Thursday, January 31, 2008

School Days

Our librarian seems like she could use a vacation.

I think we'll wait to use that atlas tomorrow...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thank You, Thank You Very Much...

We still have one of those old style fuel oil furnaces. You know, where you have a big 275 gallon tank in your basement and you have fuel delivered once a month at the tune of $3.19 per gallon. (I'll let you the math. Yeah, ouch!) Anyway, it had been quite some time since our guy had been here but couldn't remember the exact date. Normally I would have been in complete paranoid panic mode by now, but when I sent the DH down to check the gauge last weekend he said we were still a little over 1/4 of a tank. Even with as cold as it has been we thought we'd be able to make it another week or so no problem. Our fuel guy always delivers on a Friday so I figured I'd see him today.

This morning he called first thing. He was in a panic, said he tried to deliver to us last week but we weren't home. He was surprised I wasn't calling HIM in a panic or sitting in the cold. When I told him we still had a 1/4 of a tank he sounded surprised and like he didn't really believe me. Then when he got here and looked for himself he said "Wow, you guys must have done something. It never would have lasted six weeks before." Once I got over the shock of realizing it had been six weeks, I told him about filling the cracks and crevices and started to explain the screen doors. I even showed him the screen doors (hey, he asked). He's now going to make some for his house. So my crazy plexiglass insert screen door idea wasn't so crazy after all.

(insert mental image of me bowing here)

Okay maybe getting the furnace serviced, filling the cracks and installing weatherstripping helped a little. ;-)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

There Was an Old Woman

There was an old woman who swallowed a fly.
I don't know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she'll die.

Remember that one? I finally figured out why she swallowed the fly. Cause her doctor told her to. So he could continue to treat her and tell her to swallow the spider, then the bird and the cat and so on and so on. Charging her a $35 co-pay per visit.

A little over four months ago I smoked, didn't exercise and ate junk food all the time. My cholesterol was over 300 even though I was at a healthy weight. I quit smoking, I gained weight. I started exercising, I hurt my back. I started eating healthy, now I'm on more stinkin' medication than I was four months ago. This weeks latest medication for a sinus infection is making me violently ill. I guess at least it'll help with the weight loss.

Or perhaps I'll die.

Either way this, my friends, is why I haven't been amusing you with my wit and wisdom on a daily basis. I'm too busy swallowing things. I don't know why.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Holy **** it's Cold!

Too busy flappin' our appendages to keep warm to do any work or write anything of interest.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Saturday: The guys went blacksmithing. A. made a couple of potted plant hangers. Then they worked on cleaning up the barn. We think we've finally found a forge at a reasonable price, so it sounds like the barn's going to be part blacksmith shop, part lawn and garden storage and part chicken coop. While they worked on that I foraged for food and ran some other errands. Made homemade pizza for dinner.

Sunday: He put a coat of paint on the walls in the pantry. I scrubbed toilets, etc. A. cleaned his room and continued building a medieval castle because that evil teacher he has said he had to do work on the weekend. Watched the Colts lose. Made a homemade chicken pot pie. I'm happy to report the smoke alarm was not involved in either meal. Baby steps.

I'd take bets on who finishes their project first, the pantry, the castle or learning to cook but the kid has more free time than the rest of us.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Never Ending Pantry Project

Remember that pantry project we started oh, a year ago? Yeah. We're back at it. Again. It's one of the projects I desperately want to get finished before Spring hits and the weather warms up. Otherwise it's likely to be another year before it gets done. So over the past couple weeks, he's been busy patching the gaping holes where walls used to be.And started adding trim to the back porch side of the room to match the other "exterior" trim as the room used to be an open porch. (This door was installed in the kitchen by the POs, not sure what part of the house it came from originally as all other closet doors appear to be intact. We moved it here so we could move the fridge back in it's place.)
It's funny how your priorities change. A year ago I had a beautiful, historically appropriate pantry/mudroom in mind reusing the original kitchen cabinets. Now, a year later, I'd settle for a couple of coat hooks and a few two by fours as shelving.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Public Safety Announcement

If, while using oven mitts that have previously been chewed upon by a mouse for bedding material, you happen to forget that the broiler in your new oven is right there at the top and hold them too close, the soft stuffing poking out of the thumb WILL catch on fire.

Just thought you should know.

Ghetto Birds

We live in an area surrounded by hobby farms. When you leave here to head to town you will see full size horses, wee little mini horses, full size goats, wee little pygmy goats, sheep, cows, etc. etc. The one thing I haven't noticed though is chickens. I'm thinking this could be for a couple of reasons. The first possibility is that it's an area prone to predators. I watch the hawks swirling around the back yard every day. I'm told there are eagles nests nearby as well. There are plenty of coyotes, raccoons and even a health conscious fox who we've seen jogging along the road. All of them would just love to stop by for a quick chicken sandwich. Perhaps the neighbors already figured that out the hard way?

If we're going to do this I want good tasting eggs. The only way to do that is to let them wander around eating all the bugs and grass they want. So how on earth am I going to keep these chickens safe AND let them free range? And most importantly, do it on the cheap? Because the other possibility for the lack of chickens in the area could be that they realized chickens aren't really profitable. You would think, since the chickens produce eggs, it could be a cash producing venture. But if you're going to calculate the the cost of their housing into the picture then you'd need the county equivalent to low income housing.

I don't think these chickens have been watching a lot of HGTV so I'm hoping they won't mind the sky high security fence and bars over the windows look we have planned for them at the west end of the barn.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Name for Folks Like Us

When you see two horses, two goats, two opossums and two hawks on your way home during a torrential downpour, you can't help but wonder if they're on their way to the ark. But the freaky, warm weather came in handy during dinner when I burned the snot out of the garlic bread, set the smoke alarm off and needed to open the windows to air the place out. Which leads me to my New Years resolution. I've decided I'm going to learn how to cook.

Oh sure, some of you have stomached things I've made and survived. I've managed to squeak by all these years. What I'm talking about is REALLY cooking. You know, something that doesn't have instructions on the side of the box. Something to excite my newly rediscovered taste buds. Something *cough, hack, sputter* healthy. Tonight it was green eggs and ham. My customers weren't nearly as amused by it as I was. They caught on that the green was in fact spinach in disguise.

Speaking of spinach, that's my other resolution. This year we're going to plant our garden. Last year was all about regaining control of the landscape and chasing my cherry tomato plant in a pot all over the yard. This year I'm gonna plant that sucker in the ground. We'll just see if it blows away then! I'm hoping for an herb garden along with a veggie garden. Oh and maybe some strawberries. I want other berries too, but I'd better start off small.

We'll need some fertilizer. Which brings me to the chickens, chickens poop. A lot. Good thing if your a gardener, not so good if you're, well, pretty much anybody else. So in theory, the chickens will feed the garden, the garden will feed us, the leftovers will feed the chickens, the chickens will feed us and so on and so forth. In theory.

It had been a while since I'd raised chickens or grown any spinach, so I did the obvious. I looked it up on the internet. While browsing and a few others, I realized that there's apparently a HUGE market out there of self help books for city slickers wanting to get away from it all and become "Homesteaders". People who would willingly leave their lattes behind in an effort to get back to nature. People who will commute to the country, find a quiet spot and build themselves a little house on the prairie. Complete with chickens and a garden.

We've been so busy doing our thing, we didn't even realize we WERE a thing. Come to find out, we're homesteaders.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Which Came First?

In our case, it was the chickens.

When I was a wee young thing, my Dad decided it would be fun for us kids to raise a few chickens. Having been born and raised on a farm with a love for animals he wanted to share that experience with us. I fondly remember browsing the chicken catalog (yep there is such a thing) trying to decide which breeds to raise. I, of course, wanted the funny looking ones with the wild hairdos that would lay colored eggs.

So that's what Dad ordered. The next thing you know the post office was calling and saying "Uh, you've got a package here that's peeping. Would you mind coming in and picking it up?" So we did, and thus began the adventures of our own version of a petting zoo. We eventually had chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, peacocks, rabbits, raccoons, ferrets, goats, pigs and a pony just to name a few. It was always an adventure. Dad loved those animals and so did I.

Many moons passed and eventually we kids grew up and moved on. Dad maintained the menagerie for a while but eventually gave it up. The barn was torn down. The barn lot returned to a real yard. But the memories of those crazy critters were ours forever.

In 2002 my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Towards the end of that year it was starting to look like the uphill battle may be lost. There were lots of discussions about the good old days. Like the time Tom the turkey stayed outside protecting the flock during an ice storm and we had to dig him up and bring him in the house to thaw him out. Or the time the goats chased a visiting child and when she tried to jump the fence her shoelace caught and the next thing you know she was hanging upside down. Sounds horrible, but boy was it ever funny to watch.

We reminisced about how much we enjoyed sitting down and looking at that chicken catalog together. When we talked about it, there was a sparkle in Dad's eye that I hadn't seen in a long time. He said, "We should order a catalog." I thought, what the heck, lets order one. If the man wants a catalog by golly I'll get him one. So I did. The next time I visited he told me he'd been thinking about it a lot. He wanted to know if I had ordered it. I said yes, and I was surprised he hadn't already received it. We chatted a while and before I left I checked his mail. There was the catalog! Needless to say I extended my stay that night and we "picked out" all sorts of our favorite breeds.

By this point, he was no longer seeking treatments and was on hospice care. The next time I visited, he sheepishly said he was going to order some chickens. They would be delivered in early March. If you could have seen the look in his eyes, you would understand why there was no way in the world I or anyone else was going to tell him he couldn't have them. So in early March of 2003 the post office called and said "You have a package here that's peeping." With my uncle's and cousin's help, he kept the chicks in a plastic kiddie swimming pool right there in the living room next to his makeshift bed. They brought him great pleasure, as chicks are awfully cute and comical at that age.

Dad passed away March 24, 2003. It wasn't until then that we stood around scratching our heads saying, "Uh, what are we going to do with all these chickens?" Both my brother and I were living in the city at that time and we were pretty sure chickens weren't going to fly with the homeowners association (pun intended). Fortunately, my uncle graciously bailed us out and said he would keep them.

It's almost five years now. Five difficult years of living without him. My uncle is getting ready to retire. He and my aunt would like to do some traveling. We've settled in here at the farmhouse. It's time. Time for the chickens to come home to roost. And time to order a new chicken catalog so my son and I can pick out our favorites.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Holiday Hubub Highlights

The best part of any holiday season is getting to catch up with friends and family. One of my cousins' is doing his dissertation on the history of rock-n-roll in Istanbul, another is launching rockets carrying satellites into outer space. I also had the pleasure of chatting with an astronaut about his stay on Mir while I was dressed like a flower girl at a hippie themed Christmas party. (Hey, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.) The funny part, besides the way we looked, was the look on their faces when I mentioned I was homeschooling, as if I were the one with the difficult job.

I rock at Guitar Hero. My DH, not so much. After a visit with cousins, A. decided he needed the game, so he broke into his stash of cash and bought it for himself. We all decided a Wii might be fun for the whole family too. If only we could find one...

It looks like we might inherit some chickens. My DH mentioned to my uncle that we "would think about it" and somehow by the end of the night it was being discussed as if it were a done deal. There's a long story behind this one, I'll save that for tomorrow. In the mean time anyone have a good reference on how to build a chicken coop?