Friday, October 18, 2013

Oh, Oh, Oh, Who's that Kid with the Oreo Cookie???

I have no idea why that's stuck in my head.  None.  But don't you find it weird that they "discovered" that Oreo cookies are as addictive as cocaine?  Not sure why they did a study on that, to be honest with you.  That was kind of the most interesting part about it.  Hmmmmm........anyway......

Let's get down to it, shall we?  Things have been hopping here, as always.  First, there are the kids.  We are up to the whole "What are you going to be for Halloween?" thing again.  My son knew pretty much right away.  He is a GIANT fan of Minecraft, and wants to be an enderman, which is this thing:

I have no idea what the heck that's supposed to be.  The entire game looks like bad Atari to me, but he loves it, and has bizarrely learned some interesting things from it (like what an ingot is).  It's a building game, it seems, and he loves Legos, so it just works for him.  So he's easy, as all he needs is black clothing and a box for his head.  Love it!  Done.

My daughter, on the other hand, had a hard time.  She always wants to pick what she thinks others would find "cool", but then she's never happy with it.  She 's been happiest when she's chosen something that she would like to be, just because SHE would like to be it, which is really the point in the first place.  So after a lot of deliberation and flip-flopping back and forth, she has decided to be Sam Sparks from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs


THAT one I can get behind.  So we're going with it.  I'm proud of her for picking something (someone?) she wanted to be, not what or who she thought others would want her to be.  Good for her!

In other news, a couple of weeks ago that bear came back again and finished the job.  The bees are D-O-N-E.  I had put them back together, gotten stung, put up a number of "bear preventing" measures, and none of it worked.  The bear guy (or girl) came back and tore both hives apart--there's just no coming back for them.  I am very disappointed, but slightly relieved, only because I had become so allergic it was getting dangerous.  I have begun the cleanup and will salvage any wax possible and then sell the equipment piece by piece.  I guess I'm sticking to maple syrup.  I hope that others will have better success than I did and will keep the bee population up, as it has become so endangered in recent years.  It certainly does not seem that I can help out on that front.

Further on the food front, I have harvested quite a bit of peas from my fall planting--in fact, more, I think, than I got from my spring planting.  I set my son at shelling the last batch I harvested (peeling them, he called it), and it took him over an hour to do it--with help from me and my daughter.
Pea peeling boy

Though I can see that the vines are getting tired and thinking about being done, I am hoping that we'll get another nice batch beforehand.  I am happiest that I seemed to have discovered the variety that works best for me here.  I'm hoping it will perform as well in the spring, and then I'll have a winner.  I have been trying to choose varieties that perform fantastically here, and then stick with them year after year.  This is a complete opposite from what I normally like to do, which is try a little of everything to see how it goes.  But, I have come to the time where I'd like to be able to have one or two varieties of a crop that produces very well and that we like to eat so that I'll have more food to put by, instead of lots of little "experimental" crops.  Ahh....the evolution of the homesteader. 

On the cheese making front, things are chugging along.  Can I just stop here for a minute and tell you how MUCH I love making cheese?  I have no idea if I'm any good at it at all, since most of what I've made lately still has a month to age before testing, but OH!  I love making cheese. 

Beautiful curds

Oh my goodness.  I just do.  It's like magic, you know?  Big pot of milk becomes beautiful chunk of cheese. 

“Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.”
―Clifton Paul Fadiman
Sage Derby, before the final pressing

Magic!  It's funny, because I do so many things that are so "old", in a way.  I grow food from seed.  I bake bread.  I make soap.  Etc, etc.  Many transformations from one thing to a totally different thing, and many techniques that are old techniques (of course, somewhat revised for today).  But there are very few things that I do that have the ability to transport me back in time the way cheesemaking does.  Working with raw fiber does the same thing for me--sends me right back in time.  Cheesemaking....well, it's just special.

I have decided on a cheese press, I think.  Despite the fact that I really like stacking 50 pounds of bricks up on top of a homemade mold, it's gotten stupid.  Just ask the couple of coffee mug casualties and the flower vase that have bit it since I started with this.  Playing the "when's that going to fall over" game is getting old.  So, though it will have to wait a couple of weeks, I think I have decided to purchase a Dutch cheese press. 


This one, I believe.  I really wanted one of those spring ones, because they are more compact.  However, when I really looked into it, I discovered that the tension doesn't stay the same all the time.  As the cheese compresses, the spring relaxes a bit, and then the weight is off and you're not pressing at a consistent pressure.  Therefore, the spring would have to be adjusted fairly often to maintain the correct pressure on the cheese.  I press my cheeses overnight.  I don't want to get up every few hours to turn the pressure up on my cheese.  Dutch presses are apparently a "set it and forget it" kinda deal.  So yes, they are bigger and kinda oddly shaped, but I think it's the way to go.

Speaking of raw fiber (which we weren't), I am going to the Wool and Fiber Festival tomorrow in Rhinebeck!  Squeeeeee!!!!!  A day to myself!  Just me, no kids, no husband.  I will miss them, but I need a day to myself.  I think one a year is fair, no?  Just me and some sheep and hairy goats and lots of stuff to touch and see!  If you remember, I went last year, had a wonderful time talking to myself all day and just looking, and brought home a bunch of rabbits.  This year?  Still planning on the wonderful time, still planning on talking to myself (can't help that one), but no rabbits.  I love my fluffy bunnies, but I have plenty.  This year I am going to look at yarn and spinning wheels and touch everything, and that's how that's going to go.  I will take pictures.  Stay tuned!

And in closing....

Well, I should tell you that the cat population has increased by one this week, and in an odd way.  Here's the story, which is so odd, it could only happen to me, because odd things happen to me all the time.  I was at work on Wednesday, and was heading home during my lunch break to check on things at the house.  I had 1/2 an hour left, and figured I'd just swing by, make a quick check, and then go back to work.  Ha!  As I was going over a bridge, I saw a cat carrier in the shoulder of the road--a busy-ish road, mind you.  The carrier had the word "free" on it on a card.  I thought "Woo hoo!  A carrier!  I should go get that!".  People chuck out stuff all the time.  A lot of it is junk, but sometimes there's something good.  No, I'm not above picking up someone else's junk, especially if it's usable un-junk.  We could use a second carrier, and this one looked nice.  I pulled over where I could and walked back to it. 

As I got closer, I could swear I heard meowing.  I thought that was odd, but as there are some grasses and stuff around there that are tall, and some houses near, it could have been coming from anywhere.  It was hard to tell through the car noises.  However, I got closer, and through the noise of the traffic, I could hear the meowing was coming from inside the carrier.

Yes, friends, someone had put a cat IN the carrier and left it on the side of the road with the word "free" on it.  Oddly enough, behind it, in the tall grass was a litterbox, a scooper, and a single can of cat food.  I know I'm a sucker. But I'm not going to leave a cat to die on the side of the road in a carrier.  It was only a matter of time before someone sideswiped that carrier and killed the little one inside.

I didn't really think and I had no idea what to do next with the cat.  I picked it up, took a look at the little one, and popped him in the back of the car. When I got to a side street, I pulled over and took a look at him (as I discovered, he is a he).  He's young, under a year old, I'd say, and black as pitch.  That is, except for the little white spot on his tummy. His eyes are pumpkin colored.  He is supremely cool, and seemed to realize I was there to help because he curled up in my lap like we'd known each other forever, and purred like a maniac. 

I eventually got him home and set him up in a very nice, spacious crate in the garage barn, so he would feel safe and not have to compete with the other cats.  He's afraid of all the other cats, but follows people around like "Hey!  Where're we going?  I'm coming with you, ok?".  Like he's known us forever.  Because he's black with pumpkin eyes, and it's near Halloween, his name is Ichabod.  We've been calling him Icky.

Time will tell as to whether he'll hang with us, but I'm hoping so.  Dang boy seems to be magical, because though the crate he's in is wire and fairly open, I don't think he can fit through the bars.  However, I'll see him in there, he'll stay in there for a long time, and then I'll turn my back and he'll be out and behind me.  Realizing he can't be "caged", I opened the door for him, but left the crate as a safe haven.  It is not unusual to see him in one place, however, and then look down suddenly and he's right beside me.  He's very sneaky.

And there you go.  Funny enough, I was thinking a couple of months ago that it was too bad we only have one black cat (a big boy named Percival), when I like them so much.  Then Sarahcat gave birth to a second black cat, and now we have Icky.  Very interesting.  Possibly I should muse on the fact that it's funny that I've never won the lottery?

'Till next time!

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  1. Jocelyn, I loved this post. I'm sorry about the bees... but things change, don't they? The cat story is unreal, and so close to Halloween... he sounds magical!

    1. Things do change--that's the only thing that doesn't. :) Yes, Icky's unreal. He learned his name 2 days after he got here, and it was like he'd always known it. Very uncanny

  2. Oh man...I'm sorry to hear about your bees! We were so sad when we lost ours! And bee sting allergies?! No joke, right? We're still planning on getting a new batch of bees next spring but my allergy is always lingering in the back of my head (literally and figuratively). Oh! And your daughters costume? Yes, that is someone you can get behind!!! Yay for her :-)

    1. Oh, I'm very sorry about ours, but not so much when I think of my allergic reaction to their little burning stings. I feel like I let them down, but there was just nothing I could do.

      PS__I am proud of my girl too!

  3. Oh please tell me you found out how to attach two spun strands of yarn together? I would have loved to have gone.

  4. I came back to check. The suspense is killing me. : )

  5. Michaele--I'm sorry, life has been hectic. I did not learn that particular skill. It was a very basic class (maybe too basic, in my opinion),. However, I am going to take classes with a local lady, and I will ask!


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