Saturday, August 29, 2009

that thing they call "autumn"

I'm no longer convinced that Autumn really exists. Oh sure, as a child I recall red and orange leaves, apple cider, crisp mornings, chilly evenings, pumpkins, frost. I've begun to suspect, however, that these were pleasant lies manufactured by my parents to make me more willing to go back to change out of the carefree skin of summer and fall in line. (Maybe that's why it's called "Fall"?) Here in the land of Summer, Autumn seems akin to Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Or even like winning the lottery or being asked out by the best looking boy in school. It is something that Other People get to enjoy.

But lately I cannot deny that I'm seeing the signs. My faith is returning. Every day Summer takes another step closer to the door. In another couple of weeks, she'll leave. Then of course, she'll have forgotten her keys or some such thing and come storming back in briefly before finally splitting for good. She may even forget her purse too, and have to come back a couple of times - you know how that can happen. This morning at ten after six, I noticed that it was unusually dark for ten after six. When I stepped outside, it was, dare I say, brisk. It was a mere 62 degrees - downright chilly for us here. I think there may be hope for us yet.

Now if you don't mind, I need to get out and work on the garden for as long as I can before it's 90 degrees. I probably have until, oh, mid-morning.

Friday, August 28, 2009

ode to my truck

I tell people often how much I love my truck, and I realized I have never given it its due respect here. This is a 1989 Toyota pickup. The same year I graduated from high school. We bought it with cash and it runs like a champ. Sure, it's ugly, rattly, and the smallest, most beat up truck in the F.S.F.S. parking lot, but I love it. In fact, everyone who sees it loves it. It carries everything I need it to carry and has never let us down. Once, on our way home one night, the belt broke and my husband had to rig a replacement. It was after dark and we were too far from anything to get a part or a ride. This truck (along with my husband's ingenuity) got us another 20 miles home on a belt made of ROPE. Seriously. Check it:

Before its incarnation as a farm truck, it was a commuter for a Dockers-and-loafers suburbanite. But I like to imagine this truck in its fresh-faced youth. I'm fairly certain that when it was new and shiny and pin-stripey, there was an 18-year-old boy with acid washed jeans and a mullet, blaring this out of the crappy speakers. You know I'm right.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

relationships, puberty and other assorted flotsam

My little boy is becoming a man. Our little buckling Surrey is transitioning into buckhood, and if he were a human boy, he would presently be in what we all know as "that awkward stage". He has become stinky. He has discovered the appeal of girls. He's learning new things about his body. Also, he has begun making new noises...the adorable, high-pitched "Meh!" of his youth is giving way to a low, (sort of) manly "BUH!" I sort of feel sorry for the little guy. He's like the first kid in school to go through puberty. Perhaps I should schedule a viewing of "Am I Normal?" for him.

Since he has begun working tirelessly to win the affections of the girls, the girls have taken refuge in the company of...anyone else. Blossom, the new girl, sticks to us like glue, and Patience, our herd queen, seems to have developed a bit of a crush on the dog. To be fair, he likes her too, and I sometimes catch glimpses of clandestine nibbling and nuzzling between them. Walter and Perry, the wethers, just want to be a part of whatever "it" is, and seem content to take their chances with anyone who happens by. We won't tell them that it's hopeless and that they're only going through the motions.

In the realm of the bipeds, we're holding down the fort. We work on projects in fits and starts - as much as we're able to in the heat. We're also making plans so that we may make the most of the cooler weather to come. We'll soon be building the chicken coop and goat pastures in earnest, as well as laying in our winter supplies of hay and firewood. I just stocked up on feed for everyone, which in my estimation, should last, oh....two weeks. Sigh. It's a good thing I get a small adrenaline spike every time I pull up in front of the F.S.F.S. (that's Full Service Farm Store, ma'am).

Finally, my husband would like for you all to consider the following: When you put your underpants on in the dark, there is a 50/50 chance that they will be inside-out.

I'll just leave you with that, and tiptoe quietly out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

well, that was unexpected

Yesterday, like virtually every other day of a Texas summer, was sunny and hot. We spent the morning working outside until just before we passed out (which was about 11:00 a.m.). Drenched with sweat and heat-addled, we came inside for the day. On a day like that, we keep things closed up. All the shades down, the insulating, room-darkening curtains drawn. No sunlight should peek through anywhere. After all these years I really can't say whether that tactic really works to keep the house cooler, but it certainly does create a nice illusion. We sat in our cool, dark cave of a house all afternoon, enjoying the quiet, when out of nowhere came the sound of rattling. It was as though a dump truck full of gravel was suddenly dumped onto our house from above. We both jumped up in surprise and looked out the window. Rain! And a lot of it! No slow and steady buildup. No gradual darkening of the skies. It was just...there. And then it wasn't. Just like that. In the time it took to walk out and roll up the truck windows, it was done.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

new hires

I'm happy to report that the second shift has just punched in.

After months of declining egg production from the Phyllises due to deaths, heat and molting, many bags of feed, raccoon attacks, snake attacks, thunderstorms and all the rest, the agonizing wait is finally over. Today we got our first egg from one of the Camillas (the name we've given to the second shift girls). I'm not sure who did it, but she left it right in her nest box where she was supposed to, and I am deeply grateful. Now that one has taken the plunge, the rest will soon follow suit. It's such a small gift, but it feels like prosperity.

P. S. - I forgot how tiny the first ones are.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

saved by the bread

It was a good plan, really it was. My mom and I had a solid plan to sell bread, cookies and other baked goods at a local farmers market this weekend. I had loads of bread dough made and got an early start baking this morning. I was ready.

About mid-morning the news came that we would not be setting up at the market after all. An unfortunate oversight prevented us from having all the required permits and paperwork to vend there, so I found myself with a glut of fresh-from-the-oven, still warm bread. It luckily wasn't too much, but it was certainly way more than we'd be able to eat by ourselves. I resigned myself to giving it out as freebies to folks I know, one or two loaves at a time, until it was gone. I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn't be able to sell it, but even worse would be to see it go to waste entirely.

Apparently when you mention you have a boatload of extra bread, people fall all over themselves to take it off your hands. The very first person I tried to give it to told me that she'd pay for it instead. She bought every last loaf I had, and that was before she had even seen it yet! I came home fifty dollars richer and didn't have to spend all morning manning a booth at the farmers market. Mark my words, people - BREAD SELLS ITSELF. Apparently.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ducklings, Round Two!

My mama duck is laying eggs again! She has decided that a large dog kennel is more to her liking this time and is making her nest in there. I'm excited - this means that we should have a new bevy of fuzzy ducklings just in time for my birthday. :-D

Which will also mean roast duck just in time for Christmas... *ahem*

We do have a pretty serious gender imbalance right now, and we're hoping another hatch will get us to a more comfortable ratio. Right now we have two females and four males - not good! Those girls are getting the runaround, and the boys are starting to fight amongst themselves. We hope to end up with four to six females and two males as our foundation stock, so any females from this new hatch will be kept, and all but about two males will be sold, or will be, uh, dinner. All unpleasantness aside, though, ducklings are ADORABLE!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

farm life is...part II

When the surface of your desk is home to any or all of the following items:

loose bean seeds
livestock dewormer
a goat collar
an egg
wads of bailing wire

Monday, August 10, 2009

farm life is...

Finding alfalfa twigs in your hair brush.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The New Girl

I'm off to pick up this lovely lady today.

We were supposed to start on the new chicken coop today. It's been on our to do list for awhile, and we're reaching a point where we can't put it off any more, but instead I'll be making a five-hour round trip journey to add this fetching girl to our herd. We've long been on the lookout for another doe to add to the family. It's risky business having just one. She may have problems kidding, her kids may die, she may not conceive, she may become ill. All of which can mean no milk for us. Having two feels like having a little extra insurance. It was also important to us to bring some different genes into to pool, and twice as much milk just means extra for cheese, soap and other goodies! She's the same age as our others, born in January of this year. She comes to us from great lines, and from a family who has been raising and showing goats since the fifties. Best laid plans and whatnot.

When you find the right animal, your other plans just have to take a backseat.

She's here! It was a long hard slog today, but our new goat is in the yard, and she's even prettier than her picture. And a sweetheart too. Now we're working on choosing a name for her. We need to pick a formal name for her registry, and also figure out what we'll call her.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Well, I'm exhausted. With the help of my wonderful hubby, I got just about everything accomplished that I needed to over the weekend, and it was a lot (still didn't get hooves trimmed, though...darn).

I got one small group of chicks moved out of the barn brooder and into the little tractor, and all the little rooster boys moved permanently into the CluckerDome (which is now staked down).

The chicken tractors got moved onto fresh grass and a new nest box built for the up-and-coming girls. There was a big trip to the feed store for feed, bulk grain, compost, garden soil and all sorts of things. All of this fall's tomato starts were transplanted into their permanent pots (fingers crossed). Broccoli seed was started in the seed flat. Garden bed #2 was cleaned out, filled and prepped for planting.


And after:

Okay, so those are actually two different beds, but this one really did look like the first one before we started!

I'm sure there was more, but I'm so sore and heat-addled that I just can't call it to mind. As tired as I am, though, I feel great about it. We got tons of work done. I'm really looking forward to getting both these beds filled with seed.