Saturday, March 17, 2012

Waiting on Spring

We’ve had storms, followed by sunny days, followed by more storms. The barometer has been bouncing and it has definitely had an effect on me. I’ve been satisfied to spend more time inside the house doing less physical work than I usually am.
Since we just got back from our quarterly shopping trip, I chose today to cut up and vacuum seal 7 heads of lettuce in half gallon jars. This will keep it fresh and ready to serve for 4-6 weeks. I have a 4 pound wheel of Colby cheese almost ready to wax and go into the cheese cave to cure with the Parmesan, Cheddar and Jack cheeses I already made. The replacement jar I ordered online came and Randyman was able to adapt it to fit the old churn motor I had purchased on ebay. It was so nice to churn a gallon and a half of heavy cream at one time instead of just 2 quarts. The clean up is a LOT easier as well, as it doesn’t get slung all over the kitchen if I look away, as it does with the stand mixer. I made 4 1/2 lb of butter yesterday. I had a huge amount of cultured buttermilk from the process, so I soaked some chicken breasts and made chicken strips for dinner last nite that were wonderfully crunchy on the outside and moist and tender inside. Buttermilk is great for that.
Our grain mill arrived this week also. I have been grinding wheat and making Honeywheat bread and Sourdough WW bread, WW waffles and other stuff the past several days. We have found that it not only tastes a whole lot better, but is very filling. We can only eat about half as much as we normally do. It’s nice to know it’s also a lot healthier.

 I took loaf of sourdough we didn’t use and tossed it in the food processor to make some bread crumbs as I used up all we had last nite on the chicken. I tossed the crumbs on a large sheet pan and sprinkled with Italian seasonings. I put it in a slow oven and Randyman came in the house, sniffing and salivating, wanting to know what was cooking. His disappointment was clear as I told him it’s only breadcrumbs. He can have the cookies I made yesterday. Unfortunately, I had to use commercial flour for those as I have no soft white wheat to grind for baking items more delicate than breads. I could probably have still used the whole wheat, but I need to use up the old stuff anyway. It would be nice to know if we would only eat half as many cookies as well, but I am betting that’s not gonna happen.
I’ve been without internet for several days now, as I turned off due to my disenchantment with their service. The new company failed to make 3 different appointments, so I cancelled them as well, as clearly customer service is not high on their priority list. I have ordered one of the cellular plug ins which I hope against hope will work here. It should be here next week. It’s only been a week and I already miss it. I was never under the impression that I wouldn’t, as I use it a lot and have gleaned more information online than I ever did attending school. There is just so much information out there to be had.
I am still waiting on parts for the treadle, so sewing is still future. Maybe I will start something to crochet for the grandkids if I have time. 1000 miles apart, my daughter in law and I both found the same pattern of something to make for Kinley. Now that’s a funny coincidence!
The Maremmas had their second birthday yesterday. Randyman and I randomly broke into the birthday song at odd times during the day and serenaded them. It’s a very big job for these dogs to fill in for our kids as we suffer through empty nest. They will never quite fill the void, but we appreciate the love they offer to us, nonetheless. It’s nice to have someone still want to come and sit on my lap, even if he is a 120 lb. polarbear-looking feller. I look forward to the kids’ next visit, even if the grandkids are active and not anxious to just be held. These dogs are so funny, they are like book-ends. Different personalities, and yet, so much the same!

My list for today still contains making a large batch of laundry detergent and some hand soap to sell to the tourists that visit the ranch this summer. There is already another good sized pile of laundry to do, as well as checking on the tomatoes, peppers, flowers and blackberry shoots I have started in the bathroom window.
It’s nice, that even in the bad weather, there are things here to do. No such thing as boredom in this life.


  1. This is true... there is no such thing as boredom in this life. If you are bored it's because of a lack of imagination, I say.
    I'm fascinated with this:
    "vacuum seal 7 heads of lettuce in half gallon jars. This will keep it fresh and ready to serve for 4-6 weeks."
    In the refrigerator?, outside?, in cold storage? Does it really last from 4 to 6 weeks?
    Please tell us more.
    The dog photos are wonderful. I really love the one with the sheep and the mountains. Beautiful!
    The bread looks delicious... and yes, dogs are a pretty good exchange for kids and grandkids... actually a lot easier... until they run into the house after tromping in the mud.

    1. yup. I cut it all up with a plastic lettuce knife, stuff it in half gallon canning jars, vacuum seal them and stuff them in the fridge. They keep for about 6 weeks, no wilting, no browning

  2. Good Grief I tire reading your posts. Pretty sureI could never keep up with you :) Sis has the Great Pyrenesse and more than one child has asked if they can pet her *polar bears* :)
    I am with farmlady. I had no idea you could make lettuce last more than a few days in the fridge. Wonderful news. (As far to often I toss out part of the head.) And I do hate to waste.
    I would also be interested in your laundry soap recipe. I have one here I want to try, it uses fels naptha soap, laundry soda and borax.
    I hope you can solve your internet issues soon. We sure would miss you if you lost internet connections.

  3. your laundry soap recipe is probably the same as mine, except I used to use zote soap because the fels naphtha is too hard. Now I make my own cold process soap to use in it. I just shred the bar of soap, add a cup of super washing soda and a cup of borax for every 2 cups of dry bar soap. I give it all a quick whirl in the food processor to mix it a bit better and pour it in my container as is. I use about 1-2 Tbl per load. I sure hope i can get the net working again too! I am sitting outside the boss' office right now and i am FREEZING!

  4. Great to know about the lettuce! I will be using that tidbit of info when the weather starts getting warm here and my lettuce is going nuts. I really like the lettuce from the garden, but once it starts to get warm here, it's toast.
    I would like to know how you make your bar soap. I've done it twice, and this last time didn't turn out like I wanted. Think I might go back to the first recipe, but would really like to hear about your success.
    Do you grow your wheat? I have access to a grinder, and want to start using it, now that I'm finding out more about wheat. I tried grinding my own flour years ago, and wasn't satisfied with how heavy it was. Who knew there is more than just, "wheat!!??"
    Thanks for your mountain of info. I love reading your blog! Oh, love the pictures of your babies, too!

  5. I make Cold Process soap. I spent quite a bit of time online with soapcalc formulating a recipe. There is lots of information on the dairygoatforum and there is also a soap forum online that should help you and answer any questions you might have. They also can give recommendations as to where is the best place to buy fixed and essential oils for your area. I get all my stuff online.
    I don't grow our own wheat yet. Hard red wheat, or hard white wheat is the stuff you would normally use for bread. You can either combine it with commercial bread flour or use vital wheat gluten to keep your loaves from getting too heavy. Mine are actually really light with an open crumb. Soaking your flour overnight makes it nice too, and delivers more minerals and vitamins because it breaks down the phytic acid. Soft white heat is what one would use for pastry flour. There is very little gluten in whole wheat, hence the use of vital wheat gluten.

  6. I have been reading your blog for about a year now...I came across it from and I love reading your fantastic stories and seeing the amazing photographs. I am always telling my husband to come and look at your photos - SE Oregon is so beautiful! I too, live in Oregon (in the portland metro area, unfortunately) and so I am curious about the fact that your ranch allows tourists to visit??? If I would have known this I would have been there already! Although I have three kids under the age of 6 so us hooligans might not be the most desirable visitors :)

    1. Not actually "tourists"...Martin Black the horse trainer puts on "Ranch Schools" here in the summer. They are pretty pricey at $5000 a month. It works out well though, because it gives the boss extra bodies to help move cows and brand in the summertime, as there are about 4000 head of mother cows here. :)
      All my grandkids are under 6 too! :)