A Tower of Giraffes

And then I was saved By a tower of giraffes Just in time for Saturday! Oh, we shared such laughs. For A Murder of Crows and Other Woes, a children's book for ages 7-adult, due to come out November 25.

Pot Bellied Pig

I took my daughter and her friend to visit the nearby farm of Mr. L (who is a portly man with a big red beard), and Mr. L and I had the following conversation:

 Mr. L: "Did you see my potbelly piglets?"

 Me: "Yeah."

 Mr. L: "You wanna buy one?"

 Me: "Oh, no. They're so cute. I don't think I could butcher them."

 Mr. L: "They're not for eating! I'm selling them as pets! Like Mr. Piggy, over there. He's a pet. He just wanders around and stuff. He was even house trained with a litter box, at one point."

 He gestured towards a 300 pound monstrosity of sweet swine, lounging in front of the barn. Mr. Piggy gave me a little grunt and a nod, to indicate he knew he was being spoken of, and he approved of this message. If Mr. Piggy were mine, I thought, I would have named him Dreadnought. He looked big.

 Me: "Don't they eat a lot?"

 Mr. L: "Ah, no, Mr. Piggy there just eats some cat food and our table scraps, that's all. And these piglets are miniature potbelly, so they won't be growing that big... Don't know what Mr. Piggy would do if we had a garden, though, come to think of it."

 Me: "I do have a garden." Our respective children (and an extra one I borrowed) were running around now, picking up squealing piglets and generally having a good time. Did I mention this guy, Mr. L, has a reindeer? This guy Mr. L has a reindeer. That's not exactly relevant, but perhaps noteworthy. He has pretty much every animal. The kids were now riding his Icelandic sheep, which he had in a pen in the barn. The sheep were surprisingly small. His little two year old boy wanted to do it, too, but he was too small to climb the fence, so Mr. L picked the kid up and then lowered him in the pen by one arm. The boy was delighted.

 Mr. L: "You can actually potty train a potbelly real easily. You just let them in your house, and the first place they go, that's were you put the litter box. They'll always go there, forever after that." I pondered this for a moment.

 Me: "But what if they go in the middle of your living room? And then you have this potbelly pig litter box in the middle of your living room?" He laughed.

 Mr. L: "Well, you can move it just a little bit over, each day, and it will change over time, gradually, like."

 Me: "And you have people over for a party or something, and you're sitting in the living room, and then this big ole pig walks in and just poops in front of everyone? Oh my god!"

 Mr. L laughed. I guess he knew at that point that I would not be buying a potbellied pig from him.

 *********** On the way home, Little Z said,
 "Did you know that that little boy killed one of those piglets? I guess he squeezed it too hard."

 "Today?! Just now?"

 "No, another day." And a good time was had by all. Except for the baby pig, who died.

Home Brewing Before the Shrine to Andy Warhol's Patriotic Teeth

We got enough hops to make several batches of beer! So, today, I brewed some beer.
BAH started the yeast for us, and he did offer to come home and help with the heavy lifting, but we couldn't quite coordinate our schedules. I ended up using Little Z's little skateboard to move the six gallons of beer around (to her chagrin).
Brewing beer has a lot in common with canning and baking bread. It's like what men do instead of canning. (If you are a man who does canning, that's totally hot. Just like the way I brew beer is totally hot. Sort of. At least, the brew is boiling.) 
Bad-Assed Husband has been growing pretty heritage corn and setting it before the shrine to Andy Warhol's Patriotic Teeth.
Bodkay is watching.

The Singer Goes Mute

This rooster of ours (Rosie Junior) crows so much that I'm seriously considering making him for dinner. As soon as I turned the camera on, though, he stopped crowing. And so I tried crowing, so he would follow my example.

A Murder of Crows

When they got over their fright
The crows named me “Otis”
I stayed there all night
And you didn’t even notice!

Part of a work in progress, A Murder of Crows And Other Woes, due for release November 25.

Text for "A Murder of Crows and Other Woes"

Here's the rough draft of that children's book I'm working on. It's not actually punctuated yet, because I don't actually know how to punctuate a rhyming story. English majors and other knowledgable folks, comment in the comments on this. This is really rough, but I feel like showing you all. (That's probably bad form. I try to do the wrong thing here as much as possible.) The final version will be illustrated, with one wacky picture for each type of animal which she encounters:

A Murder of Crows and Other Woes

My daughter, my sweet
I got a note from your teacher
And it wasn’t so neat
It said you’d missed school
For two weeks- a fortnight!
You shouldn’t miss school
You know that it’s not right
What could have happened?
Why didn’t you go?
I told her you’re a good girl
This couldn’t be so.

Oh, Daddy I wanted to go!
The Monday before last
I remember it well
I had just finished breakfast
When I heard the school bell
I went running so fast,
past the old Chestnut tree
(It’s a really nice way, I think you’ll agree)

except that
A clutter of spiders was waiting for me
They spun their webs
Most vehemently
I didn’t escape
Until a quarter to three
(The Scissors in my backpack
were what set me free.)

On Tuesday I left
With a spring in my step
Stepped out the door,
With a certain amount of pep
When a scourge of mosquitoes
Stung my right finger
I went on to school,
But I didn’t linger.
(Since I couldn’t write anyway,
on account of my finger.)

On the way to school on Wednesday,
I had the choice of two roads
And then while I was thinking
I saw a knot of toads
The toads told me stories
Until I fell fast asleep
And I dreamt of all their glories
Until I woke with a leap

The next day I decided
That I would carry my lunch
When a large gang of weasles
Came and hit me with a punch
They were clawing and gnawing
And nearly tore off my sleeve
But then while they were pawing
I managed to leave.

Friday I decided
That my safest bet
Would be to go to the shore
And swim with a net

Then a whole smack of jellyfish
Came stinging at me
I thought I was dead
Until I grabbed onto a tree

And then I was saved
By a tower of giraffes
Just in time for Saturday!
Oh, we shared such laughs.

On Monday, not daunted,
I swam the waters of dread
And found a fever of stingrays
Just hopped out of bed

I swam as the river flows
To that very same tree
Only to find a murder of crows
Pecking at me!

When they got over their fright
The crows named me “Otis”
I stayed there all night
And you didn’t even notice!

Tuesday, I saw no boats
And no sign of humanity
On Wednesday, a tribe of goats
Came and took back my sanity

With their bleating
They told me, “jump on my hide!”
And when they were done eating,
They would give me a ride
home to rest from my ordeal.
I let the goats be my guide.

On Thursday, I got dressed
And put on my shoes
I was rested and well
I was nimble and new
I went out the door,
And to my great surprise
I found a wisdom of wombats
With crazy blue eyes.
They showed me their secrets
And told me their names
And I played with them all day
And joined in their games.

But Friday was the most
Amazing of days
I went outside
And couldn’t see through the haze
When a band of jays
Came to show me the way
They mistook me for a gypsy
And told me to play
But I only knew one song
It was “Tommy Had One Ear”
And I only got done playing
Just in time to meet you here

Oh, Daddy dear, don’t judge me too harsh
I’ve had great adventures
I’ve travelled a marsh
I’ve learned to play music
And heard stories from toads
I’ve eaten with goats
And what I’ve learned was loads!

So I’ll go to school on Monday
I swear it;
You’ll see!
As long as no animals
Are looking at me.

Pizza Menu in Sweden

I'm just sitting here in the old Midwestern Town of Mexico City, enjoying some Pan Pizza and reminiscing about our recent trip to Scandinavia. I took this picture of our menu at a pizza place near Bollnäs, Sweden:

In the last twenty years, the "Pizza Kebob" places have taken over Scandinavia. I read Eat Smart, Norway before I went, and I even went to a presentation by Joan Peterson at the local library. I sampled some lovely food at home here. But that's not what we had while we were actually in Scandinavia. The real food in the backwoods of Norway was a strange conglomeration of random stuff on pizza- from corn to mutton to ranch dressing. There's nothing they won't put on a pizza there. Sweden was pretty much the same. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad food, but I do prefer American Pan Pizza in the United States- like the kind they have here in the Midwestern town of Mexico City.

The ingredients to the "Mexico City" are:

Tomato Sauce
Cheese (no type specified)
Taco Seasoning Mix

Because nothing says "Mexico City" like Mincemeat and Arugula.

A Children's Book

Coming November 25th, just in time for Christmas gifts.

A Murder of Crows and Other Woes:

A rhyming story about a little girl who plays with animals, including (but not limited to) such groups of characters as a wisdom of wombats with crazy blue eyes, a band of jays, a tribe of goats, a tower of giraffes, a knot of toads, and naturally, a murder of crows. In this work I shall explore the realm of the unreliable narrator.

Everything will rhyme, in homage to the Doctor of Seuss and the William of Shakespeare.

(I had an epiphany at 5 AM this morning, where it all became clear. Does that ever happen to you? You just think of something, all in one burst, the second you wake up?)

Good morning!

The grey rabbit is named, "Tree." Tree likes me better than Little Z. I think maybe she's just one if those bunnies who doesn't like children.

Trouble Sleeping? I have the cure.

I made this super boring video of the honey extraction. It has some dishwasher sounds in the background- I advise you put it on "repeat" to fall asleep:

By the way- that extra box that was so full of bees? It had the queen in it! So I put it back on the hive. And then realized I put it in the wrong spot, so I took it off again and re-arranged things, and somehow the bees got into my bee keeping hood, and I got 8-12 stings on my head and neck, and went to the doctor, and now I'm on steroids and I'm not going to be a beekeeper anymore.

The end.

A Box Full of Angry Bees

A bee trap is a wonderful thing. You take it and put it underneath the bee box you want to steal (full of honey), and the bees go down through the hole into the bottom, and they can't get back up. Going down is easy, but coming back, you have created a labyrinth. They can't find their way. So, slowly, your top box empties out of bees. You put it out the day before you want to take the honey. It works like a charm... usually.

Yesterday, we put out the bee traps- I got stung at least three times, and was kind of freaking out, and we were out of smoker fuel when we did this one. Today, I went out to get the honey, and I picked up the box- damn, that's heavy! So full of honey! Except, not. It was full of angry bees! We had put the bee trap in the wrong way, so that once they bees went up into the top box, they couldn't get back down. I therefore had maximum number of angry bees in my box.

Well, at least I had the smoker going. I didn't get stung today.

So, yeah, no honey yet.

I taped two of the traps onto the box, one on each side, facing so that the bees can fly out, now, and can't get back in. The box is separate from the bee hive. I'll go back and pick it up tomorrow. 

Update: a lot of honey, actually, from the other hive:

Guinea Hen

While we were away in Europe, this guinea hen moved into our farm. (We had a local teenager feed everyone while we were gone. She says it showed up Week 2.)

The chickens rejected it, at first, but now they have gotten used to it being around.

I don't know where it came from. I'm hoping it's really a female, because they lay good eggs, I hear.

I take it is a good sign that we are doing things right here at the Hammerdown Manor. I'm pretty sure factory farmers don't get wandering stray birds wanting to come live with them. 

This really is a Guinea hen, right?

Owl Drawing Contest

What do you do when you have no internet, no phone, and you are in a small cabin in the north of Sweden? Well, you have an owl drawing contest, of course. 

In one corner, we have Little Z, with this offering:

And in the other corner, yours truly, with these handsome owls:

The judge, BAH, was clearly biased. He chose hers. Why?

"It has more heart, obviously. And a top hat! It's just clearly the winner. There's no question."


Sign #1

The fourteen year old boy in me thought this was really funny. I know it means, "Speed Bump." Farts Humper????? Ah, Norway. You're a freak of nature but we love you so.

Homemade Watermelon

We haven't had much watermelon in the past, in part due to watermelon thieves. Not only have we been robbed of watermelons in the roadside garden, but the people who lived here before us had teenagers steel their watermelons! Not kale or tomatoes or anything. Just watermelons. We considered doing video surveillance, but that seemed to be too much trouble. The same with a super powerful electric fence. So, this year, I decided to be sneaky. The watermelon garden is hiding behind these tall weeds:

What melons? I only see weeds! Bwa ha ha ha ha.

And so we have delicious melon.