Almost there

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have had a good week. It has been pleasantly uneventful here. Oh, other than an escaped chicken (one of our young ones) that got eaten by a hawk. It’s a full time job keeping chickens alive around here! We thought we had all the holes covered that the little ones could escape from, but two found a way out. Luckily we arrived back home in time to rescue one of them, but the hawk had already gotten the other one. It’s depressing when these things happen. 

I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. I have a pile of veggies to freeze and tomorrow is a major tomato canning day. Tonight is open house at the school and Thursday is “finish school shopping” day as well as some medical appointments. Friday is a major grocery shopping day. In other words, time is short this week.

If you read last week’s post you know I have been setting up routines and doing a now, three week long over the top, home and yard cleanup. All this has been in prep for next week when school starts back. I’m trying to lay the groundwork for a real schedule this year. A much needed scheduled. A “the housework isn’t done” guilt free schedule! 

I think my hard work has paid off.  There isn’t much left on the house other than some big remodeling projects and repairs that will happen in small increments. The yard will be getting a major overhaul this coming month for our annual family chicken stew, so I will have help with that. My goal is to finally have 20-25 hours a week to get back to my artwork and a little side job that brings in some cash flow.  I am also preparing those people that I live with to NOT find projects in my coveted time slot. In all the hours available in a week, I don’t think 25 hours is too much to ask especially considering I am a much more pleasant person to live with if you DON’T mess with my time. I will keep you updated on how this goes. 

Have a great week and stay on schedule!

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High summer insanity

Hi Everyone, 

Yes, I am two weeks behind here. Yes, I have tried several times to get a post written but my time has been limited. Very limited! Week before last I took the week off while Miss L. was away on a mission trip with our church so I could get a good start painting my kitchen and some other very involved stuff. Things do not happen here in grand and glorious sweeps. Our accomplishments come in tiny bits and pieces squeezed out of odd moments of time. Last week, well, the high summer season kicked in and Mother Nature rules.

I am going to give you bullet points and photos because I just don’t have the time at the moment for long thoughtful writing. Hopefully I can squeeze some in between now and September, but don’t be surprised if there are more posts like this over the next month. My apologies. Life happens.

  • Spark Plug got to go free from his 5 week confinement on Saturday. He’s happy for his freedom. I’m happy not to be hauling hay and water twice a day to the round pen.  ​
  • The 25 cucumber plants are producing PROFUSELY!
  • The pickle making is currently at least a part time job for me at the moment. 
  • Miss L. is taking a pottery class this week. It was supposed to be at a facility 15 minutes from our house. It got moved to a location 30 minutes from our house. Two hours a day of driving. 
  • I am dealing with some life aggravations that include disputing a medical bill. I suspect that alone will take several hours this week with phone calls and letters, plus a couple other time intensive problems to solve. 
  • We added 3 chickens to the flock yesterday.  We thought they would be teenage pullets. Instead, they are pre-teen pullets and much smaller than our new chicken run set up. They are so small they can get through the run wire. On one side are the grown hens who are not above pecking one of their own kind to death. On the other side is the pasture and the domain of the infamous chicken killing raccoon. And on the third and forth side awaits Sweetie Pie the Cat, who realized the new girls are the perfect snacking size. We have now rigged a containment center within the run, but it’s in the testing stage (and as they grow has the potential for escape) so I have to regularly go out to do a security check. Keeping chickens alive around here is a full time job!  
  • The tomato plants are heavy with little green tomatoes and growing faster than I can tied them up. Brace yourself for for a plethora of tomato pics and complaints in the very near future.
  • The yard needs mowing, the herbs need picking and drying and do I really need to mention laundry, cleaning and cooking?
  • I started some artwork two weeks ago and it just sits and taunts me right now. 

This is life in Crazyville at the moment. I’m just doing it like Nike tells us to do. Hopefully you will hear from me next week, but if you don’t, be assured I am buried under a pile of cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Go somewhere and have a relaxing vacation for me please. Have a great week! 

Spring meet Summer

Hi Everyone,

Wow, I’m so sorry about missing last week’s post. The week was a total collision of Spring into Summer in a most chaotic way!

It started on Sunday with a call from my son letting me know he was coming to stay for a few days. My son is not a planner so the standing rule is that I require 4 hours notice before he shows up so I can at least arrange to have enough food.  He gave me exactly 4 hours!

Monday was a major garden day and since he was here I put the boy to work. Both of my kids live several hours away and I don’t get to see them often so when I do there are things that go undone so I can enjoy the time I have with them. Our afternoon was spent sitting in the front yard watching horses and discussing life and his future plans. Then it was start dinner and take Miss L to an appointment. By the time we got back it was late and evening chore time.

Tuesday…the boy (young man who turns 23 in four days) took off to get some gear for his next adventure and I frantically tried to get some work done before I had to be at school for Miss L’s Awards Day.  We knew she would be getting the Perfect Attendance award and the Principal’s Award (all A’s, all year!), but she also walked away with… (1) The Good Egg Award, given by the Guidance counselor to one girl and one boy in each grade for their great attitude, helpfulness, etc.  (2) The Teacher’s Choice award given by the grade level teachers for the same reasons as the Good Egg Award (3) and she received The Golden Pincushion Award from the Life Skills teacher for her proficiency and creativity in sewing. For my new readers who haven’t read Miss L’s backstory, her Mother died last June and her ENTIRE world changed overnight when she had to leave her home, community, church and school to come live with us.  School is a major barometer to how well a child is coping with trauma and I cannot begin to tell you how happy and relieved D. and I are to know she is doing so well. I might have shed a few tears on my way home.

Tuesday continued…ran home to start dinner (why do people have to eat every single day??), then back to school to pick up Miss L. (Field day was after awards), then the hour drive (we live an hour from EVERYTHING) to the orthodontist as she starts the braces process. Back home about 7 pm, eat dinner, chores, collapse.

Wednesday is normally D’s day off, but since he would be taking off early on Thursday (more to come on that) he worked half the day.  I think I have mentally blocked most of Wednesday but I remember it being packed full of work, both income related and farm related and once again collapsing into bed.

Thursday…where to begin? The boy left in the morning for his Go West Young Man adventure. As of yesterday he was in Colorado and there are plans to visit Wyoming and Montana before heading back East. There is mountain climbing involved but it’s best for this Mom not to dwell on that too much. 

Right after he left I went to start a load of clothes for Miss L’s upcoming trip to visit friends and go to Vacation Bible School at her old church. Guess what? No water. We have a bad well and have to be very careful of our usage. One day there will be a new one drilled. Anyway, I had to call D. to come home and restart the pump while I had a mild anxiety attack and said ugly things to the well.  Why? That was the night that my bonus daughter was graduating from high school and I really needed a shower! This was about 9 am. Miss L was getting out of school at 11:30, all animal related chores had to be done early and we had to be dressed and in the car by 4:30 to make the, you guessed it, hour + drive to the high school. 

D. got the pump started, the slightly wet clothes would have to wait and he went back to work. At 11:15 as I was heading to pick up the girl, D. calls me and says, “we are getting a donkey today.” What the…? We had been promised a free donkey from the owner of the company D. works for because he keeps them to guard his cattle but evidently doesn’t geld any of the jacks and has too many each Spring.  Since we had taken on a trainee horse recently we had hoped that his boss might forget the whole donkey thing this year and we could revisit it next year. But nooooooo!


I picked up Miss L, got home, still no water!  Then in rolled D. with Spark Plug the donkey. SP is wild, never handled. Lots of trailer maneuvering through the pasture, strategic round pen door set up to prevent wild donkey escapes, etc.  About an hour of donkey time and then there was just enough water to fill up the water bucket for SP before it stopped again.  1:00 pm and I am especially dirty and sweaty now. Lunch, chores, D. is back from work (you know his boss needed to shed some donkeys when he let D. use the company truck, trailer and company time to bring SP home) and we are praying for the well to have water. It did. Just enough for D. and I to get presentable for Miss G.’s graduation. We saw her graduate (she also won two awards and a scholarship) then had dinner with all the family and friends and did not get home until after 11:00 pm.


Friday… Miss L gets to sleep in now that school is out. D. and I do not and we are close to the walking dead at this point. Do we get to have a relaxing Friday evening after a full day of work? No. Hay has been been cut. As soon as D. gets off work at 5:00 we take truck, trailer, Miss L and D’s co-worker, George to pick up hay.  Two hundred and twenty four bales later, stacked in the barn, George (who still enjoyed his Friday night beer while picking up hay and was a little wobbly when done) taken home, all critters and humans fed, chickens secured in their house, D and I crawled our weary selves in the bed. 


Saturday and Sunday were not much better, but now that we are officially into Summer (according to our personal time frame) things should even out until the harvest, canning, get ready for winter crazy. I am blocking those thoughts for now. D and I celebrated our second anniversary yesterday and hope to have a nice meal in a nice restaurant tomorrow evening and pat ourselves on surviving the past year!

I hope your Spring to Summer transition goes much smoother than ours. Have a great week!

Oh, oh, oh… Here are the portraits that I have been promising to post FOREVER!

Mother Nature always wins

Hi Everyone,

How is your week so far? I hope that wherever you are, you are safe, comfortable and dry. I don’t watch much in the way of news anymore, but what I have seen has been full of the power of Mother Nature!

Hurricane season has started with the first tropical storm coming up through the Gulf, other places have been flooded and then there is Hawaii. I have been strangely fascinated with the volcano eruption to the point I check on it daily. To paraphrase one local, it is both sad and beautiful at the same time. 

In our little corner of the world we have also been dealing with Mother Nature. Saturday morning was traumatic. D. went to feed the horses and chickens while I was walking the mutts. When he reached the chicken run he faced the horror of several dead chickens. Evidently raccoons found a weak spot in the chicken fortress. Somehow we had some survivors, but our favorite girls were gone. It was just awful. 

I spent the morning yanking weeds (my tried and true way of working out big, bad emotions) and sobbing over our girls. I cursed raccoons and everything else that constantly tries to eat our chickens. It’s a LONG list. Everything likes chicken. After three hours of this I had exhausted myself, gotten my herb bed in much better shape AND resigned myself that this is nature’s way. Everything has to eat. 

I sent D. a text to start looking for more chickens. He works part time at a livestock feed company. It’s not hard to find farm animals when you just ask every single customer buying chicken feed. He located someone by the time he got off work and we added 3 Rhode Island Reds to the flock.  Egg production is drastically down. Only two eggs in the past two days when we were getting about eight. Hopefully when our survivors recover and the new girls get settled we will see eggs again. If not, we may have to add more to the flock. We have a new arrangement with our neighbor that we will trade her fresh eggs for some fresh milk from her new cow.  I think I’m channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder again! 

Gertrude is traumatized
The new girls

So we now have upped the fortifications of the chicken coop and run. It has locks like a New York City apartment and everything except concertina wire around the top and bottom. The things we do for eggs around here!

In continuing our struggle to balance our lives with allowing the wildlife theirs, we finally got a permanent fence around our garden. It still needs a few posts and the gate, but it will slow down the annihilation of our veggies. Again, everything has to eat…including us.  Now we just need to get one more door on the feed and tack room to keep the critters out of the horse, chicken and cat food.  We have a big ol’ compost pile. Why can’t they just eat there. Free food, every day, no work (killing or destruction) involved!


You know that you are crazy country people when your Saturday evening fun consists of pulling up chairs to watch the hens work out their new pecking order. Luckily this time there was only some chest pounding, wild flapping and minor head pecking involved. Last time one girl needed some doctoring for a few days until it all settled down. I also had to don my chicken wrestling clothes just in case the new girls couldn’t figure out that the little red house was where they had to sleep…behind all those shiny new locks to frustrate any especially wiley raccoons.

On the art front, I am delivering portraits this evening. I have several works in progress including this sneak peak at something different. Hopefully next week there will be several “reveals”.  


Be safe out there. I don’t think Mother Nature is very happy with us right now.

Itchy

Hi Everyone,

It all started last week when I had a head on collision with a honeybee. She panicked and stung my forehead. 

A few days later we took on three tons of mulch spreading in the garden and yard. Evidently I disturbed a few ticks who decided to make a meal out of me. 

Where I found the poison oak I have no idea, but it found me. I’m not really allergic to it but this time it seems to have found its way into my bloodstream and is popping out in little uber itchy spots all over my body. 

To add insult to injury I began to have mystery pain across my right side that took me to the doctor who also decided it was a mystery that would require blood tests this week. During the weekend, before the scheduled tests, the mystery pain began to turn into itchy patches and revealed itself as shingles. 

When I say that it has been a VERY ITCHY week… It’s an understatement. 

So please excuse my brief post today. I can barely focus and of course, my new bees are ready to be picked up. I will be fully suited up for their transfer into their new hives (bees can’t wait for the beekeeper’s recovery). One more itchy spot might be one too many this week!

Hoping you have a no itch week! 

It’s about time

Hi Everyone!

Did you notice that I’m back on schedule this week? Woo hoo! I was determined to get a post in before the weekend starts.

Is my To Do list caught up? Not by a long shot but I’m pretty sure it never will be. I finished a knitting project and a commissioned project this week. I don’t have photos of either of them yet though. I will be starting two small portraits soon. Stay tuned for those. 

In my “spare” time I started a new pair of socks. My sock knitting is getting faster. I started these on Monday and am almost to the heel already. This is just squeezing in 10 or 15 minutes here and there, often waiting on an email or supper to finish cooking or waiting for an appointment. Aren’t these the most beautiful colors. Pure joy to hold and knit!


I did a little of this knitting while waiting Tuesday evening for Miss L to be inducted into the honor society. We are so stinking proud of her especially considering the vast numbers of changes that have occurred in her life this year! 


This week I also pulled out several textile art unfinished objects and plan to finally finish them up and put them in my Etsy store. Here is the first. Not quite finished yet but close. I will post them with a link when I get them finished and in the store. 


Muffin had the last of her shots this week and became the celebrity kitty of the day when she willingly sat on EVERYONE’s shoulders at the veterinarian’s. Here she is with two of the doctors. 

We have had more barn drama this week. Something tried to get to Muffin one night and pulled her kitty condo off the table in the barn. She has a spacious large dog crate for a condo so we suspect a coyote. NOT GOOD. Luckily the door latch held and Muffin was safe but everyone has been a bit jumpy this week especially the horses who were the silent witnesses ensconced in their stalls and none too fond of coyotes either. Last night something knocked over Sweetie Pie’s (Muffin’s Mom) crate.  SP doesn’t get locked in because she has excellent barn cat skills and is safer with an escape plan.  She came cruising out to meet me this morning showing no sign of being terrorized. Whew!! Whatever it was decided that the honey racks stored in the feed room (we still need one more door…SOON) would have to do for a midnight snack. Now I have a sticky mess to clean up. Insert bad words here. 

We have a rare and wonderful unscheduled Saturday tomorrow. I have a goal of starting the kitchen remodel that was supposed to happen LAST Spring. Now if I can get the painting and repairs done BEFORE the garden planting and bee season begin I will be doing a happy dance! To accomplish this I must go dig the paint out of the closet in G’s room before she gets here this evening. Gotta go ya’ll. 

May time be on your side this week!

It’s wild out here

Hi Everyone!

I’m late. I’m late. I’m late. I had big plans for this week. We all know how that goes. 

My plan was to finish up the painting that is in progress and start a new one. Sounds simple, right? Well, Monday work started pouring in. Yes, I’m in the process of “retiring” (loud laughter here), but I’m not there yet and am both phasing one business out while phasing another one in. It’s complicated. I also have four logo designs in the works and they take up some time. Now I haven’t had a logo to do in about two years (Seems folks can get them online for $5 now. Don’t EVEN get me started!) and unfortunately none of these are paying jobs. One is for myself,  one for my daughter, one for a church event and one for our local beekeeping association. They still have to get done sometime soon though. 

Then one of the dogs stuck his nose somewhere that he shouldn’t and had some sort of allergic reaction that required some doctoring on my part on and off for a couple of days. 

I had to stop working to handle some of the remaining estate stuff for a while, then D. comes home Thursday afternoon dragging the flu with him. While he is in bed with chills and nausea, Miss L. and I are on horse care duty normally handled by D.  Then, wouldn’t you know it, these people I live with want food. Every. Single. Day. Oh, and the four legged ones are even more demanding than the two legged ones.

Did I mention that the element in the oven died? Yep. While waiting on the new one to arrive I had to revise every meal plan for the week. Oh, and our last dryer died this week (D. and I had two of everything when we got married. Not anymore.) so call me Laura Ingalls Wilder as I haul the wet clothes to the clothesline. I don’t mind it in the summer, but it’s FEBRUARY! 

As D. began to recover from the flu he got bored, but wasn’t up to functioning yet, so he begged me to go get his trail cam so he could see woodland creatures (Deer. Assessing the post hunting season deer population). So, Miss L. and I don our fanciest muck boots and head down the muddy pasture, through the woods, cross the mighty Raccoon Creek to retrieve the precious trail cam, ford Raccoon Creek again without dropping precious cargo, slip slide back up the pasture trying to reach the safety of soggy yard. We almost made it. Two feet from the fence Miss L. was sucked in by Carolina red clay. I had to hold onto to the fence post and lean as far as I could, stretch out my hand to grasp hers and pull her to safety without falling into the mire myself.  Finally the trail cam was delivered to the anxiously awaiting D.  

Was I done then? Nope. Mr. Anti Technology wanted to see the pictures on my big computer screen. Sigh. Finally he was happily settled in watching lions and tigers and bears. Oh my! Ok, it wasn’t that exciting but we did get to see crows, squirrels, fox, rabbits, raccoons (they don’t call it Raccoon Creek for nothing), coyotes and lots of deer.  We are pretty sure a bear wanders through occasionally so maybe one day….

Finally dinner was done, cleanup was done, clothes brought in from the line in the last tiny bit of remaining light and I thought I was done. Then this weak voice comes from the bedroom. “Did you plug the fence back in after you fed the horses”? DANG! No. Bob the horse takes every possible opportunity to escape when the fence is off and I did not want to wrangle horses in the middle of the night. So once again I don my lovely muck boots, grab a coat and a flashlight and head to the barn. Before I get to the fence I hear Sweetie Pie the cat rattling around in her big bag of cat food that once again she has knocked off a cabinet for a feeding frenzy. As I rounded the corner to yell at her I realized that Sweetie Pie was at my feet and the rattling was still going on. My flashlight caught the glow of two beady, guilty eyes attached to a big ‘ole possum less than two feet from me. 

Mr. Sickly had to turn his own fence on. 

Have a great week!