Saturday, April 19, 2014

Darned Cold

Not the winter kind of cold, the virus kind of cold.  I never catch colds, really, I don't, but I have a doozy this time.  I guess all those kids sneezing and hacking away finally got to me.  I am a big baby when I have a cold, too. 

I did do a lot of my National Board stuff yesterday and a little today, and I went to see my son Pole Vault at the track meet. (He did well, a personal best!)  I whimpered and hacked and sniffled through all of it, though.  Such a whiner, I freely admit it.

I am hoping I feel better tomorrow.  I have a gigantic (free) ham I got from the save a tape promotion at the local food store, and I want to dig up some sweet potatoes and use some of those baby greens out in the greenhouse to make a nice Easter dinner.  We are hoping to go to the 7 am Mass - I love the sunrise Mass the best on Easter - but it will mean leaving home by 6 am.  That's going to be a tough sell for our kids. 

I see two Saanen goat kids on Craigslist.  I am tempted to call; I know the people that own the dairy, and they take good care of their goats.  I want milk goats in the worst way, but they don't say whether the goats are doelings or bucklings - and at the price they're asking, I am betting the latter.  There are also Aussie-Heeler-Catahoula pups....It's dangerous for me to go on Craigslist.  It really is.  It's just that one of my favorite dogs in my life was Aussie-Heeler.  My husband would kill me if I brought home a puppy, because he would be the one who would have to deal with it, since I am gone 6 days a week.  They are soooo cute, though. 

It must be Spring - I want ducklings and goat kids and puppies.  I already gave into my craving for chicks;  you know how chicks go, though.  Now they are just small chickens - lovely but in no way cute and cuddly. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood Moon

It was pretty cool.  I wish I'd thought to grab my camera, but on the other hand, I know from experience my camera doesn't take good pictures of the moon - kind of diminishes her to a small point of light. 

I was just shocked we could see anything - it's always (always!) cloudy at our house.  It's particularly always cloudy when there is something cool to see in the sky, it seems.  Last night we got lucky right up until the actual moment. It rained in town, I hear, so many of the kids came to school fairly sad about that. 

It looked red - like a red disc was eating away at the moon, which went through a month's worth of phases over the time of the eclipse. 

It was actually windy and a bit nippy, so my daughter and I ran out a few times, said, "Wow! cool!" and then ran back inside. 

At least we have something to talk about today. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

13 Straight Days of Work

Because I have been incredibly fortunate to get a couple of extra work opportunities, I am working for 13 straight days.  I teach SAT classes on Sunday afternoons, and this weekend, I am working on Summer School prep for both days of the weekend.  I really am so very grateful for the opportunities, but I am feeling slightly daunted facing all these days in a row with no breaks!  I think it is because I am not feeling that well today (Day 2).  I seem to have picked up the cold all the kids are snotting around the school.  Time to just focus on the positive! 

I took advantage of the late track meet on Saturday (a Saturday morning at home - what a concept!) to try a new homemade grout cleaner.  It didn't work as well as I wanted it to, but it worked some.  It used lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar - so I had some lemon peels left over.  I scraped them and soaked them in vinegar for the two week soak.  It's the best cleaner for my floors and counters (and no driving in traffic!)  I was pretty happy to not have any waste - even though waste of food isn't a problem between feeding dogs, chickens, and making compost - but it still felt good to be able to get double use out of the lemons. 

Chicken update: the chick I thought might be a cockerel - I am 99% sure I am right that he is indeed a he.  So now I have to decide whether an extra rooster is a prudent safeguard against the loss of the first or a terrible idea.  We need to move them outside soon - they're quite large for the tack room pen.  It's always a little dicey when you introduce the young ones to the established flock.  The Barred Rocks are active little hoppers, so we'll need to fence them off in the night pen with a double and of chicken wire until they all feel like they're one flock. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chicks Sure Do Get Ugly

You bring home these little peeping balls of fluff and, within a few weeks, they turn into little monstrosities.  Eventually, they turn into lovely chickens, but there is this period I always find creepy, when they are feathering out, but the look kind of gawky and ...well, dinosaur-y.  They still peep, but it is much less adorable.  They kind of eye you with that bird eye and they are all patchy with feathers and down and some spots where down is coming out but feathers are taking their time. 

And when you have older breeds that aren't sex-linked, you end up playing, "Hey, are you a roo?" when one looks a little bigger or the come looks more prominent.  It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, if I can keep the two roosters in two different places, or have one for dinner...  I just hope I don't have more than one. 

And they aren't quite ready to go outside, but they are outgrowing the inside.  I have to laugh - I've never had Barred Rocks before and they sure are active.  They kind of pop up and down before running.  The Australorps are fast but they basically stay on the ground, but the BR can pop as high as the top of the large dog kennel they are using as a coop in the tack room. It kind of reminds me of whack-a-mole without the ground and the holes.  Of course, I am not whacking my chicks, but the heads popping up and down gives the same effect.

As a side note, completely unrelated to chicks - I have discovered Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap.  (Actually, my older daughter introduced it to me).  I like the peppermint - love any kind of mint soap.  It makes my skin feel so good, and I notice it is brightening my complexion.  They had a bulk sale at the health food store, so I brought and old marinara jar and filled it up.  It just makes my day knowing that I have a nice jar of this stuff sitting at home.  I'm simple and easy to please, I guess. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Canning Bone Broth

Finally got around to putting up that beef bone broth I made this weekend.  It's in the canner right now.  I also took my daughter for a ride on the Crazy Horse.  He's been enjoying the life of Reilly for months now as our schedules have him mowing and weed whacking and acting like a lawn ornament rather than a riding horse.   He does come running in when I call him, though, which is endearing.  I am sure he thinks I am going to feed him. 

He still will stand still for me to mount, but was less happy about the kid.  Dummy.  Then he doesn't want to get more than two feet away from me when we go out, so I walk and jog (trying to get him to move, darn it) in front of him.  We walked all around the pasture, which had the sheep hopeful for grain.  I would like to work with him more, but 12+ hour days (starting next week - 6 days a week) doesn't leave a lot of time.  I really should sell him, but he enjoys his life and I would worry that he would end up with someone less calm, which would undo all the calming down we've done. 

I am thinking about baking something - maybe rolls as cookies aren't really appropriate during Lent.  However, I really do need to fold a huge pile of laundry and chug along on my rough draft for the Boards some more. 

I still feel so proud of myself when I can something.  It's kind of ridiculous, but the pressure canner is still a bit intimidating, and when the jars line up and make the lids go "ping, ping, ping" as they seal - it feels like an accomplishment. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

National Board Blues: The Things That Aren't Getting Done

I have a few quarts of beef bone broth I made sitting in the fridge.  The plan was to cool it and de-fat it and can it up.  It's been there a few days because I had to run errands all day yesterday and pounded away at National Boards today.  I spent hours, six and more hours today, working on just a fraction on one entry.  I would much rather be canning my beef broth. 

Right now, I am sitting in my car waiting for track practice to be done.  I should be pounding out more on the National Board - or studying these ridiculous flash cards I bought as a birthday present for myself (I know, joy, right?  Flashcards?!)  They are fairly ridiculous, and I am tempted to return them.  They look to be much more a mix of the PRAXIS and GRE exam then specifically for my exam.  Oh well.  Review my Masters degree and get into the mood for a long test, I guess. 

I have one more full day to work on National Boards and then I am going to an Educational Conference.  I figured back in January that it would be a nice break from National Boards, but between cleaning (the last good deep clean before Easter because of SAT classes) and cleaning chicken coops and brooders, not to mention pressure cooking soup bones and shipping a really old Volvo to my daughter on Oahu (involved sitting at the dock for an HOUR - I should have brought my National Board stuff!), driving kids back and forth to practice, etc., I have not gotten as much done as I dreamed I would.  Bummer for me. 

Frankly, I just want to take a nap.  Or maybe I just want to one quick walk around the walking track on campus.  I have been entirely too still all day. 

Oh, but I found the best recipe for Artisan bread! 

3 cups bread flour
1 t yeast
1 t salt
1 1/2 cups water 

Mix it all up, let it sit, covered, for 12-18 hours (my schedule actually had it resting well over 24 hours and it was fine).  Preheat a cast iron dutch oven for 30 minutes at 450.  Bake the dough in the dutch oven with the cover on for 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for 15 more minutes.  (Actually, I would go a little less - the bottom was very hard on this loaf).  It's so chewy and crusty - very good.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Natural Cleaners

Although I admit I am always looking for ways to save money, the real reason I like to make my own cleaners is because the store is really far away.  I can go through one of those spray and wipe bathoom cleaner bottles in a week.  Although work is closer to the store than home, I don't like going after work because 1) basically I have too much work to do and 2) the traffic is horrible after school.  It's only horrible between the bypass road and school, but that's bad enough. 

So I bought a big box of Borax, a big box of washing soda, a huge pouch of baking soda, and I buy gallon jugs of vinegar (possibly they are 2 gallon jugs - they're big).  I also bought Fels Naphtha, because I thought I would make some laundry soap, but the grating hasn't appealed.  I have lots of lemons on my trees at most times, so lemon juice and peel is a great addition to the home made cleaner arsenal.  

I love lemon vinegar cleaner.  You just soak lemon peels in vinegar for a couple of week and it cleans kitchen counters, granite, laminate floors, bathroom sinks - all shiny and not too vinegar smelling. 

I made a cleaner for my bathroom yesterday with 4 T borax, 1 tsp washing soda, 4 T baking soda,  1/2 a lemon's worth of juice, 1 1/2 cups vinegar and 3 cups hot water.  It was strong and next time I will wear rubber gloves, but it shined up my shower doors and shower tiles very nicely. 

I just ran out of Pledge, so the next recipe I will try will be some kind of wood cleaner.