Over the Fence Chat -- March 17-23, 2002

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Time to start a new one. HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY! The day EVERYONE is IRISH! I think I am about 1/64 Irish -- Oh well! :-D

Gloomy gloomy gloomy here. Saw the sun briefly yesterday. Better than the big snow dump that Julie got though. Just 3 more days until Spring! Yay!

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002


Had quite a bit of St. Patty's Day exitement here today!! After 25 yrs. of using a woodstove, we had our first "bona fida" chimney fire. REALLY scary!!! About 10 a.m. I threw a pizza carton in the cookstove (barely going!). Harry (might as well mention his name since you all probably have heard me speak of him anyways :-)) and I were planning on cleaning our stovepipe today anyways, but had just gotten a little "smidgeon" of a fire going to take the chill off this morning. So it was just about out when I put the pizza carton in...just to burn it up. NOT!!! It caught fire and roared up the chimney soooo fast!!! Harry was out in the garden getting the rototiller fired up so I closed all dampers and poured a box of baking soda in the stove. He realized what was happening and ran up to the house. I was on the phone calling the fire dept. (I'd heard the roaring in the stovepipe!) and we spent what seemed like eternity applying wet towels to the stovepipe upstairs and in the attic trying to cool it down!! By the time the fire dept. arrived, the fire was out. But it was some scary!! Kinda puts everything in perspective!! I'm glad we didn't follow that recommendation that you call the fire dept. the just get out of the house and wait for them. If we'd done that and had not spent the time cooling the stovepipe down...we would not have a home right now!!! Anyways...so much for a boring Sunday morning :-)!!! I'll be back later...when I've kinda "relaxed"!!!

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

Nothing much going on here. I am thoroughly fed up with being the only parent in this house for the bulk of the last week (Hubby gone away to Quebec for his grandfather's funeral) what with business dinners and his being away. Both kids are sick with colds and have been pretty exhausting. Between that and trottintg out to the barn to check the lambs and clean their gummed up bums I am in serious need of a ME day. Hell...I think I want a ME week!!! And if this isn't bad enough, he's away all next week and gets home in time for Easter. Usually i don't care how much he's away but this weekend has been a pain in the arse. At least he bought me some sort of groovy tool at an outdoorsman show he and his dad went to today. :o) Enough bitching from me!! My onions are still just a growin' and I am thinking about getting some other stuff going. Too soon for cukes..same for tomatoes unless i want to repot a zillion times...maybe the lovage? Don't you love that name (no pun intended)? Lovage..sounds so romantic. Enough ramblin' from me. Can you tell I am starved for adult conversation????

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

Yikes !!! Marcia is there a lot of bends in your stovepipe? I often wondered if that made it more likely to have problems? I know cardboard burns hot and fast.

I just finished laying the plywood on my ceiling and my son came over and snapped a few pictures for me. Little new neighbor boy showed up so we built a campfire and hung-out and watched the snow start to come down. Big time GUY day! Nothing much happening here just dreamin of tomato plants. March is a fickle mistress the way she warms things up then when you think your good to plant she starts dumpin the snow on ya! Aaa well.....Kirk


-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

Happy St. Pat's to y'all, too. I'm a whole bunch Irish. One side from the O'Farrell clan, the other sort of a mongrel Irish and Scots/Irish/Danish/Saxon stew. But you're right, we're all Irish today!

Snow melted and more on the way...on and off for the next few days is the forecast. I don't ever remember this much snow this late in the year. Usually we plant peas around President's Day, not St. Patrick's Day (although I planted some today!). Weird weather. Sunny this afternoon. Weeded and planted in sweats with just a vest for a jacket. The laundry is drying in the breeze though (more or less. We'll finish on racks in front of the fire. Speaking of fire, yikes!! Scarey!)

Finally found a new pastor for our flock at church. Phew! This has been going on for several months and taking up a lot of time, energy, and other resources. After being pastor-less at 9/11, we really felt lost. We also didn't want to get someone ill suited just to fill a spot. It's taken a long time, but I think we got a really good one.

Mr. S. is on spring break and going to Napa Valley next week. One more week of doing chores solo :-( No lambs or chillin's, but Alison, I get what you are saying!

A friend just rode up on her horse, so I gotta go say hello.

Have a good week! Stay warm!

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

Wow Marcia, nothing like starting the day out with a big slug of adreneline! After that, caffeine seems so...ordinary.

Alison -- have you grown lovage before? I agree that it has such a wonderful name. I started out with two tiny little 3" pots of it that I put into my raised beds last year -- the darn stuff started to stage a takeover! I'd heard that it could get to 4 feet high, but I didn't expect that it WOULD. Not to mention that it started sending out roots all over the bed, big thick, healthy white roots, but still, it was getting really overwhelming! I finally bit the bullet and lifted the plants, which now had to be squeezed into 5 gallon containers, and they spent the next summer in those pots. I sank the pots into the ground this fall, since I had open room for it, but I have kept the little plants in the 4" pots sitting out on the deck (ran out of time & space and thought it was dying) all winter, only to find it putting up very healthy shoots on its own next spring. So I probably didn't have to protect the roots that way, but what the heck.

If you want to grow lovage, think about putting it into some containment system, unless you've got a lot of room for it, as it cheerfully becomes a shrub when you're not looking. The flavour is somewhat like celery. I use so little celery in cooking that one plant would be sufficient for me. I've had trouble with leaf miners and last years tent worm convention going after it.

Not much hope of starting the garden yet...can't even find it. We were supposed to get about 6" of snow, and altho it's kind of hard to tell from the way it blew around and drifted, it was at least 12", and 15" elsewhere. It's been days shovelling out as it is that heavy wet stuff, and now has started to crust up. So I'm just drawing maps of what I hope to put where in the garden, reading the seed catalogues, and thinking that it's rather cruel to those of us in the frozen north to tell us that winter starts at the end of December when we may have already had snow for 6 or 8 weeks, and announce 'spring' in March when the snow shovel is the only 'garden tool' you can use.

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

They say a storm is coming tonight. Sleet, rain and snow. Followed by rain the rest of the week, hopefully. We really need it.

I did a really dumb thing. I sold 63 bales of second, cut grass hay because the horse wouldn't eat it. It did smell a little musty to me sometimes but the goats were eating it fine. I was worried that after a couple of months, it might go bad. I got 30 bales of first cut and the horse ate it better but the goats didn't like it. Finally got second cut again but the horse still doesn't seem interested so that means I should have her teeth checked (she's eating the grain fine) and probably didn't need to sell the first batch. Ooooh, my aching hands...

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

Well, things have quieted down around here...finally! Now we just have to wonder how much the bill is gonna be from our "volunteer" fire dept. Oh well...it was worth it having them come out to check the situation over and make sure the fire was TOTALLY out!! After they left, Harry and I sat outside on the porch...where we could breathe and relaxed with a couple shots of Southern Comfort over ice!! Took us most of the afternoon to air the house out and clean up the water and creosote (and find my housecats!).

Kirk...we actually only have one bend in our stovepipe where it comes out of the back of our cookstove and connects with the vertical 8" pipe that continues up through two stories. Problem is that only the section that goes through the attic is metal-asbestos (sp.?). The rest is the common black pipe. At the end of this heating season, though, we WILL be spending the money on a complete metal-asbestos setup!! BTW...your house looks so cozy! Love the chair on the roof :-)!

Alison...you most definitely do NEED a ME day!!! Sometimes when things get me really pissed off, I grab my favorite cassettes (usually Elvis!), jump in the truck...alone...and just go for a ride with the stereo blasting!! Works for me, anyways!

I had hoped to get a first planting of peas in this weekend, but didn't quite get around to it. Harry did get the rototiller running, so probably this week sometime I'll go out and do my "worm aerobics" thing! I feel really bad watching the rototiller sending those poor worms sailing through the air. But the robins love it :-)!!

Julie...we could've used some of your snow here in Maine this past winter!! Our snow totals are waaayyy down so this drought isn't getting any better. We've had bare ground for several weeks now...but no really steady warm temps! We'll be taking the shrink wrap off the boat soon...can't wait to get out the fishing rods!!

Time to leave...gotta let Harry have "equal" time online for his chess games :-)!!

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

For our sheep experts, I noticed that there is a newcomer over on CS who is looking for some information on keeping sheep as a pet. Unfortunately, she seems to be getting the "Sheep are good eating, grill it" type answer.

My only experience with sheep as pets is my obedience trainer's pet sheep that she keeps with her German Shepherds and that they seem to be quite nice as pets, but it doesn't address her questions about feeding and such. Anyone?

It's snowing here again!! Not hard this time tho. Our water table is down here too and we can use the moisture I think, but at the same time, it's kind of frustrating that it's now trying to make up for lost time over the whole winter, or so it seems. Beats ice storms tho.

Came back in from the horses tonight coated in hair...ack, *phbbtt!! * 'Tis the season to be finding horse hair in your mouth, up your nose, down your shirt, in your bed, on your toothbrush, in your dinner, you name it. So I guess spring IS coming...eventually.

-- Anonymous, March 18, 2002

Marcia-glad you guys survived the fire. That sounds quite scary.

We were busy with a little creature the puppy (110 pounds-14 months) found this weekend snapping at him under the pear tree. I caught it using a piece of sausage and slipped it into a glass jar. We think it was a baby weasel, though this is a bit early here for babies. It was about 6 inches long, 1 inch in width, longish tail, brown on the top and white on the bottom. Little beedy eyes and weasel-shaped face. Under each cheek was a small brown freckle spot. Fierce as all get out even at his size. I have never seen weasels or minks or anything in the wild. I caught it and a neighbor put it in a glass aquarium and fed it (10 crickets!) but even with all that and water, etc. we realized it was young and it died, probably missing its mother's milk? Now I know that means that there are more around here. Soooo, we called our neighbor that raises rabbits and let them know. I am out today so will pick up hardware cloth to reinforce the portable chicken pen, with its yearly make-over/cleanup. The new babies arrive in just a few weeks so I'd like them to have a safe place from both the possible weasels and our neighbor's jack russell.

-- Anonymous, March 18, 2002

Julie, I replied to the sheep post. I sure don't consider myself any kind of expert, though. The longer I have sheep, the more I think I don't have a clue!

Time to go feed them, though.

-- Anonymous, March 18, 2002

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia...ELVIS?! My, oh my - what an eclectic bunch we are! PS - you might want to check with Annie and Diane; I think he was last seen in...Kalamazoo, was it?...last week! Glad to hear that everyone is safe after the fire, and that you didn't suffer too much damage. Listening to you folks describe your excitement makes me happy with my boring life!

Not too much going on here - sitting and watching it rain. And rain. And rain some more. Gahhh. Thinking of looking for some swamp plants to put in the garden... I did go to K-Mart and buy my Martha Stewart bean poles that I was enamored of - now I've just got to find the kind of bean seed that I'm looking for to grow up 'em! I've got the rattlesnake; need the Florida speckled pole lima seed yet. I decided that making the garden plan could wait, since Hubs and I plan to go down to MO to Baker Creek Seeds Spring Festival and I'm sure I'll be carrying home plants and seeds from them! Gotta make sure I have some room left for whatever I bring home, but if I work out the plan, then I'll know how much room I have and buy less than if I just go with the idea of putting plants "somewhere" when I get home!

I planned to go do laundry yesterday, and hang my sheets out on the line in between showers, but got called in to work instead. Then, I was going to go this morning, but my friend that took the pics of us called so I'm going over there instead! I think I have one clean dress left... I need to go buy a new pattern and make some jumpers for work, but I can't seem to find the time. I have to go in at 5 tonight and pull a 14 1/2 hour shift - I will be SOOOO glad when everyone on our floor is able to come back to work!! Not that it will help a whole lot, as the other floors I work on are short handed too. They've got some new grads hired from the nursing school, but they won't be able to work unsupervised until late July or August - looks like a long summer ahead of us. Sometimes it's hard to say no.

I guess I'd better get up and get at it - lots to do around here today if I want to get a nap in before I head to work - and I definatly DO want that nap! You folks all take care,

-- Anonymous, March 19, 2002

Yes, Kalamazoo, he (Elvis) is sighted there on a regular basis ;>). Been really concentrating on getting things in order around here and ready for the spring push. I start kidding the first week in april so getting ready for that. Never kidded this late before or with this few does, but have been pretty glad for it if the truth be known. With all this mud we are dealing with, I am liking that I don't have all those trips to the barn.

I picked up some sort of contact dermatitis on my hands, different than anything I have had before. I am thinking maybe poison sumac. I have been clearing some fence rows and maybe got it there. It wakes me up in the night scratching and generally is miserable.

I am starting some seeds this morning. We ate our first really nice salad from my grow box last night. Was that ever wonderful!! Wish I had started a much bigger box now. Hope everyone is having a nice week. We are suppose to get another big splash of winter the end of this week. Yuck!!!

-- Anonymous, March 19, 2002

Hooray! The snow is gone! I hope for many, many months now. I awoke to robins singing and I could hear wild geese honking overhead when I was out feeding the creatures. The ornamental cherries and plums now look "normal" in bloom against green conifers (looked very strange against white shrouded ones!) Even though it's very overcast (i.e.: normal) it feels more seasonal. Our temperatures have been something like 10-15 degrees below the seasonal norm. Now if the grass would just start growing (like, really fast!), it would be even better. Food for the sheep and ground cover for the muddy paths that I keep slipping on...

-- Anonymous, March 19, 2002

Hmmm...Kalamazoo! So THAT's where Elvis is hanging out this week :-)!!

Polly...the word "eclectic" describes my interior decorating technique perfectly! But, speaking of Martha Stewart, I have to confess that after all the slamming I did to Martha here awhile ago, I recently ordered two of her books..."Gardening 101" and "Good Things". Anyone know anything about these books? Also ordered the book "The Complete Soapmaker". I really want to try making soap 'cause I gotta use up some of this milk I'm getting!! AND, I get a free garden tote just for rejoining this book club. I'm tired of carrying stuff to the garden in a 5 gal. bucket!!

Hey...we're supposed to get some rain, sleet and about 5" of snow here tomorrow! Hurray!! Should help the water table somewhat.

P.S. Don't tell Wildman I'm going to be reading Martha Stewart books :-)!!

-- Anonymous, March 19, 2002

I am growing lovage (but only a couple plants for me and some to sell at the local farm museum plant sale in June). My info states it will grow up to 6 feet high! my friend Terri has some and uses it alot instead of buying celery when its pricey for soups etc. Another acquaintance I know calls it the "Maggi" plant because it tastes like this flavoring stuff called Maggi that comes in a bottle. Thanks for the warning on how invasive it is though. I wasn't aware it was all that bad but then it'll have a job to spread rapidly in my soil (heavy heavy clay). I docked the lambs tails last night. They didn't seem to mind it at all so I wonder if I did it right..? (Elastrator) Did I mention this before? Oy! My brain is burnt these days. At least my husband is back home for now so I am not doing bedtimes etc all alone every night...until Sunday that is. Thats when he heads off on his business trip..ugh! Pray for good weather for me so I can take the kids out doors!!!!

-- Anonymous, March 19, 2002

Oh no! Elvis is living in Eagle River, Wisconsin! Not only does Elvis post on Garden Web and admitted to being in Eagle River, but I've also seen him there!!

He was riding his big motorcycle (lime green) down Hwy. 70, and had enormous white leather saddlebags with foot long fringe and nailhead studs on them.

He was wearing denim and sunglasses, but I recognized him!!

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2002

I take back everything I said about spring and I'll keep my mouth shut about warm weather. Snow on the ground again this a.m. and more on the way. 8" on the ground about 50 mi. north of us and more headed south. Happy first day of spring! I'm not sure if the expression should be: "brrrr" or "grrrr"! Mr. S. just left for sunny California for a week. Oh well, Kim's been my inspiration (if we'd only hear from her!) and I'm sure things will be okay around here. What's a few more chores????

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2002

I'm back again...with another Martha Stewart confession!! Yesterday and today I just "happened" to catch the cooking part of her show. Well, you know how she is usually soooo perfectly accurate when it comes to measuring her ingredients?? Yesterday she was making some kind of a choc. pie that called for a tablespoon of dark rum and today she was doing a braised beef brisket that called for 2 cups of red wine. Guess what!!?? She NEVER measured either one of those alcoholic additions. Yup!! Just poured the stuff right in saying "that looks about right". I almost expected to see her take a little nip out of the bottles to check for quality! Kinda reminded me of Julia Child...who I think is a riot!! Anyways, that's my M.S. gripe for the day :-)!

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2002

I posted a whole bunch on Sheepish's thread wondering where we all are, but I think it bears repeating here:

"I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food. "


-- Anonymous, March 20, 2002

Ever have one of those week where you'd just like to run away? That's what this one has been so far.

Sunday night we couldn't get a dial tone on the phone. Spent a few minutes swapping phone lines and the problem cleared up - I thought.

Monday night both the baby and I felt poorly with lowgrade fever, malaise and headache so planned to turn in early. Naturally when we got home we found we had the same phone problem again. Took two different phones and three phone lines out to the network interface box to prove that the problem wasn't on our side of the wire. We're too far out for our handheld cell phone to reliably make a call so had to drive into town to call the phone company. Man, they really try to hustle you for their maintenance plan. We've been down that road before when you pay for months or years and when you finally do need them they come in and say "not standard wiring, can't work on it" so I declined their offer.

The next morning the baby acted like she felt fine so it was off the the sitter with her while mama went to work. I felt poorly enough to stay home and sometime in the midmorning the phone company called to say there had been an outage and they'd fixed the problem. That's fine and I got some logging in. Finally about early afternoon I couldn't stand being in the house and I wasn't feeling dizzy anymore so I went out and finished the new hen house but for painting it. My wife came home about the time I was putting up the tools and after going inside came out and said, "do you know the phone is out again?" Aarrgghh!

Well, it was getting dark and I was determined to finish what I was doing so I moved the chicks into their new hen house and only had to chase just one Buff Orpington all over Hell and creation when she made a break to escape. Got them situated and drove back into town again to bend the ear of the phone company. They're now claiming the problem is on our side so I'm going to go to Radio Shack and buy a new phone and cable to prove they're wrong then well and truly bend *both* of their ears.

In the meantime my wife is feeling poorly so she goes to bed early while I stay up for a bit with the baby so she can burn off some energy. Get her off to bed on time and I turn in a half-hour early myself. NATURALLY the baby wakes up four times in the night! She doesn't appear to be sick, she's as happy as ever, just doesn't want to stay decently asleep. *She* can turn off and on like a light but papa doesn't work that way no more, nor does mamma, particularly when she's feeling poorly so we were all late getting in to work this morning.

To make matters even sweeter we've begun to smell the septic tank so I'll have to dig up the access and pay someone to come out and pump it. *Hopefully* that'll resolve the problem and it won't be tree roots in the drain field lines. The toilet in the workshop (different tank) is giving me problems as well. Naturallly this is all happening the week before my sister and her two kids from D.C. are going to come and visit with us for the week.

Some weeks are just ever so much more than others...


-- Anonymous, March 21, 2002

Oh Alan, I feel for you. That sounds so challenging! I hope you and the rest of the family get feeling better real soon (and I hope the phone company *gets better*, too!!!) Take care.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2002

And right after the tornado scare too! Sheesh!

-- Anonymous, March 22, 2002


Yep, that's the way I feel about it too! ; )

However, it is spring and many things will begin to look better shortly...


-- Anonymous, March 22, 2002

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