Sunday, December 25, 2016

Most certainly a mess in the morning...

I guess this is our new Christmas tradition—wait for them to open their gifts, and then begin the recycling of all that wrapping paper.

Hope that your Christmas morning was equally messy and fun!

(At least they waited for us to open the gifts.)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

May all your Christmas dreams come true!

PS: I, Cyrus, am not the guilty one, even though most of you have guessed it was me. The other one, sleeping peacefully on the sofa behind me right now, will most certainly make another mess in the morning. But we still love him...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What you wish for

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Are you sure?

We are supposed to pick up a Christmas tree and our Christmas cards at the printer today. When it looks like this outside, it makes me not want to leave the living room. (I opened the window to take these photos. No, I did not go outside.)

Just the thought of walking around trying to find the perfect tree when it is windy and cold, and the trees are all covered in snow. And then bringing it home in the back of the new truck and having it all covered in snow...again. Brrrr!

Cyrus is thinking he might like to be out there chasing critters, but it looks like even he is thinking twice about it.

Woody is still snoozing on the sofa with his blanket draped over him.

We might just skip our walk today.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Porch rocker project is complete (at least half of it is!)

The blue chair on the left is the earlier version—orange one is the same chair, just finished. I took the first photo on October 2, so I guess the painting and caning process took exactly 2 months. It seemed like much longer.

I bought 2 of these rockers in 1992 to celebrate my purchase of the NJ house with a front porch. My previous post has more rocking chair history: Porch rocker paint project postponed

Now that there are helpful videos on YouTube (this one comes with baby chicks chirping in the background) it is much easier to do the caning. I tried reading the book again this time, but ended up playing the video over and over until I got the hang of it. Definitely not like riding a bike—it doesn't come back to you.

I ordered the cane from HH Perkins both times. They also sell plastic cane, but I asked if it lasted any longer than the real thing and they said no. The natural just looks so much better than anything plastic. But I will definitely try sealing the cane this time to see if I can make them last longer than 20 years in the hopes that I will rock on longer too. I don't think I will have the energy or inspiration to cane these a third time at age 80.

Now how long before I am inspired to start the second chair? Months at least. I have no fingernails left.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sneak preview

I might (just might) have a buyer for the Civic. I have been calling it the Ivic because the C fell off.

I might even have 2 different buyers, but it is hard to tell these days when people are sincere about purchasing something that is advertised online, or even with signs all over the car out on the street.

One guy was supposed to show up this afternoon. One young lady is saving up her money until she has enough.

Only time will tell.

I will get a goodbye pic of the Ivic before it leaves.

This pic is a little preview of the Christmas cards you all will be receiving this year—two boys misbehaving. If you are not on my list, please send me a snail-mail address so that I can include you lestersflat @ g mail . com.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Not ever easy...

Two new vehicles in the driveway and I still don't get to drive one to work!

To all the folks I work with who have been giving me a hard time (you know who you are!)—this isn't easy you know. Nothing is ever easy.

We picked up the Tacoma on Wednesday. They had trouble changing over our insurance on the day before Thanksgiving when people tend to leave work early, or not come in at all. They finally succeeded in tracking down our agent and getting the Tacoma insured, only to find out that they hadn't finished the rust-proofing. Probably would not have even mentioned it if The Husband didn't ask.

Come on guys! I was supposed to pick up the pick-up on Monday. You had 2 extra days to get everything in order. You could have at least called, or told me when I called in the morning before we left.

So today they drive an hour to bring us a loaner to replace the Tacoma while they take it back to finish the rust-proofing. They are supposed to return
it this afternoon. We'll see...

We went through the same nonsense when we bought the Kia. "We couldn't track down your insurance agent on Saturday, so you can't get the car until Monday...bla bla bla...

Monkey and Willie are not amused. Me either.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lake effect

I went up to Oneida to purchase yet another new vehicle on Saturday. Beautiful day for an hour-long drive—60°, sunny—had the sunroof open and didn't even need a jacket. I was supposed to come back on Monday morning to pick up new vehicle number 2, but weather intervened.

Lake effect snow. Started Saturday night, did not stop until yesterday afternoon...yesterday being Tuesday. I think we got about 12".

It all worked out for the best. I was able to get a better price on the rust-proofing through some e-mailing back and forth with the dealer. I am a better negotiator hiding behind my keyboard. And, vehicle number 2 is supposed to be for The Husband, so he was able to take the day off to come north with me to pick it up today.

Will follow with some very white photos in the next post. Brand new white Toyota Tacoma in the snowy landscape.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family out there! We are staying home by the woodstove and keeping all new vehicles in the garage where they belong. Maybe I could cook the turkey over the fire like they used to do... Or not!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New car, (almost) new house

Poor little Kia got all frosty this morning before I could get a good picture of it. I think it looks pretty smart parked in front of our pretty smart house, don't you? (The creepy black shadows on it are just a leftover from Halloween.)

Call it an early Christmas present... I was kind of surprised that The Husband decided it was time to trade in his favorite little red Civic for a new Kia Soul+, you know the one that comes with the dancing hamsters?

Unfortunately they were not included, but I think they should have given us one of the cardboard cut-outs that they have at the dealer to make up for the fact that they didn't want our precious Civic as a trade-in. We should have no trouble selling it, especially since we have a captive audience with the bridge construction still going on just at the end of our driveway. They are supposed to be finishing up the paving this week, and probably will be out soon after, so The Little Red Civic That Could needs to get decked out with For Sale signs but quick.

Distracted from my rocking chair painting/caning project so 1 rocking chair still missing from the porch. And you can see that now all of the fall color is gone and most of the leaves as well. This is just the beginning of the brown season...more frost and other white stuff to follow, I am very sure.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall color is mostly gone

I took all of these photos on October 15, same day as the last post. Autumn colors at their peak, except for a few trees which were holding out. I was walking Cyrus on our normal route, across the highway and down Tunnicliff Road, past our mechanic on one side, and the Quartier Horse Farm on the other. That is Panther Mountain behind the horses, still with a swath of green trees. I was starting to think they might be all evergreens, but today walking by, they have color and the rest of the mountain is looking brown.

It has been an odd weather year—beautiful fall, nice enough summer, mostly dry spring, calm winter. Just now we are getting some serious rain which is filling the pig pen with mud and causing John and Mary to try to dig out to cleaner quarters. They like the mud when it is hot, but prefer the grass on the other side of the fence when the weather turns colder. Every day The Husband has to replace the cinder blocks and fencing where they are trying to escape. It may be an early trip to Larry's this year...preferable to having them run over on Rte 28.

Our 6 red hens have not accepted their new home easily. Two of them were not easily coaxed into the coop every night until a few weeks ago. I got stung on the face (wasp) picking them out of the trees one night. The other 4 have spent almost every night up a whole lot higher in the same tree. Finally, last night we got some serious rain all day, and cooler temperatures which convinced them the coop was a better place to spend the night. That, and 1 of them was just carried off and killed by something. Tonight is only the second night they have all willingly gone in the coop.

Winter is actually welcome this year. Frozen ground will keep the pigs from digging out. Chickens are closing themselves up...finally! And Mr P has stopped milking goats in preparation for kids on the way. Dogs are behaving better as well.

More time for us to sit around the woodstove and enjoy life inside.

This truck has been parked at the mechanic's for a few weeks. Since The Hub has been wanting a truck, don't you think this is it? I love it, but am guessing it is not healthy or would not have been here so long...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fall color and some frost

The bright blue sky really shows off some of the color on the mountain behind the boys. (Still have to find out the name of that mountain...) Panther Mountain, across the street behind the horse farm, has better color, but I can't get the boys to pose so nicely on the edge of the State highway.

It is interesting how some trees turn at different times, not based on type of tree so much as location and reaction to the sun and wind. The redbud tree behind Woody and most of the other trees on our lower level have not really turned color yet. The sugar maples we planted a few years ago are just starting to get red.

I also love the way that the sun and shadows make a clear dividing line between frost and no frost. While the sun is shining, the grass is still green and the leaves are still on the trees, frost just looks out of place.

And the final photo shows that the boys can actually respect the sofa (compared to the previous post). This is their usual routine, at least in the morning. Cyrus, ever watchful for deer or other moving objects which need to be barked at, Woody only reacting when Cyrus barks, sometimes not even then.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Working at Home on a Rainy Day

It has been awhile since I have had a working day at home and there was no break in the weather to take the dogs out for a walk. Normally I can get away with working until about 3 pm, at which time they decide they need my constant attention.

They were pretty good today until about 4 pm, when all hell broke loose.

Since neither of them likes walking in the rain, kind of difficult to keep us all happy.

At least, as you can see in the background, my job was pretty much finished when they decided to tear the house apart. Thanks, boys.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Porch rocker paint project postponed

The visitors are here for the weekend so the painting of the rocking chairs must wait. We do have some nice fall color for them (you can see the leaves are turning up on Don's hill in the background) but unfortunately today is rainy and gray, unlike yesterday when I took these photos.

Lots of house cleaning and dinner prep needs to happen today, and the red rocker that I started on has a broken spindle where the cane will be wrapped. Don on the Hill has been conscripted to come up with a solution for repairing the wood. I tried gluing it once with wood glue, once with epoxy, and neither held. I think between the 2 of us we have a better fix, but it will have to wait until he can get around to it.

I bought these 2 chairs shortly after I purchased the NJ house in 1992. They were white, and the caning was in bad shape. So I painted them a lovely Gumby green and got some assistance from Mark's grandmother in Riverton in figuring out how to do the caning. It's a lot like basket weaving, simple tedious work, but the getting started part is hard to figure out.

I caned the second one all by myself in preparation for The Husband moving in (1997) so that we could both spend some quality time rocking away on the front porch. Of course we spent very little time in the rocking chairs together, but at least they looked nice on the porch.

Some years after that I painted them the turquoise color you see here. It was a good color for the dark cedar house in NJ, but not so great with our blue-gray siding up here. Painting them is something I have been meaning to do for awhile, but had to muster the energy to re-cane them at the same time because they are again in pretty bad shape.

Even though I did not seal the seats and backs like you are supposed to, they survived 20 years of occasional snow cover and rain. We'll both be 80 years old in another 20 years, and I think that will be just long enough. Maybe I'll do a few coats of sealer to extend their life since we might just make it past 80—I wish it were that easy to extend our life. I expect we'll have more time for rocking by then.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Beautiful Fall Day

It has been a comfortable Fall so far, warm during the day and only a few nights where I was inspired to fire up the woodstove. The leaves are just beginning to change color, so it should be a nice time for Sue and Joe to come up for a visit for the weekend. I hope to get some good leafy color photos as soon as we hit peak color.

Don and I were up on the hill today surveying the leafy landscape with the dogs. We had another discussion about Woody's history, and whether or not he is a purebred coonhound. I did yet another Google search and came up with a photo of Woody's twin sister, Anna. Except for having a few pounds on the WoodMan, I think it would be hard to tell them apart.

Perhaps you can tell the difference because Woody would not sit so calmly with a live racoon on the sofa.

Anna is a purebred Bluetick Coonhound, so I am thinking he is too. When we got him from the Burlington County Animal Alliance (who had gotten him from a shelter in Virginia) they were guessing either Bluetick or English Coonhound.

I have always wondered what he looked like as a pup, and this last photo is a purebred English Bluetick Coonhound.

Guess that all were correct in their guesses...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sleeping boys, and that's a good thing!

Not often that all 3 settle down together, and really not often that MonkeyCat is allowed to rest on top of a dog. The WoodMan must have been very tired.

I was on the sofa with Woody, when Monkey climbed up and found himself a spot. He was kind enough to stay there while I got up to get the camera.

Poor WillyCat is still more comfortable upstairs, away from the mouths of monsters. Monkey doesn't seem to mind having his head chewed on by monsters, although he must have minded a bit last week because I think it was he who scratched a chunk of skin off the Cyrus face, right below his eye.

The curtains have calmed things down a bit in the evenings. The deer, the rabbits, the groundhogs—harder to spot them with curtains in the windows.

No progress on the crate training of Cyrus though. The only ones who sleep in the crate are the other 2 boys (Monkey is in there sunning himself right now). They find it very comfortable, unlike Cyrus who has scarred up his nose from all the frantic barking while I am walking Woody. I thought he would have figured it out by now...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Nary a cloud

Now that I know that Hermine didn't do too much damage in NJ, I don't feel too guilty in reporting the cloudless, beautiful summer weather we have had this Labor Day weekend (Labrador Weekend).

We had a lovely cruise on Canadarago last night. It was supposed to be a wine cruise, but we actually had the wine before and after the boat ride. Thanks to Cousin Greg for the ride, the dinner, and this photo.

In poking around on the internet last week, I learned the sad news that a cousin of mine in Ireland passed at a young age in 2014. The only good thing that came from that news is that I was able to reconnect with her brother and some other cousins of mine in NJ. Strange coincidence that the NJ cousins have been coming up to Canadarago Lake for years not aware that we live minutes away.

This photo is aimed in the very general direction of Cousin Donna's house. While you were in NJ dealing with Hermine, know that your house was safe under a setting sun.

Beautiful night!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Marshmallow vs. marsh mallow

I know you have all been wondering about why marshmallows (pronounced marshmellows by everyone I know) happen to be called marshmallows, the same name as a lovely weed. This came up as a discussion in work when someone brought in a jar of an artisanal marshmallow fluff.

(No, that’s not the artisanal one in the pic, that is the fluff I remember as a kid. Who even knew you could buy it in a 5-lb pot?)

I thought for sure, if this other one was so special and artisanal that it would have some form of mallow in it, but that was not the case. So I did a little research for you, knowing that you would want me to.

Word Origin and History for marshmallow
Old English mersc mealwe “kind of mallow plant (Althea officinalis) which grows near salt marshes;” from marsh + mallow. The confection (so called from 1877) originally was made from paste from the roots of this plant.The Greek word for the plant, althaea, is from althein “to heal.”
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

A Noble History
Yes, the marshmallow has roots in ancient Egypt, dating back to about 2000 BC, when the sap from the root of the marsh mallow plant [althaea officinalis] was mixed with honey to create a special confection available only to the Pharaohs and assorted Gods who needed dessert.

If you weren’t a Pharaoh, you had to wait until the mid-19th century, when French candy makers combined the sap with egg whites and sugar, whipping all by hand into a tasty treat.

So the word comes from the mallow plant roots having been used in the “confection” back in 2,000 BC (if you believe Mitch) but it seems that everyone has forgotten about that, even the fancy schmancy artisanal marshmallow makers. (Mitch didn’t forget, but I don’t think he uses any mallow roots either.)

And then I found that the pretty mallow flowers that grow all around our property are a common mallow, not even the true marsh mallow. (see the Wikipedia definition in the post below this one).

And I thought I was being so smart because I knew what a marsh mallow was...I was just so wrong!

Even so, here are 3 mallows from my backyard garden. The stripy one at the top is actually “Zebrina”, a version of hollyhock. The white and pink ones are everywhere in our weedy yard, but I like them enough to let them come up in my garden.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wikipedia's marsh mallow

Althaea officinalis
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-008.jpg
Scientific classification
Species:A. officinalis
Binomial name
Althaea officinalis
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)
Althaea officinalis (marsh-mallow,[1] marsh mallow, or common marshmallow) is a perennial species indigenous to EuropeWestern Asia, and North Africa, which is used as a medicinal plant and ornamental plant. A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian time evolved into today's marshmallow treat.[2]
The common mallow is frequently called "marsh mallow" by country people, but the true marsh mallow is distinguished from all the other mallows growing in Great Britain by the numerous divisions of the outer calyx (six to nine cleft), by the hoary down which thickly clothes the stems and foliage, and by the numerous panicles of blush-coloured flowers, paler than the common mallow. The roots are perennial, thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant, whitish yellow outside, white and fibrous within.
The entire plant, particularly the root, abounds with a mild mucilage, which is emollient to a much greater degree than the common mallow.[citation needed] The generic name, Althaea, is derived from the Greek "ἄλθειν" (to cure), from its healing properties. The name of the family, Malvaceae, is derived from the Latin malva, a generic name for the mallows and the source of the English common name "mallow".
Most of the mallows have been used as food, and are mentioned by early classic writers with this connection. Mallow was an edible vegetable among the Romans; a dish of marsh mallow was one of their delicacies.Prosper Alpinus stated in 1592 that a plant of the mallow kind was eaten by the Egyptians. Many of the poorer inhabitants of Syria subsisted for weeks on herbs, of which marsh mallow is one of the most common. When boiled first and fried with onions and butter, the roots are said to form a palatable dish [[4]] , and in times of scarcity consequent upon the failure of the crops, this plant, which grows there in great abundance, is collected heavily as a foodstuff.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New red ladies join the flock

14 of the older ones coming for food, including Big Roo near the front, and Little Roo to the right of the maple tree
Our new total is 23 chickens, but that may not last long since one of the 6 new red ones refuses to be closed up at night. We just picked them up Saturday afternoon—6 new "red sex link" hens already laying eggs. The difficulty with buying adult chickens though, is that they don't know where they live.
2 of the new red girls

The plan was to close them up in the fenced area outside the coop for the first 2 nights. They were in there for maybe an hour and 2 of them escaped. When I went back to investigate and try to reunite them with their sisters, there was only 1 left in the fence. I could see them flying/jumping over and running off.

Big Roo and a friend
We managed to close up 5 out of 6 the first 2 nights. Because I can't tell them apart, I am not even sure it was the same one who spent the night outside up in a tree. One found a home in the goat shed on top of the hay bales, and a second one decided that her real home was in the coop and spent both nights on top of the crate in there with both roosters to protect her. She must be the smart one, or the pretty one going after the boys...or both.

We are hoping they resolve their coming-home issues soon. Tomorrow is a late night for me at work and I won't be able to help The Husband with chicken wrangling. At least the lone straggler seems to understand how to stay safe out there in the cold, cruel world full of critters who would love a nice chicken dinner, like Cyrus for instance.

3 new girls in the fenced area with the old dog house
Monday night update: At about 6:30 pm, I saw 3 red girls back here by the house. Two were in the apple tree, 1 on the hood of the CRV. The Husband escorted the one on the car back to the coop, but didn't lock her up. When I went to close up the coop around 8 pm, only the one pretty girl was up on the crate with the boys and the other cool girls. I am pretty sure she wasn't the one from the car. 2 were in the dog house, meaning they were where we trained them to go. I had to come back and pick the 2 out of the apple tree, for a total of 5 locked up for the night. Magically, Hub went out later and found the car girl back on the car hood, so for the first time, all 6 are safe in the coop.

Of course this could all fall apart tomorrow night when I work late... or it might just all come together, right now...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Power fail

We had some bad weather on Saturday—the usual wind and rain of a summer storm—but there were a few minutes of strong wind and teeming rain that were just enough to knock out power all over the county. The power went out about 6 pm on Saturday and didn't come back until 10 pm on Sunday. We have Otsego Electric Co-op, but NYSEG people were out as well.

Our water comes from a well, so that means no water either. No power to run the pump. Still debating whether we should cave and buy that generator we were supposed to put in when we built the house. Money was short so that didn't happen.

Lucky me was home alone with all the critters. The Husband was visiting family in Salamanca, NY. (Happy 94th Birthday, Uncle Bud!) I had a rough time entertaining myself, even during the day when it was light enough. A nice vacation from all of the normal chores perhaps—washing dishes, vacuuming, doing laundry—but not being able to wash my hands after feeding pigs and chickens, not taking a shower, that part was not so much fun.

My biggest concern was for the food in the 2 refrigerators and especially all of the pork in the big freezer. I was able to use some frozen bags of whey to keep the fridge food cold, and not opening the big chest freezer was good enough to keep everything frozen for the 28 hours we were out. I'll have to remember that for next time. I am sure there will be a next time, although this is the first bad outage in 6 years, 11 if you count our time in the trailer.

So no pics from the blackout, but instead a nice portrait of the WoodMan doing his favorite thing—sitting in the backyard sunning himself. To me it looks like he's looking for all of his friends to show up. Always my handsome poser.

Those pots on the table are cilantro and basil, the big one on the chair is rosemary, and the one you can't see behind the table is thyme. They didn't mind the storm at all, but my little baby redbud tree inside the fence did lose a few branches...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

New kids in town

Joseph's Saanen girls, not named yet

The stud man, David Bowie
John and Mary loving the mud on a hot day

Mary being silly

Our Greek friend Joseph decided that he wanted 2 young female goats to hook up with the master stud, David Bowie. Not exactly sure how long they are going to stay, and the others are not quite their best friends yet, but they are fitting in just fine. They came (by way of someone else) from the same woman who sold us our first goats, the Saanens Lucille, Jack and Helen.

He bought them and will pay us for keeping them. He is a bit difficult to understand—I thought we were getting 2 males that he wanted for meat—but I think he is paying us in hay and whatever else we want in cash. Since he does not live here year-round, I am not sure what happens in the spring when they have kids. Are we still keeping them?

Either way, the goat herd just keeps expanding.

We don't have that problem with pigs. They stay with us just long enough.

Right now they are still in the adorable stage—the stage where we could take pictures every day and each one would be more adorable than the next. Now that the visiting photographer is gone, Tim has taken up the job. He took all of these photos.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bowie and Rosie are the stars of this show

Sarah the photographer is back in NJ, but I must share the rest of her photos from Lester's Flat. David Bowie is prominently featured in all 3, with Miss Rosie taking the spotlight in the first one.

Thank you Sarah for your view of our world.

Sarah and the other girls were weekend visitors, but B&E are here all week. We took them to the Otsego County Fair today. We started with a not-so-healthy lunch (sausage, chicken spiedies, french fries, a slushie and ice cream). We heard a few not-too-musical karaoke singers (one of them was actually very good) and we had a great time looking at all the farm animals and tractors and such...

Evie got a great photo of a sleeping kangaroo. I know, not your typical farm animal...neither was the camel, the yak, the emus, the lemurs.

Where do they all go when the fair is over?

Several of the farm animals go to the butcher (sorry, not making that up) and the others go home with their owners, but where do the camels and the yak sleep at night? Next week, when the fair is over, where is the sleeping kangaroo?

I will have to send my favorite reporter from the Freeman's Journal out to follow up on that one. I'll get back to you.