Spreading Yourself a Little Thin

I am one of those type A personalities who functions best when have 2 or 3 more tasks that I can reasonably do.  Right now I have one of those moments going on in my blogging life.   I took on challenge in the blogging world to post each day a new letter.   I chose to do this on my creative blog thinking it would be the easiest place to follow some kind of them for 26 posts.   I have just finished the half-way point and I am happy to report I have managed so far for the first 14 letters.   It has been harder than I imagined, but  it got me posting regularly there and also got me thinking about the whole idea of creativity.

It takes time to not only write a blog post but you commit to visiting five or six other folks who are participating in this challenge.   This has been a very good exercise because I have found lots of other neat bloggers, writing about lots of fun and new things out there.

The thing that I did not imagine would happen during this challenge is that it would leave my brain a little dry over here on my primary blog.   It was like I already shared something today and now you want me to share again?

So if you are looking for something a bit of of the box, or wonder why I have not been as active here are in the past stop over and visit my creative blog: Creative Play Without Limits

Siblings

sibling-quotes

Today is National Sibling Day, another made up holiday.   The best thing about this is that it gave me pause to think about my siblings.    I grew up in a blended family, though in though days we did not call it anything other than a family. We were all treated the same when you were in our household, same rules, same expectations, no one special.  A kid was a kid.

Today I want to thank my siblings because you made me the best I could be. You all contributed to what I am today.   I like who I have turned out to be and you, my siblings, were part of that.

Sometimes I was the oldest child and sometimes I wasn’t.  Sometimes I only had brothers and other times not.   It allowed me to take the best from multiple birth orders and incorporate it in to my being. You were there in the best of times and the worst of times. You taught me why it is important to be competitive, because if you aren’t you get what is leftover and no one wants only black jelly beans. I quickly learned life isn’t always fair, because I still think you were not above cheating to win,  and you don’t always get what you want.  You taught me empathy and compassion for others, when you shared your jelly beans when I lost for the umpteenth million time.   You taught me how to be strong and the feelings of helplessness.  You taught me to never ever give up and how to be a good leader and a graceful looser.   You taught me that fair and just is not always the same as equal.   You also taught me how to think and be creative because we were not all created equal.  You taught me  to use the skills I had because I would seldom be the tallest, fastest, have the experience or knowledge I thought I needed.    Together you taught me the value of teamwork and the importance of working together.   You taught me that we were never going to be the same, so respect differences.  With you I learned how to make do with what life dealt me, because you were not always going to share or help.

Some of this might sound a little whiny, but it isn’t meant to be.   I persevered not in spite of my siblings and because of them.   Being their sister I ended up with a great set of  life skills, a sense of reality and knowledge of my personal and civic responsibility that have served me well.   I would not want anyone else for my siblings.   Love you all.   I am telling you this today because someone moron in Washington DC declared today your holiday when they should have been fixing the budget, preventing war or saving the world.   Had that moron been in our family then adult or not I promise that one of the siblings would have called them and reminded them of what they had learned about life growing up and to get down to work and get things done.

Trying to Change the Outcome

In spite of all the changes going around here, we are still backyard chicken wranglers.   We decided to get some chicks again this year.

Last year’s chickens  for some reason were the worst foragers we have ever raised. We would open the door on the chicken run in the morning for them to head out and be free ranging chickens eating seeds, bugs and scratching in the dirt looking for all sorts of tasty morsels.   This was something every previous flock was gun hoe and very good at. Instead this flock insisted on staying in the coop, lazing around and eating chicken feed.   It made no sense to me,  they were breeds we had had before that had demonstrated their ability to get most of their diet in the summer out in the pasture.   I seriously thought about locking them out of the coop, but they would need access to lay eggs, so that was not really a feasible alternative.   It was frustrating as the locally milled organic food was not as inexpensive as commercial chicken chow was, and they went through more than twice as much as prior flocks have.  On top of that chickens who stay close to the coop make for more clean up.   If they free-range out in the pasture, no one cares where or how much poop a chicken can generate.   And chickens do generate poop.

The chicks are showing interest in eating the grasses already at two weeks.

The chicks are showing an interest in eating the grasses already at two weeks.

This year I have ten chicks and I am hoping for good free-range foragers who like to get out and look for their dinner as much and as long as they can.    To this end they are just two weeks old and I am already pulling little cheatgrass plants and feeding them to the new chicks roots and all.    The chicks are showing interest in picking at the grasses and do lots of chirping and digging around when I add that to their cage each day when I clean it.

If you are wondering who cares if they free range or not, here is a little information that you may not know about free-range, pasture raised eggs according to tests done by Mother Earth News comparing commercial eggs vs. the eggs from chickens that actually get out and free-range in the pasture.  My chickens who get outside daily to eat grass, dandelions, bugs, grubs, seeds, and what ever other goodies they can find and with a good dose of daily exercise produce eggs that have • 1⁄3 less cholesterol• 1⁄4 less saturated fat• 2⁄3 more vitamin A• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids• 3 times more vitamin E• 7 times more beta carotene.   Yes there is a difference in eggs.

Keep your fingers crossed that this year’s finds their natural instincts and the become the mighty forager’s that commercial chickens can not imagine is even possible.

 

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Jumping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Those of you who follow my blog, know I am at a crossroad, presently being unemployed.    During this time I have been  doing some contract work, and friends have called telling me about jobs out there they feel I would be a good fit for. I am so blessed for their support during this time.   Yet I feel that this situation would be wasted if I did not take time to really reflect on what should be next, instead of immediately  jumping back into what has been a sure thing and comfortable for the last 30 years.  It may be that one moment in time to really start something new or explore things I have always wanted to try, but fear held me back. The fear of the unknown.   The fear of failure.   Fear of how I’d feel not making a regular financial contribution to the household.

RangerSir and I have had many discussions about the idea of a temporary job during this time.   We have weighed the pros and cons.   The pros won.   Since that decision, I have spent time looking at the temporary and seasonal jobs out there.   I have been researching the positions, companies and interviewing.  The good news is I have secured a temporary seasonal job.   It means that this job will have a beginning and an end.   So there is no lock-in for this job if I hate it; I just have to last the season.   If I like it I have just added something to my resume.  It will use many of my skills I already have, but just as importantly it will require skills I don’t have.   This will feed my need for life long learning.  It is an entry-level, worker-bee job.   It means I have a job to do, and I will be responsible for me and my performance, that is it.   I can’t remember the last time this was true.  It feels very good. It is a four-tens, so I will still have three days a week to enjoy summer.    I will be on the road most of the time, again something I have not done for years, but exploring the back roads of Montana sounds fine for the summer.   Finally it will supply me with a regular paycheck, that I discover I need.

I admit the whole prospect of this summer job is almost frightening because it is so far out of my comfort zone.  It could be a colossal failure, in so many different ways.    Yet I find I am really excited to do something different and not to just wonder but actually know what something completely different will feel like. It will provide me with the time and space to really think about what next, while making a financial contribution to household.

Not everyone gets this chance.   Not everyone sees this chance when it happens to them.   I was lucky in that I got the chance and recognized it it.   Thanks to my friends, family and blog followers who have been there with words of encouragement during this time of great unrest.     Now on to the next great adventure.

Watching TV when you have no TV

We are a bit of an unusual family in that we have no broadcast television.   By that I mean that we have no over-the -air television, no cable, nor satellite television to watch.  This is not to say that we don’t watch TV and we possibly watch too much TV as thousands, perhaps millions of Americans do as well.    Having no broadcast television  makes our TV watching somewhat different than most in that we can never turn on TV and surf the channels and pick the best of what is currently broadcasting.   For us deciding what to watch on TV is a an active and  conscious choice.     We must put an effort in to deciding what to watch.   The household mood is the overriding factor as we choose what we will watch, along with how much time we are willing to commit.  We can pull out a DVD with a movie or a TV series we have purchased and watch that for the second, third, or possibly even more times than we can count.  If the night is right we can stream something with Amazon Prime.   Our high-speed internet is questionable at best and if all the other neighbors decide to stream too, it is instead slow-speed internet, we understand the limits of the bandwidith.   We never imagined that we be streaming TV but we do.

We are very much behind the times because of TV watching limitations.   We know what we have seen in hotel rooms and as a result are pretty sure what we are not missing.   Yet we hear the buzz and wonder sometimes what we are missing.

Our most recent discovery on Amazon Prime is Downton Abby.   Now I know millions of of you are already huge fans, but we haven’t had PBS since we left Michigan.  We have finished episode one and are working our way on episode two (our high-speed became slow-speed part way through and so we stopped for tonight).   It is so different from the Master Piece Theater of old with Alister Cook, where a long series would take up a month of Sunday nights.      I sure wish that we had found this show during the long nights of winter, because the nice weather is coming on in Montana and there is much more to do besides watch TV.   In spite of that I am wishing for a snow/rain just plain nasty evening so RangerSir and I can binge  watch the down and catch up with the rest of you.   TV or not, good shows seem to always find an audience.

One of This and Two of That – Chicks!

A sign of the times...Chick Days.

A sign of the times…Chick Days.

Every year at this time there is a phenomenon going on called chick days.   It is when local tractor/ranch supply stores bring in baby chicks for sale.   Most of the ranch supply stores bring in an assortment of breeds which proves to be a great challenge for me.    I am one of those folks who wants my chickens to be cute, no standard white, red or black for me.   I find myself buying more than I should and it is not because baby chicks are cute.   No I imagine what the feathers on all the breeds will look like and get caught up in the possibilities down the road.   This year I ended up with ten chicks.   I was planning on six….tops eight.   I ended up with gold lace wyandotte, silver lace wyandotte, light Brahma, buff Orpington and barred rocks this year.   Time will tell how they all fare and how I fare with my choices this year.

In the next couple of days I will update my backyard chicken page and get some pictures up here for all you chicken owners and want to be owners

Crazy for Corned Beef

OK that title is a little crazy, because I would not say we are crazy for corned beef, but we do enjoy it at our house.    We live near Butte, Montana a town rich in Irish history.  According the 2010 US census it is the most Irish town in the country with over 23% of the people having Irish heritage, as opposed to Boston where just under 20% of the folks claim their Irish roots.    I could talk about the crazy St. Patrick’s Day traditions, but being the foodie I am I will skip over it all to the Irish-American dish corned beef.   I call it Irish-American because it did not come from Ireland, but became a staple of the Irish who immigrated to the USA.

I grew up eating corned beef and cabbage.  The beef my mother bought in the Midwest was that nasty stuff you bought in a sealed plastic bag with brine and pickling spices.   It was salty, fatty, and well-preserved in that cryopack bag.   Not much nice I can say about it except it was dinner and it filled our stomachs.    Here in Butte you will find that the local meat shop actually brines the brisket in their own recipe.   The brisket here is fresh and lean.  If you have never had an opportunity to eat fresh corned beef it is  a completely different animal than that thing from the plastic bag.

We bought our corned beef on Saturday and we could not wait until today to fix it.    We made the “traditional” dish of corned beef and cabbage on Sunday.   Our version is a bit of an updated recipe.   We highly recommend the cooking of your corned beef with Guinness, though in a pinch a good stout will work.    We have also learned that unless you like your veggies cooked to mush they should be cooked separately in some of the juices.  A favorite recipe for this can be found on the website Steamy Kitchen, and here is a link to the recipe we use.

Guinness Corned Beef with Cabbage

So after doing the corned beef and cabbage we had some leftovers that we made in to a chowder to go with the chilly rainy day we had today.   It was a new recipe for us Corned Beef and Cabbage Chowder from the website The Foodie Affair.   It was a flexible recipe that could be made with or without leftovers.   We opted for the leftover version using our potatoes and carrots along with the broth and corned beef from Sunday.   We added some fresh onion, celery, some more cabbage and beef stock along with the milk base.   I serious had some reservations but I can tell you this is going to be a new favorite with us.   Both RangerSir and I agreed it was well season and worth repeating, though not as often as we would like due to the scarcity of corned beef.

Corned beef and Cabbage Chowder

What did you cook for St.  Patrick’s Day?   Did you include corned beef in your day?   If so how did it turn out?    If it wasn’t so great, might I suggest you bookmark this page for next year.