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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter at Dutch Hex Sign and Fussing Duck Farm

After blizzard, before rain


The snow is piling up and without a tractor with good grip/functional chains or any other snow-moving machinery, we have opted to park the old farm truck, Artie, out by the road (do you see him there?). We walk/snow shoe out and back in, pulling goods on sleds or in "body bags" (large, extra heavy contractor type trash bags) or wrapped in a tarp. We had made a bit more path down the drive than in this photo, though even after a bit of melt, there was enough snow blowing to pretty much obliterat the trail.

I use snow shoes, and do not have to stick to the trail, though I will if it helps to tow my load. Tractor Guy, on the other hand, weighing in at over 300 lbs, has not yet gotten snow shoes. Most of the large (and of course expensive!) ones top out with a max weight of 250 lbs., so he "bulldozes" through. Not fun. And even less fun now that our weather has turned the tables from hovering in the minus-BRRR degrees to a predicted high of 50F with precipitation falling as rain.

Yes, there is melt, but come Saturday the temperature will drop again. After nearly 2" of rain has fallen (if the weather guessers are even close) it will freeze and stay frozen for a while. 

We often have a January thaw, mind you, but usually not this early and usually not with actual rain adding to the mess. And mess it was, yesterday, when I braved it for a trip to town. Plans were to meet up with a group of fiber folks for a bit, but there was no way I was going to pull my spinning wheel, bagged or not, down to the truck.  I took my drop spindle and ended up having a lovely time, even running some errands and getting home before dark. There was no need to use the snow shoes, as the rain and melt had condensed the snow sufficiently to walk on it, and I only sank in a bit. The driveway is not yet clear of course, so I backed in near the road. When I left the truck, at least one wheel was on actual gravel. With freezing rain and ice predicted for today and an early away mission on Saturday, I am hoping for the best.

The thaw did allow me to dump, clean and refill the water buckets for the herd and the dog, though the fowl water bowls were still too well encased in ice and compacted snow to get loose. Maybe today? In any case, the buckets for the four footed crowd are hanging a little higher on the fence which should make such projects easier as winter progresses. If I can't get the birds' bowls loose, I will at least remember to take rags along and a scoop to remove dirty water, as I did earlier in the winter.  And I see the "Christmas tree" appearing through the melt. It is actually the top of a windfall that I dragged home initially for the making of wreaths; our holiday tree is always one we can plant come spring.  If I can extract the windfall from the snow and ice, hopefully will give the goats something to distract them from trying to eat the sheep. I have a sheep blanket on order. 

Inside, I am thankful to be able to report that -- thus far and despite the massively deep and protracted sub-zero temperatures and even lower wind chills -- our pipes have stayed thawed and water running! Yes, we have had constant drips running during the coldest days, so I am not looking forward to the next couple of electric bills. The heat lamp under the house and two bulbs under the bathroom sinks have also been running 24/7. The water heater and well pump also got in on the action (drips often include both hot and cold),  but it beats hauling water up from a neighbor's place on the sled.

Frodo and Sam atop the indoor laundry
drying rack.
Life goes on, and this week will bring the focus around to the garden again. I need to inventory seeds and put in some small orders for things from which I do not save seed. Onions and leeks are at the top of the list, as they will be planted early next month, kittens willing or not! I fear that this seed starting season will be a struggle, to keep the plants safe from the marauding "itty bitty destruction committee," Frodo and Sam.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Follow the Flow and See Where You Go!

Amazing what gets done that is not "on the list" when one just follows the flow. 

I knew the fridge had some science projects that needed to be relocated, and that it also had the last bit of the 3# piece of beef that had been a pot roast and then donated a good bit of leftover meat, as well as the vegs and gravy to the stew (which will be a "thrice blessed" supper this evening) which I was planing to put into a beef/veg soup starting today. In order to clean out the fridge, though, I wanted/needed to clean off the chopping block to be able to easily stash contents as I sorted.

When I went to move things off said surface, the first thing I found was my seldom-used bottle of clear nail polish. Typically, this gets hunted down when I have a run in my silk long johns but a few days ago I had needed a good dollop of the stuff to cover a small slit that remained in a finger nail after I had clipped as close as I was willing to clip. The slit was tiny, but big enough to catch a hair, or a thread and I did not want to risk pulling and making it run far enough to hurt. It took hot water and an application of Great Strength and Awkwardness to get the thing open and I guess that after treating the nail, I set it there with the intention of taking it to the back bathroom when I went that way.

It had other ideas, however, and had laid on its side. The gunked up and terribly insecure threads on the lid had NOT kept the stuff inside and when I picked up the bottle I discovered a pool of polish -- most still semi-liquid -- on the chopping block. Damn!

Well, I keep acetone around for all sorts of uses -- and removing fingernail polish was one of its primary uses back in the day, so I go hunting under the sink in the chemical stash to find my can of the stuff. After all, letting it dry would make matters so much worse! After looking where it was supposed to be (and by that wording you know my search was unsuccessful at that point) I kept looking in the only practical way: I emptied all the stuff out from under the sink.

Now, it's been far too long since I did that, so it was not a quick search and replace. My rag-bag had long ago been buried under loose rags, as had the secondary paper bag of pieces of spent clothing. I stuffed the bags and I extracted rag after rag, and multiple cleaning products as well. There were the two partial cans of oven cleaner (joined by an almost-empty third one), two boxes of granular Spic-n-Span, (both open, of course), two containers, as well, of the organic-approved bug spray I use only in extreme emergencies and lots of other stuff... including (count 'em!) 5 scrub brushes (not counting the two we have been using that are currently deployed in the bathrooms), etc. etc. 


But no acetone. 

After getting it all back in, I grabbed a rag and a bit of paint thinner to see what it would do. It helped some, but I still need the acetone, which is now on the perennial list. 

And I hadn't GOT to the real work of either cleaning off the chopping block or cleaning out the fridge. LOL

The block got a lick and a promise, making enough space to do the 'fridge. The dog got some old lunch meat, the chicken bucket got some other remains and, yes, eventually I DID find and cut up the beef for the soup.

Soup is now cooking, filled almost entirely -- at this point -- with dried vegetables: onion, celery leaves, tomato, carrots, peas, zucchini and kale. It is a tomato-based soup, so it also has a quart of my home canned tomatoes and half a pint of tomato sauce. Once it gets cooked sufficiently to soften the dried stuff, I will throw in a handful of green bean pieces and some cooked and canned dry beans. It will probably be "too rich" (meaning having too many flavors) by Tractor Guy's reckoning, but this one's for me!