Farmward – Ho!

The saga with my folk's farm continues. It looks like this time the sale might be the real deal – possibly. It's been a long drawn out process, drug out since last fall. A couple with 4 little kids want to buy it “for sure”……..contingent upon them selling at least one of three properties they own. And then comes all the hoop jumping and red tape with appraisals, inspections of every sort, what is included in the sale, etc., etc. At least these people don't expect my folks to include furniture, pictures, garden decorations, clothes, shoes, and the family bible in the sale, like the last yahoos did. (Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not by much!) This potential buyer did want them to throw in the backhoe with the sale, which may, or may not, be considered. Depends on what sort of place my folks can find to move to. If they have to start from scratch with a place with no fences or outbuildings, my Dad will need all his equipment to get the job done. Hopefully a place will come up not needing everything from soup to nuts to get ready, before they can move in. I cannot tell you how absolutely insane the real estate market is in this area right now; very little to be had, and a king's ransom in pricing for what is available. We've all been searching like mad, trying to catch things that come on the market immediately, as homes and land are snapped up, literally, within hours after being listed.

I stopped at the farm on the way back from the cabin the other day. I feel like you can't soak in enough of the place, when you know the chance is great that it will belong to someone else soon.

 

My Mom brought me upstairs to see this cactus type plant that is in full bloom.

 

I got to visit all her babies while we were upstairs.

 

 

And get an upper view of the gardens from the bedroom balcony.

 

It will be a big adjustment for the little horses to have only a very few acres to live on. Hopefully it won't bother them too much. They are an elderly lot; the oldest one being about 34 years old, the youngest I think around 22. There are 15 left, and my folks just want to keep them fed and happy til they go to the happy pasture in the sky. Their whole house search is revolving around finding a place where it will work for their old horses, and old barn kitties. Some people call that crazy, I think it's mighty admirable.

 

From last fall

 

Hopefully the geese will get to stay on the farm, as many of them are 30+ years old

It's a beautiful place, and I sure hope the new people will love and care for it as much as my folks have. It will be nice for their little kids to grow up there; the perfect setting for playing and memory making.

As stressful as it is, I guess we just have to remember that the good Lord has a plan for us all, and we need to keep the faith and move forward knowing it's in His hands.

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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R is for Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a vegetable, but is most often put to use like a fruit. For most folks, it is a love it or hate it situation – not too much of an in between. I love it's bright, tart goodness, and have quite a collection of recipes so that all that grows at my house is not wasted. It is tricky to cook with, because it holds so much water. I've turned out several pies that were either absolutely water logged, or so tight they were rubbery, by under or over estimating the amount of thickener needed. It's hard to get that just right consistency; glossy and soft – not too runny, not too firm and bouncy.

I've had a bountiful crop so far, due to the cool (cold!), wet conditions rhubarb is partial to.

This is what remained after harvesting about 2/3 of what has popped up so far this Spring. More will come now that it's been thinned a bit. YAY 😉

I seem to have better luck making bars, rather than pies. With the filling not so deep as it is in pies, it tends to thicken more consistently. So, I drug out all the gear, and a “go-to” recipe.

Here is the recipe I used, that is a compilation of several I've tinkered with to make it work for me.

First, the best crust I've ever had. The recipe came out of a little paper back church fund raiser cook book I bought when I was a teenager and kept in my cedar hope chest til I moved out on my own. I've used it until it is rag-tag and falling apart over the years.

3 cups white flour, 3/4 cup butter flavored shortening, 3/4 cup salted butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 to 5 Tablespoons ice water, 1 egg lightly beaten, 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening and butter. Add ice water 1 T at a time til mixture is crumbly but starts to come together a bit. In a cup, add the vinegar to the egg, mix and pour into flour mixture. Stir and press til a ball forms, adding small sprinkles of flour as you go, so it doesn't stick to the bowl. Place dough ball in a bowl in fridge 15-20 minutes to rest.

Second, measure out 7 cups chopped rhubarb into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups white sugar, 2 rounded Tablespoons tapioca powder (what I used was called tapioca flour; both work, and are probably pretty close to the same thing), 3 rounded Tablespoons white flour, and half of a 3 ounce package of red gelatin (I prefer strawberry, but any red works and looks best.) Add sugar mixture to rhubarb and coat well.

Get your crust dough from the fridge and roll out on a well floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thick. I transferred the whole kit and caboodle to a large, rectangular baking pan, covering the bottom and up the sides. Press lightly into corners and on sides. Cut the excess from what hangs over the sides. Gently pour rhubarb mixture onto crust in pan. I loosened the crust from the sides and folded it over the rhubarb, galette style. It keeps the crust from getting too brown on the sides. Since I try not to waste anything, I rolled the leftover crust into long skinny ropes and placed them on top. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temp to 350, and continue baking 30 to 35 minutes longer.

It came out just right; not runny, not rigid or rubbery. The crust was a golden brown. I guess you could drizzle a glaze, but I think it's plenty sweet without.

We gobbled it up 🙂

Tomorrow I'll make rhubarb freezer jam. I love being on vacation!

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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A Vengeful Spring Storm

The pretty little mama robin came back this spring. She reclaimed the nest she and her husband built last year. I was so happy to see her flitting to and fro out my kitchen window. The lilacs were in full bloom, as were the apple, Schubert's chokecherry, buckeye, and cherry trees in my yard. Spring was springing!

Then, Montana being what it is, it hit.

And this year, it was particularly bad.

A horrible, heavy, wet snow that weighed down the trees made fragile by the sap freshening in their branches and trunks, and the new leaves holding the snow, which further pulled the branches down. The next morning was disastrous in our little town. Whole trees downed, and broken branches everywhere. I heard there were homes damaged from falling trees and limbs, as well as fences, vehicles, and anything else that happened to be in the way as the snow laden trees were torn to bits. Working where I do (at the City's refuse transfer station, recycling, and green waste drop spot) I saw first hand the carnage the spring storm produced. People brought pick up truck loads, trailer loads, and some dump truck loads full of broken branches, crushed bushes, and whole trees that had fallen. It was fairly chaotic at my little scale house, to say the least. After 6 days of people hauling load after load to the green waste pile, over 200 TONS of green waste had been brought in by folks. And that doesn't even count the the BIG City dump trucks that were running full loads (which were not weighed) out of town to a spot of land where they can deal with the massive amounts later. Boulevards and alleys are still littered with stacks of branches and bushes as they wait for the city crews to make their way through the town to load them all and haul them away.

Comparatively, I got off fairly easily with just one large branch broken off my apple tree, and a medium sized branch off my Ohio Buckeye. The lilacs and pussy willow were flattened, and are just starting to try and pull up again. Bruce wrapped a ratchet strap around the willow to get them off the ground.

My little Mrs. Robin couldn't take the whole ordeal, and flew off, leaving her one cracked and frozen egg in the nest. I wonder if she'll be back, or if she's packed and headed for warmer climes, where you don't have to worry about our unpredictable Montana weather.

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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Horse Crazy

All my life I have been besotted with horses. Well, all animals really. But as far back as I can remember, horses were my hearts desire. All I wanted in life was a horse. Being a town kid, that made the dream fairly far fetched and hard to attain. So I consoled myself by reading every available horse or pony story I could get my hands on. And I read a lot of them!

I believe it was third grade when our teacher assigned a special project for the whole class, in which we were all instructed to decide what our favorite book was, and write a letter to the author of that book. I chose the wonderful author and artist C. W. Anderson. He wrote many books for children and young adults. His paintings and sketches are so wonderful, just beautiful.

I love this one. I am really partial to pinto horses.

So, I set to task writing a very heartfelt letter to my favorite author and artist. We sent them to the publishing companies of the books we had chosen as our favorites, and asked them to please forward the letters to our chosen authors. From what I remember, most of the kids received either printed info about the author from the publishing company, or a postcard from the author thanking the student for the interest in their work. I, on the other hand, received a lovely, hand written letter on Mr. Anderson's stationary, that also had a print of one of his paintings on it. To say I was thrilled is putting it mildly! It had his return address on the envelope, so I immediately sent another letter. He again responded with another kindly letter. I have both of those letters to this day, tucked away in a scrap book.

With the information available at our fingertips today with the internet, I can see that he would have been quite elderly when he sent those thoughtful letters to a little girl that loved his stories and beautiful paintings of horses. As an adult, that is a regret I ponder – that I didn't continue writing to that wonderful gentleman, so we could have continued sharing thoughts on our mutual love of horses. He would have passed away about a year after our correspondence started.

But kudos to my third grade teacher! What a wonderful thing for a kid to have experienced, and all because of her grand idea to write those initial letters, and take a chance that the publishing companies would forward them.

I had very few pictures to grace the walls of my very first apartment. I had a few antique prints in my bedroom of lovely ladies, that had belonged to my great grandmother (those same prints hang in my little cottage bedroom today). But the one that hung front and center in my apartment living room was the Anderson print (shown below) that I had purchased at a rummage sale when I was about 13 years old, and kept in my cedar chest in anticipation of having my first place.

For the life of me, I have no idea what became of that print after I moved from my apartment, which makes me sad! Even though I have a bazillion pictures now, I still keep my eyes peeled at rummage sales, estate sales, antique shows etc., for C. W. Anderson prints, because I would surely make room for one or two.

 

Thankfully, and happily, the summer after fourth grade I got my very own pony! She was a wiley little Shetland named Cinnamon that I loved with all my heart. For the first 3 months I had her, I knew better what the underside of her belly looked like than what her face looked like, as she spent the biggest portion of our time together schooling me! I was black and blue that whole summer, until I learned the ropes a bit, and was better able to stay on the top side of my steed. She was the first of 10 horses I've had in my life, each wonderful, and wholely loved.

So, if you have a horse crazy young person in your life, I recommend Mr. Anderson's books. I would think/hope they would still have his books at the public library.

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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Spring Time in the Rockies

This is a pretty time of year around these parts. The snow is just starting to come off the mountains because it's a bit warmer during the day, but there is still plenty of it to shine against our big blue skies on these early spring days. So, here's a little mountain photo overkill for you –

 

 

 

 

 

Big Spring storm rolling in

 

A hint of a rainbow

 

A meandering Yellowstone River, before the Spring run off

 

Everything greening up

 

 

 

Plenty of snow up there yet

 

There are lots of new baby calves on the ground, magpies building nests with zeal, bunnies chasing each other with abandon, robins feasting on big fat worms that are emerging, and shoots, blooms, and tiny green leaves unfolding at every turn. Yup, it's Spring time in the Rockies for sure!

TTFN,

Teresa 🙂

 

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Corners In My House

 

Living room

 

Living room

 

Family room

 

Living room

 

Cottage bedroom

 

Family room

 

Entry way

 

Upstairs bathroom

 

Kitchen

 

Master bedroom

 

Master bedroom

 

Kitchen

 

Laundry/Utility room

 

Laundry/Utility room

 

Cowboy/Indian bedroom

 

Cowboy/Indian bedroom

 

Family room

 

Living room

 

Dining room

 

Family room

Just a few pics of random corners throughout my house. Guess I better make myself useful and start dusting some of them…. 😉

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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Happy Birthday to my Honorary Irish Siamese Cat

She doesn't care if it's her birthday, she does not want her picture taken.

 

Born on St. Patrick's Day, pretty Miss Angel turned 18 years young today! My big little son (who was just my little son way back then) and I decided on a whim one day to go to the local shelter to pet and play with all the lonlies there. We walked in the door, and about 1 minute later were making arrangements to take home a beautiful little Siamese Mama cat and her one and only 2-day-old baby. They had been abandoned in an apartment by run away renters, and the landlord brought them to the shelter the day Angel was born, which was St. Paddy's Day.

She's always been on the reserved side (and just a tad bit grumpy), compared to her Mama who was talkative and a lot more interactive. As she's gotten older, she's less shy and less distant, but I think in part that's because she hasn't had her Mom to lean on (since Asia passed away a few years ago), and relies more on us for company.

She likes the poochies a lot, and they really like her, but these wild woollies are a bit too rambunctious at times for her to handle. Once in a while she takes it upon herself to discipline them, just a little. When they get in crazy mode and jump on her chair, she is forced to lean over and give them a good bite on the leg. They know then it's time to simmer down, and they let her get back to her all important snoozing. When they are being good mannered and calm, Angel is happy to have one or both of the doggies sit in the chair with her, snuggle up and relax.

 

 

She sleeps a lot these days, which is to be expected as she is a cat, and an ancient one to boot! But on occasion, when she's having a perky spell, we can still tempt her to play with a string, or she'll zip around and pretend scratch on furniture, or ask to go outside on a sunny day and make a lap around the yard. Then she'll settle back in her favorite chair, and resume napping.

I sure love the little thing, and feel blessed having had her in our lives for this good long stretch, and hope to have her around for a long time more! Happy Birthday my sweet Angel cat!

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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A New Cap for the Teslow

They've started the long journey forward with the restoration of the Teslow granary. If you look on my sidebar at categories, and click on granary, I have a couple of posts that will tell a bit of the story on the process of saving the old Teslow in our town. I borrowed a few pics from Facebook to show the placement of the new top on the building.

A construction company built the new roofing system on the ground, then hired the same crane company that moved our cabin, to hoist the new structure into place. That is no small feat in our town, where the wind blows at gale force 90% of the time.

Yikes that's a long way up!!

And there it is, all secure on it's new perch. Those guys at Montana Crane Company are a very talented lot. Also, the fellows working at OSM Construction surely had their work cut out for them with all measuring, cabling, stabilizing, etc. in preparation for the roof placement all those many stories up, up, up in the sky! So glad they are saving the old gal!

TTFN,

Teresa

 

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A Bright Spot in a Dreary Winter

This has been the craziest winter. The weather has been so cold and stormy, it seems like one day just blends into the next. Where usually that makes things feel like they are dragging, this year it is zipping by. I kind of feel like I'm sleep walking thru this season!

Anyway, one of the oldest projects on the honey-do list at my house has finally been completed, so thought I'd share! We remodeled the family room and kitchen about a year after we moved in here. That was a long time ago! For all the years since we finished, there has been no hearth mantle around the wood stove in our family room. I've begged, whined, and belly-ached for so long! I even shopped around trying to find something ready-made that I could slap up there on my own, but had no luck finding anything that would fit in the space. I do know how to use power tools, and I did take wood shop in high school, but I'm not brave enough to tackle a project that is a really prominent, and permanent fixture in the house. Something like that needs to not be done by an amateur, but by someone who is a craftsman. Bruce is more than capable of building a mantle, but it's that darn time thing again, and there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything he needs to do done. So, I told Mr. Bruce I was going to start searching for a carpenter to get the dang thing built and installed! As it turns out, we were lucky enough to have the perfect fellow agree to do the project. Mr. Z was a shop teacher when I was in high school. When school was out during the summers, he and a few other teachers would do carpentry projects, even house building. When Bruce moved here from Nebraska, he was fortunately hired by Mr. Z to be on their summer crew! They became great friends. Bruce worked for him off and on over many years, until finishing college and finally giving up carpentering for full time engineering.

Mr. Z is an extremely talented wood worker, but has all but given up the craft because he struggles with severe rheumatoid arthritis now. But Bruce pleaded, and thankfully Mr. Z consented! I would have settled for a simple 3 board, faux beam looking mantle just to have the project done, and not have that ugly, unfinished space showing anymore! But he came over to measure, and see what all it would entail, and he asked me what I would truly like to see up there. I showed him a quick sketch of the super simple 3 board method. He said “Now, if I'm going to take the time to do this, I want you to have what you really want!” Well, with a green light like that, I proceeded to pour my heart out! I told him how much I like arts&crafts/mission style, showed him a few pictures in some of my American Bungalow magazines, then drug out my stash ……

Several years ago I took an Adult Education pottery class our local high school was offering; 5 weeks, one evening per week. My Mom, my “other mother” Roxy, and myself, all signed up and were excited to go. Unfortunately, we had a “teacher” that was not interested in teaching. She said she was turning us loose to do whatever we felt was creative, and she would mentor us if we felt it was needed. :-/ Maybe some of the others in the class were familiar with pottery, but the 3 of us had never worked with clay before! So, we did the best we could with what we had – It wasn't too difficult for my Mom or Roxy because they are both extremely artistic, but I'm another story! Back to my good old American Bungalow for reference, and I managed to churn out 10 tiles, and several long faux branch tiles for a border. Our “teacher” did not take good care when she fired our clay works, and we ended up with all manner of round bottom rather than flat tiles, and other deformities on Mom and Roxy's projects. But it cost $100 to take that class, and I hoped I would someday be able to use my finished products, given that terrific cost.

So I pulled out my box of tiles, and worked with Mr. Z on incorporating them into the design. I chose 6 tiles to use, not wanting to overwhelm the woodworking, and he left with a plan.

A few weeks later, he came back with a beautiful, artfully done mantle; solid oak, stained a rich golden brown, and in the mission style that I love so much. He and Bruce carefully installed it. I could have jumped with joy! It was my job to place the tiles in the spaces he had designed to hold them. I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge since they were round bottomed and out of square from the firing mishap, and I was terrified of messing up that phenomenal mantle. I got some epoxy glue, and a tube of grout and went to town! I'm very happy with the finished product because of the wonderful woodworking, and it is such a relief to finally have it done! It's also nice to have a little offering from me built into the house, because this house sure owns a big chunk of my heart!

 

 

 

 

 

Now I just need to re-black the stove pipe, add a fresh coat of satin sealer to both the rocks and slate hearth, and it will all be fresh and finished! Makes me so happy when something can be checked off the mighty to-do list!

TTFN,

Teresa. 🙂

 

 

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A Good Old Fashioned Christmas

This is a pic of a painting by local artist David Swanson, borrowed from Facebook, of our town at Christmas time.

Merry Christmas, all! It feels like Christmases from years back around here, because we have had blizzard conditions in the last few weeks, just like when I was a kid.

Photo borrowed from Facebook.

The street crews were working round the clock for a few days because the wind was blowing so fiercely they couldn't keep any streets or roads clear.

 

We won the “lowest temp with windchill” game! It was wretched! I had never in my life had a “snow day” before last Monday, but they closed where I work, and kids weren't required to attend school if it was too difficult for them to get in.

Pic posted to Facebook by a local.

 

Another area pic posted to Facebook by a local.

 

This was at the beginning of the rough weather late last week. I took this photo as the deer came in to forage from the green waste pile at work, where it is easy pickins. A local brewery dumped their many bins of spent grain, and there were at least a dozen and a half deer having a smorgasbord there for several days. They just love it.

 

 

We all stayed snugly warm in the little scale house. Piper enjoyed watching the deer out the window, and Declan stayed all tucked in her blankies.

I didn't end up putting a lot of Christmas decorations out after all. The small storage room where I keep my holiday decorations is currently where all the more fragile, and non-mouse proof cabin goods are being kept. And there are bins upon bins stacked in there. I have beautiful Christmas stuff, and hate skipping a year of seeing it all, but it would have been plain old self abuse to try and man-handle all of that cabin gear to get to the decorations, to then man-handle all those tubs, boxes, and bins that hold the decorations. Then, in just a few short weeks, it would be time to go thru the whole process again to put it away. So, hopefully, next year the cabin will be finished enough to have all those tubs back where they belong at the little mountain house.

Here is what I did manage to scrounge up to add a little holiday cheer.

I kind of have a little “farmy” theme going here this year, because these do-dads were easily accessible. Santa and his jingle bell sheep, with a few pine trees, and an old plaid camp blanket.

Santa and his reindeer, just landed in the barnyard.

 

An old toy truck (from Bruce's boyhood), filled with bottle brush trees, and towing the cute little bird house trailer my Mom and Dad made me for Christmas a few years ago. (I will never put that sweet thing in the yard for the birds – selfish me……. Don't tell Santa shhhhhh.)

And the pretty antique deer family (that really belongs to my big little son, but I won't relinquish guardianship of them until he OWNS his own home, and I'm sure he couldn't give a hoot one way or another how long I keep them 🙂 ) nestled in a bed of pine boughs, with a deer shed antler candleholder. I have a few other things scattered here and there, but not much to speak of compared to what I usually put out. I will be grateful for such a small amount when the time comes to “un-decorate” because it will take about 1/8 the time it normally takes me.

We will all be going to the farm for Christmas dinner. My poor Mom keeps getting stuck hosting all the Holiday dinners, even tho I argue and try to get them to come to my house. I'm sure she thinks that each holiday we are upon may be the last one spent at the farm, because they are still in the process of trying to sell it. It is a heart wrenching experience, and they are finding that potential buyers can be very mean and demanding people. They love their farm with all their hearts; it's not just a piece of property to them. That makes the whole process even more difficult. So, we will make more good Christmas memories at the farm; eat, drink, and be merry!

Merry Christmas and Glad Tidings to you all!

TTFN,

Teresa 🙂

 

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