Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Shot Him an Elk When He Was Only Nine


Warning: Dead animal photo ahead. 

An interesting thing about the state of New Mexico is that there is no minimum hunting age. And that is why nine-year-old Cubby--who completed his hunter education course just this spring--was able to enter his own name in for the elk draw this year. And draw a tag for a mature bull elk in a hunting area about two hours from here.

Now. Some things you should know about this place where he got his tag. It is a mountain. It is a high mountain. It is a high, remote, cold mountain with no road going up it.

The prospect of taking a nine-year-old hunting on a mountain in October on a hunt that would require camping, hiking several miles, and packing out hundreds of pounds of meat in the event of Cubby actually shooting an elk would probably seem ridiculous to most men.

Luckily for Cubby, his father is not most men. A. was all, "He drew for that mountain, and he's going to hunt that mountain."

On a positive note, more than one person told A. that that area is the best for elk in the entire state, and because A. and Cubby were planning on hiking in about five miles, they were unlikely to see any other hunters.

They scouted the mountain a couple of weeks ago and found that our Honda won't go to the top of the track that goes part of the way up, so that meant that they would have to hike in from fairly far down. And since they were going to be camping up there, that meant they had to carry all their gear on their backs all the way.

Because it was dry the weekend of the hunt, A. decided to do without a tent. But because it was cold--well below freezing--he brought two sleeping bags for Cubby and one for him, plus wool blankets. His pack was incredibly heavy just with the bedding, ammunition, and other sundry things. That meant that Cubby carried all the food in his pack.

They hiked in six miles to their first campsite.


See those two teeny tiny peaks way in the distance? They went to the top of the one on the right. Insane.

Luckily for them, my brother--who is also an experienced hunter--was able to fly into Albuquerque and meet them at the mountain for the hunt. I felt much better having another adult there, just in case, and A. felt a lot better having another adult there to help him pack out the meat, just in case. Also, my brother took all the photos.


Like this cool one with the moon in the background.

It was a strenuous, physical hunt, with a lot of hiking and stalking and crawling around in the underbrush. They camped out for two nights and hunted all day Saturday with no success. But first thing Sunday morning . . .


Victory.

Cubby shot that elk right through the heart, a perfect shot, from 35 yards away.

Then the real fun began, as A. gutted, skinned, and boned out the meat at high speed so he and my brother could pack it all the way back to the car. They carried their own packs with all the gear they packed in, along with a game bag of meat weighing approximately one hundred pounds. Each. Five miles.

Do you know how brutal that is? So brutal. And Cubby carried the elk's rack on his own pack, which is a not-insignificant weight when you only weigh 70 pounds yourself.

They made it, though, and we now have about a thousand dollars worth of meat in our freezer and one very, very proud young hunter.

Maybe not as dramatic as Davy Crockett's bear when he was only three, but pretty damn good for nine years old.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Food: MREs and More


Friday

Short version: Frozen mozzarella sticks with the laziest marinara ever, leftover Italian stew meat, raw tomatoes, roasted cabbage, brownies

Long version: I made this meal for only the children and me, because A. and his friend were planning on camping during his elk hunt*. The mozzarella sticks were part of the box of food Ray left for us a couple of months ago. They were pretty gross, but a fun novelty for the children, who had never had them before.

The laziest marinara sauce ever was four chopped plum tomatoes A. got at the store that were going bad, garlic powder, dried oregano and basil, and a bit of vinegar and olive oil. It was the laziest ever because I put it in a Pyrex dish and microwaved it together before mashing it with a fork. You know, it really wasn't bad. And one must have marinara sauce with mozzarella sticks. Even gross ones.

I made the brownies even though it wasn't a Sunday/dessert day because it had been raining all day and the kids were all mad that A. was hunting without them, and well, do I really need a reason to make brownies? Not really.

Poppy helped.


With a gravitas perhaps inappropriate to brownie-making.


Until we got to the licking-the-beater part. Then she was allll smiles.

Saturday

Short version: Beef, garlic bread, mashed pumpkin, tomato and cucumber salad

Long version: The beef was a big rump roast that I cooked in the morning, then shredded and fried in sheep tallow with garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. My standard operating procedure with large chunks of meat these days.

The pumpkin was one of our mediocre ones, but they are conveniently accessible in our backyard rather than sixty miles away, and free, so that makes up for any lack in taste.

I served this food to A. and his friend when they got home from an unsuccessful day of hunting at 9 p.m. A.'s friend said the garlic bread was the best bread he'd ever had in his life. I always think this myself when I eat it, but it's nice to have it confirmed by an unbiased eater.

While I was cooking, the children were entertaining themselves with the large bag of pistachios in the shell that Rafael gave us.



Why is it that "entertainment" for children is so often synonymous with "making a godawful mess"?

Sunday

Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, oven fries, leftover pumpkin, vegetable melange

Long version: I had one small zucchini left from Rafael, one small onion, about a dozen green beans from the failing green bean forest, and a few small tomatoes, plus a clove of garlic. Calling it a melange sounds much fancier than "random vegetables."

Monday

Short version: Disgusting MREs, leftover taco meat, tortillas and cheese, leftover hamburgers, leftover mashed pumpkin, cucumber slices

Long version: We got home even later than on a normal Monday, thanks to the first 4-H meeting of the year. I decided it was a good night for leftovers and MREs.

A.'s friend who came to hunt with him is a Marine, and he brought some MREs ("Meal Ready to Eat"--given to soldiers when they're out somewhere without a mess hall) with him. The children were fascinated by these, of course, so he left a few for them. The packets have all these little packs of things like protein bars, crackers, and gross "cheese spread," as well as an entree that can be heated with this little chemically-heated packet that goes right inside the plastic pouch that contains it all.

The funniest thing about MREs is they take 15-20 minutes to heat up that way, so I actually had food on the table for the non-MRE eaters (me, Poppy, A., and Charlie) before the MREs were ready.

Cubby and Jack elected to try the "chicken with tomatoes and feta" meal, which came with "cornbread stuffing," and actually tasted remarkably like a Lean Cuisine meal. I do not consider that a compliment.

They both gave up on it after a few bites and instead had some leftover hamburgers.

Tuesday

Short version: Pork chops, mashed potatoes, tomato salad, roasted bell pepper and onion

Long version: The pork chops were those weird "country ribs." I had to cut some of them to make them thinner. I just roasted them with a spice rub, and they were fine.

Wednesday

Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, fried potatoes, frozen green peas, leftover mashed pumpkin

Long version: Yes, we just had cheeseburgers on Sunday. But it's the fastest way to cook ground beef, and Wednesday is a work day for me, so cheeseburgers it is again!

I made extra boiled potatoes Tuesday night and fried them in the leftover pork fat from the pork chops with lots of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. So good.

Thursday

Short version: Beef and green chile soup, scrambled eggs, bread and butter, tomato salad

Long version: A. used most of a beef rump roast to make beef jerky, and I used the bony pieces that were left to make beef stock. I also cooked some pinto beans, so when the stock was done, I made soup with it by adding sauteed onions and garlic, carrots, celery, the beef I pulled off the bone, the beans, potatoes, and some of my frozen green chiles.

It was very tasty, but a little bit too spicy for me.

This was the day before a hard freeze--very hard--so I spent some time during the day harvesting all the tomatoes. I had a little help.


And when I say "help," I am not referring to the puppies, who kept hopping that fence and trampling all over the tomatoes and licking the children. Not helpful.

We also harvested the rest of the squash:


With which we created a Festive Fall Arrangement in A.'s shop. 

Last we pulled up the basil plants and made one more batch of pesto for later. I saved a few leaves for the tomato salad. The last fresh basil until next summer. A slightly melancholy moment, as always.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

* They ended up coming home late to sleep in the house, though, because it had been raining all day and they were soaking wet and it was about 50 degrees outside. Good call.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Obligatory Pumpkin Patch Post


It's that time of year! The time of year when the Internet is awash with photos of children wearing sweaters and being all adorable in pumpkin patches.

I have a contribution to that category this year.

Poppy and I went to the pumpkin patch today and she picked out her very own pumpkin.


She was quite pleased with herself.

You will note that my toddler+pumpkin photo is not actually in a pumpkin patch. That's because the patch is the backyard under my clothesline, which is currently riddled with gopher holes and decoratively accented with dying green bean plants.

How festively autumnal.

Actually I don't have a picture in the pumpkin patch because I didn't have the camera with me when Poppy and I went out to water my newly transplanted sprouting broccoli and took a detour to pull a pumpkin off a dead vine.

It was quite a heavy pumpkin, but Poppy insisted on carrying it inside by herself to show Daddy. Which is when I actually got the photos of her with it, in my chair in the corner of the living room.


All smiles with her pumpkin.

The smiles turned to tears when I had to confiscate the pumpkin because she was sure it was a toy and kept carrying it around and dropping it. Since I do actually want to eat these pumpkins rather than play with them, I put it safely in A.'s office for storage.

Poppy was not pleased that I took her toy away. Good thing there are about a dozen more in the backyard. 

There are no wagon rides or corn mazes at our pumpkin patch, but then again, it's free and right out our back door. Can't beat that.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Friday Food: Illustrated With Random Photos


A. takes my cell phone with him now when he's driving the school bus, as it's the only one that we have and there are no longer radios in buses. This means that he almost always has my camera. And thus, I have very few photos. Let's see what I can scrounge up, shall we?

Friday

Short version: Tuna salad, garlic bread, raw cucumbers and tomatoes

Long version: Cubby and A. were gone all day, scouting for Cubby's elk hunt coming up in a couple of weeks, so I thought the two younger boys and Poppy would like to have tuna salad with the garlic bread I made. I had some leftover soup. I thought Cubby and A. would eat some of the leftover beef rib taco meat, but they ended up finishing the tuna salad instead.

Whatever. Everyone ate.

Saturday

Short version: T-bone steaks, rice, steamed broccoli, leftover sauteed summer squash

Long version: This seems to be a banner year for summer squash in Rafael's garden. I will never complain about free vegetables, even if they're not my favorite kind.


Ah yes, the books I lent to a fellow mom. I took the photo so I would remember which ones she has.

Sunday

Short version: Italian beef stew, pasta with marinara sauce, roasted summer squash, foraged fruit betty

Long version: "Italian" means I cooked stew meat with tomatoes--the leftover juices from cooking the ribs the week before, actually, plus some extra juice from another can of tomatoes--plus garlic, onion, basil, and oregano. I also added some of the too-large and starchy green beans to cook for awhile at the end.

The actual tomatoes from the can I used to make the marinara sauce, mostly in the food processor, which I already had out to make bread crumbs for the betty.

This betty had the last of the peaches from the orphan tree by the post office, a few pears Rafael got from a friend of his, plus some more pears from the tree in front of the village offices, and some plums Rafael gave us because he wasn't going to eat them. The plums were just from the store, but they were fine for the betty.

It turned out well again. Kind of hard to go wrong with fruit covered in butter, sugar, and cinnamon, I guess. I didn't have ice cream or heavy cream this time, so I served it with maple-syrup-sweetened yogurt, which was very good and much cheaper and more readily available than the other options.

Monday

Short version: Various leftovers, tomato/cucumber/cheese salad

Long version: A. and I finished the beef rib taco meat. The children ate the leftover pasta with added cheese--Monterey Jack, because I didn't have any asadero--and some of the Italian stew meat.

Mondays and Wednesdays are now for leftovers. Amen.

Tuesday

Short version: Barbecue beef, garlic bread, roasted bell pepper/onion/summer squash, raw tomatoes

Long version: I've gotten awfully lazy with the big roasts. I don't even get them out the day before because they take up so much room in the refrigerator while they're thawing, so they're always completely frozen when I need to start cooking them. This means I can't brown them before I braise them. I usually brown the meat after it's all cooked and pulled into pieces. This time I put barbecue sauce over the pulled-apart meat and stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes.

You can always assume that if you see a day in which I make garlic bread for dinner and a bunch of roasted vegetables, it's a day on which I have baked bread. I use some of the dough for the garlic bread and fill the rest of the oven with vegetables while the bread is baking at high heat. So efficient. And tasty.

Time for another photo!


Tuesday was really rainy, so I broke out this stuff my parents left for the kids that's like a less-messy alternative to modeling clay. I did not break out the liquor you see classily displayed on the windowsill (thanks to the marauding baby grabbing it off the shelves meant for its storage in that nice liquor cabinet on the background), which was also left behind by my parents.

Wednesday

Short version: Refreshed leftovers, bread and butter, sauteed summer squash, raw tomatoes

Long version: If leftovers are on the menu, it must be a workday.

I had quite a bit of the Italian stew left over from Sunday, but there wasn't enough meat left in it. So I just browned a pound of ground beef and dumped in the stew. I also put in some extra garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar, because I felt it needed a flavor boost. It came out well.

Thursday

Short version: T-bone steaks, mashed potatoes, sauteed summer squash, tomato salad with basil

Long version: I made a little more effort with this meal, because we had a guest with us. And by "effort," I mean I added a clove of garlic to the mashed potatoes, and another to the squash, and went to all the trouble to get fresh basil for the tomato salad.

A.'s friend did say the tomatoes were really good, so I'm glad I walked those twenty yards.

The friend drove from eastern Texas to go elk hunting with A. today. I made six steaks, four of which were for dinner last night, two of which I cut up and made into foil packets with a bunch of boiled potatoes and butter so the men could warm them up over their campfire tonight. After that, they have to kill an elk and eat the liver or something, because they don't have the room in their backpacks for more cooked food. Or possibly the stamina to carry the weight of more cooked food into the wilderness for six miles.

Better them than me.

One last photo! The most random of all. And I think probably not my work.


A lone running shoe and lonely sock, abandoned and out of focus by the trash can. I feel like there's a metaphor in here somewhere.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday Food: Workin' 9 to 5, What a Way To Make a Livin'


Okay, so I actually work from 7:15 to 4:15. And only two days a week, so I'm definitely not making much of a living at it, but I couldn't resist the song.

Anyway. Food.

Friday

Short version: Found food

Long version: This was the night of the school play, so Cubby and Charlie were at school for dinner before the play started. The remaining four of us were due at Jack's classroom for a pre-play reading of the play's story ("The Emperor's New Clothes," minus the nudity) and a dinner that consisted of hot dogs and chips.

So I didn't actually cook, although I did make several dozen cookies for the bake sale auction fundraiser that runs concurrently with the play.


Cubby helped me make the chocolate chip cookies. Jack helped me make the chocolate peanut butter chip cookies. And there were no raisins to be seen this time. Sorry, raisin people.

A. and I elected to eat before we went to the hot dog supper. A. had leftover taco meat with leftover rice and cheese and I had leftover taco meat with tomatoes and avocado. Then when we got home at 8 p.m., the children claimed they were starving and all had bowls of the rest of the taco meat with rice and cheese.

Good thing there was so much taco meat left over, because it was all eaten.

And here we have Cubby the Money Councilor:



I will not post photo of Charlie the (Very Reluctant) Silkworm, because I couldn't figure out how to crop out all the other kids in the photo. I'm sure you can live without seeing him, although it was pretty funny. He told me before the play, with a very expressive scowl on his face, "I despise being a silk worm." To which I replied, "Okay, just suck it up and do it anyway." He did, albeit without enthusiasm.

Saturday

Short version: Scrambled eggs with green chile and cheese, fried potatoes, sauteed calabacitas, leftover steamed broccoli

Long version: A. used the outdoor grill to char the rest of the big bag of chiles my dad brought me from Hatch. I froze most of them, and then used some in the eggs. Every once in awhile I would get a bite that had a really spicy piece of chile in it, but generally it just made for some really good scrambled eggs.

I'm sure you all remember Rafael's calabacitas from last year, officially known as cucurbita argyrosperma. These are actually the first ones we've gotten from him this year. I need to get some seeds from him and grow some of our own next year. They're better than the average zucchini.

Sunday

Short version: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, roasted green beans, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted summer squash, peach/pear/blueberry betty with vanilla ice cream

Long version: We had so many roasted things because it was only in the high seventies outside, so I cranked up the oven and crammed everything in all together. I love it when I can do this, even if I do have to get creative with my oven space and the single oven shelf.

I made the fruit dessert because I had a convergence of fruits that needed to be used. First I got a final bag of peaches from Nick the Peach-Giver. I canned them in halves, but the bottom came out of one of the jars while it was in the water bath. This is frustrating, but salvageable, as the bottom comes off cleanly and doesn't leave any glass splinters.

So I had a quart of peaches all peeled and everything. To those I added a few peaches we got from the orphan tree by the post office that had a lot of hail damage, but were otherwise fine. Also some pears from the tree in front of the village offices that has a TON of pears this year that no one seems to be using. We just picked up the windfalls and ended up with about ten pounds of small pears. They look like the Seckel pears I'm so familiar with from Blackrock, which means they're small and annoying to peel, but are very tasty.

Last I had some blueberries my parents left with us that were on their way out, so I threw those in there, too.

A betty is a fruit dessert like a crisp, but the topping is made with bread crumbs. I used some of the sourdough bread crumbs I always have in the freezer, plus brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter for the topping. The fruit had brown and white sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. It turned out really well.

I looked quickly for recipes online before just winging it--my standard operating procedure--and did not see a single betty recipe that combined peaches, pears, and blueberries. So consider this my contribution to the vast online recipe file: Peaches, pears, and blueberries make a delicious betty.

Monday

Short version: Extemporaneous skillet food, cucumbers

Long version: Now that I'm coming in the door on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:15 p.m. with all four children by myself (A. drops us off before continuing in the bus to bring home the rest of the kids that live farther away) after working all day and then need to make dinner, I'm trying to think ahead a little more. I already had ground beef thawed, and my plan was to use the juices left over from making the pot roast the week before to make a sauce, and then serve it with rice, which cooks in only about half an hour.

However, when I opened the container with the pot roast liquid, it was definitely too old.

Okay! Plan B! Which I did not actually have a plan for, but whatever.

Same ground beef, plus an onion, some roasted green chiles I had frozen in small quantities, cumin, and the juice from a can of tomatoes. The rice was cooking while I was browning the meat. I added some cooked rice to the meat in the skillet, then some grated cheese. And that was dinner.

Are you seeing a theme of meat+rice+cheese in my kitchen? Yeah. Maybe I should write a cookbook about it. Or maybe I've already said all I need to say about that. Not that that stops people from writing the books.

Anyway. Here's Poppy:


Ready for action in a patriotic romper and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helmet.

Tuesday


Short version: Roasted chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks), mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes/bell pepper/onion, sauteed summer squash and mushrooms, tomato and cucumber salad

Long version: You can tell from the relative complexity of this meal that I do not work on Tuesdays.

It's been awhile since I've had to separate chicken legs into thighs and drumsticks. I did not miss it. Gross.

Wednesday

Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, bread and butter, leftover mashed potatoes and rice, sauteed mushrooms and onions, frozen green beans

Long version: Another work day, another meal featuring ground beef. And frozen green beans that I did not even bother to heat up, because the children prefer them that way and A. and I were eating leftover vegetables.

Thursday

Short version: Beef rib tacos with homemade tortillas, pickled carrot and cucumber ribbons

Long version: Yet more of the never-ending and somewhat unappealing beef ribs. Part of the problem with them is that they're so damn long, I have limited receptacles in which to cook them. This time I just chunked them totally frozen into my big roasting pan and put them in the oven until they were thawed enough to cut up a bit. Then I covered the pan and cooked them until I could pull the meat away from all the nasty bits. Of which there are many on ribs.

The meat I fried in some of the fat from cooking the ribs in the oven, plus salt, cumin, garlic, and some of those very handy frozen roasted green chiles.

I only used two cups of masa to make the tortillas, and someone needs to remind me next time to use at least three cups. We never have enough tortillas, which results in much competition for the last one.

And hey! I made a double batch of zucchini bread this day and remembered to put in the butter. Yes, yes. Applause. Thank you.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday Food: Beef and Tomatoes, and Repeat


Friday

Short version: Pizza, green salad

Long version: This was the last night my parents were with us for dinner, and I always make pizza when we have guests, so I made pizza. One cheese, one half pepperoni and half vegetable, and both a little bit charred on the bottom thanks to the fact that I still only have one shelf in my oven and had to rotate the pans with one on the single shelf and one directly on the floor of the oven.

I know. We've lived here for almost a year. I'll get to another shelf this year, I promise. Maybe.

The salad did not include lettuce from my garden--the fall planting of lettuce has not been impressive--but it did at least include tomatoes from my garden. I started with two dozen seedlings, which then became a dozen actual plants in the garden, which have now become three plants in the garden with tomatoes on them, two of which are a small cherry variety called Sweet Millions. From which I have harvested approximately twenty tiny tomatoes.

Underwhelming.

Saturday

Short version: Skillet of leftovers, cucumbers

Long version: I had exactly one cup of leftover pork taco meat and one cup of chicken taco meat, both of which were combined with leftover rice and grated cheese to make dinner.

Foodies 'R' Us.

Sunday

Short version: Bunless hamburgers, pasta with leftover pizza sauce, not-quite-Caprese salad with cucumbers, sauteed mushrooms, peaches and cream

Long version: I was very excited for this not-quite-Caprese salad. First I bought some fancy fresh mozzarella balls at the store on Thursday when we were in a larger town to get the puppies' vaccinations done. I bought the mozzarella because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough asadero for the pizzas. But then I did, so I had fresh mozzarella on hand.

And then, when we stopped at the teeny tiny general store in the village after church*, there were half a dozen Roma tomatoes near the cash register, picked only a few minutes before by the owner from his garden. So of course I got those.

I didn't really have enough tomatoes for a true Caprese salad, which is why I added one of Rafael's cucumbers. I also added a thinly sliced shallot, because I like shallot. Despite the deviations from the traditional, it was still so good.


I didn't plate it like a traditional Caprese salad, either, so maybe I should just call it something else entirely.

I bought the peaches from a roadside stand in the same town where I got the mozzarella. I figured it was my last chance for peaches this summer.

Then Nick the Peach-Giver gave us two bags full of his white peaches that very afternoon.

Luckily, I know just what to do with a surfeit of peaches. With Nick's, I made peach jam, once again using the laborious recipe I used last summer. It has about half the sugar of a regular peach jam recipe, and Nick's extra-sweet, low-acid peaches do not need that much sugar. So I went through the silliness of a cheesecloth bag full of apple cores and straining juice and so on.

The peaches I bought were the ones I used for the peaches and cream. They weren't as good as Nick's, but certainly enjoyable with sugar and cream.

Monday

Short version: Pork roast, baked potatoes, carrots cooked in with the roast, raw tomatoes

Long version: It's been awhile since I've made an actual roast. This one--with just a thyme and oregano spice rub and red wine--turned out really well.

The tomatoes came from the few surviving plants in the garden. If I'm lucky, I'll get maybe five dozen before the killing frosts. Better than nothing, I guess.

Tuesday

Short version: Lazy beef chuck roasts, garlic bread, baked sweet potato, roasted green beans and tomatoes

Long version: Lazy because I didn't even brown the roasts. Mostly because they were still frozen. I just put two of them in a big covered roasting pan with some tomato juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and bay leaf, and cooked them until they were done.

They weren't great, but they were fine. And they provided the leftovers I wanted for the next meal. Which was . . .

Wednesday

Short version: Leftover fried chuck roast, rice, steamed broccoli, cucumbers

Long version: This was my first day of work, so I was anticipating being tired (I was) and wanting something easy. So I just chunked up the leftover roast and fried it in tallow with a lot of garlic. It was better than the original iteration of it.

I sure did miss this crazy girl all day.


She didn't particularly miss me, however. Why should she, when she had her own personal servant and playmate in the person of Daddy all to herself?

Thursday

Short version: Beef tacos with roasted green chilis, cucumbers

Long version: While I was making quesdillas for Jack and Poppy's lunch, I charred about a dozen of the green chilis my dad brought me from Hatch.


If it looks just slightly diseased, it's not charred enough.


Better, but it needs still more charring.

I did eventually get them charred and skinned, then I put a bunch in the freezer and used the rest in the ground beef for the tacos.

Only five dozen or so chilis left to char! I keep thinking we'll do it on the outdoor grill, but the wind has been so bad lately, I haven't wanted to have a fire out there.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

* I didn't actually need anything this Sunday, but I bought a gallon of milk anyway, because the guy who owns it makes a point of being there by 9 a.m. on Sunday pretty much for us, so I feel an obligation to be there, too. And it's not like the milk will go bad or anything in this house.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

In Which the Ladies Start Pulling Their Weight


The hens--all two of them--finally started laying on Sunday.


The home eggs next to the inferior store eggs are small, but mighty.

I feel slightly less resentful now about having to trudge out to the chicken coop in the dark every morning to bring them their container of scraps and cup of purchased food.

On the same day, Jack decided to let the chickens out of their yard, which allowed us the opportunity to teach the puppies not to chase the chickens, no matter how fun it might be.


They were not convinced. They weren't sorry, either.

And in related news, the other lady in the house--by which I mean me--will be starting to earn her keep tomorrow. At least partially.

I'm going back to work.

It has been eight years since I did freelance copy editing for pay, and thirteen years since I left my house to go to a job.

I wasn't looking for a job, but I figured one would find me eventually. That's the way it goes in a small community. With a limited workforce, it's inevitable that every able adult will be expected to contribute in some way. 

In this case, it was the school that asked for help. They had a huge increase in enrollment this year*, which is great, but the teachers are over-extended. The superintendent asked if I could help a couple of days a week as an "Educational Assistant." I think this is probably what we used to call a teacher's aide.

Anyway. I don't know exactly what I'm going to be doing, other than serving as another adult to supervise children, but I'll be working at the school on Mondays and Wednesdays when all three boys are at school. A. will be watching Poppy on those days.

A. just finished up his training to become the school bus driver, as well, so starting next week he'll be driving the school bus. Which means that on Mondays and Wednesdays, the entire family, including Poppy in her car seat, will be riding on the school bus. A. will bring Poppy home with him on the bus on the days I'm working, and then back to the school in the afternoon to drive us all home and drop us off before he continues on to drop off the rest of the kids.

Lots of adjustments to be made, and new routines to figure out. Wish us luck.

* Which means they went from 28 K-12 students to almost forty, plus thirty online students. So we're still not talking your average public school, but it's a lot for teachers that were accustomed to classes of three or four students.