Down, Out, and Taking Off

Most days when I sit down to write, there’s a narrative just sitting there waiting for me to put words around it. You know, progress on a project, a particular insight about farm life, or, if it’s been a really good day, maybe a new tool to gush over.

And there are other times, you guys, when a weekend is over and I’m just left sitting there staring blankly at my computer screen…

Like I don’t even know what the shit just happened, and what the hell am I supposed to say about it?

That’s exactly what’s going on here, just so we’re clear. If we were to boil the essence of my weekend down to one example: this morning I left the house in a rush, collecting all the things I needed as I went—wallet, phone, lunch, coat, computer, keys—and I hauled it all out to the car and then looked down at the keys in my hand just before trying to put them in the ignition…


I wish there was a split screen version of what my face looked like in this moment. I don’t even remember seeing the corkscrew this morning, and yet, somehow, here it is in my car with me and my keys.

Now multiply that by a broken pickup truck and broken website, and that’s about the shape of things.


So, first of all, if you tried to visit the site over the weekend and got a 404 error, I’m sorry about that. I’m now on a first name basis with four of the lovely service techs at my hosting company, all of whom were baffled by why the site wasn’t working, and by the fact that I’m hosting this thing on a ten year old server.

Thanks to everyone who alerted me on Facebook and Instagram to the issue. I probably wouldn’t have noticed until Sunday night if you hadn’t because at the same time the site went down I was trying to bring my truck back from the dead.


Next winter I’m going to join the ranks of people who have both a diesel truck and a lick of common sense and hook the effing battery up to a trickle-charger. I almost always have to learn the hard way…. Which, in this case, means when I’m down to the very last flake of hay and have a couple of hungry donkeys making sad eyes at me from the pasture.


“Oh, look at how starving we are. Let me lick your jeans to show you how truly desperate I am for nourishment…”


Little dudes have been on a diet all winter, and do you think they’re one jot less portly? No. They are not.

But diet or no diet we were still fresh out of food, so I was epically relieved when I managed to get the truck started AND find a farmer who was just sitting around on a Sunday afternoon waiting for some girl to call in desperate need of hay.


Holy shit, is that a relief.


Parker agrees.

There might have been a time in my life where stuff like this would tip my precariously balanced sanity right over the edge, but if there’s going to be a lesson in today’s story, let it be this: after a decade of DIYing the question for me is no longer “will it get fixed?” It will. It never doesn’t get fixed, in one way or another. I know when the site goes down I’ll get it back up (I’ve got backups on top of backups at this point) and I know when the truck won’t start I’ll get it running eventually (I’ve got an awesome neighbor who knows a lot about engines.) These days it’s more of a patience game… how long will it take me to figure this out, and how many bandaids will be required by the time I’m done?

And, listen, even though it’s no longer a question of whether or not I can do something, my happy-dances are no less enthusiastic when I actually do.


The fact that everything is up and running again is good news, but the great news (for those of us in Michigan at least) is that THE SNOW IS GONE.


This is pretty epic as far as the farm goes. The animals are finally out and about…


All the barn doors are un-frozen. The exterior spigots work. There are even the beginning of some garlic shoots in the garden.


I am so damn ready to start working outside again. Getting the new garden beds in (10 of them), putting in fruit trees (and grape vines) and making some progress on the pergola are at the top of my list.


Right? Yes. Except I know what everybody is thinking… BUT THE BATHROOM.


And don’t you worry… I got a couple of hours in on the tile this weekend too. While it’s no longer a high-priority project because it’s freezing out and I want to take a hot bath already dammit, it’s become an even higher priority because there’s only one working bathroom in my house currently and, for the first time in maybe 15 years, I have a legit roommate.

(It feels like there should be some kind of story there but the truth is I had a friend who needed a place to stay, and a.) I have a 3000 square foot house… even with half of it torn up it’s more space than two people can reasonably take up. Also, b.) I’ve had a slew of creepier-than-normal dudes make an appearance in my life of late, and it’s kind of nice to have someone in the house when I’m not there.)

Taking Off

And speaking of not being around, I’m doing something strange and uncharacteristic and leaving the farm for a whole week next week.

I know, right?! I haven’t done that ever in the history of owning the farm, and really probably not in the last ten years.

I’m significantly less stressed out about this than I would normally be because of said roommate, and I’ll be spending time with a whole bunch of my extended family on a beach. These are all good things, but you know, if I was going to spend four nights and five days in paradise, for me that would really be right here…


I don’t long to escape on vacations because I’m pretty effing happy where I’m at.

But, since I’m going to be going to be on a beach without any access to power tools instead of drinking beer on my tractor, I fully intend to read no less than a dozen books to keep me from going stir-crazy. If you have any recommendations for good beach reads, let me know.

25 Responses

  1. Don’t get a trickle charger for your truck nor your tractor. Get one of these instead (or two – or get the multi if they’re close in proximity). They’re better for your batteries.

    I have had one on our “toy” car for several years now. Keeps the battery conditioned and reduces the chance of battery sulfation (which is what kills them).

  2. I don’t know if you’ve ever read any Terry Pratchett – I adore him. He just died this week, so a lot of bookstores are featuring his materials. I’d suggest starting with Guards! Guards! (first book in one sub-series), or Wyrd Sisters (first book in another sub-series)

    I’m also really looking forward to you finishing your bathroom and writing that tub-surround tutorial you mentioned, because I get possession of my first house on Monday and gutting the bathroom is on the list!

  3. Locked in my bathroom choking from laughter! Have a great time at the beach! Envying you from New England. Oh…why am I locked in bathroom? Because my 4 year old grandson who lives with me just decided we needed to talk about boobies and he has a double ear infection and can’t hear my answers unless I yell. I’m going to start hiding some Baileys in the bathroom.

  4. I’ve got a Jeep that nowadays only gets used in the summertime. For the last couple of winters, I’ve let the battery discharge and when that First Really Nice Day of Spring comes around….heartbreak….because I can’t take the Jeep out and enjoy the day.

    This Winter I’m trying one of these:
    and so far every time I’ve checked the battery over the Winter it’s been in good shape. The real test is coming soon!

  5. Enjoy your break! Do you like chick lit/supernatural sci fi? Then please try one of these two: Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper – OR – Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson. Both are the first in a series and fun reads – and if you’re into audiobooks at all, try them on audio – the narrators of both really take them to the next level. 🙂

  6. Hi Kit! I’m about halfway through “The Peripheral” by William Gibson, and it’s got me staying up too late these last few nights to see what happens next… a real page-turner for sure. Enjoy the beach!

  7. Just finished “Funny Girl” by Nick Hornby, fun 50s TV sitcom type story, fun. Also “The Girl on the Train” which was a lot of fun, in the lines of “Gone Girl.” “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doer was really good — a WWII drama – I’m not usually a historical fiction fan but this was really great (several stories that combine in the end).

  8. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It is the first in a trilogy, there’s also a 2nd. But be warned, they are amazing and he hasn’t written the third yet.

    Enjoy the beach!

  9. One Good Turn by Rybczynski. History of the screw and screw driver. Not just the fastener but the screw as in the printing press, etc.

  10. All too familiar with staring at a blank screen in hope of coming up with something to write.

    I’d have thought that after a few years of cold winter climate you’d already have a charger for your cars, but hey, better late than never! Especially if you don’t use them much, one really ought to have one. Can’t say that I have much experience tho, my car gets used way too much for the need to have one.

    Enjoy the beach!

  11. I have just started “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty. And since I am only about halfway through I can’t give a complete recommendation, but so far I am really enjoying it!!

    Have a GREAT time on the beach! I am envious!

  12. My version of beach reads tends to be mysteries and psychological thrillers. I highly recommend anything by author Jennifer Hillier, especially her “Creep” and “Freak”.

  13. Anything by Liane Moriarty is great – What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies would both make good beach reads.

    I also just read The House We Grew Up In – by Lisa Jewell. It’s a page turner!

  14. We dealt with a non-starting tractor all winter. The first time it was the battery, and our new charger fixed us right up. But after that the poor little tractor was just cold. Ahhh, the many uses for a hair dryer. We’re considering a block heater, but I may try my brother’s cheaper technique first: an electric frying pan (carefully monitored of course so it doesn’t burn down the barn) set underneath the tractor. I might even throw a blanket over the hood to help keep the heat in.

    Anyways, I also wanted to say I know what you mean about not longing for vacation. I always feel a bit uncool when people ask me what my travel plans are for the year or the summer or the week, and I say that we’re happy to stay home. I’m glad I’m not the only one. There’s absolutely no place I’d rather be.

    Oh, and my book recommendation is I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. International spy thriller. Quick read.

    1. When we lived in the frozen wastelands of Illinois, I put a trouble light or a clamp light by the radiator / engine block. It kept it warm enough to start / not freeze and you didn’t have to worry about remembering a frying pan.

  15. Have an awesome time at the beach! Sorry to hear about the creepier than usual dudes… *shudder* – I’m glad you have a roommate now! And archery skillz… Great to see the chickens, guinea hen(s), and donkeys enjoying the outdoors! Where’s the cat?

  16. If you’re into books that are kinda weird (whatever that means), I just finished Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami and it was seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not sure it’s a “beach read” necessarily, but it was very engaging!

      1. I recommended both Lamb and Terry Pratchett’s books just last Saturday. Small Gods by Pratchett is one of my favorites and both make you laugh and think about the institutions of religion. Per Jess’ comment at the top, Guards! Gaurds! is a great place to start for getting into Pratchett’s Discworld series. There are about 40 books in that series, so you could do some damage while on vacation.

  17. Hooray for donkey hay and truck starting, envious boo on the snow melt (I drove through a whiteout on Tuesday, so done), yay for the roommate (though seriously sorry about creepers, I mean I know you can handle yourself, it just sucks), and good for you for the vacation. Oh and for a reading suggestion: Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy is the best book I’ve read in a while, and I read quite a lot. It was hilarious, and satisfying, and very original. Highly suggest it.

  18. Ending up with something random like a corkscrew in my hands when I get to the car I something I would do. Also, ending up in her car and not knowing where my phone is when I just had it two seconds ago is another issue.

    Have a great time on vacation! Will you ask your roommate for pictures of your furry children while you’re gone? 🙂

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