Tag Archives: farm

Ah, spring!

This weekend is absolutely amazing. Clear sunny days, temperatures in the 70s, spring flowers and green foliage everywhere. I love it here in this kind of weather.

Jay finished fencing the front part of the property this afternoon, so I was able to turn the horses out for a while. They’d been eyeing the ungrazed grass for a while, so they were happy to get out. They’re good ponies — relaxed, gentle. Although they certainly have a good time and do their share of cutting up, I don’t ever worry that they’ll do something malicious, and they’re both sensible enough that I don’t worry about stupid stuff either. It was nice to just wander around with them, enjoying them and the gorgeous day.

My container garder is enjoying the warm weather too. We have had several days with highs in the mid-40s since Mother’s Day and several days with cold spring storms. I watered the containers religiously, but they stubbornly refused to grow, and I thought maybe the cold weather had killed the seeds. Either that or I had a browner thumb than I’d ever dream. (Seriously, how sad would it be if I couldn’t even get vegetables to grow in a container?)

But suddenly in the last few days, green sprouts have sprung up in every container. The cucumbers are doing especially well — I swear they’ve grown every time I look at them. The tomato plant hasn’t died <eye roll>, and there are sprouts in the container where I planted carrots and green onions. Not sure which of those I’m seeing, because they both look like weeds in the beginning. The last ones to appear were the peas and the soybeans, but as of today, they’re peeking up too. I’m having so much fun with this!

I love sunny spring days!

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Productive weekend

I had planned to be a lounge lizard on my final weekend of vacation, but that didn’t happen. I was out all day Saturday, and then I did yard work and laundry on Sunday. But here at the end of the weekend, I’m actually quite pleased with all that got done.

During the winter, the property got a bit… out of control. Fences down, hoses and cords and buckets spread about, junk tossed into odd places, limbs down from a winter of storms. Predictable stuff that happens every year, and every year we have to have a clean up weekend to get it back into shape. That was this weekend.

One of the neighborhood boys got into a bit of trouble, and we were somehow part of it, and as his punishment he had to spend some time doing chores for us. He and Jay got quite a bit done on Saturday. They cleaned up the limbs that were down in the front part of the property and the drylot, cut up a tree that had fallen across the north fence, and cleaned up rocks and brick pieces — our chimney is crumbling — from the yard.

Jay also did quite a bit of fencing. When he did that work on the drylot last fall, our contractor (Todd) cleared some additional land. We left it open and available to the horses over the winter, but this weekend, Jay officially fenced in and built a gate for “Pasture Zero.” It’s a small pasture, but it’s near the barn and will be perfect if we need to segregate one horse for any reason. While he was working with the electric fence, he also fixed the north side of pasture two and ensured all the lines were hot.

When Todd did the clearing last year he tore down a line of critter fencing at the front of our property. Jay didn’t get that replaced, but he got the land cleaned up and planned where the fence will go, and he did get a row of critter fencing along the border between the front part of the property and pasture two — the one “open” spot where a dog (Aslan, I’m looking at you!) could get through and run willy-nilly in the pastures. The front part of the property won’t be horse- or dog-safe again until that one line of critter fence is replaced, but once that’s done, the front will be a “usable” space again.

The grass clearly knows it’s spring and was beginning to look jungle like, so we arranged for someone to come out and mow today. That meant I spent the morning doing chores to get the grass areas ready for him. I pulled in electrical cords and hoses, put away bucket, put junk on the junk pile, and basically went through and ensured he would be able to mow without hitting mower-killing rocks or logs.

In the afternoon the boys from across the street came over and, with a little financial incentive, finished up our chores. They delivered a BUNCH of old wooden posts to the burn pile, finished cleaning up any remaining junk that needed to go to the junk pile, and cleaned out the barn. I love it when they clean out the barn — they are meticulous! They’re not always so picky about getting the manure in the manure bins (as opposed to spilling out everywhere), but we were pretty specific about the requirements for payment, so even the manure bins are neat and tidy.

All in all, it was an extremely productive weekend (and the freshly mowed grass is just icing on the cake). We’ve still got a couple of big projects. We haven’t managed to dismantle the twisted mound of metal that used to be the additional shelter in the drylot, and our storm-decimated hay barn is begging to be dismantled and junked. Once those are done, we’ll be able to have the junk pile hauled away… but that will cost $1000 dollars or so, so I’m not anticipating doing it in the short-term. Maybe later this summer if I stay employed and maybe get some overtime.

Back to work tomorrow. Hopefully they didn’t figure out that they don’t need me!

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Vacation and a garden

I’m on vacation for two whole weeks!! I haven’t had any time off since I started this contract in April of last year, and although it seems risky in these economic times to take unpaid time off, I absolutely HAD to do it. I’ve been doing everything I can to avoid thinking about work this week, and may I say it’s LOVELY!!!

I’ve decided to venture into the unknown and plant a container vegetable garden this year. I like the idea of gardening, but I knew I wouldn’t spend hot summer days on my knees weeding a regular garden, plus we’d spend more money trying to keep the deer and rabbits out than we’d ever save in produce. So I decided to try raising just a few vegetables in containers on my deck. I’ll put an ex=pen around them to keep the dogs out, and the dogs will keep the rabbits and deer out. Since the plants aren’t on the ground, I’ll likely have fewer problems with bugs and pests too.

It’s too cold here to plant outdoors right now. Mother’s Day is considered our last frost. So I got one of those little seed greenhouses, and planted the seeds in that today. If I’ve managed to screw that up, no worries, I can still plant directly in the containers in May when it’s warm enough to have everything outside.

I’m planting one tomato plant, green beans (which Jay and I love raw from the garden), edamame, cucumbers, snap peas, carrots, and chives. I bought an already-started tomato plant, and it’s in my sun room for the next few weeks. The seed-starter greenhouse will be there too, though since it’s warm and variably sunny today, I’m letting them sit out where I did the planting for a while.

While I was at it, I also repotted my philodendron (George) and my Poinsettia. George was getting root bound, and I had trouble finding a pot big enough for him! Hopefully they’ll both be happy and thrive in their new pots. I’ll definitely move the Poinsettia out with the vegetables, but I don’t know about George. For some reason, he has always seemed to do best in a combination of fluorescent and natural light. Hmmm. Maybe down by my computer?

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Catching up

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since mid-December! Sorry about that. Let’s see if I can’t get caught up.

Weather

We ultimately got 30″ of snow in that December storm, and it stuck around for a long time. In fact, there are still places where piled snow hasn’t completely melted. I am a skier (or used to be), and I’m a huge fan of snow in the mountains. I don’t live in the mountains, however, and I see no point to ever having snow below 1000 feet. Seriously. All it does is muck things up.

30 inches is too much. It brought down the roof on the old hay barn at the front of the property, and it collapsed the temporary shelter in the dry lot. It grounded the electric fence, so the horses were, more or less, contained by their good graces. Branches and trees came down, and at different times I had to wade out to fix a fence. Let me tell you, wading through thigh deep snow that sucks off your shoes is not fun!!

With the melting of (most of) the snow came the floods. I expect you saw the pictures on the news. We live up on a ridge, so we didn’t have the devastating flooding that the people in the lowlands had. When the water table saturates, however, our basement leaks, and it did so with a vegeance this time. There was a period of about 36 hours where we, armed with a sump pump and a shop vac, battled the water to protect everything we store down there. It made for one very long night, but we were succesful, and compared to what other people went through, it was little more than an annoyance.

Fortunately, January weather was a massive improvement on December, and February is typically one of our nicest months (oddly enough), so I think we’ll survive until March and April when the weather will get cold, snowy, rainy, and utterly miserable again. (This area has a visually beautiful spring. Very green. TONS of flowers and flowering trees. Unfortunately, the temps are very little different from our winter temps, and it rains constantly, so aside from occasional warm breaks, it doesn’t feel like spring until mid June. Or July.)

My opinion really hasn’t changed: overall Seattle weather sucks.

Critters

Pflouff is growing like a weed, and she’s adorable, sweet, and breathtakingly beautiful. Pax and Aslan still like her, and the stress-level in the house has returned to normal levels, just like I thought it would. I was hoping to show her this spring, but financially that just isn’t going to happen. Oh well, there are worse problems! I haven’t gotten her out to any classes since her puppy class anyway (which was interrupted by SNOW).

The biggest challenge with the dogs is SPACE. I’m constantly surrounded by dogs. Pax sleeps under my desk, so I have nowhere for my feet. Pflouff sleeps against the right side of my rolling desk chair, which means if I move, I roll over her and she screams. Aslan mostly gives me some space, but occasionally, just to be perverse, he curls up on the left side of my chair. He’s worse at night, when he tries to crowd into the bed with Pax. Two dogs and two (fat) adult humans do not fit comfortably. Thank God we haven’t let Pflouff on the bed at night!

Personal space, people! I need personal space. Just a foot or two would be nice. Even when I get up and move, I have the whole pack with me, under my feet. I can’t go to the bathroom unattended. Sigh.

Much has happened with the horses. We had to put Miss Princess down on Jan. 1. She was my favorite of my horses, so it really broke my heart to do it, but it was time, and she was ready. She truly was ready — I honestly think she was grateful — and so although I miss her, I was all right with the choice even the day it happened. Rain, by comparison, was not ready, and I’ve never felt good about euthanizing him.

Rowan is four now and has matured into a good-sized mare. She’s in training at Eden Farms this winter and spring, and I’m hoping we can find a forever home for her by summer. This is not a good market for rehoming a horse, but she’ll be a good age with a good start, and she’s put together fairly well and of good size, so I’m hoping her potential will get her a good home.

That means that right now only Blue and Guin are here at the house. It’s soooo much more peaceful with just the two of them! I’m hoping that Lesley, who is Blue’s true owner, will be in a position to take both of them later this spring — Blue to keep, and Guin to get into shape for sale.

Yep, you heard it here: I’m trying to get out of horses altogether. This winter has finally convinced me that I’m over the horses. Unfortunately, in this economy I may not be able to rehome or relocate ANY of them. Prayers, please, because they really will be better off in a place where they can be mentally enriched. They’re BORED here.

Work

Work is going well. I’m busy, and I like that. As is usual, work is gaining momentum for a busy Q2 and Q3. I, unfortunately, may not be able to help them with that though.

The company I work for, like everyone else, is feeling the pressure of the economy. They made a smart move though. They set up the vendor contracts to expire at the end of Q1. That means they can wait until then, evaluate the economy, and then choose whether or not to extend some (or any) of the vendors. If they don’t, they have saved themselves a bunch of money… and haven’t laid off a single person! Very smart business decision.

I, however, am a vendor, so my contract is up in the air. I am of two minds about that. As a vendor, I don’t get time off, so there’s part of me that really would like a BREAK. I’m tired!! But there’s another part of me that’s attached to the ability to pay my mortgage, so I’d like to stay employed.

It’s out of my hands. I know the company likes me very, very much. I know I’ve done really good work for them. But the people who know and like me and want to keep me are not the people who will make this decision. It won’t be personal if I’m let go, and I know, as SOON as my department can hire vendors again, they’ll call me.

Jay and I aren’t panicking, but we’re not putting our head in the sand either. We’re tightening our financial belts, reducing our spending, and saving extra cash. We’ve cut back, and if we need to, we can cut much further back. I’ve updated my resume, updated my LinkedIn profile, and already started figuring out to which agencies I’ll be submitting my resume. We’re going to be okay no matter what!

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“I miss your spiders”

I used to be terribly afraid of spiders. Then I moved to the country, and if you live here you either get used to the spiders or you go insane. I got used to the spiders. (No comment on the insanity thing.)

Over time, I began to appreciate the spiders. I look forward every summer to the orb spiders appearing outside. Inside I got used to the giant house spiders — think Daddy Longlegs — living in corners. Since they live in webs (and stay in their webs), they didn’t bother me there.

Then we decided to have a maid come in for a few hours every other week. I LOVE my maid. I cannot rave enough about my maid. My house is clean, and it stays clean — and I don’t have to do it. Seriously, in this time of economic hardship that maid will be the LAST thing I let go of.

But… the spiders are gone. I missed them a bit, and felt sorry for them, but I didn’t give it too much thought. When we recently started having trouble with gnats and annoying little flying bugs, I didn’t think much of that either, until last night when Jay groused…

“I miss your spiders.”

The spiders wouldn’t have hung around (literally!) if they hadn’t been well fed — and we had a lot of spiders. Now we have a lot of annoying little flying bugs.

I’d rather have the spiders too.

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