Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Son Is Coming Home!!!!

My son (our youngest and only boy) called this morning. He's in the states, he'll be flying into our "local" (closest airport - about 1 hr away) in about 4 hours!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our First Field is Done!!

This is how you get the hay from the wagon into the barn, for my regular readers (city-boy brothers ;-) who have no idea how things like this are done. It's called a hay elevator, of all things. It deposits the hay into the barn and the unlucky person who happens to be "catching" up in the loft gets to stack it. There's no air up there, and lots and lots of dust.
Notice you can see clear through the other side of the barn, this is NOT GOOD!! Usually this time of year there isn't room to even hardly climb around up there, and we're scrambling for places to put hay. We're filling up the bottom of the barn, and starting to pile hay on skids outside, to be covered up with a tarp and fed first. But not this year. It's not gonna be good!

And these bales are not the best either, they are scraggly (as a result of waiting this long to get baled) and weedy.
But our field is done, and here is The Mouth and Hubby showing how nice it is to be done with this particular field, one of our hardest.

This is the last time we will hay this field, we'll plow it under and plant corn for a few years, then plow it under again and plant a quality pasture mix. We never get a 2nd cutting out of this field, it's gotten that sparse and weedy, so it's time to rotate it out.

It rained hard last night, thunder, lightening and lost power for about 3 hours, but that's ok, I rise with the sun anyway so it's not like I depend on an alarm clock.

So tonight, there will be no haying (thanks to the miracles of modern technology we know ahead of time when to expect rain), but there will be some serious house cleaning, something that gets sorely neglected during haying season.

I'll also try to get out into the garden again, I've been on a mission to rid the world of zucchini, one plant at a time, but it is a veritable enemy. Well, not really an enemy, but last year I got enough to feed everyone in the county nothing but zucchini for 3-5 years, I don't need any more this year, I'd rather have the stuff it is trying to drown out (corn, beans, watermelon...), so I will get more of that done tonight, unless it rains again. (no, I didn't plant zucchini this year, but apparantly, left some out in the garden last year and it reseeded itself). And, since I had to hunt for a towel this morning to take a shower, I might consider doing some laundry, again, unless it rains....

Out here in the "old world" as my brothers like to call it, we depend an awful lot on the weather, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love this life (even if I hurt really bad right now).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Redneck Hay Truck!

This was a true Redneck move!! The last of our hay (that we got baled), the final 30 bales that wouldn't fit on the wagon, got sucessfully stacked on hubby's S-10. 30 bales! In the picture are hubby and The Mouth.
Another view, notice the S-10 is basically sitting almost on the ground! This truck has proven itself to be the ultimate farm truck, it will haul anything and keep on going. It doesn't even have four wheel drive, but it will go through just about anything! It's taught at least 3 of our kids how to drive a stick shift in a vehicle (they got the basics on the tractors, but in a truck it's a bit different) and the clutch is finally starting to wear out, but I have no doubt it will keep going for quite awhile yet. And when it dies, well, we have lots of spare parts to either build another truck or keep this one going for awhile!

The Mouth followed behind us as we drove from the hayfield to the barn, and she kept telling us that the load was leaning a bit, we didn't notice from the cab (which sounded like it was going to collapse in on us at any time), but when getting out and looking, this is what we saw.
I'm not sure how much further we would have made it, but we didn't lose a single bale.
We had to quit early, as the hay was not quite cured enough to really bale, but we wanted to get as much in the barn as possible last night as it's supposed to rain today. There is a bit left out on the field, if the rain will hold off until later tonight, we'll be gold!
Bad news though, by this time of year our barn should be full, fuller, and fullest, with hay still coming in, trying to find any available nook and cranny to stack it in, but not so this year! It is maybe only half filled. Not good! Because of the weather (lots of rain, and not enough good days in a row in between rains) hay is scarce this year, and even if there were extra available to buy, it would be soooo expensive that we just couldn't do it. We'll be scrambling through 2nd cutting just to get enough to fill our barn and also the guy we usually hay with. We need enough to feed 3 horses and 2 cows through the winter, approx 1500 bales, he needs much more than that as he's got 6 horses and 16 head of cattle.
This morning I can't even hardly move, or talk. The hay dust gets in your lungs (I'm sure it's not real good for you - at least it's natural, and not chemicalized and fertilized) and my 50 year old body just hurts everywhere, but we push on, in January when we have still at least 1/2 barn full of hay, it's nice to remember how hot, humid, sticky, grimy, grubby, and exhausted we felt in July and August just getting all of this done.
This year, once we have our primary field all cut and baled, we're going to plow it under and plant corn for a few years. This field is getting too weedy. The plowing under and planting corn for a few years will eliminate a lot of the weeds, and then we'll plow it under again and put in a regular pasture mix (and with the price of corn, we'll be able to not only trade or sell that for quality hay but we'll be able to raise up more cattle and pigs, which will make money too). I really do enjoy this time out on and under the tractors.... My hands look like they should belong to an ages old farmer, there's grease under my nails that won't come out, there's scratches and slivers from the hay, there's scuffs from slipping with the wrenches, there's calluses from continually lifting, pushing, pulling... not real lady-like, but I really don't care. I'd rather have hands that look like they've seen some hard time and able to do what I need them to do than hands that look like they just paraded out of the nail salon. And right now, hoo boy, do they look rough!

Monday, July 28, 2008

And What Did I See???

Went out to the barn and what did I see?

8 baby buk-buks staring back at me!!!

Well, in this picture you can only see one, but there were 8 (I think), with all the scurrying around, it was hard to get an accurate count. I had purposely left this hen alone, because it was just easier, she seemed to be a bit moody, when actually, she was broody ;-)

When I decided it was time to move her into the chicken pen with the rest of them, she growled at me! Then I found out why!

Now, I'll let her have free run of the barn and yard until her babies get a bit bigger, then I'll shoo them all into the pen.

I LOVE baby chickens!

I got quite a bit done in the "reclaiming the garden from the weeds" project and started, in earnest, ridding the world (or at least my world) of zucchini, one plant at a time. I didn't even plant this stuff! I planted a few seeds last year and got enough zucchini to feed the entire county for 10 years, I certainly didn't need to plant more this year, but it seems to be quite capable of rejuvenating itself. And while I was watching the beautiful Caribbean sunsets, and not my garden, it took over. And yes, it's taken me this long to get back to it. We also waged war on the burdock this weekend, they have a habit of taking over also.

Started haying for real Saturday. We had a straight shot of 4 good dry days, so we'll get as much done as possible. Last night it was still too wet to bale, (we did bale about 20 just to see) so we raked it, and I'm sure tonight, it will find it's way into the barn. I seem to have lost an incredible amount of muscle mass this past year, couldn't believe how heavy those bales that we did finish last night were, ugh, gonna be a long night.

But it's gotta get done, and during January, when it's 1000 degrees below zero, and the critters need extra hay to keep them warm, these days will be a nice memory.

Talked to hubby about our addition (no more critters, this is a small addition onto our house). He wants to enclose the fish tank, but yet keep it outside so if (when) it leaks again, the mess will be outside, so we're going to put an addition on that side of the house, and part of it will be for my greenhouse! Can you say vine ripened tomatoes all winter long????? yum! Rabbit food! And, since it will be off the corner of the house where the woodstove is, we can open a few windows and let the woodstove heat it also. We've already got one nice window (huge Anderson windows about 10x8 foot) scrounged for just this purpose. We have the logs for the outside, and we have extra lumber sawed out for the framing.

Another thing off the scrounge list? Hubby managed to procure enough tin to finish the roof! This was left over from another job one of his construction buddies did and he got it for pennies on the dollar. Not the right color, but the price was right, so as soon as we're done with this round of hay, guess what? Yup! Back up on the roof, that will be NICE to have that little job done!

Still looking for leftover eaves and downspouts at auctions... (hey, baby brother, you just put new siding on your house, got any leftovers? You can ship them to me with the fishies!). I want to collect rain and snowmelt off the roof of the barn, chicken coop and house for watering the critters and gardens, it seems a shame to let all of that water just soak into the ground, when we could be storing it for when we need it.

Lots of projects and where in the heck did July go???

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Got Nothing!

I have nothing for you today! Nothing! nothing exciting happened (except for that my laundry hanging on the line finally dried, but I didn't get it off and it's supposed to rain, so scratch that!).
My chickens continue to be escape artists and find their way out of the pen, so that's nothing new. I think I know where they're getting out though, it's somewhere around the pen.

And the best..... NOTHING is scheduled for this weekend. This might not be a good thing being as how the hay supply is far short of where it should be this time of year.

Normally, we'd be scrounging for a spot to stack all of the hay, moving and restacking just to fit 50 more bales. But not this year. We haven't had 3 or 4 days without rain all summer (well, except for the week that I was on vacation and not around anyway).

Hubby's been scouring the county (I personally think it's an excuse to ride his motorcycle and visit all his good old boys) in search of anyone who has extra hay that we can buy. Not good, he's coming up empty.

Cherries should be in, so I'll hopefully get a couple of flats of those this weekend and put them in the freezer. Then, some cold winter weekend, I'll dig out the strawberries, rhubarb, cherries, and whatever else I stash between now and then and make all of my jams and syrups. YUM!

So basically, this weekend is FREE!!!

Now I need to make a list. An outdoor list, and an indoor list (in case it rains). In any case my son's room needs to be vacuummed and dusted - he's flying out of Baghdad tomorrow! Yipee!!!

I need to fix his sign. I have a really cool sign in my yard that says "Home of a Soldier", need to spruce it up and get out the yellow ribbons. That will be first on either list, it needs to be done anyway.

The garden desperately needs to be hoed, or in this particular case, rototilled between the rows. Have to stake up more tomato plants.......

Got work to do in the barn and chicken coop, hey, I found an egg in the chicken coop yesterday, which lays to rest the "I don't know how to get from the pen into the coop" look I get from my birdies.

Still have a baby buk buk who thinks he's a cow, but that's ok for now.

Maybe I'll try to find my mower, although I'm trying really hard to not use any more gas than necessary. I've been pulling weeds for the chix and using my push motor (the old fashioned kind that doesn't use a motor), but it just won't go through some of those weeds!

And... I need to finish up my stealth knitting project. My knitting time really decreases during hockey's off season!

So that's how I spend a weekend off..... planning and making lists, and actually getting quite a bit done! Gotta do it now though, who knows, if the weather turns we'll be haying the rest of the summer with not a second to spare!
I really do love this life, but once in awhile..... oh forget it, I just got back from a week of margaritas on the beach vacation.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Introducing You To More Of Our Critters

Don't think I've ever mentioned this before, but hubby collects fish. Well, actually he collects aquariums. I don't think he's ever bought a new one, he just scarfs them up at resale shops, garage sales, and junk heaps. Ironically, they usually leak. Go figure!
Like the time I got new hardwood floors because his 225 gallon aquarium decided to gush all over the carpets and linoleum.
You gotta look on the bright side here, I probably would never have gotten my hardwood floors had this not happened and the insurance company written me a nice little check for the damage.
So, back to the aquariums.....
This is the latest, it's just your standard 20 gal or so aquarium, filled with the usual sand, shells, rocks, shotgun shells.... you know, an aquarium, oh yeah, it has fish in it too.
Recently it sprung a leak. Imagine that! Didn't see that coming!
And if you'll notice the towel hanging off of the left side, you can imagine that it's wet. Always.
And getting wetter. Faster.
Soooooo... here's the plan.....
I refer you to the aquarium at the bottom. Another of our his aquariums, also with a slow leak, but not as fast as the bigger one below, so.....

Tonight I will take out the one fish in the big aquarium (aprox 150 gals) that will eat littler fish and put him in the pond. He's a bullhead, I don't think he'll care.
I will transfer the contents of smaller leaky aquarium into bigger less leaky aquarium, and all of this will take 30 mins 3 hours tops!

How hard can it be?

In the chicken pen.....
Most of them are in!! I put a top on it last night, just as a trial, to see where they needed to be, and all that got put in are still in, so tonight, after my fun aquarium switching out, I'll make that a little nicer to look at.
I mean, snow fence in N. Mich is a given, but bright orange, on top of a chicken pen? Now that's just ridiculous!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Enjoy the moment! - caution DEEP

Life is all about stress. And anxiety. And overscheduling. And sometimes there's nothing to be done about it. Sure, someone can sit back and say, "Well, you really don't need to be doing that (or this or the other thing)", but in my mind there really isn't anything that can be let go... except..... the future.

This rather deep thought came to me last night as I was riding my motorcycle home, after work, in the rain. With the hard rain pelting my skin and face and feeling like hail, I decided to enjoy it. I might never ever ride again. Pretty unlikely, as that's my favorite mode of transport, but what if it did happen? What if the last ride I ever did was just endured, in my haste to get out of the rain, to get home. Or, what if it was enjoyed, and relished, and laughed at (a kind of "bring it on" type of mentality).

This is a big problem for me. I feel like I need to enjoy the journey more and forget about the destination and what I'll do when I get there. I think all of us do.

So, rather than fret and stew because it's raining really hard and the chicken coop won't get worked on, like I planned, I'll just enjoy the rain. It was really a soft, warm rain (just not out on the bike..), and it's not like it was 35 deg. And sure, my laundry was wetter when I got home than it was when I hung it out that morning, but you know what? It will dry! The chickens won't perish because I can't keep them in their pen. The garden will grow despite the weeds, but what won't happen is ever getting this day back again. It's gone. Kaput! Never to be relived, so live it while it's here. Or enjoy the moment, no matter what it brings. Or the best yet...just smile and let it go!

I struggle on a daily basis with depression and even more than that, anxiety. I am constantly trying to put a lid on this bubbling pot and keep it under control. And, because I really really really don't want that pot (and myself) to blow apart, I'm always aware of the little things that trigger this, ever under the surface, anxiety.

Right now, it's about money. In 5 mins it will be something else. I figure if I get good enough at talking myself down, then eventually it will become a habit, much like worrying about everything and everybody has become.

Just let it go and smile! Small words, big task, but I will win! Bring it!!

On a bit of a cuter note, I wrote yesterday about my baby buk-buk thinking it's a cow and roosting on the back of the calves, I took a picture and here it is! Too cute!!
And it's things like this that can make me smile, enjoy the moment, and truly relax!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Update on "Stuff" (which is a technical term)

First of all, Mexico was awesome. My family reunion was awesome. The Caribbean was awesome. Diving was awesome. Um, yeah, you could say I had a great time!
Except for the fact that hubby, who's allergic to bees, took a nasty bite from some sort of tropical jungle insect. His legs swelled up and got all blotchy and rashy. Still not looking too good. He seriously spent 3 days when he could hardly walk, but he's a trooper. He managed to hold down a beach chair, AND consume a fair amount of Bud Light! What a guy!
Still doesn't look good but he won't even consider going to the doctor. I've been rubbing it night and morning with antibiotic cream and aloe, and massaging to get the circulation going so the bloodstream can do it's job and get rid of the toxins. It's less tender, and seems to be receding a bit, but if it's not getting steadily better, I'll pull rank on him and take him in.

When I got back.... ugh. Life sure has a way of reminding you when you've checked out for awhile that it expects some form of payback.

Like... weeds overtook my garden. I HAVE to get out there and find stuff. The only hope I have is that I still remember where I planted stuff. Tonight I'll try to find my peppers and weed them and replant my aloe. That's it for the garden. Baby steps, if I keep it to one or two things, it's not so overwhelming.

All of my chickens decided to escape out of the really cool pen I built, so I'll have to do a bit of renovating. Tonight, I'll do that too. Shouldn't take real long.

The Bu-Dawgh is suffering from extreme separation anxiety. He is shar-pei, apparantly that's one of their wonderful traits, that they're completely loyal to their person/family. So much so that he feels my lap is the best place in the world to be. Also, right under my feet is a good spot, especially if I'm trying to walk from one room to the other. He's not going too far from me right now. 10 days in the kennel probably about did him in. (between you and me, he survived, but I can't afford to be that glib with him - it would destroy his fragile self esteem - we do have to pamper our 4 footed babies!).

All of my other critters survived also, with self esteem in tact, except my one baby chicken who thinks he's a cow. He/she lives in with the calves, roosts on one of their backs, eats with them, naps with them. Leave it to me to come up with something like that. Maybe I should have gone into cross breeding and genetic research as a career. Imagine, a critter that tastes like a chicken and has as much meat on it as a cow! My luck, other way around. Either way, I guess..... I'm going to have to break it to him slowly that he is, in fact, a chicken and as soon as the pen is escape proof and the others quit picking on him, he's gonna have to go live in the coop with his own kind. Likely he'll need therapy. I don't see any way around it, but he's gonna have to adjust. Life's rough, get a helmet, stuff like that.

Knitting...... can't tell you. I'm almost done with a stealth project so I can't go into too much detail, but I can show you some pics. The only reason I can't go into much detail is because it's a gift and the giftee reads this once in awhile.
But here is the whole mess:
In all it's shimmery pinky and silvery goodness.... double strands of leftover (my favorite) bulky yarns, and knit on 11 and 13's. Very quick, it's quickly becoming my quick to knit ________ item.
Almost done!
Gonna have to ride my bike to work today, my car broke. Yup, the egg finally cracked! Hubby needs to take the motor out to do something or other to it, I realize that I know a lot more about vehicles than a lot of people do, however, I also know a lot less that he does. He'll fix it, in the meantime, I can walk or ride depending on time constraints.
And the best news of all... my son is on his way home from Iraq! It's only a short leave, and I won't see him again for another year, but I'll make the best of this week. Don't have a for-sure date yet, apparantly, when they fly "space available" it's a crap shoot. Luckily, his leave won't start until he hits the states. I do know he's on his way, left Baghdad yesterday!
Woo Hoo!!!!!
Gotta go, get ready for work and all that, got a big project there that needs all my attention too! Bring it on, I can take it!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mexico is Hot as H*&&^^^ BUT IT ROCKS!!

Let me set the scene. Sitting on the beach of the Caribbean off the Yucatan Peninsula. Sleeping in a hammock. Drinking Corona's and Margaritas until, well, you gotta drink something, and they always tell you not to drink the water. (This doesn't include snorkeling, diving past the top of the snorkel and inhaling/swallowing a big gulp of sea water). So ya gotta drink something, and I always say, when in Mexico, do as the Mexico-ans and that translates into Corona and Margaritas.
It hot. Really hot. Hotter than hot, actually, it's pretty far off of the hot scale. And humid. Never saw that coming! Go figure, a place that is hotter than hot and has a constant trade wind blowing, and happens to be close to a hole lotta water would be humid!
But the water is great, and surf is waaay fun. We've been out past the breakwater in kayaks, because they told us it was too dangerous. Had to do that one 4 or 5 times, just because.
The breakwater is part of the 2nd longest reef system in the world, home to lots and lots of pretty fishies!
We had an authentic Mayan dinner, prepared by real Mayan Indians. It was pretty good, nothing special, although that's nothing against the delightful people that prepared this meal.
We've been snorkeling all throughout the bay almost non-stop, and hubby found a spot to go fishing.
Later this week, we're going diving, diving on these reefs, in the Caribbean is awesome. you can see forever, the colors of the corals and fish are amazing, and the water is warm. Last time we went diving down here we saw dolphins, maybe this time we'll be as lucky.
I'm sure, at home, the Bu-Dawgh is having some separation anxiety issues, but he'll survive another week, I hope.
At any rate, here is a picture of where I intend to be later this week:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mailbox Drama Resolved!

Regarding yesterday's Mailbox Drama! All is well, all is good, no bail was required, no security had to be called, the issue was "tabled". Just one little guy stood up against the big bad county government.
Oh, they had pictures of our "insubordination" hanging on the walls. Lots of them, from every angle. Hubby stood his ground, and even went so far as to offer to ride around the county and make notes of "violations" of their ordinances, so they wouldn't have to take precious tax dollars to do it themselves. He offered to put up the old mailboxes, in all of their disrepair along with a handwritten sign - something to the effect of "this is your tax dollars at work". And, he offered to take them all out, one by one and show them why some of their own mailboxes didn't meet their own ordinances. Every bit of nonsense they offered was met by a counteroffer, he's so good, he should be a politician! I'd vote for him! He even went so far as to ask why we were being singled out. When told that they weren't singling us out, he wondered why he was the only one there complaining, and our mailboxes were the only ones that had pictures hanging on the wall. They couldn't really disagree with that!
They also couldn't disagree with the fact that everything that stated on their ordinance website we were in compliance with.
About 45 mins into this nonsense, the commissioner decided that this wasn't really "a can of worms we want to open" and declared the issue "tabled". This could mean one of two things, either it's "not a can of worms we want to open" (at all), or they need time to figure out a different way to make us comply.

See, one person can make a difference, all you have to do is be willing to stand your ground!

Tomorrow, we leave on vacation, I have so much to do. Ugh, at least the farm will be covered, and I've learned from previous experience that my job will not fall apart if I leave it for a week.

Poor Bu-Dawgh, though. He will have to go to the kennel. For a whole week. He will be devastated. Will probably have to start him on Prozac when he gets home! But tonight, he needs a bath. That's always fun, at least it's warm out and I can do this via the hose, rather than in the bathtub.

Got to get to work, later gator, or as they say in Mexico..... well, I don't really know what they say in Mexico, but I'm gonna find out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mailbox Drama!

First of all, set yourself up for the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard!

Are ya ready?

Let me set the scene. We live at the end of a private road, zoned residential. A few years ago, well maybe like 10 or so, our zoning board decided to "enforce" a few of their ordinances like number of animals per acre, unlisenced vehicles, number of storage sheds, stuff like that. Again, we're at the end of a private road, like 3/4 mile back in the woods where in order to "see" all of the treasures that we hoard in order to live a more self sufficient lifestyle, you'd actually have to drive back there and look!! It would have to be intentional, such as someone who is looking for a reason to create a problem. (Don't ya love people who just look for reasons to be unhappy?).

So, here we are with our farm, on our 26 acres (6 owned, and 20 adjacent leased) minding our own business in a residential zone.

Someone decides that they don't have anything better to do than cause problems, so we end up in a zoning dispute. No problem, we are bordered by farms, and agricultural zoned property, and we meet the criteria, so after a few raindances and jumping through of hoops, we have our property rezoned to be agricultural. Hmmm, amazingly, a lot of the problems went away.

Now, the latest......

Seeing as how we live technically in a subdivision, while at the same time we are a farm, we all have our mailboxes at the end of our private drive. They used to be all different heights, different lengths, a mixed up cluster of, well, mailboxes. I'm sure you've seen it. No problem, not the prettiest, but who in the h^&*&**I#$%$ cares? It's in the country, everyone's mailbox looks like that!

Well, one of our neighbors takes it apon himself to "pretty things up", bought 4x4's, and built a very nice, stable, even pretty mailbox post for all of our boxes. Planted flowers between the boxes, stabilized it, made it look very nice. Take a look:

I mean seriously, who could not see this as a vast improvement over the cluster of mailboxes usually found all over the country?

Well, apparantly our Road Commision is who! First they told us the side posts were too high, a safety violation, ok, we'll cut them off, no problem.

Then it was the metal plant hangers on the ends, ok then, I guess we can eliminate them, and the latest, there are only to be 2 mailboxes per post along with the paper boxes, it's an ordinance, a law, and for heaven's sake, we can't go against the Road Commission's "ordinances".

Well, I've never been real good at math, but if you count real close you can count 6 mailboxes, and if you count real close again, you can count 3 posts. Hmmmmm. Never mind.

Another shot at this gross violation of our ordinances (picture taken from behind, obviously, as I drove out of our drive onto the main road):

Just awful, I've never seen anything worse. Maybe it's the combination of the pink and yellow flowers. That must be it.

Stay tuned... hubby will be at the Road Commission meeting this morning, and at this point, he's the one looking for a fight!

PS: Don't ya have a pot hole to fill somewhere???

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Baby Buk Buk Condo!

Worked some more on the Chicken Coop (aka.. baby buk buk condo) last night. It's almost done!! You might ask why it's taken soooo long to accomplish this. Well, for one, this time I wanted it done RIGHT (as opposed to "cobbled"). And, I had to scrounge for materials. The actual condo itself (frame) was an anniversary present from hubby (how romantic is that?? ) We scrounged for roofing tin, actually, the only thing that was purchased for this specific project was the screws. How cool is that??

So, last night, the front and back doors went on (again, $0.00 cost) from hinges left over from other projects. The mosquitos (Michigan's state bird) were out in force last night so we called it quits a bit early. Don't have electricity run out there yet, so there weren't any lights either.

Tonight.... finish the trap door. Then, it's done!! I'm so excited (we've already been over how exciting my life is).
I have a few other excuses also, as to why this project has taken a lot longer than I wanted it to (beside the full time job thing, and the garden):
Exhibit A:

A new roof for our cabin! The backside is done! Cost: approx 45.00 (for the roofing nails). The tin was left over from the barn, I'm not crazy about the color, but for the 45.00 that the back side of the roof cost us, I put another $100.00 to it and bought barn tin paint. Closer to winter (when it's not 950 degrees up there) I'll take a power washer, sander and paint sprayer up there and do the hunter green that I want.

The front side will have to wait as we're almost out of leftover tin. We can buy what we need but at the end of the season, there will be "giveaways", free for the "come and get it", which is how we got all of this in the first place.

Here are a few other pictures of the reasons it takes me sooo long to accomplish anything!

From left to right:

Mike (Mike McMustang - branded mustang, captured from Nevada) Sierra or Si (Sierra's Mercedes Benze - branded mustang, captured from Wyoming), and Jake (welsh pony and arabian cross)

And 2 of my calves, appropriately named Salt and Pepper, although, not like you'd expect!
Left is salt and right is pepper.

And, in one week, this will be ME down in the Caribbean!!!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tractor Zen

So, I'm out baling hay, which is fairly relaxing in itself. The sun is shining (950 degrees), the birds are singing (which can't be heard above the sound of the baler), the breeze is blowing (a hot humid sticky breeze). It's relaxing. It's where I love to be. And I hit a rock. My bad, should have been watching. Oh, yeah, I was. Watching behind me, making sure the baler was actually scooping up the hay like it's supposed to do. Every now and then something happens to "wake me up" so to speak. Like a rock, or a tree. There's nothing like being totally mesmerized by the rhythmic sounds of the baler crunching up dried grass and spitting it out the other end, when WHACK! All of a sudden I'm swatted with a branch. No big, just a pine tree, and a white pine at that, you know, the ones with long long soft pine needles? They don't hurt, they just serve to wake me up and shake me from my zen-like trance. But it is enjoyable, even if every muscle and every joint in my body is just burning this morning. Things aren't moving quite as well as they did when I was a few years younger.

What else did I do over the long weekend? Well, first of all, I officially became a 50 year old! And the same day, I got my first AARP card in the mail. WTF????? NO. I REFUSE! (Can you refuse stuff like that?)

Of course, we did the obligatory parade and fireworks on the 4th. We have a HUGE hill by where we live and you can see the town fireworks, all the country people who light them off, the small towns around, it's like a 360 degree display. Quite Cool!

A friend and I took off for Traverse (west coast) on Saturday to get fresh cherries. We found that they were still about 1-2 weeks out, but they did have lots and lots and lots of strawberries and asparagus. So, loaded up and then we hit the local yarn shop, well, because you have to do that. I can't very well recommend that particular shop if I've never been in there to drool and pet or, touch and aah and ooh over the yarns.

As with any foray into Farmer's Market territory, there is the results of that foray to be dealt with. That afternoon I put 48 cups of crushed berries and close to 25 lbs of asparagus into the freezer. The berries will be turned into jam, but not until a cold crisp autumn or winter weekend, when I have cherries, and peaches to add to them. I'll dig out the rhubarb too, then all the jam will be done in one day rather than in fits and starts.

Got most of the garden weeded and my "over the winter" lettuces started. I found the coolest rainbow swiss chard. Can't beat a good garden fresh salad in January. Also planted some cabbage seeds to winter over and make kraut, yum!!
Got a lot of hay put into both barns, worked on the chicken coop, got all the nesting boxes built and perches put up, still have to put netting up on the inside and cut a "trap door".
Tonight? Blessed rain! So, I'll finally get some inside work done, you know, like dishes, floors, laundry folded, stuff like that! And gasp.. maybe some knitting!! Probably not, my wrists and hands are trashed from haying.
Someone who now is famous, coined a phrase, I'm sure you've heard of it: Life Is Good. And it is!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Results of Taking a Day Off!

This is what I accomplished on my 2 days off (the pen, not the coop itself):
This pen cost me NOTHING!! It was all scrounged from stuff found around the farm.
I doubled and tripled up on the fencing, weaving it back and forth because I didn't want to cut it, in case if we ever put a larger pen in, I'll still have longer lengths of fencing.
The gate is an old pallet, with hinges that I found left over from another project.
The tarp is for cover from the rain and sun until I get the coop done.
The pen is 20x10. The only thing left to do is put a top on it (the birds keep flying out) and to finish burying the bottom of the fence along the back wall (to keep other critters out)
Then it will be done (after I clean up the "leftovers", and I can finish the coop (an anniversary present from hubby!). I'm excited, this is really the first time I've had an "official" area for my chickens and turkeys.
Along the front of the pen, I transplanted my chives seedlings, the area gets full sun and they should do well there. I also planted some lemon basil seeds.
The turkey feathers, along with all of the chicken feathers are a result of wing clipping to try to keep them in the pen, it didn't work, it will need a top.

I have to get the rototiller back in the garden. With all the rain, and trying to get this pen done before we leave for our vacation, the weeds have taken over. There's nothing yet to be harvested, but the weeds do need to be eliminated.
So, before we leave IN ONE WEEK (diving and family reunion in Mexico)!!!! I'll get the chicken coop done, the pen covered and the garden de-weeded.
When I get back it will need to be done all over again!
We currently have a house resident (one of our "kids") who is staying with us, she'll take care of the farm while we're gone. It's so nice to have kids that know how to run a farm, so we can get away once in awhile. There isn't any of our kids who couldn't keep the farm running, summer or winter, keep the house warm, start up the generator if we lose power, or basically just take care of stuff if we need them too, that's a big security thing! These kids definitely have survival skills! Which is a great comfort with what the economy is doing to us.
Now, to see how well The Mouth does at "the touching up of the roots" before we leave! They seem to be growing out and not looking quite so summery as they did before. I had hoped that the summer highlights would kick in by now, but not so much. Oh well, it will be another blonding episode!
Thinking now, with the chickens penned up I'm going to need to maybe find another barn cat or two, I'm thinking the snakes will start to show up. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sequences = A Comedy of Errors, AKA.. Knowing When To Say When!

I've written about my sequences before. For some reason the steps that it takes to accomplish the simplest task sometimes takes a whole lot longer than what it should.

Let me set the stage.

1. I can either walk to work, ride my bike, or drive my car. Let's review the process here:
A. The Bu-Dawgh will be alone all day and we're haying tonight so I can either

1. Drive my car or 2. Walk with Bu-Dawgh (an adventure in itself!).

B. I have plants to take to my Dad so based on this and the above I decide to drive my car.

Ok, that decision is made, and wow! It only took about 10 minutes of reasoning to get there, a personal record I do believe!

So, we're driving to work, the decision has been made.
Here's the steps (sequences to get to work)
1. Load up the car with Bu-Dawgh, all the plants plus a load of garbage for the dumpster.
2. Get in car.
3. Remember that I forgot to remember all my "stuff"
4. Go back to get the rest of my stuff.
5. Get in car.
6. Car won't start.
7. Try to find jumper cables, which weren't put back last time they were used, hmmmm, imagine that!
8. Find another set in hubby's truck.
9. Hook up jumper cables to my car.
10. Get hubby's truck parked next to my car.
11. Hubby's hood won't open.
12. Put hubby's truck back out of the way and go to get my truck.
13. My truck's hood won't open.
14. Sigh, back to the house for another cup of coffee, and seriously consider working from home.
15. Get back in my truck and drive my truck up and down the road over the bumps at a higher than recommended rate of speed until the hood latch pops.
16. Drive back to my car (realizing by now that I have used in gas, what I would have used anyway just driving to work with my truck, but no matter, it's not a simple thing, we have to make it harder than it is!)
17. Open hood of truck and proceed to jump car.
18. Car starts.
19. Put truck back out of the way.
20. Get in car.
21. Shut door.
22. Try to put on seat belt.
23. Open door to release seat belt.
24. Close door and proceed to drive to work, making a mental note to drop Webster a line about all the new cuss words I've invented this morning.
25. Get to work to discover I'm the first one there and am locked out.
26. Reconsider driving back home and going back to bed, but realize that there is indeed someone there, they just forgot to unlock the door.
And we are now at work.

So, to recap, I actually made it to work, which in itself, seemed to be a major accomplishment, I suppose the rest of the day will be a crap shoot!

Sunday we finally offed the rooster. This was a not-nice rooster. He attacks, and not just to protect his hens, but just because he is (was) one of those psycho manic animals we seem to attract. So last night, the "roo-stew" over homemade biscuits was just yummy! And it was very satisfying to finally put an end to that little drama. However, the actual "doing of the deed" as it were would have made for a very good 1/2 hour sitcom, it's a shame that NBC wasn't there to videotape that little production! Because as it is in my life, nothing is as it should be, but it's all real interesting!

Yesterday I took the day off to work on my chicken pen. I got a lot done, LOTS. I would have finished it except for that my life is not just about chicken pens, and other stuff had to happen, so I suppose that all in all, having a super productive day yesterday just paved the road to having a 1 step sideways and 4 steps backwards day today! A day in the life and all that....... Murphy's Law prevailed!

Tonight we're haying. I'm probably not going to go near any of the tractors, I just don't want that on my conscience, so I'll ride the wagon and stack hay hoping that the wheels don't fall off or the axles break or something (all of which has actually happened - I'm waiting for the day that they fire me, except for that they're my horses, so it's assumed that I will at least try to help). It's all good! As long as we don't push our limits.

I'm sure the rest of my day will be as eventful as the beginning, I'll be sure to take notes, noone would believe me if I didn't!