Farm Life

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I have been tagged by paperseedblog of http://paperseed.wordpress.com/ and asked to post 7 honest things about myself. It sounds easy,  but I’ve been putting it off. Until now.

I am a homebody. Crowds make me uncomfortable. I hate shopping malls and supersized “one-stop” groceries. Give me a little shop anyday. I dread parties. My home is warm and cozy. It has my husband, my animals, my books, my computer, my hi-def tv and all of my favorite foods. I love my house and being in my house.

 I hate small talk. I am not good at it. I feel awkward and tongue-tied. My mind drifts. When I was single I suggested movies for first dates to avoid conversation.

 With  friends and family or when talking about things I care about, I am a chatterbox. My poor husband sometimes has to wait to get in a word edgewise.

I like old things better than new. I have a passion for antiques. Only I want to use them instead of storing and preserving them. I read the old books, display the arrowheads, work with the kitchen tools and stir my cakes in antique bowls. These items have a history and I like adding to it.

blog-pictures-001.jpg I don’t love all of my animals the same. I secretly love Abby and Simba the most. I love Abby because she has become my dog. I love Simba because he smells so good and because he snuggles. Simba would rather be DH’s cat, but sometimes he bestows himself upon me and purrs and cuddles. I love smelling his fur and hearing his purr.

Sometimes, when DH asks me to go for walks I say no and make excuses. There is always something else I’d rather do. But, “if “I go, I am always glad I did. A walk through our woods is more relaxing than a tranquilizer.

“All the Critters” has a quiz (http://allthecritters.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/take-this-quiz-to-find-out-what-animal-you-are/) to find out what kind of “animal” you are.

I took the quiz.

I am a “pale giraffe” — an introvert. Imagine.

What kind of animal are you?

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Our neighborhood grocery has hitching posts and shelter for horses.

This is one of my favorite recipes. Perfect for special holidays, it looks and tastes wonderful. It is easy to make too.

I have also included my pie crust recipe.

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My, oh my…this pie is SO GOOD!

Amish Sour Cream Apple Pie with Brown Sugar Topping

FILLING:

Mix:

2/3 cup sugar

2 tblsp. flour

1/4 tsp salt

ADD:

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

Stir in 3 cups of apples. If apples are not tart add 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice to apples before adding them to the sour cream mixture.

Put filling into unbaked pie and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with Brown Sugar Crumb topping. Bake for an additional 20 more minutes.

BROWN SUGAR CRUMB TOPPING

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup butter (room temperature)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together all ingredients until they become course and crumbly.

COOL PIE FOR AN HOUR BEFORE SERVING.

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Be sure to cool for an hour before serving.

PERFECT PIE CRUST

Mix together

2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Gold Meadow)

1 tsp salt

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Cut butter and shortening into flour mixture with a fork until it is cumbly. Don’t worry about overmixing at this stage.

 Cut in with fork :

 2/3 cup chilled lard or shortening (I use Crisco)

2 tbsp. chilled butter

Sprinkle dough with:

4 tbsp. water

Blend the water lightly into the dough. You may lift the ingredients with a fork, allowing the moisture to hold the ingredients together. You may add up to 1 more tablespoon of water if needed.

Gather the dough up  into two balls. Chill until ready to roll out.

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Once you have sprinkled your dough with water, mix and handle the dough as little as possible. This crust has been rolled out and is ready to be crimped.

STILL LOOKING FOR APPLE RECIPES? The Rocky Road of Love has an Apple Cake said to be so rich, moist and full of tangy apples you can have it for breakfast, the next day: http://rockyroadoflove.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/fresh-apple-cake/#comment-939

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Looking for Holiday Recipes? Be sure to visit Overwhelmed With Joy’s 2nd Edition of, “Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style”  at:

http://overwhelmedwithjoy.blogspot.com/

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“I promise to answer your horse related questions and to include three references other than my own experience” said Edna Leigh of Red Pony Farm, “I have at my disposal a vast library of information and many professionals with whom I have the necessary rapport to glean needed expert commentaries. They include veterinarians, ferriers, trainers in several disciplines, breeders, back yard hobbyists, farmers, and competitors of all ages who have achieved success.”

 Edna Leigh was taken up on her offer immediately.

Jolynna asks:

“Separation anxiety question: I have two horses who have hissy fits when separated. Between the neighing and calling back and forth, the head tossing of the one being ridden, and the frantic galloping and bucking of the one left behind, riding isn’t fun. Any suggestions?”

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“Buddy Sour” Skipper

Today I had the answer to my question from Edna Leigh and several experts. I am thrilled. Edna Leigh  worked hard and gathered a LOT of information. 

To read the suggestions for how to cure “buddy sour” Skipper and Summer and to read more horse related questions and solutions check out Red Pony Farm:

http://redponyfarm.typepad.com/

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“Buddy sour” Summer gets a carrot from Autumn.

MORE HORSE STORIES:

Give me a kiss

Horses , Skipper Rears

Saving Kitty and the Barn Kickers

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My neighbor and friend, Freeda, working in her kitchen.

Monday through Friday, while their mother works, 89 year old Freeda babysits for her two year old, 4 year old and 6 year old great-grandchildren. She also gardens, keeps house and quilts. When I talked to her today she had made grape jelly and grape juice from her homegrown grapes.  She also told me about freezing her special cucumber and onion mix. 

When she is not busy with chores, Freeda says she loves to read.

Today, I got one of Freeda’s almost impossibe to get quilts. Freeda only accepts a few orders per year so her waiting list is years long. But, this was my lucky day. One of Freeda’s customers failed to pick up an order and Freeda thought I might be interested.

I was not a hard sell.


My new quilt is cream with a wedding ring pattern in shades of lavender with green accents.

While DH and I were admiring some of Freeda’s other quilts, she talked about growing up and living Amish. I was spellbound. I was also hoping Freeda would reveal her secret to being such a youthful almost 90 (in December) year old.

Freeda grew up in North Dakota during a time of dust storms and the depression. She was the fifth child from a family of eleven. Her nearest neighbors were a mile away.

“We raised most of our food,” says Freeda, “mother always had a big garden. We had small fruits like strawberries, currants, red and black raspberries, gooseberries and Juneberries. We had our chores to do.  We carried wood, coal and water.

“We had chickens to feed, eggs to gather and cows to milk. I started milking when I was ten.

“Mother set her own hens — sometimes 24 hens at one time. She also had turkeys, ducks and geese. The little peeps were my job when I was old enough to do it. I would feed them clabbered milk and hard boiled eggs with chick powder mixed in. In the winter, chickens, calves, cows, sheep, pigs, sheep, cats, dogs and horses were all in the same barn. When the doors were opened, the steam rolled out. Frost gathered on the inside of the walls so thick that we would write our names there while doing chores and it would stay there until spring.”


The barn was 100 feet long. In the summer cooking was done in the summer kitchen in front of the barn.

In 1936 Freeda married Eli and by 1959, they had eight children. Then they further expanded their family by taking in foster children needing a home. Over the next 25 years Freeda and Eli took in 46 children including those with handicaps and serious illnesses.

 “Several children came that were so undernourished,” says Freeda, ” one girl was hit on the head by her daddy and was blind and paralyzed because of it. She had surgery on her head and was able to see and walk again. She was soon adopted after that.

“It’s hard to give up children in foster care. They never left without tears and a prayer, knowing that God would take care of them wherever they are.

“After 25 years we quit foster care. Five years later they wanted us to start up again, but in the meantime, friends and neighbors had started bringing in their babies and I started daycare. I did not realize it would last until now, over 20 years later. I just thank God for my health so I can continue to have the children since it helps pass the time and the days are not so long.”


Eli’s first horse and buggy.

 In 1981, Freeda and Eli traveled to Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. In 1987 they took a 6 week trip to Alaska. They went up to see the pipeline. While in Fairbanks, they saw an eskimo lady sweeping the sidewalks.

She said, “Are you what we call Amish?” She told Freeda and Eli that she had read about the Amish and that there were just a few left. Freeda told her there were Amish in almost every state in the United States.

Says Freeda, “She had the Shaker people in mind. There are just a few of them left.”

In 1990, when Eli was 80 years old, he and Freeda went to Paraguay, South America for two weeks for a wedding. In 1993, Eli had flu symptoms and a pain in his side.

Only it wasn’t the flu. Eli had had an abdominal aneurysm. Freeda and Eli had been married 57 years when he died. Together they had bought and paid for their farm. They had traveled around the world. They had raised 8 children and fostered 46. In addition, Freeda has 20 grandchildren and 24 greatgrandchildren.

“We had a good life,” says Freeda, “It was a busy one, I’m still busy and I have no regrets. The Lord has been good to me and for that I am grateful and truly at peace.”

Freeda’s Frozen Cucumber and Onion Mix

Slice your cucumbers and onions

Cover cucumbers and onions with 2 tablespoons of salt.

Let sit 2 hours.

Then drain the salt off.

Boil sugar and water to taste.

Put cucumbers and onions into freezer container and cover them with boiled sugar water.

Freeze.

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My mother was a tomato grower and canner without peer. 

Seriously, she was good.

Back then, my parents didn’t have air conditioning. But, that didn’t keep my mother from spending  day after day slumped over huge, steaming, graniteware kettles, doing things with tongs and filling shelf after shelf with her homegrown canned tomatoes. 

But, despite my mother’s success, maybe it is the memory of what seemed  like too many long hot hours and too many procedures and having to be totally sterile that made the discovery of a food dehydrator in DH’s barn so exciting.

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The abandoned food dehydrator waiting to be filled with tomatoes.

I also love the concentrated sweetness and flavor of sun dried tomatoes. Home dried tomatoes are less expensive than those from the grocery. They take up much less shelf space than canned tomatoes. They can be used in any recipe calling for tomatoes.

Best of all, they are easy to make.

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The first tier of tomatoes is ready.

Plum or Roma tomatoes are recommended. However, any type you want to use will work. The tomatoes should be firm and ripe, but not over ripe, which will lead to decay. For round or slicer type tomatoes cut the tomatoes crosswise into no thicker than 1/4 inch thick slices.

 Drain your tomatoes in a collander, pat slightly with paper towels, then place the tomatoes on your dehydrator racks leaving enough space between the slices for air to circulate.

 Rotate the trays if you have more than one to dehydrate. Ideally the temperature should be at 135 to 140 degrees. To oven dry: place your tomatoes on foil lined cookie sheets. Your oven temperature should be between 140 to 150 degrees.

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Be sure to turn your tomatoes over when necessary and to rotate the tiers. Some of mine are wet and need to be turned over.

Drying tomatoes will take from 10 to 24 hours. When your tomatoes are dry they should be leathery but pliable. As soon as my tomatoes were of the same texture as a raisin, I removed them from the dehydrator with a spatula. I decided to preserve them by freezing to prevent mold and used ziplock bags with the air pulled out through a straw.

 If your tomatoes come out too dry or you want to make them into flakes put them into your freezer for about 5 minutes and then crush them with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet.

 To make tomato powder use your food processor or blender until the tomatoes are ground very fine.

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1/4 cup of dried tomatoes I am going to hydrate with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

 To rehydrate your tomatoes, soak them in water or olive oil at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Using boiling water will speed up the process.

dsc00604.jpg Dried tomatoes can also be added to soups and stews during the last half hour to rehydrate. I added them to my chili on Sunday. DH said it is the best chili he has ever had!

SUN DRIED TOMATO CREAM CHEESE SPREAD

This recipe is simple and absolutely delicious.

– ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and coarsely chopped

– 8 ounces block cream cheese, softened

– ½ cup sour cream

– ¼ cup mayonnaise

– 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

– ¾ tsp. salt

– ¾ tsp. black pepper

– 1 Tblsp. Dried basil (I used 2-3 Tbsp. of fresh basil)

– A dash of hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy!)

Toss all of the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth. (I just used a whisk because I like having little tomato chunks in my spread.) Chill for about an hour before serving. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and it will keep for up to two weeks.

– You can make this spread figure-friendly by using reduced fat versions of the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. It will taste so good, you’ll never miss the fat!

crean-cheese-3.jpgTomorrow I will use the cream cheese spread on bagels. But, DH and I couldn’t resist getting out some crackers and doing some taste testing. The spread is outstanding!

SUN DRIED TOMATO, MUSHROOM, CHEESE &

MEATBALL PIZZA

  • 1 1/2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I used 1 can of canned)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10-ounce ) can refrigerated pizza crust
  • sweet onion sliced thin and chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
  • Meatballs (precooked & chopped) 

Combine dried tomatoes and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan; let stand for 15 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add the next 5 ingredients and cook 5 minutes longer or until liquid has evaporated, stirring often.

Press pizza dough out onto a greased 12-inch pizza pan and spread with tomato mixture; if desired, arrange onions & meatballs on top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in a 425°F oven 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

 

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Kitty is trying to kill himself.

It’s a dangerous situation.

Kitty is so happy when he thinks his people are coming home he runs under the front wheels of every vehicle pulling into our drive. If you look for him, when it gets dark he’s hard to see.

We don’t know how to break Kitty of his new habit. Some of the visitors to our house are older and have enough trouble negotiating around our trees, shrubs or the barn to consider watching out for our little cat.

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Kitty’s about to throw himself beneath a jeep wheel. Notice the tire tracks where he’s walking.

This week our horses kicked holes in the barn. We don’t keep them locked inside stalls. They can go inside or out at will. They’ve got free access to a big round bale of hay. They have a fan inside the barn. They have bug zappers. They have a drinking fountain.

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The kicked out side of our barn.

I think the horses and Kitty are missing DH.

DH loves having a farm and spends his days as if he were a paid hand. He mows, works in the barn, trims trees, cleans up trails, fixes fences and as he does chores, the horse’s noses are right up his back or over his shoulder. When DH is outside their pasture, the horses watch his every move from the closest fence corner.

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The not very remorseful barn kickers beg for treats.

Kitty lived wild and feral in DH’s woods for an entire year before DH was able to get close to him. He still spends most days outside. Only instead of being the cat that walked and lived alone, Kitty now follows DH like a dog. He is up and down ladders, running ahead of DH on paths in the woods and springing out from behind weeds to grab DH’s legs.

Lately though, DH has had obligations that have prevented him from being as available outside for our animals.

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Simba’s found a sack and total bliss.

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Biggs enjoys her favorite chair.

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The newest member of our family, Scooter, the hummingbird, sips nectar and entices Biggs who is watching out the window.

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Buster and DH greet Mr. Miller, the repairman who will be fixing our barn. The children soon are petting our horses although Mr. Miller said their horse is a new one. According to Mr. Miller, the new horse isn’t very well trained and behaved badly on the drive to look over our barn.

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It’s that time of year and animal hair is everywhere. Abby watches me sweep.

It is shedding season and over the past week with my daughter visiting, every day was a reminder that I really need to check out the animal Dyson vacuum cleaner. Dog and cat hair were everywhere and clinging to our clothes everytime we left the house.

 Our pets are a lot of work and a responsibility. They aren’t cheap with vet visits, expensive and endless desires for Fancy Feast, hay, treats, toys and barn destroying. But, their joy, when we come home, is so overwhelming you cannot help but know it’s love in its  purest and most unselfish  form.

Simba may mostly be DH’s cat, but this week it was my face he snuggled up to every night. And in the mornings  DH made coffee and Abby came and nuzzled my arm so I’d wake up right before it was ready. Somehow, someway, those pets instinctively became nurturing and extra affectionate.

Are our pets worth the inconvenience and expense?

Absolutely. We don’t miss or think about their cost in time or money.

But, we’d sure miss them.

More dog stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

My Big Fat Animals

“Bad Boy Buster” and Dog Whispering

More cat stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

The Cat Box

Cat Ladder

DH’s Cat Ladder Goes International

More Horse Stories:

Give me a kiss

Horses , Skipper Rears

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Our vegetables have spread from the counter to the table. It has been so rainy, we are trying to cure our onions inside.

Tomato cake?

Whoever heard of tomato cake?

We have given away cucumbers and onions and potatoes and tomatoes to just about everyone we know. I’ve made sauce. I’m not fond of canned tomatoes. Then, I found a recipe from who-knows-where, stuffed into a cookbook for tomato cake. I had only to read that it included an ENTIRE cup of dark brown sugar to know it was a recipe with potential.

 With cream cheese frosting, it was wonderful.

dsc00481.jpg The first step toward peeling tomatoes is to put them into boiling water until the skin cracks.

dsc00482.jpg Next plunge the tomatoes into ice water and pull the skin off.

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I’m stirring in the tomatoes, raisins, dates and walnuts. It is not looking very good.

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The cake is done and cooling before being frosted. I used a silicon baking pan for the first time and didn’t use enough support taking the cake out so it cracked. But, I can tell from the smell and what I can see I am going to like it.

FRESH FROM THE GARDEN TOMATO CAKE

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar, dark
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups ripe, peeled and chopped up tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins

Directions

Mix cream sugar and shortening.

Add eggs.

Add sifted dry ingredients, mixing well.

Stir in tomatoes, nuts, dates, and raisins.

Put into greased and floured 9x inch baking pan.

Bake in preheated 350’F oven for 35 minutes or until cake tests
done.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions: In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

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Tomato cake ready to be served.

As promised, here are my SUPER, SECRET ingredients to always perfect, moist and tasty roast chicken with crisp and golden skin:

dsc00499.jpg I’ve been stuffing my roast chicken with an apple and onion for over 20 years and always had perfect results.

For a flavorful and moist roast chicken, stuff it with an a cut up apple and halved or quartered onion. Don’t bother to core or peel the apple. Butter your chicken. Sprinkle with rosemary, paprika, salt, pepper and maybe a little lemon (or not). Bake at 325 to 350 degrees and baste often.

Your chicken is done when the legs move freely and the juices are clear.

 UPDATE: Healingmagichands, http://healingmagichands.wordpress.com/ , wrote to say that she puts sprigs of rosemary inside the chicken cavity along with lemons and onions. She says putting fruit & onions inside her chicken  gives her a crispy crust with very moist and flavorful meat.

I like the taste of rosemary with chicken so much that I use it to butter the outside of my roast chicken. (And always with roast potatoes.) But, I bet my chicken WOULD be even better with a sprig of rosemary in the cavity.

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Macho, tough Buster, chaser of cats and bully of Abby, is scared.

“Collars are cruel,” said DH, “they make dogs choke. Before we go to the vet, I’m getting harnesses.”

And he did.

But, it was as if Buster had ESP.

“Isn’t Buster pretty,” we said. “Good boy, Buster, beautiful Buster.”

Our talk didn’t fool Buster one bit. He cowered and shook with fear. He seemed to know what was coming.

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Buster is so upset because of the harness, I had to hold his head up to get him to look at me. He was also plotting his escape.

Buster wasn’t going sit and let it happen either. At the first opportunity he bolted through the dogdoor and hid in our backyard. DH had to go out and get him and carry him to the jeep.

In the meantime, I was in charge of putting Biggs in the cat carrier. 

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Biggs inspects the cat carrier.

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Then Biggs strolls on in.

I had only to shut the cat carrier door after Biggs went in on her own. Abby proudly let me put her regular collar on, strutted out to the jeep and hopped in. Except for Abby getting carsick and drooling and Biggs meowing, the ride to Maplecrest Animal Hospital was uneventful. 

Once we got to there, Abby practically drug me into the front waiting room. Then, DH signed everyone in and Buster retreated to hide in the corner with his head under a chair.

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Buster is still wide-eyed. Abby is calm, but soon drooling from carsickness.

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Buster hiding in the corner of the waiting room.

There was a different veterinarian in the office today, Dr. Jeff Longenbaugh. He won Abby and I over when he said her weight was just fine. Biggs didn’t fare as well. Eleven and a half pounds is a lot for such a small boned cat. But, despite all the talk about her fatness, Biggs purred contentedly through the examination and her vacinations.

 Buster didn’t recognize the vet and clung to him avoiding DH and I. I think Buster was remembering past times DH and I had betrayed him in the examining room. Once the vet took out the syringe to draw blood, though, DH had to help hold Buster down.

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Biggs purrs through her embarrassing weigh-in and vaccinations.

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Abby had an old scab from a tick bite.

No fleas, ear mites, heartworms or signs of problems. Everyone got a clean bill of health. DH paid.

We will be back again next year. In the meantime, I would like to thank the veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Longenbaugh and the staff at Maplecrest Animal Hospital.

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Maplecrest Animal Hospital’s staff is hard at work.

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The dogs lie low on the way home.

Other posts about Buster, Abby and Biggs include:

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/my-big-fat-animals/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/08/02/bad-boy-buster-temptation-and-dog-whispering/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/07/09/the-cat-ladder/

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/06/10/the-cat-box/

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Abby by the garden. She’s a lab/border collie mix with eyes that radiate love.

“Don’t forget to call the vet to make an appointment for Abby and Buster.”

DH reminds me of the card we  just got in the mail announcing it’s time for our dogs to get their yearly checkups and shots.

“OK.” I wonder how long I’ll have to get Abby’s weight down before I have to face the vet.

Abby officially became a senior dog this month. Because of her advancing age, last year I was told to restrict her diet to take off  her extra weight. I did mean to take Abby on more walks, not to give her treats or to give her leftovers. But, nobody appreciates my cooking more than Abby.

 By default she’s my dog. Prevented by Buster from getting near DH or getting exercise from chasing a ball, (Buster gets to balls first and they are HIS)  Abby stays by me, where she can have bones and toys, without them being stolen. Rawhide twists, pigs ears, old socks with a knot in them, the sound of Abby’s gnawing is constant. She is a chewer. I hear her chewing as I type on my laptop, read, watch tv or drift off to sleep.

I’ve been taking Abby to the garden with me. It is our special time.  All I have to do is put on my old tennis shoes and Abby’s eyes widen, her ears go up.

She is asking.

“You can go,” I say.

Abby’s eyes shine, she smiles, her tail wags and she prances as we go out the door. Once outside she hurries to sniff the groundhog hole by the compost pile. She digs a little. Then she settles down in the shade and watches while I weed. Without her partner in crime, she doesn’t run away.

 But, even more than the garden, Abby likes being with me in the kitchen. Pie dough’s her favorite of favorites. It turns her into a greedy begger–one that barks if pie crusts are rolled out and no trimmings come her way.

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Poor Abby has to go to the vet and be WEIGHED.

However, Abby’s chubbiness pales in comparison to Bigg’s bigness. I don’t know how long it has been since Biggs has had a checkup or vaccinations. So she needs to go to the vet, too.

And she will be weighed.

In all fairness, the cat was not small when my daughter gave her to us. DH and I said, when we first saw her, that Biggs lived up to her name. But, despite my daughter’s instructions to feed Biggs limited amounts of dry cat food only twice a day, Biggs quickly discovered Simba and Kitty only eat Fancy Feast. 

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Biggs is mad because there’s hard cat  food in her bowl.

She was a quick convert.

She not only swats Kitty and Simba away from the Fancy Feast until she polishes off as much as both of them used to eat combined, she meows and rubs against DH when he puts whipped cream on my coffee with cinammon…until DH gives Biggs her own little pile of whipped cream. 

Biggs hasn’t slimmed down under our care.

Pie dough, whipped cream, the cans of Fancy Feast, why are the things which give loved ones the most pleasure so often what you have to deny them?

 I am cringing at having to face those scales. And the vet.

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Whipped cream with cinammon on sweetened coffee.

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Skipper being led to the riding enclosure by DH’s nephew.

Skipper reared today.

I’ve had him for almost 3 years and he’s been a dream. He is 15 years old. A former child’s 4-H pleasure champion with perfect gaits, he’s child safe and has good sense. Or at least that’s what I thought. 

My other horse, Summer, is six. She’s flighty and nervous. She loves DH, tolerates me and is wary of everyone else. I also saw her buck like a bronc soon after I got her. 

A birthday present from DH the first year we were married, she was by far, my best birthday present ever. Perfectly proportioned, with a tiny head and ears, intelligent alert eyes and a typical quarter horse rump, Summer is a gorgeous bay. Her red coat gleams, her muzzle sock, mane and tail are coaly black. Her eyes are are exotically rimmed in black. I fell in love immediately. However, it was soon apparent that she needed work. She didn’t neck rein. She was nervous and spooked easily.  She stomped her feet, turned her rear toward me in the stall, crowded people, used them for scratching posts and worse sometimes flattened her ears and threatened if approached. 

blog-pictures-5-020.jpg  Summer & I.

I hired a horsetrainer who said she had an attitude problem and took her off to his farm for two months of schooling. That’s where I saw her buck. DH and I were at the trainers  watching her being schooled. The trainer was showing us what they’d been working on. Summer saw us by the fence and decided she’d had enough training. She bucked. She bucked as viciously and hard as any rodeo horse being spurred and abused. The trainer, whose hobby is rodeo contesting, stayed on. He got her calmed down, rode her until she was tired and then I forced myself to get on her back and rode her around the ring as instructed. I pretended to be calm because I didn’t want to show misgivings and hurt the trainer’s feelings. Or appear anything but thrilled with my birthday present. But, I was afraid.

Summer graduated from Training School and returned home. But our relationship was changed. Because I knew if she ever bucked that hard with me, I’d be a goner.

Today DH’s family joined us on the farm for a barbeque and DH’s nephews wanted to ride the horses. Marc, is an experienced rider and he rides Summer on every visit. I think he likes knowing of her wicked past and knowing he is skilled enough to deal with it.

Steven rode Skipper, formerly known as the “one anybody can ride”.

Steven was holding Skipper to a walk and Summer got ahead. Which wouldn’t have been a huge problem except Marc wanted to go faster and Steven still wanted to walk. That’s when disaster struck. Skipper wanted to run too. He reared and did some wimpy bucks. There was no danger of Steven being thrown. But, he was nervous and done riding.

Steven got off. Now Skipper was proud as punch. Nostrils flaring, he pranced when I lugged myself up into the saddle cursing (in my head) that I was wearing my too tight skinny jeans.  But, no way was I going to reward him for his antics. Skinny jeans and hot sun notwithstanding, we were going to walk, trot and canter around the enclosure until Skipper didn’t care which horse was first.

And we did.

Summer, I am proud to say, was a perfect lady the whole time.

blog-pictures-5-021.jpg Summer talks & gives kisses.

For dinner we had grilled pork chops, pasta salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with sour cream, green beens from the garden, sweet corn from Mrs. Weaver’s vegetable stand, coleslaw (from the grocery deli) and cherry pie (from our farmer’s market).

dsc00320.jpg Getting the cucumbers and onions ready.

SOUR CREAM CUCUMBERS

Sour cream cucumbers are a popular dish at midwest family gatherings. They always make me think of summer and my mother’s garden.

2 large cucumbers peeled and sliced

1 onion sliced into rings

3/4 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl combine the cucumber and onion. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers. Mix well. Chill.

 UPDATE: Rockyroadoflove has suggested an old southern method to make these cucumbers more crisp and flavorful. She uses salted ice water and says it works wonders for cucumbers. My cucumbers were good as they were, but I think Rockyroadoflove’s technique will make them even better.

Rockyroadoflove’s cucumber article is here:
http://rockyroadoflove.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/marinated-cucumbers-in-sour-cream/

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Sour cream cucumbers with mixed herbs sprinkled over them.

dsc00328.jpg
Pasta salad with fresh tomatoes and creamy parmesan dressing.

I cheated with my pasta and used a box of Betty Crocker’s Suddenly Pasta mix. I followed the directions on the box and then added fresh, lightly salted cut up tomatoes. I sprinkled herbs over them also, hoping they would look more homemade.

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The green beans are snapped and ready and the corn is being shucked.

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