Irma, you b*#ch!

Well we made it. All our hard work paid off. We were pretty prepared. Scott and I worked for days getting everything put away or tied down, we got groceries and feed. We were as prepared as we could be. Jerry actually made it home from Alabama Friday night. It was unnerving and kinda scary. Our power went off at around 10:30pm. The hurricane came through at around 2 am. All you could do was listen and wait, and wait, and wait! It seems like the wind and rain went on forever! I was afraid to think about what I might wake up to, who could sleep? Maybe I should say, I wondered what I would see when daylight broke? Fortunately, although our property was a mess with limbs and branches everywhere, we had no major damage. It looked bad but all the animals were ok not even a scratch!

The first day seemed like a fog, shell shocked, wandering around on no sleep and so many frazzled nerves. But we are here and we are ok. Start up the generators, one for water and one for the house. Ah, the lovely sound and smell of generators first thing in the morning! Next to check our road. We live on a dirt road a little off the beaten path. We had big old oaks go down on the road. We had to cut our way out. So sad, we love our trees. But all the neighbors checked in and everyone seemed ok. We are a hardened group of tough guys back here in the woods! Get out the chainsaws and the tractors and maybe a beer!

As you could probably tell, I have a love/hate relationship with the generators. They make life livable in Florida with no power. We ran the fridge, the tv, and a small window unit ac off of one. And twice a day we would crank up the other one for water, drinking, flushing, and showers. But…THEY ARE SO LOUD!!! My head was pounding from the low pressure and the noise and even though the ac is running, its hard to sleep with the constant racket. Not to mention, they stink! And I can’t start them, so if it happens to run out of fuel, you have the momentary relief of silence, but then 10 minutes later the heat starts creeping back in! Now normally I can deal with some heat. I have lived in Florida for a long time. But now I have to take medication which makes it almost impossible to deal with the heat!

So… this will be alright. Kinda like camping. Camping is fun! Well maybe not in 100 degree weather, but I can deal. Jerry has to go back to Alabama and Scott has to go to work. I am here alone. So I set out with the best intentions. The dogs seem to think it is great fun with so much new stuff to explore! I am trying to clean up after the storm, put things back and trying to feel as normal as possible. I have to take frequent breaks but I am staying in good spirits. Lots of people have it a lot worse, I am still grateful. Trying to find fuel to keep my life line(generator)going is tough. There is none to be found and if you do find some, the lines are horrendous! We have plenty of food, no emergencies, just taking my time, slow and steady. Five days without power, my patience is running thin.

As I am puttering around the yard trying to put my life back together. The dogs, who apparently think hurricane clean up is fun, come barreling into me from behind and knock me down! I didn’t even see it coming! So here I am…sitting in the yard, dogs licking my face, wondering if I broke my leg? Wondering how I am going to get back to the house? I just lost it! I started crying, I was hysterical! No one could even hear me scream over the damn generator! I let out a weeks worth, or maybe more, of frustration, tension, and fear! Then I realized I had not broken my ankle, just a sprain. I got myself up, brushed myself off, hobbled back to the house, found an ice pack and laid on my bed in the noisy ac. I’m just not sure how much more of this I can take. I am tired and hot, and now my ankle hurts! Power came back on! Life is good

 

Well, Well, Well…

We have been working nonstop on the farm. Putting in irrigation and electric to the out buildings. Although this is a lot of work in this hot sweltering weather,  when its all said and done it will be so worth it! I am so sick of dragging kinking hoses and extension cords around the yard. You should hear me cussing when I drag that hose all the way down to were I need it and then, right when I get there, the water stops because of a kink, or four, all the way back at the faucet, its not a pretty sight! Lol I’m not even sure how many hoses Jerry has run over with the lawn mower.  All I know is we have a stack of patched together hoses! We spent most of the week digging trenches and getting wire and pipes. Connecting all this and hooking up waterers and sprinklers. I can’t wait to flip the switch! Yay! Everything works! No leaks! Ahh finally, no more hoses. Peace of mind with automatic waterers. I feel a sense of relief. It will be so nice when we go out of town to know that the animals will have fresh clean water. Not that my pet sitter doesn’t keep everything in perfect order but, why not make it easier for everyone?

I have been trying to make everything around here as easy and efficient as I can. Having a farm and animals is a lot of work as it is. So why not make it as easy as possible? Being sick last year and having trouble doing a lot of my regular chores made this more apparent to me. Why struggle with a sore back and bending over when you can easily set up a wash table for the dogs? Why drag hoses when you can just turn on a faucet? Why make more work for yourself? Work smarter, not harder! Finally it is happening! It is so rewarding to look back on all this hard work and know it is done.

Wait a minute…not so fast…After working all day in the hot sun and coming in for the evening, enjoying a good shower…the water stopped! The well is not working! No water! All right I guess there is never a good time for your well to go out, but now… REALLY? We are gonna have to sleep on this one. You don’t really know how much you need water until it’s gone. No coffee, no tea, no toilet!

So all day we are working on this well. Methodically pulling heavy steel pipes out of the ground. Sixty feet, foot by foot. We use an engine lift, a chain fall, and vice grips. The danger here is dropping it down into the well and losing everything, pipes, pump, and all. In hindsight, the well has been acting up, so I guess it wasn’t a total surprise, but still. THIS SUCKS! We find out that the bottom pipe has a hole in it and the water was running out of the tank right back down into the ground. Luckily the pump seems to be ok. Next we have to get new pipes. Then methodically put it all back together piece by piece and lower it back down into the ground. Eight hours later…we have water! Yes! I am so lucky to have these handy guys, I honestly don’t know how I would do it without them! So again, happiness and relaxation set in from a job well done. Shower time! I go to get in the lovely, much anticipated shower. Nice water pressure! Ahh…wait, what is going on the pressure is getting weaker and I can’t get this white soap to rinse off? WAIT! It’s not soap, it’s pipe dope! It’s all over me!  Apparently my shower was the last in the pipe line so all the excess pipe dope (glue) ended up there! We had to take the shower head off and wash it out, it will be fine. I scrubbed the pipe dope off and I will be fine. Just another day on the farm.

Feelin’ Froggie

IMG_2291We have been in a drought for quite some time but finally, we have been getting some much needed rain. Just wondering, do we have to get it all at once? This is frog weather! It is smoldering here and the rain just seems to make it worse, feels like a steam room. And this year it’s extra “special” because the estrogen blocker I am on gives me hot flashes. So now I’m hot on the inside as well as hot on the outside! Everything is moldy and damp including me! And since Tallulah, the puppy, will not allow any throw rugs in the house (she seems to think they are possessed and it is her job to destroy them) the floor is in a constant state of mud. The heat makes her drink a lot of water and her lovely beard holds about a gallon, and she likes to share it with everyone! It is true when they say “When it rains, it pours!”

We travel often for work. We live on a small farm and have some wonderful animals, they are family. Little Tallulah is doing great! We call her Lulu for short. She is growing so fast, I swear you can almost see her growing! It is like having a toddler in the house. She believes that everything and everyone is hers. She does not believe in rules. And she has lots and lots of energy! She plays ball and frisbee. We go on long walks and car rides. She loves toys. Right now I am obsessed with dog toys! Well she loves them, all kinds. And it seems like every time I go out I find another toy I just have to get her! She has so many, I have to rotate them. But I must say she does really seem to enjoy them all. Sometimes she will pile them up all around her in the middle of the living room floor!

I have been trying to socialize her, by getting her used to all kinds of stuff. It’s really kinda fun. The other night we sat out in the backyard with her while neighbors were shooting off fireworks. At first she was a little nervous but once she saw we liked them and the treats started coming she was fine with them. I had anticipated taking her everywhere with me for her socialization but of course, about two weeks after I got her this canine flu thing broke out. So I am doing what I can to expose her to as much stuff as possible right here on the farm. And believe me there’s plenty of crazy stuff she has already gotten used to. Tractors and horses and saws and thunder, lots of thunder! I am hoping she will be a very well adjusted dog.

She is potty trained but…last week she had a little tummy trouble. And had me up all night every two hours to take her out for about 4 nights. Ugh! We seem to have gotten all that under control now. She has been sleeping through the night again. I need my beauty rest! So this got me thinking… how in the heck am I gonna be able to go out of town? My plan was to board her when I was away until she got a little more settled. But now with this canine flu thing there is no way!  And I won’t leave her in a crate for that many hours. So…on to the next project. A beautiful little outdoor kennel. I will keep you posted!

Summertime Makes Me Feel Fine

I don’t know if I am crazy but…I always have stuff going on! So far this year it has been a slow travel year. But that doesn’t mean I have not been busy. The farm is in full summer mode right now. We had a pretty mild winter and a wonderfully long spring but summer has come on full force! Heat and humidity. Constant grass cutting. Everything is wilting by noon! We had an amazing bunch of delicious peaches and raspberries this year. Grew a few heirloom tomatoes but other than that this is a pretty harsh time of year to keep much of anything growing (except the grass!) The herbs that are on my deck seem to pull through and hang in there, I have had my sage plant for years. MacKenzie, our dog, prefers the ac. this time of the year. The horses are sweating just standing in the field, I have to get up pretty early in the morning to work the horses before the full heat settles in.

We have had a pair of Sandhill cranes raising their family in our yard this year. This is the first time we have ever had them here and I feel privileged that they chose our farm as their sanctuary! It is so much fun watching the babies grow, and I love the little purring noise the grown ups make, it is so peaceful to be in their presence.

Just this morning I watched a family of Kites flying above the trees, looked like the parents were giving the youngsters flying lessons! It is nice to be here. I am very grateful for the peace and serenity we have in our own backyard.

So my mind shifts elsewhere…I have been painting a lot and designing some cool furniture. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a nice little vintage trailer to take to art shows and what not? Like a traveling boutique, you know, to sell art and furniture out of…

I FOUND ONE!

Soups On!

It has been a cold blustery week here and I enjoy making soup when the weather is like this. I just love having a pot of warm comfort simmering all day on the stove or in the crock pot! It warms my soul just thinking about it! Oh and if Jerry bakes some of his delicious fresh crusty bread it’s hard to beat! I can imagine sitting by the fire with a heavy earthen bowl of soup, dipping bread into the rich broth, savoring each bite, while reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain!

Ok back to reality!!! I live in Florida, I don’t have a fireplace! It has been cold but today it should be in the 70’s and the sun has just come out. Should be a beautiful day! No doubt I won’t be sitting in the house. However, I do enjoy making soup. I like all kinds of soup but one of my favorites is French Onion Soup. Here is a quick and easy recipe for some really delicious French Onion Soup.

1 lb large onions sliced nice and thin, cook in a large heavy cast iron pan in ¼ cup of butter until translucent, then take 2 pints of beef stock bring it to a boil and pour it carefully over the onions. Next add 2 twigs of fennel or ¼ tsp of fennel seed, a couple cloves, salt and pepper to taste. Bring it all to a gentle simmer. Then in a long handled spoon, hold a teaspoon of sugar, very carefully, over heat until it caramelizes, stir this into the soup. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile place a slice of toasted french bread in each oven safe bowl, top with some grated cheese(gruyere, provolone, or mozzarella) Add a dash of brandy to the soup, ladle it into your bowls over the toast, add more cheese on top and stick bowls under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Enjoy! This soup has turned even my most finicky friends into onion soup lovers!

And if you haven’t read Kitchen Confidential, you must! Anthony Bourdain has a wonderful writing style. He almost makes you feel like you are sitting down with the bad boy of cooking and having a chat! Check it out and let me know what you think.

 

Chica Chica Boom Boom!

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The crew!

The crew!

It is that time of year in Florida, in July and August when you step outside you just can’t breathe the air is so thick! As soon as you step outside in the morning the humidity slaps you right in the face! You will be dripping with sweat just sitting outside, let alone doing farm chores. Even the plants seem droopy and tired this time of year. This is the time of year you lose lots of plants to the heat and moisture. Everything seems damp and moldy, even me! There is a never ending amount of laundry to do since you have to keep changing into dry clothes throughout the day. More cleaning of coops and barns as animal bedding stays damp and gets mildewed quickly. Horses are sweaty and gummy by 11:00 am. Bugs are lovin it! Frogs too, on some nights the neighbors pond is absolutely roaring!

We are in our rainy season which just adds to the dampness. We have been getting lots of thunder and lightening every day, in fact a house down the road got struck by lightening last Monday, yikes! The storms can be pretty powerful here. My dog McKenzie hates the thunder, she has a thunder shirt that seems to help, but she is still not happy about it. It is supposed to rain all weekend, I heard we could get up to 12″ of rain, better get the Wellies out!

If you have things to do outside you better get them done early in the day. Yesterday we made nesting boxes for the chickens. I just found out last week that we do, in fact, have two roosters. They were having a lovely crowing contest! So now we know for sure! We really don’t want to get rid of one as long as they get along, so far so good. But I think I might need a couple more chickens to try and keep the peace! Over the last few weeks I have been letting them free range during the day and putting them up in the coop at night. So far so good. It is very scary because we have lots of predators around here but I prefer not to keep them locked up. We have fencing and plenty of cover for them. I really enjoy them in the yard! They seem so happy running around chasing bugs, scratching around in the grass, and taking dirt naps! It is so peaceful and fun to watch their silly antics. They seem to be pretty aware of their surroundings. If I go out to check on them they come right over and if I sit on the adirondack chair they like to come and sit with me. No eggs yet, but I think it will be soon.

Just found a new pet sitter. We are heading to LA in a few weeks, can’t wait! Looking forward to a much needed break from this humidity! Can’t wait to hit the beach!