Newest Addition Adjusting to Her New Home

On Christmas Day, we brought home our newest addition … an eight-week old Anatolian Shepherd Dog. We did decide to name her Ayi.

Quite a lot of howling and yapping the first few days (normal separation anxiety). We have to keep her safe from the goats, cow, and big dogs until they get used to her … so that means being contained in a safe place in the stable while unattended. Last night she was much better. Only a couple episodes of howling for 20 minutes or so.

The first of our animals to bond with her is Belle. One of the big dogs totally ignores her and went on a hunger strike for two days. Our eldest dog is curious, but probably dreading taking on a new charge with so much energy. He’ll come around. The goats are not yet comfortable with a new dog, and Lucy was furious, literally MAD COW. But she is coming around too. We expected this, but are very pleased with how the new puppy is behaving.

Here was the scene yesterday evening:

Two Bucks is Four Bucks for Christmas

Friends Mike and Jim arrived from Colorado to spend Christmas here on the ranch. So the buck count went up by two for five days. We are back down to two now — they left early this morning to get an early start on a long day of driving toward a southern route over the Sierra at Tehachapi. The northern routes are blocked. This is a risk of Christmas travel, so the plan is Thanksgiving next year!

It was a wet, rainy, cold five days. Perfect for indoor projects and some R&R. Jim knocked out about half the job of insulating the shop in a couple days. Mike slaved in the kitchen over a hot pot of cheese, stretching it into mozzarella. We feasted and laughed on Christmas Eve day — friend Roy was here too. On Christmas Day, we opened gifts. Then Neil and David went to pick up the new puppy. Mike and Jim visited former neighbors and good friends in Chico on Boxing Day.

There was a lot of time for reading, napping, playing pinochle and 42.

Good times with old friends are undoubtedly some of the great gifts of Christmas.

Here are some photos from over the last five days:

Cream Cheese

News headlines cry “cream cheese shortage for the holidays!”

So, what has David been doing? Yep. Making cream cheese. (I’m sure he’d want y’all to know he’s doing a heck of a lot more than making cream cheese … yes, much more)!

Anyway, making cream cheese was quite a process. He started with two gallons of whole milk from Lucy (including the cream). He poured that into a pot and stirred it for at least 30 minutes at 185 degrees. Then he cooled it to 110 degrees (still stirring). (This is when we yearn for one of those Harry Potter magic stirring things). Then he added .25 cups of kefir into seven quart jars, and added the 110-degree milk. Then he incubated the full jars at 110 degrees for 8-12 hours (until contents turned into yogurt). Then he poured the yogurt into a cloth straining bag, and let it hang until it drained — takes eight hours to drain unless the bag clogs — then the bag has to be cleaned to continue draining. Then he lightly salted it and let it drain for 4 more hours.

Voilà! Cream cheese.

Who needs the store! See ya, Kraft!

Here’s what the new cream cheese looked like coming out of the draining cloth … it is GOOOOD! He made about 24 oz of cream cheese from five of those seven quarts of yogurt.

Puppy!

We (and our animals) rely on our Anatolian Shepherd Dogs (ASDs) a lot. Our two boys are middle-aged already and it’s time to bring in the next apprentice/trainee.

Here is what she looks like (haven’t picked name yet):

We drove to Sonoma yesterday to see her. We need to pick her up next week sometime.

We typically pick a Turkish word for a name. This pup seems a bit like a little bear, so we are examining those options.

Christmas Tree Project Slowed by Jury Duty

David lit the tree yesterday but ribbon and ornaments will take a back seat to my Jury Duty. Yesterday I was added to a 4-day jury trial.

The tree is beautiful, even without ornaments (photo below).

Jury Duty is a citizen duty and jury trials are a right. I have been involved in this process before and I think it is a good one. In fact (and I have said this before), I wish our Congressional representatives were selected in a way similar to the way we select juries — lottery of registered voters, followed by a more rigorous selection process (which allows for reasonable excuse through hardship or cause), supported by training and guidance. There would be job safeguards for people to return to their old jobs, appropriate pay and benefits, two-year terms, and a solemn oath to serve constituents and country (the end of parties). Senators could be popularly elected from the growing pool of representatives previously selected by this process, but would be for six-year terms without term limits (elections should be sufficient to find a better rep and ditch a bad one).

So, that is the reform wish I’m going to put under the tree for Christmas this year! Let’s return power to ordinary citizens and take it away from the parties and the money, while reducing the amount of crazy election nonsense.

And here’s the tree (in its first stage of decoration — David’s amazing light work)!

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