Friday, May 27, 2016

This week's entries into the Out File

I am still amazed that I am easily finding seven things a week to punt out the door.  I'm finding it harder to find the time to document them!

This week's pile:







155- I can chop, mince and shred faster by hand.  And I don't have to store my hands in my limited pantry space.

156- I find that I use Mason jars for everything.  Plus, this may be glass, but it has a plastic top.  PLUS, I drink more iced tea in a day than this holds.

157- Since they found PFOAs in surrounding areas, I have not been able to bring myself to use this nice, non-stick pan.  I know it's not Teflon-coated, but....

158- Yes, it's charming.  And exceptionally awkward to use unless you have a very large hand.  Which I don't.  Have.

159- I struggled with this - it was my first large knitting project and I love the idea of ponchos.  But, it seems, not the actual wearing of ponchos. 

160- Yes, it's so boring I didn't even photograph it.  Not surprisingly, I didn't wear it, either.

161- Time to winnow out the 5 million pots and recycle them to a local grower.


I have decided not to raise the Nuggets again.  They are just too...too...creepy.  I know they grow from 0-6# in eight weeks, but there is something so completely unhappy and unnatural about that, that it is really getting to me this year.  I have lost two Nuggets so far - only two weeks to go.  One was my little poopy patient that got the worst of a pile up and never recovered.  The other was a seemingly healthy and large male that I found bottom-up this morning.  He had been a little "off" the past couple of days. 

I still think it's essential to grow what I can of my own food, so I won't give up raising meat chickens.  However, I am going to go the more natural route next year - the Reds (Red Rangers, French Reds, whatever the latest 'hot' label is).  It will take longer to get them to weight, but I am also going to stop raising them for others, too.  That will bring it down to a more manageable project.  So I hope, knowing as I do that I seldom listen to my own good advice.  I've got the system down pat - little brooder to big brooder to hoop house.  I have the feeder set-up that works, a waterer that's large enough, and a way to regulate air circulation.  I bungeed a small fan to the inside this morning, as it is supposed to be hot and humid for the next few days.  So much for spring.  I believe, this year, we got 15 hours of spring weather - then winter came back and we leap-frogged spring right into summer.

I had the chance to clean out the duck house for the first time this morning and it worked like a charm.  I can swing the side up, prop it on a board and rake it out.  I am looking forward to having the project finished (except for my bit) on Saturday.  Then I can put up some fencing and let the (LARGE) ducklings out to waddle about.  They seem quite happy in their house, but I am sure they will be thrilled with their kiddie pool!  I am waiting to hear from the post office - I have 15 chicks on their way and it is taking longer than normal to get them here.  That does not bode well.  Six are for a neighbor and the rest are mine.  Since I never seem to listen to myself (lalalalala - see reference to my blatant lack of good sense), I ordered five Salmon Faverolles and four Partridge Rocks.  And a "Free Exotic Chick", which means my replacement rooster.  Did I need more chicks?  Why, no, I did not.  But the minimum quantity for shipping was 14.  And I don't like even numbers.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Where to begin....

I was very mentally healthy this weekend.  I took both Friday and Saturday and worked through a big list.  On Friday I:

Did morning chores
Set up the electronet on the hillside
Tore down old duck house
Cleaned work site
Weed trimmed back garden beds, sided of house, half of garden
Washed and hung up four loads of laundry (I was OUT of clean undies.  Geez.)
Finished cleaning out small chicken coop
Made granola
Bone broth on the stove
Made yogurt
Did evening chores

The old gal is getting better!
On Saturday I:

Took three rhubarb plants down to local library for their plant swap
Picked up a pound of local coffee and treated myself to a chai latte
Drove to Home Debt to pick up my part of the duck house project
Weeded two and a half raised beds
Planted edible pod peas
Planted romaine
Planted four types of potatoes (even though I had vowed to only plant two)
Raked the sheep yard
Moved manure
Planted my primroses
Walked the dogs
Cleaned up after the builder

They had lots of supervision
Built better than my house
Duck House!
The skies threatened all day Saturday, but we were lucky.  The Duck House is not quite finished - it needs the tin roofing (recycled from my neighbor's barn) and a ramp and an end board for the inside of the nesting box.  I also need to stain the front, back and sides of the nesting box.  It's a very clever design - the nest box 'dormer' (you can tell he builds houses) roof is hinged and lifts up.  The right side of the A frame is hinged as well, so that the interior can be raked right out.  Very important when housing ducks.  I have put a hardware cloth screen over the door for now.  They have plenty of room and seem to be very happy with it.  There is a screened vent covered by the door in the up position.  I liked it so much that we have decided to make a Duck Village!  I'll be clearing out a pile of old firewood and moving the small coop.  Another Duck House will go perpendicular to this one some time before winter.

This was a good opportunity to see this builder/handyman/carpenter in action, as I am using him to roof my house.  He brought his 15 y/o son along and I was impressed with the way father and son worked together.  Jeff (father) treated his son's ideas with respect.  Ryan (son) worked right alongside him all day.  They started at 11 and worked until 6:30 with no break.  I had run out to get them sandwiches - they stood and ate them and kept working.  Of course, they had LOTS of supervision hand help from the chickens...  We ran out of time (honestly - if I could have carted them to their truck on my back, I would have.  I was ready to S.T.O.P.) and he/they will be back next Saturday to put the tin roofing on and finish the ramp and other bits.  But the main thing - NO DUCKS IN THE HOUSE - was accomplished.  I am celebrating the fact that I will have, maybe, three and a half days with no poultry in my laundry room.  Woot!

In! Over the wire...

I had meant to post these last week.  As usual, I kept thinking I had plenty of time.  There's an example of faulty logic.  On Friday night, I thought, "Hey!  Saturday is still part of the week!"  Saturday morning?  "Hey!  Saturday night is still legally the same week!"  By Saturday night, I couldn't muster the energy to lift a finger....



148-150  The Baby, Mama and Papa of waterers.  Of the three, only the middle one works well (IMHO) but is a citch to blean, if you catch my drift.  And why do I have 25 poultry waterers?

151- Another one of those "read description before you buy" things.  It fits nothing I own.

152- Okay, really reaching here BUT a) it's an item and b) it's going out.  I'm counting it.  So there.

153- Part of the PP (plastic purge).  I found this waaaay back in the top pantry cupboard and I don't think I have ever used it.

154- I love the looks of this, but it is not a functional purse for me.

I am starting to feel hopeful - I'm closing in on the halfway mark!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How does my garden grow?

It grows....hardly.  This has been a very cold spring, with multiple frosts or near-frosts, so nothing much has been done.  The onions are in, the garlic and shallots are doing well and I did manage to plant my new strawberry plants.  I got peas in, but they are just starting to break ground - two weeks later!  The biggest obstacle in getting my 2016 garden underway (besides the weather and general lack of time) has been dealing with the viola epidemic.  I had planted two tires, two years ago with the pretty little things.  They have taken over my world.  I had two raised beds FULL of them.  They are growing in the grass.  They are here, there and everywhere.  And I can't bring myself to throw them in the compost, so I have them in window boxes, pots, tires.  I have given them away by the wheelbarrow-ful and I still have half a raised bed full of them.  Lord help me.    This weekend I will move the remainder to somewhere or other (I think I have an empty window box or five), plant potatoes, weed the rest of the beds and plant my yellow edible pod peas.  I would also like to plant my sweet peas, but that would mean weeding yet another bed.  This is also the weekend that the duck house gets built - halleluiah! - so that the little darlings will permanently move out of the laundry room.  They spend the day outside in a temporary pen and the nights in their laundry room pen.  All five of us will be very happy, come Sunday.  However, I will miss toting those squeezy little bodies every morning and evening.  Sort of.
Gardening "helpers"

Violas/Johnny Jump-ups gone wild!
Onions in
Garlic and shallots (and Lovey-bomb)
New strawberry bed
Of course, before the duck house can be built, I need to deconstruct the old one and clear the building site.  I also have to have a tree cut down in the chicken yard.  And I have to set up the electronet fence so the sheep can start mowing the parts of the property machines can't handle.  Speaking of sheep, Juno was shocked this morning when her usual molasses drench held straight wormer.  I wish I could have photographed her face.  But she is doing much better and I am relieved.

The Nuggets are doing well in their hoop house and, with warmer weather being forecast, I can open the door and let them lumber around outside.  The hoop house is surrounded by electric poultry netting, but I didn't have enough of the poultry netting to completely surround it; the back is regular sheep netting.  This, apparently, will be problematic, as I came out yesterday morning to find a rabbit completely ensnared and tangled (and dead).  It most likely slipped through the larger openings in the sheep net and then tried to leave through the poultry net.  It took me almost 15 minutes to untangle it.  I will have to move the whole set up back about 10 inches and offset the sheep netting with the permanent fencing so that the available openings are too small for rabbits. this becoming a math problem? 

A mental health day will be taken tomorrow so I can fill it full of activity.  You know that makes me happy.  I will try to remember to take pics of the goings-on (including the measuring of the roof for metal roofing).  I tried to get a video this morning (too dark) of the Geezer (aka Scrappy) tear-assing around with his favorite toy, Foxie.  It's hard to believe he is 16 this year, the old darling.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Equal parts

It's interesting how exhilarated I get when my weekends get jam-packed with 'must-dos' on the list.  Maybe it's the fact that I am connected to the world again - or at least the parts of it that mean the most to me.  It sure wasn't due to the weather.  It was a weekend of equal parts frustrating activities and satisfying activities.   Without further ado - recipients of the satisfying part of the weekend:
Ducklings at 1 month out for
the first time.
Apria, or LaLa seems happy
to be on grass again.

Norman - always photogenic, my
Cormo/Pony cross.
Juno - my problem child
for the week.
Linden - my problem child
the rest of the time.
The Patient

I thought you'd like evidence that the LLF dependents are still alive and kicking.  I spent most of last week wringing my hands over Juno, my elderly ewe.  She has struggled with a parasite load and seemed to be doing okay, when I came home from work Monday to find her with Bottle Jaw.  A quick message via FB to my friend, AnnMarie - my sheep/goat/llama guru, brought her down for a conference.  We wormed Juno again, then she gave me her secret recipe for an iron-building drench.  I have been drenching Juno twice a day, every day since.  It seems to finally be working, as she has perked up.  Since the drench is packed with molasses, I no longer have to wrestle her to the ground to drench her.  She sees the red drencher comes running - I dose her through the fence!

I got a new phone.  It only took most of the week and the threat of tears.  My carrier is Verizon and there are all these rules - contracts, blah, blah.  The phone my dear sister had sent was too outdated and they didn't even carry chargers for it.  With all kinds of finagling and my quivering lower lip, I was back in business Thursday night.  What a relief.

Saturday consisted mostly of my fanny in the driver's seat.  I put the ducklings out for the first time and then drove to VT to make a written report on the theft.  I then zipped back home to meet my roofer and duck house builder.  Then I drove south to get my hair done (thank God), then I drove an hour and a half to pick up a quarter pig for me and a baby beef share for my other sis, had an interesting conversation with the woman, then drove the hour and a half back home.  I did half my chores and tore out of the house to a neighbor's for a couple of glasses of wine, then back home to finish chores and feed my dogs.  That last bit was carried out under the withering beams of three sets of stink-eye.  Not one thing got done on the homestead.  Not one.

Soooo (as I am wont to say....) Sunday started at 7:30a and ended at 5:30p.  I made sure I had a lumberjack breakfast because there was going to be no lunch break.  I got the ducklings outside for their second time.  They are getting so big!  Then I started to work on the hoop house so that I could move the nuggets out of the two brooders.  This involved re-tarping it, cleaning it out (note to self: next time, don't wait a year), running electric (frost predicted) for a heat lamp, hanging feeders, finding and cleaning the big waterer and last, but not least, transporting all 30 of the fat buggers.  This was comprised of plopping a bunch of them into a box with handles, walking across the chicken yard, up-over-down the deck, across the back, through two gates and into the hoop house.  I repeated this process seven times.  I also discovered one dirty, sad, beaten down Nugget.  He/she had been smooshed, pushed and rolled in poop.  Sigh.  After I had gotten the rest in their last home, I put up the electronet and charger and focused on my patient.  I gave it a warm bath and a blow-dry.  Then I set up a little brooder in the - let's say it together: LAUNDRY ROOM (which, please note, saw no laundry done this weekend) - and let it recover.  It is a sorry thing and I don't know if it will fully recover.  But, it's warm, clean, dry and is eating and drinking.  I let the sheeples out into the back paddock for grass and managed to feed the dogs before 6P.  Not quite before the ... snow ... began.

In between, my sister and mother stopped by for her beef share.  I would usually be horrified for my mother to witness the state my house was in.  This time?  Didn't care.  I also lost a hen in a very mysterious way.  When I got back from the police station, my neighbors were hiking by and wanted eggs (and to see the ducklings), so we went into the chicken yard.  There, dead center (pardon the pun) was one of my Welsomers, neck broken, one foot pointing skyward.  There was no visible cause of death, but it looked to be violent.  She was not an old hen.  It was a shame.  (And very traumatic, apparently, for my neighbors.)  Let's hope they do not sue me.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Neither rain, nor stolen phone ....

can keep me from posting my weekly purge!  You'll just have to close your eyes and imagine what they look like.

(Trumpet flare)

141- Black wide legged work pants.  With tags.  Languished in my closet for over four years, waiting to be hemmed.

142- Navy cotton Bermuda shorts.  Right.  Shorts rank up there with bathing suits in my wardrobe.

143- Black cotton sweater.  I have three.

144- Beaded pie weights.  Got these as a gift and used them once.  I think it was back in 1975.

145- Four fake gourds.  I grew real ones instead.

146- Black Merrell shoes.  You know, the kind that make you think you are walking pigeon-toed?  I find (lo and behold) that I own three pair of very similar shoes.  These are the lace-up kind and I am practicing for when I am old and feeble (in about 24 hours), so no laces for me.

147- "The Silver Palate Cookbook".  One of my oldies but goodies that I used constantly, back in the day.  I have not opened it during the entire time I've lived here.  Time to share.

(Not counted but still jettisoned, three pair of BGPs that were beginning to look like a cross between cotton gauze and Swiss cheese.  I find it very difficult to part with comfy undies.  TMI?)

Duck news - someone is quacking.  I had put them outside in a pen yesterday and then, when I brought them back inside last night after work, I heard a distinct "Quack".  It's the largest one - I caught him looking around, startled expression on his puss, wondering where that sound came from.  My babies are growing up!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I've been Liebsterized!

The Fair Fiona from Confessions of a Crazed Cattlewoman has bestowed a Liebster upon me.  While I am going to be a poop and not follow through with the whole thing (create questions, spread the award), I will answer her fun questions:

#1- If you were going to travel where would you go?

I would love to travel to meet all the bloggers I know and love.  And I will, as soon as I don't have 65 dependents at home.

#2- What is your favorite time of day?

Early morning.  The earlier, the better. 

#3- Who is the most inspirational woman in your life?

This is a tough one.  I would have to say a certain woman living in a northern state who quilts, homesteads *coughmamapea*, but truthfully?  It would be a woman who is a conglomeration of so many woman I have met through blogs.

#4- If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?

I would like to see an upsurge of compassion.

#5- What is your very favorite food?

Any flavor (without nuts) of ice cream, followed by a potato chip chaser.

#6- Have you been to a movie lately and if so what was it?

I have not seen a movie in a theater since Lincoln and was disappointed with that one.  However, I can still see Omar Sharif's large, dark eyes filling the screen in Doctor Zhivago.  I have never fully recovered and I was in my early teens.

#7- What made you decide to start and maintain your blog?

I had just moved to my first home and started homesteading in a small way.  I didn't know anyone and found a lot of inspiration on the blogs I was reading.  I started as a way to connect and to create a history.

#8- When was the last time you sat down and read a good book?

I have been reading a book I like a lot, about two pages a week.  It's hard to find time to sit for more than 15 minutes (without falling asleep).

#9- What kind of costume would you wear to a costume Ball?

I'd like to be the Lone Rangerette!

#10- What was one thing you had a trouble learning?

Math.  Any form, color or iteration of it.  An iron curtain clangs down in my mind whenever presented with a math problem.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

First Harvest

Stinging Nettles and gear

(Obviously taken pre-camera-theft)  On last Friday morning, I hurriedly took scissors out to the compost pile by the barn and snipped a bag full of nettles.  I had been clued in that my farmer/neighbor was going to toddle down with his front-end loader and turn the pile for me that morning after milking.  I love to dry it, make soup from it, toss it in salads.  Looks like I have plenty more - everywhere!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Not Quite My Typical Weekend.

It started off typically - the weather forecast, which had been for two days of warm, sunny weather, changed almost overnight to cool, windy and rainy.  I managed to get my strawberry plants planted and a few things done around the garden before it poured.  Then it was off to Vermont for my list of 8 errands, then to the parents' for Mother's Day and a lovely visit with my youngest sis and her friend, Tory, not seen in years and sorely missed.  I had one last chore to squeeze in - grocery shopping - and in the interest of time, decided to shop at a more upscale (expensive) store since it was on my way home.  That's when the weekend took a different turn.  Someone stole my cell phone.

Granted, I made it easy for them.  I had slid it into my wallet and put the wallet in the cart - forgot it was there, pushed the cart in the line with the rest and toddled to my car.  I got less than a half mile away, when I realized I had left it, did a U-turn, and sped back.  The wallet was there.  The phone was not.  The person at the customer service desk said, "oooh, you were asking for it!"  To which I replied (through gritted teeth), "No, it was their choice to take it - or they could have taken the wallet and phone the 15 feet to your desk and turned it in."

I went to the local Verizon store where I was told that they would love to help me, but the were closing in 15 minutes and couldn't even sell me a phone.  What?

I drove home doing some breathing exercises and realized just how much I had depended on it.  Not only was (is) my cell phone the only phone I have, but I had my email, bank, you-name-it on that phone.  It was unhealthy and unsafe.  I had the service temporarily disconnected and managed to scrounge up my wifi device and laptop.  I powered them up and reported the phone stolen and temporarily discontinued my service.  I ordered a refurbished phone online and will do without until it arrives.  I will also seriously consider changing my carrier.

In some ways, it was fortuitous.  It made me realize that I needed to slow down and pay attention.  However, as a neighbor who stopped by to drop off dahlias commented, "Who are you kidding?  You are hardwired to have one speed and direction - fast and forward."  True.  But even I can shave off a couple of errands from the too-much-in-one-day list.  When I got home, I hugged the dogs, fed everyone, chilled a bottle of wine and made a list for Sunday.  Hehe.

It's amazing how quiet it is with no phone.  And how much extra time I had.  To fill with duck watering, Nugget watering, sheep scratching, garden working.  I got the violas/Johnny-Jump-ups moved out of the onion bed, got the bed prepped and planted onions.  I prepped the potato bags.  I weeded.  I did four loads of laundry and got lots of company.  I slept well last night.

There will be a dearth of photos this week - I dug up my digital camera and am charging it up.  Hopefully, I will remember how to use it...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Doing the Poultry Shuffle

One of the reasons I was so anxious to get home Saturday was because it was D-Day/Weekend for getting the Nuggets out of the laundry room and into their interim brooder set up(s).  Because I am brooding so many this year (never again this many), I had to break the mob into two groups.  A dozen went into the small coop brooder and the rest into the large brooder in my shed.  Then there was the requisite cleaning of the toxic waste brooder tubs, running of electric, shuffling of the feeders/waterers and toting of the Nuggets.  Once that was done (most of Sunday), it was time to move the ducklings from the back room into the laundry room.  They were very happy and it has allowed me to work on socializing them.  This collapsible dog pen is one of the best investments I have made - it is light, has a waterproof floor and a zip cover.  It should accommodate them long enough for the duck house to be completed (in a perfect world.........right, Mama Pea?)

New digs for ducklings.

Nuggets Group 1
Nuggets Group 2

Group 2

The larger group of Nuggets went into the big metal tub brooder that I have set up in the shed.  I built a top for it that is covered in hardware cloth - which keeps them safe from marauding rodents, etc.  I can rest a heat lamp on it - far enough not to toast them - and then cover and uncover the top as necessary.  Of course, as soon as I moved them out to the shed, the temps dropped and it has been cold, rainy and clammy for days.  They are nice and toasty inside, however, and it should hold them until they are feathered out enough to put in the hoop house.  Which needs a new tarp and some updated security.  The one thing I can be sure of (besides death and high taxes) is that there will always be more to do.  I am now in the process of adjusting my morning/evening routine to encompass two more areas to service.  It's a little sticky but we'll get there.  I was so late getting out the door this morning, that I did not notice the state of my hair until I was in my office.  Good thing no one sees me - if there was a small child about, I might frighten it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Socialization - Part Whatever

As part of my ongoing effort to socialize myself, I headed out on Saturday to visit my friend, Linda, in Chicopee, MA.  There was a pottery tour afoot and I am always game for an afternoon steeped in others' creative efforts.  After a nerve-wracking trip on the Mass Pike and some faulty GPS instructions, I arrived at Linda's and we headed out.  I did not get pics of the various potters - my camera battery was lowish and I forgot - but I did take a snap of this clever way of displaying a pot.  There were some completely awesome artists (the first three were the best) and I picked up a wonderful shallow bowl, an adorable pitcher, an object that cannot be described - it's a birthday gift, and the wonderful coffee mug in yesterday's post.

Creative use of a woodpile

We (Linda) did a lot of driving and we ended the tour in Shelburne Falls - a place I have always wanted to visit.  Besides a wonderful array of little shops and artists, there are glacial potholes and the Bridge of Flowers.
Of course, treaty or not, they did
not keep their word.  Surprise.  Not.
Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes.  Cool!

I like THESE potholes.

Wonderful wisteria on the Bridge of Flowers

More wonderful wisteria.

Their magnolia is blooming!

The other end of the hand...
my friend, Linda.

The last potter we visited was in Shelburne Falls - he of the Mug of Humanity.  His wares were displayed in a 54 y/o Airstream travel trailer, which had me at the get-go.  When I mentioned that I was looking for a special coffee/tea mug - something unique - he said, what you need is a mug with humanity.  I'm still not sure what humanity had to do with my mug, but I love it. 

What had started off as a bright, sunny day, diminished by the time we reached the Bridge of Flowers.  It was still a lovely sight - and I can imagine it is spectacular by June.  Linda and I saw at least 20 shops that we wanted to explore further, but time was not on our side, as we had to drive back to Chicopee for me to collect my car and make the trek home.  Knowing I would arrive late, I picked up two boxes of the pups' favorite non-mom-baked treats at Trader Joe's.  I shouldn't have worried.  While the cats gave me the cold-shoulder, the dogs were jubilant that I was home, treats or not. 

This is the end of my socializing for a while.  As fun as it was, in the back of my mind (rather close to the front, actually) was the realization that there is a garden to be cleaned up and readied for planting.  On weekends.  And, of course, Sunday it rained all day.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Musings 134-140

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....

I'm s.l.o.w.l.y getting close to the half-way mark in my purge goal.  The challenge, I've found, is not finding the junk treasures to part with, it's more finding time to find the treasures.  I am, of course, surprised that I don't have time.  I do believe that my mind lives in its own universe where there is nothing BUT time.  However, the rest of me lives in real time - what little there is of it.  Got that?

134- My 3-in-1 small appliance.  I realized that I use exactly 1-in-3 and that the fact that it is non-stick (which raises alarm bells in my now-PFOA-consciousness) means I won't continue to use it.  It is not Teflon, so not on the list of harmful.  Yet.... I am opting for a plain old crockpot.  With glazed ceramic bowl.  Of which I am sure they will find causes unknown risk to us all.  Sigh.
135- This book was inspirational back in my catering, 'just call me martha' entertaining days.  Now, you'll get placemats and - on a good day - matching flatware.
136-138  More casting off of the plastic.  Even though these are reusable bags, I am heading in the direction of fabric that I can toss in the washer if need be.
139-140  Even though there are days when I could actually drink two cups of coffee simultaneously (is that physically possible?), I am paring down.  The cup on the right is a Bennington Potters cup and was a bit difficult to part with....
Except, now I have this beauty!  (Which actually means that I am adding something, which reduces the total number by one, technically, but it's my game and my rules.  Pfft.)
A mug with humanity.

I will furnish details of my Mug with Humanity in my next post.  Brace yourself - I actually took pictures!