This is an inspiring photo essay on women farmers inspired by Secretary Hillary Clinton's op-ed piece on food security. Melissa, the blog mistress, gathered all of the photos; I think she did a stunning job.

I miss being able to work out there. Until lupus hit - and even during the first year or so - I loved being out there in the fields and the paddocks. I'd stay there for most of the day; I loved the work, I loved the animals, I loved the barn, I loved being outside. Not many of those days anymore.

Anyway . . . say the word farmer, and the image of a man on a tractor comes most immediately to mind for most of us. It's our learned response. Yet most of the farmers that I know now are women, and the people who have to come to help us here with the chores and the animals are also women - most especially [ profile] sparky77, [ profile] cajoje, and [ profile] sffan. Most of the members of our alpaca collective are women. In developing parts of the world, many women work in farm collectives, too. It's a good system for us.

I just wanted to share this with you, because it brought a lump to my throat. And because it was missing from the photo essay, I want to end with a picture of Farmer Dar.
Not all farming is done in the sunshine )
Our network is kind of wonky today. For the past few days, really.

And when did LJ install automatic spell check anyway?

The baby cria is (stop it, spell check! cria is very much a real word. you suck.) doing well. I don't trust what seems to be, though; I'm still not allowing myself to get attached to him in case he suddenly takes another turn for the worse and we lose him. I think I'll need a full week. We're calling him Spartacus, or Sparky for short. Which ought to make [ profile] sparky77 all kinds of pleased. I don't think I posted any pics here, but if you'd like to see him and his birth, I have a set over at Flickr.

We finally have Iceman here with us. Suelaine and her fam dropped him off tonight. It was not well received by Hannibal. Hannie has been the dominant male around these parts for the past three months, and he we not at all pleased to have another macho around the place. He stood and glared for a couple of minutes while Iceman checked out all the open females we now have, and then Hannibal just launched himself at Iceman and the fun began. They've been at it for a couple of hours, taking turns chasing each other and biting and screaming. Loudly. Shrieking like fucking banshees, actually. I went next door to let our neighbors know that they weren't actually killing each other, only wishing that they could.

There's no way we're putting Adama in there with those two psychos. Hannibal pushes him around as it is. Or he did until we moved him (Hannibal) into the new paddock. We're going to get a gelded llama to put in with the feuding boys; according to reports, the llama will usually step in and stop the fussing, and he'll hopefully prove to be an ally for Adama when he finally gets sent to the Big Boys paddock.

The real solution would be to get all of those open females bred and pregnant, because they're the real motivation for all of that nonsense going on with the herdsires. Men. (Kidding. Mostly.)

Mark's parents left today, and as crowded and hyper as it sometimes got around here with everyone swanning around the place, I'm really going to miss them. I consider them friends, and I miss my friends when they go away. They'll be back for Christmas, though, so it's not all bad.

I'm falling over more, which is exciting if you're into that sort of thing.

Did y'all in the States have a good Fourth? It was always my favorite holiday. I get all gooey about the Continental Congress and the promise that was America. And hopefully will be again.

The kittens are almost weaned, which means they'll be leaving soon. Dar's son is taking Chloe, who is my favorite. I'm really happy about that, because I know that he'll take good care of her. We still don't know what the prognosis is for Miranda. It breaks my heart to think of euthanizing her; she has such great spirit and the sweetest personality. We don't care that she's most probably blind; we'd be happy to care for her. But she may have graver problems that will bring her a great deal of pain sooner rather than later, and we don't want that for her, either. We're none of us happy about that.

Tomorrow if the weather permits, I hope to take the lawn tractor out and mow down the freakin' army of milkweed we have all over the back. I spent three hours pulling milkweed out of the new paddock yesterday, and I know I still didn't get it all. It's toxic for alpacas, and while they won't deliberately eat it because of the yukky taste, we don't want it growing in their vicinity anyway. We need some ranch hands around here. Any volunteers?

I know I had something that I really wanted to post about, but for the life of me I can't remember it. And such is my life, ladies and gentlemen. I should just plaster sticky notes all over my body. It's my only hope.

Night all.
Well, cria watch is on full alert. We noticed that Conchita was starting to dilate this evening. She shut down as the sun was setting, but it really looks as if she'll be going into full labor starting a little after the sun comes up. You really have to admire alpaca birthing systems. And for those of you who've always wondered what a dilating alpaca looks like:
Look here. ) She's certainly going about this in a completely different way than Gertie did. Gertie avoided food, Conchita will eat your arm off if you're not careful; Gertie paced back and forth continually, Conchita spends most of the day kushed; Gertie was just about glued to the poo pile, Conchita pretty much ignores it unless she actually has to go. Makes me wonder what the actual birth is going to be like.

We also have the new barn for the boys going up. It should be finished by tomorrow night, and it looks great. Iceman will be coming home this week now that his new digs are ready, and we're trying like hell to figure out a way to get Cinnamon Girl back here very soon, too. She's due to give birth at the end of the month, so once we get everyone home, in just a few weeks we'll have eleven alpacas roaming around the place.

The barn kitties are coming along nicely. They're eyes are much improved, and it looks as if even Miranda will have some vision; we're not sure about both of her eyes, but one is certainly visible and working. They're absolutely adorable and at the age where they just keep us laughing with their antics. We had to put them in a taller box since Chloe and Jane both figured out how to clamber out of the smaller one. It's a little too dangerous out there for such babies to be wandering around, but we're going to be putting up a little chicken-wire enclosure for them so that during the day they can get some sunshine and exercise. I figure that we can use the canopy from the lawn tractor to keep the sun off them so they don't burn to a crisp. Wanna see MommaCat? ) She's a lovely and affectionate girl and quite the good little mommy.

Speaking of the lawn tractor - it's dead. Or as good as dead. Yes, this is the one that we bought 10 days ago. Or, as Home Depot was quick to note, three days past the time when we could return it for a new one. Shoot me now. It's still under warranty so we can send it in for repair, but I think they'll end up getting us a new one anyway because this one, I'm guessing, has a cracked engine block. The oil leaks out. All of it. And not from the drain to the oil cylinder, from under the center of the tractor where the blades are. We're cursed. You know that, right? At least when it comes to crap like this.

I still haven't heard back from my (I use the term loosely) doctor about the blood work results or a referral to a rheumatologist. To give her some slack, I wasn't home Friday afternoon, and we don't have an answering machine so the clinic could have called. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Grudgingly, mind you. I'll be calling on Monday morning. And again Monday afternoon. And Tuesday morning. And Tuesday afternoon. You get the picture. I plan on being the squeakiest wheel those bozos have ever had to deal with.

And with that, I should try to get some sleep. I think it's going to be a busy day tomorrow what with - please! - Conchita's cria arriving and all. Oh, and [ profile] dumbphilomel will be stopping by to drop off her lovely bunnies while she goes away to visit family back in India. I think we'll just about be at the point where we can advertise our place as a petting zoo :)

Night all.
Lookee what we got. )
Isn't she purty? It took me a bit to get used to maneuvering it around all the trees and bushes, but once I got the hang of it - joy! I spent about 3 1/2 hours mowing, and I still have a couple more hours worth to go. Everything grows so quickly this time of year, and we've been without a lawn tractor for several weeks now. It's a jungle out there, guys.

Ooh, I forgot to say that tractor has a canopy! I took it off when I was mowing around the trees, because canopy + low branches = canopy falling on my head, as I found out the hard way. I reattached it when I was doing the big open stretches of grass in our back yard, and it was heaven. Aaaaand there's a cupholder. I laughed when I first read about having cupholders on tractors until I started driving our old cupholderless tractor, and then the light bulb went on. Yup, it's pretty sweet.

Still no cria from Conchita. I think she's just going to squirt it out when we're not looking. She's a quirky beast, our Conchita.

It's hot. And it's going to get hotter. And it's only mid June. Kind of scary to think what July and August will be like. But at least the air quality has been good, so there is that. And the humidity has been low. And could this post be any more boring?

I'm wired all of a sudden, and I can't figure out why. My eyes are droopy and my body is sleepy, but my mind is in overdrive. That's never a good combo :) Maybe I should go for a drive. There's actually an all-night place in Listowel now. It's a gas station/convenience store/deli, but at least it's open 24/7. Crappy coffee there, though. And I'd probably have to pull over and sleep before I even made it there, and the only place to pull over is the lane that the horse-and-carriages use and that could cause all sorts of problems so I think I'll stay put. Thank you for joining me on this little trip around my brain.
Another day spent mostly on the road. We started off early at the two local farmers' markets so [ profile] darlong's dad could get the experience. During tourist season both markets (which are across the road from each other) become insanely crowded, so if you want to actually do some shopping instead of jostling and sidestepping, you have to get there first thing in the morning; that would be 7AM.

We snagged some veggies and homemade baked goods, then hit the road again just as the crowds started to swarm in. Dar's dad wanted to take us out for breakfast, so we drove over to an area hot spot: Anna Mae's. It's a Mennonite-run restaurant/bakery, very popular with the locals and another big tourist locale. To be honest, I'm not that hot on it as a restaurant. The service is dead slow, the food is meh, and at least one order will be screwed up. On the other hand, their baked goods are out of this world and are the real reason so many people beat a path to their door. We would normally just pop in to get a coffee and an apple fritter to go. But Dar's dad really wanted to do this for us, so of course we said yes. He enjoyed the food, so that made the wait worth it.

Back home for about an hour, then off I went again in search of 1) a pair of skimmers (like ballet slippers) and 2)many implements to help us beat back the jungle that is becoming our property. I had no luck with the skimmers; the pair I liked didn't come in the half size I needed, and the size that fit were ridiculously expensive for a little shoe. I gave up on that and concentrated on the cutty things.

TSC and Home Depot were on my list. TSC had the bush cutter that we've been wanting to get, and I talked with one of the service guys to be sure that it was going to do what we needed it to do - mainly hack through the very tall grass, weeds, and small shrubs that are taking over the place. He said that's what it was engineered to do, so I was going to walk off with it when I realized that it was never going to fit in the back of my Mazda. I got him to hold it for me, and off I went to Home Depot.

HD has the lawn tractors that we've been lusting over. I cornered the local farmboy that they have on duty in that section, and I think I found the perfect little machine for out needs. Not so little machine, really. It's still considered to be a lawn tractor, but it's more tractor than lawn, and we'll be able to use it to haul and plow as well as mow. I wouldn't buy it without getting the OK from the Dar and Mark, so I'm hoping we'll go back tomorrow and place the order. While there I also picked up a weed whacker for the stuff that's too wee for the bush hog and too enclosed for the mower.

Back home again. Grabbed a half a sandwich, switched the car for the Jeep, and back out to TSC to pick up the bush hog. While there I finally - finally - bought the cart of my dreams. Right now when we need to haul something out to the paddocks or the back lot, we have to use either a wheelbarrow or a kid's plastic toboggan. Sometimes we use an unfolded tarp. Not really the best way to be carrying large, heavy, awkwardly shaped items. This cart is metal, large, has a flat bed, removable sides, and the handle converts to hitch that you can attack to your lawn tractor. Score! I'm so excited. Now all I have to do is put it together. That and the weed whacker, too. Guess I know what I'll be doing for a good part of tomorrow.

Looking at the state of the yard and the pasture and the back 40 (as we call the area behind the paddocks) is really depressing. The old lawn tractor we'd been using has been dead for a couple of weeks now; I was using the hand mower, but this stupid whatever it is I have means that I don't have the stamina right now to do too much with it. Plus the heat had been ungodly for most of the week. So . . . we're living in a jungle. I can't wait to get to it and beat it back into submission.

And that's enough of that. Pretty boring, eh. It doesn't sound like much, but it took me hours to do all of that, and then I came home and crashed big time. I did revive early enough to make it outside and watch Dar get the 'pacas ready for bed. Yup, she worked and I sat there and watched her. I suck. I did take some pictures, so next up is the 'paca spam. You have been warned.
I had my bloodwork and x-rays done today at the Palmerston Hospital which is just the cutest little hospital I've ever seen. It looks to be two years old, if that; it's shiny and bright and cheerful and very wee for a hospital. I've lived in bigger apartment buildings. But the staff was efficient and cheerful and that counts for a lot. They have an ER so it's a full-service hospital but really - where do they put the patients once they come out of ER?

I also did my car registration. What a difference from dealing with the MA MVD. And the CT MVD was even worse! Nasty, cranky, petty bureaucrats who lived to make you suffer. Gah. But this is Canada and small town Canada at that. When I came into the (very small) office there was one woman working the counter helping a father and daughter (I think) and two other people were sitting in chairs by the door. I stood in line to wait my turn. As the couple in front of me were finishing up, it occurred to me that I should really check something out, so I turned and asked the other two if they were ahead of me or if they were waiting for a driving instructor or something. Yuh, turns out they were ahead of me. I wonder if they ever would have actually told me that I was third in line or if they would have let me just blithely barge on ahead? You know that if that happened in the States that there'd be a couple calls of "Hey, lady! Back of the line is over here behind me!" Canadians :)

I was gone more than I was home today, but that seems to be the way it's been going lately. I figure maybe sometime next week it'll start to slow down for me. Anyway.

We'd been wanting to move Adama into the smaller paddock with Hannibal now that Adama is getting too old to stay with the females and the little cria. But Adama is pretty smart, so he's always managed to stay one step ahead of us whenever we (me, really) were intent on getting him into the other side of the barn gate. But today? Today he forgot himself and went nosing around while the gate in the barn was open, so I just tiptoed over to it and closed him in. Aha! Actually it went a lot more smoothly this time than the last time we tried this. Hannibal only spit at him twice, Delilah whined for a few minutes and then got over it, and his mom, Conchita, barely looked up from her dinner. By the time we left the paddocks, Adama was happily munching away at the grass.

Conchita's Cria Watch is still in force. It looks to be happening this weekend if the weather holds.

The barn kitties have opened their eyes. Is there anything cuter than newborn kittens?! I haven't been able to get a good picture of them because it's usually going on dark before I can get out there, but I did get a decent shot of Momma Cat: Pretty mommy )

She reminds me of Mokie. In a good way.

High heat and humidity and that verdammte smog are still the order of the day. The air was so bad that I could taste it. It was miserable for me, but I'm sure it was much worse for the people whose jobs require them to work outside in weather like this. The lab tech who took my blood was scaring me with stories of how the weather forecasters were saying this summer was going to see temps of 40C/110F. Noooooooo! Although I guess I'd better get used to it. Adapt or die, eh.

On that less than cheerful note, I go to take my new prescription drugs in hopes of them letting me get some sleep. And people say I'm not an optimist. Chuh!
After a wild day of transporting people hither and yon, I made it to my doctor to see what's what with all this leg pain. She doesn't have a clue. It's all a mystery. However, she did give me referrals for blood work, x-rays, and rehab. The rehab may be months down the line due to the lack of medical personnel around here, but at least it's out there on the horizon somewhere. The good news is that she's taking all of this seriously because it is so bizarre. I'm supposed to take AC&C's every four hours (that's tylenol with equal but small amounts of caffeine and codeine), plus she gave me a prescription for a daily anti-inflammatory that won't eat away at the lining of my pouch, and a prescription for Tylenol-3 to take at bedtime. If that don't do the trick, I'm to call her. And let me tell you, if that don't do the trick, I'll be camped out on her doorstep.

In alpaca news (because there's always alpaca news), Delilah ripped off a pretty big patch of skin on her face. We found blood on that stupid, naked pine tree that they're always scraping up against, so she either scraped more than she intended to, or else she and Adama were goofing around (as usual) and she got pushed up against it pretty forcefully. Either way, the tree is coming down tomorrow. Have saw, will cut.

I killed the lawn tractor trying to cut down the brush out in the outback. (Reminds me of a song from The Bonzo Bow-wow Dog Band: "Hunting tigers, out in India. Out in, out in, out in India. Ia!") Anyway, the blades got all hung up on something out there, and now we have nothing but the push mower to use against the five acres of rapidly growing weeds and grass. I did some hand mowing this morning but had to quit after about 30 minutes because of the heat. Tomorrow and Thursday are each going to be progressively hotter. Joy. I'll do what I can, because heat stroke is not my friend. We will be investing in a brush mower.

Still haven't had a chance to assemble the seed spreader. Hopefully tomorrow while I'm hiding from the killer heat. (Seriously - 30C/90F with humidity. Yikes!)

Funny moment to leave you with. I was driving the Nana and JBD to his appointment with the oral surgeon today. Dar had him looped up because he's anxious about dental work and this was going to be pretty intense. Anyway, we're listening to this great oldies station out of Toronto when on comes "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Very soft and low from the back seat I hear JBD singing along, "Yippee ai yay, yippee ai yo" and then the Nana joins in. Hee! It was so cute. Poor guy went on to have a tough time of it at the surgeon's office. Dar's keeping a close eye on him, and we'll be going back tomorrow for a follow-up. Maybe they'll be playing more cowboy music on the radio :)
I'm still tired. Heh.

Busy, busy day. Mostly running around, but it takes up a lot of time, eh. Tomorrow will be more of the same. I'm hoping for a stay-at-home-and-get-things-done day on Wednesday, but time will tell. I feel so behind on everything. I need a list. Several lists. A list of lists. Yeah, that should help. (Umm, that was sarcasm.)

(Note to Dar: Val is still straining, poor guy. Maybe some slippery elm tomorrow?)

Sorry about that. Both Dar and Maddie's computers are kaput, so there's some musical chairs going on with all of us. Hopefully that will be all set to rights soon.

Mommacat and her kitties (another great fake band name, folks!) are doing well from what I can see. Apparently she has the tragic habit of taking her kittens off to hide them when they reach a certain age but are still defenseless - and then she forgets where she hid them and they die. I'm not sure when she's going to be doing that with this batch, so I kind of have a knot in my stomach when I go to check on the little feline family. So far, so good. We're really going to have to come up with a plan for protecting the little guys from momma's bad instincts. Anyone want a kitty?

I got a package from my brother and SIL today (squirrel socks, protein bars, and a plastic iguana. It's a thing.) and a most generous gift certificate from [ profile] malterre to LUSH, because I am going to pamper myself or else she's going to kill me, right? Bwah! Damn, I never thanked you properly in email. OK, now I'm all embarrassed.

My doctor's appointment is tomorrow. I wonder how it'll go. I think she thinks I'm a hypochondriac/nutcase with probable drug seeking behavior. Or I could just be paranoid. (See "nutcase" in the previous sentence but one.) I'm hoping that she takes this complaint seriously, and I can get to the bottom of all this pain and aching and fatigue. I was telling Dar the other day that I had a bit of a breakthrough. You know how I was moaning about getting the gbs done so that I would have better mobility and yet here I am limping and barely able to climb stairs? Well it just occurred to me how much worse everything would be if I hadn't had the surgery and lost all that weight. I'd probably be in a wheelchair now. So let that be a lesson to me: it may not be a pretty walk these days, but at least it is walking.

I was joking with my brother about how much I represent the stages of human evolution when I get up in the morning. The first couple of feet I'm walking all hunched over, shambling along with my knuckles practically dragging, then I slowly get more upright until I get to the kitchen where I'm able to stand erect. The Supremacy of the Human Species! I rule.

Enough nattering. Me for bed. Oooh, one last thing. I was watching some TV, trying to lure myself into sleep when I saw that one of the channels was showing "North and South." According to the info, it was the Patrick Swayze Civil War mini-series cheesefest, so I figured what the hell. That oughta knock me out. Instead I think I stumbled across the show that many on my flist were all gah-gah over: northern England during the 19th century, labor troubles, star-crossed lovers thingie. I only saw the first part, and now I don't know how it ends. I guess it's a happy ending for the lovers anyway, but I really wish I could track down the last two hours or however long it runs.

Night all.
The last bale of hay we'd bought turned out to be bad. Not just damp on the interior but wet. And moldy. So I hauled out back to the fire barrel and burned it all up.

Day 145 - Burning

It was a general clean-up day for me around the place, and I admit to being tuckered. Pretty pleased at what I got accomplished but still tired.

In other news, Mark brought home a momma cat with four kittens. Ten cats, eight alpacas (soon to be ten), and now we're adding at least one llama (I want two: one for the guys' pen, one for the girls') and possibly a horse. I remember when I was overwhelmed at the thought of getting a cat. A cat.

I better get my goats. That's all I'm sayin'.
We had a smog alert today. I don't think it's the first one this year, but it does seem to signal the official start of summer in southern Ontario. I had no idea this part of Canada was as smoggy as it is, but there you have it. I believe that it's a combination of the air patterns and the industrial smog from Detroit wafting its way north. Anyway and for whatever reason, we get smog. Dar is feeling under the weather tonight, and I think a good part of it is due to the air quality. For some weird reason my asthma doesn't seem to be affected, and I'm not complaining at all about that happy fact.

An unhappy fact is that our neighbors heard coyotes howling at the edges of the property last night. I was going to head out to Home Depot to buy some floodlights, but Dar suggested that we hold off on that until Tyler comes this weekend and runs some proper electrical lines farther out, which makes sense. Instead we strung all of our outdoor Christmas lights around the sides of the paddock. I know the odds are that they'll go for easier prey (such as the small army of rabbits that inhabit the area), but I had to try to do something to make the place look less easy to attack. Especially now that we have little Valentino out there. Tomorrow come hell or high water I'm going to mow down every bit of high grass and weeds that still stand out there; the less cover the predators have, the less appealing a place is. That goes for wild dogs as well as coyotes. What we need is a shotgun and a livestock guardian dog. Or me on a cot in the barn with a big old stick and my usual bad attitude :)

In less angsty news, we did some errands around Listowel, one of which led us to the municipal building. While Dar was inside, I went strolling around the parking lot and ran across this )

You gotta love Canucks :)
I'm not really disgruntled; I just like that icon. I am a little looped but not looped enough. I promised Dar that I'd get drunk tonight, but so far that hasn't happened. And I'm out of Bailey's. Noooooooooooooooo! I may end up scrounging around Ye Olde Liquore Cabinet(e) after I post this.

So why is wifey-poo practically ordering me to get drunk? Because I'm going through another phase of pernicious insomnia. Which again would be a great name for a band. Pernicious Insomnia - Songs to Beat the Sleep Right Out of You. I'll take two copies, please. Now I know that drinking doesn't give you a restful sleep, but when I pointed that out to Dar she came back with the "Like you're getting restful sleep now?" argument. So . . . what the hell.

And I'll be right back. Might as well drink and type, right?

Behold before me the emerald green bottle of Growers Granny Smith Aplle sparkling apple cider. We'll see how this works, shall we?

Ok, about 30 minutes has passed because I took one sip of the Growers and retched. Tasted like piss. Went out to the kitchen and met up with [ profile] sffan and [ profile] browncoat and the Nana; they talked me into trying the Cranberry hard cider. It? Tasted like cranberry piss. The search was on to find something alcoholic and tasty. Even my old beloved standby of Jack Daniels tasted off. So I settle for a sombrero (milk and Kahlua (Kaluha?)); I don't see much change, but at least it was tasty.

Anyway . . .it's midnight. I think it's going to be a long night. I have a prescription for sleeping pills (Imovane!), but it's $70-$75 to fill it, so that's out for a little while. Which is why we got into a big discussion in the kitchen about healthcare in Canada, Ireland, and the States. In the States not everyone has healthcare, but if you do, you also get the prescription coverage, so most drugs cost at most $10 for you to fill. Here in Canada (and the Nana said in Ireland), you get free healthcare for everyone, but you still end up paying for your prescriptions unless you have coverage through work. And then you still have to pay a dispensing fee when you pick it up. REally, people of the world - it's no great help to get free coverage to find out that you're sick if you can't afford the cure! Work on that, OK?

Meanwhile, back at Gertie's uterus, things are progressing. OR so we hope. Her udder is huge! And her vulva is really red and distended and more open than a few days ago. (I took pictures when she was being sheared. Dar told me to; it wasn't my idea!) And now it's looking like Conchita is going to give birth not too much longer, too. Satine is not pregnant, as we thought she was, so we're going to have to hook her up with some good-looking stud. (Breeding animals means you can say things like that and have it taken literally.) So we'll rebreed Gertie and Conchita two weeks after they've delivered (I know!) and have Satine taken care of, too. It's going to be a hot bed of alpaca sexin' going on here.

Let's see, what else. Adventures in lawn mowing. I took the lawn tractor into the back couple of acres to cut down the brush there, and I thought I was going to set everything on fire - if I didn't suffocate first. That tractor is on it's last legs. Pistons. Whatever. Belching black smoke, jerking along, going way too slow for the gear I had it in. We don't want to invest in major repairs since 1)it's wicked old, and 2) we'll be replacing it with a new lawn tractor next month some time. I still need to have a working tractor until then, though. Grrrrrr. And the push lawn mower (emphasis on push) almost bit the dust, too. I ran over a plastic bag because I didn't see it lurking in the high grass near the bushes. Not only did it disable the rotors, some of the plastic got sucked into the filter (or whatever) and started smoking in a scary way. That all got fixed eventually, too. Really, all I want to do is cut some fucking grass. Must it really be this big a deal?

I think we're luring [ profile] sffan into being a weekend alpaca herder. She was out there with me this morning moving the alpacas around between paddocks and hauling hay bags and water buckets and such. Delilah came up and snuffled her, which was very cute. Let's put it this way: SF is going to buy some paddock boots to leave here so she can do the barn stuff when she comes to visit. I think she's one of us now :) Well, at least on the occasional weekend. She's too much of a city girl to give it up completely.

My mind just went blank. I think I need to do something that I just can't think of at the moment. It should be sleep, but you know . . . not. Reading maybe. I'll figure it out.
That quote courtesy of The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai, by the way.

Another busy and tiring day, but it's also satisfying to look around and see what you've accomplished. The whole damn five acres is now teasle free. I'm sore and my arthritis is taking its vengeance, but those fields are ready for me to attack them with the lawn tractor tomorrow. This year we're going to be able to walk around out there, as opposed to last year when the weeds and the brambles and the high grasses controlled everything past the paddock. Part of the cleared area will be used for additonal paddocks, but the rest will be for our own restoration. I know that Dar wants to plant a few memorial gardens for Elliot back there, while I'm just looking forward to a quiet place away from everything to sit and meditate or just space and relax.

While I was working on that, Dar got the lawnmower going again. I tried yesterday in vain to get the damn thing up and running; there are lots of places that the lawn tractor can't go, and the yards were looking pretty ragged because of it. Turns out that I needed to drain the old gas in the tank before adding newer gas on top of it. Uh . . . oops. Plus she cleaned the air filter and the spark plugs, which while not beyond me would certainly tax my clumsy fingers and my patience. Then she cut back all the places I had to skip with the tractor. Our yard looks downright respectable these days: flowers blooming, grass cut, mailbox upright. The neighbors probably don't recognize the place anymore.

I also got a halter and a lead on Delilah. Oh, she really doesn't like that. Really. Really. She bucks and jumps and then, just for a change of pace, she tries to crawl under the gate to get away. That was fun. She hates it, but she has to learn to accept the halter, and that's all there is to that. Adama got his turn, and while he also is no great fan of the process, he's a lot easier to handle than Delilah is.

Gertie is still pregnant. Probably for another three years or something. I mean really. Just drop the cria, Gertie! You know when she's going to go into labor? When she's on the shearing table this Monday. How much do you want to bet? Because it's certainly not unheard of for that to happen.

And speaking of shearing on Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday), my job duties will be to work with the animals. Yay! I think mostly I'm going to be helping Dar give injections and learning how to do it as well, but I no doubt will also be helping with the haltering and the whole ordeal of getting the alpacas onto and off of the table. Oh yeah, this is going to be a memorable few days. Nowhere near as intense as the cattle branding that [ profile] cajoje used to help out with, but it'll be exciting in its own right.

So now I think I should put these weary bones to bed. Night all.
Oh, it was one of those nights, you know? UP and down and up and down and up and down. For a few rollicking minutes this morning Dar was trying to determine whether or not my appendix was going south, but I kept saying no, it wasn't that - and it wasn't. Win! But it all got better as the day progressed anyway.

You know I keep lists, right? And databases? I should so really create a database of all my whinging complaints about my health. I also want a personna named The Mistress of Whinge. Maybe I'll join that anachronist society - what the hell are they called? Enemies of the renfaire types? Pennsic Wars? Ringing any bells? Anyway, you have to pick a name, so I shall be Bellicose, the Mistress of Whinge. Now I need a gown. And a weapon. Besides my acid wit, that is.

Gertie is still pregnant. We tried to give her a drug to move her labor along, but we couldn't catch her. At all. That hulking pregnant middle-aged alpaca outran and outmaneuvered us around that freaking paddock for easily fifteen minutes. We decided that we were probably doing more harm than good, so we called it a loss. We'll try it again tomorrow. We need at least one of the following: a catch pen and/or more willing people to help us herd them. We were trying to get her into the barn where we could confine her in one of the smaller pens and give her the injection. Instead, we got a multi-species remake of the Keystone Kops. We are pathetic.

On the other hand, I did manage to get a halter and lead on Adama all by myself. He was not a happy little boy, but there you have it. We really, really, really have to get those crias halter trained by Monday in time for shearing.

I spent several hours (3, I think) bouncing around on the back of the old lawn tractor. It's the time of year when the grass - and the dandelions - grow like, well weeds. You have to mow every couple of days. I tried to get the push mower started (lots of smaller areas can't be done by tje tractor), but it just wasn't happening. Something bad went down with it over the winter, I'm thinking. Waaah.

Must go bed now. Busy, busy, busy day tomorrow. Yeah, like what else is new, right. Heh. heheheheheheh.
I've been hella busy, and I can't say that I'm loving it. Mostly I'm doing a lot of running around, because my car has been off the road for about five days now. (I need new brakes. Not sure when that's actually going to happen.) I drive Mark into work in Waterloo so we can have the Jeep, and then I run errands - including some that take me back to Waterloo/Kitchener - and then I drive back into Waterloo in the evening and pick Mark up again. I figured that on three days this week, I'll be putting in 200 miles a day behind the wheel. It's gonna be a long week, and next week we have shearing Mon-Wed. Plus Dar has to travel into Toronto for that meeting. By next Thursday you'll find me curled up in a fetal position. Or else clutching a bazooka. It's a crapshoot.

I'm just tired, you know? And bitchy and cranky :) Dar sent me to the internet to look up Post Concussion Syndrome, knowing that if I read it on the internet then I'll believe that it must be true. Heh. And yeah, that's what I have. Headaches. Fatigue. The usual stuff. Joy. Apparently it can last for three months, and for some very unlucky individuals it can go on like that for years. Sigh. All from a stupid crack on the head.

So. Gertie still hasn't cranked out the cria yet. Although it's looking more and more imminent. This evening when I was feeding the guys, she went into the barn instead of jostling with the others for the fresh grain. That's very unGertie-like. Dar said that she noticed that Gertie's udders are swollen, too. All the signs are pointing to a criation (no really, that's what they call it), but then Gertie is a stubborn old broad; she just may hold onto that little cria for another month. Just to watch us go batshit :)

I got out to the barn later than usual tonight (Dar was going to do it, but then her ulcer really kicked in), and the sun was setting before I was finished. The good thing about that is that I got some decent photos, and I got to watch bunnies frolicking. Frolicking, I say. Two of them right outside the fence to the paddock. They were jumping over each other in a game of bunny leapfrog and scampering around each other like they were playing tag. Absolutely freakin' adorable. Did I have my camera at the ready? I did not. By the time I retrieved it from the barn, the games were over, but I did catch one of the bunnies anyway. It's not a great shot because the sun was going down, but there you have it. Or you will have it under the cut *g*.
Twilight around here. And some mutant tulips. )
Another day spent on the lawn tractor tooling around the property. This time I was mowing the lawn - all 1200 acres of it. OK, slight exaggeration. But really, it feels that big when you're trying to tame the green beastie. So what's so dorky about mowing the lawn driving a certified antique? Well, if you're sporting a large white mask and carrying a Kill All Humans ) messenger bag strapped across your torso, you tend to stand out. Outstanding in the field, as the old joke goes.

The mask is because the lawn tractor is a pollutor and I'm the main victim. Even if I didn't have asthma, I'd end up coughing and gasping if I weren't wearing some sort of mask. (We're getting a new lawn tractor soon. I feel horribly guilty about the pollution, trust me, but this place is too big to get everything done with a hand mower. Which is also a polluter. All of them are. Maybe we should just get a herd of free ranging sheep to eat the lawn and be done with it.)

I've started carrying the bag with me every time I go outside to do work. I always need to carry with me a mask, my rescue inhalor, water, and my camera. My pockets only have so much room, and now with the warmer weather I'm wearing less layers and therefore less pockets. The messenger bag is lightweight and it can strap crossways so I don't have to worry about it slipping off. Poifect!

(The Two Towers is on TV. The Elven archers just marched into Helm's Deep. ::sniff:: Gets' me every time.)

Anyway, I was playing around with the camera since my oringal photos for Project 365 tanked because of faulty batteries, and this is one of my favorites. I love my red shoes. And my Mao.

Mao and the red shoes. )
Well, not so much a saddle as a driver's seat, but still . . . back. Everything finally aligned to allow me to get some damn work done outside: the weather was good, my head wasn't as foggy, and the ground had dried up enough to pull out the tractor and start attcking the the back 40 (as we laughingly call it.)

I had stored the lawn tractor outside all winter instead of inside the little shelter that was built under the deck. (It barely fit under there, and I would take forever trying to maneuver it inside.) It was under part of the deck and next to the shelter so it was pretty much out of the wind and the worst of the snow, but it was completely open to the cold. When I took the tarps off of it, I just figured that I'd have to jump start the battery, but I thought I'd try to start it just for the hell of it. So, I climbed on board, turned the key - and damn if it didn't start right up! Good ol' crappy-lookin' tractor :)
Day 125 - Lawn Tractor
It's uncomfortable as hell and belches smoke and fumes, but it does what I need it to do. In this case it was mowing down all of the shrubs and weeds and long grasses growing out behind the paddocks. Since we live in a marshy area, there were parts of the ground that had fissures opened up from frost heave and rain; it was like driving along railroad ties, and I came right out of the seat a number of times. There are also a couple of sink holes out there; I barely missed one of them. Yikes. Before I finish up with the mowing, I have to stick some poles in the sink holes to mark them, otherwise the tractor goes in and I go flying.

There was also teasle wrangling and alpaca herding and tree sawing. It felt good to be back at it.

Dar was stuck at our friend's mill for most of the day helping out with a seminar they were giving on getting alpaca fleece ready for processing. But once she got back home and rested up a bit, out she went and finished fencing off the back paddock so that we can move the girls in there and reseed the main paddock. I can't do fencing for shit, but Dar is becoming a pro at it. After I had come inside for the night, Tyler stopped by, and he and Dar went over where the new fence posts are going to go and where the boy alpacas' shelter is going to be. I still have to get the details myself, but again, it was simply good to be back in action instead of just planning.

And now I have to start working on a contest to win some Leonard Cohen CDs. Sixty words or less. Sixty words. This is gonna be tough.
1. The raising of the storage shed/temp alpaca shelter continues. And continues. And probably will continue for several more days.

2. The freaking mailbox (aka My Nemesis) didn't just fall over in the wind; the wind split the wood off right at the base. So now we have this little pointy stick of splintered wood sticking up out of the concrete that it was buried in. W. T. F. We stopped by the post office and asked them to hold onto our mail for a few days while we . . . do something.

3. I expect that I'll be showered with rotten tomatoes for saying this, but I'm just not getting Heroes the way the rest of you are. There is no there there, as Dorothy Parker so famously said. The only character I care about is Bennett, and that is not so coincidentally because he's the only one with any substantial backstory.

4. Pixel fell asleep on my bed last night in the most ridiculous position: she was on her back, her body was curved around almost into a U shape, her head was so far back that I couldn't see her ears - and she had her front legs up in the air. Who sleeps like that???

5. We think Gertie is going to have her cria very soon. She's acting unGertie-like and the other alpacas keep sniffing at her butt, which activity is about as welcome as one might expect given Gertie's personality. Alpacas tend to give birth between 10Am and 2PM on a sunny day. They've been known to stop their labor if the situation around them seems hostile and hold onto the cria for another day or so until the mom figures it's safe to let 'er rip. So to speak.

6. Our friend Deb's alpaca gave birth a girl cria this afternoon. We're going to visit tomorrow. No doubt that's the time that Gertie will choose to have her baby. Because apparently that's what alpacas do, too. I can't tell you the number of first-hand accounts we've heard of people studiously monitoring their pregnant alpacas only to have them give birth while the owner went inside to take a phone call or go to the store or something short term like that.

7. I can't stop yawning.

8. LJ is being all kinds of pissy about letting me comment. So that would be why I haven't been commenting as much as I'm wanting to. Anyone else having problems with comments getting posted?

9. I love Drive. And I'm back to loving Lost. The Sopranos is filling me with dread; I think a lot of bad things are going to happen in the next few weeks.
We had a lovely few days - warm temps, breezy to windy, plenty of sun. [ profile] dumbphilomel and [ profile] sffan came by on Sunday to help put up the temporary shelter for the boy alpacas. It was good. (More on that in another post.)

Today we were expecting rain. What we got was a very short hurricane.

Pounding Rain

Brutal winds, rain that threatened to break the glass in the window. As I said, it lasted about 20 minutes. And when it was over, and I could actually see outside again . . . I stopped. And then I said, "Uh, Dar?" Do you notice something different? )
I was busy like a bee this morning, and then I just kind of lost all of my energy. I had intended to take a short nap, but it turned into a 90 minute sleep-a-thon; it was one of those times when I kept trying desperately to wake up and I just couldn't. I really dislike that feeling.

Our Guy Ty came over to fix the faucet out by the barn, and apparently the man can cure waterline ailments just by the laying on of hands, because it works now and all he did was play around with opening and closing the handle on it. He's not sure of the reason why, either, but we'll take it as a win. He hung around for a while to chat as he usually does, and we all talked about plans for the new pasture and shelter we want to add, bitched a bit about our barn, explained about the alpaca poo - the usual farm talk that takes place in this area. I really like him; he's a go-getter and has been since he was just a kid, but mostly I love his curiosity about new things. He's always loaded with questions about the alpacas; his dad is just the same when he's here. He's a wealth of information, too; I learned a lot of surprising things about dairy farming from talking with him.

We have several days of rain ahead of us, which is going to be a drag. There are things I want to do outside that can't be done while it's raining. Worse yet, the long range forecast is calling for six straight days of snow. I'm not freaking out too much yet about that, because the long range forecast is usually pretty iffy, but I'm telling you all now that if it turns out to be true, I may just go insane.

The bird is still around the paddocks. Mark has decided that we should name him Posca, after the character in Rome. Fine by me. Poor little thing. Hopefully the presence of the alpacas will keep him protected from the cats and the foxes and the other small predators that would like to have him for dinner.

And in closing, if you've never been nibbled by an alpaca, you're missing one of life's little treats :)

August 2015

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