Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings.

While I was rummaging around in my summer clothes drawer, I pulled out a very wrinkled pair of shorts and had one of those 'makes-your-blood-run-cold' flashbacks to middle school gym class.  I assume it was because my gym shorts were the same color (red) and, much to the defeated efforts of my mother, my gym shorts were always wrinkled.  I loathed gym class.  The persistent squeaking of sneaker treads on varnished wood floors made my skin crawl, not to mention the smell and the endless echoes of shrieking girls.

But the worst part of gym class was our gym teacher.  Our first teacher (names of gym teachers are not remembered) was an attractive blond with short hair, determined jawline and developed muscles.  As far as gym teachers went, she wasn't too bad.  However, midway through 7th grade, she left under a cloud.  Her replacement seemed was so completely her opposite that it was awe-inspiring.  We referred to her as "The Toad".  Yes, we were typical mean tweenie girls.  She was about 4 feet 5 inches - in all directions.  She never washed her hair, or her person, it seemed.  Her clothing had food stains on it.  She had a croaky voice.  She despised us and the feeling was mutual.  There was no whining allowed, no excuses or absences.  We whined anyway, and shuffled through the routine, tried to shinny up the python-width rope with our skinny limbs, jogged in endless circles. staggered around with medicine balls, trying to knock each other over.  She croaked mean things at the clumsy, the overweight, the too-pretty girls, and the smarty-pants girl (guess who).  It was an hour of pure hell every week.  She finally left -- also left under a cloud (maybe a cloud of flies - sorry, but I still don't like her).  Her replacement was a young, fresh-out-of-college woman who loved us.  Suddenly, there was a lightness in our steps - we shinnied our little hearts out and sprinted everywhere.  But I still didn't like gym.

I wasn't all that coordinated (and it hasn't gotten better with age), but I was fearless.  I had very romanticised images of myself and had planned becoming a prima ballerina.  At that age and time, every girl I knew had ballet careers in mind.  However, when my mother took me to try out for ballet school (a local enterprise in someones basement), the instructor took my mother aside and said (loudly enough for me to hear), "I think you should find some other form of creative movement for your daughter.  She's...well...rather too uncoordinated for ballet."  I was completely crushed.  To my mother's credit, she searched out a tap dancing class for me and I was launched!  The class was held in an old movie theater and was taught by an old Vaudevillian guy.  His wife played the piano.  This was more like it!  I managed to dance my way through the ranks and, at the end of the season, performed a solo act to a packed audience (of 25).  I remember what I wore, and I remember most of the steps.  The smell of greasepaint was in my nose!  Then I discovered horses and all thoughts of Broadway vanished.  Girls can be so fickle.

And, speaking of girls, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA PEA!!! xoxoxo

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Waiting for Winter to loosen its death-grip on Spring.

That should be the theme song of April.  Let's see, what tune would be appropriate?  A dirge, I think. 

After a few brief but titillating warm spells, we have been stuck in a cold, windy, damp, cold - did I mention cold? - rut.  I refuse to buy fuel oil so we are hunkered down with the fireplace if it gets too bad - Scrappy is starting to riot.  Someone remind me to knit him a sweater for next winter.  The temperature bottomed out at 28 degrees this morning.  I believe my curly parsley is toast.  I am hoping that the strawberries can hold on for another week (please, God) and I am SO ready to plant.  I've got seed potatoes, packets of peas and onion sets staring at me from every drawer, root closet and corner. 

I got home last night to be greeted in the back by Linden.  Again.  I am so glad he's such a sunny, friendly boy.  I am also glad he didn't make his appearance known when the dogs were out relieving themselves after a long day of crossing their legs.  Luckily, Kay had stopped by and we managed to get him in with the goats.  Which, of course, sent Chicky into an uproar.  Much posturing, rearing and head-butting until good-natured Linden had had enough and went more than willingly into the sheep pen.  I did finally find his escape route - he had worked the fence up in a corner, dug out some of the dirt, and squeezed his not-small self underneath.  I patched it as well as I could until the weekend.  While I made a cursory inspection of the fence line, I did notice a few other weak spots, so I guess that "fencing" goes on the to-do list.

The cold frame continues to be the only salvation I have so far this Spring.  I was contemplating creating cold frames on all my raised beds since this seems to be the only way to get an actual crop of veggies (there, I've said it).  But, of course, as soon as I would go to the expense and time of actually building all the tops, we would get a prolonged heat wave.  So, there you are.  I am left grousing.

Sage, a year ago.
Speaking of grouse - I saw THREE ruffed grouses (grouse?) on my way home last night, along with two lovely male ring-necked pheasants.  It must be Spring.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Me vs. The Mint

Who, in their right mind, would actually SELL mint?  Come to think of it, who would actually BUY it?  Me, apparently.  Dumb as a stump comes to mind.  I put mint on one side of my herb bed and yarrow on the other.  Make that:  me = doesn't have the sense God gave a turnip.

Because of this lack of judgement, I have been battling mint-take-over from the left and yarrow-take-over from the right for at least two years.  This year, the gloves came off (oh, wait!  They went on!) and I have been ripping, digging, hoeing during odd bits of free time.  I am happy to say that I am making gains!

I can actually find my lovage and chives!

The 'trimmings', putting it nicely.  Which it ain't.
Now that we've finally gotten some rain, I will tackle the remaining half - Me vs. The Yarrow.   The rain, by the way, was part of a violent nor'easter that has, thankfully, just dumped rain and some blustery winds on us, and not the gale-force winds and heavy snows that some spots received.  Seems as though that is how our weather is now.  Every change is ushered in violently.  Sometimes it just makes you want to crawl back under your quilt and wait until Ma Nature comes back to her senses.

I am very thankful that I was able to pretty much finish my cold frame.  I still have to work out a better/easier cover than these three separate pieces of glass, but it does the job.  The arugula was from a seedling, and the radishes are coming up nicely.  The lettuce is coming as well, but it's still tiny and hard to see.  I always feel better when something is growing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Musings.

How different it is now, as opposed to when I was a kid.  And how alarmed I am to be saying that!  The further away from my childhood I get, the more I realize how precious it was.  Sit-down dinner at 6 PM sharp with the entire family.  Elbows off the table, good manners at the ready, wonderful home-cooked dinner and discussion.  Of course, we also got the 'word of the day', which always made me roll my eyes.  We had to use it in a sentence at least twice the following day.  Our television viewing was greatly curtailed - the Mickey Mouse Club after school, all the National Geographic, Jacques Cousteau, Jackie Gleason that we could handle and an hour of cartoons on Saturday.  Mostly, it was out the door!  We had an allowance that we earned, and for those special things we thought we would absolutely DIE without (such as: a black English racing bike - no gears - no handbrakes), we had to earn half of it.  After it passed the parental "merit test", that is.  No talking back.  No calling adults by their first names.

My father loved to make us work for things - in a good way.  Every summer we would pack the Dodge/Chrysler and drive way up to northern Ontario where we spent a blissful month (two weeks with our Uncle Mimmy and two weeks with Dad - and ALL weeks with Mom) in our paternal great-grandfather's hand-built log cabin on a tiny, pristine lake - no electricity, no plumbing.  (I will muse further about this idyllic spot at another time. I am at great risk of blubbering at the very thought of it.)  During my dad's two week stint we had a Treasure Hunt.  Oh, great glory, was it fun!  Dad would write up a whole series of linked clues and hide them all over the place.  We had to start at point A and noodle our way around to point X, the spot where the treasure was hidden.  Of course, it would have been a lot more fun if I hadn't been the eldest and the bossiest, but I was and we all lived through it.  My sisters are still talking to me, so I rest my case.  The Treasure usually consisted of inexpensive things that we could enjoy all summer - water toys, things like that.

When I turned 21, they had saved up and bought me a brand new Singer sewing machine.  Feeling badly that they had only gotten me one thing, Dad decided to re-enact the Treasure Hunt.  There was just one teensy problem with that - my birthday is in January and we lived in Ohio.  After spending an increasingly frustrated hour, going from clue-to-clue, top floor to basement (he actually suspended one clue on a long string down the laundry shoot, fercryinoutloud!), my "prize" ended up being locked in the trunk of the latest Dodge/Chrysler - outside.  And the trunk lock was frozen.  Dad intervened when he saw me grab the tire iron.  "Game over!" he said.  "Kit, put on the kettle!"  A half hour later, it was mine.

p.s.  Why, pray tell, for a person who is fast and loose with "ie and ey and y" - Scrappy, Cookie, Bernie, Ropey, Squirrely, Reggie - is it so darn hard to say, gulp, "Veggie"?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dividends - A Disclaimer.

I just got confirmation that the reCAP website was up, so I hurried over to see about getting a couple more.  Sigh.  With shipping, it's over $10 - for ONE.  That, in my opinion, is too much.  So, as promised, here is their website -  I had tried to leave a comment, but I think that the website still has bugs to work out.  Instead I commented on Kickstart.  While it's a great new product and would be very useful, at that price, it is out of reach of a lot of families that are carefully watching their shrinking budgets.  Let's just hope that, once they catch on, the price will become more affordable.


A while back, I got wind of a great investment opportunity.  I am not a stock speculator nor, particularly, a risk-taker (at least with my meager funds.)  But I was happy to pony-up my small investment in reCap Mason Jars through Kickstarter.  As a small investor, I was excited to watch as her funding grew and her dreams were realized.  Plus it is such an incredibly COOL thing! 

The parent behind this brainchild, Karen Rzepecki, did a fabulous job keeping all her investors appraised of the steps involved in bringing reCaps from drawing board to reality.  And late last week I received the fruits of my investment - my very own reCaps!  Never mind that my friend and neighbor, Kay, got hers first.  Great minds think (and invest) alike!

You will notice that I do not have a natural talent for good my
egg basket totally screws up the picture.
 They are working on putting up their website, so I will keep checking in because I know I will be needing to order more (I will post it when it's up and running), and they have a facebook page ( and are on Pinterest (recapmasonjars).  They work marvelously and I know they will become one of my favorite 'tools'.  I think that Mason jars are the perfect drinking glasses, and salad dressing containers, and string holders, and, and, and good thing I have a ton of them!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We should be very afraid.

It's easy to think, reading about the situation in Michigan and the war against Eat More Kale, that we don't live in the United States.  That, at some point when we weren't looking, our democracy was stolen and replaced by authoritarian rule.  This is nothing new.  It wasn't that long ago when the Feds were slaughtering sheep on a family farm in their role as "saviors".  It is insidious and it is not stopping.  It reminds me of one of my favorite song lyrics:  "we fell asleep at the sentry post, now we're toe-to-toe with what we fear the most."  It's very easy to get so busy just trying to get through the day that you don't pay attention to what is happening in your government.  And they are betting on just that fact.  Who has the money to pay the lobbyists to insinuate themselves next to our legislators?  A small farmer?  A homesteading family?  NOT!  It is my opinion that we are no longer a Democracy - we, the 99%, if you will - have almost no control over our lands, laws, food, health, you name it.  It's all being controlled by the 1%.

While our heads are down as we labor over our plows, they are playing fast and loose with what little freedom we have left.  And we let it happen.  It is really NOT enough to put our hands in our pockets and turn away because we don't think we have power and cannot change the course of things.  Let me tell you, we HAVE to.  Otherwise, all this great work we are doing, the good food we are growing and eating and sharing with others will not be allowed.  Who is to say which state will be the next "Michigan"?  Minnesota?  Idaho?  Oregon?  New York?  As someone living in New York - which likes to regulate every single thing it can - I keep a very uneasy eye on our legislature.  They are a sordid bunch who have a hand in everyone's pocket.  And I don't agree that it's 'Politics as Usual".  I didn't vote for some Cretan to be given free reign in the New York legislature.  I voted for someone who should represent me.  Me.  Not Monsanto.  Not the Agrimegabusinesses.  So I write letters and send email to my local representatives and to my national ones.  With access to the Internet, it is easy to find a site that will let you keep track of your legislators.  Most state legislatures have a web site that lets you track bills - spend a little time and find out what they're up to.  If they're up to no good, let them have it.  It's your right - use it while you still can.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Piles. And Local Gets Better.

Pile 'o Dirt.

Pile o' Hay.

My weekend involved piles.  A big pile of dirt was delivered early Saturday morning.  And 50 bales of hay were piled in front of and then stacked in the barn.   I am still working on the dirt - but I got a LOT done this weekend and learned a few things, too.  Such as:  allowing myself to think that 'just a half' of a NY bagel won't be bad - is wrong.  It is bad.  And I do mind.  And I promise not to do it again.  Also, after enduring a morning-to-afternoon onslaught by my neighbor and his chainsaw right across the road from me, I marched over in a semi-fumed state to request a moratorium for Sunday.   He stopped when he saw me, smiled and said that he was finished for the weekend and was going to the local quick-mart to get a beer - did I want one?  All the fume disappeared.  He brought back two bottles of locally-brewed brew and we sat on my dirty Adirondack chairs and contemplated the sheep.  And my dead pine tree.  And the potent wafts from the field next door that was liberally soaked with liquid manure.  The moment didn't last long, but the beer was excellent....heehee.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Musings.

With all the driving I do with my daily commute, I use a variety of methods to get the time to pass quickly.  Or, at least, interestingly.  Recently, I've been thinking about street signs - their names and how they got them.  I must pass two Sunset Streets - there's a Victor, a Bonnie, a Stuart, a Stewart, etc. 

There's a Bonacre.  Which, I assume, was at one time a "bon" acre.  Now it is a small, crowded plot filled with double-wides.  No longer "bon".  And how about Clearview Road?  Maybe once, but now there's no view.  And Westfall Road.  It is neither west nor is there a body of water nearby - let alone 'falls'.  Some take on an air of grandeur:  Wuthering Heights Blvd.  Oh, really?

I grew upon on Southwood Drive.  It was a perpendicular spoke off Irving Park Blvd.  Irving Park Blvd. was not grand.  There was no park.  It was pretentious.  At least Southwood was 'south' and there was a 'wood' at the end of the street.

How about some honesty in street names?  How about "Stinky Street" - that road that runs near the big dairy operation?  Or "Bottom Out Road"?  Or "Noview Avenue"?  Or Rottenview?  Or Smogline Lane?  I would love to come across a Lois Lane....

When I was a toddler (many moons ago), we lived in a rough-hewed little development in the South.  There were long, dirt roads with deep ditches on either side.  I, apparently, had the 'itch' to know what was on the other side of those ditches and caused my mother no end of anxiety.  One crisp, winter's day, I decided to toddle off, pick up a pal on the next street and head West.  I believe there was some idea that there was a store that had candy in that direction.  My mother had no idea what happened to me, and spent a frantic half-hour searching the neighborhood before she called my father in a panic.  Luckily for me and us, the store owner (I had actually made it there with little whatshizname) did not give me candy and sent me packing home.  A neighbor recognized my red snowsuit and plucked me off the rim of the ditch and brought me home.  I was never allowed out of my mother's sight after that - and she actually leashed me on occasion.

I believe this started me on a) my lifelong nomadic life and b) my affinity towards dogs.

So, is there a street, avenue, road, lane, or boulevard near you that should be more aptly named?

Friday, April 13, 2012


Normal x-lg egg on left.  Owie on right.
Someone's walking funny today.  I wonder who laid this double-yolker...  I have a couple of chickens - three, actually - who are under the weather.  E-Claire has been hauling around a big sack of something off her chest for quite a while.  Doesn't seem to be her crop, so I am at a loss.  She has her ups and downs, but, for the most part, seems to be holding her own.  I try not to get her excited since, when she works up a head of steam, this 'boosum' starts to swing from left to right and she reminds me of a ship on a very rough sea.  Violet (or Lavender - I'm never sure who is who) went from fine to floppy.  I've checked her over and can't find anything obvious, although I have a feeling it is a stagnant crop.  Ditto for Red, the lone Red Sex Link.  Just to rule out worms, I've mixed some DE into their feed.  I don't know why there is a rash of crop problems, since they have a wide access to lots of grit.  I've got two hens going broody - Marie-Claire, our resident surrogate mother; and one of the Honeys (Buff Orpingtons).  I am not prepared to sacrifice a nesting box yet, so I have to roust them out twice a day.  The first batch of Red Ranger chicks (15) are due to arrive on Friday, so I have cleaned out the little coop, closed off the vent, papered the bottom, put the heat lamp in (along with the non-electric brooder, just in case), and will add waterers and feeders Friday when they arrive.  Once I get them feathered and ready for fresh air, I hope to find either some keets or fertile guinea hen eggs to incubate.  Spring is in the air!  (Well, somewhere.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Um...thank you?

My dear, generous-to-a-fault sister gifted my chickens on Easter with...

What?  You don't keep your dried meal works with your
Organic Raw Oats?
Urk.  I know they are not alive.  I know they are just dried bits of fowl food.  But, it is just so, so, so, ICKY.  It takes Herculean effort to get my hand in that bag, I'll tell you.  However, the chickens think they are the bee's knees.  I went out with my shaky handful and tossed it in their direction.  They ran up, came to a screeching halt - stuck their necks out and gave them the beady-eye.  Then they descended on them like a herd of feathered piranhas!  I barely got out with my socks on.  I will have to be more careful in spreading the meal-worm-love.  Besides, it will probably take me a few days to get my nerve up enough to stick my hand in that bag again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Spring! it's winter. It's Spring! it's winter?

Criminy.  Saturday and Sunday - stiff breeze notwithstanding - were sunny and very conducive to outdoor labor.  Yesterday morning it was snowing.  On my way up the mountain, there was actually ground coverage!  {shudder} 

I made the most of my Saturday - I oozed out of Tai Chi class and went to visit the woman who had bred Sage and Chicky.  We straightened out a missing paperwork issue and had a nice visit.  I came dangerously close to pocketing a couple of 3-week old Nigerian Dwarf kids on the way out.  Then it was constructing the last of the two raised beds I am putting in this year, and I cut the pieces for a cold frame that I want to add at the side of the house - it's perfect: sheltered, a good amount of full, afternoon sun.  If there is any sun, that is.

Then Sage managed to squeeze out UNDER the fence.  Twice.  By that time, my energy level was starting to dip, so I put the garden cart on its side against the section of fence that she'd assailed all day.  I also visited Jasmine, who had given birth to a premature bull calf, five weeks early.  He didn't make it, which is just as well.  She is doing fine, however, so I am glad of that.  Her 'little' Alice, last year's calf, is a lovely heifer with brown and white spots and that doe-like Jersey face.  I will have to remember to take my camera into the barn with me.  I learned that the price of milk (paid to the farmer) has dropped again.  I don't know how small dairy farmers can make it.  My farmer supports two families (well, his wife has to work, too, and it's just his dad as the other 'family', but, still, it's a struggle.) and he always seems to be putting things together with duct tape and baling twine.  It's tough.  We're all keeping watch on the grass by now.  The cows will be happier, he will be happier, and I will be happier because they are all happier.

Kay helped me give both of the goats their follow-up Ivermectin and I got clocked in the eye by Chickie's horn.  Luckily, there is no black eye, but there is an alarming 'floater' every now and then.  I am keeping a close (inner) eye on it - pun intended - in case it doesn't go away or changes, but everything seems to be okay.  This farming business is dangerous!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Musings.

A neighbor, who is an artist and cat rescuer - both professions of which I am in awe - drove by on Saturday and we had a nice chat while she exclaimed over the cuteness of the goats (which has somewhat dimmed - to be addressed in a separate post) and the regal-ness of the llama (no argument there).  We were discussing strays, rescues, purebred vs. someofthisandthats.  She said that all cats are beautiful, no matter what their pedigree or lack thereof.  I couldn't agree more.  I do tend to be drawn to the un-pedigreed, the also-rans, the bottom of the barrels.  There was a point in my 30s where I toyed with the idea of actually going out and purchasing a Cornish Rex cat.  Then I met one. 

I am a real lover of mutts, however.  The muttier the better.  Almost all of the dogs with which I have had the pleasure of sharing a bit of my life (it's never long enough, let me tell you that), have been rescued dogs.  Interestingly, three were purebred - a Great Dane and two Dachshunds.  Geez, that reminds me of that Disney movie - the title of which escapes me.  The GD, Riley, came to me out of the blue, just days after I had finished negotiations for Bernie (aka Bernadette).  My sister called me and said that she and her husband's family had intervened with one of his sons who had this Dane.  It had been kept in a crate too small for him to stand or move around.  Something had to be done and I was the only one they could think of who had enough room for him.  In retrospect, I assume they were thinking of acreage - not house footage.  So Riley joined me on Friday, followed by Bernie the next day.  Life with an elephant in the house was very interesting, but he was a sweet, nervous boy, so attached to me that I nicknamed him Velcro.  Long story short - I had to rehome him three years later, due to the fact he took umbrage with a neighbor; I was very, very lucky in finding him a new home.  The rescue organization that I support (and from whom both Bernie and Scrappy came) has a spot on their website where you can post 'neighbor' dogs.  Riley now lives with a family that just adores him and has rescued him a brother, too.  It is a wonderful thing.

Sorry - got off the rails there.  I was thinking about people and dogs.  And how there are so many people, still, who insist on pedigreed dogs and cats - which come a great expense, both literally and figuratively.  As D, the artist said, for every pedigreed cat that is purchased, there is one less home for a stray.  While I think that is true in the big picture of things, there are just some people who INSIST on pedigrees.  Other than Dachshunds and Scottish Deerhounds, I am not a breed person.  I tend to think that mixing up a lot of different breeds gives you a blend of all that is good from each.  At least, that has been my experience.  And there is something else pretty special about rescued dogs - after all the abuse, neglect, sorrow and pain most of them have been through (at the hands of people) - they are still ready to love you.

Along with the usual cast of 'pedigreed' people, I think there are mutt-type people, too.  People who are quiet and keep to themselves; who are a little 'different'; don't march to the usual drum beat.  In my childhood neighborhood (that grid of a development, carved out of flat farmland), we had a large wooded area at the dead-end part of the parallel side streets.  This was jet fuel for the imagination of a certain tomboy who worshiped Davy Crockett.  (And, if you don't know who he is/was, don't speak to me you little whippersnappers!  And, no, I didn't know him personally...)  In the middle of this island of wilderness was a small cabin with no electricity or plumbing.  A man lived there that we children were terrified of.  Of course, none of us ever talked to him, but our parents warned us - it was the equivalent of the Hansel and Gretel threat - he'd throw us in an oven and bake us for dinner; or so our fevered little minds led us to believe.  One neighbor, Mrs. N., went against the norm and let him get bottles of water from their outside tap, left food for him in a basket, and generally kept her eye on him from afar.  He, in turn, wove exquisite little baskets and left them for her.  We thought she was incredibly brave.  I know now that she was incredibly kind. 

Wow.  If there was an "R" day, I would have called this "Runday Ramblings"!

*Inserting note of clarification here: I read this after I had posted it (a little quick on the draw here), and thought it sounded too preachy. That is not what I had meant - there are a lot of people I know who have done both - purchased a particular breed of dog AND rescued a dog or two or five. I am referring more to the people who won't even consider a puppy without paperwork going back to the Mayflower, or who support puppy farms - which are a disservice to both the breed and the poor people who buy from them. And, if there weren't different breeds in the first place, how would we get these wonderful blends?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

It just makes me want to cry.

Just when I had reconciled myself to no wheat products - no bread, no good pasta, no pies or cakes - I discover Pie Squared.  This is a little bake shop that I pass by twice a day going to/coming from work.  This was the place that I called to order our Easter pecan pie.

Clever name and logo, don't you think?
I picked it up last night on my way home - it weighed a ton!  But I didn't even peek.  Until this morning.  {sob}:

The official weight of this delectable chunk of goodness is 4.67 lbs!  There must be over two inches of filling!  The crust looks sooooo flaky and wonderful.  I guess I will just have to buck-up and eat the filling and not the crust.  Such a sacrifice, I tell you.

Last night I hard boiled the eggs (only time will tell if they are eggs/from/hell or not) and made the dyes:  red/beets, yellow/turmeric and blue/red cabbage.  This morning I dyed them and I am pretty happy with how they turned out.  There were a few clinkers, but for the most part they are pretty.

Now all that's left is the gargantuan ham.  I figure it will take six hours.  Good thing I get up at the crap of dawn, isn't it?

Wishing all of you and yours a very happy holiday weekend!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Out! Out! Darn Farch!

Waking up to 20 degree temperatures every morning is making me cranky.  (No, really?)  I am SO over winter, such as it was (or is, as the case may be).  Sure, the longer days are nice, the warmer sun is nice, but fercryinoutloud, enough with the frigid mornings already!

I am now more than ready to get things going in the garden - but, wait!  It still might snow/freeze/hail/locusts.  No wonder it's said that April is "the cruelest month".  I did a walkabout around the place and re-thought some of my "big" plans.  It really is amazing, sometimes, to realize that I have gotten smarter as I've gotten older.  It just takes a while for the 'smart' thoughts to rise above all the noisy dumb thoughts.  My plans to wheelbarrow-out all that tasty compost (for the garden, of course) from the sheep's old paddock has been downgraded to wheelbarrowing out some of it to amend the fill in the raised beds.  I bit the bullet and ordered five yards of topsoil to be delivered next week.  And it will be dumped within easy transport distance to the raised beds.  I started calculating just how many loads I would need to shovel and wheel up the hill, around the house and to the front and those smart thoughts were able to just pop right up above those persistent crazy thoughts - "It will be good exercise"; "it will be cheaper"; "I can do it in a weekend".  I had thought, briefly, about hiring a teenager to do the heavy work, but that is problematic for many reasons.  Besides, by the time I paid him, it wouldn't be much more expensive than ordering the dirt.  So I did.

The second smart thought to rise above the slosh pit of dumb ones, was my decision to order our Easter pecan pie from a local baker as opposed to making one myself.  Since going gluten free, I have no wheat flour in the house.  And I rarely, if ever, have things on hand like dark Karo syrup.  So I would have had to buy pecans, flour and Karo syrup.  And then I would have had leftover flour that I wouldn't use for another year.  Pbbbfft.  Enter:  Pie Squared.  I am supporting a local business and getting to check something off my pre-Easter list.  Besides, I still have to whip up my natural egg dyes tonight, hard boil eggs (thinking of Carolyn Renee the whole time, bless her), dye same eggs, and tackle our main course: a 20 pound, organically-raised, Tamworth ham.  For four people.  Don't ask.  Thank goodness we like leftovers.

And, lest I forget, I need to finish Sage-proofing the fence line that runs along the road.  After getting an email from my neighbors who found  and rescued Miss Sage who had her head stuck in the fence (FOR THE THIRD TIME), I have had enough.  I pulled out every bit of miscellaneous fencing material I could find and have pieced together a crazy quilt of chicken wire, garden fencing and more chicken wire.  I just need to make sure it is securely attached to the existing fence.

I think that's enough to do.  Maybe it will keep my mind off the fact that winter won't let go?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A little bit of this and that.

It's that season - the faster I go, the behinder I get.  Thanks to Tai Chi and focusing on my breathing, I am starting to focus.  This is very helpful when one has two days with which to tackle a six page list.  It's been back to more typical spring-like weather - frigid nights and sunny but colder days.  Last weekend I lost all of Saturday to Tai Chi class, drop-offs and pick-ups, errands, parent-visiting/chores, and entertaining a neighbor.  I did manage to get a load of laundry washed and hung up on the line -- the weather perked up Saturday afternoon.  I roasted one of last year's French Reds - making room for this year's batch; and I tried something new - Beer Soaked Crispy Baked Fries.  They were great and easy.  Veggie Ventures is one of my favorite sources for good recipes.

On Sunday, my official non-driving day, I started early and tackled the inside of the barn.  Which, of course, was not on my list.  But I cheated and wrote it down when I was finished.  Then crossed it out.  Hey - don't tell me you've never done that (or at least have been tempted to.  I am weak.)  I was so tired of the total disarray in there - it was impossible to tell how much hay I had left, thanks to the willy-nilly stacking of Doug's teen-aged helpers.  Plus, they had kicked and shoved my straw bales to one side, totally breaking the bales and causing all kinds of mess.  So I hauled everything out, moved pallets, enlarged the goats' area, raked and swept the loose hay to one side and the straw to another, then re-stacked the hay.  Oh, did that feel better!  And good golly!  I am due to get more hay -- soon!

Then, off to the small chicken coop to clean that out and get it brooder-ized.  I have 15 Red Ranger chicks arriving soon.  And, even though I said I would not start seeds, I lied.  I made two dozen paper starting pots and sowed my basil, parsley and Ancho pepper seeds.  Then I moved my dehydrator out of the laundry room and set up a hanging light over the top of my dryer.  Voila!  Light, warmth, cat-proof!  I got a few things checked off the list, although I wasn't able to get all my laundry dried on the line, as it started raining before things were totally dried.  But that is why I have my Homesteader Drying Rack, right? 

Still left is getting the raised bed ready for peas, removing the straw mulch from strawberries and garlic (check!), seeding some new spots with forage blend, CDT vacs for the sheep/llama, and countless other jobs.  But, I am not stressing this year.  Remember:  focus.  And a case of Two-Buck Chuck mixed reds.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Musings.

Jaime's cryptic post a week ago or so got me musing all week long.  Dirt is such a prickly subject - is it bad for you?  Good for you?  We all know how important it is to all of us.  If you would have known me, oh, 15 years ago, you would have found me vacuuming, dusting and sweeping with alarming regularity.  And I was living in a tiny one bedroom apartment with two cats.  Of course, I was also living in the City, which is incredibly dirty (in a baaaa-d way), so it was an uphill battle.  Now I live in the country with little between me and all that dirt out there - but it's dirt in a gooooo-d way.  I am lucky, I think, that my mother did not constantly try to sanitize us when we were kids.  Not that she'd even have gotten close.  Lord, were we dirt magnets!  My early childhood reminds me of having dogs.  She'd feed us our breakfast, we'd do our required chores for our 25 cents allowance, then she'd open the door and we'd tear-ass outside.  We'd be gone until she or one of the other mothers hollered "Lunch!"  We'd straggle in and wash our hands, inhale our sandwiches, and out we'd go again until dinner.  Other than our hands, the rest of us looked like we'd been dipped in dirt.  And I was proud of it, by cracky.  We did get away with more at lunch time - but had to spiff up a bit more for dinner.

One particular episode that comes to mind was when I was in my "secret mole" phase.  I had snuck out to the big field and standing line of trees about a quarter mile behind our development every day for a week.  I had carefully chosen my spot and had dug quite a nice hidey-hole, camouflaged with moss, grass and sticks.  The day I tried it on for size, it had rained.  I fit quite snugly and, when I emerged, I was encased in mud.  Figuring I'd better let it dry, then try to peel it off before I went home, I joined up with two neighbor boys who were inadequately impressed by my muddy-ness.  So, as we walked down the dirt road parallel to our development, I made up the game - "who-is-fastest-and-can-pick-the-most-wild-blackberries".  I won -- but, in the process of out-running and out-jumping them, I leaped into a nest of old barbed wire.  Being the tough cookie I was, I did.not.cry.  As a matter of fact, the lacerations down my shins and trails of blood caused quite the impression with my pals.  So I sauntered ever so nonchalantly home with my awe-struck companions, went into the kitchen and said, "Hi Mom."  There was a scream, broken plates and a quick call to my uncle, the vet.  Then there was a tetanus shot - which did make me cry - and a painful, stinging bath.

Ah, youth.

Good heavens!  How I have digressed!  Now that I've horrified you, made you glad you didn't have me for a child, or put you to sleep, I'll get back to my point.  While I do try and keep most of the dirt at bay, and I do ever-so-occasionally dust, I don't wash my hands every five seconds.  I don't wash everything I eat.  And - except for this gluten thing - I am as healthy as a horse.  I feel that too much sanitation can kill any chance we have of building up immunity to bugs, germs and the like.  I wash my hands when it counts - like after I've cleaned up the field of battle after a mouse massacre.  Ack.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Warm up the DVD player...

With a little help from my boy, the winner has been pulled from the hat, er, bowl!  Congratulations...

Hoosier Girl!

Notice the hat?  That's just what I had to do this morning - pull on those big girl breeches and choose our winner.  A day late and a dollar short, but there you are.

Be sure to send your mailing info to me at swomersley at gmail dot com.