Rain, beef, and trains

We have been having lots of rain. I think we’ve had over 4 inches since this time last week. There’s lots of that green mossy color on everything. Some sunshine would be very welcome. I actually saw the sun this morning…for an instant, then the clouds moved in. Bringing with them a mixture of rain, snow and sleet. Thankfully it didn’t last long. Snow is forecast for later this week…Danny said, it would be more than our last snow of around 2 inches. Danny is our resident weather reporter…he’s the only one on the farm who has TV reception and watches local weather.

Our son decided that it was time to butcher the steer that he had grown from a calf. He and his wife shared with us and with Danny. So last week was spent cutting up and packaging meat. The guys did all the cutting. And I did a good portion of the packaging. It just costs so much to take it to a processing plant, plus this way we know how the meat is processed, And, we know for sure we have what was grown here on the farm. All was cut off the bone with a nice bit going into burger. We all enjoy some roasts, but ground seems to be the preferred choice. We feel so blessed to have meat in the freezer. I also cooked some of the bones and made stock…14 qts…, which will be great for soups.

This past week Garry and I committed ourselves to an adventure in March. We have been planning on going to Oregon to visit our youngest son and his family in March. Just hadn’t decided on the mode of transportation. Garry wasn’t really wanting to drive that far…36 hours of driving time. Flying isn’t something we either one care to do anymore. The security circus just doesn’t appeal to us. We considered the bus, but…well, I’m sure you can understand how comfy that wouldn’t be. Then last fall we visited the train museum in Bowling Green and began thinking a train trip sounded like fun. We finally decided to go for it and take the train. We will be taking the bus from Bowling Green to Indianapolis. There we board a train to Chicago. At Chicago, we board the Empire Builder which will take us to Portland. It takes a very northern route, at times not far from the Canadian border. Here’s a map showing the route: 

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The last couple days we’ve been searching for pictures of our route, just to have a idea of what to expect. This is an area neither one of us have ever traveled in. In the process we discovered we’ll be going over several trestle bridges, even a drawbridge as we cross into Oregon. Garry doesn’t much care for long bridges. Told him he could read a book and ignore them. We’ll be going through the Flathead tunnel, 7.1 miles, the 2nd longest railroad tunnel in the United States. The longest one, 7.79 miles, is the Cascade tunnel, along the route to Seattle.

Thought I’d share a few pictures I found online.

Empire Builder

Empire-Builder-at-Two-Medic

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Top left: Amtrak Empire Builder in Montana,USA –freefoto.com                   

Top right: in Cascade Mountains…attributed to 2 people – Jim Loomis and Dean Johnson….I don’t know who took it.                                                           Bottom left:  crossing Two Medicine River Bridge near Glacier National Park in Montana. Amtrak Photo.                                                                               

Bottom right: Marias Pass ..photography by Dale Jones.

So as you can see, we have quite an adventure in store. I’m really looking forward to going. I’m also looking forward to seeing those 3 granddaughters. Garry hasn’t seen the youngest two and I haven’t seen the baby. Just wish they didn’t live so far from us. It’ll be wonderful to see their parents, as well. To put it mildly.

Well, it’s way past my bedtime, so I better be closing this. I have a cat (Snickers) on my shoulder, so will have to disturb her. It has become her favorite place to be when I’m at the computer. It’s really rather cozy.

Till next time…..

When I published the pictures shifted. Still same order, just not side by side. Irritating how things don’t stay when transferring with Live Writer. Oh well…such is life.

Finally

We’ve finally gotten out of the deepfreeze. It has been the longest stretch of below freezing temperatures for over 25 years in this area. A neighbor said records were broken, but I have no information about that beyond his ‘say so’. Thankfully we have plenty of firewood, so stayed quite warm. Especially with an extra layer of clothes. And, at night, an extra blanket on our bed. Toby, our dog, wore his sweater, so he was warm as well. Now the cats didn’t care for the cold. They would beg to be put outside, then within 10 minutes were begging to be let back inside.

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One thing I noticed during this cold was how much the birds ate. I have two 5# feeders and found I was refilling them every 2 days. One usually still had some left, so I’m estimating they ate 9 pounds of sunflower seeds every 2 days. Last winter a 40# bag of sunflower seeds took care of them all winter and into the spring. I bought a 40# bag the end of December, thinking I’d be set for the winter. It was gone within two weeks. Found another source where I can buy 50# at a time for the same price per pound. And it’s in our local town, so that’s good.

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As you can see the feeder was very busy. It was enjoyable watching them.   

IMG_9421 Even had several Blue Jays helping to empty the feeder. In the past I’ve noticed one or two that attempt the feeder with most of them feeding on the ground. Not so this year. I’d see one on the feeder with others in the tree waiting…it’s like they took turns. Of course, the smaller birds always left when the jays came. Made me glad I have two feeders. There were also cardinals, tufted titmice, and chickadees. Mostly the feeders were full of finches…house finches, purple finches and goldfinches. It’s hard to tell the difference between the purple and house finch males. The purple finch is an inch larger, but without the house or gold finch close I can’t tell for sure. Now the females are easy…one (purple) has a white eyebrow, the other (house) doesn’t. In addition I kept the suet feeders filled…the woodpeckers love them. We see a lot of Downy and Red-bellied woodpeckers.

I’ve been doing all of our cooking on the wood stove and enjoying it thoroughly. Even have been using the oven for my baking. There is a wonderful satisfaction in doing that.

The dryer experiment is over, altho, I’m still not using my dryer except once in a while. When we received the bill, at first glance, Garry thought we’d just saved 12 cents. Turns out the previous bill covered the time we were gone for 2 weeks. Compared to a regular month we saved approximately 25%. It’s amazing to me that the dryer takes that much. So from now on I’ll try not to use it much. Makes me really look forward to sunny and warm weather so I can hang things outside to dry. Line drying makes clothes smell so wonderful!!

Snickers was a bit of a pain last night. She sleeps all day, then is awake during the night. For some reason she seemed to think I should also be awake. I was just about to grab her and put her outside when she settled down. Needless to say I feel a bit sleep deprived today.

Hope all of you are doing well and have also gotten out of the deepfreeze. Does anyone remember when we used to call a freezer a deepfreeze. I suppose I’m aging myself when I say I sure remember. Just like going to college and being teased by my roommates when I called a load of laundry a ‘rubbing of clothes’.

Okay, I’m quitting for this time.

First Day!

Hard to believe it’s actually the first day of 2010. How does time go so fast? And where does it go? I remember just the other day there was all that hype about Y2K, and now we’re 10 years beyond that. And I’m sure it was just a couple years ago when I graduated from High School….well, maybe a little longer than that. But surely not much…EXCEPT two of my grandchildren have graduated from HS with a 3rd one to graduate this year. Again, have to wonder, where does the time go?!?

Today has been a beautiful sunny day with temps in the high 20’s. The best thing about today was that I have felt better than I have in weeks. Actually felt like doing things…cleaned some, made a large pot of chili, refilled bird feeders, plus several other things. Even fixed fried chicken with all the trimmings for supper tonight. All the cooking was done on the wood stove. There is just something so satisfying about cooking a meal on it. The chili will be shared with our son and his family tomorrow evening.

Our daughter, son-in-law, and 17 year old grandson spent a couple days with us this week. They had been in Lexington for a special family weekend…Church related… and decided since they were that close they should come see us. Must admit, I agreed whole heartedly! We had thought we would go over to Lexington, then started having transmission problems with the van, so it’s a good thing they came here. They live in Wisconsin, and we don’t see them nearly often enough. When we used to live in the large town to the west of Beth Marie, we were about 3 hours from them, now it’s between 9 and 10 hours from here to there.

Our house was full the time Anna, Jeff, and Cory were here, as Darryl, Anne, and the 4 kids were also here most of the time. We ate together and played together…so much fun! We played a Domino game called Mexican Train….I didn’t win.  Seems I had the most points while the goal is to have the least points. Anyway, we had a good time that ended all too soon. Our house was so quiet after everyone was gone. Had a couple grandkids come back in the afternoon, so that helped.

Darryl’s cow, Tillie had a little heifer calf yesterday. More photos of the baby.I haven’t braved the walk down the hill to see her yet. Well, it’s really the walk back up that gets to me. 🙂 I’m sure she’ll still be there after it warms up a little, then I’ll walk down to see her. As far as I know she doesn’t have a name yet. The photos are on Darryl’s blog.

Hopefully I’ll feel more like keeping up with this. That pain has been terrible and I don’t believe I realized how much it has been affecting me until today. My fingers are stiff tonight, although, it doesn’t seem to be bothering me while typing. AND, I’m not limping tonight. So I have hope that I’ll get through this ‘spell’ and be back to normal for a while. Even a day or two is welcome at this point.

Catch you all later!