Archive for April, 2011

Saturday Was Just a LITTLE Busy

The guy that shears my sheep called late Thursday night. He was in Georgia shearing and wanted to give me a heads up that he’d be in my area Friday. AAAAAARGH! Normal people have Miller Time on Friday. I have panic time. He also said he’d tried to contact one of my friends but got no answer.

I called back and left a message (because he was busy shearing) that the very, very earliest I could be home was 4:00 p.m. if I left early so don’t come to my house first thing! When I got home Friday afternoon, I called one of my friends to see if he’d sheared her sheep yet.

“No, and he was supposed to be here at 11! He’s out at Janet’s place. Why is he shearing HER sheep first and not ours?”

“Uh, because you didn’t answer your phone, and I wasn’t going to be home until late?”

“Well, I didn’t recognize the number.”

“HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU KNOW FROM IOWA?”

She was in a panic because her husband had just had an operation and therefore they had people over to help with the sheep, but the people had to leave soon. She is not a strong woman, and the prospect of sheep wrestling had her filled with dismay.

Cool. I’d have plenty of time to clean out the shearing area (covered with a year’s worth of sheep manure and chicken manure), get some cattle panels for crowding the sheep, find the halters, call the rams in with the ewes, feed the sheep, catch and separate the lambs so they wouldn’t be trampled, run some power cords (since the rats chewed through the electric lines in that barn and they need to be replaced with lines in METAL conduit, a project SwampMan was going to do next week so we’d be ready when the shearer came), then feed the horses, put feed and water in and then move all the pens to fresh grass that have hens with chicks (3), ducks with ducklings (1), the pen with the white rock chicks (1), the pen with the injured hen on the nest (1), feed and water the free ducks, the penned adult ducks, move the two hoop houses with laying hens to fresh grass and put in fresh water/feed, feed and water the chickens sitting on eggs in the stationary house and pen (1), feed the horse and check her water, feed and water the two dogs and one cat at the house, and go out to Mike’s barn and feed and water the two cats from daughter’s house and scoop out the litter box before he arrived.

By 8 p.m., I was finished with the outside chores and called to see whether I had time to get something to eat.

“He’s got seven more sheep to shear.”

“How many you got now?”

“We’ve only got 12. One of the livestock auctions quit taking sheep, and we only got $40 each from the other one.” Dang. That’s a two hour drive one way, too. I sell mine privately for $100 each, and they come get them! I kept that to myself.

SwampMan and I hurried out and picked up some BBQ to go. We came back home, ate, and about that time my friend called.

“We’re having a really hard time catching these sheep. He said he’d be at your house in a couple hours and then shear all night. He didn’t finish until 4 a.m. this morning in Georgia.”

“Good grief! You tell him that it will not hurt me one tiny little bit to wait until morning to get my sheep sheared so that he can get some rest!”

“Okay, I’ll tell him and call you back if he wants to rest, and if I don’t call, he’s gonna shear all night.”

About 45 seconds later, the phone rang. “He’d really like to get some sleep tonight if it’s really okay with you.”

“YES!”

“Okay, he said he’d see you about 7:30 in the morning.”

“You tell him I’m going out to the barn now and turning my sheep loose, so he can’t change his mind about shearing at midnight!”

I was so relieved. My feet were killin’ me, and I really needed to pop an anti-inflammatory and kick back and relax until 6 a.m., when it would be time to catch the sheep by feeding them and separate the smallest lambs out so they wouldn’t be trampled, and feed the other livestock.

I was outside at dawn on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day. The sheep catching/separating went well and, after breakfast, the sheep were happy to lay in the shaded barn and chew their cud. I had just re-run the power cord from the porch to the barn (I picked it all up last night so that puppy wouldn’t chew it up and electrocute himself) when I heard the rattle of his truck coming down the driveway. I ran to get the gate.

“I thought you wouldn’t have time for breakfast, so I picked you up something from McDonald’s”, he said as he came through the gate and handed me a bag. Heh. My shearer really takes good care of me!

He remarked about how good a shape my lil’ flock was in, considering the lack of pasture. Yep. I might as well chop up dollar bills and scatter ’em in the feed troughs, of course, because of the price of feed! He told me that he’d sheared llamas up in Georgia then at Janet’s house, he’d sheared some sheep, then a llama and an alpaca, and the neighbors started bringing in their llamas, and then one had gotten loose and it took an hour to catch him, then the owner wanted him to castrate it because it had gotten mean and killed some sheep, so he did. That’s why he didn’t get to my friend’s house until 8 hours later than planned!

“There’s a lot of people suddenly with llamas and alpacas, more than sheep around here. They makin’ any money with them thangs? I just don’t see any profitability there. At all.” After all, if I want to get rid of my flock (or chickens), I can just put an ad in the paper or eat ’em myself or fill my family’s freezers for Christmas (Merry Christmas! Here’s a dead sheep all nicely wrapped in white freezer paper with little red bows. There’s a couple dead ducks and some dead chickens, too, in the gift bags.) It is a little more problematic to get rid of a meanass llama. Well, I suppose you could just shoot the sumbitch, but then that’s a big dang hole to dig, and I’m kinda lazy.

The shearer said he didn’t see where anybody was makin’ any money from those things (llamas and alpacas) except sellin’ ’em to each other.

He usually buys a mismanaged flock of sheep from the auction, feeds ’em out on good pastures, puts a ram in with ’em, and sells a nice fat flock of ewes and lambs in the spring. Usually he makes money at it, buying at @ $30, selling over $100. The past year, though, he had to pay $70 and the price dropped to $30 at sales time, so he decided not to sell. He had enough hay put up so that it wasn’t gonna cost him too much. *sigh* Grass hay up there costs @ $2.50 a bale. Grass hay here costs between $6 and $7 a bale.

He’d had a partially detached retina while he was shearing earlier in the year in the upper midwest, and had to head back home and get it fixed. He said while he was shearing, he could only see his hand about a foot in front of his face but couldn’t see his nails. He sheared by feel. He drove his big truck home the next day (I dunno how) and saw an opthalmologist, who fixed him up with laser surgery. He told the doctor that he had a big flock to shear the next day several states away. The doc told him to wear goggles and don’t do anything that could jar his body real bad, and he should be okay, and come back when he was finished and get his cataracts taken care of. He left that day and sheared the flock the next, then went back and had cataract surgery, then back to work. Our hard-working shearer is almost 70 years old.

Neither one of us was movin’ real fast, but I had another sheep lined up for him as soon as he finished one, caught another, and came back and skirted the last fleece and did some skirting of the next while he was shearing (skirting is removing the butt fleece that is stained with urine and dung, throwing away the belly fleece and the leg fleece and the head fleece). Some of the ewe fleeces I just took and threw over the fence onto a waiting piece of plywood to be hauled out to the garden for mulch. The lambs had played jump on momma’s back while she was relaxing in the shade and chewing cud, and some of the fleeces were in pretty bad shape. The older sheep, too, had been rubbing on fence posts and breaking off huge chunks of wool, and over the fence the wool went. I kept 12 nice fleeces which are bagged and ready for me to start washing.

The shearer left after arguing with me that he felt bad bacause I had overpaid him so much (and I told him that one year I might not be able to afford his full price the way things are going and might have to get a discount so consider it prepaying, and he countered with that if I were having a really hard time he’d still show up and shear my sheep for free so I didn’t need to prepay him). Heh. Our usual ending argument. The price of gas has gone up so much that he needs to raise his prices, but people are struggling so much financially that he feels too bad for them to do it and, in actuality, they might not be able to afford it if he did. This year I can still afford to pay more so I will.

I closed the gate behind him at 11 a.m. and went to see how SwampMan was progressing with fixing the oil leak in his truck. He was dropping the drive shaft when I went to talk to him.

“I’m going to need you out here helping me.”

Oh, dear. So now you know how the rest of my day went. It went something like this:

“Hand me the ratchet. It’s by my left leg.”

Stepping across legs protruding out from underneath truck. “Where you goin? I SAID I need my ratchet!”

“I’m getting your ratchet!”

“It’s not THERE! It’s on the other side, DAMNIT!”

“No, it’s….”

“JUST BE QUIET AND WALK BACK OVER TO WHERE I TOLD YOU THE DAMN THING WAS. NOW GET IT FOR ME!”

“It isn’t there!”

‘YES IT IS! DAMNIT, CAN’T YOU DO ANYTHING I ASK YOU TO DO WITHOUT ARGUING ABOUT IT?”

“It isn’t there!”

‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT ISN’T THERE, OF COURSE IT’S THERE!”

“I’m looking at it beside your RIGHT leg.”

People that are on their backs underneath a very heavy vehicle that is supported by jackstands really ought to be more polite to their significant other. Just sayin’.

“I need my long ratchet extension. Do you see it anywhere?”

“Is that it over there on the other side?”

“THAT’S A DAMN TORQUE WRENCH! YOU’VE BEEN HELPING ME FOR HOW MANY YEARS, AND YOU DON’T KNOW A TORQUE WRENCH FROM A RATCHET EXTENSION?”

Fine. I calmly went through the tools that were scattered around beside the truck next to his legs.

“You find it yet?”

“Nope.”

“DAMNIT, it has to be there.”

“It isn’t.”

“You know what it looks like?”

“I’m too stupid.”

“I NEVER SAID YOU WERE STUPID, DAMNIT! You just worry too much about stupid things.”

“Hmmmmm.”

“Well, where is it?”

“Dunno. It ain’t over here.”

After about five more minutes, a voice underneath the truck said that there was a slight possibility that it might be on the torque wrench. Whoda thunk.

By about 6 p.m., SwampMan’s truck was put back together, and he wasn’t squished. Good thing I got better natured as I got older.

Then it was time to feed and water the horse, chickens, dogs, cats, ducks, chicks, ducklings, coax the sheep in from the pasture for the night, and unload a few hundred pounds of feed and some bales of hay from my vehicle. The last hour, I was gritting my teeth from the pain in my feet as I made my rounds. I limped inside about 9 p.m.

“What’s for dinner?”

“I dunno. Whatever you want to make. You’re cooking.”

SwampMan was too tired to cook, so he went off to bed. I tried to go to sleep, but I was too tired and my feet hurt too much to sleep! After about an hour, I nuked some Ramen noodles, then back to try to get some sleep.

Today, of course, is a laundry/ironing/housecleaning/dishes washing/dusting/trash burning marathon. The ironing is mostly done. There are clothes in the dryer yet but, if I remember to get them out in time, they should be okay for work as they are. I’m about to vacuum, dust (aaaahCHOO!), mop the kitchen, wash the dishes, fold the rest of the clothes, and get started on the bathrooms. Then I need to start feeding and tending the garden and clean last week’s mud off the filthy porches. Oh, and I need to put up a fence in the front yard.

I hope I can get to all of it, but unless there’s a drastic change in my day, I probably *sigh* won’t.

So now y’all know why my posts have creative punctuation, grammar, and spelling. I write things on the fly and don’t always have time to proofread and fix the booboos!

Comments (5) »

It Just Don’t Seem Right, Somehow

My son is a hirsute, tattooed young man with an attitude, a *very* dangerous job, and lots of weapons.

He came callin’ last night to drop off some more strawberry plants for me. We were standing around outside talking while he slapped at skeeters. After a little while, he announced that he would have to leave because he was being eaten alive.

“Since when did you start bein’ such a candyass?” I teased.

“Since I quit livin’ in a dang SWAMP!”

So it seems weird somehow that my son, the very one that complained loudly and often about slavedriving mothers who force their children into servitude in the garden, tells me that he and his hairy, tattooed, muscle-bound, gun-carryin’, beer-guzzling, deer-huntin’ iron worker friends are trading compost recipes, braggin’ on their tomato plants, starting shrubs and trees from cuttings and trading them with each other, saving seeds, and competing to see who has the biggest garden yields. He wants me to start him some eggs in the incubator so that he’ll have his own source of chicken, er, manure for his compost. He got several truckloads of well-composted chicken poo from another friend of his that used to have chicken houses, and he’s delighted with the results. He’s also taken up canning (*thud*).

So, moms and dads, you just never know. Sometimes the kids that complain loudest about being forced to help out in the family garden (or with the family livestock, or in the family business) end up enjoying it immensely and thanking you for it when they get older. Often they’ll surpass your skills.

But it still seems weird.

Comments (2) »

Grocery and Gas Prices Up Again, People are PISSED.

Gas prices jumped 14 cents per gallon over the weekend; groceries were sharply higher, too. I complained that I only got half as much feed as normal Friday and paid twice as much for it. Monday, I got a few (VERY few) groceries and dog and cat food and paid $136 for it. The line at the checkout counter was NOT happy.

I heard Obama cursed up one side and down the other, and the rest of the Federal government wasn’t far behind. People know EXACTLY who to blame for high oil prices (no drilling!) and the lack of jobs (over regulation!) and the financial mess (Feds taking bribes instead of upholding the law).

This summer should be real interesting when people can’t pay for their air conditioning bills or groceries.

It isn’t going to take much for mobs to take to the streets. Hell, I might go myself.

Comments (2) »

SONOFABITCH! (AGAIN)

This has not been a good year decade for me financially, though I have been blessed in other ways. I have a wonderful husband. The kids and grandkids are all fine and in good health. I still have one surviving rosebush that the sheep haven’t broken out and eaten (yet). So maybe I shouldn’t complain too much.

HOWEVER, this morning rambouillet ewe had her first lambs, a set of male twins. Lovely lambs. Little sale lambs that will help me afford things like feed and hay and property taxes. She was taking good care of them, so I went on my way and left her alone for about an hour while I was taking care of other chores.

Then it intruded on my conscious that she was calling, calling, calling her lambs. I let the other sheep out to pasture and went to see what was wrong. I quickly found one lamb that was taking a nap and ignoring mommy, but couldn’t find the other for awhile….until mommy led me to it behind a gate. It had apparently gotten separated from mommy, maybe following another lamb or ewe, and had gotten behind a gate and had tried to go through the fence and gotten tangled very badly in the fence wire and hung itself. AAAAAARGH! I checked his mouth, and it was still hot. I checked the heart and it was stopped. I tried chest compressions and respirations, but he was gone.

There are some times you just gotta throw up your hands and say screw it. I’m losing money AGAIN this year.

Leave a comment »

Somebody Needs to Make a Pill For That

I got off the phone with a friend that was just beside herself that her young daughter was putting up with a verbally and financially abusive second husband, a young man with a rap sheet longer than most criminals with a 20-year crime record, after having been abused in her first marriage which ended when THAT husband was put into prison. She was very worried about the safety of the children and hoped that his (second husband’s) latest probation violation would put him in prison for 20 years. *sigh* Her daughter is a lovely young woman. She takes good care of her children. She works hard. Why in the world would she accept being treated so badly?

Then my friend told me about the latest between herself and her boyfriend. He treats her badly, just as badly as her previous husband had treated her. I’d been begging her to leave that husband for years, but then she jumped into a relationship that was just as bad as the one that she left. My friend works hard. She took good care of her children. Why in the world would she accept being treated so badly?

I know that my friend’s mother before her had had a series of husbands who treated her badly. *sigh* Could it be that if somebody isn’t abusive, they don’t feel like they are loved? I think that whenever they get into a situation where they are subjected to abuse, it feels familiar, like home. So, mothlike, they circle around that flame and singe themselves over and over, never leaving the circle of flame to find out that there are other, safer, but perhaps less exciting relationships out there in the gloom away from the flame.

My friend said that she had just realized that she takes care of herself and doesn’t need a man, so she was going to stay away from ’em. THANK YOU! I hope she means it this time. Those grandbabies are going to need all her help to break the cycle.

It isn’t just women, though, that are making bad relationship choices. A man I know who is a GREAT person has been divorced four times, and he’s fifteen years younger than me! He’s only attracted to batshit crazy, though. Normal women are invisible to him. A bipolar woman off her meds will suck him in like a goose through a jet engine. You’d think that after a couple of times of having his life and finances nearly destroyed, he’d swear off, but nope. He’s still out there chasing the crazy ones.

Somebody ought to make a pill for that.

Comments (6) »