Sunday, October 30, 2011

Turkeys in the backyard!

(to the tune of "Smokin' in the Boys Room)...

After the Farm Day yesterday (story of the weaving here), I picked up 4 turkeys on the way home. They were, of course, on CL, for $25/each. Since poults cost about $5/each, and then being fed for 6 months, this was a screamin' deal. Now, I know it's common to find turkeys in the store very soon for 49 cents/lb., but there is nothing that compares with home grown turkeys. Because of my move, I didn't raise turkeys this year, and it would mean that we didn't have a home-grown turkey for Thanksgiving.

These guys (and girls) are 6+ months old, and about 2 months past optimal butcher time - only because they're huge, not that they won't be tender. The one hen that I loaded up probably weighed 30 lbs. and the toms were much bigger (yield after butchering is roughly 65% of live weight). The folks I got them from were commenting that they were surprised that they ended up with a tom and hen of each breed (broadbreasted white and broadbreasted bronze). I explained that these turkeys cannot breed naturally because of their large pectoral muscles (the breast meat). While the toms certainly want to try, they can't assume the correct "position."

To give a little scale, they are in a "coop" of 34" hog panels. The toms' heads are just under the top... The peacock, who was kept with my former turkey flock, thinks he's a turkey. He seems happy to have a flock again, however temporary!

I'll keep them on grass for about a week (maybe two), then I'll harvest them and have 2 smoked, take one to San Diego for Thanksgiving and stow the other one in the freezer.

And I apologize if you have that song running through your head for the rest of the day...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stocking up, and production begins

We've been spending the last week stocking up: Hay and wood.
Since I had offered to help pay for hay in exchange for staying at Correy's, once the house closed, we started looking. Being the Craigslist addict queen that I am, I started searching. Correy called me with the number of one - by the time I called, they had sold 5 of their 8 tons - we took the rest. Then I found another and called - the farmer was eating dinner, according to his wife - I told her to have him call me, and I wanted 10 tons. She said, "Oh!"

When we were unloading the last 5 tons of the 10 tons, we had help:
Cedric Snoopervising
We had help from a couple of local farm boys to unload and stack the hay - we loaded the trailer. This was complicated for me by the fact that I had fallen off Annie and hurt my back. A back brace helped a lot, as did going to yoga twice a week. It's better, but I kinked it good, and it's taking it's own sweet time getting over its bad self...

Correy's aunt is District Biologist for the Ochoco Nat'l. Forest, so she knows where all the good wood gathering spots are. There was a thinned unit of juniper (the best stuff...) about 40 miles from home. I had to buy 2 new tires for the truck to make the trip, though... We took off in the morning, in a caravan of 4 trucks, with Lyra and Ruby, Correy's kelpie/border collie along for the ride.
Lyra and Ruby
We had help gathering wood, too:
Look Mom - I got some, too!
After working for a good long while, Bob (Correy's Squeeze) manning the chain saw, Correy and me loading the trucks, my truck was full:
It's good to have access from all sides...
There's no more room!
I managed to forget to take a picture of Correy's truck, but it was full, too. We figure we had about 2 cords of well-seasoned juniper to take home. Unfortunately, before we finished, Lyra found a dead dear carcass and liberated a front leg. She chewed it until she was bored with it, and then Ruby took over. Because Ruby had ridden in the back of Correy's truck, I got to take both stinky dead dear leg dog breath dogs back in the cab of my truck.  It was pretty awful, until they both laid down and went to sleep.

As we were driving out, Correy was waving her arm around, but I was too tired to realize she was trying to show me the flock of wild turkeys - she said they were huge! Bigger than most Broad Breasted Bronze mutants you usually see on tables around this time of year!

So, last Saturday, we got 3 tons of hay, Sunday, we got 2 cords of wood, Monday we got 5 tons of hay, Tuesday we went to yoga, Wednesday we got 5 tons of hay, Thursday, Correy went to yoga, today Correy and Bob went and got another 5 tons of (free) hay, while I warped my loom for a Farm Day demo tomorrow.

We decided that we'd either be in really good shape or completely crippled by the end of the week. The jury is still out on me - Correy's tired, but still kickin'! We still have more hay to get, but we're doing that sometime next week.

Next up - the turkeys are coming!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Of Rides and Riding

So, the last trip with the last "stuff" from the west side of the mountains is done. I'm over the hill (literally and figuratively). The house has closed escrow - YAY. Given that I'm going to be making periodic trips to Eugene for work, and that my truck a) gets great mileage for a truck, but still..., and b) it has 221-ish thousand miles on it, I thought I would look for a car to take those trips in.

Last week, I had to drive over to Portland area to meet with the folks that I'm doing contract work for, and thought while I was there, maybe I'd look. I found a Saab and a Subaru that looked promising. Now, I have always wanted a Saab, as long as I can remember. This one seemed like a good one, and I checked to see that there was a Saab mechanic east of the cascades (in Bend - he also does Subaru's). I called my sister (known as the "rational twin") to see what I should do.  She recommended the Subaru, since Saabs, while fun, are expensive to fix. I talked to my friend, Sandi, and she suggested calling the mechanic - Brilliant! 

So, I did. The guy didn't know me from Adam, but spent about 15 minutes talking to me about the pro's and con's of both cars.  He than asked me what I wanted the car for, and it turned out that he was selling one of his cars (he had 3) in my price range. I didn't look at the cars in Portland. I went back home on Wednesday, after staying with Linda Lou in Portland (see below), and Thursday am went to see the car.

I was in LUUUUV. It's a 98 Subaru Legacy GT, all-wheel drive sedan. While the odometer shows 189+K miles on it, it had a used engine put in at 180K, and a new clutch disk at 177K. The mechanic that owned it has worked on the car for years, and has all of the records. Since it is a 5 speed, it is very sporty, and it handles really well. It's very short, compared to the truck, but it has a lot of room. The back seats fold down giving access to the truck.  So, here it is:
The stereo is also very cool!!

I stayed at LindaLou's in the Multnomah Village area of Portland. We went to an awesome Thai restaurant, but before we ate, we went to the Multnomah Art Center, where the Portland Handweaver's guild was having a show. There were some awesome pieces (see Fiber Voodoo post for more pictures); Linda had 2 pieces (nuno felted) and there were a number of really lovely pieces.

I really like the colors in the second one, and the first one is cool because of the texture the felting made in the silk scarf.  Go Linda!!

The last trip over involved picking up Annie and bringing her home. She's now ridable, and is so different from the little mare that I dropped off in June. Since my trailer lights weren't working, I dropped it off at the Trailer Vet before I headed up to Portland.  When I headed back down to get Annie, I forgot to pick it up - what a moron... It was ok, since it wasn't done, anyway. So, I continued down, and Jordan showed me the "routine", and then rode her a bit.

Then I got to ride her. I was thrilled. I don't mount from the ground anymore (haven't for years), so I got a 5 gal. bucket to step up from (she's only 14 hands). She gave it the hairy eyeball, and then had to turn around to look at it when I stepped up on it (so had to move her back into position). She stands to be mounted, and moves out well to voice commands. She stops without resistance. We only had one "incident" - we were coming around the arena towards the bucket, which we had gone inside of before, and I wanted to go outside of it, but didn't give the message early enough.  She was heading straight for it, and got very worried. Her reaction is to jump forward slightly, and continue more rapidly. This form of "spooking" sat me down into the saddle, where I can't fall.

It took about 3 strides to get her settled, then we continued on, came down to a walk, and then stopped and removed the bucket!!

She's adjusting to life on the east side, where it has been raining so it probably seems like home. One of Correy's pony's thinks she is just beautiful... She shares a fence line with the rams, and that doesn't seem to concern her (I haven't had sheep while I've had her).

She is going to be a very fun pony to work with.  I found a very nice harness, which will the next part of her education.  More on that as it progresses.

I guess I have two new rides!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's Done!

Sorry for being incommunicado... Last Monday, after OFFF, I found out that the house was to close Oct. 7 - EEEK!

Correy and I went over to the house on Wednesday, and spent until Saturday mucking it out. We started the trip by stopping by to see Annie, who's training is coming along very nicely, and who will be coming home next week. Since that was later in the afternoon, when we got to the house, we (Correy) made a plan of attack - I can hear Amy snickering...

 My neighbors allowed us to hook into their water via a series of hoses so we could flush toilets and wash hands, etc. Over the next 3 days, with no electricity, we worked from can see to can't see, taking 4 or 5 loads of crap to the dump (I lost count). To put it in perspective, I lived there for 5 years, all but the last one in a lot of pain from very bad knees.  Not much got done... at all. 

After filling the sheep trailer (6 x 10 x 4) with save-able stuff, I arranged to exchange it for Jordan's (Annie's trainer) stock trailer to get the 16' panels home. By the time I got back to Walton with it, it had started raining - a lot. We did the Walton Wet T-shirt contest, loading it up. The house was as clean as we could get it, and my agent had told the buyer's agent since it was considered of no value, we weren't cleaning it thoroughly. We pulled out of Walton at around 5 and reached Prineville at 8:30pm, very tired and somewhat drier than when we started.

Yesterday, a whirlwind run to the valley to:
  • get the last load from the house
  • drop Kiri and Whoosie off at their new home
  • sign papers for the house closing.
The intent was to leave Prineville by 9 am.  I think we got out of the house to take the canopy off my truck, install the stock racks (purpose will be clear later), hitch up the stock trailer to return it, load the ponies at about 9:15. Needless to say, we didn't leave as early as planned.

We got to the valley about 1:15, and delivered Kiri and Whoosie to their new home. I'm glad that I got Kiri from the stockyard where she was bound for slaughter. When it became clear that she was pregnant, I wasn't thrilled, but figured it was a new experience for me, right? Now that Whoosie is 4 months old, Correy started working with both mares (her's is a new mom, too), and Kiri was not at all pleased to be reminded that she needed to be a horse. To be fair, she's probably been shuffled around alot (which I just did, too), so she has probably learned to buffalo people to get her way. To make it clear to her that it's not ok takes physical punishment, and I have a hard time doing that. I've tried being nice, using treats as bribes, but until you physically show her you are the boss, she's not buying it. I don't need to work that hard with a horse.  She's now with a early-20's young woman who, though looking like she's a sweet young thing with firey red hair, takes no shit. They have a 5+ acre pasture that is shared with 7 alpacas, and at least one cow. There is shelter and it will be a very good place. Since the new owner is a friend of Correy's daughter, Brin, I can get updates on her progress.  If nothing else, they will keep them as pasture pets.

We left there and went into Eugene to get lunch (it was 2:30). Since it would not make sense to drive out to Walton just to turn around for my appointment to sign, I called the Escrow officer and made arrangements to go in earlier. After signing (which was kind of fun - she had handled the previous failed escrow), we went out to the house to load up.

There was some wood from 7 trees that the sheep had girdled, already cut and well seasoned, which we took for Correy's wood stove.  This was the purpose of the stock rack - a support for stacking up the wood.  We picked up 4 pallets (one can never have too many on a farm), the two hoses from last weekend, a couple of boards and cut the 20' pvc into roughly 10' lengths. There were also many more canning jars (gold, if you have them) and a bunch of sheep coats.  When we were fully loaded the truck was wallowing. After picking up Brin to give Correy some "daughter time," we picked up the previously filled and parked sheep trailer to bring it home.

After dropping Brin off in Springfield, we headed back up the mountain IN THE RAIN. We went very slowly (max 50 mph) because of the load. It was snowing on the top of Santiam pass, but just barely starting to stick on the side (the road was just wet). Once over the top and out of the clouds, we could see stars - a welcome sight.

We pulled in at 10:30 - exhausted, wobbly and ready for bed. This is what we hauled back over the mountain. 
Note the tires...
Thursday, I just wanted to veg, but I had 2 traffic plans to do by Friday, the truck and trailer to unload, and 2 loads of laundry to do! And Correy and I dragged our sorry sore butts to Yoga. After Yoga, I became a veg. To make up for it, I worked until midnight on traffic control plans (just one more plan...), and then was too tired to sleep.

The buyer of the house was supposed to be signing Thursday, with funding and closing Friday. She didn't. I lost it... She decided she had to know if she still got the forest deferral (on taxes) if she logged off the property.  First, there is not enough lumber on the deferral plot to log right now - the trees are maybe 15 years old. Second, this was not a contingency, so wtf??  She finally signed Friday, after completely pissing off the escrow officer (not a good thing, I can tell you!!). The lender had already funded the loan, so we'll close on Monday,but because the banks are closed for Columbus Day, I won't have the $$ in my pocket until Tuesday. At least there's $$... I'm very grateful for that!

The traffic control plans turned into a bigger job than I had anticipated - one job turned into 8 sheets, good for the pocket book, but really hard on the wrists.  I need to get a more ergonomic set up in the trailer to do these.  I'm meeting with the company owners, etc., on Tuesday - I've been working for them without the "Hi, welcome to the company - here's how we do things", which has been a little frustrating.  I'm looking forward to all of us being on the same page, or at least in the same book!!

There's still organizing to do, and I need to get 5 dowels for my warping reel so I can warp my loom. I hope to get that done this weekend.  It will be good to get back to weaving.