Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Good Sad

I've been reading a book by Matt Haig entitled "The Comfort Book."  The following is a quote from his book.
"Do you ever get a kind of gentle sadness
that almost feels good?
Like a nostalgia for a lost past 
or a stolen future that is mournful
but also reminds you that life
is capable of such warm things?
And that you were there
to witness them?"
Oh my, yes.  How about:
~ When your phone rang and it was never a robo/scam call, but rather friend or family wanting to chat and stay in touch
~ When people dressed in their finest to attend social events
~ When there was a dress code in schools for both pupils and teachers
~ When you were small and got a shiny, new silver dollar from your grandparents on each birthday
~ When there were frequent neighborhood weekend picnics in someone's back yard
~ When children played outside after dark without any kind of fear held by either parents or children
~ When children were taught to respect adults
~ When our environment was so clean and pure that one could keep a hive of honey bees in the back yard, harvest your own supply of golden honey each fall and the mysterious affliction known as Colony Collapse Disorder didn't exist
~ When extended families lived in close enough proximity that you knew all of them well which formed a tight bond
~ When a husband was able to work an outside job to earn enough to support the family and a wife's profession was to be at home to care for the children and create an organized, healthy, loving, peaceful haven for all
 ~ When it was rare you knew of someone suffering from cancer, autism, Alzheimer's or dementia, heart disease, auto-immune disorder, diabetes, or deep depression
~ When people, whether at home or out in public, believed that if you couldn't say anything nice, you didn't say anything at all 
* * * * * * * *
Did the quote by Matt Haig bring any such "good sad" thoughts to your mind? 

Monday, February 21, 2022

A Winter of Snow

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is time for home." - Edith Sitwell

"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold." - Aristotle

"Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood." - Andy Goldsworthy

"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness." - John Steinbeck

"A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together." - Unknown

Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Gardening Bug Is Nibbling

After not even wanting to think about gardening for the past how many months, I now find myself getting eager for the coming growing season.  
It's not that I'm tired of winter time (longer nights for relaxing, snowshoe hikes without worrying about ticks, shoveling tons of snow for great exercise out in the pristine fresh air [well, maybe that not so much], etc.) but as the sun climbs higher in the sky and the warmth feels so good on any exposed skin, I can't help but think about digging in the dirt and harvesting crisp, fresh vegetables that will taste so much better than anything I can purchase from the store.
Papa Pea recently noticed one last head of cabbage from last year in a corner of the feed room.  It had been designated for the poultry and it was frozen solid.  He tossed it into the chicken's solarium (they've been so happy there in the sunshine's warmth this winter) and they ate the whole thing.  No butter, salt or pepper required.
That made me make some notes in my garden book about planting more veggies expressly for the birds.  During the spring, summer and fall when they can be out on pasture eating all the greens, bugs and wiggly worms their stomachs will hold, they are hardly interested in what we provide as feed.  But during the winter, they really appreciate mangels, squash, beets, carrots, most any root crop I chunk up, put in a pan with a bit of water and set on the garage wood stove overnight to soften up a bit.  Even potatoes, which are said to not be the best for poultry in a raw state can be fed if cooked.  Over winter, we strive to keep not more than a dozen laying hens (and a couple of roosters as boyfriends) so planting extra for the birds is no chore.
I have a good supply of all the garden seeds I need, but still have to order some potatoes to plant this year.  I didn't plant any last year and have been buying them at our organic grocery co-op this winter, but we've missed having our own stash here at home.  I always plant a red and a white variety.  The reds give us a greater yield, but the whites give us larger potatoes, just not as many.  Almost all root crops grow well up here in our location with little problem.  A few years ago I had wire worms (eeuuuw) in our potatoes, but other than that I've not ever had potato beetles, blight or other difficulties growing them. 
And then there are the garden flowers.  Gotta have flowers which add so much color to the garden and inside, also, as cut flowers.  I once took a bouquet of flowers I grew to a relative.  She told me she preferred to enjoy flowers outside in their natural habitat rather than cutting them.  Each to their own, but I feel one of the joys of growing flowers is enjoying them inside.
Yep, although it's still too early for me to even start any seeds inside, I'm finding myself frequently thinking of this year's garden.  And the way time continues to fly by, it'll be here before I know it.

Looking at pictures of past gardens definitely serves to get me revved up for what's possible again this year.
Do you have plans for your garden all in place?  Growing anything new this year?  What's the size of your growing area?  Raised beds or the more traditional flat plot of ground?  Do you do container gardening?  Have you had any trouble finding the seeds you want?  All thought about gardening are always interesting to me. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Nature Prevails

A couple of days ago as our daughter pulled into our driveway, she noticed a small scattering of what she thought might be deer hide off to the side.  We'd had a light snow fall so she wasn't sure what she was seeing.
After finding the two pictures on our trail camera which are included farther on down in this post, we pieced together what we think may have happened.
We frequently see deer on the road in front of our property and, unfortunately because vehicles go whizzing by, it's not unusual to see a road killed deer along the side of the road.
We're imagining a deer was hit on the road but not immediately killed.  The deer then may have made its way into our driveway where it probably collapsed and died.
As is the way of nature, the carcass was found by the wolves we know are in our woods this winter.  We've seen one frequently that is easily identified by the distinct black tip on his bushy tail.
Checking our trail cam which is on a well-used trail leading up into the woods toward the back part of our property, we found the two photos included below.  If seeing what happens in nature is unpleasant for you, you may want to skip the rest of this post.

This wolf who was obviously in on the feeding off the deer carcass (was our big wolf the only one?), carried the deer head the quarter mile up our driveway, through our surrounding yard area and was on his way up into the woods toward the back of the property passing the spot where the trail camera is mounted.

What a couple of unique pictures to capture.  I guess it goes to prove that a lot goes on that we don't usually see while living here in the north woods. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Always Trying To Stay Healthy

For the past couple/few months, I've been drinking a cup of green tea first thing upon arising.  Even before I make my daily latte.
Green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on our planet as it's full of health-promoting compounds.  Without getting too technically boring, it's said that it can help you lose weight (what? . . . how? . . . who cares?) and reduce your risk of several diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. 
So what's not to like about drinking green tea?  The taste of the stuff, that's what. 
We've had several samples of different brands of green tea shuffling around in our tea cache for a long time now.  None of them have had a pleasant enough flavor for me to say I enjoy downing my morning dose.  I usually can't help but make a face or two until I reach the bottom of the cup.  Sorry green tea lovers, but that's how it hits my palate.
Then a week or so ago, I refilled my container of tea bags here in the kitchen from a brand we had in the pantry.

Yowzer!  The brand is Yogi Green Tea Kombucha.  And it has a pleasant taste!  The flavor is not anything like the kombucha I regularly make for our consumption, but it's teacups ahead of any other green tea I've been working my way through. 
(All green teas do contain some level of caffeine, so if one is very sensitive to intakes of caffeine, it's best to be aware of that.  No amount of caffeine has ever had an effect on me, so that doesn't enter into my personal concern.)
Anywho, I just thought I'd share my discovery of a green tea that allows me to obtain my daily dose without grimacing.  Happy tippling!  (Of the healthiest kind.) 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Appreciating Fences

 This is the time of year when we see many, many well-established deer trails in our woods.  Going in or out of our quarter mile driveway through the woods requires a sharp eye because we almost always encounter one, two or several deer along the way.  There are other areas around our living area where we can easily spot a deer or two a few times a day.

Anyone who lives in an area where the buffalo deer roam knows that those pesky herbivores will quickly destroy most any planting, bush or tree that they can get access to.

That's why we've enclosed our entire growing area with a 7' high deer fence.

This is a partial view of our older apple trees I snapped a day or so ago.  They're planted within the fenced in area.  (The tracks you see in the snow are made by a squirrel bounding over to stuff his cheeks with sunflower seeds in the pole feeder.)

And here are our smaller, dwarf apple trees also within the fenced area.  They are doubly protected by a cage-like enclosure of their own which has a covered top.  This double protection is because we've had so much damage done to the developing fruit on the trees in the fall by invasions of blue jays (and sometimes robins) who love to take big, ugly bites out of the ripening fruit and spoil it for us.

We learned the lesson of how deer can quickly destroy an unprotected planting of fruit trees in a very short time.

On our first homestead here in the north woods, one of the first things we did when getting settled on our piece of land was to plant eighteen small fruit trees.  We (with a great deal of ignorance) felt we didn't have the time or money to put fencing around these young trees.  And I had read that hanging cloth bags of human hair on the branches of the trees would deter deer from coming near them.

So I collected copious quantities of hair from a local hair salon, and carefully made pouches of hair to hang on our little trees.  And you know what?  It worked!


Until one fall night when we had a freezing rain which completely coated all my bags of hair with ice.  The hungry deer moved through the area shortly after dawn the next day and totally destroyed each and every young tree.

Lesson learned, and we've never again planted anything we didn't fence in to keep the deer out as they will always assume we've provided them with succulent goodies to get their greedy little chompers on.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Because I Got Up At 5 A.M. This Morning

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, an image of Caramel Pecan Rolls popped into my head.
There was a period of somewhere around a year when I made these rolls as a special treat for us every Sunday morning.
Then about three years ago, we decided to end the gluttony.  We didn't need the sugar-laden calories even though we thoroughly enjoyed the rolls and gobbled a huge amount of them up without any (well, not too much) guilt at all.
This morning when I rolled over in bed and found myself wide awake a bit before 5 o'clock, I took it as a sign.  I made a quick stop in the bathroom, got the wood stove in the kitchen going, and started to mix up a batch of Caramel Pecan Rolls.

Here's a picture of the rolls taken right after they came out of the oven and I inverted them onto the plates.  You're all invited over to participate in the treat.  Coffee, tea, or milk, if you wish, will be provided.  (Wouldn't that be just great if that get-together could really happen?)