Hiking adventure

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Today Anya and I went hiking for four hours or so. We went to the Bottom Creek Gorge nature preserve (about 10-15 minutes from the house). It has three trails, and we walked two of them and saw the second highest waterfall in Virginia! Apparently on the trail we didn’t go on there are the remains of some cabins for folks who used to live up there, and we met someone at the waterfall viewing area whose “father’s people came from there.” We’ll have to go back and bring Cabol with us next time.

I’ve posted some more pictures.

According to the trail map we went about 3.5 miles, ranging from 2200-2600′ elevations. Anya did incredibly well, leading the way for most of the trip to the falls and part of the way back, at least until we started to run out of energy. I was impressed at her rock climbing abilities, since I have all the agility of a wounded rhino.

I’m in love

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178 | Craft | Art | Stamping: Completed

I think I’ve found my next new thing. Linoleum block printing. I got a starter kit for Christmas two years ago, and it’s been patiently waiting for me. When I saw that stamping was an art item, I knew immediately what I was going to do. The two little people in the image are from our Loafkeeper logo. I planned to have “Loafkeeper Farm” written under the people, but I had a tough time getting the image to transfer from my paper to the block (using carbon paper). I was able to see enough of the carbon image of the people to trace over it with sharpie, but the letters were totally lost. Plan B was to cut the letters out of cardstock with the cricut, use removable adhesive to stick them on the block, and then trace or carve. With that in mind, I left a big uncarved spot on the block. This morning when I looked at the stamp, I realized how much that uncarved spot looked like a little hill and how nicely the people seemed to be sitting on it. I curved the edges a bit and decided to leave it. I love the way it turned out. Lino blocks rock. Cheap, easy, and fun!

How I spent my vacation

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Carol and Anya have gone to Georgia for a week, so it’s a mini-vacation for me.  Except that I still have to work.

Progress continues on the studio space.  I’ve wired all but the back wall, and since I can’t get to the back wall right now, it will have to wait until I work my way back.  But now we (I) can insulate and put paneling up on the rest of the walls.  I broke three mason jars while moving things around.  Fortunately we (Cabol) have approximately three billion.

We started getting milk again! Tonight I started cultures for yogurt and buttermilk. I can finally use my Christmas yogurt maker! I hope the living room is warm enough for the buttermilk to set. And that the cats don’t try to eat it.  Maybe I can use Anya’s room as an incubator. If only I knew where my thermometer went.

Surplus auction this weekend, they have some oak cabinets and a large wooden table, I’m hoping they go cheap.  Maybe I’ll come home with a file cabinet too. And a giant band saw.


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I felt an urge to try making lard recently, so I picked up some pork fat from Bright Farm and gave it a whirl. They suggested using a crockpot to render it rather than a stove, and it worked pretty well.

The packages of fat.

Chopped up and in the crockpot.

After a few hours.

After about 12 hours or so, it looked like the solid bits were brown enough.

About 5 pounds of fat turned into 2 quarts of lard…

…and a bag of crunchy bits. Although I think I’d fry them before using to make them crispy again.

After cooling overnight.

I put one jar in the fridge, and one in the freezer. Today I made biscuits with some, and they are definitely flakier than in the past. The pork taste was only a bit noticeable, and then only if nothing was on the biscuit.

I wonder if there is a lard category at the fair.

Cider Saturday

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Saturday we put our new cidermaking tools into action.

I was in charge of the mashing and pressing, and I made Cabol do all the cutting. Anya helped with the washing. And the mashing.

All told, we ended up with around nine and a half gallons of cider. Five gallons went into the fermenter, and the rest in the fridge and freezer.

Pressing news

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The last few days I worked on building a cider press up in the workshop, mostly from things we already had laying around. I tested it today, and it seems to work. At least, it pressed a bag of sawdust – until I finish the grinder, we don’t have any mushed up apples to try. Sawdust and apples are both cellulose anyways, right?

I also dismantled our old sewing table and attached some laminate counter top to it, which will become the apple grinder. Probably not until the weekend at the earliest, though.