Sunday, April 22, 2018

Outdoor Adventures and (Lotsa) Exercise

Last Thursday, Papa Pea and I strapped our newly purchased crampons to the bottoms of our boots and set off to hike up the ice-covered creek near us.

You may remember we attempted this trek a week or so ago, but the mission had to be aborted because we didn't have any kind of "grippers" for our boots and the whole creek was one solid sheet of smoooooth ice!

Now that we were prepared, the creek was snow-covered and had a surface we could have walked on without our new crampons.  However, we did get to test them out by walking up all of the several frozen waterfalls we encountered.  Above Papa Pea is standing at the top of one of them.  Without our crampons, navigating these small, frozen rises in the creek would have been difficult.  They worked so well that with them, I think I could have walked up a 45 degree angle.  (Maybe.) 

There were spots in the creek where the ice had been melted and carried away by the flowing water underneath.  Here I'm standing upstream, looking down.  Even under the snow and (mostly solid) ice we were walking on, we could hear water gurgling.  Some places we were careful to stay right along the bank's edge.

When we had gone far enough (never did get to what we could say was the "top" of the creek), we found a spot on the creek bank where the snow was melted, and we could climb out of the creek bed and head for home cross-country.

Clamoring up the bank wasn't as easy as it looked.  My simple point-and-shoot camera doesn't do well on depth perception, but here I'm standing at the top of the bank looking down at the creek (from whence we came) which is the farthest kinda sorta diamond-shaped white spot at the bottom.

Arriving home, we had a quick lunch and then to take advantage of the beautiful, sunny day, drove about five miles from home to hike through a forestry plantation of old red pine trees.

The trees were planted nearly 90 years ago, but sad to say, are not looking to be in very good shape now.  Most of the lower branches have died off, and I wonder how long these beauties will remain standing. 

Nonetheless, this area is still gorgeous and although the hiking was a bit strenuous because of the "in between" texture of the snow, the scenery was worth it.  We took our smaller snowshoes thinking we might need them.  For the first half of the hike we both wore them, then I took mine off for the last part while Papa Pea kept his on the whole way.  I thought it was a little easier walking without them.  But not by much.

Beside the path we came across this Charlie Brown Christmas tree past hikers had decorated for the holidays.  A cheery little spot still saying "Happy Holidays" on a great day in April.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tree Pruning Has Begun

I'm taking this as a definite sign of spring.  The past few days have been wonderfully warm (up into the 50s in the sun, and that feels warm!), full of sunshine and even making one think winter may actually be over.

Sure, we've still got snow on the ground (plenty of it in the woods), but it's melting each and every day now.

Papa Pea started pruning the apple trees this past week.  Yes, he did.

Notice he's even without the several layers of clothing that he's had to don when working outside for the past many months?  It was so warm he didn't even have a jacket on.  Amazing.

By looking closely, we can even notice there are buds (okay, very small ones) on our big twin birch tree outside the kitchen window.  I think we can safely say spring is on its way in the north woods!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Tale of the Greasy Peanut Butter Feeder

Many long years ago, Papa Pea made me a peanut butter feeder for the birds from a small black walnut log.  It was from a tree in our woods way back when we lived in Illinois.  We've been here in Minnesota for 45 years so that gives you an idea of how old this bird feeder is.

Every winter it hangs outside one of our kitchen windows where we can watch all our little feathered friends who flock to it for snacks all throughout the winter days.

I can't even imagine how many tons of peanut butter I've used over the years to fill the holes to provide some protein for the wild birds. 

This winter I took a container of lard from our freezer that some friends had given us.  It was rendered lard from an organically raised hog and should have been good lard.

However, when I used some of it to make some pie crusts I found it had an "off" flavor that I didn't care for at all.  So I decided to feed the remainder of the lard to the birds in the log feeder.

But first I mixed the lard with some peanut butter and sunflower seeds.  Then the next time the feeder was empty, I put some of this new (lard-laced) concoction in the holes.

The birds didn't like it.  Uh-oh.  What was I going to do with all this mixture I had made up?  I kind of ignored the feeder for a couple of days while I thought about the situation.  Lo and behold, the birds did start pecking at it and eventually decided it was okay to eat.  (Not seeing any dead bird bodies lying around, I figured the mixture wasn't going to hurt them so kept refilling the feeder until the mixture was gone.) 

Well, almost gone.  As I think you can see from this close-up shot of the log there still remains lard that dripped down the feeder when the sun was shining on it.  Since then the feeder has been an ooey, gooey, slippery, greasy mess and I have to practically wash my gloves every time after wearing them to take it down to fill (only peanut better for the last couple of months and from now on) and then put it back up on its hook again.

We store the log feeder back in a shed over the summer months, and I sure would like to get that mess cleaned off of it before then.  I think I'll have to leave it up until the days are warm enough to melt off most of the remaining lard . . . and then probably pour boiling hot water over the log to get the residue completely off.

Bottom line:  No more messing with lard mixtures for the peanut butter feeder.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Short Post - Announcing Rug Winner!

Thanks to all seventeen of you who expressed an interest in winning the crocheted rug I offered here on my blog.

I numbered the names as they came in,

put slips of paper with each number on it in a bowl, blindfolded Papa Pea (not really, but he promised not to look), 

and had him pick one piece of paper out of the bowl.

He drew out #11 which corresponds to the same number on the list, which is:


Congratulations, Pam Malone!  If you will e-mail me with your mailing address, I'll get the rug off to you asap. 

I've got to stop offering giveaways.  I'm tickled that Pam's name was drawn but feel so crummy that everyone else's wasn't.  If only I had the time and yarn, I'd get busy and make sixteen more rugs!  Honest.  I really would.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Crocheted Rug Giveaway

I just finished making a crocheted throw rug from the remainders of skeins of rug yarn I had used in other rugs over the past couple of years.

It's a hodge-podge, helter-skelter design and is colorful, to say the least.  Although Papa Pea says he really likes the multi-colors and the way it turned out, we have plenty of rugs so I'm offering this one as a giveaway here on my blog.

The rug yarn used was a combination of cotton and rayon and 100% polyester.  I've used these two rug yarns together many times before, and they make a sturdy rug that wears like iron. 

The rug is completely machine washable and dryable and reversible.  The size is about 35" (including fringe) long by 21-1/2" wide.  Depending on the surface on which you use it, you might want to pin a rubber rug backing on the floor side to avoid any chance of slippage.  (I sure don't want anyone to end up on back or bum or possibly causing injury to oneself.)  When I use these rugs in areas where they seem they could be the least bit slippery, I cut a piece of rug backing slightly smaller than the rug and pin it in place on four corners with medium-sized safety pins.

If you're interested in being put in the drawing for this rug, please let me know by this coming Tuesday, April 17th, by 9 p.m. when I'll turn off my computer for the night.  I'll draw a name sometime Wednesday and announce the winner then.  (I'm sorry to say I have to limit entries to folks in the contiguous United States for this one because of shipping costs.)

Anyone interested?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Seedlings Are Popping Out All Oh-Oh-ver!

The first broccoli seeds I planted on the 4th of the month started popping up two days later.  Then the cauliflower joined in.  This morning I saw the first little sprout of a cherry tomato seed (also planted on the 4th) pushing through the soilless mix.  No peppers yet, but I'm hoping they start soon.

A veritable forest sprouting forth.  Moreless.

Puny in size yet, granted, but where there's life, 
there's hope for greater things to come.

* * * * * * * *

Lots of sun  was shining down upon on us Sunday afternoon when Papa Pea and I decided to go on a hike to get some exercise and fresh air.  There's a nice creek that runs on the far west side of the property that abuts ours on one side.  It comes out of the woods and runs into a big culvert under the road in front of our property.  We knew the creek was still frozen so thought it would be easy to hike up it a ways.

Yep, the creek was certainly frozen solid, but we mistakenly thought there would be a good snow covering on it which would make it easy to walk on.  Wrong.

The whole creek was one totally shiny, slick, smooth ribbon of ice.  It looked just like a manicured skating rink, perfectly flat sloping slightly downhill.  We thought we might be able to walk up it by staying on the side in the snow, off the ice, but the banks were way too steep so that proved impossible.  We hiked through the woods alongside the creek hoping to find better footing on the creek as we went up the hill toward the ridge in back of our place. 

No such luck, and the going through the woods was so thick with evergreen trees and underbrush that it was difficult walking.  

In the woods, the snow was not so deep that we couldn't make it, but we would have been better off with our snowshoes, although again, the thick brush would have made snowshoes less than ideal.  

Eventually, we kind of gave up, found a place where we had to literally slide down the bank, very carefully shuffle across the creek like a couple of old crogglers, climb up the opposite bank (no easy task) and head home through the woods.  All in all, we still got a lot of exercise and fresh air so it was a good outing. 

* * * * * * * *

Chicken Mama and Gilligan will be here for lunch today so I made a rhubarb pie first thing this morning.  (No, not from fresh rhubarb but from a bag of rhubarb pie mix I had in the freezer from last summer.)  That for dessert along with a main meal of chicken squares, chicken gravy, cranberry sauce and green beans (boy, do I still have a lot of green beans from last year's garden in the freezer) and all involved should be happy.

Papa Pea and I hope to put in some work on next season's wood supply today.  Our back wood working area is usually too wet and muddy this early in the season, but because of no great amount of snow for us this winter, it's already dried out nicely.

We felt a real heat wave this morning upon arising when we noticed the thermometer read 24 degrees.  A bit of a change from the single digit numbers we've been having.  

The sun is shining again to it's gonna be a good day.  Hope yours is, too!

Friday, April 6, 2018

How Much Excitement Can I Stand?

Oh, ya, for sure this has been an exciting day.  First thing this morning I took my very life in my hands by heading out in 18 degree weather with 40 mph wind gusts (I kid you not) to drive to the dairy for fresh milk products.  No snow was falling which was a good thing because there were spots on the way where the wind was picking up the snow from old snow banks and blowing it across the road making near white-out conditions.  (What month is this, anyway?)

Returning home I got a batch of cottage cheese started and finished that up just after lunch.

Then down into the basement I went to sort through the remaining stash of onions.  They are really keeping remarkably well, but I did find about six or so that needed to go directly to the compost heap.  Ish! 

I should have plenty to last until this year's onions are ready.  You can see I have about twice as many red ones left as I do yellow ones.  The reason?  See if you can follow my convoluted reasoning.

Prior to this past season, I've always planted three 4' x 8' raised beds out to yellow onions, and one to red onions.  And no matter how I tried to portion out the red ones, I've always run way short of them.  So, in an aha moment (duh), this past year I planted two beds of yellow ones and two beds of red ones.  (How smart am I?)  But, being so used to having to go easy on the use of the red ones (which I prefer in many instances), I think I did the same thing this year and . . . there you have it.  I find I now have an over-abundance of red onions.  Make any sense?  It does to me and maybe one of these years, I'll learn that I now will have plenty of red onions and can use them as freely as I wish.  (Oh, the difficulties I do make for myself.)

Yesterday I got the first of my seeds planted and under lights.  There are cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers.  Nothing has sprouted yet.  Just kidding, it's way too early.  But that hasn't kept me from peeking several times today.

You'll all feel better knowing I got the Easter decorations put away today.  Papa Pea wanted to know what I was going to put out next.  I said, "Spring, of course."  He commented it might be more weather-appropriate to go back to the winter ones.

Lastly, the really exciting thing that happened today (no foolin' on this one) was the package I received from your bloggy friend and mine, Susan at e-i-e-i-omg.

A beautiful pair of socks she knit for herself, but alas and alack, found them a titch too small for her footsies.  We corresponded and thought they would fit me . . . and they do!  She was so very kind to send them to me.  I'm blown away with her even stitches throughout and just look at that tiny, intricate little cable running up the outside of each sock.  I am surely one lucky little ducky to have received this pair of socks crafted with her talented hands.  Thank you, my friend.

Well, with all of this excitement, I'll probably have to go to bed early again tonight.  Shhhh, don't tell that old insomnia bogey man, but the last two nights I've slept straight through with no wakefulness in the middle of the night.  Let's hope I'm on a roll.  A long, long roll!