Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Running two households.

We've got animals (horses and the most pregnant does) at the new house and animals (cattle, chickens, cats, and the other goats) at the old house. I'm having to transition the goats and poultry over slowly since we don't have a poultry set-up out here and the fencing here isn't really goat-friendly.

This morning I brought three of my does out to our new place and turned them out. They're smart, pretty reliable, and don't test fencing without a good reason. (Of course, 'good reason' to a goat is not the same 'good reason' that a human might expect them to have.) I checked on them about every twenty minutes because I was really nervous for some reason. Their body language just wasn't relaxed, even after being out there for a few hours. I kept checking our neighbor's dogs, but they were fenced in and didn't seem to be even looking at the goats.

Finally, one of the times I looked out, I just couldn't stay in anymore so I slipped on some shoes and went out to walk the field. Right as I went out the door, I saw my goats turn and run right towards me and my neighbor's two big border collies that she'd just let out of the yard "for some exercise" came charging through the field. They turned tail as soon as I yelled and went running at them, but if I hadn't been out there, it would not have been pretty. Two untrained stockdogs who have killed before loose in a field with three heavily pregnant does. Welcome to the neighborhood!

I went and had a friendly talk with the neighbor (smiled away even though I didn't feel too friendly as I had to correct her that these were not 'just goats' and I have my own opinions about those who let killer dogs out to run in the country) and two other neighbors who live nearby and have dogs, letting them know that we have small stock here that can't be harried by dogs. If the neighbors are decent, you won't have issues, but if they're not decent and know that you've seen their dogs and know who the dogs coming into your field belong to... well, it keeps them pretending to be decent. Stock laws in Idaho are pretty strong.

This evening I lanced an abscess on Tamari (my favorite goat). It seemed to be a 'clean' infection - seeming contradiction, I know. It was a thick, cream colored pus, no green tinge or cottage cheese texture, so I'm feeling good about it healing easily and quickly. I'm keeping an eye on it and keeping it clean. I was pretty proud of myself for not needing my husband's help at all on this. I held her, lanced it, and cleaned it out without him even outside with me. Eight years ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd ever have the ability or confidence to do that. I'm also pretty proud of the fact that my daughters who watched me do it think that it's perfectly normal that their mom can take care of that without their dad around.

I wish I had some good pictures to post today (I didn't even *take* any pictures of the pus), but I haven't gotten that figured out over here yet - hopefully soon. Internet will be patchy for another two weeks at least, so that means few pictures.

I miss our solitude. We're actually farther out in the country, but now we live right on the road (instead of a quarter mile off of it) and we have very close neighbors - two *directly* across the street from us. Heavens preserve me, that's just too social for me. My older daughter's in heaven, my hermit self is trembling. We've already had some fun birding experiences here. Check out my other blog for those stories.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We're moving the chicken coop...

because we're moving our household.

I didn't want to make it official until we had a signed lease as the company we're working with is ... unreliable at best. We've been on the verge of making this move closer to my husband's job - we can see his workplace from where we are moving to - for the last year but it's always fallen apart for some reason or another right before everything was official.

We will miss this place so, so much, but the benefits of moving - the major one being that my kids will see their daddy more - outweigh the fact that we'll be leaving our solitude, our diverse ecosystem, our ability to hang laundry without stressing about how appropriately dressed we may be for such a job...

We'll also be leaving the chemicals behind (we'll be living next to an organic farm instead of in the middle of a farm routinely sprayed by tractor and plane), gaining more pasture, and getting to explore a brand new type of ecosystem (desert). And there's a skunk that lives under our garage. That' s either a benefit or a drawback depending on who you ask.

I've been packing and cleaning both inside and out. The other day the chickens got moved from their area in the shed to an outside coop.

They love being on grass and it's been fun watching them explore. The Buckeyes and Ameraucanas are aggressive grazers while the Buffingtons are more sedentary. We have to keep them under a tarp because of our local hawk and owl population, and their fencing is attached to a calf hutch that serves as a satisfactory coop for the next week or so. I'll move them every few days to keep their ground fresh.

Gray's loving having them so accessible. He's always been on my back around the chickens before because he's a bit too brave about trying the many delicacies available around him. In a chicken coop that's bound to, if not make him ill, at the very least make his mother lose her lunch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beautiful blossoms.

We have a beautiful tree in our backyard that has the most stunning blossoms.

They start out a dark, dark pink when they're in bud form and then they blossom out to this.

And the smell. Oh my, they smell wonderful. If there's even a gentle breeze, you can smell them if you're anywhere within an acre of the tree. Do you know what kind of tree it is? I'd like to know.

The blossoms don't last long. After a day, sometimes two, the wind blows them off and we have a pink carpeted lawn.

Our fruit trees are going to be heavy this year. I wasn't able to get a picture of the plum trees in bloom, but yesterday I got pictures of the cherry trees -

and the apple trees.
Those apple tree blossoms kill me. White with a hint of light pink. I can't walk by the trees without stopping to stare.

Our apple trees had almost no blossoms last year (and very little pollinating activity), so we got no apples. This year, however, the year we're moving away, the blossoms are weighing the trees down and the pollinators can be heard from twenty feet away. The trees will be loaded. Maybe that will be incentive for a buyer?....

At our new place we have no blossoming or fruiting trees. Boo hiss.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I am beyond proud of myself.

I can run* for eight minutes without dry-heaving, fainting, or thinking that I'm going to die. This is such an accomplishment. Not only can I run for eight minutes, after two minutes of walking I can repeat the eight minute running/two minute walking pattern *twice*. Thirty straight minutes of exercise. And today, after I got done, I felt *good*. Not just "thank goodness I'm done", but really, really healthy and, you know, not ready to keel over.

An even bigger accomplishment? That I'm on week five of this program (found through one of my favorite homeschooling blogs). I have never stayed on an exercise program this long voluntarily. They used to make me try to climb ropes, dodge balls, and touch my toes in gradeschool. Pttthhhbt. Hated it. Never could do it.

I've never really been that motivated, though. I decided that I needed to do *something* to get my body feeling better after a long winter inside. I also have some excess weight around my middle that I wouldn't mind releasing. If only so that my daughter would quit asking if I have a baby in my uterus. I chanced onto the suggestion for this program right when I was looking for the right exercise. I'm so glad I didn't just start running aimlessly. For one thing, I have no idea where I would be right now. For another thing, I would have given up without clear guidelines and goals. So here I am.

The first week - two minutes running alternated with four minutes of walking - had me gasping for air. Dude, it sucked. And my puppy was lapping me. Many times. To be fair, he's still lapping me at eight minutes of running, but he's lapping me more slowly. I almost gave up about ten times in the first two minutes I ran, but one of my proudest accomplishments so far is that I have never yet stopped running in one of my 'run' segments. When I switched from five minutes to seven minutes, I almost did. You wouldn't think that that would be hard, and if you're a runner, you're laughing, but that nearly killed me. Even so, I just kept running until that beeper went off.

This last weekend, after I'd stuck with the program for four weeks, I went out and got myself a new sports bra. If I stick with this program for six weeks I'm buying myself some running shoes. You'd think I'd buy the shoes first and the bra second wouldn't you? If you did think that, you're not a woman. On one of the early morning runs, I ran without a bra. Luckily, I was on a back road so the sight of me keeping everything from bouncing around while running wasn't seen by anybody. My other runs have been in normal, everyday (read: nursing) bras. I needed a sports bra.

If I stick with it for eight weeks, I'm getting myself something to measure time (something besides my kitchen timer) and distance. If I stick with it for ten weeks I'm buying myself a sundae. With cherries. Or I'll get the sundae tomorrow. That sounds really good.

I started running in the evenings, using the back farm roads through the pastures around our house. It was really nice because the scenery was good and running out there meant that if I gave up, I would still have to get back to the house on my own two legs, so exercise (either running or walking - even crawling or rolling if necessary) was a given. 'Tis the reason I don't like treadmills. Too easy to give up on. Plus they're so boring, even with tv to watch while running. In high school I fell off of a treadmill because I was so bored. I think I fell asleep. I ended up at the end of the treadmill with the tread taking the hide off my outer thigh. I've never liked treadmills since, even if it was nice not having to shave that section of leg for a few months. Back to the present, the problem with this evening schedule was that with my husband's odd work hours I often ended up being asleep when he got home, with no chance to run that day, or awake but it being too dark for me to safely run on those rut-filled roads.

So I decided (morning person that I am) to run before he left for work. That didn't work out for two reasons. He has to leave so early that I would still be running in the dark. And I'm not a morning person.

My next plan was to run when my baby went down for his nap. He sleeps for about 45 minutes, so as soon as he went down for a nap, off I went, running circles around our property. It's not a big property, so that's a lot of circles, but my girls can play outside and watch me run past them every so often and stop me when they need something. They also join me on my walk portions which is nice. (And it kills me to see my 2 1/2 yr old spitfire running towards me when I start my walk portion with her little arms pumping on her little square body with her chin tucked down saying "I run, Momma, I run! Wait for me, Momma, I run with you!") The sheep and goats have gotten used to me and no longer follow me down the fenceline bellowing at me the whole time. The horses still frolic as I run past, but that's because it's spring-time and frolicking is required. So far, this plan has worked perfectly. Gray's never woken up while I've been gone, even with Hannah noisily checking on him for me. Having little ones to be accountable to (since I'm asked if I'm going running every time Gray even yawns) has also made me more determined to stay on track.

So wish me luck! The thought of being able to run for thirty minutes straight makes my head spin - will I really ever be able to do that? If I can finish this program - stick with it for ten weeks - I can't tell you how proud of myself I will be.

* please loosely interpret 'run' as 'moving faster than a walk' - I'm sure at some point I will actually be running (I think I got close tonight, actually), but for right now, 'run' is ... not so fast

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chicken update

I've noticed that, for me, giving a gift of freshly laid eggs is like giving a homemade gift. It was the chickens that did the work, but it still feels that I'm giving something special, that comes just from me.

I've pared back my chickens as I planned. My Cuckoo Marans are gone. Those got snatched up fast. Several of my Buckeyes are gone, as are two of my Ameraucanas. I was planning on selling all of my Ameraucanas but my husband (who usually has no opinions about poultry) asked that we keep a few of those - he likes the eggs.

Now I'm down to a more manageable number right as egg production starts to really kick in.

My daughter has learned to make her first "on her own" dish - egg drop soup. It's very simple. She'll get the chicken broth out of the fridge, pour it into the pot, add salt, break the eggs into a bowl, stir them up, pour them in, and add the soy sauce. All she needs me to do is turn on the burner and help her stir the eggs fast enough that they're tendrils. She eats it at least once a day. We need all the eggs we can get.