Wednesday, December 16, 2015


One thing about teaching college the way we do it is that the semester comes grinding, shuddering to a halt at the end of the sixteenth week, whether students and professors wish it to or not.

Our jobs currently require our attendance only thirty-two weeks a year, divided into two 15-week semesters, with a week of in-service professional development at the beginning of each. There's the small matter of summer and winter break course prep and research, for which we're evaluated even if not paid. But that's a mild quibble.

I got done with my semester's teaching Monday, and my last meeting yesterday, and, except for student conference, which is more of a pleasure than a chore, my attendance is no longer required at work until January 12th. I have a show-and-tell on solar and wind power at a local grade school Thursday, and then, apart from grading, that's it for the semester. Grading gets done at home, so that doesn't require my presence at school.

Aimee got done teaching yesterday, but may still have a meeting or two.

Now we get to shift gears and adopt a more domestic lifestyle, my favorite kind. The reason we live on a farm is that we like living on a farm. And, thanks to El Nino, there isn't even any snow on the ground. We can still work outside, and even still eat our carrots and parsnips, and leeks straight out of the ground.

About those leeks. We grow a barrow load each year. I love them. They're by far my favorite vegetable to cook. My Welsh granny would be proud.

But they're giving me gas.

Three times now, a meal including leeks has resulted in the worst kind of gassy bloat, with an accompanying case of the runs.

What's a (one-quarter) Welshman to do? I thought about feeding them to the sheep, which would make said sheep very happy. But it occurs to me that there's probably a way to reduce the leeks to soup stock, and then freeze them, and it may be that this process cooks them for long enough to reduce the gas. And even if I can't eat them, Aimee will be able to. She likes my leek-and-barley soup. I also need to pull the carrots and put them in the bottom of the outside fridge, where they'll be good until January at least.

The parsnips can be left in the ground until the thaw. They survive the winter. Once it freezes solid, we won't be able to dig them, but it's nice to have a spring vegetable.

The firewood pile seems likely to last the winter, as does the potato stash in the cellar, but the haystack does not. We've just used too much already. Luckily, this year's hay is good enough that the sheep are eating it more thriftily than in previous years, so it will last longer than it otherwise would have, but we'll still need to get a trailer load or two before the term starts.

We're short on eggs, the chickens having discovered some new hiding place to lay that I have not yet found. The other week I found a clutch of twenty or so in the hay loft. I found them the hard way, in that they were on top of a bale that I couldn't see, and so when I pulled the bale down, the eggs came flying, breaking all but a couple. That was a waste.

Now one chickie at least is laying in the hay crib, which egg duly rolls out while the sheep eat their hay, and I can find it on the ground if I rummage a little in the waste hay stems. But that's only one egg a day, not enough to keep up with breakfast and baking needs, especially when daughter Roo has discovered a liking for cheese omelettes. Something has to give here.

I've conceived a project to make new nesting boxes. Maybe that will entice them to lay eggs where I can find them.

Our baby daughter, to whom this farming life is just a fun opportunity to practice her animal noises on real animals, and to go for short walks with mommy and daddy to feed sheep and chickies and pull carrots and wotnot, is enjoying her first Christmas as a more sentient human being. Last year she was too young, really, to appreciate any of it. This year, she has enjoyed the tree, and even a few Christmas carols and songs.

The tree is a special favorite. Like daddy, she's a sucker for pretty lights. She and I make a ritual of turning them on, and she gets excited and happy and says "twee" contentedly. The carols, well, she just likes a good old sing-song, whether it's a special Christmas song or not.

Our daycare place took Christmas photos of all the kids and posted them on their FaceBook page. Apparently our wee precious was the only one who wouldn't smile for the camera.

As doting parents, we're actually quite proud of this achievement. It shows her already-strong resistance to the overbearing superficiality of today's society.

Besides, mildly quizzical is a much better look for the long term, dontcha think?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Nearly there

We're helping mommy wrap presents and package them for shipping!

This is tricky work. Gotta concentrate.

A little quality time.

Getting ready for the Christmas holiday, Aimee and Roo wrapped and packaged presents for shipping, while I just took photos. For my part, I plan to find a tree today for the presents to go under, and then to decorate it with my kid. She's still too young really, to properly help, but I think she is ready to appreciate the pretty lights and all that good stuff, so this should be fun.

At work, we have only two weeks left of the semester, and the second of those weeks is usually relatively easy. I'm feeling that "over the hump" feeling. 

Rolling down the back side!