Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

image via giphy

It's going to be a very small gathering of girls this holiday, but we will make it as festive as possible.  (My sister has mentioned something about purple yams and edible glitter....I'm not sure if that is a combination or a choice, but what ho!)

My contribution is to ask (demand) that everyone choose a Native name to honor Native Americans on this day.  My own name will be Laughing Owl .  What would be your Native name of choice?


Friday, November 22, 2019

Country Living: Myth & Reality. The Seasons: Spring.



Oh, what glorious clear blue skies!  It is so awesome to stand on the deck with my morning coffee and listen to the sweet notes of birdsong, letting my eyes rest on the delicate green haze of the first leaves and the soft beginnings of grass.  It's just so wonderful, peaceful and bucolic that I think I might invite my poor, city friends for dinner this weekend - I'm sure they would love the fresh air, quiet clucking of the hens and sweet faces of the sheep.


Oh, good gawd.  I just lost my Wellie in the mud, again.  Will it ever stop raining?  Will I ever be able to put my winter coat away?  Doesn't it figure.  I've  invited six for dinner this weekend and they've sprayed the field next door with liquid shite.  I wonder if it's possible to eat while wearing Hazmat suits. For crying out loud, Reggie!  Would you PLEASE give the hens a break, you sex maniac!  Dotty!  Quit attacking the Blondies!  Who's bleeding?!?   I HEAR you, Norman!  The entire county hears you!  I will bring your hay out in a minute.  Just let me pick these black flies out of my coffee. 

*I will be periodically entertaining you with my interpretations of the Myth and Reality of Country Living.  Let the cow pies fall where they may.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The dangers of home canning.

Now that I have  your attention.  I will clarify that title.  The dangers of MY home canning.  Those of  you who have followed me for the last 9 years (!!!) know that I have a tendency to channel a 1930s prairie housewife with nine kids, when it comes to canning.  I have had one go at purging - pretty much chucking out (composting) anything older than 2012.  Yes, I still have canned tomatoes from 2012, but those things are like Styrofoam (not in taste and texture, hopefully), in that they last for years.
A gratuitous pic of Slimmie on his lambskin.
However, I still managed to delude myself that I could tell what the myriad of unlabeled jars contained.  That is why, on the weekend, when I was fixing my version of TexMex, I dumped a pint jar of mincemeat onto my rice and beans, instead of salsa.  I am an adventurous eater, but even I have my limits.  I scraped off as much as possible, separated the bits with rice clinging to them for the chickens who will eat almost everything, and then saved the rest of the mincemeat for breakfast.  On my granola.  It was a new taste sensation.  I will now be going through the unlabeled jars under bright lights before opening another.

Luckily, a couple of other dishes fared better - spinach/chard quiche and polenta in my Instant Pot.  Years ago, when I had just moved to the area and was on the search for friends, I met my Other Els.  She was a weaver of exceptional talent (I have one of her linen transparencies with a sheep in my kitchen window), a lovely woman and friend - and a great cook and gardener.  She gave me a little piece of lovage, which I have managed not to kill, and that now towers above everything in the herb garden.  She also was an excellent quiche-maker.  The family was vegetarian, so she was a wizard with vege.  I had forgotten - until this weekend - that she would spread a layer of Dijon mustard on the bottom of the crust, then put a layer of cheese, then the vege, then the custard.  In one bite, you got a crispy crust (cheese), tang (mustard), chew (vege), and creaminess (custard).  That's just what I did with mine and it is good!  Which is lucky, as I will be eating it all week.
Half the box of the infamous shiitakes
I came across a video on Youtube that showed how to make polenta in an instant pot - what ho!  Just what I needed - hot, creamy comfort food.  I was also dying to try my polenta grits from the Mill at Janie's Farm.  It took me about 25 minutes to produce a vat of creamy polenta with just the slightest bit of chewiness (my preferred texture).  The bonus was that the leftovers will/have become fried mush (a specialty of my dad's when we were growing up).  That is basically sliced, cold polenta, fried in a generously buttered pan until crispy on both sides, then served with maple syrup.

From the barnyard - there was an unexplained dust-up between the Blondie sisters, resulting in the bloodied head of one of the girls.  I have no idea what started it, but I saw blood on the outside of one of the nesting boxes after I had let them out - leaving me searching vainly for the wounded party.  I finally spotted her bloody head and that night, under the light of my trusty headlamp, I cleaned her up as best as I could and dabbed on some antibiotic.  She seemed just fine this morning and there hasn't been more violence.  It's always something.

It was a weekend of bits and bobs - I managed to repair the bird feeder for my railing; I got a pedicure and now sport magenta toes; I changed the filters on my Berkey; I toted trash and recycling to the transfer station; I delivered eggs to my neighbors; I found a home for the cross-country skis; I loaded two 50# bags of chicken feed into their bin (why is it that a 50# bag now feels as if it weighs twice that much?)  I restacked some hay, did a little rearranging in the living room, and managed a meager attempt at housecleaning.  I also spent a lot of time listening to an audio book that I cannot leave to just car time - so far, I have listened to three in the series by Anne Cleeves upon which the series Shetland is based.  Besides terrific writing, character development and plot lines that hold you in their grip right up to the end, it's read by a Scotsman.  Lawsymercy, I am such a sucker for the birrs and twirls of a deep Scotch voice.  If someone told me he was wearing a kilt while reading the script, I don't think I could deal with it.
These nuts were in one of the empty egg
cartons given to me by my neighbors.
There is a very unhappy squirrel somewhere.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

My life as an Aesop's fable and a Winter weather sampler.

Image from Etsy

My grasshopper days are over.  After looking ahead at the Arctic temperatures forecast for our area (and most of the country), I morphed into an ant - all action!  Well, in my mind I was all action.  Truth be told, there was an alarming amount of whining going on.  I managed to get the carport pushed that extra 10 percent and it is organized and ALL of my car fits inside!  I cut back the last peony bush (headlamp) and stored the garden tools in the barn.  I drained the rain barrels and hoses, stacked buckets, emptied the ducks' bathtub and hauled out the bird feeders.  I have to do some reworking on my railing feeder, thanks to the pergola collapsing on it last winter, but otherwise, we are ready.

I made a pot of vegetable soup and a vat of chili last weekend and divided it up for lunches, present and future.  Lovey's fleece jacket has been washed and the big fleece sofa blankets are out.  Fuel oil will be delivered today.  Just as I was about to pat myself smugly on my back for how ready for winter I was, the lamp timer died.  Haha, I was prepared - I had a back up timer!  Which died a day later.  I was working myself into righteous indignation over the poor quality of everything, when I realized they were both about ten years old.  The dogs will have to bask in the glow of my salt lamp until I get another timer this coming weekend.

This morning brought an entire winter weather sampler - within an hour, we had rain, sleet, ice and then, snow.  Even though we had been receiving dire weather warnings for over a week, the local road crews apparently missed the news.  Nary a snow plow was seen.  It was an exciting drive to work. 

Now that I am in full hygge mode, I have made my list of winter gift knitting and am very hopeful that I will get it done.  As long as time stands still or moves backwards.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Goodbye daylight, my old friend.

(You can thank Terry for that heading.  I've been humming Simon & Garfinkel for days.)  My biggest beef (or tofu, for you vegans) is that shorter days happen just when you need them to be twice as long as normal.  My neighbor across the road/up the hill sent me a concerned email saying that he had seen bobbing lights early in the morning and in the evening in my front yard.  Yes, I said.  You saw my headlamp.  The only way I can stay even ten steps behind where I need to be, is by squeezing in to-dos by the light of my headlamp.

Ergo, the dahlia bulbs got yoinked up and placed in a feed sack with peat moss by the dim light of my headlamp.  The peonies got trimmed down and support cages put away by the same headlamp.  The rest of the kale has been harvested (in what weak daylight we've had), along with most of the Swiss chard, although I have left some under cover to see how long it holds up.  My herbs have been harvested, handed out and hung to dry.  My tiny onions have been wept over (kidding - sort of) and the garden has been pretty much put to bed.

In the midst of all this, we got a hellova storm.  It seems, nowadays, that every change in temperature comes with its own near-catastrophic event.  Thursday it rain all day.  Then, around 11P, I awoke to the sound of a train rushing past the house.  I'm used to these high wind gusts, where you clamp your teeth and hope that you don't hear something large go 'thump!' in the night.  But this was a long, seemingly endless gust.  I was sure that nothing would be left when I went out in the morning.  It didn't even blow the lid off the trash can.  Apparently, it was a high wind.  They measured 56 mph wind gusts in my area.  Geezloueeze.

There is still a lot to dead-head out in the beds, but it is now the least of my worries. I have done my food shopping for November, moved tools into the barn for the winter, given Slimmie's room and good cleaning and reorganizing (of which he was none too pleased - cats are such creatures of habit), the winter curtains are up, summer curtains washed and stowed away.  I got a load of firewood in and my sister (bless her heart) came down to help me with the pre-winter coop cleaning.  I am always so amazed at how fast a job goes with more than one - and how much more fun it is.  I made another pot of soup, so now I have at least two weeks' worth of lunches in the freezer.

I also got a text from Marianne saying that they had a lot of shiitake mushrooms and did I want some?  Into the car I hopped and came back with 'some' in a box (I would have inserted a photograph here, but Blogger had other ideas).  Envision a box that held a dozen pint canning jars.  Now envision a mound of shiitake mushrooms the size of cup saucers - about 5 pounds of them!  I got out the dehydrator and got busy.  I now have about 2 gallons of dried shiitake mushrooms that should last a while.  A decade or so.

I find it ironic that, when I finally remember to pull myself together and take pics for you, Blogger decides it is not allowing the insertion - nay, even the ability to connect with them - of any images.  I will add them randomly to a later post.

Yesterday, taking advantage of the extra hour of daylight, I firmly yanked my BGPs up to my armpits (you're welcome for that visual) and tackled the carport.  I hauled out all the remaining flotsam of the ill-fated yard sale, sorted my garden supplies, moved all the garden implements to the barn, hefted, sorted, cussed and finally got it to the point where I can get 95% of my car inside.  I have to spread some straw and align my wheelbarrows and I will be all set.  I took photos of all the yard sale remnants and put them on Facebook for free.  Six of them will be marched out the door tonight.  Progress!  I'm giving the rest a week, then off to Goodwill they go.  Virtuosity is my middle name.