Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Things.

I needed a changer - ergo, the new "look" for the blog.  I love the description:  Ethereal.  That is so NOT me, but I am very fond of hummingbirds.

And the new kid in town:  Miss Apria.

She is still pretty leery of me, the sheep and just about everything, but I am plying her with love and shepherd's mix.  It was quite an uproarious day on Sunday - E and her husband arrived in their minivan (!!!) and unloaded Apria.  Then we went inside to do the necessary paperwork - all the transferring of papers/ownership/etc. nonsense that drives me wild.  Then we went outside where I had everything all worked out.  Would it be any surprise at all to find out that nothing - and I mean NOTHING - worked out as planned?  The only transfer that went smoothly was Hoosier.  He was not at all happy about being faced with a minivan, but eventually he got in.  I then sauntered down, feed bucket in hand, and led the sheep into the run-in shed.  Every last one of them except Cocoa the Crazy and her little loony lamb.  We must have chased her for 15 minutes, until we finally got her cornered behind the shed.  After rassling for another five minutes, E's husband gave up and hefted her up in the air and staggered up the hill.  We managed to get her in the van and went for Freyda.  Who managed to slip out of her halter and took us on the same wild ride as Cocoa.  Poor E's husband - he sure got his cardio workout yesterday.  And they had an hour and a half drive back to the farm.

We led Apria into the sheep paddock and let the remaining bonzo sheep out.  They came running and then slammed on the brakes as a unit and stared at Apria as though a Martian had landed in their midst.  It's been a little bumpy, but I think they will all be settled in soon.  Apria is much larger than Hoosier, who was sort of a squirt.  E said that he seems to be enjoying his new accommodations - I am sure that having Cocoa/nut and Freyda there with him will help the transition go smoothly.  Poor Apria has no landmarks - nothing familiar.  She keeps sniffing the sheep and looking puzzled.  I will get some close-up shots of her once we are better acquainted. 

Oh, yes.  According to E, Apria was "exposed" to a spotted male llama this past fall.  She will very likely have a cria this fall.  Mmmm.  Hmmm.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Musings

I am musing, today, about the Three Rs - Reading Riting & Rassling.  Those are my three Rs, not the other ones.  My Rs have nothing to do with Rithmatic.  And not to be a stickler, tho' I tend to be about some things, what is with the "R"s?  Reading - fine.  (w)Riting?  Non.  (a)Rithmatic? Non, non, non.

As you have all read (ad nauseum), I am reading books!  This makes me so deliriously happy.  How easy it is to be too tired, too busy, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (as the King of Siam would say) to take time out to explore new worlds.  While I wouldn't trade adulthood for childhood for my Aunt Nettie, I do miss being naive enough to think that I had tons of time - the world was my oyster and I was going to take my good sweet time and enjoy it.  Now, while I still may think that the world is my oyster - I am aware of the shelf-life of fresh oysters and I am in a hurry!

I have many favorite books:  Alice in Wonderland, Through a Distant Mirror, Confederacy of Dunces, The Beak of the Finch, anything by Dickens, to name just a few.  I think I grew up in a magic time - before television became as much a part of life as two-ply toilet paper - before computers, video games, and parental guilt.  My mother saw nothing wrong with plopping me in a playpen to amuse myself.  She was pretty adept at turning a deaf ear to my screeching  Very shortly, after receiving no attention for my bad behavior, I would busy myself with my toys.  I learned to enjoy alone time.  She got things done, I was amused, it all worked out.  Besides, as soon as I was able to toddle, I was off, so I am sure it was safer to keep me penned up!  Hmm.  I wonder if that harness thing started my lifelong love affair with dogs?

We would go to the little local library once a week and get a stack of books.  One book that we took out almost every other week, was entitled "The Sweet Patootie Doll".  Lawdamity, did I love that story!  I have absolutely no recollection as to why I did.  It was about a little girl who found a sweet potato that looked like it had a face.  So she dressed it up and hauled it around.  It had the usual dramatic bit where the little girl puts it down and it's temporarily lost, then found.  My mother loved to read it, and that might have had something to do with it.  So, for her birthday one year, I went on a quest to find it.  After 6 months, I think I found the last surviving copy.  For $125.  I bought it and I don't want to discuss it.

Riting.  I love to write.  I love to write with a pen, rather than a pencil.  I never cottoned to pencils.  I do my crossword puzzles in pen.  Now, don't get all het up thinking I'm bragging - you've never seen a crossword puzzle of mine.  Sometimes I've changed a word so many times it looks like another black square!  My third grade teacher, Mrs. Puca, was a real taskmaster when it came to learning proper cursive.  I found that I had a real talent for it and that suited my smug little brown-nosed self just fine.  But, besides that, I really LIKED to write.  And I still do, although my hands are showing signs of their hard use, and the cursive is a little shakier than it used to be.  I used to sashay up to the blackboard and write out the lesson in perfect chalky cursive.  Mrs. P. would go on and on about my lovely form, while my classmates stewed.  Not surprisingly, after school I learned the fine art of...

Rassling.  I was a tough kid.  I grew early and was able to hold my own right up until fourth grade.  Then I stopped growing and everyone else shot up.  Fourth grade was tough.  Little did I know, back in the old neighborhood, that I was in training for my true calling:  sheep rassling.  What I did yesterday went beyond rassling.  It was a knock-down-drag-em-through-hell-hath-no-fury-body-slamming event.  Hoosier, Cocoa and Freyda went to their new home and we were introduced to the lovely Apria.  I will admit that I had a fleeting desire to drop kick Coca into the van.  But I didn't.  We were too busy staggering under the burden of having to carry the loony tune.  Things have calmed down and the remaining sheep are not quite as leery of Apria as they were.  She's a beautiful, big girl with a heavy fleece.  Which is in need of a trim - this spring.  I had all kinds of visions of bonding with her, comforting Banyan after losing his crazy mother and his Uncle Hoosier, scritching ears, all that lovely stuff.  Instead, I threw hay at them and went inside and had a glass of wine to help me forget all the bumps and bruises.  Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Pleasures

Oh, how I have missed reading!  The kind where you can nestle in your chair with a good reading light, a nice hot cup of tea within reach.  No dogs or cats barfing.  Just the quiet tick-tock of the clock.  Of course, this peace lasts in my house for about a nanosecond.  The Boyz come flying through the air, Cookie wants to sit on my lap (all 20 pounds of him), Scrappy is making snorting noises as the Boyz come too close to his beloved toys/chewies/whatever.  Then Bernie can't take the chaos and needs to squeeze in next to me on the couch, with her poky hard head.  But, amidst all this kerfuffle, I am reading a wonderful book.  If you can savor a book, I'm savoring this one.  I am stirring my oatmeal at the kitchen stove, savoring this book.  I am sitting at the dining room table, savoring this book.  I am reading it in bed.  I will be sad when I've finished it.  But I will read it again.  Now that I've led you along the primrose path, I bet you would like to know when I'm going to get around to telling you what book I'm reading!  The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter.  I don't know that you could call it a children's book (there are a few references to um, the word (in its biblical form) that means what men and women do when there's no love involved...), but it is a book so full of love, wisdom and humor that it SHOULD be a children's book.  Just be prepared to explain (or not) 'the word'.  Although there has been a lot of controversy about the book's author, I prefer to accept it as it appears to me: a charming and compelling work of fiction that takes me into the hills and hollows, and into the hearts of people who I wish had been my grandparents.

Next on the stack is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  That will be followed by something from my all-time favorite author, Chaz Dickens (when you're as familiar with him as am I, you can call him Chaz.)  I've also got some interesting teas lined up to go with my reading (thanks to Carolyn Renee!), and a myriad of UFOs staring - if I may say so - rather impertinently at me.  So, I am ready for whatever the winter throws at me.  Mostly.  I hope.

Since I mentioned him again, here's Cookie.  He's a large and handsome boy with two less teeth, which has not marred his lovely, symmetrical face:

Resource:  There are probably Barnes and Noble coupons available for your winter reading enjoyment and savings.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pass it forward! Pass it on! Don't Pass it up!!

Kaye over at GigglesandRaspberries is onto something!  Now I've caught it and I hope I can {infect} the rest of you -- figuratively speaking, of course.

As part of the Hand Made Pay It Forward 2012, I hereby pledge to send something hand made (by moi) to the first five people who leave comments.  But wait!  Before you hit that publish button, there's a catch!  YOU first-five-commenters have to pledge to do the same!  It doesn't matter what you make, how complicated, or simple, it is.  And you have to pledge to send them out by the end of 2012.  So, there is no deadline looming over your shoulder, breathing guilt fumes down your collar.  You have the whole year.

And, if you happen to procrastinate until December of 2012 (note to self) it's your own darn fault.  I hope that there are five victims dear readers out there who are game.  You will be subjecting yourself to my creative whims.  Scary thought, no?

Comment if you dare....bwwahahaha.


The Results are In!

After a highly scientific random selection, the winners of the Book Giveaway Extravaganda are:

#1 ERIN!






Congrats to the winners!  Please email your mailing particulars to me at swomersley at gmail dot com.  Those who didn't win this round -- take heart!  There are three bookcases to go!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Do they make Quack-Traks?

I am so glad that there is no such thing as Global Warming or Climate Change.  I just can't tell you how the knowledge that everything is hunky-dory on the Earth front is helping me get a good night's sleep.  Drip.  Drip. (Sound of sarcasm dripping).

This was the Chicken/Duck Yard on Sunday:

Looking from Coop to Deck.
This is the Chicken/Duck Yard Tuesday morning:

Looking from Deck to Coop.
Notice anything different?  Every surface is covered with ice.  And very dangerous ice - the kind that has pools of water on top.  I was watching the poor ducks try to maneuver across the yard and they just gave up and slid on their bellies.  Banyan, usually bouncing and leaping with joy at the arrival of his morning grain ration, ended up doing controlled little hops, slipping and sliding toward the grain feeders.  We won't go into my tiny shuffling steps.  Sunday morning: 1 degree.  Monday morning: 30 degrees.  Tuesday morning: 41 degrees.  Will it be 70 degrees by Saturday?  I am just hoping that this warming trend will completely melt all the ice so that we can start off fresh this weekend with NEW ice.  (drip. drip.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Apparently, severe head colds are going around -- the woman and her husband who were taking part in the Great Llama Swap this past weekend, were both felled by it.  This did not bother me one little tiny bit.  It gives me another week to enjoy His Fuzziness.  I did manage to get him wormed which was like a mini rodeo.  Hey!  Another Olympic Farm Sport - llama rasslin.  Thank goodness I had the presence of forethought to keep his halter on.  He forgave me after a couple graham crackers.

Cookie continues to heal and is almost totally back to his large, sweet, normal self.  He is still bewildered that the kibble dishes aren't magically filled and persistently remain empty.  I have found that his being hungry is the best way to insure that he eats his twice-a-day canned food so fast he doesn't notice the crushed amoxicillin mixed in it.  Ditto with Bernie's twice a day, hidden-in-the-(insert here) pills.  We've gone through the cooked ground venison and just finished the cooked organic chicken livers.  Next is the free ranged cooked chicken.  Heaven knows how I'll top that -- she gets dosed until February 10!  Maybe I should hard boil some of Melanie's quail eggs and hide the pills in that...or a little pate de fois gras?  Shingles on toast?

Sunday morning brought a temperature of 1 degree.  Thank goodness the sun came out and raised the temps to the low 20s by afternoon.  This morning - same time - the temperature was 30 degrees.  Is it my imagination, or is this one wild winter?  Rain is forecast by the time I get to drive home.  Sigh.  I am hoping it doesn't start freezing.  If it does, I may just hang up my Muck boots and get out my skates.  I'll give that Apolo guy a run for his money!

Since none of my planned activity happened on Sunday, I took advantage of the free time and finished up my seed order.  I am expanding my raised bed garden again this spring - one more long bed that will run perpendicular to the five existing beds.  This one will be about 10-12' long, depending on how long the boards are that I have amassed in my 'wood pile'.  I am going to use this bed for squash planting.  Thanks to Hoosier and the sheep, their old paddock is about 6" deep with a glorious mixture of old hay and manure.  Black gold.  All I have to do is shovel it up and cart it out of there.  Yeah, right, that's all.  I think I might start looking for a hardworking, non-whiny high school kid that doesn't feel entitled to $30/hour. 

I'm finally starting to get into the swing of winter - I'm reading (!) at night, there's knitting on the needles, and my garden is getting organized (on paper).  There would have been fires in the fireplace, too, but with temperatures plummeting overnight, I cannot bring myself to allow all that heat to go up the chimney while I'm waiting for the embers to cool.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Musings.

Recently, I've been musing about trust.  I am trying to decide whether I am naturally distrustful, or only incapable of delegating.  Are the two any different, really?  Since we are told by the Nobs that all of our fears, weaknesses and strengths, too, are learned from birth-on, I've also been trying to find a reason for it.  This has brought up some interesting memories.  Yes -- here we go, back to childhood!  Which, alarmingly, is causing me to have to travel further and further back!

While most of my friends went to various camps during the summer, I went to northern Ontario, Canada, for my two weeks of Childhood Heaven.  Except for one year.  I don't remember the circumstances, and I may have gone to camp AND Heaven in the same year, but I went to an overnight camp for one week the summer I was 12 .  It was a very big deal.  I packed carefully, making sure to include my precious collection of plastic molded horses.  This collection was my prized possession - especially the rearing Palomino.  Those were the beginnings of my Cowgirl Days.  If I had to describe myself as a child, I would say that I was melodramatic, overly sensitive, stubborn, shy, and romantic, in a very child-like way.  I was also bossy, and prone to tantrums.  Geez, what a mess - no wonder my mother warned me about children like me.  If that makes any sense.

Back to camp.  So, there I was in my cabin with my camp-mates, of whom I remember almost nothing.  I remember weaving the obligatory bracelet, the emotionally-charged atmosphere of a cabin full of 12 year-old girls, playing by myself with my horses outside the cabin, but I especially remember the counselors.  Our cabin's counselor was named Amy.  I adored her.  I worshipped her.  She would have been in her early twenties.  She was tall, blond, tanned, and part of some wacky group within the counselors that believed they would be contacted by aliens and beamed up to a better life on a certain night due to fall on the night before the last day of camp.  Can I pick them?  Whether this was true or just a large hoax played on a bunch of het-up little girls, I don't know.  All I can tell you is that most of my camp experience was wrought with anxiety that my favorite counselor would be beamed up by a bunch of bug-eyed, green-skinned aliens and whisked away forever.  On that specified night they did all disappear.  But they were back in the morning.  My read today?  They were whisked away over the lake to the boys' camp counselors for a night of non-alien romping.  But it jarred me completely.  My worry for her had been so real - so purple-prosey-sopped in anxiety.  And then there she was, the morning after B(eam) U(p) Day -- over it, moving ahead, on her way to better things than soppy little girls.  Ouch. 

I am starting to hyperventilate just thinking about it.  Darn counselor girl.  As Monty Python so aptly put it (and as I  probably paraphrase), "And now for something totally different".  Let's talk about the necessity of "CUTE ALERTS".  Or "Cute Ratings".  I have had the occasional start, when opening a post or an email, there, without warning, was something so cute it made my eyes pucker.  But this is so painfully cute that it almost hurts to look at.  It should be illegal.  Don't say you weren't warned:

Baby Mini Pig
I want 20 of them.  I would give this tiny, fuzzy, morsel of cuteness a 25 on the Cuteness Rating Scale of 1 to 10.  Wouldn't you?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sorta Kinda Likea Mass Giveaway. Ish.

In a burst of energy (albeit a minuscule one), I went through bookcase number one and gleaned some interesting castoffs.  Here's what we're going to do.  I am going to list them (with pictures).  You are going to peruse (or not) and leave a comment (or not) with the number of the book you'd like.  I will formulate some sort of magical voodoo scientific method of randomly choosing multiple winners.  This should be fun for the math-challenged me.  Cut-off date is Tuesday.  Winners will be announced on Thursday.

1.  Slim hardback books from 1954 - Gourmet Cookery and Casseroles

2.  A Must-Have for Bird Lovers! 

3.  Not just Biscuits! Charming hardcover with basket making 'recipes' too.

4.  Basic but still a good resource - pass it on to a newbie canner!

5.  "Serve up a piece of the past as you savor the flavors of farm country cooking".

6.  Small farmers and localvores, take heart!
So, there you go.  Have fun and have a great weekend!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter Olympics - Homestead-Style!

I tell you, those athletes could learn a few things from Homesteaders!  I found myself participating in quite a few winter Olympic-style sports this week:

The Giant Slalom - gracefully and flexibly (oh, so NOT), I schussed myself in my big mucka boots around hillocks of ice and snow to get down the driveway to the mailbox and back without planting myself.

The Luge - this was a particularly complicated sport - it involved using both my plastic hay luge and my fanny luge.  It was made even more exciting by using both at once!  I always yell, "Bonzai!" just to entertain the sheep - and alert them to move back from the fence - Momma's comin' and she can't stop!

Speed Skating - without skates!  On the homestead, one doesn't need skates for this sport - not this winter.  Every surface, flat, sloping or otherwise is a sheet of multi-layered ice, glazed and wind-blasted to a deadly sheen.  I dare Apolo Ohno to deliver hay AND feed down the hill to my sheep without losing it.  I Double Dog Dare him!!

So far, this has been the iciest winter I can remember in a while.  It's all this yoyo-ing back and forth between 40s and rain and subzero and wind, with some snow sprinkled around.  No sissies need apply for Northern Homesteading, that's for sure! 

A sport that is not part of the Winter Olympics but should be?  Night Sheet Ice Walking without the Benefit of Light.  However, I am sure that I do not exactly cut a lissome figure as I juggle mail, bags and purse from my driveway to my front door these nights.  I wonder if Spandex would help....ACK!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trusting the Universe.

The Universe came through and saved my bacon.  I found a new vet - a wonderful, country vet, who has an equine and small animal practice that he runs singlehandedly (with help from a vet tech when needed).  I transported Cookie to the clinic yesterday, full of trepidation.  I had only spoken to the vet on the phone - had never met him.  I had never been in the clinic.  Was I putting Cookie at risk for the sake of mere money?  What I found was a small, two room cabin located next to the vet's house.  Inside, it was clean and spartan.  Two rooms - one reception/waiting and the other examination/surgery.  He was gentle with the terrified Cookie, answered all my questions, and off I went.  Later that afternoon, the vet tech called (a woman around my age named Sue - what's not to like?) and said that Cookie had come through beautifully and was recovering in front of the wood stove.  When I went to pick him up, I was greeted by the vet's lovely dog and cookie was in his crate very ready to go home.  I took a deep breath and asked for the total.  $197.  This included a full dental cleaning, the extraction of two canines, and his meds.  This was, as you might recall, over $900 less than the estimate I had received from my original vet.  I asked if I needed to bring him back and she said no - not unless there was any problem.  Needless to say, he has all my business.

My head cold is abating.  I took some duct tape and fixed my gate - just before the subzero weather.  I doubled the grain rations, and everyone seems to be perking up.  Bernie is taking her meds gladly in a combination of ground venison and cooked chicken.  My Lymes test came back negative.  I bought a replacement bulb and now can see while I cook.  I will be feeding two less bossy/hungry sheep after Sunday.  I still have my job.

So, this brings me to the question - why can't I trust the Universe?  I would love to be fully, totally trusting as is my friend, Rosie.  She has the bravery to open her arms, mind and heart and put her cares and worries and needs out to the Universe.  I used to scoff at this - that it was somehow a sign of weakness that you wouldn't take full charge of your own problems - stiff upper lip and all that.  But I can see (and envy) a real peacefulness that she has - that I don't.  I'm going to work on it, but, at this age, I make no promises.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dear Blogger.

Why is it that I cannot comment on my own blog?  Why do you shut me out?  Why do you hate me?  Just to let you all know that I am reading your comments and have been left with only telepathy as a means to reply.  So I am beaming love your way -- until Blogger releases its evil hold.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weird weather. Tough decisions.

So far, this winter has been totally unpredictable.  It seems that every phase comes in violently - with high winds and drastic changes.  Yesterday, when I awoke at 5:00 AM (yes, I slept in - sloth that I am) it was -6 degrees.  The dogs made fast work of their constitutional that morning.  This morning when I awoke at 4:30 AM (back to almost-normal), it was snowing and 28 degrees.  Right now, it is very windy and raining.  Wheehaw, Granny - get out the suede chaps!  We're in for a wild ride! 
I stand on the deck every morning thinking, "Shovel or not shovel?  Sand or not sand?"  I am glad everyone on the LLF has a snug dry place to hang out.

And, speaking of the LLF, there will be some changes made this weekend.  They are tough ones for me because I am a sentimental sappy dame.  I know that most of you can relate to the ever-rising costs of food, feed, taxes, gas, everything.  Except, of course, our incomes.  I had decided to put two of my Icelandic ewes on the market, as caring for and feeding seven sheep and a llama, and two goats and a flock of mixed poultry, was weighing heavily on my time and pocketbook.  I found myself doing nothing but feeding, cleaning up, and trying to balance out everyone's health issues.  There has been no quality time spent with my woolly charges - and that's not why I started up all this business.  Why I started up all this business falls under the category of temporary insanity, but I am SURE I had hoped for head-scratching-treat-feeding-looking-dreamily-into-ovine-eyes time.

As my life has gone recently, I had someone who was interested in two of the sheep, but they were not able to commit and I finally had to pass on them.  I then decided to put an ad in craigslist for Freyda and ended up on a rapid-fire email conversation over two weeks wherein a swap was formed.  What I hadn't planned was that Hoosier would be part of the swap.  I am very attached to him.  I l.o.v.e. his buck teeth and funny ways.  And his amazing markings.  I was not as crazy about the fact that he is intact and that can be problematic with sheep.  And, when there are no lambs, he tends to forget he is "protection" and runs the sheep over getting to the food.  Soooooo.  He, Freyda and Cocoa will be going to a llama/Icelandic/Nigerian farm in Massachusetts and Apria, a female grand champion llama and great guard animal will be coming here, along with a future breeding for Sage to one of her Nigerian bucks and the first female offspring of Hoosier - who I will keep and send Apria back.  Insert large sigh.  The good news is, Hoosier will get to feel his oats and have a much larger area in which to frolic.  I predict beautiful babies.  Cocoa and Freyda will also have larger digs and other ovine companionship.  They will also have each other.  It will be hard on Banyan and Linden, the mammas' boys.  But I am sure everyone, including myself, will survive the kerfuffle.  And I will be down to one llama and five sheep, three of them lambs.  I predict I will need lots of head and ear scratching after this weekend.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Musings.

Why is it, when we are hit with a (minor) illness, we revert to our child-like selves?  Personally speaking, of course.  I am usually as healthy as a horse and I can't remember the last time I got a big, soggy, miserable head cold.  Oh, wait!  It was yesterday!  You know those mornings when your head leaves the pillow a half hour after you've risen?  Where you just want to hang a bucket off your head to deal with all the "leaks"?  I am a horrible patient.  Antsy, frustrated, whiney.  And really, all I need is my mother.  Or a husband, partner, roommate, indentured servant to do my chores.  I wander about in my cold clothes, trailing damp hankies.  And I am darn glad I have a collection of hankies, as I do NOT use tissues.  I am too forgetful (and cheap).  There have been too many instances of the errant tissue left in a pocket - I do not have to describe the resulting laundry issues.

Of course, if I'm feeling lousy and sorry for myself, almost the last person I'd want to see is my mother.  She did not tolerate sickness well.  We got one day - one - to lie in bed and ring our little bell.  Then, if it was not some terrible malady, it was time to "get up" and do.  If I tried to squeeze out a little more sympathy (by now you all know how melodramatic I am was), she would rustle me up a dish of milk toast.  I tell you, that would put the roses in my cheeks - as I bolted out of bed just to get away from it!  How anyone in their right mind could think a combination of soggy toast sprinkled with sugar in warm milk would cure what ailed you is beyond me.  Hey!  Stop the presses!  It DID cure me!  However, my mother made the most wonderful custard.  That, my dears, is a warm, loving hug in a cup.

Having a head cold, while living in the Northeast in the winter, and dealing with animals, is not for sissies.  By the time I get all the sub-zero outdoor gear on, I am down to shuffling.  And everyone is hungry except me.  The only upside of all this is that I get to live in my fleece skirt, long underwear and hand-me-down cashmere sweater (only handed down because it has a paint stain - which doesn't bother me at all!)  I don't have to answer the phone.  My dogs are warm.  And I've discovered the Hot Brick Toddy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tina! C'mon Down!

Using a highly scientific method of random choice, I dipped into the hat and came up with Tina from Our Rustic Roots!  Congratulations, Tina!  I will post the book to you this week.  Please email your mailing info to me at my email address (in previous post).  Thanks everyone for encouraging me towards the path of Feng Shui!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A little extra time.

Since Blogger seems to be misbehaving, I've gotten a couple of emails from people who cannot leave a comment on the give-away post.  In the nonce, the give-away is open for comment until Saturday, with the winner being drawn by some non-scientific method on Sunday.  So let's hope they can fix whatever is wrong soon! 

p.s.  If you still have trouble leaving a comment, send me an email at swomersley at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Enough, already! How about a Give-Away?

Time to move along.  In my quest to reach an acceptable level of Feng Shui in my house, I am going through my books - especially my LARGE and diverse reference and research library.  I am a self-proclaimed book junkie impulse book buyer.  Baaaaaad combination.  Bad for me = Good for you!

This is a great book for sewers of all levels.  It has wonderful gift ideas and is a lovely, hardbound book with lots of photographs and a wide variety of projects.  It is also very similar to at least two others I have.  Sigh.

To be tossed in the fray for this book, just leave a comment of any kind below.  It doesn't have to deal with sewing - it can deal with sunrises, sunsets, guinea hens, or horseback riding.  Anything you feel like.  The deadline is Thursday, and I will be drawing and announcing the winner on Friday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anatomy of an Estimate

Just because I find this all so perversely humorous, let's examine the "estimate" given to me by the vet (ahem, Veterinary Hospital, thank you very much).  Then I will get it out of my system and call them to negotiate.

Every aspect of this estimate gets a Low Amount and a High Amount.  But it could go higher.  It won't go lower.

Oral Treatment Level 1
$344.50 (can you imagine a Level 3?)
This includes:  examination, hospitalization, pre-anesthetic blood work to assure organ health, sedation and in-hospital pain control, intravenous catheter placement and fluid therapy, anesthesia and anesthesia monitoring, whole mouth digital x-rays to look for invisible disease under the gum line, digital photography, complete oral exam under general anesthesia which includes removal of plaque and tartar, ultrasonic scaling, sub-gingival scraping (root planing), polishing and application of Oravet, nursing care, charting and record keeping, recheck appointment 10-14 days after procedure to discuss follow-up home care.  Pain medication, antibiotics gift-wrapping and sealants to go home are additional.

There are plenty of disclaimers, which lead me to believe there will definitely be a High Amount.

Dental Nerve Block
$25.25 (both Low and High) is that per nerve?

Gas Anesthesia
Low $225
High $337.50 high is right!

Oral Surgery (per minute) per MINUTE?
Low (60 mins) $240
High (90 mins) $360
Note:  These are canines, notorious for long, difficult roots.  Let's just say "Ultra High" at 2 hours

Small Animal Medication
Low $25
High $50

Then there is the disclaimer, and the promise to pay the full amount at discharge.  Or else, what?  They keep your cat?  Claim your firstborn?  Have you thrown in jail?  I used to love this veterinary practice and have been going for years.  It's not close and it's not convenient.  But they have grown into an institution and I am no longer feeling the love.  They make you feel incredibly guilty because YOU have caused this problem through your utter neglect.  Never mind that this particular cat, although sweet-natured, is close to 20 pounds of muscle and nerve.  He hates to be confined, held too long, fiddled with, examined, captured, caged, driven, poked, and prodded.  If they think I will rassle him to the ground every other day to examine his teeth, they are sorely mistaken.  I do the best I can.  I am cursed with cats with bad dental health.

My approach is going to be:  How much is it for you to extract his two canines?  I want no polishing, scraping, planing, bows, glitter or whatever.  Then, after a reasonable amount of time - when he's had the space to forget the horrors of the Veterinary Hospital and I've had the time to regroup (again) my finances - we will have the Oral Treatment Level 1.

I'll probably have to sign something that states that I am a neglectful and evil cat mother.  Sigh.

Monday, January 9, 2012

January - Get thee behind me!

Waaaay behind me.  So far this month: Bernie was diagnosed with Lyme's; same Bernie 'ate' part of an old sleeping couch, which had me running for the Hydrogen Peroxide and milk; my new goat gate broke; Flora, perfectly fine one day, was not the next; my frost-free outdoor faucet (#3 since I've moved here) broke, prompting a call to the plumber; who arrived as I came back from the vet, who told me that Cookie needs $1100 in medical care.  And most of that was over the past two days!

Time to do some hard and creative thinking (and financial waggling).  I'm trying to convince myself that ALL the bad stuff for 2012 is getting fit into one month.  How does that sound to you, Universe?

It's a good thing I availed myself of some comfort food yesterday (along with the comforting presence of a good friend).  I rediscovered my Moosewood cookbook collection and made a rendition of Spinach Polenta with Fresh Tomatoes.  For those of you in need of comfort, here it is:

Spinach Polenta Topped with Tomatoes (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers)
(I don't have the recipe here - but this is close enough)

2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn grits (polenta)
1 cup grated Parmesan
8 oz. baby spinach (I only had a 5 oz. package and it was fine)

Fresh tomatoes (regular or Roma - approx. 4 reg. or 8 Roma)  *I didn't have fresh so used about a pint of my own canned oven roasted Romas
2 garlic cloves pressed or minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Put the water, milk and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour the grits in a slow, steady stream into the liquid while stirring constantly.  Continue stirring until it thickens.

Heat the oil in another saucepan and add the garlic.  Cook until golden, then add the tomatoes, salt and oregano.  Stir until heated through and the tomatoes just start to soften.  When they are softened, take off the heat and stir in vinegar.

Back to the polenta!  Stir in the cheese, then add the spinach a handful at a time, stirring until it wilts.  When all the spinach has been added, make sure it's heated through, then spoon onto each dish and top with tomato mixture.  You can sprinkle with additional grated Parmesan if you wish.  It is easy and delish! 

Bring on the comfort!  And a lottery win would help a lot....

Monday Musings

I just finished listening to the most wonderful book - and a children's book, to boot.  Any book (or any thing, come to think about it) that Julie at World of Julie raves about always causes me to head in it's direction.  I decided to get the book on CDs, to help medicate me during my endless commute.  Honestly, it was so riveting that I ended up on a few occasions bringing it inside to play on my home CD player! 

Part of the cast of characters is an "unkindness" of ravens.  That stopped me in my tracks.  And it had me heading for the encyclopedia.  Some group names were mind-boggling:  a "clowder" of kittens?  Maybe in China, but shouldn't that be a "cuddle" of kittens?  A "gulp" of cormorants?  Maybe that's what you'd do if a whole "cloud" of them (think "The Birds") flew at you... And some were so darn appropriate: a "busyness" of ferrets.  I also found that, apparently, some poor creatures hadn't even been considered in a group.  That is just WRONG.  So, in the name of all things equal, I give you:

A Hill of Anteaters
A Bundle of Aardvarks
A Fleet of Armadillos
A Flush of Falcons
A Mao-tain of Giant Pandas
A Gargle of Guanacos
An Ick of Iguanas 
A Lotto Lobsters (sorry, couldn't help myself!)
A Kerfuffle of Newts
A Train of Rails

Our family loved words.  We played word games on our endless car trips - the usual "I Spy" games with odd spins.  "I spy something that should go on a sammich"; or "I spy the stinky feet of someone with a name starting with C".  On one unfortunate occasion, my youngest sister, who was quite smitten with pigs, was sitting next to my paternal grandmother who, good-naturedly, decided to get in on the fun.  "Oh, look," she said.  "I spy pigs!"  She was getting a little dotty by that time and, actually, there were no pigs.  C punched her in the arm and was inconsolable.  Would that have been a Phantasm of Pigs???

Friday, January 6, 2012

Out and about on the LLF.

Things are pretty well wrapped up for winter on the Little Lucky.  The run-in is rough but pretty wind-water-tight.  Hoosier thinks it's the bees' knees.  I have only to install the cross-braces perpendicular to the rafters (doesn't that sound builder-ish?  I owe it all to my Makita), and install the outside hay racks and inside corner hay rack.  Since the sheep go into a solid mob around the erstwhile feeder, I want to make sure that Hoosier gets his fair share of hay.  And I also want to keep him from spritzing the sheep with stinky spit.

Snug enough for winter

Cattle panel gate ready to install

The goaties have a light on a timer, a heated water bucket and a nice, thick layer of straw in their Igloo.  Sage has managed to poise herself daintily on all fours at the top of the dome of the Igloo.  I thought this was just soooo cute, until she started launching off the top and going over my pallet fence into the hay area.  Stinker.  I'll have to come up with a more permanent solution - such as another pallet atop the first - but for now I've Jerry-rigged a series of barriers that have flummoxed her so far.

The Goat Igloo

Chickie availing himself of the hay bar.
You should give me those treats because I'm adorable!
My poultry water heater seems to have bit the dust, just in time for single digit temps!  It's given me a good 5 years, so I can't complain.  I put a light in the coop that I now leave on when the night temperatures dip too low.  Two of the walls are insulated, and one is buffered by the shed.  that just leaves the front, which is fairly tight.  As those with chickens know, you don't want to cut off ALL the ventilation.  It can be worse than the cold.

Speaking of chickens, led by Freddy the Bearded Lady, they are slowly starting to lay again.  And what an array!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It is officially winter, here on the Little Lucky Farm.  (What do you think?  I have decided to name this chaos that consumes most of my waking hours.)  How do I know?  Is it the scrim of snow covering my frozen raised beds?  The battle of the species played out at my bird feeders?  The tentacles of extension cords extended from either end of the house?

No - it's because THE JACKET has emerged from it's summer storage.  I have had this jacket/parka for years.  Can you tell???  I bought it at a deep discount from Lands End because no one, apparently, cared for a reversible bright orange down parka.  Oh, silly them!  I figured that, should I keel over in the deep snow, there was more than a 50/50 chance that someone would spot me before spring.  Plus, it has four pockets, zips from chin to knee, has a hood that Velcros across your chin, and seems to be (please God) impervious to abuse.  I l.o.v.e. TJ and all it's tears, stains, pulls, and tatters.

Why, it's like a work of art:

Fine art.

Real art.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oh, Kermit! You were so right!

It's not easy being green.  Ever since that First Earth Day, I have been an ardent advocate for Terra Madre, my own Mother Earth.  I thought it was very clear that, if we kept on the same path on which we were heading, some terrible, irreversible damage would be done to dear old Ma.  So I have been recycling, reusing, remaking.  Going along thinking that it would get easier because everyone (read: government) would be on the same bandwagon, streamlining the process.  Oh, call me Pollyanna.  Or other names spring to mind.

Well, what?, forty-some years later, it's still difficult.  One cannot just prance, clad in their poufy dress (you have to read this post) into any store and buy a product that is thoughtfully, carefully and sustainably packaged.  One cannot (in this town) put just any plastic in the recycling bin.  One cannot be green easily.  I will admit that I am a nut about recycling.  I can actually envision landfills - and, in my heatedly fermented imagination, they are awful places reminiscent of the worst sci-fi nightmares.  So I stand over my kitchen trash can holding the remnants of some over-packaged product that I spent five hours and three times that many miles searching for that didn't come from our Chinese neighbors, and I worry.

Is it a 1 or a 2?  Why didn't I think to look at the store!?!  In order to find out if I can pop this baby into the plastic recycling bin, I need to read the little stamped number that is so incredibly tiny that it cannot be seen by the human eye.  I put on my reading glasses and go in search of a magnifying glass.  Packagers are ageists!  And woe is to me if the number that I can finally decipher is NOT a 1 or a 2.  Then I have to rummage around in that same fomented mind to come up with another use for it.  If I cannot, I am forced to drop it in the - gulp - trash.  And I am wracked with guilt in imagining it sitting atop a mountain of disposable diapers off the coast of Long Island for a nuclear age.

It should not be a surprise that I take personally the fact that Styrofoam was introduced on the year that I was born. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Musings

The very first Monday of the new year!  This time of year, I muse backward and forward.  In other words, I muse a lot.  There is nothing like musing backwards, when one is wearing the clear lens of hindsight.  I will have to say that I have very few regrets.  To me, regrets remind me of Marley's chains and shackles, long, clanking weights that drag you down and keep you from moving forward.  Since there is seldom a way to un-do what has been done, I try to find some nugget of good from whatever sticky mess I've wrested myself and put it in my pocket for future contemplation. 

Having a birthday on New Year's Day is a double-edged sword.  People tend to remember my birthday (good and bad, depending on how hard I am trying to forget it!) and I get my birthday off from work (saving myself from the dreadful "office celebration").  That's the good part.  Ish.  Ever since I have hit middle age, I have tended to try to ignore birthdays with a vengeance.  This is difficult in a family where birthdays are celebrated no matter what and especially if it's on New Year's Day.  Part of our celebration as kids was to be able to choose our own birthday meal.  If I had been born on any other day, I would have chosen my mom's macaroni and cheese, with carrot and raisin salad and a Hough Bakery white cake with white frosting and pink and green roses.  Instead, I got roast duck, mashed potatoes, baked tangerines, and a plum pudding.  While this might sound just grand, imagine the horror a roast duck presented to an 8-year-old who held Twinkies in a reverential light.  This was only, however, because we were never given a Twinkie!  Put the taboo on anything, and I NEEDED it!  (Unfortunately, this still holds true today.)  But, since we were good, compliant children, I suffered through this yearly meal, harboring a deep resentment towards everything but the mashed potatoes.

This year is a rather monumental year for me.  I have hit a milestone that I could never even contemplate even five years ago.  Call me Cleo, Queen of DeNile.  But I am taking a different tack this year.  I am embracing it!  I am rolling in it, glorying in it, giving it a big warm hug!  I am LYING!  I really just got worn down with everyone wanting to know what I was going to do to celebrate - offering me all kinds of advice, and not even letting me contemplate what I had originally wanted to do.  Which was nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  So who started all this birthday celebration nonsense anyway?  Hallmark?  Sara Lee?  Duncan Hines?  I'd like to have a little tete-a-tete with the guilty party.

Quite frankly, I am my most stressed on New Year's Eve.  For some reason, every year on that day, I want to slam on the brakes and go backwards.  I panic about the year being forever lost.  Then I get over it because I can't stop it, wacky doodle that I am.  Another big plus, in my book, is that I can finally relax and enjoy winter (remind me I said that when I'm up to my knees in snow and ice) and the respite it brings.  I could never contemplate NOT having this break - even for all the cold and snow and ice.  Thanks to the generous nature of my friends and neighbors, I am pretty much ready for it this year.  I have lots of things to do inside - and some of them are actually fun!  Can I stand it?  You betcha.