Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

We were eating on the deck last night when Larry saw a large black "something" on the side of the mountain. We got the binoculars but couldn't get a clear view. For awhile we thought it was a tree stump or something stationary, but then it moved. And after awhile it disappeared. Soooooo....we are now pretty convinced it was a black bear which are fairly numerous on our mountain. I now have the spotting scope located right outside the deck for quick use the next time we have a suspicious siting.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Friends at Camp Kreitzer

We have lived here in the Valley for ten years and I have never seen a red-winged blackbird (They were common at Huntley Meadows in Alexandria.) until one arrived at our bird feeder a few days ago. Now every morning I hear its distinctive burring screech and it gives me goosebumps. They are little warriors with their red epaulets and we welcome them at Camp Kreitzer and hope they stay.

Now the grackles, on the other hand, are blackbirds I can do without and the first one landed on the feeder this morning. We will see hordes in a day or two who will clean out the feeder in a matter of hours, not to mention drive all the other birds away. They are such bullies. Ah...well...God made them and so let them pass for birds (bastardized Shakespeare -- if you can guess the original and who said it you identify yourself as a Shakespeare enthusaist!)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

What Would Jesus Eat?

I'm reading an interesting book about the way the French eat and why we're fat and they aren't despite a diet fulled with butter, real cream, delicious breads and wine at lunch and dinner. The answer, according to the author, is that they eat real food while we stuff our faces with faux food filled with: artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, etc. Some pre-packaged foods aren't too bad. Take the Kellogs raisin bran I ate this morning. The ingredient list includes: whole grain wheat, raisins, wheat bran, sugar, brown sugar syrup and less than 2% salt and malt flavor. Compare that list to Post's Honey Bunches of Oats: corn, whole grain wheat, sugar, whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, rice, high oleic vegetable oil (canola or sunflower oil), whet flour malted barley flour, salt, corn syrup, whey (from milk), honey malted corn and barley's where it gets interesting...caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, annato extract (color), BHT added to packaging material to preserve product freshness. Read more here....

I don't know about you, but I'm really not interested in consuming BHT and products that have a large liquid content (like cheese) are the ones that tend to have BHT leach into the food. Maybe that means cereal (without fruit) is fairly safe with BHT packaging, but I'm not interesting in being anybody's guinea pig. Besides, you can make your own wonderful, healthy cereal without any artificial ingredients. I made an apothecary jar full of granola this morning that will provide us a healthy morning option for one or two weeks until I make a new batch.

Good Morning Granola
Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
Add to a flat baking dish (I use pyrex) 4 cups rolled oats and bake 15 or 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes until oats are lightly browned. 
Stir in one cup coconut and bake five more minutes stirring once or twice. 
Add 1/4 cup oil (I use coconut oil. If it's congealed I liquify it by heating the jar in a pan of simmering water.) and 1/4 cup honey. (When we get our beehives producing we will happily use our own organic honey from our hives.) Bake five more minutes. 
Remove from oven and place in a bowl. Add chopped dried fruit and nuts. I had a large assortment today so I put in chopped candied cantaloupe, apricots, cranraisins, regular raisins, dates, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.  
A bowl of this with milk direct from the cow to our table is one great start to the day!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Visiting the Bee Yard

It was sunshiny and warm this morning so we took a little drive over to our friend's bee yard to see if the critters were flying. They were and the weather the rest of the week is supposed to be good, so we're hoping things are finally looking up for the bee community. I had on a black jacket which I took off before we walked over to the hives. Bees don't like black and I didn't want to be mistaken for a bear about to attack the hives. I had on a multi-colored shirt with some black and even with my jacket off I was getting a little more attention than I'd like. We didn't stay long. There are about 15 or 20 hives in his yard and several showed a lot of activity although there were also a number that were clearly without colonies. Next week it's hive painting time with one of the grandkids and then we'll be getting the frames ready, filling them with sheets of foundation. Then it's just a question of getting our bees and putting them to work.