Thursday, April 29, 2010

Buck Kid Rejected by Mom

Aren't they adorable? The goslings I mean. The adults on the other hand are not on my good graces. Your probably wondering why I'd titled the post about kids and there aren't any kid pictures. Well, 3 children, 1 being a rather cranky 1 year old, and 2 more to wrangle along with the camera and the changing of lenses and well..., my kid pictures turned out black. OOOPS!!! I guess I should have checked to see that I had the shots before coming home but alas it's too late because this eye that swelled almost shut last night but was pretty good today, has given up and is giving me fits again and I'm doing the one eyed Willy thing again. Who's one eyed Willy. In the USA or maybe it's just in Wyoming, any car that has only one headlight is a one eyed Willy. That's what I've been calling myself to the kid's amusement.
So I'm sorry, you'll have to use your imagination for today but I hope you enjoy the view of the other little babies we went to see. There are nine goslings total and I observed several more - pardon me, what are the girl geese called? Oh yeah it's goose and a gander. - gooses (now that sounds silly) sitting on eggs over at the neighbor's pen. Geese are great to watch in the distance but I'd just as soon keep them that way for they climb into my watering pans to swim leaving loose feathers, and water so muddy brown the stock won't drink it. And if that isn't bad enough, they poop all over the path around the fence line so that's what you get to step in when your doing chores. Another good reason to have chore boots for the girls. Grrr... No, I've not had any trouble with the geese being aggressive. I just get big, spread my wings, um... arms, and act like an angry goose by hissing and running in their direction. On second thought maybe I'm not acting. I am usually ticked off at them. I just figure the best way to get the message across is to speak their language. Call me Doctor Doolittle if you want but I don't expect them to understand English.
Down the lane is also four little calves

and up the way is 1 lone lamb, though he's expecting company and soon should have some playmates.
The grand daughters loved watching the babies but what I really wanted to check out was the kids I got a call on late last night. I'd just gotten the youngest grand daughter in to bed and had taken care of the chicks, plants in the basement etc. and was heading to bed when the phone rang. Not many call after 10 o'clock since we once upon a time were know to go to bed early. Sure enough it was a minor emergency. Not unusual this time of year.
But just so you know if you call me late, and I'm headed to bed, I might just show up in my pajamas. Yup, flannel ones with antique trucks on them is what I had on. They're cast offs from our son. I made them for him and he told me Ford vehicles stunk. Well, pardon may wee. I couldn't find anything in a Chevy or a Dodge so I took them as my own since he couldn't be sen wearing such Ford apparel.
When I arrived at some friends to see if I couldn't convince their doe to except both kids not just the one. I was just too tired to change and I figured I wasn't headed to no party. The doe was a sweet little Nubian I've know for a couple years now. She had already kidded before the owner had arrived. Last year, she had a single kid and we don't know if she was confused by having two or if the labor was tough but she didn't want anything to do with the second kid. A difficult labor will often turn a doe off to mutiple kids. What ever the reason the kid was still covered in afterbirth.
Our friend had it wrapped up in a towel and it looked so small and helpless. She was ready to take it home and just bottle feed it but I asked if I couldn't try a few things first to see if the Nubian doe couldn't be convinced to except it.
Work lambing camp with 1200 to 1600 ewes and you learn a few tricks. First of all, I placed the unwanted buck on top of the buck she liked and watched to see if the doe would lick the one on top thinking she was licking the bottom one. Nope, it didn't work. Sometimes that's just too easy.
Next, I took the buck she liked away from her and gave her only one choice, the buck she didn't want. She gently pawed at it in confusion and made it beller which worked to my advantage. Bellering gets attention.
Still she only it, she wouldn't lick it.
So I moved on to rubbing the buck she liked against the one she didn't. Covering the little discarded kid all over with the desirable kid's scent.
Then I only gave the doe the choice of the undesirable buck. She sniffed it in confusion but still didn't move to lick it. I then stroked her neck and along her side just in front of the udder. A trick you use on mares to see if their likely to kick your head off when you reach under to milk them. Oh yes, I've milked my share of mares too. Never my own. The doe stood still so I squirted a little milk into a baby bottle, a human one. Then fed the nourishing colostrum to the weak buck. He suckled softly and the noise aroused the interest of the doe. Then I helped the kid stand while it's ma ma watched curious. I then stepped back and just watched.
As the little guy began walking around her front leg, she took some interest in him. Soon he fell and stayed there. She sniffed him over good and finally began to lick him tentatively. After suggesting to our friend that she give the doeer just a little more time with the buck before entroducing the other one, I left craving some sleep I wasn't going to get. Soon after shucking my dirty pajamas for clean bottoms, I was soon joined by the youngest grand daughter that made sure I didn't get to sleep long enough to have more than a snatched conversation with the Sand Man. Kirk left sometime in the night to sleep with the middle grand daughter since our double bed was already crowded and we met up again sometime near morning. If life were not quite so rough for the tikes right now, I'd be more strict but they need all the lovins they can get. Sweet dreams isn't whats on their menu many a night. Their mom's been leaving before 3 to just before 4 in the morning to go to work.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Much Is Enough?

I'm squinting and wishing for some pain killers so I'll need to make this short and sweet. I scraped the underside of my eye lid last night unloading our daughter's belongings from the horse trailer and pickup into storage. So far I've a red eye and a red nose. Yes, a red nose. My eye has watered so bad I've gone through an entire box of Kleenex so far today. This screen is awfully bright so I'm typing with my eyes closed. LOL I need to rest up a bit today but forced rest isn't what I had in mind.

But there is one thing on my mind

especially since I spent quite a bit of time yesterday finishing stacking wood. All but this little pile but the kids said no more. Okay, they didn't exactly say no more but the tears and whines amounted to the same thing. The wheel barrow rides with the kids taking turns riding back to the wood pile to fill up again
weren't compensating for the preoccupied Grandma. They wanted some attention. So here it sits eating at me because I can't hardly keep my eyes open and I've so little to stack. It's amazing how much wood you can haul with one arm holding a 1 year old half of the time.

So for 2400 square feet, 1200 up and 1200 down, how much does it take to heat a home that size for the winter? Keep in mind that about half the basement is blocked off and so receives only a little warmth. We use coal and wood to heat with but what if coal is no longer available to us. How much wood would we need. I know this pile isn't nearly enough but with coal it will last us 2 to 3 winters. We try to not have to haul wood but every other year with so many projects competing for our attention. Normally this would be done in the fall but circumstances dictated otherwise this year. But boy do we know it that life can be turned upside down so out of curiosity or prepred thinking I'd really like an answer.

So wood stove users out there what is your guesstimate for heating a 2400 square foot in Wyoming where the winters are pretty cold, below freezing most of the time where the wind suck the heat out of a home in a hurry? Ours is well insulated. I took a quick glance on the Internet yesterday before the eye thing and found only one spot in my rapid search that said 22 cords. Is this high or low. We probably only have 10 -12 cords. And if that ifs the case we'd freeze half of the winter.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pineapple Cookies

After all the kids were in bed for the first time -- Yes, our bed was a revolving door last night. I hope Kirk can stay awake to work today. We'll see how I do. --I baked the cookies I'd put together in segments over a period of time in the middle of the day, then stuck the dough in the refrigerator. I never did hear the youngest fuss in the night which makes me suspicious but awoke to, " Grandma!", and looked up to see our middle grand daughter who's only 3 with her 15 month old sister in a near straggle hold. The youngest may be really little for her age but still... The littlest's arms were stretched upward, her head pressed tight just high of the waist of her sister. She was held under the arms but more by the neck than anything. She wasn't saying a peep. Probably couldn't and I suspected that our middle grand daughter had drug her out of bed and was using her as a ploy to come crawl into ours. She'd been put back to bed a couple times already after a snuggle.

Monday was a long tough day with many of the behavioral issues returning. I'm not sure not having the kids over the weekend was really a good break for us after what we had to deal with yesterday. Oh well, I guess I'd better buck up because the road looks pretty bumpy ahead. I've learned first hand that the tongue is as brutal a beast as the fist for it can just as effectively destroy those in its path. We'll just have to get out the soothing balm and go to work.
Maybe that is why I chose the cookies I made. They are something a bit unusual and always have been one of my comfort foods. Yes, I have a food issue, stressed and I crave sweets. So out came the Pineapple Cookie recipe and yes, since they aren't my husband's favorite, I made Snickerdoodles too but forgot to roll them in cinnamon and sugar in my tired state. The 7 loads of laundry did get folded though and the old series on DVD - Hogan's Heroes- lulled me into a relaxed state while I finished the last few loads. Today is change the beds day so it's high hoe, high hoe we've more laundry to go.
But first, I'll give you the recipe just in case your having a tough time too and need some comfort food.
Pineapple Cookies
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 small can of crushed or chunked pineapple (drained)

Mix the above together and add:
3 1/3 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
Combine and mix well. Drop by spoonful on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 until done. Okay until the tops have small touches of golden brown. Don't over bake. These are a very moist cookie. How long should you bake them. Till done of course. I have no idea how long that takes. Maybe a basket full of laundry or even two if your speedy like me and it's towels your doing.

If your cookies look like this you folded too many clothes before checking the oven to see if your batch of cookies were done.

Oh and if you want to make Snickerdoodles they work really well with this recipe of Pineapple cookies. I made them both at the same time because they both call for two eggs, and both ask for 1 cup shortening etc. making the doing of two of them at once a simple no brain stressing tasks. A real plus right now. But I really must go, the munchkins have awoke and I've photos to take for this post. That means a cookie for part of breakfast. Think they'll mind? LOL

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stick Out Your Tongue

What is it with tongues? People stick them out naturally when they are concentrating hard. Admit it now, you stick your tongue out even though it might be hidden by lips it is still causing your kisser to pucker outward with the pressure. Little kids don't hide the tongue but adults do out of teasing mostly I'd guess. When I was playing with the youngest's chimes or whatever you call them trying to learn the doe, rae, me, line from the song in the movie Sound Of Music where all the kids are learning to sing on the mountain side. You know the one, "Doe a deer a female deer, Rae a golden drop of son.... Then my fiddling inspired our grand daughter to play with the toy. Something previously she hadn't been interested in. The tongue came out of course and really came out when she'd drop her stick that was attached to a string and had to reach down for it.

So come on all you scientists why do we stick out tongue out when the going gets tough. I went to the internet to look for the scientific answer and must of typed in the wrong words because all I got was opinions. We can do that so what's your theory? Why do you stick your tongue against the back of your teeth, against your lips, or down right out there for all to see when your concentrating? I could really use a good laugh so don't worry if your thoughts sound a bit silly to you. I'd love to hear them. Boy could I use a good laugh. It was a really tough day with the kids. Who knows you just might be the one to enlighten us all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Starting Plants

Paste Tomato

I don't know about in your area but around here you aren't going to get a tomato that looks like this at any commercial greenhouse. I'm really sold on the plant the tomato in the bottom of the pot and keep mounding up soil as it grows until it out grows the pot and then start over method in a bigger pot. A large amount of roots develop to nourish the plant and eventually the tomatoes.

Look at the thick stem on this Siberia tomato I mislabeled as Siberian.

With that thick stem it should withstand the windy weather we have around her even though our daughter's trampoline didn't. Yup, the 45 mile an hour wind pulled all those pieces that just fit inside each other but weren't bolted together apart into lots of pieces and scattered them for 200 feet beyond our property. The base which I had anchored was still sitting where we'd set it. You'd think the wind had fingers the way it dismantled that trampoline. With that in mind, we'll see how well the Long Keeper tomatoes do. They are suppose to store really well for a long period of time but can they withstand the wind and colder temperatures remains to be seen with their wimpier stems.

As for the Siberia tomatoes, they are another experiment. They are a determinate, thank you, thank you. Why the melodramatics? Well, I had a choice of indeterminate or indeterminate at the greenhouse last spring and I spent all summer trimming the 18 plants for a much much smaller crop of tomatoes than I've had in the past. That experience along with others in trying to find tomatoes that will grow well in our area has led me to the conclusion that to do it right you have to do it yourself. The tomatoes the greenhouses get are those reported to do well in a lets say 5 to 10 state area around you. I wouldn't grow the same tomatoes over the mountain four hours away that I grow here. The weather isn't windy over the mountain where I was raised. Here it seldom isn't. The weather extremes are more dramatic and the growing season shorter.
My goal is to work vegetable type to vegetable type to figure out what does best in our soils, in our climate, and foremost that I can save seed from so that I can repeat the success. Long time gardeners have gardened long enough to have some of their favorite seeds no longer sold by the seed companies they buy from. And to watch the price of those seeds rise when our income isn't keeping up. I don't fault the seed company as I buy from small companies or the farmers who are just trying to survive. But I want to learn to breed plants like we've bred livestock raisng the things that work best for us. It's all part of the self-sufficiency movement we have been undertaking since we married over 30 years ago.
So the Siberia tomato is one that looked promising to try. The catalogue says it is extremely dwarf which would work awesome as an indoor tomato plant. Another of my goals is to grow a small garden indoors in the winter. Salad greens and the like. Another is to extend the season in the manner that Eliot Coleman does. Though this year the greenhouse will not see a cover on it due to other projects taking precedance and so I'll experiment in other ways. I start Siberia tomato seeds again the beginning of June in pots and bring them indoors to put under my expensive grow light that I bought a couple years ago having saved my money for some time for it. I'll also try forming a double layer mini greenhouse with row cover and another layer above that of plastic and let the plants in the garden go into the fall. They hopefully won't be too big for this method. Other varieties would need the full sized greenhouse and so that is an experiment for another year. Wonder how long they'll last as they are to set fruit in very cool weather. The catalogue said reports of 38 degrees. The fruit are 3-7 oz. It sounds too good to be true. We'll see.

The other tomato I'm trying that's new is Glacier which is from Sweden, the home of my grandparents. It is to have excellent cold tolerance also.

Besides the paste tomatoes which always do well and reseed themselves in the garden but come up way to late to mature, I'm returning to growing Washington Cherries. A LARGE cherry tomato that was very popular in this household two years ago. Since just getting tomatoes to ripen before frost is a real pleasure, I don't grow the large beefy ones since they would still be green when the first frost hit. They don't tend to get very big since we lack the length of season and the heat that is required. On the other hand if I lived in Worland, Wyoming I might just try them but then you can grow lovely roses there also. Here you'd better stick to the hardy bush varieties.

My plan is to put some of the tomatoes out two weeks early in wall a waters which equates to mid May and then place those wood window frames in a tepee shape that have plastic in them that I got off the construction site over the top. The anchoring of them I don't quite have fully worked out yet but Kirk bought the hinges to attach two together. It will be really exciting if the double greenhouse effect works well in giving the tomatoes an early start. Wall of waters are great for protecting the plants but they still don't grow very fast in them at first. That's where I'm hoping to make the change. The faster they get big the sooner I'm hoping to be eating a ripe red tomato.


I put up a new grow light this year, the traditional starter light, and I'm hoping to get some lovely fresh herbs going well under it along with growing salad greens this winter. The traditional starter light is far less expensive and is much larger than my other light and should therefore allow me to start more plants along with keeping herbs and salad going all winter. I figure I'll just do a bunch of smaller pots so that I can stagger the plantings to keep a steady supply going. For now I'm just doing two plantings. Two plantings, two hatchings. Maybe I have a fixation for two this year.

As for the cucumbers, I started this year instead of direct seeding in the garden, well, I should have read the label. Do not start until a few weeks before frost. Okay the label didn't exactly say that but it should have because boy are they going to be big when I set them out. I hope they can withstand the cold. I plan on putting them along the east fence where it gets hot and draping clear plastic I've recycled from the hay shed down off the fence and over them forming a mini greenhouse. Just in case I tucked a few more cucumber seeds in soil today for a later planting. Beside them under the plastic will be cantaloupe that I just seeded and will lay plastic on the ground around them to raise the soil temperature. Never had a ripe cantaloupe before.

Also today, I planted some broccoli since larger plants with stand the dreaded flea beetle better than smaller ones. Into pots went two kinds of pumpkin seeds a red heritage one and a cooking kind. I started some more pepper plants, some more herbs, and even one lone zucchini. Usually I direct seed my pumpkins, and zucchini but last year the pumpkins did so well from the plants I received from a friend I thought I'd do it this time only with different varieties I'm trying for the first time. Actually what I think was the catalyst for all the seed planting today was the room left over under the new grow light I just put up. I just couldn't resist filling in the space. Kind of like the freezer thing I think. Anyway in this country you need all the jump you can get on the growing season and I refuse to feel guilty about it. Now if only I can figure out where I'm going to put all these plants in the garden space I have.

We're Growing Up

As I'm putting new eggs in the incubator in preparation for a new hatch I thought you might like a gander at how the chicks have grown.
Hopefully the Black Australorp rooster has done his job since I'm needing the small chicken coop for the baby chicks and I wish to can the 3 mean ole roosters (literally). I'm not spending a summer with three small children and 3 mean roosters. Funny thing is the Buff Orpington who was nice in the small coop became a terror in the large coop attacking me frequently. The mean Black Australorp rooster in the small coop hasn't given me a moments problem in the large coop. That's why I'm saying, I hope he did his job and was aggressive enough to have his way with the ladies. Since the eggs are going into the incubator in a few weeks we'll find out. Cross your fingers.
I need the coop the 2 roosters now reside in. It's the one Kirk built for me for Christmas for my baby chicks. It's portable though heavy since Kirk insisted it be made of metal. "I'm not going to build another one for a long time.", was his excuse. I know it's because he prefers to work with metal and not wood. It's sturdy alright but a real tug of war for me to pull around. The wood that it replaced was nice and comparibly light. The small coop is designs so we can fit it in the back of our pickup and transport it from the corrals to our backyard where we set up a light inside the coop part for heat at night when the chicks are small. When the chicks have all their feathers is when they graduate to the small coop. Really it was too small for the roosters but I had no choice this year and this year that will be remided. I've part of the materials for another medium sized coop which I will build this summer. When the small wood coop that the metal one replaced was out in the backyard one spring a Prairie Falcon spied the chicks inside. It swooped down and landed a short distance from the run then moved forward in the same hesitating manner as a cat does when stalking its prey. Then when it pounced, it's tallons grabbing a hold of the chicken wire as it reached for a baby chick. Facinated, I watched the process from the kitchen window just above the little coop knowing the falcon couldn't get to the chicks.
You can see that the chicks now have their wing feathers and many are sprouting up down their backs so it won't be long before they are covered in adult like feathers.
I kind of miss this cuddly cute stage especially since the chicks are at a real nervous stage. It must be instinct for they aren't like this when they are younger and a month from now but they scatter and squack at the least commotion. This Black Australorp is stretching, a sure sign of good health, and they do this often when they are growing. You can see this chick has far more feathers than the Buff Orpington because they are a fast maturing breed of chicken. This means the hens are usually the first to start laying in our coop.
It's at this stage that they become far more aggressive too. Thinking they are pretty hot stuff, they fly across the cages crashing into the others as they try out their new wing feathers. Yup, those quiet little chicks are a thing of the past. The pecking order has also started with mock fights particularly amongst the males.
How can I tell. Experience more than anything for I could check their vents to look for the sex organs but the developement of the combs is a good indicator. The males grow much earlier and faster than the females. Pea comb fowl are harder to tell than the floppy large combs of other breeds. Yup, those pea combs can fool you. That happened to me last summer. Brought a white hen, I mean rooster home to the backyard and low and behold that hen began to crow early one morning at 4:30. He lived until 4:45. We live in town you know and I'd thrown a few young hens in the garden to rid of grasshoppers. I brought along the misfit, a pea comb, a thick neck, strange bodied chicken I hadn't definitely hadn't ordered from the hatchery but it hitched a ride anyway. I never did figure out what kind of chicken it was. Okay, yes, a rooster but I mean what breed it was. I hadn't ordered any white chickens so at first I thought they made a mistake and threw in a white Wyadotte. I had my freebie that the hatchery always throws in. It was a Polish chicken with a top hat. A male of course. They never give you a hen. They also threw in a couple extra males of the breeds I'd ordered roosters in. Males being a lot harder to sale than females in egg laying breeds. Anyway, last year was the year the hen crowed.
Hopefully, in a week or week and a half the chicks will have all their feathers. It's getting a might crowded in their cages. I did not expect so many eggs to hatch, 33 out of 35 is awesome. The cages weren't meant for quite so many little bodies. They'll be okay, it's just for a short time and then they'll have room to roam. When they leave the cages, I'll have just enough time to clean everything up good for the next hatch. Then I'm done. No more hatcing. Butchering chickens is not my favorite thing, especially since I have to do it myself. Kirk will do wild game, beef, lambs, pigs, but NOT chickens. They stink. Not that the other animals don't but their is something extra smelly about chickens.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Refrigerator Bran Muffins

After loves on the cat who caroused all night and was ready for a nap,
we had Refrigerator Bran Muffins
and fruit smoothies with black berries, strawberries, and a banana.
The Refrigerator Bran Muffins were such a big hit I thought I'd pass on the recipe. Our middle grand daughter ate four today, and the oldest three, while the youngest downed two.
I wasn't quite as fond of them as when I was a kid but they rank high because of convenience and the kids loved them. It's pretty nice when you can mix up the batch and place it in the refrigerator. Back in my mom's day they said 6 weeks it would last but I don't keep mine over 5 days. Something about having raw eggs in the dough makes me nervous and when would you keep milk for 6 weeks? I have to wonder about the safety of such instructions. The recipe is great if you have kids who wake up with their tummies rumbling or if you've company coming for the weekend and don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

So here's the recipe
2 cups milk (I use goat milk but the original recipe calls for buttermilk)
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
3 cups bran flake cereal with or without raisins
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. In large bowl, combine the milk, oil, and eggs: beat well. In another bowl add all the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, soda, salt, and nuts. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until equally distributed but don't over beat. Fill muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Wow I actually have a time limit on baking. Wonder if it is accurate. The recipe even says it is for 36 muffins. I made 10 and I don't think there is anyway I'm getting 36 but maybe I'm just too generous.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Laundry Bins

It's the end of the day and the kids are a bit bedraggled. Me, I'm completely exhausted. It's time to exchange princess dress up clothes and the land of make believe for pajamas and the dreams of slumber land. I'm dreaming of my bed already.
The kids had a good day today and I managed to trim some trees, yes trim trees. I know it should have been done a month or two ago but the buds are barely forming and I hope it isn't going to cause a problem but I just couldn't get it done any earlier. The milk shed is swept, the hay feeder for the goats cleaned, some plants repotted... Well, you get the idea. But though it is really difficult to get things done with the munchkins, they do add an enormous amount of sunshine to our lives. Here the youngest is playing with the kitchen garbage. I'd gone outside to dump the sack that was inside and she carted it off down the hallway and was flopping on it.
That's why I don't fold clothes upstairs. She unfolds them and runs off with them. The middle daughter who loves to changed clothes upmteen times a day would see them, become inspired to try them on and nothing would be folded.
The solution is to fold clothes as they come out of the dryer and place them in dish pans. I had to go out and buy some more as I've only one left. They are so handy. I soak clothes in them for stain removing, wash wool in them, and fill them will folded clothes. It's one bin per person and I bring the clothes up when the bin is full. When the kids are older they can haul their own laundry to their room and the bins will be just their size. The rule in our house when the kids were young was that they couldn't pick through the pile, they had to bring the whole bin up and put the clothes away. Otherwise the folded clothes were no longer folded after they had rifled through them looking for a particular shirt or pants. I did laundry like this for our children up and through their high school years. But then they had to help me do laundry at that point. Ruined some washing machine parts during those lessons. Yup, the one I remember most is when the girls stripped the dials by turning them too fast and the wrong way.
If only the energy level was what it once was this having grand kids living with us would be easier. I've far more patience, I'm more organized, and I've already learned much of was does and doesn't work. Like putting the youngest in her high chair and rolling it up by the kitchen counter while I'm cooking. Give her a few kitchen utensils to play with while I cook and she pretends to cook mimicking me. I pause now and then to taste her imaginary culinary creations which brings a big smile to her face and for the most part as long as I don't cook for too long she's occupied and it beats her hanging on my leg wanting held.
In this manner I mixed up some pizza dough for tomorrow and since Raisin Bran cereal was on sale, I made the muffin mix that has the cereal in it. It's the one my mom use to make by the gallon when I was little and stored it in the refrigerator for several weeks. Now and then she'd bake up a batch. I haven't made it in so many years I don't know if I'll still like it. It should go well with fruit for breakfast and since it is partially made I hope to get a number of projects done. Oh, how I forgot how difficult it is to fix food while kids are making their constant demands. I really need some time to myself to make some make a head meals but alas it is not to be at the present.
I do plan on starting some sprouts in the morning though. Salad sounds really good right now. Hopefully I will be able to put some time in on the garden tomorrow though they are calling for thunderstorms. I need to get the manure spread on it and rototill. Surely in a couple weeks I can plant Argula, corn salad, and spinach. The only one I've had experience with is spinach. The corn salad and the argula I figure on planted extra of for the chickens. It would save on boughten feed and boost their nutrition, in exchange boosting our. Typically I let my spinach reseed itself and come up in the spring when its ready but I figure the seeds are probably inbred too much by now and so I'll put some new seed in. Besides, I'm putting a heavy layer of manure on and the old seed may not make it up through the thick layer. Yes, I've a large pile of fire wood to stack and a trailer load of manure to wheel burrow around the garden with the 3 kids but a friend of our daughter put up a tramp she'd bought the kids last Christmas so I'm hoping it will make a good babysitter.
I just keep telling myself I have just a month and our daughter will be in her own apartment relieving much of my present work load. I can make it until then. I hope.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Oh dear, oh dear, what do I blog about today. Well, I moved the few flowers I have to a new bed in the back yard but that's not too exciting. And... uh... oh it just was one of those ho hum days after being gone all day yesterday. You know the ones where you run and run all day and are still way... behind. So all I could think about with the bees flying around me was I really need to call a rancher friend and see if I can move the bees out onto his alfalfa fields. It may just be nubbins right now but two hives with three small children in the yard is a bit too cozy for comfort.

Then when the kids wanted peanut butter and honey sandwiches and I didn't have any honey that wasn't crystallized I thought that's it. I'll talk briefly about honey. But first I had to solve a mystery that has been plaguing me for some time. Why does our honey sometimes crystallize really fast and other times more slowly.
Crystallizing doesn't hurt the honey any, you just put it in a glass container in a pot of warm water and turn the stove on low, slowly melting the honey back into a liquid. Honey is sugar and water. Unlike white sugar it has some minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a health food and recommend you eat up but it is definitely much better to consume than white sugar. All the medical properties of honey I'll go into in another post as 3 little munchkins are begging for attention so this needs to be snappy.
6 or 7 year old honey and it has darkened considerably.
It would be as pale as this burr comb if it were fresh alfalfa or clover honey
Different kinds of honey crystallize at a different rate. The article I read said Tupelo honey takes years to crystallize. Now if I only knew what Tupelo is. Around here we have sweet clover and alfalfa honey. They taste the same to me and usually our honey is a mixture. This type of nectar makes a very pale yellow colored honey. Awesome to cook with since the flavor is mild. As a rule the darker the honey the stronger tasting it is. The change to this rule is older honey which as it ages darkens and becomes a bit stronger in flavor. This takes years, not weeks, or months. The honey we are using right now is at least 6 years old since that was the last time we received any honey off our bees. It is a darker than its first year being a nice warm yellow but when it was new it was a really pale yellow.

7 years of drought has left our honey supplies in the basement low. Then last year just as we were coming out of the drought, the grasshoppers devoured the countryside. In fact there was so little food for the bees that I've had to feed them all winter and now into the spring. That will be a task for tomorrow. Maybe this year we will be blessed with some fresh honey to fill our shelves once more. I can't continue to feed them and get nothing in return.

The honey in this bucket is part liquid and part crystallized. So how come? Well, I had to look that up too. Apparently honey is best kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent rapid crystallization. Above that the honey won't crystallize but it invites yeast and bacteria growth. Below that and it speed up the crystallization process. So depending on what type of honey you have and what temperature it is stored determines how fast it will crystallize whether that is a few weeks or a few months.

Ta, Ta, the munchkins are howling at my side. Have a good evening!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kids and kids Just Go Together

Somehow kids and kid goats just go together and our grand daughters have had a ball with Michelle's kid goats. Lyrical had quads and those seem to be our grand daughter's favorites over Natasha's twins.
Even the youngest grand daughter insists on being amongst them laughing and pushing them aside as they nibble and jump on her.
It won't be long and she will be singing a different tune as they gain weight and topple her over every time. For now it takes a gang effort of dog pile to bring her down. She's the one in the green at the bottom of the heap. Not crying just bellering her disgusted.
I rescue her if things get a bit rough but then after a couple hugs, she wants right back down to tumble and play once more. The middle grand daughter rarely calls for help except the time they stepped on her shoe and took it off. Boy, was she disgruntled with them. Then again she hadn't had her nap yet. She's the grand daughter that insists on picking out her clothes for the day. Though the styles are a definite fashion statement unique to her, she does an amazingly good job coordinating colors. Shoes and skirts are her favorite things.
The oldest grand daughter chose snow pants and boots for some reason and I couldn't argue as they did afford some padding against sharp little hooves.

She wasn't much in to cuddling but wanted to run with the kids chasing after her.
It was a delight for this poor tired Grandma's eyes to see such joy in the kid goats and peels of laughter in our grandchildren.
What fun to be able to play again and expand the children's journey into the land of pretend. We played doctor yesterday and when our middle grand daughter wanted to bring a baby doll our oldest insisted that she wasn't that kind of doctor. So the stuffed bears became the patients who underwent shots, band aids, their temperature taken and their blood pressure along with checking their heart beat and Grandma here informed them that they should also listen to see if the bowels were working too. Next time we'll include checking their noses to make sure they are soft and moist and looking over their coats to make sure they are soft, shiny, and healthy. So much can be learn in the land of make believe.
Nap time brought the delight of stories that spring from one's imagination. Not, I didn't tell the stories. The grand daughters did. First I asked who was going. The middle daughter said a kid, and the oldest said an animal. Then I asked what kind of animal and was the child a boy or a girl, where were they going, and what did they do. From there each tale had a new beginning some with who was involved and some with what main event would take place. Each of us took a turn moving the story along. Sometimes I asked questions inspiring detail or clarification. Such is the beginnings of English, self expression, and a world of delightful entertainment.
When Kirk and I use to travel down the highway with our children, even when they were in high school, we use to begin a tale. The animals along the road, the road signs, some of the vehicles we passed, and even the landscape was woven into the story with each member of the family participating by adding a part along the way. Story telling along with reading books, each taking a turn, not the driver of course, drew our family together as we journeyed together into the land of make believe. Books still remain one of my families favorite things for entertainment and a rich source of learning.
Most of what we do today began with our noses in a book. What's on your reading list today.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is Ignorance Bliss?

Today was show and tell at Pre-school. It reminded me of the Naked Chef in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. The program where he goes to the reportedly fattest city in America trying to teach the people to cook and move toward a more healthy lifestyle. One segment shows the ignorance in the classroom over the recognition of common vegetables. I found this same ignorance in my grand daughters classroom. Oh not for vegetables, I didn't try that but for where things come from. We've somehow ingrained in people's mind that you buy things from the store. You can't do it, you can't make it. The store provides it and you buy it. When we brought 3 little chicks to school for show and tell the kids kept asking our oldest grand daughter where she bought them. She kept trying to tell them how they hatched out of an egg and she watched it but they repeatedly interrupted her and asked where she bought them. Finally one little girl asked where their mom's were. The concept that they came from an egg and hatched was unfathomable. They had to of been produced in a store. After all everything is, isn't it? If you have money you can buy anything.

That story will soon not be true. Tried to call and place an order at our local feed store for 4 Auracana hen chicks. They quit taking orders two weeks ago, a shortage of chicks I guess. I just thought since you have to order 30 baby chick at a time and I didn't want 30 only 4, I'd just go in on an order from the store. I guess we'll see if we can trade a few eggs from our neighbor's Auracana hens which will be bred to an Australorp rooster and see if they produce hens that lay green eggs for the grand kids. Yup, more and more I'm having to search further for the things we once bought at the local stores. Fabric stores for instance are few and far apart in Wyoming.

Sorry, I got off topic a bit. I was talking about the ignorance in the general population. The fact that our oldest grand daughter had the opportunity to watched over and over the hatching of chicks made me fill grateful for our lifestyle. She KNOWS where chicks come from. The part that fascinated her the most this time is how the umbilical cord tore away from the egg. Next year, she will be 6 and we will go into more details about the incubation period and hatching such as the absorption of the rest of the yolk through the umbilical cord which provides nourishment for the chick for the first few days. That is how the hatcheries are able to ship chicks through the mail. They have three days to get to their destination and 30 chicks have to be shipped in one box to provide enough heat for the chicks to remain warm.

Upon arrival they are put in an enclosure that remains at 99 degrees like the 99.5 degrees their incubator was set at. This is provided by a heat lamp. To tell if the temperature in an enclosure for baby chicks is warm enough, you can use a thermometer or just watch the chicks. They will tell you if they are cold by huddling close together for warmth under the rays of the lamp. If hot, they will spread out away from the heat. Just right means they will be scattered fairly equally around the enclosure.

Week by week the chicks will provide more of their heat requirements internally and this dictates the elevating of the heat lamps to lower the temperature in the enclosure. The same principle that applies to a newborn human baby which has a poorly functioning body temperature and should be kept wrapped up warm in a blanket until their body too begins to function more efficiently.

To take the 3 chicks to class I put a heated pad wrapped in a towel underneath them and enclosed them in a cardboard box with a crack in the top until it was time to open it to show the kids. This trip to the pre-school reminded me of a friend of our daughters who asked, " When does a chicken become a turkey?" She was a teenager at the time. Education is the responsibility of the parent. Whether he or she chooses to use outside help does not diminish the fact that the result is still their responsibility. Poor education, poor parenting. So though my little grand daughters will most likely be taught in a public school - while I'm around I will see that the gaps are filled in and they gain the knowledge they so deserve.
The second subject for today is this letter I received a few weeks ago that has left me with many moments of pause. There is no return address, no stamp on the envelope by a post office revealing the town it originated, nothing to lend me a clue to its sender.

Inside was a note telling me to call fast because it works and the person only had to pay shipping to receive the product. Now it was only last summer that a group of ladies from Canada at a neighbor's high school graduation party asked me what my secret was to looking so young. Now here just months later I was receiving an advertisement for anti-aging cream. Imagine my confusion. It definitely wasn't my sisters that sent it. So who did? Had I really gone down hill that far this past 8 month? For someone who's never had a pedicure or had her nails done. In fact, abhors a finger nail file since I equate it to fingernails on a chalkboard. Clippers are my best friend. Yup short and clean that's my philosophy besides you can't really dig in and work with long nails. They just break. As for hair, the less I have to do with it the more happy I am. Curl my bangs on week days and the rest on Sunday or when I need to look nice leaves me not having to look in the mirror so often. I have my grandmother's square Swedish face. Not unpleasant but no beauty. It is a face that babies love and many a stranger's child has thrown themselves at me in a grocery store line. So I don't spent much time looking at myself in the mirror except when I pluck my eyebrows. The ones that are so pale you can barely see them. So imagine my surprise when I began catching myself studying my face in the mirror every time I passed one. Some one had sent me an advertisement to help reduce wrinkles and now I'm wondering why. Had lines slipped in on this face unbeknownst to me? Yes, and no. Those radiating lines around my mouth are getting a bit deeper. And oh my, look at those pores. They are large. I'd forgotten about them since Zits don't come my way too often now. I can thank my Dad for them. Well, I do have crows feet around my eyes. They're just light lines right now and I prefer to call them rays of laughter since I think they denote how much a person laughs. Of course I suppose they could be squinting lines too on someone that doesn't see so well. That's me without my glasses.

But look under those eyes, oh my. They do look pretty bad. The aging lines are nothing compared to the puffiness from a hypothyroid and whoa, those gullies below the puffs. Yup, my adrenals are still taking a nap. Wish I had time to take a nap. Alas, too much to do and so little time. Good thing the doctor is sending me a new kind of adrenal drug to go along with the Hydrocortizone I've been taking for the past few years. Now if that anti-aging cream got rid of purple gouges and puffs I'd call for a case of it tomorrow.

I suppose some of the lovely color, our grand daughter's favorite color by the way, is due to extra bodies in our bed every night, a double bed mind you. Yup, 2 and definitely 1 child finds their way each night sometime after midnight into our arms snuggled between us. Funny, it isn't the same child each night. The 3 of them seem to take turns. Of course in the morning they all pile in just like our kids did when they were little. We broke a few beds over the years over loading them.

The oldest and youngest children aren't too bad but the middle child... Let's just say black and blue is the theme when you sleep with her. Oh, I suppose we could close our door at night but then we figure the little tikes need all the love and comfort they can get right now when their world is turned upside down.

I'd kind of forgotten about my neck and hadn't been studying it in the mirror until our youngest grand daughter started pinching it repeatedly. We have pinchers. Our oldest daughter pinched as a way to comfort and relax herself. No she doesn't still do it but two of her nieces do. I'm getting a bit sore. Do you think I can order anti-pinching cream instead? Or better yet, a cream that fades moles because the grand daughters will grow out of it but I just seem to collect more and more of these ugly brown spots. They're an inherent gift from my Welsh grandfather. Thanks a whole heaping lot grandpa. As for the wrinkles across my neck well, I don't mind them. They cover up the thyroid surgery scar. As I continue to produce more nodules each year in what remains of my thyroid, I will most likely need those wrinkles to hide another thyroid scar in the future.

So if you were the thoughtful person who sent the anti-aging cream advertisement, thank you I now know in detail every wrinkle on my face that I've earned over my 50 years of life. LOL! Now I figure since I know all the details I can go back once more to ignoring my lack of beauty until the next advertisement show up in my mail box.