Over the Fence Chat -- August 4-10, 2002

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Time to start this week's . . .

I was over visiting friends yesterday -- took the hound to play with their hound. Dogs had a WHEE of a time. Blanca (mine) out weighs and out bulks Zeek (theirs) by about half again as much, but Zeek makes up for it in agility and short turning radius. At one point, he sprang straight in the air and then over her. It was hilarious. The only part I don't like is when then think they should do their sparring right on top of ME. I don't want to be the recipient of any tooth clashing gone astray!

Then we confined the dogs and went to see a play. Amateur is not the word for it, as all the actors are experienced. But it's a not-for-profit, no-pay-for-the-actors deal. What IS the term for that? Anyway, it was a satire called "Ten Little Idiots", based on the Agatha Christie book "Ten Little Indians" (also known as "And Then There Were None" in an early -- late 50's I think -- stab at political correctness). The playhouse is quite small, would only seat about 100 max (and on backless wooden benches padded with some foam and vinyl covering), and there is no stage, just an open floor. This theater is known for weird, avant-garde productions, but this one was more in the realms of ridiculously funny. It was loaded with pop culture digs -- all the characters were parodies of celebrities. For instance, there was a Senator Bill Lyes (I'm sure his resemblance to the appearance and voice of Bill Clinton was merely a coincidence!) and Michael Odd (skinny, with a high pitched voice, a glove on the left hand, and acting just, well, ODD -- guess who?) There was also Arnold Force, who was hilarious when he maintained his Austrian accent and even more so when he slipped into Indian or Scottish, and a character called Trek Nolyf (no life) who kept switching between various Star Trek characters (Worf was the funniest). The very funniest bit was the "funeral" after several characters had been killed, when Michael Odd sang Amazing Grace a cappella, then they all went into the dancing/choreography from "Thriller" as Michael continued to belt out Amazing Grace. Even the corpses were "dancing". We really enjoyed it!

Finally got some more rain late in the night, which we really needed. I wasn't awake for most of it, but it sounded like a good steady rain, so I hope it soaked in rather than just running off as happens with the sudden heavy downpours.

I am getting tomatoes off my plants now. I got a "Garden Peach" start from a friend which is producing. The fruits have a very slight "peach fuzz" to them, but really, they are very similar in size and color to apricots, which are also fuzzy, so why aren't they "Garden Apricot"? Hmpf!

I'm trying to work on a wedding outfit for my friend, but it's slow going. I gotta get speeded up!

I guess that's all from my world at the moment.

-- Anonymous, August 04, 2002


Yesterday, as we were lounging in the pool, a large black volture landed next to the pool and looked at us. It wasn't afraid and finally flew off again. We all looked at each other and ask what that was all about. Later I saw a couple circling and figured they found something tasty. This morning, two of them went from my roof to the falls of my fishpond. I chased them off and checked on my fish to make sure they were okay and THEY WERE ALL GONE!!!! My babies, all gone. All my gorgeous koi, shumbunkins, and penny arcade fish....gone. Later (when I usually feed) I went over, sadly to ponder the fate of my poor fish when they came slowly to the top for feeding. They were hiding...my babies were hiding...I'm happy now. Any ideas on how to chase away voltures.

I stupidly worked hard all day in this heat but have to get stuff done. This is trying to move some gates. So I was digging holes and putting on new hinges. All that good stuff. Only got a few cuts...

County Fair is this week. The goat I wanted to enter got a cough so that's out. They made it the state fair now so it's more crowded. All well...

-- Anonymous, August 04, 2002

I is worn to a frazzle.

Got up Friday afternoon, early; to get the kitchen ready for a harvest weekend before I had to head in to work. Pop was adament - Nothing would do but we HAD to put up sweet corn on Saturday; it couldn't wait for Sunday, nope, huh-uh, no way. Okayfine. Got home from work yesterday morning and Pop was already out picking sweet corn. 16 dozen ears; to be exact. I finished getting the kitchen set up; picked some pole beans for a friend of his while he finished picking corn; then we worked together to get all the corn shucked. I started washing and silking the ears while he carted the shucks and trimmings out to the chicken pen - talk about some estatic chickens!! He came in and began cutting the corn off the cob - he had enough done for 3 batches before I managed to get done with cleaning all the ears! I helped cut the rest off; in between trips to the stove to stir. We ended up doing 7 batches; got 22 pint & 1/2 freezer boxes full. Hubs got home right as we were finishing up - he got to do the clean-up! We grabbed some lunch and I did a quick rinse off (couldn't really call it a shower - but I'm pretty sure I got both sides!) and crawled into bed at 2:30 pm. Hubs said I didn't even twitch - reckon I was tired! I slept til about 6:30; then got up and we went out and picked tomatoes - 5 buckets full of the darn things! I cleaned up a few things in the kitchen that Hubs had missed (how can you not notice your feet sticking to the floor from the corn juice!?); and then crawled into the tub with a book - Hubs woke me up to go to bed at about 10:30...

Got up early again this morning and got the kitchen all set up again while the fellas were out picking more corn - 20 dozen ears this morning. I had to pick pole beans again; and got the cherry tomatoes that we were just too tired to mess with last night as well. Just got started washing the corn when friend Jon and his Mama pulled in to get some corn; so we showed them where to pick (and told them that if they came out with less than 10 dozen that we were going to send them back in!) and got back to cleaning. (Side rant: I have offered corn to dozens of folks this year - Free, U-Pick. Jon and his Mama are the only ones who have bothered to come out. The rest want me to pick it and bring it to them. NO. Ain't gonna do it.) The plant where Jon's Dad worked closed down earlier this year, and he hasn't been able to find another job yet; so they welcomed the corn. I also managed to talk her into taking home a bucket of tomatoes, a gallon ziploc of green beans and a Wal-Mart bag of green peppers! Less for me to mess with. Hubs was crying tears of joy watching the green beans go out the door - snapping off the ends is his job!

I had 13 doz. ears cleaned by the time Hubs and Pop came in; Hubs took over washing since I was getting tired of bending over the sink by then; and Pop and I started cutting the corn off the cobs. We have one pot that will hold a regular batch and one that can hold a double; we had them both cooking in no time! We had three batches done and in cooling pans on the counter; three more cooking and two more ready to go in when Pop pooped out on us and went on upstairs to take a break. Hubs and I were just getting ready to start cutting on the last dozen when Jessie and a friend came in, hungry; we threw money at them and sent them to town for KFC - decided that we all deserved a break!! We saved the last dozen ears to cook for lunch and started the kitchen clean up all over again. Pop came back downstairs in time to set the table and pop the ears of corn in the microwave before the kids got back with the chicken. After dinner; Pop filled the freezer boxes with the cooled corn while Hubs and I finished the clean up; then we carried the corn out to the shed to the freezer - 2 mornings work; 57 pint & 1/2 + 4 pint containers - we are done putting up corn for the year! Yippee!! Don't know what I'm going to do with the rest of it out there in the field - guess the deer and coons will enjoy it, anyway!

We all took a nap after that - a much needed one! - then Hubs and I had to go put another roost in the chicken house to accommodate the 14 pullets that I bought off some kids after the 4-H fair. They threw a rooster in with the deal. Oh boy. Since I wouldn't let Hubs name the cat Thor; he is insisting that the rooster is Thor. Okay. Whatever. Rooster = Thor. Fine. Sheesh.

Got back in the house and started in on the tomatoes. I now have 8 cups of crushed tomatoes waiting in the fridge for tomorrow; when I can go out and pick enough to make 6 more cups, for another batch of salsa. Joining them, are 5 gallon jars of tomato juice; to be cooked down into spagetti sauce tomorrow, as well. I love my Victorio strainer!! (Though I am still lusting after a Squeezo - why, I don't know, since the Victorio works fine!) Hubs snapped the beans while watching TV; so I have those to can tomorrow as well. I sure am glad that they cancelled those darn computer classes at work, so that I don't have to go in tomorrow!!

I'm pooped; but it was really a great weekend. Working together with family; feeling the breeze while sitting under the tree shucking corn; enjoying all the colors - bright green shucks against the red truck bed, yellow ears of corn in the blue rubbermaid tubs, ready to carry in the house; black and white and gold and red chickens scratching in a pile of shucks, and hearing them clucking and chirring at each other. Feeling the heat soaking in to my bones outside; then taking a deep breath of cool air and stopping to wipe the fog off my glasses lenses as I carry the corn in to the air conditioned house. Getting into the rhythm of cutting the corn off the cobs, watching the cat chase the stray kernals that hit the floor, seeing the bright yellow corn cooling in the blue roaster pan; and the bright red bowl of yellow corn kernals waiting on the cabinet to be cooked; the white buckets full of yellow and red tomatoes, and green peppers and onions stacked in the enamel colander. Standing in front of the freezer door, stacking the cartons on the shelf, and knowing that we'll have summer's bounty to enjoy this next year. I wonder if perhaps my memories of this weekend will be the best seasoning of all.

You all take care; have a great week!

-- Anonymous, August 04, 2002

Polly, are you a teenager?

Wildman, (extremely tired)

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2002

Dee, glad your babies are okay! Sheesh. I have never heard of vultures much around here so I don't have any advice. But I sure would do a double take if I saw them circling above me! Maybe check in for a full-body scan or something!

We spent the (cloudy, sunny, drizzly) day at a friend's on Puget Sound. Had a nice barbecue and got lazy with some fun folks and millions (it seemed)of dogs. Guess it must have been sunny more than less b/c I got a red face this morning.

Polly, I need to take some Extra-Strength Excedrin and finish this pot of coffee before I can even keep up with your post! Where do you EVER get all that energy? Can you market it?!!!

Back later. Off to the world of veterinary keystrokes...

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2002

Another hot weekend. We had a cookout on Saturday night, people only ventured outside long enough to grill the food, then it was back inside with the air conditioning.

I did get a Squeezo from eBay. I used it for the first time yesterday and I'm not sure if I like it. Maybe I just need to get the hang of it. I made 7 pints of spaghetti sauce and since I threw in some onions and mushrooms I decided I'd better pressure can it. That's when I remembered that my pressure canner only holds 5 pint jars. Oops! So the final two are sitting in the fridge until tonight. I also made 14 jars of blueberry jam and put 10 bags of green beans and 6 bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer. Polly, if it's any consolation, sweet corn around here is selling for 25 cents an ear so just think of how much money you saved this weekend.

I discovered that not only is that #$%&* chipmunk eating my tomatoes, he's actually dug himself a little burrow under one of the plants! I"m starting to feel like Carl the groundskeeper from "Caddyshack".

Sunday I met someone from the other forums who also lives in Indianapolis. Her name is Melinda, she posts under the name Speciallady. For those of you who remember Cindy from SE Indiana from the CS forum, this is her daughter. She and a few others are planning an Indiana homesteaders picnic for this Saturday. A few of the "old- timers" are supposed to put in an appearance, besides Cindy, both Joel Rosen and Hoot are supposed to be coming. It could be an interesting day! I'm planning on going but I may not take Keith with me. If he thinks that all homesteaders are like this I may never get him to move to the country!

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2002

Geez you guys; I didn't do it all myself! Pop and Hubs did their share, for sure! The work goes a lot faster when there are more than one set of hands doing it; and I think that they learned from last year that if I DON'T get the help; then THEY don't get the grub!

The coffee definately helps, Sheepish - I know I went through darn near a pot all by myself Saturday morning! Wildman, I am just a whisker away from turning 44. Before my thyroid went berzerk last year, I really had some energy. Now; I have to work smarter instead of harder. I get stuff set up as much as possible ahead of time; fer instance, carry jars up from the storeroom, cover the counter, set out stacks of towels and hot pads, sharpen knives, get the pans set up, etc... I also try to keep a sink full of dishwater so that I can wash things up as they get dirty and as I get a minute or two - saves lots of time on clean up! Last night, while Hubs was running tomatoes through the Victorio; I was dipping them in boiling water to loosen the skins and promote more juice. In between puttin' em in and takin' em out; I worked on chopping up some onions, peppers and garlic, which I then put in a canning jar in the fridge where it was nice and handy this morning when I got started on the spagetti sauce. I've been working on cooking it down all day; and while it's been cooking, I've stood at the island counter and admired the hummingbirds swooping around the feeder and the butterflies fluttering around the butterfly bush. I've watched Monroe (Jes's kitten) lounging in what he considers his hammock - what I always thought was the curtain on the french door - while he watches the outside cats and dogs. I also set 20 pieces of frozen roll dough out to thaw, washed a bucket of tomatoes and dipped them in boiling water then peeled and crushed them; made a batch of salsa + spicy tomato juice and canned it up(already had the onions, bell and hot peppers chopped from last night), tried to teach Bailey to jump rope - gave up and blew soap bubbles instead, snapped the beans in the fridge and went out and picked a couple of dress pockets full to finish out the jars while the canner was cooling down, then got them snapped and canned; gathered eggs with Bailey when we took the swill bucket out to empty it, made up a mixed canner of crushed tomatoes (left over from what I didn't need for the salsa) and tomato juice that I'm waiting to finish up now. I also made up a box and two envelopes of muffin mix - all in the same bowl and no washing it between batches either, flattened out 4 pieces of roll dough on cookie sheets to make pita pockets and baked them and the other 16 as regular rolls when the muffins were done; then I visited with a friend of Jessie's who is home on leave (there went the muffins). Now, I just got a call to come in to work tonight to cover for someone who is ill; so the spagetti sauce will have to go in the fridge tonight when Hubs get home; to finish cooking down another day. Guess I'd better go catch a short nap before I have to clean up to head to work. You folks take care,

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2002

Polly...you are my "hero" ("heroine")!! Can you be cloned??

Dee...we have turkey vultures here, but I've never known them to "catch" live prey. We feed them all the leftovers from butchering our pigs and chickens. Love to see them sitting around in the treetops!! Looks like a scene out of a Stephen King novel!!

Not much new or interesting here in Maine. Just trying to stay out of trouble :-)!! Sure hope you all have a great week!

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2002

But Marcia, living in Maine -- doesn't that automatically mean that ANYthing around there is like a scene out of a Stephen King novel? ;-)

Went out tonight for a belated birthday dinner and a movie -- except I didn't get to pick the movie. Well, I wanted to see 'Men in Black 2', but it wasn't at the theatre anymore. So we ended up seeing 'Road to Perdition', which was a fairly decent movie, but I don't know about it being Oscar calibre material (I thought it was predictable throughout). The acting was good, but as I said, the plot was fairly predictable.

Just listening to Polly's recitations make my feet ache, thinking about standing around on them for all those hours and hours doing canning and suchlike.

-- Anonymous, August 06, 2002

I musta forgot to mention the bar stools at the counter...and Bailey and I sat down to snap beans. I'm used to being on my feet, tho - nurses don't sit much; heck - they even took the nurse's station away on the 4th floor; all we have are little pull down desks/chart holders outside the rooms where we STAND to do all our charting. I love my Birkies - the only shoes that I've found I can stand in for a 12 hour shift.

I love to multi-task (excuse the hype). When I make out a to-do list; I go through the list and prioritize the items and then figure out what things I can do together to make it go faster. It's fun. No, really; it is. You've done it when you make a list of errands to run in town; and put them in some sort of order so that you're not running back and forth from one end of town to the other. And I make my lists in dead times when I don't have anything else to do, don't have time to do anything else, or can't do anything else but scribble. And prioritizing and combining tasks leaves me a lot more time to goof off with the kids or books or for snoozing in the sunshine. Me and Monroe, we got this thing about the couch at about 10am - the sun hits it just right for a nice nap. Still don't know how 5# of cat can take up so much room tho!

-- Anonymous, August 06, 2002

I think I figured out how Polly gets so many things done all the time........they definitely have much longer days in Illinois!! Course even if I had longer days here I wouldn't be that busy....not my style....sounds like frantic constant activity to ME! I like to get quiet and get to know myself and just do nothing a lot more than I used to. Course I'm lots older too. Don't have so much a need to "accomplish" things nowadays. Took me years but I can finally sit for hours, without guilt, and just spend time talking with people I care about.

Isn't it marvelous how different we all are? And how we all go through phases in our lives?

Lotus' boyfriend Matt has a very interesting mother. I was over at his house recently (his parents have separated, she has moved down the street), and he showed me the gardens in the back yard. They are gorgeous. She hand-dug a huge area down about 3 feet for a sunken garden, retained by brick walls, beautifully planted. Built a barbeque, benches, planters. Pretty little pond with a waterfall up along side, lots more brickwork throughout the yard, and the whole yard is just lovely. I remarked how sad it must be for her to leave all this work she had done, and he said he thought she wouldnt miss it as much as we might think, because she made this garden when she was in a gardening-passion phase during one short Minnesota summer some years ago, and has gone onto many other things since. Seems she was for a few years on such a Nietzsche kick that she wrote two books about him and was recognized internationally as a Nietzsche expert. I know that right now she's really into India, goes there ever few months, and plans to move there after Matt is grown and on his own. She teaches mystical religions and philosophy. Very interesting, although kinda hard to get to know.

I'm just not sure anymore if I want to do the meat business. Don't think I want to expend that much energy in one thing. I'm having such fun doing a lot of writing; thinking maybe I can do more good with that anyway. And linking up farmers and consumers and everything that entails. And doing the website. And being involved as much as I can in the girls interests. Even Bren and I are going out places without the kids occassionally, and enjoying ourselves! Imagine that.....

Things have been going quite well around here lately; the energy has settled and we are all quite content actually. I love summer......we'll see how it goes when the crappy winter returns. :)

We all went to see 'RENT' last night. The girls each took a friend who hadnt seen it before; last time we saw it was 5 years ago. A wonderful play. Heard they're making a movie of it though. Pity.

Love to all,

-- Anonymous, August 06, 2002

One of my coworkers just called into the office. She's supposed to be flying to Philadelphia for a conference. The glycerine in her hand lotion made her luggage handles test positive for TNT, so they pulled all her bags and searched them, and made her strip down to her undies and searched her clothing.

I guess that in these dangerous times, we all need to be on the lookout for white middle aged businesswomen wearing hand lotion. :)

-- Anonymous, August 06, 2002

we got the go ahead for our store so we are scrambling like mad to get things going so we can open by the second week of September. At least I get to shop! I found an awesome pair of taupe and cream colored sneaker type mules (shoes that is) and they were the last pair they had and they were my size!! What are the chances of that?? They caught my eye on a clearance table outside the Naturalizer shoe store this afternoon. On half price too. I will keep them as my work shoes and just keep them at the shop so I don't get them wrecked running out to the barn. Oh man they are comfy!! Lucky me! I bought some stuff for the store today too (hand soap dispenser, paper towel hanger, blah blah blah... The animals are all fine and so are the kids but I'm wiped. Night all.

-- Anonymous, August 09, 2002

That's great, Ali! The shop; and the shoes! (Why no, I don't have a shoe fetish; doesn't everyone have a zillion pairs of shoes?) Did you say that you plan to stock Countryside at the shop?! Save me a copy for...um...let's see, probably next year sometime! Think I may have Hubs talked into heading north on vacation next year. How's the weather in Nova Scotia (and Maine, Marcia) in September? Maybe I can do a little geneology while I'm there; if I can ever locate Mom's stuff from Quebec, to make sure I'm tracking the right names.

EM, I come from a long line of folks who like to work hard, and play hard too. If Pop and Granny (his Mom) and the rest of 'em are any indication; I doubt I slow down much as I age. I have my down times - not down depressed; but down as in: not doing much - where I'll sit and read 14 hours and sleep the other 10 out of a day - guilt free. I like to do things in a seasonal manner tho, and this is canning and gardening season. Other than the 36 hours a week that I have contracted to work; I pretty much do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. And I can't say that I don't like my job either - just sometimes I'd rather be doing something else during that time (like sleeping, occasionally!) Sometimes; when I've got three days in a row off, I think I actually will the phone to ring and work to call on that last day! Putting up corn was surely an activity laden activity; but what's a few hours of time against what I gained? I like looking at all the jars in the pantry - rather have the jewel tones in the jars than jewels on my fingers! I wonder sometimes if I've not gone hungry in a former life (probably during the potato famine or the French revolution) the way I am about having food on hand. And yeah, I do like the sense of accomplishment that I get when I put jars in the pantry or enjoy the feel of a dress I've made against my skin or admire the symmetry of a newly sprouted bed or hear the musical thwock of a canning jar sealing. Those things feed my soul, like music or poetry or plays do other folks's. I don't guess I'm much of one for introspection. In the immortal words of Popeye; "I yam what I yam" and I guess I've gotten there from what I wuz. And if I get to where I don't like what I yam; then I'll change and be something else (other than tall and blond with big boobs - I've given up on that one long ago!) And I, too, think that we should celebrate our differences - without writers, after all; where would my reading material come from? And I've read enough of your information on grass feed stock to begin applying a little indirect pressure to the fellas out here to get them thinking in that direction...ah, more work to do!

So, off on another tangent altogether (or maybe not!); does anyone know of a magazine on Simple Living? Not one where you make all of your Holiday gifts from used kleenex or seperate 2 ply tp to save a few pennies; but one that celebrates a simpler lifestyle? Preferably not with too much of a religious (any religious) bent. I'm having a difficult time finding enough reading material lately - I like things that I can carry from room to room, or tuck into my work bag for a break at work; so the net isn't much of a help.

Well, Hubs just came in and gave me a smooch; he must be heading for bed. Guess I'll go join him - don't have that many opportunities to put my cold feet on something warm when I go to bed; better take advantage of it while I can! You folks take care; I've really missed you while Lusenet was down!

-- Anonymous, August 09, 2002

I'm still out here...just so busy these days. I finally got a two- day weekend. Hooray. I'm thinking of having stall mats in my ewe barn. Anyone have any thoughts about that being stupid (before I spend the money)? I can't use shavings (fleeces) and will be using straw, but even with deep bedding, I'm having so much work mucking. Yuck. It would be easy to have them delivered when I get my hay.

Got more cherries and strawberries. Beets, carrots, and lots of lettuce right now, too. Beans will no doubt come on like gangbusters as soon as we head off for our trip!

Gonna critter-sit for the neighbors for the next two weeks; they'll watch ours when we're on vaca.

Polly, I'm still working on our agenda, but I think we'll be on the North Rim ~9/2 and probably in Page, AZ ~9/3 or 9/4. Will you be anywhere close by at that point?

I'm always interested in frugal living websites, too!

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

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