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Homestead Happenings: inside people now

November 23, 2010

We’re inside people now. Just like that. When I venture out in the morning—-down coat over bathrobe—-to feed the chickens, I’m always startled at how low the sun is hanging, almost appearing stuck in the tall limbs of our neighbor’s aspen tree. And then a 10F degree particle of air slams my skin and some errant, pre-coffee brain cells fire and I put it all together, the cold, the low lying sun: it’s winter!

Our inside lives roll like the changeable headlines for a tabloid magazine chronicling the lives of a tempestuous couple.

Rose hits Col and tells him he’s a bad guy! Col hides ducky and Rosie falls apart! Col and Rose: bonding over bandaids and reunited!


Before the sun even rises, Col can be found piecing together a dinosaur puzzle while Rose perches at the very edge of a glossy T-Rex, her feet kicking through his pile of puzzle pieces. She examines her toes and then chants loudly, “Blanga blanga blong blong. Blanga blanga blong blong. Do you like my song Coley?”

“That’s a little too much singing Rosie.”

Rose inches closer to Col and picks up a book about pandas, pretending she just happens to be malingering 1/4 centimeter away from the Stegosaurus newly snapped into place. “Blanga blanga blong blong,” she murmurs as if reading straight from the book while her little fingers pry up the edge of a Diplodocus.

I try and think of what my friend Sue would do (who raises her voice so infrequently at her children, when she does they regard her like she’s wielding a saber in her teeth). While I’m silently rehearsing potential “Sue-isms,” Col shouts “Rosiiiieeee STOP!” Which really is the perfect thing to say, even if a hundred parenting books will say it’s not.

Suddenly, the puzzle is abandoned and the kids, together, are searching for a pair of scissors to cut a turtle pendant off Col’s necklace, which I don’t want them to do. I quickly hide the scissors in a move of total conflict-avoidance and shrug from behind the newspaper. “Hmmm, I don’t know where those scissors are. Keep looking.”

Rose runs to Col with a can opener. “Will this work, Coley?” They huddle conspiratorially over the turtle necklace, jabbing the can opener against the string.

By the time the sun is up they’ve scampered off to their room and I hear the following conversation and wonder if they’ve gotten weirder since we’ve been inside so much.

Rose: Let’s say I’m sick but I have to get on an airplane, right?

Col: Yeah. But you didn’t know I was on the airplane too, with my sick blanket, okay?”

Rose: Okay, and my name was Baby Beebee, right Col?

Col: Okay. And let’s say I was your daddy but I called you Baby Lulu.

I can’t help but imagine what it would sound like if Dan and I interacted that way.

Dan: Let’s say every night after the kids go to bed you gave me that look. And then I quit my job and start following the elk all year round, okay?


In other homestead news, I made apple cider vinegar!

I started this project back in apple season with the homeliest apples (as sanctioned in the recipe).

homely apples

vinegar hating child who loves to chop apples (note: Wild Fermentation book in background: the source)

It bubbled and fizzed appropriately and I strained out the apples and it sat for a long time, hissing and scaring me with its smell of frat house hangover. I finally worked up the courage to taste it, and it tastes just like vinegar, which is the point of following a recipe. But still, I’m kind of shocked.

"Passing" on the shelf with more widely accepted condiments.

So naturally, I’m less scared of retirement now, because I won’t have to buy vinegar.


In stinky animal parts news, Dan has been spending evenings (the ones where he doesn’t get that look from me) pounding and then pulling apart threads of elk sinew.

The sinew is for backing his bows (adhered with hide glue, naturally) to make them stronger and more flexible. He does this sinew work for hours every winter, which for him is a calming meditation that probably contributes to his peaceful nature, whereas it would probably drive me to start freebasing vinegar.

He’s also been getting trounced by Rose in Memory, who may or may not be cheating.

the good luck leotard

My parents are visiting, which is wonderful as usual.

My dad read Col all of Robinson Crusoe, this several hundred page book written in the 1700’s. Baba told me Col sat still for over an hour at a time, lapping up the story of shipwreck. It brought tears to me eyes hearing this, because devoting an hour of your time to a child is the most precious gift. Rose has adopted Nana as her new BFF, partially because Nana pardons Rose from her habit of flagrantly disregarding people’s personal space, letting Rose paw all over her face and hair, which has been banned in our household. However, last night when the kids were jumping at Nana trying to grab her purse, my mom said cheerfully “this reminds me of this reoccurring dream where I’m being bitten by little animals and they keep coming back and I can’t get them off of me.”

The kids had another successful sleepover (read about the first one here) and Dan and I enjoyed a morning free of tabloid headlines.

“It’s like a bed and breakfast around here,” Dan said as we made breakfast together.

“Where we make our own food?”

“Where we only make food for ourselves, not the usual non-paying, hotel room-thrashing guests.”


Oh, and remember our roasted zucchini phase from back in summer? Well, I stuck a few bags of roasted zukes in the freezer  and defrosted the first bag last night. I made a shepards pie with the zucchini standing in for peas and carrots, and I just want you to know the zucchini held up great in the freezer.

Shepards Pie with deer meat and previously frozen roasted zukes

I could taste the summery roastedness and as usual I made my family exclaim over the winningness of the whole meal even when Rose just wanted to climb on Nana’s lap, and Col wanted to recount all 236 pages of Robinson Crusoe (minus the cannibalism) and Dan was simply scanning my face for potential of that look.

Have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving. And as always, I am thankful for you readers that find your way here, again and again.


26 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 10:21 am

    oh…thank you for these laughs this morning. Your mom’s recurring had me nearly rolling on the floor.

    how cool to make your own vinegar. I’m inspired!
    Love, blessings, and peace~

  2. November 24, 2010 10:59 am

    ha ha ha… oh yes the joys of cabin fever.
    and I’m so jealous about your bed and breakfast. I’d love to make breakfast just for ourselves “not the usual non-paying, hotel room-thrashing guests.”

  3. janie permalink
    November 24, 2010 11:27 am

    I’m thankful for you! For a lifetime of friendship and your wittily eloquent words. Happy Thanksgiving lovely Rachel…love to Dan, Col and Rose, Ellen and Ike.

  4. November 24, 2010 12:26 pm

    So, what exactly is the apple cider vinegar recipe? I’ve found one that says a quart of a water, “some” sugar (how much is some?) and random apple cores from eaten apples (how many?). Yeah, I’m sure I could find a recipe if I hunted, but you have the recipe book right there in the photo!

    Or wait, did you provide a recipe at the San Juan site? Oy. I need to back off the pipe. No memory. Perhaps it’s time to freebase some vinegar. ;P

    And on that note, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 26, 2010 3:29 pm


      The recipe from Wild Fermentation is: 1) Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 2 quarts water (use one gallon glass jar). 2) Add chopped apples (peel, seeds, core ok). He doesn’t give amounts. I used 5 or so reject apples. 3) Cover with cheesecloth or paper coffee filter and leave to ferment at room temperature. 4) After one week strain off apples and stir periodically. 5) I strained mine one final time a full 6 weeks later (it should be ready after 3 weeks – I was just scared).

      ps: Thanks so much for the book!

  5. November 24, 2010 12:30 pm

    Rachel, as always the morsels of your days are like the last crumbles of doughnuts left in the box, when you come back hour after hour, just to check that the doughnuts really are gone! I could read your writing over and over! So clever! Nicely done!

  6. Melissa permalink
    November 24, 2010 12:58 pm

    Rachel, you are so hilarious!

    Apparently, you get this from your mother, who is similarly funny.

    I am cracking up reading this from my post in the dreaded Family Resource Room at the hospital (don’t worry, I’m not pumping in here though I surely need to).

    So glad your parents are around to do what grandparents do best, and I am also relieved that I am not the only woman who gives her husband *that look*!

    Lastly, I love the photo of Rose in her leo while Dan is dressed for the weather–same thing around here. Do kids not get cold or something? And the worst part, for me, is imagining people are judging me (eg., look at that little boy in only a t-shirt! gasp!). I know, I need to get over it. Plus, I slip long-sleeves into his back pack and somehow his teachers manage to clothe him.

    Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving . . . we’ll be eating hummus with our turkey at Saba and Safta’s house in Monterey. xo

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 26, 2010 3:30 pm

      Kids must have such internal fires because Rose still spends most of winter naked. I hope your Monterey holiday was great!

  7. November 24, 2010 1:25 pm

    I am writing to tell you the good news. CORY GOT AN ELK!! I was just on the puter writing a blog post when he called! I thought of you friend. With just a few days to spare — yahoo! We will be eating Elk this winter!

    Now… back to your post.. I have always and forever wanted to try to make some apple cider vinegar. This may push me to do so. We use it here all the time.
    We are stuck indoors as well. With a high of -4 today.. and a low of -15! I went out for a run anyhow.. I think just as a challenge to see if I would survive it :) (laughing) Montana/Colorado women are nuts :) I could see you going with me without a nod of hesitation.
    Alright.. this should have been an e-mail, but the time on the keys is short whilst the kiddos are occupied/napping.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I am thankful for your words and photos and thoughts here!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 26, 2010 3:31 pm

      Sarah, I am so happy for your family! Enjoy that wonderful meat!

  8. November 24, 2010 3:05 pm

    Whew…that wore me out just reading it…apple cider vinegar and elk sinew and conflict avoidance tactics and Robinson Crusoe! I can’t wait till we get to the part where you walk 40 miles to town in a blizzard just to get the children each a stick of Christmas candy. :)

  9. November 24, 2010 4:18 pm

    loved every second of this. thank you!!!



    ps ~ question for you (or for you to ask dan)….

    my little guy (who is 4) is really interested in getting a bow and arrow for christmas. we tried them last year at family camp and he has been reminding me on and off ever since how much he’d REALLY Like his very own.

    last week at the museum we saw a lot of them and now it’s a daily conversation.

    i don’t think i’m going to make anything between now and christmas so unless dan is taking mail orders, i’m going to have to buy online or hit a local sporting goods store.

    any advice?

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 26, 2010 3:34 pm

      Dan says check out the 3 Rivers Archery website. They have a lot of stuff for kids, and you can buy a whole package with bow, arrows, bowstring, arm protector, glove, etc… for a decent price. If you find something you like and want to send me a link to check it out, feel free. Someday Dan should go into the business of producing kids bows. Maybe when we retire and start living on our vinegar fund :)

  10. November 24, 2010 5:05 pm

    As Usual I’ve enjoyed another one of your posts! You really give a good look into your daily live,which by the way I find fasinating
    Your home is full and love and it seems to me everyone is comfortable being there.
    Grandparents are nice for children to have, especially those with patience..
    Enjoy your parents and I’m wishing you and your family one of the Happiest Thanksgiving ever…Ginny

  11. November 24, 2010 6:25 pm

    I am noticing that dreaded (or loved?) PINK LEOTARD again. Every young girl (and boy) has an outfit like this I think.

    My son’s was how he stuck every potential “weapon” into his briefs. That’s all he was wearing: underwear, but then he’d stick in swords, knives and hockey sticks into those undies. Then he was “ready”.

    My daughter wore a flowing blue nightie forever. I have 4 year old photos and 8 year old pictures and… the big change was where the thing came on her shin.

  12. November 24, 2010 8:38 pm

    we’re thankful for you, rachel.

  13. November 26, 2010 8:39 am

    I just love the exchanges you capture between Col and Rosie. Also, when Col yelled at Rose to stop with the puzzle and you say that was the right response even though all those parenting books would tell you otherwise…yes. I have been thinking so so much about parenting approaches lately. I feel like I only get it right part of the time. All I have is my instinct and sometimes I behave like a toddler. And sometimes, I am realizing (hoping?), that is perfectly fine.

    Happy Thanksgiving, friend.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 26, 2010 3:51 pm

      I too feel like I only get it right half the time. But I trust in my kids’ resiliency, and the fact that not too long ago, families had a lot of children, and the children helped raise each other and as a child you might have learned that being a pest wasn’t cool because an older brother yelled in your face and you survived and learned something that your mom didn’t have to teach you because she was out butchering chickens and really, these kids are not fragile little snowflakes and I think Col and Rose’s peers can be more effective teachers than myself many days.

      And happy thanksgiving to you too!

  14. November 26, 2010 11:13 pm

    It’s clear to me I should NOT read your blog while my husband is sitting next to me. I was laughing so hard he gave me a very strange look. Oh my goodness, too funny.

    I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. xo

  15. November 26, 2010 11:15 pm

    My first attempt at home fermentation was dill pickles this year. They failed miserably. But I haven’t given up hope. Your experience with the apple cider vinegar is especially intriguing to me. I use apple cider vinegar in my hair, and I have access to a lot of local apples, it seems like something that I could do. Hmm, must research further.

  16. Steph permalink
    November 27, 2010 9:57 am

    I love the part about your parents- they are the most dedicated grandparents I know! I’d like to try making apple cider vinegar at some point. It’s amazing to me how many things one can make at home, and also how addicting it is to do-it-yourself. My list of homemade stuff to try keeps growing. I’m trying the “No-knead” bread recipe (from August) this morning!! xoxo

  17. suzicate permalink
    November 27, 2010 9:21 pm

    As I skirt around your blog, it appears that your hubby is living my hubby’s dream! You made your own apple cider vinegar? I am impressed! Your parents are dream grandparents! They are creating such fond memories for your children. My kids always beat me at memory…I wonder if they cheated!

  18. November 28, 2010 12:49 am

    This was great! We are inside a little more too, really only with a need to be, through the cold snap we got–it is SO not normal in November on the SW BC coast to dip down to -10 celcius with a kick-butt wind chill value lowering that to -20!

    We had snow early for the season, the boys sledded and tracked critters around the farm and for a week it was a winter wonderland. Now rain falls, slushing away the rest of the white. The last leaves have left the trees for a safe haven from arctic outflow winds, covering the earth.

    Happy Thanksgiving!! I too, am thankful to come here a few times each week and laugh, commiserate, recollect, be inspired, question and admire your lives and family living. Thank YOU Rachel

    ~Erin xo

  19. November 28, 2010 9:36 pm

    We’re inside people too! Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family!

  20. November 30, 2010 1:50 pm

    I do love a lucky leotard. Happy belated Thanksgiving to you and yours, including the chickens, of course.

  21. Kristen permalink
    November 30, 2010 11:28 pm

    the little caption that might have gone unnoticed about free-basing vinegar made me laugh so hard i snorted! i am truly thankful for a good belly laugh!

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