Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Canning and planning

Processed another batch of apple pie filling this morning for a total of 20 quarts on the pantry shelf plus a Corningware dishful in the frig ready to be topped and baked for dessert tonight. I think I'll prep one more batch of pie filling tomorrow evening for canning Thursday morning, then do my best to use up the remaining apples by drying, making apple butter and canning more applesauce. I feel like I've got apples coming out my ears, but all the things I'm putting up will help feed my family and visitors while keeping our grocery bill down.

I still have pumpkins to use, too. Since I haven't resolved my storage problem (no room in the freezer; smooth-top range unsuitable for pressure canning), the best I can do right now is cook and puree my big kettle's worth for another pumpkin recipe binge. For potluck last week, someone brought pumpkin pie filling baked in a 9x13 casserole; I liked it even better than pumpkin pie! That will definitely go on the binge list. (All you pie crust lovers can just shoot me.)

The socks are growing . . . ever so slowly. I could say that's because I haven't had much time to knit and that would be true, but I also know I make time to knit when the project is compelling (read NOT on size 0 needles!). There is a certain pattern that is calling to me like a siren – the next pattern in Romi Hill's newest ebook, 7 Small Shawls; Year 3: Home is Where the Heart Is.
It's called Zephyr Cove for a location on Lake Tahoe. I love the way it starts with a leaf –

and ends with waves –
All project photos from Romi's blog

I have this yarn ready and waiting –
Dream In Color Smooshy, Beach Fog and Deep Seaflower
for the pattern to be released! (For those who don't know, Romi pre-sells her ebooks and releases its nine patterns over a year – while also creating other projects. She is an amazingly prolific designer!) I haven't been so eager to knit something in, well, maybe ever!

Knitting and canning; good indoor activities for rainy weather.

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, October 29, 2012

Going with the flow

Looking east from our deck this morning
Today has been unexpectedly nice so far, with fall colors finally highlighting the landscape. I took advantage of the opportunity to ride the horse I have here in training this morning; we competed in his first show yesterday and I want to build on his success. Was afraid he'd be stuck under cover for days after watching the forecast last night. Glad the meteorologist got it wrong, especially after the soaker of a weekend we had!

The dismal weather yesterday didn't stop my guys from working on a necessary project. A sizable portion of the big maple by the sheep fold was dead, and needed to be carefully removed so it didn't come down in a winter storm and damage the fold/barn roof.
View of the work from the deck
View of the work from the barn
While all this was going on, the sheep sought shelter by huddling at the base of a big fir tree in their wooded lot. Doesn't Annabelle look wet and miserable?
Anyone wanna hug a wet sheep?
Speaking of sheep, we moved Browning in with the ewes and other wethers this morning when we discovered some damage at the base of one of his scurs. Browning isn't a basher, but will defend himself from head-butting rams. With his size and big scurs he has been able to hold his own until now, but if he's going to get beat up, it's time to move him. He's Brian's pet, after all; and now Brian will be able to spend more time with him.

That's it for now from . . .

Friday, October 26, 2012

Creature comforts

We fired up the wood stove this week for the first time, and it sure felt good. Dozer jumped up on the hearth and laid down right in front of the fan. :-)

Yesterday I tried out a recipe my neighbor gave a year or more ago for canned apple pie filling (recipe in the comments). I rarely make pies, but enjoy fruit crisps and have an abundance of apples this year. The recipe is supposed to fill a canner, but I had more than a quart left over plus a quart that didn't seal, so I made two apple crisps in addition to the six quarts put on the pantry shelf. One is for potluck after church tomorrow; we're having the other for supper tonight. I snuck a taste so I could report to you that it's mmm, mmm good! I'm going to make another batch after I get back from the dressage show on Sunday, and am thinking of using stevia instead of sugar.

I had to reassure Sarai with a little loving when she found out that no one has committed to come out and hug her tomorrow (for National Hug A Sheep Day). I guess after the big story hit, everyone that is anyone is headed to Punkin's Patch to hug the famous sheep!
One big, happy 'ramily' – L-R: Blake, Bunker, wether Browning, and Cadbury
Remember that damaged panel in the Ram-ada Inn? Well, the boys finished the job yesterday, so we removed the wreckage and let them run together. To my relief they seem to be getting along fine. I had kept them separated because Cadbury is smaller than Bunker and Blake, but so far, so good. Rick did a lot of grumbling; I think telling him that I am not breeding anyone this year was our (me and the rams) only saving grace!

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New day dawning

Today Peaches and Sweet Cheeks were integrated into the flock, and lived to tell about it.

Today there was a cancellation in a dressage show, so my training project will be making his debut this Sunday. Praying that I live to tell about it. (Just kidding . . . mostly.)

Today my ten-year-old drove me from the barn to the house in our manual transmission Ford F-250 so he could unload the firewood in the back before the dressage show. I lived to tell about it.

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random Wednesday

A recent sunrise
The blue-egg team
Rick decided to pot a couple of volunteer tomatoes
to see if they would produce inside during the winter
The silver squirrels are busy, busy, busy
It's a good thing my family doesn't depend on me to keep their feet warm!
Sarai says, "Don't forget; Oct. 27 is 'Hug a Sheep Day'!"

That's it for today from . . .

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Best utilization of a hot flash

Yesterday I opened the door to the deck, pulled up a chair, and cooled off while stalking one of my favorite visitors to our bird feeder, the Red-breasted Nuthatch. Fall bokeh was a bonus!

Vacillating between hot and cold at . . .

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just add water...

Horton's pasture, so recently straw-colored

Looking towards our house, and a greening lawn

Looking towards the neighbor's house over a greening turn-out area
(mostly weeds, but still green!)

That's it for today from . . .

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sheep on Sunday

One of the things I love about this time of year are the sunrises. They happen later so I'm more likely to see them, and more clouds in the sky mean more interest and drama. This morning's treat:
The rams have been busy taking out their hormonal energy on the heavy horse panel that divides the Ram-ada Inn in half – and managed to break one of the pipes! I'll need Rick's help to swap this one out for an intact panel:

I pulled Cadbury out the other day for a coat change and a pedicure, a good excuse for a photo op.

Midside fleece shot
The tiniest tail on the place
I like this ram a lot, but because of my abundance of "ram power" and limited breeding opportunities, he is the one I would be willing to let go to a good home. He is a stand-offish boy when free, but is easy to handle and leads well on a halter once caught. He is a smaller ram, has fine, soft fleece with disorganized crimp, small scurs, a typey little tail and carries solid moorit. His lambs out of Annabelle this year were both very nice. Inquiries welcome.

Big Bart
Sweet Sarai
The ewe/wether group is enjoying their woodland turn-out. Some of the ewes are punchy; they are feeling their hormones, too!

That's it for today from . . .

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday farm news

Look who was checking out a nest box Friday morning!

And look what I found by the end of chore time!
Goldilocks' first egg

And look who's joined the flock!

Sweet Cheeks
Yes, Friday was definitely full of feathery doings - and no, it doesn't take much to excite us here. :-)

I wasn't looking to get any more chickens; ten seems a good number for our accommodations. But while chatting with Laura Thursday I learned that she was seriously considering eliminating her two remaining Easter Egger pullets. Even though they had the distinction of being her only named  flock members, they weren't laying yet, nor were they integrating well in her flock. (Maybe having names made them the equivalent of "teacher's pets" and the other kids were beating up on them because of that?) Well, seeing as I am partial to Easter Eggers and Laura was coming to West Salem to pick apples the next day, obviously Sweet Cheeks and Peaches needed to join flockmates Brassy, Gilda and Goldilocks here at Boulderneigh. The arrival of Goldilocks' very first egg Friday morning seemed a fitting seal of approval!

I put the new girls in the "protective custody" cage within the henhouse when I got them home, but that night when I closed the pop door and counted beaks, Peaches wasn't there. She had somehow gotten out of the cage and was up on the roost! I left her there (and left Sweet Cheeks in the cage) and hoped for the best.

This morning when I went to open the pop door, Peaches was nowhere to be seen. I finally spotted her - hunkered under the nestboxes behind Brassy, who was already working on producing an egg in her usual spot. Interesting that she took refuge with an old friend from Laura's, even though they've been separated for four weeks!
"Lean on me..."

Today's egg haul? Three pullet eggs. The Golden Girls are showing the rest of them how it's done.

Counting my chickens at . . .