Saturday, August 31, 2013

Adventures in cat-sitting

Frosty the cat adores me. At least when her people are out of town. That's her, rolling in my lap during one of my brief evening visits to scoop her litter box, collect mail and water the garden while her people are vacationing. She's a drooler and a weirdo, and was named for her frostbitten (or otherwise mutilated) ears. And after I watered the plants with the little watering can, an indignant tree frog stuck his head out and gave me a look. And I met the famous toad, in the driveway. Got so excited I forgot to turn the water off and had to come back.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guineas on parade

Brought 10 half-grown guineas home weekend before last. They're very sweet, but not exactly attractive. And they eat like pigs. We're keeping them in the old guinea/rabbit pen for a while before integrating them into the flock.

Monday I took them for their first outing into the garden.

First, we had to find the garden.

They had a blast, skulking through the beds and pecking at mulch.

The youngest ones still have their baby stripes. And the older ones have touches of blue in their clown makeup. No bony hats yet – just bumps.

Then they had a big dinner and went to bed.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The last three-day weekend of the summer

It's going to be hard to go back to five-day work weeks. Sigh. Three days off was just right. One day to run around, buy stuff, go to estate sales, relax. One day to start early and be totally productive. Up at 7, animals all fed, a batch of snap beans in the pressure canner, finish fencing a new small pasture for Azul and the bratty sheep, pick beans and more beans, unpack a few boxes, work on the door onto the roof. And one day to score some great vintage picket fencing on Craig's List, rent a truck, drum up some laborers (thanks M and KC!) and haul and stack it near the garden. When I get time to put it up, it will be awesome.

And when I get the truck running, we'll have lots of straw to pile around the edges of the garden, covering up that crappy-looking cardboard. That will make a bigger garden easier next year. (Except for the rocks, of course.) We plan to double the size, and grow more spuds and kale and just about everything. Maybe not beans.

Above, Azul waiting to tell me he's hungry, and then stuffing himself in the new pasture. 

Below, here's the window I'm enlarging. (And yes, it's scary how easy it is to disassemble old brick walls.) It is set way high in the wall of the little office upstairs in the gym. We need way to reach the roof besides the crazy old ladder that's been propped against the gym for years. The roof is cool, and C. has never been up there. I want to go up in the evening and watch the stars, which are right overhead. And I'm not climbing that ladder in the dark. Bottom, August's full moon from the roof. It's not a great photo, but the view is lovely in person.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I'm a slave to beans

Canned 13 quarts of green beans last weekend. We're getting a big dishpan full of them every day now, so we'll be canning or freezing another batch tonight (and every other night). We figure we could use 200 quarts. Did more beet pickles last night, and some mixed-veggie pickles are in the brine right now. The tomatoes are starting to ripen, and we try to keep up with the squash (put a batch of stuffed zucchini in the freezer, pickled some, and sliced up and fried some with cashews for us, with scrambled eggs for the dogs). Below, C. and the Little Fellow pick pole beans (he was up to work on reroofing the garage). I usually do the bush beans.

Met this attractive bean-colored fellow while hunkered in the path picking – wait for it – beans. So I got the camera and sprawled in the straw path and watched him for a while. Look at those cool markings on his arms. This is why I moved to the country – this is how I spend my childhood. Sprawled in the garden watching our little brothers with their bones on the outside.

So back to the garage project. K. came up and we worked on emptying the attic of random ruined stuff and fallen shingles. Yes, hornets are an issue. Next we plan to square the building up using this method: hammerzone. Then, new rafters and metal roof. And Azul and the sheep and their hay can shelter there. Below, an old basketball hoop and a couple of the original steel-frame windows are tucked into the attic. We hope the windows can be salvaged so we can replace some of the vinyl uglies.

Below, the new chicks, two exchequer leghorns (sounds like Australian sailors) and a Rhode Island Red. They're staying out of the way while the male guinea patrols the area and Connie and Mrs. Davis lay eggs. The little guys are about 7 weeks old, and putter and scratch around the yard. The guineas mostly ignore them. We're planning to get more guineas (Connie is lonely without the other Connies). Maybe more chickens, too.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cool stuff in early August

Russian borscht beets made into pickles, below. Lovely, no?

And here's an odd splotchy guinea egg. They are usually solid cream or light-colored and speckled, but this one is all three. And brown.

Below, a lesson in wasp power. There's a paper wasp nest in that roll of garden edging. They're quite tolerant of us messing about near their nests, but I figured banging that t-post in so close might get me stung. So I put that plastic container over the nest and got to work pounding in the posts and trying to prop up the rampant pea vines. (Don't plant this variety of edible-pod peas unless you have some kind of sturdy trellis – not just a branch stuck in the ground – and you really like peas, because they won't stop producing. Even through a hot summer. Even when the vine looks like crap.)

So that's what it looked like, the nest covered so I could work on the peas. I was busy untangling the plants and draping them over the strings when there was a BIG buzzing noise and the plastic cup went flying. Amazing.

So I reenacted the covering to take some photos and to see if they could do it again. I'll check in the morning, and if the wasps haven't removed the cup, I'll do it. (Very carefully, in case they connect the deed with me. Maybe they'll think it was a solar eclipse instead of a meddling human.)

Below, a pair of weird white creatures. The camel and the vulture.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Familiar facade

That handsome building is strangely familiar...

And it's in much better shape. But my place has good bones, too. In fact, the very same bones. The Chattaroy school was built a few months earlier, by the same architect (G.A. Pehrson) and from the same plans, with some minor variations. Their gym is set down four feet, requiring a couple of extra sets of stairs. And the boys' and girls' bathrooms and locker rooms are reversed. Chattaroy is built on a flat site, facing due south. Elk is on a hill, facing southeast. Other than that, the schools were identical. Same dimensions, same materials.

Thirty years of private ownership, varying visions and amateur remodeling certainly make a difference.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


They're interesting, but I'm not eating any. Bleah.

Below, Earl with the funny-shaped head. A woman at the vet's complimented his classic border-collie head. We think she was just being nice.