Saturday, March 30, 2013

It Must Be Spring!

Yep, spring is definitely on its way . . . but I sure do wish it could arrive without going through this dreary, damp, muckity-mud period.  Spring time this far north is never pretty.

Last night before it got dark, just the very top framing of the garden beds could be seen peeking out of the snow cover.  After a night of slow, steady rain (we got about 3/4"), the above picture shows what they look like this morning.

Some of the ground underneath must still be frozen because there is standing water in most of the beds.

Our little pond has a melted, murky puddle of water in the center of it.  (I wonder how long before our returning spring Mallards arrive?)

It took only two sessions of cleaning the muddy feet and underbelly of our granddog, Tucker (after he convinced me [I'm so easy] he really, REALLY had to go outside to take care of his business), for me to decide he's spending the day in the greenhouse.  From there he can come and go in or out as he wishes.  In the shot above, he's in for a rest after giving himself a spring cleaning by rolling, rolling, rolling in the mushy snow.  But he's not happy I told him he can't come inside the house.  He's pouting and so mad  he's even refusing to lie on his nice, soft bed.  Yep, it's a dog's life.

The temp is forecast to go up to the high 40s today, possibly even hitting 50 degrees which will be a high for us this spring season.  The rain is still steadily coming down so it's guaranteed more snow will be gone by the end of the day.

All this is evidence that spring IS coming to the north woods, and I'm getting itchy to put some radish seeds in a garden bed.  I may have to wait until the frost leaves the ground first though.  And the water drains out of the beds.  And the temperature climbs out of the 30s.

Happy Spring, Everyone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Surprise Package

There is a very sweet and thoughtful gal in California who sent me a surprise package in the mail recently.  (Wanna guess who?  I'll give you a hint:  She writes a blog called Tombstone Livestock.)

Along with a nice note and some beautiful stamps, and some seeds for Knobby Green Pumpkins (don't they sound interesting!), she sent this fabric.  The strip fabric is old time feed sack replicas.

And this border?  "Hog wash!"  Love it.

So what will I do with this fabric?  (Gosh, I dunno.  How 'bout some . . . (wait for it) . . . potholders!)  Those feed sack reprints could hardly be more fitting for potholders.  I promise to take pictures when they're done.  (There may be a give-a-way involved!)

Thanks again for my surprise package, Sweet Lady Raiser of Sheep and Goats! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Fifteen Egg Omelette?

We've always had a soft spot in our poultry-raising hearts for bantam chickens.  They eat less feed than standard sized breeds in proportion to  the number of eggs they lay, and the fact that they often go broody and do a great job of raising their young is a real plus for us.

A year ago when we placed our order for some new chicks, we chose to include some bantams because our remaining bantam pair (one hen, one rooster) of Golden Laced Cochins was getting up in age.  We've kinda lost track but we know our hen is either 5 or 6 years old.

Sad to say, the hatchery couldn't supply the ordered bantam chicks, but in late summer, our dear old bantam hen went broody and sat on five eggs.  She succeeded in hatching out four of the eggs.  The picture above shows two of the chicks when a day old (and obviously camera shy).  Of the four chicks, glory be, they all turned out to be hens.  (Now that's a ratio you don't often get!)

Those four little girls have grown to nearly full size (for bantams) and are starting to lay eggs.  You all know pullet eggs start  small and work up to a bigger size, but these eggs give new meaning to the word "small." 

I wonder how many it would take to make an omelette for two people?  I know they sure would look cute dyed and in an Easter basket, wouldn't they? 

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Hubby and I both have been in a sorting, organizing and cleaning frenzy.  I think it has something to do with the knowledge that spring is coming (yes, keep the faith because it really will arrive) and in the not too distant future we will be outside working on projects 24/7 . . . so we'd better get crackin' and do what we can inside now.  Our efforts mean lots of things being hauled to recycling or locations for donation or stored to be possibly sold at a later date.  There's the possibility of Internet sales, plus daughter is planning on having a big garage/rummage sale this spring.

* * * * * * * *

I did a bit of sorting in my big freezer and was reminded that I still have all those cherry tomatoes in there that I need to make into either juice or sauce . . . or something.

There are two big bags of them.  Two big grocery bags of them.  I've been ignoring them all winter, but guess they're not going to get processed unless I do it.

* * * * * * * *

Last week I was trying to cut a bad spot out of an onion, the knife slipped and put a good slash on my left index finger right alongside the nail.  (No, I don't deserve any sympathy.  I knew at the time I was doing it  that the way I was holding the knife would likely insure disaster.  Isn't it funny how we know when we're about to do something stupid, but do it anyway?)  What I learned is that I use the index finger of my non-dominant hand one heckuva lot.  I had to keep it bandaged for a while but then decided it would heal better if I let the cut get some air instead of withering away inside that often wet, oozy-goozey bandage.  As a result, do you know how many times I've hit that healing cut and broken it open?  Who knew my left index finger was so active?

* * * * * * * *

We're gonna run out of wood before the heating season is over.  Hubby says, "No, we'll make it."  I say, ""We're gonna run out of wood."  This fate is befalling us for two reasons.  First, the primarly reason is we installed and are firing a second wood stove in the living room this year.  This means we're using almost twice as much wood right there.  Secondly, Chicken Mama is heating with wood in her new little cabin home and since she moved there in January, she had no wood supply so we told her she was welcome to haul dry, seasoned wood from our shed to her place.  We did this gladly (and know she appreciates it) and wouldn't have had it any other way.  Besides, we know (hee-hee, there's a method to our madness) she'll pitch in to help fill our two sheds with wood this summer.  (Believe me, that girl knows how to handle a chainsaw and will do her part.)  We have oodles of wood stacked in our back wood working area.  Although it's in 8' lengths and still needs to be cut, split and stacked under cover, it's not like we have no wood available.  And who knows?  Maybe Papa Pea is right and the supply left in the shed will get us through to warm weather.

Yeah, here's to warm weather!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Does This Seem Backwards?

Pictured above is the load of things I had to take to town with me today.

Nope, not the load I brought home, but that which I took when I left for town.

Took me 'bout ten minutes to load the truck before I left.  (Slight exaggeration.)  Does anybody else do this?

Just doesn't seem right . . . 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Gal Is Capable

March is a month when we typically aren't surprised to get snow.  I suppose we could wish for these winter-like conditions in December.  Or January.  Or February.  You know.  In the real winter months.  I mean today is the first day of Spring, right?  Ha!  Not in these here parts.

The not-so-nice thing about this last snow we got is there is a coating of ice underneath everything.  A fact to which Chicken Mama can attest.

I snapped this picture from Papa Pea's office window this morning.  Dear daughter had just dropped off Tucker and was heading down our driveway to work.

The depth quality of the picture isn't good, I know, (and she was already halfway out) but her little red chariot ended up completely sideways in the driveway.  There is a sharp 90-degree turn to our driveway right before it goes into the heavy woods and out of sight of the house.  The turn is v-e-r-y slippery right now. She stopped crosswise in the drive with her back wheels just enough off the drive and in a snowbank to hang her up.

No problem.  She hiked back in toward the house, and when she got close her dad hollered out and said he'd suit up and come help.  She said thanks but she could handle it herself.  She got a small can of our ashes, a shovel and had herself unstuck practically before her dad could dress himself in all his winter regalia.  He got down to her just in time to wave good-bye and carry the ash can and shovel back up to the house.

This little getting stuck problem was nothing compared to what she's dealt with the past two-plus years when living alone out in the boonies at Swamp River Ridge.  Whenever I compliment her on how capable she is and able to handle anything tossed her way, she replies she's able to do so because we raised her "strong. " (Said with a grunt and show of muscle.)  I'm not sure that was a quality listed as Number 1 or 2 when thinking of the characteristics we tried to instill in her . . . but I'm glad it turned out that way. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sometimes A Dog Needs A Little Help

This morning our granddog, Tucker, asked to out into the front yard to . . . well, ah, um . . . check things out.

To do this he has to cross the deck . . . which he couldn't figure out how to do because there was two feet of cement-like snow most of the way from our house door to the steps down into the fenced in yard.

No, we didn't get two feet of snow.  Just around 4" yesterday but then last night we had high winds that blew snow into solid drifts in inconvenient places.

So understanding Tucker's plight, Papa Pea left his breakfast to go shovel a path for Little No-Legs to traverse across the deck.

"Thanks, Gramps.  I really needed to get out."

What did this born and bred Minnesota dog do when he had accomplished his early morning rounds?  Laid on the deck and enjoyed the fresh air and atmosphere.  Stiff breeze and all.  (Go with the flow?  Bloom where you are planted?  Make the best of the situation?  Tucker knows how to enjoy life.) 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Pee Tree

I don't mean to gross anyone out with the title of this post.  Sorry if it bothers anyone with sensitive sensibilities.

On a recent snowshoe hike in our woods, we not only saw many wolf tracks but also came across this tree which the wolves (I'm assuming it was more than one!) used to mark their territory.  I'd never seen a tree completely encircled by multiple urine spots.

* * * * * * * * 

This is what you get when temps are up near melting, then plummet, and it starts to snow.

We've had a steady snow most of the day today but only about 2 inches of accumulation.  The forecast is for heavier snow yet tonight.

When going out for the mail today, we were surprised to see the main road snow covered and looking fairly slippery.  The temperature must be at that particular point where the salt and sand spread on the road don't make for much melting.

We're glad to be home safe, sound and warm.  (Well, safe and warm for certain.)  And since our daughter no longer has the hour drive to get home from her work at night, this mama can cross that worry off her list.  Life is good!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

If New Potholders Can Make You Happy . . .

. . . I'll keep making them 'til the cows come home!

Got this sweet picture of beautiful K holding her new potholders (to replace the well-used, old Halloween ones she's been using for wa-a-a-y too long).  A set for Easter, spring and summer.

  Thanks for sending the picture, you wonderful, wacky lady!  Love you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's Impossible

Since the (ridiculous) time change last weekend, I cannot get dinner on the table at the appropriate time.

Apparently my inner scheduling device was more attuned to the light outside than to the clock inside.

Each day this week when it's time I should be setting our evening meal on the table, I'm still knee-deep in afternoon activities and apparently thinking it's an hour earlier than it is.

Oh well.  I'm sure by next fall when we have to go through this nonsensical process again, I'll finally be acclimated to this past weekend's time change.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bunny Body Parts

Nope, we haven't gotten back into raising rabbits as a meat source (been there, done that) so this isn't a post about butchering rabbits.

When dear daughter came into our house Sunday and saw this yarn carnage laid out on the couch, she suggested I take a picture of it and label it "Bunny Body Parts."  (Think she might have a weird sense of humor?  Oh, ya.)

For the upcoming Easter holiday, with luck, all those miscellaneous knitted bodies, arms, legs and ears will be transformed into more bunnies like the one pictured above.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

False Advertising

False advertising is what the weather forecasters in our area have been doing all winter.

False advertising is what I'm doing by inserting the above picture in this post.

No, dear readers, the picture does NOT represent what our weather conditions are this morning, but rather it's an old picture I pulled from the files.

The forecast yesterday was for snow to start around 1 a.m. this morning with a couple of inches accumulation by dawn and then heavier snow starting around 7 a.m.  We woke to no snow (surprise, surprise!), but some flakes have been falling since 8 a.m.  It's light and our temperature reads 31.9 degrees so how long before the flakes become liquid drops of rain?

Rather than radiating all kinds of ugly angst and emitting my perpetual grumping and groaning about our nearly snowless winter, I've decided to just give up on winter this year and start looking forward to bare ground, warm weather and the coming spring season.  

I'm beginning to think we made a mistake all those years ago in moving north so we could experience lovely winters full of snow and all the recreational activities (and snuggling inside in front of a fire!) that affords.  (Our old home stomping grounds in Illinois have gotten more snow this winter than we have.  How depressing!)

* * * * * * * *

One more area of "false advertising" I have to talk about . . . and this is strictly my own fault (no weatherman to blame) . . . is that I said I would post a picture of the potholders I made to send to K.  Well, I whipped up a set of Easter themed ones for her (which means I'll have to get some spring/summer ones to her p.d.q. or she'll be using the chickies and colored egg potholders come Fourth of July).  Then, dang, I had them completely packaged before I remembered I hadn't taken a picture of them.  Poop.  

Hubby and I have both been having one heckuva time lately remembering what we want to remember.  (Pass the Ginkgo Biloba, please.)  I've been teasing our daughter saying she'd better get ready to take care of us in our dotage.  Her reply is to roll her eyes and exit the premises quickly while muttering, "Uh-uh.  No way.  Not gonna do it.  Wouldn't be able to handle you two."  Times like this I'll bet she's thinking there aren't so many advantages to being an only child.  (Hee-hee.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

An Evil Combination

There seems to be something widespread in the air these days that is a combination of procrastination and low energy levels.  I know I've been fighting it and it's been mentioned by other bloggers.

The good news is I think I've been shaken out of my own hum-drum, bah-humbug, I-don't-feel-like-doin'-nuthin' mood . . . and it's about time.

* * * * * * * *

Papa Pea and I sat down yesterday afternoon and went over things we'd like to get accomplished this coming spring/summer/fall season . . . and then discussed the things we HAVE to get done this coming spring/summer/fall season.  I think it really helped to face the cold, hard facts surrounding our time, money and (in some cases) skill levels in tackling our goals.  We made a good start on scheduling and we'll see how it goes this spring.  (Then most likely make adjustments necessary to insure keeping our sanity through summer and fall.)  Now that we've discussed and sorted through things that have been rumbling around in both of our heads, having a general plan has energized me.  It always helps to have a plan.

* * * * * * * *

This morning I received (via our daughter) an e-mail that put a big grin on my face and gave me the impetus to get my rusty duster into my quilt room and work on a fun project.  Potholders!  What else?

The e-mail was from the wonderful little gal (yes, she's about as big around as a pencil) who was matron of honor those many, many moons ago at Chicken Mama's wedding.

Here's part of what K wrote:

" . . . it's just NOT ok that I have to
place my springy, lemon muffins
on my Halloween potholders."

True, I had sent her a pair of Halloween themed potholders a couple of years ago, but I didn't think the silly girl was using them year 'round!

So I had a good time today thinking of this beautiful gal with the whacky sense of humor who always makes me smile whenever I hear from her.  The potholders only need the binding put on them tomorrow and they'll be ready to send off.  I'll remember to take a picture to post before packaging them.

* * * * * * * *

You'll be happy to know we averted a real crisis here this afternoon.  We had plumb-dumb run out of kindling!  (I know, I know, such a monumental tragedy.)  We have plenty of bundles of pre-cut cedar wood stacked high and dry in the wood shed next to the kindling bin, but I've been a ba-a-a-d be-prepared-homesteader in not getting it split up and ready for fire starting.  So I swathed my body in adequate layers of clothing this gray, damp, only high in the 20s day (again) and worked on getting several bundles worth split and tossed into the kindling bin.  I'll keep at it, doing some each day, until I've split all we've got cut and ready.  I hope that will take us through the spring heating season when we typically use a lot of kindling.  We don't keep a fire going during the day as it gets warmer outside and often not even overnight.   Therefore, we use more kindling in starting a fire both morning and in the late afternoon or early evening most days.

* * * * * * * *

Time to turn off the computer for the night and possibly get ready for an early bedtime.  Feels like a good night to get into bed and read . . . maybe tonight for more than my usual 6-1/2 minutes before I konk out. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Been Kinda Quiet . . .

It's true, not much has been going on to report or make for blog fodder.  But that's a good thing because it means nothing has stopped working or fallen apart.

I've been out of pie crusts for a while so yesterday I spent some quality time with an audio book at the kitchen counter making up a big batch of crusts for the freezer.

Then as long as my head and hands were in a pie mode, I made a custard pie.  (Does anything say old-fashioned, down-home goodness like a custard pie?  A custard pie and to-die-for hash made with leftover roast beef always make me think of my grandma.)  The top of my pie got a smidge bit more browned than I would have liked, but it will still be edible.

I've been in a cleaning mood lately (which is always a good thing) so next I started in on our bedroom.

My closet was the scariest so I dove in there first.  Only got as far as the top shelf.  (How could so much stuff have been stashed up there on that not-very-wide shelf?)

When I had all that clattertrap spread out on the bed, I tore into the bookcase which held more stuff that didn't really belong there.

As you can readily see, the arrangement in the bookcase is far from done.  In the meantime, I've created a mess on one end of the kitchen table.  (Fortunately we have a big kitchen table now.  Otherwise, no meals would be served there in the foreseeable future.)

I've had a bad habit of tossing things I didn't know what to do with into miscellaneous baskets and boxes and stuffing them in said bookcase.  These all need to be gone through . . . and the contents dealt with.

I did manage to get the surface of our bed cleared so we had somewhere to sleep last night.  But that doesn't mean I've come close to finishing with the cleaning and reorganization of the bedroom and its contents.  A couple more double shot lattes this morning and I might be tough enough to get back at it.