I Can Handle It

In spite of the weather prognosticators calling for winter weather this coming Tuesday, I broke ground in my garden today.  Well, sort of.  Because the shovel handle was broken, the rake handle was broken, I couldn’t find a hand spade, and I refused to buy new stuff.  I called to mind one of my favorite old propaganda posters of yesteryear:

use it up

I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns and replace the broken handles.  How hard can it be?

I used a pry bar and a hammer to remove the two small nails holding the handle into the shovel ‘head’.  Then I used a properly sized wrench in an entirely improper manner to back the broken wood out of the head of the shovel.

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I followed a similar method with the leaf rake, but it was more challenging because no one ever imagined that someone might want to replace the handle.  Thus, the only way to get the broken wood out of the ‘head’ of the rake was with a drill and a spade bit.

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Battle is half won!  A trip to Carson’s for new handles, a short chat about the weather with the overalled owner as we stood in the aisle between the poultry feed and the deli, and we’re off!  (I’d already been in the store twice before this morning, once for feed and once for broccoli plants.  Sometime I wonder how scatterbrained they think I am.)

The handles were astonishingly easy to install.  Place in the ‘shaft’, upend and have your husband pound repeatedly on the ground while complaining it is hurting his hands, take the tool back and nail or screw into place the holding nails or um, screws and you’re done!

Except for the small bit about not actually even starting to turn over the garden.  But when you’ve done that and moved a dead squirrel carcass that you’ve been waiting for bugs to eat so that you can retrieve its tiny skull with it’s tiny teeth, well, then you have an Official Spring Garden!  Yay!

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Now I just need to plant the other beds in something….

Stormy Weather

“Don’t know why, there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather….”

I realize that Miss Lena was singing about a summer storm, but the words are certainly apropos to the scene outside my window.  The sky is grey and powder fine snow is falling on a nice layer of sleet from last night.  I waited until 10 AM before going out to feed the chickens so that I could make a better, um, well-fed, decision on whether to let them out of the coop.

I hate carrying buckets of water down questionable snow and ice covered steps.  Since the tree fell on the back stairs last year I have not rebuilt them well and there is no handrail and the last step tends to move when you step on it.  Thus I descend the steps like a toddler, one step at a time, gingerly, dreading some back-breaking fall.  I made it down safely, Chloe dancing around in front of me, asking in her little doggy brain why I am sooooo slow.  I happen to know that she is just too stupid to care if she falls–I have seen her go charging out the door and slip and slide all the way across the deck and down the stairs, OOF!, without a care in her pea sized encephalon, and repeat the process each time she goes outside.  Not a lot of learning going on in there, folks.

I had enough confidence in myself by the time I got to the gate to use one foot to kick the frozen gate latch, breaking the ice, so I could get through the gate and repeat this fabulous Ninja move on the coop door bolts and the feed bin lid.  Yes, you should be picturing me as a Ninja with slow motion photography and awesome music.  I check the big chickens first–water good, but here’s some more, food good, shut the door.  Behind the next door, (for newer readers, my coop is a duplex so I can separate baby chicks from the big girls), the fat broilers squawk and grunt rather unpleasantly.  They are sitting around the feeder, just waiting.  The wonky-legged girl has positioned herself half way between the waterer and the feeder so she only has to lurch one step in either direction.  Pouring two good scoops into the feeder is akin to dropping a goat in a raptor cage–Watch out!  Keep your arms and legs inside the ride vehicle at all times!  Park will not be responsible for injuries!

I do wonder, in the sense of marveling or being amazed over, at the non-broilers in that group.  That they manage to get any food at all is a miracle. But I see how creative they are:  Sometimes they stand on the backs of the broilers and peck away at the food from the safety of their sturdy perch.  They might get a spot crouched beneath the feeder and peck at the pellets that rain down as the broilers gorge themselves.  I’ve even seen an adventurous one attempt to shoulder the broilers out of the way to gain a spot around the red rim of the feeder.  They are, no pun intended, plucky little guys.

If it had not snowed today, I think it would have been butchering day for the broilers.  They are like sumo wrestlers, stomping around in soiled mawashi.  But, alas, I will not butcher in the snow.  Naked ground will absorb blood and erase the stain of the taking of life, but snow is unforgiving and will only reproach me repeatedly as I walk by the splash of red on white.  No, it will have to wait another day or two.  Then I will have the ‘fun’ of slaughtering, plucking and eviscerating, by myself most likely, nine obese birds who will then go to ‘live’ in my dangerously empty freezer.

I warn you, it will not be pretty, but it will one day be delicious, and that is what makes it worth while.  :O)

Life Is Messy

The high winds and bright sunshine are blowing Winter away and I will not be sad to see it go.  It has been a brutal winter for me:  I was horribly sick for December, January and the first half of February.  I thought I would die, that I would feel totally exhausted forever and that Work was going to kill me.  Eventually I did get better and I adjusted my work schedule and Life is a little better.

Life, however, is messy, and even as my strength returned Good Enough Farm has experienced unforeseen difficulties.  I have been selling my eggs to Mayberry’s Produce Market just down the road from me;  Due to health problems, Mr. Mayberry is going out of business and I will have to either find another place to sell to or downsize the flock.  It is difficult to make the decision either way.  It was so hard for me to ‘sell’ myself to someone in the first place and I just don’t want to go through it again.  I love looking out at my flock and it’s varied colors and busyness.  I would miss that if it were reduced.  And I just added to it in January with four layers and a docile rooster waiting to join up with the main flock in another month.  What to do, what to do?

Part of that January chicken order was an even 10 broilers.  One died the first week and the other nine are fattening up slowly.  I have to take the bathroom scale out and start weighing them so I can butcher the fattest ones early.  One of them has a wonky leg and I keep thinking that I should just put her out of my misery;  She does get around, albeit with difficulty, so I grant her a reprieve each day, waiting until there will be no more days for her.

Growing your own food is messy.

Gardens struggle and fail, rabbits overproduce or underproduce or get eaten by raccoons, broilers are hideous but delicious, chickens lay too many eggs or not enough eggs.  *sigh*

I didn’t realize all the ways that it is more responsible.  I am responsible for the health of my soil because of what I do or don’t add to it.  I am responsible for the health of my plants because of the attention that I do or don’t give them;  If they get eaten up by bugs or disease that is because I didn’t do my job.  If my lovely pumpkin vine only gives me one pumpkin, I’m responsible because I didn’t sit out there and assist the male flowers to pollinate the female flowers.  If I lose a dozen eggs in one week to breakage I’m responsible because I didn’t add the powdered egg shells to the feed.

But I don’t think I would trade any of it for an ‘easier’ way.  It has been a blessing, a tremendous gift, to be connected to the earth, to the animals, to Life.

Life is messy.  So are bare feet in the mud and garden dirt on your hands, piles of animal manure and rich compost, sweaty faces and sunburned backs bent tending over a garden plot.

What a glorious mess.

Good Enough Farm Has Moved To WordPress

A funny thing happened to me yesterday.  I was following links from a news page and ended up on a story about how to disappear from the internet.  The steps were rather drastic, but then I suppose they would be.  I thought to myself, well, I don’t really want to disappear from the internet, but I would like to simplify my presence.  Have a little more control.  I thought I would start with some downsizing.

Having gotten suckered into Google+ a while back and then never liking it or using it, I thought, here’s a good place to start; I’ll ditch Google+.  This is easier said than done.  There are conflicting instructions on how to do it, which are all hard to find, and warnings that if you delete Google+ that your life will end because you will lose youtube, blogger, picasa, gmail…  Frankly, my love affair with Google had ended a few years ago and I resented being so tied into something that if I wanted to opt out of one thing then I had to opt out of everything.  I finally found a way to just lose Google+ and youtube.  But a seed had been planted.

My husband sometimes catches me in the middle of being evil and resentful and he asks me why do I want to do that?  I answer, “Because I’m good at it.”  This is sad but true.  So this evil, resentful seed sprouted and said, “Who needs Google anyway?  (Except my gmail, which I’m happy with today, right now, at this second.)  I’ll just take my ball and go home!

And I did.

I hope that we all find a happy home here on WordPress.  It will be an adjustment for all of us, but I’ve adjusted a lot over the last year and you have all come along for the ride.  I hope you stay.  Cuz the broilers are about ready for an adjustment and I know you don’t want to miss that!