Monday, December 10, 2012

The old man is here...

The weather in Texas is weird.  Whatever it is supposed to be doing, chances are, it won't.  Most of the time, I am totally okay with that.  Except for the extreme drought conditions of the last two years, I can handle it.  Whatever it is.

Our winter has been typical of the area.  We get a freeze, then 80 degrees.  I am okay with that.  I like both. I am hoping we have an unusually cold winter, but so far, it hasn't looked like that was going to happen.  Then the weather reports started last week.  A ridiculously cold front was to move in.  Yea!  I was kind of looking forward to it, then it dawned on me all the things that needed to be done for every living animal on this place.  So, I started making a list.  Lists are good.  Then, I took a nap.  I was exhausted just looking at it all.  This was Friday.  I let myself believe that if I was good and rested, then I could knock all this out over the weekend.  The reports at the time were that I had until Sunday evening.

I like a plan.

Saturday came, and I went to work.  I had a few errands to run in the first half of the day, and with those out of the way, I looked at the list once more.  I had heard that there was a slight chance of rain on Sunday morning, so my plan was to do the things requiring me to be outside first.  Even if I had work to do in the barns, I would be dry.  I am still a sucker for the the "slight chance of rain" story.  Saturday I managed to move a ton of compost.  No, I didn't weigh it, but it was several loads, and it felt like a ton.  Actually it was pretty easy, and I was feeling pretty good because lately I have been wanting to work out.

Strange, I know, but I have actually had the urge to do some sit-ups.

I have stopped myself several times from hitting the floor to see if I could do any at all.

I have no explanation for this.

I had some beds to clear and prepare for garlic.  No, I have not planted my garlic yet.  It is a long story, but I really just got busy on other things and forgot about it.  Betting on Texas weather, I am going to plant it after this freeze and see what happens.  With the beds cleaned, the compost moved and spread out, I could move on to the next items on the list.

Sticking with the things that were outside in the elements, I had 9 totes of compost material from a local restaurant that desperately needed to be emptied.  Problem has been, no place to put it.  With my compost moved, I had an empty bin. I decided to take the time to clean the chicken coop and empty the bins at the same time.  Layering this material together cooks up really nicely.  Problem was that it was starting to get dark on me.

I am not a fan of the time is irritating.

My girls had already gone in the coop to go to bed, but that all changed when I threw the lights on.  If any of you have been around chickens on a roost, you know that there is prime real estate when it comes to roosting.  Well, my lights and cleaning started disturbing the order of things.  Before I knew it, they were bickering and being nasty to each other.  On more than one occasion, someone would get knocked off.  This would turn into loud squawking and pretty much, plain cussing, and then the fight for the prime spot would start all over again.

I have lights all around the barns, and there is one that shines on my compost area.  It gives you enough light so that you aren't tripping over things, but it also casts enough shadows that you can't see everything that you are doing.  This actually worked in my favor Saturday night.  Some of those bins from the restaurant had been out there a while.  I was grateful to not be able to see exactly what I was putting my hands in.  This job seems like it would go quickly, but not really.  It is a process, and it is wet, and it doesn't always smell so nice.

I did have company though.  One of the horses was extra curious about what was taking place, and curious to know if anything was edible.  Kid, the cat, can always be counted on for company.  He propped himself up on one end of the compost bins so he could get a good look at my work.  And, to round things out, one of my hens came back there and perched on the bins by the cat.  I guess the arguments in the coop were getting violent, and she decided roosting next to the cat was safer.

I wrapped up those events late that night and headed for the house.  I was a little more than dirty, and tired.  I soaked in a hot tub, and called it a day.  I was really feeling pretty good about things until I rolled over Sunday morning, "Ouch!"  Pretty much, everything was hurting.  I tried to stay on the positive side of things.  Once my feet hit the floor, and I was able to actually straighten urge for sit-ups!  I felt like I might have licked that obsession.

It was about 11:00 before I got started on Sunday.  No rain.  No need to worry about getting wet, but it was a little breezy.  I layered on several shirts and went back to my list.  I knew I needed to put up a wind block for the bees, and since I was going back there, I wanted to feed them a little pollen substitute to give them something to do the next few days.  After finding some plywood to give them a break from the north wind, I grabbed my gear and headed their way.

I am happy to report that this was an incident free event.  No mad bees.  I put up the wind block.  Filled their water supply.  Then lit my smoker and put my gear on.  I opened those boxes, and noticed a huge difference in winter bees, than in summer bees.  Not a single one flew up off the hive.  They were moving rather slowly, and I felt certain that if they could speak, they would have been saying, "Hey!  Could you close the damn door!"  I put the pollen substitute in, and closed them back up.

Moving a little slower than the day before, I thought this would be a good time to take a break.  I managed to watch the last half of the Cowboy game, and wondered why the Man in Charge puts himself through that. He was quite mad right up until the end.  By no means of their own, they won.  Funnier part was the Man in Charge was worn out by the emotional roller coaster they had put him on.  I refuse to ride that coaster any longer.  I do not like Tony Romo, and have publicly announced that if the Cowboy's sign him to a deal that will leave him here for the remainder of his career...I will be a Giant's fan.

Well, guess what game came on next?  It was the Giant's and the Saint's.  After stating that I should have waited to take my break, the Man in Charge just looked and me and then plainly stated that he was not going to watch the Giant's game.  I didn't move, and he didn't change the channel.  After about four minutes of the first quarter, he looked over at me and said, 

"Okay.  Time for you to go back outside and get to work!"

How rude.

And funny...but mostly rude!

I drug myself out of my chair, and headed back to the garage to load up on the tools I would need for my next project.  I had a couple of repairs to make to the chicken barn.  We had a piece of siding that had come loose.  Since it was on the north end of the barn, I felt like I should get this fixed before the front really got here.  Plus it was big enough that something of the four-legged variety could squeeze into my hay area.  By this time, the wind was pretty brisk.  Luckily I had added a coat to my layers before I went back outside.  I also had to put a board across the entrance of the barn because there was a nice gap under the door.  Big enough to let the wind blow through, and big enough that something looking for  a warm place to live for the winter could fit under the door.  At all costs - I do not want anything living in the hay or with my chickens, and the warmer I can keep them, the better for everyone.

The siding should have been easy, but no.  The thing had been loose long enough that it had started bowing out.  I was hoping to just nail it down, but the nails just went through the siding.  I headed to the garage to grab some washers and some screws, hoping something with a bigger surface area would pull it back down flat.

When I got back, I had help waiting on me.  Kid, the cat was back.  He started purring, and rubbing on my leg.  I was wearing gloves, because I am accident prone, and the Man in Charge says I have to, but working in gloves is a real pain at times.  I had washers in one pocket, and I had screws in the other pocket.  It is ridiculously hard to get a washer out of one pocket, a screw out of the other, and then put them together with gloves on.  You guys will know what I am talking about.  For you ladies out there, it equates to putting heavy winter mittens on, and then trying to get your lipstick out of your purse.  All the while, the cat is purring  and rubbing on my leg.  Then he starts doing figure eights between my feet.  When all else failed, he jumped up and sunk his claws into my coat and was swinging back and forth.  All the while, meowing as loud as he could.

If nothing else, he is persistent.

When he realized he wasn't going to get anything but a laugh out of me, he left.  This was fine with me because he really was not helping at all.  Once this was done, I moved on to the door.  Again, it was dark.

Who thought the time change thing was a good idea?  

I really would like to talk to that guy!

This task was not that hard, but as usual, it did not go as planned.  Nothing ever does.  That is the only constant I can find in doing projects like this.  You can be certain that it will not go as planned.  I did manage to get the door blocked up, and the girls were happy that the draft was gone, and I wasn't staying in there with the lights on again.

There were a number of other things on this list.  Put up the hoses.  Put the faucet covers on.  Bring in hay.  Turn the water off to the barn and drain the lines.  Blah, blah, blah.  Of all the things I started with, I added six things, and managed to get all but four done.  Does that make any sense?  Needless to say, I came in, ate, and crashed in my chair.  This was a mistake because I still had to go to the barn to put blankets on the horses and feed.  I voiced that concern out loud, and the Man in Charge just looked at me.

 I said, "Unless you want to go do that?" 

He said, "No."

I said, "Brat!"

He then proceeded to the kitchen to do, I don't know what, and I hear him open the door and step outside.  He quickly jumps back in, slams the door and says,

"Damn, it's cold.  I'm not going out there."

I said, "What?"

He didn't say anything, but I could hear him thinking, "Uh, Oh."

Like, "Did I really just say that out loud?"

He stepped back around the corner and grinned at me.  At which point I informed him that when I got back in from going outside once more, I was going to take a muscle relaxer and a hot bath.  Do not bother me in the morning.  I will not be up when you leave.  That seemed to be okay with him, and he was off to bed.

As bad as I felt Sunday morning, when the alarm went off this morning, I couldn't decide what part of my body hurt the least so that I could use it to make that sound stop.  I had a pretty aggressive list for today, but I successfully managed to reassign most of it.  I have stuck with laundry, and the bare minimum that I needed to do for the animals.

Still no urge for sit-ups, so I must be cured.

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