Saturday, November 28, 2009

In which the Minervas move to the Winter Palace, and I write more

Jim added the finishing touches to the chickens' Winter Palace today: nice, soft, fresh shavings!
And then...time to move (again).
Willy snagged ML Twelve, and carried her to the new Chicken Digs.
Twelve has had many adventures since coming here as a chick. I hope that she is able to integrate back into the flock after all this time in St Hens. Last night, she got out again, and spent the night in a tree. I found an egg in the strawberry bushes this morning as evidence of her wildness.

Eleven approves of the new nesting boxes. These are very strange eggs, though.

Minervas One through Ten took the Chicken Bus to their new quarters. It works a lot like Fred Flintstone's car: Jim moves the outside of the Bus, and the Minervas walk along underneath.

We parked the Bus at the entrance to the Winter Palace...but most of the Minervas were reluctant to get out and explore. Sigh. Since I'm the smallest of stature, crawling into the bus to retrieve shy hens became my task.
Artistic photo of chicken flappery.
Oh, hey. Minerva, do try a bit of this rotted broccoli, it's very lovely. And have you been to the chopped up pumpkin table yet, dear? Do try just a smidge of this worm, it's quite nice.

In other news, I have written 41,000 words on my NaNoWriMo novel, and thus have 9,000 words to go in order to "get my completion". This is not the Great American Novel, by any stretch, but as with endurance riding, To Finish Is To Win. I'll be glad to get to the finish line on this sucker so I can start my annual hibernation!

Thus, I will leave you with a little taste of the book, and then I'll chain myself down and try to create 3,000 more words before bedtime.

Meggie began to relax. The trail was ahead. Her horse was doing well. She was riding her very first limited distance ride at last. Perhaps she and Gator would do so well that Libby would send them out on a fifty mile ride next. And perhaps they would do a hundred mile ride. Perhaps they would win the ride, or better yet, get the Best Condition award for the horse with the highest score from the veterinarians. Gator was really such a good horse, surely he deserved to get Best Condition!

The road widened further into a two-track, probably an old jeep road, and Gator gave her the old “please” signal, by looking back over his shoulder at her. Grinning wickedly, she loosened up the reins and leaned forward slightly, allowing him to lengthen his stride, pushing so hard with his back feet that his front feet seemed to barely strike the road at all. Gradually, they gained on Po, who had taken an authoritative position in the lead at the start line. Soon they were beside Libby and Po, and Libby grinned over at her young friend. Po snorted, and pinned the ear nearest the other horse so that he would know that she disapproved of him. But they continued like that, side by side, flying over the trail, through the soft-scented sage bushes, as the sun rose pale yellow in the quiet grey springtime desert sky around them.

For Meggie, there was only this: the rhythm of Gator’s stride, his cadenced breathing which meshed with her own breath, which was in turn counted out by her heartbeat heavy in her ears. There was a chilly wind in her face, and the weight of her body in the stirrups, and the unmistakable sensation of flying, or rather, skimming low and close to the ground without actually touching it. And then…

She sensed, rather than saw the movement off to the side of the trail. Something grey, or perhaps white. Jumping, or perhaps flying. And Gator, reacting with the instinct of hundreds of years of prey animals designed by God to run away immediately, to flee danger without any time for thought, Gator skidding almost gracefully into a high arcing jump off to the far side of the trail, narrowly missing Po, who shot ahead of him when she felt him change his pace. And then Meggie was falling, slowing tumbling towards the ground, and her only thought was, “I wonder if my mother felt like this.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In which we gather for the holiday and eat some really good food

Come in! Come in! Take off your coats, and make yourself comfortable by the fire! The table is set and ready for the holiday.

Jim has been brining the turkey since Tuesday, and he's kept it in the well-house wrapped up in a fermentation bucket and a gigantic ziplock bag.

The brine is just stuffed with wonderful ingredients: apple juice (from our own apples!) and oranges and cloves and garlic and bay leaves and ginger.

The chickens got all the oranges and ginger when we took the turkey out. These chickens are opportunistic omnivores. I wonder if the ginger flavor will show up in the eggs, the way garlic supposedly does?

The turkey is dressed in cheesecloth, and covered with traditional herbs (somebody sing the Simon and Garfunkel song with me!): parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

The parsley came from the market, but the other herbs grew in the garden right outside the kitchen window.

After an hour of roasting, he basted it every ten minutes or so for another three hours.

Ooooh, look how beautiful!

In addition to the turkey, we have mashed potatoes (Jim's stepmom taught us the trick of mashing a parsnip into the potatoes for a little extra flavor, along with butter and half-and-half), baked fennel with blue cheese and seeds, Willy's special SanJack, a butternut squash, apples and rosemary dish (all ingredients from the garden except the butter and year, I will plant garlic but probably not butter!), stuffing with raisins and dried cranberries and a bunch of other lovely things, and green salad (courtesy of my brother).

Wine, and sparkling cider.

Next year we hope to be serving our own wine and cider, but this year we make do with the stuff from the market.

Mom made the pumpkin pie. Willy had never seen whipped cream being whipped before, so we let him lick the beaters!

I am very full of food, but not too sleepy to walk down to the pasture and share all the carrot and apple peelings with the horses.

Life = Good. I = Thankful.

In which there is a holiday, and we are truly thankful for it

Thankful for so much...
and many of them will be
here for Thanksgiving!