|No more tarps on the wood pile!|
It's been hot this summer. In the past we'd always been able to keep the house comfortable by opening the windows to let in the cool night air and closing them as the heat of the day began. Huge maples shade the house, and we were always able to keep it at least 10 degrees cooler than the outside air this way. This year, however, the night time lows haven't been living up to their name, and made that technique unworkable. So now I sit in a room with the AC blasting away, doing something I'd prided myself on doing without, and increasing my dependence upon the grid. Today is supposed to hit 89 degrees, but the humidity is forecast to put the heat index at over 95 degrees. The horses don't stand panting with their tongues out as the cows would be, but they're covered with sweat as they stand in the barn to avoid the torment of monster sized horseflies. We're both thankful that the weather hasn't allowed us to put up any hay recently.
For all the heat, I would normally expect our pastures to be brown and crispy as with most years in August when I reluctantly feed out the hay we've just put up. This year, however, we've had rain, and lots of it. I've been scanning the forecasts for a weather window to cut our hay, and haven't seen one for a month now. Without the cows to feed, I think we may actually be self sufficient in hay for the first time. Assuming I'm able to eventually cut what remains in the field, that is. As an added bonus to all the rain, we've had a bumper crop of chanterelles and chicken of the woods mushrooms this year.
My health is much improved from earlier in the year, enabling me to catch up on delayed projects like the wood shed. It's essentially finished now, aside from some doors I need to put up before the snow flies. My best guess is now that the flu triggered a leaky gut, which lead to extreme food sensitivity and created the reactive arthritis symptoms. That's the problem I've been treating anyway, and I'm making slow but measured improvement. The "swollen thyroid", as I learned from a belated visit to the overbooked endocrinologist, isn't actually my thyroid, but is rather a thyroglossal cyst, and is basically just an annoying benign lump that will be most likely be surgically removed.
Sighting in a bow or rifle has been a neglected task since we moved here. Shooting the bow meant putting out a few straw bales, trying to prop them up so they don't fall over, and then hauling them back to the barn (or more likely, letting them stay out in the rain to get ruined). For the guns, I've been shooting into an old garbage can filled with wood chips and sand. Both made for poor backstops, so I finally got around to setting up something a little more permanent. Both are set up with locust posts and a tin roof made from barn leftovers. The archery backstop is basically a frame to hold and protect three straw bales. The rifle backstop is a wooden box filled with sand and lined with rubber to keep the sand from spilling out after shots put holes in the wood. I even thought to bury cobble sized stones every 10 yards down range as distance markers so that I won't have to pace out distances every time I shoot.
In the interest of getting things done without manufactured or purchased inputs, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make my own ink and write with a quill pen. Fortunately, I live in a location where three essential ingredients are found: turkeys, black walnuts, and cherry trees. Turkey flight feathers provide nice strong quills, black walnut husks make an excellent ink, and gum gathered from the trunk of cherry trees (when they're attacked by insects) thickens the ink.
Results thus far have been mixed, but I still enjoy working at it. The quills need to be soaked and then hardened in hot sand and cut just right, with the nib split so that the ink wicks all the way to the tip. The ink needs to be just the right viscosity, which is thicker than that used with metal nibs. Sometimes it goes very well, and other times I have trouble getting enough ink on the quill without having it spill out, so I've been starting the freshly dipped quill on a piece of scrap paper until the ink flow seems about right. Writing left-handed with a "hook" is a much greater impediment with this type of writing than it is with a ball-point pen, as I have to take great pains to ensure I don't smear the ink with my hand following the quill.
Whereas finding a turkey feather in the woods was a mild curiosity before, I now get quite excited about it. I don't think they'll really wear out so fast once I've got everything figured out, but at this stage I've been going through quite a few as I try different cutting techniques for shaping the nib.
I see that Back-stabbed Bernie has come up with a new bill to do wonderful things. I don't really expect congress to do much with it, but taxing employers for the social subsidies claimed by their underpaid employees sounds to me like an *excellent* idea. Wal-Mart is known for providing food-stamp applications to their new hires, because it knows they'll qualify on the wages they'll be making, thereby getting you and I to subsidize the Walton heirs. Yes, many businesses will likely fail if such a law is passed (oh no! No fast-food joints and less industrialized agriculture!? The horror!), but if they can't stand on their own two feet, they weren't really viable businesses now, were they? Seems like a perfect way to Make America Great Again.