Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Never a Dull Moment

Yesterday, Mirian stayed home feeling funky and my one farm employee called in sick (which meant that chores were up to me). As I told Paul and Robert goodbye and put Mirian on the bus this morning, I was envisioning my day... lots of knitting, an extra cup of coffee and a little bit of news, laundry catch-up and then a bit of rearranging in my studio as well as making more felted soaps, since Truly Bluegrass is nearly sold out. I downloaded some new podcasts, happy to have some quiet down time to myself to pamper my muscles which are still sore from a weekend of hard riding. My reverie was quickly interrupted when my helper called and said he'd need to be off yet again today.... bummer, that means barn cleaning and the full works this time.
I set to work, feeding and checking the "due" alpaca girls (nothing happening with Eyecatcher or Trinity- a watched pot never boils!), scooping poop (at least the alpacas go in one spot in the barn), then feeding the chickens. I think this is a super handsome rooster, don't ask me what kind he is. I then got started on "teasing", which is when we check to see which females may be ready to breed. Maisy got lucky with Maverick today!
Then I went through the cabin to see what needs to be done to ready it for it's next resident, since our employee recently moved out in order to be closer to his children. I always have so many happy memories of the first 3 and 1/2 years of our marriage when I go in there, and it makes me appreciate the home we live in now that much more!

Then I cleaned out the trailer from our trip, and went to feed the 4 guard dogs and alpacas and do more breedings at the top barn. I had a fleeting thought that I needed to check the due date on a girl that I'd never marked on the main chart I keep, a sort of "B Team" girl for which I'd been a bit casual. I started looking for her to see how big her belly had gotten, and noticed several in the field that hadn't come in to the barn to eat. A few were apart from the others, with one of our guard dogs at their feet, and I suddenly thought I saw something else... could it be?

Yes! It's a new cria.... please oh please oh please be a girl! Bummer, boy #6 in a row. I scooped up the cria and put them in the trailer to go to the new barn's warm stall with a camera for monitoring and all that jazz. Oh well, he's cute and healthy!

I walked back to the house, hoping to sneak up on some deer for a good shot, as they are so plentiful along our driveway. Instead, I was met by this:

I actually have a name for this handsome possum, "Albert" who hangs out around our compost pile waiting for scraps, usually only visible at night. I have been asked by the kids how I know his name- he told me, of course! For some reason I just have a soft spot for possums, perhaps because they are marsupials.

Well, off to the bus to meet Mirian. So much for my quiet day, but I wouldn't trade my loco life for anything! Knitting will still be waiting tomorrow.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Big South Fork Riding 2008

It was hard to get excited Friday as 3 of us ventured out in the RV in driving rain, pulling along 3 horses for a 4 hour drive to Big South Fork NRRA (National River and Recreation Area) in Tennessee, and set up in wetness as well. We had hoped to go for at least a short ride when we arrived, but the rain just didn’t let up. I wondered if it would be worth the hassle of driving so far, but shouldn’t have worried as we awoke to glorious weather- a perfect, cool and crisp fall day. The owner at Honey Creek Horse Camp gave us some good guidance, and we set out for our first adventure on the trails.
The leaves were at peak color, and the trails were wonderful, though wet. The horses were extremely muddy by the second mile, but the soil is very sandy so it was rarely slick. The map and markings were better than for most places we’ve ridden, and we easily found a beautiful overlook and then searched for and discovered what we had been told was one of the most noteworthy attractions in the area, Needles’ Eye. We picketed the horses, then scrambled down a steep path which required some climbing before we reached the opening of the cave. I love caves anyway, but this one was really unique, with a huge opening at the end we entered by, with an arch within it. There was a smaller opening at the other that made a silhouette of the fall trees outside. There were many little offshoots, and I insisted on getting the flashlight so that we could explore them fully, though they didn't go anywhere.
More riding took us along an old railroad bed which followed the gorgeous White Oak River (I had to keep pinching myself, it was my fantasy trail!) and then on to our destination for lunch, the Big South Fork River. Mirian had hoped to ride through the big water, but possibly even better was the ride across it on a towering old railroad bridge! We ate lunch on the sunny rocks below, and listened as horses clip-clopped across every few minutes, mostly Tennessee Walking Horses. It was nice to see the trails so well-used, and it was fun to chat with other riders and compare notes on our horses, tack, and trails. My flashy little Kentucky Mountain horse, Sunday, got a ton of compliments as he’s currently almost black with a flowing, nearly-white mane and tail. I almost would have given him away with the way he was acting at first on Saturday, but later in the day he settled down and his smooth gait made him worth his weight in gold to me! There were many sleek riding mules, which I know Paul would have loved to see- hopefully, he and Robert can come along next time.
Sunday’s ride was longer than anticipated, as we couldn’t bring ourselves to take only a short jaunt with the conditions so perfect. We rode to the Twin Arches, an incredible sandstone formation that you first go completely over, then curve around and down a steep, narrow path until you’re beneath and within the beautiful double arch. The entire ride was truly a dream, but reality set back in when we had a flat on the trailer coming home. MB and I were proud to change it entirely ourselves, and once again our portable jack or “Trail-ease” helped make the job a whole lot easier. I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience a lovely daughter, a wonderful friend like MB, handy horses, and nature's fall glory like we did at Big South Fork, and will always cherish the memory of this weekend. (P.S. We did miss you, Marti!)
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Digital Scrapbooking

I recently discovered a new hobby… digital scrapbooking. It should be useful and have some overlap with a lot of the other things I like to do. I kind of enjoy traditional scrapbooking, though I haven’t done a lot of it and am turned off by some of the emphasis on perfection and the lack of authenticity which is common (though not always so!) I love and covet fancy papers (not quite as much as yarn!), and a friend in advertising always told me I should have pursued graphic arts or been an art director. I do some of our most simple advertising, but am even more interested in the possibilities of creating with a hybrid of my own art, digital photos and other realistic-looking digital elements which can be purchased and downloaded or scanned.
I bought the software program Adobe Photoshop Elements a few months ago, but hadn’t found the time to learn to perform more than the most basic functions, and was frustrated when I tried to learn on my own as it is complicated with hundreds of features. I stumbled across an inexpensive online class at
www.jessicasprague.com which teaches Photoshop in a class called Up and Running, with an emphasis on digiscrapping; here are my first two layouts. I can’t wait to learn more, and see all kinds of possibilities for using Photoshop here on the blog, on yarn labels, and with scrapbooking the highlights of my children’s lives!
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


When we hosted llama treks several years ago, city kids and out-of-town adults would go crazy with curiosity over our hedge apples and would carry them home to show their family. We have many of these Osage Orange trees on our property, most a nuisance because of their sharp thorns, but some lining the road are pretty. A friend's horse galloped a bit too close under one with low branches, and it nearly tore her shirt off and left some nasty scratches (I felt bad that I laughed hysterically over her bare back before I saw the scratches). There is a giant one on the grounds of Old Fort Harrod, with huge long branches like a banyan tree that kids love to climb on.
Rumor has it that the fruit will repel spiders and insects- I'll leave that up to you to decide whether or not that's an old wive's tale. Here's what Wikipedia has to say: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osage-orange

We have seen squirrels and deer eating the "apples", and our horses love them! A friend of mine and I were remarking that they seem like they'd be bitter, but then again have you ever tasted grass? The bark is a vivid orange, and I have seen some beautiful yarn dyed with shavings of the wood. Here's a wooden measuring spoon set that I have- it's easy to tell which spoon is from Osage orange (the teaspoon).

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bluegrass and Burgoo

One of the things that I still recall from my first trip to Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, with my parents and their friends in about 1976, was the burgoo. How many foods can you still vividly remember first tasting over 30 years ago? I can also still recall what I wore that day (a cute plaid top with a green corduroy vest, "gaucho" pants, and long black boots that looked very equestrian). Don't ask me what I wore yesterday! After going to Keeneland, we stayed in the Red River Gorge area to enjoy the fall leaves and scenery and somehow ended up at a rather sleazy little motel. When my Dad was in the shower, someone knocked at the door and my mom and I answered. There were two scroungy-looking men who asked us if we had any matches. We replied "no, sorry", closed the door and put the dresser in front of it, and spent the rest of the night in fear, absolutely sure that they were going to come back and rob us!

We also stopped at the famous Court Days in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, a tradition for who knows how long. Now it's a big festival with crafts and a huge flea market, then it was more for livestock trading and true antiques as well as gun trading. We were shocked and terrified to see so many people openly carrying around guns of all types! It made a lasting impression on a big-city Yankee suburban girl who had barely ever seen a gun. A visit to the World 3-Day Equestrian Event at the then-new Kentucky Horse Park in 1978 and other Keeneland trips cemented my desire to live in Kentucky, and burgoo has been a part of my fall and winter diet ever since!

When my niece Lauren was visiting recently and I made burgoo for tailgating at Keeneland, a lot of questions arose, most of which I couldn't answer. Here's what I learned about burgoo:

And here is the origin of the name: http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2943

Finally, here's my recipe for burgoo, although like with my chili it is never exactly the same from one time to the next. I like to include a big variety of meats, and have in years past had some pretty exotic stuff (emu, squirrel, turtle, etc). No amounts are given, it is all to taste- I hope you enjoy it!

Lindy's Kentucky Burgoo

Ground beef, pork, turkey, chicken, venison, sausage or pulled barbecue in any combination you like! Brown with 1-2 onions.

Add diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)

Add spices- I use chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. A little bit of hickory smoke flavored sauce and your favorite barbecue sauce are good.

Simmer with one can of beer.

Add diced carrots and potatoes and simmer until vegetables are nearly-cooked. Then add canned or fresh corn, green beans, or other vegetables.

And finally, my secret ingredient- Add one can of Iam's Dog Food in any variety.*

*Just kidding!

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Kentucky yarn and wine, a great combination!

The delivery I was expecting yesterday arrived, a Wine Club shipment from central Kentucky's Talon Winery and exquisite alpaca yarn from... Seldom Scene Farm! I won't elaborate, as I have decided to branch out with another blog more focused on alpacas and the farm (though I'll still mention them here from time to time, since they're such a big part of my loco life!) Be sure to check it out! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Enjoying the passage of time...

I have spent a bit too much time around the house today, some of it ordinary housework and a bit too much on the computer. I have to miss my Wednesday knitting group, as I'm waiting for a UPS delivery. Feeling antsy and restless, it seemed a good time to go for a walk, reminding myself that this might be the last REALLY nice day before the weather changes. We took the boat out of the river last night and I tend to feel melancholy with such obvious reminders that winter is coming next.

First I was greeted by an entire flock of wild turkeys right in the front yard. Our Siamese, Sushi, began to walk along with Munchie and I, but he's mostly an indoor cat and got spooked by the yearling alpacas who tried to look all tough when he went by their fence. The leaves were literally raining down as we strolled along the river trail, a warm breeze enveloping us. A floating log was lined with turtles sunning themselves, and I wondered what they will do when the cold weather arrives in a few days. I actually found myself humming the tune of James Taylor's, "The Secret of Life is Enjoying the Passage of Time."

I sat on a log with the intention of meditating (Eckhart Tolle-style) for a few minutes, but Munchie kept jumping on an adjoining log saying "Look at Me," and I was easily distracted by him and all of the captivating scenes literally at my feet (tiny wildflowers sticking out of holes in the log, colorful leaves, insects). As I walked on, the horses came alongside the fence to greet me. I trotted to see if they'd trot as well, and they joyfully played along, then cantered to the other end of the field as if to remind me that they are far faster than I.

I came in and was drawn back to the computer, asking myself why I want to blog when I have so many other things requiring my time. I never kept a journal or diary for more than a few days here and there when I was younger, and regret it. The good, the bad, the ugly and the ordinary... as an avid reader I wish I had memoirs from my grandparent's lives, especially to see how they got by during the tumultuous Great Depression, and how their 12 surviving children grew up so happy with so little. I also wish I had recorded the first few years of our marriage living in the old cabin, the excitement of Robert's arrival in our home and the fun of watching him grow up, the long, emotional journey we made to adopt Mirian from Peru and the ups and downs of her adjustment. It's hard to tell from my scant comments if many people read what I write, but that's okay. I have a humble record here, a few words of my own passage of time and seasons... and I think I just may stick with it this time.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

And they're off!

I don't know why I'm not in bed after such an eventful weekend, but my mind is whirling as I go through photos of the past few days. It all started with a book signing at Joseph Beth for the Mason Dixon knitters, followed by a super-fun birthday party with friends. Ann and Kay from Mason Dixon Knitting are hilarious, and they amused the crowd with the wigs that they wore in the now-famous video, "Pardon Me, I didn't Knit That for You." If you're a knitter and haven't seen this yet, be sure to take a peek- I guarantee you'll love it! My sweet niece Lauren and her husband JP graced us with a visit, and we had tons of fun!

Paul's Dad and Aunt Ginny from Chicago also visited, and I really enjoyed getting to know Aunt Ginny better, and catching up with Paul's Dad.
We went out on the boat and enjoyed mild weather and great fall colors. Today we went to Keeneland Race Track, starting with tailgating with my stepson Jason and his fiancee Crystal.

This was the kid's first time there- we ate Kentucky Burgoo (look for a recipe here later this week), Mirian and I wore hats, Robert climbed a huge burr oak tree, and we all had a grand time!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Smell of Fall

Fall would be my favorite time if it weren't for the days getting shorter, but despite that there are many wonderful sensory pursuits to enjoy. Local apples are certainly one of my favorite things, and it is time to make apple butter from the surplus that I bought at Boyd's Orchard for Farm Day. These may not be the most apropos for apple butter (Golden Delicious plus some other variety I forgot), but I really don't think you can go too wrong with apples, sugar, cider, and spices.
The recipe below is SOOOO easy since all you do is quarter the apples leaving the skins on (remove seeds and pith), put in a slow cooker with apple cider and cook for ten hours, then add spices and cook for another hour. The aroma that's released throughout the house is better than ANY candle can provide, and I figure it will be a great way to welcome Paul home tonight!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

4 lbs. cooking apples (NOTE: I think it would have been worthwhile to use cooking apples, as this apple butter didn't turn out as well as previous attempts)

2 cups cider

3 cups sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves, optional

1/8 tsp. allspice

  1. Stem, core, and quarter apples. Do not peel.

  2. Combine apples and cider in large slow cooker

  3. Cover. Cook on low for 10 hours.

  4. Stir in sugar and spices. Continue cooking 1 hour. Remove from heat and cool thoroughly. Blend to mix in skins.

  5. Freeze in pint containers, or pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

Makes 4-5 pints apple butter.

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Quickie Funny

Mirian wants to know, if Barack Obama is elected, will it still be called The White House? Pin It Now!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Wow, this weekend exceeded my expectations in every way! I'm so glad that my friends didn't shoot me after all because the kids were very good and helpful and we had a low-stress and very successful weekend at the Heartland Classic Show in Indianapolis. In fact, this was one of our best shows ever- with 9 animals we took 3 Res. Championships, 5 1sts, and 4 2nds!
Jitterbug didn't let me down, either, taking a blue in her class. It was pretty funny though, every time she'd get stressed she'd lay down and we had to get help to carry her from the show ring.
Maisy finally had her cria on Saturday, a white male sired by Sinbad. This morning we had another cria, a lovely dark brown male from Shiva and Dakotia Decadence. Shiva is one of our best dams, always so quiet, gentle and cooperative with easy births and lots of milk. This one is no exception! I love being with the dams and crias when the dams appear to be "in a zone" where they are awash in maternal hormones and stand calmly for their crias to take their first steps and find milk. It's a privilege to witness new life in this way, and it makes me feel very grateful to live on a farm. I hope you enjoy this small piece of farm life.
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Friday, October 3, 2008

Welcome to my World

First of all, let me reiterate that I am one of the luckiest girls I know! Above is what I woke up to this morning (in addition to my wonderful husband on the pillow next to me- we have an unspoken agreement that there will be no photos taken while in bed), literally right outside my window. I'll try to focus on this soothing image this weekend when I'm at my wit's end taking the land yacht to an alpaca show with 4 young teens, a dog, and nine alpacas.... without my hubby to provide reinforcement.

Last time I did this, I appealed to several friends to just shoot me if I ever suggested it again... they are not coming through. I plan to hand my Hosensizers (ask my sister-in-law, Sandy, what this term of endearment from her German grandmother means- she just found out)alpacas needing training whenever they get surly.... here's one that needs it:
I actually have very high hopes for this girl, Jitterbug, so hopefully I can report on Monday that we survived and came home with lots of ribbons!
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