Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ice Storm Photos

I get cabin fever during the winter, so I pulled on my snow pants, strapped on my snowshoes and walked around the outside of the farm today.  The area was beautiful.  Using snowshoes on a crust of ice was strange because when the crust broke pieces of ice skittered across the unbroken crust and sounded like breaking glass.
Icy lilac tree

Our back yard

There were mouse tracks everywhere out on the hay field.    It took me a few minutes to figure out what the mice were looking for:: an entrance under the snow that had not been iced over.  Looks like they found it.

Cows are very curious and very skittish.  Since they had never seen me on snowshoes before, the heifer groups were stampeding around their block barns and in their outdoor areas.  After a while, curiosity got the best of them and I started seeing heads pop out of the windows.

"Hi, human!"

"Does she have a bucket? We haven't been fed in FOREVER!"
*Note: the cow definition of forever is any period of time longer than 5 seconds.*

The ice coating on my windshield

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Basic chores in freezing cold weather

We've been going through a streak of achingly cold weather.  The high temperature for the day was 20 degrees Fahrenheit or  less for nearly a week.

Did I mention the snow?  It snows.  All the time.

Big fluffy snowflakes that cause drifts of dry powdery snow.  Add in brisk winds and doing basic chores around the farm became surprising complicated.

Every winter, I cover all the windows to the chicken coop with plastic sheeting nailed in place around the frame of the windows.  I also put plastic or fabric bracing across the inside of the sheeting to prevent the wind from blowing the sheets in.  ( Well, I thought I did.  Turns out I didn't.)  I totally forgot to brace up the biggest east-facing windows in the coop.

On a particularity windy Saturday, they all blew in.  I came in to do chores and was very impressed by the amount of snow that had been blown in the open door.  The amount of light reaching the back of the coop was really bright too.  It wasn't until I was pulling out the feeder that I noticed that the extra light and snow was coming from the front windows.  I had planned to work on crocheting an afghan that afternoon, but realized my time was going to be spent fixing my mistake.   I pulled all of the nails from around the frame, realigned the plastic, nailed the sheets of plastic up, and nailed strips of duck tape behind the plastic to act as bracing.  I ran out of duck tape before I ran out of window.  Rather than drive into town, I dug out some tulle that I had left over from storing the sunflowers and twisted it into strips of bracing.  The tulle strips are surprisingly sturdy.

 When the weather is that cold, the heater for the poultry flock's water dispenser runs all the time.  Between the warm water and the dry cold air, I need to refill the waterer daily.  Normally, I just run up to my in-law's house and use their outside faucet.  Recently, though, I've been walking over to the milk house.  The hot water there is piping hot - at least 180 degrees before adding cold water - and handy to melt the frozen water in the ducks' tub.  It takes me about three times as long to get 3 gallons of water since I have to transfer the water in 5 quart buckets from a sink into a big bucket.  Being inside a warm building and carrying a warm, slightly steaming bucket of water feels so good that I don't miss the extra time at all.  As an added bonus, the walk to and from the milk house is a bit more sheltered from the wind than up to the house and back.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nico's Office Kitten

  December 27th is "Universal Pet a Tribble Day".   In advance of that day, I'd like to introduce Nico's office buddy: Calico Tribble.  Calico Tribble was born in a litter of kittens down on the South Farm this summer.  It took to sneaking in the office from the barn when anyone opened the door.  The kitten would curl up on the warm modem to take naps.  Now, Nico is pretty sure that Calico Tribble has found a hole in the wall somewhere and uses that to enter and exit the office at will.

Life on the Farm: Chicken Background

I have a small flock of poultry that lives at my in-laws' farm just down the road.  We've raised the four Australope and five Plymouth Rock hens from chicks we picked up at TSC.  The original flock had 35 or 40 chicks.  Thirty of them became dinner once they reached full-sized.  The chickens are pretty stupid; they are also quite funny.   I built them a roost last spring. I thought one or two chickens could use it at a time.  I was surprised to see all 9 of them up on the roost at once.    If I've had a rough day at school, I feel a lot better after watching how excited the chickens get when I throw them some sunflower seeds or cracked corn.  My other simple pleasure is tying a bunch of turnip greens to a rafter and letting them dangle 2-3 feet from the floor.  The chickens will jump/fly to rip a mouth full of greens free.

We've also got two Pekin duck hens.  Either of the ducks are substantially smarter than the entire flock of hens put together.  We keep them in with the hens.  The major drawback to keeping all of the poultry together is that the ducks love to get water everywhere.  Because of that, cleaning up the manure is more complicated than if the chickens and ducks were separated.  The major advantage of keeping them together is that the ducks act as guardians towards the chickens.  If the food runs low, the ducks quack so loudly you can hear them 300 feet away or more until you get more food.  If a hazard appears (like that time I brought the wheelbarrow into the coop! Oh, the horror!), the ducks shove the chickens into a corner and stand in front of them.

 Ducks will keep you up-to-date on all of the news on the farm.  Yesterday, my husband brought some produce scraps to the coop.  The chickens clucked at him; the ducks retreated to the far corner of the coop and watched him stonily.  While the chickens dug into the scraps, the ducks picked out one chicken and watched her for about two minutes.  I swear use the chickens as poison testers.  When that chicken ate the new scraps and survived,  the ducks rushed to the scraps and collected their share of the spoils.  I came in a few minutes later and the ducks rushed up to me and started quacking away - letting me know about the suspicious stranger and the scraps he left behind.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Of All the Worthless Marriage Advice.....

I've been seeing this article appearing on my Facebook feed for the last week or so.  The article didn't seem particularly interesting on its own merits, but several people who were studying to work in ministry posted it, so I figured it might have some merit.

Boy, was I wrong.  This story has no redeeming value.  Let's dive in....

Short Synopsis of Plot: This story is written in first person through the eyes of the Husband.  One day, he asks his Wife for a divorce.  The Wife wants reasons.  The Husband's only reason is that he has fallen in love with Jane.  The husband drafts a divorce agreement that night that gives the Wife the house, the car and 30% of his business.  Wife rips it up and spends the night writing her own agreement.  She will grant the Husband a divorce in 30 days if he acts normally for the next 30 days so as not to mess up their Son's exams.  Also, during that time, Husband must carry his Wife from the bedroom to the front door every day for the next 30 days.  (It's the reverse of carrying her over the threshold.).  Husband agrees.  He carries her every day.  Carrying Wife causes Husband to look at her again, appreciate how much she's given up for him, notice that she's lost a lot of weight, causes intimacy between them to grow (by the sixth day!), and causes Husband to realize that he doesn't want to divorce his wife. Son rejoices at how happy his parents are.  Husband breaks it off with Jane, buys Wife flowers at the store and brings them home.  He finds Wife dead in her bed.  She'd lost weight because of advanced cancer - which he missed because he was so busy with Jane.  Husband regurgitates saws about valuing marriage.

I'm not really sure where even to begin with this.

Everyone's marriage goes through rough bits. The married couple in this story never discuss the real problems in their marriage.  Are they bored?  The Husband seems to be, but he never talks to his wife about this.  What are they going to do to revive their relationship?  The carrying shtick will get boring too...or would have if Wife didn't die.  (Honestly, the Wife's death is an excellent example of Deus ex machina as a way to hide giant plot holes.)

The Husband is such a hackneyed portrayal of the Callous Husband that I've got nothing to add.  Self-centered jerk realizes he's a jerk and loses everything.  Rochester in "Jane Eyre" was a much better portrayal of Callousness.

The Wife is the best stereotype of the Martyred Wife that I've read in a long time.  Her husband doesn't love her any more.  She suffers cancer silently for her last weeks on Earth to spare her husband the embarrassment of being seen by society and their son as the jerk he is.  How poetic.

 The problem with this is that the Martyred Wife is as toxic to their relationship as the Callous Husband. She refuses to confront her husband's withdrawal from their marriage.  She HIDES a cancer diagnosis from him. (Seriously!?!? WTF.) She concocts a weirdly passive-aggressive ritual of dumping her out of the house...for 30 days.    She couches all of this in protecting their son rather than than working on their marriage.  Under the guise of protecting her marriage, she does NOTHING to prepare her Son for her impending death.

Wife is not a heroine; she's a manipulative self-centered jerk like the Husband.

I feel terribly sorry for the Son.  He's a pawn.  Husband and Wife don't seem to think of him at all.  Wife is worried about him doing poorly in school due to the stress of a divorce. Apparently, the stress of losing a parent to death - suddenly and with no advanced preparation - isn't much of a worry for Wife.  

Here's some real advice: 
  1. Talk.  Talk to your spouse.
  2. Get professional help.  A good therapist might have helped this couple realize that they both had deep-seated issues that need immediate help.