Monday, September 20, 2010

Big Red vs Me: Round One

Big Red is our rooster.
A magnificent fowl, he is the epitome of the barnyard rooster found in childrens books. Beautiful feathers, a crow that can be heard blocks away and totally protective of his *girls*.
One problem...Red was bred to be a fighting rooster. Yes, cock-fighting is illegal, but not in Mexico and we are so close to the border that those sort of things drift across with the immigrants.
So, Red was bred to be aggressive. Now, since his chances at being a champion in the fighting ring were stymied by a neighbor that rescued him from that fate, and then gifted the rogue rooster to us, he is understandably frustrated. He dreams, no doubt, of championship belts slung around his feathered mid-section.

Apparently, he feels that my Darling Man and I are the guilty parties that derailed his fighting career.
Any foray into Red's domain is greeted by feather fluffing, charges, upraised talons and pecking beak!
The Darling Man began carrying a broom with him and Red soon learned "Big Man carries Big Stick and WILL whap me"!
I assumed that Red and I could reach a kinder, gentler understanding. After all, I came into his kingdom to deliver food and rake out manure! Surely Red would LIKE me!
He attacked me with a ferocity that should have been reserved to fight off hordes of rabid hyenas.
I retreated and plotted strategy. I didn't want to be seen as "Big Woman with Big Stick". I just don't see myself as a mean person with a stick!
Well, I had to go refill the water for the chickens and the goats. Maybe I was just distracted, I don't know. Anyway, I just went ahead and tromped into Red's domain without any stick or any back-up.
I did, however, have the water hose!
Red saw me and started his charge.
Instinctively, I sprayed the damn bird with the water hose.
Red stopped in mid charge. I swear his beaky little mouth dropped open in amazement.
He back-pedaled rapidly and conferred in a corner of the pen with his ladies; Miss Priscilla and Gertrude.
All three chickens took turns peeking over at me as they chattered and clucked away in the corner.
I serenely filled the water trough for the goats and the chickens.
I am now "Big Woman Brings Water" to Red.
When I enter into his kingdom, he retires to a corner and studiously ignores me.
I have won Round One.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting To Know You....

We have a new and much more varied cast of characters here. I was going to try to post pictures, but unfortunately, the only camera here is minus it's network cable, so pictures will have to wait!
I will try my best to describe the denizens of this small farmette, though..

First of all, there's me! Since most of the dear readers of this blog have been around for a bit, they know I am 53, red hair, a bit chubby and I usually have a smile on my face---even in the midst of disaster. I keep smiling because I know things could be FAR worse, regardless of the chaos around me!

Enter, stage left, my amazing, wonderful, Darlin' Man. Career military and heading for retirement row, with the main dream in his head to be a farmer. Since I have more experience than him at farmer and livestock raising endeavors, he often defers to me. He is a VERY good hand at construction projects (wait until I post pics of the goat pen! A force 5 hurricane could not bring that structure down!) and he frequently has ideas that make things around here a bit easier.

Straggling behind him are Boy (age 15) and Girl (age 16).
Yes, I am now a stepmother of sorts. Man and I are not yet legally married, but, as I say, what's a piece of paper between dear friends?
Boy is eager to please (especially  to curry his dad's favor) and can be counted on for help around our tiny homestead. Generally in good humor, his interests include music, video games, girls, video games, shooting, video games..oh yes, more video games!
Girl seems a lot more reflective and moody. Hates school, mainly wears black, prefers to hang out in her room and play on her computer. She enjoys video games, but also has interest in art, video games, cinema, writing, farming, gardening and some cooking.
Neither one has had a bad word to say about my cooking, so they both get points from me!

On to the menagerie!
The goats:
Wang, the billy. Very protective of his *ladies*, he begrudgingly will let us in the pen to rake it a couple times a week. He is a tan/brown color with a white belly.
Champagne, a lovely doe , white and pale brown. Delicate and playful, she is also the most talkative of the 3 goats and will offer a *running commentary* whenever anyone is out in the yard.
Patches, a smaller doe, looks like a mini-Holstein cow! White with black spots. Most human affectionate, she will nuzzle you when you go out to the pen and adores having her head scratched a little.

The chickens:
Big Red, the rooster. Red is a large rooster who was originally destined for the fighting ring until a neighbor rescued him from that fate. Red is large and aggressive. Truly the *cock of the walk*, he allows NO ONE near his hens! Woe to any dog, cat, weasel, fox, or even Tyrannosaurus Rex that approaches Red's girls! Red might go down, but he will surely go down fighting ferociously!
Miss Priscilla and Gertrude, Red's girls. Currently, we have only 2 hens (although that will change within the month) Miss Priscilla is a neat, black hen. She spends her days scratching the dirt as close to Red as possible. Gertrude, a red hen, is a bit more independent and , occasionally, she and Red have a mild squabble.

The Dogs:
Andy, aka Lug, aka Dunder is a purebred German Shepherd. Eager to please, he is a bit slow on learning some of his lessons, and because he is still in adolescence, he has a tendency to trip over his own feet at times. He is very affectionate, but still has a tendency to chew on arms, hands, feet of those he loves. He is also a bit *barky* and will sometimes freak out over a bird landing in the fig tree, although the next day he'll ignore the same thing.
Kali, a young female German Shepherd is about 5 months old and will be leaving us within the next few days, as we were only taking care of her temporarily for a friend.Thank goodness! She is a digger...she has dug holes all over the property, under fences, in the compost heap, everywhere!

Soon to join the household will be my dog, Siona. A friend is driving her down. I know, she is actually my sons dog, but since my son is about to embark on some traveling adventures of his own, it was decided that Siona would be better off with me.

So, there you have it, our cast of characters..
Lamb (myself)
Big Red
Miss Priscilla
Kali (soon to be gone)
Siona (soon to be here)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Dream Begins!

This morning I got up at 5 a.m. I fed the goats and the chickens, let the dogs out to romp and kissed the Darlin' Man good-bye as he went out the door to work.
I made pancakes and scrambled eggs and a fruit salad for breakfast...put the pancakes and eggs in the oven to stay warm for a few minutes. Woke Girl and Boy up, told them breakfast would be on the table at 7 a.m.
Fed the dogs.
Served the kids breakfast and got them out the door to the bus.
Right now I have yeast *sponging* as I am making 3 loaves of bread to go with dinner.
Mopped the kitchen floor after I did the dishes.
Fed the breakfast scraps to the chickens (who were delighted) and the goats (also delighted, especially with the scraps of fresh fruit!)
Later, I plan to survey the yard and figured out the best place to put a herb garden and a kitchen garden. We have an acre of land--more or less--so, I have so much more room to work with here!
Tomorrows post:
Intros to the animal cast of characters and possibly pictures of same!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Last Day, Last Night, Last Morning

So, I am moving. Today will be my last full day here, tonight my last full night and tomorrow morning---my last morning here.
Knowing that it will be my last is bittersweet.
I made many good friends here and I am leaving behind my 27 year old son and his dog (I think of her as also being *my* dog). My son has a job here and is planning on saving his money to move back east.
I am also leaving behind *stuff*.
Being the frugal pack rat that I am, that also hurts!
I have very limited room in the vehicle for my belongings. Clothes, tactical supplies, kitchen tools, sewing machine-- are ALL a must. BUT, I can only fit in about half my food storage.
So, today I call a friend and ask if they want my food storage. I know they'll say yes and most enthusiastically as they have kids and a good food storage of their own. If they cannot use what I leave behind, I am sure they can find someone who can!
A few people suggested I give my food storage to a food bank. I would, but I have a lot of wheat and such things that require a lot of prep and the proper tools---which, unless you already prep, you probably do not have!
My fella has food storage, so I know I won't be *wanting* when I get down to his place...or over to his is 900 miles westward. I have my grain grinder and flour sifter (which I found out he has NEITHER!! Oh my goodness!), he has a good dehydrator and other kitchen tools. Not as many kitchen tools as I have, but the last few years he has lived the gypsy style life of the Army, being transferred from here to there and back again. Thankfully, that is about to change as retirement is on the horizon.

I will also have, for the first time in many years, two teenagers in the house!
As I told the fella, at least they are potty trained!
Teenagers are is a delight to see them stretching their wings and getting ready for their *solo flight*.
Big difference is, I didn't raise these two and will just be there for the end of their young adulthood.
I hope I can teach them a bit and that I can learn from them as well.
I have met them future posts, if I refer to them, I will call them *Boy* and *Girl* as there is one of each. 15 and 16 respectively. Boy and Girl both seem rather intelligent and very aware of the issues that concern their father and I. Peak oil, sustainable agriculture, etc.

OH! I will be desert gardening! A new experience for me! The house I will be living in is on about an acre. The Fella has already purchased 3 goats...2 nans and a billy, for breeding and milk production. Chickens will be procured after my arrival as the Fella has never had chickens. There are (currently) 2 pups, both German Shepherds. One is a permanent resident, the other is a temporary one he is caring for until the owner can reclaim it. There is (I am told) a fig tree and a pecan tree. Some neighbors have citrus trees.
The plan is to stay there a year or two until all the retirement issues are worked out, then make the final move to the Northeast United States to be closer to some family members.
And that, dear readers, will be my VERY LAST move!

I have moved a lot in my life.
First because of being an Army brat myself., then after adulthood because of marriage, economic and educational circumstances and situations. Then divorce and remarriage and more moves. Then economics raised it's head again and it was a case of moving to where the work was.Divorce and remarriage again and that husband was afflicted with a wanderlust that kept him looking for that *greener grass*.
That last marriage ended and I returned to a place where I had friends and connections and started over again.
Then I met the Fella and things changed. I moved to where he would be able to come see me. Of course, that didn't last long until the Army decided he needed to be deployed half a world away! Since I had a job here, I stayed here and waited for his return.
Well, he is back and our future is together.
So, another move for me.
All told, I think the last time I counted it up...I have lived in---or traveled extensively through--13 countries and 30 states.
Not too shabby!
I have enjoyed it. I have seen things that other people say they only dream of seeing.
I have watched the moon rise over the Grand Tetons and heard the wolves and coyotes howl.
I have danced in an Alabama rainstorm.
I have swam in the Mississippi, the Little Big Horn, the Missouri, Lake Champlain, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. I have dove into the surf of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.
I have heard the crickets chirp and watched fireflies sparkle by in Kentucky.
I have seen the tulip fields in the Netherlands and been to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Sunrises over the Rocky Mountains. Snowstorms in Germany.Summer days in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
And much, much more.
But finally, FINALLY, I am going *home*.
*Home* is where my Fella is and where we will dream and plan together for the rest of the journey we will share.
Take care all...I will be offline for a day or next post...will be from *home*.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sometimes, Your Body Knows Best

Since I am preparing for a move, everything here has been in a bit of a tizzy.
I am sorting out my belongings, packing, tossing out, donating, etc.
Makes for a lot of activity and very little sleep.
Now, we all have different strategies for "burning the candle at both ends".
I have a tendency to add some caffeine, usually in the form of soda, into my daily regimen.
Last night, I had no soda, but around one in the morning, I was starting to feel sleepy and sluggish--yet still had more to do.
Well, my room mate had made a pot of coffee.
I am allergic to coffee. Not DEATHLY allergic, mind you. Just allergic in that it will make me sick if I drink more than about a half cup.
So, I figured, a quarter cup...just a *shot* would be okay.
It was, for about the first hour.
After the first hour, my body decided to show me, in no uncertain terms, why I shouldn't drink coffee.
Yes, I was awake all night, but, no, I did not get much done.
Not a fun night...unless you consider throwing up, profuse sweating, stomach cramps and more throwing up as a fun experience!
I am re-hydrating this morning. Plenty of water. Resting.
My body has made it clear this is what it wants, and this is what my body will get!
Yes, I have much more to do, but after last nights experiences, I think I will listen to my body today.