Monday, December 31, 2012

Introducing Ludo

The horse pasture is up a hill from my house. Not a huge hill, but big enough that manually hauling hay up it is not an easy task. My friend Alex was a hero and hauled the first load of 20 bales up the hill, but I needed a way to do it myself for future loads.

So I got a new toy!

Its name is Ludo, after the big red friendly devoted monster thing in Labyrinth.

Ludo's namesake
It's pretty sweet: two and four-wheel drive, winch, snow plow, and dump truck style bucket on back. [When I first called the seller, he asked me if it was a gift for someone (ie, someone male). I'll let it slide since it was around Christmas, but this lady can drive an ATV with the rest of 'em! Not to mention all the truckin' and trailerin' I've done.]

Alex and I took turns playing with it to plow out the driveway on my rental house.

Once I get chains for the tires, Ludo will be put to work hauling hay, etc. Assuming I don't get it stuck like I did my car...but now I have a winch to pull myself out with.

In other news, the rental house is officially off my hands. As for the BBA title issues, two of the kids have signed the paperwork. Two down, two to go, plus the barn/neighbor's land issue to resolve. But I still remain optimistic!

Also, BB Acres is entirely legit now that I have an official sign, courtesy of Tyler and Mary!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Joys of Living Alone

Apollo wouldn't let Tanner in the run-in yesterday during the snowstorm. I glanced out the window to see Tanner standing there with half an inch of snow on his head and back, icicles hanging from his chin, and snow glistening on his eyelashes. So I thought I'd be really nice and bring Tanner into the barn and put him in a toasty warm stall with plenty of hay...Tanner did not think this was a nice idea. He started flipping out and donkey-kicking the barn walls. He also donkey-kicked me in the ass as I was trying to get out of the stall.

As I dove out of the stall, I was thinking, "Oh my god, I'm paralyzed, I can't feel my butt!" Walking around a little bit proved that I could feel my butt all too was gonna turn into quite the colorful bruise. (And the whole walking thing should've also been a big clue that I wasn't paralyzed.) Then the fear turned to rage and I yelled at Tanner, telling him that if that's how he was going to behave, he was going back in the pasture to fend for his own damn self. I also may have muttered something about a glue factory.

And then when the rage drained away, the fear came back. I was so incredibly lucky that Tanner hit me in the one place where I could easily afford to take a kick [big butt joke here]. If he had hit me in the spine, or the kidney, or if I had been facing the other way and he got me in the groin, things would've been so much worse. If that had happened, what would I have done? I didn't have my cell phone on me. What if I lay paralyzed on the barn floor? When would someone think to come looking for me? I seriously thought about getting a LifeAlert.

It reminds me of an episode of 30 Rock:
Liz: Look, this is gonna sound really weird, but do you ever worry about choking to death alone in your apartment?

Gretchen: Oh it’s so weird that you would say that. I think about it all the time. I mean, you’d die. And they wouldn’t find you until your neighbor’s dog smelled you from the hallway.

Liz: Oh, yes, and they’d show a picture of you on New York One.

Gretchen: And it’s not just choking, ever since I turned thirty every time I get in or out of the bathtub I think in my head, “Careful…careful…”
This isn't a new thought to me, since I've lived alone before. However, there are more ways to be incapacitated on the farm and it's more remote. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be found until after the possums and crows had gotten to me. Or Fat Cat would start to eat me, since I heard on NPR that that had happened once to some guy who died alone in his house.

It's not very comforting to think about how long it would take for someone to find me. Who knows me well enough and cares enough to notice that I'm missing and start to get concerned? Who would call my family to see if they'd heard from me? Who would actually come looking for me? Other than coworkers during the work week, I don't have someone I contact every day. (Although after this blog post, my mom may start texting me every day to make sure I'm not lying somewhere being eaten by possums.)

Who knows, maybe Finch or Hobbes will turn into Lassie and run get help. Or maybe what I really need is a pig like Lulu, who plopped herself down in the middle of the road til a car stopped, then led the driver back to her owner who had had a heart attack. Then again, that Oregon farmer was eaten by his pigs, so...

This is such an uplifting post. Here is a picture of Finch and Nellie cuddling to make us all feel a little better.

[Side note: "They" say that you're not a real cowgirl until you've been thrown off, bitten, stepped on, and kicked. I can officially say I am a real cowgirl now.]

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Plans

This is the first Christmas that I won't be at the familial home in Wisconsin. I thought I would be a lot more upset and lonely leading up to Christmas than I actually have been. That is largely due to the chaotic nature of (sort of) buying and moving into a farmette right before the holidays; I have no head space for feeling sad! And I haven't had much time to think about just doesn't feel like Christmas is tomorrow.

Sometimes little wisps of loneliness creep in, but I am continuously warmed to the cochles of my heart by friends and coworkers who invite me into their families to celebrate the holidays. It hasn't been easy, moving to a remote state far away from all my friends and family and struggling to find "my people" in a place that is often insular and folks' dance/friend cards are already full. And yet when I feel at my lowest, someone comes to my rescue by pulling me out of a snow drift or inviting me to share in their festivities. Maybe it's just the orphaned puppy look I sometimes give off, but regardless I am incredibly grateful for the outreach and warmth.

While I feel so lucky and loved to have multiple Christmas invitations, I am looking forward to staying in my pajamas for most of the day tomorrow, perhaps making a hot toddy or two, opening presents while on the phone with family, and having a relaxed dinner with the friend who uprooted to Maine with me, making himself a bit of an orphaned puppy as well.

This picture sums up how I think Christmas will be at BB Acres tomorrow:

Enjoying my animals' company and reveling in the sun filtering through the window, out of which I can peek to see the ponies. (Plus there will be a little wrapping-paper-destruction frenzy of course.)

Happy Christmas Eve to all of you!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Boys Are Back in Town

All the Blonde Bombers are home!

Thursday was the one clear day between two snow storms, so I took off a few hours of work, drove home, picked up the trailer, drove to Lupine Farm, loaded up the boys, and drove home again.

"The boys" are horses Tanner and Apollo; Apollo is on loan from Lupine Farm as a buddy for Tanner and an extra mount for when I want to take another person riding. He is a black bay thoroughbred/quarterhorse mix in his late teens who has a great personality and experience with racing, jumping, and some trail riding. He will be a wonderful addition to BB Acres until April, when he'll head back to Lupine Farm!

I hadn't quite finished the fencing; I had the top ropes up which I thought would be sufficient for now. Looking out the bedroom window at 9 pm proved that assumption incorrect: Apollo had casually walked under it and was loitering on the outside. On went my trusty Bogs (winter muck boots) and out I went to rig some temporary fencing til I could finish the bottom ropes today. Ah the joys of having horses at home!

After work on Friday I stopped by Tractor Supply Co to pick up rubber mats for the run-in. Between the mats and some hay bales, I needed a way to get them up the hill in the yard to the pasture. So I figured my trusty 4-wheel drive Explorer would do the trick.

This was not the case.

It had been steadily raining all day, on top of the 6 inches of snow on the ground. There is a small, shallow ditch on the side of the driveway which I needed to cross to get to the pasture. Because of the rain and melting snow, unbeknownst to me the ditch had become a raging river in which I promptly got my car stuck.

I could go into details about everything I tried to get it out by myself, but we'll just say that it took me an hour before I admitted defeat and sheepishly called for help. My snow plow guy Jeff (also my coworker's significant other) came to the rescue in the cold, pouring rain.

While I still don't have a plan for getting tomorrow's delivery of hay bales up to the pasture, I am very thankful to have people I can call on for help as I hare off on this solo adventure!

And of course, there are no words for the feeling that I just have to look out the window to see Tanner, pawing through the snow to find every last bite of grass or patiently waiting for me to snap a picture before feeding grain.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What. the. Water Buffalo

As Marm and Dard were helping me with things around the yard, we met a couple neighbors. Through them, we found out that the farm's previous owners had quite a few animals.

I expected the chickens, since there are four different structures built for poultry on the property. However, I learned that they also raised show pigeons and dabbled with geese, and besides birds, they had 3 horses, 2 pot bellied pigs,* and 3 water buffalo.

Let me repeat that: They had 3 water buffalo.

This is a water buffalo:

According to an article on "Easily trained to ride or as working livestock, American water buffalo offer producers milk--most often used in mozzerella cheese--as well as meat and hides."

The article continues on to say, "With few exceptions, water buffalo are uncommonly easygoing and they thrive on attention. It's easy to train buffalo to ride."

I clearly chose the wrong mount. Everyone and their mom has a horse; I would be the coolest kid on the block if I showed up to a trail ride on a buffalo.

Maybe they come in blonde shades....

*Apparently one of the pigs was an escape artist and would always run down the road to poop in a specific neighbor's garage.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Wonderland

No updates yet on the title issues, but I remain optimistic!

Marm has returned home to Wisconsin, and I spent a relatively lazy weekend alternatively reading, working on the fence, reading, napping, unpacking, reading, and watching Law and Order: SVU.

BB Acres is in the wilds of Maine, meaning broadband internet isn't available and Verizon thinks I'm off the planet. I thought that I would have to get satellite internet, which a) is hella expensive, and b) doesn't support Netflix or Skype. Oh and c) severely limits data usage. I had resigned myself to the trade-off, but then US Cellular came to the rescue! Not only do they have much better service in my area, they also have an unlimited data plan with a mobile hotspot option. I have so far connected it to both my xbox and desktop, and it works admirably well for 1/5 the cost of satellite. And Netflix works! Thank the little lord baby Jesus, because I still have 5 more seasons of Law and Order: SVU to get through.

So I have a new phone number (no more Hammond Tractor calls!*): 207-779-6363

My plan was to bring Tanner and a buddy borrowed from Lupine Farm to BB Acres on Sunday, but between the predicted snowstorm and feeling overwhelmed, I postponed their arrival for another week.

Here is a picture of the house this morning amid the snow:

And here is an obligatory picture of the pets:

* My old phone number was 207-877-4832, and Hammond Tractor's toll-free number was 1-877-483-2473, so if folks within my area code didn't put a 1 in front of the toll-free number, they'd get me. And call me six times in a row. And leave me messages about what tractor part they're looking for.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The movers came on Tuesday, loaded up all my worldly goods, and moved them to the farm. The house is slowly coming together!

Closing was supposed to be this Friday (I had signed an agreement with the seller to take possession of the farm before closing). However I learned yesterday afternoon that there are a couple issues, meaning I won't technically own the farm for a little while longer. 

One issue is that the run-in barn was built 14 ft onto the neighbors' land...once the owners realized this, they talked with the neighbors and decided it was okay as is. Nothing was written down, however, so it needs to be resolved. It should be an easy fix - I'll just give 14 ft in a slightly different place to the neighbors in exchange for the piece the run-in is on.

The second issue is a little more complicated. The seller is a widow, and her husband had intended to leave everything to her. Due to an attorney's mistake, the house was actually left to the husband's 4 grown children, which means that they all have to sign off on the sale. Again, I'm optimistic that it's an easy fix, but I'm crossing my fingers and toes!

Meanwhile, my mom is at home while I'm at work, supposedly unpacking. This is the picture she emailed me this morning:


Monday, December 10, 2012

A Handy Surprise

I went to the Portland airport on Friday to pick up my mom, and got a two-fer deal - my dad had come along as a surprise! He was only able to stay for the weekend, but we got a lot done while he was here. The original plan (when I thought it was just my mom) was to pack up my rental house the whole weekend, but with Dard here we were able to do quite a few "handyman" projects around the farm. Three trips to Home Depot later, I was all set with the various tools and implements necessary for running a farmette!

With my dad's help, we were able to:
- Take down the fence at the rental house
- Put in all the t-posts for the horse fence
- Attach lattice to the porch to make it escape-proof for the dogs
- Assemble a workbench
- Put up peg board and hang tools
- Take down a pigeon coop
- Unstick three barn doors
- Build a railing
- Tack in a carpet runner on the stairs
- Install a dehumidifier
- Put in driveway markers

Not bad for a weekend's work! There were also many accomplishments in the lobster department. Between the three of us, we had: lobster roll, lobster stew, lobster cutlets, lobster bisque, fried lobster, lobster pie, lazyman's lobster, and lobster omelette.

After seeing Dard off at the airport, my mom and I put in a few hours of packing last night. She will continue to pack today while I make the big bucks at work, and then tomorrow the movers come to get all the big stuff! I'll be home for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Official!

Appraisal has been completed and approved, and now it's just dotting the i's and crossing the t's! I'll get the keys this Friday, and my wonderful marm is flying in to help move.  I'm hoping to have all animals and possessions moved in by December 16, just in time for the holidays!