Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A+




My girl. Even when she's away all day at school, I can't help but be reminded of her... mainly because everything around me is in desperate need of a vacuuming/dusting... but also because she just can't resist marking her territory. Without fail, if something is dusty she'll find it first, and you'll know it.

It cracks me up.

What a goofball.

A+.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

10 Little Piggies

Warning: this post is a bit more graphic than most of what I usually share. Please skip it if you have a tender heart. 



  💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟💟








So we've had the hog trap set for almost a week now. Ever since it was put up, it's been baited but not set, so the feral hogs that have been tearing up our place would grow comfortable with the trap and the bigger, wiser ones would venture in.

Although the big ones never made an appearance on the trail cams, the numbers of pigs having a nightly feast of sour corn grew, and our friendly trapper, Chris, agreed that it was probably time to see what we could get. So on Monday he came out and set the trap.

And nothing happened.

And nothing happened.

And nothing happened.

He told us when the pigs were finally caught, they'd make such a ruckus freaking out that they would probably wake us up (the trap is in the woods right off our bedroom). So all week we've been sleeping lightly- tensely- waking at every bump and unusual sound.

Then, last night, we fell asleep with our bathroom window open... and of course, that's when they decided to show.






















 Strangely enough, they didn't really make much noise when they tripped the trap door; what woke me up was the sound of the fencing of the pen rattling against the wooden guillotine-style door. We jumped out of bed and spent about twenty minutes staring through the bathroom window at the pig pen, trying to figure out what happened. We could clearly see the door was closed, but we couldn't see any pigs (it was so dark). We thought a raccoon had triggered the door, and the fence sound I heard was the sound of it climbing out of the trap.

We finally grabbed a flashlight strong enough to shine all the way to the trap, and we saw 'em- at least a couple pigs had been trapped! I texted Chris right then (I hope he didn't mind...!), and then we went back to bed (it was only midnight).

By the time the kids were up and the morning routine was in full swing, Chris was already halfway to our place, and he was backing his trailer-turned-mobile-pen up to the trap before 8am. In full daylight we could see them all- ten little piggies. And by little, I mean almost all under 80 pounds.


























 Chris made quick work of getting them rounded up and into the mobile pen, and then we picked out the runt of the group, herded him back down the ramp and into the trap, and Chris handed me his rifle.

I have always struggled with the dichotomy of eating meat but not being willing to take an animal's life. I've culled chickens in the past, but it was to end suffering due to injury or illness. We've never eaten our own animals. I do try to buy local, humanely- and pasture-raised meat when we do have steak or chicken on the menu, but I've never been the one to do the processing.

Until today.

I wasn't sure if I could, but I did... I shot our pig in the head.





























 Then I learned how to hang him up, skin him, clean him, and ultimately fit him in the freezer... all while wearing a trash bag over my clothes and kitchen gloves.



I feel powerful and sad. Grateful and humbled. Excited and a little bummed. I'm glad I found out today that I have it in me to go to this length to feed my family. I'm relieved that we've reduced the population of these destructive, invasive pests. But I'm at odds with my instinct to comfort and care for living things.

I'm exhausted. But I'm also planning to make him in to something nourishing and delicious, without wasting any part, so this little guy can be honored in the way that he deserves. That is the only way I'll be at peace with taking his life.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Planting!


I'm out in the garden again! It's so unreal... it's been so long! I've planted greens, parsley, carrots, radishes, borage and marigolds so far! Oh, and little onions too, of course! Giddy doesn't even begin to describe me. Although I've already gotten in trouble for planting so much without the kids helping... so I guess the next time I reach for those seeds it better be an evening or weekend... but oh the therapy, the sanctuary of digging in the dirt, gloves off, alone!

It is so good!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bonfire


This weekend we decided that we were going to have a little fun at the end of our working-our-tails-off marathon. We'd been cleaning up the yard while simultaneously digging trenches and managing a burnoff bonfire, and we thought well gosh, what if we had some friends over and threw some potatoes in those ashes?



And so we did, and we had a few beers, and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and got to hear the birds find their roosts for the night and the frogs come out to sing, all underneath a few early stars. Who cares if we were sunburned (some of us) or filthy (all of us)? It was just what we needed.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Monsters on the Trail Cam

We haven't had a decent feral hog sighting in quite a few days... we've been hearing regular rifle shots from the north of us (where we think the pigs are coming from) and are left wondering if they've been scared away for the time being. Our hog-trapper doesn't seem concerned, reassuring us that it's typical for a group this size to have a very, very large territory and for them to appear to come and go. It seems like he's ready set the trap to catch whatever comes back whenever we start seeing them again, though, so I keep baiting the trap with "fresh" sour corn and checking the trail cams.

When the pigs skip a visit, we end up having photos of squirrels, big fat raccoons, and my cat (jerk) instead... and recently something even stranger made an appearance...






















 ...which was very startling at first glance! We're going to need a different kind of trap...























 ...I don't think we're equipped to handle monsters of this caliber.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Another Group Project, Done





























 It never ceases to amaze me how much willing help we can find with a few phone calls... this past weekend was no exception. Not only were our hard-working usuals here (father- and mother-in-law), but an entire family of friends showed up ready to pitch in, too... and the result? Two rows of fence up, complete with posts set in concrete! One for the garden space, the other to protect our lateral lines and bee yard. And they look gooooooooooooood.

I'm especially relieved about the fence now guarding the lateral lines and bees.

Oh, and now I've got something to nail a bee yard sign to... so I guess I'd better make a bee yard sign!


It's aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall comin' together!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Heart-Day





Classroom parties, secret Valentines, and our must-have heart-shaped pancakes to kick it all off... my kiddos love a chance to celebrate, no matter the actual reason. I even got a surprise valentine from Sister, complete with a joke she made up herself: "What do you call a really messy room? A pig stie!" (Original spelling preserved.)

I'm not sure why I inspired that joke, but it was super sweet nonetheless. What a goofball.

This will be Henry's first Valentine's Day party, and yesterday he told me excitedly that he already had cards and things in his box. I can't wait to hear all about their days. Love it.

See our long-ago nods to V-Day here: 2012, 2013.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weekending :: Dance!


We kicked off our weekend with what was formerly thought to be a daddy-daughter dance, now understood to be a family dance, put on by the city. We all got spiffied up and danced the night away...





























...and though we stayed out waaaaaay past bedtime, it was totally worth it. Hoping everyone got the chance to put a little boogie in their weekend!

Happy weekending!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Super-Dee-Dooper Dark Chocolate Cookies


Soft, dense and fluffy at the same time, with just the right amount of gooey... a crowd pleaser every time. Good fresh or a few days later, and especially good with a scoop of ice cream 
sandwiched in the middle!

Super-Dee-Dooper Dark Chocolate Cookies
Makes 12-15, depending on how big you make 'em

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 sticks butter at room temp
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice 
(or sub 2/3 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar)
1 egg at room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp instant espresso powder, ground superfine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper (don't skip the parchment, these cookies bake up super soft and you would destroy them trying to spatula them off a bare cookie sheet). Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. 
Beat butter with sugar(s) until fluffy and add egg and vanilla. Beat again until fluffy. Add dry ingredients to butter fluff and beat until very stiff dough forms. Add chocolate chips and mix to combine. 
Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets, allowing room between cookies for them to spread out in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes or until surface of cookies no longer look super shiny (they will not firm up much or brown). Remove from oven and slip the parchment paper- cookies and all- off the cookie sheets and on to the counter top. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes or until they're firm enough to pick up. 

Pick up.

Devour.

Repeat.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Right Now




Right now, I'm...

...obsessing over Jon Bellion's album 'The Human Condition' and listening to it on repeat whenever the kids aren't around (explicit lyrics, fyi).
...feeling frustrated about my chicken girls... instead of their egg production ramping up with the increasing daylight hours like it's supposed to, I still have only the one girl laying her solo egg. The other three remain totally freeloading. Jerks.
...looking forward to when the time is right to get more spring peeps and change it up out there in the hen house!
...listening to my kiddos play 'rocket ship' with a box, a blanket, and their walkie-talkies.
...snacking on some super-dee-dooper dark chocolate cookies (check back for the recipe, coming soon!).
...planning on mixing up another three-gallon batch of sugar syrup for my bees, who are starting to feel a little light in the stored honey department. All this warm weather gets them out foraging with nothing blooming to forage on, and before you know it you have a starving hive. I'm so glad I noticed before it was too late!
...prepping for another weekend spent shaping up our various outdoor spaces.
...resigning myself to the fact that my floors will always be dirty now that we're gardening again.
...loving the early blooms from my purple and white iris. Hands-down my favorite flower to grow.

Right now there's another warm spell a-comin', there are indoor and outdoor chores a-callin', and Spring is just around the corner... which is why I've been slacking off a little in the blog department... but good work is getting done!

I'll check back in soon!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What We're Reading


It's no secret that we all love to read around here. Little Brother has just started realizing that- now that he can read too- he can read the books Sissy's been reading. Oh man, finally. Although he skims more than reads those chapter books, give him a Lego Star Wars book and he'll sit there and go page-by-page. My thoughts on that? I just love that they love books like their Mama.

I was asked recently what we've been reading these days, and when I got to thinking about it, there's quite a running list! So here's what we've been reading:

Audrey: more often than not, you'll find Sissy in some odd position- draped over the arm of a couch or halfway slipping out of a chair- with her nose in one of the American Girl books. She's never shown an interest in the dolls (which is a relief because holy cowcow they're expensive), but she devours their historical fiction. She's reading the Josefina series and the Caroline series right now.

Henry: give him anything Lego- Star Wars, Avengers, Ninjas... he bee-lines straight for the level 1 readers in the library and pulls out every. single. one.

Me: I have a growing pile of books that I'm reading simultaneously, depending on my mood and how much time I think I'll have undisturbed. It's kinda a bummer that I only have the ability to read one at a time, really. My newest addition to the pile is Witches, Midwives and Nurses: a History of Women Healers. It's probably closer to a pamphlet than a book (I think it has only 100 pages), but it's amazing so far. Sad and amazing. I'm also reading George Orwell's 1984 because I feel a duty to read it right now. Underneath that is my favorite gardening book, Gaia's Garden, and underneath all that are the last three books of the Odd Thomas series.

One would think that, this being early February, there would be lots of opportunities to curl up and read with a hot bev, a warm blanket, maybe even a fire... but noooooooooo, it's been in the high 70's and low 80's and we've been outside working our tails off like it's early Spring. So sadly our books sit and wait... they wait for either the winter weather to return, or the heat and humidity to rise high enough to drive us back inside.

One way or another though, fear not my loves, I'll come for you.........


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hogs

























 Well, it only took two nights after the trap was set for some of our local feral hogs to make an appearance and check things out. We were thinking it would be 1-2 weeks before we saw them again. Granted- according to these trail cam photos- only about seven of the little ones ventured close enough to the trap to trigger the cameras (none of them have gone inside the trap yet), but surely it won't be long before the giant one(s) will want a share of that sour corn!

I'm kinda disappointed that we haven't seen any other wildlife alongside the hogs (except squirrels... there were lots and lots of squirrel photos). I was wishing for a shot of an owl, a coyote, a bobcat... something else! But at least hog shots give us the hope that the trap will soon be filled and the immediate population dented, and that's what we're really watching for!