Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
January 2012

I’ve been thinking about things.

I’ve been thinking…a dangerous pastime, I know. Maybe I’ve been watching too many Waltons/Extreme Makeover: Home Edition/Downton Abbey episodes as of late, but I’ve been having odd thoughts about mortality. We get so worked up, so upset about things, that in the end, really, mean absolutely nothing. Everyone I know is having babies, even the gay ones!, and I’m wondering if that alters one’s life perspective. Perhaps. I know I need someone to help carry the hay while I feed the llamas!

Goldfinches in a wild cherry tree. We don’t forget moments like that. I was carrying our baby goat Terri around the barn today when I looked up into the sky because I heard a hawk above. And sure enough, baby Terri and I saw him sweeping over the neighboring cornfields, looking for his dinner, calling out, perhaps in anger, as he did so. Those are life moments. Like seeing goldfinches in a wild cherry tree. They don’t happen every day. They remind us, connect us to, the power of what really matters. Hakuna Matata!

I don’t know about you, but for too long I’ve been living under a cloud of sarcastic negativity. And that has to end. Tonight. Our lives are imperfect, perhaps because we’re meant to question the very lives we are leading. We may never be perfect, but I know I’ll only be 32 once. I’ll only have Bob Evans for a finite number of years. I live on a farm that pulses with a unique life energy 24-hours a day. My baby ram comes to me for re-assurance every day, because he knows (I like to think), that I was there when he was born.

Don doesn’t know it, but when he leaves for business to Washington, D.C., I drink champagne. He would be angry, I know, as it was bought for the bed and breakfast. But it’s delicious. And, as the re-incarnation of Marie Antoinette, it’s in my blood! Sorry, Donnie, but I’m going to drink the champagne. Life is short. I shouldn’t, nay, I can’t, worry about everyone else who may wish harm upon me (and my businesses). And the champagne can’t be left all alone in the wine cooler. It get’s so lonely.

I went to pick up my dry cleaning the other day, only to find out it was rejected. That’s never happened to me before. It turns out there was too much cat hair on some of the clothes. Mea culpa! I forgot about it for too long, and a combination of Jack, Ms. Kitty, and Fancy made our delicate sweaters and over-priced suits their beds. Initially, at the dry cleaners, I was upset. My former city self started to emerge. “Clean it – damn the hair – you’re a cleaner after all!” I wanted to shout, but held it back. Because I’m changing. If the cats want to sleep on a fluffy down jacket – if only because I was too slow to take it to the cleaners when I should have – then so be it. The jacket does not matter. And I can lint roll it to death! (And find another cleaner as my city mouse hasn’t died completely and they should’ve cleaned it!)

As I face a week with major events on the horizon, I’m bolstered with excitement. This is my year. My time to live as I intend, with those I love! Tomorrow, when you wake up, don’t curse what may lay ahead, but instead think of the possibilities. We are amazing. And if someone tells you otherwise, they’ll have to answer to Bacon, Bob Evans, and everyone at Orchard House! We’re a family, and you’re a valued member!

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A sheep shelter.

Following in the steps of Rob Roy and Braveheart (whatever his name was), – oh, William Wallace – I have built a tried-and-true shelter for my sheep. They are Scottish after all! All this involves in some straw, wooden stakes, and some form of roofing. Back in the day, it was probably wood or thatch or Highland coo poo. I used some kind of roofing material. I’m not a roofer, don’t ask me what it is.

I think this shelter is pretty fabulous. Every few months, it can be easily dis-assembled and one can replace the old straw with new. The only thinkgI want to add; some turf to the roof – a green roof of sorts. I can’t find turf at Lowes right now though. But I can get a picnic umbrella or a nice wooden bench. They have some messed up ideas of seasonality!

I’m going to build one for Bacon next. I’ll think he’ll get a real kick out of it. And he’ll eat it and destroy it! Unless, that is, if someone doesn’t blow it down first. (A cheap joke, but worth it none-the-less!)

 

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What has happened to me?

I used to be fancy. Or at least poser-fancy. I would make my annual trip to Harrods and buy grossly overpriced sweaters, throw-back oysters in the “food court” and, for a moment, understand why Edwin would have them deliver groceries to her house. I also used to enjoy flipping through catalogues – J.Crew as a throw-back, L.L. Bean because I’m rugged. Now, I’m giddy when the livestock catalogues come in the mail. After all, they do sell cattle prods!

I love these “magazines” (as I call them), because they show me a world of which I have no clue but find so wonderfully interesting. I don’t buy anything from them, mind you. My TSC can supply at the same costs without the shipping, but it doesn’t have the diversity. Ultra Start Multi Colostrum Supplement, Round Dairy/Beef Show Halter, Coop’N Compost Odor Neutralizer? All in one location? And Rattlesnake Vaccine? I mean, come on now!

I was salvaging some large tree stumps from the neighbors property today (for the goats to jump on), and did actuality think about the snakes. I was wearing boots…and gloves…but it would still be intense. Remind me, some dark stormy night, to tell you about the time I was showing a group of three-year-olds a 12-inch water snake, and when it went tried to bite my hand, I threw it into the crowd of sitting toddlers. One the upside, you’ve never seen kids run so fast!

It’s nice I’ve found a place to take care of my snake bites, but I think I’ll still go to the hospital should the snakes attack. Even if you’re not a farmer, or don’t own an animal, take a trip through your local farm store one of these days. Udder Wash, Hoof Heal, and Safe-Guard Mineral Mix are only a few of things you’ll find. And there are probably people there who know exactly what all this should be used for! We do live in a diverse world. I’ve lived in one, and am an apprentice in the other. My magazines are making me smarter. Some day, I’ll have that blue belt!

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Carrot Cake – this recipe ain’t playin’!

Ok, ladies and gents, hold on to your hats. I’ve baked a lot of cakes in my day. Some were genius (I’m thinking of your Devil Dog), and some were not-so-great (I’m thinking of you Red Velvet). This carrot cake recipe is perhaps one of the best in my stock – moist and delish are the words of the day. And now, it’s all yours. I don’t even put icing on it! I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese icing (gasp!), but have no fear, as this cake works great solo. Without further ado….enjoy!

The (real) Carrot Cake of Orchard House

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (I like the chunky)
  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional – I don’t use ‘em)
  • (I’m contemplating adding 1/2 cup golden raisins)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, pineapple, sugars and 3 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

 

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Umami.

I’ve been feeling an odd feeling lately. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s the umami of human emotion. Neither am I manic or depressive. I’m for sure not Bi (or polar). I’m in a good space, with a hint of savoriness.

This year holds a lot of promise. The jam is gonna be major! I’m about to become a Master Gardner (or at least being classes to become such). Spring is a short few months away – maybe we’ll have some baby lambs and alpaca (i.e. cria) join the family. I’m thrilled to be contributing some pieces to FOLK Magazine. Oh, and Donnie is making beer.

Is umami the feeling of hope? The Sí, se puede of human emotion? Who knows what 2012 may hold…but all signs are pointing to an eventful year!

What’s your year looking like? Anything exciting going on?

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