16 November, 2015

Winter makes you laugh a little slower…

I’ve been remiss in blogging as winter settles in here in the piedmont. Part of that is starting on the hard part of work with my shrink and desensitizing myself to all the terrible memories I brought home from the war in the hopes of achieving something more like sanity. It’s tiring. Part of it is that, well, fall and winter don’t bring a heck of a lot of news, especially when compared to the dramas of spring and summer.

Still, there’s a few noteworthy things going on! For instance, we have Mr Piggy Bank the teeny tiny boar and Maggie the tiny pig staying. They may end up being here forever, or may go home if their previous person gets her fences pig-proofed. Whichever way it goes, they are delightful to have around, and also adorable.

Two small pigs cuddling in the sun. Closest to the camera is the tiny boar, who is about 10 inches tall standing, or half the size of the sow. He's golden with black spots, she is white with black spots.

The sheep are all getting woolier every day. I give them little pep talks about growing nice fleeces. Most interestingly, Jane the Soay ewe is growing in her fleece with a substantial amount of white sprinkled in it, like roaning on a horse or goat, so yarn spun from her wool will be naturally heathered.

There’s even a little excitement in the vegetable world. While the einkorn wheat has gone dormant for the winter, the pregnant onions that I’m getting established into a permanent onion patch are still growing like the blazes.

Onion tops ranging between two and six inches tall growing in thick, enthusiastic clumps.

I broke off the tips of some of the tallest greens for us to taste and they’re amazing, sweet and spicy and flavorful. I can’t wait to actually try a couple onions next summer, although large harvests will have to wait a while unless the onions go really nuts. Pregnant onions are an old, old variety grown before the advent of easy to purchase seeds. The large onions will spawn young onions, which will grow into large onions the next year and split off into their own children. They can be harvested at either stage, as long as you leave enough in the ground to propagate.

The garlic got planted a couple months later than onions, but is coming up anyway in its bed of composted rabbit manure.

Small, thick green shoots poking up through what looks like dark fine soil with a few recognizable globes of poo.

This is nothing fancy, just the California Early Soft Neck garlic you find in grocery stores. In fact, it’s cloves from a grocery store bulb, as I thought I should experiment with cheap garlic before I try growing one of the more fiddly heritage varieties. Still, freshness makes a serious difference, and a bulb of garlic dug five minutes ago has a far superior flavor to one that’s been stored, as we learned after managing to grow one bulb on our first try. As it turns out, the feed store was setting us up for failure selling seed garlic in spring. This really is a fall-planted crop, and in summer will be adding its deliciousness to home-cooked meals.

Things I don’t have pictures of include the expanded rabbitry. The colony is a no-go right now, having had ducks move in this past summer (long story, but not on purpose). Duck feces in the soil are not compatible with successfully raising litters of rabbits, so right now I’m working with a standard caged system and working on building tractors so rabbits can move around more and do a little grazing while the colony gets dug out and planted and rested in the hopes that I can return rabbits to it in spring or summer. Meanwhile two of my friends hooked me up with breeding stock, and there will be purebred Silver Foxes for pelts and meat starting this winter. Which means I need to get on tanning the hides I’ve already accumulated!

Meanwhile of course, late fall/early winter Virginia means the weather is all over the place and my mysterious chronic pain condition and migraines are complaining about it. I spend a lot of time sitting in the sun with the goats and sheep and pigs, soaking up the last of the warmth and enjoying my little peaceable kingdom.

13 January, 2012

O winter, how I loathe thee

I go through this thing, every January and February. This thing where I deeply and grumpily hate the winter, not because it’s terribly cold (it isn’t this year) but because WHERE DID THE SUN GO? It’s odd that this doesn’t trip for me until after the winter solstice. But I suspect that has a lot to do with the fact that the light is increasing at the wrong time for me. It’s all being added to the end of the day, while leaving the beginning of my day trapped in bleak and chilly darkness. This chart from timeanddate.com will show you what I mean. Up until the 11th, all the extra daylight was being tacked on at the end of the day. Which is great and all, I am all in favor of extra daylight, but I am also one of those people who needs to get some sun in the morning in order to actually wake up. It may also have to do with the fact that after the solstice, sunrise is still getting later for a few days until it stalls out at that 0727.

I have a sun lamp and I have been known to use it, but the fact is that driving for an hour in the cold black darkness to get to work does absolutely nothing positive for my mood. And then I stay tired all day, and slightly grumpy, and come home and have to force myself at gunpoint[1] to do anything other than just go to bed as soon as I get off work. Really if I could hibernate through the winter, things would be so much better.

The harsh expensive heating bills in san diego during winters can cause big problems for your family if your heating system isn’t working properly. Snowfall and cold winds threaten the longevity of your system so it’s imperative that you proactively conduct any necessary maintenance to make sure it’s in peak condition well before the first snow hits.

And of course, then once I have gotten used to having sunlight again, which reappears in my mornings sometime in February, we hit daylight savings time again and NO SUNLIGHT FOR MY COMMUTE. Again. So I loathe March, too, and also Daylight Savings Time.

I’m not even sure exactly where I’m going with this, except to say that I am a ball of grumpy for months on end and that the obvious answer here is to win the lottery so I can sleep through most of January and February.

[1] I jest. I do not actually force myself to do anything at gunpoint, which is probably why I’ve come home from work and gone directly to bed to loaf around with my tablet and my Kindle for the past four days.