Early Spring Fever

"We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars..."
~ a writing prompt by Jennifer  @ Procrastinating Writers (for more awesome writing prompts, be sure to check out the Write Everyday tool on Procrastinating Writers).

I know that no one wants to consider the tentative financial picture, so I’m not going to go there. I’m going to stay focused, as the saying above suggests- on the stars.
Sometimes it's necessary to look far ahead. Sometimes it's good to look UP.

I cannot account for WHY I seem to have caught an early Spring Fever this year. This week has been brutally frigid – but only 2” of snow (compacted) on the ground -it’s so cold you would think it was at a normal 2 feet!

The sky has been dazzling with it’s abundant winter stars. This week there was a crescent moon, and planets that shone like stars. Wow. I tried to take pictures, lol.

.... I’ve been busy but haven’t gotten a lot done that counts. In no exact order...things I did and things that happened this week –just in case I was getting bored, right?:

-I spent an inordinate amount of time sighing over a farm for sale:
“14 acre Organic Farm- with Apple Orchard for sale in El Guique, NM (45 minutes north of Santa Fe). Farm includes residence, two green houses, and 5,000 sf processing building. Farm was previously a Seeds of Change operation and was Certified Organic.”
You know you want it too.........lol

- discovered 2 blogs – not the typical 'foodie' type, but real home management kinds:
One: meal planning 101 (menu planning) and one, slow-cooker focused. (Both things I really need to get back on top of because I got lazy)
A Year of Crock Potting – Stephani O’Dea made a New Year's resolution to use her crockpot every day for a whole year. On the blog she documents and posted the recipes she made- and has not yet repeated a recipe. (I think that endeavor is incredible. )

-ordered seed catalogues and looked online at several organic seed and plant suppliers- keeping tabs on what from where and price list.

-decided on:
culinary herbs and some medicinal (many are dual purpose – they also attract butterflies)
some veggies and various berries (several that I’d like are hybrids so I will keep looking)
future trees: apricots, figs, apples, apricots, persimmon, cherries (waste of time right now)

-decided NOT to get bees this year. Waiting one more year will enable more propagated Russian sage plants to be established on our property (minor disappointment but finances are just stretched to the wire)

- placed 8 eggs under broody hen (7 of them were from the grocery store egg carton of “cage free” eggs.) I have not checked for fertility like I have the $4 a dozen “organic” eggs I will candle them in 1 week. If not viable then I’ll purchase a $3 chick to give her – whatever is left at the feed store (the black australorps are all gone and I don’t reeeeeally want a Rhode Island red...but oh well!)

-sent a birthday present to my friend (I wish I was her!)

-killed two mosquitoes in the house (yikes – it’s only February!)
-gathered natural pest control ideas/recipes
-read more in-depth and recent info on CME events (solar storms), the updated risk and vulnerabilities (um yeah, they've decided rather than 'hardening' our electrical grids against the real threat of CME damage that they will have time to 'shut them off' - long enough to temporarily avert catastrophe)

 -got particulars on creating raised beds (not building them but the soil, etc.)
-went grocery shopping THREE times -ugh still don’t have anything for this weekend!
-kept up to the minute on what is happening with Greece financials. Sometimes I feel things are so surreal. Like we live in “Orwellian times”. I simply can’t believe some of the things going on. Like Shakespeare is quoted as saying: Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
-read more about chicken care and chicks – and organic and alternative feed, and learned about coccidioses (a protozoan disease condition of unvaccinated chicks)

-wrote a story for my oldest grandson (going on 6), about a Knight and a Pirate - and a terrible “pirate dirty trick” -where the Knight teaches the Pirate a lesson in dirty tricks.
I named the pirate: Captain Barnacle Jones.
“I am ‘The Scourge of the Seven Seas, and Atlantis!’” he brags.
(My daughter wants to illustrate the story when it’s polished so we can gift it to him!  She’s in nursing school and really doesn’t have time to devote to art, but downtime is always spent on drawing projects.)

-wrote some more of "Mustang Diaries", my Western novel with female protagonist, dedicated to my Dad who watches westerns with me and shares his western books
-posted a book review on Amazon (Larry Brooks' "Story Engineering" - LOVE it!)
-watched reruns of "The Office"
-learned how to freeze eggs for longterm storage
-collected info on how to dye material using natural dyes like plants
-started serious work on the 2 window frame art projects (having to scrape and re-caulk the panes, and paint the frames as well as the canvas)
-bought spray paint “for plastic”, in a dark terra-cotta color for growing plants on the deck using a years’ worth of saved coffee containers and water bottles

-read updates from Heidi, the blogger in Greece who is determined to live well despite the recession going on there (she made olive bread this week among other things)
-watched the Republican debates and felt renewed despair for our future
-went over my spring cleaning chore list to decide on when to start that (um, today?)
-reset writing productivity goals that have been on hold (using avoidance measures- like writing things that don’t count like pirate stories...)
-griped about my mouse and keyboard off and on not working right
-realized my Mother's ring is missing (omg- that hurts!)
-started working out (gently)
-challenged my son to running daily together with our dogs (I’ll never keep up with him- my dog is little and 9, his dog is huge and 6 months old as well as he is not even ½ my age... but that’s not the point)
-tried to download pics of my 2008 cell phone but the software doesn’t exist to do it even though we bought a USB transfer cable (GRR!)
-took a few pictures of wildlife, clouds and colors in the sky, my dog, etc., (with my Nikon digital camera)
 He always as to know where I am and what I'm doing!
Tazz is really a golden starman... lol

-reading what ZeroHedge (events behind the scenes that make the world seem surreal), -and John Mauldin have to say (disturbing recent post -in that an eternal optimist like him now feels the need to buy gold as a security measure),
-and check in on the Chris Martensen blog (taken with a grain of salt – I’m really fighting the concept of ‘peak cheap oil’!) Nooooo!

- then everything stopped while I couldn't breathe for 2 days following a bombshell: I found out my Dad has cancer and didn’t tell us & he’s not getting treatment for it (because he’s caretaking for my Mom). I spoke with my brother about how to take care of our parents (that live out of state with a growing list of problems they are increasingly unable to handle). We are now at a crossroads moment...

-wished for summer... and dreamed of second chances

I wish I could condense all that down to something better focused, even focusing on 3 things would be better than being so scattered, but after the bombshell I even forgot to eat lunch the next day so I can tell I’m in a bit of a shock.

So, on setting the bar at cloud level... Since turning 50, I’ve considered starting on a diet I followed in my youth - a low-carb fresh & non-sweets diet regimen for a month.

I used to follow this religiously when I wasn’t cooking for a man from the Midwest... every spring with the start of warm weather. I always felt like it rejuvenated my metabolism, reduced water-weight and inflammation – like a spiritual restart and a body detox that is energizing. It was much easier to get moving/running.

I really, really, need the spiritual restart, as well as a metabolism wake-up call. 
I haven’t indulged in this dietary regimen for at least 15 years now so I’m a bit rusty... and how on earth will I feed the husband -and not cheat myself?

For one month no:
-red meat, wheat/yeast, alcohol, juice (V-8 is OK!), soda, deep-fried anything, and nothing that’s white: no bread, tortillas, pasta, potatoes, rice, sugar, milk (soymilk and almond milk ok if not sweetened), cheese (feta & other goat cheese is OK), no cream or creamer (therefore NO coffee), and no cheating with honey.
This is a killer now- because after the twins I learned to love coffee....with cream and honey! I think I NEEDS it!
I'll TRY to stick to iced tea.

Adding a multi-vitamin w/ iron is good.

It allows for some snacks: seeds and whole grains  (like toasted barley), soy beans, hummus, veggies, pickles, nuts, veggie chips, corn chips and salsas -but not Frito’s!
meals: beans (main ingredient), soup (clear broth), chicken and fish dishes (even fish tacos!), and veggie salads (clear dressings & nuts, fruit, eggs and seeds).
My favorite is Greek salad: large chunks of red tomatoes, kalamata olives and olive oil w/ black pepper. Options include adding red onion and feta cheese, and salt and maybe other herbs.
I think the most difficult to quit on this diet is the carbs!  (then sugars) Maybe because I'm mostly of Norwegian bloodlines I crave those pasta carbs to keep warm in the winter? Whatever it is, it's really hard...

Then after 1 month, gradually add back: yogurt & granola (homemade), fruit muffins (w/ butter, honey, applesauce), cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and ICE-CREAM and  and cold cereals, then breads like pita, and rice....

The first ‘real’ meal will be something similar. I like grilled beef, lamb or chicken (flattened or kabobs) in whole wheat pita bread with Tzaziki & tomato/kalamata w/ olive oil, or tomato/cucumber/red pepper dressed with lemon juice, oregano & pepper.
I TRY not to revert back to the carb-heavy eating habits too quickly...
SO this is the plan for March. 

Hopefully I’ll be too busy looking up to notice I’m suffering.

Developing a Farmgirl takes WAY More than adding Apron, Hat and Boots

From ‘The Three Layers of Story Engineering, Architecture, and Art’,  (posted by my favorite writing teacher and mentor, Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com):

Everything can be broken down.  Plant and animal.  Fact and fallacy.  Art and science.

Sliced, diced, eviscerated, deconstructed, analyzed, charted, graphed, melted, spectra-analyzed and debated.  Sometimes this yields precision, other times a vague generality.

Either way, from this process of breakdown comes illumination.  Visibility.  Clarity of purpose, design and effectiveness.”

Envisioning the entire picture & breaking it down into workable phases or steps, is very hard., but I think this is an important step in any goal/dream. I’ve spoken of this before but not so much on my personal ideal -what goals it takes to get to a place where I’m living a farmgirl life and feel and look the part. This is a new goal this year. It encompasses so many variables, so many levels.

It’s a good fit for the 12-Folders ...  In case you missed it, this is how the “12 Folders” system works:
A monthly  exercise – a process of goal development combining method and brainstorming and transferring steps to a monthly calendar,  to keep moving ahead with targeted purpose the entire year.
Each month has a specific focus. You choose the topics!

 These are my focus topics so it makes more sense (everyone’s will be different- it depends on what’s currently important and a priority in your life – and they are flexible!) :

1) January –WELLNESS: all Health improvement categories ( muscle conditioning and flexibility exercises, etc. Dietary: add to diet/ remove from diet/ foods and recipes to try, etc.)

   IN red, new focus which I will tweak (explained more fully below):
2) February – IMAGE & APPEARANCE – self care & improvement (hair/ style/ clothing & make-up/ colors/ etc.)   FARMGIRL: To gain the knowledge, the skills, and the courage needed to raise animals and food to eat, to make things from scratch, to improve life, home, property, and the prospect of the future, come what may. To look the part and walk the talk. (New focus below....)
3) March –WORK-Business: time management, business direction, customer relations improvements: streamlining office paperwork and general efficiency, incorporating policies and protocols, marketing tools and ideas (personal marketing is very effective)
***Adding: start garden seeds indoors!

4) April --HOMESTEADING: start a new practical self-sustenance  endeavor (canning, sewing, etc.)
5) May-- LEARNING: personal endeavors (not art), like horse training and riding
6) June –MARRIAGE/ RELATIONSHIPS: improvement tactics/problem resolutions, etc. (our anniversary month)
7) July –GETTING OUT: life enrichment and entertainment (expanding quality of life: picnics, camping out/ vacation time/ socializing/town events, etc.)
8) August-- FINANCIAL: deal with bills, budgeting, long-term goals, etc. (it's too hot to do a lot outside)
9) September-- HOME: management & improvement efforts, actual work on the house
10) October –NOTEBOOKS: revamp and reorganize master lists, tune-up household binders, etc. (getting prepared to cocoon for winter)
11) November --ARTS & CREATIVITY: try new techniques and projects, finish up gifts for giving in Dec.
12) December --GIFTING/SOCIAL: be involved, show appreciation and give back

For maintaining my home, I insert a cleaning routine into the 12 Folders – one room of the house,  one month to focus on that room, with tasks broken down for each week:
Week 1 – De-Clutter  (move things out)
Week 2 –Deep Clean  (wipe things down)
Week 3 –Re-Organize/Repair (best use of space, and fix things)
Week 4—Decorate/Re-Arrange (make aesthetically pleasing and in most useful arrangement)

1) Master Bath
NEW:  2) Farmgirl Office
3) Exercise Room
4) Guest Bedroom #1 & #2
5) Main Living Room
6) Master Bedroom (Anniversary month)
7) Storage &; Utility room/Storage shed & other out buildings
8) Back Yard & Hen House
9) Deck &a Porches/Vehicle
10) Kitchen Pantry
11) Closets, Stairs and Hallway/Entry & Front of the house
12) Office (home-based business)

Here’s what a folder looks like when I’m done (here) and (here). I fill it with maybe inspirational or how-to pictures and articles, chore lists or contact #’s for people who can help me accomplish the agenda, things to get/buy, supply lists, etc., etc., etc.)

NEW February focus– “Farmgirl”- To gain the knowledge, the skills, and the courage needed to raise animals and food to eat, to make things from scratch, to improve life, home, property, and the prospect of the future, come what may. To look the part and walk the talk.
The Focus on the one room for the month will NOW be: the “Farmgirl Office”

I’ll post comparative pictures of the Farmgirl Office - before and afters like this:

The 12 months method works for you however you want it to.
 It could be dedicated to ONE specific outcome- refined in scope.
It could all be all just “Farmgirl” related- one month (for a year) dedicated to one facet of that ideal. One month for each chore or skill, knowledge or change you desire to take on.
It’s as evolving, flexible, general, or specific, as you want to make it!

For instance:
-one month to focus on a workable wardrobe (and the ideal farmgirl image)
- one month focused on entrepreneurship/cottage industry (learning what they are, what’s applicable and do-able, what’s needed for the endeavors chosen, etc)
- one on gaining contacts and a network of likeminded friends
- one on homemade/crafting
- one on creating a space for the endeavors
- one on animal keeping
- one on raising and storing foods...
whatever you want to focus on for a year. Or each month dedicated to “Farming” or “Livestock” in general, so that your strategy is in step with your longterm farm/livestock management goals.

In this way you spend one year evaluating and starting things, gaining speed- whatever it is, wherever you are in the process. If focusing on the produce of or starting of crops/orchards or focusing on one type of animal on the farm each week/month(chickens, ducks,(poultry), a cow...), you decide what maintenance and improvements are desired, related to that specific animal or crop. From fencing to breeding, to adding homegrown feeds, to improving pasture, to improving the flock by hatching chicks... or just simply keeping track of saving $5. a week for fruit trees next year, what trees from where, etc...

IF that’s too convoluted to make sense, this would be broken down for instance. into weekly or monthly goals to hit all the aspects.
Lets say, raising meat animals and processing your own livestock:
-one week to find a processor or learn to butcher DIY (specifically the best month to do it, and how and costs/supplies needed)
-another to secure the help and supplies needed, and to determine meat storage and use/sales/recipes
-another  to determine household needs vs selling – how much/many lbs, or what kinds of meat (sausage, roasts, ground, or whole birds, etc – so you know how many animals to raise for your purposes), and setting up a system for records (costs/receipts, sales, # of eggs gathered vs what’s needed, getting legalities taken care of, etc.)
-another to actually doing it
However long- a month or a year, at the end you've accomplished the goal of self-sufficiency in raising and processing meat for your purposes (sales, freezer). 

So, what exactly IS a farmgirl? Many, many things...and open to interpretation!!

Some have found much to admire and wish to emulate from MaryJane Butters. Me too! But she is soooooo far along in their journeys it’s a little much to expect from myself in a year or even 5...lol.
Parts and pieces... that’s the trick! Take parts and pieces. Then finding ways to produce product from produce!

I like MaryJanes Farm style and work environment,  and the way she involves those around her in her lifestyle and it kind of spreads out organically among all the farmgirls. (I can do that on my own scale, through blog hops and my blog. That’s enough for me. )

*If you haven’t yet, check out the Farmgirl Forum – topics range from:
 “A Farm of My Own” to “Entrepreneurship” to “Farmgirl Fashion”!

It came to my attention earlier this week that the agrarian lifestyle of the industrious woman spoken of over 2000 years ago in Proverbs 31 was in fact, not just good stewardship, but entrepreneurial

"She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night."
(Prov. 31:18)
"She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes."
 "She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard."
(Prov. 31:16)

Wow. I’m certain she had servants to take care of the children and household duties... right?

(Thanks for the enlightened observation,  Mrs. Susie Shock!) Susie does some awesome things, and she’s got the cutest video trailer for making goatsmilk soap. She does a thing called “Making Money Mondays” in the entrepreneurial spirit. I really admire her spirit and farmgirl heart

So, what is my vision/ideal of a farmgirl that I would want and be able to emulate? My path leans in this productive, agrarian direction in order to make the best of a difficult situation. For me, it’s less about choice than necessity, but I’m dressing it up and pulling everything I can from others who have gone this path before me.

Here are some words I associate with the farmgirl lifestyle:

-busy, productive, industrious, creative, hardworking, sweaty, dirt under nails, ponytail hair. entrepreneurial, able, giving/generous, happy, energetic, fearless, courageous, studious, thoughtful, attuned to nature the weather, seamstress,  in good physical shape, a good cook, thrifty, dressed up, organized and dressed for the role.
And possibly cute (depending upon how they dress for the role). I KNOW I’m missing some attributes...you're welcome to fill me in!

Most farmgirls can probably dance too. I won’t add that to my list. (They say, “You can’t fix stupid”  - I say you can’t put rhythm into someone’s ‘groove bones’ either.)

What do farmgirls DO. They farm. They garden. They experience the outdoors. They smell hay in the barn and notice the dust motes floating in the sunrays that come through the barn siding. Maybe they go fishing. Maybe they go to church. They raise things: bunnies, horses, and goats and flowers.... some of them are raising kids too.

Photography— Farmgirls also like to take pictures of the things that delight, awe, and inspire them.
LOTS of farmgirls take photography to heart for the purpose of inspiring and teaching.  
Wonderful stuff to appreciate and consider tweaking to suit your own uses!

They display wonderful how-to posts with photos of each step – from recipes to how they do things, to virtual visits of their farm/homestead. They post videos of themselves extracting honey from the comb, making soap, growing edible sprouts, milking goats... sharing Henhouse cams and goat yard cams....
I wish I could remember who had posted “a year on the farm” video of her farms’ before and afters, what she built, and her farmy experiences (first chickens, first eggs, garden bounty, her prolific jars of canned harvest, a coldframe, chicken coop, etc.)

***I think everyone should plan to do a slide-show of their one year on the farm/as a farmgirl/homesteader... whatever it is you’re aiming for or dreaming of.***
Because when you know you’re going to be featured on film (or you life/farm/projects/garden, etc.) it creates a deadline with motivation!!
Don’t want to look a lazy fool with messy yard and unkempt hair... right? 

They also just post pictures to share what affected, excited, awed, challenged or surprised them – like the arrival of newborn animals, wildlife, the weather.

“Wordless Wednesday” has been going around for years in many circles – a picture is worth 1000 words, right?
I like the concept because it has a built-in deadline (Wednesdays) which is good, it’s easy, and is also wide open to what to photograph, therefore it keeps the subject fresh (anything goes).

Then there are TWO other kinds of very similar ongoing photo projects by Nancy @ A Rural Journal
“Your Sunday Best”  - it’s a HOP! Post your best photo of the week (hers are stunning!)  Plus she’s giving away a cute coffee mug, so enter your Sunday Best
 Here’s mine:

Sunrise/Sunset is another photo project documenting sunrises and sunsets from her Nebraska farm. There’s the latest, featured on the page- and a slideshow of all– and link to a flickr acct. to share your own photos too.   

I have too many photos of these myself. But that’s not the worst of it- I also constantly take pictures of sky all the time.
The color, the clouds, the light reflection in/on the clouds, sun rays, snow falling... I think it’s because I was in California for so long (in the middle of city sprawl), under smoggy skies with very few clouds, and a little rain in Nov, again in Feb, and again in July if we were lucky. Every day was almost identical to the one before. Here, the weather changes every day sometimes multiple times a day, so the sky can change every 10 minutes! And it’s a beautiful sky, full of hues and contrasts in each passing hour.

There's my latest 'best' sunset. 
One day this past summer I took a photo of the blue afternoon sky with a full white moon and a swirly cloud and captured a UFO in it. It would’ve been much more creepy but the UFO looks like a flying car out of the cartoon “The Jetson’s” - with a bubble top. I never would’ve seen it with my eyes alone- the camera was on zoom when I took the photo. Once uploaded to the PC I then saw a spot on the photo and thought it was something on the lense (dirt) or on the monitor. Zooming in exposed it for what it was, but it was of course, pixilated so a bit out of focus! As all UFO photos are! LOL
*I’m not going to post that photo since the idea disturbs so many people – and it takes away from the purpose of this blog. Unless everyone begs.

Sewing---this is definitely one area a farmgirl could expand on in unlimited ways!

I haven’t found yet someone who’s sewing their own wardrobe in a way that I can or would emulate, but sewing is high on my list of attributes of a farmgirl.

A great start would be kitchen items like crafting aprons and egg-gathering aprons... or matching mom-daughter aprons and then really cute aprons for the grandkids (even the boys), or even BBQ-ing aprons. 
Hot pads / pot holders (made of triangular quilting scraps – that look like colorful pieces of PIE)! Love, love, love those... 
And other really innovative crafts using scraps  like little stuffed animals (simple birds) or mittens made from thrift-store sweaters, etc. (Somewhere on my blog there are pictures...) 
And then remember the cutest handsewn, homemade underwear –like boyshorts but more feminine - see “BLOOMERS”. 

Then add knitting (after raising sheep for wool, cording, spinning, dying the wool, working a loom, etc.), embroidery, and quilting...I beg to stop, that’s more than a full plate right there!

Made-from-scratch cooking, food storage, canning/preserving, designing and keeping a pantry, and gardening... all those could be improved on for most everybody.

Looking the part..... hmmm. I don’t know much about this other than hat and boots are mandatory if you’re out in the muck, mud, and sun. Might as well make them cute! Have you ever seen the pretty Bog muck boots featured on some fashionista farmgirl blogs ($60. to $160)?
OR these unaffordable adorables?

Yep, that’s what I’m talking about. Maybe not good for barnyard chores though.
What about the more practical yet affordable and totally do-able prettied up black boots from “Aunt Ruthie” at SugarPie Farmhouse?
(I never considered myself a ‘shoe’ girl, but when I start looking at boots like these... well it’s all over! Gahhhhhh!)

I think that Tiffany, “the fancy farmgirl” is the cutest farmgirl ever. But I can’t pull that complete femininity off. For one thing, I get too dirty! I just BET she can dance though!

Sometimes I imagine myself ironing to music. I never iron, but it’s a nice image. Hey, I look like Tiffany in that daydream! LOL

Now, I don’t want to mislead anyone about my particular idea in developing a ‘farmgirl’ mentality. This is serious business to me. I don’t think the term “farmgirl” is sufficient to describe what I’m about – it may be something closer to homesteading/homesteader”. 

But that is really not cute at all. It cannot be romanticized like farmgirl can. And farmgirl is a definition that lightens things up a bit- and I NEED that these days. I need the energy and motivation that “homestead lite” just doesn’t provide.

I think it’s important to go beyond raising chickens in the backyard. Nothing wrong with that- it’s just not adequate security if you go on to be dependent on a feed store! You’ve got to have options, workable, practical, options. To go beyond stocking the pantry and cooking from scratch. These are great places to start though. 
And speaking for myself, making yourself feel good about the process is important in order not to reach burnout, or lose the whimsy that can go along with decorating your world as you go.
Why can’t a survival garden be surrounded by flowers? 

The people, places, and things that add up to the ingredients of what makes a farmgirl – and there are at least 1000 others out there - to learn how from, glean ideas from, be inspired by, and to ask questions of.
 It’s a journey we can take together by sharing!

Here’s a good method I use to create goals:
To develop your plan, list the following:
*What outcome do you want?
*Your priorities in daily life 
*Any obstacles to overcome (and perhaps how you plan to)
*Major, realistic steps - A project is easier when it is built in stages;
*Detailed steps (like an outline you learned in school for English papers)
*How much time each step will take 1 hour? 2 hours a day for 6 weeks?
*A schedule helps you keep a progress chart and reinforce that there are way-stations on your path. (If 2 hrs a day for 6 weeks you can check off each 2 hours/day.) What time of day, week, etc. you dedicate yourself to work. 
*Rewards you will have at each station (each achievement in the process) and also what you will deny yourself until you arrive at each station (what progress reward you would like).
*Time for review  - what has changed, what isn’t working...Monitor your progress (If progress isn’t as far along, then perhaps change to 3 hours a day for the remaining time).

+ an INTERACTIVE to determine how you spend a "typical" 24-hour day. As you enter the hours or parts of hours for each activity, the total is 24 hours. Know how you spend your time, so you can best manage it! On the left bar are some other helpful pages, on:
Time Management
Avoiding Procrastination
Motivating Yourself
Self Discipline
Prioritizing Tasks
My to-do List
Problem Solving

Please come back and share you goal lists and the steps you define to getting there!
We’ll learn from each other, and help motivate each other too.

Next step on the list (after finishing the new Farmgirl folder)- is the office before & after pics...
I would LOVE to see your space!

PS - I candled the 7 eggs (at 10 days under the hen) and none of them appear to be developing! I left the one green underneath the hen - there was an airsack - it's a bit hard to discern things through a green mottled egg, but it didn't look at all promising, as the yolk seemed to be floating at the top. Luckily, it's still early in the season!

Why We NEED More Chickens

I’ve been busy doing vegetable research. Looking at the new things like ORANGE cauliflower or Tiger melons. Interesting stuff. (I’ve tasted purple carrots and they were bitter, so I’m not really too excited about the new stuff).

My main excitement is over BEANS. There are more than 42 different types of dry soup ‘shelling’ beans! That's not all of them, but that's all I've looked at so far.

So much diversity and possibility.
There are a few that are colored like little pinto ponies: black and white, purple and white (more like an appaloosa), brown and yellow, caramel and white...and more. All of those are my favorites!

The calypso / yin yang / orca bean is almost round, and very cute like a round-tummied pinto pony!

The trout / Jacob's cattle / forellen  bean – a magenta and white, so pretty and none with the same pattern. You could string a necklace of them... There are quite a few beans like that!

Depending upon where they are used, they gain different names- one might be called:
“pigeon pea, goongoo pea, gunga pea/ gungo pea, congo pea/ congo bean, no-eyed pea or gandules”.
I’m just guessing, but that sounds Latino-ish, and romantic ... gahn-DU-laze ...hmm.

They have ‘cool names’ too- there is the: “rattlesnake”, “tongues of fire”, “yellow Indian woman”,  “Christmas lima”, “European soldier”, or “eye of the goat” bean.

You’ve no doubt heard  of the Mortgage Lifter tomato or the Mortgage Lifter hog? There’s also a Mortgage Lifter bean. It’s a large white one. 
I suppose they saved someone at some time...there’d be a story behind that. You have to wonder where they got their names. 
But mainly, I LOVE foods with names that conjure up a vision of something else!
I used to name our dishes – I don’t remember many of them, but I do still have the recipes (somewhere). You know what I’m talking about, like “Millionaire Pie / Millionaire spaghetti”.

Or something that evokes mystery and tantalizes, just by it’s name: “Chocolate Mayan Jungle Chicken” or “Chicken of the Gods”. How about “Better-Than-Sex” cake? Now we’re talking - right?! LOL

Mostly the research is boring, collecting price and seed source information, some growing tips, and some photos. (So that when it comes time, I might have better luck convincing HB that we NEED at least a dozen different types of dry soup beans...)

Trying not to get too stuck on beans. There are lots of things to consider. First, you can’t just grow a bunch of different types of beans all close together!

When the twins were 3 I planted about ¼ acre of beans (and corn and tomatoes). I grew a package of 7-bean soup mix! REALLY! I just decided that was a bunch of seeds in one place and nabbed them. 
You know, I used to shop once every 2 weeks just because it was so hard, awfully hard, to shop with 4 arms sticking out of the cart every direction-and you’re pushing 2 carts, one for just the kids. You grab and go as quickly as you can, and you don’t make extra trips to a special garden section.

Anyway, I watered a LOT is all I remember of that. It took sooo long- but I got a great tan! (Sadly the last year I had a great tan). The little ones scampered about getting into the tomatoes, the apricot tree, the angora rabbits and the fuzzy lion ants. Lots of fun.

Then at the end of summer, I had a million beans!

And after I gathered them- some were completely different than anything I’d ever seen before! There were more types of beans that I’d planted, that’s for sure I didn’t know what to do with them. There was no internet, and a prolific harvest of mystery beans, and I was overwhelmed.  I think I gave up after shelling and jarring up a few quarts of them. I’m sure I just tossed them! I had not only beans but corn and tomatoes and apricots to dehydrate. On top of doing laundry by hand with toddler twins. Ah yes, those were the days!

I would kill to have the energy that I had then...

But here we are. Now without all that energy but with just as great a need.

I’ve done too much reading about things with scary titles to connect the dots on what’s REALLY going on: learning all about the latest Congressional Budget report, the latest testimony of Bernanke (of the Fed), on Greece/Portugal/Brussels – the BRICS and the PIIGS nations et al, the meanings of a dozen acronyms (the latest on shadow rehypothecation, and shadow housing, and peak cheap oil (as opposed to peak oil), about which war ships are making their way to the Straits of Hormuz and the half-dozen theories aroudn that, the growing threats of EMP’s and CME’s, and rising inflation, and all the records being broken in the financial sectors as well as the weather (globally again)...I even read a book by a well-credited economy analyst-  well you get the gist of what I mean – watching the world slide into the abyss... or facing several unknown crisis’ at a time. 
This comes from the same people that couldn't predict the 2008 financial crisis, even while it stared at them from point-blank range.

Oh yeah- guess I should explain:
BRICS nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China and So. Africa
PIIGS nations: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain
 (I believe they are not keen on that acronym, but it is kind of a funny pun! If were weren’t in somewhat of the same boat, I’d say it was fitting! But I am not that arrogant!)

The facts are that the Eurocrisis has been front and center for too long, (during which time the economic and financial fundamentals have continued to deteriorate thanks to leaders who apparently DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO). The recent trend of policy ‘globalization’ is still going strong –and I find that a bit creepy.
“Unprecedented Alignment of Monetary Policy Across Countries':
What we found is strong evidence that the financial crisis prompted a synchronization of monetary policy that is unprecedented at the global level.”
Yep, it’s a little too obvious for my comfort.

The worst thing is hearing people who SHOULD know, say things like:

In his newest testimony, Bernanke basically endorses the "U.S.-could-be-Greece" idea.
Not only does he postulate that the prospect of unsustainable deficits has costs beyond a growing debt limit that include an increased possibility of a sudden fiscal crisis, so does the Congressional Budget report.

– from the Congressional Budgetary Committee:
 “...it’s clear that under these policy assumptions, the amounts the federal Gov’t would be required to borrow would be unsustainable... the recovery to date has had unusual features that have been hard to predict and the path of the economy in the coming years is also likely to be surprising in various ways... ”
They go on to explain that Europe could make all the difference in our future outcomes.

George Soros and the Cheif of the IMF (international Money Fund)  speak even more ominously.

Some of the comments after the articles I finished, read like this:

Are you kidding me?! NO PLAN to plan B for in case that happens??? 
Again, why? 
Because they don’t know what they are doing any more than any one of us knows. They don’t know anything. They are just hoping without any logical reason to.

Yeah, maybe China will bail out Europe. That’s the latest idea.

'Unprecedented Alignment of Monetary Policy Across Countries'.
Also called "Circling the wagons".  
Which is what you do when you're "F"ed.

We are standing at the cliff edge and have one foot in the air.
Like Thelma and Louise, drive off the cliff together.
I really think economic RED ALERT is starting to flash.  We'll see.

To hear the state of things via mainstream media you'd think we were really coming up out of the recession they said was over years ago!
No. We are standing at the cliff edge and have one foot in the air...

Will we get pushed off, will the weight of all the debt drag us over, will we jump? Or will we hang here on the edge, not going anywhere at all? Will the Force be with us and pull us back again? (There is no going back to the way things were).

THIS is why I despair of hope of things getting better. I hope I’m wrong- and I pray that God steps in and stops them from doing wrong because it looks like nothing less will stop the momentum of the fall. But he hasn’t so far, so I think we’re on our own.

It’s been hard reading (the past year) because I’m one of those people that gets nauseous around numbers, and can get three different totals inputting the same set of numbers into a calculator. (That really happened!) I am the daughter of a Baptist minister, and if you didn’t know- they generally have way too little to do with money.

And I probably wouldn’t have been paying ANY attention if we hadn’t had such a lousy time living in Limbo trying to save our house.
(Read about that here and here and here if you’re interested in details of that journey).
 (view out the back)

But right now, things are good. I have SO MUCH to be grateful for- we did manage to hold onto the house, but it’s going to be a long haul thing. Nothing is secure, even if it’s going well right now. 
It's best to CONCENTRATE on what's good.

And so, yeah, we need more chickens!

It snowed almost all day long, snowed for hours and hours. We got about ½ inch. That was great! (Not really, but I can’t help it. Snow makes everything that much harder, even when it's beautiful).

I kept having to get back out to the coop to try to save any eggs that were laid. At this rate they are costing me $5 apiece! 
Unfortunately today was a “no eggs at all” day. (This is getting old.)

Only 3 of 7 hens is now laying (or a 4th one lays every 2 days?) Basically every 3rd or 4th day we get NO eggs at all. Anyway, I'm losing an avg. of 2 out of 3 eggs being laid. Because 3 hens think they taste good fresh and raw...

(The MATH on this makes my head spin).

The bad news is that I have caught a 3rd hen eating the eggs (alongside my favorite darkest gray hen yesterday!) I was only 2 feet away from them, waiting for the 2nd of 2 hens to get off the nest, but I wasn't LOOKING, I was busy taking a few pictures and then I turn around and - GRR!

I was so mad, I swatted them away and yelled at them, “NO, no no!”
I would've taken on Roo at that point –and I was ready for him, I was so sure he'd come to their defense, and jump at me. With those 3” spurs...
Look at the size of those claws (talons!) - and that spur!

But he was like:
 "I saw nothing, nothing I tell you ... and I think I'll just walk over THERE..."

At least one of the non-layers is making herself useful!  My dear little hen is still setting!
Every OTHER day she desperately rejoins the flock and eats ravenously (clucking a LOT) and then after an hour it’s back on the nest, all flattened out across the top of all 7 eggs. She’s so good!
I know, it’s only instinct. But I think she’s really sweet. And my favorite. And you know it’s funny too, she’s kinda, technically, UGLY. They all have that red comb and wattle that’s not all cuddly-cutesy. 

... but if you look at her from just the right angle,  it looks like she has on a little French maids’ cap - a little prairie schooner/Laura-Ingalls bonnet, with the ties in front!   
Dont'cha think?