Tuesday, September 25, 2007

fall activities

There's a blurb in this month's Sunset magazine about Logan, which is just over the mountain from us. They recommend hiking the Crimson Trail, which John has done but I have not. I think we'll try it in the next couple of weekends with our kids--it will help them get some wiggles out. When we were there on Labor Day we stopped at an apple orchard in Paradise and got some apples and cider. They let their chickens run around in the orchard and say it helps keep the bugs down--I think that's a great idea. Fauntleroy does present a problem, however. He's a teensy bit vicious, and I don't think we could just let them run loose all the time. Someday when he's gone to the great henhouse in the sky we'll let the ladies out into the yard more often.

We're going to plant squashes in the garden spot instead of a fruit tree. I have accepted my true nature as a cucurbitaceaephile, and we're going to turn that spot into Squash Mountain. I cooked a Hubbard squash last night and I have now eaten the entire thing myself. It was transcendant. I love winter squash so much I want to marry it and have little hard-skinned babies full of seeds, packed with beta carotene and suitable for long-term storage.

I made applesauce last night and it is The New Huff Family Way. It's chunky and I eat it warm, so it's like eating apple pie filling. John has always hated applesauce, but he likes this. Plus I leave the skins on, which helps the fiber content some.

We need to collect some of the goat manure and till it into the ground over behind the lilac bushes and improve the soil a little, even though it's already the nicest dirt on the property. The dirt here in Honeyville is so much richer than that nonsense we had in Lehi. I couldn't make a clay pot out of this stuff if my life depended on it. But here's a little-known fact: poop is super heavy, and difficult to transport when you don't have a goat-drawn manure spreader. Or any other kind of manure spreader, for that matter. So I'm afraid it's going to be a long slog of filling the wheelbarrow with the pitchfork, then driving it over to the garden and dumping it. Rinse and repeat several hundred times.

Here are some things I want to plant in our new, improved garden spaces next year:

Swiss chard
Straightneck squash
Buttercup squash
Hubbard squash (the blue variety, because that's my grandma's favorite)
Green beans
Pattypan squash (a better variety next year--I hated the stuff we got this time)
Spaghetti squash

My family makes squash pie, not pumpkin pie, and we like to use Blue Hubbard. Also, we cook the filling and shells separately, then fill the cooked shells with squash and eat it immediately. This is so much better than any other pumpkin pie recipe, I don't know why people bother with eating it any other way. I hate those crusts that are somehow soggy and leathery at the same time. This way you get crisp, flaky crust with perfectly creamy innards. Yum!

It's time to cut the hay again, if we can get more than a day without rain. It's never a lot of rain, but it comes just often enough to prevent any cut from being able to dry.

We're going to try to get our kids through a corn maze this year--I think they'd love it. It's so crazy expensive, though, you kind of just want to wander around in your neighbor's field for free.

Friday, September 21, 2007

meat is a topic of interest to me

Today my grandma is coming to visit and pick up a bunch of sweet peppers to make relish--and we're on the receiving list this year, which is fun. I'm not usually a relish person, but this is not too sweet, and it's great on Sloppy Joes. (This is my grandma from Grace.) My kids love visiting her, because she buys fun kid foods that they usually don't get here, they get to play in the treehouse and ride horses, and it's even more rural than where we live, so they can run around like even crazier monkeys. It doesn't hurt that she lets them mow her lawn with the riding lawnmower, either. She's an incredible lady, which is why we named our daughter after her. I figured she couldn't go wrong being named after two strong women. Strong women are something we have in spades in our family--coming from all directions. Some of us (cough, cough) veer toward bullheadedness, but we can still be quite nice.

Aside: I looked it up, and it seems that both toward and towards are okay. Phew!

It turns out that the local beef is SCRUMTRILLESCENT. Seriously. I made braised short ribs with polenta and you have no idea. They were falling off the bone, and so tender and juicy. I do love red meat, heaven help me.

We've toyed with the idea of raising a pig, but I'm not sure. It would be another avenue for disposal of slop--we can feed pork to the chickens, and chicken to the pig, right? I wonder about that. They're both the sort of animal that will eat anything you put in front of them, but it's not a good idea to encourage them to cannibalize, I think. But what about meat from animals outside their species? Is that grody, too? I haven't decided. We typically put meat leftovers in the garbage, though I suppose we could give them to the cat. He'd love it, as it would help him in his mission to become the size of an ottoman. Anyway, if we can throw together some panels and stick the pig over by the ash tree so it would have shade and room to move around, that might be something I could deal with. I wonder. It's worth looking into. I like pork, but pigs are kind of yucky in their habits--eating their own poo , dividing the hoof and chewing not the cud and whatnot. Should we really be eating an animal like that? These are the things I think about.

Tilde's horns are growing. Not superfast or anything, but they're definitely going to need to be dealt with. I think we'll try the elastrator method--I certainly don't want to cut them off and have that opening into her skull. Edna has some little nubs, but they don't seem to be growing at all. I'm hoping that they'll have good udders when they freshen in the spring. Catwoman has one more chance, and then we're going to have to cull her, I think. We just can't keep everyone, and her udder looks like it's not attached very well. I'm interested to see how Tilde and Edna perform in the milking stand next spring--I was so pleased with everyone last year once we started milking out by the pen. Goats are so intelligent, and I probably shouldn't anthropomorphize them (especially if we're going to continue eating them), but they really do have different personalities. Finola throws very gregarious and affectionate kids, and Traci seems to be more varied in her offspring. Captain Stubing and Audrey were both very friendly, but Edna was a little more standoffish. However, she is a lot calmer than Audrey, and she doesn't make the horrid noise that Audrey did.

In the next couple of months the ladies are probably going to have a new roommate--it's breeding season, and I imagine our neighbors would rather let us borrow their buck rather than take on the care and feeding of five additional goats for a month. I'm trying to decide what to do about Finola. We think we might give her another shot with Bobcat and hope for the best out of her broken uterus. She's not getting any younger, as John says, and we really want a Finola/Bobcat baby.

I think we'll plant another fruit tree on the south side of the garage where our "garden" currently is. It'll provide shade for the chickens, and we can let them run around in a bigger area and keep the worms out of the fruit. Our apricot tree was a bloody balls-up, but maybe over by the garage we'd have better luck keeping it away from the goats.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

toward or towards? you'd think I'd know by now

Here's something Chucking It that I did yesterday: I made a Red Velvet Cake from scratch. We had a birthday at our house, and we were out of cake mixes. I've always thought that angel food cake was worth the trouble, because it tastes like poo if it's not homemade. But I've never tasted any other homemade cake that was really any good at all. Maybe I've just had bad luck. Anyway, I have to wonder what y'all are so excited about with the Red Velvet. It was a good cake, don't get me wrong, nice and moist, with a tender crumb, but I don't get why it's so famous. Is it just the red color? Because that seems like a stupid reason to like a cake.

In other news, we just got our couch back from having slipcovers made. It's awesome--I bought a bunch of canvas from Smith and Edwards, took it to Eva Jane's Interiors in Perry (sorry, no website), and it turned out exactly the way I wanted. The woman who slipcovered it is so very good at her job. I want her to make slipcovers for all my furniture. Also, we just bought a rockin' dresser from the DI (You can tell I'm a Utahn because I call it "The DI.") which we put in the boys' room. It was made once upon a time for the Sahara casino in Vegas, and it is bombproof. The drawers are dovetailed front and back and it weighs a frillion pounds. I'm going to paint it once I figure out how to paint the laminate sheet on the top--probably a nice creamy white or a pearly gray. Then I'm totally going to commandeer it once the boys are done with it. I love buying cheap old furniture. It goes better with my house, anyway, and it's far better made than anything we could get new for the same price. $80 for that dresser, and it has nine nice, big drawers.

So, we continue our path towards spiritual enlightenment, or at least towards a house that doesn't look like a squatters' encampment.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

families hate the earth

Can anyone tell me why there is such a limited selection of hybrid vehicles? Especially those that can fit more than 5 people? Aren't those people-haulers the cars that have the worst fuel economy? I have been irritated about this for a long time. Why is it only SUV drivers who get the remarks, and not minivan drivers? I have said for years now that once you put 7 people in a car, you're going to need a bigger engine to get them around, and once you put in that bigger engine, it doesn't matter what shape the car is, it's going to get crap gas mileage. I've been searching for a 7-passenger hybrid vehicle for about 8 years now, and only recently have there appeared any choices at all. I can't figure that out. Does the industry just assume that anyone who has more than 3 children must not care about Our Mother the Earth, or even saving money on gas? I'm sure there are a lot of families who can't justify the somewhat larger initial expense of a hybrid vs. a conventional car, but I'm sure that if a small-town hausfrau like me is interested, there's got to be a customer base out there. But I guess I can go out and buy . . . umm . . . looks like only the Toyota Highlander and the Chevy Silverado can do anything for me. Gee. I mean, come on, they're making hybrid TRUCKS, but not minivans? And I hates me a minivan, because they look like giant grubs to me, but when I look around, it seems that there are a lot of people who don't share my opinion re: hideous. And we need a truck for all of the farmy errands that constantly have to be done, and it needs to fit all the varmints. So I guess we'll have to get started on saving that $30,000. Doesn't it seem to anyone else that families with lots of children and farmers might actually be fairly likely to want to conserve resources and save money all in the same go? Annoyed.