Wednesday, December 12, 2012

O Christmas Tree

As early as Eli, we were up Sunday morning to track down this year's Christmas tree. We were hoping to beat the crowds, but our hopes sank as we saw a number of cars ahead of us, one after the next, signal an abrupt right hand turn. We've found our tree here for almost ten years, so when we discovered new, larger parking lots at the end of their drive, which were overflowing with mostly large pick up trucks, we braced ourselves even more. I also secretly wished for a vintage 70's work truck that I could haul my own tree home in but quickly realized that was sort of...silly.

And while I never particularly enjoyed searching for a tree in a few feet of snow and even less so hauling it back to the car, there's something about tiptoeing through the woods with a couple of inches of white stuff on the ground to instill a little Christmas spirit but there was none of that this day. There was, however, a definite chill in the air, perhaps to remind us that we still do live in Canada, formerly known as the land of ice and snow and where once upon a time, everyone owned a skidoo.

We headed off to this year's crop, following the crowd ahead of us and I was astonished to find ourselves in the same field of trees that we were sent to last year, a first after all these years. The twins are older and while they still have their own ideas about what makes the perfect tree, they're not quite as picky, or determined to be 'the one' who discovered it.  Like most years, we found a good tree within five minutes, and like most years, we still had to look to make sure there wasn't a better one waiting for us but unlike most years, we did find another one and in very short order. 

Not thirty feet from our first find, there lay a tree, cut and abandoned like a pop can on the side of the road. "Who would do that?" we all asked. "It looks pretty good!" proffered the Artist. "Yeah it does," added the Male Twin. I called out to the Girl Twin who was guarding our first find. Hesitantly, she left her post and joined us and agreed, it looked good. "Maybe we should stand it up and get a good look at it?" I subtly suggested and lo and behold it still looked like a keeper.

And so, here we were, in record time with our tree, which involved no sawing, the Artist didn't have to use his rusty blade that he forgot all about replacing after last year's visit, no impatient instructions were yelled out about which way to pull the tree to assist in cutting through the trunk and best of all, the Male Twin was old enough this year to assist in carrying the tree back. It was official, I was there for photographically preserving the event only.

At this point, I must tell you that as a kid growing up in the city, I always dreamed of living on a little farm, growing my own Christmas trees. So far, four years into this country living gig, I've managed to plant a grand total of one. With our record tree finding time under our belts, we also discovered, on our way out of the farm, record tree prices. I suppose we should be grateful that whomever cut our tree, picked the cheapest type. Since the morning was going rather swimmingly I decided to make one more suggestion. 'We need to plant Christmas trees!" I exclaimed and received unanimous acceptance. I decided to leave it at that, why dwell on how long it will take for the trees to grow. Instead, I dreamed of that vintage truck and taking it to the feed store once a week. Surely, that would be practical.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Border Patrol Bribes

It's no secret around these parts that the old farmhouse is under 24 hour surveillance. Callie, our border collie-cross, takes her job seriously. She guards her pack with a zeal I didn't know a dog could possess. She patrols the perimeter of our property throughout the day and when it comes to the chickens, her natural herding instinct switches to high gear. She prefers to round them all up into the dog house; it's much easier to keep an eye on them when they're in such a confined area but it makes for tight quarters! 
Of course, her loyalty doesn't go unrewarded. Each morning, after completing her first round of the day, she comes back inside to join me in the kitchen, this time of year in front of a warm fire, and while I slowly wake up with some morning brew, Callie enjoys her own morning treat. 
I've never thought much of those store bought dog biscuits, so when I searched and found a simple recipe for homemade dog cookies, I gave them a try and there's been no going back since.
Here's the recipe.
2 cups all natural peanut butter
2 cups of milk
(I use skim milk power -
8 T milk powder mixed with 2 c water,
before mixing with peanut butter)
In a separate bowl combine
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 T baking powder
Combine wet and dry ingredients into one bowl.
Roll out to desired thickness and bake in a 400 F oven for 15-20 minutes.
 You don't want to over cook them, but you do want them dried out.
Makes 3-4 dozen using a large cookie cutter like mine, but the size of cutter used and how thick you roll them out will determine how many you end up with.
Note: You could cut this recipe in half, but they freeze well, and because I give one to Callie a day, I'm only making them once every five - six weeks. I store a few in a jar, without a lid, as a lid tends to retain moisture inside causing them to go moldy faster, and I store the rest in the freezer until needed.
~be well friends


Buttons Thoughts said...

Oh I love this post yes the land of ice, snow and skidoos yeah right:)
I am so happy you found a tree that was abandoned and truly do wish you had an old truck to haul it in. Your kids look very pleased, they gowup so fast don't they?
About planting Christmas trees we had planted 100's of those trees on fencelines around the farm and guess what I have a fake tree I do not have the heart to cut them down:) They look so pretty. Go figure. Oh you are going to have a great Christmas. B

Buttons Thoughts said...

That was grow up:) B

ChatterBlossom said...

I love the idea of making your own dog biscuits!

Lynne said...

Looks like a great "keeper tree!". Who does the decorating?

Tamar SB said...

What a fun memory making outing!

don said...

I think you got a fine tree...made even better since you rescued it from being dumped and thrown aside. Nice thoughts on your post too.

vintage grey said...

A beautiful tree!! How fun to make your own dog treats!! xo Heather

Anonymous said...

I loved picking and cutting a tree... these days we have an artificial tree, just not the same!