Monday, November 13, 2017

NJ comes to see the farm

Dan and Lindsi came all the way to Lester's Flat from way down south in Jersey. Just in time for their visit we had our first snow of the season. They were very much amused by all of the animals—goats, piggies, chickens—and the many photos they took of said animals should be evidence of that.

Lindsi was especially amused by the big boys inside the house, Woody and Cyrus. Dan even did a bit of singing on the couch with Cyrus while Woody was barking in the kitchen, which is what Woody did whenever he had the chance. Big boys also put on a great show wrestling and beating the crap out of each other more than once. As usual, cat boys hid upstairs.

I coerced Dan to send me this photo of him and Tom Waits from back in our days at Glassboro State College in the 1970s. I am a huge fan of Tom Waits, and I just love everything about this photo! Dan was working for the Student Activities Board and was helping Tom either set up or take down for the concert (which was excellent BTW!). I guess they were doing a bit of partying in public (notice plastic cup of beer) when they were picked up by the police. I think they spent just long enough in the police station to have their picture taken... Dan's 15 minutes of fame! Or infamy?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cats in bed and wasps at work

I think I need to do a cats-in-bed series of photos, Willie and Monkey are excellent posers. Apparently they enjoy hanging out together in our bed during the day. Probably safer and definitely calmer than hanging out downstairs with the dogs.

Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, it was a crazy summer that has ended abruptly. Reports of a bit of snow for the weekend (just in time for the NJ visitors) and we had a bit yesterday as well. The bees, wasps, grasshoppers and even dragonflies were all abuzz this summer, and more abundant than ever. Evidence of their crazed state is this wasp nest that is easily twice the size of my head. My equally crazy neighbors were thrilled to come and cut this and another smaller one out of the apple trees to hang in their homes. Must be a guy thing...I don't get it...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Post-Halloween Howl

Too bad they couldn't act up on Halloween. Cyrus is doing his wolf howl in reaction to Woody's hound dog melody. No reason for this at all, they were just being their normal goofy selves.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween on a Tuesday!

Happy Halloween!

Why oh why did Halloween fall on a Tuesday, when I am working at the newspaper until late in the evening? (I was there until 11:30 last night—scary late!)

This is the first year in awhile where I was unable to judge the children's costumes at the firehouse. The Husband had to fill in for me.

I did have the pleasure of seeing my friend Art Boden at New York Pizza in Cooperstown where I stopped for lunch. He obviously enjoys dressing up for this festive occasion, to the delight (and fear) of all who enter.

Photo credit: Parker Fish, The Freeman's Journal

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Back and Bach in Schuyler Lake

MonkeyCat all tucked into The Hub's coat, only his little head peeking out. I am back home after a short trip to NJ (see previous post). I was down there just long enough to miss the end of summer up here. We are now getting the chillier weather we should have had weeks ago...not that anyone is complaining!

If I can get this video to upload, you will hear the young Lucian Lytel bringing Bach (on the viola) to the Little White Church Coffee House in Schuyler Lake.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cheagle? Behuahua? Chihoundhound?

Lucky in the bank
New pressure-treated deck
It's official, Little Sister's new puppy is a mystery mix. We have since found out that her Mama was a chihuahua mix, possibly some corgi in her. We will never know what Papa is, but guessing a mix as well. If there is shepherd in there, it is only providing the coloring and the long legs, certainly not the size. We think beagle or hound is the cause of the floppy ears (certainly not a chihuahua or corgi thing). She did gain a pound or 2 in the week+ that LS has had her. Up to 15 lbs at 4 months, vet says maybe 25 all grown up. I'm thinking 30 lbs, which is just perfect.

Inspecting the firepit repairs
Went to NJ for the weekend and spent lots of quality time with Little Sister and the puppa. Took her all over on Monday while LS was in school. We bought some deck stain at Lowe's (for the new deck!), we went to PetSmart (of course) and she even patiently waited in the bank while I filled out the papers for our new landlord/tenant account.

New tenant in the NJ house is a blessing! She is the daughter of some old volleyball friends of mine. I gave her free reign to do whatever she wants in the house, because I am sure she has good taste. She has already made some huge improvements, mostly painting, but also her Pop updated a lot of the electrical outlets so we could pass our code inspection.

Palmyra Code Office has not been a blessing, but we have passed almost all of the hurdles. Brand new deck in the back thanks to Jeff Skertic! Shame on us for never sealing the cedar deck we had done in 2004(?). Firepit is repaired (inspected by Number 1 Inspector Lucky). 3 windows fixed. Getting chimney liner for old brick chimney. It hasn't been cheap, but once all these repairs are done and tenant is done with her remodeling of my old house, I think we will have an easier time selling it when we put it back on the market next year. Unless of course we convince said tenant to buy it!

Recognize my old living room? Me either!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Sheagle Has Landed!

Little Sister sadly lost her beloved pup Jersey Girl 2 weeks ago. Devastated was her word to describe her loss.

In her search for a new companion, she came upon this little sweetie—a rescue puppy from Hurricane Harvey's attack on Texas. We have been having fun trying to come up with the mix of breeds in this little one, and we settled on shepherd/beagle. Mom was only 17 pounds, but dad had to be larger because 4-month-old puppy is already 17 pounds.

Since everyone seems to love designer dogs with goofy names, I came up with Sheagle for this little girl, and I gave her a pink cowgirl hat because she came from Texas, and it has a little tiara on the hat because currently the pup is named Tiara.

I am sure Little Sister will have fun coming up with a better name for her. She is picking her up somewhere in New Jersey as we speak.

The other 3 photos are to prove what a strange summer/fall we are having. It is mid-October and the flowers are still blooming, bees still buzzing. Actually these little bumblebees seem to have died in place. There are more than ever, having a party on all the flowers that remain, but a few are just clinging to their
last blossom, and then they fall to the ground, poor bumbles!

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Erie Canal

The Husband's sister Susan and her husband Joe came north for a visit this Columbus Day weekend. They were lucky to catch not only some leaf color, but also 2 days of pretty nice warm weather. Of course today they have to drive back to PA through the remnants of Hurricane Nate, but it's not supposed to be too bad.

It is grey and rainy here today. The brightest part of our morning was breakfast with Sue and Joe at The Barnwell Inn where they stayed for the weekend. Thanks to Tara and Mark, now we don't have to eat for the rest of the day. Husband got some of his favorite peach cobbler.

Yesterday we abused our visitors by taking them on a tour of the Erie Canal. It is something we have been wanting to do... We like to avoid the tourist traps unless we have relatives we can drag along.

Captain Jerry made the trip quite interesting with that tour-bus-driver kind of chatter along the way. Other than the lock itself, there really isn't much to see, but we were pleasantly entertained by his knowledge of the history of the canal.

We went to Lock 18 where they lower the boat 20 feet in some magical feat of engineering with no motors. The 100-year-old GE motors are only used to open and close the gates at either end.

This is the Bicentennial celebration of the Erie Canal—begun July 4, 1817. The part we were on was not the original, but built in 1905 (?). Parts of the original canal were visible, including in front of the Fort Herkimer Church. Nicholas Herkimer, legendary Revolutionary War general in the Battle of Oriskany, was commander at the fort.
And here's my bit of historical chatter:

The brother of General Nicholas Herkimer, Hendrick Herkimer, was owner of the Herkimer Farm. Our little 20 acres is a small part of the old Herkimer Farm. The Herkimer Cemetery is just a few feet from our property line, and the original home from the late 1700s and the hop-picker's barn (AKA Charlie's Magic Barn) are at the end of our driveway.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Steamy and hot in September

It's time for pumpkins and mums. It's autumn in upstate NY. It's 89° and humid. What's wrong with this picture?

I shouldn't complain about warm sunny days up here, but what's going on? It has been a crazy weather year—even the animals are confused. Lazy dogs and cats sleeping in the sun. Chickens and goats hiding in the shade. More dragonflies than ever this summer. Wasps and bees all going crazy. An early frost killed off some of the tomato plants but the remaining ones are full of fruit. Too many apples...

And then there's my beautiful Barred Rock rooster. Having nothing to do with the weather, he is going to be the next Greek chicken dinner. This morning he attacked me for the second time. I had to chase him off with a stick. And he went after Brian when they were visiting.

4 roosters is too many roosters. As long as they all behave they get to stay. As soon as they don't—chicken dinner for our Greek friend. It's a cold cruel world. Or an unseasonably hot cruel world, I guess.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pigs, chickens, and a toad

Three little piggies—Round 7

Had to do some research to remember all the pig names since 2011 when we first started as pig farmers. These might not be in order, but Rick Perry and Michele Bachman were definitely the first in 2011: Rick and Michele (politics); Steve and Eydie and Frank Sinatra (obviously musical); Fiona and Richie (Thistle and Shamrock hostess with the mostess); Alice, Nora, and Irving (an author year); Peter, Paul and Mary (more music); John and Mary (lazy namers); and, finally, a Chuck Berry theme this time: Little Queeny (front) Carol (little black one) Johnny B Goode (big red dude). Johnny and Queeny are about 2 weeks older than little Carol. Queeny got fattened up here about 2 weeks before Johnny and Carol.

Husband has been bugging me to take pics of them before they get too big (and less cute!). He couldn't wait any longer so took these pics all by himself today.

Then a pic of Husband's butterfly garden that was overrun with goldenrod, as is the rest of our property that isn't mowed. At least some of the cosmos and zinnias were able to survive the weeds, and the chickens who like to take their dirt baths in the shade underneath.

Red chicken in the front is the youngest rooster born here a few months ago. He is unloved by the rest and spends most of his day staying out of their way. Black and white roo behind him is the next youngest, and by far the noisiest rooster of the 4 we have here. He is one of the dozen we bought who were supposed to be all hens... Oh well...

Our cute little house is in the back. Don on the Hill's house is up on the hill behind our cute little house.

Last pic is a little toad who was hanging out on the front porch today. Let me get right in his face to take this pic. I wonder if he thought they were real flowers?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Apples galore!

Step 1: Pick and wash the apples.

Step 2: Slice and cook.
This one batch of apples made 10 jars of apple butter and 2 of applesauce. There are about 100 times that amount of apples left out there, and that's just on our property...

Anybody want to come up and pick?

Those little black spots don't taste bad...they just aren't pretty.

Step 3: Use the magic smusher to remove seeds and peel.

Step 4: Cook again. Add sugar and spice to make it nice.

Step 5: Put in jars and cook again.
That's the leftover juice in the back.
Not sure what I will do with that?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hammer to the rescue

Frank Hammer, bee guy, to the rescue on Saturday. It took him only a few minutes to load the swarm into a spare hive and ship them back to his place in Richfield.

The first guy we called turned us down because he was too far away...and maybe because it was a beautiful Saturday on Labor Day weekend. Then his wife called back with Frank's phone number.

Not only is Frank just a mile or 3 up the road from us, but he is also best friends with the NJ cousins that I recently discovered on the lake up here. Their lake house is right across the lane from Frank. Frank was best man (I think) at their wedding in NJ.

Thank you Frank! We are very happy to have met you!

And, speaking of those NJ cousins, we stopped by for a visit today and took their canoe out for a spin on the lake. We are thinking of buying it from them. Even though it was quite windy (whitecaps even!) we managed to take a good spin without falling in. Then, to make up for our successful canoe run, I walked right through their screen door coming back out of the house. I think that was even more embarrassing than if we had fallen in the lake. We could have blamed that on the wind, and the fact that we probably haven't been in a canoe for 10 or 15 years.

Oh well. Sorry about the screen door Donna and Steve! I hope the little bit of crabby mac and cheese I gave you will make up for it!

Today I am making plum butter from all those plums Don gave me. Smells REAL good!

And I might even have some good news on the NJ house, but not reporting until it becomes reality... Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Not warm but swarm!

I thought it was only wasps that swarmed in the fall, so when I saw thousands of somethings swarming just outside the back door, I thought that's what they were. And then I saw the nest!

A little investigating on Google produced some photos that look just like this nest in the little redbud tree inside the dog fence. That gave us both a little more courage to go back and take these photos.

Husband had seen a guy on Craig's List who will remove and take them to his apiary in Norwich. He's busy with a customer, but hopefully coming soon to take them to their new home!

The other excitement today, which happened just minutes before the swarming bees, was that the biggest raccoon I have ever seen killed one of our chickens. I heard the excitement but didn't go out to check because the chickens are always squawking about something, and usually it's nothing. But then Husband went out a few minutes later and there she was, poor girl. He went back to the coop to make sure there were no more dead hens, and that's when he found that big fat raccoon.

I locked him in the coop and Farmer Husband shot him. Never fun to kill critters, but if we don't he'll just come back and kill all the chickens one by one.

Too cool for summer! Had the woodstove going last night for a bit. It has been a totally crazy summer as far as the weather is concerned. Even had a light frost overnight earlier in the week. I hope the tomatoes survive...there are PLENTY of them out there!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rita and Susan

The Husband's Mom, Rita, and his sister, Susan, had a strong resemblance to each other. I will even say they had similar personalities.

Rita came to Lester's Flat for a visit a few months before she passed away, and just a few days after Rico the goat was born. We thought Rico was a girl, and we asked her if we could name him Rita. She loved the idea...but then, well, it wouldn't do to have a boy named Rita...

So the following year, after Rita had passed (we miss you!) we had a little white female goat born here that we named Rita. It was only after she was about a year old that she turned into a redhead, like her namesake.

Then, this past year we kept 2 of the 10 kids that were born here and sold the rest. Roger Ramjet was the buckling who struggled to stay alive, and another little white female that we named after Susan Sontag, the writer. It took awhile to figure it out, but guess what? Susan the goat is now a redhead as well! So she must have really been named after Tim's sister.

No offense to the humans, but I think your goats are beautiful too! Our 2 pretty redheads get along very well even if they are not mother and daughter.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar eclipse

The eclipse was a big deal around here, even though we were too far north to get the full effect.

I am linking to this article (although there are several from the newspaper where I work) because my dear friend Tara took the photo, and because it is a better version of the same one I took with my iPhone. In both photos, ignore the big sun flare, and look for the little moon slice (hers to the right, mine underneath) which is actually a slice of the sun blotted out by the moon.

The next 2 photos were of Libby and me experimenting with a hole punched through a lunch container.

All the buzz around town.

It was mighty difficult not to look up while it was going on, but I am a believer in the media reports which warned not to look with bare eyes.

Let that be a lesson to you, POTUS. Not all media is fake. Seriously? You would risk your eyesight? I just don't know what to say about that...