Sunday, March 31, 2013

Llama Progress

Dancer and Spark have made great progress with the llamas in only two days.  When the kids go to pet them, they don't flinch anymore. 
Llamas make a hmmm sound like what you would say to someone when you really aren't listening but, you want to sound like you are listening.  Or imagine when you are reading a book and someone keeps talking to you and they can't figure out that you are reading and they should give up and find something else to do.  That kind of hmmm.  We read that they make that sound when they are tense, stressed or nervous.  At first they were hmmming the whole time we were out with them and now they have settled down a lot on their amount of hmmming. 

When we picked them up a boy said that he spent half an hour the night before trying to get a halter on Nora, now Dancer is able to get it on her in just a few minutes.  Dancer has a way with animals and they just seem to do what she wants.  We are going to be busy on Monday and Tuesday most of the day so hopefully they won't back slide with less interaction.

The chickens are not pleased with the llamas in the barn.  Where we put the new pen is right where the chickens use to lay their eggs.  They stand in front of the gate and cluck, cluck, cluck.  I can imagine them saying, "I have to lay an egg and you are in my spot!" like they are waiting with their legs crossed in line for the bathroom.  The chickens have relented and made a new nest in the very corner of the pen, so far we have lost nary an egg.  Granted, our chickens are old and on a good day we only get a couple so there isn't a huge pile to be stepped on but, since we only get a few each one is precious.

Easter Fellowship and Two Pretzel Reipces

 We are normally Saturday night church goers, however, this week Spark insisted that we go on Sunday since it was Easter.  The last weekend of the month is also our fellowship weekend where we bring treats and stay to chat, these are the two foods that we brought.

Soft Pretzels

  • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 packet active yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour + more for the counter surface to knead
  • 1 large egg
  • course sea salt or cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add salt and sugar; stir until fairly combined. Slowly add flour, 1 cup at a time.  Continue to add more flour until dough is no longer sticky.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes and shape into a ball. With a sharp knife, cut ball of dough into 1/3 cup sections for large pretzels or less for small pretzels.
Roll the dough into a rope with an even diameter. Form into pretzels shapes.
In a small bowl, beat the egg and pour into a shallow dish. Dunk the shaped pretzel into the egg wash. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt or cinnamon and sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425F degrees. Turn the oven to broil for the last 5 minutes to brown the tops. Watch closely to avoid burning.
Pretzel Nests
These are even easier.  Lay out a bag of little waffle pretzels on wax paper, eat the broken pretzels.  Drop on a small spoon of almond bark and plop an egg on top.  These were a huge hit, people were just standing by the bowl popping them in their mouths. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Llama Drama

Our county 4-H is trying to get llamas started at the fair since, at this point, the county is llamaless in the 4-H barns.  The county next to us has a lot of llamas and one of the families who show just happen to be in our homeschool co-op.  When we went to their house to carve pumpkins this fall, Dad showed interest in their llamas and they hooked us up with two girls that were born back in July of last year.  While we knew for a while now that they were waiting for us, it wasn't until today that we were able to get them. 

Another llama family had the University of Minnesota vets and interns come out to their farm and have a llama clinic today.  They did immunizations, hoof trimming, neutering and even a minor operation.  Our new girls were brought to the clinic and we picked them up.  They have not been worked with at all, they weren't even named, so they are very afraid of everyone.  This is Dancer meeting her new llama during its exam.  She named her Nora.

We borrowed a trailer to bring them home in and needed to get the trailer back so the family we borrowed it from could get their llamas home.  Needing to get the trailer back and Dad needing to lie down for a nap befoe work gave us a bit of a time crunch since we also had an hour of drive time.  The kids at the clinic got the llamas in the trailer with not much ado.  While we can't drive back to the barn at our house because our yard is still full of snow, what happened when we got home we were not expecting.  Dancer's llama seemed like the mellower of the two so we took her out first and started to bring her up to the barn.  She got as far as the cement part of the driveway and lied down.  When coaxing her did nothing, we called back to the clinic and asked for advice.  Pick up her back end and she will pop up they told us with such matter a factness that we thought our plight was over.  We picked up her back end and she rolled over on her side with her legs sticking straight out.  As soon as we let go, she rolled back on her tummy and tucked her legs firmly under her.  Thankfully, the dog barked and that got her up and few feet up the driveway and when the garbage truck came by we got a few more feet.  By then she was on the ice between the house and the garage and we just got a sled, wiggled it under her and pulled her back to the barn.  It still wasn't smooth sailing, this whole fiasco took about 45 minutes but, we did get her to the barn and in her new home.  I should have taken a picture of her on the sled but, this was a lot of work for a middle aged, out of shape woman who spent way to much time sitting around this winter. 
Once Nora was in the barn we took a deep, deep breath and went back to the trailer for round two of "Get the Llama to the Barn."  By the way, everyone told us llamas aren't near as stubborn as goats.  Leave it up to us to get the last two stubborn llamas on earth.  Goats are stubborn but, at least they are small enough that you can pick them up without the assistance of two men and small boy.  One man and a small boy is sufficient.
Back at the trailer, we clipped a lead on to Spark's llama, Marceline.   She jumped out of the trailer, sprang up the driveway, around the corner, down the path and into the barn.  Okay, so we only have the last stubborn llama on earth, not the last two.

Now that they are in the barn, the kids need to start working with them.  The first thing they need to do is get them use to being touched and they had good success with that the couple of times they were out there this evening.  Next will be to get the harnesses on them and then start teaching them to walk on a lead.

Cat Yoga


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This Is Not Good

The cats have been after Bert like he is made of catnip.  The other night we were watching a movie, The Awakening Land, really good if you have five and half hours to spare, and Bert's bell was just a ringing and a ringing.   After a few minutes of this I thought, he never rings his bell this much.  We paused the movie, went into Spark's room where Bert lives and saw those two thugs we call cats on his cage rocking it back and forth.  Well, Skips was on top but, Mr. Fluffles was down below cheering him on.  Since that night, we have tried to keep Spark's door closed for Bert's personal safety. 

Today Skips got in there so Dancer went in to get him and she was sure she shooed him out. She shut the door and, with no bell ringing, we weren't aware that anything was amiss.  When Spark went in to take out his dirty clothes this is what he saw.  Oh Bert, I think we are going to have to start praying for you.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happiness is...............

Opening the mailbox and finding an envelope full of seeds!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Walmart - Amusing As Ever

You just never know what you are going to find there, most the stuff in the store just amazes me.  There must be some unspoken challenge out there that inventors try to make the oddest thing and see if they can get folks to handover hard earned money for it.  There is probably some bragging rights for the most useless thing.  Sorry if you own any of this stuff but, I still think you wasted your money.
A plastic dog water dish with a paper sticker around the outside in camo. Is this for the dog needing a diet so you are trying to hide his food?  Ain't nobody need that.

A two foot tall shovel suited only for a Hobbit.  Ain't nobody need that.  Unless you are a chiropractor, that size shovel could be good for business, think of all the sore backs.

A pillow with beads on it?  You would wake up and think you had indented chicken poxs.  Ain't nobody need that.

I thought we weren't suppose to sniff glue.  Ain't nobody need that.

If they can't sell it, put it on the clearance rack for the low, low, price of $0.  Even if it were free, ain't nobody need that stuff.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mushrooms in Soy Sauce

Next time we have these I hope is with steak on the grill!  Tonight it was with left over pork roast and it sure made it taste fancy schmancy.

2 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 large clove garlic
2 tsp. soy sauce

Saute mushrooms in butter until they are soft and released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; continue to cook and stir for 1 minute. Add soy sauce and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes.

Lobster Tail Icicles

There was a large thunk on the deck and when Spark ran out to investigate, he found that an icicle (which is good because that means that some of our snow is melting) had broken off the gutter and lay broken.  He brought in these two large pieces that looked like lobster tails.  Wouldn't it be great if lobster tails really did fall off the gutters in the spring?  We would be eating good tonight!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

O Spring, Where Art Thou?

The calendar may say today was the first day of spring but, that is not the scene outside.
Every parking lot has multiple piles of snow this large. 
The drift by our back door is over four feet tall.  We have to shovel for the dog to out to go potty or she can't get through the snow.

Much more snow and the bird bath will be gone. 

We had to shovel a path to get to Chester's hutch.  He is on the right side partially hiding from having his picture taken.

The snow on either sides of the path are higher than Vidalia.  She is an outside cat so I am sure she has more than her fill of winter. 

It will be a while before we have a bon fire again.  The last couple of years we have been able to have them in the winter. 

We just gave up shoveling in front of Dad's garage.  Let it melt.  Good grief, enough is enough.

The road by our house is pretty good but the majority of the roads are covered with ice where the snow has been drifting.  I think we should abandon the car and look into getting a luge.

The snow by the other garage has piled up so high it has turned into a privacy fence.  There is more snow forecasted for Sunday and when we get into April we will have had six, count them six, months of snow.  I guess we won't have to worry about planting potatoes on Good Friday.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Keep Him Calm They Said

Skips went to the vet yesterday like the cat he is - howling, darting his arms in and out of the front of the kennel, and before we stopped in front of the vet building, managing to tip the kennel over even though it was wedge on the back seat.  
There were no "Good luck Skips,"  "we love you Skips" or "just let me give him one more snuggle before you take him in the back."  Instead, I thrust the kennel into the ladie's hands and said, "Here"  hoping this whole neutering business was going to miraculously have him turn into a calm, new kitten by the time we picked him up today.

Our vet sends updates via email photos and we waited all day to find the message in our inbox that he had made it through the surgery and was on his way to becoming a fine, young cat.  But as you can see in the photo, which didn't come until late afternoon, she is holding his head and the front of his shoulders pretty firmly.  I scanned down for her other hand, it doesn't have a death grip on his back legs so I told myself the hand around his head was to make him look into the camera.

Last night it snowed yet again, and when Dad came home from work he said that the roads were equivalent to a glazed doughnut.  When I said then I would wait until later to get Skips because maybe the roads would be better, he objected.  "But I miss him," he said as he was heading out the door with the kennel in hand.

At the vet they brought out Skips and asked if Dad wanted to pet him.  The tight grip she had on him made Dad say to just put him in the kennel and they would re bond after he got Skips home.  Their parting words were to keep Skips calm for the next couple of days so he could recuperate and heal. Ha, that is a good one.  Did they not observe this cat the two days he was there or do they say that to everyone?  Dad said he howled all the way home while hanging upside down to the top of the kennel.  The minute he got home he shot of the kennel, into Dancer's room, down the basement, in the laundry room, in the kitchen, back into Dancer's room, behind the couch and all the places he lurks.  He had a good tussle with Mr. Fluffles and Nikki.  Seeming satisfied that everything was as it should be he finally stopped to eat.  The rest of the afternoon has been spent antagonizing the dog, his favorite sport, and he seems like he has to make up for the day he missed.  Yeah, keep him calm, he is just as crazy as he was before.  As an aside, they did say it can take up to four weeks for all the testosterone to get out of his system.  Great.

I think Dad loves this cat because he is so aloof.  He is not a lap cat, he doesn't like to be picked up and more than a couple scratches to the top of his head when his feet are firmly on the floor are more than enough attention for him.  He is very much like our first cat, Sushi, who was a cantankerous thing until he had a few days at the vet with crystals in his bladder which turned him into the friendliest cat ever.  I am still holding out hope for Skips. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

North American Potluck

In our Tuesday co-op, the kids are studying geography where they are just finishing up North America.  The teacher assigned a part of North America to all the families to make a scrumptious dish from that area.  The areas ranged from Greenland, which was lumped in with North America, to Central America.  The foods ranged from cod soup to papaya and everywhere in between.

We were given southern United States.   It was hard to pick what to make but we settled on Jambalaya and Sweet Potato Cobbler.   Seems everyone liked the Jambalaya except me, much to spicy, and the sweet potato cobbler was a huge hit.  Today we had it cold since I made it yesterday afternoon but, I want to make it again and have it warm with ice cream melting on the top.  It was so good that all night the kids have been saying, "I wish we had more of that cobbler!"

Crock Pot Jambalaya

12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1-1/2 c. green peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 oz.) can whole tomatoes
1/3 c. tomato paste
1 (10-1/2 oz.) can beef broth
1 tbs parsley
1-1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb shrimp, shelled
3 c. cooked rice

Cut chicken into 1" pieces.  Put all ingredients, except rice and shrimp, into crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for eight hours.  Add shrimp for the last 20 minutes of cooking.  Stir in rice before serving.

Sweet Potato Cobbler

2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 T. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cubed
Crust -
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
5 to 6 T. cold water

Cook sweet potatoes until crisp tender.  Place sweet potatoes in 9X13 pan and add 1 1/2 cup of the liquid you cooked the potatoes in.  Combine sugar, flour cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Sprinkle over sweet potatoes and dot with butter.

For crust combine all ingredients like pie crust. Roll out flat and place on top of sweet potatoes making it fit entire pan.  If you have a one piece crust, cut slits on top.  I like to piece it together for a more homemade look.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes or until it bubbles and top is brown.

Waiting in line to enjoy the cuisine.
The weekly after lunch Yu-Gi-Oh! game was still a go even with the potluck.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Misdirected Snowballs

Spark is just over flowing with energy today so we sent him out to do a little shoveling.  At the same time, Mr. Fluffles was watching out of the front window where he likes to tip toe through the plants and sit. 
Not more than a few moments after Spark got outside we heard a loud thunk and Mr. Fluffles had a surprised look on his face.  I go to the window where I see the tell tale sign of a snowball mark on the glass and Spark laughing. 
Glaring out the window, I shake my head no at Spark. 
"Are you shaking your head no at Spark?" Dad asks, probably because throwing the snowball is just the sort of thing Dad would do too. 
"Well, when the front window is laying on the living room floor what are you going to be shaking at him, probably not your head no." 
The words were no sooner out of my mouth when another loud thunk vibrated the window.  This one got Dad up out of his chair and yelling out the door.  Spark scooped a few feeble shovels of snow off the driveway and was back in. 
Shoveling the driveway isn't near as fun as ridding it of snow by throwing snowballs at the cat sitting in the window.  Much more efficient but, not as fun.   

Let's See...

We hadn't seen Grandpa Jerry and Grandma Pat since Christmas so we thought it time we got together.   More importantly, we hadn't played Apples to Apples all winter.  Seems we only play when Grandma is here so that was another incentive to see them.  They came on Sunday for dinner.  Dad cooked and he was going to make roast and cauliflower.  I took Dancer to a Jr. Leader meeting for 4-H and by the time we got home the menu had grown substantially.  He had 3 chuck roasts, BBQ ribs, Lima beans, baked sauerkraut with apples, a huge veggie/dip tray, and creamy cucumbers.  The cauliflower never did make a showing. 

Once a month at our Monday co-op we have game day.  Most of the girls are crazy about One Direction and one of the girls got the game Girl Talk that is trivia questions about them.  Exciting!! They also spent hours dancing to Just Dance and all complained about being sore the next day.  The great part about playing Just Dance or other Wii games is that there is a theatre, probably about the size of a large home theatre we have only seen on hgtv and they can hook the Wii up and play it on a big screen.  All the boys played Minecraft and did a little sledding.
Tuesday the snow came, and came, and came and came until a good eight inches had piled up.  It took Dad, with 4-wheel drive, an hour to get home from work, twice as long as usual, and our Tuesday co-op was cancelled.  Skips found the perfect place to wait out the storm, on top of the heat vent. 
 The massive amounts of snow we have had prompted me to get out this needle punch project I started a few years back.  It took me less than an hour to finish it so I should have finished then when I had a plan for it.  Now not sure what I will do with it but it's done.

By Tuesday night Skips had had enough of winter.  Before we go to bed we go out and turn the light out in the barn.  Dad opened the door, this now about 11:30 and Skips saw it as his chance to sow his wild oats.  Like a streak of soot he was out the door.  About 45 minutes, and lots frozen fingers and toes, later we got him back in the house.  On Wednesday morning bright and early I called to make an appointment to get his wild oats removed.  Next Thursday is his big day so we will be watching him like a hawk every time we open the door between now and then.

An extra day at home and I had foolishly hoped we would get a lot of school done.  Mr. Fluffles doesn't speak English much less know any grammar so it  has been slow going.  I think the long winter has made our concentration wane.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Vex Robots

Today was the big day, the Vex Robot competition.   The sign said 10 am to 6 pm but, it was really 7:45 - 6:00 because all the teams had a ten minute judging session and had time to do any last minute changes to their robots.  Thankfully Dad volunteered to take Dancer in this morning and then came back home and got Spark and I later. 

Dancer isn't a driver or a coach so her job was to get the crowd excited when their team was in the arena. 

When their team wasn't competing they were still dancing in their seats.

No one told Abby this wasn't the goofy picture.

This was the practice area back stage.  There were 35 teams there so it was a busy room.

All the teams lined up according to how they did in the qualifications rounds, all 70 of them.  Those took until about 4:00 p.m. before we even got to the actual competition.  Dancers team is the blue shirt way down on the other end of the line, they were in sixth place at this point.


Spark got in on a little of the cheering action.

Their team ended up in third place, pretty good for all of them being their first year and they started out with no one knowing anything and they had to figure out the building and the programing.  Almost every Sunday afternoon since November they have been getting together to work on the robot.

They also took home the "Team Work" award.  I was quite proud of them getting that award and said that I would prefer that they got that award and lost than to come in first and have been bickering between them the whole year.  This is Dancer with her team, one of the leaders and a little brother.
As long as the DJ was still playing Dancer and her friends were still dancing.  Everyone was picking up at this time but they were still going strong.  Spark thought she should have her safety glasses on to dance.  Safety glasses are the name of game with these robots, seems like if they even looked at the robot they were suppose to have their glasses on.  Not sure how they were going to hurt themselves but it worked, no one got their eye poked out.