Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In Memory of Ginger

Ginger was our little baby. She was adopted at around 8 weeks old from a veterinary clinic. Someone had found her on the street. How could anyone do that to a cute little puppy like her?
She had the sweetest face.
Her best friend was our dog Mollie. As big as Mollie was, Ginger was still the boss.She liked to get into things, even the dishwasher!Ginger had surgery to remove her eye due to glaucoma. She was already blind due to cataracts and she was also deaf. At least she didn't have to get used to being blind after the surgery. Six months later, the other eye was removed for the same reason. She was a trooper though. She healed well & went on with her life.We took her to the farm with us. She liked taking walks with Steve. She never was as comfortable there as she was at home. I think all the strange smells of the farm bothered her.

This is her Christmas picture last year. We would put on her sweater when going for walks. She was getting thinner as time went by.

Sleeping up at the farm.
Ginger's last visit to the farm. As long as she was near us, she was happy.
The last picture we took in June of this year. Seventeen years old. She was so thin, not eating much & her back legs had lost strength. We knew it was time. The vet came to our house so she would be comfortable.
I'm sure she is in "doggie heaven" now running around with Mollie & chasing squirrels.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for so many things. Family, good friends,
(a new president), all the great food that the farm
brought us this year
and thankful we are here to enjoy it!

Here are some pictures of dining rooms & kitchens from the past.Grandma setting the table. My sister Cathy.

Aunt Angela & Grandma busy preparing food. Grandma, proud of her table.

Mom, cleaning up.
Look at the size of that freezer!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Amish Life

We learned a lot about the Amish culture during our time at the farm. Living next door to Eli & Lizzie and their ten children has been interesting. We've also read a few books to find out more information so we don't ask them too many personal questions. They are the old order called the Swartzentruber Amish. They speak Pennsylvania German to each other but can speak fluent English to us. The children start school around age five and that is when they learn English. They go to school until age fourteen and then stay home to help with the chores and the other children. Most of the Amish, if not all of them around us, sell goods they produce to the English (that is their name for non-Amish people). Eli & Lizzie sell baskets at the farmer's market in town. They sell up to Christmas time even after the market closes for the year. It gets really cold standing outside, but they need the money so they do what they can to make it. They also sell raw milk to our other neighbors. I am thinking of buying some to make butter. Just one of the things on my list to learn. They trade us butter sometimes when I bring them herb tinctures. It's really good! Right now we are letting them pasture their cows & horses in our front pasture and keep the hay they cut down in our fields. We have about 9 acres of hayfield. Eventually we will be using the land ourselves & hope it doesn't cause too much of a hardship for them. Next spring we are planning on planting 100 hazelnut trees which will probably take up a half acre or so of the hayfield. They have also come over with fresh pies, bread, raspsberries, veggies, cider. One time Eli was over he told us Lizzie was baking pies & thought she had one for us. I think he was wrong since he came over after 9pm with a steaming hot pie in his hands. Bet Lizzie wasn't too happy with him!
Eli is great for helping us when we have heavy stuff to unload from the van. He is always joking around too. Lizzie is really nice & seems to crave company. I would too if I had ten kids to look after!
We recently put in modern plumbing. The kids are very curious about that. It's fun to show them and wonder what they are thinking. They do without a lot of things we take for granted, but they are happy. It is refreshing. None of them have their noses in video games or have headsets in their ears. Of course the women don't have equal rights in their world, but I do think Lizzie can hold her own with Eli!
The pictures below were taken with respect in mind. The adults don't like their pictures taken. I made sure they weren't close-ups.

This is the barn before we bought it.

It was like going back in time.

Amish work in the fields with draft horses &
have no rubber on their wheels.
Eli & Lizzie's house

The kids help out as they get older with the chores.

Church time on Sunday. They attend services
at other Amish homes every other week.
One of the boys taking the cows to pasture.
That is the neighbor's house in the distance.
They had just finished with the oats.

Another Sunday with church at the neighbors.
It usually starts around 9 am & lasts all day.
They all dress in their finest clothes on Sunday.
The women always have their heads covered.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Cedar Chest

This weekend our daughter & her husband came to visit for a few hours. I had the cedar chest ready for them to pick up. It belonged to my grandma on my mom's side. Grandma as a childGrandma in the Roaring 20's

I've had it for years & stored all things special to me in it. Things like hospital pictures of the kids, my grade school pictures, high school chorus & band programs I was in, the dolls I had as a child & a lot more. I decided earlier this year that I wanted Kristin to have it. It felt right, passing down the cedar chest. Now she can put all her "special things" in it plus the few things I passed on to her. The flannel jacket & matching bonnet with rosebuds on it that both she & I wore home from the hospital at birth, her baby book, pictures she'd colored, notes she wrote in grade school and the baptism dress we both wore as babies.

Here they are posing with her great-grandma's cedar chest.
This weekend, I also picked up my mom's cedar chest. She is living in an assisted living community now & has no place for it. The cycle continues...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Baking Pumpkin

Last night I decided to bake another pumpkin. The pumpkins I grew are the same as Libby's uses for their filling. They are called Dickinson Select. My daughter's inlaws grow pumpkins for Libby's in Illinois, but I saved the seed I have from a pumpkin I received at the local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) last year. Ended up with 15 large pumpkins.

I gave away about half of them & have been baking & freezing the rest. These are not your average, everyday carving pumpkins. They have the thickest pulp. And big seeds.So, how do you bake a pumpkin? First cut off the top then slice down the sides into pieces. Scrape the stringy part & seeds off of the pulp. I use a grapefruit spoon to make it easier.
Place the chunks face down on a baking sheet & place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about an hour & a half (depends on the thickness of the pulp).

When done baking, flip the slices over to cool. Then take a spoon and scrape the pulp off off the skin. This is how much pulp is from that one pumpkin. This is two baking sheets worth.
Yes, that is almost 9 pounds of pumpkin pulp from one pumpkin! I do have a lot of pies to bake this year (eight all together) but there will still be a lot left. And what about all the other pumpkins we have? Here's what I do. I measure out either 2 or 4 cups into a freezer bag & flatten. You can store a lot of these bags this way. They are easy to thaw for your recipes for soup, cookies, pies, cakes, breads or whatever else you can think of to do with pumpkin. With pie being my favorite, soup is a close second. Just add pumpkin pie spice and milk (I use oat or hemp milk) and blend for a minute then heat.
Don't forget about the seeds. Rinse off most of the goo, toss with a little olive oil and sea salt, bake at 325 for 20 minutes & you have a great snack. The only things wasted are the skin (and the stem).

Last Weekend at the Farm

It was a busy weekend at the farm. The weather was cold & windy with snow showers. Of course that was Saturday, the day we had planned on putting in the big picture window. The reason we had planned to do that was because we were having company. Shane (our son) came up with us on Friday afternoon & Amy & Rob (daughter & boyfriend) came up on Saturday morning with Hero. We had help so the project went ahead as planned. Two windows were taken out & replaced by the new picture window.
This is something Steve & I would never have been able to do by ourselves. As the construction (and destruction) was taking place, the neighbor came over & offered the use of his tractor to make it easier to lift the window into place. Without that, we would have had to use two scaffoling sets & had a harder time with the whole process.
Pieces of siding & insulation had to be removed.Steve then got on the tractor to cut away the remaining siding.
Sparks were flying!
The opening is ready, now comes the hard part.
Like I said, Steve & I could never have done it ourselves! the other room Hero is enjoying the warm fire.
There really wasn't much for Amy and I to do that day except
play with Hero & take pictures.
Rob finished off insulating around the window & we were done for the day.
We all relaxed for a while & then went out to eat at our favorite restaurant in town. The pizza & beers were great. Then we stopped in for a drink at the bar where our neighbor Jim bartends on weekends. It has been a while since Steve & I have been at a bar. It was fun to experience the nightlife in town.

Sunday we worked on insulating the basement. Amy & I put the water heater blanket on and insulated pipes while Rob caulked the rigid insulation & Shane was cutting & installing the insulation. Steve took his turn caulking too. We are so thankful to have great kids and great friends!

It was time to clean up and go home. I always feel a little sad when we leave there. We always work hard when we are there, but it is a different feeling than the work at home. Everything that is accomplished there is so exciting. One step closer...