An Educational Trip

Last week we left John at home working with all the animals to keep him company and traveled the few hours north to my family’s cabin to help with the annual spring clean up. It was the first time we had spent away from the house in months. We were off the property! I was ready for excitement, what I got was education.

I learned that the kids do not in fact need to pee every hour on a car ride. As it turns out, after months of Covid talk and faced with public restrooms and face masks, they can all hold it the whole 3.5 hour drive. A fact I will remember.

I learned that this railing still doesn’t seem “safer.”

I learned that a change of scenery will not make a single bit of difference in the amount of fighting the girls do.

I learned that if Grandma and Grandpa are the only people they have been able to see in two months, the additional presence of Grandma and Grandpa won’t make a bit of difference in the referenced fighting.

I learned that different chores, no matter how enthusiastic you present them “Yay! Let’s rake pine needles!”, are still chores and they will whine about them just as much.

I learned that Clara will happily pick up and drag home every bit of garbage and “treasure” she can find when out for a paddle.

I learned that Jane will pack herself up two live snails to bring home without asking for permission.

I learned that Ivy can make fantastic cookies in any kitchen.

And I remembered that life always feels better on the water.

What’s Good for the Goose…

Last week we had an ice storm. 

No, that’s overly dramatic and not very accurate.

Last week we had lots of nice beautiful snow.  Then the temperature did un-winter like things and the precipitation that fell was not snow. One morning I woke up to discover that we no longer had snow. Instead we had white ground covering what looked like snow but was actually ice and it was still raining/sleeting/hailing/anything-but-snowing.

It’s like snow, but instead ice with hail frozen to it’s surface between the puddles of water. Notice the dog isn’t even running- it was that slippery.

I headed out to do the chores and while ice was glistening on all the branches making a beautiful sight it took me an unprecedented amount of time to haul my buckets of water across the ice that was masquerading as a snowy yard to the birds. 

I let my birds out and the geese walked down their ramp and tried to walk across the snow-ice to their water pan but their big ol’ feet kept slipping in old ruts and they fell on their faces.  I would have taken a video but they don’t like me laughing at them and if they found out I had done that they would have held a grudge. You don’t want a goose with a grudge.

Instead, I slipped and slid and swore my way over to the brooder house with it’s winter supply of straw and then slipped and slid and swore my way back over to the poultry and spread them a nice layer of straw so they could stand and walk without slipping. Satisfied they’d be fine for the day I started back toward the house doing my now second-nature awkward penguin shuffle with the tiny steps as slipped in and out of every old foot print I ever made, occasionally flapping my arms like a dancing ostrich to keep my balance.

Then I stopped the insanity, looked back at the geese happily walking on their straw and headed back to the brooder house.

You know what they say, What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

And me and the dogs…

Happy with my straw trails, I shortcuted through the non-slippery house to the front to see what sort of beautiful ice coatings I could find and to check out the driveway.

The ice was indeed beautiful.

The driveway was indeed ice.

But what’s good for the goose…

… it looked odd, it was a bit unorthodox but it worked!

 

 

So Busy

I’m so busy, people.

Today I did the mom thing and the hobby farm thing and the author thing and the athlete thing and the swim coach thing and the president of a capoeira group thing and the lets spend an inordinate amount of time taking slow motion videos of my own feet while I jump thing followed by the Instagram thing.

I’m so busy, people.

It was super time consuming to even find a spot with enough light. Did you know slow-mo videos need more light than regular videos? Took me ages to find the right spot. And then I had to take like 20 videos to get all the jumping figured out. I mean I had to check out all the videos in between shots. But it was super interesting because now I know that my right foot lands differently than my left. Every. Time. I had no idea. I also discovered that my toes help push me around in a circle. I thought that one was a fluke so I re-did it another couple times and yup, happens every time.

I’m so busy.

I gotta do the blogging thing now, I don’t even have time to do the folding laundry thing or the dishes thing or the picking up the rotten pumpkin thing.

I’m just so busy.

Moral of the story. We are all “busy” in our own way. #dontjudge #priorities

Other moral of the story: GMB fitness is fun! They are doing 12 days of play with fun challenges and giveaways and if you join the fun via this link: https://wn.nr/rSPDdn  I’ll get extra entries because they’ll know my friends are awesome too! 

The Satisfied “HA!”

You know the satisfied “Ha!” right?

Not a “Ha!” that’s funny but a “HA! You inanimate object, you thought you could best me, but I won anyway!”

Today I looked at my chicken coop and my duck house parked just where I wanted them for the winter and said, “HA!”

Have you ever backed up a hay wagon using a lawn tractor that’s articulated in the middle through an orchard into a small clearing at the edge of a woods?

No?

Well, backing it up I think works something like this…

…but I’m not super sure. Trying to keep track of all those moving parts while avoiding all the trees turned my brain into a puddle.

But, I still know how to say:

“HA!”

Got it done and checked it off the list. Those guys are parked till spring! 

Leave the Leaves!

One of my favorite things about the internet is that you can always find someone to back your crazy ideas.

For instance I hate shoes and due to the miracles of the the internet I have now been connected to people who not only also hate traditional footwear but have kindly provided me with obnoxious facts to share with anyone who asks about why I hate shoes.

The internet is truly an amazing place.

With fall upon us I turn to the internet again on the issue of lawn maintenance, specifically raking leaves. It’s no secret that I hate mowing the lawn. But I also really, really hate raking leaves. I suspect this hatred stems from hours of child labor while we attempted to clear every leaf from my parents lawn that’s approximately 789 acres of grass covered in 9,450 trees. And probably you don’t know about this deep seated hatred of mine because while I’ve been compelled to mow the lawn over the years so that I don’t lose small children and chickens in it (though there was that dead cat once…) my leaf raking habits are even more lax.

My leaf raking goes like this…

I should rake the leaves… nah, too wet.

I should rake the leaves…. oops, I broke the rake.

I should rake the leaves… but it’s bad for the tendinitis in my shoulder.

I should rake the leaves… Oh look! Bird hunting season!

I should rake the leaves… but I haven’t mopped the floor in the last two years and I really better do that first.

I should rake the leaves… Whups! It snowed! Too late now!

But, I have good news fellow yard care haters, the butterflies and bees need those leaves!

And they need them whole, not shredded.

And they’d prefer them to stay in a nice carpet over garden and lawn well into the spring.

Basically this is the best news ever.

I love the internet.

Go ahead, read this article, from the Xerces Society and then instead of raking leaves you can join me in relaxing with a warm cup of tea and a good book (because who are we kidding, that floor isn’t getting mopped unless I’m avoiding raking leaves).

https://xerces.org/2017/10/06/leave-the-leaves/

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What’s That Noise?

John: What’s that noise?

Me: You mean the thing that sounds like a snare drum being followed by a civil war regiment? I think it’s the dryer.

John (walking toward sound): Ahhhh! What adventures does entropy have in store for us today?

(Answer: It was the dryer following hot on the heels of the dishwasher, two flat tires and right before the vacuum cleaner blew a belt. Ain’t entropy great?)

 

Delay Due To Wasps

I have a reputation for diving into projects.

I like to jump in feet first (not head first because that would be silly – you never know if there are rocks) without checking the depth or looking for alligators or figuring out just exactly how much time I will need before I can drag myself back out of the water.

When I couldn’t stand our strange, uneven, brick and 4×4 back steps any longer – I ripped them apart.  I had a plan (I always have a plan.) and it even included new steps. It also included removing old wood chips, sand and boards around the landing area, making a new brick landing and reseeding with grass. John wasn’t super happy when he came home one day to discover the two foot drop out the back door. Not even my elation at finding a nice concrete pad underneath it all (or my plan) seemed to bring him any joy.  Probably he knew what was coming next – a lot of months without back steps.

He was totally right.

But we have steps now!  And a nice brick landing. And… a really big disaster of gravel and dirt and half ripped up weed barrier. But that’s okay, because this month I was doing the final step of the project. I would haul away the sand and gravel and replace it with dirt, throw some grass seed on it and it would be done.

And then I saw them.

Great Black Wasps.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen them. And while I was unwilling to put my finger in the picture for size reference I can tell you that they are well over an inch long. Huge wasps. Scary looking wasps.

And totally fascinating.

Because, of course, I put my shovel down and looked them up. I found out they are non-aggressive and not even the Orkin man removes them as a matter of cause. They are solitary nesters, excellent pollinators and feed a ridiculous amount of grasshoppers and katydids to their young.

So I watched the wasps, and discovered that there were a number of holes, right in the sand I wanted to remove. I watched longer and saw one dig her hole deeper. I watched them come and go and not bother the dogs that walked over the top of them or me sitting a few feet away. I watched one fly back to it’s nest carrying a katydid. (I did mention that they were quite large right?!?)  I got my camera and watched a bit more…

Then I sighed and put away my shovel.

I ripped apart the steps a year ago… at this point a few more weeks isn’t going to make a difference.

Just a Quick Ten Minute Job

There are small jobs.

There are large jobs.

And, in my family, there are the infamous “ten minute” jobs.

“Ten minute” jobs always – always –  morph into something much larger, more time consuming and gigantic than anyone was expecting. A “Ten Minute” job is the one that ends up taking two trips to a hardware store, and finds problems inside of problems. In my family the words “I just need help on a quick ten minute job” have been met with dread and fear.  I’m not sure why any of us even think it’s possible to do a job in ten minutes. I certainly should have known better…

My dad came to my house with a Kaboda equipped with a winch, a rusty cable, a three-hundred pound lead weight and a plan and told me it would just take ten minutes to get the unwanted willow branch onto the ground.

So deceptively small looking. So very heavy.

…I should have known…

We enacted the plan.

And then there was the part where the 300 pound weight went up in the tree and stayed there instead of coming back down so the old rusty cable could start to cut the branch. More weight was added, different angles were tried…

Hours later the plan was working. We might not have been “sawing” the branch off, but we were certainly “sanding” our way through it.

Look at that sawdust fly!

My dad and I are long on stubborn. The branch was going to come down and with a bit of extra rope and planning…

It did.

Down it comes, nice and slow and just in the right spot!

Five and half hours after we started it was all sawed up  and hauled off.

Around here, as I should have known, that’s just your typical “ten minute” job.

“Cleaning”

…Five. … Six! …

I was cleaning the girls’ room…

…SEVEN!!! …

…emptying out the space behind the door, on top of and under and over the doll bed that was hiding there.

…EIGHT!!!

Finding eight dirty, crumpled socks smashed in the doll bed along with old school papers, an assortment of toys, random bits of garbage and other dirty laundry sent me into full blown mom freak out mode.

Perhaps you are familiar. It involves high pitched squeaky voices, excessive use of the word “seriously”, a significant amount of arm waving and glassy eyed children who just show up to watch the spectacle without taking in any of the information.

When the arm waving wound down and the children went back to “cleaning” other areas I stomped downstairs with an armful of things that belonged elsewhere in the house wondering why on earth the kids thought it was acceptable to just throw stuff in piles in the corner and call it clean.

Seriously, don’t they realize that their toys have places to go I thought as I chucked tape into the dresser drawer that houses the world’s largest “junk” drawer.

“These things have places they belong!” I hollered up the stairs as I tossed crayons and markers onto a shelf in the office.

At what age do they actually put things where they belong instead of just throwing them in piles I fumed as I tossed nail polish on my closet shelf. I had to do it twice. It fell off the first time because of the pile of unused baby carriers, clothes that are only “barely” dirty (different from kinda dirty – those go on the chair), clothes that need mending, a bag of nail polish that was never unpacked from Thanksgiving, jeans with a broken button, and an old e-reader.

*sigh*

It’s possible some of us never learn.