Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fog, Ice, Snow...the beginnings of a country life

Wahoo! Access to the Internet ROCKS!
Unfortunately, I only have access right now because I'm in the city for a bit today. (Ha! I said "the city", just like Jim teased me I would.)

Last night, I was suffering all the typical symptoms of Internet withdrawal: shaking hands, palpitating heart, dry mouth, extreme grouchiness...(kidding). I do feel extremely cut off, though, and I'm really missing reading all my favorite Blogs. Hopefully, by the end of the week, we will have a solution of some sort in place and I'll be able to post (and read) from home again.

Having no t.v. and no Internet these last few days, especially during the crazy weather we've been having, has been a very isolating feeling!

Since I don't have much time, today's post is a brief photo documentary of the last few days:

Waking up in a new home - a foggy first morning:

Here's my broken fence...with my son, Aidan, and Roxy surveying the damage:

Ice covered everything, then, for the next two days:

And then came the snow:

New deer faces:

Then it all melted. And woke up to another 5" this morning:

I feel like we're living in a mountain cabin!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back, but only for a moment

I have time for just a brief update today, as I'm only momentarily in a location that has an Internet connection. I'm not sure when we'll be "hooked up" at the new house (or with what), so I may be offline for a while. But...here's my update:

I'm SO happy! We have an incredible new home. We're completely finished with the moving part and now the fun begins: unpacking! It has been a crazy few days with virtually no down time. We're all a bit bleary-eyed but it's a happy bleary. :-)

Adding to the excitement, the weather is giving us a good show. We have already experienced a small ice storm (I've got some gorgeous pictures to share of that!) and a snow storm is supposed to roll in tonight that might leave us with 4" to 6" of snow.

My son walked the property this morning and found that a tree from the neighboring property had fallen on our electric fence. Dang! Of course, my husband's and son's eyes glowed with excitement at the thought of "firin' up the ol' chainsaw"!

Animals we have seen so far: Steller's Jays, Robins, House Sparrows, and a deer.

Hopefully next time I post, I will be able share some pictures.

Thank you to everyone who has left a fun comment or wished us a happy move. You are a very kind-hearted bunch!!

Until next time,
FarmGirl Danni

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Moving Day

This is it. Today's the day. See you on the other side. :-)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


1/23/08 update on our move: Sleep deprivation has set in. Jim and I are getting, maybe, 5 or so hours of sleep each night and it's catching up to us. Last night, it was about 11:20pm when we both independently realized we were doing stupid stuff. I slipped and fell down the stairs. Jim kept trying to fit something into a box that was clearly never going to fit. We looked at each other and said "time to stop".

On the plus side, we have gotten a tremendous amount done. Every room in my house looks like this currently:

I do want to mention, for this next photo, that Jim and I have gotten almost all of our packing boxes for free by borrowing from friends and...visiting the liquor store. Our new neighbors are going to think we have a problem...(or want to party with us!)

What's disturbing is that there is STILL more to pack. To my unrested brain, the garage and the attic have manifested themselves into hideously evil places that refill themselves with more random junk each time I feel like I'm almost packed. (I also hear cackling laughter each time I go into either of those rooms, but I'm hoping that's just in my head.)

We did, however, manage to overcome our weariness this morning, when, for the first time since November, we drove out to our new house. It was sunny and the sky was an absolutely brilliantly clear blue. It was also only 22 degrees out! The former-owner met us there and handed over the house keys.
We are officially farm-dwelling, country property owners!
This is really what the title of my post today should have been. But I'm so damn tired, I didn't think of it until just now. :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Satellite Internet Service?

Oh dear.

Of course, I've known about this for while....but it didn't dissuade me, not even for a moment. I couldn't wait to get out of the city. I recognized that there would be changes - big ones, but some (one in particular) I kept pushing to the back of my mind. Every time it tried to make it's way to the forefront of my mind and nag me a bit, I'd just suppress it with a shake of my head. I kept telling myself that we'd figure it out when the time came and, hey, just how bad could it be?

Well, the time has come. In five days we will be losing our cable Internet connection (usually lightning quick) and moving over to satellite Internet.

Normally, I'm pretty good with change...even change that brings with it a bit of a challenge. In this case, however, this may just be the straw that tests my flexible, little back. My anxiousness stems from the fact that I am hearing only awful things about this type of Internet service. Clearly, I am a personality oxymoron: country girl who likes her technology. Can the two exist peacefully (and successfully) together?

Here are, for example, a few of the things that concern me about Satellite Internet:

1. Much slower - Basically, an exchange of information follows the following route: Access request to a website must travel to a satellite, come back to earth to find the server with the content, deliver the content back up to the satellite, and, finally, return it all the way back to the requesting computer (in this case, mine) - total distance: 88,0000 miles. Um, yeah...that may take a while.
2. Temperamental in weather - I've read that in stormy or snowy weather, it flat-out ceases to function. True story: my realtor recently had to climb onto his roof to sweep the snow off his dish with a broom so he could receive an email of mine.
3. Costly to install, costly to maintain - I've read $150 to $200 for installation. And then, a minimum of $60/mo for the service.
4. Huge ugly dish required on top of your house - No further comment really necessary here. :-(
5. Quota limit on usage, aka FAP (Fair Access Policy) that slows service to a crawl or ceases service entirely if a household's quota has been exceeded through downloads - You're kidding! Really? I might get shut down for doing too much of what I do a lot of?
6. Need for a clear view of the southern sky. If you’ve got big trees surrounding your house, you’re in trouble. - We're in trouble. We have no clear view of the southern sky because of all those big trees surrounding our property.

So, there it is. An actual "moving-from-a-high-speed-plugged-in-world-to-a much-slower-way-of-life" anecdote that I described in my original blog description a couple months back. "Suck it up", I say to myself. "You're going to be waaaay too busy being a chicken-mom, painting the goat house, growing a garden, learning how to can, making lovely soap, and just plain being a Farm Girl to spend time blogging on your laptop anyway." Riiiiiight. (Note to self: I hear that many libraries offer wireless service...I need to confirm this.)

Do any of you happen to have satellite service who are willing to shed some light (or possibly soothe my worried brow) on what else I can expect?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Earth Bread: the Recipe

Happy Saturday! I've had a number of very kind requests for the recipe to the Earth Bread I have mentioned in my 11/26/07 and 1/17/08 posts. I've been meaning to post this since November, but you know how intentions are sometimes. Anyway, here is the recipe if you're interested in trying it out:

Earth Bread*

Yield: 2 to 3 loaves or 12 to 15 rolls

3 Tbs sugar
2/3 cup warm water
2 pkgs active dry yeast
2 cups milk
4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tbs butter or oil
4 cups unbleached bread flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups quick oatmeal, uncooked
2 cups cooked cracked wheat (1 cup raw) -->recipe for cooking it at bottom
1/2 cup sesame seeds

In a small bowl, combine 3 Tbs sugar, warm water and yeast; let stand 10 minutes.

Scald milk and add salt, 1/3 cup sugar and butter or oil; let cool and place in a large bowl. Add unbleached bread flour, whole wheat flour, uncooked oatmeal, cooked cracked wheat and sesame seeds. Pour in yeast and mix to a stiff dough.
Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes**. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size.

Place on a floured board and divide into 2 or 3 portions*** (depending on the size desired), and shape into round flat loaves.

Place in well-oiled 10 or 12-inch round plans****. Brush tops of loaves with oil or butter. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Bake at 375 degrees until golden and loaves start pulling way from the sides of the pan*****.

A few of my comments on the above recipe:
*My whole-grain-phobic teenage son *loves* this bread - this makes me very happy.
**10 minutes feels like a really long time when you're doing this by hand, but it's worth it.
***I tend to experiment with size and shape and always make a combination of loaves and rolls with each batch.
****I bake loaves and rolls on flat cookie sheets and have never used the 10 or 12-inch round pans recommended.
*****I can tell the loaves are done when they are golden and sound hollow when you thump them.

This bread is yummy as toast, too.

Recipe for cooking the cracked wheat:
Stir 1 cup cracked wheat into 2 cups rapidly boiling water. Reduce heat. Cook 15-18 minutes, stir occasionally.

I really love the cookbook this recipe came out of, too: Savor the Flavor of Oregon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A belated "Thank You"

I've been delinquent in thanking a new blogging friend, Celine, who was kind enough to recently feature pictures on her blog that I took of the non-profit farm sanctuary that is near and dear to my heart.

Celine is an accomplished photographer who posts gorgeous photos she has taken on her blog, Stayton (Oregon) Daily Photo. She also occasionally hosts guest photographers and, two weeks ago, featured the Lighthouse Farm Animal Sanctuary. Thank you, Celine. Every time I have the opportunity to spread the word about this beautiful place, I am so thankful!!

You can see Celine's post (and my photos) on the Lighthouse Farm Animal Sanctuary here.

Please take an extended look at Celine's blog if you have the opportunity. She does a fabulous job of capturing small town life and the beauty of Oregon. Her descriptions are full of humor and she has a great eye for finding some very striking images.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This kitchen has baked its last

....at least for me, it has.

Today, all my baking supplies have been boxed up and are about to be sealed tight and marked in big, black letters: "BAKING ITEMS".

I'm feeling pretty nostalgic about things these last few days. Many happy meals, treats, cakes and memories have been made in this very white kitchen-'o-mine.

Spicy Italian Sausage Pasta Bake: (recipe adapted from Judy @ >NoFearEntertaining)

Mmmmm....Earth bread:

Sour cream chocolate cheesecake:

A holiday yule log:

Many, many birthday cakes (some rather unusual):

But here's to many new meals and memories at our new place. One week from today is moving day...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yesterday and today

Yesterday afternoon, after picking up the mail, I took a trip around my yard and was excited to find friendly, little signs of spring beginning to pop up.

My pretty grape hyacinth are returning:

The daffodils are starting to grow:

And my giant, pink hyacinth is poking its head up:

It has been warmer over the last week, with temperatures in the high 40's during the day, so this is helping all the early bloomers along.

I didn't think to check the weather report last night, though. This morning, I woke to crunchy ice crystals covering everything outside.

I was as tickled at this as I was at the signs of spring yesterday! Everything looks fresh and pretty and it smells so good outside.

Roxy had to take a look at the icy stuff, too:

I'm guess I'm an equal opportunity weather appreciator right now.
Sunshine? Love it. Rainstorm? Sure thing. How about a bit of snow and ice? You betcha!!

Ask me again in June, though, when the other states begin having their summery, sunny days and it's been raining here in Oregon for three straight months. I probably won't be as pleasant. Though, I will probably still be posting pictures about it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Brought it right to my door, he did...

Just like my new farm friend, goatgirl, posted a few days back, I, too, now have a new book to read. Look what my mailman delivered to me today:

Originally, my plan was to check this book out from the library, but, silly me, when I went to get it, found I was 357th (I kid you not) on the waiting list to check it out. (Such is the power of word of mouth about a good book!) Being a bit of the impatient sort, and due to the many positive comments and recommendations I've read on so many blogs, I just couldn't wait that long. And so, a New Year's treat was delivered straight to my front door.

Picture me smiling. :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

For Christy: we share similar dreams

My apologies for the lengthier nature of this particular post. I had a lot to say today :-)...

Having been a city girl for so long has, apparently, made me a bit of a skeptic. Being really new to the blogging world, I'm actually surprised daily by all the online (and no-strings-attached) kindness that I encounter. Fellow bloggers are quick to reach out, post helpful and funny comments, present "awards", etc. It's wonderful.

What happens a bit less frequently, however, is finding a blog that touches you personally. Finding a blog where the words used, or a picture posted, strikes a chord within you because it's close to your own heart is startling. This happened to me today. A blogger who reached out to me this morning, Christy, is making a journey very similar to mine. She has been planning her own move to a farm for what feels like forever to her. Her posts describe many of her dreams, struggles, and challenges in frank and honest words. In one of her efforts to manifest this dream of hers, she posted a picture today of a miniature toy farm that she and her family have been setting up. It's as if focusing on these little representations can keep her dream alive when no other movement seems to be happening. Christy's blog touched me because this feels quite familiar to me. I know what it feels like to want to change your life so badly you can taste it, while at the same time fearing that it will never happen.

And although the specific details of our two lives are different, my own internal journey has been very similar to Christy's. Whenever my spirits dipped or my dream felt exceptionally remote, I would find myself reaching for some tangible sign - anything at times - that we could still make this move happen. The things I chose to be my "tangible representations" appeared in many different forms.

Many may find this silly or have a hard time understanding, but I've found that when you want something desperately, often it is the small things and private thoughts that allow you to feel like you're moving forward, even if all other evidence indicates your dreams have stalled. Even if that small thing is a toy or a magazine clipping or a silver charm found on the pavement in the shape of a cowboy boot. I'm a true believer in thinking things into reality. It is that desire and positive energy that makes incredible things happen.

After reading Christy's post today and being so affected by that one simple picture, I went through my photo files and found some of the small things I have relied upon during low times over the years to help me feel like my farm dreams weren't disappearing:

I started keeping a ceramic rooster named "Mike" in the rabbit hutch in our urban backyard over three years ago. He makes me smile:

I began collecting reading material (and decorative objects) on a subject I had been obsessing over:

I started saving old advertisements on farm trucks and farm life:

I requested all my friends and neighbors to stop recycling their empty egg cartons and start saving them for my future eggs:

I began photographing farm tools and accessories that I wanted to have once we had a piece of land:

I played with toys...
Wooden animals from East Germany stood on the sill over my sink:

And Playmobil farm critters were arranged just so:

And my son and I began volunteering at a farm sanctuary, the Lighthouse Farm Animal Sanctuary, where we have learned much about gently raising healthy farm animals and living the rural life:

Of course, like for Christy, there have been many low moments for me along the way. There have been times when I was 100% certain that I would never have the opportunity to really become a "farm girl". Along the way, my dream has refined and reshaped itself many times. And now that our move to the country is really about to happen, I find myself still trying to figure out what the HECK I am really going to do once I'm there. Yet the desire to move to the land has never once waned or changed. The yearning to have a place where I can live with many animals just keeps growing.

Please check out Christy's blog, Farm Dreams, if you get a chance. Her goals for 2008 have her doing an incredible number of cool things that I will be interested in reading about and, if I'm brave, possibly attempting myself. Among these things are...learning to dehydrate food, making soap, experimenting with herbal remedies, learning to can, and hatching eggs with an incubator.

Good luck, Christy! I truly know what you're going through. May 2008 be the year your ultimate dream comes true. :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You can't wrap breakables in online news...

And so, the countdown begins. The final details of our move were locked down yesterday. Closing dates on both houses have been set, the mover has been scheduled. We've got two weeks. It's time for me to get a serious start on packing.

I started out strong this morning, taping the bottoms of boxes, identifying which cupboard I would begin to pack first, and then, as I reached for the first item, a glass serving tray, I noticed a problem. I had nothing to wrap it in. That old reliable, reusable newspaper pile was conspicuously absent from my packing materials. During our last move, nine years ago, this was never a problem. We had tons of it. However, we don't get our news this way anymore. Long ago, we became members of the ever-growing group of I.N.R.'s (Internet News Readers). The occasional Sunday New York Times we get for a lazy-day-in-bed treat (seems like a while since we had one of those)gets recycled the very next day with the garbage pick-up.

And so, all my good intentions for today are momentarily stalled as I sit here and decide what to do next. I know, I thought to myself, I'll blog about it!

So what's a girl to do? Neighbors are all at work - no luck there. If you happened to see my earlier post about paper towels (yes, I actually wrote an entire post about them), you'll know that it is not even a remote option for me to use those. I've given the garage a serious once-over for potential glassware protection - nothing there. Can't use our cloth towels, we still need them. Am I seriously supposed to go out and buy $10 worth of today's paper?

A better idea yet, I'm thinking, is to make a cup of tea, curl up with the new blanket my mom knitted me (oh, and my dog, apparently, who inserted herself just before I snapped this picture), and read my new library books...