I was scrolling through the calendar on my phone, looking for an appointment I couldn’t remember making, when I scrolled across a repeating reminder.
It made my stomach drop to be honest, and I flashed to memories of a lacy white dress, yellow roses on white tablecloths, and promises that were supposed to last forever.
“For better or for worse.”
“For richer or for poorer.”
“Forsaking all others…”
“Anniversary…” plugged in to my phone because I’ve always had a hell of a time with dates, even important ones, and I need reminders. And there it was, my reminder, set to repeat into infinity, because when you get married you promise each other forever, and you can’t imagine a world where you won’t need a reminder for that date.
I pulled the red and white notice off the door of my Heights house with a sigh. We would be fined within days if the lawn continued un-mowed, if the landscaping wasn’t trimmed back. Jeremiah and I (mostly Jeremiah) had been in a slow war with the code enforcement officer in the Heights most of the time that we lived there. Our fence was the first infraction–built on a corner lot and requiring signatures of all the neighbors and a hearing at city hall to build–but from then on the inspector took every opportunity to cite us, and Jeremiah took every opportunity to provoke him. We learned after the fence incident that bribes were the usual way of dealing with his red and white citations, and it seemed that forcing the issue with the city had been something of an embarrassment to him when all the council members immediately approved our “beautiful fence.”
There are days when our little corner of the world starts to feel like the Island of Misfit Toys…except, instead of toys, we have creatures, and they don’t really seem in a hurry to leave.
Still, just from where I sit in our sunroom, I see a one-time alley cat who hates outside, a one-time barn cat who was literally too dumb to survive in the barn, and a German Shepherd with hip dysplasia and allergies to pretty much everything (like me!). Out in the pastures, I have two mini-ponies rescued from New Holland, an off the track thoroughbred who wasn’t nearly fast enough, and more rescued llamas than you can shake a stick at… And, in my basement…Turkeys.
Our latest misfits are Turkeys. I am now officially sharing my home with large poultry (but only until they’re big enough to go outside).
My husband brought them home…
You see, my husband…
Well, some of you are familiar with him…
Erm…I mean complex.
On the one hand, he’s a former professional firefighter, former cop, trained farrier, trained sniper who has been in more intense situations than anyone else I’ve ever met. (Jeremiah once called me to let me know that he had gotten in a fistfight with a professional boxer who had been beating on his girlfriend…SWAT ended up being called in that day.) On the other hand, he’s a total goofball and one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever known. (Such aspects of his personality are lesser known; this post is totally going to mess with his image…)
A few weeks ago, while I was at the office, he was charged with running to the feed store to pick up some of the farm necessities that we always seem to be running out of. While he was there, he wandered over to the chicks. All they had were turkeys, and three of them were separated out from the rest. Apparently, those three were picked on by the other, bigger turkeys, necessitating their move.
As he was speaking with the clerk, a big guy in camo wandered by. Upon hearing that the little ones in front of him got picked on, he interjected.
“Oh, that’s easy. If they get picked on you just kill ’em younger. Makes good eatin.”
And that’s when my firefighter, cop, sniper, farrier husband who forges his own swords said, “Nope. They’re mine. I’ll take them.”
Moments later, he posted this photo to Facebook
I’m not sure what we’re going to do with our turkey friends once they get bigger, but I do know they won’t end up on our dinner plates. This trio is safe.
For now, they’re living it up in the basement…
Shakin’ their tail feathers…
And discovering the joy of mealworms. These guys think Jeremiah is pretty great; they follow him around with enthusiasm when given the chance.
And really, when you have 50+ animals, what’s three more misfits???
P.S. – Welcome to all of you recent subscribers. I’m so glad to have you here!
For dinner tonight, we ate acorn squash, cottage cheese, and sautéed brussel sprouts. It was an admittedly unexciting meal, but I was tired, and planning on working through dinner, so I didn’t put too much thought into it.
I sat at my desk eating the brussel sprouts with my fingers and taking bites of squash between thoughts as I drafted an email to a client. I finished up the correspondence, and then finished off my plate, quickly shoveling the cottage cheese into my mouth, so I could put the plate in the kitchen and clear some desk space.
As I put my plate in the sink, I noticed that Jeremiah had dumped about a third of his meal into the container of scraps for the chickens. Specifically, all of the cottage cheese along with just a bite of squash and a few brussel sprout leaves.
I called into the living room where Jeremiah was busy painting.
“Not so much on the cottage cheese?”
“Yeah. Sorry. I tried. Just couldn’t do it.”
But more on that later…
A few of you might have noticed that I haven’t written in a little while. Two weeks ago marked the International Hoof Summit in Cincinnati, OH. For Jeremiah, that means a week-long farrier Disneyland with exhibits and presentations and farrier toys. He gets to hang out with colleagues from all over the world and exchange ideas and share insight on particular cases. He looks forward to it all year.
For me, however, the Summit means a week of tending to things by myself, hopefully still managing a work/life balance. (I failed miserably by the way. I’m not entirely sure how I would manage weeks like this one if I didn’t work for my dad.) This time it meant trying to fix the horse fence in 15 degree weather, falling into the manure pit (at least once) while trying to dump the wheelbarrow, and unfreezing a frozen lock on the chicken coop every day for three days straight. While he was gone, we had two blizzards and my mom went into the hospital with pneumonia. (She was finally discharged yesterday.) And, just to top it off, Miss Amelia had to go to a semi-emergency vet visit thanks to a complication from her stick escapade. (She just finished her antibiotics for that today.)
Of course, two days after he got home, he came down with some sort of farrier flu (I’m assuming…) and is only now feeling a tiny bit better. He’s been stuck inside since and going a little stir crazy. As soon as he goes outside, it seems he is back at square one. So, I’ve been doing most of the chores and trying to keep him from trying to help. It only sort of works.
And then, a few days ago my pet hedgehog died.
I spent the morning paying bills, trying, like everyone, to stretch every dollar just a little farther than it wanted to go. Since taking over the farm, we’ve stretched things a little farther than we’re used to. Mostly that’s due to having propane heat and a big old drafty house (as opposed to natural gas and a little bitty old drafty house). It’s been a lesson in tightening our belts a little, but it’s totally worth it to make this place our own and live this farmhouse dream that we’ve both had since childhood.
Still, with sick husbands and mothers and puppies, and bills to pay, and stalls to clean (and by that I mean all the shit to deal with, whether literal or figurative), and work to do…it can get a little overwhelming, can’t it?
And sometimes we need a reminder that we have it pretty good most of the time.
Back to the cottage cheese and my lazy dinner.
“So, what did cottage cheese ever do to you?”
Jeremiah has some weird food hang ups, including the belief that avocados are actually alien eggs; I expected to hear that cottage cheese was against his religion or something. But that wasn’t what he said.
“When I was a kid, and we lived in Arizona, there was a stretch when things were really bad. One week, my parents didn’t have any money for food. And the food pantry didn’t have anything much either. Just cottage cheese. So we took the cottage cheese. We ate it, just cottage cheese, for about a week. But some of it was bad and it made us sick…really sick I haven’t been able to eat it since.”
That’s one way to put things in perspective.
So, tonight I will enjoy a glass of cheap wine in my way too chilly house. And I’m going to raise a glass to “pretty good most of the time” because when you think about it, that’s something worth celebrating.
The end is drawing nigh. And by the end I think I mean the beginning, or possibly the middle.
(Is it apparent yet that I almost never have any real idea what I’m talking about?)
For the past week or so, we’ve been cleaning and painting in preparation for actually moving into the farm. Now, we don’t have the whole house yet, as the previous occupants are storing some of their belongings at the ranch until they can have them moved (their new home is still under construction), but we do have most of the upstairs at our disposal, and, given that just the upstairs of the new house is more than twice the size of my present home, I think we can manage.
My goals before moving are as follows:
1. Finished Bedroom.
2. Clean and Functional Kitchen.
3. Clean and Functional Bathroom.
4. Clean Sunroom.
I have attempted a cursory cleaning of the whole upstairs, but the living room, for example, won’t really be cleanable until the window is replaced. (We’re thinking the contractor will be getting back with us today on that…) Plus, at the moment, it’s where we’re putting all of the other furniture as we clean other rooms.
Anyway, about a week or so ago, I undertook the project of painting our new master bedroom. It’s 300+ square feet all on its own, so it was no small task. If I’m being honest, I’ve had the primary paint color for over a month. It’s just one of those projects that I really didn’t even want to start.
The above pictures were taken several months ago. I think it goes without saying that there is a ton of potential in the room. For one, it’s huge! There is a ton of natural light. It takes up the entire end of the house. It also needed a lot of updating. The carpet, original to the house I think, had to go. The previous occupants left the furniture you see in the photo for us to keep if we wished. The walls, white throughout the house except where there is wallpaper, needed an update.
So, last week, I started updating it.
I should tell you, once upon a time, I enjoyed painting. My experience thereof was mostly a room here and there in my parents’ house or a room or two helping out a friend. Then, Jeremiah and I bought our first home. It’s only 800 or so square feet, but we basically painted every single room. That was only three and a half years ago.
I don’t like painting so much anymore… But over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that painting is an emotional process, as well as a physical one. It’s almost cyclical, really. Somewhere between the first coat of “Beach” on that first wall and the last coat of high gloss white on the crown molding, I’ve come to realize that there are definite stages of painting.
The Stages of Painting
Stage One: Optimism (AKA – Wall Number One)
During Stage One of painting, everything is coming up sunshine and roses. It is during that stage that you congratulate yourself. Paint that had been in a pail is going on the wall. It’s a step in the right direction. You are doing it! You’re awesome. Go you! Not only are you being productive, but you have excellent taste. Not just anyone can pick a good paint color. (We’ve all been to those houses where someone else’s “sunny yellow” looks more like “dehydrated urine”…you know what I’m talking about.) But you? You picked “Beach” grey from a myriad of other greys. And “Beach” grey, it appears, is probably the best grey in the history of ever.
Stage Two: Boredom
Stage Two moves past the initial self-congratulatory stage and into tedium. You’re bored. Also, you’re pretty sure gnomes have come in the night and have slapped white paint up where you had painted grey. Beach grey, to be exact. Though, now that you’re looking at it, you’re not sure it’s quite so “beachy.” How do they come up with those names, anyway? And seriously with the gnomes…you are sure you had more done. And what was wrong with white, anyway? Other than the vaguely clinical feel it had…you can totally deal with institutional white for the rest of your life, right? Right?
Stage Three: Reinforcements
This is the one where every girl on the planet (or maybe just me) starts to consider calling in the cavalry…
And he comes over, and he slaps a second coat of paint up way faster than should have been humanly possible. As you look around, you briefly revert to Stage One. Wow – look at that; two whole coats! Looks pretty good if you do say so yourself. Totally Beachy! You are a master of paint choosing! And it wasn’t THAT bad.
You are practically done. Except for that bump out wall, and all the trim, and the baseboards, and the crown molding.
You start to look around at all the detail work, and the optimism vanishes again.
Stage Four: Doubt
You may never finish this. Between the detail work and the gnomes, this will probably never get done. It is with a sigh that you choose your second color. Your “accent” color. You pick something with a coffee name. MMMMM…coffee. You totally need coffee. Coffee would probably make everything better.
You briefly wonder if you picked the color solely because you’re tired and need coffee. It doesn’t really matter though, because you will NEVER, EVER finish.
Stage Five: Insanity
The coffee color looks pretty darn great. You realize that it would look fantastic on the baseboards! And the trim! And who cares if it’s a super dark color with no room for error? You’ve totally got this!
Stage five doesn’t last very long. You move almost immediately into stage six. Regret.
Stage Six: Regret (AKA Trimming and Weeping)
During this stage, you get to be exceedingly good with tape, but not quite good enough. You paint the baseboards and trim with two coats of an absurdly dark color (what were you thinking?) and then manically correct tiny imperfections with a craft brush roughly the size of your pinkie nail. Why? Well, because the crappy paint lines in your current bedroom have been bugging you for almost three years. And you won’t have it again! (This stage mimics insanity quite nicely…)
Stage Six: Rage!
The trim is nearly finished. Then the unthinkable happens. All is takes is one poorly applied piece of tape above the window frame. That line is crap, and you flip your lid over a paint line that follows a poorly applied piece of tape (the one and only piece of tape stuck down by your poor, unfortunate husband). It’s on the last freaking piece of trim before the crown molding! You are very lucky that no one else is there because at this point you would probably be institutionalized. You are especially lucky that your husband is no where to be found, because the rage that is burning within your soul is completely unreasonable. You need a moment to quell it…and to fix that freaking paint line.
You call it a day because painting is no reason to turn into the Hulk.
Stage Seven: Acceptance and Relief
You are now a pro. The tape below the crown molding is almost perfect, and it has been applied as one consecutive piece. You slap it up in minutes. And even your husband, who you are no longer unreasonably furious with (luckily that passed quickly and internally) is impressed. Two coats of high gloss white go up without much issue. And, amazingly, you are done.
Seriously. You are done. It is finished. You thought this moment would never come, especially with the gnomes. But it’s here.
And it is magnificent.
But, if you’re honest, you feel very little satisfaction. Just relief. You are so relieved that you don’t even mind that you got white paint on your favorite Doctor Who t-shirt.
Between my husband’s insane shoeing schedule, and a week-long church conference that he attends every year, I’ve been on my own a lot lately. (I start a lot of posts kind of like this, don’t I?) This is fairly normal for us. Summers stay very busy in a farrier’s world, and most of his clientele are between 3 and 7 hours away. And when Jeremiah is away, I am called up to bat.
The ranch–especially right now, running it from a half an hour away–usually takes up most of both of our time. Our lives are a juggling act, split between maintenance and renovations…and the other things that make the money to pay for the former. When it’s only one of us, for more than a day or so, it starts to take up all of your time. (I am so behind at work…this week, while Jeremiah is home for a few days, I play catch up.)
He was gone for several days last week, back for part of the fourth, gone again, home for half a day on the 6th, left for his conference on the 7th, and just got back into town yesterday. In that time, I’ve been running ragged. Bookended by two emergency vet visits, this has been a week (+) that I won’t soon forget, and there are parts of it I kind of wish I could…
This year I celebrated our nation’s independence waiting on the vet. The littlest alpaca (that should be the name of a children’s book) caught her eyelid on something unsavory…and ripped it. I’ll be honest, I have a photo of what that looked like, but I’ll spare you.
I call the vet; the vet put us on a list of emergency calls and said he’d text when he got to the farm. I went to the house to wait. He came and treated the alpaca by himself, forgetting to text, and left. I proceed to wait on him for most of the rest of the afternoon, with Jeremiah taking over for me that evening when I head out to get ready for the cookout we were planning with my family. Jeremiah waits until I text the vet to ask about his progress…and he tells me that he had finished hours earlier. My busy husband was thrilled to have waited around all evening for nothing.
Day two of my week alone. I named my favorite chicken. Sweet and Cute and Beautiful, it took me longer for her than the others.
The day starts with a little headache that slowly progresses into a migraine. I am completely useless by the end of the day and very thankful that Jeremiah’s little sister is so capable of taking care of things at the ranch. (I’m not sure how well things would have fared out there without her help this week.)
Jeremiah’s little sister takes morning chores to help me out (still headachy, but way better than the night before). I get a phone call that one of my chickens is missing. Little miss Renegade got out the night before. Coon. Dead.
I never in a million years thought I would get teary-eyed over the death of a chicken, but, when I found her feathers (etc) in the woods, I had to work very hard to not cry. I spent the rest of the afternoon securing the chicken stall more thoroughly, all the while kicking myself for not being more careful earlier.
Came home to these:
Because I’m married to a guy who understands that his wife WILL cry over a dead chicken.
The evening was salvaged. Gabby and Katie did chores for me. I had dinner with colleagues from the University. (And discovered that I really like croquet.) After dinner and drinks and good conversation, I was feeling far better.
(Also, I brought them fresh eggs…because apparently I’m that person now.)
Spent 40 minutes chasing this little bugger around when she got out. (Stall is, in fact, more secure, but she was a tricksy hobbitses.)
Possibly my least favorite chicken, she is the least friendly and, of course, the most difficult bird to catch that I own. Gabby and I eventually got her. She has a very impolite name now…
Morning goes off with out a hitch. My guy comes home. We head out for an easy evening of chores before relaxing…
I head off to feed the horses, separating Vin, who gets picked on by the others.
And he slices himself open on the gate.
One emergency vet visit–different vet this time, who was there right away and very helpful–and twenty stitches later…
We finally make it off the farm at 8:30.
Last night, I had bad dreams about injured horses and dead chickens.
So there’s the latest in the tales of Eagle Ridge Ranch. (My husband has taken to calling it calamity acres…) The bad and the ugly are evident…
1. The injured alpaca is doing very well. She got her eyelid, but not her eye. No compromised vision.
2. I’m married to someone who sends me flowers from several states away because my chicken died.
3. I found a horse vet yesterday who came right away and was exceedingly helpful.
4. Despite the injury, Vin, who is an off-the-track rescue, proved to me just how far he’s come since moving in with us last October. When Jeremiah first went to bring him home, he reared and threw fits just walking down the lane. He didn’t want to load. For several months, he ran away every time we walked into the pasture, scared of almost everyone and everything. Last night, he let me catch him despite the gaping wound in his side. He stood calmly away from his herd. He left the pasture without a second thought. I was nearly in tears (happy ones this time) at how far he has come since he came home. It reinforced my belief that he and I might just have a future together.
Watch out lower level show world! Vinny and I will be coming for you!
(Yes, he’s a little underweight yet; we’re working on it.)