Sunday, July 25, 2021

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

  I love my barn sparrows.  They are the my volunteer pest control crew.

They arrive mid March and migrate back to South America in early August.  Two weeks ago, there were almost 40 of them Hoovering up insects.

                                              Video from March 18 when the first swallows returned

It's like having my own squadron of Stealth bombers.  And I protect them viciously.  Crows get one warning shot if they get too close to the barn and harass the fledglings. There are always a couple fledglings that don't grasp the concept of flight.  On Friday, one such ninny was sitting out in the sand where the horses were about to pass.  I scooped him up, climbed up a ladder and set him on a rafter in the barn.  By evening, no mama bird had fed him and he fell down.  

I brought a ladder outside and perched him on the roof where they were all flying around.  Still ignored after an hour, I realized it was Go Time.  I grabbed the office vacuum and sat by a fresh pile of manure and sucked up flies for 10 minutes.  Harvesting my flies.

I grabbed my patient, my flies and headed home after work.  

My food processor will never be the same again.

I suspect he's either a moron, or his collarbone is broken.  He only has 3 more weeks before they all leave, he needs to heal up fast. So, I'm toting him to work with me and feeding him every hour.

His appetite is good, at least we have that.  And man can he poop!

                                                          Video of Sprout, Day 2 at noon

I put him in a bucket nest on my screened porch at night because it's warmer outside that in my house.

This morning, I put him on my bathroom window sill as I readied for work.  He never offers to fly away, he simply flutters his wings and chats with me.  Online resources say that the wing can be splinted, if confirmed broken, but swallows are so tiny, I can't imagine doing it to something that only weighs as much as 8 pennies (Google it, no joke).

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Started Off Strong

 To make up for Wednesday, on Thursday, I declared I was going to have some fun.

Left Luke and Vannah to fed the horses and I stayed out late bush hogging.

Trails are soupy mud, slid all the way down the hill like on a slalom slope

Glorious detente, my kind of day.

Pippin held the fort in my absence. 


My crew and I get home, put supper on and then the rains begin.

I hadn't been home 20 minutes when the approaching lightning sent me back to the barn to bring the horses in.

Meanwhile, Vannah had been in the bottoms beaver hunting with the farm truck.  She got stuck, but had the sense to stop trying to get un-stuck because the swamp was about to claim them.  We shall address that with the tractor in the morrow!

Too much lightning for any creature to be outside.

 Oddly, it didn't look so ominous on the radar. Instead of dissipating, the storm intensified.  The horses tried to be patient.

Most folks don't have a big sturdy barn for their horses and they make do with the best that they have.

I'd be a sorry excuse for a human being if I didn't bring them in from harm.  I had a friend lose her 2 horses one night to a lightning strike, to say it profoundly affected me is to put it mildly.  

A momentary break in the rain allows me to drive around checking houses.  Murphy's Law would apply on a night like tonight....

The Farmhouse flooded.  Not like furniture floating around, but enough all along one side of the house to go through at least 25 towels.  

I crawl home shy of midnight and resume making supper for myself and the dogs.  

Not realizing the storms would be so intense, I had left the dogs at home... Peter is terrified of storms...He shat himself on my clean bed.  Diarrhea went through all the way to the (thank God) waterproof mattress pad. 

With 3 loads of laundry to go before I can go to bed, I guess I can catch up on some homework.  Always a silver lining.  Thanks , Peter.  

Poor little mite.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


 Two weeks ago, my computer freezes up during a proctored exam.  The next day it crashes, then my cell phone follows suit.  The computer tech figures it's a virus and cleans my computer and updates my anti-virus.

I get a new phone since the original is too flawed to rescue.,. 

A week later, the new phone goes missing on Friday afternoon. I trace its timeline and it clearly shows that it left the property at 4:30 and ended up 30 miles away.   

Later, Google maps narrows down were it is to an exact spot on a railroad track.  I take off looking for it.  

No luck.  Meanwhile, I'd filed a police report and combed the farm looking for the phone.  
Saturday night, someone hacks into my bank account and sets themselves up as admin.  I've had the most wicked headache for 4 days now.  Sunday was spent trying to nail every asset and account down.  Exhausting.  To be doubly safe, I froze all my accounts on Monday morning.  Overkill?  I think not.  The bank called Wed morning to say someone is still trying to access my account.  So, this is more than a computer virus.  This is WAR.  One of my dearest friends tried to spur me on, he calls me his "guerrera", Spanish for warrior.  Problem is:  I'm done.  Overworked, sleep deprived, discouraged, defeated.
Wednesday morning, the phone is found on the property, where I had thought I had looked.  I'm assuming I've been so frazzled, or concussed,

 that a pink elephant could've been sitting there and I wouldn't have seen it. I have no words (well, I do, but they'd make a sailor blush).
So, while I was initially concerned about a stolen phone, I SHOULD'VE been focusing on the hackers that are trying to pry my hard earned money out of my accounts for probably 2 weeks now.  
I'm not winning at anything anymore.  Every problem I resolve, two more knock me down.  I'm as fed up as I've ever been.  School isn't going well.  Every time I'm supposed to be studying, Murphy's Law messes with me.  I can't remember the last time I had a decent night's sleep.  
Everything looks so bleak right now.
Tuesday, I went to get the pin pulled from my surgery finger.  I drove to Columbus with a 5' rat snake hiding in the cab of the truck.  He'd escaped from the pillowcase I had put him in the night before, thinking I would relocate him on the way to town.  (Sorry no pics, had no phone).  He eventually poked his head out from under the seat while I was coming back from town.  We argued a little bit, but he disembarked-- finally.

Not so good news about the finger: infection has set in the bones, surgeon casually mentions that my end finger bone is lysed = eaten up by bacteria= missing.  Seriously?!?
My pinkie finger throbs all the time now, the end of it wiggles like a worm because there isn't a bone in there anymore and it's back to poking out in the wrong direction.

I had initially told them, 6 months ago, to whack the end of it off, it seemed too complicated to do surgery to save a shattered pinkie.  Instead, I'm going to be on antibiotics for 6 weeks and they'll probably have to whack it anyway to keep the infection from spreading.  I wonder if I can get a handicap parking placard since I'll be an amputee!  I'm trying to make jokes, otherwise, I may just load up my camping gear, never to be seen again.
To salvage my day off today, I left the barn at 10 AM to take my dogs for what was to be a pleasurable bike ride around the farm.  I'm beebopping through puddles and mud, it's all spraying up on my legs and my face.  But wait, that's not mud, it's fresh cow paddies. All over the place!

The storms from the night before knocked trees down on the neighboring rancher's fences.  Tracks show over a dozen cows loose on the property.  Can I call the rancher?  Nooo, my cloud was also hacked and I've lost most of my contacts.  I have to call a number I remember to have them call someone else to finally call the rancher.  Meanwhile, I'm sitting on my bicycle, watching cows run around the lake, through the trees,  like little fat wood fairies. I get word from Luke and Vannah that they have some on their side around the tennis court.  "Push them away, keep them from damaging the lawns".  Too late.

That's it.  I quit.  
The rancher calls me back, he's 4 hours away.  Gully washer of a rain storm pops up, we all run/bike back for cover.  

The rain we rode through mostly washed off all the cow poop the dogs had rolled in, mostly.  The rain did nothing for Suki though.

Little darling had rolled in a dead fish while waiting for me to get off the phone on the other side of the lake.  Like I felt like giving 3 dogs a bath at this point.  
I might actually get to crack a book today.

Or not.  A month ago, I alerted the power company that we were all experiencing brown outs in our area.  They monitored my meter for a couple weeks and called today to tell me, thanks to my observations, they're replacing and upgrading equipment at our substation.  Fantastic, right?  Not really.  Be prepared for blackouts while they swap transformers in about a week....  You mean when I start to write my final exams?  You mean while I have 2 sick horses in their air conditioned stalls during the day.  That's frigging lovely.  Repairs should take 3 weeks.  Are you @%&-ing me??  
I'm sitting at my desk writing this blog post, with cow poop still all over me from this morning, because I haven't had time to shower, or eat today. Between trying to coordinate with the rancher about his cows, that Vannah and Luke are now trying to lure back to their own property, and being on the phone with Verizon for over two hours.

Verizon wants one of the phones back.  They'd prefer the newest one, but they can't figure out why they can't reactivate the old one. BECAUSE I'VE BEEN HACKED, THAT'S WHY!!! I'm on a conference call with 4 techs now, they won't listen to me, eventually they'll figure it out.  While I'm on hold, I type to vent, and I look at the cow poop on my legs and wonder if I even care anymore. 

Nope.  Don't care. 
I get this picture from Luke:

He says the cows have them blocked in.  Vannah packs a .45... this is my suggestion
Stick a fork in me, I'm done. Overdone, carbonized, crispy.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Master of Disaster

 Friday was its normally hectic day.  Things were going great, the afternoon was winding down and I was trying to cram in a few more chores with Vannah and Luke's help before losing them for the weekend. 

Vannah had toiled in the hot tractor shed putting a nice edge on 6 of my bush hog blades, and we were determined to get them back on TODAY.  I was under the deck of the bush hog holding the heavy blade in place while she cranked above me with giant ratchet.  I lost my grip on the blade and it thwacked me in the noggin.

Vannah had the best quote: "Let's ask Jamie how sharp the blades are". We cleaned it up, we argued a bit.  It's about 1-1/2 inch long gash, she said I needed stitches; I said we needed to put the blades back on.  I won.  

Contractors, guests and staff left, I had a couple more hours of work to do... if I could just find my phone.  I retraced all my steps of the day.  I gave up and went back to work.

By around 8, it occurred to me I should use the Find My droid app to locate the damn thing.  Turns out it was 30 miles away off a busy highway.  I never left the farm today, but somehow, my phone sure did.  An hour later, it's deactivated, I've filed a claim and a new one is one the way.

Or is it?  Replacement phone is on backorder.  Seriously ?!? 

 Whatever.  My noggin is throbbing, I've packed the crack in my skull with Neosporin, I'm going to bed.  

Thursday, July 8, 2021

I said "Hay Bartender"

 They say people don't come together as a community anymore.  Well, they haven't been to our road.  While coming back home from a 4th of July vacation, our neighbors swung through Tennessee, picked up a UHaul and 220 bales of  the best testing timothy hay.

Heather's girls supervising Mr. Jones bringing pallets of hay for Kyle to stack by hand in the cargo box.

They drove through some intense storms the last 2 hours of a 9 hour drive from Northern Tennessee.  I finally heard the deep throttle of a souped up diesel and the low growl of a unhappy Uhaul shortly before midnight.  My little adopted family was coming around the sharp bend a mile up the road on the hardtop.  I lit up my front porch and did jumping jacks in the rain to herald them home!

In the morning, Heather drove the Uhaul over and we began unloading its precious cargo.

                                                                        (Youtube video)

Luke unloaded the van, Heather and Vannah ferried the bales to hay elevator.  Yours truly, with one good hand and the index finger of the hand with the pin protruding from her pinkie, stacked in the loft. 

We managed to finish before the humidity had the temperature feeling like 95'F.    Nevertheless all absolutely drenched in sweat.

Luke fell asleep on the couch on his lunchbreak.  

Recharging his batteries before a busy afternoon.  

If I haven't mentioned it before: Farm Team rules!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021


 About a week ago, I had to evict another squatter from my chicken coop.

Negotiations took 30 minutes.  He wasn't coming willingly.

The more I held onto his body, the tighter he clung tp the mesh.

Not wanting to damage his scales, I finally opted to cut some of my chicken wire to pull him out. 

The last snake one was relocated a mile away and I swear he came back.  I read up on snake relocation research and was saddened to learn that they don't stay in the area you relocate them in.  What they do is take off in a straight line to try to find their way back to their territory.  I thought of bringing him to my new place, there's 1000's of acres of woods behind it, but there's a busy road a few hundred yards away and a big hay field across the road where he might get chopped up.  Nope, Slick was driven 5 miles away to a Nature Preserve up the road.

Biggest darn rat snake I've ever seen, over 6 feet long, I guess organic eggs are good for you!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Worth of Things

 Studying towards an accounting degree has me thinking about money all the damn time.  The problem is that I'm not content with accounting value, which is the strict dollar amount that can be put on something.  I find myself in the enemy camp most of the time, where I see economic value, which is an imprecise dollar amount based on intrinsic value.  I'm thinking that when I finish with this degree in December that I ought to go back for a degree in Economics so I can have epic arguments with myself!

For example, this Summer I squeezed over $6000 out of my savings account for 3 university classes (2 at Auburn University and 1 at CSU).  That's the accounting value.  But, let's look at the economic value, shall we?  7 days a week, I hit the books by 9 PM, not finishing before 1 AM, usually later, days off are spent 100% studying.  If you count my laborious hours of study, if I'd been working a second job, that's over $15,000 labor.  Added to the 6k, we're up to 21k per semester.  

Let's not forget the cost of all the missed opportunities.  

As I've stated before, I trimmed the fat in 2020;  I reduced my life to only 3 priorities: #1 work (over 60 hrs per week), #2 dogs (we live and work together, but I insist they get 2 hours undivided attention every day), #3 school (40 hours)... now you see why I only get 4 hours sleep per night.

 It's been an experiment to see what would happen if I pushed single-mindedly towards an objective. Scary how well it works.  But, this draconian lifestyle isn't sustainable.  

So, when I have a chance to benefit financially from my education, I'm pumped.  Back in April, a collection agency started calling me about a 3 year old medical bill.  I needed to fork over $1200 in 30 days, or they would foul up my credit.  I fractured my wrist three years ago, but I have insurance and I pay my overages, so I had no idea what they were barking about.  I'm studying Business Law this semester.  Armed with a textbook and menopausal spite, I unleashed my wrath on them via social media, Better Business Bureau complaints and a well worded certified letter to their office.   I shall frame the letter of apology from the lawyer stating that they are dropping their claim.  I'd say this Business Law class is already on it's way to paying for itself.  

My Finance class is already being used:  I bought an investment property this month.  

One mile away, little bit of fixing up and new appliances, she'll be my little nest egg to pay for grad school.  That's the Accountant talking.  The Economist in me sees the value of being able to offer my family a place to stay in the Winter so they can come spent protracted amounts of time close to me, yet not having to put up with a household of 6 dogs!

The Accountant in me will be disappointed to learn that I've messed up my chances of sashaying into grad school in January.  To prove my mettle to the Admissions board at Auburn, I elected to take a graduate level Accounting Analysis class this semester. WHAT WAS I THINKING???  I'll be lucky to earn a C by August.  90% of the class are already practicing CPAs.  I've never worked a day in an accounting firm, nor am I gifted towards technology. For someone who just learned to copy and paste two years ago, it's a stretch to expect me to write mile long Excel equations; and, gulp, the past two weeks, I've been manipulating databases and pooping out tons of queries and reports.  The average accounting firm doesn't yet use the powerful combination of Excel, Access 2019 and Tableau. I feel like I've been handed the keys to a Lamborghini, but I can't get it out of 2nd gear.  I'm deeply disappointed that I'm not performing at my expected A+ level, but I do love the class.  The professor is hardcore.  She is formidable, fiercely intelligent, intimidating.  In spite of the fact that this is the class that will sink me, she'll be going down in my history as one of my favorite professors.  She provides us with 3 video lectures per week and we must follow along with a second computer to work the examples. Then she dumps on us hours of homework  and critical thinking projects.  There have been many 3AM study sessions where I break down, tears streaming down my face, when my equations won't work. 

 A 1hr20 min lecture takes me a minimum of 4 hours to complete with all the rewinding and pausing I must do to keep up.  In one video, she apologized for coming to class with a mental fog from not feeling well after having received her covid booster.  I WRONGLY thought this would her slow her down to human speed.  Did I mention this young professor is from China?  My friends, if this is the caliber of talent coming out of China now, we'd all better step up our game or eat their dust.  I thought I was regimented, disciplined, organized and had a modicum of intelligence... they take it to the next level.

Before the fiasco of this Summer Analytics class, grad school was asking me to apply early, they were courting me! Now I'm afraid I'll have to retake this class in January 2022, if I want to enter grad school Fall of 2022. I've boohooed about it enough, I'm moving on to see the Economic value of potentially  having a life again in 2022.  I've missed reading for leisure, working in my garden, going to museums, I haven't watched a movie in almost 2 years, I haven't touched a bolt on my project RamCharger or either camper.

Yeah, I think I'll be ready to SPEND some time on these again!!!