Sunday, September 19, 2010

Unfarm updates, for lack of the writing mood

I have been trying, on and off for the last couple of hours, to come up with some kind of amusing, fascinating, witty couple of paragraphs to post but so far I've come up empty. I've managed to come up with a few sentences on one or two different topics, but I can't seem to complete my thoughts, so rather than wait for perfection and post nothing - yet again - I will instead admit defeat and post a couple random thoughts and observations tied together under the rather vague title of "Unfarm updates, " so here goes.

Updates from the Unfarm:

It's raining. I'll allow you a moment to recover from your shock. All better? Good. As I said, it's raining. And while our garden produced, over the course of the past few months, several very large zucchinis, thirty-one pounds of beans - a mixture of both wax and green beans, a number of delicious ears of white corn (my favorite), dozens and dozens of huge scarlet runner beans (which we didn't eat as they were planted mostly for the flowers to provide food for hummingbirds and bees), a few cucumbers, many delicious basil leaves, and countless flowers; it has not, unfortunately, managed to produce the bumper crop of tomatoes that we were hoping for. I should clarify. We planted several tomato plants - a mix of romas, cherries, and heirlooms - that produced tons of tomatoes, all of which are now... green. We neither eat nor particularly like green tomatoes but it appears that we are going to be stuck with pounds and pounds of them. The rather slow start to the summer and the less than hot temperatures have resulted in a glut of green tomatoes all over the northwest and put a damper on our plans for making bruschetta and margherita pizza using tomatoes from our garden. We may try out a few recipes using the green tomatoes, or we may try to ripen the tomatoes using the technique my great-grandmother used to use: place the tomatoes into boxes in a single layer and store them under our beds. I'm not entirely sure on the reasoning behind storing them under beds, but I think it had something to do with finding a cool, dark place to ripen the tomatoes combined with the lack of storage options that occurs when two families (six people total) live in a small house with only three bedrooms. Our house is considerably larger, but even so, with the amount of tomatoes we have on our plants I suspect that we'll have boxes of tomatoes under all of the beds as well as the living room couch, the computer desk, our grandmother's armchair and anything and everything that we can stuff tomatoes under.

In addition to preventing the tomatoes from ripening, the rainy weather also means that the rabbits are stuck indoors again all day. Last winter, this was hardly worth concerning myself over but the addition of a new rabbit has, predictably, complicated matters. The old routine was for the rabbits to get time out of their cages every evening: TJ would get the first hour and a half out, then he would go back in and Suki and Jojo would be given their 90 minutes of free time. TJ and Jojo remain on less than friendly terms but have at least become accustomed to one another and, for the most part, tend to ignore each other when one or the other of them are hopping around the room. The novelty with Clover, however, has yet to wear off and rather than spend their free time doing binkies they tend to spend it fighting and scrabbling at each other through the cage bars. This is problematic for two reasons: first, it reduces the chance that the rabbits will eventually bond with each other, and secondly, this territorial behavior is often accompanied by territory marking (read peeing or leaving bunny berries on the carpet.) So the addition of one new rabbit has created a huge logistical problem if I am to keep all the rabbits apart from each other while still giving them the much needed chance to stretch their legs. At the moment I have a wire gate separating TJ from Suki and Jojo, while still giving Suki and Jo access to their cage (and, more importantly, their litter box.) TJ, who is the best behaved of all my bunnies, is allowed free access to the room, including under my art table – a privilege not usually given to the rabbits as they have too much opportunity to get into trouble under there – but, because the ducks have their bedtime set-up in front of TJ's cage, he cannot get into his cage, so his litter box has been brought out into the room. Suki and Jojo, meanwhile, are hopping up and down the hall to get their exercise, but they are not allowed into the living room (too many cords attached to expensive objects to give the bunnies free range, especially as they have already demonstrated their willingness to chew through any and every electrical cord they can get their teeth on) so I have put up an old mirror at the end of the hall to block them from accessing the living room. The reason I am using a mirror and not, say, a gate, is because the gate also succumbs to bunny teeth – I have set up the gate a couple of times only to come back five minutes later and discover the bunny where he shouldn't be, and a suspiciously bunny-sized hole in the gate that wasn't there five minutes ago.

Speaking of Clover, after having lived here for over a month now he is proving to clean up quite nicely. He has put on weight and his coat is 100% better than it was when I first found him struggling to survive starvation and coyotes in the small patch of woods at the end of the street. He is becoming quite a handsome rabbit, sleek and healthy. I will have to try to get a good picture of him to add to the blog now that he has become a permanent resident of the Unfarm.

Life has not been as smooth for another Unfarm resident. My brother has come down with a case of digestive upset. It could be giardia from drinking stream water while backpacking, but on the other hand, it could also be a particularly nasty case of Karma. The same brother that is recovering from a bout of explosive ---------- (illness specifics will be withheld to protect some of my brother's dignity, not that he ever actually reads this blog – supportive fellow that he is) promised me that we would go camping this summer but never seemed to be able to find the time to actually go. It is now mid September, mere days away from the official start of Autumn, and I have given up on us going camping this year. The karmic retribution comes in because just last week my brother was able to find the time to go off backpacking with some friends of his. He was to leave on Wednesday and return four days later on Sunday. “But,” he said, “maybe we could go camping next Tuesday and Wednesday, if I don't have too much work to do.” Come Sunday evening I received a text from him stating that he was going to stay out longer with his friends and that he would be home on Wednesday. While my brother never can seem to find time to go camping with me, as soon as his friends want to do something his schedule miraculously clears up. Amazing how that works. Needless to say, I do not feel the least bit sorry for him.

I can, however, sympathize with our chicken, Penny. It rained all day today and the sun never could manage to break through the heavy cloud bank that blanketed the sky from one horizon to the other. And while the ducks can't understand why anyone would ever want any weather than this – I mean, water actually falling from the sky, and it's everywhere! – the chickens are miserable. They spent a large part of their day standing around under the redwood trying to stay dry, hoping that perhaps, if they were lucky and Maggie wasn't around, the squirrels would drop some of their food down on the ground for them to break up the monotony of the day with. But by 6:30 Penny was already settled into the coop for the night, a good hour before dark. I don't blame her. She probably decided that it had been terrible weather all day and it wasn't going to change any time soon so she might as well go to sleep until morning... or May... whenever the weather improves. I'm tempted to follow suit and head off to bed to hibernate until spring. Unfortunately, school begins – for yet another year – for me on Tuesday. Microbiology and Deciduous Plant Materials, so hibernation isn't really an option at this point. Although, with five hours of Deciduous Plant Materials, from 8am to 1pm every Wednesday, it is a very good possibility that there will yet be some napping in my future.

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