Daily Stuff


I have to laugh whenever someone says that I’m “retired.” First, I’m a little young for that, and second, if you’re on a homestead, you will NEVER retire. NEVER.

On a typical winter’s day, after starting the coffee, I feed the small critters, a dog and two cats. At least one cat inside, but on most mornings, the other one is outside. Speaking of, the dog needs to go outside too for a few minutes!

I try to get the fire in the furnace started before feeding time; it depends on much the constant meowing is annoying me . . . My perfected method of fire starting is (after emptying the ash pan) to throw all the little stuff in, add a big wad of newspaper or whatever I can scrounge from the burnables trash can, put a couple logs on top, and then use 17 matches to get it going.

I exaggerate. I normally only use seven . . .

By now, I’ve started the caffeination process of two cups while I read the news and catch up on email and so forth. The fire needs tending about every 15 minutes and, with any luck, the blower will kick on in about half an hour.

Or so.

Next, I layer up and whistle to the horses; they answer. If the temp is below, say, five degrees, I’ll take the farm truck to the barn. Otherwise, I use the Mule and spend another ten minutes getting it to A) start, and B) actually move. It prefers reverse.

I unlock and open the gate, providing the lock isn’t frozen, and open the barn and turn off the alarm. After doling out everyone’s grain rations in their buckets, I have to wrangle down a bale of hay.

This generally involves reaching and pulling until one works loose, then I jump out of the way in case more than one has chosen to cooperate.

I load up, making sure to have a hammer somewhere close at hand, and mosey on over to the pasture. Chestnut knows her spot, so dropping off her bucket is easy. I move around to the other side, by the gate, and take in Cody’s and Cav’s buckets. Cody still isn’t particularly interested, but Cav lets me hold the bucket while he eats. About halfway through his breakfast, I set it down and try to encourage Cody to eat.

That doesn’t work so well, so I ignore her and go get the hay, spreading it out in three different piles. Next, I have to break the ice on the water trough. The end result is available water, wet gloves, and ice freezing to my glasses.

Once back inside, I have to feed the fire again, and then I have regular household stuff, just like everyone else. Cleaning or dishes or laundry or meal planning and grocery list making. You know. Stuff.

If it’s bitterly cold, I’ll go back out to the pasture around noon with lunchtime hay. If it’s not, I’ll spend an hour or so doing chores out there or working with the horses.

And sometimes, after lunch, I’ll take a nap. Hey, it’s winter, amiright?

But there are also things to tend to in the greenhouse, and garden planning, and projects in the barn. And cooking dinner, and more dishes. And the constant, every hour on the hour, feeding the fire. See, if it goes out, we get cold. And it’s a right bitch to get started again.

By evening, I’m beat. It can be a real struggle to put on and take off six layers of clothing; I get plenty of exercise just doing that . . .

So we watch a lot of movies. Or I do some leather work, which I’m just getting back into, and I may yet give that knitting thing another shot. Or not. We’ll see.

 

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Work Wednesday—Farming and Fencing


Bringing you up to speed, we’re back it on the outdoor projects: farming and fencing. We  installed  the new wood furnace last week, and while we tested for draw, we haven’t actually used it yet:

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We picked up an old Ford field tiller at an auction, and that’s certainly making the groundbreaking easier in the garden extension. It took a day to pull down the fence, work up the ground in the current garden, and put the fence back up to keep the deer out of the orchard. Come spring, we’ll add on to the fence.

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Also borrowed a rock rake. Have to take care of this year’s crop, after all!

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The pasture fence posts are here! And some are in the ground—the pasture will be about 300 feet by 100 feet, or just over three-quarters of an acre. If we ever manage to get additional land, we’ll revisit this, maybe add another pasture for cows.

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In the meantime, we’re putting in an open pole barn for shelter and hay storage, because it looks like we might have a visitor from the neighbors: Chestnut, a seven-year-old sorrel mare who needs to be saddle-broke. No, I’m not planning on riding a bronc. She’s broke to harness, and needs some refresher courses.

Of course, I’m also the one who tripped over a landscape timber and had very sore knees for a couple days, so we’ll see how this goes. I’ll keep you updated!

Also found another Midnight-lookalike horse, from the Amish, who’s harness-broke. Very, very tempting . . . I messaged but haven’t heard back. Maybe I’ll call . . .