Sunday, January 25, 2015

End of January

The snow is slowly melting. Winter is having one of those lulls that cause secret, foolish hopes of spring. I know better, but still… I blame the seed catalogs that keep appearing in the mailbox.

Em and R. were up to prep Nadine's classroom for delivery of his ancestral pool table. It's been disassembled and stored in his mom's basement for 30 years, since his dad's death. He's having it repaired and reassembled here, and we're imagining a '50s-style rumpus room around it: juke box, tiki bar, darts, pinball and more. We certainly have the room.

It's the dog version of an all-day sucker. Keeps Early busy for hours.

We four hit the Deer Park book sale yesterday, and came away with five boxes of new (to us) stuff. Then the kids stayed and cut and stacked stove wood, used their new snowblower on the plow berm and driveway, wet-vacuumed up some standing water in the old bunny room, tidied the hall and porch, and generally were awesome and helpful. We are lucky.

I'm kind of puckered and asthmatic and my back hurts and obtaining books is the only thing I've managed to accomplish all weekend. Meh. Oh, and I slapped primer on the tiny ends of the vintage swoopy turquoise shelf we're putting up over the pink stove. Big whup. Maybe the lengthening days will be cheering.

C. has gone to clean the bunny room. I think I'll have another cookie and watch some Poirot.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

No good deed goes unpunished

So the kids came up yesterday to help bury Azul, and spent three or four hours digging a giant hole then filling it in again. Em came up as well, and cut some stove wood during the big dig. Then everybody came inside to warm up and dry their boots and jackets. K's jeans and socks were dripping, so I lent him my awesome pink chenille jammie pants to wear while his pants dried in front of the fire. They might have been too pink, though, because he switched to shorts from his gym bag. We ate fresh homemade rolls (thank you, bread machine!) and chatted, and everybody got ready to leave about dusk.

I went out to wave, and they were hopelessly stuck in the driveway. Hopelessly. Snow was falling in a way most picturesque. Em had the big low American car. S. had a pert little Scion or something. Both rubbish in the snow. I was shocked – my bald-tired Subie has no trouble crunching down the driveway, zipping up the little hill and erupting through the berm onto the road. Once on the road, slick plowed ice is sometimes a problem and I have to go down the hill and back around to the paved road – but loose snow is no big whup. So, amazingly, they're stuck, and we get a bucket of sand and pieces of cardboard and bags of dry leaves and shovels and spend a couple of hours rocking and digging… Everybody is tired, K. is in shorts and I'm pretty feeble, but we keep at it. Em's Mercury is heavy enough to get going and onto the road once we got it out of the loose stuff and into the ruts. The Scion is just worthless. It's probably 8 p.m., and we finally get traction in the packed-down tracks, and it's going… going… fleadgh. Not going fast enough. Slides right off the drive near the barn. So I limp back to the house, get the Sube, and using tie-down straps, pull them back on to the driveway. They get a run at the hill, going, going…not fast enough. slide off the road again. We hook up the same tie-down straps and this time they bust. The guys go to the gym for heavy rope. K. works to untangle the rope. He loses patience. We all troop inside, they call for roadside assistance, we wait. It is well over an hour when the tow truck shows up.

I need some new tie-downs, and a tow strap would be good.

Planting Azul

RJ, S. and K.

The three grave diggers produced a fine, huge hole, probably 6x9 and nearly 6 feet deep. Pretty impressive here in the land of boulders. As fresh snow began to fall, C. tied a blue ribbon around his long neck, and we planted him in the pasture behind the barn. And as we started to fill in the grave, Em and I made Azul's herd hum, a kind of low, breathy two-note "yeah."

The goats and sheep stayed well away. They find our customs barbaric.

Ah, Zulie.

He was not beautiful when he arrived.

He liked a good spray with the hose on hot days.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Winter blues

It's winter and snowy and cold. I'm not posting much or doing much. Just waiting for spring.

Azul is dead. C. went out yesterday and found him lying dead in the barn. I guess sudden death isn't unusual for alpacas as they are stoics, not whiners. We knew nothing about his background or age. He seemed pretty happy with his little flock of short-necked buddies, but I know we could have done better by him. The only warning we had is that he let C. pet him the day before. Egotistical human that I am, I thought he was finally warming up to us. It must have been an alpaca cry for help.

Poor Azul. He was a good boy. I'll miss his galumph and hum, and his weird blue eyes.

Our little fellow (who is 25 now), his girlfriend and friend are up to help dig a giant hole. The ground isn't nearly as frozen as I expected. I picked a spot in the middle of three small trees out behind the barn, and started the grave.

I'm bummed.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Winding down

My vacation is down to just a weekend now. I'm a little verklempt. Monday morning is going to hurt. But I don't care – I have a couple more days to sleep in, putter about, bake. It's good. (Today, it's good. Ask me Monday and you'll hear whining.)

Got the kitchen roughed in. We gained a five-foot counter with six drawers and two cupboards, and a baker's rack to hold big old lard cans and gallon jars full of staples. Opened the space up, too. I was disappointed to find that none of my salvaged upper cabinets would work, so I guess I'll do a couple of sets of open shelves. Em and Richard gave us the new counter. It's a nice one, maple, I think. Half of my Craig's List cupboards are solid wood with panel doors, but in awkward sizes. The rest are 1970s wood-grain contact paper over particle board. Gah. I'll keep looking for some decent cabinets to replace the baker's rack. It's a work in progress, you know.

Earl doesn't like the new kitchen arrangement. He keeps catching sight of his reflection in the black fridge, and barking like crazy. Idiot.

So the kitchen will be better. Tomorrow I'll slither around in the crawl space and run water to the ice maker, then see what kind of open shelves I can throw together, and try to find everything a home and put the pantry back together (I dumped everything nonessential there while moving kitchen furniture). Or maybe I'll sit on my butt and read and eat chocolate-chip-and-oatmeal cookies. Who can say.

I can hear C. talking to Smokey in the bathroom. He's back there permanently since one or more of his offspring tried to rip his throat out. They all have little nicks and scabs from little squabbles – no big deal – but Smoke had a big gash on each side of his throat. We trimmed the fuzz away from his wounds and slathered on Neosporin. We have some farm antibiotics if the situation becomes desperate, but the rabbit gut is a delicately balanced thing and it's better to leave it be. I like Smokey. He's a good boy, quite housebroken and friendly, and I'm happy to have him back. C. brought Marty over to spend few days with Smokes, since he was being picked on, and while he's friendly and sweet, he's a terrible pig. Litterbox? What's that? I'd go in to pee, and feel like I was curling – broom in hand, sweeping furiously toward my goal. I'm old, and I'm in a hurry! So now Smokey is lone lord o' the loo, Marty is back home with the group and his brother Plumb Bob is in a cage until he can stop being a bully.

The big animals are fine. They have the run of the barn, snowy pasture and garden, and come over and greet me when I feed the chickens. Or maybe they're lobbying for treats. They have 16 bales of grass hay left, and that should last about four months – I think we'll make it to spring. I should start making fodder for them to stretch the hay supply. But I'll probably read and eat cookies.

OK. I have to go stay up late now. I'm on vacation!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I'm an idiot

But I'm OK with that.

I've got the kitchen deconstructed, the china cabinet moved out and a big stretch cleared for the fridge and some cabinets from Craig's List. There is stuff everywhere. So it must be time to bake cookies, right? Yup. Hey, I needed chocolate. I suppose it would have been smarter to buzz up to the One-Stop and buy some. Hadn't thought of that till now. Anyway, the house smells great, and I'm sitting here with a plate of cookies and a glass of fresh cow's milk.

C. is outside sawing wood up into stove lengths. Soon I'll suit up and trudge out there and haul it in.

Then I'll get her to help me push the giant black fridge over to the north wall. I haven't moved the water line for the ice maker yet, in case we decide the new spot is a bad idea. It looks good on the graph paper, but you can't be sure until you see it for real. For me, anyway. I like to move furniture, and figure out the most comfortable, efficient layout for a room. It makes C. nervous, though. She fears change. I keep telling her that change is how things get better. "Or worse," she replies darkly.

I spent the whole afternoon yesterday getting supplies in Deer Park. A gallon of milk from Rose, who keeps cows, six dozen eggs from Charlotte, whose chickens actually lay through the winter. A depth gauge for the chain saw, gas for the Subie ($25 for a full tank!), air for tires, groceries, cracked corn for the birds, yada, yada. The fridge is full again. Pay day is a wonderful thing.

I'm heading out to get the wood in before dark. It's 18 degrees out. Have to find my Sponge Bob toque.