Friday, June 26, 2015

Getting on with my bad self. Oh, yeah.

Back when I was a girl, eons ago, I was so thin-skinned and tender-hearted (as most young girls are), that I would weep copiously at the drop of a hat.  Our poor father accidentally ran over a rabbit with the car, and I was inconsolable, accusing him of murder and carrying on like a lunatic.  I found a rabbit in the winter that had been hit by a car and carried it home, weeping crocodile tears.  My mother, bless her, sighed and let me put it in a cardboard box.  Then we called our Uncle Jim, her brother the Vet.  Good-natured fellow that he was and is, he came to see what he could do.  He put iodine on a big gash on its haunch which caused the erstwhile prone rabbit to rocket up and out of the box.  And through the house.  I raised a shoebox of orphaned field mice under my bed.  They apparently thrived, as I came home from school one afternoon to discover they'd left the box.  I spent a very fretful month or so, looking for them out of the corner of my eye.

Flash forward to the past three or so years.  Most of my 'tenderness' has been toughened up.  Living through the Year of the Rats, the Year of the Chipmunks, and the Year of the Squirrels has turned my skin to Kevlar and my heart as tough as my neighbor's cooked pork chops.  Oh, yeah.

Last night, getting home from my entertaining commute home, I dropped purse and bag, let Pepper out of lock down, and let the dogs out.  As I stood on the deck, surveying my kingdom (and wondering why the dang Nuggets won't go outside), I saw Lovey paying a great deal of attention to my herb garden.  I looked down and there, nestled in a little wad of furriness, were five very young bunnies.  Ack.  I got Lovey side-tracked (NEVER be without a crunchy bit in your pockets.  Never.) and got the other two oblivious pups on the deck, then hustled them all in the house.  The bunnies' eyes were open - they were half-pint sized - but they obviously had either been led and left by mom, or ventured out on their own and were adrift.  After weighing the consequences (garden - saving bunnies), my heart lurched in the latter direction and I did the Bob-and-Duck in the bed, scooping them up one by one and putting them under the deck.

Cursing at my folly, I did the rest of my chores and then, saving the best for last (dripping sarcasm, here), I went out to feed and water the Nuggets.  Where I discovered that one had been on the receiving end of some vicious feather-pulling.  Its wing was a nasty, bloody mess.  Dang again.  I trotted up to the house, got the first aid kit (hydrogen peroxide, Wound-Kote, swabs, towels, sterile wipes) and trotted back.  Hefting the thing, we went outside in the grass, I got it in a half-Nelson, and spent a great deal of time cleaning and dressing the wound.  Then proceeded to cover both of us in bright purple Wound-Kote.

When I finished, I went inside and rewarded myself accordingly.  With a handful of gingerbread marshmallows.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One foot outside my comfort zone.

Since the critters on the LLF are in destructo mode, I have been placed outside of my comfort zone more than a few times.  There are many things that I willingly throw myself into, but car repair and anything electronic are two areas I dasn't go.  Until now.  While I do not (and will not) learn to repair my car, I am a hands-down expert at picking up on a worn wheel bearing.  I can tell you through nuanced grindings, about how long you have before you must get thee to the mechanic or else.

As I stared at, then tried to ignore my broken fence charger placed strategically upon the dining room table (where I could not totally ignore it), I toyed with just replacing it with a new one - until I looked up the price.  Then, again, aren't I the one all preachy about fixing rather than throwing out - throwing 'away' to the non-away?  Yes, I am.

Over the weekend, I took a deep breath and decided to fix the charger myself.  Frankly, it took longer to find the right tools than to actually fix it.  After I parted it from its back board, I searched around the perimeter and located four teeny-tiny screws that looked like they needed a hex key the size of a darning needle.  Dang.  I have two sets of hex keys, but none were small enough.  I ignored it again for a day, then rummaged through my junk drawer and came up with a teeny-tiny screw driver.  While I was leery about how useful it would be, I also put on my reading glasses to take a look at the screws.  Hi ho.  There were little screwdriver grooves in it.  Honestly, sometimes I am my own worst enemy.
The cable on the right had been
yoinked out by the bad sheep.
Close up of the circuit board and
white oblong thingy.  I knew you just HAD
to see it.
I got the cover off and carefully put the screws in an empty spice jar, screwing on the lid tightly.  The cats have been particularly horrid lately.  I fed the cable back through the side and located the two connections I thought were right.  But wait.  There was no + or -.  No sign of positive or negative.  Dang squared.  Since one connection was to the circuit board, and one went to an oblong white thingy (technical term), how was one to tell what was positive or negative?  I figured (technically speaking) that the positive should go to the circuit board since that seemed to be the business end of the process and the ground should go to the white thingy.  I connected them, walked it over to my kitchen island, cleared the deck, stood a respectful distance from the charger, plugged it in and ran.  Woot!  It did NOT blow up, it worked!  I gingerly unplugged it and replaced the cover and backboard.  Then I hotfooted it outside and mounted it on the pole and plugged it in (from a respectful distance - I do not trust electronics that I work on).  It still worked!  Yes!

I will move the reprobates to the slope once I have the time to stay and watch them.  I need to nip this destructo stuff in the bud, if at all possible.  In the meantime, I had inherited a battery-run charger that was in need of new connectors and a new battery.  That was pretty straightforward.  I now have a charged Nugget run (wasn't Norman surprised....) and the sheep will be able to 'free' graze soon. 

I have been eyeing the ceiling fan in my bedroom.  It hasn't worked since I moved in.  Hey - how hard can it be?  Snort.

Monday, June 15, 2015

This is only a test.

Living alone amongst throngs of dogs and cats has developed in me a certain amount of eccentricity.  Okay - quite a bit.  One of those odd bits is that I am constantly talking to objects, both inanimate and live.  Some snippets of conversation (monologue) from the weekend:

"Here comes Moses!  Part the sea!"  Said while trying to navigate the kitchen with said throngs milling about my ankles and knees, depending on height.

"This is only a test.  This is only a test."  Said while standing in front of my washing machine which, two thirds of the way through the week's laundry, stopped.  Completely.  Dead silence, not even a hum.

"Stupid sheep!"  Said quite a few times over the weekend.  This was repeated many times in succession when I discovered that they had ripped the power cable out of the charger, which will force me to do electrical things - things I am not suited for or any good at.  (See "This is only a test" above).

Saturday started off delayed.  I got up at my usual 4 AM and it seemed like a normal morning.  Then I glanced out of the window to find Juno standing in the front yard, facing off with the neighbor's Angus bull.  Le sigh.  Muck shoes on and out the front door I flew, screaming like a banshee.  It had the desired effect - Juno twirled in mid-air and headed south.  Angus bull didn't exactly twirl, but he moved pretty quickly for a solid block of beef and trotted off toward home.  I still can't find how Juno got out, but she was very happy to get back in with her sane sheepmates.

Then I got involved in a rather sticky crossword puzzle and when I looked at the clock, I was behind.  And I stayed that way all day.  I headed north to the library to pick up three books, two on CD, then headed to M's farm to borrow a battery powered charger (that was BEFORE the "Stupid sheep"), then breakfast with sister, BIL and parents, then quick trip to Tractor Supply for another feeder (Note:  when a feeder states that it feeds up to 20 birds, they ain't talking Nuggets), then back home to do chores, take a shower and appear presentable.  Some friends took me and another of their friends out to dinner at a swishy place as a thank you - to me for finding a good home for their goats, to their other friend for driving them to/from hospitals, doctors appointments, etc.  It was such a fun evening!  Much wonderful food and laughter.

Sunday was another fast day out of the starting gate.  A neighbor came over with his trailer and we moved my littlest coop up to my helper's place.  Then picked her up and she finished cleaning out the run-in shed while I attacked my laundry and garden.  We had a little time between when she finished and when I was due to take her home, so she helped me "hill" my potato bags.  I then stopped at another neighbor who gave me four squash plants and five perennials  (which I needed like another hole in my head, but couldn't help myself), then I worked like a slave in my garden.  A little voice in the back of my head (the voice of reason, which is frequently squelched by the MUCH louder voice of unreason) kept trying to butt in, going on and on about my prescription vis a vis sunlight.  I did finally stagger into the house and stay there until I wasn't staggering.  It was then that I looked out and saw that the sheep were out.  And Linden was staggering, too. 

Of my three sheep, Linden is my problem child.  He has trouble with his feet.  He squirms under fences.  He doesn't have the sense that goD gave a turnip.  While the llama, Juno and Norman will head for the shade, Linden has a one-track mind.  Green things.  I managed to get them all into the fence, then guided Linden into the shade.  He laid on the ground, panting.  Those of you with sheep know that they do not pant.  I ran into the house and soaked towels in cold water, then raced outside again.  I wrapped his legs in cold, wet towels and tied another round his neck.  I squirted cool water down his gullet.  I fanned him.  I promised him all kinds of things if he would not succumb.  He didn't.  Thank goodness sheep don't speak human.  I slowly managed to get him up and moving and we all sauntered back to the barn.  Where they stayed the rest of the afternoon.  I went and checked on the nuggets, who were warm but fine.  Except for one.  And now there are 22.

I am happy to say that my garden is 99% done.  There are a few things to be done - mostly in the herb garden and finding places for the perennials - but the main garden is planted.  I then harvested lettuce and rhubarb, went inside and made butter, roasted the last of last year's nuggets, and made myself a large G&T, light on the G and heavy on the T.  After being 'braced' thusly, I went into the laundry room and tackled the washer.  The fuse had been tripped off and would not snap back in place.  I decided to give it the only reasonable treatment I could think of.  I ignored it and walked away.  (I am happy to report that it snapped back into place this morning.)  The broken charger is on the dining room table, awaiting some magic that I don't possess.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This is how it went...

I am going to start lobbying for a second Sunday.  Anybody want to sign on?

Another action-packed weekend that left me little more than a blob of sweaty flotsam by Sunday evening (charming visual, no?)  I did have a nice plan, but, as always, the Universe had another plan and the Universe rules.  Instead of a leisurely Saturday as planned, I had to leave at 7:15 in the morning to get to the mechanics at 8 where, oh joy, I had yet another wheel bearing replaced.  That makes three.  Thank goodness I only have one wheel left.  Then it was a race with the clock - from mechanics in Vermont to feed store in Massachusetts, to home in New York.  Then the dogs are let out, I get gussied up, out I go to my neighbor's granddaughter's wedding.  It was an interesting affair - a great opportunity for people watching.  It's absolutely amazing what some people consider wedding attire.  Many, MANY tattoos.  A quick appearance at the reception, then back home to change and head to Vermont (again) to celebrate my sister's official 'move in' date.  Then back home.  The dogs reminded me of those rear window things, where the heads bobble around.  They were very happy when I stayed put.  That made four of us.

The Nuggets

Nuggets' Quonset hut weatherized.

Sunday morning I was back out of the door at 8 to meet a neighbor for breakfast at the last Firehouse breakfast of the summer.  I had packed my car to the brim with un-usable bits and bobs from the yard sale and recycling so that I could continue on after breakfast to the town's transfer station.  From whence I traveled to pick up my helper.  Let me tell you, that girl can work!  She managed to clean at least 95% of the run-in shed, down about 8 inches in a couple of hours.  That freed me to dart around doing things I wouldn't have been able to do - transplant sunflowers, weed, rake the hay from around the sheeps' winter feeder, do my laundry, tidy up the compost, work on the electric fencing.  Then we headed up the mountain, where I picked up a table, dropped her off, headed back and met up with another neighbor to go back up the mountain and pick up 35 bales of hay, when I then stacked.  Then off for more moving.  I was knackered and the dogs were back to bobble-heads.  Of course, they got two marrow bones apiece from pure guilt.  How they suffer...

I also managed to sell six dozen eggs over the weekend!  My helper is coming back this weekend to finish the job and help me clean out the big brooder and put mulch around the raised beds.  She is working off my small coop, which she wants for her silkie flock.  I am happy to oblige.  I am also happy there is an end date because, as great as it is to have help, I am not thrilled with all the driving and listening how boring her life is.  I cannot relate. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Gratuitous Cat Photo - Double Trouble.

Oh, sure, they look all adorable and sweet.  Don't be fooled.  Slimbo on the left has razor sharp claws and feels that everything and everyone in his domain is shredding material.  Kramer (right) has an obsession with anything plastic.  I had hoped that, once out of their kittenhood, they would settle down and be lap cats - those lovely, photogenic cats that everyone else seems to have.  Apparently, they are now into their third kittenhood and have no intention of mellowing.  Heaven help me.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Glad to see something is exuberant around here - there is no keeping the hops vine down.  It would climb to the stars if it could.

It's alive!  It's alive!

As I mucked out Dexter's stall last night, forking mightily and without stop until I was all rubbery-kneed, I wondered how many other people took their frustration out the same way.  I had gotten bad news at work (no, I still have my job, although it's about to be notched down closer to hell) and, while the chilled bottle of Vinho Verde cooed to me in Portuguese from the fridge, I decided it would be healthier to throw myself and my frustration into something very physical.  It worked.  I was too pooped to snivel.  Instead, I had a tall glass of water (to wash down my Aleve) and read more of Pioneer Girl.  Now there's some real hardship.  I am almost done and thankful that I get to read it again with the annotations.  The website for the Pioneer Girl Project is a good resource for everything Laura Ingalls Wilder, as well.  She was a remarkable woman with a wonderful story.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

All righty, then.

Dexter went off to his new home last night - I have a good feeling about it.  There is always a lot of angst (should have been my middle name - "Aunt Angst") when one is handing off a living, breathing charge into some stranger's hands.  But the guy was cooing over him, so I take that as a good sign.  We had to load the 'little' guy into the fellow's van (hoo-ha, glad I wasn't driving over the mountain with that cargo) and he thought he would just pick him up.  I suggested he not do that, but, apparently having to be all manly about it, he dove right in.  I stood back and waited.  Moments later, we both lifted Dex into the back.  I thought he was walking a bit gingerly afterwards.  When I offered to go get the 35# remaining pounds of milk replacer, he didn't argue.  Dex made it safely to his new home, which has an actual barn and many grass-filled paddocks.  He will be a happy camper.  Apria, who has been guarding the sheep against the Alien for weeks, was also a happy camper.

In other LLF news, I finally succumbed to Lyme's - I knew it was just a matter of time.  I check myself diligently but, being one person and not double-jointed, I am bound to miss spots.  And ticks.  After ignoring the signs for a couple of weeks, the bulls eye appeared and I reluctantly dragged myself into the doctor's office.  Pfft.  Scrappy and I now have yet another thing in common. 

I am reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography, "Pioneer Girl".  It was worth the months-long wait, let me tell you.  What an amazing piece of research this book is.  Trouble with that is, I cannot put it down once I start.  And we are talking hefty tome here.  As much as I loved (and still love) the children's series of Little House on the Prairie books, this is downright fascinating.  Since the annotations are copious and I have limited focus, I am going to have to read it twice - once, straight through without reading the annotations, and twice to read it with the annotations.  Have I mentioned it was fascinating?

In amongst the doctor appointment, work, calf wrangling and other chores, I have been planting here and there.  I got the basil in, along with replanting the coldframe with radishes, hoping that whatever evil rodent ate my spinach will choke on the spicy radishes.  One must always hope.  I also put in two echinaceas.  I have not yet put in my onions, chard and beets.  Those are slated for Sunday.  I am going to take advantage of my 'helper' and will rebuild the frame around the herb bed and get that in place.  I am way behind getting my herbs in.  Then there is potting up some hops vines, moving my volunteer sunflowers and getting the electronet up and running.  So far, knock on wood, the Nuggets have settled nicely into the hoop house.  With the plastic film on the front, it is surprisingly warm and snug.  I vented it in the front, as the Nuggets give off an alarming amount of heat - must be all that waddling and eating.  I am going to call the processor this week and make an appointment to take them in the early part of July.  I was hoping to go earlier, but work keeps raising its ugly head and interfering with the better part of my life.  Nerts.

I will only have a half-weekend again, as my neighbor's granddaughter is getting married at his place and I must go.  But Sunday is supposed to be a milder, sunnier day - just perfect for garden-working, poop shoveling and general mischief.  Maybe I'll even have pictures!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Random Randomings

I have realized that I don't have photographs because I always am using both of my hands for other things.  Maybe I should volunteer for a biotic camera eye.  Is there such a thing?  Flash coming out of my left ear, printed shot spit out (literally) ala Polaroids?  Remember Polaroids, you young whippersnappers?  Of course you don't.

There is a lot going on on the Little Lucky, as usual.  Having my sister living near our parents is such a blessing that I cannot even express it in words.  And that is saying a lot, coming from one who is never at a loss for words, but uses way too many...  it has given me the gift of time - a more precious gift, I cannot imagine.

Saturday morning I was trying my best to multi-task (and failing miserably - when will I learn?), trying to get laundry done and on the line (rain forecast for Saturday night through Sunday - YES!) Doing chores and trying to get the giant Chocolate Lab (aka Dexter) out for some exercise.  It's like an actual rodeo - without the skilled cowgirl.  The way it works is like this:

I reach over the walls of his stall and try to catch his collar.  Meanwhile, his hard, hard BIG noggin is weaving and bobbing because he is excited!  After narrowly missing dislocating my shoulder, I snag the D ring and clip on his lead.  Then I unlatch the gate and.... WHEE HAW.  We both get our cardiovascular exercise.  I have had the foresight to move llama and sheep to a safe distance with two gates in between.  Once he gets the initial hysteria out of his system, I unhook the lead and let him run around for a while.  Then I sneak around and get his bucket ready.  He knows his name and when he hears me call, it means breakfast/dinner.  He races in the barn and into his stall and sinks his head up to his ears in his bucket.  While the Hoover vacuums up the milk replacer, I gingerly set the bucket down and then race to the back and re-hook the gate to his stall.  He finishes and pounds the bucket around, bucks and carries on, then settles down for his little scoop of grain.  Then his little mound of highly-expensive, difficult to come by third-cutting hay.  Yes, the little prince will only eat this hay.  While he's coming along, my huge backlog of chores and projects make this process less than ideal, but the only option for some time.  I have decided to sell him.

Speaking of backlog of projects, I decided to cave in and farm out (so to speak) the cleaning of the run in shed - the sheepies' and llama's summer quarters.  So I can add clean up of barn and paddocks to my list right after I cross off 'clean the run in shed' - vicious circle, no?  I have asked every able bodied teenager of the male persuasion that I or anyone I know, knows.  The result?  A lot of whining.  Geezloueeze.  I went on Facebook and asked locally - and I am paying $10 an hour, for Nat's sake.  The only response I got was from a woman.  I have great trepidation for the future of this country.

This youngish woman is an elder care giver who's last patient passed away, leaving her with lots of time on her hands.  I like her - she is just getting into chickens and loves them - but there are issues.  She doesn't drive.  (WHAT?  Why in God's name would you move yourself into the middle of rural nowhere with no means of getting around?  She is married with a 9 y/o son.  I am flabbergasted.)  She, son and Hubby came out yesterday in the rain to see the chickens.  It was then I was informed that, should I need her to work for me, Hubby would have to drive her and would drop her and Son off.  This child, interesting as he is, was into everything he could get his hands on within three seconds of landing on my driveway.  I volunteered to pick her up.  Alone.

And, on the subject of children - of which I am no expert whatsoever, being totally an observer of other people's children - what is with the "I want", "I want" thing?  He wanted my rooster, two of my chickens, the llama, with a stamp of his 9 y/o foot after every demand.  Good grief.  The Hubby followed behind, murmuring, "he's so smart, he knows ALL about animals and plants...", while his mother offered to trade him for one of my dogs.  As if.

The Nuggets have been moved.  And I have the 15,000 steps on Fitbit to prove it.  While I am so happy that we finally got a measurable amount of rain - it made the day rather cold and damp.  I had to refit the tarp around the hoophouse (wiring the grommets to the frame this time), patch a mysterious hole in said tarp, make sure that there no obvious drafts, which meant affixing plastic in key areas, refitting a door (wherein I discovered that my memory of a hook and eye closure in the tool box was pure fantasy), setting up the big BIG feeder and waterer, setting up the electronet (not hooked up yet because I ran out of light and steam, not necessarily in that order).  Then I had to transport the meatballs from the brooder to the hoophouse.  That is, almost literally, from one end of the LLF to the opposite end.  Up the steps to the deck, down the steps off the deck, through two gates.  All 23 of them.  By the last transport, I was not tenderly lifting them from box to floor, let's just say.

All during this activity, I was the epitome of high fashion - torn muck shoes, grey, soggy socks (which started the day as white, dry socks), sweat pants, wet to the knees, sweatshirt, all covered with my dad's old mechanics coveralls and my favorite billed cap.  Wowza!  I am so shocked that I am still single.