Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Overheard: Cleaning the House

Him: You can't be mad at me. I just used the word 'husband.'
Me: What do you mean?
Him: Hey, I didn't invent the word, I just perfected it, baby.

Him: Did you see all this dog hair?
Me: Yeah, and I just sweeped it Sunday!
Him: Sweeped? I don't think you're doing that 'Barrington' education justice.

Me: I'm worried they did something wrong, and we just don't know about it. That's why they're repentant.
Him: Not recumbant?

Monday, October 29, 2007

"We Shall Take Rome!"

Playoff football. Foot. Ball. People.

That one doesn't really work. BUT I got to attend my first high school playoff game (of my life) on Saturday afternoon. These people really take their football seriously. I went to a pre-game party where the moms were all painting their faces, and the brats-on-sticks were just like home. There's a 4' football in the front yard of one house, all the players' names lining the highway going West out of town for about 5 miles, and LOTS of maroon and gold.

Check out this photo to see how seriously we take our cheering here. The band wasn't playing, but there was a DJ downfield blasting music during time outs and between quarters. I yelled so loud I lost my voice for a while.

It was a really close game- unless you were watching the score. The turning point was in the 3rd quarter when a 10 yard kick was downed by our own team, which let us score twice in that quarter. When the kids jumped on the short kick we all looked around at each other and yelled, "Can we DO that?!". We can, and we did.

The game ended with Baker on the winning side of a 29-26 breathtaker. It wasn't until the last 2 minutes of the game did anyone guess who the winner would be. I'm not THAT into football, but this game was awesome.

Next week we play at home again - the party promises to be even bigger!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


We give the dogs the scraps from hunting/carving/cooking game. They've started learning the tell-tale signs of a pre-game feeding. It involves a burning smell and some swearing. They've both developed a really great signal to let us know that they're ready, for, whatever we decide to throw at them.

They make their mouths ready. Their little pink tongues start at one side of their mouths, and lick little licks across their little doggie lips. They do this in unison.

They've started getting their mouths ready whenever they're bored, just so we know that, if necessary, they're ready to eat the meat. Doing laundry? Their mouths are ready. Washing dishes? Ready. Cooking dinner? Constant state of readiness.

FEMA should check this out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

While the Sun Shines

If he's reading, or if someone he knows is reading this, I am truly sorry for how frustrating this must be.

And yet, I still tell the internet about it.

I know someone who was going to go to a volleyball game today in town. I think it's the championship game or something like that (forgive me Lady Spartans). But, he couldn't go. Why? Because his cows broke down a fence and got into the hay yard.

The hay yard is where they keep the hay that they've made all summer until they need it to feed the cows in the winter. There can be anywhere from 300-800 bales of hay all loaded up and stacked on top of each other. It's a cow's Old Country Buffett. For a refresher course on hay bales, click here.

So the cows ended up in the hay yard and... essentially... (Dad, do you know where I'm going with this??) ....


Had a Hay Day.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


When you live with a nurse, and he has to clean up after you throw up in a bucket, he gets really excited when you actually make it into the bucket.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Surprised PETA hasn't Flagged my Blog

Go now and re-read this before continuing...

Okay, seriously, I can't believe I'm doing this. My involvement in the antelope doe was minimal. I sat in the living room distracting myself with YouTube Videos as Stephan cut it into pieces. I did cook two meals with the meat so far, but I managed to do that without actually touching the meat. And I ate it. It was yummy.

So now we have this deer doe. Stephan cut it into pieces last night, but just quarters, not actual cooking pieces. And he put 'dog scraps' in a bag. Oh, and the back straps [stop reading now if the last sentence made you queesy] were in the fridge. This morning I managed to cook the dog scraps in the oven for 2 hours on low, trying to dry it out a little. Stephan wanted the back straps cooked fresh, so the next thing on the list was to clean them and soak them in milk for a few hours.

Ok. No problem. Except he'd left a good deal of skin, really fascial tissue but that's a geek thing. Ok. No problem. Just have to cut the skin off... Just... find a knife... and, with two fingers of one hand...

Actually I'm really proud that I haven't thrown up yet over all this. I did manage to cut the meat off the fascia and put the meat in a bag with milk. It's still there. If you know me, and a lot of you do, did you EVER imagine I'd be skinning fresh ungulates?

And I've been reminded by a few people that out in Baker, there are many women who refuse to be involved in the hunting/skinning/cooking game process. So, it's not that I'm alone in this, it's just that I'm a minority.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FAQ: What do you do when you're not working?

Photo credit: Colon

When one of us is working, and the other one is 'home' most of that day is spent cleaning, fixing, organizing, cleaning, resting.

When both of us are off for a day, watch out Montana! Usually we find some place to drive to, some place to spend quiet moments, to explore, go watch movies (that's a 50 mile drive minimum), read books together, take the dogs out to crazy fun places and let them run around.

Usually we close the day by cooking together, or walking all the way across the train tracks to the Plevna Bar to hang with friends and enjoy a refreshment or two. We're known for putting away Jack Daniels and coke, sometimes Pepsi. The walk home is refreshing and fun. Often we watch Netflix movies, or rent one from the bar (totally reminds me to return The Ice Harvest).

The photo above is of us picking out our Halloween pumpkins right out of a field. After Stephan found his, he said, "hey, where was that little one you liked?" and thus began a 20 minute search for that one that I liked. But the weather has been nice lately- little rain and lots of wind, temps in the mid 50-60's, so exploring is still a lot of fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Opening Day Part 2

photo by Stephan

Colon, Clint, and Stephan left bright and early to bag a doe. And- they did! Stephan took photos with his phone, and when they got back, Colon grabbed the camera so we wouldn't have only artistic shots of the prize. I'm learning quickly how boring 'hunting stories' really are. A little edited:

"We got up at 5am and were at Clint's by 5:30am. Anna was nice enough to get up and make us a little snack which we needed because we ended up at the verge of death. We drove out about 20 minutes Southeast of town to just about the North Dakota border, signed in at the Block Management Box, and went to a place where Clint said he had seen deer. As usual, when the sun came up, before I could see anything, Clint said he saw some deer in the distance, and Colon and I took his word for it. The deer broke across the plain and headed toward antoher road. Clint drove the truck down the road to intercept them. Colon jumped out of the car to set up for a shot, but didn't get it. Luckily, he didn't get one of those, because we later realized they were the wrong type of deer. We didn't have tags for those...

"We drove to a different part of the ranch, spotted a small herd in the distance, jumped into a riverbed to follow them. We came out of the riverbed to find that the small herd had magically disappeared. When we looked up we saw three trees full of sharp-tail grouse. But we didn't have shotguns to shoot them (since we were too lazy to carry them while hunting deer- lesson learned). We spent about 2-1/2 hours hunting birds. I managed to get two sharpies and a Hungarian partridge. Clint got some too. It was getting toward the end of the hunting day, about 1pm, and we knew we probably only had one long stalk left, so we drove to Clint's father's land. We came up on the downwind side of a small butte, stalked across to another, larger butte where we could survey the land, but saw nothing. Luckily Clint had hunted this land before, and knew there were some contours about 1/2 mile South. So we walked down, and as we popped our heads over a small hill we saw two groups of small deer. Colon and Clint came up with a plan, but I just stayed where I was. The next plan included a 100 yard belly crawl across a small draw- Clint had a good view of Colon's jeans dropping down to reveal his butt-crack. What a view!

"Finally, Clint sticks his head up to get a read on the does and they were basically running right toward him. He did two backward summersalts, grabbed the rifle, put it on his shoulder, plugged his left ear, and instructed Colon to take a shot. Which he did. As the two deers bounded over the next hillside, Colon and I weren't sure she was hit. Clint said she was limping. As we came over the hill we saw her smaller companion running solo, so we figured ours was hit. In the tall grass it took us a good 20 minutes to find her. The bullet had entered just behind the front left shoulder and unfortunately, had gone diagnally through the belly cavity through the back. It was a little messy. We field-dressed her, dragged her 1/2 mile to the nearest access point, walked the rest of the 1/2 mile to get thr truck, and now she's hanging in the garage."

Still reading?

I didn't think so.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quick before the Melatonin kicks in...

A trip to Billings yesterday to pick up Colon (we're going with the nick-name to preserve a tinsey bit of anonymity) from the airport. We took a quick tour of Red Lodge again to check out more shopping and amazing vistas. Back in Billings we came across tickets to one of the bigger rodeos in Montana, the "Nile". We watched a little over 2 hours of it, including an opening prayer, bare-back bronc riding, saddle-back bronc riding, calf roping, calf wrestling, and a really interesting event where they put helmets on 3-year-olds, instruct them to hang on tightly, and put the kids on sheep. The sheep run about for a while, until the kid falls off. The crowd goes wild, and the kid gets their photo taken. I didn't know whether to laugh or call a government official.

Today- pumpkins, driving, dogs, dinner, drinking, dancing, discussions, (is there a "d" word for bowling??).

Now- sleeping.

Tomorrow- boys heading out to the shooting range to practise for their big doe/turkey day on Sunday. Photos soon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


8pm in Chicago

Toilet is plugged! Uh oh!
Step 1: Call Dad.
Step 2: Get in car.
Step 3: Drive 5 minutes.
Step 4: Arrive at Wal-Mart purchase plunger.
Step 5: Go home and fix problem.

8pm in Plevna

Toilet is plugged! Oh no!
Step 1: Call Stephan.
Step 2: Walk to neighbor's house.
Step 3: Make funny-but-awkward comment and ask for plunger.
Step 4: Go home and fix problem.
Step 5: Make funny-but-awkward comment and return plunger.

Me: Should I clean it?
Him: Just get the chunks off and dry it off.
Me: Should I disinfect it?? What's the etiquette for something like this?
Him: Anna, it's going back into another toilet, just get the chunks and give it back.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How to Cook Antelope

So far we've made three meals out of it:

1) Marinated overnight, then crock-pot cooked the next night (still dry)
2) Put in chili instead of shreaded beef or pork (VERY good)
3) Stuffed with garlic, covered in Thyme, cooked on low in cream of chicken soup with potatoes and carrots (Excellent!)

I have recipies for jerky and fried steaks. Any other suggestions?

In other, annoying, news Stephan worked until 9pm last night (that's a 15 hour day) and this morning was told he had to work the night shift tonight. Luckily (does that even apply in this situation??) he won't have to double-shift it since someone is working his day-shift tomorrow. He will be back during the day on Wedesday, provided nothing stupid happens tomorrow night.

Grrr. It's like being single again, but someone keeps eating and messing up the kitchen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Summer's Last Gasp

The last few days have been pretty busy. Since the weekend was chuck full of dead animals, this week was devoted mainly to trying to catch up with house work and preparing for visitors! Stephan worked late most days, and I tried to get my 'act' together to present 30 minute yoga lessons to two groups of women.

Stephan spent his two days away from the hospital clinging to the roof by his toe nails putting up the last of the tar paper and flashing before it gets too cold and snowy. He still has a vent cover to install, and we need a tube of Liquid Nails for something, but he's back to work this weekend so those projects will have to wait. Luckily, the ceiling hasn't bled in quite some time (could be due to lack of rain though).

The dogs and cats are all behaving exactly as they should be- cats jumping and scratching, dogs chewing antelope bones and throwing up in the bed.

The weather has been getting colder (30-50F) but still very dry. The wind howls every day between 15-35 mph. The vacuum is still broken. The antelope tail was removed from the car on Tuesday night (but now I don't know where it is).

That's really it- it's nice to have spent a few days just gettin' it done.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

Overheard: In the parking lot


Guy: What is it? What's wrong??

Me: THERE'S AN ANTELOPE TAIL IN THE BACK OF MY CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guy: How did it get there?

Me: STEPHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


As I was growing up, every summer for a while our family would vacation at a fish hatchery/fishing resort. After more than a dozen years of catching seaweed-fish, at 23 years old, I was determined to catch a trout. Up at 6:00am, waiting for the siren to signal time to fish... My first cast I caught one, nice sized. I reeled it up to the shore, then dropped the fishing pole.

I refused to touch the fish. I didn't have gloves on, and I was afraid I was going to hurt it. The hook was still in its mouth, but I freaked out. I started crying. Eventually, the fish flopped its way off the hook, but I still couldn't get near enough to it to throw it back in the water. There was much yelling. Once the fish was back in the stream (and probably caught by someone else later that day) I had to walk past my uncles to go back to bed. They wouldn't even look at me.

I haven't fished since.

Paparazzi NOT Invited (GRAPHIC)

4:15am Stephan wakes up like a kid on Christmas, gets dressed in his new camo gear (thanks to his dad) and heads out the door.

12:30pm Stephan calls to tell me that he's got a Doe. Not a Deer, an antelope. His friend wants to shoot a few birds before they come home, so they stay out for a little while longer.

3:00pm I hear the car pull up, Stephan walks out from the garage, bloody from the knees down. Tired- sweaty- wet- muddy- and full of cow poop. He tells me the antelope (or, 'meat for the winter' as she's being called now) is strapped to the roof of the car. He counsels me NOT to go outside. But I grab the camera, a jacket, and a deep breath before heading out.

I had asked him to make sure he didn't bring home anything that could look at me. Unfortunately, legally, the game warden needs to see if it's a male or female. Deep inhales. It's ok. Focus on logistics. There's a dead animal on the roof of the car- how's it going to get down from there, and WHERE is it going now??

Just in time, Karla and Gary show up, excited to see what the great hunter-gatherer has brought home. Karla distracts me as Gary and Stephan get it down, and hang it up in the garage (something about cooling it off and draining fluid). The garage door is closed before I can look at it again. One photo, just of a hoof hanging over the windshield. I don't think I'm going to post it. Thinking about this for a while I'm finally okay with hunting for a few reasons:

1. It's MUCH cheaper than buying meat at the grocery store all winter.
2. We're going to be using everything, not wasting parts.
3. We know that, up until the moment she died, she ate fresh grass, hay and alfalfa, she ran around the plains, she was free. No cages, no overcrowded pens, no eating the mash made of other animals. Ew.
4. We both thanked the doe, and for the first time, I am truly grateful for the animals who give up their lives.

Being closer to the "animal = food" process has made me much more respectful of what I eat. Having a large hoofed animal hanging in my garage does make me nauseous, and trying to explain why to people who live here just takes way to long.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sausage Supper is FINALLY here!!!!

I've posted the full set of photos from the night of sausage making on the Flickr site. There's too many photos to put them all here. Here is the text, and trust me, the photos are well worth clicking on the link. WARNING: PHOTOS MAY OFFEND SOME PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIKE MEAT. DON'T CLICK IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO RAW PORK PRODUCTS.

Making 2,500lbs of sausage in one night - from cutting the meat to grinding, flavoring, stuffing, and smokin'...

Stephan and friends took out veins, glands, hair, etc. from the pork shoulders, being careful to leave in as much yummy fat as possible...

One plastic tub holds 80lbs of pork...

Each tub on the left is 80lbs of pork. Each tub on the right is 20lbs of beef. What you see here is 800lbs of would-be sausage...

All that meat gets ground by this one grinder, by this one man. Thankfully, it's electric. Can't hand-crank 2,500lbs of meat!

Totally reminds me of the Play-Doh "Fun Factory"...

What I can't show you is the little man with the white hair who holds the secret recipe for the seasoning. He makes it by the tub-full and sloshes it into this mixer (a 100lb mixer). The ground meat mixes here for about 10 minutes before moving on...

This is a store bought sausage stuffer (it later crapped out on us). It holds 100lbs of sausage at a time in the tank. It has a water tank, water pump, and the metal cylander is really just a big piston. When the water pressure builds up, it forces the sausage mixture out through the tube and into the sausage casing (pig gut). When all the machines crapped out, it was up to the rookie (aka Stephan) to hand-crank out the last 180lbs of sausage...

As the casing is being filled it's easiest to roll the sausage into a coil before cutting it into smaller links. If you look down the table you can see someone untangling some pig gut to load onto another stuffer...

Here's Anna cutting the sausage into more-or-less uniform lengths. Since most of them were less uniform, she changed jobs soon after this photo...

With all this raw meat flying around, some of it happened to land on the grill. Sausage patties and links- MMMMMM...

We smoke about 1/2 the sausage at a time on Friday, with the high school kids helping to rotate the batches...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Delicious Dish

I recently went to a Soup and Salad Luncheon. It was very well attended, and it was actually REALLY nice to go somewhere are know a lot of people. The food was out of this world. The long line was well worth it. I ate way too much, and got to try a few foods that I'd never even heard of.

Here's the interesting part. Salad... no lettuce was in the building that day. Salad = mayonaise. Or Cool-whip. Or Italian dressing. Now, don't get offended if you live here, I've spoken to the organizers and they told me that usually there is at least one salad with lettuce- usually a Taco Salad.

Today's lesson: Salad does not = lettuce. Maybe that's why the last time I made "That Damn Salad," no one ate it.

Monday, October 1, 2007


(Souvenir is NOT an English word. How would YOU spell it??)

Mom sent us two religious medals from Santa Fe, which we received in the mail today, St. Anne and St. Stephen. We read all about them on the enclosed cards.

Then we got home, to find that one of the dogs had also left us a souvenir: it seems that a long day of stick chewing and office-paper gnawing culminated in an eruption of stomach acid and wood pulp IN OUR BED. It soaked through the throw blanket, the comforter, and the bed sheets to stain our mattress. As we were blotting dry the puke-strained mattress Stephan asked in his best bedroom voice, "Feeling frisky yet?"

On our part, there was much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth. As Stephan trudged out to the garage to find more blankets he yelled over his shoulder, "Call your mom and ask her who the patron saint of puking dogs is!"

Mom, who is the patron saint of puking dogs?