Spark Plug, Stings and Shows

Hi Everyone!

Check it out, I’m on time this week. It has been quite a while since I made my normal schedule. This week has been calmer. Not without it’s crazy, but less crazy.

Along with my normal activities I have been helping DN get ready for a trip next week. That has involved some shopping and getting her a travel Covid test. Now we are to the packing up part. We also still have a donkey with a leg wound that requires DH and me to give him an antibiotic shot every evening. I cannot begin to tell you how much I look forward to that. NOT. Spark Plug the donkey is not happy about the shot or that he is having to stay in the barn 24/7 right now. Donkeys have long memories and ours holds a grudge.

I accidently found a yellow jacket nest with my wheel barrow. I escaped without a sting, but DH and one of the horses got stung. DH had a bad reaction almost immediately. No breathing problems but immediate hives. I gave him Benadryl for the hives and he kinda over reacts to Benadryl too. He slept through the majority of the day. In my opinion a yellow jacket is devil spawn. They are just evil. Luckily DH and the horse only got one sting each. Usually the whole hive will hunt you down. We took care to eradicate those devils last night.

Monday was riding lesson day for DN and me. Remember last week did not go so good for me? Much better lesson this week even though it was still almost 90 degrees. I did not over heat and almost pass out this time. My body and brain began to put back in practice all the little things you are supposed to do on the back of a horse. It’s been about 18 months since I last did any riding. The stable we last took lessons at was primarily English style riding. We are now at a stable that teaches Western riding. Much bouncier. Trust me, my body needs to speed up the muscle memory. Moving the next day is kinda slow. Of course the teenager is just fine the next day. ( Insert eye roll here)

Creak No More – colored pencil Copyright Christel Huttar 2019

Last week I mentioned that I had entered an art show and I was notified on Tuesday that my piece “Creak No More” was accepted. Woo hoo!! The show starts on July 1st. We have made some more progress on my studio. I now have one installed light fixture. This coming week I hope to finish painting that end of the attic and set up my easel. I will have light to work by! Talk about testing my patience. Where is my darn Fairy Godmother when I need her to wave her wand and get this done? Worthless. Absolutely worthless.

Have a great week. I should be doing a post next week, but it will be a semi-vacation week for me and DH. If I go missing it’s because we are either out having some much needed fun or I’m tackling a big project without teenager interruption.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

And winter returned!

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I’m late this week. I’m going to blame it on the weather. What the heck? Another late season frost similar to last year. I spent time covering up little plants, bringing potted plants inside and cutting flowers to enjoy as long as possible. I’m glad I hadn’t gotten around to packing up the hats and gloves yet. They were needed on the past few late night / early morning walks with the dog. Like 2:30 am or 4:00 am walks. I think his seizure meds are messing things up. Thanks to these walks I have also been groggy and slower than usual.

I had to bring them ALL in!

I forgot to mention that I have new bees too. My brother-in-law very kindly gave me one of the splits he made from one of his hives and also a nuc he made from a swarm I believe. I don’t have the second one here yet, but am going tomorrow to meet the queen. She will probably be moving here in about a week. So I may have spent more than the usual amount of time watching the new girls and keeping them fed with sugar water. I don’t know how things are at your house, but here, 75% of my time is spent feeding things…humans, creatures and plants. There should be a tax write off somewhere in there.

A note to our neighbors…our lawn mower is being repaired. It’s going to take 3-4 weeks to get it back. Yes, the yard will be bad. Don’t panic if you see horses loose in the yard. They might as well earn their keep and mow some grass.

Today has been rainy and cold. Perfect attic construction weather. I spent several hours painting the walls that are up and DH is still up there putting up more drywall. There are some seriously wonky corners, dips and angles. Not easy on 50+ year old backs and shoulders. Some things will have to wait until lumber prices come down. We were going to frame out the window, but one small board to make the window sill was going to be $14! It can wait. DH estimates 2 more months of work. That would be about my birthday. I would be quite happy to have a finished studio for my birthday.

Slowly but surely.

Yesterday morning I helped with a yard sale and by the time I got home the allergies were full on. I got what had to be done taken care of then decided to take some time to do a little painting while my head recovered. It has been about 3 weeks since I have worked in any drawing or painting. It may not help my allergies, but it sure helps my mental health. I am hoping this coming week to clean up the corner of the attic that is 95% done and maybe move a table and easel in where I can start working. Fingers crossed. Next weekend we have one of the grandkids so I know we will not get much accomplished while she’s here.

This week’s sketch.

Have a great week. I hope your weather is warm. Some of you have storms heading your way I think. Be safe out there and I hope to be back on Thursday.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Learning curve

Hi Everyone!

How has your week been going? Things here have been slightly less hectic than last week. Today has been my taxi day. DN had to get her new glasses, braces wire fixed, and dentist visit. In the middle of those I had to pick up some tax info and get the dog’s meds. All this before NOON!

Tuesday school started back up and I had the house to myself again. I celebrated by going out and sketching a while around the farm. I wanted to sketch the horses since they are always one of the most difficult things for me to draw, but none of them would cooperate. So I drew old buildings and hay bales.

Yesterday my plan was to finish a project that I have been struggling with for a few weeks now. It is requiring me to learn new software. We all know how much fun that is. So, I go to open the file I need to finalize and…it’s 95% gone. Yep, hours of work just gone. I have no idea how or why. Bad words were said. This has been one of those projects that could turn out to be a good source of income or it might be a bust. I won’t know until I try, but I will try again next week when I can recover from the high aggravation factor.

Last week I mentioned that I was up to some creative endeavors with a couple of coffee bean bags. So, what exactly did I do with those coffee bean bags?? I made kitchen curtains. I don’t know about you, but when I move into a house (and I have moved into alot of houses) I need to live with a place for a while to get ideas of how I want it to look. Our kitchen has been a struggle. It has one wall of the original 1955 wood paneling that DH dearly loves and immediately let me know that no paint brush will touch it. It has 1990’s oak cabinetry that once again, you-know-who doesn’t want to paint and quite frankly it would be pricey to have someone paint. I have painted cabinets before. That was enough for one lifetime. There are light blue laminate countertops that are not in great shape and mismatched appliances.

Now my decorating style is eclectic primarily because I like very old stuff and I like very modern stuff so it becomes a mismash. Granted, I like the lovely current farm house decor, but let’s be real, real farmer types cannot have wall to wall WHITE. That becomes red Carolina clay color in a split second. We wear boots that daily tromp through dirt, grass and manure. The previous owners put gray tile in the kitchen and while it is very practical, I don’t really like it. To be real again, I will live with it. Not gonna be tearing up perfectly good tile that will outlast me.

Back to the coffee bean bags. My moment of inspiration about curtains gave me a direction to take the kitchen. They are rustic, but not sweet rufflely country. I already have plans to paint the countertops black to tie in with the stainless and black stove (the white dishwasher and fridge will be replaced eventually). DH and I found a sweet deal on two cool bar stools at the ReStore that are wood and black metal. All that ties in the black and the wood. The other kitchen chairs from the ReStore are going to get painted white to lighten up all that dark wood and go with the walls and windows. The rest of the decor is vintage. I lean heavily to the 1930’s and 40’s. Luckily we happen to have some nice pieces from DH’s family that have found a home in the kitchen. I would love to replace the cabinet and drawer pulls, but there are tons of them. I would bankrupt us just with pulls if I got all new. For the time being I will probably get creative with the brass (gotta love those 80’s and 90’s brass things) and black paint and replace a little at a time. Whew!

That’s about it for the creative stuff here. I did get back on a horse yesterday for the first time in over a year. Back when I was taking my grief break, DN and I started taking horse back riding lessons because uncles/husbands shouldn’t try to teach family members, especially a couple of mouthy females. I was loving it, but then a kidney stone happened, followed by Covid. We stopped the lessons. Next month DN will have wrapped up soccer and band and we plan to get back to the lessons. I can’t wait. Even though I had DH lead the horse (horse is still in training) instead of me taking the reins, it was good. I remembered my posture and my weight shifts, etc. The horse, Cinder, is a big, lanky Tennesse Walker. I swear it’s like riding an elephant he is so tall. We won’t even discuss the graceful (NOT) assent and desent I made on said horse. No cameras allowed!

So, I guess whether it’s software or horses, there is a learning curve and everything rarely goes smoothly. I will ungracefully get back on a horse and ungracefully repair my computer file, but will learn new things in the process.

Have a awesome week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Royal drama

Hi Everyone!

How has your week been? Hopefully it has not been as challenging as mine has been. I’m a day late and a dollar short thanks to the crazy. There will not be a drawing lesson this week either. I will do my best for next week.

People who live fairly urban / suburban lives probably think not much happens out in the country. Let me assure you that it may be a different kind of drama and excitement, but it is drama and excitement just the same. There has been some Royal Drama in the news lately and someone asked if I watched the interview. Nope. Don’t really care. I have my own form of royal drama around here to deal with.

Tuesday night – dog wakes me up around 1 am needing to go out. This is very unusual. Odie has a very set schedule that does not include going out after 9 pm. He is also known for his 17 hour bladder. Seriously, he has gone 17 hours without peeing. His choice, not ours. There might have been cold rain involved. Anyway, lets just say that he had an upset tummy. And he had an upset tummy at 2:30 am. Then again at 3:45 am. Wednesday was just a joy to get through. For some reason he didn’t have all the tummy issues during the day.

Wednesday night – dog wakes me up around 1 am needing to go out. Repeat above pattern. I am feeding him rice and pumpkin for his intestinal problems and he doesn’t seem to feel bad. On the other hand, I am barely functioning.

Thursday is difficult, but Odie seems to be better. Mid-afternoon I drag myself outside to do some work in my garden. I hear banging and rattling coming from the barn. No one should be in the barn. I peek in the crack between the doors and see two horses helping themselves to food in the feed room. One, the door on the other side of the barn was closed earlier. Two, it is a bad, bad thing for horses to feed themselves. Three, the feed room is supposed to always stay closed and latched.

It seems that the “too smart for their own good” horses have learned how to bang their heads against the back door and jar the brace loose to pop the door open. Normally this would not be a huge issue, but the feed room was accidently left open. Horses, for all their big, burly size, seem to be somewhat delicate in my opinion. Like, if they eat too much grain or rich grass they can Founder (Founder (laminitis) in horses is a serious condition of the foot caused by the pedal bone rotating and pointing towards the horse’s sole. It is also one of the most common reasons for disability and lameness in ponies and horses. This is extremely painful and in some cases it may be necessary to euthanize.) or Colic ( “colic” means “abdominal pain,” which can have a variety of causes and treatments. Colic also varies greatly in severity. A horse may have a mild bout of abdominal pain that is resolved with a single dose of medication. Other times, colic may necessitate surgery, or unfortunately, euthanasia. All instances of colic in horses should be treated as a potential emergency.). No matter how hard we try, we have lots of horse drama around here because we have smart horses.

As I am running the two horses out of the feed room and the third one who is trying to get into the feed room, out of the barn, I see the two remaining equine. Christy, our oldest horse and Spark Plug the donkey. Somehow they have managed to get themselves locked into one of the stalls together. I try hard not to impose human emotions onto the animals, but I kid you not, the expressions on their faces said “IT WASN’T US. WE WERE STUCK IN HERE THE WHOLE TIME!” I had to stop and laugh.

Woven in amongst all the above crazy, I had honeybee drama all week. After last week’s post where I said the girls were ok, I began to get the distinct feeling that they weren’t. I kept seeing less and less forager bees. By Wednesday I had decided the Queen was dead and most of my hive as well. I had my usual cry over dead bees. Then I called a beekeeper to order a new nucleus of bees even though every time I say I am hanging up my veil when I lose a hive. I’m sitting out there with the hive, watching a few bees come and go, trying to decide what to do about the few remaining bees that I’m sure are still in there. Then I see something odd. A small clump of bees on the front. I look closer and I see what looks like a Queen bee. What the??? Then it dawns on me that the girls had probably sensed the old queen failing or dead and made a new queen and she was outside to go on her mating flight. Well, dang.

Today, I decided to break down the hive and see what was going on in there. Honestly, I was expecting just to see a lot of dead bees and nothing else. I really didn’t think that young queen would come back or make it back to a dead hive. I open up the hive and see a small cluster of bees. Probably no more than 50. These were the ones I was wondering what to do with if they were still alive. Then I see THE QUEEN! She was back.

From here I am going to do the quick version of several hours of work. Run get small hive box called a nuc that holds 5 frames of bees and beeswax foundation to concentrate food and warmth for THE QUEEN. Put queen and attendants in nuc, move old hive out of way and plop down the nuc in its place so forager bees know where to find home. Run around putting old frames of honey far from the nuc so robber bees won’t come hunting it and kill new queen (nature is harsh). Text my brother-in-law to see if he can spare a frame or two of bee larve (brood) to have new nurse bees to attend queen when she starts laying. Put sugar water at nuc for quick food. Look over at side of nuc and see a new clump of bees on the outside. THE DANG QUEEN HAS COME OUT OF THE BOX AGAIN. Put post on beekeepers site on Facebook to find out what to do. Told to leave her alone and attendants will walk her back in the box. They did. BIL brings me two frames of brood that I put into nuc. Run around cleaning up my mess in case it rains and look back at nuc. THE DANG QUEEN HAS COME OUT OF THE BOX AGAIN. At this point I’m done. She is on her own. I have stressed and slaved over the girl long enough. But I really, really, really, hope she is mated, gets back in the hive and is as good a Queen as her mother and grandmother were. Maybe not as cranky as her Grandmother. She had serious attitude.

The video is of the second time I found the queen outside with her attendants. She’s under the pile. Now I just wait and watch and hope this has a good ending. I hope I have not bored you with farm life drama. It’s what we love even though we need our heads examined to keep up with all these critters.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Crown Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Video by yours truly

Impatience

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you and yours this week. Anyone else sick of winter yet? Here in North Carolina we had one of those Spring teaser days this week. I spent the entire day outside working on projects. It was a glorious 60 degrees with sunshine and too good to waste inside. No regrets for thowing all my indoor projects aside. We are back to grey and gloomy with impending rain now. Typical February weather for us and extremely depressing.

Today I started on the fox painting above. In case any of you wonder how and why I pick my subjects, they are almost completely random right now. I have many personal photos that sometimes become paintings, but in the case of the fox, I used a website called Paint My Photo. Photographers upload their photographs and give permission for artists to use them as reference material. I have several files of images that I like saved and when I need a subject I just go and look through them until one them says, “paint me, paint me!”

Eventually I plan on doing more series and maybe have some deeper thoughts added in, but for now, under my current situation, I just paint random things that make my heart sing a little. I am drawn to the non-human creatures. You get direct and honest feedback from animals as long as you learn their language. Laid back ears on a horse, a donkey or a llama is a warning that they are not happy. A certain twitch of a tail will tell you the same thing about a cat.

I will digress a moment and tell you a quick story. Our horse Cinder is an absolute sweetie and everyone who meets him loves him, BUT he quickly gets bored and finds mischief. Day before yesterday I watched him pester our horse, Asher. Asher is the Alpha here and was trying to nap, but Cinder wouldn’t let him. Everytime Asher dosed off, Cinder poked him with his nose or nipped at him. Asher finally got fed up and chased him off. I thought that was the end of it.

Yesterday morning I was walking the dog before dawn and noticed Cinder standing in the pasture alone while the other equine were in a group by the barn. I told DH that it looked like Cinder had been excommunicated. He said, “funny you should mention that, something happened between Asher and Cinder last night after feeding.” He went on to explain that when he let them out of their stalls after their supper there was no usual calm strolling out of the barn. Instead Asher immediately threw his head (dominate posturing) and chased Cinder out of the barn, nipping at his rear.

It seems that Cinder’s antics had gotten on everyone’s last nerve and he was temporarily kicked out of the heard for a day. I was in the barn last night for feeding and Cinder wouldn’t even come into the barn. He’s usually the first one in. It took some persuading on DH’s part to herd Cinder into his stall and those big, brown eyes were very sad and confused. Things seem to be better today. Like I said, animals keep it honest and direct. Cinder will probably behave better now…for a while anyway.

Now back to the fox. I’m painting this fox today and I kept getting a glare from the overhead light on my reference photo. Then I couldn’t get my canvas to stay still. Did I mention that I’m now painting on our guest bed? Only slightly better than trying to paint on my lap in the living room. I can only use acrylics right now because I have no where to let paintings dry if I use oils. I have a love/hate relationship with acrylics and after using oils this summer I am finding the fast drying time of acrylics very irritating. All those feathers and fur I’ve been painting lately would probably be easier with oils.

Attic studio in progress

I am SO ready to get to work in my attic. I daydream of having my easel set up ALL THE TIME. Lighting that I can control. Tables I can leave my mess on and not have to clean up to eat dinner or have a guest over. Supplies that I know where they are and not have to hunt through a dozen mystery boxes.

“When will your attic be done?” you ask. I have no idea. This is where we are right now. I started priming the drywall last week, but I haven’t quite finished and I can’t set up my easel until that overhead piece goes in, then the lighting. It’s a little bit of torture having to work one bit at a time. No, it’s a lot of torture. I have the vision, but we are no where near it yet. Sigh.

I am not going to stop doing what I’m doing. It’s taken me a lifetime to squeeze out the small amount of time I have right now to do this. I ain’t gettin’ any younger here! I will admit though that this is the most impatient I have been over something, maybe ever. You might want to say a prayer or two for DH. He has to live with me.

Have a great week!

Christel

Wintering

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I missed last week.  No super excuse other than I was still digging out of boxes and we were getting ready for a cold spell.  New Readers, my long time readers will tell you that this is my whining season. I am not cold tolerant. You have been warned.

I did spend Halloween with my favorite grandson.  It was a quick (if you consider 4.5 hours quick) drive down, spent the night and back on the road the next day.  We have an annual family get together and of course it was that Saturday. Anyway, my daughter’s neighborhood goes all out for Halloween and we had a great time teaching Buzz how to score some candy.  He figured it out in the end, but got Goldfish crackers instead of candy. He’s a work in progress.

Our family chicken stew (for more info on that very local pot of glory go back into the October archives) was fun and relaxing thanks to one very beautiful Fall day.  Perfect for eating outside and catching up by the fire pit. It was nice to have the new place come with a ready made fire pit!

This week has been COLD, COLD, COLD by Southern standards. Lows in the 20’s don’t normally hit us until January and February.  So D. and I had to spend last week getting the four leggers situated for the cold.  We also got our FOUR chimney flues inspected and luckily one was clean enough to start using.  The rest are getting cleaned this coming week.  We are wood burning folk. No gas logs for us. Thus chimneys must be cleaned every few years.

We also found out that our frost free outdoor faucet is NOT frost free. The dang thing froze up.  Hauling water from the bathtub all the way to the barn in a five gallon bucket is not my idea of winter fun on a 20 degree morning. Then there is the fun of waiting for the water hose to thaw so you can fill the water trough or breaking the ice on the water trough. Yes, I’m officially winter whining.  Eventually there will be a water line to the barn, but it’s a toss up on whether that happens first or the automatic gate opener.  Getting in and out of the car in the cold and rain is not fun either. Whine #2.

The good news is that most of the boxes are out of the dining room…again…for the third time.  Yes, it has been filled three times and three times I have opened and sorted all those boxes.  Some just went upstairs (more on that to come). Now I just have to tackle the ones in the sunroom and pack house.  Lordy.

More good new…I FOUND MY ART SUPPLIES!!.  They have been packed up since January I think. I made a makeshift studio in the newly cleaned out dining room. Here is a photo of the future official studio.  Ain’t it purty!?  Ok, so not yet.  Imagine white bead board walls and built in shelves. That’s where we are heading…after the horses have stalls built in the barn.  Yes, I rank below the horses.  I can’t say much because the pups got this cushy new bed while our bed springs and mattress are on the floor until I get our room remodeled and buy a new bed. The last one broke in the first move of the year.

That’s the news from Lake Wobegone. Oh, wait. Wrong place, but almost as cold. Have a great week and stay warm!

A simple escape

Hi Everyone,

How was your week? I have been running behind this week because I escaped last weekend further into the mountains with my two best friends from college. The three of us have over 30 years of history together and do our best to reconnect in person once a year. This year we found ourselves (thanks to the research of the planner member of our threesome) staying in a super cool converted cider house on an apple orchard in Virginia. A few years ago we discussed how we would like to start taking classes when we were away on these trips. Once again our Planner came through and booked us in a class held right on the orchard, walking distance from our Cider House abode. We learned how to graft apple trees. 


D. and I purchased several heirloom apple trees a few years ago, but before we could get a proper fence around them, the ever present and ever hungry deer ate them down to the ground. So much for that investment! Needless to say, I was tickled to take this class for a whopping $12 that included three trees to take home. Since my planner friend (a former science teacher) just wanted the experience and not the trees, I happily paid for her class and got her trees as well. So six different varieties of apple trees currently reside in one of our closets for a couple more weeks (as instructed) then will spend the summer SURROUNDED BY FENCING outside until we plant them this Fall on the new farm site. 

The rest of our weekend was spent catching up on life and eating quantities of junk food that we generally avoid the rest of the year. 

Back to reality this week has included more cleaning out and home repairs and animal maintenance. D. and I are trying to get back into Spring/Summer fitness. The extended daylight hours and warmer temps include many more hours of work. I have been trying to get my bees ready for splitting the colony (hopefully to prevent them swarming) and honey flow. D. has been cleaning up horses and checking their feet. All the mud this winter has been tough on them. Anyway, we are eating better and trying to be more consistent with the vitamins. 


I just finished this painting of my favorite flower. I love the simplicity and determination of the Daisy. Every summer our pasture is covered in them in spite of being regularly trampled by equine and often brightly bloom through drought conditions. Tough, beautiful, cheerful. What’s not to love about them? 


A quick update on my monthly decluttering challenge. I am still running a little behind, but not too far. If I were to count everything that D. has cleaned out of the two barns I would probably be way ahead. Drum roll please. 1,163 items removed from house or storage! There is much more to go but our largest walk in closet can now be walked into instead of burrowed into. All family members have pitched in, if not happily, at least willingly. Today I drag out the summer clothes and we start paring down the winter wardrobes. The majority of the decluttering has been donated, but there has been a good amount that had to go into the trash. Why do broken things stay stuck in corners of cabinets or closets? 

That’s it for this week folks. I have summer clothes to pull out and I promised the chickens a clean coop today. Have a productive week and catch up with some friends! 

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!

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!

Thankful 

Hi Everyone!

I hope my U.S. readers had a wonderful Thankgiving and that the rest of you had a lovely week. Our Thanksgiving was nice though a few were missing from the table. My uncle who normally joins us, is not in great health and did not come this year. His always funny stories were missed as well as the brother banter between him and my Dad as they compare and argue over childhood misadventures. 

We had much to be thankful for this year. My daughter and son-in-law were with his family for Thanksgiving and though they were missed we are very thankful that the miscombobulated mess with my SIL’s job got sorted out and they were able to finally close on their house right before the holiday and host his family for Thanksgiving in their new home without a cloud of worry hanging over them. 

My son got home for a brief visit and is doing well. I will report later if he will be home for Christmas or off on another travel adventure. 

On Wednesday we welcomed our former trainee, Walker, back to our herd. His owners decided that their daughter had lost interest in riding. When we took him back to them in August after training we told them we would take him back should they decide to get rid of him. Let’s just say that when he came to us last Spring he was not in good condition and we were concerned to be taking him back to them. When he left us he was at full body weight. Though not as bad this time, he will be getting some extra food to cover those ribs and hip bones again.

When Miss L. came to live with us we asked her if she would be interested in riding and eventually having a horse of her own. Of course she said yes, but having a horse comes with much work and responsibility. So she has had daily barn chores for the horses for over a year now. She has learned them and done the work without too much grumbling (I have yet to meet a middle schooler that doesn’t have some complaints) so we have now given her Walker (who has been renamed Cinder) as her own horse. Of course the responsibility level went up as she will now be in charge of cleaning his stall (D. has been taking care of stall cleaning for all the horses) and Cinder comes with a full flowing mane and tail that will require as much upkeep as her own long hair. 

Cinder is a Tennessee Walker (thus the so-lacking-in-creativity former name) with a super gentle and friendly personality. We think he will be a good fit for her and since D. trained him we know the areas where he needs extra work as she becomes more proficient in her riding skills. I’m just happy to know he is going to be taken care of now. I fell hard for his sweet nature and couldn’t stand the thought of him alone in that pasture without his friends or proper food. 


We had to take Sweetie Pie the cat to the vet yesterday. The vet thinks she just has a virus so she is confined to her crate (which seriously cuts into her gypsy lifestyle) with meds for the next week. With it as cold and nasty as it is, she is not complaining too loudly about her time in the barn with a big warm blanket. We are thankful she doesn’t seem to have anything worse than a cold. We have gotten pretty attached to her as well. 

It’s a cold, rainy/icy day here today, but the wood stove is going and there will be Christmas decorating happening to add some cheer to this super gloomy day. I hope you all have a great week. Stay warm and safe.