Adventures with Parnassus!

A funny thing happened on the way to the barn.... Homestead Blog

By: PeaceRiverBP, 1:00 AM GMT on May 13, 2006

Although I live in Florida now, I spent the first 41 years of my life in New England. I lived on that timeless peninsula called Cape Cod. Until I moved away, I didn’t realize how small and out of touch it was. Especially since I was busy just trying to survive most of the time; more so than ever when my daughters were small and I had a job delivering newspapers in the wee hours of the morning so I could be home with my young children and I had a Homestead to run.

The Homestead was a real ‘registered’ homestead. We had huge gardens with one field just for butter and sugar corn, another field for Japanese popcorn (hull-less- it makes great popcorn!) a field for onions & potatoes- red bliss and Yukon gold- a field for “vines” like squash, pumpkins and cukes and finally, our “kitchen” garden with tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, cabbages, snow peas, green beans, carrots, peppers and maybe a few other veggies that I forgot. We also had apples, grapes, raspberries and various flower gardens. We grew most of our own produce for the whole year (we have FIVE freezers and a root cellar) and we had chickens, goats, bunnies, bees and household pets, too! Our household pets included three dogs- two of which (Sugar and Ralph) were featured in previous blogs and a cat named Mikey, numerous Zebra finches who staved off the boredom of living in a cage by making more Zebra finches, and the goldfish who lived in our fish pond.

Our goats were more like pets, too. They loved attention and ‘smiled’ when they saw you walk up as they anticipated a treat or a scratch on the head. Yes, goats actually smile! They also enjoyed car rides and the feel of the wind in their fur as they stuck their heads out the window as we went down the road- which usually drew stares. Some people even asked me what kind of dogs they were. BIG DOGS- VERY BIG DOGS! They would follow you anywhere. The biggest milk-doe, Harley, weighed about 250 pounds- the other, Suzy, weighed in at about 220 pounds and both stood seven feet tall when they stood on their hind legs to graze on the leaves in the trees. Harley and Suzy put out ¾ of a gallon at each milking, so we had 3 gallons of milk a day for a family of four – all the same, even with homemade puddings and all, we started giving milk to the cat, the dogs and the chickens to consume it all. Luckily, goat’s milk is very digestible and no one had any problems with it- even the animals drank it down with no ill-effects. We also had a little doe, Pepper, who never grew bigger than a German Shepherd and a stud-buck named Freddy.

They were all incredibly smart. They had an electric fence around their yard and they watched intently when I shut it off to come in and out to feed, water and milk them. After two weeks of watching me, they figured out how to shut off the fence and make their escape. They didn’t run out in the road or go eat the neighbors petunias- they just ran up on our back porch and ran into the open kitchen door! I was across the house in the living room when I heard the clomp-clomp of hooves and there they were, grinning at their success.

I then put a grain bag over the switch box so they couldn’t get at the switch, but it only took them another two weeks before they ripped the bag off and let themselves out, again. This was announced when I heard them knocking on the kitchen door. The door was closed this time, but they were all gathered on the back porch like a bunch of over-eager of Trick or Treaters, tapping the screen door with their fore-feet. The final solution to this problem was to build a wooden box that latched closed and place it over the switch box. I’m sure they stared at it, cursing the fact that they didn’t have opposable thumbs!

But, the electric fence still had it’s problems. One day, something broke and we needed to go to the hardware store and get a part, but we had to figure out what to do with them in the mean time. Since they already had shown a preference for the back porch and it was large and enclosed, we put them in there and ran our errand as quickly as we could. When we came home, we found a frantic message on our answering machine; my husband’s friend Tommy had stopped by while we were gone but he was not pleased with the reception committee that awaited him on the back porch. I should explain that the porch was bordered by a half wall that allowed the goats to stick their heads up over the rail, even though they were closed in. The message went as follows:
“WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS ON YOUR BACK PORCH? F----ING LAMAS??? THEY LEERED AT ME AND THE GROWLED AT ME AND THEY TRIED TO BITE ME!!!” I’ve forgotten the rest of the content because we were laughing so hard that we were just about rolling on the floor! Hmmm- leering, growling, biting goats- they had probably just smiled at him, hoping to entice him to stop and pet them.

Tommy was not comforted by anything we said when we tried to explain that the goats were harmless and very friendly. Oh, well. He never came back to visit again.

Updated: 4:52 PM GMT on May 15, 2006

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Springtime in Florida / Insurance Woes

By: PeaceRiverBP, 7:30 PM GMT on May 03, 2006

I added to this blog- in case you've read the first part already-

Ahhh! Springtime in Florida! The mornings and evenings are cool and comfortable for taking walks or spending time working in the yard- the birds are nesting- and the people who visit this area just for the winter are all going home, leaving us to a less hurried, more peaceful, hot and hazy summer.

It also means that until the long, dry season is over, there is a constant threat of wild fires. We have a lot of knock-down from the last two hurricane seasons that makes fire even more dangerous. The photo shown below is of a fire that started on a huge pile of dead, dried up trees. My husband & I were leaving to go out on a family visit when we saw the smoke rising from across the neighborhood, so we took a detour and located the fire about a ½ mile away. We called 911 from there and stayed until the emergency equipment arrived.

The second photo shows another Florida resident who seems to be enjoying the warmer temperatures. We often seen this little guy hanging around our gardens and since we have hundreds of frogs who share our yard, too, this black racer snake will probably grow big and fat pretty quickly! But, after seeing this snake lounging so comfortably on our cast iron patio chair, I guess we’ll be looking at our seats a little more closely before we sit in them! I can hear it now.... “Hello – 911? Um.... someone has been bitten by a snake....”

Someone just asked me if Florida is the new California, what with the hot, dry weather we've been having, it certainly seems that way. I guess we don't have to worry about having any earthquakes, but even if the weather is pleasant for working outdoors, I sure wouldn't mind it if our summer rains would start up! Has anyone heard anything encouraging about our weather patterns? The weatherman on TV said that he didn't see any big changes in at least a few weeks or maybe as long as a month.

On another subject, I need to vent- we have our Homeowner's Insurance with a company that's having some financial problems, so we've been shopping around for a new company and boy, have the rates gone up in the last five months!!! The best quote we've received so far is 50% higher than what we paid in 2005. This is crazy- we have excellent credit and we've never filed a claim- EVER! Have any of you other Florida residents experienced this as well? Needless to say, we're suffering from sticker shock! I can understand charging waterfront and properties in other hazardous areas more for insurance, but why should the rest of us have to pay for their high-priced insurance claims?Especially considering that there were more than 40 years that these companies got to collect premiums without having to pay out for any big storms in this area. Is it like the price of gas- they're charging whatever thay can get for it just because they CAN- they know we have to pay it? I'd be interested in hearing other people's points of view- if anyone has anything enlightening to say- maybe I'll feel better! Thanks!

Updated: 4:50 PM GMT on May 04, 2006

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About PeaceRiverBP

I've many passions but two of them are reading & camping, so naturally my camper's name is Parnassus for Christopher Morely's "Parnassus on Wheels".

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