Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Summer Memories of Ordinary Days

You may not believe me, but the pies and bread above were made by an 8 year old! Yes, I think Nina has the baking gene. Check this out.
Nina has the touch when kneading bread. She doesn't over-handle but can really work the bread. This is sourdough rosemary. Yum!

As you can see, she made 2 batches. I oversaw the measuring but she mixed and kneaded.
The same day we made two pies, one peach and one raspberry/strawberry. Here is Nina mixing the pie dough.

Now this is the most impressive for me. Nina is crimping the pie edge. This is the second pie so with just this little bit of practice, the second pie looks like a professional did it!

Here she is putting on the egg wash and cinnamon sugar before baking. It won't be too many years and she'll be making this pie on her own.

Another day was cookie baking day. We made chocolate chip and oatmeal nut raisin. All the kids got involved at one step or another but Nina was in all the way.
The house smells like a bakery and the counters are covered with cookies.
Jake came around in time for licking the beaters!
So after the hot kitchen, putting the sprinkler under the swings seemed the perfect refresher! Nina and Jake swinging sideways into the water.

We planned to go to town for a movie this afternoon, so the girls decided to wash my car. Sasha started scrubbing off the country road dirt and dust. Buddy is enjoying their company but staying away from the water.

Nina is scrubbing the caked on mud. They took their job seriously and did a first rate job.

Mark and I took the kids to the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer for an afternoon of fun. We stopped for lunch at Freddy's before going to the museum.  The kids had a marvelous time, especially in the play "pioneer cabin" full of furniture, clothes, dolls, pot and pans, dollhouses and old time games. We toured the 1890's Railroad Town and they had fun but wanted to go back to the "pioneer cabin" to finish out the afternoon.
The girls tried on all the prairie dresses.
Sasha sweeping up the play cabin.

The girls tried on period hats in the milliners shop in Railroad Town. And we all enjoyed old fashioned cold drinks at the cafe.
We got to take care of Lucas one afternoon which was a real treat for Nina.

The swings got a daily workout. I use them too when there is no company. All adults should have a swing. It's a lovely thing to rest and be in the moment.

The last night of their visit I made fruit dumplings, a Czech treat, which the kids consider a special treat. Their mom is from the Czech Republic so they enjoy several of the classic Czech dishes regularly.

Being at a different place makes the most ordinary things fun. We enjoyed many ordinary days but somehow, together with our special young friends, they became extraordinary.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Childhood Memories In The Making

We've been enjoying our second summer with Sasha, Nina and Jake. We picked them up in Omaha and gave them an opportunity to blow off some steam on the Wagon Train sculptures before the three hour ride home. They had a blast as you can see. The figures are all bigger than life size and the kids climbed on every one! 
Fearless Nina
Riding on the pack horse
CHARGE! Sasha riding the yoke of the oxen
Jake climbed on every wagon and animal in this
wagon train. Amazingly athletic for six years old.

Across the street from the Wagon Train in Pioneer Park are a herd of buffaloes running up the street; including one cutting through the corner of the building...
Sasha on the unusual buffalo!

Nina riding on the buffalo calf running up the street;
see Jake on the buffalo charging behind Nina...
...All three riding the charging buffalo - and barely
holding on!
When we arrived at the ranch, we first had to meet the new animals ---
Jake and Nina meeting the miniature donkey along
with Buddy

Duley showing off for the girls. He is our little
colt born this spring at the ranch. Pretty handsome
isn't he?

Duley and his Mom, Boon
And then it's time to explore the rest of the ranch and begin VACATION in NEBRASKA...
The swings get a good workout...

Uncle Mark and Jake playing checkers...

And even mowing is fun when on vacation! Right, Sasha?

And every day is filled with fun and activities and fun activities.
To Be Continued...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Late Summer is County Fair Time

I have been having a great time 'working' the local county fairs. So far this summer, I have worked 3 county fairs. One, Howard County Fair, is my county and I worked two others in the area as well to help accumulate volunteer hours for my Master Gardener requirement.
I helped in the horticulture area where young 4H-ers brought in the vegetables or flowers that they grew for judging. My role was to accept the entries, make sure all the paperwork was filled out, and get the entry to the judge.  Once judged, I would put the correct ribbon on the entry and prepare for display.

We would encourage the kids to interview with the judge. One exchange was with an 8 year old girl who brought in a huge teacup pot with a tiny but very healthy snake plant in it. She told the judge 'my Dad died and this plant is from his funeral. It wasn't doing so good, so I decided to save it. All the big leaves died but I helped these little leaves live. I love this plant'. She told the judge what she did to revive it and care for it. She received a Purple Ribbon.
Floriculture display at county fair
cucumbers ready for judging
melons and pumpkins sporting ribbons
The 4H program for kids is so impressive. The kids here who are members and participate at the fair are overall so responsible; and have so much fun showing their talents at the fair. Our friends grandkids show pigs, horses and cattle. There are categories for sheep, goats and chickens. They are responsible for taming them for show, feeding them so they grow healthy, and grooming them so they are pretty at the show. Lots of work and learning in that process. The same for horticulture and all the other categories. Yesterday we had very young children bring in rockets that they built and actually set off successfully, they proudly brought things they crafted from wood such as step stools and display shelves and pretty boxes. I saw quilts, clothes and home items hand sewn by young people and tons of cookies, cakes and bread beautifully displayed. I'm a FAN!
Judging baked goods - Now that is a great job!
In a couple weeks I get to work the Nebraska State Fair. I am so excited about that new adventure. And, I'll be looking for the kids who won Purple and State Fair ribbons from county fair to see how they do at the State. Very exciting times in the country right now.

Check out your local County or State Fair, you might just have fun,

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Guineas Update

Four of the guineas are watching over the hen
in the nest under the tree in the weeds & saplings
We have 5 guineas left and thought we were about to have more. A guinea hen had been laying one egg per day for about 14 days. Then she began sitting on the nest full time to begin the hatch. We checked her nest & counted the eggs when she left it to eat and drink. She chose an area under a tree in the middle of the front yard so I quit mowing around it so not to disturb her. We were so excited that she chose a place so close to the house which we thought a bit safer than in the high grass in the fields.

The 4 other guineas had been closely sticking by her all the time she was sitting on the nest. Even while she was laying her daily egg, the 4 would sit by her in the grass. It was amazing to watch.

Then one morning we went out to check on the nest and it was raided during the night. All but 5 eggs were destroyed! So Mark picked up the eggs and put them in the incubator. We'll see if we can hatch them successfully. It is less work when momma raises them but we'll do what we can.

One can't get too cocky around the country. You never know what is going to happen. This is the type of thing we are hoping Buddy will help prevent in the future.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The "DOTS" News

The two 'flocks'...the rooster(?) is with the pullet flock on the left
For those of you new to this blog, I call my hens the DOTS. It started with my original Wyandotte hens since I didn't want to name individual hens because they are free range so there is danger of losing them to varmints. Then I painted the chicken coop with polka dots so all the hens are now known as The Dots!

Well, we either have a big boned hen with huge feet and a stately tail or a rooster keeping a low profile. No crowing, this one. S/He evidently took notice of what happened to the previous two roosters who were whisked away one day. (Traded to our friends who gave us the Rhode Island Reds, if you recall.) Both Mark and I think it is a rooster but we're waiting to see...don't want to be too judgemental if s/he just doesn't look so feminine. We're just looking for good layers no matter how they look.
This is a picture before we traded the 2 roosters
(the black & white barred birds). The third b/w barred
bird now in question is the one in the middle above.
I'm convinced it is a rooster...just waiting for the crow! 
The pullets should start to lay any day now. If there is only one chocolate brown egg then we know we have only one French Marans pullet left- and the rooster is outed. I found a source for French Marans in Lincoln so hope to add to the flock within a few weeks.

The hens are free range but before bedtime they
gather in the pen to get some last minute food, water
and scratch. They are in the Dot House by 9PM during
the summer and 8PM during the winter.