Well I just had to turn the music I was playing off because it’s thundering and raining so hard I literally couldn’t hear it, but– mostly, there aren’t any leaks through the canvas roof, and I seem to have a correct enough assemblage of shower curtain and vinyl tablecloth and 2x6 and so on at the door to keep that from pouring water in across the floor, so all is well in yurtville at the moment. The thunder and lightning are mildly terrifying but fortunately I’m not particularly afraid of that sort of thing. 

Let’s hope I sleep okay. It’s another slaughter day tomorrow. I cleaned the whole area today, and since the Assistant Livestock Manager wasn’t done washing eggs when I got out there, I lavished a lot more time on the kill room than I normally do. (The evisceration room is the one that’s all stainless steel and plastic walls, and I always scrub the bejesus out of it and bleach it super good, because I eat those chickens too. But I like the kill room to be spotless too, it’s just harder to do.) 

I got back to the house after much longer than I’d meant to spend, but had consoled myself by nabbing a pitcher full of ice out of the ice machine, and made margaritas. And then, since it was 90, and Farmbaby wanted to go in the sprinkler, I grabbed my swimsuit and went out and joined her, to her very great delight, and we had a fine time, and I didn’t have to take a shower after all. (I hate to shower right before slaughter day; slaughter night is like, my one guaranteed day I’ll actually wash on the farm. The rest of the time, the policy is only to wash if someone’s going to see us, OR we’re so offensive no one can stand to be in the room with us. I was approaching the latter category after all my scrubbing– I put on a rubber apron to keep bleach off my clothes, and then sweated through my clothes from the inside, of course– but a trip through the hose sorted that acceptably. A trip through the hose is fine for human odors, but not for chicken-internals odors. Soap must be employed, for those.)

So. Margaritas, and then a lovely dessert (local-harvested blueberries, in a pie! a neighbor is ill with Lyme disease so his crop is going unharvested, and he has called upon neighbors to help him out, and we’ve obliged; he gets a slice of pie in return, and wouldn’t take any more than that)– and then I sprinted out the door as the rain started, so I could get out here before it. Not just to avoid walking in the rain, but also in case I’d left anything unsecured. Which, somewhat, I had, but it was mostly fine. 

Anyhow. I thought this thunderstorm was going to pass on, but it’s lingering. I ought to look at the radar but I’m resisting. 

Sleeping in the yurt is like… one night I lie awake the whole night for no reason, the next night I lie awake a lot because there’s a leak or sound or mosquito or something, the third night I sleep twelve hours like I’ve been tranquilized, the next night I get a totally normal 7ish hours of sleep, the night after that I sleep like the dead again and almost miss my alarm, then I lie awake staring at the rafters the night after that for no reason… It’s annoying. Clearly, I can sleep out here just fine. Clearly, the space is comfortable and to my liking, and even the shitty air mattress is comfortable. (It’s developing some… quirks, but it holds air for the nonce, so I won’t complain, but my next one will be a futon mattress or something.) But I’m just a miserable middle-age-approaching cuss, and my sleep is apparently Delicate.

I can hear the stream now, over the rain. It’s lovely but not all that restful. At least I know, 1000% certainly, that this bank of the stream literally never floods. (It didn’t flood during Irene or Sandy, it didn’t flood last month when a random thunderstorm higher up the mountain dumped 2 inches in 2 hours and almost took out the culvert by the granary… we may lose the opposite bank, and the basement, and the picking garden, and the yurt might blow the fuck over, but this bank won’t flood.)
Ugh I’m awake at 3:30 am with an upset tummy, kind of, and it’s just, ugh. oh well.

I had a busy day yesterday, finished painting the barn interior. There’s a space we use adjacent to the slaughter area, where we package chickens— the hallway between the kill room and the evisceration room, and the space in front of that hallway— and the inspector said last year, if we’re in that space, the surfaces have to be coated. So we didn’t get to it over the winter, and did our first run of the year without fixing it, but B-i-L was super nervous that if the inspector comes and we haven’t done the necessary work, he’ll fail the entire operation’s inspection. And it’s so minor— we’ve done the major construction work that has to be done, and it’s just literally painting the walls and ceiling, so—

I realized right away this was a job I could do, not skilled or complicated, and most importantly, not involving sun exposure. I’ve only had mild hives this year so far, but they were from spending two hours in the shade in clothing that nearly covered me entirely, so. I know I can’t do field work at all. So I took over.

And yesterday I managed to paint the wall behind the ice machine and biggest chest freezer. We didn’t move either thing very much, and it involved me enlisting Sister to wriggle in and with her longer arms, reach a bit I wouldn’t have been able to— she accomplished this by wedging her pelvis between the ice machine and the freezer, standing on one leg, and hooking the other leg over the top of the freezer, and reaching as far as she could with one hand while bracing the other against the wall.

I had to do the same after she was done, she’s just both narrower and longer than I am so her range was greater for one crucial bit. Then I had to lie on top of the chest freezer and hang my head and entire upper body down into the space between it and the wall. Fortunately, I had foreseen this, and hadn’t painted the bit we’d have to mash ourselves against.

It worked, and the thing’s done. I haven’t managed the ceiling, but I did stand on the chest freezer and paint all the edge pieces I could reach.

It’s the kind of thing you don’t notice, but, honestly it was disgusting before; that used to be a cow barn, and the walls were this weird kind of whitewash-over-newspaper, caked in 70 years of filth. You could try washing them, but it would only sort of soak in. (I washed the ceiling in there over the winter. Believe me, those walls weren’t cleanable.) So, now they’re coated in the really good primer.

I think I have to go back over them with high-gloss bright-white paint, though, to make them washable going forward. Which is the goal. At least the doors and the one narrow bit, maybe not behind the freezers, where neither light nor dirt will ever penetrate…

I also washed the panes of glass in the one window, which was Something, let me tell you. I had to evict a lot of spiders. I did so soft-heartedly, carrying as many outdoors as I could, or into other parts of the barn where we don’t care if they live there.

* * *

In other news, I’ve done almost no work on anything personal, nor have I looked much at the Internet, except to get exceedingly upset about politics, as usual. I’m so upset, and it doesn’t help that I’m writing this at like, three forty-five because I was awake almost an hour ago lying in bed worrying about it. Ugh.

BUT. I think I did manage to finish the Yavin 4Some. So, y’all, brace yourselves, for some non-continuity, excessively pornographic, unredeeming smut, because who doesn’t love that. I don’t not love that. Why has this been the story that gets worked on? LOL because it’s the only one that’s on my hard drive not Google Docs. Should I relocate other things to my hard drive? Sure I should but that’s asking a lot of my organizational abilities.
Yesterday we cleaned out the second floor of the granary– the building just across the driveway from the house used to be a granary and carriage house, and now the larger part is used as the farmstand, and the smaller room to the left is still called the granary– it’s where we make wreaths and where the freezers for household use are. (The barn is full of chest freezers to hold the chickens for sale, but the stuff for cooking with is in the granary upright freezers.) There’s also a fridge for self-serve eggs during the summer months. Oh I need to make a new sign for that, note to self. (The old one was on a roof slate and is cracked.)

The whole building is two stories, and the upper storey is entirely lined with built-in grain bins probably original to the structure. The building was probably constructed around the same time as the house, circa 1825– it might even be older. The foundation is raw field stone, set dry, and it is actually in the bed of the creek, with the foundation keeping it up. There’s a two-seat privy that just hangs out over the creek– just, holes in seats, and you’re supposed to do your business straight into the creek, ew– and is the oldest surviving lavatory facilities on premises. It’s totally unrenovated, and is still in the farmstand, but is used as a storage closet. 

The second storey had gotten cluttered up with junk and used for storage. I’d really like to put the dried flowers workshop up there, though, and i have some ambitious plans for preserved flowers and potpourri. So yesterday we hauled out what was up there– and most of it was lumber. 

We transferred it out the second-storey door of the granary, and carried it across the bridge to put up into the big barn’s loft. The big barn, built 1943, has a huge hayloft that’s mostly got yurt parts and pigeon shit in it, so it could easily store lumber.

Doing this was intensively laborious and dusty, but we got it done, FarmSister and I, with a lot of help from the veggie manager, who had finished his seeding for the day and happened by and pitched in because he’s nice. 

We revealed that the granary’s second floor is in gorgeous condition. The windows have mostly fallen in, over the decades, but the roof is original slate and has survived, and so the floor is flawless– wide planks, better condition than those in the house. It’s just gorgeous. 

We’re going to make a lounge for the interns on one side, since the intern cabin has no electricity– we’ll run power up from the first floor of the granary, and there are a couple comfy chairs, we’ll rig up a desk and a desk chair, and maybe even get them a TV or something, some floor lamps– and then the other ¾ of the space can be a workshop. We gotta fix the windows, but that’ll be easy enough. 

I don’t want to pull out the grain bins, which are built-in, but it’s hard to utilize the space with them as-is. I think we can remove them without really damaging anything, and then we can adapt and reuse the space. They’re just built-in low walls. The corners are all reinforced with old metal license plates– there’s a pair from 1941, particularly– because of mice chewing. And that’s the downside– I can’t have racks to dry flowers if they’re anything the mice will eat. Petals, mice won’t bother, but anything with a seed head, they’ll eat. And I’m sure if I preserve anything in glycerine they’ll get into it. 

Anyway, I’m so sore I think I might be dying, because my normal daily activity is something like 3,000 steps according to my smartwatch, and I’ve been over 10,000 every day this week, and yesterday carried a lot of lumber on my shoulders, which is not a typical activity for me at all.

But, onward. (That’s me telling myself to get up. Just now I was playing with Farmbaby, and am sort of proud I managed to talk her out of playing tag all over the house, and instead convinced her to show me her yoga poses. Man I needed some yoga.)
This morning’s crow concert was abbreviated by the arrival of the actual flock of turkeys, who made all kinds of surprisingly cute noises.
Note: this is the flock of *wild* turkeys, which consists of a large number of birds of a wide variety of ages.
The other flock of turkeys on this farm are the expensive domesticated ones, who are all two weeks old and still live indoors. The wild turkeys seem to be aware of and slightly confused by them, and have been observed hanging out near the poult barn warbling at them. The tame ones don’t seem to react much though.
YURT! Not my usual quality of photos, these were mostly taken very hastily on my phone as i tried to direct setup. I’ll take proper camera pictures once I have some more time. I’m sorry, this is long, and photo posts don’t let you insert a read-more. :(

Friday I left work slightly early so I could get to the yurt-maker’s house before dark, and there, in the slight drizzle, he spent about an hour taking down the ger (as it’s more properly called, I guess; yurt is a slightly-offensive foreign word if you’re Mongolian, and so the sorts of people who appreciate Correct Terminology prefer to call them ‘gers’, so I try to respect that but most local people know what a yurt is and not what a ger is so it’s more locally-useful to call it a yurt, so I mostly do. Not to be offensive to those who prefer correctness, but it’s hard enough to explain what I’m doing, but I do understand there’s an element of cultural appropriation here and I am sorry for that.)

Anyway, he took down the ger and showed me all the parts, explained what was important and what was only important over the long-term and what was critical to adjust correctly and what was only cosmetic and could be changed according to preference. So, above, the hands taking apart part of the door frame are his; I took some reference photos of how he tied things in case the knots were important, as neither of us knew what the knots were called.

It fit into my car, though some of that was because I am very, very experienced at loading this car in particular– my old Impreza had precisely the same proportions inside, so I know exactly how far the seat goes up and so on. So a couple times, I knew things would fit without further disassembly if I just wiggled things around. 

I managed to get the entire yurt, plus a duffel bag, my camera bag, three pairs of boots, assorted small items, a sleeping bag and a pillow and an industrial coffeemaker salvaged from work into my car. I declined to bring any of my copious amounts of awesome glam-camping gear (I’ve done Pennsic for years, people, I have everything from outdoor carpets to hanging lanterns to collapsible storage chests that double as seats) or any of my great cold-weather gear due to a combination of space concerns and just plain absent-mindedness. (I didn’t bring long underwear or even a winter hat!)

So Dad and I got a platform built, out of scavenged timbers from the fallen barn on my sister’s farm, and some plywood Dad had, and some scraps, and then everybody got home from the farmer’s market and we came out and set up. 

The issue we had was that the platform was built to be a 12′x12′ square and the yurt was… bigger than that. I feel like a 12′ diameter circle should fit pretty nicely on a 12′ square but it Did Not. So we had to… squish it, and tighten the bands down correspondingly, which you can do to an extent– it makes the roof a little higher, you just have to stay within a certain angle for the roof rafters so they don’t pop out– and it then made everything a little bit wonky from there on out. So today I have to find some more timber and shim out the platform to be a little bigger, wiggle the whole thing around to see if i can get it to settle better, and then try to tighten up the canvas everywhere. I also had bought rolls of radiant-barrier bubble insulation that I didn’t bother fussing with when I had all these people standing around waiting for me to tell them what to do, so I’ll put that on.

As soon as we got the thing all the way up, one of my sister’s cats came and investigated, including going inside it. Another of her cats came and there was some mutual stalking going on (they aren’t enemies, but they’re not soulmates either), including a romp through Dad’s Jeep and over its roof. We persuaded the shy, claustrophobic family dog that it was okay to come inside, and there was much wagging. 

And then the child came, and had to be talked into going inside (I think she thought there was some kind of trick), but then she had to play hide-and-seek in it, which at her age is mostly going and standing in a spot and waiting for someone to feign surprise. 
At some point during this process she filled her diaper, so my ger is officially a home now, having been pooped-in. Relatedly, the farm’s interns (the two farm-hands are interns who are paid a stipend and given room and board and their labor is structured to a curriculum designed to teach them organic farming) have been working on building projects, since a large part of farming is building things and working with tools. One of them has been constructing an outhouse, to hold a composting toilet to serve the fields and greenhouses– and my yurt. So that’s going up soon, close but not stinky-close to me, and I’m very pleased. 

Anyway. That’s my yurt story so far. 
This is the culvert the child threw a tantrum because I wouldn't crawl through!
Farm life. This is the farm and the sister and her daughter. Also her cat Reno– the child, 1.5 yrs, was able to identify catnip growing in that pot among the weeds, and give that to the cat until he was stoned off his gourd. And some chickens and my first photo of this year’s Thanksgiving turkeys. 



September 2017

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