Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Hefty "Stupid Tax"

[Edited to add] I wrote the bulk of this yesterday when everything was super raw and wasn't sure if I should publish it, since it's full of melodrama.

Thanks to some amazing people in my life, I have a better perspective on it today. My intense fear of being seen as a failure eclipsed the fact that, holy crap, I survived a serious car crash, walking away from it without a scratch.

I'm leaving the original post up because I'm starting to laugh at how melodramatic I was about something so inconsequential compared to what could have easily happened. It's a little embarrassing though, so read it with a grain of salt.

***This is about a car accident, so you may not want to read it/look at the picture.***

The heating company came yesterday morning to do a gas check (something they require for new customers), and the technician came later than expected. So I was driving a little faster than prudent under the conditions to get to work when my front right tire caught the edge of a slush/ice puddle, fishtailed violently across the road, hit a snow bank, flipped upside down, and slid into a tree on the driver's side.

Aside from an "Oh shit, well, this is happening," there really wasn't any time to freak out. The worst part was being upside down, trying to get unbuckled and find a way out before the car blew up (which is what my treacherous imagination told me would happen but totally didn't). It probably only took me a minute to unbuckle, roll down the passenger side window, scoot over, and wiggle out, but it felt like a lifetime. By then the driver of the car that had been in front of me had run down the embankment to see if I was okay and had called 911.

I walked away completely unhurt (aside from a headache and some muscle aches).

Once the tow truck had arrived, the sheriff ('s deputy? I don't actually understand the sheriff's department.) drove me into work, where I checked my email and settled in to make a few phone calls.

You'd think a day couldn't get any worse, but hoo boy, it can. I found out that when I had signed up for insurance with Geico two years ago, I had chosen the bare minimum which covered bodily harm and property damage, but not collisions. (The only reason I can think of why I did this was that I was in AmeriCorps at the time and had a very limited monthly budget.)

 I don't think the owner of the tree will be making a claim (the insurance agent asked if that was a possibility), so basically I'm on my own. I am incredibly lucky in that, besides not being hurt at all, nothing was owed on the car, my dad had been planning to pass on his truck to me anyway when he got a new one, and I have enough disposable income to cover towing and other costs.

None of that makes me feel better. Not even the part where I walked away unscathed.

I just keep asking myself how I could be that much of a moron, to not have collision insurance. For such a small action, it had big, huge, expensive consequences.

I think the worst part was the dismay and disappointment in my mom's voice when I told her, and the imagined disappointment and judgement from my dad. I'd let my parents down as well as myself. I just wanted someone to tell me that it was okay, that other people are idiots too, that $6,000+ wasn't that big of a loss...basically I wanted someone to build me a delusional world where I didn't have to feel so bad.

Unfortunately, I have to live in this world, a world in which I almost wish I had been injured because at least that would have been covered. A world in which I made such a colossal mistake.

But it is also a world in which there are bright points as well as dark ones. My friends and coworkers have offered me their cars, their time, their hugs, and their boyfriends' expertise. I also made a work connection with the police officer around my prescription drug abuse education work...networking is key!

My sister texted me that when she had made a costly mistake, our dad had told her to "think of it as a Stupid Tax, write it off, and move on." Despite the fact that I feel like I'm always paying Stupid Taxes (and usually with my parents' money, which makes it soooo much worse), it does help start to put it behind me.

I'm still kicking myself for not having the right insurance, but as our family sayings go, "If it's dead, it's dead." "It is what it is." So my car is dead, that $6,000 is gone, and I can do nothing about it but sign up for better insurance and be thankful that I wasn't hurt.

And I'm flying out tomorrow to Wisconsin to drive the truck back to Maine, so I get an unexpected trip home to see my parents!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Scenic Route

The temperature is finally back in the range where I don't immediately want to die when I step outside. So I went for a ride for the first time since moving to BB Acres!

The dogs and Tanner and I set off up the road. After a few brays, Hattie seemed to settle into being alone just fine; I was worried I was going to have to pony her along (and kind of hoping I would have to, because how awesome would that be?) but I didn't.

The road BB Acres lies on goes up a hill, turns into a dirt road, and ends in a dairy farm. At the top of the hill, you can see for miles.

You can't really tell from the bad cell phone picture, but there are mountains in the distance. Being a Wisconsin-bred flatlander, I have yet to stop going "Oooooooo, aaaaaaahhh" whenever I see mountains. There's a spot on my drive home from work that I look forward to seeing every day because of its amazing view.

It was wonderful to be able to take in such a view while spending quality, peaceful time with Tanner. The dogs had a blast, and we met two giant Belgian horses and an appaloosa at the top of the hill.

All in all it was a good day.

Headed back towards home

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


It is so cold out I can't even come up with a good post title. Maine is in a cold spell right now...this morning it was -9 degrees without factoring in windchill. Currently, at 2 pm, it is 2 degrees with a "real feel" of -20.

There is a nice brisk wind so that when you walk outside, the first response torn from your lips is usually of the four-lettered variety, or for the classier of us:


 Sitting inside where it's warm, it's easy to say It really isn't that bad...all I have to do is make it from the building to my car. But once you take a step outside, it hits you that yeah, it is that bad. It's like when you get a tattoo, or (presumably) have a's awful awful awful, then once it's over your brain makes you forget how bad it was. So you think, I'll have another one! Baby or tattoo, you forget how painful it is until it's way too late.

Anyway, so there you are, having just stepped outside and gasped the expletive of your choice. Your world shrinks and becomes hyperfocused on one step at a time. Just keep going, just one foot in front of the other. If you dare to look up your eyes immediately fill with water, but not before you see how despairingly long you still have to go to reach warmth. You make promises to the universe that if you can just magically be there, you'll start being a better person or doing that thing you feel like you should be doing.

And then you're there. It takes a while for the sniffles to cease and the warmth to return to your extremities, but once you do, your brain begins the process of erasing the memories of that agony-filled journey across Siberia.

Or maybe you aren't like me and your brain knows just how cold outside it is. I'm not sure which I'd prefer - the constant knowledge of Ughhhhh when I go outside I'm going to be so miserable, now my entire day is ruined thinking about it, or the surprise ninja attack of the cold.

Tanner and Hattie don't get the luxury of that choice. Both have blankets on and have been huddling together in the run in, but I feel bad when I'm snug in my bed with the wood stove going and they're out in the cold. (Not bad enough to go check on them or bring them into the house though [which reminds me of the dream where I brought Tanner down to the basement in my parents' house during a tornado...can't have him swept up like that cow in Twister!].)

I bet they would feel better about the cold if they had some kickin' sweaters though (hint, hint to any crafters out there).

Thanks to Meredith for finding both the gif and the ponies in sweaters!

Monday, January 21, 2013


I took the opportunity to just spend some time with Tanner and Hattie yesterday, which was the first time really since moving. I love these two!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This Little Piggy

I've been browsing Craigslist and Uncle Henry's (Maine's localized Craigslist) at least a few times a week. I should know better, since this is how I ended up with an extra dog and a donkey that I didn't really need but of course had to have, but where's the fun in that?

Today I just about died when I came across this ad:
Text of ad: "We have 4 Juliana micro-pigs about 5 weeks old that will be ready to go in a few weeks. 2 males and 2 females. We do not have papers, but the parents are on the premises. The price is low because we don't have papers and they have not been fixed. We would be pleased to talk with you about placing our little piggies."
BB Acres has a lot of animal structures. Besides the barn and the run-in, there is a large chicken house and a separate A-frame shelter with a fenced-in area. So of course I've been daydreaming about what I'll put in those places. When I saw the Craigslist ad for micro pigs, it seemed like a perfect fit! Despite the fact that I really have no need for more animals.

I immediately emailed my family and chatted online with one sister about how tempting this was and that my animal hoarding days might truly have begun. (This sister asked if I was experiencing any cold drafts or flickering lights in the house, in case I was being possessed by the previous owner/animal hoarder.)

I mean, who can say no to this??
I turned to Google for help. At first it seemed that micro-pigs would be a great idea! They would only cost pennies a day to feed! You can keep them indoor or outdoor! They're super friendly and trainable! You can walk them on a leash! Paris Hilton has one!

And then I started reading articles about how miniature pigs might really be more like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow - they don't truly exist. From the little I can glean from reputable sources (as reputable as anyone on the internet can be), it appears that there is no true micro/mini/teacup/Juliana breed.

There have been many quests over the years to breed pocket-sized pigs. Currently, micro pigs are just bred from generations of potbelly runts, and there is no real guarantee of their size. All those adorable pictures are of piglets only a few days or weeks old. In fact, the internet is full of stories about people who paid hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars for a micro pig and ended up with a big ol' porker.

The owner of the Craigslist ad described the micro-pig world as being like the Wild West: "Not a lot of rules & regulations about what constitutes a micro-pig."

Even Paris' pig grew up:
But maybe these were the real McCoy! I asked the owner what size the parents are. The first answer was promising: Harriette, the sow, clocks in at 16" high, 24" long, and only 25 pounds. The boar, Oscar, is slightly bigger at 17" high, 25" long, and 35 pounds. That's not too bad, right??

Except that pigs can start breeding way before they're done growing. Harriette and Oscar are maybe 10 months old and haven't hit their true size yet.

Not only is there absolutely no guarantee of what size the piglet will be, it is also incredibly hard to find a vet who treats pigs-as-pets.  Harriette and Oscar's owner had to call around the state before finding one vet who could spay/neuter the piggies, and by that time, Harriette was already pregnant. So who knows how much that would cost?

Long story short, I'm afraid that micro-pigs will not be the next residents of Blonde Bomber Acres. Cue the familial sigh of relief.

Any opinions on what should be the next critter(s) to grace BB Acres ?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Who's That Creepin'

It has always been a dream to have my horse literally in my backyard, but I didn't consider that if I could see him, he could see me. Moving throughout the house I can feel eyes staring at me through the windows. When I look out, there are stock-still figures concentrating with all their might on the house, ears forward.

Imagine the Jaws dum
Ba dum
 Ba dumbadumbadumbadum
 [Psycho shower scene noise] WEEE WEEE WEEE

That's how I feel whenever I get up in the night to go to the bathroom and glance out the window.

It wasn't too bad when it was just eyes watching me, but now with a braying donkey I find myself creeping through the house with the lights off hoping they won't spot me and Hattie won't sound the alarm. They're as bad as Fat Cat when it comes to feeding time; they think it should happen two hours before it is supposed to be. Hattie sounds like she's dying when she brays...I really hope the neighbors don't hate me already.

She's too cute to get rid of though. Friend/coworker Kristen and her pup Ruger stopped by BB Acres to meet everyone and Hattie would not leave her alone, leaning against her and demanding pats. Ruger did not know what to think at all about Hattie, but he sure did love eating horse poop.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hello Hattie

Apollo went home today; I decided that since he was only here short term and was making life difficult for Tanner, it would be best to take him back to Lupine Farm. LF's owner-extraordinaire Emily thought that since Apollo was used to normally being the bottom dog, perhaps the new-found power over Tanner went right to his head!

But of course we can't have Tanner being lonely, so a new permanent member of Blonde Bomber Acres arrived today.  Meet Hattie!

Hattie is an adorable one-year-old standard donkey who was previously living with sheep. Donkeys are usually social animals that like to be around other equines, so she seems pretty pumped to be with Tanner. She was following him all around, nipping at his blanket to try to get him to play and snoozing in the afternoon sun with him.

For his part, Tanner seems entirely a-ok with sharing hay and a paddock with Hattie.

I was a little concerned on how Hattie would react to the dogs since donkeys are well-known guardians against wolves and coyotes and the like. The dogs sure didn't know what to think about this tiny equine...Hobbes circled her for a little while, then starting nibbling on her back leg (I have no idea why he thinks this was acceptable), but Hattie didn't even bat an eye.

Ever since my friend Alex met Petunia the Donkey at Lupine Farm, he's been a little obsessed with donkeys.
Here he is giving Hattie head scritches!

When I told my mom that I was looking into getting a donkey, one of her first questions was, "Is this the start of a slippery slope into animal hoarding?" Which is a legitimate question. However, I do believe that I have not yet started the official slide down that hill since the number of animals remains the same. For now, anyway....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Origin Story

I thought up "Blonde Bombers" when I was on a solo trail ride on my birthday, riding on a rail trail along the Kennebec River with Tanner and both dogs. I was feeling pretty proud of myself since this was the first time I'd ever trailered solo to somewhere to ride all by myself. It was gorgeous out, the dogs were ridiculously happy, and I was like, "Hey, we're all blonde. We should be the Blonde Bombers."

As the relationship I was in was coming to its end, the Blonde Bombers came to solidify feeling okay about being on my own. The Blonde Bombers were strong, capable, adventurous, and stuck together, even when I felt like curling up under the covers and never getting out of bed. It reminded me of the day that I was on my own with the three other Bombers feeling happy and right with the world.

How I imagine the Blonde Bombers
(Awesome Photoshop job by Meredith Cler)

The Bombers are also meant to deter being underestimated just because I am blonde and a lady. I am fierce!

A quick Google search shows that I'm in good company.

There's this Blonde Bomber, a female race car driver. She's in a sport that is very male-dominated and rockin' it.

Then there's the Blond Bomber Joan Weston (pictured left), the "most beloved of all historical Roller Derby stars," captain of the San Francisco Bay Bombers. I don't think you can get any more fierce (fiercer?) than roller derby.

 And then there's this guy, who was rescued from entanglement in trash and released back into the ocean.

I'm pretty proud to be in such company. And that's the story, morning glory.

Also, it was -15 degrees when I woke up this morning.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Great Escape

I came home yesterday after work to find a note taped on the door from the local animal control officer, asking me to call him. My first thoughts were that someone had complained about Hobbes being a pit mix or that the local zoning meant I couldn't have horses (even though I had checked before agreeing to purchase).

I did not consider the idea that the horses had gotten out and were running down the highway half a mile downhill from the farm. Which is what had happened.

After canvassing the entire neighborhood, the animal control officer finally talked to someone who thought they had come from my place. By the time the dust had settled, the horses had found their way back to the farm, where the animal control officer put them in the barn and closed the door.

I've seen the Horse Whisperer. I know what happens when horses get hit by vehicles. I also haven't met many of my neighbors. With the combination of someone knowing where the horses belonged and the horses not getting injured/killed, I lucked out big time. In fact, I think I have used up a few years' worth of luck between Tanner's kick not doing any damage and the horses running down the highway and returning without being injured.

The electric fence wasn't on (for various reasons) and my guess is that Apollo chased Tanner through the fence, since the gate hooks were ripped out from both the barn wall and the opposite wooden post.  Needless to say, the electricity is now on. I will also be dropping cards introducing myself and giving my contact information into neighbors' mailboxes.

I am still dismayed. My mild-mannered pony has become a hardened criminal! First he kicked me, then he participated in a jailbreak. Can you believe that of him, the horse who good-naturedly put up with me taking this picture??


He's lucky he's so cute.

Happy New Year everyone! My resolutions this year include carrying my cell phone with me at all times and making sure the fencing stays intact and electrified. And not testing my luck any further.