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.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ugh. Just Ugh.

I'm remarkably uninspired. And grumpy. And, to beat the dead horse, hot. Summer has really beaten me down this year. I did have a bit of a hiccup in the day to day, though. Yesterday...man. Yesterday was messed up. Yesterday I had to do something I'd never done before and, if you'll excuse my sailor-mouth, it was a total mindf**k.

I was out chilling with my chickens yesterday, walking around the pen, making sure everything was both hunky and dory, when I saw my cat paying way too much attention to something just on the other side of the fence. My first thought? One of the bantam's escaped and met it's maker via cat. I quickly waded through chickens to go check it out only to find...a huge freakin' snake. I mean...huge. It was much bigger than the one I wrangled off the porch. And, it was caught in the wildlife netting we have surrounding the chicken yard. Which really sucked. I have no idea how long the poor thing was stuck there. At this point, I weighed my options. There was no way I was going to get close enough to it's head to release it from it's netting bondage. It was just a rat snake, but still...No thanks. I could shoot it...but we all know how that turned out last time, and with the cat and fifty very curious and brave chickens nosing about, I decided taking aim with my trusty ol' .22 was not a very good idea. Which left me with one option.

Without going into detail, I will say that I eventually succeeded in dispatching that snake to snake heaven. It was much more difficult than I expected...both physically and, later, emotionally.

As many of you know, for many years, I was a veterinary nurse. I have assisted with and performed countless euthanasias. I have witnessed the death of animals on many, many occasions and under many circumstances. I was wholly unprepared for killing that snake though. In euthanasia, it basically boils down to an overdose of a barbiturate. And nine times out of ten, it's very smooth and very fast. That's what I'm accustomed to. I am not, however, accustomed to what I did to that poor snake. And I know. I know. I had to do it. I couldn't let him get into the chicken pen. He was definitely big enough to eat my bantams, not to mention the eggs. I couldn't leave him stuck in the netting till B got home to dispatch him with alacrity and skill. He would've cooked to death in yesterday's heat. I couldn't risk the cat or the dogs getting to him while he was stuck in the netting and unable to get away. So. I had to do it. Logic. Cold, hard logic.

But, man. It sucked. Next time, I've got to think of something more efficient (and sharper) than a hoe.

Alas, this is what we've signed up for, here on the farm. These animals are my responsibility and if there is a threat to them in anyway, it's up to me (and B, if that threat shows up after work or on weekends) to protect them. So, I'll keep doing what I have to do. And, it not only messes with me on a very visceral level, but also on a "what right do i have to move into that snake's territory etc etc" moral/ethical level. I know many of you probably think I'm way overthinking this.

I'm still sick to my stomach.

I'm sorry, snake. I am so, so sorry.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taking up the slack with photos

I can't think of anything even remotely interesting to talk about. My days are all remarkably similar lately, and I've already complained about the unending heat, so to avoid be repetitive, I thought I'd throw up some photos, the sights of the little farm, and leave it at that for today.

Not a great photo, but if you squint your left eye, hop on one foot, speak Swahili, and count to 42, you can see a rainbow. I promise. Or, click on it to embiggen.

The tree in the photo above is one more piece of evidence that supports my theory that lackluster yardwork is good yardwork. For months after I first got here, I meant to pull this little tree up, thinking it was some random hardwood volunteer that sprung up uninvited. Little did I know, it's a ...something that flowers tree. I see them all over the place now, but I have no idea what it is. Any clues?



Close up of the above something-that-flowers-tree.



Scandalous photo of bathing chicken. It would've been doubly scandalous, but the hen who left that hole to the left, ran off before I could snap the photo. She was mortified. As an aside, those are my gardenias. Apparently, chickens love bathing in gardenia roots. Conversely, gardenias do not love being chicken bathtubs.



And lastly, this is NOT what my sunflowers look like anymore. My sunflowers are drought deadened, brittle things, that just barely whisper of this former glory.

Now, I'm off to find something interesting to do today so that I actually might have something of substance to say to you all tomorrow.

I bid you adieu ;)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Be Gone, You Foul Wench!

Ah friends, it's a drab and dreary day here on the little farm. The sun showed her face for a brief moment before being overtaken by gray clouds, laden with rain. The sky is rumbling, the wind is blowing, the trees are whipping around...and the chickens are standing right out in it. The dogs have to good sense to hide under my desk, the cat is lounging under the cover of the front porch, but the chickens...they are, quite literally, too stupid to come in out of the rain. I've never seen such a display of poor reasoning.

This rain has brought with it a whisper of cool air. Not quite a nip, but enough to make me remember brisk fall mornings and orange and gold and yellow and red. I'm ready to vanquish Summer, banish her in favor of her milder and sweeter sister, Autumn. I'm ready for wool socks and warm soups and fires and cozy blankets. I'm ready for hot coffee on a cool morning and a warm, flickering fire at night. I'm ready for Nature to don her technicolor coat and dazzle the senses.







Summer, while sweet and nurturing with her sun and warmth in the beginning, has become overzealous. I think she is enjoying too much her unrelenting sun and her dry, dry days. I think she's gotten a little maniacal, gone a wee bit mad, lost a few marbles, so to speak. The soft, fresh colors of Spring have become an overbearing wall, an impenetrable fortress of green. This year, Summer brought with her dust and and baked ground aplenty and she has withheld her nourishing rains and electrifying storms.

Alas, it's only July. We are in the thick of it and still have those dog days ahead. But, on mornings like this, we can imagine that Autumn is right around the bend and forget about Summer, if only for a few hours.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Productive? Nah...

You know what they say about good intentions, right? Well, heading into the weekend, I had the best of intentions. I was motivated and ready for action. Alas, it was not to be. Instead of digging and hoeing and lifting and carrying and pulling and all that other stuff I'd planned on doing...we went to Nashville. I've lived in the south all my life. I've lived in Tennessee for six months. I had never yet been to Nashville. The mind boggles.

The Music City is just a short three hour jaunt from the little farm, so we left before lunch and were home in time for a late supper. We didn't do much besides drive around and look at stuff. I saw the Ryman Auditorium. THE Ryman Auditorium. Very cool. And, did you know that there's a replica of the Parthenon there? The freakin Parthenon. In Nashville, Tennessee. I have no idea what purpose it serves or why they thought it would be a good fit. But it's there. Bigger than life. Not, however, made of marble, much to my disappointment. It was very surreal to drive down the street and glance out the window to see...the Parthenon. I mean, really. And apparently I'm some sort of complete idiot because I didn't know it was there. "Of course there's a Parthenon in Nashville, K. Duh." Oh, right, right. Makes perfect sense. After some deft wikipedia maneuvering, I learned that it kinda does make sense in that Nashville is The Athens of the South. Who knew?

After that very strange experience, we went to Third Man Records. Those of you who know me know that I have something of an obsessive infatuation with Jack White. I think he's beyond talented and I want to be like him when I grow up. So, to visit his recording studio/production facility/performance space/record store was a treat like none other. I even got a t-shirt.

Then we ate ribs and came home.

All in all, another low-key, unproductive weekend. I think the fact that it was approximately 250 degrees outside is an adequate excuse for our less than laborious time off.

Now, I'm off to labor in the sun and make up for being a complete and total slacker. The unrelenting heat last week really pulled the rug out from under my garden. Pretty much everything is in a slow state of dying. Except one thing. Okra. Now I understand why okra is such a popular southern cuisine. It's the only thing that will live in blazing heat with no water for a ridiculous amount of time. My corn? Dead. Cukes? Withered. Squash? Have had better days. Tomatoes? Hanging on by a thread. Okra? Thriving. Which is really quite awesome. I absolutely LOVE fried okra. Seriously. Almost at the top of my fried things list. If anyone has a good batter recipe, I'd love to have it. My attempts thus far, while tasty, have been substandard.

Good day to you all!

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's Friday


So it's Friday. For a lot of you, that means you're headed into the weekend, going to the lake or the beach; going somewhere fun or hanging out at home, relaxin (maxin and relaxin?); doing stuff that needs to be done or disregarding the things that need to be done in favor of a low-key, lazy time. The latter is how B and I have spent the majority of our weekends of late. And, while it's been awesome, it's time to get back to the weekend grindstone. And, unfortunately, that means a good bit of heavy lifting is in store for me. We have to move the rabbits from the bottom of the yard over to where our chickens reside. And we need to move the bantams. Have I told you about our bantams? Holy cow. They're freakin cute. Tiny little chickens. Like miniatures. We have one little banty rooster and four little hens. The rooster has just found his voice and he sounds like a 13 yr old boy all cracking and high pitched. Adorable.

Also on my plate is the fall garden. I shudder to think. My summer garden has...well...not thrived, let's just say that. The heat and lack of rain really did a number on it. Even the squash are hating it. BUT! I'm determined. I WILL have a beautiful and productive fall garden. First order of business? Getting rid of all that heinous grass. I'm going to till and mulch like I've never tilled and mulched before. I'm going to wage war on that grass. And from this weekend onward, grass will tremble and stand in awe of my might. Or something. The plan is thus: I will till. I will then lay down black plastic. I will then mulch over the black plastic. I will weed the beds that remain from the current garden and I will pull plants that aren't doing well to make room for my enviable and fruitful fall garden.

But, before my beautiful imaginary garden becomes a reality, I need to start some seeds. I've set up the lightstand (not in the bathroom this time!) and it's ready to go. I think I'll be making a ton of newspaper pots in which to start said seeds. Does anyone have any experience with that? Newsprint pots? I've never used em before, but I think, I think they'll work well for what I want to do. They can just go straight in the ground right?

So, that's the plan for the weekend. I'm determined. I'm motivated. I will absolutely not sit around on my butt all weekend. I will not spend tomorrow afternoon sitting on my front porch, drinking beer, watching Frank the yard bunny frolic. I will be productive.

I mentioned that I didn't set up the lights in the bathroom this go round. Wanna know why? Cause there's a washing machine in there now! Yep! Newly purchased. Just last weekend. A machine that washes clothes. I can't believe it. I feel like Jane Jetson or something. It's like magic. Seriously. I never, ever realized just what a boon having a washing machine is until now. B came home from work one evening and saw me slogging away in the wash tub, scrubbing and wringing. He'd never actually seen me handwash our clothes before that and he was astounded. I think the idea of handwashing clothes is much different from the reality. He even offered to help me wring out the jeans. Then, the very next weekend, he bought me a washer...that awesome, awesome man. You should all try it. Spend four or five months handwashing your laundry then go back to using your machine. I guarantee that you'll have a whole new appreciation for that particular modern convenience.

So, that's about it. I hope you all have a stellar weekend! And go check out my Grit blog! And read the others. Those folks know a thing or two!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who Says Rabbits in the Garden are a Bad Thing?

In previous posts, I've told y'all about my garden and my chickens and my ducks and my goats. I've talked about the dogs and the cat, the wildlife and the various and sundry insects. I've waxed rhapsodic about almost every facet of the things I take care of up here on the ridge. One thing I've neglected to discuss however, is our rabbits. Yep. We raise rabbits. And we have, at least in my opinion, a lot of 'em. At present we're up to about 20...but that number will soon be dwindling, if you get my drift.

So, we've got these rabbits, right? And they're all cute and fuzzy and totally squeezable. I dig my rabbits. And these rabbits, as conventional wisdom dictates, all live in cages. They are safely and securely housed down at the bottom of the yard. They get garden scraps and rabbit food and occasional goodies. Two weekends ago, B and I had the brilliant idea to set up something of a...play pen of sorts. Some sort of enclosure with an open bottom so a few buns at a time could pretend that they were living the good life and much on real, live grass.

We took that ball and ran with it. And it worked! We had four juvenile buns in this set-up. We moved it around from place to place in the yard and let them go to town. All was well. Until...

dun dun dun!!!!!

One of them escaped. It didn't dig out. It leapt OVER. B was feeding them and this daredevil bun heaved himself over the three foot tall wall of the pen. The chase was on. B grabbed his handy-dandy net and we went on a rabbit catchin' mission. And we actually succeeded! We totally caught that little rogue bun. We put him right back in with his brethren and went about our business. Again, all was well for a few days. Then, of course, same bun was out hop, hop, hopping along, not a care in the world, just as white as white can be (with occasional spots) right out in the open in front of God, owls, hawks, dogs, cat, and everyone.

This time we were not as deft in our apprehension of said rogue bun. This time the wily little critter eluded us.

So, now, now we have a yard bunny. His name is Frank.

I know. I can't even count the number of ways this is a bad idea. Thankfully, Frank has not yet discovered the bounty that awaits him in my garden. Frank thinks he's invincible however. He scoots around all over the place, oblivious. Methinks Frank will come to a bitter end very soon. My dogs have already seen him and were trembling with want.

He's really stinking cute though. I'd never considered what a domestic bunny would do if let loose on the world. He's a riot. AND!! I think he has a girlfriend. Bunny love is definitely in the air. She's a little, wild thing. Petite and brown. Just Frank's type. She spends her days under the cover of the woods near the caged rabbits. Frank just runs around willy-nilly. When he goes to visit his captive compatriots, he and his little lady frolic and hop and hop and frolic all about. She's definitely smarter than him, though. I think he's showing off for her.

So, without further ado, I give you...

*drumroll*

Frank, the yard bunny!!








Hopefully I'll be able to capture some of his more endearing, bunny frolic moments to share soon.
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On a completely unrelated note, welcome to all the folks who found via Grit! And thanks to Grit for giving me one more place to put my drivel!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quoth the Sparrow, "Nevermore"

Something strange is afoot here at the little farm lately. Saturday, I was sitting at the kitchen table, minding my own business, when I heard a rap, rap, rapping at my chamber...window. I looked up and there was a tiny sparrow, fluttering up and down, hither and yon across the picture window, rap, rap, rapping with his tiny, little beak. I have herbs hanging in front of that window to dry and decided that he must be trying to get my bundles of thyme. I dismissed it as a novelty and went back to whatever it was I was doing (reading "over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore"?). The tapping and fluttering continued, incessantly, for at least 10 minutes. Finally, fearing for the poor little guys beak, I closed the blinds.

Thinking my problem solved, I went back to reading. A few minutes later, I heard the familiar rapping! Persistent little creature!! I peaked out the blinds, but he wasn't there. I continued, however, to hear the noise. I walked to the other side of the kitchen to the window above the sink and peered out. Seeing nothing, I began to walk away, when suddenly, the sparrow pops up and begins to flutter against the window. I closed THOSE blinds and went back to reading. Not to be deterred, the little bird continued to flutter. I showed B, and promptly forgot about it.

Sunday, same thing. Monday, same thing. All hours of the day. He doesn't fly away when you stand in front of the window. He flutters and flaps, pecking and tapping at my kitchen window. It's the oddest thing. He's still there today and for the life of me I can't figure out what he wants. The window above the sink does not have a line of sight to the herbs hanging out to dry, so I know that's not what he's after. I'm half-tempted to open the screen and let him in just to satisfy my curiosity. But, then I'd have a bird flying around my house...and we can all see how that carries with it the potential for disaster.

The only thing I can think of is a bit ridiculous. I have a budgie (parakeet to my American brethren). His name is Peter Norman and he lives in a cage in my bathroom. Several times a week, I take Peter Norman's cage and hang it from a hook on the front porch to allow him some time to commune with nature and rue his captive fate. I am of the opinion that my sparrow friend (who I've dubbed Ted), became enamored of my handsome, blue budgie during one of the latter's recent porch outings (Peter Norman has a wonderful singing voice and is a very striking little bird). The sparrow, Ted, is so taken by Peter Norman's talent, poise, and good looks that he will stop at nothing to get to him. He's a stalker sparrow!

If this keeps up, I'll have to get a restraining order and involve the cops, maybe get a personal security detail. Peter Norman's safety could be in jeopardy!!



Look at him hiding behind my Christmas cactus! He thinks he's sneaky!



Those beady little eyes! Plotting and scheming to get to Peter Norman! I can see the malice behind those eyes!

All joking aside, it really is kinda freaky. I can hear him now, tapping at that window.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ahhhh, Romance...

I would like to announce that I have fully recovered from the mire of self-pity in which I found myself when last we spoke. I have bounced back and am ready to take life by the horns. Thank you all so much for you kind words and encouragement. You guys made me smile a lot. I am a-ok and, while all is not right with my world, it will be. I have that to look forward to and I have the process of making all right with my world to look forward to as well.

It's easy to get bogged down by all the tiny, inconsequential crappy things that happen in the course of a day. Spill my coffee, chicken gets into duck pen, dog scratches my leg, ad infinitum. What I have to remind myself to do, is keep on the lookout for the truly awesome things that negate all the little crappy things that happen. Rows of shiny red tomatoes (which, as I've said, I don't eat, but they sure are pretty!), new birds at the bird feeders (indigo bunting yesterday. VERY cool), flowers blooming after it rained, little things like that make everything else seem minuscule in comparison.

And then sometimes, sometimes you get a big, huge whopper of awesome that just makes you smile for days on end. Remember me telling you guys about Seamus, the saddest duck in the world? See, while Seamus was digging his new pad next door to the chickens, the through-the-fence-chicken love just wasn't enough to keep him warm at night, ya know? Fifty high-strung, flighty, demanding chickens just wasn't cutting the mustard with my handsome boy. He needed company of the web-footed variety. Seamus needed a girlfriend.

Folks, I'd like to introduce you to Fiona:



Fiona is a sassy little Pekin that a friend of B's sold us. I knew she was coming, but I didn't tell Seamus. I wanted him to be surprised.



He heard a (loud) quack in the distance and his little ducky stomach did a somersault.




"Is it? Could it be...another...duck?"



Fiona eyed Seamus up and down, realized her good fortune at being moved in with such a handsome specimen of unknown breed duck, and immediately began showing off her wares and flirting a bit.




And the rest is ducky history. A classic tale of love at first sight, in my opinion. Seamus went, in less than an hour, from the loneliest, saddest little duck in the world to the happiest, luckiest duck in the world (at least he thinks he's luckiest...he doesn't know that his kiddie pool isn't really a pond.). After this photo was taken, they jumped in the water and flapped and swam and splashed and then they waddled off into the sunset, wing in wing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Umm..what was I doing again?

It's raining! Right now! Just out there, rain! It's the second day in a row and the third day in less than a week that this miracle stuff has fallen from the sky. My garden has been granted a stay of execution and my rain barrels are getting full. Glory of glories!

Aside from that little bit of awesome, it's been a tough week here on the ridge. You may (or may not) have noticed my absence from the ol' blogosphere over the last many days. I've been struggling with figuring some stuff out and haven't really had anything to say. In this post I mentioned my lack of structure and routine. Well, the more I've thought about it, the more it's messed with my head. I want, so badly, to be that person. The person who knows what she's going to be doing on Monday; the person who knows that such and such a day is the day I make bread for the week or sit down and mend the things that need mending or put up the things I've harvested from my garden. I want my weeks to flow like that.

Trouble is, I'm still learning to do all that stuff. My weeks can't really flow when I'm uncertain how long it will take me to mend that hole in my sheet or if my bread will rise. Do I need to get bread at the store? Do I need to buy frozen corn? I have no idea. And the thing that's getting me is the amount of time I spend learning to do these things. Is it worth spending hours and hours perfecting my bread or should I just spend a dollar and buy some? Is it worth countless hours spent learning to knit when I could just buy that scarf as a Christmas gift? And if my time is worth more than that, why don't I just go back to work? I mean, I spend a couple hours doing something that I could quite easily purchase.

And I know it's all part of the process of slowing down and learning the skills necessary to living the way we want to live. But trying to learn how to do all these things (and consistently failing) is really screwing up my mindset. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely DO NOT want to go back to selling my hours to someone else. I think I'm just having trouble prioritizing. How important is it that I learn to bake bread that doesn't fall? How important is it that I understand how to fix that hole in B's sock that his toe peeks through? Where on my list of shit I need to get done does learning a new knitting stitch fall?

And I know that if I had more structure to my day, there would be time for all those things. But as it stands, I have no idea where I'm going from minute to minute, so I don't know where to fit learning into the mix. So, if I'm just going to putz around and barely get through my house/garden/animal work and not learn the things I should learn, what's the point? I can do house/garden/animal work with a job and bring extra money home (which, in all honesty, is absolutely last resort. I'm just making a point.).

Add to that the general feeling of guilt that I have for staying home in the first place when B has to drive 50 miles one way every day to sell HIS hours to someone else, and it's all a rather nice quagmire. I know a lot of women stay home while their husband/partner/whatever go to work. But in almost all of those cases, those women have something we don't have. Children. They stay home to tend the chillun. They homeschool, they do playdates, they have a passel of kids that need their attention. B and I do not have that responsibility. So...again, it begs the question, what the hell am I doing not working? I'm not accomplishing any great feats of domesticity, that's for damn sure.

Sorry for the bummer post this morning. Maybe someone, somewhere out there has that one little tidbit of inspiration I need to get moving again.

Thanks for listening to me whine. Tomorrow, back to normal garden, chicken, canning kerfuffle.
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Real quick, go check out Down to Earth blog. That's where all the new folks that showed up last week came from. The author, Rhonda, is an inspiring woman. I kinda want to be Rhonda when I grow up.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meet the Flock!

All I can say right now is holy crap, people, ho.ly. crap! I'm completely overwhelmed by the increase in visits to the little farm blog over the last two days. My page loads went from 16 on Monday to 182 yesterday. Unreal. So, a hearty welcome to everyone who has dropped by. Thank you so much for checkin' us out!

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It's hot at the little farm today. Hot and dry. We haven't had rain in a month. Nary a drop. The garden is shriveling, the leaves on the trees in the forest are wilting, the plants on the side of the dirt road are gray with dust...it's almost unbearable. I've never lived anywhere that went an entire month with no rain. Not even in Georgia can I remember a time where we didn't at least get a random afternoon storm here and there. This is ridiculous. I have no idea how people live in arid climates. Everything that was green is now either yellow or brown. And not the pretty autumnal yellows and browns. These are the yellows and browns of struggles and fights for life.

But, what can you do? Rain dance? Prayer? Drum circle? All of the above? I'd be mighty obliged if any of you would partake in any of those things on behalf of all the folks on the Cumberland Plateau!

Moving on! Pictures! I know you are all eagerly anticipating introductions to our silliest and most indivdual chickens. I only photographed (for today) the ones with names. And we've only named the ones we can actually tell apart from the others. So, without further ado!!!

This is Angry Chicken



I don't think Angry Chicken is really all that angry, she just has...ummm...well, she's got kind of a weird face, permanent scowl thing going on. She's very intimidating!


This fine fellow is Leroy Brown.


I know everyone has a badass rooster named Leroy Brown, but, come on, he really is a badass. He's even got the crazy eye! Leroy Brown: "I'll kill you, sucka!!"

This pretty little thing is Cher.

Y'all remember that photo of the real Cher when she had that crazy feather head dress on, right? Spitting image. Although THIS Cher is a bit tougher to photograph. She zips about like crazy.

And here we have Phyllis Diller.

If you don't know who Phyllis Diller is, please Google her so you can see how striking the resemblance is. It's remarkable. There is another chicken who is identical to this one, so we call them both Phyllis Diller. They're impossible to differentiate.

And finally, the one we've all been waiting for. My dearest, sweetest, most awesome little duck, Seamus!!!


Isn't he perfect? "My name is Seamus and I like water and mud, tomatoes, squash, strawberries, long walks in the rain and swimming and nibbling on the womans big toe." Isn't he handsome? I just know there's some lucky duck lady out there waiting to meet him!


Sorry there aren't more photos. Moving chickens are crazy hard to photograph. I'll post more here and there in the future so everyone can see just how freaking awesome they are!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On Chickens and Duck

What a wonderful weekend we had here at the little farm! There were naps, and good food, and garden work, and much chicken and duck love. We had no holiday plans so we just stuck around here and avoided crowds and enjoyed our little home, which was fine by us. We got some things done that we'd been needing to do and learned that if you ever need to go to Wal-Mart (which, thankfully, is a rarity for me), July 4th is the time to do it. The place was virtually abandoned. And, while at that loathsome store, I found what I hope were some very good deals on fruit and veggies to put up. I say I hope they were good prices because in all honesty, I have no idea. But $1.50 per pint of strawberries, $1 per pound of peaches, and $0.19 per ear of corn all seemed super cheap, so we loaded up. Today will be spent in the kitchen creating jammy goodness (and no, there will be no corn jam. It was creamed and put in the freezer yesterday.).

The main theme of the weekend, though, was all about the duck and chickens. You may remember when we hatched our first eggs and brought home too many chickens. And when we were suckered into buying ducklings? Well, you could say, we kinda put the ol' cart before the horse on both of those occasions. It was the reverse of "if you build it they will come"...we were working more under the auspices of "if they come, you'll have to build it". We bought all these little guys and figured we'd have plenty of time to build a right and proper enclosure for them by the time they turned into grown-ups.

Well, time passed, and poor B tormented himself trying to figure out the perfect location and setup of our chicken pen. He kept himself up nights, mumbling, pacing, he was like a man possessed (exaggeration). At this point, we had moved all of our chicken friends to three temporary enclosures at the bottom of the yard. The enclosures were of adequate size, but...not at all what I had envisioned for my flock o' chickens. See...I'm kind of an idealist; a romantic, one could say. And ever since we got our first chickens, I've had dreams of a huge, multicolored flock of chickens frolicking in my yard, clucking and cackling, running hither and yon. I imagined sitting on my front porch in the morning, sipping my coffee, watching chicken shenanigans and enjoying general chicken comings and goings.

It took a lot of doing on his part, but B finally convinced me that this was a really bad idea. I was determined to NOT understand that if I let all those chickens run around, we'd have no garden, no landscaping, no grass. We have a lot of chickens. They would make quick work of our yard. So I settled for having five or six yard chickens. But that still left us without a viable option for housing the masses. Then, Friday night, inspiration slapped me atop the head and called me names for not thinking of this sooner.

The goat pen. *angelic voices from on high*

The goat pen was empty. And huge. (small for goats, enormous for chickens). And B was really hesitant to take it down since he worked so hard to put it up in the first place. So Sunday, we spent many hours stringing the whole thing up with aviary netting and making sure it was safe for our little friends. Sunday evening the first group (we called them the experiments) moved in. Monday morning, everyone was still present and accounted for, so we moved the rest of them up the hill and into their new digs. We were also finally able to get a somewhat accurate headcount.

53.

Yep. We're crazy.

Now, this brings me to the duck part of the story. My poor duck has had it kinda rough so far in his young life. He came home as part of a quartet, but is now running solo due to two very bad and at least one very traumatic days. Ever since the very traumatic day, when our duck numbers were reduced to one, this poor duck has been kept in a very small pen, alone, since, well, since he's the only duck now. His little pen was adjacent to a chicken pen however, and they all formed some sort of jailhouse camaraderie, passing things through the bars, using mirrors to see one another, and making shanks out of fallen twigs. They were pretty tight. Unfortunately, the chickens he was buddied up with were the same chickens we used as our experimental group. My poor duck had lost his only friends. He railed against Heaven at this last misfortune. He quacked and cried and sulked. It was a pitiful sight.

Please understand that I have not been blind to this poor ducks unhappiness. He has been a constant source of sad for me ever since he lost his last duck-friend. I have spent much time sitting with him, talking to him, trying to keep him company and be his friend. But still, there is nothing sadder than a lonely, single duck. So, yesterday, I awoke with a fire inside. I was determined to reunite this duck with his chicken buddies and give him all the space he could want. I spurred B to action and we drove posts and hung fence and strung up aviary netting and went to catch our duck. He did not much care for being netted and carried and I'm sure he thought the end was nigh. But when I put him in his new pen, and his chicken friends heard him, they all came running and the seven of them were happily reunited through the fence. Now, my lonely little duck, henceforth known as Seamus, has a ton of room, a swimming pool, and all the through-the-fence-chicken-love he could want.

He was ecstatic. He ran and flapped and dove and swam and ran and flapped until I thought he would pass out from the excitement. I can't think of a single moment here on the little farm in which I have been happier. I have spent the last many weeks, worried about and sad for my lonely little duck and now, now! He's the king of the world. I smiled and laughed and tears fell in happiness for his silly duck antics.

Tomorrow, I will introduce you guys to some of the more memorable (and discernible) members of our flock. And Seamus. Definitely Seamus.

Friday, July 2, 2010

42

This, dear friends, has been a long freaking week, and I have no idea why. It hasn't been any more strenuous or arduous than any other week here on the farm. In fact, with crazy cool temperatures, it's been rather less strenuous and kinda comfortable, what with the not sweating every time you step out the door and nice cozy nights with the windows open. I don't know what it is. Maybe my brain is still all in a tizzy about the GRIT thing or maybe trying to figure out how to rid myself of the plague of Japanese beetles has worn me out. Suffice it to say, I'm beat and looking forward to a hopefully chill, relaxing three day weekend.

Blogging for GRIT definitely has me spun up. I'm totally nervous. I've grown comfortable writing here, with my larger than expected but still limited audience. I have my first post for them all ready to go, but I haven't sent it in yet. How come? Couple reasons. One, they need a headshot of me for their site and I simply don't have one. I try to avoid the front end of the camera at all costs. Last night, B and I went outside so he could take a few pictures of me and never have I felt more supremely ridiculous or self-conscious. None of them came out well. I think we waited until there was too little light; so, we'll try again tonight. Second reason I haven't sent my post in yet...I'm just nervous!! What if, what if, what if? I know, suck it up K. If they didn't like what they read they wouldn't have invited you. I know. So, I'll send it as soon as I get a fairly decent photograph of myself. Fingers crossed that I become photogenic before B gets home tonight!

In garden news, it seems I have several hundred new friends of the multi-legged variety. For quite some time now, I've noticed huge chunks taken out of the leaves of my broccoli (and if you're going to tell me it's too late or too early to have broccoli, don't). I chalked it up to rabbits or chickens or something altogether warm-blooded. Alas!! Not so! It's these:




Normally, I dig caterpillars. I think they're neat. And these guys, well...they're kinda pretty, aren't they? But look what they did to my plant!!! Because of their obvious and blatant disregard for my love of broccoli, they will soon meet their maker via death in a bucket of soapy water.

Also, it's almost time for me to start figuring out our fall garden. I've never had a fall garden. Hell, I've just barely had a summer garden! So, I'll be spending much time reading and googling, trying to figure what and when and how and all that. It's kind of exciting, this gardening thing. And you know what? You totally get food from it. I know, right? Weird. Just in the last couple weeks, I've been over run with food. So much that I've been canning stuff a couple times a week. Pretty soon, my pantry will be bursting with crap I won't eat (squash and pickles)





and stuff that didn't work (runny jam)




But hopefully there will also be a few things that DO work and are tasty.

I know, I know, potatoes keep forever without canning, but I couldn't resist showing em off. First taters of the year!

I just counted and there are 42 jars of stuff in my pantry already. 42. (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? 42. Come on people! Just so you know, 42 is the answer to the question of the meaning of life the universe and everything. Focus, K! Stay on topic!) Sorry.

I interrupt this blog post to bring you very exciting news!! After uploading that last photo, I went outside to putter around while it loaded. Guess what I found!!



That's my red hen. I was wondering where she'd gotten off to! There's been a notable absence this week.

What's she doing? Why's she just sitting there?



Huh. Oh. OH!!!

She wants to be a mama!!


Look at the focus. The determination. The steely reserve in those eyes!


And I bet she'd be a fantastic mama. But you know the devastating thing? Those eggs she's so tenderly sitting on, protecting, keeping warm? Yeah, nothing but yolks in those eggs. We sent Leon up the river after he attacked Sprout. Presently, he's down at the bottom of the yard in his own little... house, yeah, we'll call it a house...in his own little house, unable to have made these eggs anything but eggs. No conjugals for that rooster. Kinda sad, huh?

At least now I know where to look for them! I haven't collected eggs in over a week. She's a tricksy one, that Red Hen.

And now, before I embark on a mission of caterpillar genocide, I'll leave you with a couple more photos from the farm, for no other reason than that they're pretty.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Harsh Reality

Over the weekend, B and I had a talk. It was short, to the point, brutal in it's practical nature and lack of sentimentality. There was no tugging-of-the-heartstrings or anything like that. During the course of this talk, I decided that I have become a pretty different person than I was even a year ago. I looked at every angle with a cold, calculating eye; I made rational decisions based on facts, not on nostalgia; I didn't even cry.

What could we possibly have been talking about?

Goats.

We decided to sell our small, little goat herd.

"But...but...but...K!!! WWWWWWHHHHYYYYY???????"

Several reasons, really (and no, not because they're noisy! I have not become THAT cold-hearted!).

When we moved the goats to the little farm, it was with the intention of clearing a bunch of land, building a little barn, building a little goat house, and giving our little goat families all the room they could want. We had hoped to do all of this with recycled materials and fencing that we brought with us.

Not happening. We were pretty unrealistic in our goals. We constructed a temporary goat area (right beside the kitchen as I mentioned before) where we planned to keep them until we had our goat paradise ready. Well..they made quick work of everything even remotely edible in their little area and we had to start buying hay for them. We started with square bales which got really expensive, really fast. When we moved up to buying round bales (or rolls as I now know they're called around here) we thought we'd struck gold. Alas, not so much.

At last count, they were going through 2 round bales and 2 bags of feed a month at a cost of roughly one hundred dollars monthly...and that was stretching it out as much as we could without depriving them of food. And that's just to keep them fed!! That doesn't include dewormer or time spent trimming hooves or cleaning out the poop and wasted hay.

Now, when we embarked on this goat raising journey, we had big plans. I was going to be a proper milkmaid and we were going to sell the kids and the goats were going to browse and forage and need little supplementation and everything would come up roses. But, reality struck and we moved a couple times and the milking didn't start happening until we got settled up here. Betty was almost dry at that point and it was hardly worth the trouble to milk her for the tiny, tiny little bit of milk I was able to get each morning.

So, what we ended up with were some really, really expensive pets. And, since this is a farm, not a goat refuge, that's just not practical.

Now our little goat families live on a 300 acre farm with 60 some-odd other goats. And from what I could glean, the new owners have no problem with having a goat refuge and really expensive pets. So, all's well that ends well, especially for the goats. They'll be much happier and much healthier with all that room to roam.

(And it's gonna be A LOT quieter around here...which isn't a bad thing!)

Since I didn't get nostalgic and sentimental when B and I made the decision to sell, I figure I can get kind of sappy now and post a couple photos of our very first goat, the one who started all this nonsense and get sad.


This is Ernest.





Yes, he's a buck. And yes, he freaked me out at first, but only because I get freaked out easily. He was a sweetheart and a ham.

Hopefully, next time we try our hand at goats, we'll get as lucky as we got this time. Ours were wonderful, gentle, sweethearts and I couldn't have asked for a better group of animals to introduce me to goat raising.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Controversial Post

I've been wanting to write this post for some time now, but I've been having issues with how exactly to say what I want to say. I could come off sounding like a real ass, but I don't want to mince words either. I want to talk about "green"and the "green revolution" and how I think it's kinda BS.

Let me start by saying that B and I are not "green". Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! Hang on and let me explain and please withhold judgement (or criticism) until the end. Now, when I say we're not green, that doesn't mean that we don't care. We do care. Very much. But, we don't live our lives around being "green". I drive a twenty-five year old truck that gets 12 miles per gallon for cryin' out loud. I'm not a recycling nazi. I don't take reusable bags to the grocery store. I don't visit the farmer's market to buy locally grown produce. And, I don't, don't, don't, absolutely do not buy "green" products that are marked up to three times the price of their evil, world-hating, environment-ruining counterparts. And, get ready for this, my garden is not organic. I know! I'm evil! The ruination of our fragile ecosystem rests squarely upon my selfish, world-hating shoulders. How do I sleep at night?

Those are the things I don't do. Here are the things I do on a regular basis.

I save water. I live in an earth-bermed house. I rarely use the air conditioner. I rarely drive. I hand wash and line dry laundry. I make my own cleaning products and toiletries. I grow and preserve my own food. I reuse plastic containers. I hand wash dishes. I don't turn on lights until it gets dark. I cook from scratch. I compost. I raise livestock.

And, do you know why I do those things, for the most part? Because I'm trying to live a frugal, simple, responsible, independent life.

I save water because if I don't, our well might run dry. I don't drain the tub after baths or showers and use that water for plants (decorative, not edible). I save every drip from every faucet. And I don't flush the toilet unless it's...necessary.

I live in an earth-bermed house because it's amazingly energy efficient. It stays cool with just fans and it faces southeast, so I get a ton of natural light.

I don't drive often because I don't need to. I have everything I need here. What I don't have, I either try to make, or wait until I need other things and run all my errands at once. I have a 25 yr old Blazer because we were able to pay for it in cash and it makes sense to have a 4x4 up here. It's practical for our lifestyle and location.

I hand wash and line dry laundry to save water and electricity. I make my own laundry detergent because it's unbelievably less expensive and I can reuse the container. I make dish detergent as well for the same reason. Same with shampoo and conditioner, face wash, and lotion. And, bonus to being cheap, I know exactly what I'm putting on my body.

In my day-to-day, I do some "green" stuff. But not because it's green. I'm not going to go down the list and explain the why's behind all the little things. I hope that most of it is pretty self-explanatory. I will, however, explain the why behind the whole deal.

When we decided to move up here, being green was the furthest thing from our minds. Our goal, in living this life and making the choices we make, is, really, our attempt to stick it to the man. We don't want to be dependent. We don't want our choices to be limited by what some faceless corporation decides is most cost-effective for them. We don't want to beg at the door of Proctor and Gamble or Monsanto. We want to live on our own terms. If by using vinegar and water to clean my windows and counters (and pretty much everything else...vinegar is one of the most useful things ever), I can take a few dollars from the pocket of Proctor and Gamble, then hell yeah. If I can save seeds and grow my own food and tell Monsanto and Conagra to shove it, why wouldn't I? If I can turn off my lights and my air conditioner and depend less on "The Grid"...it seems like a no-brainer. All of these things just make sense to me. And yeah, I realize I'm a sellout in several ways. My truck for one. But, again, it's practical to have it.

And, I never even really thought about the "green" aspect of our choices until I found this random blog. The writer of this blog listed all the "green" things she did on a daily basis and challenged her readers to list their "green" accomplishments for the day, which, in and of itself, is a fine and noble thing. But the tone of it was...rather condescending and holier-than-thou. And it got me to thinkin'. Does this woman really think she's better because she recycles her Starbucks cup and goes to a gas station that has 10% ethanol in the gas? Does she feel somehow validated by taking her reusable bags to the grocery store and loading them up with over priced "green" cleaners? When did saving the environment become a contest? When did it become a notch in the bedpost of suburbanites everywhere? Doing those things are important, yes, I'm not arguing that they're not. It just seemed...contrived.

And, please, please, please, don't feel like I'm judging. I'm really, really not. I'm just puzzled. I think that people living purposefully is a wonderful thing. But, I also think this whole green revolution has kind of marginalized the reality of the situation. Corporations that pollute and contaminate and dump are profiting off of their "green" product lines and people are falling for it. That's the pickle. And by listing the things I listed at the beginning of this post, I wasn't doing what that blogger did. I'm not trying to get all "I'm better than you" because I do a, b, and c and you don't. I will never be the person who thinks you suck because you don't clean with vinegar or make lotion or hand wash laundry. People make their own choices and do what's best for their particular situation and it's neither my place nor my responsibility to judge those choices. I was just trying to illustrate the main point of this post (which I seem to have drifted away from..I'll get back to it...hang on). I just don't get how other people DO feel justified in judging me or anyone else for our lack of "green" motivation. Those people get the finger just the same as the man, in my book.

So, yeah, wow. I kind of went off on a tangent. Suffice it to say, that when people decide to break their dependence on what we've come to think of as comfort, a whole slew of "greening" takes place. It's just a matter of deciding what's important. If sticking it to the man is important (and it should be!!!!!), then you will live a greener, less impactful life even if it's kind of by accident.

Grow your own food. Make your own stuff. Turn off your lights. Walk. Be green. But don't do it because you're trying to "out-green" the Joneses. Do it because you want to give the finger to the man and live on your own terms. If we all did that, we wouldn't have to try be "green", we just would be.

Whew. Sorry. Tomorrow, back to picking stuff and canning stuff and garden folly and humorous anecdotes about various two- and four-legged beasts.

And I'm really tempted to turn off comments for this post...but, just for kicks, we'll see what happens.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On Chiggers and Birthday Cakes

The celebratory midweek of the year is complete and I gotta tell ya, I don't have much to show for it. It was a splendid, fantastic week, but now I have more to do than I did before. B took last Thursday and Friday off work for the anniversary and anytime that man is home for more than just a weekend, we get really, really slack and really, really messy. My house looks like a crashpad for a group of people who use too many cups and never brush their dogs. So, while it was awesome having him home and just lazing about relaxing, it's time to get back to work for both of us.

We weren't totally slack though. We got maybe two or three things accomplished. B cleared the area where the new chicken pen will go, we built a proper tomato trellis for one little section of wildly sprawling plants, and I did some canning. Saturday morning, I was in the kitchen, preparing to put up some turkey stock when B called me on the walkie-talkie (yeah, we have walkie-talkies. Shut it. They're awesome.). The conversation went something like this:

"Harken unto me, Goodwife. If it would please you, present yourself to me forthwith and cast your gaze upon the wondrous treasure I behold."

"What nonsense is this, husband of mine? What treasure hast thou discovered? And must I look upon it now? My kettle is nigh boiling."

"Dear wife, you must come now. 'Tis a treasure like none other and demandeth our attentions. I daresay your heart will burst with regret should you choose otherwise."

"Very well then. Allow me to don my slippers and I will be at your side."

Ok. The conversation really didn't go like that at all. It was like this:

"Hey baby, you gotta come see this!!"

"What? I'm busy."

"You just gotta see it. You won't believe it."

"Fine. Lemme get some shoes."

And I trudged down the hill wondering what had him all worked up. Then, what to my wondering eyes doth appear? The biggest, most insane, most prolific, crazy-fullest blackberry patch I've ever seen in my life. Seriously. Gigantor.



That's just one part of it. The pictures really don't do it justice. All the places where you can kinda see something red? Those are blackberries. There must be thousands. It's gotta be twenty feet tall in places, and at least ten or twelve feet deep. And it just kept going! I've never seen anything like it. We spent roughly 45 minutes or so picking berries and got three quarts. The canes are simply loaded with unripe berries that we'll get over the next few weeks.

There's B, wading in deep, defying thorns and bugs alike, risking
life and limb for a chance at the big ones in the back.


Now, because neither of us were planning on doing any berry picking, we were dressed wholly inappropriately. "K," you may ask, "how can you be dressed inappropriately for berry picking? Such a mundane thing surely requires no special attire." HA! We dubbed these "danger-berries" when we were deep in the thicket. We were both wearing shorts, and since I had been in the kitchen barefoot, I tossed on a pair of Birkenstocks before I went down, and now, now, dear people, my legs look like some crazy samurai took to them with a tiny little sword. B and I were both cut and scratched to the point of bleeding when we finally exhausted the thicket. And, let's not even talk about the chiggers.

Nah, let's talk about the chiggers. They are evil and I must besmirch them at every opportunity. I don't know how many of you are familiar with that particular pest, but chiggers are pretty much omnipresent down here in the south. They are tiny, little bugs, that actually burrow into your skin and do something atrocious when they get in there. I'm not sure what it is, but it itches like nothing else. And you get these huge, nasty welts. So, suffice it say, neither B nor myself will be in the running for foot modeling anytime soon.

But oh, the bounty!! This kind of discovery makes me glad that I suck at yard work and never cleared that bramble. I was going to, I just never got around to it. Ah, fortuitous procrastination! I put up eleven jars of blackberry jam and still have a quart of berries in the fridge to deal with today. The jam...well...the flavor is REALLY good, but it didn't jell appropriately, so it's more like blackberry syrup with chunks of fruit. But,whatever, syrup's good. And, since we have SO MANY BERRIES, I'll be able to practice my jam and jelly making until it's perfect and gift-worthy. So, I hope you all like blackberries, cause that's what you're getting for Christmas.

In other news, remember last week on my birthday, when I said I was making a cake? And it would be ugly? I did. And, it is. I'm posting a photo of it so you guys can all get a little chuckle.


I never learned how to ice a cake. And apparently three layers does not a tall cake make. But it was delicious. Devil's food with vanilla buttercream icing. Ugly food DOES taste better!

Now, so you all know that beautiful, amazing cakes are indeed possible at home, I give you this:



I know, right? My poor little cake feels so inadequate now! Sister in law Shell made this cake for niece's birthday. Herself. In her own kitchen. Herself. Ridiculous. While her cake straight up embarrasses my cake (I can hear it calling names and pointing fingers up the page), it gives me hope that one day, I might be able to get my icing to go on smoothly!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who wants cake?!

Today is a glorious day. A momentous day. An all important, universally relevant, awe-inspiring day. Today is...

*drumroll*

My birthday.

*roar of the crowd*

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Not about the birthday part, that's true. But, whatever, it's really just Wednesday. When I was younger, I celebrated my birthday throughout the entire month of June. My birthday was the highlight of my year. The most important day ever. It was MY day and I could do whatever in the world I wanted, spend that 24 hours in whatever manner I chose. Now, though, age and responsibility and maybe even a bit of cynicism have lessened the all-encompassing importance of my birthday.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still gonna chill and do some K stuff today. But, I have chores and animals to tend and gardens to de-grass. After that stuff is done though, I'm totally making a birthday cake. And I'm going to eat most of it myself, preferably in one sitting. Then!! Yes, then, I'm going to have bacon for supper. Cause it's my birthday :)

This week actually has two special days. Tomorrow is an even more important day than today. Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the day that elemental forces collided, the stars aligned, heaven and earth sang out in perfect harmony and craziness ensued. Tomorrow is mine and B's tenth wedding anniversary. I know, right? Ten years? Insane. That's a long freaking time! But, it's been a great time. And who'da thunk that ten years later, after many bumps and twists and turns in our road, that we'd be up here, livin' the dream so to speak.

All that being said, I had another, probably controversial, post in mind for today. I may wait till later in the week, or you guys may get a twofer day. We'll see. After all, it's my birthday and I make the rules all day long!

Have a fantastic day everyone!