Showing posts from October, 2005
The many colors of fall are showing themselves in their splendor in our part of Texas. Now I know its nothing compared to New England since that is my true home but still we have our own little dabs of colorful paint splashed across our landscape this time of year. These pictures are from our land.
Just yesterday morning, the sunrise was a true masterpiece. Not in dramatic colors but in the way the gray clouds lay in bands looking much like a well worn washboard. This sky seemed to foretell of a change and it did. This morning in the wee hours, rain fell. The smell and sound waking me and stirring in me a desire to go out in it. Its been a long time since we have had any. Wee Mr. Fergus MacSnow (the puppy) was crying so I had a legitimate reason to go out and experience the rain. It was wonderful, but it woke me up from a sleepy mood and here I am sitting at the computer at 4:30 a.m.
A little bundle of bounce had arrived at our house. Today we picked up our new puppy. A border collie that is just 6 weeks old. We have named him Fergus MacSnow and already he is showing signs of being a hard working farm dog.
I have been impressed with how smart Fergus is. Now we just need a few ewes around for him to work.
Watch for future pictures of the wee Mr Fergus MacSnow.
One another note, if you go to this web site you can download one of my favorite songs by Mary Jane Lamond

Every once in a while you find someone who is just a natural good cook. Melissa is one of those. She makes up the best recipes and that is an incredible talent in my book. Its great to be able to follow a recipe and make delicious, beautiful food, but to be able to just make up recipes that delight the pallet is beyond me. For some time now, I have been hounding her to write a cookbook. Maybe she will listen to her momma at some point and do it ! Along with being a great cook, she also makes the food a visionary delight. I am including some of her pretty cakes, one is her own wedding cake that she decorated the night before her wedding or was it the morning of ? Melissa is a teacher and a really good one. Creative, loving and sensitive to the needs of her students. As you may have gathered, we are very proud of our children. They are people we like ! Melissa is married to a very talented guy of course. James is a Disc Jockey for an FM station in Vermont. Its nice to be able to brag ab…
As much as our little homestead farm is a big part of our daily lives, there is much more that goes on.
We are a rather eclectic bunch, maybe even a tad eccentric.
Old hippies maybe. Most days you walk through the front door and you are greeted by the scent of incense burning. The Tibetan 8 auspicious symbols hang proudly on the door to my computer room. Music is always playing, but you just never know what kind of music will greet you. This morning its Dervish, Solas and Altan playing on the CD player. But other mornings it might be classical, Ravi Shankar, Red Thunder, and then it might be Cat Stevens turn at amusing me with his singing. Our meals are just about as varied. We shop Asian markets and health food stores if that gives you an idea of what you might find on your plate if you were to sup with us.
My kiddos grew up in 100% cotton clothing, Birkenstocks in baby size, Waldorf toys and formal tea parties. They ate whole wheat tortillas spread with almond butter and sprinkled with…
Our wood shed is clear at the far end of our property, not by design but by happenstance. We ended up with an empty barn and it turned out to be a great woodshed except for the distance from the house. The way it is, makes for some long hauls when bringing in the wood. We used a wheel barrow for years, but it would tip and sometimes the tire would be flat. So, one day my husband found a couple of broken wheel chairs in the trash. Taking parts from the two of them, made one good chair. This chair glides easily over the tiny hills and vales on our land and rolls easily with a large load of wood. So here is a picture of our Wood chair, rather than wheel chair. Smokey our cat, looks like he is thinking about how nice it would be to curl up next to the woodstove on a chilly morning !
Last night a cold north wind blew into our area. The sky went from a clear sunny blue to ribbons of gray in a matter of hours.
Giving one a sense of urgency to get the wood in and water the animals before the sky faded into the darkness of early evening. The winds were strong, about 20 mph and pushed and tugged at my skirts hem while I hurried to get the last load of wash off the clothes lines. They had been beaten soft by this wintry north wind.
The chickens and rabbits were watered and fed in record time.
My husband and I passing each other often in doing our chores for the evening. His arms loaded with wood for the stove each time he passed me. As the evening grew cold we took out the down comforter.
This morning the cold floor felt strange since summer lasted exceptionally long this year, I had almost forgotten what a cold wood floor felt like. With a little coaxing, the coals in the stove grew into a nice warm fire in no time. I put coffee in the percolator, headed out to d…
Windows open, cool breezes lifting the dining room curtains in a dance of wind and fabric. The ovens warmth a welcome addition to the cool morning.
This morning was baking day. My huge bread bowl, resting on the stove top with a giant mound of Herbal Encouragement bread dough rising.
Inside the oven a sweet potato cake is baking, while the whizzing of the beaters sets to the taste of whipping maple cream cheese frosting. Beans are soaking for soup tonight.
Here is the recipe for the
Herbal Encouragement bread, thanks to Father Dominic's PBS show and its recipes when it was still on.

Herbal Encouragement Bread
Yield: 1 loaf

1 package Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 (8oz) carton of sour cream
1 egg
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 -4 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour, divided
Melted butter for brushing on loaf (optional)

Dissolve yeast in warm water in small b…
All my life, yes even as a child, nature has inspired me. To me its a perfect manifestation of what God tries to teach us. Lessons all around us for the accepting.
I can on most mornings see clearly in nature some magnificent explanation of what God has been trying to show us since the beginning of time.
This morning on my little walk I saw so many small bursts of color amid a rather nondescript background. Made me think about our lives. We all live in walk in a place were we have the ability to be like these small blazes of color. I have to be honest and say that these bits of brightness gave me a good feeling. You know you say, "how pretty" or "wow, isn't that gorgeous" and it actually makes you feel good to see something extraordinary in nature. If we apply that to us, we can think about our lives reaching out and being kinder, more compassionate, a shoulder to lean on for someone else. Being that blaze of compassion in a rather apathetic world. Being kind to …
Gardening for some folks is a nice hobby, but we try to make it a vital part of our little homestead. Growing what we can to put on the table. Some years we are so thankful its 2005 and not 1865. Now we have grocery stores to rely on when things go wrong.
This year we are now 10 inches behind on rainfall. The garden this summer did poorly. The little shoots coming up would burn up before they were up a day old in the hot sun.
There have been years that grasshoppers were more plentiful than blades of grass, well it seemed that way !
We contend with fire ants fighting us for territory. They hurt when they bite you believe me.
This year, the fall garden seems very promising. The plants are tall and strong. Last year we had things from the garden through the entire winter. A couple times there was snow on the big cabbage heads but they did fine. No matter how harsh the conditions, there is something almost spiritual about being up early in the morning and hoeing the rows while the birds ar…
This morning as I was doing my morning chores, I was amazed at how many bee's and monarch butterflies were busy feeding on the sunflowers and other blooms in our yard.
It was as though they were stocking up much like we do on our homestead for the winter months.
As I was hoeing in the garden, the area around me was buzzing with bee's and the colors of the monarchs kept distracting me from my work and I found myself leaning on the hoe handle just gazing at their beauty.
As the cooler weather has begun to make its appearance here, we are starting to stock up on our staples for winter. The flour bins are filling up as are the rice, sugar, yeast, noodles, dry beans etc.
I love working outside this time of year. The coolness of the morning is so invigorating. Makes you feel good.
Working in the garden makes you feel strong, both emotionally and physically. And there is something about knowing your hard work will put food on the table for months to come. The garden is growing great so …
Pie Making Day.
Some days are just perfect for baking. This morning one of them. It was cool but not cold, a bit damp and just right for pie making. Now I did cheat a bit as I had some frozen pie crust in the freezer that I had made. I am not a big fan of making crusts so when I do make them, I make many and freeze some. One pie is my blue ribbon lemon meringe and the other is an apple crumb.
Nice way to top off our evening meal with a big glass of nice cold milk.
Nothing like good home cookin' right from scratch. No mixes used here !
Fall time can be rather dull color wise in this neck of the woods.
The leaves turning brown and not the pretty reds, oranges and yellows that you see in other areas, but we are blessed with a bit of color from flowers giving us one more time of blooming before old man winter arrives at our door.
The morning glories are pretty right now along with the Lantana attracting butterflies.
With all the things happening in the world its hard to not feel the magnitude of life's uncertainty. In the picture my son is checking out the thickness of the ice, skates in hand. He looks a bit uncertain. Maybe his face is showing what lots of people are feeling now. How he is checking the stability of the ice is not a method I would recommend but he was willing to take the risk. He is not a child so the choice was his.
Several people have come up to me in the last little while and said things like,
"when the world starts to crumble we are going to come stay with you. You folks know how to live like they did in the old days". Then they finish up by saying, " We admire how you live, but we sure couldn't do that". Couldn't do what ? Hang up clothes, cook from scratch, heat with wood, use very little electricity, grow our own food, make soap, milk goats, gather eggs, butcher when the need is there, sew, spin wool from your animals, go to sleep b…
We are proud to announce the arrival of three French angora rabbits to our little farm. 2 bucks and 1 doe. All three are 4 months old and with wonderful hair. Soon I will be spinning their fantastic fiber into delightful scarves and such.
No names for the rabbits yet.

It seems silly to be grateful for cold feet climbing into bed but I was grateful last night for them. Its a sign that things are changing. Pulling the quilts up over me felt so cozy.
On the farm, spring and fall bring about times of preparation. In spring you prepare for new baby animals, you prepare garden beds for planting and you ready barns and mend fences. Spring cleaning includes putting away winter items.
Fall time is another time of preparation. Barns are cleaned and filled full of bedding. Hay mangers are filled to the brim daily as grazing is low. Garden beds are mulched and made ready for cold. Lawn mowers are pushed to the back of the sheds and hoses put away. Wood is cut, stacked and ready for use. Kindling cut and stored in barrels. Fed bins full and the sweet grain fills the barn with good country smells. Hay is stacked high and you always find yourself climbing up on the stack and looking around with a sense of readiness. Fall time has a good smell on the farm.
I was outs…
With chilly winds and gray fall skies, it seemed the perfect time to perk some coffee and have a slice of warm from the oven swedish cardemon bread. Just seemed so fitting for our first cool day. The oven warmed up the kitchen enough to take the chill out of the room. However all the windows in the house are open !
Here is a picture of some wool I spun this week. I have lots more to spin and when its all done I can sit back and knit some toasty warm items for the winter months. I love the natural colors of wool but there was some pumpkin color roving that just caught my eye and I had to have some.
The spinning wheel is my daughters Wee Peg. I spin on an Ashford Traveler that is far less "touchy" than the wee peg is.
The garden is in a stage of transition. There are just a few tomatoes left on the vines and just a few small eggplant hung on some rather sad looking plants. The last of the zucchini lay under some much dry and withered leaves. I am thankful all the same for what I can harvest.
New plants fill the raised beds. Food for winter months in the making. Each day I go inspect the rows and pull out any weeds trying to take root. This daily watch sure makes you appreciative of what you pull from the earth, cook and put on the table. So many times in the last decade I have thought about the homesteads of the late 1800's in this area. How we have seen years of drought, or grasshoppers or winds that destroy everything we have planted. We just go the supermarket and replace what lost, but back then you just went hungry. Money was scarce and if the crops failed, life was just plain hard.
Its 4:30 am and my day is beginning. Its too dark out to see for sure, but is smells and sounds…
Last week I blackened and cleaned our little wood stove. Since our wood is delivered and the cold weather is just around the corner, it was time to get the job done. I must admit, the job is not a bothersome job to me but a good one. Knowing that in a couple weeks our evenings will be spent sitting by the stove, watching the flames and catching a drift of that wonderful smell of wood burning when someone opens the door to come or go. Wood heat is cozy. Plain and simple. I just love the way the wood stove door sort of moans when you open it to add more wood. I love the silly unspoken challenge we have in this house as to which of us is the best fire builder.
But nothing compares to the aroma of a big cast iron kettle of stew simmering on the stove all day long. Or how on a very cold morning pancakes cooking on the griddle makes the front of your body all hot from standing by the stove and your back is still chilly. And how good it feels to lay a huge stack of steaming pancakes on the ta…
I am really grateful for some cooler weather so the front door can be open all the time. Just feels more welcoming to have the door open.
I remember growing up, that we all went into a tizzy if someone rang the door bell, it meant it was someone we didn't know. Most people knocked lightly and just said hi and came on in.
We had lots of people stop by our house when I was a kid and I liked that.
Our house is much the same. Of course selling eggs and milk for so many years increased the amount of traffic coming to the house but many of our customers were friends or they became friends.
There is always a tea kettle standing at the ready and cookies or a treat handy to serve friends that stop by.
My favorite poem by Edgar Guest says it all...

The Little Home
Edgar A. Guest

The little house is not too small
To shelter friends who come to call.
Though low the roof and small its space
It holds the Lord's abounding grace,
And every simple room may be
Endowed with happy memory.
The little h…
Sometimes its kinda nice to look back through old pictures and remember things. This morning I was doing that and thinking about when the children were small and how busy our little farm was. There were always so many animals and so many chores and a feed bill that made the people food bill look minor.
There were never fights to get the children to bed, they were tired from their farm chores and from playing for hours outside. The boys build forts and ran races. The girls groomed goats, jumped the pony or chased their brothers. We never had a problem with couch potato children or children that were overweight !
There were garden chores, school work, inside chores. Working as a family we had a lot to do to keep things running.
There was wood to be brought in for heat, baking to be done, laundry to be hung. We all had our chores and we did it with a song in our hearts. That may sound a bit lame but its true.
Evenings spent with children gathered around me as I read some exciting …
We have had a small taste of fall weather and it was delightful. However it was short lived and we are back to 90 degree days and humidity. This morning I had to work in the garden to weed the newly planted beds. We have put in collards, cabbage, red and green. Broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and some coriander and basil. These should grow through the winter and keep us with fresh greens throughout many of the cold months. Last year we had collard greens up until we needed to plant in the spring.
The picture today was taken this morning in the same spot as the last picture on the blog when I was dreaming of snowy winter. Now the colors are fall like. The ground covered in dull brown fallen leaves. I do miss the New England fall colors that I grew up with. But now I must settle for shades of browns and some golden yellows.