November 21, 2016

Ruffling Feathers

Our chickens are getting bigger all the time and have such funny personalities!  There are definitely pushy ones, loners, and instigators.  It's nice having the coop close to the house so we can be entertained. Their coloring is getting quite exotic now, and a couple of them look like they're wearing goat hair boots. ๐Ÿ  And yes, Malcolm does have them eating out of his hand - ha!

This is how they looked when we first got them. Can't wait to see what color the eggs are, but the money is on blue.  Malcolm set two fake eggs in the nesting boxes to try and encourage the activity, but we're still a little ways out with these relative babies.


The ducky girls are quite healthy and broad in the beam. They are also pushy, greedy, and messy, but still too cute. They also bless us with at least a dozen eggs a week - just the two of them! They started coming into the garden with me this fall, and it took them no time to find and devour countless slugs.  Now... if they just hadn't trampled my little pumpkins in the process! ๐ŸŽƒ Those webbed feet are more than a bit clumsy.



While clearing out the garden this fall, we threw a couple of whole Brussels sprouts stalks into the run and it was a mob scene.  Bird candy. The next day it was a bare stem. I love the way garden food goes from being our food, to chicken food, to our food again.  ๐Ÿณ

This past Friday, we helped some friends slaughter about 85 meat birds.  It was a lot of fun in spite of it being one of the coldest days we've had in a while. ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿƒ Here's Elya with some of her flock.
 

Their 7-year-old cutie pie was catching chickens like a boss!!
   

My hubby and Nathan manning the de-feathering machine. If you read the last blog, he's the guy who felled our trees. ๐ŸŒฒ
 
 
Here's part of the processing crew of family and friends.  Lots of laughter seasoned the tasks.  Doing purposeful, satisfying work - what better way to spend a day! ๐Ÿ‘Œ


November 16, 2016

An Awesome Autumn ๐Ÿ

One of the first fall rituals we enjoyed this year was visiting an apple orchard - this one near Bellingham, WA called Bellewood Acres.  We picked some of the most enormous apples we'd ever seen! These were Bellewood Prince variety.

The available golf carts that you got to wield around the rows made it even more fun, and that little view of Mt. Baker in the background didn't hurt a thing.  ๐Ÿ’™

 
We are blessed to belong to a wonderful food coop in Oak Harbor, run by our pastor's wife, Jenee - HLBC. Because we have access through her store to local, organic goodies, we've purchased and processed quite a bit of bulk produce this fall, including 40 lbs of apple culls - the not so pretty but still so tasty ones.  These went to applesauce and apple butter. Delicious. Since my husband helped me prep the apples, it was inevitable that the man tools made their way into the kitchen.  My poor sink!  But, I concede that these pliers were a pretty efficient way to remove the stems.
๐Ÿ˜ฃ ๐Ÿ˜›



Here's another delicious way to enjoy a fall apple crop - an apple Dutch Baby pancake. ๐ŸŽ This is a gluten-free version.  We made this with Teff flour, which is ground from a grain-like seed native to Ethiopia.  Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food?  It's served with a delectable, spongy kind of bread called enjera, which is made from Teff flour. We are new to gluten-free eating, but it's been a fun adventure!  Here's the recipe:

Apple Dutch Baby Pancake ๐ŸŽ
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ,cream, or I've used thick, homemade yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or use almond, orange, etc., using less of the stronger extracts
  • 1/4 cup Flour  - we use Teff or tapioca, but you could use regular flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus additional spices like nutmeg, ginger or whatever you like
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for the pan
  • 2 small apples - can also use pears, peaches, blueberries, or a combination
  • butter, maple syrup, honey, apple butter, whipped cream, you get the idea, for serving 
Preheat oven to 425ยบF (218ยบC). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or 13x9-inch glass pan. (I haven't tried this size pan.)

Blend or whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon and blend. Add melted butter and blend well.

Slice apples. Blend the batter once more. Pour into pan and arrange apple slices on top.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325ยบF (163ยบC) and cook for an additional 5–10 minutes, or until golden.

Remove from oven and serve immediately with  your favorite topping. Serves 2-4
Adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe.


This exhilarating view of Washington Pass was just one of the many highlights of our trip in early October with our friends Lonna and Brian (you've seen them in the Piggy post ๐Ÿท).  They shared some of their favorite places on the northern Cascadian Loop with us.
We took this picture of them...

And they took this shot of us...

But these shots of the gorgeous scenery were the best.

And the fellowship we enjoyed was even better than all this wonder. ๐Ÿ˜



This was another lovely autumn surprise - Whatcom Falls in Bellingham, WA - a thundering waterfall that is just a short stroll from the parking lot of this park.  A truly inspiring sight!  Our new friends, Dave and Karen, live near here and on the way back from showing us their house construction, they made this quick detour to share this special spot.  We plan to go back in the near future and hike the paths around this beauty.  Thanks guys!
๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ

He ranges the mountains as his pasture, and he searches after every green thing. Job 39:8

November 13, 2016

Timber

We had a tree cutting event at our house on Saturday!  Trees needed to come down so that we could have a little more sun on our garden, and to decrease a bit of  the threat of  trees falling where they aren't welcome. ๐ŸŒฒ  
  
These next two pictures are the before and after shots from the garden view.  They're a little hard to make out, but the difference is pretty dramatic, and Lord willing this spring we'll see the results of a sunnier garden. ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ’

We had some amazing people come to help us - all volunteers mind you.  Wow, did they work hard and the results were phenomenal.
  

This next scene... this was not so good.  The only heart stopping moment of the day. I can't bring myself to replay the details but let's just say it got real for a few seconds. And we can say with complete certainty that God protected them all.

Nathan was our tree feller and he is the man!

My hard working honey. ๐Ÿ’— We did have a few moments of sun, but we also had drizzle, rain, and unfortunately wind, which made for more challenging felling.

My husband rented a chipper to break down the limbs, and the trees were painstakingly cut into rounds for future firewood supply.  Our cooperative back-yard neighbor allowed us to drive the chipper over his property, as we had no other way of getting the chipper to the back of our property (our woods road is hopelessly blocked at the moment), and our neighbor also allowed us to fell the trees into his field.  In exchange he can help himself to the mulch that resulted, and perhaps a thank-you in the form of some freshly butchered pork will be coming his way. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ–




We enjoyed lunch with the crew after the razing was done - chili, cornbread, and applesauce.  Here's a shot of these lovely lumberjacks!  Counterclockwise - Bonnie, Ron, Nathan, Nick and Brian - we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


I had some nerdy fun making these goody bags as a small thank-you to our helpers.  It was chocolate bark candy embedded with ginger snaps, orange cranberries, and almonds.  Thank you Pinterest for the corny sentiment on the tags!

We have lived here for only one year, and the community that has surrounded us since the first days has been a thing of dreams.  We are grateful.
 “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis
 




November 9, 2016

Our Little Piggy Went to Market

Meet Pork and Beans. ๐Ÿ˜‹ Our friends have been raising these pigs since early this year, and one of them is ours - errrr was ours. Slaughter day was yesterday, and now we wait for our custom butcher order to be ready. Bacon...bacon, bacon. We're getting the hocks as well as some other more unusual parts so we can make tasty, rich, nourishing stocks and bone broths.  We'll also be getting lard to render - don't want any of this pig to go to waste!  I'm not going so far as making head cheese, so for those concerned that we've once again gone down a strange road with our lives, we do have a couple of limits left. ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ˜‰ Liver, jowls, and leaf lard are in this next pic.
But we're getting ahead of the story with this picture of parts - ha!   Andal's Custom Meats came to our friend's home with their mobile slaughtering unit and in no time had taken care of 2 cows and the 2 pigs.  Very efficient and fascinating to watch them work.  Not nearly as gory or messy as you might imagine.  These men were amazingly skilled and efficient- and funny. ๐Ÿ˜ Here are some shots of the process. First the cows.  Once they had the carcass cut up, we had a new visual for what it means when we buy a quarter of a cow. ๐Ÿฎ





Next were the piggies.  They were much quicker to process. Ours is on the right, in case you wondered!  And that white blob on the ground is the stomach, still full of grass and other goodies - kind of yuck I know, but also fascinating.



Next, we get to tell the butcher what cuts we want.  We were happy to find out that they use a minimal amount of preservatives in their bacon and ham.  It will be so nice to have this awesome pork in our freezer!  Thank you to the farmer for all the hard work to raise and spoil these animals for the last months. ♥


Here is the farmer and the farmer's wife. ๐Ÿ’Ÿ Aren't they cute?!

Oh, the ways we have been blessed since coming to this island! 

November 4, 2016

A Beautiful Farewell Journey - Part 1



Evelyn Morey Stevenson lived for 106 incredible years. ♥  In the photo here, she was riding in a carriage in her town’s  annual 4th of July parade.  She was 97, and the Grand Marshall. :) This October, we made the journey back to Iowa to attend her funeral and say our last goodbyes.  My grandmother was a truly marvelous lady.  She lived in Clearfield , IA for 102 of her 106 years.  Can you imagine?!  She was a quiet, sincere, talented, intelligent, hardworking, resourceful, content, and loving woman.  My Dad once said that he was sure his mother never made an enemy in her life.  She holds a very special place in my heart, and I have many precious memories of spending time with her each summer and Thanksgiving as a kid.  Later in life, my husband, daughter, and I would move back to Iowa for about 6 years, and one of the nicest benefits was making more memories with Grandma.  I’m so grateful to have had that extra time with her.  Her quiet smile and the twinkle in her eyes will live in my memory forever.

My husband and I made the choice to drive out to Iowa rather than flying, since it was such a beautiful time of year to see all that countryside.  We couldn’t have had more perfect weather and roads.  Our goal was to see a number of National Parks, Monuments, and Forests, plus get some stamps in my National Park Passport books.  If you’ve never heard of that program, I encourage you to check it out at - http://www.eparks.com/store/home/9221/Theme-Passport/   It’s a lot of fun and you’ll find out about a number of sites you might never hear of otherwise. This year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and there were special stamps at the “cancellation stations” to commemorate it.  A bonus for a passport geek.  As we enjoyed the miles of scenery, we also enjoyed listening to podcasts, picking up cowboy radio stations, and playing some old CD’s we found at home with classic radio station productions.  We kept our cooler full of good food and that allowed us to stop for picnics in some awesome spots.  There was also a lot of pulling over in somewhat precarious spots to get “that picture” that was just too perfect to pass by. All in all, it was a classic road trip.
 

Our departure was slightly delayed by a refinance closing on our house, which of course was scheduled for the day we wanted to hit the road.  Fortunately our closer got the message that we wanted to hurry along and miraculously we were out the door in 12 minutes!  With our lovely chicken/duck sitter lined up, our car organized to the hilt, and maps in hand, we launched the journey. We hadn't expected to see much fall color since it was a little late in the season, but from the very first miles we were treated to inspiring view after view.  As we drove south into OR, we started seeing Larch trees in beautiful yellow and gold colors.  A Larch is an interesting cross between conifer and deciduous trees and we had never seen any in the fall.  They were stunning!  Our first night was spent in Mitchell, OR so that we could get up bright and early to see the Painted Hills.

 
This park is part of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and is called one of Oregon’s 7 Wonders.  I’m anxious to know what the other six are now!  We got there and had our breakfast while watching the sunrise over these wondrous hills.  The layers of color are made up of ash, minerals, and vegetative materials.  The colors were also affected by how much moisture was around in the formation period of each layer.  These hills and layers contain a treasure trove of fossils as well.  One interesting side note is that this Nat’l Monument is gearing up for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.  They are anticipating huge crowds!  Apparently this site will give an extended view of the eclipse and they expect a two minute total black out.  Look at this link to see just how big this event will be for them - https://www.nps.gov/joda/planyourvisit/eclipse.htm   And btw, I think I really need the poster on this link ;)


 The sights on the way out of Painted Hills were fascinating too.  We just loved the columns formed on that hillside, and a quirkier site was this "shoe tree" - hee hee!  The sign near the bottom says "Here lies some old soles".  People are so playful. This picture was worth a quick u-turn!

Our next stop was a sobering one.



Minidoka National Historic Site, in Hagerman, ID  is one of 10 Japanese relocation camps developed during WWII.  This one has a tie to our home.  On Bainbridge Island, Wa is a memorial that is part of this National Historic Site.  The very first 200 Japanese were forced from their homes on Bainbridge after the enactment of Roosevelt’s Executive Order.  Soon, 7,000 people from Seattle, 2,300 from Oregon, and 200 from Alaska would join them at Minidoka.  This was a 33,000-acre site, with 600 buildings crowded onto 946 acres of that total.  At its peak population, it was the 7th largest “city” in Idaho.  It’s hard to fathom what these families experienced in this upheaval, but there is plenty to commend the way they chose to react – planting gardens for food and beauty, publishing a newspaper for the camp, holding dances and other social functions in the recreation hall, organizing churches, and even volunteering their labor in the community when vital crops were at risk.  I kept wondering if my response would have been this valiant.  The pictures are of the recreation hall and a root cellar they constructed in order to keep their food cooperative well stocked.  The memories of this strange and sad chapter in US history seemed to hang in the air and were quite surreal out in this desolate part of ID.

Part 2 of the journey below. :)