Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another Kind Of Invasion

Tara grew up in Orange County. She likes manicures and pedicures and facials. She likes new clothes and eating at ethnic food restaurants, all vegetarian, of course. What she does not like it stinky, yucky, scary or gross things. We have all that here in Buchanan.

I find the variety of strange insect life to be fascinating. Tara wants to go in the house. Here are just a few bugs outside the garage door Friday morning.

On top of this,Tara has expressed a great fear of bears coming through our woods to eat her or maybe the cats. We have always tried to calm her by telling her that there is too much clear farm land for that to happen. She loves to hear about bear sightings, but it also scares her. I saw bears on my way to work two times in the last month. I always call her and tell her and then remind her that they will never come here.

Last Wednesday, around 3:00 Lee walked out of the shop with RJ. It had gotten too hot to work. As they started for the house, Lee saw a young black bear up on his hind legs. RJ took off after the bear. It dropped down and ran around behind the house with the dog chasing it. Lee ran after the dog, yelling for him to come. By the time Lee got around the house ,the dog was at the top of the hill barking and the bear was long gone. Lee was scared for the dog. I was scared for Lee. And the dog had a great time. I hope the bear was scared and never comes back.

Tara came home that evening and parked where she always parks. She got out and unloaded her car. Then Lee told her that the spot she always parked in was where he had seen the bear.

"I told you a bear could come here. Didn't I tell you? I knew it." Daughter knows best.

We Have Been Invaded!

The invasion has begun. My brother, who is a big cheese in the Department of Energy, but not one of the stinky kinds, and is also a biologist, has informed me that it has only started. I have to completely obliterate all evidence of the invasion or it will only get worse each year.

Last year barn swallows kept building nests on top of the fluorescent light fixtures. Lee kept knocking them down and eventually they went away. What we did not know is that they come back and can smell where they have been. So now they are back and have two nests, but only one with babies. I wouldn't knock down a nest with babies in it and a good thing, too, as Roland ( my brother) tells me that would be illegal. Not that anyone would know what I do in my little barn in the middle of nowhere. But I still wouldn't want to do anything illegal...or at least I wouldn't want to get caught!!

Roland told me that I have to completely obliterate the evidence....poop and nests, as they can smell their spit in the nest and the poop, well, good luck with that. There are HORSES in this barn and massive piles of processed hay are a daily event. Preposterous pile of processed ....OK I ran out of Ps. So if they can follow their noses (beaks?) back to this barn, we have to do some serious cleaning. I told Roland that I thought we could build little blocks of wood with nails poking through the top to discourage them. He said they can build nests in corners. We have to get rid of everything or parents and babies will come back. They probably will anyway, but we will make the effort.

But not now. Now we have cute little babies. They are very quiet for baby birds. No constant peeping. I guess that is a survival thing. They have feathers, now, so I guess they will be leaving soon. Every time we go into the barn, the parents come swooping out. They fly around outside in great agitation.

A few days ago Lee found one of the just fledged babies on the ground outside the barn. Flying lessons must have commenced. RJ was VERY interested in it. Lee had to put him away and shoo the bird away from the mouth of the barn. He flew in short hops into the taller grass. The next evening I saw that all three babies were back in the nest, so I guess he managed to get back home on his own. They are getting big so the nest is getting crowded. I think the teenagers will have to move on soon. Empty nest syndrome, here we come. I don't think it will be the problem for me that some people have.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Weed Eater

I hate using the weed that a proper verb? I don't actually eat the weeds, well, except for the bits that fly at my face and arms and the rocks that smack me in the face and the sap and bugs and other detritus that fly into my mouth when I forget to keep it closed. Yuck.

So anyway, with all the visitors we have had, we haven't gotten around to clearing the brush along the drive. And while I hate the doing of it, I like the way it looks. Almost like it is mowed grass. Of course, a close up look will tell you that is is weeds and grass, but from a distance it looks great.

When we first moved in it took weeks to get it cleared. You couldn't just use a weed eater. You had to get in there with loppers and clippers and hand saws. I didn't want it to get to the point it was when we got here, so I had to get out. Yesterday was quite a bit cooler than it has been. Today is going to be a scorcher. So we worked about 2 hours yesterday and a little less today. I forgot to take my camera yesterday morning to show the area around the stream bed, but here is a before and after of the work we did today. Doesn't it look better? Please say yes.

One thing we started way back when we moved in, is clear around any trees we think are in a good location...not too close to the drive..and of a variety we want to encourage...pine, poplar and basically anything that is not a locust (HUGE thorns) or a cedar. Sometimes you get in such a zone of moving the weed eater in a swaying motion, side to side, that you can hit a young tree that you intended to save. I feel bad, but then there are lots of trees and another one will pop up soon.

So we have cleared out and encouraged the trees in order to get a pleasing entrance to our house. I love the look of tree lined drives, but we did not want to buy a bunch of trees and then hand water them until they, the drive it about 1/3 of a mile. That is a LOT of trees. So we encourage the ones we want and chop down ruthlessly (yes, we do it without any ruth at all) the ones that don't fit our criteria! I think it is starting to look great and we have a few pines on the left side coming up that I think will be great someday. One more advantage of tree lined drives, especially pine, is they drop leaves or needles and limit the whole weed eating nonsense in the first place. You see? A method to our madness.

And look what I found hiding! Time to start making jam!

Gingerbread Pancakes

My wonderful Aunt Suzy brought me a mix for gingerbread pancakes. When I went to open it today, I noticed that the expiration date had passed and it made a hissing sound when I opened it. Oh, my. And I had my heart ( mouth? stomach? ) set on them. I checked out the ingredients and decided I could try to duplicate it.

Gingerbread Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick
1 cup milk
2 eggs
and here is where I played around with it, you can adjust it to taste.

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (Mmm, what is that?) I used about 1/4 of a nut that I grated into the mix.
and about 2 TBL molasses.

Mix it all up and cook on a hot griddle as usual.

I served ours with strawberries. Yumm-oh!

Candy Bar Pizza

I haven't done a recipe in awhile, so here is one. Tara has a gluten allergy, so I will do one for her. Unless oatmeal is one of the things you are allergic to, this should be OK.

Candy Bar Pizza


2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 TBL butter, melted
2 TBL chunky peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the oats, brown sugar and corn syrup in a medium bowl...I used a stand mixer. Add the butter, peanut butter and vanilla and mix well. Divide the mixture in half and press into two 9 inch cake pans that you have sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. It will be kind of puffy and flatten out when you cool it for 10 minutes in the pan.

(Hint: I used the side of a spatula to press it into the pan and then when it was cool I used the same spatula to make an indentation around the inside of the crust so there was a slightly raised edge around the pizza to hold the rest of the ingredients.)


26 caramels
2 TBL water
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
2 tsp shortening (I used Crisco)
1/2 cup salted peanuts

This is the most time consuming part. Unwrapping all those caramels! OK. Take one for yourself. Put the unwrapped caramels in a medium bowl and microwave for around 2 minutes. Stir after one minute and watch closely so you don't burn them. If you do, you still have enough left in the bag....unless you ate too many while you were unwrapping! I said ONE. Stir the caramels until they are smooth and drizzle all over the pizza. You may have to spread it a bit with the spatula. Then melt the chocolate chips in another medium bowl. (I know! A lot of dishes to wash!) Stir the chocolate after 1 minute and then microwave in 30 second increments. Stir and see if they are all melted. Add the peanut butter and shortening, stir until blended. Add the peanuts, stir and then spread carefully over the caramel layers.

Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

It worked best for me to keep it in the fridge. It is roastingly hot and humid here, so that may have something to do with it. The caramel tends to ooze out if you leave it on the counter. Pop it out of the pan and cut it with a large knife or a large pizza wheel. It will take a bit of muscle, but totally worth it! I plan on keeping it in the fridge.

Friday, July 2, 2010

RJ the Great Hunter

RJ is turning out to be an excellent dog. He understands sit, down and stay. He understands stay, but can only contain his enthusiasm for a short time. RJ walks on a leash and we are working on the concept of heeling.

He knows he is not supposed to jump on people, but sometimes his excitement takes over. he'll sit, squirm in place, then leap up and jump on and circle you while licking any body part he can reach.

Lately he has become a great hunter. He love, love, loves to chase the rabbits that are all over the farm. They particularly love the front lawn. I worry about what he would do if he catches one, but he enjoys the chase so much I hate to call him back.

He also loves to chase deer. I don't worry about him catching them!

RJ loves to collect things from around the farm and bring them to the house to chew. I think...hope...that we have discouraged him from collecting things from around the house to chew!. He brings his finds to the house and crunches away on them. I'm a little leery about taking them away from him. I don't worry about being bitten, only about being grossed out.

A few days ago he let me take what sounded like a bone or rock out of his mouth. It was the top to a box turtle shell. I have no clue what happened to the rest of the poor wee beastie. He has founds parts of a skull, maybe a deer, that he seems fond of. And this week he found the skull and spine of a snake. I assume it got caught during haying and the birds and insects took care of the rest of it. THAT I took away from him. Blech!

Lee has been working in the shop building work benches and shelves. RJ disappeared up the hill into the woods. When he didn't return, Lee called him. He came running down the hill, with his head held high and a long white object in his mouth. It turned out to be a 3 point antler. After much chewing and worrying of it, RJ now has a 2 point antler! Lee keeps it in the shop in order to keep RJ's mouth busy. When it is not occupied, it tends to find screws, tools, wood bits or, on one spectacular occasion, a used oil filter in a box that he dragged out, dribbling oil all the way.

So now the big game hunter gets his antlers when in the barn.

Nature Repeats Itself

I didn't pick the vegetable for a few days. We had a bunch of huge zucchini and yellow squash. And then we got this.

No comment.

I took it to work. Rena said, "You are what you eat." And then laughed for five minutes, repeating it over and over.

No comment