Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cinderella, meet Tony

Wash the dishes Cinderelly, clean the floor Cinderelly. I was thinking of that a minute ago as I was cleaning out the bottom of my trash can on my anniversary while dear husband slaves away at another day of work. That movie was a total scam. You don't get rescued from cleaning then get married then get dressed up all prettily... You get dressed up all prettily, get married, and then begin a life of cleaning! Walt Disney collaborated with men across the country to perpetuate the first scenario's myth so women wouldn't stop marrying all together, I am sure of it.

My mom will tell you- we have it easy these days. She washed cloth diapers out by hand and never owned a dishwasher. Yes, compared to my mom, I am a wimp of a housewife. Actually, compared to most anyone, I am a wimp of a housewife. I don't understand how you can move on to anything significant when you just have to keep doing the same thing over and over and over. Tony Robbins never gives motivational speeches on housework. He wouldn't know what to say. It's the one thing that would make him speechless. What can he say? "If you are really successful at meeting this goal you will get to do it all over again tomorrow." You're not going to move a lot of motivational books with that message, and Tony knows it.

Mary might have been doing what was more prudent than Martha in the bible, but can we then conclude that Mary lived in a pigsty and Martha should too if she wanted to have more time to spend with God? This is my conclusion though I am sure the old consortium of men at bible seminary (referring to their Disney notes) never teach this. They want their wives to be Mary and Marthas- Marthys.... which bears a very close resemblance to the word martyr, doesn't it?

Well! I made a decision today. I am going to hire a maid. Some way. Some how. Some time. I've got things to do in life and cleaning out trash cans in Marthydom is not getting me there.

If you don't believe hiring a maid is biblical, may I refer you to Proverbs 31- the infamous wonderful wife chapter of the bible? The chick had servants and lots of them. How can she consider a field and buy it and with her profit plant a vineyard if her dishes are stacked up? That's all I'm saying.

ANd now that I really think about it, Tony would say to get a maid too... which is probably why he has moved so many books. So, thank you Mr. Robbins. I'll take that advice. NOW! I just need to figure out how to incorporate it into the Dave Ramsey guidelines. I shall have to think about that over sweeping.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mo Cow bell- A Saturday in the Life

It was a good Saturday. We got a lot done and hope to get a lot more done tomorrow. I am sort of getting into a routine of updating you on the farm animals, though I am not sure why.

Today we put cowbells on both cows. Cory thought we could let them roam a bit while he worked on the fence (he wired the entire perimeter today). He says it was my idea but I don't remember that part. They went into the woods behind the house farther than I was willing to follow them in snake season, then something spooked them (my guess? A snake). They took off, past the house, up the driveway past Cory working in the field, and just kept on running.

So Cory jumps in the truck and a few minutes later comes driving behind them back. Buttercup started going into the neighbors' yard, so he got out and corralled them on foot when I snapped this picture. His hand is in the air because he is telling me, "enough with the pictures!" The cow bells work though! We could hear them tinkling all day. I tried not to imagine how I would feel if a bell rang every time I moved. I tried really hard. So I overcame that thought with the Saturday Night Live skit mantra: "I got a fever, and the only prescription is mo cow bell!" [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qWCOJPwdXw] Then I felt better. I don't know if the cows ever saw that, though; so they might still think it is, well, maddening. That's probably where mad cow disease came from, come to think of it.

Anyway, we ended up staking them in the yard for the day since we have such nice tall clover right now and they loved it. The only down side is that now I have to clean up manure from our yard...which is why I don't let them usually do that. Oh, and I stepped in it. (sarcastic) Yippy.

On Friday I went to the grocery store, came back, and there was one chicken too few. After making sure the other six were all right I checked the woods and could see a white feathered body. When Cory got home he examined it and then checked our chicken book. The verdict was that it was a weasel; there was a broken neck and 2 small puncture marks on the neck. All is back to normal with the chickens except they are starting to get a little rowdy. It's about time for the roosters to start fighting and that they are... we will have to decide what to do about that very soon.

The ducks have finally feathered out enough that they can swim; so we modified the kids' old swimming pool for them and they had a grand old time. As soon as they can fly we will transition them down to the creek, but right now they wouldn't be able to defend themselves against predators.

The boys must have gotten the idea from the ducks, because they decided it was a good day to get wet too.

Cory finished putting together my garden boxes so hopefully tomorrow I can actually get my garden planted! He is hoping to get the starter on the tractor too, so the garden may be depending on that. We need to grade the driveway so the area where the boxes will be won't be washed out next rain.

The really good part about a working tractor will be that we can get the other unwooded plot of ground near our house (that was the previous owners' garden) all prepped to plant grass seed for a new pasture. I don't know if it is too late in the year for that but we are going to do it anyway... as soon as it is growing we can switch the cows over and improve the pasture they are on now. We did get a new paddock ready for them, so we moved their shelters and all their feeding implements to it; then fed and watered all the birds. I cooked dinner while the kids showered and Cory tried to get a part of the tractor. And what would be a country weekend without a tick removal (yuck!!!)

Inside the house I am hoping Cory can get the kitchen cabinet doors he made for me hung. I just finished painting them on Friday. There is still so much to do but we are wonderfully tired from a day outside. It's the best kind of tired.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scratching through manure and spaghetti nests

Well, hello.

A week has slipped by already. I had a chance to step back and get a few things worked on around here.

The cows have been a lot of work simply because their fencing is not complete, so keeping them on fresh grass is still challenging so far. I managed to transition them from bottles to a feed pan today... much easier on me. They, however, slurp it up so fast that they assume there should be much more coming. There was a lot of moo-ing going on because of that. Actually, it was mostly Caramel; and he often says "me" instead of "moo." If you pet Buttercup first or give her anything first he just looks at you and says "mmmmeee."

The chickens are feathering out and plumping up nicely. They are also starting to do their job in the field. The picture shows a cowpie they scratched through and left their little calling card on, in the center of it...yay! That means they are sanitizing the pasture. If you aren't familiar with Joel Salatin's methods, once the chickens scratch through it, the cow manure won't be contaminating the groundwater or air. The chickens have aerated it and it is well on its way to becoming fertilizer for the pasture.

Speaking of scratching through manure, this week there was an influx of bad news about food issues (and many other world issues for that matter). It can really be overwhelming to think of the greed at the heart of someone who is willing to cause sickness or death to countless others in the name of profit, but that is simply what is happening in the nation today. One of my biggest challenges is to find a way to champion the causes that matter, but then compartmentalize them. Here is why. We are the intuitive sensing gender and that means that the weight of the feelings that are aroused in us because of sin is much heavier. That can be a real problem if it overlaps into daily life... and that is what has been happening to me.

I was told there is a book out called Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti. I used to resent stereotypes like that because I have a very strong logical and analytical side as well; but you know what? It's true. Things become very easily all intertwined for women. It's the reason we can handle doing so many things at once. However when one of the spaghetti noodles (or more) is toxic, my little spaghetti nest that I'm making in the woods for my family isn't the joyful place of peace and hope I want it to be anymore.

I've thought about this a lot because I do believe it is irresponsible to ignore what's happening in the world. But, for me, it has become a hinderance to let it be tangled up with all the rest of the good things in life- things of joy and hope and peace. So my solution is to address the bad, but try my hardest to keep it out of the spaghetti. I want to be able to return to my nest and the hope we have been promised; and remember in His presence is fullness of joy. He has given grace and peace to us, and that makes for a very lovely nest.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

cow wipes needed

Good news, people. The chickens didn't cross the road this morning. I opened the door in the other direction and they ran that way instead. It seems they are just so glad to get to run and flap first thing in the morning that if you open the door toward the road they are going to invariably cross it just out of freedom glee. I have solved an age old mystery. Surely, I have arrived.

A few years back at 9:30 on a Monday morning I would have invariably been in a Monday morning meeting. I would have gotten up way earlier, put on those evil things called pantyhose; loaded my heavy laptop in one arm and a kid in another and dropped them off at some brightly decorated institution so I could sit in traffic at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and begin my day's mental work: how to stop that madness. Then I would get to work and eat a pack of cookies out of the vending machine (that's healthy) and go to the meeting in the conference room.

This morning I was standing in a field with a giant bottle feeding Buttercup...

Then she pulls on the nipple so hard it comes out of the bottle and sloshes 2 pints of milk onto her face. Surprise cow! They aren't attached permanently. So I get over the fence quickly to go make another batch while she frantically tries to find something on me resembling the milk source.... but then I pause.

I can't leave her here, or that milk will dry all over her face... and unlike for my children, I have no baby wipes handy. So I picked up the hose and sprayed her right in the face. I think I broke the cow-calf bond, in case you were wondering, in that very moment.

I have several goals today: 1.)read with my kids and teach them something 2.)fold the laundry pile that has been on the couch for 2 weeks. 3.)reconsider a business opportunity that has come up 4.) work on the business I already have been developing.

I hope you enjoy your family today and take a few steps toward your goals too.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The sacrifencial chicken

I don't really think I can say something everyday that directly relates to moving to the country, but my grandkids, when I have them, will know more about me than, "this was grandma's recipe or chair" or whatever; and that's all I really care about. It's not that I want to be remembered by my descendents but I want them to know what God was and did in my life, you know? If there is one thing I wish I knew about the people that are dead and gone up my lineage, it's that.

The scripture says in Revelation that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. That anything we would say would be counted worthy to be coupled with the cross in that way is humblingly astounding and we should do it- say it, write it down.

My little challenge with talking about rural stuff is that there are many people WAY more experienced than I am out there who have written all about it. I basically have no experience with most of the hands on things I am attempting right now. What I can offer are observations that I haven't come across in any of the books I've read and ponderings that I wish I would have come across. Here's one:

Dear Joel Salatin, I bought both your books and understand to rotate the chickens after the cows in the paddocks so they scratch through the manure making it great for the soil etc.etc. Here's my question: Since we are using electric fence for the cows, if the chickens touch the fence on their turn through, will they be electrocuted to death? I mean, I do know that that is how big poultry operators do in their birds so surely they can't handle the kind of voltage a cow can. Yours Truly, Jackie

Joel doesn't have an 800 number and a call center for questions, unfortunately.

So with this question in mind, this weekend we finally got two new paddocks set up and moved the cows to fresh grass; then took the chicken box and chickens up to officially begin work on their first paddock. I guess I could have thrown a test chicken at the electric fence to see what would happen since we have 2 roosters and only need one; but I didn't think of that until just now.

So later on I am going to mosey up to the field and see if there are any dead chickens fried to my fence due to some oversight I made in my poultry literature selections. If I post about this again you can assume that it was an affirmative. If I don't you can assume chickens' legs are made of ground rods.

(following was the original followup post that has now been edited to be pasted below):

As a follow up to yesterday's post, there are no fried chickens on my fence but it may be because, right now they are too short and just go right under! It's possible they are getting slightly zapped in the head, but I can't tell if their IQ is going down because, well, they're chickens.

I don't know if the paddock thing is working though because even though their box is there, they keep going across the lane into the woods to scratch for bugs. It happened yesterday when we first took them up but I just thought they were curious. When I let them out this morning, though, they headed straight there. So on my way back in after feeding the cows I stood there for a minute and thought, "why are these chickens crossing the road?" and then God and I had a good laugh. It's as if the real source of that joke was revealed to me after all these years and I felt like I was initiated.... like maybe we are farmers- who knows.