Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Gee Thanks Mom

The saying about my mom is that she could stick a pencil in the ground 
and it would grow.
Me on the other hand~
As I've said before, I plant and God laughs.
This is the carrot and beet patch.
Last year, Mom sent a couple big bags of "composty stuff."
We dumped it in this plot and turned it under thinking nothing more of it.
Fast forward to this spring.
Carrots and beets get planted - though a smidge later than usual.
Before long, there were red stalky clusters of stems all over!
Then, sprinkled here and there in their midst were plants with round leaves and purple flowers.
(Dwarf Hollyhocks)
And where one or the other of those wasn't hogging the ground, were those little white button sized daisy looking flowers that I was all too familiar with.
Mom brought up two pots of them a couple years ago, 
and they are now nearly to plague status.
So after a couple wheelbarrows full of pullings, 
there is at least a little room of an occasional carrot or beet 
to eke up through the earth.
I planted two types of carrots.  One did significantly better than the other.
I will be pulling the rest of the flowers, because I don't want them 
seeding here in the garden.
I know it might already be too late.
They really are pretty - just not in the garden plots.
I'll be sending this picture to Mom with a big ol' sarcastic Thanks!
It really is okay and not disrespectful.
We harass her about her jungle preservation skills on a semi regular basis.
Lesson learned, dump "compost" from Mom someplace I want flowers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Decluttering ~ the Grand Finale

It's the weirdest thing.

Over the past few years, we've (I've) been on a decluttering mission.
This past weekend, we had hopefully our last ever yard sale.
Well yes, of course it rained.
This time there wasn't as much from the house, 
but primarily the shop and yard.
There still seemed to be a revolving pile in the kitchen near the back door,
then that ever growing pile in the shop.
I know, who would need to declutter the yard?
That be us ­čśü
We had the snow blower, old lawn mower, the old '49 ford, the tent trailer, the chicken tractor, a motorcycle, and canoe 
as well as the stuff from the shop and house.
Honestly, we didn't make much which was disappointing.
We still have several of those big items that we will have to put on Craigslist.
I was rather hopeful that it would all be gone Saturday.
(It will take multiple trips.)

Even though at this moment, our shop looks like a bomb went off, 
I have the knowledge that those boxes are empty,
 and the plastic bins. . . are empty.
The leftover items are being logged (for taxes) as they go into an empty box,
then loaded and taken to donation.
If there are any boxes left, they can go to recycle.
My mom wants a few plastic bins.
If those remaining are empty, they stack easily.
There is someone who wants to come and look 
at the children's books this week.
Many sold and there are still 3 boxes left if that is any indicator of the volume.
The thing is~
The house looks and feels sooo much cleaner and calmer.
I doubt we'll ever be featured in "Home and Garden," but it's our home,
and it should work for us rather than us working for it.
We are now that much closer.
Even in the shop, there's a more open feeling.
There are empty pockets of space.
Once these left overs are gone and I can park in there again,
it will just be refreshing.
Since moving here nearly 17 years ago, there seems to always be one reason or another keeping us from being able to park in there.
I did get it to the point that I parked in there this winter.
I have just been really surprised at how calming it has been to have gone through e v e r y t h i n g.
There will always be things to go through and keep on top of,
but from here, it seems manageable - more like maintenance mode.
It's not something that happens in a half-hour like on TV.
It has take a few years to actually go through everything.
There are emotional correlations with 'things,' and life doesn't stop 
so we can deal with all the clutter.
I still have some papers to sort through but 
will wait until I can have a fire going.
I'm sure I'll figure out more that can go,
but for now, I'm going to enjoy this calm feeling.
That's really the best word-
just. . . . calm.

It's the weirdest thing.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sometimes It's Free

Our wood pile looks pretty much the same as it did a couple weeks ago
with the exception that the odds and ends are now stacked.
(There were a couple more rounds that were given to a friend.)
Every so often, I like to check Craigslist for this or that.
If I do, I try to remember to look under the "free" category.
It's most often old mattresses, broken furniture, or a year and a half old "puppy" none of which I am interested in.
This time something caught my attention.
Free black walnut.
And it was near Mr. LB's work.
Our forests are closed right now meaning we can't go get wood.
I contacted the fella and hubby and made arrangements.
Mr. LB took the trailer and after work, picked up 
probably 2/3-3/4 of a cord of wood.
He wanted a couple pieces for a project, and 
the rest will make excellent firewood.
It's still not enough but adds to the stack, and we didn't have to fall it, buck it up, or roll it to the rig however far away.
There were some pieces that needed to be cut smaller, but then only had to be loaded in the back of the trailer that was right there.
We will still need more and would like to get some for my folks too,
but I might continue to watch the list and see what kind of trees 
people are falling in their yards.
I told Mr. LB, one could go around taking up all these "free" trees
and here in a couple months sell it.
No paying for wood permits or dealing with the hassles of USFS.

We're still burning the candle at both ends of the day
so this is a shorter post just letting you know what we're up to.
More soon~

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

To Everything A Season

There is typically a somewhat predictable flow of seasons.
I don't just mean seasons on a calendar though they play a significant roll in what happens with the other seasons. 
So what on earth do I mean by that?
Well, "typically" we are finished up with wood burning season about April,
and we begin wood gathering season.
This year has been a little off.
We still had a fire burning into May. 
After our extreme winter which came complete with avalanches,
we were ready for spring.
But we weren't able to go get wood.
They made our road what they termed as "passable" but only to the last occupied house about 3 miles up the road.
Beyond that, the avalanches stayed to thaw as Mother Nature determined.
Mother Nature was apparently in no great hurry.
That meant we had to wait to get wood.  We have about 2/3 of what we need.
We are hoping to get another load soon as it is now fire season,
and they could shut down the forests at any given moment.
The other off bit is last year I was canning peas the end of June.
This year they ran about 3 weeks later.
That doesn't sound like a great deal of time, but if you think about the work load and how much you can do in 3 weeks, it might make a little more sense.
We've also had our first picking of green beans 
so I've been canning those as well.

My M-I-L gave me 9 (yep 9!) boxes of apricots.
I luuuuv dried apricots.
This year, I'm storing them in canning jars 
so they don't need to go in the freezer.
I did have to purchase the jar sealers, but they work pretty quickly,
and are a nifty thing to have and use.
I thought I was on my last round of dehydrators when my mom gave me another box so I'm still at it.
At one point I had 4 dehydrators going to get them all done before they spoiled.

Salmon season didn't really happen this year.
They decided not to open the majority of the rivers in our area
which means no stock pile of fish.
We still have several jars from last year so we'll use those sparingly.

Between Mr. LB and myself, we did draw all six tags, which if we can fill most of them come hunting season will save us quite a bit on beef.
(Tags: bear, deer, elk)
I have yet to get an elk so that's not something to bank on.
I've already heard that we are supposed to have another hard winter.
Our seasons seem to be stumbling over each other rather than pacing themselves so slow-pokes like me can keep up.
(I like to plant a few wax beans to throw in - adds a bit of a jewel to the jars.)

I now have peas done, we'll be picking another batch of green beans in a day or two, and once again think I am finishing up apricots.
Hopefully, I can get these things finished up then move onto corn
which is already on - early.
We've been running from one end of the day to the other, and our kitchen is a flurry of big bowls, canners, and various implements.  
The nice part is that our pantry shelves are beginning 
to look a little less anemic and at night, I almost literally fall into bed.
Aside from our seasons tumbling down upon us,
we are well.
And thankful mind you, that we have the provisions, skills, and ability
to do as we are doing.
We don't take that for granted.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Built to Last~ Another Odd Antique

Found this in a little pile destined to be buried.
I nabbed it for no particular reason than as a reminder~
When we can't find what we are after,
we can invent it.
I believe it would be used as a turner like tongs.
If you know otherwise, please let me know.
I love learning, and it's one more glimpse into the past.
It still functions just as it is supposed to.
I haven't even cleaned it/them up yet.
I'll give them a good scrubbing then a coat of beeswax 
and see how they look. 

Also, to see other such items,
just type "Built to Last" it the search field.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Churning Butter

A bit of butter a couple years in the makin'.
For the past couple years, I've been on the lookout for a butter churn.
I realize they can be purchased new,
but between the price and the uncertainty of quality
I just couldn't bring myself to pay the price.
A couple weeks ago,
I attended a "Love of Junk" event with my mother-in-law.
I found one there, but the gears were wobbly.
They were asking shy of $100 for it.
My MIL asked if they could do any better on the price.
She said she could let it go for $75.
We thanked her and said we would think about it then didn't return.
I would have had to work on it in order to make it work.
Well, God has a peculiar way of making himself seen.
As I was looking for something on Craigslist for Mr.LB,
I thought, "This is silly.  I should look for something on my list too."
I pulled up "butter churn," and there it was ~ better actually.
I replied and gave the seller my phone number, then waited.
The next day I got that call.
I was over the moon excited.
Not only was there an electric butter churn, there was also the hand crank top
which is what I was really after.
It was an older gentleman who was selling them,
and it was right on my way home from work.
(I live in Timbuktu so this is not the norm.)
He said he didn't have the glass for the hand crank one anymore,
but he just threw it in incase someone wanted it.
I stopped by on my way home from work and picked it up.
We didn't really chat much, but in our exchange,
he said, "Oh you want to use it, not just for decoration?"
Oh yea!
Both are in perfect working order.
This morning on my way to work, I will drop off 
some homemade butter and buttermilk as a thank you.
I hadn't made butter since I was in high school.
So yesterday, I began with the electric one.

Here's the run down~

Pour cream into jar 1/2 - 1/3 full.
Plug it in :-)

Watch as it turns from cream to whipped cream.
My mom says it's really hard to get it past this stage.
She would eat a whole bowl of homemade whipped cream if she could.

Then after a bit, the fats separate from the liquids.
This part happens relatively quickly.

Once the butter and the buttermilk parted ways,
I set a colander in a bowl and dumped.
Then I poured the buttermilk into a mason jar and the butter into the bowl
to be rinsed.
Growing up, my mom either didn't rinse at all or not enough and there would be
little pearls of sour buttermilk in the butter so I never liked butter.
She liked it that way.
I rinsed it well, ate some with dinner last night - delicious!
I started out with two quarts of cream and ended up with 
about a quart of buttermilk and a quart of butter.
The one thing I had forgotten to do was to leave the cream sitting out 
for about an hour prior to churning it.
It will churn faster if closer to room temperature.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Selling the Chicken Tractor and Chicken's New Home

Well folks, sometimes the best laid plans. . . 
Last year, I showed you a post about the chicken tractor.
To date, that has been my most visited page and has received the most pins.
I actually like it too; however, I'm going to sell it.
What I discovered is that it doesn't work for how I run my birds.
It was perfect for a while when "the girls" were young,
and I kept them pinned.
They got to follow a couple days behind the lambs.
As they grew and knew well where their home was,
the mobile coop wasn't necessary.
I could just lift it during the day so they could free-range all day,
then at night they would return to their tractor to roost so the need
for wheels/mobility was gone.
Then we had a Wowza! of a winter ~ the winter of winters.
We had 4-5 feet of snow at any given point for a good 4 months.
The tractor is only a couple feet high at the coop and 
about 4-4.5 ft. high at the house. 
I wasn't intending on giving them a heat lamp, but with subzero temperatures
for long stretches of times, I had to figure out a way to "rig up" a heat lamp
in a fashion that was both safe and effective.
If we hadn't had the winter we did, I would probably be keeping it.
the question then became what to do.
We are empty nesters - the kids have flown the coop~
(sorry, couldn't resist:)
The playhouse that once housed the toys and toddler activity
sat as a decaying storage for 'stuff.'
Here are a couple "before" photos.

So we went to work on it.
You can see there was still snow on the ground which made it a little more difficult to shuffle and sort the "stuff."
But one of the first things I did was cover those crazy colors 
with some left-over white.
Then came the real work.

(Too funny, Mr.LB kept a beard for winter since it was cold for so long.  He has since shaven so it seems funny to see him so furry.)
I also need to mention that this is reason one million, forty-two
why I love Mr.LB.
I had a ton on my plate right about the time 
"the Wees" were ready to emerge from their tote.
I get a different breed each year so I can tell how old they are 
simply by the breed.
Each group seems to get a name.
The Barredrocks were "the Girls."
(They are gone now - long sad story.)
The Rhode Islands are "the Wees." (They were wee ones but have grown.)

And, here are a couple "after" photos.
Sorry they are a little dark.
It's been rainy so my natural light is not as powerful as usual.
We have to run a cord for power which we don't do for summer.
It doesn't take them long to make a mess does it?
And here it is occupied~
Yes the shelf is crooked.
Number 4 thinks it's sooo funny to jump up there to roost.
Then she pretends to be all in a tither when I get her and put her in the coop.
We don't have the outside coop made yet.
For now I just go out and open the door each morning and
go out and close them in each evening.

So, while it's not my ideal coop, they are safe and come winter,
it should be much easier to offer them enough room and safe heat.
The few boards we purchased and the wire were not a huge investment, 
it made good use of the old playhouse,
and it forced me to go through and sort all that "stuff."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Flora Pioneer School Day

Oh, I can hardly wait to share with you.
This past weekend, we attended 
Flora Pioneer School Day.
Flora School
It is a fund-raising day to help maintain and restore the old Flora school.
Flora is a ghost town in the upper north-west corner of Oregon.
You can read more about the history here.
(They are having trouble with the site, but it has other resources and the history and other tabs are all still in good order.)
The first order of business in restoring it was to get a new roof on it
which they did.
Back of the school.

You already know I'm trying not to spend money.
This weekend, we did spend a little money; however,
I told Mr. LB, "It makes you feel good to spend the money."
It's a wonderful feeling of giving and supporting something good.
Keeping bits of the past alive and well preserved is important.
I'll just start showing the pictures,
because there are quite a few.
Mr. LB found the blacksmith directly.
Rip already knows it will be a lengthy conversation so decided to nap.
By the end of the day, he made this steak turner.
If you are interested in the blacksmith, he can be found on Facebook at
Rusty Hammer Forge

There were wagon tours of the town.
The person who actually did the speaking for the tour 
was the last student of the school.
The old church was just across from the school.
It's unfortunate there wasn't an effort to preserve it as well.
The cemetery was 1/4-1/2 mile up the road.

Back inside the school~
In one room there was a country store.

There were 4 or 5 looms for sale (amongst other smaller items.)
I did get the contact information for these.
If anybody is interested, just leave a comment, and I can respond via email.
This room was also the gym even though it was the size of a regular classroom.
The baskets were about 3 ft. from the ceiling.
You can see in the pictures, there is fencing over the windows for protection.
There was music.
They did a great job and played all day!
(with a bit of a break for lunch.)
This room was set up for pie and ice cream.
Oh yea, lunch!
Here, let me show you.
There was dutch oven chicken (1/4 of a chicken!)
That huge pot on the tripod is full of some of the best beans I've ever eaten.
There was also slaw, cornbread made with the corn and wheat that was ground about 20 ft. away by whoever wanted to give it a go, and fresh butter churned at the table right next to it.
It was such a beautiful day,
after lunch the musicians moved outside.
There was roping.
You can just barely see a red t-shirt behind the two gals.
The gal in the hat leaned over right as I took the picture.
Buuuut, it was so sweet.
There was a young fella 9-10 years old holding the rope by the hondo
trying to figure it out.
The fella who had been manning that station was over visiting with the farrier.
I held the dog and told Mr. LB he should go help him out.
He showed him how to hold the rope, then swing and throw.
That young fella practiced for about and hour - hour and a half.
He was "getting it" and was roping the dummy steer.
It was so good to see.
He really wanted to learn and stuck with it.
Speaking of that.
There were quite a few kids there, and I was sooo impressed. 
They were all polite, well behaved and just pleasant.
There were no "brats." 
Sorry, it's usually the parents who teach them, but some are pretty bratty.
Except here - it was such a refreshing realization later in the day.
Then of course after I loaded the pictures on the computer,
I figured out all the things I didn't get a picture of.
There was candle dipping, wheat grinding, butter churning,
wooden block stamping, beading, quilting, a cobbler, a couple of heritage piglets for the kids to see/pet, a quilt raffle, the farrier, and
I'm probably forgetting something, but you get the idea.
I also neglected to take a picture of the auditorium or entry.
In the library, they are working on a library for the community.
It was all so nostalgic.
We took Mrs. Calabash and camped at Troy.
If Flora is at the edge of the earth, Troy fell off and is dangling by a river.
Just out of Flora we saw these beauties.
Sometime back I showed you this barn quilt.
Well, we were in the same corner of the state,
 and this time found a couple more.

I reeeeally like this one.
It was a quick weekend, but completely enjoyable and beautiful.


Friday, May 26, 2017

An Odd Antique and Other Happenings

Sometimes it's just good to share a few of the little happenings
that really do make up life
but are not material for a full post.
I found this odd little rake looking thing a few years ago.
It was about $2 from an antique dealer who didn't know what it was.
I thought, "What the heck."
So I purchased the silly little thing in order to find out more about it.
I asked my father-in-law who is in his 80's.
The only thing he could come up with was a mustache comb.
But if it was for a man, why was the handle pink?
Even long ago, men's items were more masculine than that.
I've never seen another one. . . 
until recently.
It was part of an antique set, there was a brush, comb, and
brush cleaner.
I think this one was made in the "remembrance of Victorian" era 
when there was an item or specific utensil for each and every little task.
Heavens forbid use the comb to clean the brush!
Regardless, I was delighted to finally figure out what it was.

In that last couple weeks, I've been working on getting the garden in.
A funny tidbit was when I was planting green-beans,
I was rather rushed since my folks had stopped by so
then I was trying to get seeds planted so I could go in and cook dinner.
I had all the rows ready, just needed to place the seeds and cover.
I was bookin' right along placing seeds when I heard them~
The chickens were following behind thinking just how nice I was being.
Luckily they only got to about 3 feet worth
so I replaced the ones they gobbled up and shooed them off.
They had a good laugh about that.
We went for a drive Mother's Day.
Got stuck in the snow and had to get "creative" in order to get unstuck.
It was beautiful.
We didn't find a single mushroom.
So far the only mushrooms we've found,
I actually found when I nearly drove over them in our driveway.
There were 3 of them growing through the gravel??? Weird.
Last weekend was the spring Spin-In in Prairie City.
It was absolutely wonderful.
There is such a nice group of ladies.
We took Mrs. Calabash and MrLB took his dirt bike. 
(I need to do a post on how she turned out.)
He thought he'd look for mushrooms while I was spinning.
He didn't find any but he did find a forest fire.
He thought it must have been lightening strikes and 
spent a couple hours fighting it and getting it contained.
There is no cell service up there so once he was back in service,
he made a few phone calls and was finally able to report it.
Turns out, it was a prescribed burn.
They light the fire then leave it for a couple weeks 
before going back to check on it.
Most of that country burnt down last summer and now
the good ol' USFS is lighting fires and leaving them unattended.
So why are Hammonds in prison?
(Sorry for the angst, but that one just blows me away!)
Okay~ New topic.
I've hot jar canned a huge bag of oatmeal.
I don't eat it, but Mr. LB likes his trail mix.
This should last a veeeerrry long time.
This weekend, we will probably try to start getting our firewood.
I need to finish getting the garden in if we are to harvest more than weeds.
We've had a nice wet spring so far.  I'm hoping it lasts into June.
Hope you're all doing well.