Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cold and Windy

That pretty much says it all about the weather the past few days. I've been trying to stay indoors as much as possible. This kind of weather is just inhospitable.

Mia and Rita say the couch in the kitchen is very hospitable and that's where you'll find THEM, thanks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chickens, Raccoons, and Dogs--Oh My

Yesterday afternoon A. let a few of the sheep out of the pasture to wander around and graze on whatever grass they could find. Later in the afternoon, he went out to put them back in their pasture. I stayed inside, because the wind was blowing at a sustained 40 miles an hour and I didn't want to leave my warm chair.

Helpful? Yup, that's me.

Next thing I know, there's the sound of pounding feet on the back stairs. I could not imagine what A. might need to herd his sheep that was located upstairs, and was that urgent. But still, I was too lazy to leave my warm chair. Two minutes later, A. came crashing through the door announcing he had shot a raccoon in the ram pasture. He spotted the coon near the chicken coop, where it had undoubtedly been snacking on the chicken food. Luckily, the chickens had run off, because it was definitely big enough to kill a chicken.

A., knowing how vicious raccoons can be, and also knowing that there is a strong likelihood that a raccoon out in the daytime is rabid, elected to not go after it with a stick. Smart man. So he raced back to the house, upstairs, where he grabbed his gun and ran back to the ram pasture. There he found that the dogs had treed the coon. And then he shot it out of the tree.

Some of you may think raccoons are cute. You would not think they were cute if you could see what they will do to chickens if given the opportunity. Without going into the gory details, I'll just say that coons don't just kill chickens. So it was really best that this coon was killed, especially given the possibility that it was rabid. That said, I was not particularly enthused about viewing the coon, but A. wanted me to see it, so I dutifully trooped up the pasture. I agreed that yes, it was very large, and yes, the dogs were very good dogs for helping in the hunt. Then I ran back inside because my face was freezing off in the wind.

You just never know what a day at Blackrock will bring.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Satan's Wire

I have this thing with chicken wire. The thing being that I absolutely hate it, and yet cannot avoid it.

I think this is true for anyone who has to work with chicken wire. It's just so . . . poky. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of handling this marvelous stuff, chicken wire is cheap, flexible, lightweight wire fencing. The holes in it are only about an inch in diameter, which means it can keep out everything larger than a mouse. I suspect this is what gave chicken wire its name, since it will keep out anything large enough to prey on a chicken.

However, in light of its wretched and malevolent characteristics, I propose finding another appropriate name for this wire. My current favorite at the moment is Satan's wire. Catchy, no?

You might surmise, based on this little rant, that I had a run-in with chicken wire yesterday. You would be correct. A. put some of the sheep in the paddock near the house, so I had to cover over the livestock gate in the paddock so Rita couldn't climb through the slats to chase the sheep around and eat their mineral. She sometimes loves the sheep a little too much.

This project required dealing with a ten-foot piece of chicken wire. Among the many irritating things about chicken wire: it curls in on itself given the slightest opportunity; it snags on anything you might be passing as you carry it (branches, fences, blades of grass); and it scratches viciously.

It's the last one that really irritates me. See, chicken wire (or Satan's wire, as I believe I will actually begin to refer to it) is cut to fit whatever it's being used for. That means that every one of those little holes, all the way down the strip of fencing, has to be snipped. And that results in multiple sharp bits of wire sticking out from the edges of the fencing. These sharp bits are what scratch the shit out of my hands every time I have to deal with Satan's wire*. Yesterday's little project resulted in eight (yes, I counted) little bleeding scratches on both hands, which felt just DUCKY when I got vinegar on my hands while making dinner last night.

Those sharp bits are also what catch on my clothing every time I go in and out of gates with the wire on them, which is almost all of them. Because as evil as this fencing material is, it is also virtually indispensable if you have animals.

You might call it a necessary evil. I'm just going to call it Satan's wire, myself.

* Allow me to forestall all comments along the lines of, "Just wear gloves, you moron." No. I can't do this kind of work with gloves on. Any gloves thick enough to withstand poking by wire are clumsy and awkward and I can't twist wire or do anything else requiring any kind of dexterity when I'm wearing them. So there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Laundry Weather

Hanging laundry on the line when there's snow on the ground seems counter-intuitive.

And yet . . .

That was yesterday. And despite the snow and the fact that the sun went away about two minutes after I took that photo, the clothes did get almost dry. I just had to throw them in the dryer for about 20 minutes to finish up. So snow should be no obstacle to hanging laundry*.

This morning, however . . .

Not a good laundry day.

Winter has finally really arrived.

* The freezing cold hands that result from handling wet laundry outside when it's 25 degrees might be an obstacle, though.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Betcha Can't Guess What I Did Yesterday

Wait. You DID guess? Damn, you're good.

Okay. Blackrock is ready. BRING ON THE CHRISTMAS.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tree Farmin'

We went to get our Christmas tree yesterday. Yes, it's a real one. And no, it is not from our back 40.

We don't have a back 40. Because we don't have that much land. Sad.


We go to someone else's back 40. And by that I don't mean one of those spiffy tree farms where they have carolers and horse-drawn sleigh rides and cocoa for the kiddies, in addition to trees. No, I mean someone's house surrounded by firs and spruces, where they leave a hacksaw hanging on their barn door and you can wander around their property, cut your tree, and drop ten bucks into a bird feeder.

I'm not joking about the hacksaw on the barn door. Or the bird feeder. They don't even have a sign. But they do have some pre-cut trees that they leave in their front yard, in case you don't want to cut your own. We ended up paying the extra five dollars for a pre-cut one. But we still walked around their property for awhile, because Mia was with us and it was nice to let her run around without fear of her getting shot by a hunter.

I also got to view some massive pine logs that A. scored. His sister is caretaker on a property where the owner wanted to cut down a bunch of trees and didn't care what happened to the trees after they were cut. These trees were hundred-year-old Ponderosa pines and English walnuts. And he didn't care about the wood. Then again, he lives in Florida, so what's he going to do with a dozen felled trees?


The owner may not have cared about the trees, but A. did. Deeply. He went over there while the tree service guys were working and managed to get them to haul the cut trees up to his friend's property to await the arrival of a guy with a portable sawmill. The pine logs, which are about a foot and half in diameter, are going to be cut into huge pine boards. Eat your heart out, Dad.

I don't have pictures of any of this stuff because the batteries in the camera I brought with me were dead. Because I am cursed when it comes to cameras. So just imagine a large collie frolicking amidst the evergreens and many enormous pine logs, and you've got my day yesterday.

The end.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Running Hot

I have this problem with my internal thermostat. That is, it's set to keep me as warm as possible in our cold-ass house. The problem comes in when I go anywhere else. I overheat like a car with a bum radiator. Every time.

It doesn't matter if I wear short sleeves. Which I do when I leave our house, even in the coldest part of winter. It doesn't matter if I'm drinking ice water. It is absolutely inevitable that half an hour after entering a normally heated home, my face will be bright red (thanks to my Irish ancestors for this charming trait!) and people will start asking me if I'm okay. They're no doubt worried I'm about to pass out. That's how flushed I get.

A.'s family has become accustomed to seeing me looking like some kind of florid drunkard, since I look like this at every holiday gathering. Other people still get alarmed by it, though.

We went to two parties yesterday. One was at a family member's house, which meant I could get beet red (and I did!) and no one would really remark on it. The other was at a non-family member's house. Which meant I found a spot between two open windows (it was a really crowded cocktail party--the open windows were needed to cool the inferno) and basked in the 30-degree breeze.

The annoying part of this is that I'm still cold in my own house most of the time. I just can't win.