Friday, November 30, 2012

this is how we use expensive area rugs out in the sticks

I bought this Karastan area rug a long time ago from a rich lady that posted it on Craigslist for $200. It likely cost well over ten times that new and was in excellent shape, so I felt that I was getting a pretty sweet deal.

It graced the wood floors back in our last home for several years but was pretty gross by the time we moved out here after much wear from two large dogs, countless beer spills from the social gatherings we used to frequently hold, and just moving across the country in general. I initially laid it out in our little cabin because it doesn't fit any room in the main house well, but it really needed a good cleaning and just wasn't working for me, and I didn't feel like shelling out a couple Benjamins to get it professionally cleaned.

So yesterday, it became reinvented as a kill mulch.

Being all wool, it should serve well for the purpose of killing the grass and creating a new planting bed. I'm thinking that I might be able to reuse it in another spot after it's finished the job, although it might end up just becoming one with the soil -- I think it will be an interesting experiment.

Rug connoisseurs will see this as a travesty (including myself, just a little bit), but I figure that I got good use out of it, and it's time to make use of something that I don't want to spend money on to clean but can't bear to just throw away.

I'm also thinking that due to its rectangular shape, I might make a mini potager garden out of it instead of just one big garden bed (that I would need to step into in order to access plantings and end up compacting the soil, which I'm trying to avoid).

By the way, a certain puppy thinks that he fits well on a queen-size bed:

Lastly, my bro-in-law arrived yesterday afternoon! I didn't take any pictures because we started celebrating almost immediately, and everyone is a little worse for the wear today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

...the deer came back the very next day (sung to the tune of "The Cat Came Back")

We figured that dropping off the remaining deer carcass (ribcage, head, and legs) waaaay up the mountain and letting the coyotes and crows (and possibly Jay's friend, the bobcat) have at it would be fine. Those amazing creatures took care of the guts entirely (as in, not one shred left) that we left up at the top of the mountain where the buck was killed.

But that was a little too tempting for a certain little dog, who decided to drag the ribcage down yesterday and the head down today to the yard. No doubt she will bring us the legs tomorrow.

That's why this post is not accompanied by any pictures because I'm pretty sure you don't want to see a gnawed-on ribcage, dried up eyeballs popping out of a worked-over deer head, and other rotting bits floating about the yard.

We were kinda wondering why she hasn't been eating much recently.

This is not entirely her fault because she is, after all, a dog, but I would like to figure out how to bring the animal pieces that we don't choose to eat ourselves back into the ecosystem (and not instead taken to the dump) without getting totally grossed out. Clyde Dog looked about as disgusted as we were with her prizes, but that might be because he seemed to be a little disturbed by the entire butchering process to begin with.

Looks like more hiking is in order with the next kill.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

cuddling puppies

I knew that would get your attention.

Aside from these adorable curs, I went to Galax, Virginia today to scope out my future photo shoot that will likely happen on December 6th. Got talent/model approval from the higher-ups, got the day planned out with the facility's Executive Director and Visual Designer, and I think I have my creative mind set for the day.

I can't tell you how excited I am about this.

Also, I listened to a CD this evening that I hadn't heard in a long time (always thanks to Jay because he knows my all-time favorites in the music spectrum), and I just want to remind anyone out there that might be a fan of how radical New Order's Substance album is -- yeah, the one from 1987. More specifically, Bizarre Love Triangle and True Faith. Download it and then go dance around.

Monday, November 26, 2012

presenting my Mama, Virginia Dell Lichac, and her fabulous artwork

Instead of my usual day-to-day BS here at the farm, I thought it would be refreshing to show you a picture of the AMAZING barn quilt my artist Mama painted for us recently.

Before we moved out here, I asked my Mom to christen our barn with her very own version of the Appalachian barn quilt. And boy did she deliver!

This baby is 8'x8' and, without a doubt, will be the most unique piece to grace any barn in Appalachia. My Mom's love of color and eccentricity shines through more than I've ever seen before, and I'm so happy that she gifted us with it.

We won't be mounting it on the barn until it warms up in the Spring (it may decide to live elsewhere if our barn doesn't have the structural integrity to withhold it because it is HEAVY, let me tell you), but rest assured that if you ever come visit us, you will be greeted by this very special piece upon your arrival.

Go see the rest of her wonderful collection at

Love you, Mom!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

take a wild guess as to what we ate tonight

If you guessed venison, you would be one smart cookie.

Sauteed in olive oil, butter, and garlic by Jay, the backstrap medallions we cut up after freezing them overnight were pretty amazing. I'm still at a loss as to what the adjective "gamey" means because this tasted not much different from beef.

These tasted like rich beef, and we've deduced that gaminess might usually be a result of improper or delinquent processing. Like I said, I just don't know what gamey really is because the squirrel we processed previously tasted like chicken and this buck tasted mostly like beef -- it's not beef so it couldn't taste exactly like it, but it just wasn't much different.

Some people say that hate venison, but I don't see how you could hate this if you have any affinity for beef.

We read up that the easiest way to curb the tougher nature of venison is to turn to the crock pot. So while these medallions were delicious in a fry pan, it will be fun to experiment with other cooking methods for our home-harvested meat.

I'll conclude by saying that it felt absolutely wonderful to eat meat from our very own woods.

Sorry, no after shot because this got devoured immediately and there was no time for camera work.
I did prepare a simple, fresh salad in case you're wondering if we ate anything but meat tonight.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

watch out, gory pictures ahead!

I don't really see the butchering process as being that gory, but to someone that hasn't seen the butchering process before, the following images might be a little much.


We killed ourselves a motherfucking deer today!!

I say "we" even though I had no part in the harvesting. However, I did help with the skinning and butchering, and let me tell you, it's way more fun than getting piddly little squirrels ready for some good eats (although I plan to continue eating those, too). So I think it's alright for me to say "we" because this was a team effort, and we make the best fucking team in the universe.

This day wouldn't be complete without throwing a shout out to my Pops, who gifted us a rifle: a 1954 Winchester Model 94 30-30 that took this bad boy down. In one shot, I might add, because Jay is a super marksman and hit him right in the fucking head!

This was my first time butchering a deer, but I was told today that I should
have been a spinal surgeon due to my skill. Score!

Holding up two deer legs = happiness.

The almost fully butchered carcass hanging from the
wood shed beam was a little creepy looking from a distance.

Everything here but the neck on the left is gonna become jerky thanks to our super cool neighbor.
The tenderloins and backstraps are too special to be shown here
(naw, I just forgot to take a picture of them in all the excitement.)

MEAT! And more importantly, locally harvested, humanely killed, amateurly butchered (meaning, yes, you can do this, too) and soon-to-be lovingly prepared for good eats.

Friday, November 23, 2012

gifted plants!

We were so thankful yesterday to be given some awesome plants from local friends. I spent the afternoon transplanting these babies in two parts of the yard -- one up against the storage shed that I had previously cleared with the scuffle hoe and the other against the wood shed that I had dumped some grass clippings on awhile back.

The grass clippings blocked the light to and killed the underlying grass, so I raked it further back up the side of the wood shed to kill the grass in that area next, which left me a clean slate with which to work.

We have an astonishing number of rocks in our soil, so it took me some time to dig each hole. I added a few cups of a mushroom compost/peat moss/vermiculite concoction that I had hand-mixed to each hole to both provide nutrients and loosen up the clay soil a bit.

These guys might look a little scraggly, but keep in mind that they had been just uprooted by their previous owner, transported, and then transplanted -- they should bounce back without any problem. I was warned to not plant comfrey anywhere I didn't want it forever, so I think this spot next to the compost bin is ideal.

I decided that using my tiller mattock (thanks, Gina, if you're reading this!) was easier than a pointed shovel for digging holes and removing the many, many rocks. The one advantage to uncovering so many rocks is that they can be used as a border for the garden beds. I realized today that I'm very glad to be taking the raised bed approach for the main garden area -- because that means NO ROCKS.

I divided the echinacea clump our friend gave us to spread things out a little bit. I still have some Jerusalem artichokes, fig tree cuttings, and flower bulbs to put in the ground, but those need to wait until spring.

Despite this week's gorgeous weather, Saturday's high is supposed to only reach 39 degrees, so I might opt to mulch these newbies with some leaves to ease their acclimation into our yard.

I can't tell you how wonderful it felt to be able to do some planting today, especially since I get to cross a few items off my seed wish list thanks to a generous friend.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

happy thanksgiving!

We could not have asked for a more beautiful, warm, late Fall day to give thanks. We spent the afternoon with friends on a gorgeous riverfront farm in SW Virginia. Missing y'all, friends and family, but look what you have to look forward to when you come out to visit us!

FYI, roasted deer beats the pants off a turkey any day.

Our wonderful hosts!

Our drool-worthy take-home.

View from the deck. The Clinch River is a little hard to see but right beyond the tree line.

This guest house would fit right in in the SCM.

This gargoyle drives a vintage Russian tractor.

Someone was a little excited to be on a walk.

The Clinch River is crystal clear right now.

Clyde wouldn't leave Frankie's side (it was his property we were at).

Frankie's "Fallen Angel" natural rock formation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

compost crock chicken -- say what??

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, folks!

Yes, that is my compost crock on top of my fry pan with some chicken cooking underneath. I was trying to replicate a dish that I used to make a lot but kinda need the recipe for because it has some special steps -- I remembered that it requires a lot of weight on top of the chicken to get some good, caramelized sauciness going on.

I remarked to Jay how sometimes my cooking smells so much better than it actually tastes. He approved of it, but I gave it a thumbs down.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

employment, calves, lighting and farmhouses

I'm a little overstimulated right now. All sorts of exciting things happened today.

First, I did a proctored examination for a job with the USPS in Johnson City. I always thought it would be fun to be a mail carrier, either on foot or by vehicle, but in order to be considered for any job with the USPS, you have to first do an online, unproctored evaulation, and if you pass, then you get to set an appointment for an exam at a testing facility.

I am rather disappointed at my 84 out of 100 score. It was definitely not the comparison part (making sure addresses are accurate) of the test that got me but rather the memory portion -- my memory sucks. Here's to hoping that I did better than the other people there and get to put a flashing light on my car and drive around all day (have I ever mentioned how I love to drive?). The facility does testing for institutions other than the USPS, too. My name was on the list next to another guy that was testing to be a secret agent with the FBI!

However, before all this happened, as I was driving down our road on the way to my exam and gawking at the cute calf that was born about a week and a half ago, I noticed another tiny calf nearby being licked clean by its mama. Pretty sure he/she had just been born within the hour. Then, about five miles further on my route to Johnson City, I waved to an attentive farmer that was standing nearby another cow that had clearly just delivered a newborn calf herself. I'm telling you, this place is paradise, people.

I got to Johnson City about an hour early and killed some time at Target.

I bought string lighting. I kinda have a thing for lights.

I already broke that last bulb on the right, dangit.

On my way back, I decided to take some pictures of my favorite farmhouse in this area. I'm not sure why I'm so infatuated with it, but I think it's because it's all white. No pink or green or blue shutters like every other farmhouse I've seen around here. Just a clean, uncluttered, symmetrical white farmhouse. I would beg Jay for us to live there if it weren't on such a fast road.

Lastly and most importantly, I answered a Craigslist ad last week for a local photographer to do a commercial shoot at a medical facility in SW Virginia. I really didn't think I would get a response, but I did last night. I talked to the head guy in charge of marketing (who is in Cupertino, CA of all places -- ironic), and guess what, I'm hired! I'm still a little bit in shock. I shoot next Wednesday. I have a lot to do to prepare before then.

OK, one last thing: I felt a little self-conscious having my vinyl lettering on the back of my car (the first time I've driven in public with it) since I was driving all over the place today where people might actually see it, but then I realized that I don't feel like such a weirdo when I pull over on the side of the road to take a picture of something.

Monday, November 19, 2012

beef stew [ recipe ] + puppy play

I made the "best beef stew ever" tonight (according to my husband-in-crime). But not the best bread ever (according to me). I used leftover homemade frozen pizza dough for the bread because, well, stew without bread is a travesty, and store-bought sliced honey-wheat bread was just not going to cut it, but that's all I had on hand.

So I thawed some pizza dough and baked it. It was alright -- crusty and all that, but it took forever to bake through. However, the wait for the stew was well worth it.

Beef Stew for Two:

- 3/4 lb. stew beef, chopped into smaller pieces than what the butcher gives you, seasoned with sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 4 slices maple-pepper bacon, sliced
- 1 large red potato, diced
- 1/2 large red onion, diced
- lots of minced, fresh garlic. LOTS
- 1/2 carrot, diced
- some flour, for thickening
- 4 cups water, more or less
- 1/2 lemon, squeezed
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- salt and pepper, to taste

Saute your bacon in a stew pot over medium-high heat until crispy. Don't drain the fat. Bacon fat is muy bueno.
Reduce heat to medium, and throw in the onion for a few minutes.
Then the garlic for a few minutes more.
Then the stew beef.
Toss in some flour to make a semi-roux.
Then a couple cups of water. Let it thicken. Then throw in the rest of the water.
Bring to an easy boil.
Toss in the taters, carrots, and lemon juice.
Season with celery salt, more sea salt if your palate dictates so, and some dried basil

Let that shit simmer while you bake your bread. Don't undercook the potatoes.


Then watch a funny St. Bernard vs. Beagle Mutt puppy video.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

let's get this party started

I ordered this vinyl lettering from an online shop a few weeks ago for 30 bucks. I really don't know if I will get any business from it, but it's easier than putting fliers up around town, and we seem to do a lot of driving anyway, so might as well make our gas do double duty. Now I want to go drive somewhere.

The blog business cards were free with my regular business card order. A lot easier than trying to give people the blog web address verbally.

And hey, I'm up to over 100 page views on average per day! That's probably not really very much, but it makes me feel special. I love you, too.

Blogging outside on a beautiful, sunny November day also makes me feel special.