Northern Warmth

Friday EJ drove over to his friend’s house on the other side of the state to help him begin tidying up the place. EJ’s friend has been considering a major move. His Dad died not long ago so I think there is no longer anything holding him to the area.

While EJ was gone, I spent the day getting a few things done. I cleaned the house, did laundry, cleaned out the refrigerator freezer, and put away the little propane heater. We had the heater set out ready to use all winter, but we’ve had such a mild winter that we haven’t needed it. When I told EJ that I had put away the heater, he said, “Oh, oh! Now we are going to get hit with a huge winter storm!” Everyone knows that when we put away winter items too early, we suddenly get hit with huge snowstorms. We are holding our breath but so far there are no blizzards on the horizon.

In fact, the temperatures have been in the 30s and 40s (F) lately and today it reached 52! I wore a jacket when we walked to the mailbox with Hannah Joy. Later I did my chores without any coat on! Our snow is melting away and there is rain in our forecast for a couple of days this week. EJ said that it’s sort of bad that it’s going to rain because the ground is still frozen so the rain will not soak into the ground and we could get flooding. Also, it can be dangerous when we get a mix of warm and cold temperatures because the warmth melts the snow which the cold freezes into ice and makes walking or driving difficult. We are enjoying the Spring-like weather while it’s here, but we also have a lot of ice around so I try to be very careful. We could still get winter weather in March and April, and there have been times (though rare) that it’s even snowed in May.

We don’t want to risk Hannah Joy chasing wildlife and getting lost so we keep her on a tether when she wants outside or on a leash when we walk her. In the summer, I put her on a heavy-duty tether fastened to a t-post. However, I can’t leave the tether out in the winter because it could get hidden by snow and tangled in the snowblower. Instead, I take Hannah Joy out on her retractable leash and slide the handle over the t-post. I had thought carefully about where to place the t-post so Hannah Joy wouldn’t get tangled around trees, bushes, or posts. She can reach the birdfeeder posts, but that wasn’t a problem until we got our cat Theo from the Michigan Barn Cat Program. The Program finds homes for cats that aren’t happy with the pampered indoor life. We adopted two cats from the Program a year or two ago. Theo and Millie enjoy freedom during the day, but I always shut them safely in the snug coop with the chickens at night. The cats help keep the place free of mice, which can eat the chickens’ food and nibble their toes at night.

Theo likes to try to catch birds at the feeder. He is unsuccessful at catching birds, but he often tips the birdfeeder tray and spills seed all over the ground, which Hannah Joy loves to eat. Late last week Hannah Joy ate so much spilled seed that for several days afterward, she pooped out turds that looked as if they had been rolled in birdseed. After that, I took her out on her leash and didn’t let her near the seed. I have tried all sorts of measures to block Theo’s ability to spill the seed but so far I’ve been unsuccessful. I am now planning to move the bird feeder post a few feet away. I’ll still have to figure out how to keep Theo away, but at least Hannah Joy won’t be able to eat the seed. First, however, I will have to wait for the ground to thaw before I can pull up the post and dig a new hole for it.

Yesterday Hannah Joy was complaining that she wanted outside. I suspected she just wanted to eat the bird seed so I ignored her for a while. She gets more and more vocal whenever I don’t leap immediately to do her bidding. I said to EJ, “Watch this!” I got out my camera, pointed it at Hannah Joy, and said, “I’m going to video you throwing a tantrum and share it on the Internet.” She immediately shut up and lay down. She does that every time I try to video her tantrums. She is so funny.

Chickens in the garden

The chickens don’t come out of their coop when the weather is cold and snowy. However, the weather has been so nice lately that they’ve been getting out to enjoy it. Between planting and harvest, we keep the chickens out of the garden but the rest of the year they are free to enjoy it. Their scratching and pooping help improve the soil.

Soon (hopefully) the chickens will begin laying eggs. EJ suggested that we might consider letting a few of the eggs hatch this time. We lost three hens over the winter. We shall see. I’ve never allowed the eggs to hatch before.

A couple of times this weekend we saw an eagle flying overhead. It’s always an awesome sight to see them. I love how the sunlight highlights their white head and tail feathers. I’d like to video them, but I haven’t managed it yet because they either quickly fly out of sight or they fly high enough that the camera doesn’t capture their beauty. Oh, well, one day.

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