Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year Care Packages

At the end of every year, my mother and I make cookie care packages for family members.  Sometimes even my husband helps out!  We send these out instead of sending Christmas gifts.  This way, people get something homemade to enjoy during the holidays.  We spend so much more time with these care packages than we would have spent purchasing a gift.  They are made fresh with love and care!

Honey butter cookies

The days spent baking are always crazy, as I try to get it all done in two days so the cookies stay fresh. Everything must be made, packaged, boxed and mailed in two days flat. This year we made 17 cookie care packages. It was a baking frenzy.  And I loved every minute of it!

Every year I try out different recipes to see what everyone likes best. I've used many different cookbooks. All the goodies are packaged separately and labeled, so everyone knows what they are eating.

This year we made honey butter cookies, walnut chocolate chip cookies, Swedish butter cookies, oatmeal caramel bars, oatmeal raisin cookies, macaroon brownies, and chocolate covered pretzels.

The honey butter cookies took the longest to make. The honey dough had to be chilled, rolled, cut with cookie cutters, and iced with a sweet honey icing. They were very honey-ey. I don't think we'll be making them again. They took too much time.

Oatmeal raisin cookies

The walnut chocolate chip cookies were from the standard Toll House Recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package. I used both semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips and crushed walnuts. I always make these cookies.

The oatmeal raisin cookies were from recipe on the the oatmeal box.  Standard oatmeal raisin cookies.  Good old faithful cookies.

The Swedish butter cookie recipe came from a cookbook.  They were oh-so-buttery, light, sweet, and just melted in your mouth.  They were by far my favorite cookie this year.  I was quite impressed with them and will be making them again!  Not only were they delicious, but they were simple and super fast to make.

Swedish butter cookies

Macaroon brownies

The macaroon brownie recipe came from a cookbook, too. They were basically homemade brownies with coconut in the center. Although they were good, I wasn't too impressed with how they turned out. This recipe will probably not be used next year!

Chocolate covered pretzels

The chocolate covered pretzels are always excellent. I can't mess them up - who doesn't love them, no matter how they look?!

More chocolate covered pretzels

The oatmeal caramel bars were made from a cookbook recipe.  This one was chosen by Randy.  They had oatmeal, caramel, and chocolate chips inside.  They turned out very good.  They were my second favorite treat this year.   

More oatmeal caramel bars

After all the cookies and treats were baked and cooled, each type of treat was individually packaged and labeled.

Cookie packages

More cookie packages

The care packages then were packed with all the delicious treats.  They were mailed out yesterday.  One day I'll open a bakery and everyone can get some treats anytime they wish!  Until then, I hope the people who get them enjoy them.  They were packed with love!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Let it Snow!

Well, I can't fight it anymore.  It's going to snow.  So, let it snow!

Light snow coming down this afternoon
And here it comes!  You can hardly see the light snow coming down in the above photo.  We are supposed to get approximately a foot of snow by tomorrow morning.  It snowed about an inch over Christmas night, then was clear this morning.  Before noon today the snow returned, and now it's snowing steadily outside.

Jerry with milk on his lips.  I spoil him sometimes with warm milk, and canned
and dry cat food.  He always drinks the milk first.

Jerry came up for his breakfast Christmas morning. I was surprised to see him early because he also came up Christmas eve for dinner. The raccoons chased him away Christmas eve before he could finish, but he was able to eat some, so he wasn't hungry. The coons think they are the only animals out there sometimes! Jerry doesn't usually come up morning and night. In fact, often he skips a day in his visits to us. But when we see Jerry we give him a free meal.

Guinea tracks in the snow

The guineas are complaining about the snow. They want to go into the chicken pen, but now they are unable to enter the chicken pen as it has a roof to keep the hawks out. They sit out by the pen gate in a group, waiting to see if the gate will open for them. Some of the the chickens sit on the other side of the gate, watching the guineas. The smart chickens go inside the coop where it's warm. The guineas were raised with the chickens and want to return to the safety and warmth of the coop, I assume. We've been feeding the guineas and making sure they have hot water in the mornings, which they love. During the summer the guineas foraged for food and we didn't have to provide food for them. They are getting very friendly now that we feed them.

More Guinea tracks

I love to take pictures of animal tracks in the snow.  We have Guinea tracks everywhere!

Two Guineas in the brush

Camouflaged guinea
Guineas looking in the chicken pen.
On the right is Boy Guinea, Girl Guinea, and White Guinea. 
Those three are always together.
Some small birds have discovered the Guinea food.  The Guineas chase them away whenever they see the birds eating their food, but the birds sneak food when the guineas aren't watching.  We also feed the wild birds at feeders around the house, but I guess Guinea food is more tasty than regular bird seeds!

Bird footprints in the snow

Little bird tracks leaving and entering the guinea food area

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The tree is all decorated, the gifts have been selected and wrapped with care. 
A pie is in the oven, the house smells of warm apples, cinnamon, caramel, and of the woodstove. 
The woodstove has been burning steady, cranking out the heat in the kitchen. 

We have seven chimneys, but one has the woodstove. 
I don't think Santa can come down that chimney, he will get burnt. 
That leaves six chimneys for Santa to come down. 
The two in the living room are quite small ~ unless Santa's extremely thin, I doubt he'll make it down those chimneys. 
So that leaves four good chimneys for him to utilize.
I'll be looking for him! 
I'll leave him some warm apple pie!  I hope he knows the ice cream is in the freezer!

Merry Christmas everyone, from your friends at Razzberry Corner!

Fresh apple caramel crumb pie

Woodstove a-blazing

Just a few of the chickens

Jack and Shadow

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Guinea Fowl and Snow

We got a few inches of snow this week.  It's our first real snow of the season. 

The guinea fowl don't like the snow one bit. 
They stay under one of our farm's dump trucks, which Randy has parked beside the chicken coop for them.  Every now and then they wander a little, but mostly they just stay under the truck.  Randy starts the truck every now and then and the engine gets warm - so all the guineas stay close and enjoy the heat from the engine.  We provide them guinea food now, since they aren't finding anything to eat on their own.  They're eating has minimized anyway, they don't eat much anymore.  I guess they just aren't happy.  We try to feed them their favorite treats every now and then, bread and cooked corn.  Sometimes they will not eat that either.  Poor birds.  Randy lugs out hot water for them every morning, which they love.  It's frozen by evening; they've learned to drink in the mornings!

I'm happy that all 10 of them have survived their first summer together.  The 8 lighter guineas are now 6 months old, and the 2 darker ones are approximately 1 year and 3 months old.  The 2 darker ones are all that survived from our first batch of 5 guinea keets.  I think we learned alot about guineas with those original ones, and luckily we didn't lose any in our second batch.  I just hope they all make it through the cold winter. 

Guineas under the truck

Guineas walking through snow

Yum, Guinea food!

Guineas looking at yeasterday's frozen water

Lone Guinea

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Scarf Made with Tunisan Afghan Crochet

This past week and earlier in the week I was up visiting my mother's house.  I didn't bring any scarf or gloves, and as it was bitter cold my mother pulled out some scarves for me to use.  And lo and behold, I saw one that I crocheted for her several years ago, back when I crocheted a lot.  I haven't crocheted in years, ever since we got the farm.  As soon as I saw it I remembered all the time I put into it.  I loved making this scarf! 

It was crocheted with what I call the afghan stitch.  This stitch goes by many names:  It can be called Tunisian Crochet, Afghan Stitch, Tricot Crochet or tricot ecossaise, which means Scottish knitting, Shepherd's Knitting, Hook Knitting, Railroad Knitting (working class girls in England waiting for the train to take them to the mills did Tunisian). 

Here's a website on the afghan stitch:

Up close view of the stitches.

And so, I was so motivated, that I started another scarf this past Tuesday.  This picture was taken only after a couple hours of work.  This time I used a thicker yarn, which will make the scarf very thick and warm.  It was a LionBrand yarn.  I actually don't like how thick it is, and I think I made it too wide for the thickness of the yarn.  It was only one stitch less than the white scarf, but because the yarn is thicker it is much wider across. I am my own worst critic.

I queried several men about scarves, each one said they wouldn't wear a homemade scarf like this one.  They said only women wear scarves like this.  Maybe it's just the men that I asked, but they are the ones that I know.  So, based on that knowledge, I think this scarf is too wide for a woman and I will probably start over before putting too much time into it, making it thinner. 

Hopefully I'll get it done by Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Walk Thru Nature and History

The week of Thanksgiving I took a walk around a portion of the property.  I haven't been able to post these pictures due to family being in town and not having the time to spend on the computer.  Then I was out of town visiting family, but now I'm back home and blogging again.

Randy and I went out on foot in the afternoon.  I like to sightsee and take pictures as I go.  We were looking for signs of trespassers, as deer shotgun season was soon starting.  We've put up "No Trespassing/No Hunting/Private Property" signs all over the property, but that doesn't stop people from putting their deer stands on our property or hunting on foot.  The poaching issue is another blog post - we actually did catch a poacher on another day!  But this post is dedicated to the sights of nature and history that I saw that day on my walk.

It is so very quiet and peaceful in the woods.  All you can hear are the birds. 

There is a small abandoned house on our property that is vacant.  It's in pretty bad shape.  It has no power or water run to it.  It is aptly named The Little White House.  It was used by farmers a long, long time ago.  The Little White House is complete with it's own outhouse, which hasn't been used in many years.  Surprisingly, recently Randy spoke to a man who's grandfather used to live in the Little White House. 

The Little White House

Outhouse for The Little White House

We found many deer skulls during this walk.  We usually find bones, including skulls or single dropped deer antlers on our walks.  We've been collecting the antlers.  We saw a few deer on this walk, too.  They aren't really that scared of us; they usually run a few yards away to a safe place and then watch as we go on our way.  But sometimes the deer scream when they see us and run away.  Randy tells me that although it sounds like a scream, it's a type of snort.  But I personally think they scream when we startle them, just like I'd scream if some stranger came up on me suddenly when I was sleeping.  I've heard many does scream and think they are so sweet.  I've never heard a buck scream, though.  Boys just don't scream, they snort and run away.

Doe skull
 I was fascinated by the vines which wrapped around trees, turning the tree trunks into pretty designs.  There's a lot of vines in this area: grapevines, poison ivy, you name it, and they all grow like weeds.

Vines wrapped around trees
We found a historic hay cutter/mower abandoned out in the woods.  We had never seen it before, despite all the times we walked in this area of the woods.  It was exciting to find!  Horses were used to pull it to cut hay, while a man sat on the seat and steered.  It doesn't look too comfortable!  We also have a historic hay rake on the property, now we have it's matching hay mower.

Historic Hay Cutter

This concludes this walking tour.
Come back again for another walk and more history!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Raspberry Discovers the Watering Fountain

Since she wasn't feeling feel, Raspberry the hen has come into the house for a short while every day to warm up and eat. 
Yesterday she discovered the cat waterer! 
She loves the watering fountain!  She drinks and drinks and just doesn't stop drinking until I remove her from the fountain area.  Yesterday she drank from the right side, then from the left side, attempted to drink from the rear, and drank from the center where the water flows down.  Then she stuck her tongue into the water flow and just let the water flow into her beak.  I thought the water must be good for her.  But then she threw up a bunch of water, so I figured she had enough for the day!

Today Raspberry had a drink from the fountain and I recorded it.  She was on edge because the cats were walking around her.  I think she's feeling much better today!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chicken in my Lap!

I've got a chicken in my lap!
It's Raspberry!

Sleeping chicken wrapped in a towel

Raspberry, our very sweetest hen, hasn't been acting like herself ever since the cold temperatures hit.  She's been listless, doesn't really eat much, has dropped a lot of weight, and basically stands around with her eyes closed much of the time.  Her rose comb has shrunk to about half it's size, too.  She's in the molting process and has not gotten all her feathers back in, to add to her issues.  Today I brought her inside and spoiled her with some spaghetti and a nap in front of the fire.  She fell asleep immediately on my lap.  After about an hour she awake and wanted to run around and act like a chicken again. 
Get well soon, Raspberry!

Raspberry was the hen who recovered from bumblefoot issues this past summer.  She had her feet treated and wrapped in bandages back then.  She's spent some time indoors and is used to people and cats and knows all about treats, too!

Raspberry back in July 2010