11/12/14

Take THAT, Polar Vortex!

For the first time in many, many, many years (I say that because I'm not sure how many years) we are ready for winter BEFORE it hits!!

The harvest is in and dehydrated (we didn't plant much this year; too much other work to maintain a garden), the wood box is full, the plants are in the basement, and the animals are taken care of.

In all years past, we've ended up closing in the barn in sleet, snow, rain, cold and/or dark.  Not this year.

Yesterday was a balmy 70+ degrees, sunny and clear. We spent the day finishing closing in the chicken coop (including putting the lumber part of the roof in place--the actual tin has to wait for next year. Tarp for this year.) They should make it through the winter warm and dry. We also closed in the last of the barn, so all the animals down there should be cozy, too.


All I have left to do is stock up more hay (which has to wait for next paycheck) and get some sort of parking area graveled so the Durango doesn't go sliding sideways down the hill at the first snow.  And neither of those is really urgent or weather-dependent. We have some hay now and I can always park the Durango at the top of the hill like I have for the last 8 years.

Today is cold (high of 40 degrees), grey, and drizzly. It's supposed to freeze for the next week with snow forecast on Monday. Bring it on, Polar Vortex! We're ready for you!!

10/25/14

Wood, Glorious Wood

For the first time ever, we are heading into winter with a full wood shed!!!

The first building we built on the farm here, actually my first attempt at building anything EVER, was the wood shed (I don't count the barn, because it was assembled by the company I bought it from and I just screwed boards to the metal support poles to make the stalls.) I made lots LOTS of mistakes building it, but hey, that's what first buildings are for, right?! It was officially finished last year...which means that it finally got its tin roof instead of a tar-paper-over-plywood roof. Anyway, it is roughly 16 x 8, with the dog boxes and the kindling storage box tucked into one side. The roof is about 5 feet high on one end, and about 8 feet high at the other, due to the slope of our "level" ground. It holds give-or-take 5 or 6 cords of wood. And it has never been full of wood before.

Yeah, previous winters we bought wood. One year we even managed to fill one whole side of the wood shed. (That took three dump truck loads at $160 a pop. Wood here is expensive. "Why," you ask? Well, let me tell you...almost every home out here has some sort of wood/coal heater. And in many cases, that wood/coal heater is the only heat in the house. And there are quite a few people on public assistance (retired/handicapped/unemployed). Which is a perfect storm for expensive wood. The state help agencies provide wood/coal for the people on assistance out here, which is a very good thing. The bad thing is that the price they pay for wood/coal ends up pricing the working-and-just-getting-by people out of the market. A pickup bed full of wood can run as high as $80 out here. I feel very fortunate to have found our wood guy...and even he is raising his prices next year to $175/load. But we don't have much of a choice; the one promise Obama's actually kept was to "necessarily raise our electricity rates" and propane is as expensive as wood. Okay, rant over.)

But I have to say, it is a good feeling to walk into the dining room, glance out the back window, and see a wood shed full of wood looking back at me. We've never been able to figure out exactly how much wood is needed to heat the house for one entire winter before. We've always run out February-ish, and had to resort to heating the house with a combination of propane heaters, electric heaters, and whatever wood we could scrounge. I am convinced that this year that won't happen. This year we will have wood until spring! We will be warm all winter! This year will be AWESOME!!

Just don't ask about how much hay we have stored for winter...

9/21/14

Just a Quick "Hi!"

I've been writing lots...just not here. I've been working on my novel and finally, finally, finally hit the half-way mark!!!!! 40,000 words!!!!! YAY!!!!!

Good thing is that you're not missing much. We haven't been doing much around the farm. Writing and other pursuits have taken over our lives. But never fear: Once I finish my rough draft, I have all sorts of plans I'll be posting about.

I'll pop in randomly, just so's you knows I ain't dead. Until then, enjoy Fall/Hallowe'en/Thanksgiving/Christmas!

7/16/14

Depressed

Remember a few months ago, when I finally figured out that the blisters/rash on my hands were Dyshidrotic Eczema?

This week, Drudge linked a story about a kid who has developed Dyshidrotic Eczema from his iPad. From a nickel allergy. And the comments mentioned nickel being found in foods, as well as computers, jewelry, cell phones, etc., etc. I read the article and started thinking about allergies: Nickel vs. Round-up vs. gluten.  (Yeah, yeah, I saw that smirk. Okay, how about if I amend that to "...did my blond best to think about..." Better?) I wish I knew a good Doctor who didn't believe in "take-this-pill-to-treat-the-symptoms" medicine and would actually work with me to eliminate the CAUSES...instead of me having to do the self-guinea-pig approach. But anyway...

I've been having no end of trouble with my hands lately, even after eliminating Round-up-contaminated foods. I have blisters forming under the skin (you can see them. They're like little white polka-dots), blisters at the surface (painfully itchy. I mean, PAINFULLY ITCHY), and pin-dot scabs that form on the blisters after they pop but before they peel...all together at the same time.  It mainly shows up on my right (dominant) hand, with random, occasional single blisters on my left hand. And while they've gotten much less severe since I changed my diet, they're still there.

I got on my (possibly nickel-containing) computer and Googled "list of foods containing nickel." And copied down the list with my (possibly nickel containing metal trimmed) ink pen. And got really, truly and completely depressed.

I can put my cell phone in a case. I can get rid of the cordless house phones and use plastic-cased wall phones. I can get rid of my favorite ink pens. If I have to, I can wear gloves, like this is the 50's or something. (I'll tell everyone I'm trying to be lady-like...nah, no one who knows me would ever believe me. How about I'm getting in touch with my inner Michael Jackson?  Ewww.)

But the list of nickel-containing foods is just about everything left that I can eat:

Grains

Avoid

Whole wheat bread, multi grain breads, multi grain cereals, wheat bran, wheat germ, whole wheat pasta, oats, oatmeal, buckwheat, seeds, rye, millet
Vegetables
Avoid
Beans, lentils, peas, soy products (tofu, soy sauce, soy beans) sprouts, brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, canned vegetables, red kidney beans, chickpeas, cabbage, corn, mushrooms, onions, carrots
Fruits
Avoid
Canned fruit cocktail, pears, bananas, canned fruits, tomatoes, raisins, rhubarb, dried fruit
Meats
Avoid
Shellfish, herring, mackerel, tuna, processed meats with fillers or coatings, canned meats and fish
Beverages
Avoid
Tea, chocolate milk, beer, red wine

OTHER SOURCES OF DIETARY NICKEL TO AVOID
Chocolate and cocoa powder (especially dark chocolate)
All nuts (walnuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, soy nuts)
All seeds (sunflower seeds, linseed)
Licorice
Baking powder
Gelatin
Marzipan
Margarine
Commercial salad dressings
Vitamins containing nickel
Canned foods in general
Stainless-steel cooking vessels used for cooking acidic foods
The first quart of tap water drawn from any faucet in the morning. 

WAYS TO PREVENT YOUR BODY FROM ABSORBING THE NICKEL YOU EAT
Take a vitamin C supplement with each meal.
Eat a high iron diet

Those last suggestions are the only good news of the morning. I'm going to start taking vitamin C with every meal and see if it makes a difference. Can't hurt. Might help. And it is much better than trying to eliminate even more from my diet.

What is the use of having a farm if you can't eat anything you grow???

7/4/14

Happy Independence Day!!!

Here's hoping everyone has a wonderful Fourth!

Sam's coming to visit today. We're planning a big lunch, an afternoon haying, then a bonfire (with s'mores and fireworks.)

Yesterday, we made a last-minute run to ChinaMart (I had run out of ketchup, green onions, and hot dog buns...and I needed balloons for the ginger ale I'm attempting to make.) On the way home, a little brown and black dog (looks like a Cairn terrier mix) walked out in front of the Durango.  She was obviously abandoned and starving.

It took all of us (including Arabella offering a slice of pizza) to coax her to come to us.  She smelled like week-old roadkill, she was coated with ticks, and her skin barely covered her bones. She also is pregnant.

We brought her home, washed her up, de-ticked her, and bedded her down for the night in a spare kennel. Monday, we'll take her to the vet, check her for a chip, and start putting up the obligatory "Found Dog" notices. Based on past experience, I think we have a new dog.