Is it Gray, or is it just Winter?

 

We’ve been lucky with fairly mild weather so far.  But now it seems to be turning colder.  And wetter.  Cold and wet are like friends who egg each other on to be a bit more extreme.  One by itself is ok.  Both together — they go way further than they’d independently dare.  And with the sun not being as high in the sky . . . it’s as if the supervisor has turned their back so that Cold and Wet can be even bolder.  It makes for a bit of melancholy.  Or does it?  Some people enjoy the long evenings.  Time by the fire.  The  opportunity to do crafts, or read a good book.  Or watch movies and play games together.  It’s like permission to NOT farm. 

 

But the problem comes when farming HAS to be done.  Then it’s cold and wet and dark, and you still have to get out there and put wood in the fire and feed the cows (do they even feel the cold?  It doesn’t look like it.) and chickens.  Chickens definitely feel the cold.  They all snuggle on the porch by the front door – collecting the heat that slides through the crack that was supposed to be fixed three years ago.  I can tell they’re there, because a collection of “chicken dust” always blows through in a certain pattern when the heat from the house isn’t strong enough to push against the cold air from the outside.  And chickens don’t lay many eggs in the winter time.  I wouldn’t want to either. 

 

And when there are evening things to be done (as there invariably are – like school board, and the other school board, and Pathfinders), it just seems like it’s way too late to be going out in the wet and the cold and the dark. 

 

I wonder how people do it where it’s perpetually dark, like for months on end.  I can’t imagine it’s just dark.  I think that cousin Dark is the worst influence on Cold and Wet.  Send in the sunshine!!  I’m not cut out for this.

 

You can join me in seeing all sorts of skies here. You might even see some sunshine!

 

 

The Sky and the Barn

 


So many of you leave happy comments about the sky over my pond.  Last week TheFishingGuy asked about the sky over my barn.  What an idea.  Same sky.  Different perspective.  Got on my little Rhino with my little camera, and here’s what you get.

This shot even has a few left-over hay rolls that hadn’t made it into the barn yet.  They’re all safe and warm now.

 

And here’s the same sky over the field.  The field looks particularly green.  That happens after the hay is mowed and then we had some rain – which has happy new grass growing.

 

There have been some spectacular sunrise shots on recent Skywatch posts.  I dream of having a cool sunrise.  I’m sure there is one out there – but from my vantage point, here is what the sunrise looks like:

Actually, the sun would be rising from the opposite direction, but since you know how close the pond mostly seems, you know I’d never see the sun, if I can barely see the pond.  Here’s what I saw when I swung around to the east.

Beautiful, ain’t it?  Actually, it is pretty.  Just not with the stunning, dense colors that some people see when the day overtakes darkness. 

 

Just so you don’t go through complete withdrawal, here’s a pond sky for you.  I’ll settle for cool sunsets.  I’m not usually up in time to see sunrise – colors or not.

 

You can see more very amazing skies, clouds, sunrises and sunsets from various angles and from all over the world right here.  Better yet, take a shot of your own, and share it with us – everyone can play.

The Farm vs. The Gym

 

Today I had a gym session.  With a personal trainer coach master torture-inflictor.  Let me be clear that I am an active, card-holding (charter), all be it somewhat not so silent, member of the National Organization Against Organized Exercise (NOAOE).  I will not drive to a gym.  I do not buy memberships.  It’s just one of those NOAOE standards that I won’t cave on (well, except for that once when a friend person convinced me to join that ladies’ work-out circuit thingy).  And had I asked a few more questions or gotten outside of MY thinking and into Prince Farming’s thinking, I could have avoided this little massive NOAOE rule-breaker.

He asked me to help him lay pipe.  Looking out my window, I saw the trenches he’d been digging on a cute little excavator for weeks days.  And I saw piles of pipe.  Big pipe and little pipe.  Pipe, pipe, pipe.  In my mind, we were going to go down there, and I’d help him carry these pipe segments and lay them where they need to be, to what – like, see if there’s enough pipe? (just writing this makes me realize that I didn’t think this thing through.  Duh!).

During this work-out session, I experienced weight training.  Have you ever lifted 6" PVC pipe?  I’m talking about 6" in diameter.  20 feet in length.  That’s weight lifting!  And I’ve heard people talk about "reps".  We did reps alright.  If I were to guess, I’d say probably 50 reps.  But that wouldn’t be right.  In reality, we only moved about 8 lengths of this pipe (surely it was more than that!).  BUT we moved each one more than once.  From the pipe pile to next to the trench.  Then down into the trench.  Sometimes back out of the trench and then back in.  And these reps actually got fairly creative in the muscle groups they worked, which probably is in direct conflict with the very term Reps.  This weight-training included walking (from the pipe pile to the trench), obstacle course (over 3′ piles/ridges of dirt dug from the trench, and then jumping stepping  maneuvering over the trenches – sometimes more than one), and squatting (to lower the pipe – it might crack if you drop it, like those strong, muscular, cut dudes do to the weight bars in the gym).  Then we had to clean and apply adhesive to the segments and heave them together.  Using a cracked 2 x 4, whacking the end to make it join in to the elbow piece, or "T" or coupling.  "Harder.  Harder!  HARDER!  It’s not going anywhere!"  Trying to be effective in a 36" wide trench.  Sideways.  With limited time, the adhesive bonding almost on contact.  Sheesh.

And those pansy little step-aerobics in gyms (or in front of the TV) don’t hold a candle to our step aerobics.  Forget 4", 6" or even 8" steps.  These trenches afforded 18" to 72" steps (depending on where along the trench we were).  Step in, out, over, and back.  In, out, over, and back.  You got it!  Now again. In, out, over, and back.  Now with a 20′ pipe!  In, out, over, and in.  Add stones and dirt in your boots, to toughen you up. In, out, over, and back.  Shut up!  The Marines could have used today’s little venture as their physical/mental stamina-building routine finale.

Okay, so that was the warm-up.  Now for the work-out part.  This work-out was one of those whole-body experiences.  I mean we did abs, quads, butt, thighs, dangly arm-bits, attitudes, relationship, language, existence, is there a God, whole-body work.  After the first two segments of pipe, I knew the agony was more than my imagination when Prince Farming said (out loud, in a voice I distinctly heard and he can’t deny) "This is harder than I thought it would be."  And we kept going.  For 5 more hours.  And we’re only half way done with the job.

We’re doing the drainage at the barn.  Both barns.  We had to start at one end of the old barn and run pipe the length of it (all the time ensuring that we were allowing a slight decline – used surveying tools – a transit – to do that) then meeting up with additional pipe along the perpendicular side of the new barn – they had to meet at the same depth and continue down-hill toward the other side of the old barn.  So sometimes we had to dig a little deeper (pick & shovel), and sometimes we had to add soil back (bobcat and shovel), so we didn’t drop too quickly and so that we could make all the pipe meet at a happy junction on the way to the drain by the road.  Then we had the extra puzzle of having to junction in to downspouts (which we had to add to the old barn as we went) at one time requiring the joining of 4 pieces of HUGE pipe.  We’ll finish it some time this weekend.  And if I have energy I’ll take photos.  But seeing pipe lying neatly in cut trenches – all pieced together nicely – really isn’t going to give you an accurate picture of the absolute torture of getting it there.

Excuse me – I need to convene a NOAOE forum to recommend an addendum to the charter.  Anything that smacks of a work-out needs to be included.  No matter what the venue or guise or cost (or not) might be.  It’s all a conspiracy that we must be alert and attentive to.  Pay attention, people!

Farm Day

 

You must be as surprised as I am with this post.  Afterall, it’s TUESDAY, not THURSDAY or SUNDAY.  I’d asked Prince Farming on Sunday whether we needed to mow hay, but because of Hurricane Gustav and Ike, Diesel prices are ridiculous, and we’re practically out, so he said we were going to hold off for a while.  So I planned my week.  Very full.  Lots of commitments and ideas and inspiration.  Then Prince Farming’s dad (and our neighbor) called to say that the weather now is perfect for hay, and we need to do it.  Now.  This week.  So I can’t stay and chat.  Last night we hitched the mower onto JD in the dark and took two loops around a field to make sure it was all working okay.  I’ll be able to tell you all about it.  But not now.  Must mow.  Now.  Today.  Ugh.  I feel a bit more than slightly reluctant.  My blog name is perfect.

 

Here’s a flower to cheer us up.  This flower was growing all by itself in a pile of rocks.  This flower is "the other side of reluctance"

Just clouds

 


It’s so much fun watching clouds.  The clouds I captured for this Skywatch don’t really have any very obvious wabbits or elephants or planes, but they’re still cool.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  These clouds are all over my farm (not all-over as in ended, but they were all taken over the farm :-) ).  There’s lots of sky around here.  I feel badly for people who have less sky than me.  Come over and enjoy my sky any time you want.

 

 

 

 

 

You can see more cloud pictures (and other sky images) from all over the world here

 

 

Wanna Stamp

 Attending Stampin’Up! convention is always a great time for me.  I love to see people I haven’t seen in a while, and reconnect with ones (in person) that I generally speak to (or interact with in some way) during the year.  I also love to see the new stamps and accessories.  They lend themselves to a huge "blank slate" of Imagine what I can do with that!  Actually, who am I kidding.  It actually lends itself to Wow – I can’t wait to see what people come up with using that so I can copy them.  But anyway – it is fresh.  And fun.  And I always leave wishing I could stamp more.  And because stamping was a bit of a business for me, there’s always that possibility of putting the whole machine in gear and letting it work for me.  I’ve managed to studiously avoid that for several years now – and it’s proving hard to get back into it.  At convention 2007 I decided I was going to spend more time stamping.  Just for fun.  And when I got to convention 2008, I realized that stamping just hadn’t happened (other than 1 set of wedding invitations, 1 set of anniversary announcements, 1 set of baby announcements, and 2 sets of cards for gifts).  It’s not okay for a stamper to be able to make a list like that.  a) there’s very little creativity in that (lots of repetitive stamping) and b) when you can remember everything you’ve stamped, you haven’t stamped enough.  Not to mention the square footage in our house dedicated to stamping is completely being wasted under a pile of boxes.

With my new blog thing, Amy decided I could have a stamping page.  So simple.  It’s a no-brainer.  You blog.  You stamp.  You put the two together.  So here I am, letting you know, that in the very near future, I will, I might, I would like to, I have decided to, I think I’ll add a page to the blog dedicated to the enjoyment of stamping – mine and yours.  This will require an overhaul of some space.  But I’ll start small.  And my commitment is to fly-lady my stamp room.  Whatever it takes.

In the mean time, my farmchik life continues.  This week is corn week.  You’ll LOVE that post.  Thursday has been slated "corn day" for our family.  Last year I missed corn day because of stamp convention.  This year they kindly waited for my return by NOT picking the corn from the field.  Prince Farming’s dad said we could have the garden corn – it was planted later than the field, so it will be ready later.  Drat.

Bare Essentials

Every time I‘m compelled invited encouraged commanded begged I go out for farm stuff, there are certain things I must take with me.  By now you’d think I’d a) know exactly what I need; or at the very least b) have a spot for all these things.  But no.  That’s not how my amazing brain works.  See, the longer it takes me to remember, but more importantly find these essentials, the longer I delay the inevitable.  Sometimes I go so far as to get to the job site, only to have to return for something.  Just writing about it amazes me – this is exactly what totally annoys me about my kids – their endless delay tactics.  Hmmmm.  They DO learn by example (note to self:  only use delay tactics when kids aren’t watching).

It’s hard to say which one has highest priority.  The things I most easily grab are

and

 

because these are things I grab every time I leave the house, regardless of my activity.

 

The other thing that should be fairly natural and habitual for me, but isn’t is:

I need to be taking these every day because life without them is just a drip drag.  I can’t make sense of what exactly I’m allergic to, because sometimes I’m exposed to NOTHING and I about drown in my own . . . you know.  And other times I’m out there working my butt off and breathing in all kinds of toxins, and I’m totally fine.  I’m putting an end to that – hopefully – with a visit to a new allergist lady from Egypt who started taking patients in a nearby office.  Appointment is made.  Hope she knows her stuff, because . . . because I need her to.

The next item that usually is a no-brainer for me to grab, and I basically know where it is (at least one of three places it probably got put) is my favorite hat.  I actually put this in Prince Farming’s Christmas stocking one year, but I have since annexed it back.  I like it because it has a good fit, my pony tail can hang out the back, and the bill/shade thingy is long enough to keep the sun off my face mostly.  And I also LOVE what it says (which is why I bought it in the first place, but obviously "Boss-hood" has switched hands.

Now come the things that I struggle with.  Not on purpose.  Not because I want to.  It just happens.  I really need to ALWAYS take these with me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so that my nails don’t look worse than this when I  get back from work (this was obviously a SHORT work time – normally I have to go mining to make them look almost this good).        

Actually I count myself lucky.  With a trip coming up, I could have BET that a nail would break or get ripped off at the quik.  Most of the time my nails break doing something that should not cause such damage.  Harmless things like closing the trunk on my car or filling the tank with gas.  I’m holding my breath – only 2 days to go.  Watch me break a nail in the airport.

I have been known to start working without gloves, and then remember that they are part of my essential set, so I buzz back up to the house and grab them.  And a drink.  And switch the laundry over from the washer to the dryer.  And check to make sure my son flushed his toilet.  And clean my sunglasses.  And put the last few dishes in the dishwasher and start it.  And then buzz back down to wherever Prince Farming has me working.  Of course it’s not long before I desperately need this.   I don’t always buy water, because we have fantastic spring water on the farm.  Mostly I have bottled water and then refill the bottles several times till they’re just too trashed to be used anymore.  I always have bought water on hand because sometimes the rain causes our water to get muddy cloudy.  But that’s a post all on it’s own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Prince Farming’s pet peeves is when I show up ill-equipped to work.  Most of the time the cause is probably my feet.  I’ve already told you I don’t want a boot tan.  So I farm in flip flops (sorry – forgot the picture for that one – might insert it later).  But in a perfect world on a perfect farm day, I’d show up for Prince Farming fully dressed, including (but not limited to) these:

The Other Side of Reluctance – Pt 1

Today will be a short post – I promise.  Because pictures have been a bit sparse all but absent, I thought you’d enjoy a view of what makes my farm living so worthwhile.  Our home has a wall of windows that face north-ish.  In the summer time there are huge trees that impede some of our view, but I love having them there because it also impedes others’ views of us.  They’re not so close that the house is dark by any stretch of the imagination.  Our house is NEVER dark (except in the dead of night without much of a moon) In the fall, the colors are STUNNING – I can’t wait to share the views with you. 

We’ve been having some significant thunderstorms for the past few days.  Sitting in my living room is like having a front seat in an Imax theatre.  It’s just awesome.  I feel like I’m outside, but with all the comforts of not being there (air conditioning, no bugs, and no humidity).  After the thunderstorm, the mist makes the field look almost surreal.  Photography is not my strong point, and no camera can compensate for my crazy shaking hands, but you get the idea.  This is taken from one of the kitchen windows.

Here is a picture of the barns.   The furthest green-roof barn is full of hay (round bales).  It was a lot smaller (shorter) last year this time, and it mostly blew over in a huge storm.  We had the frame rebuilt, then Prince Farming and I put the sides on (April ’08).  The middle/older barn was on the property when we moved here.  It has some hay in it, and 4 horse stalls (currently empty or filled with square bales for the relatives’ horses.  It is also home to our newest family members. . . chickens.  The closest barn will be a feed barn when it is completed.  Actually, it has a green roof on it already – thought this picture was more current.  Don’t worry – you’ll definitely see it in the fall, if not before.

This one is from the top of the mountain behind our house.  We were up there fixing the fence about a month ago, and this is a shot my daughter captured.  She took “Digital Photography” at summer camp this year, so she’s taking over my camera.  Which is fine.  She has a great eye for cool things, and is learning to frame them well.


 

Digging in my heels

 For those who know me, I don’t have to explain why I use “reluctant” in my blog name.  Or maybe I do.    Does it mean I’m reluctant to live on a farm?  Or that I don’t enjoy my environment?  Or . . . ?  Where does this reluctance come from? 

 Actually, if you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be living on a farm and doing farm chores, I would have snickered a whimpy little “yeah, right!”  But here I am, on a farm, and when the need arises, I do farm chores.  Yeah!  Right!  It’s me.  When I think about it beyond the “I should be painting my toe-nails and eating bon-bons” scenario, I believe my reluctance isn’t so much what you all might think it is.  Let me work it through on this live journal page.

Prince Farming works at the office most of the week.  His day off is Thursday (which isn’t “off” at all – it just means he works very hard at a different place on Thursday) and weekends.  He also gets home at varying times on other days, which allows him to work on the farm on most afternoons – especially in the summer time when the office isn’t so busy and the days are longer.   He is a work-a-holic and loves to get things done.  He is very project oriented, and he ALWAYS finishes the projects he starts.  That just amazes me, even after all these years.  I admire it in him.  That might also be part of my reluctance.  The farm is a project. . . and do farms ever “get done”?  Nope.  Always a fence to mend; barn to repair; hay to mow, rake, bale, and haul;  fields to clear; rocks to pick; cows to work; equipment to fix; etc. etc. etc.  

I like to mentally prepare for what I’m going to do.  And the farm doesn’t always allow one to plan or schedule work.  If the cows are getting out, they need to be herded back and the fence needs to be mended NOW, not when I have an open time-slot next week.  If I’m in the middle of a school project or have a scheduled work-bee, for example, but hay is ready NOW and it’s going to rain the next three days . . .  you get the picture.  So farming kind of ties one to the farm.  Maybe that’s my reluctance.  I’ve never lived anywhere for longer than 5 years – EVER .  (Well, except till now).  I love diversity.  It might be a character flaw, but after I’ve lived in a place for a while, it’s easy to just move away, because it’s like a fresh start.  A clean page.  I miss friends from places past, but then I have a great collection of kindred-spirits all over, and an excuse and destination to travel.  How lucky can a girl be?  And I love to travel.  But the more you do on a farm, the less you can get away.

Then comes the part about not failing.  If I do something, I don’t want it to be a disappointment to someone else.  So if I’m bush-hogging and an unsuspecting rock jumps out of the ground and kills the blade. . .I feel like I create more work than I save / do (very clumsy sentence).  Or if I’m mowing hay and snag the fence row, there’s wire to be run again.  I know that’s the cost of farming, and it happens to everyone.  I just take it personally.  And the learning curve for me on a farm is huge.  This is my first experience – while Prince Farming has been doing everything I do since he was 10 or 11 years old.  So he does it completely effortlessly.  I learn something one year (like mowing hay with that crazy off-to-the-side mowing arm thingy) and the next year (or at the end of the summer) I have to learn it again – (how do you turn on the PTO?  How to you raise the mower?  {No – DON’T raise it this year, it gets stuck and requires all sorts of repair if you do.  I’ll fix that this winter}  How fast should I go and in what gear? Where the heck are those holes that were so obvious 3 weeks ago, but now could kill the tractor and the mower (and me) if not avoided? etc. etc. )  And maybe it’s my age – or this stuff just doesn’t come naturally to me – I can’t even remember all the things I should ask!

Because of my farming inexperience, my jobs are often the most mundane.   I end up doing what I feel is “not much” (lots of standing around) because Prince Farming needs me to hold something in place, or hand him a tool, or go get something from the shed.  I know that my help is invaluable.  I just feel like in between times there are sixty loads of laundry I could be doing, or washing windows (what a joke – but it goes through my mind in times like these) or stamping, or reading, or painting my nails and eating bon-bons, or . . . anything but this!!   Aunt Ruth, who lives with her farmer husband Uncle Robert, was smiling at me when I told her about the stuff I sometimes do on the farm.  I asked her if she ever had to do that stuff on their farm.  Her response was “I like helping him about as much as he likes me to help him.”  So funny.  They have an agreement.  You do your farm thing, and I’ll be here to watch.  Not my Prince Farming, though.  He loves me to be right there, even if I’m doing nothing at all for most of it.

So the reluctance doesn’t mean I don’t love the farm.  I just wasn’t anticipating this being my life.  There is a lot that I love about being here.  And there is a certain amount of satisfaction when local farmers (or not) drive past and watch with admiration as they see me hauling the rocks, or pulling the hay from the (formerly) open drive-shaft on the cub cadet.   And then there’s the opportunity for character development and personal growth.  I’ll share that as I’m aware of it.  For right now – here I am.  ReluctantFarmChik.  Could have been InexperiencedAndWannaPlanTravelFarmChik.  But that would sound like I’m an idiot itinerant farmer. . . not quite my message. 

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