Monthly Archives: September 2010

An Equine Weekend

It felt good to be back on the trail again yesterday.  It’s a lovely time of year to be out riding, with all the autumn yellows and reds and oranges dotting the wooded trails.

Saturday we spent the day at the big semi-annual horse auction over at the Isabella County Fairgrounds.  It’s a huge event for both Amish and English.  The driving horses went for good prices, but the riding horse prices were way down.  I was very surprised to see a great many ponies.  Usually there are only a scant few, and often ill-trained.  Some very steady, dependable-looking mounts went for only a few hundred dollars, with the top selling riding horse going for a mere $1800.  Yes, fall prices are typically lower, but I haven’t seen them this low yet.

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Autumn Apples and Miss Laaa-aacy, Ma’am!

This is Lacy.  She belongs to Whispering Hope Ranch.  They’re letting us borrow her for awhile, and they have our halflinger, Sophie.  I’ll tell you a little more further down!

<Contented Siiiigh>  Cecily asked me to go riding with her this afternoon. It was so lovely.  I haven’t been riding more than once since my mother’s surgery in mid-July. It was a busy and stressful end to summer, and now it’s been a busy schoolyear these four weeks.  I love the new curriculum. (The Prairie Primer which I am doing with Danny, grade 5 and Betsy, grade 3.)  In fact, I’m sorry there’s not another one available for me to do with the kids next year.  It’s really, really delightful!  But it’s also made me very, very busy.  We have an hour more of school, and somehow it manages to stretch out even longer sometimes.  There are so many things I want to do, so many things I should do.  And until I can manage the time more efficiently, I just can’t do as much.

Today I purposed to can applesauce, and so betook myself to do it before lunchtime.  We had some lovely, hot, homemade applesauce with our lunch, but after lunch, as I was preparing to actually can the second batch – I managed to burn it.  Rrrgh.  I didn’t bother to can it, but put it in pint storage containers and put it into the deep freeze downstairs.  We’d eaten half the first batch with not enough left to do ought with but to store it in the fridge to eat tomorrow!

There are still 1 1/2 of the oversized bags of apples left.  We want homemade cider and more applesauce.  I suppose I will get to that in the next half week or so, but there is much going on.  I’ve finally sold the horse trailer!  Hooray!!!  At the last possible moment, too, for I was set to haul it to Yoder Brothers auction at the Isabella County fairgrounds tomorrow.  The auction is Saturday, but tomorrow is the day to take it and get it registered and all that.  Nevertheless, a woman downstate is buying it to haul goats and ponies.  I’m going to that very same town tomorrow anyway, so I shall haul it right down to her.  It saves me considerable time and she’s even throwing in an extra $25 for the delivery!  How’s that!  God is good.  All the time!

The apples come in big 25 lb. bags, intended for people to “not” bait deer with, according to DNR rules.  What other purpose the apples are sold in deer hunting country, at the gas stations, alongside big bags of sugarbeets, corn and carrots, is only to be guessed at.  But we buy them to preserve and to feed to the horses.  I also got a 25 lb. bag of carrots.  I think I ought to get a couple more bags of carrots and apples before it freezes and they become no good anymore.  One day we will have all the apples we want from our own orchard.  In meantime we store them down cellar, can them, and turn them into Cider.

It is funny that we are going to the Apple Orchard/Cider Mill for a school field trip tomorrow.  It being homeschool and all, we really get to pick our own field trips, but this one was put together by a friend of ours, and frankly, though we have our own orchard and make our own cider (unpasteurized cider is the only cider as far as I’m concerned), I’m more interested in a.) getting to see how it is all done commercially, and b.) the fun of being with friends for the afternoon, eating apples and doughnuts and drinking cider (unless of course it is pasteurized and so has that tinny taste which I dislike – then it will be water for me).

Our trail ride this afternoon was really the cat’s pajamas.  I’ve been so full of malaise since I returned home from Ohio a month ago when I was almost immediately launched into the new school year, that I have not ridden nor trained at all.  Poor, poor Saxton has been growing fat and lazy (after having lost too much weight, certainly, while I was gone and others were taking care of him).  He really likes to work, he does.  It may seem silly, but there are days when I am certain he asks me, “Can’t we ride and learn new things today?”  He just looks at me that way.  And he is never so satisfied as when he is learning some new thing.  But that is Saxton.

The three younger children and I went riding.  Danny doubled up on Spur with Cecily.  Betsy rode Lacy, the new Arabian mare we have on loan from The Ranch.  She is 29 years old, petite and sweet, and she loves little girls.  Frankly,  I’ve fallen head over heels for her.  There is something extremely precious in a horse that even a little girl can safely ride.  I know that because I’ve had enough horses that weren’t safe enough for my little girl.  And this sweet mare, while quite an expensive keeper, is worth her weight in Senior Feed Pellets!  LOL!  Betsy was able to ride her out on the trail entirely by herself.  Next time we’ll let Betsy double up and Danny can ride Lacy, if he wants.  It’s not fun to always be the one to double!

A busy, busy next several days.  Hopefully next week will be less crowded, as I’d like to get some pictures, including the new lean-to I talked about.

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Filed under Garden and Orchard, Home, Horses, School At Home, The Country Kitchen

Kringla Tea

Yesterday afternoon we had, with our tea, homemade Almond Kringla.  If you are unfamiliar with this Scandinavian delicacy, you owe yourself the favor of making it.  I first became interested in trying Swedish baking whilst reading “Papa’s Wife” by Thyra Ferra Bjorn when my children were much smaller than they are now.  I was unimpressed with the great number of fish dishes that dot Swedish cooking so liberally, as I don’t care for seafood much.  Although coconut shrimp – that I can eat!  So I opted for a Swedish baked good, and loving almond, it wasn’t too difficult to decide which recipe to try.  We have since made and enjoyed it from time to time, and have been delighted with the version found in the bakery in Epcot’s World Showcase.

I took the notion to make a kringla again a number of days ago, and finally grabbed the cookbook this morning.  We finished school a mite early, so I had purposed to begin making the almond pastry … when Cecily sweetly whisked away the cookbook and began dumping and stirring and cutting in butter.  I had to be quick on my toes to even get to help!  So I boiled the butter/water/flour mixture which comprises the second layer, on the stove, while she deftly patted the bottom layer into a flat oval on the baking sheet.  That was all she let me do!  LOL!  My twelve year old has a passion for baking.  Can you tell yet?  Well, she comes by it honestly.  I had no one teach me to cook, but wanted to learn, I taught myself to bake by reading cookbooks at just about Cecily’s age.  Granted, she has been baking since she was six, so she has a far larger repertoire now than I did at that age.  Cookies and brownies was about the breadth of my whole scope until I took a cooking class in high school.  She finished it off with the almond glaze and toasted sliced almonds when it was done baking and we saved it for afternoon tea.

The kringla was lovely!  We only ever make one about every couple years, though I don’t know why.  They are delicious, and not terribly difficult, though they do take nearly an hour to bake.  Still … not terribly hard.  I may suspect that the reason for their scarcity has something more to do, rather, with their lack of chocolate.  There are many good treats which contain no chocolate, but still and all, I will choose one with chocolate 10 to 1.  So I guess I’ve answered my own wondering.  But the Almond Kringla was such a nice treat, and just the right thing to inaugurate the return of autumn and our hot afternoon teas.

We’ve had several frosts now here at Aspendale.  It won’t be long before we must worry about the ground freezing, for there are preparations to be made and the garden to be put to bed for the winter.  We have one more batch of tomatoes sitting on the counter, waiting for the hour in which to dice and can.  There are a few things yet to be gathered in, and the decision to be made about whether to completely relocate the vegetable garden and the everbearing strawberry bed.  <Sigh>  I’d rather not, thank you very much.  Making a garden is hard work.  Moving one is not an enticing prospect.  It means hauling yards and yards and yards of manure and building raised beds with landcape timbers, and trying to mow around it.  But the decision will have to be made, with consequences either way.

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Filed under Home, The Country Kitchen

Goodness! Ro – DEE – Oh!

The annual rodeo in McBain, Michigan is a big deal in many ways.  The contestants make their way up to our little corner of nowhere from Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Canada, and from places across the Great Lakes region.  They are mostly top 15 contenders from the IPRA (International Professional Rodeo Association).  The purse is big enough to draw some good contestants.

It’s always amazing to me to see those fellas sit the broncs, jump off their horse onto a calf, grab his horns, and pull him to the ground, manage to rope a calf perfectly – horns and back feet, and the bullriding!  Oh my!  The gals do well, too, racing into the arena and around the barrels, then streaking back out as fast as they can.  I don’t think there’s an event there I’d care to do (excepting maybe the barrel race … at a trot! LOL!) – but I love to watch it!

I’ve been having quite a time trying to figure out how to post photos, and have missed many great opportunities to share some fun things over the last month or so with everyone, and I’m sorry for that.  Seems there’s often a glitch or two at homesteadblogger – at least for me.  But I’m not terribly tech saavy, so that may just be my problem.  I apologize for the absence!

On another note, just this week we had the lean-to on our barn rebuilt.  It had been poorly built to begin with, by the original owner, and the roof had fallen in under the weight of a heavy snow a year and a half ago at Christmas.  We haven’t had the funds to tackle it until now, so we let it sit.

From the time we first moved in, I’ve been disappointed that our big barn is just a plain, ugly ol’ metal pole barn.  Nothing interesting in the least about it.  It’s too close to the house, set at an odd angle, and very, very boring!  If you’ve been following my blog at all, or know me personally, you may have picked up a certain quirk in my personality…  aesthetics are *very* important to me.  I am deeply affected by the aesthetics of things – for good or ill.  I didn’t choose to be so, but I am.  So having this ugly ol’ thing right outside the large, view encompassing bank of windows right in the main area of the house, has been a constant downer.  “Couldn’t we at least paint the barn red with white trim?” I would ask my husband.  No.  He wouldn’t have it at all.  Sigh.

But I’ll tell you what, the lean-to, which hitherto had only lent further ugliness to a very plain, utilitarian looking barn, with it’s spindly legs and flapping, torn tarp sidewalls, was torn down and carted away.  Then the magic began.  It may seem utterly silly to you, but a couple of guys – nay, craftsman, put their hands to the task and built the most beautiful, big porch off the side of the big barn.  I know, I know.  Technically it’s still a lean-to.  But it’s big and beautiful, and full of character.  It looks like an old west corral front porch kind of thing.

This new lean-to has totally transformed the look of that once plain, ugly building.  I can’t even mind the plain color now (though admittedly, red with white trim would still make my heart sing!).

I was not expecting anything but another utilitarian roof propped up on posts off the side of an ugly barn.  It’s beauty and character is a simple blessing.  But oh, how my God does bless me.  Over and over he shows in little, unexpected ways just how he does care for me, and I am awed by it.  God is good.  All the time!


Filed under Farm, Home