Pretending (and a Recipe!)

It’s mid-October, according to the calendar. According to the weather, however…

It’s difficult to really get into feeling like it’s fall when it’s impossibly warm and muggy out, but the girls and I are doing our best.

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The persimmons are back, but I doubt we’ll get any before the squirrels take them all. I’ve also read that you’re supposed to leave them on the tree until after a good frost, but the idea of that right now is laughable.

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I’m hoping that it won’t still be crazy humid for Halloween. The older girls are old enough now to take Oona out trick-or-treating, and Jess and I plan to sit on the porch and hand out candy.  It’s be nice to not feel drenched in sweat the entire time!

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We also capped off a summer of very little egg-laying with an autumn of zero egg-laying. As tends to be the case, the last batch of straight-run chicks we got turned out to be all roosters. I let them free-range, because honestly? They’ll at least try to be protective, and I could stand to lose a few.

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Indoors, there’s been plenty of fall cooking and baking going on. Soups, stews, roasts, cakes, and cookies.

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I used my favorite cookie cutter to make Raven cookies – just regular butter cookies with black vanilla frosting and black sugar.I got mine a few years ago at King Arthur Flour, but it looks like you can still get them – or a reasonable facsimile –  on Amazon.

Sadly, I only got this one picture, and the next morning discovered that Pippa had gotten onto the counter, knocked the tupperware off and helped herself to every last one. Because of course.

The other thing we are addicted to is Susan’s Autumn Equinox Cake.

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It’s autumn in cake form!  The recipe was originally posted on the Juniper Moon Farm website, but as that is currently down, I’m re-posting it here:

Autumn Equinox Cake

Ingredients:

1 gallon apple cider

1 Cinnamon Stick

2 or 3 cloves

(Or if you buy Boiled Cider from King Arthur, you can skip these and skip the first step).

1/4 cup cinnamon sugar

1 box spice cake mix OR yellow cake mix plus 1/8 cup pumpkin pie spice

1 15 oz can pumpkin

4 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

1/3 cup greek yogurt

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Pour the entire gallon of apple cider into a large pot and add the cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer for the next hour or so. When the gallon of cider has reduced to about 2 cups, it’s done. The reduction will be syrupy, though it’ll be hard to tell until it’s cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan and “flour” it with the cinnamon sugar.

In a bowl or stand mixer, combine all of the remaining ingredients plus 1/4 of the boiled cider you just made. Mix slowly until combined, then turn to medium high for a minute or so.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake abut 50 minutes, or until done. (I start testing for doneness around 35 minutes – every oven is different!).

Remove from oven and place pan on cooling rack. Carefully pour another 1/4 cup boiled cider over the cake while it’s still hot. Wait 30 minutes for the cake to cool, and then very carefully remove it from the pan. Now pour another 1/4 cup cider over the top.

Serve with whipped cream!

 

 

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I’m Still Here!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since July!

It’s been a challenging year. I was disappointed our mating season was a failure and we had no lambs, but insult was added to injury when I lost my beautiful ewe, Perivale, to a snake bite. Having sheep and goats is kind of a crazy thing to do, because once you finally work out that perfect formula of good grass, good parasite control, and a nice, healthy weight, you lose them to snakes. Or sheer stupidity (our goat, Basil, tragically got himself wedged under a large woodpile and his injuries and dehydration were too much to overcome).

The garden this year was also not the best I’ve had, but I did manage to get a decent amount of tomatoes and basil, along with volunteer pumpkins that grew in spots where the pigs had “deposited”seeds after eating pumpkins last year. The asparagus is looking great as well, and I can actually start harvesting it a bit next spring.

Sabine is officially retired as a guard dog. She was spooked by the fireworks on July 4 and ended up 3 miles away. I brought her inside  to recover from her adventure and she decided she was done with the great outdoors. Considering she’s 11, with the beginnings of arthritis in her hips, I decided she deserved a life of spoiling and luxury from here  on out. It does mean that currently I have no guardian for the flock, however, and I’m going to have to get that taken care of at some point, especially if I decide to breed and have lambs around. Given the choice, I’d get another llama. An Akbash would be nice, too!

However, now that fall is upon us, things are looking up. Neve is studying cosmetology at the local vocational school in addition to her regular studies. Emily is enrolled at the community college. And with that, I feel way older than I’d like! I’ve also been spending a crazy amount of time in the car, driving them to their various classes and appointments. Emily is working on her license, and that will be a relief.

Everyone has been knitting the last few weeks. I’ve finished a project that will be a Christmas gift and am mostly done with a second. The girls are working on scarves. I’ve made pesto ravioli and next week I’ll make pumpkin ravioli. Hopefully I’ll be better about making time for this space again from here on out; I’ve missed the writing!

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Happy 4th!

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It’s a pretty relaxed day of lounging around, swimming, and petting sheep today. I’ve spent some time watching the hummingbird moths all over the butterfly bush by the pool. They move so fast they’re hard to catch an image of!

Later we’ll head out to spend the evening with friends grilling food and playing games. The recipe for the flag cobbler can be found HERE.

Have a great holiday, everyone!

June Already?

Has everyone else been crazy busy and absolutely astounded that it’s already June, or is that just me?

Every ounce of energy has been spent on schoolwork, carting kids to various appointments, gardening, and work.

I DID manage to finish my Chimney Fire Sweater, though! I haven’t taken any pictures yet because it’s a thousand degrees outside, but soon!  That’s the upside to having my kids going to lots of different meetings: lots of knitting time for me!

The garden has been incredibly frustrating and slow, but it’s coming along. I lost a lot of the pepper and tomatoes I started by moving them out too soon. There’s still plenty there, though, and keeping up with the weeds is of course a daily struggle. The worst part is the ticks. Every day I’m pulling about a dozen off of me. And trust me, I’ve tried everything. 

I’ve used every essential oil and bug spray on the market, including the crazy mostly-DEET kind, to no avail. I even went out in the garden in my damn BEE SUIT and still pulled a couple off my back and neck that night. They freaking love me. The harvest this year better be worth it!

I put up deer netting after learning from last year’s total tomato loss, and I’ve got plenty of diatomaceous earth and Neem oil. Once the plants get big enough to withstand them I’ll probably try and keep the ducks in there, at least part-time, to help with the bugs and weeds.

The honeybees are doing very well. I’ve added another box to the hive, since they have mostly filled the two they have already.

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Go bees!

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They seem to be happy here. We definitely have plenty of wildflowers, and I just confirmed that we have several wild American Elderberry trees! They’re all in flower right now, and I’m crazy excited to have them.

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What post would be complete without cats? Widget and Poppet are such fat and happy things.

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And then there’s Pippa, who’s starting to show her age, but certainly not acting it.

S|NO|wpocalypse ’17

We were so hoping for a snow day. They’d been calling for a foot or so for us, and everyone was out in force yesterday clearing the stores of eggs, milk, and bread (not to mention the liquor store).  I had no appointments or places to be the next couple days, and was prepared to give the kids a day off from school to play in the snow and enjoy our one and only day of winter.

We got 4 more Pekin ducklings a few days ago, and I  beefed up their bedding and made sure they were good and cozy and the heat lamp wouldn’t be affected by ice or snow.  We have gallons and gallons of kerosene in reserve for the heater, just in case. In short, we should’ve known.

This was our glorious snow storm:

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SO DISAPPOINTING.

It looks like winter has passed us by this year, and we may as well keep on our path to spring.

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So what do you do when you’ve lost out on your much-needed snowday?

First I put together dough for cinnamon bread and made a good strong cup of coffee.

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Then I worked on cutting some pieces for quilting.

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Of course, Widget wasn’t going to allow that to last without some “help”.

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I can’t resist him. I’ve put away the quilting supplies and moved on to transferring some of my seedlings out of the starter kit that Widget keeps sitting on and trying to eat the sprouts out of.

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It was a decidedly NOT snowday thing to do.  It did, however, make me happier about the impending spring and summer weather. I can’t wait for those  juicy tomatoes, fresh off the vine (if I can keep the deer out this year!).

I did make the kids do their schoolwork today, as well. They didn’t mind, since there was no snow outside to frolic in. Plus they were all gathered around the table once the cinnamon bread came out of the oven.

I’ll be making a giant batch of Bolognese sauce and knitting more hats the rest of the day while I resign myself that winter is pretty well done.

Someone better tell my hens it’s time to start laying some eggs!

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Still Waiting

Waiting for winter, waiting for spring, waiting to see if my ewes are bred. If they are, they’re not telling.  If they aren’t, they are getting pretty fat anyway.

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I’ve been organizing my lambing supplies and ordering what I need, just in case. I’ve also been trying not to bother them too much, though that isn’t as easy.  I want to keep my hands on them to make sure they’re gaining enough weight, and checking their mucous membranes for signs of anemia. So far, everything seems okay, but one thing I’ve learned is to never count on it staying that way!

Last year’s baby chicks are finally starting to lay and/or crow, and I’m dreaming of ducklings now. I won’t order any chicks, but if one of our hens decides to go broody, I’ll put together a little maternity ward and hatch some eggs that way.

Signs of spring are definitely everywhere. The buds are really popping on the trees, and daffodils and forsythia are blooming everywhere. Mine are a little bit behind, owing to our little micro-climate in our hollow. It’s tough not to be out every day prepping the garden beds and getting the seeds started, but it’s only February.  Winter has been known to come back and smack us hard in March, so I’m not counting on this warmer weather to last reliably.  I have been out covering over troublesome weed areas with cardboard and feed bags, though. The war against weeds knows no winter!

I’ve also been cleaning up my beehive components and getting them ready for new occupants.  For Valentine’s Day Paul ordered me a new colony set to arrive in April from a local source. It’ll be so good to have bees again! I’m debating moving them a bit closer to the house and away from the neighbor who sprayed bifenthrin all over their property the summer before my previous colony failed. They haven’t done so since, and I’m hoping they won’t again.

On cooler days I’ve been trying to catch up on making stock from the leftover chicken carcasses from dinners. I’ve been keeping them frozen until I had a chance to let them slow cook, and whenever I can, I put them on the stove in my giant  pot and make up gallons of stock. It’s one of the most satisfying things to make in your kitchen!

Despite the warmer temperatures, Pussy Hats have been flying off my needles. I’m on my fourth at the moment, and keep getting requests for more. I’m more than happy to oblige, though I realize I could have finished my Chimney Fire sweater a few times over by now!  It is gratifying though to have smaller projects that work up quickly and are portable enough to bring to appointments during the week.

Maybe my sweater will be done before winter is, but it’s not looking like it. Secretly (or not…), I AM still hoping for one good wallop of snow before spring.

Fingers crossed.