Sunday, July 31, 2011

Federal Government Budget Cuts...

The federal government budget woes is affecting me more than I thought.  For one, my son (who is a senior and not in desperate need of his job, fortunately) is losing his job due to budget cuts.  The other major impact is the shorter hours at the post office. 

I had all these plans for Saturday, but ended up waiting in line for quite some time at the Post Office, because now that I am back to work, the reduced hours at the Post Office are having an impact.  We are so rural, there is no mail delivery, we have boxes.  The mail opens after I start work and closes before I get off work, and to top it all off, the Saturday hours were recently reduced to ONE HOUR.  That means, all the people who work normal business hours and who have packages to pick up or mail out have one hour a week to do so.  The line was quite, quite long.  The parking lot is tiny, too, so I had to park across the highway and scurry across (the surprisingly light for a middle of a Saturday) traffic roaring through at 55 miles an hour. 

Next time I have to do that, I am going to go early, get one of the six parking spaces and sit with a book an hour before they open.  I do know I have a package coming this week, but luckily, my son doesn't start school for a few days, so I am going to ask him to drive down.  I am finding that I love having a kids who can drive.  I try not abuse it by asking him to do errands, and I do worry if he is gone after dark (still needs practice judging distances at night), but wow - I don't have to wait until next Saturday to get the book I have been looking forward to reading! 

I know there are a whole host of ways the Federal Government is affecting farmers and ranchers, but since I eat what I grow rather than marketing it, I haven't been impacted so far, for which I am profoundly grateful.  We still have a long way to go on the path to self-sufficiency, but I am always excited when I am able to pull a whole meal together from things I have grown or raised - right now that usually means an omellette, but it still feels like an accomplishment to me. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Barnyard Lessons Applied to Work

I think it is because I am in a new job - I didn't have the lack of knowledge of the people and systems to allow for objective comparison between faculty meetings and farms.... In fact, until I came home today, I wasn't even thinking in those terms.

I have mentioned the injured hen living in the greenhouse; today, she decided it was time to rejoin the flock.  She has been down in the greenhouse for a week or two, hanging out with the cat.  When I got home today, she was in the stall (where, I felt like reminding her, she was when she got stepped on) waiting for me to let her back into the coop.  Since I spent a good part of my summer in the greenhouse, too, I thought, okay - this chicken is me.  She has been hanging out and now she is ready to rejoin the fray - and today was my first "real" day of work.

I opened the gate and she ran (or, rather, hopped) into the chicken run with joy - only to get pecked on and squabbled over by the hens re-establishing pecking order.

I felt a little bit like that hen today, ready to curl up with my head tucked under (the first time I saw chickens do that, I thought the dogs had bitten their heads off!)

I think tomorrow I will be on the lookout for sheep-like behavior.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the "ram" in the faculty room is going to turn out to be a woman.  She might be a little like Elvis, getting her licks in when your back is turned.... On the other hand, like the chicken coop, a few pecks and a quick re-establishing of order, this new member of the flock might settle in faster than she thinks.  I hope so, because today, I miss my co-workers and friends at my old school.  A lot.  (It's a good thing we're having dinner together tomorrow night).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Been Gone Awhile....

I didn't go anywhere, just lazy about using the computer, but I have got a lot of posts to catch up on! I missed you all!

The greenhouse is pumping out mostly tomatoes and jalapenos and bell peppers.  The chicken whose leg was injured by the horse has been living in there - I drop off her food and water in the morning.  Oddly, she and the cat have been hanging out together.

I have been working with the Crazy Horse and he is calming down quite a lot.  I guess he finally figured out I am not going to hurt him.  I even gave pony rides on him - we practiced a lot walking around the yard until there was nothing to scare him - not even the flappy tarps or the skill saw my husband was using.  He did great.  He likes kids; he really does.  He will even pick up all his feet before I get there now, which is darn good, considering where he was a month ago - flinching when you even touched his leg and jumping sideways five feet if you went near his off hind.

My husband and two younger kids are leaving tomorrow for a wedding on the mainland.  My older son and I couldn't go because we're working, and our older daughter has moved to another island.  I wish the wedding were a month ago, so I could have gone, too.

I started a new job today.  It was overwhelming, because I swear this school has more acronyms than the federal government.  I am still not sure what several three letter titles mean - but I assume they are better than four letter words!  I am going to miss my co-workers and students ridiculously much from my old school, but taking a peek at my new office and the teacher work room assuaged some of the pain - as well as seeing the prep time!  Prep time was a myth at my old school.  It was rumored in the contract, but I never saw the beast - and I never had a duty free lunch (but that was totally my choice). Ironically, since I won't have to drive as much or rush around as much, the prep time isn't as necessary, but hey, I am not going to argue.  Having to get 90% of my students reading at grade level by May feels like a piece of cake with that much time to get stuff ready for them - and equipment to make it on, instead of scrambling and making do.  

So this week, I make the transition from most-of-the-time farmer to throw-food-at-the-animals-and-farm-on-weekends which happens during the school year.  These transition weeks are hard - like changing heads, not just hats.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting My Mind Back to Work

I had a brief meeting with the principal today to get my head started up for work.  Teachers are reporting in two weeks, so it's not too early, actually.  I am in a new position this year, so I have to hit the ground running.

On the home front, I have been on a sweet tooth satisfying binge - I made cheese danish yesterday and fudge today.  I can't eat much of either without feeling a bit sick, so the kids have been enjoying the sweet streak.

I think I am mostly missing my oldest girl, or the idea of her, as she really hasn't been home all summer with all her activities.  She moved to Oahu yesterday.  As she walked out the door on Monday night (she spent the night with her best friend), I happened to look up at her baby picture in hallway.  Yep, that did it, floods of tears.  She isn't going far - and she is going to family, but she is still making that first real grown up step.  In another year, my second child will be off to college, probably on the mainland.

I seriously determined years ago to not be a maudlin mom when my kids grew up, but  - I failed.  I am sure I will get over it....eventually. 

In the garden, I put out a butternut that wasn't doing well in the greenhouse - seems better out in the ground, and the new seedlings are starting well.  It's time to pull out the peas I planted in March and some of the cukes - they got some kind of mold or fungus and didn't do that great, although I had a fair amount of cucumbers in May and June, surprisingly.  It seems I need to mulch the potatoes on an almost daily basis - the combination of sporadic heavy rain and bright sunshine seems to be doing them wonders. 

I am trying to get my ideas for books to read with ninth graders together.  I am thinking about Nation and Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett, and Til We Have Faces and That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis.  Might be too heavily speculative fiction, but all four books have good messages, are fairly accessible - so many of the books on the recommended lists are just darned depressing or explore the darker side of life. 

Well, it is time to let the hens out for their afternoon constitutional.  Sorry I have been absent lately, but the fact that the oldest has moved now means the computer is a bit more open, so perhaps I will be able to be around more. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Baby Girl

She isn't much of a baby anymore.  She took these pictures yesterday, so I told her I would post them.

Sunset over the barn - comes sort of early because of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa blocking the actual sunset.
 Elvis, up close and personal.  

 Crazy Horse Gib.  Scared, as usual - not sure he's ever seen a camera - the last pictures of him were from my cell phone.
 Ohia, the lame and beloved paint.  

Birthday Girl with her favorite horse.
 Melly, chicken-livered part Border Collie

Birthday Girl discovered a new hobby yesterday - she learned she enjoys working on old cars.  The local mechanic was so delighted, he gave her a giant toolbox for her birthday.  Now she wants a tool set to fill it up!

Cinnamon, the much debated member of our family.  One third of our family (including me because of her habit of taking bites out of my livestock at random intervals) are perpetually mad at her - the other two thirds think she is our best dog.

This is the car she helped to work on yesterday (not ours). Looks like fun!

Well, that was a day in the life of my youngest child during the summer.  Today is the party - a slumber party with an eclectic mix of friends from her old school and her new school.  It should be interesting.

She and my husband are outside in the rain fixing up the play barn so the girls can sleep out there tonight - the last few plexiglass windows and a door and one more wall should make it rain tight, although I am hoping today will be like yesterday - raining in the morning and then sun coming out later.

I got some spinach seedlings and collards in the ground near the potatoes yesterday, transplanted a few tomato seedlings into bigger pots for the greenhouse, and made and put up jalapeno salsa.  I still want to get the brussels sprout seedlings out in the garden, transplant the green peppers into bigger pots and start some lettuce and more spinach seeds.  Just a few more weeks until school starts - so much to do in that little time!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Inconsistent Weather

One day it is beautiful and the next it is cold and rainy.  Somehow, I always mess up, because I decide to do inside chores (methodically cleaning one room at a time in the house) when it looks a bit dicey in the morning, and then elect to continue even though the day turns out gorgeous. I keep thinking the next day will be just as nice, and that is when I will work outside.

Somehow, it never works out.  I am inside rushing to get done with whatever big clean is needing to be finished, looking out the window, wishing I were outside.  Today, I planned to mulch the potatoes and start getting the beds ready for the things I started in the last few weeks: cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, kabocha pumpkin, collards, and spinach, but it is too wet and muddy to do anything.  Even if we have one dry day - it isn't enough to dry out things enough to work.  I think I will need a week of dry days to get the soil prepped.  I guess I am stuck with pots and containers.

I went to Home Depot today, and I think everyone else has the same idea, because they are decidedly low on the 5 and 7 gallon pots - I bought probably 11 or so of the former and that wiped out the supply.  There were no 7 gallon pots to be found.

The male sheep and Niele (the one surviving ewe lamb from this year) all have decided they like our front yard and nibbling on the citrus bark.  It seems like nearly every day that I need to go round them up and let them back in the pasture.  We have tried adding new wire and some steel cable we had lying around to the fencing, but it isn't working.  Trying to figure out what else to do without putting up welded wire - we don't want anything that permanent there, because the grass grows up through it and it is a pain to take out.  I swear I see Elvis sighing in resignation when I go out there with my stick and my lead rope.  I use the stick to sort of fend him off and the rope to lead him back in - everyone else follows him.  He did get me a few days ago, and my okole is still smarting.  I really need to think about selling him....

We need to drive out and get our son's car from the mechanic that lives back in the forest, and when we come back, I am going to try my hand at pasta making.  I got the attachments for the kitchen aide appliance for Christmas, but never quite got around to working with them.  It looks a bit time consuming and fiddly, but I am going to try.  I will let you know how it goes.