Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Letters of Note: To My Old Master

One of the things I love about unschooling is found curriculum. Rather like found poems. The children and I are discussing this marvel of intelligence, kindness, forthright honesty, and good manners. In fact, I'm considering having this letter framed as a work of art and inspiration. How many different layers of industrial school curricula can be found in this one letter? And consider: the author was unschooled.

In other news, today we are making laundry detergent. It works well and saves a ton of money--especially considering how much laundry a family with children generates and how insanely expensive the grocery store stuff has gotten lately. For an added bonus, I very much enjoy recycling my old laundry soap containers for reuse as laundry soap containers. Why is that especially satisfying? Here's the long recipe.
Quick recipe:
1 grated bar of soap in 4 cups of simmering water until fully melted
1/2 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda
Add dry ingredients to three gallons of warm water and stir until dissolved.
Add warm liquid soap and stir.
Allow to rest one day. Use one cup per load.
 This melted soap gets mixed into...
this bucket of minerals and warm water. Yielding approximately $10 worth of laundry detergent for about $2. Melting soap shards requires very little stirring. Just add a handful of shards at a time and wait for them to melt. Make sure you like the smell of your chosen soap because it will fill your home as it melts. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An open letter response via my friend to Jamie Oliver's Victory over McDonalds.

You know what occurred to me? The correlation between our insides and hot house tomatoes. I know back in the 80s in Boone folks were talking about how menstrual flow was unclean - waste, an elimination of toxins. I think that's wrong. Those six tablespoons are the monthly proceeds of all the best that homosapiens have to offer. Its the most holy fertile ground, made of the best nutrients our bodies can summon plus magic. When you look at it under a microscope, its different from blood. If I remember this correctly (I may be confusing menstrual blood with fertile mucous) it has a fern pattern. FOR REAL! It looks like a bouquet of fern fronds. For all the world, as if you literally plan to nestle your baby into the safest loamy green dappled star dusted mossy hollow of an ancient Sequoia guarded by primordial ferns. It also smells like flowers. I mean that in a literal way. And yes, I would let you smell my Diva cup. All midwives know the sweet smell of the womb.

That's what menstrual flow is. But I've noticed through my life that the tone, color, and consistency of the flow changes. And its taken me all these years to correlate those changes with my diet. Back in the 80s about four months after I left home and started feeding myself, I noticed it for the first time. I said to my friend Michelle: "My period looks like Black Cherry soda that's been mixed with corn starch, isn't that weird." Well I was onto something.

That sentence echoes in my mind now. Because NOW (and why did this take twenty years?) I finally understand the simple truth of it. Its obvious right? My flow was affected by what I was eating. Which
basically was a lot of soda, corn starch solids, donuts, corn chips, etc. The description of the flow just accidentally happened to reflect or allude to the problem. (Its so weird when life appears to use literary device. You can't make this shit up.)

You are what you eat. And everyone is eating hot house tomatoes (at best.) Those colorless plasticine flavorless industrial freaks. And everyone has accepted that as normal. And our insides become that.
When they should be, and our flow should be, much more like an organic heirloom biodynamic sun warmed just picked August born Purple Cherokee with bright rain washed green basil leaves on the side. That's how nature planned it.

Humans are so stupid. And I'm making you read something way too long. And you know all this anyway. Sorry. But anyway, yeah. Its all very political and freaky and it matters a lot. But I wish we didn't have
to think about it. Society is consuming itself in a circular truth - commercial shit in commercial shit out. We changed nature's circle of consumption from one that is self sustaining to a declining spiral of inverted fertility. What is happening in our bodies is reflecting or mirroring or simply connected to and a part of what is happening on the planet.

You actually are what you eat. Why does that simple cliche feel like such a startling revelation? Duh. OMG girls raised on pink slime Mcnuggets will have pink slimy wombs. And babies conceived in pink slime..... Why isn't the connection between food and cancer/allergies/asthma/and inflammatory disease more obvious to folks?
My girl has written an excellent recipe for Chocolate Snaps. Lucky lucky lucky us! In her own words:

Put the egg, butter and sugar in a bowl. Mix. when mixed add the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder to the bowl. Mix. Bake at 375 for 12 mins. Note: with most cookies you can tell when they are done by the color around the edges of said cookies, but with chocolate ones it hard to tell if they are done or not so I would use a timer. I have burned many cookies that way.

1 egg. one stick of butter. 1 cup of sugar. 1 and a half cups flour. 1/2 tsp. salt. 1/2 tsp. baking power. 1/3 cup cocoa power.

Friday, January 27, 2012

We spent yesterday morning in the big city at the food bank for this month's installment of the Teen Homeschool Service Club. I'm so terribly sorry I didn't have my camera. That place is a phototastic freak-a-thon of image love and pain.

The warehouse is located in the heart of a desperate neighborhood, chain linked, rusted, frightening, paved, necessary, and wonderful. (I locked my car. For the first time since my children were born.) Its also next door to a seed bank and across the street from a small urban learning garden. I noticed their garlic is up, various greens, possibly some cabbage.

On the same block, we passed an enormous stone barn and a silo situated next to some tracks. The barn has to be at least 100 years old and has been converted to office space. I pointed out to the children that such a big barn implied everything we could see, the gas station where we were standing, the traffic light, the buildings, a hundred acres of concrete and pavement, all of it had been farm land in the heyday of that barn. The irony of which, being there to help feed the hungry, I left unsaid.

The 14 kids worked hard for two and a half hours. What they accomplished mattered. While they worked an older couple came in looking for food. Food isn't really served here and folks are generally redirected to the local shelters, soup kitchens, and churches. The warehouse supplies these places that serve. But they keep prepackaged boxes stacked near the door. Each box contains approximately two meals for an average family. Each box is about the size of a case of Girl Scout Cookies.

Because I was wearing open-toed shoes, I had to work alone in an office space cutting and tying off produce bags.  You know those pink plastic mesh bags that hold potatoes and onions? I was making those. The smell of pesticide eventually began to burn in the back of my throat. I fought a gag response.

Yet the place is cheerful enough, full of smiling happy workers. Purposeful work is its own kind of food. And helping is good. Feeding hungry people is good.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I'm not willing to list the endless stream of things in my world, shallow absurd relentless things, that can bring my hyper sensitive nervous system to the brink of shrieking madness or tantrum. Trust me, the list is long. But I am beginning to notice life is not here for our convenience.

Two years ago there was a fly problem on the farm. We all have flies and farms have extra. One expects fly season on a farm to be noticeably full of flies. But this one summer a conflagration of events turned fly season into genuine madness. It was fly insanity. The ground buzzed, the air was a black cloud, and everyone seemed to deflate in a helpless depression.  The flies were abundantly crazy bad.

I had to sit in the middle of the worst fly area twice a day to milk the cow. The milk bucket was constantly dive bombed with flies. I put a colander over it and learned to direct the milk stream around the flies scattered on the bottom. Flies careened, bounced off me, the cow, the milk bucket, the ground, each other.  Flies were everywhere. The farm is organic. Morals and ideals were questioned.

In the midst of their moist shiny black bodies hefted and crazy, fanning their buzz around, I sat. I feel certain I wept occasionally. I cussed. I considered quitting. I marveled to be in such a situation. I was helpless, even as I raked, hung fly paper, tried to time milking with the sun, changed to long sleeves and pants even though it was averaging 95 with a similar humidity at that point in our southern summer. Something about the intimacy of the thud of their bodies on my arms made me furious. But the threat of flies in my ears and eyes was the worst. I could milk through all of it, except flies trying to get into the holes in my head. That was too far.

Imagine my desperation. Imagine the poor cow, dear dear old girl. Actually, it was imagining the cow's feelings that saved me, in part. Humans are such fools. To think we know what animals are thinking, we constantly assume the superiority of our experience, yet how monstrously small and stupid we are, how insulated and infantile. Which is what makes me sort of irate about PETA. I have yet to meet a PETA supporter consciously trying to escape the pathetic bias of human experience when dealing with animals. Ugh, that's a whole different blog post, I won't go there now. They are well intended fools, as are most of us. We don't know how the animals feel.

Fleas in the 70s were not like fleas today. Yeah, I know you all think Frontline isn't working well. (What a joke, spoiled little babies, did a flea jump on you?) Fronline is working just fine, thank you very much. Living creatures are adapted to variations of shifting climate. We are even adapted to infestation. For instance, I discovered as a child in the 70s, that after awhile you quit noticing fleas. It has to get pretty bad first. You have to spend plenty of time noticing and a certain amount of suffering does appear to be, yes, as Buddha has instructed, as Jesus knew, as all great religions teach, inescapable and fundamental. But after awhile, fleas quit mattering. You just stop noticing. You may feel an occasional itch and reach to scratch, but even that becomes a background reflex. After awhile, you stop noticing.

Remember when you were a kid and you hated blankets and your mom was always trying to cover you? Can you remember the feeling of being curled into your bed, focused effortlessly on the warmth in your body and between you and your mattress? Were you aware of the shift when your mother pointed out the outermost layer of your skin felt cool? Did you lay there a moment marveling at the interplay of warmth and cold, wondering why anyone would care dwell on such a thing? I did. And maybe you don't remember, but it likely happened. It was the moment your mother taught you to be more like a person and less like an animal. Though she didn't mean to, she was teaching you to notice duality.

So there I sat one blazing sweaty infested afternoon not fully in my right mind. I felt desperate. Milking is imperative, there is no running away even if the milk will simply be given (flies and all) to the pigs. Milking must continue. And I milked there with the flies and my desperation, their fat oddly soft weighty bodies thunking my skin, my hair, my ears, my vision, my emotions, my thoughts. I drifted from rational me and I wondered what Jesus would do. I actually sat there wondering. I considered the way Buddhists blather (they never blather) about duality and illusion. The flies certainly felt real, separate, and horrible. Could they be accepted or loved? Would that change anything?

I did it. For one very real moment, I did it. I loved and accepted the flies. It took major force of will. I loved the flies, bent all my chi to it. I accepted their need, their truth, their lives and reality and I extended my love to them.

It helped, and profoundly. For about two minutes. And those two minutes gave me a glimpse of something important. There is nothing flippant I want to tell you about my two minutes loving flies. Loving them helped me feel better, it calmed what I had thought was hurting, it drained the drama of the moment, and they just didn't seem so bad. Flies being flies, me doing my human job, the cow continuing to placidly eat.

Yes, I snapped back to the reality of my revulsion and discomfort. But I glimpsed a new perspective. I remembered the fleas of the 70s, the warmth of a body curled in sweet sleep, that its possible we don't fully understand our own reality or what we are supposed to be learning here.  And the next summer when fly populations were better managed and summer bloomed a fine thunking normal fly crop, farm interns complained. But they hadn't seen the summer before. They had no perspective and they suffered that season. I shrugged, hardly noticing.

Life is not here for our convenience. We have no clue what animals are feeling, though I suspect their internal control is far more sophisticated than ours. (Irony, listen up, PETA.) Compassion is healing. Yet it all starts with an internal experience of love and acceptance. Not with controlling external circumstance.

Monday, January 23, 2012

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious...

The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.  ~Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

I just spent the morning putting up some Beet Root Relish. RELISH, my dearest darling son*, R E L I SH!  It looks to be, as I said to my dearest darling husband, full of passion, nourishment, and magic (just like our marriage.) I can hardly wait to taste it. But am considering building the drama of the moment, the vegetable, and the love to culminate with a feast of Saint Valentine. 

Valentines are on my mind. The light is returning to our hemisphere. Spring will begin in our corner of the world sooner rather than later, though it will come indecisive, tentative, waltzing hopefully with slow sopping feet. Yet, for us, its not too soon to get excited. Best to wait for the moment of arrival, the birth of actual spring, with thoughts of love. A new take on the red and green of winter, blood and chlorophyll share the same chemical structure save for their inner most molecule, iron for the first and magnesium for the second. Our blood and the ocean strive for the same homeostasis of salt. I'm thinking of blood and love waiting on spring, knitting, fermenting, hoping, praying, lasting, and stirring; gathering the elements of sap, rooting, sucking minerals, energized, anticipation, alchemy, fruition, cloves and stars, spiced.
 Trying to come up with the perfect neck cozy, a scarf that can never fall. Rill helps in her way.
*thanks to my son for the EXCELLENT action kitten shots

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Last night we went out to hear a friend's doctoral recital. The performance happened in two 30 minute sections. The first, our friend on piano accompanying two violins and a cello for straight traditional chamber music with no tricks or frills. The pull of strings grabbed us, seriously, like being yanked or snatched or swirled up into a musical vortex. It was actually enthralling. If your attention drifted a moment, you were relentlessly pulled back in by one of the four musicians. It is hard to describe, as all really good art should be. But even my children were shocked and pleased. They who did not want to go, who dreaded thirty whole minutes TWICE, who wondered if they might be allowed to bring books. My daughter asked, during intermission, if that had actually been thirty minutes.  Had it not been more like fifteen?  Indeed.

I remarked to Darling Husband as we left, that it was a deeper experience of musical harmony than I've had in a long time...possibly ever.  And that it is nice to be reminded of the majesty of art and the proper place art should have in our lives, immediate, inspiring, and emotionally moving.  Bravo!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yesterday my friend Kathy, from Needle and Spade, shared an excellent knitting tip: how to make reversible cabled scarves. Gorgeously cabled, laced, fancy scarves and wraps are truly beautiful.  But you fling them around yourself and, oops, your backside is showing. A vexation after all that knitting, who needs the heartbreak? Instead, make something looking more like the red scarf pictured here titled, Palindrome.

All back ground work is either moss or garter stitch. Each cable is worked as k1 p1 ribbing.  Cable the ribbing! There you have it.  Astonishing for its simplicity and brilliant!  Thank you, Kathy.  And don't forget stitch markers.  All that k1 p1 could easily get confused.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I am determined to knit socks for nieces and nephews next Christmas.  I've finished the first pair.  Caper Sock yarn is primo to work with, feels great on the feet, and the colors are jewel toned.  I can't wait to hit the yarn shop for my next selection.  Mauhaha, my reward!   Now if I could only order up some snow for knitterly ambiance.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sometimes as I'm surfing the web I whisper the truth to myself:  there is nothing here for me.  Which is a good thing to hear.  It makes me happy and presses an internal Get Off At The Next Stop buzzer.

Blogging also makes me happy.  I love having the catalog of memories and pictures, love love love love it.  With no apologies.   This is one of my favorite pictures from the old blog.   Its been on my mind.
I love the light in the image and the darkness of the center focal point.  I love that the image is a balance of inside and outside, blurred and sharp details. I love seeing my child eating eggs from my chickens with milk from my cow. I love that the meal matches the foliage outside, and why not?  It came directly from the same yard.  (Stepping out the kitchen door to harvest groceries never gets old.)  I love the steam rising off the eggs blurred with light coming in the window and through the milk, heat juxtaposed with a suggestion of frost on the milk glass and the frosty season outside.  I love how cozy and nourished the scene looks.  I love that my kids can have a hot breakfast everyday, that they've never been hurried from warm sleep for cold cereal and a jog to the bus stop.  I love that I am here with them for these mundane and totally random moments which can also be translated as art.  This image is a portrait of what my life and my work look like these years.  It reminds me how lucky I am to be here, how deeply grateful I am that I get to do this work of mothering, tending, and noticing.  It reminds me that the moments are fleeting but often timeless as well.  How can one millisecond of a random shot contain so much for me, un-posed, unscripted, unedited, just like their childhoods?  I love that the image is nearly black and white, with brightly splashed color - edible color, it almost seems painted to me but there is nothing contrived here.   We eat.  We think about art.  We enjoy being home.  We have lots of solitude.  We move in a seasonal rhythm based on the earth turning, rather than an academic calendar.  And I can see it all in this one image.
Out for ice cream with four on a cold January night.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Well, either through mismanagement or poisoning, we seriously compromised the goats, most seriously Nutmeg.  Since they've been at our house they have dropped weight alarmingly.  Then yesterday I noticed odd behaviors from Nutmeg: listlessness, staring alertness, pawing at her sides, and a stretching stance best described as odd.  Tiny Vanilla only seemed to be losing weight with no extra curricular odd behavior.

I didn't notice the weight drop fast enough.  The eye of a friend helped me there.  (Thank you Marilyn.)  The behavior: dangerous quiet and staring alertness was partly chalked up to life in a new home.  I don't know these goats well, not their normal behavior, size, or shape.  And looking isn't as telling as touching with livestock, especially furry livestock.  It took me a week before I could even put a hand on these ladies.  I've put A LOT of faith and trust in the woman who used to own these goats.  I know sellers sell.  But I liked her.  I felt good about her intention.  I believed what she told me, even as I've doubted my eyes.  So I haven't picked up the problems as fast as I might have with a new cow.  I still trust the former owner, by the way.

Actually, I think the problem has been poisoning and mismanagement, the two exacerbating each other.  First of all, I was not feeding them enough.   This embarrasses me in the extreme to admit.  But its flatly true.  I thought there was enough food out.  There was not.  And it took me a week to get loose minerals here.  Now we have WAY PLENTY of food and high quality loose minerals out free choice with baking soda, supplemental afternoon forage, and sunflower seeds.   Alfalfa hay is on the way.

Possibly due to hunger or possibly due to compelling desire, Nutmeg has been grazing through the fence on our gorgeous well established large pink azalea.  We watched her do it.  I think we sat drinking wine and eating roasted marsh mellows by the fire while we watched her do it.  "Cute goat," we said.  "Silly goat," we said.  Soon to be dead goat, was more like it.   Azaleas are very poisonous to goats.

Which I read online yesterday.  (Thank God for the Internet.)  I grabbed my girl's sewing scissors off the dining room table, walked outside, and hacked that gorgeous old bush back unmercifully.   There is no way Nutmeg can reach it, for the moment.  I'm not sure Vanilla ever could.  Which, I think, explains why they both lost weight but only Nutmeg ever seemed in pain.

I sat with the goats frequently yesterday.  In between running errands, cooking, and feverishly surfing: "goat posture, stretching, poisonous plants goat" online.  Every time I went out I coaxed Nutmeg (Meggy, perhaps) to eat more.  I busted up a fresh pumpkin for her.  I hand fed her fresh parsley. I kept black oil sunflower seeds in my pockets.  I did my level best to keep her chewing.  She was dishearteningly dispirited about my offerings, a very worrisome possibly ketotic sign.  But she did her best.

This morning she was up bright and full of vigor, running, prancing, jumping, playing!  Whew.  And I swear, I think each goat must have gained a pound yesterday.  I'll be careful, I understand too much can be as bad as too little, for ruminants.  But we are on the right track.  Thank goodness!   However, after morning chores were over and I was back in the kitchen cooking, a glance out my window showed Meggy straining through the fence for one more sweet delicious bite of the dreaded evil azalea.  That thing is going to have to go.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dear Girl decided to learn how to use the sewing machine.  

She made an excellent little kitten toy, stuffed with wool and bells, for  Rill.  She also figured out how the machine is faster and slower than hand stitching.  I'm glad she learned by hand first, rather like appreciating the book before the movie.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

As per all this cleaning.  I'm having to make sacrifices.   I'm usually kind of ruthless about pruning out our stuff.  I dislike clutter; I find it often mirrors an inner sort of clutter.  And I fight that human confusion between things and feelings.  Our things contain neither our reality nor our feelings.  I'm soft about it, especially where my children are concerned, and occasionally find ways clutter and false sentimentality have crept it.   Where is the balance?

Years ago Dear Husband worked on dioramas with the kids.  I kept two, his and Dear Girl's.  (Its possible Dear Boy never finished one.)  They've been living on my towel rack in the master bath, now COMPLETELY covered in fuzz.  Which doesn't really suggest fond happy cheerful bright household memories so much as something closer to Miss Havisham's house.

Bravely, I've decided to photograph them for posterity.  And let them go.  Sort of.  They haven't made it to the recycling.  The are on the front porch, under the eaves, because rain is forecast.  Should they get wet, they would be ruined.  Which would take the matter neatly out of my hands.  Conscious choice much?

And the kill bite.  When we will ever see love notes like this again, written with a podgy careful hand?  

note:  that is not textured construction paper.  those whitish flecks are melted dust.  eww.
Dear Girl was inspired by Dear Boy to try her own claymation.  Dear Husband added a really cool link from the folks at MIT for further exploration.

I've been on a megasuperdetailed cleaning jag.  Because our baseboards are molding, our window sills are furry, our bathrooms are disgusting.  It always shocks me, the physical intensity of this kind of cleaning.  I suppose from the leaning reaching grasping stretching while scouring.  Yes, and possibly from having let things get just.so.far.gone.  Later, as I lay resting I heard Dear Boy giving Dear Girl her first formal guitar lesson.  They both took it seriously and it sounded plenty legitimate.

One of the very best things about unschooling is that it teaches a non reliance on expertise, a willingness to learn what you can where you can, and an attitude of commencing from where you are with what you have at hand.  A recipe for success.

They spent the rest of the afternoon outside by the fire, laughing together until dark forced them in for supper.  I cooked and watched them from the kitchen door while the kitten stalked the chickens, the hound warily eyed the goats who returned his gaze, and the shepherd circled the whole lot.  Probably feeling, like me, older on the outskirts with a tremendous love for them all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Awesome new haircut.  This dude looks more grownup every time I turn around.  
But, for some reason, these kids aren't into being photographed while they eat?  

Monday, January 9, 2012

For the record, I've never bought any livestock that wasn't a mistake.  Yet I've never regretted buying.

What is crystal clear to me now, so blindingly obvious I genuinely marvel at my apparently willing and stubborn determination to see exactly what I want to see is that, Vanilla, was bred way too early.  She'll be okay, she'll live through kidding.  I don't regret buying her.   But kidding so young will likely stunt her own growth and her milk production.  She is dear and we love her.  We will never allow a kid to be bred so young on our farm.  And I am fairly certain her breeding was accidental rather than intentional.  Nevertheless, look how I could only see what I wanted to see.

Also I'm pretty sure, Nutmeg, who was bred at an appropriate age, is a first freshener.   Even though I paid for an experienced mother.   I'm trying to get the farmer, who promised to send me Nutmeg's milking record from last year, to answer my queries.  Curiously, I've had no response.  Still, I think she's a fine goat.  I don't regret buying her.

In my defense, it was ABSURDLY cold the day we met these goats.   We were in a hurry, racing the sun to get home before dark, and the goats were completely freaked out by the ferocity of the wind that day and the people, familiar and strange, grabbing for them.  We couldn't really get a hand on them to see them.      Also, I don't know that much about goats, cows have been my focus of study.  And I'd never seen a Toggenburg before I met these long haired hidden uddered wind blown wood sprites.  Which is, of course, no defense at all.  Ignorance nor weather will never be a sound defense.  But hey, a stubborn human will see and therefore say nearly anything to reach dearly held goals.

Let's hope everyone kids safely and at least one of them has a decent udder for hand milking.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Here is a simple inspiring little reminder about how to live: 10 Ways To Be More Interesting
I'm personally touched by number 2: share your experience and share generously.  Right.
Also, ignore naysayers, expressed in an awesome little Venn diagram:
Which reminds me of Kate over at Skipping School talking about the curious and sadly common way that folks often seem mildly offended by homeschoolers.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I prefer cows to goats.  And I prefer cow milk to goat milk, but only just barely. I have an affinity for the gentle, calm, independent, quietude of cows.  They suit me.  But don't sell goats short.  They are as easy to keep as dogs. They are quieter, less smelly, and about as cheap to feed as dogs.  Plus, they never bite or actually kill anything, the way dogs can.  Goats can give you about a gallon of milk a day, while raising their babies.  And you can keep them nearly anywhere.  Almost everyone in the United States could keep a couple of goats, if they wanted to.  If they understood how easy it is and how much food they give.  If you let the goats raise their babies, you don't even have to milk every-single-day.  Most days, yes.  But milking isn't the dire, haggard, relentless, ball and chain most old farmers like to claim.  In any case, it only takes about 15 minutes to hand milk a goat.  High quality fresh goat milk is nearly indistinguishable from cow milk in taste, and supposedly even better for you than cow milk.  Its higher in fat and I'm told its more digestible.  We prefer to cook with it.  Hot cocoa made with goat milk is Sublime.  And, just like dogs, you can travel with goats in the back of a station wagon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

 Meet Nutmeg, a two year old Toggenburg doe, and her sister, Vanilla, a first freshener.  The fence is for our new dairy goats!   These ladies will be kidding in the next several weeks, Nutmeg first.  So now in addition to our garden, fruit trees, and chickens, we'll have our own milk supply.  Yay for micro farming!  Yay for beautiful Toggenburg goats.  Yay for bringing them safely home yesterday from a farm in the foothills of Virgina, in the back of our station wagon.  Life is good and goats are lovely.
 The kids are really into cooking over their rock.  Success with pepperoni inspired them to try roasted prunes, scrambled eggs, and pancakes.  All of which worked out remarkably well.  Dear girl was a bit frustrated with the second egg she fried.  Gosh, I know adults who have a hard time frying eggs on a flat griddle in a kitchen.   Jackson-the-hound-dog likes this new hobby very much.
 While the kids were busy cooking, dear Husband was building a fence.  What for, you ask?  Hum.
Daisy wonders the very same thing.  

Book List 2012 for Dear Girl

The Trumpet of the Swan ~E.B. White
The Sea of Monsters ~Rick Riordan
Miki Falls, Spring, Fall, Winter, Summer ~Mark Crilley
Taylor Swift, Country's Sweetheart ~Lexi Ryals
Keeping The Moon ~Sarah Dessen
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Cabin Fever ~Jeff Kinney
The Bromeliad Trilogy ~Terry Pratchett
Accidentally Fabulous ~ Lisa Papademetriou
Stargirl ~Jerry Spinelli
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate ~J. Kelly
Trading Faces ~DeVillers & Roy
Curiosity Thrilled The Cat ~Sofie Kelly
The Blue Ghost ~M. D. Bauer
Seriously...I'm Kidding ~Ellen Degeneres
Copy Cat Killing ~Sofie Kelly
Farmer Boy ~Laura Ingals Wilder
The Girl In The Steel Corset ~Kady Cross
Stork ~Wendy Delsol
The Whole World's Crazy (Amelia Rules) ~Jimmy Gownley
Spells and Sleeping Bags ~Sarah Mlynowski
Parties and Potions ~Sarah Mlynowski
The Lottery ~Shirley Jackson
Lock and Key ~Sarah Dessen
The Hunger Games ~Suzanne Collins
You Wish ~Mandy Hubbard
I'm Not Her ~Janet Gurtler

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm making steady progress on the socks.  But trouble threatens.   Actually, trouble is napping on my shoulder at the moment, but seemed recently eminent.  Which is often the way of trouble, eh?  Just when you feel things might be on the brink of disaster trouble takes a nap.

Monday, January 2, 2012

We went out for a traditional proper full on down counting champagne New Years Eve Celebration, the children's first.  Not only did we stay out till 12:30 that night.  We went out in style.  Note to self: styles have changed.  I thought our daughter might be an eccentric exception.  But no, little hats and cat ears are all the rage.  Which is so much more creative and fun that the "Loves Baby Soft" and feathered hair of my generation.  Love's Baby Soft?!  UGH!  Thank goodness times change.  Here's to all the new changes, the new ways of thinking and schooling, this new group of folks growing up, and 100 new years to come.
Reading list for 2012

On a Pale Horse - Piers Anthony
The Last Question - Isaac Asimov
13 Days to Midnight - Patrick Carman
Season of Mists - Neil Gaiman
A Game of You - Neil Gaiman
Time of the Twins -Weis & Hickman
Adventures of Tom Sawyer -Twain
Good Omens -Gaiman & Pratchett
Stormy Weather -Carl Hiaasen
The Magician's Elephant -K Dicamillo
Going Bovine -Libba Bray
Side Scrollers -Martin Loux
Lucky You -Carl Hiaasen
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency -Douglas Adams
The World of Edward Gorey -Ross & Wilkin
The Long dark Tea-Time of the Soul -D. Adams
Thief of Time -Terry Pratchett
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian -Sherman Alexie
Death the High Cost of Living -Neil Gaiman
The Sheltering Desert ~ Henno Martin
Mort ~Terry Pratchett
Game of Thrones ~George Martin
Thud! ~Terry Pratchett
Anansi Boys -Neil Gaiman
Boneshaker - Cherie Priest
From the Dust Returned - Ray "FREAKING AWESOME" Bradbury
Starless Night - R.A Salvatore
Brain Jack - Brian Falkner
Centaur Aisle - Piers Anthony
The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne
Gil's All Fright Diner ~A.L. Martinez
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Going Postal ~Terry Pratchett
Clash of Kings ~George Martin
Of Mice And Men ~John Steinbeck
Making Money ~Terry the favorite Pratchett
The Red Pony ~John Steinbeck
Pinocchio Vampire Slayer ~Jensen/Higgins
The Lottery  ~Shirley Jackson
The Night Circus -Erin Morganstern
A Storm of Swords ~G. Martin
A Feast For Crows ~G. Martin
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Star Island ~Carol Hiaasen
Nature Girl - Carl Hiaasen
The Automatic Detective ~A. Lee Martinez
American Gods ~Neil Gaiman
Breakfast of Champions ~Kurt Vonnegut
Ready Player One ~Ernest Cline
Amphigorey Again ~Edward Gorey