Sunday, November 23, 2014

Looking for Gift Ideas?

It's that time of year in which people are desperately trying to find gifts for people again... thought I'd help my (five remaining) readers out and plug a friend at the same time!

Horse Creek Soap is a company created, run, and entirely staffed by a gal I know here locally. She raises milk goats, then makes soaps and lotions out of their milk.

The website is a bit scanty (I'll have to bug her about updating it the next time I see her, she's got probably a dozen more types of soap plus the lotions she's recently put out) but a few of the really good ones are there. I personally love the Berry Vanilla scent, it makes my shower smell like a juicy pastry. For those of you who aren't into smelling like food there are less flavorful scents, or an un-scented, un-colored soap called Just Soap.

Of the ones not listed, Farmmom is in love with the Avocado Sea Clay soap, and I adore Face The Day, which is an awesome refreshing facial soap. She also has a ton of seasonal scents available right now, which I can't remember all of, but I'm sure she'll be happy to send you a list if you ask. (Again, I'll be poking at her about updating the site, as well.)

Some of you might be thinking that five bucks is a lot for a bar of soap... don't worry, I did too at first. But, not only is it that much better for your skin than commercial soaps (And I really do think that it is...) but it also lasts longer. I have a shower full of her soaps because I like the way they smell, and after a couple of weeks I realized that while the half-finished bar of Dove that I had stopped using was slowly melting into oblivion without being touched, the goat milk soaps weren't even noticeably shrinking other than when I actually used them.

If you're still hesitant, ask her about her sample deals. I know when she visits craft shows she offers the sample bars (which are about the size of those ridiculous "guest soaps" but last longer by at least an order of magnitude) for $.50 a pop, or five for a dollar. She's started doing that since she last updated the store so I'm not certain if it would make sense when shipping, but I'm reasonably certain she'd be willing to cut you a deal for several samples, which would make great stocking stuffers. I will note here that she does work a full time job that involves 12 hour shifts, if you're going to call her I recommend you do it Wednesday through Friday to have the best chance of being able to visit with her about her stuff.

Long and short of it, any of her stuff would make wonderful stocking stuffers or build a gift basket for your favorite bath goddess... they'll thank you for it, I promise.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ah, So

At my workplace (which, if you'll recall I don't talk about much... because I enjoy my job for the most part and would prefer to keep it) we've had some issues with turnover and available hours this year. As in, I didn't have enough available hours, thanks to being part time and hemmed in by the restrictive definition of "part time" by Obama Care.

(Small digression... the Affordable Care Act? Screwed me. Before the redefinition of part time I could have worked 36 hours and been able to afford to pay my own damn healthcare costs, like I had. Sure I made choices about going to the doctor based on what I could afford but ACA didn't help me afford the visits I would have chosen not to make, it just made it impossible for me to afford ANY healthcare instead. I sure as hell couldn't afford insurance.)

Anyway. There have been struggles to cover absolutely essential duties and keep me on the right side of that 28 hour part time line, since I was the most available, or only, part timer on hand. I smarted off around budget time that they should ask for a full time floater position, that way we could maybe avoid ulcers for the head scheduler and the Office Dragon. (I love our Office Dragon. She herds cats every week and manages to make things work somehow on limited budgets and with people in the office who take that fact for granted a LOT. Office Dragon is not a put down, in her case... it's an acknowledgement of the fact that I never, EVER want to make her mad at me.)

Well apparently they decided it was a good idea and made the proposal in the budget for next year. Everyone hoped, but no one was holding their breath. Then the people in charge of the budget realized that, lacking sufficient part time hours available to cover it, they were going to have to pay out a lot of vacation and comp days this year. And a full timer with the attendant benefit package was actually cheaper.

I of course didn't hear about any of this, I just showed up when I got the "We know you must hate us by now but could you possibly cover...?" calls and went on, fairly secure in the knowledge that I was going to continue as I was for the foreseeable future.

Then I went in to work the other night, on one of the oh god oh god can you cover shifts, and got pranked with the news that not only was the full time floater position approved, but that they were offering it to me (not necessarily a given,) and that it was approved to start as of December 1. They made it out as bad news and started telling me that it wasn't anything personal, but the part time budget got cut, and we really love you but we have to follow the budget... my internal panic did kick in a bit, and my mind was racing to try and figure out how I was going to make it work with less hours. Then the one pranking me got a big grin and offered me the full time position. Apparently there was a far more elaborate plan but other events made it impossible. Probably good, I might have had to kick the one who was going to prank me with it.

So, I'll continue doing what I have been doing, only more so, and be able to work forty hours instead of 28. I've been promised that I'll be worked like a rented mule (my response was "like you don't already?") and also that great effort will be made to keep from bouncing me back and forth from days to nights and back too often. I can handle it on the part time schedule because I generally have most of a week in which to recover after I've been flip flopped three times in a week... not so much on a full time schedule. It's a bit of a mystery at the moment how exactly it's going to fall out. Basically I'll cover all of the day off requests that come in, unless it will bounce me off of the sleep dep wall too hard. Filling in around that will be new duties and using my butt to keep chairs warm so that the butt that would otherwise be there can work on other things, uninterrupted.

So, starting next month I become the rented mule of the office, which I'm ok with, and I get full time, which I'm ecstatic about. Benefits will kick in, and it'll be nice to have insurance, but I doubt I'll use it any more often than I did before.

It is nice, though, to work in a job where you can honestly say you want to spend more time there with the people you work with. It's also nice to work in a job where they care enough to want to pull a prank on you with the good news. (The big boss decreed the pranking. The functional boss planned it. The subordinate boss ended up carrying it out. Yeah, I have a lot of bosses... but they all actually work together so it works way more smoothly than you would expect... and all of them defer to the Office Dragon when she decrees something.)

Not sure what it's going to mean for the blog, honestly. It's more time at a job that I can't blog about, even when it's funny. But, there is the possibility that it'll be a slightly more settled schedule for me which would open up more opportunities to be doing other things that might be blogworthy. I'm not counting on it because I know how it can be, but if anyone can pull off some kind of order out of the chaos it'll be the gal that does the scheduling.

Blogorado 2014

(All lateness on this post is my fault... Farmmom asked me to look over it, add links, and post it and I completely spaced it. Apologies all around!)

Well Blogorado is over for another year.  All the folks are home and clean-up is done.
Once again our tribe came together for conversations, laughs, food and shooty goodness.  Thank you all for coming and making our Columbus Day Weekend so memorable.
It has been an incredibly busy year for us and more so the last couple months and I wanted to thank all the attendees for the kindness and consideration on things not done!
Planning and prep work were out the window but I think things worked out pretty well anyway.
A HUGE thanks goes to aepilotjim and pediem for donating the beef for the weekend!  That was just incredible! (And we went through almost the whole half beef) This crew is a cooks dream.... you all know how to compliment the cook!
Thanks to Old NFO for herding cats, I really don't know how you do it.  I think without you the breakfast would last until dinnertime.
Thank you to Desi, Holly, Beth, and Christina for being my kitchen bitches, Sci-fi for cleaning the shop up and to all the guys who helped with firewood, trash, ect. ect. I love having minions!!!!
Thank you Hal for bringing all the full auto toys to play with, everyone had a ball with them.

I know I'm missing so many folks that helped in a variety of ways but the brain hasn't caught up with me yet.  Next year I am going to make sure I have a day or two off work AFTER Blogorado just to catch my breath.

Love you all,
Farmmom, Farmdad, and Farmgirl

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chicken Scratch

I know I've been noticeably absent lately, and I can't promise it won't happen again. Frankly, most of what I consider entertaining/interesting is happening at my job lately, which makes it hard to come up with something to post about.

So since someone (Cough OldNFO Cough) chewed on me about posting, I'll post the only other remotely interesting thing that's been happening, and what I'm most focused on this particular week: Chickens.

See, after going to the auction to pick up some more chickens for the farm, and them being higher priced than I wanted to pay for what was available, I made the decision that I would just raise more chickens myself. Maybe order in some fun ones from a hatchery. So, I started planning to incubate some of the eggs from the barnyard mix we already had, and went to pick up some accessories, only to see that the farm store had their fall chicks in that week, so I bought a bunch, brought 'em home, hurried to finish fixing the old wood granary that we were going to use for a chick house (which precipitated some drama that I may or may not write about at a later date... for now suffice to say that it's the most expensive "what we have on hand, don't spend money" repair project I've ever been responsible for starting...) and continued on my merry way.

Now, when I was picking out chicks in the pullet tank at the farm store, I was trying to bear in mind what had sold well at the auction, so we wound up with a bunch of little red chicks that turned into little red hens (and one cockerel.) Farmmom and I also picked out four or five that looked interesting, that we wanted to see what they would grow into. Bear in mind, the plans for these chicks from the start were three-tiered: First, build up our own flock with the ones we liked. Second, sell whatever we could of the rest of them. Third, eat whatever didn't sell.  So, we figured if the interesting looking chicks turned into interesting looking hens, they'd be sticking around, so we only got a few of those.

Here, have a break from the wall of text, and a picture of baby chickens:
As chicks do, they grew, and I threw a baker's dozen plus one of the eggs from our hens in the incubator and set about eagerly waiting and chewing fingernails to see what we'd get. Meanwhile, the bought chicks grew:


 Finally it was hatch day, and thirteen of the fourteen eggs I'd incubated hatched beautifully. Well ok, twelve of them hatched beautifully, and one had a little trouble. This one, to be exact:


A few interesting things about that picture... First of all, that little black chick in my hand is a lucky bugger. She wasn't positioned right in the egg, so she pipped (poked her beak out) through the membrane that is full of veins and does the oxygen exchange for the chick while it's in the shell, so she lost some blood, and wasn't in the right position to really get worked around to "unzip" her shell. She needed a little help and TLC. So, she and a couple of her siblings, one with some feather issues and one just because I ran out of room in the transport boxes, stayed inside in the super controlled environment brooder whilst the rest of them went to the chick house.

As you can see there she was a little behind her pair of siblings growth wise. She's pretty well made it up now, a little over a month later. Oh, the other interesting thing about those pictures... you can see in the shadow of my hand in the first one the little yellow chick with the black spot on it's butt. We got one more yellow chick out of the hatch too, the other one in the second picture. Now, at that time we had one white hen who laid white eggs. The rest were light red with white markings hens who laid brown eggs. So the only eggs we could positively identify as coming from a specific hen were the white ones. Our rooster is a Welsummer, which is a very colorful and attractive bird (but he's an asshole... it's ok though he whupped a boxer mix that we thought had killed Sonic, the white hen.... shut up she came named...) Anyway... one of those chicks came from the white hen, but it's not either of the ones you're thinking of. So she's our little oddball baby all over.
Speaking of odd I did mention earlier that we had grabbed some "interesting" looking chicks for the hell of it, but I gotta say I didn't expect what we got out of them.

The two pictures above show the gorgeous feather patterns on a couple of our oddballs. Yes, they looked very similar as chicks, but got very different ends of the color spectrum. They're the same breed, for sure, possibly different color variations. I have no idea what breed it is, in my little bit of Googling I haven't been able to find anything in an image search that really looks like them. But my favorite part about these guys isn't even the pretty feathers....


It's their faces! They're a couple months old, now, and I suspect they may go ahead and get "bearded" as they finish developing over the next few months. And one possible reason why I haven't found them Googling is because every time I Google image search for "bearded chickens" I go off on a wander through some really neat and or crazy looking chickens. For now we're hanging on to all of the "chicks" and keeping them separate from the grown flock, because we had some respiratory crud that's proving hard to get rid of come in with some hens mom picked up at the auction about a month ago. I really don't want to lose all of our grown hens, especially the first four we got. They came from a friend (that's how Sonic came named) and are friendly and easy to handle, good influences for the rest of the flock... but if it does happen, as it stands, I have a healthy flock ready to go in quarantine in the chick house. It'll take em a few more months to start laying, but we're not getting many eggs from the sick hens as it is, so we'll make do. I don't want to get rid of any until I know how many we're gonna need, and if all else fails they'll sell just as good in the spring as producing laying hens (better) as they would as pullets big enough to integrate into an existing flock now.
As to why I'm focused on chickens this week, well, a coworker of mine "accidentally" won an Ebay auction for some high-end fancy-dancy hatching eggs, and they're hatching. Shipped eggs are always more chancy than fresh, and to top it off these seem to have come from someone who thinks that you can never have too much calcium in your chicken feed for your laying hens. (Tip: You can. Out of three that have hatched so far two have needed assistance, and I may have to go extreme to get any others out of the shell alive.)
Hatching chicks is fun, assisting a hatch is nerve wracking.
Speaking of, I'd better go check the eggs again and see if any more of them have pipped...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wildlife Transport Volunteer

I are one now.

Went to a class the second of this month so that I could get approved for transporting wildlife from our area to rehab centers to the north of us.

FYI I had to put in the date because right now I'm not positive what week it is (I know that it is currently Saturday because I have to work Sunday...) due to swapping to night shifts at work for Wednesday and Thursday nights, then swapping back. I managed to sleep last night but my body is pretty much asking me what the hell I'm thinking, and I get to do it all over again next week. Though, I do have an extra day to swap back next week since I only have the one night shift.

Anywho, I went to the class where a nice lady basically explained things I already knew about wildlife and handling them.

Since the Wildlife Transport Volunteers sometimes get to be the first ones on scene when someone reports an animal in need of help, they get to be the one to catch said animal as well, so handling information is pretty vital to the whole thing.

So yeah, we got told all about how critters are sharp on all five corners and some advice for not getting bitten or scratched or otherwise mauled, and how wild animals can carry diseases and advice on how not to get them or spread them to your pets.

Anyway, me being the sucker that I am, I'm now on the call list for such things... and I'm the only one in the county, I think.

Even more fun than that is the fact that we discovered a crow's nest on one of the windmills. We discovered this when we went to turn the windmill on because that pasture was getting rented out. Five chicks, brand spanking new at that time, and it's all kinds of wound up in the mill and tied down with barbed wire.

So, we'll give em as much time as we can before we *have* to turn the mill on, and then I will go out and see if I can move the chicks to another area and get the parents to follow and continue feeding them. They're hatched, they get a chance, even if it means I have a pair of crows that hate me for the rest of their lives.

I have consulted our local wildlife guy, he's fine with me moving them, even if he is a little dubious about whether it will work or not. His main response was pretty much "good luck" though. I may call him to come stuporvise on the move, he's constantly trying to get pictures of the wildlife and such in our area and share with the locals... and with crows it does promise to be at least mildly entertaining in the process.

I'll see if I can at least get somebody to take some pictures when the time comes, to share the adventure with ya'll. If all else fails though, we're getting into orphaned kitten time of year, so we'll probably have some cuteness pictures before the summer is out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Awesomest Basement In The World

Or, at least according to Stingray it is, anyway. Well he's gotten skates and a chloroform bottle out of there already, so I can see why might feel that way.

I'm working on cleaning out the basement at the Old Homestead (again....) so that we can fit a bed in the bedroom down there so that I'll have a place to sleep in the imminent time when the shower works and the whole FarmFam retires to semi-hermitude.

We cleaned out a bunch of stuff last year but that still left all of the stuff we wanted to keep, which included plenty of "I see a few things in that box that I want to keep, set it aside to keep and we'll go through it later."

Later is here, friends, and it's kind of mad that we waited so long. There's stuff that I know we had a plan for, but I can't for the life of me remember what in the world it was.

There's also a bunch of just flat-out neat stuff. Like this find:

Yep, that's a war ration book, and yes, it's still got the ration stamps in it:

Yes, we'll be keeping that. Most likely it'll go in a display with other neat historical or just old things that we've found during the process of the renovation.

I figure I'll be able to tease Stingray about this one for a while:

And this little beauty is still in good shape, though a little dusty on the outside. I didn't take the time to plug it in so I don't know if it works or not, but if it does, I'm reasonably certain we've got some film floating around somewhere for it:

Alas, for all the progress I made today (and I did, I swear) there's still plenty of stuff to be gone through and re organized. So, there will undoubtedly be more treasure photos taken. I might even share.

Of course, if any of my friends want to come dig through the stuff and enjoy the neat things, they're more than welcome to. The cost is just that you have to help me go through all of it and re organize it, and move some furniture around. Anyone? Anyone?

Oh well, I like the sound of crickets anyway.....

Monday, April 7, 2014

Random Gripes

Maybe it's the fact that I'm working nights again and the body isn't entirely appreciating the swap, especially since we have had some nice daytime weather.

Or maybe I'm just seeing a bunch of stuff that makes me cranky lately. Who knows? I figured I'd share a couple of my random gripes with ya'll, though they share a very general common theme:

1. Cismale/female whatever gender whatsit.

Here's the thing: I don't give a flying monkey buttcrack whether you think of yourself as a man or a woman or if you prefer to think of your sexuality as "Flying monkey buttcrack." It's none of my damn business. That being said: It's none of my damn business. Stop jumping up and down on the rainbow colored trampoline and waving a big ole look at me flag and then complaining because people are offended by you shoving your personal business in their face. No, you shouldn't have to conform to what someone else thinks. No, you shouldn't be ostracized or victimized because of the way you view yourself. But I shouldn't be forced to know more about your personal preferences than I want to. And let's face facts, for the transvestites and transsexuals: If you look like a man trying really hard to look like a woman and failing, people are going to react to that. Same goes for the other way around. It's not something people outside of a few locales see every day. I wouldn't expect not to get looks if I went riding my horse in full western getup down Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive.

And before anyone can say "yeah but they wouldn't be looking at you with disgust" I'm gonna call bullshit on that one preemptively. Lots of segments of society look at me, my lifestyle, and my origins with disdain, and disgust. The difference is that I write them off as ignorant and move on. I probably wouldn't get physically assaulted for it, granted, and no it's not ok that anyone has to worry about that for their lifestyle choices. But there's also a certain amount of be smart involved. It's not ok that as a small female I have to worry about being grabbed in bars, or walking down dark alleys in certain locations. But, just because it's not ok and I don't like it doesn't mean the world conforms to my wishes and suddenly all of the violent people in the world who target small females just stop.

I try to be smart about where I go and what I do, I've taken steps to be able to defend myself, and I go on with life. It's not ok that I, or anyone, has to worry about being attacked. But it's also not ok to expect everyone else to take care of you. Fact is it's a big bad dangerous world and if someone tries to hurt you your best defense is not societal acceptance, it's yourself. Most of society accepts that I have a vagina and feel like I should have a vagina just fine. That doesn't mean that someone isn't going to try to hurt me because I'm female, or because I'm a smartass, or just because they think they can.

Yes, everyone has a right to be who they want to be (unless who they want to be is hurting others, in which case, that's not ok) and no I don't think it's right for people to judge the way Trans (I guess it's capitalized? I dunno...) folks live their lives, much less get physical about it. But the LBGTwhatever community doesn't get to vilify everyone who isn't either. I am not broken because I was born with a vagina and feel like I ought to have a vagina. I am not wrong because I don't intimately understand the emotional drive of someone who isn't that way. It works the other way around, too, but just because I don't get it on that instinctive understanding level doesn't mean that I'm their enemy.

Go live your life, be a good person, and good people will want to be around you and support you. That'll work way better than what I've been seeing a lot of: Attention whoring and then throwing the discrimination card when someone calls them on the attention whoring.

For all I write a blog and have "fans" I'm not all that fond of the spotlight. That's why I do this instead of stand up comedy or acting or other fame-grabbing things. That's why I write under a pseudonym. I know there are those who have met me in person, even at blog meets and such, who have noticed me cringing a little when someone "recognizes" me. I don't mind meeting people and interacting with them, but being "known" before I really talk to them? It makes me squirm. Yeah, I'm a wierdo, I've never denied it.

And I'm not a huge fan of those who deliberately do things solely for the attention it gets them, regardless of any other aspects of their lifestyle. So no, I don't give a crap if you're one of the umpty-eleven new gender definitions available on Facebook. I do give a crap if you shove it in my face in the name of "gaining acceptance."

Nobody gives a crap that my second toe is smaller than my big toe. If your gender and sexual identities are just part of who you are, then nobody not in your bedroom or otherwise needing to know should give a crap about them either. Screaming about it just makes you annoying and makes people less likely to listen to your actual message over all of the hysteria.


Ok, yes, there are definitely badge-heavy individuals in the law enforcement profession. Yes, there are bad things that they do. Yes they should have to face consequences for them.

But, and I see this entirely too much in the gunnie community considering how we all rail against a few bad apples giving us a bad rep: that doesn't mean that they're all awful. Or that, having done something awful themselves, every awful thing that could possibly happen to them is suddenly justified.

I'm really tired of seeing the "it's bad when it happens to me but not when I do it to them" crap. I saw an article linked on the bookface about a cop who had previously done something shitty being assaulted by three people and the headline was absolutely crowing about it.

This is not okay. I admit I have my own violent urges in certain circumstances. There are people that I would get immense satisfaction out of laying a beat-down on them at this very moment. But that doesn't make it okay. They've done things that I see as awful and deserving of consequences, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to create those consequences for them outside the bounds of the law.

And every time someone does that, especially with law enforcement, they erode away at the good cops' belief in humanity. By treating all law enforcement as the enemy (they're not) and by people attacking officers, they're creating the situation they're railing against. Because I'll guarantee you that every time an officer gets attacked or they have a hostile interaction with a member of the public, the LEOs I know become a little more guarded, a little less willing to trust the public. And I can't really blame them, they deserve to go home at night if they can. Thing is, they've volunteered to put themselves in the position of maybe not going home, so that the public can.

Personally, having known and had interactions with good and bad law enforcement, I operate on a very simple premise: The uniform gets respect first. They can definitely lose that respect based on their interactions with me, but they get a certain amount of respect just for showing up. It's the same thing I give to our men and women in the military.

Stop vilifying a profession that does still attract the truly good people who honestly want to help others because it also happens to attract people who get off on the power trip. Alternately, feel free to go through the training and put on a badge every day knowing that today you might just be the one that's not going home, so that Susie Homemaker and her kids can.

The general theme here? It's not black and white, not everyone in any group is evil, and I'm really tired of people acting like someone is better or worse than someone else based on some random douchebag or saint. Plus, doing so (in either direction) makes you look like a fanatic idiot.

If I could afford it I'd buy the whole world a nice new pair of big girl panties and tell 'em to pull 'em up and get on with life, but I can't. So instead I'll gripe on my own little corner of the internet.

Oh, and if you don't like anything I've said? Feel free to comment and tell me why, but if you can't have an actual conversation about it, I'm just going to make fun of you for acting like a fanatic.