Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thawing Out.... (Pictures added)

Little icicles have been falling all day, slowly at first , then as the day wore on, like cascades of shimmering swords! Still, the sounds of breaking branches and limbs are being heard, and the sight is not so pretty in places. The once elegant trees around our beautiful farm now look tattered and worn, broken by the weight of the frozen liquid that feeds them in other seasons of the year.
Still, I am content knowing that spring is just around the next corner and with it, new growth that will cover the ugly brokeness. and as the sun comes out and melts the ice, the trees once again will lift their branches toward their Maker, free of the icyness that held them bound.

Hummmm....... kind of like us when the Son gets ahold of our hearts, softening them: making them warm, tender and clean again, we are free to praise and magnify our wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ice-Age update

The Southern States truck made it in this morning, over down wires on the lane, to deliver our rabbit feed. We had to go out last night to get a new freezer as our 20-yr-old one quit due to starting and stopping so much. The ice on the trees was an amazing sight in the headlights, looking like diamonds big as golf balls! Where the road winds down a long hill, huge tree branches were hanging down in the middle of the road. It was like running an obstacle course for about 2 mles, dodging and turning from one side of the road to the other. We are supposed to warm up to near 40 today and a little more the next, so we may get some thawing , but we hear more winter weather is on its way. This is such fun!

Dear hubby rigged up a power inverter unit that he used to have in the semi, to the battery out of the car, to run power to the laptop and the Hughes-Net so business can go on in the office as usual...... ALL day. Yep , back to work! You all have a great day. Stay warm, Kathleen in TX, Amy in OH, and of course my daughters,in PA.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Ice Age!!! (Pictures added)

I woke about 4am yesterday to snapping and cracking sounds, some loud enough to sound like firecrackers, others like gunshots. The ice storm had hit with brutal force! No electric, no internet, no dishwasher (yeah!!!) but we did have water b/c its county fed, needs no electric; and wood stove to heat and cook on, kerosene lantern for light, flash lights, candles, and plenty of food. And .... the generator we had bought in preparation of Y2K.... Here we are, almost 40 hrs after power outage, staying warm, cozy, well-fed and content!
We took showers early as the hot water was not going to last, then we checked the rabbit barn and found them just fine. Chickens doing okay too. I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures while hubby got to work and fired up the generator to keep our freezer and fridge going. The scenery was absolutely beautiful......

...........except, my little trees where my bird-feeding station is next to the house are all bowed and bent over, heavy with ice.

The little pin-oak tree in the front yard is laden down so heavy the branches almost touch the ground. Ice covers every thing! The barb-wire fence looks like pipes!
The gigantic trees about 50' from the house on the edge of the ravine are bowed down towards the house. There is snapping and cracking ocassionally down through the woods where trees branches are breaking off due to the weight of the ice.
Day 2
As of last night the power lines are down( as in "on the ground" down...), in the pastures on both sides of the driveway, across the neighbors driveway and ours. The electric pole at the end of our driveway had snapped off about 20' up, from the weight of ice on the lines. Michelle's electric pole is lifted out of the ground and balancing very precariously, held in place by 1 wire. It is that way all over our area for miles!
Day 3This morning was even worse as we got an added 2-3"snow to add to the weight of the ice on the trees. I wanted to take more pictures but thought twice about going near the heavy trees in my side yard! .
We will have internet about 4 hrs /day while the generator runs. But I can't post any pics (only write as I can only use lap-top now) as ...... guess what...... my new computer spewed its innerds b/c of power surge when generator first went on. We also lost 3 phones, DVD/VCR player, and battery rechargers for power tools. Those things can be replaced. I am glad of the way of life we have chosen to live, and that all the years leading up to now have us well equipped to deal with this weather. We are so blessed to work out of our own home. We can hunker down and wait out the storm.
In this neighborhood, we all have an eye out for each other.We can shower at Tracy's, and they are using our camping stove to cook on. Mike and Rita were out early cutting trees off the roads. They were given some kindling wood for their fireplace by Rodney who works installing hardwood floors. DH offered them a load of tree wood also for their fireplace. I am glad for the neighbors we have, and thankful to God for bringing us here to live. More later......

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Due to circumstances beyond our control... a tremendous ice storm, we are without power. I will post again as soon as the lights come back on!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bread Making

Whole-Wheat Sourdough bread and rolls

My grandmother and my mom both made great-tasting home-made bread, and I was about 23 when I decided I could do it too! Only I found out in short order that as closely as I followed the recipe my mom used, my bread just didn't turn out. Even the chickens had a hard time pecking it apart! One day my aunt had mercy on me and came over to help me out. She did it so simply!
Her basic recipe was to start 2 T yeast in a small bowl of warm water with a couple teaspoons sugar and let this work a few minutes till it was bubbly to "proof". While this sets, put
1 1/2 quarts warm water in a large bowl, add about half cup melted shortening, another half cup or so of sugar and a small handful salt. Mix this, then add the yeast mixture that had started to bubble and rise. Gradually add flour a couple cups at a time till it gets too stiff to stir in with a spoon. next turn it out on a heavily floured bread board and start working more flour in with your hands, kneading it as it becomes stiffer. Knead till it becomes smooth and elasticy, and not sticky. Put back in the cleaned, greased bowl, cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise till double. Punch down, shape into round ball and let rise again.. When risen this time, punch it down and divide into loaves and place in greased bread pans. Let rise till double. This recipe makes 6 to 8 loaves depending on the size of your pans. Bake at 350*for about half an hour or till golden and when thumped on the top it sounds hollow. Brush tops with butter and cool on wire racks. This is a very good-tasting basic recipe.
I began to look for ways to make my bread even more nutritious, so I began incorporating some oatmeal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, corn meal, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and other ingredients, such as alfalfa sprouts, herbs, parmesan cheese........ in any and all different combinations. I learned that as long as you have a basic recipe that works for you, you can experiment to your hearts content and it will usually turn out very good. There are so many variations in bread making that are so delicious.

Kitchen Queen Amish-built wood cook-stove

I went from baking in my gas oven to learning to bake in my wood cook-stove oven. However, on most present-day models the ovens are sealed so tightly that they don't let the moisture escape like gas or electric, so I compensate for that by leaving the oven door slightly ajar the last 10-15 mins of baking. My oven holds its temperature beautifully. I also turn the loaves around a little over half-way through the baking time. This gives more even browning and makes so it the bread is not lop-sided, because the side near the fire will rise slightly higher.

I became interested in sourdough bread and began experimenting with that. My friend Emily that I worked with, gave me some starter this past year that her sister had kept going for years. It made wonderful white bread, but not being content with that, delicious as it was, I started adding other ingredients to that recipe as well. Last week I made whole-wheat sourdough bread with a bit of cornmeal thrown in and a little molasses, just a couple tablespoons, to spice up the taste. I have also made some sourdough blueberry muffins using this same starter., and sourdough apple pancakes. Sourdough bread has a very unique flavor unlike other yeast breads, and you don't have to worry about keeping yeast on hand.

My next endeavour toward bread-making is to plant a hops vine this spring and learn to make my own yeast from the flowers! I think it would be quite interesting!