Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Graduation, Once Again

This year it was my nephew who graduated. The ceremony, as usual was emotional and quite beautiful. 

The weekend was full of family and friend fun.  We had two BBQs - one for family (20 of us and that's only two brothers and their families) and one for friends.  Good thing we just filled our freezer with a 1/4 of a cow.  I also canned up some beef in red wine sauce.  I was disappointed that whole brisket and two chuck steaks (plus apples, carrots, and red wine) only yielded 3 pints - I wish I'd filled the pressure canner with jars of something else just to be efficient.  I guess it's a case of live and learn. 

I sold a ram lamb.  It was Baby, aka Thing 2.  These people came over in response to my ad for wethers and rams.  They came with a medium sized dog crate which had a Nigerian goat already in it.  They were SHOCKED at the size of the sheep - even though they told me they'd bottle fed a ewe lamb in the past.  I pointed out the sheep that were for sale, and they kept pointing to my lambs.  I told them that the lambs are NOT weaned (they'd told me they'd never bottle another baby) and NOT for sale (yet).  Finally, they pointed to Baby, who is pretty runty. 

I told them that he's not thriving and would never be large and needs to be cared for carefully.  That made them plead for him even more.  I think we can safely say they wanted a pet. 

I do think I have sold the white ram lamb with the black spots - the woman who called was very interested - but she wanted to take him and bottle him.  I am just going to tell her to wait until he's weaned, because I don't want to take the chance he won't do well like Baby. 

I am now pau hana for the last day of 2012-2013.  I am a little sad and at the same time, quite ready for a break! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The End of School

Well, the first of my three sans-students days is done.  I am done with my grades, mostly done with organizing my room so the custodial staff can get in here and do their magic - the room cleaner assigned to our building is quite an amazing guy.  I am not just saying that because he tells the most wonderful stories about growing up in Hilo and Puna, and not just because he promised to catch me a Rhode Island Red rooster from the flock running wild around his neighborhood, but because our rooms are so well cared for.  He works so hard and everything is so perfect.  

I wish I could say that about myself.  These closing weeks of school are so hectic, my garden has gone to pot.  Nearly everything in the greenhouse needs to be pulled and replanted.  The sweet potatoes are taking over everything.  The hens are hiding their eggs, the little cluckers, and I can only find a few at any given time.  It's getting to be Easter every day at my house.  My house isn't so bad, because I ditched the grading this weekend to clean, but the farm stuff is just neglected. 

One victory, though, instead of suffering and starving in silence, my son let me know that although he paid for his emergency dentistry adventure - he is out of food and has no money.  His self-proclaimed "nerd herd" has emptied his cupboards and drained his gas tank without producing the money they promised toward food and gas.  I hated that he felt like he couldn't ask for help. 

My soon to be 9th grader just walked in - they went on a huakaʻi to Punaluʻu.  She excitedly told me they saw a dead puffer fish and too sea turtles.  My budding marine biologist....

I actually miss my students today - I was ready enough to shut the door behind them, but I feel a little bereft today. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Acting Goofy with Crazy Horse Gib

My daughter has been feeling bad that I never ride.  It just seems like such a pain in the rear trying to catch Gibby (you have to get him in the stall and sneak behind him and shut the gate to the pasture.)  The other day, she went out there and did it, though. 

I admit he's been a lawn ornament most of this semester and getting on a spooky lawn ornament is not something undertaken lightly, plus I am committed to exercising 5-6 days a week, but I decided to honor her thought and take the boy for a walk.  Literally, like a dog, for a walk. 

Along the way, I let him stop and sample the grass.  And I acted like an absolute fool - dancing around, running toward him, waving my arms.  I can only imagine what people driving by thought.  This horse is dangerously spooky, so the point was to make him completely inured to my antics.  He's selectively spooky.  You can sack him out with a whip, a plastic bag on a stick, any cloth, no matter how flappy and loudly colored - but raise your hand and he's out of there. 

The first time I made an abrupt movement, he wheeled around and attempted to bolt - a good hold on the lead rope stopped him.  I looked at him with absolute lazy body posture and said, "What's the deal, guy, go eat!"  He stood there snorting at me, and then put his head down and ate.  I did it again and again.  For a good ten minutes, he stood and stared at me with one big round eye, but his head was down and he wasn't breathing hard - it was more like, "You are one crazy mama, you know?" 

He started grazing with intensity and didn't even flinch eventually.  Success! 

Next step is mounting and dismounting and mounting, over and over. 

I noticed when I came home yesterday, he was standing at the gate.  I think he wanted to play some more.  I am looking forward to summer and some horseplay. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Living on Catchment Water

Thank goodness, the tradewinds are back.  One of our 5000 gallon tanks was empty after a couple of weeks without rain, but it's been raining at night the last few days, so we should be back to full, pretty soon.

It made me reflect, though.  Our first few years here, we only had a 2300 gallon tank, and the only time we were really low was the drought in 1998 - four months without a drop.  However, we've basically blown through 5000 gallons in just about 2 weeks.  This means the 15 year olds looooong baths really do add up! 

Living on catchment does indeed make you think about water consumption.  We don't think of it as much as some drier areas, I imagine, but you have a very physical assessment of your water use as you feel the water levels dropping.  The tanks are sealed, so I check their levels by feeling the sides of the fiberglass tanks. 

We filter our water through a number of filters - a few for bathing and washing water, and many for the one spigot of drinking water.  I do think our drinking water is the best ever, although I do encourage visitors to bring bottled water.  We bleach our water and then filter (7 filters before it hits the drinking spigot), but just in case.  The water is caught in gutters off the roof and sent to the tank.  It is pumped from the tank through the pump house filters and then to the drinking water filters.  Generally, beyond fiddling with the filters and one replaced holding tank, we have enough rain to not have to worry about our water system.  When there is an El Nino year, though, we have had to preserve some.  I don't know how the households that live in drier areas handle matters.  We do have two teens, 17 sheep, and a horse using this water, but we also have 10,000 gallons of storage capacity.

Every so often, a politician will run with the idea of "upgrading" the island so that we all have county water.  I always vote against them!  County water is just BIG catchment tanks; I'd rather trust my own water management and not be charged for what falls from the sky in a lot of abundance here in the rainforest. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lying neighbor

Had a neighbor call & ask for "a dozen to leaves"for lau lau. The jerk cut about 120 & left this pile of rubbish  behind. I moved it to the compost pile - he just left it by the plants. Now I don‘t have enough for lei for graduation or for more than a couple of  lau lau for myself. 

On the other hand, as I was cleaning up I found a hen on a best... I knew someone was hiding eggs. I floated them & they're fine. I guess it was my silver lining.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Almost summer!

Two weeks until graduation.  Graduation is my last day of work for the school year. 

This is actually not strictly true, as I have quite a few days of curriculum work lined up and one long conference in technology in education.  I don't think I have but one or two weeks that have nothing in them - and even those weeks will see me down at school because the kids have conditioning for Cross Country.  It sure will cut into the garden and farm projects, unfortunately. 

Once again, I am making my overly ambitious lists of things I want to do during my break involving things like learning to knit, finishing my quilt top, canning a bunch of stuff not yet grown, expanding the growing areas, riding the horse, cleaning out the animal pens, doing some fencing.....  If I get half of my list done, I will be pretty happy. 

I guess I like to dream big. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gloomy day

Sulpher smelling gloomy day. At least the rain will wash the vog away eventually....

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pink Shell Ginger!

I am so excited!  I have been looking for pink shell ginger for so long - this is the one with the edible root.  Someone just casually pulled up a root and handed it to my husband yesterday.

Once again, I found myself planting (practically) in the dark.  Ginger spreads like you wouldn't believe, so we planted it where the cement of the driveway would stop it spreading in one direction and the trees would stop in a second direction.  It was the only place we could come up with in a hurry because it was growing dark and we were starving! 

Now I have three varieties of ginger growing in our yard - a yellow ginger and a red ginger, both ornamental, and the pink.  At least, I hope the pink will grow.  It should, but I gave it a little pep talk as we drove past it this morning, much to the amusement of my 15 year old son. 

"It can't hear you, Mom," he chortled.

"They say talking to plants helps them grow," I replied.

"That's because of the carbon dioxide, Mom," sighs my 13 year old budding biologist. 

Life with teenagers.  You'd think I would be used to it by now - what with teaching 9th and 10th graders for so long and having had my own teenagers for the last 8 years.... 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lost and Found Lambs

As I was grading papers with the windows open yesterday afternoon, I could hear lambs calling and calling for their mamas.  Just when it started to get to me, when I thought I needed to go out and do something about it, they'd go quiet, presumably because they found their target. 

Considering that I had to carry the twins out to their mama in the morning because she took a bee-line out to the grass and left them in the dust, it's understandable that I felt edgy hearing them cry.  I hate going out into the pasture with Elvis loose.  I have this vision of him getting a good 100 foot run on me and breaking my back if I turn my back on him.  My fix for this problem is carrying the bright red pony halter with the thick white cotton lead and swinging it around casually in his direction.  He hates it when I catch him and lead him anywhere, so the red halter is a big red flag for him. 

It's like I have a compass for him; part of my awareness is always triangulating with his location - he scares me that much.  The biggest dog and the craziest horse don't scare me as much as this ram - but if we're on opposite sides of a fence, he's my best bud.  He loves affection - which is probably the problem. Our other rams are very standoffish and have never offered to ram a human.  I try to dole it out under his chin and in small amounts. 

The one ewe lamb born last week is limping.  I can't see anything wrong with her leg or hoof, though.  I don't think this has anything to do with the "lost and found" drama - she still moves pretty fast.  I hope it resolves, because ewe lambs are thin on the ground this year. 

This has nothing to do with the lambs, but I think you might get a laugh out of my morning!  Today, I woke up at 5 am, as I usually do, except I just felt discombobulated.  Even though I didn't feel like I was getting ready at any slower pace, we didn't leave the house until 5 minutes to six.  As we were driving down the driveway, my son grumbled, "We're supposed to be at school by now!"  I couldn't account for the time. 

Because we were so late, I had to cut my morning workout in half to 15 minutes.  When I went to shower, I found I'd forgotten my towel.  When I got to my room, I found I had forgotten my computer.  I can't teach without my computer - we do our attendance on the computer and all my content in on a Learning Management System - and kids and parents email me all day long.  I didn't have quite enough time to drive home to get it, so I called my husband who graciously agreed to drive it down for me.  I told him I'd meet him at the student parking lot to save him some extra driving.  Our campus is pretty big, so that was over a 1/4 mile walk for me. 

On the way there, my sandal broke, so I had to walk barefoot (I am wearing my athletic shoes with my dress pants now). 

It was kind of a rough start to the morning - although it did provide amusement to my 16 year olds.