Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A few things...

There is a lot to say, and I've been thinking about just how to say it several different times and in several different posts. Everything I planned to write has a corresponding picture. All of which reside in the computer that went on the Man Week 2009 vacation. So it's just me, the pictures in my head, and three suburban dogs sleeping at my feet. I will do my best.

Eye on the Prize
First of all, Jeremy stumbled upon an author/blog writer/homesteader who completely re-newed my goals for the land. Also - her name is Jenna so the chances were good I would like her. Cold Antler Farm chronicles the daily life and adventures of a woman living her homesteading dreams on a small rented farm in Vermont. She is doing the whole sheep/chicken/goose/rabbit/gardening/fence repair/clearing thing - by herself. Oh yea, and she has a full time desk job, too. For anyone with even a small flicker of interest in growing a plant, baking a loaf from scratch, or keeping an animal that actually earns its keep then she is more than worth the read. Jenna is able to absolutely articulate whatever it is that draws people like us to land, to animals, to dirty work. Not only has reading her blog renewed my own goal to turn the property into something more tangible than just dreamy conversation, but she literally turned a light on and made me realize that this doesn't have to be an either/or situation. We can both generate something from land and continue to work. Now, it was always a foregone conclusion we would do both since the land is not necessarily feasible without those pesky desk jobs. However, the idea of attempting to merge these two very different lives seemed overwhelming. Impossible. Thanks to Cold Antler Farm I have a little daily inspiration that helps me envision us out there. I could go on about what her stories have meant to me but I will not because it doesn't really matter what it means to me personally. Her story is pretty damn inspirational in the general sense that she knew what she wanted and she shaped her life around that goal. Is this paragraph exceedingly corny? Perhaps. But its important to remember every now and then that there is actually a reason why we chose to ignore all sense and reason and got the land in the first place. That goal gets lost in the daily shuffle of traffic and laundry - so you have to tease it out of the background fabric and keep it at the forefront. Always. Every day. It's the only way I know how to get this moving along...

Cross Country Crazy
Speaking of - I have been busy making plans for the house, finding deals, striking bargains and driving to strange places to retrieve the loot. And here's your "for example:" I spent yesterday driving from central Texas to north Texas, then back to central Texas. For a bathtub. (In this state central to north or actually anywhere to anywhere else is...far) This was a justified trip since I managed to attend a work conference in Dallas between all the driving. Of course, this meant I had to haul my loot (tub) to the conference. On a trailer. In a suit and heels. Does a professional looking woman pulling a claw foot tub cause a scene, especially when said woman is unable to reverse with said trailer (and tub) in front of the conference building (picture the worst parallel parking attempt ever but 10 times worse. And with a trailer)? Oh yes, oh hell yes. Turns out I can make quite the spectacle of myself in front of co-workers and colleagues without even breaking a sweat. To my gawking audience I asked whether they'd never seen an old tub before, adjusted my skirt and sauntered into the conference center. Is an 8 hour round trip drive worth it in this case? No, of course, not. But if you're slightly crazy like myself, it's perfectly reasonable. And it's an awfully nice tub.

Man Week: A Rebuttal
You think you're so awesome with your week off and RV and your shmancy mimosas and campfire evenings. With your beautiful sunrises and guitar. Your tractor and bbq. You know who you are. Your pathetic attempts to engender some sort of envy from the rest of us is ridiculous. As IF we would rather be there than here! As if all of those things sound even somewhat appealing! You know, I spent the entire day IN MY OFFICE. And I have a window!! Now who's jealous?

Alright. I got nothing. You win. Man Week is fantastic.

Boo Takes a Walk
Boo the Belligerent Baby Donkey might have turned a corner in terms of maturity. Recently he has has morphed into some odd character - somewhere between donkey and lap dog. We had a significant breakthrough this weekend when, on a whim, I attached the lead rope to his halter and walked, just turned and walked - and he trotted along behind me! And, ok, yes, fine, I did have a large amount of sweet feed in my pockets. But it was obvious he was following for the purpose of my company, not to retrieve my coercive treats. Regardless, we walked, and walked. And walked - out of the gate, down the road and onto the main street that runs in front of the land. We turned and walked back. It was brilliant. Photos to follow.

The Chickens Ruined Dinner
To be specific, they ruined the dinner I planned to eat sometime at the end of November/early December. For the first time, I made a concerted effort towards a prolific fall garden. This required planning, digging, mulching....watering. I really went all out on this one. In the wee interim period between summer and fall gardening (since these seasons smudge together and aren't distinct here) we allowed the chickens into the garden since the chicken blogs and books directed us to do so. "They'll LOVE IT!" they raved. "They will actually turn the garden FOR YOU!!" These chicken gardening cheerleaders gave glowing reviews about the benefit of allowing the beasts into the interim garden but neglected to warn that old habits die hard. Especially for chickens. The first morning the garden gate was officially shut to them, the ladies nervously paced around the perimeter scratching half-heartedly at the inferior grass and dirt outside of the garden fence. Every morning they marched in a line from the coop to the garden and every time they were deterred by the impenetrable gate. And one day they gave up, changed their habits, found a new plot of suitable grass to ruin. Until my garden began to grow. Daily now I find a few chickens inside the garden when I return home. Of the nine girls, only two appear to have the smarts to fly over the fence but it only takes two chickens to totally destroy this girl's hard work. In three days I have lost my broccoli, my brussel sprouts (almost certain Jeremy went in and ruined that himself and blamed it on the chickens. Brussel sprouts make him gag), two heads of lettuce, and the odd sugar snap pea and arugala have lost a leaf or two. These two small soldiers march from one plant to another, scratching at the base and then picking leaf, after leaf. It's lucky they're still laying eggs because they owe me. Big.

He is a lover, not a fighter.
Have I mentioned that we also have a cat? No? It is because I'm not a fan of cats and do not feel it's worth discussing him at any point except for when he disrupts the daily balance of my life. Like today. You see, Simon (cat) got in a fight. Simon lost. For perspective, let me re-phrase: Simon lost another fight. Today we found ourselves at the vet yet again for antibiotics, for a patch job here, a patch job there. He will be just fine, and he wouldn't want it any other way. Simon's entire purpose in life revolves around the activity of marking his territory and then attempting to defend it. He's just not very good at it. Luckily, this loss was less embarrassing than the time he actually backed down from a fight. We know this happened due to the bite mark that was firmly placed on his bottom - an attack as he was fleeing the fight! I believe that, in the cat world, this is the equivalent of a sucker punch. Poor guy.

In closing
It appears that a lot less has happened than I previously thought. We're just trucking along, cutting down the odd tree, feeding the domesticated feathered monsters, just the same old. Same old. But still I can't help feeling like anyone not at all involved in growing some of their own food, sharing a part of their lives with an animal - they're missing out on a little piece of connectivity that important. There's something very basic, humbling, and gratifying about turning a gallon of milk into cheese, putting a seed in the ground and later eating a salad it produced, or just coming home to some little beast that depends on you. Is this just me? I doubt it. We have a cold(ish) winter ahead to start planning spring gardens and backyard chicken coops. It's easier than you think and feels a whole lot more awesome than you might imagine.

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