Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blog blip, catching up after a looong break- part 2: Summer

All through the summer the house was still torn apart and I had banned all visitors. I wasn't happy about that, but I wasn't joking either. The level of mess we are living in is just shy of maddening to me.

Oddly enough, we had a couple show up on our doorstep one night because their truck had gotten stuck on the country road down a ways. They looked a little scared.

Right before they knocked, the chickens that were perched right on the front railing freaked the girl out. I could tell they had had the normal discussion any person would, in their situation, about a guy named Bubba who could very possibly greet them way out here where no one would hear them scream. (Cory likes to tell people when giving them directions to our house: "if you hear banjos, you've gone too far)...

They asked if we had a tractor (do we have a tractor?- of COURSE we have a tractor) to pull them out.
Instead of Bubba, they get me, which I actually think surprised them more than a toothless killer would have. I am starting to notice a pattern with that.

One day I was in yoga pants, sunglasses, slogger boots and a tanktop (that I had slept in) and this guy pulls into our lane (lost, of course) at the exact same time that I am putting water in the cow's trough. That particular day I happened to have twisted my hair up in these curly bun/pony tail things like a cross between someone from Sweden named Inga and Princess Leia. I could see him trying to register what he was seeing with all the previous files he had stored in his brain as he stammered to ask for directions. I think I am to country as Bubba is to city... but I'm not sure- it's just a feeling I get.

Anyway, according to my decision list that I TAPED TO THE REFRIGERATOR,

[so when I revisit (more regularly than I care to mention) the meaning of life, our purpose, and what we should be doing, I can save myself a whole heck of a lot of time by just looking at the list instead of going through all of that brain- wracking again. If I happen to remember the list is there, I can promptly see that we've already been over this ..and just do what is next.]

spring was designated home improvement time, and the end of spring marked the shift to stage two of my year plan, which is the summer schedule: continue homeschooling and actually begin to work my business.

The boys never have trouble keeping themselves busy

and honestly sometimes I feel I am interrupting their learning when I require that we do our academic work.

We had to buy a garden cart so that we could start rotating the cows onto different paddocks of grass. The cart would serve to keep their water and their hay and minerals within reach wherever they were. I let the boys take a crack at putting it together while Cory was at work and they did a great job. (I'm sure it doesn't hurt that there is a family of mechanics on their mother's side of the family).

I decided earlier in the year that it simply makes sense to do school when the weather is too severe to enjoy the outdoors (summer and winter) and have off when it is beautiful outside (spring and fall). Thus we have come off of a long and lovely spring break and are back to school.

Summer, for me, was very weird. It went by quickly in a sense, but in a way many of the days melted together in their likeness. I divided my time between business work and the daily chores of house and farm. Looking back, I'm actually kind of sad about it. I'd really like to bust my husband out of jail (his job) and get on a sailboat to an island some days, any island, so we could all just be together instead of our family - 1 the majority of the time....but I get motion sick.... which is a thorn in the side of that dream, but whatever.

Anyway, toward the end of the summer, we had three major happenings..

First, we had a nice visit from my brother, Paul; and his wife, Heather and son, Reese (he is as cute as pie!). We went crabbing and swimming together- the boys were really glad to get to play with Reese, have company, and do something different from our normal routine.

We also had Buttercup artificially inseminated. We found a bull who has A2/A2 genetics (MAJOR controversy over the A1/A2 thing, if you are into raw milk- definitely read about it). Then we found a nearby farmer, who raises angus actually, who is an AI tech. He came out when Buttercup went into heat (she BAWLS her HEAD OFF when she is in heat so it is pretty darn easy to detect) and did it. Prior to his arrival Cory built a headgate. When he got here he had a nitrogen tank. I got her into the headgate and with the boys help we fed her grain and held her tail up while he felt around in there til he got it done. That was a definite first for me. Never seen that done. Never thought I would. It worked the first time, so she is pregnant and due in May.

And finally, we were asked by another family farm couple to milk their cow one Saturday so they could go to a wedding. Their teenage kids prepared instructions and a checklist for me to be sure we did everything routinely, and we went a week prior to go through a dry run with them. And yes, I did it. I milked a cow. It actually wasn't that hard.

Believe it or not I got slack with picture taking and didn't get pictures of any of these things. Slacker.

That gets us to the final two events that have happened between then and now- the hurricane and the pig butchering. Oh, and I almost forgot the duck genocide of 2011. I'll fill ya in on those next time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blog blip, catching up after a looong break- part 1: May

I have taken a vacation from blogging, a 5 month vacation. I am at a place now where I can catch up, so I am sifting through some picture and a few old drafts to catch up the journal of where we are.

Most of this one was written in draft form on May 26th:

Things are kind of on auto-pilot around here. Cory is back to work and we are trying to fit in what we can on the weekend as far as the house projects go... that has ground down to extremely slow progress. Everything takes longer than we think and there is just too much to do.

This weekend we will need to close up the house and turn on the AC. We've enjoyed a comfortable 'window open' climate for a nice, long spring. Thank you Lord- I have really appreciated it.

May is my favorite month of the year. We celebrated Mother's Day

our 15 year anniversary

and Quinn's 11th birthday. He is growing into a sharp young man before my eyes.

The cows and pig are happily co-existing.

Don't let the background gross you out. I will spare you the methodology of accumulated winter bedding, but long story short- it was time to get all of that out. Cory drug a whole huge PILE of old manure out of there and left it next to our driveway (he ran out of time on a Sunday evening) and pulled the rest of it down to the lower fenced area for the pig and ducks to aerate and the sun to sanitize. Both did their job and quickly, the odor went away. That's right I am saying our **** don't stink (a favorite phrase of my brother Wess' from years ago... funny what you remember).

Piggy has also made friends of the chickens because when he roots they have immediate access to worms and bugs. They love to follow him as he works:

I like this picture because it shows how amazingly strong pigs really are. He is putting all the strength of his backside into the rooting he's doing with his nose... a very useful animal.

The flowers and grass are in full swing and our new arbor is filling out nicely with the wisteria.

The cows both had birthdays (in April) too. They aren't too thrilled about restricted grazing, but that is all we can do right now. I let them out in the afternoon for a few hours to graze wherever I can find grass, and the rest of the time they have to eat hay.

Feeding the animals has become really expensive. We are starting to get that "we aren't so smart" feeling.

The ducks and chickens have had little going on except for the one duck that got stuck in the fence and the subseuently was eaten by the pig (GROSS!!)... The pig normally leaves the ducks alone, but the stuck one was quacking and struggling. My brother said they will eat their brothers and sisters when they are little if they are squealing excessively for some reason. I hate noise too, but really? Piggy is worse than me. He obviously is not familiar with the handy device called the taser.

Did I mention I have never really been an animal person? Yeah.

We are getting a nice small but steady supply of old-school-tasting delicious strawberries

and already and I've made two dishes this week with the first cilantro I have ever grown- mmmmm. My potato patch seems to be doing well as well as the dill, cucumbers and romaine lettuce (all also a first for me). The beans are being assaulted by (I think) Japanese beetles. Not good. May need to pull out the huge Rose of Sharons (that I thought were hollyhocks) after all.

The birdies have nested in the birdhouse again and are faithfully feeding their babies:

The boys are enjoying everything about being boys:
(we actually witnessed this turtle laying it's eggs. If you look closely you can see one under her. This picture was taken while she was doing it):

and Sam lost his first tooth, which promptly caused me to launch into a mini-midlife crisis.
He's so handsome, just like his daddy.
To be continued...