Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ambition Strikes Again - And This Time, On A Saturday!

So... yesterday I got a streak of ambition. I hate when that happens, it almost always means more work for me. First off, I made a list. This is usually a good start and almost ensures that I have procrastinated long enough to knock at least a few things off of The List.

When ambition strikes me, I always try to get myself to do the most objectionable chores first. Then, as I work my way down the remaining items, it doesn't seem so bad.

This is going to be Farming 101 Boys and Girls, pay attention!

First on the list was to do the mid-winter clean out of the chicken coop. This really isn't as bad as it sounds as during the winter I do a deep litter method. Basically, you just throw a bale of hay or straw in there, fork it around a bit, making sure to scoop the good stuff off of the floor of the coop and mix it all up. Throw a bit of corn or grain in there, plus the hay seeds and the chickens will do the rest. This, as you can imagine, while composting, throws off a bit of heat for my little egg layers. The picture shown is not of my coop, it is one I stole off the internet, mine is more hay. I will do more in another week or so, when my arms are not yelling at me quite as bad as they are this morning.

Then, since for some reason, Michigan has not been privy to any snow this year, I did some yard clean up. We have a pile of bones, for the dogs and cats and birds. They are all of the deer that hubby got this year and all of the wildlife enjoys them. The birds will pick out bits of meat from between that the larger cats and dog can't get, when I let the chickens out of their run for the day, they are all over it, and everyone is happy. My lab/shepherd/Shar-pei/hot mess mix puppy is all happy too, as she gets to toss the bones in the air and then chase them. So, how does this relate to cleanup? All of the bones have to be retrieved from every conceivable spot in the barn, yard, under the decks and returned to their pile under the beech tree.

All of this forking of hay and chicken poo,
and cleaning up of bones only took about 1/2 hour so now what to do? Well, you take the puppy for a walk, or rather, you try to keep up with her as she romps through the woods. Hunting season is essentially over, so it's safe to be out there again. Shown here is said hot mess, 80 lbs of YIKES! But she's adorable and I am hers, so I guess she gets to stay. Plus she is an amazing cat herder, which is totally necessary, if only in her mind.

Next on the list, use another bale of hay to spread in the garden. This encourages worms and discourages weeds. I don't want to till, I think that tilling, especially in prime soil such as I have breaks up the organisms, cuts worms in half..... and creates a hard pan about 6" down. So, I compost. Of course, hubby has to be on board with this, which when it comes to my little farm, doesn't happen regularly. The saying, "Let me do the farm, you just keep my tractor running", doesn't play very well when he has the chance to jump on one of his big machines and play.

Don't even talk to me about the cukes, squash, pumpkins and watermelon plants I had last year that got "scraped up" so he could "make the ground even". Really? REALLY???? Make the ground even? You just wanted to play, and now you've "scraped" up all of my plants and taken out a whole row of onions.
See? Told you I wasn't over it yet. And besides if you want to "make the ground even", why do it AFTER I have planted the garden? Yeah, still not over it.

So, yeah, got more hay sprinkled down, which in the spring should be composted pretty well.

Next I came inside because it started to rain. Yes, I said rain. In Northern Michigan, in December and not even the really cool freezing rain/sleet stuff we sometimes get. It was flat out, rain! But it's a good time to get the fire going again (log cabin, don't need the wood stove going all the time in this weather as it heats so efficiently and the cabin holds heat really well...), put on a pot of tea, start dinner and break out the seeds! After all, I have to see what seeds I have ( I already know this, but it's still fun to do), make more lists about when to start what, what can go in the ground early, what needs to be started in the greenhouses before it can go out...(again, I know all of this but the List Compulsion) takes over. And see if there is anything new I want to grow this year. Yes, I will try sweet potatoes!

Then the big aquarium in the living room. This thing is huge and is the reason I finally got my wood floors. (big leak, lots of water, big insurance check = hardwood floors!) Change out some of the water, replace the filters and clean up the resulting mess. After that, although there were still lots of things on my list, I sat down to knit for awhile, took the partially cooked pork roast out of the crock pot and put it in the oven, planned the rest of dinner and collapsed. That's not really a lot of work in one day, but after all, it was a Saturday!

There are still a lot of things on my list, like wash the bathroom floor, but that can wait, because, one of my young grandsons is coming to stay a couple of days with me!

Life is Good!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sleep - It's Overrated!

So as I'm sitting here, waiting for sleep to wrap it's arms around me, I'm trying to reason this out.
The whole menopause thing in not such a bad deal once you get past the blazing fires of hell and the mood swings that leave you catapulting between Saturn and its Moons.
But the insomnia? That's a deal breaker!

It's 4:30 oclock in the morning. And I've been awake since 12:30, previously having been sleeping since 10. That's 2.5 hours. That's not enough. For anyone!

But there are some good points to this Eyeballs Won't Stay Closed thing. Let's explore them, shall we?
1. The house is quiet and I can hear the wind chimes on the front porch (which are clanking together pretty hard due to the gale force winds that are currently shaking my little world).
2. My internet service (satellite, because even if I had a million dollars a month to spend on internet, satellite is still all I could get) is at it's premium speed with no bandwidth limit.
3. Hello Netflix!
4. Even though the internet speed is at it's premium, the dish is hanging on for dear life out in the gale force winds that the wind chimes are currently singing about.
5. This makes for spotty internet.
6. I guess I could read.
7. Or play with the puppy.
8. But that would make noise, which would not make for a happy hubby.
9. Ugh!
10 I know, I will make lists! I love to make lists. Do it all the time. And dream of all the things that will get done once I put down my pencil and actually get up to do something!
11. I could go downstairs and try to clean something, but face it, unless you're one of those organizational wizard types, that's not  a lot of fun.
12. I could also play on Facebook. Oh, wait, already did that; bored.
13. I could read, or
14. I could put a couple more pieces of dead tree into the wood stove, call it good and crawl back into bed.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

Night all...

Life is good (mostly during the day, but unlimited internet rocks pretty high on the list too).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wintering Over Plants

It has occurred to me that I totally suck at over-wintering plants. Other than the seedlings that will inhabit the greenhouse around about February, my plants are really asked to do very little. Grace my home with natural greenery (or yellowery or brownery as it so happens), and freshen the air a bit. See, the air gets a bit dusty and stale from the wood stove....
When these plants spend the late spring and summer outside, they are subjected to balmy breezes, highly humid air (with lots of rain) and 16 or so hours of sunlight.
Then I bring them in because I can't stand the thought of them freezing outside and dying a long, slow death due to the severity of our winters.
So what so I do? Bring them in and subject them to bone dry air, temperature fluctuations of 50-1,0000000. (When the wood stove is blaring) and no rain to speak of.

Well, I could water them, but I forget....

So, overwintering plants doesn't work real well for me. There are a few hardy survivors. The Boston Fern that lives in the bathroom (not a lot of light, but plenty of moist air), and there's another big plant in there too, from my dad's funeral 4 years ago, that I don't remember the name of. Umbrella Tree? Don't know.

Then there is the Cinnamon Basil that I forgot to bring in, that is now encased in ice on the back deck, yeah, that one is a goner. The rest live in the kitchen and living room by windows, and the wood stove and have to live on meager rations of water and a once over with the vacuum cleaner to remove dead leaves. I'm just not good at it.

So what has been happening in the frozen North lately? Same old, same old, a lot of firewood has been cut, stacked, brought in, burned up, and brought back out in the form of ashes. This ash goes in the garden.

My chickens (numbering at 17) are hanging in there, fighting the good fight. In the winter, they don't lay a lot of eggs (like maybe 3 every 2 days), but if I have any hope of bringing more eggs into my life, they do need to be fed (and watered - these I do remember to water). That and once a week or so I let them out to roam in the yard. They find goodies under the deck and in the barn that supplement their feed. I get them game bird blocks, which is a large block of salt, minerals and seeds, corn, wheat... and they also get suet blocks to help with warding off the cold. That and water. Fresh water is pretty important to them in the winter.

Then there's the gals in my knitting club who regularly send home "scraps" for me to give them. I think my chickens like my knitting club better than they like me. That's ok, I can live with it.

They have finished their molting (the inside of the chicken shed looks like something was massacred and feathers are quite deep).

Back to my plants. They are fairly hardy, they don't ever die, just give up hope of ever seeing water again and go into some self induced hibernation. Anyone wanna volunteer to come water my plants?
And what's up with the aloe? Aloe is not supposed to grow in a zone 3 climate, but this thing thinks it can conquer the world! It needs to be re-potted (again), but it is already in a pot larger than what I can lift and it keeps reproducing. Probably has something to do with the dry, hot climate in the cabin. Yeah that's it. My cactus don't seem to mind my neglect either.

I should probably put "water plants" on my list....

Life is good.....

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What?? It's Been Almost A Year?

Update? Still homesteading, still knitting, still playing in the snow and loving life in Northern Michigan.
There have been a few changes in our lives.  We (hubby and I) lost our beloved Bu-Dawgh (8 years old) to cancer a couple of months ago. During one of his "I'll do anything to make your tears go away" moments, he set in place the procedure to procure me another dog.
Now here's the fun part. I have never in my life been without a dog. Also, I have never in my life picked out my own dog. They have all been "cast offs" or strays that wandered into our lives for whatever reason and found a home here. Much like the 12+ barn cats who currently eat all of our cat food.... but that's another story.
So... how to find a dog. We, of course, we started with the internet. That wonderful little tool that lets you find anything, at anytime, anywhere, whether you need it or not.
This is what I wanted.
  • A mature already housebroken dog
  • Medium to low energy dog
  • To wait awhile until Spring or maybe Summer.
This is what I got...
  • A Shar-pei (really? REALLY???) / Lab puppy. (not mature but mostly housebroken)
  • A crazy mixed up mess of energy (definitely NOT low or even medium energy)
  • Now.
She is a sweetheart, already spayed, already micro chipped and came with an assortment of vet checks, shots and vaccinations. She was 4.5 months old when we adopted her from a local shelter. The picture on the website said her name was "Bella". Her name is now Akita a.k.a "Kita". The picture on the website reached into my heart and wrapped it's furry little heart around mine and a couple of phone calls, applications for adoption filled out and miles later, she came home with me.

So, the new farm dog is Kita, complete with all of her puppiness, extra large feet, lab tail (if you have a lab, you are incredibly familiar with this term), fuzzy, snuggly, fur coat and of course, the obligatory big, brown eyes! Yup, she had me from day one. Actually, she had me from day -3, as it took that long to get her home.
She is good with the chickens, loves to chase the kitties, gets driven insane by the squirrels and loves all of the small humans that come her way. She's pretty good around large humans too. One flaw... when it comes to baths... the Shar-pei comes out. And she whines with the same separation anxiety that the Bu-Dawgh had and she also has the Shar-pei ears. Ok, that's more than one flaw. I can live with it.

Around the homestead, seeds have been started. In one of the "worst winters in decades", (I am more than decades old and I can remember worse ones), we are pummeled daily with more snow and "record breaking cold". Again, I can remember worse, but the folks who make their money getting you all worked up over the weather and how bad it is are quite a bit younger than I am.
Hubby found, at Tractor Supply, portable greenhouses, so now I have 2 of them living in my living room. They currently contain onions, tomatoes, peppers, parsley and hollyhocks. There will be more, this week, of the cabbage and onion flavor.

Got lots on the "to do" list for spring, the first being to fix the doors in my chicken coop, and get the fences fixed up so my girls have more room to roam.

Well, work beckons, because, without work, the homestead thing doesn't happen.

Life is Good!