Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's One of Those days.... again.

I have no "purpose" today, but there's some consolation in the fact that Shakespeare might have had the same problem if he had been blogging.
So I will kind of do a collage of things for you, starting with a bit of guilt at complaints about the weather. It's foggy and cold today. REALLY FOGGY AND COLD....
The sun tried to shine and did for a while yesterday. The fog backed away and we had sunshine even though it was very cold.
and then, in the afternoon, it came back with the wind and settled into the river canyon for good.

This morning the thermometer read:
And it froze last night, breaking the hose that goes to the goat house for water.  But, it's OK, because then I get pictures from my friend Dawn, the "charming baglady", who lives in Michigan and I feel like a whiny baby for complaining about a 36 degree high and the 28 degree low.
Dawn talks about blizzards, wind chill factors, lake effect snow, loss of electricity and how she can't get to the store for days on end. She says that they do come and remove the snow from the street but it piles up at the edge of the driveway and freezes into ice that can't be driven over so if they are home.... they are stuck.
This is the view from her house. She loves the Michigan winters. She's always been tough.
This is her street and that is her neighbor's house in the distance.
And this is Mugs, her dog, after a romp outside....
Isn't that the cutest dog with snow on face. Wanna kiss?
Anyway, I know that I live in California and part of me is glad that I do. I don't live were it's always below 0 in the winter. I know I'm complaining about nothing compared to other places in the world but .... I'm sorry. It's cold for the California Foothills above Sacramento.  There.... I said it. I'm a wimp. An old wimp. If the rain and the cold would get together and snow for a day then I might be so delighted that I wouldn't feel like this... like Brownie, but it hasn't and, well..... Brownie isn't even talking about it today. Maybe he will have something to say tomorrow.
So, I feel like Seinfeld today. I have a Blog and I really don't have a lot to say, but I'm finding things to talk about the longer I sit in front of this computer. Maybe that's what Shakespeare did. Sat at his desk and dipped his pen in the ink well long enough that he finally came up with "a rose by any another name.." and " How sharper than a serpent's tooth...." etc. Genius is just hiding under this pile of notes on top of my desk. It's going to happen any moment now.....
Maybe not...
When I was at my sister's house during Christmas they were feeding the birds in their front yard. Sis, her son Ben and I watched the little Chickadees and Sparrows eating the birdseed from the livingroom window and I was taking pictures.
You know how they say that Opportunity knocks? Well, I have photographic evidence that, even in nature, there are opportunist. This rat was on that birdseed. He was darting in and out of the Star Jasmine grabbing all the seed he could get. 
Now I don't know how you feel about Rats. I have fairly good feelings about them. I don't want one in bed with me or biting me but I think they are very interesting creatures. My Dad use to talk about the huge river rats up on the Russian River when he was young. He said one crawled into his sleeping bag one night and, luckily, didn't bite him but he never slept outside again that I can remember. 
We had a white pet Rat in our 6th grade classroom in Pine Grove school when I was working for a living and he was the cutest little guy (rat) I had ever seen. He would wait for the kids to come and play with him. He would sit on their shoulders and laps. He was part of the classroom. He was cool.
So I don't get all hysterical when I see a rat and it appears that birds don't either. My sister pointed out that they all seemed to be OK with the rat taking some of the seed. She said that she wished all beings could live in harmony like this... sharing and coexisting together. And in a perfect world... she's right. It would be wonderful. I agreed, but I think it had more to do with the size of their brains   and the fact that there was a lot of birdseed to go around. 
In other parts of the world it's more like this....
...and that's just scary.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Takedown and Hog Rings

It was time to let go of Christmas, so the chaos began yesterday.
 I realized that I only used decorations that were in my closet, because I was sick, and not the multitude of Christmas boxes out in the rafters of the garage. This is the second year that I have not pulled out all the boxes of Christmas things in the garage. I have decided that maybe I don't need what's out there anymore. What I used from the closet was enough and the revelation is mind boggling. Sometime this year, I will tackle the boxes in the garage and PURGE.
We took the lights down from the outside edges of the house....
The old Prospector put them up, this year, without his usual baa humbug, "Do I have to do this?" speech. Maybe he took pity on me because I was ill. He used the pretext that people in Mokelumne Hill (the little town east of us) would miss seeing the only Christmas lights across the river on the western hills. But, sadly, on Wednesday, he went out and took them down. I kind of miss the colored edges of the gutter coming on in the morning before the light breaks and at night as I sat in the living room knitting. It's the old fashion ones, individual and multi colored. No flashing on/off or icicle fakery, just soft color around the porch and across the back of the house where they can be seen from many miles. I will miss them.
Yesterday, in the late afternoon, the Prospector asked me if I would help him fix the goat fence below the house. The wire fencing had finally given way from the goats incessant reaching for the "greener" grass on the other side. This section, if they broke through would lead right up into my front garden and disaster would ensue. So, we corraled the dogs, much to their dismay....
and laid out the new piece of fencing, with SMALLER holes that the goats couldn't get their heads through and began the arduous stretching and attachment of a new piece of wire fence. We decided to leave the old fencing in place and attach the new shorter section right to the old one.
We laid out the new piece of fencing and cut the length we needed. I held the piece up on one end while the Prospector snaked an old t-post through one end and attached the "come along" to it. This is a very nifty device that lets you stretch the wire fencing tightly so you can attach it to the fence posts.I don't know how any fencing could be done without one.
We just needed to pull this new piece tight enough  so that we could attach it to the old fence.
That's where these little guys come in. I was in charge of the HOG RINGS. Now, I don't want to offend any of my readers by going into detail about what the real purpose of these large rings( heavy staples) are for but if you really want to read about it go to this site and it will explain. Please don't if you are into animal activism or don't have a pig farm. Don't tell me you went to the site and now you're offended. I told you ahead of time and you had a choice. Raising farm animals is a learning process. If you want to learn something... then go take a look. Now I know why I wouldn't want to raise pigs. I couldn't do this to them.... and maybe you don't have to. I believe that some of these practices are a bit old and barbaric. I'm glad we were using them on fencing.
OUR purpose for the hog rings was to attach one fence to another as a temporary measure until we can afford a new section of fencing below the house. They are crooked little staples that get all tangled up in the box.  My job, after we got the fencing stretched out, was to untangle them and hand them to the Prospector, one at a time, so he could attach the wires of the fencing to the old one using these nifty staples and his (what else) HOG PLIERS. It all works quite well with two people. We were quite a team. Those old goats won't know what happen. I can just hear them now. "Hey, what happen to the holes we made in the fence? How come we can't reach the grass on the slope.? FARMLADY......"
The fog was coming in over the hills to the west and the wind was picking up. We finished the "patching" as the sun disappeared into the fog and the air got really cold.  We cleaned up, closed the gates and  dragged everything up into the garage.Time to go inside and have some hot chocolate.
It was a day of accomplishment. It was a day of putting away, cleaning up and fixing here on the farm. I like that. Together, with this man that I live with, we make a good team. We always have.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First the Rain, Then the Fog, and Today... Oh, the Sun

"An absolute patience.
Trees stand up to their knees in fog.
The fog slowly flows uphill.
White cobwebs, the grass leaning 
where deer have looked for apples.
The woods from brook to where
the top of the hill looks
over the fog, send up not one bird.
So absolute, it is
no other than happiness itself,
a breathing
too quiet to hear."
~Denise Levertov~ The Breathing
And then this morning, as if I had wished into the heart of Mother Nature for many days on end, it happened. The Sun greeted us, on the porch, as an old friend that comes unexpectedly after a long absence....
Bright, blinding sunshine that lit the damp, dead leaves with transparent hope.
Everything seemed joyful and more precious because of this life giving orb in the morning sky. 
I told you that the garden ladies would smile....
Do you see it? That small curve to the corners of her mouth? 
The faint difference in her demeanor?
The wonderful feeling of warmth and peacefulness?
Yes, the is what the sunshine does in Winter.
And then... I'm sure I saw this rabbit wink at me.
Talk about happiness.....Oh Freckles, does the sun feel good?

Brownie stood in the goat house doorway for the longest time with Bart and then he came over and rubbed his head against the fence. I know he has been the most miserable of all. Do you see the upturned corner of his mouth. That's like a silent meow.... He's such a drama king.
And then.... Murphy, my magic goat, came over and nibbled on my fingers, looking straight into my eyes. He said, " Thank you Farmlady. This is an auspicious day. A day of sunshine and happiness." 
With goats, you always want them to think that you are the creator of the sunlight and of food, so I just replied...." You're welcome, Murph'."
It was a bright and beautiful morning.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rain, rain... go away....

Come again another day....
The sun was trying so hard, this morning, to break through the fog and mist.
The garden ladies have no flowers to smell...
They are being so patience. The dampness is invasive and  the beautiful green hair of the ivy lady's hair has turned brown and drips with rain. It's time for some sun... just a day or two.

Yesterday I was getting "cabin fever", so in spite of the rain, I put my rain shoes on, grabbed my coat and drove to Amador City.

As I have said before. This is my favorite little foothill town.
There weren't many folks walking around. The stormy weather discourages visitors. This is when I love to get in the car and drive.  It was time for a visit to Sandy at her Country Living store.  I parked right in front and went in.  Sandy greeted me like an old friend.
Her shop is the most wonderful store in the foothills. It has vintage/ antique things, candles, dried flowers, wonderful light strings, aprons, and , always, music that makes you feel so good....Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Women of the 40's, sometimes classic 60's .... all making the ambiance of this charming store even more wonderful. Sandy has started carrying sheep wool and I bought some lovely, natural and curly wool and some that she had dyed. Plus a Christmas thermometer... just because. All her Christmas things were on sale.
I bought a few other things but I can's say what they are because .... someone has a birthday coming up next week and there will be presents....
While I was there I met a woman who is a mixed media artist. Her name is Linda and her business is called TIZZY. The three of us talked for quite a while and exchanged cards.What fun to stand around and talk about things and ideas that others have in common with you. Sandy has no idea what this afternoon in her store did for my psyche.
If you ever get to Amador City, please stop into Country Living. It's a wonderful place that will lift your spirits and I guarantee you will find something you can't live without.
I drove back home, feeling so much better. Everyone needs to go out and get a different perspective once in a while. This was better than a shot of antibiotics.
I came home and made some Chicken Pesto Soup with Veggies.
The rain continued all evening but it didn't seem so depressing. After dinner I felted some of my new wool, read a new book on felting (a gift from the Prospector) and knitted myself into sleep on the couch. It was a good day.
This morning the sun has arrived ( well, it comes and goes.) and I'm going out to see if the garden ladies have a little smile on their faces yet. It's very subtle. Just a small difference but I can always tell when they feel the sun on their lovely stone faces.
The New Year begins....