Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday Farm Report

Today dawned bright and sunny, if cold. Since yesterday was drippy and rainy, with a few flurries thrown in, just for fun, we'll take sunny and cold. I am getting tired of this. If we're going to have precipitation in December, it should be white and fluffy. And we need a good freeze. It kills off most of the worms our critters shed. I know. Eeeewww...

Happy New Year's Eve! Tonight we'll have a houseful of family, eating and watching movies, playing board games and trying some of that beer we got on the brewery tour. Until then, we're going to! Today we're having a thrift store adventure. I'll let you know of any awesome deals we find.

Beyond that, not much to report. The chickens are producing eggs like crazy, the horses are producing poop like crazy, and the dogs and cats cause us to laugh and holler in turns. Life on the farm is good.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Field Trip!

We went for a ride in the country today. Along the way, we saw an eagle. We see bald eagles every once in a while. It always surprises people, including the people in our own car today, that we see them in Illinois, but they are native. Just not common.

We were headed here. Sadly, I did not take any pictures. But if you know Berghoff, or Lazy Mutt, or Huber beers, this is where they are brewed. Also made here are some really good sodas; root beer, cream soda (to die for!)black cherry and blueberry sodas that are really yummy, even a good orange and cream. There were bottomless samples, a free six pack to take home, and lots of fun besides!

This was followed by a great supper here. Ribs. Yum. Smoked and juicy...

Just a really nice day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Giving

A while back, one of our sons, while moving, cleaned out his t-shirt drawer. Having received multitudinous souvenir t-shirts from various events, he found his drawer overflowing, and decided to lighten the load. I couldn't imagine throwing away these "treasures," and, this fall, decided to make something of them.

I cut out the printed designs from the front of a few of them. I added strips of fabric taken from the shirts themselves. I sewed them together.

Some of the shirts were neat souvenirs. Some were interesting, especially since he wore them while attending a somewhat liberal community college.

I do have to admit, I was worried about this being a "lame" gift. I mean, most 21 year-old young men don't appreciate blankets. OTOH, his brother appreciated the Cavalry blanket he received one Christmas.

I added tan fleece to the sides, as a border. I was aiming for this blanket to cover him as a throw, and he's six feet tall. I was going for ginormous.

I backed it with a deep green fleece, his favorite color. I tied the quilt in several places, and it was done. On Christmas Day...

It got rave reviews. I told his brothers I could do one for each of them, also, but I need their old t-shirts...

Monday, December 26, 2011


The horses get a special Christmas breakfast.

The feeding frenzy that is gift-opening time began after dinner.

"Grandma, you blinded me!"

She says she wants a hat for "every Christmas, forever."

Handmade and delivered, not by owl, but by his dear sister.

Christmas jammies!

And then came the morning after...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From all of us at Pine Ridge Farm, including Frank, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, Friday

Hey, remember my plant shelf? Here, finally, it is.

We added legs to it so that, when beloved canines plant their feet on it, the shelf stays put.

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows disappointed. It was fun, but was missing something. Plot connections would have been good.

Spent today baking and shopping. Many coffee cakes were baked, some of which will be Christmas presents. Logs of pepperkakor dough are chilling in the frig; tomorrow they will be rolled in turbinado sugar, sliced, baked, and consumed with hot, rich coffee. Family will start arriving tomorrow for Christmas Eve dinner. I should probably figure out what that will be...

Can you tell it's been along day, and I'm tired?

Winter Solstice

Many of our pagan friends are celebrating this week, too. Here's an excerpt from a pagan site I found, describing the holiday a bit;

Winter Solstice also known as Yule, Christmas, and Saturnalia, occurs in mid December. It celebrates the birth of the new Solar year and the beginning of Winter. The Goddess manifests as the Great Mother and the God as the Sun Child. The God also appears as Santa Claus and Old Man Winter. Colors are Red, Green, and White. This is a festival of inner renewal.

Strengthen bonds with family and friends by visiting and/or exchanging gifts and greetings. Decorate your home with lights, greens, and holiday colors. Bless your home with a Yule wreath on your front door and sprigs of mistletoe inside. If you are part of a group, take up a collection of food and/or clothing at your Yule gathering and give what you collected to a social service agency to distribute to the needy (for example, Circle's Yuletide Charity Food Drive). Place sunflower seeds outside for wild birds to feast upon. Greet the Sun at dawn on Solstice morning by ringing bells. Do magic for a more peaceful planet.

OK, what's a good Christian lady like me doing posting about pagan rituals? Well, many Christians, and you know this, rankle at celebrating Christ's birth at the same time as a pagan festival. Many non-Christians point to this celebration as further proof that Christianity is just some made-up system that took advantage of existing holidays to supplant those earlier religions and grasp control over the masses.

Not so much.

God in Christ is in compete control of the world He created, and the Church shows this, wittingly or no, by adopting rituals and celebrations of past systems. We're taking back what's been ours since the beginning of things.

For example, the winter solstice. The pagan lady says the solstice celebrates the beginning of winter, and the start of a new solar year. OK. The Christian lady notes that, on the solstice, the day is shortest and the night the longest. That means that, starting on the winter solstice, the days, which have been getting shorter, begin getting longer again. (The season of Lent, which comes in about 8 weeks, is named for the "lengthening" of daylight.) In other words, light comes into the world. The light, the sunlight, and, also, the Light of Christ, whose birth we celebrate.

Coincidence? I, obviously, think not.

Do we have to do anything to have this happen? No. Just as the light comes to us without our bidding or help, so the Light comes into the world without any bidding or help, unless you count the work of labor of a young Jewish woman.

Is December 25 the actual anniversary of the birth of Christ? Probably not. Some people say this happened in the spring; shepherds would be out in the fields in spring, tending their sheep. Others have figured it at various different times of the year. My own completly uneducated self thinks that the celebration is more important to my spiritual health than pinpointing the exact day. For myself, I need to think in terms of Light returning to the earth, rather than nitpicking about December 25 vs April 2, vs whenever. (Although, having attended the births of various critters, I lean toward a spring birth. I feel for those shepherds, sleeping out in the open, waiting for some sheep to drop a lamb, or to need help doing so.)

So, long story short, Christ was born, bringing with Him light and life into the world. Was He born in December? Not sure. Lots of evidence for other dates. None of that, in my mind, is going to change the focus and purpose of the celebration. Focus on the "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing," and not on the conflict over when and where and how we celebrate. Enjoy the lengthening of days, and the steady march toward the light. Share this with your family and friends, with words and actions and feasting. Oh, the feasting. Be sure of God's love for you in Christ as you head into a new year full of promise and revel in His deliverance from the problems it will also bring.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Film Festival

It started a few years back. We hold a family film festival during Christmas break. One year we watched all of the James Bond films. (When I said this was a family film festival, I didn't mean all the films were family films, OK?) We watched WWII films during the first festival. We spent one Christmas break devouring the first season of 24.

We started our festival on Saturday night, with Going in Style. John and I remember that one being a bit more hilarious, a bit less somber. Tonight we watched Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, one we've seen before, but these films aren't always ones we're seeing for the first time.

Movies mean popcorn. Even when we try to watch without food, about half an hour in, we all get a taste for popcorn. Here on Pine Ridge Farm, we make it the old fashioned way. We use this pot

which my grandmother gave me, years ago. I have no idea how old this thing is. I just know that it makes the best popcorn. She told me she used it for popcorn, too.

The heat goes on. I told you, we do things the old fashioned way here, even lighting the stove.

I put in some oil (1/4 cup, for you fussy folk)

and 3 kernels of corn. Once upon a time, my mom started popcorn this way, and now I'm imprinted. It's how I do it.

Once those 3 kernels pop, in goes 1/2 cup of kernels.

I shake the pan to cover the kernels with oil, but I couldn't take a picture of that. My hands were busy shaking the pot! Then the magic happens.




Peanut oil. Salt. No butter. In case you were wondering. Our popcorn is purchased from several very cute Cub Scouts. We buy about 15 3-pound tubs in the fall, and it usually lasts all year. We finish it all.

Tomorrow night we'll be at the theatre, watching Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Gardening Successes

I'm not the most technical gardener in the world. (Wow. I have become the Mistress of Understatement!) I love to plant and grow things, and that's about where it begins and ends. I want plant X to grow where I plant it, not that I plant it where it will grow best. I've spent a lot of money and made a lot of mistakes over the years.

I am getting better. I've had a few little successes in the past year or so, things I am kinda proud of. Because of the weather, I'm going to share a few of my indoor gardening successes. I would appreciate it if those of you whose mad gardening skills far outstrip mine would just encourage me. I don't mind a little teasing about how excited I am about these little things, but telling me, "Well, honey, I did that in my teens" would just quash my little gardening personality, OK? Thank you.

My Christmas cactus decided to bloom. Again. Two years in a row. I rock.

My orchid, which I bought in bloom and managed to keep in bloom for 2 months or more, is, well, looky here!

Can you see it? I admit, the picture is of the notsogood variety. But my orchid is reblooming! I told myself that, if I could get it to do that, I would get myself another orchid. I really like them, so, off to the store I'll go. It'll have to live there, behind the sofa, with my African violets. Those I've been able to keep in bloom for a long time, by top secret methods. (Ignore them, watering only when they wilt. Seems to work for me, as long as they're in a north or east window.) (So much for top secret.)

I also managed a wifely coup. Last year sometime, I asked for a shelf to be installed along our east living room window. I put plants there during the winter months, and there's a grow light there as well. I've been able to keep plants healthy that way. Well, late last winter, Mr. Jip and Miss Skye got all excited about someone knocking on the door right outside that window, jumped up on the shelf, and tore it out of the wall. This weekend, I convinced John that he wanted to re-install that shelf. It needed to be done, as the plants need a home and the Christmas tree lives just in front of the shelf. So, in order for the tree to go up, the shelf had to go in. I'd show you a picture of the shelf, too, but Blogger is not letting me.

So much for my mad skills. Puny little gardening ones. Miniscule photography ones. Minor computer ones. Guess I'll go get more coffee. That I can handle!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Saturday Fun...

Saturday's Farm Report was delayed a bit by some socializing the folks here at Pine Ridge Farm needed to get done. So this is a Sunday edition. Which is fitting, as the Saturday Farm Report actually started on Friday...

When I headed to pick up Mary from school, I did some errands. Among them was a stop at the feed store, where I loaded up her little truck, Scout, with feed and bedding.

Now, it had rained for a couple of days before Friday. And Mary drove home. And she asked if we needed to put this stuff away. We did, as I had a hair appointment. So she drove down to the barn to unload.

Although I was in the front seat, I was distracted, and didn't even think of the consequences of such. If you've visited here before, you know of our drainage issues in front of the barn. Sure enough, there was water in front of the barn, and you may be able to guess the rest.

The weight of the feed and bedding, which dug us in, would have helped on the other end, to help us out. But she and I unloaded the stuff, partially because we needed it, and partially because the truck had to sit overnight. Dad was available to help us on Saturday, and I didn't want to take the chance of those feed bags getting wet, if it should rain again, or snow.

So, Saturday afternoon, we pulled and pushed and sat in the bed while John drove the truck out. There were some colorful metaphors uttered.

In the end, we got 'er out.

And drove away.

I didn't make my hair appointment. In case you wondered.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Miracle Happened Here

Yes, that is Mary's Scout parked in our garage. It happens, sometimes, that a car finds space in the garage. Let's see how long it lasts.

(No disrespect is meant toward the celebration of Hanukkah. In fact, I hope that my Jewish friends and family have a wonderful time this year!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Housewife's Tale

Is this MY kitchen? Say it isn't so.

Maybe from another direction.

Hmmm...I guess I'd better get off this thing and get to it!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Farm Report

We've had another really busy week here down on the farm. But I still managed to get a number of things done.

I finally cleaned up the front and back porches. They still had summer lawn furniture and planters lying around. I cleaned and swept and put away and cried a little, because my foot hurt.

See, every so often I have toe issues. I won't go into them in detail, but, suffice it to say, I could probably spend a couple of hundred dollars at the podiatrist, and it wouldn't hurt so much. But, no, I decide to do a little minor nail surgery myself, and then hobble around for a week or so. It's lots more fun that way.

Today I was taking my horse out of her stall and putting her in the pasture when I let my guard down and she decided to take herself for a romp through the yard. Her romps almost always make a beeline for the pasture gate, because she's a creature of habit, but it's still a little nerve-wracking to see her gallumphing her way across the front yard. Even more nerve-wracking when I can't run, but have to hobble ever so elegantly over frozen ground and puddles to catch up to her and get a rope on her. She's very accommodating, standing there by the gate while I put her halter on. She's just not so accommodating that she won't take the chance when I let my guard down!

Today is cleaning the garage so Mary's little Ranger, Scout, can get inside. We're getting tired of scraping it when I take her to school in the morning. We've also been invited to Ethan's for dinner, and to meet the girlfriend. I'd also like to get some transplanting done, of the Aloe that Threatens to Take Over the World, or at least our yard. I planted one baby aloe in one 4" pot about 5 years ago. I now have a 3' windowbox stuffed with aloes. And that's after taking half of them out about 3 years ago! This fall, I left them in the yard, and, although the ground is freezing and the pond is, too, I still have a 3' windowbox full of aloes. So, if you know me...guess what you'll be getting for Christmas!

OK, if I'm going to get these things done, I'd better get to it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In Which Our Daughter Gets an F

And we are proud. She earned her letter in cross country this fall.

And she earned another award, which made us even prouder. Her coach chose her to receive the Outstanding Christian Cross Country Runner award, "For outstanding Christian leadership, Christian attitude and display of Faith on the 2011-2012 Faith Lutheran High School Cross Country team."

It made me cry.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Our littlest soldier came home from drill this weekend with a shiny medal. He also was named -drumroll- Soldier of the Year. No, we're not proud. Much. Since I know he likes the "cheesy," well, here ya go, kiddo.

[And, yes, I am aware that we have three "only pride(s) and joy(s.)" I can dedicate a cheesy song to them, too, if they want. ]

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Farm Report

18 hours out of the house yesterday, mostly driving. Woke up to grey, cold drizzle and a throbbing earache. I love my so-called life.

We had our first snowfall yesterday. It's all gone today, of course, but it reminded me of this song. I used to love watching this cute little video in between Ray Rayner and his little duck, Chelveston.

I apologize in advance for the earworm.