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Archive for November, 2011

Hubby was raised in a very traditional family – Christian, two parents, married to each other (never divorced); Mom stayed home with the boys while Dad went to work, and the whole crew went to church every Sunday.  It seems to be understood that women do domestic things, and men support the family.  While Hubby’s Mom taught him how to cook and do laundry, I don’t think he routinely did his own until he was a teenager.  Even fairly recently, at family functions, Hubby’s father and brothers (and, for the first while, Hubby, too) disappeared to watch sports when it was time for the cooking, or cleaning, or childcare, which, of course, is not what my family ever did, and really drove me nuts for the first while.  It is funny, as none of them are particularly chauvinist; it’s just what has always been done.

 

In my own family, tradition went out the window pretty early.  My parents divorced when I was quite young, and my family took on quite a non-traditional structure after that.  I was raised in an overtly feminist home, where established gender roles, in particular, were constantly challenged.  I was encouraged to take shop courses in school, and was not only told, but also shown, that women could do anything they pleased.  I grew up knowing woman mechanics, doctors, woodworkers, engineers, construction workers, and cops.  Not so amazing now, I know, but unusual in the early ’80’s.

 

Based on our vastly different childhoods, you can imagine the conflicts Hubby and I had when we were working out who did what in the home. With both of us working full time, I was adamant that it was not my job to do all the cooking and all the laundry and the tidying and the vacuuming and, and, and…

 

Hubby claimed the snow shoveling and lawn mowing plus half the cooking, but when I sat down with him and wrote out all the things that needed to be done for us to be clean and fed, he recognized that there was a certain amount of inequality there.  Furthermore, because we had rather different standards of what qualified as ‘clean’, I felt the need to schedule chores, and scheduling the chores became one more job I had to do.  Bleh.

 

Well, over the years, we worked it out, and Hubby pulled his share or more of the cooking and cleaning for a long time. He’s not actually all that committed to the status quo; he had just never been challenged on his expectations regarding gender roles.  He has never felt threatened by my well-paid job or my ability to do basic mechanics, which really is a relief, and he always supports me in learning or doing whatever I enjoy, whether it fits the stereotypes or not.  As you may guess, Hubby has some non-traditional leanings of his own.

 

When we moved to the acreage, the plan really did not include Hubby getting a job.  Of the two of us, I have the more stable and higher-paying work, and I enjoy my job a lot more.  Hubby has as many years in University as I do, but switched majors, and never did get that degree.  He does not particularly enjoy labor jobs, though hard work does not put him off at all.  He wants to be intellectually challenged, which you just don’t get framing houses or delivering packages.  For the wages he would earn, we would have to buy another vehicle, insure it, pay for gas,  get him work clothes and probably tools, pay more for food (he sure would not be growing it), and I would have a lot more stress, dealing with a higher percentage of the housework.  We discussed it, and really, unless we were talking a very high wage, his time is more valuable to us here, renovating, fixing the barn, building fences, growing our food, and keeping house.   I know I am certainly less stressed when I come home from work to a hot meal on the table, rather than having to figure out what the heck to cook when I am tired and hungry.  I also have not touched the vacuum or picked up a broom since we’ve been here, but the house is still nice and clean, which is pretty sweet – all I really have to do is go to work, do my job, come home and relax, which is such a luxury after years and years of being single and doing everything myself.

 

A cousin offered Hubby an excellent job, making awesome money, and that one was tempting.  The only issue being that he would be on the road three weeks out of every month, and, for health reasons, I am not supposed to lift more than 20 pounds right now, and somebody has to haul water for the animals twice a day.  Oh, well.  It’s not like we’re broke and starving as it is, and really, we’re both pretty content with the current arrangement.  While being rich might be fun, it’s not really something we aspire to.

 

I was chatting on the phone with a family member the other day, and was asked when Hubby was going to get a job.  I get this question quite a bit, from family and colleagues.  Said family member seemed pretty taken aback when I said it really was not in the master plan right now.  There was something of a debate over why we would make such an obviously silly choice, when Hubby could be out earning something, and I found myself feeling pretty defensive about our choices.  Then it hit me.

 

I politely asked if he would feel the same way if Hubby was working in a well paid professional job that covered all the bills, and I was staying home and doing the cooking, cleaning, livestock maintenance, home upkeep, foster child care, and such.  The long silence was pretty informative.

 

To my family member’s credit, he immediately switched gears and started brainstorming ways Hubby could continue doing what he is doing, but also make money, like running a daycare, which, while not really in the plan, at least fits more appropriately with what we’re trying to do here.

 

It is easy to forget that our little family does not follow the predominant social rules, and while we aren’t exactly on a crusade to change people’s perceptions, I still get a little annoyed at the surprised looks we get when I tell people Hubby is a homemaker.  Maybe someday, the world will just allow people to take the roles that suit them best, without fussing so much over what is ‘manly enough’, or ‘properly feminine’…

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First Eggs

We got our chickens as day-old chicks at the very end of May.  They are dual-purpose heritage breed chickens – Barred Rocks, Plymouth Rocks, and Red and Silver Laced Wyandottes.  The girls will lay plenty of eggs, though not quite as many as a true laying breed, and the boys will get pretty big, though not quite as meaty as a true meat breed.  The hatchery also sent us some ‘bonus’ chicks, of unknown breeds.  We ordered ‘straight run’, meaning we got what hatched, rather than getting just girls.  In effect, about half of our chickens are roosters.  Our plan was to keep the girls for the eggs, and maybe a couple of roosters so we could hatch next year’s chicks ourselves, and butcher the rest of the roosters for the freezer.

Of course, butchering did not happen as scheduled – between back problems, a cold, the boys being here, another cold, another visit from the boys, and now crappy, snowy weather, we still have as many roosters as we started with.  Sooner or later, though, something will have to happen with them, as they are so aggressive with the hens that the girls all fly out of the coop and yard at the first opportunity, and go hang out in the barn or scratch around in the grass by the house, or else risk losing half the feathers on their backs from aggressive roosters trying to mount, often two or thee at a time.  We could clip their wing feathers to make it harder for them to fly, but we haven’t the heart, seeing the treatment they get from the roosters.

I did not really expect eggs from the hens until next spring – heritage breeds mature a little slower than other types, and the hens were not expected to begin laying before 6 months of age.  From what I had read, chickens need a certain number of daylight hours to trigger laying – something like 12 or 14, but certainly more than we get in Saskatchewan in late November.  September 22nd was the Autumn Equinox, the last time we’ll see a full 12 hours of daylight until the Spring Equinox in late March.  Today’s sunrise was 8:23am, and sunset will be 5:11pm, so we’re getting just under 9 hours of daylight right now, or would be if it hadn’t been overcast and snowing for the last three days.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, the day before yesterday, Hubby came in with a little green egg.  He had found it in the baskets of hay he had prepared for the goats – we had not bothered to build nesting boxes for the hens, yet, as we weren’t really expecting them to lay in the winter.  Apparently, one of the bonus chickens turned out to be some variety of Easter Egger hen – likely an Auracauna or Americauna – they lay blue and green eggs.  Yesterday, Hubby found one green and one little brown egg, so the Easter Egger is not the only one getting busy.   The eggs are quite teeny – apparently hens work their way up to laying full size eggs – and they’re really very cute.  With around 20 hens, if they all get going, we’ll be drowning in eggs soon…

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Wrenches in Gears

It has been a long, long couple of weeks.  The two little boys we had here a while back were supposed to be coming to stay, so we child-proofed the house, re-arranged the furniture, picked up some things that would have made life a lot easier, like a toilet seat insert and some booster seats for the table, and then…

 

…and then their father cropped up, after months of being incommunicado, and threw a wrench in the gears by stating that he absolutely did not want them coming to us.  All this after the mother, aunties, and all of the grandparents had consulted and agreed that this was a good placement.  So then it looked like we weren’t getting them after all.  Hubby was particularly let down, as he had really bonded with the little guys.  I have to admit, I was pretty sad, too.

 

The boys are not formally in the foster care system – they are distantly related, but their parents are unable to care for them right now.  Other family members had been taking care of them, but did not have the resources to manage over the long term.  Word had leaked out that Hubby and I were taking the initial steps to be foster parents, so we were approached about these two, and agreed to take them for a week and see how things went.  Of course, despite frustrations, things went fairly well, and we agreed to take them.  Until the father intervened, of course.  Realistically, we just aren’t in a position to get into a legal battle over these little guys, especially since they are not wards of the state, and we are not officially foster parents, so therefore, we would have no legal standing whatsoever.

 

Then, we get a call – could we take the boys again for another week?  Their current caregivers had a situation come up that they just can’t watch them this week.  Of course we could – where else could they possibly go?  So, we have a busy house again.

 

Then a note, that the father may have changed his mind. Nothing for sure, of course….

 

Can you say rollercoaster?

 

Meanwhile, the truck we purchased is partially fixed.  It needed brakes, a new brake line in the back, and a seal replaced, as well as a few minor things like a new battery and some tidying up.  The brakes went pretty well, but we ran into trouble with the brake line, and had to leave it for another week.  I say we, but really, it was our buddy who has done all the work, and he has traveled from a town several hours away for the privilege.  We are unspeakably grateful, and just wish things went smoother, as now he is going to have to drive back in again, to finish it up for us…he has donated a huge amount of his time to us, and I can’t imagine how we will ever manage to return the favor.

 

So all in all we seem to have a lot of loose ends hanging around here, and no firm answers to be seen…

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