Monday, August 3, 2015

The Daily Grind

Its been a while since I posted. In fact, its been, what, three or four years since I posted with any regularity.

Life gets in the way. It seems like things should be less complicated these days. I am no longer working. Our kids are all launched; Mary headed off to university this spring, and, although she's home for the summer, she's working. So that part of our life is in the past. (I can't say, "Over." It hurts too much.) I am back to the original role I had in this marriage; that of housewife. I manage the house, and the yard, but, other than that, my time is my own.

So it seems that I should be living what my mom called the "life of Reilly"; lazing around in a spotless home, enjoying bon bons and shopping.

But, no. I have lots to keep me busy. I took on extra animals this year; we have probably 100 various chickens and turkeys, 4 sheep, 4 goats, a horse, and 6 pigs. Oh, and 2 dogs, and 3 cats. This summer we sent Henry off to live with his boy, but I picked up a Border collie puppy. Molly is 3 months old now, and, little does she know, will be my sheep-moving companion at some future point.

So the feeding and cleaning are endless. Then there's the mowing. We had a tremendously wet spring, which meant the lawn was not an issue until sometime in late May. Not that it didn't need cutting; it did, desperately. Bt it just couldn't happen. I even tried staining the deck; couldn't get 4 dry days in a row from mid-April until the end of July!

The house needs care, too. Beyond the daily cleaning, groceries, and laundry, we haven't done anything to this house in 18 years. So, this spring, we decided to redecorate the. Whole. Thing. We're starting with the basement, and my May and June have been spent packing up all of our stuff and taking it to a storage locker. We're doing ceilings to floors, and I just didn't want stuff in the way. Sadly, no work has yet begun, although we're supposed to be unloading that storage locker Labor Day weekend! With all the animal and yard stuff, the packing has not been finished. Packing is further complicated by decluttering; I'm getting rid of things we no longer need/want.

And we still have family to care for and about. My dad likes to get together for meals 3 times a week. You'd think that would be easy; you gotta eat, right? But logistics are never simple, are they? Grandchildren come to visit, kids come back in and out from time to time. Keri's nieces have been visiting her from California this summer; time was spent with them.

In short, this "retired from parenting and working" life is NOT retiring, in the sense of less work and responsibility. The "life of Reilly" is probably unattainable. But its keeping me young and fit and out of trouble. I guess the world should be glad for that last bit!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

So, at the risk of being like this guy...

I received two posts from Facebook friends today. The first said this;

If your church doesn't have an Ascension Day service, ask your pastor why. If your church has one and you don't attend, ask yourself why.

The second was much longer, and can be found here.

Two posts, both purporting to be Christian messages, both so full of hate and judgement that I worried on them for a couple of hours.

I can't do that anymore. It seems Facebook posts swing from one side of a pendulum to another. There's no socializing on the social network; its all what I call skunking; spray your stink on someone, then stand back and watch what you actions produce.

I appreciate my friends, but I am deactivating my Facebook account. Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Day in the Life

You know, when you think about living on a farm--even a small farmette, like ours--it seems so...bucolic? Romantic? Idyllic? Let me tell you about my day.

So, I wake up around 6:30, have a cup of coffee, feed the dog. Mind you, at this point, I'm already half an hour "late." How can I be late, you ask, if its my home, my day, my routine? Because critters don't let you have a home, a day, a routine. It starts with feeding the little goats. I have a rule; I do not eat breakfast until everyone else has theirs. But NOBODY gets their breakfast until I have my coffee! So I drink the elixir of life, check email and Facebook, and then head to the kitchen to mix goat formula.

The little darlings are bleating to beat the band when I open the door. Porter, who has figured out how to drink out of a tub, (he never did catch on to drinking out of a bottle, but that's neither here nor there) jumps at his milk so enthusiastically that he spills a third of it on the ground. Lego and Teddy tuck into their bottles, sucking them down in about 2 minutes. (We're talking a pint each, here. That's FAST!) I give them a bit of grain, and head to the barn.

Gimpy wants OUT, and right NOW! He lives in our barn at night, but has free run of the place most days. If we leave for the day, he has to stay in his stall, which does not make him happy, but it does keep him off of the highway. Once I let him out, he takes off after Skye, who is afraid of his horns. A sheepdog afraid of a goat. --hangs head in shame-- That's OK; Skye's been bringing me a Jolly ball to kick for the last little while, and its really starting to annoy. (Yes, a Jolly ball is a horse toy, and our dog plays with it. That's OK. I bought it for the pigs, originally.)

I get some hay out for Wakiya, who meets me at the gate with a whicker and a whinny. She'll be staying in our dry lot until mid-May, when the pasture is ready for her. She doesn't like it, but she's a horse, and (mostly) has no choice. I have started putting her on pasture in the evening, for an hour or so, to get her used to grass. If she starts too fast, I'm told it can cause problems. I've never seen those problems, and I don't want to.

I head back to the barn, measure a bit of grain for the sheep, and deliver it to them. The chickens have been watching all of this with interest, but they don't get fed until evening.

Son #2, whose drywalling job has nothing for him today, shows up to do farm work. I set him to cutting brush and trees from the shoreline of our pond. It's been ignored for at least 5 years, so it's a mess, and we want to reclaim it this year.

I have decided to work in the garden until noontime, when my extended family gets together at a local restaurant for lunch. But...the phone rings. Farm and Fleet calling, with an urgent message that my new chicks are in, and I NEED TO COME GET THEM IMMEDIATELY. Almost two hours later, I arrive home with the new kids. F&F and I have different meanings for the word "immediately; theirs involves having me, the customer, wait around for my order, after telling me to HURRY UP AND COME GET IT! I'll get over it, someday.

I fuss with extension cords, trying to provide electricity to one of our chicken huts, so I can put the little chicks under a heat lamp for the first two weeks of their little lives. I can't get power to it; not with different cords, not with different plugs. Our cords being ancient, I even head out to buy a new extension cord, heat lamp, and bulb. No joy. A call to John reminds me that there are such things as breakers, and I may have blown one. Yep, I did. And now we learn that the same breaker that governs the power to the chicken house also governs power to my chest freezer. I want that changed! I fuss with this for so long that I miss the extended family lunch date.

After lunch, (which I do get to eat, just in my kitchen, instead of someone else's) son heads back to the pond, and I transplant some herbs into the garden. I am creating a redneck-themed garden area this year; that's another blog post on another day. But the herbs are set and doing well.

I stop, after planting, for a cup of coffee. I have to decide between cleaning the barn or cleaning the house. Decisions...Decisions...The house won. There wasn't enough time left in the day, so I'll do the barn tomorrow.

The house is clean...ish. Dinner looms. After cooking a lovely steak, I head out to feed animals. Bleating goats...skittish sheep...Gimpy gets grain, and knows it, so, until I do that, he's underfoot. Fetch Wakiya from her pasture time, put her back in the dry lot. Feed the chickens, and collect eggs. Head inside to do dishes.

So, where did I lose you? Were you tired after morning feeding, or was it later in the day? I lost myself somewhere between electricity and herbs. But, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Where Did the Week Go?

Isn't it Sunday? I mean, my last post was on Saturday, and it can't be more than a day later, right?


Seriously, the week had just flown by. There was cleaning done, and more cleaning. Goats were fed, and fed again. They had their "boy" operation, which meant a visit from our favorite vet. They've been having some...digestive issues, which is only to be expected, given their age, stress level, and the fact that they've increased their eating dramatically. But they'll get through.

The garden got rototilled this week. I've been letting the chickens out into it, so they can dig up any grubs and weeds. I'll think about planting next weekend. I have seed potatoes already, and I'll pick up some lettuces, spinach and carrot seeds, and herbs.

John stayed home today, and we spent the day preparing our pig pen for this year's residents. We expect 8. It'll be the most we've ever raised, and I'm a little nervous about it. I can hear those who raise dozens laughing at me...

I'm considering a momentous decision, which I'll talk about when its been made. Don't you just love vague statements like that?

I am so tired I can barely stay upright at my desk. Grandchildren are coming for a visit this weekend, and youngest son is moving into the house he and his fiancee will share come October, when they get married. Wow. I'd better get some rest.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Night To Remember

No, not that one.

After writing an admittedly dull and commonplace entry last week, I was casting around for something a bit more interesting. How about a discussion of the little goats in the garage (yes, the garage) and their feeding habits? How about a forward look at plans for the vegetable garden?

Then Mother Nature threw a subject in front of me. Literally threw it.

Thursday, April 9 started out reasonably normally for northern Illinois. It was muggy. I told some friends on Facebook that, as I cleaned out a flowerbed, it felt like gardening on the seashore. I could even smell the ocean. It was in the mid-60s, having been only in the 40s the day before. Weird weather. A storm was predicted for the end of the day; it was shaping up to be a big one.
That evening, as John and I sat over the last bit of dinner, our phone alarms went off. That happens from time to time; usually warnings about heavy rain or snowfall, maybe a tornado watch. This was a warning, and it said, "Seek shelter now." Maybe you've seen this, which helps tell the difference.
In any case, that warning was unusual. So, being good, obedient folk, we...went out onto our deck. We wanted to see what was going on. It was dusk, and very dark from the storm rolling in, so it was difficult to see. But I suspected, from the amount of lightning, and the shape of the clouds, and the sound of continually rolling thunder, that the tornado which had been on the ground some 50 miles south of us was making its way thorough. John thought I was being silly; he thought it was just a really bad thunderstorm. Nevertheless, we spent some time in that basement that night. Power was out for about an hour, and water seeped into our basement. Our son and his wife, who have no basement, showed up at our door. We even let Mary's dog up onto the sofa; I had found her cowering in the far back of our basement, and wanted her to feel safe.
The storm passed, and we went to bed. High winds continued through the night, and it got pretty cold.
As is typical after a terrible storm, morning came clear, and fair.
In the morning, after chores, I walked around the yard a bit, looking for any damage. I found some. We lost a dead tree, and the tops of two others. A piece of the roof of our horse shed has disappeared, along with a large piece of the roof of the kids' old treehouse. I would share photos, but the cable from my camera has gone missing, and photos are trapped in my camera!
I headed into the house, and grabbed a cup of coffee. Looking out the back window, I saw a piece of debris I'd missed. Thinking it was just a piece of board, I headed out anyway, to pick it up. I found a memory.
This painting had a name on the back, and the note "1st period." I could tell it was a school project, and figured it blew in from somewhere. I was afraid it had blown in from someone's destroyed house. John, ever calm, said it was probably just garbage day somewhere, and it had blown out of the trash. I posted the picture on Facebook and my sister found a man with that name living in Rochelle, a small town about 35 miles from us, as the crow (or tornado) flies. (Although it would seem this tornado did not fly like a crow, moving back and forth in its path. But, I digress.)
Rochelle and a neighboring town, Fairdale, received the brunt of the storm. Two ladies were killed in Fairdale, which, essentially, doesn't exist anymore. Rochelle was also hit hard, although full reports on damage are not yet complete for either town. Its been a sobering end to the week.
I looked him up and found his place of business. I called and left a message. Minutes later, he texted me. With some deletions for privacy, this is how our conversation went.
I've been told I should contact news outlets about this, my little brush with fame. Its just as much fun to look at this little painting sitting in my dining room, and think about the trip it had. At least 35 miles, not including rotation, before it fell here. It has a bit of damage, and was waterlogged, but its in essentially one piece. I do think it would be fun to meet up with Matt for a coffee, give it back, and talk about the storm. I may find myself down that way, helping with cleanup, too. We shall see.
I do know that I'll be more respectful in the future of those warning notices on my phone. I'll head to the basement sooner, watch more carefully, and keep emergency supplies stocked downstairs. (We already did that, in case you wonder.)
I should ask him, too, if he's missing a special edition copy of Star Wars. It showed up about a mile north of us, in the yard of a friend of Mary's.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Just Another Day

It was a productive day, here on the farm. I managed an early coffee, got some laundry started, and fed the goats. Yes, I'm raising three buck kids. They will be the guests of honor at some feasts this summer, so I'm trying not to get too attached. Fortunately, they can be boogers, and make it easy to stay distant. Yes, that sounds cold. No apologies.

After feeding, I flipped the laundry and headed into the western treeline. We have ignored and neglected parts of our property over the years; this was one of the worst. Two trees even fell during storms maybe two summers ago, and we finally got around to cutting them up last month. There were still broken branches, twigs, bark, weeds, undergrowth, to be managed. We did some of that this weekend, and I finished the job today. 10 hours later, a lovely fire is still at the red-hot coal stage, and the treeline looks fabulous.

After showering off the burrs and woodsmoke (my favorite men's cologne, but not my favorite womens'!) I flipped the laundry, had some lunch and headed to that bastion of farmland; Farm and Fleet. I was looking for a windbreaker, and some kid replacer. "Kid replacer" is not what we use when we're tired of the ones we have; it is baby formula for goats. In our preparation for Easter Sunday, I had managed to ignore the replacer supply, and we ran out last night. We put together a suitable replacement (a replacement for of the bit that was left, some cows' milk, and some goats' milk that we found at WalMart. Why not just use that, you say? They're eating 9 pints a day, and that stuff we bought last night was $4/quart. For the math challenged, that would be $18 PER DAY. Its important to get good nutrition into these little guys; but that's just too rich for my blood!

I took a nap, fed the goats, paid some bills, flipped the, well, you know. I talked to some folks about meat animals, including the family I'll be buying some lambs from next month. We'll have a cute little flock of lambs and goats for the summer. Then it was time to get dinner started. We had a sirloin from the steer we grew last year; yum! Dishes. John headed out to work the fire in the treeline. Now we're in and settling down for the night.

As I said, a productive day. Nothing that will make the nightly news, but I hope I did what was expected of me today. Night, all!

(Please leave comments below, and not on Facebook. I really appreciate each one.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Busy, busy week and weekend, so no blogging has happened for a long, long time.

We've loaded pigs and taken them to the butcher. We then picked up their little white packages, and they are now "enjoying" freezer camp. There will a post about this in the not-so-distant-future.

We have a new grandchild! John Morgan Peterman V was born on November 7, and he's a cutie! I'll be headed to Michigan to visit him/them for about a week. There will be a post about this in the not-so-distant-future.

A good time was had with friends. Sadly, no pictures, so, no post. Just know there was wine and food involved.

A coyote grabbed up one of our chickens this morning. I heard the cackling, and he was gone before any of us could grab the gun. Mary and John headed out to the woods to look for him, but, no joy. It was a young hen, too.

Leaves have been raked and burned continually. I am hoping to finish that project today.

So I'd best get moving.