Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mother Nature Playing Tricks?

“Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, "I'm going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that's tough. I am going to snow anyway." ~ Maya Angelou

And that is what it did yesterday. Luckily living in the river valley sheltered us so we only received an accumulation of slush. Surrounding areas got up to 20 inches of snow!!! Nobody was prepared for this. Accidents abounded as most people didn't have snow tires on, tree's down with the weight of the snow on the remaining leaves, electricity is still off to thousands.

While most people outside this area were trying to dig out, stay warm, get to work/home etc. the kids and I tried to stay busy. We made a double batch of cow flop cookies. If you never lived on a farm you might call them no bake cookies. We have always called them cow flops because that is what it looks like...thankfully it doesn't taste anything like it. We then made rice pudding, used the leftover pork from the night before to make BBQ pork for lunch and a roasted chicken for dinner. Hot cocoa was the drink of choice. Why is when it snows, hot cocoa is the only drink that will give you that warm fuzzy feeling?

A friend came over and while her and I worked in the house, #2 daughter and my friends two girls cleaned the barn! Can't get much better than that.
Ended the day by finally starting a pair of socks for me, me, me from the handspun Shetland I got at Endless Mt.
Today the man had an hour delay and the kids have a two hour delay. I am going to dedicate my day to the sock and catching up on laundry. Snow days make alot of diry laundry, especially when you didn't have ths snowsuits unpacked yet!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yo Yo Syndrome

Life's ups and downs provide windows of opportunity to determine your values and goals. Think of using all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want." Marsha Sinetar

Recently we have been having lots of life's ups and downs. You already know about the hit and run.(DOWN) Then we were told he had insurance so we filed a claim. (UP) Then we received a letter from his insurance company stating his insurance was cancelled on 8/27/08.(DOWN)

Friday I had go buy feed and travel into town. The man said he would get the day off and come with me. I was looking forward to a day with the man (UP) His boss decided he didn't need the day off so I went alone (DOWN) The man called me from work to tell me somebody offered to trade their truck for ours. (UP) Ours -2003 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 short bed with 100,000 miles but damaged. His a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 single cab 8 foot bed not a 4x4 with 200,000 and a rebuilt engine. He had the time and money to play with fixing it but we didn’t. We traded him as we do need a truck, the kids are old enough that they don’t come with us all the time so we don’t need the quad cab. The longer bed gives us more room to haul and it has a class 5 hitch for towing.

Saturday we transferred the tags and we were mobile again (UP) Oh, yes I put collision on it! We came home and stopped at the mail box to get the mail. There was a notice to go to the Post Office to get a certified letter. The letter stated the man (as in my man) was the cause of the accident for being parked on the side of the road and was being fined $74. (DOWN) He was parked on the side of the road with his headlights, four way flashers, and bed light on a mile long straight away. As a volunteer file police he was standing and directing traffic and had to dive into the canal to stop from getting run over but he is at fault?!? So we are going to fight it and go to court.
#1 daughter had come down to help paint (UP) so we got a third coat on the kitchen. It is red red! Actually the top right corner is closest to the color. I had used the flash so it looks brighter than it really is.We were going to paint more but had to go back into town.

I had promised #2 daughter that I would take her and two friends to see High School Musical 3 when it came out. #2 son opted out! I messed up and didn't buy a ticket to Saw5 so the man slept thru HSM3. After the movie #2 went home with the friends leaving the man and I alone. We did a little shopping and went to the Chinese resteraunt. (UP) Yup just the two of us...doesn't happen often and we enjoyed every last minute of it.

Sunday we went to visit a friend and left the keys in the truck…it automatically locks. (DOWN) After the husbands tried to open it with no success we called the garage and luckily found the owner working. Ten minutes later he was leaving and our truck was unlocked.(UP) We drove home to can the sauerkraut and we meet D and were reimbursed for the tow fees.(UP)

We canned 1/2 pints, pints, and quarts and ended up with a total of 19 quarts from 30 lbs of cabbage. (UP) A friend's friend decided she didn't want chickens anymore so delivered a RI Red hen and rooster. We had dispensed with our attack rooster so the little nephews didn't get hurt and the bobcat got a hen so this was a welcome addition. (UP)

Monday I was determined to finish the Dana Marr shawl I have been working on. I did! (UP) I suck at blocking and couldn't find the wires (DOWN). I roughly got it stretched and found that when the needle came unscrewed and the stitches fell off that I didn't fix it as well as I thought I had (DOWN) It is still pretty and it is done so I can move on to other things (UP) #2 daughter was talking about stockings for Christmas so maybe I will start making some of them.

Today we woke to our first school closing. (UP or DOWN only time will tell) #2 daughter is upset since she had planned to dine out with her Spanish class. The electricity has gone off and on three times now. #1 son called and he has 6 inches whereas we only have slush but it is to continue today and tonight. It was just getting to the point where I could see up into the woods. The last leaves are sure to come down now! Or branches...guess I better go make sure there is oil in the lantern and kero in the heaters.
Oh, in case you weren't counting there were more ups than downs which as Martha would say is a "good thing"!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shorter days

As the days grow short,
some faces grow long.
But not mine.
Every autumn,
when the wind turns cold
and darkness comes early,
I am suddenly happy.
It's time to start making soup again.
~Leslie Newman

I made Chili for dinner last night. But #1 Daughter wants us to can some soup for her. I have to get moving on that because after the soup and the sauerkraut we will jar next weekend, we will be done canning for the year.

When Saturday dawned at 27 degrees and Sunday came in at 25, (it is 23 now...we are on a downward trend) I decided that was enough and I could harvest the horseradish. I made 8 1/2 pints of Audrey's Horseradish Sauce on Sunday.

For shits and giggles and because #1 daughter bought me an awesome little scale, I decided to keep track of what we canned this year and it is as follows...
Horseradish sauce 8 ½ pints
BBQ Sauce 4 (½ pints)
Elderberry Jelly 11 pints
Rhubarb Relish 8 ½ pints
Blackberry Jam 8 ¼ pint
Strawberry/Rhubarb Jam 9 pints
Strawberry Jam 3 ½ pints
Currant Jelly 7 pints
Black Raspberry Jam 8 pints
Blackberry picked over 100 pounds of berries
made Topping/Pie Filling 43 pints
Brandy 2 quarts
Froze 12 pounds
Zucchini froze 38 pounds, cubed, sliced and grated
B&B Pickles 30 pints 4 quarts
Green Beans froze 11 pounds
Salsa 34 ½ pints
Tomato Soup 22 pints
Apple Currant Jelly 11 pints
Apple Blackberry Jelly 16 pints
Chili sauce 7 pints
Onion Relish 5 ½ pints
Pickled Hot peppers 11 ½ quarts
Tomatoes 22 ½ quarts
Hot pepper butter 17 (1/2 pints)
AppleSauce w/redhots 10 ½ quarts
Apple Butter 25 ½ pints
Apple Pie Filling 35 quarts

Along with this there is dehydrated apples, frozen gallon jugs and canned apple cider, blackberry juice, frozen broccoli, berries, peppers, celery which I didn't measure, 2 steer, 2 pigs, 1 lamb, 30 chickens and 2 turkeys. Now I am waiting on the can-can sales for things like corn which we never seem to grow enough of to can and peas. The potatoes are in the well house, the nuts, squash and pumpkins in the root cellar. The cupboard empties quickly at Christmas time when we make up baskets to give to friends and neighbors but it looks really good right now.

I have hung some of the sunflowers up on the fence and put out a suet cake and the wrens and tufted titmouse are daily visitors. The deer is under the apple tree nightly eating the peels from what I dehydrated that day. And if the dogs reaction is any guess the bear was here Saturday night and last night. We left the door open to let him go do his business...both nights he came running in, hid under the bed and started barking! Brave dog! My brother saw one mama and cub not far from here which he said had a very brown muzzle. Since most of the leaves are off the tree's maybe I will get to see her while looking up into the woods.

I started washing the sheeps fleece and can't wait until it is all clean. I want to spin some of the black. The two black fleece are different and Toupee's neck is turning gray (I am not upset by this!!!!) This is a crappy picture but the camera's batteries died so it was this or nothing. On the left is Toupee and Sable on the right. Sable's is a tighter crimp shorter fleece where as Toupee's is longer and more open. And yes even though they don't look it in this pic they are black. In other fiber news...I am still knitting the lace shawl from HMG. I am on row 102...only 58 more to go. I need to finish this so I can move on. The soup might have to be put on hold until this is done!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nice & Cheap

The nice guy always finishes last OR why cheap can be expensive.

Last week was another busy week and I was also preparing for a craft fair. Friday night we went out to dinner with #1 son and his girlfriend. After dinner we went to pick up a cartridge to finish printing somethings for the craft fair. We got home about 11:30, up at 6 and while I sat at the show, the man went to get more hay, feed, drop #2 son off at a b-day party, and to Home Depot. I made some money but spent some too on things like soap from Simpler Thymes as the local farmers market was closing. Then we had to pick #2 son up at 11 PM. ..another late night.

Sunday dawned bright and early and we were off again as the butcher called to say the meat was ready. A friend (we will call her D) called and wanted #2 daughter to babysit at 1 PM while she took a motorcycle ride with her husband(who we will call R).

The man left for the meat, I cut & glued the tile for the backsplash, grouted the stove area, and cut the tiles for around the toilet and by the door in the bathroom. The kids got dropped off and the man comes home and we go to work rearranging food in freezers until we have it all in.

D & R drive up the road to drop off D (she left her vehicle here) and R leaves to head home. She gathers up her kids and leaves. Within minutes she returns. I thought she forgot something but her husband broke down 1 1/2 miles up the road. The man follows her and they put the motorcycle in the back of our truck. They are just about ready to leave and a couple of cars come down the road. The man waves them around except the last one doesn't go around. The man has to jump out of the way to stop from getting hurt when the van hit our truck. The police are called and D leans on the van drivers window to tell him to turn off the vehicle as he is leaking something and the police are on their way. The man states "Oh I can't be here, I have no insurance" steps on the gas and almost runs her over and leaves.

The police are notified that he has fled the scene but say they can't make it right away and since nobody is hurt it is okay to tow the vehicle. My friend calls her AAA as my friendly neighborhood towtruck driver is not available until midnight and we can't leave the vehicle where it is that long. AAA states it will be approximately one hour so D & R leave to take their kids home as there is school on Monday. R says he will be back to meet AAA.

The police call and say they are able to come now and meet them there. The man leaves home to meet the police, AAA shows up and since R wasn't there says we have to pay $175.00 to tow it 1 1/2 miles down the road. The man comes home to get the checkbook, returns to the accident scene and pays the driver. R shows up and the driver and R argue if AAA covers this tow. The towtruck driver refuses to move our truck unless he keeps the check. It is now 1:30 in the morning so he kept the check and towed the truck.

Monday dawns early. The man leaves for work (in my mother's car as mine is in the garage) and sees the van driver going to work. He tells me to call the police and tell them where he works. I do and later in the day he is seen driving home so the police did nothing. Our insurance won't cover as I took collision off and the UIM only covers bodily injury. During the day, I find out where the van driver lives and call the police again. I have to leave a message for the officer that arrived at the scene to tell him this new information. We go to pick up my car and talk to the man at the garage about the truck and he says the frame where the door hinge is located is bent so would have to be cut and welded and he has not even had time to look at the A frame...(my tire is at a 45 degree angle) and the windshield is cracked. But basically he thinks the truck is done.

So Tuesday finds me with a 2003 Dodge 1500 quadcab paperweight....and even the price of scrap has gone down. I don't know if the police went to get the van driver but I am about sick of having to do all the work for them. I can sue the van driver but I would be dead before I collected any money as he only works off the books. D says that she called AAA and we should not have had to pay the tow truckdriver (no duh!) and she is waiting on them to call her back. Town gossip says the van driver had a suspended license which has now expired. He is a drunk and was drunk when he hit our vehicle.

So helping someone cost me a truck. I will take part of the blame as I should not have taken collision off last year eventhough the truck was payed for. I had paid for it for two years after it was paid off and decided to keep that $1500 - 2000 a year for myself. Of course hindsight now states that the $1500 -2000 that I saved this past year will not buy me a replacement vehicle. Being cheap didn't pay off. Being nice didn't pay off. I am so POed at all involved (self included)that I have a migraine and have been popping Tylenol like pez.

I would love to walk down (1 mile) and kick this van driver in the gonads just so I could vent some. I know myself enough to know I would enjoy it too much and wouldn't stop with one kick. I bet the police would show up then!
On a lighter note, when the man called me from work at lunch yesterday, I told him I took out steaks for him for dinner. He asked what kind. I told him t-bone. He said "oh you had to pick t-bone" I asked why and he said T-bone like my truck was t-boned and started laughing. He has an odd sense of humor.

And on the plus side. Nobody was hurt (but I did have insurance for that!) I do have some hay stored. I don't need as much feed since I only have the sheep and chickens now. When I do need more feed, it will fit in the trunk of my car. I have already picked up my meat which wouldn't have fit in the trunk of my car. Things could be worse I guess, but I don't want to find out.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

First Frost

"The grim frost is at hand, when apples will fall thick, almost thunderous, on the hardened earth."- D. H. Lawrence
It got a little nippy last night. The temps were 30.7 when I woke up.The sun was just melting the last vestiges of our first frost from the grass at 10 AM when I went to my mothers.
I stripped the squatter’s right apple tree on Sunday so no apples will be falling. I stored some of the apples and have some here to dehydrate and bake with. The apples had already started falling heavily which is what spurred me on to get them before they all fell and bruised. The horseradish should be ready now –maybe tomorrow I will tackle that. The sauerkraut has approximately two more weeks and then canning will be done for another year.

Archery hunting season started here on Saturday so we did not get to walk the upper ridge. Instead we spent the weekend buying more feed, hay and groceries, picking up #2 son’s .22, moving all of mom’s outside furniture into the garage, digging more potatoes and sorting the first ones dug. And before we knew it the weekend was over.

In fiber news, HMG released a shawl pattern on Saturday. It is on Ravelry here… I am using lace weight and have 50 of 160 rows done. This has me glued but I only work on it during spare moments while the kids are in school. I learned my lesson after having to tink a row back.

We have also done some shopping for the house, more grout, tiles for the back splash, switch covers, lights and stove pipe to hook up the stove to the triplewall pipe. However, dentist and doctor appointments, drives to boy scouts and fire department meetings have kept us from putting it all to use. If we want to be in before the snow flies we had best get motivated.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Autumn mosaic

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."- Stanley Horowitz I put the chickens and ducks in the garden for their own protection. Before I did so I harvested the last goodies it had to offer. One of those goodies was a sweet potato…yes one. When the slips came in we were having a lot of rain and the garden was too wet to get into. By the time I got to planting them I was down to four slips. The plants gave small tubers but only the one worth eating. I made it my lunch and it was good. I pulled the turnips, parsnips, carrots, dug some potatoes, got a rutabaga and made a pot of beef stew using these root veges. A loaf of homemade bread made a great meal yesterday when high temps were only 54 with lots of wind. The wind however did make it a great day for catching up on the laundry. And that same wind brought down a lot of apples from my squatter’s right tree and my black walnut tree. Today Mom and I dug one row of potatoes and spread them out in the garage to dry before storing them. On the walk home, I gathered up my stash of butternuts. I had been picking them up and piling them on top of a stump….a squirrel decided I didn’t need nuts so he absconded with some. I noticed my pile dwindling and decided I better grab them while there was still some to grab! While I am outside, I am amazed at the myriad of colors. In Spring I look for the first green blade of grass and then green is the dominant color all summer. But autumn brings a different color with each turn. I think its God’s way of giving us a good dose of color to get us threw winter when it is only white, gray and brown. It is like he takes his palette and dumps all the colors down on the leaves. Right now we are supposedly at 40-70% in color. This poor forsythia doesn't know what season it is!I will take it for as long as it lasts and then when they have fallen I can look up into the woods and see the deer and turkeys walk the lower ridge line. This weekend, #1 daughter and Sir T are coming down to walk the higher ridge to get a look at falls splendor from the top of the mountain. I have recharged the batteries in the camera, so I am ready.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I love Fall!

"I love fall! Fall is exciting.
It's apples and cider.
It's an airborne spider.
It's pumpkins in bins.
It's burrs on dog's chins.
It's wind blowing leaves.
It's chilly red knees.
It's nuts on the ground.
It's a crisp dry sound.
It's green leaves turning
And the smell of them burning.
It's clouds in the sky.
It's fall. That's why...
I love fall."- Author Unknown

Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons. Summer and Winter are too hot or too the Three Bears, Spring and Fall are "just right". It doesn't drain you as quickly so you are able to get more done.

This weekend we cleaned up inside the house and laid the tile behind and under where the woodstove will go, did more spackling, installed a kitchen counter top and tiled it.

Monday I painted the kitchen and dining rooom, painted the cabinets, grouted the countertop tile, and laid the tile in the bathroom.
Tuesday's plan was to finally finish off all those apples by making apple cider. I had a 55 gallon drum of apples still left. As I was setting up, the chickens started squaking. I looked over and they were running so I assumed the fox was there. I go running and see a bobcat take one of my chickens out. He turns around with my chicken in his mouth and wants to run toward the woods, see's me and takes off around the front of my greenhouse and goes up the side, behind the blackberry patch and was gone leaving a trail of feathers behind. He is big...thanks to all that free white meat the neighbor and I are feeding him. I honestly don't know who was more surprised....him to see me or me to see a bobcat when I was expecting a fox. It took the mind a couple of seconds to even realize what it was. So I have to get whatever I left in the garden out and let the chickens and ducks go in there in hopes that it will be a deterrent.

I started doing the cider but then we lost power for a couple of hours which left me with no water for washing the apples, so I went looking to see where the bobcat had gone so I could have someone set a trap. I followed one patch of feather's after another and then as soon as it got to the woods...nothing. I walked the lower ridge line and never saw a feather. What I did see was the witch hazel blooming, and the fact that there is not a nut to be found. There were lots of empty shells and husks but no nuts. I came out of the woods and finished making the cider. I got 15 gallons and aching shoulders from cranking. I froze eight gallons and canned 7 before saying "Uncle".

In fiber I have not been spinning but I have been knitting up a storm. I had joined a Yahoo Holiday Mystery Group too late to participate last year but this year they are doing it again. They give free patterns twice a week. I have done the washcloth, the Gansey hat and I am doing the mystery gift. We are on clue 3 of 7. I have also been making stockings in hopes of selling some from my cousins table at the craft fair on October 11.

Today should be an easy day, the garden, laundry, house cleaning and a dentist appointment for #2 son. That means guilt free knitting while he is in there! And tonight we grout the bathroom floor.