Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feast of St. Andrew

I like old customs, and one of the customs I grew up with was the Christmas Novena that started on the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30) and ran till Christmas Day. According to tradition, if you said the following prayer 15 times a day from the Feast of St. Andrew to Christmas Day, you would receive whatever you were praying for. I actually have never tried doing this novena, but here is the prayer if you care to say it:

Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the Most Pure Virgin Mary at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe O my God, to hear my prayers, and grant my desires (here you ask for what you want), through the merits of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(Imprimatur, Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York, NY, February 6, 1897)

I just want to tell you that some of the Novena prayers I am familiar with are very powerful, so I guess the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for", is a good caution.

It has been very cold here. Tom went out hunting but didn't even see any deer. Now the poor guy has a cold.

I have been very busy deep cleaning the house -- it's always hard to keep the house really clean during the warm months because of being out in the field all the time, so I look forward to the arrival of cold weather. Boy, does the basement need to be organized! I usually do a pretty good job of keeping the main floor the way I like it, but the unfinished part of the basement does get neglected. I have piles of "stuff" everywhere and that is bad feng shui for sure. Like everybody else I could sure use some money so I will soon have the whole house sparkling and the wealth areas of the house enhanced. And I hate it when I can't find books I want to refer back to -- I am looking for two craft books that I bought from Gooseberry Patch a few years ago to look for Christmas gift ideas and I can't find either one of them. I just hate that when that happens. It's like the pot lid I was looking for a couple of weeks ago: I searched high and low for that dumb pot lid and couldn't find it, and then two days ago while I was looking for something else, I found it! I think as one gets older being organized becomes a more important part of life as it helps one maintain one's equipoise. Got to watch that high blood pressure!

I haven't made it out to the woods yet to start gathering those fence posts, but it is still on my list. I figure that working out in the woods and working out on my Nordic Track exercise machine will help whittle down my weight. My doctor changed my high blood pressure medicine and it does not help with my water retention as the old medicine did. I am drinking parsley tea throughout the day but the weight is coming back on. I am faithfully on a 1,000 calorie a day diet so I know the gain is from fluid. It's too bad my elderberries weren't big enough this year to collect leaves from -- elderberry tea is the best diuretic I know of.

I ordered my potato seed from Moose Tubers yesterday. Holy Fright, has the price of seed gone up! 40 pounds of organic potatoes cost about $85! I am going to cut those tubers into smaller pieces where possible and chit them before I plant in an effort to get more plants. I really mean to plant up my whole field (except where I want to range the chickens) with potatoes, corn, wheat and oats. I'll sell the potatoes and save the grain for animal feed and the following year's seed. Most of the veggies will come from the garden boxes in back of the house and the high tunnel. Which reminds me that I need to bring in some feed sacks from the garage so I can sew up some grow bags for tomatoes to hang in the high tunnel. And that reminds me that I need to cut some wood posts to build a trellis to hang the grow bags from! The Circle of Life -- one thing always leads to another. . . .

I have one gift basket to get for my sister and her family, and then the Christmas shopping is done. $500 for Christmas this year (roughly $100 per person). That covers all gifts. I already have most of the food we will eat canned or in the freezer, so a Christmas turkey will be the biggest food expense. That amount is 1/3 what we spent last year. We live on a fixed income and I worry about expenses for next year -- I don't see the bottom yet in the economy.

Well, stay warm and I'll talk to you soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The thermometer this morning read a frosty 10F. Everything was heavy with hoarfrost that didn't melt till around 11 a.m. The trees looked so pretty. I bundled up, went outside, and unloaded from the van the cement blocks I bought yesterday. I bought 25 of them and stacked them around the camp fire ring I set up a few weeks back for boiling maple sap down. I had just enough blocks to make a three wall enclosure around the fire ring to keep the wind, rain and snow out. I laid two doors across the top of the blocks for a makeshift roof, and I covered the whole thing with a large tarp. That should keep out the wet. I will keep a path to the rig dug open as the snow falls and I should have no problems getting out to the fire ring and uncovering it so I can start boiling down sap come March. Hopefully I worked off a few calories lugging those blocks! I was glad to get the job done because the weather forecast is calling for 1-3" of freezing rain starting tonight. Yuck!

Went to the eye doctor today and finally got my eyes checked. My prescription had changed quite a bit. Saw my brother-in-law there, too! He sure gets around LOL!

After the eye doctor I went grocery shopping. I simply cannot believe the price of basic food staples! The tab was almost $165 and I bought NO meat. A gallon of cooking oil was almost $12. Same for a 3 lb. block of cheese slices. Flour was nearly $5.50 for 10 lbs. A 10 lb. sack of rice was nearly $13. I bought a small bottle of green olives for making deviled eggs for Thanksgiving and it was ON SALE for $1.93. Butter was on sale for $2.50 a pound. Everyone I saw in the store was reading labels and comparing prices. And if you look at what is on the shelves to "compare" prices with, all you see is crap -- generic brand packaged goods of questionable quality. From past experience I can tell you that these unknown cheap generic brands are terrible to cook with. Once I bought a generic type of cheese, supposedly like Velveeta, to melt for making macaroni and cheese and that stuff never did melt. It burned, but it did not melt. People better plan on digging up their back yards BIG TIME this Spring and planting gardens.

If we don't get that freezing rain, I think tomorrow I'll go cut those fence posts from all the tree top limbs that are down. If the weather's bad I'll study the plans for the free range poultry skids. I just might run ducks in a skid and see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Kraut Question From Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: Only once have I had "foaming" and "fizzing", and that was because I used wet cabbage (cabbage that was too fresh and had a lot of water content) and the fermenting temperature was warmer than what is desirable (above 72F). Did you have a strong acrid smell? I would leave the batch and wait to see what it ultimately looks like after six weeks and you skim off the mold and top 2" of kraut. The kraut just may be "strong". Don't give up on it yet. If, after you check it out, half your container or more is slimy or gray in color and doesn't smell right, then dump it, clean and sanitize your container, and start over. Sometimes it just doesn't turn out. (Sorry I answered your question so late -- for some reason I just found it and could not reply to you directly or even post a comment underneath yours).

Election Day

Today is Election Day. It is also my birthday, and like countless other Americans I went to my polling place and voted for Change. I believe that America can rid herself of corrupt politicians and the corruptive influences rampant in the halls of our Government. I believe that We The People can rebuild America's economy from the LOCAL LEVEL UP to create a stronger, more equitable and sustainable economy. I believe that a new paradigm of just governance is forming here, and it is a good one based on community service. We The People can prevail to raise America from her adolescence and propel her into glorious adulthood. It will not be easy, and I have no doubt there will be much suffering and hardship to endure for many years to come. But our national soul with all our ideals are intact, and our national heart still beats strongly. God Bless America! God Bless Us All!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Saints Day

Our Sarah called this morning from Afghanistan. Tom talked to her. He said she sounded good and told him she wanted cookies. I guess everybody that is getting cookies is sharing them around. Sarah's unit got a gift box from somewhere and when the goodies were divied up Sarah got a pair of hand knit socks. She really likes them. Sooooo, I spent all day making cookies and Tom asked me if I could knit socks. In between cookie batches I worked on the laundry. That is half done. Maybe tomorrow I'll finish cleaning out the chicken coop.

Yes, that's right! I finally gathered up the nerve to go in the coop. You would have laughed: I had a long-handled broom in one hand to poke things with and my machete in the other hand to start swinging. I was banging the walls and tapping around the doors and in nooks and crannies like crazy. And thank God, so far I haven't come across any snakes! You know, I am STILL having nightmares about snakes. I've raked the leaves away and cut down all the brush from around the coop. We have a couple of trees down in the woods that I can easily get to now that everything has died back for the season so I think I'll cut a couple of smaller tree limbs for fence posts and put the chicken wire back up. I am really thinking about only having the fence right around the coop to deter night predators and just letting the chickens out to run around wherever they want during the day. Our Ag Extension Agent thought that keeping the chickens under the trees was a good idea -- they eat bugs, scratch up the duff layer which allows tree seedlings to grow better, and the chickens stay cooler while adding fertility to the soil. They are easy enough to train to return to the coop at night. I don't know though, there are dogs in the neighborhood that do occasionally get loose, and letting the chickens run without a perimeter fence may not be a good idea. Of course, I could always buy that .22 rifle I want and shoot any dog that goes after my chickens. Well, I'm too tired to crunch this topic any more tonight. Talk to you later!