Monday, January 31, 2011

The birds are coming back


It's been silent for far too long.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Finally had a day today, between snowstorms and snow days and half days and work, where I could run the couple of errands I had to do.  The big one was Home Depot.  I was going to pick up some 2x3s, chicken wire, and a couple of concrete blocks.  The concrete blocks are for the pond--I have one bank that keeps eroding, and I am trying to keep it shored up, and the wood and wire are for the new goose house.  Though it is early, it's going to take me a while to build, and the geese will need some time to get used to their new home before they are evicted from it by the ducks.

Anyway, while in Home Depot, I had slugged through the snow to get the concrete and wire, and was in the lumber aisle putting 2x3s in the cart.  I had already put in the other pieces of wood, and with the 12 2x3s I was adding, it was getting to be quite a pile.  As I'm pulling the wood, I hear "Wow".

I turn around.  There is a gentlemen standing there, looking at my cart.  I know I looked puzzled, so he said "Wow" again and then "I'm impressed", and pointed to the pile on the cart.

I got the gist, so I said, "I'll be impressed when it's built."

"That'll be something too, but it's a surprise to see you in this aisle," he said, "Well, not you, but I mean..."

"A woman?" I offered.

"Yeah, uh...well, it's not that usual to the well, know"

By this time, I was laughing, because, yeah, I know.  I was the only well, know, in the aisle.  I was surrounded by burly contractor guys, because it's a weekday, and it's Home Depot. 

"What're you building?" he asked.

"Livestock housing" I said.

"Well good luck," he said, "more power to ya."

As I walked away, I laughed some more.  Being brought up by a woman who pretty much lived in the lumber aisles at one store or another, it's not a  big deal to me.  But yeah, I know what he meant.

After loading the lumber in the car, I took my snowy, muddy boots and my dirty jeans and sat on down.  I turned the key

---and drove straight to Jo Ann's to buy some fabric.

A study in contrasts, I am.

PS---Happy Birthday to my one and only!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Day 6 of the dig.


A turkey stock day

Another unbelievably cold and snowy day, so there wasn't much I could do.  It's very hard to get motivated when it's like this outside.  The sun was shining, but it was so cold and there was so much snow, it was hard to see it that way.

Staying inside, I tried to find things to do.  I did a little crochet, I thawed a loaf of bread, and tackled the turkey we had last Sunday.  It was our freebie from the market--the one from Thanksgiving.  I was waiting for a special occasion to eat it, being as though it was a big turkey, and, I don't know, but doesn't it always seem like a whole turkey needs to be part of a big celebration or something?  Having it for just 4 people seemed silly.  But  last Sunday we needed that turkey.  This winter is LONG, and the kids are going insane from being inside, and so our we.  We just needed a pick me up.  So we had a turkey.  It was a good meal, nothing fancy, and left everyone with a good feeling inside.

Afterwards I had a 20 lb carcass to deal with.  We stripped all the meat off the bones Sunday, and I froze all the extra stuff--bones we won't eat, pieces that were too fatty, weird stuff I can't identify, that kind of thing.  Today I figured I had nothing else to do, so I'd make stock.  It's nice to do--throw everything in a pot, bury it in water, and walk away.  All day long I let it simmer.  When it was done, I had 2 pots full of stock and a soggy mess of everything else. 

When I last made chicken stock, I wanted to put it in something.  There is just no way to use a large quantity of stock so quickly that it doesn't go bad, and I didn't know what to keep it in.  I decided on a take-out like tray from the dollar store.  At 2 for $1.00, they fit into my budget, and they have a tinfoil bottom and a clear plastic top that I can write on.  I can fill them with a measured quantity, mark it, and put them in the chest freezer---VERY carefully.  Then I can pull them out and thaw them when needed.  Win win. 

I pulled out the pans I had left, and the ones I have already used and washed (reusable is good!), and filled them up.  They hold about 2 cups each.  Then the pioneer in me kicked in, and I figured I could use the freezer, but....

...why not let Mother Nature do it for me? 

So that's what I did.  I ran out of trays, so I will get some more tomorrow, and the soggy mess?  Well, I have a troop of little "recyclers" living just outside.  The chickens were grateful for the warm dinner.  They ate the whole deal, and hopefully will use it to light their little internal furnaces this cold night.  And of course, they'll turn it into eggs for us. Win win again.

Overall, it was a good day.  I made cookies as well, just because I really needed a cookie today.  Ever have a day like that?  I just really needed one, so I made brown sugar cookies, which I haven't made in years.  They are as good as I remember.  Lovely!  The cookies were good, the stock was good, the day was good.  Here's to another good day tomorrow!

Trying to

upload day 6 of "the dig".  You Tube is giving me a heck of an attitude about it, though.  Possibly it's tired of hearing me prattle on about a hole in the ground?

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Nice Winter Craft

Birdhouses.  I love putting them up and seeing who lives in them in the spring.  Probably mostly Sparrows, but that's ok.  I like the singing. 

The kids and I painted these up on Saturday, when it was too cold to go anywhere.  I was hoping it would take a good part of the day--it took an hour.  Then they were bored again.  Oh well.  At least they came out nicely!!


Little boy's

Mine again.  Mostly decorative.

Little girl's

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Final Tally

Mom's White Bread: 2 loaves
Cinnamon Swirl Bread: 3 loaves
Buttermilk White:  2 loaves
Molasses Wheat:  2 loaves
Potato Bread:  2 loaves
Cheddar Bread:  2 loaves

13 in total. 

Then I ran out of yeast.

Then I ran out of flour.

So I stopped.

Not a bad haul, overall.  I sat down with numbers to see if this little adventure was more expensive or cheaper than buying loaves of bread, and the loaves came out to about $1.25-$1.50 on average.  Bread in the supermarket is about $2.50-$3.00, depending, so it was a good move overall.  And obviously, it tastes a whole lot better.  Yeay!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Loafing Around

If there were a T-Shirt that said "Body by  Bread" on it, I would have to buy it.  After all, that is the food I have to thank for my (ahem) curvy curves.  Not chocolate, not cookies, not even pie (and that's a tough one to beat), but bread.  I think if I sat down to it, I could down half a loaf in one sitting.  Probably not something I should admit in public, but I'm a brave sort of girl.

Hi, my name is Jocelyn, and I am addicted to bread
With that off my chest, I should say that with this particular affliction comes the side effect of Supermarketblahitis.  That is, that no supermarket-found bread will ever appease the craving.  You know what I'm talking about.  Sometimes you just want a piece of nice, chewy, crusty bread, and that's all that will do it for you.  I don't believe that anyone ever craves a nice, fluffy piece of Wonder.  Do they?  No.  Absolutely not.

So what is one to do?  You can go to the supermarket any time and look at the breads there.  There are multi-grain, white, whole wheat, and rye.  Different names, mostly different ingredients.  What's the same?  The preservatives for one, high fructose corn syrup for another, and the fact that you can SQUISH them. You bite in, and it's like moisty-dry fluff.  Unless you come across a random "grain" they threw in, or a "nut", you almost don't need to chew.   And they pretty much all taste the same, don't they?  They do.

Ingredients are all assembled
This has been a bit of a thorn in my side for a while (can you tell?), so I decided to start to make my own bread.  There's more variety, I can control what goes in it, and it actually has a texture.  And flavor!  What a novelty.  I started out with the best of intentions on this, but it became pretty clear pretty quickly that I am not the kind of girl who's going to get up early in the morning and pop together a loaf of bread.  I'm not even the kind of girl who's going to pop together a loaf of bread in the afternoon, for cripes sake.  So that plan had some holes in it.  However, I do know that I am the type of girl who likes to squirrel food, and I am the type of girl who likes a project, and I can handle defrosting, so I devised a plan.

Coffee: very necessary for doing stuff

I discovered that if I make a loaf of bread and get it through to the first rising, I can freeze it and keep it frozen until needed.  Then I would complete the thaw and the second rising, then bake it, and it would come out just like a newly-made loaf.  This actually works.  So that's what I am doing.  For the last few days, really, because it looks like this outside:

And I can't dig right now (dammit), I am making lots of loaves of bread to freeze.  Wednesday, I made 3 loaves of Cinnamon Swirl and 2 loaves of Mom's White Bread--5 loaves in all.  We've already eaten one entire loaf of Cinnamon Swirl and half a loaf of the white--oops.  Yesterday I made 2 loaves of Buttermilk White and 2 loaves of Molasses Wheat. Today I will make more, probably more white and some more wheat.  I prefer the wheat, but I do have to cater to my audience.  And since they are mostly under 12, I have to abide by the "lighter the color, the better the bread" rule  for now. 
Just kneaded Buttermilk white.  It was like a cloud after the first rise.  Beautiful!
I am going to sneak in a loaf of orange wheat and a loaf of lemon bread, too, just because right now those things are fairly plentiful at the grocery store.  Plus, they're delicious!
Just kneaded Molasses Wheat.  Also beautiful after the first rise.
Oh yeah, and cheddar cheese bread too.  Have you ever had it?  Oh, you really should!

The part I don't like about baking:  the mess at the end
So I'd better get cooking today.  I've got miles of loaves to go before I sleep.  (ha ha) Stay tuned for the final tally!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just Awesome

I was toodling around on the web, looking for something totally not related to this, and found an Excel program that helps you know when to start your seeds.  It is very cool.

You will need to know what your frost free date for your area is, but there's a link right on the chart to help you do that. 

What a cool tool!  No more guessing!  And it shows I still have time to order those seeds I've been procrastinating about.  Better get on it!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fifth Day of the Dig

And the last for a little while.  The boots I was using are too short for the depth of the pond in many areas.  I went in today and promptly filled them up with very cold water.  Until my brand new hip-waders come in (racy, huh?--how many girls do you know own hip waders??), I am out of the digging business.


Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm So Excited, and I Just Can't Hide It

Just got a call about the Pilgrim Geese I asked to be put on the waiting list for in June of last year.  They are going to be available in March!  I've reserved the hatching date of March 28th!!  Don't ask me how they know now that geese will be born then, I have no idea.  It doesn't take 2 months to incubate a goose egg.  But, who cares??  Yeay!!!!!
Just in case you are wondering what they look like (and how could you not??), you can follow this link to Feathersite, which is where I go for some poultry and waterfowl ogling.
Pilgrim geese are another critically endangered breed, like Ferdi and Ginger.  I will be proud to care for the 2 pair we get.
This winter and Spring our little farm will be teeming with life!!!  In February, we get 6 ducks, and Lorelei tries her hand at raising them.  In March, we get our geese, and in April, we get chicks!!!  We will be hopping!!!
Geeze, I better get to building....

Snowblowers were not built for girls

Dear Snowblower designers,

I was outside doing the snowblower two-step (one, two, spin the chute, pull the blower out of the rut), trying my damndest to do a job that the Master Snowblower would be proud of.  They are big shoes to fill.  When you live with someone that precise, there is just no way to do as good a job.  I was only hoping to do a well enough that would prevent said Master to come home and re-do the whole thing in the dark.  

Maybe I succeeded.  My bet's on him coming home and doing it again in the dark anyway, just because he likes to.

Anywho, as I worked, I remembered that these machines were not built for women.  They are loud, they are big, and there are forty-thousand knobs and dials on them.  How many buttons do we really need, boys?  Come on.  On.  Off.  Done.  See?

Though I do need instructions to start the damn thing up (yes, I really do), I can hold my own in figuring out how to follow the instructions and the operation of the thing.  It's not my first time using it after all, and though I forget EVERY YEAR how to start the machine regardless of the fact I used it JUST THE YEAR BEFORE, I do remember how to make the lines and turn the chute, and not to fall in a ditch from which I cannot escape.  I consider that successful using.  And if I can do it, then any woman can.  So why don't you think about that? 

So, ok.  Here's the way to do this, guys.  Let's make the thing more female-friendly.  Keep it whatever manly color you like--I don't care for pink, and I'd wager any woman who uses a snowblower doesn't care for it either.  You can keep it loud, and you can keep it smelly, but for crap's sake, fix those levers on the handles.  You have to hold them down on the left to make the snowblower drive, and you have to hold them down on the right to make the snowblower blow snow.  Not complicated, but the levers are 400 feet away from the handles.  No woman's hands are that big!  My thumbs are killing me!  And the handles themselves are massive, and I have to stretch to get all the way around them.  So fix that first.  Then you should get to work on making those buttons I was talking about.  On.  Off.  See?  That's all we need.  You want a speed thing (and of course you do), ok.  I like to get the job done quickly too.  You need a crank to move the chute?  I'm with you--I don't like to blow snow back over a finished area either.  But really that about covers it.  Throttle?  Choke?  What?  Extra stuff!  We don't know what it does, so we don't need it.  Case closed.

I tell you what-- If you feel less manly about being slightly knob-less, you can paint flames on the sides of the snowsuckerupper.  That will make it look way cool, and definitely manly.  Or you can paint wind streaks, so it looks like it's going really fast.  Or put on a fin.  Or paint it hot rod red.  Or add a beer-can holder.  I can use a place for my coffee cup anyway.  Or do all of the above, we don't care.   Just work on those other things, ok?  All us "girls" will appreciate it.

Thanks for your time, gentlemen.  Good luck with the redesign. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Kingdom for a Backhoe

No, I don't have one.  No, I don't know anyone who does, and no, I don't have the money to find someone with one.  So I have to dig myself.  Have a look-see....

Yeah, 3 days worth of work.  First day, I did 1/2 an hour and thought I'd have a heart attack, that dirt is so unbelievably heavy, and let's just face it, I'm out of shape (look--I said it, so there).  The next day, I had a bit more fortititude and went 45 minutes.  Yesterday I did an hour and a bit.  Today (day 4 of digging) I did 2 hours and some odd minutes.  Woo hoo!!  It got interesting, so I kept on going.  You'll have to wait to see those pictures tomorrow, though.

In the meantime, enjoy my synopsis of day 3.  It's super fun for the whole family (maybe not the language, though--I had been outside for a while before filming, and I was punchy).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Eve, Quietly

We've never been big on New Year's Eve around here.  In fact, we hardly ever make it to stay up until the big ball drop.  This year was a little different, as we also had no lights. 
They went out around 6:30, and after calming panicked children, we spent the evening sitting around the candlelit room, drawing pictures, playing Backgammon, and talking.  Eventually, most of us fell asleep.  Lorelei with me on the couch, and Reid squirreled away on the chair, surrounded by his stuffed animal friends and many pillows.  When the lights did come back on, around 11:30, we were thankful and ushered everyone to bed in their rightful places.  After showers, thankful for the hot water, Jeff and I retired.
Did we see the ball drop?  No.  We didn't turn on the TV at all last night.  But we did get to see the many, many stars outside, which was better than any show.  And we did get to spend time with each other, which is time well spent.  Happy New Year to everyone! 
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