28 February 2009

adios, dear old homeplace

The packers came and went, the truck came and went, and I left as well. The house felt very sad as I drove away. There are many wonderful memories there, and dear Kuma is buried in the yard there, but it is time to begin a new life after two decades in that house. Strange to consider that, in all likelihood, I will never build a house again...

United Movers were pretty fine, just as many internet evaluations noted. The management was most solicitous that all was going well throughout the process. Although April had packed many, many boxes, and I packed a fair number myself (not counting the contents of the Penske truck I drove in December), much remained. The five packers boxed everything in two long days. The truck drivers, with two assistants, loaded over 500 boxes into their van in a two day period; those young men really hustled -they earned every penny of their pay.

I left about an hour ahead of the United truck and 1,700 miles later, arrived about four hours after them.

Nutmeg Makes a Decision

Yes, Nutter... our brain damaged, epileptic, well-medicated, and completely loving dog... who suffered two bouts of movers like a happy-go-lucky Labrador (even cozying up to strangers!)... who didn't pee on the seat of my car on her way out... yes, Nutmeg... who never thought beyond the couch and the next milkbone...

Made a decision.

She decided she didn't like being moved. In nowhere, Oklahoma (I think) she made her break while Russ did what one does at the side of the highway on a long trip. Off she went... even figuring out the right direction for home. Russ valiantly sacrificed his tweaky knee to chase her down and bring her back. Were it not for some big weeds, she'd have gotten away.

Russ, dutiful Russ, managed to get he and the dog to our new home in one piece without major trauma. Or so I thought. Nutter was just playing sweet. Who knew she was a schemer! She talked me into letting her out... made me believe she was glad to be where all her family seemed to be.


And she promptly left. We've not seen her in five days and, with the roads and the weather, presume she has gone to be a pest to Mr. Tam and her beloved kitty, Catfish. It's a sad feeling to have lost her. Gut wrenching that it was my fault after all Russ did not to poison her over the years. Yet... I get the feeling that she's happy. And I'm proud that she showed some gumption.

If only just once.

26 February 2009

An now we must go to a commercial...

We've been madly preparing two houses for the movers, Russ drove cross country, and the movers beat him to the farm by four hours. We're just about considering making a box cave and hiding there for a few months. There will be a series of full updates over the next week or so but for now, look where April and her art have been featured!

Team Christian Artist and Crafters: Featured Team CAC Seller....

20 February 2009

Sorry about the delay...

Mom and Dad have been kinda busy and I only just figured out how to type. Mom said she won't be my translator any more. I think you've seen plenty of pictures of Jack recently so here's one I got my brother, Grover, to take of me. I actually have discernible features when photographed!

Mom wrote about the two weeks she spent integrating Jack over on her other blog, here. It was very exhausting for all of us. Now I can reveal to you that I've finally caved in and decided this little guy isn't so bad, except that he always wants to play and doesn't know that hissing means he should go away. He just keeps saying "but why?" Ugh! Babies! It's getting better each time Miss Lilly whacks him for being impertinent.

Here's a picture of the day Miss Lilly declared that he could stay loose in the house. Lilly only looks like she's asleep.

Lilly and Mom said we had to at least not fight with him so we just had a bunch of hissing until a few days ago. Turns out he likes being chased too and we even sat together in the window reading over Mom's shoulder this morning. Mom couldn't get a photo of that, but wewere REALLY cute!

14 February 2009

In response to my last post, Lausanne asked where I found out about Turkens and I'm proud to say it was in my Christmas stocking! I'm completely delighted with this little magazine that Russ gave me because it's exactly my speed... I'm a slow learner and I know absolutely nothing about chickens. That's a Turken on the cover.

The proper name for the breed is "Naked Neck" but Turken is so much more colorful, don't you think?

I've been reading all the books my little local library has on chickens. The first book presumes your "small flock" is 100 to 300 chickens. I was thinking dozen or so this year! It also mentioned all the terrible things chickens do to eachother and that one should prevent this with an improved environment but didn't give a single suggestion of HOW.

That's big ag for you....

Second book was called The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow and THAT was a useful tome! She gives really clear explanations of why chickens get sick, peck eachother, and do what chickens do. She also advocates for letting chickens be chickens. Now that's good advice with any animal! Her answer to pecking: they're compulsively attracted to the sight of blood. Her basic fix? Exactly what you said you did Laussane... darkness. If they can't see it then they won't peck. (Now you can take your time getting to the library in all that Vermont snow!)

That exhausted the local adult holdings of the Jesse Peterman Memorial Library. Now I'm on to the juvenile section which had a useful looking book geared to the young 4-H crowd. I've not had a chance to crack it but I'm thinking the coop plans and management strategies will be better geared to my size of flock.

One of these nights I'm going to turn the thermostat up in the basement (or maybe get the WiFi fixed) and see what Temple Grandin, the livestock handling expert, might have observed about the needs of chickens. I'm imagining, based on the few loose flocks I've seen, that they like a variety of heights in their perches and nice tight roosts that feel like they're unassailable.

Tips anyone?

13 February 2009


I think I just found the bird that meets all my chicken criteria:

cold hardy
winter laying
weird looking

11 February 2009

Riner Oyster Supper

Last Saturday I did some needed shopping in the nearest big town, Christiansburg, and stopped off along the way there for my supper at the annual Riner Fire Department Oyster Supper. Like most rural places, it's a volunteer fire and rescue squad.

As you can see, everyone was there! Most folks had trouble with these elementary school cafeteria seats, but I LOVED THEM! For once, the tables and chairs were my size.

It looks like the men did the cooking and the Ladies' Auxillary did the serving.
An hour in (when I got to the cashier) they'd served about 500 dinners.

Thankfully, they offered something other than fried oysters.
I got the "small" plate.

These are about 25% of the desserts on offer.
All home made, of course!

Scottish influences continue to shine through in Appalachia.

10 February 2009

Monkey Me

No picture today, sorry folks, but it is REALLY difficult to take a picture of yourself whilst in the upper branches of a tree. Why was I up there? Well, see, we have all these neglected fruit trees that need "a bit of thinning."

Let me draw you a picture: I had to prune for an hour just to be able to get my little five-foot-tall body into the tree. I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the upper branches leaning along the main limbs as far as I could reach cutting out the excess on our biggest Mutsu apple. Tomorrow I'll be climbing the peach tree. Today was for housekeeping and winter sowing. (See yesterday's post.)

09 February 2009

Winter Sowing

Not knowing any better, and not trusting any book that says plants won't grow without expensive fertilizers (what did they do before artificial grow juice?) I've been reading all sorts of "alternative" garden resources...

Companion planting
Native gardening

One reader will know the only thing I've read that really made sense was a book about how weeds will always win the war. Plants are definitely smart.

Now I've found another idea that seems to presume that plants are smart. It's called Winter Sowing. Instead of sowing all your seeds inside under lights you plant the varieties that sound like they might survive winter in the wild in flats and leave them outside and let them just do their thing. Imagine... planting your peas and poppies in January when you have plenty of opportunity.

I think I'll stop imagining and get started right away. Last frost isn't until about the first of May here and it would be lovely to save the inside space for plants that really do need warmth to germinate, like tomatoes and eggplants.

08 February 2009

Our friend and favorite cartoonist, Peter, has sent us this wonderful ditty about the arrival of the new cat.

"Well, this is how I made it here folks:"

"I was born in Dundee, in Scotland, and when my old ma was dying she told me to go to Cupar in Fife and find my Uncle Tam but when I got there he had emigrated to Santa Fe in the USA, So I got myself a job as "Ship's Cat" on one of those Rhine Barges that go up to Perth and when I had earned my sea going ticket, found a berth on a Container Boat out of Amsterdam.

"When I got to New York I made myself agreeable to an old lady who took me on a train to Chicago. Once there I hitched a lift on a truck to Santa Fe, only to find my uncle had passsed away. However, his folks had gone to a place called Floyd in Virginia. Found a truck going east and after working around a bit finally got to Roanoke and walked from there.

"They seem a real nice berth, and some great company too. Guess I'll stay on and write a book!"


Chetworth responds:

"That's a lot of livin' for a cat who hasn't even hit adulthood. I don't buy it. Here he shows up just after us, eats our food, plays outside while we hafta stay in all the time, and at night he steals the best room upstairs. AND he eats our food and plays horrible hunting games! I hate my new housemate!!!! Grover says he saw some houses just before the car turned on to our road. I bet he came from one of them!"

Lily responds:

"Chetworth, you're just jealous 'cause I like him... he's lots of fun, you old stick in the mud, and if you'd grow up and quit hanging on your Momma's apron strings, you'd want to play with him, too."

A view down the front of the driveway - as we await your visit.

Spring cometh, perhaps far too early. Certainly before the humans are prepared for garden labours.

05 February 2009

I truly live in Paradise.

Align Center

Our nearest grocery carries manna!

04 February 2009

Keeping Warm

So, last night I decided to load up our Century Fireplace exactly as the manual directed: Build up a quick fire under smaller logs, close the damper, and let it burn to coals. Once you have a bed of coals you fill the entire box with unsplit logs (ours are on the small side, about 6-8") and totally close off the air. Yes... you actually close both the damper and the flu!

Even though we'd used it as a fireplace (doors open) and then loaded it up just before bed, I wasn't prepared for just how much "more efficient" the recommended method turned out to be. Instead of waiting a couple hours for enough coals it took about 30 minutes and once the thing was loaded up it felt as though there was a fire under the floor, it was so warm! The upstairs temperature was brought to 76 degrees (F) by bedtime so we all slept warm and cozy.