Wednesday, April 30, 2014

If I was only as flexible as my schedule...

You all know by now, that any real work (as opposed to the kind I get paid for) has to be squeezed in on the weekend.  Amid errands, parental visit, etc.  We won't even open the topic of a social life.  In order to keep this six ring circus in motion, I have to plan very carefully.  But, really, why do I bother?

Case in point:  This weekend I have GOT to clean out the chicken coop - I can do it in one day, if I don't mind living on Ibuprofen for a week.  Both days are forecast with only a chance of rain, so I am hopeful.  The shearer was scheduled to come early Sunday morning.  And there is a perennial gardening class that I really, really want to attend at a local library at 11 on Saturday.  I'm supposed to meet someone for coffee at a town twenty minutes away the same day.  Not too bad, you say.  She's got two days to do four things.

Here's the reality.  The sheep need to be kept inside so at least they are somewhat dry.  The llama - due to the endless and polar-vortex-laden winter - decided that she was only placing her hiney two feet out of the run-in shed all winter to deposit her llama beans.  This growing pile, in turn, got trodden down, frozen, doused with hay, frozen some more, more beans, more hay, more ice.  You get the picture?  It is not pretty.  It is also a solid 12+ inches of muck.  Some of it still frozen.  And because of this barrier, the gate to the run-in shed is not usable.  And it has rained every freakin weekend which put the kabosh on me digging it out.  Ergo, they cannot be contained.

This means I have to play musical chairs with the goaties and come up with a dry space that will also be more contained - my sheep are not well-behaved when it comes to putting your hands on them (other than scritches and graham-cracker-giving).  Plan B has been developing in the wee hours of the morning, as I lay, sleepless, running the loop.  I plan(ned) to put the goaties in the side portion of their run, partitioned off with a cattle panel fastened (somehow) between barn and fence.  This will free up the barn for the sheep.  Notice how I am ignoring the llama?  The arrangement should not been a trial for the goats - only one night that they need to squeeze into the Dogloo.  Easy-peasy getting the sheep in and confined and very easy to get my hands on them.

Have you noticed the past tense creeping in?

The shearer now has a conflict and needs to come Saturday afternoon.  I now need to do almost everything in one day.  This wouldn't be quite as stressful if it wasn't going to rain all week.  I am hoping that it does not rain on Friday - too much - because I need to separate the goats Friday night and get the barrier put up and sheep in the barn.  Did I mention that I also have to deconstruct the goat feeder in order to accommodate the sheep?  And do this all after I get home from work at 6:30?  No?

Saturday now looks like this - much screaming all day by the goats who are now put upon.  Much pacing and carrying on by the llama, who is now separated from her sheep.  Me jettisoning down to the class to quietly sit and take notes (hahahaha).  Me jettisoning further down to have coffee with a friend and a nice, leisurely conversation (hahahaha).  Me jettisoning back north to meet the shearer and rassle sheep.  At least I'll have all day to relax and shovel out the chicken coop.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Yes, I am definitely part of "The" 99%, but this post is about a WIP that is almost, so tantalizingly close to being finished, that I decided to post it as finished.  Almost.

All that needs doing is to wash and block it - which I am hoping to do this weekend, as we are forecast for rain again.  I am pleased with it, although it's far from perfect.  But it is my first large project other than a poncho.  And just think - I can still wear it beause it is endlessly cold and damp.  Isn't that just peachy-keeno?

Monday, April 28, 2014

The irony was not lost on me.

When I awoke this morning, there was something missing.  The sound of raindrops pat-pat-patting on the roof.  I knew it had to be Monday.  After spending a frustrating weekend, waiting for any good length of clear weather, I finally found it.  Just in time to go back to work.


It's not that there is any lack of indoor projects to do.  It's more that there are MANY MORE outdoor projects to do.  I have been waiting for two consecutive dry, breezy days in order to do the spring cleaning of the chicken coop.  I am still waiting.  The two consecutive days tend to coincide with the days that I am trapped in my office.  I am frustrated.

I got a big batch of my favorite granola made, made butter, made yogurt, did laundry - which I defiantly hung out on the line in the drizzle.  Because I knew it would dry TODAY.  Yes, I am still frustrated.  I also made a quick trip to the dump with my recycling.  On Saturday, I took my car up to my mechanic for an oil change and tire rotation, and to get a quote on fixing the things that the dealer did not fix - yes, I spoke to soon as to how wonderful they were.  After many calls and messages - none of which were returned - the limited warranty had expired, so I went with the trusted Midas group.  On my way back home, I also stopped at the greenhouse and planted four short rows of various carrots and two short rows of fennel.  I love being in the greenhouse - even with no sun, it is warm and smells of loam.  All it was missing was my DS Melanie.

View from the farmhouse.

Four short rows of carrots and
two short rows of fennel.

Peas coming up!
The rain finally cleared on Sunday around one o'clock, but it was chilly and damp with a brisk wind.  I did get a few things done outside - apple trees pruned and fertilized, sheep paddock raked - and paid my weekly visit to Jasmine, Rosebud and Alice (and the rest of the numbered cows...).  I put the dogs in the fenced in area behind the sheep's middle paddock and let them tear around.  Scrappy is now willingly playing with Lovey, which is a joy to watch.  They carry on - Lovey, tearing around at the speed of sound, with Scrappy leaping out at her when she gets close enough - until Scrappy has had enough.  Then Lovey digs many holes while Scrappy takes a respite.  I, meantime, was tackling the dreaded grass in my soon-to-be flower bed.  I swear that root base was a good, solid six inches.  There is nothing that eases frustration than ripping out big wads of crab grass and root clumps.

The coop is on hold for at least another week - we are forecast for rain from Tuesday through Friday, with a chance of rain both weekend days.  And I have the shearer scheduled

Monday, April 21, 2014


It seems that Spring is getting the upper hand these past few days.  Although our overnight temps are in the 20s (dammit), the days are in the 50s and 60s.  Yesterday, Easter, was down right gor-gee-ous.  Since our family had celebrated Easter on Saturday, I had the whole day to myself.  Oh Heaven!  So DS Melanie and I made a date to work on the farm - I picked her up at 10 and we worked a couple of hours in the greenhouse and on clearing the asparagus bed.  Which, by our reckonings, hadn't been touched in a couple of years.  Can we say "MESS"? 

The row of peas that we had planted two weeks ago are on their journey up!  We added another row of peas, a row of spinach, a row of chiogga beets and a small row of experimental red cabbage (as in the seeds are octogenarians, in seed age).  It was up to 100* in the greenhouse, so we watered everything well (after hunting down the water source and jerry-rigging some neglected hoses).  The asparagus beds will need more work, but we got most of the large, weedy, stemmy, overgrown stuff out and will tackle the Creeping Charlie that has worked its way across most of the beds.  We also split some large rhubarb plants and made some lists.  It is always such a good feeling when you are making food!  (None of my pics from the greenhouse took.  Could it be that my camera was in too much shock at the sight of....sun?)

I was so thrilled to be out in the sun, that I came home and tackled my own garden.  I cleared out the rest of the beds, planted onions and beets, set up my new, hillbilly flower tire planters, and schlepped about four wheel barrow loads into the woods.  Then I played with the dogs, scritched the sheep (and let them browse deliriously for an hour on GRASS), tried grooming the goats (not), cleaned off my deck, put on my Linda Ronstadt CD (What's New?), and had a glass of iced tea, seated on my Adirondack chair (with cushion, lahdidah).  The dogs collapsed here and there - Lovey likes to creep up on the chickens, who are basking on the steps in the sun, and jump at them.  This causes a big flutter and noise, which delights Lovey no end.  There is a gate between her and them, so no danger of actually catching one.

Lovey prowling the chicken line.
Pussy willow is almost in full pussy-willowness.
The sun sure felt good.
Scrappy prefers the shade.
You will notice that I have not yet gotten
comfortable with the idea of Spring.

I've got a few packets of zinnia seeds that I am going to start this week.  Things are going to be colorful this year, on the Little Lucky Farm.  I hope y'all had an equally lovely weekend and holiday!

Pooped pups.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My "Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Lunch Salads.

I was so enamored of my lunch salad that I had to post it.  Can you tell how busy I am? 

Layers of (starting at the bottom):  sliced black seedless grapes; chopped red cabbage; diced seedless cucumber; sprinkling of diced red onion; sliced strawberries; crumbled homemade ricotta; the end of the bleu.  With homemade vinaigrette dressing.  And in a recycled container.  Of course.

Sometimes, I am so virtuous, even I can't stand me... :) xoxo

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bad, bad, April!

Since I did, indeed, listen to last night's weather forecast, the view out my sliding glass doors this morning should not have shocked me.  But it did.  Not to mention what it did to little Miss Southern Girl, who has never seen snow.

Nor should I have been shocked that my car was encased in a shell of ice.  But I was.

I am so over winter.  I am.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend results and other nonsense.

So far, so wonderful.  Lovey has been living up to her name - she was a massive hit on Girls' Night, even before the martinis.  Much ooooing and ahhhing.  She managed to tuck her soft little noggin into everyone's lap as often as possible.  I don't know how much of our dinner disappeared under the table, but I think it wasn't too much.  And, yes, Scrappy got his share of scritches and head bussing.

My menu (we have something of a friendly competition going on) was simple but great (she said, humbly):  Whipped Feta Dip with blue corn tortilla chips, Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups (I will never labor through regular lasagna again), steamed and sauteed Broccoli Rabe with slivered garlic, mixed green tossed salad with red onion and mandarin oranges and homemade citrus dressing, and....Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze.  This last entry was really gilding the lily, so to speak.  It was a dense slab of dark chocolate with a semi-sweet chocolate glaze.  Egads.  A couple of martinis, some good conversation, and early to bed.  Perfect.

Saturday, I did my chores, zipped up to my DS Melanie's to do hers (way easier than mine), stopped at the transfer station, stopped in town and got Lovey licensed, zipped home and cleaned up (a little, sigh) and went back into town to attend a celebration of life service for a local woman.  It was such an uplifting and perfect service for her - short, poignant, and a packed crowd.  Then I met up with Sylvia at the firehouse for the after-service get-together.  Then back to my place, where there was more puppy and grumpy old man adoration.  Then she took me out to dinner at a wonderful little cafe in VT.  A wonderful time of friendship and conversation that I so sorely miss.  Then a quick stop at DS Melanie's to check on everyone, then home and in bed early.

Sunday, up early, more conversation over breakfast and coffee, then Sylvie was off, back to Maine and I was onto my chores (and one last go up at my DS's).  Then a couple of stops at neighbors, then out to the city to meet my DS Cynthia's train.  Then back home, a few hours to catch up and eat an early dinner, then up to VT to drop her off for her parental visit.  Back home and then I stopped.  While I did go through two days of angst (silently) over not being able to get out in my garden and get things done, I was able to enjoy my deck and hear the first symphony by the local spring peepers. 

This morning we were all dragging - except for Super Puppy - and it was back to work for me.  A couple more hiccups during the week, then it should smooth out for a while.  Not surprisingly, this next weekend - I have Easter Sunday free ALL DAY to work - is forecast to be cool and cloudy with intermittent showers.  Sigh.  I guess I could Pollyanna it and be glad I won't get sunburned.  :)

I leave you with some Lovey pics taken by my sis.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Trial by Fire.

I was so hoping that we (Scrappy, Lovey and I) could have a nice, quiet time to get acquainted and work out all the little scary quirks.  That ain't gonna happen.  Tonight is Girls' Night - three women+martinis+good food.  Tomorrow Sylvie is coming into town and staying with us (Heaven help her) on the sad occasion of the funeral of a friend.  Sunday, my DS from LA is coming into town for a whirlwind visit - we pick her up at the train station.  Monday we rest.  Or, they rest, I work.  What is it they say?  No rest for the weary?  The wicked?  Or The wicked weary?

Not much is getting done during this get-acquainted period.  We have found that Lovey has two speeds - fast and fastest.  It's like living with a two year-old.  Hey - she IS (almost) a two-year old!  She spent the morning pulling every toy out of Scrappy's toy box and dragging into the living room.  That finished, she got all my mittens, gloves, hats, and ear warmers added to the pile.  She didn't chew anything up, thankfully.  She's just....busy.  She and Scrappy are playing well together - she, low to the ground, kissing his face constantly.  He, fake-snarling and chasing back and forth. The cats are slowly coming out and staring at her.  Then darting to the back.  It's progress.

In the garden - garlic is just starting to peek up out of the soil.  The strawberries are starting to vibrate into life.  The clean-up task is gargantuan - I managed to clear out the chard and kale beds while waiting for Lovey to arrive.  I cannot sit with nothing to do, so I started to clear the beds.  I received my onion plants in yesterday's post - they must be way more positive than I that spring weather has arrived.  Looking ahead at the forecast, there is another - tho' short - cold spell coming next week.  I am hoping to get them in the ground on Easter.  Because of my DS from NH's schedule, we are celebrating on the Saturday.  With any luck, it will be reasonably good weather and I can start on the chicken coop.  I should be starting on the run-in shed, but, alas, that is an all-summer job.  I am already starting to noodle away at plans for keeping the sheep dry elsewhere for the shearer.

Turkey question, for all those who are more turkey-savvy than moi.  Penny (my new name for her) has stopped laying.  This appeared to happen right about the same time that Marie-Claire started setting on a couple of eggs.  My best attempts to check her for egg binding seem to indicate that is not the problem - although, while chickens are putty in your hands in the dark, turkeys are ALWAYS on guard.  She has also become very vocal.  Any ideas?  Input?  Ancient Turkey Egg-laying incantations?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hello, Lovey!

Yesterday was the day of Lovey's arrival.  The Intrepid Trio who were driving up from Mobile, Alabama, made the trip straight through.  They finally arrived around a quarter to one, after hours of rain, road construction, traffic jams, and potty breaks -- for the 16 dogs they were transporting to foster homes (and forever homes) up north.

The Intrepid Trio - Lovey's Foster Mom is center.

After quite a bit of excitement - it does take a while to remove dogs from their crates, put leashes on, walk them, water them and feed them - the human group straggled in to tuck into fruit salad, scrambled eggs and bacon, and to enjoy a potty break themselves.  I wanted every single dog in the van -- there are some very lucky families up here.

She is amazingly like Scrappy - but about a third smaller.
Waiting for Amy to come back.  :(

Scrappy and Lovey did some snarling/snapping posturing - (Watch it, Buddy!) - then settled down.  Scrappy managed to mark his territory through three rooms.....thank goD for tiled floors.  Lovey turned out to be a diminutive version of Scrappy - she is adorable.  Understandably confused and worried, she paced most of the rest of the day, finally crashing around 8, snuggled tightly against me on the couch, snoring loudly.  I am putty in her paws.

Uneasy truce - still looking for Amy.
Scrappy's look says it all.
I think that she will settle in well - we have a rather busy few days coming up, so I am hoping it doesn't throw her for a loop.  She does well in her crate, which is furnished with a cushy bed, soft blanket, toys and chewies.  She is learning not to tow me along on the leash, loves all the smells along the road, and is very soft and snuggly.  She is not so sure about me - she wavers from stuck to me like glue, to giving me the hairy eyeball and keeping her distance.  Scrappy, however, is Mr. Industrial Strength Velcro.  I think we will be just fine.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Busy is My Middle Name.

The weekend was one of those half-n-half kinds you get in the spring.  Saturday was grey, drizzly, windy, dank.  Sunday was sunny, breezy, warmish and got one all charged up.

Saturday was also:

Greenhouse before weeding (well, just started)

Greenhouse weeded (with my partner in crime)

The barn

Looking at the orchard
DS Melanie and I met at the farm and started on the greenhouse.  It was perfect weather to be snug inside a giant, weedy greenhouse.  We managed to get a mountain of weeds pulled and tossed in a compost pile and even planted a row of peas!  We then took a stroll around our (free) leased bonanza - you can tell how beautiful the view is from the orchard pic, although it wasn't an optimum photo op.  We manged to find the asparagus bed (that's next on our list), the blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and rhubarb - which needs dividing.  It felt so good to stretch and bend.  So good, in fact, that I completely forgot that I hadn't stretched that much in months.  I wasn't bending much Sunday morning....  But I was fired up enough to start my seeds and got a large flat of Savoy cabbage, eggplant, peppers (hot and sweet), and four kinds of tomatoes going and on their warm seeding mats. 

Sunday morning was spent at my parents' going over some foundation work with a friend who is giving them a hand.  As I imagine many of you know, the elderly are increasingly targeted by scams and villains.  That is why anything they need done, goes through me and my sisters.  It has nothing to do with my control issues.

Scrappy was with me all day on Sunday - we paid a visit to the same friend's new rescue dog, Roscoe.  Roscoe is a giant, black, 2 y/o Lab/Rottie mix.  He has a head the size of a dinner plate and WAY too much testosterone.  Scrappy was not impressed.  I thought, perversely, that this might loosen him up for the girl who is coming to stay -- tomorrow.  Maybe he'll be so relieved she is not twice his size and intent on humping him at every opportunity, that he will love her immediately.  Right.

I dragged my ladder out and trimmed the willow hedges so that they will branch out, instead of up.  I also gave the goaties their second dose of wormer, with more of it going in them than on me this time.  It was also nice enough to do all the dog laundry and put it on the line.  Joy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Civic Duty - or What I do in My Spare Time.

Twice a year, I volunteer to help with the Town's Rabies Clinic.  For two hours, we gently vaccinate cats and dogs in the Town Garage for ten bucks a shot.  This year, the spring clinic was early - so (read) cold.  But there's nothing like a steady stream of frantic felines and stressed-out dogs to warm things up.  I used to be one of the folks filling out the paperwork, but the vet (she of endless patience) grew weary of my omissions and dyslexic jottings and moved me into vaccine assistant (I fill the hypos) and cat/dog calmer/wrangler.  I look forward to this event like nothing else - other than my yearly trip to SoPo and, this year, my first (drumroll) trip to Minnie-soda.  For two hours I get to pet dachshunds (be still, my heart), visit with people seen only once a year, spend time with my favorite vet and her husband, and just bask, knee-deep in animalkind. 

We were commenting on how, each year, there seems to be a preponderance of one breed.  This year was the year of the beagle.  Last year was the year of the dachshund.  The year before was year of the foxhound.  This year was also the year of the tiny dogs - there were hundreds of them (or so it sounded).  Tiny dogs tend to bite you.  By the end of the night, I had perfected the Tiny Dog Hold - little head held firmly under my arm, tiny body in a death grip, hiney facing needle.  Worked every time with only one nipper. 

One fellow brought in four cats and his overwrought, overactive, undersupervised child.  This kid went tearassing around the garage, riling up the cats (and the humans), until the vet, very calmly, told him - "I'm saving the BIG needle for you...."  He was very quiet the rest of the procedure and, when his father returned with their two dogs, stood quietly by the door - the furthest point from the vet's table of operation.

These are the fastest two hours I ever spend - other than WT (weekend time), which moves at the pace of the speed of sound.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Can she do it!?!

Can she actually focus enough to finish this spring cardigan in time to wear this (gasp) spring?

Only (hahahaha) three more inches (including lace panels) and the sleeves.  Then washing and blocking.  I have sworn off all other projects until this is done.  Except for the potholder rug.  And tiling the living room floor.  And finishing the guest bath.  Then I have to wash my hair....