A Season of Interlude

We got a fresh layer of sticky snow last night that blew in sideways. It’s not common to get ‘sticky’ snow, it’s usually light and fluffy like feathers. More is coming today.
We are now past the midpoint of winter- a few days of warm sun, a few days of overcast rain and sleet and snow and mush, (then slimy mud)!  Mud season IS a thing here.

I am beginning to feel either cabin fever or spring fever.
What's the difference between them, do you know?

Spring is trying to get going… and the interlude to it is ok, since I’m too busy inside to worry about outside. I have several projects to get into to keep me going into definite Spring:

– personal booty camp (getting back in shape after too long not paying attention, and menu planning for a low-carb diet, which works best for me). Sooooo bummed out after I last went shopping; I hadn’t been shopping in over 2 years and all the tops I found were too small when I got them home….so yeah, gotta get myself back to where I was 2 years ago asap!

--writing a western novel (1880’s), called ‘Mustang Diaries’ for lack of a better name. I’m on pg 125, and getting about 6-8 pages a week done. It’s for my Dad, so I hope to finish it in the next 3 weeks (when my Dad will be moving in).

Also, I finished the pirate and knight story and got it sent by email to my 6 y/o grandson. 35 pages, with the last page awaiting an illustration of the knight handing him the pirate monkey….his auntie the illustrator has been too busy to draw it up. It was good anyway.
(I’ve been writing stories most of my life, but this is the first one ever finished).  

If YOU dream of writing a story, try starting in November, it's "National Novel Writing Month" and has it's own supportive organization!  (nanowrimo.org)

--maintaining the chicken coop (it’s always something, lol). 

Most recently, a persistent egg-eater was on the loose, which is a terrible development since there’s an Easter-Egger hen just starting to lay green eggs!
*Update -as of April 2013, this hen died in an accident after laying only 4 of these beautiful eggs.

It meant rearranging the nests in the coop, adding a ramp, and curtains, and seems to have worked. Throughout winter, you need some kind of anti-boredom tactics or this is bound to happen. Some people hang a cabbage or other treat in the coop for the hens to peck at. Mine are pretty spoiled by those standards and I visit them at least 2x a day and try to give them something to think about. LOL, even if it means picking them up to tame.
*As a note, I got more eggs in the first week of March than the entire month of January. Even with a red heat lamp for light and warmth. I guess the warmth was relative, really, since several of the chickens with larger combs got a touch of frostbite a month back.

Laying has picked back up since overnight temps are slowly but finally getting up above freezing. I was able to give 4 eggs to the propane guy –one of them was a green one. He’d never seen one before.

I also traded a dozen eggs for enough carpet to cover 400 sq ft. of cement flooring. (It’s a cheap short shag the color of OATMEAL , but it’ was free for a dozen eggs. He lays/pulls carpet for a living and has to pay to take it to the dump, so his giving it to me really did us both a favor.)

-planning upgrades to the coop which includes adding fiber rabbits and worms...(pics coming of those plans)

-and most importantly, getting the house ready for my parents moving in. 
Painting walls, painting ON the walls (murals), storage and furniture re-and re-arrangements! 
I thought we had a BIG house, until I suddenly needed to move everything to make room.
Storage areas are packed, and a mess. 
I need to pack up my art supplies and farmgirl supplies…my closet is full and the attic is too. 
So I kind of wander from space to space and stand there with my hands on my hips, thinking “Ok, gotta move this stuff. But where to? Shall I take it ALL out and re-re-re-organize and repack it again, hoping it will take up less space? Is that TV worth storing? Will I ever use that delicate antique furniture? Do we have enough visitors to make those beds worth the space?” and on and on… and then I’ll move one thing, only to have to move something else in order to put it somewhere. Ugh. 
ONLY 3 WEEKS to get it all cleared out, and set up beds for 5 more people that are helping them move….and plan how to feed us all. Haha on me (who thought I was so well organized).

But it has been fun. Here’s a vignette of what I’ve done to create a kitchenette space:

There is only one chair since Mom can use a wheelchair. Those are vintage crate labels decoupaged to the acrylic patio table, and on the right is a red screen door as art, and a gameboard on the easel, as art, and Dad's "supper prayer" I grew up hearing, as wall art. Still refining this... The other side has a huge rustic wood entertainment shelving thing for the electric appliances (roaster/toaster oven, microwave, double hot plate) and storage, and there are other things. 

Here's a piece of what I'm painting on the wall above their bed (no headboard). It is going to 'frame' a special art piece they have that is framed in gold, of 3 overlapping red elephants. They are original hand-rubbings from a temple site where rubbings are not allowed any more... 

And of course, always trying to get some wildlife and weather pics onto this blog!
Sometimes nature gives such big thrills, I will eventually create my own annual calendars …but nature gives SO MANY of these thrills that I would have to create a DAILY picture calendar to fit them all in!

But recently the wildlife hasn’t been all that cute.

I caught a huge mule deer buck picking stuff from out of the trash bags, 

that the fawns and doe's got into first - 

...after the crows had strewn everything all around, after something originally tore open the bags... It could be a circus out there. 
I give all edible scraps to the chickens, I have no idea what they found so interesting.
(Our trashcan is at the end of the 150-yard driveway - I've been taking it down to the can by wheelbarrow once a week because the driveway gets slick and slimy between ice and mud).

The eagles have been resting in the Ponderosa since the end of November, 

-including a juvenile for the first time the first week of March.
Enlarging photos of them helps to differentiate from the various hawks – notice the size of the beaks. (juvenile eagle above, hawk below):

So we’ve had hawks, ravens, mockingbirds, and up to 6 different eagles (I know this only because once there were 5 at a time) in that tree. Plus the juvenile eagle. And I captured a juvenile golden eagle being harassed by a raven:


Another thrill this week came by way of a new client. She enlightened me a bit on the cost of angora goats -only $100. vs the $700. I'd seen online. Perhaps the difference between backyard goats and shown goats?
Anyway, she was wide open to my coming out with my mom and getting some hands-on. She has quite the set-up after 30 years of refining it... from fiber animals and spinning and showing art projects with the results, giving classes, an orchard and running a couple of greenhouses, (all with the invitation to stay on the ranch/homestead in a guest house). Cool stuff! And, it's VERY interesting how they built their home by hand. Can't wait to visit  De Goat n Sheep Ranch. 

We've been researching the 'earthship' homes for our next home, and are excited about the prospect. 

If you're unfamiliar, I think this tour video is one of the best, since it shows the 'mood' inside one of the homes - so light and cheerful, artistic, airy, natural... like that. My favorite aspects of the home are the arch built over a dining table in the greenhouse area, and outside, the arms of the courtyard. I always wanted a courtyard....
It has THREE layers of green house...which is the newest design model. You can get away with just one though. 

Another of our clients has an earthship and has invited us to visit. It's an older model, the model being refined over the last 30 years or so. I expect to be impressed. 
Some tours inside and out of the 'Phoenix' Earthship in Taos New Mexico (home owned by the original architect), and it's amazing!
 - In Photos (via an overnight visitor)
Fishing for breakfast inside the earthship (it's a completely contained bio-tech design). This is the original designer Michael, fishing with his grandson in one of the little pools inside the greenhouse... a cool concept!
-you can find thousands of youtube vids on these diverse structures...but stop in at
 earthship.com for the latest news and updates and check out the designs!
"Earthship principles:
• Building with Natural and Recycled Materials
• Solar/Thermal Heating and Cooling
• Solar and Wind Electricity
• Water Harvesting
• Contained Sewage Treatment
• Interior Food Production
They have proven comfortable in any climate, any landscape, any size and still provide electricity, potable water, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production.

An Earthship is the epitome of sustainable design and construction. Earthships are constantly being improved upon, incorporating every aspect of sustainability."
 [The "vaulted" design is the most recent upgrade. They call it the "Vaulted Global Model Earthship" It is a 2 bdrm, 2 bath model. I hope it's what we end up with!]

And one last (favorite) thing to do during this short interlude - catch up on new homesteading blogs (with time to join their spring contests, lol).

One of my new fav's is by Heather Harris, called "The Homesteading Hippy", which has a current contest/giveaway of a new ebook out, called 'The Urban Chicken'. I don't really feel that WE are urban here, but I couldn't help signing up for it, because I'm hoping to win it as a housewarming gift to my sis-in-law, [who is moving from the suburbs back to her old 'homestead', and starting from scratch. She's raised many goats before but not chickens!]
These days, we need all the insight, info, and encouragement we can get... do I hear a "YEAH!"?
So, if you're urban or you've got an appetite for homesteady stuff, check out that blog!

On that note, I end today's updates! 

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