Wednesday, November 16, 2016

4 years to do the right thing

I was  surprised on election night  that  Donald Trump actually made it into the white house. Horrified actually.   He is the type of person  that  makes my  hand itch with the desire to punch him in the face every he opens his mouth. He  is  everything I detest. He is thoughtless, inconsiderate and lacks compassion for the  human condition.  He's  a bored billionaire  with a dimwitted trophy wife   that wanted to add  'and the president of the united states'   to  his  Wikipedia page.  To be perfectly honest , I think it is embarrassing to have a president that was once a  trashy reality tv star.  All that said... He is now the  duly and legally elected  leader of America.   I have a lot of faith in this country and its people. I am unwilling to label  all the folks who voted for him  as racist, sexist, homophobes.  But I do  want to know why so many would  choose someone that is so obviously unqualified for  the job.  Someone who is so far  outside the establishment. ... Why?     As has become my habit over the last 30 years when I am faced with a conflict, I  always  look to home first. I  always  turn inward and examine  what I am doing  that contributes to the problem. I examine my own culpability.    So, that is what I am trying to do now.  I'm bringing it home.
Its very easy for us, up here in our beautiful pacific nw, to judge others for the choice that was made.  We are  oh so enlightened.  We are so accepting and  tolerant of  diversity.... as long as  the diversity is in a category  that we like.  But if you want to see the  tolerance and compassion go out the  window   just put a poor person in the  room (any color, gender, sexual orientation).      We have no tolerance for poverty or those who live in it or near it.   Unfortunately  having a job, any job, is no longer a ticket out of  poverty.   We have no respect for people  in the service industry. Which , by the way, makes up the majority of jobs in WA  state.    I can not tell you how many times I have heard   he or she is  'just' a server, mechanic, housekeeper etc,   as if having a lower wage job makes some one a lower class person.   With the emphasis on class.   We may not  discount  the person of color next to us or  the lgbt person(s) but  the   person  handing you your change at the drive through window is invisible.  Its ok to bulldoze their home and put up luxury apartments or condos  . Cuz they can 'go some where else'  (sound familiar?)   If they cant afford  to live where they work well, they can  get a better job.    Yep, we have our own brand of  bigotry and intolerance up here.        We can say that we voted the right way and  didn't contribute to the  left losing  in the federal election  but, we did.   Not yesterday but quietly  over the last few years we have  allowed some reprehensible  things to happen in our state in the name of obscene profit.  Before we can wag a finger at the rest of the country for desperately  trying to achieve change in their circumstances,  we need to fix our  own problems...... Or  4 years from now  the wave of  anger  that took the white  house   will be a tsunami that we cant escape.

  We in Washington State on the right, on the left and in the middle are a pretty enlightened bunch.  We  regularly  buck the feds  in a big way when we know what is right for our people. We have passed  a lot of legislation  for individual rights. We are good that way.   And then we pat ourselves on the back and take a nap.  Over the last 4  years while we were enjoying our celebratory  snooze I5  has become lined with homeless encampments, many of whom    were priced out of  their homes by runaway  rent  increases.    While we voted to increase the minimum wage in our state, we did nothing to stop   skyrocketing housing prices.   We still allow landlords  to  raise rents by astronomical numbers that  they choose, at the time they choose to do it.   Those tents, contrary to popular belief, are not all housing drug addicts. Many are housing working people  whose incomes simply couldn't  keep up with the cost of egregious rent increases.   I have a friend who gave me permission to use her  circumstances here.  She has a good job  working for a very respectable institution.  She  gets  a 2 to 3 %  cost of living raise every year.  Her rent  over the last five years has increased  12% a year.  The next  rent increase of 12% will put her into critical  failure.   Please don't respond with  'move', 'get a better job', 'get a better education', 'make better choices'  She has two degrees and has held her current position for several years.  She already lives in a tiny studio apartment.   She is one of the luckier ones because her  housing costs are not increasing by 30, 50  or 100 percent a year .  She is one of thousands  that our state is failing. That we are failing.

Then lets talk about the  drug addicts in the homeless camps  and opioid  addiction  in our state.  There is this idea  that all  drug addicts are  strung out meth heads or  needle  littering heroine junkies  that CHOSE to be addicts, that chose the lifestyle.  The sad fact is that enormous numbers of people in Washington state are addicted to pharmacological  opioids.    This can be laid  on the doorstep of big pharma.  They made a huge political  push  about 15 years  ago to  loosen the regulations  on class 3  drugs so they could more widely distribute them.  Then they  created an entire industry around them called 'pain management'.  Today , getting a prescription for an extremely  addictive  pain killer   is easier than   getting  a prescription for antibiotics.   In the name of profit we  have allowed big pharma to unleash a demon in our state.   When the problems associated with  addiction  become  evident we blame  the addict  who in the beginning was, most likely,  simply a patient , an individual who trusted  their  health care provider.    We let this happen by letting profit come first.

We all know that  our health care system is a nightmare. It is completely out of control.  The access  to health care in our state is based on  how much money you can pay insurance and health care providers.  Health care in our state is only available  to those who can pay.    Those who can pay  are coddled and swaddled  in the loving arms of the  medical industry ,their every need anticipated and met .  Those  who cant pay or those who cant pay as much?  ...  well, they can pretty much 'f*&k off  and die.  We need to create a single payer system in this state that bypasses  the  for profit, traded on wall street, insurance  companies.  We need a  system that puts every penny paid into  taking care of  our people, not putting money into shareholder pockets.  We need to push back at very greedy pharmaceutical  companies  that have raised prices  astronomically  on  essential lifesaving drugs like  insulin  and asthma inhalers.  If this means  turning to Canadian or Mexican  pharmaceutical suppliers , then so be it. Everything else in America is produced in other countries to  cut costs, there is no reason why we cant take our business  across the border.

Better jobs.  We have  enough  service position  jobs.  We have enough  high paying tech jobs. What we don't have are enough mid level  manufacturing/production jobs that pay a living wage. 

We need to stop runaway development  and foreign  real estate investors from pushing  more and more of our people into poverty. We need to stop the medical industry from pushing more and more of our people into poverty. We need to stop our  cities, counties and state from putting  'tax revenue'  before the  quality of life of our people and pushing more and more of them into poverty.  We need to  take social responsibility for  where we live. We can not keep  pushing  out an entire  segment of our population and we  can not  continue to allow policies that  increase  that population. .  We have work to do.  Rioting in the streets and posting on social media about how unhappy  we are  with the newly (and let me add again  LEGALLY) elected  administration is pointless.  Standing up and doing the right thing where we  live  is the  only available action to us that  can bring a positive outcome  to all this divisiveness.

We cant  do anything about  who was elected POTUS for at least 4 years.   That gives us 4 years to  change how ALL of  the  people  of Washington State are treated. 4 years to insure  a good quality of life for all of our people. 4 years to set an example for the rest of the country to follow.  4 years to  abolish  the messed up class system that  has  divided us all.   Four years  to even out the egregious  income disparity  that is growing daily.  4 years to set an example for the rest of the country to follow.
Can we do it? Yes.   It wouldn't be the first time in the history of Washington State  that we smiled sweetly, gave the feds the finger and did  the right thing.     The very first time we did it was in 1856.    The last time we did it  was 2012.   In the last 163 years  we have defied the feds  on 12 occasions that I know about.  In each case  other states followed our example.  And they will again if we do the right thing.

(Inane little chicken reports will return next blog)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Seepy barn,canning marathon , the theory and evolution of sewing and some gratitude

The barn isn't leaking but its still wet inside. That's how much rain we have had since summer ended. The wet is just seeping in from everywhere.   Since I keep the chickens in the barn, its an issue. I think I am going to have to build that new coop much sooner than the  spring time.  The problem is that  when I am forced to  do something before I am ready, any  fine , well organized plans go straight down the toilet and I end up  throwing   something together  with whatever I have handy.  In this case I have  a 4 star chicken hotel planned for  the spring time in an all new location. If I have to do it now, in the rain and cold and dark with only  a few hours of daylight to work in, its going to wind up a  run down shack. A dry shack but still.... a shack.   I like  pretty plans. Given enough time  my plans turn out like my vision.  My best is example of this is my new kitchen curtains. A couple of years ago I got an amazing deal on some fabric.  Its  a very  delicate  loose weave muslin with  a   ladder weave  stripe in it.  The edges were woven to look unfinished.  Its cream  and a kind of very light rose-ish color.   The whole effect is  country rustic   but elegant. It lets in light but provides the needed privacy. I have huge windows so the privacy thing was important.   I have been planning on making these for  two years and they turned out  exactly like I wanted them too. I have to give credit to the Good Typist  for actually  getting them done. She inspired me with her  newly found enthusiasm  for  sewing.  I  have taken sewing for granted for  most of my life.  I learned the art watching my Great Grandmother  churn out  items on her  treadle sewing machine.   If a textile  item was needed  she would excuse herself and return a  while later with the item in hand, pot holders, pillows ,  a quick dress for yours truly (seriously, it took her  about 15 minutes to make a sun dress for a 6 year old).  I learned the craft almost by osmosis.  So, the only time I  ever really think about sewing is when I want something.   My thinking about it always consists of  what the end product will be. It might  be a throw pillow or a Halloween costume ,   a heavy canvas bag for my rock hounding  or just putting  a hem in a piece of fabric that I like  to use for a table cloth but, its always about the end product.  While I know the history of  the craft of sewing and the evolution of  textiles over the centuries , I have never taken the time  to  contemplate  the philosophy or   theory behind the craft until  The Good Typist pointed some things out to me.   Her expressed  thoughts have made sewing interesting again.  Will they make me an  amazing seamstress? I'm pretty certain they  wont change my skill level but,  only because I'm content  with simply being  adequate  at the craft.  So, thank you Good Typist for the infectious  enthusiasm  you have  injected into  my craft world.   I  also need to thank  Mini Break Massage  owner Sherry Williams for the enormous bolt of fabric that  she gave me on our last visit together.    Its a very  artsy  print  that will need to be  contemplated  before I cut into it.
And then there is baby sister.  She showed up this weekend with all of her canning supplies in tow determined to break last years record of 80 jars in one day.   We did . 90 jars in one day.  65 jars on day 2.   At the end of the weekend we split up 155 jars of  blackberry, salmonberry, plum, apple butter and persimmon.  I  found the persimmons at the  local fruit  stand and accidentally bought $30  worth of them. No I am not going to go into the  full Lucille Ball moment  that lead  me to  drag home way more persimmons  than any normal  person would need.  We used part of them to make jam and the rest of them I am going to ferment.    Baby Sister and I  were blank eyed  canning robots by the middle of day 2 when DD showed up to   add her support.      We had the process finely tuned by the time DD arrived  so she  took a turn stirring a pot, washed  some  dishes  for us then raided the fridge and took a nap on the couch while  Sis and I finished up. To my credit, I added a second water bather to my canning tools this year  so we cut the water bathing time in half this weekend. I would add a third but my stove isn't big enough for another one.   Jimmy was a man-saint  throughout the whole weekend. He would wander up from the basement and his xbox every so often  and get a taste of what we were creating and then wander quietly back down  stairs. We hardly knew he was here.   I cant say the same for him . We spent a full 24 hours  stomping around and banging pots and pans right above his  head.   Altogether it was a very productive time even though I still think  baby sis is a slave driver.
There is still more canning to be done  but most of this years preserving is finished. I finally took the last  batch of hawthorn tea out of the dehydrator  and  unplugged it for the season.   The dehydrator got a pretty good workout this  year.    The herb rack is almost done for the season as well. It has the  last of this years harvest  on it and they should be ready to grind and put in jars in about two weeks.   I think I miss the herb rack most of all  during the winter.   It really is my indicator, my seasonal stopwatch even.  Its the first thing to go up in the spring and the last thing to get put away in the late fall.   While it is still up , there is still work to do.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Visitors,vacation, tweedles, chicks and Charlotte fixed

I've  been thinking about this blog for  about a week now. Its been such a crazy busy summer  with lots of visitors, a vacation  and some  work  in between.  I almost posted 4 days ago but then I cut my index finger doing something stupid.   I took the band-aid off this morning so I could type and now my finger is sticking to the keyboard. Such has been my world for the last 3 months.
I'm going to start this with  an update  from the long ago last blog.  The pullets are no longer pullets. They are full grown layers now and their eggs are very popular in the neighborhood.  Mostly because they are cheaper than  free range eggs in the stores and  fresher as well.  They are laying enough  to  supply  our household needs and those of egg customers and some for the local  foodbank.  Our community building experiment with the chicken feeder went well during the summer but it is definitely dropping off  now that the light is going away and  the kids have gone back to school.  I'm on the fence  about pulling it for the winter.  Its kind of a pain to lug it up and down the hill everyday   and when we get a downpour  its kind of messy (I need some sort of rain hat for it)  but I don't want to disappoint the  4 people  that come by every week   like clockwork.   And I don't want to have to retrain the chickens in the spring, to run to the fence.  So I gotta think about this one for a bit.  Jimmy says I started it and I need to keep going. Kenmore is in the middle of a lot of changes right now. Tons of development  going on and to be perfectly honest the stuff they are doing downtown is  oppressively  over crowded and looks like  Halloween colored, post WWII ,European reconstruction housing. Jimmy  affectionately calls them " Tomorrows ghettos ... Today!".    So, our community  kinds of needs a gentle  activity right now.  That alone might keep me trudging out there twice  a day even though it feels  like a  Sisyphean task.
Canning and winemaking  got put on the back burner  because of all the chaos  around here. While the kids were here for three weeks the DIL and I did manage to get in a little jelly making and we spent an afternoon  getting the  dried herbs  ground  and into jars.    The  4 year  granddaughter was a delight.  She was so excited to  work 'on the farm' and participate in the grownup activities that she took every single task very seriously.  She carefully spooned ground sage,thyme,rosemary and tarragon into  jars.  She fed the chickens every day and gathered eggs  religiously.    Together we made enough hawthorn tea to last the winter and we even did a couple of  very simple sewing projects.   She also fixed Charlotte.   It took her a few days to  get comfortable  with the idea that she could pick up and carry a chicken (Charlotte is so TAME).   Then I began to worry for Charlottes safety.   The kid was relentless! After a few days of  being targeted by a 4 year old, Charlotte began running from her on sight (unless she had food)   running ,not limping.   Just when I was going to intervene on Charlottes behalf  I realized  that  our little crippled chicken was getting  a form of  PT that I never could have provided her with and that  my coddling of  her had done more harm than good.  I decided  to let their relationship continue to build  with some judicious monitoring.   The granddaughter left a few days ago and Charlotte  has been missing her constant companion (and  endless food source) And I miss her too.
We have new additions to  the  menagerie.  While we were on vacation someone tiptoed into our yard, in the middle  of the night, and  put two  coal black Cayuga ducklings into our chicken coop.  The house sitter LOVED that one.  Jimmy named them 'The Tweedles'  We introduced them to the pond outback and  they have happily integrated.  Two days ago  they filled my heart with joy. They were up by the house ,in the garden area, slurping up one giant slug after another.  Once again my Grandmother was right. She said 'ducks or geese will solve your slug problem'.
I also need to say thankyou to a couple of  generous neighbors who  provided me with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers  that they couldn't use.   We got 13 jars of pickles and will have quite a bit of tomatoe sauce   when I get them done.  The freezer is full of fruit that needs to be turned into something delicious so I guess the next couple of weeks are  already scheduled for me.  I just hope I have enough jars!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Hindered by love,Chicken business, community building, shaded garden, too many passengers

Its been so long since I wrote you  that I had to reread  the last  couple of blogs to remember  what I said.   I will try to pick up where I left off.
On chicken business...The feeder  is doing well.  I'm not as close to a million dollars as I thought I would be by now  but its  at least paying for the chicken feed. So, mission priority accomplished.  Turns out  it is also a good community builder.  It helped that one of the broody hens hatched a chick.  (out of nine eggs she only managed to get one chick) .  The first day  mamma hen brought the baby out created a spontaneous happening.   Once they were sighted together it didn't take long for a group to  form  that was  leaning on the fence sighing and cooing quietly. Charlotte  is a p.r.  dream.  She has no problem with being petted and will eat gently from any hand  full of treats.  I still worry about her. She has a permanent limp  and is still very small.   After hashtag I said I wouldn't get  attached to any single bird again , but she chips away at my resolve daily. She visits  the house on a regular basis. If I'm not  outside she knocks on the door until I answer.  She doesn't have the respect or fear of  'the big coop" like the other  chickens do. If the door is open she just limps right in for a visit.   She has developed an even  more worrisome habit. She recognizes  the sound of the car now.   Instead of running away from it like the other birds, she runs towards it.  So does the dog.   Our ingress and egress from the property is hindered by love.   I suppose I could take the time to pen  them both up and then park the car,  but its  just faster and less complicated to put them in the car and drive the last twenty feet  with a chicken on my lap and  a dog on the passenger seat.   I had to smile a couple of days ago when Jimmy got home from work. I looked out the window  in time to see him  drive in with Charlotte on his lap. The neighbors must think we're nuts!  They're probably right.
Gardening lesson.  We had one of the warmest Aprils on record  so  we planted early this year.  I'm not going to do that again. Yes it was warm and sunny but for vegetables  the light wasn't  right. It wasn't the right kind of light at the right angle. The cabbages  and a few other things got 'leggy' and I had to replant. I just have to admit that we live to far north  for early planting.  We have a different kind of light up here in the Pacific Northwest than  folks in the southern region. I've had a few other light issues  with my garden as well. The first couple of years we were here  the garden location was ok.  Did anyone here know that trees grow?... a lot?  One of the willows   has grown to enormous proportions since we've been here and  is providing  a lovely shade...for my garden.   A few days ago I  traded off a couple of jars of jam for someone to  trim it enough to get some light on  the snow peas this year. Next year I am probably just going to move the beds. I like having the garden just outside the kitchen  door. .  But I would have to cut down three trees  to keep it there.   I cant do that to the willow. The thing is turning into a monument  to all things PNW.  I did keep the branches though. I'm going to  strip the bark and dry it   and try to make a willow bark salve for aches and pains.
Raspberries. They came in early this year and went out early. I  have about 20 pounds of raspberries in the freezer just waiting for baby Sis ' visit in July. I don't think I'm going to let little Sis bully me into making 82 jars of jelly in one day this year.  I think this year I will hold her hostage for a weekend and we will spread it out over two days.    It shouldn't be too painful for her though. I turned the blackberries she gave me last year into   three gallons of wine. I'll just keep her glass full and she will never even notice  where the time went! If she does catch on I will  subdue her with  some of the raspberry vinegar I started last week. 
In the meantime...I am waiting for the pullets to begin laying ...any MINUTE now.....ok Would be a good time....are we laying yet?.... ok NOW!  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Chickens, gardening,chicken business and berries

The warmest April I can remember...ever... inspired Jimmy and I to  get our garden in early.   I wasn't sure what would happen because a few years ago we were also inspired to  put in our garden early and then it snowed on us.  Not this year.  Over the last week  pretty little greens popped up in every bed and  all the beans  broke through the soil. We should have snow peas by the end of May. 
I spent one of our sunny April days  with a pitchfork doubling the size of the  squash bed and moving all the sod to a different location. (it hasn't died yet so I have a hopeful heart) We will be putting the squash and tomatoes in in about two weeks. 
The biggest challenge as always is keeping the chickens and wild rabbits out of the newly planted beds so everything is netted and safe. Just in time too as a whole warren of bunnies has been running through the yard. We have also had deer sightings this  year and  we have been adopted by a mated pair of mallards. Those two are something else. I first met them when they came to the kitchen door a couple of weeks ago quacking  and demanding to be fed. They were almost in the kitchen proper  before I figured out what they were doing.
We are crawling with critters around here. The new chicks are doing well...all except one.  Little tiny Charlotte  was not developing as well or growing as fast as the others and then she started limping so  we brought her back inside and put her back in the brooder with special feed and a lamp. She is alert and she looks like she is growing a bit but her limp isn't any better.  I don't want to lose her, she is the sweetest and tamest of the run.  Her run mates are beginning to look and sound like  grown chickens  so I hope she catches up. Her run mates are also enjoying the feeder. When I first put it in I had my doubts but this week it seems to be coming together.  All the chickens have learned  that that is where food comes from. Instead of disappearing when someone walks by they now run up to the fence and  give strangers  their best hungry orphan  look. I'm not sure yet but I think they have a  guard rotation going on. One of them is always  in the area of the feeder and  when someone comes along the  one watching gives a squawk and they all come running.  The best thing about the feeder is that it keeps the chickens off the front porch and out of the garden.      So far we have two toddlers as  regular customers. They come by with their dads and  gleefully shout bock bock  and clap their hands as dads pour quarters into the machine. Best customers EVER!    There is a real difference in the way Moms and Dads  treat the kids at the feeder. Dads shovel in quarters until they are all gone, filling up cupped hands  to overflowing each time.  Moms put in one quarter and  meet out tiny handfuls of feed to the single child. If mom has more than one kid they each get a quarter (or maybe two)  and then mom says "That's enough for today. We will come back again".  Dad's (and granddads) appear to be one-time big spenders but Mom's make for  good repeat customers.   So, the Mystic Cedars chicken business is off to a good start.
With the garden in and the feeder taking care of itself, I feel like I can get some artwork done.  I needed the break anyway because I had a  studio full of wet oil paintings that I kept bumping into .
Maybe next blog I will report on the massive amount of berries  we are seeing bloom this year.  The storms took down low hanging branches and Jimmy cleared a ton of brush when he cleaned up the debris. It opened up hawthorn, elderberry and currants that hadn't seen sun in years. Cant wait to see what wine and jelly making season  bring this year!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Yay Spring, Egg money, petting zoo feeder, new chicks, Jimmy's VIG

Spring is definitely here.  The first  spring flowers have popped up all over Mystic Cedars in the last 4 days. The salmonberry  bushes are full of bright pink  flowers. If the flowering is any indication ,we should have a bumper crop this year. The pear trees  are looking very pretty as well so I am full of hope for a fine harvest in the fall.
DD and I ordered 30 chicks back February. She brought my half of them   with her when she came for Easter.  6 Leghorns and 6 Rhode island reds.  She kept the extras.  They were kept in the brooder until  all their feathers came in  and until it was warm enough for them to be outside. This weeks warm weather was perfect for integrating them into the old flock. They are doing  quite well.  One of the leghorns is already showing signs of being a rooster. That's ok.  DD and I both want to try to raise  sexlink ISA browns. ISA browns  are the worlds most prolific layers.     We are going to need  prolific layers  because I am getting more requests for eggs than my current flock can produce.  I thought I would need to put a sandwich sign out front when I had  'extra' eggs  but it looks as though most folks want a standing order. I've let everyone know that there will be more  fresh, free range, organics eggs by the end of June.
The 3 November  babies that we allowed to hatch are all grown up. Two of them were roosters. DD took one and the other is promised to a flock on the eastside of the mountains. He was  going to go there last week but there was an interruption in  transport plans at the last minute. So, Jimmy and I will be taking a special trip over to deliver him soon (unless someone headed to the tri-cities wants to give him a ride this week).  Jimmy and I are very surprised at how  big this  guy is. He is  only 5 months old and is already  larger than our  3 year old Wyandotte ( his daddy).  If he keeps growing like this he will be the size of a small turkey by his first birthday.
And in other chicken news. We finally  got the petting zoo  chicken feeder in.  This turned out to be a bigger project than Jimmy and I anticipated. We decided to put it under the old apple tree.  We had to clear an enormous pile of  blackberry entwined windfall  to get to the fence area where we decide to  put it. It took us two days to clear it all and get it chipped up. When we were finished we discovered the only thing holding the fence up was the  enormous pile that we had just taken away. So, Jimmy  had to replace  an 8 foot section of the fence. But it is in.  I was so excited after all the work we did that I anticipated huge crowds  on the first  day.  I watched from the window on the first day  to see the crowds show up ....and I watched and I waited and I waited.  I finally got bored and wandered away. When I went out in the evening to bring the machine in.... it had indeed  been used and I ......missed it. Day 2  a few more folks noticed it  and  had fun feeding the girls.  I noticed yesterday that there were people who wanted to feed the chickens but the chickens had  wandered off  to their favorite  little sunny spots. So, yesterday I learned that a petting zoo chicken feeder only works if there are chickens around to feed. So, now I just need to get the girls to be in the right place at the right time.    When I was building the fantasy for this in my head was a lot easier.  AND in my fantasy...Jimmy didn't demand 20%  for beer money for all the work he put in to make it happen.  After  much negotiation (arguing) we did a handshake deal.  He gets his 20% AFTER the monthly  chicken feed  purchase.  This whole thing was conceived after Jimmy  got nasty about how much I spend on chicken feed. It was an argument about something completely different AND he was losing  so he  decided to throw a low punch and bring the girls into the fight.   He was right, I was spending  part of our budget on chicken feed but, no more. The girls are now paying their own way and he gets a vig.  He will never be able to use my chickens against me in an argument again.  During the negotiations he tried to  snag of vig off the egg money too but, I put  my  size 6  foot firmly down on that one.  Egg money is a sacred,  time honored tradition  and   generations of men across the world have had to  learn  the hard way  to keep their hands and minds off that little jar of change.  Thanks to a christmas gift from DD, I know exactly how much is in there .  She bought me a change jar with a digital counter on the lid.
I don't want you to think that there is a permanent rift over any of this. Last night after everything was done I pulled off a bottle of the homemade blackberry wine and we sat companionably by a fire in the backyard right up until he started making plans for the egg money... 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Art,acting, Artisan lifestyle continuum, wine, vinegar, chicks, classic layers ...and so forth.

This is not an abandoned blog!  I swear! Its just that there was nothing to blog about over the dark rainy holidays. I mean I can only  write so much  about sitting in front of the fire  reading or  binge watching netflix. Once the holiday ho-hums  were over Jimmy and I were  busy getting back in the groove. While I was doing art and acting things Jimmy was working on his  'botanicals'. I think I mentioned before that the previous owner left us all kinds of  herbal treasures all over the yard and that we have several indigenous  medicinal plants in the secret garden in the back.   Jimmy and I both spent time making  coconut oil infusions with our  herbs.     We have  a shelf in the kitchen now full of mason jars ready for use in  other things.  I made soap out  of mine and Jimmy has been making  salves and  balms.  We are excited for spring this year so we can gather leaves from indigenous  deciduous  trees like our twin berry. Jimmy harvested most of  the comfrey  plant we have been nurturing for the last 4 years. So, we are almost starting over with that one. Fortunately comfrey is impossible to kill.
When  Mini Break Massage  heard what we were doing, she made a donation of  essential oils  to our project..... a shoe box full!  Many Thanks Sherry! Of course one of the 'after holidays' things we always need to do is  continue to process out some of the harvest from last year.  The raspberry and blackberry wine started last summer had to be wracked off for possibly the last time.  This stuff is so good I'm not sure its going to make it to the  bottling phase. I pulled off a bottle of each to take down to seaside with me when I delivered  some art to Angie of  Expressions Avenue.  It was  a delightful almost all nighter of wine  and art and conversation on  every topic imaginable. Ya know those  nights where your eyes are burning and you are so tired  you cant remember the names of things but, you just cant bring yourself to go to bed yet? It was one of those. And Angie thank you for the coconut oil sugar scrub!
Feral Jane and I had the opportunity to  do some script work  this month too.  I got to show off my  blackberry vinegar while she was here.  She brought some  great costume pieces with her too.  The best thing about hanging with Feral Jane  is that we have as much fun now playing dress up as we did when we were kids.   (think horsehide  biker jacket and long blond wig)
In the mean time DD and I are patiently waiting for  Feb 22nd. That's the day when we get  our chick order. 12 leghorns and 12  RI Reds plus a couple extra.... just in case. DD and I are going to  try turkeys this year too.   Over the last 6 months  we have had long conversations about the merits of classic layers.  She  has had the same problem I have  with heritage breeds  spending all their time trying to make babies.  I only have to chase mine around one acre  but DD has to hunt 7 acres to keep them from hiding in the bushes and laying.  And then of course we have the roo issue.  Nature  wants to keep things balanced, so in any brood  half of them will be boys.
Lots of things going on at mystic cedars.  One of the current projects is coming up with a logo  for Mystic Cedars soap. Way too many ways to go with this one.