Monday, June 30, 2014

Make-do Monday

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without


I love that little rhyme. I find it so inspiring! Makes me think of Victory Gardens, darning socks, floursack aprons, and all the things that go along with the good ol' days when nothing was wasted. Of course, some of those "good ol' days" were actually in the Great Depression, which from what I hear wasn't all that nice, but I digress...

The message, still, is one that means a lot to me. It goes along with everything I believe so strongly in. Using every part of the animal whose life was sacrificed to sustain yours. Skin, bones, brains, etc. Everything has a use, a place, a purpose. Saving seeds carefully for the next year, so that you needn't rely on the (admittedly beautiful, and always tempting) seed catalogs. Composting food scraps and manure so that the garden can have fresh life, and the landfill can become slightly less enormous than it otherwise would have been. Frugality. Ingenuity. Creativity.

This weekend I threw a baby shower for one of my dearest friends in the world. The theme was nautical, and I wanted a banner to hang. I had a pile of old fabric odds and ends that my dear mama gave me a year or few back, and so I set out to make something new out of something forgotten. :)

such potential...


a rough sketch and some freestyle cutting...
 
I have literally no fancy sewing equipment. I've been meaning to get a cutting mat and ruler and such for ages, but just haven't put it on my list. So far I've been pleased with the results of totally winging it, so why not "do without" for a bit longer?


 
I'm not a super good sewer (seamstress? much too professional-sounding...). 

...a bit of an "oopsie"...had already cut out the first buttonhole when I realized it was not even close to the right spot...we'll call it "rustic charm", shall we?

I do so love how the little ship turned out!

 
 
Ta-da! There you have it! Here's to keeping the scraps out of the landfill, y'all. Find a way to be frugal today! Use your kitchen sponge until it has holes in it! Wear rags, or become a nudist! Don't wipe!
 
Er, wait...
 
Now, if only I could fashion some sort of a working brain out of my final scraps of sanity...hmmm...
 
 
 
(shared on the Homestead Barn Hop, and the HomeAcre Hop!)


Friday, June 27, 2014

Foraging Friday

Blackberries. Oh the things I will do for blackberries!

Or pretty much any berries, for that matter. Plump, juicy, luscious things. When we discovered brambles by the duck pond early this year, right in the middle of our little town, I wondered what they would turn out to be. I hoped for something edible. Later, when I positively identified them as blackberries, I was ecstatic! I took the boys berrypicking at the first opportunity.

And quickly repeated the excursion.

And intend to do so again shortly.



 
 

 
 
So it turns out...wild blackberries have lots of thorns.


 
 
Maybe the mini skirt wasn't such a good choice...
 
 
...at least I wore boots?
 



 
I would show you only this angelic picture of my three-year-old (right), but this next one is more typical of his personality:


 
Booyah! Blackberries in my yogurt! I win!




 
As a side note, I DID learn that you have to eat/cook/freeze/process/whatever your fresh picked wild blackberries THE moment you get home, otherwise they mold very quickly, or wind up with interesting little wiggly critters in them (...yummm...). Hence the reason I will be going berrying again very soon. Be wise and learn from my mistakes. LOL...happy foraging to you all! May your baskets overflow!
 
 
 
 
(Shared on the Homestead Barn Hop, and the HomeAcre Hop!)
 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Workshop Wednesday

My boys LOVE working in the shop with their dad. I have to admit, it's one of my favorite things as well. Tim gets out a project, whether it be metalworking or woodworking, and the boys get out their hammers and nails and start creating anything and everything their hearts can conceive to make out of the scrap pile (usually airplanes, or heavily modified swords with nails sticking out at odd angles).

I have absolutely zero skills in the shop. But it's fun to learn! I can finally sort of almost kinda use the drill now, without it leaping from my hand to run down the alleyway screaming in its little drill voice: "rape! raaaaape!! help, someone! I'm being abuuuuused!!"

*cough*

I'm better at using sandpaper. Or the measure-y thing. I can use that!

This week we finished work on a new bunk bed for Ezekiel and Isaiah. I *LOVE* how it turned out. It took approximately fifty hundred million thousand years of sanding, but it was worth it.






Isaiah was sad that he didn't get to sleep on the top, until his dad showed him how his bed can become the coolest fort EVER with nothing more than a tucked in sheet and a flashlight. Whining turned to cheerful chortling and peace was restored.

Way to go, Tim/dad. You're the best!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rude

There are all types of rude. Burping, farting, armpit-scratching, spitting, smacking, nosepicking, etc. etc. Most of these are simply socially unacceptable/frowned upon. Some are more annoying or repulsive than others.

There are some people that you can be rude with all day long and nobody cares. You can laugh and play and sound like whoopee cushions 24/7 and there are no hard feelings. I believe Anne called these people "kindred spirits". Friends don't care so much about faux pas. They're friends.

But those things aren't RUDE rudeness, anyway. Sure, they might be loud, obnoxious, or olfactorily offensive. But unless accompanied by constant repetition, I see no reason to be overly bothered by them.

On the other hand.

The RUDE rude hand.

You have people that get all up in your business and try to tell you what's what, even though they're wrong because it's your life and not theirs and they're not the boss of you infinity no matter what they say SO THERE.

Ahem. Sorry, may have transported back to third grade, there. :P

My neighbor, Ernest.....is an odd fellow. Very short in stature, but broad. He stomps around on the earth as if he were trying to punch through the lithosphere. He treats people much the same way. He is very cheerful, and almost aggressively friendly. From the moment he met me, he has treated me as if he has known me the last five thousand years.

Only it's not in that sweet, old-person-esque, honorary-grandchild kind of way.

It's in that rude, bossy, I-should-have-a-say-in-your-life kind of way.

Most recently, Ernest has decided that he should accost me randomly and tell me that I can NOT keep my rabbits on the ground. Because of something called "Rabbit Fever" (is anyone besides me reminded strongly of Bugs Bunny, here?). Something that his grandfather got, and somebody else died from (please excuse my atrocious grammar, I live in the south, y'all!).

First of all, I don't intend to butcher the rabbits I am currently keeping on the ground. They are my breeding stock. I tried to tell him this, but somehow he still thinks that he's going to "help" me butcher them, and that he's going to buy some rabbit meat from me.

(sigh)

He's not exactly the...ah...listening type.

Secondly, I don't intend to keep the rabbits on the ground forever. I'm planning on building hutches next month in fact (stay tuned for that post!). I am, at this time, moving the rabbits every day so that they can slowly fertilize my front lawn. I'm keeping the cage hoisted up on a couple of bricks so that the excrement will still fall through the wire.

Thirdly, keeping rabbits on the ground will not kill you if you do it right. I have researched the subject, and am continuously seeking more information on it. I am not going to dismiss the (kindly meant?) admonitions from my neighbor out of hand. I have not, however, found any evidence of "Rabbit Fever" even being a real thing. IF (I stress the if) the man is talking about coccidiosis, I am confident that I have researched the potential danger thoroughly and I am further confident that I am taking the appropriate steps to avoid it.

Sadly, Mr. Stomps-the-Earth doesn't care to hear any of this. I tried to politely tell him that I have researched the subject, and that I know of other reliable people who keep rabbits on the ground (namely Polyface Farms!), but he was adamant.

This whole thing actually started the other day, when Earnest invaded my home while I wasn't there and attempted to bully my husband about my farming practices. Tim tells me that he brought his young (20-something) nephew with him, and that both men looked startled and a little put out when my door was answered by the hottest man alive (*ahem* ...my addition to the story, obviously). Apparently they were hoping I was some sort of lonely single mom in need of much fatherly (and not so fatherly...?) advice.

I saw the little man today, as I was trying to unlock a door at the family life center for my Tai chi group. Unfortunately, Earnest uses the same building at close to the same time. If I make it to class early, he is usually there to dive-bomb me like an angry carpenter bee (loud and obnoxious, but no stinger...clever parallel, eh?), grilling me on one subject or another.

"Well Rose, I came over to see the rabbits!" Earnest announced, as if the rabbits were already certainly his, and as if he had actually been invited to inspect them.

"Yesss, I heard about that...my husband told me  - "

"You know you can't keep 'em on the ground, Rose." The voice at my elbow interrupted.

"Well you see," I tried to explain; "I've done some research, and I'm moving them every day, and there are actually people who do keep them on the ground - "

"WELL," Earnest once again trampled my lame attempts at enlightened conversation; "You just can't keep 'em on the ground. It's called Rabbit Fever, and my grandfather got it, and his cousin died from it!"

At this point I was walking to the other door to unlock it, and Earnest was following me somewhat anxiously, realizing I think that his protests did not carry the weight he had assumed they would. I gave my condolences for the cousin, and refused to carry the argument any further.

He was either in a hurry, or he got the point because he soon stomped off, bellowing over his shoulder: "BYE! IT WAS NICE TO SEE YOU, ROSE!!", as if volume would further enforce the fact that he likes me and only wanted to "help".

He is a character, for sure.

Next thing I know he'll be telling me I can't shoot wild rabbits for eating. Or deer, for that matter. Or that I can't feed my children raw milk. Or any other weird aspect of my life that clashes with his own.

At any rate, if any of my readers have any knowledge of the mysterious "Rabbit Fever", please do tell! I have yet to find any information on it and I would really like to find out what it is, if possible. Mostly I just needed to get this story out in writing; I think to remind myself that I am, in fact, a grown-up and I can take Earnest's advice or leave it, no matter how abrasively it is given!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Housekeeping

I've never been a good housekeeper.

It is a lack of skill that brings me continual grief.

Now, I could go into all kinds of excuses for my non-talent in this area. I could say that I have three children under the age of 6 who are constantly undermining my efforts. I could say that I have had a number of health problems in the last 5 years that have been difficult to recover from and have left me with an energy deficit that makes cleaning arduous. I could say that I'm just too overwhelmed, I have too much going on, that the messes of 5 people are just too much for 1 person to clean up.

But really, that doesn't quite pinpoint the actual truth.

The truth is; I didn't listen to my mother when I was younger.

(Hi, mom! *waving* :P)

I didn't understand the purpose behind making my bed if I preferred laying in crumpled sheets. I didn't understand the benefit of putting things up on a shelf when it was easier to let them drop to the floor. I cultivated an unkempt corner of my room with reckless abandon. What's more, I loved being a "night owl", and created a deeply-ingrained habit of late nights and noon wakings.

Bottom line: I was lazy.

I could get into all the how's and why's of this particular flaw in my character, but that would be boring. The facts are that it IS a flaw, despite what I might have convinced myself of in previous years, and it is one that I struggle with to this day.

Unhealthy habits are hard ones to break, let me tell you.

To say that I am overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do would be only halfway true. I do get overwhelmed, BUT...over the years I have found that unless I have a constant stream of never-ending work to do, I revert back to my inherent laziness.

If I don't have enough to do, I get bored. If I don't have a large enough variety of things to do, I get bored.

Let's face it, dirty dishes are boring. Laundry is boring. But if I have certain enjoyable things interspersed amongst the boring chores, it helps relieve the drudgery. Dishes, then rabbits, then laundry, then taking kids swimming, then reading, then mopping, then vacuuming, then cooking, then napping, etc. etc. etc.

Also, having really enthusiastic children helps too. My kids will take rags and attack a dirty toilet like none other (also, they LOVE squirting cleaner onto...well, everything). Then I don't have to do it (yeeecchh), they learn valuable skills, and they have fun with it too. I do have to avert my eyes while they do it because honestly, using anything other than rubber gloves and copious amounts of paper towels while cleaning a toilet grosses. Me. Out. But that's just me being squeamish. There's nothing actually wrong with cleaning the old fashioned way (with slave labor! wait...).

SO. Here's my list of tips for anybody else who struggles with laziness and keeping a clean house. Hope somebody finds it useful!



1. Work really damn hard.

2. Get up early. Late nights are NOT worth it!

3. Let your kids help. I cannot stress enough how important this one is, both from a parenting perspective, and a life's-better-with-company perspective!

4. Get a shop-vac for your house. Seriously. They clean up anything. Household vacuum cleaners aren't worth a crap compared to these babies!

5. Make lists. If I do something that's not on my list, I write it on my list so that I can put that infinitely-satisfying line through it. Ahhh. Accomplishment.

6. Get shelves. I like the industrial-styled shelves from Lowe's, personally. I'm not a naturally organized person, so these have helped me immensely by giving me a ready-made place to put things. Also, my house doesn't have a lot of built-in storage space. The kitchen has a lot of shelves, but most of them are out of reach for a shorty like me. I reserve those for storing things like extra mason jars (you can never have too many!!) or things that I don't use on a daily basis.

7. Work Really Damn Hard. Seriously. Just do it. Don't give up. Do it, cross those bitches off the list, and feel powerful. Character flaws do NOT have to be permanent. I might be a poor housekeeper, but I'm going to be the poor housekeeper who tries the hardest. Which brings us to number eight...

8. I'm getting off the computer now. I wish you all shining success and unbeatable attitudes!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

'Fred and Cordy

I LOVE MY BUNNIES!!

chillin' after gorging themselves...


Guys. I mean seriously. They are SO ADORABLE.

I've been gradually switching their feed portions so that they are now on mostly forage and hay. They still LOVE their pellets (I only give them about 1/4 cup or less a day now), but I always give them forage first to make sure they get the most out of that! And lemme tell you, they pretty much pig out on everything. Which is awesome. I have so many weeds/herbs out in my yard and garden and having these gals to eat it all has been awesome motivation for me to get out and weed every day. Ha! Two birds with one stone.

a few of the choicest selections...wild lettuce and sunflower...


...clover and blackberry...
 
 
...and dandelion, of course!

And no joke, they are ready to storm the door every time I bring them a big plate of goodies. I've been kind of surprised by the huge amount they've been downing, actually. It makes me worry a little that I'm not giving them enough! But their energy levels are up for sure since I got them, and they are becoming much bolder around me as well. I have high hopes of taming them completely with my bunny-whisperer skills in the next couple of weeks. ;D

They haven't had any weird changes in their stools with the diet adjustment, so I'm really pleased about that. The first day I thought I saw some loose stools, but I think they must have just gotten stepped on or something, because when I checked the droppings the next morning they were all cute and round and...well, normal. Sorry for talking about poop so much, y'all. It's just what I do.

waiting for the fennel to get bigger, but I'm sure it will be a favorite...
 

comfrey, already a favorite! 


purslane, possibly MY all-time favorite green. No, I'm not sharing.
 
Oh! Did I show you? Baby blackberries!! So exciting!

And here's my baby lemon tree...that I grew from seed...because I'm awesome...and my baby walnut tree, that Enoch has ripped up about a thousand times and it has still managed to survive...because it's awesome...


I think my Echinacea is going to escape its pot one of these days...

Scarlet Runner Beans! They're blooming! Prettiest color EVER!
 
(ahem. sorry for the impromptu garden tour. I get easily distracted.)



It's amazing to me how different the rabbits' personalities are. Winifred seems to be the more aggressive of the two. She'll come over and head butt my hand if I hold onto her greens for longer than she deems necessary. Which just tickles me to death!

Cordelia is a little more reserved in general, but she looooves her sunflower leaves and will just about leap out onto my lap to get them. I'm so very encouraged to see them thriving like this! I was worried the first couple of days because they were almost completely uninterested in veg of any variety. Except comfrey. That's been a favorite since day one! But really. They've gone from half-hearted nibbling to full on devouring in the space of a week. Pretty grand!

Another thing I've been doing is putting apple cider vinegar (the real deal, complete with "the mother"...no walmart brand stuff!) in their water. I read from numerous sources (can't remember them now, my bad) that this was a good idea. I tend to put it in either their bottle OR their dish and not both, just in case they feel like having plain water instead of fancy water. Oh, except it is always filtered water. Ain't no crappy chemical-filled city water going into MY bunnies! Ah. Yes. I can be a little bit obsessive. Did I mention I've been going out to feed them three times a day? *cough*...moving on...

I'm also keeping a bunny-calendar (I happened to have a spare) so that I can remember when I got them, how old they are, any changes I notice and when they happen, etc. And I'm going to get a big bunny binder later on so that I can keep track of *ahem* mating schedules, gestations, litters (BABIES! BABIES YOU GUYS, THERE ARE GOING TO BE BABY BUNNIES!!! SHRIEK!!), genealogy, and whatnot. I'm having way too much fun.

The big question is: Should I call these my "Bunny Books" or "Rabbit Records"? Or perhaps "Lagomorph Logs"?



Shared on the Homestead Barn Hop and the HomeAcre Hop!

Monday, June 2, 2014

History

"Rose, you have to shave your legs."

"What do you mean, you accidentally fell in the pond and went swimming?"

"Once you have a boyfriend, you'll act differently."

"(Laughing) You're probably the only 15 year old girl in town who would touch that (nightcrawler)."

"She's a tomboy."

"A late bloomer."

"You're weird!"



None of these remarks ever bothered me much. I sort of thrived off of them, actually. Unbeknownst to those who spoke them, they fed my inner rebellion. You see, I had two categories in my mind. One was labeled "Dumb" and the other was "Awesome/Fun/Waybetterthandumb". In the former category I filed things like bras, shaving, makeup, sex, tights, dresses, and the color pink. The latter included but was not limited to: fishing, camping, bows and arrows, climbing, mud, creepy crawlies, snakes, and beating boys at arm wrestling.

The various claims and hopes that I would change as I grew older only encouraged the fire of defiance I was continually building. Me? Change? Never. Change meant that I would become something else. Someone else. Different. Foreign. Adult.

I didn't want to be different. Different than Awesome? That would be Dumb. Therefore I will not be it. Welcome to the simplicity of my mind. My conviction remained unshaken.

I continued in this way for years, eventually slowing in my enthusiasm for life and reaching a point of gross stagnation. It became obvious to me that change of some sort was needed if I was ever to reclaim my old vigor. Still, the what-do-I-do's and how-do-I-do-it's of this mysterious transformation continually eluded me. How to change when change itself has been loathed for so long? Are there perhaps different categories, different types of change? How to find the right one?

Then along came...Him. The one who took one look at me and determined to marry me immediately. Only, it wasn't how I thought it would be. He didn't want the different me, the one I had determined never to be. The one who had a boyfriend and shaved her legs and cared about decent human hygiene. He just wanted...me. Dirty, ridiculous, unkempt, stubborn, unladylike me. And oh, how the Old Me loved him! I showered him with affection in the only forms I knew...mainly by demanding piggyback rides and putting frogs on his head.

And he STILL loved me. :P

Needless to say, I married him at once. He was so much more Awesome than the most Awesome thing I had ever imagined. He redefined everything in my life, becoming a sort of new category in my mind that superseded the old categories. Everything in the old "Awesome" category now becomes MORE awesome when filed under "Tim/Husband/MostAwesomestEver". Most of the things in the "Dumb" category become awesome ONLY as they apply to Tim (*ahem*, shaving, cute dresses, etc.). If the previously Dumb things fall outside of the Tim category, they are still just as Dumb as they ever were.

I have changed more in the past few years than I ever thought possible. It has been painful, oh-so painful at times. And yet, all of it has been so, so good. My life has bloomed into something beautiful. Flowers came out of the mud, so to speak. And I am the same, only different.

Thank you, My Love, for loving me better than any human ever has. Happy anniversary month!! Many more mushy posts to come, I'm sure. You have been warned. ;D