I’m 50 today. Happy Birthday to me! I have seen so many pictures posted of women lately. Most are of old women pictured alongside a younger women. Some complementary of the aged, some not. Maybe it’s because I’m a little more “aware” now that I’m old of course. But, it got me thinking about being a half a century old...
I’ve been preparing myself (and family) for this day for the last 8 years. Thinking maybe it would be less of a shock when it actually happened, or really just trying to find that extra little help (i.e. sympathy) doing chores or lifting heavy items (it didn’t work).
I'm not going to lie, but I really L.O.V.E being older. Yes, really. Our society favors the younger looking women. I think that needs to change. How you ask? Here are a few ideas that you might want to adopt:
1) You really do not care what other people think. This is obvious when you show up to a large High School for parent/teacher conferences dressed in work overalls, carhart jacket (and hat!), and muck boots with cow shit on them because you were just too tired to change into something more “professional parent” like. Needless to say, you also really do not care when your family is mortified & can’t believe that you would do such a thing. However your teenage son, that wants to grow up & live in the woods, thinks it’s cool.
2) You start wearing less makeup (or no makeup), when you really, really should be wearing more make up. Hey, that’s what glasses are for (cat eye ones of course). ........Why would anyone spend more than 5 minutes putting on makeup anyway?
3) You wear your hair in long braids because you can’t get a comb through it & are too cheap to spend $200 on a hair cut more than once every four years.
4) You stand up for yourself after 45 years of being “too nice” to mean people and you actually tell someone to kiss your %#$. BUT you said it in Spanish and it translated to, “kiss me, you ass!”
5) You are really proud of your new outfit from South Korea and wear it to pick up your kid at wrestling practice. Your embarrassed kid then tells you that most of the wrestling team asks if their Mom just returned from an African Hunting Safari...So you wear the exact same outfit the next day to a four school wrestling match.
What are some things that you do now that you’re older?
Old Farmer Fart
You head into town to run errands and after returning home you realize you have walked around all day with cow poop on your back side and no one said anything.
The world is at brink of another possible “conflict” and all you can think about after learning that all the hay farmers are out of straw for the remainder of the year (it’s only February), is “Sh*t, I knew I should have ordered another jumbo bale”.
You give all of your business suits to Goodwill.
When you eat dinner out or at someones house you have to refrain yourself from asking if you can have all of the leftovers for the chickens.
On the now rare occasion you eat out, you ask the waitress who raised your hamburger.
You realize you’re not as fun anymore at conversations or dinner parties because all you want to talk about is compost, worms, and finding good farm deals off Craigs List!
You can actually speak cow. And chicken and duck.
~Head soap pot scrubber & moo cluck quacker
What was supposed to be one bull calf from a benefit auction, ended up being two (one for each kid to learn how to raise an animal-right?) Every morning early & two more times a day I bottle fed them. Easy enough until they developed Scours. Bad. Very bad, and the smell?! Anyway, these are some lessons that I have learned along the way and try to incorporate into our lives...
#1. Always be happy to see your family. Running up to them helps. licking them, maybe not.
#2. Always be accepting & kind to others. Especially if a new steer comes in pushes you out of the way, eats all your food, poops in your bed, and follows you around everywhere. Licking them helps...
#3. Find time in the day to just lay in the middle of a field.
#4. Let mean spirited comments & actions of others roll off of your back like water on a goose (OK, maybe that lesson came from our goose, Moses).
#5. Always be loyal to those close to you. You never know when you might need your ears scratched or coat brushed.
#6. If the big goose hisses at you while she is laying in YOUR straw bed, just leave her alone. The middle of the field is also a fine place to lay.
#7. Just focus on the basics of life. Food, water, sleep, having fun...and hanging with your herd.
~Head soap pot scrubber & best friend to Rosie the cow.
On the road to The self sufficient life...
Well, we are just finishing up our first “real” year of trying to be more self sufficient. Now it is time for the review, the final grade. Bottom line, we would have starved to death! Or at least have become very, very, skinny.
When the salmon ran the Stilliguamish river this fall (we have been waiting two years for this big run), we all went fishing. Sometimes for hours at a time. We caught ONE fish between three of us. Yes, ONE. We ended up with 8 total though because other fishermen (that could actually catch something) would give them to us. I guess they felt sorry. We smoked all of them in our vintage refrigerator smoker and then vacuum sealed them.
The garden was planted almost two months late (hey, I was busy)! Thank God for our honey bees. Because of their lack of food supply, they spent most of their time in the garden. This “saved” the garden and it produced loads of veggies! Except, one family cannot survive the year on 90 pounds of pickles. Ditto that for Rutabagas (not sure what I was thinking)? Green beans-good; heirloom corn-good (all five stocks); broccoli-tender (except we didn’t get enough to freeze); tomatoes-not so good (despite a hot summer they just didn’t produce well & ripen); carrots-oh yah, that’s what was in those bed of weeds; strawberries-great, all six of them; sunflowers-birds loved them; pumpkins-good; zuchinni-great (I always have to plant those it makes me feel like a green thumb success).
The honey bees did great their first summer. We even had a queen and some bees leave (had I known what the heck I was doing I would now have TWO hives instead of just one). We were even able to extract a few jars of honey with the help of a generous bee expert that had recently undergone a kidney transplant.
We are already planning for next season and have been reading and researching. I saw this quote “farming instead of blogging”, in an article that mentioned we should be farming more instead of on the internet! OK, so it was from one of the “doomer preppers”, but it still made me laugh. Maybe because it hit too close to home??
~Head soap pot scrubber & hungry blogging farmer
Two out of the three of us stood in front of the “bee pick up” area outside the store. Other people (obviously not “Newbees!”) were picking up their hives and walking off to their cars with them. My friend Frankie and I just stood there staring. There was a whole warehouse full of the bee cages, with several orphan bees flying around freely. We both had ordered the 3 pound bees with marked queens (makes it easier to identify her with the big white dot on her thorax). I told Frankie that the whole bee idea now seemed to look better on paper. We had a list of questions (yes we of course read Bees For Dummies on the 30 minute car ride to pick them up!) While Frankie was asking questions, I recorded the impromptu demo on my iphone. Good thing because we were both so overwhelmed we honestly didn’t hear a word the nice bee man said. Except for the marshmallow part. We needed a few to stuff into the queens cage entrance before putting her in the hive box. We even grabbed a few extra. You see she eats her way out in a few days.
We had driven Jeff’s car. He thought we had driven Frankies. He doesn’t really like bees and that whole idea of thousands of bees in his car (well, his back seat to be exact), just wouldn’t go over very well. Luckily we only had two escapees. There is something a little unsettling about driving down the road with the sound of bees humming and the person in back yelling, “There’s a bee loose!” Thank God for automatic windows.
We needed to deposit or release 2 sets of hives, one for me, then one for Frankie who lives down the road from us. The nice informative bee expert man said it only takes him 2 minutes to release them. We decided it would take at least that long to get the courage up to begin the whole process. Once home, Frankie suited up in her white bee suit. I put on my black coat and pink gardening gloves. Our neighbor Jay (he has actually read the entire Bees For Dummies book) and Frankie both informed me that you can’t wear black. They apparently think you are a bear if you wear black. Bummer, I was then wishing I wasn’t such a tightwad and had purchased the official white bee paraphernalia.
We dumped the three pounds of bees into the first bee box located in the middle of our field, stuffed the marshmallow into the queens cage, secured her in-between 2 frames, placed the full feeder (we actually did that first), put the lids back on, then stood back and watched. Someone mentioned that maybe we should switch around the “reducer” (used to limit the main entrance to a smaller area so the guard bees can patrol it easier) to the larger hole. Nothing like figuring things out AFTER you have released all of the bees. So we did it. And surprisingly we did not get stung.
We repeated the whole process again on Frankies’ Farm. This time it went quicker (not 2 minutes though), and were feeling pretty proud of ourselves...Sometimes you just have to have the “bees” to jump in and do it!
~Head soap pot scrubber and fake black bear
In our pursuit of a more "natural" lifestyle and because Jeff & I originally chose aviation as a career (which essentially means resigning 3/4 of your adult life to poverty), we had very little money to spend most of the time so became pros at dumpster diving (yes really-just not food!) and yard sales (or "tag" sales as Martha would say). Now that it has become somewhat hip to recycle everything, we are now officially "cool", or so we tell our kids.
Over the last decade we have been preparing for higher oil prices & anything else that we don't want to say out loud for fear of being labeled “paranoid” (and I do know a little about paranoia, as I once worked with 30 Paranoid Schizophrenics). It used to be that we just made almost everything ourselves-with all four hands. However, as life became increasingly hectic and we would meet people at Farmers Markets & craft shows, we were introduced to the coveted term "barter friendly". Kolt & Darby have become quite skilled at trading our soaps for Shower Art (etsy.com/shop/UglyBaby ), and Handmade Dolls by Daniela (etsy.com/shop/hasenpfeffer).
While envisioning eventually paying $20 a gallon for gas, we have set up a network close to home. We get organic vegetables from Garden Treasures (arlingtongardentreasures.com), and clothes from Tina (glamspoon.com) at Glam.Spoon. Our company photos come from the amazing Molly at (mollyvadenphotography.com).
We figure ~80-90% of our purchases are recycled (Thrift Stores/Yard Sales/Craig's List/generous friends), made from companies that are here in the USA, or handmade by us. I doubt we will ever make the 100% mark as I have yet to find anyone that can make socks or underwear that my family will wear.
Besides the benefit of supporting products that are actually made here in the United States & local Artisans, it's really more about building relationships. We know exactly where most of our food comes from and the people that cultivate it. I find tremendous pleasure in using, wearing or eating something that a good friend has created or grown with their own hands...
~Head soap pot scrubber & yard sale hipstress
Almost a year ago right before Easter, the kids and I stopped by the farm store. Baby chicks had just arrived. There were almost fifteen metal troughs full of cute little breeds. We certainly weren’t planning on bringing any home, but who could resist? Darby picked out two little Mallards and Kolt wanted a little yellow chick, which we thought was a duck, but in tiny words on the sign it said “Geese”. Dad HATES geese, I warned. So we schemed (yes, we’re bad)...if WE thought it was a duck, Dad would too. So we brought home “Moses” and the mallards. And told Jeff that they were all ducks. As the weeks went by Moses started getting much bigger-fast. We would all comment on how fast she was growing (and snicker). Moses would sometimes start honking instead of quacking. We aren’t sure when Jeff realized our prank, but he didn’t let on for awhile.
Moses is now just starting to lay eggs. She goes out behind the barn where the cows sleep and nests in the straw. She follows us around like a dog and is the sweetest goose. She will even knock at our back door when she wants to visit with us. But best of all, she is particularly fond of Jeff because he pets her the most...
~Head soap pot scrubber & goose schemer