Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Morning Pig Feeder

Husband and I have become Pig Farmers... and it was no accident.

What it is though, is actually something of an experiment.
It's not that I have always aspired to be a Pig Farmer, even though growing up on a "gentleman's farm" was one of the best things about my own childhood.  I loved feeding and visiting the various critters (not the human kind), playing in the barns, even putting up hay.  My siblings and I would snuggle baby bunnies, play with the barn cats, hypnotize chickens, ride the cows and occasionally even the pigs - even though we had horses for that.  There was always something to do on the farm, and usually "someone" to do it with.  And yet somehow, even after spending so much time with them, I was still able to eat my former playmates with no qualms. 

Husband grew up in similar circumstances, and though we both left our respective farming communities, you can't take the country out of the kid.  That's why we choose to live in the boondocks like we do, despite college educations and somewhat citified tastes. Up here on our mountain we have plenty of space, though no barn. 

We are, however, both quite dedicated to providing our children with opportunities for enrichment, like the benefit of chores and the idea of knowing where our food comes from - a fact attested to by the size of our vegetable garden. And we have raised chickens before somewhat successfully.  (I was the Grim Reaper of Fowls in our family since, though we both have a dislike for butchering, I was better at disassociating.) But we have never tried raising larger farm animals.

(The dog doesn't count as I have no intention of eating her despite Husband taunting us with "dog is good eatin'!")

So, this year Husband took it upon himself to read up on raising pigs.  (A few years ago it was peppers.  That experiment went well as none of us developed any emotional attachment to them, but we just don't have the growing season...)  Anyhow, after extensive research into the matter, he asked if I was willing to give pigs a try.

"Sure" I said, knowing full well that he and I would end up doing all of the work....well, okay, mostly he would.

He cleverly converted the former chicken coop into a three-sided shelter and put up electric fencing.  He built a slops trough.  We even found some free dog food self-feeders alongside the road, which he carried with his arm hanging out the window for two miles because they wouldn't fit inside the loaded van - perfect for livestock grain.  Then, on VanONator's last full day with us, Husband removed the center seat to accommodate the dog's crate, and we hauled home two little piggies.

There was much debate over names.  Originally, they were to be called Hamlet and Biscuit, but the Critters (this time the human kind) quickly decided that wasn't dignified enough.  Several options were put on the table.  Theoden & Persephone were my personal favorites (Husband refused to name his food), but eventually Dorrit and Romie won out. 

That is not, however, what we ended up calling them.  

As Morning Pig Feeder, and due to the simple fact that I am home most often, I spend the most time visiting them. And I tried, I really did, to call them by the names my Critters had chosen for them, even though Romie sounded like a diminutive of Romeo and was supposed to be the sow's name.  On the second or third morning they were here, I carried out the slops - by then they needed no encouragement and came running. As they over-enthusiastically snuffled my bright green Crocs, what came out of my mouth was "Hey!  Knock it off, Dori & Grommit!" - and it stuck.  Those were their names, and though I explained to my Critters that they were free to call them whatever on God's green earth they wanted to call them, that's who they were to me.

Because besides being Morning Pig Feeder, I am also a Pig Whisperer. 

Again, it's not an occupation I sought.  I'm just a natural.  I can't help but coo and praise them - "good Pigs!" - and scratch behind their floppy sails-for-ears.  They are so happy and excited to see me even when I come slop-less, that I can't resist.  I love to watch them speed along on their stubby little legs, kick up their heels and root around in the rich soil for who knows what treasures.  (No truffles in this neck of the woods.)  And I swear they smile when they look up and see it's me...

Firstborn wanted to know if we should get them some toys when she saw one of them playing with a rock.  (She is our almost-vegetarian, and this experiment may inadvertently destroy all desire for the one type of meat she still craves.)

Husband just shook his head.  "I don't play with my food."

Kinda gives it a whole new meaning...

To their credit, the Critters have not thus far begged us to reconsider butchering the pigs this fall.  They all realize why we got them - except for the littlest, who thinks they are here for a vacation - and even agree with my position:

Just because their destiny is the dinner plate, that doesn't mean they shouldn't have happy lives.

And as the official Morning Pig Feeder (and unofficial Pig Whisperer) I solemnly vow that they shall...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Bachelor Brothers

I have two....

(scroll down)

The Good 'Ol Boy


The Fuss-Budget

Things they have in common                                How they differ
         Over six feet tall                                              Everything else 
Over fifty years old                                                            
Their parents                                                          
Their Siblings                                                          
Marital status                                                          
They are older than me                                                           

I am posting this on F.B.'s birthday.  It is very important that I do so... because then he will know that I did not forget, or get the date wrong.  G.O.B.'s birthday was nearly two months ago. I didn't call, even though I thought good thoughts his way all day.  I have not called him on his birthday more than once or twice.  He probably wouldn't even remember his birthday, except he still lives with our parents, and I'm pretty sure Mom made him a cake. 

F.B. - who lives alone - would probably appreciate a cake, but he will have to settle for a call...

For years and years (and maybe even still) I did not remember their birthdays correctly.  G.O.B. is sandwiched in between our two married brothers, one older and one younger.  At least, I think he is - all three of their birthdays are in row a week before my own and I can never keep them straight.  And for some odd reason I always remember F.B.'s as a day later than it actually is. 

But not this year!

I am writing this early, so that I can post on exactly the right day.  Which is tomorrow... I think...

Anyhow, Happy Birthday - belated and otherwise - to my Bachelor Brothers! 

I'm glad you're mine....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Van-O-Nator now Van-No-More

Dearly beloved,
We are gathered here today to bid adieu to a wonderful....

to a fine...

okay, to an old family vehicle. 

The Van-O-Nator III served us... adequately... for more years than it really ought to have, as did V-II and V-I before it.  But alas, as with all things, it's time on this planet is limited, and before it left any more of itself along the the Boulevard of Busted Mufflers we, eh-hem, decided to trade it in.

Actually, we were astounded that we could get any trade-in $ for it.  They must have been desperate for a sale... and Husband was almost as desperate to hold his hand still while signing the loan papers.  In our nearly twenty years of marriage, this is the first time we've ever financed a vehicle.  Which explains why at over 75,000 miles on it, our new van has the lowest mileage of any vehicle we've ever owned.

Van-O-Nator III had over 150,000 hard-worn miles, and had earned it's retirement.  So, even though we were only going to the dealership to check out if we had won a a prize with our "winning number"  from the sale promo that came in the mail, we ended up driving home in a different rig (as Husband likes to call them). 



(Van-O-Nator IV just didn't seem cool enough for such a cool ride.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beyond Obsolescence

Ever feel doomed to failure before you even start?

I'm generally a very optimistic, self-actualized person - with rose colored glasses securely in place - giving the benefit of doubt to most folks (as long as they aren't auto mechanics), believing anything is possible, and finding those silver linings despite oft torrential rain.  But one endeavor has me stymied...

It's not that I have yet to get published, even though that road is turning out to be longer and more pot-holed than our twisty, mountain back road, a.k.a. the Boulevard of Busted Mufflers.  And no, it has nothing to do with making my mark on the art world; as long as I can create, I'm good - though getting paid occasionally would be nice...

It's not even raising the Critters into responsible adulthood.  The jury's still out on that one, but I think our chances are pretty good.

Actually, it's figuring out how to remain relevant...

...and by that I mean finding the right niche, so that even when everything else around me becomes obsolete, I won't.  Case in point:

Candles - How many years since electricity was discovered? Notice they don't have light bulb parties...

Bacon  - Who cares if it's bad for you?

Wine - Ditto.

Toilet paper - Well, you get the picture...

This came to my attention when I cut a deal with our Most Determined Critter. (Remember I told you that the third child feels like thirty?)  We were discussing, among other things, poor eating habits and why we couldn't afford to get her an IPad. Husband tried to warn me, but brazenly I threw down the gauntlet -

It has now been 5 months, 17 days and some odd (at times, extremely so) hours and counting...

{Note: She does get an occasional break - 1 piece of birthday cake per immediate family member birthday, a scraping of jam on toast, a dribble of homemade maple syrup or honey.  But Easter held no chocolate bunnies for her this year, even though it hurt not to give her one. (It was delicious...) However, I did cave in and fill a few plastic eggs with [blech!] sugar-free candy.  I could have filled a basket to overflowing with saccharin and aspartame goodies, but crummy after-taste aside, I just can't believe  substitutes are any better for her.}

Before I even have a chance to start double-pinching pennies to pay for the stupid thing, she has a revelation-


How does technology become obsolete before any normal person can afford it?  And why is it that a kid who doesn't even have something yet, wants an even better one?  Nothing we own is state-of-the-art, let alone new, but most of the time it works - even the Van-O-Nator, despite the BBM's best efforts.

Husband's ancient tractor, which has had it's guts splayed under a tarp in the yard since it died last fall doesn't count.

I take a look around the room.

{Okay, our house is almost never this neat and tidy, and nowhere near as spacious, but I can't deal with other people in my clutter, so just use your imagination...} 

At first glance, our house contains an eclectic array of tastefully arranged furniture and other belongings.  But believe it or not, there are only three items in this picture that are not obsolete, aside from aforementioned candle (wall sconce on the right).  Can you guess?

Okay, let me help...

Starting upper left and moving approximately clockwise:

Phone - Who needs a land-line?
Games on disc - Flash drives are quicker, have more capacity and are infinitely portable...
Computers - Anything older than a year and it actually costs money to throw away.
Windows (not the computer kind) - The only screen kids look at these days is digitized.
The great outdoors - Casualty of the previous...
Houseplant - Plastic never dies... or needs watering. Strike two against it? (It's a peace lily.)
Bookshelf - Kindle
      (Top shelf) Cassette tapes - Are they collectors items yet?
      (2nd shelf) CD's - ITunes
      (3rd shelf) VCR tapes & Cookbooks - Dinosaurs and Take-out.
    (Bottom shelf) Books -They've been through five kids already: how much longer do you think they'll last?
Wall color - Pastels are in, earth tones out.
Globe - Half the countries on our junktique model no longer exist!
Dining room chairs - Most of ours are beyond repair, but regardless, who has time to sit down to eat  anymore?  They do get used at the computers however...
Dining room Table - *See Dining room chairs
Old growth, wide pine flooring - Bamboo is where it's at...

Which leaves...

Cigar box - perfect for holding now-obsolete computer games - plus it smells good!
Antique piano, gutted - Handsomely crafted by Husband to accommodate two now-obsolete computers...
Websters Dictionary - You would think with a name like Websters it would still be around... unfortunately, the local Critters would much rather look up definitions online. These volumes do, however, make excellent blocks for holding furniture off the floor...

(By the way, in answer to Most Determined Critter's question: The alternate title for this post was "Out-Moded & Out-Sourced vs. Out of Touch & Out of Luck "!...)