Friday, May 31, 2013

I "Heart" My Llama.

Juno is about to dive into the stinging nettles.
Good girl.

Apria, my sight-challenged, young-middle-aged llama, is so much fun to watch.  Her vision may be limited, but all of her other senses are keen.  Rain, sleet, snow - she is always outside, on guard, all night.  As soon as she feels all is safe, she trots into the shed and boots the sheep out.  It would be nice, however, if she was a little easier to work with.  Her hooves need a good trimming, but I will need an army, or a village or Divine intervention to get that chore accomplished.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

There was snorkeling and snorgling.

There could have been canoeing and water skiing, too.  And that was just in my front yard.  It rained for four days straight.  And it snowed (not far from me, by God).  And then, Monday, I awoke to a parallel Universe where the skies were blue, cloudless and sunny.  And then we had a freeze/frost.

On Sunday, a friend stopped by during the downpour to enjoy a little goat snorkeling/snorgling.  They are so relaxed that Apple's little hiney is hanging out the back.  Chickie kept trying to whisper in her ear..."I am the cute one - I am the one with personality - you should snorgle ME!"  Sage was watching from the dry barn.  Babies or not, she wasn't about to get wet.

A lap full o' love.

Hey, lady.  Put those kids down and snorgle me!

You can see Apple's ample little butt sticking out
to the right.

It was a short snorgling session, as the goats H.A.T.E. rain, and that's about all it did on Sunday.  And the day before.  And the day before that.  And...never mind.

That left Monday.  I did manage to squeeze in three days' worth of gardening by starting at 9 and stopping at 6.  I am happy to say that, other than planting basil, peppers and squash, I am done.  Am I ever.  For now, anyway.  Am I the only one who goes out the day after planting seeds to stare at the dirt, waiting for the seedlings to appear?

Bean bed with snow peas on each end.
Three kinds of beets/two kinds of chard.

Tomatoes and cukes on the end with trellis.

Wide view - new strawberry bed in foreground.  Gigundo
new bed (8 loads dirt/two manure) to right.
Potatoes in tires.  Horseradish in far left tire.
The power of the bbeans is evident in the ggarlic bed.

For those of you who have skipped the post to find out who won the Parent of the Sourdough Starter Giveaway...there will be a test on the rest... :)

The winner is:  Jocelyn!  Please email your mailing address and I will send it off.  Congratulations!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oh, I don't know. Why don't we...

have a giveaway! 

I am trying to follow the Feng Shui, let go of 'things', clear out the clutter, quit being a baby.

I am facing up.

I am parting with my precious 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter.

There.  I've said it.  I've posted it.  I mean it.

So, if you would like to be the recipient of my precious starter, complete with directions to revive and a whole bunch of historic and tasty recipes, please leave a comment below as to why you would be the perfect Sourdough Starter Parent.

*Open to US residents only, please.  Entry ends at midnight, Tuesday, May 28.  Winner will be randomly chosen Wednesday, May 29.  Bon chance!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Disorder of the Day.

There is no order or reason to this post.  Just thought I'd be upfront about it.  The picture above was taken in a brief non-raining moment, on top of my mountain, above one of the many little lakes that I drive past.  There were two rainbows - you can see the other, fainter rainbow to the right.

Sometimes, no matter how frugal, tight, miserly, and cheap that I am, it pays to pay out.  I would rather shop in friends' closets than in the store.  And I have been mighty lucky in that respect, over the years.  However, even though this largess often included shoes of a quality and price that prickled my shoe envy something fierce, gently used shoes are not good for my over used feet.  Gritting my teeth and clutching my new Etsy wallet tight against my chest, I parted with a great deal of money (for me) and bought a brand-spanking new pair of Dansko shoes.  And not even my usual serviceable, boring but comfortable clogs.  These are fancy!  And they have heels!  I thought I'd have a nosebleed there for a while, but I rallied and regained my balance and poise.  Looks like charm school wasn't a total waste...and these babies are comfortable!

I was going to take a picture of me standing in them, but I'm not double-jointed.  I really was going to take perverse pleasure in including the gruesome scars from my broken ankle surgery - which rise rather fetchingly above the side strap, but thought I'd spare you, in case you haven't had your morning coffee.  That's right:  two metal plates and 14 screws worth!  I tell you, I can really get security excited at the airport!  I have to carry a card telling them that, yes, I am bionic, and no, I am not a terrorist.

Under the "and they wonder why I'm single" category:  The building superintendent at my office building has been flirting with me for years.  While I appreciate the attention and the fact that he can do all kinds of useful handyman-type things, I don't flirt back.  A couple of days ago, he swaggered into my office and led off with one of his usual lines:  "I bet it's nice and quiet on the farm.  Let's go find out."  Then he added, "You know, we could have some fun, being as we are around the same age and all."  I then told him my age.  Which is three years older than he is.  He jerked back as if I had hit him and said, "WHOA!"  Then made some weak comment and beat a hasty retreat.  Today he was back and said we could "still have fun."  I told him I thought he was probably a really nice guy and lots of laughs, but I was looking for someone less shallow.

I am always so happy to go home to my dogs.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I just HAD to know!

(Warning:  This will give you an upclose view of the workings of my mind.  You were warned.)

Musing on my way to work recently, I got caught up with the word "spatula".  Yes.  Spatula.  I thought, "What an odd word.  Is it Spanish?"  Then I said "Spatula" out loud in every type of accent I could muster.

"Spot U Lah"
"Spaaaat ur lah"
"Spet oo la"

This caroomed around in my bean the entire drive, so I had to Google it.  Apparently, Spatula is from the Late Latin and was first found used in 1525.  It has something to do with epaulets.

Hmmmm.  Epaulets.....ep PAUL ettes.....eee poo leets...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goat Proof. And other Oxymorons.

Technical Assistance and Government/Military Intelligence come to mind.

After completing all my usual Saturday errands (Ellie to Adoption Clinic - where she was adopted!  I am equal parts happy/sad), I came back to start chipping away at the list that was too large for my weekend.  The rest of my day went like this:

Shovel composted llama beans into wheelbarrow.  Half way full when....screaming from Sage.  Chick had discovered I did not hook the bottom latch of the sheep/goat gate.  He was being pummeled by Juno.  Drop everything, go rescue Chick, resume shoveling.

Wheelbarrow two-thirds full.  Screaming from Sage.  Chick and Juno are now beating up the fence trying to butt heads and generally do each other in.  I go get the hose and spray both of them.

Repeat the above ten times.  If someone had come looking for Nigerian Dwarf goats, they could have gotten all four for a dollar.

The LLG (Lithuanian Lawn Guy) and I managed to free the bottom of the hoop house and heave it on its side.  This cleared the way for easy access to the brown gold of the foot-thick composted llama bean pile.

I did manage to get a load of laundry up - although the weather was iffy.  It was an intensive all-gardening weekend.  While I generally gave up and spent a good amount of time snorgling goat kids on Saturday, Sunday was all business.  I got out the door at 9A to take trash and recycling to the transfer station, came home, put on my gloves, got my gear, and - with the exception of a couple water/potty breaks - didn't stop until 5P.  The forecast sounded great - overcast, warm, with a slight chance of an occasional shower.  What actually occurred was a steady drizzly, chilly rain from 9A until Monday.  I told myself that I would stop once the water wicking up my pant legs got above the knee.  That was just around 5P.  I managed to get both strawberry beds weeded and mulched, the currant patch mulched, the tomato/pepper/cuke bed filled with compost, hoed and planted.  I also shoveled 12 buckets of compost, planted Jerusalem artichokes, hoed, composted and planted the potato tires, and dug, sawed and hacked my way through the overgrown hydrangea by the front deck.  Then I cleaned everything up, fed everyone, did chores, and came in and had a very large and wonderful G&T.

Yesterday was a day off, so that I could spend two and a half hours in various garages getting work done on the car, then I drove to Marianne's where we planted tomatoes and weeded her entire greenhouse.  The weather forecast was perfect for that - overcast, cool, slight breeze.  The actual weather?  Hot, bright sun, humid, no breeze.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  Do you think that any of us, being so consistently bad at our jobs, would still have our jobs?  I think not.

Everyone's settling down at home, although I do miss Ellie.  There's something about having a puppy around that just livens things up.  Then, again, if we are too livened up, we may all collapse in a heap.  We are keeping fingers, toes and paws crossed that this new adventure will be the perfect forever home for her.  It sounds promising.  If not?  I happen to know of a home that would love to have her.  Well, at least one of the inhabitants would...

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Ppower of the Bbean!

I am sure I have gone on ad nauseum about the power of the llama bean.  If I haven't, then I have been remiss.  Thanks to an endless supply of llama beans, my garlic is gigantic.  And then, there is the rhubarb.  I wish I had a "Before" picture - but let's do this:

Close your eyes.  Now bring up a vision (black/white or technicolor - your choice) of a nondescript pale green sided house.  It's the short side - the one that only gets sun when it rises (apparently, east-facing) and then spends the rest of the day in shadow.  There is an overhang that blocks some of the rain.  Let's look at the ground.  We'll not call it dirt, because it ain't.  It's sand.  It's gritty.  Now let's envision my three puny rhubarb plants.  BLB (before llama beans).  They are flabby, pale, listless.  It was not, really, a smart place to plant anything.

Enter two years of llama bean application:

Biggify for full effect.
This year I also added spoiled hay as mulch.  This is some serious rhubarb!  Behold the Power of the Bean!  And feel free - if you're in the neighborhood - to shovel up a bucket or five.  There's no end to them.

Gratuitous Ellie Picture:


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thises and Thatses.

I am making progress - although not the kind I had planned on.  All progress so far is Ellie-based.  She's better on her leash, she is better at taking treats (only have to count my fingers occasionally now), she's settled down and is not as Velcro-ish as she was.  I had hoped to make more progress on my garden, but... at least the weather has been so cold I couldn't have planted anything even if I did have the time and energy.  If all goes well and the Universe is smiling on Ellie and me, she will be adopted into a great family this weekend.  The little booger has wiggled her way right into our hearts.  I caught Kramer lying next to her last night.

Up for the weekend is marathon gardening.  I need to wheel barrow down some sawdust mulch from my neighbor's big pile for the strawberries.  I need to amend a couple of beds and prep them for planting.  I need to fill the big raised bed from last year, which never got done.  Another casualty of the 'too little time/too much to do" syndrome.  It's also time to set up the netting around the currant bushes, or I won't get a single one.  The birds are faster than I am.  Speaking of birds, I saw a hummer this morning, which sent me running for the hummer feeder and whipping up a batch of syrup.  I mean, it must be freezing up here!  There is also a Phoebe nest glued to the tops of some PVC pipes I had stored in the barn.  She's setting on eggs, as every time I come in to get hay, she zips out the airspace.  We seem to have lots of Phoebes this year.

I decided to buy a few lettuce plants, since the germination of the seeds I planted in the cold frame is spotty at best.  And I need lettuce!!!  (Jane, why do you live so far away?)  I'm adding a gold oregano to the perennial herb bed - it's gorgeous!  Only one sage plant made it through the winter, my thyme is rampant - and I don't really need to cultivate any, since a good quarter of my side and front yard is full of wild thyme.  I've got parsley in the deck boxes again and planted some nasturtiums in them as well.  Last year's brutal heat and dryness did a number on them, but I'm hoping for a more normal (HAHAHAHA) year this year.  I love the combination.  My lovage is growing and spreading - I always think of Els (the Weaver), my friend who gave me a start of hers, when I see it coming up each spring.  What a lovely way to remember a friend.

While I'd like to tackle the so-called flower bed this year - I've plans for a butterfly/bee/hummer garden - I might have to settle for less than more.  After all, there is just one of me.  And I'm sure that's a good thing.

It is a good thing, if you happen to own the second Gravel Pit from Hell on my road.  I've gone through the full spectrum of anger, frustration, anger, frustration, and feeling helpless against the noise and damage.  Then I thought, the Hell I Am helpless, and have started a campaign to make their lives as hellish as mine.  So far, I've zeroed in on the government guy who is in charge of mines and making sure they are following regulations.  Then I started an email-writing campaign to my town board members addressing the traffic, noise and dust.  Then I started the FOIL process (Freedom of Information Law) to get a copy of the permit application.  Then I emailed the Town Supervisor to request information on weight load limitations on town roads.  And let's not forget my (remaining) sign that is making its weekend appearances!  Yes, I plan on becoming a regular PITA. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ain't we got fun?

Although I was hoping to get pictures of Sage's kids frolicking, it was too damn cold for frolicking this morning.  They were more interested in finding patches of sun light to huddle in.  We had the dreaded freeze.  Talk about oddities of geography, we had 27* this morning, while my parents - 27 miles north - were at 50*.  Go figure.  But, frolicking or not, the Dynamic Duo continue to be the cutest things ever.

Never too far apart.  Apple left.  Willo right.

Warming up.


Where are my sheep?!?

Something is following me!!
Willo hits the milk bar.

Uncle Chickie still has his "baby" fat...

Ellie continues to be a joyful pup.  I caught Bernice trying to play with her.  Ah, our Bernice never quite got the hang of playing.  Her life was hard and there doesn't look like there was much play time involved.  Scrappy continues to tolerate her shenanigans.  Kramer has made nice.  The other two cats will only come out if Ellie is safely crated.  It does look like there is a family already interested in adopting her.  While it's going to be tough to say goodbye, all this puppy-ness is hard on our old family.  Not to mention I haven't gotten a thing done other than the basics.  I hope that this will be Ellie's perfect forever family.  A dog with this much love to give deserves the best.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Can I get an "F"?!

For FAST - as in how the weekend went by.
For FRUSTRATING - as in how my car insinuated itself between me and having a fun Saturday Road Trip.
For FUN - as in how Mother's Day was spent with doeling snoogling, good food, good conversation and was an all-around good time.
For FRIGID - as in the weather.
For FECKLESS - which is what I was last night (lacking in vitality) because of
FATE - which is FICKLE.

I am not an F.  I'm an E.  As in Ellie.

The other "Fs" of my weekend:  FRISKY, FOSTERING, FILLING.  The rescue group for which I volunteer had an emergency.  They said she was two.  I say that, if she's two, I'm 20.  Of course, I'd gladly lose that bet!  We are adjusting and finding we have enough love to spread around.  I mean, as my friend Rosie would say, if the Universe comes and knocks on the door of your heart, how can you NOT open it?

Things are FROLLICKING at LLF!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Catch up.

I have been too busy snoogling goat kids to take pictures.  I have got to learn to use the video on my phone, since they don't hold still long enough to be a good target for still photography.  Every morning I spend time doing my impression of Mount Sweezie, so that they can climb all over me.  This, of course, makes me collapse into a pile of hysterical laughter.  What a good way to start the day.  Sage still sidles away from me and I haven't started milking her yet.  I am aiming for next week, come Hell or High Water.

Apple (L) and Willo (R) enjoying the sun.  I have to
work on my camera skills.
No kidding.
Chickie is being a very good uncle.  He chases them around every once in a while, but, for the most part, they follow him like a little wagon train.  They are getting tall and have wonderful confirmation.  Apple (as in the Apple of My Eye - truly) is very curious and likes being held.  Willo is more her mother's daughter.

They look so...adultish.

Grass is growing, so the sheep and Apria get a little time on grass in the morning and in the evening.  Just to make sure they don't starve.  (BTW, I am still looking for that "before" picture - which I KNOW I have.  Just don't know where I have it.)

The peas continue to grow, I have put in three types of beets this year, along with two kinds of chard.  On Sunday, I finished construction of the new strawberry bed, filled it and finished planting the strawberries at 7:30P.  Down to the wire.  Today I snuck in a few rows of beans - hoping that the weather will continue to hold steady.  I am sure I tempted fate and we will be struck down with a hard freeze.  Why, oh, why do I do it?  Will I ever learn?  Probably not.

I have one mushroom log done and one still in the planning stage - which means I won't be harvesting Blue Oysters until 2015 at this rate.  The old hoop house has been stripped of its raggedy coverings and I am almost done digging around the foundation.  Once that's been cleared, my farmer neighbor and three burly fellows will come over and wrench it out and move it.  That's the plan, anyway.  There is some excellent compost in the hoop house - and I want at it!

The germination in my cold frame has been disappointing.  A measly four inch row of spinach has come up - same with two types of lettuce.  Everything else did not germinate at all.  I'll start more this weekend but, at this rate, I better start looking elsewhere for salad makings.  I did enjoy a couple meals of fresh dandelion greens - by now, the neighbors don't even blink an eye when they see me rooting around in the fields.

Newbies discovering new territory.  (That's
Dizzy Mae's big white butt.)

I love this age.
The chicks are officially now teenagers and are spending their days outside of the brooder coop in the fenced run (with a tarp for shade and protection).  Dizzy Mae, the ex-patient, has made a full recovery and is very bossy.  Of my four straight-run Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, I think that one is a rooster.   Depending on his temperament, he is in the running to replace Kees, who will go to a Barnevelder breeder.  He is standing on the 4x4 in the bottom pic. 

I've managed to get some things checked off the big list - now to focus on the 248-page small list.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ewe's fat.

I had to find a new shearer - and fast.  I ended up with a young fellow I had used when I first had my sheep.  He had come with his young son - toddler-sized - and was really nice.  Then I was lured by the romance of blade-shearing and got hooked up with the eminent blade shearer in the US, who lives in Massachusetts.  This has worked beautifully for the past four years.  But, we've had a hitch.  The fact that I now have only two sheep, and they're Icelandics, and my shearer is not on 'my' side of Massachusetts has resulted in his reluctance to drive out to shear my two puny sheep.  He had kept putting it off and we were now looking at June.  Well, let me tell you, it is hot as aitch-double-hockey-sticks under their 10 pounds of double-fleeced Icelandic locks. 

So I dug up Joe's number and gave him a jingle this weekend.  And he called me back!  (That's another thing that puts a kink in my knickers - the not-calling-back thing.)  As luck would have it, he was heading in my direction yesterday morning, and would be happy to oblige.  That did send me scrambling to reschedule some conference calls, but that was done and the sheep were subsequently locked in the run-in shed Monday morning.

Joe showed up with his new sidekick - Jaime, an adorable Australian Shepherd (his son was in kindergarten, the cutie) and he got down to business.  I would have taken pictures of the process, but I was missing minions (ain't that always the case?) and had to make sure Linden didn't ram his way out while Juno got her haircut.  Another bonus of shearing is that I am guaranteed another pair of hands - so hooves were trimmed and vacs and wormer were administered.

Not one to hold a grudge, Juno managed to take Joe's hat off a few times, and was generally in the way.  He has a nice way about sheep and remarked that mine were unusually 'friendly'.  She was probably checking him out for graham crackers.

Whoa!  Open both doors of the barn!

Juno is harder to "capture" because of her color.
Just look at Mr. Chubbo on the left and think "black".

But, what a surprise!  Not all that was 'fluffy' was wool!  Hoooweee, there are some chublets in the paddock!  I felt slightly better when Joe told me of the Babydoll Southdowns he had done the day before.  Rolls and rolls of 'fluff'.  Apria reacted with shock - where were her sheep?!?  These odd-looking porkpies couldn't be 'her' sheep?   (I was going to add the "Before" pic, but realized it's on my phone.  Which is on my dining room table.  Which is at home, where I'm not.  I will add it later; promise.)

I'm still not convinced they are not aliens.
And don't even think about shearing me.
 Chickie was emboldened by the diminished stature of Juno and renewed his posturing on his side of the fence.  Who needs television with this show?

(And, yes, the goats came home on Saturday - I'm saving that much cuteness for another post.)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Surprise package.

When I got home from work on Wednesday evening, I found a small package in my mailbox.  No return address, no identifying marks.  There was just my name hand-printed and a hand-printed reference to the mailer's address - Bennington, VT.

Inside was my wallet.  Completely intact, with the exception of all my cash - even the coins.  I felt an equal measure of creeped-out and thankful that someone took the time and money to send it to me.  I am still creeped-out by the fact that someone took it.  After shredding all of the cards and IDs that I have already replaced, I was happy to have my library card back.

I have had various levels of thievery directed towards me in my long and colorful past.  Some were benign like this stealing of my wallet and the pilfering of moving boxes on a few occasions (always risky, as I moved myself and couldn't keep my eye on my boxes AND move them upstairs -- always upstairs) and some were not.  I have had my apartment burglarized on three separate occasions (twice in one place and once in another).  I have been held up at knife point - which really p***ed me off and I fought back.  Luckily, the guy was no professional and only succeeded in ripping my purse off it's strap.  And didn't inflict bodily harm on my stupid self.

I felt the same after each and every incident, no matter if it was benign or malevolent.  I felt violated.  So, no matter how much I did like my wallet, it's going to Goodwill.  Should I do some sort of cleansing thing before I send it off?  Will it retain some whiff of curse that will effect the new owner?  Am I over-thinking this?  (Really?  You think?)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We are so exhausted!

And other news from the four-footed and feathered denizens of the Little Lucky Farm.

I have no idea what goes on while I'm away at work, but it must be exhausting!  Scrappy and OnceSlim hit the sofa and didn't move for hours.  After dinner, of course.  (Scrappy did move, the bugger, just when I shot this - ergo, the weird eyes.)

Second lovely morning in a row - which means the deck door opens and the cat-proof (supposedly) screen door is in place.  Just the perfect spot for Cat TV.


What?  Is there food?  Are you going to get food?
Dizzy Gillespie - my 'patient' - was so lonely in the infirmary (aka, the laundry room), that I took pity on her and set up a safe zone so that she could be outside, not get too much sun, be safe from bad chicken behaviour, still see her 'peeps', try roosting, eat some bugs, have water and food - only took me an hour.

The little white blob is Dizzy.

Kees is checking out the new babe.
 And finally, I wanted to add a special tribute to my favorite cat of all time - the most wonderful cat in the world - who left us yesterday after 17 happy years with his person, Sylvie.  Fellini was not only incredibly handsome, he was poised, serene, very comfortable in his lovely skin.  He had a very good life and was much loved and admired.  And now will be so greatly missed.

(Picture taken by Sylvie.  He preferred the dog's bed.)