Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lemon Ice Cream

This is a simple recipe I made to help me use up the lemons from my very prolific lemon tree. This was before I had an ice cream machine, so don't think you have to have one in order to make it. After mixing the ingredients together I would put the mixture in a bowl in the freezer, and stir it up every 45 minutes or so. It may still separate just a little, but that doesn't hurt it a bit. I have an ice cream machine now and I have to say it certainly makes it easier.

To start we'll need 2 cups cream; 2 eggs; 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk; and 1 cup lemon juice.

First beat the eggs well. Then mix all the ingredients together.

My inexpensive Braun stick blender (sometimes called an immersion blender) works really well for this.

If you have an ice cream machine follow the instructions listed from the manufacturer. I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker which I really like. It doesn't need any sort of prechilling. You simply pour the mixture in and turn it on. I keep my machine in my bedroom. Not because it can give me sweet dreams (I wish), but because it's a bit noisy. If you don't have a machine put the mixture in a bowl and place in the freezer. Try and stir it every 45 minutes until it starts getting too thick to stir (it will depend on the depth of the container you use--about three hours for a deep bowl, less for a more shallow container).

That's pretty much all there is to it. When my machine is finished mixing I put the ice cream in these quart sized styrofoam containers I get for really cheap at the Smart & Final Store.

This recipe is good because the ice cream isn't too sweet, or too tart. It doesn't have any fat or calories.

That last sentence isn't true. Just seeing if you were paying attention! Enjoy!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Flock of Flamingos

One Saturday morning a couple of years ago we woke up to find a large flock of flamingos on our front lawn. We had been "flamingoed".

My sister was going to be traveling as a chaperone with the church's youth group to Belize. There they would be ministering to the kids and their families and helping the villagers make needed improvements and repairs to their church and school. As a fundraiser the youth group "flamingoed" people they hoped would help out.

I never used to be a fan of the plastic lawn flamingos. I always thought they were rather tacky. But the large flock on my front lawn was kind of funny, and almost cute.

We've been flamingoed!
The flamingo fundraising efforts were a success and the trip to Belize went well. The team got a lot accomplished and my sister reported that not only did the natives get a lot of needed supplies and work done, but the teenaged youth group had their eyes opened to a different way of life as well.

Some of the youth group kids with some of the Belizian kids. The entire team. My sister is here too. Hint: she's wearing a blue shirt.
Originally the team had thought to not pick up the flamingos until a bail or fee of some sort was paid. I told her it was a good thing they didn't go that route, because I wouldn't have paid so I could keep them! As it turned out I actually ended up buying my own flock of flamingos.

No, I don't keep them in the front yard. That would be tacky! They prefer to hang out in the far back, by the ponds. They are water birds, after all. They usually hang out at the edge of the pond water, but since the ponds are dry right now, they wander around the garden area.

My flock of flamingos.
Talk about the ideal pet! They don't make noise, they don't cost anything to feed, they are virtually maintenance free, they aren't smelly, and they don't need much supervision. They just need to be moved around every so often to keep them happy.

And you know me; I want to keep my creatures happy. Because when they are happy, I'm happy!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Cattle's Turn

It was time for Dakota and Ladysmith to get their feet trimmed. Way, way, way past time for Ladysmith. The last time I had her feet trimmed was probably about eight years ago!

It wasn't entirely my fault. When I first bought her the guy had told me they don't trim their cattle's feet; they wear down by themselves naturally. Well, I don't have 20+ acres for them to run around in either.

When I realized I was going to have to do something I called my vet who gave me two names of cow feet trimmers to call. The first one didn't know what an Irish Dexter was and when I described Ladysmith his first concern was that she may not be big enough to fit in the machine thing they use. He asked if she had horns and when he found out she did he absolutely refused to come out. He was afraid her horns would damage the hydraulics. No amount of assurance on my part could convince him otherwise.

I called the second guy. We had a little bit of a language barrier, as he spoke mostly Mexican and I don't. But regardless, we managed to make an appointment and he showed up. He was looking very doubtful as I led Ladysmith to the tilt machine. We got her into position and he started doing his thing. The machine is made for cows that weigh at least 500 pounds more than our little Dexters so she almost was too small. But she did fit okay, though her legs were stretched and her feet just barely peeked out of the holding chains.

It seemed like it only took a few minutes, and before she knew what happened Ladysmith was back on terra firma and back in her pen. I think he charged me $10 and I gave him an extra $10 in hopes that he would have no qualms about returning when the time came again.

Eventually the next time did come around and for some reason the trimmer would not return my calls. I think I called about five times. The vet's office didn't have any new names so I was kind of out of luck. I checked at a local farrier supply but they didn't have a listing of cow hoof trimmers. There is no listing of the sort in the phone book either.

Over the years Ladysmith's feet grew and would break off. They were not what I would call ideal, because they seemed too long all the time, but I didn't know what else to do. So long as the tips kept breaking off I thought this might work after all.

A few weeks ago I noticed her feet were not breaking off and she was getting that "slipper" look. I knew this wasn't good. It interferes with the way she walks. It's like you walking with scuba flippers on. It's not real comfortable.

When I saw her actually limping one morning I freaked out. I called my vet. When he examined her he said the limping was from her overly long feet. He didn't know of any hoof trimmers specifically but said his office would try and find someone for me. A week went by and I never heard anything.

One day my friend Vicki called and when she first asked what I'd been up to lately I pretty much freaked out on her. I told her how worried I was about my poor cow (and Dakota was going to need a trim too) and I couldn't find a trimmer, yada yada. Just about that time her husband, a dairyman and my hay supplier, walked in and she told him about my dilemma. He must have been in a good mood or something. He told me in two weeks his trimmer was coming and for me to bring my cows. YAY! I was ecstatic.

Yesterday was that day. Everything went really smooth. Now both my cows (cow and bull) have pretty feet again. Vicki's out of town this week, but when she gets back I'm going to have her and her husband over for a meal of their choice!

Dakota was first.
His feet are chained up. The trimmer thoughtfully put a towel under the chain that holds his feet still.

After nipping off the excess, he grinds the feet to a perfect shape. It's just like being at the manicurist and getting your acrylic nails done!
Ladysmith was next.
On a "normal" cow, the head would be a lot closer to the top of that head slot.
Here you can see how terribly over grown her feet are.
The trimmer is nipping the excess off.
Using the grinder to smooth and shape.
Ladysmith and Dakota back home after getting their feet trimmed and now enjoying breakfast.
Ladysmith is still limping a little, but that's probably because she's still kind of sore. I'll be keeping an eye on that just to make sure all is well there.

The next pedicure is scheduled for one year from now!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm Ready For Close Ups

Lately I've been seeing some neat pictures on other blogs. Pictures that were reportedly taken with a macro lens. That's the kind you use for getting those extreme closeups. It's making me get a macro lens jones.

I tried doing some research on line about different macro lenses, but I came away more confused than ever. Just for background info, when I was a freshman in high school I took photography as one of my electives, thinking it would be fun and an easy "A". Little did I know this "cool" photography teacher was serious about his craft and we had *gasp* real exams! All that f-stop and aperture stuff kind of went over my head.

I ended up with a "D" in that class.

So for now, until my AZ big sis talks to her photog friend with hopefully some suggestions for me, I'll have to make do with what I have. That means getting as close as I can and still being able to focus, then using my "trim" feature, which enlarges the photo, on my camera. The following is what I played with yesterday.

Chester snoozing on the sofa. I'm not sure I really want to get any closer than this!
Very hard to see in this photo...
The closeup reveals a blue dragon fly.
This is on the barn wall next to where I was weeding. What is it with me and the spiders?Now this one isn't too bad, a skipper on a lavender.And it makes a nicer picture up close.
I want to get in really close, like next to microscopic. So you-can-see-the-lenses-on-the-fly's-eyes close.

I was going to say I'll let you know when I get the lens, but I have a feeling you'll be seeing the results eventually!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Red Chinese Potato Salad

In reality this recipe has nothing to do with communism. I don't even think it's remotely Oriental for that matter. I made that name up a long time ago in a poor attempt to be funny. Actually, though, the name is not entirely inaccurate. The ingredients do include red potatoes, Chinese parsley (aka cilantro or coriander), and rice vinegar. Regardless, in our family the name has stuck.

It's a great variation on the usual potato salad. Plus it is frighteningly easy to make.

Note: adjust amounts according to how much you want.

You'll need 6 boiled, medium sized red potatoes; 1/2 cup mayonnaise; 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (the sweet version); 5 green onions; and 1/2 bunch Chinese parsley.

Cut the potatoes into large chunks (do not peel). Add to the potatoes the rough chopped Chinese parsley and sliced green onion.

In a separate bowl whisk together the mayo and vinegar until it's smooth and creamy. That should only take a minute. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and stir it all up. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so. This allows the flavors to develop. Stir again just prior to serving.

You can add salt and pepper to taste, however, I don't think it needs it.


Red Chinese Potato Salad

6 boiled medium sized red potatoes
1/2 bunch Chinese parsley
5 green onions
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  1. Cut potatoes into large chunks (do not peel).
  2. Rough cut the parsley, slice the onions and add to the potatoes.
  3. Whisk together the mayo and vinegar, pour over the potatoes.
  4. Stir the whole thing together, place in fridge for about 30 minutes.
  5. Stir once more just prior to serving.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Trimming Goat Hooves

I noticed Clarisse's feet were getting a bit long the other day, so I set about to trim them. It's really not too hard to do, especially if you have the right equipment. I've tried the traditional type of hoof cutters, but for some reason they don't work that well for me. I have a pair of hoof nippers, the kind used on horses, and those are fabulous. I trim the sheep the same way.

Hooves in need of trimming. Note the edges curling under.
I tie Clarisse to the fence by her horns so she doesn't choke herself. I'll lean up against her and squish her to the fence while I pick up each foot to trim it. It's kind of hard for her to struggle against all that weight pressing into her. Usually I don't have to press too much because she knows the routine and will hold fairly quiet.

There are two parts to each hoof. I trim all the excess hoof growth off one side, then do the same to the other side.

Trimming one side of the hoof.

One side of the hoof is trimmed, the other is not.
It's fairly simple. First do one side of the hoof, then the other. Then move on to the next hoof.

The entire hoof is nicely trimmed.
Before you know it, all four hooves, all eight parts, are trimmed and pretty.

Pretty feet...

Then I let her go and give her a treat for being good.

Clarisse enjoying her treat.

When I was done with that chore I did a little weeding in the garden and came across this thing:

I didn't kill it because I didn't know if it was a good spider that eats bad bugs or not. Does anybody know? It's actual size is about 1 1/2". I don't like spiders to begin with and this one is especially creepy. It was under one of the tomatoes.


Monday, July 23, 2007


After finishing the mosaic table that goes on the patio out back I was still in the mood for construction. Earlier I figured a milking stand would be nice for when that time comes around again, rather than milking on my knees in the stall.

I got some free plans from a great web site my sister and I both refer to (she for the cheese, me for the husbandry and the stand plans). I had started building the milking stand and was in fact, almost finished when I got another idea. The milking stand could be put on hold for a while, since the sheep will not be ready to be milked at least until the end of December (if all goes well). I thought I was in need of a sheep feeder.

It would be something I could throw the flakes of hay into with the idea that there would be less wasted material on the ground. Also, if they were not eating the hay off the ground, then presumably they would be less likely to pick up something they shouldn't, like worms or wires, or whatever.

I had attempted to make something resembling a feeder several months ago. I used scrap wood and screws that we already had. The problem was I didn't really have a plan. That feeder lasted about two days before the sheep totally tore it apart. Admittedly, it was a bit flimsy. The only thing it ended up feeding was the chimenea.

A couple weeks ago I sent my shearing blades to get sharpened by Premier 1 Sheep Supplies in Idaho. As usual, when they returned the sharpened blades they included their latest catalogue. In it they had wire panels you could buy to install in a sheep feeder you build using local materials. They also had plans you could download for free for various sized feeders.

So naturally I looked at the photos and decided I could make my own feeder and I could find my own wire panels to insert.

I actually did download one of the plans, but it was just a little confusing to me so I ended up not using it at all. I made my own plans by looking at the pictures in the catalogue and came up with my own dimensions.

Everything went really well. I only had to unscrew some boards once to put the plywood underneath them instead of on top. (It was for the bottom piece of plywood, where the hay falls into.) The lumber and screws cost about $60.

Next I had to find the wire panels that make the "V" that hold the hay. I thought the 2"X4" horse fence was too small, and the 6"X6" cattle panels were too big. I went to the local Tractor Supply Company and they had 4"X4" utility panels. That was exactly what I was looking for. The only problem with that was they cost $31.48 each. Good thing I only needed one.

Well, the thing is done and built at a relatively inexpensive cost. It's been in the sheep pen for a week now and doesn't seem to be falling apart (at least not yet). I think it's doing what it's supposed to be doing.

If I were to do it again, I might make it a little wider next time. Also I don't need the "walk through" aspect of it (there is a six inch board on the bottom above the plywood that you can walk on) so I would change that too.

My Honey Bunny asked if I was going to paint it. I said "No, what for?" His response was that it would burn better in the chimenea!

Thanks, Dear!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

$1,000 Table

No, it didn't really cost $1,000. It just seems like it.

A couple of years ago we decided we needed a table for our patio out back (not the patio next to the house, the one "out back" by the animals). We weren't looking for anything fancy and the electrician three houses down had a couple of empty spools behind his fence. You know the kind, the great big ones that come with miles of wire. One was even used for a while as a table on "That 70's Show" in their basement.

Anyway, since the empty spools had been behind the electrician's house for a very long time, we asked him if we could have them if he wasn't going to be using them. His response was "Take all the spools you want!" So we took two. One went to the goat pen and the other to our out back patio.

It was fine for a while, but then in the back of my head I kept thinking "I can make this better!"

My idea was to make a mosaic design on the top. That would certainly make it prettier. But the top was not even. It had gaps where the wooden boards came together. I came up with a solution. We had the remnants of a failed boat-making attempt, including a full sheet or two of expensive marine grade plywood.

I cut a circle from the plywood to match the top of our spool table. I thought it was a good idea because the table was for outside and would be in the elements, just as a boat obviously would be.

I came up with a design, kind of nautical in nature, and transferred it to the table top. It took a few weeks of an hour here and an hour there, and a couple of weekends of hours at a time, mindless tile breaking and piecing together of my design. That tile wasn't expensive. In fact I managed to get a small box of mostly broken tiles of one of the colors at a steep discount. I'm not a very good negotiator/bargainer/hustler and I was a little miffed on the one hand that I didn't get it for free (the tiles were broken for goodness' sake!!).

Table top: starfish, tuna, and octopus in waves.
I did pay a premium price for the grout, though. It was some sort of special flexible stuff that should be able to hold up to the sharp weather contrasts. It hasn't disappointed. (I almost bought an add-in that would make the grout glow in the dark, but I didn't.)

After I got the top glued to the spool, then the middle part looked really crummy. That seemed simple enough to fix. I would get some more tiles and stick them around the middle section. I didn't really make that a mosaic design, per se, but I used different tiles and made a simple banded design. The main tile I used for that was rather pricey. I wanted something a little more fancy for that so I went to one of the tile specialty stores rather than the Home Depot or Lowe's flooring section. I found a beautiful 1" X 1" iridescent tile that was a little over $20/square foot. The spool middle is 4' around. I had just sold a couple of lambs so I didn't feel too bad about buying that tile.

After I finished the middle I just had to continue and finish the top of the bottom side. I know that sounds confusing, but look at the pictures and you'll know what I mean. Those two sections I grouted using regular grout. I wish now that I'd spent a little more and bought the other grout.

I guess the wood of the spool was greener that I thought, because it apparently contracted and the middle tiles started chipping off. Eventually whole sections of the expensive iridescent tiles came tumbling off at the slightest touch.

It was time to re-do.

Neighbor Dean suggested first fiberglassing the middle section and then re-tiling over the fiberglass. That way it would not be affected by any heat/cold/dampness shrinking/swelling. So that's what I did.

Applying the fiberglass to the middle and edges.
First I scraped off all the remnants of the old middle section and sanded it all down. With the table on it's side I did a section at a time, rolling it to a new section every day.

When the fiberglassing was done, I sanded all the really rough spots and spray painted the middle portion. By then I had an idea of a new middle design. Shiny river rocks and flattened marbles from Michael's in a wavy pattern around the middle. This to me was like a meandering river flowing to the ocean (the top of the table). (Please stop your gagging!)

Applying the marbles.
I used epoxy for the river rocks and simple white glue for the marbles. This had to be done a small section at a time or the rocks and marbles would slide off before the glue had a chance to set. Each little bag of rocks weighed 2 pounds. I figured out I added about 34 pounds to the table, not including the weight of the marbles.

When the middle was done I painted it all over with more epoxy, just to make sure it would hold. Then I taped up the sides and poured a box of stuff on that I got from Michael's. It's this stuff kind of like the epoxy that makes a thick layer of clear stuff. It filled in a lot of the uneveness of the top (different sized tiles) and makes it look almost like it has a thick layer of glass on top.

Then I built up the edges ever so slightly with a "High Performance Spackling Paste". It was then sanded smooth, spray painted the same as the middle, and then spray painted with a clear coat.


Re-finished spool table back on the out back patio.

It looks good again back on the out back patio. But now the patio is looking kind of shabby...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Finishing the Job

One and a half weeks ago; 3of4 on the left, Francine on the right.

My shearing blades came back last Friday, so Saturday I set about finishing what I had started the week before. Poor 3of4 had been left with a partially finished job, so naturally I started with her. She looks so much better now.

3of4 after; much better!

Francine was next. I had a close call with her when I started on her face behind her ears. I was heading for the tufts on her cheek when she suddenly jerked her head. The sharp blade point nicked her skin less than 1/2" below her left eye. Close call!

I use the sheep stand to shear, but that makes it difficult to get between their back legs properly. So the last thing I do is take them off the stand and attempt to get them on their rump to more easily access that area. Francine decided she would have none of that. My dorsets are easy to get into position, but Francine is part Cheviot, a naturally more nervous breed. After a brief struggle I finally had her down. We were both huffing and puffing and I was dripping sweat, but I was able to finish her properly.

Francine with her new "do".

Ewenice was the final one. Although she is full Cheviot she is actually easy. Part of it is because her face and legs are clean, meaning the wool doesn't grow there, so it's just that much less to do. Also, I think because she is a bit older she is easier to handle and knows the routine now.

I'm happy to say I'm getting a little better at this shearing business. When I first started it would take me a good hour to do one. Now I've managed to cut that time in half, plus they look much cleaner than the first ones I ever did.

It's still quite the chore, though, but I'm glad they will be more comfortable for the summer.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tomato Salad

I guess I do not have a discriminating palate. All four types of my tomatoes managed to have at least one ripe at the same time so I could do a taste test. Besides, it was a perfect evening for a nice tomato salad.

Here they are all lined up, ready to be sliced and tasted. On the back left is the "Heat Wave"; in the middle is the "German Queen"; on the right is the "Red Beefsteak"; in the front is the "Health Kick". It's kind of hard to see here, but the German Queen has a definite pinkish tinge to it, where the others are more orangey-red.

Once they are sliced open, you can see they are all beautiful. The Heat Wave may have a few more seeds, but they are all very meaty. The main difference is obviously since the Health Kick is a plum type it's a smaller tomato.

Next came the taste test. I tried a sliver of each, and honestly, I couldn't tell any huge difference in flavor. To me only the Health Kick tasted a tiny bit waterier than the others. Maybe I didn't do it properly (if there is such a thing), but I was also kind of in a hurry because we had guests and I had to make the tomato salad.

Isn't the salad georgeous? It has all four of the tomatoes from my garden; chopped chives and basil, both from my garden; chopped red onion; minced garlic; and feta cheese my sister made with the last of Jamie's frozen milk. It was tossed with some bottled Italian dressing and an extra splash of balsamic vinegar. It was delicious.

Just as a side note here, it was served with breaded and fried giant Humboldt squid, and steamed wahoo, both of which my husband made.

Dinner plate with tomato salad and fried calamari.
The steamed wahoo.
The giant Humboldt squid just prior to cleaning.
A few weeks ago the guys had gone fishing at Dean's boat and my husband came home with nothing to show for it. When Dean got home later he had a giant Humboldt squid that a neighboring boat had brought in and gave to him. While the guys were cleaning it in the driveway, the guy that lives at the end of the street drove up and asked if they wanted any fish. He had just returned from a fishing expedition in Mexico and had more fish than he could handle deep frozen in the back of his truck. My husband and Dean selected a wahoo and we split it between us. Then the end-of-the-street neighbor continued zigzagging down the street towards his home, knocking on everyone's doors in an effort to off load the excess fish he had caught.

It was a great dinner.