Friday, September 27, 2013

Is this really a job?

On Monday and Wednesday of this week, I spent nearly the whole day splitting wood. Check it.

Monday morning:

Monday evening:

Wednesday evening.

A few things to note:
1) Some of this is cherry, so it smells FANTASTIC
2) Yes, I do periodically stand in the woodshed admiring the growing pile
3) We have an electric splitter, so I'm probably not as badass as you're thinking, but it was still a ton of work with much wheelbarrowing involved.

Splitting this wood - all of which is from trees that fell on our land as the result of storms - provided me with a clear example of why we're doing what we're doing. I was confident when I quit my job of our choice to live this sort of life, but it could seem a bit odd to others. There are not a lot of 2013 examples or cultural norms of a woman having no job and no children (it's rather the antithesis of "having it all" by the common current definition). So, I was pleased to realize how directly all this wood splitting could be used to explain the choices we've made.

We (Bill and I...and Sugar Pie and the cats) have a need to keep our house warm during the winter. It's one of those basic requirements that even Thoreau, the king of simplicity, would call a "necessity of life." Previously, I would work at a job that paid me money that I would then exchange for heating fuel in order to meet this need. It was a very fossil-fuel intense process. A car transported me to work, where I sat at a computer for most of the day and earned a paycheck that allowed me to purchase propane gas to be blown throughout my house using a furnace fueled by coal-powered electricity.

An alternative way to provide the heat we need during a cold Indiana winter (and the method that was used when our house was built), is by burning local wood. Now, instead of spending my day earning money to buy propane to heat my house, I spent my time providing heating fuel in a more direct fashion - one that also makes much less use of fossil fuels (the chainsaw and log splitter, and even some of the person-energy rely on fossil fuels in some way, but I am confident it is far less than the previous method). So, even though Childless Woman who Earns No Money is not often considered a job or even a productive choice to make, I think of the work I do here as an employment of sorts - one that meets the needs of my household while making fewer demands on community resources and our environment. It is a weird, but totally viable way to spend a week day.

On a less philosophical note...Kaylee wants you to know that she is feeling better and cavorting around the field at will.

Clara wants you to know that she is still the cutest thing in the barnyard.

Bill and I went apple picking for our anniversary yesterday...

...and added this photo to our collection of arm-length snapshots.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

15 years...

September 26 (tomorrow) marks 15 years of JoBi. Over those 15 years we've taken many photos with the camera held at arm's length to capture a day or a background we wanted to remember. Sometimes, we even handed the camera off to someone else for an additional photo.

To celebrate our 15th (dating) anniversary, I made a little slide show of some of these photos. I expect this may only be of interest to our mothers, but if you'd like to see the video it is below. Bill calls it "The Documentation of Our Chins Getting Bigger."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Those other sorts of weeks

I suspect when most folks think about farming they envision physical labor under a beautiful blue sky in a heavenly pastoral field. There's the freedom of working for yourself and the joy of not being tied to an electronic device. It's a peaceful image.

This is true of most weeks on the farm. I love it.

There are other weeks though, that are a bit more stressful. We just got through one of them.

Kaylee, our goat with the funny know her:

She's the timid one. A bit smaller than Saffron, but a tough little goat. About three weeks ago she started limping and falling over for no reason. We probed her legs and thought she had pulled a muscle, so we locked her up for a few days of rest.

(Try keeping a 5 month old goat restful. Just try it.)

After a few days she wasn't getting better. In fact, she was getting worse. So we called the vet. By the time he was able to come to check her out, Kaylee wasn't even able to stand on her own. I was terrified she'd get dehydrated and was out in the barn every 20 minutes propping her up near the water bucket. She remained perky, was eating and pooping well, but she continued to lose function in her front right leg.

Our vet suspected she had a weird, rare parasite or virus that ended up in her nervous system. He wasn't sure if we could help her, but we threw the goat medicine kitchen sink at her - two shots a day along with an oral dewormer for 5 days.

She started to improve every day, and keeps reaching new milestones (today she got both legs up on the second rung of the barn gate for the first time in weeks). She's been running and head butting and can keep up with everyone now, though I still worry about a relapse. It seems like she is going to be ok and we're impressed with her tenacity. I have now formed a rather strong attachment to her, but she's recovered enough to remember that she doesn't really like being hugged and keeps evading my embraces, which both delights and saddens me.

During Kaylee's downward phase, when I was going to check on her at regular intervals, one of our ewes died suddenly. I have read about sudden sheep death, but found it totally shocking nonetheless. On one trip to the barn Donna was totally fine, scampering about and vexing me by trying to escape from the pen to chomp on mulberry leaves. 45 minutes later, without any warning, she had died. We're not sure of the cause yet. We took her to the Purdue diagnostics lab and should be getting a report soon.

Donna was nearly 6 years old, which is middle aged for a sheep. She was the crazy-looking, loud-mouthed one. Even though we only had her for 4 months, we liked her and are glad we got to know her.

(Donna on the left. Her lamb Clara is in the foreground.)

So, it was one of those weeks. It's hard to face the realization that we don't control everything, but figuring out how to deal with these emotions and move forward is part of our learning process.

We're learning.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Winter is Coming

This past week has been Winter is Coming week. Bill took a few days off and we've been stockpiling important things for the coming cold.

Hey! It's hay! We have a pile of hay that we (mostly Bill) scythed this year, but it's not enough for the entire winter, so we purchased some bales as well.

We've been stacking wood too. Last year we got a small electric splitter which is tied with our chicken plucker as one of my favorite purchases.

This is about an hour of splitting. Not nearly enough yet! Some of that wood is cherry, which means our shed smells amazing. 

Lastly, I've been doing a little quilting. Having my own craft room and working on project bags for my little Etsy shop has reacquainted me with my sewing machine (and fabric shops), so I'm hoping my quilting bug returns. I'm machine quilting a pepper quilt I started when we first moved to Indiana.

The archived process of making this quilt is on my very first (I think), rather old blog. Here's the best photo from the series:

We have lots more work to do before the snow (I hope!) flies, but we've gotten a good start.