Wednesday, December 19, 2007

at least it was quick . . . oh, wait . . .

I'm a mur-diddly-urd-ler. Tonight I was driving home on Highway 38 (like an idiot, you'll see why) and instead of going 40 like I should have been, especially as a longtime resident of this area (again, you'll see why), I was going 50 (5 mph below the speed limit) so I could get home and get my sister off to my dad's Christmas party. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a family of deer, one of which I HIT, SENDING HER FLYING DOWN THE ROAD where she struggled for a few minutes, then expired. I feel awful. If only I hadn't been going so fast, maybe I could have stopped before I hit her. Such a waste of life, even if they do seem to lie in wait to cross the road until the exact moment at which they're most likely to be hit. I'm particularly bothered by the fact that she didn't die immediately, that she had to lie there in pain until her body finally gave up. I wasn't hurt, nor were the frillion jars of baby food that were causing me to be late in the first place. The policeman who was dispatched to take care of my mess said that they get about one deer a night in this county. I helped him pull her off the road, and she felt just like one of our goats. Now she'll probably go out to the bird refuge to feed the carrion birds, so I guess I can be all Mufasa about the whole thing.

Our car is brokus from the deer, so that's something to take care of. See? These are the things that happen when you get out of debt. Actually, we were very lucky that it wasn't a lot worse. The front grill is ripped out, but there is no damage to the gooey innards of the car, so we can drive it over the holidays and not have to figure out a way to haul all these people.

We have a ballpark estimate of what it will take to put a bathroom downstairs, and it isn't pretty. But I think we'll be able to do it, once we take care of the little setbacks that our broken cars are giving us.

I'm making sweet potatoes--again--for Christmas dinner at the Huffs'. I hope people don't get sick of them, because I certainly don't. One of the nice things about them is that they're easily made dairy- and gluten-free, which is a necessity at this meal. It seems like such a joyless and restrictive diet to me--I can barely take the dairy-free way while I'm breastfeeding. But then I guess you console yourself with all the fruits, veggies and meat that you can get your hands on. I'd rather eat a steak than a hamburger any day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

muddy holidays

The weather has been really warm lately--yesterday Grant was able to do the afternoon watering with the hose, so I didn't have to fill the buckets and haul them out. Every few waterings we have to dump out the dregs that are still left in the bottom of the bucket and get completely fresh water in there. Somehow in a way that is not readily apparent our goats are able to poop into the water bucket that is outside the pen, and whenever that happens we have to get all new water. John did a full cleaning of both the goats' and the chickens' water containers last Saturday, because they were starting to look a little manky. I don't worry as much about the chickens, because they will often choose to drink out of a puddle of rainwater and urine rather than their clean water bucket, so it's clearly not listed too high on their rider. The goats, however, will refuse to drink water that has so much as a leaf of alfalfa in it, which I don't get--isn't that kind of getting a twofer? Can't they think of it as Instant Breakfast?

Last night I put cinnamon in the chili I made for dinner, even though I feel that overuse of cinnamon is a hallmark of a weak/inexperienced cook. I also think it can be very effective in nontraditional usage situations, but it depends what the cinnamon is complementing or contrasting. If you toss some cinnamon into a crappy recipe, it's just going to taste like crap with cinnamon in it--and even worse than before, because now there's a jarring taste that calls attention to itself. But when you want a sweet, smoky heat that's a little more complex than just hot sauce, cinnamon is a worthy contender. Hopefully my use of it was acceptable--I thought it was pretty good. Not like my kids cared--they don't like chili yet, and they were all hopped up on goofballs because we made gingerbread houses at my mom's house. Speaking of which, I have to admire their restraint--they haven't made very many gingerbread houses, so they should still be very much in the throes of plastering candy on every surface.

Is that a chocolate Santa with candy presents I see?

No, I haven't been eating any candy. Why do you ask?

It would be super sad if this toy truck drove into the house and wrecked it, and then I had to eat it.

I have no idea what to cook for dinner tonight. I've made a conscious effort not eat out as much as I did last year during Voicemalecember. Too costly, too big of portions, too much of a hassle with my four heavenly angel children. I've got tomorrow taken care of--I'm going to try a roasted version of boiled dinner with kielbasa, rutabagas, parsnips and brussels sprouts. Tonight might be a PBJ night, which will make my kids happy. I've got two half-eaten loaves of bread from yesterday that need to be dealt with, anyway. I've made it through I think 2 or 3 of our buckets of food storage wheat--a wheat grinder makes a huge difference. Also we're almost done with the 25 lb. bag of oatmeal we got from Honeyville Grain. I put it in just about everything for a while; biscuits, bread, meat loaf, rolls, cookies . . . oatmeal . . . I was just afraid it would go rancid before we got through it all. Now I'm thinking I'll go buy another one, because it was so good in all those things.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

for eating

Things Chucking It I've done today:

  • made baguettes
  • made corn and crab chowder
  • taken real cookies (not Lofthouse, JOHN) to the women I visit/teach
  • fed, watered and grained the goats
I saw the piece they did on bread in this month's Martha Stewart Living, and decided to give the baguettes a shot. I was pretty apprehensive, because the bread I make is nothing fancy, and this required a weird kneading method that I'm pretty sure I did all wrong. You're supposed to pick up the sticky dough and toss one end onto the counter, then pull the other end toward yourself. Rinse, repeat for 8-10 minutes. But my dough wouldn't stretch the way it was supposed to--it was way too stiff. I suppose using Lehi Mill flour instead of King Arthur might have affected it. I know that once you get into serious baking that it's a very delicate and mercurial process, easily affected by many factors. Thankfully the baguettes turned out delicious, despite my hamhandedness, with crispy crust and chewy innards, just like they're supposed to.
Marie! The baguettes!

The chowder was supposed to have just crab in it, but I added clams, because I figured it already had clam juice, and it was tasting pretty bland. I used soy milk, but it turned out great anyway. It would have been better with crab instead of krab, but Smith's didn't get their crab in on time, so we had to make do.
sucky picture, yummy soup

I bought some army surplus wool blankets from Smith and Edward's to use as rugs and throws. Wool is some itchy stuff, but it's so warm. We'll be laughing all the way to the not-freezing-to-death-bank if it ever comes to that.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

more boring yak yak

To Do/Wants/Needs List:

  • hay
  • completed breeding of buck to does
  • gravel/bark in chicken run
  • new tarp over chicken run
  • chicken coop cleaned out
  • storage room cleaned out
  • serger
  • treadmill
  • TV
Justification for items on said list:
  • not moldy, because we have plenty of that already
  • we need meat and milk next year
  • stepping in Lake Chicken Poo is getting old
  • being wet is sad for chickens
  • stinky
  • downstairs bathroom needed
  • to make re-usable shopping bags (out of the jeans that the D.I. is too good to take)
  • to enable me to exercise and train for a 5K, because I am a wimp
  • I can't make myself use a treadmill unless I can watch some stories
see what I mean about the mold?

This week I made a bag out of an old pair of John's jeans. It's no beauty, but it will work, and the handles, they will not come off. So that's one less plastic bag to be added to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Marvel at my affection for Mother Gaia! For reals, though, even as wasteful as I am, I have a hard time throwing away a pair of jeans with nothing wrong but holey knees. And I've been wanting canvas shopping bags for a while, so . . . happy jean bags to me.

We bought a big ol' box of oranges from Lee's the other night. Ten bucks to prevent scurvy for the foreseeable future? Sign me up! Now the problem is where to store it. We have that nice big fruit room downstairs, but it's heated like the rest of the house, so it's not a great place to store potatoes or onions or oranges. For now the oranges live in the office, also referred to as Lesser Junk Mountain. (Greater Junk Mountain is our entire property, because we're really not much better than squatters.) Hold the phone. My husband with his giant, juicy chess club brain just reminded me that we can just close the vent in the fruit room. This is why I married him.

I've once again staved off the purchase of a recycled dog. I've noticed that my relapses are becoming more frequent, and this concerns me, because I know that I don't want a real dog, just an imaginary and therefore well-behaved one.

Friday, December 7, 2007

winter prep at baba capra

Because we live in what is currently a temperate zone, there are some things required to get our hippie mudhole ready for winter. We have to use Dame Electricity to help us out in keeping the animals' water thawed, and both of the devices we use specifically state not to plug them into extension cords. Unfortunately, the extension cords are a necessity at our house, since we don't have the goats and chickens living inside the house, and that would make the non-freeze appliances useless, so there you go. Hopefully we won't start the . . . ground, I guess . . . on fire with our reckless disregard of safety instructions.

the goat water bucket

the chicken water thingy--it's the upside-down cake pan-looking thing

Lately I've had to go out with the kids in the morning to do the chores, since we have discovered that, like many children, they just wander around outside until they think it's been long enough, then come back in and say they've done their chores. The goats are narcs, though, and we found out pretty soon what was going on. Turns out they're the kind of goats you have to feed every day. I've enjoyed being out there with the kids (and by kids I meant Captain America, because The Hulk is going through some sort of chore-avoidance phase), because it's so quiet outside, and it's fun to be working together. John is going to have a "take your kid to work" day every now and then. That's something that a lot of kids miss out on these days, now that they don't have to plow and plant and drive the silage truck when they're three. Working in a cube farm won't be as interesting, since it's unlikely that Daddy will get his arm torn off by a baler, but they'll have a better idea of what John does all day to keep our family in the lap of plenty, if not luxury.

Just today I fit into the pants I was wearing once I lost all my Superman baby weight (and before I got pregnant with Pinga), which tells me at least two things:
  • I was super fat before I got pregnant
  • I had no idea how MUCH I was eating
Now, the weight hasn't melted off or some silly thing, but this is the fastest I've ever lost my baby weight, except with Captain America. I may actually be a normal size by the time Willa is a year old. So no wonder America is dying of fatness! We have no idea what and how much we're supposed to be eating! And even when we do know we have no discipline. And we're surrounded by frankenfoods like margarine and egg substitute. I subscribe to the same point of view as John's mom--she refuses to believe that eggs are bad for you. Here, take this chemical cocktail and fry it up in a pan that you've greased with another chemical cocktail--it's totally better for you than these whole, pure, unadulterated foods that came straight from their source with nary a test tube in between! Stupid Cooking Light and their frillion-ingredient (many of which are Not Found in Nature) recipes. They're improving, but they're still too fake for me. I'd rather have the real thing and eat less of it, which I'm slowly learning to do. Hey, I may not clean my house, but I clean my plate!

Monday, December 3, 2007

turns out love isn't in the air

But disinterest and gluttony are! Cyclone (the buck in residence) still hasn't displayed any procreative behaviors, and he eats all. the. time. I don't know when he's not eating. He's friendly enough, although he occasionally wants to come through the fence when the pace of his food supply has slackened, but he hasn't bred any of our does. Surely they don't care that he's a Boer? He's as big as they are and very stocky, so it can't be sizism, right? I could understand if he were a miniature goat, but this perplexes me. He's been here long enough that every one of the girls would have gone into estrus--some of them twice. I can't imagine they're doing it without our knowledge, because from what I've heard, once the van's a-rockin' you don't go a-knockin' for quite some time. Maybe they should try what my grandpa recommended to me (when I had reached the ripe old age of 21 and still wasn't married) and rub some bacon grease all over themselves.

I keep a pot of fruit and spices simmering on the stove during the winter to make the house smell nice and help add some humidity to the air. I'm going to try putting the glop into the garden once it's lost its smelliness, and see if it helps the soil at all. The kale is still going strong and the chickens glare at it jealously, since they're always shut up in the pen now. I wouldn't mind letting them out more if they'd stay over in the field, but they insist on camping out on the patio and covering it with poop. So that's what they get. I guess we could use a border collie for that--he'd stay busy! I wonder how Fauntleroy would handle that. He's a beast, just like anyone who's owned roosters would guess.

I'm starting to feel all doggy again. I know it would suck SO MUCH to actually own a dog, but I sure like the idea of having one for my kids--especially my oldest--to play with. But then what about the goats and the chickens? Is there even a breed that would play with my kids, guard my goats and herd them when necessary, keep the chickens off the patio and not eat the cat? I suspect not. A dog of all trades is master of none, after all.

I'm gradually ticking off the items on my Christmas list. Keeping a Google doc of present ideas and purchases has been very helpful in keeping things organized.