Monday, October 31, 2011

Camera woes

 Ahh... the last pictures of my cameras life.... At least it's one to put a smile on your face :)

Well... the lens is shot on the camera. As expected that takes 6 + weeks to send away, repair, send back, etc. And quite a bit of money. 6 weeks without a good camera isn't going to work.... We have other cameras but only the two old Kodak easy share cameras that are terrible for animal pictures because you have to be perfectly still for it to not blur- and there is a delay in between pictures.... and then we have our big professional cameras and lens which are for travel... we lost our "in between" camera.

So Kevin ordered a new Canon G12 - which we'll get in a week... His son will bring it up with him on Sunday. In the meantime, we'll still send the G10 away to get fixed, but I'll only have to deal with the little Kodak for a week. So while there is suffering, it could be worse. Kevin said this morning, me not having my camera, is like him not having his tractor - it's an important part of daily life here! Before the blog - we used these Kodak cameras everyday however... and they went on two trips to Alaska, so although the technology is old I guess the cameras have been pretty good to us. One is pretty much dead so the one I'm using is alright but it eats batteries... We are talking two a day. I'm still a little heartbroken over my G10 but I'm excited to get the new camera too and be able to play with it next week...


Buckwheat (in full rut)... pretty hunky huh?


Horace with his mouth full... as usual

who's hiding in the bushes?

Basswood (see his heart?) and Mini Nut cleaning up leaves


It was beautiful again today, so Kevin worked on the Argo, which is also broken. Anyone who lives on a farm knows that when there is real work to be done, everything breaks down. Otherwise everything runs fine - it's just when 100 things are about to happen and you need everything working, that you end up with troubles. Murphy's law. 

I tried to drive the Argo yesterday and couldn't get it turn - an Argo drives like a tank, it's got two levers instead of a steering wheel, so it's a little more difficult and I haven't driven it much on grass - only on snow, so I thought it was me, but it was fighting me hard. I switched places with Kevin and I drove the tractor and he took the Argo... I was happily driving along our bush trail when he came flying back in the Argo (he was ahead of me) and said it was done... it was going to quit. So he came back to get the mule.  We need it this coming week... this weekend marks the major start of wood gathering, no more little stuff, we need to get in major logs and loads to get ourselves ahead... So hopefully we'll get it fixed.

We use between 3-4 full cords of wood for the house... which isn't bad, we heat entirely with wood and keep the house at about 80 degrees in the wintertime... I'm not kidding either, come visit, and make sure you wear layers. We keep this house warm enough the Prairie dogs think it's summer and the Kakarikis feel like they are at home in New Zealand. 

We usually have a cord and a half in reserve also, already split, in case one of us gets sick, we get a bad storm, or something stops us from cutting wood. We used up our reserve last winter because I was laid up all winter, we didn't get half the wood cutting done we usually do. We also need at least 1 cord for maple syrup, so we'll split around 6 full cords. We never finish our wood splitting in the fall - we just get ready and get a supply so we are not pressed, we split all winter because we need something to do, and it gets us outside working even if we don't want to. Imagine how lazy you'd get if you didn't have to work in the bush in the winter? Plus winter is the best time to be in the bush.

 Tomorrow we have company coming over, our cousin is bringing his daughter who is visiting from Sweden  with her little boy. The little guy is lactose intolerant, so I had to make some cookies he'd be able to enjoy. How could I not have cookies for the little guy? I may be a lot of things, but I am not heartless! 

So I made a batch of peanut butter banana cookies for him. I was just about to head to the basement and start digging out my vegan cookbooks - I have one specifically on baking, when I decided to taste one of the cookies (to be honest they didn't look up to par) and it was actually quite good. They have less sugar, so they are a little less sweet, but still sweet enough, and the banana is actually really nice in these cookies. 

I then made a batch of good old molasses cookies for my kid.

I also learned a very dangerous thing today. I found out that in about 20 minutes you can have homemade caramels. And good ones. They tasted good to me. A little too good actually. You can find the recipe here. Just be warned, if you like caramels you probably shouldn't have this kind of information handy. Thankfully for me, I can't handle too much of a good thing. They are adorable though, hand wrapped as gifts. I love this idea for Christmas. How cute are these?

I played around with the Kodak a bit this evening and got this picture of Douglas and I shaking hands...

And one of Norman looking like a goof...

And then the batteries died again... all I can say is, I'm glad we have a large supply of batteries here and rechargeable ones too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winter squash fritters

 I forgot to mention in my last post, the reason I haven't posted lately is not because of work, it's because my computer has been acting... well... fubar. It's been driving me nuts, but then again, I don't really have far to go.

Kevin has been working on it and two nights ago he spent a little more time trying to figure it out. It's not fixed, but working in safe mode. We think the problem is vista, but we haven't had time to work on it properly because we've been too busy getting the farm ready for winter with all the nice working weather we've had. This is working for now, so that's better than nothing.

Today was a great day, we got a lot of work done, and I even hauled a big round with the tractor on my own. Everything was going really well until it happened.

What happened? Something terrible.... My camera broke. My beautiful Canon G10 power shot camera which I love and has always been good to me... died.

Since I didn't want to miss another week over at IHCC... I pulled out one of our old little cameras to get the job done before I fall asleep...

So tonight (at 8:30 PM) after dinner was done and the dishes put away, I tossed together these winter squash fritters... they were a nice little evening treat and easy to make.

Winter squash fritters
adapted from Apples for Jam, by Tessa Kiros

I used 1 small butternut squash you need about 3 cups cubed
1/2 cup flour
a large pinch of baking soda
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbs oil for frying

Skin and seed your squash, and cut it into chunks. Boil it for about 10-15 minutes or until soft. Drain it and then mash it up. You should end up with about 1 cup of mashed squash.

Mix in your flour, soda, egg, salt & pepper. On a shallow plate, mix your sugar and cinnamon for coating the fritters.

Heat a few tbs of oil in a non stick skillet... Tessa used butter, but I opted for a little oil, and I mean a little... you don't need much and it works just fine, although I have no doubts the butter is delicious.

When it's bubbly, add a spoonful of your squash mixture at a time to the pan. Watch them closely and when the top starts to bubble up (like a pancake) flip them over to brown the other side.

When they are done, remove them from your pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towel to get rid of the excess oil and then coat each side with the cinnamon sugar.

Another great way to use squash, this would be great with other squashes too... acorn, I bet pumpkin would be awesome in these.

Please wish us luck fixing the camera... Kevin has been working on it, after I spent time on it this afternoon... It looks like we'll need to send it away to get fixed though and that makes me sad. I just hope it can be fixed.

For now, I'm off to bed because I can't keep my eyes opened much longer. If you ever have problems sleeping, just spend an afternoon hauling wood after spending a morning cleaning chicken coops and stalls and it will do the trick, I promise. Goodnight all.... sleep well. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Special day

Today is a very special day... it's Douglas the Pug's second Birthday!
I can hardly believe my little boy is two years old now... it seems like yesterday we brought him home (in December) 6 weeks old, ONE pound... it took us two months to stabilize the little bugger and thousands of dollars, he was not a healthy puppy. But he overcame it all and is one special boy indeed.

Shall I proceed to overwhelm you with the cuteness??

He still sticks his head in the bag of flour every chance he gets!

opening his presents

he was so cute when he was sleeping as a baby

Pretending to be part of the decorations

tired of watching TV I guess

even I can't take the cuteness... he was the cutest puppy ever. (Just don't tell our other kids I said that)

Last night we got our first heavy frost. There was ice on the home pond this morning and when I took the dogs out for their morning pee, still some white patches on the grass. But the sky was blue, and cloud free, and it was a gorgeous day.
Douglas this morning

 ice on the pond, with a Blue Heron hunched down

We took advantage of the nice weather and after chores, headed out to haul in some wood. 

 what? is there a Pug in my tractor?

After a while we took a break for lunch... 

our view at lunch

 We stayed out until after 5 PM when it started to cloud up and get a little cooler. We got a couple mule loads of rounds, which we added to the pile to split tomorrow.

When we got home, we caught these two sharing a snuggle....

I was smart this morning, realizing it was a nice day and that we'd likely head into the bush, I filled my crock pot up with the fixings for beef stew before we left, so I wouldn't have to cook tonight. I knew around 8 PM when it was time to eat, I'd be pretty tired. Plus there is the added bonus of coming into the house after chores and smelling that stew all throughout the house.

I made these stuffed sweet potatoes the other night and I must share the recipe, because these are awesome, and so easy. I used two sweet potatoes, which would easily feed 2-3 people, so keep that in mind. They are very filling, so be careful not to make a lot more than you need.

Baked sweet potatoes

Clean the skins of your potatoes really well, poke them with a fork and then cook them in the microwave for about 6 minutes, or until soft. Take them out, slice them in half length wise and let them cool. You could do this in the oven, but seriously, who has the time.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While your potatoes are cooling, heat a little olive oil in a pan, add 1 diced shallot, 1 clove of garlic (diced), and cook until tender (don't burn your garlic!) Add either 1/2 box of frozen spinach (thawed) or a few handfuls of fresh spinach and cook until it's warmed and wilted. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup of cream cheese with about 1/3 of a cup of Greek yogurt.

Scrape most of the cooked potato out of the skin, but leave enough so the skin holds up and doesn't tear or fall apart. Mash your potato and mix it with your cream cheese and yogurt. Add the shallot, garlic, and spinach.

Fill your potato skins up with the mixture and top with some shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop them in your preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. I can never get enough sweet potatoes and these are really tasty.

Now, I'm pretty tired. The fire is going well, the dogs got a special treat for Douglas Birthday, and the last game of the world series is about to come on. I'm going to take my tea and curl up with a book before nodding off for the night. 
These are the best days of fall. I feel so good tonight because last year I didn't get to enjoy this part of fall, gathering wood, working in the bush. Even before my surgery I couldn't work much, and then after I couldn't haul wood all winter. It feels good to be able to work, and to be out in the bush again, feeling better, a little out of shape compared to my usual self, but after hauling in a few more trees, that will correct itself. I know I'll sleep well tonight. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The rain arrived and the leaves have fallen

For the last three days we've had rainy and very windy weather. The temperature has been hanging around 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, so about 7 degrees Celsius. The wind is sharp and cold, and has knocked a great deal of the leaves off the trees already, almost all the trees are bare. It seems early for the trees to be bare, we've had other years they have held until the end of October, even into November. I'm glad we were able to enjoy a little bit of color and the warm temperatures we had Thanksgiving weekend. But now it's time to prepare for the cold.

This is what one of the trees looked like in the yard five days ago, with Torn Ear posing. He has returned this year and seems to be in good condition even with his one eye completely gone. These trees are all bare now, not a leaf left.

The goats and dogs have been enjoying the fallen leaves, the dogs for rolling in, and the goats for eating. The big dogs are really thrilled with the cooler weather, it brings them alive and they are acting like puppies again.

The trees behind the chicken house have been holding up. This is one of the prettiest trees on the farm in the fall and it usually holds it's leaves the longest.

We went out Saturday evening to collect some sticks for a light fire and to look around... We were pretty tired of being cooped up all day due to the blowing rain which came and went.  We just collected beaver sticks, and Kevin cut up some smaller branches with the hand saw... this is not heavy fire weather and we don't have any heat on in the house during the day yet, so far just a light fire in the evening for a couple hours before bed. Today it's pretty chilly in here, so I'll likely start one a little earlier to take the chill out.

it all burns good!

It's easier to spot things in the forest now so we were hoping to see something. There are a lot of red tailed hawks on the move right now, so we saw a couple of those along the way. The trees were blowing pretty badly in the wind gusts, so we didn't stay in the deeper wooded areas for too long... no reason to push our luck.

On the road to our big creek, we saw a porcupine in one of the trees - there is one who hangs out in this tree in the winter all the time. He/she was pretty sheltered from the wind, but the tree was still swaying pretty good.

Just as I was turning around and walking back to our ATV, Kevin pointed to another porcupine walking right towards me, he was heading for the same tree and apparently hadn't noticed us yet. I turned around and he looked at me a little surprised and then quickly headed in the opposite direction... I snapped a picture, and this was what I got, a little too close!

He quickly went up a nearby tree to get away from us.

Not to be outdone, in another part of the farm we spotted a baby porcupine! He was tiny, it's very difficult to tell from the pictures, but he was so small, and so, so, adorable. You just want to grab them and give them a big kiss. You'd be sorry if you did, but they look snuggly. Then again, so do bears. 
He was in a really small tree, just hanging on as it blew around. The cooler temps have brought them out.

Yesterday we split up some wood we already had in the wood yard, for some exercise and also to help put some wood in the wood box for the week.Yesterday I had five ticks on me from working outside. I'm actually ready for it to freeze so I don't have to spend all day finding ticks all over me and the dogs. It's nuts how bad they are this year.

The goats just milled around as usual all day. They haven't been enjoying the weather too much... But they have really started to get good and fluffy.

Izzie is the exception, she's really been enjoying the cooler weather and has been acting like such a goof, running around, jumping in the air, she's been really happy lately which makes me happy too.

I caught Flavious practicing his new favorite song... he's pretty good at it.

Biscuit got caught with her mouth open, which is not unusual. They have really been eyeing up the pumpkins on the deck at the house... they know they'll get them once I'm ready to give them up. They are starting to run short on patience though.

Did someone say, pumpkins?

Kevin getting the wood splitter uncovered

 our first load

 The weather continues this week to be overcast, but today is a good day for cutting wood and we'll need to get the shell on our pickup truck so we can load up with animal feed tomorrow and not risk it getting wet. The weather calls for rain for the next couple of days, so we'll leave the farm to get our errands done.

Since Halloween is coming, I've been enjoying watching old scary movies. I don't care for the newer movies which are meant to scare you in a much different way, but I love old Vincent Price movies, Boris Karloff... it's been fun watching them in the evening with the dogs... Douglas the Pug watches T.V. a lot, and whenever a person comes up in full view on the screen, he barks, which gets Norman thinking there is someone here and all heck breaks loose. It's pretty amusing watching Douglas starring at the TV growling with his hair up at this strange person coming into our living room.

All for now, time to get back to work...
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