Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Glamorous Life

Poor Big Red. He never gets a break. Last weekend we had him hauling far more hay than a truck his age should be expected to handle, and yesterday A. drove him off-road into the pasture where I proceeded to fill up his bed with really filthy sheep bedding.

He's a long-suffering truck, and I'm sure will get his reward in the next life. In this life, however, there is garden mulch to be had from the sheep barn. And Big Red is just the guy for the job.

Well, Big Red and his sidekick A. Plus Cubby the Supervisor.

I had started to move the bedding out of the barn in the pasture and into the garden with the wheelbarrow. I did two loads that way before deciding, "SCREW THIS. Not efficient. Get that truck up here."

So A. drove Big Red right up to the barn and I spent a really aromatic 45 minutes forking an unholy mixture of straw, sheep shit, and urine into the truck bed. This had been accumulating all winter from the hay the sheep wasted and spread around, then conveniently fertilized for me. It was at least a few inches deep everywhere, more like half a foot deep in some spots. I had to use the pitchfork to dig it out, because it gets kind of matted and solid and has to be sort of peeled up.

Smells just about like it looks. That is, like shit.

I do not enjoy mucking out the barns. I mean, obviously. NO ONE enjoys mucking out barns. But in an attempt to keep ahead of the weeds in the garden a little better than I did last year (which was, uh, not really at all ahead), I knew I would need a LOT of mulch around the plants. And what better for mulching than half-decomposed and pre-fertilized straw? It's right there, right? Free for the taking, and anyway, if I'm going to be doing ridiculous things like this with those infuriating animals, I might as well get some use out of them.

You can't see all the little flies or gnats or whatever that swarm around this stuff. It's gross.

Gross it may be, but it will make for some happy plants. Once I get out there and actually spread it all around. You'll notice that it's just hanging out in the garden right now. I figured that was prudent, to make sure it had off-gassed any noxious fumes that might burn my plants.

See? I can learn.

Anyway, I only mucked out about an eighth of all the muck that's up there, so we should have enough to cover the entire garden in all-natural, totally free mulch. Assuming my back and the pitchfork hold out.

Happy Saturday, duckies!

Friday, June 10, 2011


To pick up where we left off with yesterday's cliffhanger, because I know you were worrying about my laundry all day yesterday . . . yes, I did hang Cubby's laundry outside. And yes, it did get all dry on the line without any unexpected soakings from thunderstorms.

In fact, it didn't rain at all yesterday. BOO. I mean, yes, I wanted my laundry to dry, but I also wanted some rain for the poor plants in the garden that are already dry and have been for some days.

This gardening season is shaping up to be a cruel joke, with nothing but rain in the spring that delays planting, and then no rain at all when the plants are actually in the ground and need it.

It's cloudy right now, with some hopeful-looking clouds to the north--the direction from which our weather usually comes--so maybe we'll be lucky today.

Yes, one day I'm hoping the rain stays away so I can dry my laundry, and the next I'm doing a rain dance so the garden gets some water without us having to haul it in watering cans. Why doesn't Mama N. just hand over this weather thing to me so I can control it to suit MY needs? That would really be more convenient. For me. And isn't that what it's all about? Me?


Happy Friday, duckies!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Nerve-wracking Laundry Day

Today is a Cubby Laundry Day, which means many small articles of clothing that are even now spinning about in the washing machine and getting presentable again. But now the question: Do I hang them on the clothesline?

Here's the issue: We have a likelihood of thunderstorms today. Strong thunderstorms, the kind that, if they actually occur, will totally soak anything outside within seconds. Including laundry. If laundry gets caught in one of these storms, it will get wetter than when it was actually hung on the line.

But will the thunderstorms happen this morning? Or this afternoon? Late enough so I can hang the stuff and it will get dry--or at least mostly dry--before the storm comes? Or will I hang it out, it will get mostly dry, and then I won't be able to get it off the line before the storms hit and so it will all get soaked and have to be machine dried anyway? Do I just save myself the stress and put it right in the dryer, thereby possibly wasting the propane if we don't actually get ANY rain today, which is a possibility?

You see the problems I have. It's a pressure cooker of a situation, really.

However, the sun is currently out and the washing machine just stopped. I will take that as a sign and go hang the clothes out. I'm all about living dangerously.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shoes at the Ready

It's supposed to be 93 degrees today. If you need us, we'll be in the lake.

Our water shoes are lined up and ready to go.

Stay cool, poppets.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Cucumbers: IN.

Peppers, both hot and sweet: IN.

Onions: IN.

Corn: IN.

More turnips because the first ones I planted didn't do jack: IN.

More lettuce because we always intercrop lettuce with the corn: IN.

Left to plant: leeks, zucchini, butternut squash, melons, and the Chioggia pumpkin.

We're getting there . . .

P.S. Cubby wandered into the garden yesterday and started to play with the chives, pulling off the dried blossoms and pulling them apart. Since we were in the garden and he seemed absorbed, I started to weed the chard, glancing up every now and then to make sure he hadn't wandered away or started eating dirt or found a piece of glass in the ground or any of the other million ways he tries to sabotage himself because he is a toddler and that is what they do. At one of my glance-ups, I saw him put the end of a chive blossom in his mouth and take a bite. I waited for the inevitable spitting out of it and possible screaming, because that's damn near what I did the one time I put a whole chive blossom in MY mouth. Instead he just . . . kept on nibbling on it. And then he smelled like onions for the rest of the day. Such a weird child.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Toy (Box) Story

Many months ago, my father, the (not amateur) carpenter extraordinaire, promised that he would build Cubby a toy box. And I was thrilled, because his current toy box? A cardboard box from the liquor store on which the Jack Daniel's label was all too apparent. (You can see it in the background of this photo.) That's almost as classy as keeping bottles of liquor on the floor.

Luckily, we have my dad to save us from our trashy instincts.

So he went to work. I got many questions about preferred dimensions and type of wood and color. I mostly went with my standard, "whatever YOU think" response, because I am helpful.

Then Christmas came, and he was busy making other things for gifts. So the toy box had to wait.

Then he needed to get a special kind of saw to make it the way he wanted it. So it waited some more.

Then the hinges on the lid didn't work the way he wanted them to (that way being to keep the lid from smashing down quickly on Cubby's fingers). So it had to hang out in his shop a little longer while he fixed that.

But finally, one day, I got a call saying he was shipping the box via FedEx and to look for it in about a week.

WHEEE!!! I was way excited. And then it arrived and it looked like this:

Nice, FedEx. Real nice.

Of course, I did not know it looked like that until after I had removed the million layers of bubble wrap and felt wrappings and everything else my dad had encased it in so it would travel safely. So I couldn't bring the issue up with the delivery guy.

It probably wasn't his fault personally, but somewhere along the way, someone must have thrown this thing from a truck. Literally, thrown. That's the only way the top could have ripped off like that. I mean, this is not some flimsy piece of crap from Target; this is a solidly built, solid maple box. FedEx must have been very, very mean to it to break it like that.

I was pissed. So was my dad. He filed a claim and got some money. A. and I fixed the box.

Because we were trying very hard to keep it as pretty as my dad had made it, we didn't use our standard method of construction. That is, lots of nails and glue for structural strength with very little concern about the aesthetics of the final product. Aesthetics mattered for this project, so we spent a lot more time messing around with screws and glue. It was not as easy to put back together as we had originally thought, thanks to some actual broken screws and stripping of holes and general brokenness.

Once again, FedEx, may I commend you on your careful handling of a family heirloom in the making?

But we did it. Okay, mostly A. did it while I tried to brace things and keep Cubby from playing with the electric drill.

So kudos to A. for rescuing the busted toy box and making it pretty again.

And even more kudos to my dad, because would you just LOOK at this thing?

Cubby's a pretty lucky little dude.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Up and At 'Em

First of all, a big, public, and heartfelt thank you to my angelic child, who chose this particular morning to sleep in. Which means that I got to sleep in, and thus managed to sleep from 8:30 last night until seven this morning. I feel better than I did yesterday at this time. Just a little.

Cubby did not choose to sleep in yesterday morning, instead waking up at 6 a.m. in a less-than-stellar mood. Two minutes after he woke up, the phone rang, catapulting A. out of bed, into his clothes, and into his truck to race off to get hay.

It was the owner of the stables where the MiL rides calling, you see, to tell A. that it looked like rain at his place and A. had better get his ass up and get that hay under cover.

Not in so many words, but that was the idea.

See, this guy buys a lot of hay for his stables, obviously, and because he buys so much of it, he gets a much cheaper price for it. This particular hay he had delivered on Friday was the first cut (farmers cut their hay more than once in a season--it's kind of like a lawn), which is the highest quality hay. It was also in small, square bales. Which is why A. was ALL OVER IT when this guy asked if A. would like to add a hundred bales or so onto the larger order for himself. The small bales aren't made so much anymore, which is too bad if, like us, you have no machinery.

The huge rectangular or round bales that are more common these days have to moved with tractors and such. We have no tractor. When A. gets one of the big bales, the farmer has to load it on the truck for him and then to unload it, A. can either roll the round bale with tremendous effort--something anyone with normal strength couldn't even begin to try and A. can only barely manage--or he can take the bale apart and move it with a pitchfork as loose hay.

Major pain in the ass.

The small bales are only around fifty pounds, so even I can move them. And move them I did.

A. arrived back home around 7:15 with a load in his truck and the very nice stable owner following with a load in his truck. The kind man helped A. load and unload the hay and made two runs in his own truck, which is a lot bigger, newer, and heavier-duty than Big Red, and so can carry a lot more hay. Without his help, it would have taken A. several more hours and many additional trips.

Leda didn't want to help, as you can see. Lazy dog.

They threw the hay off onto the grass by the driveway and then we started moving it into the small barn in the garden. A. had hay hooks--these look like huge fishing hooks with a handle, so you can hook the bale in the side and hold it--so we each took a hook, stabbed the bales, and dragged them into the barn, where A. stacked it. The MiL and I helped with the first load, and then A. finished up by himself.

A sight that, as a child, I never would have imagined seeing out my door.

It took about three hours to get the stacking done. A. finished around 11 a.m. It started to rain at noon. So you see, it was a good thing we started the day at 6 a.m. Or 4 a.m., in my case.

We were all definitely ready for bed by eight last night, though. More Saturday fun at Blackrock.