Tag Archives: worry

What is greatness?

I will work to make America great. My definition may be a little different than that of others. But oh well.

I will work to help the poor, shelter the weak, feed the hungry, build my local community from the ground up.

I will take the high road. And I will hope for the best. I’m scared. But I also believe that most of us simply want what is best. We want a world with less corruption and less hate. We just see very different ways of getting there at the top level.

But let’s not forget that we live at the bottom level. In our communities we can work together, stand up against bullies, and make sure our ideals shine through. On a day-to-day level don’t forget those ideals are not so far apart.

More knitting tomorrow, I promise.

more snow please*

It’s been a very slow winter, as far as winters in Vermont are concerned – good for the animals who dislike the snow, bad for those of us who LIKE winter. The folks who make their winter money plowing and shoveling are probably hurting badly**.

almost no snow

We’ve had a few below zero mornings, but not a lot of true cold spells. And while we’ve had more than a few storms, they keep melting away instead of accumulating. It’s seriously weird to have grass sticking up in January, but that’s was true until the storm started this morning. Also, when did we in VT start calling 3-6 inches a storm anyway?

The weather has always been one of those cliche things to talk about, but more and more around me I hear people whispering (or complaining loudly) about climate change. As Bill McKibben would say, welcome to the new normal. I won’t get into the details, since they’re everywhere (start with that link if you’re curious) but as my friend (who’s not a crabby old farmer, but can sound like one when she puts her mind to it) said “no good for the crops, bugs, germs, allergens, animal population control, water table…”

I think I’m going to plant some peach trees. I might as well get something positive out of all this…

melting snow

*Yeah, this post is essentially a weather report. Get over it.
**Neil used to do landscaping/snow removal back when we lived in the city. We both keep commenting on how financially SCREWED we’d be if he still had that job.

Goodbye Guineas

Sometimes farming is hard. I was telling a friend just recently that it’s important to recognize when you’re in over your head. And sometimes this involves making hard decisions. Letting go of something you really want to do, but aren’t ready for yet.

And by you, right now I mean me.

I really like guineas. I think they’re adorable, in a funny-looking kind of way. I even like they’re gaurd-dog mentality (although I dislike being woken up at 3am)

three guineas

But our guineas have issues – have had them for awhile. We started with 4, and knowing they form mated pairs I was worried when we lost one. But things seemed ok for awhile – over the winter anyway. But I think with spring/summer here and mating season under way it was just too much. The female has been getting beat up from all the attention, and in the last week the males have really started going after each other.

one guinea

The last straw happened the other day when I came home in the evening to find two exhausted guineas still chasing each other at full speed around the yard, and the female in hiding. We’d been talking about getting another female, but I knew that wasn’t going to really fix the problem. It’s a lot like my advice about chickens. They’re flock birds, and the minimum you can keep without long term stress for the birds is 2 – and therefore I recommend people have at least a flock of 3. That way, if one gets sick, or eaten by a hawk, or disappears some other way – you still have 2. Doing some research I’ve found the recommended flock size on guineas is SIX, and probably for a similar reason. Four birds were ok, but just barely.

curious guinea

And we don’t have space for 6 guineas. They live with the chickens, and last winter 3 was almost too many (because they bully the chickens when everyone’s cooped up) If we had a better setup for them – like a barn they could sleep in – then we could get more, and they’d be less stressed. But we don’t have a barn, not yet anyway.

So the guineas need friends, and we don’t have space for their friends. Which means they had to find a new home. One of the local farms where we buy a lot of pork has a few guineas (and ducks, and chickens, and pea-fowl, and a barn for them to sleep in) Last evening I took these pictures, and waiting for sundown. Neil and I loaded these three into our dog crate* and took them to their new home. Hopefully they’ll settle in well. Adult guineas don’t move easily, they don’t like change. But I’m hoping that the barn for sleeping indoors (like our coop) and the presence of a new guineas to flock with, will convince them to stay. It’s hard, but when we couldn’t provide for them properly, and the new farm can. I hope they do well.

*only used for poultry these days


A confluence of things is happening right now, making me think about all the ways that oil (the petroleum product, not the food ingredient) is, and isn’t, used in my life.

Saturday morning Neil turned on the hot water, only to have it run cold, and cold, and cold… Turns out sometime last week we ran out of oil. This happens to us every time. The “problem” is that we use so little of it. Well – that doesn’t seem like a problem to me. But to the delivery companies it is. Turns out no one will provide regular delivery service once a quarter. And since we go through about 100 gallons every 6 months it just Doesn’t Make Sense to have them drive to our house every month to top up the tank. I suppose we could try and pay more attention to when we’re running low, but so far it’s caught us by surprise every time. And so we call around to find some company to deliver another 100 gallons. But we’re hardcore (or cheap) and refuse to pay the emergency delivery fee, so sometimes it means waiting a few days for the oil*. After all it’s not really an emergency. Although due to lack of clean spoons I accidentally got schmaltz in my tea this morning. I suppose I could wash dishes in cold water…

On top of that my lovely little diesel jetta is taking a week at the spa (mechanic) as a result I’m driving either a pickup truck or a subaru – both get about 23mpg. The difference between 23mpg and 43mpg is really surprising on another level when I experience it this directly. I mean, sure diesel is more expensive, but I’ve done the math, and my little jetta is still saving an awful lot of money. It’s 12 miles to my bus stop. So in my jetta: 12 miles divided by 43mpg = 0.28 gallons of fuel. So even at $4.29 it only costs $1.19 to get there (and another 80 cents to get to work, that bus is a GREAT price)

In a subaru we have the same 12 miles divided by 23mpg = 0.52 gallons – almost twice as much! So even though gas is cheaper ($3.97) it costs $2.07 to get to the bus stop.

I miss my little car way more than I miss hot water…

appropriate footwear

Tuesday evening I got home to find packages! My new boots had finally arrived!

pink boots

Turns out this was a Good Thing. Tuesday night into Wednesday saw some of the heaviest rains since I moved to this part of Vermont. Roads which I have never seen flooded were. My drive to work was halted at this point, after the section that was narrowed down to 1 land, but before the third “really deep” flooded point.

hogback rd flooded

Neil made it into Johnson where he took some photos of an old mill building, of course these buildings were built close to the river on purpose…

woolen mill flood

In fact, if you flip through these photos from the Burlington Free Press you’ll see about half of them are from either Johnson or Jeffersonville – both downtowns flooded. No lives were lost, but the damage is only beginning to be counted.

some flooded areas

That house on the ridge between the two towns is where my house is. These are the times I’m glad to live on a hill. Especially since it’s raining hard again today.

Poultry drama

Yesterday Neil arrived home after running some errands to find a puff of guinea feathers, a large hole in the wire fence around my garden, and only three guinea birds remaining.

poof of feathers

We have no idea what happened to the 4th guinea.  It honestly doesn’t make sense to me that it’d be a hungry predator.  Wouldn’t a fox with kits to feed want a fat, slow meat bird, not a noisy, fast, little guinea?  Also, why the hole in the innocent bystander garden fence?  Also, whatever caused the damage broke a 2″ diameter wooden post holding up the fence – that plus ripping the wire takes some real force.  Our best guess involves the guinea getting stuck in the fence first, and thus becoming an easy meal for whatever was able to rip it out of the fence…  Whatever the answer, and we may never know, it doesn’t bode well for my free ranging poultry.

But in the mean time one of the two outdoor nesting hens returned trailing 6 or 7 babies!  Yay and excitement!  She took them off to the nest again that night while I wasn’t watching (or I would have scooped them up and put mama and babies in the coop)  I didn’t see them this morning, but I leave pretty early.  By the time Neil was ready to leave for work he found lonely babies in the driveway and no mama in sight.  She wasn’t responding to their peeping noises either, which is when he called me wondering what to do.  It’s possible she was dust bathing, or trying to take them into the woods, or even trying to escort one that got left behind out of the woods.  It’s also possible she’d gotten distracted by something shiney and wandered off – even good nesters can turn out to be poor mothers.  But Neil needed to go to work, and didn’t want to leave them out there to get cold and die.

I suggested he scoop them into a shoe box, and if mama didn’t run back in 5 or 10 minutes (scooping baby chicks into a box makes them peep LOUDLY) he should put them under the mama we have nesting in the coop.  At least that way they’d be warm, and not die, and if the mama returns later we’d have to sort out some other solution.

All this to say there’s DRAMA at the poultry farm and I’m not there to help!  It makes me antsy.  Unknown predators, lost mama chickens, helpless babies, and me sitting in an office, stewing…