Baby Steps…and Baby Invasions

So, before I fell super sick, we were working on about 2463 projects, all of which are in various degrees of planning or completion. Although most of the daily “stuff the Mama does” has gone undone in my absence, we have been making some progress on some other things.
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The tractor is once again operational. We’ve upgraded the starter and alternator to a 12 Volt system, and as a result had to put in a new ignition switch as well. Figured if we were going to replace it, we might as well prevent the problem from occurring again. Once my honey got all that done, the first of the produce beds got disced, so we are one step closer to planting!

If the weather would only cooperate a little more, it would be lovely. We had a series of unexpected crazy weather days last week. As in, literally 68 degrees one day and wet slushy snow the very next morning. We lost some plant starts, not enough to make me cry, but enough that it was a loss. One of our favorite local farms, Bennett Orchards, got hit far harder than we did. After a six hour stint of temps in the 20’s, despite smudge pots and helicopters, they lost their ENTIRE 2016 peach crop. We pick and buy bushels of peaches and blueberries from them each year for canning, I’ll miss them a lot this year. Thankfully, so far it looks as if the blueberries came through the freeze.
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And our Flemish Giant Rabbit doe appears to have some surprises in store for us as well. She has taken up fur pulling and nesting, and trying to rip my fingers from my hands when I feed, water and clean in her hutch, so it seems she may have already been bred and kits may be imminent. She’s not typically nasty, the rabbit growling and snarling are kind of scary.

The off-the-farm work boss called us last week to remove a large swing set from one of their rental properties, due to concerns about its age, insurance, and the potential for injury to some vacationer’s child. Since the components of the swing set were pretty well thrashed, we decided to save the frame to build a new chicken coop / tractor. I’m hoping to get a jump on that project this weekend, we’ll see how I feel.
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Ryan’s personal 7-egg incubator that he waited so patiently for has epically failed to hatch anything at all. It will likely be trashed after one more attempt with just a couple of eggs to insure that it’s incubator error and not ours. That was a disappointment, but he took it in stride. Having new babies hatching in the big one softened the blow. The season’s next large incubator hatch is due Sunday.

We’ve been peddling a few chicks from home, it’s been nice to have clients and visitors to the farm again. With me being sick, that extra few dollars here and there has sure been a help, too. Our first two hatching egg sales on Ebay have been completed (with a third preparing to sell in just a few moments)  and Ry’s birds now hopefully have offspring growing in Massachusetts and Oakland, California at a school!

We have some new breeds of chickens / chicks. Some Silkies, Lavender Aracaunas, and Blue Laced Red Wyandotte bantams have arrived! The first four of our Black Copper Marans chicks are doing quite well, too!

In our most exciting and happy news, one of my grown children’s families will be coming on the 7th of next month for an extended stay. The babies are invading! They’ve been toying with the idea of a permanent move up this way for quite some time, and recent events in the neighborhood they live in gave them a few more reasons. Dad’s already secured comparable work locally, and my girl and I are making plans for some much needed support for her, and possibly school. I’m excited to have a partner for the shop, and it looks like her artistic and crafty talents may get a pretty serious workout this year. Additionally, the extra hands around here will be a blessed relief, and I think we will make much more progress than I planned on for this year! Now, to figure out where to put six more bodies in this camp!

Hope everyone is enjoying the change of seasons, hope things are going well for all!

 

 

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Blech.

Blech. That’s the word for the week. After trying hard not to submit to the mystery bug that rolled through the house last week, my system finally said “That will be quite enough, foolish woman. I tried to warn you.  You will take to your bed and rest. Now.” Illness coupled with crummy gray cold wet weather, prepping to send my youngest on a weeklong visit with his father to VA with the usual dread, and the recent rash of mini-disasters didn’t help. Neither did my current financial status which doesn’t enable me to un-fudge said disasters…or the fact that we’re edging into the absolute busiest time of year here.

My egg eaters seemed to have slowed down. I hope I’m winning the war, which now requires at least four treks across the pasture daily to the new chicken casa to snatch eggs from under indignant hens before they get the chance to destroy them. My winter weight gain can certainly benefit from the extra mileage, but it’s no fun when you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.

We’ve temporarily put our new pride and joy out of commission. The tractor has thrown the starter and requires a new one. Technically likely our fault, since the bad battery was 6 volts and we were jumping her with 12. This resulted in some electrical bad juju that resulted in this glorious shearing apart of heavy metal parts. Lesson learned. Expensive lesson. She’s getting an upgrade to 12 volt status.

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That nice crack? Nope, no bueno.

Also in the user error department, I just found out today I’ve spent the entire winter feeding a buck rabbit that was originally mistakenly tagged last fall as a doe. Sexing juvenile rabbits is not a skill that I’ve perfected yet (Obviously), but this hit will insure I check again before wintering another buck I don’t need. Not a biggie unless you’re talking about 20+ pound rabbits that Hoover up feed like teenage boys ingest Mountain Dew. Plus this puts us one doe short of this year’s target number of litters.

A long planned and eagerly awaited trip to the feed store Friday resulted in mini-disaster number umpteen. As a result of an incorrect store website, we arrived thirty minutes AFTER opening to discover that the chicks Ryan has waited a month for had all been sold. In thirty stinking minutes. Apparently, the chick pirates were lined up in the parking lot at 6 am and we were not among them.

My middle son reached the magical age of majority (also Friday) which slaps one in the face with the reality that these lovely strands of gray glitter in my locks might not be premature. You start by celebrating your success that they’re now eighteen and you managed to not kill them! This is an epic parental accomplishment, as they send you home with them with absolutely NO instruction manual to refer to. It also provides equal amounts of terror and relief. You’re no longer legally responsible for their actions, and you can now no longer BE legally responsible. You have to hope and pray that you’ve taught them well enough to make the decisions that they’re frothing at the mouth to make.

Justin, below, as a grinning toddler on the beach, (enjoying his big bro’s entrapment) and just days shy of his independence-bringing anniversary of womb eviction.

 

I almost got skunked last night visiting the incubator shed to turn eggs. It’s a small skunk, and was as surprised to see me as I was it. However, it retreated to the safety of what appears to be his den after standing up on his front legs and wiggling and pointing a loaded rear weapon squarely at me. Unfortunately, his den seems to be directly UNDER the incubator shed. And the brooder. So on this week’s fun and games list is to live trap and relocate an angry and petrified skunk. Good times will be had, I’ve no doubt.

And to add the cherry on top of this S%it sundae of a week…Yesterday, as T was chainsawing down the line of adolescent trees that now front the property after the inattention of years past, he has hurt himself. Some sort of twisting of his knee that has now resulted in pain, swelling, hobbling about and clicking and popping noises that even I can hear. We’ve cancelled our plans for Easter sunrise church services in the first time ever in the history of “us”, and we will likely spend a good portion of the day at the Emergency Room instead.

I’m going to try and get my motivation back up and running over the next few days. Spring is definitely here and after working so hard to be ahead, it appears we are destined to be behind once again. Murphy’s Law prevails! I hope everyone is having a wonderful and blessed Easter Sunday if you celebrate it, and National Deviled Egg making week if you do not! 😉

~ Lisa

 

Wow What A Weekend!

So we really gave our new gal a workout this weekend. And a borrowed chainsaw…(super nice to have one of those around) We’ve got about a third of the property brush hogged, today we chainsawed our way back through the woods access road and cleared the access road of fallen trees and logs to rescue our old disc. A sizeable tree had even grown up between the bars and discs and had to be dealt with.
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But, we got it out and brought it back. It will need a little TLC, but for the first time in six years, I won’t have to try and till with a walk behind machine or bribe and barter with a neighbor to come and till our vegetable plot. I think we may even expand the garden this year, as I have the storefront in town that I can push some excess produce through. And, I have learned my lesson and will not be planting the corn nearest to the woods, as the deer got all but about a half dozen ears last year, and deer fence is simply not in this year’s budget.

 
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There was apparently some drama over in the chicken’s winter quarters last night…everyone was very stirred up this morning, and I found a large hole dug in the rear corner of the Marans coop from the other side. I was thinking something a bit larger, but T insists it’s probably Rat related. So the rodent boxes have been restocked with bait blocks, and some were thrown down the holes for good measure on the non-chicken side.
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However, then the borrowed chainsaw went to lumberjacking the teenaged trees out of the new coop runs. Weather permitting tomorrow, I’ll put up the top netting and a new gate, and then the birds should be able to be moved to their warm weather digs even as I finish replacing the center floor inside.
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A couple more days until I can candle the incubator eggs…I will try and post some pics when I do!

I hope everyone had a marvelous weekend!
 

 

 

 

Meet The New Beauty

Hallelujah, she is here!  A moment six long years in waiting. I am beside myself and happier than if you just handed me a basket full of fuzzy puppies!

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What I also am is utterly and completely exhausted. It’s been a ridiculously long day, but we finally got the left pasture bush hogged before dark. We definitely had to put this gorgeous girl to work straightaway.

Ryan found a fox den in two years worth of growth.

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I would write more, but I have an appointment with my tub and a date with my pillow. Today is definitely (barring momentous family days) one of our happiest occasions here to date!

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Teats or Tires

I vividly remember as a child, the old adage being bandied about by parents and grandparents. “If it has teats or tires, it’s going to give you problems.” This was usually followed by knowing looks, wry smiles of agreement and understanding, usually on the faces of men. I recall being instantly filled with righteous indignation at the thought that such a chauvinistic statement would be so widely accepted. Or tolerated. My female family members in particular, were made up of some of the strongest stuff I’ve ever known to this day. What in blazes did they mean by that? And why wasn’t Mom Mom telling Pop Pop all about himself?

Over my years of adulting, I’d have to say I now understand that’s because there was more truth to the matter than I cared to admit, especially on the tires end. It’s no coincidence that men tend to name vehicles and boats and equipment in the feminine. They have a love/hate relationship with these objects, they don’t understand the internal workings until they’ve seen it fall apart and put it back together, they require maintenance and care to in turn, take care of you. Oh, dear God…they just might be be women. Maybe it’s not an insult after all.

I have seen mechanical marvels put childlike smiles on the faces of the most stoic of men, and I have seen those same men reduced to near tears of frustration and fits of cursing and rage totally out of character by motors and transmissions. Or even a stuck lug nut. I nearly saw it yesterday on the face of a complete stranger. In fact, everyone in our world knows, you do not, I repeat DO NOT go near my Tony when he’s working on a vehicle. He hates it with a blinding fiery passion from the word go, so you just give him a wide berth when he’s forced to turn a wrench. 20160306_162956.jpg

The Fergbeast has long been the bane of my existence. She has not run for more than 20 consecutive minutes during my 6 year tenure here, she has sat visibly mocking me as I have paid and bartered with neighbors to come till our vegetable plot, and tried to till an acre and sweated off twenty pounds and my sanity with a walk behind tiller. She has caused countless tense moments and discord and my respect for the grand old lady she likely once was has withered into a seething resentment.

On Friday, T had talked to a tractor dealer about a two hour hike away. They had a trade in that they were selling at a budget friendly number. They’d give us a trade allowance on old Fergie here for parts. It seemed a solution to our tractor problem was imminent. There was much excitement. Yesterday morning, a phone call was made. The intended purchase had been sold.

I cried. I ugly cried. Snot, sniffling, sobbing. Then did what I do best. Sucked it up and looked for another solution. Craigslist, auctions, online forums. Tony started making calls to other dealers.

I found one suspect, nearby, in an online ad. About a thousand dollars more than we were looking to spend. The suspect part came in where the ad had been up for a couple of weeks, at a price well below market worth. It’s spring and these things usually go fast. So a couple of calls were made. One to the owner, and one to T’s boss to make sure he had access to the extra funds if necessary.

However, we weren’t holding out much hope. So being as Fergie was already on the borrowed trailer, off we went to our tinkering neighbor for a tractor triage and see whether she could be forced to cough out another year’s work or we simply needed to have a junkyard funeral.

He seems to think he can fix her. Maybe. Even if the timing can be straightened out, she long before had a problem with the steering box being completely sheared off. It was driveable, but only if you wanted to feel as if you’d gone ten rounds with the champ afterward.

He did, however, point us in the direction of a man who fixes his when he can’t and peddles a few that have been fixed up. So, off we went with Fergie still on the trailer. This next gentleman, bless his heart, was painfully honest. When asked if he had anything suitable for our needs, he said he had one, but it blew through oil like Grant took Richmond, wasn’t likely to be a reliable solution, and we’d be better off trying to fix the Fergbeast.

We told him what we were going to go look at and the price. He advised us, sight unseen, what to look for in it, and that if those conditions were met, to snap it up at that price, anything else would be fixable on a budget. Unload the Fergie in the front yard, he’ll see what he can do with her, and should we end up with another tractor, he could sell her for more than trade allowance. We bid the beast a hasty goodbye and made tracks before he could change his mind.

So, we’re off again and arrangements are made to meet the man with the ad. We found him valiantly trying to get her started where he left her after bush hogging a huge field in late fall behind his friend’s auction house. She’s not getting any fuel and the men doing men things like head scratching and getting fuel all over themselves quickly figured out that there was silt in the fuel filter bowl from sitting. 20160307_152742.jpg

Some wrenches were turned, the offending smut was drained and suddenly a part roughly the size of a small paperclip would not go back where it came from. The threaded portion had broken, I guess protesting being pulled off, as old things are prone to do.  This little paperclip sized doohickey is apparently not something that can be replaced on the spot, but was something that could be temporarily fixed by a mancritter plugging its hole with a fingertip long enough to start her up and verify that she does indeed start, run like a champ, and lifts that monstrous bush hog without any sign of strain (twice the size of our current one which is actually a finish mower).

These were the important things. Additionally, she can take a bucket on the front and pull our monstrous disc, which was too big for Ferg, (unless riding on two wheels is your thing) and will accept virtually any attachment we could conceive of throwing at her. (Think hay baler, Oh. My. Gosh.)

T wants her. I want her. This guy wants her gone. But without this tiny little piece, we can’t verify that she does everything that she’s supposed to do. He doesn’t even want to sell her to us until it’s fixed and we can do that. He wants her right. Which makes me feel infinitely better.

So we left, tractorless once again, after a 14 hour ride on an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.  But hopefully just for the moment. The doohickey paperclip piece is being ordered today, he’s planning to fix and even deliver her and we’ve settled on a price which was less than what he was asking.

I’m still holding my breath. Crossing my fingers… I may or may not be currently pricing buckets and haying attachments, and planting more starts… a girl can hope and pray.

 

 

 

Tractor Trials

Well…today started pre dawn with high hopes and much excitement.  It’s now nine pm, the animals are finally all fed and turned in, and we’re falling into bed exhausted and still currently tractor-less. Well, sort of, maybe. Kind of. We left home with a tractor and returned with one less than we left with.

I’ll get into that saga tomorrow. However, seeing as how we were all pretty bummed out at that turn of events, I went to relax in a hot bath and was interrupted by T bringing my phone for an important text message. Which of course, I protested because you don’t interrupt mom’s rare bath time unless you are on fire, bleeding, or Publishers Clearing House is at the door. These are the rules.

See, he’s been watching me battle for two weeks now for some eBay hatching eggs I’ve been lusting after. High end chickens from a line I’d love to own but couldn’t justify the expense until after spring. I set a limit, so I’ve gotten sniped on three consecutive auctions.

So, while I was trying to wash this day off, he was being all sneaky and wonderful. I got a “you won this item” screenshot with this photo.

 

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Black Copper Marans hatching eggs. (Insert my dreamy sigh here)

 

I am a lucky gal,  tractorless or not. And for once I can honestly say I’m glad my sacred bath time was interrupted. ❤ night all!  Hope your day was wonderful!

Grand Mobileness!

Well, this will be my first ever blog post from the road. We have been on the road non stop since this morning with a few brief breaks at home and for fun along the way. And I have the biggest most exciting news! Seriously, and not in my traditional snark-castic  sense of the phrase, I can hardly contain myself.

This morning, we made an appointment to ride about 45 minutes to our sheep farmer friend’s place to pick up another round bale for our hoofed eating machines. Of course, an excuse to visit and see all the beautiful new spring babies was bonus material. Ry got to discover brand new (Like, last night or today brand new) goat triplets napping under a feeder in the barn, and see all of Radar’s (the lamb) half brothers and sisters romping around. It was a big hit, even if there were no new orphans for us to pick up.

A stop on the way home at a park and river along the way to break up the ride, did a little fish activity recon, (and a stop at our favorite pizza place for a late lunch that we’re rarely ever near anymore) and we dropped our pitiful workhorse of a flatbed trailer off at home.

 

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Why, yes, I AM aware of what a sorry excuse for a trailer that is. It’s become a game of sorts to count the stares on our trips, and we bet now on whether or not it will bear the next load. Yes, there is a legal tag on that thing. Welcome to Delaware.  

 

 

In our travels, we stopped to look at a tractor on the roadside for sale. We called the number and spoke to the nice fella.  It was way beyond our budget. Oh, well. Besides, we just had our old Ferguson heap hauled home this week as the gentleman we took it to nearly a year ago to be fixed has been unsuccessful. Or possibly overwhelmed by her loveliness. Or possibly just completely unwilling to tackle the old broad in all her rusty glory, because….well, he could probably earn a master’s degree or circumnavigate the globe in the time it would take to make her act like a tractor again. We have now planned to take it to a tinkering tractor savvy neighbor who’s quite sure he can have her running before spring. Frankly, I don’t have much hope. Here’s the Old Ferg, below,  (brace yourself, now,  for beholding the sight of this lovely lady) who has been the recipient of much impolitely phrased venomously unholy wrath  (and possibly an occasional kick ) from me.  Seeing as how she’s only seen fit to run for a total of less than an hour in the last six years and all, I have minimal guilt about that.

 

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The Ferg-Beast. It’s the politest name I have for her, but not the only one. 

 

I know, she’s a real beaut, right?

Well, then T let the news slip. He’s taken the day off tomorrow so we can road trip again to possibly pick up the Ferg beast’s replacement!!!! Like, one that runs! For really and truly! You turn the key and the toggles and switches and whatchamawhoseits and it starts. You move levers and pedals and shifters and… It does tractor-y things! It moves without the aid of three winches and several draft horses and a couple of teenagers. Things it was actually built for and meant to do – pushing and pulling and tilling and grading and mowing and whacking and posthole digging…Sweet. Baby. Jesus.

My SIX SOLID YEARS of relentless (In no particular order) gentle loving hinting, requesting, begging, pleading, wheedling, whining, cajoling, bribery, blackmail, nagging and witching with a capital B have finally paid off?  Was it that last exorcism style temper fit where I nearly stomped a hole in the floor and growled in a foreign tongue and my head spun around and I scared myself, not to mention any witnesses? (Nope, not really, but I thought about it. A lot. A really, really lot. ) Can this be real? Holy guacamole, I need to go buy a lottery ticket. Or wake up. Something. Please let this not be a joke.

Seriously, love of my life…is this is your twisted notion of a joke, you may not want to go to sleep again. Evvvveeerrrr….don’t do that to me. You may wake up with one eyebrow. Or none. Or worse. I’ve watched Orange is the New Black. I may put things in a sock and beat you.

Please tell me I am not on an episode of Punked.

I’m literally so excited I could scream, maybe I did. I might have even peed a little had I not just taken care of that hovering in the god-awful park port-a-john. Ryan’s doing the happy dance in the back seat.  So, I’m probably not sleeping tonight. I’ll likely be up, showered, coffeed and dressed long before my customary 5 am. Like, now. Now is good. Can we leave now? Be there when they open? Can my perfect attendance since pre-K except for one day 8 year old skip school? Someone may get there before we do. I simply cannot have that.

So, if you’re a praying sort, please keep me in yours, if not, well, then, good vibes, positive thoughts, sage, crystals, whatever your bag is…I’m very un-judge-y. I’ll gladly accept any and all positivity and hopefully tomorrow will see us bring home a functional (new to us) new mechanical ACTUAL honest to goodness farm implement with whatever attached trappings we can negotiate (wheedle) out of the dealer. I have a spare kidney. I really need a bush hog. This could get real.   (Then I can borrow a chainsaw and lumberjack our 2 ton disc out of the two acre wood that has grown around out in the last six years!!)

Ohmygosh, my mind has reeled all day, like a browser with 2,973 tabs open. I confess to you now, in six years, we have literally and callously murdered 5 riding mowers,  a sickle bar mower, 8 push mowers,  a dozen weed whackers and assorted other mechanical cutting , threshing, and tilling machines, including three Roto tillers, all trying to do the work of one tractor. You cannot possibly understand the level of joy and relief this could mean. A Craftsman yard machine is not a bush hog, nor is it designed to willingly navigate muddy hoof churned, equine land mined terrain. They just simply quit. Give up and die. I don’t really blame them. We are merciless and horrible, and ask things of a machine that will drive it off the cliff of mechanical suicide. Goodbye cruel world! I so wish I was kidding.

So we made our final stop, to drop off my only grandson’s birthday gifts, he turned two yesterday…

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He has 5 co grandbabies and two siblings, but they are every single one girls. 🙂 Poor little dude, he’s swimming in the estrogen ocean. His uncle Ryan there is the sole manchild in his circle.

Had to make a fast emergency tenant stop and are just now finally on our way home, where I will try in vain to sleep till tomorrow. Cross your fingers for me! Have a wonderful night all!