When the bold branches bid farewell to rainbow leaves - Welcome wool sweaters. ~ B. Cybrill

Thursday, March 5, 2015


My drive to work has become considerably more interesting.  The newly transplanted big horn sheep are licking the salt off of the road.  

I promised that I would keep you updated.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Marching on...

Not much to do these cold winter days, except to plan the garden and go snowshoeing.  I'm lucky to have Ella.  She encourages me to get out and about, despite the cold temps.  We snowshoed two miles today.  I have to admit that then we took a nap.  It was a lot of work.  I thought you would enjoy some photos.
My loving husband packed down a trail for me.  My dog left me in a snowdrift as she raced down the road, happy to be outside.  We headed down the road, around a turn, and up a mountain, down a valley, then back to the cabin.  

If you look closely you can see our cabin across the valley.  Just follow the ridge line.
 Ella was much too busy to look at the views.
 Here is a close up of our cabin.  If you look close you can see my husband waving to us on the upper deck.  
 This is the view from the top of the hill.  Looking to the east you can see Mount Roosevelt.  If you are ever in the hills the Mount Roosevelt Monument is a nice hike with a wonderful view. 

 After going up the big hill, we went down into the valley to an open meadow.
 Open meadows are great for racing around.  After burning off some energy, we climbed back up.  I went 2 miles and in that two miles my elevation changed by 242 feet.  Now that is a workout.  I'm sure my little traveling companion did double that.
What are you doing to stay active during the winter weather?  There seems to be a lot of people that snowshoe like me.  Does anyone cross country ski?  Any other way to get out and break the winter doldrums?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

This could be the beginning of something big...

South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks are trying to introduce big horn sheep the the Deadwood area.  Back in 2002, Deadwood almost burned in the Grizzly Gulch Fire.  Thanks to hardworking firefighters only a few homes were lost.  From the bad comes something good. The good in this scenario is the fire created the perfect habitat for big horn sheep.  We have some herds of big horns in the southern hills, but haven't seen any here in the northern hills.  

My husband was lucky enough to see the 26 sheep released.  They were brought down from Canada in horse trailers.  After 38 hours in a trailer, they were ready to go.  When the gates were opened the sheep took off and never looked back.  It was a good thing he had the camera ready.

You can tell from the photo above that the burned area has provided plenty of grass.   A few days after being released one got a little confused and ended up in Deadwood.  Maybe she wanted to do some gambling.   Somebody thought it was a pet goat that had escaped.  

Before you know it we will get photos like this one a co-worker took.  They are a common sight at this gas station outside of Hill City.  Thus, the statue.  This big guy wasn't sure if it was real or not.   Pat, the photographer, said the ram looked like he was going to nail the statue with everything, then at the last minute he would just tap it.  They are great photos.  

I love living in the Black Hills.  There is always something to do or see.  I am excited to see if the project is a success.  I will keep you updated.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

backyard bird count...

I always look forward to the backyard bird count in February.  It seems like the birds like to stand up and be counted.  My count included:
1 brown creeper
1 blue jay
10 house finches
7 chickadees
6 pine siskins
4 red breasted nut hatches
1 female downy wood pecker
1 male hairy woodpecker
3 mice
4 squirrels
1 chipmunk
4 deer
 Some handsome house finches.
 One chubby mouse.

All of that bird watching made me hungry.  To me bread is better than any dessert.  This is one of my favorite recipes.  It is a very hearty, flavorful, dark bread.

Steakhouse Bread
1/2 c. bread flour
1 envelope yeast
1/2 c. water
Stir and let set until mixture appears to have a spongy texture.
2 T. cocoa
1 1/2 c. bread flour
1 c. rye flour
1 1/2 c. wheat flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
Add to the yeast mixture. Then add...
1/4 c. almond oil (can use vegetable oil)
1 c. black coffee
Knead 12 minutes and let rise 1 hour.  Shape into a loaf, put in buttered bread pan, and let rise 20 more minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  

Enjoy with a glass of wine, while counting the birds.  Hope everyone else had a good weekend.  Did you participate in the bird count?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

New endeavors...

I am always up for a challenge.  Mushrooms are the newest endeavor.  Pinetree Seeds had mushroom plugs of all kinds.  I chose Maitake as it seemed suited for our climate.  Next weekend we will go out and find some oak logs.  The directions include drilling holes in the logs, gently tapping in the plugs, cover with beeswax, and then be patient.   That will probably be the hardest part.   

I promise to keep you updated on the progress.  Has anyone out there tried using mushroom plugs?  Any advice?  It is always good to try something different.  Mushroom farmer?  Maybe.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Autumn Amber Apple Wine...

Back in October of 2010, I bought a little wine making kit for about $35.  I was looking for something to do with berries besides jellies and jams.  Fifty five batches of wine later, I have to say I do enjoy this little hobby.  I am by no means an expert.  I'm in it for the fun of it.  

Yesterday, I made a wonderful discovery.  The hard apple cider has never been my favorite creation.  It is somewhat bitter, more beer like and I'm not a fan of beer.  I was getting ready to sweeten a batch for bottling, when I observed what a beautiful gold color it had become.  I thought to myself that adding brown sugar, not the usual white sugar, would enhance both the color and the flavor.  Once and a while I'm kind of brilliant.  It has gone from the bottom of my list to the top.  Both the color and the smooth cider flavor is exactly what I was looking for.  

I'm calling it my Autumn Amber Apple Wine.

 I make about a batch of wine a month.  It has to sit for 3 months or more.  As you can see, there are quite a few batches in the works.  There is an interesting batch coming up, Bonnie's Bumbleberry.  It is a combination of gooseberry, currant, thimbleberry, and raspberry.  I've never used gooseberries before.

Well, that is how I am keeping myself occupied when the temps are -7.  What are you doing to keep busy during the winter months?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Get Well Soon...

In case you didn't know, it is cold and flu season.  The flu seems to be quite strong this year.  My husband is not feeling well.  Congestion and sore throat.  I'm on red alert, since most of my students and teachers are sick.  Add my husband to that mix and I'm probably doomed.  I decided to be prepared.  Oh, and take care of my husband.

First, I made some homemade throat drops.  I have wanted to try these for some time, but it looked like a lot of work.  I decided better now than when I'm sick.  

 Homemade Honey/Ginger Cough Drops
1 c. Ginger tea
1 c. Honey
2 T. Lemon Juice
1 c. sugar
1/4 t. ginger

First make the tea.  I used a Korean Ginger Tea that was given to me by a very thankful Korean mother.  It sure has some zing to it.  After the tea is made, add the honey, lemon juice, and sugar. 
Boil until the candy thermometer says 300 degrees.  That took a while.  Keep a watch on the pot, because it will boil over.  I kept it on a low temperature and tried not to stir it much.

Next prepare your molds.  Make an even layer of powdered sugar in a cake pan.  Then using a 1/2 teaspoon leave indentations in the sugar.  That was much easier than I anticipated.  When the mixture reaches 300 degrees, use a tablespoon to fill the sugar indentations.  Be super careful as this is just plain hot hot hot.  Let everything cool, then stir with a slotted spoon.  When both sides are covered with powdered sugar, sift the drops out, put in a jar, and put in the refrigerator.  Be careful using these with children as they are still a bit sticky in the middle and kids under the age of 3 aren't supposed to have honey.  

Then next home remedy is a spicy cough remedy.  This really has some zing, but does sooth a sore throat and quiets the cough.  

Maggie's Cough Remedy
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. ginger
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2 T. water
1 T. honey
Mix and refrigerate.  This will make your eyes water, but it works.

My final go to is a homemade hot drink made with 1 c. water, 1 T. apple cider vinegar, 1 T. lemon juice, and 1 T. honey.  I find it very soothing.  

That in a nutshell is my "Get Well Kit."  I can't say enough how much I enjoy finding and trying these homemade remedies on Pinterest.  I especially like that I can make them out of things that are readily available in the cupboard and honey from my own hives.

One last home remedy is not from Pinterest.  It is good old Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with a side of homemade bread.  The soup is canned vegetables from my garden, cooked and shredded chicken breasts, 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 2 bay leaves, ground parsley, and ground thyme.

Grandma Wilder's Noodles 
1 1/2 t. salt
3 eggs beaten
1 1/2 cup of flour

Mix by hand until it sticks together, roll out flat, and cut into strips with a pizza cutter.  Boil in the soup for 20 minutes.  If my family is scratching their heads wondering who Grandma Wilder is.  She is from a cookbook.  

There you have it.  The perfect recipe for getting better.  Don't forget to take lots of naps.  In fact, that is where I'm headed next.  I hope everyone out there is avoiding the plague.   At the bottom are the sites where I found the recipes.  Good luck and stay healthy.

Cough Syrup:  http://nancyvienneau.com/blog/articles/home-remedy/
Cough Drops: http://sarahmcgill.squarespace.com/recipes/2011/8/20/honey-ginger-throat-drops.html