Caught In The Act

I went out to collect the eggs tonight in the dark. The days are so short now that if I head out just before dinner it is already dark, but I still gather the eggs and top off the animal feed. I walked around to open the door to the nest boxes, and as I peered in it looked like a chicken was facing me.  I worried about getting pecked, so I went around and pulled the cord on the inside coop light first. Before reaching back in, I saw the back-lit shape of this baby possum hunched over a half-eaten egg.

I now realize that if I’d reached right in I would probably have been bitten. Creepy! I guess my Higher Self was whispering in my ear and I’m glad I listened to it. I went to the barn, fetched a hoe, and scooped him roughly out onto the ground. This is something new for me, so I need to look around tomorrow in the daylight to see where the little bugger squeezed into the chicken run so I can foil him in the future.

Now that I saw what was going on, I understand the strange scene I found in the coop when I flipped on the light. A couple of chickens were wedged up in the rafters and I was thinking that looked so uncomfortable and why would they sleep up there? Two chickens were trying to sleep outside on top of a stack of straw bales in a snow drift. I guess they were all just protecting themselves. I doubt that a small possum would hurt a full grown chicken, but who knows?

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..and BOOM, it’s winter.

Here in Michigan, we just got our first big dump of snow. Switch from rakes to shovels and from jackets to heavy coats. I was feeling pretty smug about getting ahead of the game on our winterizing chores, but now that I look around I see quite a few things left undone.

I still have to cut back the rosebushes so they don’t get broken by the snow and there is still one row of grapevines that never got buried by a mound of dirt. We quickly called the man who plows us out to make sure we are still on his list this year.  Our new neighbors had planned to fill some of the gravel potholes in the drive we share but unless it warms back up soon we may have missed the boat on that.

My husband asked if I could still salvage the last of the leaf lettuce. I trudged out to the garden, brushed away the snow with frozen fingers, and there it was hiding, nicely chilled. I’ll leave it to him to see if it is any good because he is in charge of dinner tonight.

I am looking ahead to a blessed slow week at home, knitting Christmas gifts and listening to music.  Last week was crazy with four band rehearsals and two concerts. I love playing my french horn, but that was quite a lot to cram into one week and my performance suffered a bit.

So, as we head into the winter months I suspect I will have do dig deep for something to photograph and talk about in this blog. Then again, no news is good news, right?

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Winterizing the Farm

Vacations are refreshing and fun, but on returning from Idaho we had a lot of work to do to get the farm into shape for the coming cold. We put the fourth wall back up onto the goat shed so they would be protected from the wind. It took no time at all for Eddy to use his horns and pry loose a board from the plexi-glass window frame, so we have more work today to get it screwed back together. Why he gets so much joy from destroying things, I’ll never know.

I’ve moved the chicken’s water back into the coop and will hook up the heated base today. They had dwindled down to laying only 2 or 3 eggs a day, so I put in the red light heat lamp over their roost on a night-time timer and it has come back up to 5 or 6 eggs as their bodies got back into a warmer schedule.

We fetched a trailer full of hay bales and hauled them up by pulley into neat stacks in the hay loft. The cats are already happily using them as winter beds with a great view of any other tiny critters who might be sneaking around on the barn floor.

We took the trailer out twice more, once to bring home a big pile of compost to tuck around the garden rows. My husband had planted rye grass in some of the rows, and lettuce, garlic, carrots, and spinach for late harvesting. We will leave the garlic till springtime, and maybe some of the carrots as well. Then one last trip out with the trailer to bring home bales of straw for the winter. These we stack for walls in the chicken run to hold back the winter wind. They will be used through the year for bedding in the goat shed and to make a warmer path through the snow for the chickens when it begins drifting into their run.

All but one of my chickens were babies last fall, so they may remember the winter routine. I gave away Prince Harry, the first baby rooster, to a neighbor and the other rooster is maturing nicely. He has a beautiful red comb that will probably be flattened out by spring as it struggles with the cold Michigan winter frostbite. I have learned that it’s a losing battle trying to protect it so instead I just accept it as part of the farm story. Red’s gorgeous blue-green tail feathers are only half-way grown and I think he will be quite the handsome fellow by the end of winter. He is the bane of the hens in the morning, though, waiting to jump on each one as they emerge from the coop.

I have come to love the seasonal changes on the farm as the cycles become familiar and routine. We know what to do, what to expect, and how long each pattern lasts before the call for new preparations and different seasonal chores kicks in. Farm life gets us in tune with nature in a way that daily commutes to and from a job never did.

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Sheepdog Trials

We’ve been away on a big vacation trip to Idaho to visit the Trailing of the Sheep festival. What a fun visit it was! I recommend it to anyone who gets into wool, sheep, fiber arts, and seeing new mountainous terrain.

One of the events we enjoyed was watching the sheepdog trials. The point of the festival was that in October they bring the herds of sheep down from their mountain grazing grounds and get them loaded up for shearing and such. This was a great opportunity to show off the talents of those amazing border collies and their trainers.

I captured this photo of a trainer and her dog, partly because I loved the sweater she was wearing and thought I’d use the colors and pattern myself some day. Besides that, though, she was a good example of the exhibition. She communicated with her dog almost exclusively by whistles.

In this picture, you can see how far that dog had to run to pick up her five sheep way down there at the base of the mountain pass. The dogs had a prescribed route to follow, bringing the sheep all the way back to the trainer, then through two pairs of gates, around a post in the middle, and finally into a circle where they had to “shed” two sheep apart from the other three. None of the dogs were remotely perfect and the announcer who was explaining it to the crowd said these sheep were unusually tough because they’d been on their own all summer and were not real interested in obeying a dog. I loved watching the relationship between the trainer and dog, though, and had dreams of training one of my own. Not going to happen – too much work!



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Getting to the End of the Harvest

This has been such a satisfying year of making the most of the farm. The goats and chickens gave us so much, the cats did their job keeping the mice down and giving us affection when they felt like it. We got four nice pumpkins in time for the Halloween season, and my cantaloupes and little watermelons waited on the vine until we were ready to eat them.

Last week, we picked several buckets of grapes and I spent a marathon session with the steam juicer canning 11 quart jars of delicious grape juice. I was achy and sore by the time I was done and when I got down on my knees to clean the drips off the kitchen floor I almost couldn’t get back up. (Poor old lady knees.) I like to finish what I’ve started so I have a tendency to work too long and put a lot of stress on my body. I don’t think I’ll ever learn to do things differently, so I just have to live with the consequences.

I dried the last of the Roma tomatoes and have several big zippy bags of the thin crispy morsels hiding away in the freezer. I threw in and handful with some risotto I’d made with dried morel mushrooms from the springtime, and it was outstanding.

All that is left is a late planting of leaf lettuce, spinach, and a little row of carrots that we might leave till spring so they get plenty of time to grow. I did this once by accident 30 years ago and by the spring I was surprised to dig up carrots the diameter of baking potatoes.

I am a person who gets satisfaction from making things from scratch, “the old fashioned way”, so this farm is serving me well. It is a lot of work but it keeps us moving, creating, and admiring the beauty and wonder of nature. What more could one ask for?

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Fall Shearing

Over the last few weeks, I sheared, dyed, and carded the mohair from the two goats and am proud to say I have it all “done and dusted”, as my Irish friends say. This time, I did it all by hand using the old-fashioned clipper instead of the heavy, noisy electric one. It took me just about as long to do but the goats were a lot less stressed out about it.  They did not get trimmed as close and neatly as the electric clipper would do, but all in all I think I’d call it a success.

Dyed Mohair - from white goatEddy’s soft white hair may still be suitable for making clothing. I didn’t mix any of the dyes this time, just used Dusty Rose, Poppy Red, Spearmint, and Sky Blue. I think they are all pretty.

Ely’s hair is considerably more coarse as a three year-old and will have to be for rugs. Planning for this, I did a bunch of random experimental mixes of dye, aiming for shades of brown and burgundy. At the end, I was tired and decided to do Sunshine Yellow just to see what it did to black hair. 

I plan to spend the slow winter months gradually constructing a rug to lay by the bed in the basement guest room. I’ve seen rugs online that have many colors that shift in random stripes and that is what I am aiming for. After carding all that fiber (I actually weighed Eddy’s and found it was over four pounds), the originally white stuff is soft as a cloud. I thought I might make a patriotic red white and blue sweater for next Memorial Day. When I knit with my own yarn, it is a bit of a gamble because I am never certain I’ll have enough. Once it is gone, there is no running to the store to buy one more skein, so I have to improvise and use different colors or rip it out and redesign the sweater. Nothing like adding a little suspense to the task!

Oh, and back to the goats… After shearing them, their remaining hair contained three years of accumulated sweat, oil, and dirt. I didn’t feel like petting or scratching them in that state, so I went to YouTube to see how I might bathe them. It was a comical but satisfying experience. Although goats hate getting wet in the rain, they thoroughly enjoyed being scrubbed down with dog shampoo and being rinsed with warm water from the hose. I softened up and cleaned their belly hair and trimmed it up the next day so they are starting the next season feeling light and fresh. If I’d known how much better we’d all feel about it, I would have tried this years ago.

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Broody – Epilogue

My husband thought the foreboding ending of my last post implied that I’d killed off Broody. No! That is a step more hard-hearted than I can bring myself to be. I did take away all her eggs and have made the decision to no longer let her sit on the nest, which I’d assumed would be a big loss to her.

Contrary to my expectations, this morning Broody had joined the whole flock for the first time in over a month, and was peacefully scratching the floor for grain with all her sisters. So, psychoanalyzing my chicken, perhaps she felt relief not having to babysit anymore instead of grief over losing her (potential) children. I still may have to use my shovel to push her off the nest every afternoon to take away the eggs, but at least for now she has changed her behavior and seems quite happy to be free of the burden. Who would have thought?

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Time’s Up for Broody

20190813_085534My experiment with my hen who was determined to hatch a brood has ended. I did all I could for her, but it just wasn’t working out for me and she wasn’t getting anywhere. She had learned to move over to another nest long enough for some other hens to add to her clutch of eggs, then switch back over and guard them. So much for letting her have her three marked eggs. I got her off the nest tonight, and the pile had grown to fifteen!

I don’t know if it is safe to eat eggs she has sat on for several days, so I took them all and cracked them open one by one into a bowl. It seems the older ones have yolks that don’t hold together as tightly as the freshest eggs. The ones I’d marked were nasty, not smelling like sulfur, but not a pleasant experience. There was only one that was beginning to develop into a chick, but it was quite early days.

In the end, I threw all the eggs away – the new and the old. I’d lost my appetite for them. I cleaned out the coop and got a spade that I will keep handy to push Broody out of the way when I collect the eggs until she gives up on her quest altogether.  I feel a little sad for her. She wanted so badly to be a mother, but it was not to be. This is a farm, though, and we count on eggs to eat and to share. I can’t be worrying over which ones are safe to eat anymore. I’ve learned farmers have to be a little hard-hearted to do what needs to be done.

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Waiting for Chicks to Hatch

Remember Broody, my hen who was determined to sit on her eggs until they hatched? She has sat for at least three weeks now, glowering at anyone who dares to come close, and viciously darting her beak out to stab any threat.

I’ve tried many different methods to extract the newer eggs that wind up in her nest, leaving the three I had marked with “X”. I wore thick leather gloves, held her at bay with a broom, but she still managed to scare me such that I have dropped eggs several times with nervous butter-finger moves when I see her preparing to attack.

Finally, I came up with something that calmed her down. I nailed a bit of yoga mat to the outside wall of the nest box so that she isn’t exposed when I open the door to fetch eggs. She has since flattened down to provide maximum warmth to the brood and as far as I can tell she hasn’t moved. I don’t dare lift the yellow mat to look inside and see if there are three eggs or twenty.

According to my calculations, the first egg should have hatched on September 3, two days ago. I haven’t heard any peeping and Broody won’t move out of the way for me to look. For all I know, these eggs are rotting away under her, or perhaps there are live babies maturing under her body. I’ve never experienced this before and don’t know what to do next, so if any of you out there have advice, I’d be happy to read it.

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Butterfly Weed Works!

20190831_165332We have scattered plantings of butterfly weed, (different from Butterfly Bush), in the fields, but one nice plant in our backyard perennial garden.  Walking by it last night I saw this weird growth that I stopped to examine. It turned out to be a big orgy of orange beetles clustered on the pods. The sticky pods must have a very enticing scent.

While I  was watching, I looked up to find a gorgeous Monarch caterpillar. I’m kind of excited to see proof that we are helping the butterfly population.

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Mickey’s Back!

Technically, we have two barn cats, Emmie and Mickey.  Emmie is the sleek black one who visits with me about a third of the time that I go out to the barn. Mickey is a lot friendlier, but has gone missing for several months. Recently, though, he has reappeared and is very eager to be held and cuddled.

This leads me to the question, where do they go when they vanish? Are they living with another family? Are they roaming the wild all day? And my biggest fear, have they suffered an accident or been eaten by a predator? At least my fear is eliminated because in the three years or so we have had them, they always come back some time.

Mickey has thick ermine-like fur and huge feet with an extra toe on each. When I pick him up, he rotates to rest his chest against mine and tucks his nose under my arm. Very endearing little guy. I guess the thing with cats is that you take what they give you and learn not to expect much. So different from dogs!

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Work To Be Done

It looks like the harvesting season  is kicking into high gear. I did the spinach in May, strawberries in June, asparagus in June and July, and now all the summer stuff is coming ripe. I really do love feeling like we can subsist on our own tended garden, but it is no small task to preserve it all for use through the rest of the year.

Yesterday I tackled the first big haul of tomatoes. I skinned and canned seven quarts and then filled my dehydrator with sliced Roma tomatoes for the “sun-dried” option. I lost track of the zucchinis for a few days and now have some baseball bats to make into quick breads for the freezer. We harvested our first of three batches of red potatoes, and it was fun to see how it worked. My husband tried out a new way to grow them that doesn’t require digging them out of the ground and it worked like a charm.

I’m amazed at how the Chinese eggplants just keep producing. I’m starting to get bored with them, which is pretty silly because they are a special treat this year. It’s interesting how even a wonderful thing gets mundane when you get it too frequently.  I’m missing the green beans and corn we did not plant this year, but I do have a vine garden of cantaloupe, sugar baby watermelon, and pumpkins that is doing well under the fruit trees.

This just goes to show you how much bounty you can get if you give the garden its due attention, as we did this year. Lesson learned.

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We have two Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, an Irish breed that meets the bottom line requirement for my husband — no allergic reaction.  Beezee has the “Irish coat”, a silky wavy variety that does not grow very fast and thus does not require much grooming. When she has been bathed, her hair is soft, sweet, and flowing like angel robes. She can hardly wait to go outside and roll in something smelly.

We adopted Beezee when she was four years old, having been returned to the breeder because she couldn’t live with the man of the house.  We got forewarning that large, loud men would stress her out. We said we’d give it a try. She adapted really well to our little family and cuddled up to my husband and me immediately. She is smart, sweet, and gets along with Fionn, who is technically her brother-in-law, as she had borne a litter fathered by Fionn’s brother.

Beezee has springs in her muscles – think Tigger. She can be sleeping peacefully on the bed and the faint crunch of gravel down the driveway will snap her to attention as she flies through the air to the window, shouting in alarm. I guess you can say she is a good protector. It causes us some trouble when we have visitors, especially men. She can tolerate male company until they rise from their chairs to leave. That is her cue to whip around behind them to snap at their hand or calf, not biting down hard, but making her point known. We tried everything in our bag of tricks to train her out of it but now we just lock her up when company comes.

Beezee is motherly with canine company. She will play goodheartedly with Addie and let her climb all over her without complaint. Perhaps it is because she has had children of her own. She will stand up for herself when she is getting a bit more sniffing than she cares for, lifting her lip and showing some teeth. Dogs understand that signal quite easily.

She and Fionn have their little routines and forms of communication. Beezee will be chewing on a toy and Fionn will give a faint growl from the sofa. She’ll politely walk away and he’ll pounce triumphantly on the toy. It all seems to be good-natured play between them. Beezee can tolerate just about everything except Fionn being louder than she is at the window. That will bring a snarl and a snap of correction from her. They don’t cuddle or groom each other but they do trot around the yard together as a team. Even if they aren’t soul mates they still belong to the same pack.


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My friend’s second dog, Murray, is a real sweetheart. He is male, but I think of him as a girl because he is so affectionate and gentle. Murray follows me around the house everywhere I go, pushing his nose into the crack in the bathroom door so he won’t be left out. He goes nuts when he sees me grab my purse and head for the door because he wants very badly to go along. Going nuts, for Murray, means yowling and bouncing on his front feet as he turns in circles. It makes me feel very bad if I am unable to take him with me.

When I am dog-sitting I don’t leave the house much, but each morning I pile the spaniels into the car with me to go to my friend’s house to feed her horses and cat. They are thrilled to be taken somewhere and this is an opportunity for them to run in their own yard, but they tend to hang close to where they last saw me and howl when I go out of sight. It makes me feel very important.

Murray is tolerant of his brother’s barking habit and doesn’t often join in. However, periodically in the middle of the night he will wake up and start yowling like a child in pain. It worried me at first and I’d run to check on him, till I figured out that if I wait for a couple minutes he would go back to sleep and forget all about it. He probably woke up from a bad dream and forgot where he was.

I think what happens is that we get used to our own dogs’ unusual habits and we work around them, but experiencing a visiting dog’s peculiarities is surprising and strange. I really enjoy getting to know each little personality and loving them for who they are.

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My friend’s Cavalier King Charles spaniel, named “Dash” after Queen Victoria’s favorite of the same breed, is staying with us for a while with his brother Murray. Dash has a regal profile, often tipping his chin up and looking at me with sad eyes and drooping jowls.

My experience with this breed is that they are slow and steady, plodding with feet pointed slightly outward and not in too big a hurry most of the time. They do run and play like all dogs, but in comparison to my high-strung terriers they are relatively calm and mild mannered.

Dash is comfortable visiting in our home and has staked out his spot to lay quietly most of the time, snoring heavily in peace. I believe most of his hearing is gone because to get his attention I have to touch him to get eye contact and then use hand signals such as tapping my thigh for him to come.

He has been adapting to our household routines. For instance, we all file upstairs to watch TV for a while before bedtime and Dash was adamant that he was unable to climb the stairs. One night I put him on a leash and pulled him up with us and pulled him back down when it was time for bed. After that experience, he realized he was fully capable and now he follows us all up and down on the stairs on his own volition. He just needed to find out he could do it.

Dash also loves his meals. Who doesn’t? But if Dash feels it is time to be fed, no matter if it is several hours early or the middle of the night, he begins barking insistently and pushing his dish around the floor. He is beginning to catch on that all the dogs get breakfast and dinner at the same time and barking doesn’t change that.

Last night I was sitting in the room, knitting, and Dash woke up and started wagging his tail and looking at the wall. Strange. Then he jumped up and swiped at something and I realized that as my wrist moved, the reflection off my watch was making a light spot move across the room. He can’t hear much but he was hyper alert about a mysterious moving light. What a character!

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My daughter’s other little dog is a Chihuahua-Yorkie mix named Taco. His Yorkshire Terrier heritage gives him a shed-free silky brown coat and the Chihuahua side gives him the wide-set  round eyes, fierce temper, and tendency to tremble when stressed. DNA testing revealed a touch of Brussels Griffin which would explain his charming little snubbed nose and bristly beard.

Taco has a personality that far out-spans his size. When he is visiting at our house, he trembles with the desire to join in to play or be petted but his defenses hold him back out of reach much of the time. With the larger dogs it often comes out as snarling, snapping teeth, especially if he has secured a lap and doesn’t want any competition. You can tell how badly he wants to be involved and I know if we patiently wait a day or two we will be gifted with a more relaxed pup coming to us for affection.

I am always surprised to see how, among dogs, the size of the animal has little bearing on how the others relate to him.  A little 5 lb. squirt can hold a 40 lb. adult at bay, cautiously giving him a wide berth. It seems to be the personality that matters, not the muscle mass.

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My daughter’s little rescue mutt is named Addie. She is part schnauzer which gives her a gray shed-free coat with black ears flopping forward and a soft white beard. Her eyes are almond-shaped with black eyeliner giving the impression of little arrow points on the sides. She came with way too many teeth and had a goofy snaggle-toothed grin until one day the veterinarian pulled out several in her front lower jaw to make it “healthier.” My daughter was devastated to see Addie’s new gappy smile. They are gradually evening out over time, but she will never lose that comical expression.

A rescue dog is always a gamble because you don’t know what incidents in their past may have given them personality traits that are not ideal. But don’t all dogs – and all people – have these even if you know every aspect of their past? Addie seems to have been an excellent gamble. She has a sunny, bouncy, enthusiastic view of her life. When you come in the door she greets you by spinning in dizzy circles and standing on her hind legs and rapidly churning the air with her two front paws together.  Her long, skinny body twists and turns like a ferret and it is hard to keep your eye on her.

When Addie came to join the pack for a vacation sleep-over, she couldn’t believe her luck to see all these new faces trotting towards her. Her immediate priority was to figure out where she fit in. The spaniels froze when they encountered her dizzying movement, and she took that as a cue that perhaps she might be higher in the pack hierarchy than these bigger dogs.  Her pattern with Fionn and Beezee is to reach up for their heads and jump up and down to play until they either give in or turn their faces to the side and walk away. With the new two characters, she decided to play the tough guy and stare them down until they backed away, cowering. As the day wore on, however, they began to realize she was more of an annoyance than a threat and they went back to sleeping on their cushions and running to the door with the rest of the pack.

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Living With The Pack

We are blessed for a couple weeks this summer to have temporarily expanded the dog population at the farm. My friend brought over her two Cavalier King Charles spaniels while traveling overseas, and then my daughter asked if we could watch her two little guys for a few days as well. That makes six dogs in the house and, call me crazy, but I love it.

We set up a temporary fence in the yard, with access to the front porch so that we can open the front door and swoosh out the whole pack at once without having to put on shoes and snap on leashes. Even our own dogs want in on these trips out the door even though they can roam freely with their electric fence collars. Being enclosed meant nothing to our agile Beezee when she saw a rabbit across the yard. With a single bound, she leapt off the wall of the front porch and raced away. She was quite dismayed when she returned and found she couldn’t jump back up from down on the ground and was separated from the pack.

We rearrange our sleeping situation when we have visiting animals. My husband takes our two up to the bedroom and I sleep downstairs near the others just in case something unexpected happens. The visitors are confined to crates at night or when we both have to leave the house and can’t keep an eye on them, but most of the time we all share the main floor and I am surrounded by content, snoring creatures.  I’ve decided to do a little article on each dog, so watch for stories and pictures over the next few days.

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Summer Harvest

We are joyously in the middle of the zucchini and cucumber deluge, along with the new addition of slim little Chinese eggplants. Hubby pulled the onions yesterday and we need to find a good place to store them so that they don’t rot before we get a chance to use them. I finally got down to staking up the tomato vines that had crisscrossed the garden floor in a tangled heap. We mustn’t let it go that long without attention next year!

Now, with the green tomatoes tied up to their individual towers and the yellowing leaf stalks trimmed off, I see that we will have quite a large harvest in the coming weeks. At least now most of them are off the ground. I missed having jars of tomatoes on the shelf last year because I had chosen to take the easier route and cook them all down into sauce. I keep forgetting to actually use the sauce, so I’ll have to consciously add that to my kitchen repertoire.

This year my husband got around to planting a fall crop of spinach, lettuce and carrots, something we always talk about doing but seldom get to on time. We really have focused our attention on the garden for once, probably due to not traveling much in the spring or summer. It feels good to have a flourishing garden although that meant giving up other ways to spend our time. You can’t have everything.

We’ve got pretty flowers in the vegetable garden, in the beds by the house and barn, and of course all over the fields. It’s almost too much beauty to take in. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by this happy farm at this point in my life.

When we retired, we put a lot of thought into what would make us happy to have in our lives if we could choose. Bit by bit, we made those choices and built the world we wanted. Now, we can curate our lives with additional projects and dreams as they present themselves. As Mary Oliver said, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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Feeling Broody

hen on nest

The glare.

This is a first for me. I have a “broody hen.” One of my black hens has taken to spending most of the day sitting in a nest box. I had assumed she was feeling defensive because she was molting and tired of having her bare back pecked by her sisters, or maybe she is just sick and tired of the rooster’s attentions.

Anyway, when I opened the door to fetch the eggs, she hopped out of the nest but turned right around and pecked me when I reached in to get them. That is not normal behavior. This happened two days in a row, so I have decided to leave her a couple eggs to hatch if that is what she wants to do. I really don’t need any more chickens but this could be an interesting experience.

One problem I haven’t figured out is how to keep the eggs of the same age so that they hatch at the same time. I marked the two that were there this morning while Broody was out pecking up her morning scratch grains. One was from yesterday and one was new today. Neither came from this hen, as her eggs are brown, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.  I think what I’ll do is remove any eggs appearing in the nest that don’t have an “X” on them and leave her these two to care for. It would be nice to see little babies running around with a mother watching out for them. Up until now, I’ve had to be their protector and it hasn’t always worked well. I’ll have to wait three weeks, so perhaps around September 3 we will have a big birthday!


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