Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Portia's Tale

So Portia, our oldest hen and Hen-In-Chief Ellen's best friend, has been ill for a couple of weeks now. She's been losing weight, and yesterday I noticed her comb was pale instead of the nice, healthy red it should be. I was not sure whether to ascribe her condition to just old age or something else, and so I decided to attempt a treatment program.

So today I went to the farm supply store to get some tetracycline, in case there was a possibility she had some kind of bacterial infection.  I'm not generally a go-to antibiotic kind of gal, but since Portia no longer lays and is looking so sick, I figured it couldn't hurt anything.

When I got home I was getting ready to quarantine her with her antibiotic water when she squatted in front of me and took a good sized poop.  As any animal owner can tell you, this is a boon when it happens because it allows you to examine their feces and see if it can provide any clues to illness.  While I do check the flock's droppings regularly, I am never sure whose is whose, so this was worth of getting out the magnifying glass and doing a close exam on. (Mark this #789 in the file of things this former city girl would never thought she'd be doing -- pulling apart chicken feces with a stick and feeling appreciative of the chicken who provided it).

What I saw shocked me.  Portia has roundworms -- quite a lot of them -- which I have never seen in any of the other chickens.  But when one member of the flock carries a parasite, it's a good bet the rest of them do as well, and so this afternoon I started treating the whole flock with Wazine.  This means I will have to discard all their eggs for a couple of weeks, which won't be fun.  And then in 21 days I get to treat them again and go through the same process.

I have to take responsibility for this, as a failure of awareness on my part.  It's recommended you worm your flock every six months or so, but since everyone looked and seemed healthy I have put it off for about 18 months.  Yet I should have begun thinking of the possibility of worms as soon as Portia began to look sickly. That was an oversight on my part, and I regret it. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that, at the time of this writing, she is still alive and has a fighting chance of recovering once her parasite issue is resolved, which it should be, in about 24 hours.

But I say today to my fellow chicken owners, worm at least once a year.  While you can probably never keep free-range birds completely parasite-free, it's important to keep their loads low enough that it does not affect their health. And if you have even a single bird that looks sickly, consider worms before anything else, even if the rest of the flock is asymptomatic.

Oh, and if you keep dogs alongside your chickens, you will need to worm them as well, since roundworms are found in both dogs and chickens and cross-species infection is possible.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Getting old sucks, there is no question about it. I am never one to mince words here, and so I'm telling this to you today in the spirit of 100 percent honesty.

One of the biggest problems is that older Americans are less relevant, in general, than ever before. I don't know how it is for other middle-aged folks but for me it's the single hardest thing to deal with about growing older.  Our culture is not one that venerates the wise elders as leaders and advice-givers. Instead, we smile indulgently at them and talk about how nice they are. Seniors, have, truly, becomes a second type of child in our society.

I can see it in how my best friend and I talk about our 80-something mothers. At their age, they are often opinionated without knowledge, stubborn without reason, and difficult because they will not listen to modern ideas that could make their lives better.  They can be hard to manage, and hard to help. In many ways, they remind us of our children when they were little.  And so the idea that they are really just big children emerges, not without reason.

But if you're in middle age, eventually you come to the realization that, like it or not, you are on the same road that your parents are.  And your ultimate destiny is either to be a pain the ass or become cute.  Maybe both.

For instance, there was an older gentleman (probably late seventies/early eighties) in the winery the other day, dropping off a product he was selling.  He had his own, homemade receipts, and kind of fumbled around trying to get his materials and invoice together. We were very busy, and so while he was poking around in his box looking for his paperwork, I was glancing anxiously back to the bar and the customers seated outside.

And after he left, we were talking about him behind the bar. "Did you see that old man today, dropping off his stuff and giving us his little invoice?  He was just so sweet."

"I know," the other gal behind the bar with me said, "so cute."

Yes, the older you get, the more you get relegated to The Cute Zone, along with toddlers, kittens and internet videos of goats climbing on stuff. A lifetime of bruising experience, real world crisis management and raising the next generation to responsible adulthood, and the result is becoming just ... darling!

It's maddening, except of course that to some extent, it is absolutely appropriate and correct.  

And here's why it makes sense: When you are in your 30's, you are absolutely essential to your children's lives, and probably equally as essential in the workplace.  Were you to depart at this time, the ripples in your part of the world would be significant and long-lasting. There are many people who would, literally, never get over it. Should you die before your parents or while your children are little, that is absolutely 1000 percent true.

That kind of importance declines on a kind of slow, sliding scale until, let's say, you are 70.  At age 70 our children may love us, but odds are we are no longer essential in their lives.  We are probably no longer essential in the workplace either, having either already retired or getting ready to.  So our true career days are over. Our grandchildren probably love us, but they don't really need us the way they need their parents.

And this is exactly the way Mother Nature designed it.  About the time you are at an age to sign out and move on to Whatever's Next, your presence is no longer essential here. It kind of works.

And so from now (sometime between 50 and 70, depending on your stage of life) until the time they call your name to cross the river between the worlds, well, now you are in the process of becoming cute. And sweet, and stubborn, in the same way a toddler can be sometimes. And a little behind the times, but charmingly so.  In short, irrelevant.

I guess what I never knew when I was younger is that the people in the process of becoming irrelevant are acutely aware of it.  I'm 53 and I can see it quite clearly. Not all of us can.  There's a guy (quite a bit older than me) in our local paper, who writes a weekly opinion column that usually has something to do with "the way things were," never realizing that the next generation tires of this kind of talk quite easily. Oh sure, we might enjoy hearing about the heyday of Hollywood or the price of gas in 1955 -- for about five minutes.  But what was an interesting, fascinating and memorable era in his life is just a story for us. The past is a place we like to take a quick peek at, but have no interest in hearing a play-by-play repeat of (unlike, often, the person telling the story).

I used to lament that my generation had little access to our great-grandmother's homesteading skills, but I was wrong.  With the advent of the internet, a whole new generation is becoming competent in canning, farming with horses, growing food from seeds and making medicinals from wild plants and herbs.  Those skills may not be common in society, but those skills will carry on thanks to a few young people who've mastered them. That's good news, because someday, they may all become essential skills again, and it's nice to know they will abide over time. The human race, may literally, depend on it someday if things continue along the path they are.

But this new generation's competence in the "old" ways also proves, more than anything, that the former generation is somewhat disposable, and that can life go on successfully without your grandparents, then without your parents, and eventually, without you. But before you go, if you are relatively healthy, your life does go on awhile -- in cuteness rather than importance; at a charmingly (or annoyingly) slower pace than the rest of society, and in memories more in the distant past than the recent one.

So stay tuned, folks, because in the next 20 years, I have a feeling this blog is going to damned...CUTE! But one thing I promise you ... while I may still offer tips on canning and growing food, I will try and refrain from waxing nostalgic over the price of gas in the 1970's. (Which was $.65 a gallon, in case anyone cares.  Which they really don't.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sleep, creep, leap

The front yard has never looked better, and so I thought I'd take a little "after" picture and compare it to the "before" pic, taken after we'd first finished landscaping.  The first pic was taken Spring 2013, and the most recent one was taken today, almost exactly two years later.

It's amazing how fast shrubs grow.  The trees are still on the small side, but now that they have spent a couple of years putting down roots, will probably start growing in height very soon.  How does the saying about tree growth go?  "Year One, trees sleep. Year Two, they creep.  Year Three, they leap."  This next year should be a "Leap Year," I hope so anyway. But no matter what, it is nice to see some greenery and growth when we look out our front windows.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dali Butterfly

For some reason this butterfly I saw today reminded me a little of Salvador Dali's "Persistence of Memory."  Maybe it was just the similarity of color tone or the little circular shapes on the wings and their blue-ish tinge sort of resembling the watches in the Dali piece, but I thought he was beautiful. And since the Dali piece is one of my favorites, I was suitably impressed with his rendition.

Buddha in the land, crops in the ground.

It's been a weird weather year; I think most of us citizens of Planet Earth can agree on that much, if nothing else.  Here on the Central Coast, it feels almost like the end of spring already.  We had our first 90 degree day last week and the hills are still green but have a brownish cast to them now, as no rain and hot weather has put an end to new growth. It's sad,  but there's not much I can do about it so it's just something to accept.  Very Buddhist of me, I know.

But with this very warm weather, I'm wondering whether to push up the schedule for spring planting. The lesson I learned the hard way in years past is to never plant much outside before Mother's Day, as both crazy late freezes and punishing winds can destroy tender plants before that date.  

But things seem to be very mild, and so I'm mulling over what to do...take a risk and plant, or wait?

Right now I have a lovely crop of spring lettuce, green onions, and red onions in the ground -- typical winter/spring crops that don't mind the cold or wind.  But I also have cukes and zukes sprouting in the conservatory, and will sprout my tomato seeds tonight. And pumpkins will need planting next week as well.  

And so the endless dilemma....when to plant all these lovelies once they're ready to go outside?

In other news, Big Ag has a week off between jobs and will probably be putting in fence posts in the pasture so we can keep livestock on a rotational-grazing basis.  My only dilemma is that I absolutely love the spring wildflowers, and want to make absolutely sure that we don't graze the land to a point where these beautiful flowers don't come up in spring anymore.  

There is, literally, no property around here that has the wildflowers we do, and so it's a serious concern. I am torn between cute sheep and beautiful wildflowers, and I know which one is native and belongs here.  So the livestock question is still that -- a question -- but fencing is a good investment that does nothing to destroy the seasonal meadow, so we'll get that far and see how we feel.

This stewardship thing sometimes feels like a heavy burden, and I am sure others don't worry about it like I do.  But I feel a deep sense of responsibility to pass this land on, someday, in at least as good condition as we got it in.  Which means spring grasses and wildflowers.  

So I will say what I say about all the potential projects around here we could jump into, which is....we shall see, my friends. But I have to err on the side of compassion, which means having compassion for the natural landscape as much as any animals we could care for. So in my very best Dalai Lama voice, I say, we shall see. 

P.S. We have a landscape designer coming this morning to help us with extending our patio area and removing another good swath of grass, all in the name of water conservation.  I'm excited to see what we can imagine together! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ground Squirrel deterrent

So I think I have mentioned our problems with holes in the lower pasture.  None were worse than the ground squirrel holes, and ground squirrels are the one thing that makes holes which I will not tolerate on the property.  Their holes are large enough to fall into and break an ankle (or leg if you are some kind of livestock). Ground squirrel fleas have also been known to carry both Hanta virus as well as bubonic plague in this state, and since we generally like to avoid both those things, the ground squirrels cannot stay on our property.

But as native and very cute creatures, I have nothing personal against ground squirrels, and so removing them from our property created a conundrum.  I did not want to kill them if at all possible, I just wanted them to relocate.  But since it's spring, I was afraid the squirrels would be breeding soon, and so I needed a solution sooner rather than later.

Squirrel trapping is a rather intense activity, if you are trying to keep the squirrel alive.  You need to check the trap several times daily and prepare to relocate the animal to a good area as soon as you find one inside your trap. So for awhile instead of trapping them and being tied down to Squirrel Watch for several days, I instead just tried filling in their holes as they created them, but they just dug them out again the minute I went back up to the house.

Until I filled the holes with used kitty litter.

I am not sure how I came up with this idea, but my general thought is that perhaps the waste product of a predator might cause the squirrels to avoid the holes they'd dug, if I filled them with enough litter.  Plus the clumping clay is highly scented, and forms a pretty gooey ball once moisture hits it.  And there's no question that when it's been used, it smells pretty bad.

And so I tried it.  Within a week the eight holes I had went down to two...then one....and now they are completely gone.

Meet solution.
If you have good drinking water close to the surface, you might not want to do this due to the possible spread of toxoplasmosis, which cats are sometimes known to carry, but with our own water table several hundred feet below the surface, I feel safe in doing this.

The nicest thing is that I have not harmed the squirrels in any way, just pooped up their home, and redirected them to the unfenced and unowned land across the street to do their squirrely business.

And if they come back, as long as I have an indoor cat, I have a solution.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Proposition Two: Bucks for Clucks

I've recently had several friends inquire about buying my eggs.  I use most of my eggs but am happy to give them away whenever I have a spare dozen, which does happen occasionally.

But I found out that the recent rash of inquiries has come about due to the fact that the price of eggs has skyrocketed, due to the implementation of California's Proposition Two.  In case you are not familiar with the jist of Proposition Two, here is a brief description I pulled from a political website:

Proposition 2 created a new state statute that prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. The law is set to go into full effect on January 1, 2015.

 So apparently the cost of eggs went up dramatically as California began to implement the conditions set forth in Proposition Two, specifically as it refers to chickens.  With out-of-state chicken farms no longer allowed to sell eggs in California unless they adhere to Prop Two's standards, and with California-based egg producers having to create larger cage areas for their own hens, egg prices rose accordingly.

But for me, if I didn't own a single hen and had to pay for all my eggs, I think the price would be worth it.  After watching my chickens in their roost, their coop and their run, I have to say that chickens are social creatures who are happier (I know, value judgement) with room to move.

This morning, for instance, I noticed all the hens grouped together in one corner of their run, watching something intently.  When I went outside to see what all the fuss was, they were all out there gawking at a California Quail, who was sitting on a fence nearby and issuing a loud mating call to the lady quails in the brush.  

At other times, if I am working in my garden while they are free-ranging, they will inevitably find their way over to where I am to see what I am doing. When allowed to do so, they will range over our entire property, scratching, eating greens and digging for insects.  In short, hens are creatures that like to inquire, explore and roam. 

And so it would make sense that Proposition Two is an important first step in assuring the creatures we keep for food are given at least the bare essentials that would make them comfortable.

It also goes without saying that the less confined the quarters for chickens, the less diseases can spread. Which is good for us as well as the hens.

While nothing will ever be as good as an egg from a free-range hen, with its bright white and deep orange yolk, at least consumers can now buy a dozen eggs knowing the hen who laid it at least has enough room to stand up, turn around, and stretch her legs.  That, in my opinion, is worth paying a little more for.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

No princesses here

Disney Princesses. Just shoot me now.

If you want to separate the princesses from the Cinderellas, or the girls from the women, the homestead is an excellent place to do it. For some reason, this week has had me thinking a lot about the women's liberation movement and whether or not it is DOA -- Dead On Arrival -- due to the persistence of princesses in our world.

This last week featured a lot of princesses in my life.  I have a friend whose 4 year-old daughter is positively obsessed with being a princess in every way (and she is encouraged by mom, believe me). I had a coworker give me a scene-by-scene description of the movie "Frozen," (featuring princesses, once again) because I asked him what it was about.  

And I saw Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams' video for their "Blurred Lines"song.

You are probably asking 1) how the video, which features three naked women fawning over and being fawned over by Williams and Thicke, is about princesses, and 2) how in the hell all this relates to homesteading.

Just stay with me.

It all ties in, you see, because the idea behind the women's liberation movement is the concept of not being a princess -- not waiting and hoping your prince will notice you and deem you worthy to be with him.  Both the women's liberation and the homesteading movements are, believe it or not, about BEING CINDERELLA (not the princess, but the girl in dirty clothes tending the coal fire) and becoming empowered to be self-sufficient and using your skills to support yourself and/or care for your family.

Could you shoot me again, if you haven't already?

Cinderella was a homesteader, even though her sisters were wanna-be princesses -- the same kind that are in the "Blurred Lines" video -- pouting, strutting, preening, all in the hopes of being noticed by some important guy (except of course, that Cindi's sisters were allowed to have clothes). Cinderella was the one who made everything happen.  She was the one who kept the fire going, cooked dinner, cleaned up and probably took care of the vegetable garden and bartering for goods in the town square.

In short, Cinderella rocked.  Until she became a princess, of course, at which point I'm sure her days were filled with pedicures, pretty dresses and parties.  Or naked music videos. Who knows? 

When the women's liberation movement began in earnest, we were all pretty committed about the idea of not being princesses -- not waiting around for Prince Charming to complete us and take us off to his castle, where we'd be waited on hand and foot forever.  We wanted to do things ourselves. We toted the 5-gallon water bottle to the water cooler in the office ourselves, instead of asking one of the guys to do it for us.  We fixed our own plumbing.  We opened our own doors, unless we were carrying something heavy.

And when the back-to-the-land movement hit full stride, we got out there and planted, weeded and harvested along with the guys. (Plus then spent days in the kitchen preserving it all --usually sans guys.)

So you would think that this next generation of women would be even more bad-ass than we were.  But many, many aren't. Instead, they are shedding their clothes in music videos, hoping to be noticed by the Important Pop Stars.  Or they are living on their own, but they are crying crisis and drama at every turn, hoping someone will rescue them financially or in other ways.  Or they are teaching their daughters to dress in pink and never get dirty. It makes me angry, because all women -- especially those that will come after us -- pay the price when this becomes acceptable. We are not taken as seriously, not paid as well, and not respected as we should be.

And you can't blame an old crone like me for wondering what in the hell happened. Was being a princess just easier?  Is being a drama queen more profitable than pulling your own freight? 

Real woman, real work. A No-Princess Zone.
It's OK for any woman (or any man for that matter) to want to feel beautiful or glamorous sometimes.  And it's OK to sometimes accept that we may not be able to do some of the heavy lifting our male counterparts do. But maybe Cinderella would be wise to re-evaluate putting on that glass slipper because, let's face it, it's damn hard to work in the garden or the kitchen or be an asphalt laborer, a doctor, or anything else that makes a difference in the world  wearing that kind of footwear.

If before I reach Great Age, I could see a world with more empowered, active Cinderelles and less princesses, it would make me so happy.  Can we all just be the bad-ass women we are capable of, instead of drama-seeking, strutting, pink princesses? Please?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


So with the days of full spring upon us, it's gotten quite busy around here recently. The spate of 80 degree temperatures has meant that I need to be watering more.  I have snow pea and spinach seedlings starting. And before long, I will be sprouting tomato, pumpkin, squash and cucumber seeds to go into the ground in another month or so.

Where did winter go?  I don't know, but I do know we see a lot less of her these days, while my friends in the midwest and east can't seem to get free of her icy grip.

But anyway, all this busy-ness has led me to appreciate the few unbracketed days I have.  What are those, you ask?  (It's nothing to do with basketball's March Madness brackets). For me, it works like this: Anytime I have a commitment of some sort I must keep on any given day, it creates a little bracket within that day.  For instance, it can be for something fun: if we're meeting for lunch at noon, I probably bracket a little time in the morning to get ready, time to drive into town, and a couple of hours for us to chat and eat our lunch.  For my work days, if I have a meeting at the winery at 10 a.m.,  I bracket that time out and don't schedule anything else until whenever I estimate the meeting will be over. So anything extra I'd like to do needs to get fit into the time on either side of whatever's bracketed for that day.

No space in between the brackets.

But I think the key to sanity in this modern world of ours is to have at least one or two unbracketed days a week, to do with as you please.  It doesn't necessarily mean a non-work day (although it can and sometimes should be) but it does mean that you are free to schedule your day as you please, with no hard-standing commitments you have to work around.  

I think everyone needs to have the basic right to not have to be anywhere for 24 hours or so, on a regular basis.  In this culture of ours, we love to fill up our downtime -- not just with things we have got to do, like get our teeth cleaned and show up in pick-up lane at our kids school at 3 p.m., but we also love our voluntary activities -- sporting events and concerts, clubs and groups, classes at the gym, etc.  And there is nothing worse than looking at your calendar and finding days upon days upon days which all have something (and sometimes many things) written in the box under each date.  

The opposite problem. Sometimes I fear retirement because of this.

When things gets bad enough, even the things we signed up for and thought would be fun, like a concert or neighborhood party, can begin to feel like one more thing you have to show up for. But a life with no brackets is not good either, because those brackets also  frame another wall -- one around our free time, and free time never feels better than when it comes between two busy times.

Sometimes I feel like a tightrope walker, attempting to stay in the middle lane between too busy and too aimless (mostly trending towards the former but slowing down more as I age).  So I keep an eye on my brackets but even more, and on the spaces in between them.

Inside the brackets, produce and work. Outside the brackets, I stand, I rest, and I breathe. And I set my sights on the next bracket, and get ready.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The News

So the big news I wanted to share was that Big Ag interviewed for, and got, a position here locally as a vineyard manager.  Finally he will be working and living in the same zip code!  When we moved here in 2012 he decided he wanted to keep his job, which was a 65 mile drive from our home.  For the most part, it worked out well, except on Fridays when the commute home was bogged down by the many tourists coming in to roost on the Central Coast for the weekend, and then it could end up being a two-hour haul stuck in back of a long line of recreational vehicles and people not used to driving through the curvy hillsides.

At the time we moved, we knew it was a sacrifice and one which he cheerfully made, in fact the commute was not why he left his other job.  But it did occasionally make life more difficult for him, such as if he wanted to schedule a dentist appointment on the same day as he was working, or if we had an event to attend here.  But more than anything, he wanted a new challenge, and I think growing grapes is going to provide that, as well as put him in a place with better air, better land and more water.

So starting next month his commute will probably probably 10 miles, tops.  There are several vineyards he will be managing, one of which we can even see from the house.

The thing I am looking forward to the most is having him around more -- to occasionally be able to meet up for lunch or for him to stop in at the winery during the day just to say hello. And of course with losing the 12 hours per week he was driving to and from here and work, he'll be around a lot more anyway, both in the mornings and evenings.

And now we can both say we work in the wine business; he in growing, and me in serving and education!

In other wine news, the other night we watched the documentary, "A Year In Burgundy," and absolutely loved it.  I highly recommend it, served with a nice Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Barn Quilt project is FINISHED!

They got hung up today.  I have enjoyed making them and am still making two more for the winery at some point, but right now it's just time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor, with much thanks to Big Ag and Groceries for hanging them for me.  We had our first 80 degree day today and took full advantage of it. Cant' wait until the beds are all filled with lovely vegetables, right now it's just onions and some lettuce in the bed to the far left. But soon the garden will look as colorful as the wall.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Moving On -- Deliciously

Compared to yesterday, this smells like heaven.

So how do you get the awful smell of burned hard-boiled eggs out of, literally, the entire house?  The answer is lots of window fans and something else in the oven to stink up the joint.

I bought The Jerusalem Cookbook awhile back but had not tried any of the recipes until recently, when I saw it featured on another blog I read.  So now we are living like biblical kings and eating some unbelievably delicious, healthy and, thankfully, highly odorous food.  Yes, the hard-boiled egg smell is gradually being replaced with that of broiled onions and red peppers, feta cheese, and pastry. Yum.

Absolutely delicious: red pepper, onion, feta and egg galettes

It's also feels good to get back into the kitchen and cook again, proving to myself that I don't necessarily destroy things on a regular basis in there.  Sometimes you can really use a victory, and The Jerusalem Cookbook is allowing me to have sequential successes, dinner after dinner.  In related news, today and tomorrow is the holiday of Purim, a very silly and fun day filled with comedy, drinking and great food. And so tomorrow I will be making some special cookies to honor the event.  

Hopefully they will also smell wonderful and I can put the whole egg-burning episode behind me.  The chickens are laying again and so soon we will have a dozen eggs in the fridge, proving that you screw something up and life goes on regardless. Eventually you get back at least some of what was lost. 

I take a fair amount of comfort in that, and in comfort food as well, in whatever culture happens to be serving it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No one was harmed except a dozen eggs.

Remember a few posts ago when I mentioned that someone on another blog said they thought homesteading blogs were boring?  Well, one thing that bears mentioning is that when things do happen around the homestead, they are anything but boring -- at least to the person they are happening to. And some drama could just as easily take place in an urban apartment as on a farm.  Like this morning, for example.

This morning I decided to make Big Ag and Groceries some hard-boiled eggs to take to work with them, since they both mentioned they like them and we have plenty of eggs.  It was a bright, cool, spring morning -- perfect for setting out the lettuce and spinach transplants that were ready to go in the ground, and so I decided to do both at the same time. 

Ya, right. Multitasking is not my cup of tea, and I've certainly proved that once again -- in spades. You'd think that by 53 years of age I'd have figured this out, but apparently not.

So anyway, once I got outside, spring beckoned me down into the pasture, and so I spent some time down there weeding and cutting some grass with a manual hedge-clipper.  Most enjoyable work on a nice day.  Off in the distance I could hear a smoke alarm going off, but we have a neighbor whose alarm will regularly go off if they as much as burn toast, so I thought no more about it.

Nor did I think about it when I passed by our back door and smelled burning....it is spring, after all, which is burn season around here, and so I figured someone was just burning some kind of funky brush down in the hollow.

I was watering the new spinach and lettuce when I had that "OH, SHIT!!!" moment and went sprinting back into the house, with everything suddenly adding up.  Adding up horribly.

And so of course with my entry into the house, I realized that 1) the smoke alarm I'd heard had been ours, and 2) the burning smells likewise also belonged to us.  Oh, also 3), which was that our house was now filled (and I do mean filled) with smoke, the alarms had given up the ghost, and there were burned and exploded eggs splattered throughout the kitchen and into the dining room -- and a burning pot on the stove.

I would blame this on old age except that when I was 30 I once did the same thing with the rubber nipples to my son's baby bottles, which I was sterilizing on the stovetop, when I walked away from it and returned to burned rubber, a ruined pot, and a house filled with the toxic smell of burning rubber (luckily both me and the baby were outside). So clearly I am just the kind of person who needs to set a timer and wear it around my neck or just stand there and watch eggs boil and rubber nipples sterilize. Perhaps I should even take up watching paint dry.  Because you just never know.

Airing out cupboards with a fan.
So right now the fans are going full speed, the windows are all open, and the one thing I'm thankful for is the fact that it's going to be warm today so I can leave the house opened up for the rest of the afternoon.

But it was a reminder that homestead or apartment, suburb or country, some things are universal, like leaving something on the stove.  And as the saying goes that there is no use crying over spilled milk, there's also no use crying over exploding eggs, smoky rooms, or curtains that smell like burned eggs.  

On second thought, maybe those are things worth crying over, or at least feeling a heap of stupid about.