Tuesday, May 9, 2017


I have been waiting for an occasion to use that word - "olio" - one of my favorite crossword puzzle words that seem to be archaic.   O-li-o (noun); another term for olla podrida; a miscellaneous collection of things; a variety act or show.  That describes the last four days to a 't'.

Besides the fact that everything now squishes - six straight days of rain (although we have a break as I type), with at least six more coming up - my life has taken on the neon colors of barely-controlled chaos.  I'd like to say that I've grown so accustomed to this that I just roll with the currents.  But that would not be the truth.  As always, I face my life as a salmon - always fighting to go upstream.  Gah.

I had taken Friday off so that I could whip the house into shape and get ready for my youngest sister's birthday bash.  Well, bashette - none of us stays up past 9:30.  The three sisters were going to merge at the LLF and feast on lobster, carrot rice, roasted asparagus, excellent champagne, and flourless chocolate cake (aka a slab of fudge).  Connie came over early and we got into gear.  In the rain.  Of course.  Cynthia had to drive up from The City through floods and pestilence and arrived around 7:30. 

Chocolate cake by the light of
the strange birthday candle/music
box that eventually needed to be
Things were going swimmingly until the clock struck 9.  Then the power went out.  And stayed out.  Thankfully, the champagne carried us through until bed time.  I was not able to sleep, however, because I could get no information about when the power would be restored and I had three brooders of chicks in the dark with no heat.  I paced and heaved and sighed all night.  Around midnight, aided by my headlamp, I divided the chicks into two groups for warmth and then swaddled the brooders with a down comforter.  It was a good thing that they were mostly feathered (except their fuzzy heads) and were able to maintain enough warmth to keep themselves comfortable.

By the time daylight arrived (with more rain and wind), there was still no word on power restoration.  I pulled on my waders and slogged out to the generator and got it going.  I am so glad I have it - but it is a small one and not able to power more than one thing at a time.  That meant a rotating schedule of Freezer #1, Brooders, Freezer #2.  The fridge was on its own, not to mention the total lack of running water.  That sent both sisters off early in the morning - you do NOT want three women in the house with no flushing toilets.  Trust me on this.  Saturday was spent with my phone alarm going off every two hours, so that I could unplug one thing and plug in the next thing.  Finally, by late afternoon, the utility company put an estimated restoration time of 11PM on their web site.  I doubted I would be upright by 11PM, so I opted to stay up as along as I could, then cut off the generator and flip the main switch back on.  I tossed and turned until 3A, when the power finally came back on.

Sunday was spent cleaning up Friday's dishes and lots of inside work. was raining.  I almost forgot that Monday was Shearing Day and had to dash out in the drizzle to set up the barn so that the sheep would be dry.  I slept very well Sunday night.

Monday morning dawned overcast, windy and raw, but not raining!  After rushing through the basics, I jumped in the car and drove north to Melanie's, where we rassled small, woolly, horned eel bodies from her sheep cote downhill, alllllll the way up to her front porch, where the power lay.  I was staggering and gasping by the time we got them all in the pen she set up.  Man, oh, man.  Shetlands are small but wiry!  Most of them had horns, so they provided good handles - but they also provided a series of bruises up and down both legs.  The shearer was an hour late, so we got some visit time in, which was a bonus. 
Joe working on an itty-bitty
Shetland.  I love my shearer.

Some beautiful fleece!
Then down the road to stop number two - one sheep with his giant ox friend.  Since this is already a windy post, I will add a little background on this wild sheep.  He was an escapee from a meat sheep herd,  at least 15 miles to the northeast, outside of our town.  He spent months being spotted but never caught.  How he managed to travel up the mountain, through coyote, bear and bobcat country and survive, speaks of his innate wildness.  He ended up sauntering into a friend's barn and planting himself between his pair of giant, gentle oxen.  And there he stayed.  Unfortunately, one of the oxen died in the fall of bone cancer.  The remaining boy seemed very lonely and stuck to his sheepie companion.  An odd couple.
Joe is close to 6' tall.   Just sayin'.

The odd couple
Down the mountain we went to tackled my two fat eels, then down the road to another neighbor for three sheep, an angora goat and two alpacas.  While the neighbor stood, listing and re-listing all his ailments (real or imagined, or both), Joe and I did all the labor.  Honestly.  But it gave me some time to assess this guy's LGDs - who are in sorry shape.  As my shearer noted, love is great but not enough when it comes to animals.  You need to provide care.  At least we make sure whomever needs it gets shorn each year (although the angora goat needs shearing 2x a year - Joe must have sheared off over 20 lbs of matted, filthy fiber).  And don't get me started on hooves.  While the neighbor nattered on, I got a curry comb and started on one of the Maremmas.  The female is friendly - the male is extremely wary.  It was all I could do, not to load both of them in my car and take them home.

By the time I got home, all I wanted was a soft chair and a cup of tea (did I mention that the wind howled through the barn and it spitted snow on us for two hours?)  Instead, I find blood running down Linden's face and Norman sporting red polka dots all over.  Apparently, spring is in the air and, once the fleece is off, feelings run high.  Or they turn into idiots - take your choice.  I managed to slap some blood-stop on Linden's broken scur, then I left them to it.  They eventually calmed down and there was - of course - the rain to clean things up.  Double gah.

On a more mundane (thank goodness) note, I have found my new Favorite Thing.  I ended up making the breakfast I had planned for my sisters, for myself on Sunday.  Baked eggs in crispy prosciutto cups.  OMG.  That led to finding MORE prosciutto in the fridge for another round for the freezer, and then little spinach quiches in muffin cups, too  I am on a roll!  Pepperoni got his summer buzz cut and looks much less fat than I thought he would.  Losing all that hair really put some zing in his step, and he's been orking around like a looney tune since Sunday.  Best of all?   Yesterday evening, just when I was going to slip batch number 2 of my muffin madness into the oven, my handyman arrived with the wood for my pagoda!  Woohoo!  Building starts this week!  If it ever stops raining, that is.  Maybe I should save it for an ark.

Beady little eyes

Stream-lined for summer.  If it
ever arrives.
Wake us up when the sun comes out.


Sue said...

It's been a busy week for you. Glad your power is back. I don't use much electric, but oh, the freezers!!! They NEED their go-juice.

Some sun, and warmth would be welcome. We got ZAPPED last night--a low of much for the blossums that were popping out.

Ed said...

Olio is a word I recognized immediately for the same reasons as you!

I remember those days of lengthy power outages and livestock. Fortunately where I live now with just two children and much quicker response times for getting the juice flowing again, I don't have it as hard.

I was just getting ready to throw out some leftover prosciutto from a party. I'm now searching for a recipe like you described above!

Michelle said...

Woman? Whoa, man; have you had a crazy time of it! My shearer was supposed to come today but called in sick. But at least I got my part done – collecting fleece samples from all the adults (for marketing and testing) and checking to see who could be rooed (three less to pay the shearer to do).

jaz@octoberfarm said...

wow...busy times! we got a lot of rain too. now it's sunny and cool! i wish it would stay like this!

Susan said...

Ed, it is so simple! Spray or lightly grease muffin tins, put a half (they called for a full slice, but it's salty!) slice in the bottom of each. Put a bit of shredded cheese, break an egg in each cup, drizzle a teaspoon of cream, sprinkle with s/p and dried thyme and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Susan said...

Oh, cripes! 21? In May? Has Ma Nature lost her mind? I don't use much electric either - except for brooding season and the freezers. But, boy, do I miss running water!

Susan said...

Michelle - I really love my shearer. He is the nicest young guy. He does a good job, is very reasonable and pretty prompt. He has to drive a good 45 minutes south to us, so I always coordinate friends and neighbors.

Susan said...

Sunny, yes. Not too cool, though. I have a LOT of seedlings to get in the ground! But it sure beats the heck out of hot and humid.

kymber said...

Susan - you put all of the rest of us to shame!!! the amount of stuff you get done in a day shouldn't be legal!!! and then there's the fact that you have a job and a 2hour commute daily??? and a perpetual smile on your face???

enough gurl! go have a freakin nap!

sending much love and hopefully helpful energy your way! your friend,

Debra She Who Seeks said...

My goodness, what a time you've had! I hope the rest of the week is quiet and boring to make up for it!

Sue said...

We've discussed a hand pump.....but that's as far as it's ever gotten. In the summer we have the rain tanks to scoop water from. Winter is a pain. We'll run the generator to flush toilets and fill jugs, but it really bogs it down.

Kristina said...

What a whirlwind of work and fun. You just reminded me about putting a generator on the top of our list. We had a dry day today, but rain started just after dinner. We are getting more too.

farm buddy said...

The whole LGD thing can be so complicated. I have my Maremma, Bess, who is just the very best dog. She guards the sheep, chickens, cattle, plus the Border collies and me, but her role is more farm dog than LGD in that she always has access to my mudroom (with the Orvis beds), and she gets regular brushing, daily hikes, and frequent small road trips in the truck. She often sleeps at least part of the night with the stock during the grazing season, but always seeks shelter in inclement weather, as do the sheep. I would feel uncomfortable with dogs being in the situation you described.

Mama Pea said...

You've got to stop having weekends off working your day job! How you have enough energy to do all you do on your weekends is beyond me! How very thoughtful of you to set up all the dates for shearing of sheep close by you. Sounds like some of the sheep would suffer if you didn't see to it.

We haven't been having your rain, but boy howdy, it sure is staying cool. I'm still wearing my down chore jacket when working outside. Beginning to feel I need a brooder lamp to attach to my hat.

Susan said...

Oh, kymber - if only I COULD nap! I am just not a napper. I'd need an off switch for that hamster cage that is my brain.

Susan said...

I'll settle for quiet. If it's boring, I would just complain. :)

Susan said...

I didn't think I needed one until we lost power for two weeks one year. That settled it. I could only afford a small one, but it's better than none.

Susan said...

FB - I would really like to pick your brain about an issue (one of many) with the male Maremma. If you read this, send me an email - This guy doesn't know his ass from his elbow, but the dogs were his late wife's - she knew what she was doing, but now she's gone. Sounds like Bess (great name) has the best of all worlds.

Susan said...

Mama Pea - I'm with you, kid! It was 34* again this morning - I was out with gloves and down vest and insulated boots again. Enough!

Ed said...

I found a recipe online that sounds like exactly what you described. It is on our menu for Saturday morning.

Rain said...

Hi Susan :)) That was very nice to read!! Power out for that long scares me. When I was much younger, I had a really rough time in an ice storm in Montreal. Downtown in a horrible apartment in January with no power for a week. People were insane and I couldn't bolt my door hard enough. Since then I get very nervous when the power goes out. We don't have any alternate power, just a fireplace for heat. I'm glad your chicks were all okay!

I love the odd couple! Thanks for sharing all the photos! :) Little Pepperoni is SO CUTE...I want to hug him!!!!

Theresa Y said...

I think you need a vacation from your weekends. Did you have time to breathe? Here's hoping you have less chaos next weekend ;-)

melanie said...

You got pictures! When did you have time for that? (In between bruisings, no doubt...) sorry if my horny children sullied your creamy skin....I appreciated ALL your help!