Saturday, December 11, 2010

*Crickets*

I have a perfectly valid excuse. Honest. I wasn't shirking my responsibility to you guys. I wasn't withholding quality content out of spite or malice. I wasn't lounging on the sofa eating bonbons for the last 2 months. I've been...busy. Very validly, very honestly busy.

Busy doing what? Well...for starters (and not necessarily in chronological order), I went back to work. Yeah. I know. Kind of an anticlimactic turn in the whole homesteading thing, but, hey, whatever. And by back to work, I mean full-time, overnight work like I did for years before. So much for the low-stress, no hassle, solitaire on the computer kind of job. Nope, I went right back into high-stress, savin' lives kinda work.

So, between that and trying to maintain some sort of domesticity, I've been a bit stretched. So, my blogging compatriots, I let you guys slide. I'm a horrible friend. Oh, and I'm pregnant. That's been happening too.

So, anyway, yeah, this work thing sure blows. The hours suck and I...oh, I'm sorry, what? Right. Yes, I did say pregnant. Knocked-up, in the family way, great with child, bun in the ol' oven, gestating.

Holy crap. I'm pregnant. What the eff??!!! I know!! It's crazy exciting and scary (and uncomfortable and indelicate and kind of gross sometimes)!! So, B and I have been trying to wrap our brains around our hastily conceived (!!) idea. Apparently we are far more fertile than previously assumed cause we had no sooner entertained the idea of procreating than we had actually procreated.

So, dear folks, that has been the reason for my overlong absence. I really did go back to work. In fact, the day I was called for my interview was the day I found out I was knocked up. And between work, gestating, sleeping more than I ever thought possible, and cramming my face with food, I've been heinously busy.

I promise to do better :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Joad-style

Hey, guess what! It's finally October. Freakin finally. I love October. I love cool, crisp mornings and nights around a bonfire. I love the colors and the smell of burning wood. I love not weeding the garden or cutting the grass. I love hot chocolate and apple cider. I love wool socks and cozy hats. Ahhh, October, I'm glad you finally showed up.

Today is slated to be a very productive day (why, then, am I sitting inside at my desk?). We finally got around to getting a storage unit up here! Yay!! Now we can finally banish our Sanford and Sons decorating motif and go for something a little less junkyard and a little more cozy, little house. Seriously, we've got sooo much crap. So, of course, we're just gonna move it to somewhere out of sight and forget that we have a clutter problem. Duh. What, you expect us to purge? Pfft. Not this little family. B doesn't purge. He collects. You know that show American Pickers? His lifelong ambition is to be one of those old guys with all that crap stowed away in barns and sheds. I'm cool with it, just so long as it's kept in barns and sheds and our house doesn't turn into one of those places where you can't see the front lawn for cars on blocks and toilets. So, we shuffle all of our crap from place to place, Joad style. You should've seen us moving up here. We had some loads that defied the laws of physics.

So, that's the goal for today. Sort through all this stuff and decide what to store elsewhere and what to keep here. Kinda of a pain in the ass, but whatever. Needs to be done. I'll also be cutting the grass for what's hopefully the last time this year and doing some general yard clean-up and prep for the long, cold winter.

Now, you guys go enjoy October. Have some hot cider, build a bonfire, sit on your butts, and watch the world!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Things have been quiet lately up here in the hills of Tennessee. Nothing much going on aside from getting ready for winter. We didn't do a fall garden, as I was so disgusted and disappointed with our summer garden, I just didn't have it in me to do it all again. I do have some cabbage and a little bit of broccoli growing in boxes up near the house, but the soil I used in the boxes was...let's just call it substandard. So, while the plants are growing, they are far from thriving.

In all honesty, we've just been chilling. Doing some clearing, making a backyard out of what was once an overgrown jungle of briars, blackberries, deadfall, and saplings. It's actually turning out to be pretty rad. B built a gigantor stone fire pit out there and we have big plans for some sort of native garden with winding paths and arbors and little bridges all leading out to the small cliff about 30 yards from the house. If we can pull it off, it'll be pretty freakin awesome.

Also, to alleviate some of my solitude, I've decided to pursue finding a part-time job. I've been schmoozing it up with a mechanic close to town, trying to convince him that he absolutely NEEDS me to answer the phone for him. While not what most people would consider a cool job, I think it would be pretty fab. I like cars. I really do. And I like to fix things. And I've always wanted to know how to fix cars. And I've got a truck that needs a lot of fixing. And I'm pretty good at answering the phone. So bring it on. I know it may seem like I've set the bar low, but whatever. I think it would be sweet. Plus, I'm not looking for some high-stress, career-y type job. If I wanted that, I could go back to working in a vet school ICU/ER. But, I don't, so I'm not. I want to be a mechanic when I grow up. And how much more practical is that than veterinary ICU? I KNOW I'll have to fix my truck. But the chances of one of my chickens coming down with diabetes insipidus or GME is slim to none. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love that kind of work, it's just not where my head is right now.

So anyway, changes abound here on the little farm and we're working hard to turn this little house into a home and this piece of land into something productive and bountiful.

Hope everyone is enjoying the cooler temps and the changing colors!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This IS My First Rodeo!!

So, I went outside one morning over the weekend and discovered something. It's fall. I have no idea how it snuck up on me, no clue when it started, but as I sat on my porch drinking my coffee, I noticed for the first time that that indomitable wall of green I was complaining about had taken on a few sprinkles of gold, orange, red. A few here, a couple there, a smattering of color around the bend...I swear, it just came out of nowhere. Mother Nature was like, "Hey, look over there! An eagle!" (to divert my attention), then, when I wasn't looking, she donned her technicolor coat. It's still just getting started, but it's already breathtaking.

I come from Georgia. And in Georgia we have pretty much one tree. Pine. Pine is green. All the time. It's the kind of tree you can count on. It's a dependable little tree. Always sticking with what it knows. But, it's also kind of a scaredy cat tree, a boring little, reserved tree. Afraid of change, unwilling to dabble in color. In Tennessee, we have maple, oak, hickory, poplar...all manner of show-offs. We do have a few pines, but they stay in the background; drowned out by their riskier cousins. In a few weeks, when the mountains are ablaze with color, I hope to take a long drive...just me and my trusty ol' nikon.

Another hint I got that fall is nudging summer out of the way is the abundance of that fall staple, the county fair. Holy cow. Tennessee loves a county fair almost as much as it loves a yard sale! We went to the Rhea (pronounced Ray, for all you folks who don't speak Tennessee) Co. fair this weekend. And while there was a noticeable lack of rides (and therefore, carnies, which are one of my favorite subcultures), it didn't lack for local color. Also, the fair allowed me to feast my eyes on a spectacle never before beholden by yours truly...a rodeo. Yep. My first rodeo. Right there, at the fair. It didn't even cost extra. They even had bulls. It was awesome. Well, the beginning, middle, and end were awesome. All that stuff that comes between the broncos, barrels, and bulls was kind of boring (only improved by the fact that there were cowboys. Everywhere. Cowboys walking and cowboys standing and cowboys climbing fences and sitting on gates, cowboys riding horses and walking and standing...definitely a good diversion from team roping ;) ). And I decided that I hate calf roping. It was extremely disturbing. All in all though, the rodeo is something I hope to experience again. One day, I may even become a rodeo regular.

Also, this weekend brought lots and lots of apples. But that'll be a post for another day...as soon as I figure out what in the hell I'm going to do with all of them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Paul Bunyan Ain't Got S--t on Me

Gads, I'm beat this morning. I spent the better portion of yesterday afternoon doing something I rarely ever do. And it was hard.

See, there was this woodpile, down near the bottom of the driveway left over from a (monstrous) tree that B felled last fall. It was all chainsawed up and stacked neatly, just waiting for me to load it up and bring it up to the house. I'd been planning to get it up here since, oh, about May...I just, ya know...umm...waited. And yesterday I finally stopped waiting and just did it. But once I got the first load (it was loaded into a cart we pull behind our lawn tractor, since our full size tractor is on the fritz...and I probably wouldn't use the full size tractor when I'm here alone anyway...that thing intimidates me.) up to the house, I wasn't sure where to put it. We have our rack of firewood, all split and stacked and ready for burning. But we don't have a stack of waiting-to-be-split wood.

So, I split it.

Holy crap, people. I split wood for at least two hours (two hours all combined, not including the many breaks. All told, the entire process took about three hours or so. I do not skimp on breaks!). And some of t hose pieces were HUGE!! Like over a foot in diameter huge. And, since I'm not normally the woodchopper, I just slaved away at it with the ax, occasionally having to take a mallet and beat the hell out of the ax to get it to go in further. I think I swung the mallet more than I swung the ax, honestly. Needless to say, when B got home, he was surprised. And him, being the normal wood chopper, had a wealth of tips. Apparently, we have this thing, he called it a grenade, that's shaped kind of like a skinny pyramid that makes splitting HUGE pieces of wood really easy. You just set it point down, in the middle of the log and whack it with the mallet a few times. And voila!! Splitsville. I WISH I'd known about it earlier. (He also told me that the wood was oak and that's why it was so freakin' hard. I thought I was just weak and had no idea how to chop wood. Redeemed!!) And I also learned that I should wear my steel toed boots when I chop wood. B didn't tell me that, I figured it out all on my own.

So, yeah. September 1st, 90 degrees. Chopping wood. But, it's better to have it ready when you need it and not have to slog about in the snow and ice to split more. Our split wood rack, near the house, is almost full again and the unsplit wood stack way down past the garden is gigantor. So we should be set for this winter (hell...probably for like the next five winters. That stack is ridiculously huge. I'll post pics of it soon). The first frost date for this part of TN, at this elevation is usually around October 7th, so we'll be needing it sooner than we thought.

What are you guys doing to get ready for winter? Now that canning season is almost over, what is everyone putting by to get ready?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rocky said, "Doc It's Only a Scratch"

There was this one time when I took a few weeks off from my blog, then I came back full of stories to tell and adventures to wow you guys with and wit and humor that had y'all rolling with laughter. Oh, wait. That didn't happen. BUT!! Nevertheless, I'm back.

I'm not sure if my little hiatus actually accomplished anything in the way of new-found inspiration, but my mornings sure became a lot more productive. Things are still rolling along up here; chickens are scratching, ducks are splashing, rabbits are nibbling. Although, FEWER chickens are scratching these days than previously. We had a problem with a marauding raccoon and lost three chickens (sadly, two of them you know: Angry Chicken and one of the Phyllis Diller twins) last week. But, that problem has been resolved...with bullets. And I can safely say we are raccoon free, until the next one shows up.

All mourning and loss aside, it was actually pretty funny. I was here, in my accustomed place in front of the computer, drinking coffee, early, early one morning, when I heard awful, awful noises from the chicken pen (thankfully all the windows were open, or I would've been ignorant until I went outside and saw the carnage). Still bleary-eyed and half-comatose with sleep, it took a few seconds for the noise to register. My ears spoke to my brain, my brain lagged in response. Brain then spoke to muscles and I was up, fumbling with bathrobe and flip-flops. I know. Flip-flops. Not exactly ideal footwear for a pre-dawn expedition, but again, I was half asleep. Also, I was not wearing pants. Also, my bathrobe lost it's tie/rope thingy and does not close. I'm sure the raccoon was laughing at me as I stumbled out in the dark, flip-flops flapping and bathrobe blowing in the wind. It's times like these that make me more thankful than ever that I have no neighbors within viewing distance.

I should also mention at this point that I neglected to pick up the gun. The gun that sits right beside t he front door. The gun that we decided to leave beside the front door in case of chicken emergency. It also happens that I grabbed the weakest flashlight ever created. So, when I finally made it out there, I could barely see anything. A few chickens were running around on the ground, which is very odd in the predawn darkness. Then I saw it. The raccoon. Dammit. So I run (flipping and flopping) back into the house to grab the gun, but I felt I needed to tell B. Who was in the shower.

"there's a raccoon in the chicken pen!!"

"Well, go shoot it!!"

Right. Good call. Although, had he jumped out of the shower, wet and soapy and grabbed the gun himself, it would've added a whole new dimension of humor to this story. Alas, he didn't.

Needless to say, by the time I returned, the thing was gone.

The next morning, early, we were roused by the barking of my dog. We both flew out of bed, donned shoes (and pants), grabbed gun and spotlight, and made our way out into the dark. Definitely more well equipped this time. When we got the area where we keep the Polish chickens, I did a quick headcount and noticed that two were missing. The Phyllis Diller twins. No more than five seconds later, in a spot that was empty before, one of them miraculously appeared, stuck between the fence and the netting. B swears he saw her fall from the tree. We assumed her dead due to the strange angle of her body and the fact that she just seemingly fell from a branch thirty feet in the air. But, it clued us in on where to point the spotlight. And the gun.

Afterwards, we went back inside to put away the rifle and the spotlight, as the sun was starting to come up. I made some coffee and got ready to go back out and clean up the mess. When I went back out, lo and behold, Phyllis Diller from the fence was walking around the chicken pen, looking no worse for wear. She has been redubbed Lazarus.

We fired a few more shots than were probably necessary. We woke every dog within earshot and probably their owners, but we shouldn't have anymore raccoon trouble...at least for a little while.

And, quickly, in other news, Fiona the duck has started laying eggs!!

Have any of you guys had predator trouble this year? Do you prefer traps or more...final solutions?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

There Comes a Time...

I wanted to take a moment and let you guys know that I'll be taking a (hopefully) brief hiatus from the ol' blog. Nothing's wrong. I know that when people break from their blogs, we've all come to expect that it's because of some horrible disease or a death or a major life shake-up. I got nothing like that. It just seems like it's something that I need to do. Take a little breather, recharge the batteries, ya know, stuff like that. Let me repeat for those of you (mainly my family ;) ) who are going to read too much into this, nothing's wrong. Maybe it's writer's block, but like I said in my last post, I'm remarkably uninspired. The thing with Grit hasn't panned out like I expected it to either, so maybe I'm throwing myself a little pity party. Who knows? I'll be back in a couple weeks, hopefully with more tales with which to regale you with.

Until then, I bid you all a very fond adieu!

(And to the few of you who just found this blog, like, yesterday? Sorry! I suck like that.)