31 December 2009

Mele Kalikimaka and Pass the Porter

We had heard about its existence; we had tried other varieties, but not until Pipeline Porter crossed our lips did we believe we had found our winter beverage!
The Kona Brewing Company has made some tasty concoctions including, Longboard Island Lager and Fire Rock Pale Ale but I tell you what (as gramps would say) Pipeline Porter is the new Kahuna! Pipeline is brewed with Kona coffee. What a lovely combination.

Most winter beer varieties packaged by brew houses for the fall and winter seasons have a tendency toward the bitter; not a personal favorite twist to our yeasted beverage. So enter Pipeline somewhere in October at a charming cabin aside the Methow River in Winthrop with Lanny and Dirt, and that ‘Newest Branch of the Family’.

Now, skip ahead several weeks to the Tap House Grill in downtown Seattle where five siblings eat out every Christmas season, enjoying the big city and each other’s company and picking up those little extras you can only find downtown. With 160 beers on tap this is no place to order a Coors Light! However, as common as it could have been interpreted, one of the brothers orders Pipeline on tap. Who’d a thunk delicious could have become more delicious!

Our hand was forced! A keg for the Feast of St. Stephen! Talk about your pairings: primerib smoked and barbequed, aside Pipeline Porter (was there anything else on the table? would it have mattered if there were?), beef and beer. Notice the similarity in the two words. Mmm.

Now don’t misunderstand, we’re a principled group!
Yes, keg.
But for lots of people. I’d hate to have any teetotalers out there thinking of us as drunkards. That we are not. We simply agree with the wisdom of our ancients and forefathers on the blessing of beer!

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. -Benjamin Franklin

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer. -Abraham Lincoln

We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old. -Martin Luther

The roots and herbs beaten and put into new ale or beer and daily drunk, cleareth, strengthen and quicken the sight of the eyes. -Nicholas Culpeper

He was a wise man who invented beer. -Plato

14 December 2009

St. Lucia Day

In Sweden, Christmastime begins on Dec ,13. This is St Lucia Day.

St. Lucia was a brave young woman who was martyred about 304A.D.
In those days, most people hated Christians, so they had to live in dark tunnels. St Lucia brought food to them every single night. She wore candles on her head to light her path. On St Lucia Day, Swedes celebrate the Festival of Light. Long before sunrise , the oldest girl in the family dresses all in white. She puts an evergreen wreath with seven lighted candles on her head. She carries coffee and buns to her family in their rooms.

God Jul (happy Christmas)to you!

When a Northern Front Comes In.

So it’s already been mentioned that weather from the north means electric blankets for the cows, coffee for the hens, hot tubs for the ducks. We girls, however, donned the skates.

Heavy rain followed by weeks of freezing weather makes the best conditions on the pond.

With the exception of a few characteristically placed
branches around the edge that protruded from the
depths of the mud up through the ice
(look out!)
from some windstorms that brought in the front, the pond’s surface was outstanding for the blades.

We visited also, the pond at Vicktory Farm & Gardens. Their pond has the surface of a small lake. And certainly, the more the merrier!

Typical of the green and mild PNW, snow often comes on a warming trend. Yesterday we would skate our last as the snow fell and projections of rain, cloud the forecast. How beautiful and what a blessing to live a little ‘Currier and Ives’ on occasion.
After skating, our family, spread between four homes along the street, packaged St. Lucia buns, and delivered them throughout the neighborhood with caroling and greetings of the season. We do this every year on December 13, the day of Saint Lucia.

The snowfall enhanced the pleasure we took in an already anticipated family event with the addition of several well placed (no black eyes, only some initial stinging) snowballs and made the hot coffee and tiramisu around the wood stove at Pop and Patty MorMor’s that much richer.

I guess our life here on 42nd Avenue really is Currier and Ives!

That is a blessing indeed.

04 December 2009

Soon the Winter

The nights are down into the twenties with the daytime just reaching the low forties. A scosh of snow predicted for Saturday. If any perennials were holding on to their fronds and flowers, our week of frost has sent them into complete dormancy. Only the winter garden remains.
Water trough ice to break, lamp to the coop, blanket over pullet enclosure, hay to the paddock, and extra feed for everybody.

01 December 2009

An Advent Lesson- Day 3

God, when He created man, did not sit on His heavenly throne inventing a bunch of rules for his human creatures to follow, or not follow, therefore in continual consternation of ruin.
Enter Dear Messiah.

O come, o come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.

What a guttural, echoing cry.

There are more than 600 Mosaic laws, rules if you will. Ugh. I’d ‘av been kicked out after my first Passover and sent outside the city gates; no doubt a corner of my kitchen that didn’t get purged! There is no possible way I could remember feast laws much less all 600 hedge laws!

Christ came to fulfill the law. Redeemed.

Matthew 22 :34-39 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Here Jesus is giving two commandments. Phew! Just two. But these two precepts cover oh, so much ground.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

These words of Paul’s fall under the words of Christ perfectly. They help to fine tune the details of the day-to-day.

If Mike leads his family under these words of Jesus, it navigates the narrow path we are to follow. We don’t have a bunch of rules hanging on the refrigerator door. Big misunderstanding people have of us. The further we walk the narrow road, the narrower it becomes. Less recognizable to us walking it but glaringly so to those still hauling the ‘wide load’ sign.
Funny how we never recognize our mire for what it is until the Holy Ghost gently removes the scales from our eyes (I speak for myself). When Christ calls you from out of your mire, however nicely you have it arranged, or painted, or dressed, or washed, or decorated, transformation is inevitable but inexpressible to anyone who has yet to meet freedom in compliance to Christ. Mike led his family out of a mire probably twelve years ago. And it gets easier. But it doesn’t get any easier. The stakes change. The ante goes up.

Ransom paid! Captive no longer!

Mike doesn’t make up a bunch of rules that his family can’t or won’t follow. He leads us with Paul’s words in mind-what ever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report- anything that falls under this benchmark is welcomed to his family, to meditate on these things. Our family follows these excellent, inspired principles under Christ's commandments. We girls do as we learn, receive, hear and see the Big Daddy do; one as a wife, the other two as daughters. Wow! That’s a bundle of responsibility! Thank you, Mike for your obedience. That calling is immense and not for the faint of heart though, truly, few men take it. Bless, Father, the broad shoulders upon which, dared to brave Your calling for our family.

20 November 2009

Pops Favorite Dessert

Cherry pie is one of Pops favorite desserts and I made one for Friday night gathering of the body of Christ. I saved a slice for him and boy, was he pleased. Well now you can enjoy this little slice of heaven by following this recipe. Serve it to your family and friends. It will just melt in their mouths.

Oven 450

Cherry Pie
1 cup sugar
¼ cup AP flour
½ cup juice from cherries
3 cups drained, canned, pitted, tart red cherries
1 Tbl soft butter
4 drops almond extract
Pastry for 9-inch lattice-top-pie

Combine sugar, flour, and ¼ tsp salt; stir in juice. Cook and and stir over medium heat till thick; cook one minute longer. Add cherries, butter, extract, and 10 drops food coloring. Let stand; make pastry. Line 9-inch pie plate with pastry; fill. Top with lattice crust. Flute edges. Bake in very hot oven (450) 10 min. reduce heat to 350 and bake about 45 min more.

18 November 2009

Chocolate Cream Pie

Photo taken by Zac Long
Hello again for the first time in a long time. Sorry I have not posted sooner. Well I’m back again and ready to share with you some of the latest pies I’ve made.

This pie I took to Mr. and Mrs. Long's home for a little bit of fellowship, a Sunday back, that included Dirt and Lanny and the girls too. The Long's have four kids. We played lots of games and laughed and had fun! Our families hadn't really seen each other since I was five! It was fun to be together.
For this pie, I garnished with whipped cream, a sprig of mint, and toasted almonds- yum! Note that the original recipe called for this pie to be topped with meringue but nuts and chocolate go so well together!

Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar
2- 1ounce squares chopped unsweetened chocolate
⅓ Cup all-purpose flour or 3 Tbl cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 Tbl butter
1tsp vanilla
1 9-inch baked pastry shell
In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour, and salt; gradually stir in milk and chocolate. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir a little into yolks; return to hot mixture; cook 2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla; cool to room temperature. ( To prevent a crust from forming, put clear plastic wrap or waxed paper on top touching the surface of the pudding clear to the sides of the bowl.) Pour into pastry shell. Top with meringue.

03 November 2009

Lemon Meringue Pie

This pie is one of my Daddy’s favorites! I experimented by adding ½ tsp. of vanilla to the meringue. Very good!
Set your oven at 350°.

1 ½ c. sugar
3 Tbl. cornstarch
3 Tbl. AP flour
Dash salt
1 ½ c. hot water
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
½ tsp. grated lemon peel
2 Tbl. butter
⅓ c. lemon juice
1-9 inch baked pastry shell

3 egg whites
1 tsp. lemon juice
6 Tbl. sugar

In saucepan, mix ½ cup sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. Gradually blend in water. Bring to a boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir 8 minutes more. Remove heat. Use the a bit of hot mixture to warm yolks before adding. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add lemon peel and butter. Gradually stir in ⅓ cup lemon juice. Cover entire surface with plastic wrap; cool 10 minutes. Now pour into cooled pastry shell. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour).
For meringue, beat egg whites with 1 tsp lemon juice till soft peaks form then gradually dissolve 6Tbl. sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Spread meringue over pie sealing to pastry edge. Bake till meringue is golden (12 -15 min.). Cool to serve.

29 October 2009

Last of the Summer Harvest

Sunday couldn’t have been lovelier.
Low clouds and chilly.
Perfect for action in the garden.

Align the eroded shape of the raised beds with spade and fork. Freshen the the paths and perimeters. To the compost with the browned sunflower stalks that trellised the cucumber vines and the remains of the summer squash. Harvest the red cabbage (for that touch of German in us) and clean up around the winter roots that are yet to feed us. Plant garlic, pull carrots, and pick spinach. A new crop of sweet pea buds are setting to bloom; a nosegay for Thanksgiving, possibly. Brussel sprouts are coming on. Slowly, slowly, the winter romaine leisurely continues to mature.
How satisfying it is to come in exhausted, to warm by the stove; extricate mud and moisture, rest and reflect and dine on the Last of the Summer Harvest.

28 October 2009

Chocolate Chiffon Pie

This recipe is from the 1965 Better Homes ‘New’ cookbook.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
2-1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
½ cup water
3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
3- beaten egg whites
1- 9 inch baked pie crust

Soften the gelatin in ¼ cup water. Combine chocolate and ½ cup water; stir over low heat until blended. Remove from heat; add gelatin, stir till dissolved. Beat egg yolks with ½ cup sugar till light; then add the chocolate, salt, and vanilla. Cool at room temperature. Gradually beat ½ cup sugar into egg whites; fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into cooled pastry shell. Chill till firm. Serve garnished with whipped cream and mint.

Cracker cookies

My auntie Laura introduced our family to this cookie and it’s delicious!

First, bring to a boil, ½ cup of butter and ½ cup of brown sugar with 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix it with a whisk. Put one cellophane sleeve of Waverly crackers on a cookie sheet. Drizzle the caramel mixture over the crackers. Take a spatula and spread the caramel all over the crackers and don’t miss a spot! Sprinkle almond slices all over.

Put them in the oven at 350 for about 12 min. We turned the pan after 8 minutes and left them in 4 minutes longer. Cool them on parchment or wax paper. I put this batch in the freezer.

The nice thing about these cookies is that they don’t have many ingredients and they didn’t take long to make.

17 October 2009

Mr. Webster...What Do You Say?

Mike “Bible studys” with an old guy, somewhere in his eighties. He is a good man; Christ-follower and minister of the gospel.
Last Tuesday, the morning ritual ended pondering the question of what sin really was. The above mentioned fellow found himself puzzled on the subject and remarked as he left the building, “I’m going to have to go home and see what Webster says about this.”

“Hmm”, says Mike to himself, “Webster?! Would n’t it be more appropriate to find what God says about sin?”

And then which publication do you use, asks wife (that's me)? The original '1828' is known to have the most Biblical references of any other edition. It is perhaps, better known that the latest modern volumes have little in common with the original text. Would /sin/ look the same for the godly Noah Webster as it does for the contemporary publishing house editor with a deadline to meet (and cocktails at five)?

And yet, Webster himself considered "education is useless without the Bible". Right! Thanks Mr. Webster for sending me back to God's Word.

22 September 2009

To The Fair!

The girls (mama is one of those girls, remember) will be in the Puyallup valley this week at state fair. The Fair marks our official rollover of seasons...When we return, Fall will commence.
Here we work the exhibit of heritage breed turkeys for one of our family’s farms. Five days of the public multitudes, little sleep and eating Fischer scones; shoveling manure, re-acquainting with familiar faces and deep fried indigestion. Did I mention the Washington Junior Poultry Expo-tition (as Pooh would say)? The daughters will be entwining turkey husbandry with that of the responsibilities of the state poultry barn and showing their own hens and ducks. Fhew (wipe brow) I’m tired already!

It’s no doubt a love-hate relationship; late September is an awfully busy time around here to disappear for five days but corn dogs and throngs of people are too, too hard to resist.

Here we go into the mission field ready to do God’s work for His Kingdom; Holy Ghost, teach us and make us able.
The girls get ready for fit and show by washing thier cochin hens.

Hello Old Friend

A longtime friend called the other day. We hadn’t talked for years. Her sweet voice was like a soothing, enlivening, balm to fatigued muscles. This week I’ve cried tears of joy upon hearing from her again and the more-than-exciting news she brings of her family. It is a precious thing to renew an acquaintance but when it’s God’s hand that re-establishes contact, how can human words describe the elation, or the song my heart sings, not for my own pleasure of her company but of God’s dear heart toward me and the weaving, interlacing He creates in His Body.

* * * * *

Now, the personification of a life yielded, she worships her Creator as her sole (soul, perhaps?)source of joy, salvation and healing. She has ministered to my heart and will share in my walk with Christ in a new and profound way.

Thanks for loving me, old friend, and showing me, that the mercies of Christ bring complete healing for those who ask and cede into His hand. Your jingle over the line was testimony of love and obedience.

18 September 2009

Pride Vs. Pleasure. Which Describes God?

Let’s do a word study.
Our vocabulary is so very limited- we, even the most educated of us, use words improperly or quite narrowly.

A friend dispatched a conversation she’d had with another friend on whether or not God was proud or if our being proud was EVER appropriate. She asked me my thoughts:

“Well,” says I to said friend over the phone, “I teach my children against pridefulness, but I do say ‘I’m proud of you’ because I am…so…I am proud of….er… well, isn’t God…but…I take pride in….hmm...... I guess not”.
This has been another Holy Spirit awakening through the use of His Body. If you dare to go Deeper, take a peek…

Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join forces, none will go unpunished. Prov. 16:5
He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. Luke 1:51
…he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions…
1 Timothy 6:4
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Prov. 3:34
I know your pride and the insolence of your heart…1Sam 17:28
A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor. Prov. 29:23
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 Jn 2:16

Out of 98 verses found in Strong’s Concordance, NOT ONE suggested that ‘proud’ or ‘pride’ are words that represent godliness. If God asks us for humility, any pride, at all, is a sinful weed in the humble heart and must be pluck out. The two CANNOT co-exist; they are the exact opposite.

Moving right along. Are you still with me? Scripture reading is not for the faint of heart, but Martin Luther got that ball rolling for us so let's not look a gift horse in the mouth. Shall we continue? Oh, no. After you....

I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. 1 Chron.29:17
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Ps. 103:21
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:10
…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself…
Eph 1:9

The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 1Kings 3:10
By this I know that You are well pleased with me, Because my enemy does not triumph over me.
Ps. 41:11
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mt.3:17
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Heb 13:16

So which describes God? Proud or Pleased
Do I take pride in my work or does my work give me pleasure because I am occupied by the things of God? Am I proud of my children or am I pleased with them. Proud American or pleased that I live in the greatest nation in the world- a pleasure God has given me. Words mean things. Pride or being proud is a word we think we deserve to use, an attitude we think shows a healthy self-confidence or illustrates how well we progress with societal evolution or technological advances but as Apostle Paul tells us “for when I am weak, then I am strong”.
All of this said, it is not I who says it, but the Scriptural evidence is clear(if you trust God's Word as just that) that God is NOT proud, therefore to be like Him and display His Character we mayn't partake of such behavior hence it would behoove us to remove it from our personal vocabulary as a word describing anything other than sinfulness.
Here at the homestead we're implementing 'pleased' for 'proud'. Change has already abound. No longer do we invite the godless spirit of haughtiness into our home. Can we invite you too, to bury 'proud' and live with the humble heart of 'pleased'.

26 August 2009

A Tomatoe Update

My tomatoes have been growing quite large lately and have been harvesting well. In my first post, as you may remember, I told you about planting tomato varieties Stupice, Chocolate Cherry, Korlick, and Super Marzano.
So far, the Stupice are about the size of a ping pong ball and are very sweet. Those were planted upside-down in a hanging pot at our pool patio.
The Korlick are savory and the size of a small cherry. I planted them on a small metal trellis out in the kitchen garden. Daddy loves Korlick as it is a addition to his lunch-box.
Chocolate Cherry is the typical size of a cherry tomatoe and one of the choicest tomatoes to eat by itself. It, along with Stupice, is very sweet.
Mama added Super Marzano in our beef stew one rainy day last week and they made a rich, thick broth. Yum.

12 August 2009

Tut Tut- Looks Like Rain

and my ducks love it! After weeks of hot, dry days, the rain came and made my water loving ducks happy. Mama found them this morning outside her bedroom slider in a rut that Pallo dug to sleep in. The rain filled the hole up with water and the ducks found it and swam and drank from it. It started as a bed and ended up a puddle. The sun is back out but I see dark clouds in the sky.

The ducks I have are Swedish Blues for they are a grey-blue-green. Their names are Flapppers, Quackers and Rolly. You know, Flap, Quack and Roll. Flappers however, is now a dead duck. She had a sickness and Mama checked her and tried to surgury her but we could not save her. Nothing goes to waste around here so we plucked her downy feathers and will make a pillow with her down.

07 August 2009

A Working Alliance

Everyone here has a job and that includes people and animals. A couple of cuties that live on our farm are our dogs.

The first dog to introduce is Pallo. He is our head dog and guards our house and home. Rodents stay clear of Pallo because he digs moles and rats out of their holes, plus rabbits out of their burrows.

When I was four, I asked my parents for a puppy. They told me that I could have a puppy on one condition: if I gave up my pacifiers. I agreed and went and threw them in the garbage. But the next night I went and got them out again. I struggled for several weeks but managed to gain my pup.

When I began forming words as a baby I called my pacifier, a pallo and that is just what Grandma Grace suggested for a name; a pallo for a Pallo.

You are probably wondering how I got him. Dad found an article for a stray puppy in the lost and found area in the weekly newspaper. Dad told them it wasn't our dog but if they couldn't find his rightful owners, we'd make him ours- and so we did! After about a week, we got in the 'burb and drove to the area the directions in the ad told to go to. When we got there the people were waiting for us. With them was the cutest pup imaginable. Pallo has a good home now.

Libby is our Vizsla/Lab hunter. The Vizsla is a Hungarian pointer and the Lab is a retriever. She too, has brought in many a mole, however, birds really catch her attention. Though she has become accustomed to the poultry around the place, whenever we bring home some new foul, she 'babysits' you might say, carefully guarding the barnyard addition. Unfortunately, Libby's instincts get her into trouble and she's had to wear her victim more than once. Libby has been in causual training for the field for two years, so we'd like to take her out hunting sometime. In the meantime, her job is bein' cute and companion to Abbey and I when we're out land trackking. Libby came to us with one of her litter mates . We named him Scooter. Scoot lives next door with my grandparents. He and Pop are good pals.

Here is Scooter Libby and Scooter and Libby. Not a lot of resemblance but integrity is high.

01 June 2009

The Guinness Girls Meet the Three Sisters- Twice.

Here are the girls in the garden finishing, or rather replanting, after a naughty bantam escaped to scratch it to ruin, the Three Sisters companion garden.

The Three Sisters was developed and used by the Wampanoag, though the Iroquois seem to have developed the legend of ‘Three Sisters’. It was the Wampanoag gardens that enabled the early settlers of Jamestown to survive and thrive in the New World. Squanto was a Wampanoag who taught the newcomers to plant maize in little hills and fertilize each mound with an alewife, a species of fish (we opted not to plant our seed with such a mesmerizing animal enticement). With this efficient and intensive gardening style, each family could sustain their needs on about one acre of land. Many of the tribes of the Northeast, including the Iroquois, used the Wampanoag garden design. Planted without plowing or tilling, the traditional Wampanoag garden includes corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers.The corn and beans are planted in mounds, with squash planted between the mounds.
First, the raised corn and bean mounds must be constructed. These small mounds are laid out in rows with 4 feet between the centers of the mounds. Each mound is about 4 inches high, with a wide base (about 18 inches in diameter) that narrows to a flattened top (about 10 inches across. Plant four corn seeds about 6 inches apart
and 3 inches deep in the top of each mound. Plant four beans seeds halfway down the slopes on the sides of each mound.

See the giant dryer sheet behind the girls? it's a row covering for up to 10◦ frost protection, allows the sun and water through, keeps out the birds and some air-borne dieseses. DeWitt is the name and can be aquired at


So we planted twice, clipped some wings, and hope there’s no need for a charm.

23 May 2009

You Can Never Tell with Bees....

...but the wrong sort of bees these were not. They swarmed in Gran’s orchard between the barns, a matter of feet really from the nesting box. So out comes sister Steph with the sugar water for the hive and I put up the ladder (for Steph of course, I was the Photographer). We found more of Gramp’s beekeeping gear in the barn and Sis donned it beautifully. And we said things like, "Tut-tut looks like rain", and "The important bee to deceive is the Queen Bee" and "I think the bees suspect something" and "You don't look like a little black rain cloud".

Up the ladder with dull pruners (the sharp ones were at my house, oops) she went and the cardboard box for transporting the swarm to the hive with her. Well, let me tell you that dull pruners are never a good choice and box-propped-on-lower-branches-to catch-swarm, even less, compounded by wobbly, old, wooden, orchard ladder…..snap!, ugh!, fwap, thump, BUZZZZZZZZZZZ…….Photographer ducks, beekeeper flies from branches to the ground!
Then we remember: swarming bees don’t sting or anyway, unlikely. It just so happens, that standing in the midst of bees amuck, feels a tad disconcerting. But we managed to rally.
When we discover: Success! The swarm, though perhaps a bit discombobulated, is in the box (or mostly so).

Around the side of the barn comes Pop from the garden. He encourages the victory and lends a hand to the finishing touches. The swarm is emptied into the hive and the loose bees gather themselves before settling down.

Some tried to escape but we know their secrets, their little ways and now we will make them our slaves to produce honey (sinister laugh)-our indentured servants to fly from blossom to bloom collecting pollen for our good- shhh, they don’t even know it!

19 May 2009

Kitchen Garden Tomatoes

This year's kitchen garden begins with four varieties of tomatoes. I planted Chocolate Cherry, Super Marzano, Korlick, and Stupice. We got the plants from Auntie Stephie.
My aunt, Stephie took over growing and selling tomato plants after Great Gramps died two summers ago. Like Gramps before, she supplies our tomato plants every year. I like to pick them fresh off the vine and sprinkle them with salt and eat them. My mama teases me that she will leave a shaker in the garden under a cloche for me.

Both Stupice and Korlick are early growing tomatoes with smallish fruit. Stupice is cold tolerant.
Super Marzano is a Roma type fruit growing 5in long. Rich in pectin it's great for sauces and pastes. It tastes so good. Best grown on trellises because it's a climber!
Chocolate Cherry is a new variety for us and we're looking forward to eating it.

14 May 2009

Oh, So Conventional....No, Really.

‘Everyone’s a critic’- so they say….whomever they are….they’re right.

It’s no Sunday picnic when you’re riding the weirdsmobile. Less fun if you’re driving it. When there’s no charted course for the unorthodox journey you embark upon, explanation to concerned bystanders is almost fruitless given that parts of said journey are yet to be writ.

How can you relieve the worries of a populace whose thinking has been so badly damaged by conventional wisdom (which isn’t very wisdom-y (note: I make up new words)) that we have abandoned the truly innate knowledge of the Creator. But for the learned scholar, an intellectual, a psychologist, or the university study recently published, we don’t dare depart from the road most traveled which incidentally is the same widely trodden path that the former mentioned authorities walk, so we can conclude their information is merely recycled twentieth century humanism -the religion of man.

Hey! Who said you could make decisions on your own? There are highly trained and paid experts to tell you what will improve your life. Don’t look to Granny- it’s a wonder her kids survived or that she endured her husband. Common sense was once actually common knowledge.

From the top- ‘parts of said journey are yet to be writ’- funny thing, what we do as a family has been documented triumphantly for generations too numerous to count, yet for the masses it is no more than risky business.

Part I- Some Simple Deductions
Our expedition begins in 1991 when my husband and I were first married and living in a two bedroom apartment with commercial grade, moss green, looped carpet. I was standing by the dresser, Mike near the closet. The subject: the educating of our not yet conceived offspring. Public or private school? No agreement. What next? No children.
Jump ahead nearly nine years and the same couple is now blessed with a child (heavenly chorus, please); a daughter born seven weeks too soon. But she turns out to be quite bright. None of the physical ills she was expected to developed plague her. Quite the reverse, she was gently leafing through the pages of books by twelve months and humming measures of recognizable tunes by fifteen. Wow! She hasn’t even been to play-group. The baby hangs out primarily with an intimate circle of family and dear friends. The parents realize the value in the development of her budding gray matter. Everyday is a day of discovery, research, scholarship and baby becomes pre-schooler.
three years down- and the looming black cloud of kindergarten haunts us when girl number two emerges to the stage.
Silly second born delightfully different! Not so much the academic achiever her predecessor but at nine months she knows a first-rate punch line and apperently understands the concept of playing dressup and what to do with a baby doll (she introduced these things to her decorous older sister). She is physically aware of her space and her body. She observes things our-now-three-year-old would never have seen. Baby seems equipped with a baloney-detector. Yah, she perceives drivel and I see her little eyebrow shift and sense her leeriness. A whole new style of learning, of understanding, of intelligence, and of needs. Ugh. And yet, Ahhh.
The parents have discovered just what could be accomplished at home and likewise what never need be. Parents have been arranging their childrens education for years. History encourages us that with common sense, generational experience, and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, our 'unconventional' road is rather the opposite.

Part II......hmm. The last scene took months to ponder. Stay tuned for the next installment.

13 May 2009

A Pasture Improvement- Miniature Herefords

The miniature Hereford is a lowline variety of the standard sized breed of the same name. Standards weigh from 900 to 2,000 pounds and stand 51 to 54 inches. But a miniature only weighs about 700 to 1,000 pounds. A bovine is classified miniature by frame measuring 38 to 43 inches from the hip. The mini Hereford was developed in the 1960’s in Texas.

Cattle are a herd of cows all together. Cattle are from the family bovidae which means cloven hooves and genus Bos meaning ruminant quadruped (cud chewing, four-legged animal). A female bovine is a cow; a male, a bull; a castrated male, a steer. A calf is a baby. A heifer is a young cow that has not yet calved. And that’s what we’ve added to our pasture.

Her name is Miss Mini Moo and she’s about two years old so she can be bred for calving next spring. She is our primary stock for a miniature herd.
Miniature Herefords are easy to take care of because: they have a docile/sweet temper, less pasture needed, make great pets, easier on fences (mama loves that), and they’re great reproducers. I love miniature Herefords because Number 1: they have good looks; Number 2, they are friendly and lovable.

12 May 2009

Found: Lost Dog

I’ve got two news. The bad news is that I lost Spot. The good news is that I found him again.

Spot is a spaniel. He is my friend. He was in my stocking years and years ago when I was three. I grew up with Spot. He’s been practically half way around the world! Canada and Idaho, shopping and the library.

In September [2008] I lost him at the Fair. We were there showing turkeys. We stayed in the trailer. We couldn’t find him. I felt very bad because he was a special friend. I prayed for him and put up a sign to have somebody help me find him. I cried hard. Then in the springtime [2009] my friend Bet found him in the trailer hiding behind the pillows. God answered my prayer to keep Spot safe. I didn't know I would have Spot again but while he was missing I learned to love God more than Spot. Cause you can’t love an animal or a thing more than God, because God made earth and everything and even the person who made Spot. And God knew before I was ever born that I would have a special friend.

My friend Spot has been through a lot of trouble.