Tuesday, November 23, 2010

As promised - pictures, and SNOW!!

You'd think that leaving Reno on the heels of a winter with 3-4' of snow and sub-zero, lamb-freezing nights for 2 weeks would make me not like snow.  However, since my roots are farther south (about 5 miles from the Mexican border to be exact), snow is always fun to me.  They were predicting snow to fall last night, and it did!  These views greeted me as I did "farm snow maintenance" before going into work:
This is in my back pasture, looking north (more or less).

Even though I'm a competent snow driver, most of the people on this side of Oregon are not.  I was able to drive into work in 2-wheel drive until I got 5 blocks from work, when I had to shift into 4-wheel drive.  It's a mess in town, and they only got about an inch.  There's glare ice everywhere, and not enough sand down on the roads.  Since that's the Division that I work for (though not the section - I monitor the swarming behavior of motor vehicles), I was a little disappointed.  Hopefully they'll catch up during the day today, so I can get out of town to get home!

I called my dad last night - since it's going to be snowing all the way home for me on Sunday, I made the decision not to try to get the trailer.  My dad is pleased, other than having put $110 of diesel in his van, since he can drive his car, which is much easier on him.  Maybe in the spring, around Memorial Day, I can get down there to pick it up.  With the new chain rules, Even with 4-wheel drive and traction tires, you have to have chains on the tow vehicle AND the towed vehicle.  Since I've always maintained that if you need chains on a 4-wheel drive, you shouldn't be on the road - this makes much more sense and will be safer.
Here's a picture of the turkey stock (isn't it gorgeous??):

We had a potluck on Friday, which included two deep-fried turkeys.  During clean-up, I asked what they were going to do with all the bones, etc., and since no one else wanted them, took them home to make stock.  They also threw away the necks and giblets (horrors), which I retrieved, and the dogs enjoyed them for dinner.  I simmered all the leftovers for about 6 hours with a chopped onion, some celery (including the leaves), and some carrots.  When it was done, I took it outside to cool (it was 40 degrees).  When I checked on it later, it was still rather warm, so I bailed some water out of a stock tank, set the stockpot in it, and went to bed.  30 gallons of water does a marvelous job of cooling 16 qts. of liquid/bones, etc. down!  After straining out the biggest chunks, I warmed it back up, and put it into the jars.  Now for the neat thing I 'unvented' - since I knew that I hadn't gotten all the solids out, I poured the stock through some butter muslin (a tighter woven cheese cloth).  While it's not clarified, it's definately chunk free!  Amazingly, even though the turkeys were deep fried, there was very little fat.  The broth is really rich in flavor, probably because of the caramelization that happens when the bird is fried.  Yumm!!

Speaking of turkeys, here is a picture of my Auburn tom and one of his hens:
These are a very rare, heritage breed.  Because these particular birds spent a lot of time in my house, he thinks I'm one of his hens and displays to beat the band when I'm around.  Both hens are also very friendly, as well.  These are basically a "brown" standard Bronze - a Moorit Turkey!!

This is a picture of my Black-winged Bronze pair.  They're about 3 yrs. old, and I really like the hen's structure (which isn't very visible in this picture).  I'm hoping to get some poults from them this year.

Ok, so here's the final picture - my sister's sweater, so far.  Now, I know that I am not enamored of the color scheme, but there have been some other opinions floating around.  Here's your chance to comment (not that it makes any difference!!) on what you think of the colors!  It's actually a sweater from "Color Style," and the colors in the book are more my style!  However, I think the pattern is written weirdly, so I'm doing it my own way (bigger steek, not shaped, duplicate stitching in some of the colors instead of having huge long floats on the back).  Since this is actually iteration no. 5, I'm hoping it meets with Mary's approval - I'll know tomorrow evening!

I'll be taking my computer and camera down to Reno with me. It'll be fun to take "touristy" pictures! 

Monday, November 22, 2010


After some discussion with my sister and Sharon, I will post a picture of the sweater whose colors I don't like.  Sharon was surprised that the "Queen of Overdye" couldn't fix them, until I explained that they had been chosen by the recipient, and weren't subject to change!  I will gladly entertain your opinions of the color scheme!

I also canned 11 qts. of turkey stock yesterday - I'll post pictures of that, too, since I think they're beautiful!

We're in for some cold weather, just in time for me to be out of town - dang.  Last year, when it got this cold, my well pump froze and I had to replace it.  I'll be scrambling tonight to get the pumphouse secured and heated so that doesn't happen when I'm in Reno!  I'm thinking about stacking strawbales around the outside (some large equine or other used the pumphouse as a rubbing spot, so it's all cattywhompus, and needs to be straightened up).  Of course, until the straw bales get wet, the 4 footed animals in the pasture will nibble on them. 

As of today, I have had 10 inches of rain in the month of November.  I usually start my rain year the first of November, since that's when I got my rain gauge 3 years ago.  The first year I kept track, I had 89.75 inches of rain.  The next year, I had 68.5, and last year I had 52+/-.  Since I'm on the coast side of the coast range, I get lots of rain and some snow.  Right now, the ground is saturated, and the rain is just pooling or running off.  The guy I get my hay from lives in the valley just to the north of me, and speculates that in our area, the land can only hold so much and all the rest runs off.  I'm not sure, but right now that's the case!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It only takes time...

As you can see from the following photo, I've had another set-back in the knee healing process.  I jinxed myself last Sunday by saying they felt almost Normal...  After going to the doctor, he prescribed being in an imobilizer brace for 2 weeks, and then we'll recheck. He thinks it's the chip from when I ran into the truck hitch (back when I was still in crutches), but I'm not convinced, since the discomfort is on the other side of my right knee.  The brace actually feels good, and I slept with the "real" imobilizer the other night, which I think helped.  Considering that I had both knees done, and that the right one has always been the weaker of the two, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's being a little slow, but geez - let's get on with it, already!

A Merlin update:  He has, after 6 months, decided that I'm more or less ok.  He seeks me out in the pasture if I'm out there doing something, and follows me around out there.  In his own unique way, he's "joining up."  I'm really looking forward to working with him, and more so, riding him!  He's a very sweet horse, kind of a turd to his own kind, but is really softening his attitude towards people.  Interestingly, he really likes men, of which I have few around, so when a male type visits, he's all over them - pretty funny, since he's 16.2 and seems rather large (until you get around Chris, who is 17.1 and makes Merlin look petite). 

Both boys have had 2 trims by a natural hoof farrier, and their feet look like horse feet should.  With the biotin supplementation, their crappy thoroughbred feet are looking much better!  My new farrier is about 5'2", and rides her Haflinger in dressage.  She really admires Merlin's conformation, and thinks he will be really good at dressage (assuming I can get his brain to stay with his body!).

The last of the turkeys have been butchered and delivered.  I have an Auburn trio left, a pair of Blackwinged Bronzes and the Peafowl pair.  I'm going to move them down to the front of the barn, along with the chickens (in a separate pen) so that it's easier to feed them in the rain.  This has the added benefit of moving the peacock away from my neighbor's bedroom...  I learned alot this year (as I do every year after harvesting the livestock): A)I had about equal numbers of people wanting big birds and littler ones; B)The Auburns don't get that big (the toms dressed out in the 12-13 lb. range); C) I need to be able to separate the smaller, slower growing birds from the faster ones; D) I'm going back to getting standard Bronzes for the big ones, the Auburns will be the mid-sized birds,and I may get a few Midget Whites for those who want a really small turkey.  I need to get an incubator, and have a brooder room for the eggs that the girls lay this coming spring.  I'm thinking about a permanent "bird pasture" and turkey building that I can move them through to use the pasture effectively.  Of course, this will involve using, you guessed it, a tractor and power tools!  Arr, arr, arr.

I've been dithering around with fiberish things.  I have a sweater that I'm knitting for my sister; unfortunately, I think the colors are hideous (sorry, Mary), and it's really hard to work on it!  I have a couple of things on the needles for me, including this shawl:

As a bonus, when the turkeys were butchered, I was able to save some wing primaries from the Auburns - Is this just too cool, or what?

It has all sorts of possibilities, now.  The yarn is a mohair/viscose/nylon that was in Mom's stash that I inherited.  The shawl is loosely patterned on EZ's Pi shawl, but knit back and forth instead of in a circle.  In the increase rows (yo, k1, repeat), it leaves these lovely spaces to put things, like leather stips with silver cones and turkey feathers...

Somehow, I've not found the time/inclination to spin lately, and as such I'm taking my mom's wheel back to my dad at Thanksgiving.  He has more room, and can gaze on it lovingly and remember putting it together and finishing it for mom.  Eventually, it will come back to me, but maybe by then I'll have more room!!

A friend of mine and I are driving down to my sister's in Reno for Thanksgiving - I'm bringing the bird.  It will be fun to see the Homies while I'm there.  My dad is bringing up his travel trailer, an older 19.5' Komfort, which he is no longer using, and is giving to me.  I'm going to use it as guest quarters, and the party pad at sheep shows!  In addition, if next summer is too hot, I'll just go in there, since it has air conditioning!  I'm hoping that I won't have to drive back through snow, but it's not looking too promising...  Gotta get chains, dang it.  I'm planning to split the drive home up into two parts, which will make it way easier, and I'll be able to drive during the day, when it's warmer, and I can see...

Friday, November 5, 2010

What I do in my "not so" spare time...

When I walked into work today, the guys (I work in a building full of men) were all saying that I was famous!  Turns out my picture is in the paper - ok, sort of the back left side of my head, but still...

A local reporter did a story on the City Singers, of which I'm a part, and came to our rehersal yesterday to take pictures.  The story appears Here - click on the "photo" tab to see the picture.  I think the article was pretty well done, actually.  As it says, we will be performing tonight, about an hour's program.  It's always fun to sing at our library; we stand under the "rotunda," a large 3-story tall space between spiral staircases.  The accoustics are awesome!

In other news, I have acquired 3 rodenators in training.  Unfortunately, I accidentally knocked my camera off my desk at work, and it's not working.  I might just have to follow Michelle's lead and go to Costco.  As soon as I have picture-taking abilities again, I'll post their pictures.  Only one has a name, Ted (as in Kusinski) - he's a Maine Coon looking kitten, really pretty, but not at all socialized.  They're in my spare bathroom, where he's usually found hiding under the toilet...  The other two are brothers, all black (black tabbies, really), and they are much more friendly.  Both mothers of these kittens were feral, and I got them from a gal who caught the kittens when they were older to get them off the streets.  I'd like to name the black boys Chaos and Mayhem, but those don't really fit.  Oh well, I'm sure in a couple of weeks, with liberal applications of margaritas, I'll come up with something!