Saturday, April 6, 2013

Boating with Stones

So tell me, class, who knows what a stone boat is?

If you were going to guess a boat made of stone and were wondering what the point of that might be, put your hand down. You're not woodchuck enough for this quiz.

Don't worry; I had no idea either. Until A. built one.

A stone boat is a kind of sledge dragged behind a tractor. It's used for moving really heavy objects. Like, uh, stones. A. made his out of pallets. Of course. He makes everything out of pallets.

He made it sometime last year to haul some big rocks out of the gully that he wanted to use for one of his walls. It's mostly been sitting around in the way since then, but it once again proved its worth today when A. finally decided it was time to move the huge slabs of cut stone that Mr. Jason gave him (long story) that have been lying right where they were dumped from the trucks about six months ago.

Unfortunately, they were dumped on the grass. Which is now trying to grow and will do nothing but get dead if it's covered with a thousand pounds of stone. So A. decided to move the slabs. Some were going along the edge of the garden. If they're going to kill vegetation, might as well be the damn weeds there. Some were going under the forsythias, for the same purpose. They will eventually be used for some actual masonry projects, but for now, he just wanted to get them off the grass.

Enter the stone boat. And some seriously heavy lifting.

Or technically, leveraging. Ain't nobody lifting this monster.

And there's the stone boat. It kind of looks like a beefed-up pallet, doesn't it? It kind of is.

Tuffy the Tractor had no problem hauling these loads. Good old Tuffy.

And this was just inevitable.

So thanks to the stone boat (and A.'s labors) the grass has been liberated, and is free to die another day. Bonus.

P.S. I planted some potatoes today. This has nothing to do with stone boats or anything else, I was just very pleased about it and felt the need to share. It's a tradition.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Let the Light Shine

Quite a bit happened today.

I planted peas (both shelling peas and snow peas).

I hung all of Charlie's diapers on the clothesline for some much-needed solar disinfectant.

I loaded a big pile of punky, rotting wood into the back of A.'s truck, thereby clearing a mess that has been bothering me for over a year now.

The whole family went to the woods with Jodi to see him (and so A. could help him) use the log loader he designed and built*. This involved Charlie and I climbing in the cab of Jodi's truck while A. and Cubby hunkered down in the bed of the truck so we could ford a stream on the farm track that led to the fallen tree Jodi wanted to load. It was about the most exciting thing ever for Cubby.

Cubby helped me dig up, wash, and chop some green garlic from a few volunteer garlic plants I found in the garden. Then we ate the green garlic in corn tortillas with cheese. I took some pictures. They're cute, of course, but what you should really notice--what is really the overriding theme of the day and what makes everything so very cheerful--is the light.

Spring sun is a glorious thing.

Behold, the halo of light crowning my not-quite-saintly child.

Yes, that is a real knife. Any child who can handle a saw can handle a knife, I figure. Plus, he's one step closer to making his own damn food, and that is a worthy goal indeed.

* It was an enormous wooden scaffold thing with a marine winch on it that Jodi designed so it could be put up and broken down with a cordless drill. And so a truck can pull up right under it and the log can be dropped into the truck. It worked really well. I don't have pictures. My bad.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When You Cross the Line . . .

A good indicator of complete and unrepentant woodchuckiness? Buying your kid's Easter basket toys at the Local Huge Outdoors Store. Including a stuffed wild boar that makes very realistic boar sounds.

His name is Harley. But of course.

But at least I didn't wear my flannel-lined jeans for Easter dinner.

It's a woodchuck in an urbanite's clothing. Appearances are so deceiving.

Monday, April 1, 2013

This Breaking Up? Not Hard To Do

My relationship with liver thus far has been something like an unsuccessful attempt at dating. I keep trying. I keep thinking this time will be different. This is deer liver! Totally different from the previous disaster with beef liver! THIS liver will be The One.

And then it's a disappointment.

I thought the same with chicken livers. Nope. No go. Then I tried lamb liver. GROSS.

My most recent freezer inventory and the discovery of package upon package of beef liver made me mad about all the meat in there that we weren't eating. And determined to try ONE MORE TIME to find a way to make my relationship with liver work.

Despite eating it (well, one bite of it, anyway) on multiple occasions, I've never actually cooked it myself. So I thought if I found a recipe that looked good to me and made it myself, maybe this time would be different.

Oh, what a hopeful fool I am.

I found a recipe in a German cookbook we have that involved onions, mushrooms, thyme, and sour cream. Those are all winners. Anything made with those will have a good sauce at least. The recipe said to soak the liver pieces in milk first, presumably to subdue the flavor.

I pulled the liver out of the package with trepidation, this being the first time I've ever actually handled it raw.

It was squishy and slippery and the smell of it was completely repellent to me.

Ignoring these warning signs and holding my breath, I gamely cut it into squares and covered the squares with milk. Then I left it there for an hour to soak and turn the milk a really unappealing shade of pink.

As instructed, I cooked the onions and the mushrooms. They, unlike the liver, smelled delicious. I took the liver out of the milk and dried it thoroughly. I seared it in a hot pan. It didn't smell like death anymore, so I allowed myself to think optimistic thoughts about how the milk soak was the secret! THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT!

It was not different. It was still liver. It still had an unpleasantly soft yet gritty texture and a really disgusting taste that seemed to coat my tongue and linger even after I rinsed my mouth out with water.

The sauce was delicious, though. I ate the mushrooms and onions over mashed potatoes.

I've tried and tried and I just can't make it work. Liver and I are breaking up. It's not you, liver; it's me. I'm sorry, but we're done. Forever.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Yeah, That's a Blackrock Holiday

Happy Easter, my lovelies! How was your Easter? Did it feature delicious food? Chocolate in the shape of animals and ovum? Adorable, excited children?

Yeah, ours too. With the added fun of an electrocuted mouse and no hot water.

This always seems to be the way on holidays here. The MiL was running out the door to church this morning and stopped to tell me there was no hot water. None. She suspected maybe the fuse for the water heater had blown somehow. And possibly that fuse was in one of the fuse boxes in the back hall.

I should explain that our stupid-old electrical system includes THREE fuse boxes in the pantry in the back hall AND a breaker box in the cellar. PLUS! There  a couple of things (like the timer on the hot water heater) that appear to be hardwired directly into the electric meter.

It's ridiculously confusing and makes it very hard to figure out where to look when something goes wrong. But A. started poking around in various fuse boxes and found the pretty obvious answer to our problem when he came upon the electrocuted mouse.


Once he removed the fried rodent, the water heater commenced heating and all was well. Good thing, since we hosted fifteen people for Easter dinner today and the MiL has been doing dishes for about two hours now.

Oh! AND! I was in the bathroom with Cubby right before dinner, making sure he washed his hands, and the handle for the hot water in the sink came right off on my hand! SUPER FUN. The screw to attach it fell right down through the hole, thereby making it impossible for me to put back on. A. couldn't see an easy way to fix it either, so for the rest of our gathering the handle was just sitting there on the sink. Good thing our guests were mostly just family, and they know how it is here.

There were also some very exciting Easter baskets and things that I have pictures of, but that will have to wait until later. I think we've had enough excitement for today.