Archive for September, 2009

Music to Muck By

September 26th, 2009

Margaret Mucking

We spent this past Saturday mucking out all the pens in the barn. We do it in shifts, tackling the big goat pen first, then moving to the kid pen, and finally hitting the stinkiest: the chicken coop. Fueled by a good breakfast and a heavy dose of caffeine, it took me about three hours to empty the first pen of its dense strata of damp shavings and tangled hay. Karl finished the job, spending another two hours with a pitchfork and shovel in the barn.

We do a complete pen cleaning twice a year, in the early fall and again in spring. In autumn, we shovel out as early as possible so that the bedding can build up a little to insulate through the winter. In spring, we clean out the mountain of muck as soon as the pasture has thawed enough to put the goats out for a whole day. Whenever we do it, the goats always seem a little disoriented to come into a fresh-smelling barn with fluffy pine shavings strewn in their pens.

The more we muck, the more important we’ve found the soundtrack to be–a maudlin tune can grind the whole enterprise to a halt. Here’s what’s on our playlists:

Margaret: The Man in Black keeps me going–I started with Johnny Cash‘s Unearthed, Volume 5: Best of Cash on American, followed by Unearthed, Volume 3: Redemption Songs. Finally, when I needed language as foul as the task at hand, I listened to Gogol Bordello‘s Super Taranta!

Karl:  I got started with James, The Best of James, as just about every song is upbeat and puts a spring into your Wellies. I followed that with R.E.M.‘s Automatic for the People. Not quite as upbeat across the board, but the first track, “Drive,” might be what the Volga Boatmen would put their backs into today, and pen mucking gives a whole new meaning to “Everybody Hurts.” I finished up with Son Volt‘s first album, Trace, one of my desert island discs, it’s an album that always keeps me going on long drives and takes me back to our year on the road. Jonathan Richman‘s super catchy album Surrender To Jonathan gave me one last burst of energy needed to finish the job.


From the Briny Deep

September 22nd, 2009
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Another delicious use for turnip pickle (or maybe any pickle) brine…

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