Puppy Cuddles

Cashew did not start out as an especially cuddly dog. Cashew was the first pure-bred dog i had ever owned. I was used to taking in rescues and strays. They were oh so grateful just to have a human who loved them, a roof over their head, a warm place to sleep, and food in their bowl daily. Every rescue i had was very cuddly and affectionate. I had been warned that aussies had very independent personalities. For the first couple months that i had her, Cashew didn’t want to be held, stroked, or rocked. She wanted to do everything herself and she didn’t go for any of that sissy cuddling crap. It kind of broke my heart. Here i had this animal that i was supposed to love and protect, and every way i knew to bond with her was like fingernails down a chalkboard to the dog. In the past i had tried to adopt a child from a foreign country. I was warned that children who had grown to a certain age without parental guidance, love and protection would learn to fend for themselves. I was warned that once i brought my new child home and installed them into the house, they would not suddenly run to my room for comfort in the middle of a storm, ask my help when they were stumped at how to fasten buttons on their clothing, or sit in my lap during our down-time. I was warned that these children had long ago stopped seeking soothing or comfort from others during times of fear, stress, or uncertainty. They would eat the food cooked for them, wear the clothes purchased for them, and sleep in the dora the explorer or batman bed so lovingly made-up for them. However, one could not expect them to just suddenly understand affection and throw their arms around their new adoptive parent and seek them out when there was lightening in the middle of the night. We were told to be patient. There was no guarantee the child would ever learn what it was to count on another human being and develop a relationship of trust and affection with their new parent or siblings. It was a possibility but it couldn’t be rushed. It was just one of those things you had to try your hardest at, exercise infinite patience, and hope for the best. Cashew reminded me of these children. She was fiercely independent. She didn’t need me for anything. She didn’t seek me when she was scared. In fact, i’d never seen her scared. She came in to eat and sleep. She never licked my hand. She never looked me in the eye. She never laid next to me or allowed me to hold her. Much like those children who had made their start in a concrete institution, Cashew was a beautiful, healthy dog that was not attached to me in any way. I had to make peace with the idea that this might be her personality. She might never come in for a cuddle like my Sili, but she was an excellent guard dog against everything from coyotes to armadillos. She was good at what she was bred to do. I had to give her that. I was impressed with her set of skills even if she had no fondness for me. I couldn’t help but admire her strengths. However, on hard days, when she had pooped, peed, shredded things, and flung all of it across the house in a tornadic motion, when she was standing in the middle of it without a care in the world, it was hard for me. It was harder for me to forgive her trespasses than it was for me to do the same for Sili, for my brain was full of fond memories of tenderness with Sili. She was a cuddler. She looked to me when scared. She tried to hide behind me during storms. She looked into my eyes and formed expressions on her face. I could draw on all these memories when she was being naughty to remind me that i loved Sili. I had to try harder and say it more often with Cashew. I often wondered if i had done the right thing in bringing her to our property and adding her to our little family. However, i had made a commitment when i put her in the car in lockhart, and come what may, no matter what kind of personality she turned out to have, i was her mother. Whether she viewed me as “dispenser of kibble” or “mom”, she was my responsibility and it was my job to rear her up with the same love i extended Sili. It was a delicate balance too. I had to be more strict with Cashew. I couldn’t ever budge from that bottom line because if i gave her an inch she took a mile. Sili was hurt and offended if she felt i was angry with her. To tell her i was disappointed in her behavior was enough to make her avoid her bone and treats for a day. It was not so with Cashew. Cashew had to be disciplined by a more concrete reward and consequence system. My favor was not something she sought or valued in the beginning. She did not care whether i was upset with her. She’d happily chew her bone in time out. She was unashamed. My approach with her had to be completely different from my approach with Sili. If she peed on the pad, she got free time on the land with sili, unsupervised. If she peed adjacent to the pad, she stayed inside with me while Sili had free time outside by herself. If she responded to a command she got a treat, if she didn’t she got nothing. If she waited quietly in a seated position while i prepared her food she got to eat. If she barked, whined, and destroyed the door, i put the food back in the refrigerator and didn’t bring it out again until she was quiet. Originally i knew nothing about dog training. Sili was trained beautifully by one of the best dog trainers i will ever have the privilege of knowing. However, to my horror, she retired. She would not be training Cashew. I wanted the dogs to know the same hand signals, verbal commands, and tricks. I didn’t want to have to give a different command to each dog to get them to do something. I didn’t want one that knew sit and stay while the other had more in their bag of tricks such as “leave it” and “load up”. I searched for weeks for someone that would train Cashew using the retired trainer’s commands and techniques. Each trainer i encountered wanted to do it their way, not emulate a retired trainer’s style. They refused to use the specific commands Sili knew and many told me “it’s impossible to make a dog do specific tasks like that. We can train your dog to sit, stay, come, or lay down. Shake and roll over are options for an extra fee, but we cannot train your dog to jump up on the car seat.” I thought, “it’s not impossible because my older dog does it, daily.” But, they were not interested in hearing what i needed the puppy to know…only making a sale. I was done. Much like the home improvement and repair projects i took over, it would be easier to train her myself than it would be to talk sense into one of the trainers i had spoken to. So i took my former dog trainer’s technique and i used it as best i could. I used Sili as an example. I let Cashew watch Sili respond to my commands. I let Cashew watch Sili get a treat for the desired response to a command. Then i put Sili inside and focused my attention on Cashew. When she did the behavior desired in response to a command a treat was produced and my voice became very high pitched and she was given a bit of praise. If she did not perform the desired task in response to a command i gave her a few seconds, redirected her attention, and tried again. We would work a little each night right before supper. To drill her constantly would make her sick of training, but we worked a little each night. We dipped her toes back into that pool each night before dinner. They say aussies are very easy to train because they’re smart. That’s not entirely true. They are very smart and they will get your meaning right away. It is up to you to convince them that your meaning is something they care about. Cashew would have been very happy steering the ship with Sili and i as passengers. If you want an independent dog to follow you, that’s something you have to work at. It was very hard for me to train Cashew. I felt like i was working with a stranger. Had she been a child it would have been my job to hide that notion from her, so i did my best to keep that feeling to myself. The first thing i noticed was the tail wagging. I gave Cashew a command one evening. She followed it and i praised her. Suddenly her little stump of a tail wagged. It was the first time i had seen her respond to my praise. I asked her to follow another command. She listened attentively, making perfect eye contact, watching me with those bright brown eyes. She followed the command perfectly. With excitement and pride for her efforts in my voice i praised her again and rubbed her back. Her tail wagged faster. I was thrilled to see her respond to anything coming from me in a visible way. Over the next few weeks whenever she had done something i didn’t allow in the household i would lower my voice and give her a serious tone, a stern expression, and a short “no”. If the behavior persisted i would flip her on her back and hold her on the ground to show dominance. When she followed a command or held her potty, or even used the pee pad correctly i made my voice higher, smiled, and said “good job! Good job Cashew!” Each time my voice went high her little stumpy tail wagged a million miles an hour. I was forming a bond with my little stranger. I had to balance training time with cashew, quality time with sili, and together time because sili was getting jealous as i tried desperately to blow on the emerging flames of the little camp fire of trust and attachment i had been trying to build with cashew for so many weeks. As Cashew watched Sili sit in my lap and cuddle up to me, she started trying those things out to see what the fuss was about. She would come over and plop herself in my lap. If i moved or touched her she would take off but if i sat very still she would rest her head against my leg and take a nap. Over time she became more comfortable with me. My fiercely independent little one developed a softer side that few knew about. She was still a bull in a china shop. She was still rowdy, wild, and unapologetic about many things. She was bold, full of energy, and fearless. I called her my tornado of chaos. However, she began to notice me even when i wasn’t speaking. She would look for me in the yard and follow me or walk ahead of me wherever i was going as i went through the chores. Periodically she would check in by circling back and touching my leg with her nose. There would be kinks to work out. There was a period in which she tried to herd me. There was a period of head butting. There was a period of toe biting. Certain behaviors had to be ironed out and worked on. However, the fire was ignited, the seed had sprouted, the bond was there. It didn’t come easy like it did with Sili, but it was there and it was getting stronger by the day. There would come a time where i could lay on the floor and both dogs would run to me and snuggle up against my torso. That is when i knew i had accomplished what i set out to do. Cashew was no longer a good working dog. She was a good working dog and 1 of my 2 furry children.

Horseplay in the Chicken Run

It’s not always about the projects or the chores here on the homestead. Sometimes its about spending quality time with the dogs. I have to remind myself to slow down and pause every once in a while because they don’t live to 100 like we do. I get 15, maybe 20 years with them and that’s it. You have to make time for play because if you say “once i finish this project…” there will always be another project behind it. You have to go outside, throw a stick around, chase some geese or armadillos, and watch the dogs enjoy running free because you may have “later” but they don’t.

It’s What’s for Supper

Okay, the first picture shown is my peanut butter banana cookie dough vegan smoothie. There are these oat bars. Bob’s red mill makes them. They have a peanut butter, coconut, oat, honey bar that tastes just like a chewy peanut butter cookie; the kind grown ups used to give you for free in the grocery store as a kid so you’d be quiet long enough for your mom to really buy some merchandise. Anyways, i got a hankering for something sweet one weekend and i wanted a vegan cookie dough smoothie. So i put frozen bananas, pacific brand vanilla hemp milk, and organic crunchy peanut butter in a blender. I ran the blender until the mixture was thick and smooth. Then i broke the peanut oat bar into chunks and sprinkled them into the blender. I pushed “pulse” just to stir the pieces in a bit and then i spooned it into a cup. It was to die for. Really hit the spot! The squash, potatoes, and spinach pictured above are grown by local farmers in the area. If you’ve never gone to a farm stand and purchased a giant bag of fresh cut spinach, then gone home, washed the dirt off of it, and wilted it in a skillet with nothing but salt and pepper, you have never lived. It is a flavor that doesn’t resemble frozen or canned spinach at all. It is absolutely scrumptious. I get excited every time i see those big bags of leafy goodness in the market. It might as well be cotton candy to me. The pinto beans are also grown locally by farmers in the area. I bought them fresh, some of them still in the bean pod. I had never had fresh beans right off the plant before. This was a first for me. They were brightly colored robust little pebbles and they smelled kind of like plants. I cooked them in my instant pot in salted water. I never knew beans could be so good. They were fall apart in your mouth soft and they had a savory flavor, a freshness, that i have never associated with beans. I dont know how to describe it. Sometimes when i buy veggies from the farmers instead of the store, they just taste brighter. That’s the best way i know how to explain it. Anyways, i ate those beans on everything from rice to baked potatoes for a whole week. I even made bean salad with avocado and local tomatoes and lemon. If i ever see them at the market again (next year) i’ll get another bag in a heartbeat. The soup might not look like much but it is sweet as candy. It is the japanese sweet potato soup from the casa de luz recipe book. First of all, my mother heard me say i wanted that cookbook but couldn’t see how anyone would pay that much for one little cookbook with such wholesome but simple recipes in it. When my birthday came around, she got that cookbook, wrapped it, and drove it all the way out to the country to give it to me. I couldnt believe she’d paid all that for this book when she’d made much more complex recipes herself. But alas, i loved simplistic, no-fuss recipes, comfort food with little fan fair, and vegan of course. I wanted that recipe book more than i was ready to admit to myself, and my mother somehow recognized this in the few moments i was flipping through the pages, willing myself to leave it behind. In that recipe book is one of my all time favorite foods; japanese yams. You can’t get those in the hill country. So, the very next time i went up to visit my mother, she had a big old grocery bag of japanese yams that she deposited into my car. She might as well have given me gold bars. I took those yams back to the hill country and carefully placed them on the bottom shelf of my pantry cabinet. I had gold in my cabinet! I used some of those japanese yams to make the wonderful soup and i ate the rest plain; standing over the sink, holding the halves of the yams in my hands like a heathen. They were like starchy little pieces of sugar. It was wonderful.

50% Done

My coworker’s husband and father-in-law were electricians. For a more than reasonable fee, they came out to the property and made an outlet for the samsung front-loading washing machine. Then I could plug it in. I thought that would be the end of it. Silly me. First i realized that the tubes were hooked on backwards so i grabbed my tool box and unscrewed all of them. When i had switched them i thought for sure it would run like clockwork. Nobody told me that the drainage tube was on the floor. I figured it out though when i suddenly became wet. Immediately panic set in as i ran around the side of the machine pushing buttons, trying to turn it off before it went any further in the washing process. I grabbed hold of the giant drainage tube and held it towards the ceiling. Gravity stopped the flow of water. Once i had set towels down to soak up the foul smelling water that had spilled i turned back to the tube in my hand. There was no round area on the wall that would fit a tube this size. I scratched my head. There was a little square that looked like a sink basin with an air vent in it. I ran to the outside of the house and tried to see if it led anywhere. It did. It lead to the septic tank but i didn’t know that at the time. With no tunnel leading outside i wasn’t sure where this indoor sink-cubby thing led. Perhaps it was just a shelf and would back up liquid until it poured on the floor again. I couldn’t find anywhere else this tube might fit so i dumped it in there and hoped for the best as i turned the machine on once again. I could clearly hear water draining through the tube but there was none coming out of the cubby. Wherever it led, the water was going there and not inside the house. I watched as the clothes began to spin around behind the front window of the machine. I breathed a sigh of relief. The sink-looking cubby was obviously where the tube was supposed to go. Houston, we have lift off.

Ants in the Pants

When you cart a reel mower around 2 acres of tall grass you’re gonna learn a thing or two about ants. The most disastrous thing you can do while pushing a reel mower is run right into an ant hill because it will projectile fling ants in all different directions; all over your torso and legs and depending on how fast you were going, sometimes even in your hair. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever met fire ants but you don’t want them in your hair. I actually have 2 different types of carpenter ants, citronella ants, sugar ants, and fire ants on my property. If anyone needs to know what they have, send me a picture and i can identify them for you because if its an ant and its living, chances are i have it. The first time i mowed the lawn i mowed right into at least 3 ant hills. They were concealed by the tall grass. As soon as the blades hit the dirt i knew i’d messed up. I watched as ants went flying through the air; seemingly in slow motion. Pretty soon it was raining relentless little dots of fire. They were crawling all over my shirt and through my hair. I was running around the yard like somebody had set my tail ablaze, swatting and frantically flailing about. It didn’t take me long to realize i needed to make a few modifications to my methods. I will now share my hard earned wisdom so that others may avoid repeating my mistakes. First of all, trade in your tennis shoes for a pair of high lacing boots. Then, don’t lace them. You want to be able to slip them off at a moment’s notice. If you find yourself standing in a swimming mass of insects, you don’t want to be fiddling with the double-knotted bows like an idiot. Second, wear loose pants and leave the drawstring hanging. If those suckers head up your legs, you don’t want to be the dainty proper girl standing in the yard being eaten alive while picking ants one by one from the upturned edges of your neatly folded and rolled pants legs. Rip em off and swat like ****. Nobody has time for that. If you wanna live, take the **** pants off. Whose gonna look, squirrels? Third of all, and this one is most important; run like ****. I learned, even if you do step on an unforseen anthill, if you can avoid lingering, you can get in and out before they sound the alarm and swarm you. If you keep moving you’re probably safe. If you stop for even a second, that’s all the time they need to latch on. So, it looks funny, because it appears to the naked eye that you’ve lost your **** mind and are sprinting to the end of some kind of triathlon involving a lawn mower. But, in actuality, you are getting shit done while outrunning thousands of little animals that would have you writhing in agony in a second while their buddies covered you up to your eyeballs in some sick mummification process called “puss-filled hives”, and that is what we call living in harmony with nature.

The Lawnmower Arrives

The sellers mentioned that there were a lot of stumps and rocks that would have to be removed before one could mow the lawn with any kind of machine they wanted to keep long-term. I heard the words but i was busy trying to convince the bank to buy this thing and was focused on other more important things than stumps at the time. Once i had bought the place i walked around in the grass a bit and realized, they weren’t talking about a few big tree stumps here and there. There were hundreds of little cylinders sticking out of the grass where someone had chopped down a young tree and neglected to either level it to the ground or dig the base of it up. The sellers had suggested i get some volunteers from the nearby university; students who were young and able and may work for pizza or an extra 20 in their pocket. However, i didn’t like contracting the help of one person, much less 20 or 30. Too many variables involved. My idea of an eternity of punishment was being instated as an event planner with an inability to quit or be fired. It wasn’t on my bucket list of things to do. When i thought of planning projects or events that involved more than 2 people my mind immediately flashed to that eds commercial where they showed cowboys on horseback herding thousands of cats across the plains. They were covered in scratch marks and trying to get cats out of trees while said cats attempted to shred their faces. This was how i envisioned a home project involving 30 people going. So i found another way around my lawn problem. I bought a 5 blade reel mower off walmart.com and had it delivered to the post office. I read the instructions and put the thing together piece by piece. It was one of my favorite posessions immediately. It wasn’t powered by electricity or gas. It was powered by me. I pushed the mower, the blades turned, and the grass got cut. Maintaining 2 acres with a reel mower means keeping around 1 acre of area mowed down each month. It was not easy. During spring it rained quite often. Before the grass died off in the summer heat i spent every evening mowing a section of the property after work. If i did this, the property was perpetually “under control” in terms of grass height, though each section was in a slightly different phase of growth. I had to make sure i didn’t let the grass grow more than 3 or 4 inches or the reel mower wouldn’t be able to cut it. It would just roll right over the top of the grass, laying it down but not slicing. So i spent a lot of time mowing the yard. It was a lot of time i could have been doing other things. However, it kept me in incredible shape, got me out in the sun for some vitamin d, and it was bonding time in the yard with the dogs every night. It was a routine i enjoyed. My neighbors mowed their grass with riding mowers and tractors. They had many more acres than me. I could make it work with the reel mower on 2 acres. That was our lawn mower. It worked for us. It was a cherished and useful tool and i had no plans to replace it any time soon. I did notice that people would drive by the gate really slowly when i would be out there mowing 2 acres with a reel mower from Walmart.

A Gift from a Friend

This post is difficult for me to write because it touches on the story of a beautiful soul and a very elegant friend of mine who is full of grace and compassion towards her fellow human. However, her story is not a straight path through gentle rolling fields. Her life has seen both joy and sorrow in abundance. Though i admire her greatly for her faith and endurance, her story is not mine to tell. My sweet friend and her husband are the reason i am homesteading. They needed a regular house sitter that could care for the plants, the wildlife, and the cat for a few days at a moment’s notice. My friend and her husband had a large piece of land with a big garden, fruit trees, and a pond full of fish. They had an abundance of bambis that visited daily and a very particular cat. Out each window was trees. You could not see the street. You could not hear a car. All you could see was grass, bambis, and trees. Every time i house-sat i took sili, my knitting, and some local vegetables to cook. I loved every minute of it. That place was so peaceful and quiet. When the sun set there were no street lights. When the sun set, that was it. It was dark, and i mean pitch dark. Whatever you’d been doing, you were done. There were hummingbirds and cardinals everywhere. It didn’t matter how horrible the day had been in town. Once i got in the car and drove two towns over to get to their property; once i pulled down their long drive and parked in front of the house surrounded by bambis, birds, and trees; nothing could ruin that peace. Nothing from the outside world could reach me. My soul was at peace. My heart was experiencing joy, for the first time in a very long time. I hadn’t known existing could feel fulfilling. It took work to run their place and every day after work i set to it. When the sun finally set and i had done everything i needed to do i collapsed on their couch, exhausted but feeling accomplished. I took a brief rest and then got back up to cook from scratch in their beautiful kitchen with the window looking out upon the wildlife. There was no curtain but it didn’t matter because there were no other people, just animals. In the spare room where i stayed was a wall full of canning jars. They had dates and titles on them. It was like a chronicle of fruit from the trees and veggies from the garden each year. Their land and the life they’d built upon it was beautiful. Their trees were established and producing fruit. Their pond had big fish in it. Their birds knew where the feeders were and their bambis had become used to their presence. It wasn’t until they would return to the house and i would have to go back to my apartment that i would realize how healthy my soul felt in the wilderness and how sick i felt when i was away from it. I also realized how much i enjoyed the solitude. Being away from humans for a while was like recharging AA batteries for me. I lived in anticipation of the next time they required a house sitter. One day i was standing in the kitchen making dinner in my one-bedroom apartment. I was trying to calculate the age at which i would have enough money saved to pay for 1 surrogacy attempt. If i was able to continue saving at the rate i was, i would have enough money to fund a surrogacy at age 50. I thought about how tired i was in that moment and realized how tired i’d be in twenty years; when my body could no longer run on 2 hours of sleep and a quarter jar of instant coffee, when i’d pulled a few more muscles, torn a few more tendons, and dislocated a hip or knee one or two more times. I didn’t want to be in a pool or running around a playground after someone at 50 or 60 years of age. I wanted to be slowing down. I knew in that moment that i could not continue to ear-mark that money for the purpose of eventual motherhood. It was a dream i’d have to let go of, as so many had done before me. It was something i’d been sorrowful and anxiety-filled about for so long. I’d been running away from the inevitability of closing the door on that for so long, when i finally said it out loud it landed with an unexpected peace and acceptance on my heart. I was talking to a friend on the phone that night and she said that if she had the nest egg i’d saved she would buy a house. I thought to myself, “A house is unimportant to me. What would i want with a house? An apartment is a dwelling with walls and a roof just the same as a house, just cheaper.” The aspect of owning walls rather than renting them did not interest me. However, land….land i would be interested in owning. Suddenly an idea was born in me. The bambis…i could have my own bambis, my own birds, and my own trees. I would make a safe space for the wildlife on my little piece of land, and nobody would hunt, trap, or domesticate anything as long as it roamed through my little slice of wilderness. I set out trying to find the right piece of wilderness for Sili and I from that moment forward. Months later i would be visiting my sweet friend who owned the land with all the bambis on it. She would say to me, “Do you want some chives? I have a chive plant over here. You can take it with you.” I felt guilty. I had spent the night talking about what had gone wrong in my life when my friend had endured ten-fold whatever i was whining about and with no complaint or anger in her voice. She listened to me in my time of weakness though i should have extended a shoulder to her and said, “lean here and rest for a while.” I was not a good friend to her in that moment. I didn’t put her struggles above my own and instead of saying, “how dare you lay your troubles on my table. Can’t you see i’m walking through something difficult?” She met me with kindness undeserved, a listening ear, and a chives plant; my favorite herb in a pot that happened to be my favorite color. She gifted the plant to me for the property. I was afraid to cut a piece from it for the first few months i owned it, as i knew i hadn’t deserved it. However, over time i made peace with the plant and began including the chives in my cooking. I think of my friend every time i cut a strand for a recipe and i hope in the depths of my heart that she knows how sorry i am that i was not there for her when i should have been and how deeply i admire and respect her for her ability to follow the example of gentleness, compassion, and humility Christ gave to us.

Clearing Cedars

One of the neat things about Cedar trees is their uncanny ability to reproduce like jack rabbits. There will be one big old cedar tree and 40 little ones gathered around it; where the pollen fell last year. I went through the whole 2 acres with the blue tool pictured above and cut down the baby cedars when they were only inches tall. There were hundreds of them. Just combing the woods and the grass for them was time consuming, painstaking work. Cashew followed me wherever i went. She was always underfoot; in my way. So i said to her, “Make yourself useful. You see this? Find me one of these.” I picked up a baby cedar i had cut and brought it to her face. She sniffed it. She took it from me and laid it on the ground. I thought she would sit down and chew her new stick, but she didn’t. Instead she disappeared into the woods. I went back to looking for baby cedars. Suddenly i heard barking. It was Cashew’s bark. I made my way through the trees in the direction of all the noise. I expected to see a poor armadillo or a possum but that wasn’t what she had. She’d found me a cedar tree. As i looked, there, in the dirt, was a baby cedar tree. I stared at her in awe. Somehow, i’d just trained my dog to find cedar saplings. I thought, “maybe it was a one-off.” So i held it up to her face and praised her, scratching her behind the ears and saying in a baby-talk voice, “Good dog. Good dog!” Then i held the little bitty tree up and said “Go get it.” She ran off. Within seconds i heard barking. I ran to where she was. To my amazement, she was standing right over a baby cedar tree wagging her stump of a tail. I couldn’t believe it. The dog had learned a new skill, one that i hadn’t thought it possible to teach her. Amazing. All afternoon she sniffed out the cedars and i cut them down. Then i went around with my wheel barrow and collected all the baby cedar trees for the brush pile. Not all of the tree clearing work we had to do involved the baby cedars. Some of the cedar trees had dead or broken branches. I trimmed those off with Cashew in tow and when it came time to drag the giant branches to the brush pile Cashew would clamp her jaw down on the end of the branch that i was not holding and try to run while lifting it just about an inch off the ground. She was helping, or trying to steal the branch. One of the two. She helped me drag the branches to the brush pile and then sat back and watched as i tossed each branch on top. There was only one thing left to do. I needed to cut down a juvenile cedar tree that was blocking sunlight in my fruit tree area. I needed to prepare the space for future fruit trees. So, i bought a handheld saw. I went over to the tree and began trimming the branches off one by one with my blue tool. When i had most of them removed from one side of the tree, i put my saw against the trunk of the tree and made a nick. I set the saw blade in the slight indentation and began pulling the blade back and forth in a rhythmic motion. At once the saw began traveling through the wood like butter. When the saw reached the other side the cedar fell and i had a juvenile cedar tree on the ground. I felt so able to manipulate the lanscape of the yard. I knew then that i could solve any light or resource problem that arose on my property. If i needed more light or water for a different tree, i could just cut the juvenile cedar trees down. If i needed wood for a fire, well there were 100 juvenile cedars that looked just like this one that sprang up each year. I could just clear a few. The sun was hanging low in the sky so i called it quits for the day. However the following morning, i threw the juvenile cedar tree in the brush pile and i went to the tool shed to get my axe. I chopped the remaining stump into little pieces and pried them from the ground with the blade of my shovel. With the cedars copulating on a regular basis it seemed i would have an infinite amount of wood for the fire pit during winter. I quickly decided the handheld saw was my favorite tool in the shed. There’s nothing like a tool that can be used to realize your vision for a landscape.

An All-Day Process

After my last experience with the laundromat i’d had enough. I vowed never to set foot in an establishment that didn’t allow my machete again. Another week came and went. It was Saturday. Come Monday i would need clean scrubs to wear to work. Just because i was living my little house on the prairie dream at home did not mean they wouldn’t hold me to 21st century standards in town. When i looked into what it would take to hand wash my laundry i came to three conclusions. 1. Vintage **** is expensive. 2. Laundry during those days was made better. 3. If you buy a piece of vintage laundry equipment you have to wait for shipping. I’d be doing laundry in 5 to 10 business days. At some point i just accepted that it was going to be an all day process with mostly macgyvered materials. I was right. From sun up to sun down my day revolved around the laundry. I would continue to set aside one whole day to do laundry each week until a coworker’s husband (an electrician) so graciously agreed to trek into the woods to create an outlet for the washing machine for a discounted fee. I could not scrub my laundry against a washboard because the thread-bare and poorly-made modern garments would come apart and disentigrate. I had to rethink this hand-washing idea. I decided to use the bath tub and a broom handle to stir and agitate the laundry. At least, that was the plan. However, when i got down to it my two good old fashioned hands were a way better washing machine agitator than the wooden stick. I leaned over the tub and stirred the garments all around in the soapy water, rolling them over and swishing them under one another with my hands. I had to do the laundry in batches because only a handful of garments would fit in the tub at one time. I rang as much of the soapy water out of each garment as i could before tossing them into a cold bucket of fresh water to rinse the residual soap out. I rung the garments out by hand once again over the porch steps and hung them on the laundry line to dry. I did this for 8 hours. All of the laundry was clean, sweet smelling, and wrinkle free. I was absolutely exhausted and my hands were raw and red. However, i did not have to relinquish my weapon and the clothes got washed.