Monthly Archives: September 2007

Strange breed

One of the problems from mixing our genes:

A son that is too lazy to try to win, but hates to loose.

A boy who takes 45 minutes to do a 5 minute job, and then asks why the kids have to do all the work.

A kid that refuses to pick up the nuts that his sister collected at his feet, until they are both told to pick up fifty each, and then he claims the pile for himself.

Magic commute

Yesterday morning was foggy and beautiful. There is an intersection on my commute that is right next to a wandering stream. The morning fog just lifts off and obscures the sun on these cool fall mornings.

All the poor spiders will have to wait until the fog lifts and the sun dries out their webs

Providence

Sunday afternoon we were hanging around the house. The walnuts had already been cleaned, and I was sitting down to see if our Internet connection was working. We started hearing yelling outside the house, and we went to the windows to see what the cause was. There was a white van by the side of the road, with a trailer on the back that had a large box or crate with tarps and straps covering it. The driver, a man dressed in black jeans and shirt, was poking under the hood. As I stepped outside, the yelling became clearer and I recognized it as the sound of a lonely goat.

I walked down to see if there was anything I could do to help. It seems they had a short in their engine wiring, and it was blowing the fuse. We found some wire and tried bridging the contacts, bypassing the fuse, but that just caused a lot of smoke to come out from under the engine (yikes!). It turns out they (the driver, his wife and their 3 kids) had picked up a milking goat about a mile down the road from us. They had driven down from near Frankenmuth (only about 125 miles away) to pick up this goat because it is difficult to find a milking goat this time of year (that is not a Nubian Dwarf).

It looked like the van wasn’t going anywhere, so we pushed it into the driveway and hooked the trailer up to our Taurus wagon, and took the goat back. The poor girl, she was quite vocal about being left alone in that crate. Once we got back from returning the goat, the tow truck had arrived. Due to the complexities of obtaining a taxi or rental car way out where we live on a Sunday evening, Greg (the guy with the van and the goat) asked if he could pay me to take them home, or at least closer to home.

Knowing of no reason to say no, and enjoying the adventure, I said “Sure!” He rode with the tow truck, and his wife and kids (plus ours) hopped in the car. The younger kids were pretty lively in the car, and I finally suggested that they play “animal vegetable, mineral” to pass the time. They had quite a bit of fun with that, and it made it easier to focus on the road, and chat up front. It turns out that Greg and his family pretty much have a farm, with several goats, many chickens, over a hundred rabbits, not to mention pigs, a horse, and a pony (all the details are a little fuzzy, but you get the idea).

We arrived at Greg’s brother’s house near Flint, and waited a few minutes for the tow truck to arrive. Greg offered to pay me, but I really could not see asking for more than the cost of gas. I told him that $15 would be fine. He conceded, but made sure we knew that they were also going to give us rabbits, and wanted to know what kind we wanted (meat, show, or pets?). I agreed to letting him give us two pet rabbits, but he persisted by telling me that when we have a chicken coop built, let them know, and we will have chickens.

So on Wednesday evening, Greg stopped by with two Mini Rex rabbits (exactly what little A had picked out when browsing through rabbit books months ago), a cage, a twenty questions game for the kids, two quarts of raw goats milk, fresh eggs (including tiny bantam ones and Auracauna green ones), candy corn (B’s favorite), and sneakily, some cash in a thank you card. We chatted for over an hour, and it was great fun. It turns out that the van repair may be simple, and the towing was free (AAA Plus).

In the end, they got their goat, and a ride home. We got rabbits and futures on chickens (Bohnanza jargon). We were all blessed by each other’s presence and God’s providence. We have new friends in Michigan!

The kids are totally excited about the rabbits, and have named them Ginger and Cottontail. They are papered (can be shown), and have ear tats to identify them (Ginger is ARI12, and Cottontail is ETH08). Ginger is more feisty and a little nervous. Cottontail is more curious and tolerates more handling. Both are adorable.

Cottontail watches the tractor drive by

Busy weekend

Last weekend was an interesting one. We had our first “soft” frost! It was exciting, even if it only lasted until the sun shone on it.

We have several black walnut trees in our yard, one big, and 3 smaller. All produce walnuts, but the big one is full. It is scary to see the occasional hailstorm of almost baseball sized hard green walnuts pelting the earth. So far none of us have been caught under the tree at the time. The kids go out and collect the fallen nuts daily and put them in a large box for shucking later. On Sunday I shucked 130, about 1/6th of a box. I wore latex gloves to avoid getting stained hands, but I will wear something thicker next time.

I placed each nut on the side of a cement well house foundation, and then hit it repeatedly with a hammer until the nut came free of the husk. As I did this, the juice would splatter here and there. I may have a few temporary freckles…

It was a somewhat laborious process, but in the end I had a 5 gallon bucket 1/3 full with shucked walnuts. I let them soak, and cleaned them off. Once I was confident I was not going to get any more remaining husk off, I rinsed them and laid them out to dry.

Black walnuts look quite a bit different than the english walnut you might buy in the store. They are smaller, but have a very rough shell, and are usually husked by placing (or leaving) them in the driveway and rolling over them with your car. We have already collected 3 times as many as you see here, and the tree still looks full

In other news, we now have 2 rabbits, Ginger and Cottontail. The story behind them will be the next post, but for now, say “Awww!”

Local harvest

Not having a garden ourselves yet, we have been scouring the county looking for sources of local fresh vegetables. LocalHarvest.com helped a little, but there is a noticeably bare patch right around where we live. We *could* drive 15-20 miles to the farmer’s markets in the nearby cities, but we are surrounded by farms! There *must* be someone selling fresh produce close by… and it is not the local market in Hanover, which carries no organics, and not even natural peanut butter.

At some point we noticed a sign on our way home from B’s parent’s place that said “Fresh veggies” with an arrow pointing up the road. We ignored it a few times since it was a little out of the way. Then we decided one Sunday to check it out. It is an unmanned stand with some of the best produce we have seen for very, very good prices.

There was a good variety too. As we go back each week (sometimes twice a week) we find new stock as the seasons come and go.

Little A bought some gladiolas, and a week later they are still blooming in the livingroom.

We decided to do what we would do if we had our own garden: take advantage of the bounty and do some pickling!