Monthly Archives: June 2012

Hot

It is hot. It was hot last year, but not like this. Or at least our life wasn’t like this. Last year we had nothing to do. We could lay around and sweat and be alright. This year is different. We have animals and they MUST be taken care of. We are going on our fourth day of heat advisories. You know, where they tell you to rest and stay in air conditioning. To check on your neighbors and make sure you are drinking enough water. There is a problem with drinking too much water though… I made up some electrolyte drink, we are all getting dizzy and light headed. It seems to be helping a little bit. We have all been eating bananas and oranges. No one is really hungry, it is too much work to digest food right now.

Very sadly we lost twelve chickens on Thursday. We made sure they had water, they had shade, but there is only so much you can do. Especially when you don’t have fans you can plug in to cool them off with. Yesterday about every hour we hauled and dumped a few gallons of cool pond water in a corner of each coops shade. They could get their feet wet and it cooled it off a little in there. We also had wind, which we did not have on Thursday. I wish I had done the water on Thursday, but by the time i realized how bad it was, I don’t think there was any saving the ones we lost. I am sorely missing my langshans. I was so happy with them and excited to see how they would do. And now they are gone. Gwendy cried, they were her favorites also. The sheep seem to be doing alright, we have been hauling so much water the past few days it is crazy. We are tired and hot and exhausted, dizzy. There are many words we could use to describe how it is going.

And yet, a phrase keeps going through my head. We started school again and it is going well, slow on these hot days where we must take breaks to cool off in the pond or go cool off animals, but going well. Part of our work is to read stories and the girls take turns paraphrasing the story. Natalie paraphrased yesterdays story. Her last line was “He felt rewarded, even though he face many difficulties.” I have to say that every time I haul water and throw it at chickens and see them not panting anymore I feel a gladness in my heart. Seeing the animals up and moving around and dealing with the heat makes me feel good. I feel so awful about the twelve we lost. I wish I could go back and do that day over. I am not sure if it would have helped, but I feel like I could have done more.

We haven’t gotten any work done on the cabin. It is just too hot. It is too hot at night even. It looks like we should get some relief soon, at least it won’t be in the 100s, just in the mid 90s. Hopefully the breeze stays, it can make a huge difference in how things feel. Hopefully we can get back to work and not just running around making sure our animals aren’t dying.

So send some cool thoughts this way. I thought I would update to let everyone know how we are doing in this weather. It is rough. We will make it though. It looks like I have to do some more research on chicken breeds. figure out what breeds will do best here. We are so hot in the summer and decently cold in the winter. There has to be something though. I will find it. I hope wherever you are you are staying cool and comfortable.

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Slowly going faster

I just used that in a response on facebook and it just really describes how things are going. Kind of. I did skip a week. I am sorry. I tried to write and I just couldn’t. Things have been so slow for me it is depressing. The animals are great. We got our four sheep and we are complete now. It is just something about how things are going though. We just got our curriculum yesterday and today we started up school again. Things are just slow and have been slow for awhile now. For ME. I find that I need a few things going on to manage my time right. If there is just a couple of things I tend to just not do any of them. It is a really big fault of mine I know. I also tend to get a little depressed. Le sigh

So for me, while keeping the puppies behaving helps. Training them according to their age helps. The rest of the animals however are taken care of in a a very short while and mostly by the girls. I want them to have this responsibility. It is good for them. I feel like I am juggling to a point and most of the things I am juggling are things that I am not doing. The cabin is Jack’s. Yes, I help. It is really driven home how much I help when I go in to make dinner and get called out three times in a half hour. It is still not what I consider real help though. Yes, it would take so much more time if I didn’t hand Jack up nails, screws or pick up the hammer. No, it wouldn’t go THAT much faster if I was up there hammering or whatnot with him. Still, it is hard for me to FEEL like I am helping.

Jack’s parents came to help this past week though and we got a lot done. The flooring was put in, the walls stood up and and flooring started on the loft area. It is really nice to see how it is all going. A friend here told me that once the piers are in, it goes much faster. Another friend told me that it seems to go faster, but does it really? I understand that now. Yes, walls and floors are good and it is a lot of progress but there is still so much. I don’t doubt we will have a comfortable cabin to live during winter. I have a little more faith now. This was really hard for me when there were just a few concrete piers in the ground. I am hopefully going to upload some pictures to flickr and post a link on here so you can see the progress.

Also, while Jack’s parents were here we had land day! Yea!!! It is odd sometimes to think of land day last year. For those who do not know, land day is when a community celebrates the start of their community. It is usually the day that the acquired the land. It is a big deal and a big party. Chad made pizzas. We went earlier in the day to help cut up toppings. Other community members helped during the making and baking part of the pizzas. We made 15 gallons of popcorn again, we did this last land day also. There was a tour before the party where people got to come and see what we have done in the past year. That is really neat. Since this is our first year as members well it was nice to talk to people about what we have done so far and what we are planning on. It was really hard however to not be working on the cabin. Everyone needs a break though, right?

The weather has not been helping us much either. It has been hot and is going to continue to be so. Hot, hot hot. Hot. At least we have a wind today and hopefully for the rest of the time it is going to be hot. A wind can mean the difference between sweating your ass off and being at least not miserable. That is one thing that I wonder how much will change once we have walls. Tent walls still let in the breeze.

That brings me to all of our grand plans. Geez, when I think of it, it all seems so easy. Yet everything takes so much time. Time is not something we have in abundance. Not with Jack working. Le sigh again. We hope though, at some point in time, to have a porch on the east, west and north sides of the cabin. That should help a little if it is too hot. Also, there should be a greenhouse attached to the south side eventually, which will help with heating in the winter. There is also the dock that needs to happen eventually. I really do mean need. It may sound like a luxury, but here a pond is not just a body of water. It is where you get water, to water your livestock, wash your clothes and yourself. The edges of our pond is covered in cattails. Great, but not so when you need to get a bucket of water out. It is also very muddy. Great, okay never great. It kind of negates the point of going into the pond to wash up 🙂 Anyway,there are more things too, I don’t want to get into all the things we thought we would get done this year. The most important thing is that we have a place to live come winter. That is where our focus is right now and that is where it will stay.

I do have to admit that I got shivers when we were raising walls. Deciding where windows were going to be. Stair placement. It was really amazing to be deciding these things. To have a house that is OURS! No, it isn’t exactly what we want, what we want costs more money than we have. But we are still making these decisions and it is exciting. It was neat to think about how the bathroom would be and the kitchen area. It is also hard work to come up with something that we both want. Damn, compromising is hard sometimes. For the most part I think we have it down, we are usually both decent about letting things go. I think my biggest problem is that some of the things I want are not structurally sound. I think that frustrates Jack. What do you mean, we can’t just fly to the loft? I don’t want stair, nor a ladder, nor anything that impedes the main floor. And yet there is a loft that needs some way to get up to it. Yes, I can be that difficult. That is okay, I did consent to stairs, they will have storage built into them and I will live with something that I can’t move around.

It is really windy now. Crazy wind. Really crazy wind. It is also hot. SO while the wind may be making the tent a mess, I am not going to complain. Things can always be worse. I will deal with the wind so as not to have sweat streaming down my face. School is going well today. We are taking the first day slow. They have had a month off. They were all so eager to start though. Oddly, after so many years of not wanting to do anything, except learn to spell her name, Gwendy wants to start first grade. I am not sure about that yet. She is so young. Maybe tomorrow. I told her that she can’t just tell me in the middle of the day. We need to prepare things. I asked for until Monday but that did not make her happy. So tomorrow.

and now pictures!!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/87708435@N00/sets/72157630316710686/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/87708435@N00/sets/72157630316680374/

Tent life

Jack and I were talking a few days ago about how some people romanticize our life. OOOOOO, they live in a TENT!! They are living the life they want. Doing everything they want and it must be the most fantastic thing ever!!! I find this view kind of funny. These people have obviously never lived in a tent for more than a couple of weeks. Not like many people do or have. It isn’t all bad either. I have said on numerous occasions that I will miss our tent a lot. I will. However, tent life is not all fun.

So I was reminded of this last night as it was going to rain last night. We don’t really have windows, we have screens. We have clear plastic thingies that we velcro to the screens and there are tent material thingies that can roll down over those. We actually need those up for the most part so we have light. Light is important as we don’t really have electricity, not for lighting at least. So last night, just in case it rained we spent about twenty minutes putting up the clear plastic velcro thingies. These are kind of a pain. It isn’t something you want to do in the middle of the night while it just started pouring. Though we have done that, mostly because sometimes you really need rain and you don’t want to jinx things. You leave the laundry on the barbed wire and your windows uncovered. Then you are sure to get rain. Jack also had to go around and tighten all the ropes, just in case it got windy also. How many of you have to go make sure that your living area is tightened to the ground? It makes you feel secure, I can tell you that.

Today while trying to pick up and clean up, again Damage Control Monday, I noticed something else that bugs me. OSB floors really attract a lot of debris. Grass, sticks, dirt. It doesn’t sweep up well either. Wouldn’t be so bad except sometimes my lovely children drop my yarn on the floor. It then picks up all this crap. Not fun.

<Want to talk about bugs? We don't have doors. Oh okay, we have zipped doors, though one of our broke this year. It doesn't zip anymore on one side. And it doesn't unzip on the other, isn't that funny? lol So we have our doors open most of the time, in the heat we pretty much have to. Which means BUGS!!! Flies are the worst. Oh I know they don't bite. They are gross however. They also land on you and bug the crap out of you. Really, they do. The mosquitoes are also not nice. What is really not nice is lighting your oil lamp at night so you can read and having moths and other flying critters jump in your face the entire time you are reading. It is slightly distracting. They are also really BIG and they scare me. I live though. I like to read at night.

I have to admit that none of this really bothers me. As we are in our second year of tent life, well not much bugs me. I admit that I would change some things if I could. This isn’t a oh poor me post. This is a, before you think we have it so great, think again, we live in a TENT!!! wake up person. My husband still has to have a job so we can get started. Having one person work while getting started is crap. It is either you have the money or you have the time. You don’t get both. It sucks. Yeah we are doing what we want, to a point. Yes, we are living our dream or at least getting to that. Jack working was never part of the dream. But we are doing what we can. Life, however, is not any easier on us than it is on anyone else. I think to a point what we are doing is so far removed from what people normally do that people don’t quite know how to respond. We get things like, “Oh I could never do that. I could never live like that” to “Oh! I SO wish I could live like you!! Your life must be so GREAT!!!” It is humorous really.

I also admit that I have never really come out and said these points before because I am hopeful that SOME DAY SOMEONE will VISIT us! One day, right? Can’t make it sound too bad.

This is early for my usual post but I will give a farm update. Three quarters of our posts for the cabin are in. Jack is hopeful that he will be able to get the rest in today after work. His parents are coming to visit(someone does visit us) and to help with the cabin. The help is appreciated. Hey, if you want to come and help I will FEED YOU!! My food is worth having to deal with bugs and such. We got two livestock dogs, puppies. They are still awhile away from guarding anything. Still, it is a step. Since we want them to be okay with things like chickens, cats, sheep and goats. Really a variety of things, including children we wanted to get them young. They are cute. We did sell all of our saanens. That was nice. They all went to one woman and I have faith that they went to a good home. So we are mostly down to the goats we want. We will be picking up our shetlands hopefully soon and our farm is then, for the most part probably for this year, complete. Nice to know.

I am going to leave you with this little bit. It rained last night. I am happy it rained, we needed it. I am slightly unhappy for our lack of sunshine though. I cannot turn the freezer on yet. Hell I can barely have internet on yet. But one thing that I really hate, is that it is a gloomy damage control Monday and all I want is ice cream. We cannot store ice cream though, since we have to turn the freezer off every night. But it is alright. One day. One day, there won’t be damage control Mondays, because Jack won’t be working anymore. We won’t have to do EVERYTHING on the weekends and get nothing done in the house(tent). One day maybe I won’t need ice cream to make life seem more cheery than it currently is. One day, things will be better in some ways and worse in others. I am trying to find the happiness and balance in my good and bad right now.

Why is it June?

Seriously? How did this happen?

Things have been going here. I can’t believe how time is flying though. It is also weird for me because I am not a gardener. Really, I am SO NOT. My idea of gardening includes throwing seeds in the air and letting them land where they may. Sending out well wishes and growing prayers. And then they usually die. Yes, I subscribe to the fantasy of growing things. The romantic gardening. Things need to be started at the certain time? You have to water them? Cover seeds after you plant them? Huh? Really? But I am sending magic out with them, they will grow!! No they won’t. Oh I use to have a wonderful house plant collection, until my cats ate them all, rolled in them and started to use them as litter boxes. This was mostly Kali. Love her and miss her. She did stop me from growing things though.

I have been gardening this year though. I have asked Jack for what I am supposed to do though. Still sending out that green magic but also covering little seeds and watering them. It amazes me still that things are growing. Maybe we will actually have a harvest this year. The girls are helping, of course. Sometimes telling me that I am crazy and you are supposed to do it this way. I should be happy that they are more practical gardeners like their father. I am trying to spread some magic in there though. It did warm my heart though yesterday as Natalie asked to go collect some grasses to try and weave and she told me, “Don’t worry Mom, I will thank the earth as I collect them” I think having respect for the earth and what it does for us is important. To be grateful and thankful. This isn’t just us. If you look at it this way, we are the only species that has to do work planting our food and growing it to survive. We can’t just go around collecting berries and nuts and eating grass. It doesn’t work that way for us. We should at least be mindful of that.

I think we are also to the point where we won’t be adding on any more animals. Which is nice. Our meat chickens have started to crow. Soon there will be a mass chicken harvesting as we narrow their numbers down to trios. We might save a few of the hens to replace some egg layers. We will see how they go. Our layers are doing well. The easter egger just started laying, we get blue eggs from her. I don’t know why but having colored eggs just makes your day brighter. We are working up to just past 50% laying rate. I expect this will go up as more start laying. I want to shoot for at least 85%.

We will be selling our saanens. They were just to get us through milking our baby goats. I am kinda happy to see these girls go. I liked them and all. They were sweet and 27 is a super gentle milker. I just am not so fond of the breed. They have done amazing work clearing out our pond damn though. Really these girls rock and I am hopeful they will go to a good home. We did find three more lamanchas, part of the reason for selling the saanens now. Two are most likely pregnant. I am loving these girls. They are sweet, though they were really skittish when we got them. One poor girl lost her babies back in January. The lady milked her for a bit but then just stopped. We have had to help her through some mastitis. It was pretty bad. She is clearing up though and getting better. The babies, oh the babies. They are getting so big. They really didn’t know what to think of the bigger girls coming in. That is also what made me realize how big our babies are getting. Billy is almost as tall as them. I am so happy that we have lovey goats. You go into the pen and they all crowd around you wanting some scratches. It is sweet.

The baby sheep are also coming around and being sweet. Joscelin, the male, is by far the sweetest. It really is something to feel all that amazing wool on an animal who wants to cuddle with you. If you are feeling sad by far the best place to go is to the pen and love on animals and have them love on you. It makes you realize why animal therapy works so well. We are trying some new sheep. Oh I hope they get better. They have never been fed grain and have pretty much let be wild. They are crazy wild. I have been going into their pen every day and just sitting and talking to them. They will be my coarse wool breed, and possibly milkers. They just had their babies taken off and they have great bags. I am not thinking I will be able to milk them this time though. All efforts to make them love me so far have failed. They don’t like alfalfa or apples. I am going to keep trying though. My shetlands are ready to be picked up any time now. So that will be the end of the sheep for now. I am excited to meet these guys.

The piggies!!! Oh the piggies. We actually got two feeders from the same guy with wild sheep. We put them in with the goats and sheep so they can teach the pigs to eat grass. Oh my goodness. They are cute. I have never been horribly fond of pigs, bacon and sausage yes, pigs no. I do admire their ability to turn just about anything into bacon and sausage, but they just aren’t the cute cuddly animals I like. The baby pigs though ARE CUTE!!! And even cuter because they like to hang out with the sheep. The sheep don’t really know what to do about this but they are tolerating it. Really, if I were a pig, or at least anything small and I could curl into a sheep, I totally would. Sigh, smart piggies!!! The breeding pair we have pretty much given up on. We have been checking for signs of heat and signs of pregnancy and haven’t seen them. However, today I went out, while spending my morning with the wild sheep, and noticed that very possibly the sow was pregnant. I didn’t say anything about this as I came inside. I wanted to wait a few days. Very much so like when you expect that you are pregnant, you want to keep the knowledge just in case you aren’t right. A few hours later though they girls went to try and coax the wild sheep into eating parts of their apples(didn’t work). They came dancing back inside saying that they think the sow is pregnant!!! So two counts for possible pregnancy. By the way, in case you are wondering, the way you tell is if the clitoral hood of the sow is pointing up. Down means not pregnant, up means pregnant. What a nice little pregnancy indicator, eh? We will see though. I do feel slightly bad that we just keep going out there and checking out her back side. I am sure we have given her a complex by now…

So that is an update on all of our animals. It feels so nice having them all. It is wonderful. The garden is slow going, but things are growing. It has to do with magic. Really, I truly believe that if ANYTHING that I put in the ground is growing it has to be magic. 🙂 We have broke ground, for the second time, on the cabin. Looking forward to living in a house, our own house. It has been a few years. Though like I have mentioned many times, sad that we won’t be living in a tent anymore. I think we might leave it up. I love looking outside at everything. I have these moments when I look around at all the amazingness around me and am overwhelmed with this feeling of joy. We are doing it. We are living our dream. No, it isn’t all happiness and sunshine, but those moments so outweigh the clouds and ickiness. Life is good. I think writing in this blog really helps me to see that. I am trying to write every week. When I look back at the week I really do see mostly sunshine(would like a little bit of rain here though). The only thing that would make me happier now, is having the cabin being built!!! I am so impatient about this. I think a lot of it has to do with my inability to build. I also so just don’t understand it. I just have to trust that one day, one day, we will be more settled than living in a tent.

Pictures

I can’t seem to get blogger to get my damn pictures up here. So I uploaded some onto flickr here they are. This took way more time and effort than it should have, but oh well, enjoy. You can tell me how much this made your day and maybe make me feel like I did something productive, kay? http://www.flickr.com/photos/87708435@N00/sets/72157630000729310/ yes I know April is missing, I know I have pictures from this month, just can’t find them. There are lots more to upload also, I will get there one day. http://www.flickr.com/photos/87708435@N00/sets/72157630000800154/

Thankful

There are lots of things to be thankful for.

I had this habit of while trying to fall asleep at night I would try to think of all the things I was truly thankful for. Nothing was thought of that didn’t have meaning and feeling behind it. I tried to truly feel the gratitude that I had for these things. It was a great way to fall asleep. Remember, I think I wrote a few posts back that I have issues with insomnia. Well, I don’t have that issue anymore. I fall into bed at nine and have a hard time staying awake enough to read to the girls. Not to mention I haven’t read a book for myself in a few weeks at least. So now, due to Jack’s inability to wake up in the morning, the first alarm goes off and we cuddle for at least 15 minutes, or maybe more depending on how many times he hits snooze. I won’t let it go more than a half hour though because I need to go milk. Anyway, I have been taking this time now to think of the things I am grateful for. Jack being a big one, and the girls. I am thankful for Esme and Oreo even if they do leave mouse parts the mice are dead. While I am walking around and I see a dead mouse I know they are doing their work. Hopefully they are finding it fulfilling. I am thankful for Huck, even being as old as he is, doing little things around here. I am thankful for all the living things that make up this farm. It is pretty amazing

Yesterday we got rain. It has been very dry so far this year. Weird hot temperature and well not nearly enough rain. Okay, if you remember that back in April I actually was wondering if the rain was going to stop. I try to never wish for different weather, you might just get what you ask for and it may not be what is needed. I try to trust that the weather that is needed is what will happen. Anyway, it has been dry. But we got rain yesterday and even if it was super cold, we never hit 60, it was a good thing. We had a fire going throughout the day. We didn’t have much in the way of power, it was cloudy all day. I was able to turn things on a few times and check email and such but that was it. No freezer yesterday either. We all woke up and Natalie and I milked. We got back in and the girls and I did some more chores. Then everybody climbed back into bed. It was cold and we were wet. I declared it go back to bed morning. So we did, we all went back to sleep. We had been up for over an hour but we all went back to sleep. It felt good. Gwendy woke up though and made me get up and make her food. It was alright though, it was after ten.

So I am thankful for that chance to go back to sleep and have a lazier morning. That is why we get rain sometimes, or it is unseasonably cold or hot. There is still work to do, but it really does force you to stop and slow down. It can be insanely frustrating at times though

Right now I am having some hard times with frustratingness. I can take care of the animals. It is all good. For the most part I feel like I am doing something. However our cabin has yet to be started. And that is frustrating. I am not a builder. I thought at one point that maybe I could make a simple chicken coop. Guess what, I can’t. Really. I tried. I really did. Putting things together like that just doesn’t work for me. So I am thankful for Jack who can do things like that. Maybe it has a lot to do with my hatred of geometry. I don’t know. Really, I just remember Jack flirting with me during geometry but he must have been paying attention at some point. We are hoping to start on some parts of the cabin this weekend.

Sometimes also things happen. I found some old cages on craigslist. No more having to worry about making more chicken coops. We have to alter them a little, but they saved us money and time. The baby chickens really needed to be separated. So now they are at least a little. And they will be more probably this weekend. It is nice. We are still having issues with Megan, formally known as Houdini. She is still getting out a lot. Hopefully, she starts to weigh too much to jump the fence. Our babies are almost weaned too. Ella Kate is expected to give birth any day now. We have her separated from the other goats because she was not wanting to be near anyone else. the babies that are only about six weeks old, but being fed on mamma milk, are as big or bigger than our bottle babies that are three months old. Our lambs are thriving and getting huge. Kind of crazy to see everyone growing up.

You know, it is easy to be thankful, sometimes though for me at least, it is hard to live in the moment and not be thinking about how it will be in a few months or years. After my first winter with animals in Washington I realize that things don’t slow down in the winter, not when you have animals. Maybe it is also because I am older that time seems to move that much faster. Winter is no break. It does no good to look forward to a point where things will slow down, they don’t. I have to ask myself many times if I really want things to slow down. Just like now when I think oh it will be so much easier when we have a house! Will it really? I am not sure. I need to just live and be and keep being thankful for my family and all the wonderful things that are in my life.