Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I see that Jeremy mentioned the sparkling new chainsaw I was gifted. Let's be honest: it's the adult version of a Fisher-Price "My First Chainsaw." It makes all the right noises, but it's basically a baby chainsaw with training wheels. Since I have no idea what I'm doing and sport fairly inadequate arm muscles, it's perfect! I'm proud to say that I took out two cedar trees (saplings) and cut an entire trunk (stick) for firewood! Because of My First Chainsaw, my land contributions will be many.
And a word on Boo. Oh holy crap - that was quite an experience. I re-read a post prior to the ordeal in which I nonchalantly stated that I would help as much "as the vet will let me." HA! HA! HA! Aaaaaaahhahaha! Boy oh boy was I being pompous. As it turns out, I have a fairly impressive gag reflex when it comes to the following: scalpels, pain, blood, scalpels, blood, but mostly - testicle removal. Sorry people, I'm just telling it like it is. Jeremy did, in fact, watch the entire ordeal the way one might watch a train wreck. It was riveting enough that he was unable to avert his eyes, however he kept one fist in his mouth the entire time, wincing throughout and periodically exclaiming, "HOLY CRAP!" and "EEEWWEeeeeeoooowwwwwW!" So - he provided some additional drama that wasn't very productive. My favorite part was when he thought the procedure was finished and said, "Ok, it's done, you can look now," at which point I tentatively peeked out from behind a tree in time to see the vet begin work on the second (because, Jeremy, there are TWO) testicle. He quickly apologized for his error and pushed me behind the tree again. That's as many details as I'll give, unless you ask for more details, and then I'm happy to provide them. I generally work through trauma best when I can talk about it. Thank you. And for the record - Boo's now a nicer guy in general. He just seems a little more calm, cool, and collected which in turn makes Chula less of a snot. When he annoys her now, she kicks him - and he doesn't kick her back! Progress.
Finally - it deserves an additional note, because it's really exciting: we did meet with a builder who was recommended by a central Texas artist, Lyn Foley, whose own barndominium was recently built by this man. And boy oh boy does he work fast. He blew onto the land like a small tornado; asking questions and setting up appointments with subcontractors for bids and generally getting our firmly-stuck ball - rolling. We have no contracts signed at this point but finally are learning some solid information about what a build entails. In fact, the electric company came out yesterday for a bid on the cost of installing the appropriate number of poles and wires to our home site. After measuring the distance the poles would span from road to house, the man politely scratched his head, chuckled, and suggested we reconsider our home site. As usual, it appears we've chosen something "unconventional" since most people would position their homestead closer to a gate, to a road, to something already hooked up to the 21st century. We, however, have chosen a spot nestled at the edge of the forest and in the far middle spot on the land. Take that convention and technology!! The irony being, of course, that the meeting with the electric company was set-up entirely with the use of my new iPhone. So we're not exactly going off the grid when we get out there, so what. Besides, I've gotten lost in the woods enough times to appreciate the value of a good GPS system on my phone.
In the end - I doubt we move the house location to accomodate the electric company, or the water company, or anyone else since the bulk of the burden and cost falls on us. And we generally like to take the more complicated route for some reason. Regardless, it was a happy holiday and hopefully the beginning of more than just a new year. A new....home? Happy holidays!
And the "fancy" cup holder with the monogrammed water bottle.
Actually that was a $3 aluminum cup and a $1 magnet dropped in the bottom to hold it to the tractor. I was getting tired of holding my beer between my legs when going for tractor rides. As for the fancy pants water bottle, while a poor substitute for a Lone Star, it fits quite nicely in my cup holder.
What I don't have a picture of is my 500,000 BTU propane torch. I requested a slightly smaller version for burning the thorns off of cactus for the cows to eat, but my overzealous father bought the biggest one he could find. It is awesome! I hooked up my BBQ grill propane tank and proceeded to melt a large stand of cactus. I'll admit, the first time I fired it up and it sounded like I was holding onto a jet engine, I got a little rattled. Once I got over the sound (and the 2 foot flame coming out of the tip) I started to see the potential. Needless to say, I don't have any pics because I had one hand on the torch and one hand on the water hose. I'll fire it up when Jenna's around to document the awesomeness one of these days.
On the house front, we met up with a potential contractor on Sunday. We spent about 3 hours discussing our plans. Rudy (the contractor) met us at the land and we gave him the "grand tour". At which point we jumped into what we want, don't want, etc. After about 1.5 hrs, we moved our discussion to Cafe 290 for some coffee and queso. We both really liked him and how engaged he seemed to be. This impression was strengthened when he called Jenna on Monday 3 different times to discuss various topics regarding the house. He definitely got the ball rolling, so we're meeting with his "dirt guy" on Wednesday to look at the house placement and get an estimate of what the site prep will cost. It's refreshing to work with someone who seems interested and engaged instead of being brushed aside. Overall, it's been a pretty productive week, house-wise.
In summary, it's been a good couple of weeks. Now we have the new year coming up and all that entails...hanging out with old friends, and looking forward to new promises and adventures. Bring it on 2010!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday night, Jenna doesn't sleep because of the anxiety of her baby Boo going under the knife. I simply try to not to think about the life altering event that will transpire. Saturday morning we wake up bright and early to head to the land to sequester and pay our respects to the unsuspecting patient. When we arrive, Jenna lures big bad Boo (soon to be referred to as little sissy Boo) into the round pen until Dr. Crow arrives. Since that took a whole 5 minutes to accomplish, we had 2 hours to kill until the "appointment." So, Jenna brushed our boy to keep him (and herself) calm. The team showed up and grabbed their gear to begin. Jenna and I are nervously laughing and chatting with these strangers, and then they get down to business. Dr. Crow explains that she will give Boo a sedative that will make him woozy. Then she will give him another drug that won't quite knock him out, but will make him want to lay down, at which point she begins cutting. During the administration of the first drug, I have to look away because I don't do needles. According to Dr. Crow donkeys have this ability to "hide" their veins in their neck muscles as a protective mechanism against predators like coyotes. It's a little known fact that I thought was interesting. One bent syringe later, and Boo was wobbling around like Joe after a tubing trip down the Comal river. At this point, she injected the 2nd drug (again, I had to look away). This is when things got really entertaining. I wanted to take pics and/or video but each time I reached for the camera, Jenna shot me a look that suggested I take this seriously, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, Boo is definitely feeling no pain now. There is no way in hell he would have pass a field sobriety test as he was trying to walk but was weaving this way and that. Now Dr. Crow and hubby start to try to push him over together so she can begin her work. It turns out Boo is a fighter and was not going down. It was pretty fun to watch. Boo positioned his 4 legs in about the most perfect angles to provide maximum stability even while he wasn't able to control his drooping head. Dr. Crow even commented on how he was putting up such a fight. She gave him another small dosage, but he still refused to be pushed over. To demonstrate how little control of his extremities he actually had, she stuck her finger in his mouth and flopped his tongue out of the side of his mouth and it just stayed there. She commented that if he doesn't retract his tongue, then he is really out of it. I'll never forget this image of a stubborn (they have this reputation for a reason) Boo stabilized against two adults trying to push him over (Jenna and I are just watching...and I'm trying my best not to laugh) while his head is lolling around and his tongue is sticking out of his mouth. Finally, they get him on his side and he isn't moving at all. This is when I begin editing the events, but let's just say there was some cutting, some pulling, and some blood. 20 minutes later, Dr. Crow is cleaning up and trying to coax a very hung over Boo back onto his feet. We paid Dr. Crow and then spent the next couple of hours watching Boo get more and more steady on his feet. We left him in the round pen that night with his mom, Chula. This morning when we went back out, he seemed as good as one could hope keeping in mind what he just went through. He was walking around, but not as energetic as before. I'm guessing the excruciating pain he was feeling in his crotchal region might have something to do with that, but I'm just speculating. Jenna will continue to check on him every day this week after work, but it looks like things went pretty smoothly. So, we finally took care of one big item on our list of things to do. 1 down, 673 more to go.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Never, ever, never do what I am doing in the photo above unless you have more experience with these creatures. Luckily Jeremy stayed at a safe distance to get a photo in the event that Chula were to punch me in the face with her hoof.
After the harrowing experience of loading the donkeys and bringing them home, I once again demonstrated my amateur status as a livestock handler. See for yourself:
This was exactly one year and one day ago. It's taken that long, but I've made some progress. I've figured a few (just a few) things out about this large animal business. I have almost totally given up on Chula being a pet. Being a donkey is enough. Boo, however, is a completely different story.
This is how Boo started out. Obnoxiously cute.
But then he grew and, as you know, turned into a minor jerk.incessant curiosity (read: pushiness)...
we decided enough is enough. The vet has been contacted, the date and time are set, and on Saturday Boo goes from a Jack to a John, or something like that.
I hope he'll forgive me. The vet will knock him out completely at the land, partially to lessen the trauma but also obviously to make the whole process easier for all parties (Few livestock enjoy the luxury of a general anesthetic for castration. Eeesh.)
And so, on the eve of my birthday, I reflect on whether this past year, these encounters with the animals, and aging in general, has made me a better person....
I don't really think so. But it has taught me a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff.
Thanks to you, Boo, I know more about donkeys. I know more about cows now, too. And coyote "scat," as it's called. And the habits of scorpions. The varieties of fireflies. The unbelievable value of a good bale of hay. The overlooked importance of neighbors. Not that it's exactly on the scale of restoring world peace or resolving social stratification, but I've learned a lot. (Jeremy has too but I'm paying tribute to myself here. And to the baby donkey.)
We've come a long way this year and Saturday will be another adventure. I intend to be as involved as the vet will let me. I expect there will be tears (from Jeremy. He can't stand needles), and disgust, and awe. I didn't realize what we were getting into when we pulled the little trailer onto the land and released the animals one year ago. I still don't. Here's to growing older, realizing what you signed up for, and doing it anyways.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
This means that I'm back to considering some pretty ludicrous options for permanent living arrangements. The imagination is capable of twisting just about anything into an attractive opportunity. I explain these "opportunities" to friends and colleagues who generally smile politely, or cock their heads sideways and squint their eyes - really trying to imagine what I could possibly be thinking. (EX: Telling someone you want to cut a huge old house into four pieces, haul it across the county and patch it back together - but then also conduct an extensive re-model to said house doesn't sound too cost-effective - because it's not). Thank you all for patiently listening, by the way. Just bear with me a little longer.
It's not so simple, you know? This isn't just a question of building or buying a residence on a lot in a neighborhood. The purchase of this land demands that some expansive life questions be answered more prematurely than expected. Do we want to take on a traditional mortgage since it's not just a house we need to pay for - but the land - not to mention the development of many goals we've set in place for the land. Not to mention a kid or two, you never know. And when is the right time to make the move? The wrong time? NOT TO MENTION: there are approximately 150 options - none of which we've completely ruled out.
(Jenna beats head against wall)
We never really discussed all this stuff before getting into the whole rural property business. We were too enamored with the view to consider such things.
And its promixity to the city.
The ridiculous farm creatures.
And the quiet, the space.
In the end, we got the most important decision right. We got the land. This isn't a pressing situation by any means but probably one that's worth some creative thinking. Turns out I'm pretty good at that, and Jeremy's gotten pretty good at being one of my politely smiling audience members.
Ever sit around and wonder where you'll be, this time next year? That's me but maybe 10 times. Each day. I'll probably still be sitting here at my computer browsing Craigslist for a mean deal on a dilapidated farmhouse. No house but still the land. That could be enough.