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Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer is almost over and Ripley the Cat is aptly named!

I remember (ok, vaguely...) when I was a child and the only instance in which time went by fast was during Summer vacation from school.  The rest of life, especially the school year, seemed to go by in slow motion.  NOT ANY MORE!  I see that it's been many weeks since I popped in here to my blog/journal, but I guess I'll just take up once again in my usual haphazard fashion!
The newest addition to the farm is....drum roll please.....Mr. Ripley!  Above is a lovely shot of Ripley wondering what on earth I am pointing at him....and to the right is one of the REAL Ripley doing what kittens do best - getting into mischief!
Who couldn't love a face like that, though!  He's already been to the vet for his necessary shots & alteration, and now he's starting his life as a house cat.

Being attacked by a flying bundle of teeth & claws is hard to get used to, but we're working on it.
 On September 30th and October 1st, we'll be in our booth at the Country Chicks Fall Fair at our fairgrounds, so I am busy making bunches of primitive things to sell.  Be sure to come and see!

These are just a few of them.  To be totally honest, my camera chip is full and I've been either too lazy, too tired or too forgetful to take care of it.

Call me ignorant (but not to my face!), but I found out the hard way that the little memory disc/chip that goes in my camera has a teeny tiny little lock on it that slides up or down.

I mean, really!  Who can even see that well?  Why on earth would you lock the camera chip?

We spent a couple days camping at the beach and I couldn't take a single picture because I couldn't get my camera to work.  Of course I would have Googled the solution if I'd been home, but we had no Internet service while camping.
Hard to live without Google, lol!
I entered some of my primitives in the Fair, which the girls and I worked at for a couple of weeks.  One week we were there on a Wednesday so people could check their entries in to our Living Arts department (think quilts, canning, baking, crocheting, sewing...) Thursday for judging and ribbon awarding and then Friday to display all those beautiful items for the viewing pleasure of the fair-goers.  Fair started the following Tuesday and ran through Sunday.  Very busy, lots of fun, ever so tired!!!
This was my birthday present to my husband.  Yes.  It is indeed, a Spock monkey.  Everyone should have a Spock monkey, Captain.  It is logical.
 We've actually done quite a bit more canning than just carrots, but - remember the camera chip?  Yeah.

Today we canned a dozen jars of green beans and started the applesauce.  I'm aiming to can about 48 pints of applesauce, maybe a dozen apple butter and then a bit later, apple pie filling.  We're working through the Gravenstein apples at the moment and waiting for the Kings to get ripe for pie filling.  We will not starve this winter.
The garlic is dry & braided and the onions, too.  There are actually quite a few more than pictured and we're thinking of canning carmelized onions.  I'm also thinking of painting the entire inside of the house, washing all the windows inside and out and quilting all those UFOs (Un Finished Objects) lying about, HA! HA! HA!
One can only accomplish so much, which is quite a bit, but then we run out of gumption.  Wonder where you can get a nice big pile of gumption?
The weather has been amazingly hot, even hitting 100* here in the good old Pacific Northwest, but now you can feel a change coming on.  It was warm today again, maybe 85* but the wind is picking up and it's already chilly enough to need all the windows closed!  Before you know it, we'll be filling the woodbox and starting up the first fires of the season!
Here are the girls at our tables, set up with vintage sewing machines at the Fair.
 I'm so absolutely BLESSED by these daughters the Lord chose to give me!  MAN I love these girls!  They are truly my best buds.
 Rebecca entered her Labyrinth Walk quilt and on the third or fourth day of the Fair it won People's Choice!  So happy for her and what a lovely quilt, don't you think?
 While we were working at the Fair, a casual acquaintance stopped by to say hello and mentioned that he had a serger that he no longer used and that he really should give it to us.
The next day, this little beauty showed up in the kitchen at our building with my name on it!  What an unexpected blessing!
 Here's another of the items I'll have for sale at the Fall Fair.  Fall is my favorite time of year.  I make old-fashioned kinds of Halloween items along with my other primitives.  I stay away from evil or scary stuff - my stuff is more reminiscent of times gone by.

When I was a kid we would gather in costumed groups and stop at as many houses as we could to Trick-or-Treat and gather up as much candy as possible.  I remember many happy moments spent later in the evening, our bags dumped out on the floor in front of us as we all examined and compared our loot!  The neighborhood was a safer place back then.  Oh good grief!  Here I am, talking about the 'good old days'...and me so young!  (DO NOT LAUGH AT THIS POINT!)

Well, I was lazy and didn't make dinner, so now it's almost 8:30pm and about time to make some nice toast and hot cocoa (from scratch, naturally!) so I'd best stop this catching-up-on-the-blog stuff!  Before I go, you can see a pic of my newest little addition to the collection here---------------------->
It's a tiny chainstitcher machine.  Isn't it cute?  It's very small.

My hubby has a nasty cold (at this time of the year!) and I have to go to the dentist tomorrow for a night-guard fitting because I clench my teeth.  Life is full of such things, but God is good and blesses us every day.  Until I write again, may He hold YOU in the palm of His hand and may you know Him better!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hobo Dinners, Yummy Bean Casserole for the Hay Crew and Little Deer has a Fawn!

Oh what a busy month it's been.  Almost a whole month and I've almost blogged so many times and then just....didn't.

Have you ever lost someone you loved so very dearly?  Almost 9 months have somehow passed since we lost my mom and still some days I am shocked and heart-broken anew.  Did she know we loved her so much?  I still dish up too many plates for dessert sometimes and a few days ago I stood in the room that was hers and cried.  I miss her company.  Sigh.  More time.  More time will ease the ache and loss, though never the hole.


It seems like our summer was here and now gone.
First, it was day after day of HOT, unseasonably
so, weather.  Up in the 80s, the 90s...Way too hot
for us Western Washingtonians!  Like boneless chickens, we lose all ability to do anything useful as we wilt.  Too hot to do any more planting or weeding outside.  Just when I finally had gone through my closet and found capris, short sleeved shirts, sandals.....South it went!  Now, the low temperature tonight may supposedly reach the upper 30s and it's been nothing but gray skies and cloudbursts and gullywashers!
I LOVE IT!


 I must say, it was almost....chilly!  I donned a flannel shirt and woolly socks.  I sequestered myself in my sewing room and finished a quilt top!  The weeds in the garden and flower beds have gone crazy, the dandelions have taken over the yard and I've no need to feel guilty for not working on them because IT IS RAINING CATS AND DOGS!   Ahhhh.

What else have I been up to?  Hmm.  I had loaves of onion mustard sourdough and Italian Hersbs & cheese breads in my freezer, left over from the Farmer's Market & Spring Festival, so I sliced & diced & dehydrated them!

 Now I've got dry bread cubes for every occasion!  Yesterday I crushed a couple cups of them and made meatballs!

It's going to be a 'fruit' year for sure, if the pests don't get all the goods.  The apple trees are loaded with little apples and even though Dave hard-pruned the pears, there are quite a few of them, too.  The Italian Plum is loaded, but one huge major branch split and needs to come down, so not as many plums as we thought.  What can you really do with plums, anyhow?  I mean, you can eat SOME, but boxes and boxes?
 Something has been digging up everything we plant.  Hostas are dumped upside down.  Artichokes strewn out of the ground.  Onion bulbs UNplanted.  Then, in the barn, feed bags torn and feed scattered about.  Traps with tempting tidbits have now managed to catch 3 possums (opossums) so far.  We'd been expecting raccoons but we were wrong!

Mama Deer has twins this year.  She's very flighty and we only catch an occasional glimpse of her.

 On the other hand, Little Deer has a single fawn and she proudly brought him to the yard for me to see.  She's in my daughter's black books, however, as she has on more than one occasion, jumped the fence into her yard and eaten a special rose bush.  For some reason, I get blamed for this.  Just because I sit on the porch and converse with her and occasionally throw her an apple does not mean I am responsible for her friendliness....does it?

The perfectly pretty peonies pleased Pam.  There.  Say that 5 times real fast!
Windows 10 took over BOTH my computers when I wasn't looking.  My desktop computer upstairs in my sewing room crashed.  Completely.  It died and I am sad.  It also took over my laptop, but we have managed to adjust without bloodshed.  Just when I finally had a mutually agreeable relationship with that dumb computer and now I have to LEARN NEW THINGS.  I am old.  Well, getting there!

Hobo Dinner.  THAT is not a new thing and it is so easy that you'll want to run to the kitchen right now and fix yourself one for dinner.  Or lunch.  
 I keep frozen hamburger patties in the freezer just for such occasions.  I made individual ones in oven-proof plates.  Just slap a frozen (or thawed) hamburger patty in, salt & pepper..maybe a delicious tangy onion, few potato wedges and some sliced carrots.  You can dab a little butter on top or, if you're not afraid of real food, bacon grease!  Then you just slap a piece of tin foil aluminum foil over those puppies and bake at 375* or so until it's all done!
Yum, what a feast!
During those 90*+ days, I had to keep two fans on my rabbits in their building.  I went out on the two hottest days when the temps reached almost 100* and misted them with water and laid wet rags in their cages for them to lay one.  I didn't lose even one bunny, even out of this litter of little ones!   I got some dirty looks from rabbits as I sprayed water on their faces, ears & fur!
 The weather's been so unseasonably warm & dry (well, until this rainy spell) that we've already cut & baled over 600 bales of hay!  The barn loft is full and ready for winter!  I fed the hay crew dinner two days in a row - hamburgers on a bun and Yummy Bean Casserole the first day,  and the next day, pizza.  Homemade, of course.  It didn't dawn on me until later that I could have actually PURCHASED ready-made pizza!  Go figure. What will they think of next?

NOTHING is better than this bean dish.  Try it.  You'll thank me.
 Of course, unless you raise your own ground beef and have kielbasa made, and of course use your own canned beans and ketchup...it won't taste quite the same as mine, but it's one of those no-fail recipes, so give it a go anyhow.

It's great for potlucks, too.
 While my mom was undergoing cancer treatments, we had to be in town (about 35-40 minutes away) sometimes 2, 3 or even 4 days a week for anywhere from 2 to 5 hours not including the drive.  Then, of course, taking care of her when we were back home again took up much of our time.  Now I'm still trying to get used to NOT having to go anywhere and NOT feeling guilty for sewing or working outside.
I realize that a lot of women go to work and spend many hours away, but with a chronic illness like Lyme Disease, it was a hard road to travel and none of us has recovered very well yet.
In past years, varmints ate my strawberries & raspberries before I could get to them.  Now I've got them under wire row covers and in a chicken wire covered cloche and they are doing GOOD!  Here is my little batch of strawberry rhubarb jam.  If this rain hasn't molded them, I should get more strawberries.  I confess that we've mostly just scarfed them down as fast as I could get them in the house.  Can you say....Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream?????

Well, I'm sure more stuff has happened than I have remembered to write, but I'll stop rambling for now.  God has been good to us and I thank Him every day for His love and blessings to us.  This farm is my happy place.  All those years when I was a child, living in duplexes in the city with my single mom, I dreamed of living on a farm.  Well, I also dreamed of eating all the whipped cream I wanted, but never mind that!  Until next time!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wreck of the Hesperus...er...the Peter Iredale and Rhubarb Cobbler

 (Remember, you can click on any of these pictures to make them bigger so you can see them better.)

A couple weeks ago, my husband & grown kids and I camped at Ft Stevens in Oregon for 4 days.  It is the first time we've been camping all together in a couple of years.

The wreck of the Peter Iredale rests on the beach there.  If you Google it, you can find pictures of when it was newly washed ashore in 1906.
 The weather was stunning and the ocean was calm.  Camping on the coast of Washington state in May is often a cold and rainy affair.  Our weather has been unseasonably warm and dry and we enjoyed it to the fullest.

Now we're back to our usual chilly and damp sort of late Spring days, waiting for the sunshine to reappear!
 It's not that I take lousy pictures.  I really do look like this.  Photogenic, I am not.  I am, however...honest...ordinary....real....and I like to think I'm pretty nice.  Most of the time.

We didn't do anything extraordinary, but we walked a bit and the kids rode the bike trails.  I'm pretty much a homebody and the third night was just a bit too long of a stay away from the farm for me, so I was glad to get on the road and head back. 
 This is down in our valley, near the creek.  It's a dirt road to get down there, accessible by vehicle only when the weather is dry.  It's a nice walk down, but uphill all the way back.

We had a hot dog roast in that campfire ring during one of those nice weather days recently.

So far this month, we've been vendors at a two-day craft fair and just a few days later camped in the next state for 4 days.  We had another vendor space for our annual Spring Festival at our local grange (for which I baked 18 loaves of bread and my daughter baked 18 pies) and then we spent 5 hours sitting at yet ANOTHER
vendor space (Farmer's Market).  That one was outside under a canopy and the weather cooperated NOT!  It was rainy, cold and windy!  Took me hours to finally thaw out!


 I am totally tired and ready for time at the farm.  The weeds have taken over the garden and with the dampness that's set in, the strawberries that were beginning to ripen are going moldy.  I picked a few and tossed the spoiled ones to the chickens.  I cubed up the leftover bread from our vending events and dried it in my dehydrator for future cooking efforts.  Now that I've got the dehydrator out and running, I think I'll start picking some herbs and renew my stash - sage & oregano for sure.

The Spring rush on the farm is slowing down a bit.  We just weaned Pinky the calf today and now we're down to once-a-day milking!  A great relief for the hands.  We're still bottle-feeding the last two kids for another couple of weeks.

I've been totally frustrated with my computers.  Both of them are older, reconditioned creatures.  Both of them downloaded Windows 10 WITHOUT MY CONSENT and now my craft room computer is STUCK on the download and awaiting....well, someone to come and figure it out.  My laptop now seems like a stranger with its new operating system and I can't get it to cooperate very well with my camera.  I feel like an old dog trying to learn a new trick!

One should always console oneself with dessert, so I picked Rhubarb and made this lovely cobbler.
I got the recipe from the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) and you can find it here:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/rhubarb-cobbler/
With a dollop of whipped cream on top and a steaming cup of coffee alongside, well, you could practically conquer the world.  Or maybe even Windows 10.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Country Chicks Spring Fair adventure!

 Whew.  Spring on the farm is exhausting with all the weeding & gardens, new baby animals & goats to milk, repairs & clean up from the winter.  Then someone got the bright idea (um, that would be me...) to have a vendor space at the Country Chicks Spring Festival at our local fairgrounds.  By local, I mean about a 45 minute trip from home!

This is our first time to vendor at this event and I've been making primitives and stressing about it for weeks!  My girls are working with me and both have items ready as well.
 Today we loaded it all up, drove to the Fairgrounds and located our space, and then unloaded and arranged it all.

We walked around and checked out all the other 'seasoned' vendor's spaces, filed away some great ideas for the Fall show and came home. 

I think we're ready...All we have to do is get up in the morning, have the milking & feeding done by 7 or 7:30 and then get ready to jet off for the day!  I think I'm tired in advance, lol!
 I think by the time the weekend is over I'm going to need a vacation!

I'm definitely going to need a few quiet days to recuperate from all the activity but I think it's going to be fun and hopefully profitable.
There are so many great things for sale it'll be a miracle if we come home with any profit at all!  There are some talented people out there and we saw some great antiques, collectibles and re-purposed items. 

I'm off to rest up until tomorrow and then I'll check back into blogland next week...or when I recover :-)

See you there!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Chickies are Hatched and the Calf is Bald!

 Captain's Log:  25 March, 2016.

Incubator #1 - 28 live chicks 16 no-hatch
Incubator #2 - 36 live chicks 8 no-hatch

Conclusion:  We now have a bazillion cheeping chickies!  Good grief, whose idea was this?

Oh.  That's right. 
 I get overwhelmed in the Spring.  I want to do everything.  I start everything.  I have Lyme Disease, a chronic illness.  I get tired.  And then I laugh at myself and after awhile, things slow down and I'm not quite so overwhelmed and I drink more coffee and I think I'll survive.

AND THEN THE SUN COMES OUT!!!!  And I must go outside and do MORE THINGS!!!!!

And so it goes!
 This is the calf we started that has done well from the beginning.
 This little bald guy is the one that was very very sick.  I gave him everything in my 'sick calf' arsenal and he has rallied!  He is now drinking his full bottles of goat milk and eating grain each day.  I am sure his hair will grow back eventually.  I think it's a side effect of too many meds, but he was dying and now he's getting well, so DO NOT LAUGH AT HIS BALDNESS and he will probably forgive me, lol!
 This is not a selfie.  How would I take a picture of myself while I am milking?  WHY would I take a picture of myself while milking and WHY would I be smiling like that while milking?

Actually, I don't mind milking at all.  It hurts the hands (arthritis), but honestly, the milk is worth the effort.  No chemicals, it's fresh every single day and it NEVER tastes like goats.  Honest.
 For a couple of weeks I have been overwhelmed with orders for primitives.  Large orders.  I started to wonder if I could actually accomplish it all in the time required by Ebay and Etsy, but I have prevailed!  (It helped that it's been raining endlessly here and the sunshine & birds were not calling me to the great outdoors!).
 I sewed, I painted, I grunged and I tied.  I finished, I mailed!  I heaved a great sigh of relief and now I'm in the process of cleaning my sewing/craft room up once again.

My daughter bumped a vat of oil off the shelf in my pantry and so I cleaned my pantry, too.  Do you know how hard it is to clean up (cooking) oil when it has splattered/pooled/soaked into many items in your pantry?  It's very clean in there now.
 Ok, this is officially a selfie.  I drew this back in the olden days when I was young.  The year was 1977....the year I graduated from high school.

I do a lot of craft work and sewing nowadays, but I haven't actually tried any drawing in years.  It's on my list of things to do before I die....but the list is long and I don't have time yet. 

My husband and I are dreaming of a solarium off of our dining room onto the porch.  We can't afford it, but that doesn't actually mean that we won't figure out a way to do it anyhow!  He's a builder, so the labor is free ;-)  We do have a greenhouse, but it would be so much more fun to have a warmer, heated solarium attached right to the house..right?  Probably we wet Washingtonians think of these things more than other people.
He's been milking one of the goats every morning, too.   That was our deal - We could raise two calves this year if he helped with the milking since my hands just won't tolerate all that effort.  He likes this ole E-Goat and he loves his little calf buddies, too.

This guy is a keeper.  We've been married for over 36 years and I still like him.  He's down the hill at his bee house right now.  He had a dentist appointment earlier, sold some honey in town, came home and got right on the tractor and headed down the hill to work on expanding the bee house.  There are six hives full of a gazillion stinging insects down there.  I personally could not be convinced for any reason under the sun to BUILD SOMETHING NEXT TO THOSE BEES!!!!!  But he is a braver man than I.  Especially since I am not a man!

That's a bit of what's going on at the farm.  We're keeping close to home most of the time.  When my mom was so sick, we spent many hours in doctor offices and cancer clinics and passing the time of her treatments in town.  We're catching up on things we let go around here and just trying to get our bearings & strength back.  This is the first Spring without her and I miss her with every bloom and every ray of sunshine.  We used to play this little game every Spring to see who could spot the first trillium (wild flower in our woods).    Dave & I went for a walk in the woods the other day and I spotted that first trillium of the season and it makes me cry every time I think about it.  She was my biggest fan and I miss her so very much. 
Ok, now that I've cried all over my keyboard, I'll buck up and think about something else! 
A friend came over today to talk about Lyme Disease.  We shared, we laughed, we even cried a bit.  I think we encouraged each other on this difficult road of life and agreed that it draws us closer to the Lord and more fit for His Kingdom! 
May each of us be drawn ever closer to Him as we travel this road with its joys and sorrows!   Off to live more life on the farm until I sit down to blog again!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Brace & Bits, Doctoring Calves and Dodging Raindrops!

 I wonder how many people today would recognize this amazing set of tools?  My husband had these in his shop and I have stolen them.  A nice brace & set of lovely auger bits are just what I need in my sewing/craft room!  Actually, I stole them a long time ago. I've used them to drill holes in fence posts for gate hinges and I've also used them in the house for craft projects.  Sadly, the smallest bit is missing from this antique set.
 Shhh.  Don't remind him that he used to own this....After all, HE'S got power tools.
 Today I drilled the knob holes in this old thread cabinet just a little bit bigger so I could put new knobs on it.  If it had been in better condition, I'd have done my best to restore it properly, but it's seen better days and now it's going to serve as storage for my primitives patterns as I make them.
 It rained on Monday, so I made foxes.
 It rained today, so I made Cinnamon Bunns and blue Steller's Jays.
 Come to think of it, it's been raining forever, it seems.  Tonight it's raining hard and the wind is blowing pretty good.  The weatherman was suggesting gusts of 40mph and I notice the lights have flickered a few times.  I really hope they don't go out...I'd hate to lost the chickies I've got half-incubated!  I've been turning them three times a day.
 These little coffee cup bags have snap-shut tops and in the picture above I'm showing you the secret to making them snap!  Two sections of an old tape measure (I didn't steal it, I asked for it very nicely!), one on each side - makes it snap closed nicely!  I'm adding them to the things we'll take to sell at the Country Chicks Spring Festival in April.
 My newest addition to the sewing machine collection is a child-sized treadle!  This one is called an Eldredgette and stands about 24" tall.  It looks bigger than it is in this picture because it's in the foreground.  It's actually amusingly small.
Remember the quilt show I mentioned in my last post?  Well, here we are....I asked my husband that morning if I looked ok.  He said I looked like a hippie.  I was just a kid during the hippie era, but I guess I'm a late bloomer ;-)

The farm is still hopping.  We've got another calf, but this one is struggling for life.  He's got scours and probably pneumonia, but we're giving him everything I've got in the barn medicine chest and we've got him tucked in a cozy, hay-filled stall with a heat lamp to protect him from the wind & rain.  It's a big job to take care of animals.  Normally we feed calves a bottle (goat milk) twice a day after we milk.  While this little guy is sick, he gets his normal bottle (with many added meds) and then a bottle of Re-Sorb (gatorade for calves) midday and just before WE go to bed.  We give him Penicillin shots, too.  We're hoping and praying he turns the corner and gets over it. 
My new chickies came in the mail today, too.  I've got 6 baby pullets (girls) and two baby roosters - an old English breed called Speckled Sussex.  I've made more trips to the barns and up and down the driveway in the last couple of days than I can count!  Did I mention it's raining?  Can you say....drowned rat?  That's what I've spent most of my time looking like, lol!
Well, time to call it a day.  There'll be more chores tomorrow and I think I need to make bread again, too.  Pleasant dreams until next time!