Monday, December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  We just would like to take this opportunity to wish every one a Happy New Year and say Thanks for visiting our farm on our blog.  We appreciate your interest and comments.  Happy 2013!

Oh, and this picture?  I finally found some advice I can follow.  I think I will use this as my New Year's Resolution!  :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Eve day we treated ourselves with the best, most delicious freshly made cinnamon rolls ever.  The little country store just up the road from us makes these, caramel rolls, breads, cookies and just about everything you can dream up.  They are all so good.  These were still warm when we brought them home.

We were going to eat just one each, then put the rest in the freezer for later.  HA!  After the first bite that idea wasn't going to fly.  We have been eating them every since.  There's only one and a half left.  They are so big, all you can eat is a half at a time.  Cream cheese frosting!  A little butter, warm it up.  Oh my.

We had finger foods and snacks on Christmas Eve instead of making our usual soup dinner.  Then on Christmas Day I did make homemade yellow split pea soup.  This time it was in the crock pot, but not the big one, just the little one I usually use for dip and snacks.  It was the perfect size for just the right amount.  Yummy! 
We had a very blessed Christmas spending time with each other.  Daughter and I played a new computer game that we love.  Lots of laughing and snacks to eat.  We really treated ourselves.  She gave me a new pair of cowboy boots!  How cool is that.  I wore them all day yesterday in town and didn't even know I had them on.  Ahhhhh

We pretty much gave each other things we really love, such as new sweats.  We just about live in sweats around here.  So much work to do both inside and outside, its just the right thing to do.  That way we don't get our 'going to town' clothes all dirty working outside.

Here' a picture of our vicious guard dog Bella.  She has taken to sleeping under the stairs so she can guard her food bowl.  What ever happened to sleeping outside guarding the house?  She sleeps inside at night now, but somehow is able to hear every little sound. 

If ever we had a problem, she certainly would be the first one out the door.  Dexter would be right after her.  Those two would scare the heck out of me.  GRRRRRRR Wuff wuff wuff! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

I just knew I shouldn't have talked about our lack of snow a couple weeks ago.  Yesterday we really had a storm.  I think we must have received about 12-18" of fresh snow.  The storm seemed to be over a fairly small area as friends just south of us didn't receive more than an inch or so.

My sister in Washington was so surprised we got that much, she said they got rain.  You just never know up here.  We are only northeast of her a little bit.

The picture on the right is our front yard swing.  Check out some of the summer pictures on the blog for a comparison.  The left picture on on the bottom is of our driveway with the chicken coop on the other side.

Not only all the snow but we lost power around 1pm yesterday.  That happens frequently around here.  But it usually comes back on in a couple hours.  Yesterday it was nearly 7:30pm before we got it back on.  Because it gets dark so early these days (3:45pm)  we decided to eat early while there was still daylight, so we had salad, crackers and cheese and of course some spice cake and lemon bars from our Bible study the other night.  Not bad.

We just had a feeling things were going to be a little rough so we'd laid a fire ready to be lit as needed.  After our heater and lights went off that was the first thing I did, light the fire.  So glad we have our little wood stove.  It has saved our lives, or our comfort levels, so many times over the years.  We have cooked on it, dried our boots and coats near it, and heated our whole house with it.  So tiny.  And they don't even sell these any more.  What a shame.  Its perfect. 

We've also stored water for times like this.  We have our own well.  That has to have electricity in order to operate the pump.  Lots of water to drink but we don't 'buy' water to flush with.  Summer, we can dip water out of our pool, winter ... well, let's say the ice skating is great.

I was in the middle of baking a pecan pie when the power went out.  Fortunately the only thing I hadn't done was put it in the oven to cook.  So today, that will be my duty to get it done.

If it hadn't been so dark outside with the snow I might have gotten my new book read, my new scarf knit or so many other things I ended up not doing.  Oh well, there's still lots of time.

One last thing I wanted to share with you all.  If you don't watch The Voice on TV you probably haven't seen this yet.  The show wanted to do a tribute to Sandy Hook so decided to do it at the beginning of the show.  It had nothing to do with the show itself, just their way of remembering the victims.    Please watch this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

 Surprisingly we haven't had much snow yet.  I suppose I will have to eat my words later this month but so far, just a few inches.  The first snow came and went away within just a few days.

The dogs are loving every minute of it.  They run and bark, Dexter is still digging holes ... in fact, daughter and I filled in around five or six large holes just above the driveway near the pool.  Looking out an upstairs window yesterday, he has dug another large one in the same place.

The holes look more like small bomb craters.  What happens to all the dirt?  There's never enough to refill the holes.  So we have to bring some over from the back of the property.   The temps have been in the teens at night (11 deg the other night) so there won't be any digging on my part until it warms up a little.

We are ready for Christmas.  What a relief to have all my boxes mailed to our out-of-state family members.  It always takes an extra week or so for the Hawaii ones.

Having company for dinner Friday night.  I think we will make my daughter's favorite chicken.  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about six in a small casserole pan.  Top with slices of swiss cheese, cream of chicken soup mixed with a tiny bit of white wine to thin the soup, sprinkle with bread crumbs and top with melted butter to moisten the bread crumbs.

Then just bake until the chicken is done and the bread crumbs are nice and brown.  It is sooo good.  Can't wait!

Took some pix this morning around 7am.  I like the first one so much, our favorite summer place to sit and read.  But there's no sitting and reading now.  The one on the right is our new garden area with the fencing around and our little blueberry bushes all safe from predators ... read that dogs.  They like digging in the soft dirt, laying on the bushes and plants.  Anything to get my attention.

Better hurry and get your Christmas shopping done.  Only 12 more days to go and today is 12/12/12.  How funny is that!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Every morning when I get up I have seven little kitties waiting for me.  Cookie Time!  They all sleep in the house and by this time they are ready to go.  Starting on the left:  Reggie, Breeze, Willie, River, Big Mike, Angel and Petey.  They are all rescues from the shelter where Valerie used to volunteer.  Except Breeze, who Valerie rescued about 12 years ago.  (And don't you just love that new panorama feature on your cell phone?)

For the most part they all get along, but the calico River doesn't like anyone except Mike.  Little Petey is our mentally challenged kitty, he doesn't purr and doesn't meow.  But he is loving in other ways.  And as you can see from the picture, doesn't like cookies.  But he is addicted to dry cat food.  Go figure.

Yesterday was a big day for me, I got all my Christmas gifts wrapped and boxed up and took everything to the Post Office for mailing.  I have three sisters and a brother.  Most of them have kids, but we don't do a lot of gifts, just a few.  Plus mom.  I'm just glad what I had is in the mail now.

And now I can concentrate on the important things, like making Christmas cookies.  Love those!

I did finish one of the scarves I was making.  I have given it to a dear friend who helps me so much.  She helped me put this three scarf warp on my loom last year.  She is my weaving mentor.  I wouldn't know what to do without her sometimes.

I still have two scarves just the same on the loom, but now I don't have to worry about getting something done in time for anything.  I don't do very well with deadlines, and prefer to work on my own time.  That way I can take my time and do it leisurely.  And that's what makes it so enjoyable for me.

It started snowing shortly after I got up this morning.  I just went outside and brrrrrrrr!  Thermometer says its 35 out there but its a cold 35.  And still snowing.  We are supposed to be in for about and inch or two by tomorrow.  Our ski slopes have already opened and skiers are having fun. 

Better hurry ... only 18 days left until Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

As Christmas once again approaches, I am reminded over and over the true meaning of Christmas.  I so dislike the phrase "Happy Holidays" that you hear everytime you purchase something at a store, be it gifts or groceries.  I have a bracelet that says "Say Merry Christmas" on it.  The way I look at it is if you don't know the meaning of Christmas, then don't celebrate it as such.  Call it Santa Eve, Santa Day or something else that's just about as secular.  But don't touch my Christ, my Christ-mas.

As far as I'm ranting about my pet peeves, does anyone else get aggravated when you tell someone "thank you" and all you get back is "no problem".   To me that is rude.  Why not just say "You are welcome"?

Enough of my complaining, after all it is Christmas or will be soon enough.  This is a picture of our Bella a couple years ago.  We put out presents for pictures, then everything was put back in our spare bedroom before wandering kitties and dogs found them.  We've had wrapped gifts chewed up, peed on, wrapping torn asunder ... so now we just wrap, admire, smell, feel, shake ... then back in the bedroom.

No chances for any mistakes any more.

So remember, when someone says Happy Holidays, please say back Merry Christmas.  And when someone says Thank You, the right response should be You Are Welcome!

And no, I'm not in a bad mood.  It just looks that way.   So Merry Christmas, and I really mean that.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey just waiting for our dinner.  Notice all the yummy crisp skin is missing ... and so soon!  We both like to snack on the skin while waiting for the rest of the dinner to get cooked.

I have to say however, this year for the first time in 50 years our turkey was tough.  It was a name-brand that most people brag about.  It is only the second time I've used this brand and I remember the last time many years ago it wasn't that good.

The turkey was not dry.  I have always cooked mine in foil, then uncovered for the last 30 miutes to get a nice browned, crispy outside.  No change in the program this year either.  I noticed when we started to remove the skin, it was thicker and sort of hard to tear.  It tasted good, but when we cut into the meat it was tough, not tender.  Juicy but not overly so.  I know it got done and I'm sure it wasn't over done.

My daughter thought maybe they're putting in additives these days that's doing something to our food.  I wouldn't be surprised.

The rest of the dinner was so good.  We had baked sweet potato in the skin.  Just scoop it out, add a little butter, salt & pepper and eat.  Also gravy,  dressing with mushrooms, onions, water chestnuts, giblets and spices, we had made macaroni salad the day before (so it can ripen, daughter says), pumpkin dessert (better than pie!), and pecan pie.  Oops, almost forgot the cranberry sauce ... whole berry, of course.

Oh my, I ate and ate and ate.  Its now 11:30 am Friday morning.  I just finished another plate of everything except dessert.  Excuse me now, I have to go downstairs and get some pie.  No shopping for us, just more food.  There's always tomorrow.

God bless everyone.  I hope your thanksgiving was bountiful and blessed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving is only two days away.  Today we clean house, tomorrow we make macaroni salad, pecan pie, and whatever else we can think of that will help a busy schedule.  My daughter is such a huge help and makes this 'big' deal a much smaller deal.  Now we can enjoy each others company on Thursday without getting so tired.  I can't stand in the kitchen as long as I used to, so every little thing helps.

I was thinking this morning laying in bed about my favorite Thanksgiving dinner we ever had.  My husband and I had just moved to Idaho with our two small children.  We spent every dollar we could scratch together for the down payment on our house.  We had moved at the end of September and couldn't find a house to rent so we bought one from a friend.  He was building it and had offered to let us move in early.

My husband didn't even have a job and with our savings now gone, Christmas was going to be a very small one.  Thanksgiving ended up being small too because when he finally found a job, got hired the week of Thanksgiving and on Wednesday night slipped on ice in the shop and broke his ankle.  With no insurance and no savings left, he went to the hospital, got his cast on and came home to suffer not only the pain but the loss of his dignity.

Since we had no money we had to eat something other than turkey for our T-dinner.  I decided on chicken as our best alternative.  We already had one in the freezer and it kind of looked like turkey.  Our seven- and eleven-year old children asked why we were having chicken instead of turkey.  My lame excuse went something like, "Oh, we decided to just do something different this year to give the poor turkeys a break".

That seemed to satisfy their questions.  All four of us shared a roast chicken that year.  There was plenty to eat and it gave them a sense of family that Thanksgiving is supposed to give.  We felt so blessed to be eating.  The entire day was filled with fun and laughter and to this day, my daughter doesn't remember that we didn't have a turkey that year.  My son and my husband are no longer with us,  but years later all we remembered was a wonderful family love fest.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Today is Dexter's 11th month of life.  Not sure of his exact birthday but we're close.  We celebrate on this date anyway.

He is getting so big.  He's still a puppy though, and is so exuberant.  He was running around in the snow early this morning, his first experience with snow.  I'm not sure he can figure out what it is.

Bella on the other hand at three years old, is quite satisfied to lay in the house snoozing.  She has gotten quite used to sleeping in my bedroom at night, and doesn't want to go out just in case she doesn't get to come back in.  But we always call her and she's right there waiting.

I just finished spinning up the alpaca blend from Serano Alpacas in Kentucky.  I love this colorway of reddish brown and a lighter more copper color.  These were spun up separately, plyed together for a tweedy look.  It probably will be woven into a scarf, maybe with some of the merino / silk yarn I bought recently at Blue Flag Weaving in Sandpoint.  The alpaca is fuzzy and soft, the merino / silk is is soft and shiny.  They should look really pretty together.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My daughter had headed to the vet's with one of our sick kitties a couple days ago when all of a sudden she was back in our driveway honking her horn for me to come outside.  She said there was a big fire right across the road.

Actually it was across the highway from our access road.  Fortunately I had taken my phone and we called 911.  It looked like a burn had gotten out of control somehow.  The fire was crowning in the trees and went from the bottom of the hill all the way to the top.

The fact that it was pouring down rain made me sure it was a lot bigger than they had anticipated. We went to town yesterday and it was still smoking.  Always so scary for us, we are surrounded by forests.  It wouldn't take much.

In 1910 there was a devastating fire that went almost from Spokane WA to the MT and ID state line.  People who were around during that said it sounded like a freight train.  I have read the accounts of this terrible fire and sure wouldn't want it to happen again.

I've still been working on spinning up the brown alpaca fiber from Serano Alpacas.  This batch is called Farm Blend and is a multi-hued light chocolate brown color.  Previously I had spun up four ounces of a red-brown alpaca color and will ply this with that first batch.  It should be a very muted but beautiful tweedy brown.  And at eight ounces will be enough to make a scarf.  Soooooo soft!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

 Have I said before how much we like our new heater we had installed in March?  Yes, I know everyone is probably tired of hearing that, but check out the thermostat from this morning.  The 32 deg is actually up about 5 degrees from when I got up at 5am.  Ahhhh, so nice and warm in the morning.

We used to get up early, come downstairs and build a fire in the wood stove.  After a couple hours it would be more comfortable, but cold downstairs and too hot upstairs.  Unfortunately the little wood stove was placed just at the bottom of the stairs and all the heat went directly up stairs.  Love this so much more!

 Here's a picture from this morning around 10am.  If the lawn looks a little frosty, it is.  Our driveway heading down to the gate was really frosty but I got outside too late to get a picture before it melted away.  Our maple trees haven't turned any pretty colors, just froze, dried up and are in the process of falling off.  Oh darn.

And the last pic is what I have left of the indigo leaves.  The plants didn't do very well, either in the garden or in the flower beds at the front of the house.  Dexter apparently liked them because he would drag one of the flower pots they were planted in all around the yard until the root ball would fall out.  Then he would chew the stems off, spread any leaves left everywhere and completely destroy the plant.

I have replanted these so many times.  I'm really surprised I had any leaves left.  So rather than using them fresh I dried them and will have to make a paste later to use as a dye.  We'll see if it turns out.  A lot more work than using fresh, but it is the old fashioned way to a gorgeous color.

Monday, October 22, 2012

 Night before last I was doing dishes after dinner.  As I rinsed the two last plates I just happened to see a small flash in our sink.  I finished rinsing the food off, cleaned out the sink and as I reached for the garbage disposal switch, something made me stop.  What was that tiny little flash I saw?  Out habit, I reached up and touched my ear ... only to find my diamond earring was gone!

So that's what I saw.  Thankful I hadn't turned on the disposer, I bravely stuck my hand down there and started pulling out what was left of our dinner.  We only run our disposal when absolutely needed so there was quite a bit of stuff down there (ugh!).

I was not able to feel it but was sure it was there, unless there was a bigger hole than the diamond and it had gone down with the water.  So I stopped and prayed God would allow me to find this very precious thing, a gift from my mother-in-law several years ago.

Stuck my hand in again and there is was!  Thank you Jesus.  It means so much to me.  Even though it is so tiny.  Must be kind of like we are to Him.  Small but precious and worth finding.

While I was taking pictures there was Bella, our Great Pyrenees in one of her favorite spots in the kitchen.  She acts so innocent, but we know she's just hoping some morsel off something tasty may drop on the floor just in reach of her nose and tongue.  She is big and lumbering, but also Very quick when it comes to treats.

She can't catch them in the air like our border collie used to, nor as quickly as Dexter our border collie lab puppy can, but with her weight and size, all she has to do is insert herself in the middle of any situation and well, you get the idea.  She's there and she's in charge.

She's a love though.  She's been sleeping in my bedroom at night now.  Since its turning colder  (low 20's now), I'm glad and even though she prefers the cool air, I think she likes it too.   The dogs both come in at night about 10:30pm.

The first 30 minutes she's in she thinks its our time to spend together, snuggling in my bed with her big head on my chest.  She's so big (about 110+ pounds) and takes up so much room, 30 minutes is about all I can take.  About then, she gets too hot and starts panting so hard it shakes the bed and I can't hear the TV.  We are both ready for her to retire to the floor where she plants herself directly in front of my closed door.  Keeping out anyone who may want to come in, I guess.

I love her!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our weather folks are calling for        *s n o w* by Saturday.  I can't believe it may be here already.  Its way too soon as far as I am concerned.  I took this picture just this week and I was calling it 'the gathering storm'.  It has turned much colder (29 degrees at night) but our days are still fairly warm, in the 60's most days.  I still have to mow our yard one more time before it does snow but every day I hope to prolong this much loved task.  In the summer I love mowing.  I always have enjoyed it.  Especially when we got our first riding mower, but even before that.  Just being outside, the smell of the freshly cut grass and seeing how much better our yard looks after its done is so pleasing to me.  We've had such a dry fall this year that our maple tree still has leaves that have not turned color but they have turned dry and brown, still on the tree but curled up and crisp.  Too bad, that little tree usually turns a beautiful golden color.

Then yesterday I took this picture on my way home from town.  Its still part of that gathering storm but seems to be heading the other way.  We were all hoping to get a little more rain before it goes away.  And the clouds keep our weather so much warmer.  Oh well, it is what it is I guess.

Finishing up today the picking up our hoses and furniture from around our pool.  We like to leave it all out as long as possible so we can at least look at it from inside the house and maybe pretend a little longer its warm out there.  Got to put our garden to sleep for the winter and make sure no tools have been left outside.  This is one of our busiest times of the year.  Always so much to do both inside and out.

I did finally get the inside construction type jobs done last week.  The guy did a really nice job covering the heater duct work with drywall and getting the walls textured to match the original.  Now all I have to do is find some paint to match, but that can be done just about any time and I'm not in a hurry to paint right now. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

At last, my favorite fruit of all summer is ripe (except for blueberries, raspberries, apples ... ), well you get the idea.  But I really do love our purple plums.  The yellow plums have come and gone, we gave most of them away because they ripen so quickly we can't use them all.  But these purple ones are so sweet and tender without becoming too soft.

Daughter went out and picked a huge amount of them yesterday.  We keep most of the fresh picked produce in our carport until I have time to do something with it.  Its cold out there but not frosty.  At least not yet. She also picked pears, a huge box.

Trying to decide what to do with everything.  We will keep a lot of plums to eat fresh but cut the rest in half, remove the seed and dry the halves.  The pears are another story.

I'm not much on canning any more as I've said before.  So, in that case we probably will give most of them away.  She likes pears as does my mother who lives too far away to give her any, but we can save a few for us to eat.  Maybe make some pear butter (yummy!) 

If these fresh fruits and veggies would only last longer.  I'd love to eat them throughout our long winter, but that's not gonna' happen.  So drying is our best bet here and everything tastes so good.

We have two guys over this morning, Alex is splitting and stacking our wood, Chris is working on getting all our outside repairs done before winter hits with a vengeance.  My logger friend Bob was here two summers ago and cut down five trees fairly close to the house.  He cut them in lengths exactly right for our little wood stove and we've left them lay out there ever since.  They have dried very nicely and now are perfect for splitting, which is what's happening today.

This is supposed to be a milder winter, which to me means a little warmer but lots more snow so we should be set for firewood.  I hope we don't need much this year because of our recently installed heat pump force air heater.  But if we have a power outage we will be warm.  We normally go through about two cords of wood in the winter, this year maybe half a cord if we are lucky. 

One of our rain gutters is coming apart at a seam so that's getting fixed as well as our screen doors the dogs also use.  They're not very careful so the doors are sagging.  Chris is remarkable and can fix or build just about anything.  He's also been working on and off building shelves in the kitty room where we can store dog / cat food off the floor as well as putting our snowy winter clothes there.  We just hang them up until they dry.  Lots of those usually.  The new heater was placed in that room too, and he built a nice closet type enclosure to cover everything up.

Now all that's left after today is to finish putting the drywall back in the living room over the heater duct work where they had to cut out our wood ceiling.  What a great job these guys did.  Its been since Feb or March of this year, but I've gotten so used to looking at it, I don't even notice any more.  But who would put in a red cedar ceiling in the first place.  Oh well, its a conversation piece.  And this pic is my ceiling, not the floor ad the ducting is hanging under the ceiling because of the upstairs floor joists that run the other way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yesterday we picked three more big boxes of apples.  Two we are giving away and one box is for ourselves.  There is still lots of apples on our trees that will be picked in the next coming week.  We did have extremely strong winds yesterday with rain and frosty 30's temps last night.  I haven't been out to the orchard yet and am hoping we still have some apples left on our trees.

The plums weren't quite ripe as of yesterday and I'm really hoping the wind didn't blow them all off.  I'm afraid to look.

This morning I prepared a dehydrator with seven trays of sliced and cored apples.  We like our dried apples with the skins still on, so they are a little chewy.  I still have a tiny little bit of apples we dried several years ago.  They are still good, the flavor is remarkable.  Wish I could remember just how many gallon bags I filled with those dried apples so long ago.  We snack and nibble on them every once in a while.  I'd make apple pie but my daughter and I have quit eating bread, rolls, pie crust ... anything with flour.  Maybe I could make a crust out of some chopped nuts.  Hmmmmm, an interesting idea!  But it sure has helped us lose some weight.  Kind of hard though, no donuts, no sandwiches, no breading on chicken.  Oh well, I sure feel a lot better.  Its amazing.

The pool guy is coming tomorrow to close the pool down for the winter.  Our pool isn't heated so it does freeze in the winter time.  He drains and blows out the pump, cleans the filter and we put a tarp over the top.  Usually the wind will blow the tarp off so we end up draining it and doing a thorough cleaning job early in the spring before we fill it again for the summer.  We don't drain the pool any more in the fall because it fills up with just enough water from the snow and rain to turn green.  So we drain and clean it in the spring instead.  Its a lot of work but it always looks so nice and clean for the summer.

We're nearly done with our fall cleanup work.  Our temps have fallen into the very low 30's at night now and daytime temps aren't getting above about 70.  Its still nice though.  If it wasn't for the terrible fires around this area, Washington in particular, our skies would be the dark blue that is so nice in the fall.  If the wind is blowing away from us there's always just a tiny bit of wood smoke in the air that makes it really seem like fall.  We don't anticipate using much wood this year with our new heater.  WooHoo.  That's a lot of work and a very dirty way to stay warm.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We spent the morning today digging potatoes.  They are purple potatoes and have a wonderful sweet taste.   Those in the know say not to wash them prior to storing as it 'wakes the potato up' and it will spoil faster.  We'll see.  We used some in our dinner tonight that were delicious.  We ended up with a little over 20 pounds. 

I made a bean type soup from some mayocoba dried beans I had soaked overnight.  Today I cooked them in organic chicken stock and added our own fresh vegetables of globe zucchini squash, both yellow and green, some baby crookneck squash and our hot chili peppers as well as our potatoes.  Then added an onion (we hadn't grown it ourselves).  I almost felt as if I were cheating with that!

It tasted as good as it looks in this picture.   Nice, we still have some left over for lunch tomorrow. 

Fall is certainly coming upon us.  Our temps are still nice and warm in the daytime but getting much cooler at night.  Loving our new heater.  Its so cozy when I get up in the morning instead of having to head downstairs to light the wood stove.

Our animals feel the fall too.  The kitties are all coming in at night earlier and earlier.  If we can get them in between 3 and 5pm they are good for the night.  If they stay out until dark it is a lot harder.  Since we have so many coyotes, fox, owls and bobcats around the only one that gets to stay outside all night is our Great Pyrenees, Bella.  She has a hard job to do barking all night long.    :-\    But it does keep the critters away from the house.

The rest of the morning we were pulling the old vegie plants and weeds from the garden and putting it all on our burn pile.  When it cools off in Oct or Nov, and we get a little rain we can start burning all the yard refuse accumulated over the summer.  We have some maple trees that have a bazillion leaves ready to fall.  Always in the past we'd give the leaves to the goats and alpacas to eat, as they love them.  This year I guess we'll just have to turn them over in the garden for next spring.  Considering the late start we got planting this year I think our little garden did pretty well.  Can't wait for next year!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Still drying produce for winter.  Didn't realize how obsessive compulsive I was until I took this picture of onion slices on the drying rack.  I think its pretty.  Our garden is pretty much gone since the two nights of frost we got so these large onions are from Costco.  We bought a 10# bag and I've just about got all of them processed.

The other dryer (we have two) is full of our jalapeno peppers.  There's still the big bowl of them in the outside fridge I haven't figured out what to do with.  Because the peppers are so fat it takes too long and ties up my dryer from doing other foods.  Maybe next time I can slice them up.

A good friend sent me a couple of good recipes I just might have to try with some of those peppers.  I'd love to make some jalapeno or serano jelly.

I've had a young man over who is splitting our firewood for this coming winter.  Its amazing what a young and strong guy can accomplish.  I wouldn't even attempt any more.  But we can stack it if need be in the sheltered car port next to the house.  It will remain dry and close to the back door even when the snow falls and the wind blows.  Me too, I don't have to go out in the elements to retrieve it.  But hopefully, with out new forced-air furnace we will only have to use our wood stove a couple of times rather than every day, all day long like we usually do.

Lovin' that!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The fall frost has hit us once again.  We waited just a little too long to cover what's left of our garden a couple nights ago.  TV weather girl suggested our area might be below freezing but of course, I forgot until it was already dark.  Considering how warm the days have been we just blew it off.  Darn!  Check out the two pictures only a few days apart.  :-(

In the midst of trying to dry and store the rest of our produce - pears, apples, plums, the rest of the globe zucchini (yummy!), and the tomatoes that are big and green we decided to clean out our pantry.  It is rather large and a great place to put stuff when you don't know where else to put it.  That's always a big mistake.

We bought a 50# bag of dry anasazi beans as well as another 20# bag of brown rice so needed to find a place where it wouldn't get dusty or bugs in it ... so pantry, here it comes.  Oops, running out of room.  And we still need to find places for other long term items.  We haven't cleaned or cleared out the pantry since I moved here in 2006 so I guess its time.  (Yes, I do sweep the floor.)  So far it has taken us three days and we are still pulling stuff out.

Lots of old containers and dishes are headed for the Goodwill, moving our canned veggies etc to the side where the bowls and other containers are located, and what's left of them is going where the food was.  We don't have upper kitchen cabinets (don't ask) so most of the things normally in those cabinets are in the pantry.  Makes the kitchen look nice but sure hard to find places out of sight.

Hope to finish up this job today.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I just had to post this remarkable invention.  It appeared on a web magazine I subscribe to.  This is an incredible feat considering his warp is more even than mine usually are.  The interview is in French but there's nothing to understand other than watch this in motion.  I Want One!   Lego Mechanical Loom

Our weather is very cool at night now (low 40's) but the rest of this week is going to be in the mid- to upper-90's.  WooHoo!  Love it.

Garden is growing well, weeds even better.  Just keeping up with both of those is keeping us very busy.  Out to mow the front yard today, daughter is cleaning house :-)  then pool time.  We had very strong winds the last couple days and our pool is full of bugs and pine needles so a cleaning is in order before any swimming.

Warm weather always brings out the critter (can you say spider?) hoards.  We found this quarter sized mama spider full of eggs in her abdomen the other night.  We both are so afraid of spiders we couldn't get close enough for a good picture, but you get the idea anyway.

Update 08/19 ... we found two more of these on our front porch.  Guess I need to get out the killer spray before these hatch their millions of babies in my house.  They are all making their homes under the roof but in between the metal roofing and whatever goes under that.  All I can say is Eeeeuuuuuooooooommmmmm  Yikes!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

For some reason I just can't quit taking pictures of our garden produce!   We've only got a few plants out there but they are doing so well.  After we had the garden area rototilled and fenced, we hauled over several tractor buckets of alpaca manure from the pasture.  These are dry pellets we've scraped out of the stalls, piled in the middle of the pasture for several years.  Then we scrape the ground because its not just in the stalls.  So our big pile now is perfect compost with the added grass clippings and leaves from our yard, and dirt from being scraped off the ground in the pasture.

As a result the produce is growing wildly.  Every day we pick, day after day there's more and more.  Thank you Jesus for your blessings.  I decided to try and dry some squash this year.  So far I have two large freezer bags filling up quickly.  Some of the crookneck squash I sliced and lightly salted, left it in the colander for about half an hour, then patted dry and put on the trays.  I tried some this morning.  Whoa!  Is that stuff salty.  More like very salty squash chips.

The others I simply sliced and dried to be used in soup or lasagne later this winter.  We use large thin slices of zucchini instead of noodles.  Its really good and no gluten.

In the 90's here, we been trying to spend some time every day up at the pool.  We get so busy in the mornings we forget until its late in the afternoon, then we are too tired.  The weeds continue to grow everywhere.  Trying to keep 2-1/2 acres weeded around the house is a nearly impossible task.  The pasture looks very unkempt since its grown so much even though I did do some mowing over there early this summer.  Its also 2-1/2 acres but with gas prices so high that's not going to happen again for quite a while.  But we are sure enjoying this summer.

Almost forgot ... our orchard is producing apples, purple and yellow plums, pears and cherries.  This picture is of the yellow plums that are almost ready for picking.  We eat them right off the trees or even better we like to dry them for eating in the winter time.  Sort of reminds of how much we love summer when its hovering around zero degrees.  And they are very sweet and juicy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

With temps in the 90's lately, we have had to weed the garden more frequently.  Today we were trying to keep up with it all but only succeeded in weeding between the rows of zucchini, potatoes, green onions, hot peppers,  eggplant and tomatoes.  I know it sounds like a lot.  Not so.  Our rows are very short with only about three of each type of vegetable.  These are blueberries (check the size of these beauties!) and the other picture is globe green and yellow zucchini, along with some crookneck squash.  They are all very delicious, and right out of the garden makes them even better.

When I went up to turn off the pool filter I found this poor guy and fished him out with the little skimmer.  Some kind of a tree beetle, they seem to live in just about every state from Idaho down to New Mexico.  Good thing he was already dead, I don't do things that crawl or fly.  He was nearly 3" long with those antennae stretched out.

Dexter, our puppy is now about eight months old.  If he doesn't stop dragging my planted flower pots all over the yard and chewing them up, he may not make it to nine months.  He is such a playful pup.  But the 'destroyer' as we call him is getting in more trouble than he needs.  He attacked some mailing boxes I had stacked with my spinning supplies.  Grrrrrrr.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Indigo Plants ... finally growing!

What a great week we've had.  On Thursday we went to the Double J Dog Ranch a few miles west of us.  This is a private home on lots of acreage above a beautiful lake.  They rescue special-needs dogs.  Mostly 'lethal' white Aussies, which are blind or deaf white Australian Shepherds.  Lethal meaning they usually are killed because of their perceived 'problems'.  Fortunately for these dogs Christine found out about them before that happened.  We can't imagine that happening to these loving animals.  After being with them just a few minutes you forget all about their disabilities and we had to keep asking which ones were deaf and which were blind.

These are such wonderful dogs!  They are playful, affectionate, active ... and Christine the owner does such a fantastic job.  These dogs are clean, well-fed and somehow are great watch dogs.  Here are some pix we took while we were there.

The German Shepherd has what's called 'straight leg', which is apparently a little known syndrome in only that particular breed.  He isn't able to bend his hind legs like normal dogs do.  But he is able to play and almost run for a short time by making a hopping motion with both legs at once.  And talk about a sweetie!  Such a nice boy.

About half these dogs are up for adoption, or even fostering.  Since this is a private rescue they are always happy to get donations of money, dog food, toys, dog beds ... just about anything.  They are a 501-c3 non-profit rescue.

Just FYI, they are having a Mutt Strut for some of the doggies at Pawpular Companions Boutique: 21950 E. Country Vista Dr,  Liberty Lake WA if anyone would like to see these little guys.

Here is their website link:        Lots more pictures there and information on adoptions etc.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Even with all the rainy days we've had this has been a beautiful summer.   The hard rain at least a couple times every week has kept everywhere around here so green and beautiful.  I've only had to water the front yard one time so far this summer.  We feel very blessed to have this with the rest of the country in a terrible drought.

The weeds in our garden have outpaced the veggies growing there.  Daughter has been out for the past 2-3 days pulling those pesky weeds.  Since we've had so much rain she reports they are like butter to pull.  Only problem is they are nearly knee-high.  Rain one day, 90's the next couple, then more rain.  Just the right combination for lots of growing.

We ate our very first yellow globe zucchini this week.  She sliced it fairly thin and since we were eating lasagne that night pulled out the noodles and inserted the squash instead.  It was delicious.  I've used green zucchini before instead of noodles but this is our first taste of the yellow globes.  So sweet.

My indigo plants are actually surviving and doing very well.  No thanks to me I'm sure.  My thumb continues to turn browner and browner any more.  I put the pots out in the garden so they would get watered with the veggies.  Seems to be a good solution.  Those clay pots dry out very quickly.

We've only got blueberries on one plant again this year.  I can't figure out what the problem is, but one bush is full, the rest don't have any.  A neighbor said the strong winds we had at the beginning of summer blew all the blossoms off her blueberry plants.  Same thing in the orchard, one apple tree has tons of apples, the rest are very sparse.  We want to dry as many as we can for use later this winter so I guess we will have to be buying some at Costco. 

Another fire just up the hill from us.  Actually several fires on two different days.  We had a very strong lightening and thunder show the night before with lightening strikes almost on the property.  Fortunately it was wet and green enough that it didn't spread quickly.   It is a good thing because the area is nearly inaccessible to the firetrucks.  They finally had to call in the water-dropping helicopter from about 60 miles away.  We've got a number of small lakes around here so there was no problem for them to find water to drop.  Still a little scary as our farm is at the bottom of the hill where the fire started.

Just had to post one other picture ... I'd ordered some spinning supplies I found on Ebay.  The seller is in India.  When I got the package, I was surprised to see it was in a small plastic box wrapped with lots of bubble wrap and a handsewn cotton envelope.  Can't imagine sending every item in anything handmade.  Had to save that wrapping it was so unusual and beautiful in an old-fashioned way.