Sometimes social media gives me grand ideas. Okay, so sometimes it gets me in trouble, too, but I don’t mean for it to happen. It just…does. Usually it’s Pinterest. Fantastic ideas at the click of a button right there! Well, a few weeks ago it happened to be Facebook. You see, there I was…innocently scrolling through posts…and then I land on one from a friend with a picture of her geese. They were beautiful, and further investigative reading was needed on what she wrote. They happened to be a breed of geese I’ve been drooling over at the poultry show for years. Well, come to find out, she was wanting to rehome them. I swear I heard angelic music from above while sparkles rained down from the sky, lighting up my computer screen. I couldn’t help it. I just had to see if they were still available, so I quickly posted my interest in bringing them here. I also made sure to call Hon and ask him if he minded. I figured it was best to say something instead of doing the, “Wow, where did those geese in the pasture come from?” routine. I also figured I didn’t want to put him over the edge seeing as I had taken down a wall in the kitchen and did a bit of cabinet and appliance moving around while he was backpacking a bit ago. Leave me without supervision and who knows what’ll happen, you know?!
Anyway, the deal was that I could bring the geese home because he knew I was going to be downsizing the young American Buff geese be it by reselling to a farm or to a nearby freezer. I was so excited! Arrangements were made with my friend, and Eldest went with me to pick them up. Eldest and I had a nice drive together, it was wonderful to visit with Shay and see her farm, and then we began our drive back.
The geese have been here for around 1 ½ weeks now and they’re settling in nicely. I’m crossing my fingers we’ll have goslings from them in the spring. You see, they are Dewlap Toulouse geese. Another heritage breed, and one that is a bit bigger than our American Buffs. Oh, I’m still loving on Moe, Alice, Frick, and Barbie. They’re not going anywhere, and I look forward to more of their goslings in the spring again, too. However, having a larger breed of goose also gives more of a size variety as we expand into selling goose for folks and their holiday meals.
Oh, did I tell you a doose came with them? Hmmm, I didn’t think so. Well, the doose came, too. He’s a Pekin and the geese are his family. You see, here at The Silver Maple Farm we don’t just have chickens, ducks, and geese. Oh no no! We also have chucks, gucks, and now a doose. Chucks are the chickens that think they’re ducks. Frick is our guck, or goose that thinks she’s a duck, and now we have a doose, who is, yep, you got it, a duck that thinks it’s a goose. It really does all make sense if you think about it. Shay said the geese and doose were all raised together, so there’s no way I could leave the little guy without his family. He’s adjusting pretty well, too, happily walking all over with them, swimming on the pond, enjoying their new farm. We love all of our animals, confused or not.
So, there you have it. A trio of Dewlap Toulouse geese and their doose-friend. We’ve named the gander Mr. Big Stuff, the gray goose Vodka, and the buff goose Angel. If you hear me talk about Biggie Smalls, that’s the doose because he’s a big goose at heart. Beginning later this week we’ll also be selling processed Certified Naturally Grown goose from our farm for a delicious addition to your upcoming holiday meal. All the information on them will be on our website. They are being processed right here on our farm with the help of our friend Christen, of Slate Creek Farm, who is just up the road. We are going to be adding processed pigeon (squab) and duck next year, too. Big things are happening at The Silver Maple Farm! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
It’s simple math, Really. You take two ganders and two geese, let them do their magic to produce goslings, and there will be mayhem.
In hindsight, I suppose the mayhem started last year with Frick and Barbie. Frick was a boy and Barbie was a girl. Everything was right at The Silver Maple. Then spring came and Frick was found sitting on an egg. I did a double take at it and then figured surely, he’s just confused…or keeping some of Barbie’s eggs warm while she went galavanting around. Barbie, on the other hand, also looked to be laying eggs in the barn in one spot, while Alice hadn’t begun laying in her usual place yet. I hadn’t actually seen Barbie laying them, but *pft* what else could have been happening?!
After a few weeks, I had a sneaking suspicion…okay, I had to finally admit that something was amiss in the goose/gander sexing department. I couldn’t deny it anymore. I kept hearing Steven Tyler sing “Dude Looks Like A Lady” in my mind. It seemed Frick was determined to lay eggs and hatch out goslings. We had discussions about it, but it didn't matter. He was actually a she. Out were the days of calling Frick things like “Mr. Frick” and “Frick-A-Saurus.” In came the days of saying “Miss Frick and “Frick-A-Licious-Frick-A-Saur.” Then there’s Barbie. Barbie wasn’t laying the eggs in the barn like I had thought. It was Alice. She decided to give a few spots a try with eggs before settling on her regular nesting area. So, Barbie was officially a boy. Again, cue Steven Tyler singing. GAH!
Now, back to the mayhem of things. Between Frick and Alice, we have 13 goslings running around. A group of geese is called a gaggle, by the way, but around here it’s more like a posse of mayhem with Barbie and Moe in the lead.
Nothing is safe, whether it be bags of mulch they rip open or plants in pots they pull up. Everything falls under their jurisdiction. Nothing escapes their attention. Sadly, I forgot that this morning.
There I was, sitting on the patio, happily planting seeds in trays and labeling the rows for fall vegetables…spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage… My stomach told me it was time for lunch so I left what I was doing and went inside. Didn’t think anything of it. Then…I heard the chaos.
When I looked out the window I saw geese of various ages standing around my trays, two standing on top of them. They were pulling the labels out, tossing them aside, then sticking their faces in the dirt, grabbing whatever they could with their mouths and dumping it out. Then there were others that decided to play bobbing for strawberry plants that were rooting in a tub of water, grabbing those and tossing them onto the grass. It was mayhem! I should have known better.
It’s now a mystery what kinds of seeds the trays hold, if they hold seeds at all, or if I’ll be trying to grow dirt for a few weeks before I realize cups are empty. I suppose it’ll make things interesting…not that we’re ever really boring around here anyway.
So, there you have it folks. Feathered mayhem. Oh, and while I’m thinking on it, we can’t keep all the mayhem. Mayhem of this size will create even more mayhem in the spring and my plants won’t survive the insanity. Therefore, we’ll be offering Certified Naturally Grown holiday goose this fall. Only CNG goose you’ll find in the great state of Ohio that I know of. Then come spring we’ll find Moe, Alice, Frick, and Barbie raising a new batch of mayhem. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I cried this morning. I visited social media to catch up with friends, acquaintances and complete strangers and cried tears of sadness instead of tears of joy or tears from laughing so hard at something that struck me funny. Why, you ask? What would make me cry out of sadness and then come here and tell a story about it when I’m an upbeat and humorous person? What would inspire me to tell you an actual serious story and not one full of humor and farm life? The elections yesterday. Not only that, but the precursor to the elections and its aftermath. I know, seems awful dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, to some it may be, but I cried. Hold on tight. This may be a long one.
You see, we are privileged to live in an awesome country. I truly believe it. We live in the United States of America. Our country was founded on the blood, sweat and tears of thousands upon thousands of people. No, not all aspects of the founding were good. Not everything leading up to today has been puppy dogs and rainbows. Many suffered and continue to suffer. Others didn’t suffer in the beginning but do now. Some have never had to suffer. Whatever the case may be, we still live together, breathe the same air, and should be finding ways to work together, not tear each other apart.
It seems as social media becomes more popular, if that’s even possible, it’s also become a monster, the elephant in the room, the place where people feel safe to judge, belittle and say things they would never in a million years say to someone’s face. I get that it’s a person’s right to say what they feel. I understand that you want your voice heard. I like to be heard, too. My question though is where does it end? Where do you draw the line? Do you even have a line or is it only important that you say what you want to say without thinking first of the potential consequences, without using your judgment? I’ve read how it’s a person’s “wall” and they can say what they want, how they don’t care about another person’s views, how they are offended that someone has the gall to have a different view. Rational discussions seem to have flown out the window and into judgment land.
Yesterday’s election was what I consider to be the roughest I’ve had the privilege to participate in. From when I was a child and my parents took me with them to vote in the big voting booths that had curtains and all the levers, to the first time I had the honor of casting my vote by filling in a circle on a ballot, to yesterday’s election where our eldest son and I went together for him to vote in his first Presidential election, it was the roughest. I was never so happy as to see 7:00 p.m. arrive on the West Coast when all of the polls were officially closed.
Pre-election mud-slinging usually goes on between candidates, which is expected due to the nature of the beast they are trying to conquer. Money rules the airwaves and fuels the audience fires. There seem to be no bounds when it comes to many running for office, although I have seen some do it with grace and integrity. I wonder for many where their morals come in. What has happened to giving the facts and thereby the audience’s ability to make up their own minds? I know you want to make a story juicier. Heck, look at my stories. I want to paint a picture the way I see it in my mind. I do it, however and in my opinion, with at least an ounce of integrity and morals.
I have seen friends and acquaintances cut off all ties because of hurt feelings and views that are not the same with regard to the election. I have seen arguments and fights over opposing views. I have seen people get hurt. All of this makes me hurt physically and emotionally. It makes me cry. I understand everyone has a right to their views, but where is your personal line or do you not have one?
Not all my views are the same as my friends and neighbors. Do I judge, belittle, and disassociate with them? No. I find value in each of my friends and acquaintances. I find value in strangers. Regardless of us not seeing eye-to-eye on everything I value them in more ways than I care to list in this novel I am writing. I have found being the non-partisan in the room to be a blessing in my relationships…which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the arguments that have ensued in my head…or that I don’t enjoy a rational discussion. Agreeing to disagree is a-okay.
This morning I knew there would be hatred on social media. Given the state of the pre-elections and on election day, I knew post-election mayhem would ensue. I just didn’t think it would be as bad as it is or affect me so much. People who have been dissatisfied with our country and left, people who are here and are saying they are going to leave, people who will stay and continue to voice their dissatisfaction instead of find even a shred of silver lining, people who do not live here and voice ugliness and hatred… When will they be ready to move on and work together, stop being afraid, angry? We can’t all get our way, but we can come together and find some assembly of balance.
In the personal opinion of this middle aged strawberry blond slowly going grey wife mother and small time farmer, we need to find unity. We should come together as a country and work together. No, not everyone I selected to hold office was chosen. That’s okay with me. I’m really okay with it. In fact, it doesn’t matter to anyone as far as I’m concerned who I did and did not vote for because I value working with what we have and within the confines we are given to make our country great in whatever way I am able. Please note, and from what I can think back on as I type this, I have not shown favoritism towards any candidate, elected or not. My vote on issues is a matter of public record, but I will not voice it to the masses. Why, you ask? Because my voice has been heard in the way it should be, by casting my ballot, by being a proud citizen of the United States of America, by instilling the importance of participation in our children. It weighed differently with each vote I cast, but it was heard. I am important…and so are you.
Folks, we are not a country that was founded with sprinkles on our ice cream sundaes and pretty ponies in all of our pastures. We are a country founded on blood, sweat, and tears. No, we will not all get along, although it sure would be nice. No, we do not all have the same views. We are diverse. We have opinions, loves, hates, and wants. We need to pick ourselves up by our proverbial bootstraps and work together to be who and what we want to be. Why? Because we are the United State of America. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
You're minding your own business, cleaning out the chicken/guinea/ducks that think they're chickens coop because happy chickens and company make for a happy farmer...and the farmer would be even happier if the chickens would lay eggs, but that's a story for another day I suppose.
Anyway, coop. You're cleaning the coop of it's nasty splodge. You finish with hauling the yuck out and you are now into the nicer task of spreading clean straw. You go to the little silo where the straw is stored and find that there's just enough straw left in the open bale to put in the coop.
You finish that task and then move on to the next, which is cleaning out the ducks who know they're ducks/a goose that thinks it's a duck/geese house. Before you head over there, since it's in the other field, you stop by the little silo to get the straw on the way. You glance up at the stack of straw that's quite a bit taller than you, but figure by flailing your arms around and standing on your toes you'll be able to snag the corner of one and maneuver it down. *pft* Who needs a ladder, right? Besides, no one is going to see, and if they do they probably wouldn't think of it as being out of the norm around here.
You jump up, catching the corner of a bale by your finger tips, watching as it quickly starts to wobble on it's side to fall down in a near miss with your body. As this is happening you notice something starting to slide off the top of the straw bale. In the slow motion action that instills in your mind, it looks to be long and stick-like...but not. There's no stopping the horror.
Because you've been flailing around and your arms are still up in the air trying to steady the bale so it doesn't conk you on the head, that loose v-neck t-shirt you're wearing has come down in front more and has gaped at the bottom of the V. The snake plunks onto your baseball cap, slides down it from the side of the brim, catches your t-shirt's V neck and then...because nothing else can go wrong with the situation...slides into your shirt. You don't exactly know whose more mortified, but you're guessing yourself.
Thankfully you didn't tuck your shirt in. The snake slides clean through, lands on the floor, and slithers away under the straw bales...hopefully to contemplate it's choice of homes, pack up and move.
After you've stopped freaking out over the situation you decide not to share the experience with your family. If you do, you know they'll use it as an excuse to not only leave coop cleaning to anyone but themselves, but also torment you with for the rest of your days. As you're typing this story to share with non-family members, your eldest sees your story and starts laughing and says, "No way, that did NOT happen!", like I'd make something like this up. He tells your youngest, who then wears a look of horror on his face and says how disgusting the situation was and how he's glad he wasn't out there. I don't think he'll be going into the little silo any time soon. So, there you have it folks. Snake. A short story. The End. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Disclaimer - No farmers or snakes were harmed in the process of this harrowing tale. The picture of the snake is one that had been seen last week at The Silver Maple Farm and is not related to the gardener snake in this story.
Some folks say Pinterest is a social media site that can hook you for hours, and I don't disagree. I occasionally find myself there, wading through picture upon picture of all sorts of things to dream about...and terrify Hon with if it involves me using tools. On occasion Facebook can do the same thing, and that's where this all began. Because of Rose.
A few days ago a gal I know who I'll call Rose, and may or may not actually possess that particular name, posted a picture of some window cleaner she found to work fabulously. Gave it a rave review. I read her post, looked out our window, re-read her post and then squinted while again looking out our window. The word "ick" came to mind. I keep a clean house, especially the kitchen. It's the windows I tend to ignore.
I thought about Rose's window cleaner post all weekend. All. Weekend. Even when I was in Louisville with Eldest at a pigeon show I thought about that window cleaner post. Okay, not so much that particular cleaner, but the fact that her windows were clean and mine were, well, ick. I decided to remedy that situation yesterday.
There I was, drinking my coffee at the counter, looking out the kitchen windows and thinking I suppose I should do something about those before it gets cold. You know, because of Rose and her window cleaning post. I finished my coffee and decided to get busy. After digging through the cleaning supply cabinet I found the window cleaner. Not the fabulous kind she raved about, but something that I knew would do the job.
I washed the windows over the kitchen sink inside and amazingly outside too, thanks to nifty windows that let me do it without having to go out. After I stepped back and admired my work, the sun shining brightly into the kitchen, I noticed that the windowsill could use a bit of a cleaning...because of Rose and her clean window post. I took everything off the windowsill, washed it off, then put everything back. As the sunlight streamed through the sparkly windows and bounced off the shiny clean windowsill I noticed the reflection on the appliances didn't look so nice any more...because of Rose and her clean window post. I decided to continue on and clean the appliances. After that I took a step back to admire the sunlight streaming through sparkly clean windows, bouncing off the shiny clean windowsill, ricocheting off the dazzling appliances, and then over to the other side of the kitchen to highlight those dirty windows. You guessed it, I then cleaned them...because of Rose and her clean window post.
After I cleaned the windows on the other side of the kitchen, admiring the sunlight streaming through sparkly windows on both sides of the kitchen, bouncing off clean windowsills and appliances, my eyes landed on the hutch and my grandmother's milk glass collection, all of which kind of looked sad because so many other things were sparkly clean...because of Rose and her clean window post. I dusted the hutch off, washed and dried the milk glass, set it all back and admired the view. It looked so nice, the sunlight streaming through sparkly windows, bouncing off clean windowsills, reflecting off dazzling appliances, a dust free hutch and grandma's gleaming milk glass....because of Rose and her clean window post.
As I continued my gaze around the kitchen my eyes stopped at the cabinets. They just looked sad because they hadn't been cleaned too. All I could do was press on...cleaning the cabinets so they, too, were sparkly clean...because of Rose and her clean window post.
At that point a good portion of the day was gone...me spending so much time in the kitchen and I wasn't even baking! I may or may not have still had my pajamas on. Eldest decided to have some fun and put his finger on a sparkly clean window *eek* and then proceed to tell me I missed a spot. He then found himself vacuuming the family room. After that he thought it would be funny to point to other sparkly clean windows and show me the spots I "missed." He cleaned the bathroom. Because he thought it would be fun to continue poking the bear, the kitchen floor was swept and the garbage was taken out.
By the time Hon got home I was stick a fork in me done. I ushered him into the kitchen to marvel at the sparkly clean windows. I dazzled him with the clean windowsills. I amazed him with the gleaming appliances. The cabinets in all their shining glory were also pointed out. If I had a white glove I'd have considered doing the glove test on the hutch and milk glass. I even talked to him about some ideas I had from a foray on Pinterest a while ago to make some pendant lights for the kitchen. I think that made him a bit nervous seeing as that will involve me using tools and electricity, but in the end I think it will be fabulous....because of Rose and her clean window post.
So there you have it folks. My usually clean kitchen is now cleaner than ever because of Rose and her magnificent clean window post. When I was getting ready for bed last night I mentally calculated how many windows and door windows I had left to clean. Twenty. *eek* Twenty to go. Well, since getting up this morning I cleaned a whopping three windows, the front door and it's storm door, none of which have led me off the rails and into other cleaning endeavors, but it's that much less to do. It seems nature's creatures are happy with the sparkly windows too, because since yesterday's clean-fest the outside of the kitchen windows are full of Asian Lady Beetles trying to find a way inside and messing them up with this stinky yellow substance they trail around, and a Golden Garden Spider has decided to take up residency in a new web complete with leaves sticking to it. . Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Have you ever done something that you never thought you'd do? You take care of something meticulously and then in a moment of weirdness you lose all sense of what's going on and that item you have taken such care of suddenly finds itself in a situation it shouldn't be in?
So you all know that Young'un has a small two-beehive apiary, right? He's beginning his third year with it and is so excited about selling some honey at the Chillicothe Farmers Market this year. He's even more excited that he's been able to raise his bees naturally, without synthetic chemicals, and is hoping to have his apiary Certified Naturally Grown, just like our livestock and produce.
Here's the thing with his bees ~ his original hive is nice. That hive of bees came from Dan Williams of Williams Honey Bees here in Frankfort. They get a bit of an attitude on occasion, but for the most part I don't feel like I'm risking life and limb while I stand there as Young'uns sidekick in my false sense of security suit trying to help get the job done. The second hive, on the other hand, must have bred with bee spawn from Hades. That hive came from the first swarm we caught a few years ago and had raised it's own queen.
Young'un and I went out to do some hive maintenance because that's just part of what you do when you're a beekeeper...or the sidekick, as in my case. It was a beautiful day. Young'un just puts his suit on over whatever clothing he's wearing. Me, oh nonono. I have on heavy jeans, a long sleeve shirt, a jean jacket, and a baseball cap under mine. I also put my cell phone in the bee suit's front pocked so I can call for backup if needed. This all stems from my first false sense of security suit. It was thinner than a t-shirt, which had me feeling every single sting those bees dished out last year without layers on. Along with us being dressed for the occasion, we also had the smoker, lighter, and a few hive tools needed for the job.
When we approached the hive from Hades we did so cautiously. The smoker was lit and Young'un smoked the daylights out of the little pistols as I got the top off the hive pried off. As I opened it I found that it was stuck more than what we usually deal with. The top box had the feeder in it, which we had filled for them earlier, but they weren't wanting to use, so we were going to take it out. I attribute their not wanting the sugar syrup to all the flowers that seem to be doing their thing early this year, a bonus for the bees. Well, when I got the top off I found that they had literally been busy little bees making their own free form comb in there. It was quite a good size considering it hadn't been long since we had been in there. It was actually very neat looking to see, and it was being used for honey storage. As much as we'd have liked to let them continue doing their own decorating, hive maintenance would have been impossible with it sticking to everything.
I began cleaning it out, angry bees flying all around us, Young'un smoking them. I kept telling myself to breathe...remain calm...breathe. I remember reading that they can sense a person's nervousness, so in hindsight I should have done calming exercises beforehand I suppose. Anyway, as I was cleaning and the bees were literally in my face with their little behinds twisting their stingers in the mesh of my hood I noticed the smoker wasn't really smoking much, so I asked Young'un to take a look, relight it...something. Well, that's when the lighter decided it was done. No more. Kaput. There we were ~ no more smoke. Angry bees all around. Both of us messing with their hive. I took a deep breath and decided to persevere. Young'un and I worked quick as we could to get the the job done, the hive put back together, the tools picked up, and us out of there as soon as possible. WHEW!
As we were walking away from the hives we were a mess. Taking the honey comb out kind of had us all sticky...and there was grass and dirty stuck to that. We checked for bees on each other and started peeling off our gloves. When we got to the house I told Young'un I'll just stick everything in the washing machine. As we stood there in the laundry room getting our sticky stuff off I heard a bee buzzing around my neck. I couldn't see it, but it was there. I started running around, flapping my arms. Hon opened the door for me to run out, him behind me to find it. Well, he saw it and started slapping at it instead of trying to pick it out of my hair. Ouch. Hello? That's my neck and head.
When he finally got it out I think I was as irritated as the bee. I stomped into the house, grabbed our bee suits and gloves, put them in the wash, and turned on the machine. Then I went about my business, still annoyed. All of a sudden there was a noise. Kind of like a blunk-blunk-blunk *pause* blunk-blunk-blunk *pause*. I told Young'un I have to have someone come fix the squeak it's making again, but the blunk-blunk-blunk noise was new. I figured maybe the drum was unbalanced so I opened the lid to redistribute our clothes.
As I opened the washer lid it hit me...I didn't take my cell phone out of my pocket. AHHHHHHHH! In all the years we've had cell phones, since bag phones were a hot item in the late '80's, I have always always always taken supreme care of my cell phones. Hon's the dropper, the one that has the ability to ruin one of those heavy duty Otter Box cases. Not me.
I scrambled around in the washer for my false sense of security suit, found the pocket, got my cell phone out, and then try as I might I couldn't get the Otter Box case off of it. Gesh, those suckers are not easy to get into when cell phone life depends on it. I tried it, Hon tried it, and then Eldest was finally able to pry it apart. I lovingly dried my cell phone and watched as the screen flickered all sorts of weird colors and then slipped into a coma. I was devastated.
As I stood there in shock, not knowing what to do, Eldest said he's always read to put it in dry rice and turn it periodically. What did I have to lose, you know? It wasn't looking too good. For days I lovingly rotated my cell phone around in the bowl of rice in hopes of it coming back to me. After three days, just when I was ready to give up, it flickered...then it went back under...so I continued it's rice bath. Next came the miraculous ability to reboot it, at which time my cell phone completely lost charge...but there was still hope. I plugged it in and then I was promptly given an error message that the cord and adapter I had plugged it into weren't the correct ones so it refused to charge. I tried every charger we had and still nothing. I was losing hope. I gently tucked my cell phone back into the bowl of rice figuring I might as well let it go...in the morning...to the store so I could tell my shameful story and see if they could help.
Then...a miracle happened. In the morning I found my cell phone plugged in ~ and charging. Yes! Yesyesyesyesyes!!! Hon said he was going to give it one more go at plugging it in and it just started up, accepted what it was plugged into, and was happily charging away. My cell phone was alive!
So there you have it folks, a cell phone miracle. I've been told many instances of cell phone washing haven't turned out well and mine is one of the fortunate. I've hung a sign up on the washing machine reminding myself to check all pockets to prevent an unfortunate incident like this again. It's kind of like periodically having to put a sign on the toilet to remind the testosterone around here to put the lid down and flush. We do what we have to. The bees are happy, this sidekick is happy, and I'm assume my cell phone is happy to be fully functioning again. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Do you think Hon's going to notice? I really didn't intend on going so far with this project. My intention had been to pry the top of that half wall off to take a peek down inside and see what we'd be dealing with when it came time to move it. I shouldn't have ignored hearing the, "Danger, Will Robinson, danger," mantra going on in my head. You see, that's where the washer and dryer were located until this past weekend when my friend Christen's husband and her brother came over and moved the water and electric lines for them to the back of the kitchen. You know Christen, she's the goat lady down the road that gave me the big bucket of persimmons this past fall. Anyway, Jason and Levi did a fantastic job of moving that stuff and it's just so hard to wait to do some other things in the kitchen now.
While Young'un was eating lunch I got a hammer and screwdriver from the garage, figuring I would take that innocent peek. I pried off the trim and then started on the top board. Then there was another board that I had to take off that was glued and nailed to 2x4 framing boards. GAK! All of those layers were making it impossible for me to take the peek so I asked Eldest to go back to the garage and get me my crowbar. I thought I would sort of gently pry off the drywall on the sides so I could take that peek and quench my curiosity, nailing it back in place afterwards, Hon none the wiser. I know he had said we were going to wait until later in the summer to finally do any major kitchen renovating, but...well...curiosity, you know.
Anyway, Eldest got the crowbar for me and then disappeared after telling me I had better leave it alone or I'm going to make a big mess. *pft* Teenagers. I figured I've got this. So, there I went...carefully prying the drywall off. It was going great...until I pulled a little too hard and the stuff bent and broke. Who knew drywall was so fragile, right?! I stood there kind of stunned, crowbar in hand, wondering what I should do next. I tried to stick the drywall back up, but all it did was flop back down, breaking more, me mumbling a bit of a Scooby Doo "rut-row." At that point I turned to Young'un and said, "Do you think dad is going to notice?" Youngun's response being, "Uh-huh." I told him we'll need to come up with a plausible story that he'll believe. In the end we decided it would be best to not say a thing and just go about our business. Maybe he won't notice...and if he does, maybe he won't say anything. If he does, we figured we'd tell him the wall has always been like that and we just hadn't noticed because of the washer and dryer having been on that wall for so long. He may believe it. Weirder things have happened.
I figured that was the end of it. I couldn't really see inside, even with a flashlight, on account of all the framing and spiderwebs, so I figured I'd just wait. Well, I couldn't do it. Waiting was making me twitch with curiosity. Next thing I knew I took my crowbar and pried the rest of the wallboard off. It's like I was channeling Chip Gains of Fixer Upper...his love of demo days fueling my fire. If I wasn't pulling drywall off I was yanking it off with the crowbar. If I had a full wall of it I'd probably have tried running through it in merriment. When I stopped to really survey my work what I had was a big pile of drywall pieces crumbling around me and a bunch of spider webs, insulation, and a few big bleach bottles that were stuck inside the wall. Bleach bottles? There was an extra piece of pipe that was used for the dryer vent and some old newspapers jammed up in cracks, too. Thankfully no snakes. Seeing those in there would probably have sent me over the edge. Lots of mouse partying evidently had been going on in that wall, but no snakes.
I bagged the drywall pieces and had Eldest take them to the garage. Then he and I took all the wood I was able to pry off outside and set it on the patio...which I suppose in hindsight I should move because all of it laying there will only be an indicator to Hon that something potentially wicked may have been going on before he even gets in the door.
I've cleaned up my mess best I can, and I'm actually quite happy with the work that I accomplished. I'd have done more, but I figure I've seen what's there and then some, and now I should consult with Hon before removing the dryer vent...and then there's the little bit having to do with Jason coming back to cap off those electric and water lines under the kitchen. See, I do think about some of this stuff before it reeeeally gets out of hand. Besides, I may have learned to do a lot over the years, but plumbing and electric aren't included.
So, there you have it folks. My little peek of curiosity turned into a little bit more than I had bargained for. I think I'm going to have a hard time waiting until later this summer to do a little bit here and a little bit there when it comes to our kitchen. I have plans - BIG plans. In the meantime, I've hidden my little crowbar and a few other tools in case Hon had the same idea. Who knows what else in this kitchen will peek my curiosity as the months head into warmer weather. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing the look on Hon's face when he gets home...but of course we didn't do anything. The wall has been like that. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
We have a front door neighbor...okay, so they're kind of down the street, left at the intersection and up the hill neighbors...but I can still see them if I walk out the house and down the drive to get the mail, so technically they're within eyeshot neighbors, but neighbors nonetheless. Anway, we'll call these neighbors the Andreadis's. That's their last name, after all. I had met Christen Andreadis a few years ago while playing Welcome Wagon when they moved to our little area of the community. Then last year her husband Jason came over to ask some questions about the farmers market while I was pulling weeds out of the walkway. We talked a bit and then life went on.
This past spring that all changed when Daisy gave birth to two ewe lambs, Sunny and Flower. After several years of having an abundance of milk, she didn't have enough for both of them. I wasn't keen on using powdered milk replacer and remembered Jason saying they had goats, so Young'un and I took a walk up to their place to see if they possibly had any milk I could give to our girls.
Over the months of getting milk for Sunny and Flower via the goat lady (that would be Christen and how I have her listed in my cell phone contacts), I found her to be quite a fun and interesting young woman. We have common interests that expand past each of us having husbands, three children, and small farms. For example, persimmons. Yes. You read that right, persimmons.
Honestly, I had never seen one until a few months ago when she mentioned she had a tree and brought a few over that weren't quite ripe yet. I had never given them a thought. I know I had seen the name, but like so many other things since moving here, I hadn't ever thought I'd actually get face-to-face with one. That's when my persimmon fascination began.
Did you know an unripe persimmon tastes, to put it politely, horribly bitter? Well, it does. Don't ask me how I know. I'm sure you can figure it out, and I don't mean like when I asked Kid to test the electric fence for five bucks to see if it was working. Here's the thing, when the skins on them are soft as a baby's satiny cheek, when the insides are mushy squishy, they're ripe. They're also one of the yummiest things Mother Nature has given us, so it's weird I don't see more of them around. The first time I bit into a ripe one I thought of something along the lines of a tomato texture...but the flavor is one I can't describe. It doesn't match up with other fruits I've had, and it definitely doesn't taste like chicken. It's just a flavor all to itself. I just had to go on a recipe quest to see what I can do with the little marvels.
I haven't really found a whole lot of recipes for persimmons, but what I've found and tried so far has been wonderful. You know I'm a genuine bonafide choc-a-holic. Well, I found and tweaked till I made it mine a chocolate persimmon recipe that is spectacular. Truly. It's raining out. If I made those muffins and put one out on the patio today the rain would stop, the clouds would part, the sun would shine, and angels would sing. Truly. No joke. They're that spectacular.
I've even made persimmon jam. It reminds me of the lovely flower blossom jellies Eldest makes in the spring for the farmers market. The jam has a lightly sweet taste. I enjoy putting it on my toast when I want some sweet without a strong flavor to follow. It's like a highlight to the bread.
Yesterday while I was lost in making apple butter, I was thinking it would be nice to make some more muffins and jam this week. I asked Christen if she by chance had any left and she said she'd go look. I didn't think after the wind we had days ago there would be many if any at all. While I was at Boy Scouts last night with Kid and Young'un I had a message from Christen that she left a bucket of them on the patio. I was excited to know they were waiting there for me. Eldest was home, so I asked him to take them inside. When I got to the door, excited to see the little orange beauties, he was waiting for me. He said, "Mom, do you know how heavy a five-gallon bucket of persimmons is?" Why no, I have no idea, but I gather heavier than I would have imagined. Then again, it doesn't take a whole lot of pulp, weight-wise, to make the muffins. Eldest told me he had to put it up on the counter to keep the dogs from getting in them because they would have eaten every one if they were left on the floor. I forgot to tell him persimmons are a magnet; there's few animals around that won't go diving under a persimmon tree to get to those goodies. Shoot, I'd join them in the dive! I walked into the kitchen and there it was...a five-gallon bucket full. FIVE GALLONS. When I saw the bucket they were in I couldn't help but laugh because of the slogan on it. Yeah. Let's do this!
So, there you have it, folks. My persimmon connection. Thank you, Christen, for the persimmon introduction. I'm still amazed at how many of those little buggers come off of one tree. There's a little one next to Christen's big one just waiting for spring transplant at our farm. I may not have many grow on it next year, but knowing it will be out there with my expanding fruit tree grove is exciting! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Our farm produce has been Certified Naturally Grown for five months, officially since receiving our yearly inspection and certificate this past May. Our poultry is also part of the program, needing the yearly inspection completed, which I hope to get a fellow farmer over here for uber soon. Next year we'll be pulling our apiary into it. We raise our bees naturally and have since they came here last year. Baby steps, you know? Since I've been quiet for months, having stories busting to get out, I've decided to start with this one and then move on into another that wants to be told tomorrow.
I know you're wondering, "Hey Sharon, what is Certified Naturally Grown? I don't know what that means." Well, pull up your chair because it's time you know. In a nutshell and from the world of Sharon, it's our farm raising what we enjoy raising without using synthetic chemicals. No synthetic insecticides or herbicides. No synthetic fungicides or fertilizers, either. Nope. None. We also say heck no to chemically treated seeds and a wooooah Nelly no way Jose to genetically modified seeds. Many times I'll say we're, "Organic by definition, not by government association." I like the standards we follow through the Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) program. I feel it's a better fit with our family farm. First off, as much as I'd like to be able to actually tell folks we're "organic" and use the organic logo without having the hounds of government descend on me, we just can't afford the price tag. CNG is an affordable option for us to stand up and say, "Hey, we're here and this is what we do...," and we do it with the backing of a great organization where we keep each other in line, in check, and following the standards set out for us, some of those standards trumping the USDA in my opinion.
Okay, now that I've said that, and you're on the seat of your chair, I see that question on your face. You're saying, "Yeah, but if you're keeping each other in line, whose to say you won't let each other slide by?!" Well, that's where you have to understand we work together as an organization, making sure each other is following the standards. Just because we don't have an inspection by an official government person doesn't make us any less credible. In fact, the person that was here earlier in the year to inspect our gardens won't be here next year. It'll be someone else. We can't have the same person inspect two years in a row. I can assure you when I'm asked to inspect someone's CNG farm I'll be making sure they are doing what they should be doing. When I sign my name to that inspection form it will be there because I see what is supposed to be. If you go to the CNG website to look at a copy of an inspection form or any documentation that I've signed you'll know it's there because I am an honest person. I have no qualms about calling someone out about this. Oh, yeah, that brings up another point...CNG has what they call transparency when it comes to every one of their producers. You can see the paperwork on-line from the application we fill out to the inspections we perform.
When I asked a good friend of mine if she is going to consider joining CNG she said no, that she doesn't feel it's necessary. She is an honest person who would never lead her customers on. I get that. Truly. She's awesome and I know everything she does is what I do and she's spot on with what she tells her customers. However, I know others that say they're doing what we do and then squirt Round-Up around their plants to keep the weeds down. GAH! I won't even get into the pink coated corn seeds. Kind of makes me woozy.
Our poultry ~ the chickens, ducks, and geese ~ are fed a USDA Organic feed. According to CNG, the feed doesn't have to be from the USDA Organic program. It can be purchased from a non-GMO producer or mill that will sign paperwork that states they follow the growing standards for their product of not using GMOs or synthetic chemicals. Sadly I haven't found a one around here that can state that fact, so I buy Organic feed from a feed store. That feed costs me $35 for 35 lbs. Yikes, you bet'cha that's a lot of money! Non-organic feed at that particular store costs less than $13 for a 50 lb. bag. What? You want to know why do we pay that huge difference in price? Well, that's an easy one. We do it because we care. We care for not only our family but yours, too. Yes, our chicken eggs cost you a little more money than others in the area. So do the ones with the Organic label at Wal-Mart...and theirs are still more money than ours. We have duck eggs, too, which I don't ever see at the grocery.
So, there you have it folks. I could go on about being Certified Naturally Grown and why we are thrilled to be a part of the CNG family, but you look like you're ready to to get up, stretch your legs, and go put that fishing pole you've been holding on to over in the pond. I am in the middle of roasting pumpkins for pies, anyway, and the timer is about to go off, so I need to get back to that. Just remember...as the ducks and geese swim around you...as you much on that lettuce I'll be serving up with supper...it's all good. It's Certified Naturally Grown. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Imagine this ~ You walk down into the cellar to turn the water on that leads to the barn. No big deal. Just minding your own business. You're even whistling. You turn the water on, turn around to walk back upstairs, happen to glance down, and there...on the floor...is a snake. Yup. You heard me. A snake. A giant, humongous...okay, so it was a baby...but it was a snake. Great way to start a morning.
Now you're wondering what I did with that big (yes, I know it was a baby, but still, a snake) thing. Well, first I let out a pitiful yelp and then I'm sure there was a look of disgust on my face. After that I sprang into action, emptying some stuff out of one of those plastic Sterlite containers. I figured by the time I did that it would have disappeared into the bowels of the cellar, but nooooo, it was still there. I inverted the container on the snake and then I really began hollering. "Elllldessssst, snaaaaaaaake!" "Somebody...anybody up there??? Snaaaaake!" "Hellooooooo? There's a snake down here!" Finally Eldest came down. I don't think he believed me at first. Well I sure showed him! Literally! I had no idea what kind it was, but I knew it was colorful and I also know that can be good or bad. He looked at it through it's plastic prison and said he thought it was a Milk Snake, but he can't see the head, and he didn't want to find out it was a Copperhead the hard way, and by that I mean taking the container off and it getting away.
Shortly after Eldest joined me in the cellar, Young'un showed up. Then Hon came down. All we needed was Kid and it would have been a family affair. Hon found something to slide under the snake so it was safe in the container and he could get a better look at it. He said it's a Milk Snake, but I still had doubts. For a baby it sure was mad, shaking it's little tail around the way it was. Eldest showed me a picture of a Milk Snake and a Copperhead, pointing out the difference in their heads, so I had to finally admit they were right.
After the family rescued me from my ordeal I got to thinking. It's a baby...in the cellar... Hmmmmm, there have to be others. Right? I mean, snakes lay eggS, as in more than one, and this was just one. That one thought had me running up the stairs without a glance back. They could all fend for themselves, I was out of there! I do believe I also told Eldest he can turn the water off and on in the cellar now because I'm not doing it. I can't imagine how we ended up with a baby snake in the basement at this time of year. I know they're down there when it's warmer because sadly I've found skins in some old canning jars and stuff, but now is just weird. Hon said a female snake must have laid eggs in the basement and the heat from the boiler had them hatching out early. Okay, but what am I supposed to do with it? It's winter. We still have a good 5 inches of snow on the ground. It's not like I could have the kids take it outside.
Hon thought we could call the pet store and ask if they wanted it. However, Eldest said we can't. He said even though it was in the basement it's considered a wild animal and snakes caught in the wild can't be sold. I had no idea. Did you? He went on-line and read to us what he was talking about, and clearly the pet shop angle was out.
So, there you have it, folks. I am now the caretaker of a baby Milk Snake that is sitting on my kitchen counter in a smaller Sterlite container until it warms up or I figure out what to do with it. As much as snakes give me the heebie jeebies I just can't put the poor baby outside to freeze...and there is no way in the world I'm putting him back down in the cellar. I'm still having issue wrapping my head around the fact that the rest of the family is down there somewhere. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I'm the queen of our farm, although the animals wouldn't agree. My title is Head Chicken Wrangler, but most days I'm just called Mom. Life on a farm is full of family and hard work and I wouldn't have it any other way.