Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shearing and other hysteria.

Bartie as a Dalmatian puppy.

The Boyz on hairy rug.

Juno, Freyda and Flora "After".

Flora's sweet mug.

Lots going on around here, as you can see.  And lots you can't see.  Because I didn't have a functioning data card in my camera :o(  The shearer came on Friday, and Bartie, who had been hale and hearty up until the time he was plopped on his tiny butt, started wheezing up a storm.  That meant a call to the vet and much wringing of hands and waiting.  The rest of the fat girls were fine.  Hoosier hummed a worried tune throughout the procedure.

I spent a very fun day at the Southern Adirondack Sheep & Wool Fest with M in her booth, helping her sell her awesome hand-dyed yarn.  Actually, I didn't have to do much except collect money, as the yarn sold itself - it flew off the shelf.  The trip also allowed me to stop at the vet to pick up some penicillin for the laddie.  As I was loathe to have to stick his little body with needles twice a day for ten days, I opted to keep him separate, worm him again, give him some mega-nutrients and keep my eye on him.  His temperature is normal and he hasn't wheezed, so my fingers are crossed.

I got some beautiful mohair blend yarn for a shawl for moi.  I like the concept of a shawl that ties in the back - no slipping off your shoulders or interfering with what you're doing.  It's also an easy pattern that even I will be able to follow.  There's nothing like a sheep & wool festival to get you into the fall spirit!  I am happy to be back knitting.

Today's forecast is for 2-4 inches of rain.  We need the rain - but it would have been nice to have it spread out over more than a day.  There's also a high wind warning, so I was out with my entire stock of bungee cords this morning.  The lattice house roof tarp now has 25 bungee cords holding it every which way.  Let's hope it holds, or it could get very exciting for the un-exciting meat chickens housed therein.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You know you're a homesteader when...

you find hay in your bra when you're getting ready for bed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ketchup. Catsup. Catchup.

Turkeys in the front yard. (Click on pic to enlarge)
A little glimpse into how my mind works.  I have always been interested in regional spellings and words that crop up in their own little parts of the country.  The heading came when I thought it was time to catch-up on my blog - which then led to ketchup and catsup.  And that led me to thinking about crick and creek, wash and warsh.  And on and on it goes...
I grew up in Ohio - sort of the mid-west - and when I hear someone talking about getting the 'warsh' done, I gravitate to them like Monarchs to Mexico.  I like mid-westerners.
     Lots going on around the farmstead in the recent weeks.  We continue to monitor Bartie, who remains a bit wheezy, but wants desperately to join the other sheep - buttheads or not.  I managed to trick him into eating a small head of garlic yesterday morning by serving up a tasty dish of raw garlic cloves (small), a chopped apple, a little cracked corn, sweet feed, topped off by a big dollop of molasses.  He licked the bottom of his dish clean.  I am not letting him out until I haven't heard a wheeze in at least two days.
     The lattice house continues to be a work in progress - I did manage to get the front panel cut and mounted, and put the remaining side up, too.  Other than the roof and roof ends, it is pretty much done.  I also made the decision to part with Miquel - I can do a lot of things, but I am not. in. the. least. bit. mechanical.  Having to deal with a 20 year-old truck has proven too nerve-wracking for me, so he's on the local market.  Amazingly, he started right up after sitting dormant for over a month and a half.  Buen chico, Miquel.
     Garden-wise, the cherry tomatoes are finally winding down, there are still lots of full-size tomatoes on the vine and my sole remaining eggplant is growing fruit.  A little late, but what the heck.  I've planted kale and spinach in the raised bed that once held garlic and fashioned a little hoophouse over it.  The seeds have germinated, so all I have to do now is to remember to fold back the plastic when it's warm during the day, then cover it back up at night.  I am a major fan of kale.
     It was in the 30s this morning which put me in denial.  I refuse to accept 30 degree temperatures while it is still September.  If I squinted just right, it looked a lot like 64, which I will accept.  There was a thin layer of frost on the deck table that further accelerated my denial/panic.  But, by the time I left for the office, it was sunny and climbing into the 50s.  While I waited for K to arrive for the administration of Bertie's shot, I grabbed a shovel and dug up some more of the dang thistles that seem to thrive everywhere.  Then I dug a hole and planted the horseradish that was -- miracle of all miracles -- still alive in it's temporary bucket.  I had unceremoniously plopped it into the bucket with water and dirt when I got back from Dansville.  There is going to be a string of mild days coming up and I figured it was now or never.
     Kevin Ford is due back for the fall shearing on Friday morning, so I will plan on taking before/after pictures.  Their fleece is beautiful right now - especially Juno's.  Until you look below the surface, that is, and see the five pounds of vegetable matter that's accumulated right down to skin level.  Stinker.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Just call me Cleo.

Yesterday I drove my parents two hours each way so that my mom could see and visit with her sister.  This is a once-a-year occurrence and we try to find a mid-way point between them (VT) and my cousin (CT).  I won't bore you with the gory details, but it was an enlightening experience and taught me many things - mostly: a) work on my patience level (alternately, heavily medicate myself) and, b) put tracking devices on parents when going into large shopping venues.

Back to my main point (a little AADD going on here).  I was on schedule to do chores, clean up the kitchen, take a shower, find something presentable to wear, await my parents' arrival and off we would go, with tons of extra time.  Then I found Bartie with a bad, wheezy cough.  Then Flora blindsided him when my back was turned and he was inhaling his grain.  When I turned around, he was on his side, legs sticking straight out, doing his best imitation of a dead lamb.  I screeched and almost vaulted the fence to find that he just had the wind knocked out of him, but he was dazed and wobbly and his wheezing was much worse.  So...into the hoop house in quarantine he went with a nice dry layer of bedding hay and a nice pile of eating hay and his own water.  Much *speaking in tongues* to Flora and the useless threat of "no shelter for you!"  Then race inside to call my neighbor for help in giving him his antibiotic shot (it's a two-person job).  Then five minutes to get back inside and take a shower, grab at anything clothes-wise that seemed to match, then out the door.

I suppose I keep planning things so that I can delude myself into thinking that I have some kind of control over my life.  That's me, Cleo, Queen of Denial.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Price of Procrastination

My procrastination tendencies seem to relate to three basic things:  cleaning my oven; filing; cleaning out my chicken coop.  While not cleaning my oven (except right before the holiday season) can lead to some interesting environmental conditions in my kitchen, the chicken coop becomes downright disgusting.  Ideally, I should clean it out in the spring and in the fall.  But 'ideally' always escapes me.  What you see above is the "after".  I was going to take a "before", but was afraid I'd be raided by the PFBCLC (People for Better Chicken Living Conditions).  Besides, I couldn't stand in there long enough to focus the camera.  Okay, it wasn't THAT bad, but it was bad.  The price for this bit of procrastination?  4 hours, over two days, hauling 6 huge wheelbarrow-loads of chicken poop, to a 'special' compost pile waaaaaay around the house and down the back.  At least I am getting smarter - the last two times, I not only procrastinated but got lazy and dumped the results in a pile outside of the gate.  I think I do not need to describe to those of you with chickens the odorous results of rain and heat on a large pile of non-composted chicken manure.  In the end the results were so nice that I had to take a picture.  I should probably stick this on the fridge for reference this spring -- whaddaya think?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tearing Down and Building Up.

So far, this has been a very productive *vacation*.  M and her husband came early on Labor Day morning to move out the quail condo.  M is now raising them and likes them.  I say it's because they are not right outside of her bedroom window.  That cleared out the run area of the A-frame chicken-duck-meatbird pen.  Then I guilted them into helping me move the HEAVY small coop across the yard and into the rabbits' area.  This involved engineering, patience, many breaks, heavy-lifting, and my groveling.  In the top photo, the area to the right is where the small coop used to be.  It is now within the fenced area to the left.  It's looking a little less like the slums of Tandoori.  The Barnevelders (in the small coop) had quite an exciting journey, closed up in their house, across the tundra of my back yard.  They were a little confused that night - it was their coop, but it was in an alien land, so they didn't dare go inside.  Luckily, they are mild-mannered chickens and I was able to scoop them up and put them back inside, safe and sound.  Now that things are consolidated, my evening chores are a breeze!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Heeeere's Bartie!

I apologize for the poor quality of the photograph, but it was getting late and my neighbor N and I had just finished fencing the last bit of pasture (YES! YES! YES!)  I was tired and Bartlett was rushing from one green thing to another, trying to avoid the BBs (big broads), who are still butting him.  It's not clear in the photo, but he's sporting a dandy lei of burdock burrs.  He has an adorable soft blaaating voice.  We are still working on building him up and he's quite the smarty-pants already.  As soon as I come into their area in the morning, he runs to the far side of the hoop house - that's his safe, out-of-view spot where I feed him his grain.  The girls can get their licks in while they can - once he's grown some, the tables will be turned.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Channeling a Depression Era Farmwife.

During a recent conversation with friends, the subject of my incessant canning came up.  It went something like this:

S:  "Where did that bushel of tomatoes in your kitchen come from?"
Me:  "From Moses Farm - I'm canning sauce, salsa and tomatoes."
J:  "Don't you have a bunch of tomatoes in your own garden?"
Me:  "Yes."
S:  "So, how much do you have left from the last four years of canning?"
Me:  "Um.  A lot."
J:  "And, how large is this family you're feeding?"
Me:  "Um.  One."
S&J (in unison):  "So why the heck are you canning everything in sight until all hours of the night?"
Me:  "I'm channeling a Depression Era farmwife."

Makes perfect sense to me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Whoa! Where did that week go?

I am enjoying the beginning of my WEEK OFF.  After laboring over my 'vacation list', I decided there weren't enough fun things in it, so I added "go to a Fair".  I ended up going to one of the local fairs where my friend M's daughter, AlsoM, was showing her chickens through 4-H.  She appears, beaming, with one of her many blue ribboned chickens.  It was so much fun watching these kids, serious as all get-out, standing before the judge in the poultry barn.  I examined the rabbits, oxen team, goats, sheep, and anything furred and feathered.  The heat wave had broken and we actually *gasp* had a tiny bit of rain.  Calloo, callay!  It seems that summer ended with a bang, as it was 42 degrees this morning, the leaves are already turning, and I'm gathering my seed garlic.
     I leave you with a fine example of "Poultry Pride".   This lovely hen had all her past awards right there in the cage.  She was, indeed, a beauty.  Next up:  finish fencing, rearrange poultry yard, and a picture of Bartlett.  I hope you all are enjoying a non-laboring Labor Day!