Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas on this cold winter's day!

When it's this cold (and windy) outside, and this warm inside, nobody, not even the dogs, cares about going for a walk.

Now that I have a working oven, we had a nice crispy roasted duck for our Christmas dinner, along with some scalloped potatoes and salad. Maybe a few little eclairs for dessert, along with some chocolate truffles from Middle Sis in Oregon. Middle Sis who is spending her Christmas at some resort condo on the beach in Oregon. No we are not jealous, we love the cold, and the wind... What we really love is the woodstove. Especially the WoodMan loves his woodstove...

Don't know how he hasn't singed his pretty self for how close he sleeps next to it.

Cyrus is more interested in critter watching. They are easier to see when the ground is coated in white.

Monkey is exhausted from sneaking in to play with the ornaments on the tree (see previous post).

Only Willie is missing from the photos. He spends almost all day upstairs, but just this last week or 2 he has been getting brave and coming downstairs again. He actually spent a few short minutes in my lap on the sofa while Woody was sleeping at the other end.

As you can see here, Monkey does not fear the dogs. He kinda likes them. And they kinda like him too.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Bad Monkey and finally baking again

I was on the phone with Evie discussing how she had to remove all the ornaments from the bottom of her tree because of her cats, and I had just finished saying that Monkey has been really good this year about not messing with our tree. No sooner do I say that than he decides it would be a good idea to knock off a few...

(Check out the Ziggy ornament from 1982!)

I am pleased to report that the new oven works well. I made cornbread last night, puffy apple pancake this morning. The new GE makes adorable little beeping sounds when it is up to temperature, when the timer goes off...

If it lasts me 10 years I will be extremely happy (and very old at that point). If it lasts me 5 years it will be better than all of the new appliances we bought when we built this house...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Early Christmas presents for both of us

Both of us got our presents before Christmas this year, and both were not easily found. Had to travel to NJ for the Martin guitar, but the battle was much harder fought for the new GE Profile oven...OMG!...finally successfully installed this afternoon. If you look closely, you can see Woody's reflection next to mine in the oven door. He was very much in charge of the installation, and not happy with Matt from Bello Electric having to take a saw to the cabinets. Happy that The Husband was not here to witness that either. You might also notice Little Sista's puppy inspecting the new guitar.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Merry Christmas!

I finally got the Christmas tree lit and decorated. It has been a rough few weeks: busy working, persistent cough gone nasty, scary read on a mammo that turned out to be nothing, new oven doesn't fit in the hole... Ho Ho Ho!

Got the tree a bit late from Salo's, our favorite local tree farm. It is mighty crooked and misshapen, but I am pretty sure it is the more elusive balsam fir which smells great. Now that most of the decorations and all of the lights are on, it looks like a real tree. (Notice tree tilting forward, cat waiting to remove all ornaments, dogs sleeping and do not care.)

Went to NJ last weekend and accomplished a lot, including delivering Little Sister's well deserved new artificial tree, picking up Husband's well deserved new Martin guitar from an old high school friend, going to Colleen's baby shower and hanging out with all of my forever NJ Hanrahan (and other) friends, visiting with BFWB (best friend work buddy) Maryellen and having the added joy of meeting her 2 adorable grandsons and Junior (DH) the grown puppy, and delivering some fresh eggs and a Christmas card to my new favorite renters Lisa and Holly. Between the baby shower and ME visit I got to drive through Atlantic City all lit up and looking pretty at night. Should have gotten a photo of that!

A whirlwind tour to be sure.

As for the new oven: it is still sitting just inside the front door. With any luck (not my usual appliance luck!!!) it will be installed tomorrow.

Pictures to follow. Good or bad.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Goat mayhem, RIP my oven

Mayhem in the goat barn with the arrival of Mikey, the rented Boer stud man. Our very own stud man, Johnny Cash (pictured right, with Lucille) is not ready for action. Even when Roger, Jack and Rico are trying to instruct him, he just doesn't seem to understand. We can only hope that he will mature in time for next year's duties.

Mikey was a very polite young man riding in the back of the Kia for 10 miles or so. They say he is quite the talker, but he did not have much to say on the way here.

He is staying with us as long as necessary. Within minutes of his arrival he was sniffing the air and looking for the ladies. Pretty sure he will be ready for action whenever the girls get over their initial shock of "new man in the house". Big Jack (above photo) appears equally stunned.

My latest chapter in the continuing Appliance Nightmares, is that the Maytag oven died completely a few months ago. Over the last couple of years, it had a few mini-strokes that rendered most of the keypad unusable, and then the big one hit and nothing at all worked except for the obnoxious blue clock that could not be adjusted.

Now all of the kitchen appliances that were only installed in 2010 have been replaced. The only 2 that were still in working order were a very old microwave, and the Thermador cooktop that I trash-picked from someone's kitchen rehab. Appliance guy told me they only make them to last 7 years... Hmmm...

No more Maytags for me.

New GE Profile oven coming Saturday. Let's hope it has a longer life than its predecessor.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas spirit and monkey business

In an effort to get some Christmas spirit, The Husband bought 2 wreaths at the grocery store and hung one on the chicken coop, one on the goat shed. In an effort to not be outdone by The Husband, I signed up for a wreath-making class at Foothills in Oneonta sponsored by 2 nice young women from Branch and Bloom. Yesterday I made a lovely "farmhouse" wreath and hung it on the front porch on top of our favorite rusty pig. Farmhouse because it is made from local greenery and berries. Lots of fun, especially because my favorite architect attended with me. Piggie and I are both pleased with the results.

And just because I usually have more than one photo, I thought I would share this one with the MonkeyCat making a bed out of The Husband's jacket. Hub likes to hang his jackets on the back of the chairs/stools in the kitchen. Said cat has discovered a new game: yank the jacket off the chair and snuggle up. Adorable or evil?

Monday, November 13, 2017

NJ comes to see the farm

Dan and Lindsi came all the way to Lester's Flat from way down south in Jersey. Just in time for their visit we had our first snow of the season. They were very much amused by all of the animals—goats, piggies, chickens—and the many photos they took of said animals should be evidence of that.

Lindsi was especially amused by the big boys inside the house, Woody and Cyrus. Dan even did a bit of singing on the couch with Cyrus while Woody was barking in the kitchen, which is what Woody did whenever he had the chance. Big boys also put on a great show wrestling and beating the crap out of each other more than once. As usual, cat boys hid upstairs.

I coerced Dan to send me this photo of him and Tom Waits from back in our days at Glassboro State College in the 1970s. I am a huge fan of Tom Waits, and I just love everything about this photo! Dan was working for the Student Activities Board and was helping Tom either set up or take down for the concert (which was excellent BTW!). I guess they were doing a bit of partying in public (notice plastic cup of beer) when they were picked up by the police. I think they spent just long enough in the police station to have their picture taken... Dan's 15 minutes of fame! Or infamy?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cats in bed and wasps at work

I think I need to do a cats-in-bed series of photos, Willie and Monkey are excellent posers. Apparently they enjoy hanging out together in our bed during the day. Probably safer and definitely calmer than hanging out downstairs with the dogs.

Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, it was a crazy summer that has ended abruptly. Reports of a bit of snow for the weekend (just in time for the NJ visitors) and we had a bit yesterday as well. The bees, wasps, grasshoppers and even dragonflies were all abuzz this summer, and more abundant than ever. Evidence of their crazed state is this wasp nest that is easily twice the size of my head. My equally crazy neighbors were thrilled to come and cut this and another smaller one out of the apple trees to hang in their homes. Must be a guy thing...I don't get it...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Post-Halloween Howl

Too bad they couldn't act up on Halloween. Cyrus is doing his wolf howl in reaction to Woody's hound dog melody. No reason for this at all, they were just being their normal goofy selves.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween on a Tuesday!

Happy Halloween!

Why oh why did Halloween fall on a Tuesday, when I am working at the newspaper until late in the evening? (I was there until 11:30 last night—scary late!)

This is the first year in awhile where I was unable to judge the children's costumes at the firehouse. The Husband had to fill in for me.

I did have the pleasure of seeing my friend Art Boden at New York Pizza in Cooperstown where I stopped for lunch. He obviously enjoys dressing up for this festive occasion, to the delight (and fear) of all who enter.

Photo credit: Parker Fish, The Freeman's Journal

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Back and Bach in Schuyler Lake

MonkeyCat all tucked into The Hub's coat, only his little head peeking out. I am back home after a short trip to NJ (see previous post). I was down there just long enough to miss the end of summer up here. We are now getting the chillier weather we should have had weeks ago...not that anyone is complaining!

If I can get this video to upload, you will hear the young Lucian Lytel bringing Bach (on the viola) to the Little White Church Coffee House in Schuyler Lake.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cheagle? Behuahua? Chihoundhound?

Lucky in the bank
New pressure-treated deck
It's official, Little Sister's new puppy is a mystery mix. We have since found out that her Mama was a chihuahua mix, possibly some corgi in her. We will never know what Papa is, but guessing a mix as well. If there is shepherd in there, it is only providing the coloring and the long legs, certainly not the size. We think beagle or hound is the cause of the floppy ears (certainly not a chihuahua or corgi thing). She did gain a pound or 2 in the week+ that LS has had her. Up to 15 lbs at 4 months, vet says maybe 25 all grown up. I'm thinking 30 lbs, which is just perfect.

Inspecting the firepit repairs
Went to NJ for the weekend and spent lots of quality time with Little Sister and the puppa. Took her all over on Monday while LS was in school. We bought some deck stain at Lowe's (for the new deck!), we went to PetSmart (of course) and she even patiently waited in the bank while I filled out the papers for our new landlord/tenant account.

New tenant in the NJ house is a blessing! She is the daughter of some old volleyball friends of mine. I gave her free reign to do whatever she wants in the house, because I am sure she has good taste. She has already made some huge improvements, mostly painting, but also her Pop updated a lot of the electrical outlets so we could pass our code inspection.

Palmyra Code Office has not been a blessing, but we have passed almost all of the hurdles. Brand new deck in the back thanks to Jeff Skertic! Shame on us for never sealing the cedar deck we had done in 2004(?). Firepit is repaired (inspected by Number 1 Inspector Lucky). 3 windows fixed. Getting chimney liner for old brick chimney. It hasn't been cheap, but once all these repairs are done and tenant is done with her remodeling of my old house, I think we will have an easier time selling it when we put it back on the market next year. Unless of course we convince said tenant to buy it!

Recognize my old living room? Me either!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Sheagle Has Landed!

Little Sister sadly lost her beloved pup Jersey Girl 2 weeks ago. Devastated was her word to describe her loss.

In her search for a new companion, she came upon this little sweetie—a rescue puppy from Hurricane Harvey's attack on Texas. We have been having fun trying to come up with the mix of breeds in this little one, and we settled on shepherd/beagle. Mom was only 17 pounds, but dad had to be larger because 4-month-old puppy is already 17 pounds.

Since everyone seems to love designer dogs with goofy names, I came up with Sheagle for this little girl, and I gave her a pink cowgirl hat because she came from Texas, and it has a little tiara on the hat because currently the pup is named Tiara.

I am sure Little Sister will have fun coming up with a better name for her. She is picking her up somewhere in New Jersey as we speak.

The other 3 photos are to prove what a strange summer/fall we are having. It is mid-October and the flowers are still blooming, bees still buzzing. Actually these little bumblebees seem to have died in place. There are more than ever, having a party on all the flowers that remain, but a few are just clinging to their
last blossom, and then they fall to the ground, poor bumbles!

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Erie Canal

The Husband's sister Susan and her husband Joe came north for a visit this Columbus Day weekend. They were lucky to catch not only some leaf color, but also 2 days of pretty nice warm weather. Of course today they have to drive back to PA through the remnants of Hurricane Nate, but it's not supposed to be too bad.

It is grey and rainy here today. The brightest part of our morning was breakfast with Sue and Joe at The Barnwell Inn where they stayed for the weekend. Thanks to Tara and Mark, now we don't have to eat for the rest of the day. Husband got some of his favorite peach cobbler.

Yesterday we abused our visitors by taking them on a tour of the Erie Canal. It is something we have been wanting to do... We like to avoid the tourist traps unless we have relatives we can drag along.

Captain Jerry made the trip quite interesting with that tour-bus-driver kind of chatter along the way. Other than the lock itself, there really isn't much to see, but we were pleasantly entertained by his knowledge of the history of the canal.

We went to Lock 18 where they lower the boat 20 feet in some magical feat of engineering with no motors. The 100-year-old GE motors are only used to open and close the gates at either end.

This is the Bicentennial celebration of the Erie Canal—begun July 4, 1817. The part we were on was not the original, but built in 1905 (?). Parts of the original canal were visible, including in front of the Fort Herkimer Church. Nicholas Herkimer, legendary Revolutionary War general in the Battle of Oriskany, was commander at the fort.
And here's my bit of historical chatter:

The brother of General Nicholas Herkimer, Hendrick Herkimer, was owner of the Herkimer Farm. Our little 20 acres is a small part of the old Herkimer Farm. The Herkimer Cemetery is just a few feet from our property line, and the original home from the late 1700s and the hop-picker's barn (AKA Charlie's Magic Barn) are at the end of our driveway.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Steamy and hot in September

It's time for pumpkins and mums. It's autumn in upstate NY. It's 89° and humid. What's wrong with this picture?

I shouldn't complain about warm sunny days up here, but what's going on? It has been a crazy weather year—even the animals are confused. Lazy dogs and cats sleeping in the sun. Chickens and goats hiding in the shade. More dragonflies than ever this summer. Wasps and bees all going crazy. An early frost killed off some of the tomato plants but the remaining ones are full of fruit. Too many apples...

And then there's my beautiful Barred Rock rooster. Having nothing to do with the weather, he is going to be the next Greek chicken dinner. This morning he attacked me for the second time. I had to chase him off with a stick. And he went after Brian when they were visiting.

4 roosters is too many roosters. As long as they all behave they get to stay. As soon as they don't—chicken dinner for our Greek friend. It's a cold cruel world. Or an unseasonably hot cruel world, I guess.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pigs, chickens, and a toad

Three little piggies—Round 7

Had to do some research to remember all the pig names since 2011 when we first started as pig farmers. These might not be in order, but Rick Perry and Michele Bachman were definitely the first in 2011: Rick and Michele (politics); Steve and Eydie and Frank Sinatra (obviously musical); Fiona and Richie (Thistle and Shamrock hostess with the mostess); Alice, Nora, and Irving (an author year); Peter, Paul and Mary (more music); John and Mary (lazy namers); and, finally, a Chuck Berry theme this time: Little Queeny (front) Carol (little black one) Johnny B Goode (big red dude). Johnny and Queeny are about 2 weeks older than little Carol. Queeny got fattened up here about 2 weeks before Johnny and Carol.

Husband has been bugging me to take pics of them before they get too big (and less cute!). He couldn't wait any longer so took these pics all by himself today.

Then a pic of Husband's butterfly garden that was overrun with goldenrod, as is the rest of our property that isn't mowed. At least some of the cosmos and zinnias were able to survive the weeds, and the chickens who like to take their dirt baths in the shade underneath.

Red chicken in the front is the youngest rooster born here a few months ago. He is unloved by the rest and spends most of his day staying out of their way. Black and white roo behind him is the next youngest, and by far the noisiest rooster of the 4 we have here. He is one of the dozen we bought who were supposed to be all hens... Oh well...

Our cute little house is in the back. Don on the Hill's house is up on the hill behind our cute little house.

Last pic is a little toad who was hanging out on the front porch today. Let me get right in his face to take this pic. I wonder if he thought they were real flowers?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Apples galore!

Step 1: Pick and wash the apples.

Step 2: Slice and cook.
This one batch of apples made 10 jars of apple butter and 2 of applesauce. There are about 100 times that amount of apples left out there, and that's just on our property...

Anybody want to come up and pick?

Those little black spots don't taste bad...they just aren't pretty.

Step 3: Use the magic smusher to remove seeds and peel.

Step 4: Cook again. Add sugar and spice to make it nice.

Step 5: Put in jars and cook again.
That's the leftover juice in the back.
Not sure what I will do with that?