Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Darling Lili, our little chick is growing like a weed! (I guess chicks do that, don't they?)

She is spending most of each day outside in the front flower garden. For some reason, she's decided that she likes it there much better than in the area that is fenced (and safe!). It's a little weird because she's just out in the unfenced yard... but she mostly stays in the flower garden up by the house. We put her away when we leave the house and at night, of course...and I've never seen a coyote that close to the house... so I think she's pretty safe.

 I think she adds a nice touch to my garden... sort of a living yard art kind of thing.

Here she is in my garden... Do you see her?

There she is...

She scurries after us if we walk through the front yard... She even followed me all the way to the barn the other day.

Check out those wild feathers on her legs and feet...

So... I've finally stooped to blogging about a chicken.

I really need to get a life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Puttin' up

We aren't "homesteaders" by any means, but I do try to grow and preserve as much of our own food as possible. What I'm able to do is a tiny drop in the bucket of our yearly food intake... but it's something.

Food grown yourself tastes so much better than store bought food... and there is nothing that tastes as good as home-canned peach jam, or chili made with home-canned tomatoes in the middle of a cold winter.

I usually can enough tomatoes to last a year... I think I put up 25 pints last year, which was almost enough (I ran out in June!). I'm hoping to get 30 pints canned this year. I've already got 19 pints done, and the kitchen garden didn't freeze the other night (although the big garden did! :( ) so I should have no trouble getting another 10 pints.

I've also made some spicy green tomato pickles (no regular pickles, I'm afraid... we didn't have a long enough growing season this year to get any cucumbers), pickled jalapenos, peach jam, strawberry jam, and jalapeno jelly (Mmmm... it's better than it sounds!).

I have green beans (probably not enough for the year... that early freeze finished off the green beans too, I'm afraid) and zuchinni frozen and a few pumpkins out on the vine.

The herbs went crazy, despite the cold rainy summer, and I'll have oregano, basil (probably), chives, cilantro, rosemary, sage, thyme, (can't you just hear Paul Simon singing about Scarborough Fair?) and mint to cut and dry. My kitchen will smell so good! I planted rhubarb this year, but it got off to a slow start... Maybe next year I can make some strawberry rhubarb pie! I also need to plant some garlic soon, so I'll have it for next year...

And berries... I have a spot all picked out for berries, I just need to get the ground turned and enriched and get them planted. (Can you tell, I always have more plans than money or time!) Hopefully I'll get the berries in next spring.

Our fruit trees produced for the first time this year. We got some delicious cherries a month or so ago, and just picked our first crop of small (but tasty) apples. They aren't beautiful apples (like in the grocery store) but they were grown without any chemical pesticides or fertilizers which, I think, makes up for their lack of beauty. Our apple trees are so tiny that we didn't get a lot of apples... I'll probably just make applesauce from them.

A sample of goodies from the pantry, from left to right.... spicy green tomato pickles, pickled jalapenos, (several tomatoes ripening on the windowsill), tomatoes, peach jam, strawberry jam, and jalapeno jelly. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yep, we're still here... but no time to post (or do much of anything else!) last week. 

It was a rough week... one when it felt as though M's FASD and schizophrenia were tagging teaming us... shaking us around the way Quin shakes his toy fish. For those of you who know Quin, you'll know what I mean... for the rest of you a picture will have to do.

Quins shakes it so hard that his head and the fish are a blur, and it swings around crazily and hits anything or anyone who happens to be too close. Quin is brutal when it comes to his toy fish.

FASD and schizophrenia are brutal sometimes too.

The good news is we made it through the week... somewhat scarred (not physically, Steve) but mostly intact... and it's a new week with fresh possibilities. I've adjusted one of M's meds, sent "we've got problems" emails out to doctors, and got some decent sleep last night... hopefully this week will be better.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What month is it?

Hmmm.... It's only Sept. 21st and outside it looks like this...

... it appears it's going to be an early fall.

I guess I'd better bring the geraniums in...

...and maybe a little kindling and firewood too. I've got graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars in the pantry... ready for the first snow (and the first fire in the fireplace... we're going to make s'mores!).

Have a warm and cozy day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I just had the most marvelous birthday!

My out-0f-town kids came home for it and although it was a short visit, it was so good to see them. We even squeezed in a quick game of Apples to Apples (our new favorite game!) :)

Then we all got together with our oldest daughter and her family for a relaxed, delicious meal in town. (We went to Noodles and Company... I love their Pad Thai!)

And to top it all off, my kids got me exactly what I wanted for my birthday. Here it is:

Yes, that's two little plastic chickens, a plastic goose and goat, some tiny trees and a big plastic bumble bee.

For my birthday this year I asked my family to take the money they would normally spend on my birthday gifts and instead of getting me gifts, spend it on donating some livestock through Heifer International.  Each little toy represents a gift donated to this organization for my birthday.


Don't get me wrong...I love to get gifts... but I feel like I've already been so blessed... with our beautiful acreage, our livestock, dogs, etc. and with the even greater blessings of my wonderful kids and family, and my good friends. My health is good, there is plenty of food on the table and hay in the barn, and even after buying those things I have enough left over to buy everything we need and even quite a few things we just want.

You know, it just doesn't get much better than that...

So I decided to do something different for my birthday. I looked into Heifer International and it looks like a great organization. I really like their philosophy and their programs and was excited about supporting them. My kids picked what they wanted to "buy" (there are many options for donating, and they have projects in both the U.S. and around the world) and ended up donating one goat(my BIG present) two flocks of chicks, one gaggle of geese, one gift of trees, and a donation of bees

From the Heifer International website: "Heifer International is a non-profit organization whose goal is to help end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance & sustainability". You can read more about how Heifer International works 

I have to say this has been one of my best birthdays ever (hmmm...  I think I say that every year, don't I...). My little group of plastic animals and trees are living in the classroom where I can see them often, say a quick prayer for the people who received the real animals, and remember what a wonderful birthday this has been.

I have such an awesome family...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Well, amazingly, our little chick has survived... She is almost a month old now and is growing feathers and getting to look much more "chicken-like"...

... only in a very  miniature size!

She's still living in the classroom (we made her a little pen up there) but R takes her outside every day for a while to just peck around and explore.

R's even checked Tilly's tolerance level for chicks and found it to be plenty high enough for a little ride!

Tilly is such a good sport...

M has started hippotherapy again, and is enjoying being back on horseback. He goes to a regular stable for the therapy, but is feeling comfortable enough with his riding to get on Murphy. (Yes, we really did change Blaze's name... he's definitely Murphy now, and has already learned his new name!)

M still needs a headwalker, but hopes to be able to ride independently before too long.

We spent all day yesterday (well, almost all day) at the barn... Tilly and Murphy had their teeth floated. I knew they both needed it, but I'd been dreading it... The last time we had Murphy's teeth done was right after we got him, and it was ugly... he REALLY doesn't like anyone messing with his mouth.

It was a little easier this time, he didn't flip out quite so badly... we had our new vet do it and he is really good with teeth. I didn't take any pictures... I was busy holding large equine tongues out of the way, trying to avoid having my fingers filed down as I held their cheeks out of the way of the files, being soaked from the knees down with water (the equine equivalent of "rinse and spit" can get a little messy when you are in the holding the head position), and doing these things while our loopy animals (sedated for the procedure) lean heavily on me and I try to keep their heads straight, and still, in the head-holding-device. It was an exciting afternoon...

For the rest of the week we'll be working on getting-ready-for-fall chores... I need to finish painting all the wood on the exterior of the house with wood preservative, touch up some exterior paint, and then get some more canning done.

It's a busy time of year!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We live in an area with lots of huge ponderosa pine trees. On the hill above our barn there are probably 8-10 of these big trees, and it's a favorite nesting place for at least one pair of red tail hawks.

Almost every day we see them circling high above the pasture, gliding on silent wings, often with several noisy song birds chasing and scolding them away from their nests (and their vulnerable eggs and babies).
I've tried for years (since we've lived here) to get decent pictures of the hawks... but they are always too high and are way too cautious to let me get even close enough to zoom in for a good picture.

The first year we lived here I got lucky and took some pictures of this little guy..

... who was sitting in one of the pine trees outside our dining room window. I thought at the time he was probably a very young red tail hawk, but I'm not sure, there are falcons and other types of hawks around here too.

Whatever he was he was cute though...

Then today I walked out on my front porch and looked down towards the barn and saw one of the big red tail hawks sitting on our pasture fence.

They NEVER come this close to the house, and rarely perch that low.
Can you see him?

I zoomed in and got this picture... he's a big bird!

Unfortunately, as soon as I started walking across the porch to get closer, he flew away. (you can just see him in front of the stall doors)

It was strange that he got so close to the house... I'll have to keep watching, maybe he'll come back...