Monday, December 19, 2016

December up to December 19 - Life back to Normal

Things have finally settled  down.  MIL's surgery is over.  She is ensconced in a very luxurious skilled nursing home that is part of the complex where she lives in an assisted living apartment.  She is loving it!  (as I knew she would).  She is optimistic that she will recover fully and we do hope she is right.  Update:  She is dressing herself and using a wheeled walker, doing very, very well.  She is determined to be back to her apartment.  We feel she will.

This is the first time since her fall that Max  and I have felt like we can just relax and live our quiet rural lives.  (bet she calls today with something she wants from her apartment.  I have lost track of how many trips we have made for various little bits and pieces).  Update:  After sorting through her huge closet of clothes, I picked 6 outfits that would work over her wrapping and we delivered them. So trips have let up.

I plan to bake bread.  First time I have felt I dared start that project.  I am also putting on a large pot of
beans. Update:  baked that bread several days ago and am ready to bake again.

We are awaiting our two day extreme cold blast.  Down near zero and high of 17°

Back again 12/19/16.  It seems I can never just sit down and write a post....I may be slowing down!

The cold front  arrived, near zero last two nights.  I think today is our last of the severe cold.  We made it without any water lines freezing.  We live in an old farmhouse and have to keep water dripping when the temperatures drop to l0° or lower.  Max has survived doing chores. Sure glad we bought the truck to feed hay with.  We should have done that years ago.

I did make bread again.  It seems I never make it exactly the same.  This time I used a mix of regular whole wheat, bread flour and oat bran to make a softer loaf than the last bread.  It also rose higher.  

I made something I have made maybe once before, gingerbread.  I don't think it was Max's favorite.  It was pretty dense and heavy.  I don't know if that is  normal or not.  I liked it.

We are back to feeding the birds. The truth is Max is feeding the birds daily.

My pictures are not the best.   I seem to have lost what little skill I had with this camera.

One other little funny story of life on our farm.  The chickens had practically quit laying.  We were just getting l a day and then,

Max went inside the hen house and found these in a top nest  that isn't accessible from the drop-down door outside.  I tested and all were good; we are now getting 3 a day......much better.  Some are molting and the weather and short days are responsible for the drop.

All for now. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Medical Advice to Everyone

A lot has happened since last post; most not good.

We had postponed our Thanksgiving dinner until Friday so both kids could be here.  They had just helped my  MIL into the house and she was standing in the kitchen  doorway holding to  the frame  and suddenly went straight down.  We rushed to her and saw her leg was bent about 5 inches above her foot in a 45 degree angle.  We called the ambulance.  Max and our son went to ER with her....I  was left  to feed  dinner to remaining family.  It was a very subdued dinner.

In the ER they straightened her leg and wrapped it from  foot to just below her knee.  The orthopedic surgeon who happened to be in the hospital answered the call and did that.  He also told them how he treats this kind of break ;  wrap, wait l0 to l4 days before surgery so all swelling is gone. The patient is then sent to  a skilled nursing facility for this time. Of course this conversation was not where Max or Steve could hear.   Instead, the first mistake happened.  They admitted her telling us they would do surgery in 4-5days.  For the next 4 days someone would tell her each day, no surgery today,  maybe tomorrow.  Finally at day 4 I decided to see what was happening.  The surgeon, who actually called and talked to me in her room, apologized and repeated what he told the ER.  I worked with a nurse liaison person, a patient rep. (social worker), her on duty RN, a Nurse Practitioner from the surgery group, the hospitalist.  We were  first told her insurance and Medicare would not cover her stay past two days and none of her Skilled Nursing Care.  They printed off the rules.....!  I protested loudly and reminded them non of this was not her fault.....finally after them appealing to two different doctors who reviewed her case, at 4 pm.  they told us all was covered and would be for the l00 day rehab time.

Next step is I am getting her out the the present skilled  facility asap.  I don't know if I can do it before her scheduled surgery on Tuesday or not but she is not going back to it after.  They gave already made two errors.  Her leg was swollen above the wrap and no one had checked that leg at all the night she was brought in nor all day yesterday until I called and asked  the RN to do so......still waiting for a call to see if the resident doctor sees it today.  Sylvia also told me no one checked it in the hospital.  Unbelievable.

I guess we could just set our old folks out on an ice floe and push them off shore like some cultures used to do.  They are almost treated as disposable people.

People let this be a lesson!  If the patient cannot be his or her own advocate,  they must have someone representing them who cares. 

OK.  Rant done.  This was very scary to me.  I used to think once under hospital care you could relax and quit worrying......wrong!!!

Something pleasant now:

My internet provider installed new equipment at no charge to work with their new system and it almost  doubled my speed and clarity.  I am a happy person. I stream lot of things  from Amazon and Netflix on my computer.

Second, my red maple finally got color.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mincemeat Time Again

We are having a beautiful cool fall day with bright sunshine.  I have hopes of working outside this afternoon.

My sis and I were both out of my mincemeat so three days ago I made up a new batch.  It just makes about 2.5 quarts which is enough for both of us.  Mostly we use it in cookies or turnovers.  I love making it.  I got a shock though when I got out Mom's old Kitchen Aid grinder that fits my new mixer.  I had forgotten that it cracked in half last year.  All was not lost.  I used  my trusty old (and I do mean old) Cuisinart processor and got everything blended nicely.  This year I just used a fruit cake mix in place of candied orange peel.  I also ground a whole orange with skin for that citrus flavor.  I think it is better than last year.....maybe just because it is fresh.  I added about 1/2 cup of brandy and let it ripen at room temperature before bagging and freezing.

I just had to test it this morning.  Part of the motivation was I needed to make pie crusts ahead for Thanksgiving.  I use Nathan's Never-Fail recipe that makes 6 crusts.  I used one for turnovers.

They are fairly low in calories for a dessert, around 90 at my 4 inch size. 
Max will be pleased when he gets back from errands.  Mincemeat is not his favorite but by now he will fall on them with glee!

It seems we have been so busy with errands for the last several days we haven't got much else accomplished.  I hope that stops...I still have to shop for a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.


The new red mum is actually a bronze color.

 This is probably the last dahlia to survive the frosts. 


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Almost Second Week of November Post

Well, it's been 9 days this time.....not too bad for me.

We are finally having much cooler weather, even cooler than normal for November.  Several spotty frosts but still not a hard freeze.  I had left my pumpkin harvest buried on the ground amidst the ribbon grass or whatever it is.  I just threw a comforter over them.  I think they will be fine.

I took a short tour of the yard a few minutes ago.  It was lovely in the bright sunshine....didn't even wear a jacket.  The following are some pictures of the fall yard:

This is the cistern planter chock full of lemon thyme and chives. I have cut both back several times.  I need to harvest some for the freezer next.

This is the self-seeded parsley bed I planted about 4 years ago.  It keeps coming back and I am delighted.  I will cut some for the freezer very soon.

If I knew how I would delete the trash can......I  don't.  This is the whiskey barrel with more herbs.  Rosemary which needed to be lifted and brought inside, chocolate mint and oregano.   The purple sage does not taste the same and the regular one.  I will be looking for it next spring.
The above is a clump of white petunias that must be from Rainmaster I planted a couple of years ago.  However this one does not have the markings on the flowers.  I keep watching for seed pods but so far, haven't seen any.  Very curious.  At one time you could buy Rainmaster seeds then they began selling only the plants.  I haven't quite figured that out yet. 

The cooking isn't quite what it once was.  I am being diligent  about baking sweets since Max's HA.  I did bake this chocolate cake for our friend's family.  She is our daughter's age and broke some lower vertebrae  in her spine and damaged her  tail bone riding in some horse competition.  She is now home in a body brace and using a walker for  weeks...

This is my go to cake and the one our grandson and his friends always request.
It was painful not to cut a piece, but I resisted.  DH wanted me to bake one for us....I didn't. Here is the recipe with two icings.  Max prefers the chocolate. 
Fabulous Fudge Cake
(I call this the boys' cake made for Ry and his friends)

First made during January 2006 ice storm when Steve and family came down and cleaned up the yard of debris.

I iced it with ganache (recipe follow cake)

You will need: Regular flour, baking soda, butter,brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, unsweetened chocolate squares and sour cream.

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ but butter
2-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 (l oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1cup sour cream
1 cup boiling water.

Preheat Oven to 350°

Sift together dry ingredients in bowl and set aside

In large mixer bowl beat ½ cup butter and 2-1/2 cups brown sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Add vanilla and melted chocolate, mix and add ½ the sour cream and ½ the dry ingredients to butter mixture ; blend well.
Add remaining sour cream and dry ingredients to batter. Stir in boiling water

Bake in greased 9x13 pan for 35 minutes.

Cool and ice.


shopping: 8 oz. Semi-sweet or bittersweet choc chips, heavy whipping cream, butter

8 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate chips or bittersweet cut into pieces. I used good quality like Giardelli.
¾ cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
l tablespoon brandy (opt)

Place chocolate in medium stainless steel bowl; set aside.
Heat cream and butter in medium pan over medium heat. Bring just to the boil.
Immediately pour over chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. I sometimes
add a little brandy for flavor.

Ice cake
this same ganache can be used to make truffles. First chill the chocolate mix really well. Form into small balls with hands (very messy)Can roll in chopped nuts or rolled in powdered sugar.

Another icing that goes well the the cake is this:

½ cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1-3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and boil about 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup milk and bring to a boil. Place pan in cold water and stir in confectioners sugar. Stir until smooth spread over warm cake.

I am still making our oatmeal bread though.

We have begun our round of doctors after the ER.  This last one was to a Primary Care doctor, listed as a follow-up ER appointment. I will not voice my opinion of all these intrusions into our private lives.  We are to see her again in 3 months (or not).  DH seems very willing this time to follow to the letter the new policies our health care is made up of.  It is his decision.  I am not in the system.......yet.

Have a  super week.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bagel time

Our cooler weather has arrived and because of all the moisture we are under a fog warning.

We can't even catch a hint of  the red barn behind the Elm tree that we usually see.

I haven't  made bagels in a long  time.  My Sis was talking  about eating a bagel for breakfast this morning I have a batch on the rise!
I did make our favorite Hodgson Mills Honey Wheat bread recipe day before yesterday. It makes  enough for three loaves.  This time I  made two and buns.

Max is the cat whisperer here.  They follow him chore to  chore.  He is also the person who feeds and pets them (when allowed).  This is our senior gray  cat sitting patiently by the back door waiting for his lord and master to appear.

Not much left in the flowers, still loving the intense blue the salvia 'Victoria' gets with cooler weather.  She will soon be gone.  This grouping has white petunias (ss), sedum and two roses that are out of bloom now.  Tomato cages near tree, pruned clump  of Herbstonne rudbeckia,  The remaining green is oenothera speciosa which somehow ended up here from the front  ditch.  I plan to let it take over as a  ground cover.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Day in the Life ---- Rendering Lard and other Day to Day Doings

We are still enjoying very nice weather.  The temperatures are running about 10° higher than the norm.

This past week, we picked up the processed hog our son had ordered.  He never wants the liver or the ground up fat.  I take these gladly.  I made lard.  I placed the thawed, ground fat in  my maslin pan.  Added a cup or more of water so it would scorch on the bottom and placed the pan on low.  I was careful this time to not let the cracklings get to the brown crunchy stage.  That doesn't ruin the lard but gives it a tan  color and a little pig taste that makes it not good for pie crusts.

I have over done that before.  I never use the cracklings (the chickens get that).  It doesn't take long.  I then strain the fat through two layers of cheese cloth and pour into containers to store.  This time, I got smart and put it in shorter glass jars. Easier to dip into.

I just wish I had greater access to the fat.  I have asked the processor but he doesn't save it.  I am betting he has a source he sells it  to if the people don't want it.

The lard from the stores is partially hydrogenated which is what I am trying to avoid.

I finally cleaned the pumpkin patch.  It filled  the garden cart heaping full. Found three more pumpkins bringing the total harvest to a self seeded vine to 13.  All from one seed.  Long Island Squash would always be my go-to pumpkin/squash.  It is a moschata type which are more resistant  to squash bugs.

I am almost finished cleaning the overgrowth of weeds from the  light pole bed around the propane  tank.  Still have some string trimmer work to complete it.

It doesn't look like much but suffice it to say before you could barely see the propane tank.

We have a new varmint laying about the yard.....thankfully he  doesn't eat anything!
This is part of the tree stump that I left laying....every time I mow he gives me a start! I love these kinds of varmints!  BTW, we caught another real one in the live trap  night before last, a possum.

We seem to have an endless supply.

I leave with an interesting view of the sky:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

We Set a Record

 For the hottest October.

We did get the promised rain;  a very light shower in the afternoon.  The morning was  cool and required a light jacket to work outside.....and I did.

I mowed around the Milk Parlor, the east side (not quite all of it) and the  area around the house.  Used the trimmer some.  I was stunned  with the trimmer.  I hadn't used it for quite some time and dreaded trying to start it......started on first pull!  That must be a first.

Of course I had to pick up the trimmed perilla and toss it to the other side of the border.  I am hoping that will help smother next seasons grass and weeds.  That area by the gas tank is huge and I still have the back near the tank to finish.

I worked about 2 hours and then quit when Max came back from checking cows.  He relocated them to the west half of the farm the other side of the lane that runs down the middle.

A lot of them bunched up next to the barn lot waiting for him.

The got very interested in my mower,

I saw more pumpkins while mowing  around the house, stopped and clipped them off and moved them to a cushion of grass to cure a little more.

Just a follow-up note on my cleaning the Milk Parlor:

No inside pictures, but this is the result.  I like how the morning sun shines behind making the trash look almost artistic....OK, that is pushing it a bit, but,

It is almost daylight, so I better get  busy.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Another Day on the Farm

I had another one of my nights.......came to the kitchen at 1:30 but finished the night in my recliner....up at 4 AM which is sleeping in for me.  I feel rested ready for another day of Milk Parlor cleaning. I would have shown before and after but the before was humiliating.......I might show after if it pleases me.

I now have filled two extra large trash cans....I am saving nothing in question.  Today I hope to finish.  Will put up the shelves and clean the floors good with a garden hose.  There are two floor drains  since it was a Milk Parlor and had to be cleaned daily.

You will not be seeing many baking pictures....I am being careful of calories for both of us.  Makes me sad but it is necessary.  I will still be baking whole grain breads.


This is what I was doing the morning of the HA. New trimmers at work again and the electric chainsaw.  I cut down the row of perilla that edges the light pole bed....some stems were so large and tough I had to use the saw.  I began pulling plants from the flower bed on the right when Max came in from the farm and said he was tired and going in.  I quit too. 
About an hour later he got sick.  The debris is still  laying there, curing.  I will get to it eventually.

This is Black and Blue Salvia, still looking very good.

This is a very dark purple buddleia on the corner of the shop 

I am seeing several re-blooms on the clematis.  This is H.F. Young

and this is Hagley Hybrid that grows on the rock well house south wall.
This is a native eupatorium.  I let grow.  You have to remove most of them or you would be wall-to-wall with them.  I will set this out in the front ditch soon.

I  will do more farm pictures next.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Chore Sharing

It is a perfect fall morning here.  Mid 50's and sun is almost up.  It will be a sunny day.

Well, day two of sharing chores is behind and it went well.  Of course I took my camera so have tons of cow pictures and some farm scenery.  Max just drove the farm truck and all gates were open so I only had to get out for some pictures; some were taken from the truck.

We got back and Jewel (the Jersey) was waiting for us.

Unfortunately, she decided she wanted to save the milk for her huge calf.  We just got one bottle.  We will show her! She was kept away from him last night again and we will milk this morning.  Surely she will let down and we will get a few bottles.

Max walked me through the milker routine again and then I went inside the parlor area and began the attack on the mess!  Max is great with the animals and set chores but he doesn't notice the surrounding things going undone.  It will take me a few days.  I already have a huge trash can filled.  I have a set of shelves to put up which will help with organization.

I did notice  that most of the farm needs clipping again and I am trying to talk him into having it done all at once.....I may have him convinced.

I will show some random shots of the farm:

This is one of the 'twin' ponds; the other is across the fence from this one.

This is a zoomed shot of the cow in the shadows above, drinking.

This above is what I will call the breeding circle.  When a cow is in heat, most young males and the mature bull will be circling her until she will stand still for him.  Bull is on left behind the cow.  I actually got a shot of him servicing her, bu twon't show that.

Our trees are just beginning to show color.  This is taken on the back 40.

The tall tree looking plant next to the house is a dwarf nandina bush that this year shot up to tree size.  I like it and will leave it be.
The one by the screened porch never gets over 4-5 feet tall which is the norm.

 This is the Korean Boxwood before clipping.  It was hiding the windows....I actually like it better this way, but it was getting out of control.
The new hedge cutters worked great.  It will look better in a few weeks when the stubby ends won't show quite so much.

Now a favorite rose picture.  This rose goes by several common names:  The first rose of summer; the last rose of the year, and Parsons rose.  It is a china rose and has been with me for many,  many years.  I keep my fingers crossed the mite that causes RRD doesn't find it tucked between the east building
 and the well house. 

 All for now.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Catch up Time Again

Hope you can follow this strange format.  I wrote on several different days...I am trying to keep it in order.....

We are enjoying beautiful fall weather. We have had some nice showers but nothing heavy. The cows are loving it too.

I have taken some time off from the painting project. The bottom freezer was calling out to me loud and long.....when the door doesn't slide out easily or close tightly, it is time to do something.
That was yesterday morning. I have made a solemn vow to never load it over half full and to keep one section exclusively for frozen breads...(we will see how long that lasts!)

I did this while letting French bread raise twice and then baking....all went well.
If I get ambitious I want to do the upright freezer on the porch. I hate these jobs.

Chickens are still laying but not as heavily. One chicken is trying to set again, bless her heart. When we had a rooster I would have been delighted. They are so stubborn about this.

Picking up again:

Still haven't done the upright freezer but did clean the refrigerator.

We got 2 inches of rain a couple of days ago and more this morning. It is supposed to warm up beginning tomorrow, just in the 80's which will be nice.

We have had the furnace on a couple of days but just for a little while to warm up the house and then off again.

P.S.  I did do the upright freezer. Hallelujah! 


Lots of news for us:

Most important is Max had a small heart attack last Tuesday. Rushed in ambulance to hospital. He now has three new stents to go with his two old ones. Good news is doctor said his heart muscle appears normal so no serious damage from his old heart attack in 2004 and this new one. He is back home on the routine heart meds and is feeling very good. We are out to do chores later this morning.
He is to take it easy for a few days so I am going for two reasons. I can drive (maybe) and open all gates (definitely). The other reason is I found while he was just gone overnight, I had forgotten some of the routine. I may go with him indefinitely (if he will allow) or at least often enough I am back in the groove. It will be good for me.

Now for the ordinary Life on the Farm stuff:  The mum project was before HA (heart attack,as our life will now be lived)

I bought some mums for the yard. I did a small planting on the top of the front ditch of two mums and two asters. These are between the very small Van Houttei spireas already out there. Plans are to fill in the lower level next to the road with natives and grasses and stop the trimming or spraying issue. I have lots of things I can use: Daylilies, grasses, sedums, salvias, and I will toss some seeds. This will become a wild bed. Still better than fighting Johnson grass and foxtail all year. I still have some oenothera left and can move some of it back to the ditch. It spreads like wildfire.

Can you see upper left the pink onenothera?  This is in the bottom of the ditch.  There are several smaller plants along here.  The seeds pop open and can shoot them a great distance.  I have them way down the road towards the neighbors.

The other mums were in front of the dining room foundation bed:

That is a blue salvia transylvanica center background and a Blue Angle clematis on the wire trellis.  It had lost all leaves due to clematis wilt and  I cut it down to 18 inches and was delighted to see it came back and has one lovely bloom.  It shows more lavender here but is really a very pale blue.

It is about 36 inches tall now.  May get a couple more blooms if the sporadic frosts don't kill them.

Speaking of:  Frost on the Pumpkin!

This is our second scattered frost.

The day Max got  sick, I had been out cutting the perilla and pulling out the Long  Island Cheese pumpkin vines.  They were beginning to die and looked dreadful.
So I cut of most of the pumpkins too.

 These leaves below were very crunchy with frost.

OK, I give up on putting these pictures side by side!

I have lots more pictures, but this is enough for now.

Crock Pot Roast is cooked and ready for dinner/lunch.