Sunday, February 14, 2010

So I'm filling up the back of the mule with hay to drive it into the field. Then I put the muck buckets in the back of the mule and drive to the compost pile. They are really heavy ( part of my weight lifting for health :) ) so instead of lifting them off, I back up to the pile and tip them out. If there are left over bits I sweep them out with my glove.

And now I'm thinking, do the horses mind that bits of their pooh may touch their food? I know that I would mind. I would mind a whole bunch.

If they DO mind, how would I know?? They can't stop eating it because there is no grass right now. Well, I suppose there is grass, but I haven't seen any of it for weeks, 'cause it is buried under all the snow. They dig down and nose around, but it can't sustain them. And the hay is gone when I next come out.

I certainly don't wash the mule between jobs. Even discounting the time that would take, in this weather the mule would be an icicle. It will be in the 30s all week and hasn't been above 40 since forever. In the summer I only used the mule to transport me and pooh. They ate grass during the day and hay in their stalls at need for the mule.

OK. Here I must digress. I really want to name it something fun. I'm not all that enamored with Saki....don't tell Mom. I can't really call her Molly, because I may offend Molly in Laguna Niguel. She's red and I got her for my birthday. I have considered Roja, but I like Ruby better. I have thought of Ana for compleanos. I thought maybe a Tongan or Hawaiian name because I have lived in both places, but I can't think of a short, cute name that fits. I sure wish I could get some cute ideas. I think of it as a girl, so if you give me a suggestion, make it a girl's name. I have started calling Lee's formerly Red and White truck, now Orange and Whitish, that has a bunch of rust holes, Rusty. Actually Trusty Rusty because it has gotten us up and down our hill in weather that none of our other newer and more expensive vehicles has. Rusty and Ruby would be cute, right??

Anyway, back to the pooh issue. Can I consider the fact that they eat the food and ignore the fact they have have no choice? I think I have to for now. I guess if it doesn't bother me, it won't bother them. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oatmeal Trail Mix Scotchies

OK. I can't think of a catchy name for these cookies. I was originally going to make the oatmeal scotchies that you find on the package of butterscotch morsels. Then I remembered Cathy at work REALLY likes chocolate. I thought I would substitute a few chocolate chips. I usually add nuts and I have some walnuts, but I like to add peanuts sometimes. The only peanuts I had were salted in the shell, so then I had to crack the shells and rub off the red skins. Then I thought to make them like trail mix and add both nuts and then I would throw in a few Craisins. So here we go...

Preheat oven to 375.

1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

First cream the 2 sticks of butter. Then add the other ingredients in order. The recipe calls for the soda, cinnamon and salt to be added to flour in a separate bowl. I don't like to dirty bowls so I do it this way. I also measure in this order so I don't get a wet vanilla spoon that I have to hold when measuring out the dry stuff.

When they are all mixed add 1 1/4 cups flour a little at a time. This is what the recipe calls for. I like the cookies to hold their shape and not to flatten out so I add another almost full scoop of the 1/4 cup size measure. So, I put in about 1 1/2 cups of flour.

Then add 3 cups oatmeal. I'm sure you still have some from making the strawberry oatmeal from a previous post :)

I put about 1 1/4 cups butterscotch morsels in a measuring cup, then added about 3/4 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup Craisins and about 1/2 cup walnuts and peanuts, chopped. The measurements aren't critical. You just have to have enough dough to hold together! I use a KitchenAid as it is hard to stir at this point.

I use a small scoop to make the cookies uniform. It also is a fast way to get them on the cookie sheet. This is where I have to tell you to invest in some Silpat cookie sheets. They are pricey but I have never had to buy one...Thanks, Lee. They are washable and you never have to grease a cookie sheet or scrape a stuck cookie off a sheet again!! Worth it!!

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. When you remove a sheet from the oven let it sit for 2 minutes so the cookies can firm up before removing them to a cooling rack. This makes about 4 dozen. Half of which goes to work and the other half to my waist.

The Ugly Aspect of Snow Days

We keep hearing how this is the worst winter in fifty years, or something like that. Then I hear Blacksburg has had about the same snowfall as Anchorage, AK. Our first winter sure didn't prepare us for this one. On the other hand, we may have just pulled up stakes and gone home and at least we have the hope of a better winter in the future. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if we had a paved road. At least then we could scrape to the asphalt and the blacktop would help melt the snow. We will have to look into that in the future.

Lee plowed both driveways. Now they are an ugly, melting, muddy mess. The plowed roads are ugly and narrow.

As the snow melts, it makes little rivulets that dig holes and fissures in the road. When you drive on it the tires throw the mud up onto the undercarriage and along the sides of the vehicles. This also means Lee will have to scrape it again as soon as the surface dries...only to start over again at the next snow. While I go work in a climate controlled library. Poor thing.

See the pretty horses in the field? See the red mule (current name Saki, short for Kawasaki, but we are open to suggestions) stuck in the snow with the pretty horses? Lee had to go get the tractor....again...and plow a road to get Saki out of the field. This snow fall wasn't that deep, but added to the last one made it too deep, but only when you got halfway into the field! See Rebecca and Lee snipe at each other???

Actually we got it out with a minimum of fuss and I made scones for break. Then I made cookies and I am including the recipe.

Friday, February 5, 2010

MORE snow???

It's funny how your perspective changes. Two years ago a 38 degree day wouldn't seem warm. 32 degrees would be very much too cold. Yet, Wednesday morning it was going to get to 38 degrees and I decided it was warm and took the blankets off the horses.

It had been in the teens for days and 32 has been the high more than this part of Virginia has seen in years. Our first winter here with one snowfall that lasted less than a week and one that barely lasted a day did not prepare us for the weather we have now.

I don't like to leave the blankets on when it is warm - above 32 degrees being considered warm these days. I worry they will rub and cause a sore spot on the horses that I can't see. On the other hand, I know that standing in snow about 8 inches deep has got to be colder than the air temperature which is in the high 30s. Nonetheless, I left them naked. Libby does have a few spots without hair. They don't look red, just bare and I don't know if they are from the blankets or tussling with Claire or what caused them.

The first thing Claire did was roll in the snow. I wish I had had my camera, but I can't touch the right buttons with my gloves on. I guess Claire was scratching an itch. She also scrubbed the side of her face in the snow. I wondered if she had an itch or if she was just glad to be rid of the blanket. Maybe she just likes the snow! It's just one more instance where I wish they could talk!

Today, only two days later, all the county offices are closed. Only people with an emergency should be out on the road. I guess getting a book is not an emergency. It would be for me if I didn't have one, but I have a nice healthy stack next to my bed! I can barely see to the railroad tracks, which is the border of our property. I like snow when I don't have to get out to the airport to pick up returning children (adult children are still children) and I don't have to go to work. Then I can just enjoy the flakes drifting down and watching them pile up on fences and tree limbs. I had to put the blankets back on and the horses are stuck in the barn for the day. We put them out to clean stalls and feed them and they hung around the doors waiting to get back in!

I don't hate the cold days as much now that I have my lined, water-resistant coveralls. I also wear two pairs of gloves and a hat. All of this over jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. I wear rubber boots with thick socks in no matter what the weather is. I am only putting in this picture as I doubt I will ever be recognized!

The tree outside our back windows was also sporting two twitching bluebirds. The twitching was an effort to dislodge the snow and I felt bad that they had no houses that I could see. I will get some before next winter, but they'll have to be on tall posts, otherwise they will be a buffet for our cats. I hate to let them out for they sometimes return with some hapless rodent or bird. I guess if our pampered city cats can catch them they would eventually fall prey to native predators. Our only contribution to the cycle of life is to throw the poor wee beasties down the hill to feed whatever animal gets there first.

So I decided to stay in and do a bit of writing. Then I will fix a hot chocolate and read for a bit. I have plans to make Oatmeal Scotchies and I have a new recipe for scones. They are Pineapple Lime Scones with a cinnamon struesel kneaded throughout. (I got the recipe from Victorian House scones. They come to all the Mid-Atlantic Innkeeper Conferences. You can find them on the Internet if you are looking for scone recipes!) This is going to be a great weekend!! All except for going to the barn in the snow and freezing my scones off!