Welcome to my wonderful, glorious, shiny, happy, no obligations, totally, completely and unexpectedly free week. This is the thing I wait and long for… always. A week with nothing in it. This is a close as I get to vacation. I am a stay at home mom, and I home-school. Any holidays we have as a family include being a stay-at-home Mom so vacations are just every day life but with the added stress of keeping everyone entertained including a husband.
This NEVER happens!
Never. Ever. Ever.
Of course my kids are here working on their education and I naturally have a list of things to catch up on… all of which I am studiously ignoring as I relax in the sanctuary of my home office in my Grammie’s old chair knitting Meritance and reading a load of total trash. As befitss a do-nothing week I am joining up with Ginny rather late in the day for a Yarn Along.
Living in the sticks is challenging. We have no cell reception. If the power goes out it can stay off for days and days while PG&E search the hills for the fault. Our cars need new tires… a lot.
BUT we also have found ourselves in an amazing community. We know every one of our neighbors and if we need some support (or they do) then there is always someone who has the knowledge or time that can help. One of our neighbors used his tractor to plow our field the first year we were here; in turn when they were away and a tree fell on their drive M. went up and cut it up and moved it off the drive so when they got home late they would come home to a clear road. We Llama-sit occasionally for another neighbor and in turn they chicken-sit for us. Equally one of our neighbors give E. a lift to her volunteer program in Boonville and we have yet to find something that can repay that generosity.
So last week when we got the call from one neighbor about another who had been bereaved in January and just desperately needed to be rid of a Bantam hen and her chick to ease her worries: of course we said yes. We really aren’t Bantam people (useless pet chicken anyone?) but the need was there and we had the space and time to help.
So it is that Olive and little Pit joined our farm. She is a masterful escape artist and a little firecracker with other chickens but she is sweet and placid with us. We are having to keep her in a separate enclosure as one of the white Delaware took an instant dislike to Olive and while she has that little chick Olive has no intention of making peace. The younger chickens are still in the broody-hen hutch so Olive and Pit are in a rabbit cage adapted slightly for her needs.
I know she adds to our daily chore list but really that’s what living in the country is about: we look after each-other and in the end our lives are all the richer for it.
Les Trois Soeurs by Sweet Little Wood are in my Etsy shop.
Les Trois Soeurs are beautiful and elegant earrings designed to look like glass but with a light and easy feel in your ears.
They are designed and handmade in Northern California by my whole family using quality materials and an eye for precision using a unique process and finished with crystal beads. High quality silver-filled hooks ensure a beautiful but affordable finish without the risk of allergic reactions to metal. The resin finish allows light opaquely through the jewelry like stained glass. They are always more beautiful in person!
I also want to say congratulations to Donna of Knit1Spin2 (the recipient of a free pair of Les Trois Soeurs earrings) and thank you for the plug for my Etsy shop on your blog!
M. and I had a fantastic time away while our children learned the value of having an unpaid slave about the house who does 90% of the house work without being asked… yeah it feels great to have your 16 year old admit she is so glad your back because being Mom is not as easy as it looks!
I would like to say that my worrying was totally justified! I am not kidding that I got 2 out of 5… almost: First of all a man DID break down and knock at our door while we were away… fortunately he wasn’t a psychopath… he just wanted to call AAA… unfortunately K. E. and J. didn’t do the things we had prearranged in case a random stranger showed up at the door. SIGH.
And second: one of our chickens was taken. We don’t know when but we suspect it was at night as one of the Delaware hens was particularly stupid (for a chicken): she would sit on the roosting bar all day and then get stuck outside the hutch when the automatic door closed at night. The girls forgot to check and didn’t do a count in the evening… anyhow we found a mess of feather’s outside the hutch door and a path to where the varmint dug under the enclosure leaving some of it’s fur behind on the barbed wire. So one stupid hen down and one coyote/fox/raccoon/bobcat well fed.
On the bright side we came home to find the baby rabbits had opened their eyes and are so adorable!
M. and I went to Chico. Its a beautiful town (in the middle) and a bog standard San Joaquin town on the outskirts. M. and I were pretty happy to enjoy the time we had and explore some of the green (and sometimes not green) spaces.
Sadly Bidwell Mansion was not open when I was there but I enjoyed looking around the grounds none the less.
Afterwards we drove out to Oroville and visited the lake and dam. The situation in Lake Oroville is pretty horrifying: so little water! So take note LA county… your water supply is low… stop watering those darn lawns!
En-route home we stopped of at an awesome little flea-market where I picked up a collection of Spode Fairy Dell china: $20. I am so thrilled!
I was happy to be home and in my own bed but I do miss being away just a little: the hotel room had the most enormous bath in the main bedroom suite without any children knocking to use the restroom, and I didn’t have to think about feeding anyone for awhile. Oh well, back to being the unpaid house slave.
I make our own bread.
We eat bread almost daily: sometimes two loaves a day. In total I usually make about 30 loaves a month using about 70 lbs of flour and I can guarantee you if this were a difficult thing to do I would not be doing it!! I only buy two loaves of bread from the super market each month and I put them in the freezer for those days when we need bread to eat but I need the extra time more.
Home made bread is much cheaper: even buying the local organic flour from our Co-op I save a lot of money on bread. Home made bread is so delicious even the artisan stuff doesn’t compare to a hot loaf fresh out of the oven. You can make an organic real food loaf for less than half the price of the shop bought stuff with none of the hidden ingredients. If you find a recipe that works for you its easy to tweak it till it suits your tastes perfectly! For example: M. likes his bread with a little sweetness but when my mother in law is over I bake loaves with no sugar added because she doesn’t like the sweetness.
Until I hurt my back and couldn’t knead the loaves I was doing it all by hand. My back forced me into making the decision to get a stand mixer, I’m super happy to have the mixer but trust me that your bread will come out just as nice (maybe even better) and takes only 5 minutes more kneaded by hand. There is a lot of scary snobbery about bread making: You don’t need to be a baker or wonder chef to do it! You don’t need a special oven that gets to extra ordinary temperatures! And you don’t need to devote half a day to the task! This recipe makes two 2lb loaves and is super versatile and takes 2 hours start to finish (1 hour of which you aren’t even doing anything to it). Later in the week I will share with you some variations on the recipe that we use all the time to make pizza bases, cinnamon/pumpkin rolls, and naan bread.
550 ml (1/2 qt) warm (to touch) water
2 Tbs dry yeast
2 Tbs sugar or Honey
1 kg (2 lbs 3 oz) bread flour (Do weigh it out- it is far more accurate than measuring in cups) I use different flour mixes depending on what I want the loaf to be like but if you use less than 2/3 white bread you need to up the water content of the loaf and increase it rising time. I like to substitute 300 grams of white flour for 200 g home-ground whole wheat, 50 g chia seed, and 50 g oat bran and add another 30 mls water.
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil