Things around here have been plodding along. Nothing really new to report, other than a bit of news I'll share at the end of this post. I wondered about days like this before I even started this blog. Days where things are just ... normal. I'm sure our version of normal isn't everyone's cup of tea, just as I don't feel monkey spit coffee is "the best part of waking up" and meeting the Queen of England wouldn't be my idea of a good time. But I guess the whole point of a blog is for a sneak peak into other's lives. That's why I read the blogs I like. Yes, for hints and tips and recipes and reassurance that I'm not the only one who feels failure at a lack of guinea fowl giftedness or is seriously considering burying underwear.
Are you a farmer? Are you a smallholder? A prepper? A homesteader? And how do you know?
I've been considering these titles as of late, after lurking on a Facebook group, "listening in" on a public debate over whether homesteaders can call themselves "farmers." And what constitutes a farmer.
The past couple of weeks have been all about knitting. I'd love to say that I'd finished up a few projects that are on my needles, but truthfully I am a slow knitter. It takes me forever just to whip out a scarf or a hat or something. I see people just clicking along at lightening speed and I envy their yarn magic. Who can compete with this?
Anyway, I'm trying to get through my first pair of knit socks, which has been fun to knit and has been a dream knit of mine for a long time. I was always very apprehensive about trying it, because quite frankly, it looks FREAKING HARD. But, as I flitted from one pattern to the next, convincing myself that I had to have the "perfect" pattern to even start, I realized I was wasting time. So I joined the Winwick Sockalong on Facebook, picked up my short circulars and got down to business.
First time doing socks, first time using a short circular needle, a lot of firsts. It will also be the last time I use this yarn. As much as I dig the color, it splits so easily and has already had two knots in the skein. Boo.
At the rate I'm going, I figure this pair of socks will be ready just in time for FF Boy's high school graduation. Just kidding. But not really.
The other thing I've been working on is a sheep throw made from individual squares that I'll knit together. I found a cute sheep dishcloth pattern and thought with heavier, worsted weight yarn, it might make a really cute blankie for the upcoming birth of a friend's baby. So I'm knitting up squares as furiously as my little hands will agree (though admittedly, they are a little sore after using those tiny needles for the socks). I figure about 15 or so blocks and then I'll stop to block the squares and piece it all together. Or maybe I will continue making squares ad nauseum and FF will have me committed.
Either way, I won't be letting that time go to waste (provided they let me have knitting needles in the psych ward. Which I doubt. Plastic maybe? Do they make rubber knitting needles? These are the questions I ask myself.)
What projects are you working on? Do you see an end in sight? Will you be joining me in an adjacent, padded walled room?
I spoke with a woman over the weekend who was considering getting a few ducks for her granddaughter to raise. While I wholeheartedly applaud anyone who wants to bring these incredibly entertaining creatures home, I must admit I wondered if she knew what she was getting herself into.
When we first got ducks, I had no idea. I figured "Hey, we've got chickens.They can't be too different." I was about as wrong as maternity Spanx (which I just learned is a real, actual THING. WTF?)
Chickens and ducks ARE different. Very different. And also a lot alike. In the same way that Santa Claus and that clown from Stephen King's "It" are different sure, but still ... kinda alike.
When you think of a good, hearty, homemade breakfast, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Eggs. Delicious, firm white outsides with a creamy bright yellow center.
We got back from my sheep shearing classes to find what was left after a neighbor's dog paid a little visit to the farm.
After parking the truck, we stepped out to find our beloved FaFa duck's cold, stiff, lifeless body on the driveway. We were stunned but there was more to come. FF's first thought was to the babies, so he hurried to the barn to check on them. We've had freezing temperatures here for the past two days, so the younger ones were penned in the barn with a heater to keep them nice and warm. Luckily, all baby duckies and one chick were accounted for and in good health.
The same could not be said for the rest of our flock. Dead chickens behind the barn, under the carport, behind the grill. Ducks with broken wings, pitifully limping. It was just too much.
FF immediately started repairing the fence while I bundled the kids and got them into the house (all while marching them blindly past FaFa duck's body). Thankfully, it was already dark and cold, so the kids never saw her and I got them safely inside the house. Then the task began to unload the rental car, get the kids to bed, check on the rest of the flock and do what we could in the dark and cold. 27 degrees, y'all.
The next morning, we went out to assess the situation in the realness that only daylight brings. Let's just say the situation looked a lot better in the dark. We salvaged what was left and did what we could for our flock, but in the end, I suspect we will have to lose our more seriously injured farm companions.
Honestly, I'm at a loss for words, which if you know me, is rare. Homesteading teaches us so many things each day. Each day's lesson, painful or not, brings me ever closer to certainty on the lifestyle we've chosen.
We try to make sure all of the animals live a stress-free, happy life and have a pain-free but inevitable death. But I couldn't help but feel as if we failed poor Fafa duck.
We told the kids over breakfast what happened. FF Boy's response was silence, a tinge of sadness crossed his brow, and then that beautiful, sweet, doughnut sugar-covered face suddenly lit up. "Maybe we can hatch another Fafa duck again?"
There will never be another Fafa, or Thelma and Louise, or the Conductor, or Carl. But our farm, and what they contributed to it, will last with us forever.
When we were childless, FF and I rarely made a big deal out of Christmas. We had the one, obligatory, Charlie Brown tabletop Christmas tree. That was pretty much it. We both liked the holiday, but it is a bit too much decorating for us. And more importantly, too much taking down of decorations.
But of course, like everything else, having children means making more holly for the jollying on Christmas. So this year we put up the Christmas tree, made Christmas cookies, drank egg nog (except FF, who hates it), and generally made good on the promise to be "the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse."
Remember salivating over the Sears Wish Book catalog as a kid, circling all of the things you wanted for Christmas? Yeah, that's totally happening right now.
Well ... so much for our pumpkins.
The ducks and chickens have demolished our blueberry bushes, made dirt baths out of our potted sage and thyme, and happily ate their fill of our beans. And now, just to make sure they've got all of the major food groups represented (or at least the ones they like), they've eaten all of the leaves off the fairytale pumpkins.
We've tried everything: fencing, replacing, sitting potted plants up high, putting them in hard to reach places, threatening the ducks with no dinner and a time out. Free-ranging can be a royal pain in the ass.
Now it looks like FF is hard at work to try and get more fencing so that, just maybe we can move the incredible, edible egg layers to another part of the farmette - far away from any growing things that we might actually - you know - want to eat.
About a week and a half ago, I applied for a position in the Texas A&M Agrilife sheep shearing school. Do we have sheep? No. Have we ever owned sheep? None. Have I ever sheared a sheep? Nope. How many animals have I sheared? Nada. Have I even shaved anyone's head? Sort of.
I'm the wife of a Fledgling Farmer(FF) and mom to Fledgling Farmer Boy(FFB) and Fledgling Farmer Girl(FFG).