Monday, August 29, 2011

Honeysuckle with child?

                                                       Honeysuckle eats her prenatal vitamins

Last weekend Honeysuckle met a gentle young buck and this may change her life, catapulting her into motherhood. She had steadfastly refused the advances of any other male, but this handsome fellow was irresistible. So rather than being punished for her naughty escape and being sent to bunny camp while we were away for the weekend, she was rewarded with a honeymoon. He is a soft fawn color, so if it truly “took” she could cast a multi-colored litter of baby bunnies in about three weeks. We’ll see. Earlier this summer she tricked us into thinking she was pregnant, but this time consummation was witnessed. We think she’s a little tired, off her feed, not up to her usual hoppy self – first trimester fatigue? Anita is hopeful. Female rabbits can be very good mothers, but it’s not guaranteed, especially with a first litter. They can deliver them on the hutch floor instead of the nesting box, leaving them to chill and die. They can ignore them altogether. Or if startled by a stranger they may even eat a few. Yes. Not a Mother Dearest. If Honeysuckle is successful, they will be for sale to special persons whose credit history, spiritual maturity, and pet ownership standards must first be scrutinized and then accepted. We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grief that never comes to sobbing

It’s weird to think you must apologize for not blogging, but that’s what crossed my mind today and it makes me wonder why I should add this to my pantry of things purposed and failed. I’ve thought of postings that could have happened, like a photo of the huge marijuana plant that volunteered in our front yard. I left it there as a joke until I began to think of what ifs – what if law enforcement came by to question me, what if a passerby noticed and drew conclusions, what if I was tempted to harvest it? So I plucked it and held it up while Denis took a pic – it reached my nose – then I threw it in the compost. There are a collection of sound videos from Heartbeet Farm. One features the pigs talking. I wish I could write swinish dialogue for it, but am not that clever. I’ll post it soon and you can imagine your own.

I’m still slowly reading a book called The Enigma of Anger by Garret Keizer. If you receive Notes From Toad Hall you may be tired of my mentioning, but get used to it or go away because I’m not done yet. (Oh. Is that hostility? I make myself laugh.) There is so much that can be said about the topic and Keizer approaches the subject from many angles. He has some interesting and helpful insights, (though not all are equally so) and I was reminded of one yesterday when a pastor friend, Steve F. from New York, sent me a few of his favorite quotes from the book.

Here’s one that seemed significant and true to both of us, from our own and others’ lives we’ve observed:

“Many of our angry outbursts are the result of grief that never comes to sobbing.” p.113

As Steve says, “What will bring our griefs to sobbing? Perhaps when those who have wept already will weep with us, a flow of grace washes away the anger. And having wept our griefs, perhaps we may have the joy of that grace flowing into the lives of others. ‘Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.’ (Isaiah 53:4)”

Yes. I believe he has. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Naughty Bunny

Honeysuckle escaped into the back yard and when Denis tried to catch her she ran under the porch where we can't reach. Back in the dense dirt where 20 generations of stray cats have deposited their litter, where we trapped three possum and where spiders and cenitpede freely reproduce. She was finally enticed out with a tortilla chip and was grabbed. She came out filthy and extremely annoyed. She's been sent to bunny camp for the weekend. There will be another report on her condition and punishment next Monday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Make Pickles

Saturday was our weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market. This week Daniel and Hannah of Easy Yoke Farm had set aside two boxes of pickling cucumbers. Anita is a pickle fanatic and needs lots. Jars and jars. I heard her barter a trade with them: this week she will weed their carrot patch in exchange for cucumbers, dill, garlic and onions. She did ask, how big is it? 40 acres? “Naw,” said Daniel, “that would be Joe’s patch.”

The recipe for garlic dill pickles calls for cucumbers to soak overnight in cold water, whereas the bread & butter pickles only need three hours in icy salt water. So we  began. I love how cucumbers smell - clean and fresh - and how the sweet vinegary smell of the brine floods your nose and your hands get saturated with onions and garlic, so when you sleep at night with your hands under your cheek you dream of pickles. Denis joined the slicing and ladling of hot pickles into jars. About two thirds of the way through we realized we needed more jars and I was impatient with the dishwasher taking too long to sterilize another batch. So I grabbed them out saying, “I know. My mother did this.” All I needed was a shallow pan, so I put a cake pan on the electric burner turned on high, placed the jars upside down in two inches of water and waited for them to get really, really hot. Then I was like, wait. Who cares? This is PICKLING. The vinegar will kill anything that dares move. As they bubbled away, Denis picked the pints out one by one and filled them and Anita wiped the rims and put on the lids. Done! 24 jars!

Later, as we were cleaning up Anita was going to dump the water out of the cake pan, but found it oddly stuck to the burner. What the..? Denis tried prying it off and finally had to horse the burner up with the pan welded to the top. He managed to pop off the pan, but there was no saving either. So I no longer advise this method of “sterilizing” jars. Besides the risk, it isn’t very cost effective. And perhaps my mother DIDN’T do that. Perhaps I imagined it. Still, those pickles are really good and not that hard to make.

Go here to view album.

Bread & Butter Pickles

4 quarts pickling cucumbers, sliced thin (cucumbers should be 5-6 inches long and not too fat)
3 c. onions, cut in half, thinly sliced
2-3 bell peppers (green or red)
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1/3 c. pickling salt

Mix together. Add salt. Cover with ice water. Soak for three hours.
3 c. apple cider vinegar
5 c. sugar
2 T mustard seed
1 ½ t. celery seed
1 ½ t. turmeric
Heat together until it comes to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Drain the cucumber mixture. Place in large stock pot (do not use aluminum).
Pour in the brine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
While hot, ladle into jars and seal. Do not over-fill. Be sure brine covers the cucumbers.
Store after jars have cooled and sealed. Eat them as soon as you like, though pickle snobs wait for several weeks for them to thoroughly cure.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Honeysuckle throws the bus

Honeysuckle does not like toys. At least not this one. Perhaps they remind her of children. Two little boys have kicked her. One little girl grabbed her by her ears and face wool and shook her face back and forth.