Monday, June 22, 2009

My Real Life Farmtown

"Farmtown" if you haven't heard already, is a Farming game that we like to play on Facebook that allows us the thrill of planting and growing crops in record time, plus actually making money from it. Well, it's pretend money, so we can buy more seeds and junk to decorate our property. It's what we like to do when we are resting in our recliners from the REAL farmish stuff at our place.

In real life, my pumpkins don't take four days to harvest. But they sure are growing! Last year, my dadgum chickens (when they were more "free range" and less "field range") got into the pumpkin and zucchini seeds and ate every last one. Or so we thought... we actually ended up with one zucchini plant that managed to serve us just fine, only it was in a different location than I had originally planted it!

Our garden this year is a scaled down version of last year. We only planted as time and weather allowed, which wasn't much. (Definitely not the fault of the weather!) Thankfully, it wasn't a sopping wet, muddy mess like last May/June!

Here's what's on the menu this year:
Corn (twice as much as last year)
Strawberries - which are giving us a super-sweet reward for all that mucking through the mud last May!
Tomatoes - fewer plants, started earlier
Cauliflower and Broccoli - looking too leggy and they keep blooming. Darned things.
Pumpkin - started plants this time, instead of seeds. Much better luck!
Cucumbers - planted alongside the chicken fencing so they can enjoy one half and we get the other!
Sunflowers GALORE! Several varieties all along the fenceline this year. I can't wait to see what comes up and take a picture of it.
Carrots - I cheated and tried a package of those strips that come pre-seeded. I also planted a couple rows of a different, smaller variety as well. We seem to prefer the smaller ones.
Watermelon - not much luck last year, and I'm pretty sure it will be about the same this time around, but it's fun to take up space with huge mounds.
Some strange variety of Squash - my daughter chose it, I planted it. I love to humor the help.
Potatoes - some of last year's potatoes volunteered to grow again. We'll be putting a bunch more into above ground planters this week as a test garden.

And flowers - oh boy I am keeping with my goal of growing 50 square feet of ONLY flowers. Might not seem like much, but I LOVE ME SOME FLOWERS. I ended up only planting annuals in the garden, because Mr Nice Guy likes to till the whole thing up every year so I didn't see any reason to do perennials. I'll save those for around the house. We've got rows of marigolds, cosmos, bachelor buttons and asters. I'm positive there's a row of mixed flowers as well as a few others that will be a complete surprise when they bloom.

Also... we have about 18 varieties of salad greens growing in our leased out garden, and so lettuce, spinach and things like that are in abundant supply.

We picked Royal Anne cherries today and I'm currently trying to figure out what to do with them. I am pondering the idea of pulling out the food dehydrator and making fruit leather for the kids. Any suggestions for what to do with large quantities of cherries besides canning them?? We'll be helping pick the rest of the (huge!) tree in a couple days and I'd sure like to be a little more prepared - so shoot me some ideas!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Forgive Me

I have a heavy heart today. For there are many things I have done wrong lately, intentionally, and these things have gone unforgiven. Matter of fact I haven't even asked for forgiveness, I just keep doing these things. I do them on purpose. I need an intervention, some inpatient counseling... medication maybe? I know, group therapy!

Forgive me for causing my entire family to stumble. To stumble into the pits of Facebook, that is. How was I to know that the entire bunch of them would love it as much as I do? I did not know that it was like a contagious disease, wiping out whole families at a time. My children, my parents, my cousins, and now my own BROTHER! *gasp* My brother was the toughest one of all. I thought he was immune. He rarely calls, doesn't read his email much, and to see him on Facebook, interacting with the rest of us, means that something has gone terribly wrong. He's in. He's sick... just like the rest of us. What have I done??

Forgive me for setting up my own children on Twitter. I meant them no harm. Seeing them post from Twitter, while they were miles away from me all weekend, means that their illness goes one step further. They HAD to do it, their brain chemicals have been altered forever. And although I loved very much the fact that they were staying in constant contact with me, and the rest of our extended family, I know deep down that they may never recuperate fully. What kind of Mother am I?

Forgive me for Facebook mobile. I feel such a miniature sense of shame everytime someone posts a new update, and I reply, while standing in the checkout line at Safeway. Sometimes I say something encouraging when someone needs encouragement, sometimes it's just a prayer, often times it's a giggle. But if those people behind me knew what I was doing, I would just die of embarrassment! How could I go so far as to be interested in other people's lives like that? I may very well never come back to real life after this last week. It was a tough one being so involved with other human beings. I need help. And so much for developing the perfect hermit-like lifestyle. Hmph! I should be ashamed of myself.

Any chance that Facebook Group Therapy will be available as a mobile application?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lovin' me some black and white

I just love black and white photos.

Gosh, I love my kids a lot too. These two, they love each other a ton. Many siblings don't openly share how they feel about each other, but these ones do... and I love it! (Although I openly shared how I felt about my brother a lot, it wasn't quite the same as what I'm talking about here) I think it's because she enjoys mothering, and he loves to be mothered. I'm loving it while it lasts.

Alright already!

So over the course of the last few days I've been happily telling a story about why I am just SO exhausted lately. After hearing for the third time, "is this story on your blog???", I decided it should be. So by popular demand, I present to you the reason why I am tired. And why I think we're slipping into undeniable red-neckedness. Not to be confused with actual nekkid-ness, which is an altogether different thing. And an undesireable one at that.

A few nights back, oh... we'll say about two. I was out mowing the grass. I love to mow the grass. (And if you're into taking those wacked out "how well do you know so-and-so quizzes on facebook, please note that I just GAVE you a clue to one of my questions. It was right there. Take notes.) Anyway, I was out mowing the grass. I had mowed for about an hour and a half. I know this, because my buns were becoming numb and that only happens after the first hour at least. (It's a riding lawnmower people, what are you picturing??) I suddenly got this really strange feeling that I was being watched. Now sometimes that happens when there's a little dark-haired farm worker hanging out in the back forty pickin' himself some chard or something. But this was different. I sorta got the chills. Those guys from south of the border don't quite have that effect on me anymore. Not since that day they saw me waving a shotgun around and decided to learn some RESPECT. Matter of fact I haven't endured any more whistles since that day the chard pickers got glared at by the crazy chicken farmer lady packing some heat.

If you really think I waved a shotgun at them, you're crazy. But it was fun to tell it like that. It was only a .22

So where was I? Oh, right. Numb-buns had the chills. I was making a nice path around the manure pile with the mower, (in case someone ever really wanted to walk that close to it?) and suddenly I got the chills and the feeling I was being watched. I turned and looked over my right shoulder, and then I probably squealed a little, like someone who's oxygen isn't getting released quite right. It startled me to see a full grown fox coming right at me. This is not typical behavior for a fox, I don't think, so my first choices were to choose from the fight or flight instincts. Well hello - wouldn't anyone on a big, loud, riding lawnmower be afraid of a cute little fox? And try to RUN? Of course! It was scary! Foxes don't chase people. Foxes run FROM people. So I pushed that accelerator down, and proceeded to run away from that fox at break-neck speed (of approximately 6 or 7 miles per hour). I was going full bunny speed, and if you don't know anything about lawnmowers, that is the opposite of turtle speed.

I got a good 4 and a half yards away when I decided to call my husband and tell him about the apparent emergency situation. We were, after all, only a few more yards from my chickens. Foxes like chickens. It says so in the cartoons. I would have called him, had there actually been a phone in my pocket. Oh boy, one more problem. Evidently my cell phone, that I really don't leave my home without anymore was missing. (See all those previous injuries like the one where I'm out in the field crawling along through goat poop because I can't walk and I forgot my phone - yes, I always take my phone now!) It had fallen out of my pocket somewhere along my insanely bumpy ride around fields and up and down hillsides. More like it was pinched out of my pocket like a grape comes out of its skin, because when my body jiggles around like that, stuff is bound to pop out of tight places. Thank goodness for support bras.

Speaking of my chest, my heart was pounding out of it. I turned around to see how close the fox was going to come to eating me, when I realized that the little guy had decided to sit down (on my cute little path by the manure pile, thankyouverymuch) and he was just watching me. So I mentally took my heartbeat down a few notches and decided that I hadn't really ever heard of a person being maimed or anything by a red fox, and that if he was going to watch me, I would just pretend like he wasn't there. So I swung around, and made another pass on the hillside that I had been hacking at with the mower (tall weeds, ok?) and kept one eye on the furry little beast.

He must have watched me for at least 10 minutes as I carried on about my business and then I saw him saunter off towards the river. So, I switched back to see if I could find where he was heading. If there was a den or something, the guardian of the farm would need to know this information! As luck would have it, I lost the fox down in a draw, so I turned and headed back to the house to alert Mr Nice Guy about my sighting.

The evening went fairly uneventfully after that. The kids picked on me about being afraid of a cute little fox. And other than that, it was kind of embarassing to have one of the farmers show up just in time to see me walking around listening to where the ringing grass was coming from. My phone survived, I am happy to report, although a bit mucked up from all the wet grass that by then had dried all over it.

When evening came, I was unusually exhausted. All that actual labor did me in (as opposed to the made up stuff that I typically just talk about doing) and I decided I wanted to go to bed early. I had grand plans of getting a full nights' sleep, since it was the first day of summer break! Anyone who knows me and my life, gets a chuckle out of me making "plans" because nothing ever really happens around here quite like I would have it.

Somewhere around midnight, I finally fell into bed. It was no more than a couple hours later that some guy showed up in my bedroom (well it's his room too, but since I was sleeping and he was not, it was technically "my" room) and he was out of breath and freakin' out. Mr Nice Guy isn't afraid of anything. Well, except for cougars. And he was about 95 percent sure he'd just spotted one when he went out to see if that cute, fuzzy little fox was nosing around the chicken coop. I made some sort of mention like, "woooah, that's crazy. Are you sure? Unhhhhhuhhh...." as he carried on, and then thought, like a lunatic, that I'd be able to go back to sleep. Then he said the dreaded word "we" as he proceeded to get out another gun, more ammo and turn on every light in the room on his way through. Oh geeez. You gotta be kidding me.

I was a good sport. Besides, I really enjoyed meeting up with that fox earlier in the day, how much different could a cougar encounter be? Just a couple weeks ago, a cougar got chased out of the yard of some people here in town by their chihuahua. Hopefully we got that one, and he would be just as afraid of a crazy chicken farmer lady with blurry eyes and he would high tail it for the hills.

It wasn't until we were headed towards the door that I realized we were going to be heading towards this apparent danger. I felt like I was up a creek without a mower. Then Mr Nice Guy sprung me a new surprise... "You're driving".

Oh, now this is the part where we get all red-necked on you. I pray to our sweet Jesus that nobody I know (or don't know, for that matter) happens upon us during our middle of the night adventures and captures photographic evidence. Here's the crazy chicken farmer lady, driving up and down the lumps of not-so-level roads around the field, with her wacked-out lunatic red-neck husband hanging a 2 million candlewatt spot out the window with one hand, and keeping his shotgun from flying out the window with the other. If our dog wasn't afraid of gunfire, he'd have been hanging his head out the backseat window and drooling down the side of our rig in anticipation of a hunt. Notice I said rig? That is redneck for "automobile". And also notice I said "hunt". I must clarify here, that we did not go out to "hunt" any animal, anymore than you go window shopping with the intent to purchase. But you have your credit card in your wallet in case of emergency, right? In this state, you must have a tag to hunt cougar, and we are not cougar hunters. We are cougar chaser-offers, and we are armed in case the chasee, becomes the chaser. Hope that clarifies it enough for you.

So anyway, we do the usual sweep of the property. We do a lot of sweeping for raccoons, skunks, opossums and... that's about it. If we find one, we ask it to leave. If it comes back, we deport it because that's how we roll. This is chicken farming country, and not just us, but the neighbors on both sides are into the business big time. We are on the neighborhood watch of a different variety. This sweep was high-intensity though. A different level of adrenaline was pumping, because normally you don't worry that you're gonna kick the bucket looking for a possum that is out breaking chicken necks.

Mr Nice Guy directs me to drive out by that nicely mowed manure pile area and stop. That's where he spotted something earlier. He was pretty sure he saw a fox, and then he saw something bigger. The bigger was his 95 percent "big cat" theory, and 5 percent "maybe it was a really weird deer that runs like a big cat". I didn't mind stopping when he told me to stop, even though it was a little creepy. It was when he got out of the car to check the brush and the trees and the dirt for prints that he freaked me out. All that stuff is usual for me, but the dadgum man left the door wide open! What in the name of Pete do you think I would have written in my blog today if a cougar got in my rig with me?

Once I decided to breathe normally about the suburban door being left wide open, the interior lights shut off. At least if some big cat got in, I'd never know, so therefore I would have nothing to worry about. *faint*

A while later, probably 8 or 9 years later, Mr Nice Guy got back in the "rig" and we finished looking up every tree trunk and down each and every draw and decided to call it a night.

I'm glad, because I still had a few hours to get a full nights sleep. It was only 2 something in the morning.

At 4:30 in the MIDDLE of my FULL NIGHTS SLEEP an alarm went off. I about popped out of my skin (like a pressurized grape) when I realized it was my daughter's cell phone alarm. She set it, and left it downstairs to what? Amuse me?? I was not amused. Matter of fact the only thing that felt amusing at that moment was to take her cute little powder blue phone and chuck it out the sliding glass door as far as I could. But it would be my luck that someone would still be out there videotaping our property because we're weird, and it would just be more evidence against me.

Sometime during those hours to follow, I tossed and turned. I mumbled something about why me. I griped about the bad timing of cramps. I flipped and flopped trying to make my back feel better, but sleep was elusive.

Thankfully, last night was much better. I didn't even BOTHER trying to get into bed to sleep, because then I would just have to wake up to take care of whatever was going on in my tiny little brain, or the large, creative brains of those around me. Matter of fact, I didn't roll into bed until a quarter to five this morning, and was really excited because having 2 less children in the house meant I'd still get a full nights sleep - and I had nothing planned for my day!


Until... the phone rang at 8:30. Someone was on their way over.
And then I found out I lost my biggest rooster during the night. Something big got him. Ugh, how upsetting.

So now I'm going to bed again. This crazy redneck chicken farmer lady needs her sleep.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Graduation Day

I had such fun photographing our Eva Marie on her graduation day! She and her friends are fun, and get an obvious kick out of life. She graduated from a high school program through PCC that allows the students to also complete credits towards an associates degree alongside their diploma. She's got a big head start on her degree!

Can you believe this girl wants to be a Math Teacher?

We took these two out to dinner and had SUCH a great time with the family.

This last picture kinda shows us how it feels to FINALLY complete 12 years of school plus 75 college credits too.

We're proud of you girlie, and praying that God blesses you greatly in your future!