Saturday, May 31, 2008

auntie em!

A tornado watch was in effect for our area this afternoon – not a common occurrence our state. We got a frantic call from my LSH as we were waiting at a local farm to pick up corn. He needed help battening down the hatches.

Sometimes, I have to really hand it to my kids. Sometimes, they really manage to blow me away (pun not intended) with their helpfulness and sense of responsibility. Of course, that happens just enough for them to keep me guessing. The remainder of the time they drive me stark raving mad with their inability/laziness/refusal to pick up their dirty socks and wet towels.

We were just coming in from baseball (Primo) and soccer (Secondo and Terzo). The boys, still in uniform, threw off their cleats and jumped into their boots. Patio furniture was safely stored away, outside toys were stowed in their proper place (we could go on and on about how that should have been done when they were finished playing with them three days ago, but we would be wasting our breath), and the tractor and cart were moved into the barn. Doors were shut up tight, animals were moved to places with shelter, and hatches were generally battened down. Despite our assurances that the bunny would be OK, he was brought inside and nestled with food and water far from any windows.

We watched and waited from the safety of our kitchen. No tornado, but lashing wind and rain – a typical change-of-season storm. All was OK, but the sheep were definitely under cover and out of sight. Who says sheep are stupid?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

put a(nother) coat on

Things have been quiet around here because we have been quite busy on our latest house project. Those who know us know that we don't rush such things. We hated the paper in the kitchen from the moment we moved in six years ago. You can see it in the background of the soccer boy picture below.

But we knew that it was going to be a major project to change it. It was, we figured, original to the house, and it was not going to like being removed after 20 or so years on the wall. One snowy day in February, with the kids out of the house for a ski weekend with a set of grandparents, my LSH rented a steamer. Two sweaty, curse-filled days later, the paper was down. The walls remained bare for the next three months,* despite my FIL's assistance with spackling the bits of drywall that had come off with the paper.

But as a long weekend loomed, we decided we HAD to do something. A decision was made on color, thanks to a talented friend of mine who owns her own painting business. Furniture was moved out. Paint was purchased. Woodwork was taped. Walls were primed. We had passed the Point of No Return.

After finishing the ceiling, I cut out the walls with the new color, called "Moroccan Spice." My LSH promptly had a heart attack and second thoughts, in that order. Thanks to the color, however, we had passed the Point of No Return a second time.

Thankfully, once the second coat was rolled on, the paint color was closer to the chip. Unfortunately, it was such a rich color that I had to cut the edges a third time to get an even coat. And there are a lot of edges in this kitchen. As a matter of fact, there is barely any wall a roller can fit on. As I am anal retentive a perfectionist, I get the job of cutting. I gritted my teeth and tackled it this morning, with the end in sight....

Finally done! Now, all we have to do is remove all that blue masking tape after the paint dries. But horror promptly ensues, when the tape takes paint along with it. (I resisted the urge to run screaming into the night, but I did throw up a little in my mouth.)

I am Determined. To. Finish. This. Project. (Those of you who know me, try not to be too shocked.) I pulled out one of the boys' craft brushes and tackled the multiple bare spots, which may as well have spotlights on them, they are so glaring with this color.

NOW we are finally done. At least, I hope and pray. I will have to see what happens with the patchwork bits when the paint dries down, but I will not be responsible for my actions if I have to tackle those stinkin' edges again.

* Our reputation is such that when I told my best friend that we had finally started painting, her comment was "oh, you decided to do something with that?" I came back with a sarcastic reply ("what, did you expect us to live with bare walls for forever?!!") but you can't really blame the woman, seeing as how we lived with holes in our bedroom ceilings (after we removed sunlights) for three years. In the interest of full disclosure, we finally got them patched last summer, but the patches still remain unpainted...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

a guide to the madness

For those of you unfamiliar with our little corner of the world:

I am a knitter, spinner and general all-around crafter. I am not good at introspection and I don't have any clever, deep insight into why I enjoy making things so much. I just do. Work demands intrude into crafting time more often than I would like, so I compensate by grabbing every spare minute I can. Hence, my reputation as the weird mom who knits her way through baseball games, soccer practice, 4-H meetings, band concerts -- even in line at the bank drive-through.

I have been married to my wonderful long-suffering husband ("LSH") for fifteen years. He puts up, with very good grace, with my hare-brained schemes and general nuttiness. Sometimes he exercises his veto power. More often he just shrugs, sighs, and goes along. He runs his business from our house.

We have three boys: Primo, Secondo and Terzo. Before you lodge a protest with DYFS, those are not their real names, though those names are not unknown in the family of my italian-heritage father. The boys are (usually) the root of the majority of the madness around here.

We live in New Jersey on a small farm. We primarily raise sheep, but we also have chickens, vegetables, flowers and a rabbit, plus a dog and barn cats.

Let the record reflect that the sheep were my LSH's idea. I voted for llamas.

Monday, May 26, 2008

parade day

Our small town hosts a old-fashioned Memorial Day Parade. Everyone marches in it -- Little League, Boy Scouts, Shriners, high school marching band, FFA, preschools, random kids on their decorated bikes, you name it. I think more people are in the parade than actually lining the parade route to watch, but it is great for kids. It was our first time participating, despite living here for six years to the day. We certainly got a gorgeous day for it!

We loaded two sheep, a rabbit, a wagon and the kids bright and early, so we could offload before the parade route was closed off. The kids spent their extra time decorating their animals. The older two participated as 4-H members. Primo's ewe Giulia looked great in her flag attire:
While Oreo the rabbit had a snazzy cart (even if Primo did tease Secondo that people would wonder why he put the french flag on top of the rabbit cage):
Their club had not one, but two goat carts -- the other one was pulled by two goats. (Insert all goat cart jokes here. I think we heard every possible one on the parade route.)
Oreo was not too pleased by all the attention he received from the two-week old goat kids before the parade started. If it is possible for a rabbit to look snippy, he did. Here he is giving them the evil eye as they try to eat some of his decorations.

In our little group, the sheep led the way, followed by Oreo in his wagon, the goats and then the goat carts. We did our best to clean up after ourselves but the bagpipe group that was following us had to march through some inevitable messes. Sorry guys!

You can't see him, but Terzo was in the wagon just in front of the sheep, representing for his preschool. He was a bit bummed not to be with the animals but by this point (about one-half mile into the parade) we were all happy he had a lift.

Lest we not forget: thank you to all the servicemen and women who made the sacrifices this day commemorates.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

ready, set, grow

I was too tired to post last night, because we spent all day yesterday making up for a month's worth of lost time.

The garden was weeded, composted, hand turned (not by me, but by my minions strong husband and sons), and finally planted. Yes, I know we are very late this year. Yes, I know that we will get tomatoes in early September, at this rate. Nevertheless, it is done.

The entire sheep flock, with the exception of two, were wormed and had their hooves trimmed. New coats were put on as necessary. Curses were doled out to those sheep who had already managed to shred the coats put on six weeks ago. Sheep were moved to fresh pasture. Water tubs were scrubbed out and refilled.

Newborn kittens were discovered in the barn. Canned wet food was given to the proud mama. Plans were made to get everyone fixed asap. (Mama could not be caught before this, but now more nefarious means are being considered.)

One of our ewes turned up with a nasty infection on her udder, seemingly out of nowhere (though she did have a bad case of mastitis when she lambed this year). I will spare you the gory details but we did manage to gross out the kids who assisted while we cleaned her up. She is in quarantine and on the mend, hopefully.
A lamb was sheared, with plans to do her twin sister sometime later this weekend. After her initial panic, she was happy to be relieved of her heavy wool coat, which was already 3 inches long. Primo son did his usual great job: not one cut or nick.

And we all slept very, very well last night. The plans for today include painting the ceiling of the kitchen. My back is already circulating a petition of protest. So far my knees, right shoulder and the blister on my middle finger have signed.

Friday, May 23, 2008

the faster I go, the behinder I get

My to do list is a long one, chock-full of (overly) ambitious projects. And of course, the house is in its usual wrecked state. And did I mention that I am behind on my work? (What's new?)

So naturally, I had to go and create a blog.