Saturday, February 11, 2023


Today, my first-born turns thirteen years old.

Those of you who have been reading here for a (very) long time will probably find this as improbable as I do, but I assure you, that tiny Cubby is indeed now a teenager.

Per his request, I no longer post photos of him, but I do have one of the knife he up and made yesterday:

He just . . . woke up and decided to make a knife. So he found a piece of scrap metal, cut it to shape, filed it, punched holes, and there's a blade.

Next he'll fire it in the forge he made with his dad last summer, then carve a walnut handle for it.

Because he can do all of those things. Along with hunting, baking, writing, gardening, training horses, splitting wood . . .

He is incredibly skilled at thirteen years of age. Certainly much more so than either of his parents were at that age. I can't wait to see what else he learns and does as he gets older.

Happiest of birthdays to Cubby, a truly remarkable boy.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Friday Food: Taco Week


Short version: Bunless hamburgers, fried potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I had baked extra potatoes with the meatloaf the day before, and those were what I chopped up and fried. I had plenty of fat to fry both those and the hamburgers, because I finally got around to rendering some of the suet we got from the last cow. 

It's actually unusual to get any fat from these range animals, because entirely grass-fed ruminants typically don't really put on a lot of fat. This, however, was an older cow, and as we all know, older females tend to hold onto fat in conditions that would not fatten younger females or males.

I could make a joke at my own expense about that, but I think I'll leave that alone.

Anyway. Here's the rendered suet all cut up and ready to render.

Commence melting.


Short version: Daddy's special tacos

Long version: This was the day I went to the very far away basketball game. I left A. and the other three children at home, and for them I made taco meat with beans before I left.

When I got home with Cubby, we found that A. had fried tortillas and made taco shells for the meat. The children approved.

More evidence that Dad is the fun one.


Short version: Pizza, frozen green beans

Long version: I made one pizza with bacon, the other just cheese. 

Because I avoid eating too much pizza, I made myself a hamburger with the last of the ground beef in the refrigerator. The boys expressed the opinion that I should just make hamburgers every day, just in case they felt the need for "something extra to munch."

Unlikely that I'm going to start frying auxiliary hamburgers every day, but duly noted.


Short version: Cafeteria leftovers, carrot sticks

Long version: I brought home a bunch of ground beef tacos from the cafeteria, which the children ate along with the carrot sticks. I was also given quite a few leftover eggs from the hot breakfast at school, which is what I ate along with leftover pureed calabaza.

There was also leftover peach crisp from the cafeteria. Also popular with the children. Yay for the cafeteria food.


Short version: Barbecue meatballs, baked potatoes

Long version: I baked the meatballs and potatoes right before Poppy and I left in the afternoon for Cubby's basketball game. I just left them in a turned-off oven so A. could feed the other two boys in the short time they had before arriving home after the bus run and leaving for judo.

I got home with the other two kids around 5:30 p.m. and fed them the same thing. Very convenient.


Short version: Cafeteria tacos, refried beans, hummus

Long version: The school cook had sent home about two dozen crispy tacos with me. A. heated some of those up for the kids while I was at our very delayed staff Christmas party after school.

We never had the party because we ended school a day early for our Christmas break, due to dangerously cold weather. And this was the first time all the staff managed to be available on the same night.

I brought hummus, carrot sticks, tortilla chips, and some dilly beans. There was a TON of other food, most of which I didn't eat, because I'm not really eating anything fun right now. Oh well. I had fun, even if I didn't eat (or drink) anything fun. And I didn't have to cook, which is always appreciated.

The kids had some of the hummus and chips when I got home with the leftovers.


Short version: T-bone steaks, rice with chicken stock, green salad with ranch dressing, baked custard

Long version: I made the rice--in chicken stock with somewhat obscene quantities of butter--and custard for the child who had a sore throat. Again. 


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

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Growing Food: Constant Vigilance

Now here's a topic guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of anyone trying to grow their own food: wild animals.

If you grow food, some animal is going to want to eat it. And really, who can blame them? You've conveniently consolidated a living salad bar right there! All they have to do is get to it!

And get to it, they will.

In my gardening life, I have lost at least some crops to rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons, gophers, and deer.  

Our neighbor in New York built what amounted to a stockade to encircle her vegetable garden. It was a wood fence eight feet tall. This did keep out the deer, but unless it had buried wire under it, it would not keep out the diggers like groundhogs and rabbits.

Some people sprinkle or spray their plants with hot pepper liquids, in the hopes of making their plants unappealing to furry marauders. I've never tried this.

I prefer to outsource my garden defense. And that means guns, traps, and dogs. Not too pretty sometimes, but effective.

I have never gardened in a place where I didn't have dogs patrolling. They are the most useful deterrent to garden thieves. But for this to work, they have to be out night and day, and they have to have access to the actual garden. This means that sometimes, they will cause their own damage, but it's much less than a rabbit would cause left unchecked.

My furry assassins.

I leave the guns and traps to A. and Cubby. 

A. has successfully trapped both rabbits and gophers, essentially eliminating them as a problem on this property. Although we do have to keep an eye out for new incursions so he can take care of them before they get established.

Cubby likes to set up camp at the next-door abandoned house around sunset with his .410 shotgun and watch for rabbits. They tend to hide over there and make sorties onto our property to eat things at night. So getting them at their point of origin is the best option.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners: How have you managed to deter animals in your garden?

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Snapshots: Slightly Delayed

I'm a bit late posting this morning because I spent all afternoon yesterday staring at this:

Into the great wide open, under them skies of blue . . .

I went to Cubby's basketball game, which was at a school 109 miles away. Yes, three digits. And all but the last 18 miles were on roads that looked like that. Except for on the way back, when they just looked black, because it was dark. And there's no dark like middle-of-nowhere-New-Mexico dark. It was quite extraordinary.

I mostly went so Cubby wouldn't have to sit through the varsity games and come back on the bus at 11 p.m. 

Anyway. I drove over 200 miles yesterday and pretty much went right to bed when we got home, so now I will fill you in on the rest of my week in photos.

Let's go!

Poppy made herself a warm bed in front of the woodstove.

In the earlier part of the week, we spent two days in the middle of a frozen cloud that deposited a thick layer of rime on every surface outside.

It was pretty, but kind of miserable to go out in. This is the morning it finally lifted.

It resulted in a few hours without power on Wednesday morning. It went off just as I was getting the kids up for school, but our school has a generator, so we got dressed and started breakfast in the dark. Hooray for propane stoves that can be lit with a match.

And last, our very dark drive last night was actually lit with a full moon in a clear sky, which was still up when I got up this morning.

Sunrise-tinted clouds and a setting bright moon make for a pretty dramatic morning.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.