Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Song dogs...

(this image from: http://yosemiteblog.com/2008/02/04/photo-of-the-day-a-pair-of-coyotes-by-thaths/) Last night, after I had walked out with the dogs one last time and delivered a couple of flakes of hay to the goats and horse, I snuggled into clean sheets and fell promptly and happily asleep. About an hour later I was jarred awake by a sound. The sort of sound that makes all those little hairs on the back of ones neck stand at attention. I stopped breathing, and listened very carefully. Outside my window, and very nearby, there was a chorus of howling under the nearly full moon. The calls were punctuated with high pitched "yips" and then many voices would lift again to howl. I woke my husband. "Do you hear that?" I asked. "Yes," he said. "Coyotes!" I whispered. "I am going to go check the animals." "OK," he said. I had hoped he would volunteer, but instead he pulled the down comforter higher up under his beard and resumed his peaceful breathing. I am sure I was a vision in my pink elephant flannel pajamas, calf-high muck boots and giant flashlight. It was snowing, and I slipped down the deck and out to the pasture, shining my light all around. It was as silent as only a snowy night can be, and the only eyes that reflected light back to me where those of the goats. They were very alert, necks stretched, ears forward. As animals of prey, they pay close attention to threats,and a pack of coyotes so close had them on their toes. The horse was unconcerned, nibbling hay. I stood outside a while, listening. Watching. The song dogs were gone, or hushed at least. Fretful, I returned to the house. The visiting Golden Retriever was asleep by the door. Upstairs two pugs and a toy poodle were sprawled out on my side of the bed, and the big standard poodle was statue still on her stack of cushions. None of them had made the slightest sound when the coyotes where calling from the front yard. These are dogs that will erupt into a deafening cacophony of barking if a leaf falls, but faced with a pack of wild canids they had nothing to say. I fell asleep after a while, dreaming of livestock guardian dogs and thinking my current breed list is a whole lot of useless. Unless you count snuggling. They are very good at snuggling.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gift to myself...

I've been on a bit of a self imposed "austerity budget" of late. I think long and hard before buying lunch out, or any little trinket that catches my eye. But I splurged this week. Here is the story. For many years I have picked up odd dishes and bowls and used them, wonderfully mismatched, for our "every day" dishes. I had part of a set of plain white dishes that I had picked up a while back, but then, tucked amongst them were little numbers that had struck my fancy at a yard sale or junk shop. And I liked this just fine. Until about a month ago when I decided that all those different colors and SIZES were making me feel cranky. Here is what my cabinet looked like, (though it was missing a number of items in the dishwasher when I snapped this shot.) It was mostly the mismatched bowls of differing sizes that pushed me over the edge.
So I began to haunt the internet, looking for new dishes. I wanted something simple, with clean lines. And I wanted dishes that were open stock so I could replace any we broke, because we are prone to "whoops!" And I didn't want to spend much money, see budget information above. My sister has some dishes from Crate and Barrel that I like very much, so on Monday I looked there. And wouldn't you know they were having a sale! Not only that, but if I ordered on that very day I'd get free shipping. AND my niece has some kind of magic powers that enabled her to order them and save an additional 10%! Before you could say "ugly mug" the order was placed!
I heard some thumping on the deck this morning, and lo and behold, the wonderful UPS man was here, hauling big boxes to my door! Yippee! I felt like a kid at Christmas.
Wow, the packing people at that company can really wrap! There was a mountain of packing material and nary a chip in any of my pretty new dishes. After I unpacked them all I popped them into the dishwasher, and then took everything out of the cabinet, peeled up the old shelf liner and gave the whole thing a good scrubbing. Next I was out the door like a shot to buy new liner at my beloved Union True Value hardware store. Back home I lined the shelves, (something I am very bad at!) And...
Now when I open my cabinet I smile. Next I will keep an eye out for new glassware and maybe lose some of my "classy" Mason jars!


The thermometer registered -5 this morning when I went out to do chores. By noon it was MUCH warmer! So warm I went out without gloves, which was just stupid. 15 is still cold.
The wind is gusting from the west. Chanel turns her broad backside to the wind while she chows down on hay. The weather does not seem to bother her, but the icy footing in the pasture has her walking with great care.
The goats pretty much refuse to leave the shelter of the shed. I have added lots and LOTS of bedding, bales of straw and shavings to insulate them from the cold ground and give them something to snuggle down in. And they are sporting their new coats, which do seem to help some. Poor goats, I'd love to bring them in and tuck them in by the wood stove!
The bunnies coat is very thick. She voluntarily stays outside at night, but meets me at the chicken coop in the morning. There she drinks deeply of the warm water I bring, nibbles on carrots and salad greens and seeds and hangs out in the shelter of the snug coop with the birds. Later she goes from sunny spot to sunny spot in the yard and sits very still, curled into a tight ball and fluffed up. She looks very cute that way, and manages this weather fine. As for me, I wear double gloves (tight leather ones topped by warm, lined knit gloves.) I pull a fleece headband over my ears, then cram my warmest hat on top of that. My boots are insulated and my jacket is thick and warm. But I still can't stay outside for long, making many short trips a day to enjoy the critters and huddling close to the stove when I am inside.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pup date..!

The puppies are 4 weeks old now, and getting cuter by the second. They are beginning to play with each other and their mama, waddle through their food, use the potty pad as needed and make lots of little noises. They are so chubby that if one is sleeping on its back, it has a hard time turning right side up. They remind us of soft little turtles! They bring a lot of smiles.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Kinda greasy..."

Just as the weather people predicted, we had snow today. Tiny flakes began to fall at dawn, and I enjoyed them as I did morning chores.
By the time I left for work, not much accumulation had occurred. But the roads were scary slippery and I drove white-knuckled all the way. I saw several cars skidding and slipping, one did a 360 degree spin not far in front of me. Roads like this are described by Mainer's as "kinda greasy."
The ride home was not as bad, but I find that driving on slick roads makes me oh-so-grateful to be home, where my heart is.
Once inside, I light every candle in the place, poke the wood stove till it roars like a caged bear, and start cooking. When my husband arrives home safely I breath deeply and relax into the coziness of a winter evening. Let it snow and blow and be "greasy," we are cozy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The gloaming...

I love the light of late afternoon, no matter the season. I stopped doing chores to go get my camera and capture the way the setting sun warmed the knee deep snow and dining animals.
When Luna goat saw me standing there she pivoted, mouth full, and bounded towards me...
She was rewarded with scratches and a long snuggle before she returned to supper.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New kitchen widget...

My husband gifted me with a cast iron Dutch oven. I took it for a test drive tonight. One of our home raised chickens was elected for the trial run of the new pot. And this recipe is how I prepared it. It sounded so weird I just had to try it. http://www.thekitchn.com/the-ultimate-bird-jamies-chick-80388 Imagine, a recipe with chicken, milk, sage, cinnamon and garlic. The description in the above like was totally convincing. And true! The recipe is amazing. I love my new kitchen widget and look forward to many delicious creations in it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Capturing magic...

On my sixth Christmas I was given a Flexible Flyer sled. There was snow that day, and I remember my siblings and I going outside to play with our new toys while my mother readied for the onslaught of relatives who were coming for dinner. Belly-down I descended the small hill closest to our house. The sun was shining, and I vividly remember that when my sled came to rest I could see the snowflakes below my face, perfectly illuminated. It may have been the first time I ever realized how each individual flake was so perfectly and uniquely shaped. It dawned on me that the thick blanket of snow I rode on was made up of layers upon layers of miniscule, perfect crystals. I wanted to capture the image of them somehow, but could not.
This morning, while I was doing chores, huge, feathery flakes began to fall. I sat for a long time and watched them landing on my horses back. The warmth of her body quickly turned them from angular flakes to rounded water droplets. She was unconcerned, and concentrated on her hay.
I returned to the house for my camera to see if I could capture the perfection of the flakes this time. The chickadees whirred around me as I snapped up pictures, calling to each other with glad voices.
A happy time was spent alone, focusing on the beauty around me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year...

The new calender is hung, birthdays, deadlines and appointments carefully written in on previously blank pages. But there is still an abundance of empty space to be filled, and the possibilities are exhilarating. Like this pine cone, with seeds tucked up inside it, there is endless potential in the days to come.