Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one." - Dr. Seuss


#ThisRuralLife

I went to the feed store in Veneta today to get two bales of wheat straw. There's nothing quite so quintessentially American as the feed store and this one checks all the boxes. I like going there. The owner looks to be in his 80's, is severely stooped over, and walks with a cane. The four or five other people who work there all look like they were in 4-H two years ago, but they're very friendly and helpful. Besides all kinds of feed and animal supplies (chicks in season) they sell straw hats, overalls, flannel shirts, and jewelry. Yep, you can buy the missus a nice necklace or bracelet from the jewelry cabinet.
Love it.

I spent most of the morning moving wood from the stacks along the goat pen to the woodshed behind MoHo so it will be dry and convenient this winter. I can do that for a couple of hours before being ADD and 66 means I should move on to another project. Which in this case was lunch.

Today's word in polyestrus.
Most mammals are monoestrus, meaning the females come into heat once per year, or in the case of most goat breeds, two times per year (biestrus). Boer goats are polyestrus, coming into heat every three weeks throughout the year. The signs of a doe in heat can be ambiguous but often include a wagging tail, increased vocalization, and a mucous discharge.

Marta saw signs indicating that Sundae was in heat so she put her in the separate pen with three bucks (partay!). The problem: she acted like she was in heat again three weeks later so Marta put her in with Mondo, an absolutely monster buck, in the boudoir stall in the barn. She brought Sundae over to us a week later and told us that of the two due dates (goats have a gestation of 155 days) the late one, July 11, was more likely than the early one, June 20.

A couple of weeks ago, when Marta was over to check things out (she's our MVM - Most Valued Mentor), she saw the size of Sundae's udder and agreed - no way she's making it to July 11. She's got a basketball between her lets. Think triple-D. A goat's udder expands to the bursting point as they near kidding and Sundae is there.

Marta stopped by last Sunday on her way home from church and shook her head. Expansive udder, but not the belly girth befitting a goat 5 days past her due date. Marta's guess: Sundae was going to give birth at any time but probably only have one kid, not the normal two or even more desirable three.

But here we are 8 days past that early due date and she's showing no signs of being close. As they near going into labor they stop eating, but Sundae is devouring her mash and alfalfa with gusto. And none of the other signs are there either - some of the same signs of estrus.

By Saturday we'll be halfway between the early and late due dates. At this point she's going to be either unusually late or surprisingly early. Or she'll hang in there for another 12 days because the later date is the correct one and Mondo is her baby's daddy. And if July 11 is the correct date her udder will be MASS-IVE and she'll almost certainly have multiples, two or three. (Four is not unheard of.)

At this point I just want her to kid. I don't leave for more than about 30 minutes at a time (like a trip to get straw) lest I be gone when she goes into labor. Think: cabin fever.

Stay tuned!

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." - Henry Ford

The guy in the black truck rear ended the boat trailer and launched the boat. 
Stuck the landing.

Wrote this last night and just never hit the button to post it. I must have been tired.

Nothing to report on the goat front. She's been listless all day but shows no objective signs of impending labor. We're now one week into the 3 week gap between breedings. Marta wasn't sure the first one took so she put her back in with the buck the next time she came into heat (every three weeks). Marta says there's no way her udder could be this big if her due date is 7/11, but we can't help but wonder.

I have stretch marks on my toe. As in, it's been pretty swollen for a long time. Tomorrow marks two weeks since the nail was removed and I sure thought I'd be mostly healed by now. Nope.

Cloudy until noon, but mid-70's and sunny since. I wire brushed and painted (black) the correct 4-lug rims we got when we were in AZ a couple of months ago, but the hubcaps, correctly called wheel covers, are pricey so I'll wait to get them, do the switch and put the new wheels and covers on.
I also sprayed the Ace Hdw version of RoundUp (cheaper) around the place where I'll eventually put down straw go make the place look a little neater. Next spring I'll surprise Pam and spread wildflower seeds.
And worked on that journal article. Three or four paragraphs.

On the CBS national news tonight they talked about the antagonism from the administration toward the press, amped up because of the mess over at CNN with a retracted story about collusion with Russia that led to the resignation of three writers. The anchor went on to say that the press aren't the only ones pushing false information and cited examples of the President's falsehoods.
Love it. It's OK that we lie because they do, too.
Remember when saying someone was a journalist implied unquestioned objectivity and integrity?
The line between reporter and one who opines has disappeared.

There's so much I don't understand. Near the top of the list of inscrutable things is women's fashions. What's the sense in cutting the fabric out the shoulders of a dress or top and calling it stylish? And how did they get so many women to go along with it?
Who is fooled by a 70 year old woman with anything but gray hair?
It's OK to have gray hair!

This Oct. 31 is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Start planning your party now. You have time to come up with clever ideas for group activities, maybe costumes, party favors, Reformation-themed games....

Monday, June 26, 2017

"I like all my children, even the squat and ugly ones." - Howard Nemerov

From a friend's FB page

As I type this it's 1 p.m. and Sundae shows no signs of impending labor. Tomorrow she'll be one week past her due date. We stayed home from church yesterday certain that we would otherwise miss the big event. Nothing. Marta stopped by on her way home from church and is equally puzzled. Marta suspects that given her girth and lateness Sundae is probably only going to give us one kid. She should be HUGE, nearly bursting, if she had the normal two kids inside. That she isn't means there's probably just one in there and it has extra room, thus extending its stay. But it also means that instead of 9-10 pounds we'll probably get a kid at 10-12 pounds.

Yesterday afternoon we left for about 30 minutes to run Sally up to the guy who's doing the front end work. He called an hour ago to say it's ready. What??? He's not allowed to be that fast; it violates all standards of auto mechanic businesses.
Pam's in town doing the laundry and when she gets home we'll go pick it up. New pitman arm, new center link bar, new upper and lower A-arms wth ball joints and bushings, and a tightened steering box. I'm eager to experience the new ride.

I *think* the swelling in my big toe is starting to go down. If I keep my foot elevated it feels OK, and it's only after I've been on it for awhile that it gets pretty painful. That's a good sign, right? I haven't had a bandage on it for about 12 hours and the nail bed itself is OK except for when I take my sock off. It's just the pain of the swelling now.
It's been almost two weeks.

I'm seriously encouraged by the Supreme Court's rulings. They decided to hear the case of the Colorado bakery that declined to do a wedding cake for a gay wedding (despite adverse rulings from all lower courts) and to overturn a Missouri ruling that barred a church-run day care from receiving public funds in a program to retrofit school playgrounds with a surface made from crushed tires. I guess I'm also pleased that the President's "travel ban" was largely upheld, not because I'm convinced it's a good plan but because it preserves the powers of one of the branches of govt. in the face of what strikes me as judicial overreach.

Note: it's not a travel ban because it doesn't ban travel. It's a temporary restriction on people from six countries identified by our govt. as nations without adequate controls who want to come to the U.S. Calling it a travel ban is a little like calling Obamacare the Affordable Care Act.

I spent time in Fred this morning working on that journal article. Because it's a journal I'm being very careful and precise, checking verb tenses and syntax, reading in the commentaries.... When I came up to eat lunch I had a desk stacked with open books from my shelves and a head that was spinning. Getting to the bottom of one verse, in this case Matt. 18:19, leads to another related passage that has to be worked, and from there to another, and.... One of those passages (Matt 16:19) has all kinds of knots to be undone with significantly diverging views from every book I opened. So I'm getting that mental workout I wanted.

4 p.m., back from the auto shop, and Sally is MUCH improved. Money well spent, especially given that sloppy steering eventually becomes a safety hazard.
And Sundae shows no signs of kidding.

8 p.m. and no kids. Certainly tomorrow, right?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Remember, it's as easy to marry a rich woman as a poor woman." - William Makespeace


As I type this it's 95 outside and 95 inside. The next 90 minutes are the worst, the time between when the sun hits on the west side of MoHo full force, and low enough to shine on the living room window and the time it drops behind the tall fir trees to our west. We watch closely to see when the outside is cooler than the inside, and then we open windows beginning on the east side of MoHo.

Poor Sundae shows no signs of labor. She ate her evening meal with her usual gusto, and indication her body is not getting ready to kid. We'll stay home from church tomorrow on the assumption she'll go into labor at some point during the day. Her udder is HUGE and she walks like she has a basketball between her legs.

I was concerned about the month-old chicks in the coop, so I've been going out every hour or so and hosing down the roof. That quickly drops the inside temp 8-10 degrees, but it goes right  back up. Have you ever seen chicks pant? It's sad.

I (we) like living out in the woods. We're isolated enough that though we sometimes can hear our neighbors we can't see them through the trees. Many days are like today; we worked outside this morning and spent the rest of the day inside escaping the heat. Just the two of us, and that's fine. OK?

One of the things I enjoyed about being a prof was the constant intellectual stimulation. For me it came mostly from interactions with my students in and out of the classroom. Conversations with colleagues revolved mostly around teaching or administrative issues, rarely topics related to our teaching content or current events and the like. On any given day I'd spend several hours teaching in the classroom and, in upper division courses that meant back-and-forth with the students on course content. Those conversations often continued after class.

Most of the faculty who ate the noon meal on campus (free for profs) sat together. I much preferred to sit with students because I found them much more interesting, never mind the assist my teaching got from listening to them. I thoroughly enjoyed the both the classroom and the cafeteria, my favorite times/places on campus. (Put faculty meetings at the opposite end of that spectrum. You would not believe....)

So sometimes I have an experience like I did this morning. Pam and I sat on the front porch/deck for an hour or so before lunch. Unless you've been to Baker Rd. you can't imagine how beautiful the scenery and relaxing that setting, at least for us. The huge fir trees, the creek, the birds, the wildflowers, the goats, the fruit trees....
But every once in awhile I miss the spontaneous conversations that engage my brain, that make me think about new things, or old things in a new way.
I explore the internet a lot. Today I learned the definition of a coronet (no, it's not a small trumpet) and how to make a flaky pie crust (one of my next projects). But I miss the interaction of conversation, the dynamic back and forth with others.
Just about the only conversations I have that might develop into that kind of mental stimulation are at church, and most of those are just the standard chit chat. That's good, but doesn't scratch the itch. The old guys at the coffee shop have all kinds of knowledge and wisdom, but it's about things, not ideas. Our small group could (should?) provide an opportunity for thoughtful discussion but our leader is more inclined to "sharing." (ugh!)

Today I decided to start on a new article I've been asked to write, the one for that journal. It may sound weird, but that makes my brain work pretty hard as I interact with my imaginary reader, listening to his/her objections or "Huh??" Good, enjoyable, but not the same.

Do you ever get a hankering for intellectual interaction?

Friday, June 23, 2017

"No one understands anyone 18, including those who are 18" - Jim Bishop


Oh my.

The first Dish guy said the problem with our internet wasn't a misaligned dish as the phone tech had determined, it was all the foliage that had grown into the Line of Sight. No LOS = no signal. So he told me to cut down the branches and put in an order to install a new pole and dish in a location that would be better for maintaining a LOS. (If you're wondering why he ordered both, so was I.) I dutifully cut the branches and got no improvement. Which is to say, no signal, and thus no internet.

The pole/dish install guy showed up this afternoon and said there was no need for a new location, it was a simple alignment problem. He spent 10 minutes re-aiming the dish and we now have our internet back...and faster. That makes sense, though. The dish is mounted to a tree (which tech #1 said was verboten and a firing offense) and as the tree grows the dish moves slightly. It didn't go out of alignment all at once, but gradually as the tree grew. So our speed slowed until it finally stopped.

Tech #2 said this will happen again as the tree grows and we'll have to have this fix repeated in the future. Mostly, I think he was happy to have escaped the hard work of setting a pole and dish, and running the cable through the woods to MoHo. Especially on a hot day. (We're headed to 92 today and 100 tomorrow.)

Per Marta's recommendation I'm checking Sundae every hour on the hour. At 11 a.m. I *think* I watched her water break, but nothing has happened since then. Poor girl. In this heat....
We're hoping she gives birth during the night. We'd miss it, but that's better for her than during the serious heat tomorrow. Sunday is back to the high 80's, still hot, but much better for her and the kids. And if she doesn't kid tomorrow I'll stay home from church Sunday. It would be appropriate for Sundae to kid on Sunday, eh?

I called the podiatrist's office when they opened yesterday and told the gal that eight days after the procedure to remove my big toe nail I thought there might be a problem. My toe is very swollen and that swelling is moving up my foot. The nail bed is still weeping and shows no signs of healing over. And it is extremely sensitive. OUCH!
She said she'd talk to the dr. and call me back.
Two hours later, "No fever? No yellow discharge? Then he says this all sounds normal, but if you want to come in he'll see you this morning."
I do not want to be "that patient," the one they talk about after he leaves and say things like, "What a wuss." So I said I'd hang in there. "Tell the doctor he undersold the recovery process."
When I was there for the removal he told me toenails serve no function and mine would not grow back; I'll just have skin there.
Wrong! The perform a very important function. They protect your nail bed from anything that comes in contact with it and feels like a ball peen hammer. There's a reason they used pulling nails out as torture.

It helps with the swelling, if not the workload, if I sit in my chair with feet up. So this afternoon I watched some of the Barrett-Jackson car auction from some Indian Casino Resort someplace. The previewed a '59 Chevy fleetside pickup and a '59 Olds 2-door hardtop. Having owned and sold both of those I was torn between curiosity and fear to see the selling price.
The Olds sold for $19,000, just a bit over 10x what I sold mine for. But it had power everything, so there's that.


I finally got the sign done. I printed off the words on card stock, cut them out, traced them to the wood, and then painted them. It now hangs on the barn, a suitable embellishment to welcome Sundae's kids. Next up: the sign identifying the separate area at the far end of the barn,
the "Asante Memorial Birthing Center."

Just for fun.

We're finally done with pledge four weeks on our local PBS station and back to good programming. That includes our usual favorites and a new one - at least on our affiliate - "Murder on the Home Front." We recommend it. And the season premier of Grantchester was good, too.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"When I was born I was so surprised I didn't talk for a year and a half." - Gracie Allen


Our internet has been mostly MIA today. Mostly that's just an inconvenience, but sometimes it's more problematic. For that I can drive down the hill and use my phone. But I'm hoping that Friday's visit by the Dish tech gets us back online reliably, even if slowly.
Yesterday's tech actually suggested we switch to DSL. s'pose his supervisor approves?
Our switching will happen if/when that Verizon tower 1/4 mile from our house is up and working. Can you spell tethering?

I think my toe is a little better today. Less swelling. I tried to go for a run but turned around after about 100 yards, deciding I don't want to ruin that improvement by pounding the pavement for 40 minutes.

Sundae lumbers as she walks, but shows no signs of labor. Marta is going to stop by tomorrow morning to check on her. I'm eager to hear what she has to say. As total newbies we don't know what to expect, what's normal, or what are signs of trouble.

I bought two bales of wheat straw today. There's something manly about going into a feed store and ordering bales of hay or straw and then driving around back to get them. It's so much cooler than placing an order at the fast food joint.

Oregon is one messed up state.
They just raised a tax on all hospitals and medical facilities to fund medical services for the homelss and low income people.
I've never seen a place that provides as much for the homeless, including tiny houses for them. Surprise!! Last year the population of homeless in Eugene went up 5% last years.
In Douglas County, just south of Lane Country where we live they've closed all the libraries for lack of funding.
The state govt. anticipated marijuana tax revenues for 2015 to 2017 to be $10.7 million. As it turns out, for just 2016 it came in at $60.2 million and it shows no signs of slowing for 2017.
I will not vote for any tax increase for any purpose until someone explains to me how a $50 million windfall doesn't pay the bills.

There's more, but even as I type this our internet connection is going in and out. I'm going to hit "Publish" and call it good. We often go for cheap pizza in Veneta on Thursday nights, so maybe we'll take our laptops and snag their internet and hope it's all better after Friday's work.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"A psychiatrist asks a lot of questions your wife asks for nothing." - Joey Adams


Ugh.

The Dish guy showed up this morning. His second impression isn't very good, either.
He said the tech gal on the phone yesterday was wrong; the problem isn't a misaligned dish. At least not that he can confirm because there's too much vegetation in the way. Read: branches and leaves have grown enough to obstruct the LOS (Line of Sight) from the dish to the satellite. He also said the original installer should never have attached it to a tree, something that violates company policy and puts his job at risk. Oh, and it's not a good location under any circumstances.

After he left I spent a couple of hours with my chain saw and pole pruner clearing vegetation. It didn't fix things. The connection goes in and out randomly and is painfully slow all the time. This page took about 5 minutes to load and I keep getting the red bar that says Auto Save failed. Most sites just time out.

Tomorrow the state (?) guy will come and mark any underground utilities so that Friday another Dish tech can put in a pole in a different location that should improve things. Until then we're effectively off line 90% of the time. Unfortunately, we don't have any way of knowing when that other 10% is going on.
So I'm typing a post you may never see.

We finally got the estimate from the stove shop guy who came out last week to take a look at our situation. Uhm....sticker shock! Apparently stove pipe is made out of gold, or maybe titanium. We have to decide if this is something we'll do in 2017 or push it to 2027.

The correct fix for Sally's leak is to weld in a new cowl piece on each side where Ford got their design wrong and the metal has rusted through. The stamped replacements (also) aren't cheap, but pale in comparison to an installed wood stove. I'll get and install those in time for fall rains, but today I took advantage of a pretty good sale at Harbor Freight to buy just about the cheapest wire welder anybody makes and, From Coastal Farm (where old guys get a 10% discount on Tuesdays) a welding helmet. Now I have to learn how to use this thing. There are lots of how-to videos on You Tube...that I can't watch because even if our internet was reliable because we can't stream without using up our monthly data allowance in about 15 minutes.
A: Starbucks. Or McDonalds.

Alas, there is SO much work to be done here on Baker Rd. that I can't stand the thought of sitting in a coffee shop watching videos.

I need a cup of coffee and a cookie.