, I just got a cold chill up my spine, remembering Gomer Pyle saying that...) Another winter storm!  Actually, this time TWO winter storms approacheth, with our area squeezed in the middle.  I can tell you, I don't like to be squeezed in the middle - by snow storms or anything else.  We have about 4 inches so far, with a steady snowfall.  This snow is very fine; it reminds me of powdered sugar.  Very cold, heavy powdered sugar.  Since I have heard predictions that range from a few inches to a few feet, to ice, sleet, locusts, and other pestilence, I am taking a wait-and-see attitude vis a vis shoveling.  As long as we keep our power, we will be able to hunker down and ride it out.  But I do have to say, I am waaaay tired of this winter.  So are the chickens, ducks, rabbits, sheep, llama, dogs, and cats.  And the mice.  And the sparrows.  But, as M said, the seed potatoes are ordered, our bee classes start Thursday, so it's not all negative.  Just mostly.  These are the days when all sense leaves you, and you are left, unchaperoned, with the Meyers Poultry Catalog.  I need my mother!!!