Sunday, July 20, 2014

picking up steam

The entire family crew was on hand for today's barn assault, plus my ever-patient parents. 

This made all the difference in the world. We morphed into two work crews, both of which have more than a passing acquaintance at this point with the ins and outs of vinyl siding installation.*

One crew specialized in attaching the siding, while the other crew worked ahead to mount the J-channel at all critical points, sometimes using the truck bed as a ladder. Don't report us to OSHA.

As we have learned, and I will happily share with you in case you ever need to know, J-channel is the magical piece that holds the siding in place on the sides, top, and bottom of your building. We could write a manual at this point, which would maybe even be better than the manual than we have, written as it is in Comic Sans. No apologies for my font snobbery. 

We were lucky to have a detail that specialized in work crew rehydration.

Dusty was, as usual, resigned.

By the end of the day: one side of the barn, FINISHED!!! OK, so it is the shortest side height-wise, but it is the longest width-wise. The photo includes a bit of the unfinished side to show how great it looks. We were joking that we should have chosen a dramatically different color so the transformation would be a little more obvious to other people, but we know.

Even better than one side of the barn done, was the the fact that we made great progress on another side of the barn!

The door is the only bit left on the bottom to put siding on; it already has the PVC framing and a brand new window, with screens, in place. Best Christmas present ever, especially because it came with the labor and know-how to mount it in place. Thanks Mom and Dad!!!

None of us is looking forward to working on the part above this section, however, which extends up to a twenty-foot peak.

*Nina, you were correct. The siding is vinyl. Just the framing boards (the white in the pictures) are made of PVC. Thanks for the catch.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

the boys are back

Our final long trek this week, up to the northwestern corner of New Jersey to pick up our two boys from camp, plus two other 4-H boys.

The return trip was quite a pungent one. Partially because it had rained early in the week and the wet clothes marinated at the bottom of plastic laundry bags for the entire week. Partially because although they swear they took showers all week, they neither looked nor smelled like they had any encounters with running water or soap since the last time we had seen them.

The camp theme this week was pirates. All of the kids in our car declared it to have been "the best camp week ever."

This was Secondo's seventh year in a row at this camp, so I guess he is pretty qualified to make that judgment.

All four boys who rode in our car are in this picture. (Hint: Terzo is in the top left.) And yes, that boy (one of our car contingent) wore that boot the entire week of camp. The boot now needs to be burned.

As for the socks? Those of you who bet that Terzo wouldn't even sully four pairs: you win.

Friday, July 18, 2014

side of a barn

Work on the barn proceeds. The crew yesterday was composed solely of my dad and me; Primo had a date and the younger two are still at camp. I was a tad skeptical about our ability to get much done since I wasn't sure I could heft the nail gun and use it with any sort of accuracy.

Turns out: I can. The side of a barn is, as rumored, fairly easy to hit.

We made decent progress, too. I neglected to get a "before" picture, but our completed section ran from just before the window to, as you can see, almost to the end of it. It's looking very sharp so far!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

major accomplishments

Feeling a bit better because there has been progress around here. Bills are paid (and a credit card theft discovered in the process). Legal work is being done (though much more needs to get done). Barns are being sided (more on that tomorrow). No knitting, and as a matter of fact, a submission deadline missed, but I can live with that because I need to get on top of what I already have, not make more work for myself.

Best of all: lambs are being weaned.

I really do hate this process. HATE IT. Through the fine art of procrastination, I gave them every opportunity to do it on their own. They are four months old at this point! The ewes should have mostly taken care of it themselves. But our ewes are really devoted mothers, which is a double-edged sword. Their degree of attentiveness to their lambs makes a big difference in early lamb survival and growth, but weaning is a PITA as a result. County fair is less than three weeks away, however, and those udders need to be mostly gone and the lambs used to being on their own.

We have found it is least stressful for the lambs to pull the moms out and leave the lambs with the rest of the flock. The hollering began as soon as the moms were led away and has been sustained, at varying decibels, for the last 36 hours. They cannot see each other, but they can certainly hear each other.

The dialogue goes like this:

(bass voice from the ewe pasture): "BAAAAAAAAAA."

(answering chorus of two from the back pasture): "mmmmaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!"

Then a different bass voice from the ewe pasture.... answered by a different twin chorus from the back... and so on and so forth. So loud, that though we are enjoying unseasonably low humidity and temperatures, we couldn't leave our windows open last night because we wouldn't have been able to sleep in peace.

Don't feel too bad. The lambs are doing fine.

And the ewes are too, though they won't admit it because they are pretty mad at us at the moment.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

well, there's that at least

Is it ever possible to sustain an extended period of mega-productivity? My experience tends toward more of a cyclical pattern. I can be super-productive for a few days at a stretch, then I tend to collapse. I need to find that middle ground, where I can have a decent level of getting-things-done-edness on a daily basis, without driving myself into wrack and ruin. I have been this way since college though, so maybe my body is too used to this pattern.

With the younger two boys away  for the week, I was all geared up for maximum productiveness. Lists as long as my arm abound, completely necessary because I am so far behind in everything these days. Yesterday was eaten up by the drop off and all kinds of traffic to and from camp. It also included a wonderful lunch with a dear friend, a drive-by past our former house, and a really lovely travel companion with plenty of thoughtful talk, so it wasn't all bad, but it was definitely all gone.

Today was going to be my day.

Except today I woke up with a monster headache that refused to relent. After staring in a stupor at my lists for the better part of two hours, I gave up and went back to bed. The headache was finally gone when I woke up, but then again, so was most of the day. I did manage to finish up the last four flats of blueberry freezing, in the nick of time, as there was already a little mold and deflated blueberries to sort through.

On days that not one blasted thing gets crossed of my to-do list, it is often a comfort to think of one thing that I did get done. Like the blueberries being done. Well, there's that at least, I find myself thinking. Something was accomplished.

Maybe the problem is failing to take the time to pause a little bit here and there on a daily basis instead of plowing on through. Tonight the rain is falling gently, a nice contrast to the torrential downpours of the last 24 hours, and the frogs are singing. Peaceful, restorative sounds. Well, there's that at least.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

camp supplies

One of those weekends... Lots done but definitely too much scheduled. The list included two minor league baseball games, working our tails off on the barn project, food for church coffee hour, a backyard wedding and barbeque (which featured some of the best food we have eaten in a while, our own recent event included) and tonight, the grand finale:

Packing two boys for summer camp.

Me, at Walmart buying supplies this morning: "Ok, here is bug repellent, little tubes of toothpaste, body wash, and new underwear for both of you. What else do you need?"

Secondo: "I don't need underwear!! I have plenty of underwear!! Put that back, I don't want it."

Terzo: "Nothing. There is absolutely nothing else that I need."

[insert work on the barn, backyard wedding, blueberry washing, and laundry here]

Me, 7 pm: "Are you all packed? Where are the rest of your socks? Four pairs isn't enough."

Terzo: "That's all I have! It's enough for a week though. Plus I told you that I was out of socks. Remember, when I was in school and it was time for the play, I told you I needed more socks?"

Me: [don't trust myself to say anything, head out for socks]

[insert more laundry, more blueberry washing, and cleaning the rabbit's basement pen here]

Me, 9 pm: "OK, that should be it apart from the new socks in the dryer. Do you have everything packed?"

Secondo: "Well, I can't find enough pairs of underwear..."

Super moon over left field

Friday, July 11, 2014

a little bit blue

It was past time for the blueberry run. Our frozen blueberry supply almost made it the whole year, but the freezer ran dry two weeks ago.

Problem was finding a block of time to do it. I was starting to worry the blueberries would be all gone before I found a pocket of time to get down there.

I needn't have worried. Plenty of berries to go around.

Blueberries as far as the eye could see. 

The twenty-two flats I picked up—only 9.5 for us—didn't made a dent in the supply.

But no boys with me today, for the first time ever. Girlfriend, work, promise of pool time, in that order, were more important. I didn't even have my trusty green truck to go with me. It was busy picking up siding for the barn, so I took my dad's little Ranger instead. The traditional twist from the White Dotte Dairy Bar didn't taste quite the same in everyone's absence.

Secondo did want to come with me, desperately, but he has so many demands on his time these days that we couldn't find a slot. He was the first one to polish off the ceremonial first pint, however, as soon as I picked him up from work.

Now to find the time to wash and freeze 9.5 flats of blueberries.