The Good, the Bad, and the Worse

Let’s start with the good.

The pool is almost done.  We hired some workers to come complete the base level and then we spent the weekend setting it up the rest of the way.  All that needs to be done now is the water delivery and and the chemicals.  The girls are beside themselves with excitement and are hoping for a very “swimmy” 4th this year.

The sky was gorgeous last night while we were out there, though it was hard to capture because the lens on my camera kept fogging over from the humidity.

I also managed two other feats last night.  I pulled a decent crop of red potatoes out of the garden:

And I made a blueberry pie.

Oona won’t eat the pie and she’s mad that I used all the blueberries to make it.

I wasn’t sure at first I wanted to share any bad news here, and I haven’t been sure how to write it.  Then I decided there’s nothing for it but to simply get it all out.

One of our roosters, Berry, is suffering from some form of foot injury that has been preventing him from walking properly, and because of this he has become the object of much harassment by the other birds, and he has lost all of his tail feathers as a result.  To go with the theme of rooster rivalry, we discovered another rooster, my formerly favorite “hen” – Roobert, suffering with a grossly enlarged eye socket and copious discharge.  I do have photos, but they are pretty nasty and I am not sure you all really want to see them.  We’ve kept him separated and have been treating him with two kinds of eye medicine.  He seems to be improving, but his eyeball is completely black and I don’t know what to make of it.  What is very obvious to me, however, is that we simply have too many roosters for the land we have them on.  I need to find a way to reduce by at least 3 roosters, and Emily simply will not allow it.  (Nevermind the fact that we also have those 5 chicks that hatched recently, and at least 3 of those are boys).

On top of all of this rooster drama, I am at a loss with the bigger animals.  The fenced area in which they live has been completely decimated by all of the critters I have in there.  The land will simply no longer support them, and nothing will grow.  Even worse, it means I have a muddy, manure – filled area that is quickly becoming a breeding ground for flies and whatever other parasites that  decide they may want to take up residence there.  Ideally Jerry and the goats needs to have fresh pasture and weeds to roam and browse to avoid illness and complete destruction of the land.  I simply can’t afford any more fencing and I cannot leave them outside the fence perimeter – there are too many predators here and I can’t risk them wandering into  the neighbors’ yards.  I am faced with a dilemma.  I have to find a solution to keep my animals healthy soon or I am afraid I cannot keep them.  I can’t  risk their health just because I desperately want to keep them.

I did find a farm very nearby that is for sale at a very reasonable price that would be perfect – large barn, large fenced pastures, pool.  Unfortunately, due to the poor condition of the housing market (and a few other factors) we would never get enough from the sale of our current property to be able to buy it (or really anything, for that matter).

Accordingly I have  been rather down lately, and therefore I haven’t wanted to post much here.  There is a lot going on, but I simply haven’t the interest to post it.  I need to get past this bit of current misfortune and hopefully will have some more cheerful news soon.

Quilts and Pies, Oh My!

Ok, here’s a random, jumbled post for you.

I made a cherry pie last night with two jars of morello cherries I got from Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago.  It was spectacular, if I do say so myself, and there is a very good reason for that:  I tried a new crust.

For years I have only used the pie crust recipe handed down for generations in my husband’s family.  And I was very happy with it.  But then I saw the latest post over at Smitten Kitchen and thought that her crust just looked……irresistible.

So I tried it.  And good lord, it is the best crust I have tasted in my entire life, I kid you not.  I urge you all to try it immediately!

Other than pie – making I have been doing woefully little because of the massive heat wave we have been experiencing.  The animals are unhappy, I am unhappy….it’s just beastly out there.  Fortunately I have plenty of shade for them and I hooked up a misting attachment so they can get some moisture on them to cool off.  Tomorrow is supposed to be about 100, so wish us luck with that.

Mostly I have been sitting in the A/C working on handquilting.

I started this….two years ago?  Anyway it’s easy and doesn’t require much effort, which is good because seriously I just need a hammock to hang out in and take lots of long, summer afternoon naps.  That’s all I want do do right now.

How about you?  How are you beating the heat?

If you’re looking for good reading I highly recommend The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels.

A Happy and Full Solstice

The girls and I celebrated the summer solstice by trekking out to a nearby mountaintop to pick peaches in the insanely hot sun. How else do you celebrate the first official day of summer than with summer’s quintessential fruit?  I tell you that was the fastest 30 lbs of fruit we’ve ever picked.  We just wanted to get back into some A/C!!!

Even after much snacking, we were left with this:

So we made these:

Grilled peaches with fresh basil to top some grilled chicken.

Pocket – sized peach pies.

And peach cobbler.  There are still pleeeenty of peaches left.

After dinner al fresco we made a fire to roast marshmallows and play word games.

I hope the longest day of the year found you all enjoying the sun with your loved ones.

Blueberry Gateau

Happy Fathers Day everyone!

To celebrate, how about Paul’s  favorite summer treat – a delectable blueberry cake!  I have been making this for so many summers now that I cannot remember where I got the recipe.  So, with apologies to whomever may have originally created this, I’ll now share how it’s done.

First you’ll need to rinse about 2  1/2 cups of fresh blueberries.  I’ve not tried frozen in this, but my gut says it would turn out too liquidy.  I’ve also not tried this with any other type of berry, but I bet it would be incredible with fresh cherries, raspberries or blackberries.

Next you’ll want to preheat your oven to 350 and then butter and flour a 10 inch (give or take) springform pan.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the following:

1 cup of flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt.

Set that aside, and in a larger bowl beat together:

1/2  cup of softened butter (1 stick)

1 cup of sugar

Beat these until all soft and fluffy.  Then you’ll need to add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Then throw that flour mixture in and mix it all up.   Spread it evenly over the bottom of your prepared pan.

Now grab your blueberries in yet another large bowl  and add a splash of lemon juice, 1 TBS. of flour and 1 TBS. of sugar and mix it all up.

Toss them on top of the batter you just put in the pan and spread evenly, patting the blueberries gently and only slightly into the batter. Like so:

You don’t want them necessarily in the batter, but you want them to not be rolling around on the surface either.

Now bake the whole mess for one hour.

Now stand back and let your family and friends marvel at the new culinary heights you’ve achieved!

And ask me why I have not yet planted a blueberry bush.  Seriously?  Why have I not?  I do not know.  Blueberries are not too cheap here.  I need to get on that right away.


Out And About

Or, as we like to say, “Oot and Aboot”.

Yesterday we went and got our library cards.  I’d never been to the county library here – I’d always gone to the one in Charlottesville, but it’s quite a hike and there’s never any parking.  As it turns out, our local one is pretty great anyway.  Emily and Neve both came away with books they were excited about, and I even scored a great deal on used books for sale.  Check it out:

The soft cover ones were 25 cents and the hardcovers were 50 cents.  I couldn’t resist the lamb one, since it looks like a Southdown, my favorite.

Neve loves this hamster book she found.

I was also happy to see the library carries a lot of the books we’ll be reading next year for home school.  The craft section sadly was rather pathetic, but you can’t win ’em all, I guess.

The temperature was a little lower today than what we’ve been dealing with so I decided to do more than just the standard cursory check on the gardens, and I was pretty happy with what I saw.

The tomatoes are doing well.

There are little butternut squashes starting to grow in.

And corn!!!  I have corn!!!!!!  I really can’t wait for that to be ready to harvest.

My nasturtiums are doing very well this year.

So is the cilantro.

Other things are thriving around here, too.

Plenty of deer pass through to drink from our stream.

Our stream happens to be home to these guys, as well.  That’s about a 4 inch long crayfish that was swimming around out there this evening.

Dragonflies are likewise in abundance.

Unfortunately, with the cool critters some the not so cool.

This guy was hanging out on the back deck.  Until I shot him full of this:

And he wasn’t even one of those big ones.

Now if I could only locate those two huge frogs that are hiding out in my garage before they die in there.

It’s Wild Kingdom around here for goodness sake.

Still Playin’ Around

I’m still having fun with my camera.  I haven’t discovered half of what it can do yet, but I can’t help taking pictures of everything around me.  Which means there’s about a milli0n pictures of the cats, the kids, etc.

Like this one of Sushi, who has recently taken up sleeping on Neve and nibbling on her nose, fingers and toes all night long.  This makes Neve very grumpy and she has decided that Sushi must be dreaming about eating sausages all night.

There’s many more of Jasper cat because he loves all the attention and enjoys posing for pictures.

Oona begs to have her picture taken and it’s hard to get one of her acting naturally rather than making funny faces or contorting into some weird position that she thinks is hilarious.

Most of the picture – taking has been happening inside because it’s only 10 bajillion degrees outside and the humidity is so bad it’s like walking into a sauna.  Maddie and I got fed up waiting for the excavation of the pool site to be completed so we headed out with gloves and shovels to get the ball rolling ……

but it was just way too hot and we were miserable.  I think we lasted maybe 20 minutes and got next to nothing accomplished other than drenching ourselves in sweat.  Where can we find some good, reliable, cheap labor around here??????

So, we still have no pool.  And because of this, and despite the heat, I keep telling myself that summer hasn’t really started yet.  We’ve had no days of swimming and nights of s’more roasting, no firefly catching, no picnics out on the deck, nada.  Hopefully we’ll get there before August.  Maddie goes back to school on the 9th and she’ll be really upset if the pool isn’t done by then.

I’ve been working on some frou-frou chiffon petticoat skirts for the girls, and let me just say…it has to be the worst sewing project in the world.  I detest it.  Yet I seem to be getting better at it at least as it drags on.  Pictures to follow soon.

I have done no knitting, despite wanting to very much.


I did make an acquisition relating to all things wonderful and fiber – related.  I’ve gained part custody of this:

My friend Kim’s loom!!!!  She’ s had it hanging around for years, but lately it’s just been gathering dust.  So for now I get to try my hand at weaving until she is ready to get back to working on it.  Not that I really need anymore projects, but how could I resist??????

It’s Goat Balls

Clearly I can’t just have one post about balls this week. 

This evening while on the phone with my brother I was walking around petting the goats and stumbled upon…something.  I picked it up and my suspicions were confirmed.  Dessicated goat testicles.  One of my boys has apparently come all the way through the castration process.  And to show just how evil I am, I immediately had the idea to place it in my husband’s hand.

Now, just to show how evil he is (or that we are collectively) he recovered quickly enough from his revulsion to form an idea AND catch it on video. 

Here, my friends, is the meanest video ever made and posted on the internet (okay, maybe not…)  and as awful as you all no doubt will think we are, somewhere out there I just know that my uncle Jamie, at the very least, is laughing out loud right now.

Bacon – Wrapped Dates of Deliciousness

The other night at book club my friend Diana made these.  They were devoured in 2.4 seconds.  Okay, I exaggerate.  But not by much!  She explained how easy they were to make and I had to try it myself.  All you need are dried, pitted dates and bacon.  Wrap the dates with the bacon, stick them in the oven at 350 and bake for 30 – 40 minutes depending on desired amount of bacon crispness.

It’s the perfect balance of salty and sweet.  Plus, it’s bacon.  Paul agreed we could probably wrap his shoe in bacon and it would be delicious.

Emily left today for a camping trip with the Girl Scouts.  She’s going to have a blast, and I am thinking about teaching Neve how to crochet while she’s gone.  I’ll have to find Oona a fun project as well.  Maybe she can learn how to do laundry.

Little Green Balls!

Finally, more than two months after sowing the little seeds indoors, one of my tomato plants has finally sprouted some little green balls!

Looks like they’ll be ready around the same time as the basil I planted out front.  Tomato-Bail pesto, here we come!!!!

Mostly the gardens out front are in serious need of weeding, re-planting and re-organizing.  I’ve been working on it as the weather allows, but it’s either been dangerous – stormy (tornado watches already!) or killer hot and humid.  The kind of killer hot and humid  that makes me want to commit complete and total herbicide and forget the whole blasted thing.  And people wonder why central air is so important to me.

The bee balm is growing in nicely, though.

Anyway, back to the pesto.  It’s my favorite summer food.  I put it on everything I can.  Including the muffuletta I made last night.

With homemade boule.

Stuffed with ham, salami, provolone and marinated artichoke hearts.  So yummy.

Even Mabel seemed to know something yummy was going on in the kitchen.

I really think she wants to be a house chicken.  She likes to hop the gate and hang out on the back porch.  It drives Pippa nuts.

But it gives Emily an opportunity for chicken snuggles.

Personally, I prefer furrier creatures for snuggling.