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Thursday, April 21, 2011

plum blooms.

 This has got to be one of the latest that the plums have bloomed in years. It's the end of April already. They usually burst the first warm weekend in March and then get frosted or I try to cover them with sheets or put heaters under them only for them to get frosted anyway. So we might have a plum harvest this year. These are the Japanese plums with the light delicate flavor... which of course makes them marginally hardy. The hardy American prune plums bloom much later, but I don't think are as quite deliciously sweet.

And lambing season is now officially done. Every ewe had a successful lamb this year. Wohoo! 100% A plus ladies! And they are all healthy and growing like weeds. Which of course means either selling them now or putting up more fencing. 14 lambs total this year!!!!

I'm sketching out my new meat share plan called 8 families, 1 cow. If you're interested, just let me know. I'm super excited to try out new types of cows for the best flavor and the grass is greening up really well... although it is still quite wet. Nothing like a big animal on soft ground to make ankle breaking holes. Maybe I should just stick to sheep - they aerate the soil while fertilizing. My grass is always the first to green up in the spring. Must be all the poop. :)

I've been potting up my fruits for the first plant sale. It's going to be light to start out with the first Saturday, threat of frost is still pretty prevalent. Just the hardy herbs and small fruits including cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and thornfree blackberries.
The next Saturday, May 7th is going to be a mothers day plant sale with blooming baskets, annuals, herbs, and some heirloom tomatoes.
May 14th is going to be the big plant sale with all the veggies. It's about the date of the last frost in the area so we'll have everything from squash to peppers to herbs to edible flowers. We'll have the baby lambs out and some peeps too for the kids to play with. I also found a local organic farm that makes flour for all those bread bakers out there. Let me know if there's a particular type you like and I'll make sure I have it.

The magnolias are coming out, the hyacinth are joining the daffodils in bloom and the 10 day forecast isn't showing any cold snaps below freezing any time soon. On the down side, it's been raining hard and the ground is totally soaked so the only thing I have coming up are some peas we put in a couple of months ago and last winters crop of spinach, kale, and lettuce is coming back. I hope things dry out for a big planting weekend. I'm sick of tripping over the hundred pounds of seed potatoes in my living room. Let's get this planting party started.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My first truck

I've always been a sensible car girl. In high school, I found this beautiful little silver Buick Skyhawk from a little old lady that drove it 2 miles a week to the store and back and that's it. Funny to find a car that's 10 years old with only 30,000 miles on it, but it got me the 250 miles to college and back for holidays and summers quite well, until it started deciding to slowly die. After an hour stretch of highway driving, any stop would make it sputter out and die, refusing to start for the next 15-20 minutes, much to the dismay of those behind me on the toll turnpike. I learned that if I just slow down and throw the exact change out the window as I crept by, I could delay the stall until after I was through the toll booth and just sit on the shoulder for awhile while the little Buick bird would cool off.
When that beauty finally kicked the bucket, I got a nice sensible green Honda and beat the crap out of it. Road trips were no worry for my little four door and although everything else broke like the power locks, the windshield wipers, odometer, a few of the windows, and the kicker- the speedometer stopped working (I was in a constant state of non-speeding just to be safe)  it drove just fine to North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan... anywhere I wanted to go. Until one trip gave it a jolt and an out of town mechanic deemed it doomed.

I was quite devastated as it's pretty well right when you have no money in your account that something like this happens. So I hopped on craigslist with my $600 out of my account looking for something cheap. Note, I just said something cheap, not something reliable or fuel efficient, not taking into account that my commute to work is 70 miles per day.
It seemed logical then that instead of hauling one bale of hay at a time in the backseat of my Honda while my hay fever allergies made misty eyed driving nearly impossible, I should just purchase a truck. That would also eliminate those funny looks when purchasing animals only to shove them into the backseat and drive away really fast, hoping they would stop ramming the windows once we got on the road. Or the overwhelming laughter when going through a drive through with a dog in the front and two sheep in the back. And what can you really get with $600 anyway.

In true Janee fashion, I bought the first truck I looked at. I needed something to drive to work the next day. Little did I know that the vehicle I purchased was from someone with a drug problem who was really good at lying. I took me a week to hunt him down to get the title and the ignition key didn't really work, but the truck was advertised as having AC that blows ice cold and heat that really works. Approaching winter, I found out that for certain one of those was not true at all... unless he meant to say that the heat blows ice cold.
But I had a truck and I picked up feed and bought every cheap goat and chicken I could find on craigslist because now it wouldn't stink up my car for a week.
Shortly after my happy purchase I had to take a trip up to the other side of Michigan and was still in the honeymoon phase of truck ownership and decided that it was the right vehicle for the job.

I had a flashback to my little Buick stalling at the toll booth because as I pulled my truck up to get my toll ticket in a snow storm, the window got stuck down.
Window down, no heat. Awesome.
But it wasn't until I got to the other side of Michigan that the brakes stopped working. Downshifting in a city SUCKS!!!!! The shoes on the back were super rusted and would either be in the -nonstopping- position or the -deadstopped- position. And my drivers side door was either stuck open or stuck shut. I pried the window into a manageable position to keep the snow at least 50% off of me and I bought a blanket at Meijer to try to stave off the cold. By this time, chicken shit in the backseat and hay fever sounded really nice.

After I got home, whiteknuckled the whole way, I got the brakes fixed and got the drivers side door and window bolted shut. I got in on the passenger side and all was well, except that v6 engine was sucking me dry and the bed was so rusted out that only the bedliner was holding it together, which meant I could haul absolutely nothing with it. I'm not saying that I didn't try, but every time I did, the rusted out back shocks would pinch my wires and cause my brake lights, headlights, radio, and/or turn signals to short out. Yeah, quite a peach... but according to the craigslist post the AC blows ice cold! Yeah, not even that worked.

The final kick in the pants, the finishing blow wasn't with the intermittent lights that would work when the felt like it or not being able to use the drivers side window or having to crawl over the seat through the passenger door or not being able to actually put anything in the bed... nope, I could deal with all that kinda. But the final kick in the pants was when the bumper rusted off so much that my license plate fell off somewhere along the way.
Oh crap. I was not going to pay for new tags and new plates for this heap of junk.
So back to craigslist I went, only I didn't post that the AC blows ice cold or that the heat actually works or that the muffler isn't rusted off. I told the truth and posted it for parts, which there are still some ok parts even though the engine kinda leaks oil and I'm not sure where from, but maybe someone would want the... um, I don't know, windshield wipers. Those still worked, kinda. I threw it up there for cheap with no lies and my phone blew up with calls. Are these people crazy?! Seriously this truck is a heap of junk. Within less than an hour, I had a guy out here salivating over this super cheap truck and his only question was "does it run" to which I was like yeah, it runs but.......................................... long list of problems. That didn't phase him. He wanted to take it home right away.
But I couldn't find the title. This is officially the truck from hell. I can't wait to get rid of it.

So moral of the story is, you get what you pay for with a truck. And poor people always get shit on. That too. If you don't have money for a decent car, you'll end up with even less money after purchasing a cheap car. 18 mpg = my 70 mile per day commute would take almost 4 gallons of gas. Times 5 days a week is 20 gallons of gas per week. Even when it was cheap at say $3.25 a gallon, I was spending at least $65 in gas just to get to work. Not to mention the environmentalist voice was quietly whispering ---nooooooooo-- every time I started it up. For that small of a truck, it should not be that much of a gas hog.

Oh Chevy, what have you done.

 Car/truck shopping again. I did loooove having a truck when it actually worked, and I hear back in the 80s, Toyota made a 28mpg little truck. Or Volkswagon made a 45 mpg diesel little truck.
Until then, I swear I'm going to save up more money before I make a purchase.