Saturday, January 25, 2020

Current Lamb Count: Sad News

The male lamb got stuck in some fencing, exhausted himself struggling, got too cold overnight, and died this morning despite all we tried to do to save him.

Having livestock means there will inevitably be deaths, but it's a hard lesson for the new shepherds to learn.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday Food: Powering Through

This was not my most accomplished week in the kitchen. Except for the fact that everyone was fed every day, which actually was quite an accomplishment, thanks to the cold that cast its shadow over most of my week.


Short version: Elk stir-fry with rice, leftover elk stew

Long version: I made the stir-fry with more of the large bag of elk I had thawed early in the week. When I come up with pieces without much sinew or connective junk in them, I try to use them for stir-fry or steaks. This time, it was stir-fry.

A. ate a bit of stir-fry and a big bowl of his never-ending elk and chile stew.


Short version: Pizza elk, pasta with marinara, frozen green peas

Long version: Finally, the last of the bag of elk. These were the gnarlier pieces I had cut off when trimming the stir-fry meat. I simmered the pieces until they were tender with the juice from a large can of whole tomatoes, plus garlic powder, basil, oregano, vinegar, and water. This was covered with melted asadero cheese. Ta da! Pizza elk.

The tomatoes in the can were used for the marinara for the pasta the kids had.


Short version: Pork carnitas tacos . . . and, uh, that's it

Long version: I had been planning to make tortillas for this meal, but then I started to feel the onset of a cold right before dinner. I sat there thinking, "Ugh. I don't want to make tortillas; I guess tacos are out. Maybe I could just make rice. Or bread and butter," before I remembered that I could just use store-bought tortillas.

My brain is a confused place sometimes.

The tacos had lettuce and salsa on them, which totally counts as two vegetables, right? Right.

I didn't make dessert, either. Good thing Miss Amelia had sent two packages of those frosted animal cracker/cookies things home with Cubby and Charlie when they brought her the church bulletin. Those things are gross, but the kids love them.

The children found the raccoon hat A. made for Cubby almost eight years ago, plus this random bit of raccoon fur scrap that still has the raccoon's face on it (gross) and decided to add on to Poppy's church outfit.

Fetching as this is, I did not allow her to go to church like this. 


Short version: Ugh. Food.

Long version: Long, congested day at work. A. had the last bowl of his elk and chili stew. Cubby and Jack had barbecue pork made with the leftover pork, plus rice and frozen green peas. Charlie and Poppy had scrambled eggs, rice, and peas. I had scrambled eggs, sweet potatoes, and peas.

I made the eggs because Charlie's mouth had an unfortunate run-in with Jack's knee right before we left for school, leaving Charlie with a damaged mouth and a very impressive fat upper lip. He couldn't really close his mouth and said it hurt to chew, so I made him the scrambled eggs and rice so he wouldn't have to.

I joined him in the scrambled eggs as I was in the stage of congestion where I couldn't chew with my mouth closed and breathe at the same time. We were a really fun crew at dinner, let me tell you.


Short version: Taco rice skillet, frozen corn

Long version: Make taco meat. Add leftover rice and cheese. Serve with frozen corn. Bon appetit.


Short version: Leftovers

Long version: Cubby had the last of the vegetable soup, plus some cheese and bread. Charlie, Jack, and Poppy had barbecue pork sandwiches, plus home-frozen green beans before dinner (still frozen) and raw cabbage with their sandwiches.

Their idea of an appropriate vegetable accompaniment is weird.

A. and I finished the taco rice skillet. Everyone was fed. Yay me.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, oven fries, baked beans, green salad

Long version: You can infer from the relative completeness of this meal that I was feeling better.

I used only two of our enormous potatoes to make the oven fries, and I had too many for my half-sheet pan. Those really are big potatoes.

The baked beans were the last of one of the giant three-pound cans of Grandma Brown's baked beans the MiL sent home with us from New York this summer. We didn't quite get through the can before I decided to give us a baked-bean break and shoved the rest in the freezer. That was like two months ago. Enough time had passed that the children were excited to see them again. And then dismayed when I told them we wouldn't have any more until Daddy went back to New York in the spring.

By that time, they'll be REALLY excited to have them again. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Or the mouth. Or something.

And speaking of the MiL! She sent each of the children a Merino wool long underwear top, which arrived this day. I forced them all to stand together wearing their shirts so I could show the MiL how much they liked them. And this is what I got:

Yup, that's about right. They do like the shirts, though.

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

Thursday, January 23, 2020


There were many comments on yesterday's post that warrant a response, so I'm just gonna go ahead and make yet another post about our Very Important Cream to answer them all.

I'm touched you all care as much as I do about this vital issue.

Okay. So . . .

G.P.: You can indeed milk sheep, if they have lambs. We have done it! And made ricotta with the milk!  A few problems, though: 1) We have range sheep, which are pretty wild and not really the sort to submit easily to milking. Not that any sheep really does. 2) We have Merinos, which do not make a lot of milk and really need all they do make for their lambs. 3) Sheep milk doesn't have separated cream, like cow's milk. The fat is just right in there with the milk. So it's more like richer milk, not cream.

Anonymous: Sadly, we are cream snobs. None of us like creamers of any sort, be they powders, liquid, whatever. In fact, we still bemoan the fact that we can no longer get the raw cream from the Jersey cows up the road. And neither of the two restaurants near us have real cream. Probably because they can't get it easily, either. :-)

MiL: Definitely going to try freezing cream. Although I don't seem to be doing well consistently keeping a supply of milk in my freezer. Perhaps I'm still in denial about the store closing.

Linda: Ugh. Dairy animals. SO MUCH WORK. And I am SO LAZY. I am fighting becoming a dairy maid as long as I can, although I can't say I would never do it. More likely to be a goat than a cow, though. Less milk to handle. Less feed needed, too.

Okay! I think I have addressed all comments. We can all carry on with our lives now. And the next time you stop at a grocery store near your house, please note all that lovely cream just sitting on the shelf within easy reach and know how lucky you are.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Coffee Update

Never fear: I can taste my coffee this morning.

This is particularly timely as we finally got cream again yesterday after a week without it. Coffee without cream is a sad thing.

The reason we were out of cream was because the tiny grocery store near us did indeed close last month. We made arrangements with the even tinier store in the other village to order milk, cream, eggs, and cheese that would be delivered with his regular order twice a week, but last week, there was no delivery on Thursday.

No, I do not know why there was just a no-show on the part of the delivery person. These things happen in Extremely Rural America, especially in New Mexico.


The next-closest source of cream is sixty miles away. I must admit that I did try to talk myself into needing some other things just so I could drive 120 miles round-trip for cream, but . . . I didn't. Because that's crazy, right? Right.

So sub-par milk* in the coffee it was. For a whole week. Boo.

But the next order was delivered yesterday to the tinier store, and so we have cream again. Which is in my coffee at this very moment. Which I can actually taste. Alleluia.

That's all. Have a lovely day.

* We were close to running out of that, too, so I had to tell the children no milk drinking on Saturday because we weren't getting any more milk until Sunday after church. Ostensibly, this was so they could have their Sunday Cereal, but really it was because I was not about to face the craziness of a Sunday morning with only black coffee. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Sad State of Affairs

I'm afraid I'm on one of those days of a cold where I couldn't sleep past 3 a.m. thanks to the sneezing and the need to constantly blow my nose.

But even worse? I can't taste my coffee. Not even a little bit.

A sad morning indeed.

Sunday, January 19, 2020


About four years ago, for reasons now lost to the mists of time, I suggested to my mom that she could give Cubby a chess board for Christmas. Or maybe his birthday.

As I said, I cannot for the life of me remember now why I suggested that. Maybe he had played it at school and liked it? Maybe we had an old board at Blackrock and he liked it?

I dunno. Upshot is, we have a chess set.

Someone taught Cubby--probably A., but again, my memory on this is leaky as a sieve--so he knew the basic rules. Cubby taught Charlie at some point in the past couple of years. They would play every once in awhile when they got bored, but it was never a regular thing.

Until now.

I have no idea why, but sometime over the Christmas break from school, chess became Charlie's Thing, with a capital "T." And he is startlingly good at it.

First he played Cubby, but Charlie almost always won. Cubby would usually only play one game (probably because he always lost that game), which didn't satisfy Charlie's insatiable chess demands.

Then Charlie started playing A., who, although he knows how to play, hasn't played in years. A. usually won, although Charlie won often enough that A. has to really pay attention to avoid getting sneakily taken out.

Charlie's a menace with those diagonally-moving bishops that come out of nowhere*.

At some point in this chess battling, I mentioned to Charlie that my high school had a chess club.

"Really?" said Charlie. "I'm gonna start one at my school!"

I tried to explain that this was my high school, which was composed of people significantly older than seven years old. Not many seven-year-olds play chess, I told him. Also, my high school had like 500 people from which to pull members for a chess club, and even then, I think there were only maybe six guys in it.

I was trying to prepare him for the fact that maybe he wouldn't get a great response to the idea of a chess club at an elementary school that boasts all of 25 students. I was worried that he would be disappointed if nobody signed up. I couldn't imagine that this would go anywhere.

Nevertheless, he and Cubby made posters to put in the hallways ("Chess Challenge Club. You may be a pro, but can you defeat The Master?") and a sign-up sheet. Charlie brought his chess board with him to school. They decided to hold the meetings during the last recess of the day.

I happened to be working that day, so I was there to see what transpired. And what transpired was, well, a chess club.

Charlie set up his board to the side of the playground and started playing one of the girls in his class. Some kids left the game of tag currently in progress to see what was happening and then there was a small crowd watching the chess game. And then they signed up to be in the club.

The next day that I was at work, the students in Charlie's class were playing chess in their free time and his teacher had to make rules about who could play when.

So Charlie started the chess craze at his elementary school. It probably won't last long, but for now, he's happy.

And I'm happy that my children are braver than I have ever been about being themselves and following their own passions.

Bravo, Charlie. I hope you will always be so true to yourself.

* I know this because he eventually cajoled me into playing with him a couple of times, even though he basically had to re-teach me the game. I haven't played since I was about ten, and it's ridiculous how proud I am of myself that I won both times. Beginners luck, without doubt. But I must admit, chess is pretty fun when I have the mental stamina to play. Which isn't often.