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In which we meet new friends on the trail, and we ride down to the river

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"Hey, we're gonna ride down to the river.   You wanna come with us?"

"Um.  Yeah.  Sure!"

And, off we went.


There isn't time to spontaneously join in with a couple of people you've just met if you're conditioning for an endurance season.

At least, there wasn't time when the Dragon and I were conditioning.



Now that my horse is retired from competition, all the urgency to condition and train and get miles behind is is gone.

We can just go.  And we do.





Sometimes we go fast.  Fast is fun.

Sometimes we go slowly.  If we go slowly, we might see chanterelles...or lobster mushrooms.  Or some other treasure.

Sometimes we go alone...and now, if we want, we can ride with people who also aren't training for anything.  We can even ride with people we don't know.  And it's okay.




We talk about all kinds of things, but mostly we talk about horses and riding.



Three women, three mares, and a dog.  A sunny day, a nice trail, good conversation, a cool wal…

In which we are good at making food and here's a new soup recipe

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This time of year, "eating locally" is not a challenge.


When we "caught" a huge bag full of lobster mushrooms while riding,  Patty wanted to know how I intended to cook my share.


I ended up making two batches of smoked salmon/lobster mushroom chowder.  Since the lobsters are plentiful this year, I figured people might want a recipe that uses them up. 

As always with my recipes, there are no measurements, and I encourage you to add/subtract/omit/substitute at will.  It's more like a guideline, anyhow.

Smoked Salmon/Lobster Mushroom Chowder Cook until very crisp: A strip or two of bacon.  Reserve the bacon grease.
Sautee in the bacon grease until transparent: Onion.  I used a red onion, use whatever you've got. Garlic
Into the soup pot: Raw vegetables:  corn, celery, peas, white beans, potatoes, butternut squash, or whatever else is handy. The bacon: I use scissors to cut bacon into little pieces.  Is that weird? Onion and garlic: sauteed above Soup stock:  veget…

In which it's about dang time we were putting the band back together

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Some of us have been riding together for 20 years or more. Some have joined the group more recently. But it's always a good day when the Usual Suspects hit the trail.





Patty's horse Flower is finally sound enough to do a little work on the trail, and she's not yet too pregnant to fit into her saddle. 

(Flower, that is.  Patty is not pregnant.  Flower's foal is due late May 2020).




Last night I got the ping from the group:  Meet at the trailhead, 9am.  Walking for a couple of hours.

That sounds great to me--and to Fiddle, too.  She hasn't seen nearly enough of our friends lately.








And off we went, into the woods!  But not fast.  Because we found these:


We found enough mushrooms for everybody to get some.


Plus, there was the riding.


One of the neighbors had warned me about the frequency of bear sightings lately. I wasn't too worried.  Black bears don't like noise, and 6 ladies and 6 horses make a LOT of noise.

In which it's a good thing the days are long, because we are scurrying

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Whoever invented the phrase "lazy days of summer"  never spent August hanging around us.


We are eating fresh fruit and vegetables from the property at almost every meal now...and that means getting up early enough that I don't get ambushed by the timer-driven sprinklers while harvesting stuff.



This is our first year planting spaghetti squash, and I must say that it's really gotten into the whole spirit of enthusiasm.  I hope my neighbors like spaghetti squash.  I hope a lot of my neighbors like spaghetti squash a lot....



I consider basil-growing to be part of tomato-growing, and as explained in prior posts, I'm really not good at either.  However, this year we've managed to keep enough basil alive long enough that I think I might be able to make and can a small batch of our own pesto.  *bowing modestly*




I've been picking berries of some type directly into my breakfast bowl every morning since early June: first it was strawberries, then blueberries, and now…

In which it's Dad's birthday, and there's CAKE (and zucchini and blackberries...)

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My dad is diabetic, so he doesn't get dessert very often.
But birthdays are special occasions!  So I made him a no-sugar treat that also uses some plentiful farm ingredients.  
I figured y'all would want the recipes (since many of you have the same plentiful ingredients available right now), so I tacked them to the bottom of this post.

We topped the cake with no-sugar ice cream from the store.



Then we topped the ice cream with blackberry sauce.

We are having a FABULOUS blackberry year, thanks to intermittent sunshine/rain days this summer.



Are you hungry yet?  Here are the recipes:

Agave-Chocolate-Zucchini-Orange Cake 1 cup agave nectar 1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil 3/4 cup applesauce 3 eggs 1 Tbl vanilla 1/2 cup yogurt 3-4 cups zucchini (however much zuke you got!) 2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp baking soda couple shakes of cinnamon orange peel to taste
350 degree oven. Combine wet ingredients in large bowl.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then stir…

In which we take a few hours to remember why we live this life

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It's easy to get my tail wrapped around winter preparations.

Readiness for the dark months takes a lot of work during the hot months.

I like to have 3 tons of hay stored each year for Fiddle and the goats.

That is probably more than we need, unless the winter is very sn*wy, in which case it's barely enough.



I also like to have 3 cords of firewood.  Last year we only had 2 cords, and we squeaked through...barely.

There was very little left over, which means that we need to really hustle this year to stuff the woodshed full.

The big tree from Sandy's house will give us about 2 cords...but that wood is very green, not burnable yet.  That means we need to find more seasoned wood and get all of it split and stacked before the rain begins.




The garden feeds us in summer and winter, so it needs care too.

Jim canned a bucket-ton of beans last year, and we still have plenty in the pantry, so I planted fewer this year--enough to eat fresh and share during the summer, but we won't …