Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Well, not yet, actually.  We are still in alert mode, as the wind gusts are still pretty robust.  Robust sounds so much better than "freakin scary", doesn't it?  I am very happy to report that we did not lose power throughout the storm.  I credit that to my storing-up of 15 gallons of water, just in case.  It happens every time.  Should I poo-poo the threat and NOT stock up, the power goes out. 

There is nothing so eerie than lying awake and hearing the wind shrieking outside under a full moon.  Then you hear things and try to picture what is flying through the air.  There were downed trees, there remains a tree/wire situation that doesn't look good, but I have not been able to report it to the utility - needless to say, their lines are busy and none of the automated choices got near what I needed.  I am now due for a call-back in 22-32 minutes.  My composters are pretty much all over the next county, some hatches were battened better than others, so to speak.  There is some tarp damage on the run-in that I knew about - but between the sheets of sideways rain and 60+ mph wind gusts, I had to let it be.  Once the wind dies down to 30 mph, I will go out and start repairs.   When I went to let the poultry out, I found that 7 of the Jones Family Sparrows had snuck inside and spent a much safer night than their brethren!

This was one humongous storm - and we were very, very lucky.  As much as I love the ocean, I am so glad I don't live on the coast.  I hope we hear from some of our favorite bloggers (Erin?  Carolyn?  Jane?) since I know that this was just one of the exciting events Ma Nature had planned for us.  And I am glad I moved out of the city!  However, no matter what disaster is handed to NYC, the Big Apple rolls up their sleeves, gets busy and gets it done.  It reminds me - in more ways than one - of an ant farm.

I hope that everyone got through the storm in one piece.  Just to show you it's not all work and no play around here, I give you...

The 2012 LLF Halloween Pumpkin!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Musings.

I recently had a reminder of how much music influenced my life - and how I remembered high (and low) points by certain songs. 

For instance, I left the U.S. to live in the Netherlands right at the peak of popularity for Achy Breaky Heart (1992).  Some would say I left to get as far away from that song as possible.  They may be right, as none of the other reasons panned out.  I lived in the southern part of the country, which was more rural and few people in my neighborhood spoke English, let alone played "Achy Breaky Heart" ad nauseum.  That was 20 years ago!  Holey Cow!  Aside:  Isn't it interesting that, in almost any country in the world, there is a North/South, or East/West and each disparages the other for one reason or another.  In the northern province (Amsterdam, Rotterdam), they looked down on the southerners as rubes.  In the south (Eindhoven, Nuenen), they viewed the northerners as devious and untrustworthy.  This is a broad generalization, of course, much like here.  And that was 20-freakin-years ago.  But there was definitely a distinction.

Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" transports me to the Badlands of South Dakota, the summer of 1969.  Oh, the angst of those teenage years!

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were the heated heart of my misspent youth.  Or maybe that was Jimi Hendrix?  There was a LOT of music in the heated heart of my misspent youth.  I was winding down to a kinder and gentler point with Simon and Garfunkel.  Art Garfunkel's album, Garfunkel, is just dreamy.  It makes me want to slow dance for a week.

Now, I listen to the Wailin Jennys and all kinds of bits and pieces of past and present and new music.  My favorite cleaning music?  Well, it's broken into two categories:  vacuuming (Aretha Franklin) and dusting (Johnny Mathis).  And you should hear me belt out the chorus to Beethoven's 9th Symphony!!  Maybe you shouldn't.  At least the dogs don't howl.

Speaking of cleaning, I am now in full Anti-Mouse Mode.  The little buggers are chewing away in the crawl space and I have declared war.  I spent the weekend pulling out everything from the lower cupboards and scouring them.  Then I assessed all spots where the nasty vermin could come in.  Hundreds.  Then I stuffed steel wool in the larger holes and put cotton balls saturated with peppermint essential oil in strategic places along the back wall.  I then took the opportunity to get rid of half of the junk that was in the cupboards that I didn't need, didn't use, or didn't remember what it was for. 

They've closed both the NYC and our upstate office in advance of Sandy - I'm holding onto the thought that they are erring on the side of caution in our case and NOT that they know something I don't.  I am very grateful that I can ride out whatever comes our way at home.  There is nothing worse, for me, to be sitting in my office, staring in the direction of home, wondering if everyone is safe.  The wind has just picked up a bit and the dogs are restless.  The whole weekend has had the feeling of waiting.  I hope that everyone in the storm's path comes through safe and sound.  I'll see you on the flip side of Sandy.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I "Heart" YouTube.

How, in God's name, did I manage before YouTube?  I am definitely a 'see it to learn it' type of person.  I am very visually-oriented.  School was onerous because of this 'limitation' - I could read something until I memorized it, but I did not necessarily 'get' it.  Except for The Jaberwocky.  I have been known to recite the entire thing without the least bit of prompting.  Other than a glass of wine or three.  It took me YEARS to learn how to knit socks because of that wonky bit about turning the heel and the gusset thingy.  My mother finally got tired of hearing me whine about it and sat me down and showed me.  Once.  I've been knitting socks for years now.

So, faced with installing the door closer on my recently hung (by me with help from the Lithuanian Lawn Guy - who was somewhat more of a hindrance because he thought he knew more than I and, frighteningly, didn't) storm door, I hit a wall.  I looked at the directions in both English and Spanish (both made equal sense), looked at the pictures, and....nada/nothing (I did, however, pick up some bilingual-ness).  I put it down and walked away for a day, hoping that distance would lift the veil.  It didn't.  I tried to ignore it, but that's hard to do, when the wind catches your brand new door and tries to rip it off its hinges.  I am sure some of you will scoff, but I am definitely mechanically challenged.  That, however, never stops me.

(Small watt light bulb) Aha!  YouTube!  You can learn the Macarena - why not how to install a door closer?  And there he was, No-Nonsense Guy, showing me how to install my door closer.  I "heart" Mr. No-Nonsense Guy, too.  A mere ten minutes later....


One small step for most.  One big, fat relief for me!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I hugged. Kay shot.

It doesn't take much to induce me to hug my sheep.  I love them.  I love how they feel and smell all lanolin-y.  So, to celebrate Hug-A-Sheep-Day, I did.
Flora and her daughter, Juno.

Taking advantage now - I don't know how many hugs I have
left with Flora.


Juno the love bug.

Sweet Linden - Flora's grandson.

I can't think of a nicer way to spend a day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm surprised I made it back alive.

After going through a very frustrating hour this morning trying to boot up my creaky old Dell computer, I decided to just let it take its good old time and I would walk away from it (and therefore not be tempted pound it into shards).  I decided to take the dogs for their morning walk earlier than usual.  Since there is very little light these early mornings, we all put on our safety vests and I added my headlamp, which clips to the visor of my hat.  I had gotten both dogs special collars that have running lights - but if I happen to look at them, I get dizzy and nauseous.  It's weird.  Out we go on our adventure - halfway down the driveway, two rabbits bolted across our path.  Thankfully, I had a firm grip on the leashes, as the rabbits went in opposite directions and the dogs divided their attentions as well.  As we got to the road, a flock of turkeys exploded out of the woods, scaring the Jiminy Christmas out of all of us.  I should have turned around right then.

We were at about the halfway point in our walk when Bernice (aka Bernie - everyone was referring to her as "him"), shot ahead and to the left.  I figured squirrel or rabbit.  Oh, no.  It was some carrion that the coyotes had worked over and she decided she'd take up where they left off.  Even Scrappy was horrified.  I pried her off and we continued with B on a six-inch lead.  Finally, after all business had been done, we headed back towards home.  I managed to remember the carrion and had B on a short lead until we were safely out of her reach.  It was a good thing since a car came whipping down the road, throwing up gravel and clouds of dust and just missed us.  It was the town supervisor's wife, Mrs. Leadfoot.  I was never so glad to see my own front door!

I am so glad I moved the country for the peace and quiet.  It's a jungle out there!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making the most of it.

This past weekend was a weekend full of list-checking-off activities.  Just to keep it interesting, I am juggling three lists and I managed to tick off an impressive amount of things from all three!  Plus some that were more "essence of list".  Like the fact that my 80-something year old neighbor told me that he had, on his daily walks - not once, not twice but - THREE TIMES removed Chickie's head from entrapment in the gate between the sheep/goat areas.  Apparently, Chickie is big-time hot-to trot to get into the sheep area.  I put an extra clip on the gate and that has done the job.  Or so I hope.

I got feed (ouch), then dog/cat supplies (OUCH), checked on my parents, gave my mom a haircut, got gas, got a couple of things from Home Depot for my arsenal in the Great Ratz War, dropped off a book for M (spreading the Salatin word), and made it home in time to bake some GF brownies for the dairy barn, do chores, clip my peonies, cut down the strawberries, visit with my neighbors, and move three loads of firewood onto the deck.  I also took straw over to a friend's and shared a glass of wine and some much-appreciated adult female conversation.  Then I finished my waaaaaay belated Pay It Forward gifties, and toddled off to bed.  I was going to paint the run-in, but it was still pretty wet from the non-stop Gray Condition of the past two weeks. 

Sunday brought much cooler temps, but the sun did finally come out - mostly - and the breeze helped to further dry things off.  I got three loads of laundry on the line, and then I tackled the run-in.  I have to tell you that it is very, very, very difficult to get things done when the sheep are hell-bent on "helping" you.  Usually, I send them off to the grassy part, but the last time I did that, Flora over-did it and I almost lost her.  She does not know the meaning of the word "stop" when it comes to grass, and it's too hard on her old ticker.  I did finally manage to bore them to tears and they left me alone when there was nothing food-like in the offering.

Another little chore off List B:

Yes, I know it's off-level.  I could lie to you and say I meant to paint it that way.  But I won't.  It's hard to be kneeling on rocks and concentrate on leveling things at the same time.  However, I already came up with a way to make it look "cool", like I meant it to be slightly off level, and will work on that this coming weekend.    With knee pads.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Musings.

Isn't it interesting how one misspelled word - or one missing punctuation mark - can change the entire meaning of something?  As in:  Let's eat Grandma. vs. Let's eat, Grandma.  Or:  Benny's Best fried doe vs. Benny's Best fried dough.  Hmmm.  Maybe Benny MEANT doe on the last one.  There were a lot of pickup trucks with rifle racks in the parking lot.  I wasn't in the mood to hang around and ask, as I was trying to take an 'artful' shot off Hog Back Mountain while keeping one eye on the Lincoln.

One of the joys of cooler weather, is that the stand of pines that is in the front of the house bursts into full pine-y-ness.  They give off the most wonderful, pungent pine scent.  It's so wonderful that almost everyone that walks down the road will stop and sniff the air.  I like to go stand in the middle of it and just inhale.  I wish that I could replicate that exact scent in a candle, or in perfume.  But the only pine scented candles I can find are sort of syrupy piney something.  And what gives with most vanilla candles?  That ain't no vanilla, baby.  That is chem-nilla.  I wonder if I rubbed myself all over with the pine needles I could pass it off as perfume....

Cats are totally perverse.  I will sit at the computer with Kramer clamoring to be held.  He drapes across my left shoulder, purring loudly and, after a few minutes of a warm, purring body in close proximity, my eyes start to close, I relax and breath deeply.  Then he digs his talons into my shoulder and launches.  And I fall for it every. single. time.

I really enjoy watching the poultry scene from my bedroom window - I can watch them without their being aware of me.  Because, if they catch sight of me, they all lift their fluffy bloomers and come running.  Not all of my chickens have names.  I only name the ones with distinct personalities.  Good thing, too, as sometimes remembering my own name is a challenge.
There is Marie-Claire, a Cuckoo Maran who was rescued from her life in a large plastic tub in someones living room.  She lays an egg every once in a great while, is around 5 y/o, and is my best surrogate mother.  Because of her upbringing, she has a funny kind of skipping, pigeon-toed gait.

And there is Kees "Big Daddy" Roo, my Barnevelder rooster.  We are presently just referring to him as "Daddy" since he lost his major tail feathers to molting.  He pulls his best Elvis routine on the girls who, more often than not, give him the cold shoulder.  This does not dampen his ardor, but he is respectful and not too hard on the girls.

Then there is Rosie's Girl, an Austerlorp with large, lustrous dark eyes.  She is also an oldster by hen standards.  And let's not forget $40 Freddie (aka Freddie the Bearded Lady), who has recovered quite nicely from her bumblefoot with just a trace of a limp.  And Big Sally and Big Betty, the new girls.  When they come running, the ground shakes!  And there is dear E-Claire, surrogate daughter of Marie-Claire, daughter of the old roo, Junior.  And Violet, the Blue Andalusian, who lived through her narrow escape from Bernie.

Now I also get to enjoy watching the posse of Pearlies, a constantly moving speckled clump of burbling prehistoric wonders.  LOUD prehistoric wonders.  So far, only one of the posse has made himself stand out.  Lonesome George.

Who needs television?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Comfort Food - GF Style.

After a brief (and mostly missed by me) break in the Gray Condition, it's back.  This endless grayness called for some serious Comfort Food.  While the 'old' me would have whipped up a turkey-roaster full of mac and cheese/heavy on the cheese, the 'new' me sat in deep thought last night and noodled it over.  Noodles!  I made one of my new favorite comfort foods, full-on comfort low-on fat and no gluten.  I did not take pictures, of course.  If I thought my photography skills were rocky before spending a few days with a professional photographer, the aftermath may find me never lifting my camera again.  Kidding!  I'm not that intimidated.  But, I do now try to look at what is in the viewer with a more careful eye.  I will need a few thousand more lessons.

Pork, Apple and Miso Noodle Soup

(based, albeit loosely, on a recipe from the September 2012 issue of Eating Well Magazine)

Approx 10 oz of ground pork
2 tart, crisp apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
pkg rice noodles
1/4 cup of white miso (and, yes, I have two kinds of miso lurking in my fridge...)

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, cook the pork until there is no pink on the outside, stirring to break the larger pieces up.  If the pork is not lean (and mine never is), pour off most of the fat.  Your dogs will thank you when it appears on their breakfast kibble.  Stir in the apples and cook until slightly tender, stirring occassionally - about 2-3 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook according to package directions or to your own taste.  Just before the noodles are done, carefully scoop out about a half-cup of the cooking liquid and stir it into the miso in a small bowl.  Return the miso mixture to the soup and stir in.  Remove from heat and serve.  You'll want to wrap your arms around your soup bowl and give it a great, big hug!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ah. Home.

Besides the pocket omelet (thank you, Carolyn Renee, for that very apt description), this morning on my way to the sheep, I tripped over a goat (that would be you, Chicklet) and dropped an extremely large, 'ripe', pumpkin, which disintegrated in a tsunami of pulp and seeds up to my knees.  This was after Bernie got so excited over her breakfast that she barfed it all up - in varying degrees over a variety of carpeted spots.  The cats were so excited that I was back that they decimated three mice throughout the house.  It was a detailed (read: graphic) lesson in rodent anatomy.  The temps dropped to 28 and all the water buckets froze.  One contained two drowned, semi-frozen mice.

Ah.  Home.  How I missed it.

Getting back into the groove this morning was more than a little bumpy - even counting all the 'homecoming' events.  Luckily, the back-to-work routine is so ingrained in me that I didn't have to really think about it.  If I had, I would have cried.  But my house is clean, my laundry is done, there is soup in the freezer and a fresh list on the dry erase board.  I am downshifting back into my routine - and it's as smooth as slipping into a pair of your favorite jeans.  Home.

I picked up a couple of good habits on vacation - can you imagine that?  I am reading more, marking my place with some special bookmarks that keep me looking ahead.  I finished a book that I had forgotten in my library - "Floreana" by Margaret Wittmer.  Something you should know about me - at the very top of my "Must Do In My Lifetime" list is to spend some time experiencing the Galapagos Islands.  The Blue Footed Booby captured my imagination in my early childhood and has never released its grip.  I want to see the sea iguanas and the finches and the birds and the rocks and the sea.  I want to go somewhere that is still wild.

Okay.  Back to Earth.  This book was written by a woman who moved to this island from Germany in the 1930s with her husband and stepson.  It is an amazing, heroic, fascinating account of their triumphs over the extremes of the island and the constantly changing political landscape.  It is a terrific read.

I am spiffing up my vocabulary - using words like "serendipitous", and "nebulous", and "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."  Beware.  I am trying to get more sleep - those bags under my eyes were beginning to morph into steamer trunks.  I am embracing my inner Pollyanna.  And I am going to start drawing again.  Holy crap, as Kay would say!  Life.  It is good.

(Sorry for the shock - I thought it was time for a new look.  Feedback is

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I've been from The Bridges of Bennington County to the Saltwater Flats of South Portland.  And I've had a wonderful time.  Thank goodness for today - the Buffer Day.

Despite the Gray Condition - a continual blanket of soggy grey clouds that covered most of the Mid-Atlantic states up to the coast of Maine - it was a great vacation; the best I've ever had.  And I have pictures!

I didn't get pictures of the Bridges because I was the navigator and not the photographer, but it was so amazing to see them through new eyes.  Note to anyone visiting Vermont - skip Woodstock.  Blech.  But, as Navigator, it gave me the luxury of schmoozing with the tourists.  I met a lovely couple from north of Oxford, England and another lovely couple from outside of Hamburg, Germany.  I got to practice my Dutch which is similar to German.  And then I got to warm up in front of the fireplace!  There are some very big pluses in standing around in the cold and damp - when you have a nice fire to come home to, with no worries about commuting to work the next day.

Then it was off to South Portland, Maine to visit Sylvie.  It's been a long while since I've taken a road trip by myself.  I forgot how much I loved it.  I forgot how much I loved so many things.  My parents, worried that I would undertake the long trip in Lulabelle, the intrepid Ford (now sporting 205,000 miles!), handed over the keys to their Lincoln.  I was going to have a picture taken of me in front of the car with the caption:  "Does this car make me look old?"  At one point on the trip over, I made a quick pit stop and found myself elbow deep in Lincolns.  I was the youngest driver by about 20 years.

View from Hog Back Mountain, VT with the GC.
Once I hit SoPo (I feel so much like a native), I was immersed in art.  Sylvie and I went to the Winslow Homer exhibit, then to the theater to see "The Sisters Rosenweig".  It was all so completely amazing.  And please forgive the overuse of "amazing".  'Cause it was.  And is.  There was, of course, the things that warm the cockles of my heart - a trip to the SoPo Goodwill, where I got two pairs of great jeans and a beautiful suede jacket for under $20.  Then there was a trip to Reny's, a department store only in Maine - where you can get snowshoes, toothpaste, motor oil, a housecoat, and 'name' brands for deep discounts.

SoPo bay.

Rising Cairn - through window at the Portland Museum of Art.
I should have scaled the fence for a better shot, but I
was on my best behavior.
Then, of course, there was the conversation and laughter, the good food and wine, and my very favorite BFCF, Grayling. 

Three of the four kiddlings - Eli, Ramona and Zuzu

My BFF and my BFCF

That face.  That face.
This little foray out into foreign lands was made possible by another friendship - Rosie - who house/farm sat for me and gave me total peace of mind.  And, when I got home yesterday, she had a pot roast in the oven, with Brussels sprouts (she makes the BEST), and baked potatoes.  I mean, how much better can it get?

So, now, here I am back at the Little Lucky (aptly named).  Bernie forgave me for leaving.  I have to continue waging my war with the Ratz, who are still among us, bloody rodents.  The Pearlies are still disconcerted that I left and now I'm back.  The goaties are disappointed that Rosie is not here to play with them.  Flora is still Flora.  And squeezing amongst the hay bales, I felt a 'pop' in my pocket - a forgotten egg....  All is right in my world.  I'm off to do laundry.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whambang-est Giveaway - Day #3 Redux

Congratulations to our intrepid homesteader - NEW winner of Day #3 - Nancy!  Please send your mailing info (in the strictest confidence) to me at swomersley at gmail dot com.

I hope to have everyone's book in the mail by tomorrow - if not, as soon as I get back.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Follow-up, mop-up, oy.

Does this celebration seem endless?  Yes.  But fun!  Thank you for all the wonderful comments, your collective great sense of humor and congratulations to all of the winners!  (Scrappy would like to make it clear that he chose ONLY the first winner - he thought it only fair that someone else share the blame, er, fame...slacker.  I used the Random Number Generator, a very handy tool.

Speaking of RNG, Carolyn Renee, you should send them a thank you note - it seems that you will be enjoying a few evenings with Joel Salatin without breaking your NSO vows!  The winner of the final giveaway, Day #7 is:  Krazo Acres!!!  (I think I have your mailing information - I will let you know if I need it.)

I have not heard from the winner of Day #3.  If I don't hear by midnight, Tuesday, I will redraw and post the new winner.

I am gearing up for an extended period of Too Much Stimulation.  My friend/house sitter, Rosie, arrived Saturday afternoon on her way to a family wedding and spent the night.  We talked continuously from 3-9:30.  Then again 7-12:30.  I don't know that I've talked or have been talked to that much over a month.  Then Flora took a serious turn for the worse and I was up most of the night checking on her.  When I dragged my sorry self out of bed Monday morning, I was sure I would find her gone.  Instead, she appeared in the paddock clad in a navy fleece blanket (it was cold last night and I thought she was a goner), looking for breakfast.  She's going to kill me.

Where's breakfast?

My house guest arrived last evening and is using my place as base camp for a photographic journey in the New England area.  He leaves Thursday and I frantically clean and pack for my...dare I say it...vacation.  I leave for Maine on Friday, Rosie is coming back down to hold house and hearth together, and I am back on Monday.  Thank goodness I took Tuesday off, too.  I am sure I will need to recover from all my time "off".  All this blathering to say that you will not be hearing much from me for a week.  But I will be armed with my camera and will catch you all up on my return.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Last, but not least - Day #7

If money were no object, I would buy hundreds of this book and stand on a street corner and hand them out.  That's how much I liked this book.  I realize that it pretty much is singing to the choir here, but don't most of us need to have our fundamental beliefs reinforced every now and again?  Especially if our beliefs aren't necessarily flowin' with the mainstream, if you know what I mean.

Topic of today's comment:  What is the one thing you would do to make the world a better place?  Me?  I would make it a law that we all MUST be kind to ourselves and each other, and eat more kale.  Love, Susan "Pollyanna" e-i-e-i-OMG.  (I know, I know, that's two things.)

Congratulations to the winner of the Day #6 giveaway (drum roll):  DFW!!  Please send your mailing information to me at swomersley at gmail dot com.  (All information I receive stays with me and is strictly confidential.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Whambang-est Giveaway - Day #6

I like to tell people that I use building plans for 'inspiration'.  That usually can get me off the hook for having to explain why nothing I build looks anything like it was supposed to.  I have the will, most of the tools, but none of the expertise.  Yet, again, that has not stopped me.  Of course, after you've seen some of my building projects, you might think it ought to have stopped me.  I tend to be a real scavenger and have (neat) piles of lumber and building materials that I've pulled out of burn piles, dumpsters, curbside trash piles, you name it.  It got so bad that my farmer neighbor started checking with me before dumping things in the burn pile.  Wait - that's good, isn't it?

Today's offering is:  How to Build Animal Housing, by Carol Ekarius.

Topic for today's comment: What livestock would you really, truly LOVE to have if money, time and acreage were not issues?  I would have an emu farm.  I ruv them.

(Comment by midnight tonight to be eligible for the drawing. Sorry, shipment of the book is limited to the US.)

Congratulations to the winner of the Day #5 giveaway (drumroll):  Kim!!  Please send your mailing information to me at swomersley at gmail dot com.  (All information I receive stays with me and is strictly confidential.)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Whambang-est Giveaway - Day #5

Who hasn't needed help when doing something for the first time?  And although 'they' say that mistakes are just steps towards perfection (oh, right), wouldn't it just be easier to go to your home library shelf and find a good reference book or ten?  There are no Kindles or Nooks (well, maybe a nook or two) in my house.  I need to have a good, solid book in my hands to make me feel like it's the place for answers.  Of course, I still make all kinds of mistakes, but I think of them as steps in the right direction.  That's me, Cleo, Queen of Denial.

Today's giveaway goodie is:  The Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery.

You are going to need a sturdy bookshelf for this puppy....not to mention a sturdy mailbox....

Today's comment topic:  What is a skill that you would like to learn?  Is there something on your homestead that needs doin' and you don't know how?  Me?  I'd like to learn how to make a stone fence.  I have LOTS of stones.

(Comment by midnight tonight to be eligible for the drawing.  Sorry, shipment of the book is limited to the US.)

Our Super Sewer and Winner of Day #4 is:  Lynda!  Please send your mailing information to me at swomersley at gmail dot com!  (All information I receive will remain strictly confidential.)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Whambang-est Giveaway - Day #4

Being self-sufficient means that you have to develop a lot of skills.  Sewing, knitting, crocheting are all skills that are not that difficult to learn (she says, cavalierly) and will save you a lot of time and money.  Or, at least, a lot of money!   I was only a so-so student in Home Economic class (what is it called these days?  Domestic Engineering?)  To my teenaged mind, basting everything first and THEN sewing it was redundant.  And a waste of time.  So, of course, I refused and did it my own way.  I may have only garnered Cs, but all of my projects turned out just fine.  Pfffffft.

Up for grabs today:  SEW U, The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe

Topic for today's comment:  What was your biggest sewing/knitting/crocheting disaster/challenge? Mine was deciding to make a lined, wool fitted jacket with about 20 buttons when I was a junior in highschool. Without a buttonholer, mind you. I basically sewed the entire thing by hand, including the buttonholes.  Those were the days when I could actually focus!

(Comment by midnight tonight to be eligible for the drawing.  Sorry, shipment of the book is limited to the US.)

Congratulations to the winner of Dream Day #3 - Tombstone Livestock!  Please send your mailing info to swomersley at gmail dot com.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Whambang-est Giveaway - Day #3

My dreams have always been very grand.  I would have a pasture full of Appaloosas.   I would be the world's premiere bareback rider, resplendent in green satin and rhinestones (a particular favorite of mine at 8).  I would have a herd of Jerseys with a dairy and a cheese cave.  I would have a 100 acre farm in Vermont with a log house, barns -- you get the picture.  What I have is a humble homestead in upstate NY with four acres - about 1.5 of which are usable at the moment.  That has not kept me down.  No matter how limited your space, it is absolutely amazing how much food you can produce on small acreage.  I haven't even scratched the surface.

Today's giveaway is:  The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan.

There is so much information in this book!  Besides my Carla Emery tome, this is my most-used reference book.  It covers broccoli to bees, parsley to pigs.  It's a well-written, well-researched, well-designed book.

Topic for today's comment:  What is your dream homestead like?  Are you living your dream?
(As always, cut off for entry is midnight Eastern time tonight!)  I need to add a disclaimer here -- I can only ship to US addresses, so many apologies to any readers from outside of the US.

Congratulations to our Domestic Goddess:  SweetLand Farm!  Send your mailing information to me at swomersley at gmail dot com. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Whambang-est Giveaway - Day #2

Domesticity.  Just saying the word makes you want to find a comfy chair and contemplate your cup of tea, while having a nice long chat with your great-grandmother about pickling.  There is a lot involved in domesticity.  It's hard work - and endless work - but fulfilling on so many levels.  A clean house; fresh laundry - folded and put away; healthy, delicious meals; spending time with your children (or dogs), tracking their days; the ups and downs of families.  It's good stuff.

Today's giveaway:  The Gentle Art of Domesticity, by Jane Brockey.

Topic for today's comment:  What is your favorite domestic task?  Ironing?  Laundry?  Cleaning your oven?  None of the above?  (I would fall into the latter category, although ironing is rather Zen and I do love to hang my laundry outside on the line.)  Remember - cut off for entry is midnight tonight!

Wait.  Did I forget something?  Nah.  I just decided to create some suspense -- Winner of Day #1 is....
LindaCO!  Send your mailing info to swomersley at gmail dot com.  Congrats!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's Official.

I have yammered on 500 times.  Of course, that is no surprise to those who know me.  But this blog has just been a joy for me - sharing the chaos of my life with those nice readers who have managed to stick with me through all the eye-rolling events.  I swear it's like a warm, virtual hug.

So, to thank you all for being there when I needed you, for listening to my rants and musings, for propping me up when I sagged, I am having a Whambang Giveaway!

I had picked out six great reads for homesteaders* (and homesteaders-at-heart), when Jordan donated a seventh great book!  It is now the Whambang-est Giveaway!!!  The books will be given away over seven days to seven lucky winners.  Here's how it works:

Each day leave a comment about the topic du jour.  You do not have to 'like' me on Facebook, since I never go there.  You do not have to stick me with a Pinterest (ouch).  Just leave a comment on the topic.  Or within spitting distance of the topic.  Starting today and for the next six days, I will choose a winner from each day's comments for the book of the day and announce the winner the next day.  (Cut-off time for each day's entry is midnight.)  Clear as mud?  You have SEVEN chances to win!  Here's the line-up:


Simply in Season (World Community Cookbook) - a wonderful collection of recipes by the season, using seasonal food.  I sat down with it to mark my favorites with Post-it notes and, when I was done, the top of the book looked like a neon porcupine!

Day #2

The Gentle Art of Domesticity - Although there is nothing gentle about MY domesticity, this is a lovely little book with lots of beautiful colors and ideas.

Day #3

The Backyard Homesteader - How I LOVE this book!  Backyard or back-forty, this book has so much great information in it, you may not need another book ever!

Day #4

Sew U - The Built by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe - It has patterns and everything!  It's great for both novice and experienced sewers. 

Day #5

The Encyclopedia of Country Living - aka The Homesteader's Bible.  There is nothing more I can add - this book can see you through the apocalypse.  Zombies?  No problem.  'Possum for dinner?  Covered.  (If not, it should be - you never know...)

Day #6

Thanks to Jordan, we now have a very well-rounded selection of must-have books!  I have used How to Build Animal Housing as a reference countless times.  There are tons of ideas and clear instructions in this book.

Day #7

The book I couldn't put down.  Joel Salatin's Foks, this ain't normal.  I can't say more than I've already said.  And even that's not enough.

Today's Topic:  What was your most 'local' meal?  (Mine was a salad from my garden, roast lemon chicken (both home-raised), with my potatoes, my green beans, and topped off with baked apples from my neighbor, with maple syrup from another neighbor and homemade butter from my Jasmine...)  Leave your comment below to be entered in the drawing for Day #1's book!

So, there you are.  And thank you, again, for letting me go on and on and on.  I send you all a virtual hug!  And, if you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by for a real one. xoxo

*Disclaimer:  I am NOT MaryJane, Martha or Ree, so these are most likely gently used books - there are no sponsors coming out of the cupboards...I am just helping spread the word.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Musings.

This whole business with Flora has made me realize that I have come such a long, long way from the beginning of my homesteading experience, a little over six years ago.  In my previous life, I had chickens, goats, a llama, and an alpaca.  But - for any problem/issue at all, I called the veterinary and they sent someone out.  I had cute rubber boots with flowers on them.  I wore little goatskin gloves and designer coveralls.  I had a full time job and a boyfriend.  I ate out at restaurants and had a clothing budget.  Then that particular dream turned nightmarish and ended.

When I moved to this little place, I put chickens in as soon as possible.  Then I moved through a series of good moves/bad moves (turkeys/quail/pigs/ducks/too many sheep).  I think that, when you've waited all your life for this kind of life, you can sort of lose your mind if you're not careful.  After a rough patch of hiccups, bumps and missteps, I am closing in on the right balance.  I learned quickly that you better take out a second mortgage if you're going to be calling the vet for every little thing.  Even for bigger things that you don't think you can handle on your own.  Thanks to good fortune, a benign Universe, pure luck, and a little divine intervention (just to cover all my bases), I ended up with friends who have been there/done that, and - most importantly of all, just down the road there is a knowledgeable, funny, smart neighbor (that would be you, Kay) who has helped fortify my self-confidence immeasurably.  I've also taken the time to read a lot and have developed a good animal husbandry library.  That beats running around, wringing your hands and looking for someone to save you any day.

Flora has been a handful.  A sweet, loving handful, but a tough nut, nonetheless.  After reveling in my celebration-ette of finishing the nine day penicillin treatment, I went out Thursday morning to find fluid building up under her jaw.  Again.  This time, I called the vet.  But, instead of making an appointment for a farm call (cha-CHING), I asked to speak to one of the vets.  I then went through the litany of symptoms, treatments, temperature, yadda-yadda.  We talked about cardiac problems, parasite problems, fluid build-up, quality and quantity of sheep droppings.  We talked raspy breathing and runny noses.  She prescribed two new medications, to be injected sub-cu every three days (hooray on both counts).  When I hung up the phone, I stood and emptied my pockets - hanky, reading glasses, empty syringe, notebook, pen, green tomato, and goat treat crumbles.

I still had to take a 5 minute shower, dress for work and drive an hour and a half to the vet's to pick up the meds, then an hour and a half to work.  But I believe I am getting close to arriving at where I want to be.