Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eight Hundred Books & Counting...

Ryan and I had a blast last weekend at this huge warehouse sale full of thousands of books! Apparently, these people bought out a used book store, and now, years later, were themselves trying to get rid of their stock. All hardcovers were $1, and all paperbacks were 50 cents! It was like going to heaven for Ryan and me!! We didn't have much money, so we couldn't snag as much as we wanted ("We'll take it ALL, please."), but we did get about 12 books on antiques, a gorgeous hardcover edition of Les Miserables, some classics not yet in our collection, a history of art, and many other interesting books. I also snagged two "collector" books (there was a fortune in antique books alone at this sale). One of them was printed in 1898, and in the inside front cover was signed by someone w/a quill pen and dated 1902! The other antique book I picked up was a school book on astromony from the early 1900's. It has a gilt-stamped picture of the sun on its cover. I love books...can you tell? ;) In some ways I hate having to run a professional B&B (and thus keep the house clean!), because there is nothing that makes me happier than having piles and piles of books in the livingroom, and sitting on the couch reading through each one. I guess, if given the opportunity, I would happily become one of those hermit-scholars whose house was crammed top to bottom with piles of books! I think I'm seriously on my way there at any rate...

In other news, we moved Madame The Chicklet (or "Chick-le-potomus" as Ryan likes to call her) into her foaling stall yesterday. Poor thing was totally freaked out at being separated from the other donkeys, but Cappuchino (Chicklet's best friend in the next stall/pasture) was over-joyed to see her buddy again. It was really cute. I am excited for Chicklet's foal ("Jacopo") to arrive!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

After Many Deep & Profound Brain Things Inside of My Head...

The above title is an example of irony, as it's 6 am and my coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

Even though today is Ryan's day off from work (and we don't have any B&B guests to worry about), we are still up early in the morning. The reason: we promised my Grammy we'd take her yard sale hopping today (or "slumming" as I like to refer to it) to get her out of the house and away from Grandpa. She's hoping to find a dresser, and Ryan and I are hoping to score so
me more books for our library.

I have started making some "Healing" salve this week. I have been harvesting calendula, comfrey, and chamomile in large amounts out of my garden this month, so yesterday I put 2 parts calendula/comfrey and 1 part chamomile in a jar with olive oil and set it in a sunny window. I will leave it there for three weeks, at which point I will strain out the herbs, mix it with Beeswax and a little Vitamin E, and have a wonderful skin-healing salve! I also need to get started on making my herbal shampoos (ro
semary) and facial toners (sage & apple cider vinegar). So much to do during harvest season! Speaking of harvesting, Ryan and I harvested our first crop of asian pears yesterday. So exciting! I love being able to live almost entirely off of our land!!

Well, on another note, Ryan and I made the first step toward expanding our art collection!! Those who have been to our B&B realize that we collect original oil paintings. I inherited an enormous number of original oil paintings from relatives several years ago, and Ryan and I have always said that we want to continue adding paintings to our collection. Because we are generally stretched to the wire money-wise, we really haven't been able to afford more than two paintings in the 3+ years we have been together. There was the oil painting of the old barn that Ryan bought for me for our first Christmas together! There's a sweet story in that painting: on one of our early dates, he took me to an art gallery (because I do so love paintings), and walked around with me and asked me which paintings I liked best and why...well, several days later, he went back to the gallery and bought the only painting that I liked that he could afford (he spent his entire paycheck! Lovestruck, anyone?) - a small oil depicting an old barn. He even got a chance to meet the artist while he was paying for it! So that was the first painting we bought (it now hangs over our bed in our "Innkeepers' Quarters"), and the second was a beautiful painting of a milk can with flowers that I saw & fell in love with at an antique store. Ryan didn't adore it the way that I did, but he let me buy it anyway. That one now hangs over my computer desk. Those were the only two paintings we had purchased thus far...well, last week Ryan and I went browsing at the Antique Mall in Medford, and fell in love with a GORGEOUS 7 foot long oil by YW Leung. I will forever remember the moment: I had been awestruck by the painting from the minute we walked into the booth. Ryan had been so focused on an antique knife on a stand under the painting (just like a man! *laughing*), that he didn't even notice the artwork. He said, "I love this knife!" and I replied, "I love this PAINTING!" At which point Ryan stepped back and looked up and gasped. That is the moment I will always remember. We both decided that we absolutely had to have it! This was the first time in our life that we BOTH loved a painting (it's usually just one or the other). The enormous oil is of a fleet of Chinese ships at sea, and the artist used reds and oranges in such a way (so it's either dawn or dusk) as to make it appear as though the ocean was on fire! And the painting is done in the style that I ADORE (the same as the "Three Ballerinas" in our dining room): big, thick brush strokes that look like chaos when you stand close, but from afar show an enormous amount of detail! The picture is going to look breath-taking on our deep red livingroom wall!! Anywho, the price was more than fair, but even so, we had to put it on layaway and will be making payments on it. I can't wait to bring it home!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Precious Moments...

Zatarra heehawed for the first time today!!! It was so exciting! She does not sound as delicate as I would have expected something so small and dainty to be - more like a cross between Covey's honking bray and Moonie's squeal. Either way, I am so happy and proud! Ryan and I have been anxiously awaiting Zatarra's first call, and taking bets on what she'd sound like (I was hoping for another fog horn like her mommy)!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Quick Breath...

We just finished with our first set of guests this past 4th of July weekend (Fri-Mon). They were REALLY nice people, and we couldn't have asked for a better set of guests to "break us in." They were polite, considerate, weren't too picky about food, left from about 10 am to 10 pm every day (so Ryan and I had time to ourselves and didn't feel completely overwhelmed), and slept like the dead. The last part came in VERY handy during the unfortunate incident on the first morning involving smoke detectors and scorpions. No, I am not going to tell that story right now. It's best saved for another day...

We are booked for the 2nd guest room on July 16-18, and the main guest room on July 24 & 25th. I am hoping to get at least one other booking for the month of July. *fingers crossed* Not too shabby for not even having paid for advertising yet! I have been monopolizing a lot of free online advertising...you would be surprised how much is out there if you take the time to look! And it helps to befriend the local businesses and have them put you on their websites!

In other news, Zatarra is getting big, and Ryan and I have finally begun socializing her. This involves catching her & petting her (I know, I know, what a terrible thing! Petting my baby donkey!). I felt bad the first time though: she cowered in a corner with her tail between her legs while Ryan and I petted her! :( I know she'll learn to love us in time, but I felt like a BAD PERSON when she did that!!! Speaking of baby donkeys, Chicklet is due ANY day now, and Ryan and I are racing to temporarily fence that 4th barn pasture for her. We can't afford to fence it the way we will eventually (which we calculated will cost ~$800 in fencing and T-posts), but we have about 80 feet of leftover fencing and 10 posts, and we are going to create a temporary foaling pasture that we will take out later. We've been so busy getting the B&B stuff in order that we completely forgot about Chicklet. I checked the calendar yesterday and went, "Oh NO! Chicklet is due on the 15th!!!" This is about typical for Ryan and I during the summer, I have decided. We talked, and next year we are only going to breed goats (and plan to have them kid BEFORE summer tourist season starts!). We are going to take a year off from donkeys. I can't do both AND run the B&B! It's too much!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Who Can Take a Sunrise
Sprinkle it with Dew...

Well, my to-do list today (after watering the garden and landscaping...which usually takes anywhere from 1 to 4 hours of my morning) includes sewing a new set of curtains for the Apothecary Suite (made out of the same material as the couch I re-upholstered), cleaning the suite's bathroom, and picking up the clutter on the living room coffee table (currently my "herb reference area" - which is fancy talk for saying that I have taken over that portion of the furniture with piles of my many plant-related texts). Yesterday I made an enormous batch of homemade granola for the guests, and this morning I baked my healthy blueberry breakfast cake w/lemon & apricot topping. Ryan's picking up the Apothecary Suite comforter from the dry cleaners today, and getting some more Good Bean coffee (the only coffee we drink/serve here!) for the guests. Speaking of herbs, my plant babies are doing remarkably well! My sage sprouts are healthy and vigorous, and my madder plants are taking over. I need to transplant more of the sprouts (out of the germination trays and) into larger pots so that I can germinate my carob seeds! I am still on the waiting list for cinnamon seeds. The wait is projected at 6 months - they obtain the fresh seeds from Zanzibar twice a year, and I missed the most recent batch. My Mexican Tarragon (also known as psychoactive marigold) is doing well, and my calendula has so many blossoms that I can barely keep up with harvesting them all! Currently, I have racks and racks of them drying in several rooms around the property, as well as the wild chamomile we have been harvesting for months now (we probably have about 2 acres worth of the stuff). One of my juan canary melon plants has a teeny tiny yellow flower on it! Yesterday, I picked a handful of ripe cherry tomatoes and pineapple tomatillos and ate them fresh from the garden as I went about morning chores. I love harvest time! This year, I actually managed to get all of my tomatoes planted at the correct time (unlike last year where I planted too late and didn't allow enough time for the tomatoes to actually ripen ON the vine), so I am already eating tomatoes! Yay! We are between berry harvests right now: our first crop of ever-bearing strawberries has finished, and now we are waiting for the next batch of flowers to turn into fruit. We just finished harvesting our early raspberries and blueberries, and the blackberries are not ripe yet. Now we will have to wait for our fall crop of raspberries and blueberries. My non-remontant heirloom roses have finished blooming, but the modern ones are still putting out some gorgeous flowers. Some of my favorites are the Dragonsblood & Pinata varieties I have planted around the house. I need to cut some and put them in vases for the guest rooms...there are so many little touches I like to add to make people's stay here more enjoyable.
It's about time to move Cappuchino and Zatarra out of the foaling pasture and to move Chicklet in. Scary!! I don't think that I am ready yet to do another batch of weeks and weeks of staying up all night watching the barn camera (only to have the foaling happen in the pasture). Thankfully, this is the last baby of the season. We will be breeding our nigerians around September/October (which means we are drying off the does in August), for March 2010 kids. I don't know if we will breed any donkeys this year. That's still up in air... Well, off to work!