Sunday, December 07, 2008

Another chicken post

All right, I get the point, I haven't posted in a while. And since the person who poked me and told me to post again is the same person who asked me forever ago for my advice about chickens, I'll just take care of both responsibilities at the same time (kill two birds with one stone? Only if they're guinea fowl).

Ok, so, you asked about breeds. I have Rhode Island Reds, and I love them. They're friendly and gentle, they're good egg layers, and they're a heavy breed so they do well in the winter. Perhaps you would want a light breed like a leghorn, since where you live it's significantly warmer, and since (I'm guessing) you won't be slaughtering these birds? Heavy breeds are good if you plan to use them for meat birds as well as layers, but I somehow doubt that you're planning to have them as meat birds. McMurray Hatchery has lots of info on the different breeds, and the reviews are helpful for finding out what breeds really are the gentlest, and won't attack your kid when he toddles out into the yard.

In the spring, I'm planning to get some Buff Orpingtons, Silver Laced Wyandottes, and Brahmas. I also really really want some crested birds, because OH MY GOSH they're so funny, but I'm afraid for their chances of survival, given that the poofs on top of their heads obscure so much of their vision.

I had a couple of bantams this spring (who died, and broke my heart), and I loved loved loved loved loved them. Since you're in the city and don't have a whole lot of chicken predators around, I'd really recommend them. You might be able to have more per your square footage since they're smaller - you should find out if your county has separate rules for bantam birds.

About the coop. Mine is a big elaborate contraption that came with the house. It can probably house about a hundred birds. I'm only using it to house about 35 birds right now, and most of my guineas sleep outside anyway. (Side note: guineas are LOUD and OBNOXIOUS and STUPID, and not an acceptable substitute for chickens. Not that you were planning on getting any anyway.) You said you were thinking of getting what, two hens? I'd say, just build a little shed, basically like a little doghouse on stilts, with nesting boxes and roosting bars. Or, if you're following the Garden Girl's plan for movable chickens, her design seems pretty good. Keep in mind that chickens (like most livestock) can handle cold, but not drafts or dampness. Make sure you have a way to keep the winter wind from getting them, and that their bedding is dry. And most importantly, make sure your coop will keep predators out! Racoons and possums will still get to your chickens in the city, even if bigger animals like coyotes won't.

About feeders: I have a lot of birds, so I have big hanging feeders and waterers, and my birds probably go through a bag of layer feed and a bag of scratch feed in a week and a half. My neighbor recently upgrated from two birds to all of five, and she has a little bowl with a jug of water sitting next to it which she refills whenever it's dry, and she keeps grain in a bucket (with a lid, of course) in the coop and drops it on the ground to feed them, about a handful per bird. I think your setup will probably be closer to hers than mine. Don't believe the feed store or the websites when they tell you you need expensive feeding and watering equipment - you don't. Chickens are smart enough to drink out of a bowl. Baby chicks are not smart enough not to fall into the bowl and drown, so you'll need a quart-sized chick waterer, which should cost you all of two dollars at the feed store. If you do want to use a regular waterer, the gallon sizes are still really not all that expensive. I've seen wall-mounted rabbit waterers for chickens advertised, but I still don't understand the point. Sure, they keep the water clean, but you have to go out there every day to fill up their water, so why not just rinse out the bowl then and keep it clean for much cheaper? And as far as feeders go, chickens prefer to scratch on the ground anyway, so if you have few enough to make it practical to just put the feed on the ground, why buy a feeder? Just make sure to feed them on bare dirt (which they will create in abundance around their coop - chicken manure is so nitrogenous that nothing grows immediately around a chicken coop) and not in their hay or pine shavings or whatever you're using for bedding, or else you'll just end up with bedding lined on the bottom with chicken grain, and hungry chickens.

One last point: Rhode Island Reds are super super active. You may or may not want active birds - I love them, but this year they did eat everything my garden produced except the corn (which they couldn't reach) and the cucumber (which they just didn't like). They ate an entire PUMPKIN, and picked at the other one so that I had to harvest it when it was still green, just to save some of it. And they didn't wait for my tomatoes to ripen - they liked the green ones just fine. My friend David babysat them when I went down to Dallas for graduation - they were still chicks - and kept them in his brooder, where he was putting his meat birds that had leg problems: he said they scratched in the bedding and buried the feeder, the waterer, the thermometer, and several of his lame Cornish Cross birds. Apparently, his poor sad birds' heads were sticking out of the bedding, and he had to dig them out and rescue them. The positive side to having active birds is that they're always doing something funny. My roosters like to stand on the porch rail and survey all their territory, and flap their wings and crow. They're such big strong men.

In other news, I danced on my birthday till my feet bled (I turned 21 again).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Goodbye to Ladies Against Feminism

Ladies Against Feminism, I'm disappointed in you. So disappointed. Among all the Sarah-Palin-should-stay-at-home-and-raise-her-kids posts you've posted, has anybody thought to talk about how a Palin-McCain administration would, you know, be GOOD for the unborn babies, and maybe GOOD for other moms who want to stay at home by making that decision more financially viable, and maybe GOOD for families who want to decide where to send their own kids to school?

That is, McCain is pro-life and pro-cutting taxes and pro-school vouchers, but Sarah Palin is what he needs to get elected. You'd think you'd be happy that she's there getting everybody energized.

And much more importantly, what about that Christian idea of throwing the first stone? What, the idea is that we're NOT supposed to throw the first stone? You ladies could have fooled me. As far as I can tell, Sarah Palin is not beating her kids or turning them into slaves or selling her daughters off as young brides to 40 year old polygamist fellows. These are the sorts of things a Christian expects to see condemned, but a loving mom who tries to raise her family well and balances a job too, and maybe feels called by God to serve her country? Condemn the trend of mothers who abandon their families to their careers, sure, and there definitely are mothers who abandon their children to their career, but please don't presume that you can judge the individual circumstances of someone if they're not being immoral but just doing something you wouldn't do yourself. My cousin, for instance, delivered both her babies in the hospital (by her own choice, not necessity), bottle feeds, plastic diapers, feeds Gerber baby food, and works while her aunt watches the kids, which are all things I would not do with my children, but her children are so well behaved and obviously so well loved, groomed and polite and smiling all the time, that I have to say that even though she makes all the decisions I wouldn't, she is an EXCELLENT mother. Just, you know, to drive the point home that you might know everything about raising families, but you still probably don't.

I'm sad, I really am, to stop reading LAF. I've enjoyed the articles on homemaking and the attitude that one finds contentment and joy in living with love the life one is given, and not in trampling everything underfoot to make one's dreams come true. And a whacked-out article once in a while, I could handle that. Even when the first anti-Palin articles started coming out, I thought, "well, I don't agree, but it's a decent discussion, and whatever." But as more articles come out, they become more and more strident, and there have been no articles even suggesting that she could be doing God's will, or that God's will could possibly ever be different from what these writers expect. I don't know if she IS doing God's will, but the refusal to believe that she could be is worrisome to me. As more articles come out on the subject, I see gigantic pride. I see commentators saying "I'm doing it right, and I know she's doing it wrong," because she's not doing exactly what they want every woman to do. And that is why I will not read the site anymore - because instead of love, they're spreading condemnation and judgment.

My dear friend Sarah made an excellent point in the comments on the post below, which merits repeating: "I don't believe that women belong on the battlefield, and yet I'm sure that God knew exactly what He was about with St. Joan of Arc."

So here's to our own Joan of Arc. (I hope I'm not being sacrilegious by suggesting that.)

And finally, an opinion on Sarah Palin's motherhood from Faith and Family, which will replace Ladies Against Feminism in my sidebar.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I guess I don't really hate political posts as much as I thought.

So who else is excited about Sarah Palin? I AM! My inbox today contained a gem, a whole list of Sarah Palin jokes, Chuck Norris style. Already, guys? I'm impressed.

And because they made me laugh, I'm sharing them here.

Did you know that…

Sarah Palin does not have 5 kids, she actually has 7. Their names are Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig, Chuck Norris, and Jack Bauer.

The Northern Lights are really just the reflection from Sarah Palin's eyes.

The Russians sold Alaska to America because Sarah Palin would not submit to autocracy.

The Arctic Circle runs through Alaska so the Sun can have some relief from Sarah Palin's bright glare.

Sarah Palin is allowed first dibs on Alaskan wolfpack kills.

Sarah Palin is so pro-life that she personally hog-tied two reps from Planned Parenthood who came knocking at her door.

It's not raining in DC. Those are God's tears of joy that McCain picked Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin's hotness is the largest single contributor to melting polar ice caps.

Sarah Palin is the "other" whom Yoda spoke about.

Sarah Palin's presence in the lower 48 means the Arctic ice cap can finally return.

Sarah Palin fired Jack Bauer because he was too soft in dealing with terrorists.

Sarah Palin's pageant career ended early so other women could have a chance.

Sarah Palin's son Track is going to Iraq after the Surge, because a Palin during the Surge would have been unfair.

Sarah Palin wears glasses lest her uncontrollable optic blasts slaughter everyone. (X-Men reference)

Sarah Palin actually has Big Foot in her freezer.

Sarah Palin gave a speech in Texas after her water broke before flying home to Alaska to give birth. (Actually true)

Sarah Palin doesn't need a gun to hunt. She has been known to throw a bullet through an adult bull elk.

Sarah Palin once spilled coffee on Joe Biden & one of his $400 ties from Pink.

Sarah Palin keeps her hair in a beehive to hide her ninja weaponry.

Sarah Palin will personally open a homemade can of whoopa** on Ahmadinejad, Putin, and Chavez as soon as she's done making mooseburgers for her kids.

A grizzly bear once tried to stare down Sarah Palin. Once.

Sarah Palin will send Joe Biden a pre-debate cheat sheet. The sheet will have tips on defending against Kung Fu Death Grip.

Sarah Palin became governor because five children left her with too much spare energy.

Sarah Palin will give birth to the man who will lead humanity's war against the machines. (Terminator reference)

Three of Sarah Palin's 5 kids came out sideways and she never flinched.

Global Warming doesn't kill polar bears. Sarah Palin does. Generally with her bare hands.

Sarah Palin was the original "Deadliest Catch."

Sarah Palin paid her way through school by hunting for Kodiak pelts with a slingshot.

Alaska is the 49th state solely because they knew even in 1959 that Sarah Palin never finishes last.

Chuck Norris wishes he was Sarah Palin trapped in a man's body.

Sarah Palin once won the Iditarod without any dogs. She simply willed the sled to victory.

Sarah Palin wears half the makeup that John Edwards wears and still looks like twice the woman he does.

Sarah Palin once guided Santa's sleigh through an Alaskan blizzard with the light from her smile.

Sarah Palin fishes salmon by convincing them it's in their interest to jump into the boat.

end email.
But really, that's not the point of my post. The point of my post is that, guess who's not excited about Sarah Palin. The left, predictably, but also, surprisingly, the super-right! Over at Ladies Against Feminism (which I usually like quite a lot, but they've lost mega points in my book over this issue), apparently, Sarah Palin is not the pro-family choice (trust me, it's a story on their page even though this link goes elsewhere) because she ought to be at home raising her kids. Also, really, click the "not the pro-family choice" link, because there's some fantastic stuff about how McCain isn't pro-family, he's just pro-victory. Because not being pro-victory is going to do much for us? Well, ok, I guess I could have guessed that that would be their line. But oh? guess who else thinks that? the feminists! (not counting the Feminists for Life, because presumably they would approve of one of their own) Wow, so, the feminists and the anti-feminists agree on this, and they're using the exact same talking points! (p.s., I love the Anchoress. And I'm going to let you read what links of hers you want to, but I'm tired of linking) (not to mention that the feminists are suddenly gigantically concerned about the welfare of five children of a working mom, because they've been telling moms to get back in the kitchen this whole time, right? right?? huh?) Weird, no?

So, to chronicle my list of surprises re: the appointment of Sarah Palin:
1) The left doesn't like her. Whatever, not a surprise. Actually, I get the impression that she scares the pants off of them, and rightly so. She's probably shot more large game than the whole Democratic National Convention put together.
2) The Ladies Against Feminism don't like her. What? Oh, right, she should be at home raising those kids. But what if she's what it takes to get McCain (and her too, natch) in office so's we can keep our ammo and bibles and continue being bitter people clinging to God and guns? Well, she can't because she's a woman. Fine.
3) But what now? The feminists also say that she can't because she's a woman? You've got me there, guys.

for good measure,

4) Her DS kid isn't hers, it's her daughter's. He was begotten in incest, and thus is severely disabled. Or, you know, just slow enough at learning maybe not to know how hateful people can be. Lord knows, we need to rid the world of these people. (didja know 90% of Downs Syndrome babies are aborted? I didn't until this news came out)
5) OH. But that daughter's pregnant. Five months pregnant. And Trig is four months old. Oops, guess we counted wrong, folks. But it's ok, we can still have SCANDAL! because there's a TEENAGE! GIRL! PREGNANT! And we know that the pro-abortion crowd doesn't know that teenage girls ever get pregnant. (Shall we also mention that she's keeping the baby and marrying the dad? That's ok, we'll just shun her for ruining her life and having a kid. Whatever.)
6) So maybe we have to accept that Trig is Sarah's son. We can still shun her for ruining her life with a Downs Syndrome baby.

As the Anchoress says, let's sew a red A for her. But wait, I thought this was what the feminists fought against, the sewing of scarlet letters?

WHO. KNOWS. You've got me, with your supperyur logik. Me, I'm just a country girl who's excited to have a potential VP who wants to save the babies and let me keep my gun, and who, sexy-wise, just might be able to kick Obama to the moon. And by sexy, I mean intellectually, of course.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Lost Children

This post from Conversion Diary was so good that I'm posting the entire thing. If you like it, go tell her (link to story).

"For as long as I can remember, it's seemed to me that something is different about children today -- and not in a good way. I know that children and teens have always teased one another, talked back to their parents, yearned for independence, etc. But it seems that over the past couple of decades those behaviors have gotten worse, and become somehow darker, more sinister.

"When we lived in Littleton, Colorado, at my junior high I would frequently see some group of kids corner one of the awkward, shy, "weaker" children in the class and torment him or her mercilessly (sometimes physically) as the teachers looked the other way. Kids were angry, hostile and cruel. There was an unnatural, "Lord of the Flies" type feel to the culture that went way beyond the type of behavior you'd expect from young adults. (Many my classmates from that junior high went on to a high school called Columbine, which you may have heard of.)

"I see teenagers sulking through the neighborhood as they walk down our sidewalks, usually alone, many of them dressed in a manner to present themselves as hostile, reclusive, or threatening. I would certainly know about that -- in high school and college I wore all black (including black lipstick), had a nose ring and dyed my hair various crazy colors, and listened to angry, dark music like Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains, Korn, and Helmet. I frequently felt depressed, and had a sort of inner angst that just didn't seem natural, even by teenaged girl standards.

"For a long time I've tried to articulate what exactly I think is wrong and what might have caused it, but I could never quite seem to hit the nail on the head. Then I came across the great book Hold On to Your Kids (recommended highly by commenter Steve G.), and I think I finally understand it.

"In the book, authors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate describe this dark new peer culture, and lay out their theory that the problem is "peer orientation": children using peers instead of parents as their compass point for orienting themselves in the world, for discovering their identity, morals and values. The authors write:

As children grow, they have an increasing need to orient: to have a sense of who they are, of what is real, why things happen, what is good, what things mean. To fail to orient is lost psychologically -- a state our brains our programmed to do almost anything to avoid. [...]

What children fear more than anything, including physical harm, is getting lost. To them, being lost means losing contact with their compass point. Orienting voids, situations where we find nothing or no one to orient by, are absolutely intolerable to the human brain.

"The authors go on to explain that various conditions in our culture have combined to leave children with a huge orienting void -- that, unfortunately, they fill by orienting themselves to their peers:

In adult-oriented cultures, where the guiding principles and values are those of the more mature generations, kids attach to each other without losing their bearings or rejecting the guidance of their parents. In our society that is no longer the case. Peer bonds have come to replace relationships with adults as children's primary sources of orientation...Children have become the dominant influence on one another's development.

"And what happens when children no longer orient themselves to their parents, their families, and other adults? The authors offer a perfect description of modern youth culture when they write:

"Hey" is the universal greeting. "Sup" substitutes for "what's up" as the replacement for "how are you" or "how's it going"...Such "conversations" can and do go on at length without anything more meaningful being said. It's tribal language, foreign to adults, and it has the implicit purpose of making a connection while revealing nothing of value about the self.

"Today's teens are a tribe apart," wrote the journalist Patricia Hersch in her 1999 book on adolescence in America. As befits a tribe, teens have their own language, values, meanings, music, dress codes, and identifying marks, such as body piercings and tattoos. [...]

Although we have lulled ourselves into believing that this tribalization of youth is an innocuous process, it is a historically new phenomenon with a disruptive influence on social life. It underlies the frustration many parents feel at their inability to pass on their traditions to their children.

In the separate tribe many of our children have joined, the transmission of values and culture flows horizontally, from one unlearned and immature person to another. This eroding one of the underpinnings of civilized social activity. [...]

"Children throughout Western civilization," declared an MTV announcer not long ago, "are coming to look more like each other than their own parents or grandparents."

"The results of this are disturbing not just because of the implications for society as a whole, but for the individual child. I found myself nodding vigorously as the authors described the defense mechanisms that peer-oriented children are forced to adopt. I moved around a lot, and in the schools I went to where there was a higher level of peer orientation, I saw these behaviors a lot more:

If many kids are damaged these days by the insensitivity of their peers it is not necessarily because children today are more cruel than in the past, but because peer orientation has made them more susceptible to one another's taunts and emotional assaults. Our failure to keep our children attached to us and to the other adults responsible for them has not only taken away their shields but put a sword in the hands of their peers. [...]

No wonder, then, that "cool" is the governing ethic in peer culture, the ultimate virtue...It connotates an air of invulnerability. Where peer orientation is intense, there is no sign of vulnerability in the talk, in the walk, in the dress, or in the attitudes. [...]

Peer-oriented kids will do anything to avoid the human feelings of aloneness, suffering, and pain, and to escape feeling hurt, exposed, alarmed, insecure, inadequate, or self-conscious. The older and more peer-oriented the kids, the more drugs seem to be an inherent part of their lifestyle. Peer orientation creates an appetite for anything that would reduce vulnerability. Drugs are emotional painkillers.

"So how did we end up in this situation?

"This was the part I found particularly interesting. When I read the author's description of a small town in France that has a traditional, multigenerational, family-oriented culture (the type of culture that always existed in America until the breakdown of lifelong communities over the past 60 years), it became glaringly obvious that our society is nothing like that today, and that that is not a good thing:

[In Rognes, France] children greeted adults and adults greeted children. Socializing involved whole families, not adults with adults and children with children. There was only one village activity at a time, so families were not pulled in several directions...Even at the village fountain, the local hangout, teens mixed with seniors. Festivals and celebrations, of which there were many, were family affairs. The music and dancing brought the generations together instead of separating them...One could not even buy a baguette without first engaging in the appropriate greeting rituals. [...]

The attachment customs are the village primary school were equally impressive. Children were personally escorted to school and picked up by their parents or grandparents. The school was gated and the grounds could be entered only by a single entrance. At the gate were the teachers, waiting for their students to be handed over to them. Again, culture dictated that connection be established with appropriate greetings between the adult escorts and the teachers as well as the teachers and the students...When the children were released from school, it was always one class at a time, with the teacher in the lead...Their teachers were their teachers whether on the grounds or in the village market or at the village festival. There weren't many cracks to fall through.

"I don't think I need to detail the differences between this and our own culture today. The difference is striking, and it's clear which one is more natural and facilitates healthy bonds between children and their families.

"So what should we do?

"The authors have a wide variety of suggestions that all basically come down to putting structures in place to help foster kids' "attachment" to their parents, as would have happened naturally if they lived in a traditional village setting (e.g. eat dinner as a family, seek activities that include the whole family, don't let kids spend all their free time with their friends, etc.) I actually didn't get as much out of this last part of the book because I didn't agree with all of their suggestions, particularly concerning discipline. But that didn't really matter -- for all I care, they could have skipped the entire section on solutions -- because this is one of those cases where by being able to name the problem you're half way to solving it.

"Now that I understand the concept of peer orientation, I'll never see our society the same way again. So many things make so much more sense now. I finally understand what's going on with the kids who sulk around the neighborhood in their black baggy clothes, why I did that myself when I was younger, why so many kids at my high schools committed suicide over petty difference with friends, why I get a really bad feeling every time I watch MTV, and so on and so on. Sorry this is a longer post, but I found this topic so interesting and enlightening that I wanted to share it in case others find it helpful as well.

8/25/08: Updated to note that if you find the subject matter of this post interesting, Steve G. also highly, highly recommends the author's Power to Parent DVD series, which expands on these subjects. I'm looking forward to checking it out soon."

Again, if you liked the post, go tell her. (I wouldn't want to copy a blog post without linking to the original a million times, you know)

Thursday, August 14, 2008


"We must make clear to Russia's leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect for the values, stability and peace of that world."
~John McCain

Damn skippy.

Global warming is such a lie.

Current temperature according to 84. Current temperature at my house: 76. And it's August 14. And yet in California you can't turn around without hearing somebody worrying about global warming. Seriously?

So Napa Valley is beautiful, and wine tasting is yummy, and we sang well and had all sorts of fun, but I'm glad to be home.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Film question

Someday I'll have money again, and I'll be able to develop pictures. And then I'll be able to show off my chickens. Simple pleasures, simple pleasures. In the meantime, though, I'm postponing said simple pleasure for the much bigger pleasure of GOING TO ROME!! Which is the reason I don't plan to have any money until after January, because that's when the trip is. And hopefully I can have enough money to go to Joey's and Theresa's wedding, but they're being perverse and getting married in SC (right? the save-the-date is at the house and I don't feel like walking up there and getting it). Come on, guys.

So, here's the question: what does one do for long-term film storage so as to keep one's film from rotting or turning yellow or sprouting or whatever film does? Anyone know? Leokadia?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm raising my sons in the country.

More from The Art of Manliness:

But maybe the truest calling of man lies in the wilderness of life; in learning to thrive in the environments where complete control is not possible.

Think about every man you looked up to as a kid. Chances are they continually faced environments outside their complete control. Environments in which there was no guarantee of safety or success. Where one can only hope to influence rather than rule. Firefighters dueling with fire, soldiers battling the fog and friction of war, explorers traversing foreign territories, pilot’s pushing the boundaries of flight, or even the missionary working in inner-city New York. Each learning to thrive without being in control.

I know what you’re saying at this point. “Great, but I am a web designer and father of twins, not GI Joe or Vasco de Gama.” But, placing yourself in an environment outside your control does not necessarily mean changing jobs or even leaving the suburbs. It could be as simple as mentoring a troubled youth, working a few weekends each month at a homeless shelter, learning a hobby that has always seemed daunting to you, or starting the business you’ve been secretly planning during your work breaks for the past 6 years. Something that requires you to leave your comfort zone and step into unexplored territory. No guarantees of success. The hard way.

The suburbs convince us that the pinnacle of life consists of comfort, safety, and control. And the man that finally succumbs to this deadly logic is a miserable creature forced to live off the exhilaration of other men’s feats.

As George C. Scott so eloquently said it in the movie “Patton,” as he addressed an auditorium full of soldiers on the eve of their deployment to Europe, “Thirty years from now, when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks you, ‘What did you do in the great World War II,” you won’t have to say, “Well… I shoveled sh*% in Louisiana.’”

Full story

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things that have made me smile today

Chesterton on babies and distributism.

But there is a third, reason for my contempt, much deeper and therefore much more difficult to express; in which is rooted all my reasons for being anything I am or attempt to be; and above all, for being a Distributist. Perhaps the nearest to a description of it is to say this: that my contempt boils over into bad behaviour when I hear the common suggestion that a birth is avoided because people want to be "free" to go to the cinema or buy a gramophone or a loud-speaker. What makes me want to walk over such people like doormats is that they use the word "free." By every act of that sort they chain themselves to the most servile and mechanical system yet tolerated by men. The cinema is a machine for unrolling certain regular patterns called pictures; expressing the most vulgar millionaires' notion of the taste of the most vulgar millions. The gramophone is a machine for recording such tunes as certain shops and other organisations choose to sell. The wireless is better; but even that is marked by the modern mark of all three; the impotence of the receptive party. The amateur cannot challenge the actor; the householder will find it vain to go and shout into the gramophone; the mob cannot pelt the modern speaker, especially when he is a loud-speaker. It is all a central mechanism giving out to men exactly what their masters think they should have.

Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and which they freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them, and from nobody else. He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation. He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or ijingling jazz tunes turned out bv the machines. When men no longer feel that he is so, they have lost the appreciation of primary things, and therefore all sense of proportion about the world. People who prefer the mechanical pleasures, to such a miracle, are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life. They are preferring the last, crooked, indirect, borrowed, repeated and exhausted things of our dying Capitalist civilisation, to the reality which is the only rejuvenation of all civilisation. It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world.

Discovered at The Dawn Patrol

That most wonderful and fantastic page which every man of my acquaintance should read every single day, not because they're not manly enough but as affirmation of their splendid choices to reject the modern culture and be real men -- The Art of Manliness

"If you’re over 18 and you’re still using Facebook applications to let someone know you’re interested in them, you need to be punched in the face." Article here.

Not that I know anybody who does that. It just amused me. It also made me ashamed of myself, though, not because I chase prospective mates on Facebook, but because I neglect friendships under the assumption that I can catch up with them on Facebook. And then of course I don't, except for the occasional peek at photo albums to see if anyone has recently taken an exciting trip. And I could finish up by apologizing en masse to all the friends I've neglected, but that's a cop-out. I think I'm just going to write a million emails instead. A million. Because that's how many people I love and want to keep up with, and don't because I'm too lazy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Affirmed by Dr. Mercola!

My favorite healthy-living guru's take on sustainable agriculture

Sometimes I'm amazed at how much my interests have changed since I left college. But sometimes I do miss not caring where my food came from.

In other news, I'm planning to build an overhead trellis over my back patio and plant it with vines. Then I can drink coffee in its shade and feel nostalgic. Also, the kitchen won't get so bloody hot anymore.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What I'm really excited about nowadays

Angora rabbits!

Seriously. Could you possibly resist these guys? I can't.

Besides, that wool's expensive! I could make a lot of money off them. All I need is a spinning wheel...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sustainable Urban Living

Sustainable Urban Living

I don't live in the city anymore, but this site has a lot of really useful information for me (even with 10 acres, life's just better if you know how to conserve space) and I know it'll be REALLY interesting for anyone who lives in the city and would like to live more sustainably. Sustainable living is important for the environment, it's super important for the economy, and your family will benefit enormously.

Sarah, Leokadia, and Genevieve, I bet you'll find some ideas you'll like a lot. See? Everybody loves sustainable agriculture, especially when it can happen on a back patio.

Also? She keeps crested chickens, which are just about the most amusing birds on the planet.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

John Senior would approve

At Berea College, (NY Times story) low-income students go to school for free, and the college is funded by a government endowment. (I'm not sure if John Senior would approve of the government endowment entirely funding the college, though he might, but the part I think he'd approve of is coming.) To make up a bit of extra money (though the endowment is pretty huge) and to lower the cost of living for each student, the college runs a farm and workshops for traditional crafts! These are some students who learn wonder at college! None of these students would fail to laugh at the Chaucer's Chanticleer just because they had never seen a rooster strut.

Now my question is, why is it only destitute students who have the privilege to go to this college? Don't students from higher-income families deserve the chance to attend a college where they can balance their intellectual endeavors with old-fashioned hard work at old-fashioned practical tasks, and graduate with the ability to denounce deconstruction with the best of them AND build beautiful furniture for their home, grow their own food, and forge ... oh my gosh, who cares if they're even forging anything practical! Look how gorgeous it is! I mean, I loved UD just about as much as it is possible to love a school (tangent: I had a dream last night about sitting at a cafe in Nafplion and discussing New Criticism with a total stranger, and then I started talking about a Freudian interpretation of Brideshead Revisited, and Sarah E. from the class above me, who was magically there, was horrified, and I said, "well, how else do you explain Anthony Blanche?" And when I woke up, I realized I wrote my entire thesis on Anthony Blanche and wasn't Freudian at all. So: proof that my subconscious was trying to tell me that I miss UD, but it was pointless, because my conscious mind already knew it) but I would have LOVED SO MUCH to have the chance to learn these crafts of our grandparents, and especially to have it integrated into the curriculum in such a way that I didn't have to choose between taking ceramics and EVER having time for homework.

Like, these kids work in the craft shops for work study. Work study! Making furniture! Wow!

So who wants to pressure a *real* (that is, tuition-charging, not that Berea is fake) college to open up a craftsmanship branch, and use it as work-study opportunities, the way this one does? Encourage all students to learn to farm and hand-craft? Or perhaps, the answer is to start one, a Berea for students who are above the arbitrary line of sufficient poverty, and therefore just as excluded as low-income students are from attending Harvard. And it seems to me that the Ozarks are the perfect place for such a college. Jimmy, Jonathan, Eric, Lacy, I'm talking to you.

Oh, and Lodz: the Foxfire Book? Totally changing my gestalt. Thank you for ever and ever, and when you visit me and I feed you hog's head stew that I've canned myself, you'll know it's entirely your fault.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In my Inbox

"Allie named you 'Daedalus Diggle' in the group 'Screw it... I'm Transferring to Hogwarts!' on Facebook."

Allie, you made my day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More teaching advice, pleeeeeeeeeease!

I've made the heroic resolution to post every day because I have this idea that it's something people with blogs ought to do if they want anybody to read, and also because it will keep me from taking any one post too seriously, since it's just going to get buried in a bunch of other posts anyway. Of course, considering that it's only going to last until I get bored, I can't guarantee any long stretch of posts. But I can guarantee at least ... two days. Including yesterday.

And today I'm going to talk about my kids. Not my biological kids, though maybe tomorrow I'll post about my biological kids and how they're all going to be protegies and perfectly behaved, but today I'm going to post about the kids I teach. Who are also protegies, and sometimes they're perfectly behaved too.

Thus, this post is mostly for people who know something about teaching. If you don't know anything about teaching, you have my permission to get on with your life. If you do know something about teaching, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD tell me what to do! (actually it's really not all that serious, but I would like to know if you read one of my ideas and think "yeah. THAT'S going to work. with two five year olds in the class??)

So. Tomorrow, that is, not really tomorrow, but the next time we have school, we're introducing the letter A, which is our very first vowel. Big excitement. The textbook has them learning A AND learning to read 3 letter words all in the same day. Georgie, who's been through this part of the book already, told me that he cried on this lesson. So my goal is to make stepping stones instead of a quantum leap.

We've already been finding words that begin with letters that we've had already had, and listening exercises where they say whether the word begins or ends (or neither!) with the letter we're studying. You know, "clap your hands if the word I read ends in S. House, door, pony, walrus." Walrus and pony aren't really on the list - they're all monosyllabic words so far.

So here's my idea: (1) Introduce the letter. Hi, A. Practice writing it, find words that start with A. Apple, And, Antenna. Kidding about Antenna, unless one of them thinks of it. Art project in which we draw an apple with a worm crawling out of it, conveniently placed to resemble lowercase a. Construction paper, because they like construction paper.
(2) Introduce words that have only A and another letter that we've had so far. At, An, As, Am, Add (which has two ds, but that shouldn't be too hard to explain. It's just that way, accept it, kids.). Give them 3 words, see if they can find the others. End first day's lesson here, to give them time to sleep on the idea of two letters they already know making a word.
(3) The next day, put letters in front of the words we found yesterday. At - Cat, Bat, Mat, Sat. Again, give them three, see if they can come up with others. If they don't get it, I guess, just keep throwin' the words at them until they see the pattern.

My goal is for this series of steps to take some of the stress out of the leap from identifying letters to reading words. Does anyone have any advice, warnings about how my plan won't work, tips for more stepping stones?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A blossoming love for poultry

I never realized how incomplete a yard is without chickens, until I got some. My chickens roam all the way up to the house, peacefully clucking and pecking at bugs all day, and during the hottest part of the day they hide under the big plants that Dad hasn't cut down yet or in the shade of the trees and sleep it off. I know they're looking forward to the cool weather, and so am I, because in September they should start laying. Mom says she's seen the random white one crowing and that therefore he must be a rooster, but as far as I've observed, only the little bantam rooster is a rooster. His name is Edward, and his sweet little mate is named Elinor. She sits on my shoulder and chatters, and pecks at my earrings or the neck of my shirt. Every once in a while she pecks at the corner of my eye because she doesn't know better, but I always blink in time. She hasn't pooped on me yet, because she's a good bird. She sits still while I fill up the feed and water, and I've learned to walk slower when she's on my shoulder, because she's not very aerodynamic, and when I walk at my normal pace she gets blown off. My Rhode Island Reds aren't quite as well socialized, but when they're hungry they follow me around and stand on my feet and peck at my toenails and let me pick them up. Only when they're hungry.

My guineas are unfortunately still alive, and every time I see them I tell them that they're going to taste really good one of these days. They're neurotic and stupid and ferocious, and my hands have sustained many cuts because of them. But I hear they're very tasty, and I'm holding out hope. I've also heard that they're supposed to be tick eaters extraordinaires, but mine are defective and laze around all day in the chicken coop.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Studying for the GRE is making me dumber

The GRE prep page really (seriously!) wanted me to answer this question.

14. If 300 jellybeans cost you x dollars. How many jellybeans can you purchase for 50 cents at the same rate?

B. 150x
C. 6x
E. 1500x

The correct answer is A, by the way. Stupid GRE prep.

p.s. Just because I've posted on top of it doesn't mean I don't want teaching tips anymore. If you know anything about teaching, please scroll down, read my teaching post, and pass on your wisdom!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things that made me laugh today

It's a sign of maturity when you can laugh at yourself, right?

(during a thrilling exercise wherein I read a list of words and the kids held up cards that started with the same letter as the word, possibilities limited to S, P, N and T)
Georgie: This is fun!
Me: Are you being sarcastic?

Me to my cat: If you come near my chickens, I'm gonna throw you across the yard again!

(ya hear?)


Tuesday, June 17, 2008


So I've been thrown into the water without a life jacket.

A year ago, if you would have told me that I'd be teaching a class of 6-9 year olds in a Yurt in the middle of the country and picking blackberries during recess, I'm pretty sure I would have laughed. This is me, the girl who doesn't converse with anyone below the age of 14 because they're not smart enough to talk about interesting things yet. And here I am, telling these kids to clap when I read out a word that begins with "s." Good. Lord.

Things I've learned/started working out in my mind so far:
1) Kids need physical space to match psychological space. The school-Yurt doesn't have desks and the kids have to squish around a low table, sitting or kneeling on the floor. Consequently it's a lot harder to separate subjects from each other, and especially playtime from work time. There is a picnic table which is too big for them to sit at comfortably, but I make them sit there for reading lessons because I think it's important for them to have a place that's just for reading. But they do everything else at the round table, and it's hard to distinguish between what's work (requiring quiet and discipline, where they can't just get up without permission) and play (where they can talk quietly (ha! quietly.) and get up without permission).

Solution: long, low tables with adjustable height so that we can have a school table that's comfortable separate from a play table. Enough space on the school table where they're not crowded, so I can enforce rules about keeping their eyes on their own papers, which I haven't even tried to introduce yet because of the crowed space and circular small table.

2) Related to #1, circular spaces are not psychologically conducive to school. Square spaces are. (The second observation comes from my own memory; the first from direct observation over the past two weeks.) In circular spaces nothing is oriented in a particular direction, there's no front of the classroom, and therefore there's really no way to direct motion or guide it to appropriate places. You can't even make kids line up - how can they make a straight line with their bodies when all the lines around them are curved?

Solution: blue painters' tape on the floor, sectioning off parts of the room. One square will be the "lessons" part, one square will be the "free time" part, one square will be the "story time" part, and maybe there will be one more, but I haven't decided what that will be. Even though there won't be physical barriers between sections of the room, I'm hoping that having the floor sectioned off will provide psychological boundaries to help the kids understand that it's not playtime all the time, and also to discourage running.

3) I need a blackboard. Oh my dear sweet Lord, do I need a blackboard.

Stay tuned for more Adventures in the World of Making Up Teaching Methods as I Go Along and Pretending I Knew What I Was Doing All the Time.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I'm really not very good at being a country girl

I don't like it when things have to die. Even when they're 5 foot long black snakes that are trying to eat my chickens. (note: this is the second snake I've had to ask my dad to kill. Dorothy says they come in pairs, so maybe this will be the end of the black snakes. A girl can hope.) Life would be a lot better for me if I could just catch them and throw them out into the woods and they'd get lost and not come back to the chicken coop. I'd be all for keeping them as pets (I mean, they don't bite people, so why not?) but my parents are antipathetic about the idea, and aside from putting them in an aquarium and feeding them crickets, the only way to keep them from finding their way back to the chickens is to kill them. Which makes me sad.

Speaking of chickens, I've always heard that guineas are social birds. If that's true, I have defective guineas. The chickens let me catch them and cuddle them, and they even stop flapping after a minute or two. The guineas flap and squirm for as long as I hold on to them, and seriously endanger my eardrums. Have you ever heard guineas? They're loud little bastards.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Many events, zero pictures to show for it so far

So, I graduated. "But MC," you say, "you did that last year!" Yeah, you and the rest of the world. Fr. JD told me as I walked down the Mall in my cap and gown and the band was playing the Prince of Denmark March (side note: for a graduation?? whatever.) that I graduated last year. And I said, no, I'm graduating this year. And he said, "oh, you're doing it twice."

Anyway, it was a lovely graduation, complete with a fabulous speech by Dr. Lenczowski (text here). Re-reading it, I find myself thinking "he said that?" Obviously the rivers of sweat pouring down my back by this point distracted me a bit. But I was impressed at the time with the speech, and am more so now, which is probably as it should be. Dr. Lenczowski is the first graduation speaker in my memory to get a standing ovation.

Also, I went to DC for Amy's wedding, and my excuse of not having wedding pictures is that I haven't gotten them developed; also, there are 19 exposures left on one of the rolls so I'll probably try to finish it out before I go in to town. But it was a beautiful wedding, of course, because everything Amy touches is beautiful. Mary said so during her toast, but I'd like to point out that I had said it independently and previously and therefore am not plagiarizing. She wore her grandmother's wedding dress, which is just about the epitome of awesome and makes me really sad that neither of my grandmothers passed down their dresses.

We sang some stuff too. I'm pretty sure that this was the best group I've ever sung with. I think I counted two missed entrances, one of which was my fault, all weekend. I'm not saying there weren't more mistakes; I'm just saying I didn't hear them. Props to Sean for keeping the tenors on pitch.

And I met the American Papist, himself, in person, which fills me with all sorts of nerdy Catholic delight. Not only is he cool because he runs a fantastic blog, but he also knows all the words to the Winnie the Pooh theme song.

But I didn't get to visit the National Shrine.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chickens! Livestock! In a 2'x4' box in my well house!

My chickies! The hatchery threw in a random rare breed, but since most of the pictures of chicks on the hatchery website look the same, I guess I'll just have to wait till it grows up to find out what kind it is.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ze chickies, zer coming...

I'm nesting. Not pregnant, just nesting. You know, because baby chickens who live in a brooder in the well house care if the window is clean. (In my defense, it seemed pretty ridiculous to clean up the well house and rid it of hiding places for Big Scary Things like Spiders, and not clean the window.)

Also, the part of the brooder my dad built looks official, and the part I built looks ... well, not so much. He built the crate part out of wood; I stapled cardboard to the sides and bent up some small-gauge chicken wire I found to make a top. You say jerry-rigged like it's a bad thing. Again in my defense, how else was I supposed to keep the chicks from jumping out through the gaps in the sides?

So, they arrive in the post office on Monday. And then I will be an official country girl. I have feed for them and everything.

My fat white cat is sitting on my lap cursing me and you and all the rest of humanity. He thinks he is terribly neglected and abused since we made him a studio cat, and he is vocal in his disapproval of circumstances every time we come to use the computers.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

This is terrifying which we mean Monsanto. What are these people thinking?!?!

GMO Info - it's a video, just so you're not surprised when the sound starts.

Don't read the part about Morgellon's disease if you get queasy.

The good news is, you don't necessarily have to spend buckets of money buying all organic foods to avoid GMOs. At the bottom of the page: "The PLU code on stickers for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number nine, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number eight." Super helpful. But I definitely think that from now on, if it's wrapped in plastic, it had better say organic or I'm not buying it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Montessori links, lest I lose them

Michael Olaf - all sorts of interesting reading material

Where the training is

Bureaucrats? Nah, I'm sure they're nice people, despite having such an acronym

The Nearest School

Back to Dallas with you! (but I don't want to!)

Meet me in Saint Lou-weeee, Lou-weee, but please don't scare me with a huge face like that on the screen

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Etsy, finally

I have an Etsy! I'm so proud of me. Nothing's up for sale yet, but we'll get there. We'll get there.

Instructions for Civil War dances

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stuff you learn when you add a SiteMeter; also, random musings

Apparently the Waterhouse painting I had as my profile for all of two days is still getting hits from Google image search.  Guys, it's not here anymore.

Also, Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex has me linked on their sidebar, which is funny because I never ever talk about Theology of the Body.  Or Theology, for that matter.

Speaking of theology, anybody who was ever confused about why the sheep go to heaven and the goats go to hell should just work with goats for a few months.  Try catching them and pouring wormer down their throats.  Then you'll know.  Thus endeth the theology lesson of the day.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to play with my beloved goats (you do have to love them, even if they're obnoxious most of the time) for a while now because of the RAIN.  Thank you, thunderstorms, for washing out my road and making it 4 inches wide, and therefore impossible to get anywhere I want to.  And the hard freeze that's forecasted for this weekend?  Not usual.  Al Gore, are you listening?

In other news, I know entirely too many pregnant people.  Not that I think they shouldn't be pregnant (of course!) but just that having this many pregnant people around is bad for my babyitis.  I asked my mamma if we could go to the store and buy me a baby, but she seems to think that she should just keep introducing me to young men in hopes that one of them will fall in love with me at first sight.  Thanks, mom.  Because, you know, being introduced by your MOM isn't awkward.  Maybe it's only awkward for me because I know what she's thinking.

I really do hate meeting people and going on dates, though.  (What??  You want to drive me around town and pay for my dinner???  You don't even know me!)  (also to clarify, I don't hate meeting people, and I don't hate going on dates, but I do hate going on dates with people I've just met.)  But I want babies posthaste.  Figure that one out, if you can.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You have to love cow jokes.

Cows and Catholics...

Cows and politicians...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

He is risen!

I went to Dallas for Good Friday to sing - SO worth it.  Got back to CC in the afternoon on Saturday, just in time to unpack, visit a bit with the sis, and head to the Vigil.  I'd never been to a Tridentine Easter vigil before.  At Cistercian the monks always made the bonfire in front of the church, opened the doors, and brought the candle in while everybody stayed in their places.  Last night the entire congregation plus the monks shivered outside for 15 minutes and watched the bonfire, knelt on the flint rocks for the "Lumen Christi," and processed in by candlelight.  I'll tell ya, though, holding a candle and turning the pages in your missal at the same time is quite a balancing act.

So two and a half hours later we were all significantly chilled, and most of the youngsters were experiencing the sleep-schedule-disruption-high that is so very thrilling while it lasts.  I went home with my favorite goat herders, because we had plans at dawn for hymns on Eagle's Bluff.

Eagle's Bluff at dawn is highly recommended, more so if it hasn't been flooding a week or so back.  Unfortunately, we did have flooding a week or so ago and the banks of the creek were washed out, so the truck couldn't make it through.  But where there's a will there's a way, apparently, even if it means braving 40 degree creeks with sharp rocky bottoms in the clear pink light and all the consequent chill of near-dawn.  But adventures make the heart grow fonder, or whatever, and I suspect that it was more of a bonding experience than it would have been had it been less painful.  The view from Eagle's Bluff was well worth the inconvenience, though, and since the sun was behind us we got to watch the first rays of sunlight falling on the trees way down below us.

Easter at Dawn is such a special moment, but until today I hadn't ever been up for it.  When you go to the Vigil you come out feeling rather like the two Marys when they first found the empty tomb - you know He's risen, but the rest of the world is still asleep and in darkness.  But at dawn the light of the Resurrection puts the shadows to flight, and in all the world no ignorance or lies can stand for long against it.  I guess it's a good lesson for our times, too, when it's so easy to believe that either the world is impossible to save (going to hell in a handbasket! or whatever), or that if the world is to be saved, it has to be through our own efforts against all odds.  But if the world is dark with ignorance and lies, then we are the people living between the Vigil and the dawn, and while we hold on to our faith and the knowledge that He is risen, we can not even begin to imagine the Dawn that is going to break, when He comes again.

Here is a really beautiful description of the Tridentine Easter vigil, from the woman who is my ideal of a mother of a beautiful family.  (Well, besides Mary, but there's the standard of perfection and then there's a model you might possibly hope to live up to, and Mary didn't have original sin, after all.)

(Every time I do links they disappear, so you're going to have to copy and paste)

"After the official liturgy is fulfilled, there still comes for us the observance of some ancient religious customs that belong to the liturgy of the home. In the lantern we take home some of the new blessed Easter light, with which we shall relight the vigil lamp at home. The bottle we fill with Easter water, and on the way out of church we take some of the blackened logs from the Easter fire and preserve them at the fireplace, where they work as sacramentals in times of danger from storms and lightning.

We try to keep up the customs we learned from the people in the Alps when they say the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary on Good Friday. Toward three o’clock of that day the father of the house goes to the corner where the vigil light burns before the crucifix and gravely blows it out; then he pours water on the fire in the fireplace. No flame is allowed around the house between the hour of Our Lord’s death and His Resurrection, in honor of Him Whom we call the Light of the World.

When we return, therefore, in the Easter Night with the blessed light in the lantern, the vigil light is lit from it and also the fire in the fireplace, and all the holy-water fonts are filled with Easter water. "

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I am an official owner of Birkenstocks. I can't decide if I've sold out or arrived. I think I've arrived.

In other news, I was asked today for the fifty bajillionth time why I'm a farm girl, since I'm so smart. Would anybody like to enlighten me about why cities hold a monopoly on intelligence?

The answer I gave: I'm smart enough to know that eating natural foods, getting exercise and living close to nature really is a better life. (Not to mention, the monks are awesome, and don't make us hold hands during the Our Father.)

But, apparently, I fail in the world's eyes if I can't do it all AND have a law degree. Oh well, at least I'm a happy failure. Oh, and have I mentioned lately how many kids I want to have? Different standards of success, that's what they're calling it these days.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Proud of myself

I figured out how to get the navigation bar back, even though this free template thingy tried to take it away.  I guess they wanted a cleaner look, but I wanted my easy buttons.  I am so so so HTML savvy.

By which I mean, if I were as HTML savvy as my dad, I could have done it in two minutes, instead of an hour.  Oh well.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Coach Cahill will be so proud when I tell him.  I played soccer yesterday for the first time in SIX YEARS.  And yes, I was terrible at it, but the point is, I PLAYED.  And apparently, I'm a tough girl.  News to me, but I'll take the compliment!

And oh, man, am I feeling it now.  Gemma and I tripped over each other and I twisted my ankle, Michael kicked my shin (on accident, I'm sure, since he's thoroughly a gentleman when I'm not trying to steal the ball from him), Tommy tripped me and knocked the wind out of me (eleven year olds are so hard not to trip over!) and then Joey stepped on my glasses (oops).

So until I get new glasses, I'm trying the contact thing again, because, you know, maybe moving away from the Number One Most Allergenic City In The US will make me stop being allergic to contacts, too.  I can always hope, at least.  Maybe it was some allergy in the air that was irritating my eyes, and the contacts made it worse.  Or maybe I can just learn to live with dry eyes.  I might even be totally frivolous and go buy a bunch of different kinds of eye drops, to see if one of them works.  I would be so in favor of having corrective lenses, peripheral vision, comfortable eyes, and eyelashes that are visible when I put mascara on them instead of hiding behind lenses, all at  the same time.

In other news, The Barn is soon to be The Studio, which means everything in the barn is now Somewhere Else.  Like, in stacks on the front porch, in the well house, by the wood pile, in the furniture shed, in the tool shed, and in the carport.  Hope we don't have to find any of it between now and when it's all done and renovated!

The kittens are 4 weeks old, and while I don't have pictures of them, I can announce their names with great joy.  (NB: sometimes you have to wait a reeeeeeally long time before you name animals, because when their eyes aren't open yet and all they look like is squishy, it's hard to tell what their personalities are like.)  They come in pairs, because two sets of pairs look almost exactly alike, and the remaining two are lumped together by virtue of being the oddballs: Essie (named after her mother, Esmerelda, because she looks just like her) and Gandalf (the Grey), Louis and Jemima (black and white and very sassy), and Thing One and Thing Two (Thing Two has a funny looking white spot on his nose) (you can't name kittens without some sort of Dr Seuss reference, hello!).  Maybe in the next few days I'll have pictures.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Newest Obsession

Thanks to Mrs. Lawless, I have ALL SORTS OF NEW THINGS to spend money on.

Caution: the things presented on this website are really super exciting, and cost money too. If you're trying to keep to a budget, I don't recommend clicking.

Sarah, I REALLY don't recommend you clicking on this. If you do, we may just have to make a club of People Who Will Never Have Money Again But Will Be Able To Can The Entire Summer's Worth Of Fresh Food, Not To Mention Cook And Heat The Whole House At The Same Time With A Wood-Burning Stove.

Those caveats being over, let me tell you that this website is cooler than Facebook, cooler than LadiesAgainstFeminism, and even (I can't believe I'm saying this) cooler than the Vermont Country Store. AND they sell real-live (real-inanimate?) wood burning stoves, gas-free lawnmowers, meat grinders, veggie grinders, fruit grinders, super canning supplies, everything one would ever need to make goat cheese and butter (except the goats, of course, but I'm working on that. Goatses!), and a whole library of natural-living knowledge.

And now you know why I don't think I'll ever have money again.

And so, without further ado, I present to you
Lehman's Products For Simple, Self-Sufficient Living

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More Farm Girl News

The Lawlesses are kindly letting me come over and follow them around during their morning chores, by which I mean experiment on their animals rather than kill my own. In honor of them, I shall enumerate:

Things Everybody Needs To Know About Goats:

1. Their horns are super-efficient handles. Don't think you're hurting them when you wrench their heads around to get them to go where you want; they secretly like it.

2. Another note about their horns: they get stuck on things. Like, in the middle of a fence. Goats are smart enough to get their heads through the fence one way, but not smart enough to get them through the other way. It works like barbs on an arrow, except it baas.

3. Every morning you have to clean the poop out of their food troughs. 'Nuff said. These are not particularly smart animals.

4. They're fast little boogers.

5. When you chase a baby goat and manage to catch it and it screams bloody murder for its mama, don't worry. It'll quiet down after you hold it for a while, and the next time it won't scream for such a long time, and so on until it doesn't mind being caught.

6. On a related topic, the goats always sound a lot more pathetic than they actually are. Don't let a goat make you think it's lost and sad and miserable and needs extra food; it's a lie.

7. When you're throwing hay down from the top of the hay stack into their feeders and you miss and hit a goat on the head with a fourth of a bale of hay, it probably won't even notice.

8. If you shock it with a cattle prod, however, it will notice. Then it will make a funny startled "maa-ap" sound and leap over the rest of the goats, and probably get stuck crowd-surfing, if you happen to shock it when they're all crowded around trying to stick their noses in the bucket of grain that you're taking to their trough.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Crazy week

Lessons learned this week:

Lesson 1.

Country people carry chainsaws in the backs of their pickups just in case there's a tree down across the road.

Other country people cut trees and just leave them when they fall across the road.

If someone hasn't gotten there with a chainsaw to clear the road, it takes a REALLY LONG TIME to get to Mass if you don't know alternative routes.

The Moral: when you live on a dirt road, always know alternative routes.

Lesson 2.

That drain pipe that goes from the gully on one side of the driveway to the gully on the other side that empties into the pond is there for a reason.

When the drain pipe is full of leaves and the forecast calls for 8 inches of rain overnight, you ought to clear it out.

If you don't, your barn is going to flood and a lot of boxes are going to be ruined.

A snow shovel is a very efficient tool for moving water from your barn floor into buckets.

Lesson 3:

Sometimes one's front pasture turns into a river, when the skies let loose 8 inches of rain. There is no moral to be gleaned from this, just miscellaneous wisdom.

Also, when one's front pasture is no longer a river, sometimes it's still a lake for a while. And then you might not want to haul dead branches from the banks, because you might fall in. I didn't, but I might have.

I will post pictures of the flood once I finish this roll out. In the meantime, pictures are going here: pictures, so check back. I tried to embed pictures in this post, but I failed somehow. I'll try to figure it out again, because it's much more interesting to read posts that have pictures in them.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Adventures in a Very Chilly Wonderland

You know why they tell you to run your faucets when it's cold? It's so the pipes don't freeze. But what if you have a well and you never know when the holding tank is going to run empty? You can't really waste water all night, can you?

Well, if you're an inhabitant of the Cedar House, you can't.

Turns out, if you're an inhabitant of the Cedar House, you get to spend the first half of the next day figuring out how the siphon works, collecting buckets, and siphoning water from the holding tank into the buckets and lugging them up to the house. Because the pipes don't refrain from freezing just to accommodate your desire to save water.

When your hands are all wet from siphoning water into buckets and you don't have a towel, and then you have to stand next to the bucket holding the plastic tube to keep it squirting into the bucket and not all over the floor of the well house and it's nearly freezing outside, it's a good time to get some souls out of Purgatory.

I really don't like getting souls out of Purgatory.

But about half an hour after lunch, after I had lugged another batch of water buckets up to the house and was washing dishes (with a bowl of lukewarm soapy water and a sponge, and rinsing the soapy water by dousing the dishes with icy water [remember what I said about the temperatures?] from a pitcher), the faucet (which was now open because you never know when plumbing will start working again) magically started to drip. The drip turned into a steady stream, and the steady stream got larger, until there was no doubt that the pipes were thawed. So now all faucets are running merrily, wasting water for sheer joy of having plumbing that works.

Tonight I am definitely setting the sink to run.