Friday, February 27, 2015

Farm Animal Reality

So stop reading if you think this is going to be an article about "How to Pick the Perfect Goat" or
"Winning Ways With Chickens" because that is NOT what this is going to be about (really none of this blog is really good about any of that).

This is about the animals on our farm and their oddities/quirks/all-out-flipping-nasties.  Really, I'm just hoping other people chime in and tell me that their animals are just as gross and messed us and I feel better about myself.


Regal, my foot.  Just full of poo.
The dog.  Miniature Schnauzer, three years old.  Yes, I still call him a puppy, but that's because he's still small (he's small because he's not as big as our mastiff).  Eater of all things crap.  No seriously (cuss word coming, close the children's eyes) he's a shitoholic.  The cat box had to be relocated so he couldn't dine on almond rocca.  The chickens are a constant source of crap-fodder.  He especially loves them frozen.  I call them shitcicles.  Lovely, eh?  And those farts clear the room.  As he's sniffing his butt to see if that was him.  Oh, and he likes to lay on know what, with his legs all splayed behind him.

See...on the floor.
The indoor cat.  Picked out by my then-five year old daughter.  Paid for by my husband who then went off on an errand and I had to pick up this butt ugly, flea-ridden kitten with my delighted, chipper kindergartner.  Seriously, this thing was all ears.  She's ten now (the cat, not the kid). Flops down in the middle of the kitchen floor as you are just getting ready to step there.  Cries like her tail is on fire if the food dish is empty.  Master door opener if you don't click the doorknob shut in the bathroom (had a few pissed off guests with that one).  No useful purpose in the house except to get in an argument with the dog.

The Outdoor Cat.  Who used to be an indoor cat.  Who was found in the barn.  Catch that?  I'll catch you up:  Found a kitten in the barn one day (doesn't everyone?).  Brought it in the house because for some reason I needed another cat in the house (this one was at least cute).  She went into heat every six minutes.  AFTER the vet found and removed three ovaries.  I'm sure we made a vet medical journal somewhere and I should be getting royalties.  She then proceeded to piss on every article of clothing we owned.  Especially if you were packing for a trip.  She was relocated back to the barn.

This THING and his brothers turned
into pretty cocketiels.
The Birds.  We - let me wildly rephrase that - My daughter has cockatiels.  It started with one male (doesn't it always?) and she wanted to breed him.  So, she, with her own money, purchased a female.  Who then proceeded to get knocked up.  We had babies.  Three of them, all boys.  One of which decided to eat the hook that holds the bird toy up and get the sucker stuck through his tongue and beak.  We have a fantastic wildlife vet who took him in and brought him back to life. One of the other fellers just loves himself.  No, really, loves himself.  He won't shut up about it either. I actually googled "masturbating cockatiel" and now it is in some search engine in cyberspace FOREVER.

The Other dog.  This one has since passed, but I'll toss her on this list anyway.  Because she wasn't normal either.  Unless, when going for a walk, crapping directly in front of your walking path every single fricking time is normal.  That and humping every single sleeping bag with a child inside during a sleepover.  We don't have many friends.

Not the bull.  I wasn't
going to get that close to

The Bull.  He loves bananas.  I don't know how we know this but he will follow you anywhere if you have a banana.  What he won't abide by is a stick.  If you have anything in your hand that looks like a stick, he will charge, gore and take you apart.  Well, we think he would - we have learned to run really fast.  He is also not fond of the tractor or the Subaru Legacy when he opens the gate to let himself out.  Don't get a stick or the keys; get a banana and he'll follow you back to the pasture.

The Rooster.  Likes the duck.  As in, like-like.  Every single morning.  Not drawing a picture here, people.  He's also the most co-dependent mammal on the property and can't be anywhere you are not.  I'm surprised he sleeps in the coop rather than the house.  Although the duck is in the coop.

So cute.  And so wrong.
The Duck.  See above, because she's not trying to get away, if you know what I mean.

The Other Rooster.  Can't crow worth crap.  Starts out as a snort, ends in a whinny.  I don't know how, but he does.  The day we butchered and put two roosters in the freezer, my husband says, "make sure we get the one who can't crow."  Whoops.

I live in a circus, not on a farm, I swear.  My husband wants to get more animals because, "we live on a farm" (lame-o excuse).  So then what; I get more whack-job animals?  No thank you.  No one believes the ones I have anyway.  And it's hard enough already to get a pet sitter so I can go on vacation!

Now it's your job to make me feel better.  Tell me about your "whack-o" animals.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Everyone Works on This Farm

Living on property is not for the faint of heart if you like a relaxed lifestyle.  There is more to do in the day than there is day.

Lawns have to be mowed, pastures need to be hayed, chickens need to fed and foals need to be birthed.  Most of it is not done on your timeline either.  Hay (in our area) needs to be done when there is a four day stretch of no rain - not always convenient in the rainy Pacific Northwest.  Foals come in the middle of Thanksgiving Dinner (yes, really).  Grass has to be mowed sometime before it gets so tall it bogs the mower blades down.

Not always on my time schedule.

Seriously, what IS this for?
Which means everyone and everything on this farm must be capable of working.  Ours isn't a I-do-inside-you-do-outside kind of deal.  It's more of a here's-what-I'm-better-at.

Hubby takes care of anything with a motor.  (This one really isn't a farm-thing.  It's a we-had-a-girl thing.  He does motor stuff; I do the bra shopping.  The minute I have to do anything regarding a motor, he is going to be at Macy's with a red-faced, probably pissed off, teenager.)  He makes sure everything is in working condition and has oil and gas.  If it was up to me, stuff would freeze from lack of oil because it's not even on my list.  He is the one in charge of blades and belts and the stuff that comes out of the can that makes the blades spin.

Me, I'm in charge of the garden.  Hubby used to be in charge until he grew half an acre of okra that I didn't even know what to do with.  He was quickly fired and the okra was tossed into the woods.  Now I do all the seed ordering, tilling, staking, planting, weeding (crazily, I love this part!) and harvesting.  I am sorta (notreally) good at the preserving part, but only if it requires no blanching and the freezer and Ziploc bags.

The Teenager gets the poultry.  This is her domain.  After all, she's one who started the whole thing in May of 2013.  When she asked to get more chickens this past spring, I told her I was not opposed to four more.  Four somehow means sixteen to her and my math-challenged husband.  She also gets the job of mowing the lawn.  It is after all, a riding lawn mower and that kid needs all the practice with her driving skills that she can get.

The poultry get the job of eating all the leftovers in the fridge.  And bugs, worms and things from the ground.  They are particularly good at aerating the flower bed bark and spreading it into the lawn, thereby making my flower beds bigger.  Plus the eggs.  I guess the eggs are a job.

At least he's cute...
The dog - well, we're still trying to find out his role.  He's not so good at guard dog.  If you are above the age of 17, he might bark.  If you are 17 or under, he is super excited you have come to play with him.  He isn't real good at napping, being all ADHD and everything.  He can fall in the river chasing rocks real fine, but he sucks at getting himself back out.  He is SUPER good at eating every scrape of chicken crap anywhere on the farm.  We've made several attempts to fire him, but he just keeps reinstating himself into the role.  He is remotely okay and steering straggler chickens back in the pen, but we've not encouraged this.  So I don't know.  He's still a puppy.

Said teenager under a very perturbed cat because I
disturbed her Majesties nap with a flash! 
The cat.  The cat holds the teenager down.  That is pretty much her only purpose in this family
because I haven't found anything else useful about her.  She meows because the shower door isn't opened (and you haven't lifted her lazy ass into the tub), the teenager's door isn't opened, her food dish is only half full or you have not made enough room for her on the couch.  No, I've got it.  She's good at establishing your peripheral vision.  If you are walking, you always need to be aware of where she has planted herself in the middle of the kitchen.  That's all I got with her.

Making sure you establish chore roles in the farm family is one of the only ways anything is ever going to get done.  And you don't have one bitter person and two really happy people! Likesometimeshappenshere   Likeneverhappens here

Monday, February 23, 2015

Raising an Only - The Argue Factor

I would love to say that I've raised my daughter as a diligent Christ follower who is sweet and kind and doesn't debate with anyone.

I'd be snorting the coffee out my nose if I said that!

Well, yes she is a Christ follower, but the sweet/kind/doesn't debate.... Yeah.  The fact is that one of the drawbacks of raising an Only Child is that they don't know how to argue.

Yes, I hear some of you Only Raisers arguing (ha, get it?) "oh, Land's Sake my kid can argue, what are you talking about?"  But hear me out.

I'm saying they don't know how to effectively argue.

Big difference.

This came to light this last year at our teenager's high school conferences.  English Lit class is all about debating and conversing and opinions and all.  One day I noticed that my daughter got an F in participation.

Say what?  4.0 kid with an F in participation?

When this was nicely brought to the teacher's attention, she kindly remarked, "K didn't raise her hand and join in the discussion.  She's an only child, isn't she?"

Say what?  What's that got to do with it? (and yes, it's taken me fifteen years to get here)

My has-19-reasons-why-she-can't-unload-the-dishwasher kid wouldn't express her point of view?

The journal I purchased for my
teenager so she could write down
everything we are doing wrong.
I figure it saves her time in therapy.
No, because she doesn't know HOW!  As an only child, who does she have to argue with?  No one came along and stole a toy from her mouth at three months (or three days).  No one has ever walked into her room and copped her favorite shirt from her closet.  No one else in the family got the bigger piece of cake.

So my Only doesn't know what it's like to have to scrap and fight for what she wants.  There's no learning how to effectively debate, "mom, brother took the last bag of Doritos and won't let me have any."

This has led to the opposite side of the milk-toast pedilum where she is completely harsh about expressing her point of view.  She screams her "side" because she is not used to having to defend herself.  So then she sucks at it and it has the reverse effect that she wants.

It is a line we often have to walk in having to teach her about a world outside herself.  She has joined the debate club in high school and seems to be getting better at viewing her side of things.  We are constantly using the phrase "rephrase that so I want to hear you." so she can go out in public and not bowl people over.

So those of you who are tired of the multiple-kid-bickering in your house; it's actually helping to create a healthy base for conversation later in life.  Just keep duct tape and/or earplugs handy!

This Series Started Here:  Raising an Only - No Do-Overs

Friday, February 20, 2015

Raising an Only - No Do-Overs

I was at an elementary school the other day and a mom walked by, with her eyes all red.  I asked if she was okay.  As the parent of a fifth grade girl, her third and last child, she said, "This was my last Valentine's party."

Miserable right?  Actually, we are in a
park in the middle of the South Pacific.
Not as miserable anymore, eh?
She walked off, crying, to be with her own misery.

I stood there, not even knowing what to do or say.

I didn't get it, so I had nothing to offer.  No words of wisdom.  Nothing.

I walked away wondering of something was wrong with me (don't even go there!).

Then I realized that I am the mother of ONE child.  Well, to be fair, I kinda know I only had one kid, but, what I mean is, I have just one kid.  One daughter, who is now 16 (ohgoodGod).

Everything we have done since her birth is our first and last everything.

The first time she rolled over, that was it.  That was the first roll over we were going to see (that sounds kinda odd).

The first solid food was the first and last first (say that ten times real fast).

The first day of school?  No big deal for either one of us, really.  She just kind of walked in, sat down, and pulled out a pencil.  I went coat shopping.

The first time she drove off on her own (like, last week!) I did video it.  Because of she hit the fence post on the way out, I wanted it for insurance evidence.  There is that "oh, there she goes" only because I think I'm supposed to feel that way.  In reality, I'm proud that she's independent enough to pay her own gas, own insurance, and be able to drive off like that.  And that now she can drive her own self to the 6:30 am ASB meetings rather than me dragging my butt out of bed.

So I had nothing to offer this woman who knew, when her oldest was in fifth grade, that two more were coming down the pike.  She could do re-do's.  The first Valentines box could be done better with the next kid.  By the time the littlest came up for fifth grade, this mom had it down.

Me, I got nothing.  I have to glean every single scrap of information from parents who have done this before me.  Because I don't get do-overs.  I have one chance to do this right or mess it up completely (and we have been on both sides of that fence, believe me!).

So, yes, I will grill you for information about how you did it with your kid.  Sorry (notreally).


There's a whole list of things about raising an Only Child (which is now a proper noun, with capitals and everything).  Maybe that's my next blog series....

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hidden Homestead Costs

You've got this romantic vision of a rustic barn with acres of field fence surround and a white picket fence around a darling little two story cottage with a vegetable garden off to the side.  Mature fruit trees round out the picture.

 The reality (at least the affordable reality):  The barn needs a new roof, the fence is barbed wire and split in several places, the two story cottage has a dilapidated porch that lists to one side and the vegetable garden hasn't seen a carrot seed in a decade.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating (or stating my own inherited experience), but reality is somewhere in the middle.  There are a lot of hidden costs that you just don't have living in the Burbs that will come out of the country left field.  I take this list from our own experience (keeping in mind that we not only farm agriculturally and animally -notaword-, but we also have ongoing home improvement projects).

This nesting roost took about 7,003 of our tools to build.
1.  Hand Tools.  Hammer, tape measurer, screwdriver (times nine because, seriously, they are never where you thought you left them), socket set, drill bit set (times four on that one), cordless and corded screwdriver, reciprocating saw.  Toss in the fencing pliers and stretchers.  I could keep going.  Just stand at the home improvement store and point for them to ring it up, because you will need it at some point or another.

2.  Yard Tools.  Every single tool in the hardware store from shovel, pruner, rake, post hole digger, more rakes (because every task requires a different one, seriously), more shovels (because the one you need is always on the other side of the property).  Then tack on the tools that require gas or electricity:  lawn mower, chain saw(s), weed eater, flame thrower (that one's fun!).  Wanna keep them maintained?  Blades, sharpeners, additives.  I need a condo already!

The best piece of furniture on the farm!
3.  Fixings.  This means every size nail, flathead or Phillips screw you see in the home improvement aisle.  Seriously.  Because the size you need is rarely the one you have.

4.  Gas.  Diesel.  Fuel.  Because you live down that cute county road, grocery stores are further away.  Add to that fuel for the tractor, weedeater, lawn mower, generator...  We filled up our farm truck and seven containers of fuel for all the implements this morning.  Came to a wee bit under $100.  That will last less than a month in late winter.  It will not go as far come mid-spring.

You can see all the buildings in this one picture!

5.  Farm Implements.  I'm talking tractor with all the attachments:  field mower, tiller, box blade, post hole digger.  Ours is sixteen years old and is still worth more than every single car on our property - which equals seven - don't ask.

6.  Out Buildings.  See all that stuff up there?  It's gotta go somewhere.  We have a total of four outbuildings for all our crap stuff.

7.  Time.  Really, this one is the most "expensive" of all.  It is really fun at first to work eight, nine hours a day and then come home and repair the fence.  But it can be draining after the first few times.  Toss in a snow storm, power outage or stomach virus and it can have you screeching for an ocean front condo in a heartbeat.

None of these are meant to scare or dissuade anyone from becoming a homesteader.  It's just a list to meet head-on, rather than be blind sided by a knocked down fence and an empty, gloveless hand.

I participated in HomeAcre Hop
I participated in Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My 7 New Years Resolutions - In February

It's still a New Year, right.  Well, Chinese New Year is right around the corner.

Anywhooo, I am finally getting around to making some Resolutions for this year.  Hey, I'm a little slow on the draw - read here to realize just HOW slow:  The Beginning of Acceptance

I don't do the I'm-going-to-lose-20-pounds or I'm-only-going-to-eat-from-scratch or I'm-not-spending-any-money-in-July.  Those are all perfect for some people.  Just not this people.

This year I came up with seven goals to get me through 2015:

1.  Make this place pay for itself.  I want to make enough money to cover the property tax and the cost of insurance.  While we don't have a mortgage, I want to equalize the cost of living here.  This could mean having one wedding here, getting more involved in the farmers market and getting paid for the basil that grows like a weed around here or selling a hell of a lot of eggs (okay, maybe not the last one).

2.  Paint the barn.  Good grief, the thing hasn't seen paint since the 1940's if it was that late (it's a 100+ year old barn).  And we already have the paint!  Sitting there.  Waiting for a paint brush.  And a teenager who is dying to paint it.

3.  Finish a project or two.  Like the addition.  Ten years and counting and I'm still waiting for a new kitchen!  Don't get me started...

4.  Take down the Christmas lights.  Before October.

5.  Get rid of the red van.  Seriously.  This has been on my Resolution List (which somehow became a proper noun) for the last fifteen years.  I'll have it there next year, too.  I'm just that confident.

Anyone need a 1979 Ford Converstion Van, Straight Six?
Doesn't Run.  You Haul.  Please.  Haul. Away.
6,  Scrapbook 2014.  And 2013.  And 2012.  And 2011...

7.  Live in the now.  Well except for the scrapbooking part - looking backwards is kinda fun.  I spend a lot of time thinking about spring vacation, summer break, getting apples off the tree in September.  I forget that it is the third day of February, rainy and dark outside, but I am healthy, have a non-leaking roof over my head and salmon and salad ready to go on the dinner table in fifteen minutes.