Thursday, September 27, 2012

Would You Call it a Skunk Mobile?

Seems like Friday since hubby is home sick. Not a bad day though since I did catch my skunk that jumped in a circle and chased the neighbor before taking up residency under our shed. No, it isn't a pet skunk, just a young one and they can act silly. In this terrible drought, skunks are coming in and causing all kinds of havoc like the one that killed our chicken and was sucking eggs in our chicken coop. Funny that this one at the house, three-quarters of a mile away, arrived a few days later. We've been so.... blessed lately with  irritations.

Anyway, I couldn't set the trap I borrowed on Tuesday because I had all four of the grand babies and the youngest is a handful. We've had the older girls overnight Monday and Tuesday and all the girls except the youngest went hothe baby until late on Tuesday night. As a side note, the youngest today at her well baby checkup was in the fiftieth percentile for weight and ninth percentile for height. Kirk added that her lungs are really good too. LOL My word that child has a temper. It's no wonder I call her chunky monkey with her thunder thighs and kanckles for ankles.

So with all the uproar, I set the trap on Wednesday and TADA, I caught the black and white kitty. Funny, but the local  dog catcher said I'm the only one that has borrowed a skunk trap and caught one in all the years she's worked in that position.

Seriously people, it isn't hard. It is a rectangular cage with a swing door that all you have to do is throw in some cat food, pull the rod to the side to hold up the door, and wait. The rod keeps the door open and the trip plate in position to drop the door when stepped on.  Hardly rocket science and good thing for I've never used one in my life. I have trapped in the traditional way a little with my dad but this is not in the least as complicated as trapping bobcats.

When the county trapper came to pick up the skunk, I asked him lots of questions. After all he had eight in his truck today before picking up mine which makes nine and HE IS the expert. He said the calls had slowed down a bit as he was getting twelve to fifteen calls a day wanting skunks trapped for the past two months. Wow, that's a lot of stinky perfume. Which reminds me, he said Hydrogen Peroxide with baking soda and a touch of dish soap mixed and scrubbed thoroughly into your already wet dog did a pretty good job on eradicating the smell from your pet.

He should know, he said he has to frequently do it with his coyote dogs. No, not as in coyote/dog cross but as in dogs that run out and attract the coyotes which in turn chase them and then the dog runs for the safety of the trapper who gets rid of the coyote.

He  also said grape jelly works super as an enticement for baby skunks and he once caught four in one trap. They must of crowded right in. He agreed that cat food works the best for older skunks and the best place to set a trap is around a corner.

Interestingly, before he picked up the cage, he made a funny noise with his mouth, not loud but different, to make sure the skunk was awake before moving the cage. He made the same noise when he went to shift the cage to go through the gate and to put the cage into the truck. He said it wasn't the particular sound but a warning to the skunk that he was about to do something and to make sure the skunk was awake so he doesn't get startled. He also said that the movement of the truck always put the skunks to sleep so he doesn't worry about them spraying in transport.

They are nocturnal after all and moving them in the daytime disturbs their sleep schedule. An awake and calm skunk isn't as likely to spray. As a FYI, he told me that baby skunks have a tendency to let her rip with their entire supply while older skunks spray a little and then spray a little more if need be, and save a little encase they are caught to give a final blast. And if you have to carry a skunk in a skunk live trap, carry it with the door facing backwards.

I wonder if his little truck has been dubbed the Skunk Mobile. LOL If he was transporting 12 to 15 a day what would you call it? I'm just grateful I didn't have to do anything with the skunk. Reminds me of those diaper services that pick up the dirty ones. Wouldn't that have been nice when our kids were little?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Long Awaited Tomato Relish

 The relish can be green, green, or a blushed red like this batch. It depends on wether you use green tomatoes or add in those that have a blush of red like I did here.

Cut 6 pounds of green tomatoes or lightly blushed ones thinly. Put them in a covered container with 4 Tablespoons of pickling salt sprinkled evenly over them and let it sit overnight.
Drain thoroughly the next morning and then place in a pot and add
three medium onions thinly sliced in a pot.
And the do the same with 3/4 cup of red bell peppers or green if that is what you have.
Add 5 thin sliced lemons.
Pour over the vegetables
1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
and 2 cups brown sugar.
Then place in a square of cheese cloth the following herbs.
2 teaspoons white peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole allspice
2 teaspoons whole cloves
 2 teaspooons celery seed
2 teaspoons mustards seed
2 teaspoon dry mustard
Place the herb mixture in the pot and cook until thick.

When the mixture is thick (I only had four pounds of tomatoes and in my guessing, I added too much vinegar and it isn't as thick as usual.) When it is thick, the inside of the lemons will be incorporated but the rinds will need to be removed. So pick them out along with the spice bag.
Hot water bath 25 minutes for pints. I put mine in 1/2 pints as we don't eat that much relish.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Oops! I Forgot the Recipe

 Here I am at my daughter's with everything but the kitchen sink and the relish recipe. You would have thought in one of these four backpacks I'd have stuffed the recipe but no... I have my spinning wheel, my yarn and needles, and clothes but no... recipe.

You see, things have been a bit hectic the last couple days. I've been helping out our daughter with the grand kids and dealing with wild animals that have come to call. Instead of Santa Claus, we've had woodpeckers flying down the chimney. The first one early in the summer rapped on the glass on the stove door and I let him out capturing him in the basement as he flew across the room.  You can read more about that adventure in my A Unexpected Visitor Down My Chimney. Another starved in the stove and I found him dead so now I just leave the door open, and like yesterday, capture them when they begin flying about the house.

Busy, I procrastinated my packing until after livestock chores. It was dark before I began and I was merrily chatting with our oldest daughter on the phone as I opened the chicken coop door to gather eggs. Cinders, our barn cat, was at my feet ready to enter and hunt for mice. We both halted sharply in alarm as we stared. 
"Darn, darn, darn!" I said excitedly into the phone.
"What!" my daughter replied.
"I have to go. I've got to call your dad to bring a gun."
"What's wrong. Why do you need a gun?"

In the corner of the coop, the intruder was sucking on an egg. I kept my light shining on the run door so it wouldn't escape and waited for my rescuer. Later I counted chickens. We were down one and by the new hole in the chicken wire was black feathers galore. Once an animal has a taste for chicken, nothing but death or relocation to miles and miles and miles away will do. Our neighbor found out thirty miles is nothing to a skunk or raccoon. So without a cage or time we opted for the only sure fire method to stop the problem.

Though the car was parked was parked by the milking shed, the perfume  from the odiferous black and white kitty coated it's metal frame. Yup, that's what I drove early the next morning to Colorado.  Doesn't smell so bad now.

I promise when I get back home I'll get you the green tomato relish recipe.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yesterday's Help or Not

Yesterday, not everyone was happy about my making green tomato relish. (Note the lack of tears.) Our youngest thought I was taking wa.....y too long working on the process and well, she threw a bit of a screaming fit. Did this grandma pick her up--- of course not--- she ran to grab her now working camera (LOL) and finished wrapping the spice bag for the relish. I hurried of course but fits are not rewarded in this household lest they become a habit. One this tempered tyke would gravitate towards. Besides, how can one feel too sorry for her when she rarely was ever out of my arms the whole day.   
 It wasn't the only hickup in the day, for Reginald, our cat, came down with a serious case of Broken Heart.
 Yup, that was the diagnoses from our local veterinarian here. It must be a pretty serious because it's in his flank. Yikes, it spreads! LOL
 But look at that smile. It looks like he'll recover...
with simply a hard plastic band aid.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Refiner's Fire

Jasmine when she was young
When our children were young and complained about life's difficulties I always told them, "When the world hands you lemons, make lemonade. " But, what if the world is pelting you with them? Then what do you do?

I know what I want to do. I want to crawl in a hole and hide and I did on Monday, sort of. I sewed, which is in the laundry room in the basement and I sorted through canning jars putting them on the shelf according to the oldest to the newest. We use things up pretty good but I had boxes and boxes on the floor of new stuff waiting to find a home on the shelves. That took a while. 

It felt so.. good pretending the world didn't exist for I'm getting rather bruised and my bright sunny attitude is hard to maintain. One of the hardest blows has been the loss of our beautiful Jasmine. Saturday she died a horrible death at the breeders. The vet, torn between two diseases as to what it is, took blood work and we'll know in a few days the results.

Pray that the other yaks on the gentleman's place remain healthy. We sure didn't mean to bring him these woes. Neither disease is contagious as biting flies or spores are the culprits but still he was the one left holding the bag so to speak. 

When we pulled on to his place, he commented how healthy and large our girls were for their age. We had no clue this was around the corner. Our heads were filled with hopes of little yaks running around our place next spring.

I'm pretty upset as Jasmine was my girl. She had the best attitude and looks. Now how often does that happen? The other yak, Gracie was going to be eventually culled but she is all that's left. We only had the two. Now what? Yaks have to have have a mate.  

This and my poor health test results telling me that the medication treatment isn't working, have been the blows for this week. I won't even go into all the lemons thrown our way this past summer as it would go on forever. Well, I did tell you about the tires on our hay hauling trip but I'm trying not to complain too much as others have it worse than us.
Though I've been kind of quiet, which is what I do when I'm mad or just upset, I have been doing things. Today, I'm drying strawberry slices to try in a brain- ee-ack recipe. Not as in a really smart plan but as in a, I wonder if this will work one. You see a while back I bought Fig Newton cookies. The new ones out that are wafers. They had dried strawberries flakes in them and I had a 'aw haw' moment. What if I made my favorite grahmn crackers and rolled them out thin so they'd be crisp but I added strawberries flakes in them from home dried strawberries? Might be a month before I get to them as I'm waiting for the arrival of my new wheat grinder, yup one of a list of equipment that bit the dust, and because I have freezers yet to organize and a cazillion fall chores left but I'm going to be ready when time allows.

I also have thinly sliced green tomatoes sprinkled with salt and will sit overnight waiting to make relish tomorrow that will be canned for hamburgers and hot dogs. Not that I'm a big fan of hot dogs but the grand kids love them. I've then got a few more beans to shell and some small onions to dry and I'll be done with the garden. Whoo, hoo!!! I'm ready to turn my attention to cleaning windows and other fall chores. But first I'll share this recipe as it is yum delicious. I'm taking photos of the relish process, now that my camera is working again. Sorry, I told myself I could only whine a little but that one slipped out.

I would appreciate it if you happen to be speaking to the Lord, could you mention me and tell him I'm glowing red hot and about to melt. Could life please quit hammering on Holly and her hubby and let us catch our breath and rest for a time. I'm wearing mighty thin in the refiner's fire. Metaphorically of course because the hormone test shows there is no chance in ___ well, you know, that I could be physically thin with these results. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Only Job You Don't Get Fired For Being Wrong

In what job do people regularly make mistakes and don't loose their job, easy, the weather. Still, despite their unreliability, what am I doing? Scouring the Internet wondering what's up for the winter of 2012-2013.

Farmer's Almanac says:
"For the winter of 2011–12, the Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting “clime and punishment,” a season of unusually cold and stormy weather. For some parts of the country, that means a frigid climate; while for others, it will mean lots of rain and snow.
The upcoming winter looks to be cold to very cold for the Northern Plains, parts of the Northern Rockies, and the western Great Lakes. In contrast, above-normal temperatures are expected across most of the southern and eastern U.S. Near-normal temperatures are expected in the Midwest and Far West, and in southern
A very active storm track will bring much heavier-than-normal precipitation from the Southern Plains through Tennessee into Ohio, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast. Because of above normal temperatures, much of the precipitation will likely be rain or mixed precipitation, although, during February, some potent East Coast storms could leave heavy snow, albeit of a wet and slushy consistency.
An active Pacific Storm track will guide storm systems into the Pacific Northwest, giving it a wetter-than-normal winter. Drier-than-normal weather will occur in the Southwest and Southeast corners of the nation."

Are they right? Not according to many  on this site which shows you a large variety of prediction maps.

The Harris-Mann is calling for a hellacious winter.
'This one for a warm one. Who's right? Don't know because I've seen everything from the extremes and everywhere in between. They say that come October they'll have a much better idea. Think they'll take suggestions? I'm hoping for something in between last winter's warm weather that lead to ANOTHER drought and the forecast for the worst winter possible.

With my own plans unable to wait until the weathermen make up their minds since I've got to put away feed for the stock and food for us before that time, I guess I'll just have to plan for the worst and hope for the best. My hope being a decent winter with a wet spring. Decent meaning some wet snow for the mountains to our west for the towns nestled below who depend on run off in the spring for crops. Us lying a bit east, we don't need lots of snow in the winter to fight for it simply blows around, the ground being too froze for it to soak into, lakes and rivers being pretty rare around here and small to boot.

Now spring is another deal. Moisture at that time is critical since the ground is waiting mouth open. No irrigation around here. We need moisture severely but too much in the winter months and we'll see wildlife, that is so prevalent in this county, starving, unable to get to the grass. There is very little grass as it is this year, due to the drought conditions. Too cold and it requires too much feed to keep their bodies warm.

When our kids were little, winters were much colder and we had a lot more snow than now. I remember one storm that left an antelope that had frozen to death standing up for a whole week before the temperature warmed enough and he fell over. The fire in the stove was kept roaring, stoked in the middle of the night. Warm quilts covered the windows. At night we put bricks wrapped in towels that had been warmed on the wood/coal stove in the bottom of the kid's beds to help keep them warm.

 I bet if you asked them, they'd remember. Is the weather going to head back in that direction? What's your opinion?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Swedish Pancakes Yum!, Yum!

Looking for something new for breakfast, a grab and go kind of thing?  Try these Classic Swedish Pancakes.  I'm glad I did. Not just because my grandmother came from Sweden but I thought this was something my husband just might take to work and eat on his break in the morning. He's kind of picky. What he will eat at home isn't necessarily what he's willing to take to work.

 So with the variations for this recipe spoken for in Cuisine magazine, (one of two culinary ones I subscribe too, neither having advertising) I thought I could tweak this recipe a bit and come up with something suited for a lunch box style meal to heat in the microwave. You knew I was going to say I made changes. But honestly, I didn't change much, just breakfast sausage instead of little smokies and that isn't very much for me.

Classic Swedish Pancakes
Makes 8-10 pancakes
3 eggs separated
1 cup whole milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon coarse-grain mustard
1 Tablespoon grated onion
1 Tablespoon grated apple
1 cup of all purpose flour

Whisk egg yolks, milk, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl and add flour just until combined.
Fold in beaten egg whites
Melt 1-2 teaspoons butter in a 10 inch skillet or medium heat. ( I used my crepe pan with oil instead of butter.)

Cook them like any other pancake.

Whoops, I forgot to tell you. I cooked sausage links in the oven on a broiler pan. My favorite way to cook bacon also and have on hand in the freezer. Why pay the extra cost of it from the store when it so easy to do yourself in the oven.
After each pancake had cooked, I roll it around a sausage link and tied it together with a sliver of fresh chives.

Kirk said they were good but needed a little something so tomorrow I'll get the sauce made to dip them in.

1/2 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup coarse-grain mustard
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste

There is also a variation of this pancake that excludes the onion, apple, and mustard and instead uses vanilla for it is a more of a dessert style. A good addition they recommend is poppy seeds. Yum, with cream cheese centers and berries on top crowned with a dollop of whip cream. "Now we're talking." as my three year old grand daughter would say.

With the weather starting to cool off. I'm in the mood for cooking. How about you?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Water Bath Canner

Anybody but me sick of canning, freezing, and drying food for the winter? I can't be alone in this feeling. I know I shouldn't complain about all this wonderful food stacked in the basement but I'm about to stick permanently to my kitchen floor and the bathrooms haven't seen a cleaning since before Labor Day.

Mornings I spend at the corrals working, often on our new to us, tractor, (Oh how I love that thing!) afternoons, evenings, and often in to the night I'm fighting to stay awake in the kitchen canning.

The most exciting thing is a new piece of equipment I bought last winter to replace one of my blue enamel water bath kettles. It is stainless steel and so despite my efforts all the pictures turned out lousy because of the shine. So just imagine the old enamel kettle all shiny but with a dial on the lid. The dial is the exciting part. This dial tells you when those jars of food you just put in are ready to be timed. It is according to your altitude. We are at 5000 feet and so we fit into the orange section.

When the water and contents of the jars in the water bath reach the correct temperature, which for us is when the red dial goes up to the green line, then for pears I set the timer for twenty minutes for pints. No more guessing if the water is bubbling enough. This is a must buy if you are a serious canner. Meaning if you like me  have boxes and boxes of food to process. I've left you a link encase you want to read more on this new gadget.

Next week I should be pretty much done and I can put my garden to bed, starting on a cazillion other projects waiting for my attention. Isn't that the way of it when you are working on being as self-sufficient as possible.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New Way to Separate Eggs

 Our oldest daughter sent us a U-tube that was in a foreign language, Japanese I think. It had me fascinated so when our daughter came up for the weekend we had to try it out to see if it really works. Maybe we didn't have to do it over twelve times but hey, we can now tell you the whole scoop and we got a home-made angel food cake out of the deal.
 Miss Doubtful here thought a plastic water bottle's opening was too little so I tried a Naked juice bottle. It sucked up the yolk alright but it immediately fell back on to the plate so our daughter went out to her vehicle to get a water bottle. Amazingly, it worked like a charm. Squeeze the bottle and make contact with the yolk.
 Voila, the yolk separates with nary a speck of white. Especially awesome when you are making angel food cake.
 And it stays in the bottle unlike the larger mouthed Naked juice bottle.
 You can plop the yolk back onto your white and suck it up once more.
The amount of cohesion is impressive. Would this work on store eggs? I don't know since I'm using fresh eggs and the yolks are fresher and have a stronger cohesion. But that isn't a guarantee that every egg will work since we did have one that broke after sucking it up into the bottle.

It is pretty tough to clean out the bottle since it is has such a small opening, so we switched to another bottle. We try and keep a few on hand, though the majority of the time we use reusable containers to haul water in when we travel. They come in handy to give to others, especially when they are leaving and not coming back to our house.