Shoveling it

Today, I mucked out a barn.

Back a few months ago when I dreamed of myself doing this, I woke in utter disbelief that such could EVER be true. I mean, this is ME we're talking about. But today, it was. I actually volunteered.

See, through one of the random blogs that I follow-- maybe it was one about urban homesteading, or no-- maybe that one about sustainability and farms or, well, maybe one of my "tiny house" blogs-- anyway, I found a link to this one Family Farm. And discovered that they need volunteers, and they give you a whole talk-and-tour to get you familiar with the farm and the jobs that need doing.

And I thought-- Hey. I want to create a mini homestead/garden/farm someday when I've paid off my debts and have enough money to buy a bit of south-slope land... Maybe I should get a better idea of what I'm getting into. Maybe I should find out what it's REALLY like to have an organic garden and some goats and chickens and sheep, etc.

So today was Orientation Day for volunteers at the Family Farm. I love it out there. It really reaffirmed that what I want is attainable, and that I'd be happy having it. It also reaffirmed something I already knew-- Goats like me. I mean, these were just generally friendly goats and all, but... seriously. Goats like me.

It took two hours to meet all the creatures and see all the watering buckets/troughs/etc that need regular cleaning and filling (one of the four approved jobs for volunteers on the farm-- mucking out the three barns, the chicken coops, and the mini barn that houses Waldo is another). Then, since I did drive a whole hour to GET there, I decided I had time to muck out one of the barns. And I did have time. What I didn't have was stamina.

So the biggest, stinkiest, most-in-need-of-mucking barn has three sections. I did the biggest one. And I couldn't do any more. In fact, I'm really glad my blister didn't get a blister. I'm even MORE glad I thought to bring my work gloves. And I'm glad I didn't fall asleep on the drive home from the farm. Since I was the one driving. But seriously, I was that worn out. Muck is heavy.

And did you know that fresh farm eggs that are unwashed last longer, and don't need refrigeration? If you wash them, you have to pay attention to which is warmer-- the water or the egg. Because the egg shell is actually really porous, and bad bacteria go toward the warmest thing-- so you want a cold egg and warm water to wash it in. I have a whole yummy dozen washed farm-fresh eggs in my fridge right now. They're making me very happy. Because every time I remember I've got these awesome fresh Family Farm eggs to cook with, I also remember how awesome my day was today while I was AT the Family Farm. Happy-Happy.

I've got some researching to do for the Family Farm from home, and I think I'll try to make it out there again in a couple three weeks to do something slightly less intense like watering the chickens or something. I'm definitely going back. I want more eggs, for one thing. And I'm definitely sleeping well tonight. Just as soon as I rinse out my nose with something that doesn't smell like the month-old backside of a male goat. Apparently, the male goats stink more than the females. Made perfect sense to me.

And when I get my own land, I'm starting with vegetables. And herbs. And a couple of fruit trees. And maybe a few chickens. But nothing that requires mucking. Or castrating. And I learned that I need to add an "egg-cleaning station" to my dream home design. And probably a small barn to store all my gardening equipment, my spare bales of hay, my chickens, my wheelbarrows, and the muck I buy from my neighbors once or twice a year.

sigh... Who knew bliss would smell like THAT?!



Can I just tell you how much I love my writing group? And also Crazy Aunt Purl. And possibly a few other folks as well, but I haven't gotten very far in catching up on my emails lately, so I'll have to get back to you on that.

The e-correspondence for my writing group over the past few days looked something like this:

J: I think we're down two people this week, so probably that makes eight, plus the two of us who lead the writing group, so I think you need to bring ten copies of your work this week. But I could be wrong. (actually, she meant eight INCLUDING the two leaders, but five people showed up, plus the two leaders, so that made seven)

H: Sorry I missed y'all, but I had car problems, and I'm looking forward to next week.

D: Well, we all voted, and GOOD NEWS! Everybody except R decided to give you one last chance!

H: Where does R live?
(insert shark music here!)

D: Under the Chevy's downtown.

R: Hah! Joke's on you, D. I moved out from under the Chevy's as soon as you tracked me down. Well, actually, I just moved in deeper to avoid all the rats... And H? I misunderstood the vote. I thought we were voting to give you one last dance, and I didn't think it was fair that you were the only one getting to dance. Sorry.

H: Too late, R. Sleep with one eye open.

J: Oh, and thanks to H and D for giving me more background info on R when I give his intro at the Reading Event tonight!

OMFG-- I think I nearly coughed up a lung from laughing too hard with a head cold!

I realized why these folks are so helpful and so much fun when I bring in bits of my own story to read to them every Wednesday night. Then I read the latest blog entry for Crazy Aunt Purl. Again-- laughter can be such a healing medicine! I can't believe-- and yet I so CAN believe-- that she wrote a note to her auto mechanic while he was serving time "up north" because she had a question about converting her jeep from gas to vegetable oil (or maybe cat poop, since she has a ready supply of it).

Maybe I'm not so crazy for volunteering to help muck out a stable at a local farm just so I can see what farmlife is like-- and for writing that email that said, "Wow, you guys are cool! and also, if you are looking to hire a librarian with social skills, I'm available." to a local green home building company I found online.

In other news, I recently had an interview with a big city library system, so I could get on the list of folks they'll notify if they decide to accept applications for any open positions in their libraries. I was actually rather concerned that I'd flopped. Ninety minutes of interview, including a pointed grilling on my complete lack of knowledge about practical adult reference services, a book-talk presentation I put together with a teen audience in mind (I actually used a really cool hip word the interviewers didn't know-- don't tell them I made it up, k?), and an outline for a toddler storyhour, including a five-minute sample of my "storytime reading skills." I knew I represented myself and my skills fairly accurately... But I also know those skills are getting rusty with disuse, and it shows.

Imagine my joy and utter amazement to finally check email this afternoon, and find that I've qualified for ALL THREE AREAS of reference services-- adult, teen, and children. WAHOO!! Of course, now I'm waiting around to hear of any job openings that come up, and that they decide they'd like me to apply for. But I was impressed by the library system and the teen book selection there. I think I'd enjoy working for them, and I'm actually hoping to hear back soon.

You never know. Stranger things have definitely happened.
Oh, and by the way, if you know a well-connected and upstanding literary agent who specializes in memoirs... I'm looking.