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Archive for April, 2012

Wayward Ducks

This morning, when our little one and I went for our walk, we noticed a duck on our sidewalk.  Our son is very interested in animals right now, so we walked in that direction.  After we watched her for a minute, I noticed that she was pacing around a storm drain.  We were quiet for a moment and then heard all the little quacks coming from below.  Sure enough, Momma Duck’s little ones had fallen into the drain.

I called our local police department who put me in contact with the Fish & Wildlife Commission.  When I called, I had a long and frustrating phone call with a woman who told me that IF someone could come out today, they’d try to get the ducklings out but she wasn’t sure if someone would be able to get here.  I called our police department back and told them the result of my FWC call.  The dispatcher, annoyed as I was, contacted the townships road crew who came out to help.

While I was waiting for their arrival, 2 of the ducklings found their way through the tiny drain tunnel to Momma.

Eventually, 5 others followed.  With 7 of her babies in tow, Momma left. 

But 4 still wanted to be rescued by the nice gentlemen who showed up. 

When we finally had to come back in for naptime, the road crew guys were walking around trying to find Momma to reunite the 4 wayward ducklings.

Warms my heart.

Happy Homesteading,

Kris

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Delaware Valley College is a small school nestled in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. With its roots based in agriculture and science, each year, during the last weekend in April, it pays homage to those roots with Agriculture Day (A-Day). This celebration has a fair-like atmosphere with horse shows, farm animal exhibitions, home grown fruits and vegetable stands, craft shows, hayrides and the like. Since our little one is fascinated with animals, we kept this weekend free and clear so we could attend.

Our first stop, admittedly after eating, was to visit the cows getting ready for an in-hand competition.  

Then our little one wanted to meet the piggies who were rooting around and napping. Quick question…does anyone know why their ears are clipped?

After a hayride, we pet some Belgian horses.

But Mommy’s favorite activity was a visit to the Stone Mill Rug Company booth. This father and son team makes stunning hand braided rugs and baskets.

For only $30.00, I purchased this beauty and put it to work in my living room.

We enjoyed ourselves and will be marking our calendar to attend next year’s A-Day.  

Happy Homesteading,

Kris

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Our seed potatoes sprouted plants overnight! 

We have 5 little sproutlets who are not quite 1 inch tall.

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Our first rosebud of the season.

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This weekend we had company for dinner.  I was excited to cook for our guests.  Unfortunately, during the week, our oven decided that it was going to operate at 500° regardless of the temperature I requested.  This came to my attention when it burned through my silicone mat in less than 7 minutes.  Since this is not the first issue that we have had with this range, we decided to cut our losses and purchase a new one.  However, it was not going to arrive in time for me to prepare our meal.  We had already planned to grill most of the fare, but I needed to come up with a dessert.  After racking my brain, I decided upon pudding. 

I love chocolate pudding.  However, I don’t love the ingredients in the boxes of cook & serve pudding mix.  Don’t even get me started on the ingredients in the instant pudding mix!  So, to fulfill my pudding desires, I turn to homemade.  Surprise, surprise.

Many recipes for homemade pudding use lots of cornstarch.  But this little gem uses flour as the thickener.  As I’m not a huge fan of high fructose corn syrups kissing cousin, cornstarch, this recipe is perfect for me.

Also, I’ll be honest, since this recipe contains eggs, it technically would be considered a custard.  Tomato, tomahto.  Regardless of its official title, it’s delicious.

Ingredients:

¾ c. sugar

¼ c. flour

1/3 c. cocoa powder

2 2/3 c. milk

4 egg yolks – beaten

1 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a saucepan. 

Stir in milk.  Whisk over medium heat until bubbly.  Cook and stir for 2 more minutes.

Remove from heat.  Temper egg yolks by slowly stirring 1 cup of chocolate mixture into beaten yolks.

Return egg mixture to saucepan and return to heat.  While stirring, bring to a gentle boil.

Cook and stir for 2 more minutes.

Remove from heat.  Add butter and vanilla.  Stir to combine.

Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill.

When it comes time to serve, I say go big.  A dollop of fresh whipped cream and a grating of chocolate.  Yum.

Happy Homesteading,

Kris

Tips & Tricks:

Hershey Special Dark Cocoa is fantastic in this recipe.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens The New Cookbook (1999)

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Spoiler Alert:  While I’m not divulging any plot secrets, you may not want to read this entry if you have plans of reading the books or seeing the movies. 

Jon and I read The Hunger Games trilogy a few weeks ago.  I know we’re behind the times.  I have to say, despite my initial reluctance, I thoroughly enjoyed the books.  They were a great combination of light reading and make-you-think books.  One of the most frequent things it made me think about?  I wouldn’t last more than 48 hours in the arena and that’s if I got lucky.  Really lucky.  Like my district was Hogwarts and my token was an invisibility cloak lucky.  Wait, I’m mixing up my teen fiction…

So, I started pondering the skills of these tributes.  These skills are valuable for survival, or preparedness or even every day living.  And it came to my attention that we are lacking them.

Sure.  I could walk across the arena in one day.  I’m sure I could.  However, I would need a rest the next day.  No doubt about it.  And I certainly couldn’t climb a tree for that rest. 

I would have no problem eating the various nuts, berries and plants that were indigenous to the region.  I would, however, have to pick them up at the arena’s local farm stand. 

I could tie knots for snares and other such things as long as they rely on the half hitch, square and Celtic heart knots.  Celtic heart knot.  These people, while fictional, are using knots for survival and I spend 30 minutes on youtube learning the Celtic heart knot.  Eye roll here.

The long and short of it is these are useful skills to have.  And we don’t have them.  So, I’m setting forth a goal, nay, a to-do list for our family. 

1.  Walking across the arena – They say you should walk 10,000 steps a day.  I know that we fall short of that nearly every day.  TO-DO LIST: Walk 70,000 steps a week.

2.  Eating from the arena – We should start to learn how to identify our local flora and know what is edible and not.  My grandfather was fantastic with that.  Anytime we’d go on a walk, he’d find a snack.  At a bare minimum, we’d be sucking on mint leaves.  Sound familiar?  TO-DO LIST:  Learn to identify at least 1 “useful” plant a week.

3.  Tying knots in the arena – Knots are just plain useful.  My eagle scout father taught me tons of knots when I was younger but I haven’t kept them in practice.  Jon has no official knot experience with the exception of shoe tying.  Sorry honey.  TO-DO LIST: Learn and master 2 knots a month.

So, there it is, folks.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.  Thank you, Hunger Games.

Happy Homesteading,

Kris

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Today I found myself with a surplus of bananas.  Correction.  A surplus of overripe bananas, perfect for banana bread.  I decided to bake a loaf and freeze the remaining bananas for another baking day. 

When I freeze overripe bananas, I just plunk them in a freezer bag.  They don’t come out looking like the prettiest fruit you’ve ever seen, but they work beautifully.

When the desire for banana bread calls, I let two whole bananas thaw, cut off the end and squeeze the fruit out. 

But on to the banana bread recipe…

Ingredients:

2 c. flour

1 c. sugar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ c. butter

2 eggs

2 bananas – mashed

1/3 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Melt butter.  Use the wrapper to grease a bread pan. 

Stir sugar into melted butter.  Add two eggs and stir until well combined. 

Add mashed bananas.  Stir.

Add baking soda, salt and flour.  Stir until the dry ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour in buttermilk and stir until combined.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake at 350° for 60 to 65 minutes.

Let it cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan.

Happy Homesteading,

Kris

Tips & Tricks:

If you don’t have buttermilk, combine 1/3 c. milk with 1 tsp. vinegar.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.

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