Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I forget

I forget - I forget a lot.  I don't know if it's my age, ADD, busy-ness or preoccupation with other things.  I can tell at times it troubles James.  At least that's my perception.  I had a dream this morning and when I woke I felt like crying.  The dream felt very real or at least like something that could happen.

Maybe it's because I mentioned going on vacation in the last blog that I dreamed of staying in a hotel.   In my dream James and I had already checked into a hotel and found our room, and then, for some reason, gone our separate ways for a few hours.  When it was time for me to return to our room I couldn't remember our room number or what floor we were on.  Instead of going to the reception desk I called James on his cell phone.  I don't really remember the whole conversation but I know I kept trying to explain to him that I didn't pay attention when we went to our room and that I just couldn't remember the number.  He got frustrated and told me (because I kept repeating myself) that I sounded like the same person again and again, which was his way of telling me to stop repeating myself, I guess.  He was angry and that made me very upset and desperate because I couldn't help that I couldn't remember.  Actually, typing this still makes me recall the feeling and could make me cry if I let it.  It was such a horrible feeling.  I feel like I can imagine what an Alzheimer's patient might feel like when they first discover they're ill. 

I told James my dream when we got up.  He said, "that doesn't sound like me".  He's right, he would never treat me like that but it didn't make the dream feel any less real.  I love the book, The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks, even though it's very sad.  I've seen the movie a few times and it makes me cry every time.  I have told my friends, "James would do that for me".  I really think he would.  He once wrote a poem (I'll have to see if he can find a copy of it and post it here) about a forgetful woman.  After I read it I asked him if he was worried about me.  I can't remember what he answered but he probably said no and smiled.

One thing I can tell you, If we stay in a hotel anytime soon I'm going to write the room number down.  But how will I remember where I wrote it?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grand Central Station

In the past month we've seen many people drive up and down our driveway.  The Quaker group, Teen Adventure, arrived about a month ago and set up camp in our field.  I'll try to keep this short and say we saw a lot of these folks in and out recently.  Last weekend my hometown church from PA sent a mission team (22 people) to do work in TN.  On their way they spent a night in our cabin and shared dinner with us.  We went through 20 pizzas and 3 big pans of roasted vegetables.  It was fun.  They've done this more than a few years and I enjoy it every time.  Teen Adventure returned from their bike trip Friday and we did the whole pizza thing again.  There were 30 of us this time.  They were a hungrier group from all the biking they'd done and I probably should've made more than 24 pizzas and vegetables.  The biker/campers left today and all that remained were the counselors.  They're spending their last 2 nights in our cabin, which is easily a step up from camping, so they were very appreciative to have beds to sleep in.

A friend from Alabama spent the night Friday on his way north.  His visit was too short.

Our son, Adam, is home from school so we have him here which also brings his friend who spends just about every night here too.  We're learning what it would be like to have had 2 sons. 

Saturday James' brother, Tom, and his family arrive and we get to enjoy spending time with them too.  We don't see them very often so this will be fun.  We may take them to the drive-in because we're thinking our niece may never have been to one.  I grew up going to the drive-in but I know there aren't many around anymore.  We're lucky to have one here.  It's still a popular thing to do in Rockbridge County. 

August is looking pretty quiet at this point.  Maybe James and I should take a vacation.  The topic has been coming up again and again.  We may have to give our farm sitter friend a call and see if she has some time this fall.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tired of animal videos yet?

It's been really hot here lately and we've had very little rain so, while some people are watering their gardens, I water my pigs.  They're pretty happy about it.  Maybe it will make them grow.  I never get tired of watching them play under the spray of the hose. 

Since Darla is so friendly and has already been around dogs quite a bit I thought she'd be a perfect candidate for introducing Keri to goats.  It went really well and they hung out for about an hour.  Darla wasn't the least bit afraid of Keri.  Keri was fascinated with Darla.  Watch how she copies Darla eating the jasmine.

She also put Keri in her place a few times. 

I'm always afraid to write things like this, for fear I'm jinxing myself and Darla but, it appears she's going to be fine.  I've been putting a salve with grapefruit seed extract and oil of oregano on her neck twice a day and the abscess hasn't returned.  I'm so glad we haven't given up on her. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

On the river

James and I took all 3 dogs down to the river this afternoon.  We were just going to paddle around a little bit and let Keri get used to the river.  I took the sit on top kayak, hoping she'd ride with me.  James put his kayak in first and Keri hopped on the back without him even knowing it.  All I had to do was ask and she hopped aboard.  I stayed close to shore because I hadn't seen her swim yet.  She would stay on for about 5 minutes and then want to get off and explore land.  Rosie was jealous so she got on the kayak too but was nervous and jumped off.  By the time I got the camera and we videoed Keri on the kayak she was tired of it so she doesn't look as enthusiastic in this clip.

She took a nap on the kayak when it was out of the water.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Water Puppy

This is one reason Keri can't be an inside dog.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Goat milk burrata cheese

I've discovered something pretty delicious and can't believe I've never heard of it before.  About a week ago I was visiting a friend of a friend and she had a taste of my homemade mozzarella.  She said it was good but I could tell she wanted something different.  While in NY she had had a mozzarella cheese that was harder on the outside and then very creamy and soft on the inside.  I told her I had never seen a recipe for mozzarella like that.

Today I received a cheese newsletter with a recipe for burrata.  I'm pretty sure this is the cheese this woman was talking about.  What it is is cheese stuffed with cheese.  Can you think of anything better?  For those of you who make mozzarella I'm going to include the recipe so you can try it.  It's so simple.  I basically used Ricki Carroll's 30 mozzarella recipe for the first part of it.


1 gallon raw goat's milk
2 Tbl. of heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1/8 tsp. rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1 tsp. of non iodized salt

First I removed 2 tablespoons of cream from the top of my milk and put it aside.  I was able to get that much because the milk had been sitting for 3 days.  With cow's milk you would have lots more cream separate.  Pour the milk into a stainless steel pan and bring the temperature to 55 degrees.  Add citric acid and stir until the temperature reaches 90 degrees.  Remove from heat and add the rennet.  Stir up and down and around for 30 seconds then cover and wait 5 to 7 minutes till the curd separates from the whey.  Return to the heat and bring temperature to 105.  With your hands remove the curd from the pan and squeeze to get as much whey out as you can.

Now here's where the recipe is different than the basic mozzarella.  Remove 1/3 of the curds and place in another bowl or colander.

Break into tiny pieces  Add the cream and 1/2 tsp. of the salt and stir to a creamy consistency.  Set aside.  Place the rest of the cheese in a glass bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds.  Massage the curds, removing more whey.  Microwave for 45 more seconds and massage some more.  Add the other 1/2 tsp. salt then microwave for 45 more seconds. Wearing rubber gloves, stretch the cheese until uniform and shiny.  Separate the cheese into 3 pieces.  Flatten and stretch into a flat round.  Place 1/3 of the cheese/cream filling inside and pinch edges together.
I microwaved the 3 pouches for 30 seconds to kind of meld them and warm the filling a little.  You can either eat them warm or refrigerate them for a later date.  I recommend eating them fresh.
It was also good with tomatoes, basil and a little balsamic vinegar.  I'd like to try wrapping it in pizza dough, baking it and drizzling pesto over it.  Mmmmmm.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our new guardian

She's so soft, cute and cuddly and I wish she could sleep with me but she can't because she has to sleep outside (very sad).   Doesn't she look tough?  Her name is Keri (pronounced Keery).
She's not very brave yet but she's only 11 weeks old so I'll give her a little longer to show me she doesn't think the chickens are all that scary.   I just put her in her crate on the front porch and I'm sitting on a chair right next to her with my computer in my lap.  So far she's not screaming and she's lying down.  I wish she'd go to sleep before I go inside so I don't have to hear her cry.  Poor little girl.  Once we know we can trust her (however long that is)  we will let her roam the yard at night or sleep on the porch without the crate so she can keep predators away. 

I'm sure Rosie and Lex are wondering how long she's going to be visiting. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Velma and Roxie's intermediate home

I decided it was time to move Velma and Roxie out of the goat barn so they could have more space and so the barn wouldn't stink so bad.  There's an old, small fenced in garden attached to the girl goat's pen so I put them in there and put boards around the edges where I thought they might squeeze out.  They seemed thrilled with their new digs.  They also seemed thrilled to dig.
and roll in the mud
To clean off they thought they might fit in their water bucket.

So we gave them their own paddle boat swimming pool.  They also have a tiny house, which they love, and a tarp for shade.

Unfortunately they found out they could go through the 5" by 6" squares in the cattle panels into the goat's pen so I had to close them back up in a stall in the barn again last night.  Today I put up some electric fencing within that garden space.  Their 3rd and final home will have electric fencing too so it was good to introduce them to it where we had another fence behind.  They both met the fence and were fine the rest of the day. 

The donkeys and pigs checked each other out through the fence. 
Baby pigs nap a lot, sometimes on top of each other.
In case you couldn't tell, I'm enjoying these funny little girls.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Roxie gets kissed

The pigs have calmed down considerably, probably because they know I bring them food.  They're eating a lot now.  The campers gave us a bucket of their compost and the pigs are thrilled with it. 

Roxie was a very popular pig this evening.  We took her to Yogi Bear's Jellystone Campground for the pig kissing contest.  While we waited for her turn to take the stage we kept her in a cage in the back of the station wagon with the hatch open.  Kids gathered around to see her and she seemed to like them.  She came to the front of the cage so they could touch her nose.
Margie, the owner of the campground was the winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it) and got to/had to kiss Roxie. 

All went well and Roxie behaved.  I had this picture of her getting out of my arms and running loose while people screamed or chased her, which would have made for a better video.  We made our exit and Roxie was glad to be returned to her stall with Velma.  I gave them some treats of cabbage and banana peels.  Yummm.

Teen Adventure at Elk Cliff

About 6 months ago a friend of ours called and asked if we'd allow a cycling group she was leading to camp in our field.  We said they were welcome.  They arrived yesterday afternoon.  The counselors have been here off and on since the 23rd to plan and prepare for the 14 and 15 year old camper/bikers.  At the gate to our field there's a sign that reads TA BIKE.  Teen Adventure is sponsored by a Quaker camp.  They have quite a setup down there and our field has never looked so camp-like. There are bicycles with kitty litter panniers leaning all over.
Tarps and tents with no sides.

A makeshift kitchen.
And a fire ring down by the creek.
It almost makes me wish I was camping down there - almost.

This morning, as a service project, they helped us clean our winter wheat.  It sure goes a lot faster with 24 people doing it instead of just 2.  I think they might even have enjoyed it.  I know they didn't hate it.
They head out on Tuesday morning and will return again for 3 more nights at the end of July.  We'll feed them pizza with crust made from some of the wheat they cleaned.

I wonder if they'll return next year.  If they do we should plant much more wheat this fall.