Thursday, June 30, 2011

Giveaway Results

To new friends, old friends and beloved sisters, I will send each of you a little something from our farm.  If the dogs keep misbehaving, I might send them along too.

Dog Tired

Now that we have two dogs, it seems to be my destiny to never get to work on time again.  It feels like the minute they can sense that I'm trying to get ready for work or get out the door, the mischief begins.  Between the perpetual and persistent ankle-biter, the cranky big sister dog, and the business of in and out and in and out to suit everyone's bathroom needs, it's amazing that I even have time to brush my teeth before heading to the library.  This morning, it was out in the yard 3 times, follow me to the mailbox, don't eat each other's food, where's the puppy, get out of the garden, come in and eat, stop biting me!  And just when I had thrown some food into my bag (an apple and a jar of peanut butter), found my cell phone on top of the stove, and tried to coax Daisy inside with a treat, something went terribly wrong.  I couldn't get Daisy in the house because she was having way too much fun out in the corn field, rolling in something so despicable, so indescribably foul, my eyes started watering and I almost lost my Rice Krispies.  She ran inside the house, bringing the stench with her.  And then I almost had a mini-meltdown.  I held my breath, put her on a leash and got her outside to spray her with the hose.  And the smell would not go away.  It was burned into my nostrils.  I let her shake off and then rubbed her down with a towel and tried to get her to go to her bed (she didn't mind the smell one bit) and instead went under our bed.  By this point it was 9:55 and the library is supposed to open at 10.  So the library opened at 10:10 and my house is probably going to reek when I get home.

I need a vacation.  Can't wait to spend more than 12 hours in the car with those dogs tomorrow.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Busy Summer Days

Well, I ate chocolate from the world's best chocolate shop, picked up my computer, and shared the new puppy with the family this weekend.  I also had the largest omelet I have ever seen at breakfast with my aunt and grandparents (there had to be at least 8 eggs in that thing!), ate ice cream with my friend Jordan, had more ice cream at the Dairy Joy (our favorite little ice cream and soda fountain out in the country), and went to the farmer's market with my mom.  It was a very short, but very full and fun weekend at home.  And at the last minute, Joey's sister Marta decided to come back to our little farm with me.  It was nice to have someone in the car with me for the four hour drive and the puppy slept the whole way home.

Joey and I were both at work all day yesterday so Marta had the house and the dogs to herself.  When we got home from work we picked up pizzas from the little store in town and watched a movie.  I left my toiletry bag at my parents and wanted to buy another toothbrush while we picked up the pizzas.  No luck.  So don't forget to pack your toothbrush if you come to visit us, they don't sell them in this town.  They did have toothpaste though. I had to drive Marta the 25 minutes to the train station this morning to catch a 7 am train back to the city, and we barely made it.  My car pulled into the station at the same time the train pulled in.  She jumped out of my car and onto the platform.  Although 6 am is a lot earlier than I usually wake up, I was able to buy two new toothbrushes at the Wal-Mart in town as well as a few things for our 4th of July vacation.

I'm counting the days, hours, and minutes until we get to our cabin on Madeline Island on Lake Superior.  My family has spent the last 14 summers on the island and even more time since my parents bought property up there in 2005.  We have a little cabin, a couple acres of woods, a private beach, and lots of kayaks, canoes, and bicycles.  The fourth of July parade and fireworks are amazing, especially considering that there are only a couple hundred full-time residents on the island.  Last year we found out the drive is about 12 hours from our new house.  Not so fun.  It's about 8 hours from my parents' house (if you're like my dad and only stop for gas and bathrooms, or longer if you're my mom and like to stop at antique malls)  We've all talked about moving to Southern Wisconsin just to make the trip shorter.  We love it up there that much.  So I'll be busy the next few days getting ready for the trip.  Joey and I are leaving Friday after work and driving as far as we can and sleeping in the car with the dogs (I'll let you know how that goes...) and then driving the rest of the way to the ferry on Saturday morning.

Do you have any fun plans for the fourth?  Any special things you have to do or see every year?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend Giveaway

Going home this weekend to share the new puppy with the family, pick up my computer (finalllllly), see my grandparents, go to a tractor show, eat chocolate from the best chocolate shop in the world, pick up the rabbit hutch my dad's been building for our bunny, and who knows what else...  Should be another busy weekend.

I'm bringing home a couple jars of homemade strawberry jam and lots of bags of garden-fresh lettuce that's growing faster than we can eat it.  Over Easter, I shared tomato plants that I started from seed with my parents, grandparents, and aunt and uncle.  One of the best things about our little farm is sharing the bounty of what we grow and cook with our family and friends.  With this thought, I am introducing the first-ever FarmBoots Giveaway!  All you have to do is comment on this post and finish this sentence : "My favorite thing about summertime is..."  Leave your email address (I will only email you if you win.)  I will put all the names into a hat and pick a winner!  What will you win?  A box of goodies from our little farm.  It may include a jar of home-made jam, hand-sewn oven-mitts, or a few of our favorite recipes...If your name is drawn I will contact you by email.  Good Luck and have a great weekend!

Oh, P.S. Thanks for reading!  I'm having a great time sharing my little farm adventures you!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

PJ Pants and Rain Boots


Here's a snapshot of my morning:
I got up around 8 am to take the puppy out to the backyard...
I checked out how things are growing in the garden while Jip did his business.  Everything is growing like crazy...we have more lettuce than we can eat and the zucchini and cucumbers are expanding their territory by the second. 
Then I relaxed in one of our new Adirondack chairs (thanks for picking these off the curb, Dad!) and enjoyed the cool breeze and tried to ignore the puppy biting my ankles and getting his teeth stuck in my pajama pants. (By the way, if you're trying to imagine the whole picture, I was wearing pink cupcake pants tucked into cow-print rubber boots.  I'm sure my neighbors probably get a kick out of my morning attire - at least the sheep, chickens, and dogs don't seem to mind.) 

 It's probably part of his herding instinct, but Jip can't resist latching his little teeth onto moving legs.  If you're wearing jeans, you can walk around with his little body still attached at your ankle while he determinedly hangs on and growls like you are a giant rubber steak dog toy.  It's kinda like when the annoying kids you babysat for climbed onto your ankles while you are hastily trying to get out the door and assuring the mother that they didn't misbehave once...
Then I fed the chickens the tops I cut off all the strawberries I used to make jam.  I made 14 half-pint jars of strawberry jam between last Sunday and last night.  Yum.  And the chickens were happy too.  
On the way back to the house, I noticed some of my peas are starting to come in. The only problem is that I can't remember which row I planted with snap peas and which was shell peas...
By that time, Jip was waiting by the back door, ready to go inside and terrorize Daisy some more.  (Don't let that innocent face fool you.)

So, here's another pitch to come and visit us: you can wake up to a rooster crowing and enjoy the fresh country air, sit back and watch the sheep or the zucchini growing, feed strawberries to the chickens, eat homemade jam on toast, and get a furry new ankle accessory.  Sound nice, doesn't it?  As previously mentioned, all accommodations can be paid for with dish-washing services.  See you soon!




Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Take a Hike

Lately, in an attempt to stop being so sloth-like in the evenings, we've been trying to peel our backsides from the couch cushions (you know how hard that is after a long day at work) and take Daisy out for a walk around town.  This also gives Daisy some much-needed attention and time away from her little brother Jip, who can't help but chew on her tail and chase her around the house.  Since both of us spend a lot of time sitting all day at work, it feels good to get outside in the summer air and get a little exercise.

Since we have started our after-dinner walk routine last week, we have pretty much walked around the entire town (there's not much to it.)  But it seems that every night we discover something new or see something we wouldn't see from our cars.  We have walked past some amazing vegetable gardens, stopped at a little league baseball game down at the ball-park (yes, we were those creeps who don't actually have any kids playing the game,) and rubbed a friendly horse's nose.  And got sneezed on by said horse.  And last night, we discovered a gravel road that leads out of town, behind a farm with barns and a windmill, through cornfields and the wide open sky.  Last night, we walked down that gravel road and watched a storm past to the south.  A light breeze rustled through the knee-high corn and the pink sky reflected in the prairie grasses growing along the gravel.  With our backs to town, and our eyes to the skies we felt like we were walking on a forgotten road, just me, Joey, and Daisy.  Being able to see the weather played out so boldly across the open sky, without a house, or car, or anyone else in sight, reminded us of our dream of living on a bigger farm, far out in the country, someday.

For now, we are staying in our Vermont house.  We thought about what was in our hearts, and it wasn't moving even farther away from our family, just for a job.  In the next couple years, we hope to move to a bigger farm and be closer to our family.  We know that our roots are planted in agriculture and sustainability, it's what we dreamed about growing up and what we studied in college.  Joey studied agriculture and animal science and I studied environmental studies and studio art in fibers.  We loved working together on the 15-acre vegetable farm in the city where we grew up (and my sister works there now.)  The farmer was an inspiration to us, providing local food in the middle of a city environment, even when it wasn't popular.  He grew up being a farmer, and in a way, we did too.  Sometimes, all it takes is a walk under an open sky to remember what is important to you, what your dreams are, and how amazing lightning bugs look on a summer evening in the country.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2 Brats and a Veggie Dog

We spent our anniversary in perfect farm-fashion: weeding the garden, chasing chickens around the yard, gazing at sheep, and watching a movie with two sleeping dogs at our feet.  We ate brats (veggie dog for me!) and potato salad and Joey dragged the puppy around the kitchen floor on a dishtowel.  It wasn't anything fancy, but it was perfectly simple.  Hopefully we can spend the rest of our anniversaries and milestones in the same way: on a little piece of land, with farm animals and good food (sometimes they are one and the same), with dogs, and movies, and the little things we love.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eight Years

There's nothing quite like a game of Electronic Dream Phone to start a lasting relationship.  Yep, eight years ago today, Joey and I were playing this board game with our friend Alexandra, in her basement when he asked, "Do you wanna go out with me?" And I said "sure."  Look where we ended up.



I'm sure most 16 year-old boys would not admit to playing Electronic Dream Phone, but it's where our love story began.  I think I knew that Joey had a crush on me.  From what I remember, our friend Ben, who was in the same biology class as Alex and me, asked me in class one day at the end of sophomore year, "so do you like Joe?"  Which is a totally obvious boy-way of saying "Joe likes you."  I'm sure Alex and I laughed about it and wrote at least 15 notes (we both still have boxes of notes we passed with our friend Jordan in junior high and high school.)  We invited Joey to hang out with "our group" of friends (3 girls and 2 guys...one year we were the Scooby Doo gang for Halloween...I was Scooby.)  And then, a couple weeks after school got out for summer, there we were: me, Alexandra, and Joey down in Alexandra's basement playing an exciting game of Electronic Dream Date.  Basically, you had to pick up a card with a picture of guy with a 90's haircut on it and call his "phone number" on the plastic "phone" and he would give you clues about who your crush was.  Things like "he's not at the mall" or "he doesn't like skateboarding" and then you had to see who was at the mall and use the process of elimination to find your guy.  Part way through the game, Alex got a telephone call and went upstairs to answer it (we didn't have cell phones) and Joey asked me out.  I said "sure" and Alex came back down and we resumed play.  After her dad dropped me off at my house I called Alexandra immediately to tell her what happened when she was on the phone.  And, the rest is history.

Four months ago, Alexandra, Ben, and Jordan were in our wedding.  In eight years, we have graduated high school, graduated from college, changed jobs, bought a house in the country, gotten married, and raised lambs and chickens.  And although many things have changed over the years, we're still pretty much the same.  We still love to make each other laugh and we still like watching stupid movies; only now we actually have driver's licenses and cell phones.  We were actually in Alexandra's basement last Saturday (her dad had some old John Deere tractor toys down there he promised to Joey.)  We were at her house to celebrate her graduation from graduate school and to wish her well at her new job and apartment in Pittsburgh.  It was sad to think about how we've all moved away from home and away from each other.  Even the basement has been re-arranged.  The couch where we used to have sleep-overs every weekend is now in her little brother's apartment.  We've all come a long way in eight years.  



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

News

Well, I'm still on the library computer but- good news!  The Apple Store just called and said my computer was ready to be picked up, annnd best of all: I didn't lose any data!!!  Deep sigh of relief.  This was after a stressful trip to the store on Saturday where they couldn't figure out what was wrong and had to send it out for $280.  Ouch.  And, they said I might lose my data if it wasn't backed up (which of course, it wasn't.)  So I had to buy an external hard drive for them to transfer my data to (another $130.)  Stressed out face...It didn't help that there was approximately 120 people in the store at the time...which was a little overwhelming for a girl who sits in a quiet library all day.  Also, I think that's about 1/5 of the population of my little town...weird.

So my computer is fixed, but it is still 4 hours away in my hometown, so I have to wait until next weekend when I go home to get it.  So I may not be up to my regular posting.  But don't be sad...I have more good news!

Our little farm family has a new addition.  On Monday, we went to a farm about an hour away and got a six-week-old Australian Shepherd puppy!  We are hoping to raise him to help herd the sheep.  Both of his parents herd cattle on the farm where they live so we're hoping he'll catch on to sheep.  Also, I grew up with an Australian Shepherd and she was the best dog ever. (Aren't all childhood dogs?) We just went to the farm "to look."  And came home with him.  Oops.  I'm pretty sure that 99% of the time someone goes "just to look" at a puppy, they bring it home.  I mean, who can resist a puppy?  You take one look at it and forget about all the work it takes to raise it.  All you want to do is snuggle it into your face.  It probably didn't help that he has the exact same coloring as my old dog, Pebbles.  He's what I imagine she looked like as a puppy.

So get ready for lots of pictures and stories of our newest addition, Jip!  (His name came from my favorite James Herriot story, Only One Woof.)

Oh yeah, Daisy is terrified of him.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

So far, so good

I haven't received any calls at work today telling me my sheep are out roaming the neighborhood.  That's always a sign my day is going fairly well.  Besides getting a call from Joey asking if we can get an Australian Shepherd puppy, my day has been pretty uneventful.  Only 16 people have visited the library today.  It's been a looong day.  But at least there's air-conditioning.  And I'm the librarian, so I control the thermostat.  Well, it's more like I'm the only one here, so I control the thermostat.  Yes, for most of the week, I work alone (I have the only full-time position of 34 hours a week and then I have 3 retired teachers who each work with me for 3 hours a week.)  And sometimes (like now)  there isn't a single person in the library.  So here I am, basking in my climate controlled room full of books.  It's just me and the books.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another One of Those Days...

The kind where you find out your checking account has -$17.72 and your neighbor calls you at work to tell you that your sheep have escaped.  All before lunch.

Don't worry, both situations have been resolved.  And I haven't even gotten off of work yet.  I ran home during my lunch break(plus 15 minutes...oops) to check on the sheep.  By the time I got there, my lovely neighbor had already put them back in their pasture.  Luckily, it was the boys who were the escapees and the neighbor was out watering her garden and caught them munching on the lawn.  If it had been the girls, they probably would have been gone.  Susan (our flighty sheep) would have probably freaked out and caused hysteria amongst the girls (as usual.)  Instead, the boys, Dodge (daddy ram), his sons Clive and Mack, and his adopted son Patrick, were happily standing in the shade by the barn.  My neighbor, Sandy, said she went out there and walked toward them and they just ran right back over the fence they knocked down and she put it back up.  The funniest thing is that she said "Fatty" just took one look at her and went back where he was supposed to be.  Turns out, "Fatty" is what they call Patrick when they sit back in their lawn chairs and watch our sheep from their yard.  Poor Fatty Patty.  He's not fat, he's just fluffy.

Also, I know they didn't mean to knock the fence down either.  Sheep don't plot.  They just like to scratch their bodies against anything that's solid (or somewhat solid, in the case of the fence.)  Dodge is a big sheep with big itches and the way the gate was propped up was just not strong enough for him to lean his entire body weight on.  So down it went and out they gamboled.  Joey is in the process of mucking out the barn right now so the boys can't go in and get any shade so I'm sure they thought it was nice to stand under the ginkgo tree for a couple minutes.  For sheep, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

My computer is still down until I take it to the Apple store this weekend (cross your fingers they can fix it!)  Hopefully I can get pictures up soon of the garden and last weekend's news - bathroom renovations and the acquisition of new chickens!  I had all sorts of things I was going to blog about until the goblins killed my computer. Maybe the computer dying on Sunday was just the beginning of "one of those weeks..."  I surely hope not.  I can't handle any more technical failures, checks cashed a month after I write them, or escaped livestock.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Computer Woes

Yesterday morning, I was woken up by Joey asking me why my computer wouldn't turn on.  What?!  I jumped out of bed to find my poor little macbook, completely lifeless and unresponsive to any attempts to bring it back to life.  I don't know what happened.  We had a lightening storm in the night but it was plugged into a surge protector and nothing else that was plugged in was harmed.  I blame the goblins.  The night before, Joey and I were surfing YouTube, spending our Saturday night watching clips of worst movie acting and worst movies ever made when we came across a clip from a movie called "Troll 2."  It was so bad, it was hilarious.  And surprisingly, it was on Netflix.  So we watched it.  Basically, it's a film made in 1986 about a family that goes on vacation to the country to a small town called Nilbog (anyone notice that's goblin spelled backwards?)  The little boy keeps seeing his dead Grandpa who warns him that the goblins want to eat him and his family.  First, the goblins make you eat food that looks like green frosting, then you start turning into green goop and the goblins eat you.  The actors, dialogue and special effects were so bad.  And the worst part was that it was called "Troll 2" and there weren't even any trolls.  Playing that movie was the last thing the computer did.  I don't know what is wrong with the computer, it is only two years old.  Hopefully, it can be fixed, because all of our photos are on it and I can't really buy a new computer.  So we'll see.  I am going to take it to the Apple store when I am back home this weekend.  Until then, my posts will be from the library computer.  I'll just tell the people at the Apple store that goblins got my computer. :(

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Shearing

Joey using electric shears to clip Dodge's wool

Look at how thick it was!

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Almost done - he looks like a whole new sheep!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Literary Society Cookies

Just returned from book club.  The cookies and cucumber tea sandwiches were a hit!  Here is the recipe for the cookies that got our minds flowing with lots of good book discussion:

From Betty Crocker's Cooky Book (1963)

Russian Teacakes
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

Mix sugar, butter, and vanilla thoroughly.  Measure flour by dipping method.  Stir flour and salt together; blend in.  Mix in nuts.  Chill dough (only for a little bit though, because I chilled mine overnight and it was too hard and crumbly so I had to microwave it for 30 seconds.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough in 1" balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet. (Cookies do not spread.)  Bake 10-12 min, or until set but not brown.  (In my oven, this was about 7-8 min.)  While still warm, roll in confectioner's sugar.  Cool.  Roll in sugar again.

Pretty easy.  And the powdered sugar coats your fingers when you roll the cookies in it and then you have no excuse not to lick your fingers.  I made these this morning before work and consumed quite a bit of sugar.  It keep me going until lunch anyway.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coming Soon...

Joey finally got around to shearing our behemoth Merino ram, Dodge.  Pictures will be up shortly.  Turns out, under all that wool, he's not that big after all.  He's actually quite handsome.

In other news, the Astoria Library Book Club meets tomorrow night!  We read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  It has a long title but it was a quick read.  I couldn't peel myself away from this book!  Such great characters and a good story set just after the end of WWII in Britain.  It's my turn to make the snack for the meeting and I thought about trying to make a potato peel pie until I read that the author advised against it.  She said she tried it and would never try it again...pretty much exactly what it sounds like: potato peels for crust and mashed potato (without milk or butter) inside.  Oh, an a splash of beet juice for color.  The book talks about a few things the members of the Guernsey Literary Society ate during the war but nothing sounded too appetizing without flour, sugar, eggs or butter.  So I am going to stick with English tea cookies and maybe some little cucumber sandwiches.  The recipe for the cookies comes from my favorite vintage Betty Crocker Cooky Book that my mom and I baked from when I was growing up.  I will try to post the recipe so that you can read the Guernsey Literary Society and eat cookies too.