Sunday, November 23, 2014

Looking for Gift Ideas?

It's that time of year in which people are desperately trying to find gifts for people again... thought I'd help my (five remaining) readers out and plug a friend at the same time!

Horse Creek Soap is a company created, run, and entirely staffed by a gal I know here locally. She raises milk goats, then makes soaps and lotions out of their milk.

The website is a bit scanty (I'll have to bug her about updating it the next time I see her, she's got probably a dozen more types of soap plus the lotions she's recently put out) but a few of the really good ones are there. I personally love the Berry Vanilla scent, it makes my shower smell like a juicy pastry. For those of you who aren't into smelling like food there are less flavorful scents, or an un-scented, un-colored soap called Just Soap.

Of the ones not listed, Farmmom is in love with the Avocado Sea Clay soap, and I adore Face The Day, which is an awesome refreshing facial soap. She also has a ton of seasonal scents available right now, which I can't remember all of, but I'm sure she'll be happy to send you a list if you ask. (Again, I'll be poking at her about updating the site, as well.)

Some of you might be thinking that five bucks is a lot for a bar of soap... don't worry, I did too at first. But, not only is it that much better for your skin than commercial soaps (And I really do think that it is...) but it also lasts longer. I have a shower full of her soaps because I like the way they smell, and after a couple of weeks I realized that while the half-finished bar of Dove that I had stopped using was slowly melting into oblivion without being touched, the goat milk soaps weren't even noticeably shrinking other than when I actually used them.

If you're still hesitant, ask her about her sample deals. I know when she visits craft shows she offers the sample bars (which are about the size of those ridiculous "guest soaps" but last longer by at least an order of magnitude) for $.50 a pop, or five for a dollar. She's started doing that since she last updated the store so I'm not certain if it would make sense when shipping, but I'm reasonably certain she'd be willing to cut you a deal for several samples, which would make great stocking stuffers. I will note here that she does work a full time job that involves 12 hour shifts, if you're going to call her I recommend you do it Wednesday through Friday to have the best chance of being able to visit with her about her stuff.

Long and short of it, any of her stuff would make wonderful stocking stuffers or build a gift basket for your favorite bath goddess... they'll thank you for it, I promise.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ah, So

At my workplace (which, if you'll recall I don't talk about much... because I enjoy my job for the most part and would prefer to keep it) we've had some issues with turnover and available hours this year. As in, I didn't have enough available hours, thanks to being part time and hemmed in by the restrictive definition of "part time" by Obama Care.

(Small digression... the Affordable Care Act? Screwed me. Before the redefinition of part time I could have worked 36 hours and been able to afford to pay my own damn healthcare costs, like I had. Sure I made choices about going to the doctor based on what I could afford but ACA didn't help me afford the visits I would have chosen not to make, it just made it impossible for me to afford ANY healthcare instead. I sure as hell couldn't afford insurance.)

Anyway. There have been struggles to cover absolutely essential duties and keep me on the right side of that 28 hour part time line, since I was the most available, or only, part timer on hand. I smarted off around budget time that they should ask for a full time floater position, that way we could maybe avoid ulcers for the head scheduler and the Office Dragon. (I love our Office Dragon. She herds cats every week and manages to make things work somehow on limited budgets and with people in the office who take that fact for granted a LOT. Office Dragon is not a put down, in her case... it's an acknowledgement of the fact that I never, EVER want to make her mad at me.)

Well apparently they decided it was a good idea and made the proposal in the budget for next year. Everyone hoped, but no one was holding their breath. Then the people in charge of the budget realized that, lacking sufficient part time hours available to cover it, they were going to have to pay out a lot of vacation and comp days this year. And a full timer with the attendant benefit package was actually cheaper.

I of course didn't hear about any of this, I just showed up when I got the "We know you must hate us by now but could you possibly cover...?" calls and went on, fairly secure in the knowledge that I was going to continue as I was for the foreseeable future.

Then I went in to work the other night, on one of the oh god oh god can you cover shifts, and got pranked with the news that not only was the full time floater position approved, but that they were offering it to me (not necessarily a given,) and that it was approved to start as of December 1. They made it out as bad news and started telling me that it wasn't anything personal, but the part time budget got cut, and we really love you but we have to follow the budget... my internal panic did kick in a bit, and my mind was racing to try and figure out how I was going to make it work with less hours. Then the one pranking me got a big grin and offered me the full time position. Apparently there was a far more elaborate plan but other events made it impossible. Probably good, I might have had to kick the one who was going to prank me with it.

So, I'll continue doing what I have been doing, only more so, and be able to work forty hours instead of 28. I've been promised that I'll be worked like a rented mule (my response was "like you don't already?") and also that great effort will be made to keep from bouncing me back and forth from days to nights and back too often. I can handle it on the part time schedule because I generally have most of a week in which to recover after I've been flip flopped three times in a week... not so much on a full time schedule. It's a bit of a mystery at the moment how exactly it's going to fall out. Basically I'll cover all of the day off requests that come in, unless it will bounce me off of the sleep dep wall too hard. Filling in around that will be new duties and using my butt to keep chairs warm so that the butt that would otherwise be there can work on other things, uninterrupted.

So, starting next month I become the rented mule of the office, which I'm ok with, and I get full time, which I'm ecstatic about. Benefits will kick in, and it'll be nice to have insurance, but I doubt I'll use it any more often than I did before.

It is nice, though, to work in a job where you can honestly say you want to spend more time there with the people you work with. It's also nice to work in a job where they care enough to want to pull a prank on you with the good news. (The big boss decreed the pranking. The functional boss planned it. The subordinate boss ended up carrying it out. Yeah, I have a lot of bosses... but they all actually work together so it works way more smoothly than you would expect... and all of them defer to the Office Dragon when she decrees something.)

Not sure what it's going to mean for the blog, honestly. It's more time at a job that I can't blog about, even when it's funny. But, there is the possibility that it'll be a slightly more settled schedule for me which would open up more opportunities to be doing other things that might be blogworthy. I'm not counting on it because I know how it can be, but if anyone can pull off some kind of order out of the chaos it'll be the gal that does the scheduling.

Blogorado 2014

(All lateness on this post is my fault... Farmmom asked me to look over it, add links, and post it and I completely spaced it. Apologies all around!)

Well Blogorado is over for another year.  All the folks are home and clean-up is done.
Once again our tribe came together for conversations, laughs, food and shooty goodness.  Thank you all for coming and making our Columbus Day Weekend so memorable.
It has been an incredibly busy year for us and more so the last couple months and I wanted to thank all the attendees for the kindness and consideration on things not done!
Planning and prep work were out the window but I think things worked out pretty well anyway.
A HUGE thanks goes to aepilotjim and pediem for donating the beef for the weekend!  That was just incredible! (And we went through almost the whole half beef) This crew is a cooks dream.... you all know how to compliment the cook!
Thanks to Old NFO for herding cats, I really don't know how you do it.  I think without you the breakfast would last until dinnertime.
Thank you to Desi, Holly, Beth, and Christina for being my kitchen bitches, Sci-fi for cleaning the shop up and to all the guys who helped with firewood, trash, ect. ect. I love having minions!!!!
Thank you Hal for bringing all the full auto toys to play with, everyone had a ball with them.

I know I'm missing so many folks that helped in a variety of ways but the brain hasn't caught up with me yet.  Next year I am going to make sure I have a day or two off work AFTER Blogorado just to catch my breath.

Love you all,
Farmmom, Farmdad, and Farmgirl

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chicken Scratch

I know I've been noticeably absent lately, and I can't promise it won't happen again. Frankly, most of what I consider entertaining/interesting is happening at my job lately, which makes it hard to come up with something to post about.

So since someone (Cough OldNFO Cough) chewed on me about posting, I'll post the only other remotely interesting thing that's been happening, and what I'm most focused on this particular week: Chickens.

See, after going to the auction to pick up some more chickens for the farm, and them being higher priced than I wanted to pay for what was available, I made the decision that I would just raise more chickens myself. Maybe order in some fun ones from a hatchery. So, I started planning to incubate some of the eggs from the barnyard mix we already had, and went to pick up some accessories, only to see that the farm store had their fall chicks in that week, so I bought a bunch, brought 'em home, hurried to finish fixing the old wood granary that we were going to use for a chick house (which precipitated some drama that I may or may not write about at a later date... for now suffice to say that it's the most expensive "what we have on hand, don't spend money" repair project I've ever been responsible for starting...) and continued on my merry way.

Now, when I was picking out chicks in the pullet tank at the farm store, I was trying to bear in mind what had sold well at the auction, so we wound up with a bunch of little red chicks that turned into little red hens (and one cockerel.) Farmmom and I also picked out four or five that looked interesting, that we wanted to see what they would grow into. Bear in mind, the plans for these chicks from the start were three-tiered: First, build up our own flock with the ones we liked. Second, sell whatever we could of the rest of them. Third, eat whatever didn't sell.  So, we figured if the interesting looking chicks turned into interesting looking hens, they'd be sticking around, so we only got a few of those.

Here, have a break from the wall of text, and a picture of baby chickens:
As chicks do, they grew, and I threw a baker's dozen plus one of the eggs from our hens in the incubator and set about eagerly waiting and chewing fingernails to see what we'd get. Meanwhile, the bought chicks grew:


 Finally it was hatch day, and thirteen of the fourteen eggs I'd incubated hatched beautifully. Well ok, twelve of them hatched beautifully, and one had a little trouble. This one, to be exact:


A few interesting things about that picture... First of all, that little black chick in my hand is a lucky bugger. She wasn't positioned right in the egg, so she pipped (poked her beak out) through the membrane that is full of veins and does the oxygen exchange for the chick while it's in the shell, so she lost some blood, and wasn't in the right position to really get worked around to "unzip" her shell. She needed a little help and TLC. So, she and a couple of her siblings, one with some feather issues and one just because I ran out of room in the transport boxes, stayed inside in the super controlled environment brooder whilst the rest of them went to the chick house.

As you can see there she was a little behind her pair of siblings growth wise. She's pretty well made it up now, a little over a month later. Oh, the other interesting thing about those pictures... you can see in the shadow of my hand in the first one the little yellow chick with the black spot on it's butt. We got one more yellow chick out of the hatch too, the other one in the second picture. Now, at that time we had one white hen who laid white eggs. The rest were light red with white markings hens who laid brown eggs. So the only eggs we could positively identify as coming from a specific hen were the white ones. Our rooster is a Welsummer, which is a very colorful and attractive bird (but he's an asshole... it's ok though he whupped a boxer mix that we thought had killed Sonic, the white hen.... shut up she came named...) Anyway... one of those chicks came from the white hen, but it's not either of the ones you're thinking of. So she's our little oddball baby all over.
Speaking of odd I did mention earlier that we had grabbed some "interesting" looking chicks for the hell of it, but I gotta say I didn't expect what we got out of them.

The two pictures above show the gorgeous feather patterns on a couple of our oddballs. Yes, they looked very similar as chicks, but got very different ends of the color spectrum. They're the same breed, for sure, possibly different color variations. I have no idea what breed it is, in my little bit of Googling I haven't been able to find anything in an image search that really looks like them. But my favorite part about these guys isn't even the pretty feathers....


It's their faces! They're a couple months old, now, and I suspect they may go ahead and get "bearded" as they finish developing over the next few months. And one possible reason why I haven't found them Googling is because every time I Google image search for "bearded chickens" I go off on a wander through some really neat and or crazy looking chickens. For now we're hanging on to all of the "chicks" and keeping them separate from the grown flock, because we had some respiratory crud that's proving hard to get rid of come in with some hens mom picked up at the auction about a month ago. I really don't want to lose all of our grown hens, especially the first four we got. They came from a friend (that's how Sonic came named) and are friendly and easy to handle, good influences for the rest of the flock... but if it does happen, as it stands, I have a healthy flock ready to go in quarantine in the chick house. It'll take em a few more months to start laying, but we're not getting many eggs from the sick hens as it is, so we'll make do. I don't want to get rid of any until I know how many we're gonna need, and if all else fails they'll sell just as good in the spring as producing laying hens (better) as they would as pullets big enough to integrate into an existing flock now.
As to why I'm focused on chickens this week, well, a coworker of mine "accidentally" won an Ebay auction for some high-end fancy-dancy hatching eggs, and they're hatching. Shipped eggs are always more chancy than fresh, and to top it off these seem to have come from someone who thinks that you can never have too much calcium in your chicken feed for your laying hens. (Tip: You can. Out of three that have hatched so far two have needed assistance, and I may have to go extreme to get any others out of the shell alive.)
Hatching chicks is fun, assisting a hatch is nerve wracking.
Speaking of, I'd better go check the eggs again and see if any more of them have pipped...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wildlife Transport Volunteer

I are one now.

Went to a class the second of this month so that I could get approved for transporting wildlife from our area to rehab centers to the north of us.

FYI I had to put in the date because right now I'm not positive what week it is (I know that it is currently Saturday because I have to work Sunday...) due to swapping to night shifts at work for Wednesday and Thursday nights, then swapping back. I managed to sleep last night but my body is pretty much asking me what the hell I'm thinking, and I get to do it all over again next week. Though, I do have an extra day to swap back next week since I only have the one night shift.

Anywho, I went to the class where a nice lady basically explained things I already knew about wildlife and handling them.

Since the Wildlife Transport Volunteers sometimes get to be the first ones on scene when someone reports an animal in need of help, they get to be the one to catch said animal as well, so handling information is pretty vital to the whole thing.

So yeah, we got told all about how critters are sharp on all five corners and some advice for not getting bitten or scratched or otherwise mauled, and how wild animals can carry diseases and advice on how not to get them or spread them to your pets.

Anyway, me being the sucker that I am, I'm now on the call list for such things... and I'm the only one in the county, I think.

Even more fun than that is the fact that we discovered a crow's nest on one of the windmills. We discovered this when we went to turn the windmill on because that pasture was getting rented out. Five chicks, brand spanking new at that time, and it's all kinds of wound up in the mill and tied down with barbed wire.

So, we'll give em as much time as we can before we *have* to turn the mill on, and then I will go out and see if I can move the chicks to another area and get the parents to follow and continue feeding them. They're hatched, they get a chance, even if it means I have a pair of crows that hate me for the rest of their lives.

I have consulted our local wildlife guy, he's fine with me moving them, even if he is a little dubious about whether it will work or not. His main response was pretty much "good luck" though. I may call him to come stuporvise on the move, he's constantly trying to get pictures of the wildlife and such in our area and share with the locals... and with crows it does promise to be at least mildly entertaining in the process.

I'll see if I can at least get somebody to take some pictures when the time comes, to share the adventure with ya'll. If all else fails though, we're getting into orphaned kitten time of year, so we'll probably have some cuteness pictures before the summer is out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Awesomest Basement In The World

Or, at least according to Stingray it is, anyway. Well he's gotten skates and a chloroform bottle out of there already, so I can see why might feel that way.

I'm working on cleaning out the basement at the Old Homestead (again....) so that we can fit a bed in the bedroom down there so that I'll have a place to sleep in the imminent time when the shower works and the whole FarmFam retires to semi-hermitude.

We cleaned out a bunch of stuff last year but that still left all of the stuff we wanted to keep, which included plenty of "I see a few things in that box that I want to keep, set it aside to keep and we'll go through it later."

Later is here, friends, and it's kind of mad that we waited so long. There's stuff that I know we had a plan for, but I can't for the life of me remember what in the world it was.

There's also a bunch of just flat-out neat stuff. Like this find:

Yep, that's a war ration book, and yes, it's still got the ration stamps in it:

Yes, we'll be keeping that. Most likely it'll go in a display with other neat historical or just old things that we've found during the process of the renovation.

I figure I'll be able to tease Stingray about this one for a while:

And this little beauty is still in good shape, though a little dusty on the outside. I didn't take the time to plug it in so I don't know if it works or not, but if it does, I'm reasonably certain we've got some film floating around somewhere for it:

Alas, for all the progress I made today (and I did, I swear) there's still plenty of stuff to be gone through and re organized. So, there will undoubtedly be more treasure photos taken. I might even share.

Of course, if any of my friends want to come dig through the stuff and enjoy the neat things, they're more than welcome to. The cost is just that you have to help me go through all of it and re organize it, and move some furniture around. Anyone? Anyone?

Oh well, I like the sound of crickets anyway.....

Monday, April 7, 2014

Random Gripes

Maybe it's the fact that I'm working nights again and the body isn't entirely appreciating the swap, especially since we have had some nice daytime weather.

Or maybe I'm just seeing a bunch of stuff that makes me cranky lately. Who knows? I figured I'd share a couple of my random gripes with ya'll, though they share a very general common theme:

1. Cismale/female whatever gender whatsit.

Here's the thing: I don't give a flying monkey buttcrack whether you think of yourself as a man or a woman or if you prefer to think of your sexuality as "Flying monkey buttcrack." It's none of my damn business. That being said: It's none of my damn business. Stop jumping up and down on the rainbow colored trampoline and waving a big ole look at me flag and then complaining because people are offended by you shoving your personal business in their face. No, you shouldn't have to conform to what someone else thinks. No, you shouldn't be ostracized or victimized because of the way you view yourself. But I shouldn't be forced to know more about your personal preferences than I want to. And let's face facts, for the transvestites and transsexuals: If you look like a man trying really hard to look like a woman and failing, people are going to react to that. Same goes for the other way around. It's not something people outside of a few locales see every day. I wouldn't expect not to get looks if I went riding my horse in full western getup down Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive.

And before anyone can say "yeah but they wouldn't be looking at you with disgust" I'm gonna call bullshit on that one preemptively. Lots of segments of society look at me, my lifestyle, and my origins with disdain, and disgust. The difference is that I write them off as ignorant and move on. I probably wouldn't get physically assaulted for it, granted, and no it's not ok that anyone has to worry about that for their lifestyle choices. But there's also a certain amount of be smart involved. It's not ok that as a small female I have to worry about being grabbed in bars, or walking down dark alleys in certain locations. But, just because it's not ok and I don't like it doesn't mean the world conforms to my wishes and suddenly all of the violent people in the world who target small females just stop.

I try to be smart about where I go and what I do, I've taken steps to be able to defend myself, and I go on with life. It's not ok that I, or anyone, has to worry about being attacked. But it's also not ok to expect everyone else to take care of you. Fact is it's a big bad dangerous world and if someone tries to hurt you your best defense is not societal acceptance, it's yourself. Most of society accepts that I have a vagina and feel like I should have a vagina just fine. That doesn't mean that someone isn't going to try to hurt me because I'm female, or because I'm a smartass, or just because they think they can.

Yes, everyone has a right to be who they want to be (unless who they want to be is hurting others, in which case, that's not ok) and no I don't think it's right for people to judge the way Trans (I guess it's capitalized? I dunno...) folks live their lives, much less get physical about it. But the LBGTwhatever community doesn't get to vilify everyone who isn't either. I am not broken because I was born with a vagina and feel like I ought to have a vagina. I am not wrong because I don't intimately understand the emotional drive of someone who isn't that way. It works the other way around, too, but just because I don't get it on that instinctive understanding level doesn't mean that I'm their enemy.

Go live your life, be a good person, and good people will want to be around you and support you. That'll work way better than what I've been seeing a lot of: Attention whoring and then throwing the discrimination card when someone calls them on the attention whoring.

For all I write a blog and have "fans" I'm not all that fond of the spotlight. That's why I do this instead of stand up comedy or acting or other fame-grabbing things. That's why I write under a pseudonym. I know there are those who have met me in person, even at blog meets and such, who have noticed me cringing a little when someone "recognizes" me. I don't mind meeting people and interacting with them, but being "known" before I really talk to them? It makes me squirm. Yeah, I'm a wierdo, I've never denied it.

And I'm not a huge fan of those who deliberately do things solely for the attention it gets them, regardless of any other aspects of their lifestyle. So no, I don't give a crap if you're one of the umpty-eleven new gender definitions available on Facebook. I do give a crap if you shove it in my face in the name of "gaining acceptance."

Nobody gives a crap that my second toe is smaller than my big toe. If your gender and sexual identities are just part of who you are, then nobody not in your bedroom or otherwise needing to know should give a crap about them either. Screaming about it just makes you annoying and makes people less likely to listen to your actual message over all of the hysteria.


Ok, yes, there are definitely badge-heavy individuals in the law enforcement profession. Yes, there are bad things that they do. Yes they should have to face consequences for them.

But, and I see this entirely too much in the gunnie community considering how we all rail against a few bad apples giving us a bad rep: that doesn't mean that they're all awful. Or that, having done something awful themselves, every awful thing that could possibly happen to them is suddenly justified.

I'm really tired of seeing the "it's bad when it happens to me but not when I do it to them" crap. I saw an article linked on the bookface about a cop who had previously done something shitty being assaulted by three people and the headline was absolutely crowing about it.

This is not okay. I admit I have my own violent urges in certain circumstances. There are people that I would get immense satisfaction out of laying a beat-down on them at this very moment. But that doesn't make it okay. They've done things that I see as awful and deserving of consequences, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to create those consequences for them outside the bounds of the law.

And every time someone does that, especially with law enforcement, they erode away at the good cops' belief in humanity. By treating all law enforcement as the enemy (they're not) and by people attacking officers, they're creating the situation they're railing against. Because I'll guarantee you that every time an officer gets attacked or they have a hostile interaction with a member of the public, the LEOs I know become a little more guarded, a little less willing to trust the public. And I can't really blame them, they deserve to go home at night if they can. Thing is, they've volunteered to put themselves in the position of maybe not going home, so that the public can.

Personally, having known and had interactions with good and bad law enforcement, I operate on a very simple premise: The uniform gets respect first. They can definitely lose that respect based on their interactions with me, but they get a certain amount of respect just for showing up. It's the same thing I give to our men and women in the military.

Stop vilifying a profession that does still attract the truly good people who honestly want to help others because it also happens to attract people who get off on the power trip. Alternately, feel free to go through the training and put on a badge every day knowing that today you might just be the one that's not going home, so that Susie Homemaker and her kids can.

The general theme here? It's not black and white, not everyone in any group is evil, and I'm really tired of people acting like someone is better or worse than someone else based on some random douchebag or saint. Plus, doing so (in either direction) makes you look like a fanatic idiot.

If I could afford it I'd buy the whole world a nice new pair of big girl panties and tell 'em to pull 'em up and get on with life, but I can't. So instead I'll gripe on my own little corner of the internet.

Oh, and if you don't like anything I've said? Feel free to comment and tell me why, but if you can't have an actual conversation about it, I'm just going to make fun of you for acting like a fanatic.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Went to the farm yesterday and did some tree climbing to get cuttings. I was going to do some pruning as well, but the wind was a little higher than I would have liked for that, so I left it for another day.

Here in FarmFamVille, the trees are at that early spring stage where they're ready to jump on it the moment the nights warm up enough long enough to get some leaves out. It's as if all of the buds are at a starting gate, going "All right, it's coming. I can feel it, it's coming. Get ready! Get ready! Wait for it.... waiiiiit for iiiit...."

We're still getting cool enough at night often enough that the buds are holding out for a little better weather, outside.

Inside, on the cuttings, is a different story. Bring em in out of the weather (because there's nowhere outside that I can put them that they won't get windblown all to hell... facts of life here are just that if I want cuttings I'm going to have to get em started inside) and give em good water and the buds swell and green like crazy. 

I have some from last week, from the lone surviving mulberry at the farmhouse, that the buds look like they're gonna hatch little pod people soon. This is a good sign, I'm cautiously optimistic. Yesterday I hit the trees at the old ranch house, by the range pasture. There once was a whole enclosure of trees, though many of them have died over the years. Lack of care, lack of water, they were just old, really it's all of the above. I'm working on getting the surviving trees back into shape, but it's a slow process since I'm new to all of this and I'm just one person. I mostly worked on the trees near the Farmhouse last year, this year it's the ranch trees' turn.

No one lives there, and the house is in bad enough shape that no one is going to live there, but I still want to do what I can. For one, trees are rare enough on the plains that I want to do what I can to preserve the ones we have. For another, those mulberry trees make a decent additional food source for some of our wildlife, and since I'm pro wildlife, I'm all for that.

But a big chunk of it is just heritage. If I'm lucky I'll be able to trim these up and get em healthier, and they'll last several more years. But we've lost enough trees around the Farmhouse especially that it looks... bald. Since that's not how it is in my memory, I want to get some more trees back in, and mom wants fruiting trees. For a small investment in materials and a large investment of time I can hopefully get saplings started from cuttings. More time on my side but less money, and I'm enjoying the time I'm spending on it. 

Plus, if I'm extra-successful with the cuttings, not only do I get to start rebuilding the picture in my head of the Farmhouse some, but I can turn any extras to good use. Either as bonsai (come on, tiny fruiting tree? That's just cool...) or as trade goods/repayment to folks who have helped me out in this ongoing project. Like the wonderful mother of a friend who sent me a bunch of her leftover gallon size nursery pots from the stuff she's done in her garden over the years. And then donated currant bushes from her garden when she learned that I was trying to figure out how to get some for Farmmom.

I've also got several cuttings from what I like to call the Miracle Pear Tree. In certain areas, you hear lots of stories about how Great Grandpa Willy tossed a peach pit, or a pear seed, or a plum pit from his midmorning snack and bam! There grew a tree! 

It does happen here, though not as often. We've got a couple of those types of trees, one is far less surprising, being located right up against the side of the shop. Sheltered from the wind, watered with the runoff from the roof of whatever moisture we do get, it's pretty believable. The other.... is not in a place you would expect such a thing to happen. Not here, anyway.

It's out in the middle of an open patch over at the old ranch house. It's got some shelter from all the other trees, but it's not like the other one. This area has been opened up to the pasture and grazed off and on over the years, too. So this tree sort of survived against the odds, to start with. And then it produced fruit. Farmdad can remember one of his horses that loved the pears from that tree. He says that this gelding, who was built a lot like Monkey in the long and leggy pattern, would rear up to reach the fruit on the higher branches to snack on. It's still hanging in there, though I don't think it produced any fruit last year, not enough water. I've got cuttings from it from this spring as well, with fingers crossed that they do well.

Ok, enough babbling, have some pictures with (brief) explanations. 

That's one of the mulberry trees at the old ranch house. Don't throw things at me, I didn't have a fork with me to clear out the tumbleweeds. It'll get done, it just didn't yesterday.

The Miracle Pear. As you can see it sort of stands off by itself. Like I said, it's got some shelter, the three sides not pictured here have trees in a sort of three-sided box, but they're 50 yards away or more, and most of them are dead. 

This is sort of an illustration of one reason I find bonsai such a challenge. I haven't really gotten into styling yet, but I've been reading a lot on the subject, and most of the bonsai artists that I really like their work seem to say the same thing: Look at the trees in your area, and make your bonsai look like them. Well, sure, you want that natural look, but honestly around here most of the trees either look scraggly, or have the wind-blown lean to the north. Or both.

Which is not to say that we don't have trees that I think are beautiful This one at another location is one of them. Yeah it could definitely use some cleaning up, but I like the way it looks. Oh, and all of these are living trees, I promise. They just haven't started leafing out yet. They're all in that "wait for it" stage of spring.

And last, but certainly not least, the ever helpful Thomas Cat. I never would have expected him to get as big as he has from the teeny kitten that he was, and he's retained all of the snuggliness and love that he had as a kitten.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oh Hey, I'm Still Alive! Also, Have A Couple Book Reviews.

Not much blogworthy (and bloggable) has been happening here lately. Some frustrations, some good stuff, but none of it really pops out at me as something I really need to write about.

I will say that an event at work last week influenced me a bit on this post. I've been spending some time on the jail side of things down at the SO, and as you can imagine there are always those who don't like the fact that they're in jail. Can't really blame them there, though it does seem to be easier on everyone if all parties concerned can manage to be civil, if not pleasant. I haven't had any problems in that area myself, but I have had those situations where things are just a little bit strained. One gentleman had been something of a mystery to me, since he never really struck up a conversation or said much of anything to me at all, just stared at the TV and slept.

Until I saw him reading On A Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony. Now, I've read it and I liked it, but this tale isn't about that book so much as it's about the ability for books to forge a connection between people. Because of that book, I was able to make a small connection to someone who hadn't really had any way to connect to me before that. A stone faced yes or no answering man became a man who was capable of smiling. And he had something to smile about. It was, honestly, a very brief interaction, but it was important to me, and it reminded me of the impact the written word can have on us. And of the serious (and sad) decline in reading in our society.

So, I decided to do a couple of book reviews/promotions, to do my part to encourage literacy and connection. First up, in order of the beloved nature of the author:

The Grey Man

This is OldNFO's book, and if you read me and don't read him, you should fix that. I've always loved NFO's stories, and while usually I hear them over the phone or in person, I was delighted to get a fictional one in print. I've been privileged to read some of his writing before he got serious about this particular story, and despite some bumps in the road (once you get into a habit of writing in a certain style, it's really hard to break it even when you want to, I give him major kudos for the work he put in on this book) The Grey Man has finally arrived as a finished book.

I'm gonna confess right now that I haven't read the finished version yet. I did get to read earlier versions and provide my meager input, but I just haven't gotten to reading the finished one yet. Part of it is that things got a little hectic around here, and part of it is when I realized I could sit down and go through it again it was too late for me to be any help in the editing process, so I decided to set it aside for a while to come back at it with fresh reading-for-fun eyes instead of the same catch-all-the-typos eyes. I will be buying a paper copy, and probably a digital copy.

It's a wonderfully twisty tale with a little bit of everything: mystery, drama, humor, romance. I don't want to give away any spoilers so it's hard for me to talk about the book itself, but the story always had me coming back for more.

No matter what NFO might say about his alpha and beta readers being the ones to make the book any good, I maintain my stance that all we did was come along after and help polish it. Buy it, read it, review it yourself. I'm personally hoping that this is the beginning of a beautiful series. (And I will encourage and nag and poke and prod as necessary to make that happen.)

Next up is K.B. Spangler, and her two books Digital Divide and Maker Space.

Ms. Spangler (or Otter, which is name she started the comic under and how I still think of her) writes and draws the webcomic A Girl And Her Fed which I already adored. Almost from the start she realized that there were aspects of the story of this fantastic world she'd built that didn't quite fit into the comic, so she wrote a few short stories and sold them in her store. I haven't got them all, though I will eventually. What I do have are her two books that have spun off of the comic: Digital Divide and Maker Space (at the top of the comic page there's a link that says "Books!" and you should click it.)

Otter has some amazing fans, folks. Periodically someone will donate some money to her cause with the earmark of having it provide copies of the short stories or books to those who really want to read them but can't afford to buy them just now. She's run specials of her own for providing pdfs of her work to fans who are in a bad place financially, too.

Being in one of those hard financial spots myself, when I saw that someone had donated ten copies of Digital Divide two hours previous, I asked if there were any left. I was pretty sure the answer would be no, but miraculously I seem to have slipped in under the wire. Then I dove into the story and could barely come up for breath. When I finished it, I promptly went about (metaphorically) scouring couch cushions for loose change so that I could buy Maker Space.

If you're not familiar with the world, here's a quick overview: the back story occurs in the comic. A Girl And Her Fed is chock full of fantasy elements. The ghosts of dead Presidents, a genetically engineered smart ass evil thinking koala (god, I love Speedy) and a pair of protagonists that you can't help but root for. It's also chock full of social commentary, just heads up. The comic pretty well stands on a solid base of it though, and builds from that core premise, which makes the commentary far less of a metaphorical scream in your ear. I've plugged the comic here before, so I won't jabber on it any more than that.

The books expand the world that Otter built in the comic. She takes some of the side characters and builds their stories up, fills them out, and makes you adore them. The main protagonist of the book is Rachel Peng, who I was prepared to like from her brief appearances in the comic, but who swiftly became one of my favorite characters in that world once I got a chance to get inside her head a bit more.

The books are less fantasy focused than the comic. No ghosts, no Speedy, but you're still dealing with a world in which a few corrupt government officials have managed to come up with a chip that goes inside a human being's brain and connects them to every computer in the world, get it installed in a bunch of the best and brightest volunteers from across government service, and proceed to try to turn them into depressed, barely functional machines of human beings to control them.

The books tell the story of the Agents after they discover what was done to them and try to heal, and get on with doing the wonderful, awesome things they were told they'd be doing to serve their country when they volunteered. It's a tale of good trying, struggling, fighting to overcome the same kind of petty me-first evil that we see every day, on a grand scale.

You will find yourself rooting for the Agents, sometimes in spite of what they do, because they're wonderfully whole people, and they're functioning in basically the same kind of world that we are, where the right thing isn't always easy and we sometimes have to not do the right thing for one person because it would hurt a lot of others.

Highly recommended, both books. I gladly backed the Kickstarter that let Otter turn Maker Space into an audio book before I read either of them, and I'll gladly read anything else she puts out in the future.

Go forth, my minions, and read. Share a book with a friend, a family member, or a stranger. Make a connection, or just revel in the joy of a good story on a beautiful day. Or a nasty day, curled up with a hot drink and a warm blanket. Or a very late night when you didn't intend to stay up because you just have to know what happens next. Or... you get the picture.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Stuff and Things

Some interesting things have happened at work, but of course, I can't (or won't) talk about them here. Suffice to say that I feel like I'm getting along well at work and enjoying the company of my co-workers, while I have it. And that's not just the fact that I've spent most of my working time alone, thanks to being on the night shift.

Not much interesting has happened at home either, since I've been staying on night-shift sleeping schedule to try not to hate the entire world. Let me just say that four AM is a pretty lonely, empty time. I have gotten adjusted well enough that I'm getting a little more sunlight, and managed a walk the other day, so that helped. I'm deliberately not focusing on the fact that I got my walk because my car wouldn't start. I walked, I got fru-fru coffee from the new place in town, the weather was nice, it was good.

And I got a new battery for the car. That cost more than I wanted it to. But I don't have to worry about it not starting when I want to go home. So yay that.

Other than that it's just been occasional chuckles at the dogs, since FarmDog and Fuzzy Pup are convinced that I'm gone forever every time I go to work and were convinced for a while that I must have been sick since I was sleeping all day.

They weren't impressed the morning I came home smelling of one of our canine officers-in-training, either, but I was glad of the chance to officially meet the dog. You'd never think he was in bite training to meet him, since he's an eager-to-please attention hound, but I have no doubt that he's quite good at that part of his job, if only because he is so intense and eager-to-please. Maybe one of these days I'll get a chance to watch him work (in a practice situation, personally I'd be happy if he spent his entire career getting to be a floor-warmer.)

Otherwise, my life is really boring, because I'm asleep most of the day and finding ways not to lose my mind in the wee hours of the morning. Mostly ridiculously high drama long running tv shows and old favorite books. I went through all of Grey's Anatomy that's available on Netflix, if that tells you how deeply I'm dipping into the drama genre pool. So far it's been reasonably successful at keeping the drama on the screen instead of in my work, and I'm pretty ok with that.

Working nights makes me boring....

Friday, January 31, 2014

Yay Shift Work!

Got a new job that involves some swap around shift type stuff. Spent the last few days playing fun sleep schedule games.

B 12 is my friend.

Won't be talking much about the new job, since it's dispatching for the local Sheriff's Office and I can't talk about a good chunk of it, but if any entertaining bits that I can talk about come up I'll probably share.

Right now the funniest bit is that the deputy that responded to AD's great deer-killing accident at Blogorado 1 didn't realize until the fourth day of my training when he was told that that bunch of crazy people and the guy posing with the deer head was involved with me.

One of the other dispatchers got to remind him of it. She was the one who sent him on the call and remembered it when we were discussing the Elksplosion... because I showed her the pictures on the blog, she commented on the hat and cig, and I had to explain where that came from.

I think it's gonna be fun, based on the amount of laughter around the office during my training days.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Farewell, Freind

Tonight, the world lost a little of it's sunshine. A good friend of ours passed away after a long fight with liver failure.

I had known this man literally as long as I could remember. I went to school with his son, he was a friend of Farmdad's, and I can recall a lot of time spent hanging around looking for trouble to get into in his shop. He had a huge heart and a laugh so infectious the CDC really should have known about it. 

He never, ever gave up. I swear, he was a poster child for living life to the fullest, and for taking everything life could throw at you and tossing it back with a grin. If I know anything about laughing in the face of life, I learned at least a part of it from him.

Some of the Blogorado crew got to meet him, that first year. Those who didn't, missed out, I think. Though, I think anyone anywhere who didn't get the chance to know this man lost out, so take that for what it's worth. 

Rest easy, Jesse. I am proud to have known you, and I will never forget the lessons you taught me, intentional or not. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Retail Pot

Well it's been available for two days now and nothing horrible has happened.

Perusing a list of licensed retailers, I see that there are a couple about three hours from me, but I'm not going to be running out to buy my legal ounce. It's not part of my lifestyle, and that's where the doom sayers fail to recognize human nature.

See, for those of us who haven't been smoking pot recreationally, this change pretty much means... nothing. Just because it's legal doesn't increase the desire for it. And, anyone who is a pothead today was a pothead last week. Maybe some people will try it because it's legal, but I foresee far more tourist dollars from experimenters than in-state.

On top of which, the current retailers were already medical marijuana dispensaries, since the licensing regulations gave them a head start (like, no straight retail licenses effective until next year) and they'll be desperately trying to make as much money as they can before it becomes more widely available. Unfortunately the only real advantage they have over the illegal market is the availability of the alternate delivery methods... tinctures, candies, sodas, and other sundry consumables.

The reason I say that is because with a 40% tax they can't match "black market" prices. See again, anyone who is a pothead today was a pothead last week, they're not going to have a problem with buying it illegally, since they've become quite accustomed to breaking that particular law already.

Meanwhile, the press is painting this as an amazing experiment in legal pot, watched worldwide. Holland, however, is sitting back munching brownies and saying "I told you so, man. Want some recipes?"

Seriously, this is only an experiment in public opinion, since the availability of marijuana, in large part the usage, and for sure the methodology is not actually going to change for those toking up.

There aren't many retail stores available either, but never fear, Colorado residents. If you want to exercise your new found freedom to spark up a doobie, you don't have to drive for hours to acquire your legal ounce... You can grow it!

Six plants per person, says the state law, grown in an enclosed and locked space, with three of them being allowed to be flowering at any one time. Harvest must be kept in the locked enclosed space as well, but you can give your friends up to an ounce at a time, if they're also Colorado residents.

Out of staters are only allowed to have a quarter of an ounce at a time, and are reminded that many ski areas are located on federal lands, where pot is still illegal.

If you have a burning need to experience the mind altering joys of "puff puff pass" by all means come visit. Unfortunately since my county voted against allowing retailers, you won't be giving your tourist dollars to my area, but what the hell, rock the ganj anyway if you want.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year

If you're looking for some kind of uplifting, deep thinking, high hoping schmutz here, I ain't got it.

Other things I ain't got include resolutions, so you won't find that here either.

I've always been a sort of plan for the worst and hope for the best kind of person and I figure 2014 will continue to prove to me that that's probably the least stressful way to go about life without giving up on caring entirely.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being a Debbie Downer here... I just don't know what 2014 is going to bring yet. There are goals I want to accomplish and things I want to start doing more, and others I want to start doing less, but those decisions and the steps to start implementing them started months ago, for the most part, so making them resolutions doesn't make much sense.

What I do know about 2014 is that I'll take whatever it throws at me and come out still breathing, still kicking, and still able to find something (some days anything) to smile about. I'll keep loving those that I care about, and being the best person I can be. I'll cherish the friendships I have and the memories of those that I've lost over the years, just like before.

I'll be a shoulder for some friends, a vent for others, and they'll variously do the same for me.

And at the end of this year, as with the last, if I've been honest with myself and stuck by my own lights for what is right, I won't have anything to be ashamed of, and hopefully I'll have a few things to be proud of.

And that's really it. I hope for all of my readers a happy, healthy year, full of laughter instead of tears, but being a pragmatist, I advise you all to stock up on Kleenex anyway. It's not like it goes bad after all, and there's always flu season....