Monday, December 13, 2010

Escapees on Sunday

Sunday's clear morning turned into overcast and gloom before noon - not that I'm complaining, as the temps at least nudged up out of the negative numbers once the clouds moved in. With the thermometer still hovering around -3' at 9am, my morning's planned outing - to go observe C's science fair project (something to do with resting and active heart rates in horses) research in progress was on hold. Even with the prospect of a heated arena to use at the end of the trip, no one was really that enthused about trailering the 12 miles over to the trainer's for a non-emergency.

So I decided to be productive and start my Christmas baking - five loaves of fruit cake (not my favorite thing, but my dad and a couple of other family members request it every year) with properly whiskey-soaked fruit. I'm late, so it won't get its full three weeks of post-baking liquor-drenching before mailing, but it's done. It's different every year, since I never remember exactly what I added to the batter the year before. This year I'm trying jalapeno jelly instead of the peach/apple/apricot/cherry I've used in past years. The batter raw was tasty, so hopefully the finished product will be likewise.

While that was in the oven I contested with the cats for the Christmas wrap. They finally were satisfied with their own piece to pounce on and punch full of claw prints. Silly critters!

Then I tackled two batches of fudge, one with a cup of Andes Candies mint pieces for flavor, and one with a half bag of Heath English Toffee bits; neither with nuts, because I used all of those up in the fruit cake. I use Carnation's fudge recipe and have yet to have any issues with graininess or failure to set, even when I experiment with random additions like the Andes Candy bits. Taste testing says the Andies Candies were a definite hit. I don't like toffee, so I'm not thrilled with the other batch, but T gave it two thumbs up (and had to be threatened with losing a few fingers to keep him out of the pan, so I think he did actually like it - LOL!).

I was just starting to bundle up for the afternoon's horse-checking expedition when the phone rang - it was J, the farm owner letting me know that she'd penned all the horses in the lot except the one on the wrong side (!) of the fence. The neighbor's cows had apparently pushed their way into the east horse pasture trying to escape Saturday's wind, and she didn't want the horses getting in the way of the removal efforts. Sigh...

I plated some fudge for her, then headed out to see what the damage was. Thankfully, other than Thunder, who was indeed completely on the wrong side of the fence, and the other four miffed ponies who wanted out of the lot and back at the hay bale post haste, all was well. The cows were back where they belonged already, Thunder was happy to be reunited with the other four and had only a small scuff mark from being driven over the feeder (green paint on his back hooves gave that exit route away). I rearranged the gates to hopefully discourage further escapes and let them all back out. T'll check them again tonight, but I think now that the weather's calmed down and the panels are secured differently, they should stay where they're supposed to.

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