Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Farm Life Just Keeps on Going Even if I Fall on The Ice

So....I fell on the ice. I sprained my calve muscle. I thought it was broken. I heard the ice crack and thought it was my bone. I almost passed out from the pain (though Dearest says I was merely hyperventilating). I am so ashamed. I did not deal well with crisis or with pain. I was certain that my leg bone was shattered, I thought it was bend at a 90 degree angle (the muscle cramping made it feel like that and pulled my foot inward....). Still. Pain. As in, still I am in pain. Walking actually hurts less than sitting with it elevated, so I am walking it off so to say.

That said, we are also dealing with the joys of a 100 year old farmhouse. Water in the basement. A lot of water. Luckily it is an a room designed to catch a lot of water, unluckily the drain in that room seems to be clogged with sludge. Lucky again, we found a septic guy that is trustworthy AND will be here in the morning. Also, for all my friends who have followed the saga on facebook.....Dearest brought me up a bag of bacon so I don't have to worry about rigging a boat to fetch it. Mmmmm....bacon.

In other news I am making plans for spring. Big plans that involve more bacon, I mean, pigs. We raised 4 last year and had a waiting list for the pork. I am thinking we'll raise 6-8 this next year and never get bigger than that. The pigs are a side to compliment the orchard health (and make lard for divine pie crust) not our main goal for the farm. That said, pretty much all the projected pork is spoken for, but I will add a waiting list. Last fall, the waiting list was used almost immediately and I even took one new order. So cool. I am also excited about picking up cheese for me!....I mean whey for the pigs. I seriously love love love the micro dairy we get our whey from. The cheese is AMAZING (so is the owner, btw).

My plans for the orchard are two fold. I will plant 6 more trees, attend an apple grafting session at Seed Savers in Decorah, IA in April, and make contact with the one other (the only one?) organic apple orchard in central Iowa. I am ready to ask questions, but I will put off making variety decisions until after 2010. The 6 trees we'll plant this year will simply be what I would plant for my own use, not for market.  I also hope to get a graft or two from Chad's co-worker's tree that had the most amazing pie apples EVER. It is an old tree and may not have a lot of time left. Apples are not redwoods, they have a relatively short lifespan unfortunately.

Then there are the bees. This is the year that I will actually, after 8 years of wishing and yearning, become a beekeeper. More to come on that later I am sure.

The gardens this year will be bigger, but I plan on making smaller managed beds. Chad fall plowed and since he was using a tractor plow borrowed from a family at church, he expanded the beds to the West, doubling their size. I think I might still do a Spring bed in the small plot though, simply because it has full sun right until late May when the Oak and Walnut trees leaf out and then it is part/mostly shade. Perfect for peas, greens, and broccoli. My only hurdle there will be keeping the deer from eating all the peas to the ground again.

In the big bed, I will have some work to do with the grape vines so neglected last year, and the strawberries need to be weeded and straw laid down before they fruit. I also need to thin them in May so if you are local and interested in some plants let me know.

I also plan on doubling my dry bean crop. These were easy to grow and harvest and really delicious. No watering needed at the end since I was intending them for dry harvest. I experimented a bit with the last bucket brought in, they are not shelled and jarred, just still in their husk in the bucket. We'll see which do better.  The difference in flavour between my beans and store bought dry beans is amazing. I didn't expect that at all.

I also want to try pole beans so I'll have to figure out how to do that. We have a bunch of cattle panels not being used.....anyway, I also want to grow more cabbage and broccoli and try potatoes. Oh and brussels sprouts which are now a family favourite. I know now to water my tomatoes early even if the rain makes it looks like they don't need it or they seem to do fine when I forget. My 50 plants produced maybe, maybe 5 tomatoes. Ugh. The chickens destroyed those before I had a chance to harvest them. So frustrating. I also need to weed and mulch better. Or convince Dearest and/or the children that it is their "job" or duty or whatever to tend and weed and water the tomatoes and peppers. I'll be busy with my trees and bees. :)

I don't expect that we will have extra produce this summer, but we'll bring what we do have and eggs to park day. So it goes.

We start fiddle lessons next week. I am really excited to learn, as is Lil'Bug. I am so glad we found an instructor that just fits with us, you know? We should be picking up the instruments early next week, just rentals at first in case we hate it. 

Oh, and I plan on picking up the pen again. I mean more than just for blogging. More to come on that I am sure, but I have a light class load for this Spring and I might as well get some things out before planting begins. I have some ideas brewing, three different genres dabbled in drafts.....I'll need focus and to pick just one to complete. 

2010 is going to be a crazy busy wonderful year!

PS.....still praying that the Des Moines house would sell. Just found out it qualifies for NFC $$ so that's good. Hopefully that will make the difference for someone. Hopefully soon.

Monday, 28 December 2009

The Cruel Reality of Dumping Pets in the Country

Maybe CRUEL is too nice of a way to put it. So many dogs get dumped on our road. I mean SOOOOO many. I'm not going to wax poetic about this. Here is what I have learned this year:

So...what happens to a pet who is dumped on an idylic country road?
1) That dog gets hit by a truck/car/farm vehicle. Or manages its way back to a main road and gets hit by several. If you think it would be a clean hit you would be wrong 85% of the time. No, the dog would be injured, limp off and suffer or lay there to be hit some more until it eventally dies.
2) It gets curious and investigates livestock. Livestock defends itself and a)injures pet b)sounds an alarm and farmer shoots stray/ livestock guardian does its job or c)tramples pet to death.
3) pet starves to death, slowly and desperately.
4) pet gets attacked by wild animals and is injured or dies or dies slowly from injuries
5) Someone picks up the pet and takes it to ARL. So this begs the question, why not skip the above and just take your unwanted pet right to the ARL?
6) It can happen that the pet gets taken in and becomes a good farm pet. Not likely. If its behaviours made it unwanted, those are usually still problematic.

Moral of the story. Stop dumping your pets in the country. You are dooming them, not giving them a chance at doggie/kitty paradise. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing how many of my own pets were "taken to the country to live on a farm" instead of taken to the ARL and given half a chance at finding a new home. The reality of what happens to a country dumped animal makes euthanization seem like a merciful and peaceful ending. The cruelty of a farm dump is beyond true description.

Christmas Part Three and Four: Christmas Eve Traditions, Christmas Day

The night before Christmas and all through Grandma's home, not a turtle was jumping.....ok, maybe one.

In our family we read the birth story in the Bible and sing Christmas songs before gift giving. The girls were loaded with toys and clothes. The next morning Santa and Deedle left them small gifts, a chess set for Lil'Bug, a wooden doll set for Bluberry, and a wagon from Deedle for all of us. The girls helped Dearest put it together and I played with my camera. I've had trouble with getting the focus right on my SRL and suddenly, after owning it for 2 years, I discovered a dynamic focus setting. I love it. None of these pictures used it though, they did however get to be my first through Aperture, which I also love.

Oh, and for good measure and sake of historical accuracy...Dearest has spent the last few days wading in ice cold muck water because a drain backed up in the basement and the ice melt from around the house was all directed into the basement via an old drive under garage. It was a crisis because it made it difficult for me to get to my bacon. This picture is Dearest thawing hoses full of ice to use with a sump pump, which ultimately also froze and was replaced. Things are looking up I think, I'm not entirely sure I care since he waded through and brought me my bacon. Oh, and it's not sewage. So that's good. Merry Christmas!

Baby Blues and Wagon Red- Playing with Christmas Presents....

I got Aperature for Christmas. I'm still fumbling with the possibilities, but in the meantime I can make my girls look like they have purple eyes! LOL. I love it. Really love it. Thank you family!

The girls got a Radio Flyer wagon from great aunt Deedle down in dolphin country. They put it together with Daddy and it is now a main fixture in the living room. It is going to be a lifesaver at the farmers market this summer.