Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Loose Ends.

Posted on | January 23, 2012 | 12 Comments

Big projects are overrated.  Sure, they lead to impressive results.  Who doesn’t like water and electricity run out to the barn?  A landscaped pond with a waterfall in the backyard? New kitchen cabinets and an island with bar seating? (Those are just random examples.  I’m not saying that I want those thing.  Or need them.  Or drool over them in magazines.  Totally random.) But big projects are expensive.  And time consuming.  And usually entail long periods of silence when the only communication between me and the Other Half involves giving each other the evil eye.

On occasion it’s better to spend the day tying up loose ends around the house and barn.  You know, getting the little things done that tend to pile up.  It’s so rewarding to start and finish a simple chore.  Check off a number of tasks that have been lingering in the back of your mind. Such a sense of accomplishment.  Completion.  Closure.

Well, kind of.

Because it actually goes something like this:

I started out yesterday by pulling all the sheets and linens off the beds.  Ah, won’t it be wonderful to have clean sheets by bedtime?!  A day laboring at home is a perfect time to do laundry.  It means you’ll actually be around to switch the loads instead of forgetting you started the wash and finding it smelling like mold 2 days later.  And these new high efficiency washer and dryers are really hard to predict.  Just because the washer displays a 2 in the viewing window doesn’t mean it will be done in 2 minutes.  The 2 means it will be a full 14 minutes before the wash is done if you are waiting desperately for it to finish so you can throw your work clothes in the dryer and climb, exhausted, into bed for the night.  The 2 means it will be done in 22 seconds if you decide you’ll be late getting the kids to school if you wait to switch loads, throw up your hands in disgust, and dash off, leaving it sit wrinkled and soggy for the rest of the day.  Yep, that joker will be done as soon as you close your car door and drive off, cursing.  There’s no telling.  I’m really not sure what unit of time is displayed in that window.  But it reminds of those “Push button to cross” devices at intersections.  You don’t really believe you’re controlling the traffic signal, do you?  Ha ha ha ha.  Mechanical engineers are sooo funny.

At least the dryer works well.  It has a wonderful sensor that saves energy by turning off the dryer when the clothes are dry, regardless of what you (an obvious idiot unable to determine proper dryer setting on your own) set it for.  Of course, “dry” is a relative term.  In this case, it means “warm”, as in the dryer turns itself off when it senses the clothes are warm.  It doesn’t care that a warm bundle of laundry only seems dry.  As soon as it cools, you’ll discover the clothes are damp.  As damp as if you’ve had a refreshing morning walk along a misty beach, being splashed by frothy waves breaking over scenic boulders.  Minus the refreshing walk, beach, and waves.  All you get is the damp part.  Which is better than the times the dryer senses the laundry is dry and turns itself off, leaving a nice dry ball of clothing.  A dry ball that has a soaking wet core that you discover as soon as you plop it on the couch and begin pulling it apart.  Oh well. What can you expect from a group of people who barely make minimum wage.  Mechanical engineers only make minimum wage, right?  Right?


It felt good to get started on the sheets.  And the beginning of what was sure to be a productive day.

Wash and dry sheets and linens.

Although, it was a bit shocking and depressing when I passed the boys’ bathroom and saw this:

Note to self: Beat Scream tyrannically at the boys when they get home from school for allowing their dirty laundry to pile up.  Really, boys are so disgusting.  Pretty would never…AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

Note to self: Beat Scream tyrannically at the girl when she gets home from school, too.

Since I was off to an encouraging start, I moved on to the pile of newspapers on the counter.  Time to clip and organize the coupons my dad was kind enough to collect for me.  This was a perfect morning project as it could be completed while watching the morning news shows. As all the annoying unrealistic writers with nannies good parenting books point out, being a mom is not an excuse for shutting yourself off from the rest of the world.  It’s important to stay up to date on current events.  After all, if you don’t know where thousands of people are dying from war or starvation and Newt Gingrich’s stance on open gay marriage, what will you talk about with your friends?  The PTA fundraiser?  The weather?  Booooooring.

Soon I had lovely organized stacks of food savings.  Which, combined with my recipe books and what I knew was ready for harvest in the garden, was then translated into a monthly meal plan.  I think they’re really going to enjoy tuna casserole served with sweet and sour cabbage. Hmmm….might have to be a dessert night.  Good thing I can buy brownie mix for $.22!!

Clip coupons and make meal plan. 

Unfortunately, while I was looking up a printable coupon for Chicken of the Sea, my email popped up to remind me I only had 24 hours left to order 99 photos for $.99 from snapfish.

Note to self: Order photos from summer of 2009.  Being two years behind on scrapbooking was fine.  I mean, isn’t everybody?  But now it’s 2012.  Three years behind is disgraceful.  P.S. Go heavy on ordering pics of Little.  Sometimes he feels bad when he looks at the photo albums and discovers only 1 photo of his childhood for every 15 pictures of Big’s childhood.  How did that happen?  I swore that wouldn’t happen….

I would’ve stayed inside and knocked out ordering pictures while I was sitting at the computer.  But the morning news was over and The Doctors was coming on.  Politics and sex scandals, worldwide death and misery on the news is one thing.  But it was time to get outside before the shows start talking about weight loss, exercise, and healthy living.  I can’t handle that kind of crazy talk first thing in the morning.

Luckily, there was plenty of work to do in the barn yard.  I had already tried encouraging the chickens to lay their eggs in the nest boxes by filling them with fresh hay.  That only had mixed results.  But today I was sealing off their preferred, unreachable nesting place.

Attach deer netting to base of round hay bales to keep chickens from burrowing into the back and laying their eggs.

And while I had my tools out, Papa Noel needed a roof repair for his outside digs.  Last week’s rain revealed he had a leak in the apex of the roof which flooded his bedding.  Since he didn’t have the proper flood insurance, he had to settle for a piece of roofing plastic tacked on with poultry staples, instead of a new house.  Let that be a lesson to the underinsured.

Fix Papa Noel’s house and give him fresh straw.

Of course, Magenta was due for her CD&T shot as she is expected to kid sometime between January 29th and February 4th (or whenever she feels like it, whichever comes first).  She got some selenium gel and a Vitamin B shot for good luck.  Josie got a Vitamin B shot, too, since I never want to go through this polioencephalomalacia scare again.

Give goats their shots.

Trying to find a loose fold of skin on a very inflated, pregnant Magenta to give a subcutaneous shot reminded me that I should get out my birthing supplies.

Note to self: Prepare a fresh birthing kit with nasal aspirator, open syringes for Nutri drench, iodine, floss, and surgical scissors for umbilical cords, and arnica tablets.  Don’t forget the birthing folder with horrifying pictures of breech presentations, prolapsed uterus, uterine rupture and other things so that when you think something bad is happening you can figure out how terribly bad it actually is.  Before you go into the corner of the kidding barn to hyperventilate and vomit.

As I traipsed around the farm I discovered a few more things that needed attention.

Note to self: The hose is leaking and needs to be fixed.  Next time do not be fooled by this flashy advertising:

Stretch, Wrap & Get Rescued

Rescue Tape is the Ultimate Multi-Purpose Self-Fusing Repair Tape!

Rescue Tape . . .

• Is Self-Fusing!
• Incredible 950 PSI Tensile Strength!
• Insulates 8,000 Volts per layer!
• Withstands 500° F Degrees of heat!
• Remains flexible to -85° F! (-60° C)

Rescue Tape . . .

Rescue Tape Rolls

It is all lies.  I don’t know what PSI tensile strength is but apparently the water pressure exerted from a regular outdoor spigot, traveling uphill over 50 feet, and divided among 4 different hoses, exceeds 950 PSI. ‘Cause that sucker starts spraying as soon as you turn on the water flow.

Speaking of hoses, I needed to add water to the straw bales I am marinating in the greenhouse in preparation for planting hothouse tomatoes.  In order for the straw to compost I’ve been adding a combination of nitrogen and water to the bales over a period of time.

Water straw bales in greenhouse.

Too bad that used up the last of my free nitrogen fertilizer.

Note to self: Pick up some high nitrogen fertilizer next time I’m at the feed mill.  With the onset of rainy weather, I’m not likely to get much more from around here.  The boys are happy to contribute their natural nitrogen to the bucket when the weather is nice.  But it’s so much harder to get them to comply when they have to go outside in the rain to pee.  And organic gardening has its limits—I just won’t keep a pee bucket in the house.  You knew nitrogen is just urea, right?  And urea is, well,…never mind.

In any case, the decomposition appears to be working well.  There is a nice yeasty smell to the hay bales and the greenhouse is keeping warm even when the sun is in hiding.  Which reminds me that as soon as the tomato seeds are growing in the hay bales, it’ll be time to prepare seed trays for spring veggies and perennials.  Which means something needs to be done about this:

Note to self: Apparently the wire shelving inside the greenhouse is not going to hang itself.  Better ask the Other Half where the clips are that he ordered to put up the shelves.  If that doesn’t prompt him to hang them, ask him if I can borrow his sawhorses to hold up the shelves since I don’t know where the clips are.  If that doesn’t prompt him to hang them, ask him where his circular saw is so that I can cut an old piece of fencing into pieces, and lay it across the sawhorses to use as shelves instead of the shelves that came with the greenhouse.  If that doesn’t work, find his circular saw, plug it in, and rev it up.  That should bring him running.

Oh, look.  Another leaky hose.  Awesome.

Note to self: Next time I’m at Lowe’s I should buy several hose mender kits.  And post some negative reviews on the Rescue Tape website.  “Self-fusing”, my as*.

By this time I felt the outside chores were in danger of undermining my faltering sense of achievement.   Plus, the washer was probably done with it’s nonsensical countdown of unknown units.  So I went back inside.

I sat down at the sewing machine, listened to my new Pistol Annies CD, and finally hemmed the 6 pairs of work pants that had been sitting on top of my dresser.

Hem pants.

After I put away all my sewing equipment, I carried my newly hemmed pants up to my closet.  As well as a load of fresh sheets and blankets to be put back on the upstairs beds.  While I was wrestling fitted sheets onto Middle’s bed, I glimpsed at the aquarium.

Note to self: Aquarium needs some more water.

So I went back downstairs to get a gallon of filtered water out of the pantry and set it next to the woodstove to warm up.  While I was in the pantry, the light bulb went out.

Note to self: Replace light bulb in pantry.

Of course, we were out of light bulbs.  I sank down into a chair in the den to decide if I had time to run to the store for $.22 brownies, hose menders, nitrogen fertilizer, and light bulbs before the kids got home from school. While sitting in the chair I noticed something else:

Note to self: Sew the magical rips in arms of the chair slipcover. “Magical” because they simply appeared one day and no child has ever been able to explain how.

I closed my eyes, laid my head back on the chair, and pondered if I had a piece of scrap paper and pen upstairs or if I would have to walk all the way back downstairs to get some in order to convert my Notes to self: into an actual To Do list.  You know, a list for another day when I needed a few small projects to work on.  Some easy, inconsequential chores to give me a quick lift.  Sense of accomplishment.  Completion.  Neverending frustration.

The front door banged open, backpacks hit the floor, and Middle peered around the staircase.  He spied me in the chair and shook his head, disgusted.

“What do you do all day?”

I almost told him that I set out to complete a few simple chores in search of a brief sense of fulfillment.

I considered telling him that I ran in circles chasing my tail all day.

But then I thought of a better answer.  I opened one eye and squinted at him.

“Well, I can tell you one thing I didn’t do,” I said.  “I didn’t do your overflowing laundry.”

Commence with tyrannical screaming.

Which didn’t leave anyone feeling completed.

Thank goodness for Magenta.

Sometime between the 5th load of laundry and when the light bulb in the pantry burned out, she gave birth to 3 healthy goat kids.  All by herself.  Without any help. Without any mishaps.  She just pushed out 2 sturdy doelings and a teeny buckling, and then cleaned up all the mess.

Which, I bet, gave her quite a feeling of accomplishment.  And knocked a couple things off my new To Do list.  And gave everybody that warm fuzzy feeling that the first goat babies of the season always do.  God Bless You, Magenta.


12 Responses to “Loose Ends.”

  1. Andrew
    January 23rd, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

    You’ve just added two new words to my vocabulary, doeling and buckling. I’ll take your word for it that they are, indeed, real words.

    …and can Grace come over for a visit to see the little kids?

  2. Gary D
    January 23rd, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

    My god, I have to quit reading your blog.
    I almost wet myself laughing. Not at you or your situations, but because they are all too familiar. The self-fusing Rescue Tape did seem to do a pretty good job though. I notice that the leaks seemed to be coming from under the tape, and not through it. So I guess it fused to itself as promised.

  3. Sherry Herry
    January 24th, 2012 @ 5:45 am

    I love reading your blog. They are so funny and do remind me that I’m not the only one who goes through these kind of things. I have the never ending to do list. It’s better than the alturnative [sp?] being dead and not having a to do list.

  4. Terry
    January 24th, 2012 @ 6:00 am

    Well, now I am bummed that I have 4 loads of laundry to do, my machine says the first will be done in 3 minutes (hah!) but I don’t have goat kids in the barn. Note to self – make life easier – get pregnant doe.

  5. Lynda
    January 24th, 2012 @ 6:46 am

    Thank you! Now I will go out and get my chores done… with a smile on my face! ~ Lynda

  6. Kelsie
    January 24th, 2012 @ 11:23 am

    awww @ new goats…goat love makes the world a much better place…especially with leaking hoses (fixed one here this morning too so I could water the chickens) and mountains of laundry.

    I need to write out a todo list and then spend one whole week working on it.

    Blessings Kelsie

  7. Annabelle
    January 24th, 2012 @ 11:57 am

    so familiar! I love magenta! triplets with no help! I sure hope my kidding season is the same!

  8. Erin C
    January 24th, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    Absolutely love reading your blog! Congratulations on your accomplishments!

  9. Lisa D
    January 24th, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    If you give a moose a muffin….. I have accepted the fact that my list will never be completed unless my family leaves town for a week – maybe more. Maybe goats would be easier…. That’s why I am spending time reading your blog with a glass of wine instead of checking off my list!

  10. Jane T
    January 26th, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    I will hope for a video of the kids playing! Love your blog! I read it before I got up this morning and then went out and fed chickens, put up a trellis, washed my car,ate breakfast, and am starting my day with a smile on my face thinking about you and all those goats that arrived so joyously when you weren’t looking! Thank you for keeping us smiling!

  11. Kim
    January 30th, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    Aw, those kiddies are so cute! I have a never ending to do list as well – I think us girls all have the same handbook cos dear Other Half says: What is there to do? AAARRRGGGGHHHH!

  12. Tipper
    February 9th, 2012 @ 11:45 am

    Cute post-you made me laugh all the way through it : ) I like lists-and I love marking things off of them too!

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