Saturday, January 21, 2012


Barn cats are decidedly different than house cats. Now don't get me wrong, our barn cats are all spayed or neutered, and they receive regular vet care - but they are extremely independent.

They have no fear of the sheep, the donkeys or the dogs. They know where all of the best hidey holes are, and they have built incredible tunnel systems within the hay storage. It's not unusual to see a cat disappear into the base of the round bales, and appear moments later at the top, taking some secret short cut within. They know to hide deep in the hay on the coldest days, and they know to avoid chasing the ducks.

They know the routines and come running as they see me heading for the sheep barn. Each day as I head down to the barns to feed sheep and donkeys and chickens and ducks....I also have a can of cat food tucked into the recesses of my deep coverall pockets.  It's true they don't really need it, they are quite portly looking. But I argue that in the winter months a wee bit of wet food is enough to keep some much needed fat on their frames. There is plenty of time for them to slim down again in the summer months chasing butterflies.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fuzzy Faces

When I was about nine years old, I got to choose my wallpaper in our new suburban home. I chose a pattern made up of repeated horses.  It was mostly brown in colour and combined with my new tan carpeting, it made for a very brown room.  I insisted on a "horse' bedspread to complete the look.  Over the years I had collected china horses, and I recall turning my bedside cubby into a "stable" for them all.

My peers at the time were primarily interested in the Smurfs, or Charlie's Angels. I was smitten by horses. That summer I insisted on going to riding camp, where I got to learn to ride. I spent two summers at camp, and despite the fact that I didn't fit in well with the other girls - they were slim and all went to the same boarding school - I did fit in well with the horses.

Is it any wonder that years later I am smitten by donkeys? In a way, donkeys are the "poor man's horse", a beast of burden. I adore their long ears, and their intelligent eyes.

Today as I stood in the equestrian store, I felt much like I used to at horse camp. The misfit - who didn't quite fit in.  The sales girl asked if I required help, and I explained I was looking for vitamin supplements for an overweight donkey.  She sort of smiled a polite smile, and pointed me in the right direction. As I wandered the aisle I listened to her giggling with the other salesgirls - wondering if she was explaining that I was a donkey lady.

It's not that I don't adore horses, I do. It's just that donkeys are something truly special. They have a way of creeping into your heart with their fuzzy faces.

Perhaps, they are the ancestor of the great unicorn. After all, on a sunny day it's easy to imagine those long ears melding into one.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dear Dobby

He is a wee bit portly. In fact, the roll of fat along his neck has to go, or he will start to founder. But he is such a sweetie that I don't mind leading him about to give him a spot of exercise.

We have taken in an older gelding. He is about 6 years old, and his feet require attention - along with his waistline.  His previous owners fed him a diet high in pasture grasses and alfalfa...not ideal for donkeys. That's sort of like you and I eating a diet high in sugar.  It tends to cause waistline expansion!

The first few days he ran from us whenever we entered his stall area. He was terrified of the pitchfork, which leads us to wonder if it has been used to correct him in the past. We simply kept on entering his stall and established a routine. Working quietly and moving slowly so that he could get used to us.  We put him in with our Jack and the two of them get along like a house on fire. (No wonder, our Jack was so lonely he was happy to pen up with anyone!)  And the new fellow began to watch our Jack, nuzzling us for affection - and checking our pockets to see if we had apple slices or carrots.

It's been a week, and already he is settling in. He no longer runs from us, but now hesitantly approaches sniffing the air to see what we have. We are still working on the pitchfork. Sniff the pitchfork, get a piece of carrot. Touch the pitchfork, get a piece of apple. It's slow work, but we are teaching him that the pitchfork is nothing to be afraid of.

We have named him Dobby. I whispered to him today "not to worry Dobby, I have a few pounds to lose as well. We shall both shape up by spring".
That's Dobby peeking out from behind Radar

Saturday, January 7, 2012

They grow up so fast...

He is still only 11 months old, but he has grown into such a lovely dog. This is Murdzo, and looking at this photo I have realized his head is larger than mine.  He is such a big old lovable bear of a dog...well, if you know him. ;)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bathroom Bliss

Well, it's begun. The bathroom renovation may actually happen in 2012!  It started when I found the perfect old oak sideboard to convert into a vanity.  That stirred the imagination of my dear sweet fireman and he began to think about getting to work on our sorry old washroom.

It also helped when we were visiting our sweet old neighbour Wilson, and he said "yes, I remember installing that washroom, back in 1958".  I gave a pointed look at my better half then turned to Wilson and wryly said "well old man, do you warranty your work because the plumbing is leaking!"

We have a tub, we have a vanity, we have selected a lovely hand hammered copper sink. I am leaning towards the Moen Banbury faucet in bronze, and will also use the matching Banbury line for the tub and towel holders. 

The tub tile is picked, it's a natural stone in a warm off white.  The floor had me stumped, but I have decided on a river rock floor, the larger river rock has been hard to find, but this is not bad and may work. You can see the old linoleum that is there now! The river rocks are about one inch to two inches in size, not as big as I would like but thus far the largest I can find.  (If we had the dollars to install an outdoor furnace, I would have the floor heated as well, wouldn't that be luxurious!)

We got a bit creative with the lights. They are actually outdoor lights, but I think they will work well with the rustic feel we are going for.  This ceiling light reminds me of a barn light.  We also got three of these downward facing lantern lights to go over the vanity mirror.  They also remind me of a barn! Ours are in an oil rubbed bronze, which will work well with the ceiling light.

So there you have it, it may actually be possible to have a new bathroom before lambing season starts. A girl can hope right?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What to do with Fred

Using my sourdough every few weeks is difficult to remember to do sometimes. Typically I open the fridge and see the canister labelled Fred, and go "oh no! I forgot to use it this week"...and yet somehow my sourdough is surviving. I attribute it to the dark ceramic canister and the fact that it eventually does get used.

My standby is cinnamon rolls, which don't need to rise and can be baked immediately. But I was getting tired of them, and don't have the patience to make bread which requires rising the loaves in a warm place. This old farmhouse is so drafty there are no "warm draft free" places for the bread to rise. Heck I would have more luck putting the loaves in the sheep barn.

So I found this recipe on line, and I was quite pleased with it. It produced a moist light coffee cake.


•***Streusel Topping***

•1/2 c. flour
•1/4 c. sugar
•1/8 tsp. cinnamon
•1/4 c. butter


•1 cup fed sourdough starter
•1/3 c. oil
•1 egg
•1 c. flour
•3/4 c. sugar
•1/2 tsp. salt
•1 tsp. baking soda
•1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


Mix the streusel topping first by combining flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, then rubbing the cold butter in with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly and sticks together if you press it between your fingers. You may use a mixer, if you wish.
Set crumbs aside.
To make the cake, place the sourdough starter in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined.
Pour the batter into a buttered and floured, 8 or 9 inch square pan or an 8 inch, round, layer cake pan. Smooth top and sprinkle reserved crumbs evenly over the batter.
Let the cake rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. What I did was turn the oven on low as I was preparing the cake batter, and turned it off after about 5 minutes. I then put it inside the warm oven.
Bake at 375°F for about 35 minutes, or until cake is set and the sides begin to pull away from the pan.
Remove, cool and enjoy.