Friday, January 26, 2024

Peanut Butter Fudge

 Peanut butter fudge candy making

Mark and Esme made peanut butter fudge last night, largest ingredient contained : sugar.  It's a very hot process with stirring so much that it makes your wrists hurt.  I took the pictures, and they did all the work.  It set up well this time, and he says it will be gone within just a few days.


Below : Charlotte trying her best to also be on the stove side rug while Esme is stirring fudge.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

of rugs and cats

It's been a while since I mentioned this, but we're sort of a hobby farm - with all these chickens, and my gardens, our 'working dogs' who are Catahoula and mutt and protect the chickens and the cats - and Melody, our blind goat whose main job is to eat weeds.  I had thought at one time I might have sheep or goats for wool and milk, but I wasn't quite brave enough for that, at least.. yet.  I guess you could also say our cats are actually 'working cats' - although don't tell them that there are cats that aren't (they won't believe you anyway) - they catch mice, they patrol around the yard and the chicken yard perimeter and the gardens, the garage etc.  And we have lots of mud, and lots of cold floors in the wintertime (cement and wood). 
The first of the 'working rugs', shown with Loki cat, a large Manx (we bought him and his sister from a working farm near Milan, so our cat Minion would have someone to teach to chase mice after all of her kittens were gone)  Loki decided this morning he would sleep there - although our dogs have been loving them, as well, especially as 'parking points' while they watch us cook.  I made this rug years ago for use in Esme's room.. but it sort of phased out and ended up in an old hamper.  During one of these cold snaps I had pulled it out and washed it, and put it back to good use.


This rug is headed for in front of the chair in the downstairs bathtub area - where the green one was before I got very cold cooking one night and moved it to the kitchen.. then I moved it to another place in the kitchen, and that sort of set off 'You should make more of these'  So I did, I made two more.  And when they get really dirty (like these garden shoes here, which are some of my favorite, mud and all) they can just get thrown into the washing machine. 

The bits : I darned socks and blankets today, finished that rug, swept floors, (swept floors again, and again... it is like that here with dogs!) did lots of laundry - put away lots of laundry! --- that ice storm, and the frigid cold that made it last all last week meant so much got pushed to the back burner.  I've got to work the weekend so I tried to just put as much 'good' as I could without really wearing myself out.  Esme when she got home and saw the post : You know that's a cat, not a rug, right?  It's not a cat rug?  Maybe Loki thinks it is.  The post says 'of rugs and cats' : it's about how our cats are working cats and chase mice and stuff, and these rugs are working rugs - as in, we're putting them to use.  Loki is, putting them to use, too.

I also finished that thank you gift for the people who helped us pull our truck out of the mud -a couple of knit dishcloths and a little card.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Pineapple Banana Cake, projects, garden thoughts


I had read somewhere that pineapple juice will curdle milk, but that heat-processed canned pineapple will not do this.  I had saved some pineapple juice from dinner last night and when I made my banana cake (which has milk and egg in it) I put the pineapple juice in after I had added the flour, and thinned it back out, and then put it directly in the oven.  We'll see how that turns out.

OK, it was a success, and I ate it with peanut butter

2 eggs

2 bananas

some milk

a couple of packed tablespoons of brown sugar

mixed all together - add all purpose flour, baking powder and salt

slowly mix in pineapple juice with the flour 

bake immediately in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until edges are brown

Working on some projects, looking up things on seeds and trees :

The Hazel tree we have needs a partner (or more) in order to produce nuts.

--looked into costs and season times etc.

The Black cherry tree we have is having a problem that looks like the trunk is splitting - asked an extension agent (from the wrong state, but they answered, awesome!) and they told me perhaps frost split and it might heal itself - but it will also be a place where fungus and insects can further damage the tree.  We will watch it this year for more of either of that - brown withering leaves etc etc.. and we might finally chop it down.


 possible frost split on a black cherry tree, or black knot, or cytospora canker

I got a hori-hori knife for one birthday for the garden, and I use it, both to dig with and to cut small razor vines and underground roots and such.  I got a Japanese sickle last year or the one before as well (boy the tractor supply guy's eyes were wide on that one) and have used it to cut grasses and lespedeza around here.  I talked with Esme about what both tools were, and that maybe I will look at getting a little hatchet this year to cut down small trees and bushes - Dad got her a machete for one of her birthdays but she doesn't use it, and I don't really feel like that is the right thing for my tasks, either.  I need to track down where my hoe-axe went that I normally keep upstairs here but somehow disappeared during the Fall.  I took the hori-hori out to plant peas yesterday because I could not find the hoe.

Bought some lemon cucumber seeds, they did unexpectedly well last year when the other cucumbers planted with them failed.  Need to plant kale soon.  Been thinking about trying Kenearly beans again, in that front bed where the peppers were - and putting the peppers only in the one bed (I had separated hot from banana this year after mistakenly buying both).  The one little squash I was thinking about planting is not available from the place that was selling it - Lakota, so I dug in my collection and found Little Gem which I had bought and not started any of.  Carrots need to be planted in March? for July.  Sorrel has to be planted in March.  There are already potatoes planted and will have to see if they bring up leaves.  Esme keeps looking for the lambsear plant but I think something dug it up and ate it - so we have talked about getting some more of those.  I see them on my route in several places growing in 'you have to be kidding' conditions between gravel etc.. so I think it had to have some help to entirely disappear.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Ice and Snow finally gone

 The Ice and Snow have finally retreated - and all the roads are passable.  The last ''great snow storm" was 2016 (although there have been more since then) but it only lasted three days because it was so much warmer right afterward.  It took so long this time, a week to eleven days!

Knitting and crocheting, working on getting supplies again after all that being trapped in : working on washing clothes and towels and dog blankets after all that having to have the laundry taps shut off because of the freezing temps...

But, the chickens are happy.  They are out in the muddy yard enjoying sunshine and warmer temperatures and eating their food.  During several of these days they would leave their food in the bowl - a lot of them were just holing up against the cold and only coming out if they needed to (smart chicks)

This was their water first thing this morning after sunrise - still half a block of ice after being above freezing for more than a day - but it has melted by now.

Going to go out there and change it all over, wash down their platform with the hose, and show Esme some of the things that are already coming up in the yard and the garden - I saw kale out there volunteer from last year already, alive even after these zero degree temps!  It blows me away.  She said she didn't really know much about our heirloom garden project / property of Shepard Lane Garden, but then I asked her what this was, what that picture in a gallery was, where things are growing - and she knows.  She just doesn't realize how much she knows and that the knowledge is part of the heritage project, as well.  We've been identifying the different plants that grow on our prairie areas as well, and she knew a few of those or at least where that plant was and what time of year.

Sunday, January 21, 2024


for the record, that's not my car in the ditch there, but where I have parked my truck it isn't going to be all that easy getting it back out, and we have rainstorms now the rest of this week (and higher temps, which is better)

So 'this was all supposed to melt by today' huh?  No, sir.

This is what it looked like about 2:30 pm, 3 o'clock today, and that was the warmest it was getting today.  It should melt tomorrow, but not until about 11 am probably.

Of Feathers and Wheat and little ink sketches

somebody, Lyffan cat, is bored in all this ice and snow

and deciding to try to eat the decorations


 ink and colored pencil

And I updated my Cloudfolios a little because they said it had been so long

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Still Iced In 2024




Still frozen in on our little farm - that freezing rain over all of it made it so difficult.  We are low on dog food, and propane - and really no way to get out or for anyone to get in.  Hopefully we have a break tomorrow - it is supposed to get up to 31 degrees.. and they still think they have me scheduled for early in the morning on Monday.  That is yet to be seen.


Anyway, working on my French language.  DuoLingo says I have now gotten to B1 level - so I went and found an hour long plus French detective movie (with Lea Thompson, Miss Detective, it was good!) and watched it with just the French subtitles on for clarification of what I was hearing.  I understood a lot - not all, but a lot.  I can think of French translations for most, but not all, of the sentences I am thinking in English. It gives me a good idea what I need to learn still (besides spelling, which I am still not great at).  

I finished the crochet rug for in front of the stove, and started another one as the original one I took for the sink side of the kitchen had been in the bathroom where I put on my shoes.

Mark wants to make dog cookies with pumpkin, flour, eggs and bacon grease for the dogs to tide them over.  They're not out of dog food yet, but they can see the bin emptying and they all have expressed concern.  That is what you get with Catahoulas - they are such conversationalists.  They've been talking with the cats about being in front of the propane heater and etc etc.. as well.  I can just sit in that room and watch the air currents from the heat sources and the lights and watch the animals communicate and almost feel like I'm relating to some ancient yurt scene of ancient times.  All while I take yarn and form it into cloth, and drink hot fluids.

I asked Esme if she wanted to go sledding out there in this - the hills are perfectly slick, and she sounded just like Mark and I combined: 'I'd rather not.  Let's just say we stay in here and be warm, ok?'  Ha. I'm still remembering her swearing when she heard I had just walked home from where I abandoned the truck the other day - and then she gave me a big teenager hug, and said she was glad I was safe.  She doesn't want out in this : and I understand.  She has been feeding and watering the chickens, though, and getting their eggs - which is no small task when they are all in the house together.  We use the empty water pitcher to ford the way to the nest, and then grab the eggs and put them in the collector basket.  


We do have plenty of chicken feed to make us to the warm spell -- and I need to remind myself to stock up on feeds if at all possible in case we get a repeat of this for February.  I don't want one.  But I want to be even better prepared for one.  I thought I was fairly well prepared for this one, but then it lasted longer than expected, AND I was asked to go out to town more often than originally scheduled BUT did not feel safe enough or have enough money to bring much more resources home in between it all.  I could have bought more propane one of those days, but I was already worried about going in the ditch and in the ditch with a full canister of propane in the back of the vehicle is just 500% more No-Fun-At-All, enough to make me not even try.  Gah.  At least if I had bought more dog food though, I could have went back to the truck with the sled and brought it home.  Things to Think About.  Things I wish we didn't have to think about.

I do think Esme will help us bake, if we choose to do that in a bit.

She tried to boil some eggs last night to go with her dinner - she didn't like the freezer meals we were using up and she wanted to make something of her own.  But she didn't boil them long enough in this cold temperature.  I do that sometimes, too.

crochet rug, 27 by 16, scrap yarns and stash yarn (the blue-grey stuff) that was leftover from making my huge shawl a few years back - still using that to keep warm, as it wraps all the way around me and ties in the back or at the side.  Minion cat has said the shawl is wonderful, because she can lay on my lap and rub her chin against the fuzzy part and feel like she is being held by a mama cat.

Blue Shawl, from 2018, with two kinds of yarn

Going through part of my yarn ends and scraps to make sure I have enough to finish the second kitchen rug I'm working on.  I do.  I only got halfway through my collection and started sneezing and said 'yep, there's enough, put this all away and go make tomato sauce'.

Making tomato sauce with garden tomatoes in the freezer, and black olives, and frozen meatballs from a few weeks ago - and Esme and I are having that for dinner tonight.  Mark is also making more Brazil Nut cookies... every year he gets on a habit for Brazil Nuts, and the last two years I've asked him to watch the House episode where the guy gets Selenium poisoning from 'chestnuts of peru' (brazil nuts) just because it reminds me of that.  Ha. 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Snow 2024 : Episode Three



The crochet floor rug I'm working on, the other one is still a big hit downstairs but there isn't enough of it.


Today was Too Much Adventure, as I call it.  I was called in yesterday to do the full city walking postal route, and I did, get it done, and got home with only some fishtailing and 'hold your hat' over the hill, but I did not enjoy it.  And today, they called me and told me that kid was calling out again, and so I came in - delivered the packages, and it was only two and a half hours, but it had begun to rain and then it was due to freeze again.  


I tried three times to make it back up the hill to my house (after the highways were clear, but our side road is NOT.. and it was 29 degrees and people were sliding all over town even on clear highways, I saw the reports).. and the truck was smoking, and I decided to call it 'it could be worse - let's not have it worse' and park it in a neighbor's turnaround with a SORRY note sticking out the window with my phone number on it.  It didn't block their drive - but I'm sure it was 'what, why?'... but the other option was keep trying as it kept getting icier and maybe end up upside-down in the ditch.  The second and third time I tried to get up that hill I was sliding on the return towards the ditch also... and it wasn't fun at all.  


So, I threw on the emergency gear I had put in my seat each day this week for walking in this weather- big rubber boots (which, I actually wore on the route today as well as my good shoes got soaked yesterday) and an oversized parka over my normal parka jacket - and walked the mile and a half home.  I'm hoping to go out there (also dressed like this) in a few days when it is close to water temperatures again and take my plastic sled and a bin of salt with me and see if that will make the difference to get me the rest of the way home for the melt on Monday (when I'm scheduled again though, before the melt) **sigh**


A self-portrait of me walking in my big orange parka and rubber boots today


Melody, our mostly blind goat, enjoying some time inside (tied to the desk, because she singes herself) next to the propane heater


The heater is popular, here is Melody (nose showing only), Minion (cat), and Charlotte and Daphne (dogs) before they realized I had a camera and was taking a picture of them.


Chickens asking: Where is dinner? 


Charlotte going out with me to check on and feed the chickens.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Crochet Rug, Winter Weather, and Snow

This weather ( 9 degrees, 4+ inches of snow on the ground, more snow in the forecast, and no above freezing temps until the end of the week) just goes to show you what all that knitting and crocheting multiple pairs of gloves, scarves, slipper socks, blankets and rugs for the house really is worth... it's so nice to come in from fighting chicken water dishes frozen to the ground (they're great now) and snow falling all over you from the netting above the yard to change into dry things, have a dry pair of gloves ready to go for later and sit down to a project and be warm.

This is a second crochet rug, as I was using the first one to stand on to peel potatoes and fry onions yesterday in the kitchen, and all the animals were playing musical chairs with it, some even sitting on my feet while I was standing on it.  I had emptied an old hamper a few weeks ago that was full of 'not really used things' from years ago, and found that and decided it was in good shape to wash and put into use somewhere.  I had put it in the bathroom where I put on my socks and shoes and it was often commandeered by a cat there.  Last night, on the concrete floor with 9 degree temps outside, I decided I wanted it while I was cooking as the chill was coming even through two layers of socks.  So, it might be worth making more than one.

Working on some more French - then I might spin the wheel and see what language I land on and see if I want to switch for a bit.  I was being spoken to in Spanish and trying to respond in a dream last week, and told the person I could actually understand about twelve languages 'well'.. and then when asked further, that I had studied up to 22.  A bit after that I woke up and told myself I wasn't really doing that well in most of them, which is why 'dream me' would only admit to 12 until pressed.  I found that interesting enough to note for the future, even in my dreams, I underestimate because I'm worried I really don't know enough.



donc se crois - sitting here crocheting on this and thinking, you know, now of all times you have a few days to do this without your hands hurting too much to drive tomorrow, you should probably string up your loom, (but no, I have this project, why start another?) when else will you have the time to start it much less work on it - and the last three projects off that loom are in well-good use right now (pillow on bed, mat on footstool, bag full of stuff) so it'll be worth it eventually, and kick yourself into the kitchen and start some white beans to soaking, as well, since you never have the time to do that.

arguing over who gets to sit in the sunbeam

little black cat (Minion) went out and came right back in... even with the sun up out there it is just so cold.  Lyffan (other fuzzy butt above) keeps popping her tailless Manx butt out the door over and over again, and I make sure I get her back in after a few minutes.  The Manx kittens can't make hardly any noise unless you accidentally step on them (or the goat does, that happens with some frequency, as the goat is blind) - so I get worried when they head outdoors in this weather.  All the other dogs and the mama cat and the goat can make themselves heard - but the kittens barely squeak you can be right next to them and not believe you've actually heard it.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Snow 2024


Mark says at least four inches - maybe as much as 6 in some places

I went into work in the post office this morning - fraught drive in, fraught drive back - they sent us home with a bit of pay for making the trip.  I was glad to be home and safe.  There's more snow in the forecast, and Esme is off school for much of the week now... we'll see how the rest of the week goes, but we might be in through the next weekend.

Esme brought a few things up to Grandma for her birthday yesterday, before the snow started in.  I've been knitting some since we got home, and doing French.  When it's this cold outside, I've been 'counting noses' every few hours and definitely every time I get up in the night, making sure no one is left outside.  The chickens are even being smart enough to use their house outside - they usually roost on top of it under the canopy, which makes me roll my eyes - but they're chickens... after this snow, they split between the house and the little igloo next to it (two roosters) and I hope that is better because last year the ones that insisted on staying on the roof anyway frostbit their combs and it took a good while for the tissue to get better.