Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cat Food Casserole

My Mom watches Rhiannon when I'm working the Farmers Market.  It was a particularly cold day (25 degrees when I got there, brrrrr!!) and I had a major headache on top of it.  When I went to pick Rhiannon up, she didn't want to go home.  Of course.  What grandkid wants to go home from Grandma's house?  Christmas cookies, television, (different) cats and (different) toys to play with. 

So I begrudgingly bribed her with a trip to the grocery store (which I had to go to anyhow but because of my headache was going to put it off until the weekend).  Yeah.  What kid wants to go to the grocery store?  Strange, I know.  But she enthusiastically took the bait and we headed back into town.

Rhiannon knew I had a headache because when trying to extricate her from Grandma's house, I whined to her (yeah I'm pathetic, I know, a 40 year old whining to a 6 year old) that Mommy worked all morning and my head really hurt and I just wanted to go home.  So when we got to the store, she said that she would be pushing the buggy and doing the shopping.  Which she did.  And only knocked into someone once (which she immediately said "Excuse me, I'm sorry"....which I was sooo proud of).

We went up & down the aisles (although slowly and somewhat erratically) and she carefully plucked our choices from the shelves and put them in the buggy.  She put all of the items on the check-out conveyor and even counted out the correct amount owed to the cashier (who must have a grandchild of her own given her saintly patience while Rhiannon counted out change).  By now, my headache was fading.  I'm not sure if it was because of the handful of ibuprofen I popped at Mom's house....or because of the love I was being shown from my daughter for taking care of the shopping.

When we got home she helped with barn chores and put away the groceries.  And then she said that she was going to be making supper.  Not wanting to waste an opportunity for her to feel "all grown up", I gave her several (simple) choices for the meal.  Tuna Noodle Casserole was the winner and she went about gathering ingredients and assembling them to be put in the casserole dish.  She grabbed the cans of tuna fish and with a little help, opened them.  And then shockingly said, "Ewww!  CAT FOOD?!?"

Obviously we don't eat tuna fish that often.  

So after telling her that Yes, cat food does come in a similar looking can, and Yes, tuna fish does kind'a smell like cat food, and Yes, I'm certain this is people food and not cat food.....she was finally satisfied that I wasn't playing some cruel joke on her and she finished mixing everything up.  I shoved it in the oven and not an hour later, Paul, Rhiannon and I were at the table eating what we now call "Cat Food Casserole".

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wood Splitting Party

It was a wonderfully mild weekend so one of our friends came over with his wood splitter and we made quick (well, quicker than hand splitting) work of the pile of logs that he and Paul had worked on about a month earlier.
Dual Splitting Capacity!
Junior Log Splitter in training.
We're still not up to snuff on our winter wood pile, even with what we did this weekend.  I admit, Paul does the majority of the felling, cutting, splitting and stacking.  But in my defense, I have to watch Rhiannon.  But I did make breakfast, run for beers and do some log-chucking.  I even got my sloth of a self on the splitter for a while.

Right now our wood piles are protected from the elements by tarps.  There's a wood shed on the Never Ending To-Do list, but I suppose if we stop to do that project, we won't have any wood to put in the wood shed.  I was thinking of doing another cattle panel hoop house covered with tarps, but they aren't a very good long-term structure.  The ones we made for the round bales have been rendered almost useless because the tarps just get torn & shred to nothing after a year.  The summer sun and the wind just break the tarps down too quickly.  I'm not saying we didn't get our use out of them, but it's definitely not a permanent solution unless you like purchasing tarps every year (and picking up the shredded remains of them all over the homestead).

So we'll (ok, Paul will) continue chipping away at our wood lot and hope that we don't end up having to burn anything that's too green if it's a really nasty winter this year.  Last year we went through everything we had put up.  Granted, we still have the electric heat pump but the electric bill is horrendous enough without turning that money-sucker on.  Maybe I'll get my butt out there and help more so we can get some set back for next year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Bill of Rights Day!

That's it.  No rant.  No preaching.  Just a reminder.  For us and especially our elected "representatives".  

Not that any of them are celebrating, let alone acknowledging or adhering to them.  Wait.  Must stop.  Feel rant coming on.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pondering Pickles

Pickles isn't my favorite goat lately.

Heck, who am I kidding.  Pickles isn't my favorite goat any day.  The constant hollering is just maddening.  The fact that she was only a so-so mother is disappointing.  And apparently now I can't get her bred.

She went into heat two times in September but I didn't have her bred then because I did not want February kids.  But since then, I haven't been able to catch her in heat again.  Even if I can't catch the does in heat, I can usually tell because the bucks go all batshitcrazy when someone cycles in.

So now I'm starting to worry.  Why hasn't Pickles gone back into heat?  Goats are supposed to be in season for several months, so why did she only show in September?  Is she just a crappy goat?  Is she somehow doing this to piss me off?  Is the Universe giving me a hint and should I just eat her sorry ass?

What other reason, besides already being bred, would there be for her not to come into heat again?  Could this be an Immaculate Caprine Conception?

The bucks are separated from the does by a cattle panel fence and no one has managed to get out, so I ruled "Accidental Escapee" out.  Do I have a "Ninja Buck Goat"?  Could one of them have gotten out and then somehow managed to get back in their pen?  Doubtful, not only because I'm sure there would have been some obvious damage to the panels, but once the buck had access to the does there's no way in hell he'd voluntarily go back in his pen.

At this moment we only have the two Boer bucks on the homestead, but last month we had Deuce Bigalow, the Nigerian Dwarf rent-a-buck here as well.  Could one of the bucks have managed to get his dinkey-do into such a position that the doe could have backed up to the fence and been bred that way?  I'm sure stranger things have happened, but I've run countless scenarios in my head on how it could have occurred and it just doesn't seem physically possible.

So now I'm undecided as what to do with Pickles.  It's getting pretty late for breeding.  I don't think I want kids born in the middle of May when there are a bunch of flies and parasites.  But then I don't want to wait another year.  She's not a pet; she's supposed to be cranking out yummy meat to fill our freezer.  I can make her go into heat by giving her a shot of Lutalyse, but then if she was somehow pregnant, that shot would terminate the pregnancy....which could have already been three months along.  I wish there was an EPT goat pregnancy test available, but it looks like if I want a positive answer I'm going to have to do a blood draw and send it in to a lab.  It only costs $6.50 plus the shipping of the vial of blood, so I may just do that in the next few days.  Besides, it would be a good learning experience as I've never drawn blood before.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fat Cats and Fugly Chickens

Outside Kitty has been doing an awful lot of lounging around the wood stove lately.  It amazes me how the cats don't combust from the intense heat.  Although I think Manboob Kitty (i.e. Outside Kitty) may just start rendering with all the fat underneath that pelt.  He's always been a large cat, but since being neutered and coming inside, the pounds have slowly packed on.
This picture was not photoshopped.
That really is the size of Manboob, I mean, Outside Kitty.
Although he says it was taken at a bad angle so it only looks like he's enormous.
It probably doesn't help that I've been limiting his outside activities to basically nil since his emergency vet visit.  I wonder if they have a "Sweating to the Oldies" DVD for felines?

Not all of the animals (and older humans) are overweight here on the homestead.  Although the goats have hay bellies, they aren't carrying much fat on their bodies.  And surprisingly enough, Charlie is pretty sleek for a dog that seems to be in a perpetual dozing-coma.  Our chickens are also fit and trim.  Or at least I think they are.  Is there such a thing as a fat chicken?  Do they get cankles?  Muffin tops?  Beer bellies?  I don't know.  But I do know that a few of them could use a little extra fat to keep them warm because they are in the middle of molting and look like they've been plucked.  What reason did nature have to make chickens molt during the coldest time of the year?  I'm almost tempted to crochet some chicken sweaters for the poor buggers.

So not only are the molting chickens freezing their butts off from lack of insulating feathers, but they are being cursed by me for not laying and being mocked by every other animal.  Even Clover the wonky-eyed goat makes fun of them.  Molting chickens are one of  the ug-lee-ist things I've ever seen on a farm (A goat's penis being the most horrendous. You're welcome.).  If a non-farmish person were to come to our place and see one of these birds, I'm sure they'd call the ASPCA the nanosecond they left the place and got cell service.

The only upside to all this is that in a few more weeks they'll be sporting new, shiny feathers and it will be akin to the ugly duckling maturing into the beautiful swan.  Well, maybe not that pretty.  But it'll sure be an improvement from this:
Did it look like your chicken has been run over by a Mac truck
tossed into the washing machine on "heavy load" and
chucked out the window of a moving train?
Does anyone else have any "ohmygawd what IS that thing" ugly chickens this time of year or Large-and-in-Charge felines lounging around the fireplace?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Merry Christmas...everyone else can piss off.

Rant coming in 3, 2, 1.......

We live in a predominately Christian area.  It's the Bible Belt, so that's no big surprise.

What I am surprised at (shit, who am I kidding, I no longer have faith in humanity) is the bigotry and intolerance that is spewing out of people's mouths during what should be a joyful and festive time of year.

Joyful because people are celebrating the birth of Christ.  Joyful because people are celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  Joyful because people are celebrating the return of the sun.

Heck, lets just all celebrate that we're alive!  What better time to do that than in the dead of winter.  Shove a tree in the corner of the living room and put some shiny dangly things on the branches for the cats to bat at, eat and puke up later on the tree skirt that your mother made you fifteen years ago.
Christmas Cat Vomit in 3, 2, 1......
Dig out that cat themed Nativity that your sister gave you.
My Natavity.  Baby Kitty Jesus.
Blasphemous?  Maybe, but that's what I got.
Eat some Matzoh balls and light the candles on that cool looking candle holder thingy.
Don't have one of these, but heck, they're cool looking.
Go outside and light some candles on the eve of the longest night of the year and yell for the sun to return.
I'll scream for the sun to come back.....but in an area much
farther south in latitude.
Or, if you really, really like to celebrate, check out this list of  reasons to celebrate in the month of December and just go with it!  Yesterday was National Brownie Day, and I totally missed it.  But I can make it up today since it's National Pastry Day.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Solstice!  Happy Holidays!  Grand Oatmeal Muffin Day!  And to everyone who genuinely wishes me a Happy Anything, I will gladly reply with a warm smile and a sincere "Thank you!"  I'm not offended that you went out of your way to wish me a good day....regardless if I'm a practicing Catholic, Halakhic Jew, Norse Goddess worshiper, or one of those Flying Spaghetti Monster converts.
Strange.  Why yes.  Yes it is.
But who am I to judge?
I don't give a rat's behind what you do or how you celebrate so long as it makes you happy...and does not harm nor trample on the rights of others.

Oh.  Wait a second.  I can't celebrate my beliefs AND trample someone else's rights into the ground at the same time?  Well then.

It seems that some of the people in my town cannot play well together.  Well, at least not with people who do not believe exactly as they believe.

Last year, our "I'm the mostest, bestest Christian" County Judge decided that he would not allow a "Happy Winter Solstice" banner to be placed on the courthouse lawn.  Which would be fine with me as I believe that a government property is not the appropriate venue for ANY type of religious statement or endorsement.  Except that he allows a Nativity scene to be placed there.....and even goes around beating his chest that nobody is going to make him take it down.  I would think that someone who holds a position in public office should have some comprehension of the laws governing our country.  But apparently he missed class the day The First Amendment was being discussed.

So because of his A) Apparent stupidity, B) Blatant disregard for The Bill of Rights or C) His pompous attitude of self-righteousness, the Judge did nothing to address this problem last year.  And now, a year later, we're back to the same pissing match over the holiday display at the courthouse.

A display which still only allows a Christian theme.  Oh, and Santa Claus.  Apparently having a life sized plastic figure of an old fat man and a magical flying caribou is ok, but a sign that says "Happy Solstice" is just too repugnant for him and the other bigoted Christians.  (Note I say bigoted, not all Christians....don't get your panties all in a bunch.)  So now, because of either A, B or C (see previous paragraph) the County Judge is asking - no - begging for a lawsuit.  One that will come out of the pockets of the local taxpayers.

And to make things even worse, there is something of a "reverse logic" movement going on.  There is a growing number of Christians who are claiming that they are being persecuted, being denied their freedoms, their rights, that their way of life is being attacked ("their" being the operative word here).  Uhm.  Let's look at this again. The original request for another religious banner (i.e. not Christian) was denied.  The original request did NOT say anything about removing the current displays.  The quorum court unanimously voted to again deny any other religious display so the creche is still the only religious display on the courthouse lawn.

Someone, please tell me how the Christians in our town are being persecuted, being stripped of their freedoms, being denied their rights?   You can't walk fifteen feet without running into someone who is (or claims to be) a Christian. You can't turn a corner without seeing a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Mormon or Lutheran church.  Every weekend there is some sort of church bazaar or fundraiser or bible study group.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing.  But I just cannot comprehend this fabricated "War Against Christians" rally. It's like I'm living in Bizarro Land.

So.  Can we look again at exactly who is being denied their rights?  Who is being persecuted?  It certainly isn't anyone of the Christian persuasion in our area.  I've made my opinion made known on social media.  And I suspect that my inability to contain my outrage at the hypocritical rants from some of them will result in the dissolution of our relationships.  Which is sad.  Because even though I do not, can not sit silent when this is happening in my town, I know that they are generally good people and will miss their friendship.  I just wish that they could see that they are not the only good people and the only people with religious rights.

Rant over.

Now I'm going to see what kind of flaky, buttery goodie I can whip up to celebrate National Pastry Day.

Have a wonderful day!  Everyone.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho's off to work I go.
Yes.  I'm going to work tomorrow.  Like in a "real" job.  Like in getting paid.

The gods of finances must have heard my silent screaming when I received the bill from Outside Kitty's vetting.  Just last week I received a call from the produce guy that I used to help at the local farmers market.  He needed some help for the month of December and wondered if I was available.  Heck yes, I'd make myself available......Show me the Money!!

So for two days a week, I'll be helping Mr. Clarence man his booth at the "big" city's farmers market.  I've already worked one day and I have to say that I'm getting soft....the temperature didn't get above 45 degrees and even with my Cuddl Duds, wool sweater, canvas pants, thick socks and boots, I was a little chilled near the end.  But I figured if the old man could tough it out, so could I.  But in my defense, he did go in the truck to warm up a few times.  I didn't because I didn't want to seem like a big sissy and I would have felt terrible if I were in the warm truck while he was outside.

Technically the market is officially closed for the season, but he and two other vendors still stick it out for the holiday month.  It obviously isn't as busy as the summer months, but there were enough customers to make it worth opening up and paying for help (me).  And as I'm typing this, I've got several loaves of bread in the oven to sell tomorrow.  Figured since I'm going to be there I might as well make a couple extra bucks selling my own stuff.

Oh, Outside Kitty is doing well.  He's even feeling good enough that he keeps trying to sneak outside, which I won't let him do.  At least not for a while.  In the mean time, he'll have to just suck it up and try to enjoy his convalescing while soaking up the warmth next to the wood stove.  Thank you for all your good kitty vibes, I know it helped....both of us :)