Sunday, August 30, 2015

A turnip?

I am so very excited. I love radishes. So this year I planted some radishes. Some of the more exotic radishes you don't find in the supermarkets.

Delicious radishes!

I like radishes with butter. Radishes and salt. Radishes roasted and pickled.

Ok, what does this have to do with a turnip? Well...I love turnips too. And a couple of years ago I got a packet of turnip seeds. As it turned out at the time I didn't have any space left for turnips by the time I was done so I put them away and forgot about them. When I was looking for radish seeds I came across my turnip seeds. So I planted turnips with my radishes and look!

My very first turnip!

I never grew a turnip before.

What's even funnier is I planted them next door in a field that isn't planted this year. And not two days later the farmer came by and plowed the field! I didn't know what to expect of it. Well. A week later my radishes were coming but rather than nice straight lines it was just a patch of radishes scattered all over. And turnips! So thick they crowded out all the weeds.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Corn 2015!

The first local corn of the season is in!

18 July 2015

That's from Cooks Farm in Wrentham, MA. You can see that's fresh local corn. Look at the tassel!

It's definitely the early corn.

Bicolor Corn

It's a well developed ear with plump enough kernels but it's still not too flavorful. I like to microwave my corn 1 minute for each ear...but my microwave is broken! I can't be bothered to fix it because, frankly, I hardly ever use it. So I steam my corn in an inch of water for ...oh, a minute and a half to two minutes. That's it.

I was very surprised this year. I got desperate and bought an ear of corn from the supermarket. I'm not sure but I think it was New Jersey corn. And while just a *tiny* bit starchy it was actually quite good. I understand there's hybridized corn today whose sugar converts to starch very slowly.

I've had all kinds of time to blog but..well, I just haven't had anything interesting to say. Of course I always log the first and last of the season's corn. Nothing says "summer" to me more than corn and watermelon.

There are some notable other signs of summer around.

Tomato Plate

The field ripened tomatoes aren't in yet but the greenhouse tomatoes from the farm stands have been just delicious! I like slices or wedges on a plate, with chopped fresh basil and onions. I usually like red onions with this. Sometimes I use yellow. With the *tiniest* splash of red wine vinegar it's just, well, that's summer on a plate! Sometimes I sprinkle just a little bit of Parmesan cheese over that. And sometimes I use balsamic vinegar. And sometimes I just use a nice olive oil. You get the idea.

And of course it's bath season!

This is my G and she *desperately* needed a bath!

Thursday, June 11, 2015


A lot of orphans land at the barn. Of course it's an animal centric place anyway. But our manager is well known in local circles for wildlife management and rehab.

The latest call was over an abandoned raccoon. For some reason...this little guy got kicked out of his nest when he was a week old. This is very unusual raccoon behavior. You can drop any baby raccoon into a raccoon nest and it will more than likely be taken care of. Well...three weeks later and he's becoming a toddler...

Cutest thing ever!

Raccoons are adorable and they're fun and...they're a whole lot of trouble! Luckily we found a home for this little guy at a wildlife sanctuary up on the Vermont state line.

Over time we've had everything in the barn from woodchucks to flying squirrels and we even had a distressed fawn for a short while. Our most common orphans are squirrels.

Baby squirrels get blown out of their nests. Their mothers get run over by cars or maybe fall prey to coyotes. And they find their way to our barn.

They get nursed for a few weeks from little 10 cc syringes

The nursing syringes get bigger as they get bigger. Their first solid food is usually Cheerio's.

But the funniest thing of all with squirrels is..."release day". Once they've grown and they're able to take care of themselves they get released.

So very exciting!

Did you know it takes 3 days to release a squirrel? It's very funny.

Day 1. Take squirrels out to the woods, turn them loose and have a seat. And for 30 minutes they'll sit your lap and look around. The world is such a scary place!

Day 2. Take squirrels out to the woods, turn them loose and have a seat. They'll start in your lap and after a minute or two will start to wander around and look at stuff. They may travel as far as 12 feet away but frequently come back to your lap for reassurance.

Day 3. Take squirrels out to the woods, turn them loose and have a seat. They'll start in your lap and after a minute or two they'll wander around. They'll look back. Then they hit the trees and you'll never see them again.

Let's just all get along

Monday, May 18, 2015

They miss their shed

This is so sad. They *really* miss their shed. It collapsed under the snow over the wintertime.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Gone Fishin'

Last fall I decided to take up fishing again. I fished many many years ago but after having my lifelong fishing rod stolen I just lost my way. Sad story. Left my car wide open rod gone. Thing is, that fishing rod was like an old friend. We'd been through a lot. Traveled all over the country. Been lost by the airlines and recovered.

But circumstances were such last fall that fishing sure seemed like the thing to do.

I made a couple of outings and..oh hell, it wasn't as easy as I remembered! So I mostly practiced. Lost a few lures. Started to get my game back, as the saying goes. Now, with spring blooming...and fish dimpling the pond outside...I decided I'd do some scouting and maybe really try and catch something.

Of course this helps too...

Why yes, this really *is* my back yard!

So I found some nice water and...Thursday morning, 30 April, went seriously fishing!

Although frankly, it really is more about this..

Just listening to the river passing by and enjoying being outdoors.

But, as luck would have it, I did a fair job reading the water and it was a most perfect day. Here! My first fish in almost 30 years!

Brook Trout? Grass Carp I think!

My second cast landed me a pretty little trout. And 4 more in the next half hour! And all kinds of missed strikes along the way. Great fun! Of course I released them all. I was pretty thrilled. And no kidding, that really is my back yard. And I'm not telling anyone exactly where I caught those pretty little fish.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bouncy Bird

There's a funny little bird I see around the barn now and then. First saw one maybe 3 or 4 years ago. He walks along and, when he's about to reach with his hind leg, he bounces on his leading leg. It's an absolute riot. It's like he's dancing along.

From a distance and not paying much attention I'd thought it was a killdeer. But then a few weeks ago I scared one up along the driveway and thought wait a minute! That doesn't look anything like a killdeer! Actually...doesn't behave much like one either. We have killdeer all around the barn and they're *very* territorial. Go anywhere near them and they run around frantically screaming like little nutbags.

Having a better up close look I got out the field guide to the birds and...I'll be. It's an...

American Woodcock

I've never seen a woodcock out in the open before! I hear them all the time. They're very shy birds. I've seen them take flight in the woods. I even ate one once. It was delicious. Although it would take quite a few of them to satisfy any kind of appetite!

Now this just amazes me. Find the woodcock!

Hover your mouse over the image to find the woodcock!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Taxes and Swallows

Right on time.

The scout swallow was in the barn first thing yesterday morning, 15 April. That just amazes me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Minor Obsessions

I have a couple of minor obsessions. One of them is Limestone, Maine. And, to a lesser extent, Caribou, Maine.

A couple of years ago I'd looked at some property near Limestone and it was then I found Limestone was the home of Loring Air Force, a Cold War SAC base. Being a native New Englander I had a passing acquaintance with Loring. At least I knew there was a big bomber base in Maine. And we all knew the (sometimes daily) weather reports from Caribou were really meant to inform people going to the base.

But there were many things I didn't know. A few facts which gave rise to my interest. For example, Loring Air Force base was the 2nd largest SAC base (over 14,000 acres!). Had the highest fuel capacity of any SAC base and, most interestingly, secret of course at the time, the largest weapons storage capacity in all of SAC.

At one time the arch hangar at Loring AFP, one of the largest in the world, was the largest arched roof structure in the United States. Six B-52s could simultaneously park in the double cantilever hangar. Both of these structures are still standing.

Loring had not just one, but two runways. Three miles long!

Loring was closed in September 1994. And here's what I found fascinating, sad, but fascinating. The base closing was a catastrophe for the region. At its peak the base population was over 10,000. The base provided another 1000 civilian jobs. And yet another 12,000 lived in nearby Limestone. The population combined I think was somewhere around 22,500.

When the base closed the population of Limestone dropped to almost 2,000. That just amazed me. Teachers. Service stations. Furniture stores. Appliance stores. Hardware stores. Pizza shops. IGA Foodliner. All of them just...vanished. Almost overnight. And of course that put even further pressure on the remaining population, now having to travel to Caribou or Presque Isle just to find a hardware store. And you can just imagine what happened to real estate.

Today the old Loring Air Force base is the Loring Commerce Center, which has been largely successful, with tenants providing almost 1000 jobs and the rest of the region is agricultural use. Farmers. Mostly potatoes. But apparently the region is also the largest producer of broccoli in the US. I had no idea!

I just found the whole thing fascinating. So I read their papers now and then and I see one of their more prominent tenants, Sitel, announced in February that they're moving to Caribou. Those people have worked really hard to make all that work and I think that's probably going to hurt.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Canadian Horse Status

L is a purebred Canadian Horse.

Snow bath! 29 January.

The (American) Livestock Conservancy has (again) classified the Canadian Horse as Critically Endangered. I looked at the data. Maybe...oh, 7 years or so ago there were more than 6,000 Canadian Horses and the breed registry data showed encouraging breeding data, with over 400 horses born in both 2007 and 2008.

Economic downturn always hurts the horse industry. For many of us equestrian pursuits are luxurious discretionary pastimes. Canadian Horses have been endangered before and their numbers were on a healthy rebound the early half of the past 20 years. Seven and eight years ago one would expect to see over 400 Canadian Horses born each year.

I looked at the numbers and ...well, I guess I just haven't paid much attention lately. I was shocked to learn the population has dropped to less than 2000 animals and the last year or record, 2013, there were only 170 newly registered Canadian Horses. Such sad news. These are perfectly delightful animals.

L is everything a Canadian Horse should be. Her farrier says "those are what feet are supposed to be like". Her dentist says "those are what teeth are supposed to be like". I put a blanket on her once. It was below 0. She overheated. She's big. She's strong. She has a lot of presence. She's a Little Iron Horse type. Luxurious is a word that comes to mind.

Canadian Horses are highly prized for their temperaments. L is very smart. She's also very ...sensible. Everything about her is reassuring to a rider. Oh, it wasn't always that way. I'm the only rider she's every carried. I trained her (under the supervision of my trainer) and, oh, there were times my hands shook so bad I could barely buckle her bridle. Riding her was that scary. She didn't mean any harm...just a young horse. Mare. Doing young horse things. She'd puff up like a cat and throw a tantrum. When she stomped both of her front feet you knew to hang on.

After becoming more comfortable and starting some trail work outside of the ring I'd gone to mount up near the barn. I climb on board and, *just* as I swing my leg over her back, the heel of my right foot over the cantle, dead middle of her back, she *leaps* into a dead run. I'm hanging on for dear life. Yelling "HO! HO! HO!" while she ran the length of the barn. As fast as she could. While someone in the barn yelled back "Merry Christmas!". Very funny. Actually it was. She stopped, I hoisted my sorry butt into the saddle. And she never did that again. Young horse stuff.

Whatever issues we'd had, we always remained engaged. There was always "conversation". We had that going for us and *that* is 100% Canadian Horse!

If horses are your thing, get to know a Canadian Horse sometime.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ice Out!

I live on the Charles River. The more rural headwaters end.  The river is as reliable an indicator of the trending weather as any.

And Monday 16 March...

Ice Out! See it? The bend in the river? That's not shadow, that's open water!

And the open water is expanding almost before your eyes.

Boston broke its official all time snowfall record last night at 7:00 pm. Keep in mind that's at the airport, on the harbor. Where it often rains when it snows here. I think we broke our record a couple of weeks ago. Of course we know about snow. But the more striking thing is almost *all* of that snow fell in the past 6 weeks. Up until almost the first of February we hadn't had more than a few inches. So we all got dumped on pretty good and we felt it!

"Meteorological spring" is 1 March. The sunshine is much brighter and takes some of the harshness out of the cold. The more official "astronomical spring" is this Friday. The 20th. At 6:46 pm. Either way...good riddance, winter. Don't hurry back!

I keep pretty close track of when the swallows arrive and depart. And I'm pretty good about noting when the flowers blossom. I need to keep better track of when the river freezes solid and when the ice clears.

And when L sheds. She's easy! She doesn't gradually shed her coat like most other horses. She loses barely a hair here and there and then one day, poof! Hair everywhere! And the next day she finishes. I haven't kept track of that day's date. I'll have to start this year.

Hopefully we'll enjoy a ride in a few more days. The huge snowbanks will be here for quite a while but the blanket snow is melting very quickly!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Still too much...


8 March. Still buried!

Even though it's been unusually cold the air is starting to become notably less harsh. We've been free of fresh snow and the sun feels good. Things are even starting to melt. I thought maybe I'd catch a ride this last weekend! I haven't been out riding now since 28 25 January when this all started.

But no I think the snow is a little too deep. Oh, I know L can plow through this stuff but after maybe a quarter mile or so I don't think it would be much fun for her. So maybe next week I'll ride.

We're lucky. A number of barns have collapsed here. Horses have been hurt and sadly a couple of horses were lost. We lost L's shed. The roof collapsed with a little help from a falling tree limb. She wasn't out there. I knew it was going to go and I wasn't going to put anyone out there until I fenced it off.

24 February

Of course I'm going to have to clean up that mess. She loves her shed! Those, by the way, are Mulberry trees on either side of the shed. The horses love those mulberries as much as I do!

If you look carefully, along the right wall of the shed, at the top of the fence rail, that's L watching me from the paddock on the other side of the shed. No doubt wondering what I'm doing out there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Manhattan Memory

Not the island.

The classic Manhattan

A very simple cocktail actually. One part sweet vermouth, a dash of Angostura bitters, two parts rye whiskey, stir over ice and strain into a martini glass with a maraschino cherry.

There are variations. You can make a Manhattan with bourbon. I don't like bourbon Manhattans. Too sweet for me. Much to my surprise I do like the Cuban Manhattan. Yes, that uses rum rather than rye. Dark rum. Although I like mine with golden rum. And I like the Tijuana Manhattan. You guessed it. Tequila rather than rye. I used to tend bar. So I like to try these things at least once. There's also a dry Manhattan. Use dry vermouth rather than sweet vermouth. No, don't like those. The rye completely overpowers the dry vermouth. Might as well have a whiskey and water.

The Manhattan is one of my winter cocktails of choice. It says "winter" to me like gin and tonic says "summer". It's dark. It's heavy. Rich and luscious. It's the complete opposite of light and refreshing. Flavors sometimes bring back memories just as smells and sounds do.

When I was a kid the only chain restaurants I can remember are Howard Johnson's and Friendly's. Of course we had McDonald's and I can remember buying bags of 20 hamburgers for $4. I think I'd heard of Arby's too. Now and then we'd go to Howard Johnson's or Friendly's.

But for special occasions, birthdays and anniversaries, it was always a fancy steakhouse or seafood restaurant. Anthony's. Jimmy's. My most favorite restaurant, Lockeober. The Coach Grill. Ken's. Even Valle's (a small local chain at the time). And for really living large, the Newbury Steakhouse.

It was on those occasions I remember my mom would usually have a Manhattan before dinner. And always gave me the cherry. Manhattans bring those memories back into sharp focus. By the time I get to the cherry I remember sitting at a white tablecoth in a dimly lit dining room. Dark wood all around, maybe some red on the walls and spindles were popular then. I remember these places always had relish trays on the table.

I don't think there's anyplace you can go today for that kind of experience.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ay yi yi

Bad enough we've had 8 feet of snow in the past 3 weeks.

Now this!

Saturday 21 February, 9:30 am

That was the thermometer in my car yesterday morning. It was -12° F (-24° C) when I got up. And even though today is almost 40° and raining it will be back below 0 tonight with little relief in sight.

The weather isn't the Big Story around here these days. It's the *only* story these days. Roofs have collapsed all over the region.

Driving can be treacherous

So can walking. This was over a week ago. It's almost like walking in a tunnel now.

And the deer must be really desperate to be out like this in broad daylight. This is from my living room window at 9:30 Thursday morning. In 25 years now I've only seen this a couple of times.

Enough already! I am *so* looking forward to spring!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

About That Snow

Remember I said I don't mind the snow so much?

I take that back.

North Street, 2 February, 1:00 pm

I feel like I'm in Siberia! We've had front end loaders as big as houses trying to clear this stuff up. And...more snow in the forecast for tomorrow! Of course life around the barn is very hard when it gets like this. The snow is up to L's flanks.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Then and Now...

This just cracks me up. This is Weebil. He has a problem and he wobbles a little bit so ... naturally, his name is Weebil. Or more affectionately, Weebs.

December 2014

One can plainly see. He's *huge*. he is when he first came to the barn as a captured feral..

August 2005

And, just to help put it in perspective...

He was smaller than a tennis ball!

Monday, January 26, 2015


We had our first real snow of the season over the weekend. We've had a few light dustings here and there but this was the first snow that amounted to anything.

Sunday 25 January

I don't mind the snow so much. L loves the snow!


I really *hate* the cold. This was enough snow to cover the treacherous frozen ground so we got out there and rode for the first time in weeks.

I used a saddle. Sometimes L gets a little frisky charging around those snow covered fields. It was so nice to get out there and ride. I see lots of animals follow our trails in the woods. We used to follow the deer trails. Then we started making our own trails. The New England woods can be very deceptive. They appear to be quite thick, and they are, but down on ground level they can be surprisingly open. It's because of all the shade. So now I see the deer and the coyotes are out there using our trails!

An epic blizzard is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. And apparently the population is in a panic. Supermarkets open extra hours being stripped clean. I don't get it. I *really* don't get it. This is coastal New England. We can have crippling storms almost any time of year. In the winter we have blizzards. In the summer we have hurricanes. In the fall we have nor'easters. Spring is usually pretty quiet. So you keep candles handy. A couple days worth of canned food. And don't forget a good book!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mad Face!

Sitting on the couch can be a little chilly this time of year. Sometimes I cross my arms and tuck my cold fingers underneath. And Oliver just can't help himself. He sees my fingertips peak out from under my armpits and sinks his claws in them. I spin around and scream "NO! BAD CAT! BAD CAT!" and what do I get?

The Mad Face

I swear if the Little Bastard wasn't so funny I'd send him packing.

But then I just might miss my...constant companion.

Here we are counting change from the mason jar

And here we are doing dishes at the sink...

What? I'm in the way?

He has *tons* of personality. As soon as I put on my shoes and coat he runs and lies down at the door...

No you can't leave!

He's cute as can be and he goes all dead weight. Make no mistake. Pick him up and he's all claws and teeth. I kind of have to work him away from the door with my shoe. Or barn bag. You'd think he'd be happy to be rid of me. I spend most of the time chasing him around yelling "YOU LITTLE BASTARD" while spraying him with a squirt bottle.

But every once in a while he's rather sweet. And he is getting fatter and lazier all the time. He's over 2 years old now. It will be so nice when he's sleeping 22 hours a day!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rum Glazed Salmon?

I can fix salmon hundreds of ways. No. Countless ways. From a homemade Filet-O-Fish to en papillote and everything in between.

I often do a maple mustard glaze with dill. Or teriyaki. Salmon is wonderful with a teriyaki sauce.

I was inspired by this Bourbon Glazed Salmon recipe but...didn't have any bourbon in the house. Shocking. I know. I gave it some thought and decided I'd use some dark rum I had in the pantry.

Now who wouldn't want to eat this?

Here's what I did:
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice from 1 lime
My cooking is generally "little bit of this and little bit of that". Adjust those amounts to whatever might suit your taste. That made enough for maybe a pound of fish. I mixed everything except the lime juice in a bag. I added my skinless salmon fillets (wild Atlantic Salmon) and marinated for 5 hours or so in the refrigerator.

An hour before cooking the fish I added the lime juice to the bag. I didn't want the acid in the lime juice to mess up the texture of the fish.

I put a cast iron skillet in my oven and preheated the oven to 425° F. While the oven was heating I poured the marinade into a small sauce pan and reduced it.

I put the fish on the cast iron skillet skin side up. This way the fish gets a nice sear on it. Follow the 10 minutes in the oven per inch of fish rule. My fillets took about 7 minutes. Check them often! About a minute or so before I thought the fish was done I spooned the reduced marinade over it so it would glaze.

I paired it with a Pinot Noir. I'm not sure I even have the words to describe how good it was. Really a stellar dish.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

One Bored Mare

L is a big, strong, healthy vibrant horse. There's no way I can work her long enough or hard enough to tire her out. I can ride hard for 3 hours and she's still fresh as a daisy. I've often thought we should maybe take up endurance riding! And...she's smart. So it's hard to distract her sometimes and keep her entertained.

Couple of months ago she began tormenting her stablemates in the night. Now, I think this is hilarious. She'd chew holes in her wall and peak at her neighbors through the holes. And of course then they'd scream and kick and she was really making her little sister P all kinds of upset. And obviously not everyone thought this was so funny. Besides. Not good for her to be chewing wood. After the *3rd* time a wall was kicked *down* I had to do something. Mares tend to have a lot of, personality. Even when they're not in heat.

More hay wasn't going to help. She blows through hay like a demon. Besides. She's too fat. As a temporary measure we put her nighttime hay in a hay net so she'd have to work at it. And ...she got really mad. L isn't the kind of horse that would find a Jolly Ball very entertaining. Then there's those Likit things which are expensive and don't last hardly an hour.

L likes to nibble on things and flap her lips. You know that thing you do with your finger where you flap your lips? Well..L likes to do that. Sometimes she'll even furiously flap her lips on your forehead. And she likes to rub her teeth on rough surfaces. This time of year one of her favorite things is to (again, *furiously*) run her teeth up and down your jacket zipper. Try putting a bridle on when she's doing that! So I got her one of these...

The Pas-A-Fier

At first...she didn't pay it much attention. But night..our barn manager noticed a quiet unfamiliar an otherwise pretty quiet barn. And I noticed the nubs getting chewed on a little and...the shaft where it sits in the brackets is shiny. And now the footing has been treacherous. All kinds of frozen ridges and sheets of ice under the snow. The horses have been in their stalls for almost a week now and it's very stressful. And that Pas-A-Fier has been rolling to beat the band all night long. No new holes in the wall. Nobody screaming and kicking in the night. I wish I'd bought two of them!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fish Sticks Again?!

Yes! Fish sticks are a favorite!

Wild Atlantic Salmon Fish Sticks

This is my universal fish stick recipe you just can't beat.
  • Fish. Whatever you like. Salmon, cod, haddock, halibut, pollock, trimmed into fish stick size pieces.
  • Whole wheat flour
  • 1 or 2 eggs depending on the amount of fish, beaten, with a tablespoon or 2 of water
  • Whole wheat bread crumbs
Here's what you do:

Heat your oven to 450° F.
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Dust the fish in whole wheat flour, shake off the excess, dip into the beaten egg mixture, dip into the whole wheat bread crumbs to coat, put them a on a cookie cooling rack. Put the cookie cooling rack on a half sheet pan and put the fish sticks in a 450° oven for just 6 or 8 minutes. I follow the 10 minute per inch of fish rule and check early. When the breading goes golden brown and they barely start to flake they're done.

I've made salmon, cod, haddock, halibut and pollock fish sticks all with this single recipe. The salmon I find is especially good. Biting into a fish stick and finding salmon inside is just *crazy*. Of course you can use any kind of bread crumbs but I find bread crumbs from homemade bread will make a real difference.

Salmon Fish Sticks Up Close. Ridiculously good.

This is the very same recipe I use for homemade Filet-O-Fish. I use a sandwich sized fish fillet and I do the exact same thing with it and have it on a bun. With <gasp>cheese. Aw c'mon, who doesn't like a Filet-O-Fish?

Mix some mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish and lemon juice for a nice homemade tartar sauce. For salmon I mix up a sauce using mayonnaise, dill, a splash of lemon juice and a little bit of maple syrup. [Edited to add]: And I put a spot of Dijon mustard in that mix for salmon.

Hunting season is over! We're so very happy to be back in the fields and woods. We stay very close to the barn during hunting season.

Happy New Year!
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