Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Today I'm thankful to be on the farm. It's a regular workday for me. But, it's also my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving!  No over the top decorations, no materialistically fueled extravagant gift giving... just the comfort of food and family (Dax, Peter and Garrett this year).
At eleven o'clock last night I made a Moroccan tagine with saffron rice for today's festivities.
From my table to yours.

I bet your Oklahoma sister didn't make you a turdkey for your centerpiece.  She's zany and creative, and she's mine, I'm thankful to have three sisters from other mothers whom I love very much.

If you're still wondering what she used to make the turdkey, let me give you a hint:  she lives on a horse farm where her material supply is endless.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Patchwork Quilt

After too long of an absence a day arrived to restore my faith in myself.  Due to a particularly long day at work on Sunday, the voices in my head took advantage of weeks of fatigue and found an audience.  Over supper at eleven o'clock at night, I dreamt of moving to Norway, parking myself in an armchair in a coastal cottage and watching the icebergs float by all day, every day.

With two of my three bunk mates already in REM sleep, I join them to hatch my escape.  The gods realizing that if they didn't stop toying with me, I'd quit playing the game, aligned the stars for me overnight.  
#1 Prayer answered on my Monday, Blessed Day Off:  the furry alarm clock Dax doesn't go off at the usual 4:45.  We slumber until 7:30.  That's debauchery right there.

I'm greeted in my kitchen by the flowers saved from last night's hard frost.

The dogs and I drive out to the Boonies to let the Great Gazoo burn off some wildness.

Meanwhile, I collect my daily quota of sticks.  
Back at home, I attack my jumbo chores list for the day with the same kind of joy reserved for drinking a gallon of cod liver oil.

For half the day, my only glee is the rush back to my desk to cross off a completed task.  Then it dawns on me that litany of chores may actually be doable in one day.  Bring on the challenge (and stay out of my way because I'm still Godzilla cranky).
I pull all my paint cans out and start going through each color of the interior and exterior of the house, touching up all dings, partly courtesy a 5'7" Cyclops who has no depth perception when carrying boxes; and the slightly denuded cabinet corners, courtesy of Chompers.

In between paint brushes, accounting work, yard work and house cleaning keep the chores from being monotonous.
To crown the day, I complete an overdue project on the ox barn.  To preface, I finally finished the trim and final wall painting last week, with help from my official paint taste tester.

My other shadow had planted himself for hours, supervising me (ladders and I don't get along anymore).  The job went on past dark, necessitating him a blanket and me a head lantern.

The final wall was to be my canvas for my version of a protective talisman.

19th century Pennsylvania German farmers painted hex signs on their barns to ward off evil spirits.  
After the dozen or more gremlins haunting me this past year, I'll try anything.
I settle on my favorite quilt block pattern and get to work, measuring, taping and applying one color every two hours.

Until:

Between my hex sign and my guardian bovine, I think we have 2018 in the bag.

How can everything in the world not be right when this is your view from your kitchen?

And your house is clean, freshly painted and two pies fresh out of the oven?

My batteries are at 60% charge, today was the best medicine.  As soon as I snuggle up to this I should be back at 100% by Tuesday, 4:45 AM!

Sometimes the quilt pieces all come together and it's magic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bad, Bad Idea

More than a year ago, the fence repainting project began.  Now I know why the previous administration painted them once 20 years ago and hid the paint gun in the furthest recesses of the shop.

There are miles of fencing.  I mean, I knew that, but I didn't KNOW.

The paint gun is temperamental and vengeful.  

First degree burns from cleaning up with mineral spirits are a small price to pay for the ability to apply 40 gallons per day versus 8 by hand rolling.  

Dad helped out last year and this year I keep thinking I'm closer to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel-- or is that just the paint fumes talking?

I finally counted how many more fence sections to go after another day bonding with the paint gun.

350 sections remaining, or 175 rods, or 0.5 miles?!! It all sounds too far.  But, what else can you do when you've bitten off more than you can chew, but keep chewing. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Historic Uchee Alabama

I've heard the remarks over the past three years about the region surrounding this farm: desolate, bleak, isolated, godforsaken... Quite frankly, that's how I like it.  
But, 190 years ago, this area was a mini mecca of farming and religion.  White settlers in this part of Russell county, were sanctimoniously grabbing up lands from the indigenous Creeks, evicting the heathens to make room for God's people.

Call me a hypocrite, for as much as I loath religion, I am drawn to religious architecture.  Travelling with me across Europe is akin to a class trip with the annoying nerdy professor who wants to see every abbey ruin, church and cathedral... and won't shut up about the construction and history of it for hours.  

The complete history of the 1837 Uchee Baptist Church evaded me for years.  Why was it never finished?

Eureka!  I found a transcript from the 1850's that might explain why it never grew:

It tells of how two missed Sundays would get you ousted from the congregation.  

Explains why the remaining flock is a single lone bat.

My mother seemed too preoccupied with said bat and bird poop to listen to me gush about the construction or the prospects of someone living in this tiny church.

Terrible shame that a place built with such love be left to die alone.

I've already thought of how beautiful it would be to have a vegetable garden inside the foundation of the unfinished church.
To wax poetic: a window and door to the past.

Two miles away, the Methodists built their own church in 1859.

The hymnal books are recent enough to show the last sermons were in the 1980's.

Mom is still looking for bats.


In a day and age where so many people couldn't fight their way out of a wet cardboard box, it's my heathenish hope that these two places remain for years to come, as testaments to the fortitude of a handful of settlers on the frontier armed with only hand tools and hope.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Consummate Gardener

While my mother was here, she had the unenviable job of babysitting the Daxster. 

The safest place to let the tempest loose is in the fenced garden.

Initially, my mom marveled at her fellow gardener's zeal.

Later, she concluded he was the most destructive force any garden had ever witnessed.

Typhoon Dax.

So what if we won't have a Fall vegetable garden this year--- like I have time.

I'll not curb his excavating, hunting and pillaging until next Spring.  He's so passionate about his work, I can't take that from him. If you don't have passion in life, you have nothing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Howl'oween

TRICK....

OR TREAT?

If chocolate dirt pie doesn't look appealing enough, how about a pound of ground beef?

Let me start by telling you that working weekends is great because it allows you to take a day off during the week. And this, my friends, is when you can make discoveries. Such as two recently deceased Angus steers on the side of the road, not far from the farm. Yes, yes, I confirmed with the sheriff's department the time of the accident. Action plan hatched and accomplice grabbed:

Grand plan is to harvest as much as we can, but pesky highway department shows up to steal our groceries.

We work fast.

Just going for tenderloins and legs now.
Dax looks on in disbelief: "You've got to be sh#@*ing me!  This is where my food comes from?"

Flynn distracts the crane operator, winning me more butchering time.

Back home, the cuts are cleaned, membranes removed and iced before grinding and vacuum sealing.

Beef Wellington in the making.

I could tell from the fat that these steer hadn't been grain fed yet.  Grass fed, local beef... isn't this what foodies look for?

Road kill never tasted this good.

Playing the Game

My health insurance provider will soon rue the day I figured out how to play the game!  I've been a slow learner.
Now that I've paid my $8000 deductible for 2017, I'm ramming through every possible test and procedure before December 31.  A reevaluation with my cardiologist that I initially didn't think I could afford, BAM!
Ditto for the ultrasound mammogram, BOOM!
More cancer screening and blood work, why certainly... KABOOM!

The absolute cherry on the icing is the upcoming cataract surgery. Who knew direct trauma or even the concussion could cause cataracts!  Problem is I can't pinpoint the exact event that caused my cataract many years ago-- too numerous.
 But, just like a ripe peach prime for the picking, ye old cataract is now insurance worthy. BADABING BADABOOM!
Revenge is a dish best served with a tiny scalpel.
This is the toric lens that will replace my defunct carbon based one:

It's more expensive than regular replacement lenses, but with the insurance bearing the brunt of the cost, I'll smile when I fork over an extra $1300 for better vision.  And this procedure won't be of average cost either... did I ever luck out.
The vision in my right eye has been wildly fluctuating for a couple years.  I blamed it on fatigue or blood pressure.  Come to find out that I have a partially dislocated lens.  My zonular fibers, responsible for contracting the lens, on the bottom half have torn, leaving my lens to wobble. 

My new surgeon, originally from China, looked down at me in disgust and said he would try his best to work with my Fwankenstein eye.  After two RK surgeries and a corneal ablation, nothing about the shape of my eye is consistent.  So sue me.
The look on his face was priceless when he asked me to recount any head trauma for the past three years. 
Drum roll please.
Starting with the most recent:
1) Being head butted my a 3000 lb ox (purely an accident, don't be a hater).
2) Falling off horses (plural)
3) Falling off the barn roof (Super Grover maneuver)
4) Knocking myself out with a metal rod causing a fractured temporal bone (no better place to spend Christmas Eve than in the emergency room).
Pick one.
Another blow to the head, the lens would've floated back into the eye causing damage to the retina and everything else.  Providence looks out for the clumsy!  Major problem averted.  Plus, I researched this particular surgeon, he's highly qualified at hemming torn zonules (awesome Scrabble word).  
Somehow, my bad luck turns into good luck.
Life is the only game in town, play to win.