Friday, December 31, 2010

It's an ill wind...

And it was too. We had a grand-daddy of a wind storm a couple of weeks ago. I'm too lazy to deal with getting photos on Blogger, but they're all on Flickr. I have a widget that uploads there easily, thank goodness.

It had, of course, been raining and raining...and just for a change, raining some more. The ground hereabouts is completely saturated. We've got pools of water all over our woods, one seasonal creek is going strong and we could probably dig a channel for another. The north side of the driveway is yet another creek. Septic leach field has had standing water over it--the Better Half dug out the seasonal creek and that seems to have fixed that problem, thank goodness. The well overfloweth too, which means our water is potentially contaminated by the nearby leach field. So. Very wet. Then the wind.

As I was putting the Spawn to bed, we heard a great many thumps and bangs--branches and pine cones falling on the roof, I think. There were also a few power flickers, which had her freaked out. She's not big on the whole darkness thing just now. But the power stayed on and she eventually settled down and went to sleep. This only lasted until...10:30 or so, when the power went down and stayed down. I managed to get her back to sleep, but only until 5:30. That's when she really lost the plot about the darkness. Hooray for keeping flashlights all over the house.

Once it got light, we made plans to head for warmer and lighter areas (gotta have a wood stove in whatever house we buy!). But...flashing lights out at the end of the driveway. There was a large tree down across the road and the power lines. The police said it had stopped sparking an hour ago though and we were allowed to go in search of breakfast. That plus an expedition to the local shopping mall occupied a decent chunk of the morning. Power finally came back on at 10:30 or 11:00 that morning.

Once we got back and turned on/plugged in everything that needed it, we decided to see what else had happened in the night. My, oh my, oh my. Half a dozen sizable trees were down in the pasture, three or four in the woods, and a big maple in the side yard. I wouldn't even try to count the smaller trees (smaller being defined as of a size to be cut down by the Better Half). Oh, and the tree across the road was from our place too.

A lot of the trees that fell were standing in completely saturated ground, which was probably why they fell. There was one deadfall and the maple was diseased. We were lucky, since no structures were damaged and no animals were hurt. I certainly hope that was it for this winter though.

All this prompted the Better Half to get a 40 cubic yard container dropped in the front for the hauling away of brush. Merry Christmas--it was delivered the Thursday before and will be going back full on Monday. I don't even want to think about what all the brush hauling has done to the pasture. And there's enough left for another container, maybe two. There are times when there's something to be said for urban living. We're not moving though. We ARE planning to look for our own property in the winter and will reject out of hand any places as waterlogged as this one.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I learned today

I learned that octopuses have three hearts. They apparently also have lots of extra neurons in their tentacles. Neat trick, that. I also learned that Jupiter now has sixty-three moons! I am just thankful I didn't have to read *all* the names to the Spawn. I would have, but we'd already done the names of most of the other moons in the solar system. A big thank you to the Spawn for getting me started.

Oh, and I also learned that sheep do indeed fit themselves through relatively small spaces, no matter what the Better Half might think. But they're very susceptible to being lured back into the pasture with sheep crack (otherwise known as a handful of grains).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Halloween that wasn't.

The Spawn has shown almost no interest in the whole Halloween thing so far. She did like making jack-o-lanterns. Any opportunity to draw on an unusual surface is a sure-fire winner. Pumpkin pie interests her also. But dressing up, not at all. The Better Half is theorizing that she doesn't really see the point. She pretends all the time and doesn't need fancy clothing. Fancy clothing is fun, but usually unrelated to the pretend of the moment. I guess she might figure it sounds like Halloween is a day when the rest of the world joins her in pretending. Whatever the case may be, no costume. We may go to some low-key event so she can see other costumes (which would probably cause her to finally want to dress up) or we may just say the heck with it for this year. Maybe we'll just stay home and make a gluten-free pumpkin pie.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Next year, really!

That's the way I feel about our garden. Each year we've faced...challenges. This year was no exception. The weather plus the timing of our move plus the need for fencing and such made it impossible to get stuff in the ground for a summer garden. So we planted for fall and winter...sort of. Some stuff didn't make it in or not until late. We kind of missed summer entirely, so everything that made it in "on time" was probably about a month late. It gets a bit demoralizing. Next year the Spawn and I are in charge and hopefully that will be a good thing.

On the plus side, we discovered the best green beans ever and found a decent variety of carrots (thanks to the Spawn who liked the name). Assuming all goes well, we have some overwintering stuff--broccoli, kale, cabbage--that will make for good eating in the early spring. We probably have a couple of months worth of carrots and beets in the ground. And we have a plan for getting the ground ready to plant when spring does come. Chicken tractors are a good thing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


On the way home from the park today, the Spawn started asking questions.

"Why is grass?"
"Why is grass what?"
"Why is grass grass and not something else?"
"That's its nature." Note stock answer used when trying to end a line of questioning so I can concentrate not getting us killed on the road.
"What if grass looked like something else?"
"Maybe it wouldn't be grass any more."
"What if grass looked like something else but it was still really grass?"

Gods. What are the questions going to be in ten or fifteen years?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thoughts on Bikram yoga

Yesterday I had my first and last Bikram yoga class. I'd had my doubts about the style, since I don't really do well with heat, but I allowed myself to be seduced by a very good deal. For me it turned out to be not such a good deal after all.

Bikram is otherwise known as hot yoga. The classes are held in a room that's heated to 40C (100-105F). If it's not hot, it's not Bikram. The theory is that the heat allows students to stretch more deeply, that it helps prevent injury, and that it helps with stress and tension release. Hum. Right. The very best yoga teacher I ever had said a couple of things that I find I now agree with completely. What the heat is more likely to do is allow a person to overextend themselves. If you force your body to do something before it is really ready, you achieve nothing. Also, in a good yoga practice, your body generates its own internal heat. External heat is unnecessary.

A Bikram yoga session consists of two breathing exercises and twenty-six asanas. It's the same two and twenty-six in the same order every time. No allowance is made for varying things based on your needs at the moment. There are days when I feel like all I want to do is spinal twists. Other days I need some extra energy and a set of sun salutations is just right. If I had to do the exact same asanas day in and day out, I would not be doing yoga.

Other aspects of the class turned me off, but I don't know if they're Bikram specific or just bad luck with that studio. The instructor talked constantly. It was like listening to an auctioneer turned drill sergeant. She talked about meditation, but there was definitely no meditative feel to the class. It was more like a yoga-robics class. She also spoke of how anyone who came in and did a Bikram class six days a week for a month would change their lives for the better. Maybe so. But I would be willing to bet that you could say that of pretty nearly any sort of exercise. Commit and DO it every day for a month and, unless you've chosen competitive shuffleboard or something, you'll see changes for the better. This would be particularly the case if you choose some sort of mind-body exercise--yoga, martial arts, qi gong....

At the end of a good yoga session, your body should feel USED. It should feel as though every single muscle in your body has been stretched and worked. Your joints should feel loose and warm. You should sleep well. After yesterday's session, I had a bad headache, lots of lovely nausea (to the extent that I could neither eat nor drink for quite some while) and I haven't slept so poorly in a very long time.

I guess I'll get back to my search for a good yoga teacher here in the 'Couv. I want someone who teaches Vinyasa yoga, who is calm and centered in themselves and in their teaching, who doesn't over-instruct or put me to sleep. There must be one somewhere in town.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Slight change in plans....

Well, they're finally getting started on the environmental cleanup out in the front "pasture". We've not been able to USE it as pasture, since the whole cleanup issue has been hanging fire all this time. It turns out they're going to dig a honking big hole in the ground, make one pile of clean dirt and one of contaminated. The contaminated stuff gets turned once or twice a week for at least a month until it's clean. Then it all gets put back in the hole and sort of tamped down. Any water they come across gets put into a...I think it was a 5500 gallon tank to be aerated and cleaned. It then gets dumped somewhere on the property (not in the creek).

In other words, lots of space, lots of time, no chance of using that pasture this year. Boo. So. The Soay wether and the two ramlings will become tasty meat in the freezer. The two goats will go back to being tethered, which they won't like. It does allow us to put them where the blackberry particularly needs eating...and they won't be overgrazing the pasture. That basically halves the pasture population. This is a very good thing.

It probably won't be worth fencing the rest of the pasture area (that's being excavated) for next year. Too much time and money needed for that project. Pigs, still probably a go for spring and hopefully chickens and turkeys again with better raccoon proofing. We'll probably go for dumber than snot but fast growers where the poultry is concerned. I'm forgetting the variety of pig the Better Half was interested in. It's a heritage breed and all that good stuff though.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Things that make me sad....

The Spawn and I went to a local park with a splash area this afternoon. A good time was had, I must say. There was running and splashing and climbing and being sea otters "forgotting to wrap ourselves up in seaweed." But there was another little girl, perhaps a bit younger than the Spawn, who was not having such a good time. Her paternal unit kept following her around forbidding her to do stuff. Don't run. Don't splash. Don't climb. Ye gods, why did they even bother! It made me feel a little sad on her behalf.

Later we went to visit the "crayon store", a.k.a. Young Art. It's a horribly overpriced art store catering to kids (or their parents). Lots of cool stuff, really, but usually available elsewhere for half the cost. Fun place to look around though and they really want you to buy, so they demo everything for you. They also have art classes for ages three and up. Maybe it's just me, but the idea of teaching art technique to a three-year-old, with an eye to "finishing a piece of artwork each class" doesn't sound like much fun. I was assured they don't assign a subject though. Right. Maybe it works for some three-year-old kids, but not the one I live with. It just seems like a really good way to kill creativity in the name of creativity. And that makes me sad too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The games we play.

Sometimes they're great fun, but they can be...tiring. We have, thankfully passed beyond the psychoanalysis game. We've also, again thankfully, passed through the dirty, smelly toilets game. Now we have different games.

Game number one is the dialogue game. Say we spot a butterfly on a flower. The Spawn wants to know what the butterfly is saying. And what the flower is saying. And back and forth until the conversation comes to a close, which isn't always as easy as it might seem.

Game number two is to have me or the Better Half "do" something. This means we have to provide the voice for some...thing. Sometimes we "do" a stuffed animal or puppet. Sometimes we "do" other things. Recently we went to a park and the Spawn realized she'd not brought an animal with her. We resorted to "doing" a goose feather. Today she was playing in the sprinklers and wanted me to "do" my pants, which had gotten rather damp from the water. She will often provide the voice for some animal, plant, or other herself, which can rather confuse the uninitiated.

And, of course, the eternal why. Not a game, per se, but equally fatiguing at times. Why is it a beautiful day? Why do we have to wear clothes when we go out and about? Why does that taste good/bad? Why is it cloudy? Why are you happy the blueberries are ripe? My version of "just because" has become "that's its nature" (in answer to such questions as "why does Caruso (the cat) sleep all the time?").

All sometimes fun, but sometimes I want to run gibbering into the woods for a while.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My daughter, the llama.

DSC_0014.NEF, originally uploaded by Sue_Solberg.

The Spawn has taken to being a llama quite a lot lately. And, of course, llamas spit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lessons learned

Well, it's been almost four months since we moved to this house/property. They've been hectic. Fraught even, at least in spots. But we're still plugging along and may even have learned a few things.

Infrastructure first! Acquiring animals before there's fencing and/or shelter for them is not a good idea. It leads to greater hecticness and fraughtitude.

Railing against the weather does not make it improve. This is one of the joys of the lifestyle we have chosen. The weather DOES make a difference and there's still not much we can do about it. Especially without infrastructure (hopefully we'll have some raised beds in the garden for next spring, for instance).

Never, ever underestimate the ingenuity of sheep and goats. I think if they really wanted into Ft. Knox, they'd find a way. Grape vines are a snap in comparison. So is four foot range fencing, or so the alpha ewe seems to think.

Never, ever underestimate the ingenuity and determination of raccoons. They are pernicious creatures. I don't care how "cute" they are, they are far too fond of poultry as a meal.

You can lead a child to the woods, but you can't make her walk. The Spawn doesn't much care for our woods, except as a source of dainties. She'll happily eat salmonberries, thimbleberries (yumma, yumma, yumma), or blackberries. She will NOT happily walk back there to collect them. Ah well.

There's other stuff we've learned too, but it's pretty small, all things considered. Llamas are very undiscriminating when it comes to proving their masculinity. Roosters are not fond of competition. You CAN stuff day-old chicks under a broody hen and have her raise them (until the raccoons get her). Trees do not dispose of themselves after being felled. And selling firewood won't pay for the cost of felling and chopping the darned things.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

An idea whose time has come!

I've known people who were metaphorical pencil sharpeners, but never one who was a literal and professional pencil sharpener.

Though I can't say I'll be sending him any of my hard earned cash.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aren't we organized?

This is probably our most official garden plan yet. It's a mess, but better than just throwing things into the ground at random, which is how the first half of the garden went in. Anything that gets pulled out at the end of the summer--all the squash, for instance--will get cover crops of some sort so the beds won't be totally flattened by the winter rains. We shall see how it goes.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Had is the past tense of have.

And we had a dog up until last night. She was out for a run, got through the fence and ended up on the road. Not a terribly busy road, but when people drive there, they drive pretty fast. Exit one dog. We will not be getting another, given how much having one, even an outdoor one, impacted the Better Half's health.

Rest in peace, Almond Roca Mocha. May you catch plenty of rabbits in the dogly afterlife.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It never rains...

but it pours. And how it has poured. I've been told we've already had our yearly allotment of rain with a rain year that begins in October. Of course, we theoretically have our three driest months ahead of us, but it does go to show it's been raining an AWFULLY BLOODY LOT!

There is standing water all over our property. Some of it appears to be moving from place to place via mole tunnels. That's my theory anyhow. Puddles have just appeared by having water suddenly start flowing out of the ground. The moles have just got to be peeved. Serves 'em right.

The ground is wet enough that the riding mower got stuck. This when the Better Half's back is already out from putting in fencing (and fencing is tricky when it's raining and raining and raining). It's going to stay stuck for a few days. The truck got stuck once, but luckily there was someone operating a small backhoe sort of machine here that day. Would that I had thought to get out the video camera for that one. A large delivery van got stuck in the mud too and dug us four nice little seasonal ponds.

Turns out we have two soil types here. One is pretty heavy clay and poorly drained. Of course, the most convenient garden location is this lovely clay soil. There is a zone of theoretically well drained soil that is, slowly, turning into a garden. The fun there is that right at this moment, you can dig down about 30cm and hit water. That's an awfully high water table.

We've had numerous trees lose limbs since we moved in. One tree that I'd rather hoped we could save ended up being a water casualty. I think it was a plum tree and it just gently keeled over after a day of very heavy rain. I'm guessing the combination of VERY wet soil and mole activity probably destabilized it. Why couldn't it have been one of the weed trees--a cherry or an alder or a maple?

Gotta wonder what's going on with the septic tank too. You'll never get me to believe you can have an effective leach field with a water table that high. Here's hoping things dry out before we have yuck coming up our drains.

I guess this is all what I get for wanting to live somewhere with more rain than Arizona.

On the plus side, we have Siberian miner's lettuce growing wild all over the place, in addition to dandelions. We can have greens even if the garden drowns. We've been harvesting salmon berries for several weeks. Not that I've gotten to eat many of them. The Spawn loves them and has thus far managed to keep up with the number of ripe ones we find. Once we have a few warm, sunny days in a row though, she may leave a few for me. Next up will be the thimble berries. Then, of course, blackberry of several types. And I've identified at least a couple of filbert trees, so we'll get to fight the squirrels for those later on.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oy, more animals!

Okay, only one more at the moment. We just acquired a livestock guardian dog (a Great Pyrenees). Her name is Mocha, which is short for Almond Roca Mocha, apparently. She stands about as tall as the Spawn, and outweighs her by three or four times. Nonetheless, the Spawn is very excited that we have a dog.

The llama is less excited. He intends to protect the goats from Mocha at all costs. Llamas make a truly peculiar noise when they're alarmed (do a search on Youtube for "llama alarm call" and imagine that noise live and coming from a frothing, drooling llama). Mocha is oblivious to it all. Hopefully A.J. will eventually figure out that Mocha is not a marauding dog.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The other new additions

This rooster was acquired over a week ago, but we didn't give him a name until we thought there was a decent chance he'd survive. So now he's George Washington Rooster.

And two very skittish goats who just arrived today. One of them was literally spinning on her horizontal axis trying to get out of the collar and lead. Unfortunately, I didn't have the video camera handy. They don't have names yet. They probably will not be eaten, so they will eventually get names. Not until after they stop treating us like wolves in the fold, however.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Meet A.J.

Yes, he's a llama. A livestock guardian llama, no less. He's only been on the property for about 24 hours, so he's still a bit shy. The Spawn is thrilled. Her very own llama!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ah, the joys of rural life!

Okay, so that was slightly facetious. The Spawn and I departed for the local farm store and library (sequential, not simultaneous) this morning. There were enough chicks, goslings, etcetera to make the farm store a success and the library contained books, which is also a good thing. The return home was where things went awry.

We turned into the driveway to find three LARGE trucks parked there. Missing was the Better Half's car (he went to see a man about a llama). It turned out that, without any warning whatsoever, the local utility company decided to stop by and upgrade one of the power lines and install a sodium vapour light on the power pole.

This was not *wholly* unexpected as both of these things were supposed to happen at some point. It was just Murphic in the extreme for it to happen when no one was home. So computers were running in the house. Hooray for the lowly UPS. Everything ended up shutting down gracefully enough to not leave the smell of smoke in the house. Well, except for the smell generated by my sotto voce comments. They also tripped the fuse for the pump, which was a trifle more difficult to fix. When the Better Half finally returned, he managed to figure out which of the black boxes in the pump house actually WAS the fuse.

Everything is back to normal again, barring my nerves, which are still jangled. The Spawn and I ended up being blocked into the house with no power and no water...right at lunch time. And getting food into a preschooler is no light matter. Thank goodness for frozen strawberries.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of large containers for water is now a high priority rather than a medium priority. We now know how to get the pump running again when the fuse trips. A generator would definitely be a good thing before next winter. And Clark County Public Utilities does not get a Christmas card this year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One of our native plants

Just love these flowers! They are in constant motion with every breeze. Western meadowrue is the common name--Thalictrum occidentale if you're feeling official. We have a small patch growing by the creek.

And a closer view of those same flowers. These, I believe, are the male flowers. As with birds, the female flowers of this species are less showy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flora and Fauna

To date, we've seen far, far too many slugs and snails. Those are going to be an issue when things finally dry out enough to get the garden started. We've seen one small rabbit, much to the delight of the Spawn. We've seen quite a few frogs and at least one toad. There are small fish of some sort in the stream, along with snails and water striders. We have seen signs of raccoons in the form of tracks and droppings. There are a good few trees that have been shaped by beavers. In the woods, there are plants that appear to have been nibbled by something, but I can't be sure if it's deer or rabbits. Birds, lots and lots of birds. There's a blue jay with a nest RIGHT outside the Spawn's window. We got to watch a red-headed woodpecker pecking away on a dead tree trunk. Millipedes, at least one spider the EXACT colour of a dandelion. Lots of fauna of one sort or another.

With regards flora, lots there too. Blackberry and salmonberry are doing their best to reclaim the whole property. That should be fun. Bamboo by the stream--one of my favourite spots so far. There are more apple trees than I'd realized. I'm contemplating the insanity of actually trying to thin the apples and sock 'em to get usable stuff. The trees have not been, for many, many years pruned to a good size. There are supposed to be filberts in the woods. It'd be nice if I could figure out which ones and see if we can beat the squirrels to some of them. I've acquired a book on wildflowers and have identified skunk cabbage, moonwort and swamp buttercup so far. There are many, many bleeding hearts all over the woods and around the house. There is, to my delight, a lilac bush.

All the various flowers are prime targets for the flower removal machine that is the Spawn. We never come back from a walk without a handful or pocketful of flowers which get stuffed into a canning jar full of water. This is her version of a bouquet. I'm attempting to drill into her that you don't pick ALL of any given type of flower. So far we have lip service but no actual compliance. Luckily we have a lot of most of what's blooming....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

We're in!

Oy, but where IS everything. Even more than the stupid packing, I hate the subsequent constant search for the basic necessities of life. Okay, found the cast iron skillets. Found the roasting pans. Found the good knives. We can eat off the bare table with our fingers, no? And clothes might be kind of nice one of these days too....

It rained a lot on the day of the move. So we have lots of nice mud in the house. Don't know where the vacuum is though. That's odd, really, since it's not something that fits into a nice generic box. Maybe it's still at the old house. That's where I suspect the good olive oil is too. Luckily we still have a couple of weeks to go on the lease there. We'll be able to retrieve the various things still there. Like the chickens.

The landlords seem to have missed a bet in cleaning here. Apparently the place was overrun with mice before it went vacant. There seems to be some mouse spoor in the ducts somewhere. We shall be getting that corrected post haste.

Overall though, things are good. Back online, as you see. The cat has not been eaten by any of the wildlife yet. Long may that continue. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Signs of spring.

Took a break from packing yesterday to go to the park with the Spawn and the Better Half. We saw this little tangle of three garter snakes sunning themselves on the edge of the path. It was particularly cool because we'd just the day before been to the library where we checked out a book on garter snakes.

And what the heck, here's a fun shot of the Spawn herself. She's a little too fast for my pocket camera or there'd have been more of her in the photo.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A short tour of the new homestead!

I should be packing or watching Diana so Chris can pack. Instead, I just uploaded such photos as we have of the new place. But...I'm too lazy to upload them twice, so below is the link to the Flickr set. There will be more photos, I feel sure. These were just for reference when we first looked at it. Interior pictures will have to wait until the interior is fixed up.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chest beating and navel gazing

As the title says...and if you're not in the mood for reading self-examination, please move along.

I've been feeling both excited and terrified by the upcoming move. Yes, there's the stuff aspect, but that's not the terrifying thing. Ten years ago, the Better Half and I got married. We were living the big city life. We traveled a good amount. We had, if not all the comforts, at least a sufficiency of them. Now we're moving into a double-wide trailer to raise pigs.

This is something we've discussed and agreed upon, so I can't and won't claim I haven't been told. But it's still frightening. Having grown up in a culture that places so much value on success in the rat race and the accumulation of bigger and better stuff, it's hard to totally turn my back on that. I've never been on more than the periphery of it all, but there's an attitude that permeates everything.

Most of the people we know are happy for us and are themselves only at the periphery. This helps. Some of them may wish to buy animal flesh from us. Family has largely not suggested we have our heads examined. This helps too. But still. There's this nagging feeling we're depriving the Spawn of all the opportunities she ought to have. Rural life, even semi-rural and within acceptable reach of a decent sized metropolis is NOT the same as urban life. Friends her age will necessarily be further away. Exciting classes at the museum or the zoo will not be something we do very often. We aren't likely going to be taking her on any trips 'round the world. Having livestock will make it difficult to even visit our widely scattered family, who can no better afford to visit us than we them.

Yet I think given how things seem to be heading, what we are doing is the right thing. And the food will be better. But it's still hard.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

*wild cheering*

We're moving! Now we have to pack and dismantle fencing and stuff. Not so fun. But...we're moving! Huzzah!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Will the dream come true?

So, we may be moving soon. We've been looking for a different place to rent (eventually reality should strike even the Portland area real estate market, right?) and may, perhaps, possibly have found something. We need to get our credit report to the potential landlords and then they'll make their decision.

It's an interesting place. The bad first. It's small. It's actually not a "real" house, it's a double-wide trailer. If you've ever seen any house I've lived in, there are lots of books about. Those will have to be stored if we move into this place. There's a fast-running stream just by the house. That'll need fencing ASAP to keep wandering livestock and children out. There are apparently all sorts of critters about. Bears, say, or bobcats. Coyotes. This will make raising poultry a bit trickier. There are a couple of structures on the property that are...not in good shape. We're talking don't go in there they're death traps sort of not good shape. Those will apparently be torn down at some point, but no telling when.

On the good's eight acres. A lot of it is wooded, but there's enough clear space for a decent garden. A decent garden by my standards is one which will provide for a major portion of our large vegetable consumption. The owners of the property don't seem to mind chickens, turkeys, whatever else we want to try raising. They do want a share of the blueberries, but I think we can have all the grapes and mulberries. The apple trees are old and may not produce terribly wonderful apples. We can have them though. That stream, it's a salmon run and there are supposed to be trout in there too. As well as the death trap structures, there is one BIG, weather-tight structure/shed sort of thing in which we could store all the stuff that won't fit in the house. There are three other small sheds that would be good for things that don't mind a little damp from the bottom. It's MUCH quieter than our current place, which is on a major street.

We shall see. Maybe we'll be packing madly for the next few weeks. Maybe we'll be digging in here and making the best of this place. Further updates as events warrant.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A walk in the 'hood.

The Spawn and I had a fun walk the other day. We went about a block and a half (each way) and it took a good forty-five minutes. We walked to the end of the driveway, where there was a mud puddle. Stomp! In front of the neighbor's house, we stopped to watch someone collect their mail. Next stop, moss on the sidewalk, which needed to be prodded, stroked, and examined minutely. Then the Spawn wanted to pick some red berries. A little further on, there was a puddle with a bit of water still in it. It needed to be stomped in and to have pebbles thrown in it. There was a crack in the road leading from the puddle--perfect for walking along. Oooo, pine trees. The Spawn looked up at them and exclaimed that there must be THOUSANDS of pine cones up there. Then came the roots of some cottonwoods; she likes to pretend they are computers on which she and I can type to each other. Just a bit further along is the puddle by which we once found raccoon tracks. Only car tracks this time, I'm afraid, and some tracks of the Spawn. At the end of the street is a gate, where the Spawn deposited the red berries. She said she wanted to go back and get more for her "collection". But wait, is there a big mushroom in that yard? No, just a leaf, but there were other small mushrooms to be found. And we think they might be irises coming up under one of the trees. Back across the street and she had to check and see if some rocks were part of the street or loose and ready to be thrown in the puddle. They were part of the street. Short discussion of what a street is made of. Then she spotted some daffodils blooming across the street. She had to touch each one twice. Back over to the red berries. We started back down the street when she noticed some of the grass was different from the rest--much taller, for one thing. She put down the berries in order to pick some of the grass. Hmmm...time to go home, she says. First though, there are some small white flowers which also need to be picked. And one final stomp of the mud puddle and we made it home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Young Disease Vectors

Yes, that's one of the things I hadn't really thought about before becoming a parent, at least not in any real and serious way. Having a child means adding to your household a little disease vector. The Spawn catches whatever's going around and, with great generosity, shares with us. The latest has been a particularly unpleasant GI bug of some sort. Lots of vomiting has been done. On Monday (thank goodness for holidays) there were ten loads of laundry needing to be done. On the plus side, ALL the sheets in the house are freshly washed, as are ALL the towels. Sunday night was not fun.

The other and related thing I wish I'd known was that if your child IS vomiting, they're going to be running for comfort right beforehand. That means Mom catches a lot of half digested food and drink. Probably wouldn't have changed my mind about the whole spawning thing, but it would have been nice to know. Daddy doesn't get nearly his share of precious bodily fluids, though he certainly does his share of cleaning up after these little incidents. Every twenty to thirty minutes in the early part of Sunday night, in fact.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How much land?

Argh! In some ways, life was a lot nicer when we just went to the store to buy our food. It was simpler, at least. The food wasn't as good, mind you, but it was simpler. We're renting a house at the moment, where we have a phenomenal/loopy landlord who's let us do chickens and goats and turkeys and tear up part of the yard for a garden. There are too many trees to make the whole thing really work though and it's TOO NOISY.

We'll probably be here another year though, barring some miracle. In the meantime, we've started trying to figure out how much land we really need. We have several scenarios, the simplest of which is to have sufficient garden space to grow most of our own veggies, plus a three plot rotation, plus some fruit trees, blueberry bushes, and laying hens on the fallow plots. That's still quite a bit of land we're looking at there.

Then there's the idea of attempting to raise/sell on Craigslist animals for meat. This dramatically increases the amount of land needed. The Better Half is actually taking a farming class at the moment in an attempt to determine if this is even feasible or if it's a pipe dream. I keep thinking pipe dream and yet...there are people doing this sort of thing. Maybe they aren't making any money but then again, even breaking even plus property taxes would be a good thing.

Meanwhile, we hold on, gardening in possibly three different places this year, having chickens in our woods, possibly way to many chickens for a brief while this summer, and scheming. How much land do we need...?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Yesterday's sunrise

DSC_0014.NEF, originally uploaded by Sue_Solberg.

We had a really lovely sunrise yesterday, thanks to a cold and mostly cloudless night.