Friday, December 6, 2013

A Straight Line

My mind simply won't stay in one place today.  Not that it does, but today it seems to be on a march.  It is headed out and I cannot keep it on track. It's traveling a straight line, headed over there some place.   I am trying to get myself organized to finish up the last of the christmas presents.  Almost all of the stocking stuffers are wrapped.  We have a tradition in our family of giving what we call table presents.  It was something I came up with when the kids were little to keep the excitement of the day going a little longer.  So, even after all the presents were open, there was that last present waiting.... a small box, sitting next to their plate.  Not to be opened until we sat down to have our christmas dinner.  Well, those are wrapped.

Then had to take a break to do the chores.  While breaking ice and carrying water to the horses, I tried really hard to think about the four presents I have left to make.  But my mind went on, and I was actually trying to figure out the spring projects..... what do I need the most?   The insulated trough cover that I read about in Mother Earth News.  Bigger coop for the chickens?  I want a small barn so badly it hurts.  I want to build my manual hay baler.

Then I tried really hard to think about those christmas presents.... I did.

Then I thought about all of the wonderful pictures I see on other women's blogs.  I need to spend more time with the camera.  I have to make myself do that.  It is amazing to me how many women are entering the field of agriculture.  Also inspiring.  We think about different crops, different methods, different applications.  It's like the opposite of Pandora's Box.  We've cracked this thing open and all of this wonderfulness just keeps coming.  Do I really need to blog about this stuff?  Do I have anything to add to the conversation?

Four presents!  How long can four presents take, for Pete's sake!!!  the one gift is a bag..... How long can that take?  Well, I never use a pattern so I end up making a pattern for every one........ that's probably stupid.

I wonder how many women are in agriculture now.  Does the USDA recognize the need to support this new effort?  Does the USDA know what a woman is?  Do they know that there are farms that grow stuff other then corn and soybeans  or cows and pigs?  Do they realize that lamb is one of the most expensive meats on the market, but a farm can turn over a lamb in nine months versus a calf that takes two years?

Once I have a present for Micah, Michal, James and Bevin, I am done!!!  Then I need to start on those insulated curtains so I can see if I can hold down the heating costs this winter.  I wonder if I can wing it or if I should try to do a pattern first... it's just curtains.  I should just be able to go off measurements.  I need to go through the fabric again and see if I have enough muslin for backing.  I think I have enough of the floral print for the curtain front......  and the more money that I save, the more I will have to put into the farm this next spring.  I should figure out a way to build the barn incrementally.  I can do that.

How I love this little farm!  I think I should plant more flowers this next spring.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Suspended Animation

I have been blessed with decent weather lately.  Here it is mid November and the frosts are intermittent and we have had no snowfall so far.  Our temperatures are still hitting fifty degrees with regularity.  I should be in a flurry of activity.  Well, I was in a flurry of activity, but my old injury of three herniated disks is letting me know that it is still there.  I am moving much slower now.  Barely perceptible to the casual on looker.

I know to most people holes are not exciting.  But I had finished all of the big ones.... REALLY!!!!.... they were finished!  and all I had left were eight .... count 'em eight smaller holes for  supporting corners.  All eight are one third to half way down.  But they aren't finished and here I am moving at roughly the same rate as a three toed tree sloth.

I'm going to get brave today.  Waiting til the sun gets a bit higher in the sky and I'm out there!!  I HAVE to finish  the eight holes.  Why?  Because I am so damn sick and tired of talking about holes!!!  I know there is more to life and I want to get on with it!

The four big posts are set for the horse shelter.  They aren't lined up quite as well as I had hoped but that's okay.  The horses won't know.  I want to work on it so badly!!!!  but first the holes.  Then there is the putting in features of the track system and even actually getting to play with the horses.  So much I want to do, but first the holes must get done.  So I am going out there today.  I don't care how much zinging I have shooting down my legs, across my gluts and over my back.  Holes will be done!  No more suspended animation for me!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Farm of Sticks

I was visiting with a friend, Jackie.  It was about a year ago and we got to talking about fence.  I always talk about fence.  She has beautiful fence for her horses.  I mentioned that I was still working on cutting hedge posts to get more pasture available.  "Hedge!", she said, " I wouldn't use hedge.  Looks like you have a fence of STICKS!"  Well, yes she is right.  Not just sticks.  I suppose you could say that split rail fences look like sticks.... straight, orderly, rustic sticks.  Hedge on the other hand, looks more like someone's shillelagh.   And a row of hedge posts takes rustic to a whole new level.

This last year I have heard Jackie's words in my head over and over.  It has caused me to be reticent.  But truth be told...... I have no choice.  All I have is my shillelagh collection and if I can't avoid it, then I might as well celebrate it.  I will have my hedge fence.  I will have my hedge run in shed.  I will have my hedge gates... a hedge arbor and only God knows what else.

So I started to look at some resource materials and I found that sticks can be useful.....

And my gnarly hedge trees can be beautiful.........

And I should never give up on my dream being whimsical.......

And if you can't go big, go home.

I think I could really get into this!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Great Horse Escape

Okay, okay, so maybe it wasn't so great, but it really wasn't what I wanted to walk out to this morning. I had gotten the table scrap's for the chickens and headed out the door and I couldn't help but notice the round hoof prints in the mud next to the car.  Damn!  Then I heard the clunk of a garbage can.  I walked around the corner of the house, and there, next to the greenhouse, was Pip.  The alfalfa pellet can tipped over and her slowly munching contentedly.

I suppose this is a good time to put in a good word for Parelli foundation training because when she saw me she did  not take off at a run, or do anything to make catching her difficult.  I went ahead and fed the chickens and she waited for me.  I called her and she followed.  No rope.  No halter.  I was trying to figure out some way to contain her until I found her escape route, mend the fence, all that crap that I really was not in the mood to do.  I needed ideas.... maybe I could do something with  the half finished round pen.

She followed me around the corner of the fence and I could hear her coming along.  After a couple of hundred feet, I turned around.  No Pip.  I looked in the neighbors field... no Pip.  Looked back towards the greenhouse... wait!  There she is... standing at the gate.  Ears forward and eyes riveted on me.  I thought, well, she is calm and thinking.  She knows the drill, so we will try it her way first.  It was a bit of good luck actually.  The fence had not been sending a charge for awhile and it had been baffling me.  There it was.... the problem.  Somehow the ground wire had gotten clipped onto the bottom fence wire instead of the ground rod.  How the hell had that happened?!!!

I opened the wire gate and waited.  Here was the real test.  It is a very narrow gate and Pip , especially right now, is a wide horse.  I had no halter and no rope to encourage her.  It was quite a squeeze.  I just called her once, then tried to not look at her too much.  She didn't need any more pressure.  She rocked back and forth a couple of times, then focused on the far side of the pasture and came through.


I fixed the solar charger wires and watched Pip.  True to her nature, she went right to the spot where she had escaped.  She had just taken a drink and so it was a good snap that I heard when her wet lips hit the wire.  Again a bit of luck.  She had just stretched the wire and had not broken it.

I had gotten off lucky.  And Pip had managed to get an extra large breakfast this morning.  I also got a warning.  I have to get that fence finished.  Every day is precious.  Winter is coming and I'm still not ready and today Pip reminded me just how unready I am.  Bugger.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Beat Goes On

I'm just back into the house from letting the chickens out for the day.  Every morning I take out whatever kitchen scraps I have and dump them out in a line next to the coop then open the door and they are off like a shot.    As I left the coop, I had to give a thought to the next upgrade.  While my little 4ft. x 4ft. coop meets their needs, I'd like something a bit bigger so they don't get too cranky when I'm late getting out there.  Typically I'm late only when Mac is in the hospital.

That made my mind go elsewhere.  My oldest daughter thinks the blog should turn into a bit of a how to blog.  She is probably right, but I don't want to forget where it came from.  The origin was about surviving cancer when you're not the one that has the disease.  When you're the one standing there and watching.  When you're the one handing out pills, setting up home IVs, dealing with vomit and nausea, pain, anger and seeing all of the support for the patient, and feeling your life being totally eaten away. Being alone and there is no one there to pat your hand and say "there, there."  Feeling yourself being turned into a none human service commodity and then having others ask you what do you have to complain about anyway?

If I were a celebrity, I suppose I could start an organization that would support families of cancer victims.  We would wear matching shirts and have 5K runs and everybody would win.  But I'm not a celebrity so I will just sit here and wait for you to find me.  Then I will tell you to rage!  RAGE!  Then start doing something.  I started building a house.  I started building fence.  I got some chickens and watched them go from fluff to going into that good night, which was followed by my freezer.  I have bound my life up with a little chestnut pony and a blond haflinger and a very old dog.

There is a video out there somewhere on youtube of my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, giving a talk.  His advice in the video is to make "good art"  If life is good to you the response is to "make good art"  When things have been bad the response is to "make good art".  The process of making good art is the process of human conditions.  My place, my dream, is my canvas and I hope that with it, I am making "good art".  It fills my heart when nothing else could.  So if we move on, and I have handy hints and tips on using vinegar, I don't ever want to forget that first and foremost, you need to find the way to fill your own heart.  Find a way to go out there and make your own good art.

Today the wind is raw and out of the north, but it's not too cold.  I have to pull some tee posts and take down some wire.  It is a process.  I'll be out there in the wind, trying to make my own "good art".


Monday, November 4, 2013

Eventful Days

Sometimes there are events that just seem to be harbingers.  I believe I have had one already this morning.  I was having one of those mornings where hauling myself out of bed was proving to be difficult.  So the best idea seemed to be to not make the effort at all.  I just snuggled in tighter while Mac went and took his bath and got ready for work.

It was working out fine.

 Mac came down and started getting dressed.  He was acting incredibly cheerful which I chalked up as an attempt to lure me out from the covers.  I burrowed in deeper and told him to go take his morning meds.  He cheerily headed round the corner to the kitchen.  I was starting to feel a new wave of contentedness when Mac made a truly weird noise.  It was somewhere between a girly screech and a great sucking in of air.  If the vocal cords had been able to orchestrate the dysfunctional effort, it would have been impressive.

As I am used to Mac's  bursts of panic, I simply asked, "What now?"

He stood outside the bedroom door and said a bit breathlessly, "There's a mouse in the sink"

"I guess I have to get up then", I said.

He responded, "I don't know what to do."

So, up I go and walk to the front door and get a coffee can from the recycling that somehow didn't get taken to the recycling bin in town.  I walked to the sink.  Spotted my quarry.  Then with a whirl of failed attempts, I managed to put the coffee can over the furry villain.  Then slid a paper plate under the can, trapping him inside.

"I've got him.... get the door for me"  Mac opened the door while I got on my flip flops and headed out to some tall grass.  He followed, fulfilling his role as support team.  Maintaining a safe distance and keeping the front door open, just incase we needed to bolt back in.  I tossed the mouse into the tall grass noting where he landed.  Then turned and went back to the house.  Mac preceded me.

He said, "You know, you're too kind hearted."

Then I pondered..... I think I'm just more practical.  What did he want me to do?  Strangle the wee victim with my bare hands?  How awkward.  Regardless, it was an interesting way to start my day, and as I am a person that believes that all of the big events in our lives are manifested from the smallest, I have to believe that today will be a harbinger of things to come.

It should be interesting.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Brains are A-Buzzin'

I am so tired this morning.  It's one of those mornings when you wake up and your body feels so weary that it's as if you are oozing with every movement instead of actually moving.  The idea of being out and digging holes, or pulling logs, gathering rocks just doesn't seem feasible.  I'm a lump!

Despite that my brains don't seem to want to stay still.  The brains are making up for the inabilities of the body.    One of the things that I keep thinking about is a comment made by a small holdings farmer in South America that I ran into via the internet.  He is a purveyor of bananas and he has developed a market for dried bananas to have more year round income.  He has stressed to me the importance of having a crop that isn't seasonal... a steady income.  Actually I had been counting on seasonality and making it work for me.  After all, when you haven't had something for nine months, you tend to snatch it up when it hits the shelves.  I have wanted to have about five good seasonal crops so I could shift from one to another and hopefully have a bit of a break in between.  This apparently successful man's thought gave me pause.  Then I thought, "Snap out of it!  You live in Iowa.  We have seasons here!"

Then I started to think about something else.

Mums.  There is a little farm outside of Winterset, IA. and their only crop is mums.  They have big mums and little mums.   Yellow, red. purple mums.  Mums in pots and mums in rows out surrounding their barn.  Then for a month or so every fall they sell their mums.  Then I started to think that 's a fairly low overhead product...... maybe I should sell mums too.

Then I started to think about something else.

I have been following the wild horse issue for quite a few years now.  I was getting worried that just a month or so ago the round ups were escalating and at that time there were no auctions planned for the winter months.  It has become public that the wild horses have been getting shipped to Mexican slaughter houses.  New slaughter houses are being approved  here in the States at pretty frequent intervals.  It has been looking like genocide for the american horse.  I was stressing as well that I hadn't been able to get onto the BLM site, so what was happening!!!!    I checked with a friend and she said it was just my browser (whew!) and the site was still up.  I was able to check it out last night, finally, and it looks like they have actually stepped up the internet adoptions.  One ended Oct. 30 and another will start Nov. 5.    That's a relief too.

Then I started to think about something else...... but I came right back to ..... I WANT A MUSTANG!
But first I need a BLM approved corral and shelter.  I can't get that unless I go out and dig some holes.  Oh God!  more holes.  If I adopt this time of year getting more hay might be an issue.  Then there will be transportation costs.  Geez,  I haven't even been able to come up with the money to pay the September property taxes.  I'll just have to get creative.

I'll just have to think of something else.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Holes Continued

Holes Continue.... holes always continue, or so it seems.  I tell myself that there can be no more changes.  I just can't take anymore, I don't think.  Things are catching up to me.  Just a few days ago I noticed a clump of hair, hanging at the side of my face, streaked with shiny bright white hair.  Two thoughts zipped through my head.  The first was that I'm running out of time.  The second was that I am getting used up.  Then there was a moment of alarm, and the feeling that I can't run out of time or get used up yet.... the fence isn't done.

I just feel so much pressure.  Well, not that I didn't before, but now it has doubled, because my own mortality has added so much weight.  On top of that, I really need to have some fun before I die.  Seems I spent the first leg of my life's journey working so hard to be a good student... the good child.  The second leg being an industrious adult.  Work and pay bills.  We were always saying we could do something as soon as the bills were paid off.  The third leg of my life has been spent dealing with illness, both mine and my husband's.  So, when does the fun start?

I don't know.  I guess I just have to keep digging my holes and I'm going to have to believe that the fun will start just as soon as the fence is done.    Yup... that's what I'll keep telling myself.


Monday, October 28, 2013


Mac had a long, three day weekend.  That essentially means, I didn't get anything done.  He has this mystical property of sucking all of the motivation right out of me.  I don't know why that it is, but it's a damn nuisance!  Luckily, I set up some time with the neighbor to help me out with some posts before Mac had his weekend.  I was committed and there was no backing out.

I had decided that he, the neighbor, should just help me in two hour increments.  That way I wouldn't be using up his entire weekend and my tasks could be fitted around his other plans.  First, we had to get the auger attached to the tractor.  It felt like it took forever! Eating precious minutes out of my two hour allotment.  Eventually, we did get over here and got the two biggest posts pulled out of the stack.  These were the posts that I had already dug the holes for by hand.  The bases were a good 18-20 inches across, but I'm trying really hard to waste nothing.  Though huge, they would still get used.  Getting the posts to the holes went smoother then I anticipated.  Getting them tipped up was another matter.  I had gotten the holes big enough, but just barely.  The posts stood in the holes but had dropped only about ten inches.  It was a bit nerve racking to see the jumbo size posts barely up.  Finally the tractor got positioned to where it could get it's forks on top of the posts and press them down. There was some moments of worry on the second post as it looked like it might be catching on the tractors hydraulic lines.  Then a little more wrangling and positioning and a bit of finger crossing for luck. The front wheels were completely off the ground as the post "thunked" into position.

The time continued to whittle away and with just about a half hour left we managed to get  nine more holes dug.  No posts were drug out or set or tamped in.  We just went from spot to spot like a hole digging marathon.  But, I keep telling myself. the big posts are in..  the big posts... the ones that look like they mark the entrance to a village.  Posts so big that a hero could stand behind them quite safely while taking potshots at bad guys.  Yes, so big in fact, that I can stand behind them and you won't see my butt sticking out from one side or the other.  That's a big post!  And it's set, and I can move on now.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

One More Hurdle

Most of this month we have been without internet service.  It  becomes very apparent just how alone you can be when you don't have that pretense at conversation.  I did break down and write a real honest to goodness letter to one friend.  It made me feel better.  For awhile, like when I am here or on one of my horse friend forums, I write and I can pretend that they are speaking back to me in my head.  I'm not alone. And the good news is that this is an acceptable way of hearing voices in your head.  That's a good thing.

It's a hurdle that is overcome.  I am trying to think of things in that way right now.... one more hurdle. One hurdle, anyone can manage.  It's when you look at all of it, especially as you go in twenty different directions, that your world unravels.

One hurdle.

I found my farm journal while trying to find some dimensions that I was just sure I had written down some place where I wouldn't lose them.  I flipped through my journal.  I hadn't made an entry in over a year.  I should have been filled with guilt and remorse but I didn't have the energy for it.  I found myself getting sucked in though.  Overall there were two recurring themes, money and fencing.  I can't say that there is anything I can do about the money right now.  I always have thoughts.  I always make plans, but I don't want to muddy the waters or dilute my concentration.  I would really like to get the fencing finished.  One hurdle.  Get it done and move on.  Finally, please, get this worst battle over with!

I must take the blame to some extent.  I have changed my plans.  Made a new layout based on new information.  I've had emergency situations come up.  I've had plenty of times when Pip spent too much time breaking through the fence.  And never, ever, enough money to  do the job properly.  Some things I could help and some things I couldn't.  But now, while I have this bit of time before winter sets in, I want to make my fence into my "one more hurdle" least, sections of it.

I made the mistake, I suppose you could say, of reading up on the paddock paradise system for keeping horses.  It is also referred to as the "track system".  In it's most basic terms, you fence off the center of your pasture so the horses must walk around the perimeter to graze.  It does a number of things.  It naturally keeps the horses moving which is better for keeping their weight down, keeping them exercised and keeping their hooves properly worn, requiring fewer trimmings.  New plans have been made...FOR THE LAST TIME!!!!!  And I want my new hurdle to be this lower pasture section.  Do it! Do it right and move on.  Next year will be another section.  Do that one and be done.  Fencing has mired me down like quick sand and it's time to dislodge myself.  I have other things to do!

So...... one more hurdle.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Books, Books, Books

This summer as I was babysitting my darling Max, I tried to keep an oar in the water by refining my plan and educating myself further.  There were days I just couldn't bear the confines of the house and would pack up Max and we would head to the Half Price Book Store.  This is a national chain of bookstores selling gently used books.  They sometimes have new books as well so I think they must buy up end of runs and odd lots.  The good news is that I can typically afford the place.  The bad news is that they don't always have what I'm looking for.  I always find something of interest though, whether it's useful or not, could be debated.

So, here is what I have been reading....

The Joy of Hobby Farming by Michael and Audrey Levatino

I'd have to call it a good all-rounder.  It balances text to good photography and to be honest, sometimes I can learn as much from a photo.   There were a few points that I wouldn't agree with the authors on but nothing much more then a quibble.  I will keep this one.

Free Range Chicken Gardening by Jessi Bloom

Beautiful photographs!  Lighter on information.  It is geared more towards the urban chicken keeper but plenty of ideas for me to try out.  I'll probably keep this one too, just cause it's so darn pretty to look at.

A Practical Guide to Self Sufficiency by Terry Bridge

I like this book.  I'll keep it.  It is a bit harder to read cover to cover but laid out so I will always be able to find  the section on apples when I want to.  Or the section on home energy... or building your own privy.. or canning produce.. or dyeing yarn... you name it, and it seems to have some information on it.  Good photos as well.

Barnheart: the Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own.  by Jenna Woginrich

This one is for motivation.  If you like James Herriot books then you will like this one.  Jenna's experiences remind me to always, always build the best fences that you can, because I swear nothing seems to be able to stay penned up at her place!  She also has a blog if you want to try that out first.  Search for Cold Antler Farm.

I'm currently reading two books.  Wafting back and forth.  One is The Profitable Hobby Farm: How to Build a Sustainable Foods Business by Sarah Beth Aubrey.  No pictures to speak of and very heavy in much needed information.  Sometimes it is a bit painful to read.  It probably is a must have... but it won't be fun.  But I will have to admit that she writes it so I understand the stuff.  I have read other articles on the business side of farming and they were totally undigestible.  You should be able to get through this and understand what you read.

The other current book is...

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka  This is about a man's learning curve  to become able to farm with nature.  Because it is geared toward the climate and crop rotation in Japan it might not be directly applicable.  But this is more about training your mind to see a way within your own dynamic setting.  And the perk is that if you find a way to work within nature, then you don't have to do near as much work.  The goal, I believe, is for me to look around and see what nature is wanting to provide here, and then gently guide it.  It's a principle more then an agricultural how-to.

In the wings I have, Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson.  I know, I know, it has nothing to do with farming.  But someday I will have the construction done.  I'll have the fences up, the sheds built, the raised beds raised, and I'll have to come into the house.  At which point I have no doubt that I will look around and say...."Holy Shit!"  Someday, I will really, really have to clean my house.

Not to forget, every winter I spend a little time and re-read Sylvia's Farm by Sylvia Jorrin.  She reminds me to keep going.  It doesn't matter if the pipes are frozen, you have three feet of snow on the ground and ice so treacherous, you slide on your belly to get to the barn.  You keep going because what else can you do?  You keep going because somehow, in your heart, your a farmer.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Yesterday was day two at being back at home.  Weird!  I felt like a stranger.  My outdoors world felt much more intimate... more my own.  So I did my errands in the morning.  Recycled soda bottles.  Took excess grocery bags to the thrift shop so they could be used again.  I should have gone there first as I ended up spending my can money on odds and ends at the thrift shop.  Oh well, I'll forgive myself later in the day.  Then ran by the feed store and got some of my critter essentials and picked up the timothy grass seed that I had bought during the heat of the summer.

The afternoon was spent outdoors.  A little debris that had gotten blown around in the last storm was picked up.  Took a pan, purchased for $.25 at the thrift shop, out to the chicken coop , filled with grit.  Gave the horses a snack as they were begging terribly.  If they were women, they would be alfalfa pellet whores.  Where's your dignity, you, ponies, you!  But, I digress....

The highlight of my day was taking the fifty pound bag of timothy seed out to the hayfield in the back of the truck.  Opening the bag.  Marveling at what very tiny seed it was, then scooping it up in a plastic bowl, and walking through the hayfield looking for bare spots on the ground.  Where the grass was bare or thin, I broadcast the seed by hand.  It took a bit over two hours.  But it is the best tool to know your land is  to get out there and have your feet on the ground.  I can't stress that enough.  You miss a lot driving over it in the truck or on a tractor.  Walk it!

Things are looking better.  Last spring we hand sown a bag of orchard grass and also hand scattered five or six fifty pound bags of pelletized lime.  It's a bit shocking to see what a difference so little can make.  A year ago, I had big swaths of  bare ground with patches of moss.  A sure sign of acid soil.  This year I only spotted four or five chunks of moss, none of them bigger then the palm of my hand.  My hay guy told me that my efforts were in the right direction, but there was no way I had done enough to create a change.  He said it was probably the drought the year before that had caused nutrients to rise in the soil.  Maybe.  But I have to believe that small actions are capable of reaping great rewards.  Otherwise, we would all be helpless, and I can't be helpless.

And what's on for today?  Well, I should start by cleaning toilets.  Working towards a brighter, better world!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013


There is an old pop song....."Reunited and it feels so good....."  Well, I'm home and to be honest I don't know how to feel.  I'm missing Max terribly.  I'm not missing the drive at all.  I feel at a loss.  There is so much to do here and I'm so far behind that I don't really know which way to jump first.  I guess my tune would be, "Reunited and I'm dazed and confused...."

  I was putting in 12 hour days between watching Max and having to drive such a long commute, and it certainly shows on my house.  It  shows between doggy hairballs and giant dust bunnies.  My menagerie of filth.  I had to begin with house cleaning.   Not knowing where else to start, I fell back on the tried and true standards.  I began with washing the sheets and running the vacuum.  Moved on to getting a cardboard box by the door and everything that could possibly be burned was thrown into it.  Next stop was to try to clear every flat surface.  I have come to the conclusion that all surfaces in a house should have peaked tops so the household junk does not get stacked on it.  It'll make dining a little difficult, but what the hell?!

I couldn't keep from moving some furniture and then finished off the evening with filing bank statements.  While getting a couple of things accomplished was nice, it has been tempered with some problems.  It seems that a drainage line heaved and we had a pocket of moisture accumulation in the front corner of the house.  The rising damp rotted out a section of the living room floor.  Not hard to do in an earth sheltered house.  So somehow, someway, before the ground freezes, I need to get out there and dig up a tile line.  I need to finish clearing out some cabinetry and then I begin the deed of ripping up my floor.  That will have to keep until this weekend as I have no doubt that I will be needing some moral support.

That takes me back to the good news.  Mac, my husband type person, has finally started to feel better.  I have to admit that we were both wondering if that day would come.  Especially after last winter, when we both managed to spend most of it with flu or respiratory infection.  Throw on top of that, Mac's three heart attacks.  Right now though, he is walking up and down our hill.  Cavorting with grandkids and has even been spotted weeding the garden.  At this time, he is competent in the moral support department.  I am very much needing someone standing there and saying, "Atta Girl!  You can do it!"

For today... I have a to-do list, like always.  Nothing too rigorous as I still don't know what the hell I'm really doing.  A trip into town for gas and feed and I guess we'll just have to see where we end up.  Reunited?  yes, I think so, but I totally don't know how I feel.

Later, Kids,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Nothing Has Been Happening Here

It is winter.  It's been confusing though because it has been a warm winter.  Everyone seems to be sicker during those warm winters.  That has been the case for us.  The stomach flu started our winter off and a respiratory virus sort of thing is finishing it.  All of it leads to nothingness.  Feel well enough to be up and not in bed.  Don't feel well enough to actually do anything.  The winter hasn't been so bad.  Some storms but not as bad as they could have been.  The snow soon melted away.  No snow men.  No snow balls.  No snow forts.  But still too cold to go out and let the sun's rays warm your bones.  Too cold to dig a hole in the still frozen ground.

On groundhog's day, Punxatawny Phil indicated that there would be just two weeks remaining of winter.  That was three weeks ago and I am looking out at the current snow covering.  Most melted away yesterday but it's there.... mocking me.  There is suppose to be another snow storm tomorrow night.  The weatherman assured that it would melt away quickly also.

Don't get me wrong... I'm glad we aren't having any emergencies, for a change.  But the nothingness is nibbling away at me.  We survive, but we don't thrive.  We aren't having fun.  Almost like the blood is moving very, very slowly in our veins.  I have taken to watching movies with green in them.  The Jane Austin stories are good.  She seemed to like characters that went for walks.  So I play "Pride and Prejudice" or "Sense and Sensibility" and I look at pastures.  I watch for hedgerows.  I am inspired and nurtured by all of that green.  Then I sit near my sweet potato vines.  They wait for spring too, on the window sill, in a jar with an inch and a half of water.

Together, my sweet potato vines and I, just vegetate, cause absolutely nothing is happening here.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Heart Attack King

As of yesterday, Mac has had his fourth heart attack.  The fourth one in a year.  He is becoming the heart attack King.  A designation we both would like to relegate.

I am now sitting in the waiting room of the heart catheter lab.  The Doctors are assuming he will need another stint.  I am once again sitting and waiting.  The waiting room is slow today.  There have been times when it was packed.  Every possible extended family member crowding in.  Stacking children, snacks, books and magazines.  Not today.  There are three of us now.  Two men waiting for a woman whose procedure is done.  She had everything go fine.  Uneventful.  And they wait until they will be allowed to go back and watch her magically awaken.

Waiting rooms are strange places.  People walk through.  We become some sort of mutual zoo.  We stare at each other with blank faces.  Some thinking.  Some trying desperately to not think.  No matter the temperature of the room there seems to be cold air that blows out of the vents.  Spring, summer, fall or winter, the ducts spew cold air.  I have to wonder how the room can be warm.  I'm cold.

We sit.  We listen to one another's conversations.  Unapologetically we nose into one another's lives.  We wait.  One of the talking men blows his nose.  Instead of throwing his tissue into the small trash can near him.  He gets up and walks half way across the room to throw it in the trash behind me.  A cursory glance across my computer screen.  For this little window in time, our waiting lives intwine.

They talk about eating barbeque.  Skinny women.  The days of military service and how they could not wait to get out.  Health care.

The waiting room volunteer comes over to me and tells me that they have had a delay and Mac has just now been taken in for his angiogram.  More waiting.  More people walk about.  More stares.  I stare back.  I notice who has suitcases and who doesn't.  Who looks lost.  Who seems to have a purpose.  Who stares at who and who has to look away.  Some faces are too hard to look at.  There is an inherent fatigue that comes with waiting.  Can't be helped.  I continue participating in this little zoo.  Tired,  Hungry... dreaming of a waffle.  Waiting.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Biding My Time

We are having a cold snap in the weather.  Up to now it has been a mild winter but the cold weather  reminds me that it's time to sit back and wait.  I hate waiting.  I'm not good at it.  I need to have a project.  It has been pointed out to me that I could work on house projects, but considering I still need to be cutting and sanding and staining, I'm not keen on it.  I usually have a cleaning fit in the spring.  I am more then willing to wait for that to strike.

So, I wait.

I have ordered seeds.  The half pound of buffalo grass seed has arrived.  The vegetable order that I placed hasn't materialized.  When over come by some impulse, I did buy a few seeds when in town.  I have decided that this year I need to try root vegetables.  I have had no luck with beets.  I think the problem is due to the rabbits.  Any other problem and a few of the seeds would have made it up.  But after three full seed packages and not a single beet, well, I shall blame the natives.  Hopefully this will be the summer of beets, parsnips and rutabagas.

The hens have been good to me this winter.  They have never just stopped laying.  I have even gotten numerous days when every girl has given me an egg.  I have one hen that gets very frustrated with me. She wants to keep her eggs so badly.  I will let her set a nest in late spring when it is warm.

So, she and I wait.

I have a friend who reminds me..... the earth is patient.  I am not.


Monday, January 14, 2013


We have had a strangely short, warm winter, but today it is the normal cold of January.  Depending on where you are at in Iowa the temperatures vary from 6 to 11 degrees F.  With wind chill, it is more like -1 to 6 degrees.  It's the kind of day that causes me to curl up and become useless.  It's a day that I just sit and think.

I have pulled out all of my farm lists.  Things I want.  Tasks to accomplish.  Money to raise.  Actually, it's a bit depressing.  The only thing I accomplished last year was getting the chickens.  But then again, I have made gains on quite a few projects.  I have been accumulating supplies for  building my tiny little hay barn.  I have picked up a couple of things that will go into my horse playground.  I only need to finish up the roof of the greenhouse and then it will be ready for plastic.  The spruce windbreak on the west side of the property got a few more trees last year.  Just another dozen or so and I should be done on that side.  I have been collecting seeds and nuts and as soon as the greenhouse is finished they will be started.  I am hoping to be able to start more of my own plants, then my money will go towards plants that I can't acquire locally.

A fifty pound bag of orchard grass is ordered and paid for.  A half pound bag of buffalo grass is ordered and paid for.  I need to buy more blue grass but it's not on the shelves yet.  That's an improvement.  Last year grass seed was just a twinkle in my eye.

Fence continues to be my greatest challenge.  Everyone expects there to be a norm.  This is how you do fence.  This is what it is going to cost.  And it's just assumed that you have that kind of money.  After all, if you moved to the country and built a house, you HAVE to have money.  But I have spent a great deal of time on permies and I think I have some ideas to avoid spending a great deal of money.  Then yesterday, I got lost on another site that was nothing but fencing.  It was handy.  I found some answers. And, I have more ideas. It's such a relief to have ideas and a plan.

Today, I will spend in the house.  I will combine all of my many to-do lists.  The "I Want" lists.  The goals and the business plan will be updated.  Then I will clean the bathroom.  Mop the floors.  Get the laundry done.  Tidy the kitchen.  Then tomorrow I will go out with the truck and start picking up tree debris from the woods.  The debris will get taken to where I plan on building up fence and to every place where I think I might want to try doing some hugelkultur.  Who knows, maybe I will even get the flat free tire for my wheelbarrow put on and I just might even get some manure tucked in amongst the rotting logs to get the hugels started.  Maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of a productive year.


Saturday, January 5, 2013


So much has happened lately.  I am still feeling kind of confused.  Somewhat dazed.  I think I mentioned Mac's heart attacks.  Two at the end of November. That took the total for the year up to three.  That was a learning experience.  Then Max was born!  We have a new grandson, Max Quilan Bascom.  My oldest daughter, Max's mom, suggested that Mac and I liquidate the little farm and just move in with them.  That came as a shocker to me.   My husband is in favor of the idea.

On the farm front,  I have been helping the neighbor with getting his fencing in.  With winter coming on, there was not time to accomplish both my projects and his.  He thought it was a good idea to work on his and then move my horses down to his place for the winter.  I had promised the girls that I would never move them out again.  It always turns into a bad situation.  This time was no different.  The neighbor has an aggressive gelding and he mixed his horses with mine after only a couple of days.  His gelding cornered Pip and she tried to go out over the fence.  The fence was a fairly tall electric set up with electro-braid rope style line.  Pip hung up.  Not only was she completely torn up and bloody from her hocks to her teats, but the rope did not break and she was pulse shocked for about an hour, we think. Her manner, her carriage has all changed.   She seems to have been in a depression since then.  She is not healed up yet but she is making gains.  I want to bring her home in the worst way but the ground is frozen and I have no means to set new fence now.    I want her home!!

The happy news is that I have had a farm angel.  Another Parelli student sent me five hundred dollars to give me a boost in farm projects.  With out that money, I would not have been able to get veterinary help for Pip.  I've also been able to get supplemental feed.  And I have also bought orchard grass seed to improve the hay field and to hopefully get a better yield next year.  Hopefully the hay field will make a bit of money and then we can roll that over into other projects.  There is still some money left.  I have spent it about five times over in my mind, second guessing how it could best be applied.  Additional seed?  Fencing panels?  Tree taps for the black walnut syrup?  Rent an aerator for the hayfield?  Plant materials?  Lime?  While the possibilities are not limitless, they are hopeful.  And it makes me realize that I cannot give up here.  Not now.  Too many possibilities for living, to chuck it all away and move into my daughters basement.

It's morning, and the sun is shining brightly.