Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend Recap - and being Infamous in Albany.

In sort of reverse order...

I have found a sure-fire way to combat insomnia.  Clean out your barn.  Even though I know it must be done - shearer is coming on Wednesday - I pulled every trick from my procrastination bag and managed to put it off until I was squeezed into action.  The only way I can make it through a monotonous job (battling with my fruit-fly-like focus) is to set up little challenges:  "how many wheelbarrow-loads will it take to clean the barn?"  I was pretty close - I guessed 6 and it took 7, plus one extra to move a small mountain of llama beans from the area of future action. 

Then I went inside and made a roast leg of lamb, garlic mashed potatoes with carrots and a pineapple upside down cake.  I had missed my neighbor's birthday (80) and planned on making it up to him.  It is always helpful to invite someone to dinner who is a lot older than you, when you know you'll be sleeping in your soup at 7:30...  I woke up in my chair, covered in cats, at 8:30 and went to bed, armed with two Aleve.  I didn't move until 4:30.  As odd as it sounds, I LOVE being bone-tired - physically.  I spend too much of my life with brain fatigue.

Saturday was a flurry of activity - errands, lunch with my parents, chores for them, driving all over godsgreenacres to find a calcium drench for my dairy neighbor's cows, picking up the answer to raising my meat chickens sanely.  I also had come across a frozen package of smoked salmon that needed using.  So I did some research and came up with a smoked salmon quiche with a potato crust.  It turned out so well that I had to give half of it away.  It is not what you would call "low fat".

I got my hands on a large galvanized watering tub - 2x6x2 - and spent the weekend moving it into place into my shed (badly in need of a new roof, so I will have to keep an eye on where the leaks drop), running electric (as in extension cords), building a rodent-proof cover, and weaning the tweenie chicks off their electric light.  The tweenies are in the small coop and have a nifty screen door through which they can watch the chicken yard activities.  They are riveted.  I poked around in my miscellaneous building supplies and cobbled together a wooden frame that is lined with hardware cloth and fits tightly on top of the tub.  I only had enough cloth to run 5 feet, but found a metal framed piece of glass that fit perfectly on one end.  That is the end where I will put the bits that need accessing - water and food.  They will have light and a chick heater. 

Last week I had picked up a lovely, solid wooden wardrobe from friends who went through a purge.  It fit neatly into the back of the car and on Friday after work, I tackled moving it myself.  Being a stubborn, independent type, I figured I could handle it.  I have tools.  I got it out of the car and onto a dolly.  I bungeed it on to within an inch of it's life.  I toodled it up the pathway and to the three steps to the front deck.  I could not heft it up.  I did some noodling, rolled it halfway back down the path, fetched/dragged a piece of plywood to make a ramp, braced the ramp, and managed to get it on the deck.  Woot!  I got it right to the front door and then could go no further on my own.  I wasted about twenty minutes wrestling with it, to the alarm of the dogs, then acknowledged defeat.  It was a bitter pill.  Did I mention I was stubborn?  I stomped inside and called my neighbor who was already in his pjs.  He was over in five minutes, helped me move it inside and went home.  I now have to figure out where I am going to put it, but at least it's inside and the floors are smooth.  Maybe I can hook up a dog team....or not.

Now, the Infamous part.  The law firm for whom I work (large) is merging with another larger law firm to create a mega firm.  Whoopee.  We were all summoned to a national web conference which I set up for my office (I now wear the Techie Hat).  As we sat and listened, my cell phone rang.  In the form of loud sheep baaing.  Apparently, I had forgotten to activate our mute button, for the Chairman of Everything paused and looked around.  I quickly hit the mute button and looked around (feigning innocence) myself.  My coworker had to leave the room and roll on the floor in laughter.  I am hoping they cannot trace the sheep....

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Every day is Earth Day.


And so it should be.  I was around when the first Earth Day was celebrated and I took it to heart.  Our precious planet is a finite space becoming more and more challenged by our (not ALL of us, thank goodness) complete disregard for it's health and well-being.  If I would ever lose my mind and get a tattoo, it would read:  Love the Earth.
Let's try, every single day, to do something kind for the Earth and for each other.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Wonderful Day(s) in the Neighborhood.

For once, after a long, long, loooooong, winter that never seemed to end, we got two pleasant days in a row.  AND they were on a weekend!  Woot!  Needless to say, the Aleve bottle got some attention last night.  Some things got checked off The List:

  • Little coop cleaned out
  • Chicklets moved to same (out of the HOUSE, people!)
  • Hop vines cleaned out
  • Lettuce planted in cold frame
  • Spinach planted in cold frame
  • Mulch off the garlic
  • Mulch off the strawberries
  • Raised bed cleaning begun
While I can't quite check off the last one, I'm taking credit for getting half the beds cleaned.  For a while, I was so overwhelmed with the immensity of the clean up that I literally spun in place.  Then I took a deep breath and started.

Also achieved were four loads of laundry hung on the line (oh, that smell...) and Dexter graduated from bottle to bucket in only one day (thank you, thank you, Janice!).  I've had to reinforce his pen again, as he's strong and bouncy.  Next weekend he gets banded.  I am hoping that slows him down a bit.  Jersey bulls are known to be lively, but he's going to have to toe the line if he stays.   The sheep and I keep waiting for the grass to grow - they are happy with hay and their Christmas tree.

I also spent some time with my DS at their house near my folks - we moved some of her kitchen stuff in (OMG, I'm so excited) and it appears that she will be there (or at least with our folks) by mid-May.  Words escape me, I am so happy about that.  We (the three girls) have been scattered around and rarely get to spend quality time together.  We poked around in the yard of the new place and discovered a nice bird bath, a outdoor fit pit thingy in reasonable shape, tons of flowering bulbs, and her sweet dog found the burdock.  Poor boy.  There's a lot of work to do inside and out, but the house is really lovely.

The dogs and I got three walks in (Pepper is coming along nicely - it's hard to hold him down) and today I took a big step and left Lovey out of her crate for the day.  Gulp.  I did make sure they all had a nice, big knuckle bone to keep them busy.  I have been letting her stay out of her crate for short times and she seems to have overcome her anxiety at my absence.  Fingers, toes and paws crossed I don't come home to a disaster.

I had to force myself to stop yesterday early afternoon, as I had a housewarming party to attend, but all in all, it was a very satisfying weekend.  Good thing, too, as the rest of the week and through next weekend it calls for rain every day!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wild Thangs.

There's a lot more activity with the snow receding and temperatures warming.  Both inside and out.  This little fellow/gal is a regular sight on the last leg of my trip home.  I am always so fascinated by porcupines - their stumpy little legs and stiff gait.  This is a youngster that I see in the same spot a few times a week.  I stop the car, roll the window down and chat him/her up.  Thank goodness there is no traffic whatsoever up on the mountain to witness my awkward attempts to commune with Nature.

Inside, the Boyz are feeling their spring oats.  In the morning, papers are on the floor, rugs are bunched, furniture is moved.  The dogs look haunted...  The Boyz look so angelic, don't they?  Ha!  I tripped over the kitchen rug (which had been moved across the room into my blind spot) this morning and started the morning with a bang - as I landed on my knees in the dark.  Luckily, there was no damage done, except to my dignity.  Of which there is very little left...

Slimbo on the left and Kramer on the right.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I "Heart" Chives, True Confessions, Spring!

Notice vole holes top left and bottom right.
The first things to turn green that I can actually eat are my chive plants.  They are also, it appears, not on the vole menu.  I am always so excited to see the first little green shoots poking out of the brown clumps!

Since my explanation post, I've been rather inundated with all kinds of comments and emails.  I can imagine friends and family spending anxious hours Googling "Interventions".  Well, don't get your tighty-whiteys in a knot.  I may be a wing nut, but there you have it.  I am too old to change - and I wouldn't anyway. 

I have always been a, "If I talk the talk, I should walk the walk" kind of person.  That, and I am a learning addict.  There, I've said it.  I will try almost anything (except elephants....)  If I was a cat, I would have been long dead.  I am as curious as they get - in every aspect of that word - and I am a hands-on learner.  That being said, this latest addition to Sweezie's Living Library (aka Dexter) is another example of taking what is offered and seeing how I do.  I eat beef.  Ergo, it would make sense that I would raise beef.  If I can.  I am fully aware of most of my limitations.  I will not risk injury or make my life a living hell just to see if I can do something.  I firmly reserve the right to change my mind.  I also eat pork, but would not raise a pig.  Because you really have to raise two and I don't have the room or the fencing for pigs.  Dexter was given to me and I will do my best to raise him well.  If I can't, well then, I will make sure he goes to someone who will do as good a job as I would.

I hope that makes everyone feel better...

This plant made me feel better
all winter.
I've been doing a little Kamikaze clean-up - a fast rake here, a fast rake there.  I went out and raked up the chicken yard and, by the time I got back with the giant trug, the little buggers had completely undone my neat pile.  Lesson learned - have trug at the ready.

This year I have to completely redo my herb garden.  The edging boards are rotting, the fencing has been compromised by rabbits, and the voles have found it.  I am going to take the whole thing apart, temporarily move my perennials, replace or replenish the soil and enlarge it.  I am going to put up a sturdier fence this go-around, so that I can enjoy my parsley before the rabbits chew it to the ground.  I am also thinking of adding onto it and making a medicinal herb garden as well.  I might just get to sketching it out this year, but I like the idea of having useful herbs at hand.

Our forecast still calls for very chilly nights (drat), so there will be no planting yet.  I just received my fingerling seed potatoes (from California - what do they know of our non-spring??), so I need to get the potato bags out and set up.  Given the restraints of my garden and the fact that I can get 50# of very serviceable potatoes from a local farm for $9, I am only planting specialty types.  I left my cold frame open for the rain (free water) and will plant lettuce in it this weekend.  I need something green!

Monday, April 13, 2015

I can explain.

Not surprisingly, I have a lot of explaining to do.  Firstly, I have been MIA on my blog.  I believe this is an annual occurrence - I spend all that time whining about winter and it will never end (blah, blah, blah), then it does pretty much end and I'm all, "OMG, I have too much to do!  I don't know where to start!  Where's my blankie???"  and no writing gets done.  I am officially kicking myself in the keester and getting back into somewhat regular posting - like it or not.

Then there is the Dexter excuse.  (Like how I threw that in, all nonchalant-like?)  Some days it is downright dangerous to do simple things.  Like go visit my cows and get milk.  I haven't been for a while, as the bronchial thing had me down and out and not wanting to spread it around.  But, a week ago, I tottered down to the barn to give my Jasmine a good head scritching (she loves it) and go kiss her daughter, Alice, on her big wet nose (she is not sure whether she likes it - but she doesn't hate it).  My farmer was acting rather odd - sort of jumpy.  He waits until his farmhand (using the term loosely) goes off out of earshot and then hisses in my ear, "I NEED TO TALK TO YOU!"  Good lawd.  Whatever?  So, I trot after him as he moves the milking units from cow to cow, until he finally decides we are safe and he can speak.

"Alice had a bull calf."  I am disappointed, because we always hope for a heifer, but, since she was field bred to an Angus bull, there wasn't much excitement in the heifer department this year anyway.  "Well," I say, "isn't that nice."  I should have wheeled around and gone blissfully on my way, but he continued.  "It's going to be a week before I can go to the auction and C insists he wants to raise that calf for beef!"  C is his erstwhile farmhand, who is also a relative.  Therein lies the rub, as it is saideth.  "I'm NOT going to let him have it because he's a butthead and doesn't know his ass from his elbow."  No argument here.  "So, YOU have to take him home."  WHA?

That is how it came to be that Dexter moved into my barn.  The sheep look upon him with terror - he's an alien that has landed in their midst.  Of course, he's too young to mix with the lard butts, and is still on a bottle, so he is safely ensconced in a small pen in the barn.  Yes, that's right.  A bottle baby.  A BIG bottle baby.  A BIG, BOUNCY bottle baby.  So far, he has been melded into the chore schedule without too much trouble.   Other than those damn big calf bottle nipples - geezloueeze, they're a bugger to get on.  My laundry load has doubled, as I am covered with slobber and milk replacer by the end of the day.  He gets banded next weekend and I am hoping that will slow him down a bit.  And I am working really, really hard not to get attached.

As I sat last night, poking around in my fevered brain, trying to find the Pollyannaism in of all this, I realized that I had built a sort of chute in the barn that I could use for the sheep in the future.  It's a rather pathetic Pollyannaism, but it will do.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Feets, keep moving!

As the snow slowly recedes and the mud rises to the surface, there is that jolt one gets as the reality of what needs done sinks in.  Spring Shock.  As I view the panorama of sludge, weeds and plowed earth (where it ain't supposed to be plowed), I usually feel my brain seize up.  Just when I should be ratcheting up the outdoor activity, I scuttle inside and decide to read all those books I had on my winter to-do list.  Coward that I am.  Luckily, it doesn't take long before the old stiff-upper-everything me pulls up her BGPs and grabs a rake.  And a shovel.  And an Aleve.

The malady that struck me low, has subsided and I am feeling almost one hundred percent.  That is a relief, let me tell you.  The Pepperoni still struggles with the aftermath of his spinal injury, but there is no keeping that boy down - which is why he will be in perpetual House Arrest.  If I could just break him of his most annoying habit - peeing as control.  I have gotten pretty wily myself - closing the gates on the deck so that I don't have to (wo)man handle him to the back door.  As soon as I open his crate (he will not, stubborn bugger that he is, come out on his own) and put my hands on him, it's like a little peeing fire hose.  I now motivate him by tossing a treat in the general direction of the door, then hot-foot it to the crate and slam the door shut so he can't go back in.  He can manage the short step down and I don't care if he pees on the deck.  The trick is to hold him firmly, while giving back support and pointing his pee-er away from me.  So far, he's got me well-trained.

There is so much clean up needed that I stood outside with a rake in my hand and went around in a circle - trying to decide where to start.  I am zeroing in on the soon-to-be flower bed, as it's the smallest space.  No sense jumping into the deep end, right?

Some things have been put at the top of the list due to necessity - cleaning out the small coop in preparation for the inside chicks.  Clearing out half the shed and putting together my meat chick brooder.  Shoveling llama beans onto my rhubarb.  After realizing that my focus is not getting sharper with age, I am going to go out with a notebook and write down everything that needs to be replaced or repaired.  That way I will have a record of it and will tackle each entry as I have time/money for it.  One of the things that need to be dealt with this year is the vast amount of dead tree cutting that needs to be done.  Prior owners of the property, in their dubious wisdom, planted tons of pine trees.  About a foot apart.  Many of these trees and those in our area, like so much of the Northeast, has been hit hard with a fatal disease.  I am going to lose most of my windbreak, by the time they are all taken down.  I had been thinking of planting arborvitae in their place, but I am not entirely sold on it.  I think I would prefer something that spread out more than up.  More research is needed.

Pretty soon I will be making an appointment with the shearer.  I am most positive this year that Norman will not be thin.  Quite the opposite.  Watching that boy from behind makes one thing of African rivers full of hippos.  Or a very large sack of fighting cats.  Juno is looking a bit puny.  She was the first lamb born on the LLF, so that would make her around 7.  Linden continues with his gimpy hoof - another reason I am looking forward to the shearer's visit - he's much better (read: ruthless) with trimming.  Apria needs a bunch of work, but it is difficult, as she is very spooky and her eyesight is extremely limited.  I think I may need an expert.  Or a dart gun.

All plans of seed starting have not reached further than the fuzzy edges of my brain.  I need to make lists but don't know that my constitution is up to it.  Instead, I am hiding away inside under the pretense of getting my Memorial Day yard sale together.  That's a whole nuther ball of wax.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Post in Purple Prose.

Let the hyperbole begin!

As I minced toward the sliding glass doors, wan hand upon my waner brow, I beheld such a sight!  Could it be?  Hath Winter's Death Grip begun to Loosen from the Throat of poor Spring?  Egads!  The sun was shining so brightly that I didst not see the Boyz, lying as skunky black and white pools upon the dudgy rug.  Yarks!  Tis a wondrous sight, the flying, screeching bodies of the Boyz - snarling teeth and burbling talons ablaze!

As the foamy crest of Feline Furbulence ebbed upon my doorstep, I slid openeth the door - vague and opaque as it was with a Winter's Worth of snurbling nose prints, tongue lashings and the like - to peep upon such a sight!  In Sun's Bright and Lorbling Beams didst the smallish grey piles of sorrowful snow, speckled with the flotsam and junksum of shaken rugs and the poopings of tiny songbirds, seemed to cringe and creep upon my deck!  In their withering wake was left large, smarmy stains of encrusted birdeth seed, swirling amongst even MORE tiny songbird poopings.  Alas!  Will my faithful Amish broom - still tucked snug amongst the long-forgotten implements of cleaning - have the strength to dispatch such mucking???

I leaned, waner and lanquider, upon the hard steel barrel of my air rifle (the only support at handeth), and ever so, ever so, carefully placed one tiny Bog-booted footeth in front of the othereth.


What music is that, that reaches so stridently, yet like tiny bells to my shell-like ears?  Couldst be?  Oh, frabious day!  Tis a Red Winged Blackbird!  Such music didst bring shining tears to my wan orbs...(see?  I've been ill, so everything is wan - makes it so much easier to wax purple...)


Oh, wafting, gentle breezes which carry such perfumy scents through the air (with more than a generous toucheth of dog poop mixeth in), support this poor, wan frame and lifteth me in your Springy boosum (as my boosum hath lost most of its spring) to allow me to alight my tearful orbs upon my lands!

What is thiseth!?!  Canst I believe my own orbs?  Hath the frozen Earth parted?  Couldeth it be true?  Hath Nature's kinder nature cometh to pass?  Art those turgid rosy points that thrust themselves from the dark loamy dirt truly the forebearers of God Rhubarb????

I falleth in a faint.

The end.

I had to end, as I was laughing so hard it made me cough.  Enjoy!