Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter to the Old Year

Dear 2010,

I'll make this short:

You totally sucked and I'm glad to see the back of you!  You were the third lousy year in a row for me, and all I can say is I will forget you as soon as possible.  My Solar Return astrology chart for this year says that the majority of my planets have now moved back into "balance" so I am hopeful of the future, even though the shadow of my second Saturn return waits in the wings of October 2013 and I am not looking forward to that time rhyme because my first Saturn return just about killed me.

While I did recognize the numerous difficult spiritual opportunities you hosted for me this year, there's nothing that says I had to like them.  I don't.  Nevertheless, I feel that I have successfully assimilated the lessons' essences (I re-read Gregg Braden's book, Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer) and can honestly say that I harbor you no ill feelings.  

So, good-bye 2010 as you settle into your place on your appointed square in the World of Time.  I will not miss you.  In fact, my thoughts have already moved on to more pleasant fare --

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Prayer

On this Christmas Day whatever your beliefs,  I send you:

LOVE like food to fill you,

PEACE like a blanket to warm you,

GNOSIS like a strong house that keeps you safe,

JOY in the labors of your soul which glorify Almighty God.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Cold Continues

It was -20F this clear and sunny morning without the windchill, and with little wind, it was actually not bad being outside.  The chickens were clucking and cooing inside the coop when I brought them their fresh water, and I swear they were telling me to hurry up and give them their oats and corn.  Too bad all the eggs I collected were already frozen.  I'm surprised some of the hens are still laying. 

I spent the day comparing seed prices.  It feels good to plan this year's garden.  I even sent off an order to Woodstock Nursery for three Haralson apple trees and one Chestnut crabapple tree.  I hesitated to try this nursery because I favor standard rootstocks over semi-dwarf and dwarf rootstocks for this area, but it is a Wisconsin nursery so there is a good chance the trees will grow here even if they are on semi-dwarf rootstock.  We'll see.  If I like how the trees grow, I'll buy from Woodstock again.  I'm also working on a tree order for my favorite tree nursery, St. Lawrence Nursery, for more trees from them, as well.  I'm thinking about getting their pear tree package, two Golden Russet apple trees, two Westfield-Seek-No-Further apple trees, and one grafted plum tree each of Toka, Waneta, and Pipestone.  The idea is to dig up the trees currently in the orchard section (what's left of them), put them in pots to grow in a sheltered spot close to the house so they hopefully can recover from the deer damage they have sustained, and later be replanted.  The new trees will take their place, and this time I have the fencing to surround each tree so the deer can't get at them.    I would like to make a single order, but it's easier for me financially to buy a little at a time, i.e., an order per month; ordering this way doesn't stress the budget as much.  I figure that I should have everything I want ordered by planting time.  I'll be watching for a grafting class to be offered that I can attend so if the trees I dig up from the orchard section are not salvageable, maybe I can use the rootstock to graft on new scion wood. 

I've been thinking about what I want to plant for the market garden.  It's my hunch that this year will be another cool year.  I know, I know -- we were lucky that this past growing season went into October without a hard freeze, but that is not the usual weather for this locale.  I'm betting on another year with off-season frosts so I'm going to plant heavily with root crops, peas, and greens.  I'm also going to try planting grains to use for animal feed because the cost of feed is skyrocketing.  I'll plant barley, oats, mangels, dent corn, and maybe some wheat.  Dad is going to show Mary and I how to use the tractor, so I'll practice by turning over some more of the old pasture behind the farm house that we want to reclaim from the woods for that planting.  I have already tried growing grains and they have grown well for me, but I have not harvested the grains -- just turned them under as cover crops for soil enrichment.  I will need to find some way to store the grains, but it will be great to grow my own animal feed. 

Even when it's cold, there is always lots to do to keep busy. 

Till next time, be safe and well!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cold and Colder

Well, we really got snow!  Only about eight inches, but the wind is brutal and is still blowing and making snow drifts.   Highway 2 was closed up in Ashland and most people are being smart and staying off the roads.  I bundled up and took Dad a plate of lasagna; I was ready to ask him to show me how to use the tractor to plow out his drive because he has a doctor appointment tomorrow morning, but one of our neighbors had already come and cleared out a path for him.  Even with the snow still blowing and drifting I think he will be able to get out with his truck tomorrow morning. I told him to call me if he thinks he'd rather not drive because our truck has 4-wheel drive and his doesn't. "No, no, no," -- he never wants anyone to help him. But I think he'll be ok. 

The wind chill was around -35F last night and I was half afraid to look inside the chicken coop this morning when I trudged through the snow drifts to open up the coop, but all the chickens looked dandy.  The thermometer I have on the wall registered the temperature at 18F -- not too bad!  I forked over the bedding, set up the fresh waterer, checked the feeder, and tossed some oats and corn into the bedding for them to scratch out.  There was only one egg in the nest boxes, but it was still warm and I carefully tucked it in my coat pocket.  Then I banked more snow around the outside of the coop.  It is supposed to be even colder the next three nights.  When the cold is sustained for several days at a stretch, that's when you have to pay closer attention to your animals.  Chickens normally (especially if you buy breeds that are known to be cold hardy) can take cold weather pretty well, but if you get below -10F you have to check on them more often.  I like giving them  fresh warm water twice a day and extra carbs in the feed -- like oats.  A more experienced chicken farmer told me that when the cold lasts more than two days he goes out at 2:00 a.m. with a lantern and wakes them all up to get them moving around for a couple of minutes.  He doesn't heat his coop in the winter and slightly overstocks his chickens in the coop area believing that the body heat from the increased numbers of chickens is enough to keep them from freezing.  I like being able to ask more experienced farmers questions, and I listen to what they say.  There's always something to learn even if you may not agree on procedure.

I got the spinning wheel from Dad today.  He told me what parts are missing so I'll go online and see what I can find.  He told me that he thinks someone made this wheel more for a decoration than for actual spinning, but I ought to be able to get it to operate with a little work.  That's good enough for me, so for the time being I'll put it in the basement corner.  The wood is stained a lovely dark walnut color.  I really like it.

The Christmas cookies are going fast.  Certain people have even cleared off the top of the freezer so they can make cookie raids quick and silent.  Well, it is Christmas time, and cookies make some of the best Christmas memories! 

 Be safe and warm!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Tom got a deer today bow hunting!  It was a good sized buck; not a big rack, but he was pretty big.  I know because I had to help Tom drag the critter out of the woods.  Why do hunters always bag their prey just before dark? Oh, well.  We finally have some venison for the freezer.

Went to the feed store yesterday and loaded up on chicken supplies since we are supposed to get a foot of snow this weekend.  The increase in the price of layer mash was enough to give me heart palpitations. I sure don't like what I'm seeing at the grocery and feed stores.  I bought a bag of oats to add to the daily feed.  Oats will give the chickens some extra carbs to help them keep warm. I banked the bags of wood chips I use for bedding against the walls to act as insulation, and the bags of feed stacked in the small storage section should act as insulation, too, so this weekend when the temps get down to -0F and below, the coop should be cozy. 

I baked Christmas cookies all day today for us, Dad, and to send to Sarah.  The house sure smelled good.  I made chocolate chip, chocolate chip raisin, fudge and peanut butter chip cookies, gingerbread men, and dark and light almond bark.  Lara wants me to make some Hersey Kiss cookies and brownies, and I want to try making Pfefferneuse -- that's something I haven't tried baking before. 

Oh, I almost forgot -- my sister found me a spinning wheel at the thrift store (her second home) for $25!  My Dad is looking it over and I'lll pick it up tomorrow when I take him some good chicken soup and Christmas cookies.  A spinning wheel AND a loom.  Wow!  And to think that both items came to me out of the blue.  Must be meant to learn how to use them.  I think that's very interesting.  I'll post a picture as soon as I can.

Well, I'm pooped from dragging that deer out of the woods so I'll leave off for now.  Be safe and well!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

December Already

I can't believe how fast the time flies.  The days are just plain too short!

Tonight I went with my sister to her daughter's Madrigal Dinner Concert.  It is such a pleasure to watch our young people growing up.  Here is a Christmas treat video for you that I took at the concert.  It isn't very long -- only two carols are sung.  My niece, Melissa, starts out the second carol, O Holy Night.  With times being what they are, it's wonderful to hear music that lifts one's spirit.

Lara's check up for her broken leg went very well.  I wish I could show you the x-rays.  Her leg is mending beautifully, and the doctor says she does not need to wear the splint any more.  She will go for another x-ray the end of this month, and hopefully that will be it.  The doctor seemed very pleased, and he thinks that Lara will be able to bend her leg at the knee as before.  So, another couple of weeks and I'll breathe easier.  We even got the ok to go back to bowling with Special Olympics.  All of the young people were glad to see Lara again. I like to see her socialize with other young people.

I am finishing up the canning.  I took the fruit out of the freezer and canned blueberries and blackberries and cherries for baking.  I also made some blueberry and blackberry juice; some blackberry jam; and I found one bag of apricots that I made a batch of jam with, too.  That leaves the rhubarb, some strawberries, and one bag of raspberries that I plan to made pie filling with.  I haven't tried canning pie filling before so that will be interesting.  I may take some of the blackberry juice and try making some blackberry cordial; that sounds like a good drink for a cold night.

It has been around 15F here for the last few days, and it has been snowing lightly.  The chickens don't like going outside of the coop.  Every morning when I bring them fresh water, I open the door and they are there waiting for me and talking to me with their soft voices.  They look very nice with their new feathers.  I turn over their bedding and check their food.  They watch everything I do.  They like the warm water I bring them.  I still get between 1 and 3 eggs a day.  It's barely enough for us to eat so right now I have no spare eggs to sell.  This is usually the poorest time of year for chickens to lay.  I don't push my birds to lay because I'd rather they spent their winter energy on growing their new feathers and keeping warm.  They will start laying better soon enough.  Everyone needs a vacation, right?  I love my chickipoos.

I took Eddy to see the new Harry Potter movie at the theater in Park Falls.  There were quite a few people there.  It was an ok movie; I hope the second part is better.  I am looking forward to seeing the new Tron movie and the remake of True Grit.  Those look really good. 

With the weather being what it is, it's nice to stay inside and fix a crock pot of soup and have a cup of tea.

Especially when I'm working on next year's garden plan and browsing all the seed catalogues that are coming in the mail. 

Here are the empty seed packets from last year:

As soon as I get the garden layout worked out, I'll post it for  you.  Until then --

Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

It's said that home is where your heart is. 

From our house to yours, we send you Blessings on this Thanksgiving Day!

"Let not your spirit be troubled on account of the times; for the Holy and Great One has appointed days for all things."
                                  Enoch's Book of Admonition for His Children
                                  Book of Enoch, Chap. 92, v. 2

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

End Hunger Campaign

As someone who promotes local foods in our rural community, I was very interested in The Washington Journal show this morning that interviewed actor Jeff Bridges, who was promoting his charity, The End Hunger Network.  I can't believe I've never heard of this program which has been around for nearly 30 years.  It was so uplifting to hear about a non-partisan program that seeks only human welfare and not some political agenda. What I liked about this program is that it seeks to work with existing organizations so there is no duplication and waste of resources.  The statistics on hunger in America are mind numbing.  If you are interested in this topic, check out the  Food Research and Action Center and the web sites.  Way to Go, Jeff!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Another Day and Fond Farewell

Today I had a follow up with the doctor and the good news is I lost 12 pounds and dropped my blood pressure 8 points.  The bad news is she wants me to see an ENT and neurologist because I'm having dizzy spells and ringing in the ears.  She says that periodically falling down with no apparant symptoms is not normal.  And she upped my blood pressure medicine.  Rats.  I'll keep working on the weight and maybe I will or maybe I won't take the new dose of medicine.  I have to admit it -- I'm a notoriously bad patient when it comes to taking medicine.  But I will see the other doctors because I know I need to have my hearing checked -- what? what did you say? -- and seeing a neurologist can't hurt.  The doctor is also going to order a scan of Lara's leg just to make sure she doesn't have a blood clot.

My second order of Tattler canning lids came today.  I figure I'll need to make at least one more order to have enough lids for all of my jars.  I've been buying about 9 dozen of each size at a time and that number is manageable with our household budget.  I haven't tried them yet since I plan to use up all the other lids I have first.  I figure I can recoup the cost of the lids in only two years of use.

My neighbor, Beth, stopped by today with a farewell gift of homemade cookies and candy.  She and her husband live here in the summer and then roam in their RV visiting friends and family in warmer climes over the winter.  I know a lot of people like to do that, but it wouldn't suit me; I'm more of a hermit.   I admire people who tend to be flexible like that.  I, on the other hand, look forward to fires in the wood stove on frosty mornings and putzing in my basement when the snow blows working on various crafts.  This year it will be learning how to use my loom.  I will miss Beth and look forward to seeing her next Spring.  And the cookies and candy are delicious!  Of course, Tom was the first to "sample" them LOL.  Did I mention that food doesn't last long around here? 

The crescent moon was so beautiful tonight.  I wish my camera took better pictures at night, but I always seem to jiggle the camera and night pictures rarely turn out the way I'd like them to. I should ask my Brown-Eyed Baby (a.k.a. Soldier Girl a.k.a. Cousin It a.k.a Sarah) what kind of camera she would recommend since she took that photography program over in Scotland. 

Indian Summer starts on November 11th.  Watch it be freezing cold and snowy!  I shouldn't complain though.  We've had really nice weather for the most part of this Autumn (excepting the October 27th over the land hurricane).  Normally we have snow on the ground by now.    It would be nice to have a few more nice days for the chickipoos' sake.  Some of them are still growing out new feathers and really cold weather would be hard on them.  They are only laying about 3-5 eggs a day now.  It is good that they can still go out on the grass and in the woods.  They stick pretty close to the chicken coop now and I expect the wood chips in the coop are warmer on their feet.  They are looking very sleek with their new feathers. 

Well, I have to go and exercise so I'll catch you later.  Be safe!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Time for a Breather

Lara's leg is looking much better.  The swelling and bruises on the right leg are almost gone.  The broken left leg is still swollen and warm to the touch, but the horrible bruising on the underside of the leg is not nearly so scary to look at.  The low fever she was running is gone, and her appetite is a bit better.  Thankfully, the urine analysis came back negative so I don't know what caused the fever.   She is still on the cranky side, but improved.  I dropped the Aconite and Arnica, and added Symphytom to the homeopathic remedies, which I give her three times a day.  My sister sent me a bottle of Ethical Nutrients Bone Builder(R) capsules to give her.  They are horse pills so I grind each dose (two capsules) to a powder and mix it into a tablespoon of honey.  Lara has no problem swallowing it this way.  Hopefully, when she gets her next x-ray the bone will be well on its way to being healed.  I am not as afraid of moving her around, but I am putting her to bed earlier and propping that leg up in a fashion that is more to my liking.  We got the bed rail from Amazon yesterday and it is really nice. I still have to order the leg elevation attachment for the wheelchair.  I went to the Quickie wheelchair site, but I'm not sure yet which part to order for her chair.  It will all work out as it is meant to.

I dug out my Solfeggio Healing Tones CD to lower my stress level.  I don't know what it is about that music, but I'm asleep within five minutes of putting on the headphones, and when I wake up, I feel great.  Last night after supper I canned pie cherries and made two batches of blueberry and blueberry-huckleberry jam!

Yesterday being my birthday, Tom bought me The Men Who Stare At Goats, a movie I really like -- and I'm not much for comedies.  If you've read many of the books about remote viewing, you will enjoy the movie even more; it's almost like being part of an inside joke.   He also bought me Sarah Beth Aubrey's book The Profitable Hobby Farm which is something I've had on my wish list for some time now.  I can't wait to sit down and read it.  One sister gave me a lovely candle -- I love getting big candles to use when the power goes out, and another sister renewed my subscription to Dell Horoscope magazine.  I wish I had more time to study astrology.  Then, my good friend, Kimberley out in DC, sent me an Amazon gift card, which she shouldn't have done.  I am grateful to all for their thoughtfulness. 

No German Chocolate birthday cake this year though as I'm working hard to lose weight.

Maybe I'll make some pumpkin pie instead.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

That Time Again

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me-ee, happy birthday to me!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Howl With The Wind

Well, I have to admit that my first experience with a land hurricane was nerve wracking.  While being without electricity is not fun, at least the lack of it doesn't bother me as much as it does the rest of my family.  My biggest concern is for the food stored in the freezer and whether it will spoil before the power comes back on.  This time, fortunately, our electricity returned in time so that no food was lost.  

The way the wind howled through the leafless trees was downright eerie.  Maybe I'm still spooked from the tornado back in July, I was sure glad when the wind finally died down. 

What was worse than the storm though, was what happened next:  Tom found our Lara on the floor  in the morning -- we figure she had been on the floor most of the night -- and she had broken her leg.  What a nightmare!  And it's a bad fracture.  The doctor said that if she was ambulatory, she would have to have a metal plate, screws, and pins to put that leg back together.  But because she has spina bifida and is not ambulatory, the treatment and risks are different.  So, the short of it is that I am on skin breakdown watch for the next 6-12 weeks while her leg slowly mends wrapped in an immobilizer brace.  I'm so stressed I can hardly stand it.  Transferring her in and out of her wheelchair for catheterization is absolute hell.  I am giving her homeopathic remedies Rhus Tox and Arnica for the swelling, Ledum for the horrible bruising, Hypericum for pain, and Calc Phos for the fracture.  In about a week I'll drop the Arnica and add Symphytom and perhaps Silica.  Already the bruising is easing and the Rhus has really helped bring down the heat and swelling.  She is still running a fever but that may be due to a urinary tract infection -- we are still waiting on the results of that test. 

I tell you, I cannot wait for October to be over -- you could probably hear me howl with the wind!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finishing Up The Harvest

Well, the rain has moved in and I haven't made it out to the field, but that's ok.  I'll get out there sooner or later.  The good news is that the temperatures are still not that cold so I can still do any digging I need to do, like hauling dirt from my "dirt hole" and adding it to my garden boxes, and transplanting herb plants, or scratching in some perennial flower seeds.  It is supposed to rain off and on the next couple of days so I expect to dodge rain drops this week. 

I got the sauerkraut canned -- 21 quarts and did it ever turn out good! -- and put the last 6 quarts of zucchini in the freezer.  I hope to steam another bushel of pumpkins tomorrow.

 As for Mama Pea's inquiry:  I have a Mehu Lisa steamer/juicer that I bought from Lehman's for a birthday present to myself, and I steam my pumpkins in that. 

Mehu Lisa Steamer/Juicer and Foley Mill
 (A large pot with a canning rack in the bottom to keep the pumpkins up and out of the water works just as well, if not quicker; you just don't get the distilled pumpkin juice using the pot). First, I take a paring knife or meat fork and poke holes all around the pumpkin.  Then, I try to break the top stem off; if it doesn't come off, that's ok.  I put the pumpkin in the microwave for 8 minutes on high power.  That softens the pumpkin enough to allow me to easily cut it into quarters or eighths (depending on how big the pumpkin is), and put the seeds aside for processing later.  I put the pieces in the steamer and steam them till soft.  I then scrape the meat from the shell, run it through the Foley food mill, and I pack the puree in freezer bags, 2 quarts per bag, and freeze it.  The pumpkin seeds are cleaned and placed in a large container of water.  The viable seeds sink to the bottom, and the "floaters" are carefully scooped out.  The floaters are what I soak in salt water overnight and roast for us to snack on.  The pumpkin shells go out to the compost pile.  I like to save only some of the steamed pumpkin juice and make a couple of batches of my version of Harry Potter's Pumpkin Juice for the kids and me.  Just for Halloween.   

I've been working on harvesting seed:  Garden Sorrel, Black Beauty zucchini, Yellow Warted Crookneck squash, New England Pie Pumpkin, and Ebeneezer onion seed.  I still have Wong Bok and French Breakfast Radish seed to harvest.

 Something is digging up my garlic so I ned to put a heavier mulch over the garlic bed.  Out in the garden boxes, the collards love the cooler weather, and the Italian Flat Leaf Parsley is holding up well.  The Scarlet Nantes carrots are just beautiful.  It was a bumper year for carrots, I think, for everybody I know.  All three of my plantings did great this year.

Talk to you later!

P.S.:  I just realized that I'm missing the base to my Mehu Lisa steamer/juicer in the picture above, so here is another older picture of the whole pot (on the left):

Monday, October 18, 2010

Feast of St. Luke

October 18th has been an important date in my life.  I always feel its approach with a good deal of wariness.  It is the Feast Day of St. Luke in the Calendar of the Saints.  I had the misfortune of attending St. Luke Grammar School from kindergarten through eighth grade.  The experience was very emotionally scarring.  It was my mother's birthday; she would have been 74 -- she died from complications of diabetes back in 1998.  It was the day our Lara lost her sight due to a series of ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunt failures when she was 18 months old, immeasurably complicating her congenital spina bifida/hydrocephalus birth defect.  I was 5 month pregnant at the time with our second child (Soldier Girl).  It was also the day I went to be at the hospital with my sister who was having surgery and was told by the doctor that my dear sister had ovarian cancer.  I still remember my words to the doctor:  "But, she's only 29 years old."  I still remember the look on the doctor's face.  October 18th really sucks for me. 

So, to take my mind off all the bad memories, I steamed pumpkins all day.  I thought I would have finished with more than 10 quarts, but that was all I managed to freeze.  I made my version of Pumpkin Juice:  1 quart orange juice + 2 quarts steamed pumpkin juice + 1/2 cup sugar.  Then, I have a large amount of seeds drying for planting next year, and I have a good amount soaking in salt water overnight -- I'll roast them in the morning.  Roasted pumpkin seeds is a favorite Fall snack around here. 

Tomorrow we'll finish splitting wood for Dad.  He should now have plenty of firewood to last him for the winter. 

I guess there is really something to that saying, "Busy hands make for a happy heart."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Plugging Away

Let's see now:

1.  Garlic planted -- yup

2.  Blackberry trellis repaired -- yup

3.  Proper fence around the Honeycrisp apple tree -- yup

4.  Two handkerchiefs hemmed -- yup

It was a gorgeous October day and a productive one!  No rain is expected for almost another week, so I hope I can finish up the work out in the field.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Good Day's Work

We had another busy day trying to get as much done as we can before the cold weather sets in for good.  Tom and my brother-in-law split wood for my Dad, and I worked in the back yard cleaning up the garden boxes.  I picked out a spot behind the blackberry trellis and a couple of balsam trees to start the new compost pile.  I couldn't believe all the garden trash I hauled to start the new pile, but the boxes look very nice and tomorrow I'll plant the garlic.  I found a new pole to repair the broken end on the blackberry trellis so I'll fix that tomorrow, too. 

I had planned to keep the apple and pear trees over winter in the garden boxes and transplant them to a permanent location next spring, but wouldn't you know it, around sunset two nice sized young bucks meandered into the yard and headed straight for one of the Honeycrisp apple trees. (Tom was ecstatic).  We have about 80 acres of fresh deer browse, a quarter acre deer plot, and three gardens, and they go straight to the one fruit tree I've managed to get to grow in six years! I couldn't believe it.  I ran out the back door and yelled at the one buck.  (For some reason he has only one antler.)  He just looked at me and grabbed a branch so I snatched up my hoe and charged at him.  Of course, the two culprits took off, and I immediately went and got my shovel, some fence posts, and a roll of wire, and in the dwindling dusk set up a poor fence around the tree that I'll put up properly tomorrow.  Sheesh!  No rest for the wicked, I guess. 

With seeds to harvest, sauerkraut to check, handkerchiefs to hem, and weaving books to study on top of everything else, my day's work is surely full.  I have to tell you though that I feel a strange difference in my mental focus.  I am much more, well, focused.  It seems to be easier for me to zero in on whatever task I choose to accomplish and get it done.  It's certainly a welcome new ability.  I find that if I use self discipline to put aside negative thoughts and direct myself to the task at hand that I am far more successful in completing that task.  I can't explain it, but being positive and alert to what transpires around me seems to bring beneficial opportunities to the fore.  The work is not easy and the responsibilities are actually greater, but I am getting things done, and done well.  Must be a Saturn aspect pinging me. 

Oh, well.  I'm too tired to start thinking about where Saturn is right now in my horoscope chart.  I know that when I go to bed I'll fall asleep praying and I'll wake up finishing the prayer.  That's just the way it goes sometimes.

Be safe, and I'll talk to you soon.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Time is Flying

Special Olympics Bowling yesterday was great fun.  We met a new boy who wants to join our group.  He uses the bowling ramp like Lara though he is not in a wheelchair because he is very slight in build and walking is difficult for him.  The bowling ramp is very suitable for him.  It was his first time bowling and I think he enjoyed himself.  Like our Ed, he does not talk.  I gave his grandmother the necessary forms to fill out and send to the Madison office of Special Olympics.  There were seven of the young people bowling and I admit I was a bit overwhelmed with all the noise.  Everyone wanted to talk to me and I was trying to keep an eye on the young people at the same time. 

This morning I finished freezing the carrots, and then I canned the Haralson apples for pies.  I put 24 of them in the refrigerator for fresh eating -- I really like this variety.  Yesterday I canned the bushel of McIntosh as applesauce.  The apple slices I put in the dehydrator are just about dry.  I slipped a few that were done to Lara without her knowing it.  She calls them "Elf Apples" and thinks the fairies leave them for her.  It makes her very happy knowing that fairies come and leave her little presents.  I told her the apples are more likely from the gnome that lives in the chicken coop and she agreed.  That gnome must have sneaked inside the house when I went to gather eggs this afternoon. . . .

I took a stroll after supper out into the front yard and imagined how to landscape it now that the loggers are finished.  I think I could easily put a two-tiered ring of about 10 fruit trees out there and interplant them with flowers and herbs.  It's kind of hard to describe the lay of the land there now because the knoll where my forest garden was is completely different from what it was.  Instead of a rounded knoll, there is more of an incline that slants toward the house, crests, then slopes down somewhat sharply as it faces the house.  I think that slope would be perfect for herbs and flowers while the top rim and south facing back side of the slope could hold the trees.  There would be much work to do to prepare the soil.  Just some more to think about.

The "check engine" light is back on in the van again so tomorrow Tom is taking it back in to the auto shop.  I still think we should just trade it in for a smaller, more energy efficient car that we can use for grocery shopping and doctor visits.  Oh, well.  I don't think anyone will be doing much driving pretty soon anyway so I suppose it doesn't matter whether or not we get rid of "Big Green". 

Gotta go.  Say, did you remember to make your monthly wish list?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Apple Orchard Time

Today was a beautiful Fall day, and after an early lunch Ed and I drove up to Bayfield in search of the year's supply of apples and pears.  Today was the last day of the annual Bayfield Apple Festival and I learned that if you want to buy apples in bulk and get the varieties you want, you need to visit Bayfield's great orchards before the Apple Festival starts.  One of the orchards was already closed; another was completely out of apples; and, I was unable to find Honeycrisp or Northwest Greening apples anywhere.  I wound up buying one bushel of Haralson apples (a variety I have been considering buying to grow in our orchard and was wondering how it tasted) at Bayfield Apple Company, and a bushel of McIntosh apples from Hauser's. Of course, I couldn't forget our usual gallon of apple cider from Erickson's and Lara's yearly bottle of Sweet Apple Wine from Hauser's.  There were no pears to be had anywhere either.  One of the vendors told me that a late Spring frost hit a lot of the orchards very hard and no one that she knew of had any pears this year.  Guess I'll have to buy a peck or two from the grocery store.  Our house is going to smell so good tomorrow.

Speaking of good food, here's a link to download the new non-GMO shopping guide for you. 

Have a great day!


I spent some time this evening looking for weaving books and found some I liked here.  I can't wait to try weaving on my loom.  Right now I'm reading a book called Warping All By Yourself by Cay Garrett.  I like the book; it's easy to understand and the illustrations help alot.  

Cold weather always gets me thinking about crafting.  I got out my pile of handkerchiefs and hand hemmed two of them while I watched the pressure canners.  I really like the fabrics -- bought them from Hancocks of Paducah.  Hancocks has some really beautiful prints. 

Today when I was looking for weaving info, I came across a web site that sells refurbished sock knitting machines.  What an interesting antique tool!  (Tsk, tsk.  There is NO place in this house for me to put one LOL.)  I never saw anything like that before.  It really is a fascinating piece of machinery. 

Saturday, October 02, 2010

That North Wind is Blowing

Brrr!  I've been walking around draped in thermal knits and sweaters all day; you'd think it was the dead of winter.  I don't know why I feel so cold, but I do.  Even with the kitchen warm from all the canning I've been doing, I still feel cold.  Maybe I miss all the trees and psychologically think that the house will be colder now that it is less sheltered (it shouldn't be since the effects of a shelter belt extend approximately 150' depending on the height of the shelter planting and we still have plenty of tall trees around the house that are within that distance).  Still, I do miss the trees and it's going to take me a while to get used to the new views around the property.

The loggers are still working here.  They are in back of the house, nearer to the hay road, and working their way toward the worst of the storm damaged area by the snowmobile trail.  The woods are so open now: there are some nice viewpoints opened down into the big marsh by the little lake that I really like.  I took a stroll to check things out and am very pleased.  Everything looks just like the woodlot management articles I've read says it should.  Tom and I have been discussing what we want to do to the landing areas and skid trails.  We've decided to plant herbs and grasses in the pathways, and plant shrubs or small trees like native plums and juneberries along the edges of the paths.  In the areas that had to be clear cut because of the storm damage, we will plant sugar maples.  Peppermint birch is my second favorite to plant though I know it is harder to grow, but we'll try planting some of those, too.  I'm going to spend a lot of time thinking about landscaping right around the house.  Right now I'm considering moving all of the fruit trees from the field that are still alive and bringing them to be planted around the house.  In between the trees I would have a series of raised bed garden boxes.  We'll see.  I have all winter to graph it all on paper.

I have my two crocks of new sauerkraut bubbling away, and I canned the last of the tomatoes.  Yesterday I worked ALL day canning and freezing carrots, and I still have another big bowl of them to can -- think I'll grate them and can them in pint jars to use for carrot cake.  I put away the dried peppermint and cranberries, and refilled the dehydrator with curly leaf parsley. It sure smells good; I love parsley tea in the winter. 

Tom and I made cheese pirogi this morning.  We had half the batch for supper tonight and they were pretty good.  I think we're finally getting the hang of making them.  I mix the dough and roll it out while he handles the pirogi mold, filling and sealing the dough pieces. 

After supper I went out to the field to get the sunflower heads because tonight is supposed to be so cold I expect just about anything still out in the garden to bit the dust.  Lo and behold, the deer had most everything chomped to bits.  I was able to salvage a couple of the heads though, and I brought them back to dry in the garage. 

While in the garage, I sorted through all of the potato baskets.  I have a half bushel of Red Cloud for seed potatoes, and four full bushels of Red Norlands and Kennebecs left.  With the pie pumpkins and squashes, that should be enough to take to the Grouse Festival on the 9th in Park Falls.  On Monday I will find out about securing a vendor space.  I hope the weather is nice that day. 

Speaking about the weather again, if it is nice tomorrow, I plan to go up to Bayfield and get my apples for the year.  I hope to get a bushel of Macintosh for sauce, a bushel of Honeycrisp for fresh eating, and maybe some Northwest Greening apples for pies.  I always stop at Hauser's to get a bottle of apple wine for Lara and a peck of pears to can.  I like to can my pears in medium syrup and add a piece of candied ginger and a whole clove to the jar -- tastes SO good.

Well, I better stop gabbing.  Take care!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Loggers Are Here

Hiring the loggers has been a very interesting experience.  We are very pleased with the workmanship and skill of the loggers we hired.  They have a good reputation for working with environmentally minded people, and we know from conversing with them that they appreciate the historic value of this farm and are trying their best to log an admittedly difficult area (due to our three wetlands) with the least impact.  We have discussed the matter with them considerably.   They started yesterday on our property utilizing prior landing areas and logging paths throughout the property.  What is extremely aggravating is the fact that someone is constantly complaining about the loggers.  The Sherrif's Police have been out here as well as the town Chairman, and both said they had received complaints about the loggers acting "illegally".  They would not, however, say who was making the complaint.  Well, they aren't acting illegally.   Isn't it interesting how cowards don't have the grit to complain face to face to the people they accuse of wrongdoing?  It's all right though.  I have a pretty good idea who it is doing the complaining.  There is only one person in this neighborhood who thinks he owns everything and can't mind his own business.  On the other hand, the complaints could have come from another logger.  Now, there's only one local logger I know that definitely wanted to log this property and said so.  If I find out that it was this logger, then for sure they will NEVER get any business from this farm.  I would also like to know by what authority the town Chairman acted under to investigate a private logging operation on private property without speaking to the property owner and asking permission to go on their property. 

The chickens are pretty funny about it all:  I had hoped to keep them locked in the coop until the area around it was logged, but the loggers finished the south 40 early and the chickens are all over the place.  I expect they will return to the coop after the machinery stops and the loggers quit for the day.  I have already given them fresh water, feed and a generous amount of scratch to soothe them.  They are watching the big machinery from the opposite end of the house from where the machinery is operating.  I expect their egg laying will be put off a bit, but I don't force my chickipoos when it comes laying eggs anyway.  I will shovel out the coop in a little while and give them plenty of fresh bedding, and they can stay inside the coop tomorrow for sure.  Even Sandy the Swamp Creek Dog is preferring to stay indoors today because of the noise. 

It's a gloomy grey day.

Tom is off to the doctor for a check up.  The kids and I will fix some cornbread and we will have leek and potato soup with salad and cornbread for supper. 

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Fall

Last night we had our first really hard frost.  When I got up this morning the frost was visible on the grass and fog was heavy in the marshes.  Already the colors in the trees are fading fast, and I suspect that the next heavy rain will strip most leaves from the trees.  It is sad that our Fall season is so short because the hardwood trees are so beautiful when they are in color. 

Speaking of rain, the Autumn Equinox brought three days of solid rain with it.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get to the farmers market on Saturday to do the bake sale for our Special Olympics fundraiser because of flooding on the road. Everywhere I looked the water was high.  Sure made me think about what I would do should we become isolated due to flooding.  

But the road didn't flood and Lara and I made it to the farmers market.  It was a great day!  The sun shone.   The air was chilly and the wind was low.  The Fall Harvest Festival in Phillips was in full swing, and everyone was having a good time.  Lara and I dressed in layers, and I brought a blanket to wrap around her legs to keep her warm.  We wore thermal knit long sleeved shirts under our Special Olympics logo shirts, though I suppose what we wore didn't really matter since we wore our jackets and no one could see our shirts.  I bought 5 pounds of fresh cranberries for $10 from Carl, who brought his cranberry sorting machine to "show and tell" for the public, and from Diane at B's Flambeau Acres I bought two kinds of honey butter.  Yum! And it turned out to be a great day for the bake sale because we raised $130.50 for our Northwoods 3-13 Agency!  My hope was to raise $100 and I'm so happy we exceeded that amount!  I also met some interesting people in Phillips who told me about Special Needs services available in the area.  When things slow down some I'll check them out.

Because I needed to take care of Lara, we left the market at noon.  I drove down to Highway 8 and we stopped at the BP station at the intersection there where I filled the van up with gas and took care of Lara.  We drove to Pam Metsala's house and only stayed briefly to pick up a book she sold me called Favorite Rag Rugs.  We took our time driving home because the "Check Engine" light lit up in the dashboard and I was afraid we might wind up broken down on the side of the road.  I called Tom on the cell phone and he figured the van was ok to drive (there are times that it's nice having a mechanic in the house).  Our "Big Green" van is 15 years old; I'm not surprised it's acting its age.

Today is another beautiful day.  Tom is watching football so I think I'll go make sauerkraut and get that fermenting!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nice Surprise

Just when I least expect them, good things tend to happen to me.  Take the other day, for instance.  I received a call out of the blue from a woman who bought my corn at the farmers market the week before.  She had foster children coming into the house and needed her extra bedroom which currently housed a Hammett's No. 402 floor loom, and would I be interested in purchasing it from her?  Boy, was I ever!  I have been wanting to learn to spin and weave for years.  I could hardly contain my excitement; I just hoped she didn't want more money for it than I could afford.  She wanted $150.00 if I could come right away to get it.  Now, it just so happened that I had not gone to the bank with my farmers market deposit, and the deposit was just enough to pay for the loom, so instead of going to the bank, I bought the loom.  My little voice never hesitated.  I am so grateful to her for thinking of me.  It turns out that she and I have a lot of common interests and now I have another new friend to add to my "old time creative skills" network.  Self Organizing Collectives. Yeah!

It took me a while to put the loom together once I got it down in the basement, and I'm not sure I have everything where it properly ought to be so I have the bolts in place loosely until I can find a manual for the loom.

Hammett's No. 402 floor loom

Isn't it beautiful?  I'm going to clean it up with some Murphy's Oil Soap and rub the wood with some beeswax.  That should make it shine.  It's even nicer when I think that the loom came from the Metsalas Century Farm to the Ledvina Century Farm (at least our part of it).  The loom had been purchased by a rich woman whose husband built a castle -- no kidding -- somewhere up here in the woods, and the loom stayed -- unused -- for 15 years in a turret room before being sold to the woman I bought it from.  She also had never used it. 

I have been looking online for books that will teach me how to set up and use the loom, but am not sure where to start.  I really have absolutely no experience with weaving and am still getting the hang of using a drop spindle.  It's too bad I can't spare the time to take a course on weaving what with taking care of Lara and Ed, but I'm confident that if I can find the information to study that I'll be able to figure everything out.   If you know of a DVD course set on using a 4 harness loom, I'd appreciate a link.  I've watched several You Tube videos on weaving, but even the terminology used in those videos is beyond me right now. 

I didn't make it to the farmers market yesterday because Tom and I  worked out in the field trying to take down the twisted remains of my high tunnel.  We have about half of it taken apart.  We will bring some more tools with us when we go to take down the rest of it.  Tom wants me to sell the steel hoops, but I hesitate -- it would be just my luck to sell the steel to the junk man and then need a pipe for something.  Tom is even keeping one of the base pipes to use as a "breaker bar" (a mechanic's tool of some sort).  I'm glad that we at least got the torn plastic out of the way. 

This morning it was so chilly that Tom lit our first fire of the year in the wood stove.  I'm telling you my bones ached I was so cold.   Now the sun is shining and the leaves turning color are magnificent.  Think I'll go out to the field and see if any more pumpkins are ready to be picked. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Before the Cold Comes

These days I feel like I'm the ant in Aesop's fable of the ant and the grasshopper.  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  Winter is coming!   The weather forecasts hard frost tonight.

Here's a picture of the corn and mustard greens I canned the other day:

I'm quickly running out of canning jars.

I dried the first batch of Golden Celery and Italian Flat Leaf Parsley in the dehydrator and bagged them this morning.  The second batch is drying now.  Tom added some of the celery flakes to a beef stew that we had for supper tonight.  I can't believe how strong the celery taste is from those dried flakes.  I mean, is it the celery variety, or is it just that the celery is fresh from the garden?  The unsold fennel is one of tomorrow's projects if I can find my herb book to see how best to dry the roots and preserve the fronds.  I should go to the farmers market tomorrow, but I have just too much to do here around the house. 

We have been working to get as much done around the farm as we can before the cold weather sets in.  Yesterday and today, Tom and I worked taking down the fence around his garden that was under the power lines and what fence was left uncrushed from the tornado surrounding my forest garden  -- the same fence I worked so hard to put up this past Spring.  What a job!  We rolled up all the fencing and temporarily put it behind the wood piles.  Hopefully it will be out of the way when the loggers get here.  Why do tasks always take longer to do than you think they will? Tomorrow we plan to mark the trees around the house that we want harvested, and I want to clean up the garden boxes for garlic planting next month. 

Oh, well.  I'd like to talk more but I'm beat.  Talk to you soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Canning the Day (and Night) Away

This month is sure flying by!  I went out to the field and wandered through the weeds, and lo and behold, I found lots of things to harvest.  I cut all of the Golden Celery, the Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, the Fennel, and the entire 50' wide row of Scarlet Nantes Carrots, as well as the remaining Autumn King Carrots.  Those carrots took me all day to dig up. They are mostly small, but I harvested 2 1/2 bushels.  After supper, I went back out to the field and meandered through the pumpkin patch.  Happily I found quite a few New England Pie Pumpkins that were ready to harvest.  More are out there, but I don't know that there is enough time for them to mature.  I had to laugh as I was putting the pumpkins in the back of the van:  I spied a nice sized buck watching me from the edge of the swamp.  Sleek looking critter; must be from eating all of my lettuce and beets.  I suppose he was waiting for me to leave so he could munch on what I left.  I took everything back to the house and got it ready to take to the farmers market.  It was about 1 a.m. by the time I quit.  I was just too tired to make everything look as nice as I like it to look, but you just do the best you can and not worry about it. 

It was cool and rainy on market morning so I left Lara at home.  She didn't mind.  I was surprised there were so many customers at the market despite the weather.  That's great!  I didn't sell much though.  No one knew what to do with the fennel and they were afraid to try.  I did manage to practically give away a small bundle of it to a couple that was at least willing to try it.  I told them to bake some fish with it.  No one wanted the celery -- they are used to regular green celery, not Golden celery; and no one bought the Italian Flat Leaf Parsley because they are used to the curled parsley.  It's tough trying to educate consumers.  I did sell some of the Scarlet Nantes carrots and almost a full bushel of the Kennebec potatoes.  I even sold one of Tom's monster zucchinis.  Some people like those big zucchinis.  And I was really happy to sell some of my Indian corn; I'm so proud of it.

New vendors at the market are the Kagans -- Terry, Peggy, and son, Jake.  What a nice family!  They are just starting out as market vendors.  It was nice talking with them and sharing information. I wish them the best. 

Today, after lunch and while Tom as watching the Chicago Bears win their first game of the regular season, I started canning.  I canned 12 quarts of Tom's mustard greens -- they wilted on me before I could get them to the farmers market, and 21 quarts of corn.  What a job!  I am definitely going to need more canning jars.  It will be 1:30 a.m. before I can shut off the pressure canner.  That's ok though -- it gives me plenty of time to talk to you guys! 

I took a bushel of potatoes over to Dale and Cathy to thank them for giving me the mink manure.  As soon as I get some nice tomatoes, I'll take some over to them, too.  I love the taste of Rutgers tomatoes.  Did I mention that I met Dale's cousin at the Park Falls farmers market last week?  What a small world.

The loggers should start clearing out the landing across the road tomorrow.  I hope they have good weather.

Our Soldier Girl is gone off to the Wild West and her new job that starts tomorrow.  We wish her the best of luck and pray that she finds a nice place to live soon.  We look forward to hearing from her once she gets settled.  The house is so different without her.   

Well, I have to finish the canning and tomorrow there is alot of house work to catch up on, so I'll leave off for now.  Take care!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Onward the Harvest

Whew!  It's been a busy Labor Day week.  Yesterday I went to the farmers market in Park Falls -- the new one in the little park across from the hospital.  Some of the vendors I know from the Phillips farmers market were there, and it was nice to see them; I was afraid I might feel out of place.  I met a new vendor who just happens to be my neighbor's cousin!  His name was Ryan and his farm is Nelson's Berry Farm.  What a nice guy, and boy, you should have seen his beautiful pumpkins.  (His raspberries were mouth watering, too.)  I sold all the corn, carrots, and dill I brought.  I thought for sure people would buy my Indian corn bundles, but I didn't sell a single one.  Maybe I'll have better luck on Saturday at the Phillips market.  I don't plan to bring Lara because it is supposed to rain and I don't want her to get sick.  Tomorrow I'll go out to the field and see if there are any more pie pumpkins that I can harvest.  I want to gather the rest of the dill and harvest the bulb fennel, too. 

Yesterday the bushel baskets I ordered from Texas Basket Company  arrived.  They are beautiful!  Shipping will kill you and there is a $10.00 fee for orders less than $100, but at least they take small orders.  There's nothing you can do about shipping so I don't even think about it.  All in all, I am pleased with both the product and the service, so if you need some bushel baskets, I give Texas Basket Company a thumbs up.  And what did I do with those bushel baskets?  Well, today we dug the rest of Tom's potatoes -- the Kennebecs.  We got four bushels and the potatoes are really nice.  I'm going to give Dale and Cathy a bushel for giving us the mink manure. 

Speaking of Tom's garden, we clambored over the trees that fell on his squash patch during the tornado and discovered some Buttercup squash that was big enough to harvest.  Tom also found some monster black zucchini, too.  I cut all of the mustard greens he had -- two bushels worth -- and tomorrow morning I'll pick through them.  If I can keep them from wilting, I'll take them to the market on Saturday.  They are beautiful, but I know that mustard greens don't sell well here because they are too hot.  People love horseradish but they won't eat mustard greens.  Hmmmm.  If I can't sell them, I'll can them for us.  I LOVE mustard greens.

The loggers are really making headway and will be making a landing on our south 40 almost directly across from our driveway next week.  They are doing beautiful work.  I've never seen as neat a logging job.  They need to temporarily move our mailbox about 20' so I'll call the Post Office tomorrow to let them know what's happening.  Don't want the USPS to get confused because the mail box isn't where it is supposed to be.

Took Lara for a blood test this morning which turned out OK.   And later I checked on Dad.  He had a long day with the doctors yesterday and was feeling out of sorts today.  He said he could only drink liquids so I brought him over two quarts of my homemade chicken broth and heated some up for him.  I'll give him a call tomorrow and see how he's feeling.

Well, I'm trying to get the laundry done so I'm going to leave off for now.  Talk to you soon!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Every Day is Good for Something

Today's weather was a stark reminder that my garden's good growing days are numbered.  It was a cold day with heavy dark clouds.  It rained off and on all day, and the wind gusted too much for my liking.  I wanted to pick corn but it was too wet.  I did pick the last of the green beans, only because I intended to can them for our use.  I don't harvest in the garden for the farmers market when it's wet because I don't want to chance spreading any plant diseases or contend with the harvested produce growing mold as I don't have a cooler to store the produce in before going to market.  I won't be going to the farmers market tomorrow because I would only have potatoes, onions, and garlic to sell, and I don't think I would sell enough to make the trip worth the while.  I do hope to get out in the field to assess everything tomorrow.   I would sure like to have some tomatoes.

So, I canned the green beans.  It took me most of the day, but there wasn't much else to do.  The chickens spent most of their day inside the coop.  I think they didn't care for the cold and wet any more than I did.  I bagged up for tea the dried comfrey leaves I had in the dehydrator, and I made a batch of comfrey syrup with the leaf stems. (Comfrey root makes a stronger medicine, but the leaves and stems can be used, too). I read  that the CDC is expecting an increase in whooping cough cases primarily in the Midwest and Northeast United States this winter due to the very cold and wet winter that is being predicted, and I read in one of my herb books that comfrey is very useful to treat whooping cough and other respiratory conditions.   It was kind of weird that I read about the expected increase of whooping cough cases after making the comfrey syrup; I hope that wasn't an omen.

I met a new neighbor today.  His name is Jim Bloom and he lives down the road a ways.  He stopped by today and bought a dozen eggs.  I hope he likes them.  I am happy to be meeting more of the neighbors.  I now know Shane from The Midway Bar; Dale and Cathy down at Camp One; Larry and Carrie across the road; my Aunt Lois; my Dad; Ira; Mike and Beth; and now, Jim Bloom.  Howdy, Neighbors! 

We had the Special Olympics meeting on Wednesday.  I went to the meeting while Tom stayed home with Lara and Ed.  (He didn't mind because there was a replay of the Chicago Bears pre-season game on the tv).  At the meeting we decided to keep the group going.  We decided to keep the competition aspect open for the athletes so even should we not have enough athletes to compete in sports as a team, the athletes can still compete as individuals.  We decided to contact Flambeau Lanes in Park Falls to see if they can accommodate our group for bowling, and we will seek the financial backing of the Lions Club (especially since Lara is a blind athlete) and the Knights of Columbus.  We do know that bowling at Flambeau Lanes will be much more expensive than it was at Feits.  I am going to get a date from Diane Barkstrom, our farmers market manager, for having a bake sale at the market on the last official market day that coincides with the Fall Festival in Phillips.  And Tony Erba, our agency manager, is still trying to find out from Special Olympics WI at the Madison office what we should do with the money that has been raised for our group.  He also let us know that he and his family may be moving to Milwaukee.  Jonathan's parents have relented and will get Jonathan's medical authorization renewal completed so that Jonathan can participate as a Special Olympian, and Justin may be persuaded to come back and bowl with us. We are looking into other sports that our athletes might be able to participate in, too.

Well, it's getting late so I'll let you go.  Be well!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick Fruit Grunt Recipe

I made this recipe the other day and Sarah told me I couldn't make it any more because it was "too good" and she couldn't resist eating it!  So, I thought I'd post the recipe here for you guys.  I've made this with apples, sour cherries, and peaches.  I haven't tried them, but I think raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and pineapple chunks might work, too.  I do know that small berries like huckleberries and elderberries do NOT taste good in this recipe.  This recipe is great to make ahead if you have company coming on short notice or for pot lucks.  I most recently made it to feed my uncle and his sons when they stayed by my Dad while fixing his roof that was damaged by the tornado.

Preheat your oven to 350F (176C) and get a 9" x 13" roasting pan.

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk OR 1 cup milk plus 1/2 cup fruit juice
1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
2 quarts fresh fruit, peeled, quartered and tossed in sugar OR 2 quarts canned fruit, drained
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or mace, optional
Whipped cream or ice cream topping optional

Melt two sticks of butter (1 cup) and pour into pan.  Set aside.  In another bowl sift together 1 1/2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Slowly stir in 1 1/2 cups of milk and stir till batter is smooth.  (If you have juice with your fruit, use 1 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of fruit juice.)  Pour batter over butter in pan.  Do NOT stir.  Spoon fruit on top of batter.  Bake one hour. 

Yum . . . .

Farmers Market

We made it to the Farmers Market on Saturday and was it ever nice to be there!  It was so good to say hi to all of the vendors.  We even met new vendors, Mike and Peggy.  It's great to welcome new people to our market.  Diane, our market manager, tries so hard to attract new vendors.  Lara had a good time.  I kept her under our new market canopy, but even so, she still got a little sunburned.  We didn't have much to sell:  potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet corn from Tom's garden, a little dill, three small red cabbages, some green beans and about a pound of peas.  I sold all of the sweet corn, beans, and peas; most of the dill; one red cabbage; and a little of the rest.  I didn't see many of the usual customers, and there wasn't one single FMNP or WIC customer. 


Our Farmers Market Stand

A Day at the Phillips Farmers Market

I took a nap when we got home.  Going to market is a lot of work!

Today I worked in the back yard and the garden boxes.  I transplanted all of the fruit trees I planted earlier this year into the garden boxes to protect them from the loggers.  I'll give them new permanent homes next spring.  Then I thinned the carrots and pulled the peas.  The beans are still producing so I'll give them a little more time before turning them under.  I ate the sole blackberry I found and it was delicious!  I am debating transplanting the grape vines into a garden box for the winter.  And, I will transplant the red and black currants, and take down as much of the forest garden fence as I'm able to get too.  Some of that fence is crushed under downed trees.  The loggers sound like they are making getting close to our property and I want to get as many plants protected as I can before they get here.  That also means I have to get busy and build a gate for the chicken run.  There's no telling how the chickens will react when the loggers get here.

I got the new Hancocks of Paducah catalog today.  I drool over these fabrics!  Sarah told me I should sew pillow cases and sell them.  That's a pretty good idea!  I thought the handkerchiefs were a good idea, and pillow cases are quite useful, too.  Looks like my winter crafting schedule is filling up.  It's a short step from pillow cases to grocery tote bags.  I have a pattern for a quilt that folds up into a pillow that I've been wanting to make for a long time, too. . . .

Boy, I tell you it is suddenly Fall outside.  I woke up the other night to the sound of the wind rustling the tree leaves and I recognized the end of summer.  Sure enough, the leaves are changing color rapidly.  We miraculously made it through August without a hard frost, but I wonder how much longer our garden luck will hold out.  Most of the birds have already flown South.  It's actually kind of eerie not hearing any birds; the woods are so quiet (except for the loggers).  That reminds me, I meant to tell you about how ill I felt before the tornado.  I was super dizzy and there was so much pain in my bones for days before the storm hit that I could hardly stand it.  I even remarked on it on a web site I frequent.  Then, I remember watching the trees snap as the storm hit and thinking the sound was like bones breaking.  And when the storm passed, my dizziness and bone pain was gone.    I felt the same way before the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.  Makes me wonder if I'm an "earth sensitive", if you want to call it that. 

Have you noticed how clear the skies are lately?  No chemtrails here for a while now.  It's actually taking me a while to get used to seeing the sun shine regularly in a blue sky.  Maybe the bad economy is finally affecting whoever is responsible for making the chemtrails.  Well, they can run but they can't hide is all I have to say.

Tomorrow I'll go out to the field and see how the Indian corn is coming along. 

Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quick Notes

For those of you interested in growing and saving heirloom, open pollinated, and organic seed, this is a really sad time.  Seeds of Change is closing its doors very soon.  Some of my favorite seeds came from them  (Indian Woman Yellow and Pawnee Bush beans). Check out the news story for more details.  I loved this company and hate to see it close.  What a loss!

Also, for those of you who are interested in the Shape of Things to Come reports put out by Clif High over at Half Past Human, Issue 7 is available.  To be read with chamomile tea in hand -- or something stronger. 


There's just something about harvest time that makes you feel good.  Whether it is all the different colors of the vegetables and fruits that you gather, or if it is simply psychological satisfaction with the idea of having a full larder, I don't know.  I do know that harvest time is my favorite time of year.  Then again, maybe it's the moon . . . .

Full Sturgeon Moon

I spent the afternoon scrounging out in the field garden.  It was a lovely day for a change:  not too humid and there was a nice cool breeze out of the north.  I took my time among the rows getting a good look at everything.  I harvested some nice yellow warted crookneck squash and some Early Fortune, Boston Pickling, and one Australian Lemon Cucumber.  There are green tomatoes on the tomato plants, and the leeks are looking good.  Instead of pulling them, I will leave them where they are to over winter and produce seed next year -- the start of a permanent bed of leeks.  The Jerusalem artichokes are looking fine; I've never grown them before so am not sure how or when to harvest.  I'll have to look that up in one of my gardening books.  The Ebeneezer onions left in the onion bed are setting seed but it isn't ripe enough to gather yet.  The cutting celery is gorgeous and so is the bulb fennel.  I am most pleased with the two herb rows.  I'll never start herbs indoors again; they just do so much better direct seeded outdoors.  I am so tempted to harvest leaves and flowers from many of the plants, but I'll wait till next year.  I did cut loads off of the chocolate mint, spearmint, and peppermint and have them drying in the dehydrator.  The house smells SO good.

Yesterday we dug up a row and a half of Tom's potatoes.  What a job!  It was so much harder this year because we couldn't keep up with the weeds because of all the rain. Still, Tom's potatoes were much nicer than mine and his harvest yield is better than mine.  He grew Norland and Kennebecs while I grew Red Cloud and Katahdin.  Still, I'm partial to my spuds because I grew from my own saved seed.  Tom's corn is about where mine is -- a week or so before it's perfect to pick.  That is, if the racoons don't ruin it first; they are having a tasting contest in both of our gardens. 

The onions are cured and I put them in baskets.  I gave Dad a half bushel of onions and a bushel of Red Cloud potatoes.  He can go pick all the corn he wants from Tom's garden.  Speaking of Tom's garden, despite the fact that there is a HUGE red pine in the garden that was downed by the tornado, he counted about 15 Sunshine winter squash still growing.  I figure the deer can't get to the squash because they are under the tree branches so we should be able to harvest them all.  I wish I had some winter squash.  There are loads of flowers on the squash vines that grew, but no fruit.  I only spotted one halfway decent New England Pie Pumpkin in the whole pumpkin patch. 

The good news is that when I went out to work in the garden boxes after supper I discovered that I have LOADS of green beans.  Hurray!  I can take potatoes, onions, shallots, potato onions, bulb fennel, garlic, and green beans to the farmers market.  I told Lara that I will get our supplies together and plan to go to the market on Saturday.  We will see how it goes and then contact Linda Daubner who emailed me about going to the Park Falls farmers market outside the hospital and maybe selling there, too.

I love the way the kitchen looks at harvest time.  It's a comfortable messiness that feels so creative.

What shall we do with the green beans?

 Potato soup or latkes?

Oh, onions with everything!

And there's nothing like fresh eggs.

Of course, fresh food addicts like myself always wind up dealing with sugar fiends --

From Sarah's Torturing Dieters Manual

Ahh, I love it when there's no room on the buffet . . . .

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rain and Politics

I just can't believe the amount of rain we've been getting.  All day we had thunderstorms and tonight there was flooding in Park Falls where my sister lives.  They are all right, thank goodness.  4" of rain and at least 2" more expected.  Our front lawn is starting to look like a pond.  If I wasn't surrounded by three natural marshes, didn't have 12-15' of good perk beneath the house, and wasn't 1,600' above sea level, I'd be worried.  My biggest fear is that trees weakened by the tornado that blew through here the end of July will fall and cause more damage.  I'm sure our logger is being held up by all the rain, too.  I worry about the people that live along the Flowage though:  The Turtle Flambeau Flowage was created by a dam.  It is an old dam and I can't help but wonder how strong it is and how it is handling all the water.  We are above the dam so if it should fail we would not be affected, but the situation would be disastrous for anyone living below the dam and near the shoreline.  Turtles, snakes, and frogs are even coming up out of the marshes.  The other night there were two little green frogs on Tom's hummingbird feeder!  How they got there is beyond me.  All I can think is that they got sucked up from the marsh by the wind and dropped on the feeder.  Yesterday morning I went to crack Ed's bedroom window open to let in some fresh air and there was a snake on the ledge.  You know me and snakes!  In my haste to shut the window, the snake got pinched in it so I went and got Tom to take care of the matter. . . .

My uncle and some of his sons have been staying at Dad's all week working on repairing the farm house in between the rain spells.  Yesterday I fixed them a big peach cobbler, a big pan of corn bread, and a big pot of chicken and dumplings. I haven't heard any complaints.  It was a busy day because I awoke early and canned a bushel of sweet corn that lost its sweetness before cooking their meal.  In the meantime, I worked on writing a statement I wanted to say at the Mercer Town Meeting about a proposed zoning amendment that OUTRAGEOUSLY wanted to change the current 2 acre limit for ownership of livestock to 35 acres.  People would not be able to divide their property into 2 acre farmettes, and current owners of livestock with less than 35 acres of land (grandfathered in under the amendment) would be obligated to tell potential buyers of their property that they would not be able to own livestock.  This information was based on an editorial I read in The Miner newspaper.  Boy, I was hot under the collar!

I wasn't the only one either.  A number of people showed up at the town meeting and the Town Board members came in back peddling about the amendment.  They had been hearing from townspeople all week. The story is that the Northwest Regional Planning Commission is trying to force ridiculous zoning and other changes throughout northern Wisconsin and is pushing for agricultural land to be in big lots. The amendment, we were told, was their idea.  (Typical agribusiness -- the bigger the better, and Wisconsin is notorious for goosestepping to whatever the Feds and agribusiness wants.  I have been paying attention to the push in the southern part of the state allowing zoning changes for mega dairies to be located, too).   They are also messing around with Forestry land.  All I have to say is that I will not stand for an outside agency telling me what I may or may not do with my land when that land was acquired before the town even existed.  And even if they couldn't do anything to me, I won't stand for the rights of my neighbors being infringed upon by unjust laws.  I won't stand for it. Urban homesteading, back yard gardening, barter and local exchange will be a base of the new economy, and towns have to realize that and support those issues if they want to attract new residents and survive this Depression.   People need to say, "No More".  You back the bully up against the wall, you put your fist in his face, and you tell him to take a hike or else you proceed to bring down the wrath of God on him.  The Town Board got an earful and I think they heard loud and clear what the people thought on the matter.  I am still worried, however, because several people have told me that matters of this nature are frequently passed in small towns on the sly and over the objections of the citizens.  If that happens here, I will get the names of the people responsible and put them on the Internet so that when the revolution starts to take this country back from the Banksters the freedom fighters will know who needs to be paid a visit.

Enough ranting -- I promise to be good.  Talk to you soon!