Friday, March 28, 2008

Lamb cake

We're back from a fun 4 days in Louisiana (and about that many driving to and fro). We've got a bunch of fun photos to share here when I have a bit more time, but in the meantime, I thought I'd show off our lamb cake from Easter this year. Its collar is a bit crooked and its eyes look slightly, um, strange somehow, but I still think it's pretty cute. We weren't going to be getting back into town until late the night before Easter and I had already told the kids we probably wouldn't be having a lamb cake this year, much to their disappointment, especially Ellie.

However, thanks in no small part to our new friend, the portable DVD player, we made record time driving Saturday and I was able to bake it that night. We spent much of Easter morning decorating while hanging out with Uncle Dave (in town for a couple of days) before heading to Tommy & Deb's for a great Easter dinner. Still no Ukrainian Easter eggs this year (not even dyed eggs, though we're going to do that just for fun this weekend), but it was nice to still have our lamb cake tradition.

Notice the peep in the foreground next to the "baby lamb" -- a little chocolate lamb covered with buttercream frosting. There's another peep in the back to for a full 360-degree lamb cake diorama. Oh, and not to brag, but this cake was delicious! (And in case you're worried, no actual lambs were hurt in the making of this lamb cake!)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Aerial view of our place

Hey, check it out! We just got this cool photo of the homestead-lite. A fellow who pilots a small plane out of Lake Elmo Airport and does aerial photography came by with this picture he took last month. We've wanted to get one of these but the prices were always sky-high, so to speak, but not so with this guy. So now we finally have one to hang side-by-side with the aerial photo Ted and Michele had done in 1986. We'll have to figure out a way to get that one scanned into digital format as well, but in it, you can really see the huge differences in 22 years, especially in how grown the trees have become. The row of elms on the left-hand side of the new pic (between our place and Bud & Cora's) has really grown from practically nothing to the big windbreak you see here.

In the new photo, you can make out the paths we've made in the back 40, the prairie up front, and just the tippy top of Ted's chicken coop, poking up from behind the big barn. (You have to know what you're looking at to figure that one out.) Ellie and I thought that maybe we could make out Moose in the barnyard, but it may just be the slide from the goats' little playset. I think it's pretty cool that you can make out lots of deer tracks, especially in the front.

Below is the full picture the pilot took. (Click on either photo and you can see things much better.) You can see Bud & Cora's next door, Moon & Shifter (their horses) eating at their big hay bale, and a lot of the horses and cows from our neighbors on 22nd Street. You can also see part of our field to the north of the house, as well. When I zoom in, I can even see what I think is our little cat friend (a barn cat who's hung around almost every day for the last two years whom we now call Checkers) slinking across the Wamstads' field in back of ours. Too cool! We're hoping to have the pilot take another picture in the full of summer this year to compare.

What's next, satellite imagery?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The end of an era

We're sad to report that the eponymous fat beagle of Fat Beagle Farm has died. Dixie died about 3 weeks ago after a very swift illness. She was normal in the morning, then we when got home from XC ski club in the afternoon, she was a little "off". By a that evening, she was effectively paralyzed (although not completely). Our vet thought she had herniated or even ruptured a disk high up in her spine, given how quickly she was affected. We tried more than 24 hours of intensive IV therapy with steroids and other drugs to see if that would reduce swelling and hopefully reverse some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, she got worse instead of better (the disk was no doubt ruptured), so we decided to euthanize her. Ted and I were both there to give her lots of love -- and cat treats, of course. She died as she lived -- loving lots of affection and delicious treats.

We were all very sad, of course, but in some ways it was easier than when Jack died last March. His illness (a tumor on his lower spine) progressed somewhat slower, so we had several weeks before the inevitable for him. In some ways, it was such a shock with Dixie, but it was certainly not the worst way for her to go.

Truth be told, true to her breed, she was such a roamer and had run off, following nothing but her nose, so many times over the years that it was a miracle she was never hit by a car. Dixie's life was saved over a dozen times, no doubt, by the kindness of strangers who would find her rambling right down the middle of a busy road. Once, when we were visiting New Orleans around Christmas and she was staying with friends, she left their yard (gate left open by a child) and roamed for over 6 hours in below zero temperatures. A kindly trucker found her sleeping on a steaming manhole cover in the middle of a would-be-busy industrial intersection! She probably thought she'd died and gone to heaven, sine this trucker was a dog-lover and even had treats in his cab for her. Not a bad way to spend the next 6 or 8 hours, eating treats and lying in the cab with him before he finally got in touch with us!

It's interesting that we lost both Jack and Dixie within less than a year, just like some old married folks. Jack was 10 1/2 and Dixie was 12 1/2. They were both with us for over 10 years. Dixie had been a research dog before living with us, and she definitely seemed to make the most of the life of leisure she enjoyed after her service to veterinary science. The house is definitely different around here now, and it does feel like the end of an ear.

Here are a few more photos of Dixie at work and play: doing the "pre-wash", licking baby Ben's face, being extremely patient with the kids, reaching ever-so-hopefully for the Thanksgiving turkey, and the like.

In memory of "Subject D" 1995-2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Homebrew Ted

So for those of you unfortunate enough not to have sampled some of Ted's yummy homebrew beers, you've missed out. He's become quite the homebrew hobbyist, having made his 21st batch last week. Some varieties include a Nut Brown Ale, Pumpkin Ale, Stockport Style Bitter, "Phat Tyre" Amber Ale, Laughing Heart IPA, Dusty Mud Irish Stout, Spruce Beer, Ted's Spit Stout (last week), and the 'house' beer, Palace Bitter. All are under the Fat Beagle Brewery 'label'. ;-) Almost every brew has been delicious, with just one or two not quite up to snuff (which I think is pretty awesome, considering). Ted could tell you much more about it, of course, since I'm just here to drink the beer and share the pictures.

Here's a pic from this summer -- note G.G.'s crocheted bedspread (which is usually on the guest bed!) helping something-or-other with a constant temperature. (I told you I'm ignorant of it all!) Ted has since streamlined his process, though I can't exactly explain how he's done that, except to say it involves something we got for him for Christmas called a "beer gun" as one system improvement.

The bottling and labeling parts can be a family affair.....

.... but not the drinking part -- REALLY!

Hello! Remember us??

Hi everyone, remember us?? So sorry it's been such a ridiculously long time since I've posted anything here on our blog. I've vowed to turn over a new leaf and post much more regularly, again. We've had a great fall and winter here in Afton, with WINTER being the operative word lately. It's cold, cold, cold (as in below zero, not counting windchills), but it's expected to get downright balmy, at least comparatively and for a short time, this weekend. Woohoo! No frozen nose hairs!

Anyway, here are a few pictures from December, and I promise more will be coming very soon.

Here's Max getting down and funky the day we put up our Christmas tree.

Ellie and Ben "helped" each other decorate the tree.

Ted and I had a great weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona, in early December. Michele stayed with the kids, and I went with Ted to a work conference. Well, actually, he worked some of the time and I played. Here we are halfway up Piestewa Peak, a lovely little mountain right there in town. Ted made it all the way to the peak, but I managed only about 4/5 the way up, thanks to forgetting my darned inhaler and developing some tendonitis partway up (having nothing to do with asthma and everything to do with my lack of coordination). I guess I'm not quite used to jaunting up and down craggy mountain trails, eh? ;-P

Saturday, September 22, 2007


...or woman, I suppose. Either way, here's a cool photo of a black and yellow spider (Argiope aurantia) I took in our front prairie a couple weeks ago. That morning, I looked out the bedroom window to see huge spider webs covered in dew all over the prairie. I'm not a good enough photographer to be able to capture those images well, but this one was pretty cool, I thought. This spider's body was probably a little bigger than a quarter -- a bit too big for my comfort, but they must have some important job in the prairie or they wouldn't be there, right?

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Great Minnesota Get-Together

We had another fun day at the State Fair a couple of weeks ago. It was a long one, from 10:30am to past 9pm. That's plenty of walking and eating and walking and seeing animals and walking and visiting the 4H building and walking and eating. Here are some photos:

Max at the all-you-can-drink milk bar -- the pipes overhead carry cold milk (regular or chocolate) straight down like a tap at a bar.

Mmmm -- chocolate milk!

Ben on the Sky Ride with Ted

Noelle on the Sky Ride in the rain

An action shot of Ellie, Max and Noelle on the River Ride