The Internet is for Cat Photos

I think Dave thinks I spend too much time on Facebook trolling for cat media. I don’t know if he realizes how much time I spend taking photos of our own cats. Since I am not done with part two of my descent into meat eating, may I placate you with some cat photos? If you follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook, you have probably seen these. Some are heavily edited to make my house seem cleaner than it is. Some are untouched, letting it all hang out.

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This is my first time using the WordPress app. If I successfully manage to upload this, I’ll be shocked. That is also to say, I have no control over the format of these photos.

18 Years. Down the drain.

Some of you know, I am a vegetarian. Was a vegetarian. I say “was” because in the last two weeks, I have had three bites of three different types of animals. All of these animals came from our farm* so I felt OK with the ethics of eating them. They lived a good life. They died a dignified death. (Since I’m thinking about it, put that on my tombstone, please: “She lived a good life, she died a dignified death.”) And I also really, really wanted to use the Le Creuset cocotte that my supremely-talented-at-gift-giving husband got me for Christmas. I was really, really excited about the Le Creuset.

*Technically, one was just passing through the farm, on her way back to her deer family.

So what magical creatures drew me out of 18 years of vegetarianism? In order: rabbit, deer, goat. Yeah, pretty much the three cutest animals on a farm. This is further proof that my heart is black and shriveled. Really though, we raise the rabbits for dog meat. They are fast growers and take very little to get a lot of high quality meat. They are pretty much the perfect homesteader’s meat. If, that is, you can get past their adorable little faces. The goat was also bought as dog food. We brought him home as a little guy and raised him into a strapping young buck. Then just before he turned in to a jerk (as all billy goats do) we killed him. I named him Meat, just in case anyone questioned his fate. It could have been worse. I could have named him Sue. The ghost of Johnny Cash just rolled his eyes.

The rabbit is what started it all. Cpt. Morgan, who is living with us while learning French for the Army and I *PAUSE* This is going to get confusing if you don’t read the post I wrote about her last year. This is not a sign of my alcoholism; it’s her legit name. There are other signs of my alcoholism. Hiccup *UNPAUSE* were at the rabbit killer’s farm getting the rabbits slaughtered when the rabbit killer convinced Cpt. Morgan (can we call her Toni? We’re going to call her Toni) that she had to try the rabbit. Toni was very excited about the idea of eating our home raised meat. She might also have been suffering a severe protein deficiency after her first two weeks with us. I’ll be honest; I was pretty excited about cooking a rabbit. I enjoy cooking. I had recently been reading Jacques Pepin’s memoir, which had in it, aunt’s rabbit recipe. It sounded like the type of hearty, French provincial fare I dream of. Those French country dwellers really know how to cook. So I agreed to have one of the rabbit’s slaughtered for human consumption.

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We waited the requisite three days for the meat to relax, then set out to turn our little friend into braised rabbit en cocotte with mustard sauce. The recipe came from The Apprentice, by Jacques Pepin. I’m not going to put the recipe down here. I don’t want his publishers to sue me. There are several recipes in the book, though it’s not a cookbook. It’s a fun memoir and I highly recommend you buy it, if only for the rabbit recipe. Basically, it’s rabbit braised, cooked to falling off the bone tenderness, in white wine, then finished with a cream and Dijon sauce. Run, don’t walk, to Amazon, right now. We did a couple of things differently than the recipe. First, I wasn’t sure if I was going to eat any rabbit so we attempted to make the stuffing separately. This was facilitated by the smaller Le Creuset casoulet Dave got me, with my larger cocotte. You like how I keep throwing that in there? My Le Creuset. MY Le Creuset. I’ve wanted one for the longest time, I just couldn’t bring myself to shell out the bucks and I definitely didn’t expect one (two!) for Christmas this year. Anyway, the world’s best bakeware couldn’t save the stuffing. We burned the living bejeezus out of it. We tried to save it by adding more water and drinking more wine. It sort of worked. But the rabbit was a whole different matter. It was brilliantly. If you cook, you know how terrifying it can be to try a new recipe, especially if you have never actually eaten the main component of the recipe. Everything with the rabbit was like cooking in a fantasy, Food Network show. It browned perfectly. I added way too much wine but better too much than not enough wine. The vegetable were cooking exactly on schedule, in the same pot as the rabbit, and looked lovely in the Le Creuset. Come on. You knew I had to say it again. I was in the zone. We had Brussels sprouts as a side. Below, you may oogle the dishes as they cook.

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Yes, that is my Le Creuset. Have you heard about it? I got it for Christmas.

End of this part of the story: The rabbit was delicious. Rabbit is all white meat, which makes it like the tofu of the animal world. It tasted like Dijon and cream. I love Dijon mustard and feel that Dijon will make any dish better, especially if the Dijon is stone ground, with huge mustard seeds!

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Since this is a really long story, we still have two more animals to go through, and I have a short attention span, I am going to pause for the evening and finish the rest of this story tomorrow. Or the next day. Definitely this year, unlike the last story about digging up Sheldon’s head, in which all the photos for that were on Dave’s computer that died, so you will never see the end of the story. I know, always an excuse. Just subscribe to the blog, so you don’t have to check in and get disappointed. Or just check back the day after tomorrow to get the rest of the story, disappointment free.

2013 Tomato Seedling List

I’m a bad blogger. I know. You know that too though. I’ll be posting again as soon as I have the energy. Lately, We’ve been working on potting up our 1000 seedlings. Yeah. I know I have issues. These seedlings are now for sale for $3 each. If you click on the list below, you will be able to see my excel spreadsheet with my carefully chosen varieties. I specifically chose many of these varieties to do well in the bay area climate and a few are great for container gardening. Everything is 100% organic. If I made any money at this, I would certify them as such but I don’t so I won’t. On a side note, these are the nicest seedlings I have ever grown. I made some changes to how I start seedlings this year and I think I will end up with an even better crop. I’m excited to see what the final product is like. If you would like some seedlings, call me 831-566-3425.

Please? I really need to get rid of some of these.  -Marsha

2013 Seedling List

P.S. I also have a handful of eggplant, peppers, melons (specially chosen for coastal climates) and squash but I don’t have a list for them. You will have to trust me when I say, they are going to be awesome.

Teaser

I’m working on some things but to keep you interested, here is a taste of what’s coming up:

Can you guess who this belongs to? If you were party to this adventure (that’s you kids) don’t give it away!

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Task List and the Cabinet Connundrum

Warning: I cover a lot of ground in this post. Sorry for the disjointed, free association. Consider it a snap shot of my brain.

Yesterday, our list of stuff to do looked like this:

Orchard:

  • Prune fruit trees
  • Fertilize
  • Plant cover crop

 

Animals:

  • Build new goat birthing shelter and enclosure
  • Electrify chicken coop for protection against predators
  • Fix horse electric fence (damn goats don’t mind electric fence)
  • Chicken duplex roof and nesting boxes need new shingles
  • Build stands for bee boxes
    • Ant proof bee stands

 

Garden of Good and Evil:

  • Amend garden beds
    • Add compost
    • Plant cover crop
    • Fix garden plumbing after pipes froze and burst
    • Fix greenhouse panels after wind knocked them out
    • Expand blueberry cages so chickens can’t keep eating the plants
    • Trellis raspberries
    • Plant garlic (better late than never) (Dave wanted me to say, better late than pregnant. I told him no but I’m doing it anyway because I love him and his odd sense of humor.)

 

I got exactly one of those items done. We can cross off fix horse electric fence. So what exactly did I do all day? Mostly, I drove around on the tractor. Blame Dave. I was all set to toil, and I did for a while. Then he asked if I would box scrape the back road and…well, that’s where my day ended. Playing on the tractor is a giant, enjoyable time suck. Yes, I could make a case that I was doing something useful but the case is weak. Driving the tractor was not on my list. I did help Dave move some rubber mats into the old horse’s dinner stall, using the tractor. That wasn’t on the list but it should have been. His stall had become a soupy mess. In my defense, I figured I would ride the tractor all day and on Sunday (now today) I would do all the garden stuff.

Procrastination - procrastination Photo

Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow? Alas, the short rain shower that was predicted yesterday, turned into an all night and most of the morning downpour. Now the garden is too wet to work in, without risking compaction. This is what I get for procrastinating.

Since it’s too wet to play outside, I will be self flagellating, forcing myself to suffer a fate worse than death and put together our order for kitchen cabinets. We’re getting a quote for ready to assemble cabinets, made in the USA but I have to figure out what exactly, we need. I was up until 2am looking at their literature but the options are endless and I eventually fried my brain. Today, I’ll tackle the task again, with a freshly caffeinated mind and some graph paper. If you think I freaked out over choosing pendant lights for the counter space, you should see me in action trying to choose a PERMANENT fixture. A while back, we went to the “Giant Not Orange Home Store” and had them do a CAD drawing of our kitchen cabinets, so I’m cheating and using that as the base for our quote. I figure the Not Orange Home Store takes enough of our money, loaning us one of their underpaid kitchen designers for an hour should be one of the perks of patronage. Not Orange Home Store didn’t have as many options though, so some things will have to be changed. If you are just dying to know what the Not Orange Home Store came up with, I have posted the pictures below. Feel free to offer up some thoughts. I’m not stoked on the awkward corner by the fridge, I think it will be replaces with an appliance garage and I find the design in the kitchen to be lacking in aesthetic appeal.

The floor plan

The floor plan

Cabinet breakdown around fridge

Cabinet breakdown around fridge

MILLER 5

Cabinet breakdown around sink

Cabinet breakdown around sink

MILLER 6

Cabinet breakdown around bay window

Cabinet breakdown around bay window

I don’t have the CAD rendering for that last area around the bay window, which is a shame because that’s the only area I really like. You can kind of get an idea from the cabinet breakdown. Not Orange Home Store didn’t have very many options for this area but The Cabinet Joint, where we getting a quote has some pretty nifty options. This area will have glass/chicken wire upper cabinets for storing the china and other pretty things, a wine/beverage fridge (this will free up an entire fridge shelf), liquor cabinet/barware storage, filing cabinets for all the paperwork which inevitably ends up on the kitchen table (if you can’t beat it, fix it with a better storage solution), storage for the lap tops and printer which lives on the table, and some really high cupboards for those items which only come out once a year but are still important enough to keep, like the nice linens and vases for fresh flowers (though I keep vowing to make those a regular thing.) This will all be topped off with an aged copper counter that tops the lower cupboards and the bottom of the bay window, which can be used as a bar area, buffet or seat during parties. I’m pretty excited about this area, though to be honest, if we run out of money, this is the last thing that will get done. Isn’t that always the way it goes?

Wish me luck as I build my quote. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, send the men in white coats because I’ve lost my mind. You’ll find me on the tractor.

Morning In the Mouth of Madness

I’ve been sick. I don’t have that horror flu that makes you like you’re a character in that movie, “In the Mouth of Madness“, I only had a cold but it has sucked away my energy. This morning I was intending to sleep in. First I woke up to the dog yelping excitedly. I looked out the bedroom and saw the goat at the french doors. I decided to ignore it, (goats do weird things) yelled at the dog and went back to sleep. Then I woke up to the dog barking her big girl bark. I looked out my door and saw our neighbor’s sister standing in the front yard. I shuffled to the front door (maybe now I looked like a character from In the Mouth of Madness) and she apologized saying she was driving by and saw the goat on the front steps eating a 25 lb bag of carrots. Well of course. This stuff only happens when I’m trying to sleep in. I thanked her for chasing off the goat and took the now 20 lb bag of carrots in the house. I was about to go back to bed when I remembered I forgot the phone meeting I have every Friday at 9am. Oops. I’ll have to call my boss in a while and grovel but decide to call my work partner first and see what happened. We were chatting about my upcoming trip to 19 degree weather when the handy-guy pulls up. I forgot he was going to sand the drywall today. Why not, I was done resting anyway. I was just helping him tape up the plastic that will hopefully keep the drywall dust from infiltrating every part of our life when the UPS freight truck pulls up. Now I know, there is no chance of going back to sleep. The UPS guys was dropping off 1300 lbs of fencing materials which will be our new pasture soon. I had to move the cars so he could turn around in the driveway. I finally retreated to my room to rest. As I write, the dog and I are hiding the bedroom. She’s here because she’s scared of the orbital sander, I’m here because I hate the drywall dust. I suppose I should just give it up and go work in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Here’s hoping you have a peaceful day.

Who Moved My Cheese?

This is not a parable about affecting change in the business world. This is a tragic tale about the mysterious disappearance of my cheese. Let us begin at the beginning, where all things begin.

I found a clandestine dealer of raw cows milk. OK, maybe she’s not that clandestine. I found her on Craigslist. She’s pretty cool. Down to earth, has some meat rabbits and goats. She wears a Carhartt jacket, which gives her farm cred. She made me sign a bunch of forms informing me that raw cow’s milk is not for human consumption and if I were to drink it or feed it to my family, fiery asteroids would rain down on me and if I survived that, I would be charged with endangering my children in a federal court. And they would televise it on Court TV, a fate worse than death. Now every week, I go and fetch a gallon or two of the best tasting milk my family has ever had. Her cow is a Jersey so the cream takes up a full two inches of the jar. Even I tried a few swallows and I don’t generally like milk.

Having all this milk in the house has inspired me to make some cheese. I started with mozzarella and quickly decided that wasn’t enough. In the classic fashion of an easily bored, overachieving slacker, I wanted to make something better, right now, without practicing. So I decided to make Monterey Jack with a kit I got from Mountain Feed, the place where many of my harebrained schemes are hatched. It was easy. Time consuming but easy. The bad ass stove (BAS) has a habit of heating things too quickly so I had to watch it every second. For three hours I toiled. I broke one thermometer but as a former assistant to a Cub Scout leader, I had a spare. (Cub Scouts? Long horrific tale about the time my former Eagle Scout father insisted I be the broken arm victim during the Cub Scout meeting so the troop could practice splinting my arm. I was so shy and it was so awful. Excuse me, I have to call my counselor now.) After the three hours it takes to cook said cheese, I strained it into the cheese cloth and pressed it into the mold. For the next 12 hours I monitored the cheese, increasing the weight of the press as directed. When ready, I removed the cheese, placing it in a 54 degree room to begin drying. This is where the crime happened. The cheese, swaddled in its cloth, was dry but I didn’t have time to wax it. (This is not a process of removing hair. It’s the process of coating the cheese in that lovely wax which protects it for the duration of its curing.) Doing the best I could, I wrapped it in Saran wrap in order to stop it from further drying out and set it back in the baking pan and covered it with a metal colander, which in my mind was as good as putting a little suit of armor upon its cheesy goodness.

Last night, just two, short days later it was gone. I shrieked. I gnashed my teeth. I pulled at my hair. I demanded a search but we all knew the criminal was among us. One of our own. Normally, Hamish is suspect number one but in this case, I didn’t believe he was actually capable of moving a whole wheel of cheese. There was only one creature who would eat the whole thing. No. Not Dave. Chaos. Baaaaaaad dog.

At that point, I became concerned that there was no Saran wrap to be found. She appeared a little bloated but certainly not uncomfortable. Then I wondered if she had eaten the cheese and already…um…passed the plastic? That seemed unlikely knowing how much plastic wrap was around the wheel of cheese. I vowed to monitor her for the next 12 hours. I had an acquaintance whose dog ate a diamond and they followed it around for weeks, searching through its poo to no avail. I am not going to be that person. Either there’s plastic wrap in there or there’s not. With that said, I did get up twice last night to check on her and make sure she wasn’t showing any symptoms of shock. She was not. She looked bright eyes and bushy-tailed. The picture of a well fed dutch shepherd. So who ate the plastic wrap then?

Tonight, 24 hours after the crime was discovered, the crime was solved. As I was preparing dinner, Hamish started his post litter box happy dance, which starts with a victory lap around the house, followed by some line backer leaps to the side and usually finishes with a climb up the back of the couch. It’s rather convenient that he gives us this warning because by the time he’s done, the smell starts to waft through the house. The smell of the rotting insides of a hairless cat. I don’t know what makes him smell that bad but the song “Smelly Cat” might have been written for him. I rushed to the litter box with my gloves and my plastic bad and what to my wonder did I find but this:

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That dear reader is half of my wheel of cheese and all of the plastic wrap. Why it’s in the litter box is beyond me. Perhaps someone is saving it for later. In retrospect, it explains why she has been more into the litter box than normal. For the last two days she has had litter caked on her nose. Just on the part she can’t lick off.

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The moral of the story? “Hide thine cheese well for hound and hairless cat are circling your cellar.” Or maybe, “Cheese without protection will end in the litter box.” Or, “Dog are gross. Really, really gross.”

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