Thursday, February 23, 2012

Screaming Cows

We live in cattle country. Everyone on this large ranch (couple thousand acres?) is expected to fence in their acreage and cowgirl up-well...we don't have the $ to do this at this point and sooooo we are homesteading with free ranging cows until May. They get released in December to graze, and breed in March, then they leave come May.  This year we are in drought right now and these poor cows are in rough shape..ribs and haunches sticking out. Breaks my heart to see the Mama's with babies so undernourshed. They should be supplemented with hay brought in every few days until the grass is under way. What kind of people are these any way? I do not understand ranchers and the cattle/meat industry in the least, and this is just wrong. When animals become business that's where compassion is lost.

So.... we've got one out of three hearding dogs that have the instinct to move the cows out of our area. Out two bearded collies come from show people stock and max the shepherd is all about sticks, but they are catching on.... They keep bringing the cows back to our area because we have a pond and our grass is a bit higher as we are on higher ground. With the new cows screaming all night long-well, they are actually mooing very loudly, but in the middle of the night it sounds like screaming to me-plus I can hear them chomping and eating and I'm worried they are all over my gardens and newly landscaped projects. Being the light sleeper that I am, I got little sleep last night and I'm a bit cranky. The good news is I was able to maneuver a large group of the cows back down the road and over near the neighbors that  invited the ranchers up our hill.. They have a pond too and I'm sure our grass is not any longer or sweeter! If the dogs don't catch on soon, I'll be on the lookout for a rescue Border Collie or Kelpie that's trapped in someone's house without a job to do and driving them nuts!

Chocolate Sun Cookies

Got an fairy good opportunity to try out my new oven. Although the sky was clear when I boiled the sudsy water to clean the interior before using (recommended), The sky became a bit hazy during the cookie baking, so this batch took a few hours to bake, with temps moving anywhere between 350-200 degrees.

Sun Oven loaded with cookies 
33 cookies in one batch- I was impressed how well this worked on parchment paper instead and on three stacked racks
mmmmmm baked to chewy crunch~   Definately worth the several hour wait!!

My recipe for Vegan Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from choc chop recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking
4 1/2 tsp. Ener G frothed with 6 TBS water
1 c. Earth Balance
1 1/2 cup  Florida Chrystals
2 TBS Vanilla paste
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp salt

I will be purging gluten from our diet, so things are going to become a bit more challenging very soon...thanks (or no thanks, maybe;) to an in depth article on wheat and gluten in The Huffington Post rececently. We've known about these problems, but after reading the article that John so carefully printed off, stapled and put on my laptop for me to read, I am also convinced it's the right thing for us to discontinue.
 ARGH!! just after I found the secret to making my Seitan such a perfect texture!!

Today if the sky is clear, I will make some cornbread. Another thing I do not make often as we stay fairly clear of corn due to it's gmo issues, but hey, we're celebrating here for awhile, now that I have the ability to bake. I've been without an oven for the past 6 months, except of course for the cob, so I've loving this solar oven just fine right now.....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jute Rug
Started crocheting this last weekend with jute I've been picking up over the years at resale shops and yard sales. It's 36" now but hope the jute hold out for at least another foot in diameter.
I've got a sweater started too, but this might have to come first for now....

The sun oven has arrived!

Looking forward to doing a little baking using sun power.
This is the Global Sun Oven made right here in the USA.
It supposedly can reach temps of 400 degrees. I can also use this to dehydrate with using the stacking racks they threw in.
Sweet! Literally. Tomorrow I try chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmm can hardly wait!

Monday, February 13, 2012


I attended a berry pruning class at our local garden center, and learned quite more about Highbush Blueberries, Blackberries, which I purchase and sit waiting to be planted. This area is the place to plant these two types of berries, so I got several varieties of each. The Highbush get's quite tall, so I'm happy to used them in and around the yurt as part of my planned permaculture planting system. I also purchased a miniature peach and nectarine as well as three types of seedless grapes for raisins and a Back Mission Fig to add to the other two fig trees already planted.

I learned from others talking to others the best way to plant citrus so I will be getting a Meyer lemon and a Mandarin Orange for the big bell pots I brought along here specifically for this purpose. Big pots are mega expensive so I'm sure thankful  I had the for thought to keep my precious bell pots, as we practically gave away our inventory of pots when we left WI.  I so can't wait to smell citrus in bloom!  I did plant one of my Orange Jasmine trees to test the weather and it looks pretty good so far-I'll plant the other two soon. Also planted a few other Jasmines in my one ornamental garden along with the two roses that I picked up in a 2 for 1 sale last week. Also purchased a pink water lily, some horsetail for the pond and two Pampas grass'  I'll be taking the grape pruning class next Sat, so will finish up by getting my the rest of the trees I wanted-Olive, English Walnut, Almond, Persimmon, Avocado, Citrus, Prune/Plum, Apricot, and Asian Pear. Then I gotta stay clear of that place!  I so realize how limited we were living in Wisconsin and although it's only early Spring here there are sooo many things that neither of us have seen!  Now I will get a taste of what our customers were going through coming in every week trying to control themselves...A Zone 9 opens up a brand new world of edibles as well as exotic ornamentals!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

John worked on hooking up the solar today and  I amended a bed I made with choir and planted a jasmine shrub, two rose bushes and some rosemary, that will be be a hedge... I see it used this way a lot and sure like the way it looks.  I think of all the topiary I've made in the past, only to lose it to indoor winter kill and I can smile and not worry about losing it!   I used prostrate, however, which is a creeping variety.
I wonder how long I will remain giddy at all the things that I can plant and not have to worry about. Yesterday I planted a variety package of gladiolia. I can finally plant bulbs!  Canna, dahlia, elephant
Also I planted garlic. Tomorrow I will plant 105 strawberry plants, some boysenberry, blackberry and loganberry.  I will also plant the broccoli, more spinach and kale (5 varieties!) walla walla onions, brussels sprouts, more cabbage, swiss chard and rhubarb. It's really nice that you can plant stuff in stages as the weather allows, and you can plant a garden twice a year, and keep greens going all year long.  I have several books on edible landscaping which I am utilizing and will be making use of underplanting which is part of the permaculture system. Nice.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

End of January

Wow..End of January already. It's so nice to work outdoors all day long. John has been working on getting the solar going and I put in a kitchen garden and patio. Living on a hillside means that everything you do involves shoveling soil to make level. We still marvel at what we could have been thinking when we picked this particular spot on the property in which to build, however it's true...the soil is nicest right here compared to anywhere else-and it just feels good right here...hillside or no! Logic just does not rule.
New Patio

John Working on the Solar

  Maximus our newest adoptee is doing fine. He's got some serious OCD problems that are really weird though. He looks for dust bunnies, snaps at the air and we can almost imagine some sort of pretend dialog he's having with the dust. He's aways looking for something that's not there...or at least nothing that we can see.  He snaps at the dust in sumbeams that stream in. If he is focusing on something, he will wiggle his head so it appears that whatever it is- is  moving and lunges at whatever it is that he sees. Now we know why he had a container of rocks removed from his stomach, and....he charges Tansy, Willow and the cats too.  Max is weird, but he is also intelligent, extremely sweet, loving, affectionate and has obviously  had a lot of love and obedience training. Oh, and you cannot touch any of his feet, or touch him when he's relaxing. If you bump even one tiny hair, he screams like you've just  about killed him! What Would Ceasar  Do? hmmmm......

Today I will be work on the big garden, planting the broccoli, more kale, brussels spts, swiss chard, giant mustard greens, strawberries... i also need to begin digging holes for the berries and other fruit trees. We've got two apple trees already planted, but want another variety, and then Asian Pears, pommegranite (seedless), grapes, apricot, plum citrus, olive and citrus. The olive variety will be for salt curing and the citrus, probably mandarin which is good for here. The grapes will be seedless variety used for raisins and the plum is a prune variety. All good for curing, drying and longer storage.