Click on the image for more information.

Monday, May 21, 2012

State of the Homestead

Grumble...I've been finding at least one scorpion a night. If they'd at least hide from sight when people approached, they might be tolerable, but noooo. They're bound and determined to attack even if it means their death. Those of you who've been with me for a while might remember my first death-defying encounter with a scorpion. I make no apologies for their genocide. I smash them so completely, there's hardly any DNA evidence left.

I worry mostly for the dogs. Other than Iko, the other two are oblivious to the danger. But Iko remains my steadfast early warning system. He was an early casualty of a scorpion sting and he's never forgotten.

Garden: I'm harvesting squash, onions, peppers, radishes, bok choy, and Swiss chard. The tomatoes are starting to ripen too. Greg rigged up a temporary irrigation system for the "big" garden. This is the garden for all the tall and sprawl-ly vegetables, like corn, sunflowers and sugar beets. I still have room back there. I think I might plant some watermelon too.

I'm hoping my loofah plants make it. The fruits (when skinned and dried) make terrific scrubbers. The mangels (sugar beets) have been slow to grow. Half of them didn't make it so I replanted. I'm hoping now that we have regular water, they'll do better.

Chickens: I clean out the coops and freshen them with new straw every month, but this month will be a very thorough cleaning, complete with pressure washing and sanitizing. The poor birds have been pulling their feathers out so I suspect mites. I'll dust them with diatomaceous earth before they go back in.

Home: I was extra virtuous last week and painted the last guest room, then washed the carpet. It turned out quite nice. It's a beautiful pale apricot color. Very cheerful, yet calming color.

mural non-grata
There's only one room left to paint in the house, and a certain husband is fighting me because it has a mural (from the original owners) that I want to paint over. 

It's not a terrible mural, (I've seen far worse) but I dislike the colors and I'm not crazy about the subject matter--not for this house. Something classical would be more appropriate considering our furniture and decor. But if I get my way I don't want a mural at all. Too permanent.

Dogs: Everyone is okay. I'm still a little concerned about old Tank. He's sporting more fatty tumors than before. The vet wasn't worried about the lumps. As a matter of fact, he said Tank was in great shape for a dog his age. Still, it hurts to see him slow down. Iko, on the other hand has more energy than a nuclear reactor. He desperately needs someone to run with. Neither Tank nor Mama can match his warp speed.

Maria: I've been bugging Greg for a vacation, but I doubt it'll happen. I want a real vacation with scenery and someone else washing dishes and making the bed. The problem with having so many animals is that you can't just up and leave. And there are very few people I can trust or impose upon to watch said creatures.

I loved Sedona, AZ, but I wouldn't mind visiting some place new like Oregon or Washington state. Who's going on vacation this year? Is there any place you've been that you recommend? I'm especially partial to mountains or places of historical significance.


Stacy McKitrick said...

Vacations were always a problem when we had pets, too. I hated leaving them in a shelter (even if it was run by a vet).

As for vacations, I'm partial to cruising. You can see different places and only have to unpack your bag once! You can truly be pampered on one of them. But if you don't like ships, well, then my hometown, Santa Barbara, is a beautiful place to visit (although it can be expensive). Lots of wineries around (if you're into that), and the beaches are pretty. But hey, I'm biased!

Rula Sinara said...

Washington state is a beautiful place with everything from mountains to ocean. We vacationed there when I was pregnant with my first kid. Loved Pikes Market.

I also love beaches and we go to the Outer Banks of NC a lot. I know it's tough to get away when so many animals depend on you. Good luck!

Cate Masters said...

Are the scorpions coming out of hibernation? We've had snakes, snakes, snakes for a week because they're all waking up now. At least Lily alerts us to them with her "hey it's a snake!" bark. :)

Angela Brown said...

I make no judgments regarding the scorpion-i-cides. Have to do what you have to do. Just be aware that another bounty might be put out on you and Greg...maybe even Iko this time :-)

Glad things are, otherwise, moving along well with the homestead. I still shake my head because it seems like a lot to me but you manage it so well.

As for vacations, not sure if you checking out cabins in Gatlinburg, TN might be up your alley. You may have to clean a few dishes if you make the mess, but I've heard it's very nice to visit. Of course, I'd always recommend a visit to Northern Cali. Great mountains and vineyards to check out.

L.G.Smith said...

Wow, I feel so lazy after reading this...

And my poor dog has got a lump on her stomach too. Dogs usually get them as they get older, but it's probably good to monitor. They did a needle biopsy on my dog's and found only fat cells, so that's good, though it's as big as an egg.

LD Masterson said...

Your harvesting already? You guys are on a whole different calendar down there. And what the h- is diatomaceous earth?

Remember my blood stain suggestion for the mural.

Come to Dayton - we've got lots of historical junk and I'll even wash the dishes. No mountains though. We're doing Disney World this summer. Joint vaacation with the kids.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: Greg likes cruises too. But lately those cruise lines have been killing people--or making them sick. I had a friend who was caught on a liner that lost power. Imagine two days without air conditioning or any refrigerated food. She says they kept the passengers drunk.


Rula: You're giving me the itch to see Washington now. Sounds like my kind of place.

Cate: I've seen the scorpions outside. They only come inside if they're following prey or looking for water. Snakes have been bad here too this year. That goodness for sharp-eyed dogs!

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Ooh scorpions! I crawl at the very thought of them.

I love the mural. It reminds me of paintings my Grandfather did in Canada. See:

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Tennessee has the Smokies too. And I just remembered--they're the headquarters for one of those humungous 100+ mile yard sales.

California was on our itinerary years ago when we toured the west side of the country. But we ran into car trouble and never made it there. Someday.

LG: LOL. Well, if that made you feel lazy, I won't tell you the other stuff I did last week.

Ref: fatty tumors
We used to biopsy them regularly, but nowadays you can tell just by feeling them and watching their growth rate. Even if they aren't cancerous, I don't like to see them on my dog.

Linda: DE (diatomaceous earth) are the fossilized remains of algae. It's a super-fine powder effective for killing a multitude of pests without resorting to poisons.

Ref: mural
Didn't I tell you it was ugly? LOL. It's a big room and it can handle a mural, but the colors just doesn't work with my decor.

Maria Zannini said...

Madeleine: It's the colors I dislike. I love landscapes but this one doesn't work for this house. Still as a fellow artist, I hate the idea of destroying someone else's work. If only she had painted it on canvas.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I'm so glad i live in a place without venemous spiders and snakes. And no scorpions for us.
I'd love to see some pics of the gardens - and i know i promised you pics of ours ad well, and they're forthcoming. Promise

Raelyn Barclay said...

LOL, I feel like such an underachiever. You are one BUSY lady! I understand how hard it is to get away when you have the animals...our menagerie makes going anywhere other than to family impossible.

Coming from the Pacific NW, I highly recommend it :D This year we're staying close to home. That Man just confirmed his vacation time for the summer so we're planning a series of day trips during that time. Sadly, I'll still have to cook, wash dishes, do laundry, make beds...

On the other hand, I'll be ready to plant during our second growing season! Completely missed the first one.

Southpaw said...

"And there are very few people I can trust or impose upon to watch said creatures."

So true and you have the added issue of them being willing to battle scorpions!

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: I should take some pics. Maybe after I give it a good weeding this weekend.

Raelyn: Aw. That's not much of a vacation for you. I want room service! LOL.

Holly: Well, the good thing is that anyone who lives in the area probably already knows to watch for them.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to break down and spray the area for scorpions. I hate to do it, but I don't want the dogs to get hurt. Those stings are very painful.

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm glad to see that things are going good around the household except for scorpions. I haven't seen one down here in Mexico yet but I wouldn't want to have to deal with them.

Dru said...

I have two trips a one-day trip to Washington DC and then one in the Fall to Ohio. It should be fun.

Maybe you can go on a one or two-day trip to satisfy that vacation urge.

Are you still getting the goats?

Love your recap on the homestead.

Jackie Burris said...

Maria your chickens get better housekeeping than some people's homes! LOL

I am with you on the mural, it needs TO GO!

Wish lived closer, me and the 3 dogs would have a blast together. Of course you would not have any squash, peppers, onions or tomatoes to eat when you came home from this vacation you would like to take because I would harvest and eat them all. LOL

First person who have ever heard of to raise their own loofah plants, cool, sorry about the sugar beets.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Scorpions, snakes and chicken mites ... you NEED a holiday! :)

Maria Zannini said...

Clarissa: Oh, boy. That brings back memories. Every summer we'd drive down to Mexico to visit the grandparents and my cousins would terrorize us city kids with tales of scorpions. Little did I know I'd be battling them decades later. (the scorpions, not the cousins)

Dru: We really enjoyed DC. There was so much to see. One day trips are an option, but Texas is a big state. Unless I want to visit Oklahoma, we're kind of stuck in the state.

Ref: goats
Yes! I plan to call a couple more people this week to see what they've got. If I wait much longer, it might be next spring before we have them though.

Jackie: Oh, I'm a bit fastidious about sanitary conditions.

Ref: loofahs
They grew great in SE Texas, so I'm hoping for good results here. If we get some fruits, I can send you seeds if you're interested.

Jenny: You know I never thought of it that way. You're right! This is exactly why I need a vacation.

Nadja Notariani said...

No complaints about scorpion killing here!...(So anti-PETA after two idiots shoved some unpleasant stuff in my kids' faces as they fished with my husband while we lived in Virginia. Hey, PETA, kids are OFF LIMITS!!!) I do love animals, but I can't count reptiles, insects, or arachnids in my sympathetic group. Just can't.

Oops, my manners are showing.

Anyway, I'd be worried about the dogs, too. My shepherd chases those big carpenter bees that buzz and hover. They're basically harmless and rarely bother you, but that buzzing drives my poor dog to distraction. He races across the yard and jumps to snap his jaws around those bees - then shakes his head wildly as he gets stung, spits out said bee - only to return to it and chew it to death. He leaves the carcass once assured he's 'done-the-job-right'. Ha! It's so funny to watch him. The boys love their 'bee-killer' dog. But it shows that they won't leave things alone - even if it hurts them.

Jay Paoloni said...

It's always a pleasure to read your posts. Your splinters of bucolic life make me feel intrinsically good! And the scorpions, I like them too! But maybe just because I never find them around :)

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: I'm all for animal rights, but PETA goes too far. Regardless of their agenda, they should never approach a child.

Ref: Bee dog
I had one of those once. We were beside ourselves when she came in with a swollen lip and we promptly took her to the vet. She was fine by the end of the day. But the next day, we discovered where she got that fat lip. Didn't stop her at all.

Maria Zannini said...

Jay: It's all fun and games until someone gets stung. LOL. It's not an easy life, but certainly a very interesting one. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jayne said...

Scorpions?! Are they native to where you are? Yikes, Maria. It's nice to get a round-up of the homestead - sounds like you lead a very busy life with it all, but hopefully a very fulfilling one. That mural - it has nice bits about it - the yellow field from a distance - but if it's time for it to go, then perhaps go it must!

Hope Tank is ok, it's good the vet isn't worried.

Vacations - well, most of my holidays from the 9-5 are spent writing at home. But this year I'm going on an Autumn holiday with a friend to Menorca, one of the islands off Spain. A week of sun, sea, swimming and nothing else - a chance to relax and not worry so much all the time over everything! I am already looking forward to it.

Maria Zannini said...

Jayne: It's so good to hear from you again!

I believe scorpions exist on every continent but Antarctica.

Ref: vacation
I have another Brit friend who regularly travels to Spain with his family. I get jealous every time he tells me he's going there. :) Spain is on my bucket list.

Marianne Arkins said...

HARVESTING? I'm so jealous...

And mountains and history? We have that a-plenty in New Hampshire. We also have a guest bedroom. *G*

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I hope you get your vacation! We had the same kinds of animal woes as you and had to stay home for our vacation!

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: NH has mountains!? I never knew that. We've been to DC and NY, but never the smaller New England states. It might be nice to take in a bit of Americana.

Barbara: One reason the vacation was so important to me is because this is probably Greg's last year on the job. Next year: fixed income.

Shelley Munro said...

The loofah plants sound interesting, Maria. I await further news about them.

Thanks goodness we don't have any creepie crawlie things like scorpions. Maybe snails aren't too bad after all.

I like Yellowstone. That's fun to visit. The US has some awesome national parks.

Mike Keyton said...

Vacation in America - my blog posts on America might reinforce any ideas you already have. Better still come to Wales and see my newly painted room. Just don't bring no scorpions!

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: We grew loofahs years ago and they came out great. But this is a drier climate so it'll be interesting to see if they do as well here.

Mike: Not to worry. My smash response is so fast I never have time reconsider. I would love to come to Wales and see your newly painted room. I trust there are appropriate bas reliefs and ivy as decoration. :)