Sunday, August 31, 2008

recipe for a sweater ~ part 2

step two: shear the sheep

roxie is looking a little nervous...she knows something is up.

once we catch roxie, the shearer buts her on her rump and she is completely resigned. but, oh the humiliation of it all!

and if she were honest with herself, she would admit that she is very thankful to lose that woolly coat for the summer.

our shearer does such a nice a job of taking the fleece in one complete piece with no second cuts. this makes my job of sorting out the best wool easier because i can determine which area of the sheep the wool comes from. the best wool comes from the shoulders and sides. underneath can become quite soiled and damaged.

stay tuned for part 3...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

recipe for a sweater ~ part 1

step one: get a sheep...or a llama...or both. :o)

meeting amazon and roxie for the first time. "hey, whatcha got in that bucket?"

jericho, shetland wether

in 2005, we decided to add livestock to our little farm. so we bought several llamas and sheep. we searched the internet, library, and country friends for information about raising our new charges. and what a joy they turned out to be. they added an element of adventure to our family. we discovered that llamas have such a peculiar personality that always keeps us entertained! they do a good job of guarding our sheep from coyotes. we found our sheep to be so sweet, gentle and woolly! we also found that if you have sweet feed, a sheep will follow you anywhere.

our flock increased the very next month since both amazon, our cinnamon colored llama and roxie, our cheviot ewe were expecting. amazon gave us andes, an all white crea and roxie had a ram lamb that we named snowflake. with our growing flock i began to wonder what i would do with all that wool.

to be continued...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

homegrown salsa

i have another recipe to share this week, this is for a fresh salsa full of homegrown or farmer's market veggies. we love this so much that i double this recipe when i make it.

homegrown salsa

6 roma tomatoes, diced small
1 bell pepper (green, red, orange, yellow or a combination will look beautiful in this salsa), diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
splash of red wine vinegar
splash of fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

chop tomatoes and drain liquid. chop onion and peppers and combine with the tomatoes. add minced herbs, garlic and remaining ingredients. mix well and chill.

other optional ingredients include chopped olives, black beans, or corn.

yield: 4 cups

everyday gift: the taste of summer tomatoes

homemade granola

oh, i love this recipe. it is so easy and yummy, and there are fond memories attached to this granola. in 1992 i visited suzy and her husband, dwight in vienna who were serving there with greater europe missions. i think i ate this every morning that i stayed there before i would set out for the day sight-seeing. the taste and crunch of this granola remind me of the beautiful sights of vienna, as well as the sweet time i had with good friends. they were such wonderful hosts.

i have made it often since then, but recently remembered this recipe after sampling a similar recipe at a farmer's market. this batch i added roasted pumpkin seeds. i love the honey-sweet and nutty-crunch of this cereal! i hope you enjoy it, too.

homemade granola

2 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped/slivered nuts (any combination of almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds...endless possibilities)
1 tablespoon wheat germ or ground flax seed (optional...only if you are feeling really healthy)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (not olive oil)
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit

Combine all dry ingredients. pour honey and oil over all and stir to coat. spread on a baking sheet with an edge and bake at 300* for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. remove from the oven, stir in raisins and turn out onto foil. cool completely. store in an airtight container.

eat as a cold cereal with milk or just dry as a crunchy snack.

everyday gift: crunchy granola

Sunday, August 24, 2008

these are not used cars...

they are pre-owned.

mark has been pulling these old cars out of the creek, trying to clean things up. it is sad that the previous owners treated this land like a dump, but i must say, these cars had value in entertainment as well as scrap metal!

"i'm sorry officer. i had no idea i was going so fast. i'll slow down, i promise"

this car was only driven once a week to church by granny, really.

am i the only one who is disturbed by the fact that this oldsmobile is riddled with bullet holes???

"dad, can i have the car keys tonight?"

well, we found where they hid the get away car. now all we have to do is uncover that briefcase filled with a million dollars in unmarked bills.

everyday gift: sharing laughter

my best helper

(have i mentioned how much i love this girl???)

everyday gift: homemaker in training

Saturday, August 23, 2008

field of sunflowers

after 2 weeks of airports, hotels, and meetings mark was glad to arrive home on friday afternoon. and we were so glad to have him home! he was restless to be outdoors, so we all went for a tour of mark's sunflower fields. he planted 1 acre of sunflowers as food for the wild life and to draw in the mourning doves. dove season opens on september 1st and he is hoping for a good hunting season.

i tried to get a picture of the gold finch who were feasting on the seeds, but let's just say we didn't exactly sneak up on anyone.

helianthus annus
bumble bee on a sunflower

sampling the sunflower seeds...i think they are better roasted with salt.

everyday gift: having mark home again

Friday, August 22, 2008

another garden friend

preying mantis love to hang out in my lavender plants. in the green foliage they are perfectly camouflaged. or maybe they just love the heavenly scent of lavender, like me.

S poses with our garden friend

do you think she is looking at me thinking that humans are the most unusual of all of God's creations?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

stitching patches

monday night was the court of honor. S and C brought in quite a few merit badges and S moved up in rank. that means that the rest of the week i am stitching patches!
C earned 11 merit badges over the summer including first aid, small boat sailing, archery, horsemanship, bird studies, fly fishing and pioneering.

S was awarded 6 merit badges: swimming, fingerprinting, basketry, environmental science, motor boating, and forestry.

moving up in rank from scout to tenderfoot

on beatrix potter

i have always loved beatrix potter's books. her illustrations are so full of detail and life. there is just something about her characters that make them believable...even though rabbits are wearing little blue coats and clogs. maybe it is because the characters follow the natural tendencies of the creatures or maybe because they are so very much like myself, letting curiosity take me under the garden gate despite the sober warnings of being put into a pie. whatever the reason, her characters have long ago won my heart.

i recently watched the movie Miss Potter, about the life of beatrix potter, and was completely charmed. the movie filled in many details of her life that i had been unaware of. i have become fascinated with her life, her interest in nature and conservation, and her art. the movie has prompted me to read more about this author and illustrator. her life was so much more than the children's stories she published. she was quite an independent woman, living a life she carved out for herself in defiance of her parents' limitations and the social norms of the day. she found a place she loved in the world on her hilltop farm and put her heart into it. she farmed, she raised sheep, she was an active conservationist, and a naturalist, as well as an accomplished artist.

the fact that beatrix potter never attended formal school is another interesting fact to me. and as i prepare to begin school again with B this fall, some interesting quotes in linda lear's book, Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature stand out to me:

"Between early childhood and coming of age, the nursery evolved from nanny's domain to schoolroom, art studio and botanical laboratory. Along the way it became home to a virtual museum collection of live pets and dead specimens, anthropological samples and microscopic studies of plants and insects. Potter's childhood and girlhood was certainly solitary if measured by friendships and social interaction with her peers, but in terms of exposure to the world of art, literature, science, fantasy, travel and natural history, it was a rich and enviable one."

"'Thank goodness, my education was neglected,' Beatrix wrote to an American friend in 1929. 'I was never sent to would have rubbed off some of the originality (if I had not died of shyness or been killed with over pressure).'"

i hope that my children will look back on their early education with satisfaction that the nursery became an art studio and a laboratory. my goal has been to give them a rich experience filled with "art, literature, science, fantasy, travel and natural history" and in addition, a solid foundation of spiritual truth.

i like to think we could have been friends, beatrix and i, sharing stories of sheep escaping from the pasture and critters in the garden.

everyday gift: child-sized books of rabbits and mice

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

going on a frog hunt

following a bike trail that leads through wetlands next to the river. frog town.

these bullfrogs were everywhere! croaking and jumping into the water 20 feet ahead of us on the trail. S had one in his clutches before it slipped through his muddy fingers.

leopard frog

we saw lots of deer and raccoon tracks

female wood ducks! this picture was taken from a distance and i thought they were mallards. but as i downloaded the pictures, i discovered they are the very shy wood ducks!

some type of hibiscus or mallow flower...i couldn't find it in my wild flower book, but isn't it pretty? if you can identify it, leave me a note!

swamp smartweed

wild grapes

brother hunting brother hunting frogs

my little hiker!

frogs are faster than my boys in a swamp. but they gave them a run for their money!

everyday gift: a nature hike

Monday, August 18, 2008

summer snapshots

i can't believe how fast these summer days are flying by! many of the area schools have already started. we are relishing these last two weeks, but have begun to turn our thoughts to the school year with new notebooks, glue sticks, pencils, and rulers; fresh school uniforms for the boys and new school books for B. but before i start sharing my thoughts about the school year, i thought i would linger a bit longer on some of our summer adventures. it has been a lovely summer...

a bonfire with our cousin, A.

target shooting

even B gets in on the action!

bean bag toss. we originally made this game for the cabin in bellevue, but when mark's dad sold it a few years ago, we brought it back to the farm.

oh yeah, C, you are on fire with those bean bags!

swimming lessons

B learning the back stroke

nice diving, S

C, the breast stroke

everyday gift: summer days