Poppin’ and Snappin’

Hello friends!

Little Ro-Ro had a chiropractic adjustment again. She always loves a little pampering in that way and this time she really needed it. Seems like she’s got a set of stubborn ribs that like to occasionally pop out of place and while she’s a total trooper, speaking from experience, after a while that nonsense gets old. So when she starts telling me her ribs are sore, or acting out during schooling, I call McKadee. We love McKadee and her lovely dad, who was my farrier for a long time and will be again, when I can get my trailer together (he stopped traveling, which he’s totally allowed to do, but I had to find someone else in the median. Our new guy is nice too, no shade here, and with time I think he’ll get better at working out what my girls need, but Jimmy was just absolutely amazing and I miss him).

Ro gets a spa day any time McKadee comes out, and I usually get an education because I am incredibly nosey and generally will make a nuisance of myself if allowed, especially when it comes to learning how to better care for my horses. Little 16 year old Amanda gave her trainer and her mom each a heart attack when the vet asked if I wanted to “help” with a tooth grinding and was then allowed to fully put my hand in the horse’s mouth and learn about tooth spurs and the medical tools to take care of them. I also have a baby horse tooth as a result of a similar situation. Never ask me if I wanna shadow you unless you mean it, I’m down to try almost anything once. Except for diving out of an airplane, I feel like I’ve learned enough about gravity from the horses, thank you. But learning a new skill? I’m all here for it. As an aside, if anyone wants a marginally annoying, overly excitable, relatively clumsy shadow while welding, lemme know. I really want to learn to weld. But I digress. 

McKadee has studied equine massage and chiropractics and she is crazy knowledgeable about the biomechanics of a horse, which I love because I used to be in judges training, which means I have some knowledge of what “preferred” or “correct” movement should look like, but not nearly as much as I would like about what creates that motion. She can usually tell by what I describe just what’s up with Ro, and if I’m not making a lot of sense, she can tell by feel. 

This time poor Ro was all sorts of crooked and out of joints. She had super sore spots in her withers and back, and those had started to cause sore legs and neck from moving incorrectly. I’m really excited to see the changes it makes. You could definitely tell that Ro wasn’t pleased with the amount of scary popping and snapping, but by the end of it she was moving more freely, and she even went trotting her way out into the pasture, which she hasn’t done in a while. 

She wasn’t really showing signs of discomfort until just a few days ago when I called McKadee. Or perhaps I should clarify, I’m really used to drama queens (mare and gelding) so when Ro very subtly says “hey Mama, I’m a little sore” I don’t always catch on right away. I’m working on it. I write down her and Nellie’s behaviors during our interactions each day, so that I can spot patterns quickly each time there’s a sore spot. Luckily sore muscles and out of whack horses aren’t super common here on the farm because we take life at a leisurely pace. But my little girl is also a trooper who would rather have fun than be on pasture rest, so I think sometimes she toughs it through when she certainly doesn’t need to.

The day after a chiropractic adjustment Ro is usually a little crazy pants and this time was no different. She ran and ran and worked herself up into quite the lather yelling and bucking and racing. I finally made her slow down because It was hot out and I was getting a little worried. Then I made the decision to hop on in usual form, with no tack. Less of a statement on my riding skills and more one about my lack of self preservation skills. We both survived and then she got hosed down and I got a half shower by proxy. Nellie looked on with curiosity until she got a little close to the hose and decided being wet without consent was a crime. She flounced off pretty quickly, but I made it up to her with some scratches and a good brushing. She’s very opinionated about such things though.

Gotta go hug some horses now. 

Until we chat again my friends!

A Little Different

Hello friends!

So! I changed up my work schedule a few weeks ago. I swapped to a 4 10s* schedule

(*Realistically I’m still never really off work, but that’s the danger of remote work, some people are just boundary stompers). I am loving it! I have chosen Fridays as my extra day off because that way I can still benefit from the Monday holidays and such.

I really enjoy it because, well, first of all, I was regularly working 5 10s, or 5 12s, and getting super burnt out and resentful by Friday. I know people do that all the time, and sometimes willingly, but I was not built to sit in front of a computer and do math for 12 straight hours. Heck, I’m currently typing this on my phone sitting under the trees in the pasture, because I couldn’t stand to be inside any longer. And also we don’t get overtime at all, nor do we earn any extra PTO, so it’s legitimately just free labor built on guilt. And making a big, team facing schedule change has allowed me to stick to my hours a little more diligently, because “I’ve already been here 10” sounds more convincing. I also don’t answer anything that isn’t dire or blocking on Fridays. Proud of myself for working on those boundaries.

It also means I get a little more sleep. I average 4 to 6 hours of sleep on a work night, and about 7 on weekend nights, so swapping one for the other is ideal. I get to sleep in a little, am much happier when I get up, and have more energy for Friday activities, like grocery shopping and little kiddo riding lessons. It also gives me an extra couple hours to work on hobbies. I’ve had an issue for a while with people needing “one more thing” after work, that hobbies in general got pushed to the side. I joke that my boss has a sixth sense for when I’d settle in to draw or write or whatever, and suddenly there’d be a slack message. It was uncanny. Now, I don’t stress about it so much, because I have more protected time on Fridays (unless I’m on call, which is a whole thing that I shouldn’t get started on because I have OPINIONS. Anyways).

Christopher has been really enjoying it because I’ve been doing a little extra baking. We’ve had another tres leches cake, some cookies, parfaits, and pumpkin breads are in the works. Let’s just say Fridays smell good in our house. It also makes me more likely to experiment with dinner, which has mixed results. But you never know until you try. You can blame the fact that I rewatched Ratatouille recently.

My mom has been liking the schedule because on Fridays she doesn’t have to wait for me to get off work to ask for help with projects. To be honest, I often pop out when I have a few minutes break to check on her, but we’ve tried to enforce the idea that at my desk is no different than at the office. But, for example, when we were in tears because we dropped one of our little knick knacks while cleaning, I found a little time while running a test suite to bust out the gorilla glue. But now she very cutely saves things like winding yarn balls, things that are still a little hard or frustrating, for us to do on Friday mornings over breakfast together.

Dad likes having another day where I can help on the farm earlier. Really good timing for all the winterizing happening. Plus it’s a nice way to kick off the weekend productively. And it means if we are rained out or stormed out Saturday it’s not the end of the world.

The horses and dogs like it because they aren’t battling work for my attention and I am not carrying around the annoying black box that beeps and buzzes. They don’t have to listen in as I answer a quick slack huddle or google hangouts call.

Can you tell the 4 10s is a big ol’ game changer? Can you tell I’m really excited about it? I worked 4 10s at my very first big kid job and I adored it and haven’t been able to get that schedule since. I was honestly shocked when my boss not only signed off on it but said he hoped others would also be interested. I did a happy dance. Much needed after a hard few months at work with lots of frustration and growing pains. I know 4 10s doesn’t solve everything but somehow being frustrated 4 days a week is a lot easier than 5. Go figure.

Anyways, we will be back to our regularly scheduled farm content next week. I just wanted to gush a little today, and I think sometimes a little real life context helps understand why this blog is the way it is.

Until we chat again my friends!

**For those who maybe haven’t seen that terminology 4 10s is common slang, at least in my field, for 4 days a week, 10 hours a day, whereas the usual salary work schedule in a large portion of America is 5 days a week, at 8 hours a day. Sorry for the potential confusion.

It’s a Dog’s Life

Hello friends!

Well, it’s cold, it’s gray, and it’s been intermittently smoky for weeks. Seems to me it’s definitely fall. Although, I must admit, the Grey thing is not something I am used to here. In Seattle sure, but generally we still see the sun around here. But there’s been lots of overcast days. I wouldn’t mind if they produced rain, which would help with fires and smoke, but these menacing clouds are mostly just for show it seems, or potential disaster. 

We had one angry stretch of dry lightning a week or so ago that nearly burned down the high school, because it burnt the hills up behind it. To my knowledge nobody lost any structures, but I know a few people got close. Chicken Hill burned too, and I guess during the microsburst people thought some of the windows, especially the big ones in businesses, were going to shatter, either from wind or the severe crashing of the thunder. They had to call in the three surrounding jurisdictions to help because there was just so much on fire at once.

We were very lucky to be on the outskirts. We got a side hit of the wind, but nothing was damaged and only one tarp attempted to take leg bail. The thunder crashing upset the doggos, but cuddles and good crates calmed them down. The dog equivalent of hiding under the covers is a properly cozy den space, tailored to the dog, available all the time. Mine are, of course, spoiled rotten but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Joe has a plush mat, open walls, a blanket and a toy, Scooby has a gel cooled, memory foam mat, closed, rounded sides, and a very light blanket, and Watson has a little closed den with enough blankets and bedding that sometimes I truly wonder how he fits in there. All doggos get extra blankets/comforters when it starts getting cool but other than Watts, I generally have hot dogs. Especially Scoobs, sometimes I think he’d be happiest in the arctic. 

Although, that’s not entirely true anymore because I have now seen, since moving here, how much he truly detests snow. Does not like being wet, does not like that it sticks to him, that it’s hard to walk in, and honestly, I can’t blame him all that much.

Scoobs has been learning lots of new things lately. Since he’s lost his sight, he’s learned to navigate the house by feel. Unfortunately he’s also learned to wail at all hours to get attention. The vet says he’s fine, he just has a hard time differentiating between day and night and when he decides it’s morning there is no convincing him otherwise. Even if it’s one a.m. The vet suggested trying to have a really solid bedtime routine and lots of busy work during the day. So he gets lots of wander and explore time outside until the weather turns cold, and I’ve been taking him down on a leash with me to feed in the evenings (don’t worry, there’s always a fence between him and the other critters, I wouldn’t put him in danger even if he could see. I also usually bring a buddy, so he has a dedicated seeing eye person too). He seems to really enjoy it but it’s a lot of walking on little legs so we are worn out by the time we make the porch again. It’s hard work being small.

I think he also likes it because it’s something special that just he gets to do. We haven’t been bringing his brothers down because generally I don’t want the dogs to get used to that area being a space they can go to on their own. They occasionally come down when I am working on a project down there, I bring the doggie play pen down and they hang out, but in general, Scooby has been the only one to get to walk down there every night. It also allows us to go at his pace, and he can stop and explore or take a breather if needed. It’s a pretty thinky experience too because he isn’t used to the gravel down there, or the hay on the ground, or all the new smells. Now that he’s not as reliant on sight, he’s got lots of exploring to do. So it’s good exercise too.

I don’t know how the horses feel about it though, because it definitely slows down the feeding process. Generally, they see me start the evening trek to the barn and they come hauling tail in from the pasture, but now they have to stand patiently waiting at their spots instead of being met with food. I am not as quick to get down there. But they still get snuggles and sweets and goodnight kisses so the result is the same. Scooby chills out by the door so he can take a breather while I move the hay around.

Speaking of hay, it’s time for me to pull down a new bale, and I should probably do that before it starts raining today or all the bales will get wet, so I better sign off for now.

Until we chat again, my friends!

To-Dos

Hello friends!

Let’s chat about winterizing since it’s starting to look like that may be next on my plate. I’m really not ready to see summer slowing down but that’s all part of the deal I guess, gotta explore all the changing seasons. And I do really enjoy that part of it. Fall is a lovely time of year. 

What does it look like at your place when it’s time to start thinking about winding down the summer? I’m always curious, because every place is different. My aunt and uncle have a lot more acreage so they have a lot more to think about. My neighbors’ fields (where the research station workers lease ground to grow their experiments) are already being cleaned up. They’ve been pulling down the netting and veggie cages already. 

I’m still mostly trying to pretend summer has a long run left, but I have been thinking about gathering the winter supplements for the horses, pulling out their blankets and checking the buckles, and bemoaning the fact that at some point I gotta climb up a ladder and check the heat lamps in the barn and coop (Cordelia has one in her cat condo too, but it’s at chest height to me, much easier). Dad’s thinking ahead about winterizing the irrigation system and the sprinkler lines. 

I was so surprised when mid winter last year Nellie tried on her first ever winter blanket and absolutely loved it. Turns out the key to my girl’s heart is cookies and cozy blankets and really, I can completely respect that. I’m also swayed by sweet treats and a warm blanket. I had avoided blanketing in the past, choosing to let their thick winter coats grow in and letting them do the job. And in the past it’s worked just fine. But we are having progressively more extreme seasons and the winter coats just won’t do against -10° and freezing rain. The old timers say it’s cyclical and we are due for some extreme weather. Record setting highs and lows. Can’t say I’m particularly keen on it, but we will figure it out as it comes. That said, my uncle tells stories of tying a rope to the ranch house porch and the barn door because the snow was so thick they were afraid of losing the kids in it. I’m hoping that was mostly just a story, but my uncle usually has a fair amount of truth to his tall tales. Oh boy.

On top of the winterizing chores, I’m slowly thinking about all the fun fall things I wanna do. Soon it will be time to go peach picking, and make cobbler from the treasure. I can’t wait to put up the fall themed decorations and have pumpkins on the porch, and their seeds roasting in the oven. I absolutely love roasted pumpkin seeds. I am excited about pumpkin bread, and maybe even some pear bread if they look good this year. 

I should get back to crocheting my little pumpkins, and Watsons sweater. I started them before my fall way back last year and consistently found that the repetitive actions of crocheting were the easiest way to aggravate my injured elbow. Doc said I should just let it be for a few months and come back when other things have stopped aggravating it too. Sorta fell out of the habit, so it’s worth a shot now. Worst case scenario, I hold off a little longer

please excuse the awkward crop, I am strategically removing as much of my screens as possible. I also have no idea why my sleeve and hand looks that dusty…..

Watson is already cold and the days are still really quite warm, he’s just so little he doesn’t maintain his own heat very well. He would very much like his little sweater to be done soon. I picked a cute soft green in a different yarn texture than I am used to. It’s a slipperier yarn which is annoying to work with but it’s less scratchy than the traditional red heart that I use most of the time. I wanna find two oversized buttons for the closure for easy on and off. Since I’ll be the one putting it on and my hands are usually a disaster of band aids and bruises, I’m sure I don’t want tiny fiddly buttons to do up every morning. 

Farrier has put us on a slightly longer schedule too, since going into winter the horses hooves don’t grow quite as fast, sometimes, like this last winter when it was incredibly cold, they hardly grow at all. I assume it’s a survival thing, I just like that it’s a pocket book thing. Our new farrier seems cool, admittedly juries still out for sure until I see him work on their feet a few more times. But he seems patient and fairly understanding, so that’s a huge win.

Well, admittedly, all of this was a bit of procrastination before I actually sit and make a plan. To quote Game of Thrones, winter is coming, and around here that means there’s work to be done.

Until we chat again, my friends!

Why I Have Grey Hairs

Hello friends!

So, my neighbors think I’m nuts. This is not necessarily a new development but I am reminded of it fairly often and just recently it happened again. So, my sweet Ro, a relatively steady, bombproof little mare has opinions on birds that range from “these wee things annoy me” to “this is clearly a horse eating monster”. Most of our resident birds, like the magpies and robins, fall into the annoying category. Quail are suspicious, as is our little chicken friend. But ducks? Ducks are horse eating monsters. Ducks are pure evil put on this earth solely to torment and abuse Ro. That’s their entire purpose. Ro loathes ducks.

So, I’m sure you can imagine how well our schooling session was going after our first trip to the far side of the arena was interrupted by an angry flapping duck. To her credit, Ro stayed very calm in the face of great mortal danger, she just skittered away and refused to walk by the bush. Problem was, suddenly every noise, anything that moved weird, every critter around looked a lot like that duck just waiting for us to let our guard down. Ro has to be alert and on top of it because clearly her mom was simply not understanding the true gravity of the situation. Didn’t understand that surviving the ride meant keeping our heads on a constant swivel, even if it meant not paying attention to moms riding cues.  A sacrifice Ro was willing to make. 

We kept at it and continued on with our work, but it was getting progressively less productive with each passing minute. Finally as we passed the chicken coop again she decided it was too much and let me know we may have to make a run for it. I wasn’t really annoyed at her, I understood that she was just worried, but it was making it difficult to get the focused work I had been hoping for and something had to change. 

So, I did the only thing I could think of, I loudly marched over to the bush, hoping to scare away the duck beforehand, grabbed my lunge whip, and proceeded to make a big showing of dramatically whacking at the bush, just to ensure any and all horse eating monsters were thoroughly chased away. Ro watched with concern, then growing interest, and finally walked over to investigate. I must have convinced her that I was scarier than the duck because I was able to hop back on and we managed some pretty good work by the end of our ride. She’s a very good girl.

This 100% is not the only reason my neighbors think I’m nuts, but probably one of the more recent offerings. I also lost my mind at the dogs the other day, but it was justified. Here’s how this went down.

I was running the farm mostly solo for a couple days, no big deal, Dad took Mom on a little getaway like they used to and Christopher was trying to help but he’s been buried in work. Like I said though, no big deal, I got the irrigation all going, let the chicken out to wander for a while, let the girls out in the pasture (they got a couple days off during this since it had been a while since they’d had a vacation anyway and when I’m the only one on the farm, a couple of my family members get really squigged out by the idea of my riding without a spotter in the same county, we haven’t worked out a compromise to that yet).

Then I let the dogs out to play for a bit and set up my desk temporarily on the porch. I do this often in the mornings so the dogs aren’t locked inside while I work, although when it starts to cool for fall we will inevitably have to quit because I’m chicken. Anyways, I realized I needed to go move the hose in the garden from the last of the tomatoes to the very last of the potatoes and I thought, my senior guy Scoobs is asleep on the porch, Watson and Joe have been underfoot all morning, I’ll have them walk down to the garden with me so they don’t pester Scoobs. Joe gets to go on adventures like this occasionally. He loves to help on the farm (he can’t just be out all the time as he hasn’t met a plant he doesn’t want to eat, a critter he doesn’t want to befriend, or a car/tractor/implement that hasn’t magically stopped for him and therefore lives blissfully unawares of the potential vet visits just lurking about). Watson almost never goes on adventures because he is very tiny and gets nervous in the big wide world. 

So, off to the garden we go, Joe did great, his heel and general recall is really coming along, Watson hung pretty close all the way down too. BUT then, Watson saw his opportunity and pulled a sneaky hide away from his mom. In the half second it took to move the hose from one line to another he disappeared from my view, so I called for him. No recall, no noise, no sign of him. I call a few more times then start to panic, Joe seems wholly unbothered but Joe regularly underestimates the level of concern necessary in the room. Finally, after I’m at near screech hollering for Watson he emerges from under a weed pile, then, realizing mom’s having a panic, takes leg bail for the arena and finally out into the neighbors field. At this point I’ve gone from screeching to the tone I reserve for scaring some sense into those around me, and he finally tucked his tail and slowly walked back toward me. I scooped him up, we made a beeline to the house, Joe being a good boy and naturally following in heel, and Watson spent a little time thinking about his life choices from inside the house. My neighbor texted me a little bit later asking if I needed help, she had seen my struggle but had her grandbabies around so she couldn’t engage. I told her we were all good, but Watson for sure took 10 years off my life. Crazy little bean.

He’s stayed pretty close since then, he’s usually not a runner, that was always Sherlocks trick, so I dunno what got into him. I always get a little suspicious of a change in behavior after little Sherlocks sudden departure but I think this was more just “cool things” overload followed by not wanting to be in trouble. Which to be fair, he wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t run, and even then, 10 minutes inside without his brothers and a stern talking to was all he got. 

Scooby slept through the entire upheaval. Had no idea. 

Until we chat again my friends

Summer Days

Hello friends!

Can you believe it’s September already! I cannot, where did the summer go? I swear it was just July but now suddenly the kiddos are back in school.

Lots of things are signaling its fall and back to school season. A big one being the August 20th flip. When I moved to the valley full time my great uncle told me about August 20th. My great grandmother had told him, her father had told her, it’s a little trick you learn from living here to track the seasons. I’ll be honest, when I first heard it I called shenanigans. I thought they were funning me. No way it happens on the same date every year right? Welp, so far every year I’ve been here it’s been right. It’s subtle. But you notice it. The morning is crisper on the 20th, it seems like the sun takes forever to rise, the critters are suddenly starting to prepare for winter. The last of the garden starts giving its harvest, everyone is wearing a light sweater, and it really starts to put the idea of pumpkins in your head. 

Don’t get me wrong, daily highs are still between 90 and 105 for a bit before declining, so it’s still the dog days of summer, but you can tell something is coming. Your carefree summer days are in limited supply.

But there’s still plenty to do before summer ends, especially for the kiddos in the family, or the kiddos at heart. 

We recently hosted an outdoor movie night in the backyard as a way to celebrate the end of summer and the start of a new school year (admittedly, I was always a little down at the end of summer, but my cousins are all amazing little weirdos who love school). We themed the whole thing like a 50’s or 60s beach party and watched Beach Blanket Bingo. It was a huge fun success, even if most of the kiddos fell asleep before the end of the movie haha. We had a little windstorm issue but the homemade screen held up nicely for the most part, we had super minimal tech issues, and lots of food. Hot dogs, candy and an obscene amount of popcorn. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and we are already planning the next one, granted I think we are going to wait until the sun sets a little earlier and the high for the day isn’t 107. 

I even got my hands on some drive-in movie style hot dog baskets and some theater style popcorn bags to make it feel really authentic and we settled out all kinds of beach towels and blankets and pillows under the tree! I found some old school movie adverts (think the drive in during Grease, with the flipping hotdog), and compiled an oldies playlist so we were professional, ya know? That said, we are also tentatively planning a trip to the drive-in near-ish by, when they show more kid friendly movies again.

We also got to go to the fair! My mom loves going to the fair, she has since she was little, and she definitely passed that on to me! It’s kinda fun, because I have such fond memories from my state fairs growing up, both as a little fair goer and during my 4H years, but the fair I went to as a kiddo has grown up and is very commercialized. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that but I miss the dirt walkways and slightly grungy animal barns, the possibly questionable food stalls and the weird, random, amazing exhibits. The fair near me definitely still has that small fair charm, while still having enough to do to feel busy. We went on a Sunday, it wasn’t terribly busy, but there were lots of folks around to make it feel full. We got to see the quilt exhibit, lots of animals, and even caught a couple shows.

We got to see Loop Rawlins, a guy who throws a pretty mean lasso, and lit a bull whip on fire. I tried to get y’all some video but lots of people were walking in and out and I am short. Got a photo though. Apparently he’s been on America’s Got Talent, I’m not super familiar with how that show works but it sounded impressive. We also got to see the K9 Flying Dogs, which was basically just a guy who was having lots of fun with his working breed dogs chasing Frisbees and showing off. So much fun, he had a role for all his critters, young and old, and you could feel the love. 

I ate so much good fair food, my favorite of which is always the Elephant Ear, and we got to see many of the 4H and FFA exhibits. We got to see the flocks: turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, and on and on. I got to say hi to Stanley as he was out meeting and greeting with his adoring public. We also got to see the llamas and alpacas which is always my mom’s absolute favorite. Don’t be surprised if one day you tune in and we are suddenly an alpaca farm. It’s truly just a matter of time.

My favorite, of course, was the mule show, for very obvious reasons, and the antique tractors. I love old machinery and the history of farming, and it’s even more fun when it comes to life.

Behind this section were a whole bunch of pre-and post way vintage tractors, which were super cool too!

But, I also picked up a pretty solid sunburn, so I am going to leave this here to go find some aloe.

Until we chat again, my friends!

*Low Flying Airplane Noises*

Hello friends!

So first of all, look at this super cool video my dad took! I’ve never been this close to an aerial applicator doing their job, it actually spooked me the first time they went past and I decided to stop and wait for the next pass so we could get a cool video (don’t worry, i was the only one on my aunt and uncles mile long driveway so I wasn’t being unsafe). Only thing I would have done differently? Slow rolled as they went by so I could maybe stay with them just a little longer, you can probably tell I put my foot in it a little trying to keep up but for obvious physics reasons there’s no way that was ever going to happen. It was really cool to see it that close in any case.

Why did I refer to them as aerial applicators and not the more traditional “crop dusters”? Well, many reasons. One is, I’ve been told by a couple pilots they prefer aerial applicators, and two, they don’t really dust crops anymore, they more “mist” them, the mixtures are, in general, significantly different than even a few years ago so dust rarely comes into play anymore.

Cheesy Dad Joke incoming! Also, please ignore how dirty my car is, Clifford the Big Red Dodge has been lovingly washed since this was taken

That said, I’m totally guilty of coding switching here, depending on who I’m talking to I’ll still use crop duster, because when your 90+ year old dining companion refers to them as “crop dusters” it’s generally not worth it to correct them, and might come off disrespectful. So, if you hang out with me for a while, you may hear both. I’m guilty of that with a few things. 

Especially because I live in a very old community generally. 

(To clarify, this does not apply to rights issues and the like, I still correct all the “-isms”, I don’t entertain racism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, etc regardless of who I might offend in the room, because if I offend you, I probably don’t care to be your friend anyway. In the same vein, if you feel the need to discriminate, you can feel free to close this blog out as well, we don’t put up with nastiness here, thank you.)

We’ve had the weirdest weather here. I live in the high desert, right, so it’s, generally speaking, dry here. Dry is nice because at 110° that’s the difference between “it’s far too hot to be outside” and “it’s far too hot to exist”. Humidity is a game changer. We recently had a string of four days of over 80% humidity. This is way too sticky even when you live in a humid place. The girls got a few days off to help manage,since it can be dangerous to work in conditions of heat and humidity that you aren’t used to. It also stormed a lot which makes sense when you consider the humidity most likely came from that monsoonal moisture coming up from the southwest. This time of year they have to deal with lots of flash flooding and storms as well. I’m very grateful we haven’t seen a lot of flooding around here but some places in the southwest got obliterated. 

We mostly just tried not to melt. Everything was damp and sticky, and it’s amazing how quickly some fungi and molds and things pop up after a few days of 80+ humidity. Even my old dead wood pile had little green patches. We had little white mushrooms pop up in the yard and several of my plants just sorta wilted under the dampness. Desert plants aren’t humidity proof. It was also weird because the grass and pasture was all weighed down so no mowing or trimming could be done effectively, the bugs were really bad, and all the the normal characters, like the field workers next door, the early morning joggers, and even the delivery guys were all absent or nearly absent trying to avoid working in the 100° weather with 80% humidity. I totally get it, no judgment here, I was also hiding out, but it was slightly eerie. 

Not much else has happened around here. We’ve been slowing down in the garden, something ate my last two kohlrabi before they came ready, but we’ve gotten lots of potatoes. The dogs tried a new groomer out and I think we like her, I just hope she lasts a while. We’ve had a string of bad luck in the area, groomers come and go with alarming speed. There must not be a lot of business here. So fingers crossed this one works out.

Until we chat again my friends.

Odds and Ends

Hello friends!

I accidentally bought more hay. I say accidentally because there was a total miscommunication, no one’s fault, but somehow I thought I had said no to buying more than my usual hay (which I usually actually barter with my uncle for, a lot of things in farm country can be favor for favor if you are trustworthy) and my cousin, who’s slowly taking over for my uncle thought I would be willing to buy whatever didn’t sell. He couldn’t reach me at work so he called my dad, and I finally caught up to the situation and cut it off at half a truck load. So I have some bales to figure out storage for. Both of the guys thought that the other had checked in with me, so I couldn’t very well back out and make them unload it all. That just wouldn’t be fair. So I apologized to my bank account, wrote a check, and now I’m in the process of fixing some of my damaged tarps so I can fake some long-term covered hay storage. I guess, really, it’s probably a good problem to have, although it was an expensive, unplanned line item in the budget. 

The interesting thing about living on a farm is that you quickly realize that some seasons are generally more expensive than others. For us, summers always seem to hemorrhage money, no matter how hard I plan ahead. Case and point, unplanned couple hundred dollars for hay. I’ve had to put a couple extra hundred in bug maintenance this year and even more into the ever expanding collection of first aid supplies for humans and critters. I seriously need to just invest in Bandaid stock at this point (I’m not blaming anyone either, I’m the worst offender, I just think about doing something and I have a new injury). We also had a weird amount of equipment failures this year which cost in one way or another. 

In other news, we had a lovely, unexpected visit from some old friends. Some of our friends from our church when we lived in the Puget Sound also have family in this area and they come by to visit every so often. It’s absolutely lovely to see them. I used to teach their youngest in my 3s, 4s, and 5s class when I taught Sunday school and now she’s a senior in high school. I taught that Sunday school class when I was in high school. Time flies. I can’t believe she’s almost an adult, and speaking with her, she’s such a mature, intelligent, put together young lady. Way more prepared for college and beyond than I ever was.

We also had a bit of a weird experience this week relating to the canal. As I was going about my morning chores I noticed a really rotten smell. It seemed to linger but I didn’t really pay too much attention to it after I  made sure it wasn’t a wound on the girls or a small animal nearby needing help.I have honestly come face to face with skunks and possums, and while this didn’t smell like that, I still basically convinced myself that it was one of those things. It got progressively stronger and less fun to be around as I went about the morning but it somehow didn’t even occur to me to check the canal. When I walked back up to the house and smelled it on the porch as well, that’s when I thought enough of it to bring it up to my dad, who mentioned it might be something slowly floating its way down the canal. Unfortunately, it’s not the most uncommon thing to have wildlife occasionally fall in the water and become fatally trapped. We still didn’t really feel it was that big a deal until the ditch rider came by and had a proper freak out.  The Ditch rider drives along many times a day looking for issues within the canal, for context, and he had apparently seen something because he drove back and forth and made some phone calls. I got a little nervous watching this because we’ve all heard the stories about people falling in, or worse, and I really, really didn’t want it to be something like that. 

Luckily it wasn’t a human. However, it was a crime. Someone had dumped a poached deer into the canal to hide it, and it had gotten caught up in the weeds by my corral. They took the antlers and nothing else. Such a waste. I won’t go on one of my long rants again, but really, it’s so unnecessary and disheartening. 

Cool storm cloud? Anyone?

Like I said, there’s relief in knowing my fence line wasn’t a human crime scene, and I’m quite relieved I didn’t investigate and find it myself, but it’s quite sad to know people are still making selfish, unethical choices. 

I think I need to be paying more attention going forward though, especially to gross smells.

Until we chat again my friends. 

Two Steps Forward…

Hello friends!

Anyone else ever get to feeling, sometimes, like they are just forever reacting to things instead of actually accomplishing new tasks and making any actual progress? This has been the whole farm this summer, seems like I cannot for the life of me get ahead, I just keep reacting to issues as they arrive. It’s not the world’s greatest feeling.

Take, for example, this water trough. I’ve been having consistent issues with it, finally thought I had it fixed and now we are literally back to square one. Basically, after the hard winter the frost free had no pressure and when it did, my auto waterer wouldn’t turn off. Then we got the pressure back and the valve itself wore out. Got that fixed, and the auto waterer working, but by that point the trough had gotten bad enough from not being circulated enough that it needed more than just a spring clean. So I very carefully tried to work around the auto waterer, emptying the water slowly through the little release valve instead of just dumping the trough. Got it clean, filled it back up. Now the auto waterer leaks again and on top of that, the little seal has started leaking too. I have checked and tightened, looks like I’m going to probably have to seal it with an external product, probably something like flex tape (I’m not necessarily recommending that product, I don’t have much experience with it, but the couple times I used flex seal I was pretty impressed). Seems like I can’t quite get the water situation solved.

Too cute for her own good (tried to crop her swollen leg for those who don’t enjoy that sort of image)

Same seems to apply to the sprinklers and the misters in the barn, constant leaks and blockages and cracked hoses, and whatever else you can imagine can fail in a sprinkler or mister system. I almost lost a huge chunk of my pasture because one of my lines just wouldn’t stay cleared. Craziness. 

Kinda feels the same way with my sweet mares this year too. While every day is a wonderful chance to spend time with them, and I am really loving our time together, work or play, this year any time we attempt to accomplish anything the horse in question goes lame. Poor Ro has limped her way through the summer so far, effectively halting our work on lope transitions and bravery on trail rides. We’ve been trying more on the latter but it’s hard to be brave when uneven, rough footing is hurting you. So we have slowed down and tried to be a little more cautious about that. Nellie’s leg has been huge most of the summer due to the high temperatures and while the vet isn’t necessarily concerned, I’ve been warned to go very easy on that leg. It doesn’t seem to hurt her as much as it seems to annoy her when her range of motion is affected.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money this summer trying to aid these issues, but we kinda seem to be spinning our wheels a little. Like I said, it’s never time wasted, I love working with these sweethearts no matter what the pace is, but it’s funny how it seems to be the summer of setbacks. 

When you can’t hold your own head thoughtfully, have your mom do it

On other news, we have had a nice little potato crop. After a lovely roast potato dish the other day, we’ve had enough continue to grow  that we took some to my grandma as well. Potatoes are such a  lovely crop to grow, and something we eat a lot around here, so I definitely think more of the garden will be devoted to potatoes next year. 

As well as kohlrabi, because that’s also been a hoot and a half to grow. Super cute plant, very tasty payoff.

Unfortunately a decent amount of the garden got eaten by something, and what it didn’t eat it slept on and squashed, so I have been doing a little bit of research into container gardening in this part of the country. I did a little of it when I lived in Seattle and it was helpful for the critters there. It would also give me more potato space for next year. Win win. 

potatoes!

Anyways, I won’t catch up with farm chores by complaining so I better get back to it. Lots to do, especially the stuff that needs doing before the heat hits each day.

Until we chat again, my friends.

It’s Warm

Hello friends!

It’s officially that time of the year where we have to be very careful not to melt. We don’t see highs below 100 or lows below 70 for the foreseeable future.

Honestly, I don’t mind it. I’d love it if it was a little easier to get outside in the mornings, work kinda makes that hard sometimes, but I really don’t mind the heat so much if I don’t have to drive anywhere. My car doesn’t have AC any longer so to drive anywhere is wholly unpleasant.

I definitely don’t like the fire conditions either, and we are deep, deep, deep in that part of the year. Last year it was so smoky and so much of the country was on fire, that I think everyone is a little more on edge than usual this year. The Willow Creek fire in Oregon from a few weeks ago burned close enough to be viewable from my back porch (we weren’t in any immediate danger as the Snake River was between us and the fire, if it had jumped the snake we probably would have had bigger issues, however it affected some in my community). I was really worried that was going to be indicative of the smoke watch but so far, we’ve been very blessed to stay mostly clear.

The sunrises have been amazing lately

But it was a very clear reminder to be vigilant about fire safety and to keep a very close eye on the brushland behind the house. Just in case.

There’s a notorious hill in my area called “Chicken Hill”. I don’t know if that’s its official name or just something locals call it, but it’s a bit notorious because of its proclivity for catching fire. It regularly seems to go up and despite this well known fact, people continue to camp, live, and launch fireworks up there all summer long. This is the first year since I moved here full time that the hill hasn’t burned yet, and to be honest, I’m suspiciously waiting. Last year the chief of police was the one to accidentally set it on fire, so no one’s immune. It also always seems to burn out of control for longer than expected, you would think the fire department would have a specific Chicken Hill response plan by now (I say this in jest, firefighting is seriously scary, hard work and I have nothing but major respect for the work they do, especially the chronically underfunded rural departments). Very often it’s the 4th of July that sends it up in flames. We’ve been lucky so far.

In other news, I tried a new recipe with the kohlrabi from the garden. I have never grown or cooked kohlrabi before so I was pretty dang excited. First of all, kohlrabi totally looks like an alien vegetable out in the garden, with its big old leaves and funky green bulb. Super cute but definitely a little off looking. Based on appearance alone I was worried it would be a more bitter veggie but boy was I wrong. It honestly tastes like sweeter broccoli. The skin is a little tough but even so, I could totally see myself eating a fresh kohlrabi straight from the garden like it’s an apple or something.

Kohlrabi stir-fry

The recipe was super easy, fry some bacon. Then saute the kohlrabi, garlic, and green onions in the bacon fat. Wilt in your kohlrabi leaves (and some spinach if, like me, your leaves left a little to be desired in the bulk department) with a little stock, add your bacon bits back with some soy sauce, toss like mad, and serve. Salt and pepper to taste but remember this has bacon and soy sauce so… be careful about salting without tasting. It was such a tasty side, we served it with rice and pork medallions. I will be making that again.

I think this week our potatoes should be just about ready to go, they are starting to show signs of readiness, at least according to Google. A lot of how I garden involves a good old Google search, everything from bugs to harvests to produce storage. A modern farmer if you will.

Other than that it’s been pretty normal on the farm. I briefly headed up to the county fair (most of which was shot down due to heat) to support my little cousin who won grand champion in his 4H rabbit project. Super proud of him for working so hard. Ro has been basically on stall rest for everything from a pulled shoulder to stepping on a bee hive. She’s had a rough week or so. Poor Nellie still is struggling with that swollen leg of hers, which is somewhat normal for this time of year. It doesn’t hurt her as much as it just annoys her because it slows her mobility. But I give her time off, just in case, because learning should be a fun thing for her too, not stressful walking around on an uncomfortable leg.

One of Aaron’s prize-winning bunnies

Anyway, that’s all for us here I think. Stay safe and cool out there.

Until we chat again, my friends!