Friday, May 12, 2006

Calendar Shuffle

March has arrived in Ohio. We're doing the months out of order this year. Just for fun. We just finished June - sunny and warm every day, with a rare thunderstorm. Before that was February. Now it's cold, windy, with a constant drizzle. It looks like we'll be stuck with this pattern for a little while. I guess we'll find out how effective our drainage work has been.

The poor goats got here just in time for it too. They are huddled in the corner of their shelter, looking perturbed. Goats apparently hate to get wet. We've got both shelters out there now because Betsy was trying to evict the little brown-and-white one. The little one is the hyper one, so maybe she was just getting on their nerves. They are all back together now. I do feel bad for them though. Acres of fresh pasture in sight, and they're stuck with hay and close quarters.

Dragging that second shelter out in the cold and rain was interesting. At least the mud was not too messy yet. But that thing is not light. The plan we built from recommended sandbags on the skids in case of high winds, but I'm thinking we'd need a small hurricaine to move them.

Yesterday a tractor came down the road mowing the ditches. The goats saw the guy on the tractor, and thought he looked like a suitable leader. They followed him, hesitantly at first, and then more enthusiastically. But they gave up after 20 yards. I guess they decided he wasn't such a great leader after all.

Despite the unpleasant weather, there are some positives about this sudden change. First, we needed the rain. It's been a pretty dry spring so far. Second, it's just cool enough to give me a chance to learn my way around the corn stove. I've already learned that you can't leave it on the lowest setting overnight. I've also learned a few suitable ways to get the fire started. (It's a timing issue. You've got to have a decent burn going before the corn starts feeding in. You've got three minutes.) And finally, I learned that on the #2 heat setting (#1 is the lowest), the heat combined with the small air circulating fan in the stove produce enough convection to actually turn our ceiling fan! Wow. I wonder what it's like on the #4 setting.

The other benefit of the dreary weather is that it will force me indoors for the weekend. The tractor is up on blocks in the garage, with a flat tire. And with everything that's been going on, our house hasn't fared well. Something in the sink is starting to smell. Or maybe it's the little compost can that hasn't made it to the worm bin yet. The ashes in the fireplace were starting to smell, because I didn't clean it out after the last fire. The cat box is starting to smell, because we haven't scooped it fast enough.

Speaking of the cat box, if you have cats, check out SwheatScoop Natural Wheat Litter. I love it when a natural product outperforms a conventional one. It clumps better, it smells less, it tracks less, and it isn't as dusty. At least that's our experience. It's also not all full of lame fragrance. It's about the same price as the regular clumping cat litter, and it seems to be widely available.

It's made from non-food grade wheat. They claim you can use the used litter as mulch on non-food-producing plants, as long as you've thouroughly scooped it. They also claim you can just flush it, even if you have a septic system. Can't say I've tried either.

Hopefully by next weekend we can get just a little more sunshine. Our frost-free date is just about here, so I can get my seedlings out of the basement and into the dirt. Ironically, my started seeds are doing better than the store-bought plants. If you were reading here a month ago, you might remember me buying plants at the store because my started seeds were so pathetic. Moving them to potting soil did the trick. The store bought ones are struggling. They may just be root bound.

I'm also planning my first attempt at a "three sisters" planting (corn, beans, squash, planted together), as well as some sunflowers and native wildflowers. The bulldozer doing the drainage work unintentionally made some nice seedbeds for me.

We've got quite a few wild flowers growing around the property already, but I can't identify them. I have a feeling many of them are going to turn weedy. Does anybody know of a good field guide for that sort of thing? At least the butterflies seem happy. Or they were until the wind and rain arrived.

So March is in full swing. I hope May is next. Or April. Anything but January...


At 5/14/2006 8:39 AM, Blogger Mia said...

I love the image of the goats following the tractor!

It has been blustery here as well. Even through the gloom I can distance myself just enough to be thankful that we've been forced to get out of the yard and catch up in the house.

Good luck with the three sisters. Remember to use climbing beans and not bush beans. Not that I'd know from Beo's experience. Not at all.


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