Monday, September 30, 2013

high alert

Last night I pulled in the driveway after church and saw a pile of feathers outside the small hen house. NOT a good sign. And the more I looked, the worse it got. Most of the carnage was outside the dog's fence line, but there was one bird inside the fence line, which made me yell at him. Of course, he brought the dead chicken to me. I could only see the bantam rooster and three hens inside the large hen house, so I thought we'd had lost 2/3 of the flock. Once I realized the fence was still working, I knew there was no way Buster could have killed them.

This morning, the main rooster and two white hens showed up, so we only lost 1/2 of the birds. The big rooster is hurt, but I think he'll heal.

What we didn't realize until this morning is that Buster is hurt.

After a visit the vet, I got to spend the afternoon taking apart his pen and closing off the back porch, as he is now in quarantine there for the next 9 days. We return to the vet Saturday to see how his bite wounds are healing. Evidently he jumped on top of/or cornered one of the animals (the vet seems to think it was a pack of dogs), as all his injuries are underneath him.

He's still scared, a little skittish of people, and for Buster, is calm. We'll see how things go in the morning when I have to wash his wounds.

This was not how I planned to spend my day, but I'm thankful Bobby is retired now and was able to drive us to the vet (I don't think Buster could have climbed up in my car) and did a morning inspection of the carnage so I knew whether or not my night-time assessment was correct. Thankfully there wasn't too many surprises in store for us.

I guess the rest of this week I'll be working on re-inforcing the hen house. On days like this, I'm don't think animals are worth the trouble and heartache.

OH...and after four days of no phone service and internet (thank you DOT mowers for cutting the weeds/trees on the side of the road, but must you always mow down the phone boxes on our road?), we finally had service returned a little before 7pm tonight. That was a very positive note to end on.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

tick, tick, tick

One week from tomorrow.
Five blocks, a border, and the binding.
Eight days.
Five days, if I take into consideration a friend is coming over to teach me how to do binding the right way next Tuesday.
I've watched the youtube videos. I've had a friend show me how before. But my binding corners still come out crooked.
And I'm starting to get very, very nervous.
I know I'm not an expert quilter. I know every spot of my quilt that will cause a quilter's eyebrows to gather or spike. And I'm okay with that. I am still a beginner, after all.
I just want this quilt to be done, satisfactory (is satisfactorily a word? It doesn't sound right.), and safely delivered the day after elections are over.
Then I can breathe. I can rest, knowing that this challenge from a friend and to myself are over.
I will tell this voice in the back of my head to SHUT UP!
I am not even going to think about a quilt for next year's fair, even if I did go and photograph my okra plants last week with a crazy idea for a state fair quilt.
Now I just have to decide whether or not to post a picture of the quilt before it is finished, or wait until it's actually hanging up at the fair. (Provided they deem it show-worthy!)
Even more to the moment, I need to decide whether to quilt a full moon or crescent moon on one of the last five blocks. I think I've already figured out the sun.
I can see the finish line!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

heat frenzied thoughts

There's nothing like feeling hot while cutting grass, especially while weed-eating or using a push mower. All kinds of crazy thoughts run through your mind, like downsizing to a house with a tiny yard, a town home that only has enough room in the yard for a tiny "city" garden (what my Mom in law calls container gardening) and a patio, or an apartment complex that's super nice and has its own laundromat and swimming pool, both indoor and outdoors. 

Don't get me wrong. I love our fruit and nut trees, our garden, our chickens and pond (and sometimes I even love my crazy dog). But when I'm hot and tired and the work seems endless, it can be more than a bit overwhelming. And during these times, thoughts of adding another animal or produce/fruit bearing thing is paramount with insanity.

And as each year passes, I'm slowly starting to comprehend with a small ounce of compassion the old people who mourn on television that they've lost everything they've ever worked for. When you sweat and bleed, fuss and fume over your house and yard for twenty plus years, the phrase "I've invested my whole life in it" makes a little more sense.  I still think it's wrong to have your heart so heavily invested in material objects that you're in the depth of despair should you lose them, but it would seem like a lot of work done for nothing should we suddenly move or lose the property.

And with that said, I'm headed back outside to cut grass.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

gross


Last night I closed up the hen houses as it was getting dark, grabbed the eggs, and immediately felt something squishy. I looked to make sure there wasn't a frog or something in the nesting box. Nope. It was an egg...without a shell. If you can see the egg on the right (with the dirt), that's the egg that has a shell-less membrane. So I've been online trying to figure out a) why and b) what to do about it.
We've had this happen once before, and the problem seemed to take care of itself. I'm hoping that will be the case this time, but if we get another one in the next few days I'll have to start adjusting their feed.  On the upside, our egg count was up today, which was very good indeed.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

grapes

Step One: Wash the grapes and pull off any remaining stems.

Step Two: 5 cups of grapes to 1.5 cups of water. Simmer.

Step Three: Smush their guts out and strain into a jar.

 Which leaves you with juice.

Step Four: Dump the guts.

Step Five: Make jelly.

Monday, September 9, 2013

up and running

This was supposed to be my slow and quiet week where I happily worked on a quilt to submit to the State Fair. Have you ever noticed how "supposed to be" almost never happens? And I'm actually okay with that. I can type that now at 10:39am on a Monday morning. By 9pm Saturday night of this same week I might not be so optimistic.

So if I don't find thirty minutes in my schedule this week to download/upload photos and write, here's what I WOULD write about (just in case I don't make it back to my "calm" spot).

Monday - grapes & the jelly making process
Tuesday - pawpaw trees and my dumb dog
Wednesday - yardwork
Thursday - Syria
Friday - I'm officially an old fogey - my disgust with feminism's new definition of rape

Meanwhile I'm trying to get some housework done before heading into Raleigh for an afternoon of elections training. I'm not ready for it be this time of year again, but it's here, with October's municipal elections around the corner. Could 2013 slow down just a little bit please?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

laboring

I married into a farming family. My father-in-law was a firm believer that if you were going to plant something in your yard, it better be practical (i.e. food producing). When we got married, he gifted our yard with six pecan trees. When we planted apples trees and pear trees (though one turned out to be ornamental), he nodded his approval. After we planted an oak, maple, and sycamore, he scowled and asked me if I was trying to be in Better Homes & Garden magazine. When I laughed and told him no, I just wanted a few shade trees without fruit or nuts under them, he smiled and said "That's good, then."

A few years ago we planted different flowering trees and shrubs along one of our property lines. My husband laughingly asked me how many of them were going to be edible. After they were planted, my brother-in-law asked the same thing. At my laughing answer of "none", he smiled and shook his head and said "Daddy wouldn't approve."  Several of those plants didn't survive. This weekend we replaced five of the eight that needed replacing: two flowering bushes, two blueberry bushes, and one fig tree. I guess we should have planted food-producing stuff all along.

We still have an apple tree to replace this fall.  I joked about getting one while we were at the farmer's market getting everything else, but the tree was quite tall and realistically wouldn't fit in Bobby's van. Maybe one day this week I can borrow a pickup and go back and get it. And the idea of getting two pawpaw trees is still floating around in the back of my head.

Having all this planted means more to cut around, but I think in a few years we're going to be very happy with the result. I've mulched the plants twice in the last year and a half, but putting mulch out is the same as telling the chickens "Here's a treat! Come and scratch through it and make a mess!" because that's what they do every single time. I would love to have a stone wall about hip high that runs about 2-3 ft behind all the plants, but that's not in our budget. If it weren't for the cement and digging a trench and leveling it with sand before starting the wall, I think that would be a project I'd tackle myself. But something about the thought of working with cement stops me short (which is probably a good thing).

So here's to hoping that in another year I can post a picture of nice-looking trees and shrubs!

Monday, September 2, 2013

20/?

Eight years ago I signed my life away and had two five minute surgeries that radically changed my life. Even though I could see almost perfectly the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, it still took a year to overcome the 24 year habit of reaching for my glasses first thing in the morning. The doctors told me before and after the procedure that at some point in my forties I would need reading glasses, and if I wanted to, they could then re-do the procedure on one eye so I could use that eye as reading glasses. That thought did not appeal to me then, and still doesn't now.

What did shock me was a few months ago when the words in a book were blurry that weren't blurry the day before. Yes, I was tired. I blinked. I washed my face. I used my eyedrops. Still a bit fuzzy. I started to put the book away and realized that the further away I held the book, the better I could see it (which is the total opposite of how I started out needing glasses). When my eye doctor told me I would need reading glasses in my forties, I was thinking MID-forties, not 40.5.  That's just too early!  But after several months of holding books far away, making my arms tired, and leaning back from the computer while I type, I finally broke down and bought some reading glasses at Target last week.

I had always laughed at the half-size glasses people wore, or the fact that they wore them way down on their nose.

But now I totally get it. I refused to buy such silly looking things like those above. I got normal glasses that aren't thick and black like my grandpa wore. And after a week of having them, I wish I had gone for the ridiculous looking ones above. If Bobby comes in to ask me something or I need to look at something on the news, the moment I look away from the book everything looks blurry. Not good. I even took them to church Wed night to see how that went. I could read my Bible much better, but I got so tired of putting them on and taking them off that I didn't even bother with them today.  This week I have my regular check-up with the eye doctor, and I'm curious what he'll say if I don't even mention reading glasses to him.

I'm beginning to appreciate the statement that shocked and horrified us a few years ago when a doctor said it to my husband : "Yes, getting old sucks."
(And I'm thankful my mother doesn't read my blog because she would be most mortified that I repeated/typed that.)