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In which I bleed for my goats.

A few days ago, Daniel and I moved the goat fence. This is not as weird as it sounds, with seven goats and a relatively small area for them to graze we’re more or less using a managed intensive grazing method by default. So what we use is ElectroStop netting from Premier1 Supplies, plus an energizer for it that puts out about 5,000 volts or more than enough zap to deter goaties from going through the fence. Although Siri did figure out how to get under at one point, but we’ve got that licked.

Anyway, the fence posts have spikes at the bottom to stick into the dirt, which means the timing of moving the fence is complicated by things like “has there been recent rain, so that the ground is not comparable in hardness to concrete and therefore impossible to drive a spike into?”. Which means that although the fence has needed to be moved for a while, we haven’t been able to move it as the ground hasn’t had a good soaking. Luckily we got a couple, and went merrily out to move the fence.

It all went very well until I found a tick crawling on me during a shade-and-water break, at which point I kind of a did a bizarre flailing thing that brought the side of my right arm into contact with an edge on the milk crate I was sitting on (I know, I didn’t realize plastic milk crates had sharp edges, either) at just the right (or possibly wrong) angle and suddenly I’m bleeding like a stuck pig and possibly requiring stitches.

Since we don’t have medical insurance anymore and doctors are expensive and I’m up to date on my tetanus boosters anyway, I didn’t get stitches. I did however come inside, clean the thing with multiple antiseptic agents, and then get Daniel to tape it shut with Bandaids before we wrapped it with a big gauze pad (all right, fine, it was actually an enormous “overnight” maxi pad from a pack I bought last time Tink needed bandaging) and an ace bandage for pressure to stop the bleeding.

The bleeding at least did stop once there was pressure on it, although after I showered it thought about starting up again. I’m liable to have a funky scar there, but oh well, my husband digs chicks with scars. And then my husband refused to let me go help him finish moving the goat fence on the grounds that I’d start bleeding again and possibly bleed to death right there on the back acre, and he was not going to deal with that on top of the heat and the humidity, because a dead wife is a pain in the ass. He has a point, I guess.

But let this be a lesson to you, gentle readers: ticks and milk crates do not mix. Also, stay up to date on your tetanus shots.

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Deathplague continues, eggs go into lockdown, etc etc.

Stayed home yesterday as a result of whatever Deathplague it is that has filled my sinuses with concrete. The good news is that after a day of mostly remaining motionless in my recliner taking drugs, I am starting to feel like a human being again. I have not managed to lose my voice, probably because Daniel has been bringing me tea on-demand. Chai, with honey and milk. It is so good. He also got me a dinosaur play set today when he went out to get me more drugs! So I have had dinosaurs to play with while languishing in my chair. I think he is the Best Husband Ever, really. Today is his birthday, and he’s been living here for over 13 months now and I have not tried to kill him even once. This is how you can tell he is a pretty stellar person. He has put up with chickens, feral cats in the bathroom, being the Vet Trip Chauffeur, puking dogs, screaming cats, baby chickens in the house, that time I accidentally kidnapped Pawpower, earthquakes (well OK, only one), apocalyptic storms involving either snow or rain or both, and me looking all wild-eyed and trying to make a case for a mini-cow, and yet has not tried to kill or divorce me even a little bit. Definitely the Best Husband Ever.

Twelve of the original 24 eggs in the incubator went into lockdown. Three of the four of my eggs that were in there did not develop. One I wasn’t expecting to but the others were from the Modern Game Bantams. I shall have a pep talk with Kemuel, the rooster, about doing his duty and fertilizing the eggs. The remaining egg is from the porcelain silkies. The eggs left in the incubator and probably going to hatch starting sometime on Friday are blacks, blues/splashes, lavenders/lav splits, porcelains/porc splits, and one lone partridge egg. All of them are from silkies, so this will add several adorable balls of floof to the Manor, at least until I figure out who I’m keeping and who I’m selling off.

Meanwhile, we’re pretty sure we have Mr. Beckett’s transportation situation figured out, which means he will go off to his new home next week. It’s always such a bitter-sweet time when one of the former ferals heads off to a new home. Sweet, because we are at the limit for cats we can really care for well; bitter, because we can’t help but love them while they’re in our care. Still, while we won’t be glad to see him go, we’re definitely happy that he’ll have people who can give him more attention than he can get here. He’s turned out to be a very interactive kind of cat who loves to snuggle.

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Let me show you the world in my eyes…

It is a well-known fact among my family that I have always had a highly active imagination. I did not have cats as a kid, I had tame cheetahs. Likewise the nondescript grade mare Sugar who lived at my grandparents’ house was not a nondescript grade mare, but a purebred warhorse on whom I had fantastic adventures. In my teens, when I was reading a great deal of Mercedes Lackey’s books, I leased Harvey Wallbanger, an Arab/Quarter Horse cross, who looked to the rest of the world like a fat and placid gelding, but I knew his secret name and when I whispered it in his ear, he was a Shin’a’in warsteed, the only stallion ever allowed off the Dhorisha Plains, and I his rider. We saved the world a lot.

I have never actually grown out of this tendency, it’s just gone underground. Tink is not actually a Doberman, but a rare Moonhound who lost an eye in battle with the Wargs who come down out of the north in the winter with the snow. Sid is not, in fact, a German Shepherd from East German working lines, but a ferocious and loyal black wolf who pads beside me on my adventures. I’ve taken a religious vow not to ride horses, which is why I no longer have a purebred warsteed. Oh and my husband is not a stay-at-home spouse in the hinterlands of Virginia, but the consort to a warrior Queen who watches over the kingdom while his wife hares off on quests. And while the undiscerning eye might look at Emmaline and Noodlehead and see two tabby-and-white mutt cats, formerly feral, I know that they are in fact Stripey Disapproving Meepers whose ancestors were saved from the sinking of Atlantis by the priests because they can see the future, only in the intervening years they have forgotten how to speak. On one of our quests, Sid and I may discover the key to teaching them to speak again, but then I will obviously need to learn Atlantean.

What? I commute two hours a day and mostly tell myself stories to fill the time.

Anyway, knowing these things, it will come as no surprise to my gentle readers that Belphegor is not, in fact, a small floofy chicken at an exceptionally awkward stage of feather growth, but my raven familiar. Merlin and Annaham, who greet me enthusiastically and demand to be picked up, are not adolescent chickens but fierce small hawks. Mostly they play along and humor me, being good-hearted birds. I mourn the day they all grow up and become more interested in bugs and chickens of the opposite sex than perching majestically on my wrist, although it is possible I suppose that they will always be willing to perch majestically on my wrist, and possibly I can even train them to swoop down on my foes.

Merlin is working on it already. He just needs some more practice distinguishing friend from foe.
Merlin, a very small crele chicken (white with grey stripes on his back and brown ones on his breast) stands triumphantly atop Daniel's head.  Daniel's eyes are closed.

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Highlight of today’s Footsoccerball game

Things you should know before watching this video:
1) Daniel was not injured, just startled. Really, really startled.
2) Game play ceased immediately and all dogs were forced to come in the house and be bored.
3) Well, OK, not bored, but the Shedders were definitely having less fun in the house where they have to be much more polite and less zoomie.
4) Just before I started filming, I’d said “Now you just have to get the ball back to this end of the yard.”

Video opens with Daniel, a very tall Englishman, down at the far end of the yard from the camera, quite close to the shed. He is contending with Zille, a sable Shedder, and Sid, a black Shedder, for a slightly battered footsoccerball. The dogs are initially winning, but then Daniel manages to get the ball and head toward the camera with it.
Me: (completing that earlier sentence) Without hitting me.
As I speak, Sid manages a beautiful tripping maneuver on Daniel and seizes the ball. Daniel manages to stay on his feet and secure the ball again. Sid, however, in a flash of speed and determination, snatches the ball away and heads away from the camera with it toward the back corner of the yard. Daniel follows, trying to nudge the ball out of Sid’s mouth, and finally succeeds. Sid’s head flashes up and….
Daniel: (turning to the camera) He just bit me in the groin!

The record so far this season:
Daniel: 1 1
Shedders: 0 0 (violation of rule 5b by Sid, violation of newly revised rule 4)

Rules 4 and 5, as amended:
4) It is legal to bite your opponent’s clothing or fur, but you may not bite your opponent. This distinction is important.
4a) If you bite your human opponent instead of the human opponent’s clothing, play must cease.
5) It is legal to pry your opponent’s jaws off your clothing, fur, or body.
5a) If your opponent’s jaws were on your clothing, play must continue.
5b) If you are human and your opponent’s jaws are on your body, play must cease.

New rule:
10) It is legal to distract your opponent by scritching him gently behind the ear.

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Actual Conversations That Happen in This House

Daniel: Get off the stove you daft beast!
Me: Just let him lick the roast.
Daniel: No!
Me: It would make him so happy if you let him gum the roast.
Daniel: He is not going to gum the roast.
Me: It’s raw! You’re going to cook it and that will kill the bacteria!
Daniel: He does not get to gum the roast. Just no.
Me: Can he have a teeny piece of it then?
Daniel: Fine. He can have a teeny piece of roast.
Me: It really would make him happy if he could gum the roast.
Daniel: I love you.
Me: Is that “I love you even though you are badgering me about letting the cat gum dinner”?
Daniel: Yes. Yes it is.

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Still no rest for the wicked.

Well, mild rest, this week is light on school work. However it’s also heavy on me trying to ward off a sinus infection, so if this is less coherent than usual, I blame pollen.

Also, in the interests of lazy blogging, there is a post containing a picture of Jeremiah Swakhammer right over here. That would be Daniel’s blog, but lest you get all excited I feel obligated to warn you that he is an even lazier blogger than I am. Still, there is a turtle picture! Also a stick insect. Such riches!

In other news, the chicken house has shipped, and this weekend we shall put polyurethane sealer on the outside, and also pull down all the rusty wire off the chicken structure and install a door and shiny new welded wire fencing, and clean out all the trash that’s in it, and lay down some sort of Digging Discouragement System to keep the coons and possums and roving dogs and cats away from the chickens. Also, we have a much larger plastic bin which shall be converted to a winter home for whichever of the Manor Cats choose to use it. Still needed: another couple bigass plastic bins.

The garden progress has slowed as my best beloved has aggravated an old shoulder injury with all the digging and whatnot, and we’d prefer him not to be crippled so all the digging is on hiatus. So is going to Skilled Fencing for the new fence posts┬áso we’re not tempted to start pounding them in. On the other hand, he is still spoiling me rotten so I cannot complain even a teeny bit except about the necessity of me having a job. Oh to win the lottery! But first I’d have to buy tickets.

This Friday is payday, then two days later is School Money Day, so I shall be buying the last odds and ends I need for soap and hopefully you can look forward to stories of successful soaping!

USCIS has received our application for Daniel’s green card, so cross your fingers for us that the bureaucracy moves quickly and is not nearly so annoying as the whole K-1 Visa process, as I would very much like to not have my brand-new husband deported. I wish he could apply for EB5 investment visa but for now his plans are different.

And finally, I have started taking Chantix with an eye toward losing my nicotine habit. We shall see how it goes. The dreams thus far are, um, interesting and let me just say that the first one about chickens was definitely to be preferred.

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I am a productive beast. In other news, winter is coming.

Yesterday Daniel and I met up with Christine and a couple other people at the Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier, the former home of James Madison (the founding father and former president). We got to watch Border Collies move sheep around, and shop fiber! Daniel, who toils not with fiber neither does he spin, was along to make sure I did not come home with an angora bunny. I want one so badly. Apparently you do not have to comb the fiber off them, but can instead just shear them every three months. Since the fiber goes for $9/oz, roughly, it is extremely economical to have your own bunny if you want angora fiber. But, y’know, I do not need more critters, or at least not a bunny who requires keeping clean and some minimal grooming to avoid mats.

Anyway, I managed to get out of there with merely eight ounces of Blueface Leicester wool top for spinning, in mixed white and brown which should produce a lovely yarn in a manly color that I could conceivably use to knit something for my beloved if I were the kind of person who ever finished a knitting project. But given that I had just acquired eight ounces of alpaca fiber (also in mixed browns and greys) the week before at the state fair, bringing me to a total of one pound of spinning fiber in the last week, I thought I’d better actually get back to spinning, with the end result that I finished two bobbins of purply stuf that Mom likes and plied them for my first ever two-strand plied yarn. Go me! It’s currently drying in the bathroom along with a skein of single-spun white wool which I will dye at some point.

Fall is approaching rapidly. Jeremiah Swakhammer is still awake and moving around, but we shoveled a lot more leaves into his pen to give him a nice insulating blanket for when he decides to go down for the winter. The possums and the raccoon or raccoons (it’s hard to tell if we have more than one coon) are snarfing down dry food in massive quantities on a nightly basis. Romeo and the Patriarch, two of the local toms, have been spotted, and Dreadnought continues to come back. The girls are still the only ones we see in person; Briar Rose has yet to bring us any kittens although the Havahart trap is standing ready.

We’ve decided on a general area for next year’s garden and picked out a chicken coop that we just need to order, Daniel has started a compost pile, and we’re working towards readiness for spring planting and spring chickens. Wood has been split and stacked for winter, the days are noticeably shorter and cooler now.

There will be pictures of all this busy-ness at some point I’m sure, but for the moment I’m too lazy to even do lazyblogging. Which is pretty damn lazy.

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Cats: always contrary.

So there was no post yesterday for what you, gentle reader, will probably call the laziest reason ever: I couldn’t get Roo to write it for me. He’s in his room from 0500-0900ish these days since Daniel is home to shuffle cats around, and during that time he likes to tromp all over my keyboard since my computer is now in his Echo Chamber, that’s why sometimes I use his carrier to keep him there so I can work a little, and since is really spacious he’s comfortable there, if you want Information on cat carriers and other related products, this site will help you too.

Unless, of course, I open up a blank document and leave it there for him to work his authorial magic. I mean, we’re talking a cat who somehow managed to create a whole new folder holding the twitter user icons of everyone who was on my twitter front page at that point, it’s not like he doesn’t know how to use a computer! He’s opened windows on Daniel’s laptop that Daniel, who is way more computer savvy than I am, doesn’t know how to get to. But apparently expecting him to write one little blog post is just too much to ask.

In other news, Zillekins is gradually growing to respect the fact that when Daniel asks her to do something, like come inside, she needs to go ahead and do it. On the other hand, she’s also taken up waking us with frustration barking around 0400, which is annoying as all get out. Tink has resigned herself to sleeping in a dog bed in the bedroom instead of on the people bed, bless her heart, but we’re still negotiating with Rooney Lee over the level of night-time obnoxiousness he’s allowed to present before I get tired of it, get up, and toss him out of the room and close the door. For the record, stabbing me in the thigh with his claws? Not allowed.

Meanwhile the wedding is in three weeks and some change and we’re flailing around doing last minute stuff, like finishing the ceremony and this weekend we’ll go rent Daniel a suit. My poor beloved has either acquired some good ol’ American germs or is deathly allergic to the entire state of Virginia, could go either way really. Beowulf continues to deeply adore him, Tink finds him an acceptable substitute for me when I’m at work, and Braxton Bragg has condescended to snuggle him a few times now in a moving display of not wanting him dead. Brax is many things but not a trusting soul, bless his heart.

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Pack integration

It’s always interesting bringing a new member into the pack, whether that member is four-footed or not. Right now, of course, we are having an exciting fun time integrating Daniel, which is perhaps best exemplified by the Inside Puppies problem.

“Inside puppies!” is the phrase I use to get dogs in the house. When I chirp it expectantly out in the yard, all the dogs head in with a swiftness. But now there’s a new human in town.

When Daniel declares “Inside puppies!” the Dobes obediently go to the door. Zille, on the other hand, says “Screw you, thumb monkey! I don’t have to listen to you!” Well, no. Zille would not use such language, as she is a gentledog of impeccable breeding. But she is refusing, currently, to return to the house in a timely fashion for my soon-to-be spouse.

I will admit, I find this vaguely hilarious. She does it to my mother, too. I have offered Daniel various dog training suggestions, but ultimately this is going to be his first training challenge: get Zille in the house. She’s convinced if she can just stay outside long enough, you will start playing fetch with her again. It took me weeks of laboriously walking her down and occasionally grabbing her by the collar and dragging her into the house before she would reliably go inside on demand for me.

I’m betting I get more plaintive e-mails about her recalcitrance in the next few weeks. But she’ll learn.