I have been perusing Ree Drummond's blog The Pioneer Woman www.thepioneerwoman.com. She has inspired me to rouse this abandoned blog and start chronicaling my own crazy critter and food-filled life. Sure, instead of the Marlboro Man I married Dilbert, and rather than living in gorgeous vast plains with herds of mustangs and beef cattle we live on 5 acres with two rescue throroughbreds, a few pygmy goats and chickens but hey, it is a good life and just as fun. I also have been learning to use our camera, a Canon PowerShot Pro 1 (whatever that means,) so I wanted to have somewhere to post my fledgling attempts at using the thing. I also have been playing with fiber, so maybe having someplace to post my projects would help give me some gumption.
Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. Spread butter on the top and bottom, and grill like grilled cheese. Pour a tall glass of milk to go with it and apple slices. My favorite combo is natural peanut butter, homemade grape jelly, and whole wheat bread, grilled on the Forman Grill. It makes the sandwhich corrogated, which for some odd reason I like.
It is 3 am....again. This is the third night in a row I have awoken at 3am with panicky dreams about being late. This time I was in a train station trying to get two children, my son Nick and his old friend Cassie, at age three, to get all their things together to catch the train. They dawdle while I am frantically picking up the clothes and shoes. We get everything except a lone white sock with black stripes which I glimpse draped over a chair as we run out of the station with armfuls of belongings. We run along the platform as the train sets with doors open. I see a little boy toddling too close to the train so stop and guide him away. His grandparents want to stop and chat, I am trying not to be rude but still move towards the open doors. As we finally get next to an open door, I see the driver look right at me and start up the train . For a moment I think I can still jump on, but then realize I can never get the two kids on as well. I stand and watch the train leave the station without me, the open door banging painfully into my shoulder as it goes past.
I started my second semester of college on Monday, which always sends me into these nightly panics. I guess failing out of college twice as well as a years of public education (as well as a long life) spent always forgetting and being late mean this will never leave me. Sometimes I dream I have forgotten to go to classes for weeks. Sometimes I am at class so long I come home and my pet rats are just bones. Usually I am trying to leave to get somewhere and I have so many things to do, and each thing is so hard and takes so long that I just never leave.
My closest friend finds me a calming influence, and this always mildly suprises me, because in my head I am anything but serene. I feel like there is the outside of me, calm for the most part, then the inside of my head, a little me, holding my head and screaming, running about trying to get nowhere and everywhere at once. I have felt this way my whole life, spent a few years of respite, then it started up again when I began school. My in-laws call it going a little frainy. I am learning to call it normal.
So the question remains, do I need to adjust to this pressure of being out in the world; going to college then afterwards getting a job outside the home, both of which excite and scare me? Or is there an alternative?
Take two acorn squash, cut in half, and scoop out the seeds. Give the 'guts' to the chickens.
Take thin slices of butter and place around the lip of each half, and some in the hollow. Sprinke with brown sugar (1-2 TBS per half), and salt lightly. Place in a 9x13 pan in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees. A fork should slip easily into the flesh when ready.
Serves 4 to 8, depending on how much else you have at dinner.
I have been reading homesteading blogs, and what a real eye opener. Some of the concepts are so simple yet so profound I am left wondering how I never saw these things before. My favorite thus far is from the Dry Creek Chronicals:
Whenever we are pondering something we do, or something we may start doing, we try to ask ourselves three questions: Will it help us to raise our family? Will it help us to live in community? Will it help us to worship God?
I realized through these simple questions that I have spent the last 5 years being closer to people I have never met than to my own next door neighbors. I have spent years discussing topics of what I once thought of as worldly and important on-line while letting my kids sit in the other room and play computer games. When you really start to look at your life in these terms, you start to realize that priorities in this society are so backwards that it is no wonder we have such social crisis on our hands.
I can take all the things I am juggling right now, and start assessing them according to these three questions. The most obvious thing which takes up the most time for me is internet use. Outside of maybe 15-30 minutes a day tops to blog and check mail, there is no reason for me to be on-line. I use it as an escape which just makes me need it that much more the next time I start to feel stressed or bored. I am beginning to think of it as an addiction of sorts. I read about people who simply get rid of their electronics like it is an old shoe and I cannot imagine what I would do with all that time. It is daunting to say the least. The TV was cake to give up, but the internet....that is another whole ball of wax. TV is an idiot box, but the internet, now, that is cutting edge news and technology. That is information, educational, interactive.........yeah right. It is no different.
We all have to work on one thing at a time. Mine will be to get off this computer. It will be interesting to see how little time I can spend on here.
We are off to Roseland Water Park in an hour. Tom loves the place, and it is relatively inexpensive if you go after 3pm (1/2 off the ticket price). I have a good hearty bread in the oven and leftover turkey and gravy for dinner, so Dave won't miss us a bit.
What to do with an old, crotchety rooster? Sick of stewed chicken? Try this one-it is a beaut and even my 'have to have grain fed beef' husband liked it.
Take one crotchety old rooster, chop off his head and feet, take off most of the feathers, gut and skin him. Then take off all the meat you can with a short, sharp knife and place in a bowl. You can cook the bones and leftover meat & giblets with veggies in water for some nice stock; just remember to take out the oil gland first.
Take one pound of the meat and grind it up in a meat grinder.
Add 3 banty hen eggs 1 small onion (chopped) 3 cloves garlic (crushed) 1 tsp poultry seasoning salt and pepper
Mix well with your hands, divide into 4 parts and make 4 patties. I fried these up on our Forman Grill and they cooked fast and did not fall apart. Probably would do well on cast iron, but an outdoor grill they may fall apart so use foil.
I made mine with pickles, cheese, and spicy brown mustard, Dave had his with BBQ sauce and they both were great.
****************** I ended up canning a dozen pints of diced tomatoes and made 4 meals worth of marinara sauce for 6 bucks. Not bad, I thought. ( compared with many home canners it is a pittance, but you have to start where you are, right?)
Did three more chickens yesterday, got REALLY sick of the plucking which seems to take me forever, especially with dark feathered birds, so went on-line to check out chicken pluckers. Found the Deliberate Agrarian, http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/and spend hours researching the blogosphere and bought plans to make my own Whiz Bang chicken plucker. Dave thought the design sounded like absolute bunk (he has never seen a plucker before) so I found this great video ... http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2011520544379610860
And we had a convert.
Now I had no idea the community which is on-line of folks who are homesteading. The really nice thing is that they are all works in progress, they all started out where I am now, and they are all are just down to earth, conservative folks. I think I will be spending more time there than the forums I had been on, which quite frankly are upsetting and unhealthy for me. I wish we could go with a full committment to this lifestyle, but when you are married to an engineer that is not going to happen. I can do my best, however, with what we have.
We also went with Steve (BIL) and tried to play tennis in town, but it was too hot and muggy so we gave up, and went to Penn Yan swimming with the dogs. Tom loves to swim, and after a while we got Nick to go out as well. Tallulah the Bull Terrier had her life vest on and she swam and swam with Jack the mutt chasing balls. She was so happy to be in the cool water, she is not built for heat. I mainly stayed with the dogs to make sure Tallulah did not see the little girl with the big pink ball down the beach. She has a thing for big balls, and would have run over and stolen it, not endearing us to the parents any.
Today The boys and I went picking blueberries at the U-pick down the road. Got 7 lbs, put up 9 pints of jam and have some left over for muffins and general eating. I would like to pick more to freeze. It was $1.25 per pound, so about 9 bucks for the lot. More than I would have liked to pay, I seriously am thinking to just buy bushes this fall. We also stopped at the cheese shop in town, we have been here 3 years and this is the first time we stopped. I talked to the owner for a few minutes, got some samples...yummy..... and bought cheese curds and smoked Havarti (our favorite of the samples.) I wouldn't say how much it cost, it is embarrassing, but we are supporting the local economy and it was so goooood!
So I need to finish cleaning up, and find something to do this afternoon. It is looking hazy, hot and humid with maybe approaching thunderstorms so I might just stick around and work on sewing those curtains I have been working on.
Blend in a food processor: ¼ c pine nuts (or walnuts or pistaccios) 3 cloves garlic (more if you like)
Add: ¾ cup shredded fresh parmesan ½ c olive oil
Add: 2 c. leaves firmly packed basil
Salt to taste, best over angel hair pasta with fresh parm. Keeps a week in the fridge.
This is my friend Rosanne's recipe, which was passed around so much no one knows where it first came from. I am hoping she is having a good time at her first full week in nursing school.
Well, I butchered 4 of the chickens, had one stewed that same day. He was a bit tough (being 2 months overdue for butchering) but the flavor was phenominal. Also, he was way more filling than store bought chicken. I had one leg/thigh piece, and was full until the next morning. I am thinking of trying to make the next one into ground chicken; I think there is enough texture to it. Ground turkey is really good, and this chicken was very similar in flavor and texture to turkey (it could be because it was a Turken.)
We moved the 4 chicks we were raising in the house up to the barn. Tom (youngest son) was very upset about it, even though they are just a few hundred feet away. That child, I know it will make him a great person as an adult that he cares so much about things, but sometimes it is tough to deal with. I just kept telling him it is a good thing to bring them all out there, and he can go visit them and get them out whenever he likes. They are back with their moms, which is good. The problem was the front room smelled like chickens, and when his dad gets back from NC he will be hit with chicken smell which is no pleasant welcome. Now I just need to really clean that room.
I bought a 1/2 bushel of peppers at the farmers market yesterday for $5, and when I cut them up and scalded them for freezing I ended up with 7.5 pounds. Not a bad deal at all, I would say. I also bought a 1/2 bushel of Roma tomatoes for $6 as well, I need to do those today. I thought I might can some as diced tomatoes, and make a large batch of sauce to freeze in quart bags. I start school next week so need as much already done as possible. I was hoping to get around to picking blueberries and raspberries for jam, but I am not sure how much time I will have. Maybe later this morning I can go pick berries; I was going to butcher the rest of the chickens today, but the boys went up to the barn to get some wood and let them all out.
The baby finches are out of the nest, I am hoping that is the last of the babies for a while. I need to start pulling eggs so they don't keep breeding. I have a home for one, and we just gave a pair to Tom's friend Chris and his mom (his dad wasn't really keen on the idea, but gave the green light). I don't want to keep breeding until we have to rely on strangers to take them. It is difficult to stop them though-they will use their food dish if you take out the nest. They are very determined.
Upstate NY has the best sweet corn as far as I am concerned.
Fill a large kettle with shucked corn on the cob and fill with cold water. Put on the stove on high, and when the water comes to a boil shut it off and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Drain, then lightly spread with butter and salt.
I have not experimented with this because quite frankly it is perfect the way it is. What I have done is always buy a dozen ears at a time, which is twice what we eat. I cook it up, then after supper cut off the kernels of the leftover cobs with a sharp knife and freeze the corn. Usually 6 ears will fill a quart bag most of the way. After a summer of eating corn, and with minimal effort and no extra time or energy spent blanching (it was done while cooking the eating corn) I can have enough corn to last the winter. While it may not be any cheaper you cannot beat the flavor. I end up paying about a dollar a quart bag, which is not bad. I remember as a kid my mother getting bags of corn and doing it all in one day-this is much easier!
I have had a perfectly boring and very satisfying day. Dave took the boys to the steam tractor engine show in Rochester, with Steve, Greg, Bill and Andrew (BIL and cousins). I cleaned my poor house from top to bottom, finished the laundry, hung out with the chickens, played with the dogs, and spent several hours weeding and sweeping the flower gardens and driveway. I have not been home for more than 4 days in a row in the last two months. My vegetable garden is a wreck, the peppers and tomatoes can be found among the towering weeds, and it looks like the zucchini may yet produce but the potatoes and garlic has all but disappeared. I probably will get potatoes though, I planted all blues and they are pretty hardy. The Moons and Stars watermelon isn't fairing too well, and niether are the Boothsby Blond cukes-I did get three but I think that may be it.
I was pleasantly suprised at how the flower gardens are doing. I really do not buy many plants, I either split what I have or trade people for new plants. I have been collecting sedums for the front birdfeeder garden, because the bed is in full sun and I do not want to have to water it. They have spread wonderfully, all different types. The nice thing about sedums is you can just pinch a bit of someone's and in a years time you have a really nice ground cover. The Echinacia is just gorgeous, and and the phlox is stunning. The Shasta daisies were really nice a few weeks ago, but are now fading, so I deadheaded them all-who knows, they may reflower. My hostas are doing well except in one side garden, where the chickens have shredded them. I got two wheelbarrows of weeds taken out, what a difference. I really like the sunflowers which the birds plant-Dave hates them but I defend their right to reside there with the excuse "but they're free!" Plus they feed the sparrows and chickadees in the winter and are quite pretty in their own way.
My chickens are so mean. They have been hanging out right next to the screen door, huge birds of all colors, baiting the poor Bull Terrier. They seem to think the dogs are friendly, which Jack is, but Tallulah....She leaves them alone because she is well trained, but they are not helping. Right now they are honking at her, as she sits crouched in the doorway with a ball between her feet. Yes, my turkens honk, it sounds like a kid on a kazoo. Turkens are the ugliest chickens, they have bald necks and you can see their ear holes, and they make noises which sound half turkey, half chicken. The only thing I can think they were bred for is it will be easier to cut off their heads without all those feathers. Speaking of which, I really need to do. Stupid me got fond of them, and trained them, and now I am having a really hard time thinking of killing them. I wish I wasn't so soft sometimes.
I have been perusing Stand Your Ground and MensNewsDaily, and I swear people are going nuts. They are arguing about everything, and doing nothing. They ask who are leaders and several claim they are and quite frankly if you spend most of your activist time online on message boards, you are no leader. Leaders are people who are doing great things and leading by example, people who you look up to. Glenn Sacks, Tom Golden, Matt O'Conner, Steven Baskerville, these to me are great leaders. It struck me when I had a few drinks at the hotel with Jolly how different he was from all the MRAs I talk to everyday. He didn't sit online, he probably doesn't spend much time at all at the computer. He is out doing things. I admire him for that. I have been trying to do the same, but old habits die hard. I have signed up for several activist action alert groups in the hope that even just on-line I can focus my time constructively. RADAR is one that I signed up for today. I had some ideas for local action, but I know once I start school I will not have much time for anything.
And of course Dave just bought me a laptop for school (crazy man) and now I feel like I am on-line even more. BUT-I started my dogtraining book, worked on my blog, and signed up for action alerts, so I guess it is not so bleak as all that.
4-5 Strawberry Newtons for each person A handful of fresh berries (blueberries is what we used)
Crumble up the newtons in a plastic bag or bowl, add berries and mix. Eat for dessert after a long paddle or hike.
We left a plastic baggie of newtons in the bottom of my pack when we were kayaking, and by the end of the day they were quite squashed. However my 11 year old is a culinary wonder and came up with this-it was really good.
Last week Tom and I went on a 4 day, 56 mile kayaking trip on the Seneca River and Erie Canal. The idea was to kayak to our friends house in Syracuse, for Cullen's birthday party (Tom's friend.)We decided to kayak half of the journey, as we did not have time to do the whole way. Dave dropped us off (about halfway along) and we put in at a marina on the northeast edge of Seneca Lake, which is right by the entrance to the Seneca River. I have a fishing kayak (Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler-bought as a previous year model for a steal!), and was able to load up all our camping gear and clothing in my dry hatch, and two small coolers and a backpack on the back of my boat. Tom stored stools, cooking equiptment, and a camp pad in his hatch, which is not water tight. We took all our food for 4 days, planning to stop and refill our water bottles at campsites. We went way too slow the first half of the day, but enjoyed the paddle and saw many Great Blue Herons, swallows, and many boats and little vacation homes.
We had a double scare at lunch, first we were floating and earsplitting screams rent the air-two teenage girls leaped out of a tree into the water about 10 feet from us! We had no idea they were even there! Heart attack! We decided to go on shore across the stream for lunch, and as we were unpacking the cooler Tom, who was in the water, started screaming TURTLE! and clutching his ankle. I pulled him out of the water, thinking if we could drag the turtle out of the water I could get it to let go, bet when he get his foot out there was nothing there (we have snapping turtles here which when full grown can take off a toe in a second). No blood, just a little redness, and the water was too cloudy to see what had grabbed him. After lunch I went back over, and in the now clear water was a muskrat trap, one of those snap traps made of heavy steel and chained down in the water. No signs, no flags to mark there was trapping there. I thought Tom was pretty lucky that he was able to get his toe out so easy. That could have been ugly.
We ended up going through two locks that day, which was a new expirience. Locks are huge watertight boxes on the river which allows a boat to go up or down in water level without going over waterfalls. You paddle in, they shut the door, raise or lower the water level, then open the opposite doors and you paddle out. They were meant to allow huge barges to travel across the state without unloading. The walls were all slimy and many had zebra mussels (which are an invasive foriegn species) that would spit water at you as the water level lowered and they became exposed to air. We also saw the Seneca Falls Sculture Park, where we took a break. Some really neat statues along a scenic path on the river. We also started playing with the GPS Dave had me take along, and was that ever cool! It told you how long you had moved, how long you stopped, how many miles you traveled, rate of speed, average moving rate of speed and overall average rate of speed including breaks. It also had a compass (although I had a more accurate one on my boat) and a map.
We ended up paddling 19.5 miles the first day, and camped at the Oak Orchard Campsite. We were exhausted and when we pulled up there is Dave, Nick (our oldest) Steve (brother in law) and Greg (cousin in law). They were worried about us and decided to make sure we got in alright. I told them I would call when I got in but they expected us to call several times during the day. Seemed a little weird to paddle so far and have them just show up. Sort of like when Dave climbed Whiteface Mountain with a full pack and at the top there were dozens of Japanese tourists out of a bus taking pictures.
The second night after 14 miles we stayed at River Forest campgrounds, which was mainly an RV park for summer residents. The campsites were a riot to look at, lots of NASCAR logos, cheap and numerous garden statues, old ladies in sparkly cloths and golf carts everywhere. We did get the most remote site and it was nice and quiet. The third night we camped out on Maloney Island, west of Balwinsville. It is just a small uninhabited island, and we pulled the boats up into the woods so no one would know we were there. There were many speed boats at that point, and we didn't want to have any trouble. It was another 95 degree day and it didn't cool down until after midnight-sleeping was rather uncomfortable. We could try to cool down the tent by letting in mosquitoes-not a good choice to have to make. It was really wild to camp out on the island, roughing it. We cooked dinner in the back of my boat so as not to start a fire in the woods, and read storied by head lamps for a few hours.
Our birding list included Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Two Bald Eagles (one immature, one adult), a Perigrin Falcon, Swallows, a Yellow Warbler, Cormerants, several types of Gulls, a Tern, Kingfishers, and a Harris Hawk. We found a swallow at Lock 24 which had been tangled in fishing line and was hanging upsidedown on the concrete wall in the channel. We found a place to shore and climbed around to get it. We could not get the line of his leg without hurting him, so we cut it as close as we could to his leg in the hopes that he could pick it off eventually. At least it would not get caught on anything. He just laid in my hand as we worked at it, and he had a flat, wedge shaped little head. He seemed very happy to fly away at any rate. We saw a muscrat too, and about a million water chestnuts, which are another invasive species, a floating water plant which drops spiky nuts which float down river. We need to come up with some way of harvesting them or the whole canal will be impassable in a few years.
We saw two trains go over a bridge right over our heads, and an abandoned stone railroad bridge that was just beautiful-it must have been something when the huge steam engines were going over it. We stopped at Cross Lake to swim on an island, it was just perfect-it had to be 95 degrees out and the water was clean and cool with a beach made of tiny seashells, millions of them. We spent an hour just farting around in the water, it was a much needed break.
We got in at noon Friday in Liverpool at Onondaga State Park. My friend Rosanne came to pick us up, and we made it in time for Cullen's birthday party the next day. We were not as sore as I thought we would be, and I was ready to go back out again the next day. We are definately doing this again next year.
Put some olive or peanut oil (1/2 a cup or so) in the bottom of a medium pot with several dried red chilies, a tsp garlic powder, half a tsp chili powder and a dash of cayanne pepper. Heat the oil on med high for a minute or two then add popcorn. If you tip the pan diagonal you should add just enough popcorn to be even with the amount of oil in the corner of the pot. Put the lid on and shake every so often. When it starts to pop make sure you keep shaking the pan every 15 seconds or so to prevent scorching. When there is a 2 second or so gap between the pops, take it off the burner and pour the popcorn into a bowl. Add salt (popcorn salt is best-it is powdered salt and sticks to the kernels best) and serve with an ice cold beer and a good movie.
Ok, I am lazy tonight and stole my son's popcorn recipe; my 16 year old made this up through trial and error, and it is awesome.
Thought I would take a break from the serious stuff and update the critter situation. Right now Bilbo and Gaffer, our pet rats, are running around the computer table as I blog. They are tan hooded rats and are around 6 months old; I got them from a girl I go to college with, who is in the vet tech program. They are so much nicer than the girls we had a few years ago-they do not bite, and they are much more gregarious. The poor boys have been stuck in their cage for 3 weeks as the kids and I have been gone and Dave does not get them out.
I ordered 25 heavy male chickens in May and we are down to 18 due to predators, and half of them are hens. They are getting big (compared to the banties) at 11 weeks old, but since they spend all their time down at the house foraging they do not eat their feed much and are growing slower than they should. I was supposed to butcher them weeks ago but they only weighed 3 pounds. I have such a hard time balancing between our need to have meat and their need to live a full life. They are getting the better end of the deal, I have to say, at this point. They are really healthy looking, very active, and thier combs are so bright red they look painted. They are handsome birds; we have Barred Rocks, Turkens, and Rhode Island Reds among others, and look just beautiful scattered about the yard-brown, white, black, speckled. I will have to start butchering soon, as they will get too tough to eat, but they are not that heavy yet. Maybe I will do a few of the larger ones and wait a bit on the rest. I think if I crock pot them they will be tender and the meat should be so much healthier than at the store.
The egg banties are setting, two of them are sharing a nest in the loft. I wonder how they will tell whose chicks are whose, or if they will communally raise them as they have shared setting duties. I have 5 left, 3 hens and 2 roosters. I kept hoping the little reddish hen and the reddish rooster would breed, but of course it is the plain brown hens and the white rooster who have nested. Ah well, can't have it all.
We are down to two dogs, Tallulah the Bull Terrier and Jack the Dal/Whippet cross. They have done nothing all summer, no shows other than one flyball/disc demo, but seem not to mind. Jack gets out a few times a week to play frisbee, but he is getting old and cannot run for more than a few minutes before he starts getting gimpy. Tallulah has been asked to do therapy at my sister in law's work, with the mentally handicapped. She loves visiting people, and so hopefully we will go in a few weeks. Unfortunatly the next two Saturdays are full, so it will have to wait.
We have finches, Dave's idea. We have two pairs who refuse to get along even in a huge cage, so they are separated for now. One of the pairs just hatched out a baby a few weeks ago. He was so quiet that I didn't even know he was there-I picked up the nest to see if there was any eggs in it and out flew a baby! He must have been in there 2 weeks or more and since he was alone was quiet.
Still have the same two cats, Poe the siamese and Dusty the ice cream store cat. Poe was not doing so well, losing weight, sleeping all the time. We had his teeth cleaned and he is a whole new cat! He follows us all over the house, hollaring, and even lets Tallulah sniff him a little. He apparently was in a lot of pain, poor old fart. At 14 I suppose things like teeth start to go a little. Dusty is fat as a house and ornery as usual.
We still have the frog and Zen the painted turtle. I am raising meal worms for them, it is so easy! Just throw them (worms) in a little bin with some oatmeal, pine shavings and a few apple or potato slices every few days, and they just keep multiplying. The cool thing is to see them go through all their stages, from egg to larvae to pupa to adult beetles. Sure beats driving an hour and paying 4 bucks for a plastic container of them. The frog will eat the meal worms right out of my hand-that is pretty cool, if I say so myself.
I also have a 55 gallon tropical fish tank; some of the fish I got in 1997! I have four bronze catfish left (that I hatched from parents in 1998); I had no idea they lived so long. There is a weather loach, a 'shark' (really a catfish that looks like a shark) and other hand me down fish, some of who are original to the tank back in '97.
That is about it. Our crazy house of critters. I keep saying no more because traveling is so hard, but it will be tough to hold myself to that. I have been getting the dog jones for months now-I am overdue for a new one; however with being in school full time (Alfred State College-agricultural science major) I just do not have time for any more. Dave says when I graduate I can have a large animal-I was thinking a donkey and a cow to keep it company-but I wonder how that will work with our inevitable travel schedule. I have a year to think on it.
I have worn many hats over the years, including nanny, dog trainer, circus performer, farmer, teacher, fiber processer and most recently felt and bead artist/jewelry designer. I have been married for nearly 17 years, have two sons who are 15 and 20 years old, and a house full of kuhn hounds, cats, birds, and goats. Well, the goats are out in the barn, but would like to be in the house!