Over the Fence Chat -- February 3 - February 9, 2002

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Just opening the new one for today. Nothing much to report here. Seems to be getting slightly warmer, which means we're getting more melting, which subsequently becomes ice. Yech.

I'll be back when I have something semi-interesting to say.

-- Anonymous, February 03, 2002


Well, I don't have anything interesting to say either, but seein' as how that's never stopped me before....;o)

I stopped on the way home from work this morning and picked up the Sunday paper and some donuts so the fellas got to enjoy a leisurely morning sharing out the paper. Hubs did some work in his shop on a race quad that a friend of his rides, and then piddled around a bit on my new seed starting stand - still a bit more work to go on it, but he promises it will be done by the 12th when I want to start some seeds.

I finally managed to get up around 2pm and started a pot of bean soup - used 3/5 navy beans and 1/5 each kidney and pinto beans for color - I just hate boring food! I brought them up to a boil and then set them aside to soak for an hour while Hubs and I (and the hounds from hell) went for a walk around the farm. The sun was shining and the temp was in the mid 40's; the ground was squishy but not too bad and the wind wasn't really too bad either, until we turned around to head back west and came out of the tree shelter. Hubs wouldn't share his Elmer Fudd hat (had his ear flaps down!) so I had to make do with putting up the hood of my jacket. Still felt good to be out in the sunshine and fresh air! The dogs seemed to enjoy being out with us - they would take off in the woods, but then run back to see what we were doing, then take off again - wish I had their energy! I figure I'll be paying for the energy I did expend - a little later tonight when it'll take a hoist to get me up out of the bathtub!

I took a look around the garden when we got back up by the house, and made plans for what I wanted to do out there on my week off - hope the weather is fit! I want to keep Hubs' truck and go get a couple loads of wood chips to replenish the pathways. Need to go get my taxes done so that I can blow a little bit of $$ on putting together some more raised beds!

We headed back in and Hubs made me some templates for my SFG towel squares while I drained the beans, then tossed in some ham hocks and fresh water and cooked them up in the pressure cooker. He carried out the newpapers to the shed and took some shredded paper out and some bread scraps out and dumped them in the chicken palace. (The girls are still eating an occasional egg; Pop thinks they might need the calcium rather than the protien, so I am going to ask Hubs to pick up some oyster shell tomorrow when he goes in to work.) Then he vacumed the kitchen while I finished up the dishes - kind of nice to work together for a change! When we got done with that, the beans were done so we hollered Pop up from the family room and had supper - nice to get to eat with family again too! Sometimes I foget what I miss when I work too many hours.

Now Pop is back downstairs watching the football game and Hubs has closed up the chickens and is heading for his recliner and the crossword puzzle out of the Sunday paper. I'm going to go build a pot of coffee and sort though my seeds again. Maybe I'll make up some seed squares - let's see, should I do radishes or lettuce? Spinach or beets? Or maybe just a little bit of everything?! I ordered 5 kinds of carrots this year and then I'll be darned if Henry Field didn't send me a free pack of them as well - do I really need six kinds of carrots?! Where in the heck am I gonna put 6 kinds of carrots?! Bun will be happy, I guess!

I've also got to call my cousin Julie tonight and let her know that I AM off work on Easter, so we can plan the annual all-you-can-overeat- dinner and death threat Easter Egg Hunt for out here on the farm again. Easter Sunday is Uncle Ivan's 65th birthday (Julie's dad) so we will have even more reason to clebrate! Maybe I can get him to walk the fields with me again so we can change the plans we made last fall for what goes where and when and why!

Well, I've nattered on long enough about nothin' much! You folks all take care; and have a happy week! Hugs to you all...

-- Anonymous, February 03, 2002

I put up a t.v. antenna tower today so I can get all my local news stations with the same clarity and racked off 45 gallons of apple wine for bulk aging on oak.

-- Anonymous, February 03, 2002

Sadness visited Hodge Podge Homestead today in the form of an aborted lamb. I didn't cry but I was rather down for the rest of the day and can't get the vision of it out of my mind. Poor little thing. I'm pretty sure which ewe it came from and it was her first go around at this so not sure if its her or something else that went wrong. sigh On an up note, Richard and I went to triple jive class again tonight and we didn't suck near as bad as we did last week. Thats something to be happy about. I was actually pretty proud of us. Plans for the reno are coming along. My kitchen is going to be pretty freakin' amazing by the time we are done with it. Thats about it for us at this point in the week. Hugs y'all.

-- Anonymous, February 03, 2002

Well Julie, you gave me fair warning!!!! I had the beta fish from hell!!! She went on a rampage today and killed her mate, badly damaged my female guppy and then proceeded to commit suicide by jumping out of the isolation bowl I put her in until I could get a small tank for her. Prior to today, I had seen no real signs of agression from her. So, now I have one lone male guppy and a clown loach in my 29 gallon tank. Oh, and Marcia.........the tank light went on the fritz the 4th day of use. This fish deal has sure not turned into the serenity inducer I had anticipated. Back to the drawing boards for what fish to get.

Our truck took a dump about a mile from church this morning, so this has not been one of my better days. Oh, and now my mustang mare has decided that NO fence on the place will keep her in so I am in the process of finding a new home for her. This tubby old lady is NOT going to spend half her days chasing down a horse. I really love her but the neighbors around here don't take too kindly to horse running about their yards. Right now she is contained in my chicken yard by the 8 foot high welded wire fence, that is unless she decides to kick it down. Sheesh...............some days I would really like some of the brew you folks speak of!!!!

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Well, I just saw it change from sunshine to a blinding wall of blowing snow. Guess winter is back.

This is the morning that the contractor starts work on the third floor. We got a couple of bargains this past week to make it cozy up there. A gas fireplace (you can ignite it by remote!) and a mantle for it. Because it is the end of the heating season we saved about $530, which made it affordable for us. Now if windows weren't so much...

I always love to hear everyone's stories of remodeling. I have limited skills when it comes to building. The chickens don't mind, but I think our roof would. I am in awe of some of the projects you guys see as do-it-yourself.

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Still in the holding pattern around here except for the @$#^%& boiler. I sure wish I had that decision to do over again. When its working right its really good but it seems to be soooo touchy it rarely works right. For the last three days the temps wouldn't get above 130f. They're supposed to be 180f. The wood gets jammed up and doesn't fall into the fire. The instructions say you can burn green wood and you can but the instructions don't say anything about the ashes becoming so voluminous they plug the grates and prevent the boiler from breathing. I spent the weekend messing around with it. I had to let the fire go out, open up the big front door and thoroughly clean it. I'm hoping it'll be ok for the rest of the winter.

When I was a kid I had several fish tanks and really enjoyed them. I had Bettas too and kept them in the same tank with guppies, mollies, neons, sword tails and a coolie loach and they seemed to get along fine. I had alot of natural plants in that tank too whick might have helped the smaller fish survive as the plants gave them cover.

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Boy, it sure is nice to be amongst the living again! For the last four or five days I've been battling a killer sinus "thing". Moving my head was an exercise in torture!! So I spent most of my time soaking in a hot, steamy bath...not too hard to take :-)!! I refuse to take those sinus pills so I was "high" on aspirin most of the time. I must be getting back to normal now...my hubby can talk to me without me biting his head off!

The only good part about being laid up was that I got to watch to whole Tournament of Champions dog show on t.v. Saturday night. Hubby felt sorry for me, so he gave up watching the tube and played online chess most of the night. By the way, Jay, he says you're a really good player! Anyway, the Bichon Frise (sp?) that took BIS was soooo cute! I'm really partial to the working group myself...having spent several years in the Malamute ring. Sometimes I kinda miss it, but showing was way too much traveling for this homesteading life!! And of course, the politics involved.....!! I'd been "out of dogs" for so long that I was amazed to see some of the new breeds that had been admitted to the A.K.C. Really cool!!

You guys are all talking about seeds and I haven't even sat down to plan my garden yet. Now that I'm caught up with income tax stuff, I WILL be checking out my catalogs! I usually buy most of my seeds at my local feed store. Corn, bean and pea seed is much cheaper there. But they don't have the variety of other seed that the catalogs have. My mail order seed comes from Johnny's and Vesey's. By the way, Polly. Are you gluing the seeds onto the paper towels? What kind of glue do you use? Sounds like a great idea for radishes and lettuce...I hate thinning!

Five days to go til my first "kids" hit the ground!!! Can't wait! Just trimmed all the expectant mothers' feet a week or so ago. Today we started getting back into the milk stand routine...at least for the morning grain anyways. I have two new milkers that I'll be breaking in so I like to have them following the older doe's example before they actually deliver. They learn amazingly fast!! Hey...how 'bout that football game!? Wow!! Even if you all aren't Patriot fans, ya gotta admit it was a great game! It was really New England's time to win, though.

Guess I'll be sure to stay away from the Siamese fish, Diane!! I'll probably stick to what I've had in the past...gouramis, neons, danios and a couple of catfish. I love watching a good-sized school of neons swimming around! That's where the serenity comes into play :-)!!

Gotta go baste my turkey. I'm cooking a half turkey this afternoon. The dressed weight of the bird was 28 lbs. We cut him in half so he would fit into my oven! Sure smells gooood!!!! Have a wonderful week everyone!

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Yup - gluing the little suckers down so they can't get away!! I'm using Elmer's School Glue - I made sure it says washable on the bottle - figuring that it should be water soluable if it's washable, right?

This was Jay's original idea; BTW; to give credit where credit is due!!

I was just sitting at the kitchen table a bit ago gluing radishes to towels - got them laid out all over the kitchen island to dry. Pop informed me that I could put them closer together and I have to admit that 3" DOES look awful far apart but I'm sticking to the the recommended spacing from Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening book - this year, anyway!! I think Pop just wanted to argue about something anyway! As soon as I can stack the radish ones, I'm going on to the spinach, lettuce and chard. Sure would be easier to figure out how many squares of each I need if I had my darn garden plan worked out! I've got no excuse either, as I've just been lazy all day long! It's a beautiful sunshiney day - too bad it's only 20 degrees outside!!

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Well, after all this time one would think I'd have learned by now that ALL projects take longer to complete than I originally think they will. I was up till nine o'clock Sunday night finishing the brooder and hover but I got it done! It didn't catch fire and even heated up, though not quite as much as I thought it would.

Good thing I got it finished too because 6:30 a.m. this morning the P.O. in town called to tell me my chicks from Murray McMurray were in. They were very pleased that I'd come by on Saturday with a note asking them to call me when the birds arrived and asked if they could call early as they received their first mail shipment of the day at 6:00 a.m. I said that was fine as it would save me the trouble of having to come all the way back from work. Naturally, since I was expecting day old chicks to arrive the Weather Service announced today that our nearly two week run of temperatures in the seventies and eighties was coming to an end with tonights predicted low being just at/above/below freezing! Sigh..., well there wasn't anything for it but to stop at the farm supply and buy the 250 watt heat lamps to replace the 125 watt lamps I'd originally bought. Went ahead and bought another bale of pine shavings for brooder bedding as well.

The chicks were a delight when I got them. I've kept hens off and on for years but I get a real kick out of every batch of new chicks and they make me goofy in the head for few days, at least until I have to clean the brooder out for the first time. This will be the first batch I haven't brooded in the house since I was a kid. It'll be nice to not have such a cleaning job when I move them into their permanent quarters! The previous batch of chicks were brooded in the guest bedroom and the one before that in a refrigerator box in the living room. At least I expect my workshop to be dusty so it won't be such a chore to clean it. When we finally do get a barn built all livestock rearing will move to that structure.

Spent all day Sunday building the chick brooder and hover but I did manage to get my watering done. I really, really need to get a passle of mulch shredded and raked so I can mulch in my new plantings. The DunHagan orchard sits on a sandy hilltop so it doesn't take long for the soil to dry out. For that matter, it doesn't take long for the soil to dry out anywhere on the place.

Saturday was largely spent rounding up the materials for the chicken construction. Naturally, the Lowe's in town didn't have the size of heat lamps I wanted (the ones that later proved too small, of course) so I had to go to a Tractor Supply in a neighboring town to get those and went ahead and bought a bag of chick starter while I was there. For new chicks I feed one bag of medicated starter and when that's gone I move them over to non-medicated game bird grower. This has worked very well for me. While I was at Lowe's I was bushwhacked by a pineapple guava and had to buy it. I'd promised myself not to buy anymore fruit trees before mid-summer but oh well. It's cold-hardy (to ten degrees, that is) and does bear good edible fruit but it's also a nice evergreen with pretty flowers so it'll go in the driveway circle. I like "practical landscaping" in that it should look pretty and serve a useful purpose.

Never did get to the medevial fair due to getting behind in the construction project but I made my wife take the baby and they had a blast. They both rode the elephant and now when she's reading her Dr. Seuss ABC book she especially points out "E for elephant!"


-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Congrats on your new babies, Alan! Chicks are always such a delight...who cares about all that chick dust the seems to come from nowhere!!! My favorite pasttime with chicks is to give them a moth or some other kind of bug and watch them run around chasing the one in possession of it!! If the one that has the bug would just keep quiet and eat it, the others wouldn't have a clue as to what's going on :-)!!!

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Hi all! Welcome baby chicks! I loved picking ours up at the Post Office, too (I'm reasonably sure the Post Office folks did, too!). We kept the babies in our home office for the first few days. They would be real quiet until I got on the peecee. When they heard the keys clacking, they would all start pecking! They were okay in the house until they starting getting a bit um, smelly. Then they moved out to the shed (with a heat lamp, of course).

I picked turnips and carrots out of the garden (snow is gone) and cooked up my first real meal on the wood cookstove in the bunkhouse. I used store bought onions, though, but stew beef from some friends (we bought 1/4). Anyway, it was hotter'n hell standing over that stove (and in the middle of winter!). No wonder all those pioneer women folk had rough hands and red faces all the time. Anyway, I figure that I had better start growing spuds again (and onions) as just carrots and turnips with beef aren't terribly exciting. I was indeed happy with the food prep, though. On to baking!!

I watched the stupor bowl game at Mom's yesterday. Unpopular though it was, I decided to root for the Patriots! I had to leave after half time, but it was interesting to hear that the Pats won. Hmmm...

Saw Secretary of Defense (why don't they just call it Secretary of War anymore?) on Newshour tonight. Weird with this defense budget and us sounding like we're launching the new crusades or something.

Times are so weird.

Sorry about the little lamb. Our very first lambing experience involved a stillborn and some subsequent challenges with repositioning a breech and getting him out. Sad. We've had some other losses since then, too, unfortunately. Those sheep...*sigh*...

Diane, hope you find a good home for your mare.

Sheesh, it's only Monday...good rest of the week to you all.

-- Anonymous, February 04, 2002

Well, Diane, I hate to be one of those 'I told you so' folks, especially since your fish went on a rampage and cleared the tank! My experiences with female Bettas just hasn't been good either, but I think you got a spectacularly cranky one there to have killed the male as well.

I know that they have touted fish tanks for a while now as great way to reduce blood pressure, etc etc., but that is ONLY if it is SOMEONE ELSE's tank. If it is YOUR tank, it will raise your blood pressure. This is my highly scientific philosophy. If it is YOUR tank, you sit in front of it, trying for transcendental meditation, but what you end up with is thinking "Boy is that a lot of algae on the sides..." -- "What are those brown wriggly things? I should have cleaned the gravel.." -- "What are those spots on that fish?" and my all time favourite "Do fish sleep floating belly up?"

Then there are the things like the tiny, innocuous looking fish that is actually the one who is biting the chunks out of every other fish in the tank. You finally figure it out because A. he's the only one without bite marks and B. you see the little scutter sneak up on another and remove a mouthful.

I can only remember part of the song from MAD magazine about tropical fish. It was sung to the tune of "My Favourite Things" and I remember about as much as something about --

Something something something..."and bright coloured guppies/shy little Mollies as gentle as puppies..." and "Then I got stingrays that sting in the water/ferocious pirahana that itch for the slaughter/savage Male Bettas that bite with a SQUISH! -- Now I have many less tropical fish!.....If you think that/fish are peaceful/that's an empty wish..../Just dump them together/and leave them alone/ and soon you will have-- NO FISH!"

Over the years I learned that even the most 'peaceful' of the fish, like Mollies and Guppies are cannibals. Some of my favourites however, were the likes of zebra danios (esp. the ones with the very long fins, harder to find), rasbora hets, and neon tetras. They rarely caused any trouble (never). Armoured cats are usually no trouble either. Marble Hatchet Fish are likewise non-fighters, but you have to keep the lid down -- they are flying fish and like to leap out. I also liked Honey Gouramis. They are a little harder to keep and do spar with each other, but it usually consists of whapping each other with their specialized long pectoral fins and not biting, so the loser just swims away. Coolie/Kuhli loaches don't seem to cause any trouble and are kind of neat, if you like eel-looking fish. I also liked peacock eels when I had them, except they bury in the gravel a lot. Platys, Mollies, and Swordtails are usually ok. If you want babies tho, it's a good idea to get a lot of water sprite to float at the top for them to hide in or they get eaten.

Other little troublemakers....Glass fish, Algae eaters (chinese are worst, Indian aren't as bad), Bumblebee fish (aka Gobi), any Barbs, Kissing Gouramis,Puffer fish, and large Angelfish.

I've been shovelling snow. Winter seems to have finally put in an appearance. The only spring planting I've done are crops of oats in The Conservatory to feed the guinea pigs and rabbits. It does look nice tho to look out there and see a thicket of fresh green grass growing. I even bought some more of the yellow primroses I like, so I can arrange those along with it and it looks quite springlike. If you ignore the ice running down the windows.

-- Anonymous, February 05, 2002

hee hee heeeee I'm having another story run over at A Country Life .com . I have had it written for a couple of months but just couldn't send it for fear the first was a fluke and they'd come to their senses and would realise that my writing isn't any good. Hee hee! Either I'm good enough or they've still got no sense. I love it. Sooooo haaaaappppy ! Happy happy joy joy. The editor says she'll have it up next week sometime. Its about transporting pigs in a minivan. Another instance where I have learned from my mistakes.

-- Anonymous, February 06, 2002

Congratulations, Alison!! So glad to hear you sounding happier lately, and looks like you are on your way to a writing career!

-- Anonymous, February 07, 2002

Yay Alison!

-- Anonymous, February 08, 2002

Way to go, Girlie!! I'll be looking forward to reading your new story! Pigs in the minivan, eh? Well, I once hauled a calf to the vet in the back of a Pacer.... and you know, I wouldn't admit that to just any group of people. That I used to drive a Pacer, that is!!

I got my last seed order except for the plants and the fruit trees which will come closer to spring. The Jung's order came in with a free package of seeds - MORE carrots!! Pop couldn't figure out what the giggle fit was about - and I wasn't about to explain it to him either - we'll just let him count up all the different packets himself!

I'm worried that I won't have enough bean seed. I've got 11 different types; but not very much of any one type. I want to try succession planting them again; so I need extra beans for that. I've tried several times to plant the darn things two weeks apart and the beans all get ready at the same time anyway; so this year I'm going to try plantings just slightly less than a month apart, in April, May, June and July. I know I don't have enough of each kind to plant 4 square feet of each, each time. Guess I'd better go ahead and make up my squares and see how many I can come up with of each one; then I'll know if I need to go buy more!

Well, I guess I'd better go get ready to head for the ball game - hope to have more time to visit the forum when I'm off next week! Hope the rest of you make it here, too!

-- Anonymous, February 08, 2002

Thanks for the congrats folks! I was thrilled. I just sent 3 seed orders out, Polly. The rest I will get at the store since i do like that instant gratification thing a little too much. hee hee I wonder if I should try carrots yet AGAIN? I usually have no luck unless I baby them along. Pfffbbbt to that I have 3 males to baby let alone CARROTS!! I had my first rebirthing session yesterday..holey smokes what a powerful experience that is. Highly recommend it if you have any painful issues floating around.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2002

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