As many of you know, there was a total lunar eclipse earlier this month (October 8th, 2014). In my little crevice of the world, it coincided with a planned, controlled burn. I was up early to catch the eclipse, but had to take it in peeks since the smoke from the prescribed burn was thick in the air. The eclipse was awesome! It went from a pretty well lit night (if you make an exception for the forest fire smoke in the air) to total and utter blackness and eventually moonlight again just in time for dawn to put in an appearance. The moon turned red with the eclipse, or was it because of the smoke? I’m not clear on that, but it was a pretty awesome effect since Halloween is right around the corner.
The controlled fire was set just a few miles from my home and since northern NM has a history of prescribed burns going awry, there was some tension in the valley and lots of checking hourly with the official websites. All went well with the fire, which lasted the few expected days and ended with a nice autumn rain. But while waiting that out, the smoke laid heavily here in the valley. We kept doors and windows closed to reduce the burning smoke sensation as much as possible. I have asthma, but I take my daily medication and rarely think of it. Truly, I can go a whole year or more without having to use an emergency inhaler. But this smoke made my lungs work (and burn), so I was using my inhaler proactively (before there was an issue). But that also means, I wasn’t sleeping well as the inhaler medication makes one a bit twitchy.
So, yeah for total lunar eclipse, sadness for the smokey atmosphere.
Have you heard of durian? Have you tried a durian? It is usually a very memorable experience. Durian fruits are popular throughout Asia and come in several varieties. Some people find the smell of taste of durian to be quite enjoyable. However, to many, many others, the smell and taste are disgusting. Yep. Some describe the smell and flavor as deep caramel, roasted almonds, a rich custard. Others (including myself) feel that the taste is closer to sewage, used surgical swabs, or stale vomit.
I first experienced durian in college. I had 2 Chinese housemates and they enjoyed expanding my culinary experience. So we often went to the one Asian market (at the time) that was within 80 miles (Talin in Albuquerque, NM). Durian was just one the things they felt I needed to try. I made the mistake of opening the spiky fruit beast in the kitchen. I immediately had to remove it from the house as it was just to repugnant to my (unrefined) nose. One of my Chinese friends thoroughly enjoyed it, but had to eat it outside.
My parents visited my sister in Seattle over the summer and they went to an Asian market where my parents picked up a durian for M3 and I. Why, you will have to ask them. M3 was pretty excited about the mutant fruit as he had heard so much about it over the years. It appears on one cooking or food show from time to time as it is one of those eatable mysteries. Why do some folks so love the durian while others equate it to the smell of an open landfill?
We took precautions. We had old farm clothes on in case the smell could not be easily removed. We decided to open it outside. Likewise, we put it in a glass bowl (less likely to hold a taint of flavor) and used the 4th best knife to open it. It must have been quite ripe as we could easily smell the faintest durian aroma wafting off of it. As M3 bravely sliced into it, the smell grew. To my surprise, it was not horrendous. It did smell of over ripe fruit, but not completely revolting. Perhaps my parents picked out a mellower variety of durian?
The spike skin of the fruit it thick and the inside is chambered. The meat of the fruit is of a custard consistency and the few seeds are a little smaller than a small apricot. M3 dug into the custardy fruit with a metal spoon. He sniffed at it. Then, he bravely put half a spoonful in his mouth. I swear, if I had not been watching him closely I would not be able to fully appreciate the speed with which the durian was projectile spit from his mouth. Wow! That was a swift decision.
M3 looked like he had been emotionally betrayed by the spiky, evil fruit. ‘Tastes like rotted, fermented onions,’ he said as he wiped his mouth. We should have had the hose ready to go, just in case we needed to power wash someone’s mouth.
M3 was kind enough to dig the durian seeds out for me and set them to dry. Because, obviously, the world needs more durian. Then we took the vile thing to the chickens. Supposedly, chickens have similar culinary likes and dislikes as humans because we have similar flavor pallets. The chickens absolutely loved the durian. They had a little party, full of plenty of clucking, a few chases as choice morsels were fought over, and the durian was devoured in record time. They looked a little sad when it was entirely gone.
I felt a little betrayed by my chickens.
M3 suggested that we don’t eat the eggs (unless used in baking) for the next day or two. After all, experiencing durian directly is quite memorable. Experiencing durian via chicken egg might scar me for life.
Some of you may remember that we had a flood July of 2013. That flood came out of the western foothills, across the highway, hit our house, and swept across all of our property, filling the irrigation ditch. Yesterday’s flood came from the river (eastern side). Earlier in the day (perhaps around noon) we had a good hard rain. Then in the afternoon, starting at perhaps 4pm, we had more rain. If you’ve ever spent quality time in the desert, then you know we have very limited topsoil, which absorbs the rain. With so much rain in the preceding days, and double rain the day of the flood, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised we had a river that skipped out of it’s banks.
First, all beasties were saved or safe to start with. Second, we lost a few fences and have some work to do on the pond (clearing out debris and silt), the pond fence (pushed out into unusual shapes) and the goose mansion (plenty of debris was trapped inside). We once had a stone meditation circle. That has been turned into a widely dispersed aggregate of rocks. The down stream tributary of the pond has been filled in with desert mulch and will have to be cleared before water can flow in and out of the pond as it likes to do. Our irrigation ditch silted up a bit, but not so much that it isn’t usable. Still, it will have to be shoveled out at some point.
Initially, when the afternoon rains started, I was more concerned that we would have a repeat of last year, with the rain coming from the western hills. Once it became obvious that wasn’t happening, I went out to check on the irrigation ditch – which was overflowing at the gate because it was so full. I tried fro perhaps 20 minutes to pop the gate out to allow the water to flow freely. This is in preference to the water overflowing the ditch banks and eating them away, which would make the ditch unusable until repaired (which would affect all people along the ditch, not just us). Alas, I couldn’t pop the ditch gate out and my hands had gone numb from the chilly water.
So, I turned to something I could do which was let the sodden goats up from the pond paddock to the barn. As I started down, I saw something large floating in the river – and I think it was a bridge. Yep, a bridge. I took one quick photo from afar. I made my way down there and let the goats up but stayed to photo what I thought was quite a bit of water coming from my upstream neighbor’s paddock. Well, that was the initial trickle of the flood. Debris started building along the fence line. I could hear the river roaring and I wanted to get to the bank and take pictures. But I noticed that my exit path was becoming flooded. It happened very quickly. I had to detour my way back to higher ground (still at the pond).
I started to worry about the ducks and geese. Their pond was getting flooded, the water level rising. Mostly, I was concerned that the current would become so strong that they would be slammed about the fencing we have around the pond (the fencing is there to keep the goats and donkeys from eating the pond plants). But the water calmed in the pond, creating a swirling eddy of mud, silt, debris, desert mulch, and several excited aquatic fowl.
I moved along the pond taking pictures. And then I hurt a metallic creaking coming from the downstream fence line. Debris was building long it, straining it. Most of this was occurring long the path were our pond naturally drains into the neighbor’s pond. Eventually, something snapped and the fence flattened. Now we were two fences down.
And I was thigh-high in cold, cold water. I decided to retreat to the house at this point. I needed more batteries for the camera anyway and I hadn’t been able to contact my man as the phones & internet went out with the storm. So I gave him a quick call (since phone was restored but not internet). He dropped what he was doing and headed home. He was perhaps an hour away.
I freshened up my batteries and headed back out. I was still worried about the water birds. There was no way to physically reach them with the water that high and all the fencing surrounding the pond. But I could keep an eye on them. The donkeys interrogated me on the way down, demanding to know when dinner was, and why they had to share their paddock with the smelly goats. But they couldn’t really care about the weather or the flood. That’s donkeys for you.
By now, it had been perhaps 1 hour since the flood had started. Things were already receding. There was still plenty of water, but it looked like the geese and ducks wouldn’t have to worry about being slammed into debris or fences. The pond has had this submerged tree for ages (since before we moved here) and that tree (which turned out to be way larger than we ever thought) was moved to the other side of the pond. The entrance to the goose mansion was choked with debris, so I cleared some of it. Mostly, I snapped photos.
But then I got cold. I was still in soaked clothing. So I headed up to the house, had a hot shower, dry clothes, and made a quick dinner. I heard from my man – the road home was blocked by a raging arroyo (I heard that it was ~6 feet high with water, unverified). So he stopped to help the fire department with the flooded mineral springs. I was on my own for seeing the beasties fed, dry, and safe.
The goats, donkeys, cats, dogs, and chickens were no problem. I was worried that the geese and ducks wouldn’t have any dry land to rest upon for the night and may become fatigued from swimming. After my dinner, I headed back out. There were more sprinkles. I got covered in alfalfa smut feeding the goats and donkeys. They think I smell great.
And I went to the pond paddock once more. Nearly all the water had receded. I was quite amazed. I thought it might take days for it to dry out. As I walked around, I found a few fish that needed rescuing. I tossed them in the pond, but I am not sure that saved them since the pond was so choked with silt it looked like hot cocoa. The geese and ducks were able to get into the goose mansion and I fed them some corn.
The next day, we walked the pond paddock together. Lots and lots of raccoon prints in the mud. I bet they came for the left over corn and the unrescued fish. We weren’t able to open the gate the to the river because the fence wire was resting so tightly upon it. It’s under a lot of tension since part of the fence was laid flat (without any of the fence snapping). But my man did climb the gate and have a quick look for the bridge I saw. No such luck.
We’ve heard that the two neighbors upstream of us lost fences. And we heard that a working farm upstream of us suffered significant damage. That is unverified. But I do wonder if that was their bridge I saw.
It will be a while before our beasties can enjoy the pond paddock. We already have one fence back up (though the posts need to be pounded in). It was fairly easy to rake the desert mulch off of it. We can only hope that the other fences will be as easy to resurrect.
What follows are A LOT of photos. Quite understandably, I am worn out from flood walking for 4 hours yesterday, and tromping through mud to photograph the aftermath today. Sit back and enjoy!
That title sounds like some rough farm dance. But no, it isn’t. One of our jackasses stomped on my foot nearly 2 weeks ago when I was working with the farrier. We have the farrier out about every 6 weeks to trim the boys’ hooves. Bucky wanted to be first, as usual. So, we put him in halter, led him out of the corral, got him trimmed, then put him in the unused garden area. Next was Jake. Then Sol. When I put Sol in the garden, Bucky decided to start biting him on the neck while I still trying to remove the halter.
The ground there is pretty uneven and quite frankly, I was concentrating on Bucky’s teeth. I don’t enjoy being bitten by donkeys (which has only happened 3 times in my life). So, I was trying to ram an elbow into Bucky’s sensitive nose while trying to unhalter Sol. Bucky is the smallest of the donkeys, so I also hoped he would just bugger off for a few minutes.
Anyway, the two boys were both stomping and jumping a bit, fore legs crashing down to the earth. And one of them gave my foot a glancing blow. I swore and released Sol, so he ran off. Bucky followed despite Sol kicking him in the head repeatedly. Bucky is the only one of our donkeys who is not neutered. Since he is the smallest, we haven’t been too concerned about his sometimes aggressive behavior. The farrier had just finished commenting on how mellow a full-grown stud Bucky is (he’s ~5 years old now). And this is the first time he has been a jerk during a hoof trimming session.
Still, my vote is to have Bucky de-balled. Yep, we need a little jar to stuff excess cash into, labelled ‘Bucky’s Balls’. If there are any chemists out there, I know you are snickering (bucky-balls).
We eventually got Bucky in to the corral. He ran in and I shut the gate behind him. Then we were able to finish up trimming Tobiah’s hooves. Within 15 minutes I was limping pretty good. Ice and elevation was the only thing I got done for the rest of the day, along with a call to my doctor’s office to have my foot checked out. I was able to go up the next day, since my man was kind enough to take time off work to drive (as my foot hurt way too much to be pushing pedals). Oddly, our chosen hospital doesn’t have an on-staff radiologist. So while they can take xrays, they do not have anyone to read them. So, they have to be sent out for interpretation. The following Monday, I called my doctor’s office and the aid said she had the results but couldn’t tell them to me because they had to be reviewed by my doctor first. That seemed more than a little silly. Anyway, they called back the next day (Tuesday), a solid 5 days after the initial stomping, I have my answer: no fractures, just lots of bruising.
It’s slowed me down a bit. For several days, I couldn’t even stand to stick a sock on it. Now I can wear my sandals with minimal pain. My sneakers still hurt enough to make me hiss through my teeth. And there is still daily swelling. I am quite enjoying the odd color variations in my foot as it heals. Two more days and I will hit the 2 week mark. Perhaps I will celebrate by feeding the jackasses some carrots. 😉
I have goat pictures for you! Yes, that means you are special.
After much debate, we have decided to not do a big garden this year. the river, from where we get our irrigation water, is already pretty darn low. We will be doing a smaller garden….in the berry patch. The berries don’t seem to mind as they haven’t taken over the entire patch yet.
So here we have some happy goats let into the big garden space to eat all the grass, dandelions, and little red willows. Enjoy!
Last month, I went to my first Renaissance Faire ever. My Main Man (M3) – and yes, he asked to be called that – use to go to such faires and festivals along with SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) often as a kid and teen.
It was the live equestrian jousting. That is what drew me in. I dressed in some garb. Sort of. At least, it drew stares at gas stations, etc. And it fit in nicely at the faire. The location was the Balloon Museum at the north end of Albuquerque. ABQ is well known for it’s international hot air balloon festival. So, not only did our tickets let us into the Ren Faire, we also got to toodle around the balloon museum.
In fact, as we were stepping in line to buy tickets, this nice lady came up to us and gave us two tickets. Apparently, she had meant to go with her daughter, had already purchased tickets, and then learned her daughter couldn’t make it. So cool.
Inside the balloon museum, they had one room set off for a few vendors, info booths, and demo booths. It was great fun to see so many people dressed in garb. Folks put a lot of time and effort in researching clothing of the Renaissance time and then crafting it.
First we found some family (D., little RBug, and N.) who had arrived earlier and we sat to watch the equestrian jousting. This was incredible! I really loved this show the jousters put on. There were lances, shields, big horses, armor, hand-to-hand combat, and at least one spear throw. The ladies were incredible and the men were keeping up. I tried to find more info on this jousting troupe. I was told there are a few such troupes that travel the country putting on these shows and I wish I could tell you which troupe this was. I believe it was the Order of Epona – but someone correct me if I am wrong. One of the ladies was obviously having a great time and I didn’t realize how petite she was until she dismounted for some hand-to-hand combat.
The thunder of the horses’ hooves was exhilarating. And the crack of the lances was awesome! And once again, these folks put tons of work into their garb, making it look authentic. The horses have obviously worked with each other quite a bit and had done this crazy thing of charging another horse with a lanced rider atop. I swear, one big brute was thoroughly enjoying himself!
Once the jousting was over, it was lunch time. While there was a royal feast being served, it was a little beyond our budget for this outing. So we headed to the commoners’ food court to check out the food vendors. We settled on Scottish food. I stood in line and enjoyed all the garb and weapons and wind. Yes, indeed, it was windy. But it would get windier yet. M3 had wandered off to the tart lady and brought back three different kinds of tarts for us to share. Finally, we sat down to some Scottish food. I had a meat pie in which the meat had been stewed in Guinness beer (which is nearly the best use for Guinness). M3 had his first Scotch egg. Take a hardboiled, peeled egg, wrap it in sausage and bread crums, and deep fry it. Yep, one of the best ways to induce wind later on…..like on the 2 hour drive home. Both dishes came with mashed potatoes (smothered in Guinness gravy – the best use of Guinness ever!) and sauteed cabbage and onions. My meat pie was so damn good I almost didn’t share with M3.
After that, we wandered a little, but the wind was picking up even more. We found the tavern and tried the mead they had on offer. Chaucer’s Mead. So good! We sat on the grass and enjoyed the Middle Eastern music of Sadaqah and watched the lovely dancer. I was thoroughly impressed with her abilities. By this time, the wind was serious and folks were taking down tents because wares were flying off tables and canvas was tearing. But these musicians and this dancer kept on going. Her movements were so well timed with the music, so graceful. The wind teased some of her hair free and played with her clothes – I think it made her dance a little ethereal. And then these two small boys wandered near the stage. They were decked out as small knights and they stood watching the dancer open mouthed. I think she may have helped jump start them into puberty!
Then it was time to wander some more. There was a blacksmith and we briefly checked out his wares. We walked past the little kid activity ‘Fight a Knight’ which was pretty funny to watch. A couple little kids with play swords beating on a kneeling, fully armored man. Then we wandered among the merchants. Alas, several of them had taken down due the wind. But we did find the Bee Chama Honey people and bought a small jar of their elderberry honey. It is incredibly good!
With one last walk around the greens, we headed back into the balloon museum. There, we briefly perused the info booths again, mostly looking at armor. Then, finally it was time to head home. M3 promises to wear garb next time. I need to work on my sewing skills and make some tunics!
Yep, it is that time of the year where the geese are laying eggs. First, I had to find their nests. Luckily, I spotted one when Mother goose was sitting on it making me an egg. We got several of our geese late last year when they were not in mating season. we knew we had at least one goose (Mother goose) as she had laid for her previous owners. But we just were not sure of the others.
Turns out we have 3 geese and 4 ganders. The geese have paired up and one couple kind of has a third, making a threesome. Mother goose chose a white gander as her man. The White Witch chose the most aggressive gander, also a white. The Grey Lady chose a grey gander, and their alternate partner is another grey gander. They all seem satisfied with this arrangement.
In hunting for geese nests, I knew to look for dry grass that had been torn up and made into what looks vaguely like a grass pillow about the size of a goose butt. Other than that, I knew nothing. Obviously, I spent A LOT of time hunting for the second nest. And two nests is all that I found. This had both M3 and myself baffled for a while. We saw Mother goose sitting on a nest. We saw the White Witch sitting on another. But where did the Grey Lady lay her eggs? Hmmm…..
It turns out that she shares the nest with Mother goose. I don’t know why. Who knows the mind of a goose? If you do, then I would be concerned.
Mother goose and the Grey Lady don’t get too worried when we rummage through their nest looking for eggs. But the White Witch and her man- that is a completely different story! No matter where they are on the pond or in the pasture, if they see us approaching their nest, they come running and honking. They picked a spot that is difficult to get in and out of, often snagging my clothes. So far, they haven’t caught me, but I have had 2 close brushes.
On average, we get 5-7 eggs a week. The racoons get a few each week, I suspect. Each egg is equal to 3-4 chicken eggs. they make great omelets, scrambled eggs, or are great in baking. I made this loaf of bread with a goose egg and it was so moist and had a wonderful golden hue to the loaf.
It has been snowing off and on this week. And the frogs have all come out of hibernation to sing their songs of lust and procreation to the world….through chattering teeth (or gums anyway).
Earlier this week, I decided to take mercy on my wet goats and fetch them in early. It was snowing and the wind was blowing and when I stepped out on my porch there was a sound. It took me a good solid minute to identify it. It was a few hundred lusty frogs at the pond, newly emerged. Haha! I wonder how much the weather put a damper on their love lives.
So here we are Sunday and it snowed a little more today. Can I call it snow? It was this white pebbly stuff falling from the sky that almost immediately melted when it kissed earth. Oh, and here is a toad (frog?) in my back yard looking rather disappointed with it all.
We’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with cat abscesses. Most of the time, we just let them pop on their own and then give them a good cleaning. They scab over and all is well.
Alas, that was not the case with our elderly cat Stout. His abscess, located behind his right ear and curving down the side of his neck, was huge. Also, when it did pop, it popped near the top, instead of the bottom, and therefore, gravity held a bunch of the puss inside the cavity. Basically, his flesh started to die and rot. It stank.
At the vet’s office, they were able to cut away much of the necrotic flesh (though they did leave a small flap to help hold the tissue together until Stout’s body could naturally slough it off). They irrigated the cavity, cleaning out the puss, and added a drainage hole at the bottom so that any further fluids could also drain away.
He got two medications – one a liquid antibiotic that I gave him daily, and then nitrofurazone. It’s a bright yellow-green antibiotic cream that is used on non-food animals. Basically, if we use this on an animal, we have to swear whole-heartedly that we will not slaughter and eat the animal. It was easy to make such a promise to Stout. (Basically, such a rule to help reduce the amount of antibiotics entering the food chain, and hence reduce antibiotic resistance in humans). Anyway, we got to smear this stuff on Stout once a day, using a popsicle stick to gently push the cream into the cavity. It’s water soluble, so the excess washed off easily each day during his daily doctoring. Yep, he got liquid meds with breakfast and in the evening we wrapped him in a towel, washed out his wound with warm water, and reapplied the cream.
As you can see, after just 8 days his abscess cavity has filled in quite well. I think the daily tuna and organic half & half also helped.