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Merry & Bright

December 26th, 2014

It was balmy here in Maine yesterday, around 50 degrees. We took advantage of the nice weather to get a few outside chores finished up. Mr Chiots washed the cars and I cleaned out the duck ponds.
Christmas 2014 2
Breakfast was overnight French toast with maple syrup, then we watched Christmas Vacation. There wasn’t a big fancy meal, we had a meat/cheese plate and some wine. Then off to the neighbor’s house for desert, I baked Bourbon Pecan Pie to take.
Christmas 2014 1 (1)
Christmas 2014 2 (1)
We had already opened up our gifts the night before. It’s always been a tradition in my family to open gifts on Christmas Eve. That way the parents could always sleep in. Even after we all got older the tradition stayed, there’s just something nice about opening gifts when it’s dark outside. As usual, Mr Chiots and I are very practical gift givers. Many times they are things we’d be buying anyways, it just seems more fun to wrap them up and put them under the tree. These are the things we found beneath the tree:
Christmas 2014 1
A handmade terracotta egg crate for all those lovely eggs laid by our chickens. Truth be told I could use about 5 of these in the summer when I’m getting a dozen eggs a day. This will be perfect to have sitting on the counter to keep the eggs within easy reach.
Christmas 2014 3
Mr Chiots is always complaining of congestion the day after spending time on the tractor or cutting/splitting firewood. A Respro mask seemed like a perfect gift. It’s supposed to be super comfortable and the filters keep out the toxic fumes from diesel and small engines along with small particulates.
Christmas 2014 4
Mr Chiots is always complaining of lint & cat hair on his clothes, I found this wonderful wood & rubber lint brush made my redecker. It works very well and now there is no longer a need to buy those sticky lint rollers.
Christmas 2014 5
Our neighbor made us these sweet little felted bacon ornaments. Handmade gifts are the best of all and these are so cute!
Christmas 2014 6
Mr Chiots has been in need of a new set of hair clippers. After going through a cheap set every year or so, I decided it was time to invest in a professional pair that should last for years to come. After much research, the Oster Classic 76 was the pair I selected. They are made in the USA and get great reviews. If you have someone who cuts their own hair, this would be a fabulous gift!
Christmas 2014 8
Being a Tolkien fan, this new book of his art was a perfect gift for Mr Chiots. This was actually purchased as a birthday gift (which is in January), but one of his Christmas gifts didn’t get finished in time. So it will be given at Christmas and this was given now.
Christmas 2014 9
We’ve been needing new outdoor thermometers, ours are falling apart and not accurate at all. Now we have a large French enameled thermometer that should give us accurate temperature measurements.
Christmas 2014 10
Mr Chiots also got me a Kindle for Christmas, definitely not a gift I’ve been pining for. I’m a tactile person and love the feel of an actual book, though it will be nice to get Kindle books from the library. It will also come in handy when I travel, I’m usually stuffing five or six books in my bag, now I can have an entire library in my purse.
Christmas 2014 11
All of my kitchen towels are getting old and warn, we did get most of them for our wedding sixteen years ago. Mr Chiots got me a few waffle weave linen towels from Fog Linen. When it comes to kitchen textiles linen is the best since it gets softer, more absorbent, and better with age.
Christmas 2014 12
Last but not least was the lovely men’s grooming kit I got for Mr Chiots. He’s always been meticulous when it comes to keeping his nails cleaned and trimmed. He has this really crappy set of nail clippers, the kind you get at a gas station for 99 cents. Now he has a lovely set that will last the rest of his life!

What did you find beneath your tree yesterday?

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2014

From all of us at Chiot’s Run, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Merry Christmas
We’ll be doing what we usually do, watching James Bond, hiking, eating cookies, and relaxing. We hope you enjoy the same.  See you on Saturday!

Winter Bloom

December 23rd, 2014

Both of my small ‘Hedgehog’ aloes are blooming. The flowers are rather insignificant, but quite lovely in their simplicity. I love that they come this time of year when the garden outside my window is devoid of color.
hedgehog aloe 1
This particular plant lives on my beside table. It’s nice to know that it not only brings beauty to my room, but it also cleans the air as well.
hedgehog aloe 3
These two plants were pups from the big aloes that I had on my front porch back in Ohio. They’re spectacular plants when grown in large containers. I left one for my neighbor, it lives in her living room now. Mine came to Maine and I harvested pups the first winter because I didn’t have space for the giant pot.
aloe hedgehog 5
The photo above was when I first planted them. When we finally moved they were about twice as big and they were stunning! I really love the structure of the aloe plants, the shape of the leaves, the fleshiness , and the thorns. They are very artistic in their form.
hedgehog aloe 2
It will take a few more years, but these little beauties will once again become large spotlight plants in my garden. By then hopefully I’ll have a better space for overwintering large tender plants. Until then, they’ll live with minimal fertilizer and water to keep them growing as slowly as possible.

Do you grow any succulents indoors during the winter?

Sidekicks

December 22nd, 2014

This is what we see from our kitchen window every morning:
Turkeys (1)
These two turkeys of ours have become my sidekicks. They wait for me to come outside every day and follow me around while I work.  They sing their sweet little songs and are highly entertaining! Turkeys are definitely birds that we love having around.
Turkeys (2)
We’re fairly sure that we ended up with two hens, so I’ll be looking for a tom with hopes of having a breeding trio next year.  Or maybe one of them will go broody and I can put some fertile eggs under her. I’d love to end up with a small flock of Wishard Bronze turkeys that can raise their own young each year. This is one of the best parts of having a little bit of land, experimenting with new birds has been a lot of fun!

If had space for lots of animals what would you have on your farm?

Relearning the Old Ways

December 21st, 2014

Atavism [atuh-viz-uhm] noun – the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.

found while reading The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens

Yesterday we spent the day butchering our pigs. They were slaughtered last Saturday and hung on our back porch during the week. Neil came back yesterday and we cut, ground, salted, and packaged up the meat. We got them almost 100% processed. The only thing I have left is one type of ham brine to mix/boil. That’s quite a feat, last year I spent an entire week working on this process.
pig butchery 3
As we worked I thought about all the older people I have met recently that have told me about how they remember slaughtering hogs when they were kids. My grandfather’s wife was one of those people. She spent a long time telling me about how they used to raise 5-6 hogs each year to feed the family (she had a lot of brothers & sisters).  Back then they grew food because they had to, now we do it because we want to.

Have you experienced talking to people from previous generations about their memories of growing/raising their own food? 

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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