Rainy Rainy

What a month so far! I’ve been nutty busy. We’re getting ready for Prom in less than two weeks. If you are within a drive or a cheap flight, you should definitely come out for Prom! Even with a private room, it’s about the cheapest weekend getaway as you could dream up, and with Kid Congo and the Royal Butchers and Howie Pyro as this year’s entertainment, it will be insanely fun! The theme is Tahitian Holiday (stolen from the 1971 Harveyville Rural High School prom), and we’ll be starting the decorations this weekend. I was hoping I’d be able to shoehorn my fat ass into one of my really fluffy vintage party dresses. Actually, my ass wasn’t the problem–with the full skirts & crinolines, there’s plenty of room for a fat ass–but for some reason, I couldn’t get any of them to zip up. They all seem to have, ahem, shrunk. So it looks like I’ll be going for more of a late 60s cocktail look (thank you, Empire waist!), of course with a big fake tropical flower festooning some part of my person. I’m even cutting off my stupid long hair so I can have a cute flip!

I shipped off 100 Art Club Spin Sacks to Maker Faire. I churned them out in my own little 1-woman sweatshop (actually, it was a 2-woman sweatshop for a couple hours–I’m a captain of industry!). Although with all the television and snack breaks, I don’t know that it really qualifies as a sweatshop. Anyway, I made 100 little double-thickness boxed-bottom drawstring project bags from vintage sheets, screened them with my newly-designed Spin Sack graphic, and stuffed them with spindles, instructions, and yummy handmade fiber. Each got a small cuckoobatt and some hand-dyed combed top. I’m well pleased with them! I actually like them a little better than the last batch. While I liked the sheep-print sheets I was using before (ran out; that’s the nature of using recycled materials), they were flannel, so fiber wants to stick to them, while these are nice, smooth, well-worn cotton or cotton blends. And no nap to the fabric means I got to screen print them instead of the iron-on from the originals. Plus these have boxed bottoms.

It’s freaking Seattle around here lately. I’m well overdue to muck out the boggy barnyard. The sheep spend about half their day on pasture, and the other half in the barnyard, sleeping or lounging, all the while pooping. Healthy sheep poop is a pretty tidy substance. It looks a lot like rabbit poop, only bigger: dense, firm little pebbles that dry out quickly and self-sift through the straw to keep a fairly clean barn all winter. Providing you put down new bedding over top as needed, it stays pretty neat and unstinky. The stuff that sifts down composts below, warming the bedding slightly in winter and keeping everything sanitary and relatively fresh (something about the antimicrobial action of the composting process).

What should happen is that you keep layering it up all winter, and in the spring, you take it all out and make a big compost pile, which heads into the garden the following year (or immediately; sheep poop isn’t as hot as many manures and can go right on the garden).

But this year, we had an early Yarn School followed by rain and rain and rain, followed by a big, time-sensitive print design project for me, more rain, a hard drive failure, more rain, a big Maker Faire order, more rain, and Prom preparations (and, oh yeah, MORE FRACKING RAIN). So instead of raking/shoveling out 3″ of relatively dry composted manure and hay/straw mid-April, I now have 3 inches of mucky, spongy composted manure/hay layered with another inch of soggy hay/straw on top, blanketing my whole barnyard like a mushy, shifting, slippery bog. I’ve managed to keep the barn itself nice and dry and stable inside, but the yard is a nightmare.

Shoveling this stuff is only slightly less laborious than removing sod. It’s heavy, hard work, and it’s messy and every forkful you remove makes this awful sucking noise. And then if it starts raining again (and, of course it has), the whole thing turns to slop. Rolling it uphill in the wheelbarrow is not super fun, either. If I were smart, I’d put a garden in right next to the barnyard. Hm. Maybe I am smart. Maybe this will be my new plan–once I have my poor, dilapidated hay shelter shored up (but that’s another story). Hm. That’s actually kind of brilliant. I could probably have a narrow plot that winds around part of the barnyard, the chicken yard, and the hay shelter. And I could layer spoiled hay over top all winter for mulch.

The other part of my brilliant plan is to put in a French drain around the barnyard. It only needs to avoid the little yard itself and the barn, and can feed right into the pasture. The barnyard is much higher than the pasture, but a good deal lower than the schools, so right now it gets all the building runoff. I’m not looking forward to digging it, but if I’m industrious and dig just a couple feet a day, I could have it done mid June.. Of course, the rains will be over by then, but it’s not like the same thing won’t happen again next spring, and the one after that, and the one after that.

And the last part of my brilliant plan involves something we should have bought  several years ago: a lawn tractor (really just a riding mower–it’s really only tractor-shaped). While we can’t afford anything as luxurious as a Bobcat (the Bobcat Mini Trackloader is my current object de lust)–nor can I rationalize Bobcat-sized debt–roughly the cost of a new car–I was able to rationalize a sale-priced Sears lawn tractor with the 12-month 0% financing on my Sears charge, a card I never use in real life because the interest rate is more on par with a loan shark than a credit card. That feature is actually insurance that I’ll pay it back within the 0% period–I’m not giving mothergrabbing Citibank an extra 29%! (29%, can you believe that shit? They doubled the rate without notice back when the banks were all rushing to screw us over before new restrictive credit card legislation was passed. Luckily, I didn’t have a balance on that card, because I thought 15% was too high already, but I didn’t close the account because it’s supposed to be better for your credit rating. Why having easy access to potential financial ruin is good for your credit rating, I’ll never know.)

So we bought a lawn tractor with a little scoop attachment (not a proper diggy bucket, but according to the reviews, it should be able to do the lifting if I fork it up first–and it’s the lifting that’s back-breaking, not the forking it loose), and a little wheelbarrow thingy for the back, and a little canopy for my lily-white skin, which I plant to decorate with fringe so I can sing Surrey with the Fringe on Top as I mow the yard.

It should help in the barnyard and gardening chores, and it will pay for itself in about 2 years, because we’ve been paying for mowing. Paying for mowing with a yard the size of ours is a luxury we couldn’t really afford, but we did it because we didn’t have a mower and didn’t want to be an eyesore. My average hourly income is  less than we were paying for mowing, so it makes sense for me to take it over. They’re bringing it out on Tuesday.

I’m going to go try out the new iDye and iDye Poly. I might start carrying them in the shop. I’ll report back.

  • Meganne says:

    I love the colors…it looks like a sweets shop!

  • ChiaLynn says:

    I’ll be at Maker Faire! Where should I look for your Spin Sacks?

  • Janis says:

    The spin sacks are incredibly cute! I love the color of the batts too.

    Best of luck with the sheep muck!

  • Susan M says:

    I can’t help thinking about Disgruntled Housewife, the first “blog” that I followed and fell in love with. Did I ever think you would leave Texas and be raising sheep, etc?? Did you?? I have so enjoyed following your exploits. And, being a knitter (and yarn collector) I especially love seeing your success with patterns, fibers and yarns. There must be others like me out here, who read your blog and share your joys (organization!) and sorrows (rain rain rain). I wish you all the best. I’ll go back to reading from the sidelines.

  • sayra says:

    Rent a tractor, take care of the mess. Then rent a ditch witch, and put the drain in. Power tools+ rock! rentals…less than $80. a day. Really, I’m a true believer.

  • sayra says:

    Um, I meant rental power tools, specifically tractors rock!

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