Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Today was our first visit this season to one of several local farmers' markets we have in our community each week. With markets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, all having different farmers, it's a treasure hunt every single time we go.
One of the farms is close by and I had to stop and tell the story of a day a few weeks ago when I drove past and spotted two of her new sheep propped up on a fence rail straining to reach the leaves on the tree for a green nibble. I wished again I knew how to knit - she had gorgeous yarn from her wool, in my most favorite colors - cobalt blue, fuchsia, emerald. It would make the perfect poncho. One day. It's on my list to learn.
Tonight's meal was left-over roasted chicken sauteed with red and yellow peppers and onion, avocado, and salsa on warm from the pan home-made corn tortillas. Dinner was incredible.
Tomorrow night we'll use the chicken to make stock for risotto and the tender local greens and sausage we picked up at today's market.
We also got parsley, green garlic, salami, lettuce greens, and a few other things I'm forgetting. Ideas for meals line up like dominoes in my mind.
We love knowing where our food comes from, that it is grown and raised with love and care, that animals used for meat are treated with respect, and we love how good everything tastes.
I was in our garden this afternoon, tending spinach, kale, bok choi, brocolli, purple cabbage, sage, and basil. I saw at least 20 tiny seedlings sprouting, volunteers from last year's garden. And I'm starting some seeds inside as well.
If you don't already grow some of your own food, or visit your local markets, give it a try this year. It makes the meals, and the season, extra special.
Friday, April 11, 2014
I was ready to change the blog decor and since April is Keil's birthday month, and since he will be 25 years old in another week and a half, and since he has taken to following me to the back gate and hanging his head over it, and since he looks so incredibly handsome doing it, you can see that Keil Bay has taken over camera-obscura.
Which is fine with me!
It's April. Along with Keil Bay and the Little Man having birthdays, my husband has one, my daughter has one, and I personally think we should have flourless chocolate cake for all four of them. Have I mentioned here that I have gone (almost totally) gluten-free? I can't tell you how much better I am feeling. I have more energy, my head feels clearer, and I am so much more productive on a daily basis.
I'm happy that our local farmers' markets are back in business for the season, my garden beds are about half full, and I've expanded the garden area and fenced it away from Corgi gardeners who seem to have different gardening practices than I do. It is easier to eat good food when the markets are going. Tomorrow will be our first farmers' market trip this year.
April also means ticks, culicoide midges, and probably fleas, but I haven't seen the fleas yet, thank goodness. Oh, and fire ants. I got my first fire ant bite of the season on Wednesday. I'm not even mentioning flies - time for the fly predators to start showing up in the mailbox!
In other news, I've started novel number 2 out of 3 that I intend to write in 2014.
My son found out he was awarded a National Space Grant Scholarship for next year.
My daughter is prepping for her SAT test and if practice test scores carry through to the test itself, she's going to knock the socks off that thing.
What's going on with you?
Friday, March 28, 2014
Today we're going into the 60s but yesterday morning troughs had a thin layer of ice on them from the low 20s the night before.
I saw the first carpenter bee last week and then the day following saw a number of dead carpenter bee corpses because they had frozen that night.
It's a crazy back and forth transistion this year, but yesterday after riding Keil Bay I was literally covered in horse hair, so that's another sign weighing in that spring surely has to be nearing!
We'd had a week and a half off since our last ride until yesterday. The arena was freshly harrowed, it was sunny with a stiff wind, and it was time to get back into the groove. I have been experimenting the past few rides with different hand positions. I had gotten in the habit of holding my hands about 8 inches apart and I decided to close them to about 2 inches and see what happened. Well, the difference was startling. There was no change in contact - simply bringing my hands back toward the wither and keeping them there. All need for steering seemed to disappear.
We had a nice long walking warm-up, then notched it up to Keil Bay's power walk. We did crisp, perfect turns on the haunches and the forehand in the deepest part of the arena corners. We did serpentines. And then we did just a little trotting, and it was very very nice.
It was a fun ride - Keil Bay was alert but not spooky, even though the hay tent was filling with air and swelling like a living breathing creature, and the neighbor was driving loads of fallen branches into the woods and dumping them, making huge, invisible, crashing sounds. Keil kept his eye on the woods for me but even when I dismounted onto the hiked-up block and he had to turn his rear to the woods while crashing brush happened, he stood as still as a soldier on duty. It's good having such a terrific partner to work with.
On the neighbor and dog front, we had a scary incident last weekend when neighbor's adult daughter took dog on leash along the fence line, allowing it to dart under the fence so she could correct it. Okay, I would prefer she train the dog not to come within a few feet of the fence personally, but at least she is trying.
But she waited to do it until the horses and donkeys were right there, and the entire herd moved to the fence to protect their territory. The pony and Cody went right up to the dog and she continued to let the dog go underneath - and the two horses turned their rears to the dog (and to her). I was scared they were going to kick at the dog and hit her. I don't know what the thought process is over there but after seeing that I got a copy of our neighborhood covenants and thankfully, mercifully, there are absolutely no restrictions on fencing except that barbed wire is prohibited.
We will be installing no-climb wire around the entire perimeter, starting with that side, which will keep the dog out. The Horseguard tape will keep the horses off the woven wire. Then we are installing a 10-foot privacy section with a lattice inset along the top foot and an arbor on top so I can plant grape vines or something nontoxic and flowering to add even more height. This will put the dog, the neighbors, most of their house, their cars, their parking area, and their junky sheds out of our sight forever.
Interesting to read the covenants and learn that of everyone on our lane, we are the only ones totally compliant with all the rules!
I also discovered that the house across the lane that is for sale had in its real estate listing the phrase: Perfect For ATVs! I emailed the realtor and told her no one here wants ATVs driving up and down the road, that it is not okay, that I have had numerous occasions to call the sheriff when the old ATV neighbors lived here, and that I hoped she would change the listing to accurately reflect that this neighborhood values peace and quiet. She emailed me back saying she had removed the phrase! What a relief!
We have rain rolling in today and thunderstorms tomorrow and then sunshine returns on Sunday. Just in time for me to start what will be 6-8 or so weeks of riding lessons here on Keil Bay. An opportunity arose and I seized it - really excited to see how it goes and do some learning and tweaking and improving.
It feels like we're all hanging on, waiting for spring to come and stay. Maybe April is the key to that this year!
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
We have had several stretches of gorgeous spring-like weather, but yesterday and today we're back to cold and ice. It looks like tomorrow we will start the shift back to warmer temps.
The horses and donkeys are alternately grumpy and playful. Keil Bay is looking especially floaty the past two weeks so I'm eager to get some ride time in when the weather warms up.
I have daffodils in full glorious bloom, and the crocuses are done. The tulips are up and but not quite ready to bloom.
The vegetable beds are clear and I put in some seedlings that looked sort of pitiful initially but are holding their own out there. I need to start some seeds inside but it's hard to get motivated when it keeps getting this cold outside!
I'm hoping this winter is knocking out all the pesky biting insects.
Writing-wise, I am at the end of the first draft of claire-voyant and nearing the end of my second editing pass on Never Not Broken. I'll be starting claire-de-lune, the fourth novel in the Claire Quartet, at the beginning of April and getting these two editing and ready to roll.
And I think - thought not quite 100% sure - that gluten-free eating is at least partly responsible for my productivity. For more information on this, I highly recommend the book Grain Brain. It's fascinating.
Hope all are well and that we all get some springtime weather very soon.