Friday, June 29, 2012

It pays to have a name around here.

Somehow, I missed the fact that Freddy the Bearded Lady was gimpy.  That is, until she was really gimpy.  By then I realized that there was something seriously wrong with her foot.  But what?  I headed to my favorite source of how to fix serious things - Leigh's blog.  I ran down the handy resource listing on the right and found what I thought it was -- Bumblefoot.  For crying out loud - who came up with that name?  I read the information thoroughly and came to the conclusion that I had missed the early/easy stages, and that some foot surgery was needed.  And I was NOT going to do it myself.  I do know my limitations.  Most of the time.

What to do.  I picked up the phone this morning and left a message for Doctor Rod.  It went something like this, "Hi, there Doctor Rod.  You may remember me - the one with the huge, fat cat that had both his canines extracted?  The one that could only catch one of her other two cats?  Well, I have another small problem with...with...a chicken.  I am very fond of her and she has injured her foot and could you possibly find it in your heart to do some minor surgery I will be glad to help." (I figured I had more chance of success by running it into one long sentence before the true nature of the call registered.)  I left my cell phone number and hung up.

While I was sitting in a loooong line of non-moving traffic this morning on my way to work (they had, through some amazingly stupid choice, closed four lanes of freeway into one during rush hour), my phone rang.  I looked quickly around to see if anyone would notice I was going to answer my cell phone - ha.  Everyone around me was yakking away.  It was Doctor Rod!  Sure, he would do it.  Did I need to bring her in today?  Was it an emergency?  Have I mentioned lately how much I love my new vet?  We set up an appointment for Monday morning.  I will have to help, as his vet tech is out.  He asked if I would mind if we wrapped her in a towel and I held her during the procedure.  I said that I wouldn't, and didn't feel I needed to mention that, less than a week ago, I had been pulling billions of feathers off her nameless, headless brethern.  TMI!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Terrors and Joys of Driving on a Country Road.

Sometimes, they are one and the same.

While driving to work the other morning on my favorite non-winter road over the mountain, I was doing my usual musing:  "If I won the lottery, what would I do with all that money?" Or, the ever popular, "Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall..."  I came around a curve in the road just in time to see a tiny, spotted fawn totter into my lane.  The squeal of my brakes and the string of unladylike commentary, did not phase him/her.  It just blinked at me with grave little fawn eyes and tottered back up the bank towards Mommy.  Meanwhile, my heart was doing the Bosa Nova.

Later that day, on the reverse trip, musing about other things - like the idiot who was tailing me at a half-car length - I come around another bend in the road and BINGO, there is a teensy turkey poult, headed determinedly in the opposite direction of its mother - and into the path of my car.  I was not aware that I was capable of such quick thoughts.  But, through my mind flew the following - "okay, tiny bird, big car, bigger idiot too close behind me, shineola."  Then I started tamping on my brakes, blowing my horn and gesturing wildly into the rear view mirror.  And, no, it was not a rude gesture.  Luckily, the driver got the hint and we both squeaked to a stop - me within inches of the poult.  Her within inches of my back bumper.  I believe we both took in a big gulp of air at the same time.  The poult's mother clucked frantically, and the little squirt wisely did a u-turn and headed back to its mother.  We continued on, this time the tailgater was a respectful distance behind me.

This morning, as I was hesitantly inching along the same road - you could say I was a tad gun-shy at this point - a young porcupine waddled confidently and with purpose...into my lane.  Luckily, all my synapses were on full alert and I was able to slow down and enjoy the view without risking limb or paw.  There is nothing like a small, fat, prickly animal taking his/her good, sweet time because they know they can.  Figuring that I was now in the clear, I picked up the pace a bit and was promptly dive-bombed by a red-tailed hawk less than a quarter mile down the road.

I mean, really!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where's my napalm?

It's WAR, I tell you!  Between the slugs and chipmunks, I will be lucky if I get one goshdarn strawberry.  I opened the front curtains this morning and, lo and behold, there sat a fat-assed chipmunk chewing away on a strawberry.  Right in front of the window.  And he/she was staring at me in a very cheeky manner. 

The Victims.  If you bigify, you will see where their nasty
little rodent teeth chewed little bits off my strawberries.
I immediately went into the laundry/gardening/tool/storage/everything else room and got my bag of organic blood meal.  Looks like I will have to sprinkle the perimeter of the strawberry bed every other day.  They already got every. single. one. of my red currants.  Apparently, they either don't care for the black currants or haven't fastened their beady little eyes on them yet.  I have put up bird netting and now liberally sprinkle blood meal around them.  Next up is the barbed wire and vicious dogs. 

The chicken wire fencing did keep the rabbits out of my cold frame and herb bed and all the raised beds (except the garlic, which they apparently don't care for), and I almost had myself convinced (deluded is more like it) that it was safe to let the chickens out for a free range in front.  Good thing I read Carolyn Renee's post first.  It might have tipped me over the edge.

Enough of the ugliness of gardening!  Let's move on to something more heartening - like flowering things!  It always seems to happen the same way: everything just pokes along and you fret over it, then one morning you come out and everything is in bloom.  Here's some of what's blooming on the Little Lucky Farm:
Cucumbers are flowering.

Taters are flowering.
Love my geraniums!

Martha Washington Geranium.

Curly parsley and nasturtiums.
I take the geraniums inside every winter and then plant them in a big pot outside my front door.  There's nothing like something pretty at the door to perk you up!  The Martha Washington geranium is new to me this year.  Seems like they are the "hot" item locally.  Of course, having almost zero willpower in nurseries (or anywhere else), I bought one - they are pricey, as are all 'hot' things.  I am pretty disappointed.  It will be my first and last.  A friend has a scented geranium that I love - it's Citronella.  I may pester her for a cutting or two.  I am trying edible window boxes this year - I have to check the drainage, however, as the foliage is looking a bit peaky.    I will do a more 'comprehensive' garden post later this week.  That is, if I don't wake up some morning and find everything's been eaten to the ground.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Musings.

I was musing about what a worry-wart I am.  And I think I can follow the trail of 'worry' beads back to when I was just a tadpole myself - a blissful 8 year old with nothing to think about but school, cleaning my room, hiding my field mice in a shoe box, and feeding my beloved guppies.  It were the guppies that done me in.  My mother was not one for 'pets', although she did agree to a dog.  A small dog.  A small dog she could train.  You know, that dachshund was the ONLY doxie I have ever met that was truly trained.  My mother said - "Go do your business", and Inger would make a beeline for the pine trees in the back of the yard.  Once, she went within a foot of a rabbit without a sidelong glance.  She knew my mother meant business.  As did we all.

Anyhoo, back to the BGs (beloved guppies).  After the annoying constant whining and crying and carrying-on, she let me get a fish tank and some guppies.  I cleaned the tank every week and picked out some plastic ferns and a little castle and treasure chest.  I loved them.  And I was thrilled to watch as Mama Guppy grew fat with babies!  And even more thrilled when the babies were born!  And then the parents ate them!!!  I was horrified and kept a close watch on my own parents for quite some time.

In the six years that I've lived here, I don't think I've seen my farmer-neighbors without their feed company caps on more than a handful of times.  And every time that I have, I am reminded of the fragility of egg shells.  It must be that most of them are bald as an egg and, since the caps are on about 99% of the time, when the caps are doffed, the bald pates are very reminiscent of those very same things - pale egg shells.  It makes even the burliest of farmers look rather adorable.  I drove by my neighbor's farmhouse this weekend and witnessed such a sweet scene - Old Leo bending down slightly from his stoop, while his daughter gave him a smooch on his pale, bald head.  It brought tears to my eyes.

Despite the fact that the G's are like a bunch of old yentas, gossiping mightily at every occasion - they all perk up when a new victim listener walks into the barn - they are a very tight group.   Cows on the road?  A posse of red pick-up trucks descend (they seem to prefer red pick-ups) and the cows are taken in hand.  Someone not up to snuff?  The same posse descends on the dairy barn and chores are done.  They visit each other often; you'll almost always find one or the other leaning on a red pick-up, chewing the fat, spreading the word.  And they all keep an eye on me and my place.  Leo or Doug or Elmer or Lou will scrap their boot in the dirt and say something like, "You know, yesterday there was a grey car in your driveway.  Hadn't seen it before....." Then I assure them it was allowed and all is okay.  It's nice.

p.s.  Linking to Nancy at Little Homestead in Boise and wishing her a Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer arrived. And how!

There is nothing worse for a worrier than to hear that the weather is going to be a scorcher.  With heat warnings, red flags, alarm bells, and all that jazz, the thermometer hit very close to 100.  This, on the day that she has to be locked in an auditorium learning about planning boards, zoning boards, soil restoration, and watersheds.  Hmm-mm.  I was up and out at 4:30 and dumped and refilled all the water buckets.  Then I let the sheep into their grassy area until I left for the workshop. Checked the rat-trap (empty - yeah!) and watered the garden, potted plants, cold frame, and anything else I could think of.  Then the dogs and I took a fast walk (or a drag, in Scrappy's case - he hates flying insects and must stop and snap at them every six inches).  I closed up the windows, drew the curtains and turned on the dehumidifier.  And then drove 40 minutes to sit in the workshop not hearing a word that was spoken because I was too busy listening to this:

"OMG, did I remember the Fricassees?  Did I let them out?  Will they be roasted?  Did I fill the chickens' waterer?  If I did, did I remember to uncap the water access?  Will the sheep have enough sense to go into the shed?  Will there be prone bodies scattered all over the homestead when I get back?"  Of course, everyone was fine, although they were staring at their waterers in dismay.  It was so hot, the water was way higher than tepid.  So I went around and refilled all of them.  Much happiness and chicken gurgling.  I even took some time to sit in the shade with the goaties and I gave Chickie a therapeutic whole-body scratch.  He loves those.  He is growing a little beard, the cutie.  My boy is growing up!

I was able to join Sylvie and friends at yet another bon voyage feast last night.  While I wish her all the best and want nothing but happiness for her, all this "good-bying" is starting to rankle.  I mean, I do put on a good face and chirp away, but I really DON'T want her to go.  Just saying.  Full disclosure and all that.  But go she must.  The woman who hosted the 'do' is a very lovely, interesting and talented woman with a beautiful home.  She and I bonded over her bantams while Sylvie's eyes glazed.  Luckily, there were other people there who were not so ga-ga over chickens.  Fools.  (kidding)  I brought a new salad that is now replacing my favorite massaged kale salad - it's a broccoli salad with bacon, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, red onion and is topped with a mayo/yogurt, agave nectar, apple cider dressing.  Dreamy!  I was very happy that there was some left over so I could enjoy it again for lunch.

Today was a repeat of yesterday - without the workshop.  Out at 4:30, sheep on grass, water in waters, water gardens, walk dogs (drag Scrappy), stare at work wardrobe trying to find something cool+professional.  I gave up and just tried to match.  There's lots going on at work.  And what am I thinking about?  (See paragraph 2.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Been there. Done some of it.

Such an interesting weekend.  I have noticed, though, that people in my office have ceased to ask me what I did on my weekends.  Wimpy ones.  I would have told them, "Processed a dozen chickens, harvested garlic scapes, helped Sylvie move stuff, drove to Vermont, made hummus, made garlic scape pesto, delivered bee ware, delivered 10 dozen eggs to the local farmer's market, trapped ratties, made dinner, pulled pin feathers whilst watching an Ingmar Bergman movie."

Top that!  Seriously, it was one of my more varied two-days-off.  Luckily, the Universe was smiling on us, weather-wise.  It was a bright, sunny, low-humidity day (both), and there were four of us working with the chickens.  May I inject here that I will never do that many chickens again?  Do you know how many feathers are on a chicken?  Do you?  Well, I do now and it's billions.  Of course, I did completely, willingly and with much thankfulness not witness or participate in the killing part.  And, while I witnessed the gutting part, I did not do it.  I was too busy dealing with the twelve-plus billion feathers and removal of same.  Kay and her husband - a surprise and welcome participant - helped with the plucking.  If it had been just me, I would still be there.  If I was going to do this on a fairly regular basis, I would be the first in line to pony up the bucks for a plucker.  But, I will NOT be doing this on a regular basis.  I retained a breeding group - a rooster and two hens - so that, if I wish for a chicken dinner in the future, I will gather up a few eggs and incubate them.  A few at a time.  All in all, it took us a little over two and a half hours to finish up.  And, by the third bird, I was a lot less nit-picky about the pin feathers (which is why I was watching a dark, moody Swedish movie while finishing the job.  It seemed appropriate.)  Chickens, without their clothes on, are not cuddly and I was surprisingly detached.  It was not how I imagined it to be.  But we know how over-active and fevered my imagination is.  Kidding aside, the experience was sobering and made me very aware and respectful of the source of my food.

After everything had been cleaned up and put away, I zipped home to put the birds in the fridge and drop off the huge bag of garlic scapes I mooched off my neighbor, then drove over to Sylvie's to help her move the heavy things into her POD.  There is an amazing amount of space in these things - and such a great and clever idea.  We got some of the bigger things moved in and there was still a lot of room.  The biggest challenge is to figure out how to best lash everything down so there is as little shifting around as possible when the POD is moved to storage.  I am assuming the POD movers are not related to the USPS and will not fling it about from point A to point B.  But, the best part about PODs is that they don't have feathers.

I then zipped up to VT to get gas and buy my dad his Father's Day chocolates.  Then I zipped home - stopping on my way to see a friend who is not often home but was.  As chance would have it, I pulled into their driveway at 5 minutes to 4.  Four o'clock being their cocktail hour.  It's all in the timing.  I then spent a very nice hour, sitting on their porch with a glass of white wine while we caught up.  It was very nice and civilized and in complete contrast to my morning.  Then I zipped home, did chores, fed everyone, consoled the surviving three fricassees, whipped up a batch of pumpkin hummus for a Father's Day appetizer, and made a batch of garlic scape pesto.  Then I had another glass of wine and stopped.  If I have a day planned like the day I had on Saturday, I don't dare stop before the end. 

Sunday was a blur of delivering of bee ware, cooking, cleaning, and spending a very enjoyable afternoon with my dear daddy-o, mother and Sylvie - who is gracious and listens to the endless-loop conversation - or monologue - of my father while he relives his grade school days, finds her time in France fascinating and grills her mercilessly about her family heritage, background and any other topic that whizzes through his bean while he has her as a captive audience.  I, ungrateful friend that I am, left her there with nothing more fortifying than a glass of iced tea and beat a hasty retreat to the kitchen.

So, as the dark and moody Bergman movie dims and bid us pa Avsluta, I leave you with a photograph NOT of chicken plucking, but of a flourless concoction - Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies from the latest Martha Stewart Magazine.  Better, no?

No flour.  No fat.  No kidding!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Musings.

As I stood in the blazing sun, up to my elbows in chicken feathers on Saturday, I was listening to the conversation wafting about me.  In amongst the flies.  One of our group of four has lived in the area for many years - since the early 70s.  As he recounted the amazing stories of small-town characters, I realized that you didn't have to travel to Europe or even the Big Apple to write the great American novel.  Or even the semi-great American novel.  You could move to our town.  There was wife-swapping, a bigamist who managed to keep two families within 15 miles of each other completely separate and in the dark, a town inspector who left his wife (and girlfriend) for another girlfriend, and a thriving pot growing business on hundreds of acres (finally discovered by the Feds).  It was amazing. 

Lately, I have been shutting off all noise-making objects (except my refrigerator) and living in the silence.  Of course, it is seldom silent - there are the chickens, who carry-on like no ones' business, the birds, the wind, my wind chimes, the neighbor's cows - fat, glossy things, the sheep - fat, fuzzy things.  There is the clicking of the dog/cat toenails on the floor.  The scuttling of (bloody little) chipmunks through the gutters.  The incessant back-up sirens of heavy equipment, crunch and crash of machinery and gravel, downshifting of dump trucks as they grind to and from my corner.  There is no lack of sound.  It is ALL preferable to the news.

As I was whipping up Father's Day dinner and dessert, I was musing on how all the women in our family approach recipes from different directions.  My mother, German goddess that she is, follows it so closely that she will refuse to make something if she doesn't have the very item called for.  My youngest sister scoffs at recipes and can make amazing things from thin air (or a paltry assortment of pantry items).  My other sister is closer to my mother, but will substitute if pushed.  I start off with the "idea" of the recipe, without usually seeing if I have the ingredients.  Then I ad lib.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.  But I don't worry about it.  Perhaps I should...  When we were kids, and our chins cleared the top of the kitchen counters, my mother started working on us.  Besides dishes (and the endless fights over who got to wash - done first - and who got to dry - done last), she created "Sunday Chef".  One Sunday of the month, each of us got to create and cook a menu.  The only taboo things were pricey items (my Lobster Thermador got a thumbs down, as did my Pate de Foie Gras), things she couldn't find in our local grocery store and weird things - like Sea Cucumbers.  Kidding.  Those things are so icky they deserve the gold medal for icky.  Other than that, anything went.  We would spend days combing through her cookbooks (Betty Crocker, Fanny Farmer, Joy of Cooking circa 1943 - which I still have) and present our menu.  My middle sister and I were slightly adventurous, but my youngest sister invented fusion.  Think Swedish Meatballs Chop Suey.  Yes, she made it and we ate it.  But the entire process engendered excitement about cooking and food and a lifelong interest in ingredients and nurturing.  Not to mention, for a few of us, a lifelong abhorrence of anything 'fusion'.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I've said it once, and I'll say it again.

Homesteading ain't for sissies.  And neither is getting old.  So, if you're an old homesteader does that mean you are some kind of hondo-woman?  Hmmm.  Mehbe.  My mornings have been in a rut.  Get up at 4ish (can't help it, honest); let dogs out and (quietly) yell a Bernie to NOT rip down my fence to get at the rat trap.  Iron, knit, wash dishes, or whatever until 6.  Feed dogs/cats.  Walk dogs.  Check rat trap (always full - they are either stupid or in a rut, too).  Feed me.  Let out Chickens One and then Chickens Two (the Fricassees).  Feed and water same.  Feed goaties.  Feed sheepies.  Do a little bonding (iffy) with Camel-girl.  Water things. Pack lunch.  Shower.  Dress for work.  Put loaded rat trap in car and deliver to neighbor for part two of catching rats (don't ask and I won't tell).  Drive to work.  Where, I bet, NO ONE ELSE had to deal with rats before breakfast.

At least some of my chores will be lighter after Saturday.

Because of the fate of my friend, M's, Red Rangers, I did not put mine out 'on pasture'.  Too many varmints out there with blood in their eye.  So they have been living (cozily) in the smaller coop with a nice, safe fenced-in area.  This worked out well in the beginning but, as these meat-specific birds go, they are now lumbering around like small, feathered Godzilla characters.  I have been trying to train them to go into the coop at night by turning on the interior light to make it look all homey and welcoming.  I must be out of my mind.  Some do stagger up the ramp and go in.  Some go partially in, then think it's just a swell place to turn around and plop down in the doorway to see the sights.  Which completely blocks access for the rest of the ignoramuses.  So, every night for the past 6 weeks, I have been chasing the Stubborn 5 (as I call them) who refuse to go in, and heaving placing them gently in the coop.  Which results in much hoopla and banging around.  Then I turn off the light and all is blissfully quiet.  Well, Saturday is F-Day (as in Fricassee) and all but three are heading off to Kamp Kenmore.  I am keeping a breeding group because I will never EVER raise 15 again.  And, get this, I am participating the processing.  With my neighbor, the Lithuanian Lawnguy, and Kay.   They both have experience in this type of thing.  I do not.  But, not being one to back down from a new experience - no matter how gruesome it may be - I am taking responsibility for what I eat.  I get to do the plucking.  Oooooh.  Gritty details will be forthcoming.  But no pictures.  I may be a sissy, after all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Winner! Amy @ Heritage Homemaker!  Congrats, Amy.  Please send your mailing vitals to swomersley at gmail dot com.  I predict glamor in your kitchen!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's been awhile.

I thought it was time for a give-away - whaddya say? 

Up for the offering is "Retro Aprons" by Cindy Taylor Oates.  This is a small booklet with the how-tos of a variety of apron styles - short, full, ruffles (hey Carolyn Renee!), pleats, you name it.

Nothing fancy in joining in, either.  Just put your Jane/John Hancock down in the comments.

I will draw the winner Wednesday morning.

We all need MORE aprons!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Musings.

Where do those songs come from?  The ones that pop into your head out of your internal music box's ancient history?  I had dropped something and said, "Oh, Susan."  Sigh.  "Susan, Susan bo-boosan, bananafana fofoosan, fee fi momoosan, Susan."  For those of you youngsters that think I have finally gone off my rocker, that is from a dusty old song, called "The Name Game".  It ranks right up there on an intellectual level with "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini".  Never heard of either?  Go to your room!!!  Kidding.  But where, in Heaven's name, did this song come from?  I feel like my brain has one of those jukebox-type-thingies and it whirls around of its own accord - slipping a song out of a record sleeve (never heard of those, either, have you, you whippersnappers...) and pops it onto the phonograph (oh, never mind.) 
I have been mightily musing about the nuances of denial, stubbornness, and genetic make-up.  I have plenty of both denial and stubbornness, which is enhanced by my German/English/Welsh/French heritage.  Plus, I still have that nugget of child's brain that refuses to mature.  And, let's not forget pride and ego, both of which I am not lacking, being human and all. 

By now, y'all are saying, "Yes, yes, but blah, blah, blah, what is the point here?"

The point is, I have realized that I cannot be and am not, the picture of single-homesteader-almighty that I had convinced myself that I was, is, am.  It is a shock, I tell you.  (Didn't I tell you I was Cleo, Queen of De-Nial?)  As should be obvious to anyone who has read these rambling posts for a couple of years now, I exist in a slurry of random thoughts most of the time.  I realized this was the child-nugget-brain (sounds like a great theme for a bad sci-fi movie, doesn't it?) running interference so that the mature part of my brain would not be able to focus on reality.  Wow, there's a sentence for you.

A daily conversation within my mind goes something like this:  MB (mature brain) "OMG, the goats have destroyed part of the fence again."  NB (nugget brain) "lalalalalalala".  MB:  Why am I always so tired?  NB:  Hey!  I have time to put fencing around that raised bed!  I don't have to leave for work for another 15 minutes! 

See the problem?  Well, MB has finally muscled to the frontal lobe and things are going to have to change.  Can't say that I'm not disappointed, but I am not disillusioned.  NB refuses to release its hold on the vision of Homesteader Susan Extraordinare, which is just fine with MB and me.  But, in the meantime, I've let go of the beekeeper vision and will be letting go of the dairygoatmaid vision.  I remain a fulltime employee off-stead, single person with two hands (maybe two-and-a-half, if I squint my eyes and go with NB), gardener, keeper of the homestead, shepherdess and flock tender.  And fighter of all things rodentia.  That will have to do for now.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


After searching without success for guinea keets, I decided to take matters into my own hands and bid on some fertile eggs on eBay.  Let me say that I am very glad I didn't pay a lot for them.  15 eggs went into the incubator (with its automatic egg turner - I've learned a few things) and this many hatched:  0.  I was diligent in my monitoring of both humidity and temperature.  The thermometer was new and worked properly.  There were no fluctuations in room temperature.  Zippo.  That's disappointing.  Now I'm trying to decide whether I should try it again, or keep checking craigslist in the hopes that all those who rushed out to get Guinea keets found out how much noise they make when they grow up and are trying to unload them as fast as they can.  A girl can hope, you know.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I've been robbed!

As if dealing with the 'spit-mobile' wasn't enough ugliness for the week, I came home to find that my lettuce had been pinched.  Eaten.  Gnawed.  Stolen from me!  Muttering about the terrible things I was going to do to the little buggers, I rounded the corner of the house to find -- they had eaten my parsley, too!!!!  (Cue in Elmer Fudd singing to the Loony Toon rendition of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries - "Kill the Wabbit!  Kill the Wabbit!")
Thought this was safe in the coldframe - maybe the large, succulent
lettuce leaves waving ripely from their pot was just too
much of a temptation.
Radicchio centers - gone.

If you can bigify this, you will notice the nekkid parsley stems.

I have noticed that the rodentia population is rampant this spring.  I have gotten over the cuteness of chipmunks - all 500 of them - after they chewed down my sunflower starts for the fifth time.  I am beyond over the not-so-cuteness of the ratties (see #5).  I am now narrowing my sights on the dwindling cuteness of the army of rabbits that skitter across the homestead.  Of course, I know that rabbits + lettuce = they win/you lose.  That is why I planted my lettuce in a coldframe with 12+ inch sides.  They scaled the ramparts!  They also found the one little hole I missed that led them into my herb bed.  Ergo - scalped parsley.
Sunflower seedlings cut off at the seed (bigify if you dare - it's not pretty). 
However, Morning Gloriesmust not be on the
 chipmunk diet - they were not touched.

It's a good thing I am a morning person.  I had to squeeze in rabbit-proofing my coldframe and herb bed.  Just as I was ready to pat myself on the back for winning another battle, I came across my bee balm.  Something has eaten all the buds off the stems.  But wait!  There's more - some'one' had completely unscrewed the bottom of my hummingbird feeder.  What the...?!  I am thinking squirrels, as a bear would have ripped the sucker off the holder and smashed it.  Uncle already!!

For your viewing pleasure - the 6+ lb. piece (all one
piece) of matted, felted llama fleece that came off
of the mad camel on Monday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We had us a camel rodeo!

Lordawmighty.  It was not a pretty sight, let me tell you.  Kevin Ford arrived early morning and I had closed the gang in the shed for the night - since there was rain forecast for the next 200 days.  He set up and we moved the three sheep through quickly and without too much fuss, although Linden seemed to feel the entire process was way beneath his dignity.  He's an eely thing, for a fat little sheep.  I always stop to admire Juno's beautiful, black, dense, velvety pelt.  She is such a beautiful sheep.

Then I went into the shed to put on Apria's halter.

It got real exciting after that.  She was surprisingly good about my putting the halter on.  And she came out without too much hesitation on the lead.  Then she noticed that there was a foreigner in the mix (Kevin) and we had us a hootenanny!  She was a whirling kaleidoscope of dirty dreadlocks.  She bucked.  She bounced.  She carried on.  Then she finally dug her heels in.  Part of the problem, of course, is that her vision is impaired.  We were finally calmed down when she stepped in a feed dish.  We repeated the dance a few times until we got her moved over to a sizable tree and tied her lead tightly to it.

It wasn't too bad at the start - Kevin had to work his way through about six inches of heavy felted fiber on her neck.  And he is a blade shearer - no electric gizmos for him.  Apria was wary, but he was making headway until....he neared her legs.  Now Hoosier was no fan of leg shenanigans, either.  But hoo-ha, my Aunt Marie!  Hoosier was nothing compared to the appearance of the Evil Inner Camel!  She bared her teeth, she screeched, she gurgled, she spit, she kicked, bucked, danced and looked like a possessed thing.  I braced her on one side, Kevin draped himself over and gingerly clipped her legs and haunches.  He laughingly said there was one llama he sheared that would put his head back and spit straight up.  And then it rained down on everyone.  I kept a very close eye on her head after that. 

The "Before".

"Does my head look fat?"
The process was punctuated by worried bleats by Linden, who has taken quite a fancy to Apria.  I don't blame him.  The entire experience would have chilled the blood of even your most shock-resistent teenager.  After about 20 minutes, we were both breathless and all that was left was her mid-section.  We decided that it was a good idea to just shear her down from head to toe and not have to revisit this Llama version of The Exorcist for another year.  Then we looked down at her hooves.  They need trimming.  Then we looked at each other, and I busied myself gathering wool (she must have been carrying a 10 pound wad of felted fiber on her neck), while he hurried to cram his blade and kit together.  I kidded him that she was a perfect warm-up act for the next three llamas he was heading off to shear.  While he laughed weakly, he sure was moving fast toward his car and escape.  I think a gallon of Rescue Remedy is in order for hoof trimming.
Sigh.  So, it wasn't the "wool" that made them look fat.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Musings.

So, where does integrity step in vs. good manners?  I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  I was raised with a heavy accentuation on 'good manners'.  I never EVER referred to the parents of my playmates or any adult, by their first name.  Ever.  It's not quite so bad now, since I have friends who are my parents' age - and they would tan my hide if I called them Mr. and Mrs. T.  And, by golly, I think they could!  And, since I now have no idea where I was going with this opening salvo, having started this post last week, I will leave it dangling here at the moment.  Hopefully, the purpose of this quest will revisit me.  Along with my sanity and memory.

I have learned many new things over the past week. 

1.  Contrary to what I have been told (and then have passed along to others as Gospel - mea culpa), one can have chipmunks AND rats.

2.  There is no such thing as one rat.

3.  I hate rats.

4.  Rats are cagey and smart.

5.  I'm tired of talking about rats.

6.  Apria did not have a full shear NOT, as I was led to believe, because her previous owner was too busy.  It was because she becomes a stinkin', spittin', buckin' CAMEL!

7.  I still am a victim of De-Nial.

8.  My vision of myself is completely untethered in reality.

Rats?  See #5.  Apria?  More in next post.  7?  8?  I am still musing on these.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Goodbye, Big Sweetie.

Riley came to live with me the day before Bernie arrived.  He had been neglected and abused and I took him in thinking, how different could it be between a Bernie and a Riley?  About 90 lbs!  He was the sweetest, most loving dog, even after all the pain and loneliness he had endured.  Then he took umbrage with a neighbor - nothing vicious, but he felt he was protecting me and grabbed her arm.  Unfortunately, this particular neighbor was the highly litigious type and, after many weeks of veiled threats of lawsuits, I reported the incident to my insurance company.  They promptly dropped me.  And I could not find another insurance company who would cover me as long as Riley lived under my roof.  A heartbreaking search led (with divine intervention, I am sure) to Tara and her family.  They took him into their home and hearts and loved him mightily.  And he them back.  Due, most likely to his early neglect and abuse, he developed a neurological problem that could not be cured.  They nursed and loved him along for almost a year.  Recently, he had reached a point where he was in much pain and wouldn't eat.  They had to make the decision - such a difficult, loving decision - to let him go.  We all will miss him.  He was a good boy.

p.s.  I need to add that it was because of the kindness of my sister and her husband that Riley was rescued from his particular hell in the first place.