Living on acreage is just too overwhelming for me, even without any animals. I'm having a lot of trouble looking forward to Spring, because that means the snow will melt and I'll have to look at the horrifying reality again. Strong feelings of indifference, depression and a need to escape have to be continuously fought back with serious amounts of online gaming time. Listed are some issues I face - any honest and well meaning advice would be savored!

1. We have piles and piles and piles and piles of scrap lumber and branches and garbage EVERYWHERE. I get started on clearance and demolition projects, but they end up just being a huge pile of whatever. There are also fences and hills all over the damn place, which means that hauling these things to the "burn pit" is nearly an impossibility with a wheelbarrow. A truck might work, but then again, the fences would make it so difficult to navigate to the piles that it hurts my head to think about it. I have taken down some fences, but this is a wicked hard job and it required a lot of rain to soften the clay soil so that I pull out fence posts with a shovel. Really the only solution I've found for this one is dragging things to the pit with my hands. This is a bad solution.

2. We don't have a truck. We can't afford a truck that could actually leave the farm. Maybe we could afford a truck that could haul things from one side of the farm to the other, but nothing we'd have to insure or that could be relied upon to not break down in the middle of the interstate. We'd have to wait for such a truck to present itself. Cruddy broken-down farm trucks aren't a dime a dozen in this area.

3. We don't have a lumberyard or hardware store in our area - the closest one is 20 miles from here, down the interstate.

3. We don't have any heavy equipment, or light equipment for that matter. This includes any simple gardening equipment such as a tiller or a fertilizer spreader. We do have a lawn mower. We can afford to spend $100 or so on equipment like this, but you know how it is. Buying things takes away from bill-paying and is usually avoided if I can help it. Sometimes a $5 DVD makes its way into my cart. Not sure how that happens.

4. We don't have a way to haul hay to our farm, or distribute hay to large animals during the potential 8 months of grasslessness (it's usually more like 5 to 6 months, but there's always a period of time any animals would need to have hay hauled to them).

4. Collin was originally the go-to person for issues that I can't deal with, but as time has rolled on, he has lost interest in trying to keep up with the ever mounting pile of major problems that our farm has. To name a few, off the top of my head:
a. Horrifyingly decrepit outbuildings
b. Roofs that leak monstrously
c. 40 acres of decaying fencelines - none of which could now keep in large
animals without a massive amount of re-fencing, and equipment to do such work.
d. Broken windows all over the farm - like EVERY window is broken, except
in the house.
e. Invasive noxious weeds that have nearly conquered every inch of the place -
most of them of the woody variety which makes walking around the farm an
f. More dead trees than I could shake a dead stick at.

Keep in mind that -I'm- really scared of dangerous power tools such as chainsaws, table saws, etc. and have 100% NO carpentry knowledge. I've bought books on the subject, but when they ask for a large piece of wood, I look at my Subaru and think "Well, I guess that's not going to happen." Collin has the ability, but he's just as overwhelmed as I am, and prefers to ignore reality and just play his guitar or computer instead.

Also keep in mind that I'm kind of afraid of heights. I've been trying to conquer it, and I'm willing to try to get into high places... but I usually end up being cold and shaky and useless at whatever I went there to do in the first place. I MIGHT be able to fix roofs or redo them, but I have no idea where to start on that one.

I've thought of bartering for help, but situations haven't really presented themselves. I'm a loser at the social scene, I'm afraid, and not "in" with any local farmers or skilled laborers.

I do have a small donkey, but she can escape from the fence. She's living with other people's horses right now. She could probably help with some of the weeds, but she has to have a friend in the pasture with her, or she'll just hang out on our porch.

All in all, I think getting this farm back on the road to recovery will require me to do some major work all by myself, or with the help of a willing 9 year old. If Collin sees me trying to shape things up, I'm sure he'll get into it himself, but as it stands now we just sink deeper and deeper into the weeds and the avoidance.

Anyone have some fabulous inexpensive suggestions? Please, please, please pass along anything you can think of! The snow should melt off in April, and I'd like to have a plan. If I don't make a change I'm going have to leave or I'll go insane.

What to do?

It's been a long while since I've posted a really meaty journal entry, but I'm afraid that today is not going to be the day. I do have two tidbits. As far as the kitchen, I did this little thingy on Sunday:

Here was the mundane light fixture:

Here's the new, improved, PIRATE STYLE fixture:

I pulled the fuse, took the glass sconces and bulbs off, got out the handy glue gun, wrapped the main part with sissal rope, taped the sockets shut, spray painted the whole thing with Kilz Bronze, then wrapped the arms with jute twine. The whole renovation cost a tiny bit more than $5. Yarr! I was hardcore, too... Collin didn't want to help me try to take the fixture off the ceiling, so I just did the whole thing where it hung. We're just going to get some of those incredibly tacky flicker light bulbs come next payday, and we'll really have the scene going on! I let Viv slop paint on those sconces about a year ago because they're so ugly anyway, I figured she couldn't hurt them. I'm hoping we'll be able to get new ones someday, or else I'll get sick of them, take turpentine to them and paint some anchors on, or something.

Here's the other tidbit:

Yes, that's right, we got Clemmie a new pet. Actually, last Monday, we found out that a kitten was hiding on our porch - when I opened the door for Viv, a kitty ran in. We put up a sign at the store, and aggressively investigated, but no one claimed her. I'm pretty sure she was dumped at our farm by some dimwit who didn't want to have to pay the abandonment fee at the animal shelter. Viv bribed Collin into letting her keep the new kitten. She's got those pretty mackerel tabby markings, and she's nearly mute. Her name is Durian.

EDITED TO ADD: Viv was taking a performance dance/kicking class for about a month, but she didn't like it at all. She joined 4-H this month though, and it really looks like it's going to be a good fit. We're all excited about 4-H!!

Back from Vacation

I got all these pictures cropped and ready to put into the entry, but I can't. We reinstalled Windows AGAIN, so AGAIN I have to download and configure some stuff before I can have pictures available. Tomorrow I'll have some up, I hope.

On the 18th of May, at 11:30pm we hopped into Pirate Jenny and drove to Colorado for one crazy vacation. On the 28th of May at 1:00am, we arrived back home in North Dakota.

What happened in between?

Click, if you dare!Collapse )

We had SUCH a great time (and I'll seriously miss taking showers that make me clean), but it sure feels good to be home!

Quick overview!

Here's how things stand on the farm right now...

1. SPRING is progressing, and everything is green. Now is the best time of the year to visit! The weather is nice and cool and the weeds aren't huge yet. No one ever visits us at this time of year, though. That's a real bummer. They probably think they'd get put to work. ;)

2. GARDEN! Collin, Collin, Quite Contrary... how does your garden grow? Here's what he's got sprouting: onions, garlic, feed corn, asparagus (of course), rhubarb (of course), garden peas, red leaf lettuce, baby greens, 2 kinds of radishes, kohlrabi, carrots, & pak choi. Also, Collin planted 2 types of hops rhizomes in the iris/lilies bed along the east side of the house. They're not out yet.

3. CONTAINERS! Planted in peat pots in the attic window: broccoli, green zebra tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, chili peppers, cantaloupe, eatin' pumpkins, & buttercrunch head lettuce.

4. FRUIT! The apple trees are just starting to put out leaves this week, and they're beautiful! Collin planted a couple of 2 year old Saskatoon serviceberry bushes last weekend. They came from the nursery -- they just look like sticks poking out of the ground. Collin swears that their buds are bigger though. We protected our little plum from the rabbits last year (and still), and it's actually getting so much bigger now! It was nibbled down to about a foot tall the first Spring we were here, but now it's about 4 feet tall, and bushy!

5. Livestock. None. We're providing pasture for some nice people, so we've got the 7 horses and 2 mules in the front. They're keeping the weeds down in that area, and they're pretty to watch (the equines, not the nice people). The reason we're not currently doing poultry is because of #6:


6. VACATION! Around the 20th of May, we'll be driving down to Rapid City. We plan to visit Reptile Gardens, and camp overnight. We pitched our tent in the yard a couple of weekends ago to test it for problems. Even though it's been unused for almost 5 years, and been stored in the mousy garage since we moved here, it is still in perfect shape! I'm excited!

The day after we camp, we're driving the rest of the way to Colorado, where we'll stay with Collin's parents for about a week. I'm SO PSYCHED! I haven't been out of ND since we moved here!! I'm going THRIFT STORE shopping, and I'm going to go around and take pics of all kinds of memorable places in Colorado. Depending on how much money we have then, too, I have a huge list of attractions and restaurants and stuff that I want to do... stuff I really miss, like eating Chinese food at the mall. High on my agenda is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, while Viv is really only looking forward to going to Casa Bonita (see the South Park episode of the same name to understand her Cartman-like obsession). She'd also like to see the Hippos at the Zoo. She remembers them fondly. Collin's vacation goal seems to only be to visit the cheese warehouse in Longmont and get squeaks (cheese curds).


7. SUMMER POULTRY PLANS. Today I placed our first order for poultry this summer. The week of June 4th, we'll be getting:
*5 Black Sumatra chicks
*25 Cockerels, all heavies assortment(which may include any of the following breeds: Black Australorps; Lt. Brahmas; Dark Cornish; Black and White Giants; Buff and White Orpingtons; New Hampshire, Rhode Island Reds, Barred, White, Columbian, Partridge, Buff Rocks; Sussex, Turkens; White, Silver Laced, & Columbian Wyandottes, Red Sex Link or Black Sex Link)

The Sumatras, at $3.60 per chick, will be for keeping, and the heavies, at something like 55 cents each, will be for fattening up and eating. Those Sumatras have the purple skin like the silkies, but they can fly, and they're quite a bit bigger. I've read that they're really even-tempered and pretty good reliable layers, to. We've certainly found out that we don't AT ALL need the volume of eggs that more than a few chickens can produce.

When we come back from vacation, we're going to be trying to get 5 geese, 10 guineas and 2 non-broad-breasted turkeys from the farm store. Naturally, it's hard to rely upon being able to get what you want when you buy poultry from the bins at the farm store, but its SO much cheaper than buying these less-popular types of birds from the hatchery that it's worth the risk that we might not get exactly what we want.

Drat, I have some pictures I want to share, but they'll have to wait. We reinstalled Windows on this computer and I haven't downloaded winSCP yet, so I can't upload my pics to my website. Grr! I'm about to go give Viv a bath, so I'm thinking I'll upload some new movies on Youtube while I do that.

Restore entry

I wrote this at the end of March (I'm putting March 29th as the date.. .I don't know exactly when I wrote it):

Ugh, it's been nearly a month since I posted anything. What's been going on? Well first, Collin received his garden seeds. He's tilled what he says is about 20% of the garden. He has to till it with a garden fork, so this is a pretty big deal, for him to have that much done already. He's planted kohlrabi, oak leaf lettuce and red sails lettuce - he keeps calling it "red snails lettuce." I don't know if he's doing it on accident or not.

We've butchered ALL of the rest of our chickens on the 16th and 17th. Toward the end, they were sleeping on the porch and still getting snatched by some kind of brave predator at a rate of one every other night. Pawpaw the Heeler was at his wits' end, and he would frequently go screaming at the top of his lungs through the house at night, thinking he'd heard something outside that he had to chase away. He seemed a little sad for a few days after all the rest of the chickens were butchered. He sat on the sidewalk a lot, looking around for something to do.

bumbling early morning entry.

Whew, I'm sleepy! What the heck am I doing up so late? Well, literally, I was plumping up my MySpace profile. But, I'm just up because Collin got to the bed first, and I can't fall asleep if he's lying there awake. He's probably sleeping by now, though.

Sarah, Jamey, Jerod and Sebastian (cousins) just moved from Las Vegas to New York State. They made some detours from the easiest route, and came to visit us on their way to NY. They only got to stay for about 24 hours (the threat of a nasty storm drove them away earlier than any of us expected), but we had lotsa laffs in the time they were here. I just contacted Sarah this evening and they are safely in New York, and getting installed into their new apartment.

Hey! We're not sick anymore! Life is really good right now, except the weather seriously sucks. Blowing, drifting snow, icy roads, and it never stops crapping down out of the sky either. The only good thing about snow, in my opinion, is that the Heeler loves it. He's funny to watch (from the window). Everyone at work just LOVES the snow. They're all insane, I think. Maybe they just have warmer clothes than I have.

We are renting a large amount of our farm (south pasture and to the east, behind the barns) to some really nice people who are trying to get out from under their horses so they can become townies. I think they're both from Texas. They brought 7 horses and 2 mules. Those mules are hilarious to watch! They fight and kick and chase each other around. They have interesting furry coats, too. Their names are Bucky and Ruby. The horses I'm not interested in. I found out over and over that horses aren't trustworthy, and I can do without their brand of friendliness. Anyway, the new renters assure us that they'll be trying to sell most of their horses once they're trained. The guy doesn't have time to train them right now, so they're not worth much. It sounds like they're planning to keep 3 horses, but they'll be looking for land to buy for themselves to put those horses on, eventually.

Speaking of horses. Staigers took their dumb cows out last week, and brought in their 5 horses to live on that half-acre back by the tires. I think the deal is that they'll be out in April, and after that, no more Staiger livestock on Oblivion. I'm serious, too.

Well, I'm not feeling creative right now. You know what? The forecast says that we're going to get high 40 degree weather over the next 10 days! When that happens, I'll probably feel more chipper, and eager to discuss Spring plans and so on. Hey, it's already MARCH! Viv will turn 7 in just about a month! I can hardly believe it.

Take this snow and shove it.
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Quarantine w/Crackers

The house has been sick this week. I'm still too sick to be sitting in front of the computer, but I had to get this Vivi-ism down before I go die on the sofa again.

Vivian: I'm going to do what I used to do with crackers: eat them with my mouth open, so the dogs can eat the crumbs that fall out.

Mom: That's disgusting!

Vivian: The dogs eat rotten food, they roll in cow shit. They wouldn't mind if they ate some spitty crackers.