Life and Laughs at Side Hill Farm

Sharing life, laughter, recipes and an occasional bottle of home brew down on the farm.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Coop De Graw

After a year of eating pale, store bought eggs, I decided that  it was time to  get some chickens again. This time I built a small coop that could be moved around the pasture during the spring and summer and parked in the garden for the winter. I needed something that was secure enough to keep the horrible mink and other predators out, and within sight of the house, so I could keep an eye on them. Being the cheap, I mean frugal, gal that I am, I used mostly materials that we already had. An old 6x6 aviary worked for the run. I used the siding from our old hottub and some pieces of 2x4's we had laying around to build the top part. An old window was fitted with screen that the mister had in the back of his truck. I attached it with hinges so it can be used as a second door to make cleaning easier. All the hinges were gathered from here and there. The tin for the roof was some that we got from someone, so long ago that I don't remember who or why. I used a small shutter that I had in the attic and lath left over from some construction job. I did buy the hooks for locking it up (the hole that allows them down into the run locks up at night... no minks in my coop). I bought 3 quarts of bright colored paint and ta da! The Coop De Graw!
The shutter. There is screen under it so no critters get in
 Nest box has a drop down door on the back to gather delicious eggs.
This is the main door. Their feed tray is right inside, which makes it handy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where have I been????

I mean really. Where is that together gal that blogs, finishes projects at home, that inspires everyone around with her craftiness??? Oh, that’s right. She’s a figment of my imagination! The real me has been overwhelmed with life. The mister. Work. Projects. Lack of money. And so on and so on. On the good side, I have made time to spin and knit more. So relaxing, and I feel so productive when I am making things. So…… spring is here. New hopes for a great garden. (forget the failures of last year). New chicks soon. And today something that pumped me with a little “ok, things are going to be good this year” feeling… today one of our sheep had a lamb. Funny how something like that can make you slow down. Haul a folding chair out to the field just to sit and watch for a while. To enjoy simple, extraordinary life. Happy Spring!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm Back

  Finally I'm back to my 2 days off during the week. Due to the guy I work with being on vacation for 2 weeks, I have been working during the week and having weekends off. Don't get me wrong. I do love the mister and time with him is nice… but I don't get much done. I absolutely love my days off by myself. Posting the blog is one of the things that didn't get done.  So, hello!  I'm back.  The first part I wrote out right after Christmas, but didn't get it posted, so I thought I'd throw it in.

Another Christmas, come and gone
     I sit here and reflect on another Christmas gone in a flash. Mixed emotions. I loved getting together with the family. Planning  the gourmet dinner. How to make it comfortable, yet classy. How to make good tasting  food that is special with a small budget. Loved the family getting together at our house. Yet through all that I felt that I wasn't quite getting all the holiday feelings that I should. But it just hit me today what the problem is. Me. Older.
     I realize that I have been thinking that I need to have the feelings that I had as a kid. The great anticipation  and wonder that filled me from Thanksgiving till Christmas. Or the feelings I had with the kids at home, planning all the little things that made Christmas exciting for them. I enjoyed all that so much, but this is not then, it's now.
     I realize  that I was feeling guilty for not having those same feelings. For some reason guilt is something we do well in our family. Silly guilt. Other people seem to need others to make them feel guilty. We do it well all on our own. It seems like it's passed down through generations. Funny, I can honestly say that I would feel guilty not feeling guilty. I know other family members feel the same way. So back to "Christmas Feelings".  I need to get to the point where I am ok with how the holidays make me feel now. That it's ok to just enjoy the little bits here and there and not be all consumed with great feelings of Christmas 24/7 throughout  the month of December.
     Looking at it this way, I can honestly say I had a great Christmas. I loved driving in the driveway every night after work and seeing the house all lit up, thanks to hours spent by the mister getting all the lights to work. I loved walking up to the door and seeing the cedar garland (bought, not made, ran out of time and got smart) and cedar wreath. I loved knitting sweaters and sewing dresses for the granddaughter's barbie. Enjoyed baking things for Christmas eve with Christmas songs booming on my stereo. I enjoyed  figuring out ways to  give myself 12 days of Christmas. I don't think I got all 12, but I did lots of little things. I bought myself a Christmas book of short stories. One night after work I got myself a breve and sat in my car under a street light and read for a half hour. I make myself "Not Hot Chocolate" (kaluah and half and half heated, yum) and sat on the front porch and drank it, enjoying the lights. One afternoon I sat and watched HGTV and knit all by myself. I took a long bath and read lots of knitting magazines that mom brought over. I sat in our "new" big living room and enjoyed the tree, way down at the other end.
      Little bits of good Christmas cheer here and there this season. Not an all consuming feeling, but good just the same. So I mark this up as a great Christmas for a me who's become an older, but enjoyable me.

I am still amazed at the change that taking out the wall made. I love sitting on my couch and looking into the dining room!

“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” – Unknown
     I seem to have misplaced my umph.  Somewhere between removing the wall, the business of Christmas and now it has disappeared. Maybe it's with all the rubble of trim from the wall removal that is crowding my already messy shop. Maybe it's upstairs among the scattered toys and Christmas decorations the need to be put away. Maybe I lost it in the many receipts that I have been going through to get ready for tax time. Where ever it is, I am determined to find it. Life is too short to not have any umph.
     So today, instead of searching the web for fabric for my new dining room (not enough budget or time to buy right now, anyway) or searching on craigslist for a leather couch and loveseat (what am I thinking…now is not the time to redecorate!) or watching stupid TV, I will start cleaning the upstairs, sorting out the trim and finishing up my tax stuff. Instead of having the TV on I will listen to podcasts on my computer while I work away. Hopefully by the end of the day I will find my lost umph!

                                               On the Farm

Jack and Diane seem to be a happy couple again without 14 offspring following them around. Hummm…. I think I will have duck for dinner.

Lucy and Smirky are coming close to me now, although if I don't have grain, they have no interest. I have this picture in my mind of them running up to me to have their heads rubbed, following me like Mary's little lamb, but if I am honest with myself that is unlikely to happen.                   

Yeah! Blog posted. On to getting this house into shape.
PS  My niece's blog is great!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thoughts on being who we are meant to be

 I believe we were born with all the specific stuff in us to make us the one of a kind person that is us. I'm not saying that all that happens around us in this world doesn't affect us or change us dramatically, but inside us, maybe really deep, is the us we were meant to be.

     I spent so much of my life striving to be what I thought others wanted me to be instead of enjoying being me. What a waste! I now can say that I like me. Most of the time. Not that I don't have things in me that need to be changed. That just goes with being in this world and living with others. But I never want to lose the me that I was made to be.

     What got me thinking about this is our house. I love our house. A 1920's bungalow style house.  Sometime in the 70's or 80's previous owners decided to change it. I understand. Times change. The original galley kitchen with formal dinning room didn't work for them. It was the time of eat in kitchens and sliding glass doors. They took out the wall between the kitchen and a bedroom and made a bigger kitchen with a glass door going into the back yard. Unfortunately they needed the bedroom, so they took out the fireplace and walled off part of the living room to make a new bedroom. They moved the living room into the formal dining room. This created a good sized very dark entry way. And a very small living room. The entry way has been one of those rooms that you wonder what to do with. The house is not very big, so just to use it to walk through didn't make much sense. So a computer room… clutter. I put our dining room table in it. That became a place to put the clutter. What to do? ?? Call the sister and invite her over for a wall tearing down party!

     I could not put up with another holiday in our small living room. 6 people in it at Thanksgiving was crowded. The mister and I had talked about tearing out the wall that was put in, but there were always other things to take our time. He tends to want to think things out and have the perfect time to do things like that. I did not see any "perfect time" in the future, so I did not mention my plan to him.

     I started cleaning things out on the sly. "Just got a cleaning bug, honey".  Friday before last as soon as he left for work I jumped out of bed and started striping off the wallpaper. Of course I stuck it on good and wasn't done when the sister showed up. She started taking the trim off and with the help of a nice sledge hammer, by 12:30 the horrible wall was down.
The Dreaded Wall
A step closer to Sunlight
Freedom is so close...
As it should be...
What a difference!!! The light that came into the room was amazing. No longer did we have a dark, useless entry way and a guest room (otherwise know as "the place where you put things waiting to find their real place" room). Now we have a great size living room that looks out over the garden, barn and fields.  No longer does it feel like a small cramped house. My dining table is now in the dining room where you can open the french doors and the two rooms become one gigantic room. Plenty of space for family to enjoy the holidays now!
     Now the house makes sense.  It's hard to imagine sitting here drinking my tea it being any other way. It is finally back to what it was meant to be. And call me silly, but I think my little house is smiling now. 
Ready for paint and redecorating...

     (Note: the mister did not throw a fit or leave me! He was so excited, he was calling all his friends and telling them about it!)

Questioning the "must do's" and "should dos"

 This is the season that I get so caught up in the whirl wind of being busy that I find myself flung into the new year wondering what happened to the Christmas I used to love.

     I heard something on the radio the other day that made me think. Some shrink (I know, usually I call them quacks and say they don't know what they're talking about) was saying that women tend to be so bogged down by the musts and shoulds that they lose the joy of the season. Boy did that hit home. So, this year I am questioning all my musts and shoulds. Not throwing them all out. Just questioning. Some musts, such as making lumpya for Christmas Eve, is a must that stays. I think the whole family would rebel if I didn't do that.  Paying bills this month is a must I cannot ignore. But must make 10s of dozens of cookies and candies is a must that has got to go. Cookie dough is a down fall of mine. Eating. Lots. So I may make some cookies and a couple of candies. If I have time and if I feel like it. Must have everything perfect for the family gathering has to go. I've never accomplished it anyway, so why stress out about it? Should make Christmas cards and send them. No, not this year. Too many things going on. Should make Christmas bread and deliver it on Christmas eve to friends. Don't think its going to happen, so not even going to plan it.

     What I am going to do is give myself 12 days of Christmas. No, I'm not going all selfish this year, just giving to myself this year, because, darn it, I'm worth it!

 My first gift was having family over for a 6 course sit down dinner on Sat. I love cooking and planning and had a great time putting it together. So many good things to eat I've wanted to try. I had a blast!

The Soiree Attendees
 My second gift was sitting down today and watching a Christmas chick flick and knitting. Who knows what else I will do? Maybe a good Christmas fiction and a nice cup of earl grey. Maybe drinking a cup of hot buttered rum on the front porch looking at the stars.  These things are for sure on my must list this year. I will keep you posted as the holidays progress.
     Here's hoping  you take time for you this season.

Link to dessert recipes I used for the party. Lots of great recipes here
go to recipes for creame brule (I didn't use orange peel...sounds good though.)


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Holidays...humm the thought makes me hungry

     The Holidays are here and that gets me thinking of food. Of course. It's a family thing. I can't remember from one year to another what the weather is, who was with who or what gifts were given. What I can remember is the food. I can even taste and smell all the wonderful goodies as if they right here in front of me.
     When I think of good times with the family certain foods come to mind. Thinking of my Grandma Rhae makes my mouth water for her creamed new peas, carrots and potatoes, fresh from the garden, served in her big yellow mixing bowl. Thoughts of Grandma Megorden brings to mind Joe Burgers fried to a crisp with boiled potatoes and bowls of chunky applesauce, half frozen. Mom makes me think of cookies. All kinds. Exactly 4 of them in my brown bag for school lunches.
     Thanksgiving has got to be homemade stuffing and rolls. No packaged stuff for our family. And fresh baked pies. Not just enough for one slice each, but oodles for the week after. In fact tonight I'm making 3 pies and it just seems wrong. I usually make 10 or so. Christmas Eve: Scandinavian decent…need I say more. It's a night for family and feasting. Lumpya, shrimp and cream cheese, Shrimp dip with bugles, cookies, candy and of course, because we can't just snack, homemade clam chowder with oyster crackers for dinner. By the end of the evening we are all usually in a stupper from all the great food.


      So here I sit going through my cookbooks for things to make. I love cookbooks. I have one that was my mom's grandmas. It's a notebook with lots of hand written recipes, some noting who they came from and if they were real good. Lots of recipes cut out from magazines and newspapers.              

    This is where my mom must have got the idea from as she was raising us kids. I have her leather 3 ring binder full of recipes that we grew up with. I got it from her when I first went on my own and added my own findings. I can remember when she made certain recipes from that cookbook. For my 14th birthday she let me pick out what I wanted her to make. I chose the angel food cake hollowed out and filled, and I am reminded of that birthday every time I look through the cookbook, searching for some good confection to make.

In one of the little pockets of this cookbook I found a small card showing my sister and cousin had a secret club, with a pledge. I obviously was not invited to be in the club. So many memories in a cookbook. (Memories of my sister and cousin, not the club, as I was not invited to join because it was SECRET)

I also have my Grandma Megorden's cookbook that my mom learned to cook from. Great old fashioned recipes in this one.

 Ok. I'd better stop going down my memory lane of food and start baking. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving with lots of memories being made.
                                   Blake Lake
People probably wondered about this old sign on our pear tree when the days were warm and dry. This week you can see the reason for it.

Here are our 2 sheep, Robin and Lucy. I started washing the wool that we sheared from them last spring. Can't wait to start spinning.

I've got to go get pies out of the oven. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just Let Go

     When you start to spin wool into yarn the hardest thing to overcome is hanging onto the wool too tight. It's only when you can learn to let go that the wool flows out of your hand and onto the bobbin as a beautiful yarn. When you can relax and just let the fiber flow loosely through you fingers a magical thing happens. The rhythm of your feet on the treadles take over  and your whole body and mind unwind and the stresses of life seem to fade away.

     I realized the other day that I don’t laugh much anymore. The title of this blog is "life and laughs at Sidehill Farm", and people are probably wondering where the laughs are. Heck, I'm wondering where the laughs are. We've had a really hard couple of years. Financial stuff, relationship stuff because of the financial stuff. Me working way too much to try to make ends meet. Me worn out and I hate to admit, somewhat bitter.

      Things are on the upswing now. The mister has a good job close to home and he is excited going to work every morning. I just got a job that is only 4 days a week (yeah, time at home for me). It's steady through the winter and it pays great. So things are looking up at the farm…. but I realized that I am still hanging on to the hurts, frustrations and fears of the last couple of years. I need to stop hanging on to the past. My fault… doesn't matter. His fault…. Doesn't matter. Life sometimes sucks…. Doesn't matter. What does matter is I want to start enjoying my life. Everyday. Little things and big things. Its time to just let go.
   (Great song, give it a listen)


                                     Sister came over and we had a day just
                                 goofing around and the first time in a long time,
                                                         I LAUGHED.

 It's fall and I've been knitting up a storm. Ever since the gals in our knitting club told me that it was okay to have more than one project going at a time, I have enjoyed knitting more than ever! Before I wouldn't let myself do anything else until I finished my project. It became work. Now I have lots of projects all around the house. If I'm tired of working on one, I can grab another.  Fun! Here are some of my finished ones.
Other projects going are socks for the mister (great for knitting on my lunch break), a shawl, a gift for grand-nephew, a totebag (felted). I'm also spinning some great burgundy yarn and will be starting a lace shrug for the holidays.

It's turkey day tomorrow. Not Thanksgiving, but turkey day as in "we live on a farm and raise our own animals", turkey day. Cruel to some, but a way of life on the farm. We know these turkeys have been raised happy (no they don't go around smiling but I can tell they're happy every time I bring them food) and they aren't full of chemicals.
 Hopefully the weather will co-operate and we can go clam digging tomorrow. Heres a picture that I took of the mister and grandson hunting the illusive razor clam. The next is it made better by my very talented sister.Check out her blog, My cottage year on my blog list, to see more of her fantastic art.

Nice picture

              Great Picture! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pipe Dreams

   Does anyone remember the 1976 movie, "Sybil", about a gal that had 13 different personalities? Well yesterday my mind was filled with all the things I wanted to do and I realized that I need, not different personalities, but different bodies to do all the things that I desire to do.

How cool would that be! 

     There would be the happy homemaker me, plump with an apron always on, cooking and humming my day away.

     Then there would be the neat freak me, duster in hand, cleaning and organizing every corner of our house.  Next would be the farm girl me, in overalls and knee high muck boots,  not  just taking care of the animals, but talking to them and enjoying everything about them.  All the fences would be perfect, the barn clean and smelling of hay, garden free of weeds and vegies  growing year round….sigh.

      The flower gal would be the next me, always outside digging in the dirt, sun hat on my head, pruners in my hand. Shrubs and flowers flourishing under all the care I would give them.  No weeds in site.  Grass so green and soft you can't wait to take off your shoes the walk through it.  Crafty me would be in neck deep in processing wool and spinning it by the wood stove,10 different knitting project s on the needles and sewing  all over the place. I would be wearing hand made, artsy outfits and always have a homemade gift ready for any occasion .

       I would have to have a people person me.  One who always has time to visit with friends or drop a caring note in the mail for someone. I would be available to go here or there just to spend a  leisurely  day with someone. There would be the construction me, building  all sorts of great things around our farm. Our house would not be a bunch of undone projects, but a place where every where you look there are details of beautifully grained wood making you stop and enjoy. 

    Sitting in a cozy corner  would be the music me, constantly filling the house with the sounds of classical guitar and piano.  This me would be mellow and contented, no worries or hurries, just able to enjoy the making of music. 

      I would have to have the wifey me, with nothing else to do but make the mister happy, and of course, the working me with abounding energy working from dawn to dusk, bringing in lots of money so all the other me-s have plenty to go around.

     Ahhh, the thought of it. To be able to have all the time and energy to do all I want in life.  Oh well, off of pipe dreams, of things that can never be and back to reality. I think the lazy me will go get another cup of tea and make another list…. and ponder awhile about all the stuff I would like to do.

A great day off
I started out my day off with many plans of "must do's".  I had to make something with my sourdough starter, which I got out of the fridge the night before.
 I put together the ingredients for bread and added more flour and water to the starter and put it in the warming over. It had been so long since I had used it that I wanted to make sure it was well fed before I put it back in the fridge.  I set the bread aside to rise and started cleaning the kitchen , one of my must do's. While I was cleaning off our china hutch. I noticed how dirty my old quilt that I had hanging on the wall was. That led to taking it down and putting it in a tub full of water to soak. Now I had a bare wall and the wheels in my head started to turn. Grandma's table (from the 30'sor 40's) was upstairs in our storage area just taking up space…. It would be great in the kitchen, but what to do with the hutch?  So I got out my tape measure and figured out if I moved stuff around in the living room, I could put the cabinet with the mister's nascar and beer glass collection in there and move the hutch where the cabinet was and move grandma's table and chairs where the hutch was. There went my day, but I had a BLAST! I was moving stuff around and baking ( the extra sourdough starter became bagels and chocolate cake with kaluah frosting) and cleaning all day. By the time the mister got home from work I had everything in place.
  I used a funky chair I had gotten at goodwill for corner by the glass door and set up my spinning wheel. I've always wanted to be able to spin in the warm kitchen with a view of our pond and water falls. To celebrate how great it was to have the table and chairs here, I cooked Joe burgers, boiled potatoes, gravey and green beans for dinner. That is a meal that I remember having at Grandma's a lot. (Joe burgers are just hamburger, egg and onions formed into steaks and dredged in flour and fried. Great comfort food) I  baked the sourdough bread in my clay cooker and finally achieved what I have been working at for years. A perfect loaf of sourdough with a thin crisp crust and soft chewy middle. Yeah!
The bagels turned out good and chewy and the chocolate cake… well let's just say that I am not eating low sugar till that baby is gone!
Decorating for Halloween

 Here is the extent of my decorating for Halloween. I had help from all the resident spiders! Why buy the fake stuff when you have the real thing right here!