Sunday, June 26, 2016


Em and Liam came up today. He and Kewpie spent some quality time on the couch.

And Liam and his mama conversed outside, while we tried and failed to catch and shear Savvy the sheep. He was too kind to laugh at us.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Last June Weekend

Beautiful day – not too hot, either.

We picked the first of the peas! I love peas. C. planted three long rows, three different kinds. Or maybe four. I picked on one side, C. on the other, and Earl stood at the ready to catch and eat any we might throw. He eats the shells, too, but especially likes it if you give him a few shelled ones first. Mmm. Tastes like spring.

I made brownies, but they're a bit gooey in the middle which C. finds disgusting. (evil laugh)

I enjoy moving furniture but hate to clean. So when we made a deal that involved tidying up (I'd clean the kitchen if C. would put my studio windows in), I figured the easiest way to clean the kitchen is to add storage. Hmmm. Might have to move some furniture around.

The kitchen is too small, badly laid out, and overfilled with pots and pans and Tupperware and gallon jars of dried oregano and mysterious things that should be somewhere else. Like feathers. Yes, C. collects guinea feathers, and uses the baking area to sort the damn polka-dotted things. Hundreds of them. They're spilling out of containers piled high in Dr. Seussian stacks. SO I've dragged some recycled kitchen cabinets from the gym into the old entry, which lies just outside the kitchen, and installed them, drawers and shelves and such. Excess kitchen stuff can go there. I'll leave a shelf for Tupperware to spawn lids that don't fit anything. And I'll set up a long counter with storage for guinea feathers.

The damn real estate guy told us there was a feather-sorting station here, or we wouldn't have bought the place.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wiped out

Monday was a vacation day, Tuesday I worked from home (laboring unsuccessfully to get my work network to work) and today I went in to the office and sat there for eight hours doing all kinds of stuff. I met, I imposed, I designed, I schmoozed. I am now toasty. Much harder than farm work.

The kids brought Liam up, and I got his nose many, many times and held him while he slept. What an excellent baby (11 pounds!).

C. picked great baskets of greens. I fished spinach by the handful out of the overflowing sink, put it in a big net bag, and took it outside and swung it round and round under the stars. Only hit myself in the head once. I am a human salad spinner! I managed to stuff the whole bag into the crisper drawer in the fridge. She's washing the Maruba Santoh now. Some of it will go into the driers for winter, some into a salad, some spinach into smoothies for me. That woman can put food by.

Didn't clean the rabbit room – too tired. Refreshed their water and gave them a great basket of green stuff.

Sleep now.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Cloudy weekend, excellent for working in the garden. I've been sleeping in, then puttering.

I'm plotting getting my studio workable. I need to fix the busted window, and fill in one more area of  the big expanse of glass. So Earl and I have gone around measuring our tens and tens of old salvaged windows. I've got a 40-inch-square hole, and everything but 40-inch-square windows. The floor needs some work, too.

I'm going to be working from home two days a week, so I'm revamping the computer area. I hauled out the old desk – really a kitchen table from the '30s – and brought in a small oak-veneer teacher's desk. I need to get the height right, or sitting here for eight hours will be miserable. Next week I start working in my pajamas! I'll save an hour's drive, too.

Pearly and I took a ramble down to the lower gate.

The damn goats were out twice today.

I just noticed the tiniest teen chicken looks a whole lot like Jasmine, the Maltese. How weird is that?

We should name her Diller, for Phyllis. Or maybe Parker, for the jazz bird. Huh. And check out this big galoot, below. 

What an interesting bunch of chickens. Their granddad was Polish, the sort of chicken with a feathery chrysanthemum on its head, so they come by the weird headgear naturally.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Three days off

Aren't I smug? Three-day weekends are awesome.

Dovey has been foiled. I found 14 blue eggs in the old chicken shack off the barn today, and stole them and put them in the fridge. She is going to be really pissed. But she's already had a batch of chicks this year. That's enough. 

Perhaps we should have named her Beloved Fidel. Look at that beard.

I've just come in from pilling the goats. They need supplemental minerals, especially copper. 

The copper comes in horse-sized gel caps (see the little ingots of copper!) and you can either trick the goat into eating the pill, or buy a gun that actually shoots the pill down his throat. I go with sneakiness over force every time. I tried earlier, using a clever scheme I read about on Farmer Google. You take a big marshmallow, poke a hole and push the huge capsule of tiny copper blobs inside. The goat is supposed to scarf the 'mallow and the pill right down. I tested this with a plain marshmallow. Utter fail. Apparently my goats need to spend more time online. They think marshmallows are inedible. Maybe if I melted them, and added chocolate and graham crackers…

C. suggested treacle and rolled oats, so I got all sticky dribbling molasses over the capsules, then rolled all of us in oats. It was like being tarred and feathered, but edible. Pretty good, really, in a hippie sort of way. Yes, they fell for it. It's damn satisfying to trick a goat. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Chicken nipples and other farm matters

Lovely cool, rainy weather lately. Spent the day dragging stuff out of the porch, hall and gym and putting some of it away. So it all looks like crap, but I'm sure (invisible) progress is being made.

We sheared Tricks the sheep. That's her nearly naked butt, below center. Bambam, at right, is surprised. Savvy is still sporting her trendy off-the-shoulder look, but we're planning to take care of that as soon as the weather dries out a bit.

The chickens have been released from the Lobster Pot. They bitched incessantly and withheld the egg, so after two weeks I caved and let them back into the barren chicken yard. So much for harnessing the plowing power of the chicken. What's the problem? Doesn't it look comfortable? It's 3x8 feet, and comes complete with all the mod cons: bucket nest box, roost and tiny roof. Look at all those delicious greens and seeds and bugs. Ungrateful brats. 

All the chickens on the Internet loved their chicken tractors.

Next I'm going to try chicken nipples. Just bought them on ebay. All the chickens on the Internet love their chicken nipples.

 Every morning the guinea mom team perambulates their nine remaining chicks up to the garden gate for their game-bird feed. These little guys work so hard.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


The little grey pullet died. As did the six guinea chicks we brought in from the garden. They had gotten left behind by their team of four mothers, and were chilled and stressed. I still thought they'd make it, though. We installed them in a big bin with non-slip towels on the floor and a lamp suspended overhead for heat. I adjusted the lamp until the heat was just right – no panting, no huddling for warmth. Fed them hard-boiled eggs and cottage cheese, just like the guinea website recommended. They were so cute, sleeping on their faces with their feet stretched out behind them. They were less cute in that same position, dead.

Farming is hard.

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's not the heat – it's the stupidity

We're hunkered inside. It's 96 out there. I don't do heat well – heat being 80 degrees. 96 is just gross. Good thing we have six boxes of new-to-us books. And ceiling fans. We're running low on fudgesicles, though.

There's a chicken in the bathroom, the little teenage grey hen. I managed to slam the chicken house door on her beak yesterday, and she keeled right over into some kind of chicken coma. Today, her eyes are open sometimes, and she'll swallow water from an eyedropper and make a tiny chirrup, but she can't hold her head up yet. Curse me for a giant, clumsy moron.

Oh, Annie got into my chocolate again Saturday, and spent the night quivering and fussing, her eyes huge. I gave her charcoal and held her and rubbed her growling stomach. She got less than last time, so I knew she'd be OK, but curse me again for being a careless idiot. And her for being a greedy fool.

So between the heat and my idiocy, it's been a crap weekend. This is my first long weekend of the summer (I take Mondays off until school starts in September) so I have today to accomplish something positive. Or just sit quietly and cause no harm.

I've been working on the mess that is our shop, in the gym, not that you can tell. We've got counters overflowing with tools and screws and parts and crap. The floor, likewise. So I've been adding pegboard and hanging stuff and organizing a little and it's still a disaster, but I remain hopeful. Idiot.

Em came out yesterday with baby Liam. He laid on the couch for a long time, kicking and waving his arms and babbling. We think probiotics have made his tummy feel better so he's happier.

I'm headed back into the gym to tidy. We need some kind of storage system for short pieces of wood. And round things. And shiny things. And heavy things.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Summer in Elk

I know it's summer because it's supposed to be 92 tomorrow. Ugh.

We're getting ready to go to the Deer Park Library book sale, a big event in our world. It's been 6 months since the last one, and the bookshelf badly needs refreshing. It's going to be 85 degrees today, and I've been up since 7:30 and trying to get C. moving since 9. First, she has to drink coffee. Then play her computer games. Then take a shower. Now she is in her underwear running the carpet scrubber, having caught Kewpie the peke sneaking a wee in the living room. Now she is pawing through the thousands of shoes in the footlocker in the hall, singing out, "Too many dicks on the dance floor!" Then we have to agree on the books going back, and she'll have a beer. By the time we get to the sale it'll be the hottest part of the day. After 33 years, I know this. It's OK.

We're off!