Goat Update

The goats are settling in and getting to know the other animals. They are perfectly content around our horse, but very cautious with the dogs. When we first brought them home, the dogs were, of course, very curious. Poor Ella, our Golden Retriever always gets blindsided. Her gentle investigation was met with a powerful ‘GO AWAY’ from Zuli the mama goat that sent her rolling across the barn floor.

Abby tried to cautiously meet Aqua, Zuli’s daughter, nose to nose. I thought for a moment that Aqua’s curiosity would win and they would be friends, but instinct prevailed in the end. Abby was butted in the face and came back snarling and snapping. Abby got yelled at by my husband (which never happens) and ran off to lick her wounds, so to speak.

If I’m hanging around the goats, the dogs will come by to investigate sometimes, but I usually send them away so I don’t end up as the casualty between the goat/dog rivalry. Zuli is a very protective mama.

A Broody Hen

We have a hen that was given to us that I have affectionately named Miss Bianca. She’s a funny little Silky with a poof on her head that reminds me of Miss Biana’s hat in the animated movie,The Rescuers.

Lately, all she does is sit in the nesting boxes. I had to lift her out so I could put clean straw in the boxes, but when I was done, she immediately set about gathering the eggs under again.

Those are golf balls on the side. We put them in the boxes back when the chickens were just old enought to lay to encourage them. I don't know if it really worked, but they did lay eventually.

                    

                   

She doesn’t care that none of these eggs were laid by her.

                 

When I collected all the eggs, she kept looking and looking for them. Poor thing.

At least the other girls lay new eggs every day for her to love.

I Think I’m Possessed

Our little farmhouse was built in 1916, and I think I’m being possessed by the spirit of the farmer’s wife that must have lived here. Not really, but why do I have the sudden urge to do all things domestic now; things I’ve never even done before. It’s 10:30 pm and I just finished baking two loaves of bread.Image

When I got home from work today, I dug out my giant stock pot I received as wedding gift many years ago, and plunked two roasted chickens in it plus veggies to make my own chicken broth. Why? I have no idea. I ended up with 3 1/2 quarts of broth that I will freeze in ziploc bags tomorrow.

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I even scrounged through all the chicken that boiled off the bone and froze it in ziploc freezer bags.

What next? Canning? Quilting? Maybe I should stitch up a bonnet and apron. Good grief!

You Throw Like a Girl

I was throwing a tennis ball to our dog, Abby, when my second oldest daughter and husband got back home from an errand this evening. It didn’t take long for both of them to start laughing at how short a distance the ball went. I attempted to defend myself by saying that I’m not very strong. My husband suggested that my throwing style was the problem and proceeded to imitate me. Apparently, the ‘stand and chuck it’ method isn’t the best way to go.

Since he was such a smarty pants, I asked for and received step-by-step slow motion instructions.

Here's the windup....
And the pitch!
Did I mention that I've never played any sports? I was more of an academic.

Oh well.

Farm Mud

Being an Oregonian, I consider myself well versed in rain, in all its forms, which then creates mud.  Having four children and living in a split entry home until last year, got me very familiar with mud in the house. It always surprised me how other people don’t make this connection. Rain falls. A LOT!!! Rain on dirt makes mud. Walking gets mud on shoes. Running into the house and avoiding all strategically placed door mats enabled me to enjoy mud indoors as well as outdoors. Sigh.

             

Then we got two dogs. Dogs have the advantage of not being able to open the door by themselves, but they also can’t take off their shoes. To keep mud off the carpet, you have to wipe their feet. It’s best to dip each paw in water otherwise the mud still gets on the carpet. Now enter the four children onto the scene. Since children rarely notice the mud on their own shoes, they certainly don’t think about dog paws. Dogs run fast and leave a trail of footprints through the kitchen and into the living room faster than you can blink. Double sigh.

Now I’m getting to farm mud. I’m used to having so much rain that the lawn turns into a sponge. I’m used to low spots that collect water and tear up the ground if walked on too much. I knew that getting a 1,000 pound horse would change the landscape of our property, but still I wasn’t prepared for the mud. (All you farmers out there are probably saying, “Duh!” right now.)

Stepping out the back of the barn, I’m met with an expanse of straight mud. No grass at all anymore. The chickens started it when we kept them in a fenced area. They denuded the grass pretty quick. Within a short time, our horse Montana turned much of our property into a quagmire. I was at my son’s gymnastics meet a month ago and looked down at my jeans. What the heck? I had mud specks from the knee up. I thought knee high rubber boots would protect me. I’m now learning about splashing mud.

And my favorite? Recently my husband and I took a walk around around our property. On the way back to the house my boot sunk so deep I couldn’t get it out. Trying to pull my foot out required me to lean harder on the other foot. Now both my boots were stuck fast. I call to my husband to pull me out because he had the good sense to keep to the grassy spots. He glanced back over his shoulder with a look of disbelief and said, “Seriously?”

About this time, Montana, decided to gallop at full speed in circles around the property. Apparently, my husband realized I was serious because I made no move to get out of the way as our horse headed straight for me at top speed. I imagined throwing myself sideways to get out of the way and landing face down in the mud/manure mixture. My knight in shining armor stepped in and waved Montana away then pulled me out – each boot resisting but eventually giving up with a serious sucking noise.

 Sigh.

Trying Out Gluten Free

I’ve been doing a little research about fibromyalgia and have learned that many people who are gluten-intolerant have symptoms similar to mine; namely being tired, joint pain, brain fog, and mood extremes. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been stocking up on foods that can be eaten on a gluten-free diet and have been gluten-free since Sunday. Since I love to bake and have very little self control, I’m not sure how long I’ll last, but thought I’d give it a shot. It certainly can’t hurt.

That being said, here’s how it’s gone so far. I’ve focused on eating more foods that I like that are naturally gluten-free such as fruit, salad, and meat. Since I really like Quaker Chocolate Crunch Rice Cakes anyway, I bought a few packages to keep on hand, too.

What has worried me most is all the foods I love that are wheat flour based. My first attempt at baking gluten-free was a recipe I love for using up lots of eggs: Dutch Babies. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.

Dutch Babies aka Puff Pancake

It wasn’t as puffy as it normally is but after dumping some sugar and fruit on top, I couldn’t taste the difference. (Sugar cures almost every ill.)

Now, without painting too many pictures of gluten-free rainbows and butterflies, I attempted to substitute gluten-free flour in my Fudgy Chocolate Cake recipe. Ummm….yucky.

Even with a bunch of powdered sugar on top.

Grab and Go

I have been noticing lately how something as basic as food can make such a huge difference in my family’s life. As I mentioned in my last post, the lack of nutritious meals the week before really took it’s toll on me physically. I also noticed a lack of peace in my home. I spent time last Saturday taking an honest look at how I like to eat and how much effort I want to put into it.

This is what I finally realized. I’m a ‘grab and go’ eater. I try to pack a lunch to take to work, but I noticed that I’m the most successful when I can just grab items from the refrigerator or cupboard, toss them in a bag, and go to work. I also noticed that I have definite times when I’m hungry, and if there’s nothing easy and nutritious available, I’ll eat whatever is handiest. If that means leftover Girl Scout cookies at the office, so be it.

This past week I focused on preparing lunch and snack foods in advance for the week. I bought a couple of Rubbermaid food storage sets on sale at Fred Meyer and was ready to start cooking on Sunday afternoon. Here are some of the foods I made:

Yogurt Smoothies – made a double batch; frozen in serving size containers

Grilled chicken – sliced what was leftover from dinner and frozen in serving sizes

Grilled sirloin steak – sliced in serving sizes and frozen

Whole almonds – divided into serving sizes

I bought a lot of fruit, too.

The verdict? I ate much less junk. I was able to toss food into my lunch bag without too much thought. A couple of times for dinner we had what I call Random. It’s my lame way of turning “I didn’t make dinner :(” into “Everyone gets to make whatever they want tonight! :)”. It works fine as long as I only do it about once a week. Anyway, for my Random dinner I was able to simply grab some cooked, sliced meat from the freezer, thaw it out for two minutes, and eat. Add some fresh fruit and I was good to go. Not ideal, but better than eating five bowls of Corn Pops.

The meal plan my husband and I made worked out well, too. With a house full of teenagers, it’s difficult to get everyone in the same room at the same time, but we had dinner together a few times together last week. That’s a big improvement for us.

Baby steps.