Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quick chortle

Okay, continuing on the comic theme from last post, here is my official favorite Dilbert strip.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oozing through the cracks

This is how I feel most of the time.  Too much 'stuff' jammed into too small a space.  The carrying capacity of my brain has been reached.  Keeping track of the kids' schedule, kids' homework, my job, our finances, my volunteer work, housekeeping, preserving, the garden, the goats, the chickens, etc. etc.  My sister-in-law called me a superwoman the other day.  I certainly don't feel like a superwoman.

I was talking to a friend this morning and he told me one of his heroes was Crazy Horse.  My mind went blank -- who was Crazy Horse?  Yes, I know he was a native American leader, but beyond that, I knew nothing.  Nada, zip, zilch.  I was ashamed.  I work in a state park, and I have no idea who Crazy Horse is.  That's just nuts, that is.

I used to know a lot of stuff.  Maybe at one time I even knew who Crazy Horse was.  But not now.  I have a feeling that cramming my head (and life) full of all the stuff mentioned above has meant that a bunch of other stuff, other knowledge and thoughts and ideas, has oozed out through my ears.  And that's not good.  I don't want stuff oozing out of my ears.  It makes a nasty stain on the pillowcase.

So, what to do?  Keep up the status quo, keep going at full throttle, or try to cut back on some things?

I have a feeling I already know the answer. 

Cartoon credit:  Gary Larson

Monday, September 27, 2010

Summing up

Lots going on, and a very neglected blog.  To sum up:

Number Two Son had his seventh birthday last week, and we celebrated by going to Valleyfair, a large amusement park just south of Minneapolis.  When I was a child we used to go here at least once a year, and it was the highlight of the summer.  So much fun!  Since then entrance prices have skyrocketed.  I can remember when it was $12 to get in -- now it's nearly $40!  That, coupled with us now living 200 miles away, have meant that our boys hadn't yet enjoyed the fun themselves.

 But Grandma and Grandpa offered to foot the bill (thanks G&G!) so we took them up on their offer and piled up the monkeys plus cousin Bethany, Uncle Bob and Aunt Linda for an afternoon of rides and fun.

 Graham was very hesitant at first -- the first ride we went on was the Merry Go Round and he didn't even want an up-and-down horse.  But he loosened up and soon was enjoying the Tilt a Whirl, the Scrambler and the kiddie rollercoaster.  Owen was far more brave, and went on all the roller coasters save the very scariest.

 The next day Aunt Kathy babysat the kidlets while hubby and I went on a picnic -- a picnic sponsored by Tour de Farm, an organization that hosts on-the-farm dinners with local produce using local chefs.  This dinner was held at the Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River, Minnesota.  We met up with some old friends, Rick and his lovely wife Jessica, and had a grand time.  The food was just middlin' good (perhaps my expectations were too high), but the company was great and the location and weather beautiful. 

 The cosmos are blooming with such exhuberance, it makes me want to plant hordes of them next year.  These flowers fit right in with my idyll of a cottage garden, very calming and ethereal.  I have numerous garden idylls (cottage garden, production garden, formal English garden, etc.), and sometimes I feel slightly schizophrenic trying to achieve all of them at the same time.  Which will never happen, of course.  What I mainly achieve is a 'somewhat-productive-mostly-weedy-chaotic-mess' garden.

Hubby's brother Caleb and his wife Hope came out this weekend to help with a few home improvement projects.  We replaced all the old, battered screens on the front porch with storm windows, and then cleaned out and repaired the gutters.  Hooray!  The porch looks so much nicer, and we might actually get to use the space for something other than storage now.  Plus, we won't have to cover the screens with ugly tarps during the winter, to keep the snow out.  Double Hooray!

Like every autumn, there is too much to do and not enough time to do it.  Actually, that's usually true for winter, spring and summer too.  We still have two goats to shear (!), the garden to clean, the goat barn to muck out, the yard to tidy, potatoes to dig, etc. etc.  But this week looks like it will be shaping up nicely, so maybe we can hold off a little bit on our traditional first-frost date of September 30.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can you bake an apple pie

Or fifteen?

I picked ten or so apples from one of our trees the other day, and decided to experiment with a mini-pie mold I got for Chistmas last year (Williams & Sonoma).  It was a success -- these are the perfect size for breakfast on-the-go, or dessert with ice cream (and cheese!).

I made some changes to the recipe that came with the mold.  They said to use a food processor to mix the crust dough, and I said 'pshaw!' and just used a wooden spoon and pastry cutter.  They also said to use pre-canned pie filling, and again I said 'pshaw!' and used fresh-cut apples mixed with sugar, cinnamon and flour.  The crescent-shaped pie-thing is made with the last of the crust, when it became too stiff to roll and shape properly.

What would you call these -- turnovers?  pie-lettes?  pocket pies?  They're putsy to make, but they are oh so good.  I think they taste better the second day.  And the third.  And the fourth ...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pot of cream

and cats.

Beyond control

This is what my garden looks like right now.  I haven't weeded in weeks.  I stopped spraying Bt after my sprayer broke two weeks ago.  This is the time of year where it all gets beyond my control.  I am harvesting as much as I can, but there is only enough time in the day for cooking and preserving.  In another few weeks we'll get our first frost, and the squash, peppers, beans and tomatoes will come to a grinding halt.

This is the time of year when I start daydreaming about next year's garden.  Nevermind that this one is still running rampant and wild.  I long for the contained, elegant, controlled gardens I see in my gardening books, the gardens belonging to people who don't have:  a) a job; b) young kids; c) livestock; and d) finite (one might say almost meager) monetary resources.

I've got to make myself focus on the remainder of this year, and get my garden pipedreams under control.  Plenty of time for pipedreaming when the snow is swirling around the home and the wind howls through the eaves, and this year's mistakes are buried under a slumbering blanket of white. 

Wisdom questioned

A dehydrator full of:



and onions.

My husband questioned the wisdom of this.  He questioned it half-way through the drying process, of course.  He thinks putting them all in the dehydrator together means that everything is going to taste like onions in the end.

Is he right?  I really hope he's not right.  I hate it when he's right.

First Day

He loves school.  It's preschool -- what's not to love?  Coloring, games, reading, playtime, lunch, recess, naptime, snack, music. 

I want to go too!

Belated basil

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cooler weather

The camera is not playing nice with the computer, so no pics for this post.  Just a quick check-in to report all is well here on our fourteen acre homestead.

Today was the older boys' first day of school, and tomorrow our youngest begins preschool.  I really am unhappy to see the littlest go, I will miss his late morning snuggle-into-bed-with-us's and his joyful smiles and kisses during the day.  He only goes to preschool three days a week, so it's not like he's leaving for college or anything, but it still reminds me that someday he WILL be leaving for college.  Sometimes I think my kids are growing up too fast.  Other days, when they are running around the house yelling like loony-birds, it feels like I've been a mother to three little boys for eighty-five years.

The weather has begun to cool.  Days in the upper 60's and nights in the low 50's.  The garden is starting to wind down as well.  So far this season I've canned about twenty quarts of tomatoes, seven pints of pickled peppers, twelve pints of dill pickles slices and four pints of pickled beets.  That's it.  I am a bit depressed about my lackluster canning activities this summer.  I am way behind for this year, especially in the green bean department.  Last year I canned twenty-seven quarts of green beans.  This year -- zilch.  My bean harvest has been dismal.  I chose the wrong variety, and pollination was hit-and-miss.  Most of the beans grew in halves -- one half of the pod began bulging with seed while the other half remained thin and limp.  Not good for canning.

On a brighter note, my sunflowers are looking good and the cooler weather has scared away the cabbage moths.  Maybe I'll actually get a few Brussels Sprouts this fall.  The scarlet runner beans are growing large, lovely pods and the pepper harvest is at an all-time high.  The summer squash has started to slow down, but we are still getting a good-sized zucchini every few days or so.  The older chickens have started their molt, meaning no eggs from them for two months.  The newer hens should begin laying early next month.

Last week I took my two young bucklings to the vet to be banded.  (That means castration via rubber-band.  Males, feel free to cross you legs and wince at this point.)  The procedure itself took about five minutes at the vet, then I loaded them back into the dog crate for the drive home.  It's a straight-forward process -- the bands cut off all circulation to that area, and in about three or four weeks the appendage falls off.  (Feel free to wince again.)  Sounds inhumane, but after the first fifteen minutes of discomfort the goats feel very little.  Or so I've been told.  So far my two soon-to-be-wethers are acting perfectly normal, with no care in the world beyond the usual -- eating, bleating, eating, half-heartedly chasing their herdmates, eating, drinking a bit and, well, more eating.

Tonight I harvested my basil.  I probably should have done it a few weeks ago, but better late than never.  I currently have a kitchen table full of basil stalks (you could see proof of this yourself if the blankety-blank camera cable was working properly), and that part of the house smells heavenly.  I'll hang some up to dry but will try to chop and freeze most of it.  I love the flavor basil gives to chicken stock and I might try to experiment with some pesto and bruschetta dishes this winter.  Anybody got a good basil and pasta recipe you're willing to share?