Monday, November 30, 2020

Morning Musings

Saturday was an incredibly beautiful day outside, quite different from today! Saturday morning we had frost, and a thin layer of ice on the water tanks in the horse pasture, but it quickly warmed up. The air was so still, the water on Mom's pond looked like a mirror, perfectly reflecting the deep blue of the sky. Even the walnut trees had a perfect mirror image in the water. I found this little cedar tree growing on the bank of the pond, and there is another growing up from underneath Mom's propane tank. I'm going to ask Bill to dig them both up and move them to better spots on the farm to grow. We have a lot of volunteer willows and mulberries starting to grow all along the banks of the pond. They are becoming a nuisance and make it difficult to fish, or look out over the pond and enjoy the pretty view. I guess we will need to spend some time this winter cutting out trees so they don't come back in the spring. We also need to plant a couple new pine trees up on the bank to keep the soil in place, as two big pines died last summer and had to be cut down. When I was a little girl, we had dairy goats, calves, horses, and a pony out in the pasture across the pond. The goats ate down all the blackberry bushes, mulberry saplings, and young willow trees. The horses, pony, and calves kept the grass well trimmed. Everything looked so neat and tidy. Grandpa, who lived across the pond from us, kept things trimmed with his weed eater and his weed hook. He also kept the pond well stocked with catfish, large mouth bass, sunfish, and bluegills. We used to have some really great family fish frys. My great grandma (dad's grandma) would drive up to help with all the cooking. She was an excellent cook, and loved a good fish fry. Grandma, my aunt, and mom would make so many good things to eat. Dad, grandpa, and my uncle would clean the fish and fry up whatever they caught that day, as well as whatever they had been stocking up all summer in the deep freeze in the shed outside. Sometimes Mom's side of the family joined us, and sometimes my Grandma's and Great Grandma's siblings joined us. I loved having such a big extended family to spend the day with. Today the wind and snowflakes are blowing against my window and there is a bite to the air. There is ice on the porch, and a mug of hot tea in my hand. I plan to stay inside today and continue editing articles for the January issue so we can get it printed and distributed after Christmas. Bill is out trucking, and the boys are all working at the farm store today. I feel bad that they are all out in the wind and cold, but very thankful they have jobs that seem to not be affected by the craziness of 2020. Factories, stores, and homes still need goods shipped out and delivered, and ag related businesses are always going to be deemed essential, no matter what our governor might think. People should never be told garden supplies, plants, seeds, and such are non-essential! They are absolutely essential to keeping families fed during difficult times when supply chains may become disrupted! I'm so thankful that people chose to take a stand, demand the right to agricultural products, and common sense prevailed. Nurseries were able to open and people could get their plants and seeds to grow gardens this spring. I put extra seeds into air tight containers to make sure we have seeds in the future, should this insanity continue.
pond and blue sky

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Warm Memories

 I'm over at Mom's this morning, waiting for her new refrigerator to be delivered. As I sit here in her kitchen, I'm reminded of all the wonderful winter meals made on top this old wooden burning stove, and the countless newborn baby goats that were warmed and dried in a box beside the great old stove.

I absolutely love this old stove, and have already made it abundantly clear I have dibs on it whenever Mom decides she no longer wants it.

Growing up, the power often went out during winter storms, and this woodburner not only kept us warm, but also fed us great meals like biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, eggs, hamburgers, soup, or anything else that could be made on a baking sheet, or in a cook pot, or skillet. 

Up until 7 years ago when Dad passed away, this old cast iron woodburner was the main source of heat for this 3 bedroom ranch house. Mom, and my disabled brother who lives with her, uses it as emergency heat. Mom is afraid of chimney fires, so she doesn't feel comfortable using the old stove anymore. Dad was a professional, career firefighter for the nearby town, so while he was still here, she was fine using the old stove, but now it is just here in case the power goes out.

I remember keeping my bedroom window open all winter long to cool my room off so I could sleep at might, lol. I don't know what it is about wood heat, but it warms everything in the house from the inside out. Even the walls feel warm. It’s soooo different from propane or electric furnace heat.

Nashua Wood Burning Stove

I have plans one day to put this stove in my dinning room and vent it up my fireplace chimney. Our fireplace never puts out much heat. I suspect the majority of the heat goes up the chimney. With this old stove, most of the heat would stay in the center of the house, keeping us very comfortable.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Today looks very different for most of us this year. Some families have scaled back to just a single household, as per the governor's mitigation protocol. Other families have chosen to go ahead and celebrate with a large family gathering for anyone who feels comfortable sitting around the table together. Then there are those who are attempting a virtual Thanksgiving via Zoom or some other platform that will allow family to still feel somewhat connected.

Our family will be doing a modified Thanksgiving. We are still meeting face to face around a family table because it is what Bill's Grandma Norma wants to do. What Grandma wants, Grandma gets.  She is 92 years old and wants to see her children, grand children, and great grand children 

Not everyone will be there today. Some of the families with multiple small children in school will not be coming, since their families have been far more exposed to potential illness. Some family members feel uncomfortable around a crowd right now, and we offer no judgement. Some family members are working today.  Those who coming are a lot like us, and are rarely around other people anyway.  

Being out on the farm, I mostly just see my immediate family. Bill drives a semi, and is alone in the cab of his truck all day long, since his customers no longer allow drivers into their building. The others who are coming rarely leave their homes these days 

We will do our own version of social distancing inside her spacious home. There are three rooms set up for the families to sit in and eat. We can chat between the rooms, and eat together as family units. 

We are all using common sense. If anyone has a family member not feeling well, or has knowingly been around anyone who is not well, then that whole family will stay home. This is how it has always been. 

Yesterday Bill and I hauled off our second trailer load of scrap metal to the salvage yard. It didn't pay much, but between yesterday's load and Tuesday' load it covered gas for his truck for the week. 

After coming home from the salvage yard, it started raining so we worked inside preparing food for today. Grandma had asked Bill to bring a batch of the Strode Cranberry Salad, so we got out the old metal hand grinder and started grinding up the fresh cranberries, oranges, and apples. I did the taste testing and adjusted the sugar because poor Bill hates this stuff. He makes it for Grandma, and used to make it for my dad for years, simply out of love. He is such a good hearted man!

Charlene's Cranberry Salad

Using an old metal hand cranked grinder (we have found our Rival Electric grinder to be useless for this particular grinding task)

Wash, drain, and grind 4 pounds of fresh cranberries.

Wash, quarter, and grind 8 Granny Smith apples. No need to peel or core.

Wash, quarter, and grind 8 organic oranges, with skins on.

Add sugar to taste. We use 2-3 cups, which seems like a lot, but adjust to your taste. It will be a bit bitter because of the orange peel that is in there.

**Pro Tip** use a bowl placed under the metal grinder to catch the juice! It WILL leak juice everywhere, but you need the juice to add back into the salad or it will be too dry. Bill's dad always uses a roasting pan on a TV tray under the grinder to catch the juice that drips. Since the grinder clamps onto the edge of the kitchen counter, this works really well.

Thankfulness and gratitude are a choice you make to stay in a positive, abundant mindset. We have much to be grateful for, always. So, from the OCG-IL crew, we hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration,  whatever that may look like this year!

cranberry salad and Universal food grinder

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fall freezer filling season

 Today I'm sitting in my office (also known as the woods) reading, editing, and emailing folks who have submitted articles for the Jan 2021 issue. 

I'm sitting beside Bill, and just a few yards away is our youngest son. 

Illinois Deer Season Hunters
This weekend is 1st shotgun season for white tailed deer in Central Illinois. 

The weather yesterday hit a high of about 70F and sunny. Today it is 48F and cold, damp, and breezy. It rained overnight and this morning, making the trails muddy and leaves soggy. 

The air today has a bite to it, but I love the quite of the woods. The silence is pierced by the whistle of a red-tailed hawk overhead, and a woodpecker tapping on trees on the ridge behind us. A burro brays in a pasture to the south west of us, and a jet plane rumbles high across the sky. I love these sounds.

I'm meeting with Don and Jan Stover later this month to go over some information on the OCG, and OCG-IL business. I look forward to seeing their sweet faces soon. Some business just has to be done face to face. 

I have been learning about formatting text, wrapping text, and all about the newspaper printing business. There is a lot to learn, but I'm grateful for Don and Jan's help, and am happy to get to learn more things from them in a couple weeks.

Check back often for updates. The wind is picking up and my battery is getting low, so I better go.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Whoooo's been missing The Owl Creek Gazette?

Owl Creek Gazette Illinois

Hello, I'm Shanan Strode. I am a long time contributor to the Owl Creek Gazette,  and today my husband Bill and I did something exciting! Today we, along with Don and Jan Stover,  have restarted and expanded the much loved Owl Creek Gazette. There are now licensing agreements available through Don and Jan Stover! 

I'm thrilled to be taking the Illinois licensing agreement, and will be gearing up to get the OCG back in print for MONTHLY publication, beginning in January 2021.

We are working on ads, content, subscriptions, distribution, and all the other details that go along with getting the OCG back in print and into your hands.

We are going to do our very best to keep the original distribution area, though, sadly, some locations have been permanently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are looking into new businesses in those areas which would be willing to help us distribute copies of the OCG. 

We would also love to expand our love of the OCG into Central Illinois, and eventually expand into the rest of the state. 

Please check back often, as we will be posting updates on our progress and plans!

Bill and Shanan Strode