Monday, April 20, 2015

The Big Life Update Post

        Here it is, folks! The long-awaited post in which I fill y'all in on what I've been doing in the past five months. Yes, it's been that long since I really talked about current happenings in my life. Why? Because of current happenings in my life, of course! I think this is the busiest I've ever been before. It's bad. But it's not quite as bad as it could be. I have a lot of things to be thankful for, and I try to remember that. :)
         The main reason is school. It's my first semester full-time in college (going to a JC), and that takes up a lot of my time. I'm now glad I only have 14 units instead of the 17 I was originally planning since I have a lot of other stuff going on as well. I am at school on Tuesdays and Thursdays from pretty much the morning until 3:15, during which time I attend three classes. Statistics is first, from 9-10:50. That's by far my easiest class. It would be awfully boring, but the teacher is great. Yeah, I don't need to go over everything as much as *ahem* some people in the class, but she is hilarious and keeps us amused. She says the funniest stuff sometimes and is all around a fun professor. Near the beginning of the semester, she was coughing a bit and she pretended to choke and fall over. That kind of stuffs. She's great. Also, she lets us out early a lot, which is always nice. My next class, Comparative Politics,  is right away at 11. It's not the most interesting, but I just have to sit there and take notes. That's over at 12:20, and I have a forty minute break until my last class. I finally have a friend at school (it took three semesters but finally happened), so we spend that time wandering around campus or sitting in the sun talking. He's only taking one class this semester, Statistics, but he works at the college so he's still there. We also hang out if we get out of math early and he walks me to my class. We talk about movies and other stuffs - he likes outdoorsy things, so even if he doesn't quite understand my love of mud and goats and gardens and guns, he can still listen. :) He's a city boy, but he likes my country stuff. He's come out to our land in the valley a few times, and loves snuggling the animals and hiking around. Speaking of such...
        Many new adventures have been taking place out there! I have so much to fill y'all in with regard to our little homestead. What began on our 'postage stamp' property in the suburbs has expanded to 74 acres of gorgeous land about 15 minutes from our house (read about it here). No, we're not using nearly all of that land at the moment, but we have learned so much and had so much fun in the past four months there that I'm sure we won't be stopping any time soon! I suppose we could start with the animals.
        As far as goats go, we just have two right now. We had two of Lilly's babies for a while - longer than I would have liked as they were not my favorites - but my mom sold them a few days ago. Now we just have Gingersnap, a Nigerian Dwarf, and Sunflower (Sunny), an Alpine/Boer cross.



        Gingersnap is polled and triple registered, so my mom plans to use her for her breeding experiment. Have I told y'all about this yet? No? All right, get ready for a goat genetics lesson. :) Polled goats are rare. People breed for the hornless trait all the time and prefer naturally hornless animals, since otherwise they have to disbud. (I say 'have to' disbud because that is the opinion of a lot of people, not because I personally think it is necessary. It has to do with most people around here showing and not educating themselves on goat horns.) Hardly anyone actually understands how the genes work, though, so there is a lot of false information and advertising out there. To my knowledge, as my mom is big on genetics and has done a LOT of research on this topic, here's how it works. The polled gene is dominant, which was a big surprise when we found out. We asked "Well, if that is so, how come there are so few polled goats out there?" The reason is that if you breed polled to polled, you often end up with hermaphrodites, which are goats with both male and female organs. This makes them sterile, of course, so not any good for breeding or milk. Especially with dairy goats, this isn't a good thing; since they are so small the hermaphrodites, which are, in effect, wethers, aren't really any good even for meat. Plus, since there is such widespread ignorance on the topic, most people have just heard NEVER EVER EVER BREED POLLED TO POLLED and that scares them. The truth is that it's not that bad, you'll just end up with 50% of your females sterile.
        Anyway. My mom finally got to the bottom of how it all works, and she got an idea. Because people only breed polled goats to horned ones, the polled babies are always heterozygous. Pp, if you know what that means. Thus when bred to pp, only half the babies come out polled.

        People have pretty much accepted that as a fact of life. However, my mom got the bright idea that if someone (her) were to breed a homozygous buck and then do stud service, all of his babies would be polled and that would be very profitable. Long story short, Gingersnap is the beginning of this endeavor. It will take a few years of breeding and testing and probably quite a few hermaphrodites that might end up in the pot, but it looks as though it will turn out well. I'm going on a bit of a ramble here and this goat isn't even out in the valley yet, but she also bought another polled doeling recently for the same purpose. Gwendolyn is currently at our house because 1) she's still on a bottle, and 2) she wasn't well cared for at the place we got her from so we fixin' her up here. She was undernourished, neglected, covered in lice - well, you get the picture. I'll stop now.
        Sunny is an Alpine/Boer cross, so a dual purpose breed. We'll breed her with a Boer so her babies will probably be dinner, and we'll still be able to milk her. Now, I know you're probably going Oh poor babies!, but we do have our reasons. It has become increasingly important to our family in the last couple years to be conscious and careful of what we put into our bodies. We always ate pretty healthy, but as we've learned more about what the food in the stores is actually made out of (and yes, how the animals are treated), we've wanted to depart from the conventional ways. A big part of this is meat. Especially here in the SF Bay Area, good meat is very hard to find. It's also a lot more expensive than in other places - trust me, I've seen. As we also had an increasing interest in being more self-sufficient, we've linked the two together and begun learning about how to raise and process our own healthy and humanely treated meat. This was probably hardest for my mom since she was always sensitive to that sort of thing. See, I'm just as much of an animal lover as she is, but it was easier for me to say 'These animals are for food so I won't get attached to them', as opposed to our 'pets'. She does think it's important, though, and has been urging my brother and I to pursue hunting and raising meat animals. Oh look, I rambled again. On to the other animals.
        We still have our alpacas, Sheba and Sebastian. Also, Sheba-baby will hopefully be arriving in May. Yippee!

        We also have a hen a rooster, and ten chicks - all game birds. It was so nice to let the mother raise her babies naturally, out in a green field, after having done the brooder and artificial light deal so many times. I just sat out in the grass and watched them and thought, "This is the way it's meant to be." These pictures were from a few weeks ago so the chicks are a lot bigger now, but I haven't taken any more recently.

        We have a breeding trio of heritage turkeys, Israel, Leah, and Rachel. Guess who's the loved wife and who's the unloved one? :) If you don't know, read your Bible. My mom has a few eggs in the incubator, and Rachel's sitting on a nest of seventeen eggs.

        My mom got eight guineas a few months back that she kept out there. Four mysteriously disappeared, she brought one home (Peter, you'll hear more about him later), one more left, and now we have had two out there for a while.

        The fly tying chicks are still around, and it looks like we have two roosters and three hens. Pretty good, considering most of the eggs my mom bought turned out to be infertile.

       And now... *drum roll please* ... the newest addition to our little homestead: Tilly.

        She's a jersey calf, born on Pi Day (YAY!), and currently just a bit over a month old. I bought her off of Craigslist and she and I have become fast friends. Hint: it's the bottle. Nothing beats snuggling in the sun together, though, and I love how she comes loping all over the pasture after me. :)

        So those are the animals we have out there. Now for the non-living additions and discoveries. My brother found a zip line a couple weeks ago that goes across the creek - it's in almost perfect condition and just needed a bit of WD-40.

        The landing was a bit rough at first since there's no brake, but I've figured out how to do a little bounce and stay on my feet. Even when I rolled in the dirt, though, it was still amazingly fun! (That's my brother.)

        Even though we haven't had much rain to speak of after the storm in January, it's still pretty green, especially in the shade. Because it's so lovely out there, here is a picture I took the other day that is pretty. I like pretty things.

         Another thing that was keeping me pretty busy until a week ago was the annual trainings and actual trip our church's high school group does down to Tijuana. It's not a missions trip, as we aren't planting churches or anything, but it's a short term ministry trip for the purpose of helping already established churches and other members of the Body of Christ in whatever ways we can. I did a pretty extensive post on last year's trip so I won't go into that much detail of ever little thing we did, but I do have some things to share with y'all.
        For almost two months, every Sunday was spent almost entirely at church (or going to and from). We would leave at eight in the morning, not get back until after one, and then go for another four hours in the evening. Since I was on the construction team, we were trained in basic roofing, plumbing, and electrical, as well as how to use various power tools and such. We do so much at home that it wasn't much new stuff, but enough to still be interesting. We also had an hour and a half each week to go over our devotions for the week and pray for each other. I didn't say much, because, well, me, but it was great time.
        The actual trip was great too. I'm not a huge fan of the eleven hour bus rides - nobody is - but I love being down in Mexico. The people are really wonderful, so nice and friendly, and they're not completely obsessed with looking perfect and impressing everyone! It makes me wish I could speak Spanish and talk to them, but I suppose it is my own fault that I can't. Construction was much better than piddling around feeling useless at the church like I did last year. We did a retaining wall out of cinder blocks, rebar, and mortar, and also some plumbing and a bunch of little odd jobs around the place where we were staying. Some of the guys did two roofs at a hospital, and we also did some framing and electrical there. The hospital was one of my favorite places. By saying 'hospital', I'm probably giving you a very wrong picture. This place is a rundown group of buildings where they take men in off the streets to extend their lives and give them the gospel. Most of the men don't have legs, or they have some other terminal condition and were abandoned. It's a place full of pain. Conditions are bad - the roofs are made out of old garage doors that are now rotten. There is dirt everywhere, and everything is filthy. But there are people reading Bibles, and talking about Jesus! It's better than you see here! I loved just getting to go and help in little ways, just making sure their roof will stay up for another year or so until the Lord provides something else.

        I got back a week ago and have spent all my time catching up on the school that I missed. I meant to get this blog post up before I left, but, as you can see, that didn't happen. I've also been trying to plan an Age Of Ultron viewing with some friends since it comes out on my birthday and that's special. I AM SO FLIPPIN' EXCITED! I haven't said much about my Marvel obsession on my blog, but if you follow my Pinterest I'm sure it's no surprise. :) I really should do a post on that... I'll have an Age Of Ultron review for sure, but I've been wanting to do a bunch of mini-reviews for Captain America 1 and 2, Thor 1 and 2, and Avengers. Because they are SO GOOD.
        I've been knitting a little bit, but not a ton. Mostly shop samples and a couple of shawls and scarves for myself and friends.

Made for a friend a while ago.

This one doesn't look very good in the picture - it was stunning in real life!

Double Leaf Saroyan scarf

Cuddly gray shawl still in progress (organic cotton and wool!)

        I have also recently started another (very part-time) job, cleaning the yarn store every other week. When the owner asked me to do it I said yes right away, because I'd much rather work for her than anyone else, and it gives me an excuse to come and pet all the yarn when no one else is there. :) Yes, I have a key to the shop. I feel extremely sophisticated.
        So leave some comments and let me know what y'all have been doing yourselves! I have a tag post in drafts, so I'll try to finish that soon. I know I need to post more, but life has been preventing me. You hear that, life? Stop it!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Ain't We Got Fun Cover Reveal

        A few months back, two sweet and very talented girls posted an epistolary story on their blogs (Taking Dictation and Entirely Bonkers) that they had written together. I had a blast reading it bit by bit as they posted each day, and following Gi and Bess Rowland's respective stories through their written correspondence with one another. Needless to say, I was delighted when they announced they would be publishing it, and jumped at the opportunity to be part of the cover reveal! And boy, I was not disappointed! I must say that I love the cover as much as the book itself. 

         Isn't it absolutely lovely?! I mean, you can't really go wrong with vintage, but this is simply scrumptious! It matches the story so well - if you haven't read it, you certainly should.


1935: It was never much of an issue for Bess: living contentedly on her family's farm, despite the Depression which loomed around them. But when her older sister Georgiana takes off to New York City to make a fortune and help Papa out, feelings of adventure and wanderlust strike Bess at home. Through their lively letter correspondence, the sisters recount to one another their adventures, surprises, and heartaches, leaving little room for depression. For in a world of such wonder, ain't we got fun?

About The Authors:

EMILY CHAPMAN, also known as Bess Rowland, is a young hobbit living in the dear old South, and she is entirely bonkers. She's a dreamer, an optimistic pessimist, and an introverted people person. Blue skies, dancing, Disney, and whipped cream make her happy, and she swears she's been to Narnia. She's been a reader all her life, became a writer because of that, and published her first novel, Cry of Hope, in March of 2014. But without her Savior, all of this would mean nothing. It is in Him that she puts her hope. “And hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out His love into hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” – Romans 5: 5 

EMILY ANN PUTZKE and Gi Rowland have two things in common – their love for God and coffee. Besides writing historical fiction, Emily enjoys being an aunty, photography, Irish dancing spending time with family, attempting to play the guitar, reenacting, and reading. She loves polka dots, war movies, and all things vintage. Her first novella, It Took A War, was published in December of 2014. 

        Ain't We Got Fun will be released May 25, 2015! I can't wait!