Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Menagerie

With so little time I've hired a lawn crew, Gertrude and Agnus. The sweet girls not only mow and fertilize the lawn for free, they volunteered to clean up the garden stubble. And that was even before our 3 year old bestowed the illustrious titles of Blue Wave and Purple Sparkles. Everyone should have a Blue Wave and Purple Sparkles especially since they leave the strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, and cabbage alone unlike the critters that begin with a G and are milked twice a day.

My only complaint about the lambs is this morning they left me desperately scramblinhg for wool as I tried my best to stop their headlong rush to greet the (dress clad) Jehovah Witness ladies, mistaking
their vehicle for the arrival of the grand daughters. Yes, our two lambs when not forming a greeting committee or mowing the lawn can be seen trailing along with the kids, one with a purple leash and dog collar and the other a blue set. Probably where the Blue Wave and Purple Sparkle inspiration came from. Who is who I don't know but I have been informed that the nice selection of sheep collars I have is not nearly as handy as the dog ones. Why the sheep need collars at all is beyond me since the lambs follow the grandkids everywhere. Maybe it has something to do with we don't have a dog.

But then who needs a dog when you have baby bunnies to play with. Yes, we have four, all girls of course. You might have recalled we inherited a boy and a girl meat rabbit from the grand kids. Once there were two and now there are six.

Assigned to bug control and lawn fertilization is a strikingly handsome Asian Blue, copper brown and iridescent peacock like feathered rooster named Rainbow Dash.  ("Cause it's such a good name!", says our 6 year old) and of course the name has to be used every year for something. First it was kid wether goats and now it is a rooster. Hopefully he lives a long life and I won't have to try and find another excuse not to name something that we register by that name. Rainbow Dash is not alone for he competes with Sir Gallop for the ladies, lots of ladies. Sir Gallop is named for way he runs crossed the yard. Rainbow Dash may be dashingly handsome but Sir Gallop is the true gentleman as he checks the yard to see if all the ladies are in the coop before retiring.

This year is the first for raising the Easter Egg breed and Asian Blues. So far I am super impressed with the Easter Egg breed. It is not an official breed yet but they get really big, really quick making them a great meat bird. Not to confuse that with gets really big really quick as in the Cornish but Cornish are not foraging birds, don't lay well at all, and have to be babied. My Easter Egg chickens are free range and they have laid sooner than my Rhode Island Reds and Wyodottes, plus are friendly. (Butter is a great example, she hops up on the stand when I am milking and insists on being petted and petted and petted.) Though a pullet, they still lay large adult size eggs. Now if we could just find the eggs. I found a nest with 28  eggs tonight behind a pile of plywood hemmed in on one side with a heap of antlers. I am tired of playing hide and seek especially when it requires contortion acts like last night and then I am left to display my horrible throwing abilities as I pitch the eggs off into the field beyond not knowing how old they are.

We got a partial weekend to ourselves. Kirk rushed to insolate a shed, putting down a rubber mat floor, and we put together nest boxes.Next to build for the coop or cccc...poop as the 3 year old calls it, is the roosts, hook up electricity, add a window, and a small door for just the chickens. And that is only what the chickens need before winter. So much to do and so little time.

Since 6 goats, 20 some chickens ( No, I don't have an exact count. They are everywhere.) 6 bunnies, 1 bum calf named Sam, (the sweetest calf we have ever had), 1 cat along with a brand new kitten named Duke Wellington and four grand daughters have come to reside with us, our place and time is full.

I'll try to blog a couple times a month and let you know a few of the things I've learned. Not with the detailed information as in the past as there is just not the time. But since my brain never ceases and it would be nice to format my thoughts I'll give it a try once more.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Catching Up

I'm missed, well Lisa missed me and asked if I had reached my goals and what I was up to. My goals went out the window for the most part as family troubles crowded in consuming our time more than ever before. Poor Kirk only gets the chance to wistfully looks at his knife making equipment as he passes by on another rescue mission, though we could badly use the additional income. The ride has been interesting though. We have found out first hand what hoarding for 28 years will do. It equals a near loss of life, a stay in the ICU, permanent and significant damage to your health, and a large clean up bill to sanitize your home after close relatives have mucked it out. Not this relative though since the dirt in the 17 year old carpet in the home we moved into sent me to the hospital for a stay. Imagine what an entire house piled six foot deep with debris would have done? No, I dealt with a host of other family emergencies and continue to do so.

Though I hear there is a show about hoarders, believe me it is not entertaining. It is just more evidence of what a self-centered world we have become. As I reflect upon all the problems around us, I find the root to nearly all the them is self-centeredness. People fill their days with wants and dreams crowding out reality to the point they can no longer face it and turn to destructive behaviors. The Greatest Generation became great because they were the result of years of sacrificing wants for needs, facing a harsh reality that life isn't fair and being grateful for basics like food on the table, clothes on your backs, a roof over your heads, and a 7 day a week job with Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter off that provided those NECESITIES is happiness and what Kirk's grandpa had. I am not advocating for a 7 day work week, we would have no time to rescue our relatives but I am saying that gratitude is what makes one happy, not wants, for of them there is a never ending list. The Greatest Generation were the result of the hardy CAN DO generation that survived the Great Depression. Now we have the I Deserve Because I Exist generation. Spoilt, caught up in wishful dreams crowding out reality. My father use to counsel me, "We don't deserve a job that we LOVE, jobs are for EARNING a living. Hobbies are meant for pleasure. If you have a job that you love like I have loved ranching, feel extremely grateful." Dad wasn't always a manager of a ranch, for years he just made a living.

To add a another tid bit to your reality check. Kirk works in the coal industry. The one that supplies nearly 40% of our electricity. Obama is trying to force coal out of business and has many believing it can be replaced with green energy. I want to know what the kick back is for him because the reality is far from the hog wash he's pushing to the public.

The wind industry that after 40 years and $120 billion of taxpayers funded subsidies contributes 4.1% of US electricity and solar 0.4% of which only half is distributed. Last year the administration gave $11.3 billion of the taxpayers money to wind and solar energy. Meanwhile coal supplied nearly 40% of our electricity and over $1 billion in fees TO the federal government. Talk about reality faces fantasy. Further pushing reality aside is the fact that a two-megawatt windmill contains 260 tonnes of steel requiring 170 tonnes of coking coal and 300 tonnes of iron ore, all mined, transported and produced by hydrocarbons."

 "a windmill could spin until it falls apart and NEVER generate as much energy as was invested in building it." .... Thomas Homer -Dixon. Carbon Shift

The so called green energy DOES have a great impact on the environment. I know, I don't want to live next to one of those monstrosities.A nostalgic windmill that pumps water like the ones on the ranch, yes. The huge monsters, no. Gone would be the vast amount of wildlife that grace our property.

If you want to know what we have been up to, well in short hand it would be shoving fantasy in the hind end and inserting reality. I don't care what you want, this is what is. Face it! Make it better! Be grateful for what you have. There is nothing wrong with bettering your lot in life but don't expect it to be handed to you on a silver platter.

Thank you for listening to a frustrate woman's rants. Tomorrow's post will be about the menagerie that the Lord sent to help heal the trouble hearts of our four adorable grand daughters who have moved in to fill our days and crowd us out of bed at night.

Then now and then I will try and update you on the things I have learned through my experiments but don't expect the detailed posts of the past. I'm on too many rescue missions to find the time and postings will be sporadic. The long and short of it is my wants have to be put on hold because needs must first be fulfilled.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Close

After careful thought and visiting with our oldest daughter, who gave me a huge push into blogging in the first place, and my husband, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to say goodbye to Easy Living the Hard Way. The bottom line is that eighty percent of the goals I set up five years ago when I began blogging have not been met. The type of blog I write requires a minimum of 10 - 15 hours a week. Too many of our needs have gone to the back burner as I write. This new place requires much more of our time especially now as we work to set things up.

I don't regret writing this blog, I've learned a great deal and met wonderful people around the world.

One of my goals to write this blog was to improve my writing skills. It did for a time but now I'm regressing as I rush to simply get it done.

I had hoped the blog would morph into a book but alas, I lack the time to write a book or articles for magazines. I use to do a few articles.

The goal to push myself into trying new things on a continual basis was successful but now I have the self-discipline to continue without the push.

Sadly the information I spent so many hours acquiring is mostly on this blog and not in notebooks where I can quickly use them as a resource for improving our lives. Part of those 10 to 15 extra hours a week will go into doing just that, compiling research and taking notes on what I have learned. That applies especially to the garden where I'm going to pick up where I left off on my garden journal two years ago. I had barely gotten started. It will include for each vegetable the PH, soil planting temperatures, freezing temperatures, planting instructions, water requirements, nutrient needs, planting companions, types of seeds most successful, when I started them indoors, etc. etc. etc.

I'm even going to include how I used the vegetables after it was harvested. Take the cabbage for example. I've cut the cabbage off the plant, put slices in the stem which created four new cabbages, then cooked with the cabbage, and used the wild yeast from it to create sourdough.  I'll include my storing experiments that include cold storage, canning, freezing, or drying. There will be even a section for each as to what animals love them. The goats happen to love cabbage. The chickens are not so thrilled. Maybe they like it cooked better, we shall see. You get the idea, extremely extensive.

My original plan was to write an informative blog that inspired people to try new things and share information. That has been an almost complete failure. Some of that is probably my fault. But none the less it is a fact. I have become more of a source of entertainment than motivational inspiration. I've instead decided to try formulating a newsletter. The newsletter would be a participatory group of people who would each take turns and write about what they had learned with livestock, the garden, the kitchen, etc. throughout the month. Others in the group could chime in with encouragement, ideas, and helpful hints. Basically it would be a support group. The emphasis here would be participation by all. If you are interested in being a part of the group please contact me at hollyrexroat@gmail.com.

After careful consideration, I say goodbye. This decision is not easy. Writing the blog has been become a bit of an addiction. I could spend hours doing it and I have. Yet, I've never had the time to do with it like I've wanted. An article or book manuscript I can write and rewrite adding as I learn until I feel satisfied. I'll be able to recapture the creative descriptions I was once told in my writing group, the one I don't have time for anymore, that I was rather good at.

I've gained some wonderful friends through this blog so lets stay in touch. There is always e-mail.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dried Beans, It Is The Future

First of all, my experience with growing dried beans is about nill. Yes, I often grow Dragon's Tongue but they seem to get eaten fresh and none end up going to the seed stage. In fact, the family asked this year if I had any in the garden. I did not, having decided that I was going to experiment with new varieties of beans big time.

I've found a new favorite for green beans and so with my grandpa's Kinghorn wax bean, I've got two really good ones. The purple early bean that is suppose to do well in cold soil is still a question. I would like three really good green beans. Not that I need that many green beans but my goal is to have three really good varieties in each category, tomatoes, green bean, dried bean etc. I'm thinking of the potato famine and how growing just two varieties ended up with a whole nation starving. Those two were both susceptible to the virus that wiped them out. I want three not just good tasting but three that do well under adverse circumstances. Late spring, early frost, and a virus definitely tested the garden big time. Though the turtle and northern dried bean varieties succumbed and then came out of it, they were then hit by the heavy snow. Our season is just to short to play that game. The Contender green beans were not fazed nor were the Orcas or the Kidney beans by the virus. Of course everything was effected by the snow.

My plan for next year is to use plastic to warm the soil as a large amount of snow fell last year chilling the ground big time. Maybe a large amount of snow is normal for up here. I don't know. I do know that the soil took forever to warm up. Major chilly soil was a new lesson as was the wilt virus.

The weather and virus was a good test though bad production was the result. The next test was how big the pods were and how many per plant. Not that I counted but it became clear that the Kidney pods were the longest and the bean the largest which means more food per plant. The plants were loaded with pods, most too green with too small of bean to think of harvesting.Though the bulk of the pods did not reach maturity. there were still far more of kidneys than the other three varieties of dried beans I grew. Two containers versus a partial for Orca and the skimpy one with turtle and northern beans. Note how large the kidney pod is. It held on average six beans per pod. A northern pod is sitting on the counter. Yup, tiny in comparison.

The Orca bean's pod was not as large as the kidney and held four beans. The bean is decent size and round. Not all beans will be the kidney size so I figure good size is good enough. As for the turtle and northern beans, the pods were short with tiny beans inside. Most all the pods were still green. They were hit hardest by the virus and with the small size and short pod, the production was not nearly what the other two beans were. In fact, not worth the effort of growing them in a limited space as far as I'm concerned. I love black beans and northerns but I'll buy for now.  I'm sure that I'm partial to them because I have such a limited experience with dried beans. We have so few varieties available to us here. I'm sure there are ones out there I will love but just haven't tried yet.

I'm definitely growing kidney and orca again next year. I've got two or three more new ones I'm putting in also. Then when I get a nice variety that can handle our soil, weather, and short season I can begin to be picky about taste.

As for harvesting,instead of the traditional pull the plants and put them in storage until the pods dry procedure, I put pulled the pods off the plants and put them on a tarp in the garage. I just don't have space for the plants. And since the weather had turned to snow when I was picking and I could not glean any more from the garden at that time, I sat on the tarp and shelled beans, my curiosity getting the best of me. Many of them were not ready, stilling being a bit green.

This is what happens usually when I've let a few of the greener beans dry on their own. They shrivel up. It isn't that I've never tried growing dried beans before. It is that I've never had decent success. Few reach maturity before the wet cold weather hits and many of those shrivel when dried on their own.

See the shriveled bean that dried on its own? So with lots of the beans not mature could I save them? This would be critical in a survival situation. You would be using everything you could get your hands on. Now being the time to experiment, I tried drying them in the dehydrator at close to its lowest temperature to see if it had a different effect on the immature beans. Low and behold they dried but did not shrivel. Woo hoo!! The final test is to see if the taste is effected by the immaturity. Even if it is by a little, that will be a huge success. The other thing that thrilled me is that though the goats at first stuck their noses up at the bean plants, they later devoured them down to the sticks. Plus, the pods that I shelled were also devoured. Yeah, food for us and food for the goats.

I love it when the Lord nudges you along. I had been prompted to try my hand at growing dried beans. I didn't think much about it. I just did it this year. Inspiration struck while I was shelling beans. It cost me 40 dollars for 24 packages of 12 small mouth canning jar lids at the cheapest price I could find them.  I can go through that many jars lids in a blink. Canning is not going to be my first priority in a survival situation. Yes, I'm going to stock up on lids as I've let myself get low but after one season or two, they will be gone.  Yes, I've started to buy Tattler lids and will continue to stock up after I'm done building up my metal lid supply. They can be reused and reused but they are expensive at first to invest in and just how many jars and lids do I want?

 This year I'm running out of jars. Did I just not can that much in the past or do I just have a lot of old food? Can't tell as I do not have decent shelves in my food storage room and so most things are in boxes. It is one of my goals this year to put in new shelves replacing the pitiful wimpy ones in the storage room and empty all the old food out of jars. With a failed garden last year and no peaches or pears to can, old is about all I have from before. I want a inventory done on just what canning supplies I have when I can get things organized. I know I have a canner that needs parts and has needed parts for several years. I have two canners and have been just using the one. In 2015 the canning supplies will be stocked. I've let preparedness in this area as in many others slip while I moved and dealt with family issues.

I got a bit off tract there. The a....w ha... moment came while I was shelling beans. In a survival situation I'm not going to be putting the huge emphasis on green beans as I do now. Dried beans will be the bulk of what I grow in the bean area. Think about it. You never see a movie with the pioneers or cowboys hauling around cans of green beans or bottles. No, it is dried beans. Dried beans most years preserve themselves on their own. They shrink to about half their original size making storing wonderful.

Yes, the pioneers strung some green beans on thread and hung them to dry but the greater part of their storage was in dried beans. Today people put the emphasis the other way around and very few grow dried beans at all. Now I know why I felt the prompting to try my hand at dried beans. I love it when the Lord nudges me along teaching a little here and a little there.

This year he has me thinking along the lines of what will store on its own with little effort on my part. Time is critical as since I have moved and have more things to put away for the winter that I am short on energy and time.

This is a call to all you northern growers. What dried beans do you grow? I'd love a heads up on what varieties to try next. The seed catalogue descriptions only say so much. They definitely did not tell be enough about the turtle and northern bean to make a wise decision.  Plus, have any of you cooked the greener looking dried beans. Do they taste any different.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Natural Fire Starting Materials

 What did you do when the moon did its eclipse thing? Sleep? I'm sorry, you missed a beautiful sight. I admit I was tempted, 4:00 am is early and Kirk was off so conceivably we could have slept in. Not only did I get up at four but I got up several time before that. You would have thought it was Christmas. I went out on the deck to check because I missed the strawberry moon because I got up at the wrong time. I'm like that. Sometimes I get messed up. I wasn't about to miss this.

Alas, we only got a half eclipse. What was up with that I don't know. Must have been because of where we live. We watched from the deck slipping in and out of the sliding glass doors because it was chilly and we were too lazy to get dressed. Besides the warm bed just a few feet away kept calling to us. We just had to obey. Then to our delight, the moon slipped low enough in the sky that we could watch while laying under the warm covers. It doesn't get better than that.

After the eclipse, I was torn between going back to sleep and getting up for a stroll in the early morning light. The moon was suppose to set and the sun rise at the same time. Probably not going to happen here as we figured the moon would be behind the mountain before the sun came up but a rosy glow on both horizons would still be a sight to see. Armed for bear, he's probably gone but I'm not sure about the mountain lion, we walked to the valley below, a pistol in our pocket. Maybe not a bear gun but it made us feel safer. We could maybe scare a predator away at least or alert a neighbor to come and help. Ranchers get up early and so do most of the other neighbors who work elsewhere. At least by five am.
As we walked off our hill and descended down by the creek, I swear the temperature dropped a good ten to fifteen degrees. Heat rises and so we are warmer at times on the hill and since trees along the creek hold the cold it is indeed a chilly experience walking along it. The sight was worth it as the quaky aspen are decked out in twinkling gold with  red underbrush glowing in the warm early light. in the early morning light.

 I got to wondering about this cottony stuff as a fire starter as we studied the trees and brush. It is fire season you know. Ours is crackling behind me as I type. Not a fire in the stove every day time yet but now and then it gets a bit chilly. The grand kids are here for the weekend and they like the house warmer than grandma needs it. I'll admit I used lots of paper, some sawdust, and smaller wood to start the stove. But what if? My mind goes there often. A fire is essential to cook, stay warm, and for mental health in a survival situation. My knowledge of how to start a fire is pretty much limited to a match and a Bic lighter. Yes, I experimented  a little when I taught the Cub Scouts. We did the Ferro rod and battery with steel wool spark flying thing but I'm hardly a pro. I need to learn about tinder and a whole lot more.

One of my goals is to remedy that. Most survival conscious people carry matches, a Farro rod, and a Bic lighter with them most of the time but still it takes practice and knowledge to get the job done. Okay, maybe not so much with a Bic lighter but the Bic lighter will only last so.... long, it can be lost, or stolen and then where are you? If you have built many fires you know how many matches you can go through especially if the wind is blowing or not. I swear matches aren't what they use to be. I go through quite a few in my house starting the stove. They put only a drop of sulfur on the end of a little stick where as in my grandmothers day, and my childhood days, the matches were a whole lot better. The matches back then burned until they burned your fingers. Now, good luck getting them to stay lit at all. 
Even if you have a way to start a fire, what materials are best suited to start one with? Yes, I like paper too, even toilet paper but I'm keeping mine for just that, toilet paper. You might have noticed that Cody Lundin in his television shows, I've only seen a few, always picks up fire starting material as he is walking. Good idea but just what you are suppose to pick up is the question?

We were walking and so we picked up this cottonly like growth to try it out. Our choice of fire starter for this particular day was the Ferro rod. It sends lots of hot sparks. We were a bit surprised. The cottony stuff burned fa....st.

I mean really fast and then went out just as fast. No way was this going to start twigs on fire. We called our son, the fire starting guru of the family. He even has down the bow drill method. I guess the bow drill only works when the weather cooperates, not too humid and not too cold. Anyway, he advised us to ball up the cottony stuff in our fists before trying it the next time. He said the same holds true for cat tail fluff. Also that we needed to have another tinder underneath that was ready to catch on fire like some dried grass. He named off the temperature in which the Ferro rod sparks and he said that it was hotter than flint. He went on to teach us that certain materials burn better using a Ferro rod and others a flint. Well that was an eye opener. Aren't things always more complicated than they seem. Or is it just to me?

Our son recommended trying roughing up the bark on some sagebrush and trying the Ferro rod with it. He said it works well and we have lots of that. Got to try that. And he said that the cattails and this cottony stuff works better with the flint method as it is a cooler fire starter. It doesn't burn up quite so quickly. Got to try that too. After we try that we need to get some Old Man's Beard and experiment with it.Yeah, we have a great deal to learn. Good thing our son can be used as a sounding board for our experimentation. It will make the learning quicker.

I've learned that though you can ask questions and read until you think you know everything, there is still nothing like doing it over and over in different situations to move knowledge to the wisdom stage. In a survival situation muscle memory is critical. Your body needs to be able to do it automatically as you mind deals with the shocks and panic feeling of the situations. Our son might have said to bunch of the cat tail material and the cottony material but how bunched up works best. When you need it is not the time to learn it. 

But learning to start a fire with different methods isn't the end of Fire 101. I think we definitely need to learn more about stacking the wood in our fire. I want to try the big logs on the bottom, then smaller on top and smaller yet laid in a criss-cross pattern. Apparently the little fire burns and then on down to the big ones allowing it to burn a long time without stoking it. Pretty handy when it will be a long cold night and you need your rest. What kind of way works best in high winds? Hurricane flats up here last night had me playing musical beds. I was sleeping with one grand daughter but another came in when the wind stared to howl. With them off to sleep I slipped out to find less cramped quarters. The next bed I found didn't remain with just me in it for long as the youngest grand daughter by this time had woken up and gone looking for me to crawl in with. The wind can at times really whip it up. It wasn't just wind though. It was raining too. Does one fire stacking method work better with that situation? Hmmm. I know so little.

So much to learn and so little time to do it in. Oh well, a day at a time. The point is to just continue moving forward not relying on the ease of the modern world to always be there to care for us.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Homemade Fruit Smoothies

Early morning hours and busy schedules have made the homemade fruit smoothy an essential nutrient boost. Kirk this last week was on day shift. He leaves at a quarter to five in the morning. It is dark. 4:15 a.m.is when the alarm goes off and it is just too early to think of sitting down and eating a hearty breakfast especially when his eyes are barely open, his stomach not yet awake. Fifteen hour days take there toll as it is shortly before bedtime before he returns to the protection of our home. Food, and bed is all he can think about at that hour, and morning comes wa...y too quickly.

Hence,  something light works perfect. Something that stirs the adrenals and jump starts the day. A muffin, Egg McRexroat, or the like works great for a little later during a morning break. He has found that waiting for the break to eat leaves him dragging a bit the whole morning. Maybe it is the eat often but light thing they talk about. With Kirk and I both eating fruit smoothies frequently, it has meant making yogurt up to twice a week. I use the yogurt in making pancakes and where my recipes call for buttermilk also which ups the demand. To keep the culture well and alive you need to make yogurt about every six days at least. I haven't gotten around to making buttermilk and yogurt. Our schedule is just too hectic still. A little milk added and the yogurt works just fine for buttermilk.

So as with all things, practice makes perfect or with me somewhere in the neighborhood. Recipes are great but experience imperative to repeated success. I heat fresh goat milk to 180F. The instructions say 185F but more often than not as I'm trying to reach that temperature I become preoccupied and my milk boils. Boiled milk will not make yogurt. I hang a thermometer to the side of the pan so as I'm working around the kitchen I can keep an eye on the milk. I have several other thermometers, even a digital one, but it takes more time to hold them in the milk and wait for them to come up to temp so I'm not as likely to do it as often as I should.  Also insuring that I'm not as likely to make yogurt when I'm pressed for time, which is much of the time. So I use the thermometer clinging to the edge. What I've learned is that the temp. is a bit lower there. For some reason the 180F reading on the thermometer is enough of a buffer zone to keep me from boil the milk. It is hot enough that it works in making yogurt. Too low a temp and the culture won't take as it need to alter the chemistry in the milk.

When it reaches 180F I then place the pan in a bowl of cool water and change the water several times to hurry the drop to 115F. At this point I add a half to three-fourths of a jar of yogurt from the previous batch.

My culture was purchased and is Y-5. The sweetest of cultures. I'm thinking of ordering a Y-4 to see how we like that but for now, I'm fine until things settle down. I use a Cuisine yogurt maker which is simply a plastic base and lid that holds a constant and appropriate temperature. I've made yogurt in a metal dutch oven on the stove with repeated success except that the water my jars sat in caused the dutch oven to rust. I've made yogurt with a heating pad that does not automatically turn off wrapped around it and a towel around and over that. I've failed at the crockpot method but I've got a hankering to try it again only this time put water in the crockpot and jars set in the water like the dutch oven. I've heard of using a good, warmed up thermos, and a jar at the bottom of a sleeping bag but haven't tried it.

You are getting the idea. Instructions are a jumping off point, not the final word.
This particular fruit smoothy is made with frozen raspberries from our garden, a pint of peaches I canned a couple years ago, and a touch of sugar. My peaches are canned with barely any sugar and I love using them in smoothies and it is a way to use up the older jars. The raspberries make the smoothy a little tart. This makes for a drinkable smoothy.
We use all kinds of fruit and if some of it is frozen it makes for a thick, use a spoon kind of delight instead of a drink. Mix and match fruit to see what combination you like. It also makes a difference how sweet your yogurt is that you use as to if you need to add sugar. The amount of yogurt you add  is to taste. The yogurt gives a creamy texture and of course adds nutrition. I add probably about a cup of yogurt. I'm not about to measure. Looks and tastes good is good enough for me.
We have three of these Nalgene small jars in which I put the smoothy in the refrigerator. It is handy like Saturday when we went to one town to buy some groceries, livestock feed, and picked up our Bountiful Basket. After ordering the Bountiful Basket in one town I ended up making arrangement to pick up wood for our fire at the sawmill at the town in the opposite direction. The morning was therefor spent on the run. No time for breakfast until it was lunchtime. Those fruit smoothies though they did not fill us, they staved off hunger.
Today we had a banana, peaches, raspberry, yogurt fruit smoothy, really good!! What is your favorite combination of fruits or vegetables for a smoothy? I'm sure we can all use ideas so speak up and share. I never use vegetables and I need to learn how.

You need not have a goat or a cow to make your own yogurt. Use store milk and you will save a bundle on your grocery bill.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Computer Illiterate and My Excuse

I can really be slow sometimes. I just found a whole bunch of comments that were hidden away in the depths of cyberspace. How come they are tucked away there and they did not make it on to the blog? Seriously, I didn't mean to ignore you. I just did not know you had written. And here I thought hardly anyone spoke to me, sniffle, sniffle. You probably think I'm a snooty old broad but really I'm just terribly computer illiterate. I work my way around the computer like I work my way around the store. I walk in, ask a clerk where is the such and such  if I don't know where something is and go straight to it. You won't see me wondering up and down the isles gazing at all the sundries. Nope, that is no pleasure trip for me.

It's that mean ole Autism thing. You seen lovely stimulation and I see a herd of buffalo thundering my way about to run me over. When you walk down the isle your mind focuses on a few things, mine sees it all. My mind is trying to process the distance between the isle, how high the shelves are and how far apart. I see all the colors and how they are in relation to each other. I see all the items on the shelves, their shapes, sizes, textures etc. And my mind photographs them. I can look away and still see the picture of the items on the shelf. When I turn, of course my eyes are wide open and they are taking more pictures and more, and more, Before long I'm buried in pictures with tons of information needing filed away in my brain. Believe it or not I can right this minute still see some of the pictures in my mind of the shelves of items in Walmart where we visited last weekend. Not exciting shelves, the cleaning isle, the notebook isle, etc. Just the very few places I went because you know I did not wonder around.

When you watch a movie, you are involved emotionally and influenced by the scenery. I'm noticing the scenery in detail, the costumes in detail, the actors, how they play off each other, how the difference in their characters complements each other, how well the story is developed, etc. etc. etc. Actually I'm getting a whole lot more out of the picture than the average person. Even the fight scenes fascinate me. Not in the gruesome level but in the how did they fake that and a wow that was cooly orchestrated kind of way. If it is just blood and guts I'm not interested because there is no depth as the director is playing purely on the shock factor. It is why I love the movie, The Huntsman. My son-law can't figure out why I like it. He does not see what I see. I see excellent story development that artistically took a fairy tail and wove it in another direction, though not too far off. I saw excellent acting and during certain scenes marveled at how well parts were played. The costumes were phenomenal and enhanced the over all feeling of the movie. The details of them incredible. I saw the choice of scenery and how they used lighting to provoke an effect. My husband and I have had long talks about those details. Yet there are very few movies I will see in a theater because it is just too much stimulation. Too big a screen, too much, noise, too many people. The movie is enough stimulation on our small screen tv. in our quiet home.

That is why I hate disorder, TOO MUCH STIMULATION!! Which is the state my home is in right now. That is why I'm going nuts. I need to put my garden to bed, finish canning, get the hay arranged and fenced off from the deer. etc. etc. etc. It is not because I'm a clean freak. You would not say that if you saw how bad my house looks right now. It is because order means LESS mental processing. Autistic people are not great multi-taskers.

It is one of the reasons why we moved. I was so.... over stimulated every day living in a small town. I love living where we live. There is the creek, a few insects noises and a few bird noises. Cars don't often pass by on the road down below and the neighbors are really quiet. Sometimes a dog barks - but not much. On rare occasion we hear a lawn mower but half the neighbors don't even have lawns. The area between neighbors is on average five acres but there are a lot of empty five acre lots with nothing on them. We live at the end of a short lane. On two sides of us is ranch land. Not much noise there. Beyond that is state land and the mountain.

So when I think you get the idea. When I hop on to the computer, I function as well as I do in a store. I go straight to where I'm headed and don't wonder down the isles. I miss out on things that way I know but I'm not curled up in the corner of the closet rocking. It is why new things are so difficult for me. Have you ever gone to the gas station and fiddled with a new pump for a few minutes and then before you got gas went home or to another station? I have over and over again. Oh I'd go back to the new pump. I don't totally avoid new things but I'd have visualized the thing and figured it out before returning. Silly maybe to you but new things are extremely overwhelming. Not in a get out of my comfort zone kind of thing because I'm rarely in that zone but in a too much information not clearly laid out kind of way, especially when you understand that I'm also trying to process all the noise, and movement at the gas station at the same time. The pump wouldn't be that big a deal all on its own.

Funny how our different brains process information. The sign directing you to the fort down the road from us. The fort the Indians got way back in the 1800's is totally confusing to me. To my husband it is as clear as day. But to me the angle it sits and the spot it sits in directs you off onto a different paved road. The sign is right before that road and angled toward it. In fact you have to cross the bridge and travel a ways and then turn left onto a dirt road that has a number of other totally unrelated signs listed there where you turn. Kirk's brain does not process the angle, the location etc.

Kirk's and my brains don't think much a like at all. Not think much a like as in how we process information, not as in what conclusions we come to like opinions on subjects. It is why we complement each other. Where he is weak, I'm not and vise versa. Like last night, he was wondering why when the barn door was open and there was grain inside in a dish waiting, why did the goats follow me in the barn, eat a little grain, and when I went back out, they left the grain and followed me. The chickens do the same thing. I told him, I'm mom. Stick with mom and she will take care of you, silly. And of course I'm mom. It has been my nickname and my role. In fact I signed a thank you note this week, Love Mom, to two grown men not related to me, one of the gentlemen being my age. They started affectionately calling me Mom when they stayed with us in September. Nothing new as my older brother's friends in high school called me mom. It didn't matter if they were male or female. It doesn't stop there for my oldest daughter has friends that call me mom. They are grown and married.

I may not be that hot thing from down the street that the guys whistle at but I don't mind. Mom is something far more endearing.  

Maybe I've skirted around the subject the long way but the point is it isn't that I can't figure out the computer. It is that the computer just has too many places to wonder around in over stimulating me. So I treat it like I do a trip to the store. I know what I want and I go straight to it or I ask the clerk, which just happens to be our oldest daughter, and she directs me to exactly where I need to go. So excuse me for over looking you. I really did not mean to. My problem is that now that I have found you, I can't figure out how to comment back. Especially now that you've disappeared off the place I found you when I clicked the publish button. Maybe I need to go ask the clerk? But if we don't get it figured out or it is too complex to comment back. Please know that I wasn't ignoring you on purpose. I really do appreciate it when you write to me.

And maybe while I ask the clerk how to contact you maybe she can figure out why the pictures I download off the camera are now in a jumbled heap. I can't figure out how to reset it back to the way it was. Was that one of those side isle trips I took and should not have? It is dangerous territory when you walk off the beaten path.