Archive for December, 2008

Snow, snow, snow!

December 21, 2008

Well, Wednesday we had about 6 inches of snow; Friday, another foot or so, and today we are in the midst of a big snowstorm, with 11-18 inches expected.  We have about six so far.  It is nice and warm inside the cabin; about twelve degrees out!  After church, I shoveled out what had accumulated so far today, then came in for lunch.  After lunch, John went out, supposedly to put more wood up on the porch from the woodshed, but so far, he’s snowblown paths around the house, cleared off the truck to make it easier in the morning, I expect, if he decides to go to work, and watered the animals.  I guess I should take Lizzie out again soon, but right now seemed a great time to have a cup of tea and catch up online.

I’ve pieced most of the quilt I’m working on; still four more rows of 14 blocks to attach, which will make it 80 inches square without borders.  Still haven’t figured out what to do for borders.  It is all 30’s fabric, scrappy, in the Cumberland pattern.  It reminds me of my great grandmother’s aprons.  I have a wool batt in the basement to stuff it with. Perhaps by Christmas I’ll get it all finished, especially if all we get is snow.  I still have a few small things to pick up at the store, and packages to wrap, but essentially, Christmas is done.  Keeping it small helps to make it much easier in the shopping department.  That way we can focus on the Holy Day instead of the holiday.

I keep thinking it would be a good day to do some baking of Christmas cookies, but then, I’d only eat them, and last time I did some baking, the power went off and to finish the baking, we had to run the generator.  Besides tonight starts Chanukkah, and I’m thinking it would be nice to make latkas in honor of my Dvora Breina Ashman’s mother, whose recipe it is.  We shall see…it’s a bit of work, but they are so good.

Putting the big feeder in with the pigs has helped a lot!  They can feed whenever they want to which is good. I still bring them treats each day of stuff from the house or from my supply of acorns, but their basic feed is taken care of.  Unlike the sheep, they don’t seem particularly fond of snow to drink, so water has to be brought to them at least twice a day.  Since it’s so cold, and there is no water heater, I can’t use the big water bucket with nipple.  It will freeze.

The chickens have started laying again.  We are up to an average of five eggs a day.

Ah, I hear John putting wood on the porch. I would guess he’ll be finished and in soon, ready for a nice nap by the woodstove.  He’s been out over an hour.   So, I think I’ll go make sure the stove is full and cranking out heat, and then, perhaps do that last bit of quilt piecing.


Two to three more weeks…

December 16, 2008

…til the pigs go to the butcher, and I’m eager to have them in the freezer, let me tell you.  They broke out again.  Lizzie and I moved them to the shed, but as pigs don’t much like NEW places they haven’t chosen themselves, it took us almost an hour to accomplish.  They are now barricaded in one section of the shed with green fence panels.  They are making a mess, for sure.  They seem to be digging a hole to China in the middle of their pen.  Everything is mud!  Never again.  Pigs belong on pasture, in the woods, out on the back 40, where they are happier, have lots to do, and I’m happier.  They do look good, however. I have to say that.

It’s been a very busy three weeks. I’ve been subbing for our parish priest, which means writing a sermon every week, which is a long, drawn out process similar to making chicken soup, in that after the research, you let it sit on the back burner until it comes together, after cutting up all these disparate “veggies” and putting them in the pot.  Until it becomes soup, there is not much clarity.  So, it kind of hangs over my head all week.  Last Sunday was my last day, thank God.  Susan will be home later this week, and the parish is hers again.  In the middle of this stint, it was John’s mother’s 90th birthday, so two of his siblings and families and his mother’s favorite niece and daughter came up.  Only four of them stayed here, and Ginny was a big help.  The party was at the place where Mom lives, and she was absolutely delighted. I’m not sure she actually knew who the three strapping men were surrounding her, but I’m sure she knew they were her special people in some way. She never called any of them by name, one way she has of disguising the fact that she really doesn’t know who they are.  But she was beaming, ear to ear, and her usual sweet self, still somewhat of a surprise to me!  Of course, five minutes after we left, she had no idea we had been there, but it was worth it for the joy in her face during the event.  Then, they all came back to our house, I babysat while some went to the brewery for a beer tour, and got dinner ready for 10.  (John’s sister came down with the flu and wasn’t fully healed, so she didn’t come.  Too bad, she missed a great party.)  On Sunday, I was totally exhausted, having left the house after feeding the animals in the dark, at 6:45, to do the church gig.  (Always exhausting to “hold people in thrall” during a service.)

Then, this Friday we got a lovely “wintry mix” storm. (How I love it when wintry mix season is over and we have real snow storms, much easier to deal with, much less damage.)  All over New England, lines were/are down. There are still people, five days later, without power. We were without power from 10:45 on Friday til around 8:30 on Saturday night.  For us, it is no big deal, since we heat with wood anyway, I have a gas range, so we can cook, and we have a generator, which, if run 30 minutes 3 times a day, keeps the frig cold, the toilets flushable, and gives us minimal light to prepare and eat meals.  The freezers are both in the barn/garage, and at 11 degrees, we didn’t really worry about them much!  But many people waited while all the food in their freezers which they couldn’t afford to replace, died on them.  One resourceful couple took all the stuff from their freezer, put it in five gallon containers, put it up against an outcropping of rock in their yard and plowed their driveway of “wintry mix” putting the mix on top of those containers.  Their food stayed just fine.  A more creative approach than sitting their crying because your frozen food is melting, the reaction of others.   A little resourcefulness goes a long way.

Today I finish a letter of recommendation for a friend/mentee who is going to attend Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  Then, I have some errands to do.  And there is that Christmas letter which needs composing. Luckily, since we’re die hard Episcopalians, we do NOT send out Christmas cards during Advent, but wait til Christmastide, so I have some time yet!  So long as they arrive before January 5, Twelfth Night, it works for us. I’m sure people think we just got behind…

And, more exciting news: we are negociating and planning for a trip to the British Isles in June, one week in Ireland, and one in Yorkshire.  A few details need to be ironed out, and then we are all set.  All my life, I’ve wanted to travel to certain places, and never been able to afford it.  Finally, we’ve reached the age where if we don’t do it now, it won’t get done, and with careful planning and saving, we can afford a trip every couple of years.  I may have to do more subbing for other churches to make some money, but hopefully, we’ll manage without.  We want to see cathedrals, but not on tours, rather to experience them by going to services there and singing and praying with the congregation gathered. Cathedrals are big enough so there ought to be midweek services at many of them, hopefully.  There appear to be a number within a reasonable distance of the cottage we’ll stay in in Yorkshire.  In Ireland, we’ll concentrate on ruins, more, I think, and the Aran Islands, where we’ll go for two days.  We’ll be in Tipperary, and maybe we’ll find out just why it got singled out for the WWI song, It’s a long way to Tipperary…or not.   We will also visit Richard III’s castle at Middleham. I’m a big Plantagenet and Tudor fan, and am particularly fond of Richard III, who, I think, got a bad rap from Shakespeare to please the “administration” of his day.  What artists have to do for patronage!

Okay, onward and upward.  Have a great third and fourth week of Advent.  So much to prepare, it’s nice to have a season set aside just for that.

One last comment:  WordPress is getting just like the local supermarket: you just get used to where to find everything, and they change it all around.  I guess that’s supposed to make you do more impulse buying. Me being contrary, it usually has just the opposite effect on me.  I get angry because I can’t find what I want, and leave with many fewer groceries than I came for.  Every time wordpress changes it’s format, it takes longer and longer to get from typing in the address and having the format come up to do the entry.  Not sure why.  Took a full five minutes today.  GRRR!!!  Oh, well…just wanted to air my gripe.  Now, to figure out exactly how to publish this thing, not only the format but some of the terms as well, look different.

The Value of a Good Pig Dog!

December 2, 2008

Well, winter is upon us.  Over Thanksgiving holidays, the grandkids, Lizzie, and I moved the pigs to their winter quarters, along the driveway, in a pen surrounded by the same electronetting as they are used to.  The sheep had been put into gender groups again the week before.  Sunday, Lucas and I drove up to get the goatie girls, hopefully bred.  So, all was peaceful…until today.  Neighbor Julie walked over to visit, pushing her jogging stroller with daughter, Anna, and with nephew, Rupert, in a carrier on her back. For some reason, this “monster” freaked out the pigs and they bolted.  I sent the “monster” home, and Lizzie and I went out with a bucket of pig food.  Between us, we got them back into their pen in about 5 minutes. I was very surprised, and delighted.  Lizzie kept circling them, keeping them in tight, and following me with the grain.  I repaired the fence they trashed, and we came inside, Lizzie to nap, and I, to quilt.  About two hours later, the UPS guy drove up with packages, and mentioned that there was a pig out.  I thought it was too good to be true.  Once those pigs found the fence was easily breached, over they went again.  This time, though, they knew our tricks, and they weren’t all that hungry, AND we wanted them in a new place. Pigs don’t do new places easily!  I finally broke down their shelter, made from green fence panels, and set them up as a lane and barrier.  We slowly, between us (Lizzie and I) got them into the perimeter fence/shed area, and I closed the big hi-tensile gate.  They tried to bolt, and got a bolt of lightning, several times from the perimeter fence, and ended up in the shed, where I wanted them, surrounded by green fence panels, which I hope will hold them, now.  IF not, I’ll have to barricade them in by standing some on end to make the fence too high to jump over.  I think, however, they will be just fine there, though perhaps a little bored, after several months of being out in an acre or more of forested land with lots of yummy things under the surface to be dug up.  Now they just have a 10 x 10 space to explore.  I guess I’ll have to hunt up some frozen apple drops and get them some green stuff at the market to keep them excited.  I came in pretty tired of chasing pigs, for sure, ready to make the turkey pot pie for dinner with the leftover turkey and gravy, only to find I had used up all the Crisco, and the lard was frozen, so we just had turkey stew with biscuits, oh well.  Thursday for pot pie…

Tomorrow, I am catching up the four American buff geese and taking them to Mila’s house.   Her husband has built a lovely shelter for them. I will get babies in the spring, assuming they survive and hatch out some babies.  If not, I’ll buy some like last year. I love them, but just don’t have the room for them.  Next year, I’ll be sure to get the pigs early enough so that they are in the freezer by September 1st, and then I can think about wintering over geese!

I did get about 200 squares done toward the quilt I’m putting together, a Cumberland pattern given to me by a friend; came free in some communication with her.  I don’t know how come she gets lots of free patterns and I get none!  Oh, well…Hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll get the squares together. I’m sure I won’t be able to finish it by the weekend, but at least I might get the top all pieced.

This weekend is John’s mother’s 90th birthday, and his siblings and one cousin and some next generation family are coming, many of them staying here. So I have to get to the market and spend a lot of time baking and cooking!  They will be here for the weekend, many of them.  The party itself will be at her residence in the nursing home.  We’ll all only stay an hour, then visit her one at a time, or one group at a time. That many people confuses her all at once.  Her short term memory is pretty non-existent.  Probably five minutes after we leave, she will not remember that there’s been a party, but that’s okay: while we’re there, she’ll enjoy herself and it will probably be the last time all the siblings will be together before she dies, so I’ll take lots of photos and make an album for her, with all the various families labelled, for her to enjoy.  You can see it’s going to be a very busy few days.  Oh, and our priest is away, so for the next two weeks (and last Sunday), I’m “on” on Sundays to preside at two eucharists and preach, and on call through the week.  It meant I couldn’t get to Vicki’s concert in N.J., where she has joined a Christian choir, not my kind of music, but she has a great voice, and I’m sure has done wonderfully with her solos.  Laura is in the choir, too (granddaughter), but at six, is a little lost by the pace and the number of songs they have had to memorize.  She did very well when I practiced with her, but it is still difficult for her.  Anyway, so in addition to the cleaning and cooking and quilting and farm chores, I have a sermon to write!  GREAT!  I’m out of practice, having been retired for 4 years.

Well, the pig dog is sitting at my feet in her usual “help with mail” position, while John does the dishes.  Then, an evening of Netflix, I would guess, and early to bed, after all the walking around chasing pigs today!  I am so thrilled with how well her instincts kicked in and what a help she was.  I have even forgiven her for trying to herd the mail woman’s car earlier in the day, making it impossible for her to leave, until I was able to distract Lizzie with her Jollyball!  She did well there, too, keeping the car between us, so I couldn’t catch her!  But her pig work redeemed her for the day, anyway.  Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.