Monday, August 31, 2009

Computer Crash

Have I ever told you that I am no friend of computer technology? Oh sure, it can come in handy sometimes and all the nifty gadgets are quite amazing- but seriously, I only seem to know enough to be completely lost when something I've come to depend on -FAILS. Our main computer, for example. It has died- at least its "mother board" has. (Doesn't that word sound so "Star Trekish"? Like - 'mother ship' or something?) Our computer lasted for 7 years- well, I should qualify that statement: it had an overhaul 3 years ago to replace its motherboard, hard drive, sound card and power supply, so maybe I should say: it's outer shell lasted for 7 years. In the modern computer way of thinking that's probably considered plenty long, and so, of course, we were way overdue to go in and buy a bigger and better model (actually, make that a smaller and better model). Can I tell you my opinion? I think the modern way of thinking is messed up. But, I don't know what to do about it. So today, I'm going to go sew on my 40 year old sewing machine that still runs like a champ and has never needed its insides replaced, **pat, pat, "yes, sweet Bernina, you're momma's favorite", pat, pat**, and forget about this cold cruel world of poorly built computers that misplaces all your email addresses, favorites and passwords in one fell swoop........

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Party at our House

We've actually had quite a few parties at our house lately- it's been lots of fun! First we had the homeschooler group over for a potluck picnic and water games and more than 60 people attended. Then we had everyone over again for swimming in the river the following week- the water swing that goes into the river is a real hit! The kids can spend hours and hours on it. Unfortunately, I forgot to make use of my camera on either occasion. Then, on Saturday, my extended family came for a BBQ so that everyone could meet my sister's new boyfriend- Hunter.The kids had a great time playing with their cousins!Mom, Grandma and Mandy helped me get some wallpaper off the "soon-to-be-baby's-room" wall that afternoon. It took hours and we didn't even get close to finishing, so I am so glad they were there to help me out. Who invented wallpaper?? It seems to be the bane of every home owner's existence! Here's Grandma in front of one wall, newly devoid of plaid wallpaper.
Me and the baby getting ready to cook some pork ribs.... only 6 weeks left, by the way!
And here's the whole family! -well most of them. And I can't get the underline to turn off and I'm ready to run out the door- so just ignore it! :-)**Note** I guess it is not underline- just red font. Still, I can't get the darn thing to turn off.....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yeesss! One skunk down.....

So I woke up yesterday morning, at about 5:45, smelling skunk so strong I could taste it. I frantically woke both the boys up and we went out with flashlights and the .22 but could not find any trace. We searched high and low. It's lingering presence was smelled until afternoon, so we knew it was still around.

Well, this morning at 5:30, Joel saw through the kitchen window, a skunk trying to get into the kitchen coop! (This is actually the third time we've seen or smelled this skunk and it is always at the same time! If it would have just gotten up a bit earlier, it could have accomplished its dirty deeds while we slumbered...) Oooh, nasty, nasty things. Have you ever seen the claws and teeth on a skunk? They are certainly not designed to be herbivores. The previous resident of our house had all 6 of his hens killed in one night by a skunk. It ate their egg ducts out and left the rest. Isn't that horrible??!! So, back to the story: Joel grabbed the .22 and chased the skunk through the garden where it eventually came to its demise in the raspberry patch. Oh my does it STINK right now. After we all took a closer look to admire it's vicious teeth and luxurious striped coat, and our kitties joined in too, in quiet curiosity, Joel then disposed of it in the dumpster because it happens to be trash day and luckily our garbage men come really early. In fact, they just came by and I bet they are wondering what is up with our trash today----the smell is strong enough to knock you over!
Aaah....what excitement owning chickens has added to our mundane lives. It has turned the simple nuisance of having a smelly skunk hanging around the property, into a personal "us versus them" battle to keep our hens safe. But for now, I think I'm going back to bed....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rifles, scopes and summer evenings.....

Joel and the boys are enjoying the .22's we picked up on our Utah trip. Joel purchased some scopes to go with them to make our skunk and raccoon hunting even more accurate and exciting. (he heh hee....) The scopes had to be "tuned in" so they spent some evening hours and 200 rounds of ammunition, having quality father and son time.
Joel observing the accuracy with his binoculars.I know they did a great job because I gave one of them a try when they were done and hit 4 targets in 4 shots. Now I just need to practice with moving targets.....because right this minute I can smell a skunk so strong I can taste it. I better go and make sure it's not in the garden trying to get my chicks.

Making Fruit Leather

During free afternoons I've been making fruit leather with apricots and plums. (While we were gone to Utah the birds ate our apricots, so thanks Jenny, for finding me another source of free apricots this year!)

Here's a quick "how to make fruit leather" for anyone who may want to know....

1. Let your fruit get good and ripe for the best flavor. These aren't quite ripe.
2. Take out the pits and cut away any gross parts on the fruit.

3. Fill up your blender with fruit and blend until smooth. I don't add sugar and my kids love the flavor just fine. Homemade fruit leather is one of their favorite snacks.
4. Spread the puree thickly, on trays that have been lightly coated with vegetable oil. My trays look like this:Want to see what happens when you forget the oil? I missed a tray when I was doing a big batch and we had to pick the leather off in little tiny bits. What a pain.
(By the way, if you are using a square dehydrator you will need to tape plastic wrap to your trays because they don't come with these handy plastic trays. I grew up with a square dehydrator, but I have to say I've found the round dehydrators more user friendly and it seems they are cheaper too. I've seen them at Wal-mart in the 30 dollar range. I was lucky and had my dehydrators handed down from my great-grandma and found another at a garage sale.)

5. Dehydrate for roughly 24 hours. You know it's done when you press the trays with your fingers and don't feel soft or squishy spots. The color of the fruit will be darker now- that's okay. This is how it usually looks:6. Peel the leather off, (which should be easy because you remembered to oil your trays!), and roll up in plastic wrap. Fruit leather can be stored for months and months and months- though your kids will probably eat it up much sooner. :-) Try different combinations with whatever fruit you have on hand. I've done peach-plum, apple, cherry, strawberry-apricot, etc. Our personal favorites are apricot and plum because they are tart. Mmmmm....yum!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our new roosters

Here's some pictures of the chickens we got this spring as little chicks. They've grown a lot and now we've found out that the 2 unsexed banties we purchased are roosters. Darn. But they are still cute, especially their adolescent attempts at crowing. All the chickens are so much fun. I think they make much better pets than a dog. And what dog gives you eggs every day? In the video at the bottom, listen and you can hear the duck quacking in the background.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Niagara Springs Homeschool Party

Yesterday we had such a fun time at Niagara Springs with our homeschool friends! Besides playing in the freezing water, the kids caught bugs, chased muskrats, climbed trees and had some algae and mud wars.

Here's our clean little girls before:
...and after a couple hours of playing:

Boys vs. girls algae war-
Hannah and Hailey had a great time. (even when their lips were turning blue from the cold water)
Taylor and one of his favorite buddies found a great perch in the russian olive tree.

Niagara Springs is such an awesome place for an August afternoon!