Thursday, October 30, 2008

My kitchen counter

Those of you who know me well know how crazy it has been with my family of origin. I think this picture sums up how busy my days have been. There's the pumpkin seeds I roasted after the pumpkin carving. There's 2 jars of my apple creations. There;s the first scarf I ever knit, next to the bottle of glue that failed to adhere the pads in a Halloween mask. If you look closely, the left back ground shows H2's ghost costume for Halloween in progress. There's no glue over there but instead my glue gun. There's my new favorite book quietly calling me to go gather acorns. Clearly, there's a lot of projects in motion.

Happy Halloween everyone!
Welcome November!
Be safe - be happy!
Much love,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It's what's for supper.
It was delicious.
SP has always made me gourmet meals out of the birds he kills.
One male grouse enjoyed Tuesday afternoon until it met SP's work truck.
The grouse flushed from the side of the gravel road into his truck.
SP stopped to retrieve the gift - a deceased beautiful male grouse, his neck snapped from a head-on impact with a moving vehicle.

Tonight this tasty bird graced my dinner plate, along with the last of our wild rice and a brandy cream sauce. For more information, visit my other blog. Pictures and recipe to be posted in the near future.

My new favorite book...

We took this out from the library and I am in love.

I think my newest domestic project will begin with gathering acorns this week. I have never thought about making flour from acorns, but a local flour company has definitely been on my mind. I need to get in touch with a friend I saw at the Common Ground. She told me there was a flour company in Maine. All I can find is Buckwheat.

Monday, October 27, 2008


This the season of apples. This picture was taken at the beginning of October while apple picking in celebration of some dear friends' wedding. I feel rather accomplished when it comes to how much I have done with apples so far this fall. The apples in this picture were used to make an amazing batch of apple butter. It was so good I saved it for presents! These apples also made I made enough apples preserves that with enough luck it will power all the school lunches I need to until the strawberries are ready for harvest. I plan to do a much better job of making strawberry jam this year. I'm happy to know that I am also not finished with apples, as we will pick another round this weekend. The mechanical harvesting crew finished a week or so ago at a neighbors property. He told us they were done so we're going to see what picking is left for us scavengers! I look forward to making more butter this weekend. I am going to try dehydrating apples too. Once Halloween is over, maybe it is time to think about pies. An apple pie is right where I will start.
Mmmm... apples really make your house smell so wonderful!

The Last Beets and Broccoli

Autumn is turning to winter, and the the garden is just about finished. This is one of those pictures I have been meaning to get up on my blog because it is based on the food we have grown and now stored for the winter. One Saturday afternoon over a week ago, I went to the garden and pulled the past of the beets and clipped the broccoli for what just might have been the last time. The beets surprised me in color but yielded less than I anticipated, so I had to compensate with some store bought so that I could make roast beet salad (recipe and pictures on other blog). The broccoli is in the freezer. We added a bunch of meat from a good sale this weekend. I'm proud that our freezer looks the best it ever has!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Girdles and trees

We have been managing some trees on our property for over a year. The recent push on firewood logging came as a result of nature taking it's course a bit later than expected, or should I say hope. A long long time ago, far longer than initially intended, SP went out and girdled trees.

What's that I said? Put girdles on trees?

Yes and according the Arbor Day Foundation:

Girdling Kills Trees

Keep the tree's most vital membranes intact.

Well as you will see, that's not always the case!

Here's SP and one of his girdles.

Girdles are a prescription of sorts... that's funny - prescription girdles - but this is a prescription for trees... trees that you want to make into firewood. The hope is that when the tree hits the ground, it has done so on it's own volition by the pull of gravity; it is dead and also dry.

Have you ever heard of a girdle that didn't work? Do you want to talk about failing girdles?

Well, our girdles didn't work so well. Some of these girdles are so old that they actually grew fungus.

These girdles worked as you can see the trunk parts had fallen off already. Some of them did just as they should, even though it did take an extra year or two...

In an ideal world the wood is dry. But in our world they act like the most tenacious weeds with a mind of their own. Not all of the trees have gone unwillingly. This is how you know a girdle didn't work - because it has leaves.

The time has come that these stubborn trees need to brought down against their will. Those logs are now decked in the sun, to be dried out the conventional way - via sunlight.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's a coat rack!

NOT a hat rack!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keep Maine Green

I've started an initiative of hiking with my kids, following a book, written by another local hockey Mom, detailing all the great family hikes in the area. We went on one last weekend that was perfect for my 4 year old to hike and for me to carry the baby in a pack. I want to accomplish all the easy hikes in the area before we move.
When we got to the top of this particular mountain, I saw broken glass everywhere, and upon closer inspection realized that these shards were fire remnants, repeated in various areas all over the peak. I warned the kids and other parents. I thought about the other people I had seen come up to this beautiful scenic overlook, and realized there were also those who walked up at night to light a camp fire. Upon closer inspection, there were signs posted everywhere.
I wonder what came first - the fire or the sign.
The fires still exist with the presence of the signs. Ho hum....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This post needs a giant disclaimer - this is for the ladies! This post is about chaps.

Men (other than SP) and SP's mother need to read no further.

There is something about a man in chaps. This post was inspired by Ree, the Pioneer Woman who blogs about the foods and activities of her family on their cattle ranch. Ree, like I, has a thing about men in chaps. She often references chaps and even has an archive of her chap posts ( She needs to add the recent cattle round up posts, because that one was what really inspired these pictures! I have always thought, as those in my Moms group can attend, that SP is at his finest while in his chaps. Maybe after seeing this, you will agree that there is something about chaps.

Seriously, what is there not to love about this?

Or this?

I think he's doing this on purpose.

Here's my idea of side saddle.


to save the best for last...

how suggestive is this?

See!? There is something sexy about chaps, maybe even more so if they are blaze orange.

Yea that's my man! Here's to you SP, and thanks for the idea Ree!

Logging Tools

Tools used in during a small logging operation.

First, you need a chainsaw.

Then, you need some dead dinosaurs.

You need to put on the proper safety equipment

You will need to measure what you cut.

Then you will need to use this Peavey to roll logs around.

Then you need a vehicle agile enough to skid the logs through and out of the woods.

And once you get the logs up to the proper log yard, you will need this handy dandy pulp hook so you can pick up logs and fling them where you want them.

I love the pulp hook. It's my favorite, well beside the guy in the chaps!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Me first always!

I just took one of those Twilight zone trips to the super market with all the kids. I don't just mean Twilight Zone as in the creepy show of yesteryear, but also as in the time of the day when the sky is an unbelievable blue but the light has not yet left the sky. It always strikes me at that time of day that it could be morning or evening as it is such a misleading color. It reminds me of certain people whose facial expressions or motivations are uncertain. There are those people so lost in their own world no one exists out side of their own microcosm. I ran into this sort of person during my Twilight zone trip. As I navigated through the maze of aisles at the grocery store, there was an incredibly pushy patron who never looked above her own nose or cart to acknowledge those around her, always weaving around others as if they did not exist. This market cart joust continued all the way down to the bread and freezer aisles when I thought she had to be gone for good.

As I neared the check out aisles there she was, heading straight for me and the only thing in between us was the only open aisle. It was a Maine stand off. Being the person I am, with three kids hanging off my cart, I offered for her to go first since she had less items than I. To my surprise, she didn't even acknowledge my kindness and moved in for a complete kill of kindness. I took a deep breath and moved on taking my place behind her in line and putting my ten year old to work to empty the cart.

As I watched her leave the store I was happy to have moved on to bigger and better things. I recalled that yes it was a holiday evening, which brings in all cast and kinds of folks to our small town. Yes she must have been from out of town. When the car was loaded and kids strapped in I proceeded out of my space in the lot to head to the exit, when a Toyota from New York, backed out of a space in front of me, not looking, and proceeded to stop in its spot, taking over both lanes of traffic.

I saw through the wind shield that it was her, my selfish nemesis from the aisles, corking up traffic to put on her own seat belt. I thought I was in some twisted scene from Better Off Dead with instead a crabby lady chasing me. How many people really back out of a parking space, one of the greatest scenes of accidents, without a seat belt on only to stop and make everyone watch them don one? In her impulsive need to get in front of everyone possible, how could she possibly still be in my way when I had much more groceries and children to wrangle into their own car seats?

I was aghast and pointed her out to my to year old, helping him recall the sequence of events that led to this latest display of rudeness. I muttered under my breath, "Typical New Yorker" and then had to bail myself out of such a slanderous statement when my son asked why I meant that. On our drive towards the light in the center of town, I explained myself and what I had learned growing up in the tri-state area in the shadow of NYC and how our own move north was to get away from the selfish "me first always" kind of life I knew all too well. We did after all move north to start living the way life should be, the Maine state motto.

Approaching the light in town, I noticed a car following me all to close for my comfort, and this says a lot as SP can attest to. But under the florescent glare of street lights I could see that that licence plate was from the Empire State. Sure enough the paperboy was back but this time the pay back was mine. Instant karma had intervened and I drove those 2.9 miles home as slowly as possible.

The Next Farmer in Chief

Michael Pollan wrote an open letter to the next President, which was printed in the New York Times food section. Pollan, a contemporary hero for me as an author, has wowed me again. it is a lengthy read chock full of food for thought. I highly recommend reading this.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Clean Energy Made Here

My husband has come up several times since I started blogging. I keep referring to him in that same anonymous way; my husband or at times dear husband, or simply DH. I have been trying to figure out a name for him, an anonymous term of endearing reference. On another blog I follow, The Pioneer woman, Ree refers to her DH as The Marlboro Man. I thought that maybe I could call my DH The Green Man, but he is only a vegetative deity in my eyes. I could have called him The Leprechaun, but as much of an Irish forest imp he is, miniature he is not. He is Frond my Fern, but I am happy that only a few know what that means. So I chose the most accurate and also shortest term of endearment: SP

Since there is so much more information to come, as so much of my sustainability involves him, here's a little introduction. Meet my husband SP.

SP is a forester, and has recently been seen as the logger for our 4 acre homestead.

SP is employed as a wetlands scientist, predominantly involved in the development of wind power in Maine. Here's a picture he took at work.

Because these installations are remote, he is in the field all the time and therefore is away from home for much of the week. It is hard to be home with three kids and no break, but I am comforted by knowing he is out there being the change - truly. These are some shoulders I am particularly proud of.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I can't wait to ride a tractor.

I was driving to town today (had to find a man about a notary) and passed a man on a tractor. He was serenely passing back and forth, swathing the fallen hay to dry another day before he can bail it. I can't wait to be that person on the tractor. I can't wait - really - because the farm is nearly with in reach. Well OK, the house isn't on the market yet but I know where we are heading! I look forward to controlling the fields and their eternal quest to return to forest, but also to know that I can feed and care for our future livestock. The thought that made me chuckle the most is how many women my age actually have their heart skip a beat when they think about haying?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Local and All natural Meat

I was a vegetarian for 15 years. As a baby, Mom wrote in my baby book that I would spit out meat any time she fed it to me. This continued for many, far too many, years until I declared myself a vegetarian in the 8th or 9th grade. The I met my dear husband (DH) love of my life - a hunter and fisher - and I had found my niche. Well, things are needing to be roped back in on the meat department for us, or else he needs to get off shore or else actually shoot a deer or moose and fill our freezer. Until then, I am trying to focus on the more local more natural choices in the carnivorous world. Most of my reasoning need to do this stems from the high cholesterol and risk of heart disease that DH has imprinted in his veins and genetic code. DH quickly read Michal Pollan's Omnivore dilemma cover to cover and cemented this new life choice for us.

Well, for tonight's meatballs (a crock pot recipe using frozen meatballs) I was so happy to find at our local Hannafords local and all natural frozen meatballs to use! Wolfe's Neck Farm raises Black Angus cows on a salt water farm on Casco Bay. Wolfe's Neck Farm is a historic 626 acre farm dedicated to sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and community well-being. I don't think I could think of a better place! The packaging goes on to say "Today that vision includes support of small-scale cooperative farming where animals are pasture fed as much as possible." As discussed by Pollan and others, grass fed beef is higher in natural Omega 3's than any other beef source, in fact factory farms contain little if any Omega's from their corn fed grain diets. This is clearly important to me and the health of my family. My favorite part is where it says, in bold letters, "Supporting a way of life - family farms." The way life should be - at least in my Utopian world view! That's where we're heading in life and I can't wait!

Interestingly enough, these meatballs were packaged for Pineland Farms Natural Meats of New Gloucester. So google I did and found that they are one of their community partners. It sounds like these guys are the go to's for this in my area. YEA! What a find!

Food that I have put up for this winter.

Ten + pints tomato sauce.
a small container tomato paste
1 bag dehydrated squash and zuccini chips.
6 quarts dill pickles
soon to be bread and butter pickles
Several quarts of corn.
Many pounds of chicken
A quart plus of broccoli
Flash frozen peppers - 4 packed pint bags.
Frozen chives
Frozen scallions

and I am curious how to save nasturtium, sheep sorrel, or mint, or other herbs outside

What is Tapioca?

And where does it come from?

It's involved in one of my next recipes.

Well it turns out that this stuff is the main component of the diet of those aboriginal tribes on Nightline I talked about in my "Stranger in a Strange Land".

But here is what my lovely Wikipedia says:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why did I let my daughter have thumbs?

And why did I teach her how to use scissors?

Better yet, why did I leave my scissors out?

No more important, is why did I leave my scissors out next to my knitting project ?

That was not just any knitting project.

It was the FIRST knitting project that I hadn't made a mistake on yet.....

Do you see where I am going here?

She cut the freaking yarn off and I have to start all over.

Maybe THAT what I get for making dinner from scratch (again) and being occupied by something other than her whereabouts.

Scarf number 387 here we come!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stop junk mail

Thanks to Ecostilletor I found this nifty site. I wonder if it will work.

I hope it works! Though we do get far less than we did in Connecticut! I'm just sick of all the crap from credit card companies!

I have since seen this advertised as a banner on Yahoo. When I take a break from my recipe blog I will definitely register. Only yesterday my 10 year old son received a AAA life insurance card in the mail. Ugh!

Learning to knit!

Ah... the joys of learning something new! My mother in law just left and has spent the past two days teaching me to knit. I am learning a lot about letting go - starting something, getting somewhere, undoing it, and starting over. I am learning to relax and not get attached. This all started with the divine idea of making Christmas presents. Then I realized that as we move to a family farm, I can become involved in the fiber arts. So research I have. At my husbands bidding, I spent a day at the Fryeburg Fair investigating their Fiber barn. Oh me oh my how amazed was I! I learned so much and networked. I bought a drop spindle and some wool hoping to relearn a long lost skill from college. Did you know that angora is six times warmer than wool? Did you also know that Angora is not just a rabbit? The best part was learning that goats can be sheared for wool as well! Not only will I have milking goats but I will also have mohair goats and they can all live together in one happy herd! How perfect is that? The angora rabbits will make the perfect pet for the kids and where else would we want such a warm fiber than in Maine!

The pieces are all coming together and I can't be more excited. I wish the pieces of my knitting were all coming together, but this is the harder part. I can cast on like a pro. I prefer wooden sticks to the metal ones. I can knit, but somehow I keep adding stitches. How the heck am I doing that when I have never learned? Then there is the purling. They say it is so easy - then why is that the part I am consistently screwing up? Well this morning I have started and restarted three times so far. I am three rows in and it looks like I still have my intended 30 stitches. Wish me luck because it is getting colder out and I would really like to wear my new scarf!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Wild Foods- the perfect Freeganism

I received a delightful gift this weekend from our new friend Amos. He was outside playing with my children and approached me with a handful of greens as a wild contribution to lunch. I had no idea that all around my house was a tart green loaded with Vitamin C called Sheep Sorrel. I quickly browsed one of my wild foods books, but it wasn't in it. It's actually regarded as a noxious weed, but I think it makes the perfect addition to my daily cheese sandwich on rye bread! Well this lovely sorrel has both culinary and medicinal uses. So my research is, as soon as possible because all it takes is one frost and it's gone, how I can save it for the winter!