Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Got Cut Out

I came home yesterday to goats in the front yard being chased around by Maggie.  I got out of the car and the goats followed me back to area 4 where I put them for a few hours before bed.  Even though there's nothing for them to eat, area 4 is electrified, so it held them in.  I've heard that goats aren't hard to keep in, as long as they've got good stuff to eat, but I was pushing the boundaries anyway.  They're eating faster, and although I gave them new areas on Tuesday and Thursday, it still wasn't enough.

I remember the first time the goats got out, back in the misty ages of a month ago.  I was a little terrified and ran to put Maggie in the house, ran to get the leashes, etc.  (Actually I walked fast.  There's not much that will make me run.)  Now I'm an old hand at loose goats. At least these loose goats, here, far away from traffic.  I don't have to put the dogs in the house any more.  They don't bother me and the goats.  And the goats follow me!  That is SO cool!

I've been contemplating where to put the goats next.  There are a few areas that are farther away from the house, on a steep hill and VERY brambly.  I'm putting off enclosing one of them because I don't especially like setting up fence in steep bramble.  This morning I gave myself a break, took the half-fence and put it north of the house. 
The "gave myself a break" part comes because the entire fenceline of this area is on grass.  Sigh of relief.  Bought myself another day before I have to break through bramble.  This is really giving me an idea of how much work would be required if the herd were bigger.  Like next year when both girls have twins and I have a herd of six.  Then I would be a single, full-time working engineer practicing to have a weed-eating herd of goats, while milking two and making cheese.  Oh My!  I'm having a hard enough time of it now!  Maybe I should only breed one of them, or none, or breed both and sell the kids.

Here's a bouquet of what I cut out before allowing the goats in.  I cut out two areas of dogbane and a bunch of milkweed, but not all of it.  A little milkweed will be OK as long as there is other stuff for them to eat.  Here's hoping that I found everything poisonous!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Run, Run, Run

It's been a really busy month and I'm feeling keenly the tradeoffs I have to make because I choose to live in the woods with a bunch of animals at the same time that I have a full-time job.  Dinner for the last week or so has been a few forkfuls of cottage cheese standing in front of the refrigerator as I run from one thing to the next in the few evening hours I've got.  Wednesday night I had to finish something at work and got home about a half an hour later than usual.

Wednesday night was for picking blueberries, so I quickly changed into picking clothes and picked berries for an hour until 7:30. Got a whole 1-2/3 pints.  Woo hoo (dripping with sarcasm)!  These freakin wild berries are small and hard to get to.  I've come to the conclusion that picking berries for sale will have to stop until some time in the future when I don't have a full time job and a 45-minute commute.  Giving up two nights a week just to pick berries is too much.

The goats decimated Area 5 in a single day, but I haven't had the time to move the fences (and am NOT fond of the sticker-y, brambly, slippery task) so I put them back into area 4 Wednesday morning.  Good thing I left area 4 up! They complained a lot, but thankfully were still inside the fence when I came home.  It was getting dark, and because the goats hadn't gotten a good day's food, I took them on a long, slow walk to their digs, stopping at every brambly place along the way, so they could get a bellyful of yum before bed.

That's when I remembered that I had forgotten to feed the chickens.  Oh brother, I'm a bad mommy.  They were already in bed when I put the food and water into their coop, but managed to rouse themselves for chicken yum.

After all that it was hair color time.  Yes, it's a choice too.  The gray was getting too shiny and bright for my liking, so the rest of the evening, up to and past my bedtime was for that yukky task, now done for another month.

Yesterday morning I moved the goat fence to give them something to munch until this weekend when I can build them a new Taj Mahal of weediness.

Wednesday night, my first "free" night this week was run, run, run all the way to bedtime.  Last night is the only other free night this week, and I'll be picking more blueberries and delivering to Melanie.  Then two more days of busy and I think I can rest a little on Sunday. 

All this busy doesn't even include cucumbers, zucchini or anything else that's ripening. As I was speed walking by the garden the other day, I noticed some ripe cherry tomatoes and popped a few in my mouth! 

I shouldn't complain - I chose this life and I'm thrilled to be living it. I know that as long as I work a full-time job, things are going to ripen and die in the garden, things will remain un-painted or unfinished.  As long as all my animals are alive, safe, moderately happy, and fulfilling their function I'll count myself successful.  (Lost a cat earlier this year, so not quite successful.)  Oh, and alive, safe, moderately happy and fulfilling my function for ME as well.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Articles about Goats Eating Weeds

My Google alert popped up two articles this morning.

The first, from the Salt Lake Tribune.  The notice against copying their article is pretty prominent, so I'll be safe and make you follow the link to read the article.  Full link with some neat pictures here.

Weed problem? Hire some goats
By alicia greenleigh

The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated Jul 27, 2010 04:08PM
Goats may be the garbage-disposals of the animal world, but a new landscaping trend has them putting their stomachs to work.

The second is from a Seattle Post Intelligencer blog, here.  I spent a week with Tammy Dunakin in 2008.  She's the owner of this herd and the business Rent-A-Ruminant covered in the article below.

Add this to the tourism guidebooks: Seattle's goats

You know you're vacationing in Seattle (or the Swiss Alps) when...

Upon leaving your hotel, you see goats grazing underneath a viaduct.

At first, Becka and Kirstyn Lazur thought the animals were horses. The sisters, in Seattle on vacation, spotted the goats as they walked away from their hotel late Tuesday morning.

A closer look showed the animals were too small to be horses. On second thought, they were probably too hungry as well.

"We thought it was a museum -- some kind of goat exhibit," said Becka Lazur, who is from Connecticut. Her sister is from Los Angeles.

Not so. The animals seen scouring the Pine Street Hill Climb this week might best be described as working goats -- a new social class of Capra aegagrus hircus that's showing its face around Seattle more often lately.

Just think of them as hairy little eating machines.

The goats spotted by the Lazur sisters Tuesday belong to Rent-A-Ruminant, a Vashon Island-based company that rents goats out to property owners and government agencies who need to clear vegetation.

The goats will be clearing the hillside through Friday.

In this case, Rent-A-Ruminant was hired by the Seattle Department of Transportation. The Pine Street Hill Climb was too steep to be cleared with equipment. And prolific drug use under that area of the Alaskan Way Viaduct means the area is riddled with needles and other paraphernalia dangerous to humans.

But not to goats.

"Goats don't catch people diseases," said Rent-A-Ruminant owner Tammy Dunakin. "I've never had a goat come down with an injury. It's amazing what they can be around and not get injured."

Dunakin said business has been good for her company this year. The goats-for-hire industry is still catching on locally, and it hasn't penetrated many markets in other parts of the country yet.

Besides being an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional methods of clearing landscape, Dunakin said her herd of 60 goats adds something special to the neighborhoods in which they work.

"People just love it," she said. "They stop and take pictures, and they ask questions. It just makes people really stop and chill out -- and it makes them happy."

Chloe and Josie Margarones (ages 9 and 7 respectively) stopped to watch the goats Tuesday with their mother and 3-year-old brother. The family drove from their Seattle home to Alaskan Way specifically to watch the goats -- and to learn a little more about the animals.

The sisters were worried at first that the goats might get a stomach ache from eating so much.

"We had a big, long discussion about how goat mouths are different from ours, and how they can do this," said the girls' mother, Leslie Margarones.

Three-year-old Nikolas knew what was up: "They're eating a snack."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Area 5

I worked through lunch yesterday so I could come home early and build the goats a new area right next to their old space.  This is the fifth little plot I've put them in since I got them (hence the name Area 5!).  I used a half-piece of fencing, 80 feet long, and gave the goats a bit of a front yard, so there's not much enclosed.

I think it's enough though, to keep the goats happy for a few days.  I'm so confident that the goats will be busy eating today, that I didn't even attach the battery and energizer. Happy eating, little ladies!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Workout and Two More Days

I took the ATV out yesterday with Mr Far East, and explored some of the trails around my place.  What fun!  My quad needed the workout.  It's never been off my property before, and wasn't running well before I ran it hard yesterday.  Mr Far East knows I'm not feeling anything more than friendly towards him, but we both still had a great time yesterday.  On another front, last week's meeting with Mr Thursday went very well.  I very much want to see him again, but he's fairly busy these days.  Hopefully later this week. 

The goats have made a big impression on their current area since Thursday morning when I put them in for the first time.  I like the idea of putting them in a smaller area and moving them more often.  I've read about a concept, called mob grazing, where you put the animals very densely in a small area for a short period of time.  The animals can't do as much picking and choosing of what they want to eat because there's less to choose.  To replicate mob grazing with these little gals, I think I'd have to put them in about 20 square feet.

They've eaten all the bramble.  In the absence of blueberry bushes, they've decided that they like yummy grape plants the best.  It's been amusing over the last few days to listen as they try to, "Maa-a-ah," with their mouths full.
But they haven't touched any ferns yet, or any of the comfrey.  How come my goats don't like raisins (or any treat that I bring) and don't like comfrey?  They need to go to goat school and learn what goats are supposed to like! 
I'm hoping the goats will give me two more days before they break out of this area.  I'm having dinner with a new person (we'll call him Mr Monday) tonight, in an artsy neighborhood of downtown Albany, and tomorrow is fire drill night.  If the goats are in the yard when I get home today, I'll build their new area tomorrow morning.  But I hope, hope, hope for two more days so I can do it on Wednesday!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mid-July Harvest and Grapes

This is what happens when I wait a week to harvest.  Baseball bats.
I found some grapes yesterday!  There were more yesterday morning, but these are in the goats' area, so they're in somebody's belly now.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hand Truck Chronicles

Things engineers talk about on a date.... hand truck axles and push nuts.

For over a month now, I've been trying to figure out how to put a new wheel on the handtruck that I use to move wood in the winter, and the goat fence battery in the summer.  I went to every hardware store in the area, looked online, did everything else I could think of, including consulting other engineers at work.  I was getting to the point of drilling a hole in the axle when I saw Mr North on Monday.

He made a great suggestion: call the company and ask them for the parts.  I did exactly that on Tuesday, and parts arrived today.  Enough to replace the wheel three more times!  Funny how so many of us missed the obvious thing to do.

This Wall Street Journal will soon be pattern parts for my newest project-in-progress.  A larger waterproof bedspread (the last one was full-size).  I'll cut flowers out of Salvation Army shirts, applique them onto a king-sized sheet, and attach it to the companion sheet with a waterproof layer in the middle.  It'll be quite different (and much easier) than the one I made last year.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lookit My Melons!

Hee hee.  The biggest is about 4 inches in diameter.

I haven't harvested in a week, and the cucumers are crying,  crying to be picked.
Zucchini, too.  I could play baseball with these bat-sized zukes.
The goats are moderately happy in their new area.  There's some comfrey in here that I'm hoping they'll discover they like.  They've got rocks to climb on, yummy bramble - what more could they want?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Call

Even before the late night call last night, it's been a busy week.  We had a fire drill Tuesday night that involved me holding the hose with real pressure and real flow!  It's so exciting.  I got to bed late, late that night, and last night we got a call at 11 pm for downed wires after a thunderstorm.  So off I went to my first real fire call!  Except it was a dud altogether.  No fire.  No downed wires.  Nothing at all.  I got to experience the excitement of going to the station, suiting up and riding in the jump seat, though.  It's pretty heady stuff.  I don't even mind that I didn't get to bed until 1am and can't see straight this morning from a growing sleep deficit.  I don't mind it at all.

After the goats went exploring the other day, I realized that I need to set up their next forage area.  Unfortunately, this week has been so busy that the only time available was this morning.  Right after waking up and a shot of hot tea, I put on the bramble gear and set up a new area for the goats.  I saw a bit of beladonna [correction: bittersweet nightshade] and pulled it.  Hopefully I didn't miss any.  I think this area will keep them busy for a few days at least.

I met Mr Far East yesterday after work at an ice cream stand about halfway between us, near the Massachusetts state line.  We'd been emailing for a few weeks, which is about as long as I can stand without meeting.  I had been pretty clear with him before we met that I was enjoying our email conversations, but didn't anticipate anything in our future because of the distance, but he's more interesting than I expected.  Maybe that's because he's a full-time firefighter and I've got firefighting on the brain right now.

Someone new emailed out of the blue yesterday, invited me for a drink and I accepted.  I like the idea of getting to know someone the old fashioned way, face to face.  I don't have enough brain cells right now to invent a name for him, but if the meeting this evening goes well, I'll make up a name tomorrow.  He works in the small town next to my small town, so we'll be meeting at a watering hole in my 'hood.  It's going to have to be a short meeting because I need to stop at the firehouse tonight to help them get ready for a rummage sale tomorrow.

And, Oh Crap, I'm not going to get any blueberries picked for tomorrow's farmer's market!  Who wants to sell berries from an unreliable farmer?  Yikes!  Maybe I should be rearranging some priorities here.

Meeting three guys in one week is the upper limit of what I ever want to handle, and I don't think I can handle it more than once or twice.  I've been honest with everyone about my expectations (or lack thereof), so I'm not being bad, but it still doesn't feel quite right.  I'm looking forward to a little down time this weekend (this week is going 100 miles an hour!), so I can think about who, if any of these guys I would look forward to seeing again on any level.  Then I want to simplify that whole thing.

Then I want to take a break and focus on the mound of zucchini taking over my yard.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Wonder ...

I drove home from date #2 last night with Mr North with a head full of who-knows-what and got home about 8.  As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed that the previously lush, tall area in front of the house looked like this:

I thought, "Hm.  I wonder what Maggie's been doing up here."  I went inside, fed the dogs, and then heard, "Ma-a-a-a" from an unusual direction and looked out front to see this in the yard:

Two fat goats.

They followed me through the porch, back to their leashes, and so I took them home:

I wonder how long they'd been out.  From the looks of their bellies, it was probably most of the day.

I wonder how the goats handled the dogs.  I wonder how the dogs handled the goats.

Nobody's letting on to me!  The dogs and goats acted like there's nothing unusual about goats in the front yard eating the coneflowers.  Everybody acted the same as usual.

Hm, I wonder.  Did they dance cheek to cheek, the dogs and the goats?  They're keeping secrets from me and I don't like it!

This Drives Me A Little Nuts

Here's a headline from yesterday's Wall Street Journal, article on page A2. The article discusses a study where, as you can see, a link was found between inner-city poverty and HIV.  If I were still teaching Six Sigma, I would use this as an example of the oh-so-common mistake of confusing correlation with causation.

Just because two things happen together (correlation) does not mean that one thing causes the other (causation).  There is often a third, hidden factor that causes both.  When I've taught this in the past, I stand  in front of the class and say something like, "High ice cream consumption causes sunburn."  Of course the class doesn't buy my argument, and we talk about how the hidden factors of sun and warm temperature likely cause both high ice cream consumption and sunburn.

So here we are on page 2 of the Wall Street Journal and I'm reading this article, getting more and more disturbed (relatively speaking) by the bad interpretation and reporting of this study.  In my opinionated little world, there's a third factor having something to do with impulse control or brain chemicals that may have something to do with both poverty and HIV.  To accent the thought, I was woken at 4:00 this morning by loud, music-playing neighbor-guest doing what his low impulse control has him do the best.  Get drunk, play loud music and yell, "God Bless America," and other things at the top of his lungs.  I resisted the impulse to call the police and moved to the sofa on the other side of the house to try and get that last 1-1/2 hours of sleep.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zucchini Recipes

Over the weekend, I made some zucchini chocolate chip muffins, suggested last week by Sparkless.  Yum!  Double Yum!  I printed out recipes for zucchini bars, zucchini latkes, and zucchini quiche, but it's no use.  I can't eat or dry even 20% of this zucchini bounty, and my freezer doesn't have enough space. The next appliance purchase is a freezer that I've already picked out from Sears.  It may stay on the wish list for a while though.

This will be a busy week.  Meeting again with Mr North tonight.  Last time I met Mr North, Mr East was consuming all my oxygen, and Mr North didn't get a fair shot.  Meeting Mr Far East (think Massachusetts) on Wednesday, and then Mr, um, South-ish later this week.  I'm running out of directions.  I believe that meeting Mr Right on the internet is simply a numbers game.  I've heard that 90% won't click, but that means I'll have to meet another 8 or so guys to get to the next click-er!  The folks that were over yesterday told me a story about a friend of theirs who was also trying internet dating.  According to them, this lady was  meeting new guys at the rate of several a week.  She gave up, and then found him.  They met online, chatted a bit, then did a literal drive-by.  Didn't even get out of their cars the first time they met!  They're married now.

Internet dating and zucchini are related!  Because I'm using evening time this week on the guy goal, there's no time left for the zucchini goal.  If there aren't any keepers out of this week's bunch (guys, that is), I'm going to take a breather from internet dating!  Pat myself on the back for giving it the old college try, and then give myself a break.  Then I'll move on.  To zucchini, that is.

You Know You're a Homesteader When

A coworker brings his family over to pick blueberries, they bring a hostess gift of a chicken waterer, and you couldn't be more happy!

The kids entertain themselves by feeding flowering broccoli to the goats.  Goats happy! Kids happy!

The family takes home enough blueberries to make a pie.  Family happy! Everybody happy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Farm Income!

This homestead earned some money yesterday!  These three pints of blueberries were picked on Thursday, and went to the Hoosick Farmers Market on Friday where they got rained on and were sold by Melanie. 
Pretty neat!

These are small, wild mountain berries.  If I spend even a few moments pruning or taking care of the bushes, next year should be bigger and better.  There are fewer berries in the upper area this year than last year - I'm thinking animal-related.  I may want to think about taking care of those bushes and protecting them, too.

We had a strong series of thunderstorms roll through the area last night, finally breaking the humidity down to reasonable levels.

Here's what I found in the yard this morning:

It's the chimney cap, blown off one of the chimneys.  Thankfully, it didn't land on the car!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tomatoes are Coming!

I planted some huge amount of tomato plants.  So many that they're packed together in the raised bed so tightly, I can't count them.  I noticed this yellow-orangey color last night on one of the outer plants.

And as I was standing there, a flash of orange, waay in the depths.
Looks like I'll begin excavating tomatoes soon!  Time to buy more raw milk to make some real mozzarella cheese.  So far I've only made quick mozzarella cheese, which takes about an hour and doesn't require cultures or a pH tester.  I need to get a pH tester, or figure out a way to test pH.  These yummy-looking tomatoes and the thought of Caprese salad with fresh! mozzarella cheese will get me off my duff!

Has anybody compared tomatoes dried in a dehydrator vs dried in the sun?

The coneflowers are about 7 feet tall now and just now beginning to open up.  I'd have to go to the second story of the house to get a propah picture, so this under-the-bloom shot will have to do.

And lastly, the oregano is in full bloom.  The bees are loving it!  I sincerely hope this bee action doesn't portend more oregano.  I've got too much now!  My microclimate is apparently perfect for oregano.  Who knew?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Revision Two

Here's my second try at zucchini chips.  I cut this round thicker, so they're more solid when dry, and put seasoning salt on them.  Nope.  That's not the flavor I'm looking for.  My dehydrator is one of the cheap, round ones from Target, and it's got 1-1/2 zukes in it now.  Not much!  It's extremely difficult to keep clean - especially from making beef jerky.  That dark, sticky fluid gets into the small corners and it's there forever.  If I get into this dehydrating thing, I may get a machine that's easier to clean and has more space.  I wonder what the zucchini will taste like if I try the beef jerky mix - worchestershire sauce, onion salt and a few other things.  Or maybe soy sauce.  Good thing I harvested a thousand more zucchini last night.

I also tried rev 2 on the cucumber soup last night.  I dug out the seeds before blending, but ended up with a very bitter soup.  Next time - taste each cuke first to make sure none are bitter.  Good thing I got a thousand of these, too.  Good thing the chickens like cucumber soup.

Thankfully ONE thing worked right.  (I hate, hate, hate to spend my entire short evening working on stuff and have nothing to show for it!)  I harvested basil and made pesto that was very Yum.  Basil, olive oil, garlic, fresh-grated parmesan cheese and walnuts.  I think I've got about 15 basil plants, which is enough to make a cup or so of pesto every few weeks.  Plenty to eat and plenty to freeze.

The barn is almost done!  I almost want to move in, I like it so much.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Processing, Processing

Sue, over at e-i-e-i-omg wrote a post about single lady homesteaders that I first read last night, and have come back to a few times to read over.  It's a trusted friend saying, "Trust yourself.  It's OK to slow down and just be.  Breathe."  I'm going to listen to that advice!  Me and my goal-oriented self sometimes get so wrapped up in Must.Find.A.Partner that I forget to breathe and enjoy what's right here in front of me.  I keep thinking that it shouldn't be so time consuming and crappy, but there's only one person to blame for that.  I can change my approach any time!  Thanks, Sue!

That's the first "processing."  Processing how sometimes I make my own life more difficult than it needs to be.

The second processing is what I'm trying to do to store zucchini.  I'm trying the recipe that Mama Pea highlighted a few days ago for zucchini chips.  Since I have a lifetime supply of zucchini (and that's just yesterday and today), I'll experiment with different flavorings.  I can already tell that this batch isn't salty enough for me.  These chips would be a good low-carb snack - I'm even considering a little low carb action just to try them out!

I made cucumber soup yesterday, with 4 big cukes, some chicken stock, plain yogurt and sour cream.  It's chilling now and should be Yum for dinner tonight, and later this week in the heat.  Next time I'll be smart enough to remove the seeds from the cukes first.  Maybe next time can be tonight! I'm sure there will be 4 more huge cukes today.

How can I even consider spending time looking for a partner when it's blueberry season here!  Time to start picking!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Emergency Contact

Here's an idea I saw posted on the wall at the Fire Dept.

Make it easy for emergency responders to know who to call if you get into an accident and are hurt.  They may look through contacts on your mobile phone for "Mom," or "Dad," or any useful number to notify someone.

Add an entry into your mobile address book titled ICE (In Case of Emergency) and attach the number you want.

What I've done is add to the end of one of my contacts (Mom) a dash and then "Emergency Contact."  Maybe eventually I'll find someone local.

I feel safer already!

The Tax Refund and Re-Assessing

Here's my tax refund!
It's a winter house for the goats and the chickens, going up.  It's a 12 x 16 shed, but I'm going to be lofty about it and call it a barn.

Here's the woodshed.
Also going up. 

After last week's experience with Mr East, I'm beginning to reasses what exactly I want to do.  Internet dating has been a huge drain on my energy.  Being an optimist I keep on saying to myself, "Keep on trying, it will happen when you least expect it."  But I've been saying that to myself for years.  Years!  This one is a writer/journalist/spokesman/teacher and (generalizing here) as a creative type went for the big emotional bang instead of the slow and steady build up.  (Since he's a good writer and communicator, it was really good!)  I harbor a secret fantasy about being swept away, so I only weakly try to put the brakes on, and willingly fall for it when he ignores my defenses.  He's the second one to ask if he could stay in my life, and after I get my balance back, I'll invite him to do something.  He's a fun guy.  We really did enjoy talking to each other, and I'm very happy with the mature way he communicated his feelings to me.  I've made a few friends from internet dating.  I'm OK with that.

But what has me thinking is this.  What if, after all this time spent looking for Mr Right on the internets, I find someone to date for a month, or a year or two and then end up right back here, looking.  Would it be worth it?  Would I be better off investing the time and energy into making real friends, real relationships with real people?  I don't know the answer to that, but am looking forward to enjoying the journey anyway.

Tonight is fire drill night.  We're going to learn about car extricating stuff.  Mr North is still in the picture somewhere, as well as Mr South, who I met over a month ago.  Options, I gots.

Monday, July 12, 2010

No Second Date

There will be no second date with Mr East.  I very much appreciate his call and the conversation we had, but am not a happy person right now.  He's the second creative-type person who had gone all-out, overcoming my reserve before we'd even met.  I knew it was a mistake to let my guard down and fell for it anyway.  Some will argue that it's better to have loved and lost, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But myself, I prefer walking slowly into these things.  Silly, silly me.  The challenge is to have some variant of this happen (I don't like him or he doesn't like me) over and over  yet come back and try again.  And again. And again.  The dream of finding a partner won't let me give up.  But good lord, sometimes this is painful!

Wanna See My Tax Refund?

I really want to show it to you, but since I accidentally left my picture-full camera at home, I'll show you something else instead, for now.  This bouquet is from a few weeks ago with the feverfew, yarrow, bedstraw, mallow, the last peony, and a few other things.

Carpenter guy came over yesterday and almooost finished the woodshed.  I hope it's not another month before he comes over again!

The first date with Mr East went very well, lasted a lot longer than we both anticipated, and we never got to the crossword puzzle.  I'm looking forward to a second date with him.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Project Parts

Here's ten shirts from the Salvation Army, all in greens, browns, and dark reds.  Not shown are the high thread count sheets in khaki brown that will serve as the backing.  I want to repeat the flower motif that I used last time, but make the flowers smaller, rounder, and more numerous than before.

I'm meeting Mr East for a picnic this afternoon.  The work he's put into making this first date special has me very very hopeful.  My contribution is fresh-picked raspberries and blueberries.  We'll do the NY Times Sunday crossword al fresco with wine, berries, bread and cheese.  I've been trying internet dating for a while and SO often the first meeting has one or both shocked when the outside picture doesn't meet the inside picture that we cobbled together from emails and phone calls.  All of the ways of optimism that we've used in the last week, I've seen before with other people.  I'm trying my hardest not to be cynical though, and come at this, the umpteenth one, with a clean heart and an open hands and mind.  Even if today's meeting goes well, the next hurdle may be my homestead.  The rural-ness, distance and farm nature of it have stopped a few men that seemed promising.  If I were just a farm gurrl, it would be simpler to find a farm guy.  But I'm a city girl/farm girl.  I like the bright lights as well as the dark skies, and demand to be with someone with a little depth.  At least someone who can spell.  (ha ha!  Nothing like stacking condition on top of condition to narrow the list down to almost nothing!)

This blog has been a priority for me for the last year and I've enjoyed posting something semi-relevant every day.  I like the discipline and the practice, and I love the interaction and the little community that's going on.  One of the reasons why I've been posting so much here is that these conversations take the place of conversations I might have with a real other person, in the flesh.  It's way too soon to say, but if I post less frequently here, it may be for a good reason!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mister Mister

I finally met Mr North last night, after 3 weeks of emails and phone calls.  I got the feeling earlier this week on one of our phone calls that this man is not the man, and although we had a nice time chatting over iced tea, at our parting I let him know I had concerns.  It's only fair to him to be up-front about my feelings or lack of them.  First it's the distance.  He lives an hour away from me.  Second, and this I haven't mentioned yet; it's Mr. East (who actually lives a little west of me).  We've been emailing  for a week and spoke last night.  For 2 hours.  I'll meet him this weekend, but this one feels really good so far.  Better than I've felt in a long time about meeting a new guy.

I sense another sewing project coming on.  Last summer I made a bedspread out of shirts from the Salvation Army with a water proof layer in the middle and a cheap sheet for backing.  It works swimmingly to protect my clean bed from muddy doggy feets.  But for the last month I've had a tickle in the back of my head.  I want to make another waterproof bedspread.  A bigger one with a higher quality backing and made from brown-ish shirts instead of blue ones.  An excuse to go see what the Salvation Army's got on the racks these days!

But I really shouldn't be lusting after a sewing project when I have these monster things to deal with! I didn't realize until I cropped this shot that they're sitting on an article about "jumbo" something or other.  I like squash OK, but need to spend some serious time looking up squash recipes.  There are no universes where I can eat all of this (an excuse to have Mr East over for dinner maybe?). Apparently squash likes the heat, because all of this just happened in the last week!  Next week I'm bringing some to the office with a sign saying, "Take me."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Under the Apple Tree

What happened when I put the hammock under the apple tree.

It was 98 degrees at the 'stead Tuesday afternoon, and me without air conditioning.  I moved slowly, took a lot of breaks, hydrated well, and finally finished and got the sliding barn door hung.

The sliding track is level - but the shed is crooked!  Never fear, the door completely covers the opening (the top piece behind the door is painted dark green and is not visible here).  It works!  I need to make a few tweaks and finish painting it, but it's mostly good.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Early July Garden

This is really my first garden ever.  Last year I threw a couple plants in odd places and got an ear of corn, a tomato, and a million cucumbers.  This year I've got the raised beds, but am just learning what to do with them and what to do with a garden.

The leftmost bed has beets in the front, broccoli in the back, and spinach ending, replaced by basil in the middle.  I harvested and roasted some beets yesterday.  Yum!  I see now that I should have thinned the beets.  I can see how too many plants, too close to each other have made the beets smaller than they could be.  Still tasty though!

The middle bed starts with some pepper plants that aren't doing anything, followed by more basil, and a thousand tomato plants.

The uphill bed has 6 cucumber plants in the first two feet, and zucchini and squash at the end.  Something tells me I shouldn't have crowded these things in so tightly.  In the middle of the bed is what I'm really, really looking forward to.

Next year I'm not going to grow broccoli from seed, or likely, at all.  The broccoli I've grown tastes like what I can get at the grocery store, and I could use that space for something that isn't easily purchased.  Later this year I want to make another raised bed downhill from these three, and use it for strawberries. 

I've finished the easy part of the sliding barn door, the actual door.  The hard part is hanging the rolling track absolutely level, cutting the bottom of the door to match the rock and not-rock terrain down on the ground, and hanging the thing up.  This carpentry thing isn't too different from sewing (except you use different tools!).  In some respects sewing is harder because the material and seams can curve to make 3 dimensions in one seam.  I still wouldn't attempt a 3-d building though!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thanks for the Lesson, Ladies!

I was working on the sliding barn door yesterday when mom let me know that the goats had gotten out again.  That's 3 times in 2 days they've shed the surly bonds of their portable fencing.  So I paused on the door and moved the goat fencing.  I have GOT to get better tools for clearing a path for the fence.  A machete would be good.  If this moving electric fences is going to be a moneymaker for me, I've got to get better at it, and faster.  This time I estimated the space too small and had extra fence left over at the end.  Practice, practice.

Here's what I saw when I was taking down the fence from their old area:
There was plenty of food left in their old area!  They just didn't want to eat it!  What I should have done is walk the fenceline, adding push-in stakes at any point where the fence looked loose or there was a gap with the ground.  Lesson learned ladies!  They won't manipulate me into moving them so quickly next time.

I gave up on hoping for a ripe tomato while mom is still here and harvested these green ones for a classic southern (and yummy) dish.  Fried green tomatoes!  We also had these baby cucumbers in salad and broccoli for dinner with some pork chops.  Tonight we'll have the first zucchini and squash, along with the garlic scapes from the farmers' market.