Monday, November 16, 2009

Food Storage Made Easy

Dent Corn for cornbread, tamales, tortillas, hominy, polenta and more.

I just added a button to my blog for the Food Storage Made Easy site. I first got the bug to develop a food storage one year ago. I had no idea it could be so fun or that I could become so obsessed. These gals break it down and make it easy. They have instructional video clips, too. I almost started a food storage blog...until I found Food Storage Made point in reinventing the wheel!

Dry pack canning at home.

Clockwise; Farina, Yellow Grits, Split Pea, and Quinoa

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We've done "The Duke and Duchess of Death" before, but this year we added the!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beenut Milk

Our Jersey Cow at the New Hampshire homestead was named Beenut. She was more beautiful than a cow should be...dark blonde with big brown eyelashes.

Here is a gorgeous photo of a Jersey that looks like what I remember.

I can see a jug of her milk, still warm, on the worn counter in the old farmhouse. The cream is separating into a thick band at top. Soon we will start the endless yet rewarding task of churning butter.

But before Beenut there was...Beenut. Now this is a sad little thing to remember as an adult, but as a small child it was quite fascinating.

For one day only we had our first cow named Beenut. Buddy brought her home late one night before he had prepared a place for her in the barn. Mom had spent all the money she had in the world on this cow, $500.00. Considering that we lived on less than that in a year's time, it was pretty shocking to lose her.

There was an uneasy feeling the morning after we got Beenut. The air was crisp and damp as usual, but filled with a deafening silence. The adults hurried around not paying attention to me. I think it was Walt who shouted that the cow had jumped off the bridge. We all ran up the road to look. Down by the creek lay the distorted figure of the first Beenut.

Buddy had staked her in the yard like a dog. He gave her a bucket of water and planned to put her away the next day. For someone who typically had a lion's share of common sense, this was incredibly stupid. The neighbor's horses had gotten loose and scared the poor cow, forcing it into the ravine. I cannot imagine the shock and loss that mom felt.

Our second Beenut was the one I really remember. I sat on her only once to know why people don't ride cows. Mom let me try milking her, but I was just not coordinated or strong enough.

She was a sweet cow that gave delicious milk. Mom loved her.

If Beenut was ready for milking before mom had gotten to her, she would knock on the kitchen door. One time she was found eating the heirloom gladiola bulbs that were wintering in the woodshed. But my favorite story of her is not in my memory at all.

One day mom was left to do all the chores by herself. Running a self sufficient farm alone was an impossibly exhausting task. Mom said there were days that she worked so hard she would have to stop and rest on the spot, or nap in the field to keep from collapsing.

The air was chilly and dusk was threatening. It was time to put Beenut up for the night. She was laying in the grass near the carriage house chewing serenely. It was all mom could do to go over and sit beside her for a rest before the short walk to the barn. She laid her head on Beenut's warm belly. Soon the grass turned forest green, then black as the light faded. Rocked by the rhythm of Beenut's steady breathing, mom fell into the secure and satisfying sleep of a babe in arms.

I cannot tell you why that makes my head swell with tears. I picture my young strong mother with her thick long dark hair asleep with her pretty cow in the grass.

It is something I never had that I want so much to never lose.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Sippy-Nahs, My Sippy Heroes

That is how Marshall pronounces "Superman". He runs through the house jumping on and off anything he can find while yelling "Sippy-Nah!" Of course Jess is now following right along. The other day I was unable to leave the house before I tucked a blue and red shirt in his bibs to act as his cape. He points to himself and says "Jesse, Supa!" At eighteen months old, he is more sure of himself than I have been.
Maybe that changed today. While I sat in our backyard watching the boys play, I felt very strongly that I really am living my true dream. I want everything else to fall away as I turn my focus wholeheartedly upon my family. Sure, many things will change soon, and these little guys will grow, but we are here, and it is now, and I long to spend my time with my face buried in their necks and hearing their laughter.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

White Mountain Week

Jess and Marshall each grew a foot taller while camping.

Grandpa is a hit, even without the Rhino rides.

Wow, I needed that...we all did. I love to push the reset button by camping.
Arizona is such a surprise. I never would have guessed it could have so much. You can go from hot, hot, dusty desert with ghost towns and leathery cowboys to cool, breezy, pine covered mountains with hidden chilly lakes, mossy craggy slopes, and miles and miles of eye soothing green.

My Chuckleheads

It is finally HOT here in AZ. We just returned from a week in the White Mountains (pictures to follow) to barricade ourselves in the air conditioning as we readjust to the triple digits. I love AZ. These few weeks of scorch are worth it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Silver Box

     Buddy and I  crouched in the breezeway of the old farmhouse. This one-on-one attention from him was strange and a bit scary.  Mom's boyfriend was a very intense man. He had the body and temperament of an overly stretched rubber band.  I listened intently as he spoke. "You must keep this a secret. We will work on this together. It is better to put thought and effort into a gift instead of spending money."

      Money wasn't something we had anyway. I didn't know or care. Living on the farm was rich with new experiences and the type of wealth that has nothing to do with money. We had food to eat, clothes to wear and a warm place to sleep at night. Simple. Beautiful.

     The theme that permeated every minute of every day was that of economy and self reliance. Nothing was ever wasted, and what was gained was only through hard work. One day Joseph (Buddy's son) and I tore pages from a coloring book to make a pretend fire. We wadded the pieces and threw them under a quilting frame because it looked like a fireplace to us. We were pretty proud of ourselves. When Buddy saw what we had done, all our toys were taken away for a long time. I never wasted anything after that. 

      From behind his back Buddy produced a small dingy object for me to see.  Mom's birthday was approaching and this would be her gift. He handed me an old toothbrush with some goop on it and showed me how to polish the box. As I scrubbed,  ornate details of silver scrollwork emerged from the tarnish of ages. An old silver soap box eventually came back to life...and what? I don't remember. Did I give it to mom? Where is it now? Not important.

     I remember the important things from the experiences. 
Waste Nothing. Use Thought and Effort.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whoa, where did the time go?

Jess is a great help in the garden.

Tomatoes, ready to plant.

The corn is planted in my tiny garden spot....

Jess and Marshall enjoy the last of the winter garden...

If you want carrots like these, plant them and neglect to water them.

Okay, enough of the picture book. These are pics from February, so I need to update. The corn is 6 feet, sunflowers are around 9 feet tall. It is amazing what consistent watering will do for a plant.

I had a life-changing experience back in March while attending a garden seminar. Seriously. I feel I have been set free. With my new understanding of vegetables and "organic" gardening, I have high hopes for this season's plantings. The seminar was based on Jacob Mittlieder's method. Find out about it at

Now that my plants are producing, and I took care of the skunk problem...what the heck is running off with my veggies? Two bell peppers and two tomatoes are missing without a trace.
 I suspect it is a raccoon this time.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Two-Seater

     I was in a restaurant one time in a small town in Arizona. It was one of those home-cookin'-ma-and-pa types. As I reached to open the bathroom door, an old woman and her daughter opened it and walked out. She chuckled as she told me it wasn't a "two-seater" and added "you are too young to know what that means!" 
As a child, I wasn't the least bit bothered by the lack of indoor plumbing at the Cooley Farm. It's probably because everything was so well done. We did have a hand pump that brought up water from the well in the kitchen. I do not remember bathing, except in the creek, which pleased me to no end. And the two-seater was very clean.

A breezeway had been added on to the farmhouse at some point and this attached to the indoor outhouse. Sounds smelly, I know, but it wasn't. Someone knew what they were doing. I think it sloped and drained away from the house.  It had two holes cut in the bench so two people could go at the same time.

My best memory involves two colors; Cobalt blue, and Whelp red. The interior of the outhouse was painted a brilliant, cheerful Cobalt. The "Whelp red" was from the butt comparison that Walt and I did in the outhouse one day after a good switchin' by mom and her willow branch.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Raising Them Right

Someday, M will be ready for pedals, and some trail riding.
 I can and can't wait for that day!

Kurt and the boys hang out while I do the 7 mile loop at my favorite trail.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Fast Begins

     Although I have been avoiding the news and tv for a few weeks now, I think I will make it official and begin a NEWS Fast. Four years is my goal. This is the perfect day to start. No one will have the opportunity to tell me how they think I should think. When I have taken a step back in the past, the absurdities spewed from the mouths of the worthless, condescending media were absolutely jaw-dropping. I couldn't abide the clarity of mind in the past, but I feel I am now up to it.

where is everyone?