Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Goats?? (Our revised plan.)

We were (already!) getting really tired of listening to goats. It was a little bit funny, because the goats got hoarse voices from complaining so much. But mostly it was just obnoxious. (Even J thought it was obnoxious, and usually I'm like "J, this noise is awful!" and he says, "I kind of like it. You know, it's just the sounds of a farm. It's kind of relaxing.")

And then there was this...the doeling has been sitting on one side of the fence, and her mama has been sitting on the other side of the fence. Occasionally she stands up to look over the fence. Sometimes they make distressed cries for each other.

[Mama by the fence...]

[Feta screaming at the door, by the Comcast internet cable which they have pulled down, and doeling by the fence, where her mama is on the other side. Feta made a rotten babysitter.]

The mama goat hates being milked, too. Goats normally like to be milked, because they don't think of it as being milked, they just think of it as being fed good stuff, and it's kind of nice that we relieve the pressure in their udder while we're sharing such good food. Each time we milk the mama goat we have to corner her, or trick her into coming for grain so that we can catch her. Then we drag her across the yard, pick her up and put her onto the milking stand, make her actually stand up, and we only get about 2 cups of milk each time we milk her, and she doesn't eat much grain, so it isn't fun for her. So for that it just really isn't worth all the trouble.

Plus, now that I've spent some quality time with the mama goat, I've gotten to know her a little better. I'm realizing the people we bought her from took awful care of her. Basically, I think they just didn't take care of her. When we got her up on the milk stand we realized her feet are a mess. You're supposed to clip goat hooves every couple weeks or so, but I would guess that she never had her hooves clipped at all. They are all torn and misshapen, and they've grown really messed up. Plus, she is missing some of her front teeth. Poor goat!

We have bad goats.

So, what to do? J and I have been talking about just spending the money to get good goats. Good goats mean more milk, a more pleasant milking experience, and then when we breed them, more good goats (which will sell for more money, too).

After listening to our goats complain so much, and rationing our precious milk that we've been able to get, we think it's time. So today my assignment was to find a good goat, and just buy it. And then, we can sell the mama goat and keep the baby, or whatever.

So, I looked online and found some good goats for sale. I talked to the owner for a little while; she was selling her whole herd because she is moving. So, these were not her rejects, which is a good thing. I ended up buying three Nubian goats! They are:

"Sunday" who is 3 years old, and she's had triplets the past two years. She gives 8 cups of milk each time you milk her and she has awesome teats, which makes her a really amazing dairy goat. Her head looks Nubian and her body has a lot of white (not normally a Nubian thing), so I don't really know what the deal is there, but she's supposedly full Nubian.

Sunday is very friendly, and after you milk her she won't get off the milk stand until you give her some kisses. Sunday was actually raised indoors, as a pet, kind of like a dog. The people kept her as long as they could, and then she got to be too big. One time they got a call from a neighbor, "Your goat is on my counter eating my bananas!" She just went through the neighbor's dog door. Oops. The only other thing is, the people who raised her taught their kids to pull her ears if she knocked them over. So she doesn't like her ears touched, and she isn't good around kids without supervision. (The lady said, "But, what I've found is that if one of your kids wants to go visit her, you can give them a spray bottle, and if she tries to stand up on them have them spray her and she will leave them alone.") Sunday is great.

"Claire" who had her first kids in December. If you let her hang out with her kid, the kid doesn't nurse much anymore, and she still gives 4 cups of milk each time you milk her. The funny thing about Claire is, she's a papered goat (fancy) and...she is from the same farm that Caroline came from! I thought that was funny. So there's this lady who lives up in northern Utah, and we've bought two of her goats...from other people! Supposedly she likes to keep track of her goats, though, so the lady I was buying from gave me the other lady's phone number, and I'm supposed to call her any time I have questions. She runs the 4H stuff up in her area, and she judges in goat shows, and so forth. Funny, eh? So, Claire is a really nice goat. She looks like Nubians are supposed to, but she is pretty skinny. She just never put weight back on after her pregnancy. A vet checked her out and she's okay, though. She just needs to keep eating good stuff and she will be fine to breed again later this year.

"Star" who was born in December. She is Claire's daughter. Claire was pregnant with Star when the people bought Claire, so we can register Star and she will be a papered goat too! Star is very friendly. She still follows her mom around a lot--when we put Claire into the crate in the back of the truck after I bought them all, Star followed Claire and wanted in too. When I go outside, Star forgets all about her mom and follows me instead. It's really cute. For a doeling, she has very good teats, so she looks like she will be a promising milker. She will be old enough to breed in December too.
[Star, Claire, and Sunday]

Anyway, it is exciting to finally have some good goats. Now we will have enough milk to drink, and enough milk for cheese and cream. Maybe even enough for butter. And milking will be pleasant, because these goats willingly come to the milk stand and they like to be milked.

Also, it turns out I like to milk them. I thought it would be fine, but it actually feels pretty fantastic. I get that same excitement that I felt when I picked up the meat from our cow. We're being self-sufficient! I am pretty good at milking, too. There's a little bit of a trick to it, but I got the hang of it right away.

So, I talked to the people today about our mama goat. I told her maybe we should just sell her; she isn't producing much, and she's not very good, etc. They suggested it could be because this is her first year. They said she will probably do better next year. They said maybe we should let the doeling be back with her mama, and milk the mama goat once a day (to make up for the buckling that we left behind), and then try again next year. J and I talked about it and we think she may be just really stressed, too, and that could be part of why she's having problems (with her attitude and her production).

SO, we reunited our herd. Now we have eight happy goats in one happy herd. Or, three happy herds, actually, since Feta and Caroline hang out together, the mama and doeling hang out together, and the three from today hang out together. (Bucko just goes around flirting with all the girls, and the cow likes everybody.) Now, we will sell Bucko (so that he doesn't get anybody pregnant next month when breeding season starts), and we may sell Feta (since who knows whether she will get pregnant or not, and we don't want goats with horns), and then later in the year we will probably get a good, papered buck, and produce a bunch of fancy, papered kids. In the meanwhile, I don't have to listen to goats complain, except when they complain because they want to be milked--NOW, please!

We are still waiting for Caroline to kid. She faked us out yesterday by moaning for hours, and rolling around, and scratching at the ground, and laying down and standing up and laying down and standing up, etc, but then in the evening she stopped the whole charade and started wondering why we were off in this area away from everyone else?? so this morning I released her from the special birthing area. Maybe she'll just stay pregnant. Hopefully not. (And, I don't think that happens.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Goat drama.

Yesterday we drove all the way down to Payson to pick up a couple more goats.

Our goat Caroline is about to kid (she IS pregnant after all!) so J has been trying to find another doe in milk so that we will be able to milk two goats instead of just Caroline. There's a little bit of a process to milking (cleaning supplies, etc) so milking two goats doesn't take much longer than milking one. And you get twice as much milk.

J finally found this place that had three Nubian does in milk. One had two kids, another had one kid, and the third one had a kid that had died. The one with two kids looked the most Nubian, so we bought her.

Our original idea was to separate the mamas from their babies at night, and milk the does in the morning, and then let the kids be with their mamas during the day instead of us milking at night. So everyone would get milk and we would all be happy. Right?


We were only going to need one kid for our plan to work, so we bought the mama with her doeling, and left her buckling with the original herd. (The babies are big enough that they can be separated from mama now; they were actually all listed for sale separately.) There was no reason for us to pay for a buck that we don't need or want. And, if we did buy him, pretty soon we would need to separate him from the herd anyway because he would start trying to breed his mother and his sister. We don't want to be inbreeding here.

So, we took everyone home and the mama goat hollered and hollered all day yesterday. She was missing her buckling. Oh, good grief. We separated Bucko from the herd, too, because we didn't want him to breed the mama goat, and he hollered and hollered all day too.

The other problem was, these people that we bought the goats from didn't actually milk their milk goats. They used to before, but they hadn't in a while because they're busy people. So their goats (except the older ones) were all afraid of people. Not the best.

Today we caught the mama goat and put her on the milk stand, not to milk her but just to let her realize that she can have GRAIN (!!!) on the milk stand. We didn't let her doeling follow her to the milkstand, and they both totally freaked out to be 15 feet apart. So, separating them every night is going to mean that they will holler and holler every night. It isn't going to work. We have neighbors.

Better that they just forget about each other and the mama goat becomes a milk goat instead of being with the doeling. (Like she is supposed to be.) And then, we can bottle feed the doeling until she is weaned the rest of the way, and then she will be friendly with people instead of terrified of them (like she and her mama are now). Milk goats are supposed to be friendly with people.

So, today we let Bucko back into the herd (breeding season doesn't start for a month anyway), and I caught the doeling (much harder than it sounds), I stole her away from her mama and the herd, and put her in Chalcy's backyard (which has a 6' fence). We put Feta in with her so that she isn't alone. Goats are herd animals, so they don't do well alone. Now everyone at our house is very concerned. Feta does NOT want to be over there with the doeling (and without her herd) so she keeps screaming. The doeling wants to be following her mama around so she keeps crying. The mama goat is very concerned about her lost babies so she keep calling to the doeling from the other side of the fence. Caroline should be kidding any time now, but she is not too worried about the new goat commotion because she was with Feta before, and now she is with Bucko, so, no big deal.

Hopefully everyone will calm down in a day or so. We will try to milk the mama goat tonight, and then we will try to bottle feed the doeling too. When Caroline kids we will put her kid(s) with the doeling, and then maybe Feta can go back to the rest of the herd and everyone will feel better.

Any suggestions for names? So far we've thought of Polly and Penny. Or, Betsey. Right now they are "the mama goat" and "the doeling". We need to come up with names.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Chalcy turned one year old on Cinco de Mayo! I realized, we brought her home a year ago on June 15th. A year ago today, I took this picture:

Now here's one of her with J, from a few days ago:

We like Chalcy. She's pretty good, except when people come over. We're working on that.

For Chalcy's first birthday, we bought her a Big Girl Bed, which she really likes. Periodically we've done trials to see how she will do if we leave her out of her kennel at night, and she has usually failed. Months ago she chewed a bare spot into our bedroom carpet when we tried to let her sleep in our room. A few weeks after that we tried to let her sleep in her room (aka. the guest bedroom) without closing her kennel, because it has fake-wood floor instead of carpet. She chewed the edge of trim around the window. So, even though she is kind of too big for her kennel, she kept having to sleep in it anyway. Lately, we've tried letting her sleep in her room on her Big Girl Bed and it works. She does just fine! So we tried letting her have access to the whole house at night. That works a little less well, because she will come stand outside our door, and just stay there. Her favorite place to sleep is on the floor by my side of the bed. When I get up, I have to watch out or I'll step on her. During the day she sleeps there a lot too.

Chalcy is almost always silent, which is nice, because I don't really care for barky dogs. She does alert us when she sees a strange object or hears an unusual noise. There have been a few times where she's started barking in the middle of the night. We always help her investigate, until she is satisfied that everything is okay. Otherwise she'll keep barking for quite a while. When she does bark, she is very loud. This last weekend, our city had "Country Days," which is the annual city festival thing here. As we were falling asleep, we could hear the country music from a few blocks away. That was fine. After that was all over they started doing fireworks. Fireworks make a loud "BOOM" sound, and it concerned Chalcy. She started barking and barking from her room. So, we brought her into our bedroom and opened the blinds, and showed her that the fireworks were the cause of the noise. She stopped barking right away, and we all sat there and watched the entire firework show from our bedroom window. Chalcy was fascinated.

Chalcy still knows tricks. She is still good at all of her puppy preschool stuff, usually. We've taught her a few other tricks too:
  1. J taught Chalcy "Back!" which means "You're too close, scoot back." Chalcy has a different concept of personal space, so it isn't unusual for her to come up and lean against us or put her face right up close to our faces while we're sitting down (because we're her height!), etc. "Back!" has been a fantastic trick because Chalcy gets so excited when people come over that sometimes she's a little too friendly. We tell guests they can tell her "Back!" and she'll scoot away, and they try it out, and it works, and it makes them feel a lot more comfortable to know she will leave them alone if they want her to. It is also a good way to remind her that she is not allowed to be near us when we're eating.
  2. For Jessica's birthday I taught Chalcy "Giddy up!" which means, "Come through my legs so that I'm standing over you like I'm riding a horse." Every time Jess would come over, she would always try to stand over Chalcy, because it kind of looks like you're riding a horse. Chalcy always backs up, though, instead of just standing there. So I taught her this trick because I thought it would be funny. And it is.
  3. Chalcy knows "Jump!" which means, "Jump!" This is pretty impressive and amusing, because she is massive and she'll jump up (not just forward) and get her back legs off the ground too.
  4. We taught Chalcy "Speak!" which means "Bark!" Since Chalcy is so quiet, it is my secret hope that if we wanted her to defend our house, I could motion to her to bark without the invaders noticing me, and then she would look fierce. Actually, though, an invasion would most likely be pretty unusual and it would be enough to get her barking anyway. Chalcy was surprised and a little confused when I taught her this trick, because we also taught her "Quiet!" because she used to bark if she wanted to come inside, or if she wanted to come out of her kennel because people were over. Now she just stands by the door when she wants in or out. So learning "Speak!" was kind of like teaching a kid to eat cupcakes on command, or something. (REALLY? You really want me to?)
Those are the extra ones (in addition to sit, wait, watch me, drop it, leave it, lay down, come, etc.) Most of them go along with hand signals, because she learns hand signals faster.

Chalcy also knows some "tricks" that are not really tricks.
  1. We discovered this one when my brother was over last week. If you pat your lap, Chalcy will come put her head in your lap, where you pat. That's how I usually tell her she can cuddle with me that way. I didn't realize it was a trick, though, until I was demonstrating to Jason how to get her to put her head in his lap and she came across the room to put her head in my lap instead, because I'd just pat my lap. It seemed impressive. Then the next time Jess came over she wanted to see that trick. Uh, she's always done that. It isn't a trick. But it kind of is.
  2. Chalcy is polite about being fed. It started because I didn't want her to rush me when I fed her, back when she was a puppy. Here's how it works: I fill her food dish, and put it where it goes. I tell Chalcy to sit, and she does. I tell her to wait. I go fill her water dish, and put it where it goes. Sometimes I'll make her "wait" a little longer, and then I tell her "Okay" and she'll go eat her food. It's a pretty strict routine now, so I don't even really have to tell her what to do. I bring food out, she sits down. I get water, she waits, and she'll only approach her food after I give her permission. It's nice.
  3. Chalcy goes into her kennel very readily. This isn't an exciting trick either, but it is useful. Our main command is "Kennel up!" and that means "Please get in your kennel, and if I don't look angry you are not in trouble and you will get treats for getting in your kennel" or it means "You are in big big trouble because you did something you knew was wrong, and the only way that I will be happy with you is if you go into your kennel, RIGHT NOW. No treats." She always kennels up, immediately. Very good. There are also a lot of other things that mean "Kennel up"--"Time for bed!" and "Back to bed!" and "Sorry!" all mean to kennel up. Plus, if I put my shoes on and pick up my purse, Chalcy will go get in her kennel, because she always has to be in there when I leave (and I'll give her treats).
Chalcy still loves Paley. When we go into the hall outside and Paley is there, Chalcy wag wag wags her tail and puts her mouth on Paley, or licks her. Paley rubs up against Chalcy, too. But, if I call Chalcy to come inside, or go outside, she'll still obey. So that's just fine.

Chalcy loves toys. Any toy we give her is the Very Best Thing she's EVER seen in her Entire Life (!!!!!). It's really cute. She tears stuffed toys apart really quickly though, even "durable" ones, so she doesn't get many of those anymore. Chalcy also loves tug games and fetch games and play-rough games, and basically any game you can think of. She also likes sticks and bones.

Chalcy loves people. All of them. She wants to be near us all the time. And preferably, very close. She is very affectionate. Also with our guests.

Chalcy likes dogs. Especially little ones because puppy preschool had puppies in it, and they were her friends, and I don't think she realizes they grew up too. Big dogs are more intimidating, but Chalcy is not aggressive at all; it just takes a little time for her to warm up. When dogs bark at her she looks at them, but she doesn't bark back. This makes me proud of her when we go on walks, or to the dog park.

Chalcy loves chickens. They squeak and have feathers that fluffle all over, they flop around really cool when you shake them in your mouth, and they run on their own--until they stop. We raised a few sets of chicks inside, and that helped Chalcy realize that we do NOT put our mouths on chickens. EVER. Except, when we're outside with her, occasionally she forgets and starts chasing a chicken until we remind her not to, so now she just doesn't get to be where chickens are unless she is under close supervision.

Our puppy is probably pretty close to full size now, and I'm looking forward to her rabies booster shot this summer (who looks forward to that??), because when we visit the vet we can find out how much she weighs. Can you imagine if she were to continue growing at the same rate next year too?? She won't.

Anyway! We like our dog. That's all.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Best Father's Day Ever!

A couple weeks ago I had a really excellent idea. What if I had my primary class (ages 8-9) decorate ties for their fathers? The kids would have a ton of fun decorating ties, the dads would receive a cool gift that they would treasure forever, and I would have the joy and amusement of watching several of the men in our congregation wear ties that my class designed. Win-win-win!

I checked to see if Father's Day was one of my weeks to teach (because I alternate with another teacher) and it was! So I ordered a bunch of white ties online, I bought some fabric markers, and got some cheap gift bags. Today all of my kids were there except one. We had a shorter than average lesson (about Jesus being The Good Shepherd, and what shepherds are, and why Jesus is like our shepherd, and why we should follow his voice because he will lead us) and then I announced our activity. The kids were so excited! I told them they don't get another tie if they mess up, so they each had to draw (on paper) a practice version of what they were going to do. I approved each design, and handed out ties, and let them start coloring.

We ended up with a wide variety of designs. (If the picture is too small, click on it so that you can see it bigger.)

From left to right:
1) Her dad's name spelled out as an acrostic: Excelent. Dad. Wonderful. Awesome. Ridiculous. Dude. There was space left over, so she repeated the whole thing. There was still space left over so she wrote YOUR THE BEST DAD EVER! (Looks great!)
2) Stars all over the top of it, and then she wrote The Best Dad in the world! Then she drew a random shape and colored it at the bottom. (He's going to love it!)
3) He wrote The Best Dad In The world and then drew a big BYU logo and a big Green Bay logo. The bottom of the tie has a whole bunch of BYU and Green Bay logos. (Wow, that looks really good!)
4) A bold zigzag-type pattern in blue, red, and purple. It looks pretty cool because the colors blend together just a little bit. (Nice!)
5) She drew a whole bunch of light green stripes, really close together. Her dad likes stripes, she said. In the middle the tie says Your the Best dad in the world. She kind of ran out of space a little for the end of "world" so it is on the next line. On hers the stripes cover the skinny part of the tie that tucks in back, too. (Good job!)
6) Another striped tie, with #1 Dad in the middle. Her dad likes green. She was kind of worried because the stripes were not all perfectly parallel. I told her it looks really good. It came out great. (Wow!)
7) She made a diamond pattern and then colored in all of the diamonds with the colors all mixed up. (She finished after I took the picture, while I was helping the other kids put theirs in gift bags.) On each of the diamonds she wrote a letter "D". Her dad's initials are C.R. "D" is for "Dad." (I bet your dad is going to really like that. It's so colorful!)

"You guys, your ties all look REALLY GOOD, so you should tell your dads to wear them." (One girl said, "Yeah, they can wear them next week!" "That's a great idea!")

So anyway, it was kind of silly, but I bet their dads will be really surprised. They'll have the perfect tie to wear for every future Father's Day, and hopefully some times in between.

Friday, June 10, 2011

California, again! (part 2)

On Monday we went to a park!

We had been planning to go to the beach again, but my sister Steph is in a walking cast right now and the beach wasn't going to be very fun for her. So instead, we went to a park near her house. Steph brought her boyfriend and their new pug puppy ("Pippi"), plus my brothers. My mom came (with melon! and games!), and eventually my dad showed up too.

It was a pretty cool park, especially for like, 5 year-old kids. It had lots of exiting play equipment, and a water park--all out in the open and free. There were also basketball courts (which my teenage brothers enjoyed) and covered picnic tables (which the grown-ups enjoyed).

The weather was absolutely perfect. J and I mostly just sat at the picnic tables, playing with the puppy and chatting with my sister. After Mom showed up, we played a few games of Rummikub. When my dad got there, he brought a bunch of little water guns and secretly handed them out to everyone. After that, there were little water fights going on, especially among all the boys. At one point, my dad went up to this 8 or 9 year-old kid who was also at the park, because he had a supersoaker, and Dad said he would give him 50 cents if he would soak my brother. That was pretty funny, because then my brother ran like crazy, and this kid we didn't know was chasing him.

After that, we went over to Steph and her boyfriend's house. We watched the second half of Dirty Dancing, because it was on TV and my mom loves that movie. I don't know that I'd ever watched anything in HD before. It was incredible! It made the movie look like something that was filmed on a regular camera or something. We ordered pizza, and just hung out for a while. J took a nap with the puppy.

That evening, J and I drove down to San Diego to find a hotel for the night, because we had an appointment with Garin to go across to Mexico at 9 am. We stayed at the Best Western Seven Seas, which seemed extremely fancy and modern compared to the Vegas Chalet Motel. The only thing was, the room was kind of small and crowded, and one of the main walls was entirely mirrored. Mirrors would normally make a room seem larger, but since it was reflecting VERY busy stripes on the drapes and a VERY busy pattern on the bedspread, the mirror made the room seem really overwhelming. It didn't matter too much, though, because we basically collapsed on the bed and slept until we absolutely had to get up, and left in a rush.

On Tuesday, we met Garin as planned. (Garin is always very punctual.) We went across the border. We met up with our driver, another one of Dr. Llamas' sons. (The other son, Andrew, who picked us up last time, is now in medical school!) He drove us straight to the clinic, which is in the same place it was last time. J and I met with Dr. Llamas together again, like last time. This time we talked with the doctor about the improvements that J has seen from his worms. Dr. Llamas asked a bunch of questions and took some notes. They were deciding between giving J 10 or 15 more worms. (Ultimately they decided to do 15 more.) Then he went through my interview responses and lab test results, and we talked about my medical history, but I don't really have much of a medical history. We went through the consent forms, and so forth.

Then, we went into the other room to get our worms! I got mine first. J made a video for me, and took some pictures. It took 3 minutes and 45 seconds for me to start feeling the worms. It was so itchy. I really wanted to scratch my arm, but you're not supposed to, so I didn't. I guess that was my main reaction--I was surprised by how itchy it felt when they were going through. (It was still itchy even a few days after I had gotten them.)

When J got his worms it took 4 minutes and 2 seconds for him to start feeling them. He said it felt just like it did last time. No big deal.

So, we waited for a little while, because they always have you do that just to be sure you don't have a bad response (but nobody ever does). And then, they checked the information on lines for going back across the border, and this time it was going to be faster to go across by foot. The doctor's son drove us to the line, and we waited for a little while and eventually got through the line, and we walked back to our cars.

We went out to lunch with Garin, because it was about lunchtime. J and Garin have some common interests, so we enjoy spending time with Garin. He is great for conversation.

After lunch, we drove back up to my grandparents' house. We were exhausted from the drive. I talked to my grandparents for a while again that evening. The caregiver let me feed my grandma her dinner.

Then, Wednesday morning I took some more pictures of my grandparents' house, so that I will be able to remember it. I will really miss going there. We met up with my dad to visit with him for 20 minutes or something. And then, we got in the car and drove up to Utah. (Oh, but we did stop at a Trader Joe's for French Truffles, just on our way out of town.)

The End.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

California, again! (part I)

We drove back down to California for Memorial Day weekend. We left Utah on Saturday and came back on Wednesday.

Saturday night we stayed in a totally run down Vegas motel. On accident. I picked it using Google Maps on my phone. Basically we kept calling places and they were completely booked (ohhh, of course, people go to Vegas for the long weekend). And then I called this place and they had a vacancy! Okaywe'lltakeit!

We showed up at the Vegas Chalet Motel and the lobby was locked. They had to buzz us in. Well, that's ok. Signs everywhere: no visitors after 9 pm. We payed for our cheap motel, and as we walked up the stairs to our room, we heard sirens drive past. Hmm. When I flipped the light switch, nothing happened. Hmmm. Eventually we figured out how to have the light switch match up with the bedside lamps. The room looked like something maybe from the 60's. I'm serious. Old, mostly-matching furniture. There was a chair blocking a door, and it had this big tear in the fabric. The carpet was really worn out and had lumps in it. The sink was chipped. The artwork was old. Basically, it was just a really old room. Everything seemed quite clean; the bathroom wasn't gross or anything. (The shower head was even kind of fancy.)

We were happy to not be sleeping in our car.

In the morning I was talking to J about how seriously run down the place was. He said, "But if you think about it, it would have been really hard for anyone to prepare a place this nice for even a king, traveling a thousand years ago." "Well. That's true." So after that we kept joking about how fancy it was, as if we were royalty visiting 1000 years ago. ("What is this?! Water? Coming from the wall! Remarkable!" Because, of course, nobody had hot showers a thousand years ago.) So, we had a lot of fun with our old run-down motel. And then there were sirens in the morning, too. The front desk buzzed me in, I checked us out, and we continued on our way to California.

When we got to California, we weren't really sure what to do! It was early afternoon. So, we decided to go to the beach. It was so sunny and nice...but then we got to the beach and it still sunny, but not nice at all--it was windy. We changed into our swimsuits anyway, and when we stepped from our changing stalls outside, we realized that the wind made it really cold. No big deal! I put on my sweatshirt and J put on his coat. As we walked toward the coast, we were pelted with millions of airborne particles of sand. (Imagine a money booth filled with sewing pins instead of money, and that's basically what it was.)

Maybe the wind would die down, though, we hoped. Maybe when we put our towels down and sat down, closer to the ground there would be less wind and it would be better. As we tried to put our towels down, they flew like flags instead. They were hard to hang onto. Eventually we got them down, and we sat on them so they couldn't fly away. (It was partly how we got them on the ground to begin with.)

We sat next to each other and the wind was coming from J's side, so things were a little bit better (for me!). But actually, they weren't. We tried to rest, but it was really uncomfortable to keep having sand blown at us. I pulled my hood closed better so that I didn't get as much sand on my face. J covered his head with his coat. We stayed there for ten minutes or something, "enjoying" the beach. Then J decided he wanted to go in the water. He put his coat back on, and I held his towel and our flip-flops so they wouldn't fly away when he got up. J walked along the beach, getting his feet wet for several minutes. By the time he came back I felt like I had enjoyed the beach as much as I wanted to. J had too. We decided to leave, and realized that in the time that he was down in the water, his towel had been buried in sand. Just from the wind. So, that was kind of funny.

We left the beach and went out to meet up with my best friend from high school, Erin, and her husband and kids. We had dinner with them, and visited for a while. It was a lot of fun because we hadn't seen them since our wedding.

We went to my grandparents' house that night. One of the reasons we wanted to go to California this time was because I wanted to visit my grandparents at their house one last time. My grandparents are both pretty old, and they have nurses at their house all the time now, so my mom's family decided it is time to move them to a place where they can get better care, or, rather, cheaper care that's good enough. In Utah, their money is going to go a lot farther, so they're making my grandparents move. It's kind of sad. (It will be nice to be able to see them more often, anyway. They're moving up this weekend.)

We talked with them for a couple hours that night. J thought I should share memories that I have with them, instead of just talking about our life up here. So I did. They loved it. I have a lot of memories with them. We used to visit their house about every other weekend when I was growing up. A lot of times I spent the night. Grandma would do crafts with us, and we would go on walks, and we would cook and bake together. Grandma used to always come to our friend birthday parties. Sometimes I "helped" Grandpa at his nursery, which mostly involved playing, getting bored, and then not wanting to do things like fill pots with dirt, but doing it a little bit anyway, and then wondering loudly and repeatedly when we were going home. Sometimes he'd let me choose a plant to keep (like, a pansy or something) and it seemed really exciting and like it was a big deal. We talked to them about their memories a little bit, too. They've been living in their house for 40 years. That's a long time.

Anyway, after a couple hours, we were all pretty tired, so J and I brought things in and stayed the night there.

Those were the first couple days of our trip!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Learn About Steaks: Rib Steak!

Among our cow meat, we have ribs, and then we also have rib steaks. What are those? I waited to cook them because I wasn't sure. I had heard of rib eye steaks...but rib steaks? Maybe they just shortened it on my packages because they could only put a certain number of letters?

Nope, they're a real thing.

The 'rib section' of a cow includes ribs numbers six through twelve (so, seven in all), and butchers can make that section into a 'rib roast' all in one piece (or multiple, smaller roasts), or they can cut the individual ribs with steaks, and then they're called 'rib steaks' instead. Some people call these cuts "prime rib" but it's actually kind of a misnomer because they can actually be "prime" or not, and it depends on the USDA grade.

Rib-eye steaks are basically rib steaks where the bone has been removed. They may be from a particular portion; I'm not really sure. It seemed like different websites said different things.

[Note: In the pictures our steaks are kind of small. It's because they are veal. These cuts actually do come quite a bit larger.]

Rib steaks are supposed to have a lot marbling and fat (so, flavor), because of the muscles that they're from, so people don't usually marinade these steaks.

Instead, it seems like the most popular way of preparing rib steaks is the Sear & Blast method. So, this is what I did to prepare ours.

Here's how it works:
1. Preheat your oven to 450 F.
2. On the stove, get a cast iron skillet really hot.
3. Season your steak. I just used salt and pepper.
4. Sear the steak for 3 minutes on the first side, and then flip it over.
5. Move everything into the preheated oven.
6. Cook it in the oven until it is done. (We like our steaks pretty well done, so I think it was 7 or 8 minutes for us. If you want it medium, it's about 6 minutes.)

And that's it. Then you eat it.

Isn't that so easy? Basically preheat everything, start it on the stove, move to the oven, and finish it up.

Your homework:
1. Fill in the blank: A popular method of cooking rib steaks is ________ & _________ .
2. True or false? One must always marinade a rib steak.
3. Cook a rib steak, or a rib eye steak, or prime rib, depending on what is available at your store! (These steaks can also be called market steak.)

(Is anybody actually trying this with me? You should, because steak is delicious, and then later when you're picking a steak you'll know what the actual choices are. They actually don't all taste the same.)