Sunday, February 9, 2014


The last couple of days it's been nonstop snowing. This is from the day right before. The valley below is covered with a low bank of clouds. 

On Thursday afternoon I went in to work. It wasn't too bad then but about thirty minutes after I got to work the snow started coming down. Hard. I was there for about an hour and 45 minutes when my head cashier approached and asked if I wanted to go home. I'll rarely turn down an offer like that. And considering the looks of the snow storm I thought maybe I'd better head on home in the daylight. It was only going to get worse. 

The bad thing is of course I don't get paid when I'm not there, but I had been called in a few hours early just a few days before. I figured it was a wash. The good news was I wasn't scheduled to work for the next two days when the worst of the storm hit. I found out later that more than half the people didn't come in to work. A few were sick but most were snowed in.

Here's Clyde checking out the snow on Friday night. 

The deck and rail had been cleared of snow earlier. Then we got more. 

There's about six inches on the rail here.

Clyde shaking off the snow.

This was this morning. 

The roads were pretty full of snow this morning and I had to try twice to get out of the driveway. On the way home it was a little clearer but there were slushy and icy spots. Hubby tried clearing a bit today so hopefully when I leave for work early tomorrow morning I'll be able to get out without too much trouble.

I thought I had posted this before I went to work but when I checked it tonight it hadn't posted and half the content was gone. Grrrr! Oh well. Hope this time it works.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Home Made Italian Sausage

Well, we actually did it! We made our own Hot Italian Sausage! 

I wasn't going to blog about this at first but I was so pleased with how it turned out I just had to show the results.

We got all the ingredients yesterday, including an 8 pound pork shoulder (bone in) and a lengthy portion of pork intestine (for the sausage casing). The other ingredients include dry red wine, fresh parsley, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, paprika, fennel seed, caraway seed, powdered cayenne pepper, and powdered chipotle chile pepper. I know I spelled chili/chile differently...that is how it is spelled on the respective jars.

Anyway the meat was cut into chunks and put through the course grinder. Then all the spices and seasonings were added to the red wine, mixed well and poured over the ground meat. Then that was thoroughly mixed and spread out over a sheet pan and placed in the freezer for about an hour. After that it was run through the grinder again, this time on a finer setting. The casing was put on the machine and the meat mixture was sent through the tube and into the casing. 

Here is the sausage as one giant piece.

Then I carefully made links (it tore a little on my first attempts) and packaged them for the freezer. There are five packages with four links and one package has three links. HM (Home Made) Hot Italian Sausage. YUM.

One of these days I hope to be able to make it with Home Grown pork, but that will be for another time.

The recipe came from a book called The Complete Guide To Sausage Making, Mastering The Art Of Homemade Bratwurst, Bologna, Pepperoni, Salami, And More by Monte Burch.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Three Strand Glittery Afghan

I finished my latest afghan tonight. I used an "N" size crochet hook and three strands of different colored yarn held together. The yarn I used was Loops and Threads Impeccable Glitter in Mirror, Lion Brand Vanna's Glamour in Rhinestone Pink, and Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in Winery. The Impeccable yarn is black with multicolored glitter. The Vanna's yarn is a hot pink with pink glitter, and the Boutique yarn is variegated in shades of reds, pinks, and purples.

The stitch I chose is a new one to me but super simple. Like many of the crochet stitches it goes by several names: granite stitch, moss stitch, and woven stitch. Basically it is a single crochet, chain one, single crochet, chain one, and so on all the way back and forth. Here is a good tutorial on how to do it.

Unfortunately the photos don't show how pretty the blanket looks in real life. In these photos it looks much pinker.

And you can't really see the pretty sparkly effect. 

Now to plan my next one...  :-)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Laundry Room Laboratory

I get a catalogue in the mail called "FarmTek". It has everything and anything a farmer might be interested in. While I drool over some of the things inside the pages I have never purchased anything from them because I just don't have the money.

One of the things in the catalogue piqued my interest though, and it had to do with "fodder feed systems". Basically it is a hydroponic system of sprouting wheat, barley, oats, or some other seed and feeding that to your stock. It's supposed to be much less expensive than feeding traditional hay or grain and that is what gained my interest. Another bonus is the sprouted grain has more health benefits like more vitamins and so on than feeding traditional feed.

Though the system for sale in the catalogue is slick and clean, it also involves quite the start up cost. When I started getting more serious about persuing this I looked on-line and found the information I needed from several different web sites. (Just Google "fodder feed" and you'll see all kinds of sites to look at.)

I followed one site's lead and bought my starting trays from the Dollar Store. They are simple foil baking trays with plastic covers. The soaking bucket was one I already had so that was no extra cost. The steps are so simple it's ridiculous. 

First off figure out what kind of seeds you want to sprout. I chose barley because research indicated it to be the easiest grain to work with. It took a little bit of calculations but for my tray size two cups of whole untreated barley grain was the right amount to start. It goes in the soaking bucket anywhere from 8pm to 10pm.  

The next morning the seed gets dumped into one of the trays, which has holes poked in the bottom to allow for drainage. Tray One goes into the bottom of the sink and onto a rack. In my case I have three days' worth of trays stacked on top of each other in the sink. I put one cover on the top tray.

This is Day Three.

Day Four. To help make room and allow for better growth I remove Day Four to the counter. I put a cover underneath for the drainage and a cover on top. (Refer to top photo.)

What a difference a day makes! This is Day Five.

Day Six and really starting to fill out.

Day Seven and ready to feed. Currently I'm dividing one tray between the four chicken pens.

I'm using a very simple seven day cycle. On Day Seven I feed the sprouted barley and move the trays one spot up. When I come back from the morning feeding I put the soaking barley into the now empty Day Seven tray and it becomes Day One and goes to the bottom of the sink.

So far I've only fed to the chickens and they gobble it up. I've been doing this for about three weeks now and I have noticed a dramatic drop in the store bought prepared lay crumbles I have to buy. Another bonus is the eggs have a deeper, darker, richer yolk. I don't think I've even used half the sack of barley yet either. 

This summer I'm going to try and increase my production so each chicken pen gets a whole tray of sprouted seed. I would also like to try and start feeding the horses and bull and see if they take to it like the chickens do.

Anything to save feed costs is a good thing!