So, I'm sitting at my desk watching the day steadily darken with the eclipse. Unfortunately, there's nothing to see. Here in Arizona, the place famous for 360 days of sunshine a year, it's cloudy. That fact is likely to save my eyes. I can just imagine myself shooting a glance skyward without thinking. Yep, with only four chapters left in the book, it's safer for me to stay inside.
When I say "free water" I do not mean the stuff that's been falling from the skies so copiously of late. Although that free water is really nice and has saved me much time dragging hoses and running sprinklers this summer, the free water I'm talking about is the water that comes from the spring, my drinking water. Having that sort of free water is the kind of thing that makes real estate agents sing. They might tell me things like "You will have more water than you know what to do with" and "You'll have water forever."
Yesterday afternoon, we had the storm of the summer. I hope.
It's been quite a couple of weeks for predators out here. This is because something large--the mountain lion, I assume--killed something equally as large between my fence and the creek. (Of course, the mystery writer in me spun a completely different story. Morbid is now my middle name.)
India isn't the only place where Monsoons are a given. Northern Arizona has its own rainy season and it started with a bang last Friday. Well, not a bang as much as multiple crashes of thunder.
For anyone uncomfortable with the idea of animals being slaughtered for meat, you may want to skip this post. I promise there will be nothing graphic, just a difficult description and a little sadness.
Don't ask me why the title of that movie (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) came into my mind as I looked at the little black hen sitting on nine turkey eggs. It just did. From that moment on, she became Miss Jean Broody to me.
Yes, that is a picture of dirt. Well, not dirt. It’s compost, specially made for me by piglets and chickens.
Once again, I lost a day. Monday whizzed by while I was caught in the early 13th Century, researching just how long a Medieval courser can gallop on summer-dried ground. "Arcane" is my middle name. (Not really, but I'm not about to reveal my middle name to anyone. I hate it.) Oh, and I finally found the "soundtrack" to this new book.
Oh man, and I thought the sheep were a ravening horde! They got nothing on piglets. Today the eight of them decimated my new chard on my new hugel. When they were done eating greens, they did a little tilling for me, although not quite where I needed it.
This is a hard post to write. However, I feel if I don't write it I'd be painting a false picture of farming life. Last week was a week of death.
She did it.
My goodness, is Miss Piggy HUGE! Her belly is so big between her legs that she waddles even worse than she usually does. She's also overdue...sort of. From what my go-to source (Google) tell me, date of insemination isn't exactly the start date for calculation. Instead, I can add two to three days to that start date, then give her another three days or so, because she's a gilt having her first litter.
First, a foot update. Thanks to everyone who made suggestions. I tried them all and, for future reference, wearing hiking boots was the best remedy until I realized that the problem wasn't in my foot but in my hips. I've started a regular regime of hip stretches and the foot is almost pain-free now.
After much schedule juggling my granddaughter Judah finally made it to the farm for a twenty-four hour visit. She's sixteen, is joining the National Honor Society, and has two part-time jobs. The first job, working in the kitchen at UCYC in Prescott, actually provides her a little income. Her second part-time job as an actress feeds her soul.
What a week! I've done nothing but herd sheep, dogs, a pig, chicks and the occasional cat. And I've done it with a strained ligament in my foot. Ouch. I didn't do anything in particular to get that strain. It's the fault of my shoes. My feet are unusually narrow and it's very difficult for me to find footwear. I suspect I've aggravated it because right now I'm walking the length of a football field--back and forth--about 10 times a day, what with feeding the little guy and doing the above mentioned herding. Let me say that writing this post is a welcome rest from walking.
Well, this time my post is late due to the weather. As I sat down to the computer to write this post on Monday, I glanced out the window to discover that the sky had gone black and the wind was howling. Figuring I had about 30 minutes to get all my critters into their safe zones, I dashed outside. If you live in the Cornville area, you know what happened after that.
Once upon a time, back say about fifteen years ago, I had no trouble working twenty hours a day, grabbing four hours of shut eye, then going at it again come 7 AM. If that sounds stupid to you, I'll admit that even farther back, say in 1994, I wrote Summer's Storm on the same schedule while eating pretty much only peanut M&Ms. Needless to say, the crash came in the middle of the following book, Spring's Fury. Some time later, I ended up off all food, consuming nothing but Ultra Clear for two months, then went on the food rotation diet for almost three years. There's always a price to pay.
So, I lost a fortune on YouTube today because I cannot keep my phone/camera on my person. I blame this phone-avoidance on the fact that my first "real" job was in 1973 as an AT&T LongLines telephone operator.
I finally got those stinking lambs...Thursday the 23rd. Not between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM as predicted (so all those nightly walks were in vain). Instead, Tiny gave birth to twins, a boy and girl at 11:30 AM
Once again I choose a title that doesn't reflect the total lack of lambs in my life. OMG! She's driving me crazy! Now that I've vented, I'll tell the story the way I think it should be told.
I don't know what to do with that ovine girl! She isn't in any distress so I'm still willing to wait (im)patiently for the big event
Yawn. This is getting ridiculous! For over two weeks now, I've been walking out between 2 and 3 AM to check on Tiny. Stumbling out is more like it. Sleepwalking is really close.
I was hoping this would be the post where I happily announce the arrival of at least one lamb, but NO! That ewe is purely obstinate. Every sign that points to imminent delivery has occurred, but she continues to hold onto her progeny. That meant I was out with her three times over the course of the night. I add that not to win sympathy, but because lack of sleep may cause t his post to be a little disjointed. If it is, I apologize.
Before the Earth, a Tiny update.
Before I launch into the description of Pigs in Heat Part 3, I have to take a moment to celebrate. After two years of watching the wild blackberries engulf the steep ditch bank across from the turkey barn, after watching at least a dozen turkey poults float away because Mama nested in said blackberries then flew across the ditch and called her wingless, newly hatched babies to follow, (drum roll please...) the blackberries are gone!
First, before I launch into the tale of "Pigs in Heat, Episode 2", I don't know about anyone else up here but I'm swimming in a sea of mud.
My dogs are about to be famous. Okay, probably not famous-famous, but more famous than they are now. In the next few days their first book will be published. That's right. The illustrator is finished and my seventeenth book is on its way to publication.
So many titles fit this post. Like Pigs in the Pen or Pigs in the Pokey or even Pigs in HE-E-Eat. (Anyone out there remember the Muppets and 'Pigs in SPA-A-ACE'?) But, instead of rolling in the muck of what really happened, I went with a more literary bend.
So before I throw myself into another recipe, I need to make a porcine update. The day when I have one piggy instead of two is drawing rapidly closer, but I really thought I was going be short a pig two days ago.
Butcher n. 1 a person who slaughters or dresses meat 2 a person who mangles, ruins or bungles something...
I was hoping for snow earlier this week, but that didn't happen. Probably just as well since the turkeys really dislike snow.
After almost six years living smack-dab in the middle of this predator superhighway, I've figured out the cycle. On normal nights, the hunters come out just after full dark and hunt until around 2 AM, when most of the nightwalking critters settle into their burrows or nests. The predators then return to give it one more shot just before dawn when the daywalkers begin to stir.
I want to ball up my fists and shout “Down with Management!” or “Unfair working conditions!” Unfortunately I work for myself, and as my own manager I’m not giving myself a break. The sensible half of me insists that I stick to the computer and finish the few remaining projects that stand between me and beginning my next two books. But the not-so-sensible part of me is bewitched by these gorgeous Autumn days.
Vacation–real vacation, not just a hiatus from the computer–was GREAT! I can hardly believe how much fun I had. There wasn’t much “doing” but there was plenty of high-class wine and five star food—the highlight of my trip was sharing meals with relatives I adore.
I haven’t left the farm for “time off” since July 2015. Prior to that excursion, I think I’d only been on vacation once since I moved onto the property in 2010.