Archive for the ‘Thankful’ Category

Still Alive

June 1, 2015

Wow, I’m totally embarrassed that it has been 6 months since I talked to you guys. Working nights is totally messing with my ability to get much else done besides basic chores! I haven’t touched the spinning wheel in months despite a couple of big projects that really need to get done. The only knitting is happening at work between calls, and very little of it.

The good news is that I still am working, and I am grateful for that. Office politics is a killer for me, as it is something that I totally don’t “get”. I don’t understand why any workplace would not only allow behaviors that are counter-productive but seem to encourage them. My mantra has become “Not my circus, not my monkeys”, and I have to tell myself that several times a shift. I enjoy the actual work, so that’s what keeps me going.

On the farm-front things are going well. I had quit milking when Mom had her knee replacement, there being only so many hours in a day, but Clara was still nursing, so after a 6-month hiatus I forcibly weaned her yearling sons. They were not impressed by my efforts, especially O’Dell. He nursed her through the fence when I moved her next door to the boys pen, and when I set her up further away he would break out and find her! He is now living on a tether in the boys pen, which is not ideal but will have to do for now. The first few weeks were slow going, averaging about 12-18 ounces a day (2 milkings a day). But even little bits add up, and by the end of April when I added up the totals she had given me almost 6 1/4 gallons. I just ran May’s numbers this morning, and the grand total was 12.43 gallons! She is now averaging 54-57 ounces a day, and I am very pleased with her progress.

All this milk means I have gone back to cheese making. I figured out the Clara was the source of the failures I had been having, so I have had to make some changes. For some reason her milk does not take well to being heated (I suspect a sub-clinical infection, since her boys were so rough on her udder. When I am ready to dry her off I will give her a course of antibiotics). So mozzarella and ricotta are out of the question, and I have moved on to an Iberico-type. It only has to be heated to 97 degrees. I got my mojo back making a Manchego with some sheep milk I bought from a friend. Still haven’t broken in to any of them, so the cheese cave (aka veggie drawer in the big fridge) is filling up. I chopped up some of the salt-preserved Meyer lemon I made last year and stirred it into one batch. Sure is pretty, don’t you think? Meyer lemon Iberico

At the beginning of May I also got a half-dozen turkey peeps. Four broad-breasted Bronze, and 2 Chocolates (a heritage breed that will be capable of reproducing if it turns out I have a pair). A month old now, it is amazing how much bigger the Bronzes are already. They are a precocious lot, intent on escaping the safety of the barn where I have been brooding them. Almost from the very beginning, I occasionally come out to one or more out with the sheep, who thankfully have been very gentle with them. I have been unable to convince them that the big, wide world isn’t a safe place for little turkeys, so I need to figure out where I am going to put them to grow out. I will mean building something for them, since all the pens are occupied at the moment. turkey peeps

All the duck hens are sitting on nests now, so if they all hatch out I will soon be up to my armpits in ducklings. One of the Muscovy girls was not happy with being in the pen and has made herself a nest in between the pole barn and the chicken coop, between some old windows. It is fairly safe, so I will wait for her ducklings to hatch before I move her back to the pen. She went broody about 2 weeks before the other Muscovies, so the move should be interesting. The crazy ducks all went broody at roughly the same time, so fingers crossed that I get ducklings from them. Breeding them to the Muscovy drake is an experiment. Being different species, any babies will be sterile mules (generally called Moulards); they should grow fast and are all destined for freezer-training. The hens seem dedicated to their nests, and I haven’t seem them rejecting any eggs (which they will often do with infertile eggs). I’m pretty sure that the hen that hatched out a brood last year had a few Moulards in the mix, since there were ducklings that didn’t hatch out that weren’t quite mature when their litter mates hatched (Moulards take a longer incubation period). I am cautiously optimistic at this point, but only time will tell. If it doesn’t work, I will have a lot of rotten eggs to add to the compost bin.

I have started a lot of seeds under lights in the kitchen, and a few things have been moved outside to the garden. The spinach that volunteered has been going gang-busters but is bolting now. I have been pulling stalks to feed to the beasties, but will let some go to seed again since that is so easy. We have had a cool, wet spring, so grass and weeds are growing and threatening to take over the place. I have taken to using the scythe a few minutes every time I go out to milk and feed. In under 5 minutes I can cut enough to give everyone a healthy addition to their diet, and I am slowly clearing the pasture. Lots of mustard, plus grass and dandelions. They prefer it fresh-cut, and since that is easier on my back I am happy to oblige. It isn’t the cutting that gets to me, since the scythe is very ergonomic, but the gathering and delivering of the goodies is work.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll get back here before the New Year. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say; it’s just having the energy when the words are flowing. Take care!

Living Frugally

January 20, 2014

fru·gal

: careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to : using money or supplies in a very careful way

: simple and plain

(according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

From a very young age, my mother called me frugal. I always hated the word as a child, equating it in my mind with being cheap. I am not cheap! It was only over time that I came to appreciate the label for what it truly is. And mom was right, I am frugal. I spend money on good things but I am not wasteful, and I am a simple, plain woman. I don’t use makeup (except on very special, rare occasions), I don’t fuss over haircuts or clothing, I can count how many pairs of shoes I own on one hand (to Daughter’s great despair). I save things for future use, I use things up, I re-purpose things. I always have, even as a child.

It wasn’t behavior that I was taught. My parents were well-to-do, and my dad spent money like there was no tomorrow. No one picked up a dinner tab if he was at the table (I almost had to come to blows with him when I wanted it to be my treat, even if he had agreed before dinner). I saved my allowance for special purchases, hidden between the pages of books in my room that my sister pilfered on a regular basis.

Being frugal is very helpful now.  While I am sometimes at a loss to figure out how the electric or phone bills will be paid when there is no money coming in, I am resourceful and they do get paid. The house is reasonably warm, and I eat well. The universe provides what I truly need, if not the things that I would like. I am grateful, happy even, living my frugal life.

Two things this week make my point very well. Kid the Younger, Fiancée and Roommate came over for the weekend last week. While it meant giving up going to my spinning group and seeing friends, those were easy sacrifices. I pulled a chicken out of the freezer and mom & I planned a feast. Main course covered, she did sides and I cruised the web for a new dessert to try out using what I had on hand. Came up with a Pineapple-Banana Cake which will definitely get more play around here! Pineapple from the pantry, eggs from the chickens, bananas from the freezer. It is not overly sweet, which I really like, and it lasts for days (not that it really had a chance to). The glaze is pineapple juice and powdered sugar. Mom and I discussed some possible modifications to the recipe to change it up a bit.

pineapple banana cake finished  Ready to roast

This is the chicken before it went in the oven (forgot to take an after picture, oops). Very simple roast chicken, salt & pepper, fresh rosemary from mom’s garden, a couple of leftover lemons in the cavity. We ate a lot of it that night, and I left several slices for mom. I made several meals off the meat over the next few days, and then the carcass was used to make soup which will feed me for several days also. The pantry supplied all the spices and goodies I need to make a filling soup: a can of chicken meat, one of tomatoes, potatoes from the Free Potato Day, carrots from the fridge, onions. Simple, plain fare, but filling and satisfying.

My other example isn’t pretty, at least to start with. I love my hand-knit socks, but I am not easy on them. I tend to wear just socks on my feet in the house during the cold months. I should use slippers to save wear and tear on them, but I don’t. Sadly, this is the result. Sock repair reason to fix I have worn huge holes into the feet of both socks. I don’t know how to darn holes (it’s on my list of things to figure out). Yet the legs and heels of the socks are fine, and I have the leftover yarn (there’s that frugal thing again). So I cut off the toes of both socks, picked up stitches, and am in the process of reknitting the toes. Faster than knitting the socks all over. I’ll have to weave in a couple of ends (no biggie), and my socks will be useful again. As an added bonus, it has freed my mind from the fear that has been keeping me from completing my vest which has stalled out over the idea of cutting the steek. Yay!

Sock repair ready to pick upSock repair stitches picked up

Up until today the weather has been lovely. Today, we are a foggy, cold mess. I am thankful that there is little need to be outside today, other than chores this afternoon. No lambs or kids yet, though bellies are swelling. I finally sealed up the hole that Myrtle was getting out through. Fencing is always a challenge with a thinking goat. She’s still looking for a new way to escape, silly girl.

November is Over?

November 30, 2013

Where does the time go? I have every intention of posting at least weekly, then I turn around and a month has gone by. It’s not that I don’t think about it. I compose wonderful blog posts in my head, as I’m driving or when I’m getting ready for bed, but somehow they just stay in my mind. Good intentions don’t count for much, do they? Oh well, it is what it is.

Not that there’s much to share with anyone these days. I’m still looking for work (I am so tired of hearing that I’m either over-qualified or don’t have the necessary skills for the jobs I apply for!).  Finances are becoming very challenging as a result, but I am working hard to stay positive that things will work out in the long run. It’s hard to do some days, but so far I am managing for the most part.

I did the “30 Days of Thankfulness” thing again this year. Especially when times are hard, I find that it is helpful to make myself recognize that I have a lot to be thankful for.  Some days have been a struggle, but I do know that I am very lucky in many, many ways.

  • Day 1 – I am thankful that my back is stronger than it was this time last year. I wish it was stronger, so I could get more things done, but I am thankful for the improvements that have happened.
  • Day 2 – I am thankful for all the “extra” kids in my life, and that they choose to include me as a spare mom even though we are not related by blood. I love them all!
  • Day 3 – I am thankful that I have the skills and ability to feed and clothe myself, and I am thankful that I live in a time and place where I can choose to let others do the necessary work.
  • Day 4 – I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, when so many do not. It may not be the house of my dreams, but it keeps me warm and dry.
  • Day 5 – I am thankful that I am an optimist by nature. Some days that trait comes in really helpful in my efforts to keep moving forward.
  • Day 6 – I am thankful for my Mom’s good health.
  • Day 7 – I am thankful for old treasures rediscovered as I worked in my bedroom, and the strength to let some stuff go.
  • Day 8 – I am thankful that I know that the depression lies.
  • Day 9 – I am thankful for my spinning group. I always come away from our meetings feeling inspired and appreciated, which is a really good combination.
  • Day 10 – I am thankful for my friends, both the ones that I see and talk to often, and the ones that I see rarely (or have never met in real life). I am blessed to have so many people who truly care about me!
  • Day 11 – I am thankful for my supportive sisters.
  • Day 12 – I am thankful for the animals that share my life and let me share theirs. They help me retain some semblance of sanity, and help to keep me fed and clothed.
  • Day 13 – I am thankful that, as dysfunctional as my family may be, we would never qualify to be on Dr. Phil.
  • Day 14 – I am thankful that I am able to string more than three words together at a time, usually with all the words correctly spelled and with proper punctuation. I recognize that these are not skills that all possess.
  • Day 15 – I am thankful that I am still young at heart (even if my body doesn’t always agree).
  • Day 16 – I am thankful for friends that can make me laugh, and good food shared with them.
  • Day 17 – I am thankful for snow up in the mountains (where it belongs), and sunshine while I do chores.
  • Day 18 – I am thankful for nights of peaceful slumber and sweet dreams.
  • Day 19 – I am thankful for rainbows, especially on dark, dreary days like this.
  • Day 20 – I am thankful for my children. They have brought me so much love and happiness, and have taught me so much. I am very proud of all 3 of them!
  • Day 21 – I am thankful for the sun on my back as I scythe cut grass to feed the sheep.
  • Day 22 – I am thankful for my ability to teach others to knit and spin. Love spreading the addiction!
  • Day 23 – I am thankful that Daughter’s friends have continued her traditional “Friends Thanksgiving”. I wish I could be there this year.
  • Day 24 – I am thankful for my wood stove, which warms the house so well on these cold days.
  • Day 25 – I am thankful for the apple trees I am growing from sprouted seeds found in an apple this summer. They make me smile at possibilities.
  • Day 26 – I am thankful that I am able to distract myself when things aren’t going well.
  • Day 27 – I am thankful that my pantry is still well enough stocked that I can have a normal Thanksgiving tomorrow. Pies are in the oven now.
  • Day 28 – I am thankful for the loved ones sharing Thanksgiving with me, and for those that aren’t.
  • Day 29 – I am thankful that I was able to totally avoid the idiot that didn’t even see my van when he pulled his car out from the stop sign. Damn my cloaking device, and thank goodness for good reflexes and working brakes!
  • Day 30 – I am thankful for the potential that the future holds. Fingers crossed that all the new changes are positive ones.

I also took part in NaNoWriMo again this year. I had a hard time getting going with the story that insisted it wanted to be written this year, and for most of the month I was way behind. But I managed to catch up last night, and finished this morning. I will admit that it is a pile of random words, not a cohesive story by any stretch of the imagination. I bounced from chapter to chapter, character to character, never really getting to the point at all. But since the point of NaNo is to get 50,000 words on the page, I can say I managed that. Not pretty words, though I do think I got some nice descriptions going from time to time. I don’t know if it appeals to me enough to go back in later and edit it. I do enjoy the exercise though, and think it’s something that everyone should try at least once. And I can proudly say that Kid the Elder blew it out of the water, writing over 100,000 words this month (his top 8 days alone added up to over 50K!).

Thanksgiving was nice, but quiet. It was me & Mom, Kid the Elder & his wife, and her dad & brother. We do it at Mom’s house, but we do most of the cooking. I did the turkey (home-grown, 21 pounder), stuffing, gravy, rolls and pies (peach and pumpkin). I decided on the rolls last second on Wednesday night and threw together a dough that sat out covered on the washer overnight. They were spectacular, light and fluffy, with just a hint of a sourdough flavor, which I think could only have gotten better if I’d had more time. For the pie crusts, I used Erica‘s suggestion to use a different alcohol in the traditional vodka pie crust. Why had this never occurred to me before?? I can’t use vodka in anything, since I am massively allergic to it (I know, I’m weird!) So, since I had bourbon on hand from the bourbon apple butter I made this summer, I used that. Wonderful! It wasn’t identifiable as bourbon, but it added a very subtle spicy note to the crust, and the crusts were very flaky. I’m thinking of possibilities now; tequila for a key lime pie maybe, or a spiced rum maybe for a pear pie. I didn’t get any pictures of the feast before we started, but none of us walked away from the table hungry. Mom did a chopped Brussels sprouts saute, Kid the Elder made mashed potatoes enhanced with my oven roasted garlic, and DIL’s dad brought his baked beans. I always cook at my house and transport things to Mom’s when they are done. She doesn’t care for the smell of roasting turkey (I come by my weird honestly), so when it’s done cooking I whip up the gravy and drive on over. Luckily, she lives just a few miles away, and even though I totally forgot the stuffing at home and had to call Kid the Elder to bring it over, the turkey was still warm when we finally ate an hour later than originally planned. It works for us. She isn’t stuck with all of the mess, and neither am I. Kid the Younger is working a new job and didn’t make it home for this holiday. In fact he had to work on Thanksgiving day. Am I the only one who hates the idea of Black Friday spreading in to Thursday? I doubt that I am, but I’m afraid that the big box stores really don’t care what we think, and they offer enough good deals that folks think they can’t afford to miss, that the idea of having one day dedicate to spending time with your family is a goner. I used to love getting up really early on Black Friday and having my shopping list all ready to go. But when they moved the start times back to midnight or earlier I gave up. I didn’t even look at the ads this year.

I’ll leave you with an old picture of Maggie. I lost her this week (listeriosis). She’s not the only one that’s gone. It’s been a rough month.Maggie close up

Over Fair

August 5, 2013

I enjoy going to and showing at our county fair. Most years I actually show at ours and the next county over, but this year money is a bit tighter and I confined myself to just my home county (I will go visit the other one). It it an enormous amount of work getting everything in and set up, but I am very passionate about sharing my animals and my crafts with the public. When we are not showing or taking care of the beasties, we are usually in the sheep barn spinning. I am usually one of the first people in the barn in the morning and almost always the last one out at night.

This year, my friend Correy brought in some brand new lambs, born the day before fair started. Her rams escaped 5 months ago and 2 of her ewes had babies as a result. They were absolutely adorable, and a crowd favorite for sure. I hadn’t used up all the pens assigned to me, so they were at the end of that row, close to where we were sitting. It was fun watching “Lamb TV” all week. My sheep did fine in the show (we had Romeldale classes finally), and I got plenty of spinning done. The cheese I wanted to enter didn’t happen, but there is always next year.

Unfortunately, my fair experience this week was marred on Saturday night by some heartless person. I had brought in a few of my hand-knit shawls to display in the barn. While I was talking to folks, someone helped themselves to my big red Neibling. I could not have missed the theft by more than 5 minutes. I am hoping that it was grabbed by a little kid and I will get it back as soon as the parents realize, but I know that this is not terribly likely. I filed a police report immediately and told them the value ($1,000. One cop said “That’s a lot of yarn”, to which I replied “No, that’s a lot of time and talent”). I have posted the picture on Facebook, Craigslist and Ravelry (I figure the more eyes looking the better). I am heart-sick, more over the fact that someone would take it than over the loss of the shawl. I can knit another one, and from my notes on Ravelry I even know about how long it will take.  Of the 3 shawls, it was the one I could most afford (emotionally) to lose. But it also is the shawl that I wear most often and that I have gotten the most compliments on. I will not let this experience ruin my trust in the basic good nature of most people, but I am not likely to bring my hand-knits back for display in public again, and that is sad because I love sharing what I do. So please, keep your eyes open, on the off-chance that it shows up in your neck of the woods and can be brought home where it belongs.Neibling

More Miracles

February 15, 2013

Navid is doing well. Conformation wise, he is a hot mess (leg issues), but I am hopeful that many of them are caused by his mother’s lack of movement during her pregnancy. I have seen some improvements during the last week, but even if I wasn’t going to wether him, he would never be a show stopper.

Last Sunday was scheduled for a spin-in at Correy’s house. She had texted me on Saturday, saying that the yearling Nubian/Nigerian doe had kidded, but the kid wasn’t viable. When walking the doe across one of her pens, her bottle lamb had nursed on the doe and the doe had seemed to accept it. Correy wanted the goat gone and offered her to me. I figured I had nothing to lose. Even if she wouldn’t accept Navid (or visa-versa, since he had never nursed on anything but the bottle), I could at least milk her and add that to his bottles. So Sunday, she came home with me. Meet Myrtle (she didn’t really have a name before coming here, and she strikes me as a “Myrtle”):

Myrtle

She got put in the barn with Ashe, and Maeve got released from barn duty. You would have thought that Maeve had been locked up for months instead of just a few days; she totally ignored the hay and proceeded to spend an hour or more bouncing around the pen. Even the lambs stopped their races to watch her. I started a routine of milking Myrtle twice a day. She hadn’t been hand milked before, so I wasn’t getting a ton out of her. The few times I tried putting Navid on her, he didn’t get the idea that there was anything good under there, and spent so much time fighting me that it was frustrating for all of us.

Then, late Thursday night, I quit thinking like a person, and started thinking like a lamb. I started feeding him his bottle under the goat. I placed the bottle between her back legs, so he was nursing on it right next to her udder. The 3rd time we did this, he slipped off the bottle briefly and found a teat. He didn’t suck long (nursing off a bottle is much easier than the real thing), but it was something. This morning, I helped him find the udder before I offered him the bottle. He chugged away on one side, then wanted the bottle (but only took about 3 ounces, instead of the 6-8 that he has been taking).

This afternoon, when I went out for his noon bottle, both Myrtle and Navid were out of the barn. I caught her, intending to put her back in. Instead, I tied her to the barn and showed him where to go again. This time he nursed on both sides, and when I let her loose he followed her. I sat on the edge of the tub and she came over to see me. I pushed him back towards her and he latched on and nursed a couple of more times. Success! Two hours later when I went out to check, they were laying next to each other in the sun, and he followed her over when she came to see if I had anything good. I provided a little direction again, and made sure he nursed.

Navid and Myrtle

When I went out to feed this evening, he somehow ended up next door in the boys pen, much to Puff (the alpaca)’s consternation. He started crying, since he couldn’t figure out how to get back, and she ran over, calling to him. While I sat in with Ashe letting her eat her grain and hay pellets, I saw him figure things out on his own. A bottle baby no more! This is huge; no more round the clock feedings. Of course, I just bought a new bag of milk replacer, but that will store until the next time I need it. Of course, with at least one cooperative goat, I hopefully will not need it (but it’s good to have on hand, in case).

And in more good news, Ashe is working on getting her feet back under herself. She got her rear end up briefly yesterday (trying to avoid her antibiotic shot). Keeping my fingers crossed for her too. Her new companion in the barn is Millie (one of last year’s lambs), who is not impressed with this whole idea. She is the least friendly of the ewe lambs last year, so the confinement will give me a chance to give her some special treats and see if the way to her heart is through her stomach.

All in all, a good couple of days! Pictures of weaving next time, I promise.

Truly Thankful

November 30, 2012

Last day of the month, and I have managed to find something to be thankful for every day this month. These are the last ones posted on Facebook:

  • Day 25 – I am thankful for the internet, which has connected me to so many new friends that I hope to meet for real. Thank you for sharing your lives and thoughts.
  • Day 26 – I am thankful that I live somewhere with seasons. I may not always enjoy the weather, but I do like having 4 seasons. Maybe just not all in one day.
  • Day 27 – I am thankful for my ancestors who passed on my love of working with fiber, even though I never met them.
  • Day 28 – I am thankful that I have people in my life who really understand me
  • Day 29 – I am thankful that I am comfortable in my own company. I know too many women who think they are whole only when they have a man in their life and settle for less than they deserve.
  • Day 30 – I am thankful that I have so much to be thankful for!

The last 4 1/2 years have been hard, I won’t kid anyone about that. I have lost so many special people and my job. Money is really tight. At the same time, I have so much to be thankful for. If we would all focus on the blessings in our lives instead of the negatives, we would all be so much happier.

I am sharing the picture of the bride from Montana with her shawl. She shared the picture of her and me on Facebook, so her she is in all her glory. She was Daughter’s roommate all through college and after, and very, very shawl-worthy. I am just so glad that it matched her dress so well (almost looks like I had seen the dress before hand and planned things. Nope, just lucky).

Rachel and me with shawl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, I do have to report that NaNo was a fail this year. I got to just over 17,000 words. I just couldn’t get anywhere with my story. I will keep plugging away at it, because I do think there is a story there, but it did not want to cooperate with the NaNo timeline.  Oh well, next year. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to take part. It is a very interesting self-challenge, and it continues to amaze me how much more creative I am in general during November when I am trying to put those 50,000 words done.

On the knitting front, I am still working on the uber:secret Christmas knitting, so no pictures of that. I just bought the latest issue of Interweave Knits, specifically for an article on knitting infinite cables. I would love to be able to knit a vest with my celtic knot ram. I may start with something easier, like this tree of life.celtictree2

Still Thankful and Thanksgiving

November 25, 2012

It has been a very busy week. My daughter had started the tradition of “Friends Thanksgiving” with her friends back in middle school, and introduced it to her college friends. They still continue to do it; this year was #6. Since she is gone, I am invited (only parent who is). It was set for November 17th this year, and I made plans to go. The night before I’m leaving, my check engine light came on. Boo! This is about 800 miles round trip, and I don’t want to do it in a rig that might die at any moment. Luckily, my niece works for a car rental company, and she was able to get me a great deal on a rental car (which my mom ended up treating me to!). So Friday afternoon, I headed over the mountains to Eugene, because Kid the Younger and his fiancée were coming with.

It was a nice evening. Kid and I went to see the new James Bond movie. We got lost on the way to the theater, but had a nice conversation along the way. This is the first year that he will not be able to be home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I will miss him. It’s nice to know that he will miss me too!

Saturday dawned rainy. I totaled a car when I was pregnant with Kid the Elder, and have been uncomfortable driving in the rain ever since. Oh well, can’t be helped. Off we went. It ended up raining all day (and the next, and the next…) The party was wonderful. It has evolved, as traditions should. The  first baby was brought, and several dogs were also in attendance. We always go around the room and say what we are thankful for. Most of them are very heart-felt, but some were just flat-out funny (one young man was thankful for indoor plumbing). These young people are the most gracious, beautiful souls, and I truly feel blessed that they continue to stay in touch with me and include me in their lives. They credit my daughter with teaching them that friendships are worth the work to maintain.

On Sunday, we left Tacoma and went to visit a couple of my sheep friends. One has recently had a cancer diagnosis, and when I let her know I was going to be in the area she expressed an interest in me coming by. It was a wonderful visit, then we were on the road again, back to Eugene, still driving in the rain. I spent the night with the kids again, rather than drive back over the mountains in a strange car in the dark.

Luckily, all that rain had not translated into snow on the mountains. It was a wet drive home Monday, but uneventful. I connected with Laura, and we made arrangements for her to come over that afternoon to pick up my turkeys for the drive to the butchers on Tuesday. I got them penned up in a small area outside their pen when I got home. When Laura came, we got my coolers into the truck, then I handed hens over the fence and she put them in the truck. There was no way I was lifting the two toms that high, so we let them out of the pen and walked them over, then we each lifted one.

The weather for Tuesday was supposed to be wet, snow level at 5,500 feet. Laura got to my place at about 7:30, and off we went. As we’re headed down my road, she informs me that her windshield wipers have an issue, so they don’t work when it’s wet. Oops! We have an appointment to keep, so staying home really isn’t an option. It turned out that the weatherman misjudged the snow level by about 2,000 feet. It is snowing big, fat, wet flakes before we hit the pass. We stopped just the other side to use the ice scraper to clean off the windshield, and Laura opened her window several times to clean off the corner so the built up snow could slide off while we were driving until we got down far enough that it turned back into rain. Several people passed us laughing and pointing when they saw the turkeys, which were visible when they stood up in the back of the truck.

We got to the butcher’s a bit early, causing a bit of a panic on their part, since they were running a bit behind (first appointment of the day was a half hour late, putting everyone behind). We sat in the office, knitting and chatting with our friend who was nice enough to bring us ice for the coolers. We talked about everything under the sun, much to the amusement of the other customers.  When they were ready for us, Laura went out and handed birds out one at a time. They managed to process our 20 birds in just under 2 hours! My seven ended up being much bigger than anticipated. Smallest one was almost 17 1/2 pounds, and the 2 toms were almost 33 and 41 pounds! Yikes, that’s a lot of turkey!

I had made arrangements to meet my future in-law in Salem to get her bird, so we made a quick stop for that before heading back over the mountains again. The addition of headlights to the mix made the drive back to our side of the world even more challenging. Laura said she was very proud of me for not squeaking once during the trip.

I shopped on Wednesday for the big day, and brined the smaller tom. Thanksgiving was at my mom’s. My friend Brenda came with her folks, and Laura joined us with a fantastic cranberry salsa. I had to make a couple of changes to the menu, since Laura is allergic to mushrooms, and Brenda’s mom is allergic to dairy proteins. Nothing major that ruined the meal. I made my usual stuffing without the mushrooms, and I made a rice stuffing for the first time by combining two recipes I found online (recipes are just suggestions, right?), and did a 7-grain roll that usually calls for butter (substituted shortening). Nobody went away hungry, and I still had half a turkey to deal with. I do love home raised turkey. Even as big as he was, he was still tender and very moist. And he cooked way faster than I anticipated. I have since boned him out, and the carcass is simmering away on the stove in a gigantic stock pot.  It is too big to fit on my biggest burner. There is no room in my freezer or mom’s (which has 3 turkeys in it), so I will be canning stock when it is done brewing.

I am squeezing in some knitting these days, but most of it is surprise stuff, so no pics until after they have reached their recipients. Good stuff, I promise.

I am being good about continuing my “30 Days of Thankfulness” posts on Facebook, so here are the latest installments.

  • Day 11 – I am thankful for the men and women of our military, whose sacrifices have helped make this country what it is.
  • Day 12 – I am thankful that my dad took the time to teach me to be handy. It is a good thing to be able to fix things.
  • Day 13 – I am thankful for my sistahs.
  • Day 14 – I am thankful for my creative skills, even when they distract me from getting things done.
  • Day 15 – I am thankful that I was able to live abroad as a child. It taught me so much about getting along with people I thought I had nothing in common with, and showed me that we are all connected.
  • Day 16 – I am thankful that my adult children actually like spending time with me. They are pretty amazing people!
  • Day 17 – I am thankful that my daughter’s friends continue to share their lives with me. They are some of the most beautiful people in the world, and I am blessed by having them in my life.
  • Day 18 – I am thankful that I live in a country that is inching towards allowing all of its citizens to marry the person they love.
  • Day 19 – I am thankful for modern conveniences (electricity, medicine, & transportation, to name just a few).
  • Day 20 – I am thankful that I have the ability to raise at least some of my own food
  • Day 21 – I am thankful for my mom.
  • Day 22 – I am thankful for the wonderful people sharing Thanksgiving with me today.
  • Day 23 – I am thankful that Facebook has given me the opportunity to reconnect with family. Some of my relatives are pretty awesome folks!
  • Day 24 – I am thankful for the joy that music brings to my life. Love listening to my kids sing.

Thankful

November 10, 2012

I was prompted at the beginning of the month to remember the things that I am thankful for. I’ve been posting them daily on Facebook, and thought I would share them here too. So far this month, this is what I have:

  • Day 1 – I am thankful that my Daughter still comes to visit me in my dreams on a regular basis.
  • Day 2 – I am thankful that, despite set backs and challenges, I am still able to have my little piece of land and my beasties.
  • Day 3 – I am thankful for friends that are family, and family that are friends
  • Day 4 – I am thankful for my depression, for it makes me appreciate the good days so much more.
  • Day 5 – I am thankful for all three of my children, and for the lessons that they have taught me
  • Day 6 – I am thankful that I live in a country where political discourse is possible and I am free to vote for the candidates of my choice without fear.
  • Day 7 – I am thankful that, while I am not rich in money, I am wealthy beyond belief in the things that truly matter – friends, family, health, and spiritual peace of mind.
  • Day 8 – I am thankful for my aches and pains, which remind me that I am still alive.
  • Day 9 – I am thankful for the beauty that greets me every day when I look around.
  • Day 10 – I am thankful for the animals that share my life, and for the things they have taught me and given me.

More to come as the month progresses. It also reminded me that one year, when the kids were little, I cut out a bunch of construction paper leaves, and we all wrote on them most days. On Thanksgiving day, I spread the leaves on the table, and we took turns reading them through dinner. It was an interesting exercise, especially to learn the things that my children were thankful for. I wish I could say we made it a yearly tradition, but we didn’t. I still have those leaves tucked away somewhere. I should dig them out.

NaNoWriMo continues, but not as easily as last year’s effort. I started with the first line of Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger” (book 1 of the Dark Tower series). Mine is a very different story from his, but it is not flowing well at this point. I am about 7,000 words behind where I should be, and I am tending to ramble, filling in words that have nothing really to do with the story. But I think I can still do it (feeling like the Little Engine at this point, “I think I can, I think I can”). My character really isn’t taking charge like the woman I was writing about last year, and he seems to be perfectly happy leaving me in charge. She was not! I had ideas about what I wanted to write, and she would take over and tell me what she wanted to do instead. I still have no idea where he’s going, and I’m 9,000 words in.

The weather has finally decided to be winter. Tuesday it was over 70 degrees. I drove down to drop off my ballot with my window open. This morning, I woke to this:  I am really glad I filled all the waterers yesterday when I fed, and that I brought in extra wood for the stove. It is pretty to look at, but I have to go over the mountains twice in the next 10 days. I don’t worry about my driving, it’s the rest of those idiots on the road that think that just because they have 4 wheel drive they can drive like crazy people. Next Friday I head to Kid the Younger’s and on Saturday we will head up to Tacoma for “Friend’s Thanksgiving”, a tradition started by Daughter in middle school and transferred to her college friends. I love that they still carry it on, and that they include me in it. Then right after I get back from that, it will be time to take the turkeys to the butcher. Laura and I are making a road trip of it. She is letting me piggyback on her butcher date, since they are booked solid this time of year. We will both make appointments for next year while we are there. It is a different place than I used last year. She has used them in the past and has been very happy. Instead of dropping the birds off in cages by 7:30 am like I had to last year, we don’t have to be there until 12 (much more manageable, given the distance to drive), and they will process our birds only until they are done. It means fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, not frozen! It also means I need to figure out how many birds I want to raise next year, so that I can give the butcher a number when I make my appointment for next year. Off to figure that out!