Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green is my favorite!

April has been a very cool and wet month here, actually probably cooler than March! I was in such a hurry to get early things planted in the garden, but honestly some entire rows of seeds didn't even germinate. The result of all that rain is LOTs of my favorite color everywhere.... green! I hope you feel refreshed by these photos I took on our farm, as well as in the surrounding countryside.

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making time for Art

The past weekend is already feeling like a blur, as we have all been on such a treadmill lately due to the nature of springtime on a farm, end-of-school-year activities, "Christmas" season in Paul's business, alpaca shows, and the unexpected "Murphy's Law" hitches that always just come along as part of life.

The Futurity Show and Sale went fairly well for us, with both of our auction animals sold to great farms and some ribbons won in the exceedingly tough competition. The fundraising banquet for the charity in which I'm involved, Quechua Benefit, went really well and was lots of fun, too! Unfortunately my camera disappeared that evening, along with the memory card which had oodles of great photos from the evening. DARN! I just had my laptop back and working smoothly with a new hard-drive (replaced by HP), and now this?

After an exhaustive search and calls to the hotel, I admitted the loss, kicked myself heartily, and bit the bullet to buy a new camera since I use it nearly every day. I looked hard at the Cannon's, but my comfort level and satisfaction with Sony led me to purchasing the SONY Cybershot DSC H50 with 15X zoom. I hope to post my first photos from it promptly!

Yesterday I drove on an all-day field trip with Mirian's class to the Cincinnati Art Museum, a favorite place to visit. These photos were taken on my phone's camera so excuse the quality, but I loved the originals enough to want to bring a little bit home with me to share with you! The diversity at that beautiful museum is truly impressive, and such a credit to Cincinnati which has a long history of valueing art and culture.

The variety ranged from a real Egyptian mummy.... classic paintings (I like the one below because it included some knitting in this very domestic scene)

to folk art (Minnie Adkins is a treasured Kentucky artist and I'm proud to own a few of her pieces)

to masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh and other famous Impressionists.
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Fungus is Among Us!

I can't help it, I just love to say that! It's true, the morel mushrooms are here! For some reason I felt that this was going to be a good year for them. Although we generally get out and look at least a few times each spring, it has been quite a few years since we have found any on our farm, perhaps due to the dry weather. Last week I checked out our most reliable spot, but nothing has appeared there... yet (I remain optimistic!)
Then when MB and I were trail riding, I suggested stopping at an area where we had found morels one year and never since. Jackpot! We found quite a few and surprised Paul with them upon our return.
On Easter morning, we all hiked back up to the "honey hole". We saw these interesting reddish mushrooms on the way, which were somewhat similar to morels- we later learned from a field guide that they are related to morels, aren't particularly edible, and are called "Brown Bonnets." We discovered that the morel area was even larger than previously thought. It was really fun tromping around in the woods with the family, and just as fun frying up some of the tasty mushrooms upon our return to the house.

Most of what we found were "Half Free Morels", a variety with a long stem and smaller cap. Although tasty, we discovered that the Black Morels (of which we haven't found nearly as many) are more flavorful. We harvested enough to think about preserving some, and found lots of good websites with tips- we dried some in our dehydrator and froze others.

Last night, we went out again with our nephew Ryan and farm resident Danna. There were still tons of morels to be found, and again we had a great time searching. I have concluded that it's one of those activities in which I feel firmly "in the moment", and it is very relaxing, quickly chasing away a crabby mood. Afterwards we came back and had a great dinner and wine. I made spinach fettucine alfredo with smoked chicken and morels, and we had some local Woodford County wine- Wildside Vines American Cabarnet Franc, which was amazing! It felt really good to be eating and drinking from at least some local sources and I look forward to doing a lot more of that as our garden matures.
Pin It Now!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Life's Ups and Downs- RIP, Sweet Yoda

Last Tuesday was a rainy, lazy day in which I couldn't get motivated to do much. Little did I know that I'd be saving up for a crazy several days in a row after that!

It started with a phone call that one of our alpaca guardian dogs, Yoda (a Great Pyrenees), had been found in a coyote snare on a nearby farm and that he was injured. I went to pick him up, and despite the wound on his hind leg not looking all that bad, he didn't even look like himself due to the dullness of his eyes and I knew he was in serious condition, with a cold leg and poor demeanor.
As I was dealing with that, our farm manager notified me that one of our top herdsires and most valuable animals was acting very ill and had an extremely low temperature (the nearly 50-degree drop in temperature can be rough on newly shorn animals). The vet was fortunately already coming, and after checking both animals she advised taking them both to inpatient vet clinics, including the OSU Vet Hospital for the alpaca. I immediately got on my way and drove the 3 and 1/2 hours to Columbus (I had taken two alpacas there for the first time in over 4 years, just 6 days previously!). Long story short, the alpaca made it and is fine but after much intervention including IV fluids and treatment in an ultra-oxygenated hyperbaric chamber, Yoda slipped away. I like to think that he perished in the line of duty, perhaps determinedly chasing a coyote far away from his beloved alpaca herd. Above are a few pictures of him, the one when he was just a puppy. Below is our alpaca being examined by a vet at OSU- they gave him AND our others AWESOME treatment! The next day I was glad to take a little bit of time that I really didn't have to go for a ride with Mary Beth. That was so much fun and so good for us all! We ended up finding some of the elusive morel mushrooms (more on that in the next day or two).
On Friday I helped Jenny with some farm work and we joyfully welcomed a beautiful new female cria into the world! (Her name is, fittingly, Passion since she was born on Good Friday). The weekend was filled with family and friends as we celebrated my wonderful stepson Jason and Crystal's impending marriage at two couples showers and hosted Easter dinner here on Sunday. I finished the quilted table runner just in time, and was pretty pleased with how it came out since it's really my first "quilt." I'm ready for more sewing projects, now just need to find the time! (By the way, I'm sorry that this post was "sent" before I had it completed! Sorry if you got it twice).
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mushroom Madness

Paul and I both LOVE morel mushrooms, and the appearance of trillium (above), mayapple (below) and rainy conditions is our signal to start looking. Although I was raised in town, our suburb had an awesome, woodsy park area in which I have a fond recollection of finding my first morels while tromping around with my parents and brothers. Walking around looking at the ground may sound boring, but if you're a nature lover like us there's always something to observe and signs of spring everywhere.
Once the first mushroom (or 4-leaf clover, or whatever you're trying to identify) is found, one's eyes seem to focus more clearly for finding more. I can recall filling an entire grocery bag full! Mom would slice and then roll them in flour and sautee them in butter with a tad of salt, and nothing in the world would taste better!
These are definitely NOT morels, but I figured it's a good sign to see other mushrooms popping up.
On one of the first years we lived on our farm, we decided to see if our land could support any morels. After probably an hour of hunting, I came upon a small patch of the coveted fungi and we found more there in many subsequent springs, as well as a few other random patches. The past several Aprils, we have come up empty-handed- probably just not looking at exactly the right time. I am determined to look every few days this spring so that we don't miss them!
It was a cold and dank afternoon, with the temperature having dropped nearly 40 degrees from the day before when Mirian and I rode the horses in t-shirts (us, not the horses). Ya gotta love Kentucky this time of year for it's fickleness. I enjoyed hiking in my new, stylish Dubarry boots, just had to show them off!
My foray yesterday didn't produce any morels, but I did enjoy the hunt, as well as the wildflowers (and domesticated ones in our yard). These daffodils, which bloom later than the others, are my favorites to bring inside as they are fancy AND fragrant.

I hope wherever you are, you're getting a taste of the outdoors! Pin It Now!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shearing Slideshow

Sometimes I am so proud to feel like a real "geek" or technology nerd, other times I feel totally clueless! After spending a couple of hours trying to get this photbucket slideshow thingy to work unsuccessfully on my blog, here it appears but without any of the text I'd written! Oh well, enjoy some photos of last week's shearing day. My blogging has been a bit awkward without my trusty laptop (which is in the shop), but hopefully that will be remedied by tomorrow. Have a great day! Pin It Now!