Monday, October 31, 2016

End of the road

My working career is over. Done. I just finished my last day.

Sure, there are a few loose ends to tie up, and a computer to organize and empty, but no one is expecting me to show up anywhere at a particular time for any purpose. It's been 26 years since I could say that. More than 26 years.

It's the end of one road, and the beginning of another.


And Friday, as I was leaving the office for the tav and farewell drinks, I saw a squirrel waving his tail furiously at me from a big pine. A fine farewell.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October = rain

The keets are 19 days old today, and getting tall and feathery. You can see their baby down peeking out between real feathers, as if they had tamarack needles underneath broad maple leaves.

They are not especially friendly, squeeping and fleeing from any giant hand that arrives with food. But it doesn't take long for them to come back for the goodies. They'll eat corn meal out of my hand if I hold still. At left in the top photo you can see Teeny, the littlest brown one. She swallowed a long, long thread from cloth I put in the bottom of their box, and spent a couple of days all humped up and miserable. By the time she recovered, everybody was bigger.

We started them on a cloth surface (learned better!) then moved to the recommended paper towels (which they ate with gusto) and now we're trying sand. They ate a lot of sand (with gusto), too, but it should be healthy for them, going to their crops to help grind their food.

They're not much trouble now. I hope they stay smallish and quiet until we can move them into the chicken house.

We've got a seventh dog for a while – Walter the pug dog is staying while his family welcomes our great-granddaughter home. Our DIL had a C-section, and can't have a fuzzy little jackass jumping on her for a couple of weeks. He's been a good boy. He says the food is good, and the company passable.

I've officially left my employer, though there is a little more work and some packing to do. The separation was celebrated with pizza and apple whiskey. Early retirement, here we come!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Power outage

For some reason, the delicate flower that is Inland Power, our electric service, lost it for about six hours Thursday night.

We have kerosene lamps and candles, so it's not a big deal unless the outage lasts so long the freezers start to thaw. Or we need to shower or use a bunch of water (the well pump is electric). But this time we had the five little guinea keets in the kitchen, and guinea keets need it hot. They live under a 100-watt bulb in a cardboard box with slabs of granite to hold heat. No power, no 100-watt bulb keeping them at 85 degrees.

We could wear them inside our clothes, but Annie the dachshund would be right after them. So we got a dachshund-repelling cage, and parked it next to the wood stove on the wood box. A new cardboard box went inside that, with the wire lid that keeps keets inside. Add a thermometer, and we were in business. So we cranked the fire up and slept in the hot room until the power came back on at 1 a.m.

Everybody survived. I worried that I'd find five cooked little birds, but no. And as soon as they were back home under the hot bulb, they were squeak-toy yelling for food.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

From fluff to feathers

Aw... they grow up so fast, don't they? The keets are growing wing feathers. It's pretty amazing. Yesterday they had little tubes there – today, it's actual feathers.

The pied one on the right is the scratcher. She climbs right in the food dish and digs furiously, sending everything flying. They're having chopped cabbage, from the kraut works, garnished with chicken crumbles. Mmm.

C. is working at the sauerkraut again.

That's one cabbage in there. I think she's up to three now, and the 10 gallon crock is full. I think she pounds it down next, and makes room for a couple more. Salt gets sprinkled in every so often.

I found this little guy on my shoe in the hall the other day. He seemed pretty happy sitting in his clump of Earl hair. I took him out to the greenhouse. Probably pissed him off – that's a long way to hop back in.

I'm back working from work tomorrow. It's already feeling weird, with two weeks to go. 

The dreary grey weather continues. Fall.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fall Saturday

Suddenly it's the monsoon season here – rain 'til snow –  and boy do I miss Indian summer. It gets rainy and dreary in late fall. It's enough to make me long for snow to brighten up the landscape. The forecast is a heavy-rain-flood-warning for tonight, and I'm worried about the dry well overflowing and all the ceilings leaking. That happened three years ago. Water everywhere. We were pushing water out the back door with snow shovels.

So I'm a little worried, but haven't done a thing about it. I feel like it's going to be OK. Magical thinking? Laziness? Stupidity? Probably. I should go look on the weather site for rainfall stats during that bad episode, and find out exactly how much rain is too much for our drains. Hmm.
Then I could base my magical thinking on scientific fact.

The kitchen keets are thriving. I cleaned their box today, and made them a dozen or so meals. They like grass, stolen from the rabbits' bowl of greens, finely chopped. They had oatmeal, stolen from the dogs' breakfast. And several servings of chicken crumbles in warm water. And some breadcrumbs. And cornmeal.

Earl and I boobled to the barn and served up a couple of bales of hay. There was no spitting. Tricks the sheep and the little goat brother were out, and Earl was no help getting them back in.

Made bread and rolls (thank you, bread machine). Made an apple crisp with blueberries. Better without the blueberries.

C. hauled in eight enormous cabbages for sauerkraut. It took both of us to carry a bin of four of them.  She's working on an amazing baby blanket for our impending grand-/great-grandchild. (Our generations are a bit muddled. We consider our grandson a son, since we raised him. But his brother is a grandson. Are you confused yet?) C. bought the fabric in Montreal at a cool little store in the Textile District. (If you have to live in a city, by all means choose one with a textile district. And a metro system. Montreal is an amazing and wonderful place.)

Piled more wood on the porch before the big rain. Put a tarp on the main wood pile. Replaced the busted pane in one chicken-house window. (C. had kindly removed the old putty and glass.)

I've taken a huge step and applied for leave and disability since my MS has worsened. Working has become a huge struggle, and I hope I can stop, slow or even reverse some disease progression without the stress of deadlines and clients and an ever-increasing workload. It'll be weird to leave after nearly 26 years, though. I'll have to haul serious ass to finish all my jobs in my remaining time. Then pack up my cluttered office. And try to get by on much less money. No stress there!

C. has taken the pink 1959 Fridgidaire stove apart ("Grody!" she cried, and got out the scouring powder) all over the kitchen and is scrubbing various bits.

We managed to get some mushroom drool in the printer when C. brought home some Slippery Jacks  and left them next to the computer for identification. I mopped it out as best I could. Hope our mushroom-hunting hobby hasn't killed our only working printer.

Off to feed the rabbits. It's a full life, even in slo-mo.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Kitchen keets

C. found six newly hatched guinea keets lying dead in the frozen chicken yard the other day. It's October, just the best time for new babies, right? Gah. So she gathered them up in her apron and bright them in and we labored over them, blowing on their limp downy bodies and rubbing their ridiculous orange feet. They just lay there. She got out the heating pad and made a keet sandwich, with soft wooly things on top and the heating pad set to high. In an hour they were bouncing around like jumping beans, and we herded them into a cardboard box with a heat lamp on top. (At one point they escaped, which is why there are five. Annie the dachshund found one, and though she dropped it when I caught her, it was too late.)

Now the five are installed on a kitchen cabinet, where they make anxious LOUD cricket sounds when they are unhappy, and a soft chirruping when their bowls and their bellies are full. Yep – rabbits the bathroom and keets in the kitchen. That's how we roll here.

The pied ones are proof that Johnny & Edgar, our white guinea, is their daddy – which means their momma is his dim girlfriend. She hatched a batch of 24 babies last year, and not a one survived. The poor little guys are fragile and delicious, and guinea moms drag them around through rain and mud and woods full of cats and owls. It's amazing that any live to wear the polka-dot suit and party hat of the adult bird.

We figure she must have brought them up to show the other birds – guinea moms are incredibly proud – then wandered off, leaving them to freeze. Did I say she was dim?

They're really cute and fun to watch as they booble around the box, pecking at stuff and stealing food from each other. The pied ones will probably turn out to be royal purples.

In six weeks, when they are large and smelly, they can move into the chicken house. I hope. In the meantime we mash boiled eggs for them, and chop hardy garden greens, and soak chicken crumbles in fresh milk. And check their bottoms for "pasty butt." A mother's work is never done,

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book sale, harvest and more

Last book sale of the season. We went, we unloaded our old stuff, we selected new. Five bags full. It was good. Tiring, but good.

C. has been shelling the beans we'd hung up in the old entry to dry. She's got a two-gallon can of Coco Noir, a gallon jar of Silver Cloud Cannellini, and a half gallon of True Red Cranberry.

Those red ones are really pretty. They're a pole bean that Indians in Maine grew before white settlers arrived. We'll need to dedicate more of the garden to growing beans next year.

Em brought Liam up for a visit, and then our honorary son Mikey appeared with friends and a trailer load of wood. Pretty good day so far.