June 2013 (Facebook Compilation)

June 5: Our new in-house OCD test:
Real-life picture layout on our welcome-wall (first wall you see walking into house).

welcome wall

June 8: The newest member of our crew at Willow Rock Farm: flew her home from the Palmer airport.

Plane ride home

June 13: My work over the last week: organizing (and thinning) the books in my library.

A job I haven’t done since before we moved here.

It was fabulous to discover/recognize the pattern of my “collecting.”

books 1 books 2 books 3 books 4 books 5

June 15: Got all three freezers emptied/defrosted/inventoried this afternoon. A few people commented on the soggy ice cream. (It all took about as long as you’d expect…)

Still in awe of the accomplishment, and figuring out the best way to meal-plan with the new information.

June 18: Pleased to announce that ‘that magazine project’ I’ve been talking about for months is now live.

Wyn (wynmag.com) is an online magazine focused on providing resources and hope for mental and emotional healing. Each month’s issue has a specific theme that runs through all the articles.

I am so excited to be a part of this project with amazing women from around the globe.

Please stop by and join the conversation on the blog.

June 19: Wheee 2a.m. and a gentle tiredness on top of a feeling of productivity. Got some good writing done and kids are at Gma’s so I can sleep in.

June 21:

Dunno if you can tell from these pix, but this is Griffin scratching himself six ways from Sunday.

Can’t tie him out b/c he’s helpless against the bugs, and now I can’t even walk him, because we’re both *mobbed* instantly.

Finally just turned him loosen out the front door (which I *never* do on purpose). He was back five minutes later: more itchy, but less whining. Took care of business, I assume.

griffin itch A griffin itch B griffin itch C

June 27: Vamp bucket. The mosquito magnet catches them, but this model at least has trouble getting them into the collection plate.

Freakiest part: we’re still chewed on in the length of time it takes to cross the yard, and the dog continues to be scared to go outside.

vamp bucket

Elisha [getting ready for a camping trip]: “But what do we need to bring *toothbrushes* for?!”

Trauma

So I seem to have a habit of giving people more than they’re [really] asking for.

Gerald, my Toastmasters mentor, called up over his lunch hour and opened with some species of “How’s it going?”

I’m often very good at giving the standard flippant response, but I’ve been mulling over that same question all morning, so instead I said, “Well, I’m a little traumatized right now, actually.”

“Ah,” he said, still in convo-lite mode. “That snow coming down.”

“No,” I said, suddenly realizing I’ve been surprised by it all four times I’ve walked out the door since it started. “I had a trauma yesterday– The goat went into labor, I spent two hours with my arm inside her trying to straighten out a baby that was too big to get out anyway. We ended up getting her a C-section and the baby was born dead. So, yeah, traumatized is a good word for ‘how I am’ right now.” Then I rushed on, recognizing there’s probably no way for him to recover from that statement. “But that’s not why you called, how can I help you…?”

More trouble is that the surgery cost twice as much as the goat did, and she’s still not voluntarily walking around, she’s shivering in the warm barn, and too many things look swollen that shouldn’t be, so I am still concerned for her life/health, and the whole thing doesn’t feel over yet.

I had two appointments Thursday morning, because usually I take the kids to school and it’s a good day to get stuff done.

I had to cancel the doctor appointment, but it looked like I could make the consultation at the IDEA (homeschooling) office, so I pressed into that.  I felt really shaky, and every time I told the next person (four people over five hours) what I was doing/looking for and why, I got teary and self-conscious.

But I kept pressing because I wanted answers. I wanted something solid and concrete so I could wipe this question off the front of my mind.

The result is that I came home shaking and exhausted (I hadn’t brought any food or eaten lunch) but I had all the pieces I needed to loop the loose ends together and make a coherent whole.

Winterdust wasn’t then and still isn’t now seeming better as I’d hoped, and I’ve fallen back on my old standby (denial?) just staying inside and moving slowly forward on some small projects, like getting that broth canned, so it’s not wasted, and running the dishwasher.

One sad thing is that being the time of year it is I can’t even de-stress by catching up on TV shows, because they’re all finales, so my whole reason for watching shows right now (closure) is unlikely to be fulfilled.

Along the same line I’ve been delaying the dive-in to the next novel (Shadow Swan, NaNo 2010), because I dipped my toe earlier this week and all my intensity jacked up, full-throttle. That is, I usually feel the tension/stress of my stories until they’re completely written– which explains why I haven’t had the emotional energy to do a lot of work sometimes.

NaNo has been the exception– the pace of writing (and the legitimization of making the Story almost my main world of occupation…) it seems to work out.

There’s a *lot* that needs to be fixed and added to finish it from “just” 50,000 words, and I need to treat this like a marathon, not a sprint. But that looks like it’s going to take some rewiring.

Your brain works differently when you’re tired.

I was bit by a rat today.

Of course, that’s because I grabbed it, as it was scrambling around the no-hiding-places new room Jay’s started building for the goats.

And he didn’t just bite me. He took hold of my thumb and hung. on. Showing his little ½-inch teeth as he did his mini-bulldog best to make his teeth meet before he relaxed his jaw.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been bit by a rat, and I didn’t really react, because I was so surprised– at his tenacity as much as anything.

I switched my hold to his tail as soon as he let go, and he promptly began spinning like a dervish, trying to get back at my hand.

At that exact moment, I was speaking with a new acquaintance who was there with her 4- and 6-year-olds.

Not really sure where this came from, but I asked the mama, in the same polite tone I’d been using up to that point, “Would you mind stepping out? I think I’m going to end this critter, and I’m not sure you want to be here.”

She looked a bit startled but did as I asked.

My heebeegeebees were pretty much activated at this point and I just did the easiest thing. I whacked it against the plywood wall. Then after the satisfying ?thunk?, I carried the barely twitching rat (still hanging by its tail) out of the room where the mother and children were now standing (as I suppose is to be expected) looking a little confused.

I hadn’t really suggested anywhere for them to go. My bad.

The little boy started asking questions about the rat that didn’t quite compute in my sleep-shorted mind, and I just lifted the lid on an empty metal trash can and dropped the little carcass inside.

Amazing how thoroughly the metal lid ended that topic of conversation.

What I’m desperately curious about now, is how this looked to the mama.  Here I’m talking hay quality and milk-handling procedures one minute, then Oh excuse me while I end this rat.

I am so weird.

Sooo… We have Goats again.

Most of you probably already knew that, and I was going to save this post until we have picture capacity back, but I’m sick (aka sitting still), and they’ve been here a week, and I figure I can come back and stick pictures in later if I want {wink}.

We bought three papered Nigerian dwarf dairy goats; two does in milk, and a suitably stinky buck.

(We also bought a little buck/wether companion for the big dude, so that he doesn’t have to live alone.)

We’ve been milking twice a day for a bout a week now, and with a recently improved milking stand design it now appears (once I’m not sick anymore) I’ll be able to milk without help, and therefore more times in a day (the goal being to bring up milk-production levels).

Being registered, they have big fancy mulisyllable names, and they each have the name of the heard/breeder who registered them. Jay went online before we bought them to verify pedigrees, and we learned a bit about the registering process– including the need to come up with our own name if we are going to continue to register the offspring (which only makes sense, at this point).

Most variations on “Serendipity” are already taken, so we have different name that we came up with (together, this time; half his and half mine, which was a delight to my word-loving heart) that may eventually be reflected onto this site. We’ll see.

The milk, as is typical for the little breeds, is very rich. This has been instrumental in winning Elisha back over to goat milk.

After our goat (share) kidded this spring (after a couple months just on cow milk) Elisha decided he didn’t like it any more, despite it being as good as ever. He’s reject it just because it came from the jar rather than a jug.

We’re getting milk in small enough quantities just now to finish it off the same day we take it, and all the kids see “Winterdust” milk as a *huge* treat now.

“It’s like liquid ice cream!” Melody said, and I have to agree with her.  Pretty amazing stuff, and a nice shot of instant gratification for the work of milking and managing.

August Update 2012

Okay, school’s in session.

Jay asked me to spend the the first day of school on-site, in case the sudden change was too much of a shock for any of the children.

I camped in a workroom one wall from Melody and Elisha’s 1st & 2nd (combined) class and heard their first interactions with their teacher (Elisha’s spontaneous and musical, Melody’s called-on, but confident). The teacher kept going no matter what, continued her lesson without hiccup, and I began to realize how very different this rhythm was than anything I could do.

Before the end of the morning I was pretty agitated, actually. The hum and energy and metronome-steady press so close to me was nearly overwhelming.

I went into their classroom at lunch, and read to Melody after she finished eating.

She’d seen an illustrated version of Heidi in the book basket, one she remembered reading at home, and asked for it. For the next few minutes she lay in my arms and just soaked up Mama. While the rest of the class thrummed by their desks waiting to be released to recess.

The next morning (and every morning the rest of the week) Melody made it clear she was not interested in going away to school anymore, but we emphasized this was not a decision she got to make.

At the same time, I understood.  The clip and the rhythm and the push of an experienced teacher is very different that what any of us are used to, and it was nothing that I would be comfortable with myself.  I wrestled briefly with whether I could make my kids do something I wouldn’t do myself.

My conclusion was two-fold:

  1. I already had done this. I wasn’t asking her to do something I never endured.
  2. I think all children need both structure and the opposite in their lives. If my kids can get the structure side of things from someone else, that means that I don’t have to make it happen. And that. is awesome.

Continue reading

Early May 2012

So we’re barely out of April, but still loads going on.

(I hope really soon to start back up with the menu-building posts– because it could mean *I’m* back on a menu.)

We decided to sell Cream. It was really hard for Natasha and me.

The one consolation we could offer her is that she now has her very own rabbit. It is the last silver fox (cross) we have, and Natasha named her Black Beauty. We’ve given Natasha full ownership (along with care) and Natasha will be able to keep BB as long as she lives, if that’s her desire. She just has to maintain the present level of care.

We sold all of the non-Orpington chickens (and the extra rooster) last week, and I’ve sold a total of 14 meat rabbits so far, for breeding stock.  I expect to sell one more trio this week, along with the angora buck (and I’d let the mama-A go to, if I could find an interested buyer).

I have a few small baskets of angora from what I’ve collected over the last year, so I think one will do fine to keep me as busy as I want to be with wool.

It was a relief to find critters leaving (nearly) as fast as we wanted, and then this week I went out to feed the chickens and found a slaughterhouse.

A marten had gotten in and torn out the throats of every bird in the place.

Thankfully for me, three of the hens broke out; they were the only ones to survive (but they mean I still have home grown eggs so I can still eat eggs). I stayed up till after 3a.m. Thursday morning, trying to work through salvaging all the meat. Continue reading

April 2012 Update

So it just took asserting how much I planned to blog (both here and at Untangling Tales) for life to expand and fill all writing time.

So let me just give a quick two week update, since a slow one would take two hours.

Jay was gone for one of the last two weeks. While he was gone:

  • I got an average of 6 hours of sleep/night (leaving me with a 14-hour deficit).
  • Both our baby goats got sick.
  • Buttercup (a rabbit) had a litter of *9* kits (though she was down to 7 three days later. Those all are doing well.)
  • I forked the compost from the outdoor coup and filled it with chickens.
  • One of our chest freezers died, and I had to do a Tetras/canning scramble to save as much as I could from the meat freezer.

On the upside the freezer-death happened right before the weekend my mom had offered to keep the kids, so my marathon work sessions didn’t have to fit around the needs of the kids. I just didn’t have the time/brain cells to do as much novel work as I’d hoped to accomplish.

Cream (the white faced doe kid) was close to skin and bones and she came back with a few days of focused care, but Friday night (two days after Jay got home) her twin, Sugar, died. It wasn’t really expected, since Cream had looked so much worse than her sister and recovered.

So now we’re left with the question of whether to get a second goat (because all the writing talks about how goats don’t do well alone), or to sell Cream so she’s not living as an only-goat.

We’d rather keep Cream, it’s the second goat that’s tricky.  The kids- all 4- and I went to see a Nigerian doe today, but “Molly” was much too rough and aggressive with Cream, so we had to pass. (Made me *so* grateful we’d brought Cream and knew before we brought a new goat home that they weren’t compatible.)

~ ~

The snow is almost completely melted here, Jay’s moat is doing it’s job just as it should, and we’re beginning to simplify our life here in other ways.

I’ve been looking at my choices and thinking about how much of what I do is externally motivated and how much intrinsically motivated.  I realized I was doing too much just because it was “sensible” and “could pay off later,” but that preparation was reducing my margin now, and margin is what I need, more than I need (say) rabbits that people might pay more for later.

In this case I’m referring to showing and keeping records.  The level of detail and engagement required to do them well eliminates my breathing room for things that matter more to me: like reading and meal planning.

Yeah. Reading and meal-planning matter more to me than a “potential” side business– especially considering the low level of payoff that looks to be available.

Anyway, we decided we’re not interested in stretching beyond what our family needs/is using, so we’re in the process of selling off extra/older rabbits.  We just finished selling all the mixed-breed chickens, today, so in a couple of weeks if we still have hens that want to go broody we should be able to let them and still end up with consistent layers.

We still want the eggs (since store-bought make me ill), and the “ethical” meat, but I’m sick of how much I’ve been trying to manage.

Along those same lines, I don’t anticipate a garden to be in our plans for this summer.  If it happens it happens, but I think for now we’ll just work at stabilizing our ballance. Once we find it.

(I’ve got other projects/ideas percolating– primarily having to do with food– and that’s where I want to spend “extra” energies.)

No promises any more. I’ll give what I can, and no more.  There will always be more to teach and learn than I can be a part of, and accepting that is part of accepting reality.

Admittedly, hard for me, but I’m learning.

Animal Talk: Rabbity Week

We had a number of rabbit-events this last week.

On Wednesday Serena had her litter, a day later than I’d expected.

The absolute coolest part was that, since she was under my desk at the time, I heard someone squeak and was able to watch the end of the delivery. So cool.  And everyone seemed so much more vigorous than earlier litters, something I assume is due to the warmer introduction to the world.

She has got to be the messiest rabbit I own.  (I’m going to experiment with fostering one of her littles to a meat mama, once the babies are close to the same size: see if neatness is something kits can learn).

Continue reading

Kid Events February 2012

We’re still having fun with the kids.

Company got to join in the fun; Lilia seemed fascinated, but wasn’t always sure what to think of all the attention. Once again I was so thankful they’re small.

~ ~ ~

Elisha finished his kindergarten math book this last week, and yesterday started the first-grade book.  He is very proud.

“I love math!” He says over and over again.  His sisters try to burst his bubble (“Wait till you get older and it’s actually hard!“) and I try to nip it in the bud.  But at least so far they’ve not been able to dampen his enthusiasm.

~ ~ ~

Melody still loves the camera and has a standard pose that she takes when she asks me to take a picture of her.

She’s almost ready to lose her second front tooth.  The first adult front tooth has already made it’s appearance, so she might never be without “apple” teeth.

And here is Natasha modeling my latest finished project, and my first “chemo” hat.

One of my goals for my rabbit wool is to knit super-soft, super-warm, close-fitting hats for folks who have lost their hair.  This hat is for a dear lady I met last year who wore a creative range of head-coverings all summer.  She had hair the last time I saw her (a long time ago now), but because she was the one in-mind the whole time this idea grew, well, I knew she had to get the first one.

Natasha says she would like one of her own. “Exactly like it, Mama! Colors and everything!”

You can’t tell in the picture, but only the bottom half is dual-strand knitted, because I used up all my angora yarn about that time.  So I’ll have to spin some more before I can do anything new.  I like this pattern, too: it’s easy to remember without looking too simple.

Oh, and Natasha’s news is that she’s becoming quite proficient in the kitchen. She can break-up and watch the ground meat or sausage while I work on the rest of dinner, and she’s mastered the Lara(esque) Bars in Katie’s Healthy Snacks To-Go.

Today she came to me at lunch time and (rather than complain she was hungry) simply asked if there was anything she could make for lunch.

I love that attitude!  She and sibs made their own cheese tacos for lunch.

This growing independence can be fun :)