Friday, October 31, 2008

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After carving the pumpkins yesterday I saved the seeds to be roasted. I ran out of time last night so this afternoon I roasted them up so the kids and I could snack on them. Traditionally, I have only roasted and salted them (which is yummy) but this year I thought I would do something a bit different. I made a candied version that the kids much preferred:

Candied Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
4 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until dry and toasted. Larger seeds may take longer.

In a clean bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of white sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside. Heat the butter and remaining sugar in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sugar is melted. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir about 45 seconds. Pour seeds into the bowl with the spiced sugar and stir until coated. Allow to cool before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (if they last that long).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Fall has truly set in here (as much as Fall is in NC). The weather has been getting cooler and cooler the past few weeks. I have been donning a fleece jacket when out doing chores even. Inside the house has been maintaining a comfortable temp up until a few days ago when it started getting cool enough that I had to start wearing my slippers around the house and wearing long sleeve shirts more often then not.

We don't use our central heat. The house is set up for propane but we don't even keep a tank here. Instead we have a wood stove that heats the house. With the front hall project still unfinished we had stacks of boxes in front of the wood stove. Today I decided I needed to fire it up for the season. I moved all the "stuff" from the front of the wood stove, cleaned out the old ashes and wiped all the dust off from it. It was so nice to get that first fire started. It didn't take long to chase away the cool damp air in the house. This evening we are nice and toasty.

After the house started to warm back up the kids and I set about carving our Halloween pumpkins. I cut the lids into them and the kids did all the seed scraping by themselves. Evan, at 6 years old, carved out his own scary monster design. McKayla, at only 4 years old, carved out the eyes and nose and drew on a mouth that I then cut out for her. She then drew on whiskers to create her dog pumpkin. I went pretty simple this year and carved out a kitty cat face. We all had a fun time!

Evan with his scary monster pumpkin.

McKayla with her doggy pumpkin (before whiskers).

Monster, Mommy's Kitty Cat Pumpkin and Doggy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just a little snip...

We took our two new cats, Fringe and Jet, to the vets today to get their neutering done. The surgeries were included in the adoption fee we just needed to get them scheduled and done. All went well and they are home again this evening sleeping off the remainder of the anesthesia.

I will continue to keep them inside the house for the remainder of the week to heal up completely. This weekend I will give them some time outside to explore. I plan to have them as indoor/outdoor cats and hopefully that will keep them safer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My big announcement...

I guess it is about time that I spilled the beans to my blogging readers (are you really out there?).

I am happy to announce that we will be adding a new member to our family! Today I am officially 29 weeks pregnant with our third child. It will be a little girl... and no we don't have a name yet. All is going well so far. My doctor is planning on performing a c-section (my third) at 39 weeks so I can now count the weeks left on my fingers! For those not good at math that means sometime the first week of January!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Cats

Every since we lost our little grey cat Sweet Pea in July I have been missing having a cat around the farm. They are wonderful entertainment plus they have the very important job of keeping the rodent population under control. With Sweet Pea gone and cooler weather set upon us I have noticed more signs of mice in the barns and even on our front porch. It was time to repopulate with some new felines!

The kids and I drove over to the Animal Protection Society of Caswell County in Yanceyville, NC. It is about on hour's drive but it was the closest animal shelter I could find to us. I had previewed the cats they had available online the night before so I had an idea of the ones I was interested in. On the drive over I told the kids that we were NOT going to be getting a young kitten and that we were only getting two cats.

If you have never been to a shelter and seen the rows and rows of pets waiting to be adopted it is a heartbreaking sight. I looked over the cats and quickly passed by cages of kittens (kittens get adopted fairly quickly and I needed mousers). I found the individual cats I had seen online and dismissed a few as not being a good fit for us. McKayla fell in love with two black cats housed together and Evan wanted to bring home a red tabby kitten but I kept being drawn to two young brown tabby males. There was nothing particularly special about them in appearance but they both continued to reach out for me pulling me to them.

I did a few more passes around the rooms and had a hard time leaving a few others behind but I finally settled on the two tabby boys, Fringe (6 months old) and Jet (8 months old). They were not siblings but to the untrained eye could have been twins.

When I was filling out the paperwork for adoption the coordinator told me that she was so happy that I was taking these two boys. They both had been at the shelter for over two months and with room running short they may not have been available for much longer (this is not a no-kill shelter). I am so pleased that Fringe and Jet asked me to take them home. Now just to figure out how to tell them apart. :)

and Fringe

Monday, October 13, 2008

Final day of fun...

Today was my mom's last day of her visit. She flew out this afternoon. But we packed in a full day of fun.

First we stopped at Snip-Its in Raleigh to have McKayla's hair cut short. Except for a trim that Daddy did last month to remove the worst of her split ends McKayla had never had the length of her hair cut since birth and she is now over 4 years old! It has been a chore for some time combing the Rastafarian look from the back of her head. It was time for it to go. She ending up with an adorable wedge cut where the front was at her chin line and the back was layered up shorter still. It was adorable and McKayla loved it!

After the hair cut we traveled just a few miles to Ganyard Hill Farm where they have a wonderful agritourism setup. You can pick pumpkins, walk through a corn maze, take a hay ride, pick cotton, etc.. We had a fun time and we were all hot and tired by the time we left.

We had just enough time for a quick bite to eat before getting mom to the airport for her journey home again.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Roosters... what are they good for?

Eating! And with nine young roosters from this springs hatch it was time to start the process of butchering them. I managed to get two of them done today and they are now resting in the fridge for 48 hours before I cook them up and store the shredded meat in the freezer to use in those busy day dinners.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Grammie comes to visit.

We drove down to the Raleigh/Durham airport tonight to pick up my mom. She flew down from Maine to spend a few days here at the farm visiting her grandchildren. It should be a fun visit.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Cows on the loose... again!

Sometimes it is a blessing that I am a night owl.

It was 11:15pm last night when I started walking around the house turning off lights and locking up. When in the kitchen I happened to look out the window over the sink and was surprised by the sight of Cherry Blossom, one of our Irish Dexter cows, grazing on the freshly mowed lawn in front of the house. I had an immediate feeling of dread!

So, after slipping on my boots I headed outside to see what was going on. I walked right up to her and took her by the halter (this is the exact reason I do two things with the cows 1. they always wear halters and 2. I routinely give them treats when they come up to me so they never run from me). Only after I had my hand on her halter did I happen to notice the other large dark objects moving around closer to the road... all the cows were out having a midnight snack. The great thing about me having Cherry Blossom in hand is that she is the boss cow of the herd. As she and I walked down to the barn I could hear the cows behind me running to catch up with us. I was expecting the gate in the barn to be open as their way of escape but it was closed up tight. In fact our donkey Inora was on the other side quite unhappy that she was left behind. I secured CB in the cow stall and could see our bull Chuck coming in the barn door and Riona, our other cow, stick her head in behind him. I grabbed a few leaves of hay and enticed Chuck into the stall with Riona coming behind him and Nick, Riona's 10 month old bull calf, fast behind her.

With all four back in the stall happily munching on hay I walked around the barn (in the dark as I didn't think to grab a flashlight on the way out of the house) to check the gate by the goat barn. Unfortunately, that gate was secure too! That really only left the electric fence as the weak link in the fence. Back up to the barn to get the electric fence tester then back out behind the barn (still in the dark) to check the fence voltage... it had none! We run our fence off of a solar panel with a battery backup. Normally the system works great as the solar panel keeps the fence running during the day and charges the battery and then the fence in charged by the battery at night. It is a system that for the most part works on its own and I don't think about it at all. So, at almost midnight I had to figure out what to do for tonight. At first I thought I would just move them to another of our four pastures, it didn't take long to think that through and realise it wouldn't work for reasons different for each pasture.

I needed to get this fence up and working again. I went back up to the house to get a flashlight so I could see what I was doing. First I tried our backup battery with no results. I ended up taking the vehicle booster pack out of the Suburan and hooking it up directly to the fence charger. Immediately I heard the familiar snapping noise of a fully charged fence. Tired, I headed back up to the house and just hopped the cows would still be in the fence come morning.

So, thanks to my night owl status I managed to fix a bad situation... gosh knows where they would have been by this morning if I hadn't noticed them last night.