Friday, November 20, 2009

Winding Down

Still plugging along here.  I should have been outside more the past couple of days, but I just wasn't up to it.  I'm steering into winter mode and spent time with my books down in the basement.  I found my favorite crochet lace bookmark pattern from a 1990 issue of Annie's Attic and sat down and made a bookmark.  Then I perused my copy of Herb Mixtures & Spicy Blends by Maggie Oster that filled me with all sorts of warm ideas.  I'm looking forward to getting out my craft supplies and building up my craft inventory for selling at the farmers market next year.  I am really going to try to be more focused and business minded.  I recognize that this is my problem -- I'm an artist at heart, not a business person.  It's really difficult for me to deal with the numbers, but I am certain I can learn.

Today I worked at picking up more brush on the east side of the front yard and started building a brush fence -- another idea from one of my fence books.  Should look pretty good when it's a bit higher.  Then I helped Tom with the bathroom toilet.  We've been having a horrible time with the main floor toilet acting like it's plugged up, so Tom went to the hardware store and bought a new wax ring, and we took the toilet off the pipe and checked out the situation.  Thankfully, it was just a bad mineral build up that was quickly corrected.  (I was glad I decided not to wash the bathroom floor yesterday.)  After the toilet was re-installed, I bleached down the whole bathroom; that's one less thing to do before Thanksgiving.

I finally pulled my seven pound bag of cranberries out of the freezer, made cranberry sauce and canned it.  This year I ran the berries through the food mill to screen out the skins and fed them to the chickens.  They really liked them.  I kept one jar in the fridge -- I love homemade cranberry sauce. 

My young cousin, Ivan, stopped by tonight for a visit.  He is staying by Dad and plans to go hunting tomorrow.  Tom is going to go out, too.  It's too bad there aren't many deer.  Tom was lucky to get the little buck he did get, but I would sure like some more meat in the freezer.  We've hardly seen any deer this year.

Wednesday we missed Special Olympics as Lara, Ed and I went to the dentist.  Thankfully everyone had good checkups.  On the way home as we were driving by the field, I noticed that there were several trees down at the north end of the field.  Tom went out after supper to check it out and came back saying that the beaver is back in business.  Well, beavers have to eat, too.  I will hate trapping him if we start getting flooded; I'm rather fond of that persistent critter.

For Thanksgiving dinner we are going to go by Dad.  My sister, Mary, and her crew (whoever makes it back home, that is) is coming, too.  That will be alot of fun.  I will bring candied sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing -- just a little as Tom and most everybody else likes regular bread stuffing -- deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, and maybe a pie or two. Tom is going to make dinner roll dough in the bread machine.  Dad likes to make the turkey, and he usually bakes a pumpkin pie that he gets from the Schwan's truck.  Mary is going to bring a load of food, too, and I am sure everyone will be happy.  Times like these remind people of the importance of family.  Did you notice how each of us is contributing to the dinner?  A family feast doesn't have to break the bank when people work together. 

Well, it's getting late so I'll leave off for now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

That Little Voice

Odd occurrences of late are starting to pile up.  Do you remember me telling you about the unmarked white helicopter that hovered over our house a while back?  Well, even earlier this year I received an agricultural survey from our the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection that wanted to know all sorts of details about my farm.  Now, just last year (or maybe the year before -- I can't recall exactly) I received a FEDERAL so-called Ag Census that I HAD to fill out under THREATEN OF FINE and return,  and I was really pissed off about that.  And since I am not viewing ANYTHING from ANY government with favor lately, I threw the state survey in the trash and forgot about it until yesterday.  That was when I received a TELEPHONE CALL from DATCP about where was the survey, and oh, so friendly, the survey questions were asked even though I politely and succinctly told the inquisitioner what I thought of government.  I suppose I honestly would have shrugged the whole thing off except for an instant during the conversation when the inquisitioner mentioned "78 acres".  Now, 78 acres is approximately the number of acres I own.  I did NOT give the inquisitioner that information so she had to be looking at information about my farm that had already been compiled.  THAT raised the hair on the back of my neck and set off alarm bells.  I seriously believe that SOMETHING, folks, IS BEING PLANNED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR THOSE OF US WHO FARM, and I will wager that whatever it is, it is NOT going to be in our favor.  On one of the forums I frequent another farmer mentioned having a similar experience.   Keep your eyes and ears open, and post your experiences on the Internet to alert others as to what is happening to you.  Maybe we can figure out what the plan is.  I don't know if this is happening just in Wisconsin, or if it is nation wide.  I only know that I have a very bad feeling about this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

About Making and Canning Sauerkraut

Some people are asking me where is the Part II  for my Making Sauerkraut in a Crock post.  If you scroll down the right hand side of this blog you will find a "Special Links on This Blog" heading.  Under that heading you will see "Making Sauerkraut in a Crock Part I" and "Canning Sauerkraut in a Pressure Canner PART II".  Canning Sauerkraut in a Pressure Canner IS THE FOLLOW UP POST to Making Sauerkraut in a Crock. Hope this clears up any confusion that may be out there. 

Monday, November 09, 2009

Indian Summer

I got a lot done today.  I picked up the last two big logs out front and put them on my pole pile.  Then I started working on the chicken coop.  I actually finished shoveling it out and laying down clean wood shavings by supper time.  I put the bedding in the garden boxes, around the blackberries, and around the rhubarb.  The chickens were very nosy about what I was doing inside the coop and were under my feet most of the time.  I opened the coop window and aired it out well -- I needed to after I took the broom and swept all the cobwebs from the rafters.  Talk about dusty!  The new wood shavings on the floor and in the nest boxes smell great.  I get a lot of pleasure from having a clean chicken coop.  I am going to go through my fabric bin and make a nice curtain to hang in front of the nest boxes, and a dark thermal one to hang over the big window to act as a solar curtain.  I read about solar curtains in a little book about easy solar projects I bought from Knowledge Publications called Sunshine to Dollars.  The coop should stay nice and warm this winter now that I have the leaf bags stacked up around the outside, too.  The bags don't go all the way up the outside walls -- just half-way -- but I think what is there is enough of a wind barrier and insulation.  I was hoping to get the last of the garlic, potato onions and shallots planted, but I finished with the chicken coop too late.  Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow -- is another day.  Thanks Goodness for Indian Summer!

I wandered around the dashboard and discovered that missing Followers is an outstanding issue that Google is working on so I will try to be patient.  I did have Friend Connect working briefly, but I saw that it, too, was missing when I logged on, so I deleted it and put the Followers widget back on. I hope they fix the bug soon.

Working outside feels so good.  I will miss the outdoors when the deep snows come.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Well, I'm not sure what I did, but I finally got my Followers back.  I did have to delete the original widget and go with the Google Connect, but I guess you periodically have to upgrade widgets the same as Microsoft forces you to upgrade your version of Windows -- regardless of your wishes. 

It was a slow day.  In fact, after lunch I actually took a long nap; must have needed it.  I'm glad I missed the Chicago Bears losing another game. 

I've been reading Sharon Astyk's new book, A Nation of Farmers.  I really like it; it's thought provoking and not preachy.  When peak oil books get preachy, they lose me.  I've read a couple of books about building communities post oil collapse where the models were based in the UK and I couldn't even finish reading them because I got sick of the "degenerate Americans" slant. 

There is a part in Sharon's book that discusses how little Americans cook their food that I found particularly interesting.  I was shocked at the statistics, probably because I have always cooked and can't imagine people not cooking.  Maybe cooking is something you have to learn from parental example; I don't know.  My parents were children of the first Great Depression.  My father was raised on a farm, and while they were poor, they fared better than my mother did.  She was born in rural Louisiana and she often went hungry.   I believe that early experience of my  mother colored her perception of food.  She was always very concerned that there be "enough" food in the house.  Food and cooking were very important to her.  When she passed away from complications of diabetes the picture we put of her on remembrance cards was of her smiling as she basted a turkey.  When I was 17 and started dating, she took me into the kitchen and taught me how to fry chicken; she said it was the only thing I needed to know how to cook.  (She was right!)  From my mother I learned that cooking was a skill integral to keeping a home and raising children. 

Over the years I have refined my ability to cook from scratch.  When my husband and I bought our first house, we built garden boxes for veggies and herbs in the back yard and planted elderberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and rhubarb as landscape plants around the fence line.  It took me 20 years, but by the time we sold the house, the garden was just beautiful, and my gardening skills and food preservation skills were almost second nature.  The freezer was always filled with venison my husband hunted or beef and chicken I bought from the butcher (it's hard to find a good butcher in the city, but not impossible), and I had shelf upon shelf of home canned fruit and beans.  I canned and prepared food for the week on weekends.  I never had a hard time cooking from scratch.  My husband and I worked full time -- he worked nights while I worked days -- and we raised three children, two of which were severely handicapped, and we always had the time to cook from scratch.  I think Tom likes cooking better than I do; I'm more of a baker than a cook.  It isn't difficult.  I think people who don't cook are just lazy; they don't want to make the effort to plan their meals. 

Sharon's points about the pros of cooking from scratch are well taken.  Many times I had teachers ask me what I did because my children, despite their handicaps, were hardly ever sick compared with their peers.  I believe it was because we cooked our food from scratch using wholesome ingredients.  We did not fill our kids with preservative laden garbage.  Anyway, the book is a good one, and I recommend you read it.

Take care, and have a good week!

Tidbits and Dumplings vs. Mashed Potatoes

Well, I'm really getting frustrated with not being able to fix my Followers widget here on the blog.  I did try to use Google Connect, but that showed up as a blank, too, and so I deleted it.  I am not too keen on Facebook take-offs anyway, especially as I really don't like Facebook.  I have a Facebook account but just can't seem to get into the "social networking".  Maybe I'm more of a hermit than I think I am.  I am glad I was able to upload and embed the bowling ramp video though.

I've been working hard to finish raking up the leaves and picking up brush in the "fire safe zone" around the house while the weather holds.  Indian Summer kicked in today with temps in the 50's F.  I didn't even need a sweater to work outside.  I almost got to where I could work on the garden boxes in back of the house, but Tom decided he wanted to go to the American Legion fund raising dinner so I had to put off the garden boxes till tomorrow.  I sure hope I can finish all the field work.

The dinner was GREAT.  There was a steady stream of people either coming in to eat or taking out orders.  There was sauerkraut, dumplings, gravy, pork tenderloin, biscuits, and choice of chocolate brownie or pumpkin tort for dessert -- all served family style and all you could eat.  You should have seen the kids chow down.  I was flabbergasted at Lara, and even Ed didn't need much prodding.  What was even better though was that Tom had gone to the Legion Hall yesterday and made the dumplings with a bunch of the guys.  It was a nice outing.  This dinner was the Hall's biggest fund raiser event for the year.  The Hall doesn't have a handicap entrance, but we were able to get Lara's wheelchair down into the basement eating area ok as it was only about three steps.  The competition between the Butternut and Park Falls Legion Halls was funny, as well:  Each Hall placed an ad in the newspaper right next to each other.  Butternut bragged that they were "all you could eat" and had "dumplings", while Park Falls served "plates" and "mashed potatoes".  The argument was that you can eat mashed potatoes any day, but dumplings were "special"! LOL.

Have you seen the documentary, Food, Inc., that just came out on DVD?  It was good; I actually thought it would have more bite to it, but it is worth watching, if you get a chance to see it. 

Be safe!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Nice Surprise

When we went to Special Olympics bowling this past Wednesday we got a nice surprise -- The Salvation Army is going to buy the bowling ramp we need in order for Lara to be able to bowl with the other athletes.  Feit's Lanes has agreed to keep the bowling ramp there for us.  Lara was SO happy!  The coaches have already received training on how to assist her while using the ramp.  The announcement was a surprise for Lara:

Well that was a wish that quickly came true!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Another Year

My favorite cake is German Chocolate, and most years I only make it on my birthday -- that would be today :D.  The recipe is from Meta Givens Encyclopedia of Cooking which is my favorite cookbook set.  I was glad I took this picture after I frosted it yesterday because today there already isn't much of it left!  The weather is gray and damp but my heart is warmed from the cards and gifts I've received from friends and family, and even though gifts are not important, I do appreciate them.  Thank you!  (Now I think I'll settle down and read some of Carla Emery's book, The Encyclopedia of Country Living that My Own True Love gave me this morning -- and have a piece of cake. . . .

Monday, November 02, 2009

Is It Really November?

I can't believe how fast this year is flying.  There is so much work I want to do and it seems as if there just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.  Today, I worked in the front yard raking leaves.  I managed to get half of it raked into piles, and some of it put on the compost pile, but now it is supposed to rain-snow tomorrow and  I don't know if I'll get back to it.  At least the chickens had fun scratching the ground behind me. 

The other day Tom took me for a walk in the woods to show me where he found another chaga growing, and I noticed then how many broken tree branches there were laying around.  I told him all we need to do for firewood next year is drag out the fallen wood.  I was surprised how much damage an early snow could cause when the trees still had their leaves. 

Tonight Lara, Ed and I finished up the Halloween candy and our Harry Potter Butter Beer -- 2 liters of good cream soda with 1 cup of Butterscotch Schnaps.  While we don't get any trick-or-treaters out here in the woods, we always have some Halloween fun.   

Well, I think I'll hit the sack early tonight.  Talk to you soon!