Saturday, April 5, 2008

Talkin' Trash

Taking out the trash to me used to mean wheeling the trash can to the curb on the right day. But here, where we live the simple life (simple, my ass--I'd like to have a few words with whoever came up with that phrase) far from the reach of such things as municipal services, Saturday means one thing: It's Dump Day.

Before we hop in the pick-up truck to go to the dump, we must gather the trash. We do this by category, because the town likes us to do all the work for them and separate all the different kinds of trash before we get to the dump. So there's newspapers,cardboard boxes, plastic and glass to recycle, and the real trash. And God forbid you just throw the real trash in any old bag you may have around. No, it must be in a clear plastic bag, so they can see what you're throwing in the compactor. In our case this week, that meant they had a lovely view of the intact deer leg, hoof and all, I had taken from the dogs and put in the trash. Hey, they wanted to see.

We usually only have one bag of real trash. At $2 a bag, we have a good incentive to make as little real trash as possible. So we chuck all the junk in the back of the pick-up and drive the 5 miles or so to the dump. I always thought a dump would be just a huge mound of trash, with bears pawing through the refuse, like in "The Great Outdoors." Remember that? When John Candy puts candy bars on the hood of his car to entice the bears closer and then they get on his car and he drives off with them on the hood? Ha!

Wait, let's get back on track. So the dump is actually kind of boring, all neat and with separate dumpsters for everything. That picture you see of it required me to climb on the ramp leading to the scrap metal dumpster, in full view of everyone at the dump. When A. went into the dump man's little hut to pay, the dump man pointed and laughed at me and asked (not unreasonably) what I was taking pictures of the dump for. And what does my loving husband say to him? "Oh, she's just crazy like that sometimes." Wait, what? That's the best he could come up with? So now the dump man thinks I'm crazy. Not that I should care what the dump man thinks, but now every Saturday, I'll know he's just sitting in his little hut judging me. Bastard.

So, yeah. That's what I do every Saturday morning. And did I really just write a whole post about trash? Yes, indeed I did. Aren't you glad you came by today?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Excuse Me

I feel the need to clarify, if only for my dad's sake: I am not the upstatekris who is posting dirty videos on YouTube. Seriously, if you put "upstatekris" in a Google search (not that I'm egotistical enough to search for myself on Google. Ahem.) you get me, wholesome, innocent, just trying to have a good time, and THIS OTHER CHICK, using my name and trying to have a whole other kind of good time.

There is also some girl also named Kristin, who also lives in upstate New York, and her MySpace page has pictures of the lead singer of Rascal Flatts. This offends me on many levels. I am not to be associated with her, either.

AND, there's already another blog called "Going Country," written by some people in Appalachia. I did not think to look this up before starting mine, because of course I couldn't believe anyone but me would be original enough to make a clever word play on the Alan Jackson song. Maybe they'll get tired of their hogs or whatever and move back to the city and have no need for a country blog any longer. I'll wait. I'm going nowhere.

Anyway, that's why I decided to use my real first name in my profile, lest I be confused with the dirty upstatekris who has nothing to do with me, I swear. Now that nasty girl is all that will come up if you search for upstatekris on Google. I wouldn't recommend it.

But I'm not changing the title of this blog. You, in the Appalachian holler! Even though you had the name first, please find another name. Throw me a bone--I gotta have something of my own.

Thank you for your attention.

Meet the Family

Because I may occasionally talk about the animals as if they are people and everyone should know who they are (I don't get out much, okay?), and because you may be getting tired of reading about me yakking about ME ME ME! all the time, I thought I should introduce you to the cast of characters here on the mini-farm.

Meet Lassie. I mean, Leda. But I sometimes call her Lassie, because, come on, wouldn't you? Leda is our oldest dog, and she takes her responsibilities very, very seriously. Look at how alert that dog is. What is it, girl? Is it a mountain lion? Is it a crazed gunman come to mow down Timmy? Oh, it's a squirrel. Leda saves the day again.

But seriously. Everyone loves Leda, and Leda loves everyone. Especially the UPS guy, because he always gives her a dog biscuit. I think he does this for other dogs to prevent them from leaping at his throat when he gets out of the truck, but I know he just gives it to Leda because she's so fluffy and cute. No one is afraid of Leda. Except the squirrels, possums, rabbits, raccoons, and woodchucks. And they should be afraid, because she will kill them. And then leave them on the lawn for me to dispose of. She always leads the hunt when I walk the dogs. She hasn't caught a deer yet, but she hasn't given up.

So if you ever come to visit us, Leda will probably be the first to greet you. Feel free to give her all the hugs and affection you want. Unless you have a pet rabbit with you, in which case, run.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Crass Commercialism

It's a beautiful, sunny day here on the mini-farm. So did I work outside, play with the dogs, bask in the spring sunshine? No. I was feeling cranky, so I went shopping. Clothes shopping. My mother will be so proud.

I realize this is not a big event for most people, but then again, most people also don't have to drive 60 miles roundtrip to get to the nearest Victoria's Secret. And I'm not going to show you a photo of what I bought there (thanks, Tara!), because I feel funny showing the Internet my new underwear. I will share with you, however, that I actually found a bathing suit that doesn't make me look like the "Before" pictures on "Extreme Makeover," so praise Jesus' precious name, for that is a damn miracle.

So if you came here today hoping for more thigh-slapping adventures from the country, I am sorry. I know the title of this blog is "Going Country," not "Going Shopping." This is all I got from the rural files today though:

On my way into the city on one of the small rural roads I took, I crawled along for awhile behind a very large tractor driven by a very old man. The trailer behind the tractor had something in it that looked like cotton. Except I don't think people grow cotton around here. Not that I would know a field of cotton unless the plants had Fruit of the Loom on them--identifying crops is not exactly my strong suit. Anyway, on my way home on the same road, I got behind the very same very old man, pulling a now-empty trailer. I felt like I should pull up and ask how the work was coming along. I mean, I'd followed him for several miles both ways, so I felt like we should be acquainted.

But instead I whipped around him the first chance I got and resumed my 60 mile an hour pace. Yes, I left an old man on a tractor in my dust today. My Nissan rules!

And now, I'm going to go examine my purchases again. But I highly doubt I'll be driving the 60 miles to take anything back. Living in the country is a great cure for buyer's remorse.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Airing My Dirty Laundry

The scene in this photo makes me happier than I ever thought I would be over some rags hanging on a length of nylon. Ah, how circumstances can change our perspective. Allow me to explain.

We have a washing machine, but no clothes dryer. There comes a point in the fall when I give up on washing clothes at home and hanging them on the clothes line to dry. If I were still in Phoenix, where it's sunny 364 days a year, I could dry clothes outside year round. But this ain't Phoenix. So in the fall, when I get tired of hanging clothes outside that start breeding bacteria before they dry, I begin the tedious Laundromat Season. The nearest laundromat is 10 miles away, so doing laundry is a definite planned event. And every time I haul our over-large laundry basket that is invariably over-full of clothes down the icy steps, into the car, across the icy parking lot, and into the laundromat, I wonder how in God's name do two adults manage to produce so much laundry in seven days?

We are dirty. That's how. Just walking out the door can get you dirty here. I'm not one of those people who washes clothes after every wearing (or even after every 2 or 3 wearings--why bother when the clean pants will just get nasty too?), and when our clothes are dirty, they are filthy. Crusted with mud, or sheep shit, or blood, or a combination of the three.

Which brings me to another reason I'm happy to hang things on the line again: washing our stuff makes washing machines dirty. The washing machine will have leaves, grass, and a ring of dirt on the bottom when the washing is done. The above photo is a good example. In that photo are towels that were on the ground next to the lawn tractor for months, a blanket that was in the sheep pen during lambing (best not to think about the foul substances that lurk on that), and some rags I used to polish brass. This stuff has been hanging around for much of the winter because I don't want to sully the clean public laundry machines with our dirty secrets.

But now it's spring, the clothes line can be used once again, and I can wash my shameful laundry without having to confess our filthiness to anyone else. Except you, of course.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Pit of Despair

Did you ever see "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves?" You know, the one with Kevin Costner speaking with a truly atrocious British accent and acting as wooden as the trees in Sherwood Forest? Remember the very first scene, where all those guys are being tortured in a dungeon? Yeah, that could have been filmed on location in my cellar.*

Cellars are relatively new to me. They're not my native habitat, so to speak. But I think this one could win a prize for "Freakiest Underground Lair." To start, it's what you might term "unfinished." And by unfinished I mean dirt floor, original (1860s) foundation walls dripping with condensation, spider webs with mummified and albino insects swinging from the low ceiling. That kind of unfinished.

Also, the cellar has rooms. It's not one open space--there are walls dividing what we call the Furnace Room, the Cistern Room, the Plant Room. These could have originally been called the Iron Maiden Room, the Rack Room, the Water Torture Room. It's that kind of place. We killed some of our turkeys for Thanksgiving, and for awhile they were hanging by their feet in the Cistern Room. And it wasn't even a surprise to come upon a few dead birds hanging down there.

Pictures don't really do it justice, because if you use the flash, it looks brighter than it really is, but if you don't use the flash, you can't see a damn thing. The above photo shows the hole in the Cistern Room that actually leads to the (old, leaking, and currently unused) cistern. And no, I do not know what that is balancing on the ledge. It appears to be an ironing board? Hell, I don't know. I try not to look in there.

I do not like going into the cellar. I'm always afraid I'm going to fall down the steep stairs, the dirt floor is always a little wet, and once I found a dead mouse in the washing machine down there. The MiL also told me that she found a bat in the washing machine once. I really wish she hadn't shared that.

I just don't get a good vibe from the place, man. But I'm all about conquering my fears (not really), so maybe I should make a concerted effort to go in the cellar more. Maybe I should even sleep down there when the weather's really hot and the cellar is the only comfortable place in the house. Or maybe I should just admit that I'm a sissified city slicker and make the real country folk go down there for me as much as possible. Yeah, I think I like that option better.
*Yes, I know my post title is referencing a different movie. I'm allowed to mix up my movie references if I want to. It's my damn blog. And if you're any friend or relation of mine, you will know what these two movies are. Or you will find out and go watch them. Thank you.

Monday, March 31, 2008

In Praise of Rubber Boots

There are many things I never thought about when I lived in a city that are now of great importance to me. Potable water, for instance. It's like Mexico in this house--you don't want to drink the tap water. Or the weather. Who cares what the weather's going to be like when you're inside most of the day? But here, where I spend a good part of my day running in and out, tending to various animals, dumping the compost, and other activities that require me to change out of my slippers more than I would like, the weather matters quite a lot.

Today's weather called for rain, and lots of it. Which means two major things: 1) I have to remember to check that the sump pump has turned on and the cellar isn't flooding, and 2) Every time I step out that door, I have to put on the rubber boots. Because you see, one of the things I never thought about in the city was mud. Why would I? Every surface I had to walk on was paved; mud just isn't much of an issue in the concrete jungle. But of the 5 acres of our property that isn't covered by the house, I'd say 99% of it is not only not paved, but is a quagmire of viscous ooze. Check out the photo above. Try to navigate that in your stilettos. The appropriate footwear is key, and the only appropriate footwear is knee-high rubber boots. They allow me to splash about with no fear of wet feet or ruined shoes. My rubber boots are actually the MiL's rubber boots, as we luckily share close enough to the same foot size. They aren't the cute ones you sometimes see in "Cosmopolitan," in one of those features about "Stylish Rainy-Day Wear." They don't feature lady bugs or colorful stripes. They are, in fact, men's boots, and quite ugly. But they keep my feet dry and the mud off my pants, so they are the ultimate fashion accessory here in my own rain-sodden mud pit.

In case you were wondering, they are Tingleys. And I love them with a devotion I never would have imagined possible for rubber footwear. All I can say is: Go get you some.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


We have three collies. Collies are a great breed, and their reputation was immeasurably enhanced by the "Lassie" multi-media extravaganza. But only one of our collies looks like Lassie. By which I mean, she's a great ball of brown fluff. She also has an over-developed sense of responsibility and doesn't feel comfortable unless she's stationed out front, guarding us from all those crazed cyclists on the road. The other two are smooth collies, which have shorter hair. They can't sack out in a snow bank comfortably like the fluffy one can (and will), but I also don't have to chase them down to pull burdocks out of their butt-skirt, like I do with the fluffy one.

Now, these dogs are purebreds, and I bet that there hasn't been a working dog in their lineage for a hundred years. But you should have seen my dog, Mia, when we first got sheep. Talk about the herding instinct. She loves the sheep with an undeniable passion. Maybe she thinks she is a sheep. She certainly always wants to be around sheep. And now that we have lambs, my God. The dog has found her calling in life. She is undeterred by the regular buttings she receives from the irate mothers when she gets too close to their babies--she's bound and determined to hang with that flock. She'll follow them all over the property. I wouldn't say she's particularly useful with them, since her main objective seems to be to play with the lambs. Which, if the way she plays with the cat is any indication, would involve gnawing gently on their heads and emitting high-pitched yelps of excitement. But the mothers don't let her get that close, which keeps the lambs' heads free of the drool that regularly encrusts the cat's head, at least.

The point is, I am sure Mia can be counted upon to protect her buddies the sheep. But I think Timmy had better plan on saving his own stupid ass from that well.