Tee shorts and Brown Butter Betty’s

Written by Admin on May 4th, 2011

The boys and I went to one of our local grocery stores here in Missoula.  For you locals, it was Orange Street Food Farm.  This grocery store is locally owned and operated, and is a solid fixture in Missoula.  And, they currently have a sale on organic strawberries; two pounds for three bucks.  Screaming deal on such a hot commodity.  They are not the true gems that you would find locally in a month or so, they are from California I believe, but when you are craving a strawberry, they pass the test.

So, we ate one pound of them fresh.  And with the other pound I made Strawberry brown butter Betty's, from a recipe I found off of Smitten Kitchen, a nice food blog with great recipes.

They turned out outstandingly good, in my humble opinion.  However the little boys did not like them.  They say they are too sour. I love the fact that they are in individual cupcake size portions. And, I appreciate the tartness mixed with sweetness, mixed with the nutty browned butter flavor.  The recipe is quick and easy, and relatively inexpensive especially if you have home-grown strawberries, or got a good deal on them, like I did.  Also homemade whipped cream to top takes the tartness down a notch.

These are some recycled tee shorts I've been working on.  The pockets of the purple shorts are from a Flaming Lips tee shirt!  I will be selling these at Blackbird, and in our Etsy shop.  I hope to have a boat load made soon.  Along with my dresses and some skirts.

In other news, the fox is still around.  I saw her this morning with her kits.  Apparently, I wasn't as scary as I thought.  I'm secretly just a little bit glad.

Happy Wednesday.






The Fantastic little Fox…

Written by Admin on May 2nd, 2011

Exciting day and evening here on the Homestead. While Andy was presenting his James Welch light box to the public library folks who commissioned it. I was at home having a standoff with a fox.

I was casually heading out the door to retrieve my purse from the car and looked up into the front pasture, not more than fifty feet stood a fox and at least two if not three kits. I was stunned. She was stunned. I'm assuming it was the mama (vixen), however, I just read that sometimes a fox (male) will hunt for the vixen and kits as well. Anyway, the fox ran away a few yards and turned around to look at me. I almost ran inside to tell the boys so they could see this little family of foxes too, but I knew they would yell and scream and scare them off. And, honestly and maybe selfishly, I wanted this moment to myself.

Ever since my honeymoon, when Andy and I were driving to Bowman Lake (near Polebridge) on a little foresty road, and two kits tumbled out of the bushes into plain view on the side of the road, I have had a fascination with foxes. They are mysterious, smart, fast, and always just out of reach.

Anyway, so there I was, waiting for her to make a move. I talked to her, told her it was okay, I wasn't going to mess with her babes. But, I warned, out loud: "You need to relocate, I won't let you hurt my chickens." She yelped/barked a few more times, as if trying to reply: "Yeah, but I need to feed my babes. You understand, right?"

And, the thing is, I would probably be willing to sacrifice one chicken on her behalf, for her kits. But I know that if she got one, she'd take out our entire flock.

I ran inside to get my camera because the kits were starting to wrestle and I just couldn't handle it! This is all I got, a very distant shot of one of the babes. The mama was clearly a red fox, but the kits are this gray/black combo until they get older.

I know, it's so hard to see. But, isn't that so right? I think part of why I am so enamored by these little critters, is that it is nearly impossible to get a good look at them. They have insanely good hearing, and are so fast! Apparently they mate in January or February, and give birth end of March/early April. Which would make this kit just a few weeks old. The vixen usually starts to leave the den to hunt after the kits are about three weeks old. I'm guessing this kit is somewhere around four weeks old.

So while I was trying to take a picture of these amazing little creatures, the big fox took off like lightning towards some of our chickens. I thought she had one in her mouth, so I yelled loudly and forcefully. She stopped, looked at me, and retreated. The kits must have ducked back down into the den pretty quickly too; I didn't see them the rest of the evening. I did see the big fox a few times far up on the ridge, but eventually she completely disappeared.

I stayed outside and kept watch for the next hour and a half, waiting for dusk, when the chickens start waddling their way back to the coop. The boys and I chased the last three hens into the coop at about 8:30, and I battened down all the hatches to make sure they were all as safe as can be. As we strolled back up to the house I took some pictures of the beautiful light.

I felt good about saving our girls. But, I know we are going to have to scare the fox and her kits off, if they decide to hang around. And for that, I'm a little sad. I wish there were some way to coexist peacefully. Apparently foxes typically have several dens in an area, so hopefully this vixen and her kits are relocating somewhere else now. They will have to survive on field mice and rabbits. We will have a close watch on our chickens for the coming weeks. Even though they aren't as cute and mysterious as the fox and her kits, they do provide us with over a dozen eggs a day. They definitely earn their keep.

Happy Monday.

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Moving up…

Written by Admin on April 28th, 2011

Today I moved all of my sewing equipment, fabric, and everything sewing related into the upstairs storage area at Blackbird.  It feels like a land of opportunity up there.  It's great.

I think I have found my calling.  And I only had to go 38 years, backed by a $20,000 student loan that resulted in a useless history degree, to figure it out.  Had I not believed that I needed to go to college to get a good job, I could have taken the fast track to realizing what I really wanted to do.  Oh well, I'm sure that history degree factors in somewhere along the line.  Although I am no better at trivia because of it.

I like to sew, cook, and garden.  I would like to get paid for that.  I like to make stuff for myself and my family, because it feels good, and we need it.  I would like to make stuff for others and get paid for it.  Hmmmmm.....

I'm going to go ahead and make that dream come true.  So, there you  have it.

This is what is happening in the morning before we take Asa to school, and Axel and I go to work at Blackbird.  Goat swinging.  It's the best.

I love that they are itching to get outside as soon as they can.

Andy is frequently asked by both boys to "cut little guys out of black paper".   He has probably cut out 500 or more little guys.  Some of them stick around for awhile, some end up in pieces, some get filed away.  But they usually look something like the above figures.   Knights, skeletons, wizards, and soldiers are in high rotation around here.  I'll have to ask about the big furry guy.  Maybe Big Foot?  Oh, and it looks like a spaceman made his way in there too.

I got some carrots in the ground on Easter.  We didn't plant enough last year.  We ate them up quickly.   I hope to see some little sprouts making their way soon.  What are you planting more of this year?




Written by Admin on April 25th, 2011

Explaining the Christian meaning of Easter to children is difficult, and a little bizarre.  "So Jesus died and then came back to life?" Yeah, I know, it sounds a little hokey.  But there is something to the symbolic nature of this event that appeals to me, for the same reason that the pagan celebration of rebirth does.  It's naturally relevant, as spring is here and things are coming back to life.  I find it fascinating to study what ancient people who were so much more grounded in the earth cycles did, and how all of these traditions somehow all represent almost the same thing.  Even in this age, when we don't have to really pay attention to cycles and seasons, everyone seems to enjoy the shift that spring brings.   It's a lovely shift.

And, chocolate eggs are nice too.

The surprise of finding the baskets was almost better then what was actually in the baskets.  In fact, much of the stuff in the baskets were re-found stuff from last year.  They knew that, and still loved it.  Some new stuff made it in though.  Like soccer shorts for Asa, and...

...a kitten puzzle for Axel.  I love this because I'm pretty sure I had one just like it when I was a kitten-lovin' kid.  Which I still am, just for the record.

Easter dress happiness.  It isn't often you get a chance to dress up early in the day, so I had to show this one off.  It's my favorite dress currently.  And, I'm fairly certain I can trace it and make another one like it.  Stay tuned.  Thank you for indulging me.  But, hey, a girl has to show off once in awhile.

And, this brilliant lady is rockin' such a great bonnet, I had to take a picture.  This was taken at McCormick park where we had an Easter egg hunt, of which I took NO pictures.  Oops.

Today was extraordinarily gorgeous, sunny, warm, leisurely.  So, upon arriving home, I put on my gardening attire and planted carrot seeds.  Without our gardening guru this spring, I'm hoping that the gardening gods will help me out a bit.  I'm still learning.  But I want some carrots, real bad.

Axel helped.

So here we are, embarking on another year at the Homestead.  After next week we will be officially open to the public for the next six months.  Trying to prepare for being on display, always busy from dusk to dawn.  Bring it.  I'm ready.  Hope you all had a wonderful Easter.









Ode to that light…

Written by Admin on April 23rd, 2011

This light.  I've posted about it before.  It is what makes me believe anything.  It's beautiful.


It is time for stormy weather…

Written by Admin on April 22nd, 2011

We did not spend a long time outside today.  It's been such a cold April, I'm not sure I've craved sun this bad before.  The forecast calls for an inch and a half of snow tonight.  No little seeds in the ground yet so that's good I guess.  Well, except for my chard, we'll wait and see.

This guy and I had a tumultuous day.  Sibling squabbles, distracted mama, not enough outside time.  So, after dinner at about 8:30 we all bundled up in our winter coats, because it was that cold, and headed down to the goat swing.  If there were some athletic event that measured tree swing abilities, Asa would get the gold.  He is amazing on the goat swing.  We call it that because it hangs from a tree right in front of the little barn that housed the goats for the past few seasons.  It's really just the other half of the chicken coop.  But DANG, that kid glides around on that goat swing like he's been doing it his whole life.  I'll have to record it sometime and post it.  It really is a sight to see.





















Axel hasn't wanted to try the goat swing yet.  But he has been really into running, especially when he is being  Super Infra Man.  He's such a gentle little soul.  He melts my heart.

Budding box elder beautifully juxtapositioned  against the sky.  Love that background color.

And here I am, bundled up and cold.  Wishing, wishing, wishing for warmer weather.  I'm not relying on sunshine for happiness, but it sure would make it so much easier.

So there you have it folks.  Hope you have a lovely Friday.  Happy Easter.



These boys…

Written by Admin on April 21st, 2011

Recently Andy was asked to play a reunion show: with Humpy, a hard-core punk band that graced Missoulians with its presence for most of the '90s.  I haven't seen Andy play an electric guitar for at least six years, so when he busted it out recently to "get back in shape," I was excited to see what would happen.

In those six years since he last played this guitar, we have created two human beings.  Both are keenly into music, especially Asa.  So, naturally, he was OVER THE MOON about trying out the electric guitar...grunge effects pedal and everything!

He took to it right away and started writing his own songs.  Some of his titles are: "Chicken Vaders," "Rock and Roll Cheese Vampire Bat," "Bandit King" and "The Raven King."  He arranged a very special performance when my mom was in town earlier this month. We all sat around as the "audience" and got to watch this talented guy sing his heart out.

And then Axel chimed in, as younger brothers do. Not long after Asa's "show," Andy heard Axel covering "Rock and Roll Cheese Vampire Bat" in a concert of his own while I was at the store.

It is quite possible we will have a family band formed in short order.  I haven't decided my role yet, but I'm pretty good on a tambourine.  We'll keep you posted!




Fake birds make good toys…

Written by Admin on April 20th, 2011

Walking along.  Collecting pine needles for the nest.

For this bird friend of ours.  Who, is actually fake, but makes a really good toy when you need something to cheer you up.

Tried to catch the deer running away.  Do you see them?  We startled them on our way down to the garden.

The box elders trees are budding.  On this really cold April day, they are about the only reminder that it is actually spring.  Andy said you can tap box elders and make syrup from the sap: they are in the maple family.  We may have to try that next year.

Freshly made woodpecker hole!  I love how perfectly round it is!  You couldn't drill a better, more precise hole.  Amazing.

Oh, how I love this barbed wire.  Isn't it lovely?  It has been sitting here for ages and ages.

I made these pants for Asa.  He's been seriously deficient in pants, and I've been wanting to make some with pockets for awhile.  So I went for it.  I'm pretty psyched about how they turned out.  I think I'll make some more.  Despite the grump face, I think he was psyched too.  He wanted to wear them the rest of the evening.  That's a good sign.

That was our day, mixed in with a lot of spontaneous, erratic almost-six and almost-three-year-old emotion.  And now I'm tired, tired, tired.  Off to start some chili in the crock pot for tomorrow!  Have a great day out there, friends.




Today, today…

Written by Admin on April 19th, 2011

Dreaming about planting carrots like last years.

Hoping for a garden that is as spectacular as last years.

This spring is already picking up speed, and even though as I look out the window right now, there is snow on the mountains, by July I will be warm, tanned, and in garden-shape.

Our girls, or, as Asa says, "gewels", are laying again.

I'm ready to start wearing tank tops, skirts, lightweight dresses, sandals, you know?  I'm going to satiate my spring fever with some sewing of vintage-style house dresses like these. They seem perfect for any occasion really.  In the garden, in the house, out on the town, at work.  I like the idea of a zippered front as well.

Here is how we all feel about it not being as warm as we would like yet.

Happy Tuesday!






First thing in the morning…

Written by Admin on April 17th, 2011

The second round of baby chicks are here.  And, the boys played with two of them in bed as soon as they woke up.  Before anything else.  I was glad for the distraction, so that I could go brew up some coffee.  Because that is what comes first for me.

I have been a total jerk about the chicks.  I hover, bark orders "don't hold so tight", and even yelled today at Axel when he started to run away from the overbearing me, with a chick in his hand.  The thing is,  these boys do just fine with the chicks without my over reactions.  They are tender and sweet with them, mostly.  But I get all freaky about them because they are teeny tiny.  I feel horrible about the yelling.  So out of guilt, I made them their very favorite food for breakfast.  Pancakes, with raspberry syrup and maple yogurt.

The kids slayed them.   They love pancakes.

Our recipe goes something like this:

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour - or - 1 c. ww flour plus 1/4 c. oats

2 TBSP sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 c. milk

1 Tbsp oil

I don't separate the dry from wet and then add together like most recipes say to do.  I'm usually in way too big of a hurry.  So, I just add it all to a quart sized glass pyrex measuring cup and roll with it.

While the pancakes are frying, I heat up raspberry syrup (thanks to Andrew and Stacy), 1/2 stick of butter and a wee bit of maple syrup in a small saucepan.

When cakes are done, I dollop some Brown Cow whole milk maple yogurt on top of it and drizzle syrup on top of that.  Superb.

I have been making dresses for kids out of old tee shirts.  I'm not sure how I feel about them.  I do know I am getting better at making them.

I don't really expect anyone to like this except me.  Judging by the reactions I have gotten thus far.

This one looks a little wonky in the picture, but is actually quite cute in real life.

Again, this looks a little off in the picture, but is pretty dang cute in reality.   We'll see what this evolves into.  For now it is just fun making them.