Monthly Archives: August 2007

Looks like..

Jeffrey just may have a job with the state, tutoring folks. I don’t know the details yet. A part time job would work out fine. Most importantly, it would give us some additional cash to do some of the projects around the place. For one, we need a real fenced in area for the goats, with a new goat shed. We need real living quarters for us, complete with a driveway.

And my thinking now, is to build a yurt. I’ve wanted one for a long time. I’d like a solid wall style. Plans from the Yurt Foundation are inexpensive. So I think I’ll get those soon and start to gather more building supplies. We’ll finish the porch on the trailer for now.

Technology at arm’s length

We’ve been using technology at arm’s length a bit this year, sort of like the Amish. I thought I’d let you know how it’s going.

Phones: We don’t have a phone line. Cell phones die about five miles from our place. This means I’m not on the on call rotation at work. It also means that I usually have to get in the car and drive a bit to call in sick. That’s the down side. The rest is all to the good. I talk on the phone all day long, so I have no desire to talk to anyone on the phone at night. I write letters, yes real letters, to my aunt. I do communicate with some folks by email. Most of the calls we had at the old place were junk away and I hated even dealing with the answering machine. I have a prepaid cell phone that I carry with me, but seldom use. Too many people are spending their time with a phone glued to their ear. It’s a real time waster.

Television: The tv died before we moved and we didn’t replace it. We’d have to have satellite but there’s just no need. Everyone always tries to point out the good things about tv. The truth is that we mostly watch junk. We are encouraged to eat things we don’t want, buy things we don’t need and to go against our raising. I’ve spent more than my fair share of time watching “What Not to Wear”. I just don’t miss it that much. The best memories we have seem to be of listening to radio shows at a friend’s off grid cabin. We can make those kind of memories on our own. Besides, Jeffrey can always go over to our friend’s place if he wants to watch NASCAR. It’s a lot more fun that way.

Refrigeration: We bought ice last year. This year, we have access to a refrigerator, where we make our own ice. We can use the freezer to put a few things away for later in the week. It’s not at our place but is a few miles down the road. It’s been a big help this year. I’d still like to get an ice house and root cellar built. Maybe we’ll manage that next year. We’ve been charging our battery at the same place, which means that we don’t have to run the generator as often.

Water: Hauling water is a major hassle and takes up a lot of Jeffrey’s time. We think we’ve figured out a place to put in the garden next year, that will let us tap into the small spring we have on the place. And we’d like to build up near that spot anyway. In the fall, there’s enough rainfall to water the animals and use for baths. People really don’t appreciate how nice it is to have running water.

Farm Work

I didn’t really intend for this to become a goat blog. So I’ll post today about what I always think about this time of year: farm work. I’ve done both farm work and office work. I can tell you that farm work is far more satisfying. It’s hard physically. But there is a rhythm to it. Things get done and are finished. You can see results. This time of year, pears would be starting up. We’d be doing bartletts. Packing pears is a strange art. You wrap pears in special paper and arrange them in a box based on size and weight. You need to be within two pounds of the correct weight or you get your box back and repack. You are paid by the box, so this matters. Pears with a lot of sugar weigh more so you have to compesate. You move on to anjous, which are the main pear crop. Sometimes you get something like forelles or seckels. Seckels are tiny. You can do 2 or 3 hundred in a box.

I’ve also picked apples so this would be thinning time. You’d go out and thin the apples to space them a bit. In a few weeks, you’d start to pick. You are paid by the bin, so you can work as hard or slow as you want. You learn to pace yourself. You’re out in the trees so there is some shade. If it rains, you don’t pick because the ladders are too slippery. Winter/early spring is pruning time. In the pear packing world, you do repacks, where you go through unsold boxes, pull out the bad ones and repack them with additional fruit. There are always breaks in the season, where you are on unemployment for a bit.

It’s so different from working in an office. You get to be outside, in the weather. You get to see things. No one is looking over your shoulder. You just do your job. You don’t have to learn something new every 20 minutes. Pear packing today is the same way it was in the 40s. Same thing with picking apples. The downside is that it gets harder when you get older. I stopped packing pears because my left thumb joint was starting to go. It’s common to have surgery on that joint. You slam pears into it all day and it breaks down. Still have arthritis in it.

There’s a big pear crop this year and the plant is just across the river from my current job. There are some mornings that I want to just drive to work there and see if my body can still take it. I can’t, of course. I’ve got a land payment to make that I can barely afford with my tech job. But I would love to sink back into that rhythm again.


This is Laverne.
She is our latest goat. She is eight years old. She looks like she has been photoshopped and stretched. I think she is about six inches in width. Anyway, she was free, so we thought we would see if we could get a few kids from her before she passes on. She is a Toggenburg/Nubian cross, but looks Nubian to me. We thought she might be well behaved, but she wound up on the rope due to some mishaps yesterday. I think I am going to need a coat for her as she seemed cold this morning. She is reported to be a good milker and usually has triplets. She seems happy with the amount of browse we have, as she came from the east side where it was pretty slim pickins’. She sort of reminds me of Granny Clampett.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the same day I posted this picture, Laverne came down with pneumonia. We had to put her down the next day.