Thursday, June 23, 2016

This is a test...

I think it's official - I have lost my mind.  It's the ducks that did it.  With help from Norman and Slimbo.

Tuesday, I let the sheep out into the fenced area in the back - full of nice, tall grasses and weedy bits.  Wooba.  I did my duck/chicken chores and was getting ready to head in to take a shower and leave for the yob, when I caught sight of Norman - and his massively bloody hind leg.  I high-stepped it off the deck and out to their paddock and managed to get him to come to me by tempting him with a pan of grain.  I had grabbed a halter on my way out, so I was able to get him haltered and tied to the fence while I attempted to check his leg.    I couldn't tell where the wound was, but, from the amount of and color of blood, I figured he must have nicked an artery.  Holey moley.  I got a bucket of water and my canister of blood stop and managed to get some of his leg washed, most of my legs washed and emptied half the blood stop on the two of us. 

Back in to call my vet - who was solo and couldn't come.  He referred me to another vet and - thank my lucky stars - she turned out to be great.  But it took three hours for her to get to me.  In the meantime, I had a neighbor give me a hand so I could get a pressure bandage on his leg (note to self: do NOT put off restocking your livestock first aid kit) which consisted of an old bit of clean toweling wrapped with an ace bandage.  Then I stalked around the house and grounds, waiting, whining and contemplating the insanity of doing 'this' solo.  More fun and games were in store - I discovered my outdoor electrical outlet was dead.  Slimbo peed on the dog bed (a sign that something is amiss - another vet appointment was made).  My metal roofing was delivered in the middle of everything - that made two large checks I wrote that day.

Norman had, somehow, received a puncture wound that was just above an artery.  He was very good for the vet (not so much me) and we managed to get the wound cleaned out and packed and wrapped.  Tonight I need to get a neighbor back over to help me check and rewrap the leg.  I am going through my list of neighbors, trying to figure out which one I haven't used up...

I know this is a test.  However, I have never done well with tests.  No matter what, reality keeps popping up its ugly little head, and downsizing is in my near future.  Two of my female Ancona ducks, paired with two of my friend, Melanie's male Anconas, are up for sale.  I realized this morning that I have one too many sets of ducks - there will have to be a whittling down of the middle set (Cayugas) as they are the set adding the most work to my already-limited day.  They are not old enough to join the Anconas, but too old (large) to be in a brooder, so they have to be transported out to a pen every morning and back into their 'pool' inside every evening.  It's nuts.  I am, however, totally enamored of my baby ducks.  No whittling there.  I am seriously thinking of selling Norman - he's a dear but not an easy sheep for one person to handle.  But, there's his gorgeous fleece... Ach.

Anyone need a duck or six?  Mama Pea?  :)  I'm thinking of putting a disclaimer on this blog - "Warning!  Don't attempt this at home!"  Bring in the stunt double!  Minions needed!  Calgon ~ take me away!  :)

Monday, June 20, 2016


I have been feeding the feral barn cats (and hangers-on) at the empty farmhouse at the dairy up the road.  My farmer friend - god love him - puts out poison bait and cat food.  I told him it had to be one or the other and he chose the former.  So I supply the latter - well away from the barn.  For months, I have left a heap of dry kibble in a metal food dish and a can of food in a white plastic dish.  Months.  Last Friday, both were gone.  I hunted everywhere, to no avail.  So I used a pie tin for the kibble and a small, aluminum dish for the wet food.  Next morning - gone.  Hmmm.  I figured a raccoon had found it and was hauling away the dishes.  I would outsmart the sucker and retrieve the dishes before evening and then just bring them back in the morning.  Not.  They were gone in the afternoon.

This makes me think it is not a raccoon, as they are not broad daylight creatures (unless they are sick - rabid), but then they would not be interested in spiriting away my feeding dishes.  This is very frustrating, as I have to scramble around to find new vessels.  This morning I appeared with two replacement tin dishes and got permission to nail them to the porch.

If they are gone again, I am flummoxed.

Any ideas?

What? Monday already?

Even with an extra day off on Friday (unexpected), the weekend rocketed by.  We have been going through high summer weather again, with no rain.  This is stressful for everyone and everything.  My well is very deep (500 ft) but it accesses limited water.  That means that every drop counts.  This also means that I wasn't thinking deeply - if at all - when I added ducks to the mix.  I now have three thirsty sheep, a thirsty llama, a large flock of thirsty hens, a small clutch of thirsty chicklets, three thirsty dogs, two thirsty cats and 16 thirsty ducklings.  Oh - and there's the garden.  I have been relying heavily on my rain barrel for the sheep/llama/garden and as back-up for the ducks.  I am very, very careful with using my well.  If push comes to shove, I trot down to my dairy farmer's and fill up two five-gallon totes to supplement the ducks. 

My youngest sis was with me over Saturday night and into Sunday morning, and was a huge help in tackling a few projects - we repotted the fig tree and she cleared out a half-acre of weeds.  The garden is finally popping up in all the beds - except for the dratted carrots, which take forever - but the kale is making an appearance and the Romaine has finally got a root-hold.  I have to make a note to cut garlic scapes this week - I need to replenish my garlic scape pesto!

Over the weekend, neighbors (to whom I refer as my second set of parents) threw a BBQ for our family and a neighbor, and it was nice to be able to walk there.  After all the commuting, not having to get in the car - again - is such a delight.  I got feed, moved the sheep fence and rotated them around, vacuumed, cleaned the cat room, swept, cleaned bathrooms, cleaned waterers, cleaned the duck house, cleaned the middle ducks brooder, the little ducks brooder, and got the middies outside in a pen for some sunshine and green grass time.  I also put a slightly frantic call into my missing handyman, as it looks like Duck House #2 will need to be built sooner than expected.

The metal for my roof will arrive this week and I will begin to amass all the pieces/parts necessary for the roofing job.  I have the roofer I'd like to use - if I can afford him - all I need to do is to get everything needed and then figure out how to squeeze him into the budget.  It's times like these when I am very glad I worked on forging friendships with neighbors.  My dairy farmer neighbor deals with a fellow on a regular basis and was able to get the metal at a very good price.  He is also picking it up for me and delivering it (tonight).  My goal is to get it on before winter.  So I have lots of time, right?

Yesterday, I made Amish Mustard Eggs (thank you, Jaz!) and what has to be the best quiche I have ever made.  It was based on a Farmers Almanac recipe for Mexican quiche - I say based, as I had only a few of the ingredients listed and had to wing it.  OMG.  I had it for dinner last night and lunch today, and will have it for lunch tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  And I won't mind a bit.  I apologize for no pics, but will try to get a few to share tomorrow.

There is a very slight chance of rain tonight - but I am going to go home and water everything again.  Because I hope it's like Murphy's Law - spending hours watering your garden is a sure-fire way to make the rain fall.  Crossing toes, fingers, ankles and eyes.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Being born is exhausting work.

I came home to a peeping duckling, with three more on the way .  By 10 o'clock there were two blue Swedish, one Cayuga and a little cross.  When I lifted Little Eva to check on her little clutch, two eggs of the four eggs had pipped !  I'll be up to my elbows by day's end!

Where was I....?

Ran out of steam and daylight (the inside of my house is dim - or, as I prefer to put it, filled with mood lighting.  And the mood is dim...) so I did not photograph the items, but here are some of the most recent 'volunteers' in the Great Purge:

161- white lace t-shirt.  I thought it looked marvelous online.  But, on me, it looked...wrong.

162- blue (faded) mandarin collared cotton jacket.  This has got to be at least 15 years old!  I have held onto it (and worn it) up until last year.  Then I caught sight of myself in the mirror and realized it was faded, and worn to a frazzle.  It was not an easy purge - I tend to get attached to certain articles of clothing.

163- red (faded) mandarin collared cotton jacket.  See #162

164- black knit pants.  With tags still attached.  I resembled a black sausage when I finally tried them on.  At home.  And then promptly lost the receipt. 

165- glass mixing vessel from a St. Germain liqueur promotion.  I kept the St. Germain and dole it out like it's liquid gold.  Which it is.

166- ancient ice cream maker

167/168- bicycle tires.  I do tend to hang onto things for no good (or understandable) purpose.

169- plastic watering can with a hole in the bottom.  And I was saving this for...what?

170- a case of empty baby food jars.  I had two and talked myself out of one, because you never know....

I will continue to try and catch up (catsup, ketchup...snort) until I can get back into my weekly seven.   I also plan on making a laden trip to Goodwill next Saturday.  Good thing I drive an SUV.


I have discovered that I can check out e-books onto my smart phone.  While I still prefer an actual, physical book, my local library's very limited hours do not sync with my equally limited free time.  It is almost impossible to get there when they are open.  I am currently fixated on M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series.  It's light reading, but the characters are excellent, the plot line delightfully convoluted, I love Scotland and I can tote them around with me.


One of my favorite egg customers is stopping by to pick up eggs tonight and bringing  Limoncello.  I can see that only the basic chores will be completed tonight...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bluebirds of Happiness

The bright spot on my morning commute.  Someone should get a medal for making this happen.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Everyone into the pool!

My weekend started at 6A by packing the Nuggets into their travel crates.  This was done under an ominously slate-gray sky.  My friend, M, bravely volunteered to transport them to Base Nuggets (my neighbor's), where my 80+ year-old helpers awaited.  Sigh.  At many points, I was reminded of what it must feel like to herd cats.  While I appreciated their cheerful presence and enthusiastic attitude, there was a lot of redirecting, clarifying and more redirecting.  I finally took charge (I was born to take charge - just ask my poor sisters) and took matters in hand.  That did streamline the process a bit.  About one third of the way through the process, the skies opened and it poured.  With some fast-thinking (not mine...I was trying to keep the 'help' focused) a canopy was erected and we proceeded through all 28 birds.  I could not have done it without them - as slow and sort of scattered as they may have been, they never complained and never stopped.  I was also very thankful for the loan of the plucker (I so 'heart' it). 
It continued to rain in buckets and at some point you reach a saturation level that give you a devil-may-care attitude about walking around outside getting things done.  We sent the oldest of our team home with her Nuggets and my neighbor and I cleaned up the equipment, put things away and sorted out our Nuggets for an hour in driving rain.  When I finally walked through the front door - after a thorough Nose Scan by the dogs - I headed for a hot shower, dry clothes and wool socks! 

I "heart" this thing.
The skies cleared later that afternoon and the sun came out briefly - but I was too knackered to do much else.  I slogged around outside and found this: 
I "heart" this thing, too.
And spent way too long watching this:

The only ones enjoying the weather.
Sunday, I finished my garden under blustery, cold, damp skies - although I think I may have to replant the kale and chard, as the rains we have been getting are more like monsoons and I think my seeds may have gotten washed away.  The final raised bed was weeded, carrots are in (I swear this is my LAST try at growing carrots), a replanting of yellow beans went in, potatoes were hilled, strawberry flowers were plucked off.  Then I trooped inside and dealt with the Nuggets.  I have 15 whole, half, and parted birds in the freezer.  Some are going to my sister and parents and some will be used for bartering.

The chicklets were moved into the small coop and the laundry room-cum-brooder central was cleaned and readied for the Cayuga ducklings that I picked up Sunday morning.  After all, why let things get boring when you can complicate your life even more? 

I am way behind on my purging - I was thinking that, just last year I would get days behind, while this year those days have turned into weeks.  Another snag is that I have not been able to get to Goodwill, so I have a backlog that needs to go out the door before I add too much more to the pile.  However, I am determined to get things flowing again by the end of this coming weekend.  Heaven help me.