Friday, November 30, 2012

Giving Thanks.

I am (very) thankful for Fridays - and, perversely, I am thankful for the job that allows me to be thankful for Fridays.

I am thankful that I have such funny, nutty dogs.  I think Scrappy is trying to communicate with me on a different plane.  I keep waiting to hear him tell me what he wants in English - we've tried Dutch, Spanish, and ASL.  We're getting close.  And, yes, I tend to anthropomorphicize everything - it's part of my charm... :)

I am thankful that physical space does not dim the strength of my friendships; in fact, it seems to strengthen them. 

I am thankful for baby alpaca yarn.  I just LOVE baby alpaca yarn.  But, no, I am not going to raise baby alpacas or any other alpaca.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Musings.

I have started romancing the Me.  It all started when I was doing a blitzkrieg clean through the house - nothing like facing wind and snow to make you suddenly very interested in cleaning the inside of the house.  I took a look at my bed and realized that I had never made pillow shams for the back pillows.  I guess I figured that I was the only one looking at them and who cared.  Well, gosh darn it, I do!  So I hauled out my sewing machine and imagination (heaven forbid I use a pattern....) and whipped up two shams in about a half hour.  And they are darn nice!  It becomes too easy to forget to treat yourself nicely.  To make your space pleasant to look at just for you.  I doubt very much if I will be dragging out the good china and lighting the candles with every meal, but I am going to try not to slide down that slippery slope....

Speaking of romance, I spent most of Friday afternoon standing around watching goat sex.  I had been hanging up my three loads of laundry, trying to make the most of the last lovely day for quite a while, when I happened to look over at the goats.  Sage was wagging her tail like a dog and cozying up to Chickie at every opportunity.  He was not buying all this "friendliness" and avoided her like the plague.  I dropped the laundry basket and sprinted into the house -- we had heat!!!  I emailed my friend AnnMarie, who called me and we arranged for her to bring one of her bucks over for a 'date'.  So, there in the last nice day of fall, with the sun shining, everyone - including the sheep and llama, who were lined up along the fence line - stood around nonchalantly while my little baby doe became a future milking doe (we hope).  AnnMarie and I talked farms, goats, DIY, llamas, feed prices, vet bills, self-reliance, and milking stands.  Her handsome little buck, Troy, was in heaven and he and Sage hit it off famously.

As AnnMarie drove away with a sleepy but happy Troy in the back of her old van, it struck me that there is much kindness and generosity in the world.  This was the first time AnnMarie and I had ever met - actually.  She doesn't know me from Adam, and vice versa.  She has a Nigerian Dwarf dairy operation - a small one - but she hand milks 25 does every day.  And cares for a bunch of rescued llamas.  She works hard and manages to scrape by.  Yet, here she was, taking a chunk of time out of her busy afternoon for my benefit.  She is also taking Sage and Chick to their own little section of her farm three weeks before Sage is due so she'll be there when Sage kids (and has promised to call me no matter what the time).  She will then teach Sage how to milk.  And me, too.  And, when we're comfortable with it, she will send the Chickie/Sage/kids family home with a milking stand that her brother is making.  For free.  Asking nothing at all in exchange for all of this time and effort.  She knows that I am trying to sell Sage and figured it would be an easier sale with a doe in milk.

As bad as things are in the world, there are plenty of good, kind and generous people.  As a matter of fact, alot of them are floating right out there - not so far away - in the blogosphere.  It gives you comfort and courage to know that it's not all bad and it's okay to be hopeful.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks.

I am thankful that I have tons of leftovers and won't have to cook a meal for three months.  I am thankful that I love turkey.  And thankful that we are able to put this bounty on our tables and share a day filled with good food and love, even if (one of us) would rather have been at a restaurant having someone else go through all the fuss and wash the dishes.

I am thankful for second chances.

I am thankful that the grand-dogs did not decorate the lovely Oriental rug with the remnants of their own Thanksgiving feast.  They are good dogs.

I am thankful for GF cornbread so that I can have stuffing (is it still stuffing if it's not put in the turkey?  Or does that make it something else?  Dressing?  But that would connote that it's ON the turkey.  Which it wasn't).  Sometimes I'm not so thankful for my wondering mind.

I am thankful I didn't have to wear my Fat Pants.

I am thankful that the cats didn't hold it against me for not taking them to the grandparents.  This gave them the opportunity to find every plastic bag not safely stowed out of reach and chew the ends off.  What is it with cats and plastic bags?  Can anyone tell me?

I am thankful for Todays and for Next Weeks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How we winterize on the LLF.

A pictorial post.

We put our garden to bed.

We give our rainbarrel a rinse and dry.

We tuck our strawberries in under a nice, thick straw mulch.

We put light where we'll need it.

We batten down the deck chairs.

We secure our alternate fuel source (and spruce up our bird feeders).

We polish our silver.

Okay, I'm kidding about the silver.  I actually polished it while sitting out Sandy.  When I get very anxious, I need to do something repetitive and mind-numbing.  Ergo, the silver polishing.  You can take the girl out of charm school, but you can't take the charm school out of the girl...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Musings.

It's funny how you can think about something, talk about it, muse and mull over it for days and then - BINGO! An offhand remark parts the clouds and there is the answer, standing in a sunbeam with seraphims and cherubs flitting about.  I am obviously carried away, or ought to be.  My home phone (land line for you techies) went dead a week ago.  I didn't realize it until that Sunday, when I was madly punching in the number for the gravel pit owner who was operating ILLEGALLY on Sunday (at 6:30A, on top of it all).  Nothing.  I was speaking to my inner ear.  There is nothing more infuriating than being infuriated already and then having your phone let you down.

I called the phone company and they sent someone out fairly quickly - two days later.  But everything was fine on the outside.  That meant I would have to have them come in and find the problem.  And pay for it.  I knew it was the mousies.  It's always the mousies.  Or the ratz.  How odd, I thought, that I can get DSL service but no phone signal.  Hmmm.  How odd.....hmmmm.  I've just given you a little glimpse into the inner workings of me.  Scary, ain't it?  I mentioned this to Kay's hubby at our Zoning Board meeting.  He said, "then the DSL line/phone line to the box is fine.  What about your other line?"  THWACK.  Sound of palm meeting forehead.  I went home, unplugged my phone from the other, non-working line, and plugged it into the office line.  It worked.  Then the same wonderful neighbor, Kay, came up with one of those two-outlet thingys and I am now back in business until spring - when I am brave enough to crawl under my crawl space to fix the other line.  Or, maybe summer.  Of 2022.

I have a penchant for used things.  I prefer older, used furniture to new stuff.  Old furniture has a history.  Sometimes you know its provenance and other times you can just imagine.  I have two rocking chairs -  one belonged to an aunt on my dad's side, and one belonged to my Great Aunt Edie, on my mom's side.  GAE could knit complicated patterns while sipping her evening scotch, listening to the radio, smoking her one-a-day cigarette, and watching the news, AND carrying on a conversation with you.  She could knit a house and all the furniture.  She and I began the family tradition of making gingerbread men (or "boys", as she put it) in her kitchen every December.  As we worked away, she would grill me on state capitols.  After she passed away, my mom and I took it up and have been doing it ever since.  Without the state capitols. 

Okay, back to the furniture.  Sheesh.  I would guess that about 99% of my furniture is not new.  When I moved into LLF, I had nothing.  Nada.  My parents, bless their hearts, gave me one of their extra beds.  I bought a used patio table and chairs that functioned as my dining room table and chairs for months.  Then a chance encounter on freecycle led me to a nice woman who came to pick up an extra lock set I had listed.  She looked at my empty house and said, "Do you need furniture?"  She gave me a solid maple dining table, two dressers, two nightstands, and a mirror.  All of which I still have.  Slowly, but surely, I have picked up a chair here, a table there.  Lately, I have been rethinking my space and all that's in it (besides too much).  One of the things I'm eyeing - in the 'out-the-door' way - is one of the rocking chairs.  But I am hesitating because of....guilt.  Should I keep it because it was my aunt's?  I wasn't particularly (at all) close to her.  Will her spirit rattle the doors and toss pots across the kitchen if I move it on?  Being a big chicken liver, it remains in my guest room where I don't have to look at it.  What do you think?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

In "Vest" ed

The winner of the Support My Habit child's vest is ....


Sandy, please email your mailing info to me at swomersley at gmail dot com!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Giving Thanks.

I am thankful that my cats allow me to live with them and share their furniture.  I am so very lucky that I can act as a launching pad, scratching post, and accepter of their offerings of mouse parts.

I am so thankful that Scrappy continues to forgive me for not feeding him treats 24/7.  I am thankful that he leaves his toys and chewed marrow bones scattered about in strategic places, which allows me the opportunity to practice my balancing act.

I am thankful that I have created such a firm bond with the Guineas that they wait outside on various high roosts until I arrive home in the pitch dark to try to guide them into the safety of the coop.

I am very thankful that the chickens have taken such a long break in laying eggs that I don't have to worry about collecting them, or gathering enough to pay for their upkeep.

I am thankful for my sense of humor - which is sometimes all I have left by the end of the week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Please help me support my habit...

That should draw an interesting crowd...

As the weather cools, my habit becomes more intense.  The cravings, the yearnings, the obsessing...oy!  My focus, already on shaky ground, becomes as fragmented as light through a prism.  Or like trying to herd cats, or push string....

I sidle about, small bags of it hidden in my work satchel, scattered on the coffee table, on the dining room table, on my dresser.  I indulge whenever I can - squeezing in a quick fix while in the doctor's office, waiting in line, waiting for 5:30, sitting while covered with sleeping cats....

I'm a knitting junkie and I need your help.  In my defense, as someone who has the focus of a fruit fly, knitting something small and fast is just indescribably alluring.  Just look at some of my WIPs, if you don't believe me:

Tribbles - (this is all your fault, Jaime!)

Beekeepers Quilt - I got sucked right into the vortex and it will only take me three or four years to complete a lap-size quilt...I blame it on the tribbles...

Socks - Must. Knit. Socks.  I discovered I had an entire storage tub filled with sock yarn. OY.

Cotton Cardigan - Cast on in early June as a neck-down sweater.  I am closing in on two inches.

Black Cotton Sleeveless Shell - Cast on in the distant past - so distant, I don't remember exactly what I was thinking or when I was thinking it.  Left to lie fallow after five inches of booooring stocking knit.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  Anything that entails more than 20 minutes of covert knitting is tossed to the side to lie woefully unappreciated and ignored.

Various Holiday Gifts - Which cannot be described for obvious reasons...

Toddler's Cotton Vest - THIS is why I need your help!  As you know, I don't have children.  Ergo, I don't have grandchildren.  Nor do I interact with children on any regular basis.  Yet, I persist in knitting children's garments.  They are small.  They are fast.  They are cute.  Need I say more?

The colors are a little different than pictured - the blue is
closer to the green in color and the green is more
of a celery-meets-sage green.
 How can you help?  By entering my giveaway to win this little vest so I can justify knitting another child-sized garment!  Now, before you get all excited (if any of you are getting excited, that is), a few disclaimers:

  • This is not knit by one of Martha's minions.  This is knit by me.  So it is bound to be imperfect.
  • This is NOT a cat-free home.  They own it and I just live here.
  • This is knit out of dreamy, organic, hand spun cotton.  You cannot toss this into the machine.  You will have to hand wash it and block it flat to dry it. 
  • Although I followed the pattern for a 1 Y/O, I have no idea if this will fit a 1 Y/O so you'll have to go by the measurements, which are:  12 inches across the chest; 11 inches from top of shoulder to bottom of ruffle; 4 inches at arm hole.
Will you help me?  If you love me you will...  Have mercy on me and leave a comment of any size, shape or color below.  I will choose a winner by random on Saturday, November 17.  Deadline for entry is midnight, Friday, November 16.  I can only ship to the continental U.S. - sorry - overseas postal rates are too steep!  I've spent all my money on yarn (and dog food), you see...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings.

I've been thinking about the difference and quality of noise lately.  Back a millennium ago, I lived in The City, and was constantly surrounded by noise.  24/7/365.  It was quite a shock the first few months - I literally felt as if I was being physically assailed.  After about six months, while I wouldn't say I was used to it, I more or less ignored it.  Except for the cacophony of car alarms all night long.  You'd have to be dead or deaf to ignore that.  Then I fled The City and moved north - not to the country, but to a suburb.  Still noisy, but different noise: lawnmowers, car horns, leaf blowers, car radios, cars, dogs.  Then I moved to my little rural place.  Last week, needing some quiet contemplation and the solace of the endless, starry sky (another big plus living in the middle of nowhere), I went out and stood on the deck.  And listened.  There was the occasional dog bark, a cow mooing, the faint sound of Phoebe's name being called, one of the Guineas got a bee in his/her bonnet briefly, then Kees crowed - getting in the last word, then distance coyotes and the wind rustling the leaves.  While the country is noisy in a way all its own, the difference is that it is noisy against a vast, silent canvas.  The silence, like the sky, is so wondrous, it can almost bring you to tears.

If I had the track record of the local weather guys (notice - no women), not only would I be tossed out on my derriere after doing such a terrible job, I'd be hard-pressed to find similar employment anywhere.  Yet, day after day, week after week, they get it wrong.  Geez.  In the spirit of full disclosure, this line of thinking was occurring last Thursday night as I inched along the slippery, icy, snaky road over the mountain in a blizzard - while the weather guy told me that the evening would be perfectly fine, clear skies and just a tad cold.  Good thing he wasn't sitting next to me.

On the subject of driving, I have been taking the Defensive Driving Course online (a Godsend) and it's made me realize a few things:  a) I tend to fall into the Aggressive Driver category; b) I am easily influenced by dire warnings (I will never between midnight Saturday and 3 AM Sunday, I will sleep 8 hours a night, I will give up my LSD habit -- KIDDING); c) I may never drive again.  Seriously, besides the benefit of having 10% taken off my insurance every year for three years, it really does catch you up as to how dangerous all this commuting could be.  Given that I have to drive, I'm just going to put on my big girl pants and do it - safely and on high alert.  However, I will NOT be found frolicking in the ocean.  I did watch "Jaws", after all.

I've been watching Apria and the remaining two sheep, Juno and Linden.  The loss of their mother/grandmother seemed to throw the sheep off for a couple of days, then they moved on.  Apria, however, continues to 'count' her sheep.  Since she is quite visually challenged, she keeps tabs on her charges by placing her nose on each sheep as they squeeze by at feeding time.  One...two...three.  Now it's one...two... and she waits for number three.  She has been doing this twice a day, every day since Flora left us.  I may throw the goaties in there just to break the mold, so to speak.  THAT would give her something to think about.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


And I am thankful that my friend, Kay, and her Maremma, Phoebe, have been reunited!  That's right!  Phoebe was found many miles from home - in the bordering state of Massachusetts.  That's a long way by paw.  She's thin and covered with ticks, but so happy to be home.  Hurray!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giving Thanks.

I am very thankful that I had five years to enjoy the sheep-ness of Flora.  She was the matriarch even then, the steady one, the patient one (with my bunglings).  She had beautiful lambs and I am thankful that I have Juno, her first born on this farm, and Linden, her grandson who inherited her sweet nature and beautiful fleece.  (I forgot to add how thankful I am for R's wonderful photographs...)

I am thankful that I have a job that supports me and all my dependents.  I am not quite as thankful for the long commute, but thankfully I only have to make the trip five days a week!

I am thankful that I live in a country that offers me so many freedoms - freedom to cast my vote.  Freedom to speak my mind (or write it).  Freedom to live where I want, move when I want, or to put signs in my front yard - even though someone feels equally free to be able to steal them...

I am thankful that I live in a place where I have enough room to grow my food and can have my furred and feathered friends that add so much to my life, my happiness and my well-being.

And I am always thankful for those Americans who have fought for and defended the freedoms I hold dear.  I cannot literally or figuratively thank them enough. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thinking outside of the lettuce.

Faced with the need to plan a week of packed lunches that ALWAYS include a salad, I was stymied.  I had managed to nurse a few lettuce plants along in my cold frame, but the bulk of what was left was made into Flora's last meal (she loved lettuce - the good girl).   I have made the decision to eat seasonally this winter.  You know me - I "heart" a challenge.  I figure I have a well-stocked pantry and am fairly creative, so I should be able to see myself through....100+ salads....hmmm.

The first one I made was with brown lentils, chopped tart apples, chopped, cooked potato, chopped red onion and parsley.  I precooked the potatoes and cooled them, then I presoaked the lentils, heated olive oil in a pan and stirred in curry and sea salt, then added the lentils, coated them in the spices and added water to cover, simmering them until they were just done.  I drained the lentils and cooled them to room temperature.  While the lentils were cooking, I cored and chopped the apples and tossed them with lemon juice.  When everything was about the same temperature, I threw it all together, added some chopped red onion and the surviving parsley from my window box and mixed it well.  Surprisingly good!  You have to admit - it sounds, well, odd.  This made enough to keep me going through three lunches, plus a little for my parents.  I didn't tell them everything that was in it, as sometimes, TMI can cause a more timid person from exploring new taste sensations, if you know what I mean.  I believe that mothers call it "hiding the veggies".

I have a nice head of cabbage in the fridge, more apples, a few oranges, there are dilly beans, corn salsa, pickled beets, tins of sardines and tuna, all KINDS of things.  I have nuts in the freezer, dried cranberries, there is leftover turkey coming up - I think I will make it! 

My favorite way to pack a salad for lunch?  I prepare the dressing and pour a small amount in the bottom of a wide-mouthed Mason jar.  Then I layer the salad, starting with the heartiest ingredients that won't mind a nice dressing soak.  Twist on the lid, and BobsYerUncle!   They can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days, depending on the ingredients, and all you have to do before eating is shake the jar well.  I was feeling quite smug about this method until I ran across it on the Internet.  I'm still calling it mine.

Do you have some creative salad ideas?  Share!!!!  With 100+ salads ahead of me, I need all the help I can get...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


A word that means both "Hello" and "Goodbye" seems appropriate to use for my sweet Flora.

The vet came last night and helped her on to a more peaceful journey.  So, as I said goodbye to my dear girl, I imagined that a bright, sunlit meadow full of lush, green grass was waiting to say hello to her.  Aloha, Flora.  I will miss you something awful.

Flora with the first LLF lamb

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Musings.

Self-sufficient.  Self-sustaining.  I wonder, is sufficient enough?  Is sustaining just the minimum?  Should we be self-thriving?  There are times when I feel that this is all such a struggle, and what is it for in the end?  I think that part of the joy for me is the process - the learning of new things; the challenges.  Can I stop at the store and buy a bottle of vanilla extract?  Of course.  But I would rather make my own.  A lot of the things I have learned have been out of necessity.  I am a one-income family and my time is spread pretty thin.  That combination is ripe for self-instruction!  I can't call the vet for every injection, so I learned how to do it myself.  Clogged drains, rodent problems, plumbing problems, holes in the wall, broken thises and thats, I call me. 

I am not a doom-and-gloom, end-of-the-world type.  I am ever hopeful.  A long time ago, I decided that this type of outlook was way healthier for me and I'm sticking to it.  I have gone through a lot to get where I am today, and I would like to think that I am getting close to self-thriving.  I would like to think that I am pretty much up to any challenge - because I'm not afraid of failing.  Joel Salatin gave a great example in his latest book about a baby just beginning to stand on her own - she struggles up on her own two feet, then teeters and falls back down.  Her parents and grandparents cheer her on - they are so proud!  Do they say, "Rosemary, if you can't stand up correctly, just go sit down".  (I am flagrantly paraphrasing).  It seems to me that we all tend to lose our cheering section as we get older.  Hell's bells - if you don't have one, create your own cheering section!  There is nothing wrong with feeling proud of what you can do, no matter what it is.  I don't trail regrets behind me like Marley's chains because I believe that things happen for a reason.  Sometimes that reason eludes you for years...other times, it's pretty obvious.  If this path I've chosen becomes an onerous and unhappy trek, then I'll stop and reassess.  Otherwise, I'm going to enjoy the journey and any twists and turns still left in it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Giving thanks.

SweetLand Farm had a great idea and I am stealing it.  I hope she doesn't order to end this week on an 'up' note, and to continue the trend, I am going to list some things I am thankful for every Friday.  That is the plan - although I chafe at restrictions, as you know.  I may list them on random days.  I refuse to be pigeon-holed...

I am so very thankful, first of all, for all of you.  This single-homesteading business can wear you down when there's no one there to share the joys and sorrows.  Y'all are my rock.

I am thankful every minute of every day for the people I love - for my parents who retain their senses of humor, enough fortitude to be on their own at their age, for loving and supporting me no matter what I put them through.  For my sisters and my girlfriends and everyone else - you know who you are.  If not, I am slipping and I vow to do better!

I am thankful that I am able to live the life I do on my own, no matter how stressful it can be at times.  Mostly, it is wonderful.

These characters would fall under "The Ones I Love."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hard Choices

One of the hardest things I've had to learn is that, no matter how difficult, heartbreaking, miserable, awful and tearful a decision might be, the buck stops with me.  I am the one who decided to bring the sheep/llama/chickens/turkeys/pigs/rabbits/quail/Guineas/cats/dogs/betas to Little Lucky Farm.  By taking that step, I stepped up and took responsibility for their care, health and happiness.  And I honestly feel (well, most of the time) that I am doing the best job I can. 

It's all just peachy keeno when things are going well.  When there is no hitch in the lambing, when you're out being mobbed for treats, handing out the hay.  But things can also go very wrong.  Like the time I went out to find a lamb rigid with a dangerously high fever brought about by tetanus - which was brought about because I didn't vaccinate them in a timely manner.  I was lucky and found her in time - and managed to race the hour to the vet, who saved her.  It was an expensive lesson, but only in hard cash, thank goodness.

Now I am faced with my all-time least favorite decision.  One that I would gladly hand off to just about anyone.  I have to make a quality of life decision.  It's not like these animals can tap me on the shoulder and say, "Hey, there.  I'm not enjoying my life here and I would appreciate it if you would help me out.  And whatever you decide is fine by me."  Flora has hit a wall and I was up most of the night thinking about what to do.  She totters around, she chews her cud, she is skin and bones.  It's not parasites - it's probably a combination of old age and cardiac problems and heaven only knows what else.  She will eat her grain, lying down to rest frequently.  More and more frequently.  It would be a lot easier if she showed signs of suffering.  But that old girl is a stoic.

So I have taken the first step and called the vet.  The next is to decide a day and time.  Then there are the logistics of what to do when she's 'late'.  She has to be moved.  She has to be buried.  The latter is the most difficult because I live on 90% stone.  Thankfully, my dairy farmer neighbor has offered to help. 

When all is done, the only thing left is the missing her. 

P.S.  Since we're on the subject of tough stuff, I'd appreciate it if you all would send some 'head homeward' thoughts this way.  Kay's dear Phoebe, her LGD, was apparently frightened out of her wits when their silo came down in the storm on Monday, ran off and hasn't come home.  We are all concerned for her and her brother misses her terribly.