Friday, February 28, 2014

Back online!

Which means I can annoy you daily now with freebies for your Kindle instead of once a week, haha. Seriously, it's great having internet again, and I'm going to seriously enjoy every minute I get to spend online of an evening now. There's so much to get done, though.

1. Website for the farm, which includes a LOT of stuff. My notes for it are a bit of a mish mash but they do make sense. Things like: main page for site; move blog from blogger? and does blog import if I make a post on blogger?; CSA if one is done once farm is running much better; events calendar; store; photos; recommended products lists; kindle freebies list ... you get the idea.

2. Get all my patterns finalized into form with good photos so they can go in the store, as well as various other online venues like Etsy, Ravelry and so forth.

3. Get my jewelry and crafts making going again with stuff to sell.

4. Write more books/booklets, though most will be under a pseudonym to differ the author based on what type of book/booklet it is.

5. Continue other money-making enterprises I have been working on in bits and pieces as time has allowed.

And that's just the online stuff. Never mind spring cleaning, yard work, cutting brush and trees for firewood or burning, burying junk trash that can't be burned or scrapped, scrapping out more of the Merlot, ordering seeds for hopefully a garden this year (or saving the seed for next year), maybe getting the trees and such that can go into half barrel planters for a while ordered and planted, knitting up an afghan or three to use up the rest of all my scrap yarns that are sitting around here, yard sale browsing, putting stuff up for sale on Amazon ... and somewhere in all of that is my job, food, sleep and social time. How it's all going to get managed, I don't know, but it will be done.

Thankfully, a lot of it is one-offs. For example, knitting up an afghan from scrap yarn. Once that several yards of scrap is knitted up, it doesn't have to be done again. Buying seeds and trees, ditto. A good chunk of that list is a lot of one-offs that never have to be done again once they're accomplished.

I'd've gotten some done outside this week with the days getting slightly longer, to where I have about half an hour of daylight left after I get home from work yet. However, we had another cold snap this week that is supposed to last through most of next week as well, which means no getting out, because it will be too freaking cold. With working in a cold environment all day, the last thing I want to do when I come home in the evening is freeze even longer to get things done.

Okay, I admit it - I'm just a bit of a wimp in the respect of cold weather anymore. I'm 46 this summer and I've got arthritis settling into my joints. Me and the cold outdoors don't get along as well as we used to anymore, so I tend to just go the heck with this crap after I've been in it eight hours or so already. Yet another reason to not get livestock - I'd be the one responsible for it, and I'm not all that inclined to get out of bed at 3AM anymore unless it's life or death emergency time, even when it's cold. ESPECIALLY when it's cold. I'm afraid livestock would get neglected for the lure of a warm bed, and I won't do that. It's one thing to get up late to give the boys their "gushy fuds" for breakfast, because they always have water and free choice kibble. But you can't do that with livestock in a barn. They expect breakfast at a specific time every day, and you by gosh better provide it!

There's so many ways I can make money from home, and eventually replace my Tysons check. Don't get me wrong, most days, I really like my job, and when things go really well as they have the last couple of weeks, I love it. But I love more being able to work from home on things I enjoy doing, and having my house shipshape and Bristol fashion, as the saying goes, and being able to provide a hot dinner every day rather than coming home tired and achy and hoping I have the oomph to stop on the way and pick up a pizza or burgers or something because I just don't have it in me to cook after eight or so hours on my feet. It sucks, it really does, because I love to cook, so much. But work and commuting precludes that, when work leaves me pretty pooped.

So it will be nice once my online stuff gets going again and I can work from home. Did you guys know that the average at-home worker recovers between ninety and one hundred hours a MONTH of their lives back, mostly through not having to commute? I don't know about you guys, but I sure could use that extra time to catch up some sleep and still have eight hours or more a day to do needlework (and work up the patterns for sale), make jewelry and other crafts, garden, do cleanup and more.

As far as my seed catalog perusals, I'm down to Johnnys, High Mowing, Terroir and Totally Tomato. Slowly but surely, I'm plowing through to make overall picks of what I'd like from everybody. Then it's sort it out and narrow it down to what I actually will get and from whom. Right now, that spreadsheet is a big mess, but in a week or so, I'll be spending an evening narrowing things down to the best bang for my buck, so I won't be getting the same thing from several different companies (like Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach, for example, because just about everybody has that!).

Though I have to admit, getting the router to connect took a while, and was kind of annoying, but not nearly as annoying as Quentin dealing with the TV people to get help setting up the new remote. The buttons on the old one were sticking pretty badly from use, so they sent a new one, which also arrived today. Bad part is, Quentin couldn't get it to connect to the satellite receiver, and the gal he got on the phone was next to no help at all, seems to be half deaf considering how many times he had to repeat stuff, and then he got disconnected. He's still at it, and getting rather frustrated, for which I can not blame him.

But that's it for tonight. More tomorrow (maybe), even if it's just freebie books, though that's likelly all it will be and late to boot. You see, we have a date with Mid-States Wrestling tomorrow night for a show and it usually runs kind of late. After spending most of the day doing chores and errands to begin with, then going to the show, I'm going to be one pooped lady!

KINDLE FREEBIES FOR THE DAY - As always, they may not be free when you get to them, but they are free when I post them.

Homesteading books

Economic Survival Pantry for Beginners: A Prepper Mom's Guide for Emergency Essential Food Storage, Recipes, Seeds, Tool, Kits and Spreadsheet to Prepare Your Family for any Disaster or Worst-Case
Back Country Crafts Made Easy: 25 Crafts to Warm Your Heart
Crochet Pattern: Octopus ((Animal Amigurumi: Crochet Animals))
Knitting 101: A Beginner's Step-by-Step Guide To Knitting like a Pro


Simple Rice Cookbook: Risottos, Chilis and Other Rice Recipes For Fast Home Cooking
Paleo Chicken Recipes - 30 Delicious Paleo Chicken Recipes (Quick and Easy Paleo Recipes)
Just Enough: Home Cooking for 1 or 2
50 Kickass Potato Recipes Fried, Baked, Mashed Potatoes - It's all here!
Wheat Free Cook Book Simple Wheat Free Recipes for Weight Loss and Health
Snack & Dessert Quinoa Recipes (Easy Quinoa Recipes)
Gluttony of Gluten-Free - Baking and Slow-Cooker Recipes
Easy Chocolate Cupcake Recipe Ideas 45 Tasty Crockpot Soup And Stew Recipes For All Families
Favorite Easy Casserole Recipes - Tried and True Comfort Food
Country Baking and Desserts (Delicious Mini Book)
Crumbles of Cornbread (Easy Cheap Comfort Eats)

Ok, it's nearing my bedtime, so I'm done for the night. I'll write more tomorrow or Sunday for sure, especially since I don't have to go to McQuack's anymore! Yay!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

O frabjous day!

Seeing's how warm weather is arriving rather quickly, it's time for fun. I cannot believe the change in temperatures the last few days, as it's gone from freezing to mid-60F pretty much overnight. This is incredible, other than the extra winds we're having. I can deal with that, as it is much better than having to bundle up so I don't freeze my fanny off on the way back and forth to work. Of course, the winds means that any further catchup on the trash burning. I don't really mind, even though it needs doing, just because it's WARMER!

This means that I'm soon going to be getting my happy behind outside once I get home from work so I can get some wood cut and some trash cleared up and just generally do things that are fun and outdoors and in the warm and not leaving me cooped up indoors with the boob tube. I don't mind the background racket and all the knitting time, but after three months of it, I'm a little bored.

But I'm nearly caught up with my catalogs, with only nine more to go through. Yeah, that's still a lot, but since the seeds are going to get tucked away for the future anyhow, no real biggie if I don'tget to them until late spring. It's better than not getting to them at all. I'm finishing up Shumway's, then there's still Totally Tomato, Territorial, Burpees, Cooks Garden, Johnny's, HPS, Terroir and High Mowing to get through. My basic list is going to be huge, it won't take long to pare it down to just the stuff that isn't duplicates and get me the most bang for my buck.

The week through Wednesday continued warmer and windy, but it was so nice. So what if I couldn't get the trash burnt any more for now, it was nice out! I'm having such a good time being able to sit in the living room to play on the computer, without having to be bundled up like an Eskimo, or having to hunker down in the bedroom under a zillion layers of afghans to stay warm. This weather is so very welcome. I think I'm just going to bleeding well enjoy the heck out of it.

By Thursday, I was still glad of the warmer temperatures, and that work has been going so well. Seriously, nothing has been breaking down and causing major stoppages for several minutes at a time, and things have generally been going really, really well. It's been a lot of fun the last few days, even though I walk out with extremely sore feet yet.

Did I mention that I've got a pair of really nice hiking shoes on layaway? Harness Boots in downtown Harrison, right on the square, does layaways and has some seriously cool stuff. Justin, Ariat, Red Wing, Carhartt ... all top brands at good prices. Best of all, they do layaway, which a lot of places don't. Ten bucks holds your new footgear, and just make a small weekly payment, at least another ten bucks, and they'll hold your stuff for you till you get it paid off. I put a pair of nice hiking shoes on layaway last weekend, total cost $130 and change. Worth it, though. I love these things. I have crazy feet, I swear. The ball is wide, the heel is narrow, the tumble last summer left me with a cankle on the left side, and I have extremely high arches. There's nearly three inches between the bottom of my foot and my ankle bone, which makes regular pull-on boots of any kind pretty much impossible to get on my feet. No matter how much I point my toe, my heel gets stuck on the back of the heel.

These are just hiking shoes, but they've got excellent ankle support, lots of tread on a solid sole that's not going to detach from the uppers any time soon, waterproofed leather, good arch support, and so comfortable that I can't imagine wearing anything else to work once I have them paid off. These things are going to get beat all to heck there and here, with outdoors work, and they will last a long time, so the money's worth it. So very, very worth it. I can hardly wait to get them paid off and show you what they look like, besides "hiking shoes."

And my seed "want" list is so huge, lol. I'll be glad when I get through the last of these catalogs so I can sort things out by vegetable and variety and price, and get the best price point that I can. I love Pinetree's affordability, but honestly, for about fifty cents more on many things, I can get a lot more seeds for the price, so I'm going for the best price per seed as well as everything else. I'm on a budget, and I've got to get the most bang I can get for my bucks, much like many of us who homestead. So there's a lot of things to consider and get done.

The log cabin afghan got a quick border knitted on it, and shipped off Thursday morning. Well, early afternoon, Quentin's morning, as he mailed it for me on his way to work. There's a reason it didn't end up larger and here. Once again, I needed an emergency gift for someone. Seems like most of the afghans I make end up being gifted to someone, which is fine, but boy, I sure would like to have one I finish up and keep for the couch one of these days, lol!

But that still doesn't bring us to the frabjous day, does it?

Friday was pretty decent, considering that winds were just ridiculous. The newscast said in Springfield, MO, that the gusts were up to 60-60 mph, and it wasn't much better here. I thought the car was going to be blown off the road in the morning on my way to work. By the time Quentin headed in, he had to stop several times on the mountain road to pull tree branches, some of the of good size, out of the way to make the road passable again. He also stopped on the way in and picked up a box from Mom which contained our very late Christmas presents.

I got candles from Amber, when she'd said yarn, but still welcome, as they are what she used to call "stink pretty" candles - various scents. Mom got me my usual tree ornament, and some puzzles, which she got the picture off the top of the box, and put it in the bag with the pieces, then taped the bag shut to keep things together. Quentin got the short end of the stick, lol. All he got was a t-shirt from Amber, because Mom says she never knows what to get him. (He officially gets part of the gift card she sends every year, but it's not quite the same.) But his jaw dropped when he opened the shirt, because it's Dukes of Hazzard with the General Lee on it, one of his favorite cars from a favorite TV show.

I also managed to get ahold of Hughes Net, which, while not my preferred choice of internet provider, at least will provide it up here on the mountain without a lot of hassles, and with decent bandwidth for up and downloads. That's set up to be installed on the 28th, this upcoming Friday, because Quentin's off probation as of the 25th, Tuesday, and is taking Friday off to celebrate and relax, while also doing a quick errand in the morning before being back here in time for the internet setup.

Saturday was a lot of errands, including the frabjous day. I've never really been quite sure how Lewis Carroll intended frabjous to be defined, because it is a made-up word, and it's been so long since I read "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass" that about all I remember is the frabjous day, calloo, callay, beware the Jabberwock, my son, and the vorpal sword going snicker-snack. I tend to use it for really superb days, and Saturday was one of them. Though by the time we got everything done, got home, and got groceries put away, I was so exhausted and dealing with a mild fibromyalgia flare, that I had to take a four-hour nap.

But the day. Wow. Not only was it nearly 70F, but errands got done in jig time, overall, including a couple of extras. And we got a very pleasant surprise when we got to Bill's to make a payment on the truck, which we figured was almost paid off. Somehow, either I missed recording a couple of small ones, or the thing got added up incorrectly by Bill's wife, Faye, but we walked in and discovered that apparently, we only owed $125 yet on the van. I had $170 on me that was possibly going to be used to set up the internet, but that had only been a $40 hold on my debit card, with the actual $60 or so charge going on after it's set up (so that comes out of my NEXT paycheck, and the $40 hold is released in a few days - they do it to make sure the card is good for payment when it's all set up). We went outside, made a call to the bank to make sure we still had more than enough to get through the week till payday again, and I pulled a bit more out of that $170 to pay off the van instead of making a bigger than normal payment.

O, frabjous day, calloo, callay! That means the van is completely ours, and Friday morning, Quentin will go to the revenue office and transfer the title all to us, no lein on it. Bill made jokes that now we just needed another $500 or so for a downpayment and he'd get us busy buying another vehicle. Sometime later this summer or early fall, more than likely, we'll go see him again, for a 4x4 for me for this upcoming winter, just in case the roads get screwy again. Because that $65 a week now can go to paying off some back bills and getting out of debt. YAY!

So this has been a fabulous week, and it's all just getting better. With the advent of internet at home, that means this is my last missive from McQuack's on a Sunday. They'll be posted from home from here on out, and as of Friday, there will be daily posts of the Kindle freebies, so those who have been missing out because they were no longer free at the point at which they had a chance to get at them will have a better chance at them still being free. Good news all round. Now to just hope it stays that way for a while!

Now it's time for the Kindle freebies - remember that they are free only for a short time. Starting Friday, however, there will be DAILY posts of Kindle freebies and news, so you'll have a much better chance of getting the freebies. Hope you guys have more patience than I do ... it's only a few more days and I'm anxious! I also should note, has been performing better lately now that I've figured it out, so I'm going back to using it with the text links here. If it makes a bit of chump change, that's great. Just remember to wait the five seconds for the top bar to load and then skip the ad so I get credited. Thanks guys, for reading, for helping to make this blog worth writing, for everything. I love you guys!


Homesteading Books

Essential Vegetables Box Set (4 Books in 1 Package): Organic Gardening with Tomatoes, Potatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, Broccoli, Cabbage, and More
Gardening in a Cool Climate
Backyard Berries - A Step by Step Guide to Growing Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries & Raspberries in Your Backyard
The Creamy Craft of Cosmetic Making with Essential Oils and their friends
The Great American Jerky Cookbook: A simple guide to making your own authentic jerky with 52 delicious jerky marinade recipes
How To Saw Logs Into Boards With A Portable Band Saw Sawmill
SOAP: How to Make Natural Handmade Soap. (A Home Life Book)
Boxed Set 4 How To Make Natural Skin Care Products (How To Make Natural Skin Care Products Series)
Chopping Wood Tips For The Homeowner
Low-Maintenance Greenhouse Gardening Book: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Setting up Your Own Greenhouse
How To Make Gardening Easier


Paleo Slow Cooker: 33 Quick Prep, Easy, Healthy And Delicious Smelling Paleo Slow Cooker Meals-Eat Well Even If You Are Tight On Time Through Paleo Slow ... , Paleo Slow Cooker Meals, Palo Diet)
Easy Ice Cream Recipes - Homemade Decadent Recipes You Are Sure To Love (The Easy Recipe)
Quick & Delicious - 25 NO BAKE DESSERTS - Pies, Cheesecake, Cake Recipes (Easy Dessert Recipes Collection)
Quick & Delicious Chicken Recipes (Easy Everyday Chicken Dinner Recipes The Whole Family Will Love)
Perfect Pierogi Recipes
5 Minute Paleo Recipes: The Ultimate Paleo Cookbook For Busy People (Quick and Easy Recipe Guide Vol 1)
50 Delicious Apple Pie Recipes - Delicious Apple Pies To Make All Year Long (The Ultimate Apple Desserts Cookbook - The Delicious Apple Desserts and Apple Recipes Collection)
50 Vegetarian Casserole Recipes - The Vegetarian Casserole Cookbook (Vegetarian Cookbook and Vegetarian Recipes Collection)
30 Paleo Breakfast And Egg Recipes - Simple & Easy Paleo Breakfast and Egg Recipes (Paleo Recipes)
Classic Italian Cuisine Cookbook - 80+ Delicious Italian Dishes - Seafood, Side Dishes, Soups and Salad Recipes
36 Recipes For Beef Soup - The Easy Beef Soup Recipe Collection (The Amazing Recipes for Soup and Ultimate Soup Recipes Collection)
Paleo Lunch Recipes - On The Go Healthy Additions To Delectable Cuisine (The Easy Recipe)
21 Classic Italian Pizza & Calzone - Delicious Homemade Pizza and Calzone Plus Pizza Dough and Pizza Sauce Recipes
Christmas Value Pack II - 200 Christmas Cookie Recipes - Assorted Christmas Cookies, Drop Cookies, Bar Cookies and Sliced Cookies (The Ultimate Christmas Recipes and Recipes For Christmas Collection)
My Favorite Twenty Pies (Easy Cheap Comfort Eats)
Just 3 Or Less Steps Vegetarian Seasonal Dishes: Top 30 Most-Wanted & Mouth-Watering Vegetarian Seasonal Recipes in Only 3 Steps
Just 3 Or Less Steps Vegetarian Main Dishes: Top 30 Most-Wanted & Mouth-Watering Vegetarian Main Dish Recipes in Only 3 Steps - Volume No. 2
Easy To Make Cake Balls Recipes: Quick And Easy Ideas To Get You Started Making Delicious Cake Balls Today (Cake Balls recipes, carrot cake, chocolate cake, cookie pops, cupcakes, dessert recipes)
Just 3 Or Less Steps Vegetarian Holiday-Event Dishes: Top 30 Most-Wanted & Mouth-Watering Vegetarian Holiday-Event Recipes in Only 3 Steps
Only N Only 3 Steps Vegetarian Main Dishes: Collection of 30 Top Class Healthy, Easy, Super-Delicious & Most Popular Vegetarian Main Dish Recipes In Just 3 Or Less Steps - Volume No. 3
Breakfast Quinoa Recipes (Easy Quinoa Recipes)
Chicken Breast Recipes: Sweet and Spicy Chicken Breast Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and More. (The Easy Recipe)
Gluttony of Gluten Free - Cake, Cookie, and Dessert Recipes (Gluttony of Gluten-Free)
50 Easy Frozen Yogurt Recipes - The Frozen Yogurt Cookbook (The Summer Dessert Recipes And The Best Dessert Recipes Collection)
Old Fashioned Recipe's Like Grandma Used To Make
The Gluten-Free Dessert Bible (Gluttony of Gluten-Free)
Christmas Value Pack I - 200 Recipes For Christmas Dinner, Christmas Desserts, Christmas Candy and Christmas Pies (The Ultimate Christmas Recipes and Recipes For Christmas Collection)
Summer Desserts Value Pack I - 150 Recipes For Ice Cream Cakes, Homemade Ice Cream and Milkshakes (The Summer Dessert Recipes And The Best Dessert Recipes Collection)
90 Healthy Recipes The Mediterranean Diet: The Eating Plan For A Healthy Life
Top 30 Super Quick & Easy North American Vegetarian Recipes in Only 3 Steps
Beef Slow Cooker Recipes: Easy and Delectable Slow Cooked Meals For Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (The Easy Recipe)
Cooking Made a Piece of Cake!
Latest Collection of 30 Top Class, Easy, and Popular Italian Main Dish Recipes
Cooking Under Pressure for Beginners: The Ultimate Electric Pressure Cooker Guide
Incredibly Delicious Soup Recipes from the Mediterranean Region (Healthy Cookbook Series)
Just 3 Or Less Steps Japanese Vegetarian Dishes: Top 30 Most-Wanted & Mouth-Watering Japanese Vegetarian Recipes in Only 3 Steps
Top 30 Popular, Recommended, Super-Duper Delicious, Quick And Easy Recipes For Coffee For You And Your Family
36 Recipes For Chicken Soup - The Easy Chicken Soup Recipe Collection (The Amazing Recipes for Soup and Ultimate Soup Recipes Collection)
How to Substitute any Common Ingredient when you're in the middle of making cookies, or anything else.
Top 40 Casserole Recipes For Vegan and Non-Vegan
Only 3 Steps Top 30 Lebanese Vegetarian Recipes For Everyone
Top 30 Super Tasty French Main Dishes For You And Your Family
Top 30 Easy and Quick Breakfast Recipes With 5 Or Less Ingredients
Top 30 Nutritious And Recommended Australian Dessert Recipes

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cold is crappy but spring is coming

Sunday was not a good day. I won't go into details, but Quentin's temper got the best of him again over something minor and stupid, and I nearly told him to pack up and leave. Yes, my friends, things with him are that bad, and despite what someone suggested last summer, it's not because he doesn't want to go off-grid. There are a host of issues that I'm not comfortable opening up about, just please keep us in your thoughts and prayers that we make it through this in one piece. Most of the time, everything is dandy, but that day it was one of his "bad" days, where his temper flares over nothing, and it's all I can do not to throw him out and be done with him. With his behavior over the last several months and his temper, things between us are in rather a rough patch right now. So Sunday was a major piece of doo doo. If I hadn't wanted to rest my legs, I would have soooo gone to McQuack's to get away from everything for a few hours, but that walk was just a bit much for me to contemplate that day.

Monday it felt so good to get back to work. Funny, but I thought off and on during the day that once things get to where I can quit and work just from home, how much I'll miss the place in some ways. Ok, so I work with some incredibly stupid people, and some of what we have to do and the way we have to do it make absolutely no sense whatsoever. But it's a bit of a social life during the week, and there are rather few places in rural America where you are going to find this high a pay, excellent benefits (I could go on for a while with that list) ... oh yeah, and let's not forget the pretty much guaranteed forty hours a week, every single week of the year unless you take time off. That is some awesome stuff, folks. If you live an hour or so from a Tyson's plant and need a job, go to the Tyson's employment website and put in an application. (OK, enough blathering about how great my job is.)

Now, Monday wasn't that bad, overall. My buddy Christine is on light duty for a few days because she sprained her hand over the weekend, so she's out of the department. Her hand's got to be kept wrapped and iced, and you can't wash the wrap, so she can't wash up before going into production, and thus is on light duty somewhere. I really wish she'd been able to be there. The moment I walked into the department, I could tell it would be a rough start. For some reason, the gates to dump boobs into the x-ray hoppers weren't working right, and they were all going into the middle hopper. It was a nightmare. Five people standing there, with one of them (me) doing their level best to hold the birds in the hopper so they didn't fall on the floor, while helping the other four to throw them into the hoppers on either side to lighten the load.

Then hopper belts were sticking, x-rays weren't kicking off birds with bones like they were supposed to, and the newer shoulder cutters (the folks who make the cuts to separate the breast meat and wings from the collarbones on the whole birds) were leaving a lot of bits and pieces of bones, so the trimming tables were swamped. It was a horrifically busy day, but it made the day go zipping by!

I did get a surprise at the end of the day. Bobbi's mom and aunt had gotten their 4x4 Explorer stuck this morning, and I passed by them on my walk down to the car this morning. They only had one set of ice cleats between them, so I held their hands for a bit of extra steadying and helped them get off the ice and into dirt tire tracks so they could walk back up to their house while waiting for the wrecker. Bobbi's mom said it would be 3-4 hours before the wrecker could get there, and it was about 7AM then.

But that was good for all of us, because the family is on very good terms with the county judge, who also happens to be the head of the road maintenance department. One thing you do find in rural living, is that many folks in the county wear multiple hats. So if a 4x4 can't get down the road safely, you know there is an issue that will mean a call to the road crews! Sometime just before lunch, Quentin told me, the grader came by and scraped the ice and slush off the road some more, as well as dumping some large pea gravel to help with melting. With all the trees along the sides of the road keeping the sun from making a full solar dump on the ice except where it's clear (cow pasture and easements), gravel instead of rock salt often works better on the dirt roads here. This is because the gravel absorbs what heat there is and releases it slowly over time, no matter how cold it is. Rock salt generally doesn't work too well below freezing, and as cold as it is lately, it's not doing a lot of good for anybody.

So with that news, I took a chance on the way home. I got to the road in plenty of time to have some daylight left to check things out before committing to driving up. This way, I figured if it still looked bad past the second cattle guard, I could get backed up to the cow pasture and still walk. Lo and behold, it didn't look great, especially with the first incline right after the cattle guard, but there were tire tracks down to the dirt in enough spots that I took a quick deep breath and gunned it. Upsy-daisy I went, heart in my throat the whole time. I made it up fine, with only a teeny bit of slippage on the second incline where I got stuck in the mud right after we moved here. (Boy, do I remember that day well ... sliding backwards downhill at speed and no traction for braking to work, so my only hope was to steer onto one of the gravel grading ridges instead of hitting a tree or going off into a culvert. I felt lucky to "just" hit a ridge and high-center the car!) Not enough slippage to worry about or slow me down, just a bit of tire skitter on a bit of ice. Otherwise, it was up and at 'em all the way.

The hardest part was it's been too cold to get out and clear the front of the drive where the snow got plowed in, so instead of my usual slow down and pussyfoot my way in due to the way the end of the drive is with low spots, it was keep it in second gear and floor the bugger to plow through it. Gulp. Made it but it was a bit spooky. Nice to be able to drive up tonight though. Now the fun will be getting OUT in the morning, haha, because I have to back out and I hate backing up, and then I get to inch down the mountain road with the little bit of icy stuff that's still on it. Joy of joys. If I could afford to take points and hibernate till spring, or at least full road thaw, trust me, I would.

Tuesday was nicer, other than having to still get up freaking early to shovel out the front of the drive because someone else with more time on their hands on Monday didn't do it. I was on short sleep to begin with, because said same "someone else" got home shortly after 3AM and woke me up out of a sound sleep to let me know he was home by putting cold hands on my face. Truth be told, it's not that I don't care if he's home safe, I just care about getting my full amount of needed sleep more, so that I'm not exhausted like I am at 815PM Tuesday night, yawning as I write and take a short break from doing chores.

I got a new magazine that day on trial, called Garden Gate. I'm not overly impressed with it. It was a freebie thing of send in this card and we'll give you a free issue to our magazine kind of thing, but it's not all that great. Ok, if your thing is flowers, great. It's all about that kind of thing. Not so much about the veggies, barring one little paragraph about Indigo tomatoes. Sadly, it's not getting subbed to, the bill will be marked cancel and returned. I don't want to know about growing a lovely flower garden, I want to know about veggies and herbs, and in the old days, those grew just over the garden gate, too.

Wednesday, I got dragged off my usual spot toward the end of the day to fill in a hole on the line left by someone having to go home. Oh joy ... I haven't done that for a while now, and good grief but it hurts. It was fun, but it huuuurts. My buddy Christine, who injured herself over the weekend (sprained wrist) is off this week due to that, and she texted me a bit, telling me, among other things, that she's going nuts. She's got a husband who's gone a lot (truck driver) and three kids, ranging from twelve to seventeen in age, so I really don't envy her.

The weather is finally clearing up some, so I was able to get a bit of the backlog of trash burned when I got home. I figure a bag or two a day and by the weekend, it might just be reasonably caught up. I'm just sleepy enough from work and all that, to where after I finished my dinner, I took a bit of a nap. It was pretty nice to just snuggle down in bed and snooze for an hour until Quentin called on his break. I got a lot done on various small projects, but I really needed that nap.

Thursday was about average, barring a couple of surprises. The first was that I was still sleepy enough on the way to work that I didn't think and automatically reached down to turn on the heater. Lo and behold, it works again! The only thing we can guess is that the weather was just so cold, and my car has such a small engine, that it couldn't thaw out the blower motor or whatever enough to let the juice flow to power the heater. But I have heat again when I need it, thank goodness!

The other surprise was in the mail. Quentin forgot to get it for once on his way out, and there was a tiny package in there for him from the Red Cross. I kind of knew what it had to be. Every single time he sees a bloodmobile, he's going in and sticking out his arm. He's O+, so they really like him. The plant has the bloodmobile come in three to four times a year, and employees go out whenever they can to get stuck. (I don't, but I'm a big sissy when it comes to needles. I am just not brave about getting stuck.) Quentin's donated enough times that they sent him his gallon pin.

My granddad had his gallon pin, but he was in the Navy in WWII, so no wonder there. But these days, it's rare to hear of someone who donates enough to get there. With Quentin being O+, he's quite welcome as a donor. I remember one time last summer, a few weeks after he'd donated, he got a letter from the Red Cross. The blood he'd donated had helped a car accident victim in Little Rock who was in bad shape. And I think we all know that while they are typing someone's blood in an emergency situation, the first type doctors go for is O+, because it's the universal donor. I'm A+, and carry a medical card in my wallet with that information, along with allergies, so if something happens, it's pretty easy to know what I'm taking (if anything), and what might cause issues. So Quentin is a welcome, and frequent, visitor to the bloodmobiles.

Saturday was a normal weekend errands day. Weather has finallys started thawing out, and we're supposed to get a nice week of much warmer temps, so it will be pleasant. Add in the days getting longer, and when we got home, I had enough energy to actually get laundry put up as well as the usual stuff, and then grabbed my little chainsaw and went out to cut up some of those small trees that have been sitting and seasoning all winter long. I only managed about half an hour of cutting before the dark started setting in, but it was still nice to get out and do something.

And with weather clearing up and days getting longer, and knowing that we don't intend on fixing the sewage pipes (because that would mean hauling in water to flush with - a LOT of water, or fixing the pump and water lines to the house - EXPENSIVE), we're likely going to clear out the brush on a path to the old sewage lagoon and use it to bury a bunch of the non-burnable and non-recyclable trash in. Fill it up and then some, and have a truckload of dirt brought in and dumped on top. It will make the place look a lot nicer, and if someone down the road wants to use the lagoon, well, they'll have a chore ahead of them, I guess. There's several deepish depressions around here that can be used to dump the seriously junk trash into and bury it, and clean the place up at the same time, all while making firewood out of the scrub brush, or burning it.

Going through seed catalogs is time-consuming, but a lot of fun, as long as you don't get into the catalogs that essentially don't have anything in the way of food gardening seeds, or that don't list whether something is hybrid or not, or that list that rather erratically, or don't list how many seeds are in a packet ... such as Farmer's, Burgess, Exciting Gardens, Four Seasons Nursery and House of Wesley. All have their merits as far as what they carry. However, when they all carry more or less exactly the same things for more or less exactly the same prices, and don't meet the criteria mentioned above, I rather tend to pass them up. Now, when I can get things like lilacs and forsythia and spirea and such for driveway hedging and the like, they'll be perfect to browse and buy. For the food garden, not so much. Oh, also mustn't forget, they all have limited selection for the food garden, not so good if you want variety.

I've been asked by a few people if, once things are well-established on the homestead/farm, if I'd be offering a seed catalog. The answer is no. I'll put packets up for sale on the farm website eventually, but there will be no print or even online version of a catalog. I know, it's pretty silly to enjoy going through a catalog when I don't plan on putting one together myself, but I can't honestly see going to all that work when I'd have to do most of it myself, and there's a lot of things I can spend my time on that will make the homestead sustainable other than that. On the other hand, between the website, a few online venues to sell some of the seed that will be available, and the farmer's market, along with seed swaps, I don't think I'll have all that much trouble getting the seeds I will have available out the door.

I grant, we'll never be as big as say, Territorial or Shumway or Burpee or the like, but a small following through the internet and locals will be enough for me. I don't need seed sales to become the be-all, end-all of life. Especially when there are so many other plans in the works for income-producing, like my patterns, and finished crafts, and excess produce at the farmer's markets, and online things ... it's not like I won't be super-busy as it is! And that's going to help me stay balanced and happy.

Which leads me to another question folks have asked, and I've answered a few privately. How can I possibly have so many plans and know that they will work, that I will accomplish my goals, especially with all the setbacks that have happened in the last year or so? I won't say it's easy, but it's quite do-able by anybody. In college, I had to take a study skills class as a required "core" class. It was intended for folks who hadn't really learned to study in high school or had been out of school long enough to forget. I still learned a few things that still come in handy, like how to stay focused on task when there are a lot of distractions. Just ask my boss at work when they need me to stop sending chicken boobs through the x-ray machine so it can be regularly calibrated. I'm often so in the zone, so focused, that it's a joke that "Heather's not ignoring us telling her to stop, she's just REALLY focused on her work." Usually, I am just exactly THAT focused, to where sounds just become background noise that I have tuned out, to the exclusion of doing my job.

But the most important skill I learned in there wasn't a study skill so much as a life skill. I still say that class should have been life skills and not study skills because of this. The life skill that I'm using for all the things that I want to do for at-home income and homestead sustainability are all in a long-term plan that I have written down. How does that help? We had to do something similar for the class, and it goes simply like this. Get a three-ring binder and a bunch of notebook paper. Possibly some sheet protectors, because you're going to be in and out of this thing daily for a good long time, and I think we all know what happens to paper when it's handled that often!

Now ask yourself where you want to be in ten years. Write it down. Now figure out where you have to be at the end of nine years to make that ten-year goal happen. Then where you have to be at the end of eight years to make the nine-year goal happen, and so on. Once you have the years broken down, take a good look at your year-end goals for year one. Break those goals down into eleven months, ten months, and so on, like you did for the year-by-year goals. Then break each month down to week by week, and then day by day.

Each day becomes a checklist of things to get done that day. Using me as an example, maybe it's just strip and change the bed so the sheets can be washed with the laundry that week, and put the groceries and laundry away when we get home from errands. Maybe I've got some other goals I've added in as I've gone on, for projects I've started, like when I did the sweater and booties for Jamie. Those got written in so I'd know how many rows a day on the sweater HAD to be accomplished. If I missed on those goals, they got added to the next day's goals, which meant it would build and build if I didn't get my act in gear to get things done.

Same thing right now with going through my seed catalogs. I've got it written in to go through at least ten pages of the next catalog in line every day. More if I have the time and energy, but that's my minimum. It doesn't take that long to reach that goal. And that's the thing with breaking down this ten-year goal. By the time you get to each day's goals, they become very small and easily done, so instead of looking at it as, oh gosh, I have this huge goal and so long to get it done, then before you realize it, the time is gone and you have nothing accomplished, you manage to break it down to manageable chunks and can show yourself on your checked-off lists of things to do every week just how much you got done. By the time you reach the time to accomplish that end goal, it becomes a matter of finishing up a last few things and checking them off, and you're done. Trust me, when I'm working on a big project (like that knitted log cabin afghan), saying I'll do ten rows a day on it is not that bad. I can whip that out in an hour or two, depending on the size of the row. When it's a small block, it's easy and takes minutes. When it's bigger, like now, and the rows are about 150 stitches each, it takes longer, but it's still not too bad. By the way, it's about a third done, so with luck, by the time spring is half over, I might have it finished and ready for cool summer nights on the couch! (And the blessing is, it's using up a ton of smaller scraps of yarn I have sitting around that I really don't have any other use for!)

Finally, I got some photos taken this weekend for you guys!

Remember the cowls I said I made for Quentin and myself? Here is Quentin's:

and here is mine. Quentin's is Red Heart worsted weight acrylic colourway "Woodsy." Mine is some of the leftover "Ocean" from the sweater I made for Jamie's baby (which she liked the set, by the by, though it was hard to keep Christine from looking at it Monday before Jamie got to open it, lol).

This is Mom's afghan that I made for her, that she is getting as a very late Christmas present.

And  this is the northwest window in the bedroom, where the cats have a shelf just below the window, so they can curl up in the sunshine there. You can see how I got the insulation to stay up so as to cut off the drafts from the window over the winter. Nailed it up to the wall and taped the seams. It looks awful funky but it works!

Until next time, here are this week's selections of free Kindle books. Remember that they are free when I post them. They may not be free when you get to them!


Homesteading books


And now I'm running out of time for this week, so I'm quitting for now. See you net time!

Anger, depression and ice cleats

It's a miserable Sunday evening, and I'm hoping like heck work gets cancelled tomorrow, because I really need to spend tomorrow killing Quentin. I headed out early this morning as always on a Sunday, with the intention of cutting time short becuase of the storm coming in. It began to hit hard while I was in town, as those of you who read regularly found out last weekend. My windshield wipers were toast, so I also had to get those taken care of. Quentin was going to head down to Harrison and do them for me, because they were bad enough that they really weren't helping, and I was worried I'd have problems getting to the auto parts store to get new ones and have them put them on.

I got down the mountain road okay, slipped a tiny bit just once. Quentin, in a 2000-pound heavier van, with a couple of hundred pounds of wood in the back over the rear axle for traction, managed to BURY the thing in the ditch not even 500 feet from the house to where it's going to have to be towed out, or we're going to be running the car three times a day back and forth to the plant. Beats me how he did it, but looking at his tracks, he didn't stay in everybody else's tire tracks going down, but went what he calls "ditch jumping" to show off. This is the third time he's gotten stuck in that same spot due to being a showoff and thinking he can do all kinds of stuff in the van that he really can't.

I called some tow companies, but of course, being in the boonies, either they don't service our area (yeah, twenty to twenty-five miles from their base and we're too far for them to come do anything, that makes all kinds of sense, too). The one who said he could make it in about two hours wanted $350!!! for the call "because of the weather." I'm sorry, but what would be a $70-$80 tow call at MOST for this does not justify four to five times normal just because there's two inches of snow on the ground and he has to go a MILE off pavement. Especially since he'd already said he was heading north into the mess to go to Branson, and the first thing out of his mouth was,"Do you have full-coverage insurance?" That speaks very highly to me of insurance fraud and price-gouging. So it's likely either we have to use the car only until such time as somehow the van can be pulled out of the ditch and back on the road, or I kill Quentin.

On top of that, because the mountain road's in poor shape right now, that means also not only losing sleep to do the drive me to work, him come back, get himself to work, me get home and rest a bit before going back to get him and coming home ... but also means adding in the time to WALK up and down the darn road to do so! That's about 45 minutes one way for either of us, added onto the whole thing. So there's not a lot going to get done for a few days to whenever the darn van is out of the ditch. And to think he got it stuck AFTER I told him to go slow and follow the tire tracks and be careful. Yeah, I'm mad. I'm so angry that I want to clobber him. It wouldn't help, but geez, I'm wondering just how much daylight gets between his ears right now.

He says it was too hard to stay on the road in the van and follow the tire tracks. Guess what? I managed to WALK up it, in the tire tracks, and not slip where he went off the road, or anywhere. In SNEAKERS. With not a lot of tread on them. I don't know what to do anymore. I can't take this kind of crap any longer from his end of things. There's so much going on that's not going right with us, and the only things going right are both of us working and right now, in the condition things are in, I'm seeing that evaporate again.

Okay, rant over for tonight, because I need to have a good cry now. More later on how this week goes, because while I'm not about to give up on homesteading, with the way things have gone with Quentin getting stuck through showing off (and I won't do that kind of thing even in good weather - I'm too dependent on my car to get me back and forth to work and shopping!), along with him having three and a half weeks to go right now on probation (and no points because he used them up from not "feeling" like he wanted to go in - guess what, there's a lot of days I don't feel like going to work and I do it anyhow, because that's what adults do!), along with another major relationship issue between us that has caused a great deal of strain on our marriage (my dear friend Tina in Australia knows what I'm talking about), I'm about ready to call it quits with him. I just can't take the strain. I need to play one of my computer games, read some email and respond to some, make dinner (had my shower already, gosh that bathroom's awful cold right now with this weather!), and hope to heck work is called off for tomorrow.

Not that I expect it will be - last time we got wind chills near -20F and had six inches of snow on the ground and they still had us working. Sometimes, I wonder where the plant manager's head is in weather like this, as do the rest of my teammates at the plant. (Last time, we spent a lot of time generally smack-talking about the manager for her sheer idiocy in making us come to work in that kind of weather. Wonder what her excuse for us coming in will be THIS time?) Anyhow, I need to relax somehow, because this is driving me up a wall. I'll be so glad when it warms up in the next few weeks and I can get outside regularly again. Won't you?

And here it is Monday night. I am so glad for me thinking to call the mechanic who works for the guy we are getting the van from. Randy is a great guy, and he was able to come out and help dig the van out of the ditch where Quentin buried it, so Quentin could change the tire he flattened in his enthusiasm to kill himself and/or the van, and he only charged $60. What a blessing in that respect. Looking at the mess when we got down to the van the first time today (three round trips from house to van and back for me today, my legs are killing me and it's 1030 PM), Quentin got of extremely lucky. Another six inches forward and the flattened right front tire would have gone into a culvert and he would have tipped and wrecked. At which point I would have killed him, figuratively speaking, and gone from there.

The whole thing meant I had to take ANOTHER day off work to help get the van out, but at least Quentin got to work okay. I spent a lot of time last night crying so hard from the stress and everything. Those of you who homestead already know what I'm talking about. For those who don't, who are considering a move to the country and homesteading, trust me, there are going to be a LOT of days like this. It ain't all roses and happiness and gee what fun. (Thus why I left the rant from Sunday's doings in here, so you can get the idea of what I mean by days like this - Sunday is a prime example!) There are a lot of days when it's just a miserable freaking slog to get through the day, and at the end of it, you just have to fall apart and bawl because you're so stressed out that it's the only thing your body can figure out to do.

Depression is a miserable thing to deal with, but it hits every homesteader a lot more often than we'd like, or would like to admit. Often, it's just a situation where you sigh and pick up and carry on. Maybe it's a flat tire when you least expect it, or dinner burned, or the cows got out, or the deer didn't materialize in front of your rifle to go to freezer camp, or wildlife ate your garden just when it's starting to grow good. And then there are days like yesterday, when it's all you can do not to kill your spouse even when they so richly deserve it at the time, and about all your brain can do is whirl around and focus on the negatives. A good cry and some sleep often help, but it isn't easy to get through days like yesterday and then carry on.

But if you're going to homestead, you have to learn to deal with this stuff. You have to be, as my friend Tina put it to me recently, resilient. You have got to be able to bend like the willow in a storm. You might lose a few branches, but you'll survive. In life's storms like these of late, the worst thing you can do is to be like an oak tree, and not give in to the wind and let it get to you. My granddad (rest his soul, six or seven years gone, I've lost track), who was a preacher and master chef, used to say something I take to heart. Of course, days like yesterday don't help me to remember it, but when I calm down, I remember it and it calms me further. What he used to say was "Don't worry about things. Nine times out of ten, if you don't worry about it, whatever it is will go away and bother someone else. The tenth time, you can't do anything about it anyhow, so why waste the energy?"

That was me last night and much of today. Worry, worry, worry. There were so many unknowns in the situation that all my brain could do was focus on the worry. Stuff happens when you homestead. Shoot, it happens constantly. It isn't always good. There's a lot of bad, too, but it about balance out even. If you can't tough it out, you aren't going to make it, you're going to give up in a few years, and you're going to go back to the city because "country living is too hard." If you don't learn that ahead of time, you are in for a lot of heartache, my friend.

And this next week is not going to be easy. The plant manager doesn't care about our safety getting to and from work, just while we're AT work, I swear. We're expecting up to three inches of snow on Tuesday, the 4th, and you can bet that work won't be cancelled for it. It's not supposed to get above freezing (another blasted polar vortex, ugh) until NEXT Tuesday, if we're lucky. This winter can kiss my red-blooded Yankee hieney. I'm tired of it. I'll be glad when it's over. I'll be glad to see things getting green again, even if it does mean tick season and weed whacking the grass around the trailer again.

I'd rather deal with that than this mess. I think, honestly, we in the Ozarks got rather spoiled the last few years. In the nearly five years I've been down here, there's been ONE bad winter, and that was just a couple of snowstorms over a two week period. Bad enough that the plant shut down for a couple days each time, because we got a LOT of snow both shots. The last bad winter like this at all was just before I moved here, when this area got ice so bad that a lot of folks lost power for ten days solid.

It's things like that and this winter that cause me to want so much to be off-grid. With solar and wind power for electricity, and reducing what we do use (well, I can reduce, getting Quentin to is a whole nother kettle of fish ... he likes his electronics too much, so it's going to take some work yet to teach him to shut of power strips to avoid phantom usage and the like) to a minimum, and a wood stove for heat and some of the cooking, with propane eventually for backup heat as well as hot water and most cooking, things would be really comfy and cozy and who cares if the power goes out at that point.

I guess what I'm trying to say with all of the Monday blathering is that homesteading is fun but it's really not for everybody. Read up a lot ahead of time. Learn all that you can, and start small. Don't go jumping in with both feet and hoping you can keep out of the undertow, because you're going to go down and go down hard if you try that. Baby steps are important. Remember that there are going to be a lot of days that are frustrating and disappointing and hard and miserable and just plain awfully stressful. If you can't take the hard knocks, don't even try to homestead. It's great when it's all going well, but if a setback is going to totally throw you for a loop that you can't pull yourself out of, quit while you're ahead.

Yeah, the last couple of days have been pretty rough, overall. But there's good in them, too. Life will get back on an even keel, homesteading plans will start going ahead again, and this will pass. The weather will warm up soon and, with two incomes now, a number of weekend-type projects can be dealt with over the week in small bits. Though honestly, the whole having to walk up and down the mountain to the vehicles thing is going to get old again really, really fast. Especially since it means I have to melt snow for water again to refill jugs, which I don't mind so much because it's better than hauling an eight-pound jug of water a mile uphill, but it does make me determined to get that darned wellhead going this year one way or another, even if I have to haul the bailer bucket out overhand!

Tuesday wasn't too bad. The walk down was chilly, and there was a bit of wintry mix coming down, which made a lovely hissing sound through the trees as I walked. Everything was so pretty with the snow, and work was pretty good overall. I got started melting snow for water to fill the jugs, and did quite a bit of knitting. I got the sweater for Jamie's baby shower done barring the buttons, so it's just that, run in ends and do the booties. I also worked up a quick and dirty pattern for a cowl I want to make from the yarn left over from the baby stuff, because I don't like scarves much (they tend to fall away from where I want them to stay). Cowls, on the other hand, stay on my neck and face where I put them, and if I need a bit more head warmth, I can always pull it up over my head as well.

Wednesday was about the same as Tuesday, other than bitter freaking cold. How do people stand this kind of cold every day for months on end? I know how to deal with it. I grew up in it and lived in it for forty years, but I guess my blood has thinned in the five years (as of next month) that I've been in the Ozarks, because this is crazy, ridiculous weather for me to deal with. I do not like it the least little bit. I want it to go away and stay there, this polar vortex we're having another of. The first one was bad enough and it was only a couple of days. This one's hanging around for about a WEEK. Yeah, it's supposed to be the middle of NEXT week before it gets above freezing again here. I don't want to wait that long, and I'm getting tired already of walking up and down the road. Laundry and groceries this weekend are going to be a real treat. In the meantime, can someone please turn off the outside air conditioning and crank up the heater? Pretty please and thank you with sprinkles on top?

Oh my good gravy. Thursday can take a hike. The rest of winter can take a hike. There's a good reason. All the way down the road, in the frigid cold, all I could think about was how nice it would be to get to the car, start it up and crank up the heat so I could thaw out on the way to work. That got shot as soon as I turned the knob. No air coming out whatsoever. Not a peep. Zero, zilch, nada, nothing, the big Goose Egg. I was already frozen, and the car wasn't very warm, and so I froze all the way to work, and worked in a frozen department, then got to get into a cold car and drive home to the cow pasture, so I could walk up the cold road.

There was still good to come of that so that it wasn't a horrible day overall. Work went okay, and Quentin stopped on the way to work and got a lightly quilted reversible twin blanket (which he griped about getting, he really hates stopping anywhere but the gas station for a huge soda on the way to work) so that I could use it to cover the windshield while the car's parked. I'll have to grab one of the big, fluffy towels to cover my legs while I'm driving. By putting the wipers on before turning the car off, and cutting the ignition while they are upwards on the window, I can use them to help hold the blanket on the windshield. It's also big enough that I can shut the ends in the doors, and it has one side black, so if I put that side out, it will help absorb some heat. Overall, it's a way to help keep the snow and ice off the windshield till the weather turns.

Then it's get a new blower motor for the thing, so that Quentin can replace it. I need to find the Chilton's or Hayes manual for the car, so he has step by step instructions to replace the thing. He thinks he needs to take off the whole dash to get at the blower motor, but I think he can get at it from the engine compartment, or by removing the drivers seat and working on the thing from the underside of the dash, rather than pulling the whole thing out to replace the blower motor. But you can bet it was a heck of a surprise to not get that blast of hot air when I turned the knob for the heater.

Oh, blast. I just realized, I forgot to take photos of the baby set I did for Jamie. Ok, remember the sweater I did for Eric and Bobbi for little Elizabeth for Christmas? That sweater. Only in Caron's Simply Soft, colourway "Ocean." I was going to do camo, but everybody was saying they were going to bring camo, because it's a boy, and Jamie mentioned that he already has a ton of camo stuff (diaper bag, onsies, sheets), and I thought, that's a bit too much camo if I stuff something in there, too. Then I thought about baby blue, but once again, I figured the other thing everybody is going to do is baby boy blue and baby neutrals (white, yellow, green and purple). That left me having to choose a different color that would be "boy" but still come out cute. "Ocean" is a deeper blue than you'd normally pick for a baby boy, but it comes off as a very masculine color without being overwhelming. So that's what color it ended up as.

Friday continued cold but at least it was a bit warmer. Still some wind chill, but the temps were overall about ten degrees warmer than they have been, so that was nice. NOT nice being cold and driving to work again, but oh well. I called the local Chevy dealer to find out how they get at the blower motor and the mechanic said if Quentin was to do it, that's fine, especially since the car is well out of warranty, but to invest in the Hayes manual for the Aveo, as they don't make a Chilton's for it. That way, he'd have step by step directions for the job. Good as Quentin can be at fixing things, directions make it a lot easier to deal with the bigger jobs like this will be.

Water jugs are refilled completely. Snowmelt isn't always the greatest water in the world, unless you get several inches of it, because you have to deal with a bit of dirt clouding it up, and of course, you have to pick out the bits of grass and leaves once it's melted before you pour it off into the jugs, but at least it's potable water for drinking and cooking and sponge baths to get hair and the pits and bits clean, so you don't smell all manky at work. The bedroom is the warmest room in the house, so you can bet that much of the time, I am sitting here with DVDs and keeping myself occupied with needlework and seed catalogs.

Yeah, still going through those. I've got a huge want list building up, then once I get through all my catalogs, I can sort by type and variety and price, put my buy list together, and go from there. I keep the want list together even after the buy list is done, in case I go to buy something and it's sold out (rare, but it does happen). That way, I can go to the want list and see if someone else has it and still fill out my wants. Now if I can just get the blasted wellhead developed enough this spring that I can get water out of it. I don't care if I have to haul it out hand over hand instead of having some kind of windlass, it's still water I don't have to go get, and will make a garden easier to start. Then the biggest issue will be keeping the wildlife around here from eating it. I think some soap hung in the trees will help as well as planting a LOT of marigolds. For some reason, wildlife doesn't like the smell of marigolds, and leaves things alone. Personally, I think marigolds are pretty little things, and they're one of my favorite annuals.

The cowl is coming along nicely, not quite half done tonight, so hopefully I can get it finished over the weekend. The pattern's pretty simple, and I think I will have to write it up as one of my for sale patterns for $1 when I'm done with it and can model it while Quentin tries to take a good picture of me wearing it. It's that, or I put it on a hanger, hang that on the wall and take a photo that way. It wouldn't look as nice, but it would make for a clear shot. Quentin just isn't that great with a camera, lol. I'm not perfect, but I've had a lot more experience with them, and so I know how to deal with parallax in the old cameras, which thankfully, is not an issue with a digital camera.

And I can hear the question now - what is this "parallax?" Parallax is what, in the old film cameras, made you cut off people's heads. Remember on the old cameras, where you'd look through the viewfinder and see the dotted lines around the edges? Those dotted lines were to help you frame your shot. If it was inside the lines, it was in the shot. I don't know the exact definition of parallax, but basically, it's part of how you see things, and the edges of your peripheral vision don't always pick up everything. Same idea with the focused lenses on an old camera. They were curved, and so the curvature didn't always allow you to get everything in the frame of the shot, and thus parallax would cut people's heads off. You were sure it was in the shot when you took it, but you were using the whole viewfinder, not just the part in the lines, and voila! Headless people.

All the talk earlier this week about depression doesn't mean there aren't a lot of good days and times, too. Goodness, there's a lot of good times to be had homesteading. Hobbies, watching your garden grow and produce, eating what you grew, visits from friends and family, selling at the farmer's market if you do that (you get a lot of socialization that way), church and church stuff (I'm openly Pagan, but I do have a church of sorts I go to regularly, and that way I get to interact with other people, and do volunteer things that help the community), and my favorite, the county fair.

Now if you're lucky enough to live in smallish counties, or at least ones that are reasonably close by for things, you can hit up three or four of them easily. Here, I can hit up three in Arkansas and two in Missouri within an hour of the homestead. And while all of them offer up about the same things in the way of a fairway (and all the yummy fair food!) and exhibits and things, each of them generally allows you to enter things in the premium classes if you are within a certain distance, usually that county and neighboring counties. So for me, I can easily enter things into five county fairs, one after the other, and have fun seeing what I might win for my handiwork or cooking.

For those who don't know, a premium class at the county fair is one where you pay a small fee to enter it. The fees are pooled, and the top three entries get a small prize back as winnings, in addition to ribbons. These ribbons are highly prized by the entrants, trust me. Somewhere around here, I have a whole shoebox full of ribbons from first through tenth for my own entries. Some fairs will give ribbons out to tenth place, but prizes only to the top three ... it depends on the fair and the number of entries. You find out what classes you can enter and the rules and prizes by contacting the fair offices and having them send you, or tell you where to pick up, a copy of the "Premium book." It tells you all you need to know to enter.

For example, it will tell you when your class will be judged, and when you have to have your entry ready. Perhaps you crocheted a doily and you want to enter it. Rules may state that it must be washed and starched before entering. Some may state that you have to list on your entry card what pattern you used and where you found it. At the bigger fairs, the judges will check on this stuff, believe you me. The other fun thing about the county fair and the Premium classes, is that many the Grand Prize winners in a category all get to be sent on to the State Fair. Yeah, then you get to compete against the best in the state!

I love going to the county fair, and I got the kids hooked on them at an early age. I remember many a time taking them to the Ag Building and watching them play with the grain entries, watching the seeds cascade through their fingers back into the buckets (the farmers thought they were hysterical), or burying their faces in the big round hay bales to smell the wonderful smell. Ian once said it smells like when the grass is cut, only better, and he's quite right. I remember going to one fair with them where they had a few pregnant cows in the Ag Barn, and the local dairy farmers council had the cows there specifically so folks could possibly see a calf being born (we did, it was AWESOME, folks just stood around and were so quiet) or while it was still tiny, and chicks hatching in an incubator, and all kinds of neat things.

I think the funniest thing was Amber at the Carroll County Fair here one year when she was down staying for a bit. She wanted one of every kind of animal in the Ag Barn, and first had fixated on a Holstein calf. I asked if she realized how big that thing would get. She said, yeah, there's adults here, too. But then it got funny as all heck. She wanted one of every type of animal, but they all had to be black and white to match the cow. *facepalm* I couldn't convince her that we couldn't fit a cow, a goat, a sheep, a chicken and a rabbit into our house in the city limits of Green Forest. Thankfully, she found the fairway and wanted to ride all the rides, so that distracted her from the plan of a barnyard in the living room!

Saturday was a bit of a pain. Laundry had to be done, and some minor groceries gotten, which meant a walk down the mountain road with the toboggan, doing the shopping and laundry, and walking back UP with a full toboggan. We got lucky in Harrison, finding ice cleats at the Ace Hardware, so that helped a lot to get up the road even with it melting off some and getting a bit slippy, but hauling up a full toboggan is not easy. We could have gotten along without doing it, but Quentin was insistent.

The walking down and up added two hours or so to the day's errand running, but at least we got home in one piece. Though as sloppy as the road is, and knowing that Sunday was going to be a bit above freezing like Saturday was, so more would melt off, and with my legs feeling like total rubber, I chose to take Sunday off from McQuack's. Yeah, it'd be nice to post this and catch up with everyone, but the walk is a bit hard on me, and Quentin isn't feeling so good right now, having developed a bit of a cough and sinus drainage, leaving him feeling pretty crappy. (Thus why I wanted to stay home today and give him a chance to recuperate a bit, but he chose not to.)

I will say one thing that happened Friday night into Saturday morning gave him a big scare that has changed his attitude on one thing. He's a smoker, has been for years, long before we ever got together. I don't like it, but I know nagging him isn't going to change that habit, even though he admits it's a filthy, nasty habit he wishes he'd never started, and knowing that I don't smoke myself. He's always smoked in bed, laying down, when he's half asleep. There's been a lot of times I've had to wake him up to put the stupid cancer stick out because he was about to lose his ash onto the bed, having fallen asleep while smoking.

That night, he got a big scare, and thanks to Bouncer, it wasn't very bad in damage, but very big in scare for him. He fell asleep smoking again, and I was so exhausted from all the walking and all lately that I didn't wake up when he was doing so. Ash fell off onto the bed, and burned a big hole, a bit bigger than a golf ball, in the sheet and scorched the mattress. He's lucky it didn't start a fire.

Bouncer woke him up before it could, and it has scared Quentin into deciding that his cigarettes and lighter are going to go into the bathroom linen closet (to keep the boys from thinking they are kitty toys), and he'll just keep an electronic cigarette next to the bed for nighttime nicotine fits. He figures that if he wants a "tailor-made" smoke that badly, he'll be willing to get his butt out of bed and go the ten feet to get one, which will wake him up enough to stay upright while he smokes it. It has also convinced him that maybe I've been right all this time, and maybe he is old enough and smart enough to know that he should quit before something really bad happens.

I don't think he'll ever actually quit, but the burnt hole in the sheet is a small price to pay to convince him that just maybe his luck can run out on that kind of thing, and just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean that it won't. And as far as I'm concerned, if it at least cuts down on his smoking those nasty things, so much the better for the budget and his health. He'll feel better and have more money to spend on himself if he at least cuts back, and if he slowly quits, that's even better.

Please, folks, if you smoke, or live with a smoker, convince them to quit or at least switch completely to the electronic cigarettes. With all the next tobacco taxes that many states are implementing, a pack of cheap cigarettes could end up easily costing $8 or MORE. For a SINGLE pack! If you are a pack-a-day smoker, that is $56 a WEEK! $2,912 a YEAR! Can you imagine what you could do with nearly $3,000 a year more to spend on things for your homestead? I can imagine what I could do with it, quite easily.

But beyond the financial reasons, think of your health. Think of all the horrible chemicals and cancer-causing things that are in tobacco and the processing of it that you breathe in when you smoke. Think of your looks - your face will age faster, your teeth will get weak and fall out sooner, and they will be yellow (while you still have them), as will your fingers. Your home and clothes will smell awful to those around you. It is very hard to quit. As a perpetual non-smoker who has never once had the urge to puff or light up or what have you, it's hard to live with a smoker, but I manage. As Quentin put to Amber when they first met, "It's a filthy, nasty habit I wish I'd never gotten started on." I doubt he'll ever quit, but I can hope this starts a habit of the electronic cigarette he's got more than the nasty tobacco-filled ones. (Oh yeah, and emphysema ... don't forget THAT nasty little bugger that comes from years of smoking.) All right, I'm off my soap box against smoking. This concludes your PSA for this week.

So my apologies, my friends, that I am taking a weekend off posting and email, because this weather has to break so I can drive up and down the road again. Walking it for work is hard enough, errands is worse. A non-necessity like the internet is just silly.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Planning stages

Doggone it. I had started this, and left for a few minutes, and came back and somehow, what I'd written had gotten lost and wasn't able to be recovered. What a bummer, because it was all perfect and flowing and now I have to redo it. Grrr. What else can I expect from a Monday, though?

I woke up with a roaring headache and so stuffed up it was going to be impossible to get to work, let alone deal with work. So I took the day off, much as I hated to. The money would be nice for the day, but when you can't breathe or think clearly, it's a bit ridiculous to think you can drive safely. Which meant I got the chores done today.

The weather continues kind of wacky, anyhow, and I worry that my little car may have not been so good at the roads with all the wind. The weatherman last night said the winds 80 miles north of us in Springfield, MO, were "howling," but here in NW Arkansas, they were just moaning like crazy. Sounds like a blasted freight train out there, or a tornado just sitting overhead. Sheesh. The treetops are just whipping around, and we're talking sixty foot trees bouncing around. Maybe it's a good thing I stayed home, because Quentin called once he got to work and said the winds were bad enough he even had trouble keeping the van on the road.

But it means I can spend the day doing some planning. Like more catalogs gone through. We've talked about it and while it's likely once again for no garden this year, I will be at least getting seeds and storing them away. Anything and everything we might eat ourselves or be able to sell at the farmer's market. Trees and brambles and bushes will be bought later this summer if we can get the well up and running at all, and put into large half barrels to get them going. It will help us get going on various things anyhow.

The day off means things get planned out better for what to do and when. Today was chores, and now it's sitting here with the TV going for background racket, while working on needlework. Six more squares on that afghan and it's ready for the border, and I want to get another twenty or so rows done on the baby sweater for Jamie's shower. It's going to be a really nice evening tonight.

And Monday night, I got a lovely surprise from Smudge. My pudgy, loveable but non-snuggleable kitty decided that my sitting in bed to listen to TV while I did some needlework meant all of a sudden that my lap needed filling with furrage. I kid y'all not, he just up and climbed into my lap, snuggled down between my knees, put his right front paw on my right knee, gently plopped his chin onto his paw, let out this huge sigh, and went to sleep. He stayed there for over an hour, and I just sat there and occasionally stroked him. It was a moment worth a few happy tears, because he's never done that before, and it's not likely it will ever happen again, but it was so unusual from him that I couldn't bear to make him move even when my knees protested being in that position for so long. It was worth it.

The week in general went pretty good. I finally got the sweater for Jamie's baby shower to start coming together. Five Hour Baby Sweater as usual for emergency baby gift, but it just would not come together for me. I had to frog it twice before I got it to work out. Still a few rows to do on the bottom on Friday night, but tonight I'm concentrating on seed catalog stuff. I have GOT to get that spreadsheet done and straightened out, so I can start putting out my orders! Even for stuff we wouldn't normally eat, because I can figure out ways to use things that will taste good with a little research, and if it can't be sold or we don't like it at all, I can still save the seeds and compost it. I do need to get the seed savers handbook soon, too, so I know what I'm doing. There are some things I know how to GROW, but not how to save seed from, and that's important for sustainability.

We were talking a bit today (Friday) at work about teachers, and one gal said how it was weird to her that her young daughter has a teacher who she herself had when she was that age. I know exactly how weird she feels. I remember when Amber started school, and I told Mom about her teachers for Kindergarten. I named the gym teacher, who I think was Mrs. Terwilliger, and Mom said, "Oh my GOD, isn't she dead yet?" This was because not only had Mrs. T. been MY elementary school gym teacher, she'd been Mom's gym teacher at some point as well. This lady had to be at least in her early sixties, and she was still going.

I found it funny with many of Amber's teachers. Her middle school music teacher, Mrs. Nutzmann, had been mine, too. But the fun one of the lot was Mrs. Flynn. I remember one parent-teacher conference, where she looked at Amber and said, "Now, Heather, please clean up your desk while I talk to your Mom." I laughed, and replied, "Well, I would, Mrs. Flynn, but I haven't been your student for around twenty years!" "You know which one of you I meant!" she chuckled back. Sad part is, even my own Mom has managed that one. Yes, my own mother has looked at me and called me Amber, and her by my name!

The funniest though, was my son Ian. He started something that lives to this day. His Kindergarten teacher was Miss West. She got married partway through the year, and in order not to confuse the youngsters too much, changed her name to Mrs. West-Aiello. Problem was, Ian had a bit of a speech impediment, and it came out Mrs. West Eye Jello. All the other kids in his class picked up on it, the other kids in the school picked up on it, and most of those other kids had younger siblings who later went to the same school. Many of those other younger siblings also had Mrs. West-Aiello. Unfortunately, by the time the younger kids got there, their older siblings had gotten them to understand her name was West Eye Jello, and seventeen years later, it's stuck. That poor woman is NEVER going to be known by the kids by her proper name.

The weather continues winter-crazy, with ups and downs in the temps that seem to defy the whole issue of is it winter or not. This weekend is rain, wintry mix and possibly some snow for Sunday night, up to two inches of that. Right now, Saturday afternoon late, it's rainy and extremely foggy out on the mountains. Driving home from finishing errands, we could look around and see the mountains around us all foggy-topped. Heck, we got home, and parked, and the fog was so thick that we couldn't see the neighboring ridgeline at all. It was even pretty thick up towards the house, to where we could see the wisps around the house. Yeesh. Time for movies, seed catalogs, and spending time in the bedroom so if we get snoozy, we can just shut things off and take a nap.

So anyhow, it's time for me to hunker back down with the spreadsheet and the seed catalogs (I got my Cook's Garden and High Mowing Seeds and Johnny's Selected Seeds catalogs today (Saturday), yay! MORE goodies!), and pick out my veggie seeds, herb plants (I cannot get herbs to grow from seed to save myself, so I'm being safe there and sticking with plants), and eventually I'll get some flowers listed. I like flowers, too, but I like to plant those and forget them. Even seed flowers - I've always had great luck with marigolds, snapdragons, rudbeckia and nasturtiums self-seeding, and very hardily. I remember the last time I grew snapdragons, and the darn things just kept popping up every year, in all kinds of wild colors. So ta for this week, books are below, and pray for March to get here soon so I can make the appointment for internet installation!!!

By the bye, I should note that in my seed wants, I'm going strictly for open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, if I haven't already. There are a lot of good hybrids out there, I know, but you can't really save seed from them, and that's one part of eventual sustainability that I won't give up. This is primarily because, of course, I want to save seed to grow the next year's crops and all, but I'd also like to have extra seed for selling in small packets (online and locally) as well as some bedding plants to sell locally. Yeah, the business plan for the farmstead is totally going there. I'm even going for things that I normally wouldn't eat or haven't tried, and a good chunk of that is just I want to try them and potentially expand my eating possibilities. (Hey, I might find some stuff I like and never tried because it wasn't available in the stores when I was growing up, let alone now, right?) But I do admit that I'm a little disappointed on first looks through the Johnny's catalog, as it seems they have little BUT hybrids, severely limiting what I might get from them. But now it's time for books. See you next week!

Ooops - I made it to McQuack's but the snow is coming down pretty hard and I'm cutting today as short as possible so I can get home and hopefully up the mountain road without issues. The road itself is hard and dry underneath, but if y'all know Ozarks snow, the inch or so we've got already is not good. If I hadn't had to bring movies back to the RedBox and get some new wipers on the car, I wouldn't have come out at all. But the movies need to come back and if I'm to get to work tomorrow, the wipers need replacing, as this winter has clobbered the heck out of them and they're pretty useless. Quentin is all "I'll come down and go to O'Reilly's and get new ones then come to McQuack's to put them on for you." Then fifteen minutes later, it's "Wow, the snow's coming down, do you think I can make it?" In the VAN? I made it in the CAR! The roads aren't bad, just it's snowing hard enough that you have to go slow and careful. Yeesh. Crap like this makes me want internet at home so bad so I can just stay home and not deal with this mess.Till next week, folks!