Snow = mud

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well and for those that had the snow bomb dropped on them, I hope you have shoveled your way out. In a few hours I am going to attempt freedom with my little car.

We survived the storm pretty well. I suspect we ended with 16-18 inches of snow, but we had so much wind that it was hard to tell. Some flat areas had 11 inches but we also had drifts that were 24+ inches. Higher than the tops of my tall rubber boots. Great fun when walking the dogs. Not!  The power stayed on and we were cozy and well fed. Maybe too well fed with all the snowmaggedon goodies I had made. 


The animals were some comic relief. D. left the horses and donkey in the barn Saturday night so they would be out of the worst of the storm. Midday on Sunday he let them out so he could clean and restock their food and hay. I was watching as they came from behind the barn, trotting through the snow, tossing their manes. Then they stopped, looked around, looked at each other, then turned in unison and trotted back to the barn. 

The chickens were just as bad or worse. D. opened their house door when he let the horses out. Five hens poked their heads out the door and refused to come out…FOR THREE DAYS! They would make a quick run for water and the bread crumbs that I tried to bribe them out with, then hightail it right back in the house. The only creature around here that doesn’t seem to have an issue with snow is fat Sweetie Pie. She put on her winter blubber last month and has been happily playing in the snow. Sweetie Pie loves her life in every season. 

Sunday was the perfect snow day. With careful planning we only had to take care of the animals, then we were free to read, sleep, watch TV, eat, while staying cozy next to the wood stove. It was wonderful! Monday we knew school would be out but there were daily chores to do and D. got the truck out and went to work. I had time to start a new drawing. Tuesday, no school, chores, food is getting low. Wednesday, no school, Danny’s day off but Miss L. and I were getting cabin fever so we required a trip to the Dollar General to see other human beings. Today, Thursday, NO SCHOOL. Miss L. is running out of reading material and I’m running out of ways to keep her busy. We are getting my car out today if I have to hitch it to a horse! 


Oh yeah, all that lovely snow is slowly turning to MUD. Lots and lots of mud. Muddy horses and donkey. Muddy dog prints and boot prints on the floor. Constant mopping. Soon there will be muddy chickens. Sweetie Pie is the only one who manages to stay pristine. Rain starts tomorrow. The mud will last until about July. 


So next week begins the influx of family for Christmas. If you don’t hear from me it’s because I’m cooking and cleaning like a wild woman so I can have some quality time with my kids while they are here. Let’s just say there is a good chance I won’t be back until the first week of January 2019! 

Stay safe, warm and have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

Advertisements

Fixed. Ready. Waiting.

Hi Everyone!

Hope you are well. I’m moving slow today. Last night was another one of THOSE nights where I slept fine at the beginning, was awake in the middle, fell asleep again just in time to have to get up and start my day. Ugh. I’m beginning to think my sleep may be affected by incoming weather fronts just like my sinuses. A dull sinus headache started during the sleepless hours and I know there is a big winter weather front heading our way. I should come up with some sort of weather and moon chart to track this stuff. I will add that to my next lifetime To Do list. It’s not very likely to make it on this one.

This week has been focused on that big weather event heading our way. Lots of wood gathering and splitting (D. and Miss L. handle most of that) for heat and possible power outage.  We all have been taking steps to make sure the animals have warm places and unfrozen water. I have been making sure to keep plenty of sugar water out for the bees so they can get through what’s coming. I have the hives insulated for the storm and the 11 degree night on Monday. They won’t be showing up in Better Homes & Gardens but it’s done. The chickens will either be getting a complete coop clean out or a new layer of bedding depending on my time and energy. They have finally begun to pull out of molting season and need some extra nutrition. If you have never seen chickens during molting, just imagine semi naked hens and feathers everywhere. Not a chicken’s most handsome time of the year. 


I have also been planning winter condition meals. Food that can be heated on our wood stove should the power go out. There will be a big pot of veggie soup ready and I thought some oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies would be in order as well. Personally I LOVE a good snow day (no more than two though) where, after the animals are taken care of, there isn’t much to be done except settle in with a good book, hot chocolate (I made some of that too) and cookies. Fabulous! 


Most of the Christmas shopping is done and I plan to wrap gifts this weekend. I’m starting on a certain baby shower plan as well and that is on the weekend To Do list. I have not been showing any artwork lately, but I am getting some done. There is some experimenting going on and that is an awkward stage sort of like adolescence so I’m kind of embarrassed to throw it out in the world yet. Hopefully something more refined will begin to show up soon and then I will add them back into these posts.

If you have been reading here for awhile you might remember that back in May I made it a goal to start fixing some much loved and often used items. Anyway, to finally update you on my progress, I have fixed the stone necklace in the first post, repaired a necklace that my bonus daughter brought me back from Italy that had a broken clasp, cleaned out a pile of old jewelry and replaced some buttons on several garments. After a few decades of being missing, my charm bracelet from high school reappeared. Since it went missing before I could add many charms to it, I am slowly adding some now as I find bits and pieces that hold memories for me such as one of the earrings I wore when D. and I got married. The other was lost and the survivor was just hanging out in my jewelry box. 


Two major practical fixes happened this week. The binder of Favorite Recipes finally got reorganized! Years ago I got tired of trying to remember what cookbook those favorite recipes resided in and started writing them down or cutting and pasting them into a binder. The binder has been a hot mess for several years and it was beginning to take me almost as long to find them in the binder as it did in the cookbooks. Thanks to winter (I’m trying to be positive about this season) I have a couple of unclaimed hours most evenings right now and made use of one of them to fix the binder. Eventually I plan to make a nice cover for it, but for now it is reorganized and no longer stressing me out. 


My other major fix was my fallen apart and out of control password book. Yes, I write them down. My memory cannot hold them and yes, I realize that if the book falls into the wrong hands our life will be a total mess for a long time. It’s either waste hours of my time trying to figure out passwords or put them in a book. I do not trust online password storage so don’t even mention it. I have a few hiding places that even the most determined robber would have to be very brave to enter. So, I am almost finished with categorizing the current passwords and eliminating the defunct ones. I am feeling very accomplished and organized right now! 


So yours truly has been a busy girl. Next week I will update you on our first winter snow and how we all fared.

Stay safe  and warm out there. Fix a few things then give yourself a big pat on the back!

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!

Pickle Power

Hi Everyone, 

I’m going to write this as fast as I can so I can say that I finally finished a blog post this week.  It’s raining here so I have a little reprieve from cucumber picking. 

We have had a super abundance of cucumbers that I have been pickling as fast as I can. Sweet pickles, dill pickles, refrigerator pickles, bread and butter pickles. We have eaten cucumber sandwiches at least once a day for a month. I have given away cucumbers by the bag full. I am beginning to consider leaving them in my mail box for our mail lady and making anonymous cucumber drops at every church and doorstep in the surrounding area. Currently there are three bushels in my laundry room! 


Thank goodness D. ends his extra work hours this week because now the tomatoes are coming in (all 84 plants!). Pickling ends this week and tomato canning starts next week! I’m already running out of storage for all this so at some point I have to stop the canning to shuffle stuff around for more room. I’m seriously wondering if the canned food would be safe in our storage unit over the winter.

In other news, we have been spending a ridiculous amount of time securing animals. We had to get creative and tie feed bags along the perimeter of the new chickens’ run because they were so small they could get out through the fencing. We have redneck ingenuity down to a fine art around here. It’s not pretty, but it’s cheap and effective. Hopefully it won’t be there too long. 


Big Bad Bob kept escaping from the pasture and taking our donkey and the trainee horse with him. We couldn’t find where they were getting out so we spent the past weekend, including our Sunday, walking the fence line, moving fence post and running more wire. Well, D. did most of it.  We also made the hard decision (though not nearly as hard as before all the escapes) to sell Bob. He was seriously upping his mischief level lately and we were worried about the safety of the other horses and well as mine and Miss L.’s. He’s a big ‘ole horse and sometimes was not patient about waiting for us to open his stall door.  I was envisioning myself as a greasy spot after Bob plowed over me on his way to catch up with his buddies. We miss his handsome goofy self, but he is with a co-worker of D.’s who also trains horses and is in good hands. 


No real artwork happening at all. The kitchen table (aka my studio) is currently covered with dehydrators. Oh yeah, we are making cucumber chips too and my herbs are coming in as well, so I’m drying them.  I have a sweater on the knitting needles but it’s a pretty boring pattern. I did start some embroidery/textile art because I HAD to do somethings creative. I get cranky when I don’t have somethings artsy to do. This is small and easily tucked away but also easy for me to pick up and put down in my spare few minutes. 


The only other thing I want to mention this week is for those of you who read this crazy blog to keep up with Miss L.  She has been with us for over a year now and is doing very well. She is in pre-teen mode and if you have survived that stage yourself or that of your kids, you know that it’s, uh, challenging at times.  I have decided that it is time to limit what I put out on social media about her life now.  She will soon be of age to decide how much she wants to share on her own and it’s not my place to tell about her life.  If we do something as a family she will be mentioned, but otherwise I will be keeping her life private. If you are a member of the community that helped look after her, you are welcome to message me for an update. I just feel it’s best to protect her privacy. 

Next week my daughter and son-in-law will be in for a visit. I seriously doubt I will be able to work in a post. Bear with me. I should be back on schedule once school starts!

Go eat a pickle and have a great week!

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! 

Fresh air, sunshine and SLEEP

Hi Everyone, 

I hope you are well and life is treating you good going into our 7th month of 2018! Last week I enjoyed several days visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandpups. Other than an accident the pups got into that resulted in a tooth extraction this week for one of them, it was a relaxing visit and a nice break for me from full time parenting and feeding lots of hungry people and animals. 

Spring is my favorite season, but I think Summer is the best time of year for my body and soul. Yes, there is the heat and humidity, but I handle it much better than the cold plus I don’t spend the hottest part of the day outside anymore. I did that back in my much younger days working in fields for the farmers where I grew up. Now I start my day somewhere around 6:30 – 7:00 am outside feeding who ever D. didn’t get fed before he went to work, then the next hour is spent taking care of garden or yard. 

Everything is quiet and peaceful (as long as you appreciate the sounds of chickens, donkey and bees). I get a daily dose of nature. This week I have seen the tiniest praying mantis and watched my bees working away at the garden blooms. I had a long discussion with our new hens about improving their egg production. Our yard takes days to weed eat so I have had the satisfaction of weed whacking and getting a few long delayed projects done. I get a full dose of vitamin D and all that dripping sweat has to be removing toxins. The fresh air and exercise has brought back SLEEP! After months of stress induced insomnia, I am actually getting 7-8 hours of solid sleep again. I cannot tell you how awesome that feels! 


The rest of my day is work, parenting, cleaning and a return to being a taxi driver to family members. You know, that stuff that either never has an end or the end is far in the future.  My first hour of the day feels like there are some accomplishments anyway. 

Most of the time in this summer the last hour or so of daylight is pretty good too. D. and I go spend some quality time with Spark Plug the donkey. He has three more weeks of confinement until he can join the horses in the pasture. He’s very bored and we feel sorry for him.  D. also gets the trainee horse out for his evening lessons and normally Sweetie Pie the cat joins me in a chair on the front yard and we watch the progress. After his lesson, Walker, the trainee gets a reward of fresh grass (and cuts down on some of the yard mowing) while we hang out with him and wait for the chickens to go into their coop. Yeah, it sounds pretty boring to a lot of folks, but I have lived the rat race and do not miss it.  


I still don’t get as much painting and drawing time as I hoped to have by now, but it’s more than I’ve had since I was a teenager. Tuesday I pretty much finished one fairly large painting. My first ocean scene. Sometimes things show up that I haven’t planned and this is one of them. 


This has been a major taxi week and will be today and tomorrow as well.  This evening I’m picking my son up at the airport from his westward adventure. If climbing a 12,000 foot mountain is your idea of fun then I think he had a great trip. 

Next week Miss L. is gone on her last (as far as I know) week away and I plan to finish painting our kitchen (which has been partially primed for months now). This is my BIG project for this year so forgive me if I don’t post anything next week. 

Get out of the house this week, watch some bugs, pick some flowers and if you have the chance, hug a donkey. It’s good for you…avoid the backside of the donkey though. 

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.

Death, taxes and CHANGE

Hi Everyone,

Yes, it happened again. My post day got away from me last week. I did start it, but before I could finish the day was gone and we were well into a busy weekend.

We are slowly settling into new routines all around.  Mine seems to be the biggest struggle right now because of the overwhelming amount of paperwork and appointments I have to make in the process of settling J’s estate and getting Miss L’s benefits and other life stuff in place. Yesterday was an entire day of driving to different meetings only to arrive home late in the evening feeling like I only made two tiny drops of progress in a ocean of red tape.  

Danny and Miss L have worked out a complex schedule for who gets to sit in the King Chair (the recliner with the best view…outside to watch horses for Danny, the TV for Miss L) what day. I just stay out of that whole thing. They seem to enjoy the debate process!

The food buying and meal planning is also under adjustment. Our health nut food ways are not completely pleasing Miss L. She has the family genetics for an amazing metabolism and she does not waver on her likes and dislikes. I am compromising on allowing some junk food and she is attempting to try new food. I will admit that I have missed Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese. 

Sweetie Pie, the cat, had been stuck in confinement while awaiting her spaying surgery. Unfortunately that was not sitting very well with her and she jumped at the chance for escape while Miss L and Danny were cleaning her crate. The surgery appointment got cancelled and we are hoping that the now invisible Sweetie Pie does not appear in the future with a crate load of kittens. 

Princess Dinah, the dog, it adjusting very well and we are slowing introducing her to my pups. She will be getting her surgery next month and if the budget allows, a professional haircut. Her Princess title isn’t matching her wild child look at the moment. 


The chickens have had to give up the free range life as the Thing In The Thicket has increased its chicken consumption. We lost two of our little girls in the past two weeks. There will be an upgraded chicken coop in the Fall. 

Our oldest horse, Christy, carried her last rider this week when she gave Miss L her first riding lesson. Christy’s hip is causing her lots of pain so Danny decided to let her enjoy a rider free retirement. Now Bob is in major training to take over Christy’s job. 

I believe the quote about death and taxes needs to be changed to, “the only thing you can count on in life is death, taxes and CHANGE.”  Lots of change sometime. None of it bad here, just different and all of the elements of the quote are in play with our changes. A death brought about the changes and those darn taxes will be paid at the end of all the paperwork!

I have gotten a good start on a commission piece and hope to show at least some of it next week if not the finished piece.

Embrace the changes this week!

Back Story – Just Bob

Hi Everyone!

Hope you had a great week.  I think last week’s post did not get published. Must have been a tech issue because I wrote it and hit the publish button. My apologies. Guess you will be seeing that next week.

We finally got all the garden planted and can now relax a little until the veggies start coming in.  We also added new members to the farm this past week.  Here are the new little future egg layers.  Danny didn’t think 2-3 eggs a day was enough for us.  We do eat plenty of eggs, but most days we are fine.  On heavy cooking days or when the kids come home to visit, well, we almost have to make a grocery store run for eggs.  The new girls are supposed to be heavy layers, so now we will probably be selling eggs when production sets in.


Last week I showed you a couple of paintings I had finished.  I thought I would give you Bob’s back story today.  I have mentioned him often on this blog because he is Mr. Personality and Mr. Mischief combined.

My husband, Danny, has worked with, trained, owned horses most of his life.  Several years ago there was an elderly neighbor that had reached the point where he was struggling to take care of his horses and asked Danny if he would come help him.  Of course Danny said yes.

When Danny got there he was helping feed and clean up the barn.  I don’t have a clear visual of exactly where Danny found Bob, but somewhere on the property this small yearling had gotten into a place that the elderly gentleman could not reach and was literally down to skin and bones when Danny discovered him.  Realizing that the horse needed immediate attention and not wanting to hurt the gentleman’s dignity, Danny asked if it would be ok to take Bob back to his farm and look after him there and the gentleman could come get him or visit him any time he wanted.  The elderly man told Danny that the horse had been purchased by his wife, who had passed, because Bob was from very good western quarter horse bloodlines. Of course the gentleman never asked for Bob back and passed away a couple of years later.

Danny has been trying to get Bob trained now for at least five years, but life keeps getting in the way.  We are pretty sure that if he ever gets trained he will be an awesome trail horse.  Obviously by this painting, Bob is no longer underweight.  He is a big guy with a big personality and too smart for his own good. Full of curiosity, Bob has become a Houdini horse and somehow gets his big butt out of the fence without breaking it (though he has a history of running through them) and we usually can’t find where he escaped from.

Bob will carry off your tools when you are working in the barn or pasture.  He has chewed paint off the side of my stepson’s truck.  He figured out how to open the pasture gate and let the other horses loose twice in 24 hours before we realized how they were getting out.  Then we wired the gate shut and Bob stood there and loosened the bolts on the other side of the gate with his lips!!  He has knocked the lid off my beehive in his attempt to see what was inside and froze my bees.  Lately, he has found joy in taking his big head and bulldozing through the chickens to watch them run.  I swear you can see him grin when he does it!

Did I mention he is my favorite of the horses here?  Don’t tell the others please.  Yes, he is a royal pain in the rear and I have called him several other names besides “Bob”, but he always has that big ‘ole head stuck out wanting a scratch or rub.  He is the one that always comes up to you as you walk in the pasture and will often walk with you to see where you are going.  As Danny says, ” there isn’t a mean bone in that horse’s body.”

Bob makes me laugh and he makes me cuss, but on the couple of days that I struggled this past year in adjusting to my new life in the country, it was Bob that provided some horse therapy and let me lean on his big side, hug his neck and nibbled on my hand and did that mysterious thing that horses do when they somehow make things better by just being, Just Bob.  And that my friends, is the title of this painting of my friend Bob. Just Bob.

Ok, now I have gotten all choked up.  There will be more paintings of Bob because he likes to model and he needs a job.

Have a great week!

 

All photographs and artwork property and copyright of Christel Huttar.