Saturday, January 31, 2009
Gosh, we haven't gotten a blog award before, what fun! Thanks Karen for the honor! And don't worry, I think we have just the "spot" for you.
Ok, so now I'm supposed to list 6 Things That Make Me Happy...
1. Beautiful sunrises with the new morning sun filtering through the hedgerow. Doesn't matter the time of year, this view always starts my day with a smile.
2. Long, straight rows of beautiful, healthy vegetables.
3. Sharing our lives (and our produce) with people who are interested and/or excited about them.
4. Amazing friends (with their beautiful hand-made gifts) who support, cajol and more importantly, laugh with me whenever I need it.
5. Most importantly, my family. Especially Sean who's willingness to give up exciting lives in the big-city-theatre-world was a good idea. And all the rest of our family who's support and willingness to jump in and help has made our lives here on the farm possible.
6. And finally, crystal clear nights with the moonlight so bright that it seems like day.
So now I'm supposed to tag other blogs that make me happy...oh the choices!
Adventures in Wonderland, because Maggie is a wonder-woman who always has such great things to say about life in general
Miss Effie's Diary because Cathy is one crazy, creative woman who knows her own mind
My Total Perspective Vortex because they are true life adventurers and their daughter has names for all the fairies and brownies living in their new house.
The Beginning Farmer another new farming family that approach life's challenges with thoughtful reflection.
High Hopes Gardens Blog a creative farming family with a sense of humor and great photos
I would have tagged Is this Heaven? No its Iowa! but Karen beat me to it. You are one popular blogger Claire!
Friday, January 30, 2009
It has to do with Facebook, of all the bizarre things in the world. I truly had no understanding what these "social networking" things was all about. I only knew that Obama used them to great advantage in his campaign and that high school and college students seemed to spend way too much time on them.
Then earlier this week my mom asked, "Have you seen your sister's Facebook page?"
No, I didn't even know she had one. So being ever-curious, I hopped online and looked her up. Well, duh...before you can look at a Facebook page, you have to not only join, but actually set up your own page. Fine! I don't tend to be a signer-up kind of person, but for some weird reason, I followed it through to the end and ...holy cow! There's a whole universe out there!
In the succeeding days since, I have amassed a whopping 50+ "Friends" (including my sister) and I have been spending an alarming amount of time in front of the computer, just checking in with people, some of whom I haven't seen in 20 years! Besides the somewhat humiliating part of the experience when you have to contact someone and "ask them to be your friend" which reminds me a little too much of junior high, its been great fun and at the same time, it is absolutely mad! Who thinks up this stuff?
If nothing else, its been a lot of fun just touching base with a bunch of people that I used to spend time with, from all across the country. And I now have some understanding of why certain age groups find this such an interesting pastime. Evidently, I fall into at least one of those age groups. Who would have guessed? I should have titled this post, "Facebook Ate My Brain!"
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
- Bread - that this house may never know hunger.
- Salt - that life may always have flavor.
- Wine - that joy and prosperity may reign forever.
The fourth and final loaf of the first batch of dough was baked in my cast iron dutch oven instead of on the baking tiles. I like this method because I don't have to mess with the pan of water for stream. The crust was perfect, crisp and chewy, but the texture inside was still pretty dense. I think I'm having a problem with the dough needing to rise a little more, which is a challenge in our rather chilly house.
Before I even baked the final loaf, I started a new batch of dough. This one I replaced one cup of the white flour with some King Arthur wheat flour. We'll see how the new twist affects the loaf. I think I'll make an effort to give it a warm place to let it rise a bit more.
Not long ago I was tooling along when I noticed a large herd of dark brown cattle grazing in a pasture. Something seemed strange, but it took me a minute to realize that they weren't cattle, but bison! Holy cow (ahem), a huge herd of bison...right there beside the road. Luckily no one was behind me, because I came to a complete stop. It was hard to comprehend so many of these animals, there were hundreds of them, bulls, cows and calves...all just grazing in the cool morning air, just as they must have hundreds of years ago.
The photo quality isn't very good, and doesn't really represent the massive size of the individual animals or the scope of the herd as a whole, but they do show that yes indeed, here on the rolling prairie there are still remnants of what one might have seen so long ago.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
It wasn't beautiful and the texture was pretty heavy, very fine grained with few large air pockets. I fussed around for a while and finally figured out that my over was running 25° low. Grrr...that would explain the funky rise and weird texture. But, needless to say we ate it anyway, I mean, its bread!
Hmmm, a definite improvement, though not too sure what caused the little blowout on the bottom. The texture is much better and with the extra day, the flavor is developing as well. Sean thinks it a little "yeasty." But I wouldn't mind a little more flavor still. Will see what the next loaf brings...
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Mom's humongo slippers before felting
Mom's Fuzzy Feet after felting
Sister's Fuzzy Feet
Then the next challenge was to make hackles for my fiber friends. A hackle is a ferocious-looking tool used for blending fiber before spinning. It has been replaced by the more popular and much more expensive drum carder for most people. But we are not most people and I wanted a low tech, low cost tool that we could add to our fiber adventure days.
I didn't take picture of the process, but I started with a rough board of walnut harvested from our farm. My 93 year-old great uncle was kind enough to plane it down for me, which was lucky, otherwise I'd still be trying to sand it smooth. Then using pictures of various hackles I found on the web, I planned my design and went to work. Each of the hackles has 69 metal spikes, made from finished nails that I sharpened on a bench grinder. Finally after much drilling, pounding and glueing, the hackles are finished and have been gifted to their new owners.
Here's a picture of the mine, all ready to be put into service..
Generous and ambitious friend Terri has already tried her's out...here's her picture of her loaded hackle with the fiber being pulled through a diz into roving.Can't wait to see how it spins up!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
However, I want to take salad to the Prairie Spinners party on Friday night, but temps like this call for special harvesting techniques. Basically it means taking a cooler out to the HT, letting it warm up to the inside temperature and then harvesting directly into the cooler. Before leaving the HT, I sealed the top and bustled back to the house. Without some serious insulating, the salad would have frozen by the time I got back inside. Its kind of a goofy process, but it means we will have green salad with swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, beet greens, baby beets, carrots and violas for Friday. For fresh greens at this time of year, I will do just about anything.
Salad 'a la Coleman Cooler'
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Tonight was particularly spectacular, the night was cold and crystal clear, and the moon shadows were stark against a fresh blanket of snow. The moon was encircled by an enormous halo caused by the refraction of ice crystals high in the sky. It was quite a sight.
Photo courtesy of http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/cosmic_kids/AskKids/moonring.shtml
Blue and I took the opportunity to do a little sledding by moonlight. And as it should be, the sledding was followed by a steaming cup of hot cocoa for me and a "cookie" for Blue.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Dear Ms. Jill,
Thank you so much for letting is stay at your farm last summer! We know it's cold and icy in Iowa, and we hope this blanket will make you have warm thoughts. It should also warm your toes. We made it long enough for Mr. Sean too! It was made with violin music over it! Have a warm winter!
Wishing you a warm winter,
and Donna ____
Mission acomplished girls...I am warmed from my heart down to my toes! Many, many thanks from frozen (but cozy) Iowa!