Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving updates

We hosted several visitors for Thanksgiving dinner and associated festivities last week, and the events seemed worthy of a few notes. First, thanks to those visitors, our wood pile is bigger (still nowhere near enough to see out the winter) and the hard part of running some new wiring is all done. The puppy proved himself fairly well-behaved around people he didn't know, and no mice showed up (as far as we know) to scare away our less mice-accustomed guests.

Dinner featured a dish that was new to all of us, namely locally-raised rooster. When we ordered our chickens in July, we didn't specify the gender (chickens can most easily be shipped when only a day old, because they don't yet need to eat, but it's not always possible to determine gender efficiently on chicks that old, for some varieties) and we ended up with more than half of them males. Pro-tip: it pays to cough up the extra dough for chicks of known gender. Anyway, our roosters old enough to start crowing now, which means big enough to consider eating, and there's little point in trying to support eight or ten roosters all through winter. So we began culling the flock with two Thanksgiving roosters. All told they were very tasty, but more rubbery than we're used to in chicken. Eventually we'll probably learn better how to ... erm ... take them from coop to oven efficiently, but suffice it to say roosters' heads aren't necessarily firmly attached. We also need to learn about removing feathers, 'cuz roosters come with lots of them. Coming up, fresh guinea fowl -- some of our lavender and white guineas are mean.

Recently a scrap metal collector came by. We've quite the pile of stuff out in the field I anticipated letting him cart off for us, but after his visit and with helpful input from neighbors, I reconsidered. One suggested I should be conservative in what assets I sell as scrap, or later on I might be "kicking myself in the asset." So when he showed up prepared to run off most of the pile, we had to spend a while working out details. In the end, in exchange for various items, the collector and his machinery cleared off the major bits from a section of land where we hope to put fruit trees next spring, which I consider a fair trade. Sometime I need to hit eBay et al. to rid myself of some of the non-scrap pieces. Anyone interested in a set of corn planters? Perhaps an old manure spreader? Let's talk deal!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I thought pizza was a fruit...

Apparently, pizza is a vegetable. Also apparently, the overall congressional grasp of the finer points of botanical science rivals in its obvious incompetence the federal understanding of what makes for safe air travel and what "shall not be infringed" means. We're told this pearl of governmental wisdom came about so schools, whose menus must fit within fairly stringent regulatory constraints, can provide foods that are theoretically nutritious but sufficiently tasty that the kids will actually eat them. Arguments for and against congressional involvement of any sort in school lunch are a valid topic for a longer discussion, but in the meantime, here's one pro tip: if you have to make stupid rules for "regulatory" reasons, it's not a sign you're working nicely within the system. It's a sign you have stupid regulations.

If you see any pizza seeds at the nursery next spring, please let me know. I'll gladly turn over some of the wheat field for a patch of Extra Large 10-Topping.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I'd like to get back to the point that I'm regularly using tools to accomplish something directly useful, rather than using tools to fix other tools. The handle on our ax recently broke, and eventually I replaced it. The new handle lasted about 20 strokes before it too broke. Now I'm back to sanding a second replacement handle to get it to fit. Meantime we replenish the wood pile with wedges and a sledgehammer. The wheel barrow was, in fact, successfully resurrected and put to useful purpose (hauling firewood) so there, at least, we've made progress.

I'm grateful for sharpening stones, oils in their various forms, and most of all today, a Day of Rest.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nota Bene

Our new house is teaching us that insulated floors and/or basements are a blessing. The floor gets noticeably colder right where the modern basement ends and the "here there be dragons" crawl space begins. Where the old basement takes over from the crawl space, the floor reaches new depths of iciness. We'll be using lots of socks this winter.