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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Spring ahead....It's March already!

January and February flew past and life went along like a derailed train!
It started off fine & slow.  I even had time to arrange a wall of my sewing machine museum to my liking.  This is the 'German' wall.  I think the German-made machines are my favorite - with their well-made mechanisms and lovely inlaid wood.
 Then, we had about 4 or 5 acres near the house logged.  It opened up the view and helped us pay off a few bills.
It made the view from the house a lot like it was 20 years ago when we first built the house and the trees were just babies.  Fir trees are an amazing crop - those trees were less than 4 ft tall when we moved here and now they've been harvested!  Next year we'll replant and it'll start all over!
 The goats have kidded and we've got just 4 youngsters to raise this year.  I held back last years' kids and will breed them next Fall.
Our three girls kidded without any trouble at all this year!  That's Maryanne with Mordecai and Magda just moments after being born.  Shiloh had a doe we named Shinar and Ekaterina, not to be outdone, had a doe we named Egglantine!
These two coffee mugs sat on my grandparents' wood stove each morning to warm up while Grampa made coffee for Grama and himself.  I smile when I look at them, now on the mantel above my cookstove.  Sometimes it doesn't seem quite right that 'things' remain when our beloved people have been gone for so long.

The fixer-upper house deal that my daughter and her husband were waiting on finally went through and the pace of life picked up!  My husband is a builder and his skills are needed!

 Francis and I (Francis is my travelling bear buddy) packed up the camper van and headed North!  We cleaned & hauled and worked on the house.  We drove home again!  We gathered up our suitcases again...and boxed up their little apartment, did more cleaning & repairing and moved them in!  For awhile, when I woke up in the morning I wasn't sure where I was!  And this country girl enjoyed some new city experiences...Did you know that you can actually phone in a PIZZA order and they will bring it HOT to your very DOOR?  Amazing!  considering that we live about 35 or more miles to the nearest pizza place, no one delivers pizza to this farm!
 Thirty five years ago my husband and I had our first daughter...and we looked so very young.  Now, that sweet daughter is 33 weeks along, carrying our precious grandson!  Where did the years go? (I haven't changed a bit, by the way.)

Now I'm home (temporarily) again but fighting the flu bug.  As soon as I get over it, I'll be packing up Francis again and heading for the little house once again, this time to put the kitchen and nursery together!

In the meantime, daily farm life goes on day after day, week after week, much the same...
 Eggs to gather and wash.  Goats to milk and kids to feed.  And always primitives to make for my Ebay and Etsy stores.
 I made myself a happy green slug out of playdough one day.  I don't even like slugs, but this one was kind of cute, don't you think?

Today I've done very little.  Made myself the Potato Soup my sweet mama always made when I was sick.  Mostly sitting in my recliner and impatiently waiting to feel better, lol.
I'm not very good at being sick!  I'd rather be working and the sun was shining today and making me feel like a kid stuck in school on a sunny day!

I started the day with a wicked headache and nasty cough, so my daughter actually did the goat milking chores for me.  She just went out again this evening to feed the goat kids their milk - they get milk twice a day until they're about 8-10 weeks old.  We bottle or bucket feed them so there's milk for the house, too.
 Arthritis in my hands (and me so young, lol) keeps me from milking three goats, so milking machine it is!  The disadvantage is that there's a lot more to clean up when milking by machine and we've been plagued with water problems this year.  First, one of our two low flow wells quit and it's not accessible in the winter.  Then we broke a water line in the freezing weather!
 Besides the fact that he's been working on the kids' house more often than he's been at home, my dear husband also sprained his knee and has been on crutches for the last couple of weeks!  And no, it didn't slow him down much.  Trying to get him to rest is nigh unto impossible!

One day I got hungry and rustled up scalloped potatoes in my crockpot.  Of course I put ham in the other crockpot and dinner just wasn't complete until I made a pecan pie and banana bread!  Wish I had it today, though I can't taste much of anything so I guess it won't make much difference what I eat until this bug is gone!
 Ripley the cat is my faithful sidekick.  He's a funny little guy.  He doesn't like my daughter (who raised him from a kitten!) but loves me!  When he needs to go outside, he walks over and 'tells' her by mewing until she gets up and lets him out the door.  He likes to give her ankle a good swat as he walks by!

This is Rip and I in our favorite recliner chair.  (Oh, and by the way, I lied earlier.  I have definitely changed from 35 years ago, lol.)
We had a few days of ice and snow - while we were travelling back & forth, of course!  It's so pretty, but this year I'm glad it's gone so we can get back to easy driving. 
 The primitives selling business has been ridiculously busy!  I've been coming home from the kids' place to sew/craft/paint like a mad woman!

People have been buying not just seasonal items either, but out of season things like pumpkins, squirrels and bats, oh my!
 This was a couple of weeks ago and now I've got just about as many orders again!  Takes me longer when I'm ill, but I'm still working at it a bit each day anyhow. Now my younger daughter is my partner in crafting, which makes us a lot more productive, working as a team!
Well, that's what's happening here on the hilltop at the moment.  Hubby left this morning to help the kids pick out kitchen cabinets and set them.  He'll be gone for a couple of days working on that.  Then he'll drive back (about 2 3/4 hours) and get caught up at home again!

We're starting to think about the garden - just got a roll of landscape fabric & barnyard bark to work up some raised beds for the strawberries.  I ordered vegetable seeds and will start them as soon as they arrive in the mail...and as soon as I get over the flu!  Stay well and I'll sign in again when I have a chance!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Long Winter's Nap....NOT! Crockpot Marmalade all Made!

The year is nearly over and Christmas is approaching quickly, so I've been trying to get my list of 'must get done' things accomplished.  A Christmas stocking for my new son-in-law was a priority and I did it!

I've still got a quilt in progress and an afghan almost finished, a new, big order of primitives to work on and, of course, the usual everyday stuff so I'm kept hopping!
A little over a year ago I bought Christmas cactus starts on Ebay and they're coming along nicely and blooming so prettily now!  They're upstairs in my sewing/craft room so I'm pretty much the only one who sees them - until now and you can see this one at least!  I've got about 6 or 7 of them.

I asked my hubby for a box of oranges and a bag of lemons and he brought them home the other day.  I've got an amazingly simple method of making Orange Marmalade.  You just put 6 oranges, 4 lemons, and 2 cans of pineapple in your food processor and grind.
Then you add 12 cups of sugar and mix.  Divide between two good-sized crockpots, turn the dial to High & set your timer for 4 1/2 hours.  Slap it in jars, add lids and water-bath can them for 15 minutes.  TA DA!!!  A winter's supply of delicious marmalade!  Well done!

 Ok, so he also brought two 10# bags of organic carrots home and I already had about 10# that our good neighbor shared from her garden, so I canned the extras!  Carrots are easy - scrape, chop and throw in jars.  Add salt & hot water, pressure can for 30 minutes and you've got carrots for your cellar shelves!  I've got a fabulous recipe for Carrot Buns that takes a quart of carrots, so be sure to put some in quart jars!
Remember last time I mentioned that the chickens are laying well and I had 6 or 7 dozen eggs in the fridge?  Well, they're still laying well and today I've got about 10 dozen!  My daughter is coming this weekend and will take them all home for the extended family to enjoy!
These three guys (hard bald eggs, of course) are in my fridge....
 I realized this morning, as hubby and I went about our usual morning routines, that I've been packing him a lunch for over 38 years!  I try to make them tasty and interesting...usually.  Today's menu:  leftover chicken pot pie, tortilla chips, orange slices and 4 homemade chocolate chip cookies....and of course, a love note (very important!).  I have, over the years, sometimes forgotten to put a
fork or spoon in....and (construction work) he has been forced to drink his applesauce or eat his lunch with a carpenter's pencil, lol!  Today I generously included a fork.
 Neighbor Jean and I decided that the two turkeys were both pink ones, so she generously donated the left bird - our new tom!  Hopefully this Spring the girls will start laying and we can hatch turkey chicks!

Zephyr and Zelda are standing in the pile of carrot scrapings they disdained when I generously offered them.  No accounting for taste.  None of the animals wanted them!
 Yes, MaryAnne's eyes are closed in total enjoyment of a rare sunny day here in Western Washington!  I cleaned and filled their water bucket this morning and they gathered around to visit with me.  If you look at the littlest goat in the picture below, you will see that she is smiling happily.
 My older daughter is now 21 weeks along with my new baby GRANDSON!!!!  She had an ultrasound this week and sent me Joshua Lee's first baby picture!

Imagine what our forebears would think if we tried to convince them that we could 'see' the baby and know if it's a boy or girl when the mother was only half-way along!
The sun is streaming into my house today - a rare stretch of cold sunny weather again for us. Our Christmas tree is decorated and at-home daughter is candying orange and lemon peel in preparation for making our annual holiday fruitcake.  The house smells fabulous.  Daughter and Son-in-Law are coming for the weekend and we are truly enjoying God's blessings each day!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Applesauce is in the Cellar and we might have Kids by Christmas!

The weather is finally changing from Indian Summer to Fall here on the hilltop.  We had a long, lovely hot Summer...a big rain storm and major weather change...and then a week of warm, sunny days and chilly nights.  Now, the rains have returned, temperatures have dropped,  and the outside chores are dwindling as we've mostly tucked everything away until Spring.

Tiptoe down to the red cellar door and see how much we've accomplished this canning season!
 Neighbor Jean and I traded veggies, milk....and turkeys!  This is a pair of Midget Whites.  First we thought it was a pink one and a blue one.  Now we're not so sure WHAT they are, lol.
Any guesses?
 The Speckled Sussex hens started laying and they have taken off like rockets!  Well, except for that one teensy weensy egg there....somebody was slacking!

Our birds free range through our orchard, but one of them is a LONE FREE RANGER, lol, as I often see her strolling through the yard or chasing grasshoppers out in the pasture.  It is a time of plenty and I have at least 6 or 8 dozen eggs in my fridge.  I send them home with anyone who stops by, so if you need eggs, you know where to come, lol!
 This is my good and diligent husband of nearly 38 years (yes, we got married at birth...) cleaning our cookstove chimney.  We have a two story house with a very steep roof, but he gets right up there and cleans it out every Fall.  We work together on the inside chimney and inner stove parts and now it's good to go for all those cozy Winter fires.  Everything tastes better cooked on a wood cook stove, by the way.  Just ask your Grandma!
Sometimes Fall here in Western Washington is boring.  It rains, leaves turn brown and fall off.  This year, the colors have been stunning and I have exclaimed many times over all the colorful gifts to view....on trees, in mud puddles, stuck to my shoes....

Seems like there have been a million things to do.  We had a cider-pressing party and after everyone took cider home, we still had 14 gallons to can.  We've been canning apple butter & apple sauce, harvested onions, garlic, squash, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries....and I'm sure more stuff I've already forgotten!
 This ole King apple is aptly named as it came in at over a pound!  We planted our semi-dwarf trees twenty years ago when we bought this land and are reaping a bounty! 

Today I canned applesauce for my married daughter and her hubby as she is expecting my first grandbaby and lives in a house too tiny to think about canning at the moment.  Did you hear that???  My FIRST GRANDBABY!  Can you say...GrammyPammy?  I'm already starting a collection of toys.  Of course, I've always loved toys and still have quite a few from my own childhood!
Mr. Ripley likes to stare at me while I sit in my chair with my laptop.  After this picture, he proceeded to walk calmly across my keyboard and my screen turned sideways!  I didn't even know it could do that, so of course had to enlist help in getting it back to normal!  No, no...BAD CAT!
 My husband calls my activities at this time of the year "Squirrel Sickness" as I madly harvest, store, dry, can and freeze EVERYTHING in sight so that our nest will be well stocked until the growing season comes 'round again.

In between all the canning, I'm working on a quilt, an afghan and primitives as someone purchases some.
 This is all the apple butter....about 60 pints.  Pancakes are yummy with apple butter!

People usually comment on how busy I am.  It's true, I do a lot of things, but I don't work outside of home, so I have more time to do it all than some.  I'm also a type A, like my mother before me, so I hit the ground running around 5:30 or 6 each morning and don't usually slow down until after dinner.  I LIKE to work.  I LOVE my farm and all the chores.  Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed and wish I had a few extra hands to help with it all, but still, I'm never bored!

 These are the apples that we turned in the 60 pints of apple butter - three boxes of Liberty apples and two boxes of mixed Kings and Jonagolds.

The gourds and Jack-be-Littles were a gift from my neighbor!

This bread is about 2/3 whole wheat
and 1/3 unbleached flour.  I usually make 5 loaves at a time, but this time I made 3 loaves and 8 big sandwich or hamburger buns.

We joke that even after a trip to the grocery store or Costco, there's nothing to eat around here except ingredients.   That's the only disadvantage to cooking everything from scratch....if you don't cook, you don't eat!

 Life on this farm repeats itself season after season and year after year.  Not everything stays the same, but a lot of it does, and that's a comfort.  Daughter married & moved, but my son & younger daughter pick up where she left off, helping with everyday life and increasing our joy.
My son is a wonderful, Godly young man and he and I enjoy working on a lot of the outdoor projects together.  Yesterday we repaired this fence and moved animals around to their winter pens.  His sheep are now in their winter pen and all the goats are in theirs and waiting for the kidding season....hopefully by Christmas we'll be milking again!  I cleaned the milk room down at the barn and all the milking equipment - probably the first time ever that I'm ready in advance! 

Well, 'nuf of this sitting around with a computer on my lap.  Those ingredients will not be supper-time's meal if I don't get a move on!  I'll leave you with a song that's been blessing me all week...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gluten Free is New to Me and We are Caramelizing Onions!

This is Byron.  (I'm starting slow since I've been absent from my post so long, lol.)  Byron is a young English Lop buck and he is waiting for you to pet him.  When you try to close the cage door, he will not move out of the way and will be offended that you had the audacity to shut it in his face.

I believe my last post was back in June when we were getting ready for my oldest daughter's wedding.  Is that enough excuse to be gone so long?  It did take a lot out of us and we were tired for weeks after...But I think we're over it now!

Summer is always a busy time on the farm and this one is no exception.  Western Washington is known for its massive rainfall, but we do have very dry summers and things are definitely suffering the lack thereof around here. Our low flow well is struggling and we've put ourselves on water-watch!
This is Korb Yellow Highlight, the Dahlia.  He is very handsome and I've been sneaking water to him when no one is looking.  (Shhhh...)

A close friend of his (pic below) is Pam (no, not me, it really is called Pam).  I picked this one out especially, not just because we share a name, but it is my favorite hue in flowers - shades of yellow, orange & red!  Sunset colors!
My younger daughter and I worked at the local county Fair again this year.  I've had some health issues and am also eating a limited diet, so we packed weird salads to take along most days.  The two weeks sped by and we're back here on the farm most days.

Canning season is upon us and we're working hard, even though our own garden is kind of puny.  A friend 'down the valley' let us pick their green beans and we put them up.

 You can see some waffles on the stove next to the canner and in a plastic container on the green beans.  I've been making gluten-free waffles and freezing them so my 'special' breakfast is fast and easy.  These are made with Almond Flour and turn out fabulous!  The nice thing is they are heartier than regular waffles because of the protein content of the almonds.  I got the recipe online, tweaked it a bunch to make it egg, dairy and sugar-free as well, and now I get bona-fide delicious waffles that even my gluten-eating people like better than the regular ones!  (If you want the recipe, leave a comment with email addy and I'll get it to you!).
Foolish people that we are, we suddenly decided the cellar needed cleaning & organizing.  YIKES.  It's been roughly twenty years accumulating and was a BIG JOB.  We disposed of canning from 2012 and even found a couple jars from 2008...blech.  It's all in order and now the current accomplishments can go right down there and onto the correct shelves!
 We have taken time out to haunt our favorite beaches, namely Westport WA, home of Bennett's Fish Shack (yes, I know I've mentioned them often...) and Wash-Away Beach in Grayland.

This time as we drove & walked around, we discovered something new to us....Cat Feeding Stations!  I saw this little birdhouse-like structure (and a shiny black crow exiting....) and wondered what it was.  There are actually about 3 or 4 of them along the big rock jetty in Westport and they are cat feeding stations for abandoned cats!

Sounds like a great start to a poem...The sleek & stealthy feral cats, dining upon the many wharf rats, stopped to feed at little cat houses and soon gave up the eating of mouses!!

Hmm.  Maybe I should stick to my day wife!!
Raspberries, strawberries and luscious blackberries!  The raspberries and strawberries are cultivated, of course.  The blackberries grow here with wild abandon.  We have three varieties; the highly sought after wild trailing blackberries, Evergreen Blackberry and Himalayan Blackberry.

The Himalayan is a big, succulent soft berry (my favorite) and grow all along the back of our orchard fence.  We have some of the Evergreen around here, too.  They are a firm berry with a completely different flavor and hold their shape well for canning.
 This summer I've gotten to know another neighbor.  We've only got three neighbors withing a mile or two and I know the others!  Jean and I are becoming good friends and we're having a grand time trading farm produce!

Today my daughter and I are canning tomatoes from Jean's AMAZING garden!
Last weekend, on our drive out to the coast for lunch, I took this picture of the lighthouse museum in Westport.  I love the HUGE flag - almost looks photo-shopped in, doesn't it?!

There is a long dock along the seawall protecting the marina from the ocean and we had walked out there and I snapped this with my new....SMART PHONE!!!  Yes, I have finally joined the ranks of, well, everyone else on the planet and now have a smart phone.  So far, it holds true and it is actually smarter than I am, so I try to leave it alone....
My son wanted to can caramelized onions, so early this morning we began sniffing and crying over a big pile of onions from the garden and they are all in a big turkey roaster.....out on the porch!  The entire farm smells like onions, seriously!  I guess we have to cook them forever and then we can them.  After all these years, we're still finding new canning adventures!

I've a bunch of other things going now, but shall save them for another post!  I'll just leave you with this....

I was standing at the sink, doing a few dishes (ok, a lot of dishes), and feeling just a bit sorry for myself (health issues I mentioned earlier) and doing a bit of praying.  "Lord, I just want to be able to do my work...serve my family....take care of stuff on our farm...."  And I realized that, standing there at the sink doing dishes, I was doing just that.  Sometimes I don't see all the good things the Lord has done for me when I'm busy concentrating on the not-so-good.  It brought to mind

Philippians 4:8King James Version (KJV)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Until next time, let's think on all those good things!