Task List and the Cabinet Connundrum

Warning: I cover a lot of ground in this post. Sorry for the disjointed, free association. Consider it a snap shot of my brain.

Yesterday, our list of stuff to do looked like this:

Orchard:

  • Prune fruit trees
  • Fertilize
  • Plant cover crop

 

Animals:

  • Build new goat birthing shelter and enclosure
  • Electrify chicken coop for protection against predators
  • Fix horse electric fence (damn goats don’t mind electric fence)
  • Chicken duplex roof and nesting boxes need new shingles
  • Build stands for bee boxes
    • Ant proof bee stands

 

Garden of Good and Evil:

  • Amend garden beds
    • Add compost
    • Plant cover crop
    • Fix garden plumbing after pipes froze and burst
    • Fix greenhouse panels after wind knocked them out
    • Expand blueberry cages so chickens can’t keep eating the plants
    • Trellis raspberries
    • Plant garlic (better late than never) (Dave wanted me to say, better late than pregnant. I told him no but I’m doing it anyway because I love him and his odd sense of humor.)

 

I got exactly one of those items done. We can cross off fix horse electric fence. So what exactly did I do all day? Mostly, I drove around on the tractor. Blame Dave. I was all set to toil, and I did for a while. Then he asked if I would box scrape the back road and…well, that’s where my day ended. Playing on the tractor is a giant, enjoyable time suck. Yes, I could make a case that I was doing something useful but the case is weak. Driving the tractor was not on my list. I did help Dave move some rubber mats into the old horse’s dinner stall, using the tractor. That wasn’t on the list but it should have been. His stall had become a soupy mess. In my defense, I figured I would ride the tractor all day and on Sunday (now today) I would do all the garden stuff.

Procrastination - procrastination Photo

Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow? Alas, the short rain shower that was predicted yesterday, turned into an all night and most of the morning downpour. Now the garden is too wet to work in, without risking compaction. This is what I get for procrastinating.

Since it’s too wet to play outside, I will be self flagellating, forcing myself to suffer a fate worse than death and put together our order for kitchen cabinets. We’re getting a quote for ready to assemble cabinets, made in the USA but I have to figure out what exactly, we need. I was up until 2am looking at their literature but the options are endless and I eventually fried my brain. Today, I’ll tackle the task again, with a freshly caffeinated mind and some graph paper. If you think I freaked out over choosing pendant lights for the counter space, you should see me in action trying to choose a PERMANENT fixture. A while back, we went to the “Giant Not Orange Home Store” and had them do a CAD drawing of our kitchen cabinets, so I’m cheating and using that as the base for our quote. I figure the Not Orange Home Store takes enough of our money, loaning us one of their underpaid kitchen designers for an hour should be one of the perks of patronage. Not Orange Home Store didn’t have as many options though, so some things will have to be changed. If you are just dying to know what the Not Orange Home Store came up with, I have posted the pictures below. Feel free to offer up some thoughts. I’m not stoked on the awkward corner by the fridge, I think it will be replaces with an appliance garage and I find the design in the kitchen to be lacking in aesthetic appeal.

The floor plan

The floor plan

Cabinet breakdown around fridge

Cabinet breakdown around fridge

MILLER 5

Cabinet breakdown around sink

Cabinet breakdown around sink

MILLER 6

Cabinet breakdown around bay window

Cabinet breakdown around bay window

I don’t have the CAD rendering for that last area around the bay window, which is a shame because that’s the only area I really like. You can kind of get an idea from the cabinet breakdown. Not Orange Home Store didn’t have very many options for this area but The Cabinet Joint, where we getting a quote has some pretty nifty options. This area will have glass/chicken wire upper cabinets for storing the china and other pretty things, a wine/beverage fridge (this will free up an entire fridge shelf), liquor cabinet/barware storage, filing cabinets for all the paperwork which inevitably ends up on the kitchen table (if you can’t beat it, fix it with a better storage solution), storage for the lap tops and printer which lives on the table, and some really high cupboards for those items which only come out once a year but are still important enough to keep, like the nice linens and vases for fresh flowers (though I keep vowing to make those a regular thing.) This will all be topped off with an aged copper counter that tops the lower cupboards and the bottom of the bay window, which can be used as a bar area, buffet or seat during parties. I’m pretty excited about this area, though to be honest, if we run out of money, this is the last thing that will get done. Isn’t that always the way it goes?

Wish me luck as I build my quote. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, send the men in white coats because I’ve lost my mind. You’ll find me on the tractor.

Morning In the Mouth of Madness

I’ve been sick. I don’t have that horror flu that makes you like you’re a character in that movie, “In the Mouth of Madness“, I only had a cold but it has sucked away my energy. This morning I was intending to sleep in. First I woke up to the dog yelping excitedly. I looked out the bedroom and saw the goat at the french doors. I decided to ignore it, (goats do weird things) yelled at the dog and went back to sleep. Then I woke up to the dog barking her big girl bark. I looked out my door and saw our neighbor’s sister standing in the front yard. I shuffled to the front door (maybe now I looked like a character from In the Mouth of Madness) and she apologized saying she was driving by and saw the goat on the front steps eating a 25 lb bag of carrots. Well of course. This stuff only happens when I’m trying to sleep in. I thanked her for chasing off the goat and took the now 20 lb bag of carrots in the house. I was about to go back to bed when I remembered I forgot the phone meeting I have every Friday at 9am. Oops. I’ll have to call my boss in a while and grovel but decide to call my work partner first and see what happened. We were chatting about my upcoming trip to 19 degree weather when the handy-guy pulls up. I forgot he was going to sand the drywall today. Why not, I was done resting anyway. I was just helping him tape up the plastic that will hopefully keep the drywall dust from infiltrating every part of our life when the UPS freight truck pulls up. Now I know, there is no chance of going back to sleep. The UPS guys was dropping off 1300 lbs of fencing materials which will be our new pasture soon. I had to move the cars so he could turn around in the driveway. I finally retreated to my room to rest. As I write, the dog and I are hiding the bedroom. She’s here because she’s scared of the orbital sander, I’m here because I hate the drywall dust. I suppose I should just give it up and go work in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Here’s hoping you have a peaceful day.

Who Moved My Cheese?

This is not a parable about affecting change in the business world. This is a tragic tale about the mysterious disappearance of my cheese. Let us begin at the beginning, where all things begin.

I found a clandestine dealer of raw cows milk. OK, maybe she’s not that clandestine. I found her on Craigslist. She’s pretty cool. Down to earth, has some meat rabbits and goats. She wears a Carhartt jacket, which gives her farm cred. She made me sign a bunch of forms informing me that raw cow’s milk is not for human consumption and if I were to drink it or feed it to my family, fiery asteroids would rain down on me and if I survived that, I would be charged with endangering my children in a federal court. And they would televise it on Court TV, a fate worse than death. Now every week, I go and fetch a gallon or two of the best tasting milk my family has ever had. Her cow is a Jersey so the cream takes up a full two inches of the jar. Even I tried a few swallows and I don’t generally like milk.

Having all this milk in the house has inspired me to make some cheese. I started with mozzarella and quickly decided that wasn’t enough. In the classic fashion of an easily bored, overachieving slacker, I wanted to make something better, right now, without practicing. So I decided to make Monterey Jack with a kit I got from Mountain Feed, the place where many of my harebrained schemes are hatched. It was easy. Time consuming but easy. The bad ass stove (BAS) has a habit of heating things too quickly so I had to watch it every second. For three hours I toiled. I broke one thermometer but as a former assistant to a Cub Scout leader, I had a spare. (Cub Scouts? Long horrific tale about the time my former Eagle Scout father insisted I be the broken arm victim during the Cub Scout meeting so the troop could practice splinting my arm. I was so shy and it was so awful. Excuse me, I have to call my counselor now.) After the three hours it takes to cook said cheese, I strained it into the cheese cloth and pressed it into the mold. For the next 12 hours I monitored the cheese, increasing the weight of the press as directed. When ready, I removed the cheese, placing it in a 54 degree room to begin drying. This is where the crime happened. The cheese, swaddled in its cloth, was dry but I didn’t have time to wax it. (This is not a process of removing hair. It’s the process of coating the cheese in that lovely wax which protects it for the duration of its curing.) Doing the best I could, I wrapped it in Saran wrap in order to stop it from further drying out and set it back in the baking pan and covered it with a metal colander, which in my mind was as good as putting a little suit of armor upon its cheesy goodness.

Last night, just two, short days later it was gone. I shrieked. I gnashed my teeth. I pulled at my hair. I demanded a search but we all knew the criminal was among us. One of our own. Normally, Hamish is suspect number one but in this case, I didn’t believe he was actually capable of moving a whole wheel of cheese. There was only one creature who would eat the whole thing. No. Not Dave. Chaos. Baaaaaaad dog.

At that point, I became concerned that there was no Saran wrap to be found. She appeared a little bloated but certainly not uncomfortable. Then I wondered if she had eaten the cheese and already…um…passed the plastic? That seemed unlikely knowing how much plastic wrap was around the wheel of cheese. I vowed to monitor her for the next 12 hours. I had an acquaintance whose dog ate a diamond and they followed it around for weeks, searching through its poo to no avail. I am not going to be that person. Either there’s plastic wrap in there or there’s not. With that said, I did get up twice last night to check on her and make sure she wasn’t showing any symptoms of shock. She was not. She looked bright eyes and bushy-tailed. The picture of a well fed dutch shepherd. So who ate the plastic wrap then?

Tonight, 24 hours after the crime was discovered, the crime was solved. As I was preparing dinner, Hamish started his post litter box happy dance, which starts with a victory lap around the house, followed by some line backer leaps to the side and usually finishes with a climb up the back of the couch. It’s rather convenient that he gives us this warning because by the time he’s done, the smell starts to waft through the house. The smell of the rotting insides of a hairless cat. I don’t know what makes him smell that bad but the song “Smelly Cat” might have been written for him. I rushed to the litter box with my gloves and my plastic bad and what to my wonder did I find but this:

2013-01-03 19.32.14

That dear reader is half of my wheel of cheese and all of the plastic wrap. Why it’s in the litter box is beyond me. Perhaps someone is saving it for later. In retrospect, it explains why she has been more into the litter box than normal. For the last two days she has had litter caked on her nose. Just on the part she can’t lick off.

2013-01-03 19.54.52

The moral of the story? “Hide thine cheese well for hound and hairless cat are circling your cellar.” Or maybe, “Cheese without protection will end in the litter box.” Or, “Dog are gross. Really, really gross.”

Tomato Review 2012

 As you may have read yesterday, I did not start any of my own seedlings this year, unless they were direct sown things like greens and herbs and squash and cucumbers and flowers and carrots and radishes and…Ok, what I really mean is I didn’t start any tomato seeds this year. They are my pride and joy whose absence from my life left a big gaping hole. It turned out, I couldn’t bear the summer without those tastiest of summer fruits, so I bought a few plants from Love Apple Farm’s plant sale. The varieties I planted were, Amish Paste, Green Giant, Orange Russian 116, Anna Russian, Royal Plum, Michael Pollan, Paul Robison and White Oxheart. Then on a whim, Jules and I brought home a “Juliette” tomato from the Cabrillo plant sale, just because we loved the name. Alright, it was really because I’m an addict and I can’t stop buying plants but the name was a convenient excuse.  

Unfortunately, I did not get photos of the tomatoes or manage to weight or measure them. I’ve been busy. It was all I could do to eat them. To make up for this, I have provided links to people who spend more time than me, immersed in the world of the tomato. They have better photos and descriptions, anyway.

Amish Gold– This is the second year I’ve grown these and they continue to be spectacular. I expect I will grow these every year. This is a cross between a Sun Gold and an Amish Paste. If you have grown either, I have your attention now. This is a small, paste shaped tomato, in a brilliant shade of Hare Krishna orange. Krishna means supreme or all-attractive, so I suppose that’s fitting. These can be eaten off the vine (they are my go to garden snack) or cooked up into a great sauce. As you may well be aware, I detest the modern San Marzanos as flavorless usurpers to the real paste tomatoes. Amish Paste is the real deal. They do have seeds (because that’s how we get baby tomatoes!) but the skins are thin and easy to eat, even when cooked. Yay! No peeling tomatoes! They are the first tomato to ripen in the garden and the last one still bearing fruit at the end of the season. They survived last year’s awful tomato weather. They thrived in the year’s 90 degree heat wave. They are a winner.

Green Giant– I was worried about this plant. It looked pretty scraggly and sparse for a long time but I think that may just be its nature. The plants didn’t produce a whole lot of fruit but the tomatoes were big and delicious. They were acidic and sweet like ripe, green tomatoes should be and had a nice texture. They were excellent slicers and every tomato on the plant ripened. My biggest beef with this beefsteak is that they are very susceptible to sun scald. Knowing that, if I were to grow them again, I would prune them less and add a shade cover (I’m lazy and cheap so I usually just use a light weight frost blanket. We also don’t usually get as many very sunny warm days as we did this summer. I don’t know who this plant will produce during one of our foggier summers. It was a little late ripening, so I don’t hold out too much hope for it.

Orange Russian 117– I’ve been trying to grow these for three years but due to the mix-ups and mishaps with the tomato labeling, I don’t think I ever did. I’m glad I tried it one more time. These tomatoes were awesome. Lots of fruit from the plant. They were a fun dual orange striped color. I’m guessing by the size that they would do fine during a foggier summer but I also don’t think the fruit I got are typical of the variety. My fruit seemed smaller and not as heart-shaped as the ones at Tomato Fest. They had little to no sun scald and the vine itself was very hardy. The fruit ranged in size from a standard beefsteak to a smaller, slightly larger than golf ball size fruit. Due to the amount of tomatoes this vine produced, they were a popular gift. I won’t grow these next year just because there are too many types I want to try but I may grow them again, in the future.

Anna Russian– Now this, THIS is what a past tomato should be. Quick, throw out your hard, tasteless San Marzanos and embrace the Anna Russian. I’ve grown this every year and it just impresses me. The plants are early producers of medium to largish, heart-shaped fruit (with some little ones thrown in for good measure) with big taste. This is the plant my sister-in-law most often raided in my garden. Can you say that about San Marzanos? No. The last time I ate a San Marzano off the vine I spat it out and vowed they from the place where the sun now stands, I will grow no more, forever. Why why WHY do we continue to grow these inferior fruits when we could eat Anna Russians (or a number of other tasty tomatoes.) I have heard the argument that once they are canned, they taste fine but if you’ve had canned sauce from tomato with taste, you will understand why I will not even answer to that ridiculous statement. Crap in, crap out. Like its inferior but popular relative, Anna Russian has lots of meat and virtually no seeds. It’s not super juicy but it has enough that the tomato has a proper texture. We eat them on salads, we eat them like apples. I think the fruit I got from Love Apple’s plants are smaller than the fruit from the seeds I get from Tomato Fest but that tends to happen with seeds sourced from different growers. *Anna Russian seeds are on sale now at Tomato Fest! Eeeeeeee!*

Plum Royal- I assume that this is a hybrid variety, based on how the plants grew. They were not marked as a hybrid, which kind of irritates me but buyer beware, I suppose. In their defense,  did not pick up their extensive info sheet, which may have listed this variety as a hybrid. The plants are bright green, determinate bushes, with lots and lots of fruit. I was excited when I saw how loaded with fruit these plants were. The fruit grew early and reached full size quickly. Then, they stopped. They turned a mild shade of red but they never fully ripened. I pulled 20 lbs of unripe fruit two weeks ago and all of it tasted terrible. These tomatoes are exactly what you find in the grocery store. They look good but they taste awful. Needless to say, I won’t be growing these again. I have no link to these as I couldn’t find any good info on the internet.

Michael Pollan– I bought this variety because I love Michael Pollan like 10-year-old girls love Justin Beiber. He makes me swoon. I don’t always agree with him but his writing is terrific. Tomato Mania had said some good things to say about the plants. How the tomato tastes, I will never know. The spindly little Charley Brown plant reached 1.5 feet, had six leaves and produced one tiny, withering fruit, which caused the plant to slump against the side of its cage, where it gasped its dying words, “Tell Michael I’m sorry.” And then it was gone. I guess it was just a bum plant but I’m not willing to try again next year. Did anyone else get a chance to try this variety this year? If you did, give me a shout out and let me know how it tasted.

Juliette– I’m glad we got this little gem. This plant produced copious amounts of bright, red fruit, growing in bunches. The fruit was delicious and I did quite a bit of snacking on it while working in the garden. The small size fruit matured early and produced all summer long. It is a hybrid but I knew that when I got it. I won’t grow it again because I can’t save seeds but I would recommend it to beginner tomato growers. With some pruning, this would be an awesome balcony or porch plant, though it’s probably too big for most window gardens.

White Oxheart– I give up. I have tried to grow White Oxheart every year since I have been growing tomatoes and I have yet to be successful. I’ve been growing through all sorts of conditions so I have to say, it’s not them, it’s me. The Oxheart went the way of the Michael Pollan, but didn’t go as quickly. I tortured it for a long time. I think I will not continue to take up space in my garden with this plant. There are lots of great tomatoes out there that want to live with me.

Paul Robison– This variety is gaining in popularity, thanks to its listing in the Ark of Taste, so I almost didn’t grow it. I did it for the experience and to see if it really is as good as they say. Whomever they are. I’m hoping one day this variety will be the variety people ask if I grow instead of Purple Cherokee. If I had a nickel for every time someone finds out if I grow heirlooms and asks if I grow Purple Cherokee, I would be a rich woman. It takes all of my will not to scream, “That’s a commercial variety. You can do better! You can grow better!” Instead I calmly educate the unsuspecting shopper on the thousands of varieties of heirloom tomatoes which exist and how we have a responsibility to maintain genetic diversity. Then I tell them that there are better tasting and more fun tomatoes out there, Paul Robison being one of them. The fruits are a nice size for salads and they fit perfectly over slices of buffalo mozzarella in caprese salad. The plants were super easy to maintain and I had little to no problems with them. The taste really is all that. Man, were they good. Their listing with Slowfood is not undeserved. I won’t grow these again and not because they aren’t amazing. They are. I won’t be growing these because there are a lot of other varieties that need support. Paul Robison’s listing on the Ark of Taste assures its survival as a variety but for every variety that becomes popular, ten more varieties disappear.

January is the time to start shopping for and planting your tomato seeds. If you haven’t already bought all of the seeds you need, think about growing something totally different this year. Something you haven’t heard of before. Something you have to look up on the internet every time you type its name, because you can’t remember how to spell it.

If you can’t bear to buy a whole pack of seeds for one plant, feel free to stop by our seed swap and cocktails on February 9, at 2:00pm. We can plant a seed in a Dixie cup for you to raise on your balcony. You will not be sorry.

 

The Haps

I’ve been absent. Again. You should expect this by now. I’ve really missed writing and taking photos of Redemption Farms. Hopefully I’ll have some more time in the next year. As I write, I have my first (and hopefully last cold of the year. The good news is, I rarely get sick. The bad news is, when I do, I do it right. If things get rambling, we’ll chalk it up to meds and not blame the editor (since I edit my own work, the editor is also on meds.) Since I haven’t posted anything at all in the last…I don’t know…long time, I think we should catch up to speed. Here’s what you have missed in the last year:

We are living in the house full-time. Do not take this to mean that the house is anywhere near complete but we won’t be getting a call from CPS regarding the way we are keeping the children. We were camped out in one bedroom until recently. Now Dave and I have the smaller room and all three kids share the big bedroom. This is the first time that they have had actual beds with actual mattresses since Dave and I moved in together six years ago. My old house didn’t have room for beds, so on the weekends they were with us they camped on couches and air mattresses. They have been troopers through this whole process. Lesser children would have complained but not our kids. They have been actively involved in making decisions about the rooms, house, animals, pretty much anything they can weigh in on. The overall feeling is things are getting better and we may survive this remodel, after all.

This being our first holiday in this house and our first holiday in any house larger than 900 square feet, we hosted a holiday party in the house, with about 15 people. Everyone fit comfortably and no one fell through any holes in the floor. We had a beer tasting featuring the winter selections from the Eureka Ditch Brewing Company. (Full disclosure: that just means Dad sent me some of his homebrew for Christmas and I shared with everyone, tasting style but it was damn fine beer.)

There’s a lot of drywall going in. The dust has invaded our life and dried out my hands. It’s making me crazy. (Stop right there if you were going to say something about me already being crazy. When crazy is the status quo, more crazy become the new crazy. Kind of like navy is the new black.) Anyway, I can’t handle dry cuticles. I’m also a lip balm addict. There I said it. I’m also not interested in an intervention or seeking treatment. Speaking of, where’s my carmex…

Our meat bunny operation is in full swing. One of these days I will get around to posting pictures of the rabbit tractor which almost caused a divorce. We will call it: the episode in which the irresistible force (Marsha) and the immovable object (Dave) have creative differences. I will say this. I there is ever a tornado, I am heading to the rabbit tractor. We just had a litter of bunnies. They are so cute I could die. It almost makes me want to keep them all. Almost. Chaos wants to eat them all. She found one which had died and ate the whole thing before we could catch her. There was not one scrap left. I thought for sure she wouldn’t eat all the bones and fur but she did. It makes me wonder if wolves eat the whole thing, too. I’ll have to check that out.

The chickens have sustained devastating losses due to predation. We are down to six hens. The culprit is a bobcat. I know this because I saw him. He also tried to get to the bunnies but there were safely locked away in their Ft. Knox box.

We learned how to slaughter our roosters. I have a graphic post written about it, I just have to edit some photos. Yes. Photos. You should know where your food comes from. I found it easier than I thought I would, you know, being vegetarian and all. I plucked and gutted and was convinced it’s much less time consuming to be a herbivore. It certainly needs less clean-up.

The goats are pregnant. How does this happen, you wonder? You see…when a mommy goat and a daddy goat love each other very much…oh you mean how did I let this happen? We have new neighbors with a billy goat. Our hussy girls broke out of their area, then taunted the male until he broke out of his own fence. I was out of town and when I got home, I found all three in the pen together. They were wearing bell bottoms, smoking pot and lecturing us about free love. As all adults know, love is never free. Now they are paying the price with their growing itchy bellies and ravenous appetites. This weekend, we will be building them a predator safe enclosure in which they will rear their young. I’m so nervous. I wasn’t ready for kids. (Get it? Kids? No? Never mind.)

It was a banner year for tomatoes. I didn’t start seedlings because of the impending move so I bought 10 plants from Love Apple Farms plant sale. I planted late and still managed a very good harvest. In fact, I took the last of the fruit off the vines two weeks ago, only because it was starting to frost over at night. I have a tomato variety review coming soon. Maybe. You know how I’ve been lately. Maybe I won’t get to posting it until next year.

Due to lack of time, I canned nothing this year. I’m so sad and I don’t know how I will survive without my 100 lbs of tomatoes processed as crushed tomatoes. The kids were eternally grateful that they didn’t have to help, again.

Happy New Year! We went to Napa last night, to a party at the Westin. Being responsible adults, we planned to leave the car in valet for the evening, bring our flats and walk the half mile to Sarah’s house. After dancing until 2am in my heels, I discovered I forgot my flats. I tried to limp in heels for a while but couldn’t do it. I took off my shoes to find that the sidewalk was bone achingly cold. Fearing I might sustain a hypothermia related injury, Dave so kindly took off his socks and gave them to me. I’m sure it was quite a sight to see me strolling down the streets of Napa in my almost knee-high, men’s Christmas socks. What does this have to do with the ranch? Not a damn thing but it is a funny story and we do have lives away from the ranch, occasionally.

I almost forgot! Our trusty ranch truck (aka the Camry) died. I have replaced it with a Subaru Outback. Go ahead. Make your jokes but know this, I can fit three sheep in the Outback. I’m looking for a good Aussie name for her. Maybe Uluru, since my last name was (kind of still is) Ayers. If you don’t know what this means, please go to Wiki it. Then come back and tell me how clever I am.

I found a source for raw cow’s milk and have started making cheese. I just made my first batch of Monterey Jack cheese and I can hardly wait the two months to try it. I’m not sure if we’re going to try to milk our goats. Maybe just once. Just to torture ourselves. And then I will make feta. Or goat milk cheddar. Or…OK, maybe we will have to milk them twice.

The laundry room is almost done. We have to put the bead board back on the walls and frame the broom/water heater closet but that’s not much. It should only take us, oh I don’t know, maybe 9 or 10 months to get to that? I’m avoiding picking a color for the laundry room. I have option paralysis. I also know that once it’s painted, we will never move the washer and dryer and bad ass sink again to repaint. If I choose a color, It will have to be right. I’ve never said this before but I’m thinking white. Oh wait, it’s also the mud room. White isn’t going to make a bit of sense. Alright, I’m thinking mud color.

We are ready to start building the second pasture. This means we will be renting a skid steer so there’s potential for more photos for girls on tractors. If you don’t know what this means, you can see it here. It is to this day my most read blog post. Maybe this time I’ll find another girl to drive.

That’s all I can remember. My brain is in antihistamine overload. Hopefully I will have some time to post again in the not too distant future. Until then: Happy planting!

WAIT!! I forgot to mention I want to host a seed swap and sow, cocktail party, February 9 at 2pm. If you are reading this, you are invited. The more seeds to swap, the better. Your invitation is coming. RSVP. I hate to run out of snacks.

Playing Chicken

While I write this, I am sitting a house with almost no dry wall, at a picnic table, drinking wine from a wide mouth ball jar (the wide mouth canning jar allows the bouquet to more fully open up,) and I am listening to the happy peeps of the chicks in my (future) living room. What!? Not drinking out of real wine glasses? Oh, how low have I sunk? You’re right. There’s no excuse; I own proper wine glasses but I don’t know where they are boxed and packed. I should just go out and get more. Oh wait…You were more concerned about the flock of fowl in my humble abode? Me too. That’s why I’m drinking from a Ball jar. The story starts like this…

Our beloved middle child was turning 13 in May (a Taurus for those of you who are wondering and now sagely nodding your heads.) Her birthday is the day after my Dad, which is extremely convenient for me because I have never had a memory for birthdays. Anyway, I was prepared for this one because she wanted something that I was also excited about. She wanted chickens. Miss Moo has a vision of being an egg entrepreneur, an eggpreneur if you would. I fully support her vision. So for her birthday, I arranged for us to go to Peaceful Valley Farm, to see our friend Pam. Pam runs a small hatchery and in the springtime, has a pretty constant flow of juvenile chickens. She helped Moo pick out eight fine chickens, some sexed, some not but all in all, a gorgeous group of chickens.

Here, Moo is releasing the flock into the chicken duplex and the surrounding yard:

And here is the flock checking out the berry bed. We have since used hog panels to seal off the bed, after the tiny dinosaurs decimated it:

Almost immediately, tragedy struck when one of the chickens was murdered. The victim pictured below, was a slow moving chicken of questionable parentage.

The main suspect is Chamberlain. Chamberlain is a frizzle and HE is a HE. He is frequently called by the other name for roosters:

Chamberlain is named after the evil Skeksis from the Dark Crystal. Pleases see the photo below. That’s the face of a killer if I’ve ever seen one. Both of them:

Chamberlain has been sentenced to the death penalty but is still sitting on death row until I learn how best to kill and gut him.

We have been living in relative peace and chicken harmony since the arrival of the girls (and Chamberlain.) The horror of the murder quickly passed. All was status quo until a week ago, when the CEO of Smart Chick Eggs (a subsidiary of Moo Enterprises) got her father to buy her a copy of Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. For four hours she looked through the book. She bookmarked pages of breeds she is interested in. She became…obsessed. Then she did the thing that any Smart Chick would do, if she wanted more creatures. She took the book to her Auntie. We frequently joke that Auntie is one bad decision away from being a hoarder. Auntie, LOVES to assist others in acquiring new creatures. Within two days, we went from having a modest flock of seven (soon to be six) future egg layers to 16 (soon to be 15) mix and matched, sometimes gorgeous, sometimes ugly-ass chickens. The new additions are: two more frizzle hens of unknown parentage, two Miller Fleurs, a hen and a rooster (a super cute french variety), two more Amercauna chicks (a respectable egg laying breed) about three weeks old, two, two day old Silkie chickens with tiny afros, and three showgirls. Have you ever seen showgirls. Not the awful movie staring the formerly cute but nerdy Jessie from Saved By The Bell. I’m talking about a freaky-show variety of chicken-chicken-turkey crosses. They are by far the ugliest things EVER! When I named Chamberlain after the Skeksi, I was wrong. These things are Skeksis in feather boas. I don’t have any photos of ours because I have been busy but please enjoy this photo stolen from Backyard Chicken’s website:

It’s the Chinese Crested of the chicken world. Auntie could not resist these insanely unattractive creatures so we now have three of them. Two are silkies, one has normal feathers but still lacks the neck plumage. The only thing these chickens have going for them is they are very personable. Like the hairless cat, if humans don’t like them, they have no chance at survival. Unlike the hairless cat, they are still edible in polite society, though I imagine it takes a bit of doing to pluck one. I am willing to spend the time if they are not nice.

So now, I have chickens housed everywhere. Being the get of dinosaurs, generations back, they have a very complicated social structure in which they torture each other to death, if any member looks different. Actually, it’s a lot like middle school. (That sounds like the start of a joke. What does middle school and a velociraptor have in common?) The youngest chickens can’t be housed with the older established flock because the older chickens kill them. The Silkies can’t be house with the regular feathered chickens because the regular chickens kill them. The Bantams and the full sized chickens can’t cohabitate because…you see where this is going. We have a pending housing crisis here at the farm. For now, the four youngest chickens, the Amercaunas and the tiny silkie chicks are living in a large dog kennel in the living room where they have access to the heat lamp. The seven (yes, seven!) motley crew chickens are living in Chaos’s wire kennel inside the chicken duplex, where the showgirls refuse to mingle with the frizzles and Mille Fleurs, who are so so scared, they take turns hiding their heads under each others’ wings. It’s a mess. And to top it all off, Smart Chick, Moo has been at her Auntie’s for the last two days, leaving her chickens to fend for themselves. (I’m feeding and watering them but their cage needs to be cleaned and I know just the 13 year old for the job.)

So where do we go from here? I’m not sure. Soon, I am going to have to figure out legitimate long term housing for these things. I have watched the way the older chickens look at them and I can tell, there’s no way they are going to live in peace, love and KFC. I don’t want to put them in a tiny stinky coop that needs cleaning and the duplex yard is already maxed out as far as how many chicken the land can support before it becomes a sand lot of chicken destruction. I guess we will have to build a chicken tractor to run next to the rabbit tractor (oh by the way, we have meat bunnies now, more on that later) and I will be sending Smart Chick Eggs a bill for services rendered, itemized under janitorial services and improvement of facilities. Let the business lesson begin.

For now, I’m looking for the quart size wine glasses. Oops, I mean Ball Jars.

How Did You Find This Blog?

In the last week the following search terms led people to this blog:

#1 subway tile chair rail– makes sense, due to the subway tile we are using in the front bathroom.

#2 warm gray grout– Again, the front bathroom is a decorating win.

#3 floppy eared goat– Fin and Clarice both appreciate your fandom.

#4 half life arg– I have no clue what this means and even less of a clue why this blog comes up under that search but if you are still reading, welcome! I hope this is what you were looking for.