Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
June 2011

Bugs. Earwig just sounds disgusting!

The bug pictured to your right is an earwig. They are disgusting! Just nasty! And they seem to thrive in the dark recesses of every home in America. Not in the houses literally, but under outside tarps, rabbit hutches, and sneakily slinking under flower pots of every size. I have seem them living in the shadows of every house I have inhabited since birth. This makes me beg the question, are earwigs the acceptable cockroach of the world?

Half-crab, half-bug, full Jersey Shore, these insects have one redeeming quality…they eat aphids – those cute little green bugs that wreak havoc on vegetable plants of every shape and size. While they may look like adorable Pixar creations, they’re mini-beasts and I applaud earwigs for their work. But really, don’t ladybugs do the same thing? And they’re pretty. Snuggly almost!

Since moving to Orchard House, I’ve been more aware of the animals, including bugs, around me. Lots of spiders. Like the Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter. But they’re good. They eat mosquitos (and earwigs?) and keep to themselves. Moths too, of every shape and color. Flies too. In every variety. But I’ve taken care of them. I’ve taken a “hit” out on every fly at Orchard House. I’ve brought in professionals. They’re as small as ants, but have wings, and apparently have the bite of a Tomahawk missile.

I was watching Pride and Prejudice the other day thinking about those grand English homes. I bet they were spotless. But how did they keep the bugs out? Sure there are natural techniques – lavender, marigolds, etc – but really, those don’t keep giant wolf spiders away. Or earwigs. They’ll make their home in the lavender, and use the marigolds like a jungle gym. They’re like the honey badger, they just don’t care.

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The Orchard House website. Redesigned.

If you have a quick second, or even a minute or two, visit the newly re-designed Orchard House website – It’s sharp and sleek, and somethin’ special!

You can book a room now from almost any page! Just check the calendar for availability (the free rooms are in green). You can also see some of the great pictures we’ve been taking over the past months here at the House. This one of Marvin didn’t make the cut. But with his model stance and handsome looks, I have no clue why not.

Don has a done a great job! And let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you’re already on the great Internets. So surf on over to and take a look around. Your cache will thank you for it.

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Hay is a beast. You need it, and yet you don’t grow it. It’s like dog food, or wine, only in larger quantities, and in bales, that are kept together with string. Actually, I think we do grow hay. I’m not sure. Grass is grass is grass. We let one pasture grow until the grass reaches the hood of my truck and then someone comes and mows it (or reaps?) and bales it, and the takes it away. This always happens at night, like they’re stealing it. And they may be.

If you leave hay on the ground, and then put more on top, eventually you’ll create a carpet of hay. A mess that can literally be rolled up, with insects scurrying left and right for a new home. I have news for those insects…not in my pasture! I have some fly predators stewing on the screen porch right now. Fly predators? Yes! They’re in pupae form right now, but when they hatch, watch out flies! The hay carpet won’t even be able to protect you. I’m about to unleash a whole fleet of Blackhawks on Orchard House!

Hay is also interesting because it can be a fickle food. Some animals eat some, some animals eat other. Thank you Mother Earth, all of the Orchard House brood eats the same hay. Where do we get it? Top secret! I can’t have my supplies running out. Although, the true irony would be if the hay I’m buying is coming from the back field. It could be possible. And Donnie would be upset. But no more upset than when he found my secret art glass collection. But that appreciates in value! Hay gets eaten.

Today, the llamas sat down to eat their hay. Like they were chomping down into a plate of wings or something. No wet-naps needed. Baby Rose was even chomping a little here and there. She loves her hay. And her mother. And I like to think, me. Even if she does run away every time I come near her. But never fear, I’ll woo her with the hay. Because in the end, everyone needs to eat. And Orchard House hay is the truffle of hay. Our pig Bacon even agrees!

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Country. And other words I hate.

I don’t understand the word “country” as it’s used in today’s world. Sure, I love America and it’s a country. But when someone says “you’re country,” what does that mean? Country, like city, is a place. Not a lifestyle. Plenty of people living in the city love gardening, animals, and tending the earth. But they are “city.” There are also plenty of people living in the country that dream of sky-scrapers, loud noises, non-stop sirens, and taxi cabs. But if we can’t say “country,” then what is appropriate?

I was thinking about this as I was picking cherries today in the orchard, after I had cleaned out the barnyard. I felt very “country” but then decided that wasn’t the right term. Because I’ve lived in the city and dreamed of picking cherries from my orchard. Does that mean I was ci-ntry? That doesn’t work. So I’ve come up with a new scale – from 1 to 5 – to determine how “country” I’m feeling. Where would you land on the scale?

1 – Bunny Melon. Sure, you’re a world expert in flowers and live on a gorgeous country estate. But have you ever raked the driveway? And sitting down with the editor-in-chief of Country Living doesn’t mean you’ve mucked a stall that morning. Style over substance wins the day with this catagory.

2 – Elizabeth Bennet. While you may have a cook and chamber maid, you can still walk in the rain and match any man, tete-a-tete, at a country dance or London ball. You don’t mind sitting on the wet ground or picnicking with members of the local regiment. Style again wins, but you definitely could “make it work” if you had to.

3 – Olivia Walton. With 7 children, a randy husband, and live-in in-laws, your life can sure be difficult. But you come from hardy stock, don’t mind waking up early to make bread, and find it only appropriate to clean every dish in the sink before you go to bed. No matter the time. No matter the occasion. You’ve learned to love your life, care for your children, and remain the voice of reason within your community. While you can sure take care of yourself, without the help of your children (and their chores), it would be awful hard to keep up with everything.

4 – Sarah, Plain and Tall. Have you ever moved from Maine to Kansas, in your mid-foutries, to be a mail-order bride to a rancher? Gutsy (and a little crazy)! You have to learn how to care for children. Husbands. Animals and plants. But at the same time, you’re going to have to stand up to men, and a society, that has done it their way for far too long. Both strong and vulnerable, you have carved a life for yourself out of the dustbowl. Kudos.

5 – Caroline Ingalls. You too moved from relative comfort to the frontier. But you didn’t have a house waiting for you. And there were Indians. Indians unhappy with your presence. You raised 3 daughters, a few wayward boys, and nurtured a needy husband in the manner of our Nation’s great pioneer mothers. You’re the real deal! Harriet Oleson can’t bring you down.

Today was a 3. An Olivia Walton kind of day. Rough, and new to me, but not revolutionary. And she’s not “country.” She’s an inspiration. So next time, when you’re working hard or catching a horse, remember, you’re not just a label. You’re work walks in the same path of those who founded our country. And that’s a word I can believe in!

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Full House.

Today, Orchard House is full. We have a full house – like the sitcom of my youth. Minus, of course, the sketchy comedic uncle in the basement . We have a water purifier down there, and lots of spiders. But upstairs, the rooms are full. There are also chocolate chip cookies and some finches singing, one can only guess, their rendition of Cocamo.

Seven people in one house is a lot. For anyone! Except perhaps, those people who have TLC reality shows. But, then again, I want one of those shows. My llamas deserve their time in the sun! And with a house full of guests and about a million animals, we can easily beat 19 and Counting.

You would think cooking breakfast for three separate groups of people would be difficult, like a short-order cook at a diner, but it’s easy. It’s all in the preparation. Isn’t that a saying? Sounds like something Danny Tanner, or Benjamin Franklin, would say. And cleaning isn’t that hard either. Granted cleaning has become my own personal Brussels Sprout, or communist Russia, but I will persevere. If those two little Olsen twins can own a production company at 12, then I can clean a house with three bedrooms.

The animals have been acting weird lately. And by animals, I mean the pig Bacon. He keeps trying to “mount” Winston the alpaca. Biting his legs, jumping him from the side, or from the back. If we had an HR department there would definitely be some complaining going on. Bacon is spoiled. He obviously thinks he’s Babe or someone. Word Bacon, you’re not Babe. You’re more Pumbaa, minus the adorable meerkat sidekick. But I guess an alpaca could be considered a really big meerkat. At least Stephanie would say so! And then Kimmie would say something smug and witty back at her. And that is America.


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