Saturday, May 30, 2009

GO REDWINGS!!!! 2-1 in the second period

Friday, May 29, 2009

Farm luck

All right, so the serial story posts haven't worked like I'd like. One, I ran out of ideas, and two, my chickens might be constructing a plan for world domination. Really. Okay, not really, but the baby chicks sure went quiet when I told Maxine they were. Suspicious.

Worked a lot in the garden today getting the last 17 tomato plants in the ground (two confirmed fatalities thus far and three in critical condition) and putting up chicken wire to deter the rabbits and other little planbt nibblers. Also moved the cows to new pasture (and I use the term new loosely) and amused the dogs by letting them terrorize a poor salesman who stopped. He was obviously afraid of them, even though Zip stayed behind me and Maxine wagged her tail, but they read that he wasn't comfortable and began circling him, then veering in sideways just to mess with him. Since it bugs me when people ask if my mom and dad are home, I might have let the dogs bother him more than usual. Not admitting to anything.

Aside from that, an average Friday. I'm rather out of ideas and haven't written anything worth a shit. Fridays never seem to be very productive writing-wise. Maybe I'll come up with something. It's early.

My aunt and uncle are up for the weekend to celebrate Gram's birthday. It's always fun and we always make way too much food. Like where's the next round of people coming to eat kind of overload. The running joke is "Remember that time we almost ran out of food? I mean if it wasn't for that last extra pan of lasagna, extra loaf of bread, three pounds of potatoes, and two extra pies, we would have been turning people away hungry."

Well, we haven't lost any chicks and Dad has a real chance of getting his steel building done this weekend, barring any disasters. Though with this project, disasters have proved both plentiful and confounding. Homeowner weekend project my ass. It's taken something like five experienced contractors over 30 days all told. Can anyone say bunch of bullshit? Good thing the homeowner has a good sense of humor. Hope this good luck holds through the weekend.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chicks, chicks, chicks

It's raining today. Luckily, we don't have any hay down. Other local farmers are irritated that they can't get on the fields. The guy who leases our property for crops, namely corn and soybeans, got it all in earlier this week, before the window of good weather broke. Dad and I finished getting the row crops in the garden today, or rather we planted until we ran out of room and non-wet working conditions. The rain started almost as soon as we got everything put up and opened beers.
The baby chicks came this morning. YEY! They are adorable. And so tiny! I held one in my hand and it was so light it was like it wasn't there. Just a puff of down and little stick legs. The post office called Dad at 5:30 a.m. to come and pick them up. Kind of a ring the bell in back thing. But it worked out and the chicks are living it up in the Barclay Resort for Chickens.

Here's the latest chick pics. Sorry they're fuzzy. I'm getting used to the digital camera again after a two year hiatus after a particularly awful photojournalism class. They hated whatever I brought and yeah. Not so much fun. But the pics don't do the little guys justice. They are cute beyond words. Great research/writing break.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On enrepreneurship and animal watching

I reached my word count for today just now. Score. The project I've been working on has gone slower than I'm used to, so 500 words a shot make me ecstatic. We also got all the peppers and eggplants in the garden today and tomorrow looks good for planting the row crops and maybe some herbs. I've gotten behind on my plans for an herb garden and I'm not sure how. Something about 30 tomato plants and 40 pepper and eggplants. Oh well. It's still early in the growing season.

The chickens are loving their new "chick"itat. (As opposed to a "rabbit"ate or habitat.) The hundred are due tomorrow. It's a good thing there's no 24-hour chicken channel. I love watching the chicks just do their thing. I love watching any animal do their thing really. So I'd never get anything done if I could watch animals just live action on tv. Yeah, I'm a geek. Just with animals rather than technology.

The cows are digging the thorn-apples. They have a spa resort back there. Trees to scratch on, knee-high grass, mud holes to lay in. The fat girls are on a spa retreat this week. There's people who pay big money for that kind of treatment. My cows don't even realize how good they have it. Probably a good thing. They'd charge me for it somehow, I know they would. Entrepreneuring cows. Or just extortionists. As it is, they're content. And whatever makes them content, makes me that way too.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Growing words and chickens

Dad wasn’t kidding when he said we were going to get everything done this weekend. We gave it a helluva shot. But, as people who live on farms know, everything doesn’t yield to being done. It likes to be kissed first or something, I don’t know. But the chickens have an outdoor coop complete with two kinds of wire, two tarps, and stakes in the ground to keep out predators and we’re ready for the 100 chicks that should arrive in the next two days. The garden isn’t planted, but it’s fenced and we put 15 tomato plants in the ground. Only another 20 to go. And we hardened off the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, so they go in tomorrow. Hopefully I can get some seeds in the ground too. Won’t grow in the package. “Just get it in the ground!” as we say around here. We got the thorn apples fenced too, so the cows are sated for a day or two. We even got most of the fence working. See how long that lasts. Dad serviced the flat rack wagons to get ready for hay season and got the mower conditioner in a spot in the barn where he can tear it apart and work on it, maybe rebuilding it or something. I thought he fixed it last year, but he says no. So we’ll see how this goes. He wants to replace or at least service the cutter bar guides. Since they’re tooled, I’m not sure what he intends to do with them, but I’m just a dumb blonde after all.

Well, I didn’t mean to subject the readers to this laundry list of weekend work, but it’s all I got. I also have reports on how the chickens are crazy about the grass I macheted down for them and got in fights as they chased each other around after long strands of it. They really are pretty cool. I named the smallest hen Roxanne after the Sting song. I’m not really sure why. She’s red maybe, red like a red light. (I know, I’m special.) At least I’ve been writing again this week. Like with ideas. Good ones. It makes life better when I don’t have to chisel words out of stone. They grow slowly, like spring radishes, but they’re growing more words. That I can deal with.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Here’s how techno-uninclined I am: I just figured out how to listen to Bob and Tom live on the computer. Yeah. I’m that slow. Granted I’m actually listening to WBFX 101.3 FM live, but Bob and Tom is on so there. I love comedy. I wish when I wrote I could go funny like that. Usually it’s more of a dark humor/horror. Not sure where that comes from. Anyone who knows me says I have a weird sense of humor, but not nearly as dark as when I write.


It’s been pretty warm the past few days with clear skies and 80 plus degrees. Today it’s a little overcast and breezy so that’s nice. We’re gonna plant the garden this weekend, as it’s finally rototilled. My thirty-odd tomato plants need to go in the ground before Dad gets absorbed by the tomato jungle he’s living in. His bedroom has the biggest window in the house and faces north, so that’s where we put the potted starts several weeks ago. I don’t think tomatoes are supposed to be to my waist yet. Oh well.

We’ve got 100 chicks coming next week. So we get to figure out this weekend how to organize the twenty we have and manage them separate from the 100 Barred Rock chicks. I’ll keep you updated. This has all the potential for disaster. Especially since the first round of chicks didn’t take that long to break out of the clothespin reinforced cage we kept them in. Who’d think chickens can’t be contained by a clothespin and a piece of string?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Farm Stuff

I'm such a geek, out of all the things I could write about, all I can think to talk about tonight is how my chickens love their roost (two of them were camped out on the very top tonight looking like they felt all cool), how the baby asparaguses (about the length of my index finger and half the diameter of a pencil) are just damn cute, and how Maxine found a big snake and a baby bluebird yesterday.

Today was the first warm day we've had, like over 80 degrees. You can almost hear the grass growing,sucking in sunlight and pushing up out of the ground.

It's great.

I swear I'll come up with something more interesting next time. Right now I'm trippin' on baby asparagus and happy chickens.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I am a book addict, but I can change. If I have to. I guess.

I'm still working on the next installment of our saga. Granted it's not turning out like I hoped, but its better than me getting on here to whine. But just so y'all don't think I've dropped off the face of the earth, I thought I'd list some book recommendations.

Coastliners by Joanne Harris (who brought us Chocolat) was a great read. Almost a beach read. Since it, ya know, took place by the sea. It's a serious book and very lyrical. I'm still in the first few hundred pages of Ken Follatt's World Without End, but so far it's every bit as entertaining, enjoyable, and long as the original Pillars of the Earth. New characters, new time, same Kingsbridge, only its beginning to fall down two centuries after being built. A less serious book is How to Back Up A Trailer and 101 other things every real guy should know by Kurt Anderson. It's useful and entertaining and lets face it, every girl needs to know how to back up a trailer, change a flat tire, tap a keg, and play craps. And last, because I haven't been remembering to write down what I read, is Diana Gabaldon. Anything. We went to a writer's/reader's conference/lunch deal last week and it was great. The third Lord John book came out in paperback finally I read that right after. Wonderful book.

And on that note, I think I'll go stir up the dogs or at least the laundry. I got words today (finally!) after a particularly bad writing slump and I'm rockin' on ready.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Drivin', drivin', drivin'

I didn't mean to leave the blog for as many days as I did. Something about a jammed and swollen finger, new friends coming to visit, beers, trips to Toledo and Mount Pleasant, a grandmother with an anxiety attack, an old friend that needed rescuing, another that needed a shoulder, or at least an open ear, a writer's conference, and just daily shit gets in the way. I've been up since 3:40 this morning as it is and fading, but we'll be up again at 2 a.m. to make an airport run. Call me chauffeur this week. I'm not complaining. Far from. I got to hang with new and old people and catch up with both, so it's been good. All things unschedulable of course. I won't go into why. They know who they are. And I'll stop before I get anymore cryptic. On a final note: word of the day, monkey-fucker. As in, you monkey-fucking bulls get out of my yard.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

“Jail Break!”

The cows met in a secret meeting in the dark of night.

“Everyone clear on how this is going to go down?” Essential asked. Her chocolate calf nodded.

“I go under the fence,” he said.

“Right,” his mother said.

“And we distract the old woman,” 106P and 80R said. For some reason they were always bumming around together.

“Good,” Essential said. “I’ll watch for the farmer and blonde girl.” She gave another calf a hard look, her troublesome red twin. “And you will be?”

“Hanging in the back of the herd and making no noise.”

“Hmm-hm,” his mother said. The calf had no good sense for escape and tended to get stuck. “Everybody clear?” She waited for cud chews of approval. “Let’s go.”

119M began to rub her butt on the gate, scratching slowly back and forth so that the steel post began to, slowly, bend backwards and pop away from the flimsy panel gate.

“Faster, fat ass!” one of the cows hissed. “The ol’ lady’s gonna turn her lights on in a minute!”

“Eh! We got lots a time,” 119M insisted. And she was right. When the old lady (a.k.a. our heroine’s grandmother) opened her curtains in the morning, there lay the herd, right in her front yard under the azalea bushes. They chewed their cuds contentedly and watched the morning traffic on the dirt road commute to work.

The old lady let out a strangled scream and rushed to the phone.

To be continued…

Next time: (well, I’m not real sure what’s coming for our fearsome farmer heroine, but it’ll be some agriculture menace or disaster bent on taking over the world or at least procuring a snack.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

“Among the Missing”

“Have you seen the white ewe lamb?” our heroine asks her sagacious and renowned (at least in her mind) father.

He strokes his beard and shakes his head.

“Not since yesterday. I turned the ewe and lambs out to graze so the others didn’t bother ‘em. Didn’t think the lambs were getting enough to eat.” Their mother is a smooth mouth ewe, old enough all her teeth have fallen out, and probably doesn’t make a lot of milk. They’ve had this conversation before. But they weren’t missing one of the twins before and momma doesn’t seem very concerned that her weaker lamb is missing. They both know as they go to search that the search probably will not end well if the mother has already given the lamb up for dead.

“There’s a reason,” our heroine says. “They smell something. They know.” Calves and lambs both, when the mother, formerly interested and attentive, gives up on them, don’t have much hope.

The white lamb crawled behind the wood pile in the barn to die. Our heroine and her father find it after they check and recheck the horse stalls, under trailer and camper, and all the corners in the barn. It’s a sad moment. But there’s nothing to be done. Even the mother knows it was for the best. Or at least that her stronger lamb will be better off and she’ll have an easier time raising one lamb instead of two. The lambing season has not been kind to white lambs this year for our heroine, as evidenced in the black cross-bred lambs frolicking in the field.

The cattle moo and complain at our heroine and her father as they walk out of the barn, somber and ready for lunch.

“Hay won’t last until grass comes on,” they agree. “Think they’ll plan a jailbreak like last year?” Last year, the farmer and our heroine came out to find all the cattle moved across the road, gates wide open, mouths chomping as full bellies ruminated. But horses and bulls are in that pasture this year. The swap will be different and a jailbreak…well, a real pain in the ass. A hemorrhoid. A kidney stone. It will really suck. So they cross their fingers and hope the cows are less clever than they look.

Essential chews her cud thoughtfully as she watches them walk away.

To be continued…

Next time: Jail break!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Farm stuff

Dad's been working all weekend so it feels like Wednesday, not Monday. I haven't been working nearly as hard, but I won't bore with horrifying tales of writer's stuck-ness that only terrify me or never-ending housework. There must be a special place in hell where people are consigned to do nothing but housework for all eternity. Guess I'm not going to make maid of the year, huh?

Chickens are growing fast. Too fast. One likes to sit on top of the water and shit on the other chickens. Yes, he'll make it in the serial. I expanded their habitat yesterday and they're quite aggressive about it. They fly at each other and screech. It's kinda scary. Especially since they're only eight inches tall.

We've got cattle out on grass, or at least they think they are. It hasn't been warm enough to turn everyone out, but we have some lots we don't mind getting marked and muddied up so they've been taking those down. All the rain and sun but no heat and that's what grows grass. I'm almost jonesing for it as bad as the cows.

So spring continues here and we're all not-so-patiently awaiting summer. It oughta be here anytime. (She glances outside and gives the sky a disapproving glare. After all, it is Michigan. Wait five minutes if you don't like the weather, it'll change.) Anytime now.

“Who’s Your Daddy?”

The creature bedded down in the nest scrambles around in the hay and our heroine jerks again. She has a secret fear about creatures jumping out at her, mainly due to an incident with a raccoon over the winter. But this fearsome creature is neither fearsome, nor a creature, in the strictest sense. It’s a duck. A momma duck. With eggs. An even baker’s dozen.

“Well, Momma Duck,” our heroine farmer says, “you’ve got quite a job ahead of you.”

The farmer sits up too fast and raps her head on the edge of the flatbed wagon.

“Son of a bitch!” she curses and one of the twin lambs, who had been creeping up to smell this vaguely remembered invader from last week when it couldn’t figure out how to nurse, runs off with a frightened bleat.

Momma Duck flies off to take a swim in the waterhole out the back of the barn that resembles more of a small pond than a puddle. Another duck flies up to join her, a mallard, presumably Momma Duck’s boyfriend.

“And where’s my child support?” she asks. “I’m busting my duck butt sitting on a nest filled with your eggs and where are you?”

“Chill baby,” the mallard assures her. “I had a gig. You know, getting’ the band back together.”

“You and your band,” Momma Duck complains, ducking her head into the water and shutters.

The farmer decides to make an exit to let the duck couple figure out their differences on their own.

“You know,” she hears Momma Duck say, “I heard on the radio that couples are signing marriage contracts for five years and then reevaluating if they want to continue the contract. Maybe we could set that up. If you call your Uncle Bertie…”

The farmer counted sheep, and found the little white ewe lamb missing. She was a twin and hadn’t been the strongest of the pair since birth. The ewe seemed unflappable and unconcerned as she grazed and made soft momma noises to her oldest charge, a white weather lamb. The farmer began looking around for the ewe lamb, but failed to find her under the trailer, in the horse stalls, beneath the baler, or any in tight corner of the barn. At wits’ end, our heroine does the only thing she can think of: she calls in the big guns.

To be continued…

Next time: we meet our farmer heroine’s partner in crime: Dad.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy Beltane

Happy first of May everyone! You might know it’s Beltane, but did you know it’s also the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers, National Love Day in the Czech Republic, Lei Day in the Hawaiian Islands, Unity Day in Kazakhstan, Maharashtra Day (Maharashtra Divas) in Maharastra, India, Constitution Day in the Marshall Islands, and Walpurgis Night in Northern Europe? The Roman Empire celebrated the all-female festival in honour of Bona Dea today as well as the fourth and last day of the Floralia in honour of Flora. In the United States, it’s Law Day or Loyalty Day. And as far as Saints’ observances, it’s the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker and an observance of Saint James the Less, Saint Philip the Apostle, Saint Andeol, Saint Asaph, Saint Brieuc, Saint Sigismund of Burgundy, Saint Theodulf, and Saint Augustin Schoeffer. I have not the slightest clue who any of these people are, but this is what Wikipedia told me, so bitch at them if I’m wrong. It’s also Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat respectively to commemorate the formation of the two states. Just because I’m an English major and we cite our sources.

I drug Dad to see Tamora Pierce in Ann Arbor tonight. She was really great. If you ever a get a chance to hear her speak in person, it’s well worth it. She has a great personality and really cares about helping young (especially teen and under) writers and readers. After revisiting her books a few months ago, it amazed me how good her stories are and how the issues in them aren’t just for kids, but also adults and show the gray area in problems. They show how to work through various problems without being moral. Characters screw up, realize they were wrong, evolve and change. And that’s all one can ask for good storytelling for any age.

It’s been cold here and the weather forecasts aren’t calling for warm weather any time soon. We need heat on this grass. The cows are getting restless and it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep them busy. Expect our valiant heroine to face a jail-break in upcoming episodes.

Well, it’s Friday night and I’m n bed at 9 p.m. giving you people something interesting (I hope) to read. Boy do I need to get a life. Or a boyfriend who isn’t dating the Army on the side.