Saturday, December 17, 2011

Move over, Reno!

The fame is spreading here at Netherfield! Reno was simply the first of our stock to go Hollywood! (I'm sure someone will be contacting me soon about writing a cookbook, for people who don't have kitchens.)

We received word last month, that Tucker the Wonder Dog, and his sister, Tasha the Judge-Nipper have gone global!

2012 Welsh Corgi Calendar from Brown Trout

Taken almost two years ago, my little rodents' picture made the cover! I told Handyman, we now have celebrities pooping in our yard!

I know there have been several catty comments going on around the water dish, about the "younger set" getting all the attention. But we are doing our best to keep everyone on the same pay grade.

I did make a complete fool of myself at Tractor Supply, showing the clerks my dogs. They were like, "Oh, you have corgis." I'm going, "No. These are actually my dogs."

They say, "Those are your actual dogs?"

Me: "Yes! It's so exciting."

Them: "Cool. Here's your change." They were clearly in awe.

So, since my dogs' photo is by far superior to several of the other months, I have already cut up my calendar. Using the cover shot to cover up the ridiculously bad January selection. February is a cute blue merle Cardi, so I will go with that. March is, of course, MY DOGS, so that will do. June is #1's best friend's dog, Sparky, so we will keep that one. And all the rest will probably be hidden.

I am not one bit of a stage mother. Don't think it for a second. The girls haven't minded giving up their beds for the corgis at all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hollywood comes to Reno

The greatest horse in the world finally got some notice...and brought in a little cash, for once!

Handyman has a side gig, other than remodeling. He does lighting for film and tv. And every now and then, he lets us be part of it. Back in the 90's, #1 got to be in a spot for the Children's Museum. I think that was the last time we got to be part of it.

All the girls wanted to meet Jim Varney, but that didn't work out. #1 wouldn't go meet Jake Lloyd, no matter how much we begged her. She did get to stand next to Peyton Manning, but Handyman didn't introduce them. #2 did get to meet Julianne Hough, her personal hero, and get her picture taken with her.

#3 doesn't get it yet.

After I bathed him and sprayed his tail with Pam spray (a quickie detangler), he was ready for his close-up:

As is usually the case, he did take after take after take, patiently and with good humor. He was a little put off by the big fuzzy mike, but kept his cool.

Meanwhile, the peanut gallery begged for handouts:

The spot turned out beautifully! click HERE

I even got to be in it! But Reno deserved much more screen time. It's the second time in my life that I have received a free, 24-year old horse that has changed my life.

On the Road Again

We headed back out onto the gravel road, across the rickety bridge and hung a left onto the bigger gravel road, that eventually joined the paved road. The goats were making their goat noises and we were all laughing, and it was sprinkling rain again.

I only missed one turn, amazingly. I do have some weird innate talent for directions or at least remembering how to get somewhere once I have been there. It's not as great a skill as my wacko-memory for phone numbers, but it's pretty handy.

We came upon the "knife sale" place again, and #2 piped up from the back seat, "Don't make eye contact!" I thought I would crash, laughing so hard. Then we heard the water noise. And it wasn't water. Then I had this flash-back to my friend April saying, "Goats pee a lot." It honestly never occured to me that a goat would pee IN MY CAR, WHILE IT WAS MOVING. I guess I figured they would be uncomfortable or unsure enough, to just hold it.

I was wrong.

Okay, well we have that plastic floor mat, that has curved edges and there is hay to soak some up. What else can we do, but continue?

As we were getting closer to civilization and it was supper time, I did agree to whip into a McD's for girl sustenance. But I stayed in the car, while they ran in and ran out. The sky was getting darker, and we had a ways to go, albeit all interstate from here on out.

As we pulled back out onto the road, we heard it again..."water". Ick. Oh well.

The rain really started coming down as we merged onto the interstate. I do have a small amount of weather phobia, handed down through the generations, like Bubonic Plague. I have done my best to overcome it, and had a modest amount of success with that. Being a mom, and a great actress, has its rewards.

But I do much better when I can look at the radar screen, which I could not, in the car. So I did the next best thing, which is to turn on my favorite, local talk radio station. They always have current weather info. I trust them. I have listened to this same radio station since I was a child. The child of a woman with weather phobias...

So I turn on the radio, and I turn up my windshield wipers. Coincidentally, we are friends with a talk-show host on this radio station. He is personable, generous and very kind to my girls. So when his familiar, smooth voice came right into our car, we felt a little safer...until he broke into his own show to start announcing tornado warnings, and sightings.

I continued to drive north, not going much slower for the weather. Our friend, on the radio announced, "If you are in the area of Taylorsville, you should take cover immediately! A tornado has been sighted west of Taylorsville, heading east at 20 mph. Take cover immediately."

Amazingly, it was at that very moment that we passed the giant, green interstate sign that read, "Taylorsville, 1/2 mile." #2 shrieked from the backseat, where the goat was letting go once again, "Mom! Are we in Taylorsville?! That sign says Taylorsville!"

There was this weird juxtaposition in my head. Our friend's voice, so comforting...was now scary to us and that just didn't fit in my brain. My only thought was, "What would Handyman do?" I knew he wouldn't stop. There were semi's blowing by me, as I slowed because the rain was so heavy that even high speed wipers weren't doing the job.

I just knew that Handyman would not stop, and so I was not stopping on the side of the road, in a deluge, in an SUV with GOATS in it, to wait for a tornado to come.

I told #2 to watch out the left side. If she saw, actually saw, a tornado, I would consider pulling over. I explained to her that I could drive north at 55-65 mph, and that was a lot better than a tornado moving towards us at 20 mph. We weren't going to sit and wait to be hammered. We could beat it.

I don't suppose it helped much that I had let them watch Twister that summer.

We kept listening to our friend on the radio, telling us to take cover. The sky was that awful shade of green/black, that you learn as a midwestern child. That color that just means "fear".

I can't remember if anyone prayed out loud. If we didn't, I know we all were praying silently. Even the goats.

And sure enough, as always happens in this crazy state, we drove away from the chaos--never saw a funnel cloud--and into bright, beautiful sunshine. By the time we crossed into the downtown area, it was all clearly behind us.

Only I would drive through a tornado, with two goats in a car. These things never happen to other people. We made it home. Handyman had made a little pen for "the goatie girls" and a little hayrack in their stall. We unloaded them into the barn area, where they peed again. #1 heroically cleaned out Handyman's truck immediately, as per my instructions, so as to hide the unpleasant details from her dad.

I swore them both to secrecy--the girls, not the goats. They were never to tell their father that 2 goats had urinated in his car, multiple matter how funny it was. What ever possessed him to put that tar paper under those floor mats, is beyond me. But I can't tell you how thankful I was for that.

Handyman, who actually loves Jane Austen, and all our theme-related pet names, actually named the new girls...Flora and Fauna. And yes, I know it is not Jane Austen'ish. But once we heard them, we knew we'd hit on the right ones.

(If anyone has a day-trip to beat that one, I would love to hear about it!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Goat Saga, chapter 3

Before I continue, my daughters have pointed out that they BEGGED me to go along. I did not draft them. They couldn't bear the thought of me being alone on such a long drive--and seeing something first! Thank heavens for their selfishness. Not sure I would have made it without them. Misery loves company.

They also both testify that when we passed the "Knife Sale" domicile, there was a man out front...with a long beard. I am not kidding. I did not see that gentleman, because I could not take one eye off the windy, curvy road. I only saw the knife sale sign because it was on a 4x5' sheet of plywood leaning up against the mailbox. And "Knife Sale" is not a sign one sees frequently. I think it was God's providence that I did not see that gentleman. Or else we might not be goat owners today.

And so I continue, we DID actually turn off the paved road. By this time, the road signs were just random numbers and letters strung together. In the flat counties where I grew up, west of Indianapolis, those numbers mean something. Usually they relate to the orientation of the roads based on the county seat. But down here, where all surfaces slant and sometimes you can't even see the sun, I doubted there was any plan to it.

We wandered a little on the gravel road and then, were to turn left onto a smaller road, that had a rickety little bridge, I kid you not. My daughters, of course, do not know anything about "Deliverance"; but I'm telling you, by this time, my heart is doing a little jig and the infamous music is playing in my head. And my mother's voice is ringing out, "Why would you bring two young girls out here, for a CRAIGSLIST ad?! Have you completely lost your senses?!" And I was agreeing with her.

Then suddenly the mailbox with the right number appeared, and there was a clean, modest little house with a barn. The cars looked like they were in working order. The sun was shining. My mother's voice faded somewhat. We got out.

There was nothing fancy, and nothing scary, in immediate view anyway. A nice, tall woman came out and she knew my name, so we had actually arrived, sans GPS even! As we entered the dark, cool barn, I had a small wave of fear, but was quickly settled by a healthy, shiny horse, and the ambient smells and sounds of a farmyard.

We met our girls, one of whom was relatively wild...a young 'un she hadn't taken much time with. She was the one going into the dog crate. The big girl was tame and like all goats, curious and bright-eyed. The girls loved them at once. The lady told us the goats had just taken a leak, so we might be able to avoid that in the car. (This had not crossed my mind really. Or if it had, I guess I thought goats wouldn't feel comfortable enough in a moving car, to pee. Too late now.)

We were able to load the little gal into the crate. She was about the size of a small German Shepherd. The larger goat wasn't too keen on jumping into the back of my Expedition, which I had stocked with hay, for eating or sleeping on. So the lady just gathered her up, all 85 lbs of her, and hefted her in. Down came the tailgate and the bleating began.

As with horses in a trailer, once they're in--you hit the road. I handed over the cash, we waved and back out on the gravel we went. And I reminded #1 that we now had to follow those directions backwards. I hope she had been paying attention because it might be important...I had absolutely no idea where we were.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Since it's my birthday, I will blog B4 I work!

So, it was a beautiful summer afternoon, as #1, #2 and I headed off in search of our next farm addition: The Goat Girls! We spent much of the time pondering what names would fit with our Jane Austen theme. I think we were pretty settled on Jane and Lizzie, or Eleanor and Marianne. Although Marianne didn't seem very goatish to me.

The drive was lovely and we soon arrived in Brown County, with its charming, windy roads. As we turned off the main state road, with which I felt familiar, it had started to rain. And as this is Indiana, the sun was still shining brightly and the rain was heavy enough for wipers. We continued to wind south, I think.

I had written directions off my email and had an address. We wound down past the Story Inn, which I have been to once before. I remembered that it was in the absolute middle of nowhere, and felt a little blip of anxiety as we turned away from Story and headed off in a new direction, on a smaller road.

Then I paid a little more attention to my written instructions and noted that it said 20 miles past Story. I gulped. Twenty MORE miles, on this road? I'm sure I spoke out loud at that point, because I am not known for shutting up at appropriate times. It was something like this, "Good grief! How much further now?!" At which point #2 asked from the back, "Are we in Kentucky?" and we all laughed. "Who knows? We could be close to it, at this rate."

The rain sort of ended, but the curving road did not. I'm sure if the roads were straight, we would have been on our way home by now. I really wanted to see this route from the air--or maybe not.

The homes got smaller and further between. We saw a mobile home on a sharp slope, with skirting that made almost a basement underneath the one end, seriously. Out in front of this place was a piece of plywood propped on the mailbox, handpainted to say "Knife Sale" ?!? I shrieked a little, and pressed on the accelerator harder.

And I drove a little faster and wondered what in the world was I doing, bringing two daughters into the hill-country on a Craigslist expedition to pick up goats from someone I have never seen and don't know?! What if it was a nefarious trap?! There isn't good cel coverage down here...what have I done?!? I had some confidence in the tone of the emails we had exchanged. The language the woman used indicated knowledge of dairy goats--I tried to soothe my anxiety.

I kept driving and driving and finally, and in Jeff Foxworthy's immortal words, "we turned off the paved road..."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adventures in animal procurement

I haven't shared this hilarious story from last summer, and I want to do so before I forget it all. I am old, now. In 2010, I was far enough beyond breast cancer to begin a post-cancer mid-life crisis that for me, predictably, involved horses. I found a 5 year-old thoroughbred, with no issues, on the Internet, and obtained him--without specifically asking my husband--for free. The owner delivered him to the stable I where I've been connected for many years and I thought all my dreams had finally come true.

It was very exciting. I owned a TB. He was handsome and athletic and I was boarding him at a real stable. It was what I had wanted all my life, honestly. It was also over 90 degrees every single day from May on. It was quickly determined that he would need training that I couldn't provide. Then I started cleaning stalls to pay for the training.

I had learned in college that I could trade hard, honest work for whatever horse-stuff I couldn't afford. And I was eager to sustain my fantasy that I could be a good wife, mother, rural property owner and equestrienne. I would drive 12 miles one-way to clean stalls for several hours. Then I would groom my horse after someone else had ridden him and I would drive home exhausted, cook for my family, do laundry and clean my barn. Just what every girl dreams of...

Long story short, he wasn't quite the right fit for me. A terrific horse, a tremendous opportunity, but I couldn't sustain the training he needed, either financially or logistically. So I made other arrangements for him and began a descent into horse-divorce depression. Death of a dream. And in order to short circuit that mourning period, I decided I'd get what I'd REALLY been wanting--dairy goats.

I was sure that my horse phase had officially ended. I had had to work myself to the bone to pay off the training debts for a horse I couldn't consistently ride. I told myself that I was too old, too weak, too chicken and too poor for any more horsey adventures. Goats would be just right. They couldn't kill me. I didn't have to be brave and I didn't have to do a whole lot with them to prove myself to anyone. And, Handyman and I love goat cheese...

So, I found just the ones I was looking for on that mother-of-all bulletin boards: Craigslist. Two dairy does, under a year old. Specifically, an Alpine and a Toggenburg (which I had wanted since my first summer camp job in Michigan, where we had one.) Toggs are uncommon and so this convinced me that I was destined to be a great goat cheese maker. The arrangements were made.

These two little gals were down south, a little more than an hour away. In hill country. I had discussed with the owner about putting the smaller goat in our large wire dog crate. She thought that would work, but thought the bigger goat would not fit in a crate. I was not going to borrow someone's horse trailer to pick up two little, albeit not mini, goats. The dog crate would take up one half of the back of the Expedition and the larger goat would have to be loose, next to the crate.

I am not terribly knowledgeable about goats, but a little horse and dog experience, some riding instructor safety training and enough fear of the unknown to keep me wary, made me think that an unrestrained goat weighing almost 100 lbs., loose in the back of my Expedition might not be the smartest decision ever. So, Handyman graciously cut a piece of plywood to fit upright behind the seat of his Expedition. The Expedition with the rubber floor mat with the curved edges. (This will be important later.) Handyman is such a smart guy that he took the mat out and put roofing felt paper underneath the mat, to cover the holes where the seatbelt clamps are placed. I don't know why he thought of this, but we were all so thankful for this foresight.

I drafted #1 and #2 to go with me. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and we were driving to one of the most scenic areas of our state to pick up our new pets. What fun! (Why Handyman puts up with these sporadic plunges of mine that always involve money and more work, is beyond me!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tumble Dry now set to low

Another gigantic change at will be home 3 days a week now! Happy dance!

We went from homeschooling 3, to breast cancer, to public school for one and free-range/homeschooling for 2, to public school for 3--mom working 5 morning hours/5days week, for a year. Then I had the summer off, along with 4H 2 nights/week. Then we gutted the kitchen, and the master bath, and invited the contractor in to do major work. Then I went back to work 2 weeks before the kids went back to school. Then the kids went back to school. Then #1 had 5 weeks of studying Islam, with a project on Islam. Then #2 had a unit on Islam, along with a paper OR a children's book on the 5 Pillars of Islam, to be donated to the local elementary school (!). Then the kitchen never made any progress because Handyman is never here and #3 cried one night that she missed the kitchen. Then I got a letter from the IRS saying I forgot to pay last year's quarterly payment.

Then I decided I had reached my limit...and that's a good thing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


What if your dream horse came into your life belonging to someone else? The color you wanted...the build you wanted...the talent you wanted...the personality you wanted. Would you be happy, or jealous, or a little of both?

What if you were busy living your life and he was more than you could ever spend on a horse, but you got to ride him, for free?

What if the more you got to know him, the more you loved him and then you had to stop riding him because he was going to go showing with someone else?

What if you didn't get to see him again for awhile? Would you be able to just fuggedaboutit--sorta like a high school romance, great and dramatic, but burnt out and over.

What if you could have him, at your house, indefinitely...but he was too lame to ever jump again and might not become sound?

What if your husband said, "That's why we built three stalls." :)

Pinch me...I think I'm dreaming...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Going without

We, in America, don't have too much opportunity to "go without". I tell my girls all the time, "This is America, there is always more." Thankfully. Being part of the lucky sperm club that allowed us to be born here does not make us particularly familiar with denial.

So I wanted to give you a more in-depth picture of what state we are actually in, without a kitchen.

We tore out our kitchen the week after 4th of July. I know this because we planned it all at Scott and Jane's 4th of July party. Handyman said he had a week off and then he was starting a 5-day/week movie for one month. So we decided if we were going to get this whole shebang started, it had to be then. After all, we had purchased the cabinets in November!

So for a week, Dad and Handyman and sometimes Rachael, Mom and I, hauled things out. We did keep the island intact and have used it to great effect, figuring out where and how to position the new island. In fact, it has become a useful tool shelf. I wanted to consider wheels on the new island, but Handyman wants a prep sink and that silly plumbing just doesn't move well.

So our status is this: The ceiling drywall was removed; the insulation above it was removed along with the perimeter bulkheads. The ceiling is rafters, wiring and subfloor for the upstairs above it. There is an open hole above the sink where the vent used to enter the master bath (which is NON-FUNCTIONING!). We put a screen door, covered with plastic, in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room. This kept the A/C in the main part of the house.

The walls have been stripped of 98% of the drywall and nasty insulation behind it. There are wires running to plugs hanging by a screw. There are open cold-air return holes near the floor, which I have blocked so cats cannot go down them. The windows we installed 8 years ago and never painted are shimmed into place.

The new subfloor has been installed everywhere except under the original sink wall, where I threw myself on the floor at Handyman's boots on July 10 and begged for mercy. He wanted to finish the subfloor before leaving for the movie and I said, "Why would you quintuple (a Scrabble term) my misery by taking my sink and dishwasher?? Please, please leave me the sink." (I should have used this method when it came to the upstairs toilet...might've helped my situation.)

So, he left me the sink and dishwasher. It allows me to pretend that I have a real kitchen. Even though the backsplash for that sink is made of particle board.

There is a duct running floor-to-ceiling and a large waste pipe from WHAT USED TO BE THE MASTER BATH, also. The laundry is still up and running in its location that will become the student desk area, with two windows instead of one tiny one.

The entrance to the "back room" has been widened to 4', as planned, and we have sheeted it with heavy black plastic, which lends a festive mood to the whole place. Oh, and the half-bath off the kitchen, where Handyman spent so many happy afternoons in the crawlspace re-doing amateur plumbing debacles, has been covered over with plywood, by the contractors.

We called the contractors back in March, so they could get started while we had good weather (read: no heat necessary), and so they got here just before Labor Day. :) So each morning, after they hand me my deodorant, I head off to work and they stay here and suck money out of our savings account--I mean work on the new back stairs, roof-changes, etc.

They are smart, fast and hard-working. And we talk football in the mornings now. Then I leave for my high-paying sandwich job.

I think the kids have begun to get an appreciation for my cooking, because I don't do it anymore. I think we are saving money from our food budget to pay the contractors (but not nearly enough). I drink yesterday's coffee to save money, and we mooch off Handyman's mom as often as possible.

I kept thinking some of the cats would get eaten by coyotes this summer, as is usually the case, and that would lessen my pet-food budget--but that hasn't happened. I also drive Handyman's dad's little red car to save on gas.

Of course, the flooring we bought 8 years ago for the kitchen does not match the cabinets we bought last November for the kitchen. Fortunately, our house has about 3,000 sq. feet of space still needing finished, so we can use that flooring somewhere else. But, that means we have to pick out and pay for more flooring.

But Handyman is never home. As soon as the kitchen was gutted, he got work for the next 12 years straight, out of state, or so it seems. Everyday I come home from my high-paying sandwich job to an empty house (well, the contractors are usually here, just getting ready to leave), and walk through my stark, plywood kitchen with no counter surface. Past my brushed stainless refrigerator to the plastic-covered screen door, and wonder why in God's name we did all this??

As quickly as possible, I get back outside, with the dogs and I head out to the barn--the glorious barn that took all my kitchen money and all Handyman's remodeling time for 1+ years, and I play with my ridiculous money-eating horses and those stupid, goofy little hay-wasting goats and I text Handyman, who is in Bermuda shooting bathing suits or something, and tell him how much I love it here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hard to Admit

I didn't want to mention this to anyone, because then it would be "out there", admissable. I have become a remodeling wimp. My chops are sagging. For so long I have fancied myself quite the tough girl, capable, strong, fearless, adaptable. But alas, tis but a ruse. I am a pansy in disguise.

Without my own bathroom, I whine and fuss and it's embarrassing. And currently, it is almost like that scene in The Money Pit, where Shelly Long opens the medicine cabinet and the workman on scaffolding on the other side hands her her birth-control pills.

I have a realistic-looking sink. In fact, it would be a real sink, IF IT WEREN'T DISCONNECTED! So I put on make-up at the mirror, listening to the chatting workmen on the other side of the wall. Then I notice the toilet sitting across the room, in pieces and I remember...I DON'T HAVE A BATHROOM OF MY OWN ANYMORE. I share with two girls who make my goats look neat. This isn't pretty, so I'll stop now. (But wait until the middle of the night, when I have to go down two flights of stairs, down the hall, past two large windows, into the bathroom with the COLD TILE FLOOR I HATE!!)

Today the contractors put in two gigantic beams in our garage ceiling. When they built our garage 24' 2x8's for floor joists were allowed...not anymore Paduwan. So up went the uber-beams. And the Jumanji-hole in the floor of the back room is now full with concrete. Tomorrow, the day the first rain in a month is due to come, they will be building out some dormer on the outside before they start cutting through the roof underneath. And they have to frame up the new stairs to the back room. Which will have to get a new name...back room = storage place we love to hate.

In the meantime, the gals and I are having hommus for supper, with cheese sticks, the occasional chicken nugget, bagel, microwave popcorn and tomato soup that I cooked in an electric skillet (courtesy of my SIL). For a treat last Sunday, I cooked macaroni and cheese in a 3-gallon pot on a propane burner in my driveway!

Maybe Grandma will take pity on us again...and hire a plumber.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where's your limit?

Having been without a kitchen for over a month now, I've been feeling a little smug. I've managed to feed a family without a stove or oven, and even had company (kin) over several times. But I may have reached my limit.

On Friday, I came home from work to find that Handyman had dismantled my master bath. This after assuring me on Thursday evening, that he would NOT, I repeat NOT, be "getting into all that" without a few days warning, so I could empty the bathroom of the tubs of linens, plants and 15 years worth of Fine Homebuilding and This Old House magazines, strategically placed near the throne.

Yes, this is the same husband who asked if he could have $500 to replace the icky 30-year old wood sidewalk, and then sweet-talked me into a new roof and two new dormers BEFORE he could do the sidewalk.

Now, keep in mind that the plumbing for the master bath runs through THE KITCHEN CEILING. So, it really does make perfect sense. Sort of like replacing the roof before we put in a new sidewalk. I understand, really.

But now, my comfort has taken a serious hit. I can cook outdoors. I can cook at my MIL's, a mere 3-miles away. I am adept at quite a few things without any cooking. But this whole "go downstairs in the night for a potty break" is going to push me right over the edge, and quickly. Can't brush my teeth upstairs either.

He offered to give me a 5-gallon bucket with a seat on top. I offered him a sleeve of saltines and a jar of peanut butter for supper. We're pretty sure we've bitten off a heimlich-sized chunk of remodeling...but IT's TOO LATE NOW! We can't sell it like this...we have to keep going.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hay, glorious hay!

Well, I am retired for the summer from my new career as a lunch lady. I think it has taken a week of "rest" (and I use that term VERY loosely), for my elbows and wrists to recover from the carpal tunnel of serving 10,000 lbs. of pasta every other day, alternating with washing, scrubbing and loading 768 large baking pans and toting 684 large trays of fruit to and fro.

Just to make sure I was thoroughly ready for summer, we cut hay on my third day home. Again, I am using the term "we" very loosely, as I sent a text message and later drove by the hay field, observing that, indeed, the hay was now lying flat in the field instead of standing. Pretty sure I did not sweat at all.

It was a day my lunch-lady boss termed: "a bad day to be a black dog", meaning humidity at 89% and temps setting records.

But for me, the sweating began later that night, when the weather man, who had sworn on his mother's grave that it would not rain for a fortnight, began suggesting that "isolated" showers might pop up. This, of course, brought back visions of 2009, when due to the monsoons in May and June, we did not cut hay until July 4, whereupon it rained for 12 STRAIGHT hours on my first cutting.

There were some spittles of rain during the next 48 hours, but Jim the hay wizard showed up with all his amazing devices, including the thingy that lifts 10 bales at a time, so he can load them on the wagon, WITHOUT my dad's help. Suffice it to say, that Dad was really relieved to see that big implement in action, since Handyman--as usual--was on some political spot out of town.

And then there's the great generosity of the "New Neighbor". NN is building a lovely home next door on the farm field we lusted after, but knew we could not afford. NN hasn't moved in yet, but along with his lovely home, he has had a very impressive barn erected. (In fact, we've already asked if #1 can have her graduation party there!)

Since Handyman wasn't due home until late the night of the baling, I was, as usual, needing to finagle to get the hay stored. My choices: 1) Have Dad, on the week before his 70th birthday, put up the hay with me...which means in our barn aisle, on the floor, where we could move it later; 2) Leave it on wagon and tarp it, hoping for best and at worst, weeping in yard, watching tarp blow off and hay ruined; or 3)ask NN if we could pull the full wagon into his Barn-Mahal, to sit for the night until Handyman arrives to unload.

I opted for #3 and NN generously agreed. Note to self: Fruitcake will not do as housewarming gift!

So, let's many generous, kind, gracious neighbors do I have? 1. Firefighter who owns the field, and GIVES me his very nice gain for him; 2. Hay guy who drives multiple trips to cut "my" teeny weeny field, loans me his hay wagon overnight at no charge, loads the wagon with the amazing implement so Dad doesn't have to, and comes to pick up the wagon--all at no additional charge; 3)Neighbor with whom I share the hay who also comes to help unload; and 4) NN who allows his BRAND NEW barn-mahal to store my stuff BEFORE he even lives there!

And to top off this list, I would be remiss not to list my dear old dad, who was sure I would outgrow horses, and who came, AGAIN, the week of his landmark b'day, and did it again--impressed all of us with his awesome ability to not show his age and work hard just to be a good dad.

All for my silly yard-art horses, who serve no purpose on earth other than to make me smile and keep my biceps in shape pushing their dung around. ;) TYVM! to all and to all a good night!

Monday, February 28, 2011

NFL Combine

Yeah, yeah...I know all about the Combine. Handyman worked the Combine, all 23 days of it. He shot each of the candidates ("future millionaires" as he called them) inside a big black box, opposite the greenscreen, where his co-worker, a young married woman, spent her days spraying the young men down with they'd look sweaty.

But here at Neverdone, we have our own stinkin' Combine. It's the NFL Combine, and by that I mean Neverdone Farm Labor Combine...where we evaluate candidates' abilities to cut the mustard, as it were, here on the farm.

Our first draftee (and by "draftee" I mean indentured servant), shows great promise and has the added advantage of living here, so her commute would be short...

Here she is demonstrating the poop-sled tow. This is an incredibly important skill, as our ATV has a serious starter disability right now. Handyman keeps asking why, if the horses are so wonderful, they forget to poop outside? Doesn't this young athlete look great?!

Once you reach the dumping ground, you gotta unload that sled, and Candidate #1 has it all together here. Her technique is efficient and smooth. Her demeanor is stable (no Ryan Leaf episodes here!) Let's see what she can do in the barn...

Here, #1 demonstrates that old quad-cramper, the muck tub drag--again, a crucial skill every barn worker must be able to do, a lot.

And then there's the "unload"--this is where skill is vital! Without the proper skill set, you can wind up with a big mess and twice as much work! #1 again shows she is the go-to-gal, with this brilliant, neat download!

After a quick tete-tete with her agent, #1 considers our contract offer (room and board with phone and internet privileges and the possibility of driving a motor vehicle and an assortment of Goodwill clothing) and discusses whether she's ready for the next big step...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Germs run amok!

Just so I can prove that our lives are completely is the timeline from one week ago:

Wednesday pm: We have Awana at our church, where I shepherd 65 2nd graders around for 2 hours. Hectic and worthwhile. Of course there are plenty of germs to go around. 10pm, after we are home, #3 starts complaining of stomach pain and begins vomiting--yea!

Thursday am: I stay home from my amazing lunch lady job to keep #3. She barfs throughout the morning, going through 3 sets of sheets. Somehow she can't get it to the trashcan, or the bathtowel on her bed.

Thursday pm: after washing umpteen sets of pukey sheets, things seem to have settled down and I got the kitchen CLEAN, just like they taught me at work. :) I take #1 across the street after school to keep the little boy who usually comes to our house on Thursdays, trying to save his family from any contamination. She gets to watch 2+ hours of Kipper and some scottish claymation show with funny dialogue she recites for the next 36 hours.

Friday am: I take #3 to her Grandma's for the morning, until Handyman comes home around noonish. (Oh, yeah, he was out of town, of course.) She hasn't barfed since yesterday morning and no fever. She just wants to sleep. My mom is flying in from FL on Saturday night, for an out-patient surgery. Tonight we are supposed to get together with cousins at MIL's house for my SIL b'day.

Handyman picks up #3 after lunch and takes her home. She seems okay. So we take her back to Grandma's and we all have a terrific supper. Fried chicken, homemade slaw, mashed potatoes with horseradish and green beans with bacon. Mmm, mmm, good. (This is important. It'll be the last meal I have for several days.) ;)

Saturday am: I cannot lift my head off the pillow. Somehow, miraculously, I do not barf my brains out. I drink honey water and pepto bismol tablets and never leave my bed, really, for about 8 hours.

Handyman heads to the airport to pick up my mom, and take her to HIS mom's house (where we had dinner last night). The two moms can hang out together and avoid the Bubonic plague that is reproducing in our home.

Sometime late Saturday pm: I learn later that this is when #1, #2 and MIL start barfing their brains out. I am blissfully sleeping through it, while Handyman cringes on the far side of the bed, facing away from me, clutching a Lysol can.
My mom is immersing herself in hand sanitizer, while her hostess is heaving in the next room.

Sunday afternoon: I am able to sit up and watch a little tv. I hear that girls have stopped barfing, but I do not venture downstairs until the later playoff game. Handyman doesn't really want me to sit by him, I can tell. I see rolled up sheets by the washer. I'm sure he'll get those washed for me. Mom is not barfing yet.

Sunday pm: #1 and #2 are grey with blue lips. I think they can stay home tomorrow. #3 is back to normal. Mom makes a batch of Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings and sends them up with Handyman. They are awesome. I eat two entire spoonfuls!

Monday am: #1 and #2 stay home. I go to work. #3 goes to school. MIL is reputedly recovering. Mom still not barfing, which is good. She has to be at surgery at 7 am tomorrow.

Monday pm: #1 and #2 have regained their color and have watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy all day. #2 is with me that the battle scenes are too epic, too long and too boring. Everyone will be heading back to school tomorrow. I discover rolled up icky sheets still by the washer and take them directly to the trashcan.

Tuesday 5:40 a.m. I wake up to that familiar sound: "Bwaaaaaah!" It's Handyman, in the bathroom! Ack! Quick call to Mom, who says MIL is up and going already and she can take Mom to surgery and bring her home. Good thing--Handyman isn't leaving the bedroom. I cover all the chores, dogs, chickens, horses, cats, kids and head back to work while my head starts getting snotty.

Tuesday pm: Surgery goes well and Mom arrives back at Base Camp #2. Girls take out trash cans and Handyman remains completely out of commission. I continue to do all chores and make a new batch of laundry soap.

Wednesday: Another Wednesday, here already?! Off to Awana again. Handyman rises from his sickbed in the late afternoon. I still haven't seen my mother, who came into town last Saturday.

Thursday: We seem to be over it and I got a jump start on losing those 5 lbs. I gained over Christmas. I get to see Mom, who is leaving on Monday. We laugh (not at all) about the amazing-ness of bacteria.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy New Year!

I gotta tell you that Handyman made the most amazing dinner for New Year's Day. Usually my mom would put on the feast of pork roast and sauerkraut; but with her absence, I did not want to even attempt that, knowing anything I did would pale by comparison.

So, as usual for inspiration, I went to Pioneer Woman and saw the picture in the sidebar of filet au poivre.

Handyman has made steak au poivre many times, so it wasn't going to be a stretch. And being the tightwads that we are, he pulled out several older t-bones from the freezer and just cut them into beautiful little "filets". But he added some boxed calamari from Costco, which was good--even though we weren't able to quickly come up with the Carraba's hot pepper sauce. And then he made blackened scallops, which have been on our favorites list since way back when we were first married and had them in Lexington--our second favorite small city.

Not sure it could've been better--well maybe when the new kitchen is in--BY SUMMER! Next year's New Year's dinner will not involve particle board backsplashes, leaky can lights, a smoky oven and floors so cold we can keep raw meat out. Next year's dinner will not have a dog kennel stacked with laundry in the same room. Next year, we might even have our Christmas tree in the back room. We'll have to stop calling it the back room.

Handyman was off work all this past week, while I was back at the sandwich counter, bringing in the big adult dollars. He finished off the dormer drywall over the front door and it is beautiful. I can't believe how much it adds to the house, dust that is. I'll try to post a picture this week, from the front of the house. The dormers have really made us love the look of the whole place. It looks homier, and more stylish. We roofed the dormers with standing-seam metal all the way to the peak--very striking. He still has to trim out the new window and re-hang the chandelier, but it's almost done. And like a good carpenter, he is finishing here before he starts something else!

I told him we HAVE to put another dormer on the opposite side of the house, at the back of the stairway, looking to the north where we can see the creek and the park. He, of course, rolls his eyes and says I am crazy, but every now and then, he knows--I AM RIGHT. :)