MONDAY LAUNDRY BLUES

Here it is again another Monday in Chautauqua County New York.  Home of The Chautauqua Institution, Lilly Dale, Chautauqua Lake, The Home of Welsh’s Grapes, Lucile Ball to name just a few things.  And here I am sitting at my computer trying to make another interesting post.  The truth is I feel like doing some laundry about some things.  But first a bit if history concerning laundry day.  The clean wet clothes get hung out to dry and boy what a day for that today.  A very nice breeze and lots of warm sun.  So the clothes were hung to dry.  So what about the clothes pin or peg.  Where did that come from and why.  Well I guess if it was breezy out you needed something to hold the clothes down so they would not blow away.

I did a little research and the clothes pin was invented by the Shakers in Albany New York as well as the washing machine.  They were carved out of a piece of wood and the wet clothes gave enough moisture to keep the pin from splitting.  In the UK the pin or peg was made of willow because that wood held a lot of moisture.  Some designers would wrap a piece of wire around the peg to keep the wood from splitting as well.  Lot of changes and developments through the years but basically it is still a simple gadget to keep the clothes from blowing away.              Children would also use the clothes pins as dolls.  What imaginations, way before Barbie Dolls.

So for laundry day and doing some dirty laundry.  Today I lost the sale of a small group of female alpacas that I really needed to make.  Selling breeding stock has been my major form of income for the last 12 years and the economy has really hit me.  It takes all I have to feed my herd and care for them.  All other activities including fixing up my Amish house have been put on hold.  I had a nice women who wanted to purchase three girls so she could have a small farm and enjoy them and the tax advantages.  Little did I know that the real reason was strictly for taxes and lowering her property tax bill.  Well I got a call and was told that another farmer was going to give her his tax exemption if she would store his hay in her empty barn.  Just to store hay in 1/2 of a persons pole barn is enough to warrant having their  property tax bill lowered and that they are now agricultural exempt?  Why am I a farmer/rancher making my living raising livestock working hard to sell what I produce on my land doing the right thing filling out the paperwork sweating a bad economy just to watch someone who has a bunch of land works in town and just gets some hay in the barn get the agricultural tax exemption.  I guess I have said enough for the evening.  Anyone interested in purchasing some fine alpacas for a change in lifestyle, to lower your blood pressure, harvest some wonderful renewable resource, get great manure for your garden and for a tax break let me know.  I have lots of great animals for sale.

Addition to Taxing the Worry Dolls

WOW I DID IT!!!!!!!!!f  Taxes are done and ready for me to sign  at the accountants office.  Can’t believe it after all the worry and worrying with the worry dolls.  I guess they helped me get through this venture.  My sister Terry gave me the dolls years ago I think it was when my partner Peter passed away nearly 3 1/2 years ago.  Maybe this is a sign of a new beginning?  The good thing is that I owe no taxes for the past 3 years and so I can thank the alpacas and the farm for allowing me write a lot of things off.  I truly am a farm.  For anyone thinking of owning alpacas you might consider the tax advantages.  A capital investment for breeding stock that you can depreciate for up to 5 years.  Not only that but you can get this beautiful fiber from these beautiful animals that keeps us warm and soft and even cool in the summer.  Try a pair of alpaca socks and see for yourself.

By the way I am back at the blog and hope to keep you posted on all the new adventures here at the farm.  Also I will continue to venture back into the past 2 years at the Amish house and farm to share how it has taken shape and changed.  Like building the stone wall, soap, perogies,bathroom, my art which I am getting back into and the garden to name a few… and of course all the Monday laundry days to come.  Keep an eye out for more.  Thank you for coming back to the blog!!!

Monday “Laundry Blues”

It’s Laundry Day again, today it’s blue Monday or laundry blues day.  Feeling a little blue today.  Why?  Well it’s cold outside, windy and off and on snow showers.  Not a good day to hang the laundry.  Ice cold fingers and stiff jeans and towels are not fun to fold.  I took a drive and not much laundry out today in the Amish Community.  A bit here and there but not like last week.  So we are on the same track I guess with the cold fingers.  So how about some blue doors?

When I moved into my house everything was blue, the doors the walls and even the cupboards.

I inquired from several people why the blue doors.  Lots of people who I asked who were not Amish said it was a notice that there was a girl living there of marrying age.  So I took that as why but then I heard from someone else that the blue door was letting people know that there was a family living there.  So why the blue doors, they are on every Amish house out there in this part of the Chautauqua County.  My friend Suzie looked on-line one day and basically they said it could be the same thing I was told but still no real answer.  The only added thought that it is just tradition and that maybe the Bishop of the community painted his door blue one day so the rest of the Amish community followed by painting their doors blue.  Any thought of this feel free to comment and maybe someone out there really knows the answer.

Taxing the Worry Dolls

OMG!!!  Where did my post go?  I just wrote this crazy post and went to preview and lost everything.  Here I go again….. I am sure I will not be able to repeat all the fun things I said the first time. It is that time of year and yes we all have to go through it, the tax man cometh.  I worked so hard at getting my office ready in the Amish house.  This room was the master bedroom and next to me is my first bathroom.  So the bedroom was a bit larger with a closet.  I put in the electricty so I could see and put the dry wall up so I could be warmer.  I even hung up this great track lighting that I found on Craig’s list cheap.   I got the piles out and also the folders and accordion files for each year, event, business, sorta organized and ready to do it!!!  Do what?  I hate paper work.  I started with finding lost receipts, opening envelopes, sorting according to my two business and went and got a glass of wine.  Sat down with Frida by my side and well…….l got up and left. Mulling over the overdue responsibility and my phobia of all the papers and piles and of course the word TAX I decided to go back into my new cave and work.   Maybe this will be the year I finally do my taxes.

I gathered, sorted, organized, unfolded, stacked and began to log into the computer program Quick Books (what is quick about it I would like to know?) my receipts.  I have to go through everything. What is amazing is my ability to just push things aside and hope that they go away.  I have found myself unfolding and un-crimping receipts that I find tucked away in every pocket, purse, drawer and even the floor of my car.   Not just receipts but statements that I have to go through and pick out the small print of fees that are tax deductable.  My favorite one is the merchant services that I use for my charge card machine. Did you know that I pay for your rewards points?  Some months I have more money going to those fees than in my bank account.  It does not pay to go into business for one’s self.  I really don’t make any money I just have freedom to be more broke and shuffle papers and receipts. Looks like Frida my pooch has realized that we will be living in this room for a while, she brought in her kong ball.  Here to stay.  Maybe this will be the year that I finally do my taxes.

I am getting a burn in my thighs that seem to hug the chair as I ponder each receipt and if the cat food is deductable, of course it is.  My cats are the hardest workers on the farm.  Far too many mice for them to eat so a few for Frida and of course there is always one for me at my door step.  With the changing seasons they are out more and more making sure that I can write them off.  Or who knows they may have to move to a more tax free shelter.  I ponder a new life where I can make enough money to pay someone to do this for me….. Maybe this will be the year I finally do my taxes.

I keep a few things around me to make sure I can visually excape from this process like my calendar of sunflowerw or my oaxacan wood carvings.  There are the worry dolls that my sister Terry gave me when Peter died and good music playing.  Maybe this will be the year I finally do my taxes.   OH alpaca poop my track lighting just blew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

They say that variety is the spice of life.  Well I keep trying a variety of things to make me money.  Not much money is made it seems these days but the variety of things that I get my hands into is incredible.  My store for one has been the one place that I could depend on to make me a steady flow of money.  Socks seem to keep me going, from diabetic/therapeutic socks to extreme outdoor socks and everything in-between.  But this last month my sales have plummeted.  I was hoping that my etsy site would bring more sales with my craft such as the furniture and hand painted fibers and yarns.  Even my art prints have not gone over very well.  What is one to do?  The winter with no snow here has put a big pinch on many businesses in my area.  No ice for ice fisherman and no ice castle, no snow mobiles, not too many skiers either.  How about snow shoeing, cross-country skiers?  Nothing, a Chautauqua County disaster I would say.  Needless to say the alpacas seem to be happy as long as they get hay but the herd needs to get smaller.  I don’t mean less weight per animal I mean fewer animals for me to care for.  Want to buy a couple of alpacas?  Let me know.  Now I am doing some serious thought in growing more food this year.  Let’s face it everyone needs to eat……..  Look at those pumpkins I grew in alpaca poop last year!

CHICKEN TUESDAY (hanging with the bunch)

So do you want to know why my Dad wanted to come back as a rooster? When Joe Brumwell was a kid he said the rooster did every hen every day!!!  After I decided that my Dad did not come back as a Rooster I gave the whole flock to the Amish……..Years later and at the new Amish Farm my friend Suzie and I decided to raise meat chickens.  Something that you don’t have to get attached to.  They grow fast, they all look the same and only have one name “Cecelia” that’s what Mark, Suzie’s husband called them,  ALL…..all 26 of them.  They arrived on or about the first of May by Eli the former owner of my Amish Farm is a banana box.  Ohhh so cute.  They went right into the chicken coop in a large wooden box with a heat lamp.  They were just one or two days old.  If you go to the page of photos you can see the chicken coop as I found it and the clean up crew.  The rotten eggs that were left behind were the worst smelling things on the farm.

It took 8 weeks of feeding and water and clean up before the chickens were ready for the freezer.  No growth hormones, antibiotics and the feed was made locally.  We never lost one and they were so funny to watch.  From little chicks running around to fat birds with legs to big they could only take a step or two and sit down.  Reminded me of the movie “Chicken Run”  I would like to think I wasn’t Mrs. Tweety but I guess I was.  The last four weeks were horrible.  More and more feed and water and poop!  I swore I would only raise chicken wings from now on.

The big days came when Suzie and I gathered the birds and stuffed them into crates (dog carrier and store displays) and off to the Amish.  Two trips, one each week.  What a site to see all the Amish kids with no shoes on waiting for us to do their work.  The chickens didn’t stand a chance….  We laughed and laughed driving out of the drive way knowing that in a few hours we would be putting the birds in our freezer.  My favorite site was seeing one of the Amish young ladies with her hands on her hips watch us pull away.

We picked up the dressed birds that were soaking in coolers of ice water in a very clean room of the Amish walk-in basement.  Not only were there coolers of chickens but lots of jars of pickles that they were canning.  When we got back to my farm. Suzie and I put the birds in bags, weighted and labeled them and even cut some in half because they were so big.  The average weight of each bird was 6 1/2 pounds dressed (in their birthday suit). Thirteen each!!!

Would I do it again?  No but yes and I guess I better get the coop ready!

What Came First? Chicken or the Alpaca

It all started about 13 years ago when my father was getting ready to have a heart valve replacement.  He had a 50/50 chance of survival and he took this as he usually took things in a light-hearted way.  We spent the day together and visited all his favorite little haunts.  At one point he told me that he want me to get a flock of chickens if he passed away because he was going to come back as a rooster.  OK Dad, I will do that.  My Dad never made it and I was on a quest to get that flock of chickens.  My late partner and I were wondering where to put them???  Maybe at the little 10 acres that we would grow food on and hang out.  But the coyotes were a problem.  One day while thumbing through a magazine in the studio I came across this article about llamas used as guard animals and that they would fend off coyotes.  After much research a year later we gave up the idea of chickens and of llamas and purchased our first alpaca “S Bayou Negra” Chili Momma!  Still have her and her beautiful daughters.  We did get laying hen a couple of roosters but I can tell you that my father was no rooster.  Too mean!!!