Monday, September 13 2021

fleet farm, horse food, and stock pot lids



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Monday. It's not easy jumping back into the work week after such a long and relaxing weekend, but the dulcet sounds of rain and distant thunder are doing a pretty good job of lulling me back into a quiet and productive attitude. What better time to get back to working and writing than when there's a good summer thunderstorm rolling through your habitat?

My favorite part about today's scenery outside our living room window is that our broken mini fridge is no longer on the curb. The city of Madison requires you to buy a little fifteen dollar sticker to throw away larger appliances, and for the first time I tried buying it online. After clicking through a twelve page wizard on their clunky website, I finally arrived at the screen where I pick a date for the pick-up - the next available date was September 12, 2021. Did I mention that I scheduled this back in July? As the date approached, Marissa and I joked about having a betting pool for whether or not the city would remember to pick up our mini-fridge from the curb two months later. But they remembered, and like a good omen that must bode well for the rest of the week.

Sip. Have you checked on your mini fridge? Do you have any garbage waiting to get picked up on your curb? How was your weekend? This past weekend was good to us. Burgers grilled, football watched, beers drank. But it all wasn't fun and games - we also got some work done too.

I had off work last Friday, so after dropping Rodney off at school Marissa and I treated it like our own extra little Saturday. We plopped Miles into his car seat and carted him away to run some errands. We had planned on hitting at least three different stores to buy supplies for the new worm farm, but thanks to its preparedness, Fleet Farm proved to be the only stop we needed.

"Have you ever been to one of these?" laughed Marissa. "I think you're going to love it."

Fleet Farm is like an apocalyptic midwestern Costco. It's a one-stop shop for all material possessions needed to flourish in rural Wisconsin. Winter clothes, car parts, tree stands, kitchen gadgets, and farm equipment. "It's like Walmart and Home Depot had a baby," added Marissa.

They easily had everything we needed to make the new worm farm, even down to the horse food I'd use as substrate.

worm-plans

Napkin drawing of the new super worm farm.

After getting home, Marissa attached a grate to brackets and drilled holes. It turned out exactly like I had pictured it.

worm-empty

I sat on the back porch and counted worms. I moved all the worms, beetles, and pupas to a single layer of substrate made from rice bran and oats. But I had second thoughts about my choice of horse food. Having not much experience buying horse food, I had to call the phone number on the side of the bag with my own questions. While sitting on hold waiting to ask about pesticides in horse fat supplement, I wondered about what it was like to answer the phone for a company like this. How many questions did they actually get? I had to have been their only phone call this month.

worm-filled

I'm not really sure this new worm farm will work out, but my worm farm numbers are plummeting anyway. I'm already down thirty forms from my last census. But thanks to a new feeding strategy, I may not need nearly as much live spider food as I previously thought and I can afford to experiment. Dave of the popular YouTube channel Dave's Little Beasties teaches that you should feed your spider based on how active they are. Fed spiders hide, and hungry spiders hunt. So it's a good idea to wait until your spider has been prowling around for a few days before feeding. Withholding food for two weeks has already successfully lured Glassy out of his burrow. I hadn't seen him since he last molted. I absolutely love his size and his color now. He looks darker, fuller, and stronger.

glassy

Dave also closes each video by saying "Be calm, be gentle, and love your spider."

Seeing I now had a clean, empty enclosure I wasn't using, Rodney took advantage to re-house his own tarantula. He arranged the bins next to each other in the hallway, luring his stuffed animal out with a stick.

rehouse-1

Rodney lures a Mexican Red Knee tarantula into a new enclosure.

Rodney's Spider appreciated the set-up. Rodney even included a water a real water dish for him to drink. He keeps the enclosure at his bedside with the open water dish and his sopping wet stuffed animal safely tucked inside.

rehouse-2

On Saturday, we made plans to have Connor over for a lavish paella dinner, but he had to cancel because he was feeling sick. By coincidence, Miles was also coming down with a cold. We were looking forward to having Connor over, but the cancellation gave rise to two small positives.

First, I had a chance to make a perfect Seinfeld reference. Without hesitation, I texted "WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH ALL THIS PAELLA?"

Secondly, paella tastes much better with homemade stock, and a freak accident thwarted the batch I was going to use in the paella. On Friday night, I set a stock pot to boil and added a chicken carcass. I skimmed the fat and lowered the heat to a simmer. Five minutes after adding the frozen vegetables, I head what sounded like a sharp gunshot. A fragmented pattern of shattered glass covered the lid.

stockpot

A real bummer.

That's one way to take the fun out of making chicken stock. Thanks for stopping by today, and be careful out there. Watch out for broken stock pot lids. Have a great Monday, everyone.