Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This is just what I want to say. I wish I had said it. But he did, so please go and read it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Political Ramblings

I'd like to blog a little about politics; granted, not my strong suit. I notice that, when I do this, I get no comments or discussion, which leads me to believe my little bear brain doesn't say much worth commenting on or discussing, but I want to get these thoughts out of my head.

I have been taking a blog break of sorts. I spent a little time lesson planning. I spent a little time house cleaning. I spent a little time grumbling about the election results. I mean, when you have people who have this to say about their decision-making process: (actual Facebook post) "My favorite thing about President Obama is not his politics, or foreign policy, or domestic policy, it's the fact that he's cool. He plays with his dog and he doesn't take himself too seriously. Please don't start hate message about him in my comments. I will delete them," well, there is no more hope. (And didn't he run the first time on Hope and Change?) So I moped and whined for about 5 minutes.

Then I remembered, this is what the Founders expected. They knew that, as soon as people realized they could vote themselves public money, it was all over. And it is. So we soldier on, make the best of things, and spend our time on our job, which, according to this writer, is "...not to save the nation.... Our job, now is to save each other; to help spiritually strengthen each other for all that is yet to come." THIS is the time to which all of American history has been moving. Our exceptionalism and our uniqueness will be all the more exceptional and unique in our implementation of it as our country moves in another direction. Americans have always been best at supporting the underdog, the rebel, and in shoring up those who are falling. This time it looks like it will be us.

It is encouraging to see that one party still has control of the House, even though the other has control of the Senate. Those checks and balances are important. Statistically, second-term Presidents have very little effect on things. Now, I realize, things are different, this time around. We have a society which wants to be spoonfed, wants to be coddled, wants everything to be "fair," (whatever that means) doesn't want to have to think or work or be challenged in any way. Initially, they'll get it. All will be easy-peasy and hunky-dory. Then, slowly, things will get difficult. Money will be in short supply, then luxuries, then commodities. (That means "food," for those of you who were spoonfed in high school. Please pardon the unintentional pun.) People will not realize how much this decision will hurt them until, well, it hurts them. But, as I pointed out above, there is a bit of light for which we can be thankful. And there still exists bold Americans who remember their roots and hold to their principles, who will be willing to refresh tired minds in the years to come.

I can't help but believe that, although our style of government and foreign policies will change, underneath we will still be the tough cookies who were thrown out of every decent country in the world. They regretted having done so, and have made a point of coming on over here to remake us in their image. I wonder what they will do when there is no free alternative to move to when the going gets tough in their part of the world?

Since I was about 8, and my great-aunt gifted me with a deaccessioned school copy, copyright 1905, of The Tales of King Arthur and His Knights, I have been fascinated with the stories. As I grew older, and did some studying, I learned that King Arthur existed (or not, depending on the historian) in that shadow time between the Roman Empire and the British one. A time when Rome was falling, relying on bread and circuses to keep order, and barbarians were swarming into every corner of her once proud holdings. Arthur, if he existed, was one of those who held onto the law and order of Rome, and tried to keep it for his people. If he didn't exist, the tales are told in honor of those countless thousands who did the same for their children, telling stories into the night of civilization, about love and honor and duty to the country of which they were proud. If we can't have a leader who, like Arthur, is willing to stand against the tide of entitlement and handouts, then I hope to be one of the faceless ones who continue to tell our children and grandchildren and, God willing, great-grandchildren of the exceptional greatness that was once America.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why Do You Have a Wolf?

This is an awesome cartoon, and my kids should remember playing with the logic problem from time to time. I wish it would let me copy it into this, rather than using a link, but, oh, well!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mr Churchill Had a Way With Words

At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man walking into the little booth with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper. No amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.

Winston Churchll

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cow Music, Part 2

Another bovine music video for you! HT: Jeff Zimmer.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

Honestly, that title for my semi-regular farm posts is a little misleading. This is no more a farm than my kitchen is, unless you count the fruit flies growing in the yucky bucket. (That's the family term for the bowl of veggie trimmings that gets taken daily to the chickens) Right now, our little farmstead barely resembles a farm. We have a run-down little barn-thing, actually a one-an-a-half car garage, converted, that houses some animals, sometimes. We have a run-down little chicken coop that needs some major renovation. We have a saggy, baggy tented structure that holds our hay. We have a scruffy, scraggly lawn over most of our property that was mowed once this summer. We have a mostly neglected garden that needs a few days of work.

In other words, not the tidy little homestead I pictured when we moved here.

I'm hoping to change that in the spring. I need to hire a farm boy or two, and buy a tractor/mower. Then this place will be the purty, efficient place it needs to be.

Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

So, I've gotten this post-once-or-twice-a-month thing down, haven't I? Poor little blog. It's so neglected.

Next time there's a referendum, and someone says,"Those teachers don't need a raise. They get paid for the whole year, and they only work 9 months," I'd like you to think of this. I teach for 80 minutes per week; I monitor study hall (translation, babysit the darlings so they get their homework done and you don't have to deal with it) for another 80. I spend huge chunks of my "down" time organizing lessons, writing worksheets, writing tests, locating videos and other supporting materials, pre-screening those, grading papers, and putting out 2-3 fires per day. You know, someone has an academic disappointment and sobs through half of study hall. Someone else breaks up and sobs through half the school day, those kind of things. In short, that little bit of time I get in front of the classroom (and it flies by in the blink of an eye) is supported by easily 5 times that amount of time in prep time. Homeschooling was a walk in the park, compared to this. But there, I had only myself looking over my shoulder.

Add in all the usual house-wifery that needs doing on a daily basis, yours truly being somehow responsible for all of that, too, and I am left with precious little time to blog. But I think of you, and the blog, often, and it'll work itself out in time.

Until then, here's a happy little number for your Halloween celebration. After all, this is All Saints' Eve. Martin, get your hammer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Facebook

How many of you are NOT active on Facebook? I've been using the social network for...I don't know how long. A while. I have a love/hate relationship with the thing. It took me a bit to get used to e-mail. I still don't know how to write a good e-mail, since that involves second-guessing my reader. I prefer face-to-face communication, or, at least, a phone call. Of course, phones have gotten so small that, when I use one, I often end up with a knot in my back for days from propping the thing on my shoulder while I do the normal things a mom has to do.

But I know that progress is important, and e-mail is so cheap and easy that I've come to do most of my communication with friends through that medium. Until recently, with the advent of Facebook. I resisted for a while, until I realized that many of my friends were becoming more active there than in e-mail. So I opened an account.

Things happened along the way. Friends misread friends, fighting began, friends "unfriended" each other, citing "rudeness."

Now, however, a popular Facebook pass-along is a schmaltzy post about the sharing of political viewpoints. A friend of mine posted that she was going to be "blocking" her friends who chose to post political posts. She wanted her Facebook experience to be nicer, and more fun.

I didn't realize that a social network would be nicer, and more fun, when folks left their political opinions out of the mix. After all, don't we talk about politics daily? Are we having a miserable time?

But I figured I would do my best to help my friend to feel better. So I have decided that, for the month leading up to the election, I will post ONLY posts about unicorns and rainbows. Really. My Facebook is All Unicorns and Rainbows, All the Time.

Except on debate nights. Sorry.

So. Check it out. A nicer, more fun, Facebook. Right there on my page!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

-sigh- Long week.

The sickness is almost gone. What a wonky thing it was. It started out like allergies, and, for a week, that's what I thought it was. Mary kept telling me, "No, Mom, it's what I've had." I didn't believe her. Then, after a week of snifflies, it hit like, well, like a really bad cold. I slept much of last weekend, and coughed and snuffled through the last week. But you don't really want to hear about that.

This was a long week in other arenas, too. Mary's little truck was brake-less this week, and John had no time to fix them. So I drove the girls in every day, spending twice as much time at work as I needed to. Had I not been coughing and snuffling, I might have gotten a lot of teacher work done. Alas, I was.

Today was working and running and cooking. I fixed some pizza tonight. It was delicious, but the crust lacked something. I think it was because I tried to make a batch and a half of dough, to accommodate the amount of eaters here, but the proportions must have been off.

Outside farm work will have to wait. It was a cold, rainy day.

Not much of a farm report, but it's been, as I said, a long week.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

Sick. Sick. Sick. The yearly cold has hit.

Houseful of company. Relatives from hither and yon. More cooking and dishes than I really want to see.

Birthday cake for John.

"Damn Ramsey."

Dogs. Everywhere.

All the boys were home today. -sigh-

And I am exhausted. Good night.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Snow White, I'm Not. But I Have Seven Dwarves to Work in the Kitchen!

As one of my faithful stalkers, you know that one of the things I am doing this fall is teaching a Home Economics class. The kids have learned some handsewing, and have done a little learning about nutrients and food. It is getting closer and closer to the time when I actually have to teach them something about cooking.

Thing is, our school is in an old church school building, and, while we have a kitchen, it's the traditional church basement kitchen. The appliances are elderly, the facilities, while Health Department approved, have been let go for a bit, and the supplies are of the "I got new stuff so I'm donating some things (read: antiques) to the church kitchen" variety. Fun times.

This week I decided to have the kids tackle cleaning the kitchen. It hasn't been used for Home Ec since last fall, and then it was used by a bachelor teacher as his personal kitchen. When I started cleaning one of the sinks, I found remains of a salad he probably made in May. Eew. We also found evidence of rodent residents, but, undeterred, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

Today, after three class periods, (one of those was actually a double period) we can say that we've made some headway. I'd like to start cooking next week, but, sadly, we'll need another day of cleaning time, I think. But that's OK. Cleaning is a Home Ec lesson, too.

And some of the kids need that lesson. Today one of the girls sprayed degreaser on the old stove, and dug in to scrub. "Wait," I said. "What do you mean?" she said. "I mean, WAIT," I said. "Let the stuff work, and you won't have to scrub so hard." Sure enough, 10 minutes later, we wiped the stove pretty clean. That impressed her just a bit too much. When I asked her and Mary to put the grates from the burners in some tubs, pour in some water and degreaser, and let them soak a while, she got creative. I imagine her thought process was something like, "If degreaser works that well alone, I bet it'll work even better with bleach." Soon we had some hydrogen chloride cooking away very obnoxiously in our kitchen. One of the girls noticed first, saying, "It stinks,that stuff." Then I heard Mary say, "I told you not to do that." "Do what?" I asked. Minutes later, EPA be damned, those tubs were being emptied down the drain, the fans came on, and water was flushing everything that could be flushed. "Now, what have we learned today?" I asked. She said, "I didn't know you couldn't mix things like that." But now she does.

I love being a teacher...I love being a teacher...I love being a teacher...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Speaking Geezer

Have you ever done that? Is that a second language to you, or are you wondering,"What in tarnation is she talking about?" (If the latter, you're fluent!)

Speaking geezer, if neither of the above applies to you, means employing phrases like, "When I was a kid," or "I had a car once," or, even, "Aren't you going to finish that?"

Or, like I've said recently, "Back in high school,..."

"I can't believe I saw..."

"I don't understand why..."

It's a tightrope. On the one hand, I am 53, after all. I entered a new demographic 8 years ago. People hold doors for me again, without apology. When I get out of bed in the morning, something protests. If it's not my back, it's my knees. Hair stylists arrange my coiffure so as to de-emphasize the jowls they tell me I don't have. I was told last weekend that my pretty manicure made the speaker remember her grandmother's hands. I haven't been able to shop in the junior section for about 20 years, but now even the misses' section can get a little racy, depending on the store.

Stop. I'm getting depressed.

On the other hand, there are people alive who remember me in diapers, and, no, I don't mean Depends. My youthful idiocy is trotted out regularly for all to see and laugh over.

I get no respect. And I'm old enough to remember that comedian.

Or I get too much respect. It's a balancing act.

Not that I regret anything. With these years comes a measure of wisdom and patience that my 25-year-old-self could never have imagined. And I wouldn't be 25 again on a dare.

35, maybe.

No, 40, because that was a year when I had all my kids and I didn't have any grandchildren yet.

Yeah, 40.

Which, now that I think of it, seems so young.

And that, my friends, is Geezer.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

Beautiful, sunny day. Cool, crisp fall air. A trip to the apple orchard is in the works, and it's a perfect day for it. Sadly, I'll be home, taking care of things here, while Mary and Ryan play in the autumn sun. They'd just better bring me home some cider and doughnuts!
The farm itself...well, it's in awful shape. There's just no way we would be able to accomplish what we did this year and still have it all look lovely. It's ragged and unkempt and we've lost animals to predators because of it. We started with 10 turkey poults; we'll take 4 to the butcher this Thursday, and none of them died young. They were all victims of dogs or coyotes. It's embarrassing.
Also embarrassing is the vegetable garden. Nothing has been picked in the past month, and I'm sure lovely tomatoes are rotting on the vines. I do have beautiful, full Brussels sprouts plants. Full of foliage; not a sprout on any of them.
OK, so I'm done running myself down. Must get to work. Have a good week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Announcement!

We have 5 grandchildren now. 3 came from Jay; 1 came from Kris. And now, 1 comes from both of them.


Another in a line of the cutest babies you'll ever see!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This Morning in Church

Just As I Am

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

Typical Saturday. We had breakfast with my dad, I worked, and then came home to cook. We took a short break to head to a Damn Ramsey class.
Dinner tonight was wonderful.
Slow-Cooker Beer Brats.
German potato salad and baked macaroni and cheese, both from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.
Leinie's.
Raw carrots. Homemade bread and butter pickles. Sauerkraut. Hot dogs for those of us who dislike bratwurst (can't imagine anyone actually HATING them!)
Chocolate chip cookies, also from that cookbook I mentioned above.
I do that sometimes. Cook an entire meal from the same cookbook. It works. And it didn't disappoint tonight.
Yum.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Field Trip!

Yesterday our school left school.
The juniors and seniors headed up to APT to see/hear Twelfth Night. Mary and Minah enjoyed it, and the weather was wonderful for an outdoor performance of Shakespeare.
I went along with the freshmen and sophomores to the Art Institute.
Yeah. 45 freshmen and sophomores in an art museum.
No one was arrested. All were picked up at the end of the day. It was a good field trip.

I saw one of my favorites. Lucas Cranach's The Crucifixion.
Saw something new this time; a seascape which was extremely detailed and caught the image so that it looked like a photograph. Do I remember the artist or title? Why would I have done that? I can say that it's an American work, at the south end of the American gallery, in the main room, all the way to the end and to the right. Beautiful.
Today is horsey pedicure and Home Ec and History. Good day, all!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Surprise!!

John and I went to Vienna in 2000 He called one day and said, "I have a meeting in Vienna. Are you all right if I go?" I said, "Of course. But you have to bring me with you." I was only half kidding. I have a friend there, a woman I've been writing to since I was 15, and I thought it would be fun to meet her. Little did I know that I would fall in love with, of all things, a city. But that is not the point of this story.
He went ahead for a meeting and I met him there. (I used Frequent Flier miles and my entire airfare cost was something like $85. Cool.) On the way, I had an overnight in London. I had never been out of the country alone, and he was nervous for me. (I was actually OK, until I got there…) He booked a room at the Radisson near Heathrow, thinking it would be good and close and there was a shuttle and it would be worth the money, since he wouldn’t have to worry about me.
I was a baby in my younger years. Needed a nightlight ALL THE TIME. Couldn’t sleep alone; when he’d travel, the kids came into bed with me, AND my grandma would stay for a few nights.
I was so proud of myself that night, shutting off all the lights and going to sleep all alone in a foreign country.
You know what’s coming, don’t you?
I got up around 3am, headed for the potty, and turned the bathroom light on. A flock, a herd, a myriad of cockroaches, scuttled for the dark. I screamed. I mean, I could hear their little feet clicking on the tile! In a Radisson? Wasn't this supposed to be a nice hotel?I knew, knew, knew, I should go downstairs and complain and ask for alternate arrangements. But I was exhausted, had a 6am wakeup call for my next flight to Vienna, and, against my better judgment, I went back to bed…with every light in the room on. I even turned on the TV for light, although I muted it.
I checked out in the morning without saying a word. I was foolish. I paid $285 for a night with a colony of cockroaches. But it makes a good story, right?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

Today dawned bright and sunny. And humid. It'll be in the mid-90s today. I am going shoe shopping in a nice, cool shop.

But first came a trip to the feed store, where I learned that my favorite feed is "too hard" to keep in stock, so I may be looking for a new store. Something local-ground, or even, dare I say it, organic, would be appreciated. I also visited the farm stand and bought some beautiful cantaloupe and watermelon, and corn. Corn is one of those summertime treats that I thought we would not be enjoying this summer. The drought, I thought, would make that impossible. Well, the ears aren't as fat as I'd like, but they're lovely. We'll be having them with a nice ribeye tonight...

We're down to one goat. Mary sold Hoss at auction last night. She didn't get as much as she'd like, but she sold him for a little more than the average price, and more than I usually sell them for, so I'm happy. Only Jack, the little black goat, is left, and he will have a date with destiny sometime this October. We lost a turkey this week. I think one of the dogs "played" with it. Playing with dogs is not healthy for turkeys.

Our garden is overgrowing since the rains. The tomatoes are finally starting to ripen, but most of the Romas have blossom end rot. Makes me grumpy, but makes me realize I should test the soil. We have some potatoes from the garden last week; yum! And the cucumbers have begun to produce. And the zucchini. Not that I told you that. So, if some zucchini should appear on your doorstep one morning, it was NOT me. It was NOT.

Have a good Saturday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

One of these days, I'm gonna have to write a book.

"Get a small farm," they said. "Enjoy nature, live the quiet life," they said. "Raise some veggies, raise some animals, eat healthy foods," they said.

Tonight John and I got a surprise date night. We found ourselves alone at the County Fair, between the Wether, Fur and Feather Auction and picking up Minah, who worked at one of the ticket gates. Mary and Ryan were wandering the Fair.

"Hey," I said, "We could go to dinner. Alone." Off we went.

We found a new smokehouse in Woodstock, and settled in for a half slab. The food, sadly, was just OK. Cool ribs, and I don't mean that as a slang adjective, meh beans, and cole slaw with too much mustard.

And then the yucky part happened.

My phone rang.

Keri said, "Melody! The f----in' pigs are out!"

She's quite the practical joker, so I said, "You. Had. Better. Be. Joking. Tell me right now if this is a joke."

"NO!" she hollered into the phone. "They're up by the f----in' road!" Then she started sobbing.

What else could I do? I said, "We'll be right home."

We slurped up the barbecue sauce, slugged one more gulp of beer (I left 1/4 of a Blue Moon on the table.) We headed home.

Since Mary and Ryan had beat us home, the three of them had one pig safely in the pasture just as we got there. I ran through the breezeway, changing my sandals for muck boots as I did. I came out the back door to see the one thing you DON'T want to see; a pig, lying on her side, bright pink in color, panting furiously. (Pigs shouldn't be pink, despite what the cute little buggers in cartoons look like. Pink means they're flushed from stress.) I grabbed a bucket of water while the guys grabbed fence panels. We splashed some water on her, led her a bit to the bucket, splashed some more water, led her a little more...After about a half hour, we were able to get her near the barn, using those panels to herd her. Since it was dusk and almost bedtime, she moseyed into the barn, still panting. We shut the door.

-whew- Two pigs caught. One was in the pasture, though, not in the pen.

We herded her out of the pasture, through the gate and into their pen, which sounds a lot easier than it was. It took another 20 minutes or so.

When we came in, they were both in their pen with all gates closed. Seems I left one important door open and caused all the ruckus. But things seem to have turned out OK.

Except that Ryan sprained/strained his thumb. And the pigs were down, huffing, when I left them to come inside. Hopefully, they'll lie there on the cool earth for the night and be fine in the morning.

And I'll finish this Fat Tire and have myself a good sleep!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shameless

So, I didn't tell you, because I didn't notice, but that last post was my 888th post.

But this one is more important.


Happy Birthday to Me!
Happy Birthday to Me!
Happy Birthday, dear Melody!
Happy Birthday to ME!

I spent it, as usual, doing something having to do with the county Fair. Had to take Mary over to show some artwork. She did well.

If I had a plan for dinner, today would be perfect...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Double Edged Sword

More rain today! We're so glad to see things greening up and growing again. I really have been worrying about our garden. Not the veggies so much, although our crop will be small this year. I've been worrying mostly about our shrubs. Some have already died; some are so brown and dry that I wonder if they can come back.

The lawn has been brown and crunchy. It is beginning to show signs of life again. This is the double edged sword. Our mower met it's end last year. You may remember how. Because we are fussy, and want what we want, and because our bank account is anorexic, we are doing without a lawn mower this year. Our plan is to save and buy the one we want next year, rather than settling for something less and hating it. As a result, we haven't been complaining much about the lack of rain. Now, as the grass begins to come back, we're going to have to scramble.

Because we're sitting on a double edged sword.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm Canceling Weekends

Do you look forward to weekends? I remember doing that. We couldn't wait for Fridays, loved lazy Saturdays, enjoyed family Sundays.

If the past few have been any indication of the future, I'm cancelling future weekends.

Friday was busy right up to 5pm. We had nice steaks for dinner, and enjoyed a little Sherlock in the night. But Saturday...

Saturday was the 4H dog show. We were up and at 'em bright and early, shuttling 3 dogs 2 towns over. These things make less and less sense every year. I wish I could organize one. I'd either revamp it into a masterpiece of efficiency, or I'd learn my lesson and shut up in the future. Mary's three dogs did well...until the sits and downs. One was set next to a dog who barked throughout the entire show. Barking dogs at an obedience show, in my opinion, should be treated like crying babies in church. Quietly take them out. But, no, barking brown Lab stayed, and when Skye had had enough of that noise, she got up to walk to Mary, where it was quieter. -30 points for the long sit. Ditto for the long down. Henry sat well through the long sit, and lay quietly during the long down...and then decided he'd had enough, too. Can't blame a barking dog for that one, just a stubborn corgi. Jaeger, Matthew and Keri's young Lab, was, in the words of the judge, "an active dog." While Mary was complimented on her handling of him, he, too, got bored during the long down and decided to sit up. -sigh-

After dropping dogs and girls at home, we headed out for an evening on the lake with some good friends. The evening turned into night, and then into early, early morning. But a good time was had by all.

Until we had to be for a Youth group breakfast at church... -yawn- It was fun, and Ryan showed up midway through. So, when the hay truck came by in mid-afternoon, there were two extra arms to lift bales! Wakiya will eat this winter!

After which came a 2-hour riding lesson for Mary and Wakiya. Oh, was that horsey MAD at her girl. "I was spending a perfectly LOVELY day in a perfectly LOVELY pasture, and you load me into a trailer, drive me across the world, to another barn, where you don't let me sniff the other horses, throw a saddle on my back, and expect me to LEARN?" Poor baby. The lesson was good, and both girls learned a lot.

But, when I fell into bed, all I could think was, "Thank you Lord, for another weekend. And thank you that the week is beginning and I can REST!"

Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Army Mom Thoughts

I'm pre-empting my Saturday Farm Report a bit to make a point. I was on my way to work yesterday morning when I heard about the shootings in Colorado. I came in late to the story, so I still don't have all the information. But I have some thoughts.

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me, "Why did you let your kids join the military?" I could buy those cute shoes I saw last week! Anyway, my answer is always the same.

"They could be shot in a grocery store. They could flip their car some late night and be left paralyzed. Serving in the military is dangerous, but so is crossing the street."

Case in point. In that theater Thursday night/Friday morning were at least 20 servicepeople who work with or for the husband of a friend of mine, a colonel in the Air Force. Can you imagine? Your son/daughter signs up for the military. You are incredibly proud of their decision, but incredibly afraid for them. "Please not Afghanistan," you pray. "Please not Iraq. Give them, I don't know, Colorado." Then, one morning, you get The Visit. You get The Visit because your kid went to a MOVIE.

Pray for the parents. Pray for the friends. Pray.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Insomnia

Insomnia has returned. Every so often, I have a night or three when I get little sleep. I fall asleep just fine. It's just that I wake up two hours earlier than I need to, and can't get back to sleep. Last night I got to bed late; midnight. I needed to be up at 6 for another day of seminar. I knew I'd be sleepy later in the day, but I figured it would all work out.

I woke up at 4am.

I lay there for an hour and 15 minutes, worrying about a simple thing I had been ignoring for a couple of days. I knew it needed to be done, but I've been busy with lots of things, and didn't get to it. Now it might cost me some money, and that idea set my mind racing and then it just wouldn't stop.

So, at 5:15am, I got up and did what I had been putting off. Within 10 minutes, things were fine. But I'm not the kind of person who can go back to bed, so I stayed up, folding things, organizing other things, clean still other things. When it came time to go to work, I was ready for a nap. A nap I still have not had, and now it's suppertime.

Fatigue does crazy things. Today I was at my computer, trying to do an assignment during this seminar, and the tears just came. I was able to dam them up, but it was, pure and simple, exhaustion. Same thing as I drove home and the sun hit my eyes. The little bit of pain that caused was enough to set me over the edge again.

All this just to explain why I'm going to bed early tonight? Yep. Because I have to be up at 5am to take chickens to their destiny.

Wanna bet I won't be able to get up tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The New Job

So I've been away today, learning to be a better teacher. Although I think that's going to be made a little more complicated, in that we added another online place to look for staff messages. As if our two e-mail addresses weren't enough.

I guess I should comment some on going back to work this fall. I'll be working part-time, still supervising study halls, but also teaching. I'll have a World History class, a one semester Home Ec class, and, somewhere in there, I'll have kids doing Keyboarding that I have to somehow supervise. I'm feeling a little stress these days, trying to put together something approaching lesson plans. I'm sure I'll get them done, but I'm sure I don't know how. I know, I know. "Well, if you know this stuff, just get up there and teach it." OK. It really IS that easy, she said, wishing again that there was a font for sarcasm.

Our school is small, just 85 students. Our staff is small; a principal, a secretary, 4 full-time teachers, 3 part-time. It really feels like a family. And you just don't want to let your family down. Added to this is the fact that this will be our youngest child's last year in high school, and, well, there's some pressure, a little trepidation, and a whole lotta emotion.

36 days and counting....

Monday, July 16, 2012

-whew- Glad THAT'S over!

This weekend is one for the books.

On Friday I dropped Minah off at one of her part-time jobs. She helps a lady near here with her garden. As she stood at the door, she felt something on her leg. Not being from around these parts, she went to brush it away without double-checking. The hornet on her leg stung her, then jumped to her hand, and stung her twice. Since this was only her second time in her life being stung, (the first was in our chicken house)I went into the house with her and her employer, Ellen, and we doctored her up a bit. We waited about an hour and, realizing that she was not having an allergic reaction, went home. (She had decided to give gardening a try on another day!)

This weekend was John's family reunion in Grand Haven, Michigan. Since Mary had been gone for the week, and would be returning late Saturday, I stayed home. Keri and I planned a day of shoe shopping and girl time. John took Minah to the reunion. In the morning, I went to work. After work, I called Keri and...found out that she was on the way to the ER. Seems she ate something not quite right, and her body was letting her know. After blood work, IVs for dehydration, and a food poisoning diagnosis, she was on her way home. But, no shoe shopping. Bummers.

I was headed to Wally World for some shopping, and offered to pick up the prescriptions the ER doc had written. As I walked in, my phone rang. "Minah's hand is horribly swollen," said John. "I'm taking her to the ER." Aaack!! She's in a foreign country, not in our home state, with John, and she's headed to the ER. Being the good "dad" that he is, he sent me a photo.


Isn't that lovely? Not an allergic reaction, though. Just a localized reaction to the sting. Thank goodness!

After my day Saturday, I was nervous about picking up Mary. What would go wrong...Well, nothing, thank the Lord. she came home, safe and sound. Sunday was a lovely day; Keri even recovered enough to come out for a bit. Still, though, no shoes.

Wasted weekend.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

People have been wondering, "When did we last have rain?" Looking at my last post, it seems it's been just about a month, and that rainfall was so hard and fast it didn't "stick." This morning we woke to slow, steady rain. It was a wonderful blessing, although it didn't last. I'd say there's about a half inch out there, and it's done. Enough to wet the ground and tease the grass, but, I'm afraid, not much more. I do hope I'm wrong.

Aside from watching the skies and praying for rain, we've been keeping on keeping on. We've had many, many, horrible, hot days, much like the rest of the country. And, much like the rest of the country, we've been living with it. I dread the next electric bill.

Chickens are growing well. Their date with destiny is this week. Turkeys are becoming obnoxious; they do that, this time of summer. Once the chickens are gone, they'll settle down some. The pigs are really doing well. Their date with destiny isn't until September. Last year, we took then in July, and almost lost one to heat and stress along the way. Hopefully things will be cooler this time. Then again, who thought March and June would be so hot...

We bobbled the Fair. We had intended to show photos again, and a certain young lady's prom dress, and some baked things. But we missed the deadline. We do that alot. Our fault, no use complaining about it.

I've been cleaning and decluttering and organizing, preparing to be a working mom in the fall. Things are looking better, and next up is getting some lessons planned. They won't be perfect, but I'm OK with that. Surviving is more important that excelling, this year!

John is off this weekend at his family's reunion; Minah went along. Miss Mary returns from a youth conference tonight, so I stayed behind to pick her up. I plan some shopping and some lesson planning today; I'd better get to it!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

This week has been very busy, with lots of organizing and decluttering...attempted. Remember the picture from yesterday?



Well, it's been weeks since we had rain. The fields are dry and cracking, and we've been hoping and hoping. This morning, before I left for work, I considered covering the piles with tarps. I thought, "Most of that stuff is in Rubbermaid-type tubs, and can get rained on. Some of it is not, and I'd hate to lose it. But if I cover things, it will not rain. If I leave them uncovered, it will surely rain, and we desperately need it."

I left it uncovered.

I came home in a downpour which had been going on for about 20 minutes. From what I see on the ground, we got about half an inch. I found my family covering everything for me, which was very helpful. I'm still going to be pitching lots of things, which isn't so bad. We needed to get rid of stuff. This will save me the trouble of a garage sale here.

Grandchildren are here. Mary and Ryan took Joy over to the strawberry farm, and they picked 4 quarts. Later we'll enjoy tacos and the lemon bars I have cooling in the kitchen. Matthew and Keri are repairing and maintaining their car in our garage today. In short, this is one busy farm!

And, as the humidity and heat come up after that rain, I am thankful that it's an air conditioned farm house!

Enjoy your Saturday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Transformation

I have been planning to clean out the garage. Ours is usually a disaster. People use things and never put them back. People see clear space in our garage, and decide that they need to store things there. (Never mind that we'd like to put our cars there...) Animals, specifically, our cats, live there, and make their presence known in all sorts of savory and unsavory ways. And things just get cluttered, in the natural course of life.

I started this morning. I wish I had taken a picture. It would make this one



all the more impressive. Doesn't the garage look great? I even got inspired, and emptied the attic. I did not get a picture of that, either, but, take my word for it, it looks equally fantastic now.

I just wish I could say the same for my driveway.





Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Work?

John and I were talking the other morning, and something he said sparked a thought in my brain.

Yes, it's possible.

We have no modern metaphor for work.

We used to say things like, "Put your nose to the grindstone," "Back in the saddle again," "Head off to the salt mines." Well, maybe the last has seen it's day; those salt mines couldn't have been too pleasant. But what metaphor do we have now?

"Log in" ?

"Take a meeting" ?

What are we teaching our children about work?

We thought a lot about that when our kids were little and we first started homeschooling. Several families we knew had dads who worked from home. I don't mean they had office jobs that they did at home, although some did. I mean they WORKED at home. Their kids saw them plowing fields, building furniture, fixing cars. When Mom said, "Dad's working," they knew just what that meant. We talked about how John would head off to the office, saying, "I'm off to work," and we wondered what our kids thought that meant. I mean, they knew a paycheck came home regularly, that food and clothing were available due to Dad's labors. But what were those labors? What did it mean to WORK?

I wonder about that, still. About what kids think it means to WORK.

And, if they're not sure, what does that mean for the future of work in this country? I'm still chewing on that one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NKOTB

(No points if you know the reference for the title. You know why.)

Many years ago, my grandmother acquired some mugs commemorating the coronation of England's Queen Elizabeth II. She eventually gave one to me.



Over time, I acquired more Elizabeth mugs. I have one from her Silver Jubilee, and her Golden Jubilee. They live with the Coronation mug in my hutch.



Some countries, when a leader needs commemorating, rush to buy ticky-tack made in foreign countries. Not so our British cousins. All of these were made in Jolly Olde, and I really didn't mean to collect them. The Coronation mug just needed company.

Recently, while web surfing, I found, well, can you guess?



Yep, it arrived yesterday, from Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire. Lovely, translucent bone china. She smiles so happily in her picture. Too bad her hubby had to miss the concert.

Now, I don't use these on a regular basis. Once upon a time, I actually had 2 Coronation mugs; one had the date misprinted. The J was backwards, so it appeared that she'd taken the throne in Lune of 1952. Whoever drank from that mug was teased for being "Looney." But, alas, about 4 years ago, the Lune cup was taken from us after tea one afternoon, victim of a tragic washing accident. So now I don't use the mugs.

I do have the tradition of using them for one cuppa when they first come here, so, today, I had breakfast with the Queen.



Yes, I had cherry pie for breakfast. I made it yesterday with some pie cherries I bought from a local orchard. Mary pronounced it the Best. Cherry. Pie. Ever. And it was. We finished it for breakfast. I suppose I should have had tea in my mug, but I didn't. I'm a Colonial, after all, and, no, thank you, Your Majesty, I will take no tea.



I think my morning brew did originate in one of her former colonies, though. I'm thinking Kenya.

Well, as they say in England these days, Long May She Reign! I'll have more mugs to collect!

(For the record, I'm not collecting "Charles" mugs.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Leftover Supper

Last week I grilled half of a turkey. It was a disappointing experience, because, when we carved into it, red juices ran out. Yes, I had underestimated the cooking time. As it was apparent that at least another hour was needed on the grill, and since it was already half an hour past suppertime, we returned it to the grill and...went out to dinner. Very disappointing, although the dinner was lovely.

The next night, I warmed the turkey in my crockpot, and hauled out the potato and lettuce salads which I had prepared the night before. Turkey supper!

The night after that, I prepared a pizza crust. On it I put barbecue sauce,



some chopped cooked turkey,



some onion, (wish it had been RED onion)



and some colby jack cheese.



Into the oven it went.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished pizza, but, please believe me, it was delicious!!

It's been about 5 nights now. Tomorrow, I will put most of the turkey into the freezer for a couple of weeks. I'll season about a third of it for tacos. Tomorrow night, we'll use some of that meat to make turkey burritos. And Wednesday, we'll have turkey taco salad.

See why I'm putting some away for a few weeks? My family doesn't mind leftovers, but they would riot if I tried serving it again in the next week or so!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thursday Feline Manifesto



Yes, they treat me this way. Yes, I am plotting my revenge. Yes, they went shopping yesterday; see all the bags behind me on the counter? No, there was nothing in any of those bags for me. Do these people not value their pathetic little lives?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Prom

I suppose it had to happen sometime. You bring home a little pink bundle, you feed and water it, it grows into a very lovely young lady. She talks about not being one of those silly girls who are all about the boys. But, eventually, one comes along and changes things. She's still not silly, but there's this boy...

And then the school announces a prom...The prom was held at the Wisconsin Dells, and involved a boat ride and a day at a water park About 40 students and dates attended. Our Korean daughter, Minah, also attended.


Mary and Ryan.


Mary and Minah.


Mary and her good friend, Ana.


Minah, being very elvish.


The little pink bundle, about grown up.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

Some gardening done this week; potatoes and beans planted. We've had good rain, and I've been grateful.

We had our first harvest this week! Radishes, asparagus and rhubarb. The radishes were hot, hot, hot! I planted French Breakfast radishes, because they've been sweet in the past, but these were speecy-spicy. They were a good snack, though. The rhubarb will go into a rhubarb pie or crisp today, and the asparagus into an omelet. There wasn't very much of that, since I dug out my asparagus bed last fall. I plan to re-plant it this spring, but finding paying work has put a crimp in that plan. It'll get done, but late.

Today we're off to my dad's to help with final packing. He moves next week. Best get to it!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Morning Cuppa


How do you take your coffee? Wait--you DON'T? Are you some kinda crazy person? Even my daughter took a sip this week and said, "Ahh...I like that." It's an All-American thing. It should read, "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, Chevrolet and coffee," but I suppose that would play havoc with the meter or tempo or some aspect of the jingle.

I digress.

How do you take your coffee?

Back when I was a pup, I took my sugar and milk with 2 tablespoons of coffee. Since this all went into a 6-8 ounce mug, you can guesstimate the amount of add-ins I was using. And, while we're on the subject, what is it with the size of modern coffee mugs? Yes, it's comforting to wrap cold hands around a steamy boat-o-coffee, but then it takes long enough to drink the thing that it's cold halfway through. Boo!

In college, I filled my mug a little more than halfway, added 2-3 teaspoons of sugar, and a large bloop of milk. (That's the technical term. Look it up.) When my kids came along, I stayed just under 2 teaspoons of sugar. When I turned 40-something, and tried the Atkins diet, I actually drank my coffee black for a while. It tasted good, but wasn't satisfying. I dunno. I guess I just needed the milk. Or, to be more exact, the half and half. Or heavy cream. But usually half and half. About 2 tablespoons of half and half go into my 12 ounce mug of African yumminess. Yes, I prefer the African coffees. Or the East Indian. But not Brazilian. But you know that about me, if you've been paying attention.

Today I walked to the frig to mix my morning cuppa, and found -le gasp- no half and half. I was reduced to putting whole milk into my coffee. Now, sometimes that's not a bad thing. When we have raw milk in the house (yes, I'm one of those) whole milk is scrumptious. but we've been having difficulties with picking up our raw milk, and have been reduced to buying the stuff at the store. Although it, too is whole milk, it's just not the same. So my first cup was a meh blend of espresso and whole store milk. For my second cup, here at work, I am using powdered creamer; the generic kind. It has a flavor, but, again, not satisfying. This is what we call a first world problem, my children. I am fully aware that I will live to half and half again. but what does it say about both of us that I took the time to write about it, and you took the time to read? (Insert great big honkin' grin right here.)

(By the way, if you actually took the time to look up that technical term from paragraph 5, you are more first-world than I thought. Second grin.)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Inquiring Minds...

This will probably label me as a big honkin' bigot, but something has been bothering me for ages.

If gay folks like members of the same sex, why do they tend to dress/act/express themselves as members of the opposite sex?

Once I knew a man who was so androgynous, I did not know whether he was male or female for over a year. Apparently, I was not the only person who didn't know. He worked in a medical office I went to, and, eventually, the staff gently told their clients by saying something like, "You know that gentleman,Pat, who works here? Well, he..." OK, no big, he did his job and that's what counts, right?

Then I learned he was married to one of the doctors in the office. SHE was very, for lack of a better word, manly. Yeah. The effeminate-ish guy married the manly woman. Another client once said to me, "Hmmm...Guess they figured it out. Why is it so hard for so many others?"

Yeah.

So, today, I went into the coffee shop. The man who took my order was very much like Pat. He had the feminine hairstyle, perfectly coiffed, colored, and flipped. He flipped it in that airy way many women use. His eyebrows were better tweezed than mine, and I just did them last night. And his outfit, while it fit the coffee-corporate uniform, was impeccable. He matched down to the shoelaces. His voice was sweet as honey and his giggle was light and ripply. Only his mustache and beard gave him away.

I hope he works with a nice, Katherine-Hepburn-ish woman.

(Note; yes, homosexuality is on the outs with my religion. No, I would not be happy to learn that someone close to me was gay. But I really don't care if anyone else is. I just really wonder about that question I asked, earlier on...)

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Wish

We're coming up on the one-year anniversary of our great adventure. A friend of mine is soon to leave on her own. So, Glenda, auf wiedersehen and arrivederci! Gute Reise and buon viaggio!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Annie

Remember this cutie?



Well, yesterday she wasn't feeling well. We found her, later in the day, curled up in the pasture, calling for help. We brought her in, called the vet, followed directions...

My friend Wendi often says, "Baby animals are always looking for a way to die." Although we brought her inside, wrapped her up nice and warm, and watched over her, sometime in the night, she found her way.

-sniff-

It's always the cute ones. And the ones you have plans for. She wasn't going into the freezer, this one. She was going to be bred, to supply us with milk and future meat.

Well, such is life, I suppose. At least we know we tried.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Goodnight, Irene

I remember my grandfather singing this to my grandmother, whose name was Irene. So, when my friend Paula, posted it on Facebook this morning, I got to miss them both.



Thanks, Paula!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

I have hit the two week mark at work. Yes, I'm working. I supervise study hall at Mary's school. It's a lot like babysitting, but the "babies" get all hormonal, or attitudinal, and things can get complicated. But things are going well. Either that, or I'm completely delusional, and the inmates are running the asylum.

Getting accustomed to working has eaten up quite a bit of my time. I know, I know, millions of people work and I should just get over it. But those millions probably went through an adjustment, right? I'm at the point in mine where I am tired enough to be worrying about getting sick. Yeah, that's all I need right now.

I'm behind on cleaning. On organizing. Laundry is caught up, though. But the garden is sad, sad, sad. I'd planned to have potatoes and peas planted by now, but no such luck. I'd like to get out there tonight, but that's not going to happen. There's always tomorrow...

Baby goats are weaning. Baby lambs are on the radar. We're looking for some, and also some pigs. I also saw an ad for some Jersey steers, so a baby beef is out there for us, too. Wakiya seems to be no worse for having lost her pasture buddy. Mary's been up in the saddle this week, finally. She tells me, "Wakiya went a little wonky, but I stayed on. I didn't grab the horn, and I stayed on." Yay, Mary!

Tonight Minah is having two friends sleep over. Pray for us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Making Connections

My husband argues that making connections between disciplines is critical. Well, he's right.

Lately I've been reading this book. It is an interesting fictional account of life in Nazi Germany. Yeah, I like me some light reading.

While driving to buy lunch today, (which happens when you leave your lunch on the kitchen counter as you rush off to work) I listened to Dennis Miller. He was interviewing one of the stars of the new Three Stooges movie. (It was "Moe," if that matters to you.) In the course of the interview, a caller to the show reminded me of You Nazty Spy! which was a 1940 satire of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. It made Moe Howard the first actor to portray Hitler on screen. (For you nit-pickers, it came out In January,1940, before the October release date of this movie.)



I only share Part 1 here, but, if you'd like to see Part 2, it's in the sidebar when you follow the link.

I've made my cultural connection for the day. I are so wise!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Farmer's Dilemma

Another blogger posted today about "Looking Meat in the Eye," in other words, eating those critters we raise.

We get asked that alot. "Do you eat your own animals?" (Yep.) "How do you butcher them?" (I don't. I hire someone.) "Isn't it hard?" (That's the point of this post.)

The first year we bought meat chickens, I was terrified. As we unloaded those cute little fuzzy yellow things into their new home, I thought, "There's no way our kids are going to let us butcher these." There were 25! I was completely ignorant about raising them, but I knew in spades that I wouldn't be able to keep 25 full-grown chickens until they died a natural death. I needn't have worried. 8 weeks later, those cute little fuzzy yellow things had grown into fat, waddling, stinky things that bit at us when we fed them. The kids tossed those puppies into the truck, saying, "Get these things outta here, Mom!" They were disappointed that we continued to grow them, year after year, but they have coped by leaving all the work to us.

Next up were turkeys. They, also, started out cute. They actually end up pretty cute, too, but we still managed to get them to the butcher.

Our first goat kids were cute as cute can be. We knew, going in, that female animals stay with us. (Our vet said, "That's why it's called a 'herd,' not a 'himd.'") Three little boys were born to ZeeBee. We sold one as, we hope, a pet. At least when they walked off they were talking about how much he was going to love them and they would love him, too. But the other two...Well, we did strike out there. Goat meat is not our favorite, and we don't eat much of it. But we have sold it to people who do, and who make no bones (no pun intended) about what they're going to do with the critters. And we hope they enjoy it.

When we bought our first beef calf, I was worried. We had a cow for a couple of years, and sold off her first calf to a family who used her for breeding until they finally butchered her. We love bovines. We haven't had one for a couple of years, and we're thinking about it again, partly because we miss seeing them in the pasture. But Jr. was our first bovine purchased for the purpose of filling the freezer. It helped that we named him Jr. Cheeseburger. We knew, right away, that his destiny was set in stone. But he was a good boy and it was a little tough to load him in the truck and take him to Eickman's. And, despite his goodness, he was big and brawny. He once chased Mary up a fence post. I heard her screaming and ran to find her perched in the corner of our pen, Jr. shaking his head at her. He thought he was playing, or begging for food, but he could have hurt (or worse) her, and she was scared. But...he was a good boy. Those were some of the best beef meals we've ever had.

Lambs? Stupid, flighty creatures that deserve to be roasted. Sorry, but true.

Pigs? One warm summer day, John and I were measuring our first pigs. We were plugging a collection of measurements into a formula, to figure out how much they weighed. I was writing and John was measuring. I was wearing shorts and knee-high rubber barn boots (it's a high-fashion look.) One of our piggers sniffed my leg, and, like a dog, took a nibble to see what I was. She grabbed my skin between layers of rubber, and I ended up with a honkin' bruise. I hollered and pushed her off. She sniffed around and then picked up my foot and shook it like a dog shakes a bone. Before she could let go, I climbed up and over the pen fence, saying, "John, I love you, but you're on your own!" I have been leery of our pigs ever since. They're omnivores, after all. That means they will eat veggies...and meat. People, in case you aren't as informed as I, are made of meat. Pigs will eat us, if given the chance. One of our vets once worried to me about an elderly, unsteady client who insisted on walking among his pigs. "I'm afraid of what someone's gonna find someday." I figure I'll get the pig to the butcher before she gets a chance at me. If that makes me cold-hearted, so be it.

I couldn't eat horsemeat. Or dog. Unless it was some time after TEOTWAWKI. Even then, it would stick in my throat as it went down. If that makes me squeamish, so be it.

So, there you have it. My manifesto on eating home-grown meat. Yes, for most critters, I can look them in the eye as I unload them at the butcher's. Although many of them can hurt, maim, or even kill me, I've cared for them humanely, fed them well, given them the free and open lifestyle they need to grow and thrive. Our critters do not grow in the confined, unnatural manner used to produce most commercially available meats. I prepare them carefully and frugally for meals for my family. So, I have no guilt about using them that way.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trail Ride

Yesterday, Mary and I took a trail ride.



It wasn't planned that way. I came to the realization that it made sense for Hope to have a new home. I won't have time to ride her in the next few months, and the costs to keep her were just getting to be too much to handle. If one or the other were manageable, that would be different. But they weren't. So she was to return to the farm where she lived before she came to us.

But there were conflicts, and the trailer she was supposed to ride in was unavailable. She tried, but wouldn't get into our trailer, so that was also not an answer. Having made a tough decision, I didn't want to drag it out any further. So I made the decision to ride her to her new home.

This was a dicey decision to make, for unexperienced me. Neither Mary nor I had been in the saddle yet this year. Neither horse had been ridden this year. Neither of us had ever ridden either horse near traffic, and the approximately 5 miles between our farm and Farm #2 were along some country roads. It was a 2 1/2 hour ride. I wanted Mary to ride along, in case there were difficulties, but I worried about both of us getting into something stupid.

In the end, it was a lovely ride. The weather was good; not too hot, not too cold, not much breeze, cloud cover, so, not much sun. Once or twice we rode along open fields, where the "not much" breeze was magnified and Hope got a little antsy. Twice she decided that she'd had enough of this fun, and decided to turn around to go home. We had it out, and I won. (Yay, me!) There were some dogs. There were some scary (to Hope) cows. In the end, we arrived safe, sound, and healthy. Tired, and little sore, but healthy.

And Hope? She was settled in, nice and comfy. She was even reunited with her last baby, Faith. (See what they did there?) If I had to rehome her, this was a good place. (Faith is on the right.)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

Goaties are growing, snarfing up bottles and learning to eat grass. There's not much cuter than a baby goat, and, watching them play King of the Hill with a beat-up Dogloo can beat the heck out of any bad mood.

Tomatoes, cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and more broccoli starts are up in the breezeway. I had to cover the garden this week, when our glorious weather became more seasonal, and frosts were predicted. I bought some cinder blocks to create another raised bed, where I will plant asparagus. Cedar sides for a raised bed? Roughly $120 per bed. Cinder blocks? $28. That was a no-brainer.

We are planning to de-horse by one. Feeding a Thoroughbred has gotten the better of us, and Hope will likely be going back whence she came. I will miss her, but it just makes sense.

I am entering the world of the working. I'll be joining the staff at Mary's school. If I have to work, this is the place, so it's a genuine answer to prayer.

Now, if the prayer for a new lawn mower would get answered....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Words to Chew On

GANDALF THE WHITE said...

"Other evils there are that may come... Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule"

In other words, Think Globally, Act Locally. But I think Tolkien a deeper meaning, not confined to "being green." What say you?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Miss Mary

My sweet little pumpkin wrote a sweet little blog post. Enjoy!

Just When You Get Used to One Thing...

along comes another!

It has been crazy busy here lately. My dad is moving from the house where I grew up, about an hour from here, to one about 8 minutes from here. Now, right now, look around your space. Look at all your stuff, your treasures, the things you live with. How long have they been surrounding you? He's been in that house about 53 years! Imagine, if you can, the stuff. I promise, your imagination can't touch the reality. So we've been down at his house, at least once a week, sorting, cleaning, packing, organizing and staging for this house to be sold. And it worked! He sold it at the end of last week. Now we can head down and continue sorting, cleaning, packing, organizing and actually stuff the stuff into a truck to take it to the storage locker where it will wait to be moved into it's new home!

We've also been working on the yard. The weather has been too terrific for March. Those who have read here before have heard me speak of it as the month of Mud, not March, and that's usually true. In fact, this March has still been muddy. It's just been incredibly warm, also, and we're loving it. Rather than sitting, though, and saying, "This good weather is only temporary," we've been doing garden and farm things. I have two beds planted with cool weather crops; lettuces, broccoli, onions and garlic, and various things growing inside, too. The amaryllis that I talked about two weeks ago is already blooming! And the little goats are eating like little pigs, growing in leaps and bounds, and leaping and bounding in their outside pen. Normally, I'd wait till April to put them outside, but they've been out for a week now.

I pulled mulch off of some of the flowerbeds, and more will be unveiled as this week progresses. I added mulch to a line of lilacs I transplanted from Ranchwife's yard in Wyoming. I put them right under our bedroom windows, so I'm looking forward to sweet smelling springtime sleeps in our future.

(You know, we're all busy, but don't you think Ranchwife should update us on what's happening on the ranch? I do!)

It's hard to believe that it's almost April already, and I'm even getting that familiar feeling that, pretty soon, I'll be saying, "It's hard to believe it's Christmas already." But, ah, such is life this side of Heaven. Now the sewing machine is calling me, and I have an Easter dress to finish, so I'll head off to do that. Ciao!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday, Monday #2

Yesterday was drop-dead gorgeous. Except for the fact that I missed church, it was perfect.

I headed out early to feed goaties and horses. I repotted some plants, did laundry and had breakfast. Afterward, I went out and planted in the garden. Like other years, I had covered the bed with a sheet of plastic to warm up the soil. I usually do that around March 1, and take it off on April 1. No need this year! I opened it up yesterday, and the ground was as warm as my flannel-sheeted bed at night. So lettuces (Jung's Sweet Repeat and some Red Romaine) went in, and also some French Breakfast and Cherry Belle radishes. Durn. Just remembered that I meant to plant snow peas. Maybe this afternoon...

I also mulched some lilacs that I dug while at Ranchwife's last summer. I planted them under our bedroom windows, so I am looking forward to fragrant bedrooms for many future spring evenings. Minah started weeding some flowerbeds for me, and, since Matthew was over, I set him to readying our outside pen for the little goats. They got outside for their first real romp, and it was gratifying to see them tuck into eating real green grass for the first time! (Yes, I will watch for bloat!) I should have cleaned Wakiya's stall, but it'll be there after school today.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

This was a long, busy week, with me subbing at Mary's school for three days. It was a good experience, and, hey, I actually got to teach something! Sadly, I had one of those "brain farts" mid-lesson and had my two students staring at me like I was a loon for about 7 minutes. Well, I was a loon. So, I guess I deserved it. But see if you can pull "Quadrature" out of your brain. It's been 38 years since I've had to!

It's getting beautiful here. Spring is coming on early, the grass is greening up, daffodils are blooming today, and we have a nice, loud thunderstorm rolling through. Goaties are growing well, and we need pork in our freezer,so I'm on the hunt for piggies.

Today I'll be heading south to my dad's to help pack up some things and bring them this way, in preparation for his move to town later, when spring is here in earnest. He's been an hour's drive away, and will soon be 8 minutes away, so this is a good thing. I also need to do some weeding and planting. Already! Snow and snap peas should be going in this weekend.

I'll be doing a little more subbing Monday. Tuesday, John has to have a heart procedure done, so we'll be at the hospital for the day. More on that later...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Death and Life of Larry Benson

We actually "had" two kids in the play. Ethan's photos were used for those of Larry scattered around the stage. He even got a place in the program for it!



But Mary was the star of the show. She made people cry, which made her cheer!

"Tell your mother I appreciate the flowers."



"You haven't been working too hard, have you, Frieda?"
"No, Sam, I'm all right."



"Let me talk to him alone, Sam."



"Who is the boy in this picture?"



"Larry is...dead."




"Listen to me, Sam. I have to say this, and I can't say it right."



And the crowd went wild...Well, her mom and dad did. We're so proud of her.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

We have a houseful this weekend. Mary is appearing in the school play, and Peterpeople from far and wide are descending upon us.



Some of us are cooking. Some of us are playing.



And some of us are making sure the chores get done.

But their picture didn't make the cut.

Have a good Saturday.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 1982

What were you doing?

That question was asked by a radio personality as I drove Mary and Minah to school this morning. Although I had not thought about it in years, it instantly flashed through my brain.

Thirty years ago today, I had a miscarriage.

We'd been married 5 months when we discovered we were unexpectedly pregnant. We were terrified at first, but then we were thrilled.

And, about a week later, we were no longer pregnant. It was scary, and upsetting, and I thought it boded ill for our future family. I was wrong, but, at the time, it was all I could think about. Although we thought we would wait about 5 years to start a family, we were afraid for our chances, and started right away. In fact, our oldest was born one year and one day after our miscarriage.

People can be very cruel about children. "Oh, you had to go and ruin a perfectly good marriage." "He's cute now, but wait until he's a teenager!" You know, those sorts of supportive, loving comments. People are often doubly so about a miscarriage. "You're young. You'll have more." (Can I get that in writing?) "You barely knew you were pregnant. What are you fussing about?" (Hmmm...Maybe...My child DIED) For the record, I was at 11 weeks, had thought long and hard about what I was doing, and was glad for it.

Miscarriages hurt, physically as well as emotionally. As I only ever had one, I didn't know what to expect. I was hurting, scared, and felt very alone. Although my husband was also very upset and disappointed, he was wonderfully supportive. Our doctor, who I met as this experience began, was terrific, and I was very glad to have him care for me through 4 pregnancies. But it's still an experience I am glad to have had only once.

In case you're wondering, 30 years ago today, John Belushi died. The irony was not lost on me. Here was this talented guy, full of promise, and he frittered his life away on drugs. And my little baby, also full of promise, died without even getting the chance to fritter away a life. The irony, the situation, and my memories caused me to tear up in the car. I told the girls what I was thinking. We talked about it a bit, and then they went into school. I drove off into the morning.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Farm Report

It is really hard to believe it's Saturday again already! Where did the week go?

Goats are growing. They started at 6 ounces of milk, 4 times a day, and are up to a pint of milk, 3 times a day. Since our bottles are standard 8 ounce baby bottles, it's a little tricky, feeding them. Once that first bottle is empty, we have a couple of good seconds to refill before the protesting begins. It's loud and pathetic, so we hurry.

This week the vet was out to dehorn and castrate them. Yes, we remove some body parts. Horns come off for safety, although Jack was allowed to keep his. I don't think that was a good decision, but it's done. If those horns don't come off in the first two weeks, it can be a battle to try later, and they're going on three weeks now. Castration happens for the same reason the steers you eat are castrated; the growing animal puts it's energy into meat rather than full body development. It sounds unfair, even to me, but it's a fact of life on the farm and has been since we domesticated meat animals.

Last night, although I was having too much fun to get any pictures, we had dinner guests. Minah's brother was a foreign exchange student himself about 3 years ago. He is back in the US, visiting his host family, and they brought him to Illinois to show him a little of Chicago and to see his sister. Later today we will meet them at the Field Museum of Natural History, and further brother/sister bonding/baiting will occur.

I'd better go mix some bottles!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Farm Report, or, If You Give a Goat a Bottle...

I went out this morning to feed the goat kids. They take three bottles a day. They share space in the barn with Mary's horse. I fed them.

I hauled water and hay to the pen, and let Wakiya into it. I went to get my horse, Hope. I let her off her lead a little early, because she always heads right for the pen when she sees Wakiya there. This time, however, she went for a romp up the hill, stopping to make horsey snow angels. Since we got a little over 7" of snow yesterday, my two legs couldn't keep up with her four even half as well as on a dry day. (That's farmer-animal fractions there.)

I went to get help (aka Mary) and, when I turned around, there was Hope, waiting at the gate. She's predictable, anyway.

I cleaned one goat and two horse stalls, hauling poop to the compost piles (see Thursday's post) and adding more bedding.

I checked the hens. They had seven eggs for us. I rewarded them with feed.

Coming inside, I noticed a stink. I hauled Annie's crate outside (my little goat kid is better now, and moved to the barn for good this morning) and then discovered our old cat had left me a, um, present, in the boot tray. She has decided, as it turns out, that this is her own personal litter box. When she's feeling too elderly, that is, to go out to the garage, where her real litter box is.

While scrubbing and replacing the boot tray, I knocked over a spray bottle of insect spray, which dumped onto the tack trunk and soaked a bag of books I'd brought from my dad's the other day. I cleaned that up, figuring I may as well tackle the rest of the room, as well.

In the end, I started chores at 7:30 and finished at 10:30. And I have family who can't figure out why I can't get up and going in the morning. I'm not up and going? Who knew?

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Expression of My Opinions

A friend of mine posted this as her Facebook status today.

Someday it would be really nice if all these snooty holier-than-thou leftist experts on Christianity would understand the difference between "stop telling me what I have to do" and "you have to do what I say." Just because I object to the crap you want to force me into does not mean that I am telling you how to live or expect you to live or think as I do.

And I responded, "Yeah! What she said!"

It sticks in my craw, as in hers, that those who object to my beliefs/lifestyle/way of doing things think that I expect them to believe/live do things the way that I do. I never, never, never expect that of anyone. Except my children, but that is because our home is not a democracy, but a benevolent dictatorship. But that's a matter for another post.

I believe that people should get a solid education before embarking on life. The form of that education will vary with each individual, and the way that I got mine is, perhaps, not a workable manner by which you should get yours. And, maybe, you do not think you need an education. OK, fine. But I did, and I'd appreciate it if you'd let me be about it.

I believe that people, men and women, should wait for a life partner of the opposite sex before exploring their sexuality. I believe that a ceremony marking the founding of this relationship is in order. I do, and I'm not going to apologize for it. Does that mean I look down my nose at those of you who did not follow this plan? That would be really silly of me, so just get past it. Yes, to those children of mine who read this, I did have comments to make about your lifestyle choices. Again, you are my children, and I ask you to read the last sentence of the third paragraph. I also don't appreciate having to pay, financially or socially, for the lifestyle choices of those who disagree with me. Much like you are complaining about me trying to foist my lifestyle choices on you, I don't appreciate you doing the same to me. And you are.

I believe that mommies and daddies should stay together until the end of their lives so that their children can feel safe and secure. I believe daddies should provide for their children, not only financially, but also emotionally. I believe mommies should stay home with their children until their children leave the nest. I realize that this is not a perfect world, and that many cannot do these things. If you are doing your best to scrimp, save and meet your expenses and are genuinely unable to do so, ask me for help. I will give as much as I can. But if you're leaving your babies to someone else to care for so that there can be beer in the frig, shiny cars in the driveway or trips to be taken, quitcher complaining. I won't expect you to stop doing it, but I really don't want to hear how horrible your life is without those things. Your little sweetie pie is living without the people he/she loves the most, and that stinks.

I believe that men should love and support their wives, and women should love and support their husbands. Of course there will be difficulties, disagreements, and "loud discussions." I believe that those should be kept between the two of you, and not shared with the entire world. I especially believe that any children should not have to hear about it, take sides, or worry that their parents hate each other.

I believe that, when your working days are over, you still have much to offer, and should offer it. Kindly, patently, lovingly. Please let us reap the benefits of your years of toil and tears. We need that.

I believe that, when your parents' health begins to fail, you need to care for them as lovingly and sacrificially as they did you. After all, they changed your diapers for 2-3 years. Would it kill you to do the same? Yep, you'll have to give up some things. Didn't they? Get over yourself. Whether you like it or not, that will probably be you someday. Think about it.

I believe that God is all-powerful and omniscient, and, yet, he still allows bad things to happen. Yes, He could enclose you in bubble wrap and keep the bad meanies away, just like He could have sent armies of angels to smite the Romans and Pharisees and take his little boy down off that torture device. But He doesn't. And that's the way it is. Your being mad at Him for not is not going to change things. But you are welcome to continue believing that way and I will not stop you from doing so.

I really won't. And I'm really tired of hearing you say that I will, or that I do. I suspect it's guilt talking. That's your guilt to deal with, not mine. So do so, on your own, and we'll all be a lot happier. Even you. And, despite what you think, I really do want you to be happy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poop

I thought long and hard about what to call this post. In the end, I figured I'd just go with Honesty.

Poop is a given on a farm of any kind. Critters just don't understand toileting like people do. Horse owners, like us, are often called Pilots. That's because we pile It here, we pile It there...you get the idea! On our little hobby farm, we have quite the collection of poop. And we do collect it. We have no choice!

We have three compost piles next to the barn. We have one in the horse pasture. And we have one above the garden.

The ones next to the barn are actually one pile, divided. In the first section, we have the brand-spankin'-new, just outta the critter poop. When that gets full, we dump it into the second section, turning it as we do so. Turning compost allows air into it, which speeds the decomposition process. (If you want to learn more about composting, here's a reasonable place.) When it's sat there for a few months, we dump it into the third section, where the composting process finishes. We usually then pull that compost out of the third section, dumping it on the garden or flowerbeds and leaving section 3 open again for the stuff from section 2, when it's ready. We move compost to the garden or flowerbeds in the spring and fall.

The compost pile in the horse pasture is turned in "halves," moving it a little bit forward as we do so. Then it, too, goes on the garden or flowerbeds.

The pile above the garden is a stationary thing. I've been tossing weeds, trimmings and prunings back there for a while. Since our garden is at the bottom of a short slope, I'd like to build up the back a bit so I can build some sort of retaining wall. As it is, right now, mowing back there is difficult; the mower ends up slanted. A riding mower can't always handle going up the slope. So I have longer grass and weeds beginning to take up permanent residence there, and, then, encroaching into the garden. I thought if I piled vegetable garbage and poop back there, soil would eventually form. Then I could dig into it a bit, build that retaining wall, and continue putting yard refuse there until it was a level surface for mowing. My evil plot seems to be working. This summer or next I'll be able to put in that wall.

And that, dear reader, is the story of poop at our farm. I hope you enjoyed it!