Conundrumm

“I married my best friend” is a bit of a tired cliche. How often is it really the truth? How do you truly know this statement to be fact? And if that statement is put to the ultimate test and proven to be true, what do you do then?

It seems like a lot of relationships start out as infatuation/lust. Sometimes they develop into genuine friendship but all to often couples rely on that friendship developing over time and through life experiences, that can be a bit iffy. Men get their head turned by a pretty face or cute figure while women like bad boys and all too often overlook what’s right in front of them. That’s a broad generalization but good enough for where I’m going with this. How many people do yo you know that tell everyone that they are married to their best friend while finding excuse after excuse to be anywhere but around their spouse? I can still remember when I matured enough to realize that all too many people can’t wait to complain about their partner, in fact it almost becomes a badge of honor to talk trash about your “best friend”.

My wife truly was my best friend. Trust was something we had right from the start, respect was never lacking, and secrets were something shared and never kept from each other. I knew for a fact that I married up and was amazed every morning when I woke up and realized she wasn’t a dream. Maybe that is part of the puzzle of finding that perfect friend, we both thought we had found someone better than ourselves and worked constantly to be worthy of each other’s love and respect. So how can I say with such certainty that Karen was my best friend? Because when faced with the ultimate test, the sudden and irreversible severing of that friendship, I find myself completely lacking in the knowledge and skills to have and be a friend.

Karen and I were married in 1986 when we were both 21 years old. Karen had been part of the popular clique in school while I had been the opposite end of the spectrum spending most of my time behind the scenes figuratively and literally. Looking back now I never really developed any life long friends until meeting Karen, while she heard from friends from high school all the time I truly can’t remember the last time I talked to someone I was close to from back then. I spent 30 years looking forward to getting home just to be around my best friend. Actually I was rather anti-social, my go-to response when asked if I wanted to go golfing, hunting, drinking, or pretty much anything was “I’ll check with Karen”. That response probably made some friends think “boy is this guy whupped” but the reality was it was just an excuse not to be away from my bestie. Usually I never even discussed it with Karen cause I would rather be with her.

Now that she’s gone it’s the quiet support, the knowing she was always there that I miss the most. If we went somewhere she was my guide, she was never awkward and approached all situations with confidence. Now I’m consumed with doubts and anxiety at just the thought of accepting an invitation. How do you know you’re not bothering someone? How long is too long to stay? Do they really want me here or do they just feel sorry for me? And most important of all, who’s going to elbow me if I slip into my “Union Meeting” voice or get to preachy?

Karen was my validation, seems like everything I did was anchored to her. Sure I did stuff that pissed her off, that’s normal (whatever “normal” really is) and just like a child testing boundaries I usually didn’t do that again. Where and how do you find that stability, that continuity, that reassurance we all need after a stressful day, week, month, year? Lots of people may tell you that “I’m here for you” or “if you ever need to talk” but how do you get that voice in your head that’s screaming “you’re being a bother!” to shut up? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. Practicing a bit of self regulation before reaching out does seem to muffle that little jerk inside my head a wee bit.

What can you (I) do once you (I) have recognized you’re (I’m) in this circular world of needing contact, support, and validation but not believing you’re (I’m) worthy of it? As with most everything in life Practice is the key. Practicing self regulation makes reaching out just a little bit less scary. Practicing mindfulness makes the inevitable missteps less painful. Practicing being a friend helps others realize that they too are worthy of love and affection.

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The Continuum

What do you do when the lights go out?

Find a candle.

August of seventeen found me sitting in the dark with no sense of where to look for the light that had gone out on SuperBowl Sunday of that same year. In hindsight the darkness was so complete I wasn’t able to see that light still existed, just not where I had grown accustomed to it being for the past 33 years.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time the first sparks that were trying to lead me to that light were all around me. My dear friend, Jennifer, sent me a link to an app called “Headspace”, before I knew what was going on I found myself spending 10 minutes a day in my back room meditating no matter what else was going on. On a lonely Saturday night emptiness and thoughts of Richard, a friend I hadn’t talked to in quite awhile, resulted in me sitting in the home of two unique and genuine people. We talked, chanted, meditated, and talked some more. I heard and felt things that made no sense but the validity of the experience was never in doubt. In fact when I mentioned to these friends that a decade ago I wouldn’t have even entertained or listened to what I had just experienced, Lauranna’s comment was simply “that’s why the storm that blew through then was unable to extinguish the light, she new you weren’t ready and couldn’t handle it”.

Shortly after that experience I was on a bit of a manic mission that took me from Oceanside CA to Klamath Falls Oregon and back in just over 48 hours. Along the way I stopped in Lassen Volcanic NP, Crater Lake NP, Redwood NP, and Pinnacles NP. During those long hours driving my truck NPR was my steadfast companion, all NPR seemed to talk about though was how mindfulness, meditation, and Yoga were for everyone not just hipsters and bendy young women. A woman named Jessamyne instantly became the breathe of fresh air causing that candle flame to burn just a little bit more noticeably. I signed up for the YogaGlo app and did some practices at home, something was lacking though. Thus began my search for studios in my area, unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough to overcome the perceived stereotype and just kept trying to figure it out at home.

Dark lonely nights seem to be when what your truly looking for finds you. August 9, 2017, my 31st wedding anniversary, was one such night. Isolating and looking inward after a long day at work I opened Facebook and a post jumped out at me, Yoga at an old VFW hall downtown on Wednesday nights, seemed just right. I sent a message to the host of the group and then fretted when I didn’t hear back immediately. Little did I know that a simple post on Facebook would lead me to the candle I was looking for. People whose candles burned brightly, despite the personal darkness trying to consume them, all of a sudden came into my life. Alison, Danielle, Joyce, Darwin, Ziya, Nichole, and so many others literally and figuratively showed me the way.

My personal practice began through this month long awakening, that practice is ever evolving, expanding, and enhancing the flame on my candle. The fear of that candle blowing out is a constant just like the dark spot created when Karen’s candle blew out will always be there in my heart. Regular practice has helped me to not only find one candle in the dark, but to add candles in other places to help weather the storms that threaten the flame inside.

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I’ve got a headache

Headaches, do they really need to rule your day? or are they more just a symptom of apathy or depression? Today mine is all about the weather drying out and my sinuses protesting the change. Looking back though I realize that just maybe “i’ve got a headache” has been my internal excuse for just veging out rather than getting to those projects that need to get done.

Just about my biggest “headache this past year has been attacks on my flock. If my recollection is correct my flock has been hit by no less than 3 dog attacks, 1 coyote attack, and one disease infection. This repeated building up and then having my flock decimated has taken it’s toll, while still maintaining that my chickens and ducks are livestock it is very disheartening to see their lives wasted.

To that end I have been working to build housing that is more secure for them at night and also more aesthetically pleasing (gotta keep Tuey happy now that we’re up on the hill).

coop

Sample Design

Tuey saw this coop in Fernley last year when picking up some Crested Cream Legbars and liked it so much she took a picture and sent it to me. Since last summer I haver been supposed to build a prototype, but that damn headache kept interfering.

Escape Hatch?

Escape Hatch? 

Last weekend I finally got started by building the floor and run.

The Floor

The Floor

Overgrown Nails?

Overgrown Nails?

The above pic shows what happens when you forget to flip off the repeater switch on your nail gun after sheathing your shed roof.

Today I started on the framing for the hen house.coop8 coop9 coop

Tomorrow I hope to get the sheathing on (I am not gonna turn that damn double tap back on!!) Then my Sweety, Karen, can start painting. Having a project going sure does push those pesky headaches into the background.

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Things Knead to get done

Last weekend I planned on continuing my more detailed exploration of small-scale fodder production, during the week leading into the weekend I collected stats and took pictures. On Friday something clicked in my head and I had an overwhelming urge to make bread from scratch, BOOM distraction #1.While searching for a recipe (Sponge method had stuck in my head as being the “better” way to make flavorful bread) I found this great Blog about food that appears to be very down to earth and real and not filled with foody propaganda. The phenomenon of “trendy” has always intrigued me. Last year Paul Wheaton’s highly practical permies.com got me thinking about the permaculture thang and inspired a post, now a well written blog on real food made my head leap to the religion of foody’s. SQUIRREL! Back to bread.

Sponge after an overnight ferment

Sponge after an overnight ferment

Post Kneading

Post Kneading

Ready for first rise

Ready for first rise

post second rise

post second rise

finished product

finished product

It can only be genetic, my Grandpa used to make bread every Christmas and Thanksgiving. I like to believe it was probably a connection back to his Momma or maybe even his Grandpa kinda like it is with me. My sister, Lorri, tells some great stories about our formative years and has done a great job of painting a very vivid picture of the Great man who was my Grandpa on her Blog “The King of Isabelle Avenue”. Lorri’s posts sometimes make me laugh but never fail to make me cry.

SQUIRREL

The second thing that hit me was the reality that while I had been fat, dumb, and happy believing that I had been living up to my responsibilities to my Sweety, Karen, by working on the house, the reality was that I had been rationalizing dumping the moving responsibilities on her. In acknowledgment of this fact I am diligently trying to direct my weekend project efforts towards rectifying this issue. First Step was setting a goal in my head of getting Karen’s birds moved up to Clayton.

First panel cut free

First panel cut free

The Aviary

The Aviary

Results of cutting a couple hundred hog rings

Results of cutting a couple hundred hog rings

We worked together and got her outdoor aviary disassembled, loaded, and moved up to Clayton on Saturday. While not a total resolution to the Bird’s it is a start. Now Karen needs to decide on the place so I can get a few more blisters hog ringing that sucker back together. That gets us to the first part of this week and Karen tackling one bedroom at a time at the old house when she gets approached by a neighbor who is going to have to move because their landlord is selling the house they rent. They are a really nice working class hispanic family with kids going to school in the neighborhood and are interested in renting our house……around the end of the month! So now the terrible process of emptying the Griffith house of 30 years worth of accumulated stuff is being accelerated. And I wonder about getting nostalgic and a bit depressed all at once?

SQUIRREL

What else could happen along with all of this? My sons Husky, Michone, broke into my coup for the second time in less than a month last Saturday night. Laura Rittenhouse wrote about her experience with this type of terrible event on her blog, in fact it rather knocked her for a loop. I work very hard to keep a more detached mindset towards my flock, constantly reminding myself that they are livestock and steadfastly refusing to name them. All of that sounds good but even with the plan developing for our “processing” this spring break when my nephew Grady was here it still gets to you. Approximately ⅓ of my chickens and all but 2 of my ducks were killed in the first attack, the second attack got another 5 chickens and both of the 2 remaining ducks (including the one exception to my naming rule, Ducken, the little drake who thought he was a chicken). Am I mad about this? Not really, more just sad. There are 2 fences between where Michone is supposed to be and the chickens and she was just following her instincts. If you read this Laura I hope you find your way back to the Blogosphere, I truly miss your wonderful writing style and so want to learn more about bee-keeping and everything going on at your new place.

SQUIRREL

This mornings attempt

This mornings attempt

Back to the present, the two loaves that I made this morning wouldn’t take near as much flour and seemed to be slow to rise. The finished product turned out good but different than last week, a little denser, a little less sweet, and slightly nutty. Trying to expand my bread making knowledge I reviewed everything I did and used , this led me to discover that not only do I have selective hearing (Karen tells me about this all the time) but apparently I have selective reading as well.

Fancy Flour

Fancy Flour

I picked this up at Trader Joe’s yesterday thinking that it was that new fangled faux wheat flour that is really just bread flour with a little bit of bran ground up real fine and used it 50/50 with my regular bread flour. Looking at the label now I can’t explain how I came to that conclusion. My wheat bread ain’t bad though.

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Fodder from soup to nuts, or maybe seed to feed?

I know I have posted about fodder before, in this post in November I really thought I had it all figured out. WRONG, just like anything else in agriculture I am coming to believe that no-one ever has it all figured out. This Facebook Group has really educated me about how woefully uninformed I am. Todays post is going to outline day 1 of my fodder process, please feel free to share your differences or similarities.

Soak Bucket

Soak Bucket

I switched to 80 oz. Painters buckets from lowes or home depot, they are cheap and just the right size for soaking. The larger buckets I was using didn’t seem to give me as consistent germination rate, my theory is that with the seeds being spread out more some areas would dry out more than others. Who knows?

Red Wheat

Red Wheat

Today’s batch is Red Wheat with a bit of safflower mixed in. Why safflower? My Sweety, Karen, had given my a bag of sprout mix intended for parrots and it was mostly Safflower and had gotten dumped in my bucket before I moved to my current process. Now rather than just one big bucket of sprouting seeds I keep two; the first is primarily Red Wheat with a diminishing amount of safflower, the second is 100% barley. Right now the barley is producing the prettiest fodder but I still rotate, one day barley the second wheat. Why?  Variety I guess, I don’t have any real reason other than it feels like the right way.

1.7o Ounces of wheat seed

1.7o Ounces of wheat seed

A recent change I have made is reducing the amount of seed per batch from 4.5 cups to 3 cups. The wheat was fermenting a bit and I decided to see if reducing the depth of the seed bed in the trays would help, I’ll let you know if it does. Today Karen brought her kitchen scale home so that I can track what my seed to fodder conversion is, I keep reading of 1-6 and 1-7 ratios but don’t know.

Soaking the seed

Soaking the seed

Seed Draining

Seed Draining

The seed gets soaked for about 6 hours, I tried longer soaks but definitely saw an increase in funk with the 24-36 hour soak times. During the soak period I lift and plunge the buckets several times thinking that the agitation will help thoroughly wet the seed and help keep down the funk via aeration. After soaking the seed stays in the buckets being wet down daily for two days at which time they get dumped into the trays. I will outline that process in my next post.

Soaking/Laundry Sink

Soaking/Laundry Sink

P.S. This sink that my Sweety got me was one of the best improvements in the process so far! Outside the critters were always getting into my stuff, and in the kitchen Karen was always in my stuff. Now that the whole operation is confined to the Laundry room things are much smoother and controllable.

 

 

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Who says Main Street is dying ?

My Sweety, Karen, needs space at the new homestead for her business supplies. She has a 10×10 shed at the Griffith House but it just isn’t practical to move. Ideally we wanted to get a 25′ or so long construction office trailer or a conex but with construction picking up the prices of these have risen out of our price range. My good friend Paul,

Paul was my Hero growing up on Isabelle.

Paul was my Hero growing up on Isabelle.

the modern day Fred Sanford, has been on the lookout for a solution. The first try is affectionately known as “The Bomb Shelter”

"The Bomb Shelter"

“The Bomb Shelter”

is surplus from The Nevada Test Site, is built like it was intended to survive a nuclear blast, and seems to have a faint glow on moonless nights. While a definite hit with Ajax it would be fair to say Tuey was a bit underwhelmed. Sensing the lack of enthusiasm surrounding his first try good ole Pauly went into all out scrapper solution mode. The result being “The General Store”

The General Store

The General Store

While not in anyway fitting Tuey’s original vision I think this 10’x20′ beauty may make the grade. Old Town4 Old Town3 Old Town2 Old Town1

 

Offloading and setup was a bit of fun (Tommy kept running away squealing louder than Alexa cause he was scared!) but the final result came out just a bit of OK

General Store next door to the Jail

General Store next door to the Jail

Things are slowly starting to shape up around here, we finally moved in last month…sort of…but thats a story for another time.

 

 

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Chickens, Tortoises and Goats Oh My!

While Gooey is the lone representative of the “Goats” group we hope to expand our herd next year. It did finally dawn on us this evening that Gooey was behaving and not screaming constantly for the first time in about a month, I am pretty sure she just went through her first season. Lexi thought she was just trying to talk to the other goats across the street. 🙂

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Ajax on the other hand has 3 sorta siblings hangin out in the brooder tank. They are probably not going to remain permanent residents but they sure are cute.

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Last week my sister in law brought over a bunch of pumpkins that she had got for free after Halloween. She had cut them in half to get at the seeds and was just gonna throw out the rest. I knew the chickens would like them, especially after they got a bit funky, but Ajax surprised me. He devoured half a punkin in about a half hour! And he didn’t start from an edge, he started chomping right in the middle of the smooth intact outer skin.

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My Sweety, Karen, and I have been working on our new to us house up at the Fruity Chicken all year and are getting close to moving. This is quite a big deal for us seeing as how we have been in the same house for 27 years. I think we both though it would be easy because it gets us closer to one of our Granddaughters and gives us more room than we we’ve ever had during our life together. Leaving the little house in the barrio where we raised our three awesome sons isn’t turning out quite like we thought it would be. We will get there though!

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Fodder 2.0

 

Last year I first gave Foddering a try. The concept is very appealing, turning 1 lb of nutritious seed into 5-6 lbs of more digestible highly nutritious fodder by just adding two ingredients, water & time. The system became more and more refined during the winter until I thought I had a fairly efficient system as outlined in my Chicken Fodder post this past January. Over on BYC the thread “Growing Fodder for Chickens” is what got me started on Fodder and the thread is full of fantastic information, but beware it has just reached 2500 posts and is still join strong!

How I began this year

How I began this year

This years Fodder season started up about a month ago when temps finally fell below 80 degrees. Last years setup was working OK but the warm temps and winds dried things out too quick and cut into productivity.

After some thought and a bit of fiddling around I came up with this indoor rack along with slightly modifying my process.

Seed

Seed

The first ingredient is the seed. Last year I tried several different kinds and have settled on Red Wheat as the primary ingredient and soak mix My Sweety Karen gets me that is mostly safflower. Barley and Oats caused way too many issues with mold last year.

Seed

2 Cups

 

Fodder Bucket

Bucket

2 Cups of seed go into a pail with water and a splash of bleach to soak for 24 hours.

Fodder

Holy Pail

 

Two Buckets

Two Buckets

 

Rinse Multiple Times Daily

Rinse Multiple Times Daily

After soaking for 24 hours the seed goes into one of 2 perforated buckets that act as colanders allowing the seed to drain. While in the pails the seed gets rinsed as often as I remember to daily.

The new improved indoor rack

The new improved indoor rack

After spending 2 days in the colander buckets the sprouting seed gets spread out in the bottom of one of 8 perforated prep trays to be rinsed once a day. The newest tray goes into the bottom of the rack and works its way up to the top as the oldest of 6 trays get used. 2 trays are always empty, I have found that rinsing the used tray out then letting it sit in the sunshine for a couple days has helped cut down on slime/mold issues.

Fodder02

 

 

Fodder06Fodder04

 

All of our Critters go GaGa over Fodder!

All of our Critters go GaGa over Fodder!

Fodder07

Fodder03

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Summertime and the livin’s easy?

It was a long hot summer here in Vegas. Back in June I took an excursion to Reno to meet my Granddaughter

Avery

Avery

and come back to find a fried Pluot Tree and my favorite Golden Cockoo Marans rooster keeled over. Friday morning everything was dandy, when I got back Sunday POOF! It got to 117 degrees that Saturday and just knocked the bejeezus straight outta that tree and roo.

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble?

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble?

The ferment buckets really got going strong by August. 24 hours and there would be a good strong ferment going on, by September the amount of hooch being produced was remarkable. Ferment2

It got to where every Saturday I would empty all of the hooch out of one of the two ferment buckets and they both still stayed nice and sour. All of that Lacto-Baccilus inoculated highly acidic fluid went straight into my greywater collection tank to be distributed throughout the orchard. One bucketful did go into the latest compost pile and boy did it heat up fast!  Glop

 

Ferment4

This lovely looking Glop had collected in the bottom of the buckets, it is very viscous sorta like a sourdough sponge, Mother? I win sure. The chickens gobbled it up though.

 

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Gooey climbs Mt. Ajax

Gooey has shared her little home with our tortoise Ajax for the last month or so while Orlando’s crew has worked on our house.

Gooey wondering what the heck is in her house.

Gooey wondering what the heck is in her house.

Ajax took over Gooey’s igloo and refused to come out for over a week. I think the heat and humidity finally got to him today and he finally came out.

GooeyGooeyGooey3Gooey4

Ajax is trying to burrow in a bit to cool off but Gooey just thinks he is another obstacle to climb. Or maybe Gooey is just getting even for Ajax taking over her house?

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