After last week’s delightfully warm and sunny taste of spring, the weekend turned overcast and cold with intermittent rain. We had to fire the wood stove up again. Daffodils and forsythia are in blossom. Forsythia is a prosaic shrub of a plant most of the year. But every spring it bursts into a beautiful bright yellow mass of flower-clad branches. You can’t miss it as you travel around the countryside. Trees hereabouts are just starting to leaf out. The drab-looking, winter-weathered tops on my garlic plants are greening up. That makes me happy.
My son Robert went turkey hunting with a friend Saturday and Sunday morning. So I was up at the crack of 4:00 am (long before dawn) to wake him, make sure he had some food in his stomach, and drive him to the friend’s house.
The young hunters saw some gobblers but didn’t have a good shot. Robert says calling them in is the hardest part. I’ve been told that turkeys have such incredible eyesight that they can spot you if you blink your eyes.
Robert and his friend (who is old enough to drive) were supposed to meet us at church yesterday after hunting. They made it, though a bit late. Robert told me he could barely keep his eyes open during the service. He took a nap afterwards. He never takes a nap so he must have been really beat.
For Sunday dinner Marlene cooked pot roast with potatoes and gravy and homemade applesauce. I like pot roast. It’s good down-home food. The meat came from a neighbor’s cow. The potatoes came from the basement. No, I did not grow them but we stocked up last fall. I plan to grow some this year.
I don’t recall my family eating pot roast when I was a kid. But Marlene says her family had it all the time. Her mom made it at least once a week. I've had Marlene's mother's pot roast many times and and it's good. Marlene learned how to cook a pot roast from her mother. That’s the way girls are supposed to learn to cook.
I’ve added my own twist to the family pot roast “tradition.” I like to shake some of my homemade stiffneck garlic powder on the meat, and the gravy, and, truth be told, I shake it on the applesauce too.
Another sign of spring... I shaved my winter beard off. The mustache remains.
Speaking of hunting, woodchucks are out in abundance now, after their winter hibernation. They are relatively easy targets until the fields and weeds along the hedgerows grow taller. Then you have to wait until after the hay is cut off to get a clear shot. All my boys have been out stalking the varmints. And they’ve managed to bag a few.
Last year I reported here with disappointment that our elderly neighbor lady with the well-stocked pond on her farm did not want our children fishing there any more. Robert went to her the other day, by himself, and asked permission to fish this year.
I was very pleased to find out that he had done that, and he did get permission. So my two youngest boys are now able to fish close to home again. And they tell me they are catching some nice bass. Robert says he caught a 15-incher. They catch & release so I have to take his word for it. ;-)
My 11-year-old son, James, did some mountain climbing over the weekend. Well, it wasn’t exactly a mountain. It was a steep section of bank in the gully behind our house. It might be 30-feet high, with a tree at the top, angled out over the gully.
James used my rock climbing harness (which I bought years ago and used, not for rock climbing, but for working on steep roofs) and a 50-foot length of cheap polypropylene rope (about the diameter of clothesline). He climbed up the bank, tied the rope to the overhanging tree, hitched himself to it with a couple of carabiners, and rappelled down the bank. The descent was not all that smooth because he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but it was exciting for him to hang in mid air and drop and push off and drop again. James occupied himself for a few hours doing that.
Things are progressing with the Grange Hall purchase. Marlene and I stopped in last weekend as a couple of Grange ladies were cleaning and getting stuff ready for a tag sale. The rumor around here is that we are going to open up a bakery. It’s not a bad idea.
I’ll have more to say about the Grange in future posts.
Our batch of eggs in the incubator did not hatch well. Most chicks developed part way in the shell. Only three made it all the way. One of the three met an untimely death when something fell on it (I’ll not relate the sorry details of the accident).
We have had our successes and our failures when it comes to incubating chicken eggs. And we’ve had broody hens hatch out clutches of chicks. I can tell you that hatching eggs is a whole lot easier, cheaper, and consistently successful when a mother hen does the job!
Marlene continues to make batches of soap. The shelves in our “soap closet” are full. There are now trays of fragrant bars curing all over our little house. And two chicks are under a heat lamp in the back room. We could really use a big ol’ Grange Hall about now.
And speaking of things not working out, we attempted to make a batch of kefir from some starter that Christian Fuller sent us. The directions she sent us made it sound so easy to do, and it was, but it did not work for us. :-(
I guess this blog entry illustrates how things often do not succeed the way you would like them to when you live an industrious agrarian lifestyle. Sometimes you sit for hours in the cold and rain and see a turkey but don’t get a good shot at it. Sometimes you try to hatch a bunch of eggs in the incubator and end up with gruesome-looking, partially-developed dead baby birds. Sometimes the kefir doesn’t culture.
But you don’t let it get you down because it all balances out— Forsythias are blossoming all over the place. The garlic tops are greening and growing. The children are experiencing wonderful adventures in God’s creation. And the home-cooked pot roast is downright good!
Goals for 2015 - It may seem like it’s a bit early to set homesteading goals for the following year. After all, it’s “only” November! Don’t we have at least another 6 weeks...
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