Monday, January 30, 2006

What Have I Been Up To?

Well, nothing and everything, really. I spent a lot of time in planning meetings this week - all volunteer and all looking like I will be losing my personal time and donating my talents without compensation. I must learn to say "no" at some point.

Saturday was quite lovely and I spent most of the day outside. I'm still trying to rid the drive of the mountain of mulch. One dump truck can hold a lot of mulch, in case you were wondering. The balmy weather has got me in the mind for spring, even though I realize it can snow at any moment. But, make hay while the sun shines, not that I'm making hay - just cleaning out beds and making things look all tidy. The weather has caused the crocus to start coming up.

I'm rambling as I've had about an hour of sleep. The Monkey was up all night (and I do mean all night) with an earache. She has finally passed out on the sofa at about 6 o'clock this morning. I'm waiting for her doctor's office to open so I can schedule a visit today. Her ear drum ruptured once last year and I'm worried it may do the same again. Poor thing.

I am making a new new year's resolution to post more regularly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's another unnaturally nice, warm day here in the mountains. When I took monkey to school this morning I heard the forecast for tomorrow and it sounds like we may get some snow. I should enjoy the day while I can. I got home, started to pour some coffee and the phone rang. It was Monkey's teacher. Monkey wasn't feeling too well. So I climbed back in the car and headed back to civilization to pick up Monkey. She's now in her pajamas, lounging and drinking grape juice.

As I was mentioning on the spring planning I forgot to mention livestock. By livestock, I mean poultry. I need to buy an incubator this week. Monkey's class is getting ready to start a unit on birds and we're going to hatch some of the chicken eggs. I'm also getting an order ready with a few friends for new chicks. I would like some Buff Orpingtons, a few more Wyandottes, a Speckled Sussex or two, and a couple of Ameraucanas (they lay blue eggs!). Most of the others want the Ameraucanas or Araucanas. I have a friend with Buff Orpingtons who has offered me eggs (another reason to purchase an incubator). Big Daddy wants turkeys, geese and ducks. I think the geese and ducks are mainly a reason for him to build a pond. I said an outright NO to the suggestion of Peacocks. Several of the hatcheries offer "farmyard" packages of a couple of turkeys, a goose or two and several ducks, but I'm not sure if I get to pick what breeds - and I do tend to be particular. So, our animal menagerie will by growing. Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I spent a damp Saturday afternoon going through seed and nursery catalogs and making lists. Long lists. Planning for spring is such a sweet thing. We will continue with the staple things, but are throwing in a few oddities and new things to try. The potatoes did so well last year that they will of course have space in the garden this year. I'm going to try some blue ones for fun. Sweet potatoes are going in. Big Daddy has become addicted to the colored carrots I've found at the market, so we will try some of our own instead of our normal plain orange ones. I'm planning on trying an African variety of cowpea from Burkina Faso along with the highly succesful black-eyed pea I've been planting. I want to add some Jacob's Cattle beans as well. We are cutting out most of the cole crops this year. They never do too well. I think I'll save some room for broccoli though.

I want to cut back on the tomatoes, but realize that probably won't happen as I'm ordering seeds and will pick up some great heirlooms from our local nursery as well. A semi-serious plot of corn will be added (I started ours much too late last year and only ended up with five ears). I'm adding sorrel and jerusalem artichokes. That leaves room for sweet peas, lettuce, arugula, kale, carrots, radishes, green beans, wax beans, sweet peppers, hot peppers, beets, cucumbers, various flowers, and whatever else comes our way.

We are also ordering a couple of cherry trees, a fig and some apples to add to the start of our orchard. It's going to be a busy spring.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cruel & Unusual Tricks To Play On Preschoolers

Innocently store the dogs' rawhide chews in a Christmas cookie tin. Then when the unwitting tot sneaks into the pantry to steal a cookie she will come out to you with tears in her big blue eyes and say, "That's not fair!" True story.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Here's Maggie!

Were you worried? I've been so busy. We spent last week in Baltimore and enjoyed life in the Big City for a bit. As Big Daddy summed it up our first day as we walked down a wet and foggy street, "I know what I miss about living in the city.... It's that smell!" Monkey and I enjoyed ourselves at the National Aquarium and the Baltimore Science Center. She has a thing for sharks and dinosaurs. Something needs to balance out the princess obsession, I guess. Although crabs were out of season, we enjoyed other seafood and ate heartily.

We returned on Friday night. Two of my oldest and dearest friends - let's call them Buffy and Chowderhead - arrived here on Friday as well. So I spent the weekend showing them around town and doing the tourist thing. It was quite fun to see them. Chowderhead just finished her doctorate. So now we can just call her Doc Chow. It was a fun girls' weekend. We did allow Big Daddy to join us for dinner. After all, he did cook it for us one night.

Biscuit is doing quite well. I've taken her cone head off and she gets her stitches removed tomorrow. I'm also talking to a lawyer friend about what sort of options I have for revenge, er I mean justice. Because of a few unruly neighborhood dogs I'm out all sorts of money and I've had enough.

And for all of you here's a shot of this morning's sunrise.

Monday, January 09, 2006

What's the Worst?

This is. Poor little Biscuit the Wonder Dog once again had a run-in with a neighborhood bully. This time for the last time. She is quite well. The only problem (besides the drain on my bank account) is that we are leaving town tomorrow for a visit to Baltimore. While my good friend T. will be taking care of the other animals, Biscuit will be lounging at the veterinarian's swanky kennel. That way they can take out the drain they had to put into the wound on her flank. Poor B.

Staying true to my New Year's resolution to be kind, I kindly informed the bad dog's owner that he would be receiving a bill, plus the last bill from April, plus the bill for the chickens that were slaughtered in July (he has the previous bills, but never got around to paying them, ahem...). He would be receiving these from my lawyer. It's not as if I actually keep a lawyer on retainer, I just happen to have several for friends and family - which is even better. I didn't even raise my voice - I let Big Daddy take care of that part.

So, apart from that drama and the fact that I was peeing blood (another story - let me just tell you that I am taking lots of drugs and doing much better, thank you) I am looking forward to a few days in a big city with family to show me around. Big Daddy will be spending his day in a conference full of landscape designers and architects and salesmen (ho hum). Monkey and I will be spending our days at the aquarium and the science museum, eating crab and taking long lunches with my favorite cousin.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Chicken Update

Little Hen has returned to the flock. She seemed quite happy to be back in the great outdoors. I was tempted to sit her on the couch just once, but decided that might be foolish. I did paint her toenails purple before I put her back with the other chickens. That's not quite as foolish as it sounds. You see, she looks just like all the other Dominique hens and I wanted to be able to tell her apart quickly so I could check on her progress. She's doing well and I imagine the fashionable nail color (monkey's choice) will fade away with time.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A New Year

Yesterday was a perfectly lovely day. The weather was practically balmy. I set outside in an adirondack chair and fed the chickens popcorn. That was about as much activity as I could handle. You see, my body seems to be rejecting one or both of my lungs. The awful virus Big Daddy brought home just before Christmas has nearly wiped me out. After four days I am feeling better though. Today the weather has changed and I'm sitting inside watching clouds roll up and down the valley.

I thought a little bit about what I would like to do this coming year. So here's a quick rundown.

1. I would like to learn a new skill. Something I haven't done before.

2. I would like to become more self-sufficient around the household. Grow more produce, can more things... I'd like to be able to do more with less this year.

3. I plan on being kind. I normally try to be, but there seems to be a lack of kindness and respect in the world these days. I'll make it my little mission to change things when I can.

4. I am planning to read one new interesting book a month - any topic, fact or fiction.

5. I am planning on one new painting a month as well. More would be better, but we'll start with an attainable goal.

6. And finally, I will get rid of the unwanted and increasingly nasty roosters.

I've been addressing #2. I started a natural yeast sourdough starter yesterday. Nothing too exciting on that yet. Also, Big Daddy had a lot of leftover fat as he was preparing uncountable pounds of brisket for the smoker. I rendered down the fat and am going to make my own suet cakes for the wild birdies today. I think I have enough to keep the nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers and titmice happy for a month or two.