Posted on

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.

Posted on

Big changes coming.

Which is slightly terrifying because seriously, I tend to not do well with big change. It usually engenders feelings of panic and crankiness and general flailitude in me, and this whole employment thing is no different.

But anyhow, two weeks from today I will no longer be employed. The current plan is for me to finish this semester, take the summer off, then go finish my associate’s degree in the fall. After that, I can transfer to the local 4-year university and finish my bachelor’s, and after that, presumably, I will find gainful employment again.

It’s pretty terrifying, I will admit, but at the same time I feel incredibly blessed that we’re in a position for me to do it. In fact, this whole thing feels kind of like God’s way of saying “Look, you’ve been whining about wanting to finish your bachelor’s degree for years now, lady. GO DO IT. HERE IS YOUR CHANCE.”

In less terrifying changes, this evening I will hopefully pick up two registered Nigerian Dwarf goats, both does, from dairy lines. They’ll be ready to breed next month, and I will probably breed one of them for a fall baby (and milking!) and then breed the other one in fall for a spring baby (and covering our spring/summer milk needs). Since there will be electric netting protecting the goats from predators, once they’ve taken down the brush in a significant area and created more of a pasture, I want to free-range some egg-laying chickens. Really I’m feeling rather homesteady; we’ve got three garden beds planted and one more to do, and I’ve asked the Best Mother Ever for a pressure canner for my birthday so that I can put away some of what we grow without having to pickle everything. It’s as if, since I won’t be providing for the family via working outside the home, I feel like I have to provide with milk and eggs and home-canned, home-grown vegetables.

I am, however, feeling strangely optimistic. Yes, it’s scary that we won’t have health insurance, but I am excited to take the summer off for the first time since I was a teenager. I’m looking forward to finding out what I can do and how much better I’ll feel if I don’t have to get up at 0400 every morning so I can leave for work early enough that traffic isn’t too horrendous on the way home. And I’m really, really glad that I’ll finally have time for all my zillion hobbies: spinning, knitting, dyeing, making soap, &c &c &c.

Posted on

Well that was exciting.

On Monday we had actual snow, a quarter inch of wet fluffy white stuff that stuck around just long enough for Daniel to throw snowballs for the Shedders and then started melting away, leaving a muddy swamp of a yard behind. Did I mention Sid got a bath, complete with painted toenails, on Monday? Of course he did, so of course it snowed. Ah, well, it’s not as if Friday Night Sid Grooming isn’t going to be the order of the day now that he’s working regularly on Saturdays.

While the snow wasn’t enough to cause serious problems like multi-day power outages, it did in fact accumulate enough on our internet satellite dish to shut down our connection to the world until mid-morning yesterday, when the last of it melted off. Ah, rural life. While I hated having neighbors practically right on top of me when I was living in town, I will say that inclement weather never accumulated on my cable connection and shut off the internet.

Well, except for that one time when lightning hit the cable junction box in my back yard that served the entire neighborhood and burnt out my cable box and also my laptop, which was no fun whatsoever, not even a little bit.

I have no charming pictures of chickens in the snow because our dedicated winter-proofing of the pens means that no snow could get to the chickens. Good thing is that before the winter, we contacted metal roofing service in Waycross, GA to enhance our roof. And I didn’t bother to take dog pictures because there wasn’t enough snow to make them picturesque, so I am afraid that my gentle readers will have to just imagine Siddy frolicking in a quarter inch of snow while I shouted things like “DO NOT GET SID DIRTY OR I WILL COMMIT ATROCITIES!” at the dogs. It’s just possible that the neighbors who are close enough to hear me think I’m kind of weird. Although it’s possible they reached this conclusion due to my habit of shouting threats at deer.

Posted on

Songs from Manorstock ’11

The House of the Fetchy Dog

There is a house in Virginia
Where I’m the Fetchy Hound
Get in my way when the ball gets thrown
And man, I’ll mow you down

My daddy, he did Schutzhund
The sleeves, he bit them all
But the only thing I’ll ever bite
Is this here fetchy ball

My momma, she was Danca
“Chase the ball!” she said to me
And since my momma told me so
A fetchy dog I’ll be

Puppies, I must tell you
To do what I have done
Learn to be a fetchy dog
And you’ll always have fun

I’ve got one paw in the backyard
And an orange ball in my jaws
And if the monkeys won’t throw for me
I’ll smack it with my paws

There is a house in Virginia
Where I’m the fetchy hound
Get in my way when the ball gets thrown
And man, I’ll mow you down.

Posted on

The incubator is creeping me out.

So I set up the incubator, which arrived earlier this week, so it can stabilize before I tuck some eggs in it this evening for Christine, who has graciously agreed to let me hatch some chickens which she will then take away. Which is very nice of her, because that means I can play with my new incubator without being overrun by chickens.

Anyhoo, so it’s set up on my poor abused craft table, in the automatic turner cradle thing which turns it through 90 degrees some mysterious number of times per hour, but here’s the thing: I never see it move. Like, I will look over and it will have moved previously, but despite the fact that I can see it in the corner of my eye, I never actually see the thing in motion. I have resorted to sitting and staring at the incubator, waiting for it, but it won’t move while I’m looking. It only moves when I look away.

It’s creepy, I tell you. CREEPY.

But I still can’t wait to hatch some chicks for Christine in it.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

I’m not sure what’s funnier…

My deep and abiding love of Lady Gaga’s totally fluff pop dance music using my best affordable wireless headphones, or the fact that every time Tink hears any of it, she comes running and is all “HEY MOM LET’S DISCO!”

Yes, discoing with Tink is one of my guilty pleasures. In fact, because it’s so often the only kind of exercise that doesn’t kill me, I’ve now found a lyrical dance class (they didn’t offer “Disco with Dogs”) where the instructor is willing to work with me and my cane and possibly service dog to teach me to dance.

Posted on

Another Dog Song

With apologies to citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including my patient husband).

God save our gracious Tink
Long live our noble Tink
God save our Tink
Send her victorious,
Mad-teething, glorious
Long to reign o’er us
God save our Tink.

O Tinkerbelle, arise
Scatter your enemies
And make them fall
Mad teeth their slobb’ry licks
Bark at their knavish tricks
On thee our hopes we fix
God save us all! [You have to get the desperation right on this line — A.]

The choicest bones in store
On her we’re pleased to pour
Long may she reign!
May she defend her toys
From Shedder girls and boys
While we sing with heart and voice
God save our Tink!

Not on the chair alone
But be Tink’s bed claims known
From room to room!
Tink’s marv’lous snarling shows
Bone-stealers face her blows
Just leave her things alone
Or meet your doom!

From thieving, hairy foes
From sneaky feline blows
God save our Tink!
O’er her thine arm extend
For our hearts’ sakes defend
Our mad-teethed Queen, and friend
God save our Tink.

(I told you it was slow around here.)

Posted on

Do you sing to dogs?

I sing to dogs and cats, actually. Usually I modify an existing song, and each critter has a signature song. So naturally I’ve been casting around for a song for Sid. I even make sure the Sydney house sitters I hire do the same to my dogs.

I apologize to all the Beatles fans out there (like my husband).

Siddy has a dorkface in the morning.
Siddy has a dorkface in the night.
Siddy has a dorkface in the afternoon.
He has a dorkface if it’s cloudy or it’s bright.

Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!
Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!

Siddy has a dorkface when he’s crated.
Siddy has a dorkface when he’s free.
Siddy has a dorkface in the backyard.
He’s got a dorkface when he’s leaning on my knee.

Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!
Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!

Siddy has a dorkface when he’s sitting.
He has a dorkface when he’s lying on the floor.
Siddy has a dorkface when he’s standing up.
He has a dorkface when he’s waiting at the door.

Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!
Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!

Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!
Ob la dee ob la da Sid’s a dorkface!
La la la la dorkface dog!