Archive for January, 2009

Blood pressure wars!

January 27, 2009

I’ve spent the last six days battling a spike in blood pressure, and finally decided to bite the bullet, accept the fact that I’m neither perfect nor still young, visited the doc, and got some pills, which I started yesterday afternoon, and bp is way down today already.  Yahoo!  End of that boring subject…

It is warmer out today, only zero!  And tonight late we are to have another snow storm. One report says 6-10, the other 7-14…in any case, a significant snow storm.  So, this afternoon I must remember to pick up the “feeding sleds” and put them in the shed, so I don’t have to hunt for them all over the field under the snow in the a.m.  Last time I forgot, and only found two of the three, so we limped along until the third re-appeared two weeks later.   I still love the anticipation and the snow.  Even at my ripe old age!  It is still a treat for me and not a chore.  I love that!

Lizzie is a very good girl!  She is now coming inside when I call her after she’s been out playing by the sheep.  Finally, finally, finally. Now we tackle the pulling when walking thing, get her to lie down and not sit when I say lie down, and sit, not lie down, when I say sit.  She’s got the commands backwards…but she’s responding.  Another yahoo!

AND, I have read in the papers that President Obama is jumping in with both feet and working hard to turn things around.  A third yahoo!  It is definitely a yahoo-week.

I went to a workshop at Country Treasures, the remarkable quilt store in Chester, on Saturday, and worked on a new quilt, “cozy cabin”.  It’s a lot of sewing. Got several blocks finished, but no where near the whole thing pieced.  Today, later, I hope to work on it some.

Grandson, Peter, called yesterday and talked for 45 minutes. He is like his Uncle Peter in so many ways, one being it takes him longer to tell you about a movie, than it took for the movie to run all the way through.  Patience, Granny, patience!  it is wonderful to have these calls from him.  It isn’t a family call: he just calls me all on his own and talks for 45 minutes.  I sure hope he has his family’s permission to do this.  He’s 9.

I finished reading “World Without End”, Ken Follett’s follow up novel to his first historical novel of Medieval times, “The Pillars of the EArth.”  Very well done, a good look at late medieval rural England, the development of architecture, medicine, and ethical behaviour (or not!).  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s helping me to get a sense of the history of medieval times, in preparation for our trip to Yorkshire in June.   Now on to “Tipperary” about Ireland, and specifically the area we will be staying in there.  Another follow up, this one to “Ireland”.  Frank somebodyoranother…totally forgot, and too lazy to go in the other room and look.  Read the first one before last trip to Ireland, filled with tales and myths of Ireland, sense of history of the place.  I would guess this is a continuation…will find out.

We had our first tamworth pig pork chops last night.  I picked up the pork at Boz’ on Friday.  He said the pits weighed in at between 325-350 pounds, certainly biggere than the ones killed in September!  The chops were tasty and tender…I’m a convert.  I’ve emailed Matt about getting two piglets in the spring.  I am glad that now the pigs we raise will be a rare and threatened breed as well as the other animals we have.  It’s one small way to combat the proliferation of commercial breeds, which tend to be eating machines and dumb as stumps.  Of course, these primitive breeds are smarter than the standardized ones, and can be more challenging to manage, but that is a positive for me.  Now I just have to figure out the chicken thing.  The cornish cross meat birds are anathema to me: dumb as stumps, only eat, eat, eat, so easy to dress out, they tell me, that the guts just fall out of them, almost (surely that can’t be healthy?).  The ones I’ve gotten, the Kosher Kings, “semi-mutants” are more to my liking. Last year I got just heavy breeds, but cooking them is a challenge. They have tended toward toughness, unless stewed, and though we like stewed chickens, we also like roast chicken and grilled chicken, which these guys are definitely not candidates for.  So, I’m pondering…all thoughts welcome.  I’d love to just have non-mutant food “on campus”.


Moving on…

January 22, 2009

Well, Boz finally came yesterday and did in the pigs.  They were BIG!  I didn’t really think so, but he looked sort of stunned.  It took all we could do to load the bigger one in his truck…Boz, his assistant (two strapping men) and me.  We could have used a fourth person.  The second one went more quickly, being a bit smaller, and having figured out how to most effectively get the first one in, after several failed tries.  It was 8 degrees out, he had bled them out by cutting their throats after shooting them, (I didn’t watch: I went out by the sheep, who were a little freaked at the goings on, especially the gunshots.)and off he went, back to his shop, 15 minutes away, to dress them out and hang them.    Now, I have a mess to clean up (pig poop is BIG! and there’s lots of it!) but it’s all frozen solid at the moment. I’m hoping that later in the week it might rise a bit above freezing long enough to make getting at least the surface stuff out of there. John has promised to help.  By shearing in mid-March, I’d like to have that part of the shed reclaimed, so I can use it, and I will definitely need it by lambing in late March.   Now, I just wait for Boz’ call, go pick up the meat, take the hams and bacon bellies to the smokehouse, pay him, and come home to make more sausage with the ground pork.

Today was supposed to be quilting, but two of us are at points where we have nothing to do without hauling a LOT of equipment so we decided to bag it for this week.  I have to go out now to the post office to mail off the two pairs of socks I finished for Alice, and then to the grain store, quilt store for supplies for Saturday’s workshop, and market, for we’re out of a lot of food and it’s shopping day.    All very dull “chick” stuff, Tom!  (If John wants to blog, he is perfectly able to start his own.  This is MINE!)

I’ve gotten a few more quilt tops done this week, and have two in process, and a third in my mind, with the fabric ready to cut…this afternoon’s project.  So, later in the week, I may have more photos.  AND, I started a little gansey with some leftover yarn from a gansey I made from me last year…use it up, finish it off, recycle it!  I’ll get this room uncluttered yet!

It’s cold and slippery out, and I am loathe to walk outside for exercise, especially alone, so I am doing walkabout in the house…a bit cramped but I can manage to circle the great room and head down the hall, around the coffee table in the tv room, and back out to do it again…to music.  Boring, boring, boring, but probably better for me than taking blood pressure medicine.

The sheep are recovered from yesterday’s slaughter, as are the goats.  The chickens are delighted to once again have the kitchen scraps I was feeding the pigs.  Yesterday, I got a shearing date: David will be here March 18 (I think that’s the date, that Wednesday) so if any of you want to come, either be here at 9 a.m. or if coming from a distance, call me to see if there’s a bed available!  Do let me know if you’re coming, though, so I make enough lunch!  Shearing day is a delight and a community gathering.

Onward and upward!

Baby, it’s cold outside!

January 17, 2009

Well, it was warmer today than yesterday: only -12 at 7 a.m.  I guess I should be grateful it wasn’t -15!  I’m in from doing chores, which I did in record time, not being too neat about getting those 14 flakes of hay all five feet apart from each other, tossing a bunch of hay in with the pigs (who are still here…GRRR!!!), with the goats, checking to see that the chickens had food and warm water, retrieving the one egg so far today, and hightailing it back into the house, where the woodstove is keeping it toasty in the front road, and reasonable way back here in the back room, where I have these lovely fingerless gloves if it gets too chilly to type.

I had planned to go to Sue’s yesterday, but my car was not willing to start early when it was still cold.  When John got home, he was able to start it up fine at noon, but by that time, I had given up.  So, I did more quilting stuff.  By the way, here’s a photo of the Great Grandma’s Aprons Cumberland Quilt I finished last week, stuffed with a four pound wool batt, which means it will be really comfy and warm for any visitors using our guest room.


This morning I finished a baby quilt I cut out Thursday at the little quilting class I am teaching at my church.  I wanted to show them how to cut out fabric using a rotary cutter.  This is so far from my usual type of quilt that it stuns even me.  I have no idea why I bought such bright fabrics.  It’s not my thing, particularly.  But I did it.  I will stuff it later today or tomorrow.  I don’t have any wool left, and besides, as a baby quilt, I assume it will be thrown in the washer frequently, so it will be stuffed with cotton, which is what I have on hand.


And, I finished up all 64 log cabin blocks made from scraps of Civil War era fabric I’ve had laying around for awhile.  Now I just have to decide how to put them together into the quilt top, and get on with it. I am out of wool batts,  so I will have to call my friend, Betty, to see if she has any for sale.  I don’t want to wait til March to stuff this.  Here’s the pile of blocks, waiting for further work:


Do you get the feeling I’m on a “use up” kick?  Well, yes, I am.  Strangely, John has also been cleaning up stuff in the basement, and my friend, Bobby, is also on a clean up kick.  I’m assuming there is some planetary alignment that encourages this thing!  In keeping with clean up, I also packed up all my extra knitting needles, and a box of yarn which I was saving for a rainy day, but truthfully, will never use, and sent them off to a woman in Burlington who is organizing a cottage industry knitting thing with Nepali immigrant women up there.  Better it should be put to good use than clutter up my basement storage area for wool and fleece and such.  I also sent off three fleeces to Pogo at Friend’s Folly Farm to be processed into yarn.  Two were lamb fleeces which I’m hoping she can make into laceweight yarn. I’m hankering for a shawl, filmy and soft, for spring.

Evenings, while watching the latest Netflix series from Britain, (we love those British mini-series!) I’ve been working on two pairs of socks for my friend, Alice, whom I’ve converted to wool socks.

And, the rutabagas in the “root cellar” (bulkhead entrance) were starting to sprout, so I cooked them all up, and have been making cream of rutabaga soup, which is absolutely delicious.  Sounds strange, I know.  But I just use my recipe for butternut squash soup, and substitute rutabaga. I like it even better than the butternut version, and it gets more veggies into this veggie resistant body of mine.

The animals are kind of on a winter holding pattern.  With it very cold outside, I don’t spend a lot of time with them.  I can, however, see them from the window right next to where I am now, without even moving, while touch-typing.  They are currently pigging out on hay.  The sheep and goats are growing fat.  The chickens are bearing up under the cold, and very grateful for the morning snack of organic whole grain mix.

And today, IF the car will start, I’m off to Sue’s for the morning, hoping she has some shetland fleeces, which a new friend, Meg, is interested in purchasing.  If there are any, I will take photos and send them on.  I also have to stop at the grain store and buy more pig food. (These pigs are eating almost a bag of food a day, for the last three weeks.  That means another $170 in food, which is making VERY expensive pork!  Never again in winter!)

Stay warm, wherever you are!  The days are getting longer and Spring WILL come.