Critter Update

Originally, I was going to post about my pumpkins or a full post on our new rabbit hutch system in all its glory.

Then, something crazy happened today. It turns out, you’re never too old for surprises.

So, instead, I’ve decided to give you an update on the animals you haven’t seen since they were chicks–or even since they were eggs. Plus, some details on our newest additions, and at the very end… our surprise. It’s both embarrassing and exciting all in one. Continue reading

Handing the Garden Over

I’m giving in. I have handed the garden over to the chickens.

These past few weeks, I haven’t been giving the garden the attention it needs, or that it deserved. I’ve put at least 1 bushel of tomatoes in the compost, likely more. I’ve let at least another half bushel or bushel go bad on the vine, all because of the simple fact that I got married. Continue reading

I Miss You, My Friend

I know what you’re thinking.

That I’ve forgotten about you.

That I’ve left you for someone else, someone with more chickens. Maybe a louder voice. A louder friend. You see, I may be an introvert and sometimes struggle being social, but I love extroverts. Every best friend I’ve ever had is loud and the life of the party. And then there’s me.

And then there’s me, who hasn’t forgotten about you. I think of you often. I think, “What can I write today?” And then I do a 10-hour day of work. I put favor bags together and build bouquets. I make burlap roses and frantically try to remember to call the caterer. I try the dress on every few days, then worry that I’ll miss a day and it won’t fit. And it will be too late.

If I haven’t told you yet, I’m getting married. In 11 days now. I want to tell you how my chicks are doing (they’re big now, they don’t come running any more, they all survived) and I want to tell you about my quail (only 11 hatched, only 9 survived, and then there’s Charlie), and I want to tell you about my rabbit conundrum. I want to tell you about the county fairs I’ve gone to and why I love work but struggle with corporate life and the 100 pounds of tomatoes I harvested in 2 days, and the 100 pounds of tomatoes I got for free. I want to tell you about my old house in brand new wrapping. I want to tell you about all the good things and all the bad, but, I barely have time to can the tomatoes (there’s still 150+ pounds in my house), let alone write you.

But I think of you, often.

I think about me, often.

I think about writing daily and exercising daily and sitting in my backyard talking to the chickens.

But I can’t. First, I need to finish my work tasks. I need to demand a day at the county fair. I need to get ready for the wedding. I need to not put on a pound in 11 days.

I don’t have a picture for you, but I have lots of good thoughts. I’m looking forward to the days before the wedding just so I can clean my house. But, before then–150 pounds of tomatoes to turn into sauce.

Oh, and before I depart–weddings are disgustingly expensive. But that’s a different post for another day.

A Quick Catch-Up

I finally understand when people say they are overrun with eggs. The difference? I don’t feel too bad about it. I’ve given away at least 7 dozen by now, and have another few dozen to finish giving out to the neighbors. Eventually, we will sell the eggs (and hatching eggs, and chicks) to offset the cost, but so far?

I love it.

It’s like a game, every day. How many eggs?

Lately, that’s been almost 10 eggs a day. Granted, Mike and I can put away a lot of eggs in a week, especially when I make our breakfasts and lunches like I’m supposed to. Easily 20 eggs in a week, more if I bake. Still, 2 dozen eggs falls severely short of the 5-6 dozen we are getting every week.

So, on Saturday night, while trying to clean up the kitchen and at a loss of what to do with the eggs we had overrunning the place, I made a quick decision.

Deviled eggs.

Now, I don’t know how you feel. But I feel like deviled eggs are one of the tastiest things on the planet. When I see them at parties, or Christmas dinner, or hell–a funeral–I make a beeline for them. I always get at least two, but I could easily take the whole plate with me.

Mike’s the same.

Usually, though, I give up halfway through. I get tired of peeling them perfectly, and they never come peeled perfectly. The eggs I was using on Saturday were old enough that they were cooperating, but still young enough that they had chunks missing on some of them. Usually–usually I just make egg salad.

Well, I powered through. I turned roughly 19 eggs into deviled eggs.

Then Mike and I proceeded to eat every last one for Saturday “dinner” and Sunday breakfast.

Maybe I should have made the egg salad instead.

Time for a Shock

I have all sorts of pictures of the dying garden (oh, how I miss my squash plants, and the handful of cucumbers I got!), and of my 9 remaining quail. I wanted to tell you about the bushel of apples we picked from our inherited tree (here when we bought the house), or the bushel and a half of tomatoes we picked (I really need to make some sauce in the next few days!).

Instead, I’ve been working 60-hour weeks and just spending the weekend trying to keep up. So I’ll apologize in ahead, but I’m going to complain. I’m going to complain, and whine, not too far off of what I did ten years ago when writing “journal” entries.

We’re planning for a wedding at the end of September. My plan had been to finally lose the weight. Instead, my dog bit me in the face and I’ve not done so well. But did you know, weddings cost a lot of money? Even when you’re aiming for simple, the money disappears quickly.

So that has been draining our resources, and limiting the money we can put towards the “future farm fund.” But then we decided to replace the siding on our house before the wood underneath rots worse. That’s not a pretty penny, and we did not go with a cheap company.

Then–then. Then my car started having problems shifting again. My car is an automatic. They had to replace some transmission parts a little over a year and a half or 70,000 miles ago. It took over a month for them to believe that my car couldn’t go above 30 miles per hour (it wasn’t shifting) and God knows how much money, because luckily it was still covered under insurance.

Now?

Not so much.

No insurance, not even a warranty on the parts that were replaced last time. So we’re going to push it as far and as long as we can. We considered a new (used) car, but with the wedding and the siding…. We don’t have the cash for that. We don’t need that. We barely have the cash for the $2500+ it may cost to replace the transmission, either, but it’s the only fuel efficient car we have.

So you move on and you grow and you be an adult.

And then you get your water tested, find out it’s high in e. coli and other bacteria, and then you replace the UV filter, run bleach through the pipes, and make a plan to re-wash all your dishes before you can even attack the mound of tomatoes you had been waiting for all summer.

When it rains, it pours–good and bad.

I’m just waiting patiently for the upswing.

Luckily, I still find joy in little things. I hate that we have loans–a loan on the jeep, a loan on the siding, a loan on the house. We have credit cards. We try to keep debt down but never get rid of the things that ultimately remove debt. But, still–money isn’t everything.

As Mike said the other day, What does it matter if you can’t enjoy it [life]?

We don’t overspend, or we try not to. We try to buy local and support things we believe in (though sometimes we believe in different things). We try to spend time together and eat well enough and I try to fit in a life with an aggressive work schedule.

We try to get joy in the little things, like the collection of eggs from the chickens, and watching them peck across the yard. Loving when they follow. Taking pictures of our dogs lounging on the couch or in the bed (“No, don’t go, I’ll sleep here all day,” Huck says).

Driving in the Jeep with the top down. No elaborate proposal, but something simple and back to the roots of him and me on a riverbank, promising another 5 years times infinity.

This is Not Who I Am, This is Who the World Makes Me

Last week I was on my way to the creamery. I was excited; I’d picked a bag full of basil, cilantro and sage. I was going to make pesto, cilantro ice cubes and jelly. I was going to make ice cream. I had big plans.

Then, at the top of the little mountain we live on (we live at the foot of it), I saw some boys turn a corner. They were easily a quarter-mile ahead, riding 4-wheelers. And that’s when I thought, “I’ll be damned,” and sped up.

Me, in the big red Jeep, trying to push it to 50 in a 30-mph residential zone, so I could speed up and see what their 4-wheelers looked like.

Why?

Because ours was stolen. Continue reading

Update with Pictures

It’s over 90 degrees here. The bees are so hot they’re bearding across the front and sides of their hive, and reaching to the back. One hive is strong–the other I don’t think will make it to winter, let alone through winter.

I was proud of how well our garden was growing until I saw a picture of a friend’s garden. A few months ago I gave them some pepper plants that are now heavy with peppers; our own are wilting and the leaves falling from the bottoms. I’m not sure why, but some 6 of the bell pepper plants are dying, the rest struggling.

Still, life goes on and things grow. Continue reading

Incubating Eggs – Round 1

Warning: Behind the cut are pictures of cracked open eggs–some simply scrambled, some with development. If that bothers you, please don’t click, or find a way to hide the pictures. There is a picture of cute baby chicks at the very end of this post.

If you remember, back in June I got some hatching eggs and an incubator at the Maryland Poultry Swap. And so started my new adventure and new addiction.

The problem is, those 9 eggs I picked up at the swap were anywhere from 10 to 17 days old when I set them. If you know anything about hatching eggs, that is incredibly bad for fertility. I got an additional 15 eggs from another local breeder that were roughly 4-5 days old at setting, so while not ideal, they improved my hatching odds. Continue reading