Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

Good evening ghouls and goblins!

I wish I could say I was out having fun, but I am at work :P. Those of us in the medical profession do not get holidays! Can't y'all quit getting sick or hurt for the holidays? The whole weekend I am going to be on call, but I won't have to work unless they have emergency's at night after the morning shift goes home so I'm crossing my fingers I can sleep through the nights without having to jump out of bed and into scrubs.

Tomorrow I hope to do homesteady type stuff all day. I'm going to make myself stay away from the computer and focus on chores, both outside and out and maybe I will even make some yummy comfort foods to munch on. AND I want to try my hand at sewing--- I have a pattern for an apron and some scraps of fabric. I know my first won't be perfect (Did I happen to mention in 8th grade I got a D+ in home economics? My worst grade EVER!! Go figure.....) so I am not wanting to buy expensive fabric for this first trial. I'm even going to have to figure out how to sew on buttons......I am most certainly not a natural homemaker lol! Aprons are an alien garment to me.....but I figure it's got to be pretty "easy" right? If all goes well, perhaps then I can try making other things. The last time I tried sewing anything was a skirt, which when I proudly tried it on Mike quickly proclaimed to look like curtains............

Well, Have a good night all! Sleep tight!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hallow's Eve

Good evening friends!

I know it is way past an update. I guess I haven't had much to say lately as this is one of those odd times of years where there isn't much going on outside or in. This weekend though, I must totally winterize everything. I need to get the remaining animals into the shed-- buy hay and winter feed, bury pots of plants in the ground to protect through winter, get burlap to wrap around my rose bush, wrap my fruit tree trunks, and cut back the remaining perennials.

A sad note about my animals: Last night as I went out to top off the water and feed, and to cover the hutches for the night, I discovered that Silver was dead. He had been healthy seeming earlier in the day. Since last year around this time, someone poisoned our previous rabbit, I was suspicious and smelled the water--- it smelled very strongly, like turpentine or paint thinner would smell like. I tried the other waters too, they did not have this same smell but to be on the safe side, I removed them all and gave the living critters new bottles. I'd hate to think that anyone would be so cruel as to poison someones pets but I can't help but suspect, especially after what happened last year. I left the bottle open, to show my husband later, but I foolishly didn't cap it again and by the time he was around to smell it, what ever it was had dissipated so my proof was gone. Poor Silver :(. I never did get him to father any kits, though I tried. I think he may have been sterile. So Once I put his memory to rest, I will have to find another male rabbit. Perhaps another dutch, they don't eat as much as a Rex dose! and therefore cost a lot less to raise. I hear too that they have large litters and put on meat very quickly. So maybe I will try that.

Other then that, there is not much to report here.

Have a good night all.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Focused all over the place

Good evening my friends!

I took a low census day at work today thinking that today was the day Mike got his test results for cancer back, I wanted to be there. But I was mistaken, wrong date. But since I'd already called in, I took the opportunity to hike again. I've done very little hiking this year, and I've forgotten how much I love it.

Sunday I went to the local state park, Indiana Dunes State Park. I took a nice long hike, one big loop that took me from one end of the park to the other and back starting at Devil's Slide. Normally you start down at the beach for trail #10 (the longest trail in the park) But since Ike took out a huge portion of the devils slide trail head parking area, the only way to the trail was to take a deter strait up Devil's Slide, a very steep sandy dune that you could literally sled down and have a wild ride doing it. What a nice little warm up that was! I followed a narrow trail between fencing (which keeps you on trail and off the protected portions of the dunes) The re-route takes you back down to the beach, on the other side of the giant sink hole. Its then a long walk along the gently lapping lake Michigan. I was tempted to take my boots off and wade, but it was chilly out with a slight breeze. There is no shade, and this portion would be almost unbearable on a hot day. You'd certainly get sun burnt. This part gets kind of monotonous after awhile, so I stopped now and then whenever I saw a particularly flat smooth stone to perfect my stone skipping techniques. (I really do need the practice!) I managed twice to get seven skips, my best score ever! It's hard to tell where to leave the beach, there are no clear signs and I way over shot the turn off. In fact I walked myself right out of the park and came to a road. Try as I might, I could not find a road on the map the park gave me. So I walked a bit along the road to see if I could see a continuation of the trail. I did not, but I did see a different trail head stop for a trail I never knew about in the Indiana Dunes national lake shore, plus, there were bathrooms which I took full advantage of. The little trail that goes from there is a birding trail, a .6 mile loop and boy was it hopping with birders and birds. A pleasant surprise for a mistake. after taking advantage of a bench to take my boots off and fix my socks which had been bunching up on me, I went back along the road to the beach and walked further up in the dunes trying to find my real turn off. About 10 minutes of regaining the beach, I found it. The sign was way up in the dunes, not visible from down by the water at all. My guess is most people go the opposite direction then I was going. The hike up from the beach on that end is not even close to as steep as Devil's Slide. Its still a sandy hill though, but not difficult. For the first time the entire hike, I'm in the trees, just in time for when it starts to warm up in the sun. A bit of a stronger breeze kicks up but since I'm moving, I don't get chilled. The trail takes you back west, on the back side of the dunes you were on the other side of, hiking east. It's a whole new environment there. The trees are mostly native tulip trees, oaks and some others I'm not sure of. You hike through alternate dry and swampy areas. The trail goes through "Paradise valley"first which is a calm, flat area. I stopped here to take a short break as other hikers passed on by. I certainly wasn't alone on this trail. There were far too many people for my taste, but with such a nice weekend, I could understand the need to be out. Next comes swampier areas, filled with ferns, trees that like more water, and the resinous white pines, filling the air with a scent that is near and dear to this Californian conifer forest dweller. I stopped to examine a small tree with dark blueberry colored fruits, bell-shaped. I'm reminded of Thoreau's book, Wild Fruits, and I'm tempted to eat them. I resist, barely, and move on. Lots of muddy trail follows, and then a boardwalk through more marshy land. A few stealthy mosquito's get a snack but it's not enough of a bother to spray the deet I carry with me. I leave the wetter areas for more solid ground again. The trail intersects several other trails, number 2 and 9 I think. Number 10 isn't a complete loop. I end up at the nature center and have to walk through a large and very busy campground (or should I say RV ground, I only saw 2 tents out of all the visitors staying there...and Rving is NOT camping!!! Don't kid yourselves! I hardly even count Car Camping as camping.) I hit the "Beach Trail" at the end of the second part of the campground, right next to the potties, that takes me back to the devil's slide area. It's a boardwalk the entire way that boarders a little stream. It's not far then, until I was back at the car.

Today, I stayed even closer to home and went to Deep River for a short hike. I wanted to take my favorite trail and maybe harvest some Hen-Of-The-Woods, where I had two secret spots of it. However, when I came to the first foot bridge, or where it should of been, I knew that Ike had done it's damage here too. That first stream crossing without the bridge is no big deal, its small. and the other bridges I came to, though damaged, were stable. The trail though, was something else. The river had gorged out big sections. A few times I had to climb down 3-4 feet lower then it was before. I had to weave through tree roots that I used to walk over unseen below my feet! There was a lot of standing water on parts of the trail that had to be navigated around. Trees were down everywhere. It got worse at the train trestle, where the soil and rocks had been heavily eroded away. I climbed on down anyway, the footing was tricky. Beyond this, the trail had been completely obliterated as what looks like a new arm of the river had made a gorge of the trail, and filled it with water, then surrounded it with heaps of downed trees, so many the thought of climbing over or around in hopes of finding the trail again was daunting. They don't really keep the trails in this park maintained, though, so It didn't surprise me too much. Mostly its those of us who hike them who do anything to help, and this was beyond help, I think. I found a way around this major obstacle though, but was unsure where the trail was after. I would of gone further had I brought my GPS or at least my compass, and if it didn't look like it was about to rain. So I turned back. I do not want to be caught back there if it rained, it floods an awful lot in this park. My hen-of-the woods were somewhere past that mess, if they were still there at all. My forage foray was not all together ruined though, I came to Haw heaven. Lots of fruit on the hawthorns this year, and the light frosts have made them sweet and very flavorful. No wonder there were so many robins, they were likely getting fat off of them. They are not Washington haws, or pear haws, its a new kind I haven't yet identified, but defiantly a haw. The leaves (the few left), the bark, and the thorns are all pretty distinctive of haws.

As I hiked today, I came to thinking about all kinds of things, about how I have myself always spread so thin around and getting nowhere, and not enjoying it. I've shoved things aside that I love (such as backpacking and hiking) for things that are mediocre to me, and for dreams that are probably unattainable for a long long time, if ever at all. Is a dream worth chasing if you never reach it or is it something worse? I'm just trying to survive, but if what I do to survive kills the things I love, is it worth it? I had to stop and think over this stray thought. I have to really look inside my heart. Sure I'd love to have a farm someday, but would it be attainable, or worth it? Am I making my life miserable for a possibility that may never happen? I don't want to live like that. I want to live for the moment. Hiking makes me feel at peace, being in the woods, brings calm and sometimes clarity. Why can't I just be happy where I am, living in this trailer with a small garden?

I'm rambling but I can't help but think the trail is the place for me. I've probably spoken of this before, but once, when I was laying in a hospital, near death, ready for it in fact, I had a dream. I was on the trail, I was hiking, hiking, hiking, up hill. There was a place I had to get to, a mountain top. And as I hiked, no mater how fast or far, it remained out of reach. I just could not get to the top. In my dream I grew fearful. I couldn't die yet, I had to reach that mountain. I was meant to. I was supposed to. I lived, I began getting better after that dream (In fact I don't remember a whole week of lost time before that dream so it really sticks out in my head).

Anyway, I have a whole lot of thinking to do. A farm dream is all well and good......but in all reality, I have my doubts if I would be able to attain it. Maybe it's just not meant to be.....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poor Freya Cat and a possible parasite

Good evening (Morning?) dear friends,

It's now 40 minutes into Sunday morning here and I can't sleep. I guess I have a bit on my mind (and some indigestion also) that has me wide awake. Most of you know about Freya cat--she even blogged for a while before she got bored of pushing keys on the keyboard. Those of you who know her, know that she is adored by Mike and I. Last Sunday was the last time anyone saw her, that is until yesterday. But even before last Sunday, she was gone for 2 whole days. I was at work when my husband called and said she had came home (last Sunday) but that something was VERY WRONG with her. She was drooling and acting nutty and was covered in mud or filth. He'd tried to catch her and she ran off, not to be seen again for a week. I though she might of been poisoned by something. When she didn't return, I feared the worst. I tried not to think about it. I tried to push it from my mind, really because I couldn't handle thinking about it.
but yesterday afternoon, when I returned from dropping mail off, she came running, meowing, greeting me in the drive way like old times. she was covered in filth (but wasn't drooling or nutty) she looked to have mud caked all over her and was looking very very ragged with patches of fur missing. My poor Freya! A bath, and antibiotics, she is going to be fine. poor Freya! If only they could speak, then I could understand what kind of trauma she had. :(

In some disappointing news, I thought perhaps I finally had an alien parasite. But, the p.o.s (piss on stick) reports that no, there is not an internal parasite at this time. Odd, because I really thought it was possible, with my crazy apatite lately and the odd early spotting (it ain't time for the monthly visitor yet so i thought it was very odd). oh well.................I'll just have to find another excuse for my crazy french fry addiction.

Have a good night (day?) my friends,


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hiking Season

Good morning friends!

I'm making plans to do a long day hike solo by myself come this weekend. I'd rather backpack but with the one car thing, that's hard to swing as Mike always finds some excuse to need the car. :). But there is hope, as the gas prices continue to go down, my ability to drive anywhere of note for hiking goes up. So gas, keep going down! It's for my sanity!

When Mike was much more interested in the whole hiking thing, his idea of hiking season began with the first frost and ended with the first remotely warm day. he wasn't much of a buggy, humidity, hot day kind of hiker. Snow was good, ice too, and the colder the better at night. But to me...Hiking season is all year long, except for some of the coldest nights....brrrrrrr. I don't quite have the stones to spend any more nights out below 0*, even with double the ground pads and an expensive -15* sleeping bag. I've tried it, and spent several nights freezing to death and afraid to get out of my bag to answer natures call. I'm a cold sleeper. I'll get chilled no matter the bag. I don't mind sharing my sleeping bag with my bottles of water to keep them from freezing, but when it comes to warming your cold camp fuel in your armpit so you can start your stove for a hot breakfast is just too much :). So call me a wuss if you like, I don't like sleeping out in the below 0 kind of weather. But, I will still hike! Once you are moving and burning calories you stay fairly warm, so long as you don't slip into any icy streams and get your boots wet (In which case baggies over your feet, though annoying to hike in as you slip back and forth in your shoes, helps tremendously to keep you from loosing any flesh.....believe me....I know.) and once again, it is quite painful to put your feet into frozen ice cube boots in mornings! So I think camping out this winter is not on my list of things to do, but hiking, snowshoeing and things of this nature will certainly be on it.

But, as I said before I got off on the whole freeze your stones off tangent, I was going hiking. I'm thinking a nice long stay out all day Sunday hike, with a picnic for myself. Perhaps I'll even pack my pack (as I would for backpacking) just so I get that good happy feeling again as I step along the trails. I'm not sure where I'll go yet, somewhere with lots of colorful leaves of course. I may have to pick up a disposable camera so I can take some pictures. The colors seem very vivid this year and I'd like to share them with all of you.

Well, happy trails my friends!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Lost And Found and the First Frost

Dear Friends,

You'll have to pardon me for not typing this week, I was very busy! But that doesn't mean I didn't have anything to type. Every time I tried to sit down and log on something would come up and I had to put it off once again. I'm sure you've all had days...and weeks(!) like that.

Last Sunday I had finished putting the veggie garden to bed. There is absolutely nothing else to do in it until next spring (not counting mulching and caging berry bushes for winter, I still need to do that). That Sunday, since things are tight, I tried something new for supper from the pantry. A while back someone gave me a bag of lentils they didn't know how to use. I've never really cooked lentils beyond that 15 bean soup bag which had them in it. I also had a bunch of beans but wanted something much faster then beans. What I came up with was surprisingly good, hearty, and cheap to make and i had left overs for days between the two of us. If you've never tried them, this is what I did, though I did not follow a recipe I just tossed in what I had, kind of like "garbage soup".

1 lb bag of dried brown lentils (Reading up on lentils later, I discovered they come in different colors)
1 can condensed tomato soup (normally I would use tomato paste but this is what I had)
7 cups of water
8 chicken bullion cubes
1 can of sweet corn
Garlic greens (I missed some garlic in the harvest and it was sprouting in the garden..had to dig em up anyway so why waste em eh?)
1 bay leaf (I used a fresh one from my little potted bay tree!)
dried thyme (amount? I just dumped some in)
ground black pepper (again, I didn't measure)
chili powder (nope...just poured it on it again)

I combined it all in a big soup pot and let it come to a boil, then simmered for about 40 minutes until the lentils were tender. This would be really good with sausage in it if you wanted to add meat but as it is, there is plenty of protein and fiber just in the lentils. I also made some white bread to go with it in my $5 thrift shop bread machine.

When this was all ready to be served, Brandi dog decided to get into some mischief but not the usual kind. This time it was VERY SERIOUS and SCARY. Mike was on the computer watching hockey while I was fixin' supper when Brandi decided to charge right through a screen window and go running off. Mike ran after her but this dog is FAST. We were frantic. We took turns searching by car but Brandi had run into adjacent farm fields and open areas. We called everyone we could think off, the police, animal control, humane society, the Houndsong rescue group whom we adopted her through. She is of course micro chipped but we didn't want her to be lost! It started to get dark. We kept hoping she'd smell her way home before dark as it was getting cold. Brandi HATES cold.

After searching and searching, I finally came home, feeling awful about losing our dog. But then the phone rang. It was the police dispatcher. They had found a dog and wanted to know if I could go see if it was mine. She couldn't give me a description but gave me a location. I hopped back into the car and drove as fast as my little Accent could go. I pulled up to two police cars. The police men were standing outside with a very happy and pleased with herself looking hound dog. It was Brandi, doing her best to impress the police with good behavior and acting very sweet. Apparently, when she got lonely and bored with tracking critters down, she went to the first people she saw for companionship. She really does hate to be alone, even more then she hates being cold. I was VERY glad to get her back. Thanks Portage Police!!! I am also glad she didn't go to one of the neighboring farms to harass livestock. I was afraid she would try that.

Since then, Brandi hasn't wanted to let me out of her sight at all. I can't even disappear into the bathroom without her getting frantic. I'm hoping she learned her lesson. She's been sticking to me like glue whenever I am home. I think being alone out there probably scared her silly.

It was a good thing she came home, as the next morning a first light frost coated the grass on the north side of the house when I got up. Its been very chilly these past nights but the days have been warming nicely. This year, the leaves on the trees are spectacular. Very bright and colorful. In fact, I think it's the best leaf year I've had since moving to Indiana. This weekend I have to work, but next weekend I most certainly will squeeze a hike in to take in some of the leaves and maybe I'll pack a picnic to enjoy.

Well, I hope you enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

The shivering dog.

Good evening friends!

This morning started off chilly again but not so chilly as the day before when I had all the windows to the house open, I had closed them last night. Still though, it was cold enough this morning in the living room to make the dog, our "tough" hunting dog, bred to deal with difficult hunting environments and rugged territory, shiver. For such a "tough" breed, she sure gets cold easy. The poor thing doesn't like to be in temperatures lower then 60. I guess I will have to make her a dog sweater or something for winter time! But at least the dog and I finally have something in common besides our love of socks, watermelon, and balls of yarn.

I'm reading some good books right now. The first, which arrived on Monday is "Heirloom, Notes From An Accidental Tomato Farmer" by Tim Stark. I'm enjoying it thoroughly. And then there is a surprise book "Five Acres And Independence" by M.G. Kains. It wasn't a book I'd ordered or was even expecting in the mail Wednesday, but there it was, thanks to my friends in Michigan who'd sent it to me. These are the same friends who bred Buttons, my Dutch rabbit and whom with I occasionally go hiking with. They needed the room, they wrote, for their expected new baby so were getting rid of books and thought of me when they pulled Five Acres off the shelf. That was very kind and thoughtful and I will be sending them a thank you note. I'm sure I can take the information in the book and use it to my advantage, even in my tiny lot garden and someday on my own piece of land. In any case, it should be a good read for the long winter that is before us.

Looking forward to the weekend.....

Have a good night all.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cold and Rainy

Dear Friends,

It's been cold and rainy all day. I woke up this morning and had to layer in clothes in the house and close windows. I don't think it got above the 50's today. Today's chill reminded me that I really need to get the shed prepared for housing animals during our long cold winter. I need to clean it out and organize it so that they have space and are easy to tend to and I need to set up a light on a timer for them and heat lamps and heated waterers. I also need to buy some hay, maybe two bales should do it? And not only all this but I need to make nest boxes for the hens as they should be laying well in another month or two.

The cold also reminds me its time to stop fooling around in the garden and get it cleaned up. Pick green tomatoes to ripen inside, the remaining peppers and to cook up all the pumpkins for the freezer and either dry the seeds and pumpkin skins for rabbit feed or roast the seeds for ourselves to enjoy. Then I need to pull all the tomato plants, weeds and whatever else needs to be pulled, composted or disposed of, mulch beds that still need new mulch, and give the compost pile one last turn over for the season. Also, annuals I wish to keep need to be cut and brought inside for rooting and growing over, and perennials in pots have to be either sunk in the ground or planted then mulched, and my potted amaryllis bulbs have to be debugged and brought inside.

Of course, all this stuff is pretty miserable if it's cold and wet out...Time to start dressing for the cold I guess. Good buy summer clothes!

Good night my friends,

Nickie :)