Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our Girl Goes Home

Tomorrow, Cici goes home with her forever family, a wonderful couple from British Columbia. Yep, our Great White pup is headed for the Great White North.

Bringing Celeste home, just off the transport from Texas.

We met Cici's new family yesterday, and they are amazing people. She's going to be an only dog in a home with woods to walk in, and visiting grandkids who will lavish love on her. Her new Mama sees charity work in Cici's future, as a visiting therapy dog for local hospitals. Honestly, she will have the kind of life that no one could have expected for her, based on where and how she started life. It's maybe a little bit like watching your daughter leave home to marry a wonderful man. You know that she's on promising, amazing new path, but you are still a little sad to see her break away from your fold, your emotions oscillating between pride, joy and gut-wrenching pain, each in their turn. That's my baby right there.

Cici was born on a ranch in East Texas, and along with 36 other dogs, was surrendered to a kill shelter by the ranch owner. She was rescued by a network of compassionate, tireless individuals within the SPIN (Saving Pyrs In Need) and the Great Pyrenees Rescue Society organizations. She was significantly underweight, and had had very little direct interaction with humans, and was therefore untrained and totally inexperienced with the concepts of love, trust and security. The vets who saw her upon intake at the shelter estimated that she would reach a maximum of 60 pounds, full grown. Her undersized adult weight will be a life-long reminder of the insufficient nourishment she received in her infancy.

Her previous experiences in life had taught her that food was a scarce and extremely valuable commodity, and so she would eat until she was full, but continue to guard her food bowl, even going so far as to sleep by her dish, lest Rex (or us humans) try to take her food. It was heartbreaking to see.

She was absolute sweetness personality-wise since day one, but the trust and training were much slower in coming. Pyr's are incredibly intelligent dogs, and so the bulk of Cici's "training" actually came from following Rex's example. We also used positive reinforcement ("atta girls" and bribery via treats)  to teach her very basic concepts like sit.

She's been with us for about 6 weeks, and has grown tremendously, emotionally and physically. She's gained a good 5 pounds, started growing a new, healthy winter coat, and works and plays in lock-step with Rex; barking at bicyclists, deer and the UPS man, checking in on the welfare of the chickens and goats, and competing for the prime, pre-warmed-by-Mama's-butt, spot on the couch. She feels like this is her place too now.

And it has been. She and Rex have been a great team. Joggers smile and say hi to the pair of sproingy, giant white fluff balls each time they pass. People ask us about the breed all the time now, Great Pyrenees being a fairly uncommon and heretofore relatively unknown breed in Western Washington. The resurgence of urban homesteading and hobby farming has made the Livestock Guardian Dog a relevant consideration for families and individuals who want to raise their own food and food animals in cities and towns where raccoons, rats and coyotes, among others, have adapted to our urban sprawl and set up shop quite efficiently, gobbling up backyard chickens and bunnies like drive-thru hamburgers. These pups earn their keep, keeping the predators at bay, while respecting your livestock and totally running away with your heart. To me, they are dream dogs, the perfect breed.

So I guess I'm a sort of Pyr evangelist. Which is one of the things that I must remind myself of every time I think about Cici moving on. She might be the first Pyr that a lot of folks meet, in her neck of the Canadian woods. Her finding her forever home means that we will have room in our home for another dog who might otherwise be euthanized due to shelter overcrowding. This is the best possible outcome for everyone involved, especially for Cici. That doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt.

Safe travels, Cici-beans. You've made your Mama so proud. 

My pair o'Pyrs. Who says dogs can't smile? :)

Friday, November 9, 2012


We made it! Three years and 25,000 pageviews later, this little blog is still kickin'.

As promised, there will be a celebratory giveaway! Right now I'm still building my basket of goodies. I want to load it up with my favorite food-nerd, locally made and generally-nifty stuff, but I have to do so on a budget, so I'm pecking away at it.

I will make a big, honkin' deal out of it when I finally do post the giveaway though, so stick around. :)

Thanks again for reading, guys & gals. It means more to me than you know.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Recipe: Easy, Homemade Biscuits & Dumplings

My basic biscuit and dumpling recipe are one in the same. These are just so easy to whip up, and are made using wholesome, real ingredients that I guarantee you already have at your house. A batch makes 24 small biscuits and the ingredients only cost around fifty cents! Beat that, Pillsbury! ;)

Chelle's Biscuit & Dumpling Mix

*2 cups all-purpose flour
*4 tsps baking powder
*1 tsp salt
*4 tbsps butter (cold)
*1 cup milk

Whisk dry ingredients together well. Cut cold butter into pea-sized pieces, and mix (but don't smash! You want lumps in your mix!) into dry ingredients. Add milk and mix until just incorporated.

If using as dumplings, drop by spoonfuls into simmering soup. Simmer with the lid on for 5 minutes, then 5 more minutes with the lid off or until the dumplings are cooked through, and mostly dry on top. Sprinkle with paprika, if you are so inclined. Serve.

If making drop biscuits, drop by heaping tablespoons onto a well greased or non-stick cookie sheet (I actually use a 24-cup mini muffin pan for my biscuits most of the time). Bake @ 425 for about 10-15 minutes. Biscuits need to be cooked hot, but don't stray too far - they can burn pretty quickly!


*Replace some or all of the butter with lard or rendered bacon fat
*Add 1/2 - 1 cup of parmesan cheese or grated cheddar cheese
*Use seasoned or garlic salt in place of the regular salt
*Add a few fresh or dried herbs - chives, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, etc.
*Use buttermilk instead

Red Lobster-style Biscuits-

Follow main recipe as listed above with the following changes/additions -

*Add 1 cup shredded cheddar to the mix
*Replace regular salt with garlic salt
*When fresh out of the oven, brush biscuits with a generous amount of melted butter, then dust with a little garlic powder or garlic salt.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Knitting Project: Viking Hat (Unisex)

Just finished this, and I'm about to start another. Pattern forthcoming!

Kids' unisex Viking hat. By Postmodern Milkmaid, available at the
 Lincoln Winter Market, November 24th. ;)

The Mixed Blessings of Fall on a Farm

Brought to you in the form of a list, because, well, that seems to be all I'm capable of today.


Our two does in milk are "drying off".


* No more milking in the cold & dark!


* No more milk until Spring.

* The girls will soon be coming back into heat, and so goat "interludes" must be arranged, which involves staring at goat lady-parts daily. Jealous, are you?

* The goaties will soon be on a all hay/grain diet, as the pasture grasses and plants die back. Translation - $$$.


With the decrease in light and the chickens starting their molt, we're getting only one egg every other day now.

Yay! -

* I got nothin'.

Boo! -

* The chickens actually eat a little more than normal at this time of year, with less forage available and higher caloric needs to generate additional body heat and grow new feathers. It's all work and no omelettes over here!


The weather is quite wet, everything is about done fruiting and the deciduous trees are dropping their leaves like crazy.

Yay! -

* I can be done processing apples for a while! 200 pounds of fruit is a lot of fruit. Now I can focus on canning it up.

* We had a good harvest from our orchard, and managed to forage a good bit as well.

* No more watering necessary!

* The chanterelles and other edible 'shrooms should be popping up soon.

Boo! -

* We are going to have to rake up literally tons of wet leaves from our orchard trees and the big-leaf maples on the south side of our property. Hooboy!

Daily Life:

Daylight savings time ending, plus La Nina/El Nino, and good ol' Western Washington geography means at least 5 more months of daily prevailing conditions tending toward being either wet, grey or wetandgrey.

Yay! -

* I'm fully justified in sitting on my duff by the wood stove, knitting like a woman possessed.

* I like soup.

* I get to drink coffee 24/7 (more than I already do)

* Pumpkin flavored everything is available everywhere.

Boo! -

* Our farm's bottomland is going to be mud soup for the next 6 months.

* Seasonal Affective Disorder on top of Post-Concussion Syndrome. Oy.