Saturday, January 19, 2013

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

The lamb is still alive and kicking.  I did bring it inside yesterday morning to give her (yes, definitely a girl) some milk replacement by the fire.  I figured it couldn't hurt her to make sure she had some food and got warmed up a little.  I saw her nursing later in the day, so she should be okay.  No more lambs have been born yet on my solo watch, for which I am EXTREMELY grateful.

And continuing with some more things you most probably don't care about, but since you're here you will read what I write (AND LIKE IT) . . .

I just canned seven quarts of pickled beets.  A local farm is still pulling beets and turnips from their gardens, and the MiL bought a bushel.  Each.  That is a shitload of root vegetables.  They're delicious--thanks to the very cold temperatures we've had that have made them very sweet--but goddamn are those things filthy.  They are literally caked in mud.  Washing them takes almost as long as prepping the cooked beets for the canner.  But I do love pickled beets, so I did it anyway.

Canning in January is WAY better than canning in July.  For obvious reasons of kitchen temperatures and boiling pots.

I bought Cubby his own backpack from L.L. Bean for his upcoming third birthday, and while I was on the website, I checked their 2-a-day daily markdown.  It's this thing they do, uh, twice a day, where there's just one item they sell for way cheap.  When I happened to check it, the item was a big flannel-lined corduroy shirt for twenty dollars.  I have a big corduroy shirt that I have owned for more than a decade now.  I've worn it a lot, and it's past time that it be laid to rest.  So I bought the one from L.L. Bean as a replacement.  It just arrived.  I tried it on and it fits.  I have worn it for less than five minutes so far, but I can already tell I'm going to live in this shirt.  It ain't gonna win me any fashion awards, but holy hell is it comfortable.

In preparation for a seriously frigid stretch of weather coming our way, I cleaned the ashes out of the woodstove today.  Then I had to re-start the fire.  Man, do I ever suck at starting a fire.  It took me a few days' worth of newspapers and probably six matches before I finally got it going well.  I would never survive in the wilderness.

Both of my children have colds.  It's gross.  Snot everywhere.  I have not yet been struck down myself, though I pessimistically anticipate the pestilence will be visited upon me anytime now.

So maybe on that note, I should go to bed.  You know, get a good night's sleep to boost my immune system.

HAHAHAHAHA.  A good night's sleep.  Oh, I kill myself*.

* But only if Charlie doesn't kill me first.  The sleep battle rages on.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Complication

My plan for getting the animal care done this morning was to put Charlie down for his first nap and then take Cubby outside with me.  It was really, really cold--fifteen degrees, in fact--and I figured Cubby wouldn't want to stay out very long anyway, so he could play around in the light snow we got last night while I took care of the animals and then we could go back in by the time Charlie woke up.

Good plan.  Out we went into the frigid morning.  I put water in the sheep bucket and hopped the paddock fence to go around to the front of the barn to pull the hay to the front of their feeder.  My first signal that there might be something . . . different was the fact that a few of the Merinos were lying in the middle of the paddock, with a light dusting of snow on them.  Which meant they were out in the snow early this morning.  And they usually only clear out of the barn to make room for . . .

A lamb.  Which is what I found when I got to the barn.


Actually, I didn't even see the lamb when I first got to the barn, since the sheep were all shuffling around and running out of the barn when I approached.  But I saw the blood on the ground from the birth, and then I saw the lamb with its mother.

Did I mention it was fifteen degrees?  That is NOT a good temperature for a newborn lamb.

However.  It was already dry and up on its feet, running with the flock, so I figured it was okay.  Probably it just stayed in the hay in the barn next to its mother.  With the whole flock all clustered in the small barn, it was probably warm enough.

I hope so, anyway, because I really can't do much for it.  I thought about putting a heat lamp in the barn, but then I would have to build some kind of pen to keep the lamb and mother next to the heat lamp, and I just don't have the time to do that, what with my own offspring to care for**.  So I'm afraid this is a case of survive or . . . well, not.

I really hope it's not the not, though.  It seems to be a spry little thing, and the sun is out so it should warm up a little today.  Fingers crossed.

And let's hope that no more lambs are born before the shepherd arrives home tomorrow.  I'm not a very good sheep midwife.

* We knew we would have lambs early this year--early seems to be better than late, for reasons of worms and flies and so forth that come with warm weather--but we never expected one THIS early.

** Though I might still try to do that if it seems to need it later.  Maybe I can put the kids in the car again or something.  Once again, SO GLAD I'm not a homesteader who depends on every animal born for my food.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting It Done

Man, am I glad I'm not some kind of homesteading woman left behind to tend the homestead while Pa goes to work on the railroad so the family can have money for, like, shoes and a single stick of hoarhound candy for the children at Christmas.

Oh wait.  Did I lose you there?  Maybe I should back up a little bit.

Hey, remember that A. is a lawyer?  I wouldn't blame you if this is not something you immediately associate with the Woodchuck Man, but it's true.  He's a lawyer.  And a very good one at that.  He sometimes has to go to legal education things, and this week he went to one in Orlando.

Yeah.  Florida.  In January.  It would be cool if he wasn't sitting in a hotel ballroom with a bunch of other lawyers all day.  Downer.  But he says it's been informational and worthwhile, so that's okay*.

Anyway.  I have obviously been tasked with all the animal care while he's gone.  It's not so bad.  All I have to do is pull hay to the front of the feeder for the sheep in the morning and make sure they have unfrozen water every day, plus check on the chickens occasionally.

The only problem is that I have to do these things when not encumbered by children.

So if I'm lucky enough to get a dual nap in the middle of the day, I can rush out then and do it.  Or I can do what I did today, which was take both kids to the feed store because the chickens were out of food--a new bag of which A. bought before he left and then forgot about in the back of his car, which is currently in long-term parking at the airport--and then, while they were strapped in the car and thus immobilized, I took care of the sheep.

And when we got back from the feed store, I left them in the car again so I could do the chickens.

Really, if you think about it, the car is perfect.  It's warm; it's safe; they can't go anywhere; they're within sight of me the whole time through the windows.  I should do this every day, just strap 'em into their car seats and go about my garden chores or whatever.

Which brings me back to being glad I'm not a homesteading woman.  Because they didn't have cars, you know.  And probably they had way more children than I do.  Plus, you know, no running water or electricity or . . . Well.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: You can keep your good old days.  They sound like too much damn work to me.

* I talked to him this evening and he told me he was going to (re-) read The Lord of the Rings in his hotel room and then go to sleep.  I said I was going to can pickled beets.  We are the biggest nerds in the whole world, it appears.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Rich Inner Life

I'm very glad that Cubby is such an imaginative child.  He spends much of his day acting out the things in his head: Flying his plane (the baby activity station with a chair pulled up to it), driving a train (the coffee table with a chair pulled up to it), hunting (you've seen how that goes), and talking about his imaginary friend.

His imaginary friend is (wait for it) . . . Suction Cup.

Yeah, that's what I said.  Suction Cup.  I refuse to speculate about why he has made his imaginary friend a suction cup of all damn things.  It's . . . weird.  Yes, weird.  That's the word for it.

Suction Cup isn't always around, but he'll enter the conversation very unexpectedly.  Cubby will be flying his plane or hunting and then all of the sudden announce that Suction Cup is still sleeping.  And he sleeps in a crib because he's a baby suction cup.

But then the next day Cubby will announce that Suction Cup is doing something very dangerous and he (Cubby) had better go see what it is.  So Cubby runs into the other room, has a one-sided conversation, and returns to inform me that Suction Cup is using a chainsaw.  But it's a small chainsaw, and Suction Cup is a big boy, so it's okay that he's using the chainsaw.

Suction Cup has been variously described as having tentacles, fur, and glasses.  Sometimes he swims.  He likes to eat cod fish.  And lollipops.

Maybe there's a whole family of suction cups, a whole tribe even.

I really have no idea what is going on in that head of Cubby's, but it sure is entertaining to get a glimpse every now and then.

Monday, January 14, 2013


How long is Charlie, you ask? (Well, one of you asked.) He's 28 and a half inches.  Also 17 pounds and 2 ounces.  Which is one LOOOONG, kind of skinny six-month-old.

He is also in some kind of unpleasant period in which he is either growing (AGAIN) or getting his first tooth. I think both. And that means (all you parents out there chime in!) the sleeping goes all to shit.

Not that he was an all-star at the sleep before, but now it's just back to the every few hours waking up and wanting to eat.

So.  Bigger baby with teeth in progress, along with more black circles under my eyes and a complete inability to remember--upon the random inquiry of Cubby--the name of the limpet in that one episode of "The Cat and the Hat" that we watched about two weeks ago. Until 2 a.m., when it suddenly comes to me:  Larry.  Of course!  Larry the Limpet!

See?  My brain functions totally normally!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

With the Speed of Light

Charlie is six months old today.

What?  How?  I don't know either.

Pretty much all you need to know about Charlie is that I sing the (first) refrain of "You Are My Sunshine" to him every night as I put him in his pajamas, and I mean every single word of it*.

Also, I wish this for him:


* You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
   You make me happy when skies are gray
   You'll never know, dear, how much I love you
   Please don't take my sunshine away