Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Yesterday was my day to go town and run some errands. I took one of Ed's work boots to a shoe repair shop in downtown Bloomington, so they could sew the sole back on at the toe. It had been glued, but needed stitching. This same repair shop did other boot to this pair a couple of months ago, and did a very nice job. It turned out to be better than the original, which was only glued.

I went over to Bloomingfood's and bought a pound of flax seed which I grind as needed and add to my morning shake mix. I stopped at the post office and mailed a package, (after standing in line at least 20 minutes)! And it was 10:30 in the morning! There is ALWAYS a line to stand in, in this postoffice, no matter what time of the day!

Before I started to town to run my errands I made a stop at Horse Angels Rescue Farm. It is 4 miles from our house. It is run by a lady veternarian and her husband. I asked her if they needed any part time help. She said not right now, but in a couple of months. There is going to be a Dressage Trainer and her loyal following, coming to her barn in March.
The vet was in a hurry, she had appointments somewhere, and she told me to just go through the barn and look around. There were several horses inside. One is her personal horse, a cremello (a faded yellow color, but not palomino) quarter horse stallion, a 30 year old blind mare, a pony, a goat, and 3 or 4 other horses.
Outside were several others in all stages of rehab, from being rescued. There were two that obviously had Cushings Disease. The barn was a mess. She has a 120' x60' indoor arena. It would be a nice place if it was cleaned up. She said everything got away from her this winter.

I had written a resume, the evening before, so I gave her that, then she left. Later in the afternoon, she called me and asked me if I would be interested in helping her do surgery. Be her assistant. HUH? She wanted to know if the sight of blood makes me ill. I said I didn't think so, but that I had no medical training! Anyway, she said she would talk it over with her son, and call me back. So that is where it stand now.

Just thought I'd let you know, there are probably some changes in the works. Don't know to what extent yet...I'm trying to follow the 'still small voice' that guides our lives if we let Him.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Today was a nice day. We cooked syrup hard most of the day, but we took time out to go to Chili's for lunch. Yummy! We had two 5.00 coupons that would have expired on Tuesday, so we ate them up!

I canned 6 1/2 pints of syrup this evening.

A friend called and told me that she knew of a Rocky Mountain Horse breeding farm that had all its horses confiscated because they were starving and several had already died. She wanted to know if I could take any of them, to nurse them back to health. It would be my horse, I wouldn't have to give it back. We tried to get more information but didn't know enough about it to make a decision. She called me back this evening and said there were only 4 out of about 16 that could be adopted and 3 were stallions, 1 a filly. All were under 3 years old, and most likely weren't halter broke.
I told her I don't have the facilities to take an unhandled horse. She will get more information tomorrow and let me know.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ed and I collected 25 gallons of sap yesterday evening and tonight we had 27 gallons more! I cooked non-stop all day, setting the kitchen timer so I wouldn't have any more Oooopsie's!!! It looks like we will be cooking all weekend just to catch up!

Here is a photo of our back pasture. The maple trees that we have tapped are on both sides of the open field. So...we carry the buckets! And it is a long way to the top, where I am standing to take this photo.

I've just went out and taken the syrup off of the stove to cool a bit before bringing it in the house. It is pretty well concentrated, so I think I will finish it on the kitchen stove tomorrow, while Ed starts cooking down some more out in the garage.

To do this right, we need a bigger evaporator. Then we could cook a lot of sap at one time and not have to spend so much time at it, but...we do with, what we got, right? (Terrible way to fracture the King's English)!

I took a curry comb and a hoof pick with me and went out and cleaned the mud off of the horses in between carrying buckets. They all three crowded around, 'do me! do me! my turn! hey, she cut in line! Well, they all had a turn, and thoroughly enjoyed the attention.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day! It warmed up enough that the trees started running again. I walked down the hill with two empty 4 gallon buckets and had to make three trips to get all the buckets on the trees emptied. One of them was running over!

It was so quiet down in the woods.The air was warm, and the sun was shining brightly. There was not a single sound of civilization! Only the wind, softly blowing in the tree tops, the birds were talking and singing. It was peaceful and relaxing.

I started the syrup boiling and kept it going hard all day. Since the raccoon has decided to visit the barn and steal catfood, we bring the unfinished syrup in the house for the night. We have had problems with the coons before. The previous owners did also. We have trapped several and taken them miles away and released them, but it hasn't made a dent in their population.
Last summer we had a momma and 4 babies up in the loft, and we would see them frequently. The babies weren't very afraid of us. We could come within 1o feet of them. They are very curious. But they are messy and leave piles of poop on the hay and anywhere else they happen to spend any time. Nasty!!

I made a big pan of fried cabbage for supper. I love that stuff. I could eat it three times a day. Ed's family never cooked it that way before and he didn't think he would like it, but was he surprised! He went back twice to get more! Also grilled pork chops, and made a cheesy broccoli cauliflower dish in the crockpot. Good!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Since the trees haven't started running at full capacity yet, I had another day to get caught up with some cleaning. I had a couple of cups of Herbal Concentrate Tea, so I had energy to spare today! I cleared off some counter space and put things away. (I'm too good at just setting it here for now, I'll put it away when I have more time). I diced up a 3 lb. bag of onions and put them in the freezer. I will put them in small freezer bags tomorrow. We use them in our breakfast eggs, in casseroles, and it is so handy to have them cut up and ready to use.

I made a pot of Bean Soup with ham in it, for supper. Sprinkle some diced raw onion on a bowl of bean soup, and with fresh hot cornbread, there 'ain't' no bettter eatin'.

I sorted out some magazines to make more space. Did some laundry. Labeled and stored the maple syrup that we made.
I sure hope the trees run enough, so that I can make at least one more batch!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Big Ooooopsie!!! Well we did it now! It was so cold on Saturday, late evening, that we decided to let the syrup concentrate further while we went in the warm house. Forgot to set the kitchen timer to go and check on it....and this is what we found when we finally did remember it. About 2 hours later! OOPS! IWe could have burned the barn and garage down! Yikes! We have been having trouble with a big ole raccoon in the barn, and that is what I suddenly remembered. We had thought maybe he would mess with our syrup since it was sweet. We hadn't left any out, to see whether he would or not, but there was always that possibility, I guess. Anyway, Ed went out to bring it in the house for the night, to finish it up the next day. Only....there wasn't any, only this poor pan, burnt to a crisp, and the remains of a few sweet ashes!!

Do I feel better for confessing our negligence? A great big NO!! It completely ruined the pan and wasted the gas! But...hindsite is always 20/20, so will just have to forget it and learn from it. (Still makes me upset to think about it though).

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oooopsie, I made a boo boo! this bird is not an American Restart. It is a Rufous-sided Towhee. Sorry!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Isn't he a peach? Ed started the stove and started cooking sap early this morning. He let me sleep in, while he did the feeding too. When I woke up and looked outside, was I surprised! I didn't expect to see snow! And so cold out too! It was 7°!

Ed cooked sap all day long. We got quite a bit done too. Finally, about 7:30 this evening, we decided it was too cold, and we will finish tomorrow. He turned everything off and we brought the unfinished syrup in the house and set it in the laundry room. Several buckets of sap are also sitting in the laundry room (it is unheated) so they don't freeze solid outside in the garage.
It is supposed to be 2° tonight! Yikes!

The farrier was supposed to come and trim the horses tomorrow, but we called her and put it off a couple of weeks. It is too cold to stand out in the barn and hold the horses while she trims their feet. It usually takes her at least 2 1/2 hours. She is as slow as molasses! And she likes to talk, but can't talk and work at the same time. Good thing she doesn't charge by the hour!

Here is a photo of what we woke up to this morning, and a picture of our fuel source for the cooking pan. This is a 250 gallon tank. We have made syrup with it for 3 years, only filling it once, three years ago. Ed bought it at a farm dispersal auction several years ago.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Boy, was I surprised this afternoon when the phone rang and a familiar voice said that she was coming back from a run to Terra Haute and she could come and visit! She parked her big truck up at the firestation and I went up and picked her up in my truck and we fixed supper together. We used to do that...years ago! Then we all grew up and have our own families and we don't get the chance to do that anymore. So it was nice to have her in our kitchen, chatting and working on supper.

We grilled chicken, made baked potatoes, (actully we microwaved them) and a green salad. With good company, what more could you want?

I also canned another 4 pints of maple syrup this afternoon. So that was my day.
Hey Ya'll
I'm at Sharons house tonight for supper. Ya'll come up I'll share my chicken and baked potatoe and salad.
I had a run to Terre Haute and discovered that I was only a hop skip and a jump from Sharon, so here I am. Greg isn't home tonight, he went to a church function over night so I was all alone, didn't have any reason to rush on home to an empty house. Besides I needed some family time, also heard she was making maple syrup, so I'll have to sneak a jar into my purse, before I go. Rachel

We had a major wind and rain storm last night! I have been staying up late and cooking sap, but tonight I turned the stove off about 9:00 PM and called it quits. I didn't want to be out there with the stove on if a tree fell or whatever, happened. Our house is surrounded by huge maples, some that aren't so healthy. I didn't think it would be good to be using the stove in such a storm.

I cooked sap all day and yesterday canned the first batch. It made 4 1/2 pints. And there is nearly that much ready to can today. And the stove out in the garage has been going at top speed all day. I just hope that there isn't 25 gallons more waiting to be collected, at least not until I get caught up with the 40 or so sitting in the garage!

It is much colder today, 35°, but the trees are running on the sunny side of the trunks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I started the sap cooking this morning, even before I fed the horses. It takes the pan quite a little while get up to a rolling boil. While that was heating up, I took two 4 gallon buckets, and walked down the hill to the woods. I had to make 3 trips carrying both buckets full of sap, back up the hill to the garage. (our woods are at the bottom of the hill, our house, barn and garage are at the top of the hill!) Anyway, by the time I got all the buckets that were on the trees emptied, I had 27 gallons of sap. This was in addition to yesterdays 25. I cooked sap at a rolling boil all day. When Ed got home, we went down and emptied them all again and we had 15 more gallons!! Lucky for me, the weather changed and they slowed down some today. The stove can only do so much, you know!

Here are todays pictures. The full ones hanging on the trees were last nights run. And here is a photo of my cooking pan and stove. I fill the pan 3/4 full of sap and bring it to a rolling boil. I have a 3 ppound coffee can with two small holes punched in the bottom. I keep refilling that can with fresh sap all day long. It runs out into the cooker pan at a rate that will not stop the rolling boil. It took me awhile to figure out how to regulate the flow of fresh sap, so as to not stop my syrup from boiling. Gradually as the syrup boils, it concentrates into a sweeter and sweeter syrup. As long as I allow fresh sap to run into it, it will continue to boil off the water that is in the sap.

It generally takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. When the syrup is finally nearing the correct temperature, which is 7 degrees above the the boiling point of water, I bring it in the house where I can watch it closer, and finish it.

It is a lot of work, but oh, the end result is worth it all! I can understand why it is such an expensive product.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Wow, the trees are running like crazy today! When I did the morning feeding the trees were not doing anything, but this afternoon, these pictured buckets were full, and one of the trees down in the woods has a 4 gallon bucket on it, and it had been running over for some time! We emptied all the buckets tonight when Ed got home and we ended up with 25 gallons of sap!! and that is just today since it warmed up! Will they run all night? I don't know, they have sometimes in the past, when conditions are right. I hope not. It will take me all day to cook 25 gallons because I only have one stove to cook on. Last year we borrowed a friends deep frying turkey cooker, but we don't have it this year. So we will just have to do what we can do!
Well, guess what I found! I made this this morning and it couldn't be easier and tasts soooo goood!

Crustless Shoo-fly Pie

3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 4oo°F. Spray a 10 inch pie pan with non-stick vegetable cooking spray and set aside.
2. Combine boiling water and baking soda and stir until completely dissolved. Add molasses. Gradually stir water and molasses mixture into beaten egg and mix well.
3. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, add oil, mixing until consistancy of coarse meal. Place alternate layers of liquid mixture and dry mixture in the prepared pan, ending with the dry mixture as the top layer.
4. Bake on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300° and continue baking 20 more minures or until firm. Cool on a wire rack until room temperature. Store covered in the refrigerator.

My notes:I used a glass deepdish 9 inch pie pan and it didn't run over. It was perfect! I also baked this in my toaster oven at 400° for 20 minutes, then 300° for 10 minutes. Could have baked 5 minutes more, but it was done enough for me. This is not a dry pie.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Are you tired of my bird photos yet? Well, this is a new one for me! It is a male American Redstart . I think he was hungry too. He sure was grabbing the spilled seed that was on the ground.

No the trees didn't run today. It was too windy and cold. Didn't get over 32° today. But I expect them to tomorrow! It should be 44°, or so. There were 4 deer at the deer feeder about 10:00 this morning, but they didn't stay long. Something spooked them after about 5 minutes.

I was vacuuming the bedroom carpet and just happened to turn my head in time to see three red horses, go racing past the window, running toward the neighbors yard. I grabbed a sweatshirt and raced outside to see them running circles in their yard!! I flew out to the barn and grabbed a halter and a bucket with some grain, and hurried next door. I didn't run....as badly as I wanted to, so
that I wouldn't spook them even more! (This was about 4:00 PM this afternoon). Katie let me walk up to her because she wanted what I had in the bucket. I haltered her and headed back to our barn and threw her in a stall. I expected Solomon and Maddie to follow her, but.......no........they were having way tooooo much fun!! Especially Maddie, she had her tail up over her back, and was whistling through her nose and having a ball! I caught Solomon and then Maddie decided she didn't want to be the only one over there so came running back and flew into the barn, as I was leading Solomon inside. Whew! It scares 5 years off of me when they get out and take off! We have a long 1/4 mile driveway, but the highway is full of big log trucks, and lots of fast traffic. And if they got out there, it wouldn't be nice! We don't want to go there. After I got them in the barn, I discovered that I, me, myself, and yours truly had left the gate open this morning, and they didn't discover it until 4:00PM!! Won't do that again! Whew, what an afternoon!  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Here are the latest visitors to our Bird Diner. Plus a couple of others that I took last night also. The moon was so pretty, framed by the trees.
Ed is loading the furnace for the night. I was experimenting with some night shots, to see what the camera could do.

Click each photo to see a larger version.

Brrr, what a cold weekend! Ed and I talked about making maple syrup this year and had just about decided not to because the price of propane was so high. I told him I think we will be sorry if we don't. Since we want to eventually move to a flatter piece of property, suppose it doesn't have any maple trees? We have quite a few here, so we should take advantage of it, right? There is still enough gas in the tank to maybe get us through this season. We decided to go ahead and do it.

We hauled a lot of the buckets and other supplies out of the storage space in the barn loft. I washed buckets and tubing and various other stuff, in the bathtub. Later we hauled a load of it down the hill in a little trailer and tapped some of the trees and hooked up the tubing. They aren't running yet, though. These are some of our best trees, known as 'sap cows'. They almost run nonstop when they start. Some of them will fill a 5 gallon bucket in about 12 hours. We have two taps in some of those trees.

So now we wait for the weather to co-operate. We need days above freezing, such as 40° or above and nights below freezing, preferably in the 20°'s. It was so cold down in the woods this afternoon, but it was so quiet and peaceful. You could even hear the snow falling. Big beautiful fluffy flakes. I think it is supposed to warm up to 55 °by Thursday, so I guess you know where I'll be, hauling 5 gallon buckets of sap up the hill to the garage. Ed set up the stove and everything is ready to go.

It is a lot of work, and I'm always glad when it is over, but oh, it tastes sooooo gooood on a hot buttery waffle. Or in a cup of hot tea!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nothing much doing around here today. Here are todays visitors to our wild bird dining table and one of the White Tail does that frequently visits the 'deer dining room'. Notice the small brown bird in the photo with the cardinal. That one looks like he is not to be intimidated!

Click to see larger versions. Oops, I accidently got yesterdays in there! Sorry!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

To day wasn't the best day I've had. I heard a siren, (we hear them often going down the road). But this one turned in our drive way and came up here to the house. But they had the wrong driveway. They were looking for Sherry and Carol's house next door. There were already two sheriff's cars next door. I don't know what happened, but Carol passed away last night. It was such a shock to me, and everyone else too. We really liked Carol, she was such a happy person. It is hard to beleive that she won't be waving at us across the drive way now.

I went to the Photography Club meeting tonight. We had a speaker from the Indianapolis Star. She was one of the photographers. She told her story and brought lots of photos of her work. It was very interesting. She did a story on a small church that was meeting in an empty storefront and said she didn't beleive in God before that. But she and her husband started to attend church there, and she gave her heart to the Lord and was saved from that experience, and she told this testimony to our photo club of some 60 people.

So today, I experienced a sad ending and a happy new life. Full circle.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Hi all, I've had all kinds of trouble for the last couple of days trying to get a post on here. I couldn't get anyone else's posts either. Sarah was quite upset since she thought she had posted but nothing would go through, but...I guess it did anyway, when she wasn't looking.

It was so nice to have you here, Sarah. Lets do it again sometime soon, OK?

This is a Northern 'Yellow Shafted' Flicker. I see lots of woodpeckers at my feeder. I even see a Pileated Woodpecker there sometimes, working on my suet cake. That bird is HUGE! He is at least 12 inches long!!

We sure woke up to wintertime again! Yuk! At least we know it won't last long, since it is February already. Heard this morning that it is supposed to be 12° next weekend. I even rode Solomon one day this past week when it was 55°! I love winter when it is that warm!

We just came back from the grocery store. Ed got some apples and he sliced them up and put them on the dehydrator. I didn't know he liked dried apples. But he wanted the skins left on them, so we will see how that turns out. I would have peeled them first. But it is his experiment, right?

Weather like this makes me want to bake something!! Bread, a cake, or cookies, or a pie, or just something! Something to do, and warm up the kitchen at the same time! How about a pan of cinnamon rolls? Posted by Picasa
Hello everybody this is Sarah, I'm at Sharons this time you never know where I'll pop up! I came up here to visit since we didn't get to see her last week at our dinner. We went to Blooming Foods health food store and got a few things and drove to see a horse she just gave to someone this week . This is she. The person lived up on a hill sorta and there are no trees around to block the wind and it was blowing something fierce and we where frozen into a pop sickle the wind chill was at 19 degrees! The horse seemed to be just fine, she had a nice snug building to be in bedded with warm hay.
I told Sharon that for me to come and see her I had a sring attatched-my laundry!! It sure is a bothersome thing that laundry!! I made a pumpkin pie while I was up here we where looking at a new cookbook and I got inspired by the wonderful pictures! It was an Impossable Pie that is crustless and so easy to make. It was done in no time because it is made with Bisquick mix, and it was so good. Ed went and finnished off the Cool Whip just before the pie was done so we had to eat it topless!! Oh well I guess it is his house. Well I have the last load of laundry coming out so I better get on my way it is 7:00 and have a ways to get home, this pretty wintery wonderland!! So long and goodnight all! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yikes, I sure don't want Aunt Woosy's fate to happen to me!! That sounds pretty permanent, to end up as a bit of funny looking dust under the Christmas tree skirt!

Nuttin much happenin' around here. I couldn't function at 3:00 AM! I am falling asleep at 10:00 PM, when I happen to be up that late. I do hear Aunt Woosy's sister, Wiffy, scattering the newspapers and such, around the living room floor ocasionally. She makes a lot of noise!(the cat likes to play with her toy mouse in the middle of the night).

Remember the old mare that we were given last summer? She was skinny and neglected. She went to a new home this morning. It is an older gentleman, wanted a quiet, safe, laid back, gentle, not too tall horse, to ride in the woods when he goes mushroom hunting.

I went and looked at his place yesterday, and we talked for a couple of hours, about everything under the sun. I also talked to the veternarian, and she gave me her take on him and his horse care. He checked out ok. He lives 1/2 mile from Stone Ridge Arabians. I told him I will be ' popping in' . He said ok, anytime. He has offered to let us bring our horses over there to ride, and has offered to let Ed hunt there. There are 1400 acres, some of it in corn and soy bean crops, the rest in woods. The old St. Rd. 446 runs through the farm, too. He said it is in the will, that when the two remaining heirs die, the land will be turned over to a Wildlife Refuge, forever. It is a very nice place.

Sis, walked right into his trailer, and then started calling, and calling, and calling, I could hear her, still calling, when she was a long way down the road. It made me cry. (you know me, it don't take much). And Katie was calling back, from our pasture. And she still is and Sis has been gone for an hour. Katie was awfully mean to her. Wouldn't let her in the shed, wouldn't let her stand near them out in the pasture. Wouldn't tolerate her at all, unless I was close by to get after Katie, then as soon as I would leave, she would go after her again! The meanie!

I hope we did the right thing. I know, we don't need 4 horses, but, she has never had anyone to take care of her or show her any attention. She gained about 175 pounds since September. She was looking real nice. So...did I do the right thing? She was 22 years old, and we liked her a lot. She was such a gentle soul.

I am getting a strong urge to go out and stir around in the dirt in the garden. Last fall, I used the leaf shredder on the lawn mower and dumped 18 inches of ground up leaves on my garden. It has sunk down to about 8 now, but that is still a lot. I may just pull the leaves away and plant in it that way. Instant mulch.

Well, it is 1:00 PM and I have to get to the post office by 1:30 so gotta run.