Black walnuts

Dale digging out the walnuts

Dale digging out the walnuts

November 20 – One of the jobs we have tackled recently was the cracking and picking out of the nuts in the black walnuts we still have from last year. Those things must really keep well, as the nuts are still good and tasty. But do they take the time! Dale puts the whole nuts in the vise out in the barn, then brings them in and cracks them further with the wire side-cutter. From there, I take out the nuts with a nut pick, hoping I won’t be cross-eyed by the time the job is done. We spent over two hours Wednesday working on them.

So how many did we get? Hmmm! Just about a pint freezer bag full when it was all said and done! They sure do add a lot to the taste and consistency of the chocolate fudge I make, though. After the job of cracking nuts, I have black tips on all of my fingers, and that doesn’t go away for a couple days, no matter how hard I scrub and use the file.

141120_Apples

Apples ready for the saucing

Another inside job was to sort the apples and pears sitting out in the big coolers in the garage. Some apples went right into a fridge drawer, but I cut up the pears and made a pear sauce, something I have never done before. Usually I just canned a number of bushels of them, but we have so many left in the basement fruit shelves that I wanted to try something different this year. Since pears don’t have much flavor, I squirted in all of the lemon juice from one of those little yellow plastic juice containers I bought in the store. Added a little sugar, and I was surprised at how tasty the product was. Dale used it on his cereal, but I preferred mine in a dish by itself.

Fat Cat seems to enjoy being inside in the warm house, although she still spends a lot of time up on the shelf in the garage cuddled up on the blankets we kept for Dawg to use. We still have to coax her to come in because she won’t come in on her own. We laughed when she stood in front of a clock in the living room, one that is propped up against something to keep it upright. As the second hand went around, she would try to smack it with her paws. She tried again and again, but didn’t succeed in stopping the movement. After a bit, she found the small watering can that Dale keeps under the plant table to water the cacti and stapelia plants. You can guess already what she did. Why drink the cold water from the bowl in the garage or try to lick the ice off the bowl out by the bird feeder, when that nice warm stuff was so handy?

Tranquility Base here, the  squirrel has landed

Tranquility Base here, the squirrel has landed

Before you get the idea that we just leave the water frozen outside, we don’t. Dale goes out several times each day to break the ice and add some warmer water. We have three squirrels out by the feeder on a regular basis. When one of the squirrels heard Dale coming, he leapt up on to the tree and turned himself into a regular flying squirrel.

As for birds, four huge crows have been coming down to feed lately. I think they like the remainder of the rice cakes that are out there. Woodpeckers, doves, cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, chickadees, and flickers make themselves at home every day, but even more so when it is so cold!

141120_Gluten

Gluten – our vegetarian version of turkey

Speaking of birds, the editor of the paper asked what we were going to have for our “turkey” for Thanksgiving, so here’s a picture of some of my homemade gluten. Not quite the same thing as a turkey, but it’ll do! – CHRIS

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