Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Almost ready to go

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We went out in the Argo this afternoon for a long ride, which was a great deal of fun, except when we slammed into a rock, and my knee hit the winch control... ouch. But what is fun without the bruises to prove it?

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The colors are peaking, I'm so glad we got to see them at their height before we leave for this trip. When we return they will be over, so we got to enjoy them a little bit and today was the prettiest day yet.

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Especially before sunset tonight.

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We went back to our cedar swamp today, somewhere we haven't been much since we've been home from our summer trip. We found a fresh buck scrape today, which is a sign to all does around, that he is around, and the best man in town. They scrape a spot with their antlers, pee in it, and then leave their hoof print.

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and I found this seed pod....

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Found lots of mushrooms back there, I think the extra rain has really been bringing them all out.

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We also found an Osprey nest, which is really neat

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AND something so exciting! We went out to check the mail and even found these guys:


The lake is starting to change color too....


on our new loop road, we found several new trees busted with the storms the past couple of nights. We got yet another storm last night full of heavy winds and rain.


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It was so nice to get out and just enjoy the forest before we leave. It was cool outside with a small breeze and blue skies, and this evening was even nicer. We had a beautiful sunset. I got several pictures of critters on rounds. Here are a couple to share of one of our local beavers, the one Kevin is always fighting because he keeps flooding one of our roads, and a snake...




Tomorrow will be a busy day of fixing the camper, finishing packing, getting hair cuts, and last minute groceries. I will post during our trip as I am able to. I know in Colorado I will have WIFI in the hotel, so I'll be able to update there if not sooner.

So for now, I put away my normal footwear, for something a little higher, and a little more difficult to walk in...


I can't believe tomorrow is the last day of September already. October is almost here. Oh and before I go, if you like chocolate cookies, make these. These were soooo good. Just be prepared you'll eat more of them than you want to, so keep that in mind.


You can find the recipe here :) 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thank you!


I just wanted to take a minute to thank each and everyone of my blog readers, old, and, new. I have so much fun being able to share some of the things that go on, in our forest home, my animals, the wild animals, and just the forest itself. I really appreciate you all taking the time to come and read and look at pictures and take a few minutes to visit with me and my family.

Is there something you'd like to see pictures of or read about in particular from our farm on the blog?

Wendell Barry wrote something that has always been close to my heart and pretty much sums up me, and how I feel about our forest haven:

"When despair for the world grows in me and I awake in the night at the least sound in fear of my life and my children's life maybe, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with fore thought of grief. I come into the presence of still water, and I feel above me the day - blind stars waiting for their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free."

Trail camera update

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After chores this morning, we went out to check our trail camera and see if we got pictures of anything.

On the way out we noticed our Big arm tree, one of the most remarkable and special trees on the property has been starting to show it's colors.

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We also noticed something very sad. In the recent storms, our big arm tree split in half. It's had a fungus for a few years now that we knew would eventually cause the tree to die. It is split now all the way down to the bottom.

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We hiked in to where our trail camera was set up and reviewed the chip on my camera. I brought it home to download into the computer because there were a couple pictures worth sharing. No bear though. Not yet. It's possible he's moved on from the area. But it's still very possible he just didn't happen by the camera over the past few days.

We got raccoons of course, which is almost a given out here.

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But we caught something that's rare to catch on camera. A Fisher. And we got several pictures of him. If you want to read about Fishers, you can read all about them here


Notice the long tails. This looks to be a large male.


We will re set the trail camera and review it after our trip.

We took a few pictures of the colors along the way to the trail that leads to our camera. Everything is really brilliant right now, but leaves are coming down quickly with the continuing winds.

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If you ever see a mushroom like this, don't eat it!

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This guy was just relaxing in a big puddle, enjoying the sunshine while it was available

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Our dinner on Sunday night went really well. Of course I forgot to take pictures, can you believe it? I will share the recipe for the butternut squash gratin, one of my favorite ways to cook squash, when I get home and make it again. Peter had two pieces of the maple syrup pie, which we left with them to finish off.

It's been cloudy but very humid the past few days, yesterday it rained all day. Today is the worst yet for humidity. I got most of the camper cleaned yesterday so today I just need to finish packing. I finally got a duvet, which is of course a very soft, stuffed, blanket. It's amazing. But it's so soft, it's difficult to get out of bed in the morning because I am too comfortable. It's also very, very, warm. I am going to bring it with us in the camper. We have never used the camper in the fall before, so it's going to be colder, below freezing in places. We have a propane furnace to keep us warm, but the extra blankets will also help.

Thursday morning Kevin will be taking the camper to hopefully get the oven fixed. It broke on us in Tok, Alaska, near the end of our trip so we came home without the use of it. Of course we could still use the stove top, but we don't want to go this entire trip without use of the oven.

So for now, back to packing and cleaning, and getting things organized.

Ahh! Before I go, I wanted to share this picture which Kevin took a couple weeks ago and I forgot to share....


Just a couple of my friends.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday treats




Banana cupcakes. Not just banana cupcakes, but with peanut butter frosting. Yum.

I used this recipe I found on, first look, then cook.

They turned out super delicious.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Frosting

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 8-ounce package light cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream and vanilla into bananas. Beat in sugar, butter, and eggs. Mix well. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, I use an ice cream scoop for this to make them even. Plus it's less messy.

Bake cupcakes until toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

Meanwhile for the icing, sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter. beat mixture until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes, dividing equally.

I found I had a lot of extra icing, so I made a second batch of cupcakes.

Because today is the only day I have left to do any serious cooking, and I promised our cousins a good meal before we left for our trip, I'll be cooking that this afternoon. I am baking ribs which takes about 4 hours. Also a maple syrup pie for them, butternut squash gratin, and mashed potatoes with turnip.

now, back to the kitchen for me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Evening storm and can dogs really swim?

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We had a bad storm last night, but only for about an hour. The hour while I was outside putting the animals away, letting the dogs out, getting ready for the night. Then as soon as I was in the house and done, it stopped raining. I'm not even exaggerating. The sky cleared and the stars came out. I was glad to see the stars come out because I was expecting a load of hay to be delivered this morning and if it was raining we'd have to delay.

We've been getting way too much heavy winds this past week. We've lost a lot of leaves, but the trees are still fairly full. We will miss most of the color here since we'll be traveling, but it will be interesting seeing the colors in the different places we travel to. And I'm sure the Rockies will be beautiful this time of year. I've only ever been out there in the late spring and summer.

This afternoon I needed to clear my head, and more importantly, my heart. So I went out to look at some of the color that is quite quickly showing up over the past couple days. I got some nice pictures of a few of our favorite spots.

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part of our lane

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and this is Chester, one of our resident chipmunks that frequently breaks into the house through the screens.

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then I tucked the animals into the barn for the night, safe, sound, cozy, and with lots of food to keep them busy and full.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the sheep flock ever. I would like to frame this one. All of them, all spread out and lined up, calling to me to put them to bed. Horace, my wether (neutered male) is turning white. I cannot believe it. Every year his wool comes in black. This year, it's coming in white. It is the strangest thing I've ever seen. This is his third year getting sheared. He'll be four years old in March.

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Braveheart AKA Lambie always takes the cutest pictures. Because he is blind, he holds his head up like this when he's listening

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and here is old Billy goat gruff, looking the part

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When I got in from putting everyone in the barn to bed, I decided to take a short walk with the dogs, since there was a nice cool breeze. We walked out to one of our first ponds, the turtle pond. It's a green pond covered in small lily pads with lots of frogs, turtles, wood ducks, and there is almost always a Great Blue Heron in the pond fishing. She flew away as soon as she saw Douglas coming. The dogs had a blast on the walk.

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When we got to the pond, I was looking around, watching Norman, taking pictures. I saw Douglas go over to the edge of the pond but figured he would just smell it. Nope. Seconds later I heard "Splash!" and Doug was in the pond. Sinking. He was nearly underwater when I tossed the camera in the grass and started into the pond, scared half to death he would drown, just his nose was left above water when he started slapping his paws in the water, and then voila.... he figured out how to doggy paddle. I was standing in the water, on the edge calling him to me with my arms out. He just kept swimming around, further out, and around in circles. I thought he was afraid but soon realized he wasn't afraid, he was having fun.

I finally got him to come to me, and out of the pond he jumped. He quickly started running around like a crazy thing, as usual, and then shook off a few dozen times. After I was done panicking and realized he could swim, it was quite hilarious and I laughed and laughed at him paddling around. He was so proud of himself. When he realized he could swim you could almost hear him yelling "I can swim, I can swim!"

Of course the pond is yucky. It stinks. And as soon as we got home, he had a very thorough bath with lots of shampoo. Which he hated. I always thought he hated water since he hates getting baths, but that's different than getting to swim on your own in stinky ponds I suppose! It's too bad it's fall, otherwise I would take him to the lake to swim with me. I will take him for a quick dip before we go if I can, otherwise he'll have to wait because the water will be too cold.

The only picture I got was him right after he got out, all wet

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Tomorrow our friend and local appliance guy will come and help us figure out what's wrong with the washing machine and see if we can fix it before we go away. I have to finish cleaning and re packing the camper. A lot of stuff from our trip to Alaska is still in there that does not need to be. I wasn't sure if the boys would be coming with us because we will be staying in a hotel room in Colorado for several nights and be busy there. But we'll also have the camper and the hotel accepts pets. I'd find it hard to leave them at home. Logic tells me it will be easier without them, but it might also be less enjoyable. Especially while on the road. We'll have the camper and be seeing all kinds of new and exciting things and I'd hate to leave them at home. So I'll have to pack their bags too!

For dinner tonight I needed something not labor intensive since I am exhausted. Something comforting sounded good too. So cabbage roll soup seemed to fit the bill. Basically it's cabbage roll ingredients, tossed in a soup pot. I really wish I could give you a real recipe, but I didn't measure anything. I really just tossed it all into a soup pot.


I boiled a head of cabbage, then browned some beef and onions, and drained that. I cut up the cabbage into little pieces and put it in a pot with the beef/onion mixture. Then I poured in a mixture of tomato sauce, tomato juice, water, salt, and, pepper. Seasoned it to taste.

Then I added in some minute rice and put a lid on it and waited to see what happened. It's really one of those "just eyeball it" recipes. It would be hard to mess up. Just make sure you have enough liquid, but not too much. I used 1 cup of water to thin it out. 1/2 can tomato sauce, and 1/2 can tomato juice, give or take.

It turned out good though! Which was a good thing since we were starving and I was too tired to cook anything else. Sometimes the best meals come of out you just throwing things into a pot and seeing what happens!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ferd 1 month old

Hoping to catch a bear


With a camera of course. We moved our trail camera out to where the tremendous amount of bear sign is. We have found over 30 different piles of scat now since we walked in another part of the rock cliffs near by.

So now we just wait and see if we catch anything... we likely will have to move it a couple times, but maybe we'll get lucky!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

wind storm and South African meal


Tuesday night we got a horrible storm, one of the worst we've had here. We get very high winds here quite frequently, especially this time of year, but that storm was exceptional. It lasted all night and into the early morning. Thunder, lightening, high winds, and heavy rain. I was startled awake at 5 AM when lightening struck near by and we heard the awful, loud, cracking sound.

When the storm started Kevin said to me, "we should put the chainsaw in the truck tomorrow." We had an early appointment at the dentist for me and then had to go to Ottawa in the afternoon for another appointment.

So of course, early morning comes, I finished the chores, and off we rushed (as usual) to the appointment. No saw. Before our first gate, just past our turtle pond, there was a huge Oak branch snapped across the road. No way we could move it without the tractor and the chainsaw. Because of the way it had twisted and broke, there was a large gap between the branch, and the the rest of the tree, so we actually managed to sneak the truck in between the two, so we could still make it to our appointments.

It's always the trees you least expect too, the ones you've been waiting to fall over for years, never seem to fall down in the big storms. 

Our washing machine is dead again. I mentioned we thought it was a water problem the other day, but Kevin replaced a part in the machine today which we thought would solve the problem, but no luck. It still works but not with cold water, unless I fill it up with the hose. So that's what I'll have to do until we figure out what's wrong and fix it.

For dinner tonight, we had the National dish of South Africa, Bobotie. You can read about it here
I found dozens, upon dozens of recipes for this, but mainly I used this recipe I found here
But to my taste. This dish always has raisins in it, but because Kevin cannot eat them, I had to omit them from the Bobotie and the yellow rice.

Bobotie


Ground beef (and lamb if you'd like)
1 finely chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cloves

(I used whole seeds and ground them)

3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbs raisins (if you'd like)
2 tbs apricot jam
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste

2 pieces crust less bread, soaked in milk.
2 eggs

1. Cook your onions in oil over medium heat until translucent
2. add your garlic and cook for a couple minutes
3. add the ground meat and brown.
4. when browned, drain the mixture.

5. Add spices to the mixture and cook for about 5 minutes longer.
6. Add your jam and lemon juice, and salt to taste.

7. Using your hands, squeeze the milk out of the bread (keep the milk and set aside)
break the soaked bread up and mix it in with the meat mixture well.

8. Mix 2 eggs with the milk that you used to soak the bread (you need 1 cup of milk)

9. Put the meat mixture in a small baking dish, and pour custard over top.
10. Cooking for 45-50 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, until egg mixture has set and it browned.

Yellow rice


2 3/4 cups basmati rice
2 tbs butter
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1⁄2 cinnamon stick
just under 1 tsp ground turmeric
5 tbsp raisins

I used my rice cooker for this and just mixed the ingredients together. If you are using a pot, put all the ingredients in a large pan with 1 tsp salt and 500ml water, then heat until boiling and the butter has melted.
Stir, cover and leave to simmer for 6 mins. Take off the heat and leave, still covered, for 5 mins. Fluff up and tip into a warm bowl to serve.


Tomorrow we have to get to work on the long list of chores we have to finish before next Friday, when we'll be leaving for our trip to Colorado for Kevin's daughters wedding. We are going to visit a few friends along the way and before we head home we are going to Mesa Verde! I am so excited. Because it's late in the season, a few of the places are closed, but most are open and we will be able to see them. I am so excited, I can hardly wait.

If you want to read more about Mesa Verde National park you can visit the National Parks website at http://www.nps.gov/meve/

Hopefully we'll have pictures to share!
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