Sunday, October 04, 2015
Now, Trixie wasn't on a leash, since it was daytime and the worst we've seen in the morning is the occasional bunny for her to chase. I yelled at her to come inside, but of course she ignored me. I know she was trying to protect me, but still. Irksome. She went down to the mowline, and barked her food head off, while mama and the piglets (one of which was white with black spots, and particularly adorable) went from the woods near the road to the woods in the pasture, which means we've got a hog-sized hole in the fence somewhere in that area.
Once they were out of sight, Trixie happily used the bathroom and pranced up to me, practically glowing with pride. Hadn't she barked so good? Hadn't she protected me so well? Never mind the fact that she hadn't listened, wasn't she the best dog ever?
I got her happy ass inside fast.
Anyone want to come hunt some hogs?
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Yes, we kept Nips, the once-bitey little grey kitten from the old apartment complex. It turns out she'd broken her arm at some point, and doesn't like having it handled, which is why she bit me back in the day. She also dislocated the wrist of that same arm, which prompted an x-ray, which is how we found out about the old fracture, and how we found out that the radius of that arm isn't going to do any more growing, despite the ulna (and the rest of her) growing normally. She ended up having a curved forearm, which we sometimes call her Popeye Arm, but she gets about just fine with it, and she's not too big so there's not a lot of weight getting put on it. She's socialized up very nicely, and bonded strongly with Landis, who has also calmed down over the years and is much less bitey his own self.
So, we live on a farm now, as I said. Gamerboy is the official Ranch Manager, and I'm looking for outside work, to help bring in some money. I've also cleared out a few of FIL's old garden beds, and I'm trying to grow some vegetables in them. We've set up a fairly basic compost pile, cleared a few trees that were in the way (Gamerboy is in love with his electric chainsaw, let me tell you), and are planning to put in a bunch more veggie beds, as well as fence off some currently-unused land and get set up for goats and alpacas.
(Seriously, it blows my mind how EASY of a sell alpacas were! The fact that they can live with the goats, and their fleeces can be sold every year, makes them a good investment without a lot of extra work. You know, once we have things set up for the goats. Which we don't yet. But we will.)
(Also, yes, I have already called permanent dibs on all cria fleeces forever. I may choose to sell or gift some later on down the line, who knows, but still. Dibs forever.)
We've only moved down here this summer, so we've been here maybe two months now, and we're still getting settled in. Gamerboy and I purged a lot of our belongings in the move down here, but there's always more to do, and we're starting to work on integrating our things with the inlawls' things, and reducing the amount of both.
Given the crazy-large amount of just everything on the ranch, I've also started dipping my toe into natural dyeing. This was mostly prompted by finding out that there are black walnut trees out by the creek, and cochineal bugs on some of the prickly pear plants out in the pasture. There are even some of those (just a tiny amount, but some!) up by the house!
Most of the animals are doing great right now. We have one yearling bull who probably got stuck with thorns or spines or who-knows-what, and got a pair of abscesses on either side of his jaw, which grew to the point where eating and breathing are difficult, and he'd been hiding from us long enough to get seriously thin. We managed to pen him up and get him to the vet, who lanced the abscesses and gave him some medicine, and we're keeping him in the pens for now while we keep an eye on him, and hope that he gets better.
Heed gave us a hell of a scare recently, too. He was diagnosed with diabetes about a month ago, and put on insulin, and then the day before yesterday he had a serious blood sugar crash. He was shaking, and lost control of his legs and his bowels, and at one point he seized. We rubbed honey on his gums to raise his blood sugar, and got him to a local vet as quickly as we could, while calling his regular vet (Gamerboy's Aunt Awesomevet) on the way. He's had his dosage cut back from 5 units twice a day to 2 units twice a day, and he's doing a lot better now. He's still going back to Aunt Awesomevet next tuesday, so she can keep an eye on him for a couple of days, but we're feeling hopeful.
So all in all, there have been a lot of changes, but things are doing good. I'm going to try and update this thing more regularly, which I know I always say, but hey. Hope springs eternal.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
I already have a mostly-done tiered skirt that I'm rather fond of (working on that as we speak, actually), so I figured since my linen is in single yards, shirts are the way to go. I've done some handsewing for faire garb, so I feel pretty secure in my ability to make straight lines, but right now I'm not sure if I'm up to curved armscyes, so that limits my options. I want to do some kind of decorative thing on the yoke area, so I'm thinking a big facing that's done out of contrasting fabric, maybe with some kind of embroidery on it? I have the theory down, but I'm a little bit terrified to use up some of my stash trying something that very likely won't work.
Tomorrow I'll do measurements and start planning things with numbers, I think. Tonight I'm going back to my skirt.
Friday, December 07, 2012
Seriously, look at these faces!
So this had been working out fairly well for us, and the kittens are now around 10 weeks old. Wednesday night before work, I put out a trap and some tuna for the two remaining kittens, who are both dark grey, and caught the larger of the two, who for reasons that will be made aware, is now called Nips.
Nips, of course, was terrified when I released her into our bathroom. While outside with me, she had approached me for food, and allowed me to give her light strokes, so I thought that she would calm down quicker than her siblings. Eager to see what sex she was, I swooped in to pick her up, and like any scared little creature, she bit me (She also peed on me, but I blame that on the entire can of tuna she ate in the trap).
Now, with rabies being at epidemic levels in Texas, I did what any good citizen would do, and I called Animal Control to report the bite. I figured they'd quarantine her for a little bit, and then let me know if I should be going to the hospital.
WELL. As it turns out? The state doesn't like to pay for quarantines when it doesn't have to - so the person on the phone with me let me know that if I didn't manage to scrape up $250, Nips would be euthanized, and her brain checked for rabies. Of course, I was heartbroken. Gamerboy and I left messages with his Aunt Awesomevet and his parents, hoping that we could either quarantine her with Aunt Awesomevet or borrow money from his folks. Since I knew that the folks over on LSG are kind and caring, I started a chip-in and posted it on the Mojo (the cat) thread, then fell asleep so Gamerboy and I could run errands and try to arrange things for Nips in the afternoon.
By the time I woke up - a mere 5 hours later! - the chip-in was fully funded and more. The Hoar Collective had decided that BiteyKitten (as she was then known) would get a chance at life, and I was completely blown away by the generosity. Seriously, the folks on LSG are the best bunch of people I have ever had the joy to meet.
Animal Control had let us have a whole day to get things sorted, and we spent as much time as we could working with Nips, to get her used to people. I did most of the handling, since I'd already been bitten, and Gamerboy was a little wary about picking her up (he just reached down for his loving on her). After only one night of rest, she was letting herself be pet and handled, turned upside down like a baby, have her toes messed with, her ears cleaned, and even let me open her mouth and check out her gums. I'm not a vet, so I have no idea what I was looking at, but I figure giving me access to her mouth without chomping has to be a good thing. By the next morning, she was leaning into the scritches, eating out of my hand, and falling asleep snuggled up in my shirt.
The animal control officer who picked her up this morning was really nice, confirming that she wasn't showing any signs of rabies, and that the quarantine will probably be fine. He noticed Gamerboy's Warhammer tattoo, and we all talked nerdery for a while. On the 17th, we go to pick up our little grey girl, and see if we can find her a good home - the animal control officer I talked to on the phone had said that with "a history of biting" the shelter can't adopt her out, but we're going to confirm that with the folks who actually work there just in case.
Oh, and the name? Simple evolution. Bitey became Nibbles, which became Nipples, which became Nips. We told the nice officer that she was called Nips because she'd nipped me, and we think he bought it ;)
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
I put them in a plastic bag, smashed them good, then transferred the smashed galls into a big stock pot. I didn't have my camera at the time, so I don't have any pics of the ground up galls, but they looked like very chunky cocoa powder, and smelled just about as good -- like warm earth and tea. I had planned to just dump them in some water and let them go to town for a week or two, but then I got antsy, and decided to simmer this batch for a while. They simmered for about an hour, and made the house smell heavenly! Dark chocolate, cinnamon, and tea, all mixed in together. Still no camera at this point, but the water turned a lovely chocolatey brown. While I was in the kitchen doing SCIENCE! (and randomly yelling SCIENCE! at Gamerboy while he played League of Legends with some friends) I cleaned up a little, since I've actually had energy since starting to take iron again.
The water level got a little low on the galls, so I topped it off a bit. I'd initially had 16oz of galls, and now with them reduced down, I had 48 oz of gall-goop and tannin juice. Then I found my camera!
Because I am not exactly known for my patience, I decided to spoon off a little bit of the juice and see if it would react yet. I crushed up a few of my iron pills, mixed them with the juice, and set them going through a coffee filter. It turned black!
I got impatient, again, waiting for it to filter, so I squeezed the last bits out of the filter with my fingers. It definitely stains!
I bottled them up so I can compare them to later batches, with fermented galls. Aren't they handsome?
Then I took a swatch video -- look at that color change!
As it turns out, according to a very smart man on the Fountain Pen Network who is a professional chemist and makes his own iron gall inks for fun, what I need to make these pen-safe is some 25% hydrochloric acid (evidently this can be had from hardware stores). That stops the Fe(II) from becoming Fe(III) (which is what turns it black) while it's still in the bottle or the pen, but once you write with it the HCl evaporates out and it turns black just fine. Lots of folks evidently use simple pen-safe dyes to make sure you can see the ink while you're writing with it -- the HCl turns it back into a clear yellowish liquid until it hit paper. Looking more into that, it looks like some of the stuff I got for nail polish will actually work for that!
Seriously, guys, I'm crazy excited over here. You don't even know. If I can make this work, I might pop up a few bottles on the shop, or mail them out to friends or some such.
Sunday, September 02, 2012
Since there are about a million different iron gall ink recipes out there, and I live in Texas, Home of the Live Oaks Motherfucking Everywhere, I'm thinking that tomorrow I'll go out to some of the local parks and see if I can collect any more galls. I'd like to try fermenting one batch, boiling another, and just crushing them up and soaking. If I can see which one makes the best/darkest ink, I'd like to try bottling it up and giving it to some of my geekier friends. An ink that gets darker over time would be pretty goddamn sweet.
I've also thought of trying to make some actual verdigris -- copper and vinegar and scraping and time. I don't think I could powder it fine enough for ink, but what the hell, why not try? Copper sheets and vinegar are fairly cheap.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
I don't think my meds are working. Or rather, they're working, just not as effectively as they used to, and they need to be adjusted. I'm having more frequent depressive episodes, and stronger ones, that are lasting longer, and that's no kinda good. In the past few years I've fallen out of the habits I used to have to manage my episodes -- I'm not nearly as dissociative; I no longer try to split myself up into my thinking brain and my feeling brain so that I can ignore the latter and do whatever the former tells me needs to get done. There are other little tricks I used to use, but writing them down here makes me feel self-conscious, and like I might be crazier than I want to admit.
I realize that this is the second negative-sounding blog post in a row, but I want to emphasize here that when I'm not having a depressive episode, things really are okay. Money has been tight over the summer, but Gamerboy is working again now that the semester's started. We have a new creative project that we're working on together, and that we're both very excited about. I've been feeding two different colonies of feral cats, one who hangs around at the hotel and one who's nearby, at the local walgreens, and so far I've only come across one unspayed female (who just had a litter of kittens; she gets extra food while she's nursing, and I hope to catch her for fixing around the end of september).
I haven't been doing a whole lot of knitting, despite having two main projects that I really want to get done. One is Frost Flowers and Leaves, that incredibly old project I over half a decade ago, who is now intended for Ivy and named George. I've got 11 rows to go plus the edging, so in theory I know I should be chugging along towards that finish line! The other project is a boob hat for my friend AllGreek2Me, who is so close to popping out her first child that we've arranged a betting pool. Neither of these projects are taxing, but I haven't been working much on either of them, because of my wrist.
It turns out that Cysty is not, in fact, a ganglion cyst. My old doctor in Aggieland tried to drain him (which is the way to go for ganglions), and no dice. Instead of being filled with the people-jelly that he should have been, he's just a solid motherfucking mass, who is putting increasing amounts of pressure on the bones, nerves, and tendons of my dominant hand. I can't bend my hand back or forward beyond 40 degrees without pain, and I can't lift anything above 10 lbs if it involves using my wrist to do it. I know I need to see a doctor about this, and CLEARLY about my meds, and I'm hoping that within this next month that will become a possibility again. Gamerboy's folks found oil on their land, and they want to do something nice for each of their children, and in our case that might end up being hand surgery. In the meantime, I'm taking things as easy as I can stand, and seriously considering teaching myself to write right-handed.
Wow, again, this post sounds super depressing. I had an episode tonight (as you might've guessed), but I'm feeling fine now. I swear, things are mostly good. Gamerboy and I found a driving route that is full of oddly suburban deer (and well-grazed lawns), and we like to go by there at dawn or dusk. Sometimes we'll go down to the park, and throw them peanuts and bread, which amazingly enough they accept from us, as will the squirrels and the ducks. I feel happy when wild creatures trust me enough to eat what I offer them, which is probably why I feed the outside cats... all 7-10 of them, depending on the night.
I don't recall if I've mentioned it here or not, but I started a small nail polish company, Just The Tip. I was getting in lots of micas and pigments to make my own, and Gamerboy suggested I give it a shot as a business venture. It hasn't exploded with activity by any stretch of the imagination, but it does a steady bit of business, and I enjoy it. I'm currently wearing two different colors, one a duochrome red-pink that flashes into orange, and the other a milk chocolate with a strong violet shimmer. I ought to take pictures of both of them, and put them up on the shop, but I'll probably wait until the weekend for that. I wasn't able to sleep yesterday, and tomorrow is my tough day, so I need to get as much rest in as I can.
I'm rambling now. It's because I'm tired. I have another hour and a half at work, then half an hour to feed and visit with the outside cats, and then I'll go to bed. I'm glad that I wrote this post, because it's probably a good idea to keep a record of when my depressive episodes happen and around how long they last -- this one was about two hours.
Hmm... the breakfast staff have started to open things up at work. I think I know how I'm going to spend the rest of my shift.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
I'm living in New Braunfels, now, where I moved in May 2011 after Gamerboy and I got engaged. I'm working at a hotel, front desk, mostly nights but just enough afternoons to ensure I have nothing resembling a stable sleep schedule.
Heed is now ten years old, Ripley is three, Bucket and Landis are two, and little Moxie Melonhead is just over one. Bucket (black tuxedo mediumhair) and his sister, Moppet (tortie mediumhair), were trapped as feral kittens back when Ivy and I were living together in Aggieland. Before I moved out here, he had gotten to the point where he would voluntarily join me on the bed for snuggles, but since the move he's been more reticent. I try and handle him at least once every six months or so, but mostly I try to give him space. He's not really domestic in the traditional sense, and is still convinced that everyone ever is going to murder him in the face. Landis (orange and white tabby) was Gamerboy's cat, and he's a bit of an asshole. When left to his own devices, he's pushy, rude, and VERY bitey; he's terrified of Ripley, though, so he gives us plenty of love and affection, because we keep him safe from her. Moxie we didn't expect, but she was found in a city dump, with a litter of siblings who had been shot to death, and was only alive because she'd hidden in a soup can. When my (very allergic) friend explained her story, how could I turn her away? She was only 4 weeks old, and sickly enough that her growth was severely stunted; even now she's maybe 5lbs.
There was a thread on Rav today about student loans, and that's what got me depressed enough to turn to blogger. For some reason, I feel melodramatic writing things here, which is probably why I stopped.
In a few months, I will be 30 years old. I have 18k in student loans, 4k in credit card debt, and a husband who's racking up approximately 5o-60k worth of Master's degree. I don't know if he'll be able to find a job in his field when he graduates, or if/when we'll be able to afford a move if/when he does. Neither of us have health insurance, and my brain drugs cost us $150 every month because of it. Gamerboy is depressed, and would like to get on medication for it his own self, but we can't afford the doctor visits, much less another costly prescription (and then more visits, and different prescriptions, until the right medication and amount were found). He's also hurt his back twice this summer, and very likely pre-diabetic.
I started a small nail polish company, which I'm hoping will make it into the black by the end of the year. I've poured about $500 into it, and made about half of that back. It's not a lot, but the fact that it's almost-kinda-actually succeeding to a degree is sometimes the only thing that keeps me from feeling like a complete failure. I've been having more depressive episodes, sleeping way too much, and not eating much or well.
My goal in life, right now, would be to one day own a very small house, with about 4 or 5 acres of land (10 when I'm feeling generous with myself). I would like to have goats and chickens and a garden, and any livestock above and beyond that would be great too. I would like to have a whole craft room, health insurance, an adopted child or two, and a job where I took home over 20k a year. What I actually think will happen looks more like a series of apartments for the rest of our lives, possibly so much as a townhome one day, and a hopefully-stable population of cats. Maybe a dog if we ever get that townhome.
This isn't a terribly chipper post, all told. The most exciting things in my life right now are taking pictures of new colors of polish, and seeing if I can figure out how to turn some of my dry pigments into calligraphy ink. I splurged and bought some fabric this month, for a skirt that I'm hand-sewing and what I hope will be a shirt to go with it, and also two bottles of pretty ink (bought before I realized I might be able to make my own).
I've also taken to covering my hair when I leave the house, which oddly enough is one of the more positive things in my life right now. I seem to feel more secure when I'm wearing a scarf, safer and therefore more confident, and it makes me happy. My hair's grown out almost all the way back to where it was before I cut it, and I plan to let it get as long as it can from here on out.
I also realized as I was writing all of this that I'd forgotten to take my pills for the last two days. That could explain this mood I'm in. It's also almost 7 in the morning, which is bedtime for me these days.
Not everything sucks. I'm in a weekly online D&D game, a play-by-mail steampunk game (surprise surprise, the root of my inklust), and I've gotten closer to most of my new inlaws. Gamerboy's parents are surprisingly awesome. I pared down my yarn and fiber stash into one small closet's worth, all of it awesome, and I now have a walk-in closet (the Glitter Cave) where all of the polish things live and the cats can't go. It's a nice little sanctuary, and sometimes I go in there just to relax. My weight has been fairly stable, which is nice considering how hard it is for me to exercise, but swimming in the river is free and doesn't put any strain on my wrist (which has gotten worse, unfortunately. I can't put any weight on it, or bend it terribly far in any direction). I've got another shawl design in my head, but I think I need to start it over again - the yarn I began in is too pricey for me to get enough to finish, which is a shame because it's just lovely. I also picked up an absurdly cheap floor loom on craigslist, and I hope to soon learn how to use it.
I think I'm starting to get over the mood I was in when I started this post. Mostly right now I'm just tired, and a little cranky. I think it's time for me to usher in a few cats and go to bed.
UPDATE: Gamerboy just came in, bearing a cat for me to snuggle, and we talked over some of what I've posted here. He always makes me feel better when I'm in a funk. My worries are still there, but they no longer feel quite so insurmountable <3
Friday, July 02, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I'll tell you where: pretty much exactly where I was two months ago.
The first batch of chickens, the Magnificent Seven posted about in April, have moved outside. A few days after my last post, Ivy and I took a long drive into Austin and came home with a box of 8 tiny Silkie chicks. Three were yellow, four were black, and one was partridge. Of those, we lost one yellow chick who ate out of my hand without hesitation, and the one little black chick who was turning silver.
Right now we're eagerly awaiting the day when the silkies will be able to join their older siblings out at Sunshine's farm. The coop still isn't finished, but they're living in a wired-together conglomeration of old rabbit hutches and dog crates, and they have plenty of room.
The garden... has failed. Or rather, I failed it. I couldn't make it out there every week, much less the multiple times it would require to keep up with an 80 square foot plot, weeding and harvesting and reseeding. Eventually the community garden folks told me to put up or shut up (in so many words), and I had to admit that my plots would be better taken care of with someone else. It's making me seriously rethink my dream of Persian PenName: Hobby Farmer, and that might be for the best.
I do still want to live on a small acreage of land, with fruit trees and goats and chickens and perhaps a mini-cow, milking my own animals every morning, making my own preserves and living off the bounty of my own land, but I might have to start smaller than homesteading on my own with a terribly limited skill set. At least I know how to properly milk a goat now, and butcher and castrate them, and trim their hooves. Goats and chickens I'm feeling pretty secure on.
This past week has been pretty rough on me. Sunshine and I had to admit that we make better friends than partners, which was rough, but probably one of the most grown-up decisions I've made; Ye Olde Camry broke down, and according to the one mechanic in town I implicitly trust it's going to be somewhere between $250 and $400 to fix, and I'm considering trading it in for a used Smart Car or a moped or something; oh, and my bike was stolen.
That, and they announced that they're going to start laying people off in the library where I work. They're not using longevity or merit as part of their criteria, so there is literally nothing - not one single thing - that I can use to say "oh, well they won't cut me, because of this very valid reason". All things being equal, about one in every ten people are likely to be cut, and we won't even know in what departments until the end of next month, and no particular names until the end of August. I started job hunting, since that just seems like the smart thing to do in these circumstances, but my heart's not really in it. I'm also looking in other states, since... I've never really been in a position to move out of Texas before, you don't get much more ready than single and newly laid off.
I'd have to take my share of the chickens with me, of course, or sadly give them to Ivy until I got a yard. Banties are tough little guys, though, so I'm sure they wouldn't mind a climate change all too much.
I have family in Indiana and Tennessee, so it might be nice to move closer to them. My Aunt Nina is dying of an MRSA infection, and there's nothing I can do about it. She'd already gotten to the point of not recognizing anyone by the time I heard she was sick, so even if I spent the money to get up there and visit her, she wouldn't know. And as much as it hurts me to say it, I don't have the funds to take a trip she won't be lucid for. It's crazy, really, and it makes me cry if I think about it for too long, so I'm going to change the subject now.
I got my hair cut. It's pretty short now, and definitely falls somewhere on the "Oh, so I see you like the ladies" end of the spectrum, but I like it. For now, anyway.
Ivy got a cat. Her name is Lolita, and after a few days of tense hissing and angry growls, she and Ripley seem to be getting along well. She is a fluffy tortie, mostly black, and she is still a bit skittish around me. I can definitely see the difference in confidence level between her and my cats, and I have to wonder if it's because she's changed owners at least twice in the past year; Ripley's never had reason to think she would live with someone else, and I don't think Heed could even formulate the thought.
Ivy has been teaching me to cook. I can make steak now! And mashed potatoes, and veggies, and pies. Lots of pies. I make elaborate baked goods when I'm sad, these days, and after Sunshine and I had our talk I started right in on some pie crusts. I've already eaten half the chess pie I made, but I ran out of energy before I could finish the shaker lemon pie, so that's probably my project for tomorrow.
I started buying fabric last month, intending to make a quilt. I don't think that's going to happen anymore, but I do believe I'll have a number of nice skirts before the week is up. Probably all on the same pattern, a tiered peasant skirt, which will be odd not only because it will mean that I now own non-costume skirts voluntarily for the first time in my life, but because I've got enough fabric that I'll have more skirts than actual pairs of pants.
In other news, I made a tweed Godzilla plushie. Finishing up a denim one too, and they'll be given to Sunshine's kids.