Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hurry up please it's time

Well friends, another lazy Sunday was ruined this weekend. This time though, not by the sudden horrifying discovery of the mangled body of an old friend, but rather by some good ol' Christian motivation. It seems that the Big Man was rather chagrined that we, farmers, had managed to sleep until 11, and it was right now immediately time to change our winter weekend routine (which was: sleep, yawn, sleep. eat a massive breakfast. bake bread, simmer beans, simmer stock, yawn, see if Julia and Jaques is on PBS. research goat breeds. make a 5-hour dinner. sleep.) to a not-winter weekend routine. Slight hangovers from a three-year-old's birthday celebration be damned. Cold drizzle, pah. I was skeptical at first, but I can really only take so much berating... I have a large but delicate sense of self-worth.

It turns out, two motivated farmers can get an awful lot done in a few drizzly hours. Visitors will perhaps recall the barn as a drafty, cold space, with gaping open doors on each end. These doors were constantly kept open because they were only attached to the barn via the top slide track, and in the wind they would flap and bang about mercilessly, and were a pretty severe flight risk. The east doors didn't even slide shut, due to some barn swallow/wasp/vine infrastructures. Big Man's design prowess and my brute strength made surprisingly short work of them, and we now a barn with closed, sturdy doors. This is especially wonderful because making a permanent shop space in there is a prerequisite for a lot of our spring building projects, from bee hives to chicken coops to corrals.

Then there is the momentous fact that we planted something outside in the ground, some karmically powerful garlic that we got from a hitchhiker:

The hitchhiker's name was Jeff, and he lives in a house on wheels that he built, which is currently parked on a corner of a now-defunct hippie commune. He's having disputes with the now-defunct hippie who owns the property, so he's about to drag his home on wheels elsewhere, presumably with his recumbent bike, since he has no car and no interest in ever owning a car. Anyway, the garlic is originally from his sister, who has been planting it in the region for over a dozen years. He planted it last fall (that's how garlic goes, like parsnips), so it already had green shoots coming out the top, as well as a cringe-inducing amount of roots that we had to chop through. We filled up a paper box with two dozen huge and delightfully pungent bulbs, and spent an hour sweating in the drizzle to tear up sod, break up clods, and stick them in the earth. I am really hoping that they survive the somewhat massive trauma and take to their new bed.

Given our resoundingly productive half-day, we have decided to accelerate our plans from "prudent and lazy" to "maniacal". We think this will serve us well.

Meanwhile, the celery keeps to its prudent pace, haughtily surveying the fields from above.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Spoke Too Soon

Remember yesterday, when I complained about the lazy celery? Well, apparently the ninjas heard me and decided to exist sometime between 8 AM and 6 PM today.


There's a few more, curled up in exactly a fetal position, and some celeriac coming along, too.

Tonight we planted 6 artichoke seeds. So in 10 to 14 days we get to learn what artichoke seedlings look like. Then later we get to learn what artichoke plants look like (do you know? Kind of how you would expect, but also with gorgeous purple flowers).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

RIP, Tamagotchi Blog

So, if this blog were a Tamagotchi, it would totally be dead right now. Sorry about that. The time for an update is clearly ripe. Therefore: here are some things that have happened since the beginning of March:

1. Spring is here. Thus, a big fat 'F you, you hater' goes out to Punxsutawney Phil, who got it totally wrong by at least a week and a half. The immensity and drama of the change is remarkable. The silent monochrome of winter transformed literally within a matter of two days into a cacophony of birds that is almost startling in the mornings, and the muted browns and greens that have sprung up seem downright opulent. Geese are back, flying north and scuffling over the thawed out smaller ponds. The lilac bushes that surround the house have buds the size of my thumbnail. The maple trees on the west side of the lake have a faint reddish haze about them -- new growth. And, the truest and most delicious of all signs, the Big Man and I tonight consumed beers, outside.

2. We planted celery and celeriac in soil blocks. Here is what the soil blocks look like:

Attractive, no? The mix is mostly peat moss, with a hefty amount of compost (generously donated by Spike Westervelt...or I suppose I should say his horses), some perlite and soil. There is supposed to also be lime, to balance the pH level. We forgot that bit. They sit in roasting trays, which are in turn positioned on top of a water bed heating pad. This keeps the soil blocks at a steady 70 degrees. Hopefully warm enough for the little guys to germinate their asses off. They take an excruciating week to show up, thus, so far we've got nothing but a few very pampered weeds to show for our labors. Stupid ninja celery.

They've also got some courtesy-of-Spike florescent lights.

3. The Murderer has departed! Well, I think. Sometimes I still hear scuffling about in the walls, but it's nothing near like right after the storm, when our house was clearly a 24 hour residence for something quite awful, and disturbingly large for living in walls. I can mostly convince myself that it's just mice. (I am still shocked as to how placated that thought makes me -- Oh, that's probably just mice in the walls. No big.). Huge sigh of relief all around.

Artichokes get soil blocked tomorrow. Chicken that was grilled outside gets eaten immediately.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Murderer, and RIP Hyena Cat

I can hear the Murderer moving around upstairs, so I'll try to be quick so I can get back to thumping on the ceiling with the broom handle.

We got hit with a rather inconvenient snow storm, one which actually involved me driving off the road on the way to work and requiring the assistance of Doug the Tow Truck Driver. Fun times.

Anyway, during the storm I spent a few scant minutes fretting over my favorite ally (in the ongoing/evergoing War Against Mice), the Hyena Cat. But she's totally awesome and more hardcore than even the Red Gang in Chicago (who still owe us 9 car windows), so I didn't fret long.

So imagine my dismay on Sunday morning, when, happily traipsing downstairs for some much-needed slipper time with coffee and the nytimes, I saw out of the hall window a bloody carcass, with entrails featured as extrails, a ripped off face, and a mottled-with-blood pelt. It also featured uncomfortably close to Hyena Cat colors. Here is a blood stain after removal of said carcass.

Now. The troubling thing is the placement of the body. Devout readers will perhaps remember the cute little cat passage in our back kitchen wall. I liked to pretend that cute little cats went in there occasionally, to hunt mice. The Hyena-Cat-like carcass was found just outside that access hole. With not enough accompanying blood to assume that she was killed there. As if she were dragged there. By a murderer. Who has apparently made his home in our goddamn wall, and in the attic above the kitchen, which is the one part of the attic that we can't access. And who delights in moving about with skittering claws and thumps as I stand in the dining room, staring wide-eyed at the ceiling and turning up the music as I clutch my wine ever harder. Yesterday the Murderer had Ursula so spooked that she refused to leave the dining room even when we put food in the kitchen. And it is rather eerie. Hence my propensity to whack the ceiling with the broom when I hear it begin to writhe about in what is in all likelihood its devil worshiping dance.

So. Who killed what is probably the Hyena Cat, my favorite barn cat, who was exactly the color of our fall pasture, who was always peeping from the hayloft with curiosity and intelligence, and who loved turkey leftovers set out sneakily on the front porch?

Evidence: those other skeletons in the wall. One cat, and one Mystery Beast, probably a possum. Maybe the world's most gigantic mutant rat. (Evidence in that horrid theory's favor includes all the "Giant Rat" brand rat traps that I found in the attic when I was cleaning out the former owners' junk up there last September.) Is there an ongoing war between team possums-rat and team cat? And then there were these (mutant?) footprints we found in the barn. Ursula's paws as a size reference:

There were also bunny prints all about but I think they're disqualified on account of how bunnies just eat pansies and easter eggs and Jesus' risen spirit. Unless Frank lives in the attic.

Suspects:. Could Ursula be the Murderer? She did find the body, and Criminal Minds on tv has taught me that perpetrators often inject themselves into the case by doing such things. Was it another cat? The Orange Kitten, even? Otherwise, a possum, raccoon, mutant giant rat, werewolf, bin Laden?

And: how do we get it to stop dancing around in our house???