Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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 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?