There were several definite blessings yesterday. #1: This is THE week I really wanted Chessie bred, as if she takes from this time, which we’re praying for, she’ll go dry the week Chrissie calves and we won’t be without milk. #2: Gayle was home yesterday; he rarely has a day off, and I could not have done the job myself. #3: The calf should be a good dual-purpose calf, good for meat if a bull and milk if a heifer. Wonder what a black-and-white Belted Galloway/brown Jersey cross calf will look like?
Gayle has been hauling our year’s supply of hay today. Some dear friends of ours here got their hay baled today, and Gayle brought home ten big bales–each one is about a ton! He brought them one at a time on our little truck, then stacked them in a small shed here. Hopefully this will be enough for all the animals for the year!
I made bread today–but forgot all about it. By the time I found it this afternoon, it had overraised and there wasn’t enough time left to raise it and bake it today, anyway. So, I rolled it out and made pita bread–of sorts. Some pieces are more like crackers. Yummy!
I don’t very often fix a snack for the children, but today I was inspired to make not one but two! For an afternoon snack, I took a cup and a half or so of ricotta cheese that was in the fridge, and mixed in a bit of salt and some oregano and basil, then spread it on crackers. That was quite popular!
After supper and clean-up, I made some quick milkshakes. I filled the food processor about half full of sliced frozen bananas, then covered them with milk and added a bit of vanilla and a pinch of salt, and ran the processor until it was smooth and thick. I spooned it into tea cups and everyone enjoyed the treat!
Our raised beds are growing beautifully! We’ve had a cool, wet early summer so far, and the lettuce is gorgeous. We’re eating huge salads twice a day. The herbs are doing well in their tires, too.
I am not one to plan a wonderful birthday party, but Seth turned 12 today and we had a small party for him. He got to have a friend over for the night last night, and another friend’s mother brought her children for a couple of hours this morning and then took the first friend home with her so his dad could pick him up. I had imagined that the boys would spend their time playing outside–but it started raining this morning! They were out for about half an hour, but then came in. We had to quickly think up inside games for a group–not my forte, either! They ended up playing Musical Chairs, and then Elephant Stop, which is a fun variation of Blindman’s Bluff. After that, they each made an individual pizza, and while the pizzas were baking they played Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I learned how not to do that! I had printed out a donkey, on four sheets of paper, and they felt the edge of the paper. Then, they felt each other’s tails and used them as a reference point to put their own on. I decided that it would have been better to trace the donkey onto a larger sheet of paper, and then draw the tails on with pencil or marker–have to make it more challenging for my crew! They seemed to have fun, though.
This has been another normal, interesting week. The “mud” in the title comes from Wednesday evening, when the three youngest boys slipped outside after supper when I wasn’t watching. They went into the garden, which they had been told before supper not to do, and played in the mud. I’m sure it was fun–but what a mess! I didn’t get a picture of it, but it looked worse than this one from Michigan two and a half years ago! This time, they were coated from head to toe in thick, sticky clay! Because they had disobeyed, and because they knew beforehand what the penalty is for getting muddy, I had no compunctions about hosing them down with a cold-water hose. I had to hose and rub with my hands to get the quarter inch of clay mud off their clothes, then had them take off their clothes, and hosed them again, and then sent them to the bathroom to finish off with a cold shower! And it wasn’t a warm evening. They all decided they don’t want that again. While the youngest watched the other two getting cleaned up first, his lip stuck out farther and farther as he considered his coming fate.
One warm evening, the kitchen door was open, and Ginger came along to see what we were doing.
I spent a couple of days this week sorting clothing. Does this look anything like a secondhand shop? or a garage sale? We’ve been blessed with lots of hand-me-down clothes for the boys!
One day this week the sun shone! I did lots of laundry (and it all got dry!) and we weeded the strawberry bed. We found a number of ripe strawberries. Yumm! We have to get them quickly or the slugs eat them.
We went to Gore Bay for a baptism this afternoon, and when I mentioned we wanted a family picture, one of the ladies there offered to help take one. It took quite a few tries to get one with everyone’s eyes open, and this is the best.
So there you have it–several tiny glimpses into our week. It was a good one!
My boys are having fun this morning as a result of my failure! I made bread yesterday–and had the worst flop in probably 12 or 13 years. The bread rose a little in the warmer drawer in the stove, then cooked on top because the oven was running, then fell. I baked it anyway, but ended up with little flat bricks. The boys cut them open this morning and hollowed them out, then tried floating their “boats”. Good way to soak the crusts for the chickens! I’m going to turn the insides they hollowed out into bread crumbs, so we won’t entirely lose the batch of bread–and I’m making a new batch today.
I finished making a batch of Corn Crunch this morning, and thought maybe some of you would like to know about it. I do not buy cold cereal. It costs too much and is not good for you, as far as I’m concerned. (One of my favorite stories is about the scientist in the 1960s who did an experiment with rats and cornflakes. He had three groups of rats; one he fed rat chow as a control; one got cornflakes; and one got the box the cornflakes came in. The group that ate cornflakes sickened and died before the group that ate the box died of malnutrition.) Corn Crunch is one of our favorites, and one that I feel good about feeding my children.
Mix: 1 quart buttermilk or mixture of yogurt and milk
3 cups cornmeal (I grind popcorn)
4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
Let it set overnight. Next day, mix in:
1 cup sweetener of your choice
2 teaspoons soda
2 teaspoons salt
Spread on two ungreased cookie sheets and bake 15-20 minutes at 350°F. Let cool enough to handle. Crumble a bit and grind in food processor or blender. Return to cookie sheet and toast in oven till nearly dry, stirring often. It will finish drying the last tiny bit after you take it out.
We had a spur-of-the-moment picnic at the ocean tonight. I threw together a quick casserole by baking sausages and cutting them into little pieces, then mixing in a couple of cans of baked beans and topping it with leftover mashed potatoes, while Elijah made Ants on a Log (celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins) and Esther cut up fruit. Then, while the casserole baked, we milked quickly and then left. The children had great fun digging in the sand, while Gayle and I got to be by ourselves and walk down the beach to the rocky cliffs at the other end. What a lovely end to the day!
This week has been very full, and I haven’t had any great inspirations for a good post, so here’s a quick look through some pictures Esther took throughout the week.
Sunday morning was a beautiful morning to drive to church–but apparently eggs are not a good choice for Sunday morning breakfast. I’ve been watching what we eat and how the children react in terms of carsickness (quite an issue when you go through the Hundalees and along the coast!), and the two weeks lately that we’ve had eggs we’ve had a lot of complaints about upset tummies. The week in between, when we had granola, no one complained. Anyway, this time the youngest got sick, for the first time, and got you-know-what all over his shirt, pants, and car seat. We pulled off immediately and cleaned up while the children enjoyed the ocean. What we didn’t get a picture of was Daddy down at the water, rinsing out the shirt and pants when an extra-large wave drenched him!
Sunday evening after we got home, one boy asked to look up how to make a slingshot, on YouTube. A magpie has been terrorizing the boys, and drew blood on one the day before–he came in with his hand pressed against his head, and blood streaming down his forehead. It seems to be a juvenile magpie, just having fun. (The juvenile delinquent of the bird world?) So, my boys are out to protect their family from this terrorist and a slingshot seemed to be a halfway decent idea. This was what he came up with, and we had the materials on hand (milk bottle top and balloon; he added duct tape to secure the balloon later):
Monday was a gorgeous day, and my photographer got some beautiful shots of the animals and the views from around the house. This is our landlord’s paddock of wheat and corners of some of our raised beds.
Tuesday we went to Christchurch for Dead Boring (homeschool writing group). The younger children were playing at making a garden in the afternoon. All five of my boys are in this group–can you pick them out?
The family who hosted DB this time live across the street from the Avon River–still beautiful in most places even if sewage gets in it now! The water level seems a lot higher than before the February earthquake; if I understand right, the bed of the river was pushed up.
We drove through a section of town that I hadn’t been in since a week before the February quake. Although a lot has been cleaned up, the destruction is still incredible. It seems like all the older, beautiful buildings are gone or going, and only the newer, less pretty ones are left. So sad.
…And we were glad to get back home again to our peaceful spot in the country, far away from the quakes and the city!
The roses are blooming! With 40 bushes around the house, and most of them different varieties, we enjoy quite the array of colors.
While I was in town on Tuesday, I bought 30 kilograms of carrots. I wanted to bottle 20 kg of them for quick additions to soups, so Wednesday I had the boys peel and chop while I read to them. They did about half that day. The next day, they got started on the remaining carrots before I even suggested it, and before I knew what was happening they were finished–with no story to listen to! They were racing to see who could peel and chop five the quickest. My boys are growing up.
Friday we went back to Christchurch because Gayle had a series of appointments with medical professionals to get a paper saying that he does not have tuberculosis. Hopefully now our permanent residency visa will go through.
So there you have it–the partial story of our week! I am very thankful that I don’t have to go to town very often, let alone twice in a week! Glad to have it over with, but I’m also glad we were able to go and attend Dead Boring, get the medical work done, and we even got to have a date while we were there (a dear friend kept the children for a few hours!). It was also good to be able to stock up on groceries and get fresh produce that we can’t afford up here (I spent nearly $200 on produce this week–but hadn’t bought much of any for six weeks.)