Monday, December 17, 2012

Healing hands, cautionary agnostic polytheism, hand made rugs, three eggs a day

To live an artisan lifestyle...one must have hands.  Most of you reading this know that I  injured both of my hands in the move to our  new place.  The injuries effectively put me in  a place that I have difficulty tolerating.... The  'do nothing' space.   I barely scraped by  during  this last summer with a  minimum of canning  and gardening. (see the tears hear) Painting, textile work, sewing, making soap,  archery, wine making,  writing, all were put off for a time to let  healing happen.   I spent the summer panning for gold (insert giggle) mostly that was a good excuse to keep my hands submerged in cold water all day.  Even reading was difficult because I couldn't hold a book  for  enough time to read a few pages. Much needed work around the house didn't get done.  Then... in October my hands started getting better.  They probably  would have been better sooner but I stubbornly persisted in denying that I had a serious injury that would not heal   without complete rest.    In October I could see results . By November I could hold a crochet needle again .   Using very thick cotton  yarn (thank you weaving works in the u district) I have completed  5  throw rugs for the house.   When I say completed  I mean.... I had a bunch of half finished throw rugs that were yelling at me from last February.   Those are all done and I am slowly working on a 6th.  I saw a really good Victorian style hearth rug on Etsy that I want to make but I need Feral Jane to sit down with me and show me  a couple of stitches that I haven't mastered yet.  Feral Jane can be pretty hard to  get to these days.  She landed her dream job  and has been self indulgently going to work 5 days a week and insists that on Sundays she needs to stay home and do laundry... that is ...when  she is not headed down south to make sure her aging mother has enough cat food to feed all the strays she takes in.  So, I have to wait until she can pencil me in to her busy schedule.  It could be a while before I get a lesson in how to create a large flat circle.
Our chicken world is pretty quiet right now.  We are getting a manageable two or three eggs a day.  The girls aren't getting up until about 8 am and they are in bed by 4:30.  With that little light, I am surprised we are getting any eggs at all.  The shortest day of the year is next week and then the light will be coming back.  I'm good with that.  Not that this winter has been bad its actually an improvement over years past.    Jimmy and I have offset the grey rainy days and cold nights by  sitting by the fireside  in the living room, in the evenings, chatting about nothing. drinking something warm ...and of course...spiked.  We have prepped for the holidays,  We have a decorated  evergreen  tree in one corner with new lights (yes, we finally bought new lights)  Jimmy made a lovely wreath for the door  to keep away the evil spirits of old.  He made it from cedar,pine and three kinds of holly from our overgrown property.  We put a lovely brass menorah in the front window, and a wreath of evergreens  on the statue of Bastet and threw a cupcake in the stream.  (our new neighbors are so confused.  You can see the questions in their eyes.... but they are too polite to ask outright.  Which is good, because  it is really hard to explain to people of  strong  'one faith'  ...cautionary agnostic polytheism)  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Goodbye sprint! No TV, No Jelly, No Apples, No Eggs

I'm posting because I need to, not because I have anything pressing to say. We have been surprisingly busy.  When not working I'm trying to figure out how to get more jams and jellies  to Jimmy's Mom. 'parently... I have quite a fan base  for my 'homemades' in Las Vegas! Trouble is ... I'm running out of product.  The seedless raspberry jelly made with turbinado was a really big hit. We are 6 months away from raspberry season.  I'll have to plan better next year.  I managed to get a few apples off the tree  a week or so ago and yesterday I made little apple pies.  They were little because I was making Cornish pasties and had some dough crust left over... I sliced the apples, marinated them in turbinado and rolled them in crust and baked them.  Jimmy loved them and wanted more.  The back story here is that I have been pestering jimmy...for weeks...  to  get the apples off the tree  for me  before it was too late.  (really tall tree....really short me).  Now he wants apple pie and there are no more apples! Once again...better planning needed.  My old girls  are moulting and the new ones are barely laying.  There just isn't enough light, but with 10 chickens I still haven't needed  grocery store eggs.   Two more weeks till the shortest day of the year and then the light will start coming back.
Now, of course, we are in the middle of the Chrisoween season, which hasn't been too bad this year. I give credit to month 10 of NO tv.  In fact,  everything is better with no tv.  That generalized anxiety that comes from living with a hypercritical, manic, manipulative  asshole...is gone.  There is no tv in our house telling us  what kind of losers we are for not buying the right product.  Jimmy and I are both loving it.  We get so much done!  Oh...and we like each other so much more.
But we don't like sprint.  It came home really hard this last month that we both need smart phones for work.  We went into sprint yesterday to get a couple of galaxies and a data plan. We were prepared to hand over our money for two new telephones and  pay more every month.  We were told  'NO!'.  We are not eligible for an upgrade until July.  Seriously?  What kind of business tells customers  "No, we will not sell you a product or service". "NO!... We do not want your money!"  ... Oh well... come July they will ALLOW us to buy their product.  But, Surprise! We are going to quietly wait out our contract and vote with our wallets and go to someone else for our communications needs...And never look back!  Seriously, How does a business model like that work?  In the mean time... I will just pick up a small, cheap wifi tablet and  keep that with me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Working, catching up, chickens, crazy politics

I've been shooting a tv show.  Loooong  hours. Much fun. But shooting in the rain and cold having given me  another god awful cold. The last day on set I kept a water bottle full of emergen-C.  While I was away playing at actor lots of things happened.  Jimmy held down the fort.  Meaning he took care of the chickens and the cats.  He didn't do it right the first day and the chickens charged him.  Had to explain that they are adamant about their morning snack. And when its  cold and crappy  they want a hot breakfast!  He  started giving them a morning snack but he refuses to cook for them.  He says they are just chickens!
While I was gone.... Twinkies were flying off grocery store shelves.  Not because twinkies are amazing but because its looks like they will soon be gone.  I should be more sad about this but I'm not.  Little Debbies are cheaper and taste just like  hostess products. "Quality ." is a non issue here.
The election is over.  It seems while I was working that several big republican players had public meltdowns because they couldn't believe  the republicans lost.  Some  pundit in L.A. has already endorsed Sarah Palin for 2016.  To my close, personal republican friends....... You folks are gonna have to step up and get involved.    To many crazies are too high profile in your party. Why would any one endorse a nut case like Palin when Chris Christie has shown  America what he can do in a major crisis. He took care of ALL of his people.  And then he captured the hearts of Americans all over the country by telling  the talking heads to STFU.  Of course I'm a crazy myself.  I think we  should pass a new law that all presidential candidates  should have someone from a different party as their running mate.  'Course that might increase presidents having accidents, but we  really do need to do something to bring politicians into the middle.
Texas wants to secede from the union.  ....again......  Texas has been doing this off and on since they joined the union in 1845.  Every time they don't get their way they throw a temper fit.  Can we just buy a cake and a plant and have a farewell party? 
I haven't even bothered with the Petraus  humpty dance.  Its  not worth the time to catch up on the back story.  I don't care.
The holidays are upon us (and we all know how I feel about the holidays).  The only good thing about the holidays is that they mean the sun will soon come back.  We can start planning our  garden in January, building cold frames, conditioning the soil and getting ready for the best time of the year.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

We've got history, I will not get attached

You all read  the tragic story of poor little Hashtag.  You all know I was broken hearted and determined to never get that attached to a chicken again.  Most of you also know that I was planning on culling the ancient reds this fall because their days of good production are far,far behind them. There is the dilemma.  One of the ancient reds  has had a personality change.  Last month she went into a hard molt.  Her feathers fell out and her comb shriveled.  This is normal for  any hen over a year old.  They do it once a year.   For some reason  this molt took a normally cranky and aggressive hen and made her needy and clingy.... to me. She hangs around the door  calling me and waiting for me to come out.  When I throw out food, she doesn't rush to be first to grab up all the good stuff anymore.  She  now stands at my feet and  waits for me to hand feed her.  She WANTS to be petted.  When I am working outside she  walks by my side barely avoiding  being stepped on.  When I stop she leans against my legs and  looks up at me in adoration.

I don't know what to do.  The young red was easy when she started acting like a pet.... I treated her like all the rest and shooed her away.  She eventually got it and stopped asking for affection.  The old red? We've got history.  Together, we experienced snowstorms, heatwaves,  baby opossum, the coup' in the coop, The noble battle  fought by  Elphie and Prissy during the carnage in the coop, the great exodus into the land of plenty,  the heart rending death of  Hashtag and the introduction of 7 new baby girls... one  of whom  will eventually be ruler.  And now she is looking to me..... The one who introduced her to sky and grass.... The one who has watched over her for 6 years.  She is looking to me. 
I will not give in! I will will not get attached. I will NOT get  attached...........I WILL NOT GET ATTACHED!!!!!!!!!!     

Friday, October 26, 2012

Too many eggs, Sleeping Dragons, long hours, OOPS, WE are the intruders

My apologies!  It had to be pointed out to me by a couple of die hard readers that it has been way to long since I blogged.  I have excuses.... lots and lots  of them. So, here goes: Since Jimmys birthday we have had a steady stream of visitors...which we have enjoyed immensely, especially the visits from family.   Of particular delight was the visit from Dad and step-Mom.  I just wish they lived closer.  'Course I would seldom see Jimmy if they did.  He'd spend all of his time picking dad's brain for  'how-to's' and arguing politics.
We didn't have enough chairs for all the visitors.  So, I'm slowly fixing that.   The antique mandarin chairs in the dining room just cant handle the amount of butt traffic we asked of them over the last three months. 
Little home owner-y projects that are necessary but to dull to blog about have sucked up our time.  Gardening, canning, soap making,  bread making, cooking from scratch, recycling old things into usable, functional things, raising chickens.... all that is easy.... But, putting a new threshold on the back door and  fastening it to concrete? Cleaning clogs out of forty year old pipes that haven't been cleaned in thirty years?   Continually chasing vermin from walls and attics that have lived here so long they think WE are the intruders? (a spider so big it made Jimmy scream like a girl, crawled from behind the wood stove two weeks ago) .  That foam sealer in the can? Who knew that when you used it to seal cracks to keep out the cold air, that when you came back an hour later it would  look like a snow storm had hit the laundry room?
 I still haven't figured out how to get a covering over the super  sized,  custom made,  sliding glass door in living room.
I'm afraid of the leaky faucet in the kitchen (what if I try to fix it and wind up having to replace ALL the plumbing in the house?)
The vent over the kitchen stove vents back into the kitchen... WTF? Whose lame ass idea was that?
There is no cold water going to the downstairs shower and the only way to find out why is to pull out the shower stall and take a chance  that the whole house will come crashing down around us when we do.  We decided, together, to let that sleeping dragon lie for a while! We have enough mythical monsters nipping at our heels right now to wake one up on purpose!
   That is just the home owner-y things that are sucking up our time.   Jimmy has been working  long-long-long hours.  I see him for about 15 minutes at 5 am and about a half hour around 9 pm.  He's exhausted.  I just cant bring myself to say things like "Honey, I poked a hole in the pipe under the bathroom sink today. (it took me all day to fix it and I now have a crush on the old grizzled guy at Ace Hardware)  Or "Sweetie, I accidentally ran the dishwasher and the microwave  at the same today and when the circuit blew it burned out the microwave.".  I just quietly  bought a new microwave.  When Jimmy saw it and asked about it, I just said  'the old one broke".  He said 'ok' and promptly fell asleep face down in his dinner.
I have been taking classes and auditioning, hoping to get as much commercial work as possible to pay for the plumbing I keep breaking.
I have too many eggs.  For reasons relating to  above complaints, I cant put out my fantasy sign by the roadway yet.  I currently  have 5 dozen eggs in my fridge and by Monday I will have 5 more . Good Typist... please come get some eggs (Feral Jane, ALL  the Chris's  and Christines  that I know, Darling Daughter, Brother Matt and those I haven't mentioned by name... please drop by for some farm fresh eggs).
 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best parenting EVER, gold panning, free eggs

Back in May I went for a walk down to the river behind my house.  On my walk I spied  a man and two little girls.  The little girls were wearing swimsuits (it made me cold just looking at them) but they were not turning blue.  They were in the water with the man who had his jeans rolled up to his knees. They were NOT splashing around. But they were as giddy and excited as two kids could be, in the river ,on a hot august day.  I asked what they were doing.  The little girls answered  'gold panning'.  I looked at the man and he confirmed with a nod.  I said ' Really?.... there is gold in this creek?' The two little girls who couldn't have been more than 6 and 8 years old  started talking. They said yes and then showed me what it looked like, how to find it, where it came from,  They taught me the term 'placer deposit'.  Every now and then the man would chime in. (he had a sluice set up and  he wanted me to know that he had his permit for it).  I talked to them at length and those two little girls knew exactly what they were doing. They answered every question I had, knowledgeably and confidently.    After about 5 minutes their collective body language told me they wanted to get back to what they were doing.   I was greatly impressed by two things. 1.)  This was some quality parenting.  Without even thinking about parenting.... Dad had  shared his enthusiasm for  gold prospecting with his kids,  gotten them involved in his passion.  He had obviously shared a great deal of knowledge with them.  It was obvious to me that they talked about what they were doing in the car, over dinner, at the grocery store and pretty much anywhere else  that a family could chatter away at each other.  There wasn't a cell phone or mp3 player in sight. (there was a back packed crammed with sandwiches and towels).  Dad wasn't sitting on the bank  with his data phone as the kids frolicked in the water.  These people were engaged... together...in a common interest. The kids didn't feel locked down  and Dad didn't feel 'obligated' to spend some time with his kids.    This wasn't 'quality' time with the kids .  This was QUALITY time.  I applaud this father and his neurotic obsession with gold . I applaud him infecting his children with 'gold fever'.  I don't care what a mess the  rest of  his life might be (mom was conspicuously absent).  The one thing he needs to do right... he is doing right!
2.)  Their enthusiasm was so infectious  that I went  home and ordered a $31  gold panning kit from Amazon.   I have been going down to the river two or three times a week since I encountered  them.. I have a bucket full of  'fines' that I just have to figure out how to get the gold dust out of the sand (then I can buy those shiny red mary janes with the bow on the toe).   I wish dad would bring the kids back. I have a bunch more questions for them!
And completely off topic... All my girls are laying..I'm getting 9 eggs a day.  I cant set up my fantasy egg business yet because I need a dedicated fridge to store them. I cant put in a fridge until we have the electricity in the house redone.  So, for this moment in time and to make room in the kitchen fridge...... Any body want some FREE, farm fresh, free range, organic, eggs?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Weird creepy parenting, laying hens, green beans

 The  hens are all on lock down.  We thought only 3 were laying  and then jimmy and I both found ninja nests in the bushes.  They are very unhappy with me now because I wont let them out to free range until everyone has laid.  There were nine eggs in the nest when I let them out yesterday!  A couple of the girls are even laying double yolks.
Our  'failed' garden is producing the best bean crop we have ever had.  I guess the snails don't like green beans.  Over the winter and next summer Jimmy and I will be going on a snail killing spree.  We have a multi-level plan to deal with the issue.  The plan does not include poison.  We have to many rare birds in the area to take that chance.   My hippie/environmentalist roots run strong and I just cannot bring myself to  put one more species on the endangered list.
We do have apples and plums this year.  Jimmy is excited to make cider and apple jack.  I am excited to make wine and apple cider vinegar.  I also need to make some soap before the weather turns too cold.
I have actually blogged at length twice this week and then had the kitten shut off the computer and lost it all. He is in the hall today and the door is shut until I am finished.
One of next summers projects will be to get a privacy fence along one side of the property.  We had company this weekend.  Just another couple over for  burgers on the grill and a little boccie ball after dinner.  A couple with 3 kids  (one in a stroller)  walked by on the trail to the park.  They just stood and  watched us for a long time (creepy).  The five year old said "can we go there?" as she watched the chickens following us around.  Mom and Dad did not say  'no that is someones home" like they should have.  They looked to me for an affirmative to the child's  question and then gave me the stink eye when I just kept talking to my guests and  enjoying my evening.  They just kept standing there staring at us.  90%  of the people who walk by on the trail are polite and respectful.  Most people just walk on by.  If we are working near the fence line some say 'hi'...  and keep walking.   The closer neighbors will stop and chat for a few. When the neighborhood kids are walking by they talk to and about the chickens.  I'm ok with  some admiring of the picturesque  quality of the property (it really is pretty and with the added farm animals it becomes  something from another era).  I would look too.  Most of the problem comes from the  Special-snowflake-angel crowd.   People who think that just because their little hobgoblins want it... they should have access to it.  These people don't even live here. They drive  around looking for  'special' things to do with their offspring so they can spend  'quality' time with them.  Interestingly enough... almost all the parents in this crowd refer to themselves in the third person when addressing their children 'Mommy wants to go home now'.  Its weird and creepy..... and the kids know it! When they do that  they are telling their kids that they are detached from them except in parenting mode.   Which explains why there are so many mini sociopaths running around..  To the parents who do this?  You are already creating an emotionally detached individual.  All you need now is to have a kid with violent tendencies and you've got yourself a budding Ted Bundy. So... Stop it!  You will have happy, healthy children if you simply engage your full neurotic self with the little darlings.
But until the 10% learn this.... I'm building an 8 foot fence! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

NEED goats, Widow makers, fruit update, chicken update, garden update

Itsy bitsy eggs! I got 5 yesterday!  The little girls aren't so little anymore. I can barely tell them apart from the old girls. 
Jimmy and I went on a fruit tasting walk in our back yard yesterday.  It appears we have 4 classic native  Washington apple trees and one of them is a crab apple.  They are all tasty but very small.  Pruning is  in order this fall.  It wont help next years crop but 2014 should be bumper.  Two plum trees: one huge yellow plum and another with  tiny elongated purple plums.  Should be enough purple to make plum wine.  Then we have two pears trees. I need to research these.  They are only about 7 feet tall and they have about 5 or 6 pears each.  The pears are pretty sickly  looking.  I don't know anything about pear trees or how to help them thrive. So, more new info has to go into this old brain.  The blueberries are just now ripening.  This too has to be fixed. They are in some serious shade and are being overgrown by blackberries. And Blackberries.  We have blackberries everywhere. Big, fat, juicy ones. We really need a couple of goats to get these things under control!
As for the garden we planted?  We have broccoli and green beans. We feel fortunate that at least something worked in the garden this year.  There is a huge cherry tree limb  hanging over the beds that was oh so naked in the spring and  didn't seem like it would block all the sun from the garden.  This thing is old enough and tall enough that we will need a professional with a  crane thingy to cut it off.   It looks like that might be high on our list this fall. We have  a lot of 'widow maker'  (Jimmy's words) limbs that need to come off before they come down on their own this winter.  Just one more project to add to the list!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Artistic tantrums, summer vacation, Johnny Horton songs, I'm smarter than a chicken.

I am smarter than a chicken. I am. Really!  Yes it took 4 days to find their point of egress... but, I DID find it!  Now I just have to figure out where they laid all the eggs. 1 acre doesn't seem like a lot until you have to go on an egg hunt.  For the  last week they have been escaping and laying eggs somewhere   in the excess brush surrounding the place.  But, not anymore!... i hope......  In fact, my heart is filled with that little black beetle called hope right now.  I have been panning for gold in the river behind my house.  Every little speck I find sends my heart soaring.  Now I know how all those gold rushers felt.  I have been humming  'Johnny Horton' songs for a month.  I have a tub of gold dust laden sand that is just waiting for me to figure out how to get them separated.  By my reckoning... If I do ever get the dust out of the sand, I will have enough to buy a pair of shiny red shoes with a bow on the toe!
What am I doing playing in the water and dirt everyday when there is so much work to be done around here?  About 6 weeks ago Jimmy and I made a decision to just slow down and enjoy the rest of the summer and let our  injuries heal (he blew out his knee and I messed up my hands during the move).  We cant really go anywhere cuz neither of us can drive very far without paying for it.  After about 40 minutes of driving my hands go numb  and Jimmy has about an hour in him before  he's  limping.  But it is getting better.  At least I can get my shopping done now before I cant feel the steering wheel anymore.   So, no guilt when we are drinking sangria on the veranda (its... medicinal) and watching the chickens  be all chicken-y below us.  I do need to get in the studio though.   A couple of weeks ago, I tried sketching some studies for a series I want to do.  I lasted all of 20 minutes before I got so frustrated at  the lack of control I had in my hands that I threw my wood less pencil across the room and stormed out.  And Yes!  Nowhere does my classic artistic temperament come out faster than in the studio.  Before you cringe..... I do some of my best work in  the throws of a temper fit.  I've also decimated some pieces that had a lot of promise!  I figure its just all part of the process.  AAAnnnd, I don't subject the general population to  my  artistic tantrums.  The only people who have ever seen them are my closest intimates.  They know it  happens and they choose to be present anyway.  Anyway.... until healing happens... we are on home bound vacation.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Garden fail, prehistoric slugs, giant squirrell, patience

Yesterday I canned up  10 jars of raspberry jelly.  I think this may be the last of the raspberries for the year.  I currently have almost two dozen jars of jelly, two gallons of RB infused vinegar working and 5 gallons of RB wine going.  And in the height of the season I was giving away raspberries to friends who showed up with buckets, because I couldn't keep up with the sheer volume..
If only the rest of the garden was going as well. We spent all that time  putting in beds in the sunny  areas only to have the sun disappear on us  when the trees came out of winter hibernation.  Honestly... we had no idea the trees would grow and shade so aggressively.  So, one winter project will be to hack off a bunch of limbs and prune  all the trees back.  Next  item will be to kill as many of the slugs as we can .  We  THINK its the astronomical number of slugs that live here that ate all the young plants before they could get going. We couldn't kill them fast enough. We unjustly accused the chickens of  getting into the gardens and doing the damage, but it continued long after they were penned up for the summer.  Then there is the soil.  We really didn't have time to  condition it before we planted.  We were in such a hurry to get SOMETHING in the ground before it was too late.  It was mid to late June before we got everything in this year.  We normally have the soil conditioned and are ready to plant by the  first of May.  Usually by the middle of June.... because we cold frame most of the beds, we are eating out of the garden.   We were just too late  in  planting this year and we took too many shortcuts to get it done 'in time'.  The great thing about gardening? There is always next year.
We are expecting much  fruit from our inherited trees.... maybe..... I went out to check on the chickens last week and heard a noise behind the pen.  I went to check and there was an enormous squirrell  up in the plum tree. He was plucking the  really large plums and taking one bite from them and throwing them on the ground.  This is unnacceptable!
Chickens: We are only getting a couple of eggs a day from the old girls.  The new ones have not yet started laying.  Patience!... I just need some patience.  I'm really feeling the sting of starting from the beginning WITH EVERYTHING in this new paradise we have moved too.
The new chickens will start laying soon.  I am just calling fail on the gardens this year and I am thankful for what  'old' Mrs. Murphy planted for posterity.   The berries, trees, flowers  and herbs she left behind  are the only thing giving me hope right now.  She set a fine example and left behind proof that it can be done.............   Just..... need.......... patience! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Inter dimensional chicken portal

Retarded or Genius? I cant decide. Of the 7 new hens I acquired at the beginning of June all but one  are very ...chicken-y.  Then there's the one. One of the Rhode Island reds .  She's always the last one to come out of the pen. She's  always a bit from the flock.  When there is danger she is the first under the bushes.  When the food is thrown out she watches everyone else  eat before taking a bite.  She is always unpredictable. She never goes where she is not supposed too.  She wants to be petted at times but absolutely will not be herded or  tricked into following the food.  I think something happened when she fell into the inter dimensional portal that seems to be located somewhere in the chicken pen.  About three weeks after we got the new hens we decided it was time to let them free range Mystic Cedars.  Everything went fine for about a week.  Then one day I did my once hourly head count and one was missing.  Jimmy and searched the entire one acre.... every tree,bush,outbuilding and hideyhole she  could possibly get into.  We searched the chicken pen inch by inch at least 5 times.....then got the neighbors involved in case she went over the fence.  We searched for about 4 hours before giving up and deciding she had been carried off by a hawk or something.  Before  locking the other girls in the coop for the night  we did another  head count and  searched the pen again ...making sure to check under the coop with a flashlight.  We locked the pen for the night. The next morning when I went out to let the chickens out she was sitting inside the locked pen next to the coop door.  Her eyes were a bit glazed and she seemed a little cold but, when  I let the others out she perked up and joined them for breakfast.  We thought she was ok but the truth is.... She aint never been  'right' since then.  I wonder at times if she really is MY chicken or  if she belonged to the Frankie in the parallel universe and we switched hens when the portal closed.  It would make sense that her behaviors  would reflect the little differences in the  universes.  Maybe she gets confused  when a tree or bush isn't supposed to be there.  Or maybe in the parallel ... I'm a movie star living in LA and  somebody else owns this place.  Maybe that's it..... Maybe she doesn't know who I am.   Or maybe in the  other dimension.... Chickens are the rulers of the world and  she's not adjusting well to sharing a coop  with 9 other chickens.... or being valued for her egg laying instead of her mind.   What ever happened to her ...it has set her apart from the others. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coronation, sold painting, I'm a princess, getting rich, God will harden Pharaoh's heart

Phew! Its been a busy few weeks! first.... Jimmy's  coronation...... er ...birthday. One of the big ones ending in zero, so, it went on for 3 weeks.  I tried to have a surprise party for him but, in true Jimmy fashion he figured it out and then kept picking at it until he  gleaned all the details aaannnd  then wanted to make sure it was perfect according to his specifications.  Guess its what I get for marrying an engineer. They have a blueprint for everything and YE SHALL NOT DEVIATE.  So... tons of company and lots of socialising  for 3 straight weeks.  Including  Jimmy's Mom.  I am very fortunate to have a smart and supportive mother-in-law!   She's doing some genealogy work on the family tree and added me to it.  Come to find out I'm a genuine Indian princess (nansemond nation) and daugher of the American revolution.  And here all this time I thought I came from a long line of potato lovin', immigrant  peasants that escaped  to America to  stay out of prison in the home country.  Don't know if I like being respectable and of noble lineage.  I had embraced a picture of myself as a mud blood, roguish adventurer with a devil-may-care attitude long ago.  But, I am having fun torturing Jimmy  with repeated  chanting of  ........."AND I'm a princess!"
And soon I will be a rich princess... I have been  panning for gold in the creek behind our house.  OK....Maybe I wont get rich but, its a great way to spend an overly warm day in the great PNW.  And I did manage to find a few grains.
The real and most exciting news of the week is that CBS is buying one of my paintings for set decoration  on one of its fall tv shows.  Details to follow when transaction is completed. And if it doesn't wind up on the cutting room floor ... a party, to watch  the episode it shows up in. Its a cop show.... So with any luck it will be in a scene in a  hotel room where a murder occurs.... all spattered with blood!!!!!
And of course the chickens.  They are all getting along fine and acting like chickens , with the exception of  one. She follows me everywhere wanting to be petted.  I find this disconcerting.  After Hash died I made a firm rule  not to bond with any of them, going so far as to get all one breed so no one could be singled out as special.  But this little one,  who has no name, I'm not sure what to do with. With any luck.... God will harden Pharaoh's heart. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

view master junkie, Raspberry vinegar, 4 gallon crock jars

I have a confession.  I am a viewmaster junkie.  Relevent why?  Jimmy and I went to the Bothell farmers market yesterday and I picked up  to VM reels. Dinosaurs and the apollo moon landing.  I have been a VM junkie since I was four and my parents got me one to keep me quiet on a road trip.  I was a pretty easy kid... a viewmaster and an etcha sketch and I would go to ground for hours.  At home you could add a spirograph to that and I wouldnt come out for days... except to be fed and watered.  Sadly spirograph no longer exsists in its original form.
On to grown up stuff now. Anybody  want some fresh raspberries? I picked over a gallon yesterday and didnt even make a dent.  I will be going out again this morning and everday for the next couple of weeks.  I will be making raspberry jelly today.   I will also be making infused raspberry vinegar.   This is so easy .............  2 cups sugar, 1/2 gallon of raspberries.  Put it in a 1 gallon jar and  pour in   distilled white vinegar to top of jar.  Put lid on jar. Let sit for a few weeks until raspberries are light colored and vinegar is dark colored. 
I will also be making  raspberry wine and fermented raspberry vinegar (just not today)..  While Jimmy and I were at the farmers market we were looking for  4 to 5 gallon  glass or crock jars.  We're gonna need a bunch of them. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Life changing event, fondling treasures, sweet docents, severe security guards

A life milestone was achieved yesterday.  Let me explain... In the 1970's  King Tut  did a North American tour that was so ragingly  successful that hit songs were written about it.  Everyone went to see it.  When it came to Seattle, lines were around  the block. People with tickets stood for hours waiting to get in.  EVERYONE  went to see the boy king....... except me.  My parents wouldn't let me go. For reasons which were their own.  Even when  Feral Jane's parents offered to take me they said no. They would not be budged in their decision.  I have lamented their parenting choice for years and I have always felt like I missed something very ...very important.  There has been a void in my life for 30+ years.... a big ole gaping whole of  'what if'.  Until  last night.  Accompanied by Jimmy, Feral Jane and two other good friends, I stepped through the hallowed gates of the Pacific Science Center and into  the arms of Tutankhamen.  He was waiting for me just like I knew he would be.  He acknowledged that my pilgrimage had been overlong and appreciated my love and dedication.  The reward that he offered for such  devotion from a worshiper?  I can now get on with my life.  That hollow place in my essence , the dark abyss of nothingness, was filled to overflowing in the last 24 hours.  I am complete.
Jimmy finished the tour in under an hour because ,as he likes to point out.... HE saw it the first time (pppfffflfffle). When he finished, he came back to find me, only to discover that I hadn't made it through the first chamber yet.  He giggle over my rapt attention to every detail and then sighed heavily, resigning himself to a looong wait.  And it was a long wait.  Jane and I shut the place down. Sweet little ancient docents were gently prodding us forward toward the end, announcing every two minutes or so .... "The museum closes in 30 minutes".... "The museum closes in 28 minutes".... 26...24........  We probably would have pushed the envelope a little harder  except the docents were backed up by some pretty no nonsense looking  security guards who stood with crossed arms, daring us with their eyes to take a step backwards.  I wanted to explain to them  how this moment in time was a life changing event for me,  the culmination  of a  30+ year  journey, a peak  experience,  a catharsis... nirvana even.  But one glance at their bored expressions told me that all they saw when they looked at me , was another henna- haired, horned rimmed hipster, dawdling at the back end of a herd of great unwashed.  I was keeping them from dinner and they wanted me out.  They were so hungry and so bored they couldn't  (or wouldn't ) see the glow emanating from every inch of my person.  So, I reluctantly said good bye to the  darling boy king and the remnants of his short life and headed into the gift shop where I filled a bag with all the Tut gak I could justify.... pencils, refrigerator magnets (everyone should  have a mummy rm)  a  journal with a 3d cover of Tut, a wallet and many golden book marks. I sit here this morning fondling  my treasures, equal in all ways  to the contents of  Tuts tomb. Content at last. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

We need goats, work never ends, No potatoes this year

We have had a few days to  sit and wonder at all we have accomplished in such a short period of time.  Now to bemoan all that we still need to do.  The 10 x 5 ' potato bed  still has no soil in it.  Ok it has some ... but I twisted my leg hauling  wheelbarrows of soil up the hill  last week and  said to myself... "We are well into June so ...probably no potatoes this year" ( ... a tear falls...)   When we were  digging out blackberries and  terracing garden space in April ( when the potatoes were supposed be planted) we knew  we probably wouldn't  have any this year.   So, this weeks project is to get the bed full of soil with the remainder of the  mountain  of  5 yards of planting soil we had delivered  a month ago.   We decided to plant some fast growing things in that bed this year, beets, more lettuce, maybe some turnips.  We don't know yet, we just have to get it done.  After that we can concentrate on   cleaning out more overgrown areas of the property.  And here is the big news. We have decided to procure  some goats to do some of the yard work for us.   The back quarter acre  is completely overgrown with   so much  stuff... we don't even know what is back there.   The entire area is a five star, goat  restaurant.  We don't even care what kind of goats.  We would like a boy and a girl so  we can have  goat milk in the spring for cheese. 
There are piles of brush to be dealt with and   an area beside the house that is buttercup hell.  The area by the house  will have to be done with  edgers and lawn mowers.  And we are thinking of procuring a chipper for all the brush.  That said I should stop hanging out on the computer and go do some work.

10x5   box that needs to be finished

One yard of soil that needs to be dispersed

buttercup and blackberry  jungle that needs to be controlled

pile of brush that needs to be chipped

5x12 lengths that need to be turned into compost beds

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New gardens, new kitten, salmon berry jelly, incarcerated hens, rendering fat, cracklins

Even with the  rainy  weather and a series of  family 'crisis' that took us  away  from our  micro farm-in-the-rough, Jimmy and I managed to get a lot done around here in the last 10 days.   We put in two more beds and  planted  our  'winter garden' veggies.  I also put in a couple of rows of turnips this year.  We reconditioned a bed that was in really  bad shape, added some new herbs to it and are now calling it the  'herb garden'.  Its perfect... just outside the kitchen door.  It had some strawberries in it and a bunch of daffodils and other bulb-y  type flowers but mostly it was overgrown with weeds. We cleaned it all out, straightened the overgrown edges and planted rosemary,tarragon,  sage, thyme, parsley, chamomile. lavender, marjoram and a few others.  I like the  bed  being just outside the kitchen door cause when I'm cooking I don't want to have to hike down into the back field  to  get a sprig of tarragon.
The girls couldn't behave themselves  around the newly planted gardens so they have been penned up for the  summer. They can only come out  under heavy supervision.   They managed to get under the netting and tore out one of the  newly planted  brussel sprout starts.  I was hoping that they would avoid the garden beds and enjoy the rest of the  1 acre roaming space. But no. They went for  the gold and got themselves incarcerated.
We have a new kitten.  Jimmy named him Michaeletto after the assassin on the Borgias.  We need a good mouser out here and 11 year old Drusilla just doesn't have it anymore.  Her overweight, over privileged, spoiled highness  is in a dither over the new addition.  Jimmy is worried that her feelings are hurt.  I say... serves her right for being fat, lazy and useless.
Baby Sis gave me another bag of pig fat that I rendered down. I'm getting  pretty good at this. This took less time  and I  did the  'cracklins ' right.  I have also spent some time wandering the woods and picking Salmon berries.  Jimmy has kindly agreed to go with me on several occasions .... because he is way taller than me and can actually reach the berries.  Sometime over the next week I will be making salmon berry jelly. 
Eeven though we have achieved much, we still have a long way to go.... so I need to stop pretending to be a writer and go be a farmer!
In the mean time... Here are some photos of our progress. 
Tomatoes and peppers on soon to be sunny veranda

Lettuce and cabbage bed

winter garden with snow peas

New herb garden

Thursday, June 7, 2012

100 year old biscuit recipe, classic baking powder biscuit recipe, Ida Bailey Allen biscuit recipe

I may have  posted this one before but I cant find it and Baby Sister needs it.

100 year old  Biscuit recipe

2 cups bread flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons butter or shortening
3/4 cup milk

Mix all dry ingredients together  first.  Then add butter or shortening....cutting it in with a pastry cutter or fork.  You want your ingredients to be course and flaky before adding the milk. Add milk and stir till a ball forms.  Transfer to a floured bread board and  pat  down  to about 1 inch.  Cut with  a biscuit  cutter.  If you don't have a biscuit  cutter, you can cut your dough into squares.  Put  into a lightly oiled   pan or  cast iron skillet with sides touching.  Bake in a preheated oven at  375-400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

100 year old pie crust recipe, Ida Bailey Allen, never fail pie crust recipe, rich pie crust recipe

 

100 year old pie crust recipe
Rich pie crust recipe
Can NOT fail pie crust recipe

I have claimed for years that I just don't have the pie crust gene. Every pie crust I ever made had been some level of fail. Until I found Ida Bailey Allens Rich Pie Crust recipe. This thing is the bomb shelter of pie crusts. It works every time! It is perfect for fruit pies in a pie pan, cobblers, Cornish meat pastries, pot pies, fruit tarts and pretty much anything you need a crust for. I am amazed! I have used it for all of the aforementioned pies with no hint of fail. Jimmy now requests Cornish meat pies regularly and I am excited for the fall and all the apples we will have from our trees.

It is very rich


2 1/2 cupfuls pastry flour
1 cup butter (use real butter for best results)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup ice water. (yes ... this is the correct amount of water)
Do not melt the butter.
Mix the flour and salt together and then cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter ( a fork will work but pastry cutters are easier) Be very thorough about this, you don't want any large chunks of butter in your mix. When you have finished cutting in the butter, make a hole in the flour mixture and pour in your ice water. Mix until it forms a ball. Roll it out onto a floured board with a rolling pin, sprinkling lightly with flour as you go to keep it from sticking

Monday, May 28, 2012

Antique Perfection stove, Happy free range chickens, The great escape, Steve McQueen

Happy free range chickens!  Not so much.  Today the girls are giving Jimmy and me the  stink-eye.  There are times when the girls need to be penned up  for their safety  or our  sanity .  But one of the ancient reds  has always been able to escape no matter what we do.  Oh... and she taught the little girls how to do it.  She earned the nickname Hilts  (Steve McQueens  character  from  'The Great Escape).  Over the last two weeks we have plugged and netted every place we could find and she still gets out.  Until yesterday...... Jimmy put an extra  wooden bar over the gate posts and stapled the netting to it. That  seems to have  plugged the chicken portal.  He decided to do it when he saw her leap up on the gate, wiggle her way  through the netting and then trapeze  up to the goat barn , where she casually walked over about ten feet  and did a little hop to the compost pile on the backside of the barn.   We left them penned up all day yesterday...just to make sure   any escape routes were closed off.   Now maybe we can get some work done without them following  us around, getting into everything we do.  They LOVE it when we are prepping  the beds.  They think the freshly turned, uber soft soil is for them.  They dont even wait for us to finish the job any more. They  dive right in when the first shovel full  comes out.  Poor Hilts got a faceful of dirt  a couple of days ago  and did nothing more than yell at me.  She let out a screachy 'Raaaaaaccck!'  (which is chicken for  'WTF!') and then, in open defiance,  jumped right back on top of the pile, daring me to  shower her again.  I did!
I have managed to keep track of the camera this week and have some new photos of the girls  enjoying  thier  freedom.  I also  got a couple of great shots of the up cycled table and chairs, in use, on the veranda.  There is no one sitting at the table  because I was taking the photographs and Jimmy has a 'dont post my face on the internet'  policy. And check out the  vintage/antique Perfection  coal oil parlor stove.  I bought it at a garage sale for  $10 and then found a fuel tank for it on ebay.    It kept us very toasty while we finished off our  wine  after dinner.  I'm not sure which PC term applies to the stove....its not upcycle  cuz we are using it for its intended purpose (sort of ) nor is it recycled......maybe re-purposed?  It's original purpose  was  to be a single room space heater in the 1920's.   Maybe it is just one of those things that is really  cool and almost art.  And yes, it was painted blue when I bought it.  My plan is to  strip off the blue paint and go back to the original, classic, flat black. But  re-conditioning  the  uber functioal  veranda heater is not high on the priority list  right now.


Antique Perfection stove  still still doing its job!


Happy free range chickens!


Chicken parade!


Hilts has appointed herself superviser of the three  month old pullets.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photos of up cycled table and chairs, farm and tractor paint

My  'new' garden set.  I wanted to wait and take  the photos outside but, its been raining since  I finished them.  So, I set it up in the  living room just for pictures. For those who haven't read the previous blog on this.  Jimmy and I have been looking for furniture  for the veranda and  the stuff that is being sold  to the general public...... is just butt-ugly.  So,  I took  a graffitied  small table from my studio (found in a back alley of the u-district) and a couple of chairs that I bought from goodwill  about 6 years  ago. I  took them apart and painted them and recovered the chair seats in some vinyl  leftover from one of Jimmy's halloween costumes  from a couple of years ago. I painted them with  oil based enamel 'farm and tractor' paint.  This paint is great....  very hard, very waterproof.  I am  pleased with the end product. I think it is charming and garden-y.

We start with this

Then do this

up cycled table and chairs

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Photo tour, Gardening on a hill, nice little pea patch

Camera has been found!  So, today will  be some photos of what we are doing around  Mystic Cedars.
 First leg of the  tour is  the terraced garden.   Jimmy was offended when an overly interested passerby called it a  'nice pea patch'.  I have to admit... I wanted to throw  a mud ball at the guy myself.  No  'pea patch' ever took this much work.  In the first photo you cant really see how steep the hill is or how high the black berries were.  The hill side photo was taken in February and some of the blackberries were up to my waist.  We still haven't decided how to finish it yet.  Jimmy wanted to do  gypsum but I talked him out of it....cuz it would hurt my knees while weeding.  Then we talked about sodding and grass but, neither of us wants to mow that steep hill.  It will probably take all summer to figure it out and knowing us.... it will probably  be resolved organically.  'Organic' in this case, means we don't choose....the garden chooses for us.




Blackberry covered hillside in March

First we cut  the blackberries  down to a manageable size. Then we took  shovels and dug the roots out ....each and every one of them!



Terraced garden with four 5foot by 5foot boxes. You can just see the corner of the 10 foot by 5 foot box  at the bottom. The retaining wall is   recycled concrete from  a driveway one of our old neighbors was replacing.


Bottom view of terraced garden

View from the top of the garden.  The back of Jimmy's head is an added bonus.  He loves to sit at the top and admire his work.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Versailles Garden,Peace in the coop, upcycled furniture

Just an update: Jimmy's Versailles Garden is almost done... and for the most part I have stayed out of it.  He hand terraced two  14x5  rows.  I did  build the foundations for the boxes for him.  I'm not much of a carpenter but, the last five years of backyard farming has taught me how to build a box.  You would be surprised at how handy  knowing enough carpentry to build a box can be.  We  had five yards of planting soil  delivered  a couple of days ago  and we are ready to fill the boxes this weekend.  We will be buying our starts this year but that's OK.  What it took us 5 years to build up too in the old place we will have built in 3 months here. And we have the aches and pains to show it. But enough whining.  The 7 new  chickens are thriving.  The three old girls are grudgingly accepting them.  One of the ancient reds has made it her sole intention to torment them.  Hester has the situation in hand though. Reluctantly as usual.  She doesn't want to be a leader but knows that she is the only one with the brains and strength to handle the job. A few days ago I was throwing out feed for all of them  right before bedtime.  The ancient red was chasing the little ones around and stealing their food.  Hester was casually enjoy her bedtime snack and  suddenly , without warning, pounced on the ancient red, pecked her once the neck, stared her in the eye for a few seconds and then got off of  her and went back to snacking.  The ancient red slowly  stood up  gave what could only be an "i'll get you later" look to the little ones and then quietly followed Hester around  snacking.  Hester definitely told the ancient red "leave the kids alone... I'm tired of the noise and I want to eat in peace."  Poor Hester.... She's so.... Audie Murphy  in 'to hell and back'. 
Jimmy and I have been looking for  furniture for  our 'veranda'.  What is out there for out door furniture is  butt ugly.  I don't care that it is all marketed as designer...  the crap is hard to look at.  The lines are harsh and most of it is (yecchhh ) battleship grey.  It may be 'designer'  but it has no grace.   After  a few trips to brick and mortars and a lot of looking online, I decided on a completely different route.  I  have a couple of  metal  ,wrought  iron looking, chairs  that I bought at goodwill  6 years ago (cuz we needed them for when company  came over) that I took apart and painted with  tractor paint yesterday. I also painted the  graffiti tagged table that Feral Jane and I found in a back alley  in the U-district (I have been using it in the studio).  All were pieces of junk nobody else wanted.   I used oil based  farm and tractor paint on them.  I left them to dry on the veranda and this morning they look amazing.  They need one more coat of paint and I will have a   bistro set worthy of any  sidewalk cafe.  The grand total   for the lovely  patio furniture ? $20 ....  for  paint and  stay-dry vinyl  to recover the seats. The color? White.  Shiny snow white.  ....and so... She is pleased.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

stinging nettle fast cure, Unicorn farts, first night fuss,

Do not...I repeat....DO NOT pick the pretty yellow flowers on the side of the house.  They BITE!  You would think after all this time in western WA, that I would know what  indigenous  stinging nettles look like.  But ...no..... My  dumb ass.... thought they would look pretty on the kitchen table.  Fortunately great Granny's   cure worked pretty fast.  1. Wash area with apple cider vinegar.  2. Make a paste of baking soda and apply to affected area... let dry completely.   It takes about 1/2  hour for the cure to work... but you really do need that half hour to contemplate your own stupidity and to plan how not to be  THAT grossly retarded again! 
I thank who ever was looking out for me yesterday that I had already   taken out the integration pen the new girls were in and had set up the big coop  for its new occupants.   Jimmy and I were prepared for the after-dark chicken hunt  that always seems to happen  the first night  new girls go in with the old girls.  Last night the surprise was on us.  All the chicks went in together and settled in and the old girls kept  looking in the coop and  backing away.  When  Jimmy and I came out to assist in the tucking in... the old girls looked at us like  "really?  You are making us sleep with 7 kids?... awwww gyod ....its gonna be a long night!".  It took some convincing but by dusk everyone was in bed with minimal fuss.
And now for the great news. Jimmy and a friend finally got the  mower/tractor  put back together and running.  Its been in pieces all over the driveway for  over a month.  Jimmy's friend convinced him to work on it  one more time.  Jimmy of course told his friend  that his head was full of  fairy wings, rainbows  and  unicorn farts, if he thought the thing would ever run again.   Two hours later  I heard it fire up ...gave it a few minutes to see if it would keep running.... and went outside to congratulate the boys.  The most delightful sound in the world?  Unicorn Farts!  An hour later our 1 acre looked like people live here.  All smooth and pretty! We just might be able to do this!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

RIP Hash, killing a monster, $10,000 tea towels,

Yeah, I know.... no updates for a month.  Two reasons. The first... I really messed up something during the move and  have not been able to type. Its just now  beginning to get better.  Second... I almost gave up on the whole  chicken/micro farming thing when hash was killed  a month ago.  That broke my heart.  Seriously .... how do you get so attached to one tiny creature? It didn't help that it was a brutal death.  I completely   penned  the chickens in, top and bottom, so nothing could get in or out.  what I didn't know was that death lived in the tree inside the pen. So, I essentially locked them in with a monster.  It was my fault.  But the monster is dead by my own hand. 
Jimmy had to keep talking to get me to  the point where I would consider getting the new birds we had already planned on.   I'm glad he did.  Last Friday I picked up 7 pullets: 5 rhode island reds and two barred rocks.  They should all start laying in late July.   They are cute..... but I'm NOT getting attached.  Food ...NOT pets.   The murder did bring home the fact that we need a dog...... A classic farm dog.  A working animal. 
On the gardening end.  We have one bed in and planted.  Jimmy is still terracing the  future  kitchen garden.  Its been long slow work.  First we had to clear an area the size of most peoples back yards  from 10 years of blackberry overgrowth.  Because its on a hill  with a live waterway running under some of it, we have to do some erosion mitigation.   I wanted to just  throw down some boxes , put some dirt in them in get going  with the planting but,  Jimmy decided we need the Versailles  gardens.   So,  after much  discussion, which contained a great deal of  "you don't get it" snorting on both sides, I decided to  take myself out of the equation.  The last time he said :what do you think?" I said  "It will look very nice when you are done.  Call me when it is ready for planting. Oh ... and don't forget to put in an extra  large box for potatoes.".  I get it.  This is his  investment in the  lifestyle.  But I am always amazed at his ability to take something simple and turn it into an engineering feat.  Don't believe me?  When I  told him I was going to go to ross and pick up   all cotton tea towels for a grand total of $6.99.... an hour later, I still didn't have tea towels but he had a $10,000 kitchen remodel all planned out on paper.  How did he get there?  There's no convenient  place in the kitchen for a towel rack.  To put in a towel rack  he has to tear out  a wall... and then he has to ........... I  waited 2 days  for him to forget about  the exorbitant cost of tea towels, bought them without telling him, used them, washed and put them in the cabinet space  designated  for kitchen towels and waited for it...... two weeks later  it came.   A little spill on the floor:  He opens the towel cabinet, pulls out one of the towels  from the pile and says  ..." See... we have plenty of towels, there is no reason to buy new ones." .  I'm not gonna tell him and neither are you!   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Protecting chickens from predators, chicken rituals, pomp and circumstance

As the sun was coming up yesterday I was  looking out the window, cup of coffee in hand and thinking. I 'll go let the girls out in about 10 minutes. At that precise moment a giant hawk flew in and started circling the coop.  The girls have been made!  The new neighbors reported seeing an owl  eying the girls a few days ago so I bought  about a hundred feet of the bird netting.  My arms and hands are still giving me grief so I procrastinated   putting it up.  But with a top end predator  circling....I had to put down the coffee and go do the job, pain or no. It took about two hours to  drape the netting and secure it in place.  Then I decided that since I was already damp and cold and hands were already numb  I might as well do the coop spring cleaning. All the deep litter came out and went into the new compost pile (which is quickly becoming a mountain).  Towards  the end one of the ancient reds  wanted to lay and she kept coming in and checking on my progress.  I guess she   got a little anxious  because she started complaining at me.  When  I didn't comply with her request  fast enough she went and told Hash and he came over to  demand that I finish the job.... now!  To get my attention he tugged on my pants leg and then  vocalised a series of low pitched whistles and clucks.  It was almost like he was whispering conspiratorially... "look I know you have a job to do but the women have needs and well.... could you at least  LOOK  like you are moving faster?"   I felt the need to add to his social consequence and validate his authority by moving just a little faster.   I cant decide if they view him as an administrator with the bosses ear or as a prophet with a direct line to god. Anyway.....after I quickly  put in new litter and closed it all up they clustered together with Hash leading the way and they   all went in together  to check it out and then came back out clucking in approval.  All except one that is. She stayed behind to do the necessary.  I see it all the time but it surprises me every time they do it.  My  chickens really do have a flair for ritual, pomp and circumstance.
AND I still cant find my  camera! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Magnesium, smart friends,midnight paranoia,skyrocketing grocery bill

My friends are so smart!  When you don't have medical insurance you need your savvy friends.  This move has jimmy and I both screeching owwwww on a regular basis.  I very recently had the pleasure of getting together with old (as in  known them a long time) friends.  As I was listing off  the  physical maladies I was suffering, my friends ...pretty much in unison all said "you need a magnesium supplement".  This does not surprise me as this move has really disrupted   the Frankie & Jimmy  slow  food diet.  I started taking  a magnesium horse pill  5 days ago and I do feel significantly better.  I gave Jimmy his first one last night.  He has been out of town on a  job since the advice was handed to me so he's a little behind on the  'feel better'.  I think it also helped that I went on a detox lite regimen.  I spent the week he was gone  sipping  detox tea, eating the best vegetable soup ever (twice a day) munching on fruit and snacking on jello. I had planned on keeping to the 'no meat no carbs' cleanse for a full week but Feral Jane  blew that one for me.  She came to keep me company for a couple of days while Jimmy was gone, cuz we haven't been here long enough for me to recognise all the noises our new house makes and at three am I am sitting  in the living room  with a cup of herbal tea and a  historical romance......and  every weapon in the house  within arms reach, ready to do battle with whatever  goblin appears.   My paranoia  in these  situations is down right funny.  So, if you think it would be a great joke  to knock on my window at 3 am when  Jimmy is gone..... be prepared  to be  shot, stabbed , hit in the head with a fireplace poker, maced, garroted, chemically burned and  then buried in a hole in the back yard which I have already dug..... just in case.   Feral Jane  showed up with her pajamas and toothbrush to protect  the unsuspecting  midnight marauder....not me.  But back to the detox diet.  The first lunch we sat down to together,  Feral Jane  sliced herself a huge slab of bread and slathered it with butter.   I fought the urge to follow suit ( good lord she made that bread and butter look good)  I lost the battle after about 6 hours and  decided I was detoxed enough to reward myself.  That evening FJ and I enjoyed  fresh bread  with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a fire,  indulging in girl talk.  I didn't fall completely off the wagon but I did  add carbs  and dairy back in on day three.  I definitely feel better. The arms and hands are improving a bit too.  I just might be in good enough shape to start prepping  this years garden in a couple of weeks.  I really miss my old garden.  Even in its 'only a few winter vegetables'  state, it was still better than grocery store produce.  I actually had to BUY carrots from safeway for my vegetable soup.  The difference in carrots that are only  a few minutes out of the ground compared to carrots that have been treated and sitting in cold storage for  weeks is  flooring.  I have to admit I was surprised at how much our grocery bill skyrocketed  during this move.  Our winter garden only had carrots, onions,broccoli, brussel sprouts,spinach  and collard  greens. But until the kitchen aid was unpacked I was also buying  bread.  The  disruption of the move and the cold winter stopped the girls from laying so I was buying eggs.  The other fat price tag I encountered  was flour, sugar and cooking oil.   I gotta tell ya..... living like other people is expensive!  But this too shall pass.  In a few short weeks  the new gardens will go in, new chickens will be added and  storage will be figured out.  In the mean time I will grit my teeth  and avert my eyes from the bright marketing gimmicks and   traverse the treacherous aisles of the local safeway.
P.S. I still cant find my camera.      

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Still unpacking, bazzillion blackberries, hazelnut tree!

I've pretty much been spending my time  figuring out how to fix things.  We thought we had a plumbing issue . Turns out it wasn't the plumbing ... We have guests in the ceiling.  So,  there's a mess to be cleaned up.  Still unpacking and still cant find  anything that I'm looking for. We have  taken breaks in between unpacking to do a little garden work.  Jimmy  started clearing the area for  garden bed  'alpha'.  By  'clearing' I mean chopping out the miles of overgrown black berry bushes.  The former owner  had a lovely fenced off,  terraced vegetable garden....that hasn't seen a  head of lettuce or a carrot in at least 10 years.  She planted a lot of bulbs (not sure what they are for yet  cuz they are just now showing signs of life.) in spaces that are divinely suited to growing food.  So, I will be digging all of those up  for some time to come.  I like flowers as much as the next girl..... But I like  acorn squash better.  Our lovely herbs that we dug up and brought with us still don't have a home.  The ideal place for them may not exist in a few weeks because  the expanded driveway might  be  there.  I was all excited  to get down to our local nursery  and  get some cool new  stuff like bay laurel  plants, elderberry  bushes and  a gazzillion other things I wanted to grow.  But Jimmy grabbed me by the back of the collar and said we should wait until we see exactly what is already growing on the property first.  I confess... I pouted ... But he was right.  There is all kinds of  great stuff popping up and starting to bud as spring grows closer.   It appears we have a giant hazelnut tree.  I cant wait til I can make my own hazelnut butter. I have been researching how to can it myself. The USDA recommends that nut butters NOT be canned at home......But I guess they don't know about Granny's pressure cooker!
I took a  bunch of pictures to post today .... but I cant find the camera this morning!  So, when I do find it I'll  edit this  and re post with visual aids.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Its ALL his fault, I need an El Camino, appeasing water sprites, sucks to be brown

Will this move never end? I thought we were going to be done yesterday... but NO.  At least one more load that will contain the rest of the firewood and a cabinet I was going to leave behind.  And 3 of my fish are missing from the pond.  The landlord said he was going to drain the pond so we tried to  get them all but, we cant find the 3 brown ones.  The 5 orange ones are in a bucket with a bubbler  in Jimmy's future man cave. In the immortal words  of DD.... 'sucks to be brown'.  .....  And I aggravated (pissed it off really) an old injury that has my arms and hands painful and  numb all night long.  How can something you cant feel hurt so bad. I'm sick of this crap.  I want it done so I can have the time to appease the local water sprites.  We are being attacked by water.  Leaks everywhere! GYAH! Jimmy and I had to go to separate floors for a little while last night.  We are both  tired and sore and fighting the urge to blame each other for this  thing  being such  a never ending PITA..  But its his fault.... I know it is!  The almost final straw was when  the rented moving truck got stuck in the mud  by the new goat barn/storage shed.   We wanted to make one more run yesterday but it took over   a half hour to get it unstuck and then had to be pressure washed clean before we took it back by 5.   We should have bought a truck last year when we were talking about it.  We want one of those little compact trucks from the 70's..... or a Cruck like the   El Camino!    Honestly?  We just want something that will save us from ourselves right now.   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back online, every body is in the new place ,Jimmy wont leave

Just a short note this morning to let you  know I am back online.  I missed the internet.  We have a few more days of cleaning the old place and putting it back to the way it was before we started  micro farming.  But everyone is moved to the new place.  Sort of ... I have to catch the fish today.  Cat, chickens,turtle,mothers,plants are all thriving in the new location.  The plants were immediately happy with  all the natural light  they get and have grown  since we brought them over. The cat refused to acknowledge that I exist for the first three days we were here.  She is still giving me the tail but I cant really care until we are fully settled in.  And I might not care even after that. She hasn't packed or moved one box, she doesn't lay eggs and she doesn't pay rent.  She can pout in the corner for the next 3 months as long as she stays out of the way! Its getting harder to get Jimmy to go over to the old place and finish  things up. He's in love with his new home and doesn't want to leave it.  We have been arguing over what to call it.  He has been trying to call it  by the original native american name ...but he cant  pronounce  it .  I want to call it  Mystic Cedars (you will see why when I get the photos up)  He thinks its to hippiefroofroo.   But I think I am going to call it that anyway.  Hash and the girls seem to like it here.  They managed to get out of the nice big pen  and I found them happily  foraging by the back stream.  I could do a whole blog on the moving of the chicken coop.  It took a whole day ,6 guys and a  dump truck with a winch.  Guess that 's what happens when you build a 500 pound  bullet proof , bomb shelter  for a bunch of birds.  But its done ....Thank the gods!  Now I have to go make the old pen look like they were never there.    

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mars retrograde 2012 , moving a mini farm, Offline for a while

Just a quick update:  Jimmy and I will be moving to the new place all this month .  I expect to be online  infrequently due to moving and changing  utilities.  I'll be back in March with lots of news  I'm sure the tales of moving a  backyard farm to a mini farm will be hair raising.  In the mean time those of you who are looking for astrology updates ..... I finally got my dedicated astrology web site up and running last month.  Its pretty raw right now but give it a couple of months  and I will have some great things up there.  While I am toting boxes of books, preserves,plants,animals and a totally unrealistic Jimmy(he thinks this is all going to get done by magic)  You can go over to  http://www.astrologyartisan.com/  and read your  horoscope for your sun sign.  And I am open to comments on  what you think would make the site better.  I am learning as I go....so some good suggestions may take a while to implement.  But I am listening.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hump-dili-icious, Hash is fine, bored, setting the house on fire

HashTag is officially off the  "worried about him" list.  He's just fine. He's doing so fine that he has an early case of spring fever going on.   I almost feel like I need to cover my eyes when I go out in the back yard....   He starts by doing a little whirling dance in front of whichever of the  girls  he's decided needs his  attention.  When he  has her fully  hypnotised by the whirling,  without breaking rhythm he whirls right on top of his chosen love.  By the time she figures out whats going on..... its over!    As soon as we  are settled in the new place ( or  know for a fact that we are staying here for a while)  I am going to try and incubate  the, obviously, fertilised eggs.  Yes, I know,  the results will be mad max looking  chickens.  They should have good temperaments like Hash , lay decent eggs and be broody.   Most of your modern laying hens have had brooding bred out of them. It interferes with egg production since the hens don't lay  for two months while they are setting and then mothering. 
Sadness, sort of ,this week.  The last of the winter garden was officially eaten this week.   I know its only  January and I have another month to go before I can start any gardening.... But I am really itching to get my fingers in the dirt.    I'm pretty twitchy right now with this house thing going on.  I cant start any projects,  cant work on anything that takes any time or space. Oil paints  take forever to dry so I  cant do anything in the studio and the mortgage Gods have proclaimed 'spend no money' until this process is over.  This  'process' started the week before  Thanksgiving.  I am so bored!  Pay attention because it is likely you will never hear those words from me again.  Yes I have the fabric paints and I can crochet or  sew or work on my weaving, but really there are only so many tea towels and pot holders one can make!  Textile work is fun and rewarding and its great when you are snowed in but,  relying on it to keep me busy AND engaged for 2 months is asking a lot.  In an attempt to try some new things that don't cost money and can be completed in a short period of time..... I almost set the house on fire.   I have been intending for some time now to learn how to render fat both for soap making and cooking.  My 'country living skills'  book  has a nice page on how to clean your cooking oil so it can be reused instead of thrown out.  A couple of things here :  #1. It boils over like milk (fire hazard...guess what I did!)  #2. It stinks to high heaven!  I will never do this in the kitchen again.  This, like soap making, falls into the  outside activity only category.   After that  almost disaster, I broke into my cash stash (which has dwindled to almost nothing) and  went over to goodwill and bought a bunch of cheesy, historical bodice rippers.  I calculate I have  about 10 days of  reading fodder.  That should take us up to the deadline. 
Before I end this blog entry I would like to thank everyone who has invited me to do things over the last few weeks.  Please don't forget about me. I will be allowed out  of this mortgage imposed Guantanamo .....eventually. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Backyard chickens, snowed in, trichem fabric painting, cyber quilting bee without the quilting

I really hope the weather guys are right this time.  This snow and ice just needs to go away.   My chickens havent been out of the coop in 4 days.  Hash tag flings himself into my arms every time I go near the coop door.  Hester... bless her little chicken heart has been giving us an egg a day  even though there isnt really enough sunlight.  She's pretty stand up since the carnage in the coop.  She's taken a middle management stance.  Anytime  something is going on she runs  to the back door ,knocks until I answer and then marches  me to the problem.  Maybe we should have named her Lassie. 
The bright side of being snowed in?  Feral Jane and I have been skyping for hours as we each work on our  various knitting, crochet, painting and sewing projects.  Its pretty cool....  a cyber quilting bee (only without the quilting).   When the news guys started screaming STORM OF THE CENTURY!!!  I  figured I better find myself a couple of projects  to make  the cabin fever  less than nightmarish.  So, I picked up some liquid embroidery.  For those of you old enough to remember .... trichem, ball point,  fabric paint was all the rage in the 70's.  Now its almost impossible to find. But,  find it I did.  I also picked up several of Aunt Marthas embroidery transfers.  The first project was  painted onesies for reproducing friends in Portland.   I did cute little baby chicks and butterflies. Jimmy did a fire breathing dragon cooking a Buddha, while a giant Godzilla-like panda devastated  a serene village. (that ought ta put the  kid in therapy early).  I made  Feral Jane a matching set of Buddha tea towels.  The Good Typist  gets  hand painted   flowers on hand made pot holders.  And I will just keep going until the snow melts.  I'll make gifts until  everyone is covered and then I'll start sending the stuff to Etsy.  I looked.... There is a serious shortage of  tri-chem, hand painted,  tea towels on Etsy.   Yeah, I know this blog post  is singularly insipid.... But , Hey we are in deep winter.  There's not a lot to do  but sit in front of the fire and  do textile work  while the bread rises.  I should probably enjoy it.  A couple of months from now it will be all about soil and planting and  hatching baby chicks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The fearless Hashtag, blinded, tough guy

Hash is doing well. It was touch and go there for a while. 4 days ago we were really worried.  He was stumbling when he walked and couldn't navigate tight spaces without bumping head first into   walls and gates.  DD  found him laying on the ground upside  down, feet in the air and began screaming "MOM!".  By the time I got there he had righted himself and popped up.  We held him and gave him the once over but, couldn't find anything  medically wrong.  His injuries from the attack are mostly healed and some completely healed.   We finally concluded that he was temporarily blinded. He insists on sleeping below the  other chickens and sometimes ....in the middle of the night....they  leave presents on his head.  We are pretty sure that one of the presents got him in the eye that night. DD wiped off his face and after that he seemed to be ok.  He really is a poopy-head.  We moved his roost away from the  girls some time ago to stop this from happening. He just  stopped sleeping on his roost.  We have concluded  that he is making a personal choice and he must like it... or he would move.  I found a random silkie photo  on the web of what he should look like.    (kind of the poodle of chickens)


This is NOT Hashtag... But it is what he should look like!



This is the  Fearless Hashtag!  He always looks like this!



I think he does it on purpose to look tougher!  But how do you tell a chicken  politely , that he stinks?

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