4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses

4Shoes 'BOOKENDS'; Morgan Horses
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ~Langston Hughes *pictured: '4Shoes Bookends'

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017!

To all our Friends...
Be kind, Be grateful, Be Joyous!
Be SAFE.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Christmas Teasing

Hey Manic... Guess what I heard?
No presents for a Naughty little Min Pin.

You SHUT your Lying Mouth!

See? Naughty.
Ho Ho Ho!

Christmas has gotten too commercial anyways. 
Sure, whatever you need to tell yourself Manic. 

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Manic is a Cougar

You may remember Manic's desperate plea to be rescued from harsh Canadian winter by an Australian with access to kangaroos... well, that never happened & Manic is the only one surprised.

However, Manic's other wish was granted by the very generous & talented knitter, Linda Price. Linda lives in a much warmer place than the Canadian Prairie but, clearly, she is not a sadist as she did not offer Manic a new home*. 
She did, however, answer the call for a clever wool artiste! 
You may not able to tell from the photo, but Manic is extremely glad to have headgear, because her ears are (without exaggeration) paper thin. She'd glare at me for telling, but they sometimes get a little crusty on the edges when she won't come inside, & I'm pretty sure that crust is the start of frostbite. But, you can't tell Manic much. 
I can, however, scold her into 'You Leave that hat ON or Else, dammit"!
Thank You Linda; the hat is adorable. 
Manic, not so much. 
But Manic WEARING the hat? Adorable. 
"Thank You Miss Linda; I'm told that I look 'so sweet' in my new cougar hat. Oftentimes, looking 'so cute' (or some version of that phrase) scores me extra milk bones. Soft, warm ears plus milk bone treats... I'm sold.
I really only shake my head to make Mom freak out; she freaks out pretty easy though, so no big challenge.
Manic Hugs & Kisses Miss Linda, Thank You again!"

*Seriously though, who else in their right mind would want Manic?
The little headcase is a permanent fixture at the 4Shoes. 

Monday, 25 December 2017

Be Merry!

From The 4Shoes to You
May all your Christmas Wishes come true!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Heavens' Barnyard

Spots' spot is hidden behind his wing

Well, the brothers Spot & NoSpot (of All Hell Breaks Loose fame) are now singing in Heavens' Barnyard Choir... Bless their little hearts. 
We owe both of the little escape artists our sincerest gratitude for the wonderful nourishment that they will provide us & our families.

Each year we gift to each of our siblings & their families a box of assorted meats from the farm, & some extras such as a few pounds of snowy white lard & a pint or two of grieven
Have you ever rendered raw fat? It's kind of a kitchen art form. 
This year I am using a crockpot instead of a pot on the stovetop; the process takes longer because the crockpot is smaller, but it heats more evenly than the cooktop so the end product is more guaranteed without having to stand over the pot, stirring for hours. 
Oh please let me find one of these!
If you rush the process, or if you overcook, you may be left with a slight yellow tint to your lard (which may also have the slightest burnt after taste). Not acceptable - especially not for gifting!
After the crackles are set aside, the liquid fat is then carefully sieved through a cloth filter to ensure that no tiny particulates are left to taint the finished product. Yes, it's true that such teensy bits will sink to the bottom of the batch but any sediment at all spoils the pure white perfection of home-rendered lard. I always use clear containers for my lard - admittedly, one of my kitchen vanities.
Have you ever used pure lard for cooking or baking? It cannot be beat for flavour or performance! I sometimes make a butter pastry for sweet pies but, when it comes to meatpies (in my opinion), nothing beats a hot water pastry made with pure, unadulterated pork lard! It is a delicious pastry that just stands up better to a hearty meat & vegetable filling than does a butter pastry (which is a little too delicate & flaky). 
I have always enjoyed Christmas music; I think it's a real shame that we don't hardly hear it played on the radio anymore except for on the 25th, or even in shopping centers! But that, my friends, is a rant for a different day. 
Tonight I am dancing around the kitchen to well-loved tunes as I work; I hope you'll enjoy this oldie but goodie, Jingle Bell Rock from 1957 by Bobby Helms. This was a hit long before I was even born, but I do think this version holds up very nicely. 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Open Gate Policy - NOT

"I just went along with the crowd; you can see that they're a bad influence." claims Fancy.
"I actually tried to talk him out of it. 'Padre, I said, You should not open the cow's gate.' He did it anyway." insists Bella.

"Yeah, I opened the gate. I figured you wouldn't make it so easy if you didn't WANT me to practice my mad break in/break out skills. Y'know, just in case anyone ever rustles us & I have to ingeniously set us free so we can run back to you." bluffs Padre, clearly not giving a hoot whether I buy his story. 

"Besides which, I find it totally unfair that those stupid cows have a round bale to free feed on, while WE (the muscle & the brains on this place!) are forced to wait for our meals to be served only 3 or 4 times a day. I'm practically wasting away here!"

NOW his story has a more familiar ring - envy, greed, & gluttony. Careful Padre, Santa is watching you!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Never Have I Ever...

Come on! 
Please play along with me!!
Play as a blogpost

(Link back to 4SL & let me know so I can add your link to this post!)

Or, if #12, just play along in the comments section.

Never Have I ever...
  1. Jumped up in the middle of my allotted computer time to make a recipe that inspires me. Possibly because, #8.
  2. Raided Mr Shoes' snack stash & picked through his precious damn mixed nuts for a missing recipe ingredient.
  3. Measured salt, over the sink, from the shaker into the spoon, wasting equal or greater amount of salt.
  4. Noticed the coffee pot is empty after I've already poured a
    No, I totally did not steal this image.
    The 4Shoes label is crooked because, #12
     4Shoes Irish Cream recipe coming soon.
    As irrefutable proof.
    I mean, if you doubt me.
    generous lug (or possibly 2) of Irish Cream. 
  5. Made tea in my freshly poured Irish instead - caffeine is caffeine.
  6. Taken a gulp of my Irish tea, only to find it cold, & spit it back into the cup.
  7. Reheat my Irish tea in the microwave, not because it didn't taste perfectly good cold, just because I expected it to be hot. 
  8. Been on my 3rd Irish coffee before 1pm.
  9. In hard times, drink my Irish straight up. 
  10. Invent 'hard times' to justify shots.
  11. Been almost day drunk, by accident. 
  12. Or completely day drunk. On purpose. 
  13. Justified being day drunk as 'Celebrating the Holiday Season'.
  14. Taken, like, 10 minutes to individually colour letters red & green 'because it's festive'. 
  15. 'Celebrated' alone. 
  16. Begged for friend participation online.
  17. Pondered being pathetic.
  18. Decided patently not pathetic, just festive. 
  19. Pondered how much #12 has come into play.
  20. Decided festive is more important, & good friends appreciate each other regardless of #18 or #12.
Totally admit to lifting this one, because it's frigging awesome.
Click to see more jaw-dropping cake art by Kristi. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Creature Comforts

I often enjoy watching the activity around my various bird feeders; I find it very soothing to watch the littlest of God's creatures go on about their daily business, come what may.
Saint & Manic also keep a close eye, though it's clearly not so much enjoyment as it is  outright reconnaissance...
But I've been distracted lately; my family will be lucky to get any kind of gifts for Christmas kind of distracted. 
Yet, amidst all the current emotional turmoil & sad  neglect of my regular tasks, it took a little squirrel this morning to remind me that I cannot just let everything go to hell in a hand basket. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Padre: Cowpony Working

My friend, Sabine (Friendly, Hairy Creatures blog) & I were talking and I was bragging up the cowponying skills of my reg'd Morgan heart horse, Padre. This photo is Padre (Rancher Ray in the saddle) @ calving time on the Coyote Flat Ranch, circa 2006.
Padre still loves to work cattle anytime he gets the chance, & YES, he still looks this good doing it!

photo credit: Lisa Hammel (Padre's Breeder & Trainer), Coyote Flat Ranch

Friday, 1 December 2017

Bleeding Joy

Our nephew, Sandals, has been in a coma now for 91 days; I can't begin to tell you how much more emotionally difficult it is to deal with this extended period of grieving than I have known sudden grief to be.
Had this sweet boy just died on the day that car smashed into him, or sometime in the early days after, we would all be moving (at our own paces of course, but moving) through the stages of grief & coming to grips with loss.


This is completely different. 
Extended grief is more like a wound that will not close...
 Open, raw, & slowly oozing the blood of joy from the soul.
I imagine that anyone who has had a loved one linger on has also felt something like this.


Did you know that some comatose patients open their eyes?
That their eyes will move?
When you pray so hard for it to be true, it can be very easy to convince yourself that open eyes mean seeing. Maybe even comprehension.
That there is some remnant of the person that you love behind those eyes.


But when four separate medical teams in 2 different provinces & three different hospitals tell you clearly & repeatedly that it is not so - that there is no chance of any improvement, let alone recovery...

Yet, his parents are not ready to let him go.
And so we all wait, slowly bleeding joy.

Billie Holiday - I'll Be Seeing You (1944)