Monday, April 29, 2013


We're kind of between here at the moment--after the colder hardy crops are planted and before the warmer weather crops can be planted.  This means, of course, that I could relax and wait, but nah!  I can find a million other things to do.

Currently, I'm painting the back deck.  The stain is crazy expensive, so it's going slowly, a gallon at a time.  As I am doing that, I am faced with the problem of the two concrete pads that are located at the foot of the two staircases on the deck.  They are ugly.  One is small, and one is large and cracked, and both were stained by me years ago, and it's worn away and they look horrible. Well, I didn't want to go through all the trouble of having a nicely painted deck and crappy concrete, so I tackled it.  I painted it with that Restore stuff first, and thought I'd leave it at that.  But the Restore color is very dark brown, and it made the concrete look like a black hole.  I didn't like that, so I got creative.

Using the stain I had left over from the first time I stained the pads, I went to it and made a design.

If the diamonds look a little "wonky", that's because I free-handed them.  Ok, I used a straight edge, but that's it.  I don't do math if I don't have to.  I'm a right brainer, after all!

This was easy to do, especially because I didn't bother measuring anything.

I was so happy with it and if looked so nice, I went to tackle the large side.  But I didn't want to do the same thing.  So I did this:

The "S", of course, is for Superman.
Or possibly our last name. 

Which nearly put me in the loony bin.

See those little amoebas?  That's a stencil that I applied over and over and over and over. First one way, then the other.  Holy cow.

I realized, when I had done three or four that it was going to be a horrible job and take forever.  But at that point, I had no more dark paint to paint over it and change my mind, so I was committed.  It took forever.  I have a hunch in my back from leaning over.  But it's done, and I like it.  I think it looks like a rug--kinda.

At least, that's what my daughter's friend said it looked like. 

But she's 11, so I'm not sure if that's good or not.

I think it's interesting and not a boring concrete pad, and that's what I like about it.  I'm hoping it lasts a little while, but this pad gets beat to hell with the traffic and the hose nearby, so I'm not holding my breath.  I'll be happy to get a couple of years out of it. 

And that's all I have to say about that.

Next time I will show you how the chicks are growing (huge) and how Minerva is growing (huge-er), promise

Take care!!

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Thursday, April 25, 2013


  • I had to go to the bank this morning, and I used the drive-up window.  Actually, it's not the window, it's the vacuum tube thingy.  This bank has a drive up window, but they never open it, they only ever open the second lane with the vacuum tube.  Anyway, while I was waiting (forever--there is only one employee at any time) this gigantic car pulls up next to me--you guessed it--right at the CLOSED drive up window.  The light on that side is red--there's no way to make that mistake.  Closed is closed.  Anyway, I was still waiting, and so was this woman, who was sitting in the closed lane, and she was getting very impatient.  So much so, that she got her butt out of her seat to bang on the drive up window.  Of the closed lane, mind you.  I couldn't see much else, because her car was SO frikkin' big, but it's obvious the bank did not know that the Empress of America was coming in to do her banking today.  Shame on them.  I am glad to report, however, that her Highness did get service finally and was able to drive away in her monster gas-guzzler before my transaction was even done, though I was there first.  Serves me right to bank on the same day as royalty.

  • I have been working like a madwoman lately to repaint the forty acres of railroad ties that we have surrounding our house.  When it was built, the front door was a good 5 feet off of the ground, causing there to be either a long stairway to it, or a large concrete pad put up to it with gradual stepping up and down.  Luckily, the people who built the house chose the latter, and we have a really nice stone-textured pad with steps that go sideways and not directly TO the front door.  But with the huge concrete pad came the problem of covering up the sides, which they chose to do with railroad ties.  It's fine, and when they are stained a dark color I think they look nice, but there are a THOUSAND of them, and a number of them have been beat all to hell in the weather.  My husband replaced quite a few, but some cannot be replaced easily.  So I have been using that Rustoleum Restore stuff on them.  It is the weirdest paint I've ever used.  It's like plastic pudding with bits of grit in it.  Though once it dries, it's rock hard and fuses to the wood and fills in all the cracks and big honking holes, of which there are quite a few.  I think it works a treat, but I swear the wood under there is smothering.  I can almost hear it gasping for breath.  Hopefully, though, it will prolong all the wood the 8-10 years as promised, so we don't have to do any of this again any time soon.

  • Speaking of changing things, we also put up a bit of fence in the backyard to give it some architecture, and we changed the shutters on the house.  We went from this,
Note some of the acres of railroad ties here
which looks like the roundup at the O.K. Corral, to this:

          which is much, much, much better, even though the picture's not that great.  And I love it, despite what anyone else thinks.  Love with a capital L.  Now if we could only thatch the roof, I think that would be grand.

  • My husband brought home a bunch of pallets the other day, and I've been having a ball with them.  Those things are so useful, and I have plans for all of them.  In fact, I'll be sending him out to get more soon.  I will share the results, I promise!

  • The plants I ordered in the fall have been arriving in drips and drabs, so I've been planting a bit, too.  There are several raspberries coming, and some white Rosa Rugosa, which I'm going to plant up against the little fence bit in the backyard.  It'll be beautiful when it fills in.  On top of that, my husband is going to plant grass back there, which will be a nice change from the dirt we have growing currently.   Unfortunately, this means the chickens will have to be in a run from now on.  Free ranging is wonderful, and I love having my chickens around me, but they are so destructive.  Mulch goes flying, plants get eaten, and every year they have at it with my annuals, and I just can't afford that.  I want pretty flowers, so the chickens will have to learn to live in a run.  We will expand it for them, but that's it.  There'll be no more random chicken-ness here (except maybe in the winter).

  • And, because I know you're all wondering, the last little bunny passed away yesterday.  What a fighter he/she was, but there was something going on he/she couldn't get away from and that was it.  Despite dragging a very unwilling Camille in for him to nurse, despite feeding him more often than I'd fed the last batch of littles, despite keeping him warm and leaving him be and trying to give him fluids and electrolytes, he just faded away.  No matter how much he ate or how long he nursed (he was at it for 10 minutes straight one time.  Boy, did Camille like that!), he never filled out and was always dehydrated.  The last little bunnies would grow before our eyes with a good meal, and when they were done, were fat as dumplings.  I could give this little guy a great meal, and it would make no difference.  He got thinner when he should have gotten fatter.  My heart still hurts from the losses.  There were just too many.

  • But it does leave me with the question of what to do with Camille.  Two litters, completely dead.  She has no mothering ability.  She's hard to handle, not particularly friendly, and doesn't really like to be touched.  I love her color, but I am thinking that the yarn she can make is not enough.  Camille may be re-homed at some point, I am still thinking about it.
And because I don't want to leave you on that horribly sad note, I will leave you with this:
  • I went to Tractor Supply yesterday, and walked in as a lamb in a diaper was walking out.  Well, with her owner, not by herself.  Can't have un-chaperoned lambs running about.  I laughed when I realized what was on the leash, and lady said "I know", like she was about to explain how odd she was for bringing a lamb into Tractor Supply.  Which of course prompted me to talk about how I had goats in diapers for a couple of weeks and was always tempted to bring them to the Tractor Supply, but demurred because I thought they'd climb the shelves.  So she's not so odd after all, or we're both odd.  Take your pick.  Anyway, the lamb's name is Pockets, and she is completely adorable.  And she fit a size 3 Pamper very nicely, tail hole and all.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Not Always the Way you Think

Well....I've been wrong before.

I said that all the little bunnies were going to live.  All 10 of them.  Because, Camille, who is a crappy mama, was going to be watched very carefully and live in the house.

It didn't matter.  And it seems to have not been Camille's fault, directly.  Oddly/interestingly/sadly enough, the babies have just been up and dying.  We are down to two.

I think by tomorrow, we'll be down to one, if any.

Having watched 8 babies die, I have come to the conclusion that there is some sort of genetic mishmash going wonky here.  They were fine for the first 3 days.  Then on the fourth day (Friday), we started to lose them by the bucketload--four in one day.  At first we suspected Camille was stepping on them, but Camille was removed and they died anyway.  Yesterday, we lost one more and I got to see what happened to the little one as he/she went.  First they get very skinny, which seems to happen despite being fed.  Then they get cold.  Usually they crawl away from the pack.  Then they stiffen up to the point of being frozen.  Their mouths open, and then their muscles relax, but then they gasp for breath until they die.

It's truly horrible. 

This morning, three more are gone, leaving the two above to remain.  The one on the right in the picture is showing signs of the "disorder".  He/she is getting thinner already, though he still ate and peed like a champ this morning.  All the bunnies, up to the point of dying, have been perfectly normal in all respects.  Then they thin out, get cold, and so on and so on.  It has been truly heartbreaking to watch.

Though I guess it leaves an interesting question behind.  Camille is a red Satin Angora.  Buckley is an Opal English Angora.  What is it about the two of them that should not be bred?  I can't say that I have completely ruled out environmental factors, but it seems that the combo of the two parents are what is causing these babies to die.  I'm wondering if it's linked to hair color, or the breeds together, or if one parent has something that got passed on, or if they both are heterozygous for something that, when put together, equals dead babies.

I don't know, and I'm going to look into it as much as I can.  If I get any answers, I'll let you know.  In the meantime, think good thoughts for these littles.  They're all that is left!
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Monday, April 15, 2013



Oh, fuggetit.  This is going to get ridiculous.  See?

Introducing Camille's decuplets!

She outdid herself. 

Nine the first time she gave birth, ten this time.

But this time, they're going to live.

Because I brought them inside for the birth.

Actually, I have a little sense of personal pride here--I made the right call at the right time and did the right thing.  I have a lot of medications in my little cabinet o' tricks, but in truth, I'd rather let nature take its course, unless dealing with an illness or injury.  Camille birthed one baby this morning.  I found it by accident, while giving the rabbits their hay.  It was off in a corner of her cage, grunting and nosing for mama, who was in the opposite corner, cringing.

Camille is a crappy, crappy mother. 

The baby was dry, and I have no idea how long it was out.  It was not cold, thankfully, but it was obviously as confused as I was about how it got there and when.  And Camille?  Well, she was looking at me like holycrap and stayaway, which are both the very Camille-ish communications that I get from her on a regular basis.  But one baby?  Nah.  Not Camille.  Camille gave me nine last time, there's no way there was just one little, wrinkly baby in there. 

A quick search around the cage yielded no more babies, and mind you, there was no nest.  So possibly this one was a surprise?  She was due today, so not really likely.  But where were the others?  Did she eat them?  Hmmm....

I had no answers.  I quick grabbed the grunting baby and brought it inside to warm up in a box, and then quick went out, grabbed a cage with a plastic bottom, filled it with hay, and then filled it with the complaining Camille.  As I did, I palpitated.  And felt heads and feet and a whole buncha body parts.  Obviously, she was not done.  I put her in the dark bathroom to rest and hopefully pop out the others that were waiting.

All day long. 

She was not in distress.  She was not even concerned.  But there were no babies, which is odd.  I palpitated again.  Heads, legs, little body parts.  They were still wiggling, which I took to be a good sign.  But Camille was uninspired to give birth to the rest.  Maybe she felt like she was done.  Maybe she'd reconsidered and decided that UN-birthed babies were far easier to take care of than birthed babies.  I dunno.  The day passed, and I began to be concerned.  Did she think she'd just put it off?  Not gonna happen--not on my watch.  After dinner, I went in to really take a look at Camille, which is something she really doesn't like.  I determined (as best I could) that she was open and dilated, just not making progress, and not really caring about it either way.  But the babies had stilled, and that made me worry.  So I grabbed the Oxytocin.

One quick shot.  A tiny shot--all of .3ccs.  That was it.  Right in her ample behind.  I was nervous as hell.  Oxytocin is not stuff to play with, it's serious stuff for serious business.  Did I just kill Camille?  Nothing happened for a minute.  Two minutes.  My daughter, who was waiting with me, asked "Is it going to do anything?"

But I knew it would be fast, so we waited a minute more.  And Camille, who was just laying there looking like she would rather be anywhere else, sat up and grunted.  And I said to my daughter "Here she goes."

And so she did.

In rapid succession, nine more little slippery, wrinkled babies proceeded to come out and make an appearance.    One after another after another after another.  They slid out, and mama went to work washing and cleaning them.  And under her they went to get a drink at the fountain.  And me?  I took pictures and then realized that in all the commotion I could probably just sneak that little one from this morning on under there and he/she'd get all slimy with the rest of them and Camille would never know.

And she didn't. 

All 10 babies were under there getting a drink and a licking and mama (and I) have no idea which one was from this morning and which ones were not.  Hallelujah.  I put some saved fur on top of them and walked away.

But Camille?  She's still a crappy, crappy mother.  As I wrote this, I checked on her, and she was sitting right on top of her baby pile.  Happy as a pig, smothering those little babies to death.  Yeah.  She stinks.

I put them in a box in the cage, safely out of her reach, but they'll all be staying in the house for a while.  This will be an adventure.  I see forced feedings in the future, and possibly bottle bunnies as well.  UGH.  Guess I can't ask for too much, right?  I'll keep you posted!

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

She's Here, She's There

She's dang near everywhere!

Friday it rained.  Actually, Thursday and Friday it rained.  No outside for me.  So I worked inside, instead

Could I have relaxed?

Should I have relaxed?
But you all know me by now.  Was I going to relax? 
So I did a little project.

We've lived in this house nearly three years, and things are getting done slowly.  We don't have a lot of money just kicking around, and that's a factor.  When we do have a little money, it goes to the outside and the animals or the crops or something to help us become more self sufficient.  It's very rare that we spend any money on the inside of our house because a) we don't have the money and b) the house is fairly new and technically doesn't need much.  We really can't argue with an 11 year old house which hasn't needed much but a few appliances replaced and some paint on it's walls--there's not much to do.  However, I do like to put my own stamp on things, so when we can I like to do something to the house that makes me happy (and hopefully everyone else that lives here, happy, too) and makes the house more like home.  On Friday I tackled a little project like that.

To say off the bat:  we live in a little house.  A little one-story house, to be exact.  No stairs, not many doorways, just a basic rectangle with walls inside (Do I love it?  Yes I do, but that's not the point).  The only entrance/egress in the house is the one in the two main areas of the house; that is, the big ol' doorway from the living room to the kitchen/dining room.  And it's boring.  And plain.  And, quite frankly, beat up because the kids wham into the walls when they go from one place to another, and they chip the paint. 

So for that fact alone (the chipping paint), I said to myself, "Self?  Time to do something about this."

So I did.

See this?  BORING!!!

So I dug up some leftover trim, bought a little additional trim, added a 1x8 and some additional pretty trim, and went to work.

I framed out the opening with the trim, and then gave it a "hat" of 1x8 and crown molding. 

On the other side, I put the applique from the sink cabinet on the 1x8.  Maybe you remember it from this picture?
As much as I liked that applique by the sink, I could not keep it clean.  It was so dimensional that everything got caught on it and it was always dirty.  So I gave up, peeled it off very carefully, and re-used it above the doorway.  It looks good there.
After the trim was all up, I painted, and Voila!!
One side....

And the living room side....
Taa daaaaa!
It's beautiferous!! 
I really like it, but I will admit, I am still getting used to it.  It's changed the room(s) a lot. 
That was my inside project.  I still owe you a picture of the finished kitchen, which I will take when I actually get the counters clean.  Along with that, I'll show you what I did with the extra tin from the backsplashes, which I think was kind of clever.  But that's another day, as the sun is out today, and I'm headed outside.
And speaking of outside....yesterday it was a nice day, so we did outside work.  One of the major problems we have here is MUD.  Lots of it.  Everywhere.  Messy, and I fall down in it a lot.  And get hurt.  And that stinks.  So we needed to put in paths.  The cheapest way to do it is gravel, called Item 4 here, used to make driveways.  We got a load yesterday and beat ourselves to death moving it.  But it was worth it.  See?

No more mud!  No more falling down me!  That is a happy, happy thing.
Yes, it's been a veritable hive of busyness here.  Today we will go outside and do some more stuff, because the list is long, my friends, very long.
Have a lovely day!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Not a Moment.... stop and blog.  It's been hopping here!!!

Oh hello, my friends!  It has been so busy!  I have hardly had time to sit down and rest, it's been so crazy.  But it's good.  I love the spring and the insane activity that comes with it.  It has warmed up considerably, so the days have just been a dream.  No winter coats, no hats, no boots.  Just me and maybe a sweatshirt, or -gasp- a t-shirt.  It's been wonderful, I am starting to get too used to it.

  • One of the big things we've done here is to put in the front garden.  We went from front lawn to:

Ta daa!!  That's 900 square feet of lovely garden space.  Added to the 2100+ in the back, we now have 3000+ square feet of garden space cooking here.  That's not counting the fruit trees and berry bushes, that's vegetable garden space alone. 

Not bad.  I am looking forward to seeing if the 900 extra square feet makes a big difference in production.  This new garden is lasagna-style, meaning piles of stuff and dirt that I planted with seeds.  I started with a THICK layer of straw/manure, added a THICK layer of leaves, and then on top, put 5 yards of beautiful, dark topsoil into beds.  I planted in the topsoil, and the roots can go down and eat up all the lovely nutrients underneath.  So far there are collards and spinach in here--  peas and lettuce went into the big garden in the back.  Soon enough the broccoli will be planted in here as well.

  • If you can see the rocks with the black chicken in front, that's a decorative bed that I added next to the garden.  It's going to have lavender in it, as well as some other perennials.  Finally, after three years, this yard has started to talk to me, and I am starting to form a plan for how it should look.  Yep, I know it sounds crazy, but I am a firm believer in the land telling me what it wants to be.  The last house we lived in was very suburban, and wanted a showpiece garden--which it got, with a lot of hard work.  It was nearly magazine ready, filled with perennials of many different types and flowering shrubs.  The nicest compliment I ever got on it was when we had sold it and were moving out.  A nice older couple had pulled up in front and were looking at it (and it was blooming big time), and said to me "We just want you to know, we would have loved to live in your house".  I think that's the nicest thing that someone could have said.  I certainly felt good.  But this house doesn't want that, and though I've been gardening it, it hasn't really told me what it's wanted.  Until now.  Now I think I know what it wants, and I'll be working towards it.  Expect many changes to come.

  • In other news, the kids have been growing.  You know, these kids:

Three weeks old now, and growing like weeds.  They drink milk like it's going out of style, and don't stand still.  They have been booted out of the house, because they climbed the coffee table one too many times, and now reside in the garage-barn in the dog kennel full of hay.  They have been disbudded (which sucked), but I don't think Max's took.  He had really big buds at the time, and I think I missed my window.  Oh well.  On Cynthia, however, it looks like it took, but only time will tell.  They spend their days with the big goats in the goat yard, and they love it.  The big goats have been very good to them and don't beat them up too much.  In fact, Cleo is a good mama and kind of looks out for them--within reason, of course.  They annoy her too much, and she'll whack them one.  But that's just goats in general.  :-)  They are eating hay a bit, and looking at the grain, but nothing there yet.  It'll come in time. 

  • Speaking of big goats, Minerva ripped off her half-a-horn three days ago.  I believe she was trying to get out of the gate again and got it stuck.  She stood up, and was bleeding like crazy.  The half horn was laying on the ground.  Catching her and treating it was extremely hard.  Horns are full of nerve endings, and she DID NOT want it touched, and I can't blame her.  The best I could do was unload a huge pile of Blood Stop Powder on the stump and wait.  As it was, it took half the bottle of the powder and 20 minutes to stop it from bleeding.  All the while, she did not want anyone near it.  After it had stopped, she stood off to the side of her yard for a couple of days, and was very careful about going into the house, but she's feeling better now.  The horn has stopped bleeding (it bled a couple of times afterwards, just a little at the tip), and she escaped the pen yesterday, so I think she's feeling better.  She now has just the one full horn on the left side of her head.  She looks lopsided.  But I think her experience is a PSA for disbudding, don't you?
There are a million other things I could tell you, but they'll wait.  Today I have to repot a bunch of seedlings that have grown too big for the little seed pots, and see what else I can do between raindrops.  Have a fantastic day!

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Just Call Me Mrs. Modify

Though it's been 30 odd degrees outside as of late, I've been feeling pretty clever.  Maybe it's the strawberry towers, but I'm feeling like "What else can I fiddle with?".  And then I look around, and think about what else I can change with what I have already, or what I can change by spending very little money.

One of the things I've been desperately needing is a cabinet to house the livestocks' medications.  Those of you who have a lot of different types of stock know, that the more types of stock you get, the more medications/vaccinations/first aid/wormers you need.  I have always had a bit of a small store because of the chickens and ducks and geese, but adding rabbits and especially goats to the mix has increased the need for the medications, and therefore the cabinet, 100 times.  I was housing the meds in a bunch of plastic cases, inside a big and cumbersome (and ugly) cabinet thing.  However, the system was stupid, and I was constantly moving things off the top of whatever I needed.  Not to mention that the cabinet was ugly as sin (wait, did I say that already?), gigantic, and in the way.  It wasn't working, so I've been on the lookout for some time for a smaller cabinet that could be housed elsewhere and could hold all the things I needed it to.

Yesterday I had my chance.  After scoping out every Goodwill and Salvation Army I could find, and finding nothing that I would want to put in my house (the 70's should not be brought back, folks.  Not ever), I settled on going to an antiques shop in nearby New Paltz. 

I LOVE antiques shops.  And garage sales.  And auctions with cool stuff.  I love to dig, I love to imagine, and I love to find "junk" and make it new.   Love, love, love.  Anyway, I spent a lovely morning in the antiques shop, touching and looking at things, and I swear I didn't see everything, no matter how many times I looked.  But I did find a small sewing cabinet that I could use to put the livestock stuff in, and for under $50, it was a bargain.  So I brought it home.

The inside was an empty space.

So I added some shelves with some 1x10.

Then I filled it up.

And it is perfect for all the "stuff" I have.  Best of all, when I close it, it's just another end table/cabinet thing, and it looks really nice in the living room, where it's kept.

It worked out well.  But then I was on a roll, and decided to try my hand at something else.  Easter day, I was looking through a magazine, and stumbled upon these.

HE--LLO!!  I realize I'm late to this party, but I love these.  At $100 each, I don't love them that much.  We have pendant lighting in our kitchen already.  They are nice downrods with a nice shade on them.  But wow, I just love these lights.  I set out to find a way to do them for us without spending $100 each, and without throwing out perfectly good pendant lights, which would really bother me.

Then I had a lightbulb moment.  I figured out that I could just cut a hole in the top of the jar (the top being the disposable tin sealing part), and screw the fixture thing to it, I could then attach the jar and BOOM!!  Same thing. 

So I did.


It worked!!  I used antique jars here, but I did not cut the zinc tops (that would be WRONG).  I used a new top, and-- thank you Ball--the new tops fit the old jars.  HE-LLO again!  Same thing, no money involved. 

However, I will come clean and say yes, I did buy fancy light bulbs for them.  I figured if I was going to see them, I would buy the old fashioned filament light bulbs the stores now have.  It looks really cool. 

I am very happy with them, and see?  I'm on a roll.  Don't stand too still around me, I might modify you as well!

Hopefully tomorrow will be warmer and I can get outside.  I have lettuce to plant, after all.  Come on, Spring!!!

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