The Monotonous Life Of Chippy (A Mower Subject To A Human’s Poor Decisions)

DISCLAIMER: This is an entire post about mowing. I am so sorry.

This is the tale of a brave little lawnmower asked to tackle a job of ENORMOUS proportions. Or rather… an undertaking of moderate size and less than ideal conditions which probably don’t fall under Chippy’s job description.

“Take this wee mower and mow your whole acre field with it, BUT be sure the grass is too tall and very damp first.” The small engine seller did not say to Mason when he bought it. I guess that’s what I get for not having been there. For that is what I did. Poor Chippy.

You see, New England has been in a constant state of wet for weeks now. Not just drizzly wetness, but drenching downpours which leaves the ground over saturated and the roads washed out. With only a day or two of sun in between, there simply hasn’t been enough time to truly dry out the grass, but plenty of time for it to grow! All too soon the grass was going to be beyond Chippy’s capabilities and we are not yet in the market for a riding mower, so it was now or never.

Perhaps I should have been daunted from the start, but with the enthusiasm of a new home owner I ploughed my way into the field…

IMG_7101The problems began at once. With every one of these passes I had to stop, turn off the mower, and unclog the grass chute. This routine does not give one a sense of efficiency IMG_7102and accomplishment. Again, perhaps I should have had some second thoughts about my day’s plan, but I didn’t. THE FIELD WOULD BE MOWED.

Besides, I had all day, there was plenty of time and sun and everything would be great! Maybe I would even get the yard around the house done, too!

Using a tactic I despise every time I come across it in a novel I will say… “if only she knew how wrong she was and the terrible consequences her actions would cause.” (I find it ever so depressing to be repeatedly told of the doom awaiting the characters, while being fed a strong impression that perhaps the characters are also a bit dumb for making all these doom causing decisions. Maybe it just hits a little close to home.)

Signs of my enthusiasm waning started to show in the desperate shapes I began to make. Having initially mowed in methodical and efficient straight lines, I now found myself pushing Chippy in determined squares…

IMG_7110

I was already a few hours into this process, and I think this was the pitiful state of my amusement playing out, but I had also determined that perhaps I could make things easier for the mower if I mowed in a way IMG_7115that I didn’t have to re-mow the grass shot out of the chute. There is absolutely no proof that this did work because I had reached a section consisting of different grasses which were easier to mow. There was a new bounce in my step.

Until I reached the graveyard.

In one corner of the field the previous owners stuck sticks in the ground to mark where the rocks are for the unaware mower. Four hours into mowing I had reached this corner and as I struggled to navigate the plentiful sticks I couldn’t help noticing a certain likeness and wondering… what if these markers are marking markers?!

Well, it’s highly unlikely, but… what if it’s true?! I can’t know! My writer’s brain goes wild with ideas.

On a more cheery note, I also found this little guy in this corner…

IMG_7119

An Eastern Newt! This one was tiny, only the length of the tip of my index finger. These orange fellows are a familiar sight for me since my childhood, so are another newt of a duller green and yellow complexion which I’ve always seen in ponds, but in doing my research to figure out exactly what they were called I discovered both are the same newt at different ages! I have also discovered this fact is old news for a lot of people, but… better a late bloomer than never.

After FIVE AND A HALF HOURS my doom was before me. I had only managed to do just over half of the field. As for consequences… I may have exaggerated a little. Mildly frustrated by the lack of completion, a little sore, andIMG_7112 fairly tired pretty much sums them up. Boy was it a long day.

There’s nothing like doubt to undermine one’s mental stability in a situation like this. I just can’t help contemplating the human need to tame, tidy, and control nature. As spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, and newts fled before my munching crunching machine (I helped as many of them as I could) I had to harden myself to the situation to continue. On the other hand I am someone naturally prone to tidiness and my surroundings looking good feels important to me. I still haven’t solved that issue for myself. I think I’m hoping that when I can get animals they will eat down the grass and everything will feel like a more natural equilibrium.

And then I went and made this huge mess in my house! Ah well, the sky was still blue, the sun lowering behind the trees making the heat and humidity less unbearable; at least now I could go relax under the trees on this beautiful day.

IMG_7125

Advertisements

Let The Homesteading Begin!

With much excitement I write to you from my new home! It has been a month (to the day!) since we closed and moved in, but we are finally settled and the building of our dream in this place we have landed has begun!

As can be the nature of beginnings, our first projects have been humble. It has taken me some time to find a day off from work with which I can tackle a sizeable project. Having first emptied the shed of all its contents and replaced them in a more organised manner, I decided to clean up one of our property boundaries which was marked by a “fence”. Now, I’ve seen many examples of fencing, but in my opinion what we had could only be loosely defined as such. Some rotting pallets propped up against trees, mixed in with a roll of chain-link fence, on top of a pile of buried trash, and partially submerged in dead leaves and brush… does not a fence make. Perhaps I am simply not open minded enough.

In order to create easy access to the site in question it was in need of some weed whacking, so what does this new home owner do having not yet acquired many yard implements that were not previously needed at her in-city apartment? Why, use the weed-whacker she found in the shed, of course!

IMG_6829

Luckily its primitive nature was no burden to me, seeing as I struggle daily to crawl back through time in an attempt to slow the frantic pace of life down. Laughing gaily I whacked away! Before promptly getting distracted by this magnificent mushroom…

IMG_6836

We’ve had an unusual amount of rain of late leading to an awesome abundance of mushrooms. If anyone happens to know what kind of mushroom this is, I would be most interested to know! It’s brown and flat on top, looking much like a pancake, and the flat of it is bigger than my flexed hand.

Meanwhile, my partner Mason arrived home with a shiny new lawnmower causing much excitement (because at this point mowing the lawn is the height of excitement and satisfaction). We have been trying to find something used, for it is our intent to try to reuse and recycle as much as we can, but the stars had not been aligning for some time and the jungle was at our doorstep. The lawnmower was christened “Chippy” and put straight to work.

Having emerged from gaping at mushrooms in the woods, I went to work changing this:

IMG_6820

… into this:

IMG_6852

Again, humble beginnings, but though it is a small thing it feels SO much better and makes me happy.

At this point the hour was getting late, but we were not done for the day! Mason (taking a break from mowing), Ruth (our good friend who currently lives with us and who had arrived mid “fence” demolishing and thrown herself into the fray), and myself moved onto the matter of the fire pit. One already existed, but it had the misfortune of existing on top of the dry well of our septic. It had to go. Or at least go three feet to the left.

I’ve been joking with people that one of the pleasures of owning a house was I could on a whim dig a hole wherever I liked. This had been a wild and humorous example… but why not? Especially if you get to end up with this:

IMG_6854

And what better way to celebrate a satisfying day of work than to roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire with a little celebratory flare from some leftover sparklers…

IMG_6842

A Long Delay, Bursting At The Seams (A.K.A. Healthy Photography post #1)

Well, I must say I have done very poorly at my weekly blog posts lately. My apologies if anyone has been remotely affected by this, but I suspect it is likely only I who have noticed my absence. A philosophical thought for contemplation if I’ve ever heard one, feeling the absence of oneself.

The explanation lies in my last post where I was marvelling at the effects of excitement, specifically concerning first time home purchasing. Sadly, the house that sparked that tirade fell through, but we are now most of the way through the process on a different house. This process has been exciting, stressful, and very time consuming, even if time has only been consumed by the gnashing teeth of useless fretting while at a standstill in the proceedings. I just keep reminding myself that we are that much closer to our homesteading dreams!

Of course, it’s not only house related adventures causing the distraction. Work has picked up as the farming season gets into full swing. There is never a dull moment with beds to weed, vegetables to harvest, seeds to be sown, and deer to thwart. I am just grateful that I do still have some farming in my life as it is an activity that brings me joy, and I am extremely lucky to be enjoying my sixth season on one particular farm which is very special to me.

But that’s not all! In case you were wondering where this rambling (and perhaps slightly dull) life update is going, you are about to find out! …In a moment.

At my other place of work, a local food co-op, a friendly health challenge has been proffered. Having been one to accept I am now obligated to spend the next three months building healthier habits, which is great! It just also happens to take time because one of the things you can get points for is how many steps you take in a day, and I’m just not one to let my team down. (We’re almost to the point…) One way for a team to win a prize is to have the most posts on social media. Now, I would love to help with this, but… where we are right now, you and I, is the most social media I’ve got. I’ve had this grand idea of giving myself a photography challenge (because what I need are more challenges in my life just now) of taking a picture a day somehow related to health and getting it posted… somehow… somewhere. I have a sneaking suspicion that “social media” means Facebook, Instagram, and that sort of thing. Yet here I am, the lowly blogger (and proud of it), wondering if I count.

I point my wordy, un-breakfast related finger at you, Facebook, and declare that I count!

Anyway, here are my pictures so far. I hope to update them more frequently than I have, but it took being rained out of farming to do this today, so we shall see.

(Descriptive, humorous, or simply inane captions are included if you click on the photos.)

 

The Moment You Realise You’ve Gone House Mad

IMG_6732

Snow day in Fitzwilliam, NH – March 2018

To begin with being snowed in while excitedly house hunting is a difficult combination of factors. More specifically, finding a listing that looks like it could be THE house (but who are we kidding, your mind has already convinced you that it most definitely is and it hardly matters that you haven’t seen the thing in person) while being stranded house sitting in your friend’s recently purchased beautiful abode that you admire (and possibly covet) everything about is nearly crazy making!

I say nearly, but that’s only a lingering wisp of optimism. The general population is lucky to be separated from me. Except for my partner (who, I’m very fortunate to say, still loves me), two cats, and a dog most people are safe from my madness. Sans those few unlucky souls whom even a foot and a half of snow and no phone could not be kept safe from my emails.

Do you know the feeling when you’ve decided you need to move on from a job, but you have to keep working there for awhile before you can leave and suddenly, even if it really isn’t that bad, because you’ve set your mind on this change IT BECOMES UNBEARABLE?  I’ve discovered this feeling can also be present when you’ve decided to move. I’m trying to enjoy the excitement, but all I seem to be doing is losing my marbles.

So far I don’t think I’ve truly related the madness I’m experiencing. The issue began when I found a listing for a house that was perfect. Not actually perfect, anyone involved in trying to buy a house will know there are always compromises, but this one the pros definitely outweigh the cons AND it might actually be doable price-wise. What more could a person ask for from first impressions?

This is where being stuck in someone else’s home, my personality, and the general excitement of the endeavour became a manic episode. My partner and I set up what meetings we could, but they aren’t until the end of the week and… there is nothing else I can do.

You just don’t understand how much I want to paint a wall right now. I NEED to paint a wall. My wall. With a colour I have chosen. If I were let loose in an area with paint swatches it would be a tornado of colour within which I would be sitting at its centre drooling (literally) over lavender, moss green, and burgundy with a wild look in my eye.

No one would want to come near me as I babble about the goat pen I have already planned from Google satellite view, or how I know exactly where to stack the firewood, or where the hedgerows and apple trees will go, or where I plan to hang the pots and pans.

I realise to a certain extent these feelings and this planning is normal, but I’ve only seen thirty-seven pictures of the place (possibly a hundred times) and a short description. I tell myself to get too excited now could lead to only a more severe disappointment later. Alas, my lack of other things to do only leaves more room to obsess so with a manic glint in my eye I research the price of cord wood in my area and whether it is sustainably harvested.

By the end of the night I am exhausted and emotionally spent, trying to close my eyes and banish thoughts of what fabric I will want to make napkins out of, only to wake up the next morning and start all over again.

It is today’s misfortune that my email contacts have run dry and I am now desperately blogging to relieve my excitement. My apologies to you all.

This has been a day in the life of the homestead dreamer.

The Beginning of a Dream

IMG_0683

A new path has appeared beneath my feet.

It’s funny how they do that. Perhaps life has left you wandering without a path, it might be pleasurable, or you may feel lost, then a path appears before you embodying curiosity or salvation. Or maybe you are already on a path, but an unexpected turn off appears with a myriad of tantalising possibilities.

Honestly, I’m not sure which my case is, but my toes have touched down on a very distinct, broad, and exciting new path. It is a natural path, no man made efforts in sight, just the lingering tale of many feet having left their mark on the earth. It is a natural journey I am hoping to find, with each step I hope to move away from the world of man made things; the plastics, the removal from nature, the hurried life.

I have been bitten by the homesteading bug.

This means large changes are now in motion. My partner and I are ready and eager to move from a rented in-town apartment, to buying a rural house for ourselves. For all our excitement, it is still much easier said than done. Then there is the rest of it. Luckily I have done seven years of vegetable farming which will come in handy, but my experience with animals is woefully minimal.

And I am dreaming BIG. Naturally there will be some chickens, because what would a IMG_0665farm be without chickens! There is a painter’s palet of egg colours, chicken colours and personalities bright in my mind’s eye. My partner is rather keen on having ducks as well, with their sleek feathers and delicious eggs.

He also has a preference for goats, and since we’re going big I say why not! Goat cheese is a favourite in our household, and they are certainly ideal to have about for the eating of less than desirable IMG_0258 copyvegetation.

I am strongly inclined towards some beautiful sheep, because I love to knit and just learned to spin wool. Being engaged in the full process of raising the animal, shearing, cleaning the fleece, spinning, and then knitting something means so much to me. To be able to give my thanks directly to the animal that has supplied me with warmth, and be able to appreciate each step and what it entails is a cycle I long to be a part of. Something I could say of my interactions with all these animals.

Also very important to me would be having a dairy cow. I am ready for milk, making butter and cheese, sharing surplus with friends and IMG_0676family. It is amazing the difference between thinking about taking care of a goat and taking care of a cow. Is it the difference between being able to pick up the animal if necessary? Okay, maybe you can pick up a cow, but I certainly can’t, either way I sorely wish I had been brought up on a farm so that all of these animals care was second nature, but I say it is never too late!048_48.JPG copy

Now, I grant you that this fellow is perhaps not the poster child of beauty, but he’s awfully smart and I wouldn’t mind a few of his kind in my life as well. Pigs are fascinating creatures and quite handy to have about. Besides, how can you resist a face like that?

In addition I dream of bees, apple trees, herb gardens, and vegetable gardens galore! Not to mention renewable energy, more home made goods about the house, canning… I’m just naming things at random because there is so much on my mind!

Thank you for taking a little stroll with me down the beginning of this new path and seeing the shiny possibilities of my hopes and dreams. I’ve decided perhaps it will be interesting to track the progress of this journey and thus have started a section for it on my blog. Who knows where I will be in five years, or even just one.

I certainly don’t. Anything is possible.