25 November 2009
The menu is as follows:
broccoli with feta cheese sauce
green chile sauce
peach pie with custard
Indeed, it's a Happy Thanksgiving for us!
22 November 2009
Physalis alkekengi (franchetii) Chinese Lanterns
"These plants are often simply called physalis, a name derived from the Greek word for bladder. As a member of the nightshade family, physalis is related to tomatoes, peppers and petunias.
The ribbed, lanternlike bladders are actually enlarged sepals that have fused together to envelop the forming fruit. Tear one open and you will discover the fruit, resembling a cherry tomato. Inside the smooth, shiny skin the thick flesh is embedded with a rich harvest of seeds.
The bright husk guards the fruit as it dehydrates in the fall air. Gradually, it becomes paper thin and begins to break down to a delicate, lacy veiling. When this covering finally rips open, the seeds are sufficiently light and dry to be scattered by the wind."
Thanks to Mad Professor Palmer for taking Mr. Fuzzy's color image and transforming it into a magical monochrome. The farm has other pesky members of the nightshade family, including horse nettles. All are invasive and very difficult to eradicate.
20 November 2009
Oh, yeah, and the other thing that happened is that Mama changed our kibbles so we get junk food ALL the time now, not just when we run out of the fancy stuff and Mama stops at the grocery for something to tide us over until the Hippie Store gets the other food in again. The babies had some tummy trouble so we can't have food with fish guts in it any more. :( I liked the fishy food! The good news is they are feeling all better now so my little students can study with me again. Buster and Ann are taking lessons from me on how to be therapy cats. They're pretty darn good already! Figures.... they're the same kind of color as me. ORANGE CAT'S ARE THE BEST!
OK, this is getting long now. I have so much to tell you but it's fall and that means we're having to keep the neighborhood clear of evil mice. Some of the neighbors don't have cats so we go to there houses and kill the mice there too. Mr. Harmon is nice and doesn't have a dog so Jack goes there a lot and I go all the way to the end of the road and help out because their cat died a few weeks ago. It's a LOOONG walk so I'm pretty tired after my twice daily patrols. that's why I haven't written in so long. The good news is we've been successful- no mice in the house AT ALL so far!
Hope you're having fun wherever you are.
Chief Therapist, Stratheden Farm
PS- Here's a picture of the last mouse we let Mama catch. Now we just dispatch them in the field because there are so many we don't have to share any more.
18 November 2009
All summer we've been little more than the hands that turn the door knob to our six adult cats. We've gotten hardly a sideways glance from four of them since warm weather settled in for the summer. Even our sweet Jack Tar has been less than cuddly. But now...
It's the season for love. Chetworth comes looking for a head rub, Lilly and Jack jump into our laps for a good wash and nap, Grover insists upon being picked up, and MamaCat has suddenly taken to dancing and singing for us. She's even started letting us pet her again!
That's right... MamaCat, our semi-feral lady who hides from everyone and every thing, has suddenly decided she likes head rubs. May I remind you that this is the cat I haven't been able to touch at all for at least eight months despite feeding her for three years?
So, despite heading into the season when we can't turn over in bed for the 100 pounds of cat that suddenly appears with the cold I'm happy. My kitties are all getting along and they're all telling me they love us. Even MamaCat.
17 November 2009
Once again, the mountain weather has proven 'versatile.' After three sunny days 70F, it is back to fog and cool. The high today was 45F. Perfect for all of the deer hunters in this part of Virginia, which is fairly over run by the deer. Two friends have collided with deer in the last week... the most expensive way to bag a buck if I so myself.
Disclaimer: this image was made along the Blue Ridge Parkway, not on Stratheden farm. Looking at it carefully, mayhaps we were magically transported back to bonnie Scotland for a few miles.
16 November 2009
15 November 2009
He has been neutered and is ready to be adopted (yes, he is an official foster cat of the Humane Society). Hodge wants to be indoors and never far from a human who can love on him. When we open the front door, he immediately starts to make muffins, he is so happy to see us. It will not be easy to seem him leave one day.
14 November 2009
11 November 2009
As in any self-respecting Veterans' day parade, it began with the Cadet Corps in their crisply ironed brilliant white trousers.
There was a marching unit of World War II veterans and I am most pleased to report a rolling peal of applause followed them down the street. Floyd has not forgotten their sacrifices.
Nor have they forgotten their fallen comrades; the only float I have ever seen which commemorated those killed in action followed the veterans. Most men respectfully removed their hats as it passed by.
You could not have asked for better weather for a parade- it was brilliant sun, about 70 degrees and perfectly still. Hard to believe it was November (today it has rained 2 inches and the high was 44F, more typically November).
The Humane Society volunteers walked with (or carried) their foster dogs, hoping to find good homes for these deserving canines.
08 November 2009
07 November 2009
He seems fine loose in the house - which is still more than we can say for six month old Rufus. Girlie, Lilly and Buster are untroubled by being a few feet away from him - and he has no aggression toward them. While we ate our lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches (on Mrs. Fuzzy's home baked rye bread), he just laid at our feet under the table. It is as if he has always been here.
Rocky has an oversize head, svelte tiny waist and short little legs. His coat is a really deeply colored brindle with dashes and splashes of white. He looks like a dog right out of a Hogarth engraving.
05 November 2009
It is hard to imagine just what constitutes raccoon logic but they 'test bit' about 50-75 of those lead balls. As you know, pure lead is fairly soft... and they left their little tooth marks pressed into those balls.. Those balls are now useless and will be melted and re-cast.
As a final act of cleaning and re-ordering the shop, the cat door which had been installed for the convenience of our cat herd is now boarded up by 1/4 inch plywood. Sorry cats, I'll miss your company.
Last week, most precious readers, was, well, one that won't repeat anytime soon, with luck.
Our water pressure had been irregular for months and with our erstwhile plumber, Bill of Appalachian Plumbing here for another issue, we asked him about it. His best guess was that the pump was wearing out. As it evolved, he was prophetic - in another hour, it died for good. In the state of perpetual and delusional optimism, we hoped it would miraculously come back to life but by nightfall, we knew in our hearts (and wallets) that it was not to be.
Bill came by the next day and confirmed that the relays and other parts of the system were not the problem. He came back with an assistant to pull the pump but with the weight of 420 feet of water filled pipe, they could not lift it. The local well man was summoned but bowed out - he had the flu. The next closest well service was 35 miles away and responded they would come the next afternoon... but their previous task proved more of a challenge than estimated and they did not arrive until Thursday. By sunset Thursday, we had running water once more - and a $3,000 bill, sigh.
Among other discoveries during the process: (1) the pump was sitting on the well bottom and that explained why so much particulate matter clogged the filter, (2) the fittings were galvanized rather than brass, a health-hazard, (3) there were no torque mounts on the pump so every time it came on, the torque caused it to beat itself against the well pipe, (4) the pressure tank in the house was about half the size it should be and thus the pump came on more frequently. Like almost everything else about this house, the original work was substandard. It leaves us to speculate what the next failure will be and the cost of repairing it correctly.
We thank our most marvelous neighbors, John & Nettie and George & Maureen for filling up our water containers for four days and allowing us to use their shower. The bad news is the house is poorly made; the good news is that we have the finest neighbors that can be imagined.